Birds Aren’t Real

Birds aren’t real, but watching the newly-launched drones sitting on the feeders outside the window waiting for calibration while they munch a few sunflower seeds is entertaining and enlightening. The new drones are scruffy, skittish, and clumsy. Right out of the factory, these remote-controlled feathered forms do not have the correct coloration to perform as effective spies. It takes a few weeks in the sun for them to reach the hues for which they were programmed. It also takes them a bit of time to determine the precise settings for their internal GPS systems. Nothing funnier than a drone that can’t quite land on the branch or feeder it targeted. And finally, the drones have to ascertain the locations of all nearby charging stations. Sometimes, they get sidetracked in doing the latter by bird feeders. Apparently, the need for a power source to communicate their surveillance findings gets tangled in their internal wiring with the need to act like a bird in front of unwitting citizens.

The extermination of all birds and their subsequent replacement with robots started in the 1950’s. (You can read the entire history of the secret government project in the link below). The complexity of such a project exacerbated by the extreme secrecy of it has made slow going for the CIA. However, the modern creation of long-distance, self-flying drones promises great leaps in the project in the near future. So, set up a couple of feeders and keep an eye on drone development right out your window. You know they are watching you and as an adult American citizen, it is your responsibility to be aware of government actions in all respects.

https://birdsarentreal.com/pages/the-history

photo credit: Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017

Earwax

Like so many adult problems, there are multiple solutions to the issues of earwax. Having multiple solutions to a given problem is usually a good thing as there is something for everyone, but with earwax the actual problem is the argument over the effectiveness of the various solutions or even the taboo about cleaning out one’s own ears at all.

Everyone has earwax and no one likes it, with the possible exception of Shrek. There is a great debate over what to do with earwax, at least what to do with it while it is still in your ear. There is probably not much debate about what to do with it after you get it out of your ear. Don’t wanna think about options for that.

Earwax was not a problem when you were young. Your mother poked your ears with a cotton swab, washed them out with a washrag and a pointy finger nail, or simply ignored it. But now as an adult, you are faced with dealing with your own earwax. There are many ways to remove ear wax, which is technically called cerumen. Some methods include cotton swabs, ear candling, paper clips, pencils, toothpicks, ear drops and doctors. Only the last two methods are recommended. (See link below to article from Harvard Medical School).

A gambler would bet that 97% of adults have poked an ear swab (let’s just call a Q-tip a Q-tip, okay) or a toothpick or a pencil or a stick in their ear at one time or another to relieve an itch inside their ear or as a part of their grooming ritual. Never mind that your doctor and your mother told you never to do that. The other 3% of adults probably don’t have ears.

Of the recommendations from Harvard for treating ear wax issues, only one is typically affordable: ear drops. However, if you have ever used ear drops for grooming or medication, then you know they don’t feel particularly good and take a lot longer to work than they should. Ear drops tickle at best and cause extreme itching at worst. It takes a lot longer to get the ear drops out of one’s ear than it takes to put them in. Finally, you might wind up with that annoying sensation of water in your ear as if you had been swimming all day.

Maybe it is worth going to the doctor to get rid of earwax? At least, he could anesthetize you so you would not have any of those horrible water-in-the-ear issues and they could patch up the holes in your eardrum from those toothpicks and pencils.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/got-an-ear-full

photo credit: stemd.net

Respect

While having lunch at a local restaurant, I noticed a woman carrying an overflowing briefcase accompanied by a teenage boy who was obviously not her son. I was sitting close enough to overhear some of their conversation (yeah, I know…shame on me). It seems the woman was a social worker of some sort supposedly helping the young man who was new to the area. Another woman, who was also working in the restaurant as I has seen her pecking on her laptop when I entered, approached their table to discuss her free-lance efforts at saving the world. The second woman was apparently having trouble finding the appropriate free services for her non-paying client, so she asked the paid social worker for advice which the first woman promptly dispatched. This advice was followed by a lengthy conversation about website development, mutual acquaintances, mutual praise, and other gossip. On the face of it, this restaurant seems to be a hotbed of public service providers.

After the second woman left to go off and save some other poor soul, the first woman asked her charge how he liked his food and then proceeded to answer a phone call where she discussed at length another case she was working on. Eventually, she asked the young man if he wanted to go to his school to check on his schedule for the upcoming year and they departed. One wonders what the gist of their meeting was intended to be. 

