One brave little peeper fighting the good fight…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Guess what we have?

PEEPERS!!!

…actually, let me clarify. We have a peeper. One singular, lonely little peeper outside going, “Guys? Guys? Hello? Anyone? Guys? Guys? No one? Shit.”

Hang in there, little peeper dude. By tonight you’ll have friends.

SO warm out yesterday! Today is supposed to be the same. Then…well, then we aren’t going to talk about the weekend forecast. We’re just going to enjoy the warm couple days and hope little peeper dude has a sweater. He’s gonna need it.

We grilled last night. Ribs. And in spite of it being a Monday, many of our neighbors did the same. It was almost like a summer night.

Almost.

In the summer, we’ve got enough warm nights for the local folks to wait for a weekend when they can turn their backyard BBQ into one long Friday and Saturday hootenanny. We didn’t get the drunken shouting or fireworks. The “classic rock” end of the street did not try to drown out the “country” side, which is good because our house is smack dab in the DMZ (de-musicized zone) (stop groaning. You know what you signed up for when you opened this blog. Take your lumps.). It was a warm Monday night, and everyone was just happy to char their meat while their kiddies played tag. It was almost peaceful.

Almost.

See, while the people behaved themselves, there was an animal war going on, one that I don’t think many city dwellers would understand. Peepers and BBQing locals aren’t the only sounds of warm weather. Around here, you’ve also got the pets that have spent the winter cooped up inside.

“Bethie, we’ve all heard dogs barking at each other.”

Yes. But have you ever heard how a dog’s barking sets off a rooster, who then irritates a duck?

We’ve got many families around us that keep chickens. In the winter, small chickens wouldn’t do so well under two feet of snow, so they’re either kept inside or folks use them and wait to buy more chickens until it’s warm enough to put them outdoors.

“What do they do with last year’s chickens?”

…really? I mean, I know you’re a city slicker and all, but even city slickers have KFC.

But, like I said, not all. Some folks do bring their chickens in for the winter, though those are more like pets and show chickens.

“….show chickens? Now I know you’re screwing with me.”

Google it. You’ll find yourself looking at some fancy ass chickens.

…did you Google? Apology accepted.

Now, there’s a neighbor who keeps chickens and ducks. They live up on the hill behind our house, so we’re in an audio bowl, if you will. We can hear everything coming off that hill as if it’s happening right next to us.

Their neighbor has a dog. It’s a big dog with a deep voice. The baritone doggie does not like the off-key rooster. The off-key rooster doesn’t give a shit. And the duck? Hell, I think he was just like, “Oooh! We’re shouting now? I’M IN.”

It went something like this:

Cockadoodle doo!”

BARK BARK WOOF.”

Quack?”

COCKADOODLE DOOOOO!!!”

BARKWOOFBARKBARKWOOF.”

Quack! Quack quack?!

*moment of silence*

…peep…”

Ah, the sounds of almost summer in my little hamlet. They never seem to change. I was raised here, not half a mile from where I live now. My grandparents lived up on that street on the hill behind my current house. These sounds are familiar, comforting…nostalgic.

Hey, remember ambrosia salad?

Warm nights around the grill always remind me of my Grammie R’s house when I was a child, when we’d have family cookouts, though we never called them cookouts when they happened at Grammie’s. I have no idea why. Maybe because they were more than that.

When you picture a cookout, you picture a come-as-you-are, relaxed hang out. My grammie wasn’t formal, she was just very “50’s housewife.” She’d have these great parties, and food would be cooked out on the grill. But she was always dressed, her hair done up, the house immaculate. It was structured chaos, where a cookout is just whatever happens.

I’m not saying the structure in any way diminished the good time. Boy, were those nights fun! They’d get louder and louder as the beers and cocktails flowed, and we’d dart in and out of the happy adults, even happier to be able to have fun with the other kids while the grown ups were distracted. And yes, these parties would have us running in the yard catching fireflies at some point like a goddamn Norman Rockwell painting. I said they were very classic American cookouts, and I wasn’t kidding.

And the food. THE FOOD. My gram was an amazing cook. She always put on a spread that was over the top, and yet, just right. And all of it was 50’s and 60’s party foods. Little meatballs on toothpicks, cream cheese stuffed celery, chips and dips, crackers and a cheese ball, the kind that’s covered in chopped nuts and is an unnatural red and orange belly bomb. Mmm. Salads. The salads! Regular tossed salad, of course, but also potato salad, jello-salad, pistachio salad, ambrosia…

The main course would be meat, chicken or steaks, that Grandpa would fuss over at the grill pit he built into their stone wall while the rest of the guys would mosey on over and give their unwanted input. I don’t remember ever eating a hot dog or a hamburger at one of their parties. If it was chicken, it got a good soak in Italian dressing before it hit the heat. If it was steak, it got a luxurious teriyaki marinade that was so good it is one of our Family Recipes.

Potatoes with sour cream. All the accouterments any classic housewife would have on the table, too. Pickles, in several varieties. Olives, green, of course, since they have the cute little pimento stuffing… There was no half-assing it with Grammie. When it came to food, it had to be done right. And in her mind, every party would be a raging success if the food was on point.

She wasn’t wrong.

Good food = good times.

“Uh, Bethie? You do realize that’s not the healthiest attitude about food.”

No. Don’t do that. Don’t you psychoanalyze my nostalgic trip brought on by warm weather, the sounds of the neighborhood I grew up in, and the fighting spirit of the lone peeper. Don’t you dare.

EVERY CULTURE EVER has epic food tied to their major celebrations. You want a good time? Feed people, throw on some music, and let the booze flow. While maybe it’s not the absolute healthiest attitude about food, it’s not the worst, is it? The worst has to be the comfort a quart of ice cream brings you when you eat it alone in a dark room while watching tv because you feel like a fat piece of shit so fuck it why not.

Gah. We got off track.

There is a trend right now to bring back those classic foods, and I’m all for it.

I want ambrosia salad.

All those foods, actually. Wouldn’t it be fun? I want to have fruit magically suspended in Jello. I want my kids to know the simple beauty of stuffed celery, and I even want them to experience the disappointingly fake taste of those cheese balls. I want them to romp around the back yard while steaks and chicken are tended by folks arguing about “one flip or two”, while a couple old ladies sit in lawn chairs drinking cocktails and being sassy.

And I want to do it right along with them.

The classic 50’s housewife trope sucks in almost every way. But they nailed the food. You gotta give ’em that. They nailed a summer evening with the ones they loved. I want to do that this summer.

I think I’ll skip the curlers and the shell of Aqua Net, though. Wouldn’t want to put on airs.

Thus concludes a Nostalgic Musing for Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Grammie’s teriyaki Marinade:

½ cup veg oil (original recipe is corn oil, I believe, but I use canola. Don’t use olive, as it’ll impart a flavor you don’t want)

½ cup soy sauce

1/3 cup packed DARK brown sugar

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp ground mustard

½ tsp secret ingredient

Pour over steaks that have been beaten or poked. (Yes, I know that it’s not food safety standards to poke the steaks. But I always poke ’em. What can I say. I live life on the edge. It’s up to you whether or not you want to walk the tightrope without a net like me.) Marinate in the fridge all day, flipping them around every couple hours. Cook steak on grill, pour marinade into small saucepan. Boil the marinade for 2 minutes to kill any bacteria and thicken, then pour over your baked potato. Trust me. Your mouth will be happy. But, once again, cook that shit. DO NOT use the marinade raw after meat has been soaking in it all day!

…and if you think I’m sharing the secret ingredient, you’re dreaming! It’s a family recipe. Duh. But, this will be a good base. Try different things and make it your own.

I’ve been hit by the pumpkin train…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Today is a day off. I had the opportunity to waste away in my bed until a gluttonous time of morning.

Unfortunately, Fuzzy McButtface didn’t get the “do not disturb” memo and jumped on my head at 4:53. Now, we have a tiny cat. Not viral-internet-meme small, but definitely petite. She never grew bigger than a teenage cat, and probably weighs around the 4 lb mark. Yet somehow, when waking me up is involved, she gains a good 20 lbs. I think she harnesses the power of her ancestors. Maybe she uses the Force?

