Random thoughts on some random topics, business and otherwise:

I don't know about you, but I don't like the business of Christmas.

Let me explain. I don't have any problem with businesses selling items for Christmas or even giving or receiving presents.

It's the hype and the promotion surrounding the holiday that I can't stand.

Example: How many cheesy Christmas television commercials do we have to watch during the holiday season? Some of them are clever, but most of them are just plain dumb. And the networks run them over and over and over again until your mind feels like it's been waterboarded.

A few observations:

I know it's that time of year, but I don't care if the Hess truck is here.

I can live without Kohl's cash.

I'm hoping those moving carolers don't follow me into a department store.

Interesting to see Santa Claus moonlighting as "Nick" the car salesman during the holidays. Things must be a little tight financially this year up at the North Pole.

It's sad to see Michael Bolton selling cars, though. I've never been a big fan of his music, but Bolton comes from my hometown, and I saw him when he was starting out (he was quite a rocker before going mainstream. If you don't believe me listen to his first album, if you can find it, which was released under Bolton's real name, Michael Bolotin).

To me, "cue the Bolton" must be what it was like watching Sitting Bull perform in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show.


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With apologies to the great Jimmy Buffett, he went to Jared looking for answers to questions that bothered him so...

I didn't go to Jared this year. And, I don't plan to.

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The older I get, the more I realize that Christmas is about giving not receiving. There are some holiday television commercials that reflect that sentiment. I think the jewelry store commercial where the boy takes a handful of change and puts it on the counter, and the salesperson looks at his dad who shows her a credit card is cute.

You can also find the spirit of Christmas in everyday things that happen in the Berkshires. The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority deserves kudos for accepting food and personal items, in place of cash, for the residents of Soldier On, the organization that provides housing, food and other services for homeless military veterans in Pittsfield. An estimated 870 riders donated items.

Last Tuesday, the Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded a total of $26,000 to the county's 26 food pantries meaning each distribution center received $1,000.

For the 10th straight year, the Rotary Club of Pittsfield donated dictionaries to third-grade students who attend public schools in Pittsfield and Richmond. A total of 504 dictionaries were handed out.

Nice presents for the holidays considering so many Berkshire residents are struggling to make ends meet.

Here's a unique way to earn an MBA while giving back.

The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is offering a full-time MBA Fellowship program that provides students with two years of full financial support, health care and an annual stipend.

In exchange, students enrolled in the program will receive the opportunity to grow professionally by helping the Isenberg School handle its strategic and operational challenges.

The Isenberg School is facing administrative and managerial challenges keeping up with more than 5,000 students and its 42,000 graduates who live in 72 countries. These tasks require a spectrum of managerial skills, so those in the MBA fellowship program will be given the opportunity to apply their strengths and expand their skill sets in competitive analysis, strategic planning, financial analysis, marketing and operations on the Isenberg School's behalf.

Sounds like a worthwhile tradeoff considering the Isenberg School's full-time MBA program is the sixth most upwardly mobile program in the national rankings over the last four years, according to U.S. News & World Report. It currently ranks 51st in the nation, and 24th among public universities. It's also ranked 10th in the nation in Princeton Review's Best Classroom Experience category.

For information contact Allison Furkey at (413) 545-5695, afurkey@isenberg .umass.edu; or Patrick J.
Callahan at (413) 545-0444, pjcall @admin.umass .edu.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at tdobrowolski @berkshireeagle.com