Monday, August 31, 2015

Verbatim Transcript of Horrifyingly Realistic Obamapocalypse

Verbatim text of POTUS' terrifying speech in Anchorage on climate change:

Thawing permafrost destabilizes the earth on which 100,000 Alaskans live, threatening homes, damaging transportation and energy infrastructure, which could cost billions of dollars to fix.

Warmer, more acidic oceans and rivers, and the migration of entire species, threatens the livelihoods of indigenous peoples, and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism. Reduced sea levels leaves villages unprotected from floods and storm surges. Some are in imminent danger; some will have to relocate entirely. In fact, Alaska has some of the swiftest shoreline erosion rates in the world.

Alaska’s fire season is now more than a month longer than it was in 1950. At one point this summer, more than 300 wildfires were burning at once. Southeast of here, in our Pacific Northwest, even the rainforest is on fire. More than 5 million acres in Alaska have already been scorched by fire this year -- that's an area about the size of Massachusetts. If you add the fires across Canada and Siberia, we’re talking 300 [30] million acres -– an area about the size of New York.

But the point is that climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now. Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy, our infrastructure, human health, human safety -- now. Today. And climate change is a trend that affects all trends -- economic trends, security trends. Everything will be impacted. And it becomes more dramatic with each passing year.

Since 1979, the summer sea ice in the Arctic has decreased by more than 40 percent -- a decrease that has dramatically accelerated over the past two decades. One new study estimates that Alaska’s glaciers alone lose about 75 gigatons -- that’s 75 billion tons -- of ice each year.

To put that in perspective, one scientist described a gigaton of ice as a block the size of the National Mall in Washington -- from Congress all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, four times as tall as the Washington Monument. Now imagine 75 of those ice blocks. That’s what Alaska’s glaciers alone lose each year. The pace of melting is only getting faster. It’s now twice what it was between 1950 and 2000 -- twice as fast as it was just a little over a decade ago. And it’s one of the reasons why sea levels rose by about eight inches over the last century, and why they’re projected to rise another one to four feet this century.

Consider, as well, that many of the fires burning today are actually burning through the permafrost in the Arctic. So this permafrost stores massive amounts of carbon. When the permafrost is no longer permanent, when it thaws or burns, these gases are released into our atmosphere over time, and that could mean that the Arctic may become a new source of emissions that further accelerates global warming.

So if we do nothing, temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise between six and 12 degrees by the end of the century, triggering more melting, more fires, more thawing of the permafrost, a negative feedback loop, a cycle -- warming leading to more warming -- that we do not want to be a part of.



Take a Knee, Assclowns! Chris Christie Just Dropped Some Serious Science on Immigration Reform

Assclowns everywhere were forced to genuflect last week before their bold leader, New Jersey Governor and greasy-salami-stain-on-the-cocksack-of-humanity Chris Christie, after he proposed tracking immigrants in America "the way FedEx tracks packages."

Governor Christie did not offer details on how precisely he plans to emulate the global courier delivery service in the context of immigration reform; only that he would consult with its CEO, Frederick W. Smith, about how to replicate FedEx's method of scanning a bar code on each package at every step of its delivery.

Before rolling out this wonky piece of policy reform (rivaled only by his competitor Donald Trump's plan to build the Great Wall of China between San Diego and Mexico), the Christie camp considered several other options, a list of which O.H.M. has obtained through a Freedom of Information Request. 

A true and correct copy of that document appears below:



The Denali Name Change, in Limerick

President William McKinley
Whom Alaskans have looked upon dimly
And who never was here
For so much as a beer
Yet a mountain was named for him (grimly).

The Mountain has long been Denali
(Let’s not call someone Jim who’s named Sally!)
Yet they gave it a name
And who can we blame
But Ohioans who saw fit to rally?

Now the feds have made good on their talk-o
And have honored this mighty fine rock-o
By respecting Alaskans
With names Athabascan
Instead of some old dead Cheechako.

And speaking of people named Sally
Sec. Jewell has signed off on Denali
With thumbs-up from Obama
There won’t be more drama
O'er the name of this peak and its valley.

But some folks are not all that pleased
John Bohener will not be appeased
He’s defending Ohio
With a whine and a cry-o
About McKinley’s name being aggrieved.

Well Alaskans from Southeast to Nome
All of whom call the Last Frontier home
Know it took 40 years
But we're finally here
It's Denali wherever we roam.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Sadness I Feel When My Cereal is Over is Kafkaesque and Disproportionate to Reality

I routinely have a sensory and emotional experience that I am not sure anybody else really has, or at least not as often.

No matter how hungry or full I am, nothing makes me sadder than the end of my cereal bowl. There's something that is so promising about a big, crispy bowl of cereal (preferably Honey Nut Chex) and milk (in my case the hypoallergenic almond variety) not yet plundered by a spoon.

The first spoonful you take of that shit, you're all like, oh yeah, this is gonna be good! And then you just feel so happy eating it. Like the whole entire time. Maybe you're even reading the back of the box, and the cereal tastes so good that you are actually interested in reading and finding out what the "General Mills (TM) Promise" (TM) is. But then you get down to the last few bites, and drink the milk at the bottom, and look in your bowl and feel despair.

A deep, existential despair like no other. Having a second bowl just makes you feel sick, but yet the first bowl ending feels no less tragic.

I know I sound melodramatic. And I am not pretending that this is actually legitimately something to be sad about. It just bums me out, that cereal bowl ending.

And then I think to myself, what kind of human being am I, to be saddened by the end of a bowl of cereal? A ridiculous narcissistic asshole, that's who.

Basically what I'm saying is Honey Nut Chex makes me feel like the main character in a novel by Franz Kafka, and I could do without that feeling first thing in the morning.




16 Possible Sequels to the 2006 Documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth"

1. An Increasingly Obvious Fact
2. My Head Feels Four Degrees Cooler in the Sand
3. SHIT!
4. Waterworld II
5. A Highly Inconvenient Certainty 
6. Heckuva Job, People!
7. I Thought We Covered This
8. Earth to Humans: You're Killin' Me!

9. Science Makes Me Sad
10. A Deeply Unfortunate Reality
11. The Zombie Apocalypse is Here
12. Blame China
13. Why Am I Sweating in January?
14. Endless Summer II
15. A Snowball in Hell
16. We Told You So, Assholes

Saturday, August 29, 2015

10 Excuses That Only Work in Alaska, and 6 That Don't

I was born and raised in New York City, so I especially appreciated a piece I read in Time Out New York called "21 Excuses That Only Work in New York," most of which I agree with and can relate to.

