Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Horoscopes: The Jeffrey is Real Edition

Aries (3/21 – 4/19): I was walking in the woods at a site the other day when a new client, whom I'd never met, came to find me.  He walked up, held out his hand to shake, and said, "Do I have bad breath?"  I didn't know that was a question we get to ask random business associates, but I guess I was wrong.  We walked around for a bit, and then he said, "Oh, excuse me, my pants are falling down." I looked, and it was absolutely true.  They were falling way down.  After a bit, he said he had something to show me in his office, and as usual, I was super curious, so I followed him into his house and into the upstairs office (which is one of the big differences between being 22 and 52).  The office was filled with half-built model airplanes, a larger than life cardboard cutout of himself as a cowboy, x-acto knives, glue, stacks of snapshots, hundreds of bowling trophies and ribbons, saws, sharpies, and reams and reams of paper scattered in disorderly piles on the large mahogany desk.  If this were a movie, the lead would enter the room and say, "Oh my god!  We've been ransacked!"  Be he seemed okay with everything.  The whole episode was on that razor thin boundary between creepy and refreshing, which is precisely how your week will be, Aries.  See if you can stay on the refreshing side of things.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  I had dinner with a friend the other night who, not once or twice, but three times asked if I wanted to know a secret.  (Has anyone ever answered no to that question?  "Yeah, why don't you just keep that to yourself.  I'm not very interested."). And now I know three different secrets which I hope I'm worthy of.  Of course I can't tell you what they are, but it did make me think I should do more of that.  Rather than having a dumb blog, I should be a woman of mystery.  Right?  Like, hang out with me, people, and there will be super interesting secrets ahead!  I'm more like, "here are all my cards.  Yep, that's all of them."  Taurus, you already are a person of mystery.  Keep it up.  (Oh, and maybe just tell me one or two secrets that I can add to my dossier.)

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21):  As we circumnavigated The Nation the other day, we did some planning for the apocalypse.  I don't really have much to offer as a team member, so I try to emphasize how much salt I have, because I like to think that makes me useful.  As you know, I make salt out  Puget Sound, which isn't actually making anything at all; it's just waiting for evaporation to happen.  Anyway, during our circumnavigation, my companion mentioned that cow parsnip can be used as a source of salt.  Gemini, am I being replaced on the team by a common weed?  I'm trying to come up with another attribute, something that would be useful during the apocalypse that I'd be uniquely positioned to offer, but nothing is coming to mind.  Just the salt.  Grrr.  Gemini, you won't have any problem getting on a team.  And in case you end up being the team captain, I have salt, and I know the King County Code really well, and I own a digital thermometer.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21): Last week I had the giant good fortune to be present when Dr. A defended her dissertation, which was a ton of hard work in all the ways that the humans work hard, and she did important research about that topic that causes me to cover my ears (climate change).  And a lovely side benefit was getting to see The Others.  Even though I hadn't seen them in forever, after about five minutes we had inside jokes and laughter, and they were actually at 6th and I.  Right?  Anyway, Cancer, this week, work hard in all the good ways, and enjoy a festive drink with me.  Maybe some Spanish coffee or something off the beaten path.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  I'm sitting at a different coffee shop (I know!) and the woman behind me, who's hogging the only actual desk, started vigorously and loudly stirring her iced drink with the plastic straw.  I turned around to see what was going on. "Wow," I said, "I thought that was a pencil sharpener."  That's kind of funny, right?  Like, who has pencils anymore?  Who sharpens them, who brings a pencil sharpener to a coffee shop?  Etc.  But she just stared at me blankly and said, "You thought that was a pencil sharpener.  Oh.  No, it was me stirring my drink."  In a flat  non-curious monotone.  I'm so not a fan of non-curiosity, Leo.  This week, wonder more.  Wonder about everything.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  I had this dream the other night, you know the one.  Where I'm lying on the floor under a table in the library trying to write a stupid book because all the chairs are full, and the book seems pointless.  And then I remember that I have a plane to catch in an hour, and I should pull myself up off the floor and ride my bike the 45 miles to the airport, because I was supposed to be there an hour ago.  I go out to my bike and it has a flat tire, so I start fixing that, and then I realize that I don't have a good way to carry my huge suitcase, so I'm just holding it in my hand and it's banging against me while I pedal, and I can't really change gears with one hand and even though I know I'm not going to make it, I pedal on doggedly.  And that's sort of what we do in our lives, right?  We're all dying, as is everyone we love, but we keep pedaling anyway.  I think that's good, Virgo, and so will your week be.  (Can a legit sentence end with "be"?  Yes.)

