April 12, 2020

How the Coronavirus Stole Easter

Filed under: The Occasional Godliness,WTF Did I Just Write? — Katrina @ 5:47 pm

People really liked Easter a lot
But the Coronavirus… did not.

January through March, worldwide it spread
Countries locked down, thousands were dead.

Can’t gather again until sometime later
No Easter brunch nor Passover seder

The virus looked forward to April the twelfth
For on this day the biggest blow would be dealt

The bees would be buzzing, the flowers in bloom
The faithful would marvel at the empty tomb.

Easter was coming, virus knew what they’d do
To the Stay Home orders they’d say “screw you!”

For how could the most faithful resist
To gather, rejoice that Jesus is risen!

And when they’d all go to church and pray
Coronavirus would grow three sizes that day!

Empty streets lay under the Paschal full moon
Coronavirus knew it would strike real soon

The day dawned Easter Sunday morn
Coronavirus to sicken so many more

But as it turned out, the virus was wrong
Because rising up, all around, came the song.

Welcome Easter! Welcome Spring!
From our own homes we sing.

Welcome Easter! In our heart
As we stay six feet apart.

Welcome Easter! While we stand
At the sink, washing our hands.

Welcome Easter! Quarantine
Protect us from COVID-19.

The virus was perplexed, could not explain
Somehow Easter still came just the same!

It came without egg hunts. Came without mass.
Everyone stayed safely at home on their ass.

The churches were empty just like the tomb
But people stayed home and met via Zoom

Still bloom did the flowers, buzz did the bees
Still we ate Cadbury Eggs and marshmallow peeps

Celebrations called but we kept our nerve
To stay away so to flatten the curve.

Corona devastates, this much is true
But we’re more powerful than ten viruses plus two!

Easter will come back again and again
Coronavirus will be long gone by then

For now we must still stay inside
Social distancing so to stay alive

Welcome Easter! Welcome Spring!
From our own homes we sing!

Welcome Easter! In our heart
As we stay six feet apart.

Welcome Easter! While we stand
At the sink, washing our hands.

Welcome Easter! Quarantine
We shall survive COVID-19.

February 14, 2020

Mmmm, Candy Hearts 15

Filed under: Foodz,Think About It!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 9:55 pm

“CUTIE” Aww, thanks little candy heart.

“YES” I… didn’t ask anything?

“KISS ME” Well, you don’t mess around, do you!

Yup, it’s Valentine’s Day, and once again I’ve got some conversation hearts. SweeTarts ones in a little box about the size of a deck of cards because I didn’t get to the store until yesterday and that’s all that was left. Good enough.

Anyway…

Why is jealousy so stigmatized?

No, really. It happens to everyone. You can’t just turn it off. And it sucks.

Here’s a classic scenario. Say you have a partner you’re incredibly glad to have. This partner at some point makes a new friend they like a whole lot and spend a lot of time with. And you? You find that each time your partner spends time with said friend or even mentions them you get this sickly feeling in your stomach. Partner is having such a good time with this person, but do they still enjoy you? Might the time they spend with this friend make them realize you actually kind of suck and they’re better off without you?

You don’t want to feel this way. You don’t want to be That Person. You know full well that no one person can meet all of anyone’s interpersonal needs and that it’s important to have others in one’s life, so it’s unrealistic to expect partner to drop this friend, not to mention toxic as hell. So you know what’s right and it’s all in good faith, and as such there’d be no point in responding to said feelings with anything like “shut up, your partner has a right to have friends, stop being a jealous loser!”

And that’s the trouble. You’re not only having these very much unwanted feelings but are being made to feel like you’re a toxic asshole because of it. Or that you’re just hopelessly insecure. And that just makes the feelings so much worse. I mean, if you’re feeling this way, it might be wise to actually discuss it with partner. But, no, you can’t do that. Then partner would know you’re having these toxic asshole insecure feelings and would just further convince them that they should leave. Maybe this just convinces yourself that you’re less and less worthy of having this person or anyone in your life because you’re -gasp!- jealous.

Jealousy is a very normal feeling, and we all feel it once in a while. Anyone who claims to be “above” it is a liar. The important thing is trying to figure out where it’s coming from and work on finding a way of making it stop that way. Which is, of course, so much harder when you’re made to feel like you’re a piece of shit because of it. Feeling like a piece of shit is where it comes from in the first place.

Jealousy is like this alarm in your head that just won’t stop going off, signaling that something is very wrong, real or imagined. Going back to the example, the partner’s friend isn’t the problem, and you know that. The problem is that there’s some need of yours that’s either not being fulfilled or is in jeopardy, or at least seems to be. You are absolutely in mental anguish right now.

I’m not going to venture any guess as to what a specific solution might be, as that varies from person to person. But a lot of it is figuring out what need is being unfulfilled and trying to satisfy it. We all need to be loved. We all need to be seen and heard. We all need to have our efforts recognized. We all need understanding when we are hurting. We all need to be reassured that everything is going to be okay.

None of this is to say that any toxic behavior as a result of jealousy (or anything else for that matter) should be tolerated. Being jealous is not a choice, but what you do about it absolutely is. But I’m just saying it helps to stop acting like this some-need-is-in-peril-or-unmet anguish is anything other than very normal and very human. And to remember that anyone going through it is still very much worthy of love and companionship.

At least the candy hearts understand.

“XOXO” Affection little candy heart.

“MAYBE” Ah, you’re more discerning than that YES one, I see.

“LOVE U” Despite having negative feelings sometimes? Aww, thanks!

February 3, 2020

Where’s My Monocle?

Filed under: Idiot Box,Sports!,Teh Interwebs — Katrina @ 8:48 pm

Yesterday was another Superbowl, a day about a sports championship that has ballooned into a showcase of weird ads, short midgame concerts, and admiration of owls. And a geography fail from someone we expect it from. Anyway, here’s another post full of embedded tweets.

Finished making game food but missed Puppy Bowl and they were playing something else when I came back. Hmm. Oh, well. Might as well see prelude to Man Bowl. #SuperBowl

Looks like pointless patriotic theater. Of course. #SuperBowl

Even I find it weird I’m making more of a holiday out of the #SuperBowl than I did for the World Series seeing as, one, I’ve barely watched any football this past season, and, two, my own damn team was in the World Series!

You see, celebrating notable players like that was nice and makes sense for the event. Flag worship does not. #SuperBowl
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January 25, 2020

Core Values

Filed under: NYRA Happenings,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 7:35 pm

Suddenly, lowering the voting age to 16 is a mainstream issue.

It got a lot of support in Congress, if not enough. The issue is being asked of presidential candidates. More and more places are proposing the change. Nancy Pelosi is even claiming she’d always supported it, even though not really but hey still glad to have her on board now.

Wow.

This issue is one of NYRA’s “holy trinity”, along with drinking age and curfews. When someone would come up to our table at some event all like “the National Youth Rights Association? what’s that?” we’d reply that we’re about those three things and that we look at all the ways youth are discriminated against. They might react with a non-committal shrug and be on their way.

But now it’s 2020, and the 16 voting age has come shockingly close to becoming a thing nationwide. It’s not just coming from us and a few allies anymore. Somehow, some way, it caught at last and everyone is talking about it and seriously considering it.

So let’s say it happens. Hell, let’s say voting and drinking ages get dropped to 12 and curfew laws are all repealed. What would NYRA be anymore? Would there be any reason for such an organization to exist?

