Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The 10 Types of Juneau Rain: Your Definitive Guide

1. The Widowmaker: So named for its ability/tendency to bring down small water and air craft, this pounding rain is accompanied by fog so dense you forget that mountains, trees, and other terrain features ever existed on earth. Suggested attire/equipment: head-to-toe rubber and a float coat.

2. The Hydraulic Needles: This is what Forrest Gump would call the “little bitty stingin’ rain.” It’s characterized by small, painful, wind-driven droplets usually delivered in a direct hit to the face at a 45 degree angle. Suggested attire/equipment: protective eyewear.

3. The Escapeable Misery: This is the dreary rain that falls only on cursed downtown and Douglas, and that you can fortunately easily escape by driving 25 miles further north to Lena. Suggested attire/equipment: Goretex on Douglas and downtown; T-shirt and shorts at Eagle Beach.

4. The October Non-Surprise: This is the rain that falls, predictably, throughout the entire month of October. Suggested attire/equipment: more head-to-toe rubber.

5. The Julytober: This is the rain that falls, somewhat less predictably, throughout the entire month of July, turning the summer into an unwelcome predecessor to fall. Suggested attire/equipment: the three Ps: Pot, Prozac and a Plane ticket.

6. The Snain: As its name suggests, this is the snow-rain combo that can fall anytime from October to April, and makes you question if there will ever be real snow or real winter again, or if we are just going to continue our long, depressing slide into irreversible climate change. Suggested attire/equipment: hat, gloves, down, rubber, a powerful lobbyist.

7. The Winter-killer: This is the “big ol’ fat rain” that arrives shortly after a really great snow and makes the entire ski hill, nordic trails, and every frozen lake thaw to shit, thus setting winter back into fall by another month. Suggested attire/equipment: The Three P’s.

8. The Axl Rose: This is the cold rain that falls in November, so named for Guns N’ Roses’ signature hit song, “November Rain.” Suggested attire/equipment: an iPod with this song playing on loop.

9. The Sidewinder: This is any of the foregoing types of rain, propelled by winds over 35 mph and coming straight at your face due east or west. In other words, "the rain that flew in sideways." Suggested attire/equipment: everything listed above.

10. The Misty Mountain Cloud Trap: This is the type of misty rain you experience when you are literally INSIDE a cloud, and you say to yourself, wow. I can’t believe I am in a cloud. On the ground. But yet here I am. INSIDE a cloud. On the GROUND. How did I get here? Suggested attire/equipment: A substantial chunk of time to take stock of your entire life.

An anonymous creative genius posted this in the break room at work. I wish I could take credit for it, but alas!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Your Excuse for Missing the Solar Eclipse

A friend posted this "solar eclipse identity" diagram on Facebook in honor of (duh) the solar eclipse, and since I missed it, I thought it'd be fun to make a similar chart to determine the real reason you missed the eclipse:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Please God, Not the Mascots!

Anything but that! NOT THE MASCOTS!

This has been a VERY hard week for "white culture" in America and its freedom-y advocates on Twitter.

First, it's been forced to defend its sanitized confederate past by continuing to pretend monuments to a treasonous band of losers that plunged the nation into a bloody civil war so they could own other human beings as property are worth saving, despite the trauma the sight of them inflicts on slavery's many descendants, because "heritage."

Then it's had to work hard--without very compelling spokespeople--to establish a moral equivalency between "white culture" and other cultures, when we all know that "white culture" is not about celebrating Irish or German or Scottish heritage, as we already do.

It's about reveling in the perceived genetic superiority of white skin and its attendant entitlements, and bristling at the reality that melanin-based privilege is eroding, which is scary. Because really then what? White supremacists, by and large, are neither attractive nor intelligent, and have no other leverage in the world other than their white skin. 

As the Vice writer @jules_su so perfectly summarized on Twitter, "fascism is when you think capitalism will make you rich because you're great, but when you grow up and suck, you blame Jews and blacks instead." (He omitted immigrants, but probably just ran out of characters).

Now, it appears that the grave injustice of toppling monuments to white supremacy has trickled down the slippery slope to . . . wait for it . . . COLLEGE SPORTS MASCOTS

And from there, as we well know, it's a short hop skip and jump to changing the name of the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians or any other number of professional sports teams that rub salt in the wounds of colonialist cultural genocide by making crude caricatures out of other human beings who apparently are way out of line to suggest that perhaps this "tradition" is unnecessary and disgusting and should end in fucking 2017.

