Curmudgeon Day 2009

Curmudgeon Day Defined

Curmudgeon Day is the day after Thanksgiving (in the United States), a quasi-official holiday that extends the weekend to four days.  It is celebrated by staying home and doing whatever activities suit you, whether spending time on something important or nothing worthwhile at all.  Notably, this involves not flocking like a braindead zombie to retail outlets because advertising and the media tell you to do so.

Learn all about the holiday by reading Curmudgeon Day posts going back to 2004 (although the tradition dates much further back than that).

Today, I played soccer with friends, spent time with my family, watched television, and emptied the backlog on my ‘to do’ list.  I am now ready to return to work refreshed and reinvigorated.

“Whatever! Whatever! I do what I want!!”Eric Cartman

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!

Much for which to be Thankful

This day is traditionally for reflecting upon those things that make us thankful, a tradition that has been in my family, literally, for 388 years. [*]

Our company begins the holiday season by taking the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving away from work and, instead, hosts a game party for employees and guests, with board games, card games, food and drink.  In truth, we have in recent years included some party games on game consoles, but given the nature of our business…

For the business, I am thankful that our development efforts in recent years are starting to bear fruit, that we have successfully completed several projects over the past year, and that the economy is on the upswing without the bottom having a devastating impact on our company.  Personally, I am thankful that, despite a number of health issues over the past year, my family is relatively healthy, that we have made financial progress over the last year, and (to be trite) for friends and family.

We are now in the process of preparing the feast, which will include turkey (x2), ham, potatoes, beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, apple pie, and (non-traditional, but yummy) cheesecake.  I was just about to insert a picture here of the “camp cooking” apparatus that was to be used to prepare one of the birds, but word just came down that a structural failure has destined the turkey for oven roasting instead.  (“Christmas!  We will do it at Christmas,” I am told.)

Anyway, here are our best wishes to all of you, whatever the day (and season) may hold.

[*] My Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather is credited with the First Thanksgiving.  Here is a small snippet of his account:

They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty”  — William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation

Chinese New Year 2009

I think that this finally brings the 2009 New Year celebrations to an end.

It is time to really get 2009 started properly now. One way to help one focus on goals is to make those goals public, so here goes:

  • Increase product development significantly (by rearranging priorities),
  • Develop at least three major products/updates for Goodsol Development (for Windows and Mac),
  • Release three more projects that have been in development (for several years) internally,
  • Establish baseline marketing and measurement techniques (on which to build), and
  • Move business operations toward a paperless office environment.

Yes, these five goals are quite ambitious but also realistically attainable. One major release every two months (on average) will keep us very busy, but the roadmap for these is already established. Our development projects are all very different and should be enlightening. The Goodsol projects are building on the technological improvements of last year. Finally, the marketing and business plans have internal support and should, ultimately, improve operational efficiency.

By the way, we could still use a few more beta testers for the upcoming version of Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition. Anyone interested can email me directly at, and I will forward your information.

On the personal side, I will keep my exact goals to myself, but I have been playing competitive soccer and am pleased to be back ice racing again this year. I am currently second in points (in class A1) after having a disappointing day in which I suffered not one, but two DNFs (Did Not Finish) due to peeling tires off of the wheels. It has been a nearly perfect year for ice, so I will be repaired and back up in Chippewa Lake this coming weekend for eight more exciting races.

More ice racing pictures should be forthcoming.

Festivus (and the rest of 'em)

The end of year holiday season is in full swing!

Today is Festivus, or as my friends and I used to call it as children, Christmas Eve Eve. I will definitely be airing grievances during the feast, and my current feat of strength (of will) consists of keeping most of the annual disappointments out of this post. Actually, if we seriously followed this Festivus tradition, the holiday would continue year ’round; nobody pins this head of household.