What struck me about this scenario was that neither the professional nor amateur social worker respected the young man’s time enough to devote the lunch meeting to him and whatever his issues were at the time. Nor did they respect the privacy of their other clients whose issues and names they were bandying about in public.

The moral of this story is two-fold. First, if you are meeting with someone give them your full attention, especially if you are getting paid to meet with them (even if it is only taxpayers or non-profits paying you). Second, just because the person you are paid to meet with is a teenager doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your respect. This goes for small children, elderly persons, handicapped persons, persons of different skin tones, basically everyone. You get the idea. Karma works two ways; don’t tempt her.

photo credit: blog.cognifit.com

One Meal

As an adult, male or female, you should be able to prepare one entire tasty meal completely, competently, and quickly on your own that feeds four adults.  Assuming you have access to a stove and a refrigerator, you don’t need a microwave oven.  Plus, the credibility you earn from not using a microwave will only enhance your status in the eyes of your fellow diners.

If you are a fan of cooking, then branch out and make a chicken and vegetable stir fry – a dish that is very flexible and forgiving though a bit time-consuming because of all the chopping required.  (Contact me and I will send you an easy recipe for stir fry). If you are a bit nervous about cooking a meal with or without a microwave, then stick to basic Americanized spaghetti (recipe below).  Both are appetizing and can stretch to feed another person at the last minute.

Part 1) Sauce:

Start with one finely chopped onion and one pound of 90/10 ground beef.  If you are feeling authentic, use one pound of ground Italian sausage in place of the ground beef. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (less if you are using sausage) in a large skillet or sauce pan.  Heat oil on medium-high and toss in the onions.  Pay attention and don’t let the onions get too brown.  Burnt onions are icky and you have to start over.  When onions are translucent and tender, put the meat in the same skillet.  Turn the heat down a bit and separate the beef as it cooks.  When there are no pink bits, add the next ingredients which consist of a jar of good spaghetti sauce – Bertolli, Paul Newman, 365, whatever.  You are not striving for authenticity here, just a hearty meal.  Add a little water along with some red wine if you are feeling really adventurous and bring the meat and sauce to a boil.  Immediately lower heat a lot and let it simmer at least 30 minutes while you make the rest of the meal.  Cover the pan while cooking the sauce to keep it from evaporating and splattering.  Stir in a bit more water and continue to cook if the sauce starts to look too thick or too dry.

Part 2)  Noodles:

Fill a giant pot about ¾ full of water.  Add a couple dashes of salt.  Bring to a full, rolling boil – strive for big bubbles, not tiny ones.  Add as many spaghetti noodles as you need for your friends and cook as long as the package says to.  Taste test a noodle for doneness; no one wants raw chewy spaghetti.  Then drain the pasta well.  Cook the pasta right before you are ready to serve the meal after the sauce is done and salad prepared.

Part 3) Salad:

Open a large package of fresh mixed greens into a large bowl.  Add whatever extras you like – grape tomatoes, pinion nuts, onions, cucumbers, flax seeds, etc.  Just before serving, pour just a medium amount of good Italian salad dressing over the greens; no one wants soggy salad.  Toss well just before serving.  More casually, put the bottle on the table and let everyone help themselves.

Part 4) Bread:

Buy a loaf of pre-sliced sourdough or french bread.  Lay the slices in one layer on a cookie sheet and lightly butter one side of each slice.  A faint sprinkle of garlic powder over the butter will keep away vampires.  Turn oven on to ‘low’ broil, put the cookie sheet in the oven, and watch those babies like a hawk.  The smell of burned bread takes a while to dissipate.

To serve, have the bread and salad on the table to serve family-style.  Of course, you already have silverware, napkins, drinking glasses and a small bowl of real grated parmesan cheese on the table, right?  Dishing up the pasta in the kitchen simplifies things.  Do not mix the noodles and sauce together in one pot.  Trust me – it is against the law in Italy.  Place an equal amount of noodles on each plate.  Carefully ladle an equal and generous amount of sauce on the top of the noodles.  Clean up the edge of the plate with a damp paper towel (not your finger) if the sauce drips.  If you are really going all out, sprinkle a bit of basil on top of the sauce and serve your entrée to the delight of your guests.

