Category Archives: Finland

Welcome to the land of Finns! There are reindeer and nude statues!

Today I had a play to go to, with a ticket in the front row and everything, but I stayed home. This was not an easy decision for me. I’ve been looking forward to this one for months and months. But I’m coughing terribly and I had a front-row seat and that’s rude to people trying to act and sing. Plus even getting up and moving around the house makes me kind of exhausted. Driving half an hour each way, sitting through a three-hour show, trying really hard not to cough…nah. Can’t. Just can’t today. Sadly. So it’s a couch-day and a Dumbcat-day and a TV-day for me.

Today, let’s talk about something near and dear to my heart. And that thing is:

FINLAND!!!

I officially got my passport in the mail a week after I applied for it, so apparently I have been judged as NOT TOO DANGEROUS TO TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY! That means my trip to Finland is on! Only 14 months to go! Get ready, Andreas and family of Andreas! It’s never too early to start planning an adventure!

There have been a number of fun Finland-related things that have come across my radar lately, so today let’s discuss some fun Finland-things.

First: Finland wins a VERY IMPORTANT HONOR!

According to this very annoying link that will start a loud obnoxious video on your computer so beware, Finland is the world’s best place to be a mother! In the whole WORLD! Well, THAT’S impressive! Apparently, expectant and new mothers are given much care in the land of the Finns, and the infant mortality rate is very low, so Finland wins the competition! Congratulations, Finland, for being impressive! On Saturday Night Live this weekend, Seth Meyers had a smart joke that said “Finland has recently been found as the world’s best place to be a mother. The world’s worst place to be a mother? High school.” Hee! I like that.

Next, we have very good graphics from the most impressive sj!

OMG YOU GUYS! POLICE REINDEER! How much do I want a police reindeer? THE MOST IS HOW MUCH! I don’t know if this is true facts or not, but I love it anyway. I mean, think about it. What would you do with a police reindeer? I don’t know that you could ride it. And it’s not like a drug-sniffing dog or anything. I mean, MAYBE it could sniff drugs, but what a mess it would make clip-clopping through your house, right? But whether it is a thing or not, I WANT ONE. Look how much it loves the Finnish policeman! It totally wants him to rub its nose. And ride with him on his Skidoo. Probably in Finland they don’t call them Skidoos. The internet says Finns call them “moottorikelkka” or if they’re speaking Swedish they call them “snöskoters.” OMG THOSE ARE BOTH MOST EXCELLENT WORDS! The Finnish word has WAY too many letters in it, and the Swedish word sounds EXACTLY like “snow scooter” which makes me smile and then smile some more.

Aw, no, poor Finland!

Finally, we have the MOST interesting thing. OK, so a couple of weeks ago, Andreas had the day off because it was Walpurgis Night. This is known as May Day in Merka. And we most certainly don’t get the day off, sigh sigh. ANYWAY, in Finland, here is what happens on Walpurgis Night:

  • Much mead is consumed
  • Many funnel cakes are consumed
  • There is much celebrating, some of it in the streets
  • Someone puts a cap on a nude statue in Helsinki
  • “Left-wing activists of the 1970s still party on May Day. They arrange carnivals. And radio stations play leftist songs from the 1970s.” WHAT? That makes me laugh. It would make Dad VERY ANGRY, though, and he would shout “SOCIALISTS!!!”

This all makes me happy. This is a very happy pagan celebration, dating back to Beltane. We don’t do things like that here. Sometimes children might do a Maypole (not a euphemism) in school, but only when a teacher can’t think of something better to do, and I’d be willing to bet most of the teachers don’t know the history behind what they’re doing.

You GUYS, in FINLAND, they have a day off where they drink HOMEMADE MEAD, they eat FRIED DOUGH, and they (for some reason) put HATS on NAKED STATUES. This is a most excellent country. MOST excellent. I can’t even find anything to complain about in this tradition.  We don’t have another day off until Memorial Day and that’s still a couple weeks away. Europe gets a lot more excellent days off than we do, that’s for sure.

MANY HAPPY THINGS IN FINLAND!

OK, it is the middle of the day but my eyes are closing so it’s naptime even though I’m usually terrible at naps. Happy Monday to you all. May your weeks be both productive AND pleasurable. Plus, I wish you all funnel cakes. I mean, don’t we all deserve more funnel cakes in our lives? I think most definitely we do. No question.

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Norway: Finland, only a whole different country.

This is a story about Dad and Andreas.

First, Dad thought Andreas was a spy. Ken was an assassin and Andreas was a spy.

(Ken’s still “the assassin” but I don’t think he is AN assassin. I think it’s just Dad’s nickname for him. I’m pretty sure Dad doesn’t think Ken’s assassinating people. PRETTY sure, I said.)

Now Andreas is “that Finn” or “that man from the land of Finns” or “your friend from “FINN-LAYND” because it makes Dad laugh that I say Finland funny. HA HA DAD. So I guess he’s not a spy anymore, which is nice. Good job, Andreas, I’m glad you’ve moved up in Dad’s esteem. Or, I guess, if you really are a spy, you’ve fooled him. Either way: good job, you.

The land of FINNS!

The other night, Dad had a STORY.

“I have a STORY!” Dad said. “Your friend in Fin-LAYND! He is in TROUBLE!”

“He is?” I said. “Well, I just talked to him today, and he seemed ok? But I guess you’d know better? I don’t know, have you been talking to Andreas while I was at work today?”

