On the decline of the species

stinkbug_285.jpgNo, not humanity, although I’m sure I’ll write a post with that title about us eventually.  I consider myself at least a nominally environmentally-inclined guy, although I generally let my wife (who actually possesses an advanced degree in environmental science) take the lead on the various green initiatives we participate in around the house.  I like animals.  I even like bugs.  I understand that we need them around and that they need to be protected and that the average living thing is in fact a living thing and generally ought to be allowed to live independent of any human wishes or desires on the matter.

Unless we want to eat them, of course.

That said, the internet has 24 hours to come up with a reason why stink bugs need to exist or I’m going to go full-blown Mad Scientist on their asses and eradicate the entire species.  I generally hear that the reason we can’t get rid of all the mosquitoes is because bats like to eat ’em and bats are awesome.  Well, OK, that doesn’t apply to stink bugs, who don’t really fly and can’t be caught on the wing.  Plus they live in buildings.  So no bats.  They’re probably too big for your average spider.  They aren’t pollinators.  As far as I can tell they exist for no other reason than to suddenly be in my house or place of business walking on something that they ought not to be walking on– like, say, the rim of a cup I like to drink from, or my fucking toothbrush.  And then I can’t even satisfyingly smush them because they are stink bugs.  They are the worst and I hate them and they all need to die.

24 hours and then I figure out how to destroy them all.  If there are no comments I will assume the entire world agrees and will help with the project.

Thank you for your time.

On hills, and the dying thereupon


I watched The Force Awakens with my son for the first time a few weeks ago.  Since then we’ve watched it once or twice more and a curious pattern has arisen: every time, and I mean every God Damned time, Kylo Ren appears on screen, the boy asks who he is.

“Kylo Ren,” I say.

“Oh,” he says, then he waits until his next scene and asks again.  If he wasn’t four I’d be certain he was trolling me.  This has, lately, extended to toys as well; we were in Target the other day and he picked up a Ren figure and asked me who it was.

I generally walk into school with him at Hogwarts and escort him to his classroom; it’s not entirely necessary but he enjoys it and there’s no good reason not to do it.  After he drops off his stuff at his cubby there’s a plastic box he’s supposed to put his lunch and snack into and take with him to the classroom.  The kids have all decorated theirs with stickers, and I think the teachers use cubby-stickers for minor rewards.  He always shows me when he has a new sticker.  And the other day there was a Kylo Ren sticker on his mailbox.

“Look!” he says.  “It’s Skylo Ren!”

Kylo Ren,” I say.

“No,” he says.  “That’s Skylo Ren.”

I swear, you could hear my teeth grinding from the moon for a brief moment.

“It’s Kylo,” I said.  “It’s been Kylo every single time you’ve asked for weeks.  Which one of us can read, again?”

“Mrs. McGonagall says it’s Skylo,” he says, as if that settles the issue.  I think Mrs. McGonagall is the gym teacher, maybe?

“Mrs. McGonagall is wrong,” I say.  “His name is Kylo Ren.  K-Y-L-O.”

“Skylo,” he says.  He’s getting loud and insistent.  I drop it, until the next time I am with him in a store and see a Kylo Ren toy, at which point I force him to spell the name to me and, after doing so, he asks who the toy is.

I give up.

They have been studying birds in class, for what seems like weeks, and the boy has acquired a legitimately impressive store of facts about ornithology.  We are putting him to bed, and I walk into his bedroom as my wife is giving him a hug and he, in his way, is explaining to her that cowbirds put their eggs in the nests of other birds because they are lazy.

My wife is a biologist. I actually see her eyes twitch.

“Who told you that?” she says.

“Mrs. Dumbledore,” he says.  Mrs. Dumbledore is actually his teacher.

“That’s not quite true,” she says.  “It’s actually an evolutionary strategy–”

He interrupts.  “Lazy!”

There is another twitch.

I watch my wife be dragged unwillingly down a road where she actually uses the phrase brood parasitism in a conversation with a four-year-old.  There is a large smile on my face, and eventually the boy wins again.  Okay.  Fine.  Skylo Ren.  Lazy cowbirds.

We give up.

On my activities so far today

Blood-Test-Picture.jpgI got up a bit earlier than usual because I needed to have a blood draw this morning and since it had to be fasting I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.  I have the veins of a heroin addict; generally whenever I need to have blood drawn for any reason it will take multiple nurses and multiple sticks with the needle in various places before it works, regardless of the experience or talent level of the nurses involved.  When I was hospitalized the second time in October I actually lost track of how many people it took before someone successfully got an IV in me; my record at the local phlebotomy joint is six sticks and three nurses.

In between sticks two and three this morning, I passed out.  Second time that has happened, and I don’t recommend it.  The nurses get real bossy when it happens, for starters, hollering about sitting up and keeping your eyes open and uncrossing your feet and breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth and all sorts of it would be inconvenient if you died here sorts of things.  Just let me sleep!  I wanna sleeeeep.  But I did not die, and the third stick– in the back of my hand, where I’m going to start insisting they start— finally actually successfully drew blood.

True fact: I am legally unable to donate blood, due to a false positive hepatitis B test in college.  I do not and have never had hepatitis, but apparently once you have even a false positive they blacklist you.  Which is fine, because given my issues with getting blood out of my veins donating blood is not a method of charity I’m going to be partial to anyway, but it’s nice to have an actual excuse other than “I have no veins, and my arms are made of jelly.”

At any rate, I’m hoping the rest of the day improves.

On adaptation

icy-beardThe human body fascinates me.  It’s cold as hell outside again, right?  Eleven degrees, wind chill of -4.  -4 is, by any remotely reasonable estimation, cold.  Append an “as fuck” as needed.  I just got home from work and cleared yesterday and the day before’s snow off of the driveway and finished re-digging my mailbox back out from the glacier the snowplow deposited in front of it.

I did not bother zipping my coat until I was almost done.  Why?  I wasn’t cold.  We are at the point where if it were to leap up to 30 degrees tomorrow I would be entirely unsurprised were I to see someone wearing shorts outside.  And don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I’m claiming superpowers here– it’s happening to everybody.  Tomorrow morning’s supposed to be crazy cold again, although the predicted temperature has been creeping skyward all morning.  A week ago– and I mean that literally, last week– the news that temps would be below zero between six and seven would have everyone scrambling to predict that we’d be out.  You can see me doing it if you look at last Thursday’s post.  Tomorrow morning?  Everyone’s looking at the exact same temperatures and going “ah, fuck it.”  There is, at this moment, not so much as a single two-hour delay for tomorrow announced.  Last Thursday there were a dozen districts that had already announced delays by now.  I think we figure anyone who hasn’t died from the cold already can probably handle waiting for the buses for a few minutes.  Now all we need are buses that can actually get our kids to school on time; that’s been a huge mess lately.


Complete change of subject: anyone know how to find out if an image is public domain or not?  I know that a lot of stuff NASA puts out is basically free to use for anyone for any reason (IANAL) but what if you can’t confirm where an image comes from?  For example, this rather striking image looks like a lot of planetary nebulae, but I can’t find this specific image anywhere helpful and I wouldn’t be completely surprised to discover it was a Photoshop job.  I’ve done a reverse Google Image Search on it to no real avail, although I probably need to suck it up and just check every use of the image until I find somebody linking it as their work on DeviantArt or something.  But if I don’t find that… I still can’t assume, right?  Argh.

Anyway, here’s the picture I’m referring to: