Learning! Roundup: Tectonic plates, adaptation, mindful detentions, and psychic research

Image Source: NASA
Planet Earth Has a Tectonic Buddy

At least, we aren't the only planet to be tectonically active in our solar system! It looks like Mercury is cooling, shrinking, and forming tectonic plates, just like Earth.

The Adaptive Brain

Our brains are super adaptive, which is part of why we are still alive. This isn't always a sign of brilliance, though. There is a classic experiment wherein a person's brain is easily tricked into thinking that a fake hand is their own hand. The results are kind of hilarious. (That's my best attempt at clickbait.)

Mindful Detention?

A school in the States has begun offering meditation to students who are misbehaving, instead of detention. As a part of an overall holistic living program for the students, they meditate, do yoga, and engage directly with nature. The result? Better attendance and less suspensions. It's not a proper experiment, so we can't say for sure that it's the meditation that's doing it, but it's pretty darn cool to see kids getting on board at Meditation Station.

Psychics versus Psychotics

Recently a team of psychologists at Yale University talked to a group of psychics (although they insist on calling them "psychics", with the scare quotes) and people who claim to hear voices, to better understand those diagnosed with psychosis.

They found that the experience of hearing the voices was very similar across those with and without diagnoses of psychosis, but people in the psychic camp reported the voices to be positive or helpful and controllable.

Here's an interesting quote from the article: "Researchers say the approach may be unusual, but is justified by lack of progress in treating illnesses like schizophrenia." This, and the insistence of using scare quotes around "psychic", reveals the great scientific snobbery towards anything deemed supernatural. Despite the fact that it is an incredibly reasonable and sound investigative practice to talk to people who hear voices when trying to understand people who hear voices, they had to justify it due to their lack of progress treating schizophrenia in any other way.

A Cure for the Common Cold

Researchers may have created a vaccine that will actually prevent the common cold. The problem, of course, with preventing rhinovirus (the cold) is its diversity. They could immunize against one strain, but there were too many others. In the past, they were held up by this issue. In a recent study, however, they simply combined 50 different types of rhinovirus into one vaccine. Lo and behold, the rhesus macaque they tested produced all 50 antibodies in response.

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The After: Now we live together and boy was it educational

Okay, I've already talked about the before and the during of moving in with my fellah. Now we've been co-habitating for almost two months (although we don't really count August because it was so chaotic). Time for the after.

After moving in with my boyfriend, I learned a whole lot. Including the best display of fossils.
I now have shelves of fossils on my walls.

There are a lot of things about moving in with a partner that you know in advance, but that you don't really know until you do it.

For example, I knew going into this that we had different ways of keeping things clean and different needs for quiet and personal space and different schedules. I knew that he was moving into my apartment, and so I had to be careful to make sure it felt like his space, too. I knew that I would have to be flexible and understanding and let things go and open up my life more than I ever have to someone. I knew all of this.

Then he moved in, and it turned out I didn't really know any of it. Because doing things is different than thinking about them in advance.

Learn from my mistakes:

If you are going to compromise in such a way that both of you are miserable, then don't. Let one person get their way. The other can disagree, even emphatically, but then they still commit to the plan. There is no point in two people being miserable, and if one person is actually happy, they might be able to do nice things for the other and lessen their misery a bit.

Expectations are so so evil. I realized later in the game that even though I thought everything through in advance, I still subconsciously expected him to move into my home and conform to my way of living. In my pictures of us living together, my schedules, routines, and standards were all gloriously unchanged, with the simple addition of another person. WRONG. After a couple of weeks of me trying to wrestle him into drinking more water, washing dishes at the "right" time, and eating breakfast with me, I finally learned to start letting go of the way I imagined it could be between us and let it be what it actually is, which is also pretty great.

Also, I remembered that if the bathroom counter has some hair on it, nobody will die. (Will they?)

Systematize! At least when it comes to housework, systems of responsibility automatically increased our bliss quotient. The more you have to think about doing something, the more it feels like work and the more it can be neglected or fought over. In a system, you've already decided and now you just have to execute.

Our main system is to alternate responsibility over the trash/recycling and the dishwasher - this month he's in charge of the dishwasher and I'm in charge of the garbage and recycling, next month we'll switch. This way when stuff gets left out, neither of us need to feel like we are being left to clean up after the other - we'll each do our jobs when we are able. Done. We also try to do other cleaning together, so that neither of us feel like we're doing "all the work."

You are a part of the problem. You know how your partner is messing everything up and it's all their fault and you're an innocent victim to their bad habits or inconsiderateness? This is actually a huge lie. I KNOW, right?!??

Turns out that a part of living with a partner is learning all the things that are wrong with you as a person, which is the kind of self-awareness nobody signed up for. I swear, before he moved in I was always a reasonable butterfly of perfection. Now, apparently, I can be kind of uptight and set in my ways and a little demanding? And I need to deal with these tendencies? What???

Be honest. Overall, The Man and I communicate really well, but we didn't really turn things around until we both admitted to each other that things were going really badly. Once we said that out loud, we were able to stop pretending things were okay and talk about the problems. Turns out you can't really address problems if you don't talk about them.

Sharing a home does NOT give them mind-reading powers. One of the things that was bugging me at first was that I felt like I was constantly doing things to take care of him, and that he wasn't doing the same for me. Then, one evening, he got home and I was already lying on the couch. I was tired and had a headache and was stressed. I told him so, and he proceeded to make dinner, bring me water and ibuprofen, and generally care for me. Suddenly a little light went on in my little head: oh freaking right, he can't take care of me if I don't let him know I need taking care of. Duh.