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  I think there's only one person besides me who actually believes I have a pet rabbit named Jeffrey, so I'm including a picture.  This is my pet (noun), which, it's been pointed out, I never engage with as the verb, but we talk to each other and he's so completely not like that other rabbit, Harvey, because Cake Boss actually saw him the other day.  Libra, talk to the animals this week.  They like that.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  I'm listening in to a conversation, and the man says, "Yeah, I don't really know anything about the Grateful Dead."  It doesn't make sense, because he's the right age and demographic to know more.  "I've heard Casey Jones, but that's about it."

The woman says, "Oh, you should go home and listen to 'Ripple'.  It's a great song."

"Oh cool!  My wife would like that too.  That's how I seduced her the first time!  With Ripple."
Proving once again how people can be excited about a big misunderstanding.  At the risk of seeming like that creepy person who never is really in a conversation, but rather, just lurks around listening, I will say that it's pretty amazing what's going on all around me.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): I hardly remember anything from Goulds Book of Fish, which I read about 10 years ago, except for one part where a guy says, "You know, life only hands you so many chances, and if you piss all over them, life sort of gives up on you."  I think that's true.  Don't piss on any chances this week, Sag.  Just be your charming self.  And drive carefully.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19):  Do you know those people, the ones who never own anything, and all of the problems in the world are someone else's fault?  Yeah, me too.  I think the best thing for the planet right now is if we all take it upon ourselves to own our shit, apologize well, and be generous with our feelings and our things.  Tall order, I know, but picture the world if everyone behaved that way.  Lead the way, Capricorn.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  I keep thinking that it shouldn't be that hard to get rich when I look around and see all the people who've done it.  It seems like all you need is an idea and the ability to doggedly pursue it.  It's that "doggedly pursue" part that's escaped me.  I'm more the kind of dog that naps on the couch.  But Aquarius, you should totally doggedly pursue something this week.  Let me know if you need companionship on your journey.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  I've been carrying my one little beer to the private beach each night and drinking it while I watch the water, which is about the cheapest vacation one could have.  It also reminds me that yes, there are beavers and giant fish and quite possibly monsters in there, and they're kind of fun to watch.  Pisces, let's do some water-y things this summer.  Bring your wetsuit or at least your thermometer.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Aries (3/21 – 4/19): The other day, I met M. for a picnic at the river, and as we met, she handed me what looked like a loaf of homemade bread.  It surprised me, because she lives in a tent.
"Wow, thank you!  This looks homemade!"

"Oh, no, I got it from a dumpster.  But it was only like, 45 minutes after they put it in there, I think.  I knew you'd like that."

Which I totally did.  The whole thing.  The picnic, the gift, the fact that she gathered 37 loaves of bread from a dumpster and started giving them out.  Aries, you'll get some unexpected gifts this week.  Accept them with grace.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  So the other day, I was walking by the gum wall when the man behind me stopped to marvel at it.  I know!  He was just staring at it, saying, "Nice."

I walked back to talk to him, and yes, let him know that I'm the curator.  "Do you like the gum wall?" I asked.

"Very much," he replied, and stood there staring at it for a while longer.

There are cultures, I hear, that don't have a word for the color blue, and in those cultures, people are unable to identify the color in a line up, even though they have the capacity to see it.  I guess what I'm saying here, is that maybe nobody had the ability to notice the significance of the gum wall until it was named.  Do you think so, Taurus?

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21):  Not to make all the horoscopes about the gum wall, but last week, I went for a beer, and as soon as I walked in, the bartender said, "The gum wall is looking awesome!"  It reminds me, Gemini, that life is so short, and we're all milling about looking for things to celebrate and marvel over.  We celebrate to keep the hounds at bay.  If nothing else is available, we'll celebrate chewed up gum.  You could find that depressing or inspiring, depending.  Pick inspiring when you get the chance, Gemini.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  I noticed this tree in the river, which is odd, right?  Completely submerged, and it's not even close to flood season, although the river is a little high still.  I mentioned it to my companion, who said, "Wait, isn't that a tulip tree?"  Which it was, making it all the more strange, because they don't even live around here.  Vacationing, I suppose.  Cancer, why haven't we planned a vacation yet?  Lt's do it.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  The other day, I overheard a woman say to the man she was sitting with,

"Do you like the comic, 'Peanuts'?

