Search Term Bingo.

6 Sep

So one of my favorite things to do (because I’m lame and have no life) is to look through the various search terms that bring people to my sites. Why? That’s a damned good question considering most of the things I find make me scratch my head and go BUT WHY PEOPLE, WHY. Half of the fun is trying to figure out what post generated the hit in the first place. Sometimes? It’s nigh impossible to fathom. Best I can come up with is we swear so much that the word “fucking” has become one of our biggest draws.

And with it there are problems, people.

Today, I wanted to share some of the /gems/ of recent history – if by gems I mean “DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP.”

Search Term: lolboobs gif
Site: Divas

Well. I feel that I can help with this one. Are you ready?

There. Don’t we all feel better?

Search Term: you need to write your shoe size (just the number) followed by the word ‘inches’ and how long it takes to do your hair in minutes
Site: Divas

See, this is one of those stupid Facebook games. If you haven’t read Anna’s post about why the newest “breast cancer awareness” game on FB is shit, I recommend you check it out.

Search Term: tomb raider tits
Site: Divas

The whole GAME is tits, people. C’mon, really? Maybe you’d be better searching for “tomb raider nipples” because, well, last I checked they still hadn’t shown a single areola. Goddamned game developers better get on it! Gamers need their pron!

Search Term: erotica romance older woman her son
Site: Divas

So yeah, remember when I said I couldn’t figure out which post correlated to our search term bingo? I’m really lost on this one. Last I checked none of the divas have written incest porn. Best I can come up with is Falconesse’s little rant about Lupin and Snape porn. You know the one . . . with mention of the engorged purple love-tool.

This is why we can’t have nice things, Falconesse.

Search Term: “she-ra” tentacle wrap lips
Site: Divas

Welp! Up to this point in my life I had never pictured She-Ra giving fellatio to a tentacle. Thanks to the internet, now I have. Now you have, too. I’m sure there’s a picture of this somewhere, but damned if I’m going to Google image search this puppy. Mostly to preserve my goddamned sanity, thanks. She-Ra was a childhood hero. No tentacles should go near or around her perfect Princess of Power self.

Search Term: i’m 19 years old boy .i want have sex at suzie kennedy .
Site: Divas

At her? Like, does this mean you grab a girl, slap her down on the ground, and go at it while Suzie Kennedy stares on in A) horror B) fascination or C) unbridled lust? Or is Suzie Kennedy a place I don’t know about? “Hey baby, let’s go rollerskating at Suzie Kennedy. I heard all the cool kids are getting their hump on in the bathroom. Doesn’t that sound sexy? A little roller skating la la? Aww yeah.”

Search Term: my husband is always on the playstation and netflix
Site: Divas

Dear lady with a husband always on the PlayStation or Netflix,

There are a few options open to you at this time.

Step One: Have a conversation with him regarding his rampant use of said electronics. Tell him his use bothers you and have a dialogue about things you can do together. If this doesn’t work, proceed to Step Two.

Step Two: Unplug the machine while he’s playing it and insist that you REALLY MEANT IT when you said that he spent too much time ignoring you. If he gets angry, point out that you’ve had this conversation and he hasn’t changed his Netflix watching ways. If this doesn’t work, proceed to Step Three.

Step Three: Buy your own electronics. The vibrating kind. Have lots of sex with them instead of him. If he’s fine with being second fiddle and you’re not okay with the arrangement, proceed to Step Four.

Step Four: Light the PlayStation — and possibly the husband — on fire. Bet that’ll get his fucking attention!

Yours,

Hillary

Search Term: lady use soap for fuck
Site: Divas

I bet you didn’t think your post about the best soap ever would inspire people to want to see women actually shoving bars of soap into their wahoos, Anna. BUT LOOK. IT HAS.

Search Term: sex gay sex movies gay pron sex gay
Site: Divas

I’m actually not sure what you’re after here, searcher. You weren’t really clear with your interests. Could you maybe reword this in such a way that we can better help you? The ladies at the Divas are helpers, after all. We like to help. So clarify a little more and perhaps our friendly readers would be willing to put some link suggestions in the comments!

