Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Sprawl

Is it just me or is the Christmas season starting sooner and sooner? Time was, the official start of the Christmas shopping season was the day after Thanksgiving. On that day, my mom and sisters and I would start early in the morning leaving our digestively recovering males behind and hit the malls and shopping centers for door busters and one-day sales.

Now you see Christmas decorations, pre-lit trees, wrapping paper, gift tags, gift bags, ornaments, greeting cards, candy, and gigantic blow-up lawn creatures even before Halloween is over. Does anyone really buy these things that far in advance? I guess marketers are telling us that we must, so we do.

The trouble with this forward creeping Christmas season? My five-year-old has been asking how long until he can open his as yet non-existent presents since he spied the first 8-foot snow globe blaring "Jingle-Bells" at Walmart back on October 15th.

It's going to be a long season.

there is no
the end

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Very Foolish Caterpillar

What would Darwin have to say about this creature who's about to eat through the leaf he is standing on? Lucky for him (or not), he's been captured by my children who are attempting for the third time to observe the miraculous metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. What I have learned from this experience is, I prefer the whimsical, poop-free, Eric Carle version.

The first time they attempted to observe this, we bought a kit complete with a tented butterfly cage, fake plastic flowers, and a little card you could mail in and receive a cup full of caterpillars in return. The problem was, the bottom of the tent never secured properly and we ended up with butterflies flying around the house. Pretty as their wings may be, I do not approve of insects flying at will in the place where I eat and sleep. So we set them free - after which the unpredictable Omaha Spring weather promptly dropped to 40 degrees. (That's the epilogue Carle never published.)

The second attempt involved a single caterpillar caught on the backyard crown-flower tree which is a favorite food of Monarch larvae. He was put in a store bought insect cage with plenty of fodder and he eventually made a chrysalis. But when he emerged, his wings never fully extended and their deformed shape prevented him from flying. We set him free in the backyard thinking the fresh air would encourage proper wing formation, and he was promptly eaten by a Myna bird (who promptly died because Monarchs are poisonous - ah, the circle of death).

This time we ditched all cages and tents and made an attractive arrangement of crown-flower sprigs in a vase and each leaf had a tiny caterpillar on it. I would add new branches when they needed more food and their green pellet poop rained down like a hail storm all over the shoe shelf. They chomped away, never straying from their food source although we had a couple Darwin-award winning appetite choices which landed creepers on the floor. One which I accidently stepped on and will now have to be added to my list of grossest things I done in my life. (Imagine stepping on a goo-filled gummy bear.)
Now I have chrysalises forming on my window as the glutted caterpillars seek something stable to attach to while they do their amazing transforming act. Third time's a charm? We'll see.... more...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

City Mouse Country Mouse

I realize that I am living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Not many places can compare to Alaska with it's beautiful mountains,forests, and Aurora Borealis. People move here from all over the world. They come to hike. They hike the mountains, they scale the rocks, they hike the glaciers, they eat cliff bars and shop at REI, they join cross country skiing clubs,they do not wear makeup, they drive jeeps or Subarus with racks on top. They live for the outdoors and tell stories of hiking McKinley or windsurfing in frigid waters, or of bear encounters while camping, they bag their own feces and pack it out. Get the picture?

I work at the Center for the performing Arts in ticketing and get paid squat, but I see the shows for free. Sometimes I stand backstage and watch from behind the curtain while a jazz musician plays the trumpet to a full house and I can feel my soul. I'll watch just about any show that rolls into town. We don't get much, Alaska seems to be the last stop as a shows popularity winds down around other parts of the country. I don't care. I watch operas, modern dance, ballet, jazz, symphonies, pianists, Irish folk music, and just about anything else.

Give me New York with all of it's noise and bustle and people everywhere who look different and speak different. Give me a place where I am at the top of the food chain and have no worries of being trampled by a moose or devoured by a bear who according to experts doesn't WANT to eat people. Throw a boa around my neck, take me out to a show and let's laugh all night.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Social Networking and Your Potential Employer

On that same note Ray....

You may want to remove "cheating, stealing, embezzling" from your list of favorite hobbies on your MySpace/Facebook account considering that potential employers may be checking you out. Your profile picture of you gripping a liquor bottle, eyes glazed over might just send the wrong impression.

Really folks, just the fact that you have a MySpace/Facebook almost sends the impression that you are in fact a teenager (in your head). You're already screwed, so you might as well add the newest Puff Daddy song to autoplay on your page... you know you want to.

