Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

L'A dieu au voi

The beauty of Craigslist. Each and every time we get the bright idea to exit stage left for yet another adventure we have a typical (typical for us...not sure how that translates...) drill we follow. Order two of the door to door storage containers, fill with the usual suspects of beloved found articles from travel, books, artwork as well as a box of dishes, box of linens so where ever we are on the planet: it arrives to be opened like a mini time capsule. The rest you ask-where does it go? Good question as an 8 foot by 8 foot cube is limiting: The magic wand is Craigslist. If you build it they will come ala Field of Dreams. A mini pictorial of treasures available for sale, in our case Ikea furniture and random computer gear. Funny but it's being gobbled up as fast as I can post it. Hooray for extreme recycling! The question most people ask : But how can you mentally approach such a daunting task. For those of you who have moved a handful of times the concept is one you already embrace. To not embrace the concept is to remain tethered to your "stuff" and saddled with the responsibility or ability to convince yourself that the life you lead is the one you have choosen.

The only way I can describe being a serial mover is how the jones of the next adventure is as addictive as crack. New places means new food experiences, new artistic endeavors and new people to meet. For those of us in the nutty world of an all consuming passion for food a new adventure means new food cultures to be discovered. Think of it much like the ability to gather and collect bugs in a jar when you were a child, except now we don't capture such experiences we simply enjoy and in my case write about them then seek out the next experience. Which brings me to my most exciting news: the creative juju that I am funneling into my new blog that will be up and running soon. Bit of a paradigm shift from the suburban snore angst of my current suburbansubsistance. Think food, adventure travel, more food, wine, people, all surrouded by more food experience. Travel for me has always been about the food, oh and the scuba diving. Maybe photography too...you get it.

So with the madness that accompanies a move, I bid you all adieu... Thank you for reading, thank you for posting ( although I have given up the moderating weeks ago) and thank you for the life experience that will forever be a layer of my personality.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hey Troll: Is that your nose or just happy 2 C Me?

You know your old when___________. Yes, it has happened, the not so subtle sign that you may not have the complete skinny on certain things cultural. Yes, I can still rattle off most of the bands played on the radio but would I really possess that knowledge in a seemingly seamless way without the Shazam icon on my phone? Tough to say. Someone recently mentioned the term LARP or LARPing and for a moment I assumed it was some new beauty treatment or exotic massage. Wrong. Think adult games of pretend....wait that didn't come out quite right. Different metaphor: think dungeons and dragons but on a grown-up level ..too geeky ? Hate to place a value judgement but I think you catch the drift. Play a role and take it to an Oscar winning performance level while having fun within a scripted story-line.

Paint-ball had this type of cache a dozen years ago, although too boy centric to have a groovy feel.
Weirdly a handful of websites talk about the Live-action role play parts available and what they seek to get plugged into. Kinda creepy, but kinda cool. Like the opportunity to walk around a Renaissance Fair with a big Turkey leg to nibble while people yell nasty things at you? Well, you haven't lived until you have done this in part because it feels so great to whack someone on the head with the nibbled turkey leg after they call you wench. All in good fun I assure you.

The context of this discussion about LARPing came from a talk about its' sometime use as a tool
for therapy. Which reminded me of the time when both of my sons would sport super hero costumes (complete with capes) every day, and accompany me on my daily errands to the grocery, post office and cafe for coffee. Nothing like hanging with a superhero to attract attention. Clark Kent had it all wrong.

So, just for fun drop this newly learned concept into the next casual conversation, might be a nice mental form of fun. Funnier still is to see if the person would be game to play.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Healthy Habit

Organic. Can't dodge the label now even if you tried. Organic is not a new word in our household vernacular. What is new is the lengths products go to position themselves as synonymous with healthy wholesome and good . We also know that when you slap on that little seven letter word that starts with O (mind outta the gutter) the Other word: organic it's marketing piece for this positioning is typically the premium it demands. See the O word on the label: add another 20-30% to the bottom line. Mind you, I don't fight that battle, because I am a staunch defender of the farmer and the industry minions who support all things pesticide free. The beef so to speak comes from the inane marketing of things clearly not healthy, but when proudly displaying an organic tag line is made over magically ? Perhaps not.

Cigarettes. Yes, now even my favorite satirist Christopher Hitchens can embody the healthy marketing notion that he is doing something good for himself as he smokes two organic packs a day.

I became aware of this oddly positioned organic product from an insert in my favorite magazine, The Atlantic. Double truck magazine advertisement for you fellow marketing wonks- singing the praises of the American Spirit Cigarette, and it's use of Organic tobacco. I am not a smoker, but friends who do still smoke (yes, weirdly enough still on this continent) maybe even more weirdly in my own neighborhood- agreed to preform a taste test/price/value comparison.

The results? Since I am not affiliated with Consumer Reports, suppose I can share with you.. Local test results reported no difference in taste for a price premium, and the idea of smoking organic cigarettes really felt silly. Who do you suppose the market for this product? Surely not overweight Midwesterners who drink domestic swill and consider In and Out burger fine dining. The answer may allude us, but the marketing savvy gave me a laugh.

