Black Friday Poll

It's over. You did it. Maybe you took no notice because of the 9 to 5, or maybe you gorged on leftovers and lay-aways (Do they even have those anymore?). Regardless, another Black Friday has come and gone. Stores are richer, Christmas is closer, and if you aren't out in a treestand right now hunting your cares away, let me know how Black Friday went by taking this little poll:

How did you spend your Black Friday?

What did I do? I spent part of the day working. Then the family walked downtown for the Christmas tree lighting (Julie got to decorate it - you'll have to ask her about driving a lift) and caroling. We enjoyed a glow-in-the-dark art exhibit in the local gallery before returning home. After the kids went to bed, the two of us did what all computer-friendly couples do these days: watch comedy on the internet.

At the risk of belaboring this post, I have to let you know about my longer and more polished reflections on Black Friday. They are personal, and personally disturbing, but I'm not sure what to do about that so I'll be grateful for yesterday and hope my mid-life crisis includes a conscientious wake-up. I'm getting lax in my waning 30s. Read the article here:

Black Friday Slip at The High Calling.

The High Calling is a website about work, life and God. Cart photo by Claire Burge


Pinched: Harris Interactive reveals who's cutting back the most

I knew people had been tightening their financial belts, but the following chart by Harris Interactive surprised me with who's cinching the most.

Either Gen Xers are the wisest or they've been the most careless. (Click on the image for a larger view.)

Advertising, as powerful as it is, can't compete with scarcity (real or perceived). Read more about the poll results here.


Sons of Martha

I found Rudyard Kipling's "Sons of Martha" last week while reading about the dangers of electricity. I can't quite tell whether the poem is Kipling's jab at Jesus' seemingly unbalanced response to Mary and Martha, or a celebration of work. Either way, it's an interesting take on Luke 10:38-42.

In the story, Mary sits at the Guest's feet to listen while Martha (not unlike a Martha Stewart, I imagine) stays busy with the preparations. Kipling has us realize the true importance of Martha's work. He sides with the laborer. He elevates those who keep the world oiled and moving (read: for the Sons of Mary, those spoiled brats).

Who doesn't feel a little bitterness when team members or office mates or siblings drop the ball and leave us with the weight? Resentment is a common by-product, and this is precisely Martha's problem.

Then she lets it slip. It gets to her enough that she actually tattles to Jesus. Compulsively, she levels the field, and it backfires on her. If only it weren't about fairness and keeping score, Martha and her sons might recognize the special call to work, the risks involved, and the joys it pays out. Maybe then Jesus would say, "Mary and Martha, you have both chosen the good part."

Here's the poem from 1907. See if you can find the electricity reference:

The Sons of Martha

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, 'Be ye removed'. They say to the lesser floods, 'Be dry'.
Under their rods are the rocks reproved - they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit - then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matter hidden - under the earthline their altars are;
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their work when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand.
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat:
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that:
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed - they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet - they hear the Word - they see how truly the Promise Runs:
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and - the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons.

~ Rudyard Kipling

Labor in lunette, by Charles Sprague Pearce. Public Domain.


Hot coffee and biscuits!

After ten years of playing the critic, I’ve never ceased being a fan of advertising. Too much of the industry frustrates me to no end, but I still love good persuasion. I love witnessing it. I love doing it. Then this week it dawned on me that my family – beginning in 1883 – spent 75 years persuading people to buy from Van Eman Bros. Hardware in Canonsburg, PA. They were the Lowe’s of little town, USA, and it seems they were pretty good at their trade.

Is advertising somehow in my blood? I don’t think so. At least, not simply because retail exists in my ancestry. But when I found the following letter in a box of old family items, I had to admit some excitement.

In short, my great-grandfather Sam and his brother J.J., joint proprietors, had sent their newspaper ad to the Robeson Rochester Corporation to show off the store’s promotion of a new line of coffee percolators and stoves. The salesman from RRC was, needless to say, excited. Here’s his reply:

(Click on the image to see a larger size)

Taking advantage of “women folks” like that. How dare they!  ;)


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