New Year, Old Problems?

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Well, here we are at 2015.

 

Did you notice any REAL differences from the year that past?

 

If you answered no, then you came to the right place.

 

If you answered yes, then you really came to the right place.

 

First off, let me say that this post is being placed into both of my blogs as I am only writing one year-end summary this year instead of two.

 

For those of you who read the annual report that I posted last week while I was off, let me say that I am more than disappointed by the results.

 

On the “Staples” and “Rants” blog, it seemed that more people were interested in my relationship with Tanya going south rather than most everything else.  It was sad that she decided to block me from all social media after her marriage.  Apparently, she never really cared about me whatsoever.  I am not the least bit surprised by that at all.

 

Both blogs also saw a lackluster number of comments to each.  Even though I limited the period for comments to 30 days after a post has been made, it still seems that I should have received more comments than I did.  Maybe it was because some people decided not to post rude comments as they knew they would be deleted anyway.

 

For all the bad things that my report stated, I am proud that the blogs continue to gain followers.  Granted the numbers are not huge yet, but I really would like to see the number close to 100 followers by this time next year.

 

Now onto the breakdown of each blog:

 

First we have the “Staples” blog.

 

The biggest topic of the year without a doubt was hacking.  I predicted the Staples hack about a year ago and by year’s end, Staples finally admitted that it was indeed hacked into.  However, their claim is that only about 115 stores were affected and a little over a million customers were affected.  I believe that Staples will eventually come clean with the real numbers as I believe that this was indeed a full company wide hack job.

 

I expect that hacking will continue to be a major topic in 2015 as companies will continue to do stupid things that will allow hackers to do their dirty duty.  With hacks such as the celebrity hacks and the Sony hack is only the beginning of something much bigger that will happen.  I really hate the idea of having to report this stuff as it just gets to be monotonous and just gets to be downright boring.

 

Besides the ongoing hacking scandals, I plan on discussing other topics as well.  My upcoming calendar includes (subject to change):

  • The continued decline of RadioShack.
  • The Night That Changed Everything.
  • org – Good Idea or Agenda driven.
  • Charity begins at home.

 

Along with these topics, I plan to continue my own story of my decline with the Staples Company.  After all, that was what this blog was originally set up as.  I don’t think I have actually strayed from my original goal, I just have taken many detours along the way and made several stops through this journey.  I am a long way from the end as if to say that there will actually be an end.

 

Now onto the “Rants” blog:

 

The major part of the blog this last year was dedicated to the continued decline of the Time Warner Cable service and how their so-called upgrades have caused more harm than good.

 

Certainly the political scene is scarred nationally and here in Maine by the onslaught of the republicans winning both the governorship again and taking control of the US Senate and the US House.

 

Probably the most popular topic of the year was my discussion of why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.  My belief is that some people can relate to what I am talking about and therefore I am continuing my story with a few more parts this year.

 

Television also was a topic of interest as well.  Some shows were complete failures while others have shined brightly.  Amongst my favorites are “Gotham”, the pre-Batman series and as I have mentioned before my absolute favorite show “Girl Meets World”.  This show blew me away with the Christmas episode reunion.  This is the way to do a reunion show and if you liked the older “Boy Meets World” series, the Christmas episode is a definite must-see.

 

I am less excited for the series “The Flash” as this show seems like it hasn’t completely broken away from the shadow of its birthmother of “Arrow”.  The crossover episodes were fun but the Flash may become a flash in the pan if the show doesn’t get more interesting.  They certainly have the villains from the comic books, but this show reminds me of the campy 1960’s Batman series.

 

Speaking of that series, it finally got its video release in 2014 in somewhat of grand style.  While this nearly $200 Blu-ray box set contains all 120 episodes and other special treats, it still is missing some episode content.  I still recommend this limited edition set despite its flaws.  A cheaper DVD box set also exists without all the extra products, but I still would ante for the better set while it is available.

 

So what is in store for 2015?  Here is a brief rundown of my possible topics:

 

  • The continuing story of why I didn’t attend my high school reunion.
  • TV Hits and Misses of the Season.
  • The biggest obituary of 2014 that was not reported.
  • Tag, Like, Share: A Dumb User’s Guide to Facebook failures.