Living together. It's a thing. It's hard. Here are some lessons. Learn from my mistakes.
This has nothing to do with anything, and probably reinforces gender
stereotypes I don't like, but it's also funny.

The lessons are obvious. Whether or not you are in a relationship, you are probably reading this and thinking, "OBVI! What is this, Intro to Relationships?" So I guess the biggest thing I learned is that you can know everything about relationships (none of this was a surprise to me, either) and then not know it at all when you are actually living it.

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Me and Ryan Gosling meeting the PRINCE!

Last weekend, Will and Kate (you know who I'm talking about... right?) were in Vancouver! I am a dorky royal-lover and so naturally I roped a couple of friends into waiting in line for a few hours so that I could shake hands with a person who was born into wealth, luxury, and power for no good reason except a rather violent family history. Ryan was in town, and like a good little Canadian boy, he gets pretty excited about the royal family, too.

The best part? Everyone was so excited about Will and Kate, no one even NOTICED that my Ry Ry is also famous! He experienced life as the rest of us plebes do, if only for a few hours. Now if only he could smile nice for the camera. (SIGH.)

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Inspiration! Roundup: another message for Trump, what are you doing and why, actual ladies, bookish dreams, and more

This week's "I Want to Go to There": all the books.

Another Message for Trump

I realize it's a bit futile to post videos trying to send anti-hate messages to Trump and his supporters. I also wonder if we fan the flame every time we say his name (although ignoring him didn't work, either). Regardless, I find Dr. Suzanne Barakat's words beautiful and inspiring.

What are you doing?

My friend Becky posted this on her Facebook page over the weekend:

"What are you doing?
What are you going to do now?
Repeat ad nauseam."

I'm pretty sure she was quoting her toddler-child who is constantly asking her what she's doing and why and it's crrrrrazy, but I actually thought it was a super valuable question for me to ask myself. Ad nauseam.

She's an actual lady

Guys! This H&M ad makes me so happy! It turns that stupid "She's a Lady" song on its head AND features an actual variety of women in a positive light. Honestly, I'm tearing up a bit. But that's because I'm the biggest sap.

Keep learning

"What are you going to learn next?"
-Seth Godin

This was from a broader Seth Godin post about skills versus talent (the take home message being one of my favourite points: that most things can be learned, and while talent might make it easier to learn, it doesn't mean you can't learn it), but the quote is awesome out of context, too.

Let's make a pact, right here, right now, to always ask ourselves what we'd like to learn next.

Bookish Dreams

Love this art:

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Question of the Day: Regarding cats and scheduling

Sometimes I wonder how much quicker I would get ready in the morning if I didn't have a cat who I constantly want to snuggle.

I mean, this is half my morning:

How much time do we spend petting our cats when we should be out?

How much time do we spend petting our cats when we should be out?

How much time do we spend petting our cats when we should be out?

Can't you just hear the glorious purring?

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Singalong! Miles From Nowhere by Cat Stevens

Guys. I just really like this song today.

by Cat Stevens

Miles from nowhere
I guess I'll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

Look up at the mountain
I have to climb
Oh yeah, to reach there.

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won't need it when I reach the end

Miles from nowhere
I guess I'll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

I creep through the valleys
And I grope through the woods
'Cause I know when I find it my honey
It's gonna make me feel good, yes

I love everything
So don't it make you feel sad
'Cause I'll drink to you, my baby
I'll think to that, I'll think to that.

Miles from nowhere
Not a soul in sight
Oh yeah, but it's alright

I have my freedom
I can make my own rules
Oh yes, the ones that I choose

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won't need it when I reach the end

I love everything
So don't it make you feel sad
'Cause I'll drink to you, my baby
I'll think to that, I'll think to that.
Oh yeah

Miles from nowhere
Guess I'll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there.

Let's singalong with Cat Stevens and Miles from Nowhere
Photo by Chris Barnes

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This is my little refuge today: Pottermore has a Patronus test (and it's WONDERFUL!) and I took it and felt an instant kinship with my Patronus, the Nebelung Cat:

Excuse me while I spend the rest of my life frolicking in the woods with my magical cat patrons.

Facts about the Nebelung Cat:

It is known as the "creature of the mist".

It likes jumping up to high spots to study the people moving around below.

It is incredibly loyal to its beloveds.

IT WILL RIDE ON THE SHOULDERS OF ITS HUMAN FRIENDS!!! (All I've ever wanted in the whole wide world is a cat to sit on my shoulder.)

It is known for being affectionate, playful, and smart.

It is known for shedding a lot.

It is my Patronus and it is the perfect representation of my heart. (She says, with total humility.)

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Learning! Roundup: Addiction, cat talk, Bill Nye, and more!

Learning! Roundup: addiction, cat talk, Bill Nye, and more race education

Your Cat IS Talking To You

EEP! I love this! Cats are actually talking to us when they meow at us! Well, sort of. Turns out that they don't vocalize much when they communicate with each other, using subtle body language instead. Unfortunately, just like our complete ineptitude with hunting, our cats can also tell that we fail miserably at picking up on their body language. They also notice that we talk to each other. So what to d they do? They chatter at us!

