Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Need a Red Shell

If you heard someone say "I need a red shell" what do you think they'd be referring to?

Although there aren't any red ones here, you'd probably think of sea shells.

(Photo courtesy of the gorgeous beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida.)

Well, the red shell that I'm talking about looks more like this:

If you've ever played Nintendo, and any Mario game, then you recognize the red shell. I've already talked about how great I think the Wii is. Well, now that the newest version of MarioKart is out, Wii is even better.

When you play you are a Nintendo character (i.e. Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, etc.) driving a cart or a motorcycle (with names like the Super Blooper or Sugarscoot). The game comes with a small steering wheel that you put the Wii remote into. The race courses are places like castles, the jungle, a gold mine, and lots of other places from other Mario games. So obviously it doesn't seem "realistic" when you play.

Yet for some reason, after playing the game for a couple of weeks, it sort of changes the way you feel when you are driving your own car. I first realized this when I was a passenger and my husband was driving and muttered under his breath "I need a red shell" in response to the heavy traffic we were in on the highway. (A red shell is an item you pick up while racing that you can hurl at people in front of you. It hits them and knocks them into the air, allowing you to gain on them.) A few days later I found myself in similar traffic, and I honestly had the same thought cross my mind--if I just had a red shell, I could knock this annoying minivan in front of me out of the way.

I've seen recent news stories about concerns over video games being too realistic. The premise is that playing violent video games leads to aggressive and violent behavior in children. I wonder if playing MarioKart could be linked to incidents of road rage in adults?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Right Brain vs. Left Brain

This is an interesting test to see whether you are more right brain dominant or left brain dominant. Which way does she spin for you? Clockwise means you use more of the right side of your brain.

I can only see her spinning clockwise, no matter how hard I try. For a brief moment I thought I saw counter clockwise, but it was just a split second and then it was gone.

*Update: After much staring, I finally see counter clockwise also. And I can switch back and forth between them!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lament Of A Working Mom

While I enjoy reading other people's blogs that include rants about various things that annoy them, as of yet I haven't written any posts that would fall into that category. (The closest to a rant would probably be complaining about my dogs destroying Christmas trees or stealing muffins.)

As any working parents know, juggling work and family schedules can be challenging. My daughter is now 9, and for some reason things seem to be getting tougher.

When I came back to work after a 3 month maternity leave, I was determined to handle it all. I continued nursing exclusively, refusing to give up and rely on formula. I had milk pumping and storage down to a science. I never gave my kid a single drop of formula. She slept straight through the night. I was excelling at my job. This working mom thing isn't so tough, I thought.

I still think I'm doing OK with balancing things as far as "getting it all done" goes. Not great, but at least keeping my head above water. But lately I've been running into situations that really are just impossible for working parents.

It's just little things. Like the cast party for the play that someone was thoughtful enough to schedule at 3:30. The tennis lessons that would be really fun, but start at 4:00pm. The awesome horseback riding camp that is 9:00am--Noon Monday--Friday.

I don't need my child to be completely over scheduled, with an activity happening nearly every night of the week. I just want to be able to say yes more than I have to say no when she asks about getting involved in something. Instead, I always have to say "We'll see, let me look into it" and then hope that whatever it is happens after 5:30pm or on a weekend.

Lately I've just been feeling like the only Mom that acually has to be at work from 8 to 5 every day. Well, maybe not the only one, but certainly feeling like I'm in the minority.

So even though no one that could matter will ever read this, I'm going to pretend for a moment that they will. Planning summer activities for children? Well, in addition to the "Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00am--11:00am" option, why not throw in a 6:00pm--7:00pm option? Does the swim team need to practice exclusively weekday mornings in the outdoor pool? What's wrong with an evening or Saturday morning in the indoor pool instead? And most importantly--if it's a one-time event for something my kid is already involved in, DO NOT schedule the ending celebration at 3:30pm on a Wednesday. Is that so much to ask?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I Hear Voices

Some of the blogs I like have posted about their issues with annoying sounds. I have a pretty sensitive sense of hearing myself, but not so much for strange noises. I can recognize any celebrity voice, whether it is in a commercial, or in an animated movie, or as a narrator in a film. Sometimes I know who a voice is as soon as I hear it, other times it takes me a bit to figure it out.

I remember seeing The Incredibles in the theater and obsessing over who was the voice of Syndrome. I had to figure it out by the end of the movie, before the credits. That was a kind of tough one, but I did it.

Thanks to my precious TiVo, I rarely am forced to watch commercials. But when I have to, the only ones I pay attention to are those with celebrity voices. George Clooney for Budweiser, Gene Hackman for Lowes, I can name them all.

Despite the proven history of my ability, my power is still met with doubt. Sometimes, I can't prove who a voice is, especially with commercials. But I just know I am right. The most recent that comes to mind is the voice in Hyundai commercials. I am certain that my statement of "That's The Dude" is 100% accurate, even though I cannot definitely prove it.

I found two fun online games, if you want to test your own ear:

Celebrity Challenge

Animations Anonymous