News from the lab

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Life is so much more interesting with breaking news from the scientific community.

In no other arena is it more clearly demonstrated that the more we know, the more we don’t know.

Each new discovery is greeted with a barrage of new questions and, in this house anyway, we love to play along.

So here are this week’s announcements…

And the questions they inspired…

 

Announcement:

Scientist claim to be about 2 years away from creating a Wooly Mammoth embryo.

What we want to know:

Disregarding the obvious questions of: Is this a good idea? What are their plans for said embryo? And, how many lawyers and politicians will get involved? We are wondering:

1.What is the real reason Wooly Mammoths went extinct? Was it because they were slow? Or because they were delicious?

2. How many humans could be sheltered and clothed by one Mammoth hide?

And, bearing the above in mind:

3. Is it possible that the phrase “it takes a village” originated 10000 years ago as “it takes a Wooly Mammoth”?

 

Announcement:

The discovery of a star system with 3 planets in the potentially life sustaining Goldilocks zone.

What we want to know:  

First, if you haven’t already moved past the question of “is there life?” then you do not watch enough sci-fi. Of course there is. What kind of fun would it be if there wasn’t? Questions from the serious geek are:

1.Who is the advanced species? Us discovering them or them apparently choosing to ignore us?

2.Is anyone truly comfortable with either possibility?

3.What are the probabilities that any of the planets are sustaining Wooly Mammoths?

 

Announcement:

The Large Hadron Collider has proven there are no such things as ghosts.

What we want to know:

1.What?

2.How is it scientists can confidently say and do these things but they still don’t know how gravity works or what makes an airplane fly?

And finally:

3.What does the LHC have to say about Wooly Mammoth populations in the Trappist-1 star system?

 

Inquiring minds are waiting. 

 

 

 

4 non fairytale reasons to be married

 

Once I heard my mother telling Mowgli something my grandmother believed. She thought that the thing a woman ate most while pregnant would be the thing her child liked least throughout life.

To which Mowgli replied:

“Huh. Maybe that’s why I never liked cocaine.”

Perhaps romance is in the eye of the beholder but that afternoon I was certain once more I had chosen the right husband.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day a feast not celebrated in our house for the simple reason that you can’t screw up a holiday you do not observe. So in honor of our commitment to un-mushy love, here are 4 completely un fairytale reasons to be married.  

 

  1. To have one person in your life who may, in a court of law, refuse to rat you out.

(Whether your spouse actually chooses to keep your secrets, however, falls under a much longer blog titled “reasons to be happily married”)

 

2. For a lifelong fall guy.

“I would go to your… (unbearable social event)… but my wife is having hangnail surgery that same day.”

“Sorry about… (the expensive, now broken, item you loaned me)… my husband is a terrible klutz.” 

Spouses are also available for blame when the remote is missing, the car is out of fuel, the dog messes in the house and countless other annoyances.

(Mowgli would like to point out this is actually a great reason to have kids as well…)

 

3. Because nothing teaches diplomacy more so than a long marriage.

Mowgli and I have argued over US Israeli relations for 25 years.

Twenty Five Years, without ever contemplating divorce.    

…Terrorism, sanctions and assassination sure, but never divorce.

 

4. For counsel. You don’t have to make difficult judgments on your own anymore.

As a matter of fact, now that you have a partner to disagree with you, few decisions if any are likely to be made ever again…

 

1jjhar

 

Mowgli, as you read this, know that I love you.

And thank you for still loving me.

 

 

 

The world as a restaurant

 

Here’s a headline we can all get behind:

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Several years ago I went to dinner in Korea with a group of co-workers.

If you know me you know that I believe there is nothing more fun and delicious than Korean barbecue so that dinner, in Korea with people I enjoyed, should have been awesome.

But it wasn’t. That dinner was a KBBQ exception. When the waitress brought out the platter of meat that day, it was drama for dinner.

The coworker to my right (Muslim) couldn’t eat pork but the restaurant (mad cow cautious) wasn’t keen to serve beef. The ensuing discussion prompted the coworker on my left to warn that if cow was procured it better (for the sake of their respective immortal souls) be cooked on a separate grate. Meanwhile across the table three American southerners used the confusion to steal the flustered waitress’ cooking tongs because they’d eaten enough KBBQ to know that no self-respecting Korean would ever let the meat char to the delicious carcinogenic levels said men desired.  

