Monday, July 4, 2016

The Fireworks are Symbolic

I used to love going to my hometown’s huge community fireworks display, held at the York Fairgrounds. Almost everyone in town turned up for the event—they even had a live orchestra playing music timed to accompany the show. It was a memorable and fun way to spend the evening of the Fourth of July.

As an adult living in a home-fireworks friendly state, I’ve come to actively dread the Fourth of July, and not just because I don’t look quite the same in a star-spangled bikini as I did back them. No, it’s because home fireworks are hugely popular in Florida, at least where I live. I also have a small dog who will under no circumstances go (or make her business) outside while these things are going off. I can’t say as I blame her, actually. If that ruckus were in my bathroom I’d have issues too. I’ve had her for eight years, and it used to be okay. I just had to plan ahead, take her out a half hour or so before dark, and pick up the water bowl for the night. The sounds may have lasted a bit past my ideal bedtime on the Fourth, but no big deal. I’m all for celebrating America.

But each year the madness spreads. Much like Black Friday used to last one day and now begins somewhere around Halloween, the Fourth of July apparently now also includes June 30, July 1, July 2, July 3 (in a major way), and July 5. What was once an after-dark occurrence is now an anytime of the day or night free for all. I actually had to listen and wait for a chance to take my dog back out on the morning of July 1. At 8:15 AM.

I posted an angry FB rant about the pyromaniacal idiots who apparently needed so much practice operating matches that they needed to start three full days early. The shared virtual outrage was nice, but it didn’t actually solve my practical problem.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not really about my dog. The fireworks are symbolic. They were once symbolic of freedom and the best of what it means to be America. But in recent years, at least for home use, they’ve been perverted into a symbol of something else—the worst of what it means to be America. Individualism is something I really believe in, but the older I get the more I don’t believe in individuals’ rights above everything else.

The folks I’m complaining about want to set off fireworks, at any hour of the day or night for almost a week. So they do. But what about the infants and young children who can’t sleep—and their stressed-out parents? What about the people with PTSD? It’s well documented that fireworks often trigger PTSD. There are many places online that offer signs that state Combat Veteran Lives Here—Please be Courteous With Fireworks. But the noise travels so far, how in the world would such a sign be any help at all? Much like cigarette smoke in a “smoking section”—the sounds of fireworks simply cannot be contained by a sign or the border of a property. There’s a sad irony to the fact that so many veterans may be upset given the reason folks are supposedly celebrating this holiday to begin with.

I also can’t forget, much further down on the list, fireworks also cause issues for so many pets that are afraid of them. More dogs and cats go missing on July 4 than any other day of the year.

So why are home fireworks legal? Because enough citizens of this great state like them. The ones setting them off for a solid week, during the day or very late at night do not seem to care about any of the groups I mentioned. But, I would argue, they should. In our current American cultural ethos, what I want to do trumps what other people may need. Every time.  But especially on a holiday that’s about celebrating the community of the United States, how we all came from different places but all live together, how about thinking about what’s right for your neighbors?

Let’s all meet together at our town’s community display. It’s bigger, nicer, and free. It’s better for your neighbors, your community—and your wallet. It’s also much safer. I’d really like to see America be about more than just who has the loudest toy. Freedom is wonderful—but unchecked by courtesy or kindness it’s just one big, loud, mess.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Micro-House Nation!

The tiny house movement is sweeping the nation. If you think you have what it takes to get in on the trend, why not up the ante and go micro? An average tiny house is around 250 square feet. But living micro—at 95 square feet or less—is where true freedom lies. Ditch your stuff, go micro, hit the road—micros can even be towed by a Fiat!—and let the fun and carefree lifestyle wash over you.

Our custom designers and builders will help you realize the micro-home of your dreams.

First things first, planning is important. If you have children, you should immediately stop feeding them vegetables, or really any food with nutritional value at all. In these builds, kids need to be stuffed into what we call a micro-loft, so they really need to stop growing, like yesterday. Next, get rid of almost everything that you own.

Are you starting to get excited? Well, strap in—our innovative designers have come up with some truly brilliant ways to cram everything you need into a microscopic space.

