It’s Raining Ramen

There’s something to be said for knowing how to do things yourself. You know, not just knowing how to sharpen your kitchen knives, catch a moose, house-train said moose, make the moose your friend … you know, as one does, but things like knowing how to iron a shirt, sew a button, change a fuse. Especially in this day and age, when everything is Googleable and we’re all carrying in our pockets these little crystal balls we call smart phones.

No longer do we need to memorize exactly how to house-train a moose. And if you find yourself one day lost in the middle of the woods in the night, starving, drenched in the rain, your feet squelching through the mud, and you do find a moose (no, really, bear with me here) you can whip out that trusty smart phone and ask it “How do I catch moose” and sure enough, you’ll find a YouTube video tutorial explaining the entire process. You can then ride the moose home. Provided that you’ve mastered the “make the moose your friend” step. That part is crucial.

That’s where technology might come in handy. Assuming of course, that you have a waterproof phone and battery and an actual moose.

As for deliberately getting lost? Hmmm … just don’t look at your phone. Easy-peasy, trust me.

Sometimes though, I wonder if we’ve gone too far in turning to YouTube for all our DIY needs. I mean, where do we draw the line?  You might have seen, for example, videos of people fixing things with Ramen noodles. Dry Ramen noodles, that is. Not cooked ones. That would just be gross, and I imagine, incredibly difficult. But seriously, repairs are being made with dry Ramen noodles. Tables, chairs, kitchen sinks, toilet bowls, you name it … apparently, it can all be fixed with Ramen noodles.

Yes, everything.

What kind of a spoiled, entitled society have we become where we actually use the things we’re supposed to eat to fix the things we now use to dispose of the things we eat? This is just getting silly, if you ask me.

Ramen noodles are meant to be eaten. Aren’t they? Right? I mean, I think we can all agree on that, yeah? At least that’s what I grew up believing. So what if they’re not good for you. They’re still a food product. Not a DIY repair-all tool.

Yet, here we are, browsing the interwebs, watching videos of people using noodles to fix everything, and it makes you wonder … how do the noodles feel about this? If I were a noodle, I’d be downright offended. Something dating back to China’s East Han Dynasty sometime between A.D. 25 and 220 deserves a bit more respect than ending up as part of your toilet.

My point is, are we just that bored? Are we really so desperate for novelty that we’ll actually use noodles for fixing tables and toilets? The answer is apparently a resounding “yes.”  Along with a shit ton of professional-grade solvents! Can’t imagine that’s good for us or the environment.

Seriously though. Noodles?

No, I don’t want green Ramen and ham.

And I don’t want Ramen noodle chairs either, Sam I Am.

What’s next? People will be asking you if you want your Ramen soup on a Ramen table in a Ramen bowl?

“And where’s the toilet?” you’ll ask. “Oh, the Ramen toilet?” they’ll reply. “Down the Ramen hall and on the Ramen right.”

You may as well be in a Ramen boat with a Ramen fox eating green eggs and ham (because of course, there’ll be no Ramen left to actually eat, everyone’s using it to fix things).

So how do you fix a table or a toilet without ramen noodles? Ahhh … therein lies the problem. You see, no one knows anymore. We’ve all been turning to YouTube for anything and everything for so long that we now just trust it blindly.

But listen, this where it backfires.

Have you heard of something called ants? What about roaches? Wasps? Weevils by any chance?  Before you go fixing everything around your house with Ramen noodles, just remember: there are plenty of creatures in the world that still like to eat Ramen noodles whether you’ve glued them onto your bathroom sink or not.

One day, you might just come home to find a moose in your bathroom eating your toilet bowl. And you haven’t even gotten to the YouTube video series “Make that Moose Your Friend” yet, so basically, you’re screwed.

No. It stops here, I tell you. Just eat your freakin’ Ramen noodles.

And call the plumber already. The toilet’s leaking.

Please.

Laborious Labor Day

Labor Day here in the U.S. is on Monday… but gluttons that we are, many Americans tend to start celebrating sometime late on Friday.  Keeping that in mind, I want to wish all of my U.S. followers a very happy, enjoyable, and peaceful Labor Day weekend.

Now with that said, I must confess that Labor Day is one of those holidays that has always confused me… mainly for its contradictory nature.

I mean on Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and gift them with the present of doing nothing all day (not that many mothers get away with actually using the gift).  Father’s Day is the same way. We encourage fathers to do “their own thing” on their special day. The effects of most holidays coincide with the original purpose behind said holiday.

But not so Labor Day.

