Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lights In The Loafers

Sometimes you just have to find out how things work.

When I was a kid, my friend and I used to steal alarm clocks and smash them just to see what was inside. We had no intention of ever learning how to make or repair alarm clocks and we made no effort to put them back together. The simple act of destruction was enough.

Due to my lack of mechanical aptitude, and the fear of eventually getting caught stealing stuff, I gave up the alarm clock habit but never lost the fascination for discovery. I still hold a certain reverence for inventors and artists even though I am woefully lacking in anything that might even remotely equate to creativity.

Follow directions? Sure. Make something out of nothing? Don’t count on it.

But the curiosity still haunts me.

So it was recently that my uncle and I began talking about my son’s light-up Spiderman shoes. As he streaked by, oblivious to the blinking red blur that was his feet, we wondered aloud as to how the shoes worked. Since my uncle was leaving town the next day, I was assigned the task of finding out. I began to feel a childlike rush as the thought of dissection in the name of discovery once again filled my head. This time, I was determined not only to destroy but also understand.

Unlike alarm clocks, shoes don’t respond well to being smashed by a rock so I was forced to rely on a more skillful method of gaining entry. Thanks to my experience in the kitchen I have become pretty handy with a knife. So with a few careful incisions, I was able to fillet the first shoe like a walleye and separate the sole from the upper.

My inner child marveled at the waffle-like sole, its grooves filled with wires each terminating in a small Light Emitting Diode (LED). At the heel was the power source, a small box of encapsulated resin containing a standard watch battery. Inside the box, a small vibrating wire completed the circuit allowing the shoe to light up with each step.

Light up shoes were first introduced in 1992 by L.A. Gear. As the novelty for adults wore off, shoemakers turned to kids. These days nearly half of all children’s sneakers have some sort of light emitting from one place or another.

Early designs used mercury tilt switches. They were reliable, but the mercury resulted in a sneaker that was considered hazardous waste by the US Environmental Protection Agency. After discovering the disadvantages of the mercury tilt switch, designers substituted a plastic tab depressed by the weight of the wearer. They were environmentally safe, but not reliable. Plastic fatigue would set in and the light would stay on until the batteries discharged. Sealing the battery and switch in resin prevented this from happening but rendered the solder points as the weak link in the system. Once broken, those points are impossible to fix without tearing the shoes apart. Unfortunately putting the shoes back together is just as difficult.

As of late, the market for adult light up shoes is thin. Gone are the days of grown men and women blinking up and down neighborhood basketball courts and cops following the Rudolph-like trail of escaping crooks. But thanks to the internet all hope is not lost.With a little ingenuity, simple step-by-step instructions and a few basic tools, it is once again possible to be the coolest person in the office. The experts at Talky Tina Press now offer everything you need to pimp your wingtips.

It gives new meaning to “light in the loafers”.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

When Mountains Crumble To The Sea...

Twelve years ago today Sven and FrankenKristin were married. We asked her cousin Debbie to draw the invitations.

On that day, then President Clinton was scheduled to be in town for a campaign visit, so we invited him to the ceremony. Not surprisingly, he did not show up but we did receive a very nice card with computer generated signatures of the President and First Lady.

I also wrote a song the occasion. To this day it is the only time I was ever truly nervous playing and singing.

Gitsul was the best man.

After the ceremony we went downtown and had pictures take on Cafesjian's Carousel.

Being young, nontraditional idealists we chose to write our own vows.

I Sven, take you FrankenKristin, to be my partner in marriage. I promise to accept and cherish who you are now, who you will be as we grow and change, and never take our time together for granted. I will love, honor and respect you all the days of my life.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing.

Except I might comb my hair.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Caption Contest

Recently we caught the dog in one her more indiscreet moments.

Feel free to leave a caption in the comment section.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I Know I'll Often Stop And Think About Them

There are places I'll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

Lyrics courtesy of The Beatles.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Book What?

I was recently tagged by Sophia for a Book Meme.

For starters, I had to look up the word meme. Apparently a meme is a unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

Huh? Is that supposed to be fustian way of saying a list?

Not exactly. According to Wikipedia, the word meme was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins and stems from his gene-centric theory of evolution which suggests that memes represent units of cultural information much the same way genes represent units of hereditary information. Examples include tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions and other traditional customs and practices. When memes gather in groups they form meme-complexes.

Fair enough. I’m not entirely sure my entry in this game of book tag will contribute much of anything to the cultural landscape but I’ll play along. Either way, I think I’ll stick with the word list.


Here is a list of answers to various questions regarding books.

1. One book that changed your life: How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, by Lenny Bruce.
- Reading this book as a teenager opened a whole new world of possibilities for driving my mom nuts.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Suess
- Make that more than 100 times. My kids loved my attempt to replicate the underwater voice.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman
- This one may come in handy.

4. One book that made you laugh: The History of White People in America, by Martin Mull
- There are obviously scores of books that would fit into this category but this is one I particularly like because it is so absurd.

5. One book that made you cry: I’ll Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch
- It also made my mom cry when I gave it to her for Mother’s Day (in an ongoing attempt to make up for the above mentioned nuts driving) and the way we say good night to the kids each evening.

6. One book that you wish had been written: As I Was Saying: How to Finish a Sentence Without Your Wife Interrupting You.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: The Disapparation of James, by Anne Ursu
- This is the worst book I have ever read. The characters we poorly developed, the plot went nowhere and the ending was abrupt and unfinished. A perfect candidate for The Sunday Trumpet but I can’t imagine forcing my way through it again. Bleh!

8. One book you’re currently reading: Population 485, by Michael Perry
- We are reading this for our community book club. There is a lot of puke.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Qur’an
- I’d like to know what all the fuss is about.

10. Whom to tag next. Let’s see…how about Gitsul, SaraTee, Meg, Gina, and OneEar.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sven's Personal Birthday

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to Sven,
Happy Birthday to me!

Other famous events on September 3rd include:

* 1783: The American 'War of Independence' comes to an end, when Britain signs a treaty in Paris.

* 1813: Uncle Sam's image was first used on this day.

* 1939: Britain, France, New Zealand and Australia declare war on Germany, starting World War II.

* 1964: The National Wilderness Preservation System was created designating nearly 10 million acres of federally protected wilderness in national parks including the Boundry Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.

* 1976: The US spacecraft Viking 2 successfully lands on Mars.

* 1978: At the Vatican in Rome, John Paul I is installed as Pope - but dies just 25 days later on September 28th.

Other September 3rd birthdays include:

* 1869: Fritz Pregl, chemist

* 1905: Arthur Koestler, author

* 1907: Loren Eiseley, anthoropolgist

* 1910: Kitty Carlisle, singer

* 1913: Alan Ladd, actor

* 1935: Eileen Brennen, actor

* 1955: Steve Jones, guitarist with the Sex Pistols

* 1961: Jean Lindberg, my sister

* 1965: Charlie Sheen, actor

Hey Gitsul, thanks for the mug.