But I've lived in Alaska for 10 years, so this article got me thinking: What kinds of excuses only work in Alaska? And what kinds don't? Here are a few:


Excuses That Work:
 

1. I need to take the day off from work today. The sun is out. (Southeast only).
2. I need to take the morning off from work today. It's a powder day.
3. Sorry I'm late, I hit a moose.
4. Sorry I'm late, I forgot to plug in my car last night and it wouldn't start. (Anywhere but Southeast).
5. Sorry I'm late, I had to dig out my car.
6. Sorry I'm three hours late. The plane had a mechanical.
7. Sorry I'm three days late. Some weather came in.

8. Sorry to cancel our plans. Someone invited me out on their boat.
9. Sorry I didn't respond to your text/call/email. I was out of cell range.
10. Sorry I'm late. Obama. (August 31, 2015 only).

Excuses That Don't Work
 
1. I didn't realize it was a potluck.
2. It's raining/snowing too hard.
3. I don't have the gear for that.
4. I left my garbage out.
5. Sorry I'm late, I was stuck in traffic (Anywhere but Anchorage).
6. But I don't like bluegrass.




Friday, August 28, 2015

I'm Pretty Sure She's Way More Interesting Than That

I love clothes and shoes, really I do. Maybe even a little too much. I'm the first to admit that my closet runneth over with too many cute dresses and kicks, and that I too often resort to retail therapy when I'm having a bad day.

But why is it that the very first thing the media wants to tell us about obviously accomplished women and girls is what brand of clothes they're wearing and how good or bad they look in them?

Michelle Obama has been more highly praised for her kitten heels and J. Crew dresses than for any of her numerous life accomplishments, as was Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady to whom she's often been compared.

And now one of the only things we know about her eldest daughter is what T shirt she wore last week and how quickly it sold out. Surely there's a lot more to Malia Obama than that?

Maybe it's because the world is curious about the children of presidents who are kept out of the limelight, so a newspaper will grasp at anything revelatory to write about them.

But think about the last time you saw a young (or not-so-young) man's existence --especially a world leader's son--reduced to the clothes on his body, i.e. his looks. I bet you can't think of a single time.

Of course fashion is a legitimate art form and topic. But unless you're a model or designer who makes her living in the fashion industry, why is the New York Times writing about your clothes? Why is the media interested in whether Malia Obama has a stylist? Would they be as curious about that if she were a boy? Or would they be asking different questions and writing about more substantive things, like maybe her plans for the future, instead of reducing her to a living mannequin?

The answer to that last question, I'm afraid, is definitely yes.




Thursday, August 27, 2015

Anchorage's Snow City Cafe is a Little Known Gem!

UPDATE, 9/1/15: THE PRESIDENT IS HERE! Snow City is about to go from top secret to secret service!

Anchorage locals are in on a little secret no one else knows about, especially tourists: a rarely-visited eatery called Snow City Cafe which is always totally empty at breakfast and lunch.

Located in a dark, tucked-away corner of 4th Avenue and L Street--next to the three biggest hotels in town and half of the municipal and state office buildings in Alaska--this cozy brunch spot is a hidden gem that, for some reason, nobody seems to know exists.

If you're craving a salad, a sandwich, or a made-to-order omelette, you won't have to stand in line here or wait more than five minutes for a table. And you certainly won't have to snake out into the street five blocks down for bacon and eggs. Especially at 10:00 a.m. on a weekend or during lunch on a weekday, which are Snow City's least busy times.

Basically, in the short short time it takes to watch all three Lord of the Rings Movies plus The Hobbit parts one and two, you too can have a Cobb salad to go (with balsamic dressing on the side).

Discover the place Anchorage locals have known about for years, today!





"Where Do You Want to Be Sprinkled?" Or, "I Want to Be a Mechanical Pencil When I'm Dead"

Watching your parents grow old is hard; probably more so if you're an only child and your little family of origin is a single fall, stroke, or skipped heartbeat away from death's dark abyss.

Although my parents are in apparent good health at this moment, the three of us are by turns dark, macabre, and neurotic by nature. We have no problem having awkward conversations about what they want me to do with their dead bodies someday. They believe, as I do, that when you're dead you're dead: In a black oblivion as opposed to a bucolic afterlife, which would be nice, but don't count on it. 

The contents of their New York City apartment are another matter. They've lived there since 1975. I suggested to my mom point blank that she begin shedding possessions now. She's 70, so even if she lives to be 100, it will probably take one year of purging for every five years of possession accumulation. At that rate, I will still end up trying to unload half-used rolls of wrapping paper at an estate sale.

Anyway, our overall comfort with/acceptance of death is how I came to ask the obvious question: "Where do you want to be sprinkled?" My parents think being buried is a waste of space and resources, so they want to be cremated. My dad claimed that throwing ashes around NYC is illegal littering, but people do it anyway. My mom said she thought "someplace with water" would be good. 

I didn't end up with a clear answer.

Fortunately for us, a geophysicist was over for dinner last night and was privy to this conversation. No seriously. A friend who teaches at the university in Juneau claimed that people's cremated ashes could be pressurized into a diamond, and that there were companies who did just that for a not insignificant fee. 

My dislike of diamonds is well documented, but I like pencils, and so do my parents. I'm no geophysicist, but my understanding is that graphite is half way to a diamond, and that perhaps for a discount, the cremated-ashes-diamond-manufacturer could stop short of turning my parents into a tennis bracelet and instead make them into mechanical pencils, more specifically the little lead cartridges you load into mechanical pencils.

My dad always edited documents with these and I'm partial to them myself. And there's no object more powerful than the mighty pen. (Or pencil, as the case may be). I think if I used a mechanical pencil loaded up with my parents, I would always feel their presence in a meaningful way that I wouldn't if I wore them on a pair of studded earrings, or if I sprinkled them in the Hudson River somewhere between the George Washington Bridge and that new-ish sewage treatment plant in Northern Manhattan. The one that has managed to rehabilitate a former Superfund Site into a legitimate candidate for the dispersal of a loved one's remains while simultaneously destroying the neighborhood of persons lacking the financial resources to battle the public nuisance of its stench. But there's a park on the roof, so it's all good.

Ultimately, I might not need an answer to "where do you want to be sprinkled" after all. My folks seemed to be OK with just being turned into mechanical pencil lead, and I think that's what we'll do.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mr. Dark's Colon Cleanse

There's spam, and then there's spam. 

Every now and then, I open my inbox to a piece of spam so good, it's like Santa Claus himself dropped Super Mario Bros. 3 down the chimney in 1989, and I just have to tell the whole wide world about it.

"Mr. Dark's Colon Cleanse" is one such nugget of spam.

Who is this mysterious Mr. Dark, you ask? I have no idea, but I suspect he MAY be a limited-English proficient robot-purveyor of rectal Roto Rootering services conveniently available throughout the developing world. 

Here's what he proposed to me (via a completely unrelated blog post, of course):



At first it seems like Mr. Dark is talking about yoga, Pilates, or some form of power stretching. But then you read a little further, and discover that no, he must be explaining how to evict six days' worth of backed-up breakfast burritos from your rectal storage unit. Otherwise why would he have included an embedded link advertising a colon cleanse?

