Password Unprotected

Last week, my supervisor assigned me a new cell phone. She told me I would need to create a six digit pass code to secure it.

“Six digits,” I muttered to myself as I considered various combinations. Perhaps Marilyn Monroe’s measurements (35-22-35)? A postal code for Bangalore, India (560 012)? My junior high gym locker combination? (I can’t remember it now, just like I couldn’t remember it then, and consequently lost a perfectly good pair of Reeboks, probably to a maintenance man with a bolt cutter).

Later that day, I complained to my husband.


We’re going to stop being friends if you keep kicking my ass.

“Why six digits? What’s wrong with four digits?” I held up my personal cell phone, one that only requires me to remember four numbers in order to thwart nefarious evil-doers determined to uncover all my super–secrets, such as the fact that I win only 23% of my Yahtzee With Buddies games (boy, do I suck) and what’s on my Grocery Pal shopping list (cat food, shampoo, red fruit).


“Six digits are more secure,” my husband assured me. He held up his own cell phone, the iPhone 6, which requires one of these new-fangled six digit pass codes. “You really should upgrade. I don’t know how you manage with that thing.”

I considered “that thing,” my iPhone 5s. When I bought it, it featured some of the most advanced technology in the world, including TouchID, the fingerprint identification sensor that I never could get to work right. Now, three short years later, everyone treats my phone like it’s a hand-cranked Model T while they zip around in self-driving Teslas.

While I’m sure I’ll (eventually) enjoy zipping around in a self-driving Tesla, or at least its cellphone equivalent, right now my brain has just about reached maximum capacity for the pass codes and the passwords and the secret handshakes I have to keep track of here in the 21st century. I’m afraid all of that is beginning to push out other stuff I need in there, like, you know, the words I use to, um, talk.

For example, the other day on a trip to the supermarket, I quizzed my daughters on Spanish vocabulary as we strolled the produce aisle. My older daughter just finished her first year studying Spanish in middle school, and I’m determined that there will be absolutely no summer learning loss in this family. Yes, I’m one of those mothers, the ones who manage to torture their children even at el supermercado the grocery store.

“¿Qué es esto?” I asked, holding up a red fruit.


An apple (I think).

“Una manzana,” my older daughter said through clenched teeth.


I turned to my younger daughter, who’s still in elementary school, and not yet cynical about learning. “¿Y en inglés?”


I looked at the red fruit in my hand. Wait, was that right? ¿Cómo se dice “manzana” en inglés?

For a split second I could not remember, and while some people might start worrying about early onset Alzheimer’s, I choose instead to blame all the passwords careening around my brain, crowding out useful information.

If you’re still not convinced, I’ve got another story for you: last month, I needed to create an account on a US government website. The site required a 15 (Yes. FIFTEEN!) character password that had to  include one upper case letter, one lower case letter, one number, one special character, a semaphore flag signal, and a blood sample.

“I’m never going to remember this,” I said as I balled up my fist and pounded the keyboard until I finally got the message, “PASSWORD ACCEPTED!”

As expected, I cannot remember that fifteen character password, and I’ve had to reset the damn thing every time I’ve accessed the site.

In the midst of all these passwords swirling around my brain (35-22-35, 560102, H3LPM3OB1W@NK@N0B1), I found an article in Fortune magazine, describing a new technology that will allow banks to identify their customers by scanning eyeballs.

Everyone is familiar with the use of fingerprints to establish someone’s identity. Now, banks are doing the same with our eyes, but not in the way you might think. They don’t rely on a customer’s iris, but instead they focus on the pattern of blood vessels behind the whites of the eyes.

In practice, this involves customers opening an app and pointing a smartphone cameras at their faces. The bank’s app compares the eyes that appear in the camera image to one the customer has previously stored stored in the app. If they match, customers can check their bank balance, transfer money, and pay bills.

Here is my response to this new technology: GIVE IT TO ME NOW.


What’s the meaning of life? What’s for dinner? Two questions we could answer if only we didn’t have to deal with so many passwords.