Search Term: why being a scientist sucks
Site: Divas

You know, I wish I had something witty to say here, but I don’t. This question fascinates me, though. Why DOES being a scientist suck? Long hours? Bad benefits? Short pay? But . . . but . . . you’re a scientist. You can build things stronger, better, faster. You can make the Incredible Hulk. HOW COULD THIS POSSIBLY SUCK?

Search Term: how to lose weight with poly yeti ovarian disease
Site: hillarymonahan.com

The first problem, as I see it, is you’re a yeti. And yetis are a bit bulkier, ma’am. Furrier, wider through the hips and chest. Make sure before you embark on a yeti diet regime you have reasonable expectations of healthy yeti weight control. Maybe eat a few less bears, add more people into your diet. As for exercise, might I recommend terrorizing a small village or two? Running after the terrified villagers has to burn a few hundred calories. Oh and more whole grains, too!

Search Term: coffee, sex and throw snot trigger stroke
Site: hillarymonahan.com

You had me with the coffee and the sex. In fact, I was all on board with your plan. Then you started talking about projectile snots and I kinda fell off the bandwagon. That’s pretty nasty right there. Did you build a snot trebuchet? Or maybe you have a slingshot. And where does the stroking come in?

. . . wait, don’t answer that.

Search Term: story on suppose an spaceship has landed near your house . what was a reaction to if?
Site: hillarymonahan.com

I don’t know what story you’re looking for, internet person, but I can tell you that the reaction to a spaceship landing near you house should be something like “OH FUCK THERE’S ALIENS AND WE ALL GONNA DIIIIIE.” You should say this loudly, and maybe with tears on your cheeks. I ‘d also suggest you invest in some iron underwear so you can avoid the anal probes.

Search Term: hey fuckos
Site: hillarymonahan.com

To the person that typed in “hey fuckos” on an internet search engine, I salute you. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of your search.

Search Term: hillarys murder
Site: hillarymonahan.com

Whoa, whoa. Put down the wood chipper. We can talk this through. No need to get . . . no, no abandon the angry wolverine. And the steak knife.

Wait. You meant the Secretary of State? Oh, well. She has secret service for a reason. Carry on, then. I suggest you keep googling “Hillary’s Murder” if you want to meet them in person. They might have some questions for you, though.

Search Term: giant flapping asshole
Site: hillarymonahan.com

Oh! Oh I can help with this one!

(A little political? Yes, but to be fair, most conservatives I know aren’t fans either.)

Search Term: i want my wenis to grow so much that it can reach my but and mouth
Site: hillarymonahan.com

Uhhh. Well. We all need goals. And in this case your goal is . . . kinda lofty, yeah, but . . . maybe . . . I got nothing. I really got nothing. God help me, I have no fucking clue what to say right now.

Search Term: m gonna be straightforward with you bitch. get the fuck over it putting me down makes you happier but laughing at you in your face pisses you off even more. you can’t fuck with me now cause im living life to the fullest until the day i die. hope you remember me for who i am.
Site: hillarymonahan.com

YOU GO, GIRL. SIR. GIRLSIR.

And, in closing (because it probably made me laugh/stare the longest)

Search Term: georgia congressman discusses beastality/watermellon
Site: hillarymonahan.com

I really don’t think I need to say /shit/ about that one. Do I?

Plus what?

6 Sep

So Google+ is this new shiny thing, that’s not really like Facebook or Twitter but has elements similar to both, and integrates into the Google Suite of products.

I got a beta invite, and after trying it out for awhile, I thought it was pretty cool. Cool enough that I wanted to use it with my blogging friends and gaming friends and other internetty types.

Problem? My usual email address contains my real name. (Which isn’t Anna, but might as well be, since there are a vastly larger number of people that know me as Anna than as my real name)

So after thinking about it for awhile, going back and forth, and weighing options, I decided to make a new email address specifically for G+, thinking that way I could be Anna on G+ and just forward everything from my regular email into the new one.

Justoneanna at gmail dot com was born, and I put all my friends through a profile switch on google chat, my primary chat program these days.

And then the ‘Nym wars started.

See, Google at the beginning wasn’t as … vocal… about their naming policy, which includes a clause that restricts use of pseudonyms. By “restricts”, it turns out they mean “will ban your account unless you change it to your real name and provide proof of ID that it’s your “real” name”.

