Friday, August 30, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #84: This Is Your Brain on Myths

The brain is an amazing supercomputer capable of organizing who knows how many autonomic functions while simultaneously allowing us to talk, walk, text, and perform astounding feats of genius, possibly at the same time. And yet there are still people out there who think we only use ten percent of it. *sigh*

You do use your whole brain, just in case you were wondering. It’s a big job, being a brain. You have to give it 100 percent.

I had never heard that the brain wrinkles every time you learn something new, but according to the Internet some people believe that the brain wrinkles every time you learn something new. Of course it doesn’t. I actually haven’t seen (or, like I said, heard) anyone say that they believe the brain wrinkles when you learn something new – I’m just extrapolating that people believe that because there so many articles debunking it. Just saying “brain wrinkles” kinda gives me the heebie-jeebies.

It's like a walnut or something. Gross.

The brain wrinkles (*shudder*) are there because, as humans evolved and the brain grew bigger, it had to fold in on itself in order to still fit inside the skull. If you were able to unfold your brain it would be the size of a pillow case. I assume that’s a standard-size pillow case; they didn’t specify. We’re born with all the brain wrinkles (*shudder*) we’re ever going to have in our lives.

Even though preserved brains are kind of a pale, dull grey or beige color, living brains are black, white, grey and red, as you can see from this fresh one:


Btw I only said that to work in this gratuitous fresh brain picture. Gross.

I also learned in the course of my research for this blog post that the thing about your brain staying alive for 30 seconds is also a myth. As may be aware, this belief is based on observations made by witnesses to guillotine executions in revolutionary France – apparently people’s severed heads were seen blinking, attempting to speak, looking at people, and even wearing indignant expression. LOL yeah, indignant expressions indeed.

According to modern science the rapid rush of blood out of the brain following decapitation would render you unconscious in about three seconds. It’s kind of a relief, actually. Now I know I’ll never have to spend 30 seconds gawping at my own headless corpse. That’s one less thing to worry about.

Of course, the brain, as I said before, is not a computer. It’s a brain. But the practice of comparing the brain to a computer – and using computing metaphors – is prevalent in modern society. According to this fascinating post on Smithsonian.com, people have been comparing the brain to advanced and somewhat mysterious technology for centuries. French philosopher Rene Descartes, writing in the 17th century, compared the brain to a hydraulic machine system; Freud compared the brain to a steam engine; later on people compared the brain to a telephone switchboard and later to an electrical circuit.

But all this time, it's been a brain after all. Gross.
Image credit: Gaeten Lee

Subliminal messages also don’t work, because it turns out that guy who invented them actually lied about how well they worked, saying that soft drink sales went up 18 percent and popcorn sales went up 57 percent, when in fact they did not go up at all. Studies of the effectiveness of subliminal messages failed to produce any evidence that they influence viewers’ actions at all. So, that’s one less thing to worry about too, I guess.



Friday, August 23, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #83: Mysterious Monuments

One day, in 10,000 years, the cyborg archeologists of the future will scratch their abnormally large heads and wonder how we built Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge or the Eiffel Tower with our primitive technology. Some of them will decide that it was aliens.

It's always aliens.
Image credit: Jin Zan

Moai (that’s pronounced mow-eye – I had to look it up) are the human figures carved by the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. There are 887 of them, about half of which remain at the quarry.

They were carved to embody ancestors or powerful leaders, and they may have served as status symbols. Dr. Anneliese Pontius advanced a theory that the monoliths were carved as a form of ritualistic treatment for leprosy, since the residents of Easter Island couldn’t simply send their lepers to another island or call Jesus or anything. A popular 19th-century theory, now debunked, held that Easter Island was a remnant of a lost continent and that many more moai were submerged under the sea.

Although many people think of the moai as just being giant stone heads, that’s a misconception that arose because most of the photos we see of them show them mostly buried:


In fact, these are whole statues which depict, in most cases, an overly large head set atop a torso. Most of them do not have legs.

