Middle of the Night Musings

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It’s 3 a.m. I’m awake. Again.

My mind quivers like a raccoon on Red Bull, forcing me to think about a) Christmas shopping, b) the end of the world, c) my Halloween costume and d) wondering if I should throw Ringo the Dog outside because he’s been licking himself for hours.

I’m also hot. Temperature hot, not hot hot. I stick my foot outside the blankets to let the cool air brush across my toes. Sometimes Ringo will lick my toes if they’re left outside the covers.

I get chilly and wrap myself up in blankets like a middle-aged, insomniac burrito.

I engage meditation techniques. Inhale. Exhale. After eight seconds, my mind wanders to the state of the economy (dire). I wonder how I’ll survive as a homeless person. Will I die of cholera alone on the side of the road?

I’m hot again. I throw the blanket off because my fingernails are sweating. I carefully roll over, hoping not to wake Hubbie.

I start worrying about the diseases l could contract—like that brain-eating amoeba or Polyglandular Addison’s disease that causes instant death from sudden emotional distress. I could have that. I could be dying. Will my grandkids remember me if I die from Mad Cow disease?

Now I’m cold. I pull the covers up to my chin. Should I get a flu shot this year? What if a pandemic wipes out everyone who didn’t get a flu shot? Who will feed Ringo? Who will Tom marry after I’m dead?

I will not look at the clock. I look at the clock. 4:15.

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What was that noise? Could I call 911 before a burglar attacks me? Would he be mad that we don’t have anything worth stealing? What if we have a rat infestation? I pull my foot back into the safety of the covers.

Are my clothes outdated? What will technology be like in 20 years? Will my grandkids have to explain things to me? I need to stop eating sugar. I should start writing a diary. I REALLY need to fix my car’s tire. What if I forget and I my tire blows out on the freeway?

What if I never sleep again? What if I have a paralyzing illness caused by insomnia? What if I’m paralyzed when the zombies attack–and I can’t get away? I jerk awake and realize I’ve drifted into a dream/awake state. I look at the clock. 5:06.

I’m awake. Again.

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Nonviolent Protest: A Primer

On Sunday, two dozen NFL teams demonstrated an act of nonviolent protest– and the country lost its shit.

During the national anthem (you know, that five-minute block of time when you stock up on nachos and beer), NFL players either took a knee on the field or locked arms with teammates to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who has been taking a knee during the anthem to protest how America treats its minorities.

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“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This totally legal, constitutionally recognized form of protest incensed our Commander in Chief so much that he Tweeted out a suggestion that NFL owners fire players who disrespect the anthem. Keep in mind, Mr. Trump has never actually read the Constitution, but ignorance is never an excuse for assholery.

Asking for equal rights is not a crime. The (mostly white) people who objected to this display seemed to forget that sometimes social change only happens when symbolic protests bring an issue to our attention.

NASCAR (pretty much the whitest sport in the U.S.) took a stand against the #TakeAKnee movement. NASCAR owners threatened to fire anyone who participated in the protest.

Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, declared that “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”

But that’s just it. The United States embraces nonviolent protests. Or at least we should.

Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., suffragettes, Henry David Thoreau and the Dalai Lama have all used the technique to gain attention. Even John Lennon peacefully protested the Vietnam War when he and Yoko Ono spent their honeymoon having a “Bed-In” at a hotel in Amsterdam. A Bed-In is definitely a peaceful movement I can get behind.

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(I’m going to nonviolently protest winter by staying in bed until May.)

These actions have nothing to do with disrespecting the flag,  dishonoring our military or cheapening our extremely long, difficult to sing national anthem. You don’t have to agree with the kneelers. You don’t even have to believe in their cause. But you DO have to respect their right to protest.

Top 5 Reasons I Don’t Live in Florida

I took a summer break from writing this blog so I could have a mental breakdown. Now I can check that off my list of things to do and get back to some smart-ass blogging.

As you’re aware, it’s hurricane season, and meteorologists around the country are having orgasms on live TV as they discuss the trajectory of the latest deadly hurricane.

As I watched Floridians escape the last storm, I realized I never even want to visit this horrible state. Here are five reasons why:

Hurricanes (obviously). Floridians are exposed–and not just the nude sunbathers on Miami Beach. Florida is the dangling participle of America, taunting hurricanes and tropical storms with easy access to both its east and west coasts. There’s nowhere to hide from a hurricane in Florida. It’s surrounded by the OCEAN, for God’s sake.

