Recently Kumail Nanjiani tweeted that the best Star Trek...
This really needs no preamble, except that I’ve recently replaced some worn out or otherwise defunct items in my life, which has left me standing awkwardly dithering by my trashcan. There are just some things that don’t feel like they should be chucked out with the kitchen scraps and other refuse, even when they’ve lived a full life and have completely worn out any potential usefulness ever again.
Take the first one, for instance. Look, I’m not super crazy about having lots of shoes. I own about twelve pairs, not including the slippers for around the house, and they’re essentially the “brown nice shoes,” “the black nice shoes,” “the sneakers,” “the kung fu shoes,” etc. in my head. But when it comes time to bin a pair of shoes — holes and torn seams and all — I have a hard time consciencing throwing them in the garbage can. It just seems like there should be a process just for worn out sneakers, something more dignified than the kitchen garbage can… And the same goes for the rest.
Some things do have specialized trash pickups and receptacles computer equipment, cell phones, and recyclables. Additionally, my family gets a lot of mileage out of donating things to our local second hand shop (which benefits a women’s shelter). But these are the weird ones. Am I mad? Probably. Am I wrong that it can get a little weird? I don’t think so.
Anybody got another to add to the list?
I’ve been teaching my sister how to drive over a protracted series of lessons when she is in town. And while we’ve been touching on all the beginning necessities, it occurred to me the other day while discussing some of the following points with a friend of mine that there are inevitably some bits of insight that never get passed down in so many words, that most drivers find out all on their own. Here are just a few that I’ve collected in the past few weeks; do you have any to add?
I hope you were wearing your purple, green, and gold today because it’s Shrove Tuesday and the final day of Carnival!
- Also called Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Pancake Tuesday (UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), Fastnacht Day (German-American community), Malasada Day (Madeira, and then Hawaii), Carnaval (Portugeuse, Spanish, and Italian-speaking countries), Fastelavn (Denmark and Norway), Sprengidagur (“Bursting Day” - Iceland), Pączki Day (Polish), Laskiainen (Finland), and Užgavėnės (Lithuania).
- “Catholic and Protestant countries (outside of those mentioned above) traditionally call the day before Ash Wednesday Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. The name predated the Reformation and referred to the common Christian tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent.” (wikipedia.org)
- New Orleans has hosted Mardi Gras festivities since French settlers founded the city in the 1700s. Masks were banned in the city during the early 1800s because the celebrations had gotten so out of control. The oldest of the hosting “krewes,” the Mistick Krewe of Comus, was founded in 1857 by Anglo men who were worried that the celebrations would be banned on account of their wild and disorganized nature.
- The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday is nearly 1000 years old. “Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent.” (wikipedia.org)
- Occurring at the divide between the Church seasons of Epiphany and Lent, it is likely that the traditional colors used to represent Mardi Gras (purple, green, and gold) are a reflection of the liturgical colors for the three corresponding seasons of the Church calendar: green for Epiphany, purple for Lent, and gold and white for Easter.
- “Carnival is a festival traditionally held in Catholic and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Orthodox societies. Protestant areas usually do not have Carnival celebrations or have modified traditions, such as the Danish Carnival or other Shrove Tuesday events.” (wikipedia.org) Participants often wear costumes and masquerade-dress, taking part in parade and public street events that usually fall in February. It is thought that the name “Carnival” might come from contractions of Latin and Italian phrases such as carne levare (“to remove meat”) or carne vale (“farewell to meat”).
- In many European countries, Fat Tuesday is also used to mark festivals for the mid-winter or the coming of spring, such as in Lithuania, where an effigy of winter is burnt.
- In the Spanish city of Tolox, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Día de los PolvosThe festivities include massive crowds of people throwing talcum powder at one another, supposedly as a reminder before Ash Wednesday of the Biblical passage, “unto dust you shall return.” Traditionally, a man would pelt the woman he wanted to marry with flour, though the bombardments are usually more indiscriminate in modern practice.
- “On Pancake Day, pancake races are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, and England in particular, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air, catching them in the pan whilst running.” (wikipedia.org) The first recorded pancake race was in Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1445.
- Next year’s Shrove Tuesday will arrive significantly later, on March 4th, 2014.
In the ongoing saga of my nose-throat-ears sickness of the past week — and given that we are firmly into cold & flu season here in the States — I thought this week would be a good one to talk about the types of things one can do at home while under the weather, as the viruses that plague us are usually the type your doctor can’t do much about except prescribe rest and lots of fluids. I hate being sick, and since I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that fights symptoms with extreme prejudice, here are ten things that can help make your convalescence a (shorter and) more tolerable one.
- Bundle up when you’re bedding down. When you sleep — and you should take the opportunity to do a lot of that while you’re ill so your body can focus on fighting off the illness — or are simply in a resting state for a long period of time, your core body temperature drops and things get a little sluggish. But you don’t want that to occur, because heat helps your circulation to stay brisk. Often they call this “sweating it out,” because the heat can help you rid your body of toxins, etc., but maintaining a warm core temperature also helps keep your sinuses moving and encourages your adrenal systems to keep from going to sleep, so that they can stay awake and produce more virus-and-allergy-fighting hormones. So get out an extra blanket or throw on a sweatshirt over your jim-jams. DO NOT exercise; you will strain your resources and possibly end up even more sick because you didn’t allow your body time to rest and rebuild defenses. Also, try to add an extra pillow under your head at night, to help promote drainage and better breathing while you sleep.
