Friday, 14 December 2012

07:11 – I read an article on CNN yesterday that compared the cost structures of major brick-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy and Wal*Mart with Amazon. The thrust of the article is that local retailers are hampered by a grossly inferior business model, which is a point I’ve been making since back when Amazon was losing money. There’s simply no way local retailers can survive, other than those few types of retailers like supermarkets and pharmacies and gun stores that have some insuperable advantage over web-based retailers.

That made me think of the other day when I bought a Saturnalia gift for Barbara. Now, I’ve never liked shopping. Hell, I don’t think I’ve set foot in Hanes Mall for at least 10 years. Even in the days before the web, I almost never bought locally. Barbara would give me a Bean or Lands’ End catalog with the items she wanted marked, I’d call the 800 number, and that was that. But for the last decade or more, I’ve done nearly all of my shopping on-line. This time, Barbara just sent me links on Amazon for a couple items and said that either one would be fine. So I clicked the links, clicked the add-to-cart button, and ordered the item. Barbara had also mentioned that her parents’ answering machine was borked, so I searched for an appropriate answering machine/cordless phone combo, added it to my cart, and ordered it. It never even occurred to me to get in the truck and drive to some local retailer.

We continue to build and ship science kits.

36 thoughts on “Friday, 14 December 2012”

  1. “It never even occurred to me to get in the truck and drive to some local retailer.”

    I used to like going to a bricks and mortar store/shopping centre. That was before the latest increase in size of my local major centre, Belconnen Mall aka Westfield Belconnen. It’s become a monster that I sometimes doubt I’ll emerge from in the same year I enter. Parking is hell and it’s just too big. Parking is the worst thing. If I go during peak it can be hell finding a park, and since many of the parking spaces are enclosed it’s all very dingy and depressing.

    There’s a Cost Co on the other side of the city but it’s not worth traveling that far, plus there’s the joining fee. I just go to some of the smaller supermarkets, where I can get to the door 60 seconds after parking.

    I only make major purchases over the internet or from places that will deliver to my Post Office box – which is near work. Otherwise delivery is just too inconvenient.

  2. I’m buying more and more online, and am amazed at the products I can buy in the US, that isn’t even available in Canada. I try to buy locally, and will show the store the price I pay, including whatever freight, taxes and brokerage costs, and it’s almost always cheaper online.

    I just bought a new laser printer from HP direct, which was $65 cheaper than the local Staples store. Only took two days to arrive, too.

    I go to the local mall occasionally. A friend of mine and I like to people watch and it’s a good place for that. Not too many are carrying shopping bags. Not a good thing this close to Xmas.

  3. I saw a Lands End catalog in a doctor’s office in ’84 and it was 800 #s from then until dial-up ISPs.

  4. Well, as a follow up, I do B&M purchase items which I might suspect that I will have to return.

  5. I used to buy all my pants and shirts from Lands End. Now that they have moved everything to this stupid no-iron fabric (which irritates my skin), I am looking for a new online retailer for my button down oxford 100% cotton shirts.

    I do like being able buy over the net and return locally to a B&M store. One can do that at Walmart.

  6. Except for Wal Mart and the grocery store, my shopping is going increasingly online. I moved my mom into an assisted living apartment a few weeks ago. Since we were doing it as a surprise, I bought new furniture. (Well that and her old furniture is overdue for replacement.) I was surprised at the quality of furniture I found at Wal Mart. We got a nice computer chair, a very solid dining room table and two chairs for something ridiculous like $210. I like the table and chairs so much I’m considering making a Wal Mart run for a table and six chairs for our dining room. We got her a computer desk for $50 at Meier, and the only thing from a traditional retailer was the mattress, box springs and frame. There isn’t anything I purchased online in her apartment yet. But I think I’m going to buy her a larger TV as the one she has is tiny.

  7. All my Xmas shopping this year, the little of it there has been, was done online. But once the Grid collapses and there is no juice, no Amazon, no online buying of stuff, no IT jobs, etc., etc. I will have to find another means of gift-giving. Hmmmm….what did they do in the Anglo-American days of 1900…???