Think of all the good we could accomplish in this world if we didn’t have to create and remember all these passwords. We could devote our intellectual energy toward world peace, or solving Goldbach’s conjecture, or maybe just figuring out what to make for dinner tonight. Do I really need to burn up anymore brain cells thinking up a password for  my Waste Management garbage bill? What are hackers going to do if they get in there anyway? Switch my service date from Mondays to Thursdays?


Of all the ridiculous passwords I’m forced to remember, I have to believe my kids’ school district reached the height of absurdity this past academic year when they decided to password “protect” electronic report cards. Previously, parents could access the reports by keying in their child’s student ID number, but now we have to key in the ID number and a password. That’s double protection the principal claimed in the email he sent out, though he didn’t elaborate on what we’re all being protected from. My husband, the son of a public school administrator, defended the decision in the interest of student privacy.

“The ID number didn’t provide enough privacy?” I asked, recalling our own struggle to access the report card after our daughter misplaced her student ID. We searched the house for three days to find it at the back of her bedroom closet, probably tossed there on the very day it had been issued in September. “If someone is going to all the trouble to find out the ID number, memorize it, and then go to the school district website and key it in just to see our kid got a ‘Good’ in Numbers and Operations, I say they’re welcome to that information.”

Anyway, screw all those passwords. I want the whole world to know how my older daughter did in Spanish this year.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.31.50 PM

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at The Yahtzee with Buddies logo comes from the Scopely website, and is believed to comply with the Fair Use doctrine.

In Space, No One Can Hear Your Screaming Orgasm

Even as an avowed skeptic, there are a few things in life I have not questioned: the sky is blue, water is wet, Donald Trump will never be the Republican nominee for President, and astronauts have had sex in space.

For years and years and years, I’ve assumed astronauts have had sex in space. Of course they have! It’s probably one of the first things they did, as soon as they heard the word “Liftoff!” and right after they switched the jet propulsion rockets to autopilot, or whatever. (Please don’t leave a message explaining space travel to me in the comments, it will just make my head hurt, and this blog is about sex, a topic about which I’m just marginally more informed.)

Granted, the astronauts may have only had that solo sort of sex, you know, the kind where you fantasize that James Franco is your boyfriend, and that probably got interrupted by another astronaut banging on the toilet compartment door, asking, “What are you doing in there for so long? You’re supposed to be on a space walk!”

I remained convinced that the astronauts (or the cosmonauts, or whoever) had sex in space until I watched the documentary A Year in Space Wednesday night, which chronicles American astronaut Scott Kelly’s year-long mission aboard the International Space Station. The film is streaming online at through April 2, so if you missed the original broadcast, you can still catch it there.


If you watch the documentary, which I recommend that you do, because it’s fascinating, and beautiful, and quite literally marvelous, the first thing you might notice is that the members of the crew on the International Space Station never have a good hair day. Their hair stands up and away from their scalp all the time, as though they’re forever receiving the most horrible scare of their life, or a constant electric shock.

Needless to say, it’s not a flattering look.

As we’ve all known at least as far back as Farrah Fawcett, a good hairstyle improves your chances of getting laid. And as I’ve known ever since I received a very unfortunate The Rachel back in the ’90s, a bad haircut dooms you to at least six weeks alone with only fantasies of James Franco (or whoever) to keep you warm.

I’m thinking this hair thing is the reason why Scott Kelly shaves his head bald, a style I’d recommend for the entire crew, even the women, if they want to have sex.

As it turns out, they may not even want to, as hard difficult as some of my readers may find that to believe. There’s this thing called “space sickness” which is a kind of constant nausea caused by a disruption to the vestibular system due to weightlessness. Fortunately, the nausea only lasts for a few days, and the human body eventually (and amazingly!) adapts to the environment.

I’m figuring around day three or thereabout, the astronauts stop throwing up and their thoughts return to sex.

Once you get beyond the dizziness and nausea, you still might face other difficulties in joining the 278 Kilometers High Club. Microgravity allows our internal fluids to flow from the lower half of our bodies, where on Earth they tend to settle, and where our sexy parts are situated, into the upper half of our bodies. If you watch A Year in Space you’ll notice how puffy and bloated everyone’s face is, as though they’re all retaining way too much water during a particularly difficult menstrual cycle.

