Holiday shopping this year amuses me. I hear on the radio how this is a "down" year for merchants, and there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of dolls' teeth about whether sufficient sales will occur this year to make life worth living.
Yet when I go to a store to find a sale item, it is always sold out. When I go on-line to get something on a Christmas list, it is often sold out or on back order.
I'm also amused by the "last year's technology" aspect of sales this year. I cite as an example mp3 players. It was not so long ago that 1 GB of memory made for a rather expensive mp3 player. Now an expensive mp3 player will have anything from 4GB to 80 GB. The 1 GB player is now a sale item. The reality is that mp3 players are not, in the long run, going to be expensive things in the way that stereo systems were in my youth. Instead, they are going to be inexpensive things, like digital watches, calculators, and transistor radios proved to be in the long run.
I did manage to "score" a twenty dollar mp3 player at Radio Shack yesterday, assuming I can navigate the dreaded ten dollar mail-in rebate. I decided to get a second mp3 player for use with podcasts and other "one-shot" long programming. This will allow me to load a particular podcast, listen to it, and then discard it in favor of the next loading. This way I won't have to fiddle with my song-laden "regular" mp3 player, but will have a 20 dollar device that will let me manage my listening. I believe my life could be richer if I find podcasts which feature stories or interesting discussions, or if I loaded "digital stories" from Librivox.
This past weekend I noticed that my hair had reached a kind of raffish unmanageability, which led me to a chain haircut place in the little grocery-store-sthopping-center down the street from my office.
I asked the person cutting my hair what gifts her children wanted this year, to which she replied "The Wii". Kids love video games more than I think I would have loved them when I was a kid. I hope they get their Wii, though. If I were a millionaire in a television show who goes from house to house granting wishes, I'd have tipped her enough for a Wii. I am of humbler stock, and tipped her a five instead.
I'm sad to say that she must use thrift or spendthriftiness for her Wii.
I'm pleased that my hair is now short enough that it no longer defies control.
I entered the search term "hand-made kaleidoscope" in eBay, and bid twenty dollars for a five-inch hand-made one that uses a marble to create its effects. The marble can be interchanged, apparently, which makes for a world of possibilities as broad as a cat's eye.
I like the way that on-line shopping for gifts is much easier than visiting the women's department of a department store. If one has the sizes and colors, the on-line sites offers one pictures, helpful information, and click-ease ordering. Still, I rather miss that department store bustle at the holidays. Perhaps I must visit a Neiman Marcus soon.
I spoke with my father yesterday, who is doing well. He got out of the hospital on Sunday, two days after his procedure on Friday. I'm pleased and hopeful that things may be working out well, though I would not be my father's son if I did not temper optimism with a good "wait and see" attitude. I am a huge believer in hope and faith, but also a believer in not confusing real hope and solid faith for that store-front hope and candy-cane-sugar-faith that one finds in pithy slogans done in stained glass with seagulls at the religious bookstore.
As I type that last paragraph, though, I am awash in the memory of the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in west Los Angeles, with its shelves upon shelves of religious books, sorted by faith, its pungent ambient scent of really nice incense, the sound of soft music and finger chimes, and its patrons who ranged from women who looked like The Herbal Essence Girl to obscure eccentrics hunting the latest UFOology. I wonder if they have a podcast, and, if so, if one smells burning incense while it plays.