Ask Red & Black
Is it too early to start shopping for the holidays?
October 08, 2021
FULL QUESTION: It's not even Halloween, but is it too early to start shopping for the holidays?
|Of course not! It's
never too early to start, although there's a huge difference between knowing
that, planning to do it, and actually doing it. I've always considered Halloween the start of what I call the "silly season," but if you go
into any store, it looks like it's already begun. Regardless, I think it's a good idea to get a
jumpstart (oh my, am I using a car analogy?) on holiday shopping, but also holiday survival techniques.
These days my holiday shopping list isn't nearly as long as it used to be because my girls are older and now prefer one or two carefully selected items (although figuring those out isn't always easy) vs. lots of "stuff" to unwrap. Although I still get them a few small "fun" things. But your question reminds me of the stress that comes with leaving things to the last minute and has inspired me to try to get my holiday shopping done early.
|Except for business gifts, which I traditionally order from Zabar's on Cyber Monday, I tend to buy
(and give) the gifts for the handful of people on my personal gift list during
the year when I find the perfect item.
But, to answer the question, and try not to sound like Scrooge, it will be a challenge to find things this holiday season – not just the latest "it" gift, but even Thanksgiving Day turkey and fixings. Between the global shipping crisis and labor shortages, stores are already struggling to stock their shelves (virtual and brick-and-mortar), plus many items will be significantly more expensive. And, probably fewer "real deals" on Black Friday.
In other words, shop early or risk disappointment.
Ask Red & Black
What does “black swan” mean?
June 02, 2023
sheep” means, as Black was the black sheep of the family, but I’ve
never heard the term “black swan.” But I’ll bet Black knows, as she’s always
reading and researching unusual things. |
Although it makes me wonder if it has anything to do with the movie "Black Swan," a psychological thriller about the intense and highly competitive world of ballet. It starred Natalie Portman (she won the Oscar for her performance) as a ballet dancer named Nina, who becomes obsessed with perfection after winning the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky’s "Swan Lake." But the more she strives for excellence, the greater the psychological and emotional challenges. And although it’s not one of my favorite movies, the performances and cinematography were outstanding.
in describing the movie, Red was very close to explaining the concept of “black swan,”
as the movie showed how Nina’s obsession blurred the line between reality and
fantasy, and how unpredictable (or improbable) events can change everything.
Recently, the phrase “world of black swans” was used in reference to the current banking situation and in the context of a world where unexpected events happen that have major implications/consequences, often disrupting the status quo and challenging our assumptions about the future. That makes you realize using traditional methods of predicting the future may no longer work. Or, at least, may require a greater emphasis on being prepared for the unexpected.
Ask Red & Black
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Do you have any traditions?
May 26, 2023
Last year Red “ran away” to New York for Memorial Day weekend, but since she was just in New York for Mother’s Day, she’s looking forward to her “usual” three-day week routine (see below). And Black? Some things never change, including how she celebrates holiday weekends …
One of the best things about holiday weekends is having an extra
“weekend” day, especially as most weekends are spent on personal things I can’t
get done during the week, so can be just as exhausting as the week itself. But I always try (but don’t always succeed)
to get some “
me time” by
escaping to my local
, even if it’s more for the popcorn than the movie.
This year, since I have some airfare credits that will expire, I’m going to take advantage of the extra day and visit my oldest friend (from 5 th grade!) who lives in New York. It’s strange being an empty-nester and taking a mini-vacation on my own. It seems like only yesterday, when my girls were much younger, that Black would take us (and her stepdaughters) to the Hyatt Hill Country in San Antonio, so I know that holiday weekends can provide lifelong memories!
|I love three-day weekends as instead of having two days when I can work uninterrupted, I have three. Some might think I need to get a life, but I have passion projects that bring me joy, so I am doing what makes me happy. And, I have a standing “appointment” at 3 p.m. every Memorial Day to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.|
It is important to remember that Memorial Day weekend is more than just a holiday weekend (and the “unofficial” start to summer). Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. A day to put aside politics and think about patriotism, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
|Growing up, I was aware of the Kentucky Derby because I’d watch golf every weekend with my dad, and there was always talk about it. We’d usually tune in just in time for the race, but we didn’t know much about thoroughbred horse racing, nor really cared to learn. Fast forward a few decades, and my love of movies made me see how dramatic and inspiring horse racing can be.|
In terms of the Kentucky Derby, the movie “Secretariat” captivated me with its truly extraordinary story of a horse that overcame the odds to not only become the first winner of the Triple Crown in 25 years but also to become one (and to many, the) greatest racehorses of all times. But my favorite horse racing movie is “Seabiscuit,” as it’s a story of perseverance and sheer determination that never ceases to amaze me. Seabiscuit never competed in the Kentucky Derby because it’s only open to three-year-olds, and he didn’t start his career until he was five, so I can only wonder how he would’ve done.
|There is much tradition associated with the Kentucky, yet I am always amused by all the “hoopla” around this historic sporting event, to the point where it seems as if the race is just a two-minute interruption from Kentucky Derby parties where people dress up and drink mint juleps. (Who knew a drink could have such a fascinating history?) |
And, people may disagree on the greatest Kentucky Derby winners. But, there is no denying there are many life lessons on display – never stop believing in ourselves (Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, never gave up on him, even when others doubted his potential), the importance of teamwork, working hard, overcoming adversity. However, Rich Strike, the surprise 2022 Kentucky Derby champion, who beat the odds (I have always found the most fascinating part of horse racing to be understanding the odds because it involves math and statistics), is the horse that really got me thinking …