A somber start to a solemn day…

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Mornin’ all.

The day is starting out with a heavy feeling in the air. It’s overcast, with humidity that hints that summer is just around the corner. A thick blanket of dew has covered the available surfaces, and the mourning doves are cooing their haunting moans as they look down upon it all from the power lines.

I’m a writer, and as such, it’s my job to attempt to accurately capture a feeling as succinctly as possible. If I had to put a word to the feeling of this early morning in one word, I’d call it somber.

I think that’s a perfect way for today to begin. Here in the US, it’s Memorial Day, a day when we pause our lives to remember the men and women and, unfortunately, a few children who fought and died as members of our armed forces.

We’ve got a very odd relationship with our soldiers in this country. We need them. Humanity in general has not been able to handle the idea of Utopia. Some whackadoo gets twitchy and itchy and bored and decides the best thing to do to alleviate the malaise is bomb something, shoot someone, or invade someplace.

As long as a sense of self exists in human beings, then there WILL be someone who wants their particular self to be at the top, and will do whatever it takes to get there.

War is inevitable.

“That’s awful cynical of you, Bethie.”

No. It’s just fact. It’s just how our world works, or at least how it’s worked so far. Every single era of human history has been wrought with (and often defined by) battle. Some wars were fought over land. Many, actually. Some wars were fought against oppression; all, depending on which side of the coin you’re on. Wars are fought over religion, which is singlehandedly the most inane reason to kill a bunch of someones, and also fought against religion, which is still wholly unreasonable.

As long as there are humans, there *will* be within us a sense of personal righteousness and justice that *will* differ from others, whatever the cause of the disagreement. And so far, we haven’t grown up enough to realize that we don’t have to pick up swords or guns or missiles in order to come to a mutually unsatisfactory compromise.

We’re getting there, though. Right now, I’d liken humanity to being in our early adulthood. We’ve passed the toddler years, where everything was a temper tantrum. We’ve somehow struggled through the awkward trials of adolescence, when everything was wicked unfair and no one else could possibly understand what we were talking about. Gawd. We are on the cusp of leaving the late teens, where we truly started to think with a broader, more mature outlook, and now we’re standing on the precipice of real comprehension…we acknowledge that there IS a future, that we CAN shape it, and that wars and killing and dying do not HAVE to be the only way to get us there.

The age of the internet has finally allowed us to start making leaps and bounds to the period of understanding and acceptance that will lead to the majority of people settling differences with words and symbolism instead of relying on the old stalwarts of human conflict, Mr. Stabby and Mrs. Kablooie. We can see that it is possible. And, we even want it. As a group, more and more of us are actually truly wanting peace, not just saying it to look good.

For the first time in human history, we can click a few buttons and look into the real lives of the people we’re supposed to hate. We can see the mothers of the particular group we’re shooting while they weep over the bodies of their sons and daughters, just as we are doing ourselves on our own side of the world. We can see smiling babies and grinning old men who are both happily gumming down some fresh fish at a market. We can watch a YouTube clip of a Dad sitting proudly in a graduation ceremony for his kid, and a Mom licking her finger to brush off a smudge of dirt as her daughter rolls her eyes.

For the first time, anyone with an internet connection can see the people we are supposed to hate and fear. And while we used to be able to pretend that every *fill in classically hostile nation or group of your choice* was bad, the internet has proven that not to be the case. MOST of the aforethought “bad” people aren’t, in fact, bad, and we’re having a really hard time hating them enough to send someone to end their lives.

And yet, we cannot ignore facts. As much as we want to think that everyone is eager to join us on this path filled with rainbows and unicorns, we can’t deny that they don’t. There are people out there who still want war, and are willing to attack and kill those who don’t.

It makes for a very awkward relationship with our military. We don’t want to fight, yet we have to. We don’t want any of our guys killing other people, but they must.

See, I’m like most modern Americans. I hate the idea of war. I’m ready to settle everything with thumb wrestling and move on with life. That said, I love and respect the men and women who volunteer to fight the wars we haven’t yet been able to figure out how to prevent.

It’s hard to reconcile the two seemingly dichotomous view points.

Maybe this difficulty is not really that modern of an issue. Did you know that Memorial Day wasn’t an official federal holiday until 1971?

