“Ho, ho, ho, George, of COURSE I’d be pleased to do an interview with you!”
I’d spied a fat old man, mid 70’s by the look of him, wandering around our ranch/outpost out by the carport in the wilds of East Texas. He was staring down the barrel of my 9 mm Ruger and acting like it was an every day occurrence..
Upon hearing my command “Halt! Raise your hands slowly…” he announced an unlikely claim:
“I am the REAL Prepperclaus and you need to interview me.”
“Are you shittin me? I’ve got a SWAT Team on speed dial, mister. So just keep your hands where I can see them and explain yourself. This is Texas and this is private posted land. Only a damn idiot would be here uninvited and you look close enough to an idiot for me…”
“OK, OK, I know you’re a little tense, George, but please allow me to explain.
In your column yesterday you hinted that Santa might be a marketing figure and it was a very catchy article. Not viral, but it did spawn a lot of talk among the elves, it did.
But you know, Georgie, most of us Joy and Mirth spreaders really are joyous at this time of year. And your reader, The Wizard, was right…you did miss reporting on some of the really evil spirits that put on shows at this time of year…like Black Peter, also known as Zwarte Piet. Heard of him?
Georgie? Who was this guy?
“How’d you know about that? That was in a secured email file…are you connected with the NSA? We pay our taxes, we inform people, and we keep a crack legal team at the ready…”
“Ho, ho, ho, that’s a good one! Crack and legal right next to one another…oh, you’re the funny writer…Ho….ho….ho….
No, you silly skeptic, I AM the original Prepperclaus and I’m here to spread the joy of preparation and preparedness.
You were assigned to me by the Head Office because of your Claus clauses, and because the Claus cause was paused by your lack of prepping advice which people need to get from breaking news.”
“Huh?” I lowered the Ruger, but just slightly. Whoever this guy was, he was old, didn’t look threatening, and this was getting to be an interesting conversation..
“Your column yesterday reported many things, but of all the headlines you didn’t focus enough on the arrival of bad weather.
And what did you do about it?”
“You mean in the column?”
“Yes, yes…what did you DO about it…”
“Well, I mentioned that Global Warming was having it’s ass kicked. And I figured when ass-high snow drifts start stranding people, they’d figure out that this was the time to break out the winter storm gear and get ready for the crap to hit the fan…power outages are something people should ALWAYS be prepared for…”
“But, what did YOU DO after you wrote the column yesterday?”
“Well, I got out my landline phone…it’s an AT&T 210 Corded Phone, Black, 1 Handset and for under $10 bucks on Amazon…”
“I took one of those phones from our supplies over to the house, one to my office, checked the flashlights, and wrote down the local power outage reporting number. Then I taped 3-by-5 cards with the phone number to each of the phones.
Panama dug out the backup 10,000 BTU ventless propane heating unit for the house and hauled it over. I checked the small propane tank for Panama’s apartment and the backup catalytic heater for there…
Then Elaine and I baked bread (sourdough French) in the bread machine…”
“And did you ever mention that you’d purchased a bread machine? Specifically, according to our records a…hmmm…ah… an Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker, White for sixty-three dollars?”
“Well, no, I guess I hadn’t mentioned it …but do you really think people would care that we’re doing bread at home in a machine?
“That’s it! Now you’re getting to my point!”
“Which is what, besides sneaking around and being obscure?”
This was dragging out and the wind was picking up and all I had on was a short-sleeved shirt. The rotundo fellow looked like he was decked out for Arctic survival school.
“You need to focus more on the things you actually DO around here.”
He gave a sweeping gesture, waving around the property.
“Well, I do report a lot of it…”
“I’m sure some of your readers find your falling off a ladder interesting, but do you ever talk about the REST of it?
How many readers know about that cheap plastic miter gauge on your table saw that you’re trying to find a replacement for, as an example? You should give people more useful information, like that.
It’s OK to tell them that an aluminum table on a table saw SEEMS like a good idea, but cast iron is probably a better long-term investment. That kind of thing, do you see?
Report stuff people can ACT on…”
“Well, like you and Elaine having the debate about that big bull pine tree over yonder…and that strip of pines out to the west of your office building. Why not talk about THAT?”
“I figured that the conversations we have are between us and don’t need to be written up…”
How the hell did he know that Elaine doesn’t want me to take down a dozen big tall pines because my elaborate plans to compete with the Tennessee Valley Authority (with my solar power system ) are being seriously hampered by big tree shadows that are blocking direct sunshine? I’d figured it’s costing me about fifty to seventy-five bucks a month in lost solar power…
“You want me to write up more of the small stuff?”
“I wouldn’t tell your bride that going Paul Bunyan on her trees is small stuff.
Nor is it small stuff to think for a week on where to put those 10 glass block windows you’ve framed up for your studio/sound/thinking room retreat you’re building.
Anyone can write on the Internet. The Head Office just wanted me to drop by and mention you need to focus more on keeping it real, relevant, and responsive.
You knew that, I suppose, but my messenger duty was to remind you.
Now I’ve done that and I gotta go…Ho, ho, ho…
I’d put the gun back in shoulder shoulder holster. This fellow had as good a line of BS as I’d ever heard.
