Monthly Archives: June 2019

The Rescue

I have a space between the stove and the wall, just wide enough for things to fall from my counter in that space, which because the wall is painted red (on the right), kind of looks like Hades:

dropped1blag

Recently the pepper shaker fell down that dark forbidding chasm. There is no way to move the stove, so you have to go in from the top. I half thought to leave it there. I don’t use it because I have a pepper mill. But it’s part of a set, and the weird thing about me is on occasion I can have sudden onset OCD. Most of the time, I really don’t care where things are or aren’t, and my desk at work looks like a stock photo for the “before” picture of a decluttering coach. But the set being separated started to bug me; that and the set came from a Yankee swap many years ago, one that I still go to every year. So I’m attached to it and you never know when you’re going need a last minute Yankee swap regift.

Operation Pepper Shaker Rescue began.

The pepper shaker was too heavy for duct tape lowered on a string. So I had to get creative. Luckily I have a set of orange Tupperware measuring cups from the 80s that have holes in the handles. Perfect for tying a string to. Or, I guess hang them up, if you’re weird. My Pampered Chef measuring cups would be useless for this.

I lowered my rescue measuring cup, and used a broom to sweep the shaker into the cup. I am absolutely positive I did not look odd squatting on top of my stove, holding a string and manipulating a broom. Perfectly normal activity.

dropped2blog

Now, much like saving minors from a collapsed shaft, I had to pull up the cup, carefully. It was horizontal, and the shaker could have fallen out at any time. I mean this is really tricky business.

dropped3blog

Oh my god, is the string fraying? Will I lose my shaker to the Hades abyss? Or is it camera trickery and my love of a cliche technique used in pretty much every drama from the 70s?

Just  little more, and we’re there…

dropped4blog

Success!!

dropped5blog

 

But wait, who is this running, er sliding, to happily greet the rescued pepper shaker?

dropped6blog

 

Awwwwww. See? I couldn’t leave the pepper shake down there.

dropped7blog

Sure, I’m weird, but you read til the end.

Everyone’s a Winner, or Are They?

Periodically, I get letters from my utility companies, comparing my usage to my neighbors. These little slices of peer pressure have been on my list to make fun of, mostly from the angle that I don’t give a flip how I compare to my neighbors, so you just wasted a stamp and some trees. Also, I always end up “good,” so really, what is the motivation to change? I guess they think they can push my buttons by showing me the remarkable performance of my “efficient” neighbors. But again, I don’t care about what my neighbors are doing. That’s why I live in a city, where ignoring people is built in to the fabric of our community.

The most recent report caught my eye. There I am in blue, once again getting patted on the head and told I’m “Good” with a little yellow smiley face.

gas1blog

Do these things really work on anyone? Do people open them up, exclaim, “Look I got the yellow smiley face!” And then take action of any kind, other than throw them away? Or save them for a blog post?

But then I looked at that green flat line along the bottom, the usage of the alleged “efficient neighbors.” Notice the flat line, like the line of a patient whose heart just stopped.

gas2blog

Soooo…what exactly is this? You’re telling me that my “efficient” neighbors manged to use 4 therms of gas per month through the entire New England winter? It was zero degrees Fahrenheit pretty much every other day.  What kind of crap is this? Suddenly, I’m very interested in how I’m being compared to my neighbors. Because it’s a damn lie! 4 therms maybe keeps your pilot light on in your stove.

Dear Gas Company: I’m only a lowly blog writer, not a utility engineer, but even I know that people who only use 4 therms of gas during a New England winter are:

  1. Dead and have no friends or family who care enough to check on them, and the heat has been cut off for nonpayment.
  2. Little princesses who can’t stand the cold and go to a warm place all winter and turn their thermostat down to 4 therms a month. P.S. They will also have frozen pipes and flooding, wasting water.
  3. Total cheaters who have another source of heat. I don’t think their electric bill says they are “efficient.” More like “Godzilla of usage.” Alternately they are burning away the ozone with all that wood smoke getting spewed in the sky in the name of not using gas heat. Forget solar. Only 6 people around here have solar panels.
  4. All of the above.