This is What Addiction Feels Like

A short and beautiful video about the impact of addiction on a person.

Learning with Franchesca "Chescaleigh" Ramsey

If you have any questions about race-related issues, chances are that Franchesca "Chescaleigh" Ramsey has made a video about it. She goes into the actual history of things like the concept of "caucasian", terms like "white cracker", the concept of "sounding white", and more. She is smart AND accessible in how she explains the background and current impact of all these things. It's pretty awesome.

Touchscreen Aren't All Bad for Babies

Okay, maybe they're not great for babies, but new research shows that toddlers who use touchscreens have improved fine motor skills. Parents! Now you can feel a tiny bit less guilty for letting your little one play on your iPad!

Bill Nye is BACK!

GUYS! Bill Nye is doing a new science show! I am so freaking EXCITED! He's doing a series with Netflix (who the freak else) to further his goal of "changing the world by getting everyone excited about science."

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Me & Ryan Gosling at a Birthday High Tea

My friend Natalie and I have birthdays that are close together, and so we go for a birthday date as our birthday presents to each other. This year we did high tea, and Ryan stopped by for a quick birthday surprise. Don't worry, Ry Ry knows the value of time with friends and didn't stick around for the whole thing, but he did arrange for them to bring us special birthday treats!

(And just in case you're thinking that he is grabbing my boob in this picture, rest assured, Ryan is a gentleman. He is shielding the candle on my tray from the draft in the room.)

Ryan Gosling sitting with me when he surprised me at my birthday high tea. This is obviously totally real.

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Inspiration! Roundup: Speedy people, women in the Whitehouse, subway doodles, and drug store vagina zones

This Week's I Want to Go to There: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Photo Credit: The Conmunity Pop Culture Geek

The Fastest People in the World

The Paralympics just finished, and I bet you didn't know that four paralympians ran the 1500m faster than any "able bodied" athlete. Guys! World records are being smashed by people that are largely assumed to be less capable! Maybe we need to adjust some of these expectations? Finally, right?

Women in the Whitehouse

Because even the best of us can fall to systemic biases, even America's coolest, most egalitarian president, the female staffers at the White House came up with a genius strategy for making sure they didn't get overshadowed: amplification. It's sort of like the human megaphone idea. Whenever one of them said a key idea in a meeting or otherwise, the others would repeat it and give credit to its original author. That way the common occurrence of men (consciously or not) taking/getting credit for a woman's idea was not possible. By Obama's second term, his top aids were evenly split by gender and department heads. High fives, ladies!

Subway Doodles

Artist Ben Rubin is making subway commutes a little more magical. He takes pictures of people in transit, and then adds cute and fantastical creatures into the images. Imagine, guys, what could be accompanying us as we journey through the world!

Drug Store Epiphanies

This may be the best text exchange between a mother and daughter I have seen yet. A daughter couldn't find the tampons in a drug store, and then proceeded to learn just how much the world is terrified of our lady flows. She even made a diagram for it, identifying the vagina zone of the drug store.

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Hunger Games: A very important question

I recently re-watched The Hunger Games movie. What I really wanted to watch was Harry Potter, but the Harry Potter movies are apparently no longer on Netflix, and I literally only JUST remembered that I OWN several of the DVDs. So, basically, I'm a fool.

That's okay. I insisted against all nay sayers (lone soldier that I am) that The Hunger Games was a good movie when it first came out, and I maintain my position.

A few things I am reminded of watching The Hunger Games:

I will never not cry when Katniss volunteers as tribute. I just had to hold back the tears writing that sentence.

Same goes with Rue's death. Oh man.

I will never not be on Team Peeta. He is a good man! He is supportive! He is strong of heart and of body! He is totally cute! And you know what, guys? I'm a tall girl and if I had to listen to people telling me my whole life that I was superficial for hoping to find a boyfriend who was taller than me, then we can bloody well have a heroine who's love interest is on the shorter side, too, okay?

In many ways, Peeta could have been the hero of the Games. He went into it wanting to be different, wanting to show the Capital that he is better than this and won't just bend to their terrible will. Then, of course, he winds up getting injured and painting himself into a rock, whereas Katniss, who just wants to survive, winds up making his point both by legitimately mourning Rue as well as dismantling the end of the games.

A big sigh over racial representation in the movie. As far as I noticed, the only black people are from Rue's District and I don't know that there are any Asian or Latinx people. (Granted, this observation is mostly in retrospect.)

Katniss' straightforwardness and difficulty being likeable is rather likeable, and I can't decide if this is a problem or not.

Finally, one question has always plagued me, from reading the books on through the movies and even working on a parody musical last year:  how does a person who lives in the Capital, but is opposed to its activities (both the slavery of the Districts and the Games), be an actual good citizen/person?

There are those, like Cinna and Plutarch, who fight from the inside, working for an underground movement intent to change the system. They devote their lives to changing things and make incredible sacrifices.

What about the people who have normal jobs and maybe families? Who maybe don't even know that there is an underground movement? Or who know about it, but are not ready to devote their entire lives to this one thing? Who don't know how to have a life and burn the system to the ground, should they even be quite prepared to go that far?

What can they do?

They can refuse to watch the Games. They can speak of the Tributes as if they are humans, not sport. They can avoid the incredible consumerism at the core of Capital life that drives District slavery. They can work to be generally kind and generous and hope that, should they encounter an extraordinary opportunity to do the right thing (perhaps by protecting a District person from punishment), they would take it.

