Thursday, December 15, 2011

Elf on the Shelf - MWAHAHAHA > : ~>

OMG this post was awesome! I don't have an Elf on the Shelf. I've never heard of Elf on the Shelf before this year. I don't think I would have gotten one when the kids were younger even if I knew about them. I can't keep up with myself, let alone an elf. I'd have to do the coma thing like she suggested, which would actually be just fine because it would work in nicely with my plan.

Yes, my plan. I figure when the kids grow up they will end up in therapy for one reason or another, right? And it will somehow be all "mom's" fault, right? So why not deserve the blame if I'm going to get it anyway, right?!' Seriously, that's my plan. No, I mean it, seriously, that's my plan!

I think I'm going to get an Elf on the Shelf after all... MWAHAHAHA! > : ~>

Bah Humbug Santa - You Big Miser!!!

I recently read an article about how awful it is that Santa is having to lower the expectations of the kids who are visiting him this year as the economy continues to lay dormant. I wanted to smack the author right in the forehead. Gah, seriously? The article actually starts off with the line "Now this is just sad." and ends with the line "America will have a blue Christmas, indeed." [Click here to read it for yourself.]

Oh, PUH-LEASE!!! We've been living in an era of such extreme overindulgence! Is it really a bad thing for kids to "lower" their material expectations? Why do we give gifts at Christmas time anyway? For some it’s about celebrating the Christian Holy Day and the gifts of the Magi and all. For some it’s a special time to let family and friends know we care. For others it's a time to show off how much money we have to spend on THINGS... material THINGS!

What happened to the spirit of the holiday anyway? How much does a parent have to spend to "love" their kid enough? Love doesn't come from a store. Whatever happened to giving gifts from the heart? Some of my favorite things are those that people have taken the time to make for me: chocolate chip cookies baked by my mother-in-law, fun desserts created my neighbor like ding-dong cake, clay pinch pots made at school, the oven pad hand-stitched by my sister-in-law that I have on display rather than use for fear of staining it, the wreath crafted by my sister that I hang on my front door year after year, my cute snowman hand-knit by my daughter, the adorable miniature BBQ my son made a few years ago out of an altoid tin, nuts, bolts and other odds and ends. Those gifts are much more meaningful and memorable.

Though I relish no family struggling in these dire economic times, it is long overdue for all of us to re-evaluate our materialism and the reasons we give. I say 'Go Santa,' don't promise the kiddies everything they want, but rather what they need: love, happiness, and appreciation for family and friends, along with a reasonable dose of store bought treasures. I mean, even I have to admit I'd really "love" a Kindle ; ), but gift-giving should be meaningful, not a retail-driven competition.

When do you think it's too much?

Parking on a Dime


Nope, this is not a review about some fancy car with fancy whistles and bells that pulls into a parallel parking space for you and parks on a dime in one seamless manuever!

So this guy walks into a police station in Nebraska and leaves an old parking ticket issued back in 1954 along with a dime to pay the 10 cent fine! He didn't leave his name, but did say he found it among his mother's things. I'm guessing he was worried about the interest and late fees that might be piled on top of the original fine. If the IRS had anything to do with it, the guy would end being sued for millions, LOL!

What I find most striking about the ticket is the wording. Perhaps if we were return to this type of general civility toward one another there might not be so much rage in the world. In fact, isn't there an entire cable show dedicated to the outrageous behavior of people who receive parking tickets? "Parking Wars" or something? Of course, to be fair, television show producers of today certainly do add fuel to the fire in order to create a sensationalistic reaction... good ratings are more important than civility, right?

I think it would definetely take the sting out of paying your parking ticket, however, if you were asked so nicely to help out!

To Eat or Not To Eat?

That is the question, but first a little background before my impending rant.

Recently a woman (30 weeks pregnant) and her husband were arrested in Honolulu after not paying for a sandwich the woman ate while shopping at her local Safeway. The couple, with their 2-year old daughter in tow, walked to the store to do their shopping. Mom began to feel faint so she grabbed a sandwich, ate it while continuing to shop, and forgot to present the wrapper to the cashier at checkout. Both mom and dad were then arrested and their daughter was taken away. The separation lasted 18 hours. Okay, wow... seems a bit of an over-the-top reaction right there, IMHO, but that isn't what's 'gnawing' at me today. Rather it's this whole concept of whether or not it's okay to eat food in the grocery store before you've paid for it.

Is it really that difficult to fight the urge to munch on the groceries in the cart before you pay for them? What other items do we use or consume BEFORE paying? Hospitality and some services come to mind; hotels, restaurants, medical care, just to name a few, but a grocery store does not fall into any of those categories. We don't pick out a new pair of pants and wear them to the register expecting the clerk to ring "us" up, literally. We don't grab a new CD and start listening to it on the way to checkout and expect the clerk to scan the empty case. We don't put on a fresh coat of nail-polish at the local drugstore and expect the clerk to total the sale while our nails dry. So why do we eat food in the grocery store as we shop? Poor planning? Bad etiquette? Indulgence?

I know, I know, busy schedules and all of that, but really? When I see an adult open up a bag of chips for themselves in the store I shake my head and wonder why they can't simply wait until they get home or, at the very least, out to their car. When I see an adult open a box of crackers for a child, I really have to wonder again why a child can't also learn to wait. What are we teaching our children when we squelch them with food?