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Now, one would think from this description that workers should have the day off to relax and reap the rewards of the labor they’ve given to their employers and to society as a whole. And indeed, many employees do in fact have the day off. However, many of the hardest working people do not. On this day of celebrating their contribution to the world as we know it and to the workforce in general, they are instead forced to work.

Retail workers bear the brunt, just as they do at Thanksgiving and Christmas, given all of the sales that crop up on Labor Day. But they’re by no means the only ones. Military, police officers, firemen, food service, paramedics, convenience store workers, gas station attendants, all manner of hospital employees… to name a few.  And yes, many of these good people are essential personnel and life is much better and much safer (for the rest of us) with them in their respective jobs, even on holidays, and God love them for it. Others not so much. Retail, food service, convenience stores, grocery stores… there’s no reason to not let these people enjoy a much deserved day off except… except… that it cuts into profit.

So when all is said and done, Labor Day has been turned into a perverse contradiction of its original meaning and rather than truly celebrating the worker, it has devolved into just another way to take advantage of those who cannot afford to lose their jobs by protesting a holiday shift.

Such is America.

click pic for origins of Labor Day (including quote above)

The Faults of Facebook

So, here lately, I’ve been thinking about Facebook and social media in general.  While an amazing feat of modern technology that allows news to spread in the blink of an eye, social media also has its pitfalls. There’s the obvious cyber-bullying issue… that’s too great of an issue to discuss in one blog entry. But there is something more insidious at work here. People get lost down the rabbit hole of social media never to return. My ex was – and remains – mired in the faux-emotional muck that is Facebook. The 5,000 close friends, the groups, the pages touting the benefits of the radical survivalist communes you long for (you know, as one does), all of it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my daily foray into Facebookland as much as the next person. It’s just that so many people are on Facebook and other social media, spending their time trying to impress (aka convince) an online audience that their life is perfect… to get the attention, the validation, and the “approval” they think they deserve.  Many of these rabbit hole divers have family or spouses or significant others at home who would love to be a part of that perfect life portrayed online, but are ignored … because, Facebook.

Some people use Facebook as a time-killer (that would be yours truly), but others live on it as a reality-killer. Or rather, a reality enhancer. It just boggles the mind, truth be told.

Generally speaking, Facebook posters fall into several broad categories.  We all know at least one from each.

The meme sharer:  Also reposts lost pet photos.  This is the person who has such a mixture of friends on Facebook that posting anything at all personally will offend at least a third of them, so they play it safe and post generic memes.  I would … ahem … likely fall into this category. I save my demented mental-meanderings for you, lovely readers!

The vague status: “I can’t believe it.  I’m so heartbroken.”  This generates a flurry of concerned responses from people far and wide, to which the next status update is “Thanks for all the concern, I’m so touched.  I just don’t want to talk about it.”  The obvious question would be, if you didn’t want to talk about it, why the hell did you post anything at all?

The perpetually sick person:  This is the person who posts every sniffle, papercut, broken fingernail or stomach cramp for the world to see.  And no matter how inane the medical “issue,” the support is overwhelming.  “Unreal. I have a hangnail (picture of offending hangnail covered under eight layers of bandages).  And the comments roll in. “Oh, no! (sad emoji) Feel better soon!” “I’m so sorry! (sad emoji) I hope it clears up soon!”

The knower of a perpetually sick person:  “Prayers, please.  My friend has a hangnail.  It doesn’t look good (sad emoji).”

The offender:  Posts deliberately annoying and offensive comments just to get notifications on his phone.  “Clean air is stupid.” “Drinkable water is overrated.” At some point, this person will be placed in Facebook Jail for a week, unable to post, and then brag about it when he comes back.

The sharer of fake news:  No matter what your political beliefs are, fake news abounds.  The sharer of fake news will defend the most ridiculous and unsearched “news stories” as truth.  “Aliens landed in downtown Hollywood today and while wearing kilts and playing kazoos, they spirited away Grauman’s Chinese Theater! The. Entire. Theater. No, really, it’s true!”  Eventually someone will blow her out of the water with the definitive Snopes judgment, and then the circle begins anew as everyone debates whether Snopes is actually impartial.

Perpetual Optimist:  Just wrecked my car, but I saved my fuzzy dice! Life is GREAT!

Perpetual Pessimist:  Just won the lottery.  Great big gobs of money.  Life stinks.

The new reality for many is that social media has become their fountain of validation. They prefer the adulation of hundreds of friends acquaintances people they barely know to the love of their own family. I mean, really, with untold hours spent connected to the internet perfecting their online persona, who has time for loved ones?

