The best gifts to never give…

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Mornin’ all.

Boy did I have shit dreams last night. Not scary. Just…haunting. People from the past showing up just to remind me they’re gone. I hate those nights. I’d rather wake up with my heart racing convinced that the Tallicat that’s taunted me since first grade has finally manifested than dream about people I miss.

I can shake off the heebie jeebies of a scary dream. I can shine a flashlight under my bed and remind myself I’m a 37 year old woman, for fuck’s sake, and of COURSE nothing is going to bite my feet because I chopped off its tallipole. Honestly sometimes I am such a baby. But, I get over those. Might wear an extra pair of socks and tuck my feet up under me when I sit on the couch juuuuust to be sure, but I can work past a creepy nightmare.

I can’t, however, unmiss people.

Hang on a sec. There’s a James Taylor situation happening on the radio I must take care of.

Yikes. The very last thing I need this morning is James Taylor whining about Christmas.

Speaking of…

You know, sometimes things happen in life that make you think, “Hm. Maybe someone really IS looking out for me.” I woke up in my melancholic mood and fixed my coffee…

*WARNING: This batch of coffee is not FDA approved. Consume at your own risk.*

…then loaded up the old distraction machine and immediately found an article MSN linked from Allure that turned my melancholy into incredulous exasperation.

Actually, the FIRST article I read was about that blow hard Warren Sapp claiming he has “proof” of Patriots cheating because one time in the early 2000s, his team was playing against the Pats and they were leading before halftime and ended up losing the game.

Because, you know, that’s never, ever happened before. My god it’s unheard of. Everyone knows the first team to score always wins the game and…

“*achem* Bethie?”

Yeah?

“You’re doing that sports thing again. I thought we had a deal?”

…oh. Right. Heh. Sorry. I just can’t believe the tiny, steroid-shriveled balls of some guys, ya know?

Because Christmas is right around the corner, Allure…magazine? Is it a magazine? Are magazines even still things? Well, whatever Allure is, they published a list. You know I love me a good list. I love me a BAD list even more. And this one, this one’s a doozy.

18 Gift Ideas For the Girl Who Has Everything

I would expect that a site/magazine/sad-collection-of-usurped-middle-aged-women-who-used-to-OWN-the-newsstand with a name like “Allure” would be for women, not girls. But maybe they’re going for the 30-year-olds who desperately try to convince themselves that 30 is the new 20? I just don’t know, and that means I’m already sold.

1. Hermes Double Tour Apple Watch: $1250

So the girl who has everything wants a watch that costs as much as 357 gallons of milk!?

…what? You have your ways of assessing value, I have mine.

Sorry, Allure, but I have a hard time believing that someone who could afford a twelve hundred dollar watch is reading your e-zine for gift ideas.

2. By Kilian Scented Paperweight

No, there’s no trick. No hidden agenda. It is literally a scented paperweight. A designer… scented… paperweight. Why would you give someone a smelly desk rock for the holidays? Because it’s FRENCH, that’s why. It comes in four different flavors, too, so no worries if someone else also gets her one. And at only $155 each, she can collect them all. Like Pokemon. Sad, smelly Pokemon.

3. Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Holiday 2015 Collection

Now, I know you have absolute no idea whatsoever what this might be without a photo. I could literally tell you it’s anything and you’d have no choice but to believe me. I’ll let you in on the secret, though. This is the description. “Strung on a gunmetal chain, the three creamy bullets of Rough Louboutin (in satin, matte, and sheer finishes) are gorgeous anywhere you put them…”

That didn’t really clear it up, did it? Okay. Here I go risking copyright violation for you.

louboutinnecklace

So, uh…thoughts?

*crickets*

No one’s going to chime in? You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you? *sigh* Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll say what we’re all thinking. They look like butt plugs. Sorry, but there’s no escaping it. Louboutin metal butt plug necklace. Let everyone know your kink. You know, in a classy way. Only $270 to make your coworkers never look at you the same way again.

4. Amazon Echo

I had to look this on up separately because the description went on and on about Siri and how the Echo is not that. It’s an oil filter-looking thing that does everything your smartphone does…except make calls. Or take pictures. Or video. And it’s not supposed to be very portable, more like sit on your desk next to your scented paperweight collection.

Oh, wait! Duh. I just thought of an actual use for the Echo! Unless you want her papers to smell like one of four designer eaus?

You do?

Then I don’t know. Pay $179.99 for Echo and see if she can find a use for it. And if she can’t, oh well. She’s already got everything anyway. What the hell is she bitching about? Honestly, what a twat.

5. Shu Uemura X Maison Kitsune Curious Eye-Catching Premium Make-up Box

No, I didn’t stroke out there. That’s the name of it. About the only clear part of the description is the “curious” bit. It’s a white make-up case that has little dresses, croissants, coffee cups, tea pots, nun habits (? I think?) and pretzels in circles which I think are supposed to be crowns on it. Like dotted all over. Like the girl you’re shopping for is five.

And maybe she is? I mean, clearly an e-rag that calls itself “Allure” is catering to the sub-kindergarten crowd. Gotta get those little girls into make-up and perfume early, you know. And at the bargain basement price of only $400, the little girl in your life that has everything can feel free to decorate the outside of this case all she wants!

…no, really. She should. Maybe give her a set of markers, too.

6. Underclub Subscription

“Bethie, what’s Underclub?”

I’m so very, very glad you asked. It’s a subscription underwear service.

I’m serious. You sign up for $228/year and the company will send the gift recipient monthly panties. Lace thongs are the ones pictured in the ad, but I’m sure you could find all kinds.

The description says, “Giving underwear as a gift can be a little awkward.”

THEN DON’T DO IT. Honestly, NO one wants you to get them a panty subscription. It’s just not a thing any girl or woman wants. They don’t want panties as a gift from their family, they don’t want their best girl friend to buy them skivvies… Hell, guys, let me enlighten you on your lady wanting to get some lacy unders from you… SHE DOESN’T. If you ever, EVER considered getting a woman underwear as a gift, it’s because YOU are the one that wants to know she is wearing them.

Pick literally ANYTHING else. Anything in the world. Go to a corner gas station, close your eyes, spin around, and take the first thing your hand lands on. I guarantee that will be a far better gift than undies.

7. Acqua Di Parma Benzoino Candle

It’s a $172 candle in a striped glass that looks like Mr. Benzoino picked up in bulk from the local dollar store. But it’s “spicy-green” scented and “almost too precious to light,” so, you know, totally worth $172. Better stock up before they’re sold out.

8. Artis Elite Mirror White Velvet Brush Set

It’s a set of silver and white velvet make-up brushes. The blurb says, “These tools, with the bristles perpendicular to the handle, get fingers, hands, and handles out of the way…” I’ll admit, I’m not too clear on how you use them. Or why they’re white velvet if you’re supposed to use them for makeup application. Or why you need to buy the brushes for $160, and then also by the $180 stand.

But I’m not a make-up person, so what do I know about common sense?

On the plus, they’re “100% cruelty free.” It’s about time a major cosmetics company takes a stand against forcing mice and rabbits to try and use non-perpendicular eye shadow brushes. Their paws are so little. It’s just mean.

9. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Kiss&Love Edition

I guess we needed one more designer WTF.

Hey, I just thought of something. We can turn this into a game! Okay, so I just told you the product name. You get three tries to guess what the hell it is! Fun! Go for it.

“…I can’t even. I literally have no damn clue.”

…fair enough. It’s concealer. More make-up. Though I guarantee that if you tell someone their face is jacked as shit and needs serious concealing, this make-up will NOT be 100% cruelty free.

You’ve been warned. Spend $42 to crush your friends’ soul at your own peril.

10. Sage&Rowe Shave Club

Another subscription service, this one for shaving supplies. I suppose you can’t get your best buddy fancy thongs if she’s going to be all Sasquatchy down there. And really, is another $31/month really too much to pay to give your hairy friend with the jacked up face and butt plug fetish a little confidence boost?

11. Avion Reserva 44 With Custom Etching

Oh yeah. Now we’re talking! You might not be able to tell from the bourgeois name, but this is actually just really top shelf tequila. It’s $170/bottle top shelf-y, but come on. Your friend is clearly a hot mess and could use a night away from herself.

…unless this article really IS trying to give you gift suggestions for a girl and not a woman. In which case, no. Do not. That’s child abuse.

12. Amika Movos Wireless Styler

Phew, another beauty product! I was worried with the tequila suggestion that this article was losing sight of the overall message. Glad to see we’re back on track with a gift to make the girl spend hours every day desperately chasing an impossible ideal.

It’s a wireless hair styler. They call it a “snazzy flat iron”. I don’t know if I’d have gone with “snazzy” there. “Snazzy” makes me think of something fun. Flat irons are not fun. Especially not $150 ones. I suppose if you’ve exhausted all other possibilities, this wouldn’t be the worst suggestion on the list.

I mean, you’re reading Allure for gift ideas. I think it’s safe to say you’re desperate.

Look, brah, I’ll make it easy for you. If you’re trying to choose between unreasonably hyped-up flat irons or smelly desk rocks, I suppose you should go for the flat iron. Maybe she could use it for crafts or something.

13. Rebecca Minkoff Lightning Cable Bracelet

It’s a gold plated bracelet that’s secretly a USB plug and charger. I’m going to give them this one. It’s actually pretty damn cool. Ugly, but their heart was at least in the right place. It’s only $58. While that seems like a lot, let’s put it into the context of this article. A smelly rock costs nearly three times as much to just sit on a desk and collect dust. At least this is useful.

14. Clarisonic Keith Haring Collection

So you got your buddy the concealer and the make-up brushes to hide her hag face, but all that beauty plaster has to come off at some point. You could get her a jackhammer, but those tend to be a little unwieldy. She already takes up the counter space in her bathroom with all the products it takes to hide her hideousness, and her boyfriend’s getting a bit annoyed. Get her this electric scrubber instead! With all the power of a commercial floor stripping machine in tiny, hand held form, it’s the perfect tool for facial excavation. If you’re not sold yet, wait until you see the confusing 90’s retro hammer pant print designs. You won’t be able to get the $149 out of your wallet fast enough.

15. Soulcycle Shoes

Say, remember how ugly and hairy your friend is? Did you ever stop and realize how FAT she is, too? Maybe what she needs is to work out. I know! She can take a “spin class.”

In that case, your friend is definitely going to need these “spin” specific shoes. The company, SoulCycle “has finally launched Soul-branded spin shoes.” It’s happened! I can stop holding my breath!

The description is not clear what will happen if you try to use them when you’re NOT on a “spin” bike. I’m kind of getting an undertone of Cinderella at midnight, but that could just be me reading between the lines. I didn’t want you to go into this gift before you knew it was a definite possibility, so, you know. Be careful. $150 to keep your best girl pal in a constant state of self-loathing.

16. By Terry Baume De Rose Trip Deluxe

$339 lip balm. Not even lipstick that looks pretty. Just balm. It’s got “ceramides” in it. Oooh. And rose-flower essential wax. Ahhhh. And shea butter, because they ran out of exotic sounding shit to cram in there. That’s…nice.

Hey, don’t judge them. They had to think of THREE things. It’s not like you’re buying just one. There are limited things in this world you can put in lip balm. Are they supposed to magically know ALL of them?? What do you want from them, HUH? Blood?

“…do you think that’s what ceramides are?”

Hm. Now there’s something to ponder, eh?

17. Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb Fireworks Limited Edition Bottle

“You can never go wrong giving Flowerbomb as a gift.” Boy, if I had a dime for every time I’ve said that! Amiright?

“Laced with jasmine, orchid, and patchouli…” Sounds…uh…hm. I mean, I suppose it could… Well, everyone perceives smell differently, and… Uh. Some people enjoy smelling like a dorm room?

*sigh* Look, I’mma cut to the chase. It’s a pretty bottle. Just pay the $120 and buy the pretty bottle so the stinky desk rock can have some dust-collecting company, okay? Gawd. Why you gotta make this so complicated? Shit.

18. Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer

This is perhaps the one and only decent idea in the entire list aside from the USB bracelet. It’s a mini printer you hook up to your smartphone (no, sorry, not the Echo…your buddy can cross yet another thing off the Potential Uses for an Echo list) that will print your photos. Simple. Easy. Like a Polaroid. It’s $179, which is steep, but it’s the only thing on the list that won’t make her hate herself. Or you.

But what do I know? Maybe you read this list and thought, “Gee, I’ve always thought Marge’s nethers must be bushy and ill clad, and now I have the perfect gift idea!” Maybe Allure really does have a demographic, one that lives in an alternate dimension I just can’t comprehend? Maybe I’m just the odd duck in the gift-giving world and these ideas are actually pretty sweet?

If that’s the case, I’m going to apologize right now to my friends and family. If you were hoping for lip balm made from the creamed blood of your enemies, you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope that Santa pulls through. I’m just planning on making you cookies and fudge like the boring, unimaginative dope I am.

Sorry.

Thus concludes a snarktastic Musing for Saturday, December 5, 2015. I’m off to try hard not to think of how many people are actually going to buy their loved ones underwear subscriptions this year… I suggest you do the same.

Thanksgiving in an alternate universe is pretty rad…

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Mornin’ all.

I see I’ve got a few early risers today! Getting those birds in the oven, are we? Well, help yourself to the coffee. It’s not good. In fact, it’s fairly terrible. But it’s free and it gets the job done. You need a kick in the ass, and this will most definitely flip your turbo switch. Chew a stick of chalk after you swallow. I find it helps with the burn.

“I think I’ll pass, Bethie.”

Really? Don’t you have a Thanksgiving meal to prepare? Hm? One that’s going to be eaten by your in-laws, your self-righteous cousin, and the older sibling you’ll never quite live up to?

“… … … GIMME ALL THE COFFEES!!!”

That’s the spirit! Just make the stuffing soft. You really aren’t going to want to bite down after that java strips all your tooth enamel. Trust me.

So it’s Thanksgiving! I’ve waxed eloquent on the T-days of my childhood in previous blogs. If you don’t know that my grandfather was an accomplice in piscecide, you really should go into my backlogs and check it out. Don’t worry, the statute of limitations had long run out before I told the tale. I’m no stoolie.

If you go back and look, or if you’ve got a decent memory, you know that my childhood Thanksgivings were damn near the lyrics to the song “Over the River and Through the Woods”…er, only with a mini van instead of the sleigh. You know the song. Your second grade music teacher used to make you sing it over and over and over in the month leading up to Thanksgiving.

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go,

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifting snow—Oh!

….Over the river and through the woods trot fast my dapple gray,

Spring over the ground like a hunting hound for this is Thanksgiving Day!

That’s the abbreviated club remix. Sorry about the extra bass. Skrillex needed somewhere to spin this holiday and I felt bad for the little guy, ya know? Go get some pie, Skrillex. And please try not to spin it this time, k?

Sorry, folks. He’s a little more of a handful than I imagined.

*smooshy smooshy bwaaaahhhh splatsplatsplat gwaaaaahhh boop splosh*

SKRILLEX! NO! Eat the pie. EAT it!

*hangs head* *shuffles away*

Yikes.

ANYWAY, that song is old fashioned, yet when you hear it (extra bass and all) you get an image, a feeling. It’s special. It’s excitement. It’s a crystal wine glass that you absolutely mustn’t touch, young lady! It’s a holiday, a real, true holiday. THAT was a Thanksgiving when I was a child.

Now?

Look, families have peaks and dips, ebbs and flows with generations. One generation is little enough to want to hide under the snacks table with their cousins and try to snitch extra treats, while the older generation wants to commiserate about having said snacknappers, and the grandpas and great-aunts happily munch cheese in the corner easy chairs.

But then something happens. Time moves on. Soon the little imps are no longer under the table. They are big enough and old enough to start wanting to branch out, to go other places, to start being adults themselves. Some of the adults move, either physically or temporally, and one day, you find that there’s too much uneaten cheese, and empty chairs at a once full table.

I’m not trying to be a downer. Life just happens. Right now the little kids are no longer little, the adults have shuffled off or simply away, and we’ll have to mark time until the elder teens become adults themselves and start providing a new batch of snack-stealing cuties.

A LONG TIME FROM NOW, TEENAGERS. AFTER YOU’RE DONE SCHOOL AND HAVE JOBS AND HOUSES AND MET YOUR PERSONAL GOALS FIRST!! I DON’T REGRET YOU FOR ONE SECOND, BUT I WANT BETTER FOR ALL OF YOU!!!

*achem* Sorry. Just had to make that clear in case any of them are reading this. Babies shouldn’t start happening for awhile yet.

So we’re not doing a bird today.

“*collective gasp from the internet*”

Oh shit. Now Skrillex is looking even more lost and sad. We’re having food, Skrillex. Just not turkey, okay? We’re doing our turkey on Sunday.

“But Bethie, that’s not Thanksgiving!”

…why not? The date is arbitrary anyway. And before you pick up your muskets and torches, it IS arbitrary. The Pilgrims did not dine in celebration with the Native Americans on November 26. Scholars believe the event that truly inspired the holiday happened perhaps as early in the year as July, and certainly not in 1620, as all the place cards we had to make in first grade led us to believe.

They also didn’t have much in the way of turkeys, certainly didn’t wear belt buckle hats, and definitely didn’t wear all black.

But just because we fudged the details doesn’t mean the spirit of the holiday isn’t legit. We should be thankful. We live in a country that might be far from perfect, but it’s certainly also far from the pits. We’ve got food available, clean water, mostly fresh air. There’s still a strong sense of community, even when those bonds are tested, and a genuine desire to find our way back to the top. We’ve got mountains and valleys, prairies and canyons, TWO oceans and so many rivers it’s impossible to see them all. Even if you feel that you’ve got nothing, if you live in this country, you’ve already got a whole lot.

When you look at it like that, does it matter if we sacrifice a turkey on Sunday instead of Thursday? No. No it does not.

Because we’re a blended family, I always let the Others schedule the teens and then do our bird later when the chickadees return to the roost. It makes it much easier than stomping my foot and having a temper tantrum that puts the kiddies in the middle. And it SUCKS to have to have one dinner here, then waste a perfectly good turkey coma by having to rush back to the other family’s house to try and cram in MORE turkey and stuffing. It makes the holiday stressful for a kid to be treated like an overfed yo-yo. Let them go eat other birds today, and then let them have their turkey comas in peace. It’s their right as Americans to eat one enormous meal and pass out on the couch to the sound of their grandfather arguing about the football game with their loud uncle.

Today, it’s just the youngest pup, the guy, and myself at home. Oh, yeah, and Skrillex. We’re going to have Thanksgiving pizza.

*Skrillex perks up*

Get that look off your face right now, young man! YOU CAN’T SPIN THAT EITHER! Geez. Every round thing and he’s just GOT to give it a whirl… *exasperated sigh* Where was I?

Pizza. While not traditionally a Thanksgiving meal, I’ve got to think that if it had been available to them back in the 1600’s, the Native Americans would have just called out for pizza when the Pilgrims were hungry and starving. Would you really want to cook for all those people while you were trying to ready your village for winter? Hm?

The Native American husband would have come home, slung a handful of rabbits on the table. His wife would have said, “Better get cleaned up. We’ve got that dinner with the Smyths.” The husband would have groaned and tried to wheedle out of it. “You said you wanted to be good neighbors,” she’d remind him in that universal tone all wives through history have used. “Fine!” he’d say. “I’ll get cleaned up.” She’d nod, never doubting that he’d get in line, and then remind him that they had to bring the food, too. He’d groan and roll his eyes, then say, “I’ve been out hunting all day, and you’ve been gathering corn and weaving. How about we swing by Little Caesars?” She’d pull a face. “We can’t bring that cheap shit to dinner!” He’d slowly grin. “Why not? They’re Pilgrims, dear. Have you SEEN what they call food? They’re not going to know the difference.” She’d hem and haw, but in the end, they’d have shown up at the first Thanksgiving with ten Hot n’ Ready pizzas.

And the Pilgrims would have rejoiced and given many thanks, for even a Hot n’ Ready piece of shit pizza would have been better than boiled acorn mash.

The day of the week doesn’t matter. The meal doesn’t matter. Today, I’m celebrating the Thanksgiving that could have been, and might possibly be in another universe. On Sunday when I have my teens back home, we’ll celebrate the Thanksgiving that never actually was, at least not on our world. And every single day I’ll be thankful for being where I am, for who I’m with, and for what I have.

*Skrillex drops a poignant beat*

Exactly, man. Exactly.

Thus concludes a quick T-day or P-day, if you’re of the mind, Musing for Thursday, November 26, 2015. Everyone, have a fantastic day today, no matter what you eat or who you eat it with! I’m off to start the pizza dough. Come on, Skrillex. You can finally put those mad spinning skills to work. I’ll mix the dough, and you knead it for me. “Like remixing?” …sure, buddy. Just like that. *rolly eyes*

Any more additions to the injured roster and we’ll have to forfeit the game…

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Mornin’ all.

I’m just going to warn you right off the bat to stay away from the coffee today. Have some tea. Or water. We’ve got some of the cleanest, purest water in the state. Fresh ice in the freezer. Help yourself.

“So you invite me over for coffee and a chat, and won’t share your coffee?”

You misunderstand.

See the coffee pot? See the melting handle? If you listen closely, you’ll hear the quiet gloop of the glass morphing from a solid to a liquid state under the corrosive properties of the contents within.

It’s been a week, my friends. A long, long week. And it’s not even over yet.

To get through, I stood there this morning and just kept adding scoops of cheap coffee to the machine until my brain began to quake in fearful anticipation. My previous limit was five, and that’s enough to make your stomach pack up and leave in protest.

You know the “big red button?” Turns out, six scoops does exactly the same thing as smacking that button.

As soon as the first drop of devil’s brew blopped out of the machine, a dry, lonely wind began to blow and a tumbleweed rolled across the scuffed wood floor. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to make it to the end of the pot and find a scorpion or worm preserved at the bottom.

I’m not bogarting the coffee all for myself because I don’t want to share. I’m saving you from my fate. #IGYB

Last week at work, one of the teens pulled an abdominal muscle. Because he is

a) male, and

b) teenaged,

he is a teenage male. Anyone who has one of these knows that when they get injured, they will instantly try and prove how unaffected they are by said injury.

Why? Why you gotta do this, guys? Just take the ibuprofen and use the heat pack and lay still for a few damn days. It’s not being a baby to take care of yourself! Gah.

Then my man got the first flu-like illness of the season. He was feeling very crummy, but at least he’s old enough to just take the ibuprofen and use the heat pack and lay still for a few damn days.

Not to be outdone by father or brother, the youngest decided his bones were all way too pristine. First trip to the ER for that one. Frankly, I’m surprised it took so long. If any of my kids can be considered “extreme,” it’s that one. He mushed an arm bone.