P.S. I need one more facebook friend to make 60 so if you don't mind.....
we don't have to talk or anything

there no
the end

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Inner Adolescent

This week I embarked upon the strange world of modern, teenage "communication" by creating my own facebook page. I could just feel the adolescent acne and enthusiasm for Bon Jovi oozing back into my being. First I created a profile - little factoids about me, uploaded a picture of myself.... then what? I sat there wondering what my "status" and "wall" were. Then, all of a sudden, by no doing of my own, my 20-something cousin, from San Jose that I haven't seen in years was chatting with me. Like a young child leading an old blind woman, he taught me how to "update my status", "request friends", how to "poke" someone, and of course, how to write on someone's wall. What I didn't learn was, what is the point of it all?

Communication has rapidly degenerated, inversely proportionate to the development of technology. Email took the individuality of handwriting and doodles out of snail mail. Texting took inflection, tone, and proper grammar out of phone calls. And now we have facebook that takes interaction to an all new low where you simply write words into the cyber breeze and people may or may not respond. And when actual words are too hard to come up with, you can send a virtual poke, hug, chest bump, tickle or drop kick.

So why join the digital non-gab? For one thing, it gives your self-esteem a boost every time you log in and five more people want to be your friend. Of course most friends just sit in your friend collection without ever interacting, like a box of action figures or a pile of stuffed animals. Others may share virtual activities with you like going to a movie, going shopping, playing a game of virtual dodgeball, or they can even give you a virtual gift. It's like having an imaginary friend who talks back, sort of. And while it is great to reconnect with old friends from highschool and beyond, after an initial burst of curiosity about marital status, location, and number of offspring, you are reminded of why you never really bothered to keep in touch with this person all these years. And back to the stuffed animal pile they go.

Well, I shall continue to keep my facebook account for the time being. I shall update my status that only refers to me in the third person and occasionally write on my virtual friends' virtual walls. I do enjoy sharing and seeing photos. But I'm not sure the connecting benefits outweigh the addictive hours spent poking and jabbing virtual friends as a form of communication that is just that - a virtual illusion.

Friday, November 7, 2008

You Might Be A SAHM If...

You use an assignment to bring a veggie tray to get attention and gain notoriety among the class moms.

there is no
the end

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Did it My Way

The end is near and now we face the final curtains my friends. But the question remains, what will we do with ourselves now ? What will fill the empty hours once filled with calls from electronic political machines, completely void of any human warmth? What is left to possibly debate about with our family , friends, coworkers , and the random psychotic lady at the grocery store? What will take the place of the soul warming political ads on television that we so eagerly anticipated with our bowls of ice cream every evening.

My dear bloggers we must move forward and carry on, it's time to let go, to talk of other things. Soon we will learn again what it is like to be comfortable in the presence of others, even if we don't know their political affiliations, but fear not for in four years time, again we will experience the stress and intestinal turmoil that elections bring.

Happy Elections Day
Love Ambie and Ray

the end

D-V-Don't and V-H-Yes

The evolution of technology is similar to the evoloution of organisms. Either the new species flourishes and the old one dies off, the new one dies off and the old one remains, or the two live side by side in a new balance and harmony. CDs have definitely taken the place of cassette tapes but MDs failed to take the place of CDs. Pianos replaced harpsichords but live alongside keyboards. It is nature's way.

But we humans just can't seem to keep our itchy fingers out of the way. We choose one species over another, and sometimes, one technology over another. And the results aren't necessarily for the best.

Such is the case with DVDs and VHSs. Yes, DVDs are the more advanced form of media distribution, but a niche remains for VHSs, yet they have been forceably removed from the technological gene pool.

It's no secret that my children are hard on things, and movies are no different. I have a pile of DVDs that are no longer in working condition because of sticky fingers and crumby floors, yet I had to pay more for them. On the other hand, I've had VHS cases crack and lose pieces and once I even scotch taped a pulled out and broken reel and they still work! Durability is way more important to me than seeing SpongeBob in high-def clarity.

Distributors like Costco and Walmart switched to exclusively selling DVDs not because of decreased demand for VHSs, but to minimize inventory and increase profit margins since DVDs are cheaper to make and more can be charged for them. Meanwhile, with the death of my VCR (does anyone even know what that is anymore?) I'm left in this peculiar paradox of having working movies and nothing to play them on and scratched and broken movie discs with working DVD players.

I guess we'll have to read, go outside and play, or talk to eachother for entertainment.