So, Gas Company, who are you really comparing me to? A bunch of freaks who don’t use gas heat? How is that a fair comparison? And how do you know where I actually fall on the spectrum, if you can’t even eliminate the outliers from your data? And for that matter, is the “Using more than average” data right? How will I know? And if it is, isn’t the bar a little low? Like any amount under average is “good.” What is this, a soccer participation award?

Now I have zero confidence in anything you tell me. And I actually think you may be a part of some conspiracy to, I don’t know, turn me into a 4 therm using zombie while you distract me with false praise and bad data.

Or this is in the top 5 of bad marketing campaigns.

Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to Google how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse/live on 4 therms month.

 

 

 

 

Happy Pride, for Reals

What a difference a couple of years makes! Context truly is everything. Just a few short years ago, my friends and I went to the Gay Pride Parade and complained that it had become too commercial, too long. And where were the outrageous drag queens and the lesbians dressed only in shorts and with duct tape on their nipples? Assimilation comes at a cost, and what happens to a culture when the outsider group, that defines itself as an outsider group, becomes accepted? You have to sit through a 4-hour parade of banks and churches and schools. Like straight people. I’m straight and I couldn’t even take it.

We were so young and foolish then.

Now? Just going to the parade has become a form of protest. This year the weather was perfect.  I called it a Pride Miracle, because we have not had 3 days of beautiful weather in Boston strung together since last year. 2-0-1-8. WTF!?

And there was something about the weather, like a gift, and the long parade, that felt more like caring than commercial. I watched with my friends, Mike, Jonathan, and Ron. After a couple of hours we grabbed lunch and then started walking backwards along the route towards the end. We were now nearly 4 hours into this thing. But the groups just kept coming. We went past the official parade start and there were still groups coming. And Mike summed it up perfectly.

“I’m feeling very moved by all these groups and the support. I feel very safe.”

Nothing is permanent, the acceptance of hard-earned gay rights or the Cheeto flea. But Saturday, under clear blue skies and a warm, welcoming sun, many of us felt safe, and hope.

And PS to the asshat straight men who want their own parade. I will say to you what I said to my son who, at 7 or 8 years old, complained that there is a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, so when is Kid’s Day?

I answered, “Kid’s day? You want to know when kid’s day is? Every damn day, that’s when kid’s day is.”

So stop being such craybaby princesses and enjoy your every damn day.

 

That Ain’t Yoga

I love yoga, but this shit is getting out of hand. The “hot” yoga has been around for a while, and in an attempt to not be such a yoga princess, I tried it a few years ago. People gush about how the warmth makes your muscles stretch more easily and you can go much farther in a pose, which is sort of anti-yoga. It’s about “practice” people, not “finish.”

But whatever, I get it. Western culture generally has a super hard time just doing things for the sake of doing them, and if you don’t have a goal — lordy, well, you are totally doing it wrong. I can do my yoga next to you unperturbed by that idea, except if it’s damn hot. I’m used to doing yoga for an hour and a half, but 45 minutes in, I hit the heat wall and had to lie still on my mat. I felt like you do sometimes on a hot humid summer day when the heat is so oppressive all you can really do is drink cold alcoholic beverages in the shade until you can drink more comfortably later in the day. Also, I’m a sweaty person, so even before I hit the wall, I was slipping around on my mat like a kid on a Whamo-O Slip ‘N Slide on said hot summer day. Not ideal for engaging my core, but a perfect way to pull a few very warm muscles.

Then someone asked me if I heard of goat yoga. I thought they were making fun of me. But, no, it’s an actual thing. I won’t call it a real thing, cuz that ain’t real. It’s just another obsession around entertaining ourselves. Seems like it started in California. Because, of course it did. Need I say more? Hey,  yoga is great and all, but this down dog needs a little, I don’t know, pizzazz, a little razzle dazzle. I know! Let’s add goats! Yes, I need some little goat headbutting my ass while I’m trying to extend my spine, stretch my legs, and turn my triceps toward each other with my hands planted. If you need goats to do yoga, then maybe you need to try something else, like artisan goat cheese making or exotic animal farming. I’m sure there is another activity for you. Just stay away from my yoga, deal? 