I’m not going to lie…that would be pretty sweet if we had a cat that could use the Force. If only she’d turn away from the dark side…

I suppose it doesn’t matter how she does it. When she wants our attention, she becomes a Super Mario Thwomp. She’s a dick. And now I am awake on my supposed-to-be-lazy day.

It’s my first day off with my man in weeks. I’ve been off, and he’s been off, but we haven’t been off together. We were supposed to on this past Wednesday, but our boss decided to be a royal…

“BETHIE NO!!!”

…huh?

“This is the internet. DO NOT TALK SHIT ABOUT YOUR BOSS ON THE INTERNET!!!”

OH, riiiiight. Almost forgot there. Thanks for looking out for me!

Guess we’ll just make this internet friendly. Our boss decided to be a super silly billy and told my guy on Tuesday that he had to work Wednesday. I heard the news and said, “FUDGESICLES. She’s just telling you this NOW?? She a real kooky rapscallion!”

Speaking of work, we’re getting some new product recipes in for the season, and I just have to say to the world at large:

Stop putting pumpkin in everything.

Now, hold up a sec, because I am actually very pro-pumpkin. It’s a nutritious food that gets wasted in obscene quantities for the sake of decor while there are millions and millions of starving people. I’m glad folks are embracing it as a food.

However…

STOP PUTTING PUMPKIN IN EVERYTHING.

Lettuce is a well liked food. You don’t see lettuce shortcakes. There are no asparagus donuts. I don’t have to make tuna-spiced taffy apples.

People, you can like a thing without putting that thing into literally all of the other things. True story.

I’m not going to lie, some of the new stuff is good. The pumpkin donuts are actually the shit. The muffins…eh. They smell better than they taste, which is odd because you’d think a muffin would be a perfect pumpkin vessel. They just taste slightly cinnamony. Pumpkin pies, of course. Cookies.

Some things are good. And then, there’s a pumpkin shortcake. This is where things go awry in the bakery.

Yellow cake is split, and then pumpkin cream is piped on the bottom layer. Pumpkin cream seems to be mashed pumpkin mixed with pudding. It’s…odd. That’s the only word I can use to describe it. Odd. On top of the oddity of pumpkin cream is, essentially, pumpkin flavored Cool Whip. It’s not actually Cool Whip. Looks like Cool Whip, walks like Cool Whip, quacks like Cool Whip…isn’t actually Cool Whip.

…but it is.

After the not-Cool-Whip Cool Whip, the second cake layer is placed, with one more fancy swirly daub of whipped cool on top to jazz up the whole shebang.

Now, I’m sure some of you reading this are thinking, “Yum-o, Bethie. Sounds baller. What’s the prob?”

First off, you’re not young and hip. Stop trying to use the teen lingo. You’re doing it wrong and it hurts.

Second, none of those ingredients really add moisture. The reason a strawberry shortcake works is because the strawberries are in a sauce. That sauce keeps the cake from turning into sawdust in your mouth. The Pumpkin Abomination has no sauce. It’s pasty pumpkin mixed with gummy pudding on top of airy whipped topping.

I don’t know. I’ll have to see if they sell.

Scratch that…I’ll have to see if there are any repeat customers. That’ll tell me if they are a hit or just an orange pile of shit.

You know what I miss? Apples. Remember when apples were the bomb?

“Bethie, if I can’t use teen lingo, you can’t either.”

Fair enough.

Remember when apples were THE flavor of autumn? I miss apples. Can we bring them back?

…oooh, wait a sec. Can we bring them back next year? It’s a miserable year for apple growing up in my neck of the woods. In fact, my three big apple trees grew between them…two apples. No, not two bushels. Just two. Two apples. Reminds me of that old poem…

Way up high in the apple tree,

Two little apples, smiling at me.

I shook the tree as hard as I could…

And then a squirrel ate the apples because squirrels are assholes.

As you can see, I’ve updated the poem to reflect my own experiences.

It was a horrible year for growing any of my backyard treats. My rhubarb did squat, I got one sad little cup full of blackberries. Only one of the raspberry bushes yielded fruit, and the berries that did grow were small and hard even when ripe. But the apple trees, those were the biggest disappointment. Not even the crab apples grew.

In an ordinary year, I can get piles of rhubarb, gallons of berries, and at least two or three bushels of apples. It’s sad. My freezer will have no fresh applesauce and my jars will gather dust instead of jam. That’s going to be some interesting morning toast.

Mother Nature, get your shit together.

I read a study the other day that’s depressing if it’s true. You all know how I feel about bullshit science. The majority of these “studies” are just scientific click bait in order to get more funding while containing no real scientific merit. However, I’d be lying if I pretended that some of them weren’t interesting.

The study in question set out to discover why old people are lame and simultaneously unaware of their own lameness. This particular study focused on the arts.

Remember when you were a kid who just heard THE. BEST. NEW. SONG. EVER, a mind blowing experience that left your soul both shattered and whole all at once, and you HAD to share it with your Mum, because something so utterly profound could not be kept to just one teenager? You played it for her, hovering excitedly on the edge of your seat, feeling- no, LIVING– every single word, your heart beating with the chords, until you finally made it through the life-altering experience and waited with bated breath for Mum’s response to the majesty you just shared.

And what did Mum say? What did Mum say about the work of a singer who somehow looked into your depths and encapsulated all the beauty and nastiness you tried to bury in your hidden psyche? What did Mum say after you bore your very soul to her through art your own mortal mind couldn’t create?

“Eh. It’s okay.”

It’s.

Okay.

Was there ever a more crushing moment in your young life? How could Mum not be totally blown away by the Most Powerful Experience Ever? Was she really that out of touch? I mean, sure, she wore those awful cinched-waist jeans and socks with sandals, but there HAD to be SOME modicum of coolness somewhere in her. Was she really just too old to appreciate a new song?

Science says, “Yep.”

A recent study has shown that as people age, their acceptance of new works of art (in all forms, but specifically music) tends to drop off. We kind of knew that already. The reason behind it is what has me in the dumps. Research is strongly indicating that as the brain ages, it gets full, for lack of a better term. It reaches a point where it decides it has gathered enough new concepts and just wants to mull over its vast collection instead of acquire more.

And the very first section that closes itself off to the public? You guessed it. The centers for art appreciation.

What’s worse is that participants in the study overwhelmingly didn’t seem to be conscious of this happening. It wasn’t something in their control, nor was it something they even realized was going on. “Oh, sure, I LOVE new music!” they resoundingly said. However, when asked what the latest “new” song they enjoyed was, they listed music that was released up to thirty years before.

In their minds, that WAS new.

“But Bethie, people seek out new music all the time. Why, just the other day I caught myself singing along to the pop song my daughter likes.”

Ah, there ya go. You’re not gathering newness. Your environment is thrusting it upon you. You didn’t go seek out that new song. You didn’t search for something different. Your daughter played it in the periphery and it seeped into your consciousness.

What’s going to happen when your daughter gets old enough to move out? What’s going to happen to ME when my boys are all trying to pay their own mortgages and I’m kicking around the house with another old fogey? Will either of us even think to turn the radio to a station that plays new music? Or will my mind just gravitate toward the familiar??

Mental complacency. Has there ever been a more terrifying concept?

I don’t want my brain to be too full to appreciate new art. New music. New writing. I don’t want to just live with what I already know.

My dad never did. He was always into new music, even after we grew up and moved out. Maybe there’s hope for me. Maybe just knowing it’s a terrifying possibility will keep me from falling into mental solitary confinement.

And hey, if not, I suppose if the study is right, I won’t really be aware it’s happening. I won’t have any conscious appreciation of my mental depreciation. I won’t even get that I’ve shuttered the blinds and rejected the beauty of newness.

Somehow, that’s not really all that comforting.