“He’s FILLED WITH RADIOACTIVITY! Tell him NOT TO EAT THE FISH!”

“What fish. Is he eating all the fish? What’s happening?”

“I just watched a DOCUMENTARY!”

“About Andreas? Well, crap, I can’t believe he was in a documentary and didn’t tell me. I’m so yelling at him the next time I talk to him.”

“SIGH SIGH SIGH. NO. About U-BOATS.”

Look how impressive a U-boat is. I had no idea!

Look how impressive a U-boat is. I had no idea!

“I’m…at a loss, frankly. What’s the connection?”

So Dad explained: he’d watched a documentary about this U-boat that sank in World War II off the coast of Finland and ran on radioactivity so has poisoned all the fish off the coast of Finland with radioactivity so no one in Finland should eat any fish.

“So tell your friend not to eat those Finnish fish. Or he will be like Spiderman. ALL RADIOACTIVE,” Dad said.

“I don’t know, Dad. I feel like Andreas would have told me this. Also, I think he likes fish, so this is a worry for me, frankly.”

“You ask your friend if he GLOWS IN THE DARK. You ask him if he can READ IN THE DARK WITHOUT A NIGHTLIGHT. Because he’s radioactive, get it?”

I'd like to read at night without a nightlight. That'd be cool, yo.

I’d like to read at night without a nightlight. That’d be cool, yo.

So I emailed Andreas about this but then we started talking about a billion other things and I never got an answer about this and the other things were totally interesting, it’s not like I was all mad about the lack of radioactivity discussion. That was Dad’s thing.

Then Dad was all, “WELL? What did you find out about your radioactive friend in the land of the Finns?”

“Oh, crap, Dad, he didn’t answer me. Sorry. We got to talking about other things and I forgot to follow up.”

“Well, THAT’S suspicious. Why’s he covering this up?”

“I don’t know if it’s so much a coverup. I think it’s more that we were talking about other things. It’s really not about the government. Promise.”

“IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT!”

So I emailed Andreas AGAIN about the fish thing. This time he answered me. (Seriously, he didn’t mean to not respond. We got to talking about other stuff. It happens.)

Oh yeah, I meant to answer the radioactive thing. I don’t glow in the dark, but I wouldn’t even if I had radiation poisoning. Obviously. Which I don’t. 

I’m trying to think what submarine he’s referring to; don’t think there were many (or indeed any) German U-boats in the Baltic sea during the war, and I haven’t heard of any that were sunk. Anyway, they wouldn’t have been radioactive, as they were all diesel-electric in those days.
Then he talked about a totally awesome story about Soviet subs and made me laugh and other things. Andreas is an excellent emailer.  So I told Dad this and he was all, “WHAT? He thought I was SERIOUS about the glow-in-the-dark thing? NO NO NO. You get rid of that Finn. HE HAS NO SENSE OF HUMOR NONE.”

“DAD. He was KIDDING. He has an EXCELLENT sense of humor. As you can see because of this joke. HE WAS KIDDING.”

“That is not funny. NOT FUNNY FINN FROM FINLAND. You need to tell him that is NOT FUNNY.”

“OK, I’ll tell him. But what’s the scoop on the U-boat? He’s never even HEARD of the U-boat.”

“That’s because it wasn’t even RADIOACTIVE. I never said it was RADIOACTIVE, Amy.”

“What? Of course you did. Because of the glowing.”

“No. MERCURY.”

“What? Mercury?”

Then Dad told a whole NEW story, which was there was a German U-Boat in 1944 that he thought was called U-834 that was bringing mercury to Japan and it went down off the coast of Finland and was just recently discovered, leaking all the mercury into the waters of Finland. So all the fish were filled with mercury and no one should be eating the fish.

(He also kept picking on me about confusing radioactivity and mercury, but I still aver that he’s the one that was confused, because why would he have said Andreas was glowing in the dark if he’d been talking about mercury?)

“So maybe he doesn’t glow in the dark. THAT IS STILL NOT FUNNY. But tell him – you tell him – MAYBE HE IS A THERMOMETER.”

Andreas? Is that you?

Andreas? Is that you?

“Dad. He didn’t mean to personally offend you with the glow-in-the-dark comment, you know.”

“I don’t want to talk about that thermometer anymore.”

(Sorry, Andreas, you went from spy to Man from the Land of Finns to thermometer. I don’t know that this is an improvement as you are now an inanimate object.)

So then I researched this and Dad totally wasn’t making it up. Well, he got some major POINTS wrong, but there’s SOME truth to this.

There was a U-boat. It was actually U-864, but he was pretty close. It did go down (1945, close to 1944) and was just recently discovered.

However, one slight issue…

Norway. This all happened in Norway.

As you can see, Andreas’ Finland is on the right (hi, Andreas’ islands!) and Norway is on the left. NO, not ALL the way on the left, that’s Iceland. On the left as in on the other side of Sweden.

I mean, it’s all the same WATER but it’s pretty far AWAY from Andreas’ water.

I know they’re all in a clump but I think they’re different countries and I’m pretty sure if you call someone from Norway Finnish they’d probably give you a dirty look. (Would they, Andreas? They totally would, right?)

That’d be like someone from FINLAND calling us CANADIAN, Dad, just because we’re on the same CONTINENT. Would you like that, Dad? No you would NOT. (Dad yells at the poor Canadians a lot since he lives right next to the border. See, they drive like normal people? And drive normal speeds? And he drives slow like an old person? So they’ll pass him – as would I – and he’ll yell, “GO BACK TO CANADA YOU SPEED DEMON!” and then look at me all “That taught ‘em!” and I’ll just shake my head and laugh a little but also grip the handle on the door for my life. FOR MY VERY LIFE.)

