Black Friday Success

As a man who feels himself in charge of his own destiny, I have developed a set of rules that help me to more effectively enjoy life.  For the most part, if I do not want to do something, and it does not hurt my family, then I do not do it.  For instance, I do not do garage sales.  I find them to be an extreme whipping, and I would rather just give my old useless stuff to a deserving charity.  So, I do.  Another activity that I have chosen not to take part in is the greatest shopping day of the year, also known as Black Friday. 

This year, I have been completing the game room in my home.  This includes a beautiful bar with a pub theme, a couch, bookshelves and seating.  The only thing that was missing was a television.  The plan had been to wait until I received this year’s tax refund, and buy an LCD HDTV, which would be my first.  However, after reviewing our finances, my wife and I had decided to buy one for Christmas, and finish out the room.

We traveled to my in-laws’ house on Wednesday, and prepared for a long Thanksgiving weekend with our little girl receiving loads of attention.  However, when we told my father-in-law of the plan to purchase a television, he went into internet action. 

I had looked at some prices in the past week, and had decided that I would probably be buying an off-brand 40 inch, 1080P for around $800-$900.  My father-in-law, being a veteran after Thanksgiving shopper knew that I had an opportunity to save a significant amount of money.

He looked at several sales, including online sales, and found some good buys.  Then, he ran across the sales ad for Sears.  It had several great buys on televisions.  I was interested in the 46 inch Sharp 1080P LCD HDTV for $899.00.  This was a $500.00 savings, and suddenly I found myself more motivated.

Unfortunately, my in-laws live about 80 miles from the nearest Sears, so my wife and I got up at 3:00 a.m. and set out for Lawton, OK.  First, I needed gas, and that meant finding a station that would sell it to me in Altus.  After three attempts, I obtained gas, and, more importantly, coffee, and we were on our way.

I began to get worried when I passed a Wal-Mart on the outskirts of Lawton at about 4:00 a.m., a full hour before their sale was to begin.  The parking lot way already half full.  Then about 4:20 we got to the mall, and saw that J.C. Penny which opened at 4:00 a.m. was already a madhouse.

We drove around the corner to the Sears, and I felt a little better when I saw the line waiting outside was not too long.  We placed ourselves in the line in the 40 degree weather behind about 60 people, and I was sure that they were all there to buy my television.  As time drew on, the line grew to the end of the building, curved down another wall, and then out of sight around another corner of the building.

The store opened promptly at 5:00 a.m. and the crowd briskly dispersed throughout the store.  We went directly to the televisions.  When we got there, there were already about 50 people roaming around, and grabbing the tags that referenced the various televisions.  We made a great decision when we decided to seek out a salesperson first.  We went to the register where the sales people were quickly devising a plan for dealing with the mayhem.  Their plan was to simply to form a line at each register and deal with the customers two at a time (one at each register).  Luckily the line just materialized behind us, and we ended up being third in line.

I paid close attention, and quickly realized that we had a problem.  The first question that the man at the register asked was what the SKU# was.  We had simply printed the front page of the ad off the internet, and the small print was illegible.  Therefore, I sent my wife in search of the correct SKU# and prayed that she would find it quickly.  She found the only Sharp 46 inch 1080P LCD HDTV on display, and quickly returned with the number.  The man looked it up and said that there were four in stock.  We were relieved and completed the transaction.  He informed us where we needed to go to find the Customer Pick-up department.

We drove around, and easily found the loading area with one empty space still available.  I did not plan this as a commercial for Sears, but let me say, their pick-up department has its ducks in a row.  There was a nice man there who showed me where the machine was that I needed to scan my receipt through.  There was a beep, and I looked up to see my name on a screen just like at an airport.  It showed how many people were in front of me (four), and how long I had waited.

We were waiting patiently when tragedy stuck.  My wife looked at the receipt and realized that we had been charged $1296.00 for the television that was supposed to cost $899.00.  I felt a little sick.  I suddenly had visions of the lines that we had left- the ones that had about fifty people in them apiece when we left several minutes earlier.

I showed the receipt and the ad to the nice man who had helped us a few minutes earlier, and he offered to get the dock manager for me.  The dock manager, Robert, quickly determined that I had bought the wrong Sharp 46 inch 1080P LCD HDTV.  There were two different ones.  I felt sick again because I knew it was my own fault.  I quickly developed an exit strategy.  I would just get my money back, admit defeat, and buy another television that we saw on Amazon.com that was a 42 inch Sony for the same price.  However, before I could even say a thing, Robert said, “Come this way, I can fix this.”  He quickly reversed the charges on the first television and sold us the new one.  After thanking both men profusely, we were loaded and on the road in only about five more minutes.  We drove back to my in-laws’ house and climbed back into bed at about 7:00 a.m.

Success.

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Top 50 War Movies #20-11

20) The Last of the Mohicans– (78/100)- This is a great movie, but the fact that it is a fiction that varies widely without good reason from the book from which it is derived drives it down the list some.  Still, the graphic examples of siege and Indian battles in pre-Revolutionary War America are superb.  This one uses the whole screen for the battles.  If you rent it, be sure to get it in letterbox, or you’ll have trouble making sense of the battle sequences.

19) Gallipoli– (79-100)- This is an excellent movie about the abortive British invasion of Turkey during WWI.  It is probably the best movie set in WWI, and though the importance of the battle can be called into question, it is an excellent depiction of the true waste of life that was characteristic of armies during the First World War.

