Sunday, 27 July 2008

Hot Air Balloons and the Lowest Common Denominator

Fairs are fun; big outdoor events are entertaining. However, there are somethings that can be renovated; or just offset by introducing more options... and then there are the attendees!
This was my second time attending the Readington, New Jersey Ballooning Festival. I loved it the first time, minus the 100°F weather, and it was entertaining once again two years following. I'm not surehowever, that I was entertained by the same things this year that I was in 2006.

We got to Jerry and Kelly's around 1230, waited for Jay and Kate to make it, and left around 1415 to head down. It was an hour trip, maybe slightly less. We went to the huge field (that's right, folks, New Jersey does have huge fields. Shocking, I know), clearly desegregating the trucks from the cars (I had a chuckle over it), and parked. We walked to the entrance and presented out tickets, went in and began walking about the fair. This fair is almost perfect with one teeny exception... it is on the tarmac for the airfield. This is erroneous to call it an airfield. At any rate, the macadam soaked in the heat of the sun to the point where I could feel it through the thick plastic soles of my sandals (they are about an inch thick - I do not wear flipflops). Other than that, however, the setting is quite pleasant. While the sun was strong, it was not nearly as offensive as in 2006.
What was offensive that while there is only a tiny percentage of us that do not enjoy completely disgusting but (from what others tell me) delicious "food", that bit of the crowd - all three of us - should be catered to by someone. The list of foods served there, you ask?

hot dogs
hamburgers
french fries

Sounds pretty standard, right?

cheese steaks
sausages
pizza
zeppolis
fried dough (is that the same thing?)
gyros (pronounced yee-roze)
falafals (spelling?)
calzones (NOT what you are thinking - trust me)
corn dogs
popcorn (slathered in caramel)

I don't doubt that there are some "foods" I left out (I can't recall all of them no matter how gross they all were). Ice cream, Italian ices, and soda, Snapple and water abounded as well. But most - all - of what was offered was fried or greasy or both. Take the calzones. I know how calzones are made; these were fried and then baked. I have never known calzones to be fried.

Do you really want me to go on?

Absolutely, you do. What's wrong with serving foods of this nature? People enjoy them and clearly it is just this one time, what is the harm?

I can't remember the last time I felt thin in a crowd. I'm 5'4" and I weight 180lbs. This doesn't make me svelte. And it seems in the current time that I will not be creeping (or plummeting) down to my right weight. I estimate that this is somewhere around 135lbs, factoring age and general body structure. Why are you estimating, you ask. Well, I'm 40 now and the last time I was my right weight, I was 19 years old. I don't remember the weight I was at that time.
It isn't right that I am about 50lbs over my right weight. I had gotten down to 172lbs; it lasted a little while, but I've gained twenty of it back and don't see it heading down again in the foreseeable future. But here are some other statistics: heart rate - 80; blood pressure - 110/72, LDL - 110, HDL - 29, triglycerides - 90 (I think, I'll have to look at my bloodwork again), total cholesterol count - 139.
Like those numbers? Me, too.

I love bready things and I crave sugar. I find it challenging to stay away from crackers and gold fish (not the swimming ones). But I don't touch fried foods. I don't even know if I like them, I am not willing to take that chance. I don't care for hot dogs or hamburgers. I do like soft ice cream, but I can't tell you the last time I had it (it wasn't within 2008, I can tell you that). I avoided the popcorn (I do love caramel) but keeping my sugar down and not becoming diabetic is still high on the things I'd like to avoid list.
This brings us to the attendees.
There were pleanty of skinny little things wandering about that fair. I even saw one or two that I found myself feeling envy - wouldn't it be nice to look like her? There were two mother of small babies or children that even looked good (yes, two - I counted). And then... there was everyone else.

