Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Amusement For Simple Minds

15 "Wasted" Minutes of My Life

You know as well as I do that there's just no pleasing some people. No matter what one tries in the way of entertainment, it's always "That movie sucked," or "The Zippin Pippin isn't HALF the roller coasters at Disneyland," or "That's what you thought I'd like for an anniversary gift? Are you a stranger?" or even "A trip to Italy? I want to go to Paris." you get the matter how Herculean the effort made in hopes of getting someone else to enjoy the moment, there are some people who just refuse to accept the fact that joy comes from giving as well as receiving. fortunately, there are folks to whom that response doesn't matter so much: the people who are easily amused and entertained by almost anything.
I have to admit that I've gotten my share of sweaters as gifts and spent many an afternoon wandering through nurseries looking for a specific plant we just HAVE to have (only to decide we didn't really need it and leave...returning the next day to get it after all!) In spite of that, at least I understand that the giver as well as the doer needs to feel the joy of acceptance so mostly I go along and try to engage. Luckily, though, I have the capacity (as do many others: toddlers, for instance) to amuse myself. Such amusement is generally cheap and easily available even though what I think is amusing sometimes embarrasses those around me...singing out loud, for instance, or trying to imitate the "gangsta" walk when I'm in the mall with my kids. Oh, the list goes on, but today I discovered an incredibly amusing activity that is, apparently, sweeping the nation...and I just now heard about it.
Perhaps it won't be YouTube-video-posting popular, or hula-hoop popular or even Slinky popular, but planking certainly provided me with more than a few minutes worth of intellectual stimulation as well as at least 15 minutes worth of preparing my presentation.
Simply put, this current fad involves lying board-like (hence "plank"ing)on odd objects and having a picture taken for publication. I found literally dozens of these photos on the internet...much to my surprise. The only problem for me involved what object I could use as support. After my dental checkup today, I was berated by the dentist...not for having cavities, but for forgetting to bring my camera so I could "plank" in the dentist's chair! I had to admit that I slapped my forehead over that mistake...but I didn't let it deter me. Discarding one ordinary idea after another, I finally landed on the one that truly typifies me: shoe boxes. Of course, getting my sweetie to forego gardening for 5 minutes to do the photo was tricky as well: I got that "Who ARE you?" look again.
Worth every minute of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not Sure What's Funny Anymore


The ancient Greeks suffered it...the Roman civilization floundered and disappeared, and we might be next, if what's accepted as humor these days is any indication. The eventual decline and subsequent disappearance of any civilization can be traced to a whole host of reasons, but I'm thinking that Nero wasn't very funny as he watched his city burn (some say by his own hand). That brings me to the latest pop culture trend: vulgar language in book titles.
The first one I noticed was S*** My Dad Said which started as an internet sensation then eventually became something of a best-selling book. People found an emotional link between themselves and their fathers that, in some humorous way, made them want to buy the book. OK, OK, I can somewhat agree that a book for adults about adult/child relationships might bring back some of the more lighthearted moments as dads generally provide them with noteworthy material (noteworthy years later, of course)
But Adam Mansbach has pushed the limits of humor with his book Go the F*** To Sleep. In something of a reversal, the book details the frustrations that parents might feel after trying unsuccessfully to get a child to sleep. We've all been there, done that, and the solutions are as varied as are the parents themselves...but here's where I draw the distinctions between funny and horrifying. Even the idea of shouting something like this at a child who wants only parental attention makes me nervous. So...I don't think it's funny. How would I write this book? Hmmmm.
Any new parent can recall hilarious things he or she tried when babies were unwilling to nod off. Some people I know found the baby soothed by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, so they waited until bedtime to clean the house!
Haggard parents often resort to driving around for an hour or so because the motion of the vehicle puts children to sleep. My story would be about getting pulled over on a deserted street by a childless officer for circling the block 30 times...try explaining THAT one.
Of course, rocking away for hours has never seemed to fail, but then I generally fell asleep first and awoke hours later with a sleeping tyke lying across my knees and a kink in my neck. Funny? Maybe in years to come.
Our kids loved books so reading was the conduit we used eventually. Story time came after the bath, drinks (albeit tiny ones) and jammies. The natural cuddling that occurred was an added benefit...even when we'd worked all day and entertained children all evening.
So, If thirty readings of Where the Wild Things Are is what gets him or her to sleep, do it. If rocking until both of you fall asleep is required, so be it. Heck, if running the vacuum cleaner, playing music or driving around the block works, we have to do it...swearing? not so much. It will all be funny in twenty years, anyway, especially as we watch our kids try to get THEIR children to sleep! Now, THAT will be funny!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Keeping A Close Eye on Greece

