Christmas - Page 3

What Can Brown Do for UO at Christmas?

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by Grant Madden, EDN

T’is the season of holiday joy, office parties, and the inevitable shipment of packages across the country. The ten days before Christmas represent the busiest time of the year for shipping mail, and for the students at the University of Oregon, the wait for care packages from home recently became easier.

In January 2010, the United States Postal Service, as part of it’s $7 billion predicted loss, closed 491 branches across the United States. This included the annex at the University of Oregon which serviced the community of students and lecturers on campus.

The void left the campus to utilize the post offices either at East 18th Street or Willamette Street, both requiring a departure and a several-mile transit away from the grounds.  Pak Mail on High Street is close to the campus, but with international rates nearly double the post office, this doesn’t seem to be the answer either.

Enter the UPS Store.

Recognizing the captive market of the U of O, a United Postal Services (UPS) franchise has moved on to campus, occupying the former space of the United States Postal Service. Not restricted by the overhead of unionized labor costs, the new UPS Store is able to offer almost the same branding of services as an official post office, in addition to their extensive line of services unique to the brown-colored trucks.

UPS acquired the national Mail Boxes Etc. chain in 2001, and rebranded the franchise businesses as The UPS Store outlets in 2003. There are now about 4,800 locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

Students at the U of O will still have access to the traditional mail delivery, albeit at a price for the convenience of being on campus. A school-year lease on a mailbox will cost around $100, with an additional three months for free, to assist students that stay on campus through the summer break.

David Wigan, sophomore at the college, reports that having the UPS Store on campus is vital to him. Though he has a cell phone, this type of communication with his interstate family is important.

“With the store on-site, my mail comes and goes without me needing to walk downtown.” Wigan said.

These sentiments are supported from the other side of the counter by store manager, Ben Evans.

“The international students at the college probably represent one of our biggest markets.  We haven’t missed a guaranteed delivery date since the doors first opened.” Evans said, “the business has been growing about 30% each month.”

As post offices across the country close, stores like the campus UPS Store #6258, continue to rise up, quite often in the same street address as former mail services. As a more convenient alternative to the United States Postal Service, with people who are more customer centric than their opposition, UPS Store’s have become a boom for niche markets like the student community of the U of O.

What can Brown do for UO? Almost everything you might expect in a central shipping location.

UPS Store #6258
1222 E 13the Ave
Erb Memorial Union Room M40
EUGENE, OR 97403

Time to get your Hands Dirty

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By Kelly Asay
Eugene Daily News

The holidays are the perfect time to exercise your inner Martha Stewart/Christopher Lowell, and save a little green. Taking a queue from one of our favorite (non-local) sites we’ve done some digging and, through the miracle of YouTube, we’ve put together a batch of tutorials to get you into the Christmas spirit; from a simple wreath to making your own Christmas stocking, if you aren’t giving something handmade this year, well, can’t say we didn’t try.
 
 

First up: How to Make Paper Snowflakes.

While this may seem like a flashback to grade school, nothing beats an intricate bit of scissor and paper and string hanging on a tree or window to make a little memory. Try making these with a significant other over a nice bottle of wine or perhaps a scotch. More conventionally you can try it with the kids over some steaming hot chocolate.

 
 

Next: How to Make a Christmas Cracker

No, not some racial joke or baking tip, these crackers refer to the goodie and confetti filled kind – a handheld pinata if you will. Really feeling your oats? Make the candies, crowns and keepsakes that go inside. We’ll be visiting the local import store for ours; The inner Martha will go straight to the hoosegow if she tries to convince me to start with the candy dipping.

 
 

Door number three: How to Make Papercut Christmas Cards

That would be the bloodless kind. Most of us love to doodle, but much like most of the “talent” auditioning for American Idol, loving it doesn’t make us good at it. For those without the ability to draw, paint or otherwise amaze with our prowess in the manual arts, fear not, you aren’t doomed to rubber stamping – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
http://youtu.be/FLp6B1qSlN0
 
 

How to number four: How to Make 3 Easy Paper Decorations

The good news about these is they can be crafted by the infirmed as well as the young child, whichever way you’re feeling at the time. The better news is, if you end up hating them, they make a pretty good yule log fire starters. Unless you are committed to the full commercially produced tree, ornament, lighting and decorating path, handmade decorations can lend a positive personal touch to your room, apartment, home, or Occupy tent.
http://youtu.be/7ZTuHP1Wtmw
 
 

Lets step it up: How to Make Easy “No Sew” Fabric Christmas Ornaments

You’ve gotta know you like handmade before you start these. They don’t burn clean, they stay around longer than an incumbent congressman and they have an odd ability to make you melancholy for a simpler time. My favorites are the ones my grandmothers made, you’ll want to pass yours along too, whether they like it or not. They’ll thank you eventually.