I've seen enough chubby babies to know that some of them are just rollypolly and they'll thin out and lose all that - the true definition of baby fat. So most babies I discounted as heading down the right road (although there were just enough to wonder if some aren't being overfed or fed the wrong things. However, babies are not known for their ability to burn off their intake once they are over the age of four months or so and then once they begin walking, then they make tracks all over. They begin to even out as they become more and more mobile. Matthew shows that - the moment he began crawling and subsequently walking, he immediately began to grow up but not out.
Everything over two was fair game, however, and as someone who doesn't pull my punches and since this is my forum to express what ever it is that may be preying on my mind, I am not about to tell you that I was thinking kind things. Like Bill Engvall, I wasn't thinking, "Oooooh, I bet she just has a thyroid thing!" There were plenty of enormously fat people, from two or three years old right on up... to about 50 - maybe 60. I suspect enormously overweight people don't make it too far past that age range as their bodies - specifically their hearts - cannot take the extra load.

I get that adults make their beds and then are forced to lie in them; but how do you let your four-year-old turn into a diet case? Don't tell me that you as the parent can't control it. My parents did not keep me from any cookies or crackers but they definitely restricted how many and how often I ate "junk foods" in the course of the day. They also would not allow me to turn into a television junkie and I was not only encouraged to play outside, but preferred to be outside. How was I disciplined? By being sent to my room.

Kids now have too many things at their disposal brought about by the entertainment industry that do not encourage them to be out-of-doors or even moving, with the exception of overdevelopment of manual desterity (i.e. computer and vidoe games and texting, the latest evil to make people even stupider (if this is possible) than they already are). But where are the parents? It isn't a matter of that kids shouldn't have these things. It is that they need to have limits set. for every half-hour of indoor time (however it is spent), there should be 90 minutes of outdoor time. And, no, not outdoor time spent with the GameBoy or Nintendo thing.

The adults were not merely big or Rubenesque, like me; they were anywhere from 225lbs to 500lbs. There were enough people of staggering proportions to make me wonder about the basic intelligence level tying into the weight range of people. Let's be honest, these events cater a lot more to the base population, which is dumber than one might wish to think. Or, as I like to call it, the lowest common denominator.

Before you call me a snob, make no mistake: I have made it very, painfully clear that I AM a snob. You'll only be preaching to the chior.

I saw one specimen with ankles thicker than my upper arms. Have you seen my upper arms? They are disgusting. They are also not entirely my fault. Thanks to the wonderful world of genetics, I have my grandmother's flabby, flappy arms. I have even (momentarily) considered surgery to correct that - believe me, the moment has passed. I find it objectional to do that. Unless you don't have any chin at all. That is truly a terrible thing and totally visible. When I wear clothes with sleeves this is not so evident. Well, off the topic now...

Back to the topic, my upper arms are huge and flabby and gross. And someone else's ankles, something that rarely gets fat, no matter how huge the owner. Don't bring edema into this, it is not the same as fat.

Well. I'm finally running out of steam. But you get what I'm saying.
I have ranted on about this more than enough. The festival itself was a lot of fun, despite the main viewing form - in 2006 we saw different shows and events prior to the main one (the hot air balloon launch), This year's event for me was dominated by people-watching. We did one thing that had nothing to do with 1. walking around, looking at booths and eating and 2. the evening balloon launch. Luis and I went for a helicopter ride. I recommend doing it, it was a lot of fun; I don't recommend doing it there. They said it was a seven minute trip, but we were in the air for all of five minutes, 24 seconds. For $40 I want the full seven minutes.

But it was cool and as many times as I've flown in planes (two-seater Cessnas on up) I've never been in a helicopter.

After that we did more walking around and eating and looking in booths. I did very little eating, but I definitely liked looking in the booths, especially those with candles. I made two purchases. I bought one necklace, handmade, and one candle and one bundle of incense. Not a lot of purchases, but some. Luis hated it, but he will have to live with that.

We did finally wander out to the truck and get our chairs, and then we sat in the truck with it running for a little while to cool down. We went back around 1840 to set up and watch the balloon launch.

The wind was up, so the launch, while still pretty cool, was no where near the caliber of 2006. The number of balloons was severely reduced and not as spectacular - some did not even get off of the ground. But it was still cool and we did get a lot of pictures - well, I got a lot of pictures. But it was neat. And I am sure we'll go again next year.

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