1971!

Do you know what other federal holidays were officially observed before Memorial Day? Almost every single other one. The only newly-proposed nationally observed holiday that came after Memorial Day was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, federally adopted in 1983.

It took our country nearly two hundred years to decide that the scores upon scores of soldiers that died to a) get us here, and b) keep us going, deserved an official day of remembrance. Almost 200 years before the very government that sent these men, women, and children to battle deigned to officially acknowledge their ultimate sacrifice. I’m not kidding when I say we’ve got a very odd relationship with our armed forces!

Perhaps that’s why so many folks see today as nothing more than the “unofficial start of summer,” a reason to go to a CUH-RAY-ZEE sale down at Ed’s Auto Barn where they’ll be treated like a king with these CUH-RAY-ZEE deals, or to pull the blankets back over their throbbing heads in a mix of pain and shame at the memories of dancing on the picnic table with their shirt off at the first BBQ of the season. There are a good amount of folks who will see today as nothing more than a free day off.

But it’s not hyperbole to say that today is not at all “free”. It’s not eye-rolling, over-the-top patriotism to stop and remember that there was, and still IS, a cost.

We are a nation because we decided that England could ‘eff off. By the end of our American Revolution, it is estimated that nearly 25,000 soldiers (men and children) died from either their primary wounds or infections from said wounds while they served.

That doesn’t seem like a big number, especially for a war, so let’s put it into perspective. My town has a population of about 4,300 people. In the American Revolution, almost 6 of my entire town’s worth of people died fighting to make us a nation. Six of my whole town…gone.

In the US Civil War, around 620,000 soldiers died. That’s 147 of my towns. Or, all of Boston. Every man, woman, and child in Boston.

In the World Wars, we lost a combined total of around 520,000. 123 of my towns, or all of Tucson. All of it.

And Vietnam, the war that wasn’t a war, the one the US people suddenly didn’t want but our government kept at anyway, saw nearly 60,000 casualties of US soldiers. 14 of my town.

But that’s history, right? That’s in the past.

Our current “war on terror” that began in 2001 and has shifted focus here and there, has produced around 6,700 US military casualties. That’s a town and a half of mine, completely gone. While I’m writing this, the totally slowly grows.

That’s 6,700 volunteers, too. No draft. No compulsion or collusion. Soldiering is not mandatory, as it is in some nations. Six thousand seven hundred men and women not only intentionally enlisted in our armed forces to fight the wars our government elected to join, but paid the ultimate price. They went into service knowing there was a good chance they weren’t coming home, and they went anyway.

They went to stop people from oppressing others.

They went to prevent the bombers from moving across the water to our “greener pastures”.

They went so that our government wouldn’t have to force quivering masses of jelly like me to pick up a gun and defend myself.

I wish they didn’t have to go. I wish there weren’t wars. I wish that terrorists didn’t exist and that every insane despot got the mental help they needed in time to stave off a horrifyingly brutal dictatorship. I wish people didn’t want to kill other folks, and I wish they weren’t getting sick of bombing their own people and looking across the ocean toward ours. I wish so many things. But wishing doesn’t make it happen. Wanting doesn’t keep us safe.

Soldiers do.

We stayed, and they went for us. In doing so, over a million and a half have laid down their lives so that we could keep living ours.

Whatever your feelings on war, please, PLEASE remember that no matter how much you wish war doesn’t exist, it does. Put the mustard down and set the beer-fueled antics aside for a moment to remember that our “free” day had one helluva price tag, and take time today to honor those who selflessly picked up the tab. It is honestly the very least we all can do.

Thus concludes a Musing for Memorial Day mourning on Monday, May 25, 2015.

Ooh, let’s say I was on sabbatical so I sound important…

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Mornin’ all.

Sorry I’ve been incommunicado…

*author’s note: Dude, I spelled that right on my first try! No shit.*

…but the winds of change have been flowing through the House of Bethie, and I’ve been scrambling to set everything back in its place. Maybe I shouldn’t have left the windows open. The papers that once sat in structured order on the desk of life now sit in a chaotic tangle on the floor.

Of course that’s just a metaphor. The actual papers of my real life have ALWAYS been a chaotic tangle, on the floor…and desk…and cupboards; pretty much every available surface, and some that really weren’t technically available, but I think you get what I was going for.

