Mar 28 2011

the affects of effects [day 306]

It starts when we’re born.  Accessories.  “My daddy is the best” and “My mom is better than your mom” on our shirts, iconic pacifiers, hair bows in more styles and colors than Baskin Robbins has flavors, complete ensembles of coordinated clothing, all in large quantities.  When did babies become fashion statements?  Aren’t they cute enough already?  I see a lot of people talking to parents with small babies and hearing more compliments about the clothing than the kid wearing them.

It continues through adolescence, expanding to toys and games.  I have boys (thank you God) that don’t care much about fashion and will probably need future therapy for their lack of stylish clothing options.  They do however have accessories.  They have Nintendo DS’s that have lots of games, a universal charger, a fancy light sabre stylus and headphones, all packed inside a custom case.  Society says, “You need more” and we respond by buying more.

Into adulthood now, and I’m not exempt from this.  I might not have a lot of fancy, trendy clothing but I do have some nice things in my house.  Most from eBay, craigslist and thrift stores, but nevertheless, lots of things.  Accessories.  I have decorative things that serve no purpose other than to sit there and look nice.  Now I’m an artist of sorts, so this is an important topic.  I love to create things, but with a purpose.  Much of my art is chaotic, but has meaning and purpose behind it.  The vase sitting on my shelf, not so much.  I’ve been sucked into the American vortex of more is better.  I created this photograph several years ago.  This has many meaning for many people, but I see it as how we become background fixtures in the sea of stuff we own.

Continue reading


Dec 27 2010

the story of stuff [day 214]

I have an idea.  I know, no surprise…

I stumbled upon this little video called The Story of Stuff.  It’s a little over 20 minutes long, but I watched the whole thing.  Before I get into the details here, take a look if you haven’t seen it.  If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, skip around and take a quick look.

Although I like the overall message, I was questioning the statistics as I was watching it.  The presentation is awesome, the content easy to follow.  Again, the overall message here is a good one, but I have a few things to discuss and challenge.

The big picture of stuff. The message here is that we, as Americans, are abusing our planet, taking advantage of the disadvantaged and that we have all fallen victim to materialism.  On many levels, this is true, but some of the statistics seemed a little off to me.  After a bit of research on this video, I found they are using it in schools to teach children about materialism and “stuff”.  I’m not opposed to that at all, but this video is not just creating awareness, it’s trying to impose a guilt trip, and as Fox News stated, “Other critics have called it a “firehose of paranoia” meant to scare children into becoming environmental activists. They say the video romanticizes poverty in its attack on industrial nations and corporations.

I hope we’re teaching our kids to watch something like this and process it in a healthy way, as they should do with everything.  My kids question things, think about everything they take in, and sometimes have a viewpoint that even I haven’t thought of.  This video’s overall message is a good one, and unfortunately, it does paint an accurate “big picture” of our wasteful society.  The reason I say that, is because this video could be remade without all the statistics, showing both sides of the message about consumerism.  That’s a hint for my idea…   Continue reading


Dec 27 2010

A post Christmas story of be longing [flashback]

This was written 4 days after Christmas last year on my blog iembracechaos.com.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  “WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.   Continue reading


Dec 18 2010

read the Bible and win an iPad! [day 206]

I found something in my email this morning, something which disturbed me greatly.  It was from YouVersion, the online Bible app from lifechurch.tv.  Now I love this app, I use it a lot to read the Bible, look up scriptures, post live church events and network with other people that read the Bible.  Today, they are promoting a special event on Christmas, “Global Share the Bible Day”.  What a great idea!  The purpose is to help the world remember the true meaning of Christmas, and to do that, they’re giving away a free iPad, iPhone 4 or Nexus S.  Here’s the excerpt:

A Special Event on Christmas Day and a Giveaway!

We’re declaring Saturday, December 25, “Global Share the Bible Day,” and we hope you’ll join us in helping the world remember the true meaning of Christmas. On December 25, let’s draw as much attention as we can to the Bible—the story of God’s love for us.

Now: Spread the Word (and Win!)

Please start inviting people now to join us on December 25. If you’ll connect your free YouVersion account and post online about Global Share the Bible Day, we’ll register you to win your choice of one of five gifts: an iPad, an iPhone 4, or a Nexus S!

First of all, whomever posted this can’t count.  3 gifts listed, yet you can choose from 5.  Wow.  So if we read the Bible and spread the Word, we can possibly win electronics.  I’m guessing they’re doing the giveaway as an incentive for people to participate.  Isn’t this defeating the purpose?  If Christmas has become consumed with pandemonium, consumerism, selfishness, economic hardship, and most of all… materialism, isn’t this “incentive” really participating in the forgetfulness of Jesus’ birth?

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I like YouVersion and I will still use it.  I am, however, very disappointed in this materialistic persuasion, which is the whole reason we need to remember what Christmas is all about.

I encourage everyone to read the Bible on Christmas day, not to win stuff, but to remember and celebrate Christmas in the right way for the right reasons.  Merry Christmas, or better yet, happy birthday to you Jesus!


Dec 2 2010

did OJ really do it? maybe wikileaks has a document on that… [day 190]

There have been many days I have been called an activist.  I never really thought of myself that way until a couple of years ago.  Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky?  Could happen.  I do get overly passionate about many things.  I suppose that could be good or bad.

I heard an interesting term on the radio today… “hacktivist“.  It’s an activist computer hacker, and one by the screen name Jester took down wikileaks for a few hours.  If you combine words, I guess I might be considered a junktivist?  Or maybe a resourcivist?   Continue reading


Oct 11 2010

inspiration boomerang [day 138]

My friend Becca, out in California, had a great blog post last week. cookieandclaire.blogspot.com She said my blog had inspired her and she’s planning to do Christmas a little differently this year… all handmade gifts.  Well she has inspired me back!

Last year we did Christmas in a non-culture conforming way.  We gave our little envelopes with magnetic poetry words and our Christmas card was a blog site, whydidyougivemethis? I also blogged the 25 days of Christmas and made a book called Excessable Christmas.  It’s about living differently and not practicing the cultural chaos and consumerism during the holidays.

(The entire book is available on my blog iembracechaos.com or a hard copy is available for online purchase, all proceeds going to Casa Hogar Elim.) Continue reading