"It's okay," he replied.

"I just love it, myself.  Ever since I was little, I've really associated with Lucy.  She reminds me of me."

I had some advice for that man, but I didn't want to meddle, so I kept my mouth shut.  Leo, watch out for the Lucys this week.  They are so disappointing.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  Finally, Redhook has taken that hideous "Cheers to Ben Harris" off the bottle caps.  It's about time.  But they've just defaulted to the same lame half dozen sayings.  I tried their new beer, Redhook Wisecracker Wit, even though it's a wheat beer, not my fave, because I thought there might be wit involved.  Which is a reasonable assumption, right?  I'm so not crazy.  And they had a joke about Ginger/ Marianne on the label which was a little funny, but alas, the same dumb sayings on the cap.  It's going to be a disappointing week, Virgo, but stay open, in spite of everything.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  Why don't we know exactly where the Biderbost site is, Libra?  Shouldn't we go there? I guess we'll have to settle for going to the museum, which contains desiccated relics of the magical real place.  So much of life is like that.  One or 16 steps removed from the actual magical thing.  But it could be worse.  Anyway, if you figure out where it is, can we go there?  Maybe have a picnic or just breathe for a while?

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  Oh, Scorpio.  What would I do without you?  Anyway.  I was apologizing to someone I don't know very well for something tiny, at least I hope it was tiny, but as soon as I started saying I was sorry, I got this huge lump in my throat and couldn't really finish my sentence because I was sort of weepy, making it super awkward.  Because, really, it was a tiny thing, every-so-slightly bigger than accidentally stepping on someone's toe the day before.  But the words have power importantanc, and no matter what the context, it evokes that thing.  Scorpio, evoke that thing this week without all of the awkwardness.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  I try to assume the best from people and imagine that everyone's doing the best they can, and that most of the harm that happens is unintentional.  Keep believing that, even when it doesn't look that way, because it's probably true.  If a butterfly lands on your nose, appreciate it and try not to swat it away, even if it's annoying and you can't quite see past it, because there is some good luck and magic there.  Don't lose track of that.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19):  I was sitting in the coffee house the other day and saw one of the lovely young women come in crying, as she has for the past several days.  She received hugs from a few friends.  I texted her an encouraging message from across the room because I didn't want to intrude.  She left.  I asked, after she'd gone, "Are all these tears about a boy?"  "Yep."  I guess that's the way of the world.  Women crying about some boy or another, and men going, huh?  I had no idea!  But maybe that's where art comes from, and maybe it's better to have the capacity to feel and care deeply than not, and maybe it's better to be the one who can cry than the one who's chosen not to feel any more.  Or at least that's what we comfort ourselves with, because secretly, it looks a whole lot easier to not give a shit.  (Oh, did I say that out loud?)

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  Oh, you want to know how the lawnmower situation is?  Unchanged.    Pretty
much everything is unchanged.  But I have a tip about the to do list:  if you stop adding to it, it will eventually get shorter.  Some things will just drop right off with no effort, and some things, you can rename. That's all I've got for you, Aquarius, but it could be useful.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  Someone shared a Ghandi quote with me this week, "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet."  That seems like a good strategy, if you can pull it off.  So many problems, though. No one means to have dirty feet, that's for sure.  And you really don't notice the feet are dirty until after the mud has been tracked in, right?  So Ghandi, as great as you were, that's just not super useful.  I think it's better to be able to forgive those dirty feet, for surely, they meant no harm.  Or just get dark carpeting in there.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Horoscopes, the memory edition

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  So what were the jokes like, you ask?  Here's one:

A bunch of (insert ethnic or hair color group you wish to bash) were in an airplane when the pilot said, "We've had one engine fail, so unfortunately, we'll be an hour late in getting to our destination."  A while later, he came on the intercom again and said, "I'm sorry to break it to you, but we've had a second engine fail, which will make us two hours late."  One of the passengers turned to the other and said, "we better not lose that third engine or we'll be up here all night!"
Taurus, listen well this week.  Wait, listen, lean in, listen again.  Maybe something good will come of it.