Things are changing. Things have changed.

We lost someone. My mother-in-law pointed out that makes it sounds like he’s simply misplaced. I never thought about it before, but she’s right, so I’ll rephrase. A man has died.

I hate death, folks. I hate it. I hate it with every fiber of my being. “It’s all part of life!” Phooey. “It’s just the way things are.” Hogwash. “Everything must die.” Who says? Just because that’s the way it’s been so far doesn’t mean that’s how it *must* be. It simply means that we haven’t thought and theorized and invented hard enough yet.

When Death shows up at my door, I’ll pretend to be the housekeeper and call through the peephole to tell him to return when the boss is home.

Okay, little hissy fit over. I know that’s the way of things. Jeez, could you imagine what the world would be like if no one died? We think we’ve got problems now…yikes! And I’d only really try and trick Death for the giggles it would give me if it actually worked. I get that death happens, I get it has to happen. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

It’s always been difficult for me to handle, another one of those things I always assumed I’d be better at when I grew up, like cleaning the house and not eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast. I’m thirty-seven, and none of these adult things have happened. Maybe I’m just destined to Peter Pan my way through life.

I suppose there could be worse fates. I could “Accountant” my way through life. *shudder* I would literally shrivel up from the boredom.

“So who died, Bethie?”

We permanently misplaced my father-in-law.

Now, I’m not one of those people who likes to do in-law jokes, or rushes to tell my sisters, “Can you believe what they do in this family!?” as soon as I get off the phone with them. I wait at least five minutes.

Kidding. I love my in-laws. They’ve always been the most supportive people on the planet to me. I’m a weird person, and they’ve never cared. In fact, if the pun war emails with my father-in-law were any indication, he was just as weird.

…get that look off your face right now. Don’t act like you’re above a good pun war. It’s safe to admit here. You’re among friends.

Our relationship was so much more than jokes. He supported me in my crazy endeavors. I loved my own dad, we were thick as thieves. But when I’d tell my dad I was going to do something like knock out the sink and put in a new counter made from an old door and flooring tiles, he’d tell me why my ideas wouldn’t work. My father-in-law, however, would say, “Okay, kid, this is what you’ll need to build a support bracket. Got any plant hangers you can take off the wall?”

I always thought it was a shame that we were separated by an entire country. He lived on the wrong coast. Had he lived closer, oh the antics we could have gotten into! My poor guy would have come home from work to find the walls knocked down to put in custom cabinetry, or the backyard turned into a Rube Goldberg apple picking contraption.

Or maybe he could have taught me some competition roller skating moves, or how to win at a hill climb, or how to craft an award-winning ad campaign, or what it took to become a master wood craftsman. He did all those things, and so many more. You know the “most interesting man in the world” Dos Equis commercials? Bitch, please. I knew the real most interesting man in the world, and he liked scotch.

My father-in-law was an amazing man that lived an incredible life. He did not die young, and he had enough experiences to fill several memoirs. Yes, he died…but before that, he really and truly lived.

And yet, I still want more.

What can I say? I’m greedy.

It hasn’t all been bad change here. As life so often is, it’s been a mixed bag. Two of the teens did something shocking: They got jobs.

I know, right?! Of their own volition, too! I’m so proud.

There’s a small store here in town that sells smokes, beer, and grocery reclaim items. A “dent ‘n bent”…’n vices. The owner bought out a different store, with no vices only dents, and the town was not pleased. I myself got many deeply discounted groceries from there, and was very reticent to see my favorite shady purveyor of questionably fresh products be replaced with an unknown.

It’s turned out just fine. The current owner has been spending a lot of time and effort in sprucing the place up. It’s still fairly seedy, don’t get me wrong. The man has a lot of hard work before he’ll make it reputable. But I must say, I believe his efforts are good for the town.

And he’s replaced the lighting in the store, so now it has some, and added some flooring where the tiles had long since been chipped away. He built a new, brightly lit register, and plays very cool music to drown out the droning whine of the off-kilter ceiling fans.

One of the best things about him taking over, though, is that he only employs teenagers.