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(The tracks of Florida hurricanes, or the route for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.)

20-foot pythons. Really, any size of python–and not just pythons. Snakes of every variety and poison level slither into houses in Florida looking for the opportunity to eat the residents. Not cool, snakes. At least in Utah, our rattlesnakes give us fair warning before attacking. I don’t want to wake up with a python trying to eat my head.

Sinkholes. Even Florida doesn’t want to be in Florida. Houses, sidewalks, roadways, golf courses–they’re all trying to disappear into the center of the earth to escape the deadly pests in the Sunshine State.

Crocodiles. These reptilian villains have been around for 200 million years (or 4,000 years if you attend a Christian megachurch in Orlando). These carnivores (the crocs, not the Christians) lurk beneath the water, eyeing their victims before going in for the kill. Creepy bastards.

Feral pigs. Not middle-aged men scouring Florida’s clubs for underage girls, but actual wild pigs. I thought wild pigs were something only found in fairy tales and Old Yeller.

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(Me, almost 50 years old, sobbing: He was such a good dog. You stupid pigs!)

Better the devil you know, right? At least in Utah I only have to worry about earthquakes, liquor laws, senior drivers, Sasquatch, BYU fans, tarantulas, the state legislature, elitism and the self-righteous. And the self-righteous don’t try to eat my head.

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Yoga

No one told me once I started practicing yoga, it would destroy my life. I wish someone had mentioned the potential side effects before I took my first class. But it’s done and I can’t reverse the process. It would be like trying to un-melt a s’more.

If you’ve considered starting a yoga practice, it’s only fair I warn you about what you might experience. I hope you’re more prepared than I was.

  1. All the feels. It’s not that I was heartless, but once I took up yoga I became one of those people who get emotional about shit that never bothered me before. Like the planet and bumble bees and dolphins and other people*. Once you feel that connection, you don’t know how to stop it! It can be super annoying.stripmining
  2. You can’t gossip. Again, I wasn’t a horrible human but I could be judgmental, unforgiving and even mean. Now I can’t imagine being hurtful toward another person*. In fact, I avoid drama altogether. So if you enjoy being a mean girl (or guy), yoga will wring that right out of you. Sorry.
  3. You can’t enjoy food.  You’ll begin to notice how soda makes your stomach hurt or how eating five dozen Oreo cookies leaves you lethargic. Pretty soon you’ll start avoiding those foods because you feel so much better when you don’t eat them. Even worse, you’ll eat foods like spinach and grapefruit and almonds and Greek yogurt. See! Yoga sucks.
  4. You don’t give a shit what people think. As a card-carrying, lifetime membership people-pleaser, it was a tough adjustment to realize other peoples’ opinion of me don’t matter. Once I decided to take away their power to humiliate, shame or degrade me, I had to accept the fact that maybe they were wrong. Which leads us to . . .
  5. You connect to yourself. One day you admit you’re not happy. You admit you treat yourself like garbage. You admit that all those years of negative self-talk have screwed you up. When you realize that, you have to do something about it. And that’s super hard. You have to learn how to accept your weaknesses without criticism, but also accept your worthiness without cynicism. Suddenly your default mode can’t be “skeptic” or “sarcastic.” It’s like re-learning how to walk.maxine

So if that list of side effects doesn’t dissuade you from purchasing a yoga mat and walking into a class, you’re on your own. You’ve been warned.

 

*Donald Trump is excluded for now. I’m not that good at yoga.

Top 5 Ways to Fix Healthcare

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Congress is too worried about pissing off big medical, pharmaceutical and insurance companies to fix healthcare. Instead of curing a dying healthcare system, Congress sits on its chest slowly suffocating the life out of any reform.

Maybe our representatives don’t see the populace walking towards them with torches and pitchforks, but we’re coming. If those cut-off-from-reality SOBs don’t pull it together soon, the middle class will implode and heads will roll.

