Shop ’til you drop

December 17, 1999

Online shopping has risen dramatically this year, yet it hasn’t really had much effect on shopping the old-fashioned way. Although it would seem obvious that shopping online is easier, faster, more convenient, and sometimes even cheaper, here are a few reasons why people are continuing to shop the old-fashioned way:

The parking

There’s nothing more fun than walking four and a half miles across solid blacktop to get to the store entrance. And what better way to sharpen your reflexes than by outmaneuvering people for a parking space that’s only four miles away from the entrance?

The store clerks

Most store clerks at this time of year were just hired fifteen minutes before you arrived. They don’t know any better than you do where the salad bowls are. And remember: nametags are deceiving. The girl who’s checking you out really isn’t named Jim. Jim walked out an hour ago, and she’s wearing his nametag until she gets one of her own.

The other customers

Some store clerks are naturally obnoxious morons. It’s why they’re working as store clerks in the first place. A few, however, are intelligent, reasonable people who have been turned into obnoxious morons by customers who ask, "Where are the salad bowls?" in a tone that suggests the clerk is responsible for the salad bowls not being at the front of the store under a huge sign that says, "SALAD BOWLS". And of course it’s the other customers who bring…

The children

Follow the cartoonish splat, bang, and yip noises in any large store and you’ll find a herd of small children staring vapidly at the latest straight-to-video cartoon release playing on a strategically placed monitor. The smart parents are the ones who drag their children along with them. The resulting screams and wails effectively drown out the dumb questions of other customers, and the even dumber answers of the store clerks.

Freethinkers Anonymous will be going on vacation until December 31sh, when I will present my year-end wrap up just before Armageddon. Until then, enjoy this week’s offerings.


How To Wrap Presents With a Puppy

1. Gather presents, boxes, paper, etc. in middle of living room floor.

2. Get tape back from puppy.

3. Remove scissors from older dog’s mouth.

4. Open box.

5. Take puppy out of box.

6. Remove tape from older dog’s mouth.

7. Take scissors away from puppy.

8. Put present in box.

9. Remove present from puppy’s mouth.

10. Put present back in box after removing puppy from box.

11. Take scissors from older dog & sit on them.

12. Remove puppy from box & put on lid.

13. Take tape away from older dog.

14. Unroll paper.

15. Take puppy OFF box.

16. Cut paper being careful not to cut puppy’s foot or nose that is getting in the way as she "helps".

17. Let puppy tear paper remaining to be cut.

18. Take puppy off box.

19. Wrap paper around box

20. Remove puppy from box & take wrapping paper from her mouth.

21. Tell older dog to hold tape so he will stop stealing it.

22. Take scissors away from puppy.

23. Take tape the older dog is holding.

24. Quickly tape one spot before taking scissors from older dog & sitting on them again.

25. Fend off puppy trying to steal tape & tape another spot.

26. Take bow from older dog.

27. Go get roll of wrapping paper puppy ran off with.

28. Take scissors from older dog who took them when you got up.

29. Give pen to older dog to hold so he stops licking your face.

30. Remove puppy from present & hurriedly slap tape on to hold the paper on.

31. Take now soggy bow from puppy & tape on since the sticky stuff no longer sticks.

32. Take pen from older dog, address tag & affix while puppy tries to eat pen.

33. Grab present before puppy opens it & put away.

34. Clean up mess puppy & older dog made playing tug-of-war with roll of wrapping paper.

35. Put away rest of wrapping supplies & tell dogs what good helpers they are.


Christmas is just around the corner so here are some gift ideas for those special men in your life! Buying gifts for men is not nearly as complicated as it is for women. Follow these rules and you should have no problems.

Rule #1:
When in doubt – buy him a cordless drill. It does not matter if he already has one. I have a friend who owns 17 and he has yet to complain. As a man, you can never have too many cordless drills. No one knows why.

Rule #2:
If you cannot afford a cordless drill, buy him anything with the word ratchet or socket in it. Men love saying those two words. "Hey George, can I borrow your ratchet?" "OK. Bye-the-way, are you through with my 3/8-inch socket yet?" Again, no one knows why.

Rule #3:
If you are really, really broke, buy him anything for his car. A 99-cent ice scraper, a small bottle of deicer or something to hang from hhis ear view mirror. Men love gifts for their cars. No one knows why.

Rule #4:
Do not buy men socks. Do notbuy men ties. And never buy men bathrobes. I was told that if God had wanted men to wear bathrobes, he wouldn’t have invented Jockey shorts.

Rule #5:
You can buy men new remote controls toreplace the ones they have worn out. If you have a lot of money buy your man a big-screen TV with the little picture in the corner. Watch him go wild as he flips, and flips, and flips.

Rule #6:
Do not buy a man any of thosefancy liqueurs. If you do, it will sit in a cupboard for 23 years. Real men drink whiskey or beer.

Rule #7:
Do not buy any man industrial-sized canisters of after shave or deodorant. I’m told they do not stink – they are earthy.

Rule #8:
Buy men label makers. Almost as good as cordless drills. Within a couple of weeks there will be labels absolutely everywhere. "Socks. Shorts. Cups. Saucers. Door. Lock. Sink." You get the idea. No one knows why.

Rule #9:
Never buy a man anything that says "some assembly required" on the box. It will ruin his Special Day and he will always have parts left over.

Rule #10:
Good places to shop for men include Northwest Iron Works, Parr Lumber, Home Depot, John Deere, Valley RV Center, and Les Schwab Tire. (NAPA Auto Parts and Sear’s Clearance Centers are also excellent men’s stores. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know what it is. "From NAPA Auto, eh? Must be something I need. Hey! Isn’t this a starter for a ’68 Ford Fairlane? Wow! Thanks.")

Rule #11:
Men enjoy danger. That’s why they never cook – but they will barbecue. Get him a monster barbecue with a 100-pound propane tank. Tell him the gas line leaks. "Oh the thrill! The challenge! Who wants a hamburger?"

Rule #12:
Tickets to a Vikings game are a smart gift. However, he will not appreciate tickets to "A Retrospective of 19th Century Quilts." everyone knows why.

Rule #13:
Men love chainsaws. Never, ever, buy a man you love a chainsaw. If you don’t know why – please refer to Rule #8 and what happens when he gets a label maker.

Rule #14:
It’s hard to beat a really good wheelbarrow or an aluminum extension ladder. Never buy a real man a step ladder. It must be an extension ladder. No one knows why.

Rule #15:
Rope. Men love rope. It takes us back to our cowboy origins, or at least The Boy Scouts. Nothing says love like a hundred feet of 3/8" manilla rope. No one knows why.

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