I would say more on this, but I gotta go. My notifications just went off and it looks like my friend’s dog’s mother’s uncle has a sprained pinky toe. Boy, I sure hope he feels better soon.  (Sad emoji)

Rush Hour Skirmish

Some of those out there among us need to hear this. Consider it a public service announcement (you’re welcome). Turn signals are your friend. I know it might seem like it at times, but letting the rest of us know where you’re going and what you’re doing while putting on your breaks suddenly (for no apparent reason because, you know, turn signals) in a 65 mph zone is not sharing your plan of attack with the other side.

Oh, I can understand not wanting to fraternize with the enemy during rush hour traffic but think of this as more like an organized retreat with all sides taking part. We just want to get home. Just like you. We’d like to arrive home not in your backseat – our inevitable place in the world as you come to an almost complete stop while unexpectedly veering to the right towards that off-ramp, because again, you know, turn signals. I mean, that would be silly wouldn’t it? Because then, we’d be at your home, not our home. And where’s the fun in that? You don’t have my comfy jammies or my fluffy pillow or my favorite ice cream.

So, please. I’m begging you. Repeat after me. Turn. Signals. Are. Your. Friends.

Cats Rule, People Drool

Thousands of years ago, humans worshiped cats as Gods. They were carved into the sides of buildings, crafted in giant sculptures, and were even mummified. Much like the ancient Egyptians, modern humans forever enshrine their cats on social media videos for thousands of people to watch and enjoy around the world. Although, studies have shown that if domestic house cats were even a little bigger, they would kill you if they had the chance. Since cats are choosing not to murder us on a daily basis, I think we need to show them how much we really care. You know, as servants who are afraid of being killed in our sleep should do.

Cardboard Offerings

This one is a given. I mean, cats of all sizes – even wild cats, love a good box. Online shopping has made it easy for us to order cardboard boxes straight to our houses. I order stuff I don’t need just to have the box. After all, your cats don’t care what you’re ordering. They just want the box. It could even be a cat tree or scratching post… do they care? Nope. It’s the box they’re after. The minute you take the product out of the box, it is no longer yours. Kiss that box goodbye. A good cat servant has a cardboard box in every room so the cat always has a place to lie in wait for their next target (you… it’s you, you’re the target).

A View to a Kill

Cats love to be up high. Refrigerators, cabinets, bookshelves, dressers. They like to loiter in high places because they are natural predators. As hunters, they want to get the jump on anyone and everything, so they call dibs on all the high places in every room of the house. The problem with new cat owners servants is they think they should be allowed to put knick-knacks and other items in the very places that cats have called dibs.  I mean, really. What are they thinking? That they own the place or something?  Sheesh. Cats will just knock down whatever is in their way and use the place for a perching location. And look at their servant with disdain while doing so. The very idea of cluttering up my space with a 100-year-old depression glass basket. Well. I showed them the error of their ways. After they clean that up, they better get me some treats.  The thing is, you can either be proactive and install shelves up high, just for the cats to reenact their favorite scenes from The Lion King, or you can kiss your valuables goodbye.  You know what? Never mind. While I do suggest creating a play area accessible only to your cat, it won’t matter… they’ll still knock your stuff down. But at least they’ll have a place from which to look down and mock you as you get out the broom and dustpan. Again.

Preserved for Posterity

What better way to show your cat how important they are than recording everything they do? It’s also important to get plenty of evidence in case you do something wrong, so your cat is justified in their decision to pounce you one day and end your whole existence.

A Worthy Throne

Whether they like to admit it or not, cats do like to be near their person. If for no other reason, than to keep tabs on them (after all, you may decide to dig into the cat treats). Placing a shoebox near your workspace for your cat to sit in is a thoughtful gesture… and one that I’m sure the cat will appreciate as they lounge atop their true throne – aka your $5,000 printer – judging you.

Gifts to the Gods

Cats appreciate a servant that does their research… and homework. By sitting in front of our computer screens for hours on end, trying to figure out the 500 steps involved in creating the perfect DIY scratchers with catnip cubbyholes we plan to put in every room, we’re really just showing how much we care for our feline masters. We’re proving to them that we’re willing to go that extra mile. Of course, they’ll steadfastly eschew said DIY scratchers, regardless of how much sweat and blood (literally) we put into them, preferring instead to assert their reign by adding their loving touch to our furniture.

the queen at rest

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a cat person. I love cats, always have. But I understand they’re on a higher plane than the rest of us. Unlike dogs, cats do what they want. If they come when we call or go along with performing our silly little tricks, it’s only because they’re placating us … to give us a sense of value and significance.  In so doing, they assert control over us, not the other way around.

