I bought a yoga ball the other day, to replace my chair with. I had heard they are good for posture, core strength, and kind of fun. So I got it, and I noticed on the box it was labeled “Burst Resistant” and I simultaneously thought “Awesome” and “Fooey”. Because I have the ability to think many things at the same time, which does get a little confusing.???
So when I got home and inflated it with the handy dandy little air pump that came in the box, I was overcome with the smell of the thing. I mean, it didn’t smell bad or anything, but just weird mix of rubber, mothballs, and something else. I suspect the makers package it with the gym smell pre-imbedded, so people who buy them for installation in a workout area aren’t wierded out by something that doesn’t smell terrible. In short, it’s a blast to sit on when doing anything, and I recommend it to anyone who sits at a desk for an extended period of time. I never knew that sitting down could be so exhausting. You can bounce on it, roll around, topple off it hilariously and giggle in a heap afterward. I’m not saying I did that, but I can vouch that it’s possible.
Then, while rummaging around my closet the other day, I spied the box the ball came in. The “Burst Resistant” labeling stood out at me again, and as I stared at the box, for about 10 minutes (I can neither confirm nor deny mind altering substances were in use) I took it as a challenge. “Alright, Bally Total Fitness 75 centimeter exercise ball,” I muttered, “we’ll see about this.” I threw a book at it, which bounced back onto my foot, which hurt. It was a big book.
One of my tools to destroy the ball
And from there I began to whale on the damn thing. When before I would absently bounce up and down when watching TV or writing or surfing the Internets, now I began to bounce as high as I could. I began to use it as a large soccer ball. Incidentally, it’s amazing how far the ball bounces, and how much destruction it can cause. In a short time I had broken a light, a small terra cotta warrior, three glasses, and nearly knocked my TV off the box it sits on like eight times. I’ve thrown it out the window a couple times, but all that happened there was I hit a bird on the bounce, which was kind of impressive. I’ve contemplated poking it with stuff, but that feels like cheating, right? I feel like only concussive force can be used in this “science” quest. But the damn thing continues to not break. I am impressed with these Bally’s people. I must call their scientists, because this strangely scented polymer they’ve made the ball out of is seemingly invincible. Maybe a fat guy could help me.
I’ve tried rolling over sharp stuff, because that’s just incidental action when it comes to rolling around, but the thing is amazing in its resiliency. I even used it as a weapon against my little brother, but again its bounciness struck back at me, hitting me in the belly. Perhaps if I knew karate, I could chop it in half. But alas, I don’t have the time to spend years in the Orient learning from the Shaolin masters. I have a yoga ball to pop. I hit it with a hammer a couple times, but nothing. Really, I am at the end of my rope. I’ve been throwing playing cards at it the last couple hours in hopes paper cuts will wear away at it, but so far nothing. Maybe if we lived somewhere near trains, I could put it on a train track. But I have a sneaking suspicion it would just make the train derail, and I’d be back to square one. Maybe even square zero, because I’d have to deal with a derailed train.
If you have suggestions for me, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can find success, and kick this stupid, core solidifying, good time creating, son of a bitch back to where it came from, or at least assert our dominance as human beings over it. I’ll not be stopped by this inanimate object. I’m better than that. Maybe I’ll try running it over with my car.
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“Convergence is everywhere. It’s easier than ever to reach a large audience, but harder than ever to really connect with it. These changes are affecting the way people behave. Are you ready for the future?”
This follow up version to “Shift Happens” has been viewed 1.7 million times on YouTube since September ’09.
Some facts from the video you might find interesting:
The average American sends 2,272 text messages per month
Nokia manufactures 13 phones every second
93% of U.S. adults own a cell phone
90% of the 200 billion emails sent every day are spam
“The computer in your cell phone today is a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful and about a hundred thousand times smaller (than the one computer at MIT in 1965).”
