Saturday, November 16, 2019

Bonus Nipplage

Friend and loyal reader Tom K was intrigued by my offhand mention of a third nipple in a recent blog post about sewing. He latched onto it, as it were, and soon discovered that third nipples are not that uncommon.

Extra nipples usually show up in what is called the "milk line," or a line of embryonic tissue corresponding to where the nipples show up on your pet mammal. They're not usually quite as fancy and involved as the ones used in advertising. They might look like moles.

Men's nipples are generally considered to be useless, but in fact a man can lactate, in the right mood. That mood being if he'd been put on Thorazine, or had a pituitary tumor, or had a baby suckling on him night and day for a few weeks, or was a Dayak fruit bat. These are all pretty specific moods.

People wonder why men even bother having nipples, unless they're Dayak fruit bats where that kind of thing is just expected; and the answer is that early on, both male and female fetuses are pretty much alike, and the male fetus is just holding onto the possibility of being female, until it has to give up its aspirations and live out a life of anger and resentment.

(Similarly, females still retain a little bit of the vas deferens sperm chute too, although they have been socially conditioned not to ejaculate, especially in the boardroom.)

Truthfully, though, even lactating women don't have much call for a third nipple, and it seems like as long as we're tossing in extraneous items we could get a little more creative. Everyone remembers seeing that poor mouse with a human ear on its back. If you're going to have an extra ear--and you could make a case for that--you wouldn't want it on an unrelated mouse. You'd want it on top of your head so you can hear an Acme safe coming.

I believe someone grew the ear on the mouse on purpose to give it to someone else later. There is a man who had a second nose grafted onto his forehead to replace his own damaged one. There are people with two heads. And many people have been born with extra limbs. If I had an extra arm I'd want it in the back and use it just for wiping. But in a society that gets worked up about visible panty lines, such an innovation is not likely to take off.

A number of people have grown horns, usually on their heads. For some reason many of them are Chinese and old. One woman named Zhang Ruifang grew a decent horn out of her forehead and the beginnings of a second, right where you'd want it, on the other side. She was 101 years old and pretty chuffed about the whole thing, although I imagine she'd have preferred a matched set. She had no interest in removing them. It is a tribute to her culture that a woman who has horns and might be immortal was not abused in any way. Most of your historic Christian communities would have had those horns removed at the stake.

I'm not wild about my eyebrow mole, but a real, committed horn would be cool. Not those sissy unicorn horns, either. You stick a drill bit on a horse and people just go all to pieces. And all the glitter that comes with it is a nuisance. No. I want a bugle right on my forehead. You show up unprepared for an argument with a bugle on your forehead, you're still going to win.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Boom Boom

Oh yeah. Authentic Baby Boomer, 1969
Anybody got any spare pearls to clutch?

You probably heard. A young member of the New Zealand parliament was in the middle of a speech about the coming climate catastrophe when she was heckled by an older colleague. "OK, Boomer," she snapped off, in a little bit of unrehearsed genius, and continued on. The old fart had been concisely scorned. "OK Boomer" became a viral hit. An entire generation has been dismissed.

And a whole lot of us famously self-involved Baby Boomers are in a snit about it, apparently.

I was born in the pinnacle of the baby boom, and you can see a lot from the top of a bell curve. You can see even more if you never take offense. And the complete inability to take things personally happens to be my superpower. Be forewarned.

If someone comes at me, I figure either I'm in the wrong, in which case I should promptly own it, or they're mistaken, in which case there's no reason to be offended because it has nothing to do with me. I know: it's sickening how healthy my self-regard is. And, minus a couple adolescent years, it always has been. I don't know if it was part of my out-of-box experience, or if my parents had it installed. Either way, it's damned hard to hurt my feelings.

Not so the conservative radio personality who took to his fainting couch over the dreadful bigotry of the "OK Boomer" diss. Why, it's the new N-word, says he. I Swan! Mercy Lord!