The answer is, yes, of course. In fact, I’d say NYRA is needed more than ever now.
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December 31, 2019

Next Up 2019

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Dead Tree Sandwiches,Going Places,Idiot Box — Katrina @ 10:58 pm

Sometimes there’s a story you know that suddenly, well, continues. Maybe after a long time. Maybe unexpectedly. Maybe the continuation existed for some time and you’re only now finding it. Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, and so ends 2019, a year of an inordinate number of next installments. And, just in general, the end of one year and beginning of another, a next installment in itself. Whatever. Let’s do this thing.

January: Water Event

-What was that?
-What did you just send me?!
-Replaying this game a lot.
-Reading, too.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage
-Wait, is it finally out?!
-Vice

February: Revivify

-Time for the game!
-Nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening…
-It’s over. A lot of people in the audience look pissed.
Final Fantasy III/VI
-Unexpected snow day!

March: Ground Chicken

-Maybe I’d better finally do this and see what happens.
-Gathering information
-Did Ayanna Pressley propose a lower voting age AND use my hashtag?!
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
-And I’m stranded.
-Better get that looked at.
-Stranded again.
-Alright, need a new battery.
-What do you mean Bryce Harper went to the Phillies?!
-Is this still any good to eat or not?
-Maybe we all drink too much.
-Hmm, Nats aren’t off to a great start.

April: Walk-Off Walk

-Are the Nats going to win, like, ever?
-Holy shit, a walk-off walk!
-I’ve always wanted to see a walk-off walk!
-Captain Marvel
-Let’s see what this information gathering is turning into.
-Ah..
-On Monday it’s women in science.
-On Tuesday it’s a thing about an iceberg whose whole point was to make a Simpsons joke.
-On Wednesday, DEATH!
-On Thursday we’re not so great as a species after all.
-On Friday TREES
-On Saturday okay maybe we do some good things as a species.
-All leading to Easter Sunday at Brookside
-Time for AwesomeCon
-I bought way too many shirts.

May: Series 2 Episode 3

-I found it!
Avengers: Endgame
-Let’s replay Kingdom Hearts
-Birthday pizza and ice cream sundae.
-And now Kingdom Hearts 2!
-What do you mean you’re out of the Ryan Zimmerman Captain America bobbleheads?!
-Oh, well, we shut them out. It’s the Marlins, but still.

June: Obsolescence Insurance

-Are you really whining at me about something I posted nine years ago?
-Okay, done with Kingdom Hearts 2? What now?
-Play the third, of course!
-And to get a PlayStation 4!
-And the ancillary games. I guess I’d better play those first.
Kingdom Hears: Chain of Memories
-Okay, this card thing is weird.
-Star Wars game!
-And they lost bad to the Diamondbacks. Ugh.
-But Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle bobblehead!
-Maybe don’t ship us stuff on Thursday since getting stuck a day in Memphis is a thing that happens.
-Now I have to go to work on Saturday!
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
-Isn’t that Roxas?
Toy Story 4

July: Oxygen Sensor

-Hmm, old TV is broken. Set up the new one!
-We won the World Cup again!
-Megan Rapinoe > you
-Time for Lights for Liberty
-Check engine light?!
-Break from Kingdom Hearts for Crash Bandicoot remake. Not bad.
-The Nats got their asses kicked by the Dodgers and all I got was this sweet tote bag.

August: Special Portal

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
-At the fair!
-At long last…
Kingdom Hearts 3
-New version of The Lion King
-Book festival on Day 100

September: Orichalcum+

-Nats had been doing great but are kind of faltering again.
-I’ll go see them play the Braves…
-Let us never speak of the Braves game again
-And finally forged the damn Ultima Weapon
-Oh. I’ve finished Kingdom Hearts 3.
-Whatever should I do with myself now?
-Holy fuckshit, did the Nats manage to snag the NL Wild Card?!
-Bazaar!

October: #22

-Holy fuckshit, the Nats beat the NL Wild Card game.
-Well, time for another NLDS
-And the Dodgers destroyed Game 1
-Managed to force Game 5, here we go again…
-Kershaw blew the save…
-KENDRICK GRAND SLAMMED…
-The Nats got past the NLDS.
Downton Abbey
-Time to die against the Cardinals.
-What the shit, we swept the Cardinals?!
-How..?!
-Oh, my God, the Nats are in the World Series.
-Against… the Houston Astros on shorter rest and thus uninterrupted momentum.
-We’re doomed.
-And Baby Shark was done at the World Series
-LOL Orange Thing got booed at Nats Park
-Well, get this over with…
-Wait… what?!
-!!!!
-NATIONALS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!
-Oh, and Halloween

November: Gloo Gloo

-Championship parade!
-I’ll just ignore any news about them on Monday
Rayman Legends

December: We’re Mules Now

-Cookies
-Holiday party
-Redoing 2014 Winter Festival
Frozen 2
-Another holiday party
-Shopping
-Lights
-Cookies
-IMPEACHED!
-Getting food
-Holy what, Silent Night has a fourth verse?!
-Christmas Day
-Simultaneous Simpsons and Doctor Who marathons
The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth
-Lights
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

There’s often more to a story, whether desirable or not, whether welcome or not. Though even if disappointing or underwhelming, it’s nice to know an end hasn’t been reached.

Anyway, it’s New Year’s Eve, and this part of the story ends, the one that arbitrarily lies inside the year 2019, and onto 2020 in about an hour, onto the next phase of whatever. It’s a leap year. There will be an Olympics. And, notably, there will be the chance to throw the Orange Thing out on his ass in November and please God let him be thrown out. Whatever it is, we go into the next part. Here goes…

December 22, 2019

Walking and Hoping

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing — Katrina @ 1:28 am

It’s officially winter now. Here’s a song I’ve been hearing a lot…

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

If I’m hearing this song, I’m already listening to a lot of Christmas music, so I’d say yes.

In the lane snow is glistening

I wish. Supposed to get up to 50 degrees this week.

A beautiful sight we’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Snow walking is better than regular walking.

Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is the new bird

You were having trouble finding a rhyme there, weren’t you.

They sing a love song as we go along
Walking in a winter wonderland

Stalker birds? Or do they think they’re in a Disney movie?

In the meadow we can build a snowman

Awesome.

And pretend that he is Parson Brown

Why?

He’ll say “Are you married?” We’ll say “No, man.
But you can do the job while you’re in town.”

Now there’s a roundabout marriage proposal.

Later on, we’ll conspire

No more conspiracy theories. Snopes has enough to debunk as it is.

As we dream by the fire

Too cold to dream outside?

To face unafraid the plans that we made
Walking in a winter wonderland

Try not to be scared that you just agreed to be legally bound to spend a lot more time together.

In the meadow we can build a snowman

What are you locking yourselves into now?

And pretend that he’s a circus clown.

Tonight, the time by the fire will be less dreaming and more “can’t sleep, snow clown’ll eat me”.

We’ll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman
Until the other kiddies knock him down (come around).

“Other” kiddies? Ah, given the whole getting married thing earlier on I figured you were older. Whatever the case for whichever lyrics, these other kids seem to be saving you from the evil clown snowman.

When it snows ain’t it thrilling

Yes! Yes, it is.

