TGIBF

So here it is, Black Friday. One day we spend giving thanks for all that God has given us. The next day, we dedicate fully to complaining about how there’s entirely too much.

Let’s remember something, people. Black Friday isn’t a celebration of how greedy we all are. Black Friday is a celebration of how cheap we all are. The crowds camp out all night in the hopes of finding something far more elusive than a giant LCD flat screen or a Wii. Oh, no, the thing we covet more than any good or service is the almighty bargain. The stuff they’re selling on Black Friday has been there for quite some time. It’s the deal that is available only at 4 am. The stores aren’t packed at dawn because people want to revel in how much we have. No! We want to boast about how little we paid! We love getting stuff for as little as possible.
Look, I know it looks bad to see people camped out in front of a Best Buy. Sure it makes us look greedy to see shopping carts overflowing with swelling waves of retail crapola. But nobody would be complaining if this were National Garage Sale day. And you don’t think those people will wake up ridiculously early at the hopes of paying next to nothing for something of questionable value? If the day after the first Thanksgiving feast had been followed by a mass flea market bonanza, and that tradition had stuck, we wouldn’t find ourselves bemoaning the excesses of American consumption. Heck, if any day is marked by how much we consume, it’s Thanksgiving, is it not?
I’m convinced. We shouldn’t call it Black Friday. We should call it Frugal Friday. 
The hypocrisy of it all is that as we shake our heads in disgust at the stampeding herds of customers trampling over each other in the hunt for an off-brand digital photo frame, we hope they spend enough to give the economy a boost. We want to cast superior sneers at the shoppers (especially when we’re in line behind them), but we’re secretly praying for a retail boom and a boost of consumer confidence. It may be greed, it may be frugality–whatever it is, we hope it leads us to solid financial footing.
So don’t give in to the temptation to judge society based on one day or even one season of shopping habits. Weren’t we just giving thanks a few hours ago as we sat around tables that groaned beneath the seismic weight of homecooked hyperbole? Are we suggesting that God provided the food but Satan brought the blu-ray? Come on. Gratitude for what God has given should last at least as long as the leftover turkey.

New Blog

I know, it just doesn’t seem right. I’m barely able to keep this blog fresh, let alone the other (oh, crap, I don’t even want to count them) blogs I have suspended in lethargy. So why start a new one?

Because my friend wanted to start a new one, a blog that was mainly political . . . basically, it’s the blog you never talk about at parties. But you want us on that blog. You need us on that blog. We’ll try to keep it funny, fresh, and . . . for some reason I can’t think of a third F word that really fits.

So, we’ll both be contributing to it. I’m excited for a few reasons: The elections brought arguing back into fashion; I love distractions; I can free up this space to offend people in less traditional ways than religion and politics; But mostly I’m excited about yet another opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite people. She’s a gifted, sharp, wickedly talented writer and an all-around awesome human being.

I can’t promise a steady font of political commentary like we’re some sort of 24-7 news outlet. But when something major/controversial happens, you’ll know where to turn for an unexpected and irreverent take on the news . . . or the olds. We’ll keep you guessing like that.

So please, feel free to check out Satirically Correct at your leisure. Not much to look at yet, but it’ll get there.

November 25, 2008 question

This year, someone, somewhere is hurting. They’re about to lose their home, and you can help . . . yourself! Take advantage of the bad economy, and act now!!!!

Home prices have fallen back four years in the last three months. That’s faster than . . . it’s faster than Dorothy’s house came down in Oz–and just ask the Wicked Witch of the East, that was plenty fast. So . . . this is a rotten time to sell a house. But if you don’t own a house, and you’re about to move, rent an apartment, renew your lease, or make any other living decision that does not include buying a house . . . BUY A HOUSE! Do it now!

The winter is an excellent time to buy a house, because it’s naturally a slow-selling market to begin with. But an economic winter is an even better time to buy. It is not entirely unlikely that you can buy a house for less per month than what you’re about to pay in rent. So do it! Now! If you’re wondering what to get your co-worker for Christmas . . . buy her a house! Seriously, it’s worth a shot. At least take a look. There’s no reason for us all to suffer! Okay, here’s who knew that Garfield creator Jim Davis is the man behind the fur balls at Paws, Inc.:

Karen M (the M stands for Mondays Stink)
Karen H (the H stands for Hair Ball)
Neil
Kyle
Nancy K (the K stands for K-9 Hater)
Heidi

And here’s today’s spinoff question:

How many television series spun off of All in the Family (or spun off of its spin-offs)?

Bonus points if you can name them.

Hypocritical Holiday

Yeah, so maybe it’s a bit hypocritical of me to chastise Yahoo! for changing their look right when I’m set to give my own blog a facelift.

I’m okay with that.
Because all of a sudden, I’m in a Christmas kind of mood. So the holiday tunes are a-playin’, the wintry colors are overtakin’, and the apostrophes are invadin’. And Addison is suddenly speaking Canadian. Here’s a sample:
“So, I’m wearing my Devin Hester jersey today, and I think I’ll wear it tomorrow, too, eh?”

