Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Friday, Black Frimorning, Black Frursday....Oh just make it Black Thursday already!

Black Friday has been starting earlier and earlier every year.

I remember watching the line outside of my local Pamida press up toward the front doors about ten years ago on my way to work. It was about 6:30 a.m. and they were opening at 7 a.m.

Then a few years back it seemed like 6 a.m. was the new 7 a.m.

Then Wal-Mart moved in and 6 a.m. became 5 a.m.

People are losing a lot of sleep. This is not healthy.

Now I see that Old Navy is opening at.......(drum roll)

3 A M

Really?!?!? 3 AM?

First of all, in order to be there at opening doors, a shopper will need to get up at 2 a.m. (so really, why bother going to bed?) to get to the store at 2:30 a.m. to be in line.

Secondly, I can't think of one thing that Old Navy has in their Black Friday Flyer that is worth getting up at 2 a.m. (or not going to bed at all) for which to stand in line at 2:30 a.m. to push other retarded, sleep deprived people out of the way.

So my next question is when does all this ridiculous one-ups-manship between stores just push everything into Thursday? Why not just open at midnight instead of 3 a.m.? Lots of stores do midnight releases of games and movies. Why not save us all the short night of sleep and just let us come in after our Thursday afternoon nap? We'll be all rested and ready to run for that ultra cheap LCD TV.

Wouldn't this likely cut down on the car accidents from some mad shopoholic driving in the wee morning hours when he/she is over tired from only sleeping two hours and texting to her friends that Wal-Mart is out of Snuggies?

Or perhaps I am missing that people are actually starting their Black Friday shopping on Thursday because they go camp out in the parking lot of Best Buy Thursday afternoon. They bring their recliners and portable HDTVs, unzip, kick back, and watch football there instead of at home.

This might actually be a good thing. All the rest of the family is saved from seeing Uncle Bob's furry keg spilling out the especially grateful-to-be-finally-unzipped waistband. They can relax and let their turkey digest in visual peace whilst the rest of the Best Buy clientelle enjoy the scenery.

Whatever the reason and whatever time you start out, I hope any of you who are brave enough to wade through the endorphin-crazed bargain hunting crowds get your coveted zebra print Snuggie!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Going Batty over New Moon

I'm so sick of reading status update after status update about how this person can't wait to go see new moon. They are counting the minutes. They have their tickets and OMG isn't Taylor SOOO cute????

Barf, barf, barf, barf.

But now the entire marketing industry has been bitten too. A story on NPR went down a laundry list of marketing gimmicks that have latched onto the neck of this movie and are sucking as much blood as this series will give.

Ken and Barbie will now look like Edward and Bella (I can't believe I even know their names!!).

And of course there are the usual do-dads everyone must have--t-shirts, key chains, posters, underwear. I'm sure Target and Wal-Mart are packed with vampire tshatashkis. After all, doesn't everyone need a vampire toothbrush for keeping those fangs pearly white?

I can't help but be reminded of high school when a popular kid would coin a new word (like in the movie Never Been Kissed when the popular guy decided Rufus was the new word for cool) and everyone starts saying this word because then maybe they'll get to be cool too!

It's coolness by association. Perhaps I'm just bitter because I was the nerdy Josie Geller of the group and would have followed right along if given the opportunity.

Marketers like Burger King making a New Moon meal, although really not any more ridiculous than any other strategy they use, seems sort of desperate.

But perhaps even more desperate (or is the more correct term ingenious?) is the link Volvo has made with their promotion. They have used this movie and the incredible appeal to young viewers to draw attention to their rather old brand. Let's face it, soccer moms drive Volvos, not hot vampires.

So I guess while I see the marketing frenzy accompanying New Moon as cheesy and rather vampirous in itself, I can see how this can make these brand a lot of money--even if they look rather silly in the process. But then who has ever cared about looking silly when millions of dollars are on the table?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Local farmer trades family farm for one in Farmville--says it's more profitable and less stress

I have never played Farmville, but all my friends on Facebook do. They all seem to think it's really fun.

Here's why I don't play Farmville (I played Tetris in school): Link to video

I can't fathom why anyone would want to pretend to farm. Doing it for real is bad enough! (This girl thinks 300 coins for a cow is bad, try $1000!)

Now I hear that virtual farms are becoming as dangerous as the real kind.

This morning on the CBS Early Show, I was alerted to a new scam that farmers in Farmville are dealing with.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Now, not only do farmers have to worry about getting their arms torn off in the auger, they have to watch out that they aren't racking up hundreds in cell phone bills besides!