That’s how they explained it. It’s a type of fracture that happens when the bone bends too much but doesn’t actually snap. The x-ray looked like someone had just pushed on the side of the bone with something flat, like a ruler. It’s just…mushed.

Gawd that kid is tough. Almost no crying. In fact, the triage nurse and doc in the ER at first thought he was kind of faking. The doc came back with the x-ray results and said, “Well, this is surprising.”

He just doesn’t cry. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t in a ton of pain. I could see the signs. He gets fidgetty. His answers get short and he holds his breath. And he was shaking like a leaf for hours. He just does not cry.

Not in front of other people, anyway.

They give you a temporary cast in the ER now. When I was a kid, a friend of mine and I decided that THE thing to do was play full contact basketball. On a lawn. Yeah, that ended pretty much how you’d expect.

When I got to the ER, they gave me a full cast right there. After a few days, the swelling went down and my ankle could wiggle around in there so much that I think the only thing the cast really did was collect the coins my older sister decided to stick down it to piss me off. And a knitting needle, a broken plastic fork, and car from the Game of Life.

…don’t ask.

My kiddo got a temporary cast in the ER, then went back a couple days later to get his hard cast. He got a bright red one and can’t wait to show it off at school today.

The cast person asked if he was going to let friends sign it. He thought for a minute, then said, “I don’t know. I have some pretty inappropriate friends. I don’t think I want to wear what they’re going to write.”

Smart boy. I hobbled around with more than one Sharpied “fart” on my cast for six weeks.

Because I don’t need anyone else getting sick or injured, I put gas masks and hazmat suits on the other two, then wrapped them in bubble wrap. There were some muffled noises. Maybe protests. Who knows? Couldn’t really hear them through the masks and wrap. Eh, they’ll be fine. I will MAKE them be fine.

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. Agree with the conflicts and wars or not, we live in a world that requires soldiers. Some other asshole is ALWAYS going to be waving a pointed stick at us, and I, for one, am very thankful for the women and men who willingly put aside their lives to protect and defend our nation. I may be an anti-conflict hippie at heart, but I most definitely love and respect the military. As much as we might want Utopia, we don’t have it. The military keeps us safe when morons try to prove it.

Being Veteran’s Day, there were many posts on Facebook thanking vets. Paying homage. Poems in tribute and all that. Some were well intentioned but eye-rolling in their insincerity. Some were very moving. Some were powerful. I’m guessing all were appreciated by the veterans.

However, I noticed a trend I hadn’t seen before.

People started posting Veteran’s Day posts in honor of military service animals.

Like, “Thank you to the women and men who risked your lives for us, but who I’d REALLY like to remember today is a fucking dog. He sniffed soldier asses and licked his balls with courage. And let’s not even talk about the way he chased that tennis ball in the line of service. I mean, it was an Iraqi tennis ball. Now THAT’S bravery.”

Let’s just forget for a minute that there are zero military service animals looking at Facebook to read your thanks in the first place. Let’s not even bother to address what kind of mental state it takes for a person to post a thank you to a god dammed horse on Facebook. We’ll just accept that in someone’s warped mind, animals have FB accounts and are touched to read messages from average citizens about their service. I’ll sadly stipulate to these facts even though everything inside is now weeping for the world.

All that aside…

Really? We’re really going to dilute the importance of Veteran’s Day by thanking animals? It’s not enough that we keep cutting spending on after care for our vets? Or don’t pay them jack shit? Or rally against them when we disagree with a conflict the government has joined? We’re now going to degrade them further by taking the one day half of America remember soldiers exist and using it to thank dogs and ponies?

I understand that animals play a role in our military. I understand that those animals are loved and respected by the units that utilize them. But it’s not really the same thing, is it?

A pup is born. The breeder says, “Say, now, that’s a swell pup. Let’s give him to the military to train.” The military trains the dog to hone its skills. Maybe it’s a good sniffer and can help find mines. Maybe it’s better at detecting bombs. It could just have a cutesy-wootsey face and be a really good morale booster for the soldiers. Whatever the skills, the dog is just that. A dog. The dog made no choice to be in the military. The dog did not enlist. There was no thought whatsoever given by the animal to the potential consequences of being a military service critter. The pup didn’t worry about the family left behind, or what would happen to the rest of his litter if he died in duty. It just did what it was told to do in order to get a treat and a belly rub.

I’m not saying that the animals of the military shouldn’t be thought of or respected. In fact, when you think about it, what kind of assholes are we to make all those choices and rope OTHER DAMN SPECIES into OUR stupid fighting in the first place!? Why aren’t there robots to replace them yet? We have the technology. Make it happen!

What I AM saying is that Veteran’s Day should be for the humans who knowingly and willingly chose to make such sacrifices. Who could fully understand the scope and magnitude of their choices and still join the line to protect hippies like myself. Who somehow get okay with the idea of dying as long as they can do it FOR US.

It strikes me as such a slap in the face to say to a veteran “Thanks,” and use your very next breath to say, “But let’s not forget to also thank the brave carrier pigeons because their sacrifice was just as meaningful.”

It wasn’t, folks. It just wasn’t.

Thus concludes a quick Musing for Thursday, November 12, 2015. I didn’t make that up, you know. Someone actually posted a Veteran’s Day thank you to carrier pigeons. I…I just…*sigh*

I wonder if cats are still assholes in a parallel universe?

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Mornin’ all.

My cat’s a dick.

This is Saturday morning. With the guy’s new schedule, it’s the one morning all week that allows me to delay contributing to the kinetic energy field of my household. Kitty knows this.

“Uh, Bethie? That sounds a little…”

KITTY KNOWS THIS.

If you have a cat, you understand. If you do not have a cat, this is probably one of the reasons why. Kitty knows. She knows when I’m trying to sleep. She knows when I just want to be left alone for five more minutes. Cats can sense it. They can feel your calm and tranquility and it pricks at their little feline psyches until they MUST do something about it immediately.

So there I was, snoring peacefully like a buzzsaw, and what did the furred she-devil do? She stood by the head of the bed and meowed.

“Awww! Kitty meows are so cute!”

A kitten meowing when it’s got extra milk on it’s squiffy wiffy face is cute. A cat that slips into a fish tank and looks to you and meows one sad, yet singularly perfect response to its current situation is cute. A furry friend that sees you get your video camera out and meows in a way that sounds sort of like “I love you” is…well, that’s not really cute, is it? That’s creepy as shit.

But it’s still better than what my cat did this morning!

She said, “Mau. Mau. Mau. Mau. Mau. Mau…”

When I woke enough to mumble, “Shhfuckoff,” she turned up the volume.

“MAU. MAU. MAU. MAU. MAU…”

It was so persistent and annoying that I almost automatically hit the snooze button.

” * GASP!! * ”

Calm down. I said “almost.” The furry beast from hell remains unscathed.

I was looking through the news. Big Mars news this week, though it kind of passed under the radar. NASA sent a probe to study what remains of Mars’ atmosphere to see if it was possible to determine how a once vibrant planet became a desolate rock. As it turns out, solar winds blew the atmosphere away. Things shifted, our young star flared, Mars was in the way and paid the price.

RIP Mars. *dumps a bit of coffee out for the fallen*

“But why…”

Shh. Moment of silence, man.

*hangs head* *kisses fingers* *flashes V to the sky*

Now, what were you saying?

“I was asking why it’s big news.”

It’s big news because it proves several important theories on everything from the extent of the importance of our star, to how our solar system was formed into the kooky bitch we know and love today, to how a planet dies in relation to how it lived before…

Trust me, this is actually quite big stuff. This is the type of data dump that sparks an instant intellectual orgy among scientists.

“Then how come I didn’t hear about it?”

Because media.

NASA held a press conference. They just don’t know how to drop info in a way that gets the average Joe jazzed. They put out a notice that they had some big, big news. And then they held a press conference about Martian climate change and I think the majority of the reporters fell asleep. They wrote small, boring little articles, which most people seemed to scan for the words “alien life” before moving on when they didn’t see that the rover found a Martian baby rattle or some shit like that.

What a bummer.

I wish folks would get excited about this stuff. It *IS* exciting. Okay, perhaps it’s not thrilling in the actual findings themselves. It’s a whole lotta numbers and those suck. What’s truly exciting, and what NASA should have focused on and the media should have made even the slightest effort to convey to the public, is the potential we now have because of this information.

Look, we actually know diddly squat about the universe. Oh, we’re okay at knowing things about our own rock. Not great, mind you. Just okay. Outside our one, tiny little sphere, we don’t really “know” anything. We can observe through a lens and make theories based around those observations. But “thinking” and “knowing” are two different things. Thinking leads to more thinking. KNOWING leads to more DOING.

Every bit of info we gain from our time spent zipping the most expensive RC car and remote controlled drones ever built around a “dead” rock is precious. Each bit of info opens scientific doors that we can’t even begin to comprehend in the moment. And we just got a billion bits of new info. New proof. New knowledge.

The more we know, the further we can go.

The other huge space news that no one cared about was a light.

Now, this is another theory based on an observation. It’s only a theory. But it’s a pretty cool one.

On the edge of the observable universe, there is a light. It is not coming from within the universe. It appears to be seeping in FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE.

“Uh, Bethie? Is the use of capital letters there really necessary?”

HELL YEAH.

Think about it, man. This might just prove the multi-verse theory.

“Multi-verse theory? Shit Bethie. This is getting awful deep.”

I accidentally made the paint stripper I call coffee extra strong this morning. I wasn’t paying attention and scooped too much into the basket and thought, “Well, let’s see where this leads…” Here. That led us here. Have some. Inject some caffeinated molecules into your lethargic body and catch up.

So where was I?

In the old big bang thinking, there was a sea of nothing. That nothing got bored and pulled in on itself and created enough somethings to explode. Those exploded things created our universe and keep traveling out from that single point of origin into…a sea of nothing. You with me?

“*slurp* Yep.”

Well, that theory doesn’t make much sense, does it? How can something be made from nothing? Enter the multi-verse theory. Many universes exist. And perhaps one of them had a dense pocket of matter that got out of control. Maybe a black hole, a giant, epic black hole. Maybe even a worm hole. Whatever caused it, there was such a build up of matter in one tiny spot that it HAD to explode, to bang, to create our universe.

Now, there are those who would say that simply means we’re part of another universe, that we’re a neighborhood in an existing city, that it means that our term for “universe” is simply the problem, that we still really are just one singular universe.

Maybe it’s a terminology problem. Until now, there really wasn’t anything that made it necessary to really explore that. There was no proof either way that there was anything outside our observable universe, so redefining terms and taking a hard look at multi-verses was not necessary.

The light is there. It is real. It can be seen and it either came from us and bounced back off shit we didn’t have any idea existed, or it came FROM that unknown shit itself. Either theory is equally exciting. There is more outside of our “everything” than we thought. Is that part of us? Is that something different? Is this an issue of our universe being so much grander than we thought? Or are we a separate entity among other entities in a vastness we can’t begin to comprehend?

One little light is going to lead to so much.

How cool is that?

Thus concludes and exercise in way too much coffee way too early for Saturday, November 7, 2015. I see by your convulsions that you took me up on the offer to share my java. Please tell me you didn’t drink the entire mug?! …oh…oh shit. Uh, you might want to get to a soft, safe place and lie down. If you aren’t used to it, the aftershocks can be hell. Lie down with a damp towel over your eyes and think happy thoughts. It’ll pass.

