Thursday, November 29, 2018

Part 3 of 3

In which I review a few things, and call them horoscopes.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): Oxytocin.  This is the hormone that's released during sex and breastfeeding that promotes bonding and feelings of well-being.  Here's something:  rats that have never had babies eat baby rats whenever they get a chance (the way you do), but after being injected with Oxytocin, they tend to and protect young, even if they aren't related.   The oxytocin effect of caring for young lasts for their whole lives -- once that form of generosity is activated, it never goes away. Shysters purchase oxytocin spray on the internet and spray it in the air when they want to close a deal.  Can you even believe that?  Now you know how Einstein felt about the a-bomb.  But maybe, just maybe, there is some backwash with the spray, and everyone gets a douse of good will and generosity and the instinct to protect and defend the vulnerable.  Maybe goodness actually wins, and can't be misused by hucksters.  That's possible, Sag.  I'm giving Oxytocin 5 stars.

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19):  Pep Talks.   It has been brought to my attention that I give a lot of pep talks.  At first was like, eww, really?  Is that who I want to be?  And now I've decided, well, if you can't be the one you love, love who you are.  (Someone should make a song!) Anyway, I really don't like the term "pep talk".  It sounds fakey, and I picture some dad running along next to a kid learning to ride a bike, saying, "you can do it, son!" right before the crash and lacerations.  Or a, GO TEAM, SELL SELL SELL rally like I imagine happens at a multi-level marketing convention.  My so-called pep talks are some variation of this: "hey, I see something amazing and unused in you -- maybe it's just in remission or maybe you haven't taken it out of the box in a while, but I really think you've got it in you to up-level and do something outstanding, and I want that for you."  And I really mean it.  According to my daughter, I've been giving this pep talk to my loved ones for her whole life which makes me feel a little squirmy and embarrassed because suddenly it was clear that this is a thing that everyone but me has noticed, and there's probably some eye-rolling, like here she comes with that same old pep talk again.  But maybe I felt a little good too because hopefully what people hear isn't some bossypants weirdo, but rather, someone who loves them wishing they'll figure out how to squeeze a little more goodness out of the hand that they've been dealt, and shiny up their talents for the world to see because the world needs that.  I'll give Pep Talks 3 stars. 

Aquarius (1/20-2/18):  Gritty.  Gritty is 7-foot tall hairy mascot for a hockey team in Philadelphia, the Flyers, that has somehow captured the hearts of the residents. I don't understand what a sports mascot role is in the world but I do like it when a whole town gets behind something.  I'll give Gritty 4 stars.  Oh, and in my research, I learned that some heavy metal bands have mascots too.  I guess everyone else has known that since Iron Maiden was big, but not me.  I'm just telling you so you'll know that I'm catching up!

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20)
: Vacuum Cleaners.  Before I had a dog I would vacuum once "every so often" and by that, I mean never unless someone was coming over.  Then I got this big yellow dog and a new bagless vacuum cleaner and began to really enjoy vacuuming because I can see the equivalent of another small dog getting sucked off the carpet every few days.  Speaking of evolutionary failure -- what's in it for dogs to devote so much energy into hair production, only to let it fall off everywhere?  Not to mention that it's nearly impossible for them to be stealthy at a crime scene, leaving their DNA all over the place.  Anyway, the vacuum lasted two years before it died, and I took it to a vacuum repair place and very briefly fell in love with the repair man because he was so quirky.  He looked like a combination of the guy from the Detectorists (the one with the baby), and the shoe salesman in You, Me, and Everyone We know.  (There, I got in my two favorite things to watch!).  The look is a skinny, hungry, homely look. The main draw was his soliloquy about vacuums.  He has more passion for the vacuum cleaner than anyone I've met.  "It's gonna be a couple weeks," he said, "because every day, people pull up, and bring out a vacuum, and then another and another, like some clown car full of vacuum cleaners, and I'm like, bring it on, I love this stuff."  Anyway, he promised that he'd fix my vacuum and it would be like brand new and I left with so much hope.  Our 15 minutes in the repair shop, with him explaining all of the places where dust can escape from my particular type of vacuum, is the longest relationship I've been in for oh, maybe a decade.

But then he called and said he couldn't fix it, and could I pick it up and dispose of it because he has no need for it.  Just like that, I guess we broke up.  Someone younger probably came along with a Miele.  So I spent a bunch of time on the internet where we all live now, researching the best vacuum and then I gave up because research is infinite, like the universe, and you just have to cut it off at some point and buy whatever-the-fuck vacuum is convenient to buy.  

