Archive for February, 2010

I’ve Always Been Crazy, But It’s Kept Me From Going Insane

Posted in animals on February 28th, 2010 and tagged , , , , ,

I had to borrow the title of this blog post from one of my favorite Waylon Jennings tunes because I talk to animals, and some people would say that makes me crazy.  Crazier yet is when the animals talk back to me…

As it is always tremendous fun for me, yesterday’s visit to the zoo did not disappoint.  And while we made our way to the exit near closing time, I was turning over in my head the questions I ask myself and my co-visitors after every zoo trip:  what was your favorite animal that you saw today and why?  I was having a hard time deciding; everything was great, but nothing stood out as being extraordinary…  until my chat with the cheetah.  He was looking directly at me, and I said, “Hi Cheetah!” and he said, “Mew.”  I couldn’t believe it, so I said it again, to which he gave me another, “Mew.”  Now I didn’t realize that cheetahs meow and sound just like your average housecat, but upon much research when I  got home, this is one thing I learned about an animal that never fascinated me as much as others until it talked to me.  From now on, I will always stop by the cheetahs to say “hi” because I think we are now buddies.  I also found a cute little video of cheetahs meowing, much like my new friend at the Toledo Zoo!

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The Great Zoo Debate

Posted in animals on February 25th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is a sad post for me to write – a veteran trainer, Dawn Brancheau, was killed yesterday by an Orca whale at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.  Reports of the incident have been conflicting, but it seems that the trainer was pulled into the tank when the giant sea mammal grabbed her ponytail.  She subsequently drowned.  Unmistakably, this is a tragedy – pure and simple.

But it also re-awakens the great zoo debate – should humans be able to keep wild animals in zoos?  As they say, you can take an animal out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the animal, and tragedies such as yesterday’s incident at Sea World prove this.  It is also apparent that no matter how many precautions are taken to avoid tragedy, an accident can always occur.  However, I love zoos, and I strongly and truly believe that the conservation education and money raised by zoos has been and will continue to be detrimental in helping certain species survive and bounce back from the brink of extinction.  Many other people disagree, and tragedies such as this and the fatal Siberian tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo in 2007 always add fervor to the great zoo debate, which is depicted in this video from Good Morning America and features zoo advocate Jack Hanna debating with the Vice President of an anti-zoo organization, Born Free:

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In my opinion, they did not let Mr. Hanna have an equal part in the debate.  He has some good points, and it’s very difficult to say where the status of certain endangered species would be right now if it were not for the conservation efforts of zoos and wildlife parks – no one knows what could or would have been either way, so how can that be a part of the debate?  As Mr. Roberts points out, the number of tigers has greatly dwindled over the past century.  But one can also point out that no one knows for sure if it would have been worse had zoos not been educating the public about tigers or if they had not been learning how to breed them in captivity to continue the species.

The bottom line is, in my opinion, (and this is MY blog, so I get the bottom line) zoos and aquariums have taken great strides forward for the preservation of many animal species.  I believe their work and conservation efforts are invaluable to conservation (not to mention how many thousands of jobs zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and conservation programs bring to societies in hundreds of countries); in fact, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have funded more than 3,700 conservation projects in more than 100 countries and spend nearly $70 million on conservation initiatives annually.  Remember my post about the Kihansi Spray Toad?  This is just one example of a creature that would be completely extinct (it is believed to be extinct in the wild but still exists in just two zoos in the world) if it weren’t for the efforts of zoos trying to save it.

Obviously what happened in Orlando is a tragedy of great proportion.  And I’m not trying to undermine it, but Dawn’s friends, family, and colleagues are all stating that she was aware of the inherent risks of her job and that she would want nothing but for her work to go on despite what happened.  Perhaps changes need to be made; maybe certain species of animal require bigger and better habitats and different types of interaction and stimulation – the modern zoo world is relatively new, and experts are still learning.  But I think their hard work is invaluable to the world, and I hope that someday, all of this is just as obvious to the nay-sayers as it is to us zoo-lovers.

Kind of puts this into perspective now... I wonder if Marineland in Niagara Falls Canada still allows this after recent tragedies involving the killer whale?