    …back to brick-and-mortar. Or clapboard. A haberdasher. An apothecary. A florist, local, who has to deliver via horse-and-wagon. A butcher. A baker. A candlestick-maker. And all speaking English or French up here.

  8. Looking at another home today:

    Nice looking home.

    All the images are HDR images, several images taken at different exposures then layered with software blending the images to avoid deep shadows and blown highlights. But in the process it makes the lighting in the images look fake. These images were overdone and are not at all subtle.

  9. Those images are taken by a realtor with plain old digital camera. They are the teaser, the real thing is the visit today at 1pm.

  10. I think that the internet will stay up regardless. After all, it was designed to survive a nuclear war.

    The electric grid is another matter. Any major disturbance (hurricane Ike in 2008, etc) and that bad boy is going down. But it can be soon be back up with thousands of trained and readily available linemen working on it.

  11. Those images are taken by a realtor with plain old digital camera.

    Some digital cameras actually do HDR internally. Basically five (or more) images are taken rapidly. Each image one f-stop from the next starting at 2 stops (for 5 images) underexposed. Then the images are layered throwing out the dark shadows in the underexposed and replacing that portion with the proper exposed. Same thing on the highlights that are overexposed and replacing with proper exposure. You can even do this in Photoshop with a single image with Photoshop intentionally adjusting the exposure of each layer and taking the best of each with masking.

    If done well it can really enhance an image. But if done poorly the results leave a halo effect. Look at the picture of the chairs in the dining room and you will see bright areas around the chairs on the walls.

    This does not detract from the house at all. I was just making a comment on the images as it is Friday and I am bored. Some of the images were just a little overdone. The Realtor using HDR is surprising and at least shows some knowledge in taking pictures.

    Hope you like the house when you see it for real and if you like it make a good deal on the house.

  12. The internet may stay up and major corporations and businesses and the State may still have access to it for their purposes, but what about Joe and Susie Homemaker and the Kids, and their local ISP? Can the Kids tweet and do FB? Can Susie shop for more Red Chinese slave labor junk that they don’t need? Can Joe download topless women wrestling videos and stay current in his online fake baseball league? And what about all that homework that Biff and Buffy do now that happens online and via email?

    And will all those trained and readily available linemen put the juice back up for Mr. and Mrs. Homemaker or will it be reserved exclusively for the State and “national-security” businesses?

    If there is a nuclear war, or simply one or more nuclear “incidents” in this country, the Homemaker family will have a lot more to worry about than Facebook and topless women wrestlers.

  13. In our previous 911 call that we made years ago it took them a full six minutes to arrive, when the perps had long since gone and were never caught, to my knowledge. For something like this they needed armed response immediately in the office at the front and/or the hallways. We’re going to have to start arming selected teachers and parent volunteers. This is way beyond-the-pale outrageous now; an elementary school.

    And this for frosting on the cake:

    “Connecticut has called surrounding states for more medical examiners because they do not have enough to conduct autopsies. “

  14. Another horrible school shooting. Please, arm our teachers!

    You have it all wrong. We should pass gun laws, take people’s guns away. That will stop all this from happening. After all if people cannot get guns then they will not be able to shoot anyone. Better yet is to not allow anyone to have bullets or buy black powder. Guns are useless without bullets. Make it totally and completely illegal to have guns. Problem solved.

    Of course criminals will obey the laws, read the signs saying “No guns allowed” and comply.

    Now that your panties are in a wad I was merely putting a liberal slant. I think that at least half of all teachers should carry guns and be trained how to use them. Allow people to conceal carry without permits.

    Would this have stopped the tragedy? I don’t know but I doubt it as a determined individual would find a way to mass murder. The cretin would probably have body armor and few, if any, would be able to get an effective head shot. Taking time to try and shoot the cretin rather than protecting the children by getting them in a safe area might result in more carnage.

