Posted in Monday Mayhem

A Zombie Christmas

The most interesting part about this season is not so much about seeing generosity spreading like a contagion among shoppers, as one would hope, but is about seeing how crowds run amok in the aisles in a senseless quest to attain the unattainable. I say interesting because it reminds me of something else that runs amok seeking the unattainable. If you guessed the zombie horde, then I will have to agree.

A Zombie Christmas
A Zombie Christmas

When I look at the situations, there really isn’t much difference. Christmas shoppers will stand at the doors waiting for them to open, they will stampede as a group and some in the crowd will hope they will get their hands on the spoil that has called them to defy logic in an effort to satisfy an inner need.

Now, take a look at the zombie horde. It, too, will stand at the door, in some cases, pounding to get in. Once the doors open, as one unit, it rushes through the door in hopes of capturing that which it has sensed as its need—human.

Strange how this season brings out the best in people.

The perfect zombie Christmas present.
The perfect zombie Christmas present.

I’ve noticed this happening online, too. A large electronic manufacturer will have a sale of merchandise, yet, in limited quantities. The ads purport the sale will begin at the stroke of midnight. The crowd eagerly anticipates the timing. Only a handful for sale, but that’s okay, everyone in the crowd believes the item will be in one of their hands. However, the reality is further from the truth. At exactly one minute after midnight, the item is no longer available.

If I were part of that crowd, then I will have been one of those wanting an explanation. Why the hook to bring in the horde? Why so few for so many? Why not introduce further victims into the fray by releasing more stock to the waiting throng.

Doesn’t this season bring out the best in people?

Let’s go deeper—the parking lots. The day before Christmas, all of a sudden the mall parking lot becomes ground zero for the battle of the century. If zombies existed, they are the ones driving the cars in hopes of finding a spot. They drive around several times with the belief of attaining the unattainable, a free spot. And once a free spot becomes available, like a hornets’ nest stirred to anger, cars swoop in for the kill. Only one is lucky enough to grab the spot, but not without a fight. Necks bulge. Fists shake. The lucky one is lucky to make it out of his car alive.

Ah, isn’t Christmas wonderful? Like obedient zombies looking for their next meal, shoppers flood the malls and online retailer with the belief they can attain the unattainable. Of course, a lucky few do walk out of the store with their prized item. But, for what? For the item to be forgotten in a chest somewhere a year later?

Maybe we’re not too different from the zombies after all.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What do you think of the Christmas shopping season? Have you noticed the horde stampeding through doors?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Christmas Talk Already?

I wrote an entirely different post for today that I eventually scrapped because I felt the tone was not conducive to a positive atmosphere. My original post poked fun at the phrase “pay it forward” and it’d implied a message of performing good deeds with the expectation of getting something in return. Some folks call it reciprocation, but I have a better word for it.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve

In my world, I call it a transaction.

Anyway, after thinking about it, for today’s Freedom Friday I decided to talk about something else.

With winter right around the corner, it’s that time of year when I start thinking about putting the lawn furniture away, raking the leaves, and sealing all doors and windows to our house in preparation for those cold days when all I can see is my breath floating in the air. For some, autumn is over the day after Halloween. The Christmas lights go up. The carols play in the department stores. And the first snowflakes hit the ground.

It’s also the same time of year that many use to finish old or plan new projects. In my case, I look forward to this time as a way to draw closer to the family. Given I have such a stringent writing schedule, it’s nice to settle indoors and spend time with the people I love.

Christmas shopping season madness
Christmas shopping season madness

However, in the hustle and bustle of yearend, I’m eagerly anticipating one thing—Christmas shopping season. It may be a strange thing to think about, considering Christmas is a month away, but I actually love the buzz in the stores. As we get closer to that fateful period. Many of the game manufacturers wait until now to deliver their most prized treasures to consumers.

I know the film industry is on top of it. Who can deny Jurassic World hasn’t already prep’d the audience last summer with the subliminal suggestion that folks ought to offer the DVD or Blu-Ray as a gift under the tree? The whole opening sequence to the movie has Christmas in mind.

Then LEGO announced recently the company has a brick shortage and won’t be able to fill all its orders on time, in spite of opening new manufacturing plants throughout the world. I don’t know about you but Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one LEGO set making an appearance. Isn’t there some unwritten rule about that? I don’t know.

Let’s not forget the crowds. Oh, how much the crowds make up the best part of the season. Elbow to elbow, everyone gunning for the last toy on the shelf. Is there anything else that can be so perfect?

Of course, I’m being facetious. The idea of driving around senseless to grab the last parking spot in the mall so that I can drag my butt into a store I never will visit again to buy a toy that in a year’s time will end up as part of a junk heap really appeals to me. Do you see me jumping for joy?

Okay, so maybe I’m not really looking forward to Christmas as much as I thought, but you can’t tell me it isn’t fun watching the season unfold into chaos. That’s the best part.

Nothing quite replaces the spirit of giving when everyone’s thinking about materialism.