Look, I get that he does that because it’s cheaper for him. He employs five kids on rotating part-time schedules. I get that he does this so he doesn’t have to offer insurance, or benefits, or deal with an adult who would ask for more than minimum wage. It’s in his best interest to hire young, eager, stupid kids.

But you know what? I don’t really care. It’s in MY kids’ best interest to get paid to do something with their free time. That’s five more teenagers who WILL have something to do in the evenings in this no-horse town. It gives them something to do instead of hanging out and getting bored enough to either cause trouble or do drugs…or both.

Besides, it gives the kids some good learning experiences. They have a job with other newbs, where they’re all being taught how to be employees together. The boys have had a few hard days already, but they came out laughing instead of feeling defeated, because they were able to joke around with the other kids who were in the shit with them.

I’m proud of my boys. It takes courage and drive to put the gaming controller down and pick up a broom for someone else. And I think they’re both proud of themselves for it, too. They seem to be walking a bit taller, and they get a look of satisfaction when they say, “Okay, it’s time to go to work.”

Good. That’s good. Right? That’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to want to spread their wings and test the waters and start to be adults. How else will they be prepared to handle car payments and tuition and spiffy duds for their climb up the corporate ladder and five o’clock shadow and rent that leads to mortgages and wedding days and baby carriages and the new roof the damn tree branch fell through and….

>>>I DON’T WANT THEM TO GROW UP!!!<<< They’re my babies and they aren’t allowed to ever have mortgages and roofs and spiffy corporate suits!! They are supposed to stay here and need me and be my buddies forever and ever and ever!!!!

*sniff*

Okay. *sniff*

Okay, I’m fine. Got that out, and now I’m better. I *do* want them to grow up. I want them to grow up and be capable and live amazing lives. I think just having two at once do it is a bit much. Can I tell one of them to wait a sec?

…no?

The youngest teenager, the one who is not legally employable yet, has been picking up the slack around the house. See, I do the bulk of things here. But I do have chores for the boys. I’ll ask one to do laundry, one to wash up the dishes, one to sort recycling, etc. However, with the other two working and going to school, I had a talk with the third member of the Three Musketeers about more of that responsibility now falling on his shoulders. I thought he’d balk. He did not. In fact, I think he’s getting almost as much pride in doing the few extra things here and there as the others are in having jobs.

We’ll see if he keeps that shine when paychecks start rolling in for the other two. Methinks it may be time to figure out if I can scrape out any type of allowance for him.

Think I can still pay him in cuddles like I did when he was little?

So like I said, the winds of change have been blowing up a sandstorm around here. One life has ended, two more have just taken great leaps to really begin.

It’s life. It’s just life. And while the ride is exhilarating in it’s unpredictability, sometimes it just takes me a bit of time to find the balance.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Thursday, May 21, 2015. I think I need to put some music on and make a contraption today. Something. Anything. I just need to tear apart some old junk and use it to make something beautiful. Now, if that’s not poetic, I don’t know what is.

I think 37 combined hours of labor is enough justification for cake…

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Mornin’ all!

Okay, that’s enough idle chit chat. It’s a holiday, so let’s get right into it.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! (in the US, that is…)

Ah, Mother’s Day. A day to remember that you came out of someone by giving them flowers, a card, or one of those utterly hideous charm bracelets they’ve been pimping on tv that are anything but charming. Maybe you’re going to cook your mum burnt toast, like they do in all the best sitcoms. Maybe you’ve got special plans to take her to brunch because you got that coupon in the weekend paper. Maybe you’ll have a BBQ and make the burgers to go with the couple sides and dessert she’s bringing.

Perhaps you’ve read all the articles decrying the holiday as pap. “You should love your mother every day of the year, and having a special day is bullshit!” you might say as you shake your fist at another FTD guilt-marketing campaign. You decide that you aren’t going to so much as call your mother, because to do so would be giving in to the commercialism of yet another fascist/bullshit/mind control holiday and you were raised better than that. She’d understand, you reason, and I’m sure she will. After all, she raised you.

Or maybe you are like millions of others right now smacking your forehead and saying “OH SHIT IT’S MOTHER’S DAY!”. Maybe your mind is frantically adding up the monthly budget, trying to determine if you can make up for your poor planning, or if Mum is just going to have to pretend she doesn’t smell the gasoline fumes that cling to the single, wilting rose you bought from the smirking cashier when you filled up on your way over.

