11/26/2014

Pardon Me While I Showcase My Inner Curmudgeon

But what on earth is up with shopping on Thanksgiving?

Over the last several years I've seen all the online "protests" but I have to admit, I haven't paid a whole lot of attention because, frankly, it seemed like much ado about nothing. None of the ads I was getting had any Thursday hours (or if they did, they were 11pm for the crazy people who got up silly early to get black Friday deals anyway.) But today, I brought in our "mail" (honestly, the box out in front of our house seems to serve solely as a way for people I don't know to send me things I don't want. I miss real mail.) and all it contained were ads. Not overly surprising. But these ads were all for Thursday deals. Starting at 11am in some cases.

This is beyond a tad ridiculous for a number of reasons.

First up (and most importantly), it grieves me that our country as a whole has gone so far out of alignment that when you say Christmas, all they think of is "gifts." And I'd venture to say that better than 50% of the people thinking of gifts are thinking of what they hope to get, not what they're looking forward to giving. At least with the latter, there's some element of the memory of the Christ-child in there, seeing as how He is God's gift to us. But really, it was annoying enough when it was all just Santa this and Santa that. But good grief, does  no one actually remember what we're meant to be celebrating on December 25th? Cause it's not greed and crass commercialism!

Second, I don't understand how, with the debt problem that so many Americans have, these deals make any sense. You make a (sane) list of the gifts you want to give in order to celebrate Christ's birth. You price them out. You allot the money in your budget to cover said purchases. You buy them, wrap them, and give them. If you can't afford them, you revise the list. Now maybe you scan the ads to see if there's a deal on one of the items you've already decided to buy, but you don't scan the ads so that you can be whipped into a frenzy of "Oh my lands! It's a savings of 65%! I must have it! I must have ten of them!!" If you weren't going to buy it initially, then it shouldn't matter how much it is or isn't on sale.

Finally, I don't see the purpose in asking people to go open stores and work registers on a day we're meant to be spending being thankful for what we already have so that you can indulge your shopping demons. Honestly. The deals will be the same, most likely, the next day. Or the day after that. And even if they're not? See the second reason above. If you're actually budgeting and buying with sanity first and foremost in your mind, then there's no reason to go participate in such ridiculousness. Yes, sure, I'm sure the people working are getting paid extra and maybe that's a boon for them -- but I'm also sure that's the argument the stores (who are making more than anyone in this deal) are trotting out. I'm guessing with all the other extended hours this season of irresponsible consumerism brings with it, the folks who work in retail aren't getting shorted overly in their chance to make a little extra dosh for their own purchasing privilege.

Stay home tomorrow. Eat some turkey (or whatever your preferred dish is) with your family. And take the time to be thankful for the fact that you have the opportunity to do both of those things. Save the shopping for another day.

11/25/2014

A Day Early

So today I managed to complete my Thanksgiving shopping. A whole day earlier than I usually manage to get it done. Though I forgot the pies, so I'll still have to head out tomorrow to get pie.

Why don't I, who love to bake, make my own pies, you ask? Because the extended family gripes about my pies and prefers store bought ones. It's the same reason that I don't bother making fancy dressing/stuffing from scratch anymore either. Everyone prefers StoveTop. I try to save my efforts for things that are appreciated and worthwhile.

This year, we're even buying a smoked turkey (mostly because we wanted to try it and our grill's been out of commission for going on two years now so doing it ourselves was out of the question.)

I'm hoping that means Thanksgiving proper will be a low stress for me on the cooking front. The rest of the day, well, stress-free isn't likely.

11/24/2014

"We have 700 customers"

I have a love-hate relationship with our lawn care company.

On the one hand, I love that they mow the lawn for us so that I don't have to 1) hear the husband gripe about having to do it, 2) have him spend four hours every Saturday during the season doing so (our yard isn't big, but it's got an insane hill and it just seems to take forever if you want to do it safely) and 3) Have him be miserable the rest of the day and into the next because, oh yeah, he's really allergic to grass.

On the other hand, they complain. A lot.

See, having children, we have things like toys out in the back yard. Go figure. Now, I make sure that the small stuff is up and on the patio the night before they're scheduled to come. But we have a jungle gym thing that really isn't tough to move if you're a man but is a bit of a pain for me to get out the way. I try to remember to have hubby move it, but if that doesn't happen, it should be easy enough for them to do it as they mow. And they will. But they gripe. And we get a nasty note at the bottom of our invoice.

And then the leaves start to fall. Most of the time, the way we're situated, the wind blows the leaves down into the gully at the bottom of our property. So there aren't that many. And really, we're fine if they want to just mow over them (they mulch mow) and call it a day. But they have a moral objection to doing that. I think this is less because they're concerned about our yard and more because they want to sell us leaf removal at $35/hour. After the fist time we got a note on our door saying "No mow. Rake leaves." (Really does it take so much longer to form non-declarative sentences that feel polite when your customer reads them? Apparently, yes. And it's not an ESL issue, these are actual English-speaking Americans.) I gave the office a call. We went round and round and finally agreed that we'd be sure to have all but whatever happened to fall between Sunday night and Monday (our scheduled day) handled. And so it was okay for a bit...until it rained two weeks ago. On a Monday.

We'd picked up the leaves. We were ready. But it was raining. So fine, you can't mow in the rain. I get that! But what would be good customer service, I think, is to send an email (I'm great with email!) or a phone call and say, "Hey, Monday customer, we'll be working you in and plan to be there on Wednesday." or whatever day you plan to hit us. That way, hey, we can get the leaves that the rain knocked down taken care of.

