Goals: Meh

Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means we all need to start thinking about the ways in which we are falling short of our own unreasonably high expectations. It’s an important time of year. We participate in the time-honored tradition of ignoring what is already amazing and focusing only on minor flaws. Really, if you haven’t figured out the ways in which you’re failing by now, you need to put “adjust my life goals” on your list of resolutions.

Deep in our brains, we know that life is going to be ok without six pack abs or a new dress, but for some reason we just keep on wanting them. It’s hard to say no to those little voices. For a first step, let’s recognize that our expectations are being negatively influenced by nonsense.

Here are a few things that are messing with us:

  1. Your Pinterest collection of paleo-vegan-sugarless meals
  2. The Kardashian crew’s naked and photoshopped Instagram uploads
  3. Your very successful, beautiful, and kind cousin living in the big city
  4. Babies wearing infant versions of designer clothing you can’t afford
  5. Real estate listings for stylishly designed mansions near your studio apartment

Now I’m all for working to improve oneself. I think we should try to do it everyday, regardless of the earth’s position in its rotation around the sun. But we can be both kind to ourselves and look forward to our awesome futures.

Here are some ways I think we can continue on our path of greatness during the coming solar rotation:

  1. Learn how to say “what’s up” in a few more languages
  2. Learn how to say “no, thank you, good bye” in a few more languages
  3. Eat more things that come right from the earth
  4. Also eat things that make our brains happy, like those gummy fruit squares from Trader Joe’s
  5. Wear something outrageous, but act like it’s totally normal
  6. Give ourselves permission to fail sometimes
  7. Also give ourselves permission to say, “yeah, I did that” when we succeed
  8. Keep moving our bodies
  9. Take care of ourselves by doing things like eating soup, wearing warm coats, and walking home with a friend
  10. Connect with people we love and who love us
  11. Disconnect from people who aren’t helping us be awesome
  12. Hug a tree or a koala or a friend (Note: before hugging a koala, make sure it doesn’t have chlamydia, because apparently they do and one of your goals should NOT be to get chlamydia from a marsupial)

I could go on and on, which would be boring for everyone. What’s important to remember is the internet is lying to us. Don’t trust it. Except if you’re looking up your symptoms on WebMD and it says you have an illness only contracted in a jungle 4,000 miles from you, then it’s definitely right.

Space Reflections

ZiggyStardust

The mirror on the James Webb Space Telescope is halfway done, friends. It will have 18 primary mirrors and nine of them are set. This is a big deal because NASA sent another pretty important telescope into space with a faulty one (psst: it was the Hubble). The mirror was plagued with a spherical aberration, a defect cause by a malfunctioning device used during polishing. Fixing that problem cost NASA a whole lot of money and made them look kinda silly, so this time they were like, “Guys, we really need to get this right.”

In a move that turns out to be totally unhelpful in the avoiding-mirror-disasters plan, the telescope will also have a secondary mirror. I thought this meant it would have a back-up to prevent the previously mentioned debacle, but it doesn’t. The second mirror is working full-time just like the first, but it has a different job. I don’t understand exactly what it does because usually I depend on Dave to explain these things to me and he’s killing dungeon demons right now. The internet tells me it sends images reflected from the primary mirror to the telescope’s cameras. Whatev, basically, it’s not a back-up so this first one has to work.

The Webb itself is going be the most powerful space telescope ever created and it is practically a time machine. Yeah, you read that right. It will be able to see back in time—up to 200 million years after the Big Bang. This means scientists (and us, because we are all scientists!) will be able to see images of the birth of our universe’s first stars and galaxies.

There are a lot of things I don’t fully understand and this is one of them. I know that we can see these things because of the speed in which light travels, but if I dig too deep in my mind on the subject, it starts to get a bit muddy. I do know that this is super cool and humans are amazing for wondering about these giant questions and finding a way to solve them.

Sometimes people feel small when they think about the vastness of the universe. I feel at ease and you should too. We are connected to billions of years of exploding stars and space-floating hydrogen atoms. We came from those early molecules and we’ll become them again, because that’s life, literally. We are intertwined—with the people that sit next to us on the bus in the morning and the elephants marching through African savannas. We are made of the same stuff. As my best friend, Bill Nye, taught me, “We’re drinking the water the dinosaurs drank.”

Learning about space reminds me that we are both tiny and gigantic all at once. We should remember that there are things bigger and more important than us, but also that we have the power to think big thoughts, explore the universe, and make our world better.

Science for the win.

Anything for Likes

InstaElections

The former president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has refused to give up her official presidential twitter account to the new president, Mauricio Macri. I learned this because it’s trending on Facebook, so its either a big deal or not important at all. I don’t know anything about Argentinian politics, but I know all about confusion and I think this is gonna cause some.

Here are some crucial questions I have about this situation:

  1. Why did they create a twitter account for the position’s office, instead of her own personal office? Casa Rosada is like the White House, so it would be like President Obama wanting to tweet as the White House for the rest of his life. This is the modern world. Your grandma has twitter. The Obama family has like 437 social media accounts. She could definitely have had two.
  2. Did she plan to be president forever and was caught by surprise by this turn of events? She and her staff should have expected that one day she wouldn’t be the political leader of Argentina and planned ahead for the social media ramifications of this change. This shows a lack of forethought on their part—not what you want from your president.
  3. Are people going to be confused now that there is a @CasaRosadaAR account and a @CasaRosada account? Will she use that confusion to her own benefit, tweeting out embarrassing or controversial messages one would believe are from President Macri? Will she repeatedly tweet the Dominos pizza emoji so that he gets hundreds of unexpected pizza deliveries?
  4. Is this not a political stand at all, but one based solely on a fear of losing followers, retweets, and likes? If so, I get you, girl. My mom is my only fan and I can imagine causing a huge bureaucratic disturbance to get some more love from the cyber world.

