That wasn’t the best life choice, if I’m going to be honest…

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Mrrglpff.

*achem*

Lemme try again. Mornin’.

Sorry. First thought of the day after I finished staring into the toilet of regret. See, my guy unexpectedly got today and tomorrow off. He never gets two days off in a row. And it being sooo close to New Year’s, we decided to let the champagne aisle tempt us. Got a few to try, decided Rose Moscato is dee-lish-us…the rest is kind of a giggly blur.

I’m not a big drinker, but when I imbibe it’s usually a few shots of vodka or margaritas. I’ll drink maybe once a month. A little more during BBQ season of course. Can’t set off fireworks that rival Marge’s potato salad if you don’t have at least a little buzz going.

*The creators of this blog would like to remind readers not to be morons. The “advice” mentioned within this blog is intended for comedic purposes only. If you get sloshed and fire a bottle rocket into your junk, that’s on you.*

I don’t do beer. I just cannot stomach it. My guy is a beer connoisseur and has tried to get me to wave the rotten hops flag. He says, “You’re a redneck. Your family is Polish and British! This should be in your DNA.” I am an embarrassment to both my geographical location and my genes I suppose.

No beer for me. And usually, no wine, either. It’s got to be just the right kind. My older sister turned me on to what I considered a tootie fruitie froo-froo wine when she was up for a visit awhile back. It’s pink and silly looking.

Remember Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish? Of course you do. In it, there is a Yink. The Yink likes to drink. And the thing he likes to drink is ink. And the ink he likes to drink is pink. Look up the picture of the Yink’s pink ink.

Yeah. It’s that kind of “wine”. Kiddie wine, if that wasn’t illegal.

*Again, the creators of this blog feel they need to step in and remind you that wine for kids IS illegal. It’s illegal as hell, as we found out when we tried to patent the idea to take to Shark Tank. Save yourself the hassle with the patent office and the visit from the social worker and don’t try it.*

Apparently, champagne is the same for me. I fell for a pink, glittery label. And it even tasted silly, too. It was all a ruse.

That evil bitch.

I tell you what. It doesn’t taste silly this morning. Two rounds of Alka-Seltzer, some very watered down coffee, and three pieces of gum later and I think most of the cotton is out of my mouth. Gawd damn. Never again. Never. Next New Year’s I will celebrate with that crappy bubbly apple juice I get the kids. Yeah, I’ll have to choke it down. But it won’t reach up and bitch slap me in the morning.

So today is the end of the year. We’ve already addressed the end-of recaps everyone’s doing. I suppose that’s normal. Everyone wants a way to close out the old before starting the new. Take a look back and see what happened, what you did, where you’re going.

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions?

When we were kids, we were raised Catholic. I’m no longer Catholic, as I think I’ve mentioned before, but we really did used to follow the tenets of the religion to a decent degree. We weren’t reciting the Breviary or thumbing rosary beads on a daily basis. But we did go to mass, we did get ashes on our heads, we attended midnight mass on Christmas Eve and all that jazz. One of the things we did was observe the practice of giving something up for Lent.

For those unfamiliar with the religion, Lent is an observance of time between when Jesus was arrested and when he was crucified. During that time, Catholics are asked to give up something meaningful to them. For kids, it was something like chocolate or soda. I suppose modern kids would say they were going to give up Twitter or selfies. The idea is to suffer as Jesus suffered.

Now, I’m not for offending anyone. I have known some incredible people who firmly believed in the tenets of Catholicism. I don’t want to pick on the religion at all, and I’m saying this only as my own personal feelings on the matter. I never understood how not eating chocolate made me suffer on the same level as someone who was incarcerated and awaiting death by crucifixion.

I know, I know. It’s only symbolic. I get that. Still, never really felt like it had any meaning.

To me, New Year’s resolutions have that same trite vibe. All good intentions with no real oomph behind them. It’s easy not to eat chocolate when you’re a kid and your mum won’t buy it for you. And that ease makes it utterly meaningless. It’s also very easy on New Year’s to announce a dozen things you want to do differently in the new year.

Here’s to losing fifty pounds! *clink*

I’m going to start that college fund for my kid! *glug*

I won’t call Betty in accounting “Butt-faced Bertha” anymore! *splosh*

I’mma love all y’all an’ I’mma letchoo know everyday, man. *sniff* *hic*

Who are you kidding? You know you won’t lose those pounds. Your kid’s already 16, so that college fund ship has pretty much already sailed. You might not call that woman Butt-faced Bertha out loud, but you’ll never, ever stop thinking it. And we love you, too, man. Now got to bed before you yak on my carpet.

“Bethie, you’re awful cynical this morning.”

Um, bottle of moscato.

“Oh. Right.”

Besides, it’s not cynicism. Everyone says you are a cynic if you’re just being realistic. My point is that it’s very easy to make grand plans when you’re raising your glass with your friends and looking ahead to a wide open blank book of a new year. It’s easy to make trite promises, and that makes them meaningless.

Change shouldn’t come because you turned the page on a calendar. Change should come because you recognize that there is a desire or need to make something about your life different.

In spite of what the pounding in my head is making it seem like, I’m actually a big believer in change. I believe people CAN change and I believe the very best ones do. I believe life is a huge learning experience, and if you still think about things and hold the same beliefs when you’re 40 as you did at 20, then you are doing it WRONG. If you don’t branch out and learn to look at things from a different perspective, then you are not growing. You’re wasting this opportunity of life.

If I’m still kickin’ in ten years, I might look back on this here blog post and be like, “Damn, Younger Bethie…what a silly little twit. To think you’d never drink moscato again. So naive!”

And that’s good. It’s good to recognize that you’re not always going to be the same. You shouldn’t be. The universe is fluid and ever-changing. Your life should be as well.

But you should be growing and changing in small increments every day, not just once a year. Not just because you feel like you “failed” at something in the year you’re leaving behind. Not just because you’ve got the bubbles of your moscato mistress whispering in your ear while you watch that glowing ball drop.

Besides, people are too hard on themselves at New Year’s. That’s the other reason I hate New Year’s resolutions. The push to make these grand promises makes people unreasonable, and unreasonably negative about themselves. Look at those resolutions you made while toasting with your friends, but do it in an accurate light, not from a place of disappointment.

Those pounds you want to lose depend on your reasons. If it’s to get healthy, then go for it. Don’t announce to the world that you’re going to lose 50 lbs and be skinny as a runway model. That’s just setting yourself up for failure. Stop focusing on numbers and just make a promise to yourself that you’ll take better care of your body. Didn’t you already start doing that? How many times have you picked up an apple instead of a bag of chips? Those things count, you know, and your grand gesture with the champagne glass in your hand just negated all the little changes you’ve been making. Stop beating yourself up for not fitting into a teeny size. Keep doing what you’re doing, take out a few elevators and add some stairs. Little bits, reasonable bits.

So you didn’t make that college fund. How could you? You didn’t have two pennies to rub together after you paid for the water heater that up and broke. Your kid had a roof, heat, food…you spent a lot of time goofing around with him, had a lot of good, deep discussions that older teens suddenly need to have. You helped him look into outside funding and helped him start his own savings account. All in all, you really didn’t do that bad. Keep up on his classwork a little better this year, help him scan for scholarships, be there to listen and have fun with him in the new year.

And Betty? Betty is an awful person. That’s why you call her Butt-faced Bertha. She’s mean and nasty, and that’s what makes her ugly. If she was nice and friendly, you’d call her Beautiful Betty. But she was the one who caused all that trouble for Nancy with her gossiping and rumor spreading, and now Nancy, a perfectly sweet and lovely old woman, is the butt of many cat-lady jokes and spends her lunch breaks hiding in her cubicle. Were there better ways to handle it than giving Betty a nasty name? Probably. But come on. You’re only human, and Betty is a bitch. Eat lunch with Nancy to show your support.

…definitely tell people you love them, though. That’s the one Drunk You had right.

*The creators of the blog must step one more time to tell you to follow this advice reasonably. The creators of this blog will take no responsibility for you drunk dialing your 82 year old grandmother in the middle of the night and scaring her half to death, young man!*

I guess what I’m saying is to go ahead, look back on 2014. But don’t do it from a point of looking for “failures.” Don’t look back and make a list of everything you did wrong. Don’t let the focus be on what you “didn’t,” let it be on what you learned from what you “did.”

