Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Still Hearing Christmas Music

It's been two days since Christmas ended.  I was looking forward to going to work on Monday with no more Christmas music playing over the intercom.  No such luck, the Christmas music is still playing, although intermittently, as it was before Thanksgiving.  But now that Christmas is over, it makes no sense to still be playing the stuff.  I'll admit I still have my tree and lights up, but I've heard enough Christmas music already.  And I'm not sure when I'll be putting my Christmas stuff away, but likely it will be by then end of this week.  But I cannot stand hearing anymore music as stores are starting to display Valentines stuff. At left is a quick shot of boxed valentines spotted today at Kmart.  And nowhere else I've been the last two days has been playing Christmas music after the fact.  At least I did not hear any as I went through Kmart and later Target and Safeway today.  Discounted Christmas merchandise is still in the stores of course, but that is to be expected.  And my store has inventory next week, so we will be keeping out the Christmas stuff for a while.

I won't be working for the rest of this week, because there will be more more shipments until after inventory, but I'm hoping the Christmas music will be gone entirely by next week.  A lot of the Christmas songs have been stuck in my head, something I didn't expect to be happening during the two days after Christmas. Enough already!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Quiz: The Christmas Sweater Test

You Are Fun During Christmas

You are affectionate yet mischievous. You have a warm, welcoming spirit - but you also like to spice things up.
You think Christmas is a time for cheer. You do your best to lift everyone's spirits.

You are super laid back and peaceful. Not much disturbs you.
You do your best to stay away from holiday drama, and you usually succeed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quiz: What Does Your Christmas Say About You?

Your Christmas is Modern

Your wish for the New Year is more happiness.

For you, Christmas is secular holiday. Religion doesn't play a big part in it.

You are a little impatient when it comes to Christmas. You can't wait to open your presents.

You like Christmas traditions, but you're not uptight about them. You do things your way.

You have some preferred ways of celebrating Christmas, but you're open to compromise.

You love Christmas. You enjoy almost every aspect and tradition of the holidays.

You give a big during the holidays but nowhere near as much as you'd like to.

Quiz: The Gingerbread Cookie Test

You Are Kind and Caring

You're the type of person who just naturally appreciates and respects others. You think ill of very few people.
You are naturally open minded and nonjudgmental. You're a good listener, and you end up hearing many secrets.

You reach out to everyone during the holidays, and your acts of kindness and generosity are remembered throughout the year.
You are easily touched this time of year. Even the right holiday card or little gift can move you.

Quiz: What Crappy Christmas Gift Are You?

You Are a Losing Lottery Ticket!

Full of hope and promise.
But in the end, a cheap letdown.

Quiz: What will Be in Your Christmas Stocking?

Your Christmas Stocking Will Be Filled With a Stuffed Animal

Either Santa got your Christmas wish many years late...
Or he secretly thinks you're a bit immature!

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #12

Well, it's Christmas Eve and I'm just waiting to go to my family's Christmas Eve dinner and present game tonight.  Been home most of the day, Since the stores I usually browse on Saturday are either closed or crowded today.  I made sure to get everything I knew I needed yesterday afternoon so as not to face the crowds at the stores today.  In order to get out of the house for a while I walked across the street to the liquor store to pick up a holiday lottery ticket.  Just like the other day, I did not win, but it was fun. And unlike the other day, I did not even come close to winning anything this time.  But it was still fun to try.

Just want to wish everyone a Happy Christmas Eve and Merry Christmas tomorrow.

Friday, December 23, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #11

Well, it's only two days till Christmas,  and what to say today.  Lots of stuff, actually; too hard to stick to just one thing today.

First of all, for those like me whose families celebrate on Christmas Eve,  today is the day to get stuff you need, in order to fight the crowds tomorrow.  But today seemed crowded.  I planned to look at Target today, but the parking lot was packed. Same was true at the Goodwill and Dollar Tree, which are next door to each other and have  two adjacent parking lots.  I didn't even bother with Kmart, but I bet their parking lot was packed as well.  I guess Christmas Eve Eve is the new day for getting last minute stuff, or could it be just for this year, since Christmas Eve is a Saturday this year.  Or it could be others who have diner on Christmas Eve, who don't want to be at Safeway or Target tomorrow.  Tomorrow won;t be like most Saturdays, no glancing at stuff at any of those stores or at the hospital thrift store which will be closed until January 3. It's only open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and I almost always go to look on Saturdays.

