Friday, November 28, 2014

5 Things on a Friday: Black Friday Edition

It's Black Friday, and I don't mind telling you that I ate too much last night at dinner.  It was worth it.  We had tons of Sally's family over, along with Hannah's best friend and the best friend's mom.  That's a total of thirteen people!

With that many folks, I thought we might struggle to feed everyone.  However, we had a seventeen pound turkey, at least two full trays of stuffing (including one gluten free!), a whole roast pork loin, and tons and tons of other stuff.  We wound up eating much less than half of the food we prepared, but as Thanksgivings go, this was a good one.
1.  Thanksgiving.
So yeah, I grilled our turkey, and while I was sitting out there, it started snowing.  At least initially, this was not fun.  I was out there by myself, and although it didn't stick, the snow came down so thickly and wetly that I didn't want to leave Sally's iPad out in it despite the fact that I really wanted to watch the Lions beat down the Bears.  For a good little while there, I was seriously annoyed.

I smoked our turkey on the grill.  It took about four hours.
I set my phone out under an awning and listened to the game on the radio while monitoring the grill.  Managing grill temperature proved to be harder than I thought it would be because it was cold and because the charcoal I used was real wood chunks.  That's great for your food, but it makes actual cooking a pain in the ass.

Despite the fire, I froze my ass off for awhile.  I melted
the toes of my shoes trying to get my feet warm.
Thankfully, I was not out there by myself for more than an hour or so.  By the time the game kicked off its second half, I had company, the fire got hotter, and the beer started flowing.  This turned out to be a pretty good time.

Eventually the snow stopped, and company arrived.  This was a decided
It took patient effort, but the turkey came out really well.
If I had to pick a highlight of the day, it would be when my nephew Jesse started asking me about the Army.  Jesse is a freshman at NYU and has rather abruptly realized that he doesn't want to be the next Wolf of Wall Street.  He misses the comeradery of his old high school football team, and I think he also realizes that there are many more ways to live your life besides just trying to make money.  I suggested transferring to UConn and joining the ROTC program.

I told Jesse that the Army is looking for smart guys who can haul a heavy-ass rucksack on their backs without being so lost in the physical nature of the thing that they can no longer think.  The number of folks who can do both--use their brains and their brawn--is small and shrinking.  That seemed to appeal to him.  It appealed to me at that age, too.  Service is important, but that it can also be rewarding.  But the next step is up to him.

"Economists are closely watching whether retailers can entice shoppers to spend during what retailers consider the biggest shopping weekend of the year, especially after a year of lackluster sales so far. A brightening economic outlook, and ever-cheaper gas prices, are starting to lift consumer confidence. But there are also signs of lingering wariness among consumers, after what has been an uneven economic recovery marked by anemic wage growth, especially for low-income households."

Lots of retailers were open yesterday, which makes me feel bad for the folks who had to work, especially in the evening.  But there are supposed to be a ton of good deals out there if you're into that sort of thing.  The article notes that the best time to actually buy something is shortly after Black Friday, when stores try to move the rest of their Black Friday merchandise before re-ordering.  After that, prices will slowly rise until we reach Christmas.

Speaking personally, I hate the commercialism of the Christmas season but find its economics fascinating.

3.  Darth Vader vs. Batman (Super Power Beat Down)
This was easily the coolest thing I saw this week.

There are a ton of these Super Power Beat Down videos, but this one is the best by far.  I guess the Super Power Beat Down guys must be making some money with it because their video quality has gone up exponentially from where it was when they started.

"In major cities throughout the United States, taxi medallion prices are tumbling as taxis face competition from car-service apps like Uber and Lyft.

"The average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data...

"Drivers must own or rent a medallion to operate a taxi, and the city issues a fixed number of them. In New York, which established its medallion system in 1937, that number is 13,437. The number has risen only gradually since the late 1990s, even as the city’s economy has boomed."

I've got nothing to add beyond noting disruption in the marketplace tends to benefit consumers at the expense of providers.

5.  Friday Hair Metal: Epic
Gotta get you fired up for the day's shopping!

Stay safe out there.

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