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* ANOTHER MONTH: As mentioned here in the past, I've been more interested as of late with pulling in a little bit of money with supermarket coupons. It's not just the money, it's a fun little game, particularly because the technology of such has improved so greatly since I was a kid. I get a packet of coupons in the mail from the Kroger supermarket chain once a month; it took me a bit to notice that, in the packet, I'd get one coupon for a freebie, no purchase required. I let a coupon expire that could have saved me six bucks on Kroger's paper towels? Inexcusable.
And then the promotions started talking about "digital coupons". Say what? Do I print them out? Do I download to a smartphone? The first would be a nuisance, the second impossible, since I don't own a smartphone. No worries, I got into my Kroger online account -- another example of how the technology has changed in half a century -- to simply go through the coupon selections and click on the ones I wanted. They're automatically assigned to my Kroger club card, to be accounted for when I go through the checkout line. I've got into the habit of sorting through my little box of paper coupons each week before going to the supermarket; now I'll need to go through the online account as well.
There still remains the part of the game in determining whether the deal I'm being offered actually is a "deal". I'm fond of potato chips -- Lay's sour cream and cheddar being my favorite -- and I'll get promotions for a lower price if I buy two family-sized packages. That turns out to be still more expensive per unit weight than if I buy the party-size package, which is my habit. There's also the issue of how Krogers gives me such neatly-targeted coupons in the packet I get once a month, which means they're keeping close track of my purchases. However, that bothers me not at all, since I can't see what harm it does me, and it saves me a few bucks. I get such a good deal, it somewhat amazes me to think that it actually pays off for Kroger as well. The information they have on me is solid gold for them.
In another example of 21st-century supermarket technology, the store has shopping carts with plastic kiddie cars up front that two little ones can sit in to keep them out of trouble. That's nothing new, but I was surprised to see one such contraption with a tablet computer in the toy car dashboard, playing a cartoon video. I found that very ingenious; could they play games, too? I'll have to inspect one, if I can find one not in use.
Ah, the advance of civilization -- and no, that's not entirely meant as an irony. I really like going to the supermarket, not because there's so many marvelous things to buy there, but because I like to see the parents with their kids, who are often really cute. The kids are also very typically well-behaved, only infrequently making a fuss, though they do tend to run around without much awareness of traffic hazards. And then, occasionally I see some of the girls entering their teens who make me think: Future model or movie star. And then I pay them no more mind.
Incidentally, on seeing the shopping carts with tablets, I got to wondering if a case might be made for putting tablets on shopping carts in general -- possibly with some sort of RFID interface to keep track of the contents. The only difficulty is that theft of shopping carts is so common. Another idea I had was to fit up gym exercise equipment with tablets. Why not? They need some sort of control interface anyway, and it would be nice to watch videos over wi-fi, or run "screen-saver" type apps that, say, allowed the user to pretend to be in a road or air race.
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