Saturday, April 18, 2009

Living in a Video Game

Some days I feel like I am living in a video game. A little Mario Bros. world where simple tasks like walking and jumping over a puddle at times become a challenge.
  • Like trying to pour milk while a 3 year old climbs up your leg.
  • Or walking by the stairs when suddenly a five year old jumps out at you screaming "Catch me!"
  • Or trying to navigate the kitchen-utensil (land mines and grenade bombs in my boys' imaginations) strewn kitchen floor while I try to make supper.

  • Balancing one kid on my back while I carry the other because they both have to be the first ones in the car.
  • Making gecko/Galapagos tortoise/fire salamander/iguana/crocodile/newt/bullfrog/Komodo dragon noises as I read the bedtime book Grandpa Dan gave us.
  • Blocking karate hacks (rattlesnake attacks) to the face and fake crocodile bites while reading said book and also while trying to differentiate between one of the former or what might be an unexpected bear hug and kiss.

I figure I am in Level 3 approximately - I am just beginning to get the hang of it while the difficulty has gone up a notch. I still have all my lives though!

My boys - turning my life into a video game one day at a time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Just for fun

A very funny lady was recently updating her status on FB with Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts. (You remember those skits from SNL - way back when everyone knew it as "Saturday Night Live"?) I had to start googling them, and thought I would add a few of my favorites, for a laugh every time.
  • “If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope He likes enchiladas, because that's what He's getting”
  • “The next time I have meat and mashed potatoes, I think I'll put a very large blob of potatoes on my plate with just a little piece of meat. And if someone asks me why I didn't get more meat, I'll just say, "Oh, you mean this?" and pull out a big piece of meat from inside the blob of potatoes, where I've hidden it. Good magic trick, huh?”
  • “I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a good idea but it's just eggs hatching.”
  • “If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.”
  • “Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.”
  • “I think there should be something in science called the "reindeer effect." I don't know what it would be, but I think it'd be good to hear someone say, "Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect."”
  • “I can't stand cheap people. It makes me real mad when someone says something like, "Hey, when are you going to pay me that $100 you owe me?" or "Do you have that $50 you borrowed?" Man, quit being so cheap!”
  • “Here's a good trick: Get a job as a judge at the Olympics. Then, if some guy sets a world record, pretend that you didn't see it and go, "Okay, is everybody ready to start now?".”
  • “To me, it's a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, Hey, can you give me a hand? You can say, Sorry, got these sacks."
  • “If any man says he hates war more than I do, he better have a knife, that's all I have to say.”

OK, that's enough. Funny.

On Thoughts

"...thoughts can save people, and...the capacity to believe that you can have thoughts, connected to your own experience, is every bit as vital as the more fashionable claims for emotional self-expression."

-Philip Davis, The Reader

I love this quote. It reminds me why I went into Liberal Studies in the first place. We truly are a dying species, ah, but what a way to die!

Crespuculo, or Twilight as You Have Probably Heard It Called

I am well into the Twilight series, and since many of my dearest friends seem to be obsessed by it, and since I cannot NOT read something that everyone is talking about, even if it is something I would never pick up on my own, I decided to acquire the series on my last trip to the States. Unfortunately, vacationers in Orlanda,FL do not seem to be much interested in reading, and I could not find a bookstore anywhere near the Disney World properties. Not even in the resort, where I thought for sure they would have a stand for magazines and books or something. Strange. Anyhow, I ended up looking for the books at a Walmart, and could only find the first one. I got it, and when I got back home started reading it. I don't know what I was expecting, but it sort of fulfilled my expectations and didn't at the same time, so I became intrigued and decided I had to read all four books. But where was I going to get them?

Fast forward to the largest display of Twilight books in an Ecuadorian book shop in a nearby mall, and all in English! Wow! Amazing. So I spent a small fortune on the other three books and have settled in to figure out what the hype is all about.

Maybe I was wrong to read all of them in a row. Too easy to find inconsistencies. Or maybe I was wrong to mention that I was reading the series to a bibliophile friend who was none too happy, and then proceeded to tell me his theory that Meyers had books 2-4 ghostwritten. But I haven't enjoyed them as much as I expected to. It is a book for young adults, so I realize who the audience is supposed to be, but I find myself going back page after page and trying to figure out what the heck is happening. For example, at a crowded party Edward will "leave the room" and Bella will be frantic to find him, only to notice Alice in the corner, who has "caught Edward's eye from across the room". Now, how did that happen when I had assumed he had already left? I know it is picky and petty but that is the kind of reader I am, I guess. I am not reading the books for their literary worth, but for the story (and the story is good), but if I am reading for the story, I would think the author would have to be more careful with the details that really make the story move. So, I have been struggling with that aspect of the books (and yes, the first book was much more polished, making me buy into my friend's theory).