18) God’s and Generals– (80/100)- This prequel to Gettysburg follows the battle career of Stonewall Jackson.  It is not nearly as great a film as Gettysburg, but has some of the best Civil War battle sequences that can be found in film.

17) El Cid– (81/100)- This is another epic made in the 1960s.  It stars Charlton Heston, and recounts the story of a Spaniard, Rodrigo Diaz (El Cid) who succeeded in driving the Moors out of Spain and changing the destiny of Europe.  There are some good battle scenes, and in the end, El Cid, who is dead by this time, is tied to his horse and leads his army to victory.

16) Battle of the Bulge– (81/100)- This fictionalized presentation of one of the most famous battles of WWII would have scored higher if it had stayed truer to history.  It has good acting and battle scenes, but the terrain often does not look like a heavy forest, and there is a distinct lack of snow.  Also, the lack of a mention of Patton in the movie is regrettable.  He should have gotten a little credit.  That being said, it is a very watchable war movie.

15) The Thin Red Line– (81/100)- This movie seems like a compilation of vignettes each of which is extremely well acted.  The battle scenes are also very good.  That being said, the editing and final composition of the movie is very much a hodgepodge.  Also, the artistic sequences are terrible.

14) Kingdom of Heaven (81/100)-  Kingdom of Heaven is a refreshing fictionalized account of the Crusades.  The battles and siege warfare found in this film are superb.  It is also refreshing to find a movie about the Crusades that it fair to all sides.  Neither Christianity nor Islam is the bad guy in this film.  There are both good and bad people on each side, and unfortunately, as in real life there are often more bad people than good.  This movie would have been better received if it had not been released at the height of anger toward the Iraq war.

13) Band of Brothers– (81-100)- HBO’s presentation of Stephen Ambrose’s books could have been done better.  It was clear that producers Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg were most concerned with conveying the every day lives (and deaths) of the soldiers of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne as they moved across Europe during WWII.  It seemed a little tedious at times, but it would be hard to compete with I terms of conveying the experience of WWII frontline soldiers.  Of course, most movies do not have 10 hours plus to play with.

12) The Big Red One– (87/100)- The plot of this movie follows Lee Marvin’s character, the Sergeant from the end of WWI through the end of WWII.  It centers on his platoon as they move from battle to battle.  It also shows many of the issues faced by front line soldiers during WWII.

11) Black Hawk Down– (87/100)- It is hard to find fault with this as a war movie, but it is not for the faint of heart.  It is easily the best war movie set in a time after Vietnam.  I was not thrilled with the score, and the actual event pales in comparison to battles such as Midway, but these are minor criticisms.  I recommend watching the documentary, The Real Story of Black Hawk Down to see how accurate the movie really is.

Top 50 War Movies Criteria

Top 50 War Movies 10-1

Top 50 War Movies 20-11

Top 50 War Movies 30-21

Top 50 War Movies 40-31

Top 50 War Movies 45-41

Lists

 

Andy Rooney is Proud of America, and I am Sick of Him.

Like most good Americans, I am sick of Andy Rooney, and find myself continually wondering whose blood he sucked-out last night in order to buy one more minute of life on this Earth.  Of course, the obvious answer is that he lives off the ‘life force’ which he sucks from his viewers on a weekly basis. 

Normally, I would just avoid him all together, but my wife and I watch the Amazing Race every week (usually on tape due to my own professional football watching commitments).  Because 60 Minutes is preceded by a nationally televised football game, it almost always starts late, and as a result, I have scheduled series recordings for Amazing Race and Cold Case, so that I always get the entire Amazing Race program for the week.  Each week, I fast forward through the rest of 60 Minutes, looking for the beginning of the Amazing Race. 

Usually, the only effect Andy Rooney has on me is to have to look at his face as I fast forward to the end of the program.  This week, however, as I saw him going by, I noticed the caption of Obama behind him, and was intrigued.  I stopped the DVR and looked at my wife, and said, “Surely, he is not praising America for electing Obama.”  I rewound to the beginning of the segment and I sat mouth agape and watching him spew some of the worst drivel that I’ve ever seen on television.  Usually, his rants are so inane that they are easily dismissed and forgotten, but in this one he actually told the viewers how proud he was to live in an America where the people, 80% of whom are white, could vote-in a black man to be their president.

This is mind-boggling.  The implications of his statements in this segment are far reaching.  Does that mean that if America, where 80% of the people are white, had not chosen to make Obama president that it would have been an indication of our inherent continued racism?  I honestly believe this old man would have scolded America if Obama had not been elected.

Any presidential race should be less about color and personality than it is about ideology.  Rooney does not have enough faith in the American people to think that they could vote for a candidate based on political ideas.  Honestly, I do not have that much faith in the American people (at least the 16% who decide elections) either, but not because I think American is full of closet racists.  Unfortunately, I believe those 16% who are not motivated to vote based on political ideology probably did vote for Obama, not because he was black or a liberal, but because he was telegenic and speaks well as opposed to McCain.  [The hard-core liberal will have to forgive me here.  I know that they voted for Obama out of ideology, and I respect the fact that they are at least voting for a candidate that supports their political point of view.  There are simply not enough hard-core liberals or hard-core conservatives in America to win the Presidency.]

My point here is that I simply resent the implication in Rooney’s statement that those who voted against Obama did so because he was a black man.  I wonder if Rooney would have felt the same way if it had been Condoleezza Rice who had been the black candidate running for the Republican ticket.  I doubt it, but I would have voted for her in a second.  And, just think, American could have doubly assuaged its guilt by electing her president.