Construction of the moai began around 1200 AD, when the island was heavily forested, and continued until around 1500-1600 AD, when the last of the trees were cut, presumably to facilitate the construction and erection of the moai. Scholars aren’t sure if the moai were moved on sledges or “walked” by tilting them side to side. The era of their construction seems to have ended abruptly, and the native islanders are believed to have pushed at least some of the moai down afterward, although an earthquake might have been responsible for toppling some of them.

Image credit: Rivi

The Grave Creek Mound is one of the largest burial mounds in the U.S. It’s found in Moundsville, West Virginia, across the street from the old penitentiary. I’ve been to both and I have to say, the penitentiary is a lot more exciting. If you’re in Moundsville and you only have time to do one thing, I recommend the penitentiary. But I digress.

The Grave Creek Mound was built by the Adena people, who lived in the area around 2,000 years ago. It took about 100 years to build, as they constructed it in stages, beginning in about 250 BC and ending around 150 BC. There are multiple graves within the mound, with a different one on each level. The mound originally came with a moat, about 40 feet (12 meters) wide and five feet (1.5 meters) deep.

The moat has been replaced with a picnic area.

No one knows why the mound was built or who the people inside of it are, or why they were so important, but there’s a statue of an elk in front of it for some reason.

I don't think the elk is original.

The Carnac stones, located near the French village of Carnac in Brittany, make up the largest collection of prehistoric standing stones in the world. They were erected between 4500 and 3300 BC. Over the centuries, the stones have been used as livestock shelters and ovens. Many of them have been used for building materials and others have been moved to make way for roads. Most of the stones are lined up in rows, and there are three main groups Рthe M̩nec, the Kermario, and the Kerlescan Рwhich may have once been unified, before all the house-building, road-making and baking aforementioned. There are also grave mounds, stone tombs, single standing stones and other formations.


Some believe the stones had some sort of astronomical purpose, pointing to supposed connections between the alignments of the stones and the position of the sun at solstice. Others think the stones had a funerary purpose. French engineer Pierre Mereaux believed the stones were used to detect and measure seismic activity. Legend holds that the stones were members of Roman legion cursed by the wizard Merlin. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Night Owls Are Just Better – It’s Science! (A #ThemeThursday Post)


It’s #ThemeThursday again, and I’m feeling super proud of myself for doing this four Thursdays in a row now, even though the first Thursday was late. This week’s theme is, “Early Bird or Night Owl – Which One Are You?”

Everyone who knows me at all well knows that I’m a huge night owl. If I didn’t have sleeping pills, I’d be awake all night and sleep all day. For years that was just what I’d do, but it gets kind of shitty because you can never really go anywhere or do anything, because nothing is open at night (except for pubs) and everyone is asleep (except for drunks).

The worst thing about being a night owl is that everyone gives you shit over it. I’m an adult and I pay my bills, so you’d think it’d be no one’s business but my own if I want to keep odd hours, but you’d be wrong. If I had a dollar for every time someone called me lazy, I’d build a fucking children’s hospital so they’d never stop feeling like assholes. Name-calling can’t make me change my body clock, but it will make me change my phone number.

I reckon they’re just jealous, because, as I’ve said before, that’s what I always assume when people give me a hard time for no good reason. After all, some of the most brilliant minds in history were night owls, including Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hunter S. Thompson, Thomas Edison, Charles Bukowski, and President Barack Obama.

A recent study by the University of Madrid found that night owls possess “the kind of intelligence associated with better jobs and higher salaries,” according to The Telegraph, because of their creativity, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Another study by the London School of Economics and Political Science suggests that night owls are more likely to have higher IQs.

So suck it, morning people.

I’ve been this way since I was a kid, and after decades of struggling to live on a “normal” schedule, I broke down and saw a doctor. He tried to tell me that “Sleep problems are usually temporary.” I didn’t laugh in his face, because that’s rude.

The doctor also wanted to know why I couldn’t just sleep during the day and stay awake all night if that’s what my body clock wants. I’m a freelance writer, after all, so I have a greater degree of control over my schedule than most, so if I want to sleep late, I can pretty much arrange that – and believe me, I do, because not having to wake up at the taint of dawn is one of the few perks of a job where I get no sick days, no vacation pay, no health insurance, no pension plan, and no respect.