So even if the desire to have sex is there, the ability to have sex may be gone. And I’m not just talking about boners here–blood flow is integral to the sexual experience of women, as well, and it makes a lot of good stuff happen down there for us.

If you research this topic further (I know you’re probably Googling already), you’ll find the answer to whether human beings have had sex in space is unclear. At least, no one is saying whether they have or not. If I were a betting woman, I’d gamble on the fact that they have conducted experiments involving human sexuality. I mean, they’ve studied the effects of the gravity on maintenance of muscle mass in zebrafish and I want to believe someone up there is at least having a bit of fun.



Under the Vatican Dome

Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia, and I’m doing all I can to avoid him.

No dinner until you answer this questionnaire!

You can find Jesus in a casserole.

I know there are some readers of this blog who think I should do everything in my power to seek out the Holy Father and ask forgiveness, for both the thoughts and deeds I’ve commemorated here on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please. You may be surprised, or perhaps not, to learn that this blog is followed by a whole flock slew of Christians who write about how God is improving their marriage or revealing the mystical secrets behind tater tot casserole or losing weight through Jesus.

(Dear Christians: Just my opinion, but God may be sending you mixed messages with that tater tot casserole and weight loss stuff).

I’ve never been able to understand why this blog has so many Christian followers. Maybe they’re praying for my salvation. More likely they’re using me as an example to scare their children.

Behold the fate that awaits you if you turn from the path of righteousness: Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please!

Anyway, as I said, the Pope is visiting for a couple of days at the end of the week and, as a lapsed Catholic, the papal visit didn’t register more than a “Gee, that’s nice,” on my own personal Richter scale until a colleague contacted me to reschedule a meeting. Why did we need to reschedule? Because it appears the whole freaking city is shutting down this week, including the public schoolspublic transport, and entire bridges and stretches of highway.

So I doubt I’ll get much done in this week, except for maybe this blog post about my Christian followers.

Let me start by saying that I am not a follower of Christianity and my relationship with religion is complicated. It began with my parents: my Mom was a devout Roman Catholic and my Dad was an unrepentant atheist. How this horribly mismatched couple ever got together in the first place  remains a mystery, but you could probably place a safe bet on the involvement of alcohol. Why they stayed together has more to do with my mother strictly following the Church teaching against birth control and yet feeling a bit more loosey-goosey about the admonition against premarital sex: I was born not quite seven months after my parents married.

After my birth, I went through the motions of being a Catholic through my Confirmation, and then declared that I was an atheist as my mother wept and my father cheered.

Still, while I’ve left the Church, I remain what I’ll call a cultural Catholic, and I identify with that particular experience. If I had to choose sides in, let’s say, a game of dodgeball, I’d be on their team.

While I’m an atheist and have been since early adolescence, in my twenties I married a former altar boy. That’s maybe not too surprising. What may surprise you is that my husband, who comes from a large, Irish-Catholic family that attended Mass every Sunday, rejected the Catholic Church much more emphatically than I ever did. Even though my husband didn’t grow up in a home with a drunk guy shouting from the front porch at random passersby that all priests are “queers” (that would be my Dad), my husband refused to allow our children to be baptized. The atheist in the relationship (that would be me) would have been okay with it.

Don’t try to make sense of my beliefs. It will just make your brain hurt.

My beliefs have made my own brain hurt for a while now, including a few months I worked as an office temp several years ago. Because I was a temp, I occupied a place in the office hierarchy alongside the cleaning crew. There was a guy there who did most of the maintenance: replacing lightbulbs, fixing the lock on the women’s room door, painting the conference room a pale green called “Seedling.” In a foolish moment of proletarian solidarity, I introduced myself, my small act of rebellion against a workplace that did not acknowledge my his existence, let alone my his labor (perhaps you can understand why my career there did not progress beyond the status of a temp). He told me his name was Arthur. From then on, Arthur greeted me thusly (if the sun was shining).

