Saturday, November 30, 2019

It's Always Dumbest Before The Dawn

I can be efficient when I want to be, and that is why I designate the hours of 3-6am for pointless worry. The solitude allows me to focus on any problem, perceived or real, and often several at once. It's a real time-saver.

In addition, those are the hours in which I can achieve really accomplished fretting, because there is no likelihood that solutions are close at hand. The solution hours occur in the daytime when I'm driving somewhere and, often, not going through a red light or missing my exit. But between 3 and 6am, the answers to my problems are either elusive or insane.

Some of my daytime solutions veer a little off the reality template as well. For instance, when my laptop abruptly quits sucking up wireless, I close it and flap it in the air in the direction of our modem. And when a page doesn't load, I bang on the keys harder. This works randomly often enough that I stick with it. Religions have been based on less.

The other night I chose a couple juicy hours after 3am to wonder if Everything I Ever Wrote would vanish into thin air. This is not something I would like. I would not like it a whole, whole lot. I have written a whole, whole lot of stuff. In the last ten years I've written essays and doggerel and 1200 blog posts and four and a half novels and three other books. I suppose all of it would fit neatly in a small thumb drive with room left over for Wikipedia and the Word Of God but that just makes me sad.

The immediate spark to the fretfest was the notice, on my laptop, that I had not had a backup to the external hard drive for several days, and I should plug it the heck in. Well it was plugged in. Which means it wasn't sucking out data anymore. Typical middle of the night solutions include introducing some sort of virtual lactation coach to sturdy up the USB connection. After I turn that one over for a half hour trying to find the flaw, I move on to other solutions, such as unplugging the hard drive and putting it in the freezer.

This is a solution cooked up in the midnight cauldron of memories, to wit: (1) unplugging things has a disciplinary effect, plus (2) Dave once put the smoke detectors in the freezer when they all went off in the middle of the night. (He then put in fresh batteries and reinstalled them in the morning, and he'd only put them in the freezer because we wouldn't hear them in there, but I never made the full loop on that solution, and tend to believe, at 3am, that freezing things teaches them a lesson.)

Get your own backup service. This one's mine.
I am paying for a backup service on my desktop computer. I don't know what it does, really. Could be I've hired a group of ladies to sing Ooo, baby baby behind me. But the service does send me periodic messages, and they do ask me for more money when it runs out. I visualize all my stuff floating in the air somewhere over the midwest and trying not to bang into trolls. My hope is that when my computer crashes they will hork all of it up like a hairball and roll it back, but I really don't know. Unfortunately, I've almost quit using that computer in favor of the laptop. Does my backup service know to back up my laptop too? I can spend hours in the middle of the night trying to figure that out. Sure it does! My two computers don't talk to each other, but that's a normal sibling thing! Anyone from the outside could tell they're family!

Followed immediately by: of course it doesn't know. Not only that, but Everything I Ever Wrote is probably draining out of my laptop right now in the middle of the night, out of the little holes the hard drive is no longer plugged into. That's how it happens.

Morning. Two cups of coffee. All is clear. I contact the backup service and add my second computer and give them some more money. Took five minutes. Now to solve that damn Trump thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Shooting Up

People invariably describe getting the flu as like being hit by a truck, in spite of the fact that a vanishingly small number of flu victims have actually been hit by a truck before. Of course, the tire tracks are a dead giveaway.

I remember years of not bothering to get a flu shot. I had the notion that I just wasn't one of those people who even gets the flu, based on the fact that I'd never gotten it. And that worked right up until the year I did get it. It gave me a lot of clarity about how I felt about flu: I'm agin it. I've gotten a shot every year since then.

You can get free shots at the grocery store but we always walk to the Kaiser clinic because we're happy with our health plan and like to consume as much doctorage as we can. For instance, if you go to Kaiser for a flu shot, they peer into a screen and tell you it's time to get a colonoscopy and a tetanus booster and a derm checkup and a will, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. The other day we showed up for our flu shots and they said they were out of the Senior Big Boy Dose, although we were welcome to have the puny regular-person dose instead. Nobody peered at their screen to discover we were in fact over 65. I think they peered at us. Dave looks like Santa Claus's skinny brother, I've got chin hairs and bingo wings, and we both think they don't make good music anymore. Shoot us up.

The Senior Big Boy Dose contains more antigens. Seniors need them because their immune systems like to take naps. So we put it off until we could get the double whammy. Our arms are a little bit tender and that's how you know it's working. Our immune systems are all Whoa, up and at 'em, what day is it, where's my glasses?