 
 

Project six: How To Make Christmas Stockings

I’m partial to fishnet because you can see what’s in them, unfortunately the nuts are always falling out. Face it, nothing tells a kid, or spouse that you’re looking forward to Christmas eve like a freshly minted Chinese made stocking from Target right? While this isn’t exactly cutting out snowflakes, it’s surprisingly easy to do and when it’s done it will put a smile on the recipients face, even if that face is yours.
http://youtu.be/rsq6fAtgr1w
 
 

Lucky number seven: How to Make a Christmas Wreath

This tutorial is the reason you haven’t cut back the neighbors fir tree that grows six feet over your side of the fence; you’ve been saving those fragrant green boughs for a wreath. Break out the chainsaw-pruners or what have you, and prepare to be amazed: you’ll be creating your own traditional Christmas wreath. That is once you’re done sharing the holiday spirit with your neighbor.

 
 

And our final project: The Parcel Style Gift Wrap.

It’s green, it’s clever, and it looks way better than the local fishwrapper does. Now this video was for Valentines day, but hey, that’s not even a real holiday. With all the handcrafted snowflakes, ornaments, stockings, wreaths and cards you’ve created, you can’t put gifts under the tree wrapped up in the latest fashionable Costco bundled paper – you save that for the Santa gifts. Who knows, you may inspire a budding UPS driver with your efforts.
http://youtu.be/xfjG6GSWU6M
 In all seriousness, you don’t make memories by shopping, you make them by doing, by giving, by participating. Even the simplest handmade creation can have a profound effect. Enjoy, I’ve got to get started dipping the chocolates…

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

So in case you hadn’t heard, the Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl again, and with that comes more merchandise.

The new gear became available on Monday at the Duck Store, and one of the new shirts unveiled reads “Leader ‘O’ The Pac.” Oh Nike, so clever. But we’ve moved on from the conference champion shirts. Now we need the Rose Bowl attire. Judging from the website, the shirts look simple: your traditional “Oregon Ducks” with a big rose in the middle, or the classic image of two football helmets — in this case a Wisconsin and a Duck helmet, facing one another. They all look good and soon most of it will be gone.

I’ve never been a big swag guy, meaning I don’t often wear apparel from my teams. I have nothing against people who do, I just prefer to wear other clothing. Plus I think if I’m going to buy a new Duck shirt, I’ll wait until after the outcome of the Rose Bowl. Every time I would see those “12-0” shirts last year I would get a little irritated. There’s still one more game to go guys. Then, of course they lost the national title game and now people, including my sister, have these shirts that say “12-0” when really they should say “12-1.”

Every year there’s new stuff that comes out commemorating what the Ducks have just accomplished, and that’s great. But really it’s just a way for people to remind other people of what the Ducks did that specific time. Remember that one year when we played in the Civil War? Yeah, that happens every year. I don’t need a shirt confirming the specific day and time they played. If I’m going to a buy a new Duck shirt, I want it to say “Rose Bowl Champions” or “13-0.”

US Postal Service Troubles Could Help Netflix

Seeing Congressman Peter DeFazio hold a news conference to speak out about possible USPS cuts occurring at the Gateway processing facility made me think about Netflix and its CEO Reed Hastings speaking at an investor conference in New York on Tuesday.

It’s been a really bad year for the company. First, they split the DVD-by-mail and streaming services into two separate price points, and by doing that raised its prices by as much as 60 percent. Then they tried to make nice by naming the mail part of the subscription something other than Netflix, thinking consumers would change their minds about the raw deal because it didn’t say Netflix when they received their DVD in the mail.