And please, don’t make grand promises you can’t keep. Hell, don’t make promises at all. That’s just setting yourself up for another round of self-loathing all over again in 365 days. Make a pact with yourself to do your best to keep learning and growing.

When you raise your glass tonight, instead of telling others a list of things that are not going to happen, just tell them you look forward to seeing what 2015 brings, and that you’re glad you have them with you for it. That’s the way to start a new year right!

Thus concludes the last Musing of 2014. Everyone be safe tonight. If you go out partying, grab a friend’s couch cushion to shove under your head when you lay on the floor in a whirling world of “make it stop”. Don’t be one of the morons in the obituary column tomorrow because you were too stubborn or thought it was “lame” to admit you shouldn’t be driving.

Any is too many.

Out with the old, but only after you’re sick of hearing about it…

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Mornin’ all.

I tell you what…it was incredibly nice to sit down with my coffee this morning and hear cheap pop songs coming from the kids’ radio instead of Christmas music. I was so invigorated by the “normal” yesterday that I took down the holiday decor.

Well, what was left of the decor. The survivors of the Great Kitty Kerfuffle of ’14. I got it all down and packed away. The fake tree left half its “needles” on the floor. If we go with the same one next year, I’ll have no choice but to Charlie Brown it up. I think that’s a law, right? If your tree is sad and small, you must place one large bulb on it and wrap the base in a blanket. Otherwise the terrorists win.

So, I got the tree skeleton packed away, and neatly and carefully rolled the strings of lights so the storage gremlins can have something to snarl up over the next 11 months. You know how antsy they get when there’s nothing to unreasonably destroy. All of it is in my closet and off my walls. Christmas is officially done in the House of Bethie.

“Whoa. That was fast, Grinch.”

Hell yeah it was. I hate letting Christmas linger. Look, I love the holiday season, but once it’s done, it’s done. After the twinkly lights and glittery snowflake decorations lend their magic to highlight the good feelings of Christmas day, they have served their purpose for another year.

Once it’s over, pack it up and move on. There is no reason to hold on to that one day. Keep it in your memories and go on to the next adventure.

…wow. Did I just get, like, deep? I did. I was accidentally poignant as hell. I should buy this brand of coffee more often.

Besides, while setting up the decorations gives me a warm feeling of excitement for the holidays, taking them down and feeling the wide open spaces where they used to be feels like a clean start. When I take the decor down and box it up, I’m closing out one year and starting the new one fresh.

Damn I’m on a roll this morning. Quick, someone ask me the meaning of life before this caffeine buzz wears off!

We’ve got a few days left of 2014. The media believes that we should live these days wallowing in the stories of the other 360. Everyone’s got their “best of” lists.

Top Stories of ’14

News Makers of 2014

News That Made Us Think in 2014

Top International Stories of ’14

Then there are the lists of stories you might have forgotten.

News Stories You Missed in 2014

2014’s Secret Stories That Slipped By

20 News Articles That Flew Under the Radar in 2014

Or the news you didn’t want to read.

Most Awkward News Stories in ’14

Stories That Made Us Squirm in ’14

Things We’d Like to Forget Happened in 2014

Then you’ve got all the sub-news genres. Like Technology.

The Best Gadgets We Met in 2014

2014’s New Toys for Big Boys

Tech Industry’s Biggest Shockers of 2014

Top Apps in 2014

Surprising Kickstarter Successes of ’14

Or Science.

NASA Stuns in 2014

We Landed on a Comet, and Other Unforgettable Science Stories of 2014

Biology Breakthroughs You Never Heard of in 2014

Maybe you need to remember what happened this year in politics?

Why 2014 was a Turning Point

Biggest Senate Upsets of 2014

Most Popular Political Stories of ’14

A lot happened on the crime front.

The Year in Mugshots

The Best of the Worst: Criminals We’d Rather Forget from 2014

Most Shocking Court Cases of 2014

A Year in Review: The Crime Wave in America

But you can’t just have news stories. Those are boring. Got to have some stars and drama in there, right?

12 Cute Celeb Couples of 2014

Stars Who PDA’d in ’14

14 Stars Who Got Engaged in 2014

Best Star Crossed Lovers of 2014

That’s just happy, sappy crap. What about the naysayers and curmudgeons? Don’t they get some anti-cheer to close out the year?

Couples That Called it Quits in ’14

13 Most Public Breakups in 2014

Worst Celeb Divorces of ’14

12 Stars Who Got Dumped in 2014

If news stories aren’t your bag, don’t worry! Every single industry also wants you to read about their fabulousness this year.

Best New Fashions from 2014

Best Movies of 2014

20 Hot New Cars from ’14

12 New Songs You Should be Hooked on For the New Year

The Hottest Trends from 2014 That Must Continue in 2015

Worst Box Office Crashes of ’14

Most Annoying Memes of ’14

Then there are the generalized articles that try to mush an entire year into one long-winded attempt at being clever.

6 Ways 2014 Made You A Better Person Without You Even Knowing It

The Things We Learned About Humanity in 2014

If You Want to Succeed In 2015, You Need to Stop and Remember 2014

2014 Changed The World

Why You Should Be Thankful We Made it Through 2014

If that’s not your cup of tea, relax. There’s more fun stuff.

Weirdest Stories of 2014

20 People that Would Have Made Darwin Cringe in 2014

Best World Records Set in 2014

100 Cutest Cats We Met in 2014

Now, you can’t close out a year without looking ahead to the next. The media’s got you covered on that.

20 New Year’s Resolutions You NEED to Make in 2015

Top Stocks You Need to Consider for 2015

Home Buying in 2015: What Will Change and How to Handle it

15 Starlets to Watch in ’15

Hottest Trends to Wow in ’15

2015: Let The Race for the White House Begin

Dang. We just got done assessing and over-analyzing 2014, and already there are so many things to know before 2015 starts!

Think Almanacs Can Predict 2015 Weather? Think Again.

Wait. There’s even MORE? Shit. I better start taking notes.

Top Ecological Fears for 2015

15 Ways Your Money Will be in Jeopardy in 2015

With Global Unrest Growing, 2015 Shaping Up to be Tense

Troops Uneasy Heading into 2015

Stocks that Will Fail in 2015

Worst Places to Live in 2015

Job Market Shows Little Signs of Improvement for 2015

Um, I don’t know about this, folks. 2015 kind of sounds like it’s shaping up to be an asshole. Maybe we should hang on to 2014 a bit longer. At least that’s an asshole we’ve had almost a whole year to get to know…

Poll: Most Feeling Good About 2015

Oh.

Well, then. I guess that changes everything. Fears assuaged, confidence renewed. After all, if you can’t trust a random Poll:, then who can you trust?

Thus concludes a rather quick Musing for Saturday, December 27, 2014. I’ve got a car repair to work on today. I put my foot on the accelerator and it went through the floor. No. Not pedal TO the metal, pedal THROUGH the metal. What can I say. I live life on the edge. If I was going to make my own recap article for ’14, it would probably be, “Top 12 Surprise Emergency Car Repairs Bethie Did in 2014″…

Deck the halls with crappy headlines….

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Mornin’ all!

Do you smell that? Come on, take a deep breath. Nice, huh? Yesterday was baking day and now my house is filled with goodies. Cookies, and more cookies, and “dream bars” that aren’t exactly dreamlike but definitely pretty tasty, and fudge and, of course, fresh coffee. Want some?

You know, not many families outside the close-kneaded clan of the Pillsbury Dough Boy have cookie baking legacies. Mine does. And I’m not saying that because we owned a bakery. We didn’t. I don’t even think anyone in the direct bloodline ever opened so much as a food truck. I’m saying it because when we were kids, my mother would turn the house into a full scale factory for one day a year to produce hundreds and hundreds of Christmas cookies.

Not ordinary cookies. While many people make the classic sugar cookies, or those white rolled almond balls that make you cough from the powdered sugar when you eat them, those were too plain for my family. I’m talking three colors of butter cookie dough, red, green, and white, rolled out and cut into stars, trees, angels, wreaths, holly leaves, snowmen, and Santas, all brushed with colored egg white to make sugars stick or make facial details, then baked and hand decorated. Each one had icing in patterns, with accouterments like edible silver balls, cinnamon dots, and sugar sprinkles.