I can't say I never held snack time during car rides, in fact, I'm certain I did, especially when running around after the older ones with the younger in tow. However, I know for a fact we never had snack time in the grocery store, or any store for that matter, with food brought from home or plucked from the shelf. We planned accordingly or simply waited. I'm sure that exceptions could be argued, such as an emergency or other intervening/extenuating circumstances, but generally speaking, I think it's in poor taste (pun intended), unless, of course, the grocery store is providing samples. In that case Bon App├ętit!

Life Is Not Fare ; )

I say 'good for you' to the Church of God in Christ Holy Convocation Convention running in St. Louis this week. The convention, which will bring approximately 35,000 people downtown to the America's Center, is using its own system of volunteers to drive shuttlebuses, vans, mini-vans and private cars to shuttle convention-goers.

I say 'good for you' for being resourceful, and I would also argue environmentally friendly. The St. Louis region does not have a very well developed public transportation system, making us car-dependent; such a shame. So if this church community can rally its own volunteers from within to provide its own mass transportation thus cutting down on traffic and oil-consumption, why not? Well, the taxi-cab drivers aren't happy about it. They seem to think they should be ENTITLED to the fares for those needing transportation.

They aren't ENTITLED to anything, so go put that in your tailpipe and smoke it!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Friday (or Black Thursday?)

Black Friday... what an ironic name. It's supposed to be a "positive" moniker, but I relish the fact that it has a very gloom and doom sound to it! In fact, it makes me think of Black Tuesday in Oct. '29, when the stock market crashed and all hell broke loose. Can you tell I'm not a fan? Actually, up until this year, I really didn't care about Black Friday (BF) one way or the other. What made me choose sides this year was all the stores that think it's necessary to open at midnight, if not earlier, on Thanksgiving in order to "stay competitive" (that was the reason given by the big cheese at Target).

Seriously? How does this make these stores more competitive? How is this going to add to their bottomline? It's always all about the bottomline, isn't it?

Like I said, I'm not a shopper, and especially not a Black Friday shopper, but if I were I think I'd be kinda pissed. Most BF shoppers I know make an event out of the kick-off to the holiday shopping season. They strategically plan their route based on the specials being offered by the different stores. Somewhere midday when their dogs are barking and their stomachs growling they enjoy a celebratory lunchfeast along the way, and then it's back to the trenches.

Now these diehard BF shoppers will face a dilemma this year. Do they hit the midnight sales and keep going until breakfast when they can no longer keep their eyes open? Do they hit one midnight sale, catch 40 winks and then hit the ground running again just as the sun begins to peep over the horizon? Or do they put in a 12 to 18 hour marathon spree pushing through until lunch or perhaps even dinner? And in the end, will they actually buy more than they would have had the stores waited until the typical 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. opening times or about the same amount?

If they choose to hit the midnight sales, will they leave the Thanksgiving table early? Will they get any sleep before venturing out? Do you or I, or anyone for that matter, want to be on the road that night or anytime the next day with people driving around in zombie like states from being awake anywhere between 24 and 36 hours? If you've ever been up for that many hours straight, you know how foggy your thinking becomes and how dulled your reaction times. And what about sharing the road with drunk drivers leaving the bars at 2:00 a.m.?

We live in a litigation-happy society. Wanna places bets on how long it will take for the first lawsuit to be filed against the stores for an accident that was caused by the sleeplessness of the crazed BF shoppers? And how about crime? Under the cover of darkness, with trunks laden down with all sorts of MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT goodies, won't criminals just have a heyday?

All this fun, and I haven't even touched on the impact on employees. The other morning on the radio two hosts were debating the issue. One felt it wasn't fair to the employees, the other essentially said 'suck it up', plenty of people work the holidays such as the police and the military. I can agree with her on that... also working are folks at hotels, hospitals and some restaurants. HOWEVER, when you sign-on for those jobs, working the holidays and even overnight comes with the territory, you expect it, and you know that sometimes you'll get the holiday shift and sometimes you won't. You arrange your sleeping schedule to coincide with your work schedule. Your family and friends expect it too and will make adjustments as well.

But now you have all of these retail employees that have taken jobs at places that have day and evening hours, who now are being called in to work an overnight shift that does NOT come with the territory. While police, fire, hospitals and other public services are necessary around the clock, I would argue that retail stores are not serving a greater purpose by opening overnight. The employees, for fear of losing their jobs by-and-large, are going to work these shifts whether they want to or not. How many of them are going to sleep through Thanksgiving day vs. staying awake for 24 hours? I wouldn't want to share the road with them either, would you?

The bottomline is this... GREED and the retailers are preying on our senstivity to the "weak economy" as their excuse to play this silly little game. I hope, I really truly hope, that some or all of the following happens:
  • people don't abandon their families at the holidays in the name of a "good deal"
  • people avoid shopping at the stores that are playing this game, at least on Black Friday
  • people hit one midnight special and then go home until morning, making these stores 'ghost towns' during the overnight hours
  • the stores end up paying more in salaries and overhead costs than they make on sales from midnight to 6:00 a.m.
And last but not least, I hope beyond hope that no one is trampled in a store, that no employees are injured by rushing crowds, that no serious accidents or loss of life occur as a result of 'zombie' drivers, and that the retailers reevaluate their decision and declare this experiment a bust.