If your real name doesn’t comply with what Google determines is an acceptable real name, sucks to be you (even if you’re a tech blogger who has given two conferences at Google’s headquarters). Of course, if you’re famous, like Lady Gaga, you get to keep your pseudonym. But little old me? My name isn’t really Anna.

Of course, my pseudonym is an acceptable, westernized name using the Latin alphabet and following a standard format. Which adds another monkey wrench into the system.

See, Google swears up and down that using “real names” is to prevent spam and trolling. To my eyes, that’s kind of not that useful. I can create an account under the name Christopher Harmon (a name I just made up out of my head), and spam away, never flagged by the Google Pseudonym Police, because my name appears to comply with the system.

Not to mention that the two creepy internet stalkers that have made my life miserable in the past did so under their real, legal names.

On the other hand, outing real names is notably unsafe for a lot of people. I don’t use my real name publicly on the internet because of said creepy stalkers. I also have the freedom of talking about my mental health issues without, say, a future boss coming across it.  And I’m not the only person who noticed that using my real name seemed to be a lot better for Google and their datamining than it did for me. There’s nothing that comes from people online knowing my real name that they can’t do with me as Anna.

A “real name” policy doesn’t just harm people who want to protect their real lives from inappropriate online intrusions. In fact, it harms a lot of people.

Writing Life

5 Sep

Well, I hate to say I told me so, Self. But, clearly, I was right all along.

I was right at 16, when I told my father that, instead of going to college, I wanted to sit in an apartment for a year and write about the insanity that had been our family life. Sort it all out.

I was right at 19 when I dropped out of the school he had me go to, because no instructor there had an interest in exploring the value of stories with me.

I was right at 22. When I entered a new college to pursue studies in the power stories have over us: how storytelling shapes who we are.

I was right at 25, when I told my sudden child that nothing was more powerful than the story he told himself about who he was. And that nobody could take that story away from him.

And I was right in securing this house for myself this year, when the call to tell my OWN story got so strong that I knew I simply can’t do anything else until it’s out, out of my head on onto paper: no EMS job, no travel writing, no 911 call center position.

Until I know who I am, I have no idea what I should be doing: what I want to be doing.

And how am I supposed to learn who I am…

…until I learn where and who I’ve been?

And why?

* * * * *

“The world is too much with us; late and soon”, indeed.

Like Wordsworth cautions against, I’ve been focused too much on the material and tangible; on the social politics of the environments I’ve landed in. And not nearly focused enough on my own joy, and what feeds this.

And the forehead-smacking thing of it is: if I HAD only been focused on my own joy, instead of, well. Being afraid.

Afraid that I couldn’t make it without the friendship of others. Afraid of what others thought of me. Afraid that, without others, I’d be revealed as the nothing I’ve always been afraid I am.

Afraid that, if I fall into my writing, I’ll fall into depression as well, and never make it back out.

If, instead of being afraid, and allowing fear to feed off of me, I had instead fed my own joy…

…that joy would have been feeding others this whole time, in the forms of inspirational writings and images I would have created.

Hell, the bloody desk clerk at the YMCA told me yesterday, “Lawdy, if you can make me laugh this much just standing here with me for ten minutes, I would love to read your writing every day. I could use some uplift like that, and I mean daily!”

By doing right for myself, I would have been doing good for others.

Why, in all the arguments with myself that I’ve had, about how a writing life is an unstable life, have I never totaled up all the benefits to others that writing, and reaching out that way, can accomplish?

Whereas my continued fear and stiflement are benefitting nobody.

Me, most especially.

* * * * *

At my school — which I attended because, there, one can kluge together one’s own major — I studied narrative therapy, and graphic novels, and mythology and religion, and 2D art, and abnormal psychology. I studied marketing and hypnosis and sociology.

I learned how plot gives a timed structure to events, how memory forms personality, how metastories shape a culture or a people the same way that the stories we each tell ourselves shape our self-perception.

I learned how images inform the subconscious directly, bypassing the logical mental centers. I learned how best to arrange pleasing images on a page to influence minds the most effectively. I learned how stories and artworks influence a brain, and how one brain can influence many.

I learned the necessity to an individual of telling their story and asserting who they are — especially when that story, and therefore, individual, is actively being hijacked by others’ tellings and counter-interpretations.