Oh, yeah, and the icing was flavored peppermint, too.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we made hundreds. I think we maxed out at around 1,200, if memory is correct. See, Mum used to give out plates of them as gifts, and send them in to the class parties we’d have in school. As the number of kids grew, so grew the number of cookies needed to send in to school. Then we had Catechism, so cookies had to be sent in there. Then Dad went to work for a different company, one with people he actually liked, so cookies had to be made to go there…

Then, the cookies took on their own followers. People would ask us if we were doing the cookies again with a  glazed and hopeful look in their eye, a not-so-subtle way of letting us know they fully expected a plate of their own that year. Our teachers in high school gave us a pass to miss classes on Cookie Day. In fact, by the time I was a senior, my advisor brought it up herself. She said, “It’s getting close to Christmas. Let me know when Cookie Day is and I’ll give you your assignments so you won’t miss anything.”

See, the desire wasn’t for a note of kinship, appreciation, “I’m thinking about you this holiday.” They didn’t really want warm wishes from any of us. All they wanted was the cookies. They were jonesin’, and it wasn’t for holiday tidings. They wanted the cookies.

The creation had surpassed the creator.

Now, I’m not saying the cookies gained sentience and started to be the ones in control, because I’m fairly certain there may be one or two still out there somewhere, acquiring minions and amassing the necessary arsenal to take over the world. If I had to guess, I’d say it was the blurry eyed snowman and the Christmas tree covered in cinnamon dots. Those were the least popular. They’d be the ones with a literal chip on their shoulders.

“Bethie, you worry me.”

Not the first time I’ve heard that, my friend.

I didn’t make those kinds of cookies this year. I made the butter cookies, but I did them in fewer numbers, less shapes, and we passed on the icing.

*gasp from any town folk reading this*

That’s right, those of you who remember. No Epic Bearded Santas. We were making so many other cookies and the amount of sugar in front of me was staggering. And though the boys were surprisingly helpful, that only goes so far. You cannot fathom the sheer amount of work that goes into making and hand decorating a thousand cookies. When we helped Mum as kids, we’d even have our close friends come over to help. It was all day long, all hands on deck, spread all over the downstairs of a large house. By the end of sugaring the cookies before baking yesterday, the boys had already resorted to “ugly cookie contest” and more sugars were thrown at each other than ended up on the cookies. Boys individually are helpful. Boys as a herd are a walking fart joke.

Besides, it was my Mum’s fantastic tradition. She was that Santa at the helm. We were just elves. It was her thing, and I honestly don’t think any of us girls would do it justice. You can’t recreate something like that, you know?

So my house has many different kinds of cookies, the bulk being peanut butter cookies. They may not be as fancy as the Epic Bearded Santas, but they are gaining in popularity. And they’re made of peanut butter…not the most intelligent of ingredients. I highly doubt they could ever band together and take over the world. It’s not like they’re gingerbread or anything.

Good cookie smell, hot coffee… The cat left the decor alone last night! …unless there’s something I just haven’t found yet. And Christmas in Bethie’s house will be held today, so that the kiddies who make up the blended part of our family are free tomorrow to see their other family branches. All in all, it’s a good morning.

In fact…it’s so good, that I’m feeling downright peppy. I wasn’t really going to do this, but… *cue the go-go dancers* *cue the catchy theme music*

CHRISTMAS HEADLINE ROUNDUP TIME!!!

Yes! Deck those halls and laugh while you do it! The go-go dancers happened to have some glittery Santa caps, the orchestra wrapped up their concert and were sitting there bored. Why not put them to use and do a Roundup? Everyone give them a round of applause before they clear the stage.

Okay, with the intro out of the way, let’s get right into it. Even though it’s a Holiday Roundup, the rules are the same. The headlines are real. I just supply the ho-ho-ho after.

– Hammerhead Steals Bait Box From Diver

Bait Car Animal Planet

– Drones Become Popular Holiday Gift

“Oh look, Stan. The NSA sent us a cute little plane…thing…” “Don’t touch it, Shelia!” “Oh you and your conspiracies….”

– Kelly Clarkson Takes Daughter to See Santa

Glad MSN was on the ball. Other news sites seem to be in party mode already. It’s nice that there’s someone out there who remains diligent and brings us the hard hitting stories no matter if it’s a holiday or not. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW.

– 8 Foreign Cultural Norms that Americans Find Gross

I’ve got a delicate constitution and didn’t click on it. I’m queasy just from imagining what’s on that list and I really want to keep my coffee in place.

– Kendall and Kris Jenner do Sexy Mother-Daughter Dance

I cannot be the only one who just threw up a little. Exile them. Exile them now.

– Is Santa a Republican or a Democrat?

No.

– Protesters Defy NY Call for Moratorium

How is it that anyone thought this would go differently??

– Which Platform Would Santa Run On?

Wait, what? I already shut this one down. Stop making Santa political.

– Record Spending on Gifts for Pets for Christmas

I saw an ad for cards for dogs. CARDS for DOGS. People, get your shit together.

– Would You Vote for Santa for President?

DAMN IT. Fine. You want to have this out? Let’s do it. Santa would not run for office. Not only is he above the petty life of a politician, he lives in the North Pole. The NORTH POLE. He is not a US citizen, you conceited f-wads. I can’t believe I even have to say this.

– In Japan, Nothing Beats Fried Chicken Take-Out for Christmas

Now that is a cultural tradition I can really get behind.

– Jesus’ Birthplace Grapples with Modern Traffic Challenges

Are they making the manger a drive-thru? Admit it…you’re kinda hoping they are, too.

– Holiday Travel Bid by Man in Naked Fall

…I don’t really want to know what’s going on there.

– Who is the Patriots MVP? The Answer Might Bore You.

Then I won’t bother with this article. Thanks for the heads up.

– Sell Your Holiday Gift Cards for Cash

Not even through the holiday season and already people are telling you how to dump your unwanted gifts.

– 10 Gifts You Should Re-gift and Who to Give Them To

My eye is twitching. The amount of entitled asshattery in this headline is literally making my eye twitch.

– Anti-Gun PSA Urges Kids to Steal Parents’ Firearms

The article is about a PSA that tells kids to take their parents’ guns to school and turn them in to the teachers. O…M….G…. Forget the re-gifting buffoonery. It’s not just my eye that’s twiching now.

– US Navy Investigating Soldier Who Claimed to Have Shot Bin Laden

Why is there investigation necessary? What the hell kind of operation is the US military running when they don’t even know who killed their number one enemy?

…oh. Wait. That’s right…

– When a Deaf 15-Year Old Boy Finally Learns to Speak, What Does He Say?

Welp, he’s 15. Odds are very good you’d be disappointed in what comes out of his mouth.

– S. Korea to Prosecute “Nut Rage” Official

Hey, you try to get all the meat out of a Brazil nut and see how calm YOU feel!

– Man Mistakenly Sells Mattress Set With Cat Inside

I’m looking at my mattress and trying to figure out how in the hell a cat could get INSIDE…it’s gotta be a hole, right? Then why would someone actually pay money for a mattress with a big hole in it? So many questions…so little desire to actually read the article…

– Fat and Sugar: The Best and Worst of 2014

Spoiler: It being the year 2014 changed nothing. Fat and sugar were still bad.

– Ukraine Pokes Russia, Makes Move Towards NATO

But Russia already had its toe on the basketball hoop and called “Safety!” and spent the next half hour uselessly trying to convince NATO that it was not, in fact, “it”.

– Hungary’s Orban Accuses US of Meddling in Central Europe

Duh. Why don’t you take a minute to point out that the sky is blue while you’re at it.

– How the US Helped Imprisoned Cuban Spy Impregnate His Wife

Gug. EVERYONE’S gotta have a sex tape these days. I think I’ll pass on “Hot Nights in Gitmo,” thnx.

– From Vietnam With Love: Local Caviar Aims to Make Splash

Yes, because nothing says “I love you” like squeezing a fish and eating what squirts out.

– Is Barak Obama a Closet Geek?

HE HAD A LIGHT SABER BATTLE ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN. There is no “closet” here, people.

– New York Transit Officials Aim to Curb “Manspreading” on Trains

“Manspreading?!!” On a TRAIN??? Ew. Ew ew ew. Just…EW.