Settle down, Steve Mike Tom Dave Gary. You haven't been persecuted in all your born days. You will live to flower delicately again.

Let's face it. Most of us boomers had nothing to do with the development of weapons of mass carbon redistribution, but we all gobbled up the goodies as fast as we could. We worked for peace and justice until our own war went away and all that artificial wealth rained down on us. We've had more toys than any generation in the history of Life and we're going to the grave with them.

There are generalizations you can make about any demographic, but I contend people are all the same. The millennials would've squandered our last resources too if we'd left them any. The Greatest Generation would've done the same thing if they hadn't been born into a depression instead. It's just the luck of the draw that we boomers got to eat all the candy.

And that's what "OK Boomer" means. You bet it's dismissive. Because it's referring to the fact that now that we know we're destroying everything and we know what must be done, we still won't do it. Instead we're all upset that someone's calling us names. Damn house is on fire and the teenagers next door are handing us a hose and we're all arms-folded and No! Not until you say you're sorry for being mean. And get out of the petunias.

We're perpetual toddlers.

You're not one of those Boomers, you say? Stereotypes are unfair? Go ahead and fly your #NotAllBoomers flag. Whine that you were always on the side of goodness and can't be blamed. See where it gets you. Nowhere. Now quit pouting and get over your damn self. We've all got work to do.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

And You Don't Have To Bimbo It

One fortunate consequence of not photo-editing pictures of myself on Facebook is that I see a lot of fun ads for how to fix what obviously ails me.

Nikoro is only the most recent. By appearances, Nikoro is a gold razor, and the video in the ad shows someone raking it all over the face, hard: forehead, temples, you name it. And whereas I do have a nice cover crop of facial hair going, the only hairs I actually wouldn't miss are the ones with measurable diameters. I can't remember when the Legacy Hair on my chin first sprouted, but next time I yank it out I'll try to remember to count the rings.

Nikoro is, however, upon further exploration, not a razor at all. Instead it's a metal wand on a stick that you push all over your face to urge it into a state of immaturity. It employs microaggressions or something. Oh, and also it vibrates. The purveyors of Nikoro recommend you apply their vibrating non-razor anywhere you like. Marketing!

According to the website, it has been designed for women who want to reduce their wrinkles or who have drooping skin, face, neck, or chest. I'm not certain what the golden wand is likely to do for my drooping chest but I'm pretty sure I can carry a half dozen of them under each side with nobody the wiser.

This will not be necessary, however, because the Nikoro also comes with an accessory black velvet pocket "to take it everywhere with you, in your handbag for example, without having to bimbo it." Which is an obscure relief.

The Nikoro, if used to massage the upper chest area, is claimed to revive the Cooper's Ligaments. Cooper's Ligaments (a.k.a. "God's Bra") are a cage-like assemblage of supporting tissue that holds the breast in an ideal state of pertness. They were named after surgeon Sir Astley "Hands" Cooper, who discovered them repeatedly for several years in the 19th century.

Cooper's Prototype Ligaments
Whereas it might be possible to revive Cooper's Ligaments, mine are not dead, but only retired. If anything, they're taking a nap and should not be disturbed.

The Nikoro is advertised as a lower-cost home facial improvement product utilizing the extremely ancient massage technique known as "Kibodo." This age defying technique was pioneered by two 540-year-old practitioners, who oughta know. It is said they originally clashed over a demonstration of "Kyoku-te," a facial treatment performed with percussion using the folded hand. (In this country, the facial percussion with the folded hand is carried out by Guido, and it does plump the tissues.)

It is recommended that you start your treatments as soon as possible after age 30 so as to ward off the worst of the aging process. These are your prime beauty-treatment-purchasing years, and if you wait too long, there is a significant commercial danger you will become too old to give a shit.

And if you wait until you're my age, that thing is just going to leave tracks on your face like a vacuum cleaner.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

I Used To Be Fun-Size

We have a situation.