“The Lord has given us a beautiful day, Karen!”

If it was raining, he would say

“The Lord has given all the plants and trees a good drink of water today, Karen!”

God sees all and knows where you left that paintbrush.

God sees everything and He knows where you left that paintbrush.

Fortunately, no natural catastrophes struck during my stint as a temp in that office, so I never got to see how Arthur’s Christian optimism would interpret an earthquake or a tsunami. Still, he did relate to me his experience of other divine interventions on his behalf. For example, there was the time he misplaced his brush while painting that conference room.

“The Lord must have been looking out for me, Karen, because he showed me right where it was, on top of the step ladder!”

And that time he parked his car, yet remained inside, fiddling with the radio for a few moments, when a speeding Toyota Camry whizzed down the street. Again, he credited the Lord with his inability to find the Washington Redskins broadcast on the AM dial and avoiding certain death in a gruesome traffic fatality.

Arthur’s need to share his faith with me remains inexplicable, sort of like the reasons why I have so many Christian followers. If I had to guess about his motivations, I think I’ll say that he was dropping what I’ll call “God hints”: little cues in conversation he hoped would start a larger discussion that would open up an opportunity to convert me. Maybe that’s what the Christian followers are doing, too, when they follow my blog. I don’t think I’m out here in the world sending a message that I need saving, but maybe with all the flailing around I do in life, and on this blog, that’s the message Christians hear.

Ahead of Pope Francis’s visit, the Washington Post published a story about all the Catholics, like my husband and I, who have left the Church. Like so many others, we’ve stopped following Catholicism. Yesterday, the paper published another story about how Americans really, really, really like Pope Francis but we really, really, really don’t like the Catholic Church.

I don’t know if the Pope’s visit will be able to bring disaffected Catholics back into the fold. So far Pope Francis seems to be saying the right things on a lot of issues that are important to Americans and American Catholics. I do know that this part of the country where I live is in an absolute frenzy during his visit, and I’m just waiting to come out the other side.

Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia on September 26 and 27. You can find his schedule here.

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My Blog Is Relevant. I’m just as surprised as you are.

It’s so rare that any of the content I produce on Do Not Get Sick In the Sink, Please  is relevant or timely or interesting useful, but I woke up this morning to the news that two  (two!) topics I’d blogged about recently were all over the place.

And by “all over the place” I mean trending on Twitter, which is all that matters.

Anyway, the news reports this morning  on the Ashley Madison hack confirm what I only joked about it the post Life is Short. Stay Away From My Husband. Sanctimonious virgins really are behind that data breach. You can’t make this stuff up, people.

ashley-madison-siteAnd for those of you who are wondering if your wife will have a headache tonight, your worries are over (or just about). The FDA approved flibanserin (the so-called female Viagra) yesterday, so I’m sure the future of American women involves us all being so horny all the time we can’t sit still (not that I wasn’t already). I’m ambivalent about the drug, and you can hear me hem and haw and ultimately come to no conclusion at all in Her Eyes Say Yes (It’s Just the Medication Talking).

He's taking boner pills, and she's taken meds that make her think he's attractive.

He’s taking boner pills, and she’s taking meds that make her think he’s attractive.

The photo of the sexually dysfunctioning couple comes from freeimages.comThe Ashley Madison logo comes from

Life is Short. Stay Away From My Husband.

There is no time like the present for cheating on your spouse, at least according to


And life is short, I won’t argue with that, and I’ll wager it’s going to be significantly shorter if your spouse finds out you’ve signed up for a membership on, the internet fucking dating site for cheaters married people.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with married-and-cheating websites, let me explain that there are a whole bunch of them out there, with names like Marital Affair and Illicit Encounters, and still others with names like eHarmony and (for those who want to cheat on their spouses, but not with other sleazy cheaters).

Anyway, back to Sanctimonious virgins Hackers broke into the website recently and made off with the personal information of the members, which is sort of like what happened at Home Depot and Target awhile back, only instead of your spouse discovering you’re painting the bathroom some weird shade of green or wearing Sonia Kashuk cosmetics, they just found out you’re trying to have marital relations with someone outside your marital relationship.