Now, I did not click on the link for fear that doing so would immediately funnel the modest contents of my bank account directly to a massage parlor in Uzbekistan and/or cause my mobile device to self-combust in my hands after showering my screen with a cloudburst of pornographic pop-up windows. 

But I DO plan to follow Mr. Dark's shit-taking calisthenics protocol from now on. 

Eight glasses of water plus this routine--especially the part where I "really tune in" to "reach my arms home" into a "nice beautiful crescent" should "it" fail to "make it on its own"--will probably recalibrate my whole digestive system to the efficiency of a Swiss watch.

Sure my kids will be an hour late for school every morning, but so what? It's worth it for the example I'll be setting. There are some things you just can't learn in a classroom. 

Thanks Mr. Dark!

Kirk Cameron's Signature Coffee Brand is the Best Thing I've Heard About All Day

Children of the '80s: I hope you're sitting down, because I have a bombshell piece of news to report, and for a nice change of pace, it's actually happy news.

One of my friends recently alerted me to the fact that Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame has his own brand of coffee beans! As I write this, I am drinking a cup of break-room Costco Kirkland (no pun intended) brand coffee with my lunch and wishing--no, praying--that I had something better. Like Kirk Cameron's coffee, for example, which has somehow been blessed by the hand of God, despite the fact that you thought (up until today) that coffee beans and religion have about as much in common with one another as fish and bicycles. 

Well you'd be wrong to think that, because while Kirk isn't busy restoring our nation by making the obvious link between "ISIS & Planned Parenthood: The Evil Among Us," informing us that the latter is (DUH) "shipping dead baby heads," pointing out that "there is no such thing as free porn," and dropping science by proving that teeth are rock-solid evidence that evolution is a total crock of bullshiz, he's been gathering coffee beans in the name of saving Christmas.

Everyone knows that coffee is the new wine, and that Jesus turned water into wine, and that therefore it's a small leap from there to a delicious cup of sacred coffee. Also, everyone knows that you might as well give yourself a Folgers enema if you're not brewing your coffee cup-by-cup in a stove-top espresso maker using the finest small-batch, craft-roasted, free-trade, responsibly-sourced, shade-grown, fresh-ground, non-GMO organic beans available in the cloud forests of Indonesia. 

Seriously, your coffee needs to be modified by at least three hyphenated adjectives to be worth drinking.

So what does a fancy cup of coffee have to do with ISIS, porn, evolution, dead baby heads, and religion? Well nothing, except that the proceeds from this fancy cup of coffee will help save Christmas (somehow, still not sure how), while all those other things are systematically taking December 25 and (somehow, also still not sure how) stomping it into tiny little shards like so many delicate ornaments. 

Cue evil laugh: MWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!

I thought hosing myself down with Adam Levine's signature fragrance was the be-all and end-all. Then I thought no, front row tickets to see Corey Feldman's band is where it's at. Then I was all like no no, I need to see Screech from Saved by the Bell (a.k.a. estranged cast-member Dustin Diamond) lose his love handles on Celebrity Fit ClubAnd then I thought I just need to do all of these things at once while drinking some of Kirk Cameron's pious coffee as I gaze lovingly at the dead baby head mounted on my wall, bought and paid for with my donation to Planned Parenthood's HPV vaccine program for teen girls. (Because like, that's the prize they give their most valued donors. NPR gives you a tote bag or a mug; Planned Parenthood ships you a dead baby head).

You should do the same, and while you're at it, I highly recommend diving straight down the kirkcameron.com internet rabbit hole because I assure you: The gems you will find on there are better than anything else on Earth or in Heaven.



The Deck is Stacked Against Parents in the U.S.A.

Every few months, I read an article online about how American parents need to step up their game and start parenting like the Europeans do. Do this the Danish way, do that like French moms do it, blah blah blah. And every time I read one of these articles, a little piece of me dies inside and I feel a sense of utter futility and profound hopelessness. 

Why?

Because let's face it: good old Uncle Sam has kinda stacked the deck against American parents who are trying against all odds to keep their kids from turning into obese, under-educated cretins. 

I just returned from a trip to Europe with my kids, to visit American friends of ours who are living there. I'd been to Europe before, but not since having children, and I'm starting to realize a few fundamental institutional and cultural differences about how things are done there. And I'm starting to think that maybe this is why we American parents are not exactly "set up for success" (to borrow a popular parenting phrase) when it comes to raising our kids to be model citizens. Generally speaking, here's what many European countries and the U.S. tell parents and kids, respectively, starting from birth:

Paid Parental Leave
Europe: One full year for all parents! Enjoy bonding with your kids, moms and dads!
U.S.A.: Fuck you, moms! Who told you to get pregnant? (Uh, no you can't have free birth control). Now go nurse your baby on a gas station toilet while attending a work teleconference on your iPhone.

Health Care
Europe: Oh your kid has meningitis? No problem. Here's a doctor and some medicine you can get over the counter without a prescription.
U.S.A.: Hope your kid doesn't die in the Emergency Room! Your bill's in the mail. Yes, you have to pay $40 for that aspirin the hospital gave you. No, your insurance doesn't cover that claim nor have you met your $10,000 deductible yet. Soweeeeeee.


Child Care
Europe: Please enjoy this more-than-adequate subsidized child care courtesy of a country who wants to invest in its kids.
U.S.A.: Just quit working. Trust us, it's cheaper than day care. P.S.: Screw your kids!

Public School
Europe: Please enjoy our diverse, academically-appropriate, state-funded curriculum. Also you are highly unlikely to be shot while memorizing your times tables.
U.S.A.: Go fill in some bubbles on this stupid standardized test in which you're being asked to distinguish a blue horse from a green one. Also, you might get shot in the head with a semi-automatic assault rifle wielded by a disgruntled lunatic with his own personal arsenal while you're in the middle of doing that. No biggie.

Dinner
Europe: Please enjoy this modest plate of farm-to-table unprocessed meat, cheese, fruit, and bread. Then go play outside in a meadow or run down to the cafe and buy yourself a fresh-baked croissant until bedtime.
U.S.A.: Go stuff this Super Sized (TM) McDonald's (TM) Happy Meal (TM) into your face as fast as possible, along with a side of antibiotics, 50 tablespoons of sugar, and hormones that make your kids grow boobs by age 8. Definitely watch some T.V. while you're eating, because McDonald's tastes best when paired with re-runs of American Idol.

Children's Museums
Europe: Here, run this science experiment involving a lab coat and three computers.
U.S.A.: Go shop for some pretend plastic food on your way to the gift shop.

Exercise & Transportation
Europe: Walk on this sidewalk and/or board this efficient train.
U.S.A.: Drive six blocks and park at the closest spot to the handicapped spot you can find, even though you are not handicapped. Also, if you don't have a car, use a segue or even a hover-board. Anything but your feet. If you do use your feet--or God forbid a bike--try not to get hit by a car. Because then you'll be in the emergency room, and we just told you what THAT's like.

