Archive for March, 2010

The Learning Channel?

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

For the last couple of weeks, TLC has been heavily promoting their new show: “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” We always see the ads for it while we’re watching our favorite show, “What Not to Wear,” on Friday nights. After seeing yet another ad for the hoarding show, Jennifer asked, “Who would want to watch that?”

That’s a good question. Who would watch a show knowing that the point of the program is to be dragged through another person’s emotional pain?

But if watching someone who hasn’t thrown out a Styrofoam container for years isn’t painful enough, then tune back into TLC on Wednesday night for “Addicted,” a documentary-style series that takes us into the lives of people who are no longer able to function because of their drug and alcohol addictions. If that doesn’t take you close enough to death, there’s “One Big Happy Family” about a morbidly obese family of four. Compared to “Addicted,” this show seems like a sit-com.

TLC fills out its schedule with “19 Kids and Counting,” the head-to-toe tattooed group on “LA Ink,” creepy exploitation of little girls on “Toddlers and Tiaras,” and three different shows about little people.

Given that TLC is an acronym for “The Learning Channel,” I’m sure that they would defend their programming as educational. I’m all for gaining a greater understanding about people who are different than me but the subject matter on TLC seems to have more in common with the freak shows of PT Barnum than performing a public service. In different terms, the titles of their shows could read just like a sideshow marquis: “See the Tattooed Woman, the Fat Lady and the World’s Smallest Man.”

When do these programs cease to treat the people in them with compassion and cross the line into exploitation? Perhaps TLC no longer stands for “The Learning Channel,” but instead, “The Leering Channel.”

Queen for a Day at Nordstrom Rack

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I hit the jackpot yesterday in the shoe department at Nordstrom Rack in San Francisco. In a matter of ten minutes, I scored three pairs off the clearance rack: shoes that were originally $89, marked down to $49.90 for the Rack store, and then on clearance for 75% off the last price.

I kept hearing a commercial in my head spoken in very serious tones by a deep-voiced announcer: “For the price of two Venti Frappuccinos, you too could be wearing BCBG pumps.”

Even after my instant success in the clearance shoes, I wasn’t stopping there. After all, my daughters and I had planned this trip into the City for weeks and even a massive anti-war protest at the Civic Center wasn’t going to prevent us from reaching the south-of-market Nordstrom Rack store. I still had three more aisles and rows upon rows of shoes to check out.

There is definitely an element of luck involved in shopping at a Rack. And yesterday, lady luck ““ thankfully not Lady Gaga”¦she would have wanted those horrible fuchsia platforms ““ was with me in the shoe department. As I made my way methodically along the racks of Size 6½, I slipped on black ballet flats, turquoise wedges, snakeskin pumps, red peep-toe kitten heels, gold gladiator sandals and silver Nike trainers. I could do no wrong. Everything fit”¦at one point I probably had 12 different shoes in my basket.

I need more shoes now that I am working in a professional environment outside of the house but I’m not Imelda Marcos.

So with some input from my daughters, I started eliminating shoes to narrow it down to the ones that I thought I would wear the most, were the most comfortable and the best value for the money.

I have never bought six pairs of shoes at once in my life and I may never again. But Nordstrom shoes at an average cost of $25 a pair? The deals were just too good to pass up.

I’ll definitely be putting my best feet forward for some time to come.

Daylight Raving Time

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

I have to agree with what the wise old Indian had to say about Daylight Saving Time, “Only a white man would cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it on the bottom and think that would make a longer blanket.”

Daylight Saving Time has never made sense to me. Isn’t time based on something bigger than us, like when the sun is directly overhead at noon at the Greenwich meridian? It seems like human whimsy that we can decide that what is noon should now become 1:00 as of the second Saturday in March.

And although DST only shifts time an hour, it seems like a slippery slope. Why don’t we move the equinoxes ““ they are also based on the movement of the sun ““ to make the summers longer and the winters shorter.

I’m thinking I’ll institute BST ““ that stands for Birthday Saving Time. On my next birthday, I’m going to move the year I was born forward by one number just like we do with the clocks. And voila, I’m a year younger. 

I understand there were legitimate reasons why DST was initially adopted, and then re-adopted. It was done to conserve coal and other resources in WWI. However, it had been so unpopular that following the war it was repealed until WWII when it was put into effect year-round until the end of the war in 1945.

Until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act was put in place, some states observed DST and some didn’t. Which is pretty much just like it is today; Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t have DST.

I have often wondered how people in Arizona deal with being the mainland holdout to DST. Do the signals that reset our cell phones know to skip over that state ““ except for the Navajo Indian Reservation which does observe DST. (I guess they didn’t hear the joke.) Or when the bars close in Arizona, do patrons high-tail it across the state line into Nevada to find a saloon that’s still open?

I guess I just don’t like someone else deciding messing around with something as precious as time. After all, it’s the one thing in life that we are always in need of more of.

And right now, I’d really like to get back that hour of sleep that we lost last night.

Help for Haiti with Buckets of Hope

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

When a natural disaster such as the earthquake in Haiti occurs, I have an impulse to want to help. But I also want to know that any donation I make is really going to the people who need it. I guess I’m just not comfortable with texting money into cyberspace and not knowing precisely where it lands.

That’s why I really appreciate the Buckets of Hope program. It is a very tangible effort to help survivors of the Haitian earthquake that our church, Petaluma Valley Baptist, is participating in.

The Buckets of Hope are five-gallon white buckets with a handle that are filled with a very specific list of food staples, such as cooking oil, dry black beans, rice, sugar, peanut butter and flour. Once the food has been consumed, the bucket itself will be a useful item.

Every bucket is to be exactly alike to minimize problems with US and Haitian customs officials. And much thought was given by the originators of the project regarding what to include and how to pack it. Never mind including treats; every square inch of space in the bucket is taken up with these basics for survival. In fact, very specific directions must be followed in order to fit all the items into the bucket.

The cost to purchase the food for the bucket is about $30 and the buckets’ contents will feed a Haitian family for a week. It is also asked that a cash contribution of $10 is enclosed to help pay for the shipping cost. Fully packed, the bucket weights about 30 pounds.

The buckets from our church will be shipped this week to a church in Sacramento that is the collection point for all buckets from Northern California Southern Baptist churches. From there, they will be shipped to a warehouse in Florida and eventually loaded onto cargo containers for shipment to Haiti.

I picked up the list of items for the bucket and I planned to buy them on one of my frequent trips to the grocery store. However, it turned out that a couple of the items such as the 20 ounce cylinder of sugar were hard to find. So a group of women from the church kindly offered to do the shopping and packing for those of us short on time ““ all we needed to do was write a check.

I can’t imagine what life in Haiti is like now. But I pray that receiving a bucket of provisions does just what the name says, and gives the family who receives it some hope.