The customer backlash has resulted in a staggering decline in Netflix’s stock price. In July, the company’s stock was trading at a peak of nearly $305. But in the five months since the subscription increase and subsequent fleeing of customers, Netflix Inc.’s stock was trading at about $71 on Wednesday.

The leading company in online streaming thought the DVD-by-mail service would eventually die and more and more customers would prefer watching movies through a computer. But the company pushed people just a little too quickly and paid the price for it.

But with the U.S. Postal Service facing bankruptcy and moving forward with cuts to first-class mail next spring, Netflix might just get their wish of becoming just a movie-streaming service. The Postal Service’s drastic attempt to save money would provide short-term relief, but ultimately could prove counterproductive for businesses who use the mail.

Movie buffs would have to wait just a little longer for those red envelopes to arrive in the mail, and they might get frustrated and finally cave in and switch to the streaming-only plan. Reed Hastings and Netflix envisioned a day when everything they did would be online. Now that might happen, thanks to the mail.

Un-Jolly Christmas Movie Pick

You would think a movie called A Christmas Tale would be a typical holiday film. It certainly has the elements: families coming together, snowy scenery and presents. But this French film from 2008 is not the happiest holiday tale ever told. It’s about a family dealing with mental illness, cancer and banishment.

Almost the entire film takes place at the home of the parents, Junon and Abel. Their daughter Elizabeth and her son Paul arrive, followed by the parent’s son Ivan, his wife Sylvia and their young sons. The last to show up is their son, Henri and his girlfriend, Faunia. The entire family is under one roof for the first time in six years following Henri’s banishment from the clan by sister Elizabeth after she had to pay off Henri’s debts and demanded he never see her again or visit their parent’s home.

But the banishment is lifted once Junon is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Two family members are a match, but the spats, fights, drunken toasts and overall bad behavior might threaten all of it.

A Christmas Tale is somewhat of a grind. It’s two-and-a-half hours long, has subtitles and portrays a family that isn’t always likable. But there’s heart and love under all the bickering. No family is perfect and the film accurately portrays the insecurities and jealousy that arise when loved ones come together. The story is heavy and sometimes bleak, but these characters are able to sustain a light mood throughout and prevent the film from becoming depressing. The cast has great chemistry and you believe they’re a family.

The holidays are a time when family comes together, and unfortunately it isn’t always happy or joyful. This is a film that breaks down damaged relationships and attempts to repair them through laughter and memories. It’s another unconventional Christmas film worth seeing.

Brandon Roy Forced to Retire

If you follow the Portland Trail Blazers at all, then Friday was not the greatest day. It was reported that Brandon Roy would retire due to injuries in both knees. It wasn’t a surprise that this would eventually happen, but the timing was. Just three days earlier it was announced that he would not only be ready for training camp but also compete for a starting job.

But at a meeting with his doctor, it was determined that if Roy continued to play basketball, his knees would get worse and he would risk the threat of not being able to walk as he got older.

Just like that, the franchise player who represented the team’s transition from the “Jail Blazers” era to the team of the future was done. Roy was the most talented player in the Blazers’ organization since Clyde Drexler, and it was only two years ago that many sports writers were saying he would eventually surpass Kobe Bryant as the best shooting guard in the Western conference. But at 27, a time when players enter their peak, Roy is forced to give up the game.  Who could blame him. His quality of life was at stake. Now the Blazers and fans need to move on.

Where Did the Week Go…

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— Ryan Beltram, EDN

With the calendar officially turning to December, we can all get into Christmas mode. One of the things that gets me in the spirit of Christmas is the lights. There’s nothing better than seeing a house decked out in holiday lighting both on the lawn and the house and it’s even better seeing a row of houses lit up so well, the street they’re on could be used as an emergency runway.

But as much as I love people who fully commit to decorating their houses, I equally dislike people who put up one string of lights along the garage and decide–that’s enough, I’ve done my part. We’ve all seen these houses: Bulbs burnt out, drooping lights, sections that blink while others don’t. I also love the person who puts the one strand of lights on a completely random part of the house.

So if you decide to be festive and put up lights this year, go all in or don’t try at all. You should want your neighbors to not only become jealous of your house-lighting abilities, but also wonder if they could see your house from space. I get that more lights means a higher electric bill, but come on it’s Christmas time.