November 24, 2008 question

Fear not, trivia nation, no matter how bad the economic crisis may get, we will never run out of Mondays. How’s that for looking on the bright side, huh?

Here’s today’s question:

The artist of what comic strip founded the company Paws, Inc.?

And here’s who knew that tunnel connects Italy and Switzerland:

Charles
Karen M (the M stands for Munich Is Not In Switzerland)
Karen H (the H stands for Hopes The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Isn’t A Supernova)

Great job, all of you. Or at least, the three of you.

November 21, 2008 question

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 100 years since Einstein proposed his theory of relativity, the equation everybody knows and no one understands . . . until now. A team of scientists professes to have proven the groundbreaking theorem using a massive block of supercomputers and a fun little game they call chromodynamics. I don’t pretend to understand it any more than I understand the economy, but as the Internets have explained it to me, only 5% of the mass of an atom comes from the actual particles that comprise its structure. The other 95% of the perceived mass comes from the energy that binds the subatomic particles together. Einstein’s theory proposed that energy and mass were equivalent and somehow interchangeable (correct me if I’m wrong, please). People have bought the idea for a long time, but now it’s undisputed, signed, sealed, delivered . . . it’s yours.

I always wondered about this. I was taught that if an atom was enlarged to the size of a football field, the nucleus would be the size of a flea resting at the 50-yard line. I never understood how there could be that much empty space between the center of an atom and the electrons circling it. By that rationale, most of what we call solid matter would, in fact, be . . . nothing. But according to Einstein’s theory and the ramifications of what I’m reading, as pathetically as I understand it, we are more energy than matter . . . more soul than substance, if you will. If the metaphysical implications don’t get your brain working and wondering about the nature of our existence and the faultiness of humanistic and naturalistic thought, then I don’t know what will. And doesn’t the nerd in you wonder how long it can be, now that Einstein has been proved right, before George Lucas’s theory of midichloreans is proved right as well?

FOR THOSE OF YOU SCROLLING DOWN PAST THE NONSENSE, STOP HERE. 🙂

Here’s today’s question:

What two countries are connected by the Simplon Tunnel that runs through the Alps?

And here’s who knew that a barrel of oil is 42 gallons:

Karen M (the M stands for Me And Only Me)

Congrats!!

What Happened to Yahoo!?


Over the 15 or so years I’ve been using the Internet, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing my favorite pages undergo changes, tweaks, and massive overhauls. But there is almost always some indication given by the Web site–some warning, some note, some acknowledgment given to draw my attention to what the change is and why it was made.

Yahoo!, the longstanding bridesmaid to Google’s bride, has for the past year or so been the target of a potential Microsoft buyout. But I haven’t really cared about their financial troubles, because I just like their page. I like how they organize information. I like the look of it. I like the . . . je ne sais Yahoo! of it all.
But this morning, I woke up to this new layout . . . and I hate it. 

I can’t even look at it. I’m not even willing to try it out. It reminds me of AOL, which I despise, but mostly I’m offended because there was no warning. There is no mention of what they’re doing or why. There is no little link saying, “Why has my page changed?” or “Go back to old Yahoo!” It’s just a radically different page with zero communication about what the crap is going on. Is it a test? Was I randomly selected? I don’t know. And considering I visit the page compulsively about 15 times a day, there is no way I missed the memo.
Sorry, Yahoo! You had me, then you lost me. It’s time to hand in your exclamation point. You’re done.

Redbox


The first time I heard of Redbox, I thought it was a business model doomed to fail. DVD rental for a dollar made absolutely no sense to me. Yeah, I knew they could operate with a fraction of the work force of a Blockbuster. Yes, it removed the postal fees from the Netflix equation. And yes, they could get by carrying fewer titles than either competitor. But how could they make money?

Then I rented from Redbox. Four days later when we returned our first movie, it hit me. Redbox is pure genius.
By taking your credit card info, they don’t ever have to hassle you about paying late fees or returning movies. Frankly, they don’t care if you do . . . you pay a dollar a day and will end up buying the movie for $25 dollars if you keep it that long, and they’ll still think of you fondly.
And if you go to their Web site, you’ll see what clever geniuses they are, too. While you’ll never see a single employee face to face, the site does a brilliant job of communicating clearly and–shockingly enough–personally. They get the idea across in two- to three-word sentences for the benefit of those with no attention spans, they overcommunicate to those for whom the most common knowledge is far from intuitive, and they supply a steady string of tongue-in-cheek jabs to keep their wiser customers laughing instead of feeling like the brunt of school-marm condescension. 
The beauty of Redbox is, allegiance isn’t required. You don’t need to be a member to be a customer. You can sneak a quick Redbox flick from time to time, and your friends at Blockbuster and Netflix never have to know. You can sneer at the cheery, cherry vending machine . . . but if you get the urge to spend a buck on Kung Fu Panda, you can snatch it while you wait for the mailman to bring you the next installment of The Wire
Hooray for you, Redbox. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.