    Regardless, more gun control is not going to stop this behavior. But the liberals will soon be calling for stronger gun laws.

  15. We are forced to school our children until they’re 18. Most of us have to use public schools. Our kids are entrusted to them. Here’s what my Twins high school practices for events like this:

    Everyone huddle together in the corner.
    The teacher draws any shades.
    Wait until it is over.

    The killer comes in, kills them all, and it’s really over.

    Fucking stupid schools. I think I read somewhere that the Israelis already arm their school teachers. That’s what we should do.

  16. The awful truth here is that we are just going to have the occasional incident like this no matter how we run the gun laws, get our kids to “safe areas,” or have armed trained commandos on-site at each school and church and business, sort of like Israel has had to do. We ain’t Israel; we’re vastly bigger and way more diverse, but something along those lines and along the lines of the armed pilots, etc., needs to be done. We can at least make it a lot harder for these subhuman pieces of shit.

    And I am now in favor of severe public beatings for any libruls or politicians or lawyers who now squeal for tougher gun laws. We just can’t have that nonsense anymore.

  17. The problem has nothing to do with firearms. The problem is that we no longer allow the involuntary commitment of seriously crazy people. Guns don’t kill people, crazy people kill people. If we outlaw guns, crazy people will use knives, baseball bats and spears to kill people. What are we going to do then? Outlaw knives, baseball bats and spears? Really?

  18. Well, guns almost never shoot people; people shoot people. I say “almost never” because about 35 years ago the chief of police in Greentree, a Pittsburgh suburb, was in fact shot by his own gun, a S&W Model 59 IIRC. He was standing there minding his own business when his holstered pistol shot him. IIRC, S&W recalled those pistols, but Greentree changed service weapons to the M1911 .45 ACP.

    I remember snorting in derision when after 9/11 I read the list of items that couldn’t be taken on an airliner. Nail clippers? Ironic, considering that *I* was allowed to take myself onto an airliner carrying my black belt in Shotokan karate, and that was only the sporting/recreational part of my martial arts training. The other parts were serious. So, I can kill a stewardess in less time than it takes her to blink. Without any effort, I could think of a dozen ways to kill someone quickly and cleanly. And they’d happily let me board an airliner? Geez.

    Weapons are not dangerous. People are dangerous, at least some of them. And what makes them dangerous has nothing to do with what weapons they’re carrying or what training they’ve had. I think ESR has the right of it: there are people who are sheep, those who are wolves, and those who are sheepdogs. We have too many of the second and too few of the third.

  19. Examples of how strict gun control prevents school massacres:

    I believe China does have involuntary commitment of seriously crazy people, so that isn’t the answer (at least the sole answer). The trick is in identifying the sickos before they commit gruesome acts. Upon whom shall we rely on to identify kid’s with “issues”? Teachers? Doctors? Great Gnu, not the police!

    That scares me more than defenseless kindergartens, actually.

  20. I remember snorting in derision when after 9/11 I read the list of items that couldn’t be taken on an airliner. Nail clippers?

    My brother is a commercial airline pilot. One time years ago when the pilots were also screened, his fingernail clippers were confiscated but he was allowed to keep his weapon. He really hated carrying that weapon and eventually quit. His theory was that if he wanted to take down an airliner it would actually be fairly trivial and would not require the use of weapons of any kind, not even chopstick (which I had confiscated), as he had the keys to the kingdom so to speak.

    There will be renewed arguments over gun control which is the same knee jerk reaction to any event. Crazies will be crazy and there is little you can do to stop it. Better to be prepared.

    Imagine a hijacker today if half the people on the plane were armed. I would hope that he would have no less than 50 bullet holes in his body. And no, you will not have explosive decompression from a miss that penetrates the hull. Bodies will not get sucked out, heads will not explode and the plane will not crash. As it currently stands I would gladly participate in snapping every joint in a hijackers body

  21. Well, so much for the recession and fiscal cliff (it is a fiscal slope!) worries here in Sugar Land, Texas. That house went up for sale last night and already has an offer on it. I am making a full price offer and prepared to go another $10K over the asking price.

