Tag Archives: holidays

How to survive holidays with the in-laws

With my brother Lee getting engaged, this could come in useful for Brittney on how to deal with us.

Writers: If you are not affiliated with an academic institution, avoid saying you are working on a novel. “Freelancing” is way better than any kind of “fiction writing”! The etymological meaning of freelancer as “mercenary warrior” is persuasive, and not because of the weaponry. It’s the prospect of actual money being earned that may inspire them to release you from attending Aunt Edna’s 75th birthday party. Foster confusion by saying you are “going to work in a library.” Your family will assume you got a job at the library and will congratulate you on joining the real world. When they turn away, resist the urge to spit in their beers. Academics: You will have to explain, over countless summer dinners, that just because you are not teaching doesn’t mean you have no work to do.

Future Shop

My brother Lee gave Mark a Nintendo DS for Christmas.  Mark had been working for me at the Centre helping with some odd jobs and had amassed some cash to save up for a DS (what a coincidence!).  With his DS taken care of and a glut of cash, he wanted to go out an buy Mario Party DS.  He has played it on the Wii at Lee’s place and on Christmas Eve, they were up late playing it so I knew what we were doing on Boxing Day.

Mario Party DS for the Nintendo DS We went to my top secret parking spot at Midtown Mall and ran into EB Games.  There were over 100 people lined up to get into the store.  I didn’t even entertain going in there and while Mark was sad, I promised we would check out some other places.  Wal-Mart was totally out of PSP games and almost out of Nintendo DS games and of course there was no Mario Party games.  We checked out another Wal-Mart and no luck there either.  As we were heading over to Lee’s last night, we went by Future Shop and to our shock, they had a copy that I grabbed for Mark.

After looking at DSLR’s and some other cameras (a Fujifilm S2000hd), we got into line.  Mike O left a great comment that mentioned the same experience in Fry’s a couple of years ago but with only one long line and multiple tills, the line moved briskly.  I don’t know if it is the season or if Future Shop does something right but it was the friendliest line I have ever seen.  The mother in front of us had gotten a DS as well from her teenage kids while some university students behind us were buying Guitar Hero World Tour.  Within a couple of minutes all of us were talking about technology and our purchases.  One of the guys was giving Mark Mario Party DS tips while another guy was rifling through the Coke machine to make sure all of our drinks were cold.

Future Shop Over the years there have been a lot of studies about how one line and many checkouts is quicker.  Of course many places don’t do this because psychologically people think many short lines is quicker.  My own experience is that in a longer line like at Future Shop, people are just resigned to waiting for a while and end up making the best of it by chatting with each other.  We were in line for only a couple of minutes but in the end all of us were in a lot better mood by the time we got to the tills and while the Future Shop employees were extremely pleasant, it had to make it easier on them when customers are in a good mood.

I know why stores like Safeway and Home Depot do it the other way but if Future Shop had that system, I doubt I would have even gone into the store if it was that busy.

Live Blogging Christmas Eve

With the power of the iPod Touch and the fact that I won’t be far from the interweb this year, I thought I would live blog the minutia of the holiday season.

7:00 a.m. :: Good news, the car started.

7:45 a.m. :: Used the command start to start the car again.

8:05 a.m. :: I pulled into Tim Horton’s and was startled to find that it was almost empty.  There were 20 employees all waiting to get my two coffees, an extra-large Double Double Decaf and a large black coffee.

8:30 a.m. :: Doh!, two large coffee stains on my Calgary Flames bunny hug already.

9:00 a.m. :: Voice mails all taken care of and no new e-mails to work.

9:25 a.m. :: Ollie was given a stuffed giraffe from a co-worker that even has an adoption certificate.

9:40 a.m. :: Just talked to Wendy, we need to get a present for a friend.  It’s Wal-Mart to the rescue.  I have never shopped on Christmas Eve before in my life.  Wendy tells me it isn’t so bad crowd wise after lunch.

It’s weird living in Saskatoon right now.  Our city and province is booming and seeing a lot of prosperity while around the world economies are crumbling, a lot of good people are out of work and have lost everything.  It feels a bit like I am experiencing Christmas in a bubble.  I hope in midst of the turmoil, people can find a bit of peace over the next couple of days.

11:00 a.m. :: Did a bank deposit against my will.  The cart broke and… well I don’t want to talk about it.  I think I am banned from RBC for the rest of my life.