As much as I’d love to see our congressional “leaders” dragged through the streets like a United Airlines passenger, here’s another option: Fix the damn healthcare situation. A few places to start:

  1. Bring down drug costs. Prez Trump is good at issuing ultimatums. Here’s a quote he can use. “Listen up, Pfizer and Bayer and Novartis! You either drop the price of your products or continue to live in greed and luxury!” Wait. I think he’s already used that quote.
  2. Cover holistic practices. Massage, acupuncture and energy healing isn’t just a bunch of malarkey. But after being sick for three years, try to explain to an insurance carrier that holistic practices actually made you well. They look at you like you suggested bringing back polio and dodgeball.
  3. Make medical lobbying illegal. Medical weasels should be banned from Washington, D.C.  Yes, they drive nice cars and smear money around, but they also spread dis-ease and pestilence through their regular use of bribery and ass-kissing.
  4. Cap medical costs. Costs are so out of control, you’d think hospitals were being run by a team of ego-driven chimpanzees. Three of my daughters have been hospitalized in the last year and owe a total of nearly $50,000–AFTER INSURANCE! That isn’t healthcare. That’s pad-our-wallet care.costs
  5. Employers should embrace wellness programs. Including my commute, I spend at least 10 hours a day at my job. If you don’t think sitting on your ass all day makes you unhealthy then you are in denial, my friend. Great employers offer wellness activities DURING business hours. It will make employees happy and lower company insurance costs.

Congress needs to stop protecting the healthcare industry. Everyone knows that enabling someone only makes the situation worse. I don’t think our representatives will like how the voters conduct an intervention.

 

Top 5 PowerPoint Mistakes

Working for a government agency, and just living on planet Earth, I have suffered through  PowerPoint presentations that could be listed as war crimes. Here are some tips on how to use PowerPoint in ways that don’t violate the Geneva Convention.

  1. Don’t go over time. There’s nothing worse than to hear a long-winded speaker say, “I know my time is up, but I have a few more points to address.” Stop it. For God’s sake, stop talking.
  2. Small wording. Unless you’re presenting at the Perfect Vision seminar, don’t use weird or super-small fonts. This only teaches people how to squint, get headaches and hate you.bad-powerpoint

    (The text is too small and it’s about math. That’s what you call a double negative.)

  3. Don’t over-complicate the info. Indecipherable charts, unrelated clip art and graph after graph after graph after graph. These techniques absolutely destroy someone’s will to live. Add in extra-twirly transactions and explosive slide changes, and you might as well be inserting bamboo under the listeners’ fingernails.
  4. Don’t speak low and slow. As your voice ticks like a slow metronome, heavy and hypnotic, you realize your audience is gently snoring, dreaming of a PowerPoint free world.
  5. Don’t read the slides. For the love of all that’s good! Don’t read the damn slides! Even if it’s just bullet points–don’t read verbatim. Everyone in the room can read. Even that coworker you’re convinced is half Hobbit can read.

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(If annihilating your workplace was your goal: Mission accomplished.)

Go forth and make this world a better place.

Kitchen Counterintelligence

Trump adviser and covert-appliance specialist Kellyanne Conway recently warned Americans that the CIA has discovered a way to turn microwaves into cameras with the intent to gather delicious data on the populace.

As an entity, the CIA shit a brick after learning Conway spilled the beans on the entire spying scheme. (I always thought the “A” was for Agency but we now know it’s Central Intelligence Appliances.)

Wikileaks released a billion documents detailing the extent of the scandal, rendering every kitchen in the country a base for sneaky operatives. (Luckily, the window of my microwave is so covered with exploded spaghetti sauce that a complete view of my kitchen is impossible.)

The documents show the CIA has infiltrated other kitchen appliances, starting with the fridge. I was pretty sure the fridge was the leader of the group since it continues to passive aggressively freeze all my produce in the vegetable bins.

All those smart fridges we thought could just order milk were actually documenting how often we stand with the door open waiting for delicious food to magically appear. It also judges our use of leftovers and how many opened cans of chicken broth we have at any given time.

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My dishwasher is too stupid to be an effective spy. It tends to lazily spit on my dishes without actually getting anything clean. Drying is obviously too much of an effort for my dishwasher, so it doesn’t bother. If it’s working for the CIA, it should be reassigned to the scrap heap.

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(Now with a stealthy periscope.)

You know it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are toasters with high-tech listening capabilities, hand mixers that can tell if you’re stressed, and garbage disposals with the ability to analyze all the food you waste. In fact, while we’re laughing about this, I just noticed my blender is slowly moving closer to get a better view.

Thank goodness, Conway is on top of the situation, warning the American public that the CIA is watching us from our ovens and coffee makers. Enjoy your next family dinner.