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21):  One thing I've been reading about lately is forgetting, for the obvious reasons.  Here's the Ebbinghaus formula for the rate at which we forget:

where R is memory retention, S is strength of memory, and t is time.  So, some number to the power of elapsed time divided by strength of memory.  I think, yeah, that makes sense.  But of course I had to test it.  So I open Excel.  I know.  I wish I could stop myself too.

But it doesn't work out.  It's not true that I remember a boring story heard recently better than childbirth!  I think the formula needs work.  Alert readers will note that this graph doesn't represent a logarithmic curve, but just the t over S.  But still, it should reflect the relative strength of a memory at a given time point, right now.  If you're the person who noticed that, we should probably talk and maybe make some kind of pact.

And Gemini, I'll stop here because I don't want to lose any more readers than I already have, but you and I both know that I went in and plugged in a bunch of other things, trying to establish another factor that would make it work.  I've spent literally hours on it.  There must be medication for this, right?  But your horoscope: Don't worry about the formula this week.  Just remember what you remember, and put the rest down.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  Why I hate plane travel, reason two:  I get to the airport, park, go inside, meet my offspring (which was the best part of everything.  In fact, the highpoint of the journey was quite possibly getting a text from R. as I entered the terminal that said, "I'm here.  You'll recognize me because I'm the guy wearing all purple playing the ukelele.")  Okay, let's skip the part about waiting for hours, then going all the way home again, then going back to the airport to catch a different plane.  We'll jump right to the hating:  I sit down in the middle seat for a red-eye, and the woman in the aisle says, "I'm about to take an Ambien and pass out cold, so I don't know what you're going to do if you have to get out."   Cancer, see if you can get through the week without passing out cold, and without trapping someone with a small bladder in an uncomfortable seat all night long.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  It takes me about five minutes to be solidly on east coast time.  What looks like insomnia in PST passes as being an early riser in the east.  After 30 years of living here, I've never really switched to this time zone.  This week, Leo, see if you can really adjust to right where you are in this very moment, with the earth hurtling around the sun, and the moon ever-so-slowly creeping away from our planet at the rate of one nanometer per second, (as if we wouldn't notice!), and meanwhile, you're surrounded by everything you need.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  For some reason, I've just learned of the Piggyback Bandit.  I think it was news last summer.  It might be the saddest thing to be arrested for ever:  jumping on the backs of high school athletes because you want a piggy-back ride.

Reason number three, why I hate plane travel:  As the plane lands, it's really clear that the runway is way too short, so there's a giant breaking action that's mildly terrifying, and everyone is looking at each other like, hmm, this is not normal.  And that's not even Reason #3.  We get off the plane, and apparently it's morning, and we're walking around the Atlanta airport, and M. says, "I think I'm cross-eyed."  And I look at her, and it's true.  Her eye's aren't really tracking together anymore. I get it.  I get how that happens on the plane.  Luckily, it was temporary.  Virgo, see if you can get both eyes to track together this week.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  I've been wondering what happened to the Neanderthals.  150,000 years, and then gone?  One theory is that they didn't domesticate dogs, and were out competed in the small game Olympics by the Homo sapiens.  Another theory, Libra, is that they didn't divide labor along gender lines, losing efficiency.  I don't like that answer.  And I don't like this either, but it's quite revealing, I'd say.  Libra, you might have that kind of week.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  I've recently learned that the opposite of going out for a pack of cigarettes is inviting someone to see your etchings.  Which reminds me of this letter I read in an advice column years ago.  The letter-writer had excused himself from a restaurant dining table to go to the bathroom, and climbed out the window because the host of the meal (another man who was paying for the dinner for several people) wouldn't share his clams Rockefeller.  The question?  "Should I let the host know how rude it was that he didn't share his clams with me?"  This is the letter, I believe, that caused us to add a new part to the advice column game where we first bet, before reading the letter, whether we're better than, equal to, or worse than the letter writer.  Better than is often a safe bet, and isn't as arrogant as it sounds.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  Everything I do feels like slogging uphill lately.  Except for the gum wall, which is more like chewed bits of goo stuck to a wall.  Even getting the gum to stick can be unexpectedly hard, though.