I learned the necessity to a community of every constituent’s stories — told their own way — being heard and valued.

I learned that what I most needed to do — for me — was exactly what my community needed from me.

Storytelling.

* * * * *

And then I left school and my man and my town and my state and forgot every damned piece of what I’d learned.

* * * * *

Or did I?

* * * * *

In my two years in Georgia, I’ve bounced from living with a cartoonist to a paramedic to a Red Cross worker to a Catholic bachelor to a mechanic.

And the cartoonist was interested only in her own stories, and her only community was fans: no peers.

And the paramedic kept all his stories to himself, until even his family couldn’t connect with him, and he nearly lost his most precious community.

The Red Cross worker was a master of listening, with honest care, to everyone’s stories. And everyone loved and felt at-ease with him therefore, and he was excellent at his job thereby — a job helping his community.

And the Catholic bachelor interpreted, in his own bitter image, the Story of his one Good Book, and told everyone the story of how their lives, were in perpetual error when judged by him against his Book. For which he became ostracized from his community.

Then I came to this neighborhood and lived with myself. And through sharing stories AND deliberately making new ones with them, I’ve built a community. Where, before, there were only fractured ties and dissent.

* * * * *

So, have I, in truth, forgotten everything I learned?

Or have I spent two years in the field, as it were, proving it all?

Only by writing will I determine which.

And writing, for these remaining four months of my lease, is the lion’s share of what I’m planning to do.

How To Caramelize Onions

4 Sep

Okay, this seems really obvious, but it took me forever to learn how to do it properly.

Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • Sweet onions (any kind, really, but if they’re labeled “sweet” they’re probably a cut above the rest)
  • 1 T olive oil (or please-don’t-burn-stir-fry grease of choice)
  • Salt

Directions

Cut the onions* however you like. I love onions, so I do a lot of onion here. I like big red onions. Not only are larger onions a little sweeter than their smaller brethren, red onions are just plain prettier. YMMV.

Get out a large pan with tall sides. You want as much surface area as you can wrangle, so the onions cook more evenly. Heat pan over medium/low heat. (I’m talking 3, assuming 5 is your medium). The key is LOW heat, here. We are not frying these onions.

Add oil to warm pan. Allow oil to warm if you’re patient, or squish the first three steps into one if you’re me.

Add onions to pan.

Lid the pan, stirring frequently until onions not only turn into something that looks like it could be used as a prop on a slimy alien horror movie, but it’s also starting to turn a little golden/brown in color.

This should take anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes. If you hear SIZZLE, it’s too hot. Steam without sizzle is the key.

What can you DO with caramelized onions?

My favorite is to mix it in with some rough-mashed potatoes (a mixture of the little golden taters and the waxier little red taters). Salt, pepper, and onions is all you need and it’s GORGEOUS.

Carmelized onions are ALSO awesome on sandwiches. I see it paired with beef pretty often, and if you’ve got a little RockNRolla Gorgonzola cheese to add, so much the better.

They’re good in omelets or salads.

They are ALSO amazing right out of the pan, but not everyone loves onion as much as I do.

*Bonus How To Cut An Onion

I didn’t know how to do this for AGES, so apologies to everyone looking at this and privately judging me for thinking this was blog-worthy. SOME of us were raised on frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese, and had to pick up vegetable-related skills as an adult.

Right, onion cutting.

  • First thing I do is cut the onion in half, from stem to stern (in other words, not around the belly).
  • Next, lay each half flat-side down on the cutting board and dock the “tail” back to the bell of the onion. Discard cut off bits.
  • Peel the outermost layers off the onion. If it’s rubbery or papery, it’s no good. Sometimes I get lazy and peel off one layer of GOOD onion and discard that along with the rest. (I use BIG onions, so it’s no like I’m losing much here, Judgey McJudgersons!)
  • Next is the fun part. If you are cutting STRIPS of onion, just turn the onion so that the flat area where the tail used to be is parallel with your knife, and cut thin slabs out of the face of the onion until you reach the stubby core on the other side. Separate the strips by hand.
  • If you are dicing or chopping the onion, turn the onion the other way (with the stubby core on top) and cut guidelines from core to flat area, making sure to leave the core portion of the cut still attached (kind of like your fingers are attached to your hand).  After that, turn the onion sideways and cut in the strips method above. The result will be that each “strip” is pre-cut along the diagonal already, netting you neat little cubes of onion based on the distance between your cuts.