Friday, April 24, 2009

When Is 2 Much?

TheParenting Continuum hosted a bag lunch discussion this afternoon with speaker: Dr. Tonja Krautter Raising Boys in a Digital World. Questions of what constitutes 'screen' time? How much is too much? What types of games are they playing? Does this interfere with the development of our boy's communication and socialization skills.

The focus was really how to maintain a healthy parent/child relationship while placing limits. Speaker Dr. Tonja Krautter, Psy.D., L.C.S.W, has been named one of the National Top Mental Health Practitioners in the nation, and has been mentioned as one of Cambrian’s Who’s Who of Doctors in the United States of America.
Dr. Krautter opened up the discussion with an interestingly positive notion concerning video game use. Sighting a recent study of how video games that involve high levels of action, such as first-person-shooter games, increase a player's real-world vision, according to research in the March Issue of Nature Neuroscience. The ability to discern slight differences in shades of gray has long been thought to be an attribute of the human visual system that cannot be improved. But Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, has discovered that very practiced action gamers become 58 percent better at perceiving fine differences in contrast.

"When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing. These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. Ability to Perceive Changes in Shades of Gray Improves up to 58 Percent.. Amazing right?

Speaker Dr. Tonja Krautter also outlined the not so Rosie side of video game use: addiction.
The question looms- what makes a game addictive. Is it the gore & guts factor? Fantasy aggressive play as an outlet? The University of Rochester also posted the following study that shows: Violence Does Not Motivate Video Game Players. Motivation comes from the healthy pleasure of mastering a challenge rather than from a disturbing craving for carnage. A Harris Poll survey found that 8.5% of youths 8 to 18 who play video games show collective signs of addiction that psychologists know exist in pathological gamblers.

The responsibility is ours to hold game developers accountable. The rating system for video games along with the integrity of marketing to the appropriate age level needs to be policed, but by whom you ask? Us. We are the parents, and as we want our children to have a sense of adventure and quest for learning . Sometimes reminding the corporate game world to remember: blood, violence and inappropriate sexual innuendo does not help the bottom line.

Looking for more of a safety net to research this sort of stuff? My favorite site is Common Sense Media. I like to think of them as the Consumer reports for the parental demographic.

The most important tid-bit of information learned today, play the games before purchasing. Knowledge really IS power.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Business Class Seating

I get it. My first "ride" in a big vehicle in many years...Crystal clear now why it is that so many women drive ginormous vehicles. No, it's not the obvious- not the extra legroom, or the ability to load it full of crap that you don't really need from Costco. The reason is clear: when riding/driving a Largemarge vehicle, size of ones' butt suddenly seems so very much smaller. My guess is that after many outings while driving such largess for the largeass psychological mechanics at work kick in to convince you just how "petite" one is behind the wheel. Of course it's flawed logic because next to this large leather seat is the expandable drink holder. My immediate thought, if this is the size of drink I might imbibe while driving there is no way in hell my behind would continue to feel as tiny in such a big luxurious seat.

I must apologize to any of you who resemble this statement. I am not making a value judgement here. Suffice to say that the beauty of democracy is the ability to make choices. I just thought I would share with the class that the ah-ha moment has arrived finally, I get it. Not saying that I will be coming over to the dark side of big comfy leather seats, just know that I understand and will ride shotgun with you anytime in the future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not Worthy

How often do we take for granted all of the things that get accomplished with the sweat of others?
The orange blossom fragrance waifs through our pristine streets, after the immigrant labor has pedicured the landscape. Not much thought goes into the how, what or why of the economics behind the underbelly that grooms our quaint existence. Ever ponder the question of where and how this segment of society exist? Let me share a small bite from a day in the life.

My housekeeper ( legal status, pays taxes) resided here in Los Gatos with her two daughters (elementary and middle school ) until last month. When she couldn't renew her apartment lease she relocated nearby but out of LG . Her workday is still spent cleaning the homes of Los Gatans until she picks up her girls from school. I should mention that is the past tense, because as of two weeks ago she was forced to remove her daughters from the school district. Never mind that with less than two months of school left in the year, these children have been uprooted. Shortsighted and stupid are to adjectives that come to mind. Apparently a public school education is available to those of us lucky enough to wield our educational muster to support the change of circumstances. Unfortunately, this is something that did not apply in this particular case, yes I forgot....if one is cleaning homes, than one may not be in a position to argue the finer points of reason with our local school administrators.

Got a beef with that? Me too. Wanna share your frustration? Feel free to wield your mental muscle and articulate the short sighted approach with the school district. It's the right thing to do. Care to wager that this could conceivably happen to you or I if the same situation presented itself? Hate to say it...but the race card comes into play. Contact Fisher Middle School Principal Lisa Fraser, and Daves' Avenue School Principal Susan Von Felton. Wouldn't hurt to pen a quick email to the district superintendent Richard Whitmore. Think for a moment if your children were placed in this position.