See, Dad? It would be like people assuming we were CANADIAN. Wouldn't you HATE that?

See, Dad? It would be like people assuming we were CANADIAN. Wouldn’t you HATE that?

So, in summation: yes, there was a U-boat; yes, it went down off A coast. Just not ANDREAS’ coast. So I think Andreas can eat his fish. And he is not really a thermometer. I’m pleased, I wouldn’t like Andreas to die of mercury poisoning. The internet tells me the symptoms of that are “sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination,” (do you think I have mercury poisoning? I very often have a “disturbed sensation,” usually when I’m thinking about things and getting so pissed about them) damage to the brain, kidney and lungs, and something called “pink disease,” which sounds equal parts stylish and distressing.

Don’t get mercury poisoning, Andreas, I don’t even know how you look in pink.

(Also, side note, you’re not supposed to eat the fish from my Hudson River here for the same reason. Mercury poisoning. We’re all kinds of toxic around here.)

So it seems Andreas is safe. What will Dad call Andreas next? Stay tuned for the next installment of “Dad makes up names for Amy’s friends!” An ongoing serialized dramedy here on the old Football! Whoo-hoo!


A strange and violent place!

There are a lot of things I like in the world.

Dumbcat. The Nephew. The smell of the air in the fall. Watching television virtually with sj. The excitement I still feel every single time right before the curtain goes up before a play starts, no matter how many plays I watch in my life.

A thing I like a LOT a lot?

Virtually travelling with my internet friends.

See, I’m a poor person? As you’re all aware. The farthest I get to travel is to visit my parents upstate. And even that doesn’t get to happen much anymore, due to unemployment and such. Sometimes to New York City but that’s only once every few years or something (which is NOT OFTEN ENOUGH.) I went to Florida this year but only because Dad paid for it because he loves me. This summer, if all goes well, I get to go to Massachusetts for the first time ever. I KNOW! That’s totally exciting, you’re all coming with me. (It’s all on the newspaper’s dime, too. As long as they keep me on over there, they’re sending me there to review shows this summer. To a SWANKY theater. Where FAMOUS people act. I KNOW! Sometimes I honestly pinch myself. OW STOP THAT.)

Berkshire Theatre Festival!!! I MIGHT GET TO GO TO THERE!!!

Anyway, I am lucky enough to know people who live in fancy places and who are VERY patient with me. The second part of that is equally as important as the first part. Just because they live in fancy places doesn’t mean I’d get to virtually bon vivant along with them. The fact that they are the most patient when I say things like “ZOMG WE ARE GOING TO BERLIN?!?!” or “I WANT YOU TO TAKE ME TO THE ZOO RIGHT NOW TO SEE THE PENGUINS” or “TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR VACATION FLAT FOR ME I DO NOT EVEN CARE THAT YOU ARE SLEEPING FROM THE JET LAG.” (Oh, yeah, I use a lot of all-caps when virtual bon vivantery is involved. It makes me very excited. Oh, fine, I can’t even hide it from you, I use all-caps all the time. I AM VERY EXCITABLE I CAN’T EVEN PRETEND I’M NOT.)

Anyway, I am very lucky I have bon-vivanty friends who are ALSO patient friends and find my loud excitement about all things more charming than annoying. THANK YOU FRIENDS.

This week, we had another opportunity for virtual bon vivantery!

ANDREAS WENT TO HELSINKI!!!

OK, so Andreas lives on the Åland Islands. The internet tells me they are an archipelago. ARCHIPELAGO! I think it would be fun to live on an archipelago. When I was a wee Amy I pronounced that wrong and a teacher laughed at me and I was HORRIFIED. Teachers shouldn’t be allowed to laugh at kids who are trying to pronounce hard words. They should be SUPPORTIVE and correct them NICELY. Just because third-grade-Amy thought it was “arch-ih-pell-AH-go” and not “ark-ih-pell-uh-go”  doesn’t mean you get to mock. I WAS A TEENY KID AND THAT IS A BIG WORD WITH GREEK ROOTS YOU JERK.

Here are the Åland Islands in relation to Helsinki.

See? There are Andreas’ islands over there, and then Helsinki off to the right.

Andreas told me his job was sending him to Helsinki for a work-thing. WELL! That is a fancy job, right? They have ice-cream Fridays (no, seriously, THEY HAVE ICE-CREAM FRIDAYS) and then last week they SENT HIM TO HELSINKI. On a PLANE. He didn’t have to get in a company van or ANYTHING. (I’ve never worked somewhere that sent me somewhere on a plane. Once I worked somewhere that sent me to New York on the train a couple times, which was awesome, and once I worked somewhere where part of my job was to go around the state and do these events but I had to go in the company station wagon or van depending on how many other coworkers went with me. NEVER ON A PLANE!)

Andreas assured me it was not a very long plane trip (because, well, I worry, and the whole time planes are in the air I have to send out “STAY UP PLANE!!!” vibes) and that he would totally get to spend the night. THIS IS FUN!

So of course I said ANDREAS ANDREAS ANDREAS WILL YOU SEND ME PHOTOS OF HELSINKI?

And because he is Andreas he said he would. He didn’t even seem annoyed. Isn’t that the best? Yes, it totally is.

Here, I think we’re going to need some background about Helsinki.