I'd worked later than planned today, and the Mexican food our store manager had ordered for our Christmas potluck had arrived later than my lunch period, so I hung around after checking out for the day to enjoy some of the food.  We also had our Secret Santa gift exchange today.  Because I'd worked later, I did not get to the post office until about 2PM, then headed out to the stores.  Since tomorrow is Saturday, I'd decided ahead of time to make something for Christmas Eve dinner, something I've not had time to do the last few years.  But instead of baking something, I decided to get some fruit punch and 7Up for some holiday punch.  I knew I had to get to Safeway today, and I was just barely able to find a parking space.  I got the stuff and then took it to my mom's house, so I would not have to make two trips tomorrow, and  because her house is just a few roads up from Safeway.  Then I remembered I needed to get paper towels and wasn't sure how much milk I had, so before going home, I went to Savemart, and as always, they weren't crowded like Safeway gets.  I did not want o be one of those unfortunates who runs out of stuff like this on Christmas Eve,  so this trip was necessary. And I did not want to be look like a slacker either who puts off getting this stuff until that day.  So once the trip to Savemart was over, it was finally time to get home.

One thing I'll be glad about when I return to work on Monday is that the Christmas music will be gone until next year.  I don't totally hate it, but hearing Christmas music all day long since the day after Thanksgiving can get tiring, especially hearing three or more different versions of the same song in one day.  And then going into other stores and hearing more of the same.   Well, actually there were some instances where I heard something on a store intercom that wasn't Christmas music.  Sometime last week the Clash's "Rock the Casbah" was playing in the middle of December, at Safeway, of all places. Seemed weird hearing such a song when everyone was probably expecting to hear Christmas music.  And just yesterday I went into McDonald's  for lunch and when I entered the restaurant, some Christmas song was playing.  I don't remember what it was, and don't really care, but I know it was one I'd heard a million times at work.   However, when I sat down to eat my meal, something non-Christmas began playing over the intercom: Christopher Cross's "Never Be the Same."  It sounds like the kind of song that would turn up on an intercom at a store or fast-food restaurant,  but it's the last thing I'd expect to hear this close to Christmas.  And it's been years since I've heard this song.   I didn't seem to hear what was playing on the Safeway intercom today.  And I'm sure I remember hearing Christmas music at Savemart today.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #10

An outside tree covered in lights.

Santa and reindeer on the roof.
Inflatable Snowman with the camera flash off.
Inflatable snowman with flash on.

Last night after dark I went out to see some of my neighbors's Christmas displays.  Unfortunately I did not get to all of the units in the trailer park since there are over 200 of them and since it was a little cold.  And needless to say, they only turn on the lights when it's dark.  So here are the ones I got a chance to shoot before getting too cold and worrying about walking around in the dark.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #9

Today I decided to check out the Christmas lottery scratchers for this year so I walked across the street to the Quik Stop and picked up the ticket seen in the photo.  As you can see, I did not win, just missing getting $100 by one spot.  But you know how these things go.  It's always about taking a chance.   I'd though of getting another ticket at the liquor store a block away from the Quik Stop, but decided against it, at least for today.  If I feel lucky enough in the next days before Christmas, then maybe.

After getting town after work today I went to Safeway to get some cookie dough to make cookies to take to out potluck at work on Friday.   I will be baking them tomorrow once I get home from work.  I'm almost always too busy to do anything like this, but I'm going to find time.  I'm also going to try to make something to take to my family's house on Christmas Eve. Since it's on Saturday this year and I'm off work, I'll have plenty of time then, since I don't want to be looking at or running through stores on Christmas Eve, because we all know what a madhouse they will be then.  I often go to the thrift store run by the town's hospital on Saturdays, but it will be closed for Christmas Eve. I will need to get to the store on Friday afternoon to avoid the madness, and before then, decide what I need to get then.  Present shopping and laundry are all done, so there will be more time for baking and Christmas Eve being on Saturday will make it easier to do.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #6

Not a lot to say today except that it's still one week till Christmas.  I'm trying to determine what I should get at the grocery store this week, and to get to the store before Christmas Eve.  I just know Safeway will be the busiest on Christmas Eve as opposed to the other stores in town.  But since Christmas Eve is on Saturday, I likely will get to the store on Friday, if getting there earlier proves to be a problem.