But I don’t want to sleep all day. Sure, I spend most of my waking hours at work just like everyone else, but you can’t work all the time. Sometimes you want to go somewhere (besides a pub) and if you live alone and works from home, sometimes you want to talk to other humans (besides drunks). So I’ve been trying, with the help of medication, to become a daywalker. There’s no fooling your circadian rhythms, though. Even if I get plenty of sleep, I’m still pretty much worthless before noon. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #82: Sharks

It was Shark Week last week, and did you know that 80 percent of people who get attacked by sharks survive? So, if you’re terrified of sharks like my friend, Sharky-Sharky No-Legs, rest easy.

Sharks are fascinating, which is of course why they have their own week. I also did whales last week, so sharks kind of go along with that theme, in that both are sea creatures.

The first sharks are believed to have appeared as long as 420 million years ago, making them literally older than God. Modern sharks began to appear around 100 million years ago. One of the oldest sharks is the Cladoselache, which dates from about 370 million years ago:

I was going to make a joke about how funny it looks, but then I remembered that sharks are still kind of weird-looking.

"Stop, you'll make me cry."
Image credit: Hermanus Backpackers

One of the biggest predators that ever lived was the Megalodon, a shark that lived from 28 to 1.5 million years ago and is now extinct.

The Megalodon grew to sizes ranging from 46 to 59 feet (14 to 18 meters). Regular readers will remember that it was the Megalodon’s giant, fossilized teeth that protected many Europeans from poisoning throughout the Middle Ages – or so they believed. Shockingly, dipping a shark’s tooth – even one that is the size of a toddler’s head – into your poisoned wine will not make it safe to drink.

But I can see why they would think that.

Sharks are cartilaginous fish, like rays and skates. Their skeletons are made of cartilage. The reason there are so many fossilized shark teeth floating about is because they are made of calcium phosphate, which fossilizes easily. Also, a shark may lose more than 30,000 teeth in its life, replacing them at a rate of once every eight days in some species.

Most shark species grow multiple rows of replacement teeth on the inside of their jaws, which move forward as if on a conveyor belt. The exception is the cookiecutter shark, which replaces entire rows of teeth at a time. It feeds by biting round chunks out of its prey, and has been known to attack whales, dolphins, porpoises, other sharks, and submarines, which it finds to be an acquired taste.

It also looks like a swimming penis.

Because a shark has no rib cage, it can be crushed under its own weight if brought onto land.

Most sharks can’t live in fresh water, although there are at least two species – the bull shark and the river shark – which can. The bull shark is one of the most dangerous species known to man, along with the great white, the oceanic whitetip and the tiger shark, because they are most often found in shallow waters where humans are wont to play around looking like seals.

In fact, a couple of years ago, a fisherman named Willy Dean caught an 8 foot, 1 inch (2.5 meter) bull shark in the waters of the Potomac River, at Cornfield Harbor. Just two days earlier, Dean’s friend Thomas Crowder captured an even bigger, 8 foot, 3 inch (2.51 meter) shark a little upstream, at Tall Timbers. Though Crowder’s shark drowned and he discarded its corpse, Dean elected to keep his.

“Some people say shark is good to eat. We’ll see,” he told journalists.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

One of These Stories is a Lie – Can You Tell Which One?

This week for Theme Thursday, we’re all playing a fun game. It’s called Two Truths and a Lie. I’ve never heard of this game before so I’m not sure it’s real, I think Jenn just made it up. Whatevs, you gotta blog about something, right?

So, the object of the game is that we’re all going to tell three stories. Two of those stories will be true. One of them will be a lie. You’ll have to guess which one.

I’m going to reveal which story was a lie on my Facebook Page tomorrow, so if you haven’t already, hop on over there, click “Like,” then hover your mouse over the “Like” button and select “Show in News Feed.” That way, when I reveal The Lie tomorrow, you’ll be in the loop!

Of course, feel free to leave your guess in the comments below! (Also, if you happen to know for a fact that something is true, on account of having been there, for example, please keep it to yourself. Thanks!)

