Written by Dale Suderman Tuesday, 02 January 2007 18:00"These are a few of my favorite things." Julie Andrews warbled about raindrops and kittens in the "Sound of Music" in 1965. I realize in 2007 that my list of favorite things is very different from hers.
Free calendars are among my favorite things. At Christmas I got a free wall calendar from Stanley's Fruit Market. Along with awesome prices he hands out calendars every year-one of the few remaining merchants in Chicago to keep up the custom. I used to depend on the Hillsboro banks for a free calendar but am uncertain if they continue this tradition.
Actually I don't go to the bank very often since I started banking on-line. Now I pay my monthly bills at the last minute-usually-and never need to find stamps or guess the delivery times to keep my car insurance current. On-line banking is a favorite thing.
This Saturday I will have my car serviced at Car-X and say hello to owner, Mark Donattello. He is a rarity-an honest mechanic who reminds me of the Tappet Brothers on the "Click and Clack Show" on NPR. An honest, inexpensive and fast mechanic is one of my favorite things.
Then I will go grocery shopping and use my Jewel Discount Card when I check out. I average saving 20 percent each visit. In exchange, I probably have given up highly confidential information about which brand of coffee I prefer. The savings are worth it. Grocery-store cards are a favorite thing.
In the parking lot I will push a button on my key chain and lock my car and never wonder if I locked all four doors. Remote car locks are a luxury but still a favorite thing.
The mail will arrive by the time I get home. It is easy to throw out my junk mail. I always use a fake middle initial when I subscribe to magazines or give to a charity. Any letters addressed to Dale X Suderman are headed for the wastebasket. This simple trick is a favorite thing.
My three Netflix movies will arrive on Saturday. By ordering movies from them on-line I have access to 65,000 movies ranging from new releases to the most obscure European art films. With no return dates, free postage and three-day delivery, there is no longer any reason to head to the video store or go to a movie theater. Netflix is a favorite thing.
In the evening I will use my cell phone to call friends and relatives out-of-state with free minutes. When I was a kid, the comic-strip hero Dick Tracy had a wrist radio that allowed him to make phone calls. That fantasy is now a commonplace item. File cell phones as a favorite thing.
Both at home and work, I check my e-mails every few hours. A friend having hip surgery in India, a new deadline for this Free Press column, retirement notes from my retired boss now living in Australia and news from a long-lost friend in Texas compact time and space and put e-mail at the top of my favorite things.
A few times each day I check the news from Iraq on http://icasualties.org/oif/. This is a grim task. But these volunteers update and consolidate news from Iraq several times a day. American casualties now exceed 25,000 with almost 3,000 dead and more than 22,000 wounded. They cut through the rhetoric and bombastic with simple statistics.
And how do I know that Julie Andrews sang about her favorite things in 1965? One can "Google" the phrase, "favorite things." Or I can go to http://www.wikipedia.org/ and type in "Sound of Music" and learn more about Austrian family singers and musicals and Julie Andrews than I care to know. Wikepedia is an astonishing Internet encyclopedia with a million and a half entries written entirely by volunteers. Both Google and Wikepedia qualify as favorite things.
My favorite things did not exist-indeed they were beyond imagination-when the "Sound of Music" came to Broadway. It boggles my mind to imagine my list 10 years from now.
You can contact the writer at Suderman@aol.com.