Unconventional Holiday Movies  

Besides putting up lights, the beginning of December is also the time to watch Christmas movies. It’s weird how one month in the year is the only appropriate time period to watch a certain type of movie. No one is going to watch It’s A Wonderful Life in the middle of July and there’s a reason retail stores don’t put out holiday movies until the holidays because no one would buy them any other time of year.

But when it comes to Christmas movies, there’s always the usual suspects: Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and of course that one starring Jimmy Stewart I mentioned earlier. All of those movies are perfectly fine.

But I also have a few holiday movies I like to view every year that might seem a little anti-Christmas but that’s okay. Not every one of them has to be jolly and happy. The adults occasionally like something a little more subversive. 

So beginning this week and all through December I’ll recommend one holiday movie you either don’t know or perhaps you hadn’t thought of as a Christmas movie. This week’s pick is a comedy involving extortion, kidnapping and cat piss.

It's a Christmas movie, really.

The Ref was a box office dud when it was released in March of 1994. (Probably because it was a Christmas movie released in March). But over the years this hilarious film has become somewhat of a cult classic.

Starring Denis Leary, The Ref follows an extremely unhappy couple (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) as they try to pull it together in anticipation for hosting a big family Christmas. Things couldn’t get any worse until cat burglar Gus (Leary) holds the couple hostage while awaiting transportation outside of town. He thought being on the run from the police was hell. Not only does he have to deal with the constantly bickering couple, but once the rest of the family arrives, he has to pretend to be the couple’s therapist to avoid suspicion.

What makes this film memorable is that it holds nothing back. This is a true R-rated film with crass humor and language. It’s a perfect juxtaposition to the holiday season. But despite the R- rating, The Ref never feels mean-spirited. It’s about an unhappy family refusing to put on a facade during Christmas and by the end you might actually feel a little warm inside like most holiday films.

Ducks hope third times the charm in BCS Bowl game

The inaugural Pac-12 title game was a little closer than some were expecting, but in the end Oregon rose (had to do it) to the occasion with a 49-31 victory over UCLA. With Wisconsin narrowly beating Michigan State, the Rose Bowl is set. Oregon will no doubt be the favorite, but based on their recent bowl performances, fans should feel a little worried.

The last three non-conference losses for the Ducks were to Ohio State in the ’09 Rose Bowl, Auburn in the ’10 National title game and LSU opening week this year. What did all of those teams have in common; bigger and more physical players who could also match Oregon’s speed. The apparent size and speed disparity was even more obvious when the vaunted Ducks offense was on the field. The quick-scoring, explosive offense we were accustomed to seeing was reduced to short-yardage plays and quick three-and-outs. This opponent should be easier than the previous three were right?

In Wisconsin, the Ducks have to look forward to yet another big, physical team. The Badgers only two losses this year came back-to-back and in both cases from a final desperation throw from Michigan State and Ohio State. Wisconsin may not be as flashy as Oregon, but they will most certainly be ready. The last three non-conference teams Oregon lost to also have another thing in common. Those teams had weeks to prepare for Oregon. Wisconsin will have the same benefit. Let’s just hope the end result is different this time for Oregon.

New Book explores the evolution of shoes

Shoes have become synonymous with Eugene and the University of Oregon. The innovations in running shoes by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight in the 1960s along with the successful track program at the university eventually led to Eugene garnering the title of TrackTown USA. Knight also founded a little company called Nike, perhaps you’ve heard of it.

That's a lot of shoes.

But it was the collection of 10,000-year-old shoes at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the UO and the more recent developments in footwear that led Brian Lanker to publish “10,000 Years of Shoes: The Photographs of Brian Lanker.” The book features a wide variety of photographed shoes ranging from old sagebrush bark sandals to Steve Prefontaine’s running shoes from the early 1970s.

Besides photographs, the book also features essays by professors, museum directors and marathoners on the history of shoes. The topics they discuss include ancient archaeological findings of the first shoes worn, what these ancient sandals reveal about the people who wore them and Bowerman’s fascination with the sandals and how they inspired him in his own innovations.

Sadly, Lanker was unable to see the project to its completion. He died of pancreatic cancer in March of 2011. Those interested in seeing the final work of photojournalist Brian Lanker can purchase the book through the end of the year at Past and Presents, the museum’s store, for $34.99. The book will have a wider distribution in January.