Monthly Archives: May 2009

Quick Hits on deafness, Dowd and Donald

It’s been a crazy past few days in the world of Georgy, with events that I am still processing. In the meantime, here is some commentary on items that crossed my desk (or my RSS) in the past couple of days.

  • iPods can cause hearing damage! Now, as the commenters on this article argue, you can either say that this article gets written every 10 years for a different generation and is repetitive, or that it gets written every 10 years for a different generation and is a valuable reminder. But that doesn’t change the fact that the lead and headline are incorrect. iPods do not cause hearing damage; loud volume causes hearing damage. I know that iPods are becoming like Kleenex in that the brand is synonymous with the product (and, in some cases, just as disposable), but I don’t think we’re at that point of brand establishment yet with the iPod where an article like this doesn’t come off as confusing at best, misleading at worst. In addition, I’ll side with the commenters who feel that articles like this are not all that helpful.
  • Maureen Dowd caught plagiarizing! So, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who has been the subject of some disdain from many corners over the years, was caught lifting a paragraph in her May 17 column nearly wholesale from a blog post by Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall. Her explanation came swiftly, but also clunkily: it was a thought expressed by a friend of hers, and she wanted to weave it into her column. As Dan Kennedy tweets, “If MoDo is telling the truth, that’s the strangest goddamn way to write a column I’ve ever heard of.” He also raises the good point that at this moment, a decentralized mob of bloggers is laying the hammer down on her body of work, scouring it for duped passages and stolen phrases.

    The interesting thing here is the target. Josh Marshall is a blogger, yes, but he runs one of the most journalistically inclined blogs and news web sites out there. He’s also really, really popular, and TPM has not only become a mini media empire unto itself, but has some nice, MSM-approved hardware to show for that. Sure, there is some criticism of how he runs his operation, but the fact can’t be denied that in this age of evolving media, his model is something of a success story and is worthy of study, emulation and refinement. 

    That hardware? The George Polk Award? Was the first awarded to an online news organization. But in a sense, it was also awarded to his readership. Marshall and his staff of a half-dozen, give or take, are talented and hard-working, but it is really the loyal, tireless efforts of his readership — in scouring through public posted documents for incriminating bits, calling congressmen to get answers, sending in articesl from local coverage to fill in the blanks on a national story — that helped them win that award. It’s quite a machine, and it’s been put to good employ in a new model of journalism. The double-edged sword of this is that, with a prominent NY Times columnist accused of lifting a passage from Marshall and offering only a flimsy, if prompt, excuse as defense, that machine can now be put to the task of feeding Dowd’s entire career product through the wringer. Maybe they won’t find anything, maybe Dowd was lazy just this once and the rest of her columns, while of questionable quality, are original product. But maybe they will. If so, it will be undeniable that Dowd picked the wrong target.

    Some people say, why freak out over a paragraph? I won’t belabor the point, but in summary: the only thing journalism — online or off — has holding it up is its integrity, and if so much as a crack in that wall is left unattended, the consequences could be significant. We must be vigilant. It doesn’t mean ruining someone’s career or publicly vilifying them, but it means holding them accountable.

  • Donald Rumsfeld was fucking insane! Well, duh.

Planeteers at Work

The other night, I saw this flyer tacked up on a lightpole near my house:

It looks like some kids started a recycling awareness campaign. I found the typo very cute.

This morning, I saw some more flyers stapled to the trees leading the way to Broadway. This one had a geographically perplexing rendering of our fair planet:

Unfortunately, it looks like the campaign needs some of its own advice.

On Togetherness

Once, at my old job, I told a female co-worker I was going to New York for the weekend to visit a friend. This friend happened to be a single male, but he was also one of my best friends from college. I forget if Rick and I were just engaged or married at this point, but either way, the co-worker was aghast when she learned Rick was not going. “Rick doesn’t mind??” she asked incredulously. I was genuinely baffled. Um, no, why would he?

Even in high school, when Rick and I were dating, I got grief for this. Upon making an arrangement with my friend Sid to see, of all things, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” my grandmother sniffed around the situation and saw fit to interject, “Does Rick know about this?” I am not sure if I apprised him of my every move in his absence, but I didn’t see it as a problem either way then, either. Of all people — Sid, my human teddy bear during high school — and of all movies, I had no clue why this was a potential problem.

