Look what I bought with green stamps

Here’s something that will date me. I remember my mother saving up S&H green stamps. They were these generic postage stamps you got from certain grocery stores. You’d lick them and put them into a book. When the book was full, you’d start another book. Fill up enough books and you could get a blender or a colander or an egg timer or something. There was this catalog you could page through and determine how many books were needed to get what you wanted. I can’t even remember what we got for them. Living in Chicagoland area as I did, you could drive right down to the S&H redemption center and get a little instant gratification. Wow. A new double boiler!

See the picture on the green stamp books? Such the epitome of the great American middle class family. Dad with his skinny tie and pocket protector. The two kids eagerly helping out. Can’t remember if my mom wore pearls and earrings while filling her green stamps books. I’m thinking… no.

Well, I got me a toy with the 2011 equivalent of green stamps: credit card points. Yep, I cashed in a hard-earned 35,000+ points and filled up 15 books. Well, it turns out that when redeeming around 6 years of PNC credit card points, the largest Apple gift card denomination is $50. So, I got me 15 $50 gift cards. (And I’ve still got like 18,000 left over!) Fifteen 50$ gifts cards. Yeah, I’m pretty sure the Apple Store sales hipster was really pleased with me. I was like a little old lady paying for a movie ticket from her change purse.

Do you remember that feeling of getting a new toy you were really excited about? Not a present. Presents were nice but they were generally things that somebody else wanted you want to have. A new toy was that something you either had to tell someone else you wanted or that you saved up your allowance or lawn mowing money to buy yourself. A model airplane. A board game. Sports equipment. A remote-controlled boat. New track and racing cars for Hot Wheels. Baseball cards. Record albums. It was that thing you thought about the day before you got it. The days leading up to getting it, you couldn’t think about much else. On your way to pick it up, you kept telling yourself that it was no big deal. Then, walking out of the store, you couldn’t help yourself, you started chipping away at the packaging even though you knew you couldn’t use it until you got home. (Okay, the baseball cards were ripped apart and openly traded in the convenience store parking lot.) For all other purchases, however, you quickly bypassed any instructions and spent several hours intently fooling around with the new item until you finally grew tired of it. Cycle complete. But that’s the way guy were–and still are–with our toys. Today, they are just more expensive.

Women don’t seem to be the same way with this. Maybe with clothes or shoes or purses. I don’t think I’m being sexist. I’ve watched my wife. She is neither a fashionista nor a frequent shopper, but when she sets her mind to it, I can’t believe how much she connects to clothing or shoes or purses. As I do with my toy, when she gets home, she tries on her purchases and stands before a full-length mirror. Me? I buy clothes like I buy food. I spent as little time in the store as humanly possible. I plan the shortest route through the store’s sections. I only try it on if I’m really not sure. At home, the purchase usually remains in the bag until I need to actually wear it. There’s no enjoyment in this process. It’s simply maintenance, like flossing, shaving, and nail clipping. Just git ‘er done. But I digress.

As I think I’ve stated before, I do not consider myself to be an early adopter. I have never been the first one on the block to get anything. Even growing up, my family seemed be one of the last ones around to get color TV, a microwave, a VCR, cable TV. We weren’t cheap. We were simply conservative and non-technical. We weren’t gadget geeks. We let everybody else spend big money to work out the kinks in new technology. We waited several years for the bugs to get fixed and the prices to fall. It helped that I usually hung out with poor souls whose families were even slower on the draw. My friend Andy grew up in an extremely religious and conservative family. They were allowed very few of the perks in life. When I got this Intellivision Game console, he thought I was Donald freakin’ Trump. We played prehistoric video games of football, hockey, and pong on it. The handsets were like little calculators. Here was what the screen looked like.

Now, it seems uncomfortably sexual in some way, but it was state-of-the-art in its day. We thought it was awesome. We wore that game out!

Things haven’t really changed. It used to be that when new technology came our, my mantra was: “I am SO going to have that in 4 or 5 years.” Now, I’m fairly pleased to admit that I have shortened that time frame considerably, down to 1 or 2 years.

With all of that exposition out of the way, I am pleased to announce that I am now the proud owner of an iPad. I was not a strong believer in this product for quite some time. When it first came out, it seemed like Apple was behaving a bit like Taco Bell. You know, take the same ingredients, rearrange them, and make up a new name for it, like gordita or chalupa… or iPad. It seemed to be either a lap top that could not do documents or a large iPhone that could not make calls or take pictures. Basically, you were paying $800 for a Web browser that played some games. Well, then they added a camera–video and still–front and back. Then more and more helpful apps emerged. Then I got an iPhone. It was really just a matter of time. I still wouldn’t own one if it weren’t for all those credit card points, but look what I have.

So, here it is. Just as some people read Playboy for the articles, I truly got this to use it for a new business venture. I will try to use it as a sales tool that can access pictures, catalogs, presentations, and someday, for order entry. But until then, it has delivered all the enjoyment that getting toys at a kid did back in the day. I know I’ve only brushed the surface of what it can do. But it’s the figuring it out that is half the fun. (click on following pics to enlarge)

Here is a photo of pigs my aunt took at a farm near her home. Adorable. There might be screens with higher resolution out there, but when all you’re used to is an iPhone, photos look incredible on it.I still think that I’ll prefer reading books on my Kindle. First, I think the white screen glare will wear on my eyes and make me read less. Second, Kindles are much smaller and lighter to hold. And third, you don’t have to worry about screen reflection or reading in the sun. It’s nice to know, however, that with the Kindle app, I can read all of my purchases on both items and it miraculously keeps my page marked as I switch between readers.