I am making a vow right here, right now. When my grand kid comes to me with that excited look in his eye, when he says, “Grammie, you HAVE to hear this song. It’ll change your life,” I will force my old, wrinkled brain to perk up and pay attention. If I have to, I’ll intentionally forget something else to make room. I don’t need to know how heavy I’d be on Mars. That knowledge has been kicking around in my brain for no legitimate reason for far too long. I’m never going to use that info. I’ll forget that to make room for the beauty of a piece of new music that’s powerful enough to speak to the very soul of my grandson.

I really hope that’s a promise I keep.

Thus concludes a rambling Musing for Sunday, September 18, 2016. I’m going to cram some new music in my brain while I do housework this morning. I’m currently hooked on Ruth B, but am starting to feel a tad twenty one pilots. If you don’t know either, YouTube them. Stat. Let’s prove these “science” muthas wrong. Ruth B: Lost Boy twenty one pilots: Heathens

Do it.

And so, we meet again…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Pat Benatar is belting it out on the radio right now giving me the urge to snap my fingers and jerk my shoulder in a sassy fashion. I’m drinking my coffee tempered with chocolate milk this morning, the delicious result of my man’s store ordering way too much and having to sell it at half price just to clear the shelves…

*Top Tip: If your SO comes home with two gallons of chocolate milk, definitely add it to your morning coffee. I feel fancy. Like I’m drinking those International Cafe drinks the ads used to make seem so sexy. I’m still drinking it out of an old salsa jar, so not fancy fancy. I’m not letting it go to my head or anything. But I’m definitely feeling upper middle class redneck. Ooh la la. Maybe I’ll really treat myself and let Calgon take me away later.*

…and the pup is going to try it on Special K for breakfast. It’s going to be an icky weekend for me. I know this. However, I can’t fault the start. Perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.

So how’s it going?

I feel like I haven’t been on in ages. This week we had beautiful weather.

Let me clarify. It’s been March in NH beautiful. No Bermuda shorts and tank tops or anything, but it was perfect weather for working outside on the cars. I was doing repairs on two of them, and a mad-dash stripping parts out of another so we can get it out of here before the next one arrives.

*Important message: These are hoopdies I can make money off, folks, so don’t get the wrong idea. I know I already put on airs about my coffee, but let’s keep it all in perspective. Salsa. Jar. Coffee cup. We didn’t hit powerball. It’s not like I’m having to Tetris Lambos around Ferraris to fit them in the drive. We just got lucky and hit a string of rusty money makers.*

I was scrambling to get $$ off the parts car, stacking bits and doodads up like a pro. And then yesterday hit. We’ll call that chapter, “The Day of Reckoning,” in which our brave heroine literally becomes the victim of her own hoarding when parts go a’tumblin’ to and fro and on her foot.

“Oh, Bethie.”

Hey, in my own defense, we stripped out three cars over the winter. People don’t buy car parts for their projects until spring. I went into the deal knowing I’d just have to…uh…creatively stack the stuff. I knew space would get temporarily tight again.

A couple weeks ago, my man looked at the room and said, “We need one big tool chest instead of all these small ones.”

He was right, because we’ve got tools spread far and wide and it would be lovely to have them all in one location so every repair doesn’t turn into another round of “If I was a wire cutter, where would I be?” Don’t get me wrong. I like that game. I just get sick of playing it every fucking time.

Gets old.

The tool chest is a three part-er he got at one helluva deal from Harbor Freight. I don’t know how many of you use tools, but if you do and you don’t shop online at Harbor Freight, you’re missing out on sweet, sweet savings. Even with the shipping, the unit cost less than half of what it would have cost locally. Taking the price as a sign of organizational fate, he ordered it.

The Tool Chest of Awesomeness arrived.

It arrived before I could sell some parts.

It arrived amid the mess, sitting empty, eyeballing the piles of tools longingly.

“I can be so useful if you just let me,” The Tool Chest of Awesomeness said as I stood stirring regular milk into my coffee yesterday morning like some uncultured swine.

That combined with the alternator deciding to obey physics and crush my toe gave me a reality check. It was clear that I had to put the wrenches down for the day and dive into the hoard. The Tool Chest of Awesomeness is right…it CAN be useful. I would definitely have more usable space if I can get the other tool boxes out of the way. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

…and then rolled one sleeve back down to mop up my tears of helpless frustration a few hours later when it felt like nothing would ever be right in the world again.

I get overwhelmed, folks. I think it’s part of the hoarding deal. I reach a point where it honestly feels as if there is no hope. That point used to stop me.

Let’s be clear. That feeling, that brick wall, is not a matter of boredom. It’s not like I get halfway through an organizational project and am like, “Meh, screw it. I wanna go glitter something.” I mean, of course I *always* want to glitter something, but that’s not what stops me in a cleaning project. Glitter can wait.

No, in those moments, it’s not a matter of boredom, nor is it laziness. It’s a war inside, because I most definitely, absolutely want to finish the task. I just get an almost consuming feeling that I cannot do it. That I, personally, do not have the ability to put things in a sensical order and that I’m an idiot for even trying.

Like I said, that used to stop me. Now, if I’m working on my own, I step back, wipe my tears, and make a list.

*Sidenote to my big sister: Yeah, yeah…yuk it up You win. THIS TIME.*

I’ll write down the ideas, take a break, and wait until I can go over it with someone before continuing.

Yesterday I didn’t need the list because I had something better: The kids. The teens had no school, and the pup had a half day. Boy, are the kids good at talking me out of my own head. I called Teen Prime in when I started to feel like it was too much and I wasn’t enough and he knew what to say to keep me moving forward.

I just need to know in those moments that my idea will work, because my head tells me it won’t so loudly that I get muddled and can’t tell the difference. If I can tell someone else the plan and they think it’ll work, I get rejuvenated. I just need someone else to say, “I agree.”

“You just need to learn to tell yourself you can do it, Bethie.”

Dude, I just rolled my eyes so hard it put every teenage girl throughout history to shame.

See, that’s the thing, folks. If it’s not your issue, of course that’s what you think. Of course you look at me and say, “Just believe.” I’ve heard that over and over about all kinds of my, uh, we’ll call them “quirks”. “If you just…” “You don’t need someone else to validate…” “You need to love you and embrace your inner power and trust in your feministic magic vagina yadda yadda yadda blah blah…”

GAH ENOUGH!!!

Yes. I *should* be able to know that I can clean a fucking room, for gawd’s sake. I mean, it’s just a room. It’s stuff. Put it in stacks that make sense, throw out what I don’t use, and move on. It doesn’t have to be such a goddamn ordeal.

But it is.

That’s how my head works. Logically I agree 100% that it’s “just” and I “should”. Thinking about the car work I did this week, all of it is arguably much more difficult on the skill scale. Don’t take this the wrong way, but can you weld a cracked door panel back together without warping it when the break goes through not one, but two critical bolt holes? Because I did. I didn’t even think twice before diving into the job, either. I saw the crack, got out the welding supplies, and went for it.

Yet, I see a messy room and it’s like I’ve been dumped into the middle of someone’s brain surgery, handed a scalpel, and told, “You’re his only chance now. Don’t fuck this up.”

Don’t you have those “things”? Isn’t there something you look at another person doing and think jealously to yourself, “It looks so easy. WHY can’t I do that?”

So no, I’m not enough to be my own pep-talker. Maybe someday it’ll be easier for me, and I will be enough to talk myself out of that rut. For now, I need an “attaboy” from another source. At least I understand and accept that. At least I figured out how to work with what I’ve got, not just wish for something different.

Have you had enough of my personal psychoanalysis? Yeah, me too. Let’s get back on track.

Anyway, I got a good chunk done yesterday. Today is going to be jam packed, but this evening I should be able to finish up with the parts organizing and get to where I can roll out all the other tool boxes and fill the new Tool Chest of Awesomeness.