– Woman Reunited with Car Stolen 30 Years Ago

It was magical. She brought Vietnamese caviar, the auto set up the tape and…well, let’s just say it’s giving “Hot Nights in Gitmo” a run for its money.

– Obama’s Popularity Falls to Record Low Among US Troops. Why?

He’s battling with light sabers. It’s not rocket science, people.

*I would like to state for the record that I am firmly behind light saber battles, but I do recognize that they don’t instill confidence in one’s military strategy*

– China Sensors News on Sony Hack

And there it is. Can’t have a roundup without checking the “No Shit Gazette,” can we?

– Naughty Texts Spur Scandalous Play

…Okay, two. Two entires from the “No Shit Gazette.”

– Child Caught Choking, Police Get Involved

“Is that a poorly masticated chunk of pizza in your throat? No use trying to hide it. This isn’t my first day on the beat. Think you can just waltz into MY territory and choke, you little bastard? NOT ON MY WATCH.”

*Not to be political, but isn’t that an odd way to phrase it? Shouldn’t it say “Cop Saves Boy From Choking?” Why does even this clearly heroic act call for a bizarrely negative connotation in the headline? Just throwin’ it out there for consideration…*

– Obama Approval on the Upswing

Dude. You JUST showed us an article that says the exact opposite. I understand wanting to appeal to all parties, but my god. It’s seriously like three articles later. I can see the headline on the SAME PAGE. Are you even trying anymore, CNN?

– Surgery Selfies get MDs in Trouble

WHY IS THIS EVEN A THING??!!

– Castaway Spotted on Island

But, like, you know, it was kind of out of the way so maybe they’ll pick him up if they swing by again sometime…

– Pennsylvanian Police Find Head on Road, Seeking Body to Match

Recently-separated head looking for compatible body to share long synapses on these cold Pennsylvania winter nights. The right body will be someone who wants to take the submissive role and let me make the big decisions, but will also have the drive to really take us places in life. Interested parties please submit your profile to the P. State Police, Attn: head4luv22

…what? Don’t act like you weren’t thinking it.

Thus concludes a Christmas Eve Musing for Wednesday, December 24, 2014. The kiddies are up. Time to torture them by taunting them with gifts they are not allowed to shake. I love being the parent sometimes…

An empty hook dangles, a kitty cat hides…

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Mornin’ all.

Welp, it happened. The first blown glass casualty of the holiday season was laying in shattered defeat on my floor this morning when I got up. The cat was hiding under the tree with her ears back, though I couldn’t tell if she was contrite, or just pissed that I caught her at the crime scene. I swept up the shards of her victim, and only then did she stalk out as if nothing was amiss. I must say, I’m impressed the full bulb brigade lasted this long. I put the tree up this past weekend, and that was the first broken ornament we’ve had. Last year it wasn’t five minutes before the cat pawed a decoration to its doom.

I put the tree up, and that makes me happy. I love bright lights and shiny things, and I suppose I can’t blame the cat’s obsession with the decorated tannenbaum. If I could get away with climbing up the artificial trunk, I would.

I used to lay under the Christmas trees when I was a kid. It’s cute when you’re little. You scoot under the tree and look up and proclaim to know know what a tree fairy must feel like. People look upon you and press their hand over their heart and say, “Aw, isn’t that adorable!”

Pro tip: they do NOT have the same reaction if you do this as an adult. Apparently only little children are allowed to feel like tree fairies.

I know. TOTALLY unfair.

Ah well. Like I said, we have an artificial tree, anyway, and not a large one. Our living space is tight, and our tree reflects this. I doubt I could scoot myself under it if I tried. The bottom branches would probably snag on my boobs and topple over. Imagine the looks I’d get then.

When we were kids, my dad would always get a real tree, generally one that was actually way too big for the space. It was fantastic. Artificial trees look very nice, and some can even pass as real from a distance. However, no artificial tree has the same feeling as a real one. A fresh tree newly erected RIGHT IN THE LIVING ROOM!! is a magical thing indeed. There’s an aura to it, a smell…the sense of life and age and comfort and wisdom.

Fine. I love trees. What.

…which is why I have an artificial one now. I don’t want to cut down a viable tree that struggled for ten years to make it in the hard knocks life that is Nature simply to make my living room look prettier for a month. I know, I know, I know…there are excellent arguments FOR the Christmas tree industry. I get it. I just don’t want to watch a vibrant, living tree fade and droop and drop its browned needles of life on my floor. I just can’t do it. There is nothing sadder than watching the Christmas tree that entered your home fresh and still thrumming with the life of the forest leave your home on a sheet, a sad, needleless husk of its former glory to be left unceremoniously by the curb, a few crumpled wisps of tinsel blowing over the mummified branches as a stark reminder of what was.

Okay, so maybe there are a few things more sad in life. But you have to admit, that rates right up there.

Some day, perhaps, if we ever get our hands on some of that mythical “money” I keep hearing about, I’ll get one of those living Christmas trees, with the roots carefully ensconced in a sack so you can plant it after the season. I like those.

Besides, my tree sort of looks real. And I certainly had needles aplenty on the floor after I put it up. It’s about a dozen years old now and is starting to shed.

You read that right. It’s shedding. Like a real tree. The sci-fi-ist in me is fascinated and a little terrified. What sorcery is that which has turned an ordinary amalgamation of plastic and wire into a real Christmas tree!? Is it magic? Is it alchemy? Perhaps an experiment in the flocking lab gone horribly awry. Has my tree always been “real”? A Vader-like hybrid after a terrible forest fire?

It’s much more fun than the truth, which is the sad plastic needles can only hold on to the wire through so many of the tugs, fluffs, and twists it takes to make them look anything at all like real branches. I think it’s perhaps the last year for the old gal.

At least it doesn’t have last year’s balled up tinsel entwined in the needles. I like tinsel on a real tree. I HATE it on a fake one. My gram used to have a small faux tree. I think she must have used the same tree for like thirty years, because it had wire bristle branches instead of plastic. Old school. It also had gnarled tinsel wrapped around every branch. By the last year we set it up for her, the thing looked more like some kind of Brillo pad sculpture than a tree. If you sliced a branch, instead of growth rings, you’d see tinsel layers…an archive of Christmases of yesteryear.

Actually, that sounds kind of neat now that I think about it.

Still, as a child, it bugged the shit out of me and I vowed that if I ever had a fake tree, I would NOT use tinsel. I used to pick at the crumpled old strands until Grammie told me to “leave the godammed tree alone!” as she shuffled her feet back and forth in her rocking chair and sipped her highball. Magical times.

…no, really. I say that with a smile and love. Christmases when I was a kid were fantastic times, even when they included gnarled tinsel and swearing Grandmas. Especially when they included swearing Grandmas.

Anyway, I got our tree set up. Hung some other décor around the room, too. When we were kids, my mother would turn the living room into Santa’s freakin’ workshop. A little bit of decor looks sad. Too much looks tacky. But if you cram absolutely everything you can possibly find together and don’t leave a single square inch of surface space bare, it looks amazing.

Remember this. Holiday decorating pro tip: A few tacky things look tacky. ALL the tacky things together = magic.

Though I don’t go quite that far, it’s only because I’ve got a lack of storage space. Trust me, if I had a room to store all the decorations for the other 11 months of the year, I’d wall-to-wall Christmasify this bitch.

“Wow. You must be super religious.”

Well, no. The religious aspect has little to do with my Christmas fervor, if you want to know the truth. I said my Christmases as a kid were fantastic times, and I meant it. They were some of the happiest times of my life. Not specifically just Christmas day, but the season. Getting ready. Making the drab living room sparkle and glitter. Being a tree fairy, or at least doing my best to pretend. Baking cookies. Hearing “Holly and Ivy” read to us by Mum. Visiting people. Pretending to like the little dill cucumber tea sandwiches at Grammie’s Christmas Eve party, actually liking the taste of the oplatki we’d break off and exchange.

*obscure Catholic Polish tradition reference fist bump*

Advent calendars and present shaking and wrapping the necklace I made for someone with excited and terrifying anticipation and hope. I like it all. Why wouldn’t I want to keep doing some of those things now?

And I must admit, the cheery decor has significantly improved my mood. Well, that and some good news that I really didn’t realize I’d been so worked up waiting to hear.

