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Archive for December 26, 2006

Dec. 26, 2006 — In the midst of a power center

I’m sitting between the fireplace and a big window in a bakery that lies within sight of what has become today’s Bizarro World shopping mall: the “power center.” Instead of the mall being in the midst of the parking lot, this big-box conglomeration is a bunch of stores on the outside, the parking in the middle.

On my travels throughout the United States, I have never understood this. To get from one big-box store to another often requires one to drive up to a mile from one end of the property to the other, instead of walking in the elements.

Instead, I wonder if someone will come up with the same idea as the proprietors of the Palisades Center in West Nyack, N.Y. If you look at the floorplan, you’ll notice that the architects are able to squeeze in an entire Home Depot into this center, as well as a Target and other category killers. Somehow they are also able to fit in a food court, an Imax theater, an indoor amusement park, and a wholesale store.

Is this the cure for suburban sprawl? Perhaps not, but at least it might help some people in terms of gas mileage.

Dec. 25, 2006 — Traditions at Christmas

It was a pretty empty nest for my parents when it came to Christmas this year. My five siblings and I are scattered across the country, from Maine to California.

I was the only one who was home for Christmas, but that didn’t stop my parents and I from preparing our traditional breakfast: flat crescent rolls shaped like Christmas trees, cocoa with peppermint sticks, orange juice with green sugar crystals on the lip of the glass, and Cream of Wheat with sugar crystals on top.

After the repast we went to my sister’s house, located about 20 miles to the north, for dinner. There, they also have the traditional breakfast but have also added a lunch tradition: English Christmas “crackers.” These little paper and foil tubes are sort of the British equivalent of a Cracker Jack box, where the little toys inside are small, the riddles cheesy, and the paper crowns don’t last too long.

But what was even more fun was watching my nieces’ delight in the concept of the digital camera. Maria likes being behind the camera, and Ana likes being in front of it — she is such a ham. Ana also received “My First Dance Dance Revolution,” which is a young person’s version of the amazingly successful video game. It plugs right into the television and is not nearly as difficult as even the beginner levels of the coin-op game.

By mid-afternoon, she was doing some of the technical fancy moves that she saw some kids using in playing the game at local shopping malls. “They memorize the steps,” her mother says.

Perhaps they do. Still, it’s fun to watch.