We're at that point in the year when it's time to start cutting the lawn because it's about a foot tall.  I've made a few half-assed unsuccessful efforts to start the lawnmower, then I revert to ignore mode.  But the other day I went full-on at it.  Went to town, got a few cans of mystery potions:  starter fluid and something to pour into the gas tank.  Tried those things, lawnmower didn't start.  Siphoned the gas out of mower with a turkey baster, and put new gas in.  (Cover your ears if you're one of my Thanksgiving guests.)  Then I try all the permutations:  priming, not priming, spraying this and that, not spraying, wondering if it's flooded, waiting, cleaning the spark plugs, and all the while thinking, I really don't care very much about this.  Life is short.  Grass should get long.  But I try to be a good citizen of the neighborhood.  After about 3 hours of effort, I turn my attention to emptying the bed of the truck, which is full of compost, so I can load the lawnmower and take it somewhere.  Probably here.  But the truck won't start, and when I open the hood, I see a large delicate nest composed of pink and yellow insulation and mouse droppings.  I deliberate over whether to gently move the rodent nest to a better location, or destroy it.  It's someone's bed, after all.  I can't decide, so I leave it alone and jumpstart the truck, which works.

But by now it's too late in the day to do much, so I turn it off, knowing it isn't charged and I'll have to go through this routine again, including the non-decision about the mouse nest, in order to move the truck to spread the compost to load the lawnmower to have it fixed so I can cut the grass.  That's kind of how things are going.  Multiply that scenario (high effort, little outcome) to every part of my life, and you've got it.

Oh, and your horoscope?  Keep in mind at all times that life is short.  Let the grass grow.  Do what you can to stop the barbaric and cruel practice of decapitating the tiny helpless blades of grass.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19):  So the other day, my son said, "I really want to get a pet duck."  I'm  thinking, hmm, how would a good mother respond to that comment?  A good mother, but also a mother who doesn't want to end up babysitting an indoor duck?  My daughter instantly replied, "Oh, you don't want a duck.  They really like to look in the mirror a lot, and you'd have to put mirrors all over the floor."
Right?
How does this become a horoscope, you're wondering?  Me too!  So let's talk about how grubs go into a little cocoon and turn into slurry.  They completely liquify in there.  And they re-emerge as butterflies.  As if that's not miracle enough, they actually retain memories from when they were grubs.  Are you following this?  1.  Grub with memories.  2.  Liquification of the grub.  Complete meltdown into nothingness.  3.  Butterfly, with memories from when they were grubs.  Like smells they recall.  I take great comfort in this, myself, as I've been in the slurry state a good deal lately.  So far, I keep coming out as a worm again, but one of these times I'll get there, and you most certainly will too.  It's as easy as hopping into crow from downdog.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  There's this thing in our town, I don't know if it happens everywhere or not, but the instant someone dies, there's a notice about it on the post office door.  In some cases, it seems like, wait, aren't they still doing CPR on that guy?  That's how quickly the notices go up.  Sometimes I think that's a little creepy, but mostly it's sweet, and it makes me go to the post office a lot, in spite of the crazy people with the poster of Obama with a Hitler mustache who hang out there.  Put up notices this week, Aquarius. Metaphorical ones about life, not death.  Be quick!

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  I went to NY for my father's memorial service last week, which was lovely and sad and and complicated, but mostly it was really nice to be in a room full of people I love who I've known since birth, mine or theirs.  People who know me so well that I really don't need to talk, but want to anyway.  My dad grew up in a family that was kind of like the Great Gatsby, with gambling and drinking and fancy parties and money and luxury cars and servants and boarding school, and came away from all that as a decent guy, which might be a minor miracle.  Born into a family of rich republicans in North Jersey, and died a liberal democrat in upstate New York.  Change happens, good change.  Make it so this week, Pisces.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tiny Attractions

Another tiny attraction in our town to go with the gum wall and the time travel portal.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Horoscopes: The Gum Wall Episode

 Can you even see the gum?