But just how busy will the stores be during this week?  Just last night, as I was coming out of the parking lot of Safeway, there were many cars on the road coming from Target. And over the the last two days, the parking lots at Kmart and Target were quite full, if not completely packed.  And today there were two long lines at Dollar Tree.  So what can I expect this week?  I'm just glad I'm done getting presents, as I did  not need to get a lot of them.  But I plan to bring something for the potluck at work on Friday and possibly something for the family on Christmas Eve.  With Christmas Eve on Saturday, I will have more time to make something for that night, but will have to find time to make something for work after work one day.  I know I can do that.

And one more week of hearing Christmas music over the work intercom.  Somehow they've skipped playing Elton John's  "Step Into Christmas" one christmas song I actually like.  And they've also skipped over the Eagles' rendition of "Please Come Home For Christmas," never mind the version by Bon Jovi.  And of course numerous versions of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," etc., etc.  I'm always glad when this is over.

And before the year is up I'm planning to see "New Year's Eve."   Presumably before that date.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #5

Christmas ornaments today

holiday pretzel beer.jpgIt used to be that Christmas tree ornaments were simple stuff like green glass balls, colored lights, stars, snowmen, angels and other stuff associated with the holiday.  But now it seems that just about anything is passable for a tree trimming. Why is this?  

Cell phones, for instance.  They are part of everyone's life now, but does that really mean they should be a Christmas ornament?  
We use cell phones everyday, but do they really need to be Christmas ornaments?  Toys, such as bears, and blocks seem all right as ornaments, but cell phones, laptops, cameras, and iPods are just too crazy for adorning a Christmas tree, just because they are the "toys" of today.
holiday burger and fries.jpg
holiday diet coke.jpg

Food ornaments
This website looks at some of the weirdest food ornaments.  Food just seems to bizarre to decorate a tree with.   The pretzel, beer can and chips bag arrangement seems more like a Super Bowl celebration decoration than one for a Christmas tree.  And the author of the website says "Why leave Santa milk and cookies when you can leave him a value meal?" Yeah, and add a Diet Coke while you're at it.   Tacos and pizza slices are also available. 

And other bizarre ornaments have popped up. Today at Target I snapped a few photos of some ornaments.  Pardon the focus, but one time when I was shooting photos inside Target, I was told not taking pictures in the store.  So I had to shoot these quickly before possibly getting caught (I wasn't).  Anyhow, in the photo on the right we see ornaments (on the left side of the pic) shaped like pliers. Seriously?  Pliers.  I also happened to see wrench ornament behind the pliers one (wasn't able to get it in the picture, sorry).  Tools as Christmas decorations?  On the left of the photo is a checkered flag ornament.  Seems appropriate to put alongside the beer can, pretzel and chips bag for a NASCAR celebration.  Maybe this is how sports- and tools-obsessed person decorate their Christmas trees?

Above are more decorations from Target.  Pinks shoes and a purple snail.  I'm not sure just what to say about these.  Neither would ever go on a tree by me.  Just too weird.  At right are pink ballet slipper. Very pretty and elegant, but I'm not sure I'd ever put these on a Christmas tree either.

And one more shot from Target is a snowman ornament .  Snowmen are associated with Christmas, yes, but look carefully and you will see he has a USA hat, like those worn on the Fourth of July.  It's as if two holidays are being mixed here.  This has happened a bit often, such as gingerbread houses for Halloween, and candy
corn for holidays besides Halloween (in color schemes associated with each holiday).  Don't get em wrong, I rather think this ornament is cute, but can we please have one holiday theme at a time? And next to the snowman is a shamrock ornament--is it St. Patrick's day already?

ep4901.jpgElvis may have sung about a "Blue Christmas,"  but is this what he meant?   Sure, Elvis was king of rock music, but in the in 1950s, did please have ornaments with his face on them?   And apparently putting Elvis's face on a Christmas ball wasn't enough because someone went so far as to put Elvis's face on M&M ornaments and a dancing cow one as well.  See pictures on this website. 

Can it get any worse?  Apparently.

"Jersey Shore" characters as Christmas ornaments?  Just totally awful.  And take a look at this link.

I think I've only barely scratched the surface here.   There must be other awful, weird ornaments around.  I think  sticking with the traditional angels, stars and lights is much better and simpler.  Do people have themed trees, for example, one with food ornaments, or one with TV characters, or one with tools or sports?  I have a feeling that this is not true.  So why do we need these bizarre ornaments that have very little if anything, to do with Christmas? Don' get me wrong, they're not all that bad, and some are kind of cute,  but most of them are just too weird for Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #4

 The Worst Gift Ever?

