Saturday, May 07, 2005

Balloon animals

One of the things we do with the kids every so often is to go to the dollar store. We give them each a dollar and let them pick whatever.

It is very interesting to watch the decision process. You learn something about each of the kids by seeing what they are looking at. There's also the part where they have to narrow the decison from two or three items down to one. There can be a certain amount of creativity -- for example, David once went to the kitchen section (unexpected...) and picked out a big spoon because he wanted it for the sandbox.

And then there is the fact that it brings so much pleasure for them. I have not figured this out yet -- what is it about buying something that is so exciting, so pleasing? Why does it make kids (adults too for that matter) so happy? No other animal "buys" things, and humans have not had places to buy things until very recently, so it is unlikely that there is a part of the brain "wired" for buying. Does it tap into some primitive circuit that, long ago, was used to help us gather food in the wild?

Anyway... Not so long ago Wal-Mart must have looked at dollar stores, seen how popular they are and opened what we call the "junk aisle". A lot of the stuff in the junk aisle is 88 cents, but things in this aisle can range as high as three bucks.

We were at Wal-Mart today so we went to the junk aisle and let the kids pick something out. Ian picked out a dinosaur. Johnny found a little plastic gum ball machine. David got a big rubber spider. And Irena, who always takes the longest, bought a package of long balloons with a hand pump to pump them up.

What this meant is that, when we got home, Dad got to learn how to make balloon animals. I've never created a balloon animal in my life, nor cared to, but now balloon animals are in demand.

Each day I find that I am amazed at the Internet anew -- the ease with which you can find information still blows me away. You type "balloon animals" into a search engine and up pops this page:

Free balloon animal instructions

Five minutes later I had made my first balloon dog. Let me just say that, if you have small kids, you can have a whole lot of fun for $2 by buying the Wal-Mart "balloons and pump" package in the junk aisle. It provided a couple of hours of entertainment at least.

I think people get a kick out of shopping because we are all 'hunter-gatherers'. Shopping is really one of the last venues where we can engage these instincts. You search thru the aisles for the best kill, you grab it and then put it in a sack and take it home to enjoy for yourself or to share. Shopping has always been around, now it's just a more formalized process.
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“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
- Herman Melville

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best balloon animals ever:
I have video clips on how to make balloon animals on my site. Check them out. I also take requests.

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