For iPad reading, however, this baby was made for comic books. I was never really a comic book guy. My reading of them as a kid was pretty much limited to my dentist’s waiting room. And most of those were stupid Archie and Richie Rich titles. But with the free Marvel app, I could see becoming a fan. I have a ninety-minute flight tonight and I think I will spend most of it in this Captain America book that was free to download. I know, $800 is a little steep for a comic book reader. But I bought it with green stamps, so get off me!

This poorly photographed screenshot is of an app called Zite. I’m a big fan, so far. It is a news generator, but mostly articles from magazines and Websites. You put in your interests and it presents articles it thinks you will like. As you use it and read, the app learns more about you and makes better suggestions as to what you might like. Slightly creepy, but also slightly cool.

As for blogging, there are some feeder apps that tell me as soon as my favorite blogs have new posts. It lists them all chronologically on one screen. But they seem to be a rough transition to iPad. They don’t look exactly like they do on the computer; you can’t always see pictures and videos; and you can only read, not comment. Of course, you can just go to the browser and type in the url’s. Also, it doesn’t seem to be very nimble in creating decent posts. But I haven’t truly given it the college try.

Of course, a major downside to iPads is their inability to run certain video formats. I’m no expert, but it seems to struggle with flash technology. There may be others, as well. There is a $2 app that is supposed to be able to recode them for iPad when you are near your host computer but it sounds a bit clunky. We’ll see. So far, it has only limited me from seeing a few Huffington Post videos and Bluz Dude’s comedy routine, which I caught at home. (It was stellar, but I didn’t appreciate the two drink minimum.)

So, I’ll keep playing and updating. I’ll be in Chicago this weekend to spend time with friends and for my semi-annual pilgrimage to Wrigley Field to see Saturday’s Pirates/Cubs Suckitude Bowl 2011. There should be enough suckage in that park to pull small satellites out of orbit. I shall try to blog from the road on my new toy. We’ll see how that goes.

Happy Labor Day! Happy return of football! Happy , happy.

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About carpetbagger

Tom and Jean are just a couple of Chicago transplants in Lawrenceville, a neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Posted on September 2, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wow, Bagger, I am impressed! Rich and I laugh often about how I have brought him kicking and screaming into the new century with all kinds of gadgets. It is so much fun, isn’t it? I love my DROID and that suffices for me. It tucks neatly into my purse and I can access the blog, internet, mail, etc. We both have a NOOK, very similar to Kindle but since we used to buy books from B&N, we decided to buy their product. I never thought Rich would like it, but he really does.

    Have a great trip. Happy Labor Day, and Happy football!

  2. Wow, there’s some kind of cousin-like synergy happening here – I bought an iPad this week as well – a sporty white one, 16 GB, WiFi. I like the stripped down sports models, ya know?

    Like you, I bought it for “work purposes” – as a leader in a big digital marketing agency, I got sick of the 20-something coming into meetings to talk about mobile marketing for clients and trotting their iPads into the room with me saying “um, can I borrow that for a minute?” So, it was time to ante up and buy one of the damn things.

    So far, so good – I love it. The single best experience you can have on an iPad is Wired Magazine’s app which you then download HUGE files (300-400GB) of the magazines – suffice to say, you don’t keep them on your iPad after you read them. Chuck them out like an old magazine. But, it’s just stunning, it both reads like the magazine but delivers that magazine on crack, with a double-shot espresso and a side of speed. Insanity. Open it and pictures move. Click icons and rich media comes out – videos, moving infographics, etc. Now that is some badass media experiences.

    Still learning to type on it, therefore, this note is written on a luddite keyboard on my fossilized laptop, but all in due time. I’m at the point where I CAN bang out a sentence on the glass pad in a few seconds more than with a regular keyboard.

    But … enjoy! Much fun in those things!

  3. This just goes to show that we are even more alike than I previously suspected.

    We used to do the stamp thing too, only ours were the yellow stamps. Worked the same way though. I was my job to collect the stamps and catalog them in the books. I remember doing a lot of collecting… I don’t remember anything about redeeming them though. I figure, my parents probably cashed them in for booze.

    I am also a late adopter as well, hence not acquiring a cell phone until 2006. (Which I still have, meaning it’s not really good for anything but making calls and snapping tiny little pictures.

    I’m glad you finally got to come down to the Comedy Cave… otherwise, I’d have come to your house and performed the joke for you in person. Have fun in Chi-town, and say ‘hi’ to Glenn Ellyn for me…

    • I had breakfast at Glen Oak restaurant on Monday morning. Then drove thru town. Schmidt’s Drug store on Pennsylvania is closing after 44 years. (Was the original McChesney and Miller’s if you go way back.) Now, of course, a sushi bar has opened on Main Street. Part of the inevitable Napervillization of Glen Ellyn. I’m told that the Glenbard West / Wheaton Warrenville football game was on ESPN couple of weeks ago. Who knew?

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