Now if you have ever convinced a Korea restaurant to alter their menu for you for any reason you…

  1. are my hero and,
  2. fully understand what a nightmare that meal was.  

(Actually grown guys playing tong keep-away was pretty amusing so maybe “nightmare” is a bit strong)

Anyway, I’d forgotten all about that dinner until last week when I read these two articles:

From the Irish Independent:

Burnt food may cause cancer

And (I kid you not, less than 24 hours later) from the NY Times

Charring is the new it cuisine 

So if I want to live long I absolutely mustn’t blacken my meals but if I want to live happy I absolutely must. Where does that leave me?

Hungry, that’s where. And maybe that’s been the problem all along. Maybe we’re all just hungry.

The world we live in (like that dinner and those articles) is fraught with people of differing ideas, preferences, beliefs, goals, sports loyalty, beverage addiction… Demand that it all mold into one unified path towards the future and you risk ending up (like me at that dinner and after reading those articles) – hungry.

(or on a diet of boiled chicken and I ask you, when has boiled chicken ever make anyone truly happy??)

What is the answer? I don’t know and I’m not suggesting we stop looking. I just think in the mean time, maybe we should all have a sandwich.

Yeah peace and sandwiches*… maybe some of that wine…it couldn’t hurt. 

I’ll set the table.

 

*lest my blatantly western sandwich offer offend, feel free to eat instead a panini, gyro, banh mi, kebab, arepa, bacadillo, taco, piroshki, vada pav, chivito…just stay away from the blood of your enemies. That would probably not be productive. 

 

 

Toddler-escence

 

When my kids were little HALT (the “are you Hungry Angry Lonely Tired?” behavior tool) was all the rage in progressive parenting. An effective method for identifying when an unmet core need is triggering undesirable conduct, HALT (funny enough) was originally designed to keep addicts from relapsing. (Which probably isn’t funny at all and should definitely tell you something about what it is like living with toddlers)

Anyway, it was so effective for the tremulous 2s and 3s that lately I’ve begun to wonder if it might be useful for life’s other arduous growing period; adolescence.

Specifically, (because this is my circus at the moment) with adolescent boys.   

After a few months of careful research, here’s what I’ve discovered:

Tired.

Well, tired really isn’t an issue any more because they sleep. They sleep, and sleep and sleep and sleep…They sleep so much I check for signs of life, A LOT. In adolescence it seems the only time tired leads to unsavory behavior is when something disrupts the teens sleep autonomy. Things like school, family functions, emergencies, Christmas (true story there), events that happen on a schedule that your average day sleeper isn’t likely to conform to. And honestly, outside of emergencies perhaps, these things are avoidable.

Stand-napping master 2016.

Lonely.

Yep lonely is still a thing and now that we (parents) are often the enemy tackling this problem is tricky (especially if your teen can’t be bothered to wake up and attend functions involving other similarly minded individuals) But all is not lost for there is the internet.

God save us if that fails.

Hungry and Angry (Together here because hungry and angry have fused).

Yes the once independent disturbances now simultaneously fuel each other in a state commonly referred to as “hangry”.

Remember the adage about the way to a man’s heart? Well it’s true. It’s through his stomach. Coincidentally this is also the way to his reason, sanity and composure. Forget about scorned women, hell hath no fury like a man unfed. And there is no time when that is more clear than in adolescence.

Don’t believe me? Find a teen boy, pick a fight with him then a second before it blows into world war 3, hand him a pizza.

*poof* crisis averted. 

With a house full of mini men in ever expanding bodies, Mowgli and I now fight a daily battle against the hangry. Everything has changed. Even the way we greet them.

Before adolescence:

Hello! How are you?

Now:

Hi! Here’s a sandwich!

He-llo, we learned the hard way, left them without the promise of food one syllable too long. It won’t surprise me if next month we cull further to:

Sandwich!