Aries (3/21 – 4/19):  We have a new attraction in our town, The Gum Wall.  It's not nearly as impressive as the one in Seattle, but it makes me strangely glad each time I walk by these five pieces of gum in the alley.  (I can say, "the alley", because there's only one. Oh, unless you cross the street, which I rarely do.)  Can you even see the gum in that picture?  Every big gum wall starts just like this, I hear.   The other thing about this picture: there's a shadow!  We know what that means, Aries.  The end of the dark times.  Not a moment too soon.  Enjoy.  (And, add some gum if you get a chance.  Wouldn't it be cool if there were six, or even seven pieces by next week?)

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  RIP, Booth Gardner.  I only had one occasion to meet him, and it was all rather awkward.

A friend of mine, who was a major donor to the Audubon Society, invited me and my then-husband on a special field trip that was a treat for the dozen top donors.  I am not those people, in case there's any confusion.  Just about everyone except my friend was famous in the environmental world.  -- Aldo Leopold's daughter Estella, and Booth Gardner, and people like that.   An expert ornithologist was flown here from Cornell to lead a birdwatching trip, and there was a fancy lunch at a restaurant on pilings, and so on.   Anyway, long story, but the key details are that the day before, R., who was two years old at the time, had hurled a dense cardboard map tube across the room, which accidentally hit me in the eye.

The field trip happened to occur on Superbowl Sunday of the particular year when there was much ado about the high incidence of domestic violence during halftime.  (Or was it toilet flushing during halftime and domestic violence during the game?  I forget.)  To make a long horoscope even longer, my then-husband and I ended up seated for the fancy lunch at a table for four with Booth and his lovely young companion -- it was unclear if she was his gf, daughter, or nurse.  It was super awkward for all the normal reasons, plus other ones (like, what had he been up to in the 2 years since he was governor? And who was the woman? Should we ask?)

After eating in uncomfortable silence for a while, I said, "So, about my black eye."   They had to be wondering, and perhaps assuming the worst of my ex, right?  "My son threw a map tube at me, and while I laid there, stunned from the impact, he walked over and said, 'Did you see something big and brown coming at you like a buffalo?"

Booth replied, "Oh."  We finished the rest of our four course meal in silence.

At any rate, he did much good for our state, especially his work on the Growth Management Act.  May he rest in peace.

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21):  Speaking of resting in peace, I took a nice walk around a cemetary last week with M., who remarked that she rather enjoys finally having an at home mother.  Even though she's 22 and doesn't live at home, and it's not like I'm an actual shut in (Is that term misleading and creepy?  Stay at home mother?   It probably be  "driving around all the time mother.").  But this grave stone broke my heart a little bit more than it already was.  Maybe because I'm reading "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter".  Gemini, don't be a lonely hunter this week.  Hunt in packs.  Count me in.

Cancer 6/22 – 7/21:  I listen to many podcasts every day.  In the middle of the night, I've been strangely compelled to listen to, "Dial a Stranger", where a woman calls random people and asks how their day was.  I can't explain why I'm so hooked on this.  It ranges from the mundane to the tedious to the ultra-boring and occasionally, hilarious.    But that's not exactly your horoscope, Cancer, although we're getting close.  Another podcast that catches my attention (which really isn't very hard to do) is "Love and Radio." The episode titled "Dirty Balloons" had me in such hysterical laughter that I wondered if it was normal.  Lying in bed alone at 3 am laughing til tears run down your cheeks?  We all do that, right?  Anyway, it was about a young woman who was broke and needed money, so she replied to a Craig's List ad looking for women to participate in balloon popping porn.  Did you even know that was a thing?  I tend to think of a balloon popping as kind of a buzzkill, but apparently I'm way out of the loop.  If you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, recuperating from something, this may help pass the time.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22):  I was listening to the news this morning about the new anti-abortion laws, and the basis for some of them is that a fetus can feel pain.  Arrgh.  Guess who else can feel pain, North Dakota?  An unwanted child, born to parents without the maturity, resources, or desire to hurl themselves at an unconditional effort that lasts for years.  Leo, may you have a pain-free week.  Can I go off on a little rant, though?  Wouldn't it be easier if we teach our young people about sex and how it works, have them practice the difficult conversations, and make contraception safe and legal and accessible and not so annoying?  Maybe Bill Gates is on the right track.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  Last week, I was driving in to town when a friend called.
"Why are we on the phone together?" was the first thing he said.
"Um, I'm not 100 percent on this, but I'd guess it's because you called?"
"Oh, did I?  I guess that means we should have dinner.  Are you free in 10 minutes?"
Of course I was free in 10 minutes.  There should be more of that in the world, Virgo.  More butt dials that end with someone buying me dinner.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  A friend sent me this article, which is both sad and hilarious.  Mostly sad.  Um, anyway, solar flares, mercury not in retrograde, blah blah blah.  Isn't that how horoscopes go?  Here:  Libra's are usually so balanced.  Not so much this week.  Prepare.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  The other night I dreamt that I was in a class with Emily Bazelon.  We were both students, learning how to can dairy products with actual cans.  While I was pouring some half and half into a can that she held, I told her that I have a huge intellectual crush on her.  It was super awkward, and she was all, "Um, yeah, let's just focus on the dairy products, shall we?"  Dream big this week, Scorpio.  Try not to dream of awkward moments around revealing a platonic crush on a Yale law professor.  That's just unnecessary.

