Tag Archives: nablopomo

National Blog Posting Month

On Consumerism

The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It has been referred to as “Black Friday” since at least 1966 (according to Wikipedia) because of “massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks” as shops were “mobbed from opening to closing.”

The Friday after Thanksgiving is also known to some as Buy Nothing Day, a day of protest against consumerism, which can be observed simply by staying home and eating leftovers. However, there are other ways to protest consumerism that will also save your sanity and perhaps even the environment. It is the perfect day to take a stand against junk mail.

A while back, I was fed up with the amount of junk mail that I was doing nothing with but moving from my mailbox to the recycling bin (through the paper shredder, when appropriate.) I did some research and found a few steps that cut it down dramatically. Here’s what I did:

  1. Opted out of pre-screened credit card offers. I used the FTC’s online form for this.
  2. Opted out of grocery ads. These usually come with a small postcard with a return address. A few moments of Googling for the sender usually sent me in the right direction to find an unsubscribe form.
  3. Put myself on the postal equivalent of the Do Not Call list. I used the DMA’s online form for this.

Now I hardly get any unsolicited mail, except when the postal carrier puts my neightbor’s grocery ads into my box by mistake. I know that some people watch their grocery ads religiously, clipping coupons and planning routes to score the best deals. That’s too much work for me. I will usually just go to the neighborhood supermarket on my way home, grab the few items that I’ll need for dinner, and be done with it.

Speaking of coupons, the self-checkout at the supermarket usually spits out a few coupons when I scan my customer loyalty card. By now, their database thinks it has me pretty well figured out: I get coupons for sinus pills and nutrition drinks. This supermarket’s loyalty card is the only one that I use anymore, and even then, I don’t carry it with me, as I can simply enter my phone number into the self checkout machine to get the discount. I used to carry dozens of loyalty cards, but that changed very recently.

Normally, retail outlets try to make it easy and convenient to subscribe to their loyalty card programs. You give your phone number to the cashier, who associates it with a card by swiping it against the scanner. You then fill out a postcard with your name and address and give it back to the cashier, or mail it in later.

I visited one shop that didn’t do it this way. They decided to eliminate the postcard. This may have been intended as some sort of cost cutting gesture or something; I don’t know. The result was that that I was required to spell my e-mail and street address, aloud, to the cashier. A frustrating and pointless waste of time for both of us.

As a result, I vowed two things: to never again visit that shop AND to never sign up for antother customer loyalty card. I would also throw away the cards I already had. And why shouldn’t I? Most of them were for shops that I rarely visited, though I received no shortage of e-blasts from each of them to inform me of this sale or that special offer— most of which I deleted unread. So I went through my inbox and clicked the Unsubscribe link in each and every one. Now the only e-blasts I get are of the shady sort that have no Unsubscribe links.

Another benefit of disposing with the loyalty cards is that my wallet is once again comfortably flat— the stack of cards to be destroyed was nearly an inch high.

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving: a day to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest, or a day to celebrate gluttony? While I certainly did indulge in the latter, let it not be said that I omitted the former. While there are endless other quotidians for which I am grateful, I shall not bore you by listing them here. Instead, let me share something that I found, which expresses a kind of gratitude normally reserved only for the more patriotic holidays.

For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought — no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings; no claims for my limbs; no lashes for my back; no fires for my flesh; no following another’s steps; no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love:

  • To all the heroes, the thinkers, who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain
  • For the freedom of labor and thought
  • To those who fell on the fierce fields of war
  • To those who died in dungeons bound with chains
  • To those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs
  • To those by fire consumed
  • To all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons and daughters of men and women

And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they have held, and hold it high, that light may conquer darkness still.

Robert G. Ingersoll

Via Cthulhu’s Family Restaurant

No, Thanks, My Arms Are Tired

Today was apparently “Opt-Out Day,” upon which air travelers are to choose to have their goods manhandled rather than being blasted with radiation and leered at by someone in a frosted glass booth. I’ve heard, though, that most people are still taking the scan over the pet-down, some out of a sense of futility with the protest, many out of squeamishness, and most are simply in a hurry.