Here's a better idea: pour all your outrage about sports mascots and statues of horses and tradition and heritage into outrage over the very-present reason they exist in the first place. And here's an even better idea, borrowed from the rally in Boston this weekend:

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Junk Food House

Everyone had one growing up (at least if you were lucky enough to have food and shelter in America). Well let me modify that slightly: you either had one, or you were one.

The junk food house. 

You know what I'm talking about. The one house that had AAALLLL the goods. The one where the parents don't give a shit if you eat Count Chocula or Fritos after school. Not because they were bad parents--not at all. It's just that they decided to forego the Capri Sun battle for other battles, like violin or soccer maybe. 

And the full benefit of their junk food largesse fell to the us, the kids.

The thing of it was, the kids who lived in the junk food house never even seemed to know how good they had it. You'd show up and casually open the pantry in their kitchen after school, hoping for some whole wheat pretzels, at best. And then . . . 


There it was, gleaming like a cache of gold and jewels that Indiana Jones or Lara Croft Tomb Raider or some shit just swung into a cave on a vine in order to steal. Cheetos. Little Debbie Snack Cakes. Cool Ranch Doritos. Hershey Bars. Marshmallows. 

And you'd turn around wide-eyed and stick a thumb behind your shoulder and whisper yell "DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU'RE SITTING ON HERE?!?!?!?" But your friend would just shrug like it was nothing, and watch with disinterest while you continued to paw over all the options before selecting a package of Bugles.

And even though it was the 60th time you'd been over to their house, the glee of unfettered access to junk food was never diminished. Admit it: you know that person just popped into your head and you're about to tag/@ them.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sugar and Screen Justice Shall be Served!

In these trying times, the one beacon of light has been my two children and their strong sense of social and civic responsibility. Now you're probably thinking:  How does she know for a FACT that her kids are two woke AF mini-citizens of the world? 

Now I don't mean to brag, but it's because they fight for justice, of course! And by "fight for" I mean "fight each other for." And by "justice," I mean sugar and screen time.

As two First World children with all their basic needs (and nearly all their gratuitous wants) reliably and consistently met, Paige and Isaac are blessed enough to have time to focus on what really matters in this world:

Who got more sugar and/or iPad during any given span of time. 

You see, sugar and screen time are valuable household resources to which neither of these kids necessarily has equal access at all times. Their draconian overlords only let them have the iPad on the weekends--not out of virtue or sanctimony--but simply because the iPad turns them into punishing, insufferable assholes. 

No, we save the iPad for when we, their overlords, need it: at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning or a transcontinental flight to the east coast.

Sugar is a bit tricker because it's less predictable, sprinkled into our food supply, and almost unavoidable in sickening quantities. Corn syrup is its own food group in 'Murica, and every activity is followed by a fucking snack made out of sugar and you're like the worst Grinch ever if you point this out.


My kids expect sugar justice and they will settle for nothing less: You finish the first day of school? BAM! Ice cream time. You were good in the supermarket and didn't nag for a bunch of shit? BOOM. Here's a donut. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of books that caution against doing EXACTLY this.

So that's the demand. Whether it will be met is anyone's guess, which I guess is what makes it all such an exciting emotional roller coaster. Because God help you if one finds out that the other secretly got Tic-Tacs on an errand the other was absent for.

These grave miscarriages of justice are added to the running tally of statistics in a long, ongoing sociological study being conducted by Paige and Isaac, to see who is truly more loved and cared for, as measured by the amount of screen time and sugar they each receive.

One day not far from today, I hope my kids are so busy marching in the streets along with their mother that they've stopped thinking about screen time and sugar all together. 

But for now, sadly, Tina Fey's mildly funny and majorly tone deaf #sheetcaking movement has nothing on our family.

American Depression: The Struggle is Real

Last week, I went to Minneapolis to meet up with my mom and spend a weekend with three cousins Paige and I had never met before. We did a bunch of touristy things around the city, and took a sunset boat ride on the Mississippi River, where I snapped this picture. 