Do you think the junkyard will let me play Taps when they crush it?

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1 Effective Way to Say Hello

Mornin’ all.

I was just trying to look through the news, and it hit me that even mainstream, “serious” news sites are now clickbaiting with numbers.

10 Times the IS was More Terrifying Than Hitler

14 Ways Hillary’s Policy Changes Could Affect Everyday Life

5 Reasons You Need to Pay Attention to the Refugee Crisis

Gah. Is this really what we’re becoming?

…and is it a bad thing?

3 Important Points to Ponder While You Drink Your Coffee

1) Humans are lazy. We are extraordinarily lazy. In the animal world, we take the cake. It’s this laziness that makes us evolve. There is a constant push, our only true innate drive, to be creative and think outside the box for the sole purpose of coming up with new solutions to get our asses out of as much work as possible.

The sharpened stick was invented because killing dinner with a dull thud of an unsharpened stick was slower than killing it with a pointy stabby stab.

The wheel was invented because Caveman Ugh was sick of busting his caveballs trying to tug and pull and lug that stabbed dinner back to the cave.

Horses were tamed to do all sorts of neat things that allowed our ancestors to sit back and let someone else do the work.

…and on and on and on. Every invention we’ve come up with has been designed with one purpose: Make life for humanity easier.

Is it any wonder, then, that the news would eventually be presented in bullet point format? It’s quick, it’s efficient, and it speaks to the deep laziness in all of us.

2) News sites are lazy. Dude, it is SO much easier to make a list than it is to sit down and write a coherent article. Plus, in a bullet point style presentation, things like grammar and syntax are apparently unnecessary.

3) Reading a condensed list makes you feel smarter faster. I don’t know if the PuffHo really put much thought into this trend it widely started. I’m sure bullet pointing the news started out as a way to save space and time. I highly doubt they ever really put much thought into the psychology. However, they stumbled on a real way to make people feel more confident and sure of not only the facts of a situation, but their overall retention of knowledge afterwards.

It’s an unintentionally brilliant way to make people keep going back to their website, I’ll give them that. I’d much rather keep reading news on a site that makes me walk away feeling like I learned something, even if I didn’t really learn a damned thing.

Which leads me to…

3 Ways Bullet Point Reporting is Ruining the News

1) Bullet point news would work well if the information presented was accurate…

2)…and well written. There is no need to forgo grammar, spelling, and proper framing of a coherent thought simply because there is a number in front of the sentence. Gah. This is dumbing us down. This aspect of this style of clickbait reporting is making the average person feel smarter by making them dumber. And it’s all because…

3) HUMANS ARE LAZY. Modern reporters are lazy. Modern editors are lazy. And all this laziness sucks because people have been programmed by clickbait “journalism” to expect yet another fun filled list of anti-facts NOW NOW NOW. It’s too much work to be fast, efficient, AND accurate. Jeez. What do you want from reporters? It’s almost as if you expect accurate, reliable, dependable summations of important events that could have an impact on the world around you. Pipe dream much?

I think it’s going to stay around for awhile, so I suppose we best get used to it. Life swings on a pendulum, though. There will come a time in the not-so-distant-future when post modern hipsters will find the old style of reporting the news through well-researched, carefully crafted essays just the bees knees. It’s a cycle. We just have to wait until the pendulum swings the other way.

Until then, I suppose we must embrace it. Here goes.

1 Thing That Epically Sucked in the House of Bethie This Week

Muh car died.

The first one that I really lead the resurrection team to bring back to life. *sniff*

Here’s the sad tale of woe. The Mr. took Soppy to work.

(Er, that was the car. We named her the Sopwith Llama. A Sopwith Camel was an old timey fighter plane before new fangled fighter jets flew onto the scene. But, the kids like llamas, soooo…)

He called me from his business of employ to tell me that “Sop’s acting weird.” We hoped it was a momentary lapse in functionality, or that she was just feeling annoyed.

“Uh, Bethie. I hate to interrupt…”

Liar.

“…but, it’s just a car. It can’t feel anything.”

Yes. Yes it can. And anyone out there who doesn’t think that cars have moods, including temper tantrums and hissy fits, simply hasn’t been paying attention to their car. Shame on you. Go out and sit in your car and apologize for ignoring it all this time before it proves me right. It helps if you rub the dashboard, but don’t take it too far. Don’t make it weird, bro.

Anyway, my guy came home late. That was probably the only reason he made it home at all. There was a distinct lack of traffic and, for the most part, he had one clear last run with Soppy. Before he left work, he checked the fluids and the oil. Everything looked good under the hood. Proper fluid and oil levels. So he wished on a star and headed home.

He got within a couple miles of our house and “running rough” turned into her dumping all her coolant into the oil and seizing just as she pulled into our drive.

As far as close calls go, it doesn’t get any closer than that.

Soppy didn’t go quietly. The tail lights were upgraded LEDs that were insanely bright, a modification we did because it was a black car that was driven largely at night, and the Mr. was sick of drunk rednecks riding his bumper. She also began to belch huge plumes of thick, white smoke of doom. The bright taillights caught in the billowing clouds like Soppy was spewing forth the fires of hell itself. The Mr. told me that when he looked in his rear view, all he could see was a fiery wall of clouds.

Man I wish I was there to see it!

What we had was catastrophic parts failure. The head gasket went all at once. At that point, there was no saving her.

Oh, I know we could have (and still technically could) take her to a shop and have them completely go through it cleaning out the cappuccino colored oil/coolant from the engine block, retool the head, and replace all the gaskets. Or, we could buy a crate engine to drop in. However, it’s not worth it. I love that car, but there comes a point when the cost exceeds the value.

She’s done for. And today I must strip the parts to sell. I must rob the grave of my beloved beastie. As difficult as it is, I know it’s for the best. Through organ donation, Soppy can live on.

*hats off in a moment of silence for the brave and noble sacrifice of my Sopwith Llama*

*clears throat* *wipes tear*

Yes. Well. Moving on.

We picked up a cheapie from craigslist yesterday. Boy, I don’t know what folks did before craigslist when their cars shit the bed. The Mr. got his automotive shake-up at about ten on Thursday night. By eight Friday morning, I had already made arrangements to go see a $500 hoopdie that’ll get us through until we can really find a good replacement.

It’s a VW wagon. It needs stuff. It comes with most of the stuff it needs. The guy selling it was in the middle of repairs when a buddy offered him a Jeep that he really wanted. Nice guy…he threw in all the parts, including a new hood, for free. The engine has high miles but sounds so quiet that my guy kept thinking he stalled it…always a good sign.

Today, my tinkering cohort (our youngest) is going to help me strip parts from Sop, then pep a few things up on the newbie. I think the hubby is leaning toward the name Hobbes for the VW. Why Hobbes? We had a $400 Neon once that lasted us THREE YEARS that we named Calvin, and after the 45 minute drive home yesterday, he got out and said, “Boy does that remind me of Calvin!”

Of course, you can’t call two cars the same thing. And if you do “the second” or “junior”, the auto is instantly insulted. Rightfully so!

The only thing that’s giving him pause about the new moniker is that he feels the VW is female. I asked him why he must saddle the name “Hobbes” with gender constraints. He gave me a *blink**blink*. Heh. I love it when he has no response.

Sop gets dissected today, and Maybe-Hobbes gets spruced up. It seems a bit sadistic to fancify Hobbes next to Soppy’s corpse, but really, what can I do? I have to get one ready for the scrapper and one ready for the road.

It’s the circle of life, friends.

Hukuna machina.

Thus concludes the Musing for Saturday, October 17, 2015. Holy shit. I babbled so much about other things that I never actually got to talk about what I started writing to talk about in the first place. Damn bullet pointing getting me off track. Eh, it’s probably for the best. It was a fairly controversial point of view that would most definitely NOT win me friends or influence people. It would have been fun, though. Hm. Guess I’ll save it for another day…

Is a stolen quince still fancy, or can I eat it with my pinkie down?

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Mornin’ all.

Kitty did something new this morning. Normally if she wants me to get up, she bursts into my room like a furry dust devil, dons lead boots, and pounces on my chest. While I struggle and gasp, trying to get both my breath and my bearings, she whips off the lead boots and becomes my tiny cat again before rushing to give nose bumps and purrs as if nothing nefarious just happened.

That’s not the best way to wake up, but at least I get nose bumps. And I’ve grown accustom. It’s pretty much the status quo.

This morning, though, she bucked the system. Instead of jumping on my chest with her leaden Feet ‘O Doom, she got on my chest without me even noticing. She must have just tiptoed up on me, because I never even noticed that.

No, it was the repeated soft paw slapping across the face that woke me up.

*Bap*. *Bapbap*… …*BAPBAPBAPBAPBAPBAP*

Still got the nose bumps and purrs, but damn was that disorienting. I wasn’t sure if I was waking up in my own bed or if shit went down in the night and someone was trying to bring me ’round to rally and lead my people to victory.

I suppose if that were the case, it probably wouldn’t have been a cat waking me, huh? Or, at least, I hope not. If shit gets so desperate that a CAT has to be waking me up, I’m fairly certain all hope already jumped ship.

Right now, Kitty’s currently sitting on the back of my chair, purring, yet flicking me in the face with her tail. I guess it’s just going to be one of those kitty days. Lemme just go move all the breakables to lower shelves.

Who am I kidding? I’ve got 3 teenagers and a 9 year old I’m convinced is part firecracker. All my breakable stuff broke YEARS ago. Do your worst, Kitty.

Driving the youngest to school the other morning, I noticed that one of the houses near the school appears to be completely abandoned. The yard has really grown up, the dirt drive is mostly weeds, no lights, no cars. Unfortunately, that’s nothing new. I’m guessing it might be a foreclosure…there certainly are many of those around town, even on that particular street. That is the Desirable Neighborhood.

I don’t know how things work where you live, but around these parts, we don’t have sales tax or state income tax. To make up for this deficit in budgeting, we have inSANE property tax. The tax rate is set by the town, and assessors come ’round once in awhile to check the property and make sure that either your hunk of shit is still a steaming pile, or your epic mansion is still quality enough to put dollar signs in the budget committee’s eyes.

I personally live in a section of houses that used to be factory homes. For a lot of years, there was a huge leather tannery right down the way that employed a lot of folks and wanted to keep those folks beholden to the company (translation: they employed immigrants fresh off the boat and took advantage). Many companies did this before the government and unions said, “Uh, you can’t force folks who work for you to turn around and give you their entire paychecks. Pretty sure that’s called slavery, and fairly certain we don’t want that happening.”

If you go into any older town in New England and head toward the local river, you’ll find remains of an old factory or mill that’s either gone to Nature or has been turned into a quaint little antique shop. In the direct vicinity of the defunct factory or mill, you’ll also see a neighborhood of older looking, similarly styled, not-at-all fancy homes with small front yards and an overall utilitarian appearance.

And you thought suburbia was a new concept!

Anyway, we live in one of those old factory houses. It’s probably around a hundred and fifty years old…somewhere in there. Since these homes were built to hold as many poor people as possible, they were not maintained very well. Turns out, poor immigrants who worked their fingers to the bone and breathed in the combo of rotting animal carcasses and harsh tanning chemicals all day didn’t really have that Martha Stewart urge once they clocked out. These homes weren’t built to look nice. Or, really, to last. It’s why ours has a half-assed foundation that needs frequent attention to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing.