Apparently, nothing is sacred anymore.

When we heard the announcement in the Newark airport that our flight to Athens was leaving early to beat the impending strike, we were disconcerted, to say the least...wondering how we would ever get back home if such a strike were protracted. Turns out the Greeks only strike four hours at a time...regularly...and our trip was uninterrupted.
However, being familiar with the situation of unrest in the country has encouraged me to follow events on the BBC (because American newspapers/TV would never be interested unless a professional athlete or a Snooki-like public embarrassment were involved). Thus, the latest unrest comes as no surprise, but things are getting serious, and I think we'd better pay attention or we will soon be in similar dire straits (not the band).
Starting tomorrow, the trade unions in Athens have called a general strike. That means that airports will come to a standstill, ferries, buses and taxis will stop running, as will the subway trains. More than 5,000 policemen have been called in to "handle" the proposed demonstration of thousands upon thousands of angry Greeks...upset by new austerity measures proposed by the government that will add taxes to the workers who are trying to survive on minimum wage! If this sounds eerily familiar, it should.
Unemployment in Greece stands at 16%, and people have had enough. I mean, if they are willing to stage a protest on the Acropolis hill, they ARE definitely serious. Back to the strike, though.
For the next two days, vital services will stop from 8-12 and from 3-7. Yeah, I know...odd, isn't it? I got on a subway during a protest while we were there, and a pickpocket could not have stolen anything from me if it had been hanging out of my pocket...think "Who Concert" without anybody being ABLE to move.
So, why the problem, and why should we be so concerned? money. In 2002, Greece dropped the drachma as its national money and joined with other countries in adopting the euro. The problem became immediate because it become much easier for Greece to borrow money to keep the country going...starting to feel a bit nervous? Exactly the same problem we have here with 14 trillion dollars owed to various countries, notedly China.
I'm just saying...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Was Gene Kelly Singing? I Wouldn't Be.

Love is No Excuse

It occurred to me today that many of the things we could not wait to experience as youngsters become less-than-exciting as we morph into our adult selves. Sometimes, the changes occur with regard to major milestones: getting a driver's license, getting to that 21st (legal) birthday, actually earning money instead of begging Mom and Dad for it (and getting grilled about why we would NEED money at our age). Of course, the big event s like Christmas are seen through different filters as we discover the actual source of the gifts (and who has to pay for said gifts!)...same for Easter and birthdays. Being told for the first time that one is too old for Trick or Treating is a crushing blow, to say the least...but I think I am most disappointed by my reaction to rain.
Riding home from school on my bike today, careening trough vast water puddles, sliding sideways down a muddied trail, and having my glasses turned into 3-D specs in a 1-D world was, quite plainly, miserable. My clothes were soaked, my homework was in danger of becoming unreadable, and my bike was headed toward the eventual (and tedious) lube job. I think I swore to myself all the way home.
And I a kid, that would have been the greatest experience of the week! Instead of slowing for puddles, I would have sped up; on muddy stretches, I would have screamed an appropriate battle cry ("Spoon! as The Tick would have said) and looked for even more opportunities to plant myself upside down with wheel spinning and helmet awry (OK, so I didn't wear a helmet as a kid...only military types wore helmets then). I would have raced home, laughing hysterically, parked my bike, then made some paper boats to race down the swirling waters of the gutter floods that always accompanied such rainfalls.
Mom would not be pleased, but I would take any punishment she could mete out just for the simple joy of reveling in a rare opportunity to enjoy the rain.
My joy today involved the fact that I had covered my bike seat during the workday with a shower cap so it would be dry on the way home...and it was the ONLY thing dry when I got home.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spare Me, Please!