First: if you LIVE in Helsinki, you don’t CALL it Helsinki. You call it “Helsingfors.” Well, I like that a lot. Andreas said it was NOT exciting but as you can see, it is.

Well, after I said that, Andreas AGREED it was a VERY fun name. (Or maybe he just pretended he did. Or my infectious joy just amuses him. One of those things.)

Ooh, look at Olivier’s Van Helsing. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS YO.

If you look up Helsinki on Wikipedia you can find this very funny link that tells you how to pronounce “Helsingfors” and it is AWESOME. No, seriously, click this and listen. “HelsingFORSH!” The guy sounds VERY SERIOUS. I’ve played that ten times in a row and giggled every time.

Helsinki is the capital of the Land of Finns. There is much water and many islands. On one of the islands is a zoo. A ZOO! On an ISLAND! It is called the Korkeasaari Zoo. I like that word because it sounds like bubbles popping in your mouth. Here, the internet tells me these animals are at that zoo:

EUROPEAN OTTERS! I can only assume these are fancier than regular otters, and probably eat croissants for breakfast.

Also, there is an island called Pihlajasaari, which is where the gay people and “naturalists” hang out. “Naturalists” means nudists. So they’re both euphemistically and also literally hanging out, I suppose. I am all for going to the gay island but not as much into the naked island because, well, naked has its place, but all out in public makes the little Catholic girl in me giggle and hide my face behind a hymnal.

ALSO, in the WINTER, the sun only lasts for six hours. SIX HOURS! And in the SUMMER, it lasts for NINETEEN HOURS. What? What is this madness? Andreas, you so didn’t tell me that you lived in a land of the magical sun. Is the sun magical on your islands, too, or only in Van Helsing City?

Helsinki is VERY PRETTY. Look look look:

Isn’t that lovely? YES IT IS.

People in Finland speak Finnish. Well, obviously. But Andreas says – well, here, I’ll let him tell you:

No one says “Suomessa puhumme suomi!” to you if you speak Swedish in the streets anymore, although I’ve been told it still happens in bars sometimes.

Well, I was on my phone at the time, so I tried to make the phone translate this, but the phone was all NO NO AMY. (My laptop has a much better translation program on it. When you have fancy international friends, you need to translate shit all Johnny-on-the-spot. It gets a workout, that program.)

Does that mean something like, “You’re in Finland; speak Finnish?” I’m on my phone & my translate function here isn’t as good as on the laptop.

Andreas’ reply made me giggle.

Yes, it does: “In Finland, we speak Finnish!” It’s a dig against the Swedish speaking minority.
 
…One of my colleagues…told me that he had that happen to him when speaking Swedish with a few friends at a bar. Some random guy came up and said “Suomessa puhumme suomi!” My colleague then replied in Finnish: “I speak what I want. You speak what you can”, hinting at the general lack of Finnish speaking people of being able to speak any other language, including Swedish. A retort like that is usually cause for a fight in Finland, either with or without knives. It’s a strange and violent place.

I told Andreas “Finland! It’s a strange and violent place!” should be the national motto. I just looked online and apparently Finland doesn’t even HAVE a national motto. Well! Finland! Andreas and I just FOUND you one. You are WELCOME. We’ll take our commission in travel vouchers to visit your city, please.

So once Andreas got there, he sent me this:

I was ok with that. I can be patient, if I have to be.

BUT THEN WE GOT PHOTOS YOU GUYS!

Here is what is, according to Andreas, a “typical Helsinki street”:

Look! A train! Or perhaps a tram! Something trainy-trammy! Also the light is pretty and I like the buildings. I am very impressed by Helsinki. Also, I am very impressed that Andreas followed through on his promise to send me photos. MY ANDREAS IS THE BEST ANDREAS.

Then poor Andreas emailed me later in the day that they made him work ALL DAY and he didn’t get to play at ALL and so he didn’t even get to bon vivant. I felt awful. NO NOT FOR ME. I honestly would rather, if given the option, have Andreas have a wonderful time without me getting a single photo than him being in a happy city without being able to play at all. I do these things in my head a lot. Like these tests. “Would you jump in front of a car for this person” or “Let’s say this person was dying of cancer and you had the option of YOU dying of cancer instead of THEM, would you do it?” It’s how I measure how much I love someone. What, you don’t do that? FINE, I never said my brain wasn’t broken, sheesh. I’ve done this since I was a kid. It’s not normal?

Andreas was not fazed by the fact that he didn’t get to play, however. He still sent me photos. This is why Andreas is the best, and if a flaming out-of-control zeppelin was coming right for us, I’d push him out of the way and take the hit. ANDREAS PASSES THE ZEPPELIN TEST.

This is a picture out of the window of his office. Isn’t Helsinki pretty? I told Andreas that when I come to visit someday (BECAUSE I TOTALLY AM GOING TO DAMMIT) we would go to Helsinki and properly bon vivant it.

Then he sent me this, and this is how I know Andreas is meant to be my friend for the rest of my life. Well, I already knew. But this…well, this pushed it right over the edge.

Just because he thought I would find it interesting, he sent me a photo of his hotel room.

Without even KNOWING that I am OBSESSED with hotel rooms. Like, you don’t even know. The other photos were EXCITING – I mean, Helsinki! – but this one made me laugh and clap.