A busy week for celebrations (a.k.a., “Seven Holidays for Seven Days”):

  • Sunday: Winter Solstice (7:04am local time)
  • Sunday: Hanukkah began at sunset
  • Tuesday: Festivus
  • Wednesday: Christmas Eve
  • Thursday: Christmas
  • Friday: Boxing Day
  • Friday: Kwanzaa begins

On Friday, our social soccer club also has our annual friends and family soccer game. (Since somebody actually asked: We are playing indoors at Lansing Indoor Sports Arena, and definitely NOT outdoors.)

We officially left the office last Friday for a two-week break, but unofficially I have been working extended hours every day since then. I will either quit for the year or collapse soon. In either case, I wish all of the readers of this blog a…

Happy New Year!

Thanks for your support in 2008.
Signing out until 2009.

Curmudgeon Day recap

We celebrate the day after the Big Thanksgiving.

Last week, we recognized Curmudgeon Day for the umpteenth time. This important holiday, which officially started a year before anybody saddled it with the phrase ‘Black Friday’, is celebrated by staying home and doing whatever you want, and simultaneously avoiding the non-believers, most of whom are stupid and/or dangerous and, as was proven this year, some are just plain evil.

Today is the fifth consecutive year I have blogged about Curmudgeon Day here, so those new to the faith can find more background in my postings from 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

This year, staying inside on Curmudgeon Day was a given, since the holiday fell right in the middle of a huge cold. We had several guests for our Thanksgiving Day celebration, which we call “Big Thanksgiving“, but one of them was not my voice. Still, we all enjoyed Big Thanksgiving, so named because we have a sort of open door policy for friends and family and always cook enough food to comfortably feed those who may attend. Instead of only board games, this year we also broke out the Wii to play some Boom Blox (4-player competitive), which spilled over into Curmudgeon Day (along with the necessary cleanup).

While we were warm and comfy inside, the original inspiration for the holiday, avoiding the braindead crazies that roam the earth on that day, was reinforced in a tragic fashion. Jdimytai Damour, a 34-year-old Walmart employee, was trampled to death by the more evil elements of this group. One story about the murder appears in today’s Los Angeles Times. The event makes me sick.

Last year, I mentioned that Snopes has debunked the myth of “Black Friday”. This year, it should be noted that all of the focus on purchases the day after Thanksgiving is nothing but rubbish. I mean to debunk the idea that sales on this particular day are meaningful. The media wants to use sales traffic as an indicator of the economy, and ignorant retailers want to project one day sales volumes over the whole holiday season. The basic and obvious problem with that is the deliberate manipulation of the numbers (via prices), which is not scientific in the least. When Galileo Galilei did his (possibly apocryphal) experiment at the Tower of Piza, the balls were both dropped at the same time. He did not have one person throw the 10-pound cannonball downward and another simply drop the 1-pound weight, and then exclaim, “Aristotle was right!

The fact of the matter is that these “doorbuster” (literally, it turns out) prices skew the sales numbers into meaninglessness. There is no way to know whether (or how many of) these purchases would have been made at regular prices, and it does not take into account the actual profit on these loss leaders, so called because the profit is likely negative for the particular item, just to lure (cheap) shoppers into stores. Some reports have indicated that the actual number of “bags” is lower this year, suggesting that shoppers are primarily buying the heavily discounted items and not too much else. (Who wants to browse during a mob scene anyway?)

I suggest that high traffic on a shopping day with huge discount items is more likely to indicate a poor economy and holiday season, where people are looking to buy at the lowest possible price and may not otherwise purchase these items at all. My supposition is supported by the fact that all major retailers are reporting sales downturns, except for Walmart, which advertises based on discounted items (translation: cheap Chinese crap). It is said that one feeds the family first, and then worries about principles, and this tends to reinforce that idea. (Full disclosure: I have never myself stepped foot in a Walmart store, on principle.)

For many years, one principle that I have oft stated seems an appropriate closing here:

Avoid buying the least expensive of any particular item or service, because the primary consideration in producing that product was likely cost rather than quality.