- Simulate the environment of the Amazon Rainforest in your bedroom. In other words, use a humidifier. The moist air from a humidifier helps to keep nasal passages from getting blocked up, as well as relieving the dryness in the throat and nose caused by dehydration, coughing, and nose-blowing. Additionally, the flu virus survives longer in dry air, whereas the moist air from a humidifier “captures” the airborne flu virus and drops it to the ground. Always remember to thoroughly clean your humidifier as instructed so you don’t trade a cold for an infection. If humidifers are not your thing, just take hot showers. The steam will do wonders for sinuses and will soothe those little muscle aches and pains. If you’re dizzy, run the hot shower and sit in a chair in the same room to give yourself a sponge bath.
- In the first day or so, load up on Vitamin C and Zinc. Vitamin C is a great supporter of the immune system and of the healthy function of white blood cells, so drink several glasses of juice to load up. Zinc has also been shown to lessen the severity of symptoms and the duration of a cold when taken during the first stages of illness.
- Drink up, but don’t caffeinate. Liquids are vital during a cold, especially warm drinks like herbal teas and ciders which not only keep you hydrated but can soothe inflamed sinus membranes and sore throats. DO NOT drink coffee, caffeinated teas, sodas, or anything with ice. Caffeine dehydrates you and will tighten the membranes in your nose and throat, while ice will exacerbate sinus issues and lower your body temperature.
- Eat conscientiously. Soups are great for meals because the broth will add to your hydration, and they will also provide protein for helping the body work to fight off the virus. Other foods that help the body during colds are garlic, spicy foods (think cayenne pepper), honey, peppermint, citrus fruits, and vegetables like parsley, celery, and cauliflower. These foods deliver nutrients your body will use to bolster the immune system and fight off your cold. Also, while I hate the taste of licorice, licorice root is invaluable in teas for reducing inflammation, encouraging adrenal gland activity, soothing sore throats, and it even promotes the production of interferon, a chemical that fights viruses. So fellow licorice-haters, pinch your nose and swallow.
- Learn to love your neti. In other words, flush your sinuses periodically with a saline nasal-solution, using what is called a neti pot. This process cleans out gunked up noses, helps prevent sinus infections, and relieves some of the dryness and itchiness you may experience in your nasal passages from decongestants. Use pre-boiled or distilled water to prevent discomfort and any potential problems with tap water cleanliness. If you can’t get the neti post or sinus irrigation to work for you, Zicam and several other products sell nasal swabs that serve a similar purpose but are a little less “weird.”
- Gargle, gargle, gargle. Once, when a particularly nasty sore throat bacteria was making the rounds in my family and friends, my mother went out and bought a big bottle of old school Listerine. She then had each of us stand there and gargle the stuff for two minutes, three times a day. It was awful and my eyes watered something fierce and I dreaded it, but none of us got sick for longer than a few hours of tickling at the backs of our throats. If you have a sore throat this season, you can either go the Listerine route (which is highly unpleasant, but effective) or the salt water route, which is just as effective and a little less tear-inducing. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water than gargle and spit five or six times in a row. Repeat a few times a day and your sore throat will clear up pretty quickly. Catch it early enough, and you might manage to avoid getting sick at all.
- Don’t sniffle, blow. Sniffling is essentially sucking the infected mucus back into your system, which is the exact opposite of helpful. Instead, blow your nose often with clean hands. DO NOT blow hard enough to pop your ears; you can actually push liquids into your ear canal this way, which can result in ear infections later on. Instead, close one nostril with your fingers and lightly blow into a tissue in a smooth, steady stream of air, and then switch off and repeat. Try not to use nasal decongestants unless you are severely hindered from breathing by the swelling of your nasal passages. Mucus production, while gross, is a sign of clearing the virus or irritant from your system. As always, wash your hands after blowing your nose — it keeps you from reinfecting yourself or introducing the virus to others.
- Soothe your sinuses. Use hot or cold packs on your sinuses to decrease swelling, promote movement, and promote better breathing. You can use hot and cold packs from a pharmacy, or improvise your own with what you have on hand. Heat a damp washcloth in the microwave for about 50 seconds (test the heat before you slap in on your face), or use a package of frozen veggies from the freezer wrapped in a towel.
- Raid your liquor cabinet. While alcohol is dehydrating and thus on our previous list of don’t-s, you’re not going to be drinking much for this old school remedy. Traditionally, you might prepare yourself a hot toddy, but some folks think a straight shot of whiskey or mixing hot cider and bourbon do the same thing just fine. This is probably a remedy more whimsical than wise, but if you need something warm and soothing, a little something-something in your tea will likely go a long way to making life suck a little less in the immediate future of tissues and cough syrup.