First, you’ve seen beds placed in lofts above the kitchen or living space. These lofted bedrooms boast great amenities like ladder access and ceilings of up to three feet in height. But what a waste of space!

With our new shelf-bed, you can sleep in comfort knowing you are taking up as little space as possible on this great big planet. The metal hooks underneath make for a  great space-saving closet. You can probably keep up to six outfits! It’s a great idea to begin training as an acrobat now if you want to be able to vault onto the bed-shelf from the ground. Going micro means no room for ladders my friend!

Next, check out this micro-sink which actually doubles as a shower, if you just open your mind and shift your perspective on what a shower actually is. If, for example, you imagine that you are a Medieval peasant, having the opportunity to splash clean, fresh water onto your face and body is actually a luxury. And think of the space you’ve saved!

Finally, check out this desk which can double as a bedroom for guests. Simply place a foam pad on the fold-down surface, and viola—space for up to two guests. Obviously if you are going micro, you and all your friends subsist on a strict organic/clean/gluten-free/vegan diet, and you’re all very small. If you have, ahem, larger friends and relatives…it’s called a hotel, am I right? Let those space hogs wallow around in a wasteful hotel room that’s up to four hundred square feet, with its own flushing toilet and tub-shower combo. Animals.

So what do you think? Is going micro the lifestyle for you? Do you feel like a big giant space-waster when you load the dishwasher or take a bath or use the clothes-dryer? Because you should.

Give us a call today at 1-888-GOMICRO.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jane Austen's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a most unusual reindeer may, in fact, come in useful, from time to time. And so it came to pass, a long time ago on a quiet Yuletide eve, in the county of Northlandia, a fledgling reindeer had the great misfortune to be born with a highly unusual nose. This nose, to the great shock of his mother, and the even greater shock of his father—who was often said to be proud nearly to the point of arrogance—was quite, quite red. In addition, the aforementioned facial feature actually glowed. Indeed, no one in the neighborhood could account for such a deformity, and young Rudolph, as he was named, felt himself from the first in great danger of losing the comfort and consequence which would otherwise have been due to him as the sole heir to Mr. Dasher, who had himself for many years enjoyed a high position in the favor of Mr. Santa Claus.

An unfortunate and ill-advised attempt to hide the glowing proboscis served only to highlight how unsuitable poor Rudolph seemed to be to inherit his father’s position. The young deer suffered a not inconsiderable amount of teasing, and was sometimes rudely and with impolitic cruelty excluded from various reindeer games, a loss which Rudolph felt quite keenly, for he was an animal of fine feelings.

It was not until some years had passed that another Yuletide evening dawned, not clear and bright like the night of young Rudoph’s birth, but dark and tempest-tossed. Santa Claus found the prospect of proceeding into the darkness unaided by any light source to be a daunting one. But one felicitous glance at Rudolph convinced him that the instrument of his salvation was very close at hand! Young Rudolph would guide his sleigh that night! And guide he did, his gleaming red olfactory organ yielding sufficient illumination to carry the day. Then, how the other reindeers loved and praised him! They even shouted out with jubilation—and glee.
And so, Rudolph, once a dispirited wretch, found a new purpose in life. Let other pens dwell on misery: Rudloph, with so much true merit and true love, and no want of fortune and friends, and possessed of a skill no other reindeer could boast, passed many a happy year with his furry friends.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wardrobe Essentials-Our Top Five Picks

We asked our fashion editors and staff which pieces they just can’t live without this fall.  These five wardrobe essentials may be an investment, but they’re totally worth it.

