Monday, October 3, 2016


I experienced something really bizarre this summer. It started off simply enough as dinner with a friend at a small restaurant where there are also just a few outdoor tables. We sat outside. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed our food.

After a while, two fairly large women and a young toddler entered the restaurant. After a few minutes they came back outside and sat at the table next to us, I think because it was about 8pm and the child was beginning to fuss. It took us a while as we tried to figure out if this was a couple or sisters or possibly no relation at all. But clearly, they were both irate, which makes sense with it being 8pm and just getting around to dinner and the child you have in tow is now screaming.

After about 10 minutes of this they showed their epic (though delayed) problem solving skills by asking if they could get all their food to go. My friend and I are invisibly high-fiving that we don't have to ask for our check yet because they will be gone soon. And I say that with much respect because tired kids suck and especially at restaurants and I have been there. I do not judge what they were thinking by taking a toddler to a restaurant at bedtime. OK, I judged, but that isn't the point of this story.

After one of the women ordered the to-go food, she asked if she could have a diet Coke. The server informed her they only have naturally sweetened sodas or seltzer water (there was already a carafe of plain water on the table). The woman declined a beverage. Once the server was out of earshot, this was the woman's rant to her friend/sister/partner about the lack of beverage choices...

"I can't even believe they only have sugary sodas. I mean, really! I have diabetes and that is a disability and not offering diet soda is absolutely discriminatory! We won't be coming here again!"

My friend and I looked at each other. We tried not to laugh. I mean, it isn't like I don't believe her that she has diabetes, or that she would have liked a diet soda right then. But, discriminatory? I was dying to point out that the restaurant was gluten-free, so they weren't discriminating against my celiac disease so nyah-nyah, but it wouldn't have mattered. I am reasonably sure she would be able to find a victim moment in just about any situation, with or without a frosty diet Coke in her mitt.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


*In this post I am referring to services such as Uber and Lyft, though some take exception to calling them ride-sharing as the person driving you, while sharing their car, is not necessarily going where you are so it implies an untruth. So, call it whatever the fuck you want, such as Bernice. Read on about Bernice.

I am a huge fan of Bernice. The apps are quick, informative, painless, upfront, easy... etc. I like that the drivers tend to be pretty normal people and their cars are usually pretty darn nice and clean. Taxi cabs were starting to wear on me with their ripped seats and fogged up windows and cigarette smell, and that is only after you survive interacting with a dispatcher and driver with only modestly reliable outcomes (perhaps a future post about the one time we needed an airport ride and asked for NOT a Prius because we had lots of bags and they sent a Prius anyway so we had to wait for another which arrived with a flat tire, and then on the same trip on the ride home where our cab driver was rear ended by a large pickup truck... OK, maybe that was enough and I don't need to write it now).

Anywho, let's just say I am a fan. But there is one beef I have with Bernice. Since you are (theoretically) riding in someone's personal vehicle, it is almost like being invited into someone's home.  As such, besides not wanting to be an ass or make a mess or whatever, you are kind of expected to make nice and do the small talk thing. The setup is begging for it, and what's more, these drivers are usually outgoing and so damn friendly (except the one time in Seattle when our driver kept almost falling asleep and I thought my family was going to die on the freeway) that you feel bad if you don't have the energy to match the enthusiasm. I mean, you wouldn't be invited to a party and then show up and not say anything to anyone and leave $5 on the table to cover the food you ate, right?

As someone who is not presently holding a job, I could see the appeal of making some cash driving people around in your car. But yet, no amount of money feels worth it to me to have to be chatty with strangers for hour after hour. I might die. And since you really should never bore strangers with your conversation (see this and this), it would feel morally wrong for me to make someone talk to me because they are in my car. They are paying me. As such, they should be able to get whatever experience they want, ideally.

So, what if you are having a terrible day and you need a ride but don't want to chat? I propose that the rider could check a "silence" box on the hailing app so as to let their driver know "I am over it so don't talk to me and it isn't because I hate you but maybe I do but in any case please just drive me for money and shut the hell up." Further, I should think that a driver having a bad day might choose to only pick up passengers with the box checked. I mean, wouldn't you love knowing that the person you are picking up doesn't give a crap about talking to you and wants to stare out the window and you will get the same amount of money at the end? Maybe even a bigger tip because you otherwise suck at playing the "I care what you have to say" game? Win-win if you ask me.

So please, all current and future Bernices, take my proposal under consideration.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pokemon Stop

I have recently had debates with other parents about children playing Pokemon Go. When asked if my kids play it, I say they do not because it is forbidden in my house. This is typically met with surprise, and other parents have tried to convince me about the benefits of it, such as:

  • It makes them more active
  • It is motivation when going on a really long hike
  • Kids find it fun to do with each other so it builds relationships
  • It blends being outside with the only thing kids these days want to do - be on screens
I am actually not such a pessimist to deny these benefits were the intent behind the game development in the first place (second to making gobs of money and re-brainwashing the world about how awesome Pokemon is, of course). But the thing that I don't get is how, in this day and age, the creators forgot one critical factor that makes it a really bad idea... PEOPLE. Have you met people? We always take what could be a good thing and ruin it by being who we are. Common sense rarely applies. Drive to win exceeds reasonableness. Addiction. And because of all this, there is also the contingent who will find a way to use it to lure other people in order to take advantage of them.

In my house, where we routinely discuss the pitfalls of being a person (don't judge me, so far it is working and making them less likely to grow up to be asshats), my strategy is to ban the game and routinely show them the latest headlines that reinforce why. People fall off cliffs. People wreck cars (when the whole point is to be active, not driving!). People block fire stations. People get shot or stabbed. If I get a chance directly, I point out to my kids very stupid uses of the game such as the teenagers riding bikes without helmets while staring at their phones to find Pokemon. Today we watched two young kids who were definitely going to be late due to playing it while walking through the park to school. It was my kid who noticed and pointed it out. :)

So, my rage about this game is finally wearing off. To those of you who use it well, game on. For the rest of you, your Darwin award moments are providing my screen-loving children with solid street smarts about how not to be. Thank you.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Huh... Weird!

Last month we attended a birthday party for an adorable 1 year-old. It was in a Portland park, and it was a lovely sunny day. There were treats and food and even a small keg of beer. It was a great afternoon party.

If you haven't been to Portland before, me telling you that the park was in the SE section of town wouldn't mean much to you. So I will just describe it generically: it attracts a very relaxed, hippie, natural, unique, dare I even say odd but so very kind sort of crowd. SE Portland is where pretty much anything that is not normal but not hurting anyone is going to happen.

So here we are in this park, minding our own party business, when my husband and I hear the voices of some people walking behind us and they say, "Wow, a keg in the park! Huh...weird!" We turned around to see who was impressed by this only moderately unusual party-with-keg. And what we saw was a couple walking two goats on leashes. Only in SE Portland do people walking their goats to the park on leashes call a keg party "weird"...