Friday, November 28, 2008

A Rant: Black Friday

Black Friday.

You know, up until recent history, if you named a day "black" it would have meant it was a bad day. Perhaps it is a day to be remembered in human history as an example of what not to do. Perhaps it is a day that was pivotal in history, like "Black Tuesday" referring to the stock market crash of 1929. Well, now the only reason we see fit to call a day "black" is that it is a shopping day.

Interestingly, Wikipedia lists 15 separate historical events that have been nicknamed Black Friday ranging from 1869 to 2004. You would think we as a civilization could come up with something better after the third or fourth Black Friday.

Like this one for example: in 1939 there were some big fires in Australia that earned the nickname (by the way, this one was also a Friday the 13th). Maybe we could have chosen something more fire oriented like "Orange Friday" (because flames are orange) or "Charred Friday". Now I know those don't carry with them the same ring and dark overtones as Black Friday but lets be honest, overusing a name or phrase lessens it's effect as well. I mean, if I went around calling days "Black 'day-of-the-week'" every time I got a hangnail or stubbed my toe or had to work late or something, pretty soon people would stop paying attention to me.

Having established that the name "Black Friday" is both overworked and under payed, now we should look at how the Friday after Thanksgiving came by this unworthy moniker.

Again, according to Wikipedia, Black Friday, in this case, originated in Philadelphia in the 70's. It came from the horrendous traffic conditions present in the city that were a result of the combination of the increased number of shoppers and an annual football game between Army and Navy. Apparently the name originated from the people that would have to deal with the traffic: police, bus drivers, taxi drivers, etc.

So, some bus driver said it in the 70's and the media has been jamming it down our throats ever since.

Retailers build advertising campaigns around it and news outlets use it in their vast array of tactics to get you to watch their programming or read their rag. It is as a result of the media outlets that you have this post today. I got to work and decided to check a few headlines on the ol' iGoogle homepage and every third one was "Black Friday This" or "Black Friday That", blah blah blah. It's a testament to the fact that so little that comes out of news outlets is actually useful.

And now I plead with society as a whole to disassociate the name Black Friday with the shopping day after Thanksgiving. If it must have a name, then lets use something that isn't so beat to death. We could go with "Super-Mega-Deal Friday" or "let's-go-blow-our-available-credit Friday". If we wanted we could still go with a color. Being that the weather starts to turn gloomy in November we could call it "Grey Friday". Whether we abolish the name altogether or simply change it, it will be an improvement.

Update:

Within a short time of writing this I found the news story of a 34-year-old man that was trampled to death by customers at a Wal-mart in New York State. It's a great day to call yourself a human being.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Actually, "Thanksgiving Weekend" is a misnomer when you don't have the following Friday off work. It ends up being just Thanksgiving Day.

Whatever you call it, this year it was nice. Unfortunately I was not with my wife because she went to be with her family for the weekend. You see, since I had work today it would have been a whirl wind trip to Utah and back and it would have been a record time. Since I stayed behind, Chelsea was able to spend much more time with her family.

So without my wife I went to Kirkland, Washington to have Thanksgiving at my Aunt and Uncle's house. After work on Wednesday I went home and got Jake and we headed for Kingston to get the ferry. I seemed to luck out because everybody was trying to get to Kingston so I was going against the flow of traffic.

In the morning on Thursday we slept in. It was nice. Later on in the early afternoon Wally and I shot bottles in the front yard with BB and pellet guns. Some redneck fun without leaving the driveway.

Jake was in a new place and that required some adjusting. He refused to take a nap like he was supposed to and was becoming very cranky. That worked out well in the end, though because he was so tired that during dinner I fed him and conked right out for the better part of two hours.

Later on in the evening it was time to come home and I decided to go ahead and drive around. Once again, Jake fell right to sleep on the back seat. And, once again, I was opposite the flow of traffic. As I came across the Tacoma Narrows bridge I found that the east-bound traffic was backed up for about five miles trying to cross the bridge. Once again, I'm glad I live on this side of Puget Sound.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jake at Dinner Time

For some time now Jake has been trained to wait for his dinner until we tell him it's OK to eat. I love his energy and this shows his enthusiasm very well. The look on his face towards the end cracks me up everytime. "Do you want to eat?" always gets a good response.
video

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Canine Dental Pictures

I'm intensely fascinated by this process that Jake is going through of losing teeth and getting his adult teeth. We've been waiting for this for some time because puppy teeth are sharp little suckers. The adult teeth are larger, but much less pointy and sharp. I imagine this is because when dogs are puppies, nature compensated for their weaker jaws by giving them sharper teeth. But that just an engineer's opinion.

Anyway, I have another picture for you all. Here it is:
The arrow on the left is pointing to the very tip of Jake's new upper canine. As you can see, it's being very impatient and not having the courtesy to wait for the other to vacate before muscling in. It looks painful, but Jake doesn't seem bothered at all. The arrow on the right is pointing to the lower canine which is coming in just fine. In an earlier blog I posted a picture that I took right after that tooth fell out. In that picture it was just a big red spot.

Here are the teeth I've managed to get so far:To give you an idea of scale, the one on the right is about 1/2" across. I'm hoping to get at least one canine, but I've already missed two out of four, so hopefully my luck will change.

Lastly, I had the camera out so I took some new pictures of Jake. Here's one of them:Always alert. You never know who may have food.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New RC Heli!

As all of you know, I love RC toys. Recently I've been trying to learn how to fly helicopters in the flight simulator I bought when I got my first paycheck from my new job. Helicopters, by their very nature are unstable. Fundamentally, you have a mass hanging from a disc (which is formed by the rotation of the blades) and that disc is literally supported by thin air. It's something like trying to balance on a basketball. Also, in this case, size matters. The larger the helicopter, the more stable it is. Unfortunately, that doesn't bode well for RC helicopters because they are very small and lightweight. To combat this, designers have devised ways to add stability-both through electronic and mechanical means. Years of technological effort have now arrived at the point of my little helicopter. Here it is:
video
This little helicopter is very stable and easy to fly. The testament to it's stability is the fact that I can fly it in my living room. I wouldn't want to do that with most other RC helicopters. Anyway, it's fun to fly.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Baby Teeth Out, Grown-up Teeth In

Since I've never raised a puppy I didn't know that they go through puppy teeth the same way children go through baby teeth. Jake has been losing teeth from time to time over the past few weeks and he's probably about a third of the way through them. Today he lost that big one on the bottom; obviously where the big red spot is. In the next couple of days we should see a new one poking in behind it.