Friday, April 29, 2011

Friend or Foe?

 Let’s say you’re drinking a steaming hot cup of coffee or tea, and enjoying lots of laughs, but wasting tons of time.  Does it sound like you’re spending time with a friend or foe? Perhaps it depends on what you think a good laugh is worth and how you value your time.  Lots of people post videos on YouTube but I bet they’re split about whether YouTube is a friend or foe.   
As a child, a certain show became a part of my morning routine.  My parents left for work early, so there was only an ole sailor who almost seemed like a buddy to share the morning with me.  On his show, he always offered a taste of reality (actual animal guests, I think) and fantasy, in the form of cartoons.  He wanted you to send in your pictures, and if you did, they might appear on television.  Does anyone remember dear old Captain Noah?  See if this video brings back memories.  Warning: the song may become stuck in your head!

Yup, he’s still out there in video land, along with all of the other long-forgotten shows and, because of YouTube, my children can see the shows that I watched growing up.  How else can you expose today’s youth to the TV “culture” of the past?  It wasn’t all bad, but then came the show that redefined the term “bad television.” I’m talking about the wacky fore-runner of American Idol but, I bet very few of those folks made it to Hollywood.  Watch how the show’s judges and host entertained the audience between contestants:

I admit that there is definitely some garbage on YouTube, but there are also some real gems out there, too.  It takes a bit of poking around to find the great videos and as you can see by my posts, I do like the visual element videos add to a story.  A picture is worth ten thousand words.  So, in response to the original question, YouTube: Friend or Foe?  Let’s just say when I plop down at my computer with a cup of tea, I should keep an egg timer alongside me.
Different friends meet different needs in our lives.  Some offer wisdom, while others provide laughs. Who is your best friend and how does he or she enhance the relationship?      

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Can’t Handle the Soul!

Kia Soul, that is.   I don’t know if we’re ready for those cute, little fuel-efficient cars.  There are two-seaters and four-seaters, both should save us money at pump, but I wonder when all of us will switch to the teeny, tiny car.  We’re a country of Hummers, Cadillacs and limos, on special occasions.  Can you see yourself and your family in a much smaller car?  If you have a sizable family or a few extra folks to transport, I predict there’s going to be a space problem. 
Manufacturers may need to bump up the towing capacity so that I can attach a cargo trailer to my vehicle, should I decide to purchase a tiny car.  Even now, I find it hard to leave my two-ton purse behind.  It includes tissues for messy sneezes, my ancient cell phone, coupons, hand sanitizer, lotion—the list is endless!  I also have room for an umbrella, if needed.  My vehicle is not much different—more tissues, spectator chairs for sports, books, my wedding dress (long story) and, of course to be fully prepared, I drive around with several jackets and coats per child.   
I feel that a roomy vehicle is a necessity.  I’m sure it’s just me, but occasionally when I see a little car in traffic, I expect to see one pulled alongside of the road with a parade of passengers sporting red noses and floppy shoes tumbling out.  Obviously, I need a new perspective on the smaller fuel-saving cars.  I believe that change is coming, just like the possibility of steeper gas prices.  Will costs go as high as five dollars a gallon?  Are you feeling like a hostage of the oil industry yet?   
Here’s a video that may offer you confidence in the technology of the future. 

If I can get horsepower and save money, perhaps I’ll sacrifice storage space and keep the kids coats elsewhere.  Maybe, in addition to the Scions, Cubes and MINIs, a sixty-battery electric car is the way to go!
I believe we have difficulty switching to a tiny car because we equate the kind of car we drive with how we want others to perceive us.   Perhaps we behave as though our vehicle is a tangible representation of our status. Barring temporary things like cars, houses and a career, what makes you feel successful in life?  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pillow Talk

