The turkey has been well brined, and now it’s in the oven. I’ve also assembled a green bean casserole with fried onions. The rest is up to the wife, because that’s the way I roll. [And I didn't poison him because that's the way I roll. --TPK] It should be a good Thanksgiving for us here, but we almost didn’t have a first Thanksgiving. John Stossel does a good write-up of these circumstances at RealClearPolitics:

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.

“So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented,” wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, “began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.”

In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

“This had very good success,” Bradford wrote, “for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.”

Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.

It’s a simple element of human nature that people have a strong drive to work hard when they benefit from their labors. It’s been proven over and over again. People can either accept this fact and tailor their lives around harnessing that power, or they can try to work against it and be perpetually disappointed at the results. Whenever leftists propose another communal system, the fact that such a system has failed every time it has been tried does not appear to faze or deter them. THIS time it’s going to work because they’re in charge. But it will fail, just as it has failed every time every hubris-soaked powermonger has stepped up to the plate to change history.

I don’t care how smart or talented or thoughtful or powerful you are; you can’t alter human nature to suit your system. At best you can tailor your system to suit human nature, and harness the raw potential of every human being.

So happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Even in the darkest of times, we have so much to be thankful for. And today, among many other blessings to count, I’m thankful that I will have a yummy turkey feed in about 2 hours.

The niece and I were watching TV, and we saw two commercials with a Christmas theme. The first was Macy’s with a generic holiday ad that was obviously a Christmas commercial that was too embarrassed to actually say “Christmas.” The second was an IHOP commercial with two nutcrackers asking each other what they were going to wear for Halloween. Later I saw another IHOP commercial with nutcrackers saying how embarrassing and wrong it is to have Christmas commercials before Thanksgiving. So how much more embarrassing is it to do Christmas before November?

So I’m going to write these two companies and express that I will not spend any money in either establishment before Jan. 1st, 2010, and they are both going onto my Holiday List Of Shame:

Holiday List Of Shame
IHOP
Macy’s

So this was my first Black Friday. Black Friday is the term given to the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, and the mass of frenzied shopping that has come to be associated with it. Most people have the day off from work, and my hat is off to the canny Founding Fathers who decided that a Thursday holiday would mean a four-day weekend, so what else is there to do but eat leftover turkey and go shopping?

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is officially the Christmas season. If you go by the store displays, the Christmas season started in September, but they didn’t ask for my permission before putting them up, so they weren’t official. Next year when the stores start unpacking the Christmas decorations, remind them that the Captain has forbidden all their Christmas displays, their Christmas muzak, and their culturally inoffensive wishes of “Happy Holidays!” until after Thanksgiving. Offenders are to be keelhauled if I’m feeling piratical, or tossed out the airlock if I’m in a science fiction mood. And yes, the weather is very nice on my planet, thanks for asking.

So the combination of the post-Thanksgiving day off, the official kick-off of the Christmas season, and retailers smart enough to recognize when money is aching to be spent has come together to create what is often the best shopping day for many stores.

There are some anti-capitalist fruitjobs who clamor for this crass commercialism to go away, so they can spend the day hugging a tree in peace, but nobody listens to them except other tree-hugging, dolphin-kissing Liberals like themselves. They can take their tofurkey leftovers and march on Buy Nothing Day for all they want, or I care. It’s not going to affect much when 64% of Americans say they plan on going shopping anyway.

I have never participated in Black Friday before. More than anything I might have an opportunity to buy for cheap, I had always enjoyed sleeping in on my day off. Then my wife made the mistake of pointing out bf2005.com to me. [I've been framed! Framed I tell you! --TPK] (The website seems to be down now.) This site posted the Black Friday specials way before the stores sent ads to the newspapers. Some of the stores *cough* Kmart and Sears *cough* objected to having their bargains posted online before their time, and demanded that their information be pulled. But it takes me a few days to decide to buy a big-ticket item; in the end I decided to get out of the house based on the bf2005.com ads and not the Thursday ad inserts.

I was in the market to upgrade our computer monitors, since our current ones were getting very dark. I did a quick search for “LCD 17″ to see all the 17″ LCD monitor offers. Hot dog! There were some really good deals! Armed with this information, I rose early and visited some stores to do my part for the American economy. Here are the three stores I visited on Black Friday, in the order of Suck, OK, and Nicely Done.