When my now husband proposed to me 14 years ago, he asked if I would like living on a farm, to which I replied, "Sure. What's not to like?"

Now, with a few good years (and a whole lot more terrible ones) under my belt, I can safely answer that question--Lots.

Here is a short list:

1) Weather is not small talk--it is the biggest and most stress inducing subject of the day.
2) No paid vacation, holidays, overtime, or health insurance.
3) The combine repair comes before the dishwasher repair.
4) Single parenting during planting and harvest.
5) Your tractor is worth more than your house--way more.
6) It will take 50,000 bushels of barley to pay for the fertilizer it took to grow 30,000 bushels.

Somehow, the math isn't the same in Farmville. Farmers in Farmville are making money hand over fist.

Which is why I've decided to trade up.

We are going to be virtual farmers from now on. At first glance, there seem to be a lot of good reasons to go digital. I think this is something that warrants further exploration.

Here is my pros vs cons list:

Pros to virtual farming:
1) No government paperwork.
2) Access to fields from anywhere in the world--no need to live in dial-up country anymore!
3) No tracking mud across my floors.
4) No greasy ripped pants to mend.
5) No trips to the ER when limbs become entangled in machinery.

Cons to virtual farming:
1) No real income made--wait, how is this different from real farming?
2) No fresh air (take the laptop outside)
3) Can't actually see plants grow and chew grain kernels to see when ripe (I really can't fix this one)
4) Will really miss the gals at the FSA office.
5) No more flirting with insurance rep to get a better payout on crop losses.
6) My daughter will miss the rides in the combine.

OK, so it is a toss-up. I guess the Erdman Farm will continue here in first life for another year--at least until Farmville can figure out how to give virtual combine rides.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My house is worth saving, but I'm not.

Everyone is probably sick to death of hearing about health care reform.

Yeah, me too.

Actually, I don't really have a clue what is even being suggested for possible solutions. It's all way too bureaucratic and cumbersome for me and I don't have the mental energy to try to go through it. I keep waiting for a news report to spell it out in plain English, but that hasn't happened yet. The ones that try to always end by restating that they don't really know and there are lots of ifs and buts.

This is the question I have to the powers that be and everyone else:

Why is it that if my house catches fire, a firetruck full of firemen rushes to put it out and even rescue me from the second floor and I don't get a bill.

And as a kid growing up, my teacher taught me all kinds of stuff that I would need to be a happy, healthy, productive member of society, and I didn't get a bill (well, at least not until after high school).

And if a mugger assaults me and a policeman happens to be near, he will rush to my aid and I don't get a bill. And if the mugger is arrested, he will be prosecuted and defended without a bill to me. If he is convicted, he will be housed, fed, and provided medical care at no cost to him (except of course that he does not get to live free).

However, if this mugger stabs me or shoots me, and I have to be rushed to the emergency room, have emergency surgery, and have to recuperate in the hospital for a few days, I will get a bill.

A really really big bill.

Depending on how much it cost to save me, I might even wish they had not bothered.

I understand that I do pay for the above mentioned services through my taxes. And I'm happy to do that. (Well, not happy like YAY! Tax time! But happy in that I believe those services are good and necessary, and if less taxes meant no firemen, then I'd go with more taxes and a fireman.)

I just don't understand why it's such a sacred cow that health care be a business. In fact, I think it's a little bit morally slimy to let money decide if people live or die. How much is your life worth? A million? Two? Maybe only a few hundred thousand?

And does this dollar value depend on your job or your family or what?

Not so long ago I figured out based on my salary what I was worth using the business principles of revenue vs. expense. After I took out expenses like food, clothing, housing, etc, I was only left with a net contribution of $12.57 per day. So pretty much any major medical procedure would take more than my lifetime to recoup.

If we had to get estimates on the cost of treating a disease like we do on our cars when they need to be fixed, would we treat our lives and bodies like cars?

Well, the car is 10 years old and it's really not worth it to overhaul the engine if the rest of the car probably won't go much longer anyway.

Well, Grandma is 70 years old. Is it really worth it to put so many thousands of dollars into her when she's just going to die in a few years anyway??

I'm guessing most people go over the first scenario each time their car makes a funny noise but find the second version reprehensible.

So why is the idea of health care as a business ok?

No, really. I need an explanation. Does anyone know?

I'll just wait here until someone can explain it, and hope I don't get sick in the meanwhile.