Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hit Television Shows

Once every few years, I pick out a new TV show that eventually becomes popular. This year, I got hooked on "Ugly Betty" -- it has some great characters, but particularly the one playing Betty. (Some of the characters are annoying, but the show overall is worth it.) It is adapted from a story on the Spanish TV networks. I love Betty's style and the overall message of someone being themselves in the fashion world. Seems like the Golden Globe Awards agreed with my pick this year.
Past picks have been "Monk", "Lizzy McGuire and "Donny Cogswell." That last show was a college student travelling through Europe with a video camera sometime in the late '80s. It certainly was ahead of its time as a reality show, but was so sweet, and sadly, shortlived. If all these various networks, on the three screens, are looking for content, maybe they could locate "Donny Cogswell", "A Year In The Life" or "Thirty-something." I might watch them on my cellphone, but probably not.

Even Non-Car People Can Revisit Memories

It turns out, even non-car people can love the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auction festivities. I dragged my daughter to family day, a preview fun event for regular folks to see the cars ( I am sure a few buyers were there checking out the stuff). My daughter loves old Corvettes and all old sportscars, and she saw her first "Woodies", Model T's and other vintage vehicles.
It was a blast: there were cars, but there was art, clothing, jewelry, food, vintage signs and gas tanks -- something for everyone, car person or not. You can rent golf carts to get around if you cannot walk around the mammoth displays.
The tent of cars for the charity auction had an Elvis-style Cadillac, Ken Caminiti's 57 Chevy being sold for charity and a variety of other Dusenbergs and very vintage vehicles. It was next to the Rock 'N Roll auction goods, including gold records, a drawing by John Lennon when he was 11, other clothing and memorabilia. Regretfully, only bidders could enter or we would have seen a Beatles headboard (gate?) and a piano played by John Lennon. My daughter wanted to touch it.
I loved the "Huckster", an old produce delivery truck, obviously the origin of my father-in-law's favorite shopping venue. The Fiat "Jolly" is a vehicle from Europe used by "playboys and their supermodel girlfriends" (My first car was a Fiat, but not a "Jolly".) We saw vintage sedans and convertibles from 1900 to 2000, with the majority of cars between the 50s to 70s.
Pamela Anderson had restored a 1960 red Cadillac convertible that was a big hit and was very cool!!! It was done as an engagement gift for Kid Rock. Another guy had rescued a 1952 Chevrolet Motorhome and lovingly restored it -- everyone that took off their shoes to go inside never wanted to leave. He is now working on a 1947 model. A Plymouth Fury was completely redone, with photos following it from the junkyard to completion.
My daughter loved the vintage bugs, all kinds of Corvettes, particularly the smashing "Miss Rose", in dusty pink, of course. I saw cars I used to have in the 70's. But my overall favorite was a 1907 Cadillac convertible. Two guys had inherited it from their dad. They were polishing the chrome, wiping it with a soft cloth, answering questions from people of all ages. What struck me was the iPod speaker dock on the floor of the car. 1907 goes to 2007.
I, for one, am going back in 2008. Yes, for the cars, but for the trip down memory lane, seeing old cars, Flying A neon signs, and people who have a passion for something of their past. As we waited for the shuttle back to the parking lot, a family with three sons were discussing the different cars they had seen. Since Ford sponsored family day, our bus was filled with mechanics from various Ford dealerships, carrying the auction catalog and looking at cars. Most folks there could never buy any of these cars, but we got to touch them, sit in them and talk about memories with our kids.
At least I did. She pointed to a 1915 Model T and asked if that car was my age. Thankfully, she did not ask if I rode in the original 1880 Wells Fargo stagecoach. Wow, those settlers were determined, riding in those cramped coaches over bumpy terrain on wooden seats. It was eye-opening. Many parents were telling their kids that those were the main form of transportation until the late 1800's; hard to imagine how much the world has changed since that stagecoach made a run across the country.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Clothing Along The Roadway

We learned about an interesting phenomena this weekend at the P.F. Chang Rock 'N Roll Marathon -- runners throw their clothing off as they proceed down the course. This is evidenced by shirts, gloves, pants, littering the side of the race course as we cheered those hardy souls along. Apparently it happens in all marathons; last year two trucks were filled with collected clothing and netted $47,000 for Goodwill!
It was particularly cold this year (29 degrees at the start of the race.) That must mean people were layered up and shedding more clothing than normal as they got warmed up. One participant said that you don't want to carry anything that may chafe as you run, resulting in the clothing toss. It is an interesting side benefit to the local charities that collect and sell the running gear.
The whole concept of the marathon was motivating, when you see the variety of people on the course. Old, young, fit, heavy, chugging along; one guy was barefoot. Many were listening to something; some were talking and others were getting calls on their cellphones. People were cheering them, clapping, giving thumbs up. The concept of a band at each mile was a great way to keep them moving along, however slowly or painfully, towards the finish line. Others wore ribbon for various causes (Diabetes, Lymphoma/Leukemia) and ran as a team, watching out for each other.
I can only imagine the thrill of accomplishment at the finish line. It is the culmination of a year of training -- a thrill and a letdown at the same time. That is, until their next marathon.
I admire these people taking this challenge.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Noble Deed of Bird Counting

The annual citizen bird counts are a valuable tool for gathering bird migration data. I experienced it first hand today on two golf courses and a landfill (still in use!). We saw few birds, but cataloged the ones we saw. We scaled a fence, slid down a hill, and generally walked several miles. The dedicated birders have books, telescopes and binoculars to identify the species. We saw 28 different species on our tour.
The bird counting began in the late 1800s when the birds were killed to count them. Then, avid birders realized that many species were being threatened by the use of feathers in hats and jewelry(brooches). That led to the Lacey Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, both of which were designed to stop the use of feathers and protect destruction of the birds for the fashion industry. It has continued for over 100 years, based on citizen participation with compilation from the National Audobon Society.
I came home to find a lovely selection of feathered friends in my yard. I admire those folks that go birding regularly. I will be supporting preservation of the environment to allow all the various species to continue to enjoy their selected habitats. I think that birding as a hobby is not for me, as I don't like scaling fences, sliding down hills and peeing in the bushes.
I will commit to feeding and watering them in my yard as my contribution to that effort, and whatever ways I can help outside my private preserve.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Birding in the New Year

The Carefree (AZ) Annual Bird Count is happening on Jan. 2, 2007 (the first time I wrote that!!!) and I was lucky enough to get selected to help count. I like feeding the birds in our yard, but have no birding experience. Thankfully I am assigned to a team of experienced bird counters. We will walk two golf courses and a closed landfill in search of our feathered friends. The day ends with a summary of birds seen in the 15-mile radius of Carefree, AZ. It tracks what species are here and how migration patterns are affected, by weather, fires, etc.
It will be a long day, strolling about, learning a great deal and helping out with my limited skills. I think it is a unique way to start the year, and hopefully, will be the first of many new adventures. My family thinks I have lost my mind, and perhaps I have (maybe I will find it as I wander about...) If I see a eagle, I will be happy, but I will more likely see a bunch of adorable quails and some cardinals.