When I was a little kid (Andreas knew NONE of this) I always thought that people that got to stay in hotels were the fanciest and once I got to stay in a hotel, *I* would be fancy. So I went years and years without ever getting to stay in a hotel. Then when I was like, oh, I don’t know, ten or something, we went on a trip and I got to stay in a hotel. And it was, without a doubt, one of the coolest things in the ENTIRE WORLD. Someone else’s bed! With crisp clean sheets! VENDING MACHINES IN THE HALLWAY WITH ALL THE FOODS AND SODAS! Little soaps and wee shampoos and you could HAVE them! A bucket to put ice in, and a machine that dumped ALL THAT ICE in the bucket! A TV you could WATCH from your BED!

I decided I wanted to live in a hotel.

I still get that same thrill about hotels. There’s something so exciting about a hotel. You could be anyone in that room. You could be a killer or a celebrity or a spy on the lam. I only pretend t0 be citified; I’m really only a country girl at heart and things like hotels and tall buildings and trains and fancy restaurants make me very excited and I’m a ten-year-old who hasn’t left her teeny-tiny town ever and is all huge eyes and “ZOMG LOOK AT THAT!!!”

So Andreas showing me his hotel room, without him even knowing it, made me SO EXCITED.

And when I explained this to him, he was cool as ice about it, yo.

I thought you would!

He knows me well, you guys. Not even in the least bit surprised by this Amy-development.

THEN, as an Andreas-addendum (an And-endum?) I got home the other day and I had a PACKAGE from Andreas. I wasn’t even EXPECTING one. IT WAS A SURPRISE PACKAGE! Well, now, THAT’S exciting! I don’t get surprises in the mail!

Andreas asked me to make a video reacting to what was inside the package. So I did. YOU CAN SEE IT TOO! It’s not a secret. And you can see what’s inside the package of SECRETS from FINLAND. Andreas is the best, sincerely.

(The preview picture of this video makes me laugh; it looks like I’m about to teach you a lesson. A LICORICE LESSON.)

Then I told Dad about what I got in the package. His response?

“It’s licorice? But it’s salty? You can take the salt off, though?”

I said, no. It’s all mixed into the licorice.

“What the hell is wrong with Finland. You don’t put SALT in DESSERTS. They don’t know what the hell is going on in that land of the Finns. SALT IS FOR POPCORN OR FRENCH FRIES.”

Dad did not approve.

Andreas, I hope the next time you go to Helsinki, also known as the land of Van Helsing in Amy-speak, you get to play and bon vivant and have the best of times, but don’t get shanked in a bar for speaking Swedish. And if you see your way clear to bringing your crazy-eyed, unruly-haired Merkan blogger friend with you, well, she wouldn’t complain. Not even a little bit.

THANK YOU ANDREAS!


Using science (and Science Fellows) to our full advantage.

Hell week is OVER. Day off today! Well, day off in that I don’t have to go to work. I have a billion things to do. Laundry and grocery shopping and a project I promised to do and writing to do and talking to people that I have been sadly neglecting all last week that I want to talk and talk to and a cat who needs petting and SLEEPING SLEEPING SO MUCH SLEEPING. I’m going to do the sleeping first. Get that out of the way. The sleeping has become high-priority. I’ve gotten so sleepy I’m shaky, and I almost fell in the shower like an old person yesterday because I was not coordinated enough to both hold AND squirt the shampoo, so if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m probably going to die. What? Exaggeration? Yes, probably, you’re right. I think you have to get a LOT less sleep than I have been to actually DIE, right? Wait, I will research it. Andreas would want me to research it. It’s what sciency people do.

Well, according to this article (from Scientific American! Well, I’m Merkan. And I like to be Scientific. With a capital S) the longest anyone’s ever stayed awake is 11 days. It doesn’t really tell you about DYING from lack of sleep. It DOES tell you about a horrifying experiment they did on rats to see how long THEY could stay awake without sleep and they would continuously wake the rats up when they were about to fall asleep by threatening to drown them and the rats died after two weeks from someonthing called “whole body hypermetabolism.” Shit, Andreas, why are you never awake when I’m writing something that’s even remotely sciency? Using my math skills, it is currently…um…4:47am in the land of Finns. Sigh. That’s too early to wish you had a touch of insomnia, Andreas (I AM KIDDING I WOULD NEVER WISH THAT ON ANYONE I CARE ABOUT), so I could ask you what “whole body hypermetabolism” is. FINE I WILL SCIENCE IT MYSELF.

Aw, look at that face. STOP MAKING THE RAT STAY AWAKE!

All I can find is “an abnormal increase in metabolic rate.” So…um…you run fast and hot and die, then? I guess? From lack of sleep? This isn’t very sciency at all. You killed those poor rats for THAT? That seems wasteful. I’m so tweeting Andreas right now to see what he thinks about this shit, yo.

OMG YOU GUYS. This probably interests no one but me, but I am MADE OF MAGIC. I WISHED Andreas, and he APPEARED. No kidding. (The magic came into play because I forgot it was Monday and he was up for work, not because I am magic, but let me have my pretend-time, ok?) So I was all “hey if you get up I need you, my Science Fellow” AND HE WAS THERE BAM. But now I can’t get him the link to that totally sciency article; my theory is because he is not MERKAN and it would be seditious to let him read it. Seditious? Is that the word I want? I’m way too tired to research that.

Andreas is currently looking into this for me, leaving me free to watch American Horror Story and write about other things. Maybe have a popsicle. Do I even HAVE other things? Sure I do, I always have something. If not, I make it up as I go along, I’m good like that. SOON WE WILL HAVE SCIENCY ANSWERS, though. That’s something we all look forward to around these parts.

