Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Science Fair

It is official... I have finally been doing this long enough that my posts are coming full-circle. Check out this oldie-but-goodie and then read on.

I hate the science fair. My oldest is now in middle school in the 6th grade, where it is required. Last year, in 5th grade, they did experiments (with partners if they wanted to) and wrote them up on posters. However, it was for a rather "trial run" just so they would have context and experience when they get to it as a graded middle school requirement. That 5th grade experience contained a number of important lessons:

  1. Having a partner doesn't mean half the work. It means twice the work and aggravation. Always.
  2. Having a clever idea is of no value if you can't figure out how to experiment on it effectively.
  3. Trying to measure something with change so miniscule that you have a hard time finding an instrument that can detect it is a bad idea. Worse yet, if your samples are to be weighed and are sometimes wet.
  4. Photography done by kids, except for artistic expression, is always a bad idea.
  5. Coming up with new ideas/variables/parameters when your experiment is half over is not the way it is done. Ever.
  6. "Data" is not just anything I am thinking at any moment which I write down while working on the science fair project - relevant or not. Numbers -- pffft!
  7. The conclusion should describe what your data told you and what you learned. Wait, what is "data"?

Sadly, while the previous experience contained valuable lessons, clearly none of them were learned. Furthermore, the key lesson that was NOT a part of last year's experience was that using pets as research subjects is usually a bad idea. Significant additional loss of merit -- choosing a cat. I really wanted to suggest the title of the project to be "Cat Don't Give-A-Shit" but I restrained myself.

So, take two middle school boys and insert college-educated parents to the rescue in order to manage the rainbows and unicorns down into boring-but-scientific nuts and bolts. Hours and hours they spent at the computer and three sentences got written, probably in part due to watching YouTube videos of cats (scientific research!). Every step was painful. Somehow it got done, with the one educational perk being that I taught them how to use a spreadsheet and make charts (but don't quiz them because I think they already forgot). I only had to make three trips to the store to buy (and re-buy because what I bought was wrong) all the poster materials. And I think they will get a good grade because my pride is on the line as the buoy that kept them from sinking.

I tell myself this was the last time. Next year, I am doing nothing. Yeah, right...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fake News

I love The Onion. There are really funny, very insightful sociological (among other) barbs that completely crack me up. The best part about it is that sometimes it is written so well you could almost believe it. Well, except for the fact that you would have to be pretty much dead to not pick up on that much sarcasm. All this, why I love it.

But here is the scary part. Our world (led by our own country, thanks) has gotten so completely insane in the last year, that sometimes when I am scrolling through my "news" feed I see headlines and take a gasp of air. Then, sometimes, I see The Onion is the source and I am able to then let the air out and resume normal breathing. It is a joke, it is OK... except it isn't because most of the time it isn't The Onion. It is either actual real unbelievable news, or real news about fake news, or fake news about real news, or real news about fake news about real news. Well and let's just call it out, it is quite often news about Trump tweeting about fake news or Conway's alternative facts or whatever other game they think they are playing.

And it really has become a game. It is the game of Life where you get married but you don't get to pick whether you want pink or blue, and you don't get to choose the career or family path if you accidentally get pregnant. It is the game of Risk where you are actually trying to roll doubles in order to make your next military move. It is the game of Clue where you are pretty damn sure who did it with tiny hands in the Oval Office, but you can't prove it because everyone tells you that you, Mrs. Peacock, are nasty. It is the game of Sorry (Not-Sorry) where you don't even bother playing because we all know that now, red seems to always win and doesn't apologize for anything.

The fact that we are playing games is so third-grade scary that I really don't want to leave the house. I feel like all I hear anymore from our country's leaders, not verbatim but in essence, are school yard things like: I'm rubber and you're glue! Liar, liar, pants on fire! I know you are but what am I? Not it! And it is all playing out on Twitter. Really?

So much for when they go low, you go high.

I would be remiss to not tip my hat to social media once more, for basically ruining all things, everywhere. Of course social media isn't the entire root of the problem, but it provides the nutrients and water to this crazy fucking shitty tree that has not only every bad quality of humans but also constantly drops really foul-smelling fruit AND nuts AND seed pods that spin AND it isn't even any good for a tire swing. Social media is taking a shift of tides (that was apparently coming anyway and cemented by the narcissistic moron in office) and accelerating its pace exponentially with constant exposure of a majority of Americans to whatever-the-hell is out there in terms of "so-called" information and breaking even a reasonable person's ability to know what is real and what isn't. Only with social media could we all get so far down a path, which probably ends in something terrible, and then when the terrible gets here we look up from our screens and rub our eyes and say... "Hey, how did we get here?" The answer: You know the answer. Own it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Booth Cracks

Look at my crack nuggets...















Anyone who has kids and dines at kid-friendly restaurants has seen something like this before, and quite probably even more grotesque. The fact that the chairs are usually greasy and dirty and the bottoms of the tables might have boogers stuck to them is bad enough, but the booths are the worst. Booths seem more cozy and comfortable, right? WRONG. They have cracks that kill. Or at least they would if you stuck your fingers in there and then licked them. Aside from more harmless items like crayons, you would find weeks-old crumbs, maybe some fries, or some type of sauce. Maybe if you are seated after some really clever child, you would find that the crack has some baby carrots squirreled away with the ranch dip licked off first. Bonus veggies.