This One Time, in College, I Almost Got Arrested


I have never been arrested, but I’ve come close to getting arrested. It happened while I was in college at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. Some friends of mine from high school were in town. For reasons I can’t recall, we were downtown, but my friends were on one side of the railroad tracks and I was on the other, and I was supposed to meet them on their side of the tracks.

Here’s where I should point out that, having grown up in rural West Virginia, I never thought anything of walking across a railroad track. So it never crossed my mind that maybe I shouldn’t do that in downtown Roanoke, even though these were the tracks in question:

Note the sky bridge, because I didn't.
Image credit: Ben Schumin

So I cross the tracks and I’m about to climb over the fence on the other side, when this irate police officer appears and starts asking me what I’m doing. I mean, he was actually shouting, “Hey, you, what are you doing down there!” and I was all “I’m crossing the tracks, what.”

To which he replied, “What makes you think you can cross the tracks!?”

Which completely confused the shit out of me, because it never occurred to me that I couldn’t cross the tracks. “Um, I’m sorry, where I’m from, we do it all the time.”

“Oh yeah? Where are you from?”

“West Virginia.”

“Which part?”

“Buckhannon.”

And with that, this angry cop became my new best friend. “No way!” He grinned. “I’m from Clarksburg! Here, let me help you over this fence!”

And so he did.

Never Underestimate a Parisian Bum


When I was in college, I spent my senior year abroad in Paris. Most people spend their junior year abroad, but I’m not most people.

For the first few months, I lived on rue du Temple, so I used the Chatelet/Les Halles metro station a lot. One evening, kind of late, I was coming home from an evening out on the last train. I’d been out with my friends at this club in the Latin district that played a bunch of 1980s French pop, and we met a couple of older Norwegian guys who wouldn’t buy us any drinks, and got in a fight with a French woman for accidentally stealing her cigarettes.

On the way home, some random Frenchman stopped me on the rue Rambuteau and tried to get me to go home with him, and then I fell over and cut my arm. All in all, it was a productive evening.

Anyway, I was in the Chatelet metro station, moving toward the exit with all the other people who’d come from the train, when I saw this drunk woman (I assume she was drunk) fall on the escalator. She got her long hair caught in the gears and naturally, she started screeching as the escalator drug her slowly upward towards her death. Before any of us could react, this hairy, dirty homeless dude appeared out of nowhere, smacked the emergency stop button on the escalator, gathered the drunk woman up in his arms and sprinted for the surface.

I like to think he was taking her to seek medical attention. I will never forget the sound of her hair ripping out of her scalp.

I Accidentally Went to Mount Rushmore


Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid, I decided to travel the country with the aforementioned friends from high school. I say stupid because that turned out to be a colossally bad idea, but that doesn’t signify here.

One of the friends, let’s call him Mr. Clean (because he was bald and attentive to his hygiene), had some chick he wanted to go and visit in Huron, South Dakota, Home of the World’s Largest Pheasant. So, I drove him there, because I was a kind and giving person, ten years ago. Don’t worry, I’ve grown out of it since.

Well, let me tell you guys something, Huron, South Dakota is a fucking hole. No offense to anyone who currently lives or has lived there, but it is. To make matters worse, this mysterious chick, whose name I can’t remember, absconded with my friend for an entire night, and this was before everyone had cell phones…well, it was at least before me and my friends had cell phones, so me and my other friend, who knows who he is, were left sort of wandering around this cold, windy, rainy, flat hole of a town, wondering if we would ever see Mr. Clean again.

When he turned back up again, we all agreed that it was time to leave town, and because it would have been too sensible to do otherwise, we ended up leaving town at like 10:00 p.m. I was the one with the drivers license and the car because, like I said, kind and giving person.

So I drove for a while, up into the Black Hills, and then, at a random location, I decided I was tired, pulled over into a wide spot in the road, stopped, and went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up, and George Washington was staring down at me through the windshield. It turned out I’d stopped for the night in the roadside overlook for Mount Rushmore, totally at random.