 

Overall, 2014 saw its share of hatred against me.  From one person who wrote that I was a bad person and then stupidly liking that statement to the people who decided to unfriend me on Facebook and then not even having a logical reason why, this last year was a year of idiots showing their true colors.

 

I expect a better reception this year as things should get clearer in some aspects of my continuing drama and the drama of the rest of the world.

 

Speaking of getting clearer, next post will have my annual predictions as I once again bring out the crystal ball and look back on how I did last year and make new predictions for the year.  After that, the two blogs will hopefully separate into their own stories for most of the year.  I continue to plan on writing each blog on alternating weeks with the next post to be next week to both blogs.

 

Until next time, enjoy 2015.

 

 

 

 

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Why Go Blue? (Or is it Blu?)

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The other day I was in the video section of one local store and I overheard one lady tell someone else she was with that she had a particular movie on VHS.  She said this so loudly that I thought she was actually proud of the fact that she still owned a VHS player and plays movies on it.

 

When I heard this, I almost hit the floor.  I thought was this lady serious?  If so, then stores like Blockbuster would still be in business today along with hundreds of mom and pop video stores in this country.  Maybe she hadn’t caught on to something called DVD yet or maybe it was just sarcasm at its worse.

 

Either way, the industry has moved ahead with a little new format called Blu-ray.  Blu-ray is not new as it has been around for several years now but is only just starting to come down significantly in price during this holiday season.

 

First off let me say that the players themselves have been available for under $50 this holiday season for a basic Blu-ray player, although a more sophisticated one can be had for well under $100.  These machines not only play the Blu-ray discs but also standard DVDs as well, which makes DVDs seem almost non-obsolete.  Many of the machines also can double as sort of “smart TV” as many have special apps that can play games, surf the internet, or connect to your favorite social media site.   Certainly these machines are very unlike the DVD players of years’ past.

 

The discs themselves have seen a remarkable drop in price especially during Black Friday a couple of weeks ago as some retailers were selling Blu-ray discs for as cheap as under $2.  Now while there are some lousy discs out there, gems could be found on the cheap as well.  Many of these releases were from this year but some were older than that.

 

As far as the packaging is concerned, this is where some find confusion.  So here is how I figure it with the various packages.  Let’s go through them individually:

 

  • Blu-ray disc only:  the package contains only a Blu-ray disc possibly with additional features.
  • Blu-ray disc and Digital HD: same as above with a special code or disc that allows for playing on a computer, phone, tablet or other device.  Note that these expire usually within 2 years and something I have never used or tried because of their short lives.
  • Blu-ray disc and DVD and Digital HD (aka combo pack): same as above but with the addition of a DVD copy of the movie.  However, it should be noted that the DVD could be just a movie only version and may or may not contain the same extras that the standalone DVDs would have.  Usually some of these discs contain the digital copy rather than the extras that would be on these discs.  Certainly this is the preferred purchase as you get both types of disc, but buyer-beware on what the DVD actually has.
  • 3D Blu-ray: sometimes sold most times in combination with any of the above these discs only work on 3D TVs.  While I don’t have a 3D TV, I can’t say how well these discs perform.  However, most 3D discs have no extras which make them a trade-off with the standard Blu-ray discs.
  • 4K Blu-ray discs: these are not available yet, but expected to appear on the shelves in 2015.  No details on if these discs will have any space for extras on them yet.  These discs are meant for the ultra-high resolution TVs making their way into the marketplace in the past few months.  Whether these discs will be packaged with other formats is the biggest question mark of all.

 

The best resource that I recommend is going to the website Blu-ray.com.  Here detailed descriptions of discs can be found along with movie ratings and prices.  The downside to the price part is that the majority of the prices mentioned is from Amazon along with links to purchase discs from them.  However, given that many stores will now match Amazon this is more of a feature than an inconvenience.

 

Finally, the quality picture and sound is superior to DVDs, but they do vary from title to title.  Again, the above mentioned resource is your best bet to get the real lowdown on new and old titles alike.

 

Overall, if you have a capable HD TV and wish to upgrade to Blu-ray, then I would highly recommend that this is the season and year to do just that.  So hop into those bargain bins and join the blue (or Blu) revolution, time is wasting!

