Four For Friday

  1. Gift Cards: The National Retail Federation says that we spent $24.81 billion this past holiday season on Gift Cards, and that each one us spent more on gift card contributions last year than the year before (the average consumer, says the NRF, spent $116.51 in 2006 vs. $88.03 in 2005). Did you purchase a gift  card for someone last year? If not, did you receive a gift card from someone as a holiday gift? I did both. gave me a gift card to the MOA so I could own clothes that fit, and I gave a Best Buy gift card to , my brother-in-law, because he’s really hard to shop for and I got lazy.
  2. Email: When you open your email in-box for the first time each day, which messages do you read first? Do you read them in reverse chronological order or do you pick and choose which ones to read first based on a different priority? I read the personal ones first, and then delete all the ones advertising sales at my favorite stores, unless I’m really bored, in which case I may actually read them.
  3. Weather: The current El Nino weather anomaly that can create atmospheric havoc around the world should continue into the spring, extending unseasonably warm temperatures in North American through March, the U.S. National Weather Service predicted yesterday. How has the weather impacted your life these last few months? If you live up north, are you receiving more or less snow; and if you in the down south, is it cooler or warmer than normal? Despite whether (no pun intended) you normally receive snow or not, are you happy, sad, or indifferent about your area’s current weather? When my life includes standing out at the bus stop with semi-wet hair in the morning, I prefer it to be as warm as is reasonable. If it has to be this cold out (it’s in the teens today, and was 5* when I woke up this morning), I’d prefer snow on the ground. Oh, and I hate the cold. But you already knew that.
  4. National Guard Service: For the first time since President George W. Bush mobilized the National Guard and Reserve (after 9/11), the Pentagon is abandoning its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty. Until now, the Pentagon’s policy on the National Guard and Reserve was that members’ cumulative time on active duty could not exceed 24 months. That cumulative limit is now lifted; the remaining limit is on the length of any single mobilization, which may not exceed 24 consecutive months. In other words, a citizen-soldier could be mobilized for a 24-month stretch in Iraq or Afghanistan, then demobilized and allowed to return to civilian life, only to be mobilized a second time for as much as 24 additional months. In your opinion, is the Pentagon’s change fair, and furthermore, do you think it’s called for? I, um… don’t know. I really have no basis to make a decision on this. I could ask my cousin Ed, who recently returned from Afghanistan, but he was in the Army, not the Reserves. And he’s not going back, because his girlfriend told him it was her or the Army, and he picked her (that wasn’t an unfair ultimatum she gave him, just the reality – it’s very stressful to have a long distance relationship in that situation, and she was just being honest). Oh, and they’re engaged now.