I loves me some vaccines. They've got vaccines for things I've already had and for things that didn't even used to exist. They've got a vaccine for Rotavirus. That might be a Japanese sports car for all I know but there's still a vaccine for it. You can be vaccinated as a teeny tiny baby for future teenage wickedness. Vaccines are the greatest medical breakthroughs since whiskey, which was developed just after the bone saw.

I haven't had that many vaccines even though I'm a fan. That is because I went ahead and had the diseases instead. I had the mumps when I was a mere infant. I don't know how they could tell. I've seen my baby pictures and I couldn't have gotten much rounder than I already was. It must have been the loss of appetite. To this day if I say No to beer or food, you are instructed to call an ambulance.

But I don't have a lot of health problems. My eyes are too close together, my teeth are too close together, and the day I was born and today are too far apart. On the other hand, if you take the average of those two days, I'm only 33. I'm pretty sure that's how statistics works. I'd ask a scientist but who trusts them anymore?

That's a problem. Vaccines have worked so well people are insufficiently worried about disease. So they're declining vaccination in increasing numbers. There are so many rumors out there. And people really, really don't want to be conned. They would rather get a life-threatening disease than fall for some government shenanigans or Big Pharm conspiracy. Nosirree, in a world where the nebulous "they" are always out to get you, many people refuse to get got. They'd rather get measles than get got.

There's considerable evidence that Russians are spreading rumors about such things for the sole purpose of rendering the American population distrustful of any authority at all. Basically, the message is: don't trust anything you see or hear. Journalists are out for themselves. Scientists think they're better than everyone else so they make shit up just to mess with us. This politician is spouting bullshit, but then again they all do. They're all the same. There is no such thing as truth.

Which means you can be made to believe anything. Once your critical skills have been scraped out of your cranium they're free to insert pudding instead. And this time I do mean "they."

Well, when it comes to the truck description of getting the flu, I guess it's the suddenness they're talking about. The BAM aspect, followed by everything hurting. You feel pretty much okay, maybe just a little off, and then you're abruptly not okay, and you might never sleep right or feel good again. I don't know about getting run over by a truck. But it does feel like the last presidential election.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

High Nunes: The First Epistle To The Banana Republicans

Welcome to Story Time, the Circus, the Greatest Shitshow On Earth. The House Democrat majority has brought everything but the elephant poop. That's what we're here for.

You all know what's going on. This is no honest effort to discover the Truth. We buried that a long time ago. No, this is a shameless attempt to reverse the results of the last election, a coup d'├ętat, the blatant overturning of the wishes of the American People. It's disgraceful. The blatant overturning of the American People's wishes is the job of the Electoral College, and the Democrats know it.

This is not a serious undertaking. The Democrats have spent the past three years fantasizing at night about Watergate. They are wanking away in their basement bunkers, deposing repeatedly, in total secrecy, and we know this, because we were in there with them.

They've got nothing. They have people who talked to other people who overheard other people who got a text from their second cousin. There are no first-hand witnesses that the Democrats can provide, because we've got them duck-taped to their chairs in the White House, the American People's house, not some dank basement room with a hanging light bulb and the scent of damp Democrat panties. All they've got is rumor and hearsay.

Because true patriots do not meekly submit to Democrat subpoenas. They serve the American People, and the American People have no interest in these proceedings. The ratings are in the toilet, by the way. The true obstruction of justice is at the sticky hands of the Democrats who have refused from Day One to allow the President to conduct the business of the American People without oversight. Indeed, this obstruction of Trump and the purity of his vision is no less than an affront to God.

We aren't even allowed to subpoena the whistleblower, without whose blown whistle we wouldn't even be here today. We need to know the identity of the whistleblower and his or her GPS coordinates in order to determine if he or she is a partisan hack and allow the American People to demonstrate how justice is done, old-school.

They've got nothing! The President never once said "This was totally a quid pro quo for purely personal political gain." Quite the opposite. He said there was NO quid pro quo, loud as all hell, and wrote it twice with a Sharpie. So there. And he's right, because the Ukrainians never did what the President wanted, or what somebody's NeverTrumper second cousin said he wanted, and they got their military aid after all, which was only being held up temporarily, which is totally normal, until such time as the public found out about it. No quid pro quo. Or bribery, or extortion, or urinary malfeasance in the third degree, or whatever the Democrat Word Of The Day is.

Even Ambassador Sondland did not say quid pro quo in at least several of his text messages, instead obliquely referring to the "deliverables," which is a totally normal word for things that are open and above-board. Ask any reputable goombah.