Traditions. How we love them!

“You okay, Bethie? You’re sounding a little cynical this morning.”

Nah, not really. Please know I’m saying this with a wry smile and a loving shake of my head at my fellow Americans. You know why? Because we all really screw up what should be easy. We eff up what’s supposed to be a calm, mellow, relaxing day. We fumble the football of basic human emotions because we’re ‘Merican and that’s how we roll.

I’m not exempt from the national ineptitude that surrounds Mother’s Day. I’m right there, too, even though I myself am a mum multiple times over. We create unnecessary pressure and forget why there’s a holiday at all.

So let’s stop with the mental calculations and put the bread down. There will be plenty of time to burn toast and buy gas station flowers in a bit. For now, let’s take a minute to learn about this holiday we all love, and have grown to love to hate.

In the United States, Mother’s Day became an official holiday because of the devotion one Anna Jarvis had to her deceased mother.

…hang on a sec. This isn’t some Norman Bates tale. Don’t write this off as a creeper story of someone who couldn’t cut the damn cord. Mama Jarvis, a woman who bore 13 kids, did something many mothers in the mid 1800s did not: she educated her girl babies right alongside the boys. In fact, she even sent the girls to college. Anna Jarvis never forgot this or the sacrifices made by Mama Jarvis to make it happen. Nor did she take for granted the social stigma Mama Jarvis faced because she dared educate her daughters. In modern times, that’s not abnormal, it’s just what you do. If you have a girl, good on ya, now send her to school so she has more options than “marrying well” when she’s an adult. But back in the day, it was an incredible sacrifice Mama Jarvis made on many fronts, not just financial.

When Mama Jarvis died, Anna decided that there should be some type of day of remembrance for mothers since hers was so amazing. She began petitioning for an official Mother’s Day, and through lots of hard work, and in the face of many rolling eyes and long-suffering sighs, I imagine, three years later she was able to have a Mother’s Day, held in her church and recognized by her town. It was small victory, but it was a start. From there, she convinced her state to make Mother’s Day a holiday, and the idea began to catch on. She launched a decade long campaign to the US government for mothers to get an official day of their own, and Woodrow Wilson finally proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914.

Anna Jarvis had an admirable devotion to what sounds like one wicked rad lady. However, Anna was not an original. Her thought was not unique. She wasn’t the first to decide that mums are deserving of a holiday, nor the last to champion a government for an official day. Many ancient cultures have had celebrations specifically for honoring mothers, and as it stands, nearly 70 modern nations also have a Mother’s Day of sorts.

See, Mother’s Day is NOT an American holiday. Though the specific observation being on the second Sunday in May is, the idea of the holiday stretches backwards in history, probably to the first time a caveman watched a cavewoman nursing a teething baby and thought, “Ug. Mugga muh maggi meh.” Roughly translated, “Shit. I wouldn’t do that.”

We as thinking beings have always had a reverence for mothers. It’s a universal fact that has been observed since the dawn of time. Mothering has a majesty to it that has captivated and humbled humankind. In all cultures, Mothers mean life, they mean nurturing, they are a symbol of strength and perseverance and devotion. Mothers give love and impart knowledge. They punish, they praise. They are singular entities of steadfast support through troubled waters, beacons in the sea of life.

…hang on. Lemme wipe the cliches off the screen before they drip into your coffee. *squigga squeak*

My point is, Mother’s Day is not a commercial waste. It’s not a guilt party. It’s not another excuse to grill dead animals and chug some brewskis. It’s a day to recognize a simple truth:

Mothers are awesome.

And I’m not saying this because I am one. Nor am I saying “Mothers are better than fathers.” Dads get their due as well, and one holiday does not negate another.

Also, because this is the internet, I think I must take a second to clarify that I’m speaking in broad, general terms. Of course not ALL mothers are pinnacles of magnificence. If you are reading this and getting pissed because you had a shitty mother, I’m honestly sorry for your upbringing and hope you’ve got someone to talk to so you can ease your pain. That said, I don’t want to hear about it right now. Any other day of the year, I’d be totally cool with you venting. But not today. That’s not what this is for. If this holiday is a trigger for you, then stop reading this, or anything else about mothers, and go have a lovely day at the beach. Put your internet feeding machines away. Detach from the world and make yourself healthier. Today, in this blog, I am very pro-Mother and will broker no discussion to the contrary.