The Return Of Captain EO

Posted in Pop Culture, Travel on February 23rd, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

This one is for fellow Disney fanatics – I just read an article about the return to Disneyland of the 17-minute Michael Jackson 3D video, Captain EO.  I never got to see Captain EO; my first time to Disney World was in 1992, and the attraction was either broken down during that visit or we just weren’t interested in seeing it; I don’t remember.  By the time I grew up, started my family and began our traditional Disney World vacations, Captain EO was long gone and replaced by the 3D interactive attraction Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

Captain EO replaced Honey, I Shrunk the Audience at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and opened today.  The futuristic short film stars Michael Jackson and Anjelica Huston; it cost about $30 million to make and also boasts the  creative team of director Francis Ford Copolla and executive producer George Lucas.  When it was shown at the Disney theme parks in the 80’s and 90’s, it was the most expensive film ever made (costing $1.76 million per minute!).  As of its opening today at 10am, there were many fans lined up to see it.  No word on whether Captain EO will return to Epcot in Disney World, Orlando Florida, but if it does, I might like to check it out, despite how much I will miss the always fun Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

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Year One

Posted in Sports on February 20th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , ,

Because I was born and raised in the Chicago area, I still peruse the online suburban newspaper; I guess it’s to get my news “fix” because let’s face it – good news is boring.  The more serious or tragic the news, the more interesting it is, and my local daily newspaper just doesn’t do it for me – I mean, local news is interesting, but not in the same way.  So lately as I’ve been reading Chicago news, I couldn’t help but notice these all over the place:

So what is the deal?  What is Year 1?  It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs are under the new management team of the Ricketts family this year, so I’m sure it has something to  do with that.  And it’s an unfortunate reality that the Chicago Cubs are also the team in baseball to have been without a World Series title the longest…  so I guess management figures that maybe if they just reset time altogether and start from the beginning, the Cubs might have a shot this year.  Two or three months from now, we will have a clearer outlook as to how the “new” team can really play.  But what if the Cubs go nowhere this year, and we fans find ourselves chanting our infamous October mantra, “Maybe next year…” – what then?  Will 2011 be Year 2?  Let’s hope we don’t have to find out.  GO CUBBIES!

Brown Hogs

Posted in Kids on February 19th, 2010 and tagged , ,

Everybody knows that kids say the darndest things – there was even a tv show or two about the subject.  If you go back and watch the Art Linkletter version, you can see him coaching the kids and moving his lips for the kids to see what they were supposed to say.  I don’t know why they had to do that; kids come up with enough cute stuff on their own.  The reason I decided to write this post is because it came to my attention that my 3-year-old daughter Disney calls groundhogs “brown hogs”.  Just a cute little tidbit I wanted to share, and hey, she’s got a point – the critters are brown!  Makes sense to me!  🙂

Homework

Posted in Fun Forwards on February 19th, 2010 and tagged , , ,

Maybe I’m becoming more simple-minded as I get older, or perhaps it’s the fact that I spend my days with children.  For whichever reason, I’ve found myself more amused by simple things lately, most notably email forwards.  Here is another one that made me laugh out loud.  I don’t know; I found it funny, but I did read it at the end of a very long day…

My husband informed me it was fake, but it’s more fun of course if you believe that some version of this actually happened.  Either way, the author gets points for creativity in my book – and maybe my husband was just upset that he didn’t get what the drawing was supposed to be in the first place 😉

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for a homework assignment:

After it was graded and the child brought it home, she returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis,
I want to be very clear on my child’s illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a snow shovel.
Mrs. Harrington

Polly DOES Want A Cracker

Posted in Pets on February 18th, 2010 and tagged , , , ,

I used to think that parrots had a secret pact to make fun of the many asinine humans who idiotically blurt, “Polly want a cracker?”  every time they spot one of the beautiful birds.  I’m not sure from where the custom originated, but I always thought it was a stupid, albeit irresistible, thing to say to a bird.  But that sentiment changed last week when I actually offered our Scarlet Macaw a saltine cracker – he acted like it was the best thing he ever ate!  He even learned the word “cracker” and was uttering it by the end of the day.  And come to think of it, they have a Scarlet Macaw at a local pet store, and one of her favorite words is also “cracker”.  So next time you see a big bird and you feel the temptation to say, “Polly want a cracker?”  be prepared to fulfill what that bird probably considers a promise!

Just for fun, here is the earliest known reference to “Polly want a cracker” from 1937 – I dig how the mom parrot is a housewife complete with apron – clearly before the feminist movement 😉

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Potty Training Celebration!

Posted in Fun Forwards, Kids on February 14th, 2010 and tagged , , , ,

Ok, I know it might seem weird, especially to those of you who aren’t parents.  But in my family, we are celebrating a major milestone – 3-year-old Disney is officially potty-trained!!!  In lieu of this triumphant moment (congrats to Disney but let’s face it, one of the best parts about this is that we only have to buy and change diapers now for ONE instead of TWO!), I thought I’d share a cute potty-training-themed email forward, here goes, and again, forgive me if you are not on the same page with me – potty-training kids is a big deal, and this is our THIRD success story!

THE POTTY
A LITTLE THREE YEAR OLD BOY IS SITTING ON THE TOILET. HIS MOTHER THINKS HE HAS BEEN IN THERE TOO LONG, SO SHE GOES IN TO SEE WHAT’S UP.
THE LITTLE BOY IS SITTING ON THE TOILET READING A BOOK. BUT ABOUT EVERY 10 SECONDS OR SO HE PUTS THE BOOK DOWN, GRIPS ONTO TO THE TOILET SEAT WITH HIS LEFT HAND AND HITS HIMSELF ON TOP OF THE HEAD WITH HIS RIGHT HAND.

HIS MOTHER SAYS: “BILLY, ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? YOU’VE BEEN IN HERE FOR A WHILE..

BILLY SAYS: “I’M FINE, MOMMY.. I JUST HAVEN’T GONE ‘DOODY’ YET.”

MOTHER SAYS: “OK, YOU CAN STAY HERE A FEW MORE MINUTES.  BUT BILLY,  WHY  ARE  YOU  HITTING  YOURSELF  ON  THE  HEAD?”

BILLY SAYS: “WORKS FOR KETCHUP.”

Death, Murder, Love, and FUN!

Posted in Theater on February 14th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Maybe you’ve noticed that at some point this winter, I began to blog less…  I no longer write reviews about every movie, tv show or play I see – it mostly has to do with the fact that there just isn’t time for me to sit at my computer uninterrupted long enough to do that – well, not if I want my toddling, climbing 18-month-old to stay safe anyway.  But this Valentine’s Day weekend of 2010 saw me venturing to two local plays, both involving fellow tangenteers, so I figured I could let Hubby hold down  the fort long enough for me to write a quick little blurb.

First of all, let me say how thankful I am for my babysitter who worked overtime this weekend – she usually doesn’t do weekends, and without her, we couldn’t have afforded to support our friends at either show.  Friday night’s selection was Dearly Departed, a southern comedy about a crazy family coming together for the funeral of the patriarch.  The show was hilarious, and my friend justj was very memorable as a fire n’ brimstone type southern preacher.  I have to say that my favorite part of the show was his other character however, a wheelchair bound man named Norval who is depicted as practically a houseplant by his caregiver wife when she describes how she cares for him – which pills, what he can and can’t eat, that sort of thing.  But on stage, Norval was anything but a houseplant, and justj depicted him with just the right amount of humor – not over the top, but not comatose either – I felt that achieving this perfect balance was much more difficult than it looked.  It should come as no surprise that I absolutely LOVED the music in the show, and it was amusing for me to think about how much that must have irked the director (who had left a party we threw one time because there was ‘too much country music’ – even though the only country song I played was Travis Tritt’s remake of the Eagle’s classic Takin’ It Easy, which I didn’t even consider country, but apparently some would beg to differ) – haha.  I need to find out what that Elvis song was in the second act; it was wonderful.

Saturday night we tried out a murder mystery dinner theater starring Jamiahsh, and we had a blast!  We rounded up some friends, and when all was said and done, we had a somewhat rowdy table of 8 with whom to enjoy the show.  Without having to draw any sort of diagrams or assemble any calculative theories like someone at our table who shall remain nameless 😉  I guessed the murderer correctly and was entered into the drawing to win a prize – a free one hour massage!  But I tore my ballot wrong, and my friend who was also the director felt it would have been obvious if she had chosen my idiotic-looking ballot to win the prize.  I agree with her; it was my own fault, and I’m happy that another patron’s experience was even more enhanced by his free massage.  Besides, my hubby gives THE BEST massages, and they’re always free!  But we had a super time at the dinner theater, the food was good, and Jamiahsh was wonderful as the bumbling FBI agent who was trying to crack the case.  I loved the relaxed atmosphere of the show with members of the cast joining us for dinner and chatting casually – although too casually at times, because several members of the cast came out of character at times asking us if our questions were for their characters or for them “in real life” – oops.  But of course ours truly Jamiahsh remained in character and professional at all times!

So bravo to many jobs well done on this weekend of community theater!  Knowing that my days of keeping my kids out so late are numbered (especially judging by the way they screamed on the way home), I am thankful for every show I get to experience!

And wrapping up the weekend, of course, is Valentine’s Day, and that’s where the love comes in – hopefully the kids will fall asleep before Hubby and I crash so that we can snuggle and watch a scary movie – who needs chick flicks on Valentine’s Day?!?  Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Cutest Puppy In The World

Posted in Pets on February 12th, 2010 and tagged ,

After almost a week of having our new puppy, I finally got him to hold still long enough for some adorable pictures – enjoy!

Gizmo will follow me up the stairs, but then he gets overwhelmed and can't go up or down! My 19-month-old son gave him a hug to comfort him; how cute is that?!?

This is Gizmo and my daughter Disney - our friend gave us a cute little blue sweater for him, so now he doesn't shiver quite so much when he goes outside!

He wants so badly to be able to jump up on the couch, but he's not big enough yet. Won't be long; we can notice that he is growing bigger EVERY single day!!