I can only compare it to the similarly trauma-induced Toilet Paper Closet that my mother maintained faithfully until her demise.

Mom sailed patriotically through butter rationing and she was fine with painting the seams on her legs in lieu of stockings but she never got over the toilet paper shortage in World War II, and as long as I can remember her linen closet was stacked to the ceiling with toilet paper.

We, on the other hand, are living with a pile of Halloween candy that could block out the sun. The new topography of our kitchen counter shows up on LIDAR. The center of the pile has probably achieved composting temperatures by now.

It all goes back to a Halloween forty years ago when we bought what we thought was a reasonable, even plentiful, amount of candy and discovered, an hour in, that we had way undershot. Worse, most of the kids on our porch were dressed up as eighteen-year-olds with scowls and pillowcases. Some of them held out second pillowcases and demanded "one more for the baby at home." This wasn't fun. We phoned our neighbors to see if they had any extra candy and they were panicking also. Someone made a trip to the store to find shelves bare of everything but Tic-Tacs and tiny eyeglass screwdrivers. It didn't occur to any of us that we could turn the lights out and hide under the bed.

So ever since, we've gone way overboard, even though nothing like that ever happened again. Dave wanted to buy candy early, but I know that trick, and I held him off until about two weeks ago. Then we got a few dozen full-size bars. Dave likes to give the immediate neighbor children full size bars, and then it doesn't seem fair so he gets a bunch more full-size bars, and really we don't have that many trick-or-treaters anymore so they might as well ALL get full-size bars. And then we got a couple bags of fun-size bars just to be on the safe side. And we waited.

Then I noticed that the bagged bars were not fun-size after all, but even smaller and presumably even more fun. They were basically only a square inch of candy bar each. Which meant that it wouldn't be that big a deal to go ahead and open it up and pop a few in our mouths. A few here, a few there. How much trouble could I get into, especially during World Series season when I'm already eating salted peanuts in the shell for dinner and praying for a sweep so my colon can recover? The day before Halloween, after we'd gone ahead and opened up the second bag, I was at the store and decided to restock the stash just in case we ran low. The lady right around the corner said she'd gotten five times as many kids as we did last year, and on the Alameda Ridge a few blocks away word was they got 300-400. I got another couple bags of actual fun-size bars, and then another couple just in case.

Not sure what happened after that. We stuffed all we could into the cabinet and some of it whelped. There was a Baby Ruth and a Snickers left out on the counter and Jesus showed up in the middle of the night and loaved and fished them. Then we had three bowls the size of God's satellite dish filled with fun-sized bars with itty bitty bars to spackle up the spaces plus a solid forty full size candy bars not including the twelve we thought were full size but turned out to be packages of eight fun-size. Each.

The six small children who showed up did real well.

Six. Real well.

The good news is I'm finally out of salted peanuts in the shell. Should have bought some more toilet paper, though.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Case For Hibernation

I don't have anything against winter, but hibernation seems like a terrific idea to me. I am really attracted to any protocol that involves major gluttony followed by tremendous sloth. Pride, envy, greed, lust, and wrath have no hold on me. But them other two rock.

Give me that whole bear routine. The idea is to eat as much as one possibly can and then sleep it off for months. Oh, this checks all the boxes. I would give it a shot, even though I know I'd run the risk of spending four months looking for the classroom I never attended in order to take the final exam, or racing through the airport to make my flight, or not being able to find a clean private toilet to poop in.

What I wasn't aware of was that ladybugs hibernate also. Many of them gorge themselves as fall approaches, which I find disturbing, because they do not have the benefit of stretch pants. Nevertheless they apparently start packing on the micrograms and then get together in a big heap with thousands of their little friends, like a pile of puppies, to sleep it off and sit out the winter. I'm not sure what the angle is. As far as I'm aware, ladybugs do not generate heat metabolically. So the bottom ladybug in a pile of cold ladybugs is still cold. Perhaps they just like company.

