November 22, 2014
by admin

Oh Science And Math, Just When I Thought I Was Out They Pull Me Back In

The_Martian_2014When I graduated from high school, I figured my days of math and science were done. I went to a college without core requirements so I majored in Psychology and went on with my life. For the most part I am able to function very well without knowing anything about atoms or trigonometry.Recently, however, my ignorance has come up and given me an open hand slap; once in a book, and another while doing first-grade math.

For me, math is like that friend you haven’t seen in twenty years who you owe something two because they said they’d never tell anyone about that night and they didn’t. Then one day, math shows up on your doorstep and says, “Hey, I just moved to your city and don’t have a place yet. Can I crash on your couch?” And you’re like, “Ok.” Then weeks later they’re still there, and you say to your spouse, “Why is Math still here?” And they say, “Oh, I asked them to move in.” And you say, “What? Shit. Okay, Math. You can go bunk with Science.”

As part of the awesome Blogging for Books program I do (because I have a price, and that price is free books) I get to choose one of a large selection of books to read. This time around I decided to bust out of my wheelhouse and try something different. I’d heard a lot of good stuff about this book called The Martian, which is about an astronaut who gets accidentally abandoned on Mars and his attempts to get home. Ok! I thought. I liked Gravity. Maybe this will work!

It mostly did, and I say mostly because I am someone who is willing to run my eyes over text that I don’t understand and shrug it off instead of worrying about what it means. Cuz’ I am what you call, “intellectually lazy.” The Martian is a really, really good book. It’s the great mix of hideously scientific stuff that my eyes move over while my brain takes a nap, and a writer who has a hilarious sense of humor. Here is how I read the entire book:

The Martian:

I can create the O2 easily enough. It takes twenty hours for the MAV fuel plant to fill its 10-liter tank with CO2. The oxygenator can turn into O2, then the atmospheric regulator will se the O2 content in the HAB is high, and pull it out of the air, storing it in the main O2 tanks. They’ll fill up, so I’ll have to transfer O2 over to the rover’s tanks and even the space suit tanks as necessary.

Meredith’s brain:


The Martian:

As you can see, this plan provides many opportunities for me ti die in a fiery explosion…If I make any mistakes, there’ll be nothing left but the “Mark Watney Memorial Crater” where the HAB once stood…If you asked every engineer at NASA what the worst scenario for the HAB was, they’d all answer, “fire.” If you asked them what the result would be, they’d answer, “death by fire.”

Meredith brain:


All in all it’s an interesting, funny book, but I had no idea what was going on for about a third of it. I enjoyed it anyway, because that’s the way life is when you’re an idiot.


I’d also like to give a big shout-out to common core math, which I was introduced to this week with problems like this: “7-5. We know that 5-5 is zero. So we can take that 5-5=0, which leaves us with 2, so 7-5 =2.” I’m not going to kid you — the first four or five times I read that I thought that perhaps this math worksheet had been translated from English into Japanese and then back into English and that was what I was reading. I said to my husband, “Why can’t 7-5 just equal 2? Why can’t it just equal 2?!” But then a few days later I was doing some more problems with my kids when I realized that Common Core math is exactly the kind of math I have been doing in my head for years. When presented with a problem that involves addition or subtraction in the tens, I always do the easy part first, which is adding/subtracting the tens, and then I add/subtract the ones.

I can totally do first-grade math. This is one of my proudest moments; I was pretty sure that this was not the way things were going to go down.

(Image via wikipedia)

November 19, 2014
by admin

The Key To A Happy Thanksgiving Is To Be Alone

Thanksgiving was always a huge production at my house while I was growing up. My mother would start prepping a day or two before by chopping vegetables, thawing the turkey, and so on. Then she would wake up early and cook all day long while the rest of us ungrateful bastards watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The meal would be ready at around 2:00, and it was always perfect. And my mother was always exhausted. So for me, Thanksgiving has always meant hours and hours of backbreaking and complicated work. The idea of cooking one on my own was a nightmare, because not only do I a) hate to cook and b) hate being around people, but I also c) really really hate to cook and d) see a and c.