Though your nose gets chilling

This cold nose thing is reminding me of the first couple lines of The Christmas Song. Almost expecting a culturally insensitive reference to-

We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way

That’s racist.

Walking in a winter wonderland.

Maybe just stay inside. You’re getting delirious.

October 31, 2019

One Pursued

Filed under: Sports!,Teh Interwebs — Katrina @ 11:44 pm

It began as it always does in the spring. And from there…


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August 31, 2019

Keyblades and Dugout Dances

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Going Places,Idiot Box,Sports! — Katrina @ 11:48 pm

It’s once again my annual countdown to nothing, and nothing has again arrived.

DAY
100

And I haven’t posted since Easter, despite having a lot of things in the works. What have I been busy with? Mostly running around Disney universes beating up monsters with a giant key. And watching the Nats dance. And tweeting regarding some of it. Let’s just get right to it.

Day 1,

Day 2,

Day 3,

Day 4,

Day 6, “I need… more rage. I need… more hearts.”

Day 10, I don’t always spill food on myself, but when I do, it’s onto clothes that came out of the dryer two hours ago.

Day 13, oh, did you not like my word choice nine years ago?

Day 19, went to the store for: 1) Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far, for PlayStation 4, 2) Kingdom Hearts 3, for PlayStation 4, 3) a PlayStation 4.

Day 20, WTF is up with this card system?

Day 23, Obi-Sean Kenobi bobblehead

Day 25, where the fuck is my box?!

Day 29, what do you mean stuck in Memphis?!

Day 30, guess I got to go get it, on a Saturday!

Day 35,

Day 37, done with this card business, now for the prequel with, uh, wait, isn’t that Roxas?

Day 39, don’t do it, Woody!

Day 42, made chili, because I’m American, Americans make chili.

Day 46, TV is broken, long live the new TV!

Day 47,

Day 50,

Day 60, this game just keeps going and going, doesn’t she get out of the darkness?

Day 61, break from Sora and friends for Crash Bandicoot remake.

Day 62, The graphics are beautiful and the music is sharper. But that log spinning bullshit in Great Gate and Native Fortress is still bullshit.

Day 65, watched the Nats get their asses handed to them by the Dodgers and all I got was this tote bag.

Day 67, not even the garlic festivals are safe.

Day 68, Sora and Riku have their own Pokem- er, I mean, “spirits”.

Day 82,

Day 84,

Day 86,

Day 87, drop, drop, drop, drop, drop… looking for Special Portals.

Day 89, the other game still hasn’t ended, she’s still in the darkness.

Day 90, and, at long last… Kingdom Hearts 3

Day 93, John Oliver is Zazu

Day 100, it’s a festival of dead tree sandwiches.

As these 100 Days of Summer draw to a close, I once again ask why am I even still doing this relic of college days half my life ago? Maybe it’s for some connection to my earlier life, that even as things change, certain rituals remain. But there’s no shortage of that. Up next the baseball season will give way to the postseason. Then Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and the Superbowl and Valentine’s Day and Lent and Easter and then I’ll be all “holy shit, how am I 37?!” And then once again it’ll be May 24, to do this again in 2020, for round 20, whatever form the world will be in then. Whatever indeed.

This has been Day 100 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 19.

April 21, 2019

Imperfect and Incomplete

Filed under: Going Places,Science,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 3:12 pm

Over the past 47 days I’ve looked up various information about our world and ourselves. And, I’ve got to say, when you really look at it, we’re in and part of a magical place. We all began as star stuff that formed and evolved under just right and unlikely conditions, and here we all are, on our Earth, on this beautiful (here in Montgomery County MD anyway) Easter Sunday.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, where I’ve come for Easter for eleven years now. And, given the line of cars I was in to get in here, a lot of other people have the same idea. And for good reason! It’s gorgeous and peaceful here, full of bright blooming flowers and budding trees. And everyone walking along the path in front of me, young and old, of any race, speaking multiple languages. Some in their Easter outfits having come here from church. Some in yarmulkes, to go on this evening to a seder. And so many others, walking among the flowers and in the sunshine.

What I see is what the world could and should be. I see the shared appreciation of a botanical garden on a spring day.

This past week, I wrote about the women scientists who despite misogyny made huge discoveries about our universe. I wrote about the bizarre iron-rich green icebergs and then some extremely dangerous but fascinating geographic and geologic features around the world. Then about some animals and their amazing abilities. And then some weird trees. Finally, some scientific articles I’d recently read, an all too small sampling of our species’ boundless creativity and innovation.

Outside this place and this day, it’s back to being reminded of all that’s wrong in the world. Even here, they have an exhibit about plastic pollution, a serious problem in need of our so very human ingenuity to solve and clean up. The diversity of the walkers in front of me is elsewhere a reason to kill and enact horrific xenophobic policies. The sexist attitudes that inhibit female scientists are still around, if much less so.

So many of these social issues are a distraction. How much energy gets wasted on ridiculous concerns like someone’s citizenship or skin color or sexual orientation or religion? How much energy is wasted on excessive accumulation of wealth and power by those with zero interest in actually using it for any greater good?

We’re humans. We are life on planet Earth. We are aware of ourselves and our place in the universe. We are the cosmos made conscious, the means by which the universe understands itself. Our presence, our existence, our progress is all a miracle. We inherited the universe in our own time to make our contribution and pass it on to those after us.

So we have to create and innovate, to cure and investigate, to fix and try again and again. We have to take care of each other and explore the world and universe around us and use it all responsibly, to do better each time. This is our sacred purpose. It’s just that simple and just that astoundingly difficult. But we can and must do it.

Happy Easter!

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that’s far too fleet.

Rush, “Freewill

April 20, 2019

Humans Having Ideas

Filed under: Science — Katrina @ 10:57 pm

Where would science be without humans thinking “hey, I’ve got an idea, hear me out…”? Nowhere, because that’s what science is, in a way. We’ve got a natural world and a lot of problems, so we do what humans do and think of how to solve those problems with what nature and the universe has already provided, that we may or may not know about yet.

Need better energy sources? Try bacteria!

When some researchers placed some electrodes into a hot pool at Yellowstone, they found some extremophile bacteria who live in that pool generate a very small amount of electricity. Similarly, other types of bacteria have been found to generate energy from organic matter, or at least they could with the appropriate metabolic tweaking. It seems to be in its early stages, but it could be a viable clean energy source. Very nice.

Need to protect coral reefs from warming oceans? Engineering to the rescue!

Climate change is a clear and imminent problem. On top of reducing emissions, what else can be done? Coral reefs are particularly in trouble, as the rising ocean temperatures are damaging and killing them. So what are some scientists suggesting? Make coral that can withstand the higher temperatures! This could be through controlled crossbreeding or gene editing or other measures. Others are straight up suggesting making clouds brighter, to reflect sunlight away from warming the ocean, an idea that seems neat if desperate and also could easily make things a whole lot worse. But, hey, climate change is a huge problem, and good to float some ideas.

Need to make a lake less deadly and give your people electricity? Maybe a joint solution for that.