What?  Doesn’t seem a reasonable salutation to you? Then I ask you to imaging a land where in lieu of polite verbosity passersby simply yell Wine! and thrust a glass in your hand.  

I would quite like that I think. 

 

Well its back to the trenches for me, but before I go, here’s something I spotted in a questionable (possibly nonexistent) dictionary recently:

 Armageddon (n) the state of affairs when the internet fails before lunch is consumed.    

Hope all is well.

 

 

 

 

 

The fall guy

 

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Saying goodbye with tiny chocolate cups

You can relax now, it’s over. As the world breathes a collective sigh of relief 2016 exits the stage forever with a sticky note slapped to its back:

2016: Worst year ever

Worst, really? Worse than 1347 (bubonic plague), 1918 (war, influenza epidemic), 1943 (war, holocaust)?

2016 may have been challenging but come on. It wasn’t that bad. In fact on a lot of fronts 2016 was a pretty likable year.

How likable you ask?

Well let me fill my glass half full and count you the ways…

In 2016:

Pandas, manatees, humpback whales and green sea turtles were all taken off the endangered species list.

Tiger numbers rose for the first time in forever.

The Colombian government and FARC signed a peace agreement.

Scientists (doing the best Harry Potter impersonation EVER) turned CO2 into STONE.

And don’t forget, Elon Musk exists.

But that’s not all…

Child mortality rates fell again.

We now have treatments for and are closer than ever to finding cures to HIV, Alzheimer’s, and Ebola.

And Coffee, now shown to effectively fight cancer and suicide, was finally awarded a place in the “Good Foods Wronged” club.

(On the red carpet that night: Red wine with her charming date Steak followed by the Egg, looking fabulous in a flowing gown of polyunsaturated fat).

Wait, it gets better…

The Cleveland Browns WON a game!

Nimo found Dory who found her parents and they all lived happily ever after!

(oops. Spoiler alert)

Leicester city won the EPL!

Leo Decaprio won an Oscar!

(Yeah I googled those last too. Just wanted to sound well rounded)

 

Still not happy? Then clearly last year you missed…

EVERY SINGLE JOE BIDEN MEME. (Not kidding. I don’t care who you are, those are funny) 

Nothing?

Maybe it’s the simple things. Maybe you didn’t catch your son washing his feet in the bidet and ergo missed the privileged of experiencing this conversation…

Me: You know that’s not actually for feet… (explains..)

Son: Huh. A butt washer? That’s weird.

Me: Actually we don’t call it that. We use the French word, bidet. It doesn’t sound as gross as “butt washer”

Son: (unconvinced): Yeah right. Unless you’re French.

Now if that didn’t bring a smile to your face, remember this:

2017 is going to be AWESOME.

For a while anyway.

Happy New Year!

 

Life in rhyme

Natal. The story of Jesus, born in...fire?
Natal. The story of Jesus, born in…fire?

Time for another round of ridiculous holiday rhyming…

 

On the fifth day of Christmas statistics let it slip

That the internet and myself are joined at the hip.

According to an end of year statement from FaceBook, I spend entirely too much time in cyber reality. The numbers were so shocking I vowed to limit my social media dabbling to something reasonable.

Then I spent the next 36 hours redefining “reasonable”.

Today, I’m resigned to being an addict. Why? Well because #lifeisabout #attainablegoals

(and #hashtaggingisnormal)

 

On the sixth day of Christmas the butcher I did greet,

With a fresh collection of beefy words I hoped would get us meat.

My attempts to learn how to say “pot roast” in Portuguese have so far taught me it’s not “rosbife” (that’s a T bone) nor is it “assada” (even though the language book says it is) or “Vaca grande” (though with hand gestures this will suffice). I’ve asked the butcher but, being a good solid meat man, he won’t give me just one word, he gives me a collection. “You can say this, or this or sometimes this…” to the point I leave in a blur of words I won’t retain.

But I’m not giving up.

I feel like Edison “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

 

On the seventh day of Christmas my heart was filled with glee

When the neighborhood erupted in an explosive lighting spree.

In Portugal hunting season blends seamlessly into firework season and so these days ordinance is heard from dawn to dusk around our house.