    BTW, in a country of 310 million people like the USA (otherwise known as the biggest social experiment in human history), there is no way to identify the crazies. Instead, some people should be prepared for the crazies and others should be ready to hide in the corner of a dark room.

    The principal of a school, any and all vice-principals and as many teachers who want to should carry guns. I have often heard that an armed society is a polite society.

  22. As expected, lib politicians and pundits all over are calling for Obummer to take all guns away. I guess they never heard of the Constitution. Obummer won! Now he can just do whatever he wants! I can’t believe how dumb this country has become.

  23. Actually, gun control is to the contrary of the wish-think solutions of other societal problems.

    Specifically, illegal aliens – can’t stop them from the criminal act of illegal entry? Amnestize them, give them our extracted tax monies and let them vote.

    Additionally, illegal drugs such as marijuana – can’t stop the growing of it on federal lands (USFS) and selling it on street corners? Legalize it, tax it and let them puff away.

    Seems like a contradiction in solutions to me.

  24. The Left is noted for doing this and predicted by us right-thinking people. Also the worst story I can remember; this even beats 9/11 due to being little kids, totally defenseless and no protection from adults on-site. Wife says this is classic case of schizophrenic person not being treated or followed up on adequately; maybe 150,000 males with this in the country, and most are treated and under control but periodically some of them go totally haywire like this. Not much anyone can do; they could have had armed Seals on-site and if you can’t get to this guy with a head shot within seconds, you’re screwed. Same thing out in Aurora, CO. You’d have to have had the drop on the mofo as soon as he came in the back door, and that guy had body armor, too. Arm and train selected teachers, school staff and parent volunteers. And librul cocksuckers who squeal and sqawk about gun control need to be seriously and publicly bitch-slapped and then beaten to a bloody pulp and left for dead, along with the MDs and shrinks who don’t do their job with these people.

    “You will be able to eat until you are 600 lb and never leave the house!”

    Damn, I’m already nearly halfway there! I bet LOTS of my fellow Americans are even farther along than me; I’m a piker, a noob, a neophyte. OTOH, I’m also nearly six and a half feet tall; if I was thirty years younger I’d make a great NFL tight end. Too bad someone of that stature was not right there this morning to tackle this guy and grind him into the floor before he could pull a trigger; I note that the initial reports mentioned .223 ammo and now they’re saying it was two handguns. By the time we’re through with this, the spin doctor types for the State will have told us lots of lies and left out lots of stuff, like they did with the Aurora, CO case.

  25. I just read something briefly somewhere about a new camera that takes the pics and then you can use it to do whatever focus and other stuff you wanna do later. As in much, if you want. With just the camera.

    Clearly (pun intended) the pic on the right is bettuh.

  26. Lynn,

    For your Oxford Cloth Button Down (OCBD) shirts, you can’t go wrong with the original from Brooks Brothers. Alternatives are from J. Press and Land’s End, but I guess the latter’s out now. Best to pick them up at Brooks’ post-Christmas sale for 40% + additional 20% off.


  27. Brooks Brothers has my “do iron” striped all cotton button down shirts for $80 each. Wow. Wow!

  28. Dang, y’all are some hi-falutin’ types here. OFD just wears flannel. And boondockers. Mrs. OFD goes barefoot, mostly, and also in flannel.

  29. Count me out of the hi-falutin’ types. I don’t even wear long pants, given any choice in the matter. Shorts with cargo pockets, T-shirt, flannel shirt if it’s chilly, hooded sweatshirt if it’s cold. Bare feet, usually. And of course the aura of awesomeness that I just can’t dispel. I’ve tried to be less awesome, but even when I screw up, I screw up in an awesome way. Ref my first marriage.

  30. The drama must be exciting; I screw up continuously in many small ways now after decades of screwing up in a couple of major ways, so there is progress, I suppose.

    Winter wonderland in Retroville this morning but halfway down the road to work it disappeared and became mostly rain.

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