New Year Resolutions

I celebrated my New Year’s Eve by going to bed at nine, dozing through the “all-new” re-run of PBS’s Midsomer Murder mystery (Inspector Barnaby), and turning out the lights at ten.

The fireworks start all over town about five to midnight, peak to abroad flat sound plateau for a few minutes either side of midnight, and then taper off. Everybody’s watch has a slightly different version of the exact time, and this is perhaps the one time of year when you can prove it. There is something nice about being awakened to the old ritual, peering sleepily at the glowing clock dial for a few minutes, and going right back to sleep.

A fire engine makes a noisy arrival somewhere nearby. 12-31 is one of the two nights they must hate, the other being 7-4. In Castro Valley you can also hear the odd illegal 9mm auto salvo, and then someone breaks out grandpa’s thirty-odd-six and the echoes of its mighty report carom all over town. The hail of spent lead never rattles on the rooftops; where do the bullets of drunks and fools really land?

For 01-01-2011 I resolve:

  • To move to Arizona this year
  • To ignore all e-mails which begin “Only a few days left to save …”
  • Not to spend a trillion dollars, no matter how tempting
  • To watch out as the Young Turks try to dismantle Washington on January 5
  • In a similar vein, I’m cutting back on Curious George shows

I’m retired, but I hope some of us find new jobs soon. I would hate to be remembered as one of the last working Americans. I trust your new year will be productive. Happy New Year!

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“Black Friday”

As far as I can tell, this new buzzword “Black Friday” really exploded into popular media and advertising usage in 2010. But it crept up on me without warning. Where did it come from, and what do people mean by it?

Savvy shoppers would know it refers to the day after Thanksgiving. As you might suspect, it also refers to a really, really bad day. According to Wikipedia, the phrase originated with one Fisk-Gould Scandal, a financial crisis which occurred in 1869.

Also according to Wikipedia, there are well over a dozen distinct references to “Black Friday” with their own origins and meaning.

But the most popular meaning, the one currently saturating the newspapers, emails, radio and television, originates in Philadelphia as a “bad hair day” for both shoppers and police. Wikipedia’s citation:

JANUARY 1966 — “Black Friday” is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. “Black Friday” officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.

If you have any interest in the origin of popular phrases, the article cited above is exceptionally interesting and well documented. I would recommend checking it out.

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