What's the worst Christmas present you've ever received? For me it has to be one I received 10 years ago--a dinky little picture frame for which I had absolutely no use. JUST AWFUL!  This  happened right after I got everyone something from the Dollar Tree, when I began working there that year.  This was on my dad's side.  Long story short:  My uncle's then 9-year  got a gift card from Borders, which was what I wanted. And I overheard one of my paternal aunts saying that she was burning her CDs of Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan, for a 9-year old kid in 2001? She and his then 6-year old boy just a lot of stuff  since they were just kids then.  Luckily my uncle on my mom's side all gave the grandkids on that side $50 dollar checks or I might never have gotten the CD the group Yes put out that year.   A better way of spending a gift card for a bookstore/music retailer rather than wasting it on crap like Brittney Spears CDs, which someone her age was likely to do in 2001. I believe my paternal uncle got this frame as a free sample from the dealership where he'd gotten his then-new car. An example of bad gift giving, per this article:

5. Anything that looks like you got it as a free sample. I’ve gotten these gifts before, and believe me I’ve been able to tell. Oddly enough, when you give someone who hardly ever wears makeup Clinique cover up it’s kind of a clue that you didn’t buy the gift for that person. Oh, hey, is that a complimentary tote you’ve got there on your arm?
I just chucked the frame eventually.  For god sakes, if you get these free samples, don't try to give them as Christmas presents!  If you don't want them, donate them to the frigging Goodwill!  And apparently I'm not the only person who says a picture frame is the worst gift you could ever receive.  

Thankfully, I've never been given a Chia Pet or an "As Seen On TV" gadget.   Although on my mom's side of the family since about 1996 has been doing a present game. All of us have to buy something, up to $20, that anyone can use.  We then place numbers at the dinner table under the plates.  After dinner we play the present game.  We draw numbers and when each person's number comes up, that person picks one of the presents up for grabs.  They can steal a gift from another person.  Each item can be stolen up to three times.   This is a sort of a "white elephant" kind of game.   Among the items that have been bought over the years for the present game there have been bottles of Heinekin and Jagermeister, DVDs,  funny toys, and some "As Seen on TV" gadgets (I bought the George Foreman grill  for the game one year) but so far no Chia Pets, as far as I can recall.   Who knows if someone in the family will ever get one for the game, though? In the end everyone winds up with something, which may or may not be useful to them, but at least it's not something deliberately or directly given to them.  I didn't particularly like the one I ended up with 10 years ago, but it was nothing compared to what happened the following day (my mom's family celebrates on Christmas Eve).  

I now have to get a Secret Santa gift for work. I'm considering a gift card since those are a good idea 
when you don't really know what that person likes.  And I cannot wait to see what I get from this next Friday.  I'm also eager to see what silly gifts the family has for the game.  Maybe a Sponge Bob DVD,  a board game, a barking stuffed dog, who knows? Anything goes, but no one ever, to my knowledge, ever bothered with a boring old picture frame, which come to think of it, is often less than 20 dollars.  And another thing they've managed to avoid is the ever-dreaded fruit cake.  From this link:

4. Fruit cake. Yes, people still give these. And yes, the cliché is still very, very true. No one wants a fruit cake, even if it is homemade, because chances are, it’s not very good. As for a peanut butter cup cheesecake….that’s a dessert I can get behind.
I have never gotten one of these things, and I hope that fact never changes!  I cannot even imagine how upset and angry I will be over seeing something as dreadful and awful as this thing known as fruit cake. Many have asked over the years, "Does anyone really like fruit cake?"  Yeah, really do they?  Does anyone ever eat the stuff? On second thought, I don't want to know the answer to that one.  Give me a gingerbread cookie over fruit cake any Christmas season!  Candy canes, Christmas Funfetti cake, sugar cookies, anything but fruit cake!

What the worst gift could you ever possibly receive? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #3

With all apologies to this blogger,  I'm still using the fiber-optic Christmas I got in 2001.  It still works even after 10 years and is easy to store in the shed when then the Christmas season is over.   I would love to get a  real one one day, but I see no reason to get rid of this one until and unless it stops working.  In some ways, I miss going to the Christmas tree lot and picking out a tree, but I'm also glad to not have to find a way to get rid of the tree after the holiday.  I'm guessing I could leave it in my green waste bucket on my garbage pickup day?