Have you ever taught a cat a trick and then tried to show off that trick in front of people only to be met with a look of bewilderment from your feline performer? You want me to do what?  You must be joking. What do you do? Of course. Give more treats in a desperate attempt to prove to your audience that the cat can, in fact, do said trick. This cycle continues, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, until the little fur-covered jerk cat becomes bored with their own game and refuses to do the trick even when you’re alone.

Yet you will continue plying the fickle feline with treats and praise and attention. And do you know why that is?  Because you’re the servant anxious to please your master. They’ve trained you well.  I mean, hey, I get it. I’m not judging. I have two of my own, and trust me, I spend my days making sure they are happy enough to not kill me in my sleep.

Some cats are cute, making us go awwww… some cats are beautiful and make us go… oooooo. Just never forget, they’re large and in charge and we are but humble domestics in their household.

Remembering When…

Nostalgia can be a bitch. I’ll just get that out there right now. Memories, especially those from childhood, can play with our minds.

Take Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia for example. Wow, what a segue, right? But it makes sense, trust me.

When I was a kid, my family visited Harper’s Ferry a few times. We liked it so much, we even took extended family members when they visited us.

Harper’s Ferry, for those who don’t know, is where John Brown had his fort and it was a key site in an 1859 abolitionist raid. It’s a historic park and while I haven’t been there recently to know if they still do this or not, back in the day, people could stroll through the town, visit decorated “shops” and businesses and homes that hearkened back to the town’s heyday, and watch reenactments of blacksmiths in historic garb fashioning something awesome, soap-makers/story-tellers creating soap in the same way they would in the 1800’s all while discussing the history of soap and the town, and people roasting peanuts.

My favorite was the freshly roasted peanuts. I remember burning my fingers on them because I had no patience whatsoever and wanted to eat them straight away.  You could have your picture taken in old-fashioned dress, with the picture itself made to look antique. There was even a nifty wax museum about John Brown.

In addition, and this part is spectacular, it’s home to The Point, a place where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, and while standing in West Virginia, you can see – quite clearly – Maryland and Virginia.

View of Harper’s Ferry (photo credit: Harper’s Ferry National Park) 

When I was a kid, there was a picnic area down by the river that ran through the town. My mother always brought fried chicken (and sandwiches, I think) and snacks and we’d go down there to have our lunch. While wading out into the water one time – I was young, that’s important to know – I walked into an unexpected dip in the riverbed and ended up in water up to my neck. Fun and games. Made my family laugh though as I spent the rest of the afternoon soaking wet.  Nowadays, that part is blocked off. I can’t imagine why. But you can’t get to the river from the public portion of the town anymore, and I found that disappointing.

Too many years ago, I took a trip to Harper’s Ferry with my kids. In my excited state of nostalgia, I reminisced and told them about some of my favorite memories there and all the cool things they were about to experience. I probably built it up more than I should have, but then again, in my mind, it couldn’t be built up enough… if that makes sense.

When we made it to the town proper, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t nearly as “grand” as I had remembered. It seemed “smaller” if that makes sense. Maybe that’s because I was “bigger.” It was certainly not the bustling hub of activity it had once been.  Whether due to budget cuts or lack of volunteers, there were no reenactors dressed in historical garb, there were no blacksmiths or storytellers.  It was too quiet. Too still.  History had come alive in Harper’s Ferry when I was a kid, and when I visited with my own children, it was a ghost town.

All I knew was that the view in my mind’s eye was at odds with my current surroundings. And I realized my mistake almost immediately… I had waited too long to bring my kids. This was confirmed by my children’s reaction – an utter lack of enthusiasm in the place I had talked up so much.

I started to ask myself a few of the more complex questions. Have times really changed that much over the years? Was I only in such awe of Harper’s Ferry as a child because we were simply more easily impressed then?

Oh, it’s easy to blame video games and a generation that favors a computer screen to The Point, but let’s be clear, society helped speed them on that path. Our society panders to the Gods of Technology and then has the audacity to complain when our kids are overly involved with electronics.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all this except to say once again, nostalgia is a bitch. But what do we do about that?

Maybe another visit to Harper’s Ferry is in order. It’s high time I gather my kids back home for a road trip. They can even drive so I can be the one to sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe now the view in my mind’s eye will win out. Or better yet, maybe there will be a new view altogether.