Sex Education
Europe: Sex happens and your kids need to know about it.
U.S.A.: Let's pretend sex doesn't exist so our kids get pregnant at 15 and are then persecuted for considering an abortion.

Basically, the only cultural parenting point that America scores over Europe is its intolerance for smoking. And even that somehow looks better in Paris.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

White Whine

Oh Napa Valley Wine Train, you make me laugh so hard and loud.

This week, a book club composed of mostly black women got booted off a Napa Valley wine train for laughing too hard, a.k.a. laughing while black. When the guests complained about their mistreatment, the train management first defended itself on Facebook, claiming the eviction was the result of "verbal and physical abuse" by a bunch of sweet middle-aged Kindle-owning ladies; that "attempts to address the issue were ignored"; and that it was necessary to "involve" the train's "own railroad police that escort the train every day."

Then the train did an about-face right on its caboose when it suddenly discovered that a social media shitstorm had climbed aboard without a ticket. The train's CEO uncorked a bottle of vintage white whine and poured it into the public's collective glass. It tasted like this:
The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100% wrong in its handling of this issue. We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.
Well, I swished that one around in my mouth for a minute, and spat out the following translation: 
The Napa Valley Wine Train is a 100% bag of dicks, and we are sorry we got called out for being racist asswipes. We accept full responsibility for the well-deserved clusterfuck our bullshit ignited and for the chain of events that led to the regrettable need for us to defend our reputation in public.
As a self-proclaimed loud-ass white bitch who's been chastised MANY a time for laughing too loudly in public--including in racially mixed company--I can tell you this story made me both laugh AND want to switch careers. 

Napa Valley Wine Train, can I PLEASE go work for your crisis P.R. firm? Oh wait wait. Never mind. I want a job as a sergeant-in-arms of the wine police that escorts your train every day. Do I get a little brass badge shaped like a grape leaf and a gun that shoots Malbec? Will I be accused of misconduct or placed on administrative leave for serving a sub-standard Pinot Blanc? 


God I hope so. 

Both of those jobs are all but guaranteed to get me kicked off planes, trains, and automobiles for laughing too hard. In the meantime, Napa Valley Wine Train, you suck harder than a $6 box of Franzia and what you did deserves to send you right off the P.R. rails.

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes Rewritten for Reality

I love the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. If you haven't noticed, his wisdom is forever a source of pithy quotes on the Interwebs. And all of his advice is great, but I think at least some of it should be adapted to better fit reality. I've taken the liberty of doing that here by adding just a few words to Thich Nhat Hanh's sage insights:
  • Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. This is also a very good song by The Police. Seriously, it's really stood the test of time, don't you think?
  • You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free. That way is to repeatedly listen to a song that reminds you of that person, look at your phone every 15 minutes hoping you didn't just miss a text from that person, and try very hard to resist sending that person a long, angry email chastising them for ignoring you.
  • Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. And please be sure to spray the inside of your boots with Dr. Scholl's deodorant spray because no one likes making out with someone who has bad breath, not even the Earth.
  • Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. I mean, life could be even more beautiful after a six week treatment of Crest Whitening Strips, but whatever; that's neither here nor there.
  • Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive. The few who do have reached down between their legs while giving birth and, at an OB nurse's direction, felt the top of her baby's head while screaming like a maniac and praying for death.
  • There is no way to happiness--happiness is the way. Except there are certain things like drugs and alcohol that can take you to happiness very quickly and you should not hesitate to rely upon them when necessary to achieve a sense of profound albeit fleeting tranquility.
  • Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos--the trees, the clouds, everything. Think about that, no, I mean, REALLY think about that the next time you eat a bag of White Cheddar Pirate's Booty and a Diet Coke. See what you did there? You basically just said a big FUCK YOU to the trees, the clouds, and everything, you irredeemable ingrate.
  • Understanding means throwing away your knowledge. And by that logic, Donald Trump is a genius who understands everything and should be President of the United States.
  • When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight. Usually, the very first insight you have is that your enemy just kicked your ass.
  • If your love is only a will to possess, it is not love. Unless you have the will to possess the new Mac Book Air, because that shit is dope and you will love it for reals.
  • There is no enlightenment outside of daily life. And there's not much enlightenment outside of The Daily Show either, so it's a shame Jon Stewart is retiring.
  • Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed. So get out your awareness flashlight and shine it directly on your bills in the hopes that they will be transformed into "paid in full."
  • May our heart's garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers. If you are allergic to flowers, sorry, but your heart will remain in an antihistamine induced coma.
  • Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment. Secondarily, it comes from bad DNA. Its tertiary cause is assholes.
  • Drink your tea slowly and reverently, especially if it is 'shroom tea because you will laugh hysterically and hallucinate some seriously funky shit.
  • Real love begins where nothing is expected in return. Still, it'd be nice to get some flowers or candy every once in awhile for fuck's sake.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Banning Personal Flamethrowers is Downright Un-American

I was nothing short of outraged when I read an article this week reporting that the mayor of a Detroit suburb wants to ban personal flamethrowers in his fair city. A local startup called "The Ion Productions Team" manufactures the devices, which can be bought online for $899 and look like this:



Let me be the first to warn you that Mayor James Fouts of Warren, MI is poised to trample all over our Second Amendment rights. Apparently, Mayor Fouts has forgotten that our Founding Fathers envisioned a nation in which every man, woman, and child has the right to bear a "handheld device that shoots 25-foot streams of fire and is fueled by an attached can of combustible liquid." 

So I'll be damned to a cold, flamethrower-less day in a flame-free hell if I sit idly by while one power-hungry, fascist jackboot of a local elected official tries to strip me of my God-given right to a personal flamethrower. Next thing you know it'll be personal surface-to-air missiles. What's next? High-powered assault rifles?

Mayor Fouts stated his position that the personal flamethrowers have "very deadly potential for a deadly disastrous result, with no benefit. I think the biggest fear people have is the fear of being burned alive."

WRONG! 


Mayor Fouts, with all due respect sir, I beg to differ: There are many, MANY benefits to owning a personal flamethrower. And the biggest fear people have is the fear of NOT being able to wield their personal flamethrower to obtain those benefits. Furthermore, I am less afraid of being burned alive than I am of living in a country where I'm not allowed to burn myself alive. (Also, you used the adjective "deadly" twice in one sentence, and this redundancy greatly diminishes the impact of your argument).

Why, just today I thought to myself, "I wish I had a personal flamethrower," because my daughter, Paige, called me Severus Snape (a.k.a. Alan Rickman) from the Harry Potter movies, and told me I looked exactly like him. 
He looks like this:

 

And I look like this:


I'm not saying I don't see the resemblance. But Paige's observation made me want to light a lot of things on fire very quickly--something only a personal flamethrower can do. Moments later, Paige had a complete meltdown when, after no fewer than 18 tries, I failed to put her hair into an acceptable "Professor McGonnagall bun" that met her exacting standards.