We all on the same page now? Good!

Mums are rad, and they deserve a day. So why is it we make things so damn hard? Why is there stress? Why is there pressure? Why do we build it up in our heads to be a mega guilt trip?

Because we are humans, and humans have a very hard time just saying what they mean. Gifts are easier to share than emotions. I’m guilty of this, too. While I’m open and honest in writing, when it comes to personal face-to-face interactions, I suck. I always tell people that I’m much better in writing, because in person, I never, ever say what I really want to say.

Or, I jump WAY over the line and say too much.

Not really good with the shades of gray there. Heh.

And I’m not alone. That’s the one comfort. Most folks bumble their way through Mother’s Day, feeling awkward and inept. That’s why they end up having Mum make the food and do all the cleaning for the surprise BBQ they decided to “throw for her.” That’s why they’ll stand in front of the card section in Walmart in a half-panic/half-daze for an hour while they desperately try to choose a card that’s written in cursive, so it’s heartfelt, but not too cursive that it crosses the line to insipid. That’s why people get snarky and tense when folks ask about Mother’s Day plans, because they simply don’t know what to say or do to express all they feel.

I’ll make it easy for ya, folks. You want to know what your mum wants today?

She wants you to call and chat. She wants you to tell her about your life, and ask about hers. She wants a few minutes to laugh and reminisce about the time you thought her maxi pads were facecloths and got them stuck in your hair (true story, but I’ll never tell you which kid of mine that was!), and she wants to remind you of that time when she TOLD you not to climb up the tree because you’d get scared and stuck and you did it anyway, and how’d THAT turn out, huh? She wants to hear about the grandkids if she has any, or grandpuppies if she doesn’t. She wants to hear you talk about what your work plans are, or your vacation plans, or any plans you have in general.

Today the only thing your mother wants is to be your mother. She wants you to take a few minutes from the hectic, capable, life she taught you to lead to call and just be her kid for awhile.

You’re an adult. You wipe your own nose and cut your own meat. If there’s a problem at work, you handle it without a parent/boss conference. You take yourself to the doctor for checkups, even if it’s not as frequently as you should, and you somehow manage to wear clean underwear most days without mothering intervention. In so many ways you don’t need your mother anymore.

And in so many other ways, in all the truly important ones, you do.

Now stop screwing around on the internet and go tell her that.

Thus concludes a Mothering Musing for Sunday, May 10, 2015. You’re still mentally calculating to figure out if you’ve got enough for the gas station rose AND a little sack of Lindor truffles, aren’t you? That’s okay. When you give them to your mum, she’ll know exactly what you mean.

Catchy theme music wafted gently through the morning fog…

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Mornin’ all.

So if you have chrome that you want to paint, and you spend hours scuffing the finish enough to take a primer and then MORE hours carefully layering the piles of paint it takes to make pristine chrome look like scungy old brass, then it’s probably a good idea not to leave said labor-intensive project on the table overnight to dry without either covering it with a box or securing the curious cat in another part of the house.

Survey time: Kitty paw prints…steampunk or not steampunk?

I think the damage is just to the clear coat. I cannot whine enough to convey the magnitude of “suck” it will be if I have to acetone it all off and start over.

Bad kitty. Bad.

We’ve been enjoying shockingly good weather here the past couple days. I would have been doing more actual car work instead of kittypunking my car yesterday if we weren’t once again waiting for parts. We did a simple brake pad replacement on Sunday, and as I was putting the wheel back on and snugging down a lug bolt, I snapped it.

Yep. I snapped a bolt.

Me.

Just broke that sucker right in half.

“Bethie? Not to be rude, but don’t you have abs of pudding?”

Yes. Yes I do. But maybe I’m less like butterscotch pudding and more like an undercooked tapioca. There are hard bits where you’d never expect them.

“…well that’s a disturbing image.”

*flexes* Guess I don’t know my own strength. Shoulda put a little less beast in my mode. I suppose that’s what I get for bringing the gun show to a knife fight.

” *groan* ”

…too far?