My neighbor’s house is quite similar. All the houses around are quite similar. We’re directly on the main road, because that would have made it very easy for the Polish immigrant employees to find their way to work every morning, and also close enough to the factory for the land we’re on to be considered crappy.

In a nutshell, I most certainly do NOT live in a Desirable Neighborhood.

Even though we’re pretty much the Clampetts before they struck black gold…

*classic TV fist bump, y’all*

…the landlords still pay a mint in taxes. The yearly property tax on this rundown joint comes to around $2500. That’s every single year.

In fairness, it’s a duplex, so the assessed value is higher than it really should be. It’s considered an “income property”. If it was just a one family, it would be a tad lower. Maybe around $2,000. Still, a lotta money every single year for a rundown row house.

Now, to give you an idea of just how unfair property assessment is, the Desirable Neighborhood is made up of two blocks in one straight strip. The first block is made up of factory housing. About a half mile away from the factory, it would have been for higher level employees. Managers, overseers, that sort. Folks who had earned the right to live far enough away from the factory to get clean air in their lungs at night.

But not too far. Gotta get to work at sunup, ya know.

The second half of the street is comprised of Fancy Homes. It’s been years since I’ve studied the survey maps the Historical Society keeps, but if I remember correctly, the Fancy Homes belonged to the town business owners. You can tell, too. They’re Victorian in style, have large yards with statement piece trees. Though still too shabby to belong in Beverly Hills by any stretch of the imagination, they truly are some of the best homes in town.

They’re right near a school. They’re across the street from the town’s community center. The police/fire station combo sits at the beginning of the street and there’s even a classic old white church that plays bells every evening at 5.

Majestic.

All of these things mean that the assessed value of ANY of the homes on that street is way higher than the assessed value of the same style of property anywhere else in town, even for the row houses that are boring with no front yard and, at best, statement shrubs, not trees.

To give you an idea, if the house we lived in were picked up and moved to the Desirable Neighborhood, our taxes would go from $2500/year to around $5000/year.

We looked into a couple properties on that street because nearly all of them are on the market at the moment. The one we were interested in had a smaller lawn, less overall property, same square footage in the home, same level of run-down-ness…and the house was valued so high that the tax would have been $5,300. Once again, that would be essentially the same thing we’ve got now (minus the duplex “income property” designation) not even a mile away.

Is it any wonder more than half the damn street is for sale right now? It’s insane.

So, seeing a house for sale, or even abandoned, on that road is nothing new. However, what struck me about this particular house wasn’t the home so much as what was in the yard.

Several years ago, the property was purchased and the owners had a dream of making it into some niche orchard. They planted and maintained a few apple, quince, and peach trees. They planted berry bushes and built an impressive box garden. They shipped in bees so they could produce honey and it looked to me as if they were in the process of turning their barn into one of those quaint “New Englandy” shops that pull in all the snotty cheese eaters who can’t wait to see the foliage every year.

Not knocking snotty cheese eaters. We NEED snotty cheese eaters. It keeps the owners of our New Englandy shops in business.

It was clear that someone was trying something new in this town.

The first thing that happened was “concern” being raised by the folks about the bees being so close to the school. As human nature has proven time and again, science and fact were no match for het up rhetoric in that debate. It wasn’t more than a year before I think the owners just got sick of the hostility and the idiots, and took down the cute “Fresh Pressed Honey” sign.

No more bees.

But, they still had the fruits. I talk like it’s an orchard. It’s not. It’s only six trees. However, what those folks managed to cram into the small space was amazing. They also chose their trees carefully. These trees are epic producers. It’s a veritable bounty, folks.

Maybe the taxes got to be too much. Maybe the townspeople got to be too much. Maybe the dream they clearly had wasn’t worth the battle it took to realize. They left. Someone else moved in, someone who did not have the same dream, someone who did not care about peaches and apples and quince.

And now it appears as if even that someone is gone.

The trees are heavy with fruit. They are sitting there, loaded. Kids walk by those trees every day, some of them hungry, some of them itchy to have a juicy bite of the dream that’s been abandoned.

I’ve had my share of apples this year. I can’t even LOOK at those. But the two quince trees…that’s a different story. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of stepping slightly off the public sidewalk and nipping a stray quince of two.

They aren’t wanted. They’ve been abandoned. Beautiful, top shelf quality food sits on forgotten branches to rot. No one wants them. The custodians of the property, probably some vague yet menacing secret foreclosure society, have ignored the very existence of the bounty. The fruits sit there, alone, unwanted, destined to never live out their purpose in life.

When viewed in that light, I’d be doing the world a favor by taking some of the fruit. It’s noble, really, sacrificing my morals to lift up another life form, to give meaning to the hollowness of their current existence, to make their hard work and devotion COUNT in this crazy, mixed up world, to…

“Bethie.”

…what?

“Do not steal the fruit.”

But…

“.no.”

*sigh* Fine. I’ll leave the fruit. It can rot. Go to seed. Fall to the ground in a poetic allegory that the majority of folks who walk by won’t stop to ponder. I won’t steal the fruit. I promise.

But you have to admit, I almost swayed you, didn’t I?

Thus concludes a disappointingly quinceless Musing for Saturday, September 12, 2015. I mentioned last time that I’m gearing up for writing. I’m not sure if that’ll be this week or next. If you don’t hear from me for a bit, that’s what I’m up to. And if you DO hear from me, you know I’m procrastinating and you should yell at me to put away my toys and get to work. I’d do the same for you.

The spooky twang of a theremin can mean only one thing…

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Mornin’ all.

“Uh, you feeling okay, Bethie?”

Yeah.

“You sure?”

…yeeeaaah. I’m fine. Why?

Wait. Do you know something I don’t know? Should I be feeling *not* okay?!? Now that you mention it, I am getting a bit sweaty. And one eyelid seems a bit poofier than the other. *gulp* Oh no. Oh m’gawd. I think my throat is feeling itchy and tickly. Yes, yes it’s definitely starting to feel itchy. It’s getting harder to breathe.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!?? TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW RIGHT NOW.

“…whoa. I was just wondering why you’re sitting down for another chit chat. This will be the third this week.”

*gulp* You mean I don’t have parvo?

“I don’t even think people can get parvo.”

Holy crap, dude. Don’t scare me like that! Gah. Now I’ve got heart palpitations!

*deep breath* *muttering mantra* *ironic sip of turbo caffeinated coffee*

I’m writing so much now for a few reasons, and none of them have anything to do with disease. The kiddies are back at school. This leaves me bored and lonely. My two best emotions for getting shit done happen to be boredom and loneliness.

The weather’s finally getting cooler. I’m a biggun. Bigguns don’t do well in the heat. I used to tell people I deep fried from the inside out, but to be honest, no one really thought it was funny but me. They’d get horrified looks on their faces and back away slowly. I suppose that’s why I babble on the internet instead of perform gigs in comedy clubs.

And the last reason I keep harassing you is that I’ve got a new keyboard. Remember that keyboard frying incident? Oh, you know. A few weeks back I gave my keyboard a coffee bath. You might think a coffee bath for a keyboard would give similar results to a milk bath for beautiful skin. You’d be wrong. Electronics don’t seem to appreciate moisturization.

Now, for about 20 years, I’ve exclusively used a split keyboard, where half of the letters are over this way, and the other over that. However, we couldn’t find a damn split keyboard anywhere locally and didn’t want to wait for the shipping. We decided to pick up a cheap interim keyboard, but the man went and got all fancy, so now the interim has a permanent position. Er, at least until I host another electronics spa day.

Anyway, the new keyboard is still technically an ergonomic one, but the keys wave instead of split. The only way I’m going to retrain my muscle memory is to keep hunting and pecking and hitting “k” every damn time I want to hit “j” until my fingers get it.

I’m getting much, much better. It still feels like I’m a little kid walking around in my mum’s high heels, but at least I can make it to the other side of the metaphorical room without landing on my face.

I need to hone my skills on this peripheral. The cooler weather and quieter abode is making me itch to wrap up the loose ends of a few books I’ve got percolating, one of which I honestly intended to be out in late spring.

So, in a nutshell, I’m bugging you constantly right now because I’m bored, lonely, and need practice.

“Gee, thanks.”

Aw, don’t be like that! Consider it payback for you trying to convince me I had parvo.

Now, I need to type. You need to have coffee and be entertained. I have the news pages open, and I think I hear the band tuning their theremins. The go-go dancers put on some ballet shoes, though everyone knows you should *tap* to theremin music, but who am I to tell them how to do their craft? Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I think we all need a little….

*** HEADLINE ROUNDUP!!! ***

*eerie theme music* *poignant echappe* *extra vibrato on the finish*

Wow. I stand corrected. *wipes tear* I had no idea the Roundup into could be so moving. Brava ladies, brava.

Now that we’ve been invigorated with the passion of art, let’s begin. For those who might be Roundup novices, here’s the deal. Sometimes a headline catches my eye. It may be poorly worded, misleading, or just generally imagination-inducing. I gather them up and share them with you…with comments. Every headline is 100% legitimate. I just supply the graceful flourish after. Here we go.

– Clintons Paid Man for Server Work

Heh heh. Chumps. Who pays for tech support anymore?

– Annual Pillow Fight Turns Bloody

“Oh…oh, were we not supposed to put bricks in the pillow cases? My bad.”

– Teen Trapped in School Safe Saved

Then it is a very aptly named piece of equipment. Good thing he didn’t get trapped in the school peril.

– R-Patz: It’s The “Worst Insult” to Mistake Me for an American

America’s not that crazy about it either, you sparkly asshole.

– Weekend Legal Setback for Cosby

Easy way to avoid that, Bill. Stop raping people.

– How We Eat Bacon Around the World

*raised eyebrow*…orally, I hope.

– Apostolic Church Fuels Clerk’s Gay Marriage Fight

Oh. I had no idea she worked for a church. I’m not sure she’s clear on the finer points of her employers, either.

-KY Clerk’s Attorney: Marriage Licenses for Gays are Void

Aw, no fair! Why does a lawyer get to void marriages at a whim but I wasn’t allowed to void my parking ticket? If he gets to arbitrarily change laws, I wanna do it, too!

– GOP Candidates Rush to Support KY Clerk

You know, with the huge pile of candidates to sort through this election cycle, it’s good that we’ve got instances like this to help clearly define the riffraff.

– KY Clerk Refuses to Back Down, No Resolution in Sight

…okay, look. The coverage of this is getting out of control. The clerk broke the law. You cannot work for the GOVERNMENT and use your RELIGION to decide how you serve the PUBLIC. Period. Our entire country was founded on that one principle. It’s law, plain and simple. Don’t want to follow the law? That’s up to you. But YOU do not get to decide MY rights because of YOUR religion. Period. End of discussion.

– Hope for Equality Crusaders in KY as…
I SAID END OF FUCKING DISCUSSION.

– Why is McDonald’s Finally Offering All-day Breakfast?

Better question: why are people so obsessed with all-day breakfast? And why do all-day breakfasters always feel the need to tell you they enjoy pancakes in the afternoon? Why do I need to know this? Things to ponder, folks.

– 43% of US Homes at High Risk from Natural Disasters

What a bizarre statistic.

– Massive Rock Threatening to Crash into Base of Arizona Dam

“Oh. I see you’ve got a nice dam going on here. Looks like it’s doing what? Holding millions of gallons of water back from drowning small towns, is it? Hm. We seem to find ourselves in an interesting situation then. I want to escape the quarry, you’ve got a beautiful, shiny dam… It’s such a nice dam. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”

– Oregon Judge Refuses to Perform Same-sex Marriages

Don’t you start with that shit, too, Oregon! I thought we had something special…?