(Also, ZOMG, could American Horror Story BE more effed up this season? Holy HELL.)

OK. What else. Work was the worst today and I was tired and people were being so weird and it was a terrible combination and it seemed like the longest shift in the world. I need tomorrow off quite badly. Otherwise I think I might lose my mind.

But THEN, AFTER work, C. and C. came to visit! They went to see The Shape of Things, and then came and visited me and we went to dinner at our favorite Chinese place and talked and talked and TALKED and laughed so hard that at one point I had to take my glasses off because I was weeping with laughter and I miss them so much and it was so nice to see them again. Old friends are something special, you know? I’ve known C. since…let’s see. I was probably 19? 20, maybe? We moved in together when I was 20, if I’m remembering correctly. So that’s about 20 years. There’s a lot of history there. New friends are wonderful – hell, all friends are, let’s be honest – but old friends, the ones that know all your history and your baggage and just all your STUFF and you can say, “remember that time…?” with, that’s something special. It really truly is. Dumbcat was happy to see C. because she is one of his favorite humans, and once he stopped freaking out he even let both of them pet him, which was nice.

OK. We have a VERDICT from ANDREAS. He’s the scienciest, no joke, you guys. Have I mentioned how much I adore Andreas lately? (I’ve always adored him, I mean, have I MENTIONED it lately.) Seriously, just such a wonderful person. I can’t even, I’ll get all weepy.

Hypermetabolism is when the metabolism gets into turbo mode, usually after a trauma like multiple bone fractures or similar. It seems to be a way of speeding up the healing process, but it costs a lot in terms of food. 

You can also have organ specific hypermetabolism, like in the brain, so full body hypermetabolism means that the whole body increases its metabolic rate, not just parts of it.

Oh, THIS is exciting. Andreas TOTALLY knew what it was.

Does anyone else have ALL THE CURIOSITY about “brain hypermetabolism?” I think I might have this. My brain is ALWAYS buzzing. Good grief.

This is apparently a hypermetabolic brain? PRETTY.

Then I had a BILLION QUESTIONS FOR ANDREAS and he was kind enough to answer MORE of my questions. Here are some of them:

So, first, this seems like a terrible thing to do to these rats, yo. 

Second, the lack of sleep, for some reason, sped up their body processes? ALL of them? To the point that they DIED? 

How? Why? The article didn’t tell us at all. So the doctors don’t even know? And the rats died for no REASON? 

This is all very strange.

Andreas is very patient with me. It’s one of the million wonderful things about him.

(And yes, right now you are seeing how I actually write an email to someone. As you can see, my email is very similar to how I write here. I’m a complete dork EVERYWHERE I GO. Luckily, my people still love me.)

And yes, poor rats indeed. The cruellest of all sciences is biology – which sort of counts as ironic in my book (and is one of the reasons I got out of it). And I won’t even mention the kittens. 

Yes, according to this study, the rats entered a state of hypermetabolism due to lack of sleep. So apparently lack of sleep is like a physical trauma to the body. Or it could be an odd side effect. We clearly don’t know yet. Either way it’s lethal, so get some sleep you!

I am glad Andreas is not mentioning the kittens. *shudder*

NO NO ANDREAS DON’T MENTION ME!!!

So, apparently, if I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m going to start burning fast and hot and then die. Like a rat. Or a COMET.

Also, this probably explains why I’m all shaky. I’m having PHYSICAL TRAUMA.

Tonight, I can go to bed WHENEVER I WANT. I can then wake up, again, WHENEVER I WANT. I’m going to just REVEL in sleep. I’m going to LOLL AROUND in it. I’m going to be SO LAZY. It’s going to be AMAZING. Then I’m going to wake up tomorrow and do a billion things, but mostly I’m going to be rested. It’s going to be SO SO AMAZING I CAN’T EVEN.Let’s have a moment of silence for the rats that died so we can know…um…something, I guess. I don’t know what, exactly, and neither do the sciency types, or even my MOST sciency type, Andreas, who knows EVERYTHING. Sayonara, ratsies. I’m sorry you had to die for this strange study that really didn’t seem to prove much of anything at all other than scientists can be kind of sadistic and that no one should be forced to stay awake on a small floating island where they might drown at any minute.

Off to bed. Wish me happy sleeps. ALL OF THEM.


The Targaryens wed brother to sister, why shouldn’t we do the same?

Whew! We made it to Friday, hooray! Tonight is going-to-see-my-friend’s-play night. It’s at this artsy thing in one of our local towns that I’ve always wanted to go to, so that’ll be fun, right? Look at me doing things that force me to get up off the couch. It’s all very exciting and probably I deserve a medal. Dumbcat, however, is NOT PLEASED, and when I get home does things like “MEOW!” and glares at me VERY POINTEDLY because I was not home for him to squish all up to and dig his claws into. He can try that with a pillow, but the pillow doesn’t go “Ouch, Dumbcat, what the hell? Why so pointy, bub?” and then scritch his head for him. 

(SIDE NOTE. In case you were not convinced Dumbcat is really dumb, the other day, he was asleep on the back of the couch and got scared by a ghost. Well, I assume it was a ghost. There was nothing scary I could see or hear. So he bolted up as if he was pinched and then decided I MUST RUN AWAY NOW. But one of his claws got caught in the afghan I keep on the back of the couch in case I get cold.

Evil. Eeeeee-vil.