My kid had another PET scan. They call them “routine”, but any parent who’s been through taking care of a child with cancer knows that every one is terrifying, especially if their kid had a previous relapse. Every one is important. There are some, though, that carry even more weight. This one was the critical scan that would mark the fifth year of remission if it came out clear.

See, for those who may not know, the day the doctor declares a patient cancer-free is not really the end. It’s the beginning of an odds game. Remission is marked in years, with relapse odds getting better and better the further out you go. Why? Because a cancer relapse actually just means that not all of the bastard mutant cells were eliminated the first time. All types of cancer multiply at different rates. Sometimes it takes years for a cancer cluster to reproduce and grow to a noticeable size. My son had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a very aggressive cancer that multiplies extremely quickly and goes from innocuous to lethal in a matter of months.

He relapsed quickly after the first round. In fact, he was declared cancer free during the appointment, and by the time we took the 2 hour trip home riding the high tide of good news, the doctor had called back to leave a message that he was wrong, that the cancer was back, and that my son would need a stem cell transplant and could we kindly turn back around for a biopsy?

No, he didn’t relapse in two hours. The doctor was going off the previous month’s scans while we were there. He relapsed dangerously in just one month.

After that, he had the stem cell transplant (which used to inaccurately be called a bone marrow transplant) and radiation, and has had clear PET scans since. This one, this was the five year mark.

So what makes that so special?

Because after five years of remission, the odds of him relapsing with Hodgkin’s has now dropped into the single digits. It’s a huge deal, an enormous milestone. And he made it.

…and yes, anyone who’s been in the same boat… I know that just means he won’t get Hodgkin’s again and that he’s still susceptible to a myriad number of side effects, other cancers caused by the medicines it took to kill off the Hodgkin’s, blah blah. But honestly, if I let myself dwell on all that stuff, the ulcers would literally eat me away inside. I can’t do that. What I CAN do is look at the good results, the clean scan, and know that we hit THIS milestone and just be glad.

The shiny, happy décor all around me just highlights the relief inside. Yes, my mood has GREATLY improved!

People have put up their Christmas lights around town, and when I went out for milk the other night, I noticed a few displays that are amazing. This weekend if the weather’s good, I’ll pack the kids in the station wagon and ride around to have a look. I don’t know if any of the older ones will be interested, but at least the little one is game. Cookie baking, present making, gift wrapping. They get a full two weeks of vacation this year, and I’ve got enough activities to keep them busy until Christmas. And then…I’m blank. Maybe it’ll storm and I can entertain them all day by shoveling.

Or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch in our jammies surrounded by the Christmas ornaments and decorations for just a bit longer before they have to be tucked away once again. You know what? Sounds like a pretty good way to spend vacation to me.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Thursday, December 18, 2014. I’m off to sweep up the second feline victim. I stupidly thought that the cat was somehow more mature this year since it took so long to break an ornament. Nope. She simply forgot how much fun it was. *sigh* And so it begins….

Even a hippie has an off day once in awhile…

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Mornin’ all.

The funk continues.

Hang on, sit back down. I’m in the fifth stage of a bad mood: acceptance. I’m not going to yell or snark. I’m not going to moan and groan. I’m not even going to bother trying to deny the facts. I’ve accepted it. My funk is here, and I accept that.

Hello, my name is Beth, and I am grouchy.

I popped on some non-Christmas music. One of my favorite calming hippie songs, Daniel’s Jojk, the Jonassi remix. I highly recommend it. You can find it on YouTube. Go on. Go check it out right now. I’ll wait.

Nice, huh?

Don’t worry, I didn’t break out any crystals and I totally washed my hair and put on a bra today, so I’m not going full hippie or anything. Besides, I call it hippie music, but it’s actually traditional Sami chanting. Totally different.

…really.

I’ve been working on crafts the past few days. Usually that makes me feel better, like writing. If I’m in a funk, nothing beats it like creating something. I got two interesting needle point samplers and some cool bead work out of the deal, but I STILL couldn’t stifle my brain and get some sleep last night.

I said bead work, NOT macrame. I am NOT a hippie.

Though really, I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with macrame, per se. A neighbor we had when I was growing up was a macrame freak and she made some really killer stuff with nothing more than rope and beads. I’m talking next level shit here, patterns so complicated that I gave up trying to duplicate them and stuck with…

…oh. Uh…heh heh…did I say that out loud?

Okay, so maybe I’ve dabbled in macrame. It’s not like I’m sitting on my back deck, barefoot and listening to folk music while I twist and knot hemp fibers in yet another hanging plant basket while Mother Sun shines rainbows through my prisms. That would be ridiculous. I only bring the prisms outside in the spring, sillies.

….

I said prisms, not crystals.

….

*sigh* FINE.

Hello, my name is Beth, and I am a grouchy hippie. But I’m still going to wash my hair and wear a bra. Guess I’m still partially in the hippie closet. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps.

It’s been rainy here. The boys had their first “snow” day which really turned into nothing major. I think it was still good to cancel, because it was just a few degrees of temperature away from the roads turning into skating rinks. For those of you who don’t live in a colder climate, there is nothing more dangerous than “maybe” for road conditions. If the temperature is hovering right around freezing, the wet roads could be just wet…or they could be icy. At that temp, the ice looks the same as water. I would greatly prefer that the kiddies go an extra day in the summer than risk their bus suddenly trying a Michelle Kwan routine on a side road.

…and if I wasn’t too busy grooving on this sweet, sweet folk music, I’d find the axel/axle pun in there.

That was Tuesday, and since then, it’s just kept right on raining. Not heavy rains, but drizzle yucky rains that feel like a million little sprites are gently spitting cold water in your face. I’m going to be honest…that’s not helping the mood. According to the weather report, on Sunday we might just have a bit of sun. If there is any possibility of soaking up a few rays, you can bet your ass I’ll be out there. Mama needs some vitamin D.

So we’re gamers, as I’ve mentioned. The whole lot of us. My littlest is 8-going-on-42, and he came home from school yesterday talking about a game his friend plays. It’s a horror shooter, meaning exactly what you think. You’re playing in the middle of a horror movie and you shoot things. I know the title, I’m familiar with the series, though I’ve never played it myself. Horror games get me too het up. I get sweaty-palmed and have to pause often to get a drink and cool the adrenaline. One time I got so startled that I actually jumped and hit myself in the face with the controller. True story.

Yes, these “games” can feel that real.

My dad was a gamer. He was absolutely blown away by Myst.

*gaming reference fistbump*

For those who are suddenly lost, Myst was a ground breaking game. Released in 1993, it was one of the first computer games that put people in a visually stunning 3D world. It had all the things we take for granted now: full music score, ambient environmental sounds, more than 16 colors… If you’ve never seen it and you looked at it for the first time now, you’d say, “…so?” But take my word for it…when it came out, Myst shattered what people thought of “gaming”. It honestly did feel like being in a movie, being part of it instead of an outside user.

Interesting side note: the system requirements to play this epic game were Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, 386DX 33MHz, 4 MB RAM for Win 3.1 or 8MB for Win 95, Super VGA running a resolution of 640×480 with 256 color mode enabled, and a CD-ROM drive. I can say this for fact because I just pulled out my nostalgia copy from the bowels of my gaming desk and read them directly from the user’s manual. Ah. Myst. Good times.

To put this in terms even non-geeks can understand: When Myst came out, you needed a fairly decent computer to run it. Not top of the line exactly, but not that far off. Today, this game could be run by your phone, in the background, as an on screen gadget, taking up little more for resources than your clock.

Now it’s lame, but back in the day, Myst kicked off a trend. Before Myst, there were great games, and I’m not saying any different. But Myst was pretty. Really, really pretty. Pretty enough so that if you stretched your imagination just a bit, you could pretend you were really on that island solving the admittedly easy clues. It was beautiful…but the game itself, meh. I was 15 when it came out and I beat it in no time. The game play was not the best.

That wasn’t the point, though. The point was to prove an idea, to make a gamer actually part of the game, to prove that there was now a medium that could combine story line, gaming, action, and sound in a way that had been yet unseen but often imagined.