Circuit City

It’s official: this store is teh suxx0r! If you plan on going to Circuit City for Black Friday 2006, don’t! There’s a long wait at the Circuit City checkout counter even on normal days, but this was terrible. The store was crawling with people at 5:30am, and it was painfully obvious that not all of them got up early enough to shower that morning. I recognize that Circuit City is not responsible for the hygiene habits of its customers, but the only stinky people I encountered on Black Friday were crammed into this one store. There’s nothing like being stacked cheek by jowl with folks who exude the lovely piquant odor of stale sweat. Eau de Bargain Hunter. Well, more like Eww de Bargain Hunter.

The lines at Circuit City moved with all the pep and vim of an arthritic sloth. While there were plenty of checkout registers open, the computers were maxed out–and the time it took for them to print the yards of receipts and rebate offers reminded me of the old 300 baud modem days. I waited in line for 45 minutes, and moved about 12 feet. When it occurred to me to ask the caffeinated red-shirt to check on the monitor I wanted to pick up, he quickly responded that there were three left in stock. The guy directly in front of me wanted one of those models, too, so I quickly scanned the line in front of me and realized that if even two other people of the 40-50 people in line before me wanted that same monitor, I’d be out of luck. The odds against me were very bad, and my nose was unhappy, so I decided to leave.

All in all, it will have to be a cold day in Hell before I willingly walk into Circuit City again, Black Friday or no Black Friday. All my experiences to date in that store have involved slow service and annoyances, and in my discussions with others who had been to Circuit City’s Black Friday offerings in earlier years, I discovered that my experience was pretty much par for the course.

Purchases: none, and unlikely to be any in the future.

OfficeMax

I went into OfficeMax on a whim at the end of my shopping trip, so I was already tired. However, they had a good advertised deal on a 1 GB USB drive, and I really needed one for work. Since the doors had opened three minutes before, I decided to jump into the fray. There was already a line of customers outside waiting to get in. Rather than dealing with customers madly dashing into the store and trampling others in the process, the OfficeMax managers had clearly thought ahead. Everyone was lined up and organized, and one employee was walking up and down the line handing out copies of the sale flyer and maps of the store. They had spent some time doctoring up the flyer with letters and numbers which corresponded to areas on the store map, making finding those items much easier and faster. The big-ticket items in limited supply were numbered, and as I entered the store, I asked for the number of the item I wanted. I was given a ticket for that item, guaranteeing that I would get the item at the register. So my most important question–”will I get this item?”–was answered as soon as I entered the store.

There were no people rushing through the doors at OfficeMax. This suggests the OfficeMax manager understood how critical it is to maintain order on busy days like this. Any videos you may have seen of mobs pushing their way past newly-opened doors and trampling those who fall demonstrate that not all store managers understand the importance of maintaining discipline and control. The OfficeMax checkout line was orderly, but they missed the possibility of placing some last-minute impulse buy items in displays along the checkout line to tempt shoppers. As I reached the end of my wait, I noticed that several OfficeMax clerks were responsible for collecting the tickets and bringing the items to the waiting customers, and another was directing people to checkout counters as soon as they became available. While I actually had an overall longer wait at OfficeMax than at Circuit City, things were much better handled at OfficeMax, so the wait didn’t feel as long.

Purchases: 1 GB USB drive.

Best Buy

OK, my shopping experience at Best Buy on Black Friday was hands-down the best of the lot. There were no stampedes at the door, and lots of items were available for purchase. The flat-screen monitors I had come to buy were placed in large stacks in the aisles for easy access, rather than locked up as they were at Circuit City. Our local Best Buy opened fairly recently, not far from the Circuit City store, and I believe they will do very well if my experience there is any indication. The store had been carefully arranged so the checkout lines could wind back and forth without blocking the throughways, and there were lots of impulse buy items–batteries and cheap DVDs and games–scattered along the path. I didn’t buy any, but they gave me something to look at since I had forgotten to bring my customary paperback along to pass the time. People waiting outside in the rain for the store to open could get free coffee and donuts from high school volunteers who were soliciting donations for their clubs. I’m not sure whether the high school clubs had proposed this idea to Best Buy or whether Best Buy had instigated the idea, but their presence suggested that the store had considered the comfort of the people waiting in line to get into the store.

Best Buy did a great job of making the wait as painless as possible. A Best Buy employee stood at the end of the line with a huge orange balloon, making it easy to point out the end of the line. Best Buy was able to keep things moving along faster than the other two stores because they had 10-12 checkout counters fully staffed, with clerks directing customers to registers as soon as they came free. And while it looked like they had added some temporary counters, their system was fast enough to handle printing the yards of receipts and rebates without noticeable slowdown of the kind I saw at Circuit City.

If I lose my mind again and decide to do my consumer best to make the economy hum next Black Friday, I will carefully examine the sales at Best Buy. If past results are any indication of future performance, the best shopping experience in 2006 will be at Best Buy.