Above is a video I just now shot of my rotating fiber-optic tree, while I had the 12 o'clock news on.  You can hear the commercials on the TV.   I did this as I was waiting for a job interview later  this afternoon.

Actually, I keep forgetting I got a small tree for Christmas in 2000, the first year I lived in my mobile home.  I got the small, planter-sized tree at a grocery store that year, and saved the small strand of lights and the ornaments that came on the tree.  I've been hanging the ornaments on the fiber-optic, though they're not quite noticeable.  Look carefully in the video to see them.  I also have some green baubles I got at a Goodwill around June of 2004 on the tree as well. 

Decorating a tree is one thing I miss about having a real tree.  But I like my fiber-optic tree and intend to keep it for as long as it shall keep on working.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #2

Here are some videos I shot of Christmas decorations at Kmart.   Since these are motion decorations, I knew that taking still shots just wouldn't do them justice, so I used the video capture on my camera.  I did not get caught nor do I know if this is not allowed at the store (since no one caught me).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days Till Christmas Countdown #1

Today is now only 12 days till Christmas and Christmas merchandise has been in stores since as early as September.  Does anyone agree that September seems to early for Christmas, especially since it's a month before Halloween?  I'm just dreading in a few weeks when stores start putting up Valentines stuff.  Really, that's two months away (from tomorrow).  Why must this all be so soon?  And I have yet to find out when Easter is next year, even though I've already gotten a calendar for 2012, a leap year and presidential election year.  That's another merchandise-driven holiday.

But let's get back to Christmas.  It's only 12 days away and I plan to blog each day as a sort of mini-countdown to Christmas.  I've been slacking on blogging since this month began by posting Christmas quiz results.   I'm going to try to find Christmas stuff to wrote about as Christmas approaches.

So for Day One, I present this photo I actually shot the night after Thanksgiving at the Save Mart store.  Similar to the Halloween displays seen in this entry from October,  here is a similar display for Christmas made of empty Coca-Cola 12-pack cases.  Diet Coke packs for the snowman, a Fanta Orange pack for the carrot nose, and Coca-Coal packs for the red scarf.  Very clever.  I  went to the store across from my house (where the pumpkin display in October was) to see if they had a Christmas display like this, but they did not.  A Christmas tree made form empty cases is the window at Safeway, though I have not had a chance to take a picture of that one.  It's in the window at Safeway right in front of the checkstands, making it difficult to photograph, anyway.  This one at Save Mart was in front of the frozen-food aisle, making it easier to shoot a picture of it.  I rarely go to Nob Hill, so I have yet to see if they have any such displays.

I loved this display and think it's a great idea, though it must take a lot of empty cases to put it together. I'd say it really decorates the store.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Share Your Holiday

Here is a video I shot last Friday at the annual "Share Your Holiday" drive at KSBW, the NBC station in Salinas, CA.  This is the location in my town, Hollister. I always bring a toy or something to this drive since it will help someone less fortunate this holiday season.  Everyone should do the same for such drives in your neighborhood. Every little thing helps!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Present Wrapping Oracle

You Are Sophisticated

You are a sneaky gift giver. You're good at throwing people off the trail of what you're really giving them.

You are spontaneous and impulsive. You tend to do things quickly, and you're quite impatient.

You are very organized and together. No one would ever accuse you of being a slob.

Your style of dress is whimsical and inspired. You love to play around with different looks.

Quiz: What Color Christmas Lights Are You?

You Are Red Lights

Your holidays are a time of warmth and sharing.
No one epitomizes the spirit of giving as much as you do.

You enjoy all of the tastes, sounds, smells, and sights of the holidays.
You usually have the best decorations, music, and food.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quiz: What Holiday Drink Are You?

You Are Eggnog

Your holiday personality is indulgent.
The holidays are when you enjoy your favorite treats without abandon.

And while you're a bit greedy for your favorite goodies, you aren't selfish.
You're the type who makes a whole bunch of holiday treats and gives them to everyone you know.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quiz: The Christmas Snow Globe Test

You Are Complete

You're one of those few people who is the total package. You are very well rounded and balanced.
You aren't prone to extremism. You always choose the middle path, and you try to keep things simple.

You are dependable and responsible. You like to be as ahead in life as possible.
You are loyal to your friends, and you never forget them around the holidays!