But for some people, it is. I think of the exchanges from “When Harry Met Sally” about the inherent challenge in men and women being friends.

Some people see a real concern with people in relationships hanging out with friends who are of their preferred gender and are either single or in another relationship. For some people, this is a recipe for disaster, a crucible for jealousy and suspicion. Such a setup, they fear, not only seems and feels inappropriate, but could actually result in something inappropriate happening! 

Recently, there was an article in the Globe about how some couples see no need for friendships outside of their marriage, and how some self-appointed arbiters (like the Oprah-approved “Shalom in the Home” rabbi Shmuley Boteach — what, is marital advice the new kashrut?) impose complex rules around how married persons’ friendships should be conducted (no late-night dinners, long drives or flights, and no lunches with alcohol).

You cannot place yourself in any situation where romance can grow. “Romance grows when people are alone; romance grows when people tell secrets,” Rabbi Shmuley says.

I’m sorry, “Rabbi Shmuley,” but you know where extra-marital romance grows? From intra-marital discord. From a lack of trust. From a lack of faith. If I begin having an affair, it’s not because I had lunch with John from the office and, oh no, he ordered wine and here we are at the motel. It would be because there are problems at home, problem with my marriage. And if those problems exist and are severe enough, it doesn’t matter if it’s lunch with a co-worker or dinner with a friend or any other scenario in the world, really — the shit is going to hit the fan one way or another. The problem isn’t having friends, or spending time with them in the non-Shmuley endorsed context; it’s having a weak marriage.

I am lucky enough to have a husband who understands that, if I do have lunch with John from the office and even if a glass of wine is consumed, it means absolutely nothing. I regularly get together for dinner with my friend David — a couple of weeks ago, we went out for Peruvian then got drinks and dessert at a nearby upscale bar — and I love those outings for the good company and quality conversation. Luckily, his wife and my husband are reasonable enough to understand that we are getting together as just friends and there is nothing more to it and nothing to worry about. The mere thought, to me, is preposterous

I’ve always had guys as friends, and granted, in middle and high school, those feelings of friendship often evolved into more romantic feelings. But isn’t the whole point of marriage that you’ve entered a binding partnership built on trust? If I don’t trust my husband to have dinner with a female friend — something that should be a relatively minor blip on the radar of potential marital concerns — aren’t there bigger problems? As the writer of the Globe article says, recent generations have been increasingly brought up in mixed-gender contexts: girls on the Little League team, mixed-gender classrooms. Is this not the era of the film “Made of Honor”? The author makes a good point about commitment — by entering into marriage, you have made a commitment. If that commitment begins to falter, it starts with an internal weakness, not an external temptation: the latter would be a symptom of the former.

My husband and I have always led fairly independent lives, perhaps owing to the fact that we’ve been together since  we were 16 and have had time to work out the whole separation anxiety thing — or maybe it’s just our nature. By this point, the distinctions are too muddied to draw a distinction. But either way, I think it works out great for us. Of course, the time we spend together going out and about, playing a game at home, watching a movie or whatnot is awesome and precious. But he can also go to conventions and take other trips I would have no interest in, and vice versa. We can take evenings to pursue our own interests without feeling like we have to drag the other person along disinterestedly. Even some of our together time is spent independently, sitting  side-by-side pursuing separate activities (usually him on the DS  or with some manga, and me with a book or the laptop) while a baseball game or the retro music channel plays in the background. 

But what I find is always one of the best parts of doing that is being able to come back home at the end of the day to him and share where I’ve been, what I’ve done, to listen to him talk excitedly about doing the things he loves. Just because we aren’t sharing every minute of each other’s lives doesn’t mean we aren’t sharing our lives with each other. And that, Shmuley, is what builds trust and keeps couples together.

Why Boston is cool, reason #67832

Go Cs!

Originally uploaded by radiofreegeorgy

ATA Cycle on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge was projecting the critical Game 5 between the Celtics and the Orlando Magic in its front window. The store was closed, no one else was around, but my friend Liz and I were walking home after dinner at the Border Cafe and paused for a few minutes to watch. What a swell treat. I particularly love the MST3K-style silhouettes of wheels on the screen. :-)

The Poet That Was

My poetry collection

Originally uploaded by radiofreegeorgy

Nowadays, my writing is focused on mainly journalistic endeavors — freelance newspaper articles, coverage of the university I work for, personal essay projects and of course this blog. I am pretty happy on this track and looking forward to further success along it. But if you asked 18-year-old me if she would like to be in this spot, she would likely recoil and shake her head. “Nuh-uh, no way.” Because, in my heart, I was a poet.