11:30 a.m. :: Set up over 70 duffle bags of gifts for the guys for Christmas morning.  Thanks to a couple of co-workers, it went really fast.  The guys are getting nice duffle bags, dress watches, and wallets for Christmas.  In addition to that, Wal-Mart donated a lot of new clothes for the guys as well.

1:30 p.m. :: Everywhere but the shelter and the kitchen is closed for the holidays.  Still at work despite not being paid.  That’s okay, I am just chatting.

2:00 p.m. :: I just drove by Wal-Mart at Confederation Mall.  It looks like the fall of Baghdad when anarchy and the looting hit.  Who leaves all of their shopping for Christmas Eve?

3:10 :: Lee just walked in with a load of presents.  He wants to open them all now.

3:30 :: Lee gave Oliver an Amazon Rain Forest playset.  It was too big to wrap so Mark and Lee assembled it.  Oliver is loving it while Lee, Mark, and Wendy are whining that we vote on when we open presents.  I vetoed their decision.

4:30 :: Turkey is served.  Kristi has come over.  She is sick but is allowing me to play with her Nikon D80.

5:30 :: Out came the stockings.  I got a couple of McFarlane figures, Joe Mauer and Nomar Garciaparra, U2 concert DVD, a new wallet and passport holders, and some Old Spice cologne.

6:30 :: The gifts are opened. 

I gave Wendy a CBC reporters bag and a Coleman watch, while Mark gave her some photo frames and ear rings.  Ollie gave her a hand made journal from Ten Thousand Villages while Maggi gave Wendy a bake set.  In both hers and Mark’s stocking is a portable iPod case/speaker set which is designed to keep us all happy at the cabin.  Neither one of them are big headphone people.

I gave Ollie a Megablocks boat and this iPood shirt, Wendy gave him a glowing Winnie the Pooh, Mark gave him a Winnie the Pooh tub set.  Santa brought him a Lullaby Glo Worm and some Winnie the Pooh books.  Lee gave him a rain forest play set, and a Winnie the Pooh blanket.   (There seemed to be a strong Winnie the Pooh theme this year).

Wendy and I gave Mark a remote controlled helicopter that really needs to be flown outside.  Wendy gave him a learning how to draw book.  Maggi gave him a cookbook and a fishing tackle box.  Ollie gave him a 3D puzzle.  Santa brought him a skateboard, an Air Hog, and a full sized hockey net.  Lee gave Mark a Nintendo DS Lite while Hutch gave him Lego Batman.  He also gave him a Star Wars playset.  Wendy and I also got him a Sonic Superstars Tennis game, a couple of PS2 games (the advantage of having a PS2 is that games are extremely cheap), and a case for the DS.   Along the way was a Nerf soccer ball that has done a surprising amount of damage to the house.  While Mark is the most excited about the Nintendo DS, I was the most excited about getting him a tackle box.  I am looking forward to fishing with him this summer.

For Lee I gave him season one of Battlestar Galactica on DVD and a shirt from Jinx that says, “I am only here because my server is down.” Mark gave him Farcry for the Wii as well as a fishing rod (to take him fishing), while Ollie gave his uncle a gun for the Wii.   Wendy gave him a nice waffle maker as well as some mix.

For myself, Wendy gave me Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers, Mark gave me Ghost Recon 2 for the PSP, Ollie gave me a Kanye West CD (which he isn’t going to be allowed to listen to), Lee gave Mark and I Guitar Hero World Tour with two wireless guitars and he gave Wendy and I a Tim Horton’s coffee maker with a massive tin of Tim Horton’s coffee.  Maggi gave me a Roughriders Road street sign which will hung at the cabin in the spring.  Wendy really struggled with depression this Christmas and shopping for me isn’t easy at the best of time but I was pretty happy with what I was given.  There was some confusion on what kind of fishing rod she was going to get but there is a lot of time between now and the start of fishing season.  The gift that I was the most happy with is my new passport holder.  I hate the one I have now and the leather one that she got me is nicer to travel with and a lot less dorky looking than my old one.

7:15 p.m. :: The Guitar Hero wars have begun.  Mark is beating Wendy quite badly right now.

8:00 p.m. :: Lee took Mark to his apartment for a night of playing PS3 and the Wii.  Mark grabbed his DS and Wendy and I had a far quieter house to ourselves. 

9:00 p.m. :: Wahooooooo! Notre Dame is actually winning a bowl game.  I need to sit down.  It’s a bottom feeder bowl game but the streak may be over soon.

10:00 p.m. :: I have to be up early Christmas morning for work, I am calling it a night.