– Bears Spotted in and Around Denver Searching for Food

They nudged the Broncos out of the way, who were also spotted in and around Denver searching for a win.

…sorry, Colorado. I could not pass it up this close to football season. You understand.

– Elusive Fla. Cobra Ignites Social Media as Search Continues

His latest Tweet said: “I was RIGHT over your head, @flstatetroopers. You’re not even making this hard!! #nowondercriminalsgetaway #suckit #nevergonnafindme”

– Soulless Banker in Topless Spar

I didn’t bother reading the article because I want to keep my belief that old, pasty bankers with no rhythm threw down over the last free lollipop. It makes me happy to believe that actually happened.

– Wildfires Take Toll on Hunting Season

Probably the absolute LEAST important impact of a massive wildfire.

– Black Bear “Army Unit” Surrounds Russian Town

Admit it. I am not the only one right now who thinks there’s a better than fair chance that Putin has actually weaponized bears.

– Amazon Hiring for New Restaurant Division in Seattle, NYC

“Your search for: egg yolk ravioli found 23 new and 52 used offers from 75 sellers. Refine your search?”

– Amazon Hiring for New Restaurant Division in Seattle, NYC

Do you think they’ll deliver food with drones, too? Literal cloudy with a chance of meatballs.

…I couldn’t decide which one to go with, so you got a bonus.

– Arab World’s Richest Nations Offer Little Help

I want to say something about the governments…but then you’ll take it to be about the everyday folks because I KNOW how the internet works…and I’ll get email…and stumble and try to explain, but it’ll be too late because, DUH, INTERNET…and then there will be a cloud hanging over us… Let’s just leave any wise cracks about the governments of the Arab nations in question unspoken.

– Migrants Stream into Austria, Swept West by Overwhelmed Hungary

I’m dying to share puns, but that would probably be misconstrued, too. You’re killin’ me here, MSN. You really are.

– As Officers are Gunned Down, Police Feel Under Attack

Huh. What an odd reaction to being shot at. Can you say persecution complex? Yikes.

– Crowded House! International Crew Arrives at Space Station

Ain’t no party like an international space station party cuz and international space station party don’t stop…unless an outside catalyst applies enough force upon the international space station to overcome the effect of it’s current momentum.

Put that to a beat and you’ve got a hit.

– See What the Oldest Surviving Kodak Camera Looks Like Today

Frankly- and this might be a bit of a spoiler, so consider yourself warned- I think he’s really let himself go. Botox isn’t just for women, you know. But that’s just my opinion.

– 3D Printed Tiny Fish Could Be Used for Drug Delivery

WTF? Wall Street Journal, are you high?

– Feds Using “Stingrays” to Spy on Cell Phones?

Why not? Russia’s using bears to invade villages.

– What the Evolution of Fire Can Teach us About Climate Change

Fire does not evolve. It is the same now as it was a million years ago. I hate bullshit “science” that is done by hipsters who want to sound like they know what they’re talking about in their desperate attempt to justify fake glasses and ironic pocket protectors. You’re not fooling anyone, hipsters. Back away from science and go sip your Pabst in the corner before you break something.

– Baby Delivered in Uber Car By Lincoln Tunnel

That’s a very talented tunnel.

– The Strange Practice of “Gnoming”

I don’t want to know. You don’t want to know. I guarantee our lives are better if we remain in the dark on this one.

– Man Escapes Fire, Talks About Saving his BBQ Ribs

Oh, ‘Merica.

– In the Future, Your Hot Dogs Might Be Made of Trees

You ate the brownies at the Wall Street Journal party, didn’t you, Newsweek?

– Cops Fire 84 Shots at Robbery Suspect, Hit Him Once

That’s some Grand Theft Auto bullshit right there.

– Biden’s Wife May Share His Misgivings About Another Race

I really feel like the editor should have added “For Office” at the end. Just to clarify things.

– Gov. Brown Prohibits Ban on Artificial Lawns as Voter Turnout Bill Advances

I feel like this news site just took to random, vaguely political topics and mashed them together. What in the hell does astroturf have to do with voter turnout?

– Campaign Manager Doesn’t Even Try to Manage Trump

The No Shit Gazette is back in full swing.

– New Hampshire Town Celebrates Notable ’65 UFO Citing

Bahaha! What idiots! A UFO celebration in New…

Oh… That said New Hampshire? I thought it said New JERSEY. Heh heh. *gulp*

Well. This got awkward.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Saturday, September 5, 2015. Today is Teen Prime’s b-day. Alas, he is spending the day with his dad’s fam. *sniff* I did not get to make my baby a b-day breakfast. I’ll just have to be doubly annoying when I see him tomorrow!

A tumbleweed just rolled on by. That can only mean one thing ’round here…

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Mornin’ all.

My ninja cat almost took me out this morning. I was halfway down the stairs when she materialized out of nowhere and decided it was time to finish her training and ascend to the level of jonin. Apparently that meant winding her way through my legs while I was mid-step. She’s sitting tall and proud, a noble representative of her people. I have clean shorts on now, but my heart is still racing.

Damn cat.

I’ll just drink some more of this tar. I mean coffee. That’ll calm me down. *sssssip* *choke* *sizzle* *moan* Can’t…feel…my…tongue.

Good batch!

I was looking at the news this morning and a few headlines just popped out at me. I’m not even going to ramble for awhile. I did a bunch of rambling yesterday (NEW HORIZONS WOOT!!!!) and I really just want to get in to some silly fun. What better way to shake off the terror of ninja Kitty’s training and early morning coffee than to…

You know what? I was going to cue the go-go dancers, but I think we’re going to keep up with the “something a little different” theme today is shaping up to have. Strike up the band, put your coffee down and join the girls on the stage. Audience participation day!

“Oh, no, Bethie.”

Come on. Do it!

“Really, I couldn’t…”

Aw now, it’ll be fun! You’ll see. Cut loose for once.

“Welllll…. *whips off robe to uncover dancing costume*”

There ya go! Now, it’s time for a….

*** HEADLINE ROUNDUP ***

Wow. I had no idea you could moonwalk. Look at those gams! Did you borrow the pasties from one of the girls, or….you know what? Forget I asked. To each their own, right?

For those who aren’t familiar with the Roundup, every so often I read a headline or two that strikes my fancy. Perhaps it’s poorly worded, or contains unforgivable grammar mistakes. Sometimes they’re misleading. And sometimes they just take my weird mind down an unintended path. I’ll gather these headlines up and present them to you in one easy to digest article…with jokes. As always, these headlines appear as written on real news sites, and are 100% legitimate. I just supply the 99.44% all natural commentary. Shall we begin?

– Cruz Calls for ‘Immediate Investigation’ Into Planned Parenthood

Why is this muppet still around? Go buy some more of your own books, Ted.

– Your Data is Compromised. (Yes, Yours.) What Now?

*blink**blink* Well that escalated quickly.

– When the End of Human Civilization is Your Day Job

Eh, somebody’s gotta do it.

– China is Using Televised Confessions to Shame Detained Lawyers, Journalists and Activists

Ooooh, so close, China. You did a good job with the lawyers, but that’s where you should have drawn the line. People don’t want to see journalists and activists publicly shamed. You have to shame them in private. Nice attempt to fit in with the rest of the “civilized” world, B-.

– Harvard Researchers Have the Answers to Raising Good Kids

And for the low, low price of $19.99, you, too, can join the millions of people who have taken the Home with Harvard online seminar. But wait, there’s more! If you act now…

– French Company Designs Face-to-face Airplane Seating

Because it’s not really des vacances until you can smell the fetid fromage wafting from your cell mate’s…er…I mean, SEAT mate’s drooling maw.

– Worst Dark Chocolates for Weight Loss

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “any.” Any dark chocolates are probably bad for weight loss.

– NASA Returns Sesame Street Goodies from Space

Good. You shouldn’t have taken them in the first place, NASA! Now say you’re sorry, then go to your room and think about what you’ve done.

– Michelle Obama Reveals her Dance Inspiration on SYTYCD

…Sittisid? What the fuck is sittisid? Is that like, one of those EDM drugs?? Why is our First Lady on it?? Do you think we should start a campaign to make people aware and help her get off the stuff? You can do it, Mrs. Obama! Reach deep inside and find the clean and healthy you!!! #FreeMichelle

– Craft Sends Signal From Near Pluto

WHAT!?! A mysterious craft sends us a message!?! HOLY SHIT…ALIENS!!!!!???? I better click on this article RIGHT NOW and…

…*grumble* Never mind. Damn your click bait, Vox.

– Don’t Microwave Those Leftovers; it Could Lead to Diabetes

…especially if you’re microwaving chocolate cake. That’ll ‘prolly not be the best for ya…

– Find Out Who Justin Bieber Has a ‘Big Crush’ On

No.

– Trout Leads Off with Homer

How in the hell does a fish swing a bat? Mind. Blown.

– All-Star Game Hats are Terrible, Worthy of Scorn

And so I say to you, shun them. Turn your backs and shun the head coverings of Satan, for they are wicked and deserving of your contempt.

– Trump Campaign Mistakenly Tweets Star-Spangled Nazis

What’s the term for a Freudian slip that’s made over texts? #FreudianBlip

– LGBT Immigrants Taking A More Forceful Stand as Reform Efforts Languish

LGBT? Check. Immigration law? Check. Protests? Check. Controversial flags? … … no controversial flags? Damn. I was one away from “Hot Button Bingo”.

– PETA Says Sea World Employee Masqueraded as Animal Activist

Well, well, well. The tables have turned.

*author’s note: I’m not supporting Sea World. I support the conservation work they do, and the care and rehabilitation they offer injured animals, but I cannot support them as an organization until they stop taking large, healthy animals from the wild and sticking them inside tiny fish bowls. However, I hate PETA, and I think it’s comically idiotic that they’re getting pissed about the switcheroo now that it’s going the other direction. In a nutshell, suck it up PETA and take it like a man-imal.*

– The Name Atticus Acquires an Unwelcome Association

As if we really need another reason not to name our kid “Atticus”.

– Presidential Election Already Fueled By $377 Million

And that’s why we citizens can’t have nice things.

– Inside the Florida Town that’s Known as the ‘Psychic Capitol of the World’

I think you spelled “psychotic” wrong…

– Mo. County to Rescind Plan to ‘Mourn’ Gay Marriage Ruling

SMH…I mean…*sigh*…good for them? I guess? Give them a cookie for doing what they were supposed to do in the first place? Or, not doing what they…you know what I mean. Oh, Mo.

– Agency Faulted for Inaction After California Oil Spill

In all fairness, betting on which seagull bobbing in the water was going to get covered in oil first was, technically, action…

– Apple Watch: Not Dead Yet

Keep telling yourself that, Apple.

– Fla. Man Struck By Wife in Fight Over Confederate Flag: Cops

With all the psychic activity in Florida, I’m surprised he didn’t see that coming.

– What the Iran Nuclear Deal Means for Pistachio Lovers

Ok. I understand that when news breaks every news outlet scrambles for a different take on the story. But…pistachios? Really? That’s your “A” game, IBT?

– Why You Can’t Eat Just One Fry (Or Donut or Pizza Slice)

Because they’re fucking delicious. No need to complicate it with science, Quartz.

– Threats Force Satan Statue Unveiling to Secret Detroit Venue

Aw, lookit the controversial artist trying to be all big and tough and relevant. Soooo close, too. Next time, don’t wimp out at the showing.

