retail stores are doomed

I didn’t choose my doggies’ brand of kibble (aka kibs).  Their kibs was chosen by another human who I no longer talk to.  But, it’s what they’ve always eaten.  They love it.

When I wake up in the morning they bounce off the walls because they know after a few short minutes in the backyard they get to eat.  The countdown towards dinnertime is when they’re most active and excited throughout the day.

So you better believe when I heard the retail store (Pet Valu) would no longer carry the brand on site I went into a bit of a mini panic mode.  Said retail store gave no valid explanation for why they were no longer carrying the brand.  They claimed that the company no longer makes it, which was untrue.

Anyways, I ended up trying to find another retail store but eventually gave up and went online to buy it.  How does one buy 30 pound bags of kibble online?  The thought never really crossed my mind.  Bags of dog food are large and heavy.  It’d be like buying huge bags of mulch online.

And yet, I found the brand online and for a decent and cheaper price.  I bought two bags.  What was my cost to ship 60 pounds of kibble to my front door?  $0.  Nothing.  It took me three minutes to make my purchase.  I did it from my cubicle.  I didn’t have to drive to a store.

Retail stores are doomed.  Doomed.  If they can’t compete on price, on saving you time, the only card they have left to play is that shipping things online can cost money.  But if online retailers just front the shipping costs?  It’s over.  There’s nothing else retail can offer you.

I’ll always buy my food in person because I want to handle my own produce and inspect it.  Other than that, I don’t really know what I wouldn’t have shipped to my front door.  Eventually we’ll all find out.

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when you really think about it, this Santa concept is rather creepy

My mental priorities are usually out of alignment. I sometimes can’t even check off simple daily tasks that require coherent thought to avoid problems. For instance, I had to walk to the mailbox from work today and was rather shocked to discover it was pouring rain. And I was like, “Oh, I didn’t know it was supposed to rain today.”

I had no idea. Do most other normal people check the weather? I think so, so what’s wrong with me? It might be that since my first and last acts of any day involve me standing in the backyard with my dogs, that I use that as my daily weather checks. And since no rain or clouds this morning, I didn’t expect rain all day. Luckily for me, I carry a little umbrella in my bag at all times. So in theory, I’ve already accounted for my inability to conduct reasonable routine daily thoughts.

But while I’m not bothering my brain about little things like the traffic report, or whether I needed gloves today, I had this weird thought in my brain about whether I’d tell my kids that Santa is real. This is absurd lunacy as among other things I have no date or kids or immediate prospects of such things. Soon, I guess. But right now it’s just a weird pointless thought. But then my next needless thought was, why? Why?

Because when you really think about it, this Santa thing is kind of creepy. Take heed of these basic facts about this dude:

 

santa_claus

– Regularly practices the art of belligerent unsolicited home invasion

– Can apparently fold space and time but doesn’t go back in time to murder Hitler

– Implements child labor procedures that the Burmese authorities would find abhorrent

– Demands payment in food product that adds zero nutritional value to the human form

– Thus encourages lifestyle choices that would cripple the health care system with a pandemic of Type II diabetes

– Possesses emotional and technical monitoring powers that make the NSA and Jesus jealous

– Encourages materialistic domination of a possession based culture to the detriment of a value based society

– Rewards naughty or nice block designations off an arbitrary, unregulated, and unaudited obscure process

– Pontiff of a cult religion in which millions of his acolyte followers are commanded to dress just like him and convince children of the sanctity of his divine powers and demand that they pray to him to receive a beneficial response

 

Why is this still a thing? Why did humanity not banish the idea of Santa to the gutter alongside other winning ideas such as human sacrifice?

To get to the bottom of this most urgent of human dilemmas, we decided to call Jesus at his castle in Hawaii:

The Arcturus Project: Greetings, Sir.

Jesus Christ: How’s it going?

TAP: Happy early birthday then.

JC: It’s not my actual birthday, the 25th is a construct, it’s the message that counts.

TAP: So what’s your actual birthday?

JC: Uh, you’re a, you’re not listening.

TAP: New Years?

JC: …

TAP: So about Santa?

JC: Yeah okay, what about Santa then.

TAP: What’s the deal with this creep?

JC: He makes people happy, what’s wrong with you?

TAP: I have many problems, which one in particular are you referring to?

JC: Even the most child friendly, popular creatures in existence can be twisted in a dark way. But Santa’s a likeable, jolly guy, so people have decided he can stick around.

TAP: Lies. Not all popular child friendly creations are creepy.

JC: Oh yeah, take this Elmo guy. If you left his appearance, voice, and mannerisms exactly the same, but gave him a butcher knife in an NC-17 rated slasher horror movie he’d cause grown men to vomit in the theater aisles.

TAP: Not true.

JC: Oh yeah, feast on this image inside your brain, my Brother:

 

Elmo

“Elmo has established a window into your soul!”

 

TAP: Jesus Christ!

JC: …

TAP: Oh, sorry. [shudders] I mean, I guess I see your point.