So, how can you top that, right? Well, I just got an email from a yoga studio where I took the hot yoga class — I really need to unsubscribe. They were promoting the “Wim Hof Method,” and there is a photo of a white (of course) man sitting cross legged, eyes closed, with the ocean in the background. I love yoga, but the teachers can have weird names, and they love to invent new kinds of yoga and name it after themselves, so I thought this guy was Wim Hof. That was odd enough to keep me reading. I soon realized the photo was Samuel Whiting, alleged expert of the Wim Hof Method: that’s WHM for all you non-hipster yoga people, who aren’t even hip enough to do yoga with goats. If it’s got an actronym, it must be real.

This part caught my attention: “Discover how you can utilize breathing and cold exposure to optimize body & mind, and learn about the underlying physiology.” Wait, wha? “Cold exposure?” OK, I’m not a big fan of passing out in a sweaty pool on the yoga mat from heat, but at least I can intellectually understand the idea of warmer muscles. “Cold exposure” makes me think of, well, me all winter long, tensed up while battling the winter wind, snow, and sleet. I need yoga to uncramp me from that. At room temperature. What “cold exposure” optimizes is my crabbyness, and the underlying physiology is, it’s effing cold, get thee human ass to a heated building.

But wait. There’s more! “Cold-water immersion in the form of an ice bath can boost metabolism, optimize your nervous system (re program your relationship to stress), strengthen your immune system and build mental fortitude.”

For the record, I find an ice bath extraordinarily stress-inducing.

What fresh hell is this? Boot camp? The Whamo-O James Bond training program? Ah, according to that fund of maybe-it’s-true knowldege Wikipedia, Wim Hof , “also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He has set Guinness world records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow. He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation.[1] But skeptics question whether or not his identical twin brother’s similar brown fat composition shows that Wim’s tolerance of cold is mostly a result of his genetics.[2][3]”

What did I tell you about people naming techniques after themselves. Oh, this is getting rich. And I thought the goats were bad! At least it’s the idea that’s bad. The goats are, well, just being goats. Actually they are particpiating more in the spirit of yoga and just being themselves more than the humans are doing.

And then this: “Hof is the subject of The New York Times bestselling book What Doesn’t Kill Us, which tells the story of how the investigative journalist Scott Carney took an assignment supposedly to debunk the WHM but ended up learning Hof’s techniques.[4] He is also the subject of the Vice documentary Iceman in which journalist Matt Shea learned the WHM.[5]

I will stop there. As a practitioner of yoga since 2004, doing various poses on a mat, with no extra heat, or cold, or Guinness world records and simple props like a belt, a block, or a bolster, I can say with great certainty, yoga should never be paired with these phrases: “Extreme athelete,” “full body contact with ice,” and “kill.” Although if you want a Guinness after holding down dog for 3 minutes, I say, go for it.

I’ll just put it out there, that this feels a tad outside of the intention of yoga. And maybe a teeny tiny bit ‘o male ego thing. Yah?

In my humble female opinion, yoga is not meant to “build fortitude” by withstanding a super spy James Bond/Wim Hof ice cold shower/bath. If you want to see how manly you are by jumping in icy water, go right ahead. But why to do you have to drag yoga in it? The polar bear swimmer people already do that, join them. To build mental fortitude, I seem to only need to hold a pose for longer than I think I can, pushing the limits of my body in a quiet, yet challenging way. Breathing in slowly and when my monkey brain says, “OMG, we can’t possibly do this for one second longer,” I tell myself, panting and sweating, that we’re OK and we can hang on in the pose for 10 more seconds, 20 more seconds, a minute. And if all else fails, “We can have extra wine later if you hang in now!” Both the yoga and the wine translates to my life, to help me hang in there/go to the liquor store when I think I can’t take it anymore. But, I also don’t do yoga well with goats, so after 15 years, maybe I just don’t really understand the point.

And, maybe, a hot goat in Wim Hof’s ice bath will fly out of my ass.

An update: Today there were a few little ants in the studio where I do yoga. So I was inspired to invent Ant Yoga. It broadened my practice and outlook to barely see them running around the floor, doing, you know, down ant and cat/ant. I’ve already made plans to move to ant country, and buy a studio and an ant far. I am also writing a book. It’s going be huge, baby, huge!

Photo credit: Goat yoga book