Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Here They Come! Black Friday (US)

Black Friday Shopping Photo: Public Domain
Black Friday Shopping
Photo: Public Domain

Today is called Black Friday or as it used to be known, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is not an official public holiday though many government employees and a select number of private companies do take the day off. Schools are generally out as well so a lot of kids from grade school to college have the day off. The day after Thanksgiving has been a major retail event for decades. And the term “Black Friday” likely came from such overwhelming numbers of people and vehicles filling the streets, sidewalks, and malls on this particular day.

Until fairly recently most retail stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day. Only a limited number of stores, often grocery and 24 hour restaurant or retail operations, would be open. Usually stores would open around 6:00am the next day but a few years ago some big retailers like Target started opening up at first late at night but now open at 6 pm. It has not been without controversy as workers get a limited Thanksgiving with their families. Most retailers if they are wise will pay extra for the inconvenience but they are not required to. Federal law does not mandate extra pay if you work on a holiday or on weekends. Overtime pay for most non-exempt (meaning hourly workers)is only legally required once you exceed 40 hours,

The sheer masses of people trying to get into stores or malls creates hazardous situations. People being stomped on or worse have occurred. Criminals like to take advantage of the situation to rob shoppers, stores, or break into cars. It bears remembering that if you leave anything visible in the car such as backpacks, bags, GPS devices and mobile phones that it may trigger a smash and grab. This has become quite an problem in San Francisco when tourists leave such gadgets plainly visible in their car.

Black Friday is often used to measure consumer spending for the upcoming Christmas season. Merchants use the data from the sales made to forecast what the projected seasonal earnings will be. If modest or low, it tells them the rest of the season will be lackluster unless they step up their marketing. If sales are booming, then retailers are looking forward to a prosperous Christmas season.

Of course if you want to avoid the whole Black Friday mess and have access to the internet, you can shop from the comfort of your home. Why stand outside a store for hours when you can order the very product you want, often with the same discount, when you can do it at home? That is something likely to get stronger if the present trends hold up which is why there is now a Cyber Monday.


Thanksgiving Day Comedy

For Thanksgiving the comedian has much to choose from. But in the end the perennial favorite is going to be the famous (or infamous) turkey drop from WKRP season 1. Many imitations but the original still has it.

But of course no Thanksgiving would be perfect without those who foolishly decide to deep fry turkey and forget some important things when deep frying turkey.

Pleasant Cruise Turns Into A Titanic Like Adventure

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Sunshine berthed at “Alto Fondale” wharf, Port of Livorno, Italy 2013
Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi (Wikipedia)

There is nothing like taking a nice cruise.  You board the ship, stow your things, and prepare for a nice cruise enjoying the sights and sounds. Except that is not what happened recently to passengers aboard the Carnival ship Sunshine. Hours after leaving Port Canaveral Florida, it experienced what the Carnival called a “technical issue.”

I didn’t think anything of it, since it’s not uncommon for ships to rock back and forth. But it didn’t rock back. It kept leaning,” said passenger David Crews, according to CBS Orlando. “Plates and silverware started sliding off the tables. Then the tables themselves started to slide. Glasses and plates started to fall and shatter. At this point, it was pure chaos. Screams. Cries. Panic.”

An electrical switchboard problem resulted in the ship tilting to one side (whether it was port or starboard is unclear right now). The result was panic. Like most people you take the occasional bumps and jolts when on the ocean as nothing. But when it did not right itself quickly and things began sliding and coming off the walls, people began to panic. And of course water started coming in making it appear the ship for the moment was in serious peril.

The situation thankfully did not last long and apparently was corrected quickly by the ship officers. The damage was done though as passengers took to social media to report what happened. Although the ship’s crew quickly got to work to clean up all the mess caused by the tilt, many just wanted to get off the ship at the next port of call (many did). The initial offer of a $50 credit by the captain was considered insufficient by many. Carnival likely had to offer other compensation to passengers who choose to leave early. And you cannot blame them. That is a pretty scary thing to go through. Thankfully though it was not at all like Titanic. However it is not a great way to start your vacation.

Sources:
1. Cruise Ship Chaos: ‘Technical Issue’ Causes Carnival Sunshine To List To One Side, Terrifying Passengers (CBS New York,1 Nov 2018)
https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/11/01/cruise-ship-chaos-technical-issue-causes-carnival-sunshine-to-list-to-one-side-terrifying-passengers/

2. A scene from the Titanic: Carnival cruise ship terrifies passengers after leaning to one side (Deseret News,2 Nov 2018)
https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900040078/a-scene-from-the-titanic-carnival-cruise-ship-terrifies-passengers-after-leaning-to-one-side.html


Happy Saturday

Happy Saturday everyone! There are no new updates regarding the Titanic auction. It is up to the judge now to make some rulings on the matter. As soon as I learn something new, I will send it out.

On a lighter note,criminals sometimes make foolish mistakes but certainly the gal in Florida who was fleeing police in a stolen vehicle earns a special notation in the Foolish, Stupid & Idiotic Criminals Encyclopedia. I found out about this from a volunteer in the nonprofit I work for. His son was the dispatcher on this call.