After all, greed and fear is what makes the economy go around, especially during this time of year.

Get the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy now!

Are you looking forward to the holiday season? What are your plans?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Life Is…

There are days when things don’t make sense. Like when you walk across the street and a cop stops you for jaywalking—not that it’s happened to me. Or when you step outside and it begins to rain. Or when you’ve just missed your bus by a fraction of a second and all you can see are the vehicle’s taillights trailing into the distance. Or when the movie you’ve wanted to see all spring is sold out. Or when the waiter brings you a dish you thought you hadn’t ordered and realize it is the dish you ordered. It was the wrong choice after all. Yeah, some days things don’t make sense.

Life Is…
Life Is…

This is my Freedom Friday article about—well, you’ll just have to find out.

But then there are those days you want to hold on to until the end of time. Like when you order a Greek salad and the waitress adds extra olives to the dish. Or when you’re driving and every intersection you pass there’s a green light. Or when you buy that item you’ve always wanted, and find at checkout that you’ll be saving an extra twenty percent because you came into the store at the most perfect time. Or when you find the last sale item on the shelf and wonder if life could be any more amazing. Or when someone holds the door for you, and you know it has made all the difference in the world that morning when you’d lost total faith in humanity.

Yes, we all have those days. Bad or good, they are our days. No one can take them away from us and no one can say they can relate either. Your days are your own, even if it’s happened countless times to others.

Isn’t that the purpose of life, though? To hold on to the things that no one else has experienced in order for one day to show others we can provide some wisdom worthy of learning? Of course, it’s never that simple. Every moment of every day sets the bar higher and we’re still holding our breath trying to stay ahead of it all.

Yet, regardless of how the day goes, there’s always that single instance when you feel the world and all the forces of the universe have collapsed within themselves as a means to connect with you to show there is something as perfect as hope. And it’s that hope that carries everyone forward to a better life filled with wonder.

Now, it may sound strange and in some respect seem all random. But there is a logic to this illogical existence we call life.

It’s just a matter of finding out what that logic is.


Have you had anything good happen to you lately? What makes it so special?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Herd Mentality

Mob mentality has been around since the beginning of time. Ever since humans could form tribes, colonies, villages, towns, cities and nations, mob mentality has been alive and well. Have a look at the biblical story of the tower of Babel. Everyone was busy building a tower to the heavens that they didn’t stop to ask if they should have built it in the first place.

Zombie Herd Mentality
Zombie Herd Mentality

Today, for Monday Mayhem, I want to have a look at how zombies contrast with humans regarding herd mentality. I would like to compare similarities and differences in order to understand zombie and human behavior—besides one species being undead.

Have you ever gone Christmas shopping? I enjoy doing it in November when the store shelves are full, people’s attitudes are easy going, and parking spaces are aplenty. Try hitting the malls anytime in December and you’ll be out of luck. That’s why I avoid at all costs, if I might add, Christmas shopping in December. You’re taking your life in your own hands.

Without fail, every Christmas a toy or gadget comes out that becomes the hottest thing on the market to get for the holiday season. Advertisers make a big deal of it, stores make a big deal of it—and this is where it gets interesting—friends make a big deal of it. They especially fall for the carrot and ride the wave of peer pressure to that once-in-a-lifetime deal they think they’ll never have the chance in getting any other time, ever.

World War Z
World War Z

Thus the herd mentality is born. The inciting incident, the carrot, is the deal. If the advertisers can convince one person, that person can become their agent to secure the loyalties of others tempted with the same deal. The worst offenders of this practice are those stores that offer the gadget at half-price for one day only. You want to see death on the doorstep? Show up during that one-day sale. The herd mentality will reign supreme.

What about zombies? Easy, they work on the same principle. Show them what they couldn’t live without and they will follow it to the ends of the earth. The undead could be the most docile creatures in their dormant state. Once a human enters their world, they become ravaging beasts, filled with greed and violence. Well now, not much different from Christmas shoppers, are they?

And that really is the trick to the zombie herd mentality. The undead would have to see what they lack for them to go crazy, storm buildings, tear apart storefronts and kill for the sake of their selfish desires. It’s greed, really, that drives a mob mentality to commit the awful atrocities in the streets.

Thankfully, humans don’t have to worry about zombies interfering with their Christmas shopping. Wait a minute. Perhaps I’ve spoken too soon. Even if human toys and gadgets don’t appeal to zombies, humans themselves do. I take it back. Humans have a lot to worry about with zombies interfering with their Christmas plans (even if it is six months away).


Have you seen instances of herd/mob mentality in real life? What are some examples?

Posted in Freedom Friday


If you’re like me, celebrating the holidays and having gotten stuck unwrapping gifts, then you’ll know I’m not joking when I ask: Why does it take a degree in engineering to puzzle over how many handy ties keeps a product in place in its box? I mean seriously, manufacturers produce a lot of packaging for kids’ toys. Some of that packaging could go to great use, such as gasoline for our cars.