As you might imagine, the data breach sent a collective shudder through the internet, as adulterers around the world wondered what the hackers would do with the information. Would they leak all the registered email addresses, alerting the world (and that includes your spouse!) that you’ve been out there doing something you should not have been doing? Would the Ashley Madison hack be a sort of sexed-up version, with sex, of Edward Snowden releasing all those super-secret classified documents?

You can imagine why some folks were concerned. Not me (Are you surprised? Dear Reader, must you have such a low opinion of me?), as my familiarity with comes mostly from that one episode of The Simpsons.

Since I’ve been researching this post, I’ve become more familiar with (btw, remind me to clear my browsing history). The site is full of all sorts of interesting information, if by “interesting” you mean “depressing.” Here’s an infographic I pulled from the site’s Twitter feed, purporting to show the “top cheating neighborhoods” in Philadelphia.


My neighborhood isn’t on the map, so I guess if I want to cheat, I’ll have to move. If I’m looking for a threesome, I’ll head to Mount Airy (that’s what the image included there, means, right?) and if I’m interested in a spirited game of Chinese Checkers before cheating, I guess University City is the place to be. Animal lovers cheat in Frankford, and I’m not really sure what’s going on in Chestnut Hill, but it’s nice to see that couple spend quality time with their young child, even if they are cheating cheaters.

Still, that chart has to be heartening for the faithfully inclined: there are over six million people living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and only 50 of them are having affairs, apparently (please don’t argue with my careful interpretation of the highly scientific data that has been meticulously collected by Let’s see, half of those must be women (again, please don’t argue), so it looks like there are 25 desperate home-wreckers out there who I have to guard against.

I think I’m up for the task, because, as I demonstrated in the post, Tales to Tell, I’ll hiss and claw at your face if you even look at my husband. Bitch, you do not want to go there.

The images in this post come from and are believed to comply with Fair Use standards under U.S. and international copyright law.

We Really Are Living in the Future

There are some days that I wake up and pinch myself, wondering if I’m dreaming, or if I’m living as a character in a science fiction novel set in the year 2525.

Maybe I should start paying for the images I use on this blog. This is what I got on the freebie site when I searched

Maybe I should start paying for the images I use on this blog. This is what I got on the freebie site when I searched “The Future.”

I guess it all started way back in 2008, when a black guy got elected President. That’s when I first got the feeling that I was living in the future. And then again, a few years later, when Colorado decriminalized weed. I checked the calendar, and it was 2012, not 2212. And now, just the other day, in the 21st century, not the 23rd century, when the  Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriage is A-OK in the USA.

“Did you ever think you would live to see <insert astounding new event here>?” I find myself asking friends and family, as well as random strangers who have the misfortune of standing next to me on the commuter train platform when I’m feeling chatty.

The other day, I asked that same question when a package delivered from Amazon arrived on my doorstep.

“You sure get a lot of packages, Karen,” the mail carrier, Ruth, said as she handed the small box to me. She’s right. We do get a lot of packages, enough so that I’m on a first name basis with a United States postal worker.

While we do get a lot of packages, I had not ordered anything from Amazon recently, or at least, not that I could recall. There have been times when mysterious deliveries come to my door and only after opening the container do I remember that oh, yes, I did order Hot Buns™ 2 Piece Set for Light Hair back when I thought wearing my hair twisted in a tight knot at the back of my head would give me the appearance of seriousness and sophistication I was looking for, instead of just a screaming migraine.

I shook the box the mail carrier gave me, to see if its rattle would give away its secret. The contents shifted inscrutably. I decided it must be something my husband had ordered, although it arrived addressed to me, and left it there on the entryway table for him.

When my husband came home that evening, he denied ordering anything from Amazon. The entire family gathered around the mystery box.

Is it a bomb or just birthday greetings from Great Aunt Ethel-Anne?

Is it a bomb or just birthday greetings from Great Aunt Ethel-Anne?