So I went to Costco, which is a big act of courage, and I looked at the choices and picked one, the way we used to do before the internet.  Remember that?  When we used to just select from the choices at hand?  So I put it in my cart, and I'm not kidding, like four people came up to me as I wandered through that giant warehouse full of stuff, and said, "Ohh, so exciting! A new vacuum cleaner!"  I wasn't feeling it myself but I tried to get excited.  I brought it home and assembled it and noted that it has a bunch of attachments that I guess will sit on my coffee table until they get lost, because there isn't a spot for them.  I'm really not into attachments (well, except for my brief imaginary love affair with the vacuum repair main.  For about 9 minutes, I was attached.)  But I'm not the kind who's like, oh, how can I get the dust particles out of this particular spot?  I think I'll stop what I'm doing and seek out an attachment and take the vacuum cleaner apart and reassemble it in some other way.  I'm mostly like, "what's the minimum cleaning necessary to keep dog hair out of my food and drink."

I'll give vacuum cleaners 2 stars.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Review Horoscopes, Part 2 of 3, or maybe of 4.

George Harvey, 1837
Here we go, part 2 of 3 part horoscopes, in which I review Inflammation, the Erie Canal, and a few other things.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22): Inflammation.  Did we even have that when we were kids?  Nope.  Well, we had the kind where you got stung by a wasp and your leg swelled up, but not this secret killer inflammation where you're just sitting around thinking, jeez, is it really so wrong to have a brownie and a beer for dinner?  And then you remember about inflammation.  The silent killer turns out to be not a high fat diet, but rather  inflammation, whatever the fuck that is.  Like, there's inflammation going on in your blood stream?  Doesn't that sound phony?  This new secret inflammation that wreaks havoc and you don't even know it but pretty much everything you really enjoy except yoga and walks in the woods cause it.  I'll give inflammation one star.  Because we are not for silent killers?  Or loud killers either.  Leo, I don't know what to tell you.  I guess do the yoga, eat the brownie, love the children.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22): The Erie Canal.  This is a tough one, Virgo.  In case you didn't grow up in NY where the Erie Canal was part of your blood stream, and you knew at least three songs about it ( "the Ear-I-E is a rising, and the gin is gettin' low and I scarcely think I'll get a drink til I get to Buffalo, til I get to Buffalo..."), I'll tell you about the canal.  It's a huge hand excavated ditch that connects Lake Erie to the Hudson River, 338 miles long.  It was dug in the early 1800's by mostly Irish immigrants who used shovels and picks to dig a giant freaking waterway, 4' deep and 7' wide through compacted glacial till and clay soil and across the Montezuma swamp.  They were paid 37 cents and a pint of whisky a day, and lots of people died doing it.  They invented stuff to help, like the wheelbarrow (although it had been around for a few thousand years.  I guess they improved it.).  There was a lot of weird stuff going on in Upstate NY at the time, like the Shakers were doing their thing and Joseph Smith found those plates, and meanwhile, this huge ditch was being constructed.  

I spend a lot of my work life trying to determine whether something is a stream or a ditch, and grr, it's a stupid question and time waster.  If it's a stream it's regulated; if it's a ditch, anything goes.  And the difference isn't obvious, because humans have moved natural streams around to make our lives easier (at least that's what we think), but they've also excavated ditches to move water off roads and away from buildings.  So they look the same.  I hate that question, because the real way to answer it is by waiting a hundred years.  Streams win, ditches fail.  But no one wants to hear that.  "Pay me now, and I'll answer in a hundred years."  Kind of like those people who take care of your pets after the rapture.  

So, I'm not sure how to rate the E.C.  Is it a magnificent feat of engineering, a testament to the toil and ingenuity of humans, or is it one more stupid project, trading the natural environment and topography for commerce?  We excavated a huge ditch that parallels the shoreline of a giant lake -- you may have heard of Ontario?  And yet, I remain obsessed with the canal.  I'll give it a solid 3 stars, which really means partly 5 and partly 1.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  The song, Pearls, by Antje Duvekot.  This is one of many beautiful songs by Antje, and I listened yesterday, breaking my own rule that I can only listen to the prettiest songs on Thursdays.  It's like breaking out the good china for Tuesday lunch or something.  Some things are meant to be saved for special.  But anyway, one of the best lines is, "with all the sand that gets inside the world, we should all  be mother-fucking pearls."  And I used to hear that as YEAH.  The world, GRRR, too sandy!  And yesterday, on a Tuesday of all things, I heard it differently. I heard it as a challenge.  We should all give it our best crack at being mother-fucking pearls, because we have opportunity.  We have sand, and it can get in your eyes and irritate the fuck out of you, or it can be an abrasive that grinds down the sharp bits, makes us beautiful and soft and opalescent.  I'll give it 5 stars.  Libra, choose that.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Review Horoscopes, Part 1 of 3

Partial Horoscopes: The Review Edition

I have a new favorite podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed.  It's beautiful writing and brilliant ideas and exactly what I want.  So I thought I'd try reviewing a few things myself.  And I've split the horoscopes into three parts, due to the increasingly short attention spans on the planet.  Stay tuned Leo and so on...