 

No Winners Here

MissUniverse

There’s been a lot of drama about Steve Harvey saying the wrong name at the Miss Universe competition.

It’s a shame that one of the women first thought she won and then had the crown ripped from her beautiful head. I’ve never had a crown placed on my beautiful head, but I know that feeling. It’s like when someone waves in your direction and you wave back before realizing he was looking at someone behind you. Or when you think you nailed an interview and cheerfully answer a phone call from the company only to be told they went with someone else.

While I understand the distress, I’m not very concerned about the flub. Here’s what we should all be concerned with: WHY DOES THIS STILL EXIST?

I’m not playing along with the “this is a scholarship fund” line. These women are in their 20s. I think some of them already have degrees and jobs, so I’m calling bullshit on that one. If the Miss Universe organization was so invested in the education of young women, they could probably do it without forcing really hot girls to prance around in bikinis while famous people assign them points.

And, no, this is not the same as an Old Spice commercial. No one is lining up men onstage and ranking them to sell more deodorant. That would be a very different, armpit-sniffing kind of competition. But I might watch it so I could be a more informed consumer.

 

Survival Tactic #325

SurvivalTip

If you’re going to face a dangerous situation, it’s a good idea to bring a frenemy.

With a frenemy, you can work together to make it through a challenge, but if it comes down to it, you can leave her behind as a body sacrifice without too much distress. You care about each other enough to run side by side from something horrible and also concoct a plan to defeat it, but not so much that you’d jump in front of a moving train for her. Plus, if she goes down, you can move on without much turmoil.

Also, you can’t trust a frenemy completely, so you won’t get lazy. You’re not exactly sure if she’ll pack the right things in your apocalypse bag, so you have to pack your own. You don’t know if she’ll snitch to the cops, so you have to act like she did. You can’t trust that she actually killed the vampire, so you need to stake it yourself. I have trust issues, so I think its generally good practice to depend on yourself in clutch situations. But a frenemy by your side forces you to do that.

With a friend, if things really come to a head, you’ll probably feel like you have to save her. Since you’re you, your friend is likely thoughtful and interesting. You probably love your friend and wouldn’t want to survive without her. That’s a recipe for death in a bear attack.

Also, you might rely on her even if she’d be terrible in a disaster. She might be really slow or a bad problem solver or easily scared. Unless you know your friend is a perfect survival partner, tying yourself to her is a risky move. She might get sick because she was too hungry to keep hiking and ate some old fruitcake. And then what? You’d have to hole up in some bunker taking care of the person you love while she pukes to death? Not a good strategy.

And that’s why, when trouble strikes, you better hope you’re with someone who likes the same taco joint as you, but also chews just a little too loudly.

Old Blue Eyes

Mutations

I read an article that said all people with blue eyes today descended from one person who had a specific genetic mutation. I think that’s nonsense. Why couldn’t there have been multiple people who had that mutation around the same time? I don’t believe it. Unless that person was Frank Sinatra. We all know that crooner couldn’t keep it in his pants.

No Next Time

 

DangerBreakfast

When I was a kid, my dad would let me sit on the riding lawn mower with him as he cut the grass. By the time I got to middle school, I was too big to ride with him, but I’d done it for years. At the mature age of twelve, he finally let me drive it myself. I felt a big sense of responsibility. I was intimidated by the machine, but I thought I could probably handle it. Well, I wasn’t sure I could handle it, but I thought I should definitely try. That’s the story of my life.

I made a couple loops around the yard successfully but then things took a turn for the worst. We had a fence around our yard and a smaller portion of fence that separated an area for my dog to use while we were away from home.

After my initial triumph, I somehow veered off path. I was heading straight for a portion of the fence that met the exterior of our house. In my panic, I couldn’t figure out how to steer or slow down. I had no control over my body or the mower. All I could do was stare into the impending doom and prepare myself for inevitable disaster. My dad saw it going down and, with only minor panic, ran over. He got to me before I took the fence down or smashed into the brick wall, but not before I crushed a few posts.

He said, “Well, that’s enough of that.” I was not allowed to drive the mower again. I’d like to think I learned a lesson that day, but I don’t know what it was. I still “fake it til I make it” with most of my just-out-of-reach goals and I stand by that mantra. Maybe it was that my dad has my back. Or maybe it was that I’m just not meant for hard labor, which is a lesson I’ll carry with me forever.

Not My Boots

boots

Many moons ago I was in downtown Detroit walking from a ska show to my car. I’d gotten a lot of upbeat, sweaty dancing in that evening, so I was in a good place emotionally. I’d parked at a McDonald’s lot near the venue and was passing the fast food joint when two homeless guys stopped me. They’d set up a pretty substantial camp on the sidewalk. One of them asked if I had any cash for them and I told them no. The other said, “Alright, can I have your boots?” I obviously said no because that’s crazy. First of all, this guy was already wearing shoes. Second, he would never have fit into mine. Third, I was wearing them on my feet, walking through the snow in the middle of winter.

Was he going to sell them? Did he have a boot fetish? Were they just so stylish he couldn’t resist? I’ll never know because we eventually agreed that his request was unreasonable. I walked away and he started playing drums on a plastic barrel.

Fang-tastic

IMG_20151216_0001

I try to avoid things with fangs. Bats—no thanks. Sabertooth tigers—nope. Vampires—definitely not. That creepy fish with a thousand teeth that lives on the ocean floor—avoid it. None of those creatures sound friendly to me. Whenever I’m approached by a vampire riding a sabertooth tiger, I always walk away.

I also avoid creatures with single fangs, like mosquitos. Or snakes with bad dental hygiene.