– Chinese Company Worships Steve Jobs with Golden Bust

No golden idol worshiping, China. Bad China. Bad.

– Biofuel Made from Beer is Now Powering Cars in New Zealand

If a self-driving car is powered by beer, can it get pulled over for DUI??

– New CEO: Some People on Reddit ‘Shouldn’t Be Here At All’

Welcome to the internet, man.

– Door-Knocking Iowa Homeschoolers Courted by Republican Suitors

“Door-knocking homeschoolers?” Is this some weird midwest double entendre? Gross, Iowa.

– The Internet of Things Goes After Kids

Huh? This makes less sense than the Iowa headline. What’s going on, AP? You feeling all right? I’m starting to worry.

– Gold Bust of Kate Moss, Now What?

CHINA!!! Stop it this instant!

– Brandy Sings on Subway, No One Notices

I’m torn here. As a human being, I feel bad for her. But as a user of the internet for over half my life… *snort*

– For Traditional Ear Cleaner in India, Business Waning

Odd. Usually it’s waxing.

*author’s note: I wasn’t gonna, then I was like ‘Welp, at this point, it’s kind of expected…’ Blame yourselves for the puns, readers. If you expect the worst out of me, you’re going to get it.*

– The Sex Offender Test

1. Are you a sex offender?

If you answered “yes”, then congratulations! Your scores have qualified you to be a sex offender! Please purchase a white panel van, an over coat, and candy at your earliest convenience.

– Grande Apologizes for Donut Licking

It’s okay, hon. We’ve all been there. *see scientific explanation earlier in post*

– What Does Your Last Name Say About You?

I’m no expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure it usually says who your parents are.

– Why The Iran Deal Made Obama Critics So Angry

Because ANYTHING Obama does makes his critics angry! Is there really need for an article here?

– Brave Teen Who Survived Plane Crash That Killed Her Grandparents is Released From Hospital and is Treated To McDonald’s

Today’s plane crash proudly sponsored by McDonald’s. Because nothing makes you feel better after a horrific tragedy filled with terror, agony, death, and torture like a Happy Meal! #I’mLovin’It

Thus concludes an unexpected Roundup for Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Today is “Prime Day.” Not as thrilling as yesterday’s New Horizon day (which was FABULOUS, wasn’t it!?! Even if we didn’t see any aliens waving at us…). Tomorrow will be the Christian feast day honoring Gondulphus of Tongeren. Just a reminder in case you forgot and need to run out and pick up a Gondulphus card before it’s too late. #IGotYourBack

VIVE LA PLUTO!!

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Mornin’ all.

Has your favorite brand of sunscreen ever just stopped working for you?

Last year, I had no problems with it. This weekend, we had a fun trip to a local dam and an afternoon of pickning fun with friends and family. Sunscreen was applied, reapplied. The older I get the more sensitive to the sun my skin has become. I don’t usually get a sunburn, but if I don’t put on sunscreen, I’ll itch. And itch. And itch all night long. So I’m not one of those “oh, yeah, I kinda waved the bottle around me before I went outside” sunscreen users. No half-assing it, that’s what I’m saying. I put that shit on thick.

After the long, fun day, we packed up and I was about halfway home by the time it dawned on me that I was decidedly uncomfortable. Couldn’t do anything in the car, especially since I was driving. Fortunately, the hydraulic suspension system we have decided to blow a line in the engine and spray hydraulic fluid all over to give me a billowing, smoky distraction to take my mind off the burning. Thanks, Car! Always lookin’ out for me.

So we get home. Unload, get the kiddies wrangled to change out of their damp, sandy swim trunks, and then it’s my turn to get a look at myself in the bathroom mirror.

Is “borscht” a skin tone?

Ugh, folks. UGH.

No outdoors for Bethie for the next few days. I guess that leaves me with a few “to do” choices:

1. Play my video game.

2. Clean.

3. Make an art.

The problem with the video game is that I rage quit yesterday afternoon, but accidentally did so after it auto-saved in a really, really bad spot. I’m surrounded by aliens, all of which are way stronger than my character, and I’ve got shit for ammo, a depressing fact I discovered when I picked the controller back up a little later. It’s going to take patience to get my character out of there, and I just don’t know how much of that I’ve got.

I *could* clean. I suppose. But… um… well, there’s… *brain robots scramble madly through files to come up with a viable excuse* Oh, wait! I know! Okay, so I mentioned the hydraulic line blew on the wagon. While the car is technically drivable, with no hydraulic suspension, the rear end is solidly locked WAY up high, making the car bounce all over the road when I try to drive it.

“Uh, Bethie? What does any of that have to do with cleaning?”

Well, if I start to clean, I just won’t stop and I’ll need to take trips to the dump, which I can’t do in the broken wagon. Darn.

“But, you could mop and shit…”

THE CAR IS BROKEN. I simply cannot clean. Oh well, nothing to be done for it.

That leaves art. I’ve got a painting project to wrap up with the youngest pup. We made paper mache birds to hang in his room, an owl and an eagle. We’ve just got to finish up the detail painting and hang them. That’s a good one to work on for the morning. It’ll get me pumped up to do some different kind of artwork.

I picked up a bunch of posters from the free pile at the junk shop across the way yesterday. I like to take an ugly or boring print and add to it to make it fun and interesting, and there was a box of about a dozen huge, high quality prints, mostly from museums. Score! I can totally deface those puppies. That sounds like fun.

Oh, and I forgot the most important “to do” on this morning’s list: Wait for the New Horizon’s up close Pluto shots to finally come in.

I’m not kidding. I will be refreshing NASA all day until I see some Pluto glamor shots.

“Um…why?”

Why? WHY!!?? Are you…have you…don’t you…. !!??WHY??!!

For the first time in human history, we are going to get a close shot of the furthest planet in our solar system.

“Bethie, Pluto is not a planet.”

WRONG. They demoted it to a “dwarf planet”, keyword “planet.” So even the idiots that demoted Pluto recognized that a large body that has three moons is most definitely a planet. Also, the closer New Horizons gets, the more NASA and their ilk are being proven wrong. What they thought they knew about Pluto is bullshit.

1. Pluto’s moons are actual moons, not simply asteroids floating nearby. The five small moons DO orbit in a regular pattern, meaning that Pluto has enough mass and spin to create the gravity needed to pull and keep objects in an orbit.

2. Pluto has not only polar ice caps, like any self respecting planet (albeit, methane and nitrogen ice), but an intricate surface, with possible mountains, cliffs, and canyons. Previously, it was assumed that Pluto was no more than a large asteroid that got locked into orbit. Now it seems that Pluto has developed the features we associate with an actual planet. Frozen liquid. Perhaps some sort of internal activity which would lead to the formation of mountains, the cracking into canyons…or flowing water to create these features. Which it shouldn’t have. Logic dictates that it can’t, not so far from the sun. And yet, there are some truly intriguing findings. A real beard stroker.

3. Pluto is larger than NASA thought. Pluto is right on the outskirts of the Kuiper Belt, a hodgepodge of celestial junk milling about on the fringes of our solar system. The logic behind Plutos demotion was that there were other bodies in that belt, specifically Eris, that could be larger. Up close, personal measurements have proven that Pluto IS the largest object in the Kuiper Belt (to date…I mean, the Kuiper belt is HUGE, and there may be some hulking behemoths in there somewhere).

The closer we’ve gotten, the more info we’ve gathered, shattering assumptions about Pluto. And now, New Horizons will get just 7,750 miles away. I know it sounds like a lot. But folks, New Horizons has putt-putted for nine and a half YEARS to get there. It’s already covered almost 3 BILLION miles. 7,750 is nothing.

Okay, let’s put it this way. The moon is 238,900 miles away from us. Think of how much we can see with the naked eye on a clear night, how many details. Now, zoom that image in 30 times. Blow the visible moon up 30 times larger in the night sky. Imagine the details we could see then! Why, we’d be able to see the secret alien landing strip at that point.

It’s happening at 7:50 a.m., my time. And I cannot wait.

What am I really hoping for?

Well, the writer in me really, REALLY wants to see some native critter waving at us, though I’m fairly certain that won’t happen. I’d like to see details of the remains of a true environment. Scars on the land from water, or dormant volcanoes that prove there was once a nuclear heart to the now-icy beast. I want to see something that will re-open the conversation about Pluto.

They’ve already seen so much that there WILL be a push to reinstate it as a full fledged member of our solar system, but I think it’s going to take more than what they’ve discovered so far to give the argument any really substance. Sure, I could start an internet petition. I’m betting it would get tons of signatures. Scientists don’t tend to care about internet petitions.

“Bethie, why do you care so much? It’s a dwarf planet because it is a dwarf.”

Because what the hell is size when the body is spherical, has an orbit around our star, has moons which, in turn, orbit around it, has polar ice caps, has the same geological markings of the other planets in our solar system…

The ONLY reason they demoted Pluto was because it was small. But that does not mean it’s not a functional member of our solar system. If it looks like a planet, and acts like a planet, and has the same magnetism as a planet, then it’s fucking planet.

“But if we say that, then we’ll have to start including other large bodies, like Eris.”

Maybe. And what would be so bad about that? If further investigation into Eris proves that it, too, has the same planetary markers we’ve established as a baseline for our other planets, then why not add it to the list?

When we demoted Pluto, we took a step back. We demoted it based solely on one factor, and that’s just bad science. Hopefully we’ll see something great when those pics come in. Hopefully Pluto will once again get the respect it deserves.

VIVE LA PLUTO!

Thus concludes a nerdy Musing for Tuesday, July 14, 2015. I’m off to get more aloe lotion while I wait for history. You know, I wouldn’t have gotten this sunburn on Pluto…

And so the brief experiment with nudism ended in the House of Bethie…

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Mornin’ all.

Do you hear that? Do you know what that is?!

*author’s note: We at the Musing seriously hope you cannot, in fact, hear anything that’s going on here at HQ. That would be creepy. Don’t stalk me.*

I’ll give you a few clues. We can turn this into a game. Ready?

1. It had to be delivered on a freight truck.

2. It has lights and plays music.

…come on, man. You have to guess or it’s no fun.

Need more clues?

3. It’s got a glass window so you don’t miss a minute of the action.

4. It comes with a 10 year drive warranty.

…okay, I’m too excited to let you keep spitting out guesses, though Whirlitzer was a good one. It’s my new….WASHING MACHINE!!! Finally after nearly a month without one, my washer finally, FINALLY got here.

And it’s got lights. It makes music when you turn it on and off. It’s got a shiny knob that you can turn to tons of custom settings, and buttons you can push to select myriad combinations of tweaks for ultimate laundering control. You all know how much I like knobs and buttons and control.

It can steam. It can sanitize. It can fit not one, but TWO comforters in its huge drum. But wait…there’s more! It’s also…SELF-CLEANING!!!

…which, admittedly, seems a bit odd since we’re talking about a machine whose sole purpose is to fill with water and soap every single time it gets used, thus cleaning itself on a regular basis… But whatever! It’s a FEATURE. You KNOW how I love FEATURES.

Perhaps one of the coolest things is the glass top. You can watch the whole wash process play out. Hours of free entertainment for me, not only in watching the jeans take a spin around the dance floor with the towels, but also in watching my cat freak the hell out.

She used to love to sit on the plain, boring old washer. She hopped up on top of the shiny, new washer to do the same. But now, she can see things moving below. Now things are clearly out to get her. And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a cat jump so high as she did when the water started to spray.