It worked. It worked so well, in fact, that it fueled a technology race that has just finally begun to slow. Gamers saw the possibilities in Myst and demanded more of the same, but with a decent story line. They got it, then wanted better game play. I mean, making things look and sound pretty is only part of gaming. Let’s have some difficult, innovative maneuvers through this new terrain of beauty! Game houses turned their attentions towards the gaming aspects, but then noticed that, while three dimensional, the trees still looked flat, the mountains were papery planes that disappeared when people started to trek past… The graphics and processor companies saw there was an eager market and spent the rest of the 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s (so far) trying to up the game.

Yes, gamers are responsible for your speedy phones and pretty desktop slide shows. You’re welcome.

…what? Don’t think so?

Look, the vast majority of computer users in the 90’s were using their rigs for typing. TYPING. Data entry, accounting, ordering, writing, taxes… That was what the bulk of computer users did on their electronic work machines. Hell, that’s STILL what the overwhelming majority of computer users do on their machines…that and surf the internet. I have an old electric typewriter in my closet that’ll pretty much type as well as this program I’m using right now, and you could easily surf the ‘net in 2D. If there were no gamers, we’d still have work machines and nothing more. Gamers DEMANDED more, and were willing to pay. Companies like Intel, nVidia, and AMD decided to out-think each other to fill this demand.

Now we have video games that feel so real I need to ice my eye and promise people that the only person abusing me is Bethesda. Damn nazi zombies.

**NEWS FLASH: We interrupt this Musing for a weather update: The rain has stopped. It is now snowing. *eye twitch* *spasm* We now return you to your regularly scheduled Musing… **

These games are real. They are really happening while you’re playing them. The sound of a floor board squeaking when your character steps on it is exactly the same as one would make if you stepped on a half-rotten floor in real life, and the directional sound programmed into the game honestly makes it sound like someone is maniacally snickering juuuuuust behind you. The graphics have come so far that many times it’s nearly impossible to tell if a cut scene is live action footage or CGI. The blood dripping off the fangs of a monster looks so real you can almost smell the metallic tang, and it doesn’t matter a bit that your ass is actually firmly on the couch of your mother’s living room. Games are so well done that in those moments, the experience is real. To your brain and body, it’s real.

My son asked if he could check that game out. There is no way in hell that’s going to happen. I’ve mentioned before that I’m the daughter of a librarian. As such, I’m not big on censorship. However, there really are some things for big kids that are not for little kids. It’s not like he’s an advanced reader asking if he can take a stab at Catcher in the Rye. He’s a little kid asking if I’ll let him play a game where the sole purpose is to make the user truly feel like they are being hunted.

Nope.

I can’t believe other parents let their 8 year olds play that, either. It boggles the mind.

The Grand Theft Auto series. That’s another one I don’t understand parents letting kids play. In that series, you’re basically a thug going about a thug life. Killing, selling drugs, running over prostitutes. The whole point of the game is to be a thug. I support the series, though it’s not my cup of tea. I’m all for people creating it and adults getting enjoyment out of playing it. It’s entertainment, not reality. It’s an escape, an exploration of something different, not real life. I can’t support one art form and piss on another. It doesn’t work like that.

I just don’t support kids playing it. Really, what’s the harm in waiting until your kid even knows what a hooker is before you let them run one over with a car?

Wait a second. I support a game that allows users to mow down prostitutes, rob little old ladies, and sell stolen goods to amass a pile of stinky, materialistic money. You know what this means, right?

Hello, my name is Beth and I am NOT a hippie.

Maybe today holds a ray of sunshine after all.

Thus concludes a rather rambly Musing for Thursday, December 11, 2014. I’m going to go do some more beading and ignore the snow. It’ll go away if I ignore it. Right?

RIGHT?!

Guess who’s got a bad case of the Mondays…

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Before we even get into the usual salutations, there’s been a breaking news story that I feel I must share.

The color of the year for 2015 is: Marsala.

*wipes brow* There. I’ve done my best. When hard hitting info like this comes down the pike, I think it’s every citizen’s responsibility to do what they can to get the word out. I mean, you don’t want your friends and loved ones showing up to a New Year’s party wearing vermilion, do you?

Oh, the shame.

Marsala. Remember it. Discuss it. Create an awareness campaign to spread the information. Since this story about an arbitrary observance of color was listed before a report on the deaths of over a dozen people in a horrible storm, and posted with a much bigger headline font, then clearly it is of national importance.

No! INTERnational importance.

Shit, why stop there? There were no planetary constraints mentioned in the article. Marsala is 2015’s galactic color of the year.

…even though it’s only 2015 here on this one planet. And light traveling through the different gases may very well render marsala invisible in many planetary climates around the cosmos. And by the time any sentient beings actually get this news, it’ll be many thousands of years in the future. Hm. There may be a few tiny issues with declaring a galaxy-wide color of the year…

BUT ON EARTH IT’S IMPORTANT!!! Marsala. WEAR IT.

Now that I’ve fulfilled my obligation to humanity for the day, we can begin this Muse properly.

Mornin’ all.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you get cynical Bethie this morning.

“Ugh, again?”

Okay, so I’m in a mood. What. Like you’ve never had a funk that lasted more than a few days? Sheesh. Sorry to harsh your vibe, Captain Mellow.

I can’t help it. For the second night in a row, my brain woke me up at about 2 a.m. to tell me all the ways that I suck. The internal memo did not pull any punches and listed one deficiency after another until I had no choice but to lay in bed and wait for the alarm to blare. I was hoping the heart-jumping harshness of the legitimate sound would cancel out the buzz in my brain. Alas, the list stopped only long enough for me to shut the alarm off before saying, “Where was I? Oh, yes…’mothering skills’, I believe you call them. Let’s delve into those, shall we?”

Why do brains do this? I get that we need an internal system of checks and balances. But really? In the middle of the night? Why the hell can’t my noggin deal the blows during a dream, like any sane person? Hm? Give me one helluva bad dream. Go for it. Sure, I’ll still be an emotional zombie in the morning, but at least the rest of the parts I need to make me move around the environment with any semblance of competence would have gotten some rest.

Human nature is a bitch.

Ah well. At least Mother Nature recognized this and provided us with Nap In A Cup. *slurp* *choke* *gak* …okay, now I see the folly of doubling the grounds in the coffee pot.

I think in light of today’s surly start, maybe I should be a little proactive in bettering my mood. *snap* *twirls finger* And a-one, and a-two…

*sparkles* *go go dancers* *catchy theme music* *glitter*

HEADLINE ROUNDUP TIME!!!!

What better way to put a funny spin on a cynical mood than to mock and debase news headlines? As always, the headlines are real, actual headlines. The snark remark following each is my way of venting today. Shall we begin?

US Naturalist Swallowed by Snake for TV Show

Spoiler, the naturalist lives. I mean, it’s not like it’s sweeps week or anything…

What the World Doesn’t Need are Steampunk Luxury Condos

LIES.

Deer Breaks Through Door, Ransacks Bathroom

When you gotta go, you gotta go…

Baby Weighing 14 lbs. Born in S. Colorado

No matter what other birthing horror stories women tell, they will never be able to top this. Well played, new mother. Well played. Now, get that woman an ice pack, an inflatable chair donut, and a medal.

Stolen 5,000 lb Bridge Recovered in Michigan

I know it’s wrong, but I’m just being honest…I was kinda rooting for the crooks who figured out how in the hell to STEAL A FRICKEN BRIDGE on this one.

Overdue Book Returned to Washington Library, 65 Years Late

Oh, sure. Go ahead and brush this off as a victimless crime. But ask yourself this: What about that poor sap who waited to read the hottest book on the Poor Richard’s Almanac Bestseller List? Where’s his justice?

Obama in Hospital for 28 Minutes

He then stopped at the gas station for 7 minutes, popped into the dry cleaners for 14 minutes, swung by the grocery store for 34 minutes, spent 6 minutes stuck in a loop on the traffic circle, clocked 49 minutes at the gym, took 22 minutes to…

Cops Probe Chlorine at Furry Con

So many punchlines here, and none of them good. Let’s back away slowly and pretend we never read this headline…

British Royal Couple Kicks Off Tour

Taking the stage, William’s “Pip, pip, cheerio Yanks!” was drowned out by Kate’s overly-enthusiastic screaming guitar rendition of “God Save the Queen”.

Space Probe Ready for Pluto Close-up

Can’t leave a disgraced planet alone, can you, TMZ? Disgusting.