Last year, my husband and I ended up up with a Thanksgiving at our home with just us and our twins. All of our relatives were going other places, and we were on our own. At first we were like, “Uh…so what do we do? Do we just skip it? Do we do the whole shebang? Where are the adults who tell us what to do here?” We decided to go ahead and have ourselves our very own full-on Thanksgiving. And you know what? It was heavenly.

Turns out when you are making Thanksgiving for four people, two of whom weight less than forty pounds, cooking that meal is super easy. We finished cooking at around 11:30 and said to each other, “Is that it? Really? Why was that so simple and free of drama?” It was like learning the truth about Santa Claus. All these years I was convinced that making Thanksgiving dinner equaled misery and stress. instead, I learned that, as with so many other things in life, things are a lot simpler if there are no other people involved.

I know. I sound like a sad, eccentric loner. I am undoubtedly on a watch list somewhere.

This month’s Netflix Stream Team theme is “Friendsgiving,” which is apparently something people do. On Friendsgiving, people invite their friends over for Thanksgiving instead of or in addition to their families. I have never in my life had friends over on Thanksgiving because if I had no family I would for sure be spending that day by myself, in my underwear, watching football, eating cranberry sauce out of a can with a spoon. Because that’s what winners do.

This month’s Netflix titles for celebrating friendship are:

For the little kids:

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 7.55.30 PM

1. Bob and Larry: VeggieTales in the House
2. Bert and Ernie: Sesame Street: Elmo and Friends
3. Bo and Dezzy: Bo on the Go!
4. Justin and Olive: Justin Time
5. Tod and Copper: The Fox and the Hound 2
6. Clifford and Elizabeth: Clifford

I didn’t even offer the kids Veggie Tales, because while I have never watched one, my understanding is that it is about Jesus vegetables. And the Blands don’t do Jesus veggies.

The kids picked Clifford. Or, rather, my daughter picked it and my son said, “Whatever.” They seemed to really enjoy the story of the big red dog whose poops must have their own zip code. (Really, I’m positive I’m not the first person who has wondered where the heck Clifford goes poop. “People in the neighborhood blame the smell on the local dump. If only they knew how right they were….”)

They loved Clifford, as they love all of the new stuff on Netflix. And I loved the list of suggestions for grown-ups because it included not only 30 Rock, but also Breaking Bad. This proves once again that Netflix knows me better than my own mother. Thanks, Netflix. I’d invite you over for dinner but I don’t do that.

November 6, 2014
by admin

How Not To Get Punched In The Face By A Mom

I am not one to glorify violence unless it the only solution. But in the instance of a California woman who got punched in the mouth after asking a mom to quiet down her child, who was having a tantrum, I think that this is one punch that deserves a bit of glory.

A twenty-year-old named Bree Hajek-Richardson (I can almost stop after “twenty-year-old named Bree,” but I won’t) got into an argument with another woman while waiting at the checkout line at Nordstrom Rack. That other woman’s child was having a melt-down in the shopping cart, and Hajek-Richardson, “…asked her very nicely to calm her child down a little bit, you know the volume.”

Yes, Bree, I know the volume. I and every other mother out there who has ever had to take her child shopping knows the volume. Let me tell you what else I know: this poor woman was just trying to get some shopping done with her kid, who she had to bring with her because no one takes their kid to Nordstrom Rack unless they have no choice. I also know that she was almost out of there; she was at the checkout counter, mere minutes from freedom, trying to hold herself together, when Hajek-Richardson decided it was judgment day. And finally, I know that that punch was coming, and possibly overdue.