 

Next week, in my last post of the year, I will be discussing quite possibly the worst customer service experience ever.  If you thought you heard me talk about bad before, get ready for the lowest point in customer service as so many things went wrong that you really will wonder if it is all real, but trust me it will be.  Get ready for possibly the longest and most enjoyable post of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TV Picks and Axes for 2013-14 Season

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As the television season winds down, this year so a lot of shows that saw the ax and some that should have seen it long before.  To add to that are several missteps this year of shows that just didn’t get it right.

 

Let’s start with “Jeopardy!” (syndicated).  This 30th season saw the multi-week contest of “Battle of the Decades”.  Over the years, we have seen other contests that somehow ended this same way.  Was anybody not surprised that the final battle would be once again between Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter?  Maybe they should stick with their other championships for a while.

 

The battle between “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC) and “The Crazy Ones” (CBS) landed both of these highly anticipated shows in the cancelled list after one season.  While I watched the latter show a couple of times, I felt this it was boring and just wasn’t funny.

 

While on that subject, “How I Met Your Mother” (CBS) had a season-long wedding weekend, which had to be the most boring season I have ever seen.  I was so confused by the time the series finale happened that I was thankful that it ended.

 

This year also saw the end of “The Carrie Diaries” (CW) and “Suburgatory” (ABC).  These shows which lasted 2 and 3 seasons respectively both were given 13 week runs instead of the normal average of 20+ weeks.  Unfortunately, both of these shows were doomed by the lack of a great storyline and bad time slots.

 

One of the worst shows of the year was “Super Fun Night” (ABC).  I watched about 5 minutes of the first episode and hated it.  It wasn’t super or fun, but I wish it was on late at night.  Its replacement of “Mixology” fared no better.

 

Of course, the worst show of the year was “We Are Men” (CBS), which lasted all of 2 episodes.  I cringed after less than 5 minutes, a new low for me.

 

On the other side of the fence, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC) was probably one of the best shows of the season as it featured more twists during its freshman run than most shows have during its entire series run.  One episode entitled “Turn, Turn, Turn” had more twists than anything I have ever seen in a very long time.  Hopefully, next season lives up to its first.

 

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the aging “American Idol” (FOX).  Now in its unlucky 13th season, this show flew way under the radar and was very boring.  None of the contestants were interesting and putting Randy Jackson as a mentor didn’t help.  As in past years, I was on the losing end of the finale by picking the wrong person to win again.  Rumor is that next season will possibly be one day per week instead of the two or three from past years.  Maybe this is the boost that it needs to survive.

 

Overall, this year saw over 30 shows cancelled, many of them for their own good.  Others were never given a fair shake.  Hopefully, most should live on on video in the next year or so.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to Tanya Lee H.

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Writer’s note:  I am writing this week’s post to all my blogs as I feel that it is important not only to me, but also to those who have those long unanswered questions about me.  Some of the information presented here may be offensive to some people.  Reader discretion is advised.

 

Dear Tanya Lee H.:

 

In 11 days on May 25, 2014, you will be getting married in some place called Diamond Bar, California.

 

The bad news is that it is not to me.

 

The worse news is that I feel that it is a HUGE mistake.

 

Of course, you could say that I am jealous that it is not me that you are marrying.

 

However, after stalking your future husband’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, it appears that this guy is nothing but a self-centered jerk.  I am basing this solely on what I have read and seen online of this guy.  I feel that this wedding is more of a matter of social convenience rather than the true love that we (yes, us) could and should have had.

 

Let me now rewind the story back a few years ago when we first met.

 

I had been working with your brother Rob for a few years when you started working as a cashier at Staples.  During your employment with Staples, we talked all the time when we weren’t busy.

 

We learned a lot about each other.  So much so that I felt like we belonged together.  I thought that possibly that you felt the same way.

 

But something bothered me.

 

There were some things that you said to me that disturbed me.  While I don’t want to mention them here, I internally questioned your social stability.

 

After having been through other toxic relationships in the past, I was personally scared of what life would be like if we were alone together on a date or something like that.  I really wanted to be with you, but felt that working together would violate company policy and I think you felt the same way.