Is .5 mpg Worth This?

If you are one of the more than one million people in the United States who bought a new car last month, check the trunk! You might be surprised to find that there is no spare fact, 13% of all new cars sold in this country last month did NOT have the accessory most of us feel comforted having. Fact is, spare tires are not required by federal regulators because they are not considered an "essential safety feature." Who knew? I'll bet most people didn't who bought that dream car lately.
This is not necessarily a new idea. My 2006 Mazda Miata does not have a spare tire. It has what the manufacturer calls a "tire inflation kit" which is becoming the new standard, it appears. The "kit" includes a can of sealant that a stranded motorist sprays into the tire through the valve stem...fixing the hole but not permanently...strictly an emergency fix. There is a small electric air pump to re-inflate the tire. Then, of course, one has to purchase a new can of sealant. "So, why are the manufacturers doing this to us?" I hear you protest.
It's simple, really. Three factors enter into this, and you can rank them in any order of importance you wish:

1. Gas mileage. Even half a mile per gallon saved means the auto maker can bump up the fuel efficiency rating to the next whole number. (and you were thinking they were doing this for YOUR benefit?)

2. Tires are made to be more efficient theses days with fewer flats a result.

3. More people simply have roadside insurance, either through the manufacturer, their dealer, or their insurance company.

4. Not having a spare saves the customer money. Hyundai which has no spare in its Elantra model, estimates that putting a spare tire in adds another $22. to the cost of the car. Multiply that by the number of Elantras the company expects to sell this year, and the savings are substantial: something like $4 million.

Hyundai is not the only manufacturer rolling out production sans spare tires. Should you be interested in a Chevy Cruze or Malibu, you will find no spare in either of those models (and probably others, as well). Buick also favors the tire inflation system, but the article in the LA Times that I used as my source today did not mention any specific Buick models as recipients.
Of course, we already know that cassette players are no longer available in the auto industry. After spare tires, what comes next?
Your guess is as good as mine, but this also begs the question: what will I use for self-defense when I'm broken down on the highway with no lug wrench?
Perhaps this was the thought behind all the concealed/open carry firearms laws enacted recently.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeling Entrepreneurial?

Every now and then, I think it would be fun to start up a project on a whim just to see how successful I could be. I'm sure that's how the Hearsts and Carnegies (Mellons, too, probably) of the world began. If it worked for them, why would it not work for me (investment capital and smarts notwithstanding)? My keen senses have discovered the perfect opportunity, and I have to jump on it before anyone else sees what a goldmine it is.
Face it: festivals are incredibly popular in this country. Every year, it seems like all cities, towns and burgs put on something that involves food and a parade...all centered around a historical event or something from local lore. It is in precisely this area that I intend to strike it rich. I'm headed to Boulder, Colorado, to take over Dead Guy Days.
Begun in 2001, this annual festival drew 15,000 people this year, but it has outgrown the local Chamber of Comemrce's ability to promote it, so the organization is willing to sell the rights to put on the festival. I don't know where Nederland is, but it's got to be near me a huge crowd potential.
The event celebrates the passing and subsequent (hopefully) revival of one Bredo Morstoel, a hardy Norwegian gentleman wo dies at 89 back in 1989 (coincidence? I think not). since 1993, he has been in a shed, packed with dry ice by his realtives who hope that medical science can one day revive him (can anyone say "Ted Williams"?) In case you'd like to attend this year's festival, you're too late: it is held in March. I, of course, would have it later to capitalize on the tourism dollar...after all, Bredo won't notice.
Events of the holiday include a parade of hearses, frozen salmon toss (shades of lutefisk, no doubt), and coffin races. The possibilities, though, are endless: the Grateful Dead could come back for something of a reunion of Formaldehyde and Seek would be popular, and swirls of fog crated by blowing air on mounds of dry ice sculpted for the occasion to commemorate moments of Bredo's life...did I say "endless"? Wow.
Get ready to see the money start rolling in...Boulder, here I come.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

As If Real News Wasn't Bad Enough!

