Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Happy Belated [insert holiday here]

Posted by Fred on December 26, 2007

Here’s hoping your Hanukkah/Christmas/Festivus/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa was a happy one (that last one hasn’t happened yet, but you get the idea).  We carried on a family tradition and probably started a new one.  The old tradition, which probably doesn’t have too much time left, was tracking Santa with Norad.  We’ve been doing this since the beginning, and times have changed since it was a few videos accessed via dial-up. This year, we tracked Santa in Google Earth, which was updated every 60 seconds using the Google Earth fly-over animation. This had the added benefit of teaching the kids more world geography and keeping their attention (no more waiting five minutes or more for updates).  The latter being especially important with a five-year-old that really didn’t want to leave presents under the tree for another day.

The new family tradition, which is really an old Richmond tradition, was a trip to the Byrd Park Carillon for the Richmond Community Nativity Pageant.  This half-hour production began on the steps of the State Capitol in 1924, and has been around so long that Douglas Southall Freeman (b. 1886), former editor of the Richmond News-Leader and Pulitzer Prize winning historian, was the original narrator.  This was the 76th production of the pageant, which since 1987 has been sponsored by a non-profit community foundation since the city acknowledged the obvious church-state conflict.  It’s a nice production, complete with orchestra, choir and a cast of about 300.  The weather even held out long enough for the show to go on.

The materialistic side of the holiday was a hit as well.  The eight year old got his Wii, which dutifully reported to us that it was played for eight hours and 55 minutes on Christmas Day.  Wii Sports got the inevitable workout, but Mario Party 8 was a bigger hit. He’s off to the target today to get Madden NFL 08 at the after-Christmas sale.  The five year old was pretty thrilled with everything, but three teddy bears and three new Webkinz were particular favorites.  The Webkinz site was hammered all day, so only one of the Webkinz was actually added to her account successfully.  The Gorilla and the Pig will have to wait.

I got some clothes, which is nice considering that fatblogging has depleted my wardrobe in a good way.  I also have a new Philips digital photo alarm clock that I’m keen to play around with, and will be going to see Ira Glass at the Modlin Center in February.  My big present won’t come until I’ve traded in gift cards and cash, however.  I’m torn between a new laptop and finally going hi-def with an LCD.

I got the wife some jewelry, and she received additional jewelry from family.  Her favorite presents, however, may have been glassware – some Luminarc from her parents and glasses from Anthropologie from me.


Posted in Holidays, Shopping | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How I Got My Hands on a Wii

Posted by Fred on November 30, 2007

Wired has a nice explanation of Why You Can’t Get Your Hands on a Wii.  Nintendo says they’re trying to keep up:

Ultimately, Wii production numbers — and the United States’ allocation of consoles — are determined by Nintendo’s home office in Kyoto, Japan. [Nintendo Senior Vice President George] Harrison says the company will continue producing 1.8 million Wiis every month until demand subsides.That should happen next spring. But with many high-profile game releases coming after Christmas, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart, Wiis could be hard to find well into 2008.

And if you want to put a Wii under the tree, without going to one of those eBay scalpers? “It’s going to take some luck,” says Harrison, who notes that retailers sometimes hold Wiis off store shelves until Sunday mornings, when the advertisements go out in the paper.

It was with much trepidation that I heard just before Thanksgiving that a Wii would be in the letter to Santa this year (although it’s probably still better than the fart machine that was also on the list for a while).   Thanksgiving morning was a bust – Kmart advertised Wiis, but the Lynchburg, VA store (where we were over the holiday weekend) only got 10, and 6 AM wasn’t nearly early enough.  I then tried an online inventory tracker for the Wii, but that was a bust, too. It reported stock at Sears a few times, but that was mostly due to Sears’ busted code. had I been awake at the right time, however, it may have let me get a Wii when Amazon infamously posted some.

We have a Wii now, and we got it the only way that seems to work – we sicked  my Mother-in-law on them.  She was also looking for a Wii for my niece, and by calling around was able to find out when stock was to arrive at Kmart (for Wii #1) and Target (for Wii #2).  So be diligent, and you’ll get your Wii.  It helps to be looking in a smaller market – the “pester the electronics manager at the big box store” strategy didn’t work nearly as well in Richmond (projected 2008 population 1,093,227) as in Lynchburg (230,651).

