Friday, February 22, 2008

The Evolution of the Sleepover

So when I was ten, I realized that there would be a point in my life when I would no longer go to sleepovers...those crazy fun girly, "truth or dare playing, movie-watching, staying-up-until-3-and- trying-not-to-be-the-first person-to-fall-asleep" events. I figured the cut-off would be around 13 or 14. And apparently, I was dead wrong.

Last night, as a matter of fact, I went to the second of a series of 'girls' nights' that some of my friends from church decided to implement last October. In a lot of ways, both this sleepover and the one previous resembled the sleepovers of yesteryear: movies, junkfood, talking about guys and life and everything else, finding that anything and everything at 2 o'clock in the morning is funny, and hearing weird noises at night. However, there are some interesting developments in the sleepover department that have been changed both by age and by the slow decay of time in general:

1) The sleepover world has been changed dramatically by technology. We no longer watched old VHS's, but DVDs on Emma's massive television with surround sound. We also had cell phones, and we texted or called 50 people that night. I counted. In the morning, we weren't woken up by a clock or a parent, it was someone's cell phone that was ringing. And, once we woke up, the first thing we did was check our emails and facebook.
2) We have become a lot smarter over the years -- instead of shooting straight for truth or dare, we checked out the lunar eclipse and we spent 2 1/2 hours figuring out a bunch of riddles that Emma had stored away in her memory. As an added technology change, Derek (Loralee's amigo) was on speakerphone trying to figure them out with us.
3) We have become more vain over the years...before going to bed, it wasn't just brushing teeth that was essential. It was all about taking out contacts and getting rid of makeup. And throughout, there were pictures being taken by random cameras, so one of us was always posing.
4) I drove myself home. Weird!

So I have to say, it was a different experience, but still amazingly fun. Sleepovers are a changing event in a changing world...and if they've changed this much in five years, I wonder what they'll be like in the next five.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Adding my 2 Cents to the Footprint Debate

I read an article in Nature today called "Fears for Oldest Human Footprints: Fossilized Tracks Pose Preservation Puzzle." This article made me laugh, cry -- mostly cry laughing -- and shake my head in disbelief. It was the sea of questions and general thoughts that flooded my mind about this unusual dilemma that brought on these emotions.

1) This article's big idea is the conflict scientists are having about how to preserve a 3-million year old footprint. The reason for the sudden threat to the footprints? Local vegetation. Can't they just get little Billy Joe to spritz some Weed B Gone?

2) Why are we still preserving this footprint? What could we possibly get out of it other than its dimensions, which I'm sure we took when we found it in 1973? "Ah, yes, we've come to the conclusion that the ancient hominid had 5 toes, rough soles and an arch support problem."

3) The article says that the footprint was made in volcanic ash. This proves that the hominid was a guy. No girl in her right mind would be silly enough to walk barefoot in volcanic ash.

Feet. Huh.

What Goes Around...Comes Around?

Have you ever had one of those days when your life feels absolutely amazing but everyone else's is horrible? That is what happened to me today. Amazing day. Great classes, got what I needed to get finished done, had time to relax...

Everyone else seems to be hating life and losing their minds, though. This is problematic. I have no one to share my joy with! I have no fellow Friday-lovers. I've heard crazy stories science teacher made a little girl cry by accident, my friends are failing calculus, we have a massive rainstorm going on and it's 32 degrees outside, midterms are next week...

Man, it's a great day.

Monday, January 7, 2008

There is an old saying that revenge is sweet. I completely disagree with this statement, not only out of principle but also out of personal experience. I have a religious background, so as a youth my parents were always bent on teaching me the importance of Christian values. Turning the other cheek and forgiveness were always principles by which I was taught to live. “Revenge is not a good thing,” they would tell me. “Seeking revenge when something goes wrong will only make you unhappy.”

My parents were right. However, as an adventurous and often mischievous youth, I suppose that I was not so quick to obey their counsel. It was not until I made my first attempt at seeking revenge that the true meaning of this idea was driven home.

My sister and best friend Ashlee was a shrewd trader in her young age, and being three years older than I was, she had a definite advantage whenever she and I made our special ‘candy trades’ at Halloween and Easter. It was an annual tradition for the two of us to take our sweets out of our brightly colored baskets, and then to barter: M&Ms for snickers, Reese’s cups for Smarties. During this particular year’s Easter hunt, Ashlee had accumulated an unusually large amount of jellybeans, most of which were licorice flavored.

No child likes licorice-flavored jellybeans.

At the beginning of the trade, Ashlee decided to offer me what she dubbed the “deal of a lifetime.” She said, “El, if you give me just ONE of your snickers bars, I will give you TEN whole jellybeans!”

I was astonished. A ten-for-one deal was mind-blowing to a 5-year old like me, and I felt that I would be an idiot to pass it up. We sealed the deal instantly.

Not surprisingly, this proposal “of a lifetime” was followed up by six similar offers, all of which I accepted with glee. By the end of the trade, Ashlee had a heavenly stash of every chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled candy in creation. I had a mountain of jellybeans, most of which were licorice-flavored.

No child likes licorice-flavored jellybeans!

Obviously this injustice called for action on my part. I knew that ‘sweet revenge’ would best compensate for the bitter-tasting licorice jellybeans in my pile.