So he was all WHAT IS THIS MADNESS. Then he KEPT RUNNING. So he was dragging the afghan behind him with one little paw and trying to run and making a noise like he was caught in a snare and knocking everything off the shelves with the afghan trailing behind him and I was like, DUMBCAT STOP I CAN FIX THIS and he was like NO NO NO MOM THERE IS A GHOST SOMEWHERE GOTTA GO. Finally he stopped and just looked at the afghan SO MOURNFULLY like “this is my LIFE now, I have this THING PERMANENTLY attached to my LEG” and I was able to catch up to him and detach him and he looked at me as if I was a goddess sent to him from on high and then I laughed until my stomach was sore. I felt kind of bad about it, but I still laughed. I mean, he’s like the Three Stooges of cats, this cat. He now thinks the afghan is his enemy, and will not sleep on it. He takes care to sleep on either end of the couch, but not in the middle, where that evil, foot-snatching afghan lives. It attacked him once. It might do it again. YOU CAN NEVER TELL WITH THOSE NEFARIOUS PLOTTING-AGAINST-YOU AFGHANS.) 

I have not yet told you about my adventure to get Indian food. It actually isn’t much of a story. It went very well! I did not say or do a single embarrassing thing! (Well, I don’t THINK I did. One would know, wouldn’t one think?) My food was good, and spicy, and there were no onions, garlic, or tomatoes to be found. (Oh, you probably want to know what I ate because people like to hear things like that. I had a little bit of naan that was stuffed with cheddar cheese so it was like the Indian version of Domino’s Cheesy Bread, and Chicken Vindaloo, which is, for people that don’t know about such things, pieces of very tender chicken in a spicy brown thick sauce served over this delicious kind of rice that I’ve never tried before and I’m not supposed to HAVE rice so I only had a little but MAN was that the best rice ever in the history of ever and I could have eaten 47,000 bowls of that rice alone, and it wasn’t even SEASONED rice, it was just longer and skinner than normal rice and had a really nice consistency and I loved it times a million.)

Naan is yum, even though I’m not allowed much bread. I’m down with you, naan!

I drank a lot of water with the spiciness. We talked and laughed a lot. I almost got arrested and/or killed driving illegally on the way home (dear GPS: that U-turn you told me to make? WAS ILLEGAL. That’s a one-way street, my friend. And I was on it before I realized it. Dummy. It’s a damn good thing no cars were coming) but overall, it was great. So look! I can leave the house and socialize with people in small groups without self-destructing or self-immolating or self-whatevering. What a nice thing to realize!  

I found this thing in the news, and I wanted to discuss it with you, but it’s icky. Do you want to hear about an icky thing? Because it is. Totally icky. Also, it taught me a sciency thing, so probably Andreas will be interested. And also disgusted. You ALL will be disgusted. It’s the ickiest. 

Andreas, this is sciency, but also gross. I hope you’re up for the challenge.

OK, so in California recently, a woman was caught having all the underage sex in a hotel room with a sixteen-year-old boy. Yes, ew, these things happen, fine, whatever, gross, that’s not the ickiest part. THAT’S NOT EVEN THE ICKIEST PART. Ready? 

It was her son that she’d given up at birth. AND SHE KNEW IT WAS HER SON. 

Here, you can see pictures of this woman. She looks like one of those Bratz dolls. A real-life Bratz doll! Worrisome. 

I mean, if you’re into plastic and puty duck-lips, I guess, whatever, I don’t want to be judgey.

Apparently she gave up her child at birth, and then she contacted him fifteen years later and started a conversation with him on Facebook which led to naughty texts (as Facebook does) and then they started meeting up in hotel rooms so she could tutor him in math (that’s a euphemism) and his family found out and called the cops. 

EUPHEMISM. Y = Sex.

When the cops questioned her, she said she was not guilty. “But, we have this video your son made, of you playing his skin flute,” they said. (EUPHEMISM. Also, what kind of asshole kid makes a video of it? Ew, THAT IS YOUR MOM.) “No, no!” she said. “You see, it’s not my FAULT. There’s this scientific phenomenon called Genetic Sexual Attraction, where 50% of people meeting a long-lost relative are sexually attracted to them. I am a VICTIM! Of SCIENCE!” 

And then I assume the cops made this face.

Well, setting aside the old “he blinded me with science” defense (which, bee tee dubs, didn’t work, she was sent to jail for 4 years last week) I was all, “WHAT? This is a THING? Being sexually attracted to your relatives is a THING?” 

Yep. It’s totally a thing. Science says so! 

According to science, if, say, you were separated at birth from your sibling, and then you meet up with him (or her) twenty years later, you are more likely to be sexually attracted to him (or her) because: 

You have facial similarities, and people (often without knowing it) seek out partners with a similar facial pattern/look 

Along similar lines, we seek out partners with similar traits and likes/dislikes; scientists agree that some of these things can be hereditary, and therefore the sibling would be seen by your brain as a good mate 

If you were raised by your opposite-sex parent, you “imprinted” on them; the sibling you didn’t know you had will share some similarities to that parent, and your ever-entertaining brain will turn that into sexual attraction (howdy, Oedipal and Electra complexes, nice to see you here!) 

Aw, Ralph. Don’t do it. SHE IS YOUR MOM.

Now, if you grew UP with your sibling (or parent, or cousin, or whatever) the odds of you being attracted to them are slimmer, because of ANOTHER sciency phenomenon called The Westermarck Effect, or reverse sexual imprinting.

Here is ol’ Westermarck himself! He looks sciency, right? And a little like Teddy Roosevelt.

