Newswise — A futurist and author of "Looking Down the Road: A Systems Approach to Future Studies" (Waveland Press), Douglas Raybeck muses and comments on many of our culture's quirks and idiosyncrasies, from bubblewrap to New Year's resolutions. Here the Hamilton College cultural anthropologist takes a lighthearted look at one of those ubiquitous holiday essentials: bubblewrap. When your gifts are unwrapped and the holidays have passed, you will likely discover that you have acquired as much bubblewrap as you sent mailed off before the holidays. There in the living room will be a small mountain of the stuff ... far too much to pop without developing a tick or callous of sorts. What to do? Where to store it? These are the questions that reduce the effulgent holiday joys and try a housekeeper's soul. Not to fear, I, as a public service, will provide you a valuable list of practical bubblewrap uses:
1. You can line the inside of your fish tank with bubblewrap.This will persuade friends that you are maintaining a stock of tuna and prove enormously entertainment for the fish.
2. You can use bubblewrap in appropriate sizes as insulation.According to recent tests I've made, a single layer is sufficient to keep a beer bottle cold through three-quarters of a football game. (more research is clearly called for.) 3. You can also use bubblewrap to line children's clothing, though they should be cautioned about sitting on their jackets.
4. When traveling, you no longer need to spend significant amounts purchasing motion alarms to hang on hotel room doors. You can remove your secret sheets from your suitcase and slip them under the rug. Anyone attempting to enter will scare themselves and awaken you. However, do be careful when exiting your room to remove your 'Alarm Grid' first.
5. If you happen to drive an old 'clunker' you can cover exposed surfaces in the interior with sheets of bubblewrap. Unlike air bags, this really doesn't provide protection in the event of an accident, but it does tend to muffle some of the many sounds with which you are familiar.
6. Unbeknownst to most, bubblewrap is an excellent classical conditioner for cats ... they don't like the stuff. You can place it on surfaces you wish them to avoid. When you catch them misbehaving, you can pop a bubble in their vicinity and they will desist. (Do not try this with dogs. Dogs, being dumber than cats, believe all such activities are a form of play and will pop the bubbles themselves.)
7. Finally, if you are wholly lacking in the whimsy necessary to employ these suggestions and of the imagination needed to add to them, you can always store the stuff in the basement where it can lie in wait for some innocent's birthday. Remember, double wrapping presents can be construed as a sign of concern, rather than as a desire to unload unwanted bubblewrap.
Now, writing this has kept me from wrapping my presents, and reading it has performed the same function for you. We might as well have been popping bubbles.
Visit the Society for Cross-Cultural Research Web Site at:http://academics.hamilton.edu/anthropology/draybeck/SCCR