“Maybe it’s a mistake,” I said, though, in my head, I’m thinking “bomb” not “mistake.” I don’t say it out loud so as not to frighten the children. Don’t be ridiculous, the sane voice in my head said. Who would want to mail bomb us? The insane voice in my head answered, No one ever thinks they’re going to get mail bombed. That’s what makes it so diabolical: the surprise factor.

“Maybe it’s a present,” the six year old said. Her birthday is in three weeks, although the event has been top of mind for her for going on six months now.

“Only one way to find out,” my husband said. He took hold of the box and ripped off the packaging tape. “Look, it’s that thing you ordered!”

While I’m relieved it’s not a bomb, I can’t remember any “thing” I ordered. I peered into the box and remembered. “Oh, yeah, that thing.”

That thing.

That thing.

“That thing” is the Amazon Echo, the voice-activated electronic personal assistant. I’d received an invitation about a year ago, asking me if I wanted to be part of the exclusive few to be offered the opportunity to pre-order the Echo at an introductory price of $99, and it would ship as soon as it was available.

I forwarded the email to my husband. “Would we have any use for this thing?” I asked him.

My husband, who has never seen a gadget he could not find a use for, replied, “Oh, yeah! Let’s get that thing!”

So here it was, that thing, arriving on our doorstep so many months later, after we’d forgotten that we ever even wanted it. It sits in our living room, listening for its “wake word” (“Alexa!”), ready to spring to life at our command.

“Alexa! Weather forecast.”

“Currently, it’s sixty degrees with showers. You can expect more of the same today, with a high of 76 and a low of 58.”

“Alexa! To Do list.”

“What would you like me to add to your To Do list?”

The Echo comes with an associated smartphone application, and the items I’ve added by voice to a list show up on my phone in text. It’s actually pretty neat, though Alexa’s interpretation of what I’ve said can be hit or miss. Here’s what she thought I wanted at the grocery store.


I don’t remember what I said that Alexa heard as “Boppy,” but all that seafood I’m buying? That’s supposed to be Fancy Feast cat food. I’m thinking the cats at our house have somehow figured out a way to get Alexa to hear “Fresh Lobster and Shrimp” when I say “Grilled Liver in Gravy.”

And some of Alexa’s interpretations are downright prescient. After an early morning battle between Panic at the Disco (the musical request of my twelve-year-old daughter) and the soundtrack to Teen Beach 2 (the preference of her six-year-old sister), I shouted

“Alexa! Play morning music.”

For a moment, I feared the Echo would hear “mourning” instead of “morning” and fill the house with funeral dirges. Instead, Alexa responded

“You are listening to the Classical Hangover playlist.”

The soothing strains of Pachelbel’s Canon in D came through the speakers and I thought, artificial intelligence is really freaking brilliant.

Of course, there are detractors. Some folks are wary of  technology sitting in our homes, listening, listening, listening to our every  hiccup and fart move. I came across this comment on a review of the product over on CNET.

I collect and analyze consumer data from AC Nielsen and customer loyalty cards for a living. I’m not a tin foil hat wearer, but this product straight up scares me. The only reason Amazon made this was to squeeze more money from Prime users, thats it. Now it can start collecting trends based on age, race, location, time of day, etc and correlate that to other Echo users across the country. Guaranteed, Amazon will apply all this information towards better marketing to you. Leave it in your bedroom, and it will learn when you go to sleep and wake up, how well you sleep, when you have sex, if you watch TV in bed, etc. It has the ability to learn all of your friends and family, where they live, and anything you say out loud in your home. Amazon’s ultimate wet dream would be the ability to collect your thoughts, but we aren’t there yet. 

I showed the piece to my husband and asked, “Do you really think Amazon will be able to track how often we have sex? I’m thinking they just know how often I buy cherry-flavored lube, which is not the same thing.”

On that note, Dear Reader, I’ll leave you with the information that the Echo is now available to purchase without an invitation for the much less attractive price of $179.99, if you’ve got any money left over after you buy cherry-flavored lube.

Royalty free stock photos, including some of the images in this post, can be found at The photo of the Echo is taken from the Amazon website, and is believed to be used under the doctrine of Fair Use and does not violate US or International copyright law. The screenshot of my shopping list is from my phone.

