Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, December 31, 2020

The year has around 5 hours left in the tank (less 3-millionths of a second, thanks to the recent Indonesian earthquake). Adieu 2004, bonjour 2005!

I could declare a resolution or two, and share that with Technorati’s World Live Web. But, despite the likely effectiveness of sticking to such declarations after putting them in writing, I’ll pass. I do have certain hopes and goals to accomplish in the coming year, but nothing I choose to yak about here unless/until they come closer to actual fruition (and maybe not even then).

It’s funny how time flies. There’ve been various points in my life where I was sure I’d never see the light of 2005; I’m still somewhat bemused that the calendar will read thus tomorrow, and that my eyes will be taking it in. Wonders never cease.

Anyway, I’ve got to start prepping for the night’s festivities. I might have the geek sensibility to blog throughout the passage of one year to another, but it’s not going to happen on this night (even if I had a Treo or similar portable device that was fully Web-enabled). There’s a time and a place for everything, and tonight’s a time for some good ol’ offline fun.

However you choose to usher in the New Year, have a blast! See you on the other side.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2004 07:05:42 PM
Category: General
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Speaking of gift certificates, I redeemed one yesterday at Blockbuster. I went into the store having a videogame in mind, but I didn’t find anything in that department. So I browsed through the movies, and found a copy of The Barbarian Invasions, a flick I really enjoyed in theaters earlier this year. I watched it again this morning, along with a little documentary discussing the film’s themes. Good as ever.

Watching Invasions reminded me of my post from April about what it and other works dealt with. While not an especially strong piece, I think it’s worth a re-reading. And so, instead of simply linking back to it (which doesn’t guarantee anyone will actually read it), I’m re-posting it here:

I went to see The Barbarian Invasions this afternoon. It was the second time I’ve gone to a theater to see it; last time was about a month or two ago. I practically never go catch a movie in theaters twice, so it’s a strong indication of how much I enjoyed it the first go-round.

As it began today, I was suddenly struck by how much the core theme from Invasions mirrored another film I’ve seen fairly recently: Big Fish. Essentially, both movies are about strained relationships between fathers and sons, with the impending death of the fathers triggering moves toward reconciliation and resolution (of sorts). That one movie was largely a fantasy (Fish), while the other was a more sober look at mortality and regrets (Invasions) doesn’t diminish their common strengths. In each case, it made for an engrossing and (for me) unexpectedly touching story. It’s hard to craft a good male-bonding relationship on film without it coming off as either sickly sweet or else goofy, but I think the directors for these two flicks did it beautifully.

The other common theme in them is their settings: The American South for Fish and Quebec for Invasions. Both regions are hinterlands of sorts; I tried to get across my feelings on that for the South shortly after seeing Fish, and more recently found those ideas recast in terms of the political landscape. Quebec, in relation to the rest of Canada (and even North America), is often cast in the same light. In both movies, place is as much a factor in shaping the characters that propel the story.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2004 06:46:27 PM
Category: Bloggin', Movies
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It’s the thought that counts, but what the hell were they thinking when when they got you a gift card for Wicks’n'Sticks?

Rather than deposit that little piece of plastic into the local landfill, you can hit the appropriate websites to swap out your gift currency for some to a store that’s more your style.

The swapping I can understand, even if the dollar amounts don’t exactly match. I mean, if you’re not going to ever step foot into a Home Depot, then it’s worthwhile for you to trade that $50 certificate to someone who loves the place, and take his $25 gift card for the local Apple store (if that’s how you roll) in exchange.

What’s harder to understand is buying a gift card on eBay for more than face value, as you occasionally hear about (I’d try to find an example online, but I currently don’t feel like it).

You’d think the retailers would object to this trading market, but so far, they’re cool with it:

CardAvenue and SwapAGift said interest is increasing as word spreads, and there’s no question about the popularity of the gift cards. The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, said consumers planned to spend more than $17 billion on gift cards this holiday season.

Spokeswoman Ellen Tolley said the federation didn’t have a position about the Internet reselling of gift cards, but pointed out that retailers do, in fact, want customers to use their gift cards.

For one, retailers typically do not record a sale as made until the gift card is redeemed. And, she said, gift cards provide a good way for a store to introduce itself to consumers or to boost spending.

“Retailers’ hope is that people will redeem the gift card, and spend a little extra,” she said.

Really, it’s a no-lose proposition for retailers: The vast majority of gift card redeemers will wind up spending more than the value of card, resulting in a sale where one may never have existed. That percentage of cards that never get redeemed wind up as free money to the stores; whether they get counted as actual sales is irrelevent, it’s still dollars tacked onto the bottom line (minus whatever cut the gift card services get, which isn’t much).

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2004 06:33:46 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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