A couple days ago, I mentioned Lake Nyos in Cameroon, which had an explosive release of carbon dioxide which killed almost everyone in the surrounding villages in one night. On the border of Rwanda and Congo is another lake which could well do the same thing, Lake Kivu. And worse, as it’d be an even bigger explosion that could kill two million people. Like with Nyos, there are pipes in place to release the carbon dioxide and methane gases in smaller doses to hopefully prevent a disaster. In fact, the methane is being used as a power source for Rwanda! So at the same time, they reduce the gas attack threat from the lake and provide electricity to more people and improve their lives. Yay! Will these measures hold and keep the people around the lake safe? We’ll see. And hopefully they won’t do something astoundingly stupid like drill for oil in Lake Could-Explode-And-Murder-Everyone-At-Any-Moment.

Need to clean your particle accelerator? Get a ferret!

In 1971, the National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL needed to clean the inside of the particle accelerator and clean it well, as even the tiniest speck would screw up their work. So, of course, they get a ferret named Felicia. Ferrets naturally crawl into small dark holes, so she wouldn’t have issues crawling through the accelerator tubes, dragging a big swab behind her to clean it as she went. And it worked! She did this for a while until a robot took over her job. Typical. She died the following year of a ruptured intestinal abscess. Rest in peace and power, Felicia. On another note, at CERN a couple years ago, a beech marten chewed on some wires, and cut the power to the Large Hadron Collider and fried itself in the process. That one was less helpful.

Need to examine lake pollution? How about a robotic eel!

Taking multiple measurements and samples from all over a lake is time consuming and cumbersome and just plain annoying. So some researchers in Switzerland made a robot eel for the job in Lake Geneva. It’s called Envirobot, and it moves through the water gently so to not disturb the water too much itself, and it’s made up of multiple chambers with different sensors for different physical, chemical, and biological tests for the water. It makes these measurements in real time and can map out the source of any contamination, among other things. Pretty sweet.

Need an image of a black hole? Make the whole planet one big telescope!

Just ten days ago, an image of a supermassive black hole was released, the first ever generated. How did they manage that? In a nutshell, with the combined efforts of eight observatories around the world, they formed the Event Horizon Telescope, essentially turning our planet itself into a telescope to collect the energy from this 26,000-light-year-away event horizon. From this they compiled all that data and put together an image of it that we saw all over the place last week. Good job, humans!

(I may not have explained all of these correctly. Sorry for any inaccuracies. Check out the links for better info.)

April 19, 2019

So, Anyway, Here’s Some Weird Trees

Filed under: Check It Out,Science — Katrina @ 10:42 pm

One time I saw a tree that was four trees.

Really. See?

It’s four big trees that, at their base, you can see are all just part of an even bigger one. So it’s a tree that’s four trees. There’s no other way to describe it.

Here’s a tree that’s eight trees.

This is the Octopus Tree on the coast of Oregon at Cape Meares. It’s a couple hundred years old and has been an important ceremonial site for the Tillamook tribe. Either the Tillamook themselves bent the tree like this, or the wind did it. Either way, there it is.

Here’s a tree that’s forty trees.

It looks like just one ordinary tree, but it’s actually got parts of a bunch of trees grafted onto it, all stone fruit trees, so this one tree grows plums, peaches, apricots, almonds, and others. It’s called the Tree of 40 Fruit and it’s a work of art as well as conservation.

Here’s a tree that’s 40,000 trees!

It’s called Pando, and it’s part of Fishlake National Forest in Utah. What appears to be a grove of multiple quaking aspens roughly 130 years old are actually genetically identical stems all connected to an underground root system estimated to be about 80,000 years old.

Here’s a tree on top of a completely different tree.

It’s a mulberry tree with a cherry tree growing on top. Both trees are thriving just fine in this scenario, which is unusual for epiphytes. It’s located in Italy, where it’s called Bialbero di Casorzo. Also called Grana Double Tree. It looks like someone just picked up the full grown cherry tree and stuck in on top of the mulberry, but it in fact grew there on its own, though how it got there was a mystery.

Here’s a tree growing atop a courthouse clock tower.

This is the clock tower of the Decatur County Courthouse in Greensburg, Indiana. And, ever since the 1870’s, it’s had trees growing out of it. Yes, plural. Some trees lived their whole lives up there and died only for more to sprout. It’s unknown how they got up there or how they’re surviving. They weren’t sure exactly the kind of tree it was until some researchers finally determined it’s a mulberry. Maybe this one will get a cherry tree on top of it, too.

Here’s a tree with its own mobile glass house.

After a whole long history of trying to protect this 18th century tree during the German winter, they finally built a glass house that can move on some tracks to cover it and uncover it as needed.

Here’s a tree that’s also a dining room.

This is the Bowthorpe Oak in Lincolnshire, England, and it’s a big fat pedunculate oak that’s likely over a thousand years old. Its interior has been used as a dining room that could seat 20 people. More recently it’s been mostly a hangout for sheep.

Here’s a tree that’s eating a bench.

This is Hungry Tree. It is on the grounds of a Dublin law school and is, well, eating this bench.

Here’s some trees that forgot which way to grow.

They eventually figured it out, but now the trees in this Polish forest have all got this uniform northward curve, and no one really knows how or why this happened.

Here’s some trees that look like they’ll grab you if you get too close.

Sweden has an enchanted troll forest full of twisted wind swept trees because of course it does.

Here’s a tree that just might get up and walk away.

It’s called the walking palm because it’s thought these weird stilt roots mean the tree can walk to where there’s more sunlight by putting down more roots in the intended direction and uprooting the back ones. Is this true? No, of course not. But wouldn’t that be cool?

The first image (the tree that’s four trees) is my own. All others are from Wikimedia Commons. Click on them to go to their pages there.

April 18, 2019

Animals That Are Better Than You

Filed under: Check It Out,Science — Katrina @ 10:36 pm

You’re human, presumably. I’ll bet that makes you think you’re super cool. Certain rights and privileges come with it for sure. But, you know, our fellow animalians have cool stuff going on themselves. Sure, they have claws and sharp teeth and speed. But you’ve got intelligence and technology and can openers and whatnot. That wins out, right? That’s a matter of debate, but for now, here’s some animals you have surely been underestimating…

Hagfish
They’ve been around mostly unchanged for like 300 million years. They have cartilaginous skulls but no jaws or vertebrae. They look like a tube sock with teeth. Good thing, too. If a shark or other would be predator comes along, they wouldn’t sustain much injury in the scuffle. They’ll just tie themselves in knots and slither out of it. And, for good measure, blast the assailant with slime. While assailant is thrashing around and suffocating trying to get the slime off, hagfish gets away. Badass. Can you do that? Didn’t think so.

Archerfish
I met some of these guys at the Georgia Aquarium back in 2016. Archerfish sees a bug above the water, shoots a spectacularly precise water jet at it, and says “Do you want ants? Because that’s how you get ants!” Or whatever kind of bug. They shoot hard and don’t miss and this is from underwater so their eyesight is amazing and a physical marvel itself. Oh, and they totally remember faces. Can you spit a precise jet of water at something three meters away? Didn’t think so.

Cleaner Wrasses
These bright little fish run coral reef cleaning stations. Bigger fish and other critters come by, and the little cleaner wrasses eat any ectoparasites bothering them or any unhealthy scales. This keeps their “clients” healthy, both physically and mentally, as not having parasites to worry about makes life so much easier. And the wrasses get a meal out of it. Not only do their clients stay smart, but they are pretty smart, too. They pass the mirror test! I’m going to assume you recognize the being in the mirror is your own reflection, so I’ll give you that. But the cleaning stations that keep reefs healthy and going? Your own space is probably a disaster and you’re likely doing something or other contributing to climate change which is bleaching and killing reefs. You’re no cleaner wrasse.