Perhaps I am like some people, enticed by exotic foreign lands, their landscapes, language, culture and food. Those that know me know I advocate travel, learning other languages, and exploring cultures other than one’s own. I’ve been blessed with the opportunities to live in Madrid and Paris while in college and with a husband who enjoys learning and exploring the world as much as I. In our two years of marriage we have been able to immerse ourselves eight countries. I say immerse because we don’t normally approach travel as typical tourists- we try our best to experience a place at the local level. As a Spanish teacher, most of my year is dedicated to language instruction and sharing my experiences with students, in order to spark their curiosity of life and what’s outside their small Connecticut town. To some extent, I’ve been successful. Yet this aching frustration has been building over the years regarding the motivation behind my primary objective of travel, which is to go to a place where life is better enjoyed by its people. My frustration lies in the fact that for the most part, it seems like not many people, including myself, were enjoying life. Occasionally, we had a good weekend, got to escape to the glitz and glam of NYC or Boston, perhaps relax on the beaches of Rhode Island, or catch up with friends. Yet on a daily basis, I felt a sense of angst, discontent and unhappiness. My Nonni always said that she loved America, that there was no place better to live, yet I found myself gazing at the pictures in the textbooks I was teaching from, wishing I was there instead. I felt terrible that I could not see the beauty in this country that she saw. Perhaps it’s easy to imagine given the dismal economy, less than admirable morals, constant news about war, debt, weather, growing health problems- you name it and I felt old beyond my years. I have thought several times of moving to another country, to live in a place that values life, human connectedness and the land from which we live, yet I always kept her words close by- America is the best.
About six months ago my husband and I had a talk which discussed all these things, for he too was feeling some of the frustrations with life. Already in an environmental career, he decided that cleaning up messes of our corporations abusive practices, was too little too late and wanted to change his career to something more proactive. After much debate and evenings that mimicked “pin the tail on the donkey”, we finally decided that Denver, Colorado had an established solar industry that would allow him to begin his career transition, while incorporating many elements of life that worked for the two of us. He came out here in May to start his internship, while I was begrudged to complete the school year back in Connecticut.
I’ve been here for a month now and I cannot describe shift that has occurred in me. It seems like the “high stakes” lifestyle back East, surrounded by the epicenters of financial meltdown, dismal home sales, exorbitant prices and constant traffic, made me lose sight of what this country has to offer. Places I’ve seen here rival those in Europe or Central America and they are right here in the United States. So that got me wondering- why is Denver, or Colorado for that matter, so different from home? Was it just the change from the normal routine? Was it the sun? The lack of humidity? Surely I couldn’t be this peaceful just based on weather. So is it the fact that it’s so vast here and that you can physically see the beauty of this country outside your window, even if that window is from a completely modern industrial loft at the pulse of downtown? I think it is.
With the mountains normally within eye-shot, one constantly feels small compared to the massive ridges of those majestic Rocky Mountains. Take a short drive outside the city and have a 360 degree view that spans one hundred miles around. The landscapes here make it evident just how small we are. And it’s not a small of weakness, of fear, or lack of importance- it’s a small of insurmountable beauty and peace. There is utter serenity and quiet.
I find it amazing that so much of modern life has gotten away from existence at its core. We have placed so much emphasis on money and the accumulation of things, useless stuff, that we have destroyed much of the natural beauty of this country and ourselves as a result. We have forgotten what it’s like to be human, to show compassion and not just for each other but for our planet, for the awesome beauty Mother Nature has created and how much diversity this country truly has.
While I can theorize, research and argue how and why our country has gotten into the terrible mess that it is in today and the numerous ways that are possible for us to refocus our future, I will not delve into that. But what I would encourage someone to do who doubts the sincerity of my words is to truly disconnect and escape, whether that’s your backyard, a weekend trip or something of a larger scale and truly pay attention to the beauty that surrounds you. In certain areas, feelings of “this would be prettier if…” statements, due to the contamination, pollution and lack of respect modern man has for nature, are bound to happen. In those cases- do something about it! We still have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to restore our country, both financially and environmentally, if people start making the right decisions. Wouldn’t life be so much better if we liked where we lived and found it beautiful? If we respected our surroundings and each other? If we thought about all the true costs involved before making decisions? Before wasting? Before we ate badly? Before we came up with excuses not to exercise? Before we ignored people? Before we thought we were bigger or more important than we really are? We’re always striving for happiness and many never seem to find it. I think that speaks volumes about the way our society is living and the values it holds. Fundamentally, perhaps biologically, it’s because we know our actions, in trying to get ahead, are destroying our inner peace and the world we need to live. Once you see the beauty, the peace, the awe this country has to offer, I would hope that you would make better decisions in trying to restore and preserve it in your daily lives. I am grateful that I finally agree with the words my Nonni spoke, that America is in fact, beautiful. If we keep that beauty at the forefront of our minds, I am confident that we can not only “bounce back” from these dark times, but we can prosper- environmentally, financially and spiritually.