Ladybugs are also called Lady Beetles but not by anyone I know. Probably only entomologists. Because entomologists know ladybugs aren't bugs, they're beetles. Hell, everyone knows that, but we're still going to call them ladybugs. Entomologists should let a loop out every now and then. Knowledge can be a curse. It's like how I keep trying to tell everyone that "iris" is not the plural of "iris" but I never get anywhere, and I'm the only one unhappy. Nobody cares and I shouldn't either.

What's more interesting is why the beetles are "lady" anything. Evidently in the Middle Ages--so goes the tale--crops were failing right and left and the people prayed to the Virgin Mary for help, and she sprinkled ladybugs over the good Catholic farms. The insects scarfed down the aphids and all was saved. That's just the kind of thing God and his staff will do for the properly reverent. And the people called their saviors the Beetles Of Our Lady. And larded the original story up with supporting religious hoo-ha, to wit: the red beetle represents the cloak of the Virgin and the black spots are her joys and sorrows. That's a lot of significance to heap on a small insect, but in case they get too full of themselves they can fly to Poland, where they're known as "God's little cows."

Some time before the slumber party the female ladybugs lay eggs near a big food source such as my broccoli crop, which went gray with aphids this year. The stated reason is to give their larvae a better chance to find food. More likely, they're completely stuffed full of aphids themselves and they can barely get off the sofa to fly. Although it all works out the same.

What ladybugs do in a heap over winter is not actually called hibernation, but "diapause," which any entomologist would not be able to prevent himself from telling you. Basically they just push the pause button. (You get a ladybug in peridiapause, she'll be cranky for years.)

Ladybugs have made a nuisance of themselves in the course of their overwintering by congregating on the siding of light-colored houses and finding their way inside, where they warm up, wake up, and spew stinky yellow goo out of their knee-balls over anyone with a disciplinary broom or vacuum. In the course of reading about this I learned that they "are of special consternation to those who are entomophobic," meaning they really creep out people who are afraid of bugs. Who writes this shit? Entomologists? Anyway there are some ways of preventing an infestation. Simply seal all cracks, crevices, and openings in your entire house that are larger than a tiny beetle. And repaint your house. Done!

Well, none of this is as appealing as being a fat marmot snoozing away in a burrow in one of the prettiest places on earth, but it's a living. And there's a lot to recommend it. Fact is, the world would be a better place if we all left it alone for a few months every year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Problems On The Follow-Through

Brussels Sploots?
We're all going to have to learn new things. Old things, really, things our grandparents knew and every generation before that, but not us. Things are going to need to be decentralized. We need to learn how to make our houses comfortable without pumping in a lot of energy from somewhere else; we need vegetable beds in every front yard. Time's a-comin'.

We're on board. In theory. We wear sweaters and we have a vegetable garden. Or something like it.

It's so exciting to think you can plunk a little package of Life into the soil and wring dinner out of it later. In fact it's so exciting that we expend all our enthusiasm right off the bat and have no follow-through. We always planted sugar snap peas. It says right on the package that you can plant successive crops every two weeks, but we feel so accomplished after the first batch comes up that we never remember to do it again. We have a collection of open seed packets (rolled over at the top and a little soiled) going back a decade.

Same thing with lettuce. We put in six plants and a few weeks later there's more lettuce than we can even eat, and then they bolt and we put them in the compost pile. If we'd sown more seeds earlier, we'd have new lettuce, but we forgot, and now we have to wait a few more weeks.

We watch the first few peas ripen and pluck them happily for a few days and then something shiny goes by, and the next time we look the pea pods are fat and nubbly and overdone, and we put them in the compost pile.

We've got basil, and extract a few leaves now and then, but we leave the rest for Donna around the corner to make pesto out of. This year we forgot to bring it over and she forgot to fetch it. First cold snap we'll be putting the plants in the compost pile.