Dog Adopted After 465 Days

….um…okay. Is this news?

Clerk Tells Thief to Get Out

Hang on. What the hell is happening?

Squirrel Causes Power Outage

…we’re being punk’d, right?

NH Girl Sends Heartwarming Santa Letter

OH, okay. I get it. We’re not being punk’d. I was just looking at the local news station. Yeah, not much happens around here, does it? Let’s go back to national news…

Necrophilia Motivated Stepdad in Killing

Whoa. Jumped right into the deep end on that. Maybe I can find a happy medium…

Hookah Smoke Contains Cancer Causing Chemical

HOLD THE PHONE. Are you suggesting that smoking is bad for one’s health??

Three Die, Ten Sickened After Use of Cocaine in North Carolina

Let’s everybody stop right now, drop what we’re doing, and figure out this problem so all the over-privileged suburban teens of North Carolina can once again safely snort away their mummy and daddy’s savings accounts without that annoying fear of physical ramification. Hop to! People are getting sick out there, folks…

Changes of the Swiss Guard: “It was a mere renewal…is sane to know that nobody goes on forever”

What?

No, seriously. What??

New Prostate Aid Takes CVS By Storm

…*blink**blink* Um…good for you?

Scarecrows Outnumber People in Dying Japan Town

Holy shit. It’s happening. The scarecrow uprising has begun. The end is nigh! RUN, people.

RUN.

(Just an aside here. I was looking on Yahoo Europe news, and just about every other story is about soccer. Of course. Because what else happens in Europe, right? Oh, ‘Merica.)

College Used Strippers to Lure Students

“Hey, big boy…wanna come over to my place and…*blows gently in his ear* discuss why the big bang theory predicts measurably larger anisotropies in the night sky than those which have been observed?”

Horizontal Elevators are the Wave of the Future

No. There will never be a horizontal elevator.

…and if you don’t understand why, then I really can’t help you.

About 100 Brains Missing from University of Texas

*input obvious joke here*

We May Have Reached the “Apocalyptic Scenario” With Antibiotics

Shit. *sigh* Okay, screw the scarecrows. The apocalypse will be brought about by medicine. Run, people

RUN.

New Technology Could Put an End to Cracked iPhone Screens

Apple calls it “plastic” and it’s just the bees knees!

Texas Biologists Warm Chilled Sea Turtles

What happens in a lonely Texas biology lab should be no one else’s business. #nojudgment

First Test-tube Baby Penguin Says Hello to the World

We’ve already test-tubed humans. I’m no biologist, but isn’t bragging about test-tubing a penguin at this point kind of like Apple bragging about plastic?

30 English Words from Our British Cousins

Well that takes care of six right there…

Chimpanzees Have No Human Rights, Says NY Court

The case has been in the court system since 2012, and the loser is going to appeal to an even higher court. Your tax dollars hard at work, folks…

Florida Man Charged with Stealing Beef Tongue

I’ll save you the hassle of having to look this one up because I am like a 15 year old boy and can’t let you go another minute without knowing that he hid it in his pants. He hid a tongue in his pants!!!

You’re welcome.

Scientists Implant Human Brain Cells in Mice to Create “Super Mice”

Oh for fuck’s sake!

Okay, scrap the scarecrows, forget about antibiotics. Our doom will now be brought about by Super Mice. RUN, people.

RUN.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Monday, December 8, 2014. Seriously, scientists, wtf? What kind of people are injecting mice with human brain cells? What could possibly be the end game here? NOTHING good will come of this. Nothing at all. You won’t learn anything from this other than how to freak an entire population out. I may have my issues and be a general eff-up in life, but my god, at least I’m not bringing about the end of humanity as we know it! THIS is what happens when you misplace your brains. Go back to spooning chilly turtles and test tubing penguins before you ruin everything, you bored, sadistic freaks.

…huh…oddly, I now feel a bit better…

Ooh look at all the worms wriggling out of the can this morning….

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Mornin’ all.

It’s a chilly start today. I don’t like it. I sat up and put a blanket over me to block out the cold and the light, and wished the rest of the world would respect my decision to alter my observance of time and let me go back to bed for an hour. I was like a blankie mountain. It freaked the cat out. I have no idea why, but she got all hiccupy. When my cat is scared or concerned, her meows have a hiccup at the end. So she sounded like a sputtering engine trying to turn over until she burrowed under the blanket and saw that it was simply me sitting there stubbornly refusing to face the day. You know, like a two year old.

“Don’t wanna,” I said to the cat. She looked at me like I lost my damned mind and stalked off to resume sleeping in her current favorite place. If cats could talk, she would have said, “Oh for god’s sake. Grow up.” I swear she rolled her eyes.

Awful haughty for someone who sleeps in a bathtub, if you ask me.

I think about all the naps I fought when I was a child. I was one of those who loved to get one over on the man by only pretending to nap. If I hadn’t done that, if I had actually just taken my naps like a good girl and slept, would I be less tired today? Would I have a cache of “nap” to fall back on in these weary adult times? If I kept my birthday money through the years, I’d have a savings account. If I actually put the damn Speak-N-Spell down and took my freakin’ nap so my father didn’t have to hear about it when he got home, would I have some reserves in my vault today?

Like the age old Tootsie Roll Pop question, the world may never know. I haven’t had a kid yet who would be a willing test subject. They all fought naps with the fervor and devotion one would expect from progeny with their lineage. They would not let me oppress them, and I must admit, there was always just a touch of clan pride, even if I was “the man”.

Ah well. I’m up now and I’ve got enough coffee in me that I don’t hate the world. Guess that’s something. Let’s see what we can talk about today.

So sexism sucks, huh?

Hang on. Sit back down, don’t click that suddenly enticing red X up in the corner.

“Bethie, I didn’t come here for a debate.”

Then just agree with me and there won’t have to BE a debate. *hopeful grin*

…no?

Okay, look. I get that this is a topic that’s been hammered by all sides for decades. I understand that there are many people out there who are so sick of hearing the propaganda that they really have given up on listening to any of it. I know it’s an issue that’s been in the spotlight for so long that the bulk of people out there, men AND women, brush it off and consider it old news.

Folks, just because you are bored with a problem does not mean it’s been solved. You being sick of listening to the debate does not mean the debate is over.

“But here, Bethie?”

Relax. I saw something that got me all het up (no, not just the blinking red numbers on my alarm clock) and I want to vent. That does not mean I’m turning this blog into a the front lines of feminism. Something happened yesterday that made me feel very good about things I’ve done to break a gender stigma. And then I logged onto the internet this morning and that positive vibe was dashed. That’s all. Same as any other issue I talk about.

Come on. You know me. I can’t devote myself to one topic. How boring would that be? I’m like a monkey. Bright lights and shiny objects distract me. I have the attention span of a tsetse fly. I’m like an intellectual nomad, wandering through an endless plane of…SQUIRREL!

“Your cat was right. You really are a child.”

I know.

So, now that I have given a pre-apology for a subject we should not actually be sick of hearing about, let’s dive in.

Feminism. “Feminism,” is really how it should be written and said. From now on, any time you find yourself saying that word, do the air quotes. I know it’s douchey, but the word itself has become douchey. It’s not the word’s fault. Like many other words in our lexicon, time and the opposing side have stripped the meaning and replaced it with a negative image. The dictionary defines “feminism” as: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

A noble cause. However, over time, the word has been morphed. When you picture a “feminist”, you most likely picture a militant woman, an angry “earth biscuit” who’ll get up in your face if you’re a man and scream about how little she needs you. You picture a ‘roid raging hippie with no bra and braided armpit hair.

Truth be told, there are some “feminists” out there who really fit that description. And the reason you can picture them so clearly is that the news, the media, and the opposition put the pictures of those women out there and labeled these extremists as the “face” of the movement. The opposition forced upon you an ignoble ideal of a noble cause. And you accepted it.

Don’t worry, I’m all for fairness, so let’s flip the switch. Picture an anti-feminist now. What do you see? A fat, balding old white man sitting on a stack of money pinching the asses of the secretaries that pass by. Again, you picture this because the aforementioned extremist hippies want you to picture this. They want to put a face you can hate on their opposition.