Arab World Dissent? No, Hockey Fan

God knows that the world political and economic news is in the toilet. I cannot recall a time when so much was going badly for so many people with no real answers from anyone except diatribe concerning "their side" and "our side." Frankly, if I hear "trickle down" one more time, I'm going to implode. So, where to go to avoid this kind of frustration? I usually turn to the sports section of the online papers I read to regain some sense of normalcy. How about today? Let's see:

Rich owners and rich football players continue to argue about who needs more money at the fans' expense.

A college athlete is suspended after being arrested for driving 108 mph with a suspended license in a car rented by someone who works at the university where he plays.

Fans again commit larceny and burn vehicles following their team's loss in a hockey series.

A college athlete is arrested for boarding a plane with his pants sagging between his rear end and his knees and ignoring a request by the flight crew to "dress appropriately."

The wife of a player is attacked at a gas station after an almost-traffic incident with a man on a moped. It took two bystanders and several policemen to subdue the attacker while the woman's children sat by horrified.

NFL players are under suspicion of copyright infringement after wearing their team-issued jerseys in an advertisement for the opening of an adult-themed party...accompanied by several porn stars.

Control of the Mets can be had for $1 (some exclusions apply) after their owners got caught up in the recent Ponzi scheme scandal.

The only remaining outlet seems to be the comics least until October 21st.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fundamentally Wrong...or Is It?

Marriage Encounter 2.0

In my opinion, fundamental believers of ANYTHING are somewhat myopic, choosing to view things from a single perspective and denying the possibility that another way might also be acceptable. As a result, I generally dismiss them out of hand in favor of a more moderate approach. Lest you think, however, that this applies to only fringe groups in this country, let me point out that even a place like Malaysia has folks living and dictating on the edge of reality...take the Obedient Wives Club, for example.
This fringe Muslim group in Malaysia is on a quest to alleviate problems of spousal abuse and sexual abuse of women in the form of prostitution...noteworthy goals indeed. The sticky part comes when the group explains just how it plans to go about this. But a caveat is in order first.
Remember that, although Malaysia is a Muslim country, it is a relatively moderate one: a country in which women have rights that extend to their ability to hold public office. In fact, there are women who DO hold key government positions. Just so you get the fact that this is not some "typical" radical state (whatever "typical means these days).
Anyway, the onus for change has been placed squarely on the backs of Malaysian women. The group posits, "Domestic violence and prostitution could be cured by teaching women to keep their men happy in the bedroom. Women should be better than first-class prostitutes." Uh, this is the point at which people start to squirm.
Human rights groups and religious groups have decried this movement as an insult to both men and women, according to a repoert from Jennifer Pak of BBC News. Sharizat Abdul Jolil, the Minister for Women in Malaysia, feels that the group's activities give both Islam and Malaysia a bad name.
As a postscript, this same group began a polygamy club two years ago.
Sounds like a group made up of men to me. Wonder how that would "play in Peoria."
This is a proverbial can of worms that I am happy to keep tightly closed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"As Bare As You Dare"

