Saturday, August 19, 2017

Two Questions

Here is the thing. I get that you are busy. I get that you might receive dozens, if not hundreds of e-mails a day. Add to that, these days some people only respond to texts or IMs and don't even check their e-mail anymore. And here I thought I was supposed to be sending e-mail instead because it is less immediately intrusive? Maybe because I don't want my texts to finally push your spouse over the edge because you didn't stop looking at your phone during your date night when I really could wait until tomorrow?

But worse are the people who actually open their e-mail but refuse to read more than the first two sentences. "I am so busy and get so many e-mails and [*desperate sigh*] I just can't keep up!" Spare me. Just because you can't manage your queue doesn't mean we should have to send ten 2 sentence e-mails instead of a single 20 sentence one because then you will be overwhelmed and will just click delete. Oh sure, some of us have a way of getting needlessly long-winded, but you are also a big giant baby.

My latest pet peeve is this: if I am e-mailing or texting you a question, which naturally leads to a second question in the same text or e-mail (and the entire thing is under 3-4 short sentences) how come I only get an answer to the first OR second question, but never both? You can't even reliably always answer the first or always the second question! What gives? Is your short term memory no longer capable of 7 things (plus or minus two), but now only does just one thing (in primacy or recency)? If so, your life isn't just moving too fast, it left you behind in the dust a long time ago, dude.

Since you haven't already figured it out, I will tell you that by only answering one question it means I have to send another communication asking you the other question AGAIN. (If they weren't both important, I would have just asked one.) So the net result is that by failing to answer both the first time, you just doubled your interactions with me. And if you do this all the time with everyone, I think you know whose fault it is that you can't stay up on your communication.

Hobbies

I returned to work recently, after taking about a year off in between projects. I did the rounds to catch up with people in the office I haven't seen in a while. One co-worker I actually like (rare) and hadn't seen in at least a few years was eager to know how I had been spending my time while not working. I said, "Oh, you know, kids and taking care of life stuff and living the dream." He gave me a furrowed brow and said, "Oh come on! What have you really been doing? I can only imagine how much free time you had!" Beginning to realize I was not properly prepared for this re-connection interview, I replied, "Well, there is never as much time as you think, because..." and I launched into my standard description of the order of priorities in my life (as I tick them off on my fingers for dramatic effect), like this:
  1. Kids (2)
  2. Husband
  3. Cat
  4. Guinea Pigs (2)
  5. Home maintenance
  6. Me
I often use this list to clearly demonstrate to others why I never do anything for myself. If you count them individually, I am actually #8. I thought this was a pretty convincing argument as to why I didn't have more to report from the last year of my life. (Furthermore, I remembered that I have a job again so I guess now I am squarely at #9.)

He wasn't buying it for a second. He said enthusiastically, "Seriously! What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?" I think I stared at him for a full 5 seconds, and then managed to make some noise sort of like "uhhhhh...." and then I am not sure exactly what I said next because I was so busy silently berating myself for not knowing ahead of time that this would happen, probably more than once, and not having some really compelling explanations for myself. Maybe I have been off Facebook too long and I forgot how to make myself appear way better than I actually am by bragging about all the many wonderful things I do for sheer joy each and every day, complete with hundreds of selfies to prove it. Anyway, somehow I got through the conversation, possibly without looking like a total idiot, but probably not.

And, if you know me at all, you know this kind of thing is going to stick with me for weeks (OK, months). Lying in bed awake at night asking myself, "What ARE my hobbies?" Worrying there is something horribly wrong with me that I have free time and don't do anything worth reporting to another person. I talked to my husband about it and he coached me, "A hobby is something that you do just for you and only because you like it! No other reason!" I tried to list all the things that might be my hobbies but they weren't really passing the "only because you like it" test. The more I tried to think of ideas, the more my mind went blank.

After a few more days, I was finally struck with the answer. I spend my time constructing a complicated web of excuses around myself to ensure that I am always doing things for other people and never putting myself first because if I did then I clearly wouldn't know what I like to do anyway. So I do everything anyone else wants and, if I am lucky, I will be so annoyed that I will want to write about it in my blog. I guess that means this blog is my hobby. Whew.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wasp Nests In Your Vagina

This is for real (link).

I second the notion that you really shouldn't be putting anything in your vagina. Well, perhaps a few exceptions so long as it is for menstruation, sex, medical exams, or childbirth (well, I guess babies are technically coming out, not going in). And even then, be careful about the products you use, or any foreign objects that are supposed to be for fun -- it is never fun to have the EMTs come to your house because something is stuck in your privates (I don't know this from personal experience, but I know many EMTs and ER nurses, so just sayin', don't think I didn't hear about your Darwin award).

I don't know why women are obsessed with beautifying or otherwise tampering with their body to make it more, or less... whatever. I guarantee dudes don't go around inventing and applying beauty creams for their privates (although arguably maybe they should). Stop spending time and money worrying about your vagina, because no one actually cares. And if they do, they can care about their own vagina instead of yours. And if they don't have a vagina, well, I think you get my point.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Death

It has been nearly three months since my last post. That would seem really odd, except if you think about what has been going on in the world these last few months, you might understand why I was distracted from trying to be funny.

Mostly, I have been noticing that it seems like lots of 45-55 year old people have been dying lately. Sure, most are celebrities, since otherwise it wouldn't be in the news. But I also know my share of people in this age group who are dead or dying, or who know someone dead, dying, or maybe just a near-miss. I keep thinking that something is wrong, because this age group is supposed to be worrying about their teenagers or divorce or mid-life crisis. I never really thought that death as a peer-group norm should enter the picture until somewhere around 70. Is it just me?

I really hope it is like being a pregnant woman. When you aren't pregnant, you don't really notice pregnant people. When you are pregnant, it seems like everyone around you is pregnant. Of course there is no way that there was a statistical blip just when I was pregnant; I know it was just salient for me to look for pregnant women so I saw more of them. I would be glad to know that more 45-55 year-olds aren't dying, and that I am noticing it more because I am just that old. I really feel like I shouldn't yet be at the place where people my age who have affected me in my life are just gone (RIP Chris Cornell). But, I guess this is the way it is.

But as a personally relevant aside about seriously annoying death while I am at it, I will say it is abhorrent for sociopathic racists to take the lives of people who are trying to help protect others from hate speech. Three decent men got their throats slashed on the light rail train less than a mile from my house. The same public transit station that my kids will one day frequent to go with friends to the mall. One of them died on the train and then a homeless person stole his backpack and wedding ring... Off. His. Bloody. Dead. Body. Another died at the hospital, but one miraculously lived. What kind of world is this to live in? How does a mother tell her kids about this shit? I am ready for it all to go away. For every person doing things right, there is someone protesting them, and someone else counter-protesting THEM, and then before you know it none of us knows who anyone is anymore or what to believe about anything. Even if you thought you might be emerging into some place of reasonableness and acceptance, you look at petulant tweets from the freaking President of the United States and then you remember that things are actually that bad, with no sign of letting up anytime soon.

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...