Anyway, would you believe that lug bolts for a 20 year old car aren’t that easy to come by? New bolts and rotors ordered (since the bolt snapped in the rotor and it’s much easier just to replace the lot instead of trying to tap it out), and now it’s back to waiting. Now you can see why I caught the automotive crafting bug.

I already did the grille, and boy does it look neat if I say so myself. I figured we only paid $800 for the clunker…might as well have some fun with it! Besides, I have some more legitimate body work that needs doing on one of the other cars, and the more practice I can get, the better. That one has to look good. But this experimental wagon? This one is just my playground.

Nice weather. Cool project. Amazing feat of superhuman strength.

“Uh, no one called it that…”

You know what these things have in common? They put me in a good mood. And you all know what I love to do when I’m in a good mood…

Cue the go-go dancers, play that catchy theme music, and release the ticker tape. It’s time for a…

*** HEADLINE ROUNDUP!!! ***

Thank you, ladies. Round of applause for our go-go dancers. The girls sure nailed that triple salchow, eh? It’s nice to… *pffth*…*ptooey*… Gak, sorry. Got some ticker tape in my mouth. Whose idea was the damn ticker tape? Get the stage manager up here immediately and…

…oh. Heh. Sorry. I’ll deal with him later. Right now, let’s go over the rules and odds of winning. I do a Roundup when I find headlines that I find odd, poorly worded, misleading, or just create a share-worthy response when I read them. As always, the headlines are 100% real. I just supply the sugar coating to make them go down easier. Everyone ready? Then keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times and let’s begin!

– Pentagon: Texas Has Nothing to Fear From Upcoming Military Exercise

That statement would have carried more weight if the reps weren’t also nudge-nugding and wink-winking at each other through the press conference.

– Britain’s Newest Princess Can’t Expect Fairy Tale Life

Rrreow. SOMEone at the AP’s feeling a bit catty.

– Gun Salute Welcomes Princess In Style

HOLY SHIT! WTF is wrong with you, Britons?! You don’t give a BABY a GUN SALUTE! I’m ‘Merican, and even I know that! Maybe the AP was on to something up there…

– Fox News Apologizes for Misreported Story

In related news, pigs have been seen flying over the frozen depths of Hell and the apocalypse is clearly upon us. Hug your children tight, folks. The end is nigh.

– Some Police Reconsider Rules on Deadly Force

Gee, wonder what would give them that idea completely out of the blue?

– Remote Home of Leprosy Patients Could Open Door Wider

Hold the phone. Leper colonies are real? Isn’t it, like, 2015 or did I seriously misunderstand the concepts of “progress” and “time”?

– Mystery System Brewing in Atlantic

It was all very puzzling until the gang arrived and pulled the rubber mask off to reveal it was just Old ‘Phoon Jenkins looking to keep vacationers away from prime fishing spots. That zany old Jenkins.

– Dead Sperm Whale in Bay Area Burned, Defaced With Graffiti

I actually kind of understand the burning. I mean, you’ve got to get rid of it somehow, right? Plus: burgers. I can’t throw stones. However, I never want to meet the kind of dude who can look at a dead animal and think, “You know what would really make this pop? PINK BUBBLE LETTERS. Boom.”

– After Dave Goldberg’s Tragic Death, it’s Worth a Reminder: Treadmills Are Dangerous

See? I’m not lazy, I’m just safety-conscious.

– US in Longest “Hurricane Drought” in Recorded History

Well we wouldn’t be if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

– Florida Man Injured After Falling From Bridge While Changing Tire

I feel like they neglected to mention a few key points of the story here…

– Smart Luggage May Check Itself in, Follow You Around

Like I need another needy accessory dogging my every move. Sorry, but I learned my lesson with the Average Intelligence Handbag.

– 7 Most Surprising Things About Owning A New Apple Watch

1) No one cares that you have it. No one. At best, you might get a polite, but disinterested, “Oh. Yeah. Uh, good for you,” when you flash it around.

2) Do you need to hear any more? I mean, c’mon. The only reason you were interested in the first place was because it’s an expensive piece of tech that you can show off. Since no one cares, don’t bother. Instead, spend the money on something fun and frivolous like food or rent.

– Astronauts Watch Star Wars in Space

Your move, IMAX.