Malabar Giant Squirrel
Let’s step out of the water now and over to southern India. Up in the trees are large multicolored squirrels, with black, brown, beige, and seemingly even purple and red fur, and I swear they are totally real. This coloration acts as camouflage to protect them from predators. And to make them look totally fabulous! In fact, Teen Vogue had this to say:

Today, while exploring the Internet, we came across the most beautiful hair we’ve ever seen. Think ombre fade, velvety-soft finish, and glistening hues of midnight blue, burgundy, burnt sienna, tangerine, and yellow ochre. Oh, and did we mention that this was someone’s natural hair color? That’s right, we’re talking about a squirrel.

Is your hair naturally that fabulous? Didn’t think so.

African Painted Wolves
They’re also called African wild dogs. Painted dogs. Whatever you want to call them, they roam the savanna alongside lions and hyenas as a serious egalitarian pack. The monogamous breeding pair is in charge but everyone gets a say. No, seriously, they vote. By sneezing. Also, the pups come first. They feed the pups before the adults. They take care of any pack member who is sick or injured or otherwise can’t be productive. Humans, on the other hand, are always finding excuses to leave behind the young, old, and disabled, always hoarding things for ourselves, and finding ways to make it so certain people’s “sneezes” don’t count. African Painted Wolves have it figured out. What the hell is our excuse?

April 17, 2019

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Dead

Filed under: Check It Out,Science — Katrina @ 11:08 pm

Not everywhere is a place you can live and expect to, well, keep living. Can’t live at the bottom of the sea or the polar ice caps or outer space without some serious technological assistance. But there are plenty of other places on our own planet that are beautiful and strange and otherworldly… that want to kill you dead.

Such as…

Smoking Hills
Canada
Say you’re trekking through coastal northern Canada for some reason. You’re freezing and long for warmth when, off in the distance, smoke! You think it’s a campfire or something, so you rush to get warm.

But it’s no campfire. The hills themselves are burning and have been for centuries and will be for centuries more. The sulfur in the hills ignites when exposed to air and makes any nearby pools of water super acidic, so it’s a smoldering hellscape. This place wants you dead.

So maybe instead of some place cold, Arctic, and acidic, try hot, tropical, and alkaline? Okay, if you insist…

Lake Natron
Tanzania

Is this what you had in mind? Lake Natron is a soda lake (not the kind you have to sacrifice Yoshi for) that’s a toasty 120 degrees and a caustic pH above 12. And if despite that you think about taking a dip anyway, you’ll turn to stone! Well, not quite, but you definitely shouldn’t. This place is more for the cyanobacteria that make the lake so red and for the lesser flamingos that eat them. Not you. This lake wants you dead.

Prefer acid to alkaline after all then? Then take a hop across the Indian Ocean to…

Kawah Ijen
Indonesia
Does this Indonesian volcano have actual blue lava and a cool turquoise lake? Got to check that out!

Or not. The turquoise lake is more acidic than your car battery and its fumes have been known to kill birds midflight. And that blue lava is actually just blue flames from ignited liquid sulfur. Amazing! Less so, however, for the sulfur miners who toil up there and breathe the fumes every day for low wages, leading to serious respiratory problems. Not a place people should be working without protection and better pay! Or just at all perhaps. Because this place wants you dead.

Want to head back north to cooler places? Okay…

Corryvreckan
Scotland
How about a nice boat ride around some Scottish islands? What could go wrong…?

Except for a big ass whirlpool from which there is no escape! The formation of the underwater rocks jutting out from the two nearby islands causes this ferocious maelstrom that will devour you without a second thought. It even tried to eat George Orwell while he was working on “1984”. Was this attempt on the author’s life politically motivated? The world may never know. All I can say is that this Scottish strait wants you dead.

Will sailing across the Atlantic save you?

Old Sow
US, Canada
Nope. If Corryvreckan doesn’t get you on one side of the Atlantic, Old Sow will on the other, and it’ll make squealing pig noises at you for good measure. Just when you thought it was safe to sail around in your little boat in the waters off Maine and New Brunswick… Seemingly innocent locales that totally want you dead.

Better find some land…
(more…)

April 16, 2019

You Can’t Just Ask Icebergs Why They’re Green

Filed under: Check It Out,Science — Katrina @ 9:54 pm

It’s April. It’s spring. Easter is this Sunday. The Paschal full moon will shine this week. Flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing. The air is warming up as the days are getting longer.

So let’s talk about icebergs.

Why not? I can think of another mid-April where thinking more about icebergs might have prevented certain disaster…

Sorry. Too soon?

Well, anyway, I’m talking specifically about antarctic icebergs, where, by the way, no flowers are blooming, the days are getting shorter, and it’s of course extremely cold.

Even more specifically, about why some of these icebergs are green.

Glacial ice normally comes in white and blue. White means there’s a lot of air bubbles in it to scatter light, while blue has been so compressed by the snow and ice accumulating on top that the air bubbles are fewer, and blue is the only color reflected.

And yet… somehow there are green ones? What’s that about?

For one, the green icebergs don’t have air bubbles and therefore should be blue. It’s not glacial ice but marine ice, ocean water frozen to the undersides of ice shelves. So something is added to the mix to make the otherwise blue iceberg into a green one. Something… yellow, perhaps?

Must be dissolved organic carbon, a.k.a. bits of dead organisms that got stuck in there. That would make the ice yellow, and yellow is what you add to blue to get green, so mystery solved!

Or not. Blue and green have about the same amount of the yellowing dead organism bits.

Anyway, turns out the green is from iron oxides, which you already know if you looked at any of the above links which explain all this way better than I am and also have some cool pictures. Glacial movement grinds rock into some kind of glacial flour (actual term) which gets caught up in the ocean water that freezes under the ice shelves to become marine ice. This contains yellowish red iron oxides to mix with the blue, so there you go. A chunk of that breaks off the ice shelf and floats away, and that’s how you make a green iceberg!

Okay, but so what? Who cares if some iron-laden icebergs are out sailing around?

Phytoplankton, that’s who! They rely on this iron transport, this ferrum ferry if you will, to bring them some much needed nutrients.

In other words, these verdant bits of ice shelf come rolling in, and phytoplankton are like…

April 15, 2019

Science Is Female

Filed under: Check It Out,Estrogen,Science — Katrina @ 11:00 pm

Too often, science has been assigned male. Or at least it’s assumed every major discovery or breakthrough has been achieved by men. And of course for so long it’s been set up so that only men really could. But, even so, a great many women have made significant strides and discoveries in science, much more than is often realized.

So let’s remember some of these awesome women in science. Such as…

Marie Curie
1867 – 1934
Poland, France

-Probably the only one you could readily name
-Originally Maria Skłodowska
-Why are these uranium minerals more active than uranium alone?
-Ah, it’s polonium and radium!
-And that’s a Nobel in Physics!
-Which was almost awarded only to Pierre and to Henri Becquerel before Nobel committee was told “Don’t you fucking dare exclude her!”
-Now isolated radium
-And now a Nobel in Chemistry!
-Explore more uses of radium. What could possibly go wrong?
-What do you mean aplastic anemia?!

