Monday, June 23, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

So What's On Your Tube?

I had a bought of insomnia last night and found myself watching the tube at 4am last night. I caught a really cute movie called ‘Employee of the Month’ on Showtime. The plot was pretty simple. A box boy, played by Dane Cook, at pseudo-WalMart tries to make employee of the month to impress a cashier, Jessica Simpson. The movie is pretty silly and predictable but I just love Cook’s humor. He reminds me of Steve Carell of ‘The Office’ fame whom I think is hysterical with just his expressions alone. I used to work a minimum wage job in fast food and could relate to the main character. Watching the box boy jump through a series of inane antics in order to make employee of the month left me giggling for hours.

Next up was a reality show on MTV called ‘Juvies’ which follows teens after they get arrested. The show did a great job of unromanticizing the life of crime in a realistic yet unpreachy way which I guess is one of the things MTV does best unlike mainstream TV. The show also humanized the kids. One story about a boy who could not get off drugs left me literally watery eyed.

And finally, I watched a show on MTV called ‘Made’ where kids get re-made into something they dream about. This particular show featured an ultra tomboy girl who wanted to be a super model. I think the show is trying to promote the idea to kids that dreams really do come true. However, I wasn’t sure that the underlying theme that changing who you are as a person can make you happy is a realistic message. At any rate, the show was harmless enough with its happy endings and watching the tomboy clomp around in high heels was pretty entertaining.

So, what’s on your tube these days?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just Call Me Sweet Singing Sade

I spent last week in Illinois and Missouri and it felt like a trip through time. Each day I drove into St. Louis to work and crossed the vast corn and wheat fields that line the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Sediments like plants, dead animals and nutrient rich rock are ground into bits by the mighty water making the river bottom one of the most fertile soils on earth. I watched the John Deere tractors pulverize the earth into precisioned rows and even though it still looked today to be very difficult work as in the 1800’s, I thought about how rewarding it would be to watch acres of food spring from the yard and enjoy the successes from the work of my own hands.

Because the land is so flat and cleared by farmland, the St. Louis arch can be seen from miles away. I’ll let some of the facts speak for themselves and tell the story of the incredible engineering that is nothing short of awesome. The Arch is the tallest national monument in the United States although when standing under it you would think it was shorter. I read that the Arch is a structure known as a catenary curve, the shape a free-hanging chain takes when held at both ends, and considered the most structurally-sound arch shape. In order to ensure that the constructed legs would meet, the margin of error for failure was 1/64th of an inch. All survey work was done at night to eliminate distortion caused by the sun's rays. Since the Arch was constructed before the advent of computer technology, relatively crude instruments were used for these measurements. The Arch sways a maximum of 18" (9" each way).

The arch is a monument dedicated to westward expansion, however, the Lewis and Clark expedition actually embarked from Wood River, Illinois, which is a minor fact that folks like my family who live in Wood River will never let you forget. Everyone has heard the Lewis and Clark story but seeing the exact replica of the 55 ft keelboat at the Lewis and Clark encampment really shows how tiny the space was and makes the journey seem even more amazing to me.

Another stop was the Cahokia Indian mounds which are like the Etowah Indian mounds in Georgia only much larger. Both mound villages were created by the Mississippian Indians but it was believed that the Cahokia village was occupied by as much as 40,000 people at its peak. The Mississippian Indians lived under a strict hierarchy where the highest order of caste lived on the top mounds and the lowest on the bottom. The commoner lived in a 5 ft by 5ft thatched hut and although all needs for survival were met through bartering, it was apparent that few frivolities existed.

I had a great time over the long weekend imagining what it would be like to live in the past. We watched the strong tugs pushing the strings of barges up and down stream. I imagined myself as the captain of an old barge, shouting out commands while navigating the swift and dangerous black waters. I fantasized about being a farmer, an Indian, or a fast talking carpet bagger looking for a sweet deal. I guess if I had my choice, I would be a lounge singer on a gambling riverboat. Free room and board with admirers ready to help me don my cape for a stroll on the deck was the life for me!

What about you? Where would you be if you went back in time?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Renaissance Festival

Over the weekend Eric, Cara, Karen and I went to the Renaissance Festival. Here is a trip summary:

Steak on a stick, Pork on a stick, Banana on a Stick, Strawberries on a stick, chicken pie, spinach pie, fried pickles, fried coca-cola, ice cream sandwich, chocolate fudge sundae, sassperilla, diet coke, coke, more coke.

Bodices and cleavage, Eric the Great swings the sledge hammer and rings the bell, sometimes boots are NOT sexy, Lipizzan stallions, Jousting can poke your eye out, Blacksmithing is not for sissies, Parrots of paradise like orange slices as snacks, Nickel Wenches like to sneak up behind Eric and Cara, Eric sasses the rose bearing Wench, Karen does NOT like haunted houses, Cara is fascinated by sculptures of skewed mermaids.

Did I miss anything??

Friday, April 25, 2008

Some Times You Just Have to Smile

A tender hearted friend of mine found a stray labradoodle pup in the parking lot of a grocery store. Worried that the little guy would be hit by a car she scooped him up and took him home. After receiving no responses from her lost/found postings she agonized about what to do with him. She already has two very active dogs of her own and wasn't quite sure if she could support a third. She finally found a placement for him at Atlanta Pet Rescue but continued to watch for adoption status every day.

As far as whether she made the right decision about what to do with the little guy, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Below is the picture of the pup with his new adopted owner.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Recently Cara and I hooked up to go to the zoo. The weather was beautiful fantastical and she is the best person to go with because of her love of all things animals. It was like having my own personal docent at each of the exhibits because she could talk at length about each animal and their habitats. It had been many years since I had been to the zoo and I admit that I could not even name half of the animals like the wart hog or the even more bizarre naked mole rat - ewwww!

I could have lingered all day and watched the primates. It was so easy to read their communication since it is so very much like our own, go figure, that it was like watching a soap opera.

My thoughts today are with Marina, the Beluga whale at the Atlanta Aquarium who died last December. Watching her gave me one of the most peaceful experiences that I can ever recall. Hopefully attached is a quick video I took last year.

On today of all days, god bless them all, large, small, ugly or cute, even the naked mole rats.