The next time anyone who is in this kind of situation feels tempted to make a politely judgmental request of someone with a screaming child, I would ask you to remember the following things:

  • That parent is not one ounce happier about this situation than you are. You think the woman holding that screaming baby on your flight is loving life? No. She wants nothing more than to be anywhere else at that moment. This was not on her “if I have time today” list.
  • If the child in question could be calmed using any methods other than violence or buying a pony, they would be calmed. There isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t had a child lose their minds to the point where you say, “Well, I’m just going to have to ride this one out, because this child is gone.” Sometimes you can’t quiet a kid down. Why? Because they’re kids. They don’t do calm and reasonable. No three-year-old is going to say, “You make an excellent point, Mother. We’ll just talk about this in the car, where we can have some privacy.”
  • From time to time, life is not going to be perfect. Shhh…I know. Just hang in there with me. Sometimes, things are going to be uncomfortable and unpleasant. And occasionally, another person is going to be the cause of that through no fault of their own. Sometimes people’s bad days become part of your day. Welcome to living among other people. The world missed the memo that said to keep you comfortable at all costs. Please to get over yourself.

Is it wrong to punch people? Most of the time. And I do think that this mom was wrong to assault this other woman, no matter how badly she needed it. But I do think this incident is good for reminding people that we need to pull on our empathy pants when it comes to being around parents with screaming children. Either you’ve been there before yourself and should be able to relate, or you haven’t experienced it but should be able to put yourself in their shoes. Those are two emotions called, respectively, “sympathy” and “empathy.” They are important. Mainly because they can keep you from getting punched in the face.

October 27, 2014
by admin

So You Want To Be A Troll: A Two Step Guide To Life Under The Internet Bridge

business-hands-614781-mWould you like to be an internet troll? Do you want to unnecessarily cause others pain and self-doubt? Who doesn’t?! Well you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to my short guide for how to create drama and hurt feelings on the internet. If you’ve ever wanted to cause others pain, cruelty to strangers via your laptop is a great way to do it — and you don’t even have to look them in the eye!

Step One: Find Your Motivation And Figure Out Your Follow Through

There are two motivations for internet trolls. Either, “It’s all about me feeling bad,” or, “It’s all about me feeling good.”

It’s All About Me Feeling Bad

We all have topics that cause us pain, or that are so important to us that we are unable to be objective about them. You need to make sure that everybody else knows what yours are. The key to this kind of trolling is to find a place where people are expressing the opposite opinion on the topics that you are most passionate about and make them hear your story. This can be done on any site at all where there is a random mention of the topic. Don’t be afraid to get in there and speak your mind!

The person who wrote the post that is the subject of your disdain and hatred may only have mentioned the topic in passing and without any meaning attached to it — that’s okay. You can still use it. Your reaction can be completely unrelated to what the original poster was talking about, and it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you’re feeling something and sharing it with other people.

And if you hear about something offensive written on another site, get over there and leave a comment but do not read the original post first. When you listen, you give the other person power. Don’t listen, just judge. If it’s important to you, then everyone should know it. And nothing tells someone that they need to re-think their feelings on a subject like calling them a cunt.

That all sounds great! So what are some good ways to follow through?

Here are some examples that I mostly made up:


“I never knew real love until I had my kids.” (On a parenting website)

“How dare you say that people who don’t have kids don’t understand love, you selfish bitch!” (from a child-free by choice site)


“Man, I just don’t understand why people like sunflowers. I think they’re ugly.” (On a horticulture site)

“Sunflowers were my dead daughter’s favorite flower. Maybe you should think for a minute about how your words can hurt people. You selfish bitch.” (from a grief and loss site)


“I don’t know, I just hope we find a way to keep guns out of kids hands.” (On a news site)

“My fourteen-year-old son shot a moose that was charging me. I would have died if that kid hadn’t had a gun, you monster.” (from Reddit)


It’s All About Me Feeling Good

Let’s be honest — your life isn’t awesome. You have no power, and people look down on you. But you’re smart enough to know that reacting to that in the real world would cause you to lose your job and any remaining friends you have. So take it to the internet! The anonymity of the internet is the perfect place to explore all of the deep, dark parts of your soul that are unfit for civilized society. It’s the place where you can finally be the mean girl or the bully, where you can say outrageously awful things without repercussions, a place where you can get all of the attention you so sorely lack in your real life. The world won’t respond to your compliments, but it will respond to your death threats and cruelty. So go out there and make something happen!

