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New Signs of the Times

Have we hit bottom? Probably...and we're just bouncing along for a while. Why do I say this? Because signs of the times suggest some things are improving, while others are not.

Here are some signs that I've noticed. Please send me yours.

Empty GM Dealership
Photo: Jane Wells
Empty GM Dealership

Good sign:

This empty GM lot I took a photo of in March of 2009 is now partially occupied by a Vespa dealership.

Good and bad signs:

Retail analyst Brian Sozzi at Wall Street Strategies sees both hope and despair in retail advertising.

He sees a good sign in a three-page pullout Ralph Lauren has in the April Vanity Fair "showcasing one of its highest priced labels." However, other retailers aren't pushing luxury yet, but value. "Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor emphasized price" in their Vanity Fair ads.

Gap store window
Photo: Brian Sozzi
Gap store window

Sozzi also snapped this picture of a GAP store near CNBC headquarters highlighting price as the selling point.

"If we had truly turned the corner, that promo wouldn't be in place. Maybe a promo on quality or fit of product."

Finally, a bad sign:

Airport security doesn't seem to be getting much more efficient or logical.

My friend Jason Jepson sent me this photo of a TSA sign from an unnamed airport in the middle of the country banning snow globes.

TSA sign banning snowglobes
Photo: Jason Jepson
TSA sign banning snowglobes

Turns out, it's not a gag.

On the TSA web site, the agency says, "Snow globes and like decorations regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation," are banned from carryon luggage.

Snow globe as weapon?

What's next?

Or, as one sarcastic friend put it, "How long until they ban other artificial globes?"

Don't laugh. Could happen.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com