Rosalind Franklin
1920 – 1958
UK
-Probably the only other one you could readily name
-Went from noticing coal has holes in it to x-ray diffraction
-Didn’t believe in DNA model building without sufficient data
-Wasn’t sure Photo 51 was sufficient data
-Unfortunately for her, Crick and Watson did not share this view
-Nor did they believe in not reading others’ semi-confidential data and stealing it
-Got trolled into workplace infighting
-Would fight you and win
-Died of ovarian cancer before she could win Nobel
-Is currently in afterlife, pounding her fist while waiting for James Watson, like “Call me Rosy again, motherfucker, I dare you…”

Lise Meitner
1878 – 1968
Austria, Sweden

-Responded to Vienna not believing girls should learn math or science with “screw you, I’m doing it anyway”
-So she got her doctorate at University of Vienna
-Max Planck’s lectures did not allow women to attend, but she did it anyway.
-She became his assistant
Her hair did not catch fire.
-Discovered protactinium.
-Then had to get the hell out of Germany and flee to Sweden because World War II and Jewish
-Then something weird when a uranium atom got split in half…
-Nuclear fission!
-Except only her lab partner Otto Hahn got the Nobel for it. Typical.
-She did share the Enrico Fermi Award with him, though.
-Also, meitnerium.
-She begged for nuclear fission to not be used for destructive purposes.
-Spoiler alert: It was totally used for destructive purposes.

Rachel Carson
1907 – 1964
US

-Aquatic biologist looking at fish populations
-Author of books about the sea
-A wild overuse of DDT appeared
-Used “Silent Spring”
-It’s super effective.

Maria Goeppert-Mayer
1906 – 1972
Germany, US

-Got the unit for two-photon absorption cross section named for her.
-Figured out nuclear shell model.
-Second woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics
-Worked most of her career in unpaid and volunteer positions.
-Her facial expression above shows how she felt about this.
-She did finally get a full paid position at UC San Diego, three years after which she got the Nobel
-Equal pay for equal work!

Mary Anning
1799 – 1847
UK

-She unearthed and understood fossils, before people really knew extinction was a thing.
-Oh, look, an ichthyosaur!
-Wow, a pterosaur!
-Holy fuck, a plesiosaur!!!
-Male scientists: “These are huge finds!”
-Male scientists: “Oh, did you want credit for any of this? LOL”
-Mary Anning: “Have I mentioned those weird rocks you all can’t identify are actually fossilized shit?”

And many many many more. To be continued…

March 31, 2019

We Have a Serious Drinking Problem

Filed under: Foodz,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:43 pm

A couple days ago, baseball season officially began (Go Nats!), a time of eating peanuts and hot dogs, homeruns, and yelling “why did you swing at that?! that was up to your eyeballs!”. Oh, and lots and lots of alcohol.

A couple weeks ago was St. Patrick’s Day, a day for corned beef, green apparel, and tired Irish stereotypes. Oh, and lots and lots of alcohol.

A couple months ago was the Superbowl, a day of weird commercials, salty snacks, and cheering against the Patriots. Oh, and lots and lots of alcohol.

Walk into just about any restaurant that isn’t a fast food place and open the menu. What takes up at least half the menu? Lots and lots of alcohol.

This lots and lots of alcohol in these and other contexts is all normal and familiar to us. But, if I may ask a risky question… what if it weren’t?

I mean, it’s all so normal and familiar to us that it’s easy to forget that alcohol is dangerous!

So many dead each year from drunk driving or alcohol poisoning or doing stupid shit while drunk. So much violence and abuse is committed by those under the influence. So many get addicted.

And, yet, we treat alcohol consumption as expected of adults. It’s portrayed as “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!” What must you do when faced with overwhelming stress, according to pop culture? Drink a lot! Depressed? Drink! Annoyed? Drink! Celebrating? Drink! And if you’re in a place or situation where you can’t drink, well, that’s just the worst thing in the world and you cringe at the mere idea!

Well, unless you don’t drink, but why on earth wouldn’t you drink? Are you Muslim or Mormon? Are you pregnant? Are you some stuck up loser? That seems to be the attitude, since I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to an event where there was a wide selection of wine or some spiked punch, but I ask for something without alcohol, and I get some version of “LOL water is over there, loser”. Like, is the idea that someone might not want to put this stuff into their body so unthinkable?

We’re obsessed with alcohol, so much so that we don’t realize it and find the idea absurd. But maybe it’s time we acknowledged it. Maybe it’s time we acknowledged that maybe we could do just fine without it.

I’m not advocating prohibition. Prohibition was a disaster. Alcohol is just too ingrained in our culture. That and I don’t want to see any reduction in civil liberties. What I’m suggesting is that we as a society just stop acting like alcohol is so damn important.

And, all of that said, lower the drinking age!
(more…)

February 14, 2019

Mmmm, Candy Hearts 14

Filed under: Foodz,Idiot Box,Musical Musing,Think About It!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:35 pm

It’s Valentine’s Day! Time to muse about relationships while reading and eating the candy hearts-

Oh. There aren’t any this year.

Well, that’s a let down.

You know what else is a let down? Breakups.

To varying degrees anyway. But they always suck, even when the breakup is really in the best interest of both or all involved (which might well be the case for almost all of them, come to think of it). There’s the disappointment, the loss, the uncertainty. There’s wondering what went wrong, what should have been done differently, what you’re going to do now.

That much is obvious. That really all you can do at this point is move on, whatever that means.

What’s less obvious is that, in the process of this enigmatic moving on, you’ve got to put a lot of energy into not doing anything stupid!

Even the most amicable breakups involve hurt, anger, and resentment, which must be processed and navigated in the following period of time. During this, these feelings can lead to some irrational impulses, looking for what can be done to make the emotional agony stop. And you’ve got to mentally work hard to determine what action truly is reasonable or is just something you’re deeming reasonable because the brain can’t stand all the hurt, anger, and resentment fluttering around like mosquitoes and just wants to try anything to make them go away.

You can do it! I say “whatever that means” about moving on since there’s no point where you’ve explicitly moved on, and depending on the nature of the recently ended relationship some parts may stick with you long term. And that’s okay. But eventually you’ll latch onto something else (not necessarily another love interest, just anything that captivates you), which probably won’t pull you out of this funk totally but at least it’s something else to think about.

But until you get to that point, don’t do anything stupid!

Stupid can be something like getting drunk and sending a sappy text to your ex begging to get back together. Ugh. Don’t do that. It could also be sending them an angry message ripping them to pieces. Ugh. Don’t do that either. All you do is humiliate yourself, create bad (or worse) blood, and feel like shit about that along with all the other feelings that have not improved in this.

Or for some it can get more severe than that, such as threats, self-harm, vandalism, or violence. Obviously don’t do that. Seek help if you feel even the urge to do any of that (well, seeking help in general when going through this might be a good idea, for that matter). Certainly this sort of behavior helps and accomplishes nothing. What would give you the idea to do any of this in the first place?

Oh, right, all of popular media, where super toxic post-breakup behavior is portrayed as normal and expected.

Have I mentioned how much I hate Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”? Where she sings about destroying her cheating boyfriend’s beloved car? Not cool. I mean, the car didn’t do anything wrong. And you’re looking at getting sued for damages, which, aside from the hefty bill, involves more interaction with said cheating asshole, an interaction where you’re the loser who is forced to pay him. Yikes!