I can’t wait to get that puppy all set up. I get to use a label maker for its intended purpose, not just to annoy the kids by labeling all of their stuff. I mean, I’m still going to do that, too. How else would they know a pencil is a pencil? But I finally have something that actually requires legit labeling.

Pat Benatar was a fluke. The radio station went to something very Bieber-esque, so I decided to switch to the pc and Sia is now blasting through my headphones. Fire is meeting gasoline right now and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s getting me pumped. That’s a good thing. I need to be jazzed right now.

Sia. Fancy coffee. Tool Chest of Awesomeness. A label maker locked and loaded. And you putting up with my shit for awhile to help me clear my head.

Okay then. *deep breath* Unto the breach!

Thus concludes an emo Musing for Saturday, March 19, 2016. *clickity click* Hear that? I just made a label that says, “fancy milk.” …what? I have to warm up the label maker somehow.

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably just the illuminati screwing with you.

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Holy mamajama am I awake. Maxwell House was on sale. I hate Maxwell House, but it was on sale. Sale trumps taste buds every time. We decided to give it another chance, so we picked up a blend called “Smooth Bold.” It was half right. Hooo baby is this shit strong. You ever feel your heartbeat in your eyeballs?

Go ahead and grab a cup, but please use the spare high test ceramic crucible today. I don’t think the titanium one I normally provide will withstand this kind of abuse.

You know, now that I’m used to it, the twitchy beat in my vision is kind of soothing. *siiiip* *spasm* *slight frying sound* Yeah. I can dig it.

Hey, guess what I got?

No, really. Guess.

Come on. It’s no fun if you don’t play along. I’ll help you out with a hint: It doesn’t rhyme with “turtle shell.”

…nothing? *sigh* Fine. I’ll just tell you, killjoy.

I got my new computer parts! They’re right over that way *nods right* and if you could see them, you’d be oohing and ahhing. We started light and just replaced the most likely culprits. So far so good, though, and I’m hoping we eenie meenie-d correctly. I haven’t crashed once this morning, knock wood. The old beast has life in her once again!

So what’s new? I feel like I haven’t done this in ages. It’s been kind of a clusterfuck around here. I had a mad dash to get two cars stripped of parts so we could get them to the scrap yard. Did you know that mixed scrap is going for less than $50/ton right now?? Oy. I wish I had pulled MORE parts off since the weight didn’t matter all that much.

Anyway, after they were pulled, I spent a few days getting all the tidbits cleaned and ready to photograph for the eBay spread. It’s hard to make a CCU box look sexy and alluring, but I’mma do my best.

Hmmm…..I wonder if draping a feather boa over it would sell it faster? I said I want the parts to look sexy and alluring to be cheeky, but now I am legitimately curious. Think I’m on to something?

The hardest thing about selling used car parts on eBay is taking pictures that make them stand out in the crowd. Think anyone has ever tried the sexy angle? Lusty feather boa for the CCU. Flirty Mardi Gras mask for the uncracked and unfaded OEM MBZ-tex visor set (buy it now for only $75! Wow what a steal!) to give them that “come hither” look. I could stick fake lashes on the tail lights…but come on. They’re TAIL LIGHTS. Nothing more needed to make those babies break the internet. Hubba hubba.

*strokes beard in contemplation* I bet they would sell better. Hm…Sounds crazy.

“IS crazy, Bethie.”

Potato, potahto.

Anyway, if I decide to stage a glamour shoot for sexy car parts, I’ll be sure to let you know, perv.

Aside from car stuff, there’s been kid stuff, life stuff, and house stuff. Kid stuff can be nutshelled: pup won an M&M guessing contest, and teens are growing up WAY too fast. Life stuff…nah. We’ll ignore it and hope it goes away. That’s my go-to plan, and it’s been working for 37 years, albeit with varying levels of success. I see no reason to mix it up now. The house stuff is a same-story-different-broken-oven-handle kind of deal.

So, what do we do when we want to gab but don’t really want to get into anything real, serious, or really, seriously boring? Why, we search the internet news sites to see if anything fun, stupid, or silly pops out at us, of course!

Ladies, if you would take the stage. Michaneaux, you ready? (He’s our guest conductor. Doesn’t speak much English, but he can count the band into a catchy theme song like a mofo.) Then drop the balloons and shoot off the confetti cannon, because it’s time for a…

* * * HEADLINE ROUNDUP !!! * * *

*wild applause* See? See what I mean about Michaneaux? Not a single trumpet player lagged on the crescendo, and you know how much skill THAT takes! It’s like trying to wrangle cats! Well done! Bravo!

Wow. With a start like that, how can this be anything but amazingly fun? Regulars know the routine. For any newbs, a Roundup happens when I want to gab, quip, or be snarky. I scour the internet news sites for headlines that jump out at me. Some are bad. Some are stupid. Some are just plain funny. I round them up and present them here for your amusement. These headlines are 100% real. I just add the commentary.

Shall we begin?

– GoFundMe Campaign to Help Kanye Out Of His Debt

If you donate, I will never speak to you again. I mean it. That’s my no give.

– Hockey Player Penalized for Ridiculous Flop

As well he should be! There was no style, no flair, no pizzazz. If you’re going to fake an injury, at least put some heart into it.

– North Korea’s Girl Band is Back, Celebrating Rocket Launch

I wonder if they all tripped and fell in a pile of failure when they tried to begin their routine. You know, keeping with the theme and all.

– Conspiracy Theories Swirl Around Justice Scalia’s Death

Say, remember when conspiracy theories were fun? Or at least a little plausible?? Gawd I miss the 90s.

– Val Kilmer Spotted Without Breathing Aid Amid Health Rumors

Watch it, Val. They’re gunna git you next! #fuckinilluminati,man

– Which Candidates Scare Americans the Most?

At this point, I’d say damn near all of them.

– “Monkey” Spotted Sitting Atop Rocks on Mars

90s flashback!! Yay!! Okay, let’s play along. Was it a macaque? No! I got it. Spider monkey. Right? #we’reontoyouNASA

– Obama: “I Intend to Do My Job. I Expect [Senators] To Do Theirs As Well.”

BOOM. Argue it, GOP.

– Teen Accused of Running Fake Medical Practice

I’m torn. I know it’s bad. Bad, Doogie. Bad. But, admit it. You sort of think anyone who fell for it kind of deserved what they got, too, don’t you?

– 100-million Year Old Ant Fight Preserved in Amber

If you didn’t instantly picture these ants in full armor with the score from 300 playing in the background, then I don’t know if our friendship can last.

– Police: Japanese Mom Made Teen Eat 30 Pet Goldfish

Forget “helicopter parenting” or being a “tiger mom.” The parenting style for the new age is Spetsnazing. Make sure you force your kids to name their pets before eating them, or else you’re totally disrespecting the spirit of the movement.

– FBI Finds Trench of Human Feces at Cultural Site of Oregon Standoff

In fairness, where did you want them to shit? Of all the available choices, in a trench away from the artifacts was probably more than you should have expected.

– Americans Divided on Military, New Poll Shows

Old poll shows, ALL polls have EVER shown. Why is this news?

– The Parmesan You Sprinkle on Your Penne Could Be Wood

The first line of the article is, “The cheese police are on the case.” I didn’t read any further. It was perfect with that one sentence.

– The Army’s Runaway Blimp Escaped Due to…Dead Batteries

I clicked on the link only to get bummed out when I saw no one had photoshopped an Energizer Bunny onto the pic yet. I’m disappointed in you, internet. I expected more.

– German Shorthaired Pointer Wins 140th Westminster

I’m sure that trophy will be a comfort to the dog when he’s suffering and bedridden at a young age due to the chronic health conditions from inbreeding. His hips might already be giving out, but hey…didn’t his nose look perfect.

– Trump Is A ——-: Candidate Plays Fill-in-the-blanks With Voters

Too easy. Writes itself. Pass.

– An Underground Fire Burns Next To Toxic Waste…Don’t Worry, Says EPA

Conspiracy friends, HOW can you possibly have time to make shit up about Scalia when THIS IS ACUTALLY HAPPENING?? Why, with just a little effort, this can be Obama’s fault, too! Do you even want to be credible anymore? It’s like you’re not even trying.