The moral of the story (other than the obvious crime does not pay)is to be careful where you fleeing into before making that dash from the police.


Happy Sunday

Now that autumn has arrived, we are seeing the fall colors appear. Leaves start changing color and chilly nights are becoming the norm in many places (except those who have a summer-in-fall climate like in the San Francisco Bay Area). And of course Halloween is not that far away now.  Already retailers are unpacking their Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations and will appear just before All Hallows Eve.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Autumn Landscape
Charles Rondeau (publicdomainpictures.net)

Sunday Musings

Titanic mural at Newtownards Road and Dee Street in Belfast, NI.
(Andy Welsh,http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallrevolution/68715920/)

With summer now in the rear view mirror, autumn is coming up soon. Many stores have already put out Halloween candy and a few costumes. One grocery store nearby has started making pumpkin pies and put out whole pumpkins for sale. But who puts out pumpkins in September? No one that I know of. A few commercials with Halloween themes are starting to appear as well. And of course we are starting to see just the usual beginnings of “true” ghost stories starting to appear.

Autumn is usually the transition from Summer towards Winter. The days get shorter and the nights longer. Temperatures start to drop in most areas but not always. The San Francisco Bay Area usually has its long awaited summer. Most of the year the temperatures along the coast are in the 60’s to low 70’s Fahrenheit and often cooler due to the marine layer. But in September and October, heat arrives from the interior. The wind shifts to off shore and temperatures usually soar sometimes with record breaking days. Usually it lasts just a few days at a stretch but it can be quite miserable with all the concrete radiating heat in downtown Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Most homes do not have air conditioning. We wait anxiously for the fog to return and rejoice when it brings the cooling we so desperately want. But it creates spectacularly bright days which is great for sightseeing. Beaches that normally are only visited by people walking their dogs or surfers become popular spots. Just remember that sand can be hot as well!

Of course the big news for Titanic buffs is the bankruptcy of Premier Exhibitions and the impending sale of the artifacts. The best news would be for the collection to stay in the U.S. or Britain conserved by a museum (or group of them). Hard to see how it will play out but the big money is on the Chinese to purchase it. Of course they will swear up and down they will keep it all together and in the court’s jurisdiction. I suspect though that little by little it will go over to that new theme park in China where a Titanic replica is being built. What Clive Palmer could not pull off they are doing quite handily. From all accounts, it will be quite a sight to behold.

Going over to You Tube you will find all kinds of videos about Titanic. Some are trailers or clips from the various Titanic movies. Others purport to present shocking new evidence of how it really sank. Some of the more reliable ones are from reputable sources like the History Channel, BBC and others. Then sometimes you come across one that makes you stop and enjoy. My Heart Will Go On has become an international standard from that movie and for Celine Dion her most famous song. Here is a lovely rendition of that song on a violin.


Happy Sunday

Image:Petr Kratochvil(publicdomainpictures.net)

Summer is winding down now.  Schools are starting to reopen (to the delight of parents).  And the days are slowly getting darker earlier. Still a while to the Autumn equinox but it is not that far away either. I have also seen cartons of Halloween items being stored and soon to be deployed on store shelves. But for today we can enjoy a nice Sunday and a tune from John Denver. Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Today is the Spring Equinox

Solstices and Equinoxes Image: NASAThe Spring or March Equinox is today at 16:15 UTC. This equinox marks the moment where the Sun crosses the equator and usually occurs between March 19-21 every year. Both the March and September equinoxes are when the Sun shines directly on the equator making night and day nearly equal.

The March equinox is the transition from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere but the reverse in the Southern Hemisphere (summer into fall). Various cultures celebrate March equinox as a time of rebirth. Many spring festivals are timed to coincide with the equinox and some religious events (Passover and Easter) use specific calculations based on the equinox to help determine the exact day of the event.

Though the equinox marks the changing of the seasons, it is quite common for winter effects to continue in many places far until May or even June.


Happy Sunday (And Daylight Savings Time)

Colorful Sunrise
Photo: Bobby Mikul(publicdomainpictures.net)

Happy Sunday! Today is once again a day we loose one hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings time. Some really like it while others loathe it. If you live in areas that have lots of farms, farmers do not like it much. In fact, they dislike it intensely because they have to feed and maintain their animals 365 days a year and it causes problems with their schedules.

Daylight savings time is really a misnomer. We are not saving time in any real sense of the word. The sun still rises and falls as before, it is just our measurement of the length of daylight has been altered. We get extra sunlight because our clocks move ahead one hour. Those with resorts in sunny tropical areas generally like it but Hawaii stays on standard time year round. They see no practical reason to change it. Some claim the extra hour of daylight reduces crime though studies are mixed. Likewise energy conservation is debatable as well. More recent evidence is that more energy is expended during daylight savings time rather than on standard.

Easter is not that far off now. Good Friday begins on March 30 (Passover also coincides this year as well) and Easter Sunday on April 1.