Christian Holidays – The War On Christmas: Black Friday

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Wal-Mart’s definition of “American Made”

So you’re at Wal-Mart on Black Friday getting your high quality, Chinese made presents for your kids, pondering the hilarity of a store built on the principles of only selling American made products, a “fact” which old naive stupid people still cite to this day while eating their green peas imported from Thailand. You’re still feeling pretty good from Thanksgiving dinner and not too many relatives pissed you off this year by trying to convert to you the evils of liberalism, or set you back fifty years with conservatism. Depending on which side of the dichotomy you fall on.

You’re behind one of those ladies who’s obviously in her fifties, but is trying too hard to look thirty-five. She’s managed, probably either through screaming, guile or just being here early and trampling a child to death to get one of those shitty off brand Wal-Mart TV’s that they had on “sale” but your grandfather totally got for cheaper at Sam’s three weeks ago. She looks awfully smug about it. The lady in the burka checking everyone out looks exasperated, mostly because its 5:15 in the morning and she’s had to mop up a puddle of toddler blood already.

Suddenly you hear the two words known to set off Republicans and Fox News fans from sea to shining sea from the poor muslim woman at the register, “Happy Holidays.” Then shit hits the fan. The lady in front of you yells, “Back in my day it was CHRISTMAS!” then pulls a red white and blue AR-15 out of her handbag and screams, “Lock and load bitches!” Four other gray hairs whip out AR’s and take cover behind end caps and open fire on the cashier who’s already ducked behind her register.

You hide in the women’s clothing department hoping not to get caught in the crossfire, skirmishes like this have broken out all over the country. A flashbang is lobbed out from behind the register and you manage to close your eyes and plug your ears just before it goes off. You see the cashier stand up and spray the dazed old women down with an Uzi as she retreats into the customer service department where her coworkers have already started laying down cover fire.

A few of the old women aren’t as dazed as you thought. They must have had a hard life, dealing screaming children to recover so quickly. One manages to drop a few Wal-Mart employees before she’s taken out by a frag grenade. A stray bullet incapacitates one of the other grannies.

Just when you think it’s about to be over, a few rednecks wearing bald eagle shirts come charging out of the back, unloading shotgun rounds into the Customer Service department. The Wal-Mart employees are professionals and no amount of flag waving bravado can make up for nine months working retail at $8.50 an hour. It’s over when management flanks the old ladies and forces them to surrender.

One of the old women, bloody from a piece of shrapnel from a Vizio television spits on the manager, “You may have won this battle, but the War for Christmas is far from over.”

“Ma’am, it’s Black Friday, we’ve just begun,” he replies, “By this time next year no one will even remember what your politically incorrect holiday even was.” They lead them to a back room, never to be seen again.

A few “wet floor” signs are put out and the area is taped off. The registers open again and you stagger to the front of the line. The burka wearing lady rings up your remote controlled helicopter and Sesame Street toy you had to stab a dude for.  You nod, smile and make your way back to your vehicle. It’s five thirty, you might can make it to Best Buy and get that sweet deal on that external hard drive and that crappy blu-ray movie for seventy-five cents before it gets too crazy. You sit back, exhale, and take your Glock from the glove compartment and put it in the back of your pants.

 

This is a work of parody and satire and in no way reflects any actual events, at least I hope not. Any resemblance to actual people real or imagined is completely coincidental and this work in no way reflects the author’s actual opinions about the organizations depicted herein.  

Keeping Your Electronics Charged at the Airport

I am a relatively frequent traveller, I find myself in the airport several times a year for business or pleasure. I’m also really cheap so I end up spending a whole day at the airport due to layovers. As a techie working in IT I need to stay connected and that means keeping things charged. I’ve come up with a small kit and a few strategies for doing this at an airport where electrical outlets might be far and few in between.

Feel free to skip to the bottom if you just want links to stuff you need for your devices to make this all work.

Strategy

Here are a few things to keep in mind when packing your electronics.

1. Minimize Your Stuff

Decide what you actually need before you throw anything into your luggage. I decided to whittle down my electronics when I figured out I was carrying enough that the TSA would comment at the airport. So keep to the least you can get away with. For me that is the following:

Tablet – An Asus Windows RT Tablet

Cell Phone – Galaxy S2

Camera – Sometimes a small point and shoot, sometimes my DSLR.

GPS – A Garmin GPS, charges with a mini-USB cable.

I occasionally take a laptop or a Gameboy with me.