I mean, I get that the song is not actually meant to encourage anyone to go out and destroy their exes’ vehicles but to capture the anger and betrayal and desire for revenge. Anyone who has been at the receiving end of this can certainly relate. Though these feelings manifest differently in different people, and this vehicular vandalism fantasy is not necessarily what someone in this position wants to hear. In fact, when someone is actually in a position of being betrayed by a loved one and is this special kind of vulnerable, is this really the kind of behavior to be encouraging, even if just in theory?

Of course, then there’s the Lily Allen video, where she sneaks laxatives into her ex’s drink and pays a gang to beat him up and ransack his apartment. Oy.

Then there’s however many sitcoms where exes bitterly hurt and sabotage each other or characters recount an ex burning their clothes or something that is completely utterly beyond the pale but is treated as if an inherent part of ending a relationship.

Then again, maybe this is supposed to be encouraging. Like “yeah, I feel bad right now, but at least I’m not doing that shit!” But what a low bar to meet!

And you most likely have it together enough not to do that shit. But when exes are so often portrayed as untrustworthy or even dangerous, how is someone processing a breakup supposed to feel? On top of it all, they get to watch someone in their position being demonized? Like, they’re going through this and their ex is with someone else already, and all of a sudden it’s, congratulations, you’re now the villain in every romantic comedy!

The object is to come through this trying time with as much grace and dignity as can be reasonably preserved, a challenge even without messages coming from all over trying to paint you as unstable.

Yup, once again, popular media can exaggerate and mislead about things.

I mean, I totally saw candy conversation hearts at Target the other day. They’re made by more than one company, you know.

February 4, 2019

Corn Syrup

Filed under: Check It Out,Idiot Box,Sports!,Teh Interwebs — Katrina @ 10:14 pm

Yesterday was yet another Superbowl Sunday, and as usual, I was tweeting and retweeting. So here’s some of the crap I was coughing up while the Patriots and Rams weren’t scoring like at all and Adam Levine was having an intentional wardrobe malfunction.

Anyway, let’s get to it. It was all mostly in one tweet thread, so I didn’t bother linking to the tweet directly for most of these since they are in there, and it started out with a kiss, how did it end up like this, it was only a kiss, it was only a kiss…

*shakes head*

By that I mean…

You get the idea. Also…

And so on…

sciville Food is made. Chicken chili, guacamole, and cookies. Time for break from Puppy Bowl to watch Man Bowl. #Superbowl

sciville Patriotic theater at an athletic event?! Blasphemy! I guess I’d better get down on my knee… that’s how you show reverence for the country and flag, right? #TakeAKnee #Superbowl
(more…)

December 31, 2018

Same Old 2018

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Going Places — Katrina @ 11:28 pm

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. Time to look back over the last 12 months. I begin most years feeling like this year will be special and with new experiences. And certainly this has been true for many. When this year began, however, I figured it wouldn’t be special. It’d just be the same old stuff I do every year. Well, let’s see what happened.

January: Common Area Tree

-What a ridiculous ad.
-Time to head to Greenbelt to see them vote to lower the voting age!
-Except everything is encased in ice and it would be incredibly hazardous to drive all the way there.
-Going to have to miss this one.
-But they did it!
-Why is someone waking me this early on a Saturday morning?
-Oh. Shit.
-A dead tree seemed to have gotten in a fight with my parked car.
-Someone get this tree off my poor car!
-Oh, wow, windshield survived. Just this minor dent.
-My car is a champ!
-Seems Hawaii had a missile alert snafu.

February: Shot 6

-Time for the game!
-I hate the Eagles but I’m so sick of the Patriots so… *cringe* Go Eagles. *cringe*
-Ah, the Eagles did win!
-Really wished I’d changed the channel right away after that.
-Olympics!
-It’s Ash Valentines!
-JavaScript
-Oh, shit, Parkland shooting.
-Time for US vs Canada women’s hockey final. So tense. Another heartbreak?
-Argh, overtime!
-And now a shootout.
-Sudden death.
-HOLY CRAP, WE WON!!!!
-Jury duty!

March: If They Could

-JavaScript
-Black Panther
-No, raising the gun age to 21 won’t stop shootings. It just pins the blame on youth.
-Finally a ski evening before the season is out. It’s at least open this time but not much snow.
-This week in the United States: The Orange Thing and Joe Biden are gearing up for a fistfight, and the most popular book out now is a gay fanfic about Mike Pence’s rabbit.
-Time for March for our Lives!
-And for Easter weekend… AwesomeCon!

April: AGI

-AwesomeCon again, for Easter Fools Day.
-I bought a lot of refrigerator magnets.
-Ready Player One
-Was that really the best way to handle the Apu thing? Because it really wasn’t.
-March for Science isn’t all rainy this time. Not as many people though.
-It’d help to fill out the form correctly.
-Caps are in the playoffs again, heading to the second round against the Penguins, again. Sigh. Here we go again.

May: Walk Off

-Star Wars Day at Nats Park! Day before my birthday.
-They lost.
WES threw me a birthday party!
-Not technically. But platform was a party and it was my birthday, so there you go.
-Back at Nats Park next day on my birthday.
-They’re losing.
-They came back in the ninth.
-Nats win!
-Whoa, the Caps actually beat the Penguins and advanced to the conference final!
-Royal wedding.
-Caps are about to be eliminated from Eastern Conference final.
-Well, they won Game 6 in a shut out. That’s good.
-And Game 7 is a shut out, too.
-Caps are going to the Stanley Cup final!!!
-I’ll head over to the gaming section and glance in the case just for shits and giggles, not like they’ll have it-
-Holy shit, they have it!
-SNES CLASSIC!!!!
-Now for Stanley Cup final against Vegas Golden Knights.
-…
-WHAT?!?!?!

June: It’s Not a Desert Mirage

-Caps have pulled ahead in the series.
-Time for Game 5.
-WTF did you do?!
-Game 5 is tied.
-We’re up by one in Game 5.
-Oh, what’s happening to the clock?
-Almost over.
-Is 0.6 seconds enough time for the Golden Knights to tie it up?
-Oh my God.
-OH MY GOD
-It’s for real. I’m seeing this.
-That’s MY team!
CAPITALS WIN THE STANLEY CUP!!!!
-And just two days later…
-JUSTIFY WINS THE TRIPLE CROWN!!!!
-So Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, and jockey Mike Smith drank out of the Stanley Cup with Jimmy Fallon because of course they did.
-Anthony Bourdain
Flag Day.
-Suddenly a very busy week.
-Didn’t make it to the rally about the immigrant family separations.

July: Would

-My turn to bring snacks!
-Now to make chili con… corn. I guess.
-And ‘splosions.
-The country is sparkling once again.
-Looks like Scott Pruitt is out.
-Sunflowers
-France wins the World Cup over Croatia
-Orange Thing meets with Putin and straight up commits treason in plain sight.
-Does that mean what I think it means?

August: Salchipapas

-It does!
-Hmm. No cable or internet.
-What a horrible couple of days!
-Got it repaired.
-Final episode of Sense8.
-Do they have it? Do they have it?
-They do!
-NES CLASSIC!!!!
-Time to go counterprotest some white supremacist assholes invading my city.
-Not very many of them. LOL
-Taking someone to the fair to meet the sheep.
-I also got centrifuged.
-Let’s go again.
-Or not.
-There goes McCain.
-It’s a puppy!
Mmmm, poke.