I also can't even believe that the management of establishments with this clientele sitting in booths don't seem to have any idea this is going on. If they did, wouldn't they make sure someone cleaned them? I mean, it isn't a fun or easy job, but surely there is a way... If you are the entrepreneurial type looking for the million dollar idea, then you can steal mine, which is some type of booth crack cleaner. It might just be a special attachment like those on most residential vacuums, but you have to enhance it in some way, not the least of which is a really clever name that means you can charge more for it. Crack Buster. Suck That Crack. Clean Crack. Crack Wand. You get the picture and you are welcome.

Or maybe they could just get creative and use the tools already at hand. Like scraping the cracks out with the rod that makes up the center of this tower of doughnuts (actually on the menu). Because nothing says coronary like having a burger, bottomless fries, a milkshake, and then sharing 8 donuts with your family of four...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tummy Tucks

If you think that all you want for Christmas is to go under the knife for a flat stomach, I encourage you to think again. And no, this is not advice I give from personal experience, but please read on...

I have my opinions about plastic surgery in general (which you know if you have read this previous post), and I have some personal experience watching women I love torture themselves in the name of chasing "youthful" looks. I do get it - how hard it is to look in the mirror and not see YOU anymore. It is also hard to realize how little you appreciated how you looked many years ago, when you looked really great but still thought you needed to look better. I have a theory that, especially for women, aging is this ridiculous and twisted game we all play. We all strive to look like the magazines from the time we are teenagers, but we are never good enough. Then as we get older, we know there is more and more distance between us and the "ideal" and it gets really depressing. You might even realize at some point in the past you actually had IT, but you didn't know it at the time and now it is too late. So it is the endless chase, and the longer you go after it, you get even further away.

If you are a man, you don't get to play this game quite as well as the ladies. Your deepening forehead wrinkles show experience and are sexy. Your growing belly is just fine so long as you also have some biceps, maybe a nice tan, and great eyes with a nice smile. Bonus if your eye wrinkles become pronounced when you flash that smile. If you are smart and funny, and you have a job, you are golden. And unlike women, once you have had babies your body does not change (biologically). You don't have stretch marks, a semi-prolapsed or torn-but-sewn-back-together private area, or a jagged scar from having life cut out of you. So, because you had babies, you become no less marketable to some future someone (other than your child support problem).

It really comes as no surprise that a lot of women decide to have their tummies tucked (not always because of childbirth, but I think that is pretty common). I especially noticed this on a recent tropical vacation at a family resort where there were lots of women who, obviously, had children. (Nobody but a nut-job would go to a family resort like this if they don't have kids with them.) I was shocked at the number of 40+ year-old women (the bikini ones) who had obviously had their tummy tucked. These are the sure signs:

  1. You otherwise have age-appropriate skin that has become a little slack in all the areas that would be expected of a woman your age, yet your abdominal skin is taut like a teenager's.
  2. You have a few lumps and bumps in places (you are not under 10% body fat), yet your abdomen is like a table top, even when you sit down. (OK, when you sit down it maybe looks a little bit like when you stretch plastic wrap over a bowl of macaroni salad for the summer pot-luck, but you get it).
  3. Finally, you have a bizarre-looking, teeny-tiny, almost anus-like navel. No actual belly button looks like that. No one could have been sustained by an umbilical cord that left such a pinhole-esque scar. Seriously.
If you are someone who has had one, and you think I am being a jealous hater - well OK. Would I love a flat stomach? Sure. But would I want to walk around with some weird little third eye on my belly that is creepy as heck? Nope. And really, this is what is true of all plastic surgery. There are "benefits" but they come at a price (and I don't mean money, though there is that insanity also). There is always something that will look out of place... unnatural. And you probably don't care what I think, and that is fine. I don't need anyone to care what I think. I just want anyone to think about why they would do that to themselves. And if it is because you think you need to look better, I promise you, you do not. If you spent half as much time just being you and enjoying it, you wouldn't need to care how you look. Pro-tip: People aren't noticing you or thinking about how you look even 5% as often as you tell yourself they are. It just doesn't matter. And if it does, then you need new people.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tailgating

On a recent day, I was driving my kids to school because it was raining pretty hard. I got to the first major intersection, which requires a left turn. There is always a long line of cars waiting to do this, and today, there was a fancy sports car and a school bus in front of me. As you can imagine, the school bus takes a while since they have to be really careful. It was packed full of kids.

Then I hear some honking and realize the driver in front of me is honking at the school bus and gesticulating, apparently not pleased with the caution being exercised on the left turn when he had somewhere to be. Yes, this sports car hero had a tantrum behind the wheel as the curious children looked out the back window. I simply said to my own kids, "Wow, check out that jerk."

Somehow, the bus and the sports car and I make it through that cycle of the light and proceed to the long backup, which is common, on the next street. Well, you guessed it, guy with tiny-car-means-big-penis is right on the bumper of the school bus, with more gesticulating and honking. I am wondering what is so important that he needs to get to, and clearly why he has never gone this way before. Anyone who drives this route at 8:30 in the morning knows it will be like this.

I silently hoped for the school bus driver to just stop in the road for a few minutes to make this guy go totally out of his mind. Alternately, I hoped he would accidentally step on the gas and not the brake and end up underneath the back of the school bus in that wee little vehicle. But, none of those things happened and eventually he survived the apparently inhumane torture of queuing behind a school bus.

Chill out, people. Nothing you have to do is that important. And if you don't believe me, then you are wrong.