So last night I watched Michael Moore’s newest offering, Capitalism, A Love Story. Before I go any further, I know what hearing Mr. Moore’s name does to people, either they say “FUCK YEAH!” or “Dirty Commie.” He is not a moderate by any means, but then, he isn’t really a left-winger either. I had been meaning to watch it, and am really glad I got around to it. If you get a chance, it streams off of Netflix, so find your closest friend with said service and exploit them.
Anyway, simply put, it was a provocative movie. Mr. Moore has never been a big fan of big business, dating back to his first movie Roger and Me, when he tried to get an interview with the then CEO of General Motors Smith, who had shut down factories in Flint, Michigan, Moore’s home town. Incidentally, GM also started there, but that’s beside the point. So I watch this movie ,and the first half is a combination of showing how good the US had it in the middle of the last century, mainly because we had bombed our main competition (Germany and Japan) into oblivion. I’m not mad about that, they were evil regimes based on racism and abuse, and had no place in the modern world. But this movie got me thinking. One major point it made was how Ronald Reagan was nothing more than a spokesman for the banks, how he was essentially elected so banking and rich people could have a better life. Keep in mind that up until the 80’s, people considered rich (figure over $250000 a year) were being taxed at 90%, and still lived like kings. This left the idea of the American Dream open for anyone, because the playing field was relatively leveled due to regulation of various industries and the existence of unions and whatnot. Reagan broke these unions, starting with the air traffic controllers and moving through to auto workers and all that jazz. Also, did you know that pilots these days make less than $30,000 a year on average? AND they fly our planes.
Anyway, Moore spent most of the movie showing how capitalism is a good thing when controlled, and then was broken when the fatcats got their guy in power. Tax cuts and the idea of “home equity” to get you to buy yourself out of your house through loans and all that are all touchstones, and Jimmy Carter giving a speech in the late 70’s about how “what you have is more important than who you are” really struck a chord with me. Now, capitalism is a good theory, but really, the fact that it has become the overarching, controlling interest in our country, is really kind of messed up. Nowhere in our Constitution, Bill of Rights, or Declaration of Independence does it say that we must be a capitalist country. The only unalienable rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, nowhere does this include getting paid. Sure, people will say that they changed it from profit to happiness, but that’s what the Declaration says, so I’m sticking to it. But the basis of what Mr. Moore was saying, through the movie, was that democracy must prevail. That is the basis of the United States, right? We all get one vote, despite what Citigroup wants
We need to get back to this democracy. No longer should there be CEO’s that make 450% (on average) of what the average wage is in the United States. FDR had a great idea for a Second Bill of Rights. This has to come back, and we must be the change we want to see. Obama is a nice start, but the banks have too much power right now to do anything. And really, I don’t have an answer other than abolishing everything and starting anew. I want your feedback too. Say something, because otherwise I look like a crazy guy who wants to bring socialism and evil to our glorious nation. I am the first guy to defend America, because she’s a beautiful place that’s given us all, if nothing else, the access to a computer and the leisure time to cruise sites like this. But give me a hand here. I want to do something, but I’m one man, albeit loud, and only have one vote.
Obama said a lot about change, and hasn’t done much, because he’s beholden to certain people. That’s no reason to dog on him. He’s doing what he can, I would hope. vBut even though we have all grown up in various forms of privilege, there are people who have worked their entire lives, and I mean like 45 years (longer than most of us have even been a twinkle in our parents’ eyes) who are having their homes taken away because of predatory lending. We have poison in the gulf, we have caving in mines, we have a broken economy and broken levies, because the business came first. Read that memo from Citigroup I linked to, and remember the word PLUTONOMY. We like it here, right? America doesn’t need a savior, we need SAVIORS.
Like Jimmy Carter said, we need to move past conspicuous consumption and understand what we truely need to survive. My friend Dan is walking the Appalachian Trail, and has less than 30 pounds on him at any given time. Do we need all this stuff we have?
So I’ve lost myself, but the basis of this is understanding that the man next to you, regardless of how he smells or what he’s driving or who he is, matters just as much as you do. Don’t fuck him (or her) over because it will make you that much better. Capitalism is not the answer, democracy is. Capitalism should be a child of democracy, and not the controlling interest. Tea Partiers are against big government and so am I, but the shitty fact of it all is that that’s what is going to save us. Let me know what you think.
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