Given the subject matter, I think it appropriate to write this post for my Freedom Friday series. If anything, it’s a definite vote for freedom, for sure.

What am I talking about? One of my kids received one of those cool plastic toy characters a couple of days ago as a gift. Under normal circumstances, I’d appreciate the gesture from the giver, shaking their hand in a gracious act of gratitude. However, when it comes to kids’ toys—I surrender.

You see, as a deterrent to avoid shrinkage—that’s the polite term used by fancy-shmancy store chains to describe shoplifting—manufacturers ship their toys in virtually impenetrable packaging only a seasoned professional with safecracking qualifications would dare attempt to open. This, as the stores have said, keeps prices low in an effort best to serve their customers.

But I ask, is it necessary? Is it really necessary? Here’s my experience with the whole packaging drama bit. Let’s take a quick example of what I mentioned as the ultimate kids’ dream—the franchise plastic character toy.

Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Army Knife

First, I have the box to open. Easy enough, I’ll try to use my nail to break through the one-inch, high-tack sticker that seals the box. My nail doesn’t work, prompting me to grab a Swiss Army Knife to do the deed. Success!

Second, I remove the toy from the box only to find it sealed in a custom, see-through, plastic shell that I either could use a chainsaw to serrate the edges or an incredibly sharp knife. The Swiss Army Knife it is again. I slowly cut around the edges, hoping to get to the toy. I manage to separate the front face of the plastic from its casing. Success, I can finally touch the toy with my fingertips!

Third, three-inch, wire ties keep the toy from moving. Of course, the ties have had twenty-five to thirty twists added, which makes it impossible to gain access to the toy unless the customer uses wire cutters to clip them from their stationary positions. Yes, I use the wire cutters. Success once again! The toy is a tug away from being mine.

Last, now the tricky part. All that work is nothing for what comes next—attempting to pull the toy from its plastic mould. Now, I understand shoplifting is a problem, but in all honesty—manufacturers, malls, stores and bargain shops everywhere—is it really necessary?

I pull, I tug, I grab. The toy is almost out of its cryogenic chamber. I snarl, I sneer, I laugh. I can almost feel it floating in my hands.

Then? I heave a bit too hard. One of the toy character’s arms snaps.

I growl.


Have you ever had to deal with a packaging mishap? Care to share the story with us?

Posted in Freedom Friday


I have a ritual I perform every weekend during this time of year. I’m not sure if anyone else does the same thing, but it satisfies my hunger for something different. What do I do? Early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, I’m talking 7:00am, or late in the evening, 11:00pm, I hop into my car and head to Wal-Mart.

Paying for a good find
Paying for a good find (Photo Credit: Unknown)

Then, I stroll.

Yup. I amble through the aisles with one intention—to study the shelves. Why? I ask a lot of questions, don’t I? Well, how else would you enjoy Freedom Friday without my questions?

Getting back to my story, as I wander adjacent the neatly stacked shelves of the all-you-can-eat consumer buffet, I take note of the prices of items, how many sit on the shelves and the need of such items for our family. Things like picture frames seem always to make an appearance in my journeys since I’m rarely without my camera taking a shot of something interesting out in the wild. So when a nice picture frame comes on the market, I take notice of its quality and price.

Another item I look at is the TVs, then notice how my antiquated Sony Wega 32-inch CRT is so 1999. Every time I head to the electronics section, I lose myself perusing the digital displays hanging along the wall. Oh, to have one of those 80-inch TVs invade our home. But then I’d wonder where would we put it? There’s the whole problem of getting it into the house. Okay, that wouldn’t present too much of a problem since we have a double-door entryway, but where would we hang the thing? Seriously? We’re talking about finding a wall or an area filled with—virtually nothing. Hard to do in our house, considering we have stuff hanging everywhere.

Fancy big screen TV
Fancy big screen TV

Nice to dream.

Next stop, the book section. I love looking through the new releases, the older picks and the discounted items. I love the smell of the paper when I flip the pages, the look of the lettering when glancing at the covers, and the feel of the whole package in my hand. I get a high off of the gloss or matte finish the publishers use.

I need to buy more books.

Then I come upon the music section. Oh, how music inspires me. There isn’t a moment I don’t have the headphones on with some music playing in the background as I perform my daily routine. In this instance, I browse their CDs to check out the newest artists, albums, songs, and maybe even listen to a few samples.

Is there a point to this post? I suppose there is.

Every now and again, I enjoy browsing simply for the sake of browsing to see what stores have available. I also find it relaxing since I do not feel the pressure to buy anything. When I do come across an item that I deem as a good deal, I snap it up without a second thought.

I think browsing is a lost art form that presents unlimited possibilities on the budget.

And who knows, maybe one day I might just replace that old Sony Wega 32-inch CRT with one of those fancy widescreen monsters everyone raves about. It would certainly make for a wonderful surprise for the folks at home.


Do you browse the store shelves? Have you found any treasures in your travels?