My Mission to Mars

Mars needs women. And men. And quirky musicians and nerdy physicians.

These are the sorts of folks who have applied for the Mars One project. You may have read about the project before. It’s a private, not-for-profit endeavor that plans to send normal, average, everyday people to the red planet on a one-way ticket (that’s cheaper than a round-trip fare, natch). Anyway, the Washington Post profiled some of the applicants in a recent piece titled,”Would you leave your family behind to be the first human to set foot on Mars?

With a decade until takeoff, Mars One founders reasoned that they don’t need the most experienced, educated or credentialed astronauts. They need people — four for the first trip, and four every two years after that — who can psychologically handle spending the rest of their lives with only each other on a planet no human has ever set foot upon.

I’ll admit, yes, there are days I would leave my family behind to set foot anywhere other than the  Philadelphia suburb where we reside, including Mars. Like the other day when my daughter shared some information (“The toilets in our house clog all the time.”) with a playmate’s mother.

That was one day where I wished I could hop a rocket to Mars.

Or when my husband moved the sofa in the living room so that when he lies down on it, he can still see the TV.

“You’re upsetting the conversational arrangement of the furniture,” I said. “Now when guests come over, there will be a lot of awkward silences, due to the position of the couch.”

“When do we ever have guests?” he asked.

“Just put the damn sofa back where it was.”

And while we argued, I again wished I could book a ticket to Mars.

But upon further research, I’m thinking I might prefer a tropical island here on Earth a bit more than the foreboding surface of the fourth planet from the sun. Mars has a thin atmosphere that’s full of huge dusty, rusty sandstorms stirred up from its iron surface. It’s mostly really cold, even colder than this interminable 2015 winter. The surface cannot support life as we know it, but some scientists believe there may be something going on below ground: perhaps there’s water, and maybe some one-celled amoebas or something floating around there.

As the planet is uninhabitable, the successful applicants to the program wouldn’t actually be living “on” Mars. They’ll be living in a space station camped on the surface, sort of like how some RVers park in the lots of different Walmart SuperCenters as they travel around the country. I guess technically they’re seeing the whole United States, but doesn’t one WalMart SuperCenter pretty much look like any other? My point is, if I can’t actually go out and experience WalMart Mars, why not just stay home? Oh, sure, I guess I can look out the window and see WalMart Mars, or put on some insulated suit that protects me against WalMart Mars*, but what’s the point? It seems like a lot of work to live your life as a shut-in with only occasional excursions out dressed like the Michelin Man for only as long as your oxygen tank holds out.

I’m sure I could never “psychologically handle” a trip to Mars. I suffer from all sorts of anxieties (mix some acrophobia, agoraphobia, and claustrophobia with a healthy dose of misanthropy and you’ll wind up with the cocktail that is me) that would make me the world’s worst Mars One Martian. I doubt if I would be able to survive the lift-off, let alone the 34 million mile journey.



Me, on the spaceship to Mars: You don’t think this spaceship is going to crash, do you? Never mind worrying about surviving on the surface of Mars, we could die right here, on the launchpad, in a fiery explosion. And did you get a good look at the pilot? He looks like a drinker to me. I hope he’s sober today. And could they make this spaceship any smaller, do you think? I feel like a sardine in a can. Is that how you feel? What a way to die, trapped like a sardine in a can. Oh, God, I don’t want to die! Not like this, not like a sardine in a can!

In the unlikely event that I survived the flight to Mars without one of the other passengers cutting off my oxygen supply, the worst part of the ordeal was to come: I’d have to live with the same three people for two whole years until the next mission arrived.

See, I already live with the same three people: my two kids and my husband. And I don’t much like being with them a lot of the time. Imagine if I were trapped with people I hadn’t carried in my womb for nine months, or the guy who I still (occasionally) want to be with naked.

I just don’t see it ending well.

Me, on Mars: Who the fuck left the top off the toothpaste again? Now it’s all floated off to God knows where. What, did you forget that we’