Is that enough?

In order to be "good" in the world of The Hunger Games, does someone have to give up their life to change the system? Does their luck of being born into the relative comfort of the Capital actually put a huge responsibility on their shoulders? This is, perhaps, only fair, considering that the system sucks the lives out of thousands of people who don't have the same choice.

The answer to this question is not insignificant.

Thanks to the obvious parallel of the relationship between the Capital and the Districts to the relationship between "Developed' and "Developing" nations, as well as the relationship between pretty much any person of privilege to the rest of the world, the answer to this question should have an equally parallel answer on our side of the equation.

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Singalong! How's It Gonna Be by Third Eye Blind

Okay, so this is no Semi-Charmed Life, but How's It Gonna Be is a pretty perfect encapsulation of nineties melancholy, don't you think? Oh boy, feel those low-grade negative emotions swirl around in your gut like a confusing, sometimes angry, stew.

by Third Eye Blind

I'm only pretty sure that I can't take anymore
Before you take a swing
I wonder what are we fighting for
When I say out loud
I want to get out of this
I wonder is there anything
I'm going to miss

I wonder how it's going to be
When you don't know me
How's it going to be
When you're sure I'm not there
How's it going to be
When there's no one there to talk to
Between you and me
Cause I don't care
How's it going to be, How's it going to be

Where we used to laugh
There's a shouting match
Sharp as a thumbnail scratch
A silence I can't ignore
Like the hammock by the
Doorway we spent time in, swings empty
Don't see lightning like last fall
When it was always about to hit me

I wonder how's it going to be
When it goes down
How's it going to be
When you're not around
How's it going to be
When you found out there was nothing
Between you and me
Cause I don't care

How's it going to be
And how's it going to be
When you don't know me anymore
And how's it going to be

Want to get myself back in again
The soft dive of oblivion
I want to taste the salt of your skin
The soft dive of oblivion oblivion
How's it going to be
When you don't know me anymore
How's it going to be, How's it going to be
How's it going to be

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Learning! Roundup: Aging, fundraising, dancing, and convincing someone they're wrong

Yes, we're getting older every second of every day 

Of all the things that seem inevitable in life, aging sure is one of them. I mean, as much as we idolize youth and seem to dread old age, we also want to live a long time, which means we all secretly want to get old.

Of course, aging would seem a lot better without the aches, pains, and cognitive breakdown that seems to be part of the package deal. Well, according to Dr. Deborah Serani, these symptoms of aging can actually be symptoms of depression in the elderly, which is entirely treatable.

Paying fundraisers makes them less effective

We all know the dreaded clipboard people: the predators who stand on street corners wearing giant vests, holding clipboards, and using all sorts of social maneuvers to trap you into talking to them and guilt you into signing up for monthly donations to their charity.

Well, apparently they would do a better job if they were working for free! New research shows that fundraisers who are being paid are not as effective. It turns out that people aren't as good at communicating their genuine concern for a cause when they are being offered incentives, even when they already cared about the cause. Receiving payment seems to create a internal conflict between self interest and altruism, and the rest of us pick up on those subtle cues well enough that we don't donate as much money.

Dance makes you a better person

Yet ANOTHER benefit of dancing! This time, research has shown that dancing helps you be a better human being by being more sensitive to displays of emotion in others.

To convince someone they are wrong, tell them they're right

Here's a bit of research that falls both into the "duh" and "but no one does this so it can't be that obvious" categories: if you want to show someone that they are wrong, you will be more successful by first taking their point of view and seeing where they are getting it right. Turns out, people are way more receptive to negative feedback when they feel their point of view is validated and understood! Funny, that.

Seems obvious, but then we all seem to think that some combination of yelling and telling people they are fat will convince them they are wrong, so I guess we need to keep working at it.

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Me and Ryan Gosling finding our zen on the beach

Recently Ryan and I went camping on Vancouver Island. It was so beautiful that I instantly found my zen. Ry Ry, on the other hand, wasn't so sure where his was located.

Ryan Gosling and I at Mussel Beach, trying to find our zen. I found mine quickly, but Ry Ry had some trouble finding his.

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Inspiration! Roundup: DIY leg prostheses, Black Girls Who Blog, and Nicole Gustafsson's magic

This Week's "I Want To Go To There": Dancing!

Lego Prosthesis

This guy is waiting for his prosthetic leg and, in the meantime, made himself one out of Lego. I mean, come on! What could be better?

Mondays, amiright?

Seeing as today is Wednesday, perhaps I should be saying "Hump Days, amiright?" instead. Either way, this picture kind of sums up a lot of my feelings of late. I don't want to wallow in my "hide from the world" feelings too much, but don't you also get a sweet feeling of relief when you see an image that perfectly sums up your feelings? Now let's all go hide... Or, okay, no. Let's not hide. Let's face life and enjoy it because there is a lot of good out there.

Black Girls Who Blog

Thanks, Man Repeller, for introducing me to Black Girls Who Blog! This is a brand and Instagram force that came from then-blogger Morgan Pitts who tweeted that she wished she had a shirt with #blackgirlswhoblog on it. There are a ton of amazing blogs to follow on there, especially if you're into the fashion and beauty blogosphere.

Nicole Gustafsson and her Magical Worlds

I am crazy in love with Nicole Gustafsson's work.