I thought about a lot of topics to break my Ten Things fast: Olympic hangover material, Shark Week (!), etc. But this is going to be one of those weeks when I’m afraid I’m going to take the time to navel gaze a bit.
Tomorrow will be a week since my birthday and while I don’t like making resolutions at New Year’s, I do sometimes set myself goals from one birthday to the next. And since my next birthday will fall pretty much directly after my return from my trip to the UK next summer, this birthday is meant to kick off a series of resolutions to make my next birthday less regretful and more triumphant in nature. (Not that I didn’t have a great birthday — it was quite surprisingly nice.) So, here we go.
Ten Reasonable Goals To Meet This Year:
A few other things on my mind:
Today, best of summer days, is the day in which Americans celebrate a bunch of dudes signing what amounted to a very cordial F-You letter to the King of England. Whilst already at war, but whatever. I know most of you will have a burger or hotdog, kick back, and watch the blowing up of colorful pyrotechnics tonight, so this week’s Ten Things are meant to edify your viewing of tonight’s plentiful fireworks displays by listing some of the common displays and shapes of fireworks so we all might be able to discuss them without stumbling around blindly for descriptors other than “big” and “explodey.” Enjoy!
Legal disclaimer: Don’t be a moron. Unless you enjoy traumatic injuries and wildfires. In which case, have someone you trust chain you to the couch with the local access fireworks show on TV. In summary, don’t be a moron.
Other note: I’m pulling names and descriptions whole hog from wikipedia. Click the links to see examples of the type of firework described.
It’s officially summertime (Neil Degrasse Tyson said!) and that means that even as the days are now beginning to shorten again, there are plenty of sunlit days in our future. And, as much as we all love our solar system’s white-hot ball of continuously burning gas, too much of its attention is a decidedly bad thing.
In recent years and with the aid of the examples readily available through a cursory internet search, awareness of the perils of UV damage is on the rise. “Tanned” is still the American standard for good looks, but with melanoma taking one American life an hour, we need to re-evaluate our relationship with sunscreen — a product many Americans only pull out from under the bathroom sink when they go out for a dip mid-summer. But the rules for sunscreen and sunblock have been evolving for years and old wisdom or instincts about application are outdated.
This week, have some tips and trivia about sunblock, how to use it, and what all those random numbers and letters mean anyway. (And if you’re a fan of infographics, take a gander over here.)
Once upon a time, I was hanging out with several friends and happened to be watching a commercial about “feminine products.” (By the way, I love how there are almost as many euphemisms tied up into a woman’s reproductive cycle as there are for sex. It makes a certain degree of sense, but it’s still kind of hilarious to me.) A male friend sitting next to me groaned loudly and exclaimed that he hated commercials for tampons and the like because they made all guys uncomfortable and awkward. The girl seated on the opposite side of him and I let him in on the secret that women hate those commercials too, because they remind us of how much we fucking hate our periods. Also, to get over it. If I have to watch commercials with Jimmy Johnson peddling off-brand Viagra (which requires an active effort to not think about the man’s sex life), you can sit through two minutes of cute girls merrily skipping about trying to sell the idea of a “happy period.”
I’m not trying to enter into a war of the sexes. It’s just that marketing targeted at women is pretty ridiculous. Partly that’s because the people making the commercials know that women make most of the shopping decisions in a household. And partly it’s because of all the bullshit women do to achieve a “normal” state of attractiveness (which is for other women, not generally for men).
Most of the time, it’s all pretty mundane, but occasionally there’s a commercial or ad campaign aimed at ladies that makes me giggle in a perplexed sort of fashion. These week, I want to share a few examples of silliness in advertising, specifically for products aimed at the girl-type people.
Quick disclaimer: I’m not an economist. Neither am I brilliantly on the spot for how individual policy changes will affect the American economy in the near and long term. Thing is, there are some things we need and the current generation of law makers (even those squeaky “fresh” Tea Partiers fall in the same generational grouping as those already serving in Washington) has been in power for forty years. And, for the most part, they’ve done f*#k all about keeping our country from being overrun by corporations and left behind by the rest of the world in education, health of our population, and the general financial stability of the average citizen.
Case in point? Mexico — MEXICO — is about to achieve universal health care coverage of all their residents. Or, how about ten years ago, when the US was sixteenth in the world for literacy of children between the ages of five and fifteen and, spoiler alert, we’re not doing any better now.
So this is me, in a presidential election year, with a wish list of things I’d like to see happen by the time I’m in my forties. Because if some of this stuff hasn’t happened? The short answer is that most of those folks in charge now will be retired or expired and my generation will be holding the bag for all the shit they didn’t want to touch for fear of not getting re-elected or not being able to maintain their personal status quo.
(And hey, I totally own up to not being a political science guru. I’ve never taken a political science class and I’m admitting it right here up front. So, if you have opinions about any of this I’m about to suggest — how it would or wouldn’t work, etc. — give me a holler. Just don’t be a dick about it, unless you really enjoy getting all worked up in a self-righteous lather and then being ignored. If that’s your thing, tool away. But otherwise, sleep on it and get back to me when your latent rage has simmered down a bit so we can actually talk about shit and not just froth at the mouth.)