– Eagles of Deathmetal Performs in Paris for Attack Survivors

Seriously? Haven’t those poor folks been through enough already?

– Jesus Does Not Want You To Be Hit Men, Pope Tells Mexican Youth

This pontiff sure doesn’t shy away from setting new Vatican policy, does he?

– Inmates Develop Passion Through Photo Class

Uh, what kind of photos you takin’ over there?

– Cops: Wife Beat Man With Bat Over Lack of Valentine’s Present

With such a kind and loving disposition as she clearly has, I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t get her a gift.

– American Army Develops Pizza That Can Last Over 3 Years

And folks say American ingenuity is dead. Pfft.

– Where Does Clicking On TedCruzForAmerica.com Take You?

Canada.

– Where Does Clicking On TedCruzForAmerica.com Take You?

AW SNAP! I said that for a joke, but…it does! It takes you to a pro-Canadian Immigration page! Faith in the internet RESTORED!

– Clinton’s Candidacy Reveals Generational Schism Among Women

Actually a really good article with surprisingly astute analysis. However, this is the internet, so I think I have to throw out a passive aggressive sarcastic “schism? Uh, next time a TRIGGER WARNING would be nice!” quip. You understand.

– Rapper Killer Mike Faces Flak for Comment At Sanders Rally

He said that “a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president,” and a few Twitholes flipped their shit. He’s right, though. No one should be elected because of the type of reproductive organs they’ve got. Period. …or no period.

– Cruz: No Gluten-free MREs For the Troops

That’s what you’re going with, Ted? That’s the straw you’re grasping to try and save your campaign?

– The Best AI Still Flunks 8th Grade Science

Dude, do you have any idea how long it took to invent pizza that will last three years?! Some projects are simply more important than others, and when dealing with a tight budget, sacrifices have to be made. In the future when you don’t yet have a functional AI life assistant, BUT can still eat that leftover pizza you forgot about in the back of the fridge for a year and a half, you’ll see it was money well spent.

– DICE Summit a Chance For Game Creators to Refresh, Reflect

Gaming now has corporate team building conferences. *heavy sigh of defeat* Let the sadness sink in.

– Now Children Can Print Their Own Toys Thanks to Mattel ThingMaker 3D Printer

My birthday is in April. If you order now, there’s plenty of time for shipping. Just sayin’.

– The First TEDx Talk Is Happening On A Plane, But You Weren’t Invited

Wow, it’s like prom all over again.

– Three Reasons Why Your Cybersecurity Plan Needs Revised

What cycbersecurity plan?… But that’s not my real problem with this headline. Is this a British thing? Ignoring “to be”? “Your cybersecurity plan needs revised.” It reads like a robot, which we know is silly because they’re not even as advanced as 8th graders yet and wouldn’t care a whit about something as adult and boring as cybersecurity. The trend seems to be popping up all over the news sites. What’s the matter with “to be?” Why leave it out? What did “to be” ever do to you!?

– The Men Who Stare At Laundry

Men? What men? Who are these men? Why are they staring at laundry? Whose laundry is it? Is it mine? It’s mine, right? Are they going to steal my panties out of the dryer again!? GODDAMN IT FRED.

– Just 2 Protesters Show Up for Anti-Beyonce Rally

I know it’s not nice, but I love a failed protest. Can’t help it. Imagine those sad social justice warriors waving their floppy little banners while literally everyone else did not give a damn. Heh heh. Warms the cockles.

– Service Puppy Meets Pluto and Can’t Believe It

“Are you shitting me with this crap? It’s a man in a fucking suit. I’m a dog, not a moron.”

– Woman Did the Most Bizarre Thing With Her Passport

Aaaannnnd we’re done. That’s it. Pack up. Go home.

“Aw, but Bethie…”

NO. This is the internet. You know where this is going. I know where this is going. And once it’s taken that turn, there’s no coming back to decency and honor. I’m sorry, but instead of wallowing in the gutter, I’m just going to have to call this one.

Don’t blame me. Blame Obama.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Wednesday, February 17, 2016. I’m off to go take pictures of the car parts like one of my French girls. Should I go modern, with 3D, or keep it classic with the hazy filter? You know what? I’mma just be in the moment and see what happens. That’s art, baby.

Oh, the electronics I’ve fried…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

Boy, has it been awhile or what? We had happenings, folks. HAPPENINGS. And they have royally messed with my Joyous January plans. I’m hoping to get through this without smashing the computer, but after the hell this beast has put me through…

Hang on. I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

It was a dark and drizzly morning in early April, one of those days that carries on the winds a feeling of importance, as if the very air itself knew that a pivotal moment of beginning was about to occur. A twinge, a spasm, a gripping pain seared through a woman’s belly, the lone harbinger of…

“Oh dear lord, Bethie. Are you talking about the day you were born?”

…too far back? Hm. Yeah…I can see it now. You’re right. That’s probably a little too far back for this story. Fastforward almost 37 years…

THIS story began on a cold day in January, just a few weeks ago. The breeze carried with it not a sense of importance so much as a tangible fear of frostbite…or, at the least, the slight worry of chilly tootsies.

It was a busy day mostly spent on the go, but I had a half hour before I had to leave to get the youngest pup from school, and a granny square was just itchin’ to be finished. I popped a butterscotch into my mouth, turned on The People’s Court, sat on the couch, grabbed up my crochet, and got to work. I was only a few stitches in when I shivered. Fortunately, we have a cute little faux fireplace heater we got at a great bargain (no, really, half price! Can you believe it? I told Mabel she really MUST get one herself, but you know Mabel. Course, she got that oil radiator ten years ago and is still going on and on about how great the heat distribution is. I suppose I can’t blame her. Look at her husband. I’m not one for gossip, but if I had to choose between the oil radiator and Hank to keep me warm at night, it’s the radiator. How they ever managed to have children is beyond me. The man is an utter pill, not that Mabel ever turned heads on the dance floor herself…)

*Author’s note: I felt that since I was already sucking a hard candy, sitting down to watch The damn People’s fuckin’ Court, and crocheting a granny square, I should just give up and BE an old lady for awhile. Just seeing what’s coming down the pike for me in a couple decades. I can live with it. Back to current events…*

I reached over to turn on the heater and unwittingly set off the Electric Apocalypse of ’16. As soon as my finger hit the “on” switch, everything stopped.

Long and short, our ancient circuit box quit, melting the main circuit breaker switch. If the burnt, melted, and RUSTED wires are any indication, it had been going for awhile.

Because the thing is old enough to have a calligraphied paper label hand-pasted inside, we could not find a new part to fit. The unHandyman that Landlord uses (longtime readers remember both Landlord and unHandy-handyman) got a part from a “guy” in a parking lot.

I shit you not.

He couldn’t find the part, got talking to a guy in the aisle of a hardware store, and met up with him in a shady parking lot to buy a couple questionably legal parts. You have no idea how badly I want to believe they had code words for this illicit electrical transaction.

When he got back here with parts in hand, one was rusted, one was slightly less rusted. unHandyman honestly seemed confused as to why we selected the less rusted part. He said, “But this is probably an original.”

Now folks, you weren’t here, but I can assure you that when he said, “an original,” what he meant was THE original. As in, the very first circuit breaker ever. I was positive the Smithsonian would like to have it back, so we chose the seventy year old after-market part instead. I know that not having a parts-matching circuit panel probably devalues it for collectors, but I’m one of those crazy folks who believes in actually USING electricity in the house. I’m just zany like that.

Before he installed it, a couple things happened…

My bathroom is off my kitchen. It’s small, with no windows. As we had no power, I had a lantern in there so people could see when they needed to use the bathroom. We three, unHandyman, my man, and I were in the kitchen insisting the less cruddy part was our choice. unHandyman said he’d install it after he “takes a pee.” He then proceeded to walk into the bathroom and start peeing. Right there. Not five feet away. DOOR OPEN.