Which one of these stories is a lie? Check my Facebook page tomorrow to find out! Don’t be afraid to leave your guess in the comments! To read more lies, or add your own total bullshit, click here or on the Theme Thursday badge below:



Monday, August 12, 2013

An Introvert’s Survival Guide

I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz online lately about introverts, and how misunderstood we all are and how unfair it all is, and how much it sucks to, like, have friends and stuff. Like, hell is other people, man.

Look, I get it. I, too, have contemplated running away when someone tries to extend the evening’s outing. I, too, would like to smack the next person who asks me if I’m sure I’m okay, because I’m “being really quiet.” I, too, have been known to stare in disbelief when someone barges forward with making plans for every night of the week because really? Every night? Are you insane?

And yes, I know it’s hard to explain to some people that, nothing personal, but you have Netflix to catch up on an your library books are due at the weekend, and...oh, you want to know what I’m watching? Only boring stuff, you wouldn’t like it.

Most people in this world like to glom together like jelly babies left in a hot car, bless them. While it’s always valuable to spread awareness and educate the sticky, gooey masses, we will always be outnumbered. But that’s okay, because you can learn to cope, like I have.


Live Alone


If you’re an introvert and you have roommates, you’re doin’ it wrong. How can you do that? It must drive you nuts.

Maybe you can’t live alone. Maybe it’s too expensive in your area. Consider moving.

Maybe you have a family. I don’t know what to tell you about that because nobody loves me.

"I make it a point to bite everyone she dates."

But, if you can’t live alone for whatever reason, maybe you should…


Work from Home


This way you get to spend lots of time alone while the other members of your household are out doing whatever it is they do all day. I wouldn’t recommend living alone and working from home, which is what I do, unless you want to end up not speaking to anyone for 14 days straight and then muttering to yourself aloud in the cat food aisle at MallWart because you forgot you’re not alone anymore, which is also what I do.


Meditate


Meditating is like squeezing six hours of alone time into 20 minutes. It’s amazing. It will definitely help you keep your sanity when you’ve been roped into doing something you don’t want to do, like, for example, anything.


Learn Some Jokes


This’ll make you really popular, and you’ll get invited to a lot of parties, where you’ll…


Let Other People Do All the Talking


Trust me, they love this. If you’re ever stuck for something to talk about, talk about the person you’re talking to. People will think you’re a great listener and they’ll tell you all their problems. Try to look interested.
And, just in case you’re not feeling it…


Have Some Plausible Excuses


You think you’re coming down with something. You’ve had a long day. You have a flat tire. You have to get home before the hostages escape.

Also, there’s an app you can get that will send you fake calls. Look into it.

All the calls I ever get are fake.



Saturday, August 10, 2013

So, You Think Your Boyfriend's a Serial Killer...

A Mother Life

I’m getting a disturbing amount of “how do I tell if my boyfriend’s a serial killer” traffic. It’s because, several months ago, I wrote this hilarious post about how to tell if your Internet date is planning to murder you.

In case you’re wondering what a “disturbing amount” is, it’s, well, any. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten hits from at least ten different people using some version of this search term.

I was reasonably certain that these people weren’t looking for my blog post, even though it appears in the top ten results for most combinations of that particular search term. I went ahead and googled it myself just to make sure. The sheer amount of serious articles about serial killers and their behavior would seem to indicate that these people are looking for genuine information about spotting serial killers.

I had no idea that identifying serial killers would be such a popular pursuit. I mean, how many serial killers are there, anyway – like, five? In the spirit of 100% pure journalism (*snort*) I went ahead and googled “how many people become serial killers” and discovered that there are between 35 and 100 active serial killers operating in the United States right now. I might never sleep again.

Just so you know, if you’re looking for real information about how to identify a serial killer, kids, this blog is not the place to find it.

But, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if you’re asking yourself whether or not your boyfriend might be a serial killer, just go ahead and dump him. He may not be a serial killer, but if he’s psycho enough to make you wonder, well, honey, that’s what we call a red flag.

Also, I once watched this true-crime TV program about a woman who’d inadvertently married a serial killer and one day, she went down to the basement to put on a load of laundry and found one of his victims chained to the wall. You don’t want to be going about your business and find some poor, mutilated girl chained up in your basement, do you?