I have always been a writer. Whether it was short stories, essays for school, taglines and puns on the fly or for a project, you name it. I could write it all, and well. Since middle school, though, my energies had been focused on poetry. That could, of course, have had something to do with being a hyperemotive teenager. But there was more to it than that. For me, poetry wasn’t just a medium; it was a language, a fundamental way of understanding and translating the world around me.

Continue reading

A Boston After-Hours Excursion?

I saw a great post last week by Adam Pieniazek advocating a restoration of the late, great MBTA Night Owl late-night transit program as a premium-fare service targeted toward the 2AM crowd leaving the bars after last call. (Yes, for those of you reading from out of state, Boston’s public transit shuts down at 12:30AM-1AM, but the bars stay open until 2AM. You also can’t buy alcohol in grocery stores, and it’s probably illegal to hold hands with someone outside after 6PM, too) Then last night on Twitter, he pointed out another post by Whalehead King observing how the impositions posed by the lack of a late-night life in the city prompts people to stick close to the nest and not explore more.

These are not isolated complaints. For a long time, people have bemoaned the lack of late-night transportation service around the what is supposed to be, as Whalehead King points out, a world-class city. I found a site for a group calling itself the Late Transit Alliance, which includes a nice comparison  between public transit offerings in Boston versus other major American cities. I mean, come on, if sprawl-tastic cities like Miami and Houston see the value of offering late-night transit, can’t we?

These posts reminded me that I’ve wanted, for a long time, to take Boston on by storm one night, by night meaning post-midnight until the next morning, and patronize the few 24-hour activities there are. A preliminary list I made last year includes:

  • Dancing at various clubs (like, say, retro night at TT the Bear’s in Cambridge) until 2AM
  • Tasty Japanese food at Ginza Boston, open until 3:30AM
  • Boston Bowl! 24 hours a day! 
  • Breakfast at the South Street Diner (they have call-ahead reservations for parties of 3 or more from 1-5AM)
  • Second breakfast at Bova Bakery in the North End, open 24 hours.

Not to mention just the sheer joy of wandering the city streets in the middle of the night, seeing the sun rise over the waterfront… it really sounds delightful. There are some other resources that aggregate 24-hour destinations around the city — but am I missing anything else particularly cool?

With summer coming up, the weather will be ideal for such an excursion. I know I could get a couple of my friends on board, but I wonder if it would be worth pulling together a larger group to make the most out of what Boston has to offer in its off-hours. Not only for the safety-in-numbers element, but to rally people around the notion of Boston as a 24-hour city, show that there is some fun to be had in the wee hours around here, all while exposing the fact that traveling from Dorchester to the North End to Chinatown is an inconvenient and expensive proposition.

I think it’d be a fun night out. What do you think?

EDIT: It bears noting that the Globe did a version of this a few years ago. That said, I’d love to reprise it, this time with a point to prove. When the weather gets warmer, I plan to resurrect this idea and organize an event. Stay tuned!

One last thing: A former staffer did a really cool photo gallery a couple of years ago showing 24 hours in the life of Boston. Check it out.

M.O.M.’s Run 5K

MomsRunLogo_cureThis year, I seem to be running the same races I did last year as a novice runner. (In truth, my main criteria for a race is that it starts and ends in Davis Square, which automatically limits my options. ) So that makes this my second time doing the M.O.M.’s Run

Coming off of the alcohol-fueled insanity of the Ras na hEireann in March, the M.O.M’s Run is a welcome change of pace. The field is significantly smaller, it’s more of a family affair (duh, it takes place on Mother’s Day) and since it has a walkers’ portion, there is also a greater diversity of ability on hand. It’s a race for everyone. On top of everything, it’s for a good cause, inspired by longtime Somerville resident Mary O’Brien, who died of breast cancer in 2002 and proceeds benefiting breast cancer research.