But no such communication happened. And I came home from being out with the boys on Wednesday to another "No mow. Rake leaves" note. And then...nothing. Two weeks of nothing. Two weeks of getting the lawn ready for Monday and then...nothing. On Friday, hubby caved and authorized leaf clean up to try and avoid my annoyance and frustration. (Not with him, but with the lawn in general.)

Fast-forward to today, the Monday after authorizing leaf removal when all should, once more, be right with the world so that I can stop having to deal with these people. No show. Huh? So I called up and, it turns out, that random Wednesday when they came out was supposed to be our last mow. (Nice to know...nicer to know THEN.) They weren't planning to return. So I mentioned how it would've been nice to know that -- especially since they didn't do what we needed done on the day they randomly showed up that wasn't our day so we weren't ready for them and he says to me, "Ma'am, we have 700 customers." Which was his justification for why it's impossible to notify people of when they're being rescheduled.

So fine...I get that, sort of (in today's technological age, I see no reason why they can't very easily email everyone. It takes hardly any time to make a group email alias and even less to send out a mass email when it's raining, but whatever.) So I ask when they can come, since we were expecting them today, and after some off-speaker conversation he comes back with sometime next week or the week after.

Well...we'll be putting our Christmas decorations out on Friday. So if they can't make it before then, I guess our yard will just be long through the winter. The few leaves that are there, I can rake myself before the nativity goes up. And as for their 700 customers...well, it might just be 699 next year.

11/23/2014

The weekends always seem busier than the weeks.

I guess maybe this is a normal thing when one has offspring, I don't know. All I know is that by Sunday night, I'm more tired than I am on Friday night and I'm already looking forward to the week so I can, hopefully, do a little recovering.

Total switch from when I worked for the man.

11/20/2014

Oh the Naivete!

So apparently there's one arm of the Sleepy family that leans to the left. Like really, really far to the left. This became semi-apparent in 2008 and only continues to get more and more ridiculous. I'd like to say that they're into social justice and have good hearts but...really I think they just represent the idiocy of people who don't bother to think beyond lunch tomorrow.

Regardless, one of the cousins posted today a link to some former military person's petition for "executive action" on immigration because he's part of a family with "mixed status" and apparently one of the few who have actually managed to have a family member detained for being in the country illegally. And so he's asking for the president to circumvent 200 years of the rule of law and instead govern by fiat. Of course, Obama's no stranger to doing that, so I suppose it's not hugely unreasonable to want to ask him to do it again. And given his propensity for doing just that, I suspect it'll happen regardless of what sane minds would want.

But what had me shaking my head was the supposed rationale for this additional clemency for those poor people who find themselves running afoul of the law because they chose to stay in a country after their permission to do so ended. Apparently, letting these people stay and become citizens will somehow give us billions of dollars of income tax revenue in just one year.

Now, I ask you...do people honestly believe that a group of people who have no problem flagrantly violating the law by staying in a country illegally and dishonestly (and pretty it up with whatever term you want, if you are in a country after your allotted visiting/school/work time has ended, you are there ILLEGALLY and not leaving is DISHONEST) -- but those people who have no problem being scoff laws as far as residency, when given clemency and a chance to stay are suddenly going to be honest, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens?

Riiiiight. That's what's going to happen.

11/19/2014

Oh, Barbie.

So apparently there was a book about Barbie being a computer engineer published in 2010 that ended up being the topic de jour in my Facebook feed today. Why did it take four years to be noticed? Well, it's a Barbie book so I'm guessing that it's not generally being read by hundreds of thousands of people. Mattel has apologized.

I was considering putting my own two cents in about how that book should look, but in actuality, there's a site where you can improve the book yourself. And this is one delightful use of said site. So really, my work here is done.

I will go ahead and add my voice to the many others out there, however, who have to wonder how Mattel--even in 2010--managed to allow such a thing to be published. It's hard enough for women in the sciences (and in computer science in particular.) Do we really need Barbie playing into the stereotypes? I mean, sure, it's nice that she's *trying* to design a computer game, but do we even have to go so far as to assume that games designed by girls have cute, fluffy robot puppies in them? I mean, really. If you look at the game design world and the kick-ass women who work in that field, they're not all about the fluffy robot puppies. (I suppose it's nice that it wasn't a heavily endowed, bikini-clad robot puppy, but perhaps that's a post for another day. Because as far as sexism goes, the game industry has a way to come themselves if they want to move out of the era of misogyny.)

But more to the point, in my mind, I continue to wonder why we look to things (things! As in TOYS!) like Barbie to be role models for our children. Can they help teach good manners and morals. Sure. Should they be role models? No. Especially when there are so many fabulous REAL role models that you can use if you want to take the time to talk to your kids and encourage them to read outside the sphere of this week's hot toy.

So, without further ado, a brief list of suggestions for role models to investigate if you're looking to encourage your daughter in the sciences. (And yes, I'm being lazy and linking to Wikipedia, but you can find better, deeper resources from there and it's a handy place to get an idea bout whether or not you care to explore further.)

The point is...we don't need Barbie if we're looking for inspiring influences for women in science. They're already out there, working, innovating, and combating the ridiculous stereotype that Barbie perpetuates in the first place.

The next Barbie book I hope they publish? Barbie Gets Medically Necessary Breast Reduction Surgery to Save Her Back.

11/18/2014

Some days...

It really just doesn't feel worth it to have gotten out of bed in the morning.

Grump. Grump. Grump.

That is all.