 

Then the day came.

 

You decided to quit the company.  I dreaded this day ever since I learned it was going to happen.  I was bothered that I was losing my best friend and confidant.

 

It was on that last night together that you hugged me and gave me your telephone number.

 

This was actually 2 firsts.  Nobody had ever hugged me before.  Don’t laugh – it is true.  The funny thing was I finally felt loved for the first time in my life.

 

The second first was that Tanya gave me her telephone number.  Again nobody has ever given me their number before much less a female.

 

However, and it was a big however, was she said to me “call me if you want”.  These words became etched in my head like as if she really was interested, but may not be interested.

 

To say I was confused by this would be an understatement.  I was actually set back as if she was pushing me away while at the same time wanting me.

 

Then the worse thing happened.  I lost her phone number.  Make that I misplaced it and it got cleanly washed away.

 

So I could not call her.  The phone number was not in the book and I had no way of reaching her.  All of a sudden my life turned to crap.

 

For weeks, I was hoping that you would return back to Staples so that we could talk about getting together.

 

But it didn’t happen.

 

Disappointment was mounting.

 

Then one Tuesday, while at the mall, I saw you at the late Waldenbooks store sitting on one of the benches looking at a book with a female friend.  I tried hard not to be seen by you as I did not want to embarrass you or your friend.

 

Luckily, I was able to leave the store without being seen.

 

About a half-hour later, my luck ran out.  I was at Best Buy with my mother shopping and you were alone and noticed me.  I remember I was looking at “The Mummy” DVDs and you focused your radar on me.

 

This is where everything went wrong.  You asked me why I didn’t call you.  I tried to be diplomatic in my conversation with you especially since I had my mother with me and she did not know about you.  I tried to tell you that I wanted to talk later someplace alone.  It appeared that you wanted none of that.

 

Then you stormed off out of the store.

 

At this point, I had a choice.  I could leave my mother in the store alone (mistake) or I could chase after you and talk to you right then and there (possibly a bigger mistake).  I decided to choose the former.

 

Sadly, at this point, I never saw you ever again.  Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to spindle downward with no bottom in site.

 

Then it happened.

 

I was driving home one night from work and I was listening to the radio.  This song came on the radio that struck me like lightning.

 

The song was “So Yesterday” by a girl named Hilary Duff.  Suddenly, this song related to what happened between me and Tanya.  This song wedged in my head so much that I could not shake it.  The more I heard it over the next couple of days, the more I related to it.

 

At this point, I decided to learn more about this Hilary Duff girl.  I found out that she was the star of a popular Disney Channel show “Lizzie McGuire”.  I decided to watch an episode just to get a feeling for what this girl was really like.

 

Then it happened.

 

I was hooked on Hilary.  Like a druggie, I could not get enough Duff.  I bought CDs, DVDs, magazines, books and anything else with her in it.

 

I was obsessed.  It became so bad that I asked Best Buy if I could have a large poster of her when they were finished using it.  I did the same at f.y.e. with a poster they had as well.   I also asked there if I could have the “Lizzie McGuire Movie” video display when they were done with it.  They allowed me to have it.

 

At this point, it seemed that I was completely obsessed with Hilary, even going to the point of carrying the lyrics of “So Yesterday” in my pocket and reading them when I was depressed.

 

I was also joining as many online groups as I could from Yahoo to feed my desire for pictures, comments or anything else related to Hilary.

 

It would be obvious at this point I was not only obsessed, but crazy about her.  Some online groups shunned people like me for being “too old” for being a fan.  I told them that real fans came in all ages.  Certainly, I was not alone in my beliefs.

 

Then the big one happened.

 

Lizzie McGuire was done, but my obsession was not.

 

I had to find a new outlet for social relief.

 

So I started watching other Disney shows at the time such as “Suite Life of Zack and Cody”, “Hannah Montana” and “Wizards of Waverly Place” among others.  I quickly became obsessed with these shows as well.

 

I would buy as many of the teen magazines as I possibly could every month even though I was really too old for them.  It became apparent that I needed an intervention.