There are a lot of nice things about the race. The race has a ton of sponsors who donate food and drink, so runners have plenty of snacks and water pre- and post-race (and I don’t mean just granola bars — Redbones donated pulls pork, Dunkin’ Donuts brings in boxes of sweet treats, pizza is on hand, yogurt and bananas for the more health-minded… a crazy spread). It’s also headquartered at the Dilboy VFW, which I have a strong affinity for since co-hosting a dance party there a year and a half ago. All in all, it’s a very Somerville race, which is something I can’t say for the Ras or the Jingle Bell Run, which though organized by the Somerville Striders usually end up feeling like a bunch of rowdy out-of-towners are loitering on my lawn.

I ran this year with my friend Chris, who is at a much higher level than I am but is relatively new to racing (not that I am some old pro, but hey). The course is different than the other three Davis Square races I have participated in, all of which use the same course. This one heads way out east before looping back, and it is pretty hilly. Last year, I ran a 37:55, which marked a 3+ minute improvement from the 41:18 I logged in my first 5K ever 2 months previously, though there was a lot of walking going on.  I’ve been doing well on my runs — on Wednesday, I ran a continuous 5.5 miles! — though I don’t do a lot of hills, nor do I do a lot of speed work. I was quite curious to see how this race would shape up.

It did not feel easy. The first mile was, well, a first mile — it’s always an effort to get going. But the second mile was absolutely terrible. My legs felt like they were made of lead, the sun and warmth had done a number on me before I made the turn to head back west and the hills were a big challenge. On top of all this, it was windy — 30mph+ gusts! — and my hat blew off twice (luckily, some friendly runners were nice enough to pick it up for me both times). 

I did not feel good about how I was doing. I convinced myself I was the pulling up the rear, but was too scared to look behind me and check. I tortured myself with the idea of shifting down to a walk. A bit after the second mile marker, though, as the race began its downhill descent toward the finish line, I got a second wind and was able to make up for some of my sluggishness between miles 1 and 2. As I approached the finish line, I was surprised to see I still had a chance to beat the 35:49 PR I logged at the Ras in March. And I did — by about 14 seconds :-) 

Chris beat me by about 45 minutes, because he’s awesome, and together we indulged in some free food. A half-banana, some macaroni salad, scrambled eggs and a donut — the breakfast of champions. And afterwards, for dessert, we played some catch! (It’s already time to get the old arm ready for softball.)

My only complaint is with the people who brought their jogging strollers. Now, like I said, one of the things I like about this race is how it’s a family-oriented event, and I applaud the moms taking their kids along for the ride. 99 percent of the time, all is well. But at one point, I felt something bump against the back of my ankles — it was the front wheel of one of those jogging strollers! I looked back, and the mom didn’t seem too penitent, and she soon passed me. But that really grated my cheese. What if I had fallen? If you’re going to run in a crowd with those things, watch where your front wheel is. If you can’t, don’t bring it to the race.

The more appalling stroller incident, however, was in the last downhill leg of the race. There was a man who was running with a jogging stroller for two. At one point, he releases his hands from the stroller — to do what, I have no idea — for five or so seconds, letting the stroller barrel on down the hill. Sure, he was inches away, but what if the stroller pitched forward, veered off oddly, or somehow caught speed and escaped his grasp? Maybe, for those who run with jogging strollers, this is no big deal, but it certainly caught my eye. 

Overall, though, it was an awesome experience. I’m already excited for the Somerville Homeless Coalition race, which combines some of a perks of the Ras (the thrill of a big crowd, a timing chip, a really cool long-sleeved tee) with a decidedly local feel and the knowledge that I am helping out a worthy cause. Last summer, I didn’t run at all, but this summer, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Don’t Get Your Panties in a Bunch


Did a little tassel-twirling ever hurt anyone? No, and I can attest to this. I have seen a few performances by the Boston Babydolls, the reigning burlesque troupe in town, and while at first you may feel slightly awkward watching some lovely ladies — including, maybe, a friend of yours — strut their stuff and shed their clothing, ultimately leaving nothing but some snazzy panties and pasties, that feeling soon dissipates. Once you settle in and realize what you’re witnessing — not a bawdy, tacky strip show, but a hilariously entertaining performance rich with narrative and verve — you forget your preconceptions. You don’t sit back and enjoy, though; you lean forward and wolf-whistle, cat-call and cheer those ladies on, bit by removed bit. 

I don’t expect everyone to share this enlightened point of view. But there are some out there who go so far as to fear the Boston Babydolls troupe is a breeding ground for debauchery, and that their very presence would draw the seediest elements of society out of the gutters and into the streets. And some of these folks live in Quincy, where the Babydolls have been trying for months to open a new dance studio.