September: Indelible in the Hippocampus

-Stop saying “and no one is talking about it“.
-Eighth Grade
-Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
-o snap, anonymous op-ed from inside Orange Thing administration
-It’s the 17th anniversary.
-Dinner with some cool people
-BoJack Horseman!
-Nats game!
-And they actually shut out the Mets 6-0!
-If people could not launch into “kids these days” discussions, like, ever, that’d be great.
-Brett Kavanaugh did some bad things. He retorts by yelling about beer or something.
-Bazaar!

October: Deadpan

-He insists he’s an impartial judge really.
-And gets confirmed anyway.
– “Half an hour ago I was a white-haired Scotsman”
-Dallas sucks
-Pumpkin cookies! Could be improved.
-Brazil, WTF are you doing?
-Time to give out candy to whoever comes to my door!

November: Boneless

-Sugarloaf
-WES auction (and lamps)
-Time to vote…
-Damn it, Florida, Georgia, Texas… oh, a whole lot of states.
-Why must people fight?
-Are we going to meet up?
-No, doesn’t look like it.
-What do you mean you’re not doing the Thanksgiving Day song?!
-I went with a boneless turkey this time.
-It’s good.
-Cooking and then eating Thanksgiving meal while watching parade, dog show, and football. Nice.

December: You Can’t Mansplain the Suffragette

-There goes HW.
-Mannheim Steamroller
-Sometimes I feel really out of place
-Winter Festival!
-Pumpkin cookies! I nailed it this time!
-Christmas shopping and then mailing.
-More cookies.
-Light shows.
-And… Christmas Eve.
-Happy 200th Anniversary, Silent Night!
-Solo Christmas.
-I made my own feast of roast beast!
-Then a lot of watching Doctor Who.
-Ralph Breaks the Internet
-Recapped the year.

So that’s that. Less than an hour to go before that big crystal thing in Times Square makes its descent. So did anything interesting happen? Capitals won the Stanley Cup. World politics continues to be totally cuckoo. Me? Didn’t manage to go on any excursions this time. A lot of my friends had an interesting year. I just sort of sat here and watched it all go by.

Maybe in 2019 I should do a little more again. Sounds like a plan. It’ll be along in half an hour…

December 24, 2018

Dear Santa

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 8:41 pm

Dear Santa,

Hi! Another Christmas is upon us, another year nearly over. Seems to go by quickly for us, but must be so much quicker for centuries-old you.

Speaking of being centuries old, hey, did you know that tonight Silent Night is 200 years old? While you’ll be on your physics-defying worldwide journey tonight, this song will once again take its candlelit place in late night services. One thing I’ve always wondered is that, if you’re a stickler about people being asleep in bed when you come by, do you make an exception for these late night festivities? I should think you do.

Of course, I don’t believe in all that stuff about you spying on everyone at all times, looking for what falls into the “naughty” or “nice” category, a painfully simplistic dichotomy when people are at all times on a spectrum between good and evil, however these are defined. Parents push this narrative to make you out to be a jerk, a tool for their perennial mind games with those they brought into the world. I mean, I imagine that must piss you off. You’re a jolly kindly soul who just wants to make everyone happy, and here people and our society as a whole are exploiting your name to commit mass emotional manipulation. Though it could of course be a whole lot worse.

Of course, come to think of it, never mind that I don’t believe in all that. Here I am, at 35 years old, writing a letter to Santa. Does this mean I believe in you at all? Shouldn’t I have outgrown this quite a long time ago?

Really, I find the whole concept of belief to be odd. Belief in Santa Claus. Belief in God. What does that mean? That I believe you to exist? Well, what does that matter? Either you exist or you don’t. Belief doesn’t affect that. What it really means is whether I believe whoever first told me you exist at all. There wasn’t any concrete proof of this, but whoever must have also said things that were demonstrably true, so maybe belief could mean I believe this to be true as well. But with a lack of evidence that can’t be otherwise explained, it’s harder to hold on to that idea. But is belief something to be held onto despite lack of evidence? I guess there’s supposed to be some virtue in this, but I wonder this is one of those virtues that really just amount to allowing yourself to be easily manipulated by others, be it parents saying Santa won’t give presents if you’re bad or preachers saying God will send you to hell if you vote Democrat.

And yet, all of that said, here I am writing you a letter, at 35 years old. Why? Should I be telling you what I want for Christmas? Maybe. Not like that annoying Grown Up Christmas List song, though. You know the one. It’s a fine song, really. Wishing for wars to never start and everyone to have a friend. Sure, that’s nice. This season is all about wishing for peace on earth and the like, so why not? Though the song does have overtones of saying kids are silly for asking for toys and shit, which is not so nice. Nothing wrong with toys all wrapped up in pretty packages. I mean, it’s not zero sum here. You can wish for a better world while still feeling that sense of joy and wonder upon seeing what’s under the tree Christmas morning. But, again, this holiday tends to be stuck with a lot of black-and-white scenarios.

So maybe I should be writing to let you know what I want you to bring me. Well, it’s kind of already Christmas Eve, so kind of a bitch move to be dropping that on you now. You defy physics as it is, but even that’s a bit much, right?

Of course, that’s just it. You defy physics, yet your legend still gives you a lot of seemingly arbitrary limitations. Like, you need a sleigh and flying reindeer? What’s with that? Is it because around the time your legend was coming into being these were the main ways of conveyance? Honestly, I think it makes much more sense to teleport. This is an idea we can imagine now, though maybe a long time ago not so much. Or at least maybe that would have made you too supernatural. In any case, it is also said you go down chimneys, even though most homes do not have chimneys and fireplaces. My house when I was little didn’t have one, but my parents said you came through the backdoor. Of course, much longer ago, most homes would have had chimneys, so your legend was made based on what was available at the time. Our world has moved past it, but our vision of you has not. Maybe our vision of you is due for a much needed update.

Then there’s you living at the North Pole. When the Winter Solstice hits, you’ve been in total darkness for like three months, halfway through it, so makes sense that’s the point where you go elsewhere for some light. But then again, you go at night, so maybe the point is moot. Do you actually live at the South Pole? At or near Amundsen-Scott Station perhaps? You’re three months into 24/7 sunlight and you need some darkness before you lose your mind. Might give the southern hemisphere some self esteem in all this. Here we are celebrating this holiday as a Winter Solstice thing, but it’s their Summer Solstice. When their Winter Solstice comes around, there’s no Christmas. Always winter and never Christmas. Like some kid was offered Turkish Delight by some witch in exchange for betraying his siblings.

Or maybe you go by Annual Gift Man and live on the moon.

Then there’s the elves who make the toys. Another outdated part of your legend. Christmas presents are generally purchased somewhere, created by some corporation by way of underpaid Asian laborers.

Maybe there’s no elves and not even a Christmas Eve journey. Maybe you just have us all do the gift giving to each other in your name. Your existence is a tenuous technicality in that you pass your giving spirit to us this season.

Still, though, it must be pretty sweet. Making everyone happy at Christmas while not having to actually interact with them. Immortality. Traveling everywhere at way beyond warp speed.

Okay, I think I know what I want for Christmas.

I want to be YOU!

Tim Allen says all I need is a slippery rooftop…

Your friend and totally honestly not usurper,

Katrina

Merry Christmas!

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