This is another one of those "Do I live in a cave?" moments...and thank God I've found out about it in time!. There's still time for you,too, thanks to my ever-vigilant (though often late) investigative work. Meet me in Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend for the ride of your life.
Lest I get too far ahead of myself, I need to explain that this weekend features the LAST Midwest region bike entertainment known as World Naked Bike Ride. If we miss it this weekend, we'll have to go somewhere else to get involved. "Why would I do that crazy thing, and what is it anyway," I hear you ask. Fortunately, I have the home page URL at the bottom of this post, and the event is not as sacrilegious as it seems.
Organized in 2004 and held in 33 countries and dozens of states in this country, the annual ride is designed to call attention to the "indecent exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution they create." I can go for that. Not even considering the the damage cars do to the bodies of riders as they crash into us, the effects of pollution are well-documented. It's time for all of us to mobilize.
Rides are generally scheduled to coincide with specific dates in both hemispheres though individual rides are allowed to schedule somewhere close to a general date. This year, the Southern Hemisphere rides were to take place as close to Saturday, March 12th as possible while the events in the colder Northern Hemisphere were to be scheduled as close to Saturday, June 11th as possible. For example, we just missed the ride in Chicago that was held last weekend. Fortunately, as I noted earlier, there is still this Saturday's ride in Madison.
Organizers invite you and me to "...join hundreds of naked compatriots in a free, non-sexual, fun bike ride," but there are no real rules to how naked one has to get...the motto "As Bare As You Dare" is totally apropos. Actually, a bigger emphasis is placed on costumes and bike decoration, and as far as I could tell, there was very little actual's more about the reason for the ride and raising awareness.
For more info, here's the URL:

See you in Madison this weekend!

Friday, June 10, 2011

...And I Still Get A Cold Every Year


I have to hand it to the Japanese...after we devastated their country 65 years ago or so and left them with little more than baseball, they have systematically overtaken the U.S. in just about everything: auto manufacturing, transistors, sushi, and hundreds of other things. While we were saying "Bigger is better," they were saying, But smaller is the wave of the future."( sumo wrestlers excluded, naturally) Of course, "Made in Japan" has given way to "Made in China" these days even at Wal-Mart, but that's not my point. The point is that the Japanese took our ideas and miniaturized them in every conceivable fashion, and we've been be-smitten by the concept. Console stereos? Transistor radios? Japanese...replaced by iPods and iPod shuffles for size. Remember those ginormous computers that used to take up entire buildings? I've got an iPad that will top their brain power...with ideas and probably components made in Japan. Face it...downsizing has become such a part of our material world that even fast food restaurants offered small portions...for a while, anyway.
As a result, when we think of innovation, especially in electronics (Zenith? nope), we think of famous Japanese companies. When we think of automotive innovation, we look at the Prius...OK, you get the idea...but this thing? I think it's a head-scratcher.
A Japanese company named Neomotor is in the process of producing clamp-on bunny ears that respond to the wearer's mood. really. Called a "Neocomim" (a combination of the Japanese words for cat and ear), the gadget is attached by sensors and enabled to read brain waves. Should the wearer be focused, the ears perk up. On the other hand, when the wearer relaxes, the ears droop. In production but not yet ready for mass marketing, there is no fixed price on this thing yet, but it is sure to be something of a hit. However, it raises a couple of questions for me:

1. Doesn't it hurt to clamp this thing on? Would I have to shave part of my head?
2. Wouldn't this be a problem during hunting season?
3. Would I be embarrassed by a lack of neural activity in my head?
4. Can I get one of these things for each of my students?

There's no doubt that technology outpaces my capacity to use or understand it, and I suspect that I am not alone in that assertion. It just seems that there must be a more useful application for this kind of thing than making one's "ears" wiggle.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

And the Barbie Battle Escalates A Bit

Just in case you were at all interested in the flap Greenpeace caused at Mattel when it was discovered that packaging for toys like Barbie were made from products produced at the expense of the Indonesian rain forest...there's something of an update, courtesy of the L.A. Times.
Since I could not duplicate the whole thing, here's the URL, complete with Mattel's somewhat shaky (in my opinion) rationale:

This site will also link to the now-famous commercial featuring the Ken doll discovering Barbie's heinous activity!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

What Would Yosemite Sam Say? Brrrrr!