The next day, I pulled out a red crayon, a piece of computer paper and a stick of Elmer’s glue, awkwardly scribbled the words “FoR SaiL” on the paper, and placed the sign in front of my prized pile of Beanie Babies. My Beanie Baby collection had been carefully built up over the past few months in the form of birthday gifts and Christmas presents, until about a dozen sat peacefully on my nightstand. I had recently discovered that my sister had an interest in them, and I knew that she had a lot of money to spend. I had a plan to sell my Beanie Babies at inflated prices, knowing that the small stuffed animal craze would soon be over, just like the Furby craze and the Tamagotchi fad of the early 90s. I could use the money to buy cooler things, and Ashlee would end up with worthless palm-sized Dalmatians and unicorns. Once I reflected over the genius of my plan, my first evil cackle escaped from my lips.

Ashlee came into the room a few moments later as I sat on a chair, adjusting one of the tentacles of Opie the Octopus. Surprised that I was offering to sell my special collection, Ashlee offered one dollar for the lot. I shook my head no. Ashlee thought for a moment, somewhat surprised that I was bargaining with her, and she made a new offer. “How about 12 cents for each animal? That’s $1.44!”

Again, I refused. I informed her that I would not accept anything lower than $5 per animal, not including tax.

We bargained back and forth for several minutes, Ashlee demanding $1.50 for the lot, me lowering my demands to $4…her raising her price to $1.55, me lowering my demands to $3. After the third minute of debate I was tired of arguing and, wanting to go downstairs for some pretzels, I let her take the animals for her final offer of $2.40.

The next week, I was $2.30 richer (I lost a dime somewhere along the way) and Ashlee had 12 shiny Beanie Babies. I still thought that I was rich, until I went to the store and found that even the cheapest Beanie Baby was four times the price that Ashlee had given me for 12. I could only mutter under my breath and buy a bag of a cool-looking candy called Twizzlers, assuming that the Beanie Baby trend would soon end and Ashlee’s gain would no longer matter. On the car ride home, I discovered to my utter horror that Twizzlers were licorice flavored.

The Beanie Baby craze, I would later find out, became the greatest of all kid crazes, and it lasted for the duration of my 6-year elementary school career. Fortunately, Ashlee would let me play with the furry friends whenever I wanted. However, I was no longer their owner, and as such my reputation among my young colleagues as a Beanie Baby connoisseur was ruined. In addition, I came to realize that during the period of time I had been jealous of Ashlee, my real loss was not the Beanie Babies or the was our damaged friendship. We had not played together during all the time I was seeking revenge. She may have been a crooked seller, but she was my sister, and I was wrong to let jellybeans come between us.

Since my experience in the Beanie Baby seller’s market, I have found myself in more serious situations where I have felt mistreated or victimized. However, I am proud to say that I have not made further attempts at revenge, and I have become a better person for it. I know that whatever damage I cause someone else in taking revenge, the pain I cause myself is worse. Revenge is not sweet. It is bitter and a licorice-flavored jellybean.

Nobody likes licorice-flavored jellybeans.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I was thinking really hard about some resolutions at about 2 AM on January 1. I was blinking at the last page of my journal thinking, "Come on, all you need is a list of about 5 or 6 things to finish the page!"

But I couldn't think of anything. Not a single thing.

That part of my journal is still blank.

I don't think that the problem is that I can't find anything about myself to improve. I could exercise more, eat better, procrastinate less...but I've come to realize that I'm just too lazy right now to commit to these things. Why make goals to run half marathons in the middle of winter? Why choose to procrastinate less when facebook and this blog are such fun distractions? I guess that I where I am at the moment.

By February I'll think of some good resolutions. But for now, I'm resolving to get myself a peanut butter sandwich and some hot chocolate. That's where true happiness lies.

Mitt and Mick...

I really hope that Mitt Romney takes New Hampshire.

Now after seeing the New Hampshire debates last night, you might consider me a strange person to like Romney as a candidate. We all know that Romney is prone to putting out negative ads, usually against different policies but in some cases against people personally. Let's also not forget the fact that Romney has changed some of his views on the issues.

But let me make one thing clear. Every candidate has put out the same negative garbage that Mitt has put out; Mitt has just gotten more credit for it because he has the most money to play with. However, if McCain had the same amount of money Romney has, he would probably produce as many ads as Mitt has. Now, I don't think that Romney's negative ads make him a better person; I am a member of the LDS church like Romney and I don't think he should be running negative ads because it isn't Christian. He should be above those things. Since everybody else is doing it, however, I've got to choose a candidate based on his ideas and not on their personal attacking method.

Of course, what I will not stand for is attacking someone at a live debate. That is a different story. To spend time attacking someone's character when someone has asked you about your personal views and policies is rude to the asker. Romney did a little of that, but Huckabee and McCain spent most of their time doing it on Saturday. They played victims of Romney and they didn't spend nearly enough time on the issues.

It is for this reason that I'd like to step aside from the Romney negative side and show what I like about him. I like that Romney has a plan -- an actual plan -- about how to solve the healthcare crisis. He's even tested that plan in his state and it has been very successful. He is the only republican with real marketing/business experience. In a nation with underfunding for education, inflation and a reeling economy in general, we need a guy who can understand what's going on and fix it. I like Romney's immigration policy. It's hard-line, I know, but it's the fairest idea out there. Let the legal immigrants who have been waiting around go first and have the illegal people go back to their countries and wait in line. Fred Thompson (who performed well last night) put it best with his ideas of immigration reform 'by attrition.' We take out these guys over time, enforcing our laws, not giving them the 'slap on the wrist' that a fine is.

Well, I doubt that Romney will win, but it's unfortunate that he's losing because we could use a guy like him in the USA. In any case, Romney would make an amazing VP, so I suggest that any candidates reading my blog take him into consideration. With Romney, he'd have my vote.