The king fear-mongerer is Quincy Ward 6 city councilor Brian McNamee, who has derided the Babydolls’ attempt to open a studio in his town as “creating a Combat Zone in an immigrant neighborhood.” Consequently, the city has been giving the troupe the run-around with regard to permits and zoning. The meeting to determine the fate of the studio will be held May 19, with none other than McNamee himself presiding.

Why McNamee is picking this battle and playing on the paranoia of the ignorant is beyond me. But his fear campaign — which drew a nasty crowd to a public hearing the other night — has cost the troupe thousands of dollars in legal fees and months of delays in opening their facility. Apparently, an empty storefront and a sense of moral superiority is worth stymying the development of an arts community in a neighborhood that currently sports a liquor store, a tattoo parlor and a check-cashing business as its main attractions.

But the Babydolls aren’t going down without a fight. They’ve organized a benefit concert at the Cambridge Y on May 15 that will feature belly-dancers, hula-hoopers, sword-dancers — and, of course, the Babydolls themselves. Tickets are $15 in advance or whatever you can pay at the door.

Here’s the thing — spread the word about the show. Post about it. Tweet about it. Tell your friends. Post it on Facebook. Use smoke signals, semaphore, whatever. Can’t go, like me? Donate to the cause anyways. We can’t let ignorance and fear-mongering win out over a worthwhile artistic endeavor, and we can’t let a group of artists fighting the good fight get knocked to the ground. 

Follow the Babydolls on Twitter, check out their website or  fan them on Facebook to stay updated on the Quincy affair. And in the meantime, drop some dough in the hat at the show, or throw the troupe some bucks on PayPal to support the cause. Or you know what? You can just do it for the pasties. I don’t think anyone will mind.

A Reprieve, For Now

The Boston Globe will live another day. But can a 8.3% wage cut, a halt to 401(k) and pension contributions and looming layoffs be called good news? (As a sidenote, the lifetime job guarantees were ridiculous and I am glad to see them go; Wow, the union was really willing to sacrifice 2/3 of its membership for an outmoded perk enjoyed by just 1/3 of its base? I was also astonished to learn that the lifetime job guarantees were actually a concession the union made in 1994 in return for giving up a no-layoffs promise.)

So now we enter this interim, eerie period of calm before the storm, where we’ve taken lashes from the outer bands and are now in the quiet of the eye, while the real damage is yet to come. Layoffs seem inevitable, and while a sale seems likely, suitors are in short supply. The Guild will meet tonight to begin the ratification process, which could be contentious. I can only imagine the morale at Morrissey Boulevard.

Now, the Globe’s problems are not unique. Just yesterday, the Chicago Tribune union accepted a 9% pay cut. So, let’s look at the bigger picture, where there’s a long way to go. Just yesterday, Sen. John “It’s not just about the Globe” Kerry presided over a hearing at the subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, attended by a mix of leaders from the print and online media fields. If their testimony is any indication, the sides are still far apart when it comes to understanding what’s at stake and what the solutions are. The publisher of the Dallas Morning News essentially wants royalties from companies like Google that aggregate online news, and as “The Wire” and former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon put it, “The parasite is slowly killing the host.”

Please. If those are the points of view we’re trafficking in, than we’re a lot further from a solution that I thought. The newspaper industry can’t be writing off the value of bloggers and citizen journalism because it is scared of what those innovations may represent. It’s time to play catch-up. Newspapers need to swallow their pride and roll with the punches, adapt and thrive, rather than clinging to an outdated model. 

When Google VP Marissa Mayer testified on the value of services like Google News in driving traffic to newspaper sites, Kerry mentioned that online advertising revenues are not adequate to support a robust editing and reporting operation.

Mayer replied, “It’s still very early.” Kerry shook his head slightly. “It’s not early,” he said, for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and other newspapers that have stopped the presses.