The elephant in the room all weekend was Donald Trump. He was (and is) ever-present in everyone's mental landscape, if only because he wakes each day determined to make a spectacle of himself at the expense of everything else, including national security and unity. 

They knew we couldn't stand him, and we knew they'd probably voted for him, so we just didn't go there, which is fine. I think it's destructive to engage in arguments with my fellow Americans (much less my family) about President Trump (God, it still hurts to type that). Pointing fingers, blaming each other, attacking each other: It's self-destructive. It's unproductive. And it serves to yank on threads that further unravel us.

But the depression and the struggle is real. 

We have long ago crossed the Rubicon from "politics" to a genuine civic crisis, and we need all hands on deck to resolve and survive it. Yet there must be a balance between staying informed and active, and not completely burning out and crawling into a hole of depression over the tone Trump is setting in America and the utter havoc his administration has wreaked on us in less than a year.

Scholars of fascism and authoritarianism warned us this would happen, and as it all unfolds it still feels impossible. I know I think about this too much and it feels unhealthy. But I am a Jew, a woman, and a human being in this body, on this planet, with two children.

I can't help it. 

I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is open Twitter to see what sort of crazy Trump unleashed on the world from his Android overnight. I spend much of the next hour panicky and sad, until I distract myself with the mundane machinery of everyday life: helping the kids get ready for school, getting out the door, sitting down at my desk and burrowing into my work.

Everyday life goes on, as it did (and does) for the citizen-victims of every country that was ever squeezed in the abusive grip of a dangerous megalomaniac. Except now it's us, and finding an anchor of sanity and purpose amid chaos and misery feels harder with each passing day, and with each affront to our democratic norms and our national moral fabric.

American depression: the struggle is real.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Empathy and a Moral Compass are Fundamental to Real Leadership. Trump Lacks Both.

It’s taken me the better part of a week to crystalize my thoughts on the events that unfolded in Charlottesville and our President’s response to them.

What I’m about to say isn’t new or original. It’s all been said before by people smarter than I am, in more articulate terms. But I think it bears repeating and reiterating, if only because failure to articulate and identify the moral rot now at the center of our democracy serves to condone and thus perpetuate it.

It should go without saying that Nazis and white supremacists and those who oppose them are not morally equivalent.

It should also go without saying that the white supremacist movement—which is dedicated to retaining power, control, and a eugenics-based superiority over “inferior” races and cultures—is not equivalent to movements by the targets of white supremacy (e.g. Blacks, Jews, LGBT, Feminists), that seek recognition of their humanity and equality under the law.

It should also go without saying that the confederacy, represented broadly by Robert E. Lee, for example, and our democracy, represented broadly by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, say, are not historically equivalent.

The confederacy was an illegitimate band of traitors that lost an attempted coup against our democracy. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, slave owners and flawed human beings to be sure, founded that democracy and drafted its guiding documents, and Abraham Lincoln steered the country through the confederacy’s criminal attempt to undo their work.

So no. 

Removing statutes of confederate “heroes” is not the same—intellectually, historically, logically, ethically, or morally—as removing statues of the founding fathers. Nor is that removal “erasing history” any more than removing a statute of Hitler at a Holocaust Memorial or of Osama Bin Laden at Ground Zero would be.

But there is a deeper issue at play in Trump’s self-destructive and all-around insane response to Charlottesville, reflected in these eight words: “I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane.”

That’s what he said in his near universally-panned press conference at Trump Tower, when asked pointedly whether he would put white supremacists and neo-Nazis on the same “moral plane” as their liberal and leftist resisters.

In those eight words, Trump once again revealed his core deficiency and the true mark of a sociopath and clinical narcissist: lack of empathy and a moral compass. This void has been clear and present throughout Trump’s life and career: in his personal life, in his business dealings, and now in his public policy in ways too numerous and too well-documented to name.

Trump has no empathy, and he has no moral compass. You have never seen him laugh. You have never seen him cry. Indeed, you have never seen him express any genuine emotion at all—only an apish simulacrum of human expression and feeling. 

So of course he's not putting anyone "on a moral plane." He can't even put himself on one.

True modern leadership requires, at a minimum, empathy as defined on a poster hung in the hallway of my child’s elementary school. All hope for the future of our democracy now lies with a Congressional willingness to recognize that, and act accordingly.