 Frankensleeves around a Japanese fishing float
Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21):  I traded some Frankensleeves for a haircut yesterday.  My young friend has been cutting my hair since she was twelve, which is now a decade.  Her moving away for a while is what lead to the whole, "drink a glass of wine, watch a Youtube video on how to cut your own hair, get out the scissors" situation, which I thought was going okay until JJ mentioned that it had been going on long enough, and it looked pretty sketchy.    At any rate, it was a a lovely visit, and she was happy with the sleeves and I was happy with the hair.  That's what your week will be like, Sagittarius:  all good, with a few useful trades.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19):  I was sitting on the top of Rattlesnake Ridge today, looking at the beautiful view and all of the decomposing detritis from prior picnickers when my science fair project finally came to me.  How long does it take for a banana peel to decompose?  What are some of the variables that affect that?  How about an orange peel?  I know!  I can hardly wait.  But Capricorn, here's something you'll find interesting.  There's a space capsule orbiting the earth with the digitized genome of Stephen Hawking, Stephen Colbert, and Lance Armstrong, among others. (Have we ever discussed the Oxford comma?  Pro?  Con?)  The information will be stored in the Space Station in case of calamity. Quite a plan. It actually sounds like the set up for a joke: Three guys walk into the space station...  I guess no girls have genes deserving of immortality.  This week, see if you can develop the joke there.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18):  At 6:30 one morning last week, on my way to yoga in the pitch dark and pouring rain, I saw a light in the road, and I couldn't figure out what it was: bicycle? Dog walker?  It was truly pouring buckets.  As I got close, I realized it was a hitchhiker, a young man in his late teens.   "Yeah, I know you," he said.  I took him at his word, due to my facial recognition disorder.

He was soaking wet and smelled like stale cigarettes and other sour things.  In fact, he smelled a lot like Joey.  I asked where he was headed, and he replied, all cheery, "I've got to catch the 7:22 bus to Seattle for rehab.  It's my second day!  If I do all 30 days, I'll get a voucher towards tuition."  He was super earnest and eager, and was glad that only about 10 cars (!?wtf? that's half the neighborhood!) passed him before I stopped.  He chatted happily all the way in to town.  As he got out, he said, "Wish me luck.  I have to do a psychological evaluation today."

Aquarius, the point being, see if you can make the best of stuff.  And be glad that on this day, you probably don't have to do a psychological evaluation.  Be cheery with whatever's going on.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20): I wrote about that hitchhiker to a friend who asked if we are cheered or depressed by the story.  Cheered! Definitely cheered!  Because at this moment, he's full of hope and opportunity, and that's as good as it gets. It will turn out shitty, of course, but that will come later. He'll drop out of rehab on day 18, not because he isn't trying, but because he'll oversleep twice, not get a ride in time, and miss the bus.  As a result, he'll get kicked out of his parents house.  After years of knocking around, he'll have a disfiguring welding accident.  His heart will be broken by a woman he meets at the bowling alley where he works passing out the shoes.  (He won't realize it at the time-- awareness of his heartbreak will occur to him much later, after she's moved to Cleveland to care for her elderly mother and work at the coat factory.)  He'll end up old and and unemployed and alone, living in a 1974 Econoline van that an uncle gave him.  But even through all of that, he'll be happy, because there will be lots of good moments -- his weekly poker game, a series of good enough girlfriends, usually enough to eat and drink, and he'll decide to focus on those things. He doesn't know about his future yet.  At this moment, he anticipates it being ultra-bright:  steady job, nice apartment in Centralia, Ford F350, well-trained spaniel that he can hunt with in the fall, reconciliation with his sweet gf -- it's all going to work out swell.  The thing with feathers.  Keep that this week, Pisces!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's never too late!