This method is SUPER FAST and gives really great results.

It would also look better if I took pictures and posted them, but this is why my career as a food blogger never quite got off the ground.

I love to cook, but I don’t love to stop and arrange well-lit pictures OR upload said pictures for use later.

Also, don’t cut your fingers when dicing your onion. And you might want to wear protective headgear because onions are the most tragic of all the vegetables.

If you plan ahead, you can put the onion in the freezer for like ten minutes before you plan on chopping it, thus negating most of the tear-gas effect of fresh-cut onions. If you are me, you never really plan ahead, you just make with the chopping and the sobbing.

What about the Colons?

2 Sep

So at some point, some person of probably not very many brains decided that for Breast Cancer Awareness, women on facebook should post a status update with just the color of their bra. “Pink” “Beige” “Flowery” or whatever. This was supposed to utterly confuse and confound all the manz and somehow raise awareness of breast cancer. I’m not sure it did much good, and largely was a bunch of women giggling about how clever they are to post random colors in their facebooks as a way to “confuse the silly men”.

(What confusing the silly menz has to do with breast cancer I’ll never know, it all seems like a big attention whoring stunt to me.)

(Also ALSO, men get breast cancer too, and often can’t get care for it because they don’t have the boobies, so maybe we should be including them in this awareness thing too?)

The next year it was about purses and was even dumber. This one was also suggestive sounding and didn’t have anything even remotely to do with breast cancer. In fact, it was pointless as such. At least bras have boobs in them.

This year, I got the following note:

k ladies it’s that time of year again, in support of breast cancer awareness!! So we all remember last years game of writing your bra color as your status?…..or the way we like to have our handbag handy? Well this year, it’s slightly different. You need to write your shoe size,( just the number) followed by the word ‘inches’ and how long it takes to do your hair… Remember last year so many people took part it made national news and, the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness!! (eg 5 inches, 10 minutes) DO NOT TELL any males what the status’ mean, keep them guessing!! And please copy and paste (in a message )this to all your female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year!!! I did my part… now YOUR turn ! Go on ladies…and let’s have all the men guessing ! xxxxx

And I rolled my eyes so hard that they hurt.

No shit guys, making status updates that are cryptically sexy is going to get attention… because it’s about cryptic sexiness, not because it’s supporting breast cancer. It’s like putting a stupid little pink bow on a box of condoms and saying they’re breast cancer condoms.

That’s called pinkwashing, by the way.

But as usual, I opted not to be Queen Douche of Cunt Mountain and didn’t post a ranting screed on my facebook page, even when “7 inches, 10 minutes” started showing up in my facebook feed.

Then?

Then it got ugly.

Then I got the following note:

It’s that time of year again in support of Breast Cancer Awareness! We all remember last years game of writing your bra color as your status? or the way we like to have our handbag handy?

Remember last year so many people took part that it made national news and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness!

DO NOT tell any males what the status’ mean, keep them guessing And please Broadcast this to all ur female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year

I did my part… So now its YOUR turn!

The idea is to choose the month You were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the girls only and lets see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went round the world.

So you’ll write… I’m (your birth month) weeks and I’m craving (your birth date) !!! as your status

Example: Feb 14th= I’m 2 weeks and craving Choclolate mints!!

January-1week
Febuary-2weeks
March-3weeks
April-4weeks
May-6weeks
June-8weeks
July-10weeks
August-12weeks
September-13weeks
October-14weeks
November-16weeks
December-18weeks

Days of the month:

1- Skittles
2- Starburst
3- Kit-Kat
4- M&M’s
5- Tomatoes
6- Ice Cream
7- Dairy Milk
8- Lollipop
9- Peanut Butter Cups
10- Meat Balls
11- Twizzlers
12- Bubble Gum
13- Hershey’s Kisses
14- Chocolate Mints
15- Twix
16- Cheese
17- Fudge
18- Cherry Jello
19- Banana’s
20- Pickels
21- Chicken Wings
22- Skittles
23- Gummy Bears
24- Gummy Worms
25- Strawberry Pop Tarts
26- Starburst
27- Mini Eggs
28- Kit-Kat Chunkie
29- Double Chocolate Chip Chrunchy Cookies 30- Smarties
31- Chocolate Cake

Have Fun!