He’s a groaner when he pees.

There is no reason in the world I should know that.

I said, “Uh, there’s a lantern right there…” He says, “Nah, there’s plenty of light.”

With the door open. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

The other thing that happened was that my man actually had to convince unHandyman to shut off the main power into the house before he did the job.

The main power lines were hot. They were not the problem. It was the breaker the thrumming, humming electric wires screwed into that was bad. Think about that for a sec. Let the idiocy sink in. The dude was actually, legitimately, 100% planning on taking his metal screw driver and unscrewing the hot, fully functional power lines. He needed convincing NOT to do this.

His plan to keep safe? He was going to “not slip” with the screwdriver, and make sure to grab the part of the wire where the insulation hadn’t completely melted off to steady it all.

I…I just…*blink* I mean, there are no words, right?

We were without power for about 24 hours. Not too bad considering unHandyman had to slip seamlessly into the seedy underworld of black market circuit breakers to get the job done. The lights are on. The after effects, however, continue.

The Surge, as it will now be called for the rest of all time, fried our computer. Blitzed the power supply and fried the hard drive. And before you say anything snarky, we DID have a surge protector. A super fancy one, actually. It did nuthin’. NUTHIN’. So annoyed with CyberPower right now.

Yes, I specifically called out the brand. We paid a mint for that because my computer is so important to me. And YOUR product is SHIT, CyberPower.

“Uh, Bethie? Shouldn’t you be pissed at Landlords instead?”

Oh worry not, mon ami. There’s enough ire to go around! I just wanted to give my own product review of CyberPower’s fancy schmancy surge protectors. They’re utterly useless. Don’t buy one. Don’t let your friends accidentally buy one. A dollar store hunka would have done the exact same job.

Anyway, The Surge took down my beastie. It’s limping along now. At first, we thought it was just the power supply and hard drive that took the brunt of the meltdown. Now, though, it seems to be randomly having USB problems and freezing/crashing the computer. I keep tweaking things in the BIOS, and today is the very first day I’ve been able to use this writing program for more than five minutes straight. Some things work flawlessly, though, complex programs you’d think would crash. It’s making it very hard to determine which part is still flaking. It’s vexing.

I am vexed.

We’ll get it figured out. Worst case at this point already happened, right? I lost my hard drive.

Now, I’m not an idiot. I did a full backup on an external drive not that long ago of my documents, music, and pictures. I didn’t, however, save the marathon writing session I was in the middle of when The Surge happened. I had revised a book I was working on and added…god…I dunno, at least 60 pages, maybe more. I was in a writing frenzy and didn’t back that up.

I also lost old emails. I could never figure out how to save them.

…okay, in fairness, that’s on me. When the pc wouldn’t just let me copy them to the drive, I said, “Eh, I’ll figure it out later…” and didn’t. That’s on me. I get it.

But all my emails. *heavy sigh*

I’m a hoarder, right? I mean, I’ve touched on it before that I don’t just hoard things. I hoard songs. I obsessively listen to them over and over. I’ll “hoard” a painting or piece of art I like. I’ll look at it…not just look, but feel a compulsion to stop and seek it out throughout the day, no matter what else I’m doing. Maybe it’s all part of hoarding emotions. I dunno. I don’t get paid enough to be my own therapist. And I hoard emails. I keep every correspondence from a friend or family member.

I mean, ALL of them.

Even the stupid ones. Even the links to dumb shit I’ll never actually look at again. Even the ones that piss me off or hurt my feelings. Especially the ones that make me laugh, or give me a feeling of being around that person, no matter how many miles or metaphysical planes may separate us.

I can replace the other things. Hell, I even have a “it wasn’t meant to be” attitude about the writing I lost. Maybe the cosmos thought the book sucked. I’m actually not that bummed out about losing that. But my connection to folks that are now forever in my past…that has been very hard.

I’ve got the dead drive in my drawer. The thing won’t even spin. Utter destruction on the circuit board. Physically fried. I can’t get power to it. I can’t even trick it into working when hooked up to another system. I don’t have the skills to digitally ninja that shit. So it’s in my drawer. Maybe someday the technology will exist for me to breathe life back into those files. My junk drawer is the cryogenic chamber, my hard drive is Disney’s head.

*Author’s note: Yeah, yeah, I know. But it’s such a fun and horrifying urban legend, why not use it?

That’s the skinny on The Surge and all the frustration that has happened since. Putting in a new main breaker was just a stop-gap. The whole things needs to be readdressed when warmer weather hits. If the main was so bad, you know the rest can’t be faring much better.

What should happen come spring is the complete replacement of all the wiring in the house. What actually will happen is another trip down in our scary-beyond-all-reason cellar with electrical tape to wrap everything we can reach. I mean, rust can only hold wires together so long before it crumbles, right?

Hey, on the plus, I now have an “in” with the black market circuit panel parts dealers in the area. Didn’t have that before. I think I’ll start calling them the Voltaic Underground. When I need a part, I’ll shine a lightning bolt symbol into the clouds. Maybe they’ll let me make t-shirts.

“Slow down, Bethie. No one likes it when a newbie comes into the group and starts trying to run the show.”

…fair enough. I don’t wanna Yoko the Voltaic Underground. If I piss them off, what will I do for the next Surge?

Still, I now know they are there if I need them. It’s a small comfort, but it looks like that’s the only one I’m going to get out of this experience.

Eh. I’ll take it.

Thus concludes a Musing for Saturday, January 23, 2016. I got through this entire thing without crashing! I hung for a minute, swore, and scared it back into motion. Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I’m treating this beast with kid gloves when I should be yelling and threatening like I do with my cars. In that case, I better whip out my best old timey sailor impression while I try to upload…apologies if it gets a little salty in here…

Another year without a nuclear meltdown has got to be making them rethink the calendars…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

We done went and had ourselves a bit of winter this week. It was sleeting so hard that when I got up the other day that it sounded like a pipe had broken. I had a momentary flashback to last years’ Pipes of Hell winter production before I got a grip and realized that it was a balmy 30 degrees, and the water was coming down from above, not up from below.

I took a look outside. A couple inches of snow, then ice pellets as far as the eye could see. What an awful mess! Fortunately for us, no one had anywhere they needed to go. Kids were home from school, man was home from work. There wasn’t a single reason any of us had to go out.

So of course we went out.

…what? Oh come on. It’s a New England tradition. The plows had already come through, so we weren’t clogging up the roads and getting in their way, and there was almost no traffic. As soon as you can, you get in your car and chug the mile to the local grocery store to make sure every other redneck congregated there still agrees with your assessment that winter is wicked fahkin’ shitty. It’s just what you do. I don’t make the rules, people.

Besides, we were low on milk. Not quite out, but low enough that the morning joe would be tan, not khaki. Couldn’t have that first world problem, now could I? I mean, I chipped a nail this week, too. There’s only so much one person can take.

We’re halfway through the kids’ holiday break. For the most part, it’s been pretty smooth. They needed to clean their rooms to make space for fresh inventory after Christmas. I remember when that meant they played with the rediscovered toys while I sat buried under the heaps of long forgotten treasures, desperately trying to throw out the crap that the kids only suddenly NEEDED because it was time for it to go.

Now, even the littlest pup is old enough to mostly guide himself in cleaning.

I’m not saying I don’t have a couple in the litter who show the same hoarding tendencies I possess. Sometimes I’ll catch the pup sneaking a broken toy under the bed. “What’s that?” I’ll say. “I can fix it,” he’ll protest. “Put it in the trash before you end up with an hour long TLC special,” I’ll tell him, carefully creasing my brow in practiced parental consternation.

Aside from cleaning, it’s been mellow and game-filled. They are my little flock of geeks and got some cool games for Christmas. And while they got out and played before the shit weather rolled in, I can’t say any of them seemed the least bit disappointed to discover that Mother Nature made sure their time was free for digital adventuring.