 

Before that would happen, I started watching shows on Nickelodeon as the shows on Disney Channel became stale.  Once again, my obsession with kid and teen shows grew.

 

At this point, much of my thoughts had turned away from Tanya.  However, one day while on the old MySpace, I decided to friend her out of the blue.  It appeared she either rejected me or ignored me.  At this point, I also noticed that she was living somewhere in the Midwest.  This bothered me as it seemed she wanted nothing to with me at all anymore.

 

So with no future with Tanya and no intervention, I was further encouraged with my admiration for people like Hilary over the remainder of time that I remained employed at Staples.

 

After leaving Staples, I decided that I was finally going to join the new social media revolution.  I signed up for Facebook and Twitter.  Quickly some of my old work colleagues friended me on Facebook and soon I would be using Twitter extensively as well.

 

Then I decided one day to look up Tanya on Facebook and Twitter.  I noticed on Facebook that she had since moved to Sherman Oaks California.  On Twitter, she had an account, but she has never tweeted.  I am only one of four of her followers.  I wonder if she knows that I am following her there even though she has never tweeted anything.  I also noticed that another one of her followers was a guy named Dave V.

 

So I decided to investigate him.  What I saw I didn’t like.  Then I did more and more reading about him, the less I liked.

 

This brings us up to the last couple of months.  I decided to Google Tanya’s name and I found out that she was engaged to this Dave guy.  Imagine the fact that I was completely heartbroken beyond belief.

 

So she moved 3,000 miles away to get away from me and then get engaged to someone else.  It appeared that my chances with her were over.

 

However, I still needed an output for my emotions.  So, a few months after starting my anti-Staples blog, I decided to start a new blog discussing virtually any other topic.  Ironically, many of those postings have been about teen shows just to help me cope with my social loss.  I know that many people have always been confused why I discuss these types of shows more than adult shows, but now I hopefully have cleared up the method behind my madness.  It is just my way of producing my own intervention or something like it.

 

Overall, Tanya’s wedding will not have my blessing under any circumstances.  I feel that I was shortchanged in this relationship as she refused to listen to me that I really wanted her, but I could not contact her because she was not found in the phonebook or any other method.  I don’t feel that I was to be to blame for this relationship failure, but a huge misunderstanding between 2 people.

 

Lastly, I still have those posters of Hilary on my living room wall and the “Lizzie McGuire” is still in my bedroom filled with all those teen books and video tapes from back in the day.

 

Tanya, you may be so yesterday, but I still wish that you would be really part of my tomorrow.

 

I am hoping someday you will get to read this and know that I still really care about you despite being so far away.  I wish I could right the wrongs of the past.

 

Sincerely,

 

Louis Brown

(your best friend from Staples)

 

The Other 2013 Obituaries

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Forget about those who died in 2013.

 

This blog posting is all about those other things that died in 2013.  Some you recognize, some you may never have heard of, but to me they all had some social attachment.

 

So here we go:

 

First up we lost Newsweek from the print universe at the first of the year.  As some of you who follow this blog know that I had a subscription to this magazine and had many problems to get a substitute magazine sent to me.  Unfortunately, I lost about 4 months of my subscription because of these idiots.  The digital version never worked for me on either of my computers.  Rumor is now that the company has been sold that the print version is returning back in the near future.  I really am not looking forward to this.

 

We also lost 2 computer magazines this year.  One was the popular PCWorld magazine.  It published its last issue back in August.  It is now just a digital only magazine.  I enjoyed this magazine much more since the departure of PCMagazine a few years ago, which also went digital.  PCWorld was the last U.S. based general purpose magazine dedicated to the general computer user.  Yes, I know that Maximum PC still exists, but it is more of an advanced magazine, not one catering to all user levels.  Maybe someday one of these 2 magazines will be resurrected in print someday.  Ironically, MACWorld, the company’s companion magazine still exists in a print format.  This is funny because Apple is so much into the iPad devices that still having a print publication seems backward for a company that believes in going so deep into being digital.

