Seriously? It’s not even Halloween yet and I’m asking about Christmas?
I know. Sorry. With family spread across the country we generally do at least three different Christmas gift exchanges between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Needing to have gifts by Thanksgiving can sneak up on you. So I need to have a Christmas list early.
And I suck at Christmas lists.
I like to rebel and not do one, but then poor grandmas throw up their arms and have to resort to gift cards, which they hate.
Then I get too practical. Do I really need all the usual crap? Then my list amounts to six items nobody wants to buy (two of which were gift cards). One year I told my wife I needed socks. I think she hit me. Trying to be anti-materialistic isn’t compatible with the Christmas list. I guess that’s the point—this is stuff I wouldn’t buy for myself. They’re gifts. They’re supposed to be extravagant.
Last year I got smart and told my wife I wanted a new winter coat. Half the present was her doing the shopping and making the decisions for me. Best. Present. Ever.
So materialism aside, I’m trying to fill out my Amazon wishlist and for once I have more than six boring things. I have a lot of ridiculous things nobody will buy (Like $150 prints, a new TV and $200 Lego sets—see? Extravagant.) as well as some realistic stuff like the new Anne Lamott book, picture frames (hey, something besides books & movies!) and a Blu-ray player.
So what do you want for Christmas this year? Help me out, I can pad my list by stealing your ideas!
There’s a story in the Pioneer Press this morning about the Wisconsin DNR cracking down on nudists. It seems the nudists are having sex in various public places (you know, the beach, the woods, sand bars…) and exposing themselves to passing canoeists. It’s been a problem for decades and has resulted in bans on nudity on public land, lawsuits and even a pastor protesting at the beach.
Here’s the best part of the article:
“They were having sex right on the islands, the sandbars, when the river was lower,” said Ruth Bender, who owns property directly across the river from the beach. “People can’t understand something like that is going on. That’s a nice section of the river. I don’t know what fun they get out of that.” (emphasis mine)
Um… they’re having sex. I’m pretty sure that’s the fun they get out of it.
Second best part of the article? The offending beach is in Mazomanie, Wis., which is where we got our dog, Mazie, and then named her after the town. My dog is named after an infamous nudist beach town (in Wisconsin of all places).
It started just before Christmas. I had a small stash of Legos in an old cigar box in my office. I haven’t played with them a in a while, but for some reason they came out and Lexi was playing with them. But we needed more.
Then Abby brought home a bucket from school, several hundred bricks. That’s when the addiction set in. It was enough to start building, but not enough to actually create anything. We didn’t have enough of one color or enough of the right pieces.
At Christmas just about everybody in the family got Legos. We spent most of our Christmas money buying more Legos online and by January we had to start sorting our Legos by color.
I came across this ad on the MPR site today (specifically the Newscut blog) and I couldn’t help but click. I mean, c’mon. All that’s missing is a cartoon bear ready to snack on those yummy kids.
Sadly the site the ad linked to wasn’t as compelling. It was for the Gunflint Trail Association’s canoe trips. A similarly styled graphic on the site linked to a PDF with details on upcoming workshops for family canoe trips.
Sadly, no immediate answer to the pressing question of whether or not my children will be eaten by bears.
Props for some engaging advertising. But the lack of follow through is kind of lame. If you’re going to take an edgy approach like this, you have to go all out.
I’ve talked about my love/hate relationship with video games before. I tend to get addicted and slip into a self-destructive cycle where I put off important responsibilities and make excuses just to play some more. I did that quite a bit during my freshman year of college with Duke Nuke ‘Em 3D. I played so much that while walking down the hallway at school I’d look for sniper positions and think about kicking in a vent and crawling through the passage. Similar things would happen when we played GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64.
I’ve mostly left video games behind to avoid this addictive behavior, but every now and then I give in and have a little fun. Like last month when I went back to my childhood game of Pirates!
It all started, oddly enough, with the Earthquake in Haiti. As I was looking at a map of Haiti, I suddenly remembered the exact coastline of the country thanks to hours spent playing the Commodore 64 strategy classic, Pirates! You played the role of a pirate in the game (duh) commanding your ship as you sailed across the Caribbean. Much of the Caribbean became familiar to me, including the coastline of Haiti and that rare enclave of French colonies (including Leogane, which is a little odd because that’s where my church’s sister parish is based).
More than just a resurgence of the yo-yo (can I claim to be ahead of the trend?), this is my old yo-yo buddy making it big (if you consider “big” to be featured on yo-yo packaging and in a video loop in an aisle of Walgreens stores across the country). Adam is the guy who taught me how to yo-yo when we were both Petra-loving, Christian T-shirt-wearing geeks. We had a yo-yo ministry in high school (that was even featured in the Detroit Free Press, complete with crazy cool photo). He taught me how to do street performing in Chicago, which made a crazy summer adventure even crazier. He was in my wedding and I was in his.
So you can understand why I think it’s pretty cool to see my friend on the packaging of a yo-yo. I think it’s so cool I bought four of ’em.
You can see more of Adam in action at YoTricks.com. And check out the yo-yos. $3.99 is dirt cheap for ball bearing yo-yos (back in the day we paid at least $20) and they work pretty good.
Fun fact: Adam and I had the chance to be yo-yo pros back in 1998. As I recall, the Yomega corporation offered us something like $20,000 to be their touring yo-yo pros. Being a freshman in college, that was the equivalent of a year’s tuition and not tempting enough to get us to drop out and become professional yo-yoers (besides, I don’t think I was ever that good). It’s cool to see Adam still chasing the dream.
For those who don’t know, I have a long history with yo-yo’s, going back to a high school yo-yo ministry. I also spent a summer as a yo-yoing street performer, which paid the bills (sort of) while I worked the unpaid internship that really started my career (a story explained on the little cards I included with the yo-yo’s). We even gave away yo-yo’s at our wedding. Needless to say, I’ve wanted to get Monkey Outta Nowhere yo-yo’s since I started the company. It’s a testament to my frugality that I waited this long.
This video is awesome. A friend of mine has been rocking a mullet for charity. He somehow finagled a test drive in a 2010 Camaro with the designer, Tom Peters. Hilariousness ensues.
Read more about the test drive and consider supporting the Camaro drive. That brave mulleted American edited the video for my water walk and helping him score a Camaro for charity is the least I can do.
(If that video isn’t working, you can also watch on Vimeo.)
After vaporizing water a week or so back I thought I should try another cold weather science experiment. This time? Freezing bubbles. It was only -7 this morning when I tried it, so not as cold as it could be. But the bubbles still froze.
It’s hard to see from the video, but when my dog Mazie bites the bubble, you can hear a distinctive crunch. Frozen bubbles.
For best results, blow bubbles upwards so they have more time to freeze. The frozen bubbles are like thin gossamer cellophane and are very fragile, usually shattering on impact, so it’s hard to get a good picture. Plus, floating bubbles aren’t exactly easy to photograph in the first place. Also, the colder, the better. I imagine doing this at night would have been better, both for pictures and faster freezing bubbles.