As Alaskans, we think this is awesome. The booms, that tangy metallic grey cloud, they are like an old favorite blanket. Under it we sit snug, sipping coffee (or glass of wine depending on the time of day) soaking it all in.

Happy holidays indeed.

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On the eighth day of Christmas to work our minds did go.

To plan for us, the next few months. And we did wouldn’t you know!

Then,

On the ninth day of Christmas, settled in what we’d do,

That is right you guessed correct, all our plans fell through!

We had a city, we’d picked a house, we’d made a security deposit, all for naught. In what has been the weirdest airbnb experience for us to date the owner realized he actually couldn’t let the house. So here we are again, a few weeks from needing to make a major life decision with no clue what to do.

At least now we have a few more days to work it out. Our landlady (happy to have us stay longer) extended our lease. Very nice of her, but in truth, not exactly the kick in the behind we probably need.

 

December?
Neither was this. December 2016. 

The fireworks, the wine, the sun, the elusive pot roast… How can we leave?

 

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday next week!  

 

Missing in action

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Spotted in Central Portugal. Has nothing to do with this post. Is simply awesome on it’s own.

Wow that went fast. Wasn’t it October like yesterday? Sorry, things got busy in a way that (evidently) affected my ability to post.

Usually when a blogger goes off grid it’s because some intense life changing (empathy accruing) experience befell them and they make up for their absence with a gripping return story.

Unfortunately (fortunately?) this is not the case for me. (Close the flood gates!) No, it’s been mostly boring tediousness of existence that’s overwhelmed me.

But since that does not make for much good reading, here are (some of) my November episodes in (marginally entertaining) rhyme (sort of):   

On the first day of Christmas to me my true love sent

A VAT charge of twenty three percent!

I had to pay 89 Euros to pick up a package of multi vitamins from my mother. WOW. To think of all those years I complained about Washington’s 8% sales tax. Europe – you win!

I almost let it put a cramp in my holiday mood, but then I decided to not. Happiness is a choice.

(And I will be very happy when you all choose to NOT send us anything this Christmas. TIA)

On the second day of Christmas my head said to my heart

“I no longer understand you, I think it’s time we part.”

We have exactly 27 days left in the house we are renting and absolutely no idea what we are doing after that. Public service announcement to anyone under 30: Age has zero effect on your life choice making ability. You still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, you still vacillate at every cross road. Honestly the only thing that gets easier is that, after all these years, you know the drill. As a result you freak out less.

(Keep at it long enough and using dice as your life coach will not seem wildly reckless at all, I promise.)  

On the third day of Christmas arrived a dear old friend

And I made her drive Portugal – from end to nearly end.

It was a great trip, really, but looking back I wonder where was my head? We very nearly drove the entire length of the country in about 5 days. This friend knew me back in Alaska though, so had already been exposed to my brand of insanity. She knew what she was in for. I think.  

We’re still friends.

I think.

The North, South, and middle (seriously).

On the fourth day of Christmas I stole a pair of socks.

Well, not exactly. It’s kind of a funny story just not funny enough for a whole blog (or a rhyme). Seriously though, who puts a security tag on a 3 euro package of socks??    

Next time I’ll be ready.

The way I see it, I have 8 more days of Christmas adventure waiting.

I’ll be fine.

Hope all is well with everyone this holiday season!

It’s a good day to dry

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Laundry is my nemesis. Believe me I wish it weren’t but the truth is there is nothing on earth I spend more time and effort battling.

My struggle began early. Growing up in a large family laundry wasn’t a chore it was an entity. That was not a pile of dirty clothes on the floor it was our communal bastard child. Pay him a moderate amount of attention and he stayed quietly in his room. Do not and welcome mayhem. Stink Jr. controlled our house, rubbing his sweaty existence in everyone’s face.

Laundry is not to be ignored.

And, for me, it isn’t. I think about it more than my children. This does not mean, however, that I want to do it. Does anyone? No, we just want it done.

Or better yet – gone and no one, I think, wants this more than me.