Pokemons explored caves. Isaacs were…bound? I’m sorry, I don’t really know how that game works. Brain puzzles were solved, and, if the excited tittering wafting from the teen lair was any indication, large battleships were thwarted.

Looks like they’ll have that same kind of morning again today, at least. It’s raining and the snow/ice is getting a fresh, glossy glaze. Hey, I suppose I can’t complain. I mean, it’s the first real sign of winter, and it’s almost 2016.

Can you believe it? Another year out. Pfft, just like that. Seems like I cracked open my free 2015 calendar the nuclear power plant sends to all the folks that live in the potential fallout zone just yesterday.

…true story. Got next year’s unusual bribe all ready to hang in the morning. If the plant ever blows, at least I’ll have the warm memories of all the free calendars they sent over the years to temper my anger at their incompetence and give me comfort. Well, the warm memories and the literal warmth of the radiation…

It’s that time of year again when we look back and reflect on the old shitstorm we’re leaving behind before our hungover asses wake up to the first misting sprays of the new one. Everyone’s recapping the year as only the internet can.

Most sites are linking their favorite lists by category. The news this year was, by and large, fairly bleak. I’m looking through these lists of murders and scandals and jihads and arrests and it’s depressing as hell. There was a link on MSN to the “20 Cutest Internet Cats of 2015.” I was thinking that would take the sting off the hell hole we’re in and clicked on it. True to their word, some of the kitties really did have squiffy wiffy faces. I was feeling more positive until I clicked on the last cat. The last cat on the list looked like Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is now ruining the palate-cleansing ability of internet kittehs. Screw you, Donald Trump. #generalmessageof2015

Then there are the usual lists of celebrity lives that ended in the course of the year. The entertainment sections have lists of actors and singers that shuffled off this mortal coil. The sports section listed “7 Sports Heroes You’ll Miss Next Year.” What a set up articles like that are. I didn’t even know these people existed until you told me, and then as soon as I find out about them, you tell me they died. I was in a world of blissful ignorance before. Any emptiness and loss I now feel for heroes I will never get to know is completely your fault, sports writers. Screw you, too.

Science and tech sections also have their loss articles, but no one reads them. I think that’s probably sadder than the fabricated depression from the sports writers. This keyboard I’m typing on could have been invented by someone who died this year, and I’ll never know. I mean, I *could* know, I guess. I just won’t.

Hey, at least I’m honest.

Aside from the news bits, many of the lists on the internet are sponsored. “Top 20 Hairstyles of 2015,” brought to you by Wen hair care. Just guessing here, but I think these styles are going to be held in place with Wen’s Dr. MacGuillicuddy Formula Super Shiny Impossible-to-Muss All Purpose Hair Shellac Elixir and Floor Polish. They’re also linking their least favorite lists. “Worst Hairstyles in 2015.” Looks like there are many folks out there who didn’t buy Wen. Tighten that shit up in 2016, folks. Just call Wen and ask for “magic hair beans.” They’ll know what you’re talking about.

Here’s a good one. “50 of the Best Cars of 2015.” How about, “80 Great Breakfasts to Start off the New Year.” This is one you cannot miss: “101 Life Hacks We Learned in 2015.”

It cracks me up when I see lists like this. 50 Best Cars…so, like…ALL the cars of 2015, then? I think they just try to one up each other. I think the folks at BuzzFeed brainstorm or interface or idea-share or whatever they call it to try and come up with a list that cannot be topped.

“Let’s see if we can think of a list that will dwarf all other lists,” some asshole in an ill-fitting plaid shirt says as he pushes thick-framed, lensless glasses up his nose.

Stanley gulps, though whether because of genuine panic or simply discomfort the starched bow tie pressing against his Adam’s apple creates is undetermined. “Dave,” he rasps. “You’re talking about…the Golden List.”

The group gasps as one, but Dave is undeterred. He holds up a perfectly manicured hand, mostly to flash the sweet 1986 Casio calculator watch he found at a yardsale that sometimes even works, and the group stills. “Yes.”

The one word gets the hipsters riled enough to forget their corporate catchphrases. “That’s fucking nuts!” someone shouts. “It’s a pipe dream, Dave!” says another.

“This is it,” Dave shouts above the din of the crowd. Everyone settles back down. “I said it in January and I meant it. This is OUR year. We’re not leaving this office until we finally do it. I want everyone to network and give each other input and no one is leaving until we come away with the Golden List.”

Stanley hitches up his high waisted acid washed jeans he’s totally wearing ironically, duh, and takes a deep breath. “You do know that’s the top, right? That’s the pinnacle. If we create the world’s most comprehensive list, it’s all downhill from there. We’ll never be able to beat it.”

Dave removes the annoying empty frames, stares long and hard at his expectant hispt-herd, and finally utters, “Then we go out in a blaze of glory, my friends. Who’s with me?”

50 cars. 80 breakfasts. 101 life hacks… I tried to do a Google search for “longest compilation lists,” “longest year end wrap up lists,” and “longest dumb lists of shit that happened in 2015,” but I simply confused the Google Overlords. They still think I want a list of armed conflicts near large rivers. Should make my autofill even more interesting next time.

Things happened this year. More things did not. We were great at realizing problems, but really shitty at fixing them. We’ve got to work on that in 2016. We’ve had some deaths, some more personal than others, and some births. Folks set records, smashed records, invented records, and some even recorded records, though they won’t just call them “records” anymore and that’s super annoying. There was a lot to 2015.

I look back on the news, the media, the trends and stories and pop culture ebbs and flows. What do I want to talk about in terms of the year we’re leaving behind? I have spent the year blogging. I got most of it out of my system when it happened. Something grabbed my attention, I hopped on and “Mornin’ all-ed”, and walked away feeling lighter and freer. I generally don’t need to recap, since it’s all archived and anyone is free to look back on their own if they want.

However, there is something nagging me that I need to get off my chest before I can move forward. Somehow I missed the news when it came out, and then it became awkward to talk about apropos of nothing. But that’s what year end round ups are for, right? It’s a time to have one last chance to air your grievances before you close the calendar, throw it away, and start fresh.

With that in mind, here’s Bethie’s Huge Annoyance of 2015. I’m not even going to try and compete for the Golden List award. It’s really simple. Just one thing.

This:

hoverboard

THIS IS NOT A HOVERBOARD!!! It doesn’t hover. It doesn’t even come CLOSE to hovering. It’s on GODDAMN WHEELS for crying out loud. It’s AT BEST a crooked skateboard. It’s not innovative. It’s not the “future”. It’s just a board with spinny wheels on it. WHEELS. No hovering capabilities whatsoever. The emperor is naked and it’s time someone stood up and said something.

STOP CALLING IT A FUCKING HOVERBOARD!!!!! GAAAHHH!!!!

*exhausted panting* *deep breath* *slicks back crazy wayward lock of hair* *clears throat*

There. NOW I’m ready for 2016.

Thus concludes the last Musing for 2015. I say this every year, and every year some dope ignores the good advice. If you want to usher in 2016 by getting utterly shit faced, cheers! Now, grab a couch. A floor. Be the huddled mass in the bathtub moaning all night. Whatever you do, DON’T DRIVE AFTER YOU DRINK!! Any is too many. I hope everyone gets to wake up tomorrow morning with a headache, cotton mouth, and a nagging suspicion that the lampshade and goat weren’t actually a dream…

If you snooze, you Cruz…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

So my cat decided I was a pin cushion in the night. I honestly don’t know what the hell. My first thought was, “Did Timmy fall down that goddamn well again? Because I swear, if that little asshole didn’t learn to stay away from abandoned wells by now…”

But then I woke up enough to realize that the world around me was in color, I don’t even have a Timmy, and cats are just dicks.

She looked at me with big owl eyes. I looked at her with eyes that could not have been so cute and inviting. She blinked. I refused to blink back, the ultimate snub in the world of cats. She slowly withdrew her paw and tiptoed out of my room.