Of course fucking not. Dump the “might be a serial killer” boyfriend. Don’t tell him that’s why you’re dumping him, though, because if he is a serial killer, that could go very badly for you.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #81: Whales

I decided to write about whales today because I reminded myself yesterday how much I like them. Once, years ago, I was standing on the beach in California, looking out at the sea, when a whale of some kind breached and then showed its flukes. I’m not sure what kind of whale it was, I’m not a cetologist. I made some kind of remark about how you can't pay to see something like that, meaning that I felt the experience was priceless, by my jackass boyfriend at the time, the Redheaded Banjo Player Whom I Promised I’d Never Write About, made some snarky remark about how I would say that, meaning that I’m greedy and place to much importance on money. That was him projecting, of course, because I had money and he did not and this injustice was a source of much outrage for him.

Anyhoo.

Last week, paleontologists from the Calvert Marine Museum in Southern Maryland excavated the six foot (1.83 meter), 1,000 pound (453.6 kg) fossilized skull of an extinct baleen whale. The skull is 15 million years old, according to collections manager John Nance.

The skull was found in cliffs along the edge of the Potomac, where some of the world’s only fossils from the Miocene epoch, 5 to 23 million years ago, are found. The rest of the whale’s skeleton remains embedded in the cliff. Nance told The Washington Post that to find such a complete whale fossil was “pretty uncommon.”

Millions of years ago, the ancestors of whales lived on land. The Pakicetus was the most primitive whale. It was about the size of a dog and looked like one, too:

Image credit: Nobu Tamura

It lived about 50 million years ago, was carnivorous and drank fresh water.

About 49 million years ago, the Ambulocetus natans, an amphibious ancestor of the whale, emerged. The first whales without legs appeared 48 to 35 million years ago.

Whales are mammals, as half the Internet pointed out to me once when I referred to them as fish. I knew that they were mammals, of course, I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. Half of you were.

Because they’re mammals, they can’t become unconscious, or they’ll drown. This means that whales sleep with only half of their brain at a time. This way they can use the other half to keep breathing and stuff.

Whales occupy a prominent place in the world’s mythologies. One Icelandic legend tells of a man who blocked the blowhole of a whale with a stone, and caused the whale to burst. The man was forbidden to go to sea for 20 years, which must have been an awful punishment for someone from Iceland (I guess?), because in the 19th year he couldn’t hold back any longer, and went to sea anyway. A whale killed him.

That's what you get.
Image credit: Whit Welles


Neurological studies of the brains of whales have found that they possess spindle neurons previously found only in hominid species. In humans, these cells perform social and emotional functions, including the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others may have mental states, beliefs, intentions, and desires different from one’s own. These cells are also implicated in the ability to form judgments. Evidence suggests that they perform similar functions in the brains of whales. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I’m Not Sure I’m a Geek at All (A #ThemeThursday Post)


Look at me writing a #ThemeThursday post on Thursday! Some of you will be aware that my last theme Thursday post, in which I shamed myself for 500 words, was late. This week’s theme is Geek Culture. (Last week’s theme was Rivalries. I’m sorry, I was supposed to have mentioned that in the actual post. I’m so bad at this.)

As you might expect, everyone else is blogging about what big geeks they are. If the title didn’t tip you off, I’m not entirely sure I’m a geek at all.

This is not an issue that comes up for most people. I mean, you either are or you aren’t. Most people wouldn’t waste a single second wondering if they’re really a geek or not. But most people’s grandmothers weren’t honorary crew members of the USS Enterprise.

I’m not kidding, Grandma was an honorary redshirt. She had a certificate and everything. It hung in her sewing room, where she worked and did the majority of her Star Trek watching. At one point my grandfather, who was a carpenter, built her a little model of the Enterprise, which hung in the living room for years and still hangs there to this day.

When I was a little girl, my favorite Star Trek movie was the one with the whales, because whales.



