Ramblings from the Warrior's Den
Friday, November 28, 2003
Ah, Thanksgiving. A day of family gatherings, longstanding traditions, and enough food to make even the skinny Japanese kids who eat 50 hot dogs in a sitting head for the hills. I believe that I have written here before about some of the traditions our family has on Thanksgiving, but since it's probably so far buried in the archives that it would take ages to find, I'll just write about them again. As we usually do, Thanksgiving was held at the church building that my mom's parents and several of her brothers and sisters attend in Federal Way, mostly because Thanksgiving is a large enough gathering to make holding it at anyone's house very crowded. The tables are decorated elaborately, owing to the tendencies of several people in the family towards arts and crafts stuff (I've even picked up a bit of it myself somewhere along the line), and although we didn't have them this year, my Aunt Pam often makes rather elaborate wooden figures that mark each person's place at the table. I think that Thanksgiving dinner this yearwas a little bit less of a production than it has been at times, but as usual, left nothing to complain about. The turkeys turned out well, and I managed to eat enough to result in the traditional post-dinner tryptophan stupor. People were well-prepared for it this year, with an inflatable bed and blankets at the ready. Some people even brought pajamas.

Following the dishes and a brief concession to sleep-inducing enzymes, it came time for the annual Thanksgiving Shoe War. For those people who can't adequately picture this by just the name, think of dodgeball, only lacking the aerodymanics or tenuous regard for personal safety. I usually try to stay well away from this, being not particularly a fan of footwear when at rest, much less when hurled toward me at high speeds. I did try to watch for a bit, but found that the Shoe War is an event best watched from inside a steel cage at a distance of roughly 30 yards. Somehow, the participants in this managed to finish without putting anyone in the hospital, at which point we cleaned up the building, and retired to Oma and Opa's house (my mom's parents) for dessert, accompanied by singing and a round of Trivial Pursuit. The singing I can usually manage to sneak away from (since I don't know the words to most of the songs) but my innate ability to store thoroughly useless information means that as soon as the Trivial Pursuit board comes out, they'd send a team of bloodhounds after me if I didn't show up promptly.

Anyway, as alluded to previously, the Holiday season is now upon us, and this year it will be especially busy in our family. My cousin is getting married on the 26th of December, which means that much of the wedding planning will be going on at the same time as planning for Christmas. More on the way later, I need to get some sleep, should I decide that I am insane enough to try to be up early enough to get the Black Friday deals...
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Well, it's almost that time of the year again. A time where longstanding tradition runs head-on into runaway consumerism. A time where the parking lots at the malls are crowded enough to make Mister Rogers erupt into road rage (Can you say "I'm going to recycle your car into freakin' beer cans if you don't hurry up and move out of that parking spot?" l knew you could.) A time where you know you would have to be insane to even think about trying to go shop, yet somehow you find yourself trying to wade through a sea of humanity at the mall nonetheless.

Even before Thanksgiving, the malls can be crowded to the point of making you question your sanity for even thinking about going anywhere within a 20-mile radius of the place. Of course, in this area, you would have to head out on I-90 about halfway to Ellensburg to get that far away from the malls, and unless you really like snow, that's not exactly a fun place to be around this time of year. In spite of this, Somehow I Found myself at the mall yesterday, trying to come up with some items to put on a Christmas list. Normally, we are required to put our lists in the form of a Powerpoint presentation. This year, however. I've been authorized to do mine in ASP.NET, mostly because l spent weeks working on a wish list application for the class I'm taking in school (Something tells me that my parents never needed a dedicated SQL server or their LAN just to do their homework.) Since it occurs to me that just about everything on my list so far is ridiculously expensive, and/or would probably have to be imported from Japan, I needed to find some other stuff to put on there. Of course, if I was smart, I would just get on the computer and do all this on line, but seeing how I am moderately insane and easily distracted by bright shiny objects, into the swirling malestroms of mass retail l went.

It didn't take long to find the first item for the list, whether or not I actually wanted it. In the course .ef wandering around, I stumbled upon a marketing survey that was apparently commissioned by Nintendo. Seeing as how I happen to be a member of one of the prime demographics they're trying to sell video games to, l was asked my opinion on some potential color variations or the Game Boy advance SP. Somewhere along the line, I answered a question that indicated I was "somewhat likely" to either buy or ask for a GBA SP, so onto the list it goes. Granted, the chance that I'd actually get one is roughly equivalent to that of a snowball in you-know-where, but it's now somewhat likely that I asked for one. (Disclaimer: At the end of the survey, I was given $5 for my time. This probably means that I've been officially bought off by Nintendo. Just In case I ever start sounding like a Gamecube fanboy, you'll know why.)

Beyond that first item, the list proved to be a bit harder to figure out. Sure, I managed to come up with a couple of other items, but for the most part, there didn't seem to be a whole lot out there that seemed even remotely plausible. Assuming anyone actually reads this Blog anymore, you'll know that I've ragged on The Sharper Image a few times for their tendency to send out catalogs every month or so, each containing the same 27 items you didn't know you can't live without, and maybe one or two new ones every once in a while. (Somehow, I get the impression that somewhere out there, there's a giant warehouse filled to the point of bursting at the seams with gimmicky massage devices and formerly trendy wall-mounted CD players, and they're trying to sell enough of 'em to prevent gravitational collapse and the formation of a new black hole. Here's a hint. If the fate of the known galaxy is at stake, you might not want to be selling those big massage chairs for $3,000 apiece. There's only so many yuppies to go around in the "not quite rich enough to hire a personal masseuse" demographic, you know...) What I began to notice as I looked around the other stores in the mall is that they seem to be selling a suspicious number of massagers and formerly trendy wall-mounted CD players as well these days. At this rate, I better put 'em on the list if I have any hope of getting anything but undergarments under the tree this year...

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