Black Friday has changed.

I remember a time when all the stores tired like hell to keep their ads for the annual Black Friday sale a secret and they’d get so pissed when someone leaked the ad early. These days they make Black Friday a month-long sale:

That’s just from emails I received in the past week or so.

Additionally, there’s a growing trend of sending out the actual Black Friday ads ahead of time. The folks at DealNews.com have a schedule of expected release dates for Black Friday ads. As you can see below, Kohl’s, Dell, Office Depot, and Petco have already sent out their BF ads.

Why, it’s almost like they realized that people wanted this info ahead of time and releasing it early was a good way to stir up interest. Some companies these days are having “Black Friday” sales during other months to try and drum up more sales.

I don’t really have a point to make with this entry, I just thought it was interesting in how things have changed. Once a closely guarded secret and now it’s promoted heavily ahead of time. Partially because it’s become common knowledge that the best deals are to be had on Black Friday. Except it turns out that’s probably not the case at all. Or at least, not on everything you might be shopping for

There are things that are a good deal and things you should probably avoid. The folks at HuffPost had an article last year on what to look for and what to avoid.

Spending on Black Friday had a meteoric rise from $26 billion in 2005 to $67.6 billion as of 2015.

However, competition among retailers and an oversaturation of deals mean ads are leaked increasingly earlier, discounts have become less competitive, and Black Friday has become more like Black November. In fact, the best deals aren’t actually on Black Friday. With the addition of Cyber MondaySuper Saturday and pretty much every other day of the year you can find deep discounts, Black Friday deals aren’t as compelling as they once were.

Black Friday Deals Are Mostly Dead. Here’s What You Should ― And Shouldn’t ― Buy. HuffPost.com

The advice in that article is still pretty solid. Or, you can do like I do, and just avoid it altogether by eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey and playing video games all day on Friday. It probably helps that in the past couple of years I’ve not had the extra money to do any shopping with on Black Friday in the first place, but even if I did I’d probably not bother going out and fighting the crowds. What about you guys? Do you still make the trip out to find the best deals?

I have been a homeowner for two years.

As of this past May 1st, I’ve officially owned a home for two years and we’ve lived in it for that long as of June 1st. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in that time it’s that I am not a great gardener or, for that matter, lawn up-keeper. I have a bad tendency of mowing the lawn once the grass has gone to seed which means that so far this year I’ve mowed it a grand total of three times. The lady we bought the house from was amazing at it. For example, when she was here our back yard looked like this:

So luscious! So colorful!

Today, our back yard looks like this:

Well, it’s at least green. Fortunately weeds are green.

The area behind the tree used to look like this:

Tidy-tastic!

And today it looks like this:

The opposite of tidy-tastic!

It’s probably for the best that I apologized to the neighbors the first time I met them. At least with all the rain stuff is relatively green compared to last summer when both front and back yards had a distinct brownness thanks to grass that had gone dormant from the heat. The front yard is still recovering from that and there are areas that are more weed than grass. The little kidney shaped flower garden has also lain fallow since we arrived.

Truth is, neither Anne or I are in much shape to be out on our hands and knees pulling weeds nor do I think we have the requisite skills to keeps things looking quite as good as the previous owner. I keep looking around to see if I can find someone I could hire to help whip things into shape, but you have to have surplus budget for that sort of thing.

You’ll note the difference in height pre and post-mow.

So, for now, I will continue to at least try to keep the grass at a reasonable height. I’m also trying to spray weed killer on the stuff growing in the cracks of the driveway and sidewalk, but I think I might have bought weed food instead of weed killer as it doesn’t seem to be having any impact. Frankly, I’m just glad we’ve made it through the first couple of years with the house still intact. The yard, not so much, but the house is still standing.

Random Shower Thought.

Just something that occurred to me while showering this morning.

The getting old thing sucks.

I understood from a young age that growing old wouldn’t be a picnic and I’ve met the various aches and pains I’ve developed over the years with, what I would like to believe, is a certain amount of grace and acceptance. What I’m not happy about, and what no one who ever bitched about getting old had ever mentioned to me, is how some of us (me) would develop weird little disfigurements as we age. 

Specifically, little bitty bumps. I noticed a few years back that I had a couple of little bumps on my forehead near my hairline. They didn’t hurt like a pimple and they weren’t hard like a wart. Just a couple of little bumps like tiny lunar landers had set down on my face. Well, you can’t be young and beautiful forever I suppose so I accepted the bumps as a the price of wisdom and moved on. It was only a couple so no big deal. Then today I just happened to notice that the number had grown. I now have a string of the damned things across my forehead down into my left eyebrow. What the fuck?

Crater face has arrived.
It’s like a scatterplot graph of Trump’s approval rating on my fucking forehead!
Click to embiggen, if you dare.

I didn’t sign up for this shit and I want to know who to write to in order to make a proper complaint. There’s eight of those little fuckers on my face now and I suspect they’re conspiring to increase their numbers as I sleep. I tried checking on WebMD to see if they had a name for them and now I think I might have forehead cancer. Don’t ever try to look up anything on WebMD, they always say it’s cancer. 

So I’m trying to spin this into a positive by telling myself it makes my forehead look all rugged and shit, but it doesn’t. It just looks like I’ve been practicing writing in braille on my face. Also, that little outcropping of hair at my widow’s peak is slowly losing the battle of existence and now you know why I shave my head regularly. 

Oh well. I suppose I’ll just have to live with it, but it would’ve been nice to get a warning that this was going to happen. 

Clearly we have moved into the schizophrenic part of autumn.

Here’s the high and low temps for the next 7 days in my little Michigan suburb:

Up! Down! Up! Down! I should be losing weight from this.
Click to embiggen.