Purchases: a 19″ LCD monitor for the wife and a 17″ LCD monitor for me.

I am very thankful for the wonderful blessings I have. The top three that I am thankful for are my God, my family, and my country.

I had a large essay explaining these three areas half-written in my mind, but as I sat down to write, I first looked up what I wrote last year. I must not have changed much in the past year since these three subjects are exactly what I wrote last year. I’ll just Ibid and be done for today.

T minus 3 hours. Mmm…… In the meantime, we are watching Saints and Soldiers.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, let the shopping frenzy begin! After all, isn’t that the essence of the Christmas season?

Speaking of Christmas, I really dislike seeing stores and towns put out their Christmas merchandise and decorations earlier and earlier each year. This year I noticed that Wal-Mart had several aisles of Christmas decorations out two weeks before Halloween. Yes, I recognize that Christmas is the major money-making season for businesses, but pushing the season earlier and earlier really doesn’t help them as most people don’t shop any earlier for presents. I wish stores and people would enjoy each season and holiday as they come, rather than trying to rush into the next one.

OK, rant over. Now back to the leftover turkey. Mmmm…….

Today is Thanksgiving Day, our holiday celebrating the bounteous harvest of the Pilgrims. Since that time, we gather to celebrate and give thanks for the things we have been given. I am thankful this year for God, family, and country.

God

Since everything we have comes from God, I am thankful for all the things He has given me. While I try to thank Him by doing what He says, I know that will never be enough. King Benjamin explained it this way:

I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

Family

I love my family, both the one I was born into and the one I married into. The times of greatest joy and happiness in my life have come from being with my family. Nothing else I do in my life will be as important or ultimately as meaningful as the time I spend with my family. David O. McKay once summed this up with the statement, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Country

This is a land of freedom, and the twin freedoms of worshiping God and serving my family are cornerstones supporting the continued success and freedom of our country. “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” While this quote is often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, it doesn’t appear anywhere in there. But whether or not the statement is his, the sentiment is true. No other country has done so much for so many others. While we may not always be popular with other nations, America has been successful in freeing over 50 million people from oppressive governments. Regardless of whether you love or loathe President Bush, he has been very successful in offering freedom to the world by seeking to destroy tyranny and terrorism wherever it lurks.

God, family, and country — three blessings that I am especially thankful for this November.

Since this is Thanksgiving week, I will only post this one short Captain’s Comment.

Thanksgiving Day — the day we sit down and gorge like pigs on turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, rolls and pie. This is the day America unbuttons its collective pants and sits around watching football, while complaining about how we overate again after we promised ourselves last year we would not do it. But hidden in this day of gluttony is the idea of actually giving thanks for what we have.

I am first and foremost thankful for my family. I have two wonderful parents who raised me well and taught me many invaluable principles that have served me well in life. The more I model my life around their teachings and the gospel of Christ, the better my life becomes. I am thankful for two brothers whom I love but do not see often enough. I am thankful for a loving wife. As my father says, we three boys all married above us, and I can see how this is true in my wife. I am thankful for her family. Her mother has welcomed me into her family with open arms. I am so glad that we do not have a stilted in-law relationship. I call her “Mom,” and I love her.

I am thankful for this country. The United States is not perfect, but it is by far the best country in the world. I have spent about a third of my life living outside the U.S., and while I have loved living in many countries, I remain an American. As de Tocqueville said, “America is great because it is good. When it ceases being good, it will no longer be great.” I am thankful for a President who understands that we first need to be good to be a nation that is great. I am thankful that we are free, and I am thankful for the brave men and women who bear arms to keep this nation free.

As you sit down at your table and get ready to feast, spend a few minutes and thank God for your many blessings.


And now for a rant. I love the holidays. I love the food and the family get-togethers that come with them. But I really dislike the way people try to rush holidays. Specifically, I am talking about Christmas. One of my pet peeves is the way some stores and cities will put out Christmas decorations waaaaaaay before December. I believe this year’s winner of the dubious honor of being first was Rite Aid. I noticed two aisles of Christmas decorations were in place near the end of August. Yes, I understand that Christmas is a prime money-maker for stores and businesses, but this is not helped in any way by putting out the Christmas stuff early in the year. I have made a personal decision not to patronize a store that pushes Christmas items too early.

It’s very simple. Halloween decorations should not appear before the first of October. Thanksgiving themes apply to the month of November. Christmas and all its associated trappings should not start appearing in stores or on TV until the Friday after Thanksgiving at the earliest. Learn to savor each holiday as it comes, but please do not rush headlong into the next holiday before the first has passed.

OK, I feel better now. Time to get things ready for Thanksgiving.