Examples of ways to follow through that I mostly made up:


“I don’t feel the same way about my cats as I do about my kids.” (from a parenting site)

“I hope your husband leaves you.” (origin unknown)


“RIP Grandpa Miller.” (from a funeral home website)

“Your Grandpa was a pedophile who also strangled a baby elephant with its own trunk.” (origin unknown)


“Happy Friday, everyone! Have fun tonight and don’t forget to have a designated driver!” (from anywhere on the internet)

“Kill yourself.” (Reddit)


Step 2: Don’t Feel Bad…Ever

Other commenters on the internet are going to try to make you feel bad. They’re going to use big words like, “compassion,” “heartlessness,” and “morality,” and tell you that you’re wrong. Don’t listen to them. You have nothing to feel bad about. Remember that you are either a) standing up for your right to upset about whatever or b) being mean to someone none of you even know. They can’t tell you not to air your personal disappointments on whatever stage you damn well please, and they can’t possibly care about the feelings of someone none of you have ever met.

It’d be one thing if you were saying this stuff to their whore mother, but you’re not. You’re saying this to some random person on the internet, and that person is either a complete stranger who means nothing to the world, or they are someone who is successful and therefore deserves to be taken down a peg. Regardless, why should you care about their feelings? It’s not like you know them. The only feelings that matter here are yours. You can’t see anyone crying, or wondering if they really are a terrible person, or having a bad day because of something you said. You can’t see the shock in someone’s eyes when they read a cruel comment that completely misrepresents what they said, you can’t feel their pain when they are ganged up on and told what kind of person they are by people who don’t know them, or their rage at being unable to defend themselves because defending themselves just provides more fuel for your fire. All of that stuff is going on somewhere else and doesn’t directly affect you, so why should you care?

So, all you wannabe trolls, keep these things in mind:

1. Why you are trolling (it’s all about you, yes…but why?)

2. What’s the best way to follow through (e.g. twist words, take them out of context, or overreact to a remarkable degree.)

3. Don’t ever feel bad about hurting someone else’s feelings. After all, they’re just people, and you know how awful people are.

October 15, 2014
by admin
1 Comment

Netflix Wants To Know About Your First Time

**This accidentally got published yesterday before I had written anything. That’s because I am a pro who pays attention to detail. Anyhoo, here’s the finished post.**



The Netflix Stream Team theme for October is “Firsts.” This was bad news for me, because I have a terrible memory. I remember very few of my firsts with the exception of the dirty ones. That isn’t going to go very far with a couple of six-year-olds.

Netflix supplied a list of “firsts,” and shows or movies about those firsts. There wasn’t much there that applicable to my kids.

New sibling? My kids are never ever ever ever going to have one. Ever.

Losing your first tooth? That was so last year.

Getting glasses? Hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t have the heart to tell them that with Mike and I as their parents it’s inevitable for them.

First sleepover? Also hasn’t happened yet, and I never went to a sleepover that didn’t leave me an embarrassed, miserable shell of the girl I had been the day before.

First trick or treat? My kids were so little the first time they went trick or treating that they didn’t even want half of their candy. Those were heady days indeed.

First move? My kids have never moved and probably never will. I never moved the whole time I was growing up. My husband moved once when he was five. Moving is not something we do.

And so on and so on. You get the picture.

So my daughter picked the topic “New Sibling,” because she is clearly delusional. We watched a TV show called The Hive, which is about talking bees with British accents. The first episode had three sections, the first of which was about the little bee not getting any mail, which is a surprising choice for a first episode. Not having any mail seems more like a, “It’s the fifth season of the bee show and we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Next week we’re giving them a wacky neighbor. Who’s a beetle. *sigh*”

Then came a section where the little bee meets The Queen Bee (lesson = be nice to people in case they’re The Queen), and finally came the new sibling show, which unsurprisingly paints a pretty rosy picture of having a baby bee. Speaking of which, have you ever seen a baby bee? Me neither. What’s that all about?

ANYWAY. My daughter loved The Hive and thought all the talking insects were hilarious. Because who doesn’t love a British bee? Not me, god damn it.

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