JC: Santa’s just about the dumbest creation in human history, except for yo-yos, but what he does is encourage family togetherness, the idea of somebody jolly watching over you, and the idea that you can happily pass traditions onto your kids like your own parents did; even if those traditions are somewhat foolish or creepy, like flying reindeer.

TAP: I guess I see your point.

JC: Nobody thinks about me during Christmas anymore. And I suppose eventually, if everybody told their kids Santa wasn’t real, that eventually he’d fade from Christmas too.

TAP: But he’s backed by Macy’s, so he’ll probably stick around. You’re only backed by all the powers of the universe, so eventually you might fade into benign oblivion.

JC: Good point.

TAP: What do we do?

JC: Tell your future kids Santa is real, have fun with it, like your parents did with you. And then tell them about the real point of Christmas too. Keep the traditions going that are worth preserving.

TAP: Got it.

JC: Cool.

TAP: …

JC: …

TAP: …

JC: Anything else?

TAP: So if the 25th isn’t your actual birthday, what do you normally do on that day?

JC: I usually go on a pre-New Year’s bender with my other religion bros. And we generally go see a movie, this year we’re of course seeing Star Wars.

TAP: Oh, that should be fun.

JC: Not according to your last post.

TAP: Uh, yeah, I guess. Sorry.

JC: It’s okay, but if the movie isn’t any good, I’m just going to blame you for ruining all of Christmas.

TAP: Isn’t that a little harsh?

JC: I have high standards that encourage positive thought and behavior.

TAP: How am I doing with that?

JC: Yeeaahh.

 

the weirdest things can make us feel better

I got up at 2am this morning and was on the road within the hour for work.  It seemed to make more sense than spending another overnight away from home.  And the dogs came with me, because why not.  But then it was raining hard for the entire automobile based journey.  I always forget, and am reminded when in progress, just how unfortunate it is to have to drive in the dark when it’s raining.  I think it drops the chance of survival by like 83%.  My statistic on this is beyond reproach, I got the numbers from the WHO, so you know they’re good.

Anyways, about halfway through while downhill on the highway and at a low point across a bridge I ended up skidding on what must have been a puddle built up with the heavy rain.  So I was along for the ride for maybe 1.5 seconds.  Luckily, I didn’t get my one way ticket to Valhalla.  But then I couldn’t get it out of my head that I’d somehow screwed up.  Either through poor driving, or driving too fast.  I probably uttered one or more words that usually would be rather appropriate on this blog, but don’t feel like repeating them now.  And all the dogs did from the backseat was open their eyes briefly, wonder what the hell Daddy was so upset about, and then go right back to sleep, totally unaware of the troubles that could have awaited them in Doggy Valhalla.

But then ahead of me, a FedEx truck towing a pair of those dual-connected trailers started to skid out too.  His second trailer started to fishtail in and out of his lane.  I thought he was done for.  I actually started to slow down in the expectation I’d have to pull up behind him and run out to pull the driver out of an overturned semi.  But somehow he got it back under control and carried on.  And other than relief, my next thought was to feel better.  Surely, this guy is driving every day, and even he nearly trashed it on this road.  So it was somewhat okay that I’d nearly done the same, and I took my foot of my throat about that puddle.  The weirdest things can make us feel better.

Eh, maybe neither of us should have been on that road to begin with.  3am in the dark, in the rain.  Neither his job or mine is worth that insanity.  And yet we were both there.  And I bet you we’ll both be doing it again some day, no matter how stupid it is.

sometimes folks take their craft too seriously

It can sometimes become a struggle to drink with folks you don’t know. It can also become a joy. It just depends. The group might not get along, everybody might already be in a bad mood, and so on. Or things can go great, and everybody’s happy.

But there’s always the risk you end up sitting next to guys you find insufferable. For me, it was a pair of craft brew queens. So I got to hear them rant viciously (I hate vicious rants, truly) about the beer. So I heard multiple uses of the terms “hop profile”, “style”, “branding”, and so on. In short, they hated the beer.

I sat with my hands in my lap the whole time struggling mightily not to say a word because I was in no mood to start anything at all. For you see, the beer in question was Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle IPA, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s not epic, but it’s just a good decent beer.

Just to determine if I wants nuts (yes, indeed), when I got home I looked it up and I’m apparently not the only one who likes this beer. So I’m not sure what’s up with those guys.

Don’t get me wrong, I kind of wish I had their knowledge level on beer, but I don’t. I can talk all day about beer. But I don’t really know how it’s made, how breweries work, or the science behind it all. In fact, I’ve never been on a single brewery tour, seriously. I’m not sure why, it’s on my list, but I’ve got a long list.

TT IPA

unrelated reference stock photo of beer not mine

 

But to me, I guess, beer is more of a relaxed thing, not something to take too seriously. This beverage came of age as the normal swill for the planet’s dirt poor. Old style beers were likely low alcohol, and of a differing consistency than what we see today, but it was still beer. They drank it because of the extensive risk of painful-waterborne-disease-death if you consumed straight water.