 

The other computer magazine we lost last year was Game Developer Magazine.  Many of you may never have heard of this magazine.  I started reading this magazine when it premiered way back in 1994.  I purchased it at the nearest Waldensoftware store which was located in the late Newington Mall in Newington New Hampshire.  In fact, I made monthly trips of 50 miles just to get this magazine on a regular basis.  At the time it really was that good.  It was one of a very few magazines that published source code to games like the old Compute!  Magazine did years earlier.  After Waldensoftware closed, I was unable to get the magazine for a couple of years until Borders started carrying it.  Eventually, they stopped carrying the magazine, but I was able to secure a subscription for the last couple of years directly from the company for free.  Sadly, the last couple of years the magazine had changed from publishing source code to being a magazine that just told about case studies of computer gaming companies and their software instead.  It certainly was a sad way to see this magazine end.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t live on in any format; however pdf versions of the magazines along with the source code are still readily available online.  I am not posting a link to it, however, because I don’t know about the legality of this archive on the website that I have seen it on.

 

Even though it officially went out of business of January 12 of this year, Blockbuster video store was really dead last year.  It has been months since the chain has had a store in Maine and I don’t remember seeing one in a very long time.  However, I once tried to get employment at the one that was once across the street from the local mall.  Unfortunately, they expected so much to be done for absolute minimum wage and getting a raise was certainly not guaranteed anytime in the foreseeable future.  So I declined the offer to work for them and never regretted it.  The company still has an active website and still apparently sells videos by mail and on demand, but no physical locations exist.  Unfortunately, many other video chains have bitten the dust as well last year as well.

 

The TV series “The Goldbergs” gave a fitting eulogy to the video store in a recent episode.  It certainly brought back memories of the 1980’s and the way things were then.  If you lived in the 1980’s, I highly recommend this show.

 

Finally, there is the Hilltop Steakhouse in Saugus Massachusetts.  It served its last meal in October and most of the items were auctioned off in December.  Unfortunately, I never got to have my last meal there because the restaurant closed before the end of the month of October and we went down about 2 weeks before the end of the month only to find it had already closed.  Certainly was a sad ending with no real closure and I really was looking forward to that last meal there.

 

So there you have it:  my list of other obituaries of the year of 2013.  Hopefully, I won’t have a list for 2014, but you never know.

 

 

 

No Beyonce for You at Target

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If you have not heard, Beyoncé has a new album out.

 

Just don’t look for it at your favorite local store.

 

At least not until this Friday.

 

This is when her self-titled CD will be released tentatively.

 

Just don’t look for it at your local Target store though.

 

According to the company, they don’t want to be part of a cd that has already sold over a half-million copies on iTunes.

 

Can you blame them?

 

Less than a week before Christmas and this cd drops out of nowhere with no advanced notice whatsoever.  Certainly not the kind of business anybody wants this close to the holiday.

 

So what is the REAL reason that the company isn’t going to carry this cd?

 

I believe that Target likes to have exclusives to the CDs that they sell so selling this one as a non-exclusive would not be in their best interest. After all, what company would not want to make extra money for extras such as bonus songs, bonus CD/DVD, collectable packaging or some other gimmick?

 

Just look at most of the new releases that have occurred in the last month.  Most all of them have had exclusives to Target giving them an edge in selling a special product.

 

Chances are that every store will sell the cd at pretty much the same price.  This gives nobody the advantage and being so close to the end of the year, no company wants to be stuck with inventory that they can’t sell and will have to count after the new year.

 

Consider, also the greed by both Beyoncé and her record company for wanting to swoop in at the last minute and steal sales away from other recent releases.  Nothing says love to your favorite artist than cutthroat marketing.

 

Finally, there is the issue of too much of a crowded field of CDs already out there.  There have been way too many releases in the last few months and some have been sold out for weeks with no chance of restocking before the holidays.  Customers won’t settle for something else when what they is sold out.

 

My recommendation:  leave this CD alone until after the new year when it will probably be cheaper and chances are that a special edition will be released later in the year by some chain.  As a non-fan of her, this is a recommendation from someone who likes their physical media.  This one just isn’t the one.

 

 

Please note:

 

This is the last posting for this year.  I will return the first week of January with a brand new posting (if all goes well).  For you date counters out there, that means approximately 3 weeks from now I will return

 

Until then, remember have a safe and happy holiday season or if you don’t celebrate the holidays, make one up.