151207 Turn Down the Volume
Yesterday at work, the Jewish Missionaries came into my cafe. More than once, actually.
These are kids, but they're dressed up grey or black suits. No tie. Yes big black fedora.
"Did you know what today is?" he asks me.
"No idea. What is today?" I reply.
"Today is Erev Chanukah. Tonight is we light the first candle. Here, take this." He gives me a bag with a minorah and little introduction to the holiday in a booklet.
So I've been thinking. Here in Canada, do we have to remind anyone (Jewish, Native, Atheist) exactly when 'the night before xmas' is? No, everyone knows.
But here, more than once, perhaps all afternoon, these kids were locating us people who didn't know it was Chanukah. Yes, Us-- I had my eyes open after they met with me, and I served perhaps ten guys and two women carrying the bag of minorah.
One customer confessed, "I'm so glad they told me. I just don't keep track."
November and December are always very hard for me. This year, at least, so far this year, my supervisors understand, and have kept the volume on our sound system low. There was only one night where they cranked it up loud. What is worse, is that one of the girls who was singing was clearly atonal or tone deaf, or something.
Chanukah I forget. But I remember her 'singing' "Five! Gold! Rings!"
For years I've told people that I am The Grinch. That's a reference to Dr Seuss' story about the quintessential green man who hates xmas. He develops an enlarged heart at the end of the story.
I've been such a man. But this year, after thinking about things, and after getting the five different Lubavitch Missionaries in the store, I have a new position.
It's just the loud xmas music everywhere. As The Grinch says in his story, "and the noise, noise, noise!"
I have to admit I don't like noise, noise, noise. I've been turning off the water people leave running around the store just because the sound gets to me. I can hear the noise much better than the guests I need to help out.
But that's not the actual problem here.
There is a pressure from the ever-present music to celebrate something I am not interested in. The music is a slow torture, meant to change my attitude. It's so hard to escape it.
Starbucks was in the news recently, when Trump suggested people boycott Stx because their cups were plain red, without other holiday decor. He suggested people choose Merry Xmas as their name, so people would call it out when the drink was ready.
We'd all recognize it happening if there were loud horns sounding, calling us to prayer. Instead there are loud horns sounding, calling us to shop, to buy presents for everyone.
In Canada, the celebration of Black Friday is new. It is gaining much popularity mind you. If you don't already know, it is the first Friday after American Thanksgiving. I think (I'm not certain) US Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday.
I forget Chanukah, but didn't miss Black Friday. I called my parents, and asked them how things were.
"Don't go!" Dad says. "There is no parking anywhere."
Instead, I fired up my computer, and went to www.bestbuy.ca where I went looking for a cheap terabyte hard drive. I found one! It was 5T, a Western Digital My Book. With tax, delivery, everything, it was $184.
As soon as I finished the purchase, my computer showed signs of infection. Avast, my anti-virus, was jammed by it. It stopped running properly, and would no longer update, giving me some kind of 'no room on hard drive' message. I have 100GB free.
And when I called up Spybot Search and Destroy, I had to keep restarting the computer. This was a very smart bug.
It's not a virus. It didn't seem to try to infect any of my friends or email list, as far as I can tell. It just didn't want to be erased, and wanted to see what I do on the computer.
I went to the Mozilla Forum. The moderator would not post my request for help.
After much reading through lists of Best Buy stuff, I started seeing others posting about this.
Hey, the only reason I became aware of the problem is because my internet is slow, and my computer is also slow. The java script they left running on Firefox would stall, and it told me so. I really wanted to find out where my Firefox stores startup commands, so I could personally find out where the bad guys infected me.
Someone advised that I refresh Firefox. Eeep, when I did that, it changed everything, and lost all of my personal settings. Oh, and it didn't get the problem right away!
Someone else advised that I bite the bullet, and update my Avast antivirus to the new program. I did that. Gawd, my computer, when not doing anything, was running at 60% CPU usage. I had to uninstall Avast.
Since then I went to oldversion.com, and found an Avast, version 5.0 something, and now my computer idles at 3% or less. And it let me download the recent virus definition files.
If you were to visit my home, you would notice much congestion, and many strings of LED lights. I like how they are cold to the touch, and yet, our place is always lit up. For you they may be xmas lights, and for others they may be chanukah candles. For me, they are cheap cold light.
I am reminded of an Old Star Trek episode, where our heroes visit a religious world. The secret heretics have forbidden technology: cold lighting panels! A computer decides when the whole world should celebrate. "Festival! Festival!" All of the believers look like American Russellites, all wearing suits, all walking around slowly. "Do you know the love of Landrew?"
Yes, and Cap'n Kirk goes in, and destroys Xmas for the whole country.
I don't need a Captain Kirk. And I don't want someone dressed as Jesus Christ to bring a bullwhip inside all of the stores, chasing out the evil money changers.
I don't hate xmas. Just turn down the volume, please.
2015 is upon us.