We Make Our Own Fun

We Make Our Own Fun

There’s a world full of imaginative people out there. Everyone knows someone who has impressed them in one way or another with a thought, an idea, product or a service. You don’t have to be highly educated or specialize in a particular area, although naturally that can help it really comes down to a fertile imagination.

I’ve found incredible stories from ordinary people who are destined to make a difference. Sometimes the difference made are not earthshaking but simply just fun. Take the photo booth as an example.

The first “photo booth” was never called a photo booth and has roots going back to the early part of the 20th century. The name came along as a description rather than as an initial title. There is no specific chronology available of the origins of the coin-operated automated self-portrait device anywhere.

One testimonial gives Percival Everett credit for inventing a coin-operated, picture taking vending machine in 1883. This was at the beginning of all things vending machine. A craze of vending machines dispensing everything from postcards to photographs hit the public with a fervor. The photo vending machine became a central attraction for fun lovers and memory seekers alike.

To be fair there was a time when tintypes were very much in favor in the mid 1800’s, but were not taken exactly the same as a vending machine that dispensed your picture for a coin. The tintype was the first medium of sequential portraiture and entrepreneurs set up booths at fair grounds and city parks. They were very popular since operators were barely needed, it became more daring to take things into your own hands. The operators moved from town to town often following fairs from county to county. So in a way these were the first photo booth debuts.

Several different names were assigned to what we know today as the plain, simple photo booth. Names like the Quartermatic, Tru-Photo Machine and Auto-Photo-Dome to mention a few, with my favorite being the Photo Photosnap.

History gives credit for the first patent filed in 1888 by William Pope and Edward Poole but there was no hard evidence that an actual booth had been built. They may have had a good idea, but apparently never followed up on it.

People on both sides of the Atlantic were infatuated with the idea of putting a coin in a machine and getting a string of photographs in return. That interest has grown albeit slowly, but non-stop. Interesting sidenote: There are three to four times as many photo booths in the UK than all of the US.

Somehow photo booths not only made their appearance they were refined and redesigned over the years to resemble what we know today.

They fell out of favor mostly due to the Polaroid instant camera. Families could take a shot and have nearly instant developed pictures without being anywhere near a coin operated automated photo machine.

Until recently photo booths were mostly used for identification pictures on documents like passports and drivers licenses. They never completely disappeared from the social scene however, and are enjoying a sweet return to popularity. The not to be forgotten photo booth is now popular with private party goers. While they could still be found in the recesses of the carnival grounds at present they are likely show up at wedding receptions, family reunions, birthday bashes the list is endless. If there’s a reason to party there’s a reason to hire a photo booth and let the silliness begin.

Personally I think its a great idea to bring the old into the new. If it pleased us once simply because it brought fun into our lives, then I say hooray for modernizing the sentiment. The more ways we can think of to have fun – I say – the better. Say cheese.


S.M.A.R.T. Tents

S.M.A.R.T. Tents

The classic line from the board game Monopoly comes to mind; ‘Go directly to jail, do not pass go or collect $200′ when reading about parents that voluntarily commit their kids to 24 hours in Maricopa County Tent Jail. Yes, Jail! The program is called S.M.A.R.T. which stands for; Shocking Mainstream Adolescents into Resisting Temptation. The infamous Sheriff, Joe Arpario of Maricopa County Az, and his staff have created a program that attempts to interrupt at-risk youth from being attracted to a life of crime that could potentially land them in ‘Tent City.’
Happy campers they are not.

The Sheriffs’ Office has erected surplus army tents on black top about 50 yards from the real Tent City. Ten foot high razor wire fencing encloses the compound. The tents are equipped with bunk beds, lights and electric fans. Several large tents are erected to seat up to 200 people for viewing instructional videos on large screen video monitors. Portable sinks and toilets are provided for the short stay visitors.

School buses bring in the students on Friday afternoons from their 7th and 8th grade classes and are greeted by detention officers. The kids are divided up into two groups, boys and girls and are instructed to put on an inmate uniform, black & white stripes. Ya just like you see in the old timey movies. Food is provided, and it’s exactly what the real inmates eat every day. No meat is served, it entirely vegetarian. The whole experience is designed to replicate what life would be like if they were to ever have to be taken into custody. Some real inmates even participate in the program sharing their drug and crime experiences with these new temporary inmates.

The more structured part of the program discusses alcohol, and other drug abuse. Jail life and drug use are chronicled for the students via videos and discussed. If any student begins to act up or misbehave they are awarded clean-up duty within the compound. As one would imagine this occurs regularly and the camp is very well maintained.

Students, parents and teachers all report that the program is excellent. Several of the children interviewed afterwards were really shaken up. None of them wanted to experience this ordeal again. ‘Scared Straight’ is the operative term here.

Sheriff Arpario is quoted to have said: “Our kids today live in a fantasy land and have no idea what the real world is really like.” Our pop culture depicted in movies, music videos, video games, and TV, often appears to portray an alternate reality. “Our young people are exposed to a glamorized representation of violent behavior and drug use with no apparent consequences.”

Whether as an adolescent or an adult we make choices on a daily basis that affect our future selves. Without having the foresight to look into the future and to visualize the potential outcomes leaves many at a disadvantage. When we are young it’s difficult to grasp that our decisions have consequences that are not optimal or advantageous for our future – and for those we love.

I wish there was a way to duplicate this program in every major city and small town throughout the country. Most jails are divided into cell blocks. If one of those cell blocks was temporarily not being used (and there’s the rub) students could be isolated from the general inmate population and a S.M.A.R.T program could be instigated. Tent Jail under any circumstances, but especially in Arizona’s 120° heat has to drive a very clear message to these kids to keep a wide birth of any law breaking activity.

Energy Medicine

The world is beginning to accept a new era in the healing arts. Tired of attempting to cure all of our ills with a pill, people are looking at different approaches to old problems.  The premise for energy medicine is that the body has the capability to heal itself.  Some forms of energy medicine use an outside practitioner who may facilitate the healing within a particular modality. Others you can perform on and by yourself.  Some of the more recognized energy medicine practices are Rieki, Hands on Healing, acupressure, acupuncture, qigong, Emotional Freedom Technique, magnetic therapy, hypnotherapy to name just a few.  Some people like to use the creative arts, such as painting as therapy and what helps the mind, helps the body. As the awareness in this field has grown so has the number of different techniques.

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No One Is Going to Save You

With the economy beginning to see real recovery there are plenty of lessons learned and not to be repeated. A huge lesson that has come out of the past few years for this author is; we have to take control of our own destiny. We have to be entrepreneurial. Where is the entrepreneurial spirit that built this country? It’s showing up all over the place. It had to lay low for awhile as banks weren’t funding individuals and crowd-sourcing was barely a working concept. But there are too many budding minds to keep under wraps.

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