And then, what happened? Trump sent them the Javelin weapons Congress ordered, which they really really needed to fight the Russians. Obama didn't send them Javelins. He blackly sent blankets and binkies. Neither did Clinton or Carter or Teddy Roosevelt. Democrat pansy-assedness goes back a long way. Only Trump had the courage to hold up the delivery of Javelins for a couple months while he made sure the Ukrainians wouldn't waste them.

The fact is if Democrats had been around when George Washington was using diplomatic channels to secure a treaty with Great Britain, they would have creamed their colonial knickers just thinking about impeaching him.

Are we to take the word of people who claim to know what's on the President's mind? Give us a break. Nobody knows what's in there. He'll say one thing in the morning and do something else at noon. The idea that anybody knows what the President is thinking is plain ludicrous. And yet that is what the partisan peter beaters on the other side of the aisle want you to believe.

Jesus. Don't make us go full Kavanaugh on your asses. Our arms are already in the air and we'll be spitting nails in a minute. Shut up! I'm not screaming, you're screaming!

The American People can see what's going on here. This circus is taking up valuable time the House of Representatives needs to do the American People's business, before our friends block it all in the Senate.

Let's face it: the Democrats have been trying to get rid of Trump since the day he was elected, and also they want to see nude photos of him.

Democratic response:

Yes we have, and no we the hell do not.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Toilet Queen

Well, strike up the marching band and scatter the rose petals. I am the Duchess of Dookieville.

I fixed the toilet.

It's just a little thing I thought I'd try. It's been decades since I could trade on my looks and even then I was just scraping by. I've always gotten a lot further with my sense of humor. But these days people are liable to just stare at you when you crack wise about the old Studebaker and having to go stand in line at the bank for money. I've decided to learn how to do some shit myself in case all my dwindling powers of ingratiation leave me stranded.

The toilet would be a big deal. I don't know much about plumbing but I do know it can make grown men cry and throw things. I do know every time I noticed a new plumbing issue, I would attach a note to the dog and send her out to find Dave. I do know that he would invariably tackle the job and eventually solve it but not without skinned knuckles, bruised ears for blocks around, and eighteen trips to the hardware store. Plumbing involves striking a balance between one's brute strength and the sensitivities of the pipes in question. Things need to be Goldilocks tight and no tighter or looser, but the little blonde is long gone. You think Papa Bear is scary? Give him a plumbing project.

I figured if I could fix the toilet myself I'd have enough credits lined up to allow me to be a jerk for weeks. Dave and I are very close to our toilets. You wouldn't believe how close, really. Downright intimate.

The toilet in question still worked, after a fashion. You could flush it and everything. It just took a day and a half to fill up again. You'd want to do the very best job you could before you flushed, because you were going to have to wait three whistleblower scandals and a paid-off porn queen before you got another flush out of it. I was puzzled. Then I realized there must be debris in the uppy-downy contraption where the water comes back in. I you-tubed it. My diagnosis was sound.

The trick is to get in there and screw off the tippy-top of the uppy-downy and flush it out. This was a little fraught because all the parts were plastic, and reluctant, and you don't want to snap anything off that can't be resnapped later. But I did it. Then you hold a cup over the top of the valve and turn the water back on. We have excellent water pressure. I nearly drove the cup into the ceiling. Then you put everything back together again and hope for the best. A body can hope, right?

Sure enough I flushed the toilet and the water came charging back into the tank. I was the Toilet Queen! Bow down before me! Run a damp towel and some Lysol around the floor while you're down there!

The next time I flushed we were right back where we started.

This was, I'm sure, a direct result of the dishwasher fiasco. The installers insisted I bring in a plumber to fix the shutoff valve and the plumber turned off the water for the house. When he turned it on again, all the faucets and toilets made an explosive horking sound the first time they were used. I figure rust nuggets from 1926 are on the loose and one of them was now a Toilet Bolus.

Which means the entire uppy-downy thing needed to be replaced. That was eight and a half bucks of potential glory in one little box. The hardware store lady said it was easy. I wasn't born even close to yesterday. I ratcheted my expectations way down. But it was easy. Even all the little nuts and washers spun right off and back on again. I was a hero. I was the Countess of Caca.

Dave taught me long ago that an essential step in any successful personal project is to grab a beer and position a chair so that you can admire your work. It's a little tight in that room, but I'm going for it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, was World Toilet Day: "Leave No One Behind."

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.