The person this is named after is from FINLAND, which makes me think it MUST be true because all the best scientists and Science Fellows are from/currently live in Finland. 

Producing only the best scientists and science fellows for hundreds of years. I don’t let just any Science Fellow science it up around these parts. I’m SELECTIVE.

The Westermarck Effect states that if you grow up with another child (from about ages birth to six) you become desensitized to later sexual attraction. It somehow triggers a naturally-occurring incest taboo (“incest” being only the label put on it; it doesn’t only work within families. If you are raised alongside a foster brother, for example, you most likely would see him as a sibling and mating with him later in life would also trigger the “incest incest NO NO NO” panic-alarm.) 

Now, this all icked me out to the extreme (mostly the first part of this) but then I thought about it and you know what? Science is totally right here. Still ICKY, but totally right. 

Of course you’re most interested in people who remind you most of yourself. Even if you’re not aware of it. You might say “opposites attract” but how often are you with someone who is your COMPLETE OPPOSITE in ALL WAYS? That would be like me dating a man who hates the arts, is a conservative politically, who isn’t at all funny and also doesn’t think I am, who’s very, very religious, who doesn’t believe in equal rights for women and same-sex couples, who hates animals, who hates the city and would never consider living anywhere but a tiny town, who likes women who are quiet, who hates reading, who hates television, books, and the internet, and who doesn’t think bathing is a super-big priority. THIS SOUNDS LIKE MY PERFECT MATE. Oh, wait, no. No, it doesn’t. I mean, sure, maybe I’d find something about him attractive. Maybe he has really nice eyes, or he’s really kind to his children, or he really likes neon Post-Its, I don’t know. But those differences would make it awful hard to continue any sort of relationship. Even if we were like, “let’s make a go of this!” and decided not to discuss them, eventually they’d come up. Things always do. You can’t sit on stuff like this forever. These are fundamental differences, you know? 

These types of opposites attract, though. Just ask any kid who’s rubbed a balloon on their sweater then stuck it on a wall. SCIENCE BABY.

I don’t know about the similar facial pattern. I have kind of a lady-face. I don’t know that I look for a man with a lady-face to complete me. But the article did say it was unconscious, so maybe my reptile brain can translate my lady-face into the male equivalent and is looking for that for me, I don’t know. As for the whole Electra complex – well, here’s the thing. I love my dad. He’s a good dad! He makes me laugh and he’s very protective and he’s smart and he’s wise. As for wanting a mate like him? Well, I’d like a mate with some of his traits. But I’d also like a mate withOUT some of his traits. Because the person I described above who was my complete opposite (other than the funny and the television and the bathing) is my dad. We are very, very different. I love him, but couldn’t live in the same house with him. I go home for a visit and we’re at each other’s throats within a few hours. So, I’m sure the Electra complex is alive and well for some people, and maybe on the same level where I don’t know about the facial patterns, I’m secretly attracted to my dad, but if I am, I’m sure as hell not aware of it. And that’s FINE with me. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. Because SHUDDER. 

Also, growing up with someone totally makes you non-attracted to them. It’s true. I grew up with a very, very attractive boy. My dad’s best friend’s kid. Blonde. Blue eyes. Smart. Funny. Great guy. Loved him right to pieces. We got along like peas AND carrots, and also maybe some…shit, I don’t know, asparagus or something. I mean, we didn’t grow up in the same house. We grew up separately. But we hung out a lot, because our parents were good friends and we were the same age (he was a month younger.) And when I got to my teens, I thought, huh, maybe I should fall in love with C. Because we know each other so well! And he is wonderful! And our parents are friends! And it would be so easy! But when I would hang out with him, there was just NOTHING THERE. It was like hanging out with my brother. No attraction. None. I could objectively see that he was a very attractive guy (still can); I could objectively see that he’d make a good mate (he did; he’s married now, with a child.) But that spark you need to want to start something just wasn’t there. Even more, not only was the spark missing, the thought of kissing him would make me both giggle and gag a little, because he was the closest person to a relative I had that wasn’t walking around sharing some of my genetic material. It seemed WRONG, somehow. So, my romance with C., which I think probably would have thrilled both of our parents, was not meant to be. I haven’t seen him in years, incidentally. And somehow, he doesn’t have Facebook. C.! How do you not have Facebook? You’re a toolbag, get a damn Facebook account already, I miss your face. No, I know he’s probably not reading this. I’m still saying it, since when has that stopped me from doing something? 

Yep. Totally would have been like this. I always thought this dress was ill-fitting. I mean, I’m all for cleavage, but this just looked ouchy.

So, back to the point of this post, which was the life-sized Bratz doll who is claiming that science made her ride her long-lost child like a childhood Sit-n-Spin. NO. And EW. No amount of science makes that less icky, lady. How are you in your thirties and you don’t know right from wrong? No. No, no no. Impulse control: you need to look into that. Also, NO and EW. 

OK, so there’s your icky report of the day. Oh, I should mention Ken totally blogged about incest a while back. That sounds worrisome but it’s actually really interesting. You’ll like it, there’s a nice photo of Ken’s jolly face. And I just re-read the comments on Ken’s post and realized that after I commented way back then, Andreas commented and MENTIONED the Genetic Sexual Attraction thing. I didn’t even see that then. Huh. Go talk to Andreas, he knows all about this! Because he is SCIENCY and he is SMART and he is from FINLAND, not because he is GROSS. Sheesh.

Also, look how pretty Finland is! Aw, Finland. Someday I will come and visit you and your sciency-ness.


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