Just when I was about to give up hope about the science fair, I got a note from The Linguist:

Betsy,

Are you still accepting entries to the science fair? I don't have anything particularly clever, quirky or adorable, but hopefully I can make up in quantity what I lack in quality. Here are my two proposed experiments:

1. The Effects of Sleep on Vriksasana

It seems to me that the less sleep I get, the wobblier my tree pose is. Is there a connection? Get a bunch of yogis and yoginis and assign them a certain amount of sleep to get on various days. Count how many times their "up" foot hits the floor on those days, and correlate with hours of sleep. Note that it is not good enough to simply survey the yog(in)is regarding how much sleep they got - it could be that those who get less sleep are more or less prone to wobbliness for independent reasons.

2. The Effects of Temperature on Fluid Exchange (Not that kind of fluid exchange).

I was in the bathroom at my office, and the window was open. It was pretty warm in the office, and pretty cold outside, and because of the high temperature differential, the temperature in the bathroom was dropping faster than if it had been warmer outside. But I wondered whether the air was flowing through the window faster, or if it was just that the temperature of the air was changing even if the air was staying on its own side of the window. Another way to ask the question is whether you can bring more fresh air into a room by opening a window on a cold day than on a warm day.

To test this, one could rig up an apparatus with two chambers separated by a wall. Have a hole in that wall which can be opened and closed from outside the apparatus. Fill each chamber with water containing dye. Say, red in one chamber and blue in the other. Open the hole for a fixed period of time and then close it. Measure the amount of mixing by noting the colors of the chamber (reddish purple and bluish purple). Try this with various temperatures of water. Do you get more mixing when the temperatures in the two chambers are different? Maybe you just get more mixing the hotter the water is in general?

~The Linguist

Dear The Linguist,

(Do you like how "the" has become part of your name?)  Of course it's not too late.  These are excellent ideas, and as you know, there will be prizes.

I was talking to some young people over the weekend about the Constitution and the subject of Science Fairs came up.  To be accurate, I brought it up, because it's really not the kind of topic you can wander over to smoothly.  It's the conversational equivalent of that awkward stretch at the movies on a first date that ends with an arm accidentally around your shoulder.

At any rate, the teens were incredulous.  "You're having an actual science fair?  Who's in it?"

"Um, no one so far.  Although possibly a woman from Nova Scotia is going to study home electrolysis using an old lamp.  Or do you think she was just kidding?  And there's possibly someone else doing a study on the effects of my urine on lettuce, but again, maybe that was a joke?"

I got that look from these teens, the one that means they're imagining me home alone with a tri-fold presentation board plastered with graphs and they aren't sure whether to call someone or just let it go.

So, The Linguist, I'm glad you've come up with your project.  Mine will involve this plant, but I can't quite figure out how.  Beneficial uses?  Ways to kill?  Advice welcome.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Time for Pisces

It's been brought to my attention that the recent Pisces horoscope was really lame.  So were all the other ones, but at least they were longer.  So, my dear Pisces, all three of you, here's your very own long horoscope.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  I was talking about Daylight Savings Time the other day and mentioned that when my kids were little, I had a rule that once we're on the new time, there will be no mention of the old time.  But as I was explaining this, the young people looked at me like, "Wow, we're so glad you're not our mother."  And I realized that it did sound unnecessarily irritable.  Like, really?  No one was allowed to even mention that we changed the clocks?  I know.  I'm not proud of that.

But I used to find it tiresome, all the: "But it's not really bedtime, because on the old time..." or, "I'm hungry now because yesterday it would have been dinner time," and so on.  I'd go on a rant, "CHILDREN!  We're on this time now.  We are so not the kind of people who continue to cling to the old time.  Keep up!"

Last year, I accidentally made a comment about being tired after we switched times.  R. just looked at me and said, "Go to your room."