These images represent real sides, even if they so poorly skew and blur the problem. Are there angry hippies with stinky hair running amok under the “feminism” activist banner? Sure. Are there fat old misogynists playing grabass while they laugh from atop their gilded thrones? Probably. But like every other issue ever debated by human kind, these extremists that we picture as our mental representation of the problem actually make up less than 1% of those affected.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and addressed the outer edges of the problem, let’s settle in for a discussion that resides in the middle, where we actually live. The modern “feminist” just wants equality. That’s it. And the bulk of misogynists do not, in fact, think they’re even being misogynistic. The extremists have so screwed up the issue that people don’t even realize they continue to feed the problem.

Sexism happens, in nearly every aspect of our daily lives. I’m of course taking this from the standpoint of a woman. I have to. The parts I was born with clearly indicate that I’m going to sway in that direction. However, from here out, I’m going to use the word “sexism”, because we really do still have bizarre social confines for both sexes, and I am not trying to say there aren’t also unfair slants against men.

Yesterday I was in the grocery store picking up some spuds and cauliflower when a local handyman came up to me. He does repairs for our landlord around the house every 8 years or so, like lopping off the top foot of the crumbling chimney so that it looks like it’s still structurally sound and stacking a bulkhead door up on a pile of sort of similarly sized rocks so it appears to be stable. You know, my kind of kludger. Well, he saw me pull into the parking lot of the store and followed because he had another issue with his old BMW and he wanted to get my advice about it.

Think about that. A country handyman actually made a point to seek me out to ask for MY advice on his old car. And not only did he listen, he asked if he could bring it by to give it a look myself if he had no luck with the things I suggested.

People, do you even know how damn good that felt?

I am a car “guy”. I drive old diesels that require a whole lot of love and labor (and a hefty amount of tear-ladened begging) to keep them working. I do not leave that up to my guy, because doing that and waiting around for anyone (man or woman) to help when I’ve got two hands and a brain that functions is just stupid. Plus, I seem to have a mind for it. I’m not bragging, just saying that I am most definitely a product of an engineer-minded lineage. My dad was an engineer, his dad was as well, my granddad on my mum’s side is an electrical genius… I honestly do believe there is a genetic disposition towards tinkering. I’m a tinkerer.

Yet, even in this modern time of the gender equality push, I still get weird looks. I still get, “Are you sure that’s the part you need? Have you asked a real mechanic first?” from some parts stores. Don’t worry, if I get any of that at all, I shop elsewhere. I still get, “Oh that’s cool that you like to help your husband do repairs.” I don’t “help”, bitch, I “do”. I still get, “You looked cute with those tools.” Yeah? Let’s see how cute I look when I shove this tool up your…

Wanna know the real pisser? Every single one of those remarks above was said to me by a woman.

Bet you didn’t expect that twist, eh?

And why not? Why didn’t you expect it? I was absolutely riding the high of having what some would consider at first glance to be a “good ol’ boy” actually seek me out to get MY advice. I got up to write this blog entirely about that, too. And then I looked at the news before I started typing. Front page was “Great gifts for Her under $50”. Fluff. Why not? Why not just look at a bit of fluff while I’m trying to warm up and shake off the condescension of a cat?

What gifts were recommended, you might ask? Makeup, perfume, high heels, jewelry, and kitchen appliances. Home and beauty, and that was it.

At the end of the appalling list was a link for “Great gifts for Him under $50.” While women get fru fru lipsticks in twenty shades that ALL LOOK THE FRIGGIN SAME, the men get things in a wide range of categories. There’s a cocoa mug with a built in basketball hoop for some mini-marshmallow slam dunking, a shower radio, bathrobes, car accessories, sporting goods, kitchen accessories, gourmet food products, board games, books, classy ties and pocket squares, video games, and a desk organizer (okay, admittedly boring as hell for either gender, but at least it was something in a unique category!).

Women just want things to help them cook and be pretty while doing it, while men want literally everything the world has to offer.

Not only are the ideas themselves lame, the little blurbs at the beginning of the articles are ridiculous in their slant. The one under the men’s says, “Whether it’s a heroic hubby, a favorite friend or a proud papa, you want to treat your deserving dude to a fantastic holiday gift. But electronics, sports-themed presents and other guy-friendly buys can put a big dent in your wallet. Not these! Plus, they’ll remind your man why you’re a great gal and why he may want to show his appreciation for you, too.”

[author’s note: I totally fixed the grammar and punctuation issues. All the words are the same. I just tamed them.]

That was the guy’s. Now, this is the one under the women’s article. “Stumped on what to get the ladies on your list this December? From great gifts for the home to must-have accessories, these picks are sure to please. Plus, at less than $50, it’ll be a happy holiday for your wallet, too.”

Let’s look at the two opening paragraphs. The one for the guy touts him as deserving and strong. Heroic, even. You should want to get the men in your life killer gifts because, hey, aren’t they worth it? Damn straight they are! And who knows? If you spend enough and get him a good gift, he might actually see a bit of worth in you, too. The one for the woman, however, basically says that buying her a gift is something you’ve got to suck up and do, but don’t worry, because she’ll like anything that makes her pretty and domestically industrious. Besides, it’s not like you’re spending a lot, so what the hell are you complaining about? Get your lady a damn lipstick and it’ll buy you some peace and quiet for the year.

Okay, okay. That last bit was a read-in on my part. But come on. Be honest now and compare them side to side, and you’ve got to see the blatant difference in the two. The message is abundantly clear. In 2014, a popular magazine ran these articles saying that men have EARNED their Christmas gifts, while women get gifts simply out of obligation. And the real disappointment is that these articles were from Woman’s Day magazine.

“Bethie, it’s only two stupid articles in a magazine no one cares about anymore.”

Oh contraire. That was just one. Red Book ran an article on “75 Best gifts for your BFF” that was no better. The most creative items on the list still fell in the tight confines of home and beauty. Where are the video game suggestions? Gadgets? Tech stuff and silly stuff and books and “smart” presents? I don’t want a wine cozy or a leopard print compact.

Harper’s Bazaar, Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, etc…almost all of the women’s magazines have buying guides for gifts right now. And almost all of them exclusively contain gift suggestions in the home and beauty categories. One article would not be a big deal. However, when girls are looking through these magazines and see almost nothing but the blatant differences, don’t you think that’s got to have an impact?

Yes, there are some magazines with “Cool gadgets she’ll love” articles. Yes, there are a handful that DO include things from wrenches to feather boas, and all the cool and weird stuff in between. What I’m saying is THAT should be the norm, and it’s not. The norm is STILL a 50’s outlook on what women want.

The women who write and edit these magazines under the guise of being a powerful voice for their gender are doing nothing but perpetuating the stereotypes and keeping sexism alive. The real face of the modern anti-feminist isn’t a fat, rich, bald white guy. It’s a smirking editor of a woman’s magazine, sitting on her own gilded throne and shaking her head at the poor dumb schmucks who are still eating up this 1950’s bullshit.

Now, I’m not trying to say all the gender issues can be resolved with stupid Woman’s Day articles. Please don’t think I am. It would be a good start, though. All they need to do is make it fair, and it’s a lot easier than people think. Instead of saying that women are hard to shop for but still expect gifts, set the same tone that was set in the men’s article. Use the same gushing exuberance for the women in the readers’ lives as well. “You know that best friend, amazing Mom, or hard working aunt you have? Why not tell them you care with a thoughtful gift this Christmas?” Tell the women they matter, that even if they don’t have a dick, they, too, deserve respect.

Then make small changes to the list to include the interests of ALL women. Add in some gifts that cover the spectrum. Are there women who would love to get make up for Christmas? Absolutely! There are also women who would rather get tools. Look at the mens’ list again. It includes things for guys who like a wide variety of things, including beauty and home goods. Why can’t the same be done for the women’s list? Have the beauty and home goods, and then add in some books, or tools, or gadgets, or games or…SOMEthing that says to the reader that women are more than pretty housekeepers.

Seriously. It’s that easy.

One little drop. One little change. One little step and then maybe it’ll just be status quo when guys ask knowledgeable women for car advice. Maybe it’ll feel like a regular day instead of a victory.

Thus concludes a hot button Muse for Friday, December 5, 2014. I usually feel better after venting. Today, I do not. It is a frustrating topic, simply because there are so many people who write it off without listening, without considering that maybe we’re doing a lot of it to ourselves. And that makes me sad.