Saturday, November 29, 2014

What's the App for That?

We’re at that time of the year. The countdown has begun. Tick tock, tick tock! That’s the sound of time ticking away as you sit helplessly in holiday traffic. If you want to use the time wisely, you could make out Christmas lists in your head, listen to music and books on tape, or watch how other drivers entertain themselves. One day you might look over and see this:


How safe is it to ride in a vehicle that lacks a steering wheel and partly operates by GPS? Think back to the weird places GPS has led you. This car might take you to the river and refuse to budge. Or worse yet, imagine that it’s several days before Christmas, you’ve finished your shopping and want to go home, but the car keeps circling the mall, pausing at random entrances. Feels like a  nightmare, doesn't it?  

The car’s designers did say that the guidance system uses GPS, along with other factors to locate correct destinations. For now, they say the project is a work-in-progress. Still, I’m going to need a lot more confidence in the technology before I hand over control of the steering wheel.

If you had to give up the steering wheel of your life, to whom would you give it?   


Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Passion Meets Principle

Would your list of TV show favorites surprise any of the people who know you? There’s a host of shows I watch that fall outside my family’s viewing habits. At our house, you might hear someone shout, “Not Mommy TV! Grab it!” at our house. That would be the kids struggling to get the remote control before I do.

 Any title with ‘extreme’ in it usually grabs my attention. Several of my preferred TV shows highlight extraordinary situations. One of the shows I watch demonstrates how the budget-conscious live. Ignoring puzzled stares from strangers, these thrifty characters save money in the most outrageous ways. In one episode, a lady asked a baker to assemble several unsold pieces of cake. Once the baker refrosted the mass of cake, the customer negotiated and bought the dessert at a huge discount. Here’s another extreme situation:           

It takes creativity to concoct those kinds of strategies. If the guy put his ideas in a book, I’m sure it would sell well.  Clearly, when passion meets principle people do interesting things.

What things do you do that would puzzle the average person? 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Animals and Blurred Lines

Now that cooler temperatures have settled in, everyone wants to fire up a backyard fire pit. If you don’t own one, you probably know someone who does. I had an opportunity to sit around a large bonfire this week, one that included over twenty-five people. I couldn’t believe how much heat the fire gave off.  I thought it might singe my eyebrows when I roasted marshmallows for the smores. If you’re thinking only kids and the young-at-heart enjoy roasting marshmallows, check this out:

That poor creature doesn’t need those marshmallow calories; everyone knows you can’t eat just one.  Before they know it, the lab will be missing marshmallows and matches. Call in Smokey the Bear. You know what they say, “Fire safely goes, danger grows.”

Just because we can practice or teach particular behaviors and skills doesn’t mean we should. Who should decide where to draw the line?


Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Best Things in Life are Here

Every so often our cat approached me with a pitiful meow. I assumed boredom had taken hold of her so I went to the pet store to buy the perfect plaything. The task seemed simple: find a fun, inexpensive toy. Since she had a big, pink stuffed fish, cat teasers, and an assortment of rattling balls, I needed something new. After scouring the shelves, I chose a feathery, spinning thing that cost more than I wanted to spend. Would she play with it?
I took it home and set it up. She looked at it and walked away. Cat toy fail! I picked up one of her old toys, a five-year-old rope with a pipe cleaner attached to the end. I flicked it once or twice, and our cat darted after it. That little lesson reminded me how kids will spend a few hours playing with a pricey toy from the store, but give them a cardboard box and they’ll entertain themselves for a week.

Neither cats nor kids need the fanciest items in the store to be content. Sometimes the right item is already within their grasp, like this one:        

If you’re trying to save cash on the kids’ Christmas gifts, buy good ripping paper and a couple of large cardboard boxes. Those kinds of items never let you down. They say that the best things in life are free. In what way is that saying true for you?    

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Calling All Messengers

Isn’t it great that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and  Instagram  allow us to voice our opinions, promote interests, and share pictures with the world?  Some folks prefer to skip the technology and take their personal expression to the streets. Maybe you’ve seen 3-D message blasts? I’m referring to those physical spots in the community where the most curious comments show up.

For instance, a vehicle carrying wood painted with angry, puzzling complaints used to park around town like a traveling billboard. In another spot, sits a building splashed with phrases that might be part of a local political feud. I’d like to decipher these unusual messages, but so far, they’re still mysteries.  See if these 3-D messages are easier to interpret:      

 If you could post a 3-D message in your community, what would it say?