“Before you leave, I noticed you’re wearing green cammo. I thought all you Mirthers wore RED suits. Nice beard, however…
“Your reader Ben already told you the answer to that…you have to listen more closely to your readers. That’s the responsive part.”
“What he asked was whether it was true ya’ll used to wear GREEN suits prior to Coca Cola doing a marketing campaign and forcing you to change to RED because it went better with their product color…”
“Well, he’s right, but like you always say, Everything’s a Business Model, isn’t it? Ho….ho….ho…..
Say…did you watch Tomorrow People’s first season?
“Yeah…how’d you know?
“Watch this….beats a sled six ways to Sunday….”
With that, he raised his right hand over his head, snapped his fingers once and there was a soft ripping sound followed by what looked like a vertical purple rip in….space-time….and he just stepped through it. And at that very same moment, a brief orchestral hit with a touch of synthesizer came from his direction.
“Hey! Where’d you go? Where did you come from???”
The wind was picking up and it had turned bitterly cold.
Then suddenly a voice – sounding far, far away – was heard clearly just above the wind:
“Check the Carol Christian piece in The Houston Chronicle! Ho…ho…ho….”
I went back in the office and hit the Houston Chronicle site. Well, I’ll be damned! There it was as I read:
Now, About that Birthday
I am shocked.
Not one single email complaining about my Christmas story yesterday. Could it be that the Retailing Christmasjack is that real and apparent?
Reader Rose Marie came to my defense:
I almost always enjoy your columns…and the days I don’t are only because I am too busy to sit and really read. But, today’s article on Christmas was exceptionally good and correct. Don’t misunderstand, I am a Christian. But, I am so tired of religion. And one of my favorite sayings that I use quite frequently is ‘everything is a business model’! More truer words have not been uttered. What you said about the 10% tax is so correct. To me, it is a ‘get out of hell’ card.
Marketing at it’s finest!
I thought you may get a lot of flack over today’s article so I wanted to let you know that there are more of us out here in the neither-lands that agree with you. Keep up the good work.
Like I say, I was shocked it didn’t end up in “burnings” in the front yard. But so far, nothing but those three round depressions in the wet ground…ahem.
The historical view of when the actual birthday was?
Just because you will probably get a hundred emails on the subject, I thought I should wade in on the birth of Jesus before the masses.
The key to the birth date of Jesus, is that the shepherds were watching their flocks by night.
This is lambing season which falls in spring in Israel. Being that Jesus seemed to do most of his big stuff on Jewish festivals, it is most likely that he was born on Passover which is the only festival at that time and very significant as this was the day of his death also. He was also not born in a stable (bad Greek translation), but simply the lower room of one of his relatives houses. The houses were built with a lower and upper room area. the upper for sleeping, which was most likely filled with other relatives who had gathered for Passover (not taxation as is written) As they arrived late, they would have had to sleep in the lower work area with the animals.
After the male baby is born, there is a three week period where the woman is left alone to recoup and bond with her child. No visitors. This is the time that the wise men showed up to give gifts of high monetary value, 21 days after.
That aside, his birth cannot in any way be pegged to a date on the Gregorian calendar.
The Hebrews used the Hebrew lunar calendar which has a month based on the appearance of the new crescent moon. This does not match to the solar calendar and the date would move on the Gregorian calendar by weeks each year. Hanukkah as an example is just finishing this year, whereas last year it was by Christmas.
Thought that might clear a bit of stuff up for the letter writers who wish to send you to hell.
Very much appreciated…I’ve been meaning to ask Chris to write up the “dozen things” about Christmas that aren’t backed up in biblical texts…or however many it is… Their free “Best of The Chronicle Project (over here) is a good read if you don’t have enough to fill the holidays…
A Retailing Note
A note from a reader up in Snowigan reminds us not to take the year to year retail sales data too seriously:
George, you forgot a little snippet in your annual Christmas rant. Some president (Roosevelt, maybe) moved Thanksgiving from the 4th week to the third to provide a longer shopping season for Christmas.
This year of course, that didn’t happen and my husband is buried in orders and not enough bodies (that know how to work) to fill them. He’d give his left arm and a leg right now for one of those job jacking robots!
Merry Christmas, Kimberly in MI
That’s good news, and bad, I suppose…the robots will be along shortly. The key is to own them and charge rent. And, like I’ve said before, until we have the brains God gave chickens, and figure out that human-replacement equipment should be taxed as though it was paying income tax (because income would otherwise have been paid to a human), we are hopelessly screwed and no number of mealy-mouthed books by high-falutin economystics will mean bupkis.
I, Robot meet We Idiots.
Help! Reader Department
1. If you sent in a note about Peoplenomics access yesterday and haven’t gotten a response from me yet, please resend. The computer ate a piece of homework…
2. If there was one of the columns this year that you found particularly good (or heaven forbid, useful) please send me a note since it’s that time of the year when various journalism/writing contest entries have to be submitted to the two groups I belong to. That’s the National Association of Newspaper Columnists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
I love to write, but proofreading is like pulling out fasdobns;ps. Please send your suggestions or condolences.
More Monday…be back and be not broke. And remember to write when you break even.