At that point, I felt compelled to gather up every Harry Potter related item in our home (along with a defunct juicer, several paperback copies of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "Toddler 411," and a box of photos from 1993-1999), place them outside in a pile, and immediately set them ablaze with my very own $899 personal flamethrower. 

In fact, I felt like knew with certainty that no other disposition of these possessions would do, and I am aghast that we live in a country where this option may not be available to all.

Ever since being compared to Severus Snape by my own progeny, I hereby commit--here and now--to securing the basic human right to personal flamethrower ownership for every American.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

12 Things Alaskans Need to Know About President Obama's Historic Visit to Alaska

1. By the time it's over, you'll be nostalgic for press coverage of Sarah Palin.

2. Humpy's is hosting a 72 hour drinking game where you get a free beer every time you hear the words "climate change," "historic visit," and/or "FAA airspace" on TV.

3. The congressional delegation and numerous other Alaska luminaries are publicly competing for the "most snubbed by POTUS" award. The trophy is a little gold-plated oil rig and the ceremony will be held on the Quarter Deck of the Captain Cook under heightened security.

4. Anyone who's anyone is going to be in the same room with Obama, so if you don't get to see Obama in person, you're a total loser. Like when Elton John came to the Sullivan Arena that one time.


5. The White House is paying a plane to sky-write "SORRY MOOSE HUNTERS!," and airdrop some of those little moose dropping novelty chocolates over the whole interior as recompense for being grounded during the moose hunt.

6. A friend of a friend of a cousin's friend works for the secret service and has it on good authority that Obama is going to shoot hoops with a bunch of high school students in an as-yet-to-be-named Alaskan village.

7. The White House and the rest of America apparently just figured out that there are still places in the United States that not even the President can get to safely and easily.

8. Obama has ordered bear claw salad tongs and Alaska Grown hoodies for his entire staff and family, so don't try to buy any for yours this week.

9. The White House hasn't yet released details of what the weather will be during the President's visit nor confirmed whether the laws of gravity will continue to apply.

10. If you live in Alaska and haven't figured out by now that THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC VISIT you should pull a Chris McCandless immediately and just go get lost in the woods forever.


11. The President has granted the One Hot Mess blog an exclusive interview and will be guest-blogging from the Brooks Range.

12. Rand Paul is visiting at around the same time and no one even cares.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

DERP! Talks and Three Words I've Never Said

TED Talks, TED Talks, TED Talks. If you want to learn anything worth knowing nowadays, you'd better watch a TED Talk, or at least a podcast. Or a podcast of a TED Talk. Or a TED Talk about podcasts. You need to listen to everyone from Jimmy Carter to various famous-if-you-know-who-they-are grownup cool kids lecture you about orgasms, the secret of true happiness, and what it means to be vulnerable. 

Well, I for one think TED Talks are highly overrated. How do I know this? I just went on the TED website and every single TED Talk is rated by some totally over-the-top adjective: creative, inspiring, persuasive, moving, informative, funny, courageous, etc. It can't possibly be that all of the world's zillions of TED Talks are that wonderful, can it? Certainly some of them must be crappy, boring, useless, cringe-inducing, painful, and/or excruciating and punishing?

That's why I've decided that the universe needs a realistic answer to TED Talks, and they should be called "DERP! Talks." I'm volunteering to be the pilot speaker, and the first talk will be called, "Three Words I've Never Said." 

Here's what will happen. 

I'll stand on the sparse DERP! stage under bluish lighting with a microphone on my lapel and a huge PowerPoint screen in the background. The first slide will be the title of my DERP! Talk, "Three Words I've Never Said," and the second slide--presented with much fanfare--will be "I Got This."

That's because "I Got This" are three words I have never said, at least not together in that order. And that is because there is not a whole lot of "this" that I've "got" in this world. 

Accordingly, all of the successive slides will be all of the "this" that I simply have not "got." Slide after slide will illuminate my failings and shortcomings in giant, ten foot slide-show format: Ceramics; sewing; driving a stick-shift; overcoming social snubs and romantic slights; baking; gardening; calculus; cribbage; marathon-racing; trail running/biking/blazing; high-yield financial investing; and finish carpentry. It's a must-see.

Stay tuned for the first ever DERP! Talk titled "I Got This." Coming soon to a dimly-lit auditorium near you.



Nothing Says "IDGAF" Like An Adult Eating a Lollipop


An adult eating a lollipop is the ULTIMATE "I don't give a fuck" move. 

Think about it.

Cast your mind back to the last time you saw a grownup eating a lollipop. Think about how calm, cool, and collected they looked. Kind of like smoking a cigarette, but cooler, because they were only giving themselves cavities and not cancer (at least not as quickly and directly), and they were eliciting awe and admiration with their public consumption of a lollipop as opposed to disgust and contempt.

When it comes right down to it, nothing really says "I don't give a fuck" like an adult eating a lollipop. That person has their shit together. They're eating a child's candy in public and they just don't care. They don't have time for your bullshit, or anyone's bullshit for that matter. They are secure, confident, and appropriately indifferent to the world.

Whatever you're saying or doing, they are like stone cold SOLID under pressure with that lolly shoved in their cheek. If you really want to show the world that you don't give a fuck, walk--don't run--to the nearest convenience store and drop $.50 on a Dum-Dum or better yet a Blow-Pop, which then turns into gum, and chewing gum is also super cool looking and lasts even longer than a regular non-gum-filled lolly. 

Smacking your lolly and then your gum while the shit goes down. How cool is that? In a stressful meeting? Fuck it. You have a Blow-Pop. Someone's yelling at you in public, maybe giving you shit over a parking space? No problem! You just take that lollipop stick and twirl it around in your mouth like you don't give a fuck, because guess what? You don't. 

You're an adult eating a lollipop. And you're doing it like a BOSS.

Once in college I was nervous about encountering one of the many assholes that had fucked me over for the zillionth time. I knew I was going to run into him at a party, and I wasn't looking forward to it. I talked it over with one of my roommates, and that's when it hit me: I needed a lollipop, and what do you know, that lolly turned out to be my secret weapon. It was like a full on I-don't-give-a-fuck cloak for the entire night. It was fuck-giving KRYPTONITE.

Yup. No doubt about it. A lollipop is the ultimate cool.

