thinglets: economic doom is a lie

For all of you crying the blues about an economic downturn, take some advice from the Canadian province of Manitoba. When the chips are down and people can't seem to make ends meet, there's a sure way to pump money into the economy while pumping your veins full of forget-your-troubles juice.

Manitobans break record for single-day liquor sales

"MLCC spokeswoman Diana Soroka said the holiday season accounts for 17 per cent of the province's annual liquor sales. And it will be another busy week in the lead-up to New Year's Eve, she said, adding customers seemed to be not only buying more liquor, but better liquor at this time of the year."

As a Canadian, it warms my heart to know the good citizens of Manitoba are not just drowning their consciouses in a cheap glass of ripple, but taking it to the next level all for the economy. With all the doom and gloom reporting that's been happening over the past few months, thake some time to raise a glass to Manitobans who know the best way to break an economic recession is to forget all about it.

booze record

lovehate: My Shopping Evolution

The world wide web has many positive and negative attributes not the least of which, both positive and negative, is eliminating my need and desire to ever visit brick and mortar stores again.
I remember growing up in a time when the Mall was the touchstone of all social and pop cultural advancement. As an early teen I could easily wander from checking out the freaky animals at the pet store to meeting a friend who worked at the record store (they were still called record stores then) to checking out the t-shirt shack, food court, music sections of department stores, book stores and basically wander around aimlessly for hours. This was all, of course, before driving was an option and before I was permitted to hop the bus downtown.
Upon gaining the bus permission, my browsing became refined. The downtown core held five record shops worth checking out on a weekly basis with at least two bookstores and two comic book shops. There were also a couple of television stores that carried the latest video game cartridges for Atari, Intellivision, Colecovision, and, a couple of years later, Commodore 64 software. This was the first time in my life I could feel ahead of the curve on things. This was the time I was reading magazines on video games, musical instruments, and collectibles. I knew when things were coming out a month in advance and could save up money for something I really wanted because I'd read the advance reviews.
The ability to drive and a growing experience at the specialized shops allowed me to winnow down my browsing even further. I knew the best stores to maintain my comic book collection, my sports card collection, my video game addiction and even had "frequent buyer" discounts on all the LPs and cassettes I bought. Each Friday night would be a comic and record run. Each Saturday would be sports cards and video games. I had it down to a system, and the only thing that killed the system was my burgeoning knowledge.
You see, I am, by nature, a collector. I have to get parts three and four if I've got parts one and two. I purchased comic book series far after they ever remained good just for the completist in me. I would buy every album a band put out if I liked the first one I bought. I would sometimes avoid a comic book series or novel series altogether if I'd missed the first one or two installments. I liked to get in on the ground floor... it was for this reason I eschewed coming in late to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and instead turned to the radical underground stylings of the Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters.


But knowledge is a costly thing. I soon found I could not keep up with everything I wanted to maintain this completist lifestyle and, as such, started to give up things altogether. I stopped buying comic books. I gave up hockey cards. I radically slowed down book buying. I focused on music and, while trying to keep up with growing PC options, the costs really put them out of my league. Besides, I had already learned how to tape over a notch in a 5.25" floppy in order to copy and recopy to my heart's content.
I moved into a time period where the only interest in any mall was books (more as a passing interest than a purchase) and music. And even then, the mp3 scene was bursting out with Napster and Gnutella clients. I had moved my browsing from windows and aisles onto web and ftp sites. I, essentially, forsook the mall.
I have the city's only worthwhile mall, by all accounts, a five minute walk from my house and I haven't been there in two years except to meet a friend at a restaurant inside. I remember renewing my license plate stickers two years ago at a kiosk just inside the doorway. I don't know or care to know any of the stores contained therein except for the ones with their illuminated signs emblazoned on the outside. I have been shopping online for over a decade. I remember pooling friends together to buy 500 blank CD-Rs and 1000 CD-R sleeves to get a discount rate. I research, discover, and comparison shop without leaving the comforts of home.

When I walk into the Brick & Mortar store these days, I feel out of place. I see people wandering around aimlessly looking at things and often feel that I should be doing so as well. I'll walk up and down the aisles looking at things I know about, don't want, and wonder why anyone would ever that price for it. When a sales clerk asks if I need help, I'll play the game and say, "No, I'm just looking." I don't want to make the clerks feel bad by letting them in on the fact that their jobs have become meaningless to me unless they have to unlock a display case. I try to make my Brick & Mortar experiences as long as possible to soak in the ritual that accompanies so many of the hoards that still shuffle aimlessly between the shelves.

In reality, but for checkout lines and slow debit machines, I should be out of any store in three minutes or less. I don't want the extended warranty. I don't want to upgrade to the "next" level. I don't want any advice from a clerk who's extent of technological knowledge is capped at chat clients and X-Box Live. CompUSA and Circuit City are victims of me and those like me who now have the tool to do the research, the comparison and often the purchase itself. Gone are the days of trusting a sales clerk to tell you if something is good. I've got a world of reviewers at my disposal and an endless supply of merchants willing to ship worldwide to my door.

