Horoscopes, the memory edition

Aries (3/21 – 4/19) I tried to read David Carr's memoir, The Night of the Gun this week, and it was sadly disappointing.  I've had a thing for him after seeing that movie about the NYT, but poof, all gone!  The only reason I read as far as I did is because I was trapped on an airplane and had done everything else that I could possibly think of:  the crossword puzzle and sudoku in the in-flight magazine,  3 visits to the bathroom, cleaned my wallet, listened to dumb jokes told by the man next to me, pretended to nap, did alternate nostril breathing.  So I kept reading. It's a very well-written book about sorry escapades that happened when he was drunk or on coke that didn't seem to have a point, and just made me cringe.  It turns out, the bad jokes were better than the book.  Aries, your life this week will be better than a book.  Enjoy.

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."
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.


  1. Neanderthals? They haven't disappeared...I married one.

  2. Oh, I have so many questions for you! How does he get on with the dogs? And, more importantly, does he make art? Is any of the cave art from his people?

  3. I'll take "better than a book." And hopefully better than the one you were reading.

  4. Okay, look, Betsy. I have never said this before in a comment on a blog and mostly I've never said it to anyone anywhere nor even thought it much but here goes: I want to French kiss you. That's how much I love your writing. Like, it wouldn't be enough just to give you a hug or a kiss on the cheek or even on the lips. Nah. Tongue has to be involved. At least a little bit.
    Sorry. This is probably grossly inappropriate and now you'll be worried that I'm a crazy-stalker fan or something. I assure you I am not. Also? I am stone-cold sober.
    (Don't worry. I barely ever leave my yard and certainly not my time zone if I can help it. You are safe.)

    1. Oh, Ms. Moon, I'm so flattered, because as you may not know, it's kind of a mutual thing. Frankly, I'm a fan of having a person on the planet who would like to French kiss me, even someone who lives far away and never leaves the yard. (We don't have to tell Mr. Moon about all of this just yet, do we?)

  5. Oh Lord no. It will be our secret.

  6. Your dad sounds like an amazing guy. I hope you post his full story one day! With pics. Great post as always!

  7. If I lean in any closer to listen, I'm going to topple right over. Also, I'm afraid I would have tromped over that woman and her Ambien-induced coma. Nothing stands between me and the bathroom when my dime-sized bladder is full.

    Fascinating as always. Glad you found comfort at your dad's memorial. It sounds like he was a thinking man.

    Have as good a week as you possibly can. Reset, rest, rejuvenate.

  8. Ok, so the Hitler/Obama poster people. They position themselves in fromt of our local co-op plunk in the middle of a large Jewish community. WTF, I ask you. You want attention? How about visiting some orphans and widows with fresh cookies? Something HARMLESS.

    But I'm commenting os someone's else's horoscope. Is that OK?

    I miss my dad often. Whenever I'm in the woods, which is often. I learned what birds sang what songs from my dad. I learned to identify ducks. The geese have new babies on the lake right now and I miss my dad, Republican that he was.


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