Things began to go…well, for lack of a better word, wrong right about the time the first Star Wars prequel came out. One of my aunts, the one who never managed to move out of my grandparents’ house, discovered that I had never seen Star Wars. I suppose everyone was so busy watching Star Trek that nobody had any time for Star Wars. I’d like to think somebody had noticed what happened with E.T. the Extraterrestrial and was concerned for the effect more aliens might have on my developing psyche, but if that were the case then they would have stopped coercing me to watch E.T. over and over again in an effort to prove that he really was a friendly alien, really.

Anyway, my aunt found out that I hadn’t seen Star Wars yet and made me watch all three movies in a row before dragging me to the theater to watch The Phantom Menace. To this day, I have not watched the other two prequels, unless maybe I watched them when I was with my ex, I don’t know, I’ve blocked out a lot of that relationship.

It should be noted that when I say “she made me watch them,” I mean she sat there next to me and delivered a running monologue explaining how all the tropes fit into the overall story archetype. I was not allowed to leave the room. I was 17 and did my best to fall asleep. In retrospect, I probably should’ve just tackled her; it would’ve saved me a lot of life problems later on.

But, I digress. There was a time when I would have identified as a geek, but that was before I spent my entire adult life discovering that I am not who I was taught to be. It’s not that I don’t like geeky things; it’s that I don’t like them enough to quote from them or collect their memorabilia or remember when they’re coming on TV. I like other things more, like athletics and not being pushed around. Those two things work well together, by the way. If I had known I liked those things when I was 17, some tackling would have gone down.

So, I don’t think I’m a geek at all. Unless we’re talking about books, of course, then I’m a total geek. Or maybe I’m actually a nerd, I’m not sure. I’m pretty sure you have to do math to be a nerd.


I'm a writer. You do the math.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What I Ought to Do vs. What I Actually Do

If there’s one significant rivalry in my life, it’s the constant battle between what I ought to do and what I actually do. In this rivalry, what I actually do is always the clear victor, obviously. For example, I ought to have written this Theme Thursday post last Thursday, but what I’m actually doing is writing it now. I’m multitasking because the BBC is broadcasting Hot Fuzz right now and that’s an incredibly important film. It’s just getting to the brilliant fight scene with all the big guns. It’s a good thing I can type without looking.

Here are some of the other things I ought to be doing, and how they stack up against reality.

What I Ought to Do: Develop and Maintain My Core Strength


I’m not just saying that because I’m ashamed of my flabby, flabby abdomen. I’m saying that because I have a lot of back problems and doctor after doctor has nagged me for years to work on my core strength, but I keep not really doing it.

What I Actually Do: Some Half-Hearted Crunches About Once a Week, and Maybe Some Yoga


I’m pretty sure that’s not what my physicians have in mind. Then again, it’s kind of hard to tell what they do have in mind because they’re actually pretty fucking vague about it. You’d think they’d give me some specific instructions RE: which exercises I ought to be doing, how many, how often, and when, but no – instead they just make some ambiguous statements followed by embarrassed mutterings about how “it’s not that I don’t already have core strength, but, you know.”

What I Ought to Do: Wash My French Press Every Day


What I Actually Do: Not That


I know this is totally disgusting and not something I should mention publicly, but I often don’t wash it at all. I just rinse it out with hot water. I figure the residue gives my coffee extra flavor. It probably also strengthens my immune system, which is the same thing I tell myself when I suspect the cats have been licking my food behind my back but then I go ahead and eat it anyway.

Also, I recently read this whole post on XO Jane by this chick who apparently never wears underwear ever, so in terms of disgusting things you can admit publicly I think she’s got me beat.

What I Ought to Do: Comb My Hair Daily


What I Actually Do: Put It in a Bun


If you ever see me with my hair up, it’s because I haven’t combed it. If you ever see me, I probably have my hair up. The other day I sat in the pub looking like the cat lady from The Simpsons because my bun was giving me a headache and I was like, screw it, and I took it down. I left my cats at home, of course.

"I can't be taken out in public."

What I Ought to Do: Go to Bed Early


What I Actually Do: Stay Up Late Farting Around on the Internet


Every. Damn. Time. 

What I Ought to Do: Exercise More Often Than Once a Week


What I Actually Do: I’m Doing It


You’re welcome.