I also have not appreciated how flat of a character Bella seems to be (I think she is changing a bit in book 3). I mean, the girl is obsessed with being a vampire, to the extreme that she (who I had the impression of being so smart and perceptive) seems to miss out on the whole picture. And if she really loved Edward that much, as much as she obsesses to, why wouldn't she listen to his reasoning a bit more? It makes me think she doesn't really love him but instead is obsessing over him because he has that (apparently) special vampire characteristic to appear irresistible to humans.

One of my friends has said that Bella is so flaky because she is in love. Perhaps. She was supposedly so different from the other girls her age, though, that she has secretly disappointed me that she is acting like the star struck teenager. Really, is it so different to think a teenager would want to give up everything to become what appears to be a glamorous, eternal vampire - give up marriage and college and babies and family and friends and death for a boy? Wouldn't every teenager be willing to do that? They are, after all, quite selfish and not much interested in the things about life that make living living. Oh Bella, you are so sad sometimes. What a sell out.

These are the questions I have, and normally they would sound like good ones, except that there is nothing in the story to help me through them. Like the author is just avoiding those hard questions. Again, it is YP Fiction, but even young readers deserve to have the hard questions approached, don't they? Especially with such a successful series.

On the whole Edward is a much better character, deeper and more intriguing, which probably explains why the series is so popular, since many of my friends seem to be secretly in love with Edward Cullens.

Ha! Taking a book so seriously. I am still obsessed with getting to the end, so don't think I am saying I won't read them. But, I am a little surprised at their wide spread success (don't hate me!).

Disney Vacation

So, I haven't posted anything about our vacation, yet, probably because I have been having trouble getting back into things since we returned. What a great time, everything was perfect and the best thing was having someone cleaning up after me, cooking for me, taking me places, etc. I loved the hotel and having the pool and while it was miserably hot I secretly loved the heat (as usual). Right now I am sitting at work with a heating unit full blast on my legs and I feel like I am never going to thaw. So, bring on the heat! I will complain but just because that's what I do!

The kids of course had the bext time. We saw all four parks, but the Magic Kingdom is of course the best one. I wish we had spent all our time there, maybe one day at Epcot. I didn't get on any adult rides, but just watching the kids get so excited for Dumbo was the best. The 55-minute line full of young adults waiting to get on could have been a bit more pleasant, but oh well. It was busy. What can you do?

On a side note, I just love going to the U.S. and experiencing all that space. Everyone takes it for granted (except those in NYC I suppose, that cement jungle is a special type of hell), but in a place like Minnesota you just figure everywhere in the world the yards are big, the avenues wide with little traffic, the trees shadow the streets and there are virtually no people since you do not see evidence of people everywhere you go. So I didn't appreciate the crowds in the parks, but the hotel was big and not so crowded and we spent a day renting a car and just driving around and I loved just soaking up all the extra space there is to be had. And to imagine how big the Disney property is, well, that is another thing. From our hotel it was a 20-minute drive on a highway to Magic Kingdom. All within the Disney property. Crazy. Scary, too, how big that place is and how powerful in a sense. But I am not going to dwell on the evils of Disney because as long as I got my money's worth of a vacation I guess I can shut up about it. But man, there is a lot of money in that place. That's all I'm going to say. That and comment how a recent article came out here in Ecuador where the public complained about the high cost of public transportation (25 cents). Just to put things into perspective.

I think it was just great having a true family vacation, just the four of us to do what we want when we want and where we want without having to worry about boring someone else or what someone else wants to do. Not to be selfish, but just to know that if the kids are tired we can go back to the hotel, even though we didn't "finish" all of our plans. Or, if the kids wanted to have chicken nuggets for the 115th meal in a row, it was fine. Very refreshing to have that kind of freedom. We will have to do more of those things, I think. My next idea was trying a trip somewhere down here, in South America, like maybe Argentina or Chile, or up to an island in the Caribe, like San Andres. We'll have to see, there are so many places in Ecuador I still don't know, but I see that as the boys get older it will be easier and easier to take those types of vacations.