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  Toothpaste.  Toothpaste is pretty variable.  My current favorite is Uncle Harry's, because it comes in a little jar, no pesky tube and is a little salty, but it's not available everywhere so I suffer.  The first mass produced toothpaste arrived in a jar 1873, but tubes came out a few years later, and have stuck. The problem with tubes:  1.  if you squeeze out too much, there's no going back, and 2.  if you leave the cap off, which I often do because jeez, who's got time?  I have the internet to surf, people to stalk, solitaire to play!  I can't be bothered with putting the cap back on every single time.  Anyway, if you leave the cap off, a rubber film of solidified toothpaste forms across the mouth of the tube, making future squeezing difficult.  You have to use a toothpick to create a hole, but it's never quite the same, and the crumbs of weird gummy toothpaste goo falls in and around the sink.  The whole resolution takes way longer than putting the cap on would have, but apparently, I will never learn.  And a weird confession:  I really love a brand new tube of toothpaste, mostly due to the ease of the squeeze.  Occasionally, when I'm feeling really wild, I'll crack open a new tube even though there's plenty of paste in the old tube.   I'll give toothpaste 2.5 stars.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  Cottonwood leaves.  They're huge, almost show-offy big, and in the fall, yellow or brown, never red.  For some reason, we long for red in our autumn leaves.  Yellow is mildly interesting, but not miraculous.  Red means a good sunset at the end of a beautiful summer day, and we want that color to wrap up our seasons too.  The leaves smell sweet, like the inside of a beehive, and if you look at them for a while, you can be reminded of a banana peel, due to those brown splotches that supposedly mean the banana is at it's peak nutrition, because it has something called Tumor Necrosis Factor in it, and if there's one thing the humans hate more than slipping on a banana peel it's cancer, which robs our loved ones too soon.  The more dark brown spots on the banana, the harder it's working to fight abnormal cells in your body.  Truthfully, bananas at that stage really just remind me of being carsick, sitting in the back seat of an unairconditioned staion wagon, driving across the flat part of the country while my sister threw up.  I'll give cottonwood leaves a solid 3 stars.  Bananas will be reviewed at another time.

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):  Twins.  You knew that was coming, didn't you, Gemini?  Hasn't everyone longed to be a twin at some point?  Having that person who knew you before you were born, who's heartbeat synchronized with yours, and with whom you share a secret language and all the DNA your parents had to offer.  And the capers you could pull off!  No, I'm the other one!  

And yet, our culture values uniqueness so much that we love pigeons and snowflakes.  Well, snowflakes anyway.  Maybe we don't value uniqueness, come to think about it.  Look at the suburbs.  Look at the clothes we wear.  Without having been a twin (as far as I know, although my mother suspects that I was a twin who stole the resources in utero and killed my sister.  Jeez.), or even being close friends with a twin, I'm giving twins 4.5 stars.   

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  Bedspreads.  Ok, this thing happened, I think in the late 1990's or so when bedspreads went away and everyone switched to comforters that have their own giant pillowcase type thing that you're supposed to wash regularly.  Although the fluffy puffy comfort is very luxurious and it's easy to fall asleep under a cloud of heavy fluff, which is perfect sleeping conditions, wrestling those things back into their cover is a giant pain in the ass.  Cleaning the cover is something I used to do very occasionally, and I'd do it like a sport.  Every so often, I go curling or wash the comforter cover.  (Truth:  I've never been curling.  But I'd like to go.) . But now that I have this beautiful big hairy dog who sleeps wherever she likes, and where she likes is wherever the humans have been sitting or sleeping, well, I dunno.  I am faced with the choice of further surrendering to the life of a crazy single person, with my track veering farther and farther from the rest of the humans, and now add, "AND, she smells like dog!"  Or I wrestle the unwieldy fluffy thing into the giant pillow case regularly.  Bedspreads, though they're easy, lack the weight, the loft, the sheer comfort of the aptly named comforter.  So I'll give the bedspread 2 stars.

Explaining the afterlife to my dog...

 The other day, my dog asked me what happens when we die.  Gulp. I look at Jasmine and think dammit.  I didn't think dogs knew about mo...