I think clothes should be disposable. Tell me you disagree. You have no idea how many times I’ve wished humans had body hair as thick and concealing as the rest of the animals (and that it was fashionable) so that we could get away with wearing less. I will not disclose the number of days I will reuse the same towel but I promise, if I did, you would be shocked. I have spent a great deal of my adult life believing that if you bathe at night, you can sleep in the same pajamas on the same set of sheets – indefinitely.

I will spend a small fortune in electricity if it means less time spent generating clean clothes.

Truth. When a conversation turns to green, unplugging the world and living in zero waste harmony with nature I smile and nod, but inside I am screaming:  

“FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WHAT ABOUT THE LAUNDRY?!”

Yes, I want to save the rain forest and oceans and leave a healthy planet legacy for my children,

As long as I can use paper towels and a clothes dryer.

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“I never thought I’d be a woman who talked about the wash.” A friend lamented once. Yeah well I never thought I’d be a woman who plotted against laundry like it was Al Quaeda.  

Yet here I am.

 

Sausage fest.

a few minutes here and a lot doesn't matter anymore
a few minutes here and a lot doesn’t matter anymore

 

Someone needs to tell the butcher that I really don’t speak that much Portuguese.

I’m certainly not going to do it. It’s doing too much good for my ego. Never mind that my fluency extends little further than identifying a few local sausages.

Evidently my pronunciation is quite good.

“Chourico?”

“Sim.”

“e Alheria?”

“Sim”

Then, pointing…

“e que…?”  

“Farinha.”

And the flood gates open. A steady stream of beautiful Portuguese rolls over me. And I mean “over”. Somewhere in the middle I think he mentions the beef is raised locally and I take a risk. With wide impressed eyes I reply,

“Aqui?”

“Sim…”

And on he goes

Yes, someone should talk to the butcher.

And the neighbor…

the fish monger…

every taxi driver in town…

Not the cheese lady though. Nope she was on to me in a second.

“Do you want to speak English?” she offered before I got one sentence out.

I almost cried.

“No, I want to speak Portuguese, I’m just very bad at it.” I told her.

It wasn’t until later that I realized my declaration might have carried more weight had I made it in Portuguese

No matter, she helped me out anyway by peppering our conversation with as much Portuguese as she suspected I could handle. Which was awfully big of her. I mean, it’s not her job to help annoying foreigners communicate.

And maybe that’s the point she was trying to get across. Maybe using English over her native tongue was her way of saying,

“You know, it’s nice that you want to learn my language, but I’m really just here to sell cheese.”

But how would I know?

Maybe I’ll ask the butcher…

 

Portugal so far…

why do I feel like this should be an album cover?
where have theses been all my life?
where have theses been all my life?

Best of Ireland

 

It’s been a long week. I’m wrecked and there’s still more to do so if you don’t mind I’d like to take a quiet moment for thoughts of Ireland…

If you don’t mind…I promise to bring you with me…

 

Irish bests that you may not have heard of before:

Get in my belly! And bring your friends.
Get in my belly! And bring your friends.

Best kept secret:

The CHEESE. OMG. It’s not fair to even try to describe the heaven produced here. Yum? Oooo, ahhh? Yeah, lacks a bit. What’s more this perfection is not restricted to just the milk of the bovine. The things the Irish do to goat and sheep milk is so delightful I do believe that if they started milking their horses for cheese, I wouldn’t hesitate to try some.

Not. Kidding.

The only question: Why is this a secret??

 

Best pint:   

Galway Hooker. Sorry Guinness, though I never was a huge fan of beer’s dark side, so take that as you may. It’s also possible my love of Galway city has me biased. After all there are a lot of great beers being crafted in (other less wonderful cities in) Ireland today.

But where else in the world can you have “a couple hookers” sent to your table without getting into trouble?

Yes, best beer all around.

The only question: why isn’t it sold all around??

 

Best asset:

Her people. Lovely, caring, and kind. This isn’t news, right? I’m pretty sure every advertisement for Ireland ever made mentions this.  

The only question: has every advertisement for Ireland ever made done them justice?

In my opinion, no. Not by a long shot.

And maybe that’s why they keep mentioning it. Because saying it once isn’t enough.

 

 

Eventually, everything is funny