I suspect that after this token protest, the traveling public will simply accept the backscatter scanners and the personal searches as just another inconvenience to be endured in order to enjoy the convenience of air travel. We have adapted to shoe inspection, three ounce liquids, random friskings, and on and on in the name of security. People show up to the airport in muscle shirts, shorty-shorts and flip flops. Nothing up our sleeves, pants, or shoes.

And everything will be fine until some loony walks into the airport with a stick of dynamite up his keester. From then on, we’d probably have to change into paper gowns after checking our bags, then to undergo an examination by a proctological specialist or a full-power X-ray. And I doubt my health insurance would cover that.

Now Reading

Now Reading: Emergence by John H. Holland

Just Finished: Machine of Death by Ryan North

Imagine, if you will, a world in which a mysterious machine can determine, by analyzing the tiniest drop of blood, exactly how anyone will die. Not when, not where, just how. Now imagine that the infallible machine suffers from the perversity of the inanimate. It may print someone a ticket that says OLD AGE, but the recipient may meet his end at the hands of a senior citizen. Or it may simply pronounce a mysterious doom such as EXPLOSION, ALMONDS or GOVERNMENT.

Machine of Death is a collection of stories imagining this world. Each author imagines the machine and its effects just a bit differently from the others. Some readers may find this disconcerting, but I appreciate the variety to be found among the various interpretations. Some were deadly serious, some quite funny, and some in between, with a Twilight Zone sense of irony.

I quite enjoyed the book. If you think you might want to check it out, it’s been made available in PDF, eBook, and podcast.

Sure, No Problem

That’s My Answer asks,

When you thank someone for doing something for you, do you find that more people are replying with ‘no problem’, rather than ‘you’re welcome’? Do you think ‘no problem’ is the same as saying ‘you’re welcome’? Also, I find that I say ‘sure’ instead ‘yes’ when I’m asked something like ‘is it okay to do blah blah blah?’ This is something I’ve never put too much thought into. My 9 yr old daughter doesn’t think ‘sure’ is the same as ‘yes’. Is it?

It is my impression that “you’re welcome” has become almost an old-fashioned thing to say, something rather like bidding someone farewell by saying “good day.” And what does “you’re welcome,” mean, anyway? I’m pretty sure it’s short for “you’re welcome to ask again,” a sentiment echoed in “any time,” yet another response to “thank you.”

Saying “no problem,” is not exactly the same thing as saying “you’re welcome.” It’s a way of saying, “it was nothing,” that the favor in question was not an imposition. In other languages, such as Spanish, this is the customary response to thanks. I personally prefer “no problem,” as it does not explicitly invite the asking of future favors.

As to whether “sure” and “yes” are the same thing, both are affirmative responses. However, there is a slight difference. “Yes” is a statement of fact. “Sure” is a statement of opinion, “I am sure of it.” (Although I find it an odd coincidence that the word for “yes” in Mandarin, “shi,” is pronounced like English “sure.”)

I therefore tend to reserve the word “yes” for when I am certain of the outcome, and “sure” for when there is any uncertainty. (Or for when an informal, friendly tone is required.)

On the other hand, I was once advised to not acknowledge requests with a simple “sure” or “okay,” but rather with a phrase such as “very good.” I tried a few, but my favorite was always “as you wish.”

Just Plain Nuts!

Calvin writes,

Do you ever wonder what a qualified mental health worker would think of your blog or tumblr if they were asked to just look at them and render a medical judgement on the person who created it? Would you agree or disagree with their expert analysis? Would it affect what you posted or didn’t post? Would you turn off the computer and walk away forever or dive further into your obsession?

A most excellent question to ponder. With apologies to Gary Larson, I foresee this outcome:

Just Plain Nuts