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Observations on The X-Files Season One: Scully All Day

About a year ago, my boyfriend and I decided to watch The X-Files from the start, and we finally just finished the first season. It didn't take us a year because the show isn't any good - it's actually pretty great - but because you don't have a lot of time to binge watch TV when your boyfriend goes to bed at 9:30pm.

At first I intended to do summaries for each episode, but that just didn't happen. Instead, here are some observations on the entire first season. SPOILER ALERT, they are all about Scully. Double SPOILER ALERT, do I have to tell you there will be spoilers for a show that's 20 years old?

Observations on Season One of The X-Files:

Just in case you were worried that a show about FBI agents investigating the paranormal would be all business and no boobies, fret not, Scully gets into her underwear on the VERY FIRST EPISODE! (It's white cotton granny panties, but still.) The first reveal is unnecessary but justified--she is undressing when she finds spots on her lower back matching those that victims in their cases had. The second time, when she has Mulder look at the spots, is completely ridiculous: instead of just lifting up the back of her shirt like a normal person, she stands there in her underwear again. Thanks, writers for the booty and the fake sexual tension.

Number of times Mulder guides Scully through a door or down the sidewalk by the small of her back even though she is trained to use guns and protect herself and is able to walk: all of them.

Most episodes begin with Mulder throwing a newspaper in front of Scully and expecting her to see the mystical occurrence in an everyday news story. (This gimmick means he also gets to mansplain to her a lot.)

After the number of times Scully had to creep around her dark house with a gun poised, I am amazed she ever goes to sleep. But then, that's why she's Scully and I had a nightlight in my late teens.

Like a true scientist, Scully is always looking for the plausible, realistic explanations to Mulder's raving fantasies. Because the show is what it is, she is usually wrong, but if you separate yourself for a second from the world of the show, she is actually very reasonable: she accepts the evidence she sees in front of her (like a man who stretches his body to fit through tiny spaces and eat peoples' livers) without creating elaborate, mystical explanations to go along with it.

Despite all this, Scully is basically the original Gil Grissom, with the addition of plausibility. While Mulder is running around chasing hunches, Scully does painstaking research and/or disgusting autopsies to find actual evidence about what's going on. She'll walk in with a stack of papers and explanations to match. (As opposed to Grissom who strolled into a CSI investigation and pointed out that the soil they were analyzing only comes from one place in the entire world, linking it perfectly to their suspect.)

UPDATE: How did I forget this the first time around? JANICE is on The X-Files! Janice! As in "Oh... My... God!" from Friends! Okay, the actress' name is Maggie Wheeler and she actually has a totally normal voice. She was acting on Friends. Acting! Way to go, Maggie.

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Singalong! 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins

The Smashing Pumpkins were a part of my introduction to "cool" music. Their songs weren't so simple you could learn to sing along the first time you hear the chorus for the first time, and their songs were about something more confusing than touching Barbie's body. Obviously, it was art.

by The Smashing Pumpkins

Shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time
On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
June bug skipping like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we'd never see an end to it all

And I don't even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don't know just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below

Double cross the vacant and the bored
They're not sure just what we have in the store
Morphine city slippin' dues, down to see that

We don't even care, as restless as we are
We feel the pull in the land of a thousand guilts
And poured cement, lamented and assured
To the lights and towns below
Faster than the speed of sound
Faster than we thought we'd go, beneath the sound of hope

Justine never knew the rules
Hung down with the freaks and the ghouls
No apologies ever need be made
I know you better than you fake it, to see

And I don't even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don't know just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below

The street heats the urgency of sound
As you can see there's no one around

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Learning! Roundup: Divorce, how to die, and pushing Occam's Razor off its pedestal

Learning! Roundup: Divorce, how to die, and pushing Occam's Razor off its pedestal

Marriage Isn't a 50/50 Gamble

Cynical types like to comment before weddings that there's a 50/50 shot that the marriage will fail. (Thanks for spoiling the festivities, Negatron!) Well, that's not actually true. Basically, what happened is that once divorce became more accessible and socially acceptable, a whole bunch of miserable people got divorced, creating that 50% statistic. These days, it depends when the marriage happened whether it will end in divorce: marriages that began in the 80s or earlier? Divorce central. Marriages from the 00s? Only about 33% are expected to divorce, at any point in their lives.

Interesting factoid: divorces are often initiated by women. This lead the researchers to say that changing divorce rates reflect the women changing their expectations of their partners. My analysis is slightly different: because women are now more able to delay marriage and don't feel obligated to marry someone when they don't want to, perhaps they will be less likely to need to escape those marriages later.

Exercise Fixes Alcohol

Not that alcohol is something that needs to be "fixed", per se, but apparently it's basically a low-level poison and will give us all sorts of terrible conditions. New research shows, however, that exercise counterbalances the negative effects of drinking! People who exercised 150 minutes a week (cardio-style) and drank over the recommended levels were healthier than those who drank under the recommended levels and didn't exercise. Really, this probably just shows that exercise is really really important for health, but whatever, let's say it's an excuse to drink!

How Will You Die?

Speaking of health and poison and illness: how do you think you will die? Most of us will not die peacefully and quietly in our sleep like we hope. Mostly, in the Western world, we'll die of cancer and heart disease. Alcoholism ranks in there too, guys.