Yes, I’m blogging about the weather. Sue me. It’s content.

What if English were phonetically consistent?

I’ve not posted anything in awhile so when I came across this YouTube video by Aaron Alon I thought it would make a good SEB post. 

In it he demonstrates just how weird English would sound if it were phonetically consistent the way that languages like Japanese are. He gives examples of how each vowel can have multiple sounds then picks one and proceeds to use that single vowel sound for all instances of that vowel in the words that follow. Things get increasingly weird as the video progresses. 

It’s back! Return of the Son of the SEB PODCAST!

Despite it being almost three years since the last one and no one suggesting anything for us to talk about, Dave Hill and I managed to blather on for an hour about whatever we wanted to including some spoilery talk on Avengers: Infinity War. You’ll find it embedded below and the spoilers start at 47:17 so skp the last 13 minutes if you don’t want to hear them:

The Return of the Son of the SEB Podcast.

Hey, remember how Dave Hill of ***Dave Does The Blog and I would occasionally get together online and talk about stuff that you guys wanted to hear our opinions on? Remember how the last time we did it we were both shocked and appalled that it had been three years since the previous podcast?

Well, fuck me if it hasn’t been almost three years again since the last one.

So it’s about damned time that we get together for another one. The last one was accomplished via a Google Hangouts live stream and, other than a small technical hangup audio-wise early on, it worked pretty well so we’re doing that again!

That means we’re once again looking for suggestions of things you’d like to hear us talk about whether we’re qualified to pontificate on it or not. Given the political prediction I made during the last one that I was completely and totally wrong about, you can be sure I’ll probably be completely wrong about something I say during this one.

You can leave your suggestions in the comments here, on ***Dave Does the Blog, or on our social media accounts if that’s what suits you. We’ll scrape ’em together and see what kind of trouble we can get into with them.

The actual live stream is set for 1PM EDT on Sunday the 6th of May so you’ve got some time to think up something good. I’ve got an event for it on G+, but it’s currently set to private. If there’s sufficient interest in watching it live as we stumble through it I can always make the event public. Let me know.

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In search of a dorky bike helmet.

Today is the day I finally pay off the bicycle I am purchasing in an attempt to engage in some exercise that I won’t hate doing on a regular basis. The bike itself is made by a company called Felt Bicycles, which I’ve never heard of before, and the bike itself is called The Bixby and has a bit of a retro feel to it. This is it here:

Now I’m all set to go to the sock hop on my cool new ride.

Single speed, crank backwards to brake, no frills, but able to hold up my fat ass as I endanger the local wildlife and neighborhood children while barrelling down the street at speeds no one my size and shape should be legally allowed to attain.

I’m going to look like a complete dork.

I may as well embrace that fact and find an appropriately dorky bike helmet to go with this bike. The folks at Sweet Bikes in Canton, MI already have something in mind for me when I go in today, but on the off-chance it’s not dorktaculous enough I did a Google search to see what I could find that would fit the bill. As it turns out, a lot of bike helmet designs seem to lean heavily on the “alien egg sucking on your head” philosophy such as these examples:

Those are all vaguely cool-ish looking and a little dorky in their own right, but not properly dorky. Not like, say, a watermelon helmet:

Or how about one that will match my favorite choice in shirts:

Both of those last two come from the folks at Nutcase Helmets and they’ve got a range of nicely dorky bike helmets to choose from including a Space Cats option that has me SERIOUSLY tempted because I love ALL things Space Cats.

These are all pretty dorky, but can we get even dorkier? I think we can. What about one that has built-in turn and brake signals?

Yeah, that one is $180 which is over half the price of my bike so I think we’ll skip that one for now.

Sadly, some of the absolute best dorky helmets are only available for kids. Things like these light up mohawk helmets:

Or this awesome T-rex eating your head helmet:

I’m bummed that this Lego Hair by Danish design firm MOEF bike helmet is just a prototype and not actually available:

Better than my actual hair.

Of course there’s nothing more dorky than a bike helmet trying NOT to be dorky:

Ha ha ha! We’re TOTALLY wearing bike helmets, but YOU think we’re just uber-stylish hipsters risking serious brain injury!

What is surprising is just how expensive some of these bike helmets can be. The ones from Nut Case that I’m tempted by are $70 or so, but I suppose that’s a small price to pay to keep your skull intact.

For now, we’ll see what the folks at Sweet Bikes have in mind, but I may just break down and get that Space Cats helmet in the not too distant future. That theme is one of my weaknesses. What about you guys? Got any suggestions for super-dorky bike helmets I should consider?

My encounter with a Ghost Cat.

The other night as I was headed upstairs to go to bed in the dark I happened to glance out the kitchen window where I saw a fluffy grey cat sitting bolt upright in the corner of my garage door staring back at me through the window. I was so surprised to see a cat just sitting there that I stopped and stared at it. We spent a few moments staring at each other as I was trying to determine if the cat was looking for help because it was below freezing outside and it seemed to be trying to shelter from the wind. I finally decided to go out there and see if it was in distress.

As I stepped out the side door of the house, the very next thought that popped into my head was: “And that’s how he was murdered by a ghost cat. All his wife found the next day was his slippers in front of the garage door and he was never seen again.” Which is, of course, nonsense, but I’ve seen enough horror movies in my time for my brain to jump right to that scenario. So it was a little startling when I rounded the corner of the house and there was no sign of a cat. At all.

I took a couple steps to look down the side of the garage and out of the corner of my eye I saw a cat shaped blur run down the neighbor’s driveway. So, he/she was fine. When I got back inside, Cuddles came out from behind the blinds of the doorwall. Turns out they had been having a cat-off and I interrupted them. My bad.