– As Emoji Spread Beyond Texts, Many Remain [Confounded Face] [Interrobang]

…uh…well said? I guess?

– Dementia-causing Cosmic Rays Could Dash Dreams of Martian Colony

And they *could* be humanity’s only legitimate hope at obtaining super powers. I think we know which is more important. Line for the Mars colony forms to the left. No pushing.

– Mysterious Extrasolar Exoplanet: 55 Cancri, the “Diamond Planet,” Experiences Wild Temperature Fluctuations Observed for the First Time, Astronauts Say

They didn’t even need to write an article. The headline literally said it all.

– Millions of Trees Die In California Drought

At least the lawns around the mansions are still vibrant and green. That’s what really counts. Could you imagine how icky it would look if they stopped watering their LAWNS for the sake a few stupid trees no one paid for? Priorities, folks.

– Can “Youth Protein” Serum Actually Make Your Skin Look Younger?

EW, to every possible meaning for the term “youth protein serum”.

– Iran Bans “Devil Worshiping” Haircuts

Ooh, a game! I like games. Okay, hmm…. I’m guessing… permed mullets, Bieber bangs, and faux-hawks. Am I right?

– Five US Aircraft Landed At Wrong Airports Since 2012: NTSB

Five US Pilots Have Better “Worst Day On The Job” Stories Than You

– Justices Seek US Government’s Views On Colorado Marijuana Laws

“I dunno if I support it. I mean, do YOU support it? Because if you do, then I might…BUT only if you do. Not that I’m a pot head or anything. Cuz I’m not. Really.”

– Texans, Put Down Guns and Pick Up Guitars, Says Rally Organizer

You know, the hippie might just be onto something here. If I was going to face an angry mob of rednecks, I think I’d be cooler with getting my face bashed in if my demise was also accompanied by some epic shredding.

…”No, seriously, esteemed Senators. I meant it. Go ahead and test me if you want to.”

– A Guide to CRISPR, A Human Gene Editing Tool That Has Researchers Excited, Terrified

[Confounded Face] [Interrobang]

…”I was just asking to see where YOU stand, not for myself. I’m here to serve YOU, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I rushed ahead and used my position to do things like settle silly debates or anything.”

– Scientists Create “Out-of-body” Experience, “Teleport” Participants Around the Room

DAMN IT! Would someone PLEASE get these bored scientists something to do before our edited genes get teleported into other people?

…”Far be it from me to think for a moment that…”

OH FOR THE LOVE OF… You’re a US judge. Get your hands out of the pockets of politicians and make a decision.

*phew* Sorry, folks. It had to be said. I think we can move on now.

– Chris Brown Accused of Battery

Hey, looks like the No Shit Gazette is back in print!

– Audi Makes Diesel Out of Water and Air

No snark. Just thought this was amazing.

– 10 Fun Ways to Celebrate Screen-free Week

…as posted on your screen.

– Amazon CEO Launches First Rocket Into Space

Oh, no you don’t. Can’t fool me, Amazon. I know for a fact that was not the first rocket launched into space. Nice try.

– Women Can Learn Outdoor Skills at Fall Retreat

Stuff and nonsense! Women learning outdoor skills? That’s preposterous! Why, next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to vote.

– Minor League Team Host Peanut-free Night

Yeah, but are they also gluten free? Because I have a firm rule against watching any baseball that contains gluten.

– Boy Finds Leech Lodged in His Throat

There. THERE, scientists. Put away the potentially humanity-damning side projects and create something to keep this from ever. happening. again.

– 5 Undeniable Reasons Why Humans Must Colonize Mars

1) To escape the impending Zombie apocalypse.

2) To create a base of operations we can use to launch a counter-attack against our robot overlords.

3) To give people a justifiable reason to impersonate Arnie and say, “Get your ass to Mars.”

4) Because we’re never going to find intelligent life on THIS rock.

5) To finally gain super powers.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Wait a sec…hang on…we’ve got a late entry into the Roundup:

– What Skin Cancer Looks Like

Bad. It looks bad. It looks so much worse than having no tan. This is not a joking entry, or in any way classic Roundup fodder. With the nice weather, it’s time to remind everyone that humans are (mostly) no longer covered in protective fur like our ancestors, so put on some damn sunscreen before you go out to play.