Ok, What?

I’m supposed to PRETEND TO BE PREGNANT, so that I can … support breast cancer? The hell? That doesn’t make any sense. Also, you can’t be 1 week pregnant (and know about it).

AND?

The part that really just burns the fuck out of my toast?

People who have breast cancer, and get chemo, often suffer from infertility.

How awesome do you think it makes them feel to see the other women on facebook making fun of pregnancy ha ha look I got your attention about nothing? Not to mention the 1 in 6 couples in the US that struggle with infertility? Or the 1 in 4 pregnancies that ends in misccariage?

Oh wait, you didn’t mean to be a douchecanoe? Well, grats, you kinda did anyway.

Also, you did absolutely nothing to support breast cancer. Nobody reading your status will be more educated or have more outlets to donate to research or anything remotely useful.

As an aside, breast cancer gets a TON of press these days. There’s pink fucking KITCHEN UTENSILS that are supposed to support Breast Cancer. Right. (Pinkwashing again. They do it with teddybears too)

So, here’s some trivia for you:

What is the #1 killer of women in the United States?

Here’s a hint, it’s not breast cancer.

It’s heart disease. #2 is ALL CANCER COMBINED. #3 is Stroke.

Colon cancer and ovarian cancers are both hugely deadly. In fact, breast cancer, thanks to all of the research and publicity, has one of the best long term prognoses for survivors, especially when caught early. The same isn’t always true of other cancers.

Why aren’t we talking about saving the hearts? Or the ovaries? Or the colons? Maybe because those aren’t as sexy as boobs. Maybe because they can’t be sexualized and objectified in a way that uses pictures of bulging cleavage and status updates about the color of our bras (tee hee, we’re so sneaky!)

And maybe I’m a little bitter, and a little angry.

But I really think this is all ridiculous.

If you want to support breast cancer – POST ABOUT BREAST CANCER. It means a whole lot more to hear “I knew SuchandSuch Person with cancer, and she’s a fighter and a survivor, and lived for X years” and then post a link to the American Cancer Society.

Don’t belittle the infertility struggles of actual breast cancer survivors and many many others with a ridiculous post that makes your friends think you’re pregnant, as if that’s some kind of thing everyone wants.

“Just kidding! I wanted to tell you about breast cancer awareness” is an extra step that nobody needs. Just post about cancer, and leave game playing to game playing.

I don’t care a whit if you want to post about how many tampons you use in a month and the color of your armpit hair. Trying to tie it in a cheeky, useless manner to an actual serious problem is stupid and solves nothing.

And if you want to raise awareness about a serious problem, maybe pick something other than breasts.

Drive Like an Asshole

1 Sep

[[It's another busy week in Bika Land. I regret that I did not have time to doodle illustrations for this post, so please do me a favor and imagine a lot of MS-paint style drawings of cars and stick figures with extended middle fingers. Thanks!]]

Winning

The most important thing to remember when you’re on the highway is that driving is a competition. The most straightforward way to win is to maintain control of the leftmost, or fastest lane. Moving to the right for any reason other than to perform a last-second highway exit is a sign of weakness.

How do you know you’re winning? Look to your left. Is there a lane? Move into it. Repeat as necessary until you are in the fastest lane. Protip: Using your turn signal while Winning is also a sign of weakness. Avoid using them at all costs or the other drivers on the road WILL laugh at you.

It is not necessary or even desirable to be the fastest car. What’s important is only that you are in the fastest lane. In fact, it’s dangerous to go over the speed limit, so you should keep 1-2 mph under unless it begins to rain. Rainwater cushions the air and makes it safe to add 20+ mph to your maximum speed.

BFFs: Winning ALL the Lanes

A variation of Winning, the BFF is one of the few maneuvers that can elevate a right-lane driver to a Win. There’s something magnetic about a bluehair chugging along in the slow lane, unable or unwilling to push the speedometer over 45. If you knew what pity was, you might feel it for the slow car; content yourself by matching speeds with your new best friend and creating an effective passing block. If you control the left lane and there is no one in front of you, you are the winner. Your new BFF is a free ticket to a long-term Win.

