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Exercising a Different Kind of Creativity

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On Saturday, I went with my family to a National Train Day event at the Amtrak Station in Toledo. Who knew that there was a National Train Day? There definitely exists no website for it.

I was afraid it would just be like one table giving away Operation Lifesaver stickers and keychains with, like, homeless guys peeing in the corner or something. But we got to ride on a railroad work car, tour an Amtrak train, see several locomotives up close, and saw two and a half rooms of train-related booths. Some were of places we have been, like the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, and others we have on our to-do list, like the Fostoria Iron Triangle. We also found some destinations we might add to our list, such as the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

The Pere Marquette 1225 A.K.A. The Polar Express

The Pere Marquette 1225 A.K.A. The Polar Express from last year’s visit to The Steam Railroading Institute

 

After several hours, we agreed we had all had fun, but we were tired and hungry. We headed to Chick-fil-A for a rest and some lunch. We would eat, I would make my husband stop at Five Below for a hat I believed I had to have, and then we would head home. I would probably be lazy the rest of the day, if possible.

Me in my new cool hat. Sorry I didn't take a better pic.

Me in my new cool hat. Sorry I didn’t take a better pic.

Our intentions were almost thwarted when a carnival was being held nearby and parking was heinous. But we persevered, and upon entering the restaurant, it was busy but not over-crowded. My husband spotted his sister there with her daughter. Soon my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law showed up to too. We ditched the boys and through a crazy, unpredictable set of circumstances, I ended up awake past my bedtime an hour and a half from home on a girl’s night out with a completed painting inspired by my family. I had felt like the universe had given me an opportunity and I had no choice but to take it.

I used to list art as my favorite subject in school. Now I am sort of a non-practicing artist, like how someone could be a non-practicing Catholic. Those skills don’t disappear, they just lay dormant and get a lil’ rusty. But it felt good to use the colors and shapes part of my brain rather than the letters and grammar part I have been running marathons with for the past few years. I kept telling my sister-in-law that it felt like we were in art class back in school. Because, well, we indeed did go to school together and here is the proof, a picture taken in art class almost 22 years ago.

ART-OG JS1

My S-I-L: The OG JS

So, here is my finished painting. I am kinda proud of it. Sure, it isn’t up to professional standards, but it is nice enough to hang on my wall. I stole the saying from Hallmark. And I’m not sure if you can tell, but the hearts have glitter on them. Because, well, when you carve into this tree, there is glitter inside. It is a magic tree.

My Masterpiece. I really love it.

My Masterpiece. I really love it.

Yes, even my painting has to have a story attached. But then, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Sorry to disappoint, but this post is only 500…

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

Even Slot Machines Win Sometimes

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I don’t know all the rules and regulations, but I am pretty sure that even slot machines in a casino win sometimes. Or the casinos just set them that way to keep people pumping in their change. Either way, you get my point.

A typical crane “claw” machine


So then, what the fuck is up with toy crane (also known as claw) machines? They NEVER let you win. The crane is always adjusted so that it is super loose. The stuffed animals are always packed into the machine extra tightly. With these conditions, it isn’t a matter of skill or luck to get a toy out of it. It is just a rip-off. A guaranteed failure. If a machine implies that you could get a stuff animal (or candy, etc.) out of it for $1.00 by using a claw implement, shouldn’t you be able to say, once out of 10 times? 20 times? 100? Have any lawmakers ever actually looked into this? Proposed regulations? Probably not, as kids can’t vote. Although in my experience, youth in their 20’s sink a lot of money into these machines as well. And they are old enough to vote. But probably don’t.

In all my life, I found only one machine that would actually give up it’s goods. I have always figured that the man who set it up was probably new to his job. It was at the local movie theater. And for something like $10 or $11, my husband and I walked away with like eight animals that night. I did feel a little guilty. But, ya know, considering they make the plush animals in China for cheap and buy them in uber-bulk, they probably pay less than a $1 an animal for them anyway. And if a company advertises something at a price, someone should be able to collect on that. Not everyone, but someone at the casino should be able to say “I got $5,000 for a nickel.” Not everyone, but someone should be able to play the lottery and say “I got $25 million for my $1 ticket.” I am not sure that the crane machine operators can claim that anyone is getting a stuffed animal for a single dollar.

We should all stand up and be outraged by this heinous misuse of children’s amusement products! Crane machines are stealing our children’s happiness and innocence just as terminators from the future wish to steal our lives. Where will this travesty end? Food and beverage vending machines that take your money but give you no change? Or no product? OR BOTH! Carnival games that are rigged in favor of the house? Arcade video games that take your quarter and give you absolutely nothing to show for it?

Watch out world. Someday I will put this sort of passion into a real issue, like the right to gay marriage or getting President Obama re-elected. Then I will be unstoppable in my mission!

Or, what if I lobbied to get all the stuffed animals in the machines “Made in the USA”? I bet that would drive the price up at least five fold!

Maybe I should train my son to do this


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