December 13th, 2011

The Stairs are Winning

When I was pregnant with T., I went down to the basement for something and about six steps from the bottom, I slipped and fell the rest of the way, developing a really ugly bruise on my left, er, cheek as a result. I always used the handrail on basement steps thereafter, except when I didn't and I was super-aware when I didn't.

I am not this cautious about the steps from the first to the second floor. Well, I wasn't. I am now. On Sunday, I went upstairs to retrieve my daughters slippers (she asked for them) while wearing wool socks. Very slippery wool socks. I slipped maybe four steps from the top and slid all the way down. This time, multiple bruises, the biggest one being on my upper left arm. I was doing a really good flail trying to slow my descent but wasn't able to stop (the bruises were all a result of this flailing since I didn't fall any specific substantial distance through air onto a sharp corner).

On my list of things to do this week is to find someone who will install a carpet runner on the stairs. Because if I'm absent minded enough to forget to use the handrail AND wear slippery socks once, odds on, I'll do it again.

coupons, price comparisons, etc.

My poor sick A. I have managed to convince her to lay down on the couch, on a pillow, under a blanket. Still wearing her mittens, of course, because she's figured out how to make the iPad work with the mittens on (no, I don't get it either. They're knit and I think a wool blend.). And she's off the couch. *shrug* Curious George's Very Monkey Christmas is running; we ran out of Angelina Ballerina episodes which are too short anyway.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to waste time online and after resisting the temptation for days, I'm going to blog about Price Check. I've known for a while that some people will price check using a mobile device (maybe even purchase online while in the physical store). It struck me as sort of wrong, altho the more I thought about it, the harder it was for me to understand _why_ I thought it was wrong. The net effect of researching arguments against doing it was the opposite of what was intended (by me and by the people creating the rhetoric). In short, in the course of reading arguments in favor of buying books from independent bookstores, I remembered a whole lot of incredibly negative experiences with independent bookstores. I quit going to physical bookstores entirely (which is sad, in a way, because it's an activity I've enjoyed for decades), because I wouldn't leave without buying something, but I really prefer reading on an e-reader, so if the children's book selection was poor I'd walk out with things I didn't really want, or would have preferred in another format.

To be clear: I'm not _boycotting_ independent bookstores. I just grew so troubled by the moral conundrums they present to me that it feels more moral _not even to walk in the door_. That way, if I see a book I want, but buy it in kindle form, I won't have negative feelings about having "cheated on" the p-store. That way, if I see a book I want, I don't avoid buying it at all, to avoid that sense of cheating. That way, if I see a book I want, I don't buy it in p-form, and then feel pissy about having to buy it in a form I don't want, because I discovered it at an independent bookstore.

Safer to do all my exploration in the environment where I am willing to purchase.

With that as background, I've been bemused by the criticism of Amazon offering a holiday discount to people who use Price Check in the real world and then buy online. Stores of all sorts (including independents) have a long history of running promotions that involve producing proof that a competitor carries the same thing at a lower/discounted price, and then getting it for that price (or double the discount) at the place you go to instead. Price Check feels like the same thing to me online. Me, I get really cranky when I see time and effort in my household put into using coupons; we don't need to save the money and we certainly could use any time devoted to couponing for something else. If someone starts making arguments based on cheaper, I walk the other way, because I sense a trap (<-- not the way I was raised, I might add. I shopped a lot of white sales as a teenager, chauffeuring my mother around).

Anyway. The criticism of Amazon's behavior comes in three forms. One form I am sympathetic to: Amazon avoiding paying sales tax. One of the siting criteria for Amazon at the very beginning was a state with a largish population of programmers/good supply of labor but a smallish population in terms of purchasing (so, not New York or California, say). This avoid-sales-tax-thing is _old_ for them. I'm amazed they're still getting away with it, but it's clearly on its last legs.

The second criticism is the same kind of criticism Wal-mart always got whenever they opened a new store in a place where the local retailers felt threatened. I'm going to leave that one alone, other that pointing to the above remarks about the bad experiences at independent bookstores (there were good experiences, don't get me wrong. But it was far from uniform. Uniform mediocrity is legendary for beating unpredictable swings between excellent and appalling, and Amazon has managed to beat mediocrity for me at least, very consistently. Is it as good as browsing bookstores followed by sushi with a friend? No. But it is infinitely better than arguing with certain clerks at Elliot Bay Books who managed to combine snobbishness with ignorance.).

The third criticism is asserting that this is a behavior that Amazon is instigating.

Which is foolish. They aren't. They are enabling it, but customers were doing it in great hordes for years before Price Check came out. Attacking the behavior is attacking customers. Not smart.

Sample coverage (does not display the most typical traits -- I'm listing things here that have additional perspectives):

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_19521464

http://blog.chron.com/lorensteffy/2011/12/is-amazons-price-check-app-anti-competitive/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2011/12/12/amazon-price-check-flap-is-no-strategic-blunder/

On an unrelated topic, the LA Times series about autism continues to be excellent.

looks like Bueno Y Sano is opening late February

http://www.wickedlocal.com/acton/mobiletopstories/x1294663029/Acton-board-eyes-Dec-19-tax-rate-vote

"New eatery

A new restaurant is coming to town; the board voted unanimously to grant a special use permit and victualer license for Bueno Y Sano restaurant, scheduled to open at 263 Main St, in the Kelly’s Corner section of town, in late February.

The special permit covers a request for an additional 26 to 30 seats on the right hand side of the building. The current parking would meet the requirement for zoning, as this area requires one parking space per three seats."

WOTD: Re-hypothecation

I realize that most of the fun to date with the MF Global scandal has been watching Jon Corzine squirm. That's basically always good for a giggle. But not much more. Calculated Risk has weighed in on MF Global finally:

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/12/mf-global-and-rehypothecation.html

Many links embedded. Have fun!

Gawker (I think) has a category/tag for "firstworldproblems". This is somewhere much more rarefied than that. It's a solid argument for being Canadian, too. (<-- Believe me, I'm aware of the counter-arguments.)

ETA: CR is walking it back already. Which is sort of sad. It was such a great storyline.

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/12/update-mf-global.html