Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday report

Pre-Friday plan is here.

I left my house at 4:45 a.m. as planned, and got to Jos. A. Bank at a couple of minutes before five. I was excited to see that there was no one ahead of me. I parked the car, and saw a window sign saying that the store would open at six. This conflicted with the information I was given by the nice lady at Bank's customer service department when I called before leaving home, but such is life.

Since I was up anyway, and in shopping mode, I drove about five miles to Sam's Club to snag the TV my wife had instructed me to get for her brother. I got to Sam's, got the TV, and headed to the cellphone department.

I am somewhat embarrassed to reveal this: I'm the most tech-ish of my family, but was still using a dumb phone (as opposed to a smart phone) and the 20-somethings in my family and office have been giving me lots of shit about it.

My Moto's battery has been getting weaker, and I've been toying with the idea of  making the transition into 21st century telecommunications.

The day before, I had seen a Sam's ad for the amazing Samsung "Captivate." I won't bore you with the features and specs now, but I'll just say that it's Samsung's response to the iPhone, and I quickly fell in love with it.

The screen is a bit bigger than the iPhone screen, and is sharp and bright. The Captivate is loaded with cool features, voice and camera quality are superb, and its Android operating system has attracted lots of app-makers. I was surprised and pleased to find it had a 3.5mm headset jack as well as Bluetooth. The jack lets me plug in a wired binaural headset for use in noisy environments, and the wired headset doesn't need to be recharged. You can read more here

Without a wireless service contract, the phone sells for as much as $799.99. However, by renewing my AT&T contract for two years (as I usually do) the price was just 96 cents! I could have gotten it for zero cents at RadioShack, or $499.99 (no contract) or $199.99 (two year contract) at AT&T.

I may have overpaid by 96 cents, or I may have saved $799.03. Either way, I'm not complaining. And I paid much less than AT&T would have charged me for a new iPhone.

One reason I was reluctant to move up to a smart phone is that I didn't want to increase my monthly cost by adding $15 or $25 for a data plan. My commute is about eight minutes, and I have computers at home and office, so I really have no need for mobile Internet access or email. I do have an iPad if I have an urge or reason to connect when travelling.

Since the data plan would essentially be a toy, not a business necessity, I had to find a way to justify the expense. I walked around my house and checked some bills, and discovered that I was paying for two TiVos, one XM radio and one Sirius radio that are never used. If I kill them, I can easily pay AT&T to move a bunch of bytes each month, and may even come out ahead.

Getting used to the new phone was not glitch-free. I missed a few calls because I could not figure out how to answer the calls. I learned how just in time for the fourth call, but I still don't know how to send email. The touch screen and virtual keyboard work like my iPad and iPod Touch, and I like it. Web access is fast, and Gmail comes in quickly. The screen is quite readable, and I can easily enlarge portions to make them more readable.

There were two pleasant surprises with the new phone:
  • The Sam's salesman said there is no way to transfer my speed-dial directory from the Moto to the Sammy. He was wrong. I moved the SIM card (a tiny card that stores data) from the old phone to the new one, and all of the old info was easily copied into the new phone. I edited the contact info to purge people and businesses who are now either dead or irrelevant.
  • The more important surprise is that the phone works on Wi-Fi, giving me free web access at home, office and many other places where either AT&T or Cablevision provide service -- including B&N, Starbuck's, street corners, railroad stations, parking lots and Mickey Dee's. Wi-Fi can be much faster than the phone's normal 3G data transport -- and it's FREE.
After leaving Sam's, I headed back to Jos. A. Bank. I got there a few minutes after six, and was the second person in the store. I had no trouble getting two camel's hair blazers at 75% off and three nice button-down shirts for $19.99 each (reg. $59.50).

My father owned clothing stores and his father was a shirt manufacturer. I was forced to wear a tie and jacket to high school. I modeled clothes when I was a young kid, sold menswear while in high school and college, and once had a collection of more than 150 ties.

Since the hippie-sixties, however, I've had little interest in "nice" clothes. My normal summer uniform is shorts and a T-shirt, and the rest of the year I wear jeans and a knit shirt with a collar. I'm a very informal guy, but there is something strangely appealing about a high-quality button-down oxford shirt and an expensive blazer that took me back to an era when I was more fashion-conscious. (I've also lost a lot of weight recently, and have more apparel options than in the previous decades.)

At this stage in my life, neckties are only for funerals and (some) weddings, however I think it will be cool to wear a $395 (reg. price) blazer and $59.50 (reg. price) shirt with the $13 jeans I get at Sam's. However, It's not likely that I will replace my Nike and New Balance sneakers with Bass Weejuns (do they still exist?).

After my sartorial enhancements, I headed to Staples. I quickly found the low-priced SD cards, software and batteries and filled my basket. When I saw the length of the line for the cashiers, I abandoned the basket, and went to visit my mother.

There are still deals to be done. Today I'll probably get some tools at Lowe's and more shirts at Jos. A. Bank, and maybe some candy and big cans of popcorn. I'll probably buy a book or two at B&N.

Tomorrow, of course is Cyber-Monday. I may place an order with my new Samsung phone. It seems appropriate.

I probably will still refuse to learn how to text. I just don't see the point of texting. If I have a phone, I can talk. If I want to send text, I use email.

I guess I'm to old to find joy in typing with my thumbs.


  1. Michael,

    I was with you every way on that shopping journey.

    You know what - you're too old to be 'new' and far too young in spirit to be 'old'. :-))

  2. The ubiquitous BW penny loafer is still alive and well:
    When I need to hurt my feet in the pursuit of conformity, I have a pair of H. S. Trask loafers that I got cheap from B A Mason. I'm also sneaky enough to wear a pair of all-blank New Balance walkers on "dress" occasions if I think I can get away with it.