30 Pointless First World Things I Said Out Loud Before 8 a.m. Today

1. Stop hitting each other.
2. Stop teasing each other.
3. How can we be out of sugar?
4. You already had your vitamins.
5. Clear your plate.
6. Watch your mouth.
7. Get dressed.
8. How many times do I have to say it?
9. Ugh, it's raining AGAIN?
10. Don't talk to me; I need coffee first.
11. I'm in the bathroom for fuck's sake!
12. Clean up these art supplies.
13. Stop whining.
14. This is ridiculous.
15. Really?!?!
16. Then go read a book!
17. Where's your soccer stuff?
18. How could you lose that?
19. You need to show more respect for your things.
20. Why the fuck are they emailing me before 8:00 a.m. on a weekend?
21. I'm so tired.
22. How can I be this tired?
23. No, you can't buy cartoons off iTunes.
24. Put the iPad down or you'll never see it again.
25. No way can you have my password.
26. You both need an attitude adjustment.
27. Stop whining.
28. Why is the news so depressing?
29. Where is Macedonia, exactly?
30. My first mistake this morning: Getting out of bed.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cell Phone Stores Are the New DMV

Cell phone stores are the new DMV, only worse. 

A visit to your local AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or GCI (Alaska only) outlet fills you with a unique sense of dread paralleled only by that bleak government office. 

That's because you know that you have to go there in person. You can't just phone it in, so to speak. And you know that no matter when you show up, you'll be spending your entire day there amongst the unwashed masses. You're bored, grumpy, impatient, and waiting to drop a bunch of money in fees on something for which modern society has created a "need."

You take a number and sit down on an uncomfortable plastic bench. The whole time, you're looking around at all the different phone options and trying to unravel the various "plans," all of which carry a pungent "the-house-always-wins" whiff about them.

Like renewal of your driver's license, it's time for your "upgrade." Your contract is up and you can't function without a new one. The people who finally call your name are a little younger, a little nicer, and notably less surly: They work in the private sector and know you have "your choice of carriers," and therefore feel compelled to project a false sense of cheer and hipness. They could definitely beat you at Call of Duty and were born sometime in the 90's. They're here to take care of you.

Except not really, because they also know the company they work for has you by the short and curlies, and that like all their competitors--with whom they're in cahoots in an Orwellian dystopia riddled with antitrust violations---they're literally--LITERALLY--selling you air, and you're going to buy it no matter what.

Even the background music is the same level of annoying, only different. There's a hip Apple-approved soundtrack here, unlike the DMV where you're a captive audience to Steve Miller Band and Van Morrison on loop. "Some people call me the space cowboy, dadadada yeaaaah, some call me the gangster of looooove, some people call me Mauriiice, whoo whoo, 'cause I speak, of the prophecies of loooov-- OH SHUT THE FUCK UP STEVE FUCKING MILLER!!!"

Now that song is stuck in your head. And all you can think about is the first boy who shoved his tongue down your throat and gave you a mix tape featuring that song, Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl, and Led Zeppelin's All of My Love in the hopes that exhibiting such a broad mastery of non-top-40 music would gain him access to your boobs.

God, cell phone stores are the absolute worst.

Ghosting, Free-Bleeding, and the Beauty of Labels

Words and labels tend to validate our experiences. We know this. Mankind has known it since the dawn of time. And that's why I’m glad 2015 has brought us words and labels to validate two frequent but unrelated experiences in most women's lives: "ghosting" and "free-bleeding."

Ghosting is "the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating but no longer wishes to date . . . Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender but is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills."

Research shows that ghosting can occur among friends as well as lovers, and that sometimes ghosting is even necessary for safety when you're involved with a bona fide psycho. But in most cases, ghosting is basically a cowardly, babyish, and increasingly trendy way of telling someone to fuck off; Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is said to have ghosted none other than the mighty Sean Penn himself.
 

I have never ghosted anyone. I'm far too neurotic and talkative for that. But I have often been ghosted, in relations romantic, platonic, and everything inbetween; beginning in the fifth grade all the way up to the present day. Indeed, my track record of ghostings has rendered my life a veritable haunted house of horrors to rival anything you might find at a Six Flags amusement park. Being ghosted leaves you frustrated, crying, scratching your head, on anti-depressants, or all of the above.

Though I've never been a ghoster, I've probably broken records as a ghostee. I've even been ghosted, un-ghosted, and then re-ghosted--all by the very same person! 


Does it count as being ghosted when there's a ghosting, a resurrection, and then a re-ghost? Or is this a category unto itself? So like when someone ghosts you, then un-ghosts you, then re-ghosts you--and wreaks complete havoc on your psyche in the process--what is that, exactly? Is it a "poltergeisting?" If so, I've been "poltergeisted" several times. It's only slightly less distressing, I'd imagine, than having an actual poltergeist fling cups and plates around your kitchen.


"Free-bleeding" is the act of allowing yourself to menstruate without the aid of a pad, tampon, or other feminine hygiene product. The practice was recently popularized by Harvard graduate and feminist Kiran Gandhi, who completed the London Marathon while drowning in her period. Purportedly, Ms. Gandhi did this in a show of solidarity with women who lack access to sanitary products and to make a point about patriarchal discomfort with a natural female process.

I can't credit such lofty, academic ideals to my own episodes of free-bleeding, and I'm not even sure if it counts when you free-bleed by accident. But assuming it does, I've done my share of free-bleeding. Like in the middle of the night when you wake up in a pool of your own blood or you're on Metro North and suddenly you feel something in your underwear and you're like, oh shit, why is this happening now? I still have three days to go! The Metro North bathrooms are disgusting! I can't deal with this! I need to throw this underwear away, and it's a pity because I got them on sale at Victoria's Secret. 

Is that free-bleeding? I'm not sure. But I know most women have free-bled at one time or another, and now there's a name for it. 

The next frontier is an amalgam of ghosting and free-bleeding, and it too has a name. It's called "menopause," and it's when your period ghosts you. That might be the only ghosting I'm actually expecting and that won't make me boil over with rage and confusion. It might even ultimately help lower my hormones down to a level where I no longer care that people have ghosted and poltergeisted me left and right during my pre-menopausal days.
 

Three cheers for menopause!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Please Josh Duggar, I Beg of You: Stop Making This So Easy

At least three O.H.M. fans have requested a fourth (but hopefully not final!) timely post on one of this blog's all-time favorite topics:  The Duggars. 

Let's review.

Loyal readers will recall how The Duggars have gifted O.H.M. with ample material, starting with the original May 22, 2015 post titled Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged, Josh Duggar!, in which I exhibited my giddy and profane schadenfreude at watching a hypocritical hate-monger get his comeuppance in the form of a tits-up reality TV show and public shaming. 

Readers may also recall how days later, my fully-admitted glee at watching another human being who is a complete and total fuckwit get exactly what he deserved earned me a creative epithet: Mother Superior Morally Judgmental P.C. Piece of Crap Libtard, (or MSMJPCPCL for short). It's a nickname that I both fully embraced and gladly accepted, and which I continue to honor to this day, both in letter and in spirit.

Following my renaming, I was all but forced to Double Down on the Duggars, when it was revealed that Michelle Duggar was robo-calling voters in Arkansas, encouraging them to vote against an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. So naturally I had to point out all the inaccurate, inane things about transgender people that were spewing forth from M. Duggs' stupid Jello-Salad-with-Cool-Whip-Topping hole. 