Pillows—mounds of them certainly make a bed look more comfy.   I wandered through our house and found that we have over twenty pillows, and that’s just in the bedrooms.  Is that too many?  Whose idea was it to decorate a bed with rows of pillows, anyway? Did interior designers and pillow manufacturers conspire to make a fortune with the pillows-on-the-bed trend?  Some people really get into it and, at some point, it changes from simple decoration to a collection.  Mountains of pillows taking over the bed remind me of the Beanie Babies phenomenon.  Did you own any? There are adults who were crazy about them.  You knew it because those colorful, animal-shaped bean bags filled up their dining room china cabinets and graced their fireplace mantels.  The serious collectors had beanie faces staring out of the living room window like greeters welcoming you into the house.   
Alas, I digress. That’s a post for another time.  Let’s get back to the bedroom.  In the evening, our decorative pillows are neatly stacked into a nearby pile and come morning, they’re lovingly rearranged on our bed—day after day after day.  I don’t think my husband sees the point of this routine, but he humors me.
Check out this video of someone else who has pillow questions:

Whew! This makes our twenty-three pillows seem like nothing!  By the way, is that lady snooping? She sounds like she’s using her I’m-not-supposed-to-be-doing-this voice.  Then again, the boy’s room was picture-perfect, maybe he tidied up just for us.  That boy had a bunch of pillows! 
More than seven pillows on a bed seems excessive, until you consider my theory.  Maybe pillows are our attempt to have a personal sanctuary by creating a comforting environment that whispers security.  In a culture overflowing with busy schedules, a shaky economy and sky-rocketing unemployment, a mountain of pillows on a bed says, “You’re all right and everything is under control.”  If multiple bed pillows aren’t your thing, what offers you peace and a sense of contentment?  Is it your favorite lounge chair, a heaping portion of mac and cheese, a hug from someone special, or is it something else?              

Friday, April 8, 2011

It’s Not Dr. Seuss: Green Hair and Harm

When I lived in New York City, it wasn’t unusual to see people with blue, purple or green hair.   In fact, odds are in a city with over eight million people, you’re bound to see a wide assortment of hairstyles and hair colors.  One day in NYC, as I waited for a bus, a man strolled by wearing nothing but a pair of underwear briefs.  No heads turned and traffic kept right on flowing.  I was surprised that no one seemed affected by him.  Apparently, “different” is a relative term; your definition will vary from someone else’s definition depending upon your exposure to “different” and your spectrum of “normal.” Check out this video that features a woman with a unique sense of style.  If you cover your eyes and listen to her describe her job, you’ll find that she’s not much different from you or people you know.

I think the video speaks for itself.  As a child, were you ever chastised for staring at or devaluing people who seemed different?  Do you remember to remind your children and other family members to be respectful of others? How did we get to a place in society where one person or group thinks it’s acceptable to tease or assault others simply because of perceived differences?  In the words of a famous Californian, “Can’t we all just get along?”  I’m curious about the social psychology related to minimizing others and disrespecting differences.  Why do we mistreat one another?  Lots of unanswered questions today.  
In your opinion, what issues within us or within our culture contribute to ongoing social intolerance?                

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Joining the Secret Club?

Whenever I’m riding around town, I often enjoy reading other driver’s bumper stickers.  My theory is that there’s a correlation between a driver’s personality and the type of items they display on their car.  
Recently, I’ve noticed a new type of bumper sticker.  It used to be easy to read stickers from a slight distance, but things have changed. Riddle me this: How did the trend toward the three-letter bumper sticker originate? I know that you’ve seen them. Quite often, I don’t know what the letters represent, and I can barely read the tiny printed names of whatever beach, school or business is listed below the letters.  Are these drivers all members of a of cool, secret three-letter bumper sticker club?  If that’s what’s going on, then count me in.  I’ll put a sticker on my car that reads “CRS.”  Figure that one out.  It stands for Can’t Read Your Sticker!  I know, you’re only allowed three words, one for each letter.  I just threw “your” in there to shake things up—blame it on the rebel in me.    
If you think that this is a fluff topic, rest assured bumper sticker discussions can get deep.  Check out  this video:

I bet you’ll never see bumper stickers the same way again.

The other day I saw a lady driving a van with humongous, pink Easter bunny ears attached to her van.  What a whimsical woman!  Have any funny or interesting bumper stickers recently caught your eye?