Monday, 14 November 2011

Aside #15: November 11, 2011: Remembrance Day?

November 2011

Remembrance Day and the entire weekend were indeed one to remember.  It was chock-a-block full of activities, in fact more than Husband and I counted on.  It had jammed into it SmartCooking! (next posting), a delightful dinner party, a memorable brunch with my 84-year-old uncle who was in town to participate in the Veterans' Day ceremonies, a greet-the-new-(I want one)-baby drop-in, an encore of raking the leaves (time for all of them to be DOWN!), fitness (not enough of course), an encounter with the Unconscious Beings from across the street (more below and see Aside #7) and Apple Shopping.

In bad parallel construction form, I will focus on the last activity...  Apple Shopping... as the subject of this Aside.  Not the farmer's market type of apple shopping, but an 'argh-I-need a new MacApple laptop and how can it possibly COST that MUCH!' 

Let me take you through the sequence of events on November 11, 2011.  Friday morning was Remembrance Day morning.  I always mark it appropriately.  I usually end up cleaning the kitchen and assembling lists for the weekend while watching the ceremonies on the kitchen TV.  Given that we live downtown, we can hear the gun salutes that "boom" from Parliament Hill every few minutes.  The cats (who were outside in their back deck gazebo and condo) jump every time the 'boom' sounds.  I ran outside when the two CF-18 flew overhead AND this year marked the first time the Air Force sent a flyby of 7 Griffon helicopters as a specific tribute to the Canadian Forces mission in Afghanistan.  It really was a sight to see in the Ottawa skies. 

Stores were scheduled to open at 12:30 p.m. once the ceremonies concluded.  A friend and I had decided earlier that week to be at the Apple Store (of course located in the busiest tourist mall in downtown Ottawa) as soon as it opened.  I expected to walk out with a new Mac with all my files transferred over from the old one, which was dying quickly. 

Three things went wrong with that plan:  a) it was a HUGE mistake to try and drive or be anywhere downtown; b) Apple is now so corporate that service is impossible; and c) I didn't count on the 'Black Friday' type of frenzy that began the minute stores opened their doors after the Remembrance Day ceremonies. 

Mistake #1

My first clue should have been trying to park at the mall.  Almost as soon as we arrived, the 'lot full' sign went up.  When we walked into the mall, we walked straight into CHAOS, i.e., security guards and long line-up of youngsters eager to purchase the XBox 360 game called "Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 3", hyped by a company eager to shatter its one-day sales records.  It did.  I can't stop thinking about consumers celebrating Remembrance Day by buying an ENTERTAINMENT GAME that glorifies war.  Go figure....

There were more modest line-ups for the release of the 8th and final chapter in the Harry Potter series on DVD and Blu-ray and the final epic battle of good versus evil.  The forces of Good are of course victorious (with consequences).  If only war had a final chapter like Harry Potter ...

Mistake #2

The Apple store was completely jammed with frenzied consumers of Everything Apple.  I am completely out of my element in that store, sure I will ask a wrong, dumb question of the super-savvy, all-tekked out Apple boys (sorry, few girls there).  I went about replacing my Mac completely wrong. "I have money to spend," I say confidently to a harried, why-are-you-asking-me? employee at the Genius Bar. He continues to stare at me as I defiantly add:  "I want to buy a fully loaded, top of the line, 15-inch MacPro, transfer my files from the old laptop to the new one, and I will give you my debit card and be on my merry way fast.".... Not.  

Rejected by Genius Boy at the Genius Bar (turns out that's the service counter), my friend and I are directed to a table of MacPros.  Once there, it turns out you have to 'log in' onto a model MacPro and receive an electronic message that says "I'm 3rd in line for service".  Actually, my friend knew to sign in this way.... there are ZERO instructions anywhere telling customers to do this.  I'm sure I would have stood at the table for an hour waiting for someone to deign to help me.  