The peppers always do well. Or they used to, but this year we put them in the pea bed just to shake things up and put kale in the pepper bed. The peppers sulked. We picked a few small, dispirited ones and the plants went into the compost pile. The kale was tremendous and we had kale salad for a good week and then the white flies showed up and we pulled them up and put them in the compost pile.

No one needs lettuce flowers.
Know what we have a ton of? Acorn squash. We didn't plant it. It just showed up. There were plenty of seeds in the compost and it could've just as easily been butternut, or delicata, or that stripey thing that looks like a toilet float, but no. Acorn. Every last one. They're easily our most successful crop. That is because you can put them on the counter and ignore them and they'll still be edible months later. And that's what we need in a vegetable.

In short, this is not a vegetable garden. This is an avatar of a vegetable garden.

What to do? There are a few ways to go on this. We could begin paying attention, with sticky notes on the calendar ("PAY ATTENTION") and bone up, and buckle down, and can, freeze, grind, dehydrate, stomp, juice, dig a root cellar, and, in short, go full Grandma on the thing. Or we can find a bright-eyed kid with braids, a Bernie button, and a fug of Patchouli and tell her to go to town on the place in exchange for a fifth of the take. We'd be way ahead doing that.

But we'll probably do the same thing. We'll see what wanders into the yard, feed it, water it, admire it, watch it make a mess in the bed, and then humanely euthanize it. We don't grow vegetables. We grow pets.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Billionaire Protection Party Playbook

There are 4,398 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for President. It's a sharp bunch. There are some differences in their proposals but they're all operating on the side of goodness. You should pick one or two you really like and toss them a few nickels and see where it all lands. What you shouldn't do  is worry too much about something called "electability."

Because every single one of them is electable. Most citizens do not like Donald Trump, and do not like him hard. Even most of the ones that do like him don't care for him personally, because he's rude and childish, but they like how that gets liberals all worked up. Of the remainder who really, really like him, a significant percentage will fall down go boom or soil themselves on their way to the polling place.

So if you really like one of the leftmost candidates (formerly known as Eisenhower Republicans) but think you'd have a better shot with someone beiger who can't be pinned down to any position, think again. It doesn't matter who we pick, because the attack machine will be the same for any of them. If we nominated that flamer Jesus, he'd get the same treatment. The massively-endowed think tanks and focus groups that champion the Billionaire Protection Party never let the truth get in the way of a good tactic.

The eventual Democratic nominee will be called a socialist. Doesn't matter that there aren't any socialists running, or that people don't know what socialism is. Most of the ideas Democrats are espousing are very popular. You call the very same platform socialist, and the public turns on them. There will be very sophisticated memes out there proliferating, depicting the candidate as crazed or drenched in red or wearing horns, because that is how we choose a President these days. If you ask the average voter what a socialist is, you will be told that it is a person who wants to take all you have worked for and give it to someone who doesn't deserve it. That's actually what the billionaires are doing, but the Billionaire Protection Party has plenty of cash to devote to confusing you about these things.

Once they've gotten the public all heated up about socialists, they'll start hammering away on the idea that our Democratic candidates not only want to take away what you have, but they want to make fun of you or shame you. They'll say they're coming after your favorite light bulb and your drinking straw and they'll force you into a skinny little car you don't want. They will say this is taking away your freedom. Focus groups have found that Freedom plays really well with Americans. Americans will happily ride the last glacier to rubble and pull the last fish from the sea as long as they still have their freedom. And they hate to be scolded. They will jam a dozen plastic straws in their sodas and blow black exhaust out of their big rigs just to stick it to the scolds and know-it-alls. This is exactly what a two-year-old would do, but the Billionaire Protection Party can afford to shower them with Legos and cheap candy so Mommy and Daddy can go out and paint the town red.

So go ahead and nominate a real grownup. You might just as well. The public might even surprise you and elect them.