Travel is something that broadens everyone...mostly from eating all the new foods available on the trip to new locales (especially minor league ballparks and places I've been), and I like to think I've seen at least some portion of all areas of this beautiful country except the extreme Northeast. With the advent of GPS, the Weather Channel, and Google Earth, there are very few travel surprises anymore...certainly none like finding that a river has washed out a bridge, a massive forest fire will melt the tires off your car before you get where you want to go, or that an avalanche will cause a shift in summer travel plans. Avalanche? You bet. Such is the case TODAY in Yosemite National Park.
At an elevation of 9,945 feet, Tioga Road which bisects the park is the highest trans-Sierra route in California. Hence, if your name is Donner, and you plan a trip to, say, Oregon (though that would be an odd way to go to Oregon...humor me here) in the next couple of days, you might want to rethink that. According to information posted on the Yosemite Park website, the route containing Tioga Pass is closed with NO estimated opening date! In the middle (almost) of June!
No doubt there are other ways to cross the Sierra Nevada range (like driving to someplace south of Yosemite), but my geography skills are weak so I can be of little help. If, however, you are determined to visit Yosemite this summer instead of the hundreds of Civil War sites celebrating (if such a thing can be celebrated) 150 years since the Civil War, take the GPS and the iPhone or iPad with the weather Channel app and Google Earth to forestall a Donner Party (this was a party?) experience.
Get out there and see America before China buys it all or Jersey Shore takes over all the landmarks as it did in Florence, Italy.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Barbie: No Longer the Gorilla My Dreams

Mattel, home to Barbie and Ken as well as a host of other easily-recognizable toys, has gotten itself into hot water with a group not easily dissuaded...not because Barbie's dimensions are so other-worldly or because such toys perpetuate sexist stereotypes, but because it and other companies are contributing to the destruction of rain forests in Indonesia...responsible for loss of habitat for many jungles creatures that might otherwise make cute toys. And Greenpeace caught them at it...and exposed the companies like Mattel, Hasbro, Disney and LEGO. But it's Mattel that's taking the brunt of the environmental onslaught.
Indonesia has the third-largest rain forest in the word after the Amazon and the Congo. In addition to preserving a habitat for the amazing wildlife, such forests are known to be great carbon sinks: absorbing much of what we humans spew into the air and rendering it relatively harmless. To destroy the forests in Indonesia for palm oil and mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) used in packaging toys seems a great waste. Palm oil is an ingredient in a lot of Nestle products, though Nestle does not use palm oil from Indonesia...any more.
It did until last year when Greenpeace sponsored an ad featuring an employee biting into a Kit Kat and spewing blood from a severed orangutan finger...a visual that had a million hits on the internet in two weeks and caused such an outpouring of anger that Nestle decided to the environmentally friendly thing and cease using products that contributed to deforestation. Other "attacks" have caused both Staples and Home Depot to order their paper products from companies other than Asian Pulp and Paper, the company responsible for ripping out 40% of Indonesia's rain forests in the last 50 years...with eyes on at least half of what remains.
Now, Greenpeace is going after Mattel whose toy packaging features pulp from the Indonesian rain forests. With annual sales of 5.9 billion dollars, Mattel can hardly afford to turn a deaf ear to the protests, especially when things like this are all over YouTube:

I'm glad somebody is out there doing something positive for all of us instead of just for himself/herself/his party/her party.
You go, Greenpeace!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Playing It Loose and Fast (honestly!)

