Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping an eye out now for those great sales!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

With Halloween and Remembrance Day out of the way, the Christmas shopping season has begun in earnest. Although many people follow sales like a religion, this is the only time of the year that I faithfully check out the flyers that show up in my mailbox and in the newspaper. (With apologies to this newspaper's advertisers.)

Some of the deals you can get are simply awesome. Stuff is half price or better on a good day. And with the holiday shopping season upon us, it's time to start looking for those deals so that the new year doesn't arrive with a mountain of debt . . . and regret!

But now that I'm regularly checking out the sales, I remember why I normally skip them and buy what I need regardless of whether it's on sale or not. Sure, I would save money by following the sales, but I find that it's so stressful trying to figure out whether or not you got a good deal.

For instance, something that's marked down by 50 per cent in one store looks like a great deal. Well, in fact, it is a great deal. But why is it that every time I buy it, it's on for 60 per cent off at another store? I swear, it becomes so exasperating to try and get the best deal that I just give up.

I get way too paranoid. Am I being ripped off? If I wait one more week, will an even bigger special come on that pair of silk fur-lined underwear I've had my eye on?

Despite the fact that all these sales flyers drive me crazy, I can't help but look at them at this time of year because some of the deals are just so amazing that it would be irresponsible not to take advantage of them, but only if it's something that you're going to buy anyway. We've all been caught in the trap of buying a case of peanut butter-scented deodorant just because it's on sale for 99 per cent off. "Dad likes peanut butter. It'll be a great Father's Day gift!"

My problem is that when I buy something, I keep it, even though it's something I decide I don't want or need. This is in stark contrast to people who I call "sport shoppers". These are the people (usually women) whose hobby it is to shop and then return things. I'm sure you know people like this. I know I do.

One friend of mine is so bad (or good, depends on what side you're on) at this that I can predict with almost 100 per cent certainty that anything she buys will be returned. She never settles for her first choice. She has to buy it, return it, and then get the colour, style or size that she wanted in the first place.

I guess I shouldn't judge, though. Whenever I buy a lettuce or cauliflower at the grocery store, I might as well throw it away the minute I get home. If you've never heard a head of lettuce scream in terror, just listen closely whenever I pick one out at the supermarket. "Oh no! No! Don't choose me! I don't want to rot in the refrigerator! I've always dreamed of being in a salad ever since I was just a little seed! No! You'll never eat me! I don't want to die like this! No-o-o!"

Ever notice how a cat clings on to you with its claws when you try to put it down? Well, heads of lettuce do that to each other whenever I go grocery shopping. "Hey, grab Ernie over there. He's got some brown leaves on him already! He's dead inside already."

If I actually finish eating an entire head of lettuce without throwing at least half of it away, they say an angel gets its wings and that a bratty teenager is spared the heartbreak of acne. It's that miraculous.

Part of the danger of scanning the sales flyers closely is that you will buy what you don't need. Men who like tools are likely the worst for this. "Look, honey! The hardware store has those fancy German Doohickeyhoffen wrenches on for half price!"

"Gerry, those wrenches can only be used to fix the tailpipe on a 1969 Jaguar."

"But... I want one... I need one... It's half price... I will die without it... The sun will implode."

Been there, done that. That would explain the 604 mixing bowls of various sizes, depths and colours that fill my cupboards. I'm a sucker for a nice mixing bowl or any other kitchen gadget on sale. Need to carve a cucumber into the shape of the Eiffel Tower? I have a gadget for that. Have a recipe for pureed salmon teeth? I have a salmon tooth puree machine, too! And God help me if any of this stuff goes on sale. I'm there in a flash with a glazed-over look and a credit card that is literally screaming in terror.

You've heard of the movie The Silence of the Lambs? Well, put me in a kitchen gadget store having a half-price sale and the movie would be called The Screams of the Credit Card. Hear that little plastic-like voice coming from my wallet? "No! No! Not the electric alfalfa sprout peeler! No!" Ah, shut up. It'll only hurt for a minute.

So, yeah! Following sales stresses me out big time. Either I'm afraid of being sucked into buying something I don't need, or I finally buy something and then find it on sale for 250 per cent off the week after. Or maybe I feel the urge to wake up earlier than the birds to get to the store to stand in line for it to open.

Sorry, but there isn't anything I want badly enough to wait in line at 6 a.m. for the store to open. Well, except for that beautiful solar-powered walnut slicer on sale at the kitchen gadget store. You know, the slicer that comes with a 10-year warranty and a 65-page recipe book for only $199.99!

I'll die without it! It'll change my life! Cha-a-arge it!

I used to love this toy as a kid!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Be careful when you're on live television...

Warning: Strong language.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day 2008

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada - a day for honouring our veterans and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Click here for more details about Remembrance Day.

For the past few weeks throughout the country, Canadians have been wearing a poppy in honour of our veterans. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, "the Poppy Campaign is one of the Royal Canadian Legion's most important programs. The money raised from poppy sales provides direct assistance for ex-service people in financial distress, as well as funding for medical appliances and research, home services, care facilities, and numerous other purposes."

Pittance of Time by Terry Kelly. Click on the song title for the remarkable story behind this song.

In Flanders Fields.

Green Fields of France by John McDermott - an absolutely breathtaking song.

And the Band Played Waltzing Mathilda by the Clancy Brothers.

At 11 a.m. today, please bow your heads for two minutes of silence in remembrance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Please observe Remembrance Day tomorrow...

November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States. Please take the time to observe a moment of silence at 11 a.m. in honour of our veterans.

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about the stress of finding the best deal in all those holiday sales flyers that are being stuffed into mailboxes and newspapers in the days leading up to Christmas.

If you're like me, you like finding good deals, but it's also stressful beyond belief to wonder if there isn't an even better one out there. Eventually, it's just too much to bear. And there's always the danger of buying things you don't need just because they're on sale...

Read Hump Day on the editorial page of Wednesday's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted here on Thursday.