More real human interaction

Our week free of text based messaging is over – as of 19 minutes ago.

It was bitter sweet. While I had more real conversations, I didn’t get to chat as much with my friends via G-chat and World Of Warcraft – so there was just less conversations going on in general.

Here’s a great article about going media free for a week – from Relevant Magazine.

Perhaps we’ll do a more holistic media cleanse soon.

Instant text based communication

New fast – no texting or instant messaging of any kind. It’s already proving a challenge 24 hrs in.

Melody is planning a New Years Party and a great way of getting the when, where, what about a party to friends is a good text.

So directions are being given by phone or e-mail. We aren’t fasting e-mail because it’s not the same kind of instant and we need it for our jobs.

The danger, and adventure of saying ‘yes’

Inspired by the Jim Carrey movie “Yes Man,” we spent a week obliging requests, accepting invitations and being overall agreeable.

This is a fast, so rather than saying yes to everything, we refrained from saying no, ultimately producing the same results.

In the movie, Carrey’s character Carl is stuck in a rut, spending evenings home alone watching DVDs while his days entail denying loan applications. Carl attends a self-help program where he learns to say “yes” to new situations, instantly sparking an adventurous path that leads to an unexpected promotion and a new girlfriend.

In the end, Carl learns the principal of the program was to open oneself up to new ideas and situations, but not literally say yes to everything, which is nearly impossible.

Similarly, we did have one condition, we wouldn’t agree to anything that may compromise our morals. We also agreed to tell no one what we were fasting for the week, so as not to alter the course of events or be taken advantage of.

In a weeks time, we didn’t have any grandiose adventures or life-changing exploits as a result of the fast. In fact, Erin’s first test came when a waiter asked if she wanted dessert, which only led to being overfed.

Both Melody and Erin did encounter situations in which, after a long day of work, or exhausted from holiday shopping, we may otherwise would have declined an invitation to hang out with friends.

All too often people reject invitations because, “I have to work tomorrow.” We knew the risk of exhaustion but asked ourselves, “what memories were ever created being responsible and getting a good nights sleep?”

One such night, Melody and Erin bundled up with friends in hopes of being one of the lucky fans to see Cake play at the Blue Lamp in Sacramento. We waited outside for more than an hour while the bouncer’s continuously denied us access. Despite Melody’s best efforts to coerce management, we never did make it inside.

But the night was not a total bust. We met some new friends while waiting in line, and had fun playing games and drinking wine at Melody’s house.

As Melody said, “This night should go down in the memory books.”

The week was a good reminder to veer away from the mundane, and when in doubt, say yes.

Secret fast

Two days to go in our secret fast. No one has asked us what we’re fasting this week. Weird.

I guess the curiosity has worn off.

Anyway, the secret fast is going ok. I’ve broken it a couple times, it’s hard when there’s no one to keep me accountable.

Oooh, that’s a lie. Sgt. Cucchi asked us what we were fasting and we told him – he promptly took advantage of this knowledge and asked us to do something for him.

‘Ode to cheese

Since last Wednesday at noon no dairy has entered my system.

No butter, no milk. Those two things have manageable substitutes, but nothing I’ve found comes close to the glory that is cheese.

I miss the way it melts over sauce and bread, I miss way it sits on a piece of apple and a cracker. I love how it’s always the last thing in my fridge before I go shopping again – yeah, there’s a little mold to shave off, but it’s still good.

I love the versatility, the varieties, the texture, the smell (well, sometimes), I love how adding cheese to anything makes it better.

My pasta, my pizza, my sandwiches, my bagels, my everything – misses cheese.

Putting a halt to moving pictures

Created: 12/13/2009 02:30:42 AM PST

Americans are busier than ever, but when the days whirlwind of activity momentarily ceases, many of us choose to use what little free time we have to deflate in front of the television.

For a week we swore off all video; streaming, airwaves or otherwise. With the elimination of each television hour, we also avoided the exposure of some 20 minutes of commercials.