Now the Duggars are single-handedly growing the "Asshat" label of O.H.M. by leaps and bounds, because this week, the Internet learned that during the whole time Josh Duggar was getting famous shilling for "family values," he had a paid account with Ashley Madison, a "cheaters" website where people seek out extramarital sex! Specifically, J. Duggs wanted "a steamy affair" with "someone who is passionate," and, according to the NY Post, interested in "conventional sex,"; "experimenting with sex toys;" and "one night stands."

Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal, because who cares. Live and let live, I say. J. Duggs can get tied up in chains in an S&M dungeon and star in an amateur iMovie reboot of Fifty Shades of Grey for all I care. Hell, let the guy experiment and indulge in whatever fetishes he wants to. Let him pay a woman to shit on his chest and fuck him in the ass with a six-inch purple latex strap-on. More power to him!

The critical difference, of course (and one that was apparently lost on the person who so awesomely and impulsively dubbed me MSMJPCPCL) is that Josh Duggar very much does NOT adhere to the principle of "live and let live." Quite the opposite, he adheres to the principle of "live and tell everyone else how to live," and therein lies the rub (so to speak). 

You see, MOST people who sneak into their sisters' bedrooms in the middle of the night to diddle their junk and pay to engage in adultery are not ALSO simultaneously getting paid handsomely to lobby against same-sex marriage be morally bankrupt, censorious, craven spokesbigots who go on national television for the express purpose of hurling stones from their own glass house.

So it's not that J. Duggs fingered his minor sisters and paid to arrange an extramarital affair that's so terrible, although certainly the former is nauseating and criminal. What's so bad is that all of this fuckery was occurring WHILE he was out in the world getting paid to hate on other people for what they did with their own cocks n' balls.

Oh Josh Duggar. You are an absolutely delectable and delicious asshole. MWWWAH. Full stop. Shine on you crazy diamond! 

Obituary: Sex Avoidance Excuses for Monogamous Women, Age 10,000

Sex avoidance excuses for monogamous women everywhere were murdered this Tuesday. They were 10,000 years old.

The suspected perpetrator--a little pink pill that goes by the alias "Addyi" and that was developed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals and bought by Valeant Pharmaceticals for $1B--is in custody at CVS, Walgreens, and Fred Meyer pharmacies everywhere.

Excuses to avoid sex made by monogamous women to their partners lived a long and accomplished life before their untimely death this week. Among the most tried and true of these tragically slaughtered excuses were headaches, gas, exhaustion, menstruation, cold sores, lack of shaving, work commitments, visiting inlaws, broken locks, restless children, and because no.

Until last week, women everywhere used all of the above excuses to reliably avoid sex with their live-in partners of two years or more. Now, Addyi has changed all of that by sending every one of these excuses straight to their grave.

The excuses are survived by their siblings: feigned incompetency with anything mechanical and general refusal to even try fixing things.

In lieu of flowers, please send unwanted side effects that will hopefully provide a new excuse. Because although the murdered excuses can of course never be replaced, swift justice in the form of heart palpitations and low blood pressure would be most welcome.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If Donald Trump Live-Tweeted a Trip to Alaska

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): This state is, without question, the WORST EVER state! Where are the good hotels? These hotels are awful. I’ve built better hotels in my sleep.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): Sarah Palin. Sadly, she’s no longer a 10. Now Bristol, there’s a 10. Bristol, call me. Let’s talk Miss Universe. Very successful pageant.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): Everyone knows a bear shits in the woods. Even Obama knows that. I just saw a sow with blood coming out of her wherever. I hear Obama is visiting Alaska next week. Big deal! I got here first.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): These cruise ships here. I don’t get it. People say, “Oh, he went bankrupt.” Well I know a cruise ship when I see one, and this isn’t one. I should know, I own several. Gold-plated. All of them.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): Went on Deadliest Catch tonight. Great show. Love that show. Highest ever ratings for that show. 2.2M viewers, when I was on it.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): These women up here, they can’t dress for anything. Very sad! Waste of a great body. I told one of them, “Call me, I’ll buy you a Versace and a pair of Louboutins. Those rubber boots are awful.”

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): People come up to me, tell me I won’t apologize. Well, I just apologized to a halibut. Caught it off my 500 foot yacht. I apologized to him! He tasted great. Great lemon-dill sauce, that chef made.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): I have to say, I’m not a fan of these glaciers. I think they’re handling the whole situation horribly. You can blame global warming but look, it's every glacier for itself. Personal Responsibility 101.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): A seal flirted with me today, I swear to you. Seals are attracted to men with money and power and I have both and they know it. Yes, that's a line from Space Balls. So what? That seal, she couldn’t help herself.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): This mountain here, it's a big mountain. Plenty of snow. Big deal. People want casinos, not mountains! I know that, and I can do that. That's what I do. People love me and they love my casinos. I will put a casino on this mountain next year. You watch.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): I haven't seen this big a whale since Rosie O'Donnell. Look, I called her a fat pig. So what? I was wrong, but I'm not apologizing. I don't apologize. Everyone knows that. She's a fat whale, not a fat pig. So what?

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): Everyone up here is telling me how great my hair is. And they're right! It is. Look at my hair. I made a lot of money. You don't get hair like this without a lot of money.

Rape "Culture" and the Essence of Entitlement

I find it funny (funny as in sad, not funny as in "ha ha") that Owen Labrie, a 19 year-old senior at an "elite" New Hampshire boarding school, is on trial for rape, and that coverage of his trial is the 8th most emailed article in the New York Times today. 

Maybe that's because many readers of the New York Times find it shocking that one of their own--a Harvard-bound white boy from New England attending John Kerry's alma mater--would risk throwing his whole privileged life away by sexually assaulting a fifteen year-old girl in a boiler room.

But the truth is, this wasn't a high-stakes game for Mr. Labrie. After all, he was just following St. Paul's storied tradition "in which older students proposition younger ones for as much intimacy as they can get away with." In other words, he was just participating in the so-called "culture" of the school. That makes rape sound rather tasteful and dignified, doesn't it? The word "culture?" It certainly rolls off the tongue more easily than "crime scene."

Of course, not every student at these "elite" schools is "like that," whatever "that" is or means. But by and large, these institutions are infected with an entrenched sense of entitlement that is passed down from generation to generation in an ownership class that perpetually belies the myth of the American Dream. A "culture," as it were.

And it all boils down to one word:  Entitlement. 

Entitled to a private education at a high school with a "culture." Entitled to attend an Ivy League college debt and scholarship-free. Entitled to access the most influential people and secure from them the best jobs in the country. Entitled to drive luxury cars. Entitled to wear name-brand clothes. Entitled to multiple homes. Entitled to a more-than-fair trial under the stewardship of a "team" of private defense lawyers in the unlikely event you get caught committing a felony. 

