Friday, November 23, 2012

I Am Legend

First of all, do you know how many times you would have to kill me to get me into a Walmart...well, ever, but especially today (so-called Black Friday)? Or, for that matter, into any shopping mall? It’s not just that a) I actively dislike shopping in general, b) can’t abide crowds of feral, sociopathic shoppers or the even more sociopathic traffic, or c) my approach to Christmas shopping gets more and more Scrooge-like every year, but, as per this article in The Atlantic, the whole so-called Black Friday thing pretty much a scam:

It's in the stores' interest to make you think prices will go up after Black Friday. But for many items, they probably won't. Instead, as inventory piles up, prices will stay low or go lower in early December. Still, it's better for the economy if more customers buy into the Black Friday hype and behave as though we're in a mini-inflationary cycle where prices on all goods are about to jump. The alternative -- everybody sits on their hands and waits until December 26 to shop for gifts -- isn't particularly good for anybody. Plus, predicting exactly when prices on your single favorite item will be lowest is like trying to buy a plane ticket at its single lowest price. Even our smartest algorithms struggle to do it.

Bargain-hunting has never been my cup of tea—even when buying tea—and when it comes to searching for deals and steals, I’m far less alpha male and more Omega Man. So I’m perfectly happy to sit on my hands until December 26th, if ever.

I say “so-called” Black Friday because, as per Kevin Drum on his Mother Jones blog, the phrase as used today is a fairly new one, and its origins (1950s or 60s in Philadelphia) originally had bad connotations (it still does, as far as I’m concerned):

the gigantic Army-Navy-post-Thanksgiving day crowds and traffic jams, which both retail workers and police officers dreaded. The retail industry originally loathed the term...

Speaking of bad things, so-called Black Friday, and Philadelphia, Syracuse is at the moment losing to Temple... Oy.

And the less said about the unfortunate term “Cyber Monday” the better.

Now, whether the whole camping out and going to shops at 3 in the morning thing becomes some sort of cultural tradition...well, there are some shared experiences I don’t have any desire to share. Today is the day to barricade myself in the apartment, indeed like Charlton Heston in Omega Man (or Will Smith in I Am Legend, if you prefer; they’re both based on the Richard Matheson book) and spend the day deleting all the so-called Black Friday spam I am being inundated with. (Amazon alone has clogged my inbox rather dramatically.)

By the way, yesterday’s Saratoga Turkey Trot 5K went vaguely OK; I ran it in an appalling 28:49, down from my record of 25:28 in the Saratoga Palio back on September 16. Sure, I could blame it on the cold (see below), the 3000+ other runners that formed a dense, unbroken mass and made getting up to speed a challenge, and/or the hills of the Skidmore campus, but the fact is that I have not been running a lot lately, focusing instead on CrossFit workouts and strength conditioning. I used to spend a lot of time on the treadmill; not so much lately.

I shall have to make it a point to train for the New Year’s Eve 5K, whose temperature may, it occurs to me, bear a close resemblance to yesterday morning’s:

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