It’s not necessary to buy the $677 Walmart bundle or drop hundreds on Ebay (which currently has one with a Buy It Now price of $250,000 which appears to be in jest and one at $1299.99 which appears to be serious). I’m out of pocket about $300 ($249 plus an extra Wiimote and Nunchuck).  Now to make my Christmas list (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Smash Bros. BrawlGeometry Wars: Galaxies, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed).

Posted in Shopping, Technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

AFA says PetSmart doesn’t exclude non-Christians enough

Posted by Fred on November 15, 2007

Another day, another whiny missive from the American “Family” Association complaining that retailers don’t do enough to exclude non-Christians. Today, it’s PetSmart:

At PetSmart, Christmas doesn’t exist. It is not to be found anywhere on their Web Site. AFA checked out the local PetSmart store and there was no Christmas there, either.

A search on PetSmart’s home page found 252 references to “holiday.” It also found 43 references to “Christmas.” But, alas, this is very misleading. When you click on “Christmas” you are directed to a page containing the same gifts you get when you search for holiday. Of all the items that pop up when you search for Christmas, not a single one mentions Christmas or is identified as being a Christmas gift.

waronxmas.pngI have to say that this has me puzzled. The AFA has always insisted that retailers are hating on Christians if they use the word “holiday” instead of the word “Christian.” That’s bad enough, given that it seems perfectly reasonable for a retailer to attempt to market to all customers, even the ones who don’t buy into the whole Jesus thing.  It’s not as if PetSmart has a Festivus section but no Christmas section.  Now they seem to have gone a step further, and demand that retailers have Christian-only merchandise, accessible by searches for “Christmas” but not “holiday.”  That’s just absurd, but not surprising coming from the bigots at the AFA.  Once again: there is no War on Christmas. Retailers just want to sell lots of stuff, even to Jews and atheists.

It does make one wonder – what would these special Christmas, not holiday, pet gifts look like?  Sackcloth doggie sweaters or a cat-sized cilice maybe.

Posted in Politics, religion | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Holiday Spam, in German

Posted by Fred on October 26, 2007

German spam looks funny. This is a message in my Gmail spam folder.


I don’t speak German, but that sure looks like an offer to sell Christmas trees, which is a first in my experience.

Posted in Funny, Technology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Bogus “War on Christmas” Complaints Begin Again

Posted by Fred on October 12, 2007

waronxmas.pngIf it’s the fourth quarter of the year, it must be time for the American “Family” Association’s annual complaint about the non-existent War on Christmas. Today’s entry, courtesy of an AFA Action Alert email¹ (ooh, how self important that Alert sounds):

Mrs. Fields bans Christmas from their products

Dear Fred,

Mrs. Fields has become the first company to ban Christmas from their products and promotion for this year.

When Diane H. of Michigan called Mrs. Fields and asked to speak with a supervisor in customer service about why they banned Christmas, the supervisor told Diane that they do not offer anything with Merry Christmas because they don’t want to offend anyone.

Take a look at Mrs. Fields Holiday Gift Preview by clicking here. In the “search” bar, type in the word “Christmas.” But don’t expect to find any reference to Christmas. (If you do, it has been added since this letter was written.)

Mrs. Fields wants the business of Christians who celebrate Christmas, but they don’t mind if they offend Christians.

It is true that you can’t buy a Mrs. Fields cookie tin with the words Merry Christmas or a picture of Jesus on it (the secondary complaint of the AFA being, of course, that merchants take the religion of out Christmas, the Reason for the Season and all that, assuming you ignore that inconvenient pagan winter solstice holiday that the early Christians appropriated). You can’t get a Hanukkah menorah or the usual Kwanzaa color pattern, either. Or a Festivus pole. Mrs. Fields, like all merchants, tries to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible, so it offers Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth cookie tins. They certainly haven’t stopped you from using Merry Christmas in your gift card, if that’s what floats your mythical ark.

The AFA and its ilk need to get over themselves. That Mrs. Fields or whomever next week’s Action Alert is about chooses not to affirm your particular belief system doesn’t mean they’re at war against you. That they’re not enabling your proselytizing should not cause offense. But of course it does, because what the AFA really wants is societal affirmation of the One True Faith (and disaffirmation of Judaism, Islam, Atheists, Buddhists, homosexuals, non-whites, sex, adult language and whatever else they’re offended by). That’s not my family, is it yours?

¹ I get these emails because I like to appropriate AFA’s email system to send messages of support to their targets, such as Ford (vilified by the AFA for actually marketing to homosexuals). I also appropriate the complaintbot of the Parents Television Council to send messages to the FCC with which the PTC would not approve.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »