Saturday, July 31, 2010

Little Red Piggy Banks

It's a beautiful morning outside today. I know this because I can see it, just five yards away, through the double glass doors of the Eddy County Fair Grounds' Exhibition Building. I am not outside in the sun because, I am manning the booth at the Eddy County Fair for New Mexico State University Carlsbad until just past lunch today.

I am alone in this endeavor, and it is fairly quiet on this last day of the fair. The Exhibition Building is a large room, not unlike an elementary school cafeteria with red white and blue cloth dividers set up between the twenty or so booths that line the hall. There is a voters registration booth, the Republicans of Eddy County, two or three leather goods booths, a concession stand, and a variety of knick knack dealers and the local Hospice representative. Our booth sits between the Hospice and an empty five minute massage booth. I am writing this blog on my iPad while sitting on one of three small folding chairs. There are sundry boxes of applications, flyers and promotional items, most of which are stuffed loosely under a wobbly six foot long folding table which has been covered with black cloth. We have the usual promotional items, fall class schedules, bookmarks, GED applications and such. It is a pleasant was to spend a Saturday, though I'd much rather the venue be outside like a "real" county fair. I don't begrudge in the least, the opportunity to act as the face of the University for a few hours. Who knows, maybe I'll even convince someone to enroll at NMSU Carlsbad today. In truth, I enjoy watching folks stroll, roll and limp by. It is a funny thing to observe people... especially how people react to free stuff.

Among the promotional items on the table are the usual branded pens, LED key rings and plastic loot bags. Some years ago, for some strange reason, someone saw fit to print the NMSU logo on the side of little translucent red piggy banks. These pigs wouldn't hold a roll of nickels and if I were a gambling man, I'd call it a safe bet that the sum of all the pigs we've distributed, (and we have given out a rumen full over the years), haven't seen a collective three dollars. The things just aren't all that useful. But I guess they're cute... I don't see it, but apparently there are a lot of folks who do.

Right now would be an ideal spot to launch into a rant about Americans and their obsession with stuff. In truth, I figure if a person is using their own money and I am not obliged to give up money or shelf space for it, let them collect junk until it falls out of their ears.

I don't care why people are so drawn to these little pigs. What strikes me as odd is the manner in which they do it. Like paupers who have come upon the rarest treasure they swoop down on my table. Usually they are older ladies who laugh when you ask them if they are interested in classes, so we can assume that they are not going to save coins for college in their little treasures. I don't know what people will do with these little piggies. Maybe it is like Halloween and Trick or Treating, you don't really care what you get as long a you get. Twice today I have had to ask folks to take just one. And when I ask, they quickly set the one (or three) down, hard, like a caught thief and then they glare at you. But to the other pig, the one in their other hand, they cling to like my children cling to me during a lightning storm. These pig conisours rarely say a word, and usually make a hasty retreat, clutching their remaining pig tight to their chest, or stowing it safely in their loot bag. It leaves you thinking, "Hmmm."

It's not all that odd, in the grand scheme of human oddities, but it is interesting and a bit funny to see how attached we can get to a trinket that will probably collect more dust than anything else in it's lifetime. One might expect to see the yard sale market flooded with these little red pigs in the near future, but I imagine that more likely, folks will not part with their treasures in this life. Maybe we will see them on the Antique Roadshow, some fifty years from now, worth more money than you or I'll pull in this year. Maybe.

I think I will go and de-clutter the garage.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Last summer, on a visit to the Sunny State of California, while shuffling through our good friend's book shelves, I came across a copy of "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt". I am a little embarrassed to say that I was mezmorized by the book, because it has taken me over a year to read it. In truth though, it has been one of the best books that I have read in a long time. Nothing has yet come close to "Sam and the Firefly" or "The Fat Cat" and "Wild at Heart" was a good read, but this was a really good book.I am by any calculation a slow reader, and this is book, which contains just over 800 pages was no exception. over the last year, between soccer games, lawn mowings and various trips to the "here and there", usually out on the front deck, I would read two or three pages at a time... more when the future President was hunting bears or tracking outlaws and less when he was reforming legislation as a commissioner or elected offical.

Tonight though, as the kids were engrossed in a Disney movie and Kerri zipped through another novel (she is the speed demon of readers), I finally finished the book. In a little motel just off of the interstate, in the middle of Louisiana, as the rain fell outside my window, I completed the final four page Epilogue. Amazed at my small accomplishment and at the power of the final paragraph, I read it three times to myself, before reading it aloud once to my wife. I don't know how impressed she was, but I sure was.

Afterwards, fairly anti-climatically, I set the book on the table, momentarily satisfied with myself, knowing that I will probably never pick it up again.

I am not an avid reader, I read slowly, comprehend even more so and am often distracted by small ambient sounds and sights to the point that I have to re-read entire sections three times or more. With a beautiful wife and three wonderful kids vying for my attention, there is little motivation to set aside the time it takes to digest a book worth digesting. However, I am glad that I set aside the time to complete this book, I recommend it to you, it is a very good book. But even if this is not the book for you, I think it would do you good to search for a good read, something to stretch the mind a bit. Doing something a little bigger than you think yourself capable is a good thing, even if it is just a book.

I already have the next book purchased. I have no illusions, I may never make it past chapter one. But maybe in another year or so, you will find me here, rather proud of myself again, singing the praises of " A Patriots History of the United States".

Just maybe