So to me, beer is like:

Them: “I find the fruity infusion on this saison to work well with the hop profile they acquired from Southeastern England.”

Me: [pops ordinary Yuengling can] [drinks] [enjoys life]

Them: “I’m wondering if that’s blueberry I’m detecting that goes well with the lactose they built in here to give it kind of a milk stout quality.”

Me: “The way to know if you’ve got a good batch of Skullsplitter is if it’s so freaking black you can’t see through the glass. Plus I love to look at that Viking dude as he splits my skull.”

And so on.

 

By the way, old Skullsplitter label is superior. They tried to go too Lord of the Rings with the new label.

SKULL-SPLITTER-GRAPHIC

I love the older label more because the Viking dude is staring out into space like a lunatic. It’s a good pose, because you’re like, hmm, what’s he thinking: conquest, a girl, space travel, beer? And so on.

220px-SkullSplitterLabel

 

 

Every human should have a craft they love. That’s what’s part of the great human experience. Find a craft and excel at it: brew beer, surf, write poetry, plot intricate assassinations, and so on. But also make sure to regularly sample like 700 other crafts. Because life’s too short for just one.

But also don’t take your chosen craft too seriously. All of this stuff is for fun anyways. Don’t get too negative (yes I am actually saying this) even if you don’t like it / disagree. Just sit back and enjoy it. Things can go great, and everybody’s happy.

 

I&G1

unrelated reference stock photo of additional Scottish beer not mine

 

goof

unrelated reference stock photo of drinking buddy not mine requesting belly scratch

I’m over the heat

And so is my youngest, who in lacking a proper snout, has a rough go in the hot weather.  So the walks have to be shorter.  But we’re rather lucky enough to live somewhere where we get to experience four distinct seasons.  So it seems I grew up, as did she, with the idea that if you’re sick of one season you can look forward to the opportunity to experience a new one rather shortly.

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For her it can’t come soon enough.  For she loves the snow so much it’s the only times she’s actually tried to run away from home.  Twice.  Frolicking off into oblivion atop a snow pack.  Off to somewhere?  I guess?  I have to watch her like a hawk.

109

Please, please don’t go too far.

we welcome the introduction of “killer robots”

So all these smart scientists and engineers don’t want the planet to develop artificial intelligence killer robots?  Why?  What’s not to like?  What do all those brilliant and accomplished folks know anyways?

And in any case, it’s already happened.  Multiple militaries have developed autonomous or semi-autonomous weapons that have essentially taken human thought, emotion, and morals out of the kill loop for years.  Just ask your former Pakistani terrorist neighbor who was forced into permanent retirement after an unrelated pickup truck accident.

We welcome this killer robot development.  For you see:

 

– With robots it’ll be so much easier for professional politicians to start and sustain needless wars as a substitute for reasonable / rational thought since they won’t be putting their own soldiers at risk

– Allows Hollywood to continue to produce C-grade action flicks based on paranoid but entertaining technological concepts invented well before the Internets was even a blink in anybody’s eye

– Favored by my Guests as they believe the unbridled use of murdering robots will let human stupidity “do our required prep work for us”

– Presages a paradise Earth future where wise logical robots can make all our key decisions for us; hell, as long as they provide me an ample supply of beer and kibble for my dogs, they can go ahead and liquidate whoever they want

– Allows MMA, boxing, and other martial sports to be replaced by robot fights, which we could hold on the freaking Moon to create increased buzz prior to fight night; hint – place much money on the vicious fighting seizure robots from Japan

– Will result in the word “irony” being tattooed on the gravestone of the human race as we’re swallowed by our own creation; even as we somehow managed not to completely destroy ourselves following five-thousand years of near constant war

– Why should I get my own beer, when the killer robot can get it for me? if said robot can wield a handgun, he can carry a beer; eh, as long as he doesn’t actually kill me when he gets there

– Let the robot walk my dogs while I drink said beer; and then the robot can contemplate its place on Earth as it routinely carries little baggies of dog feces

– Robot can be consumed in its own everpresent and ultimately debilitating existential crisis as it gathers its wits to determine its “place in this universe” while culling the human flock

– Machines can build spaceships, give humanity the finger, and fly off into space to build a better life in the belief that “none of you humans are worth the effort of killing”

ai-terminator-300x252

Hail Robots!

Triumphator lily

lily1

My Mom’s, just outside the front door.  They only last for a few days.  In the short term, they attract a lot of ants and bees.  Which is always delightful because my dog(s) are of the mind they can eat bees without any negative consequences.  [foolish canine act not pictured]

lily2

I don’t have my camera with me so this was shot on my Samsung S3 Mini, a piece of technology that many of you would classify as a paperweight, but which still manages to baffle me on a regular basis.

lily3

She’s had this same, simple vase for decades.

lily4

This vase is new and so I asked where it came from.  She says, [shrugs] “Somebody sent us flowers and I kept the vase because I figured the color would match the lilies.”  Indeed.  And she says, “By tomorrow morning the whole room will smell of them.”  Sweet.