Black Friday: Dream Or Nightmare?

Friday is expected to be the start of the holiday shopping season.  People will line up in the wee hours of the morning to try to score the best deals on electronics, toys, and everything else consumers can get their hands on.  It’s essentially the biggest shopping day of the year for bargain hunters and retail chains.

And it gets ugly.

Last year, there were numerous accounts of Black Friday brutality including the story of a woman who pepper sprayed her fellow bargain-hunters, determined to get her paws on an Xbox.  Or there was the story of the man who collapsed at a major discount store and later died in the hospital from a prior heart condition.  Witnesses were said to have ignored him on the ground and continued with their shopping.

Having worked in retail on the dreaded Black Friday, I have seen what people become and it isn’t pretty.

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Rushing Towards The Holidays

Is it just me or is the Christmas season starting earlier and earlier each year?

At the end of August last year, I marvelled that Costco, a local warehouse store, was already selling Christmas items when most people were gearing up for Labor Day barbeques.  Wrapping paper, artificial trees, and pre-packaged gift sets were out for all to see and purchase.  I couldn’t believe my eyes, but, given that I was a new Costco shopper, I figured that the brand had a different retail schedule than the stores I was used to.

Clearly, I was wrong.

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Hold Your Judgment

Greetings from the Hall of Justice!

Yes Wonderlings, I am currently serving—what is becoming an annual tradition—jury duty.  I know, some of you may loathe getting that dreaded summons in the mail, but I look forward to it.  Don’t get me wrong… I am not a fan of sitting around all day long waiting for someone to call on me so I can get asked questions and then either be selected as a juror or sent back on my merry way to the pit of potential selectees, but I love getting a free paid day out of work.  It’s like a grown-up field trip.  I even arrived a half hour earlier than I needed to because I was so thrilled I didn’t have to go into the office.  Might need to rethink this whole work situation…

But enough about that, today’s post is about judgment.

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The Philosophy of Frankenweenie

Everyone knows the names of the great philosophers in life.  Aristotle believed in doing good for goodness’ sake.  Socrates held virtue above all other human characteristics.  Nietzsche thought that people were driven by achievement.  And Tim Burton argues that reality and the impossible walk a fine line.

My name is Jessica and I believe in Tim Burton.

I have been a Burtonite since I was a child with such greats as Beetlejuice, Batman, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, and what seems to be everyone’s favorite these days, The Nightmare Before Christmas frequently playing in the VCR.  Granted, it wasn’t until high school that I discovered that all of my favorite movies were from the mind of a dark and twisted genius who grew up lonely in the suburbs of Burbank, California.  In college, my world became immersed with reading his autobiography (now in a rereleased extended version) and learning everything I could about my favorite filmmaker.

So when I learned that Frankenweenie was to be remade from a live-action short film into a feature-length stop-motion animated tale, I was happier than a goth kid at a Marilyn Manson concert.

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In Defense Of The Topless Duchess

Image: TIME Magazine

Another day, another royal scandal.

As Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, continue on their Diamond Jubilee tour of Asia–today’s stop, Kuala Lumpur–the French magazine Closer published topless photos of Kate from a private vacation with William last week.  On holiday in southern France, the world famous young couple enjoyed their stay at a private hunting lodge, seemingly unbeknownst to the paparazzi lurking in the bushes.

The photos, taken as the couple sunbathed on a deck, feature the Duchess removing her bikini top presumably to avoid tan lines and enjoying some private time with her husband.  There is nothing sexual or deviant about the pictures of one of the most famous women in the world doing what so many ladies do while soaking up the sun.  How many of us have removed a bathing suit top or undone halter straps to avoid the unsightly white-to-tan skin contrast?

But that’s not the point.

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Inspirational Princesses And Bloggers

Fifteen years ago today, my family gathered around the television for a breaking news story: Diana, Princess of Wales had been in a car accident in Paris.  I was 12 and not at all interested in the Royal Family, but we were glued to the news channel.  My mom stayed up well into the night watching the coverage and when the announcement was made that the princess had died, she took it especially hard because she was only one year older than Diana and I was one year younger than Prince Harry.

Diana, Princess of Wales
July 1, 1961 – August 31, 1997

The world mourned the death of the People’s Princess.  Thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace to pay their respects by leaving photos, bouquets, and fallen tears along the gates.  At the time, I didn’t get why everyone was so upset.  Yes, a young mother had died in a horrific way, but it’s not like any of these people actually knew her.

I understand now.

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Who Moved My Blog?

When it comes to change, most people are reluctant.  There is a certain fear associated with exchanging the known path for the unknown.  Questions run through the mind: Where will it lead?  What might happen if everything you know is suddenly thrown into a spiral where up is down and black is white?

Folks react differently to change.  They get angry and sulk.  Denial sets in.  Some fall into a depression, sad that their known world is no longer known.  Some jump for joy, thrilled that the monotony is over.

Business leaders see this all the time.  They have to prepare their workforce to make sure any transition is seamless and understood by their employees.  My organization is currently undergoing a consolidation with a sister organization.  This week, we got our first look at our department’s new structure.  Some people were upset, having to work for a new manager and in a new position.  Very few were happy with the proposed change.  Others, like me, focused on the fact that having a job in the new organization was more important than where that job fit within the new structure.

Maybe I’m callous when it comes to workplace change or maybe I’m more comfortable with the challenges of working with different people in a different environment.  I am not as bothered as many of my co-workers are with this new stage in the organization’s life.  But I get it.  These people have been doing one job for decades and want to ride out their last few years before retirement with no pressure to perform any other tasks than the ones they can do with their eyes closed.  There is a certain comfort in the stability of knowing what to expect in day-to-day life.

But some things are easy to change.  Who hasn’t wanted to change their hairstyle, their outfit, or even their blog?

And that gets me to my big announcement.  After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to make a few changes around here.

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If Life Was A Board Game… Oh Wait, It Is.

Who didn’t like game time as a kid?  There were so many classics: Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Monopoly, Sorry!, Trouble.  It was so much fun to sit around a table with classmates or family members and battle to see who would be the crowned the winner.  I secretly—well, maybe not so secretly—loved to be the one who had the last checker standing.  Charlie Sheen was really on to something when he kept spouting off about “Winning!” during his meltdown.  Though I’m sure his definition was quite different from having the best word score in Scrabble.

Board games have clear-cut rules and a concrete goal which, being a Type-A person, I love.  Everyone operates under the same clear path with the same guidelines.  No room for questions.  Whether you’re trying to sink your opponent’s battleship or solve the murder of Mr. Boddy (or Dr. Black for those not in North America), there are certain steps you must take to get to get to the end of the game.  Each game comes with directions that tell you how to set up the game, how to play, and how to win.

In the Game of LIFE, players spin the wheel and move to spaces that mark life events like graduation and marriage on their way to the Day of Reckoning where one could either end up at Millionaire Acres or the Poor Farm.  Land on a 3, move your card forward three spaces.  No more, no less.  You will collect a spouse and you may or may not collect children—each noted as blue or pink colored pegs riding along in your car game piece.

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Expect Less, Enjoy More

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has had great expectations for something—be it a first date, a new movie, or a job interview—and has been let down when reality did not match up to our vision.  It can be hard to deal with and certainly disappointing when life just doesn’t go the way you expected it to.

So how can we deal with our own disenchantment and how can we prevent it from happening again?

We must expect less.

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