There was nothing amiss when I got up. She didn’t even have a toilet paper shredding party she wanted to show me. I think she was just bored and wanted to wake someone up. There are four children in this house…why you gotta pick ME?

Speaking of children…

My heart is in a state of melancholy today. I had the Santa talk with the Little Pup last night.

Oh shit. Hang on. Uh…spoiler alert. If you still hold on to the magical belief in a gift-bearing chimney sweep and his mystical flying cervine, then perhaps you should skip the next few paragraphs. I’m not judging you at all and there will be no weirdness between us when you return. Just look for the * and you’ll know to pick up where this leaves off…

For everyone else: We were sitting on the couch trying to fold construction paper circles into sixths to make snowflakes (top tip: dollar store construction paper folds like shit. I mean, in hindsight, that should probably go without saying, huh?) and he said, “Hey, do you believe in Santa, Mum?”

Every parent who’s perpetuated a nine year con knows the icy panic of this moment. The instant sweat on their brow, their minds making the cartoon “hummina hummina hummina,” the struggle to think of what to say. When Teen Prime was not so teen-like and approached me with the same general idea, I had days of anxiety after wondering if I handled things properly.

However, Little Pup is the fourth kid I’ve crushed with the truth, so I’ve got it down pat. I said, “Do YOU believe in Santa?” Because if your child still believes, and you’re like, “Shit no! Santa? Why the hell would I believe in THAT?” well, then, you are an asshole and you better start a collection jar for your child’s future therapy. No, you have to feel the kid out. Each kid is different. Some kids need to hold on to Santa just one more year, ya know? And some kids are ready, and need to know that you’re not going to lie when they point-blank you a question.

Little Pup clearly didn’t believe. He had that look in his eye when he said, “Well, I want to believe in Santa. Some of my friends don’t. And you did have all those fuzzy dice on your Amazon watch list.”

…yeah, okay. My bad. A couple years back he asked Santa for fuzzy dice. You know, the kind that dangle from rear view mirrors in bad 70s movies. Why? Who knows? He’s a little boy. You can’t try to apply logic or reason. Anyway, Santa found an incredible deal on a CASE of fuzzy dice. Apparently, Santa forgot that little snoops look over shoulders, and that Amazon does a real shitty job of helping you hide secrets. THANKS Amazon.

I gave him my practiced spiel, how parents perpetuate the Santa legend to teach kids the spirit of giving and to help the holiday feel magic yada yada. He took it very well. I mean, guys, he’s 9. And he’s got older brothers. I made sure to tell him that he now knows a big secret, and to never tell any little kids that Santa isn’t real. He seemed to like that part of it, that he’s now “in on it”.

I’m not so sure I took it so well. Maybe I’m the one who wanted him to have just one more year. Gah. Best get this back on solid footing. Things are starting to feel sad. Let’s get the believers back in here and change the subject.

*Spoliers over* *c’mon back*

Say, how about this zany election cycle, huh?

“*turns back around to walk off*”

Oh, now wait a second! Don’t leave again. I won’t dwell on it, I just have a theory.

I think Donald Trump is actually working for the Ted Cruz campaign.

NO! Listen. Who the hell is Ted friggin’ Cruz? Aside from a muppet with perpetual RSF (Resting Sad Face), I mean. No one knows. Here’s this guy who’s not a genius, but he’s not a total moron, either. He’s as middle of the road as the Republican party can seem to get these days. He doesn’t have great policy ideas, but he certainly seems fairly malleable. He’s not a good choice to the public, but he’s not the worst. He’s a former Canadian citizen, for god’s sake! Talk about friendly, eh?

“Uh, Bethie? The birthers are okay with this?”

YES BECAUSE HE’S REPUBLICAN. And it’s Canada, not Hawaii, so. You know.

Besides, who else have they got?

Bush can’t win. He can’t. His last name is Bush. Fiorina won’t win because she has ABF (active bitch face) and the stick is up her ass, not jutting out front, erect for freedom. Christie? Pfft. Nope. Huckabee? Are you friggin’ kidding me with that shit?

The Republicans needed a candidate, one that could actually win.

“But Trump can win, Bethie.”

No. No he can’t. He has high poll numbers, because the pollsters in his pockets are careful about who they poll. If you take a poll of 1,000 known Trump supporters, then you can accurately say that 1,000 of the people polled support Trump. Numbers are very easy. You show ’em a good time, and they’ll put out. Anyone can work numbers.

Working numbers does not equate to reality, though. Trump will not win. He just won’t. People like watching because he’s a one man show. He’s entertainment. Orange, ignorant entertainment. He makes awesome sound bytes and gives plenty of water cooler fodder. That’s being popular, sure, but in the same way that your drunk uncle who stuck his head up the turkey’s ass at Thanksgiving is popular. Everyone talks about him, but no one’s writing him into their will anytime soon.

Trump is America’s drunk uncle. If he is on a ticket next year squaring off against Bernie or Hillary, the democrats WILL win. He’s fun to watch, he makes good tv, but when you’re looking at the ballot and imagining him in the oval office, your hand will honestly slap the shit out of your own face before it’ll let you check mark Trump’s name.

The Republicans don’t want another Democrat in office, no matter who that Democrat might be. They want to take back the white house, and they can’t do that with Trump.

Which they know. Which they’ve ALWAYS known.

Ah, but they CAN use Trump to get a different Republican in that coveted seat. They can use him to make a malleable candidate look enticing to the American public. Let’s conspirize for a few minutes, shall we?

What if Trump has been a patsy all along?

What if the Republicans were like, “Look, Donny Baby. You like money. You like the Republicans. You have no concept of personal shame and we at the Republican party respect that. We’ve got a proposition for you, a way you can help us all. We NEED a Republican in office next term, but so far, the pool of hopefuls looks pathetic. We need you to pretend to run. Get out there. Ham it up. We’ve been laying the groundwork for years, telling people how much better life in this great nation will be if we get a Republican in office. They’re whipped up and scared. The hard part’s already done. What we need from YOU is to go out there and play on it. Throw around a few catch phrases. Dig into those raw and terrified emotions. Keep them hungry for a Republican while we weed out the field. Then, when we’ve got the candidate we think can actually win, we’ll give you the signal to kick it up. Start going off. Say things, outrageous things, mind-blowingly racist things that’ll make our guy look like a fucking beacon of hope in this god forsaken race. We’ll make it worth your while. You want bigger tax breaks? Done. You want permission to build your next casino on protected marsh lands? Fuck the marshes! No one likes herons anyway! Child labor laws getting in your way? Schmild shmlabor shmlaws is what I say!”

I think we have to believe this theory. I think this must be the truth. How else would Ted Whatshisname be skyrocketing in the polls? A no name. A sad no name. A guy who looks like he’d be far more comfortable with a binkie and a blankie than a microphone and a podium. THAT is the man who is leading the Republican race.

Guys, I’m not big on conspiracy theories. It’s not that I don’t believe them, it’s that honestly, I generally just don’t care. We live in a world filled with nosy, sneaky, devious humans. Duh. Plots and ploys and control and subterfuge have been happening since the dawn of time. If you don’t accept that about our species, then you’ve got some serious self-denial going on. At the end of the day, if I’ve had some food, had some fun, and had some snuggles with the ones I love, I’m good. If I had all that and was still sitting here with a tin foil hat on and my guts in a jiggle about the thought of conspiracies happening all around me, then I’M the one with the problem, right?

But sometimes, you take a little step back and look at the big picture and can’t help but see the truth. And the truth here is…

Illuminati.

Clearly that’s the only explanation for Donald Friggin’ Trump and Ted Sad-Canadian Cruz being the two biggest names in our current election cycle. That is some next level crazy and only people with endless money and boredom can make that happen.

Thus concludes your conspiracy for the day for Tuesday, December 15, 2015. You know what I would love to have happen? I would love it if I got one of those polling calls from the Republican party today. That would prove my theory quite nicely. Ah, but now I’ve put them in a bind, haven’t I? What are you going to do, Republican Illuminati? The ball’s in your court.