If at all possible you want all these to be using the same USB cable for power, but that rarely happens. Most Android devices all use the same cable, and Apple has been until recently fairly consistent. Point is though, they all typically use standard USB to charge and you just need the right cables. So you just need a charger with a USB slot on it.

2. Get Rid of Wall Wart Chargers

Practically all small electronics short of laptops use USB power to charge these days. Tablets, cell phones, cameras, portable gaming devices, and just about everything else all are capable of charging with a USB cable plugged into a computer. If you’ve got a phone that doesn’t have a USB cable option, get a new phone.

You’ll drastically reduce the amount of weight that you have to carry just by getting rid of the wall wart chargers.

 

Wall Wart with Micro USB End
This is a “wall wart”. These are bad. They only have one end, and you have to take one for every device you want to charge simultaneously.

3. Charge More Than One Device At a Time

This is pretty important. There are a few options in the “Kit” that will help you do this. The idea here is that you might get one outlet jack and you want to maximize how much you can get out of it. Ideally you want to be able to plug in all your devices at the same time from a single outlet jack.

If you carry a laptop, check how many USB ports it has, and how many of them can power something when it is plugged in. New ones usually have more than two and all of them can be used to charge when the laptop is on AC power. One of those will almost always be able to power things when the laptop is on battery.

Check out the kit at the bottom for the non-laptop carrying way to deal with this. If you carry a laptop you can skip the chargers and just carry cables and use it to charge everything in your hotel room at night if you like to live dangerously.

 

This is a good example of a two port USB Charger. It only takes up one outlet.

 

Put Together an Airport Kit

After you’ve figured out what you need and don’t need, this part is easy. I’ve put together some items for a kit for you to pick from that will solve 90% of your travel power needs.  This is all based on the idea that you just need one singular USB charger and a few cable to do the job. This minimizes the amount of stuff you have in your carry-on bag (which is typically all you’ll have with you in the airport).

Here’s my kit:

Small Two Port USB Wall Charger – For the airport/hotel/wherever I’m staying.

Small Two port USB Car Charger – For the rental car. Can charge phone and power GPS this way.

USB Cables/Multi End Cable – One common one for each same type device. If they all use the same tip then 2. I carry four cables, each about a meter long.

Some Kind of Pouch or Container I’ve got a little drawstring cotton pouch I use for this. Keeps everything together and make it easier to swap backpacks.

The Links

Personally I prefer Amazon because a lot of third party retailers sell through them and you can buy this stuff cheap. If you tried to get this same stuff at a store it would be marked up 500%.

Chargers

Small Two Port USB Wall Charger

Small Two Port USB Car Charger

Please note that these chargers are for North America only. You might need adapters or totally different chargers for international travel!

General Cables:

Micro USB Cables (Type B) – Charges most Android devices. Blackberries, Amazon Kindles, Nooks, some bluetooth headsets and a lot of other devices use this type of cable as well. If you look at the end, it has black plastic in it. The type A which is less common will have white.

Mini USB Cables – Garmin GPS units use these. A lot of bigger devices like cameras tend to use these.

USB 3.0 Cables – The ASUS Windows RT tablet uses this type. I’m sure there will be other devices that use it soon enough.

iOS 30 Pin Cables – These are the old style Apple device cables that the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch used to use. If you’ve got an iPhone 3/3G/3GS/4/4S, iPod Touch up to 4th generation (maybe 5th) and iPads up to the “iPad 3”, they use this cable. You need to find the one that is for your specific device as while they should all charge, they might not all sync. This one should work for all though.

iOS Lightning Cable – These are for newer Apple devices. The iPhone 5, “iPad 4”, iPad Mini, and the 6th gen iPods and higher (I think) use this cable.

Camera Cables

Some camera companies use proprietary cables for their cables. You need to see if the camera can charge the battery internally. Most can, some don’t. Here’s some Amazon search links to get you started. You can add your model number after the search and get better results. Some of these cables are less than a dollar!

Nikon Cables – Nikon seems to use Micro USB for most of their cameras.

Olympus Cables – Olympus uses a proprietary cable. If it’s a standard cable type I haven’t found it. Every Olympus camera I’ve seen or owned uses this type though.

Canon Cables – Canon seems to use Mini USB cables.

Kodak Cables – These look like they might be MIcro USB but I can’t tell from the pictures.

Sony Cables – This is another proprietary cable type. It might be a standard, some cell phone use this kind of cable. Sony is all over the map in terms of cable usage so make sure it works with your model.

Polaroid Cables – Polaroid seems to use mostly Mini-USB cables as well.