Preparing dessert is optional.  An ideal, easy post-spaghetti dessert is to scoop some high-quality gelato into small cute bowls and serve.  If you make a stir fry,  simply provide an assortment of fortune cookies and debate the merits of the advice they dispense.  You can provide your diners a more lavish dessert the next time they come over and if you do this right, they will be clamoring to dine at your place again!

Family Feud

Photo credit: history collection.com

Devil Anse Hatfield & Randolph McCoy – photo: historycollection.com

Let’s talk. You lost at the “family game” over Thanksgiving and are not particularly looking forward to round 2 at Christmas or Hanukah or whatever is your next big family gathering. Actually, the next round will be like round 6 or 14 or even 27 because your family game has been going on for years and you are on a losing streak. It is time to change.


You cannot easily change teams. You are stuck with the family you have and quitting your family entirely is not the best solution. Also, you are outnumbered, unless you have a family of two. If you lost this year to the one and only other person in your family, then while you may not be literally outnumbered you still have a problem.


You cannot change the game entirely, especially if other team members have home field advantage. If you travel to someone else’s home – even your mother’s – to play the game, then there are rules that you can’t make and rules you probably shouldn’t break. Unless you are willing to host the family gathering and set your own ground rules (that may or may not be followed), you will have to be content to play on the visiting team.


Your family game probably includes some activities that you enjoy, like playing charades or touch football. Continue to enjoy those. Also, do your part in the kitchen whether washing dishes or chopping onions or taking out the trash. The elders will think you are adulting even if they do tell you how to do every little thing. If you do some grunt work, you may score a point. Focus on the activities that make you feel engaged and content. However, rather than participate in the ongoing heated political debate in the living room or the gossip on the back porch, find a small child and a coloring book for you both to enjoy in another room. That child will have a good memory of the holiday (and you!) and you have a legitimate reason to avoid the parts of the game that you don’t like.


Stop keeping score. You cannot outwit the cousin who has a triple major in English, philosophy, and ecology, plus a law degree. Just listen to him and nod. He will tire of baiting you and move on to his next victim which is a small victory for you. Don’t engage in the minor conflicts as to who got the best deal on shoes or a sofa. Again, just listen and nod and perhaps learn about a new shopping site. Another small win. When asked about your weight or lack thereof, or a possible marriage, or a potential pregnancy, simply say “I am happy now”. Whether it is 100% true or not, if you stop at that statement you will win that match. If pressed to comment, more – turn the tables – ask with a smile “Are you happy?”

Share your family feuds! Comment below.

Listen and learn

Your advisor told you to update your resume. He didn’t mean just change the color. Get help if necessary, but craft a polished, legible, accurate, scan-worthy, e-mailable, honest, paper-based resumé. It won’t guarantee a job, but it may get you in the door for an interview. There are some free sources for resumé-writing assistance, such as a school you recently attended or a literate, working friend. There are also paid services that will analyze or even fully re-write your current resume. Choose a path and get that resumé redone.

You asked for advice from a trusted source about how to get a job. You were given good advice. You didn’t follow it. Why? Because you didn’t really listen and learn. You turned off your ears as soon as he told you to re-write your resumé. You really shut down when he mentioned changing your hair or clothes or Instagram. Maybe you should replay that conversation because last time you checked you didn’t have a job yet.

The advice to redo your resumé was not unexpected and you didn’t take it personally as you already knew your paperwork needed an update. However, you were taken off guard and a tad hurt when your mentor suggested you change your appearance. You spend a lot of money on your hair and feel that it expresses who you are whether it is green or in dreadlocks or not there on purpose. One’s hair does usually express a lot about the person wearing it which can be a problem when you are looking for a job. For instance, you have an interview with a middle-aged woman who has a son with green hair who is also looking for a job. She has begged her son to change his hair color thinking that it would better his chances for employment. Now she has a tale to tell him about how she wouldn’t think of hiring a green-haired person like the one she interviewed today. That would be you.

Perhaps this tale is silly, but it has a kernel of truth. People who interview others for jobs have their own set of biases and whether those biases are illogical or inappropriate is beside the point. The interviewer’s biases exist and they may interfere with you getting a job. When you are looking for a job, try to diminish any biases that the interviewer might hold against you, like your hair, the way you dress, even the way you sit. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your personality or values, you just have to lessen their effects while you are job hunting.

So, turn your brain on and review that conversation you had about what you need to do to improve your chances of getting a job, then do what you were told.