I'm Gonna Live Forever...

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I've never been interested in living longer. Better, yes. Healthier, of course. But not longer. Why? Because even as a kid I saw that all that scary shit from the dystopian sci-fi novels was slowly starting to come true. In the last few years this shift has ramped up considerably, to the point where I think the Thought Police are probably watching me chuckle over the many Trump memes Moby posts on his Instagram.

Pack Your Bags, Kids, We're Going to Mars!

Credit: NASA

I call shotgun!

For years, I've been telling everyone I know that the Mothership is going to return for me really, really, really soon. Well, it's time to accept that's not going to happen, and if I want to get off this godforsaken planet I'm going to have to take matters into my own hands. And with the U.S. presidential election nearing, I need to fast track my plan.

"Simmer Down and Pucker Up!" It's International Kissing Day!

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc

(I blatantly stole the first part of that title from one of my favorite songs, "Do I Wanna Know?" by the Arctic Monkeys.)

Yes, it's International Kissing Day, something I didn't even know existed until I saw a post about it on a random website. And because I have this weird compulsion to dig deep down into any subject I encounter, I couldn't resist a quick Internet search for strange and interesting facts about one of our favorite pastimes. 

1. Romantic Kissing Isn't the Norm.

Here in the United States and other Western cultures, a good kiss is at the heart of any great romance. When we watch a rom-com, we're eagerly cheering on the romantic leads and anxiously awaiting that passionate kiss that signals they'll get their happily ever after. However, this is not a universal practice. In fact, as the Washington Post reports, less than half of cultures kiss romantically, with some even calling it "gross." This comes from researchers both at the University of Nevada and at Indiana University.

I'm Not Nice...and You Should Be Glad

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

As a child, I often met older adults who were grumpy, blunt or downright rude. Were they always like that, or did age bring out the curmudgeon in them? I suspected the latter, given that they grew up in an era when manners and politeness were next to godliness. Clearly, something happened to make them abandon common courtesy. As I grew older, I discovered my gut instinct was right: Age makes you crotchety.

Up until recently, my default setting was “Be nice." Somehow, however, my default setting shifted to “WTF is wrong with you?” Getting past people’s BS trumps sparing someone’s feelings or avoiding a scene. I didn’t even realize what had happened until a customer service rep asked me not to yell at her. (For the record, I didn’t yell at her -- even though she had it coming.)

As it turns out, my disagreeableness is a good thing. A very good thing. In fact, could be a matter of life and death. And if your life is in my hands, you’ll be glad I’m a stubborn ass. As “Psychology Today”  reports, “agreeable” people can be deadly.

WTF are you lookin' at?

Photo Credit: billhd via Compfight cc

Most of us have heard of Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments of the 1960s. In a nutshell, researchers told participants to deliver electric shocks to people if they answered questions incorrectly. An alarmingly high number of people delivered shock after shock after shock...eventually dealing a fatal zap to the person on the other end. Who were these sadists? Well..actually, they weren’t sadists at all, but instead the people most of us think of as polite and genial. When confronted with an order to harm someone, they complied. The participants with more “disagreeable” personalities, on the other hand, were more likely to refuse to hurt another person if asked to. It seems that the compulsion to adhere to social expectations could, quite literally, get an innocent person killed. Less regard for “niceties,” however, seems to translate to a personality more inclined to take a stand, question authority and social standards and respect the well-being of others.

So what’s the lesson here? For me, it’s this: The next time someone whines that I’m not “nice” enough, I’ll take comfort in knowing that I’m the last person you’ll ever have to worry about electrocuting you to death.

5 Days #BelowTheLine

Note: This year’s Below the Line challenge is over. While you can’t participate in the fundraiser until next year, you can help raise awareness any time. I hope you’ll consider conducting your own Below the Line experiment or donating to / volunteering with your local food bank or similar charitable organization.

The Challenge
Live Below the Line is sponsored by The Global Poverty Project. Every year, people around the world spend between one and five days eating on a budget just below the poverty line, in an effort to raise awareness of the hardships and prevalence of poverty and hunger. Participants can also raise money for one of the project's many charity partners. In the United States, the daily food budget for this experiment is $1.50. I participated for the first time this year, and here is what I learned.

Zen and the Art of Lawnmowing

One of my greatest accomplishments is finally, finally one-upping the neighbors. (If you live in Suburbia, you know that “Keeping Up With the Joneses" = Survival of the Fittest.) I didn’t do it via a Clark Griswold-style display of Christmas lights, or by cruising up in a shiny new Mercedes. Instead, I put my neighbors to shame through an intimidating demonstration of sheer brute force. (Maybe you’ll think twice before stealing my garbage can again. You know who you are.)

Adventures in Tealand: Tulsi

Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. End of a very long, very stressful day and I’m still working. After struggling with writer’s block all morning and afternoon, a problem exacerbated by the arrival of bad news, I’m hoping for a second wind. Thankfully, hot tea kickstarts my brain cells and I’m now sailing through my article. (The tulsi, by the way, is very smooth. I highly recommend it.)