Here’s what’s interesting about that exchange. Mayer has it right, on a long-term scale. The internet is still very young; we cannot possibly conceive of the way we will be interacting and browsing information ten years from now, much less how it will be monetized. Kerry’s sad shake of his craggy old head reflects the craggy old perspective of the newspaper industry he is holding hearings trying to save. It’s too late, yes, for papers like the Rocky Mountain News and the Post-Intelligencer, but it’s not like they didn’t have a chance. As purveyors of information, they conceivably should have been at the forefront of changes in that field. But that’s what happens when you get too closely tethered to a medium; you forget to innovate, to keep your eye on the horizon. I only hope that the information industry has learned its lesson and will have one ear to the ground going forward.

The exciting thing about this time period is that the ideas are flying. Turn newspapers into nonprofit institutions. Decentralize news-gathering structures. Paid content, no paid content. Go to the Kindle. Reduce print frequency.Focus on contextual storytelling (this article is a must-read, btw). Change pricing systems. Online first, online only. For the past few years, those immersed in these issues have already been holding a healthy debate about how to save the newspaper industry, but now that debate is starting to become more public. And that’s only going to make the debate more lively and more productive. And newspapers need to be a part of it — from stodgy executives to interns to columnists to beat reporters.

To that end, here are some interesting points of view I’ve come across in the past couple of days:

  • A blog for a UK-based communications firm covered a talk by Emily Bell, head of digital content for Guardian News and Media, on the topic of Journalism Ten Years From Now. Bell’s insights really resonated with me. She sees a value to the print medium, though not as the dominant conduit for news. The industry, she says, will need to start taking a more audience-based approach to how it disseminates its product, become less centralized and less top-down and more open and networked — just like the internet, where bloggers, Twitterers and other trusted power users are the new gatekeepers, and tools like RSS allow us to digest our news a la carte
  • Going back to the Globe, one of the biggest challenges (which Dan Kennedy appropriately points out) is how to stay afloat while you’re sinking — rather, how to remain a relevant journalistic organization while hemorrhaging talent and resources left and right? It’s a good, and very important, question.
  • Kennedy links to a blog I had not read before, George Snell’s High Talk, where Snell lays out some really great observations on things the Globe needs to do next: pow-wow with the new media braintrust, focus on news, rebuild relationships both internally and with its readership and, for the love of God, come up with a plan for the future! I’ve thought many of the same things.  All of this restructuring, purging and (in all likelihood) selling will be for naught unless the paper comes up with a plan to innovate, focus and grow.

So, yes, the Globe gets a reprieve, but I feel like the battle between the paper and the union is really just a skirmish in the Globe‘s larger war for its own survival.

My CVS Windfall

What a racket

Originally uploaded by radiofreegeorgy

I have a bunch of those little discount tabs on my keychain, including one for CVS and their ExtraBucks program. I always present my keyring tab when making a purchase but up until recently, I’ve more or less ignored the subsequent 10-foot long receipts I would get when purchasing a pack of gum at CVS. But lately, I decided to start paying attention.

While a lot of the coupons on those receipts are irrelevant — $3 off a bottle of Fibercon tablets! Buy one bottle of Coppertone, get one free! — there are some pretty nifty deals to be had. Look — in this pile alone, I have $11 of essentially free money, plus $4 off if I buy $20 or more. I get $4 just for giving them my e-mail address, whereby they will likely send me MORE discounts. In the end, I could buy $20 worth of products for $5. Imagine how much toilet paper and deodorant that will get me! Not to mention trial size bottles! *drool*

This is not the first time I’ve exploited these types of opportunities for my own financial gain. Back in the day, I scrounged up $1 bargain bin copies of Brendan Benson’s “One Mississippi” and sold them on eBay for $20-plus. I bought Salvation Army CDs for $2 and resold them for twice or three times that amount online. I took advantage of the completely ridiculous buy-back values Strawberries had for used CDs by bringing in the dregs of my collection and getting a pretty penny in return. Perhaps in this day and age, I will sate my inner deal-hound through CVS coupons rather than hip bargain bin CDs. I am OK with that. Either way, the cheapskate inside me is content.

So, yeah. I know that in the end, their profit margins are probably such that I am only enjoying the illusion of milking their system. I know that given the prices they charge for things and the large number of people who ignore the coupons entirely, it is not like I am taking this giant corporation for a ride (as I did with the folks who bought the bargain bin CDs on eBay). They’re gaining my loyalty and my business, which for them is a big win. But you know what? I don’t have to think about the big picture. I’ll take my coupons, redeem them and be happy. And who knows? Maybe I’ll use the money saved to buy some bargain-bin CDs. There could be deals in there, you know.