Stay Curious, Reduce Your Bias

The smartypants among us like to think that we are less likely to have prejudices because we have FACTS instead. Well... Not necessarily true. What is true, apparently, is that a curious spirit helps us avoid our biases.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless... Addiction Therapy

Did you see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? If not, go see it now! Or read this basic synopsis and minor spoiler: it's about a woman who erases the memory of her ex boyfriend from her mind with this memory-erasing therapy.

How does this relate to addiction therapy? Well, one of the problems with addicts is that their memories of the drug are connected with intense pleasure and happiness, causing them to seek to recreate those feelings. So now researchers may have found a way to erase the memories related to the drugs, thus erasing the mental connection between the drugs and pleasure.

Occam's Razor Isn't Everything

Isn't it fun when something comes out to confirm a suspicion you had all along? In university and in conversations with my science-y friends, Occam's Razor (the idea that the simplest solution is the best/correct solution) is treated like a golden calf of truth and glory. While it is a great guiding principle, few seem willing to recognize that it is a human-chosen framework for deciding truth and may not always be correct. Well now an article in The Atlantic is on my side: an obsession with Occam's Razor may have distorted some science. Ha!

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Thoughts on Parenting

I am now at "that age." The rate at which my friends have been procreating went from a trickle to an ocean tide and now everyone is having babies! All the babies are everywhere! It's a baby tsunami! Babenami!

Of course, in true childless-person fashion, I am acting like there is an ocean of babies that have risen up and crashed over my life, sweeping houses and farm animals out of the way, when really there have been like six new babies in my world in the past few years.

As a childless person who has observed more than three babies and parents in action (so, tsunami levels), I feel like I am in a reasonable position to have some opinions on the matter, and of course, I will share them with you on the internet! Because the internet is for people to share their TOTALLY EDUCATED opinions about children and how to raise them!

Let me tell you about parenting:

Becoming a parent seems sort of like getting a brand new job where they just sort of point you at a work station and then walk away and you're like, "but... but... help?" Except the job is to keep a tiny creature alive, and everyone tells you how you're supposed to do it (and how you're supposed to feel while you do it) and all their advice is different and you don't get to sleep and you need to go pee, but WHAT IF THIS CREATURE DIES WHILE YOU PEE??? Possibly, this all happens while your body heals from major trauma.

While all this is going on, you're not allowed to talk about it too much because then people will be annoyed that all you do is talk about your baby, even though when they got a new job all they did was talk about their new job, and sometimes people only have one thing to talk about and that should be OKAY!

Some parents go outside every day, taking their baby for walks and hikes and to baby yoga and for coffee with friends. Other parents stay at home most days, cuddling and recovering from body trauma and sleeping and mashing up bananas. APPARENTLY, what matters most is that the parents do what works best for them, not what you think you would do.

Some parents are happy to leave their baby with friends or grandparents or their partner for hours to go out and do something else, maybe something with you. Others want to stay with the baby all the time. Apparently, this is also a matter of the parent doing what's best for them? And their baby?

It turns out it's possible to watch someone do something you wouldn't do and keep your mouth shut about it the ENTIRE TIME. Even if they are a parent dealing with their child, and even for the rest of your life. Really.

It's a sad truth about the world that not all parents love their children. I do not think this is true of most parents, and assuming this of anyone seems about as smart as assuming that a random car driving down the street is going to try to mow you down on the sidewalk - it's technically possible, but not likely.

Okay, if what they're doing is actually endangering the child - like in a real way, like it might fall on its head or ingest poison? Then maybe just catch the baby or take the poison away and find a very gentle way to mention it because it was probably a mistake and the parent will probably feel TERRIBLE when they realize it and you don't need to explain to them why it was wrong because they know it was wrong and are just trying not to cry all the time and maybe they just finally got to go pee.

It is hard to know exactly what a parent needs. Is it food? Help cleaning? Someone to hold the baby while they shower? Conversation? Conversation about the baby? Not about the baby? Answers: who doesn't want food? No one. If you are unsure about other things, just ask. Or better yet, offer to do it so all they have to do is mutter, "OMG thanks."

Since we are alive, our parents and grandparents lived at least to child-rearing ages, and humans from all over the world grow to adulthood, there is probably not one way to raise a child.

Parents are really just doing their best, guys.

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Inspiration! Roundup: Andrea's Birthday Edition

Today is my BIRTHDAY!!! In honour of my birthday I'm going to just post a whole bunch of stuff I really love and find inspirational and won't care if I've already posted about it or if it's boring to you or anything. Basically this is going to be my feel-goodish time capsule and your window into my mostly-silly brain.

Homemade GIFS

I am super into making gifs at work and in life, lately. Example:

I could seriously watch the excitement on these guys' faces cycle around and around over and over. And the best part is that it was completely staged. They are just that good at looking excited.

Sarah Slean

Sarah Slean has been my musical soul mate since I was 16 and discovered her by reading a review for her album Night Bugs in The Vancouver Sun. The first song I fell in love with her to was Duncan:

Leslie Knope

Is there anything that ISN'T the best about Leslie Knope???? Okay, she can be annoying and overbearing and pushy sometimes. But it is because she is the best and so loving and strong and optimistic. She is SO OPTIMISTIC. She is the happiest feminist in the world. She is wonderful. I could fill this whole page with Leslie Knope. Instead I'll just post three gifs.