Hilarious.

I threw another load in this morning when I got up because my tablet died last night and I needed to hear the gentle song of a friendly, compliant piece of machinery to take the sting left by yet another mutinous robot. It sang me a welcoming, soothing tune as I loaded it, then trilled another “Aye aye, Cap’n” shanty when I hit start. It complied, and that brought me comfort. I really think we’ve got something special, washer and I.

Maybe I should name it?

“Maybe you should get more sleep, Bethie.”

You might be on to something there. This week my brain has been in turbo mode, but not during the day when such modes are useful. Nope, I’ve had a week solid of waking up around 1 a.m. with Brain saying, “You know what I just thought of, guys?”

Of COURSE instead of ignoring Brain, Eyes popped open every single time because they are weak and easily influenced. As soon as Brain had a captive audience, Brain would start to put us back in uncomfortable situations of the past. “Remember this?” Brain would ask.

Heart, not one to miss out on the action, would say, “Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. What did I do? That’s right! I remember!” Then Heart would start beating rapidly, reliving the moment of panic Brain dredged up from the past.

Hip would start to complain about Muscles getting tense. Back joined the fray. “What? What is the meaning of this? Are we cramping, then? Shit. I didn’t get the memo. Let me catch up.”

Having an active imagination is a wonderful thing. Having a good memory is also great. However, put the two together and you will often find yourself reliving a terrifying moment in minute detail, no matter if your logical side knows for a FACT that you are far away from that time and place and safely tucked in your bed.

True story.

Last night’s trip down memory pain was a pocket of turbulence we experienced on the flight home from Oregon. Now, let me make something clear. I wasn’t scared at the time. I had no fear at all of the plane crashing. I had not only statistics, but science on my side. I understand turbulence, I knew it would right in just a few minutes. I honestly, hand to the cosmos was NOT scared. In that moment, I was just getting the barf bag ready for the little one who did not handle air travel well. I was hot and tired and cranky and emotional from the visit, but I wasn’t scared.

Not then.

Guess it just took a few months to catch up with me. I woke up last night in a flat out, balls to the wall panic, convinced that my bed was crashing. I could see the “H” shaped crack in my ceiling, so familiar and ordinarily, oddly comforting. I could hear my man snore. I knew- I KNEW- I was at home in my bed and that nothing at all was going to crash. And yet, Brain convinced Heart we were on a plane.

Seriously, Brain. WTF.

And of course, after I calmed myself down, Eyes stayed wide open. Yet again. “Oh man, wasn’t that fun?” they blinked as they darted around the room, still full of adrenalin.

“Hey, if you think that’s great, then I’ve got another one for ya,” Brain offered, in spite of my best efforts to get Brain under control. “Remember that time Body was seven and careening down the hill on her Huffy and she hit loose gravel?”

“Boy, do I!” Eyes said eagerly. “Are we going to think about that now?”

“Over and over and over.”

“Yippee!”

…okay. I definitely think you’re right about the sleep. Ah well. I’ve already started my laundry and had a cup of caffeinated rot gut. I’m awake. It’s happening. Hey, at least you only have to put up with me for a bit. My kids have to deal with me like this all day.

ALL DAY.

Heh. Good luck with that, boys.

I was looking through the news. Many stories got me riled up, because some people are stupid and continue to want to do stupid things even after it’s been pointed out how stupid they are being. Ted Cruz, presidential pipe dreamer, is angry that the New York Times figured out he bought thousands of his own books to fudge sales figures and refused to put him on the best sellers list. *snort* Hey, Cruz, you got busted. Handle it like a man.

Not to be outdone in the shameless category, Oompa Loompa Tribble-head…er…I mean, Donald Trump doubled down on his anti-Mexican stance. S’okay. Every time he opens his stupid, flapping drool machine, he guarantees a vote for anyone but him. Still, it’s hard to listen to.

South Carolina removed the Flag of Hate. And that’s what it is. It’s NOT just decor. It was a battle flag, a symbol carried by folks who were willing to MURDER anyone who would no longer allow them to OWN PEOPLE. So good on you, SC. Friggin’ took you long enough. Don’t even look at user comments on any of those articles. It will turn your stomach.

So there were many firestorm stories in the news this week, especially in the political arena. But one story was fairly innocuous. It didn’t get me riled up, but yet, oddly worked the crowd into a frenzy anyway. I thought this would be the perfect article to introduce you to some of…

*** YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS!!! ***

That’s right, another installment of a segment that will introduce you to real people and their thoughts. Most major news sites have a “user comments” section, a place where the people who live and work next to you can let their crazy fly. I’ll give you a recap of the story, then I will let you read for yourself the 100% real comments the story moved folks to submit. I have not changed a thing about the comments, not even grammatical errors. Trust me, leaving them in is far more painful for me than you. Let’s dive in!

This week, President Obama granted three sections of national park land National Monument status. The areas, Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, Waco Mammoth in Texas, and Basin and Range in Nevada, have officially been set aside as National Monuments instead of being simply parks or forests. Already part of the national park system, the upping in status offers these rare and natural environments a greater level of protection. The move will ensure that there cannot be any development, the land cannot be used for private means, and no one can put a damn pipeline of any sort right through the fossils and cave art. In short, it’s a great way to preserve three ancient, natural wonders.

Sounds good, right? I mean, it was already federally owned and protected land. A hard working group of conservationists just told Obama, “Hey, uh, someone’s going muddin’ through Snow Mountain and killing off the diverse wildlife there…could we just have you say officially that they can’t destroy the place?” And Obama said, “Sure. Where do you want me to sign?” That seems to me to be a no-brainer. He’s certainly not the first president to do it. Even Bush set aside land as a National Monument, because even a BUSH knows the value in protecting our shrinking wildlife. It’s good to protect our natural treasures and it’s part of the job of being president.

But…INTERNET. Here are some of the reactions of the Average Joe. While reading this, keep in mind that one or more of these folks might just sit a few cubicles down from you at work.

– “He protected, you mean he stole, just ask the states he took them from, most were in Nevada, with dirty Harry Reid, and his in vestments.”

Uh, no, actually. The land was already National Park land, most of it being declared as such by Teddy Roosevelt…just a wee bit before Obama’s time.

– “Stealing land from the states. Government at its worst.”

Hang on. Did no one read the article? The land already belonged to the government. Nothing was stolen.

– “More theft from the DICKtator!”

Oh for heaven’s sake! First off, no theft. Second, that’s not NEARLY as clever as you think.

– “66% of the land in Idaho is owned by the federal government.”

Cool story, bro. Aaaand what does it have to do with anything?

– “The dumb ass, thinks he’s god, think he can create something, lord strike this fool down, and free us from his tyranny”

Did…did you think that Obama is saying he literally MADE these natural sites? Holy shit.

– “Great, now Obama’s gone from self-proclaimed King to the Creator!”

…whoa. One person thinking that way was bad enough, but two?!

– “I am beginning to think I am reading Star Magazine or the Enquirer…”

Honey, you and me both.

-“…it’s a diversionary tactic.”

Well that took a turn I wasn’t expecting.

– “His latest BM?”

This is really starting to get off the rails.

– “Obama could take a crap on the White House lawn and his Llama would exclaim, “He passed a masterpiece !!”

Now THAT’S a llama I want to meet.

– “What about ‘The Killing Fields’ in Chicago?”

Hm. Probably didn’t meet the standard criteria.

– “OVAMIT THE DARK===ASSIGN TO THE SATANIC DARKNESS OF A DEMON”

Dammit, who let Kevin out? Kevin, get back in the asylum and take your meds.

– “Of course it’s much easier to spend money on monuments than to solve burning national problems and to pay attention to those who really need state’s support.”

But doesn’t the president have more than one responsibility? He kind of has a multi-faceted job.

– “Obama didn’t do that, someone else made that happen.”

Thank you! Reasonableness. No, he really didn’t spend his valuable time on it. He simply approved what the experts advised.

– “Dam sure won’t be some murdering cowardice statues from confederate era”

And I guess the internet had enough calm reasonableness. Didn’t last long, did it?

– “Actually, this is less a ‘grab’ as it is opening a corridor where there are no Park Police or Park Rangers. It makes it easier for illegals to get in through New Mexico.”

Wait. What?

– “This is another crime against the Constitution perpetrated by the executive branch, from which the court is specifically suposed to protect the states and their citizens from. It fallows niether the spirite nor intent of the law, it mearly enables more criminal ailians, with the desired intent to distroy America and the american low and middle class economic opertunities while grabing more of our resources th sell to the Chinese.”

Now, I’m not so sure, because right around “spirite”, everything started to fall apart, but I think this user was agreeing with the above poster about “ailians” and dragged China somehow into the fray…? Everybody get that same vibe?

– “Is this just Obama creating a safe corridor for the drug cartels who donate to Obama by untraceable prepaid credit cards?”

Actually, you put a lot of thought into that conspiracy theory. I didn’t see the twist end detail with the prepaid cards. Points for creativity.

– “Its just Obama promoting the Federal Government Uber Alles. He is indifferent to the drug cartels. I don’t know that the drug smuggler consider donations to the democrat party a sound investment. It is clear that Communist China does though.”

I’m beginning to sense a theme…

– “This could also be another region that Obama signed away to China”

You really don’t know what National Monuments are, do you? It’s okay to admit it. You’re safe here.

– “With as much radiation and plutonium there is in that ground, I wouldn’t blame him for wanting to grab it for tactical reasons, but taking into consideration that the government is and always has been the main source for illegals and drugs, I would say there is some dark deeds being prepared for this land.”

Holy shit, you’re right! Better get that tin foil hat ready. STAT.

– “MORE PROOF that Obama and the Socialist Party are not even the least bit concerned about the security of this nation.”

*sigh* I feel like I’ve got to point out once again that all Obama did was add another layer of environmental protection to land that was already part of the national park system. There will still be rangers. There will still be local cops.

– “Illegal corridor for the democratic voter block.”

Dammit, I misplaced my crazy-talk codex. Can anyone decipher that for me?

– “Waiting for the American Taliban to load up their trucks with guns and ammo and head from Nevada down to New Mexico to play soldier…if they don’t shoot each other first.”

Buddy, this says WAY more about you than it does Obama.

– “why HAs no one ever sued the feds under americans with disabilities act to allow disabled people mechanical means to enjoy the wilderness areas we have now. If you dont ride a horse or not young enough to WALK YOU ARE S.O.L.”

Look, I’m sorry you’re disabled, but you can’t put an elevator on a mountain. To do so would ruin the mountain. If you can’t afford an off road wheelchair, then there are just some things you won’t be able to do. There are some things I am not able to do. There are some things EVERYONE is not able to do, and you can’t sue for that. It’s just the way things are.

– “This story just went nation wide on the internet. If our government doesn’t know that. We are in sad shape for security. But the truth is not many people who have been attached to Obama are open to answering questions.”

….riiight. Uh, okay?

– “Gotta be 473 Cons listening in. How do I know? No action. No substance. Just, listening.”

I think this may have been an attempt at a haiku? Maybe?

– “CONS, don’t get too angry. After all, they will be renting out Hillary as a mule to ride for the kiddies.”

Yeah, I got nuthin’.

Thus concludes a scary look at the folks around you for Saturday, July 11, 2015. My washer just sang me the song of its people. I take it that means it’s done with my laundry? Either that or it was just lulling me into a sense of peaceful distraction earlier so it could summon the start of the uprising. Damn Obama.