So... ding... another harassed Apple Boy comes to the table.  I repeat my chipper intro ... "Gee, I just want to spend my money in your store and leave here with a shiny new Mac toy...."  Nope.  No way.  Nada. Good-bye.  Why?  The laptops can only be ordered on-line because I want a 'custom' one.  Some warehouse in China ships it to my home address (not to the store).  I then bring the new and old ones to the Apple store for the transfer to happen. By this point, I've mentally swallowed half a dozen blue pills to calm down and mutter dejectedly about where on the website would I find these instructions advising me to not bother going to the store first.  For future reference... 'custom' means anything beyond the basic bottom price.  So add memory ... 'custom', a backlit screen ... 'custom'.  Maximum annoyance and frustration ... not 'custom'. 

So.... friend and I leave, grateful to get out of the MacMadness.  At home, I order what I want on line via my Ipad because of course my laptop isn't working.  And, naturally, I screw it up, by not seeing the option about 'standard' versus 'express' shipping.  So, some day in the next month or so, I expect the boat from China to dock and the Mac to be loaded onto the ass/mule to plod its way to my house.  And, yes, you,ve probably figured out by now that I am/was mightily peeved with the Gods of Mac... but I still bought one.   

Mistake #3

Back to Remembrance Day.  Friends tell me that other stores in Ottawa were similarly affected by the same form of frenzied afternoon shopping.  The cars in front of our house were lined up for blocks inching their way along the street to get onto the Queensway.  Some speculated that Remembrance Day is now Canada's version of the US 'Black Friday'.  Stores seem to be gearing their product launch strategies that way.  If so, TELL us and I will avoid anything but my own fireplace. 

It was an odd way to mark Remembrance Day.  The afternoon frenzy was in sharp contrast to the morning activities, courtesy of governments across the country and around the world actively promoting acknowledgement of the sacrifices and heroism of veterans.  The parades and speeches are bigger and longer than they have ever been in my memory.  But it seems the only memory most of us will have is having to wait through the morning hours to rush, spend, consume and lose ourselves in the glaze and haze of shopping.  Sad.  

Addendum Note re Unconscious Be-ings:

My lack of uninterrupted sleep was well documented in Aside #7 when I described the stupid neighbours across the street and dubbed them 'Unconscious Be-ings'.  Things quieted down a bit as the weather turned colder i.e., they drank themselves into a stupor inside the house.  The main floor of the run-down house now seems to be devoid of furniture or curtains so I assume they meet there, talked inanely all night, drink copious amounts of whatever, and crash on the floor.  Not that I care much...

But Remembrance Day Night was obviously the occasion for a ramped up Partee time.  I woke out of a solid sleep to loud noise that I could hear through the closed windows and blinds.  'Will' the Cat was trying to peek out the blinds to see what was going on, so I joined him. 

The Be-ings were loose on the street, running and bellowing like testosterone-hyped demons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This time the demon beings discovered bags of mulched leaves that were stacked up across the street (about 20 bags or so).  They decided, in their infinite stupidity, to throw the bags into the middle of the street. By the time I looked out, bag number 4 was being tossed; although it was 3 a.m., cars and taxis were out and about on our busy street and forced to swerve into the other lane to avoid the debris.   

I took a deep breath.  But I couldn't help myself.  I threw up the window frame in a rage and yelled as loud as I could for them to 'cease and desist'.  Perhaps my language was a tad more colourful than that.  Of course, the Be-ings then told me what I could do with myself... some type of anatomically impossible activity I believe... and ran off down the street. 

Husband of course was now awake and, inevitably, we ended up putting on coats over our night clothes and going outside to pick up the bags of leaves. I'm sure we were watched by the demon lads. Husband stalked in front of their house but alcoholic stupor had obviously set in and they didn't emerge.  Back in the house, I watched through the blinds as 2 of them (hoodies up) slithered back down the street and into their lair. 

That was the end of the night's sleep for me.  By 7 a.m., I'd read all the morning newspapers on my ipad and finally fell back asleep.  Husband took sleeping aides. I was irked on many levels... a) the absolute insanity of their behavior; b) the safety issues and knowing the police likely wouldn't have gotten here until an accident had occurred; c) them sniffing out that I'm the 'watcher' who tattles on their bad behaviour; and d) that I missed my 9 a.m. fitness class with a friend.  

Gotta say, I don't get these people.  Then again, I don't think they're people, which is why I call them the 'UNconsciouis Be-ings'.   ah well...




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