Yesterday was Boxing Day in Canada, kind of like Black Friday in the US, and I haven't been there for years to take part. Even the online specials are almost meaningless. Unless I feel like a visceral cattle call in my near future, don't ever expect to see me rubbernecking the Brick & Mortars again. I've evolved.

the madding crowd

thinglets: the true meaning of xmas

From, 30 creative print ads for the holidays. I know that I can't get to sleep on the 25th if I don't feel my corporate pushers aren't sending warm consumer vibes my way. And for all of my contempt and cynicism I direct towards some companies throughout the year, kudos to artists and designers who have the thankless tasks of trying to make brand names and logos seem human.

thinglets: how I lost my sleep in Vegas

I never wanted to be the type of blogger who participated in the "lifecasting" movement, so, suffice to say, I will not be posting my entire itinerary of the last four nights in Las Vegas. I will say this much before I collapse from sleep deprivation for a long winter's nap. If, up on the house, there arises "such a clatter", and that clatter is loud enough to wake me, I'm going to the nearest Phoenix, Arizona, US of A Circle K convenience mart, buy a shotgun and teflon shredders, and go reindeer hunting. And that fat bastard better not be anywhere in sight, because red stands out anywhere. Napoleon thought that wearing it in battle would disguise his wounds. Maybe he could have avoided wounds if he didn't stand out like a bull's-eye on every muddy Euro-battlefield.

I will sum up Las Vegas as follows:

  1. The city should not be that cold, but they should learn that four inches of snow is a dusting, not life-changing.
  2. Low-limit poker is frustrating, but at least the players are fun.
  3. I was Blackjack's bitch... I said Vegas, not San Quentin you filthy-minded holiday readers.
  4. I will start playing more PaiGow.
  5. The full impact of four nights of 17 hours of combined sleep could be summed up by a researcher as follows: "The person deprived of sleep will find it difficult to concentrate. This will affect his performance at work and at household tasks. The person will also experience a lack of energy. He might not have the energy to complete everything he has to do during the day. The sleep-deprived person is likely to be quite irritable. This irritability is likely to damage personal and business relationships."
What do they know? Stupid morons! They can all kiss my ass!

Oh... and Merry Christmas (or Festivus) to all and to all a good night!

Santa Target

lovehate: Waiting in Style

I'll be the first to admit that I can be a pretty cheap bastard when it comes to most things. In ridiculous ways too - not at all consistent. I'll spend a bunch of time trying to get the best price for a room in Vegas, but won't balk at the hundreds of dollars I may lose in a session of blackjack. I will wait weeks for the right deal on a flight. Just recently I booked a short flight between Phoenix and Las Vegas as part of trip home after the holidays and waited two months for the price to go down from $59US to $41US... I probably lost money considering the Canadian dollar has crashed in that time.

What I have miserly with is the differences in decimals between gas stations. I almost always get my gas at one chain because it allows me to maximize my Flight Plan points which gets me a flight on a yearly basis. And this extra spending on gas (and dozens of other Point collecting techniques) has allowed me to fly - for the first time mind you - Air Canada's Executive Class to Las Vegas. More on this in a minute.

I arrived at the Toronto airport four hours in advance and, while this may seem ridiculous to many people, hoped I wouldn't have to endure repeated Bataan death marches of check-in, customs, carry-on scans, etc.. Much to my surprise the foot traffic at the airport was almost like a ghost town. With the amount of snow this area received last night, and expected to get tomorrow night, I thought there would be cattle calls of people wanting to get out ASAP. Apparently I was mistaken.

And so I find myself with near three hours to kill waiting for my flight to Las Vegas. Then I remember about the Executive Class booking. Such a booking has qualified me for admittance to the Terminal One Maple Leaf Club in the Toronto Airport. I feel like I've walked out an Amtrak station and onto the deck of the QE2.

Laid out before me is a quadruple spigot tap for pouring pints, about a dozen liquor bottles uptipped in shot positions, a cooler of every soft drink under the sun and a small group of people looking quite content. Not having a job where I can expense Executive flight upgrades, this world is foreign to me. It's almost too quiet. No announcements, sound-proofing, panoramic views of the runways... I feel like this is Eloi world that this lone Morlock has stumbled into. Mix me up a batch of soma-infused Freshie, I'll join the "club".

I never thought waiting at the airport could be so antiseptically-different from mixing it up with the embattled hordes jostling for room at the gates. Dear me, have I become elitist... maybe I'll come down to earth seven hours from now as I walk into my $50/night room at the Sahara on the Vegas Strip. I'll think back to the fond memories of free internet, free drinks, pomo stylings, and people who look too cool to care. Then I'll go down into the casino and see it all over again.

Tom Petty once opined, "the waiting is the hardest part." Surely he can get his agent to book him into Executive Class next time. C'mon Tom, you don't have to live like a refugee!

(PIC: not my Maple Leaf Club, but looks the same)