1. The perfect plan white-T

“Sure, at $1200.00, it’s at a higher price point than your average tee. But the way you’ll feel when wearing it will completely offset the cost. As a bonus, stains are repelled at the subatomic level. You don’t need to fear a splash of ketchup or an inkblot ruining your perfect white shirt. You own a freaking twelve-hundred dollar t-shirt! Nothing as mundane as a condiment can touch you.”-Ashley Harvest Smythe, Junior Fashion Editor

White tee: The Rowhouse, $1250.00, available in sizes XXS, XS, and S

2. Leather bootës

“If had to identify one “signature piece” in my fashion life, it would be these boots. It’s important to note that these are not really boots, but bootës, which are only crafted in one tiny village in the Swiss Alps, by ancient German cobbler-wizards. Also, the leather is broken in perfectly, and when I wear them I can pretend I’m tall.”-Meike Watershall, Marketing Writer

Rüdesheim Bootës, $9,000.00

3. The perfect leather jacket

“This sumptuous jacket isn’t just something I wear, it’s my soul. I mean that pretty much literally since I sold mine to a mid-level demon to buy it.”-Anjelika Sampson-Posey, Fashion Writer

Leather jacket, Batmain, $29,755.00

4. Hand-knit cardigan

“I live in this sweater every winter. When I meditate every morning, I send a humble blessing to the special ladies in southern Nepal who raised the sheep, worsted the wool, and finally hand-knit this gorgeous winter artifact. I also say “thank you” to the universe that I am lucky enough to own it. #blessed #authentic.”-Remedy Milios, Associate Fashion Editor

Hand-knit cardigan, Christopher Kross, $43,000.00

5. Clown pants

“THESE pants. I adore these vintage clown pants. Every winter I can’t wait to break out these gorgeous pants. I like to pair them with a vintage Chanel blazer. The amount of attention I get out on the streets would absolutely blow your mind.”-Vixen Braxton, Senior Fashion Editor

Vintage Clown pants, on loan from Barnum museum, price upon request

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Challenge Excepted

Terrible grammar, apostrophes used to show a plural... hell in a handbasket, that’s what this world’s coming to. What is a handbasket, you ask? I have no idea—it sounds like a really little basket, making it kind of a strange receptacle for all of hell…or the whole world on its way into hell? This is just a very strange saying, and maybe it should be retired. After all, language is evolving, right?

I actually asked my AP Lang students to blog about this question the other week, and most of them took the approach of focusing on text-speech and other modern methods of lexical shorthand (most were pro-text speak). And then a few days ago I was watching Elementary, about a modern Sherlock Holmes, and he said:
“Language is evolving, Watson, becoming a more effective version of itself. I love text shorthand. It's a way you to convey content and tone without losing velocity.”
Okay, fine, smarty pants. But the scene that preceded this statement involved Watson being unable to read Sherlock's made-up text language. If the other person can’t understand your message, how have you not lost velocity? I for one will admit I have to look up at least one acronym every week or so. Now, I’m not the HBIC of all language, so I’ll go ahead and say ok 2 all the acros.

But now we really need to talk about the real reason no one can have nice things on the internet anymore—and that’s the spelling. I don’t mean spelling as typing tommorow instead of tomorrow. That’s a typo, really. None of the meaning is lost. But lately it seems like everywhere I virtually go there are people who just don't respect homonyms. 

Here’s a reenactment of one of the scariest “heartfelt” responses I’ve seen lately:

Let's put K.C.'s unfortunate use of the word "bowel" down to fish-related grief. 
But: Rest in piece? Really? Pause for five seconds before you hit submit, and I hope to heaven you'll see what’s wrong with this picture. As for hugzz, I guess follow your own conscience on that one. 
You may have noticed I also included my own personal internet-hell meme above, the use—the misuse, actually—of awe. Example: here is a cute puppy:
What we want to say is, “Aw, isn’t he cute?” employing the interjection to indicate our pleasure at the puppy’s level of cuteness. Or if you follow the current trend of more is better, “Awwwwwww, isn’t he cute!?!”
If this puppy is causing you to tremble in awe (noun meaning fear or wonder)—you should probably go outside more.

My other recent favorite showed up on a blog for college students (the blog was linked to an article a friend posted on my FB wall).

The poster (remember: college) was ranting and mentioned that something was “for all intensive purposes” true.

Oh, dear lord. I say, slow down young man. Don’t listen to the American-TV Sherlock Holmes. Velocity should not be your goal. Or, if it is, remember, when you write something like “all intensive purposes,” those of us who still care about the words are always out here, judging you. And we are legion.