All the dancing! Don't stop dancing! Always be dancing! Seriously, guys, dancing solves almost every problem. Evidence:

But even if you are not angry dancing, you are still dancing, and that is a good thing. The best kind of dancing is when you just let your body meld with the music and don't even care what it looks like and let all your feelings go and it is like a DREAM! But AWAKE! All the best things in life start with dancing.

Also, watching people do a really really good job of doing professional dancing is incredible. Learning music video choreography is the best.

People Who Just Do Things Because They Want To Do Them

It's hard because there is only so much time in the day, and too many ideas for that time to manage, but I am forever inspired and awed by people who just go "I want to do that thing - okay, I'm going to do it now."

Then they do it.

90's Pop

If you've followed this blog (or me as a human) for any length of time, you know how much I love 90's music. NINETIES MUSIC! I am a classic adult who thinks all the best music happened when they were a teenager, hence my FIRM belief that the absolute best 90's music happened in the latter half of the decade, and blended over into the beginning of the 00's. I can't post all my favourites and it's sooooo hard to pick one but I'm going to try and post this Robyn gem that I feel actually represents my heart in a very real way. Robyn's my gal.

Please, if you ever want to make me happy by playing Robyn's Show Me Love, don't get confused and play the other Robyn's Show Me Love. It's from 1993 and it's not nearly as good. ALL NINETIES POP WAS NOT CREATED EQUAL, GUYS!

(Other songs I could have posted here with equal heart-clenching power: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? by Paula Cole, Drinking in LA by Bran Van 3000, Celebrity Skin by Hole, Baby Baby by Amy Grant, and a whole bunch of other stuff, just look it up, okay?)


I am a firm believer that karaoke performances are about passion, not skill. If you sing too well, then, I don't know, it's just not quite as fun. I mean, I guess you still love singing and being a good singer and stuff, but the best part is to just throw your all into a song. Your whole entire body. The best is if you leave the karaoke host a bit speechless because you and your bestie just performed Total Eclipse of the Heart with so much feeling.


I mean, obviously, right? I am tempted to just post pictures of all my besties here, but I think I should technically ask them permission and it's too much work. Instead, I'm going to post a picture of my brand-newest besties:

I can't wait until she can talk - then I think our relationship will really step up because we'll be able to have heart to hearts and talk about everything: our favourite ponies, our favourite foods, and how to deal with The Man getting us down. For now, though, I admire her incredible liveliness and tininess and funny old man facial expressions.

(Also, it's worth mentioning that family and boyfriends count in the Besties Club and I have the most wonderful family and boyfriend ever.)

Things to Consume: Tea, Popcorn, Cheese, Beer, and Books

I LOVE ALL THESE THINGS SO MUCH!!! Green tea, creamy earl grey, buttery and salty popcorn, all the cheeses (except cream cheese which doesn't even count and should be banished from the earth), Granville Island Winter Ale, Harry Potter, The Name of the Wind, whatever beer happens to be on special today, white cheddar popcorn, Jonathan Safron Foer, sleepy time tea, and all this imagining of books and teas and popcorns has created a mental nest for me to curl up in so I'm just going to do that now...

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Book Club: Bad Feminism by Roxane Gay

I finally read Roxane Gay's Bad Feminism! (Just some light vacation reading.) Bad Feminism is a collection of essays from novelist and professor and all-around very very smart woman Roxane Gay. They are about feminism, obviously.

Thoughts and Reactions:

Honestly, overall I didn't really love reading it. It's hard to say exactly why. She is very smart. Her ideas are, largely, fantastic. She writes incredibly well.

Despite not really loving reading it, I would highly recommend it to everyone. It is 100% worth the time it takes to read.

The main thing (I can put my finger on) that I didn't love: the analyses of books and TV shows I haven't read or watched yet. I mean, it seemed like she was sharing some interesting ideas, but I had never read the books, so there was little to connect to after about a page.

The main thing I disagreed with: her interpretation of "likability" in characters. She criticizes it, saying that characters who are likeable (especially the female ones) follow the rules, that they are good and sweet and predictable and charming and nice and generous. I disagree. Likeable doesn't mean unflawed. It doesn't mean perfect. None of the people I like in real life are perfect, I would I expect that of a fictional character? When I am reading a book, I am spending a LOT of time with its protagonist. If I completely loathe the person, it overshadows anything interesting about them and the story. I stopped reading Prelude to Foundation largely for this reason - Seldon was such a little turd I couldn't take his idiocy anymore. Perhaps likeable is not quite the right word, but there has to be an in - something that makes me willing to spend so much time hanging out with them and listening to their story. If they are a terrible person, fine (good even), but what is interesting about them? Why do I care? Do I want to invest in them? Because reading a book is an investment.

Her vulnerability and honesty is incredible. She is so open about her own struggle with likability. Her pride. Her sexual assault. Her body. Her experience of privilege. Her experience of racism. I like to think I am vulnerable and honest sometimes, but I am only vulnerable and honest about the things I don't mind talking about, which may be honest, but it's not actually vulnerable at all. Roxane Gay is vulnerable. Or maybe not, maybe she's also keeping the hardest things inside, and they are just different for her than for me.

There is a conversation about Trigger Warnings that is pretty great: "Few are willing to consider the possibility that trigger warnings might be ineffective, impractical, and necessary for creating safe spaces all at once. The illusion of safety is as frustrating as it is powerful."

Roxane Gay loves The Hunger Games! I love The Hunger Games!