Melody watches the majority of her television online and also participates in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Erin watches some shows via DVD or online, but also watches conventional television, which carries the risk of promotional persuasion leading to hours of prime-time programming.

Television is no longer the single-set, family gathering event of the early days. People now have more television sets than they do people in their household. According to Nielsen Media Research, in the average home there are 2.73 TV sets for 2.55 people. People are mounting monitors in their bathrooms, kitchens and cars, only to be outnumbered by those in buses, airport terminals and bars. At times we felt a need for blinders to guard our eyes from the bombardment of video media.

With the advent of digital video recorders and a myriad of channels to choose from, people are watching more television than ever, and viewership has reached an all time high.

For the 2008-2009 TV season, the time a person spend with their eyes glued to the tube topped out at four hours and 49 minutes a day, or two solid months a year. This number is up four minutes from last year and up 20 percent from 10 years ago, according to Nielsen.

It is a huge part of our culture, and we are not immune.

Melody spent the week missing Glee and her World of Warcraft guild. Mostly after a long day of work she missed zoning out and turning off her brain.

Erin is disappointed to report her willpower faltered when she watched the season finale of the Amazing Race. It probably wasn’t worth it considering her brother’s guilt-trip coupled with her father’s words from childhood echoing in her head, “What possible difference will this stupid show make in your life?”

Well the answer is a resounding none, unless of course Erin is some day a contestant on a television pop-culture game show.

No money, no problem

Try going a week without spending

Created: 12/06/2009 02:30:57 AM PST

Having trouble making ends meet? How does reducing your spending by 67 percent sound? This week’s quickfast had us attempting an entire week without spending a cent.Before the week commenced we stocked up on groceries and filled our gas tanks.

There was some dispute about how much money Melody’s husband could spend, and on what. Holiday travels to Humboldt may have played out under different circumstances without her husband footing the gas bill.

While a friend took Erin out for dinner and a play, the absence of a wedding ring and a joint income meant the purchases had absolutely no effect on her bank account.

On Wednesday at noon we put away our cash and credit cards and began living off our supplies and the kindness of others.

Spending the weekend with family made shelling out the cash easier. Thanksgiving leftovers were in abundance and going out to eat wasn’t a necessity. On black Friday we slept-in and avoided the crowds, lines and sales.

Black Friday is also Buy Nothing Day, an international campaign to raise awareness of consumerism and over-spending. BND is promoted by Adbusters magazine and was established in 1992. People celebrate BND in a number of ways, some just quietly buy nothing, while others hold parties outside shopping malls, or dress up as zombies and walk the isles of department stores. Some small retailers even stop selling for the day, in favor of inviting people in for drinks and socializing.

Adbusters Production Manager, Lauren Bercovitch, said while one day isn’t quite as difficult as a week of consumer abstinence, most people who celebrate BND experience moments when they are compelled to spend.

This year, BND was celebrated in 65 different countries. Bercovitch said the holiday was devised to bring awareness to over-consumption and encourage people to embrace sustainable spending.

“It’s like a fast of eating, it’s not like you’re never going to eat again,” Bercovitch said. She hopes people will reflect on what they buy, and perhaps choose to give hand-made or locally crafted gifts as an alternative.

During the work week we were diligent about bringing our lunches and mugs of coffee to work. Normally an on-the-go breakfast consumer, Melody ate breakfast before leaving the house to ward off mid-morning hunger-pangs and temptations to purchase pastries.

In the end Erin did spend money over the weekend while visiting friends in San Francisco. If the situation were reverse, Erin would be more than willing to help a friend short on cash. But her pride got the best of her and she declined to ask for handouts. Despite her lapse, Erin still spent 56 percent less money than during an average week.

Melody spent 67 percent less.

As we studied our bank accounts, we were shocked by the hit our checking accounts took as a result of impulse spending. All those coffee breaks and quick trips to Nugget added up.