It's no wonder things have gone downhill with the advent of 24-hour news, sports coverage and immediate technology like Twitter and Facebook. What those factors have achieved is merely to let us know what a group of total nincompoops we are collectively. lest this begins to sound like a Carlos Zambrano-like tantrum of throwing the teammates under the bus, let me offer some simple examples of what I mean:
"Not meant to be a factual statement"
"I can't say with certitude"/WeinerGate
'"Paul Revere warning the British"
Governors covering up illegitimate children
Bible-reading coaches who cheat and cover up with lies
Illegal campaign donations used to cover an affair
A political party encouraging "fake" politicians to run in recall elections
Snooki in Italy
A veritable host of athletes tweeting idiotic things constantly
The idea that ANYBODY would be interested in what's happening every 30 seconds in anybody's life.
The "lame-stream media" practically drooling over every nonsensical misstatement that She Whose Name Must Not Be Mentioned Makes.
24-7 coverage of recently-incarcerated athletes
Continuous coverage of anything Lindsey Lohan-related.
Ridiculous marathon award shows..."Best On-Screen Kiss" Really?
He said, she said.
...and I see no end in sight...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

No Room for Cars


We went to look for a children's wagon this week. We have three grandkids under four years old and a spacious park/play area across the street and wandering vistas to explore so the wagon seemed like a great idea. The sticker shock was case you have not priced a wagon lately, the price must include Goldfinger-esque appointments. Fortunately, the neighborhood garage sale happened concurrently. Little did I know what we would end up with!
The Little Tykes company made a fortune selling things to our neighbors over the last few years, and it would appear that the Sesame Street brand did well also. It was lucky for us that we didn't need any of that stuff until this week when our granddaughter came to visit. Now, however, our garage and driveway and yard are all filled with inexpensive expensive toys, and we were worn out just playing with her. Now, the problem is storage! The garage barely had enough room for the cars, lawnmower, snowblower, four bikes, recycling containers, kayaks and gardening tools. Adding these larger-than-I-would-like toys means that every time I want to get the grill out, I will have to complete a shifting around of stuff that would do credit to a moving company. I've got even money down that I will, one of these days, back over something on my way out with one of the vehicles.
Granted, everything but the wagon (not pictured) was inexpensive, and God knows that keeping a two-year occupied takes more than a Dr. Suess book (this one already manipulates an iPad), but we have so much that four or five times during the weekend, cars stopped by to see if we were part of the garage sale! But at least the little girl is a discerning shopper: as we walked the neighborhood looking for must-have items, she would hop out of the wagon (a very handy purchase) and sift through the toys she found fascinating...throwing some in the wagon and attempting to drag others down various driveways; so while we did end up with a number of items, we did not get the battery-powered Barbie-mobile or the bike that connected to the television to play video games or the various chairs, desks, chalkboards and stuffed animals that she had her eye one.
Now, we can have our own garage sale, because the basement was already full of kid toys.
No wonder we were exhausted when she left town!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Remember to Floss Daily is a site that routines offers interesting tidbits designed to get readers to go, "Hmmmmmm." Today's posting described the ten most interesting numbers to Americans and contained the rationale for things like why gas prices end in .9 cents and what's up with the long decimal string on know, interesting things like that. One number, in particular, interested me: the number 5...
as in the number of seconds in the "five-second rule" ( I actually thought it was three) that allows us to eat things that have fallen on the floor as long as we can grab them before they have lain on the floor for more than the allotted five seconds...and believe it or not, this "rule" has actually been tested. Researchers have some differing ideas about the time limit, as one might expect.
In 2003, Jillian Clark performed the first known scientific test of the five-second rule. In the Food Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois, she placed gummi bears and cookies on ceramic tile that was a harbor for E coli and found that within five seconds, the bacteria had spread to all the food items. This study led to other studies.
Dr. Paul L. Dawson of Clemson University found that bacteria transferred instantly so he recommends the "zero second rule" that prohibits one from eating anything that's contacted a suspicious surface (e.g. one that is NOT the inside of one's mouth).
Curiosity piqued, Clark followed up Dawson's study by testing the floors at the U of I campus, especially the ones most heavily trafficked and found that there was very little bacteria present. apparently, the floors on the Champaign-Urbana campus are clean enough to eat off of.
I hope mine are...and I hope yours are, too.
If you are interested in more about fascinating numbers, here's the URL from today's posting: