Monday, January 3, 2005

Gauging Winter

Grand gap in the living room since D. and I dismantled the Christmas tree earlier today.  Pulled it apart limb by limb by limb, crammed its needle-shedding tangled-ness into the old cardboard box, smacked it all with tape, then lifted it to the attic.  Now I know artificial trees aren't supposed to shed needles, but this one's recycled--the hand-me-down conifer from D.'s former boss back in KC, who'd upgraded to something more grandiose, tall, magnificent.  Free tree.  Tried to unload the tree at the garage sale last summer: ten bucks?  four bucks?  Both yellow stickers still mark the face of the box.  Didn't sell. (If interested, please send email.)

We'll fill the space left behind by pulling up the exercycle from the basement.  Never been resolute enough to keep with all the habit-altering involved at the first of the calendar year (although there was the time...), but I'll hop on the machine a few times throughout the winter, break a sweat, pretend it's not miserable outside.  If not, the work of moving exercise equipment makes up for extended periods of non-use.  Up and down the stairs a few times or across half of the U.S.--punch it in the calorimeter. 

[8:46 p.m.] Whoa! Just about missed Who's Your Daddy? on the Fox Network.  Nah, not really. I wasn't about to watch that crud.  I've felt the hook of reality television at times--rare times, and I know that for a fraction of the amount it would cost to cast David Hasslehoff, the major networks can rustle up an enclave of real people who'll vie shamelessly for a chance at a pot of money.  Dangle the money, attach it to any of life's vexation--housing, smoking, diet, extreme careerism, fear, dating and now absentee parenting: film-edit-air:  wine and cheese parties over the ratings and ad revenue.  Please tell me if it's way more complex than this.  Please. Any more slop on the television and we're all going to need these (via worldchanging).  Except that CNY's been unusually balmy, we might need them anyway (keep warning of winter weather around here...been calling it out for months).  Yet I remain skeptical that the gizmo--for $119--impacts the shoveling of snow.  Will hold off until I see the neighbors using one, then borrow it.

tangent n: At the NS (aka work), D.'s planning an after school event later this week involving Shrinky Dinks. She's got the authentic shrinks--the plasticine sheets for drawing and baking, yields the warp-distort surprise every time!  But have you ever heard of make-shift Shrinky Dinks, the kind where you color on styrofoam cups then bake-melt them into variforms?  Sounded dangerous to me (toxic fumes?).  Anyone heard of improvising with styro-cups as low budget shrinkies? 

Bookmark and Share Posted by at January 3, 2005 9:33 PM to Rhetorico-Geography

The make-shift Shrinky-Dinks idea should work fine. The styrofoam (polystyrene) has a glass transition temperature of about 105 degrees Celsius (221 deg F). The glass transition temperature is the temperature at which a solid crystalline polymer will begin to flow. The typical blowing agent (the gas used to make it into a foam) is commonly carbon dioxide, or occasionally, pentane. The majority of the volume of styrofoam is simply air.

Posted by: Jeff at January 4, 2005 12:44 AM

And here I've been wary of styrofoam all this time. That's exactly the answer I was looking for, even though I don't have any immediate plans for shrunken projects. So keep the setting low and don't peek your head in the oven door too often, right? Just let the flow do its thing.

Posted by: Derek at January 4, 2005 7:34 AM

I'm not really interested in reality TV in isolation. The narratives aren't that complicated; the reality isn't that real. But as a phenomenon I find it somewhat interesting, and the less overtly competitive or scripted shows (like "High School Reunion") can be a fun guilty pleasure.

Posted by: Chuck at January 4, 2005 10:12 AM

I think you're right, Chuck. I've been hooked on Survivor for a few seasons. I'm interested in the way the production of the seemingly coherent narrative is both visible and invisible. In other words, some segments of the program make arrangement explicit, while other segments bury the controlling aparatuses, the presence of cameras, the convenience of splicing, and so on. I'm also curious about reality TV like The *Real* Gilligan's Island that puts together an odd remake of old television. Didn't watch much of TRGI, but what I saw was blaze (Thurston Howell III's replacement won the dough!).

Posted by: Derek at January 4, 2005 2:33 PM