Style points: Finesse Maneuvers

Once you’ve mastered Winning, there are several optional tactics you can try, either singly or in combination. A well-played traffic combo can earn you a technical win with far more flair than a straightforward leftward lane-change.

Cuddlebots

Any vehicles that maintain 0.7 car lengths or more between themselves are signaling a Cuddlebot maneuver. Move into that empty space and fill the void in their big greasy machine hearts–be the cheese in their sandwich, the creme filling in their cookie.

Clipper

Don’t get right-lane cooties if you can avoid it. At highway exits, cut across the right lane(s) at the last possible second. Multiply points by the number of lanes crossed at once; triple points for clipping the front bumper of a right-lane vehicle as you cut them off.

The Moses

When there are exactly three lanes, forgo the Win by camping the center lane. Lock your cruise control in at 15 mph below the speed limit and watch as traffic parts around you like the Red Sea. Variation: On two-lane highways, drive in the median. Turn signal use is optional–keeping other vehicles on their toes is a critical part of Winning at traffic.

What I’m not eating anymore

1 Sep

Food is such a weird subject sometimes. It’s hard to keep what you’re eating straight most of the time, between all the pseudo news science and fad diets, organic versus local versus whatever you can afford, food allergies and new labels and what the hell is a Xanthan anyway, and why is it gummy?

Labels on food have been kind of eyeroll-inducing for awhile, but it seems to be getting worse lately. I’ve seen trans-fat free labels on blueberries and fat free stickers on bananas, gluten free vegetables – and that’s just the produce department. Packaged foods are now telling me how many grams of whole grain are in them, even going so far as to sell sweetened, packaged, enriched bleached flour children’s cereal as “part of a healthy breakfast” because they have “whole grains”.

So perhaps it’s not so strange that I’d eyeroll at all those labels and ignore them, cracking it all up to food fads and secretly making sarcastic remarks in my head.

(This is where I’d do a cool segue if I could think of one, and it would be sophisticated and thoughtful and you’d all love me for my transitional abilities. But I can’t think of one. So.

Segues are for suckers.)

Approximately one week ago, I finally got something resembling a diagnosis for my chronic pain, fatigue, and other issues. One of those issues is a tummy issue, and I’ll avoid TMI’ing you overmuch, but let’s just say that my system worked overtime, all the time, and I’d be running to the bathroom 4-6 times a day on a normal day. Which is pretty disrupting, all things considered, especially when you can’t move very fast because your joints hurt.

SO.

Doctor put me on new medication, told me I have to swim several times a week, gave me a bunch of activity restrictions… and told me to go gluten free for 3 months.

Three months, no gluten AT ALL. Not “a little bit every now and then”. Not “if you feel better you can cheat a little”.

None.

I woke up last Thursday morning and went through my pantry, trying to figure out what I could eat. I literally had NO IDEA where to start. Even as someone who eats a lot of whole foods, I couldn’t eat any of my breakfast staples – no oatmeal, no granola bars, no cereal, no multi-grain muffins.

I ended up eating a banana and an egg.

Friday, I went grocery shopping, and I found myself feeling kind of like an asshole about rolling my eyes at the gluten free labels.

Maybe not on the strawberries (no duh?), but on packaged goods? All of a sudden I was floundering like an idiot, thrown head first into this exclusion diet where nearly every packaged item we eat contains gluten (anything with soy sauce, anything with MSG, anything with maltodextrin or malt sweeteners, anything that uses a food starch anti-caking agent for those anonymous “spices”).

Those “Gluten Free!” labels became a little lifeline, a little sanity break that meant I didn’t have to grill my brain to remember which of the various ingredients might have gluten, or be processed in such a way as to be easily contaminated with gluten (like white vinegar).

So far I’m not sure what to think of eating gluten free. It’s a huge mental process, and I seem to vacillate between “I can do this”, “I will never be able to eat anything again”, and “Why am I bothering?”

I definitely don’t roll my eyes at the Gluten Free labels anymore.

Though I do still make snide remarks in my head about trans-fat free blueberries…

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