I am reminded of how whitewashed my entertainment choices are, and she made me want to watch more Black Cinema and Black Television. She discusses the show Girlfriends in depth. It sounds good. I wish I'd already watched it. I have no idea where I'll watch it if it's not on Netflix because that is so much work to track down shows elsewhere, which is, of course, part of how my entertainment choices have come from such a limited pool in the first place.

THANK YOU, Ms. Gay, for your chapter on female friendship. I have never understood this notion that women are supposed to make horrible friends and that we're always in competition with each other. Sure, I feel jealous of my lady friends who "have it all" and are golden nymphs of dreaminess. I also feel jealous of my male friends, just for different things (so far I don't think I have a male friend who I'd describe as "a golden nymph of dreaminess"). I think the problem here is my own insecurity, not women. Women are great.

Her discussion of rape jokes is really wonderful. Unlike Roxane Gay, I think there are some rape jokes that are funny, given their framing and source. She does not, and she makes her point very well: "rape is many things--humiliating, degrading, physically and emotionally painful, exhausting, irritating, and sometimes, it is even banal. It is rarely funny for most women."

There are so many excellent quotes. If I had been reading my own copy of the book, I would have underlined the heck out of it. It was, however, my friend's and she didn't underline it so I didn't either, because that would be rude. I did, however, photograph some of my favourite quotes, re-written here because pictures of book quotes almost never work very well (which never stops me from trying and from Instagramming a few to lacklustre results):
"My own parents ask, How is my daughter doing? I offer them some version of the truth."

"Better is not good enough,"

"Sometimes, saying what others are afraid or unwilling to say is just being an asshole."

"I say, 'Everything is terrible. Everything is great.' He says, 'I know.'"

"Somewhere along the line we started misinterpreting the First Amendment and this idea of the freedom of speech the amendment grants us. We are free to speak as we choose without fear of prosecution or persecution, but we are not free to speak as we choose without consequence."

"I wish, in all things, for a perfect world."

“It's hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you're not imagining things. It's hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you're going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it's that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.”
Finally, enjoy this wonderfully amused eye-roll from Ms. Gay herself:

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Cute! Roundup: Lazy cats, mystery goats, and foxy foxes

Recently I made the terrible mistake of locking Gertie out on the balcony while I was out for the day. This is what I came home to. She was adorably angry. (And my "angry", I mean that she instantly cuddled us all - but really aggressively.)

More Cuteness:

Lazy cat goes downstairs

3 chicks in the palm of your hand

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Camping is Fun! And Other Observations

Camping is fun!

Camping is like normal living, but in a very small fabric house with half your stuff in the car. Also, it's the olden days when bathrooms were a short (or medium) walk away.

When you camp near bears you have to keep EVERYTHING in the car except your clothes. And maybe even your clothes, if you are not very good at keeping food off your clothes, like me.

There is a prime configuration of tents and tarps when it comes to rainy camping, and it does not involve setting your tarp up any distance away from your tent. Perfect World Camping has a tarp right over the entrance to your tent so that you have a dry area to get in and out of the dang thing. Some of us (that would be me) chose poorly and got to put their (my) soaking wet raincoat on inside the tent every time they (I) needed to go to the bathroom (a lot). Learn from my mistakes.

There is something adventurous and childlike about crawling in and out of your home. It's fun and also kind of exhausting, because we are not children anymore. (Unless you are a child, reading this, in which case, please comment and tell me all the cool things right now, I am so behind.)

Camping fashion is the best fashion because it's pretty much all function.

Is there a way to sit comfortably around a fire in the pouring rain? I know that with persistence, you can make a fire in the rain, and I guess if you also set up your sitting tarp right next to the fire this could work. Try doing that.

Spending an entire day and night crammed in your stuffy tent where everything is wet because it's raining so much and even though the rain itself hasn't made it into the tent, it is very very humid.

Comfortably sleeping on the ground is a very individual thing and no one is allowed to judge anyone for the things they have to do in order to find said comfort. Also, rocks get bigger in the night. I am certain.

There is something kind of amazing about cooking outside. It's like a BBQ party but with different food.

When it doesn't rain and you wake up and open your tent to a glorious sunrise, it seems like life is the most beautiful thing ever.

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Singalong! Building a Mystery by Sarah McLachlan

Fun fact: I NEVER spell Sarah McLachlan's name right on the first go. Which is weird, because I obsessively listened to her music and stared and her CD books throughout most of high school. She was the soundtrack to teenage feelings. That lady was in the business of making people cry LONG before those save the puppies commercials.

by Sarah McLachlan

you come out at night
that's when the energy comes
and the dark side's light
and the vampires roam
you strut your rasta wear
and your suicide poem
and a cross from a faith
that died before Jesus came
you're building a mystery

you live in a church
where you sleep with voodoo dolls
and you won't give up the search
for the ghosts in the halls
you wear sandals in the snow
and a smile that won't wash away
can you look out the window
without your shadow getting in the way
oh you're so beautiful
with an edge and a charm
but so careful
when I'm in your arms

'cause you're working
building a mystery
holding on and holding it in
yeah you're working
building a mystery
and choosing so carefully

you woke up screaming aloud
a prayer from your secret god
you feed off our fears
and hold back your tears

give us a tantrum
and a know it all grin
just when we need one
when the evening's thin

oh you're a beautiful
a beautiful fucked up man
you're setting up your
razor wire shrine


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