And what is rape, really? Isn't it the very essence of entitlement, reduced to its most base and primal manifestation? Yes, of course it is. 

The act of rape is the ultimate expression of entitlement. Entitlement to another person's body. Entitlement to another person's dignity. Entitlement to whatever you want, whenever you want it, wherever you can get it; just because you can, because you deserve it, and because that's the way the world has always worked for you. Even if the thing you're taking is another human being's physical integrity and psychological sense of safety.

A relative of mine was recently raped by a grownup version of Owen Labrie. He was a lawyer, and after the attack he informed her--hauntingly and quite rightly--that "people like me get away with it all the time."  

Statistically speaking, Mr. Labrie is likely to get away with it this time, too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Dutch Are So Not Fucking Around When It Comes to Educational Museums for Kids

If you've been to one children's "museum" in the United States--even one that bills itself as a "science" museum--you've been to them all. With a few notable exceptions, most of these "museums" are just glorified indoor play spaces for kids:  There are always bubbles and a toy kitchen/grocery where your kids can go "shopping" for plastic apples and empty cartons of cornflakes, picking up the latest strain of vaccine-resistant influenza while they're at it. There's a ball spiraling down into some metal funnel. There's a room with fun house mirrors and a water table.

Well, the Dutch version of this--Science Center NEMO in Amsterdam--is nothing like its American counterparts, and it is not--I repeat, NOT--fucking around. 

First of all, NEMO is not, as I originally thought, a museum dedicated to an adorable, neurotic Disney-Pixar clownfish voiced by Albert Brooks. If your kid isn't a junior STEM research scientist, forget about going here and just shove a pain au chocolat in their croissant hole and get it over with. 

Because there's a lab. A legitimate LAB that you wait on a long line to do actual EXPERIMENTS in, assisted by live museum staff members wearing WHITE LAB COATS and safety goggles. There are numerous video exhibits that ask multiple choice questions about biology, physics, and chemistry. These questions are GRE-level hard, and I blatantly failed to get them right after repeated tries. There is a hands-on model dam with a long, involved explanation of how the Dutch keep Holland from becoming the Lost City of Atlantis. No wonder America is circling the drain when it comes to math and science.

But by far the two most fascinating sections of NEMO are the "teen facts" exhibit and the embryology exhibit, because all I could think about while wandering wide-eyed and open-mouthed through these displays was the fact that neither would ever appear in ANY museum in America, much less a children's museum.

The embryology exhibit had fetuses in jars. LOTS of them. There were conjoined monkey twins, conjoined pig twins, and actual human fetuses ages 8 weeks to 5 months in formaldehyde behind plexiglass. The last time I saw a human fetus was at the pro-life booth in Palmer at the Alaska State Fair, or maybe more recently online during the whole "Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts" kerfuffle (which, by the way, is totally the 2015 version of that "Richard Gere stuck a gerbil up his ass" thing from the '90's).

"Teen facts" featured a kiosk on "french kissing" with two vinyl tongue puppets. My seven year-old and her nine year-old friend played with them, sticking their hands into the tongues and having a feisty little duel. They didn't understand its implications and I declined to explain them. Several feet away, there was row after row of wooden stick-people contorted into every sexual position imaginable. It was as if Sting himself had curated the exhibit using the Kama Sutra as a field guide. My mom was very forthcoming with me about sex, but I still could have used a class field trip to NEMO as a teenager. Maybe then I wouldn't have looked skeptically at the first boy who proposed doing it doggie style, perhaps responding more charitably to protests like, "Aw, c'mon baaaabe. It's just a styyyyle."

Both of these exhibits were presented with zero fanfare and zero caveats whatsoever, and it made me realize how prudish and puritanical America really is. 

Bottom line: It's Science Center NEMO for the win.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Running Through Amsterdam Towing a Four Year Old With Explosive Diarrhea is Even More Fun Than it Sounds

We were in Europe for 17 days, which is 24,480 minutes. And somehow, Isaac chose the perfect 15 of those minutes in which to have a dramatic bout of explosive diarrhea--a statistical feat whose probability exceeds my limited math skills to calculate. 

If you look up "recipe for disaster" in a disaster cookbook, you'll find it has four ingredients: (1) a 4.5 year old who's actively shitting his pants; (2) a busy European train station at rush hour; (3) 90 degree heat; and (4) a thirty pound backpack. 

That's the situation in which I found myself several days ago upon arriving in Amsterdam and walking running from the train station to the apartment we'd rented. 

It started with Isaac complaining of tummy trouble. This came as no surprise, because he had touched every public surface on two continents in the preceding days while subsisting on a diet composed almost exclusively of "frittes" and chocolate gelato consumed with his filthy bare hands. But being several years out of practice with diapers, I wasn't prepared for the level of pants-shitting that was about to go down, nor the context in which it occurred. 

I was carrying two weeks' worth of possessions on my back and weaving from street to street (or, more accurately, "straat" to "straat"), while Isaac hopped frantically up and down, asking for the bathroom every five minutes. It was rush hour on a Thursday afternoon, and the cobblestone straats of central Amsterdam were jammed with tourists, commuters, trams, bicycles, pedicabs, and cars. I raced him into every other toilet in the city in a twelve block radius while trying to avoid being struck by a conveyance. Most of the shopkeepers and restaurateurs were sympathetic and, recognizing the gravity of our predicament, graciously allowed us to make swift use of the "WC." 

I was drenched in sweat from head to toe and everywhere in between. Periodically I'd catch a whiff of marijuana smoke, inhaling deeply in the hopes that I'd second-hand high myself into better coping with this dilemma. I bit off the tip of an immodium AD gel cap I had in my bag, and squeezed some of the bitter contents onto Isaac's tongue. He winced, whined, and begged for water while I held his nose in order to try to make him open his mouth and swallow the medicine.

We were just feet from our front door when Isaac announced that "more came out." Yep, that it did. I looked down, and to my horror, saw a streak of yellow-brown liquid running from Isaac's shorts to the bottom of his foot. I raced him inside up three flights of precarious stairs and cleaned him up, only to have him do it AGAIN--in even greater volume--in the new underwear I had just put him into. 

As I helped him out of the second pair of pants he'd shat up in as many minutes, the contents spilled onto the black-and-white tile floor of a bathroom whose window looked directly into a restaurant where someone was literally ordering food at that very moment. I took a gulp of air and began gagging violently. As I said, I was not prepared for this, and Isaac wasn't prepared for my reaction. He started crying and apologizing and I reassured him through dry heaves that really, this was no big deal. 

Afterwards, I made him sit on the toilet for 20 minutes timed on my iPhone to make sure we didn't achieve a pants-shitting hat-trick. Don't worry, I told him as he looked mournfully at me, chin in his hands and feet dangling six inches above the bathroom floor. Someday I'll be old and shitting my pants too, and you can return the favor then.