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January 28th, 2011

on retail as story

This morning I found myself taking up one of those Groupon offers. This one amounted to a half-price deal on mini bundt cakes. I bought because I know my wife could take mini-bundt-cakes to her co-workers, who might enjoy them. I think that all purchases work best when they accompany a narrative. I'm sure the makers of the Easy-Bake oven felt the same way.

I never owned an Easy-Bake oven, though my younger sister did. I am still impressed that a light bulb in a fake oven can cook a real, if really flat, cupcake. I had a Thingmaker, which was a huge, heated metal box which baked plastic into molded shapes. I'll bet a Thingmaker would get one on the EPA Superfund Site list nowadays.

The Thingmaker made little green soldiers. If you failed to put a little stretched out paper-clip inside, though, the soldiers were spineless. I like to think about narratives about big machines that clone soft soldiers. If you touched a Thingmaker while it was baking plastic, you could remember its story for a very long time.

curious squirrel

I love our Winter weather because it varies. Today the temperature hit 72 degrees. Tuesday the prediction forecasts a sleet storm. At noon today, I hopped in my car and drove to a Quik Trip. I purchased two things which were hot dog frankfurters in bread roll contraptions--a bit like a pretzel dog without the pretz, or a pig in a sedate baby blanket. I also ate pretzels, no further descriptors required.

I drove to Spring Creek Forest, a bike and hike park (emphasis on bike) through a wetlands forest. I saw this little fellow:

Squirrel 1

who was cute as a button. His curious nature let me get quite close before his caution took over. I also saw a hawk--a red-shouldered hawk, I believe, though I am unreliable on raptors--who eyed me as I eyed him. He was perhaps not full grown, but a lovely specimen. He was on a high branch for a long time, and then he flew away.

The news is filled with unrest in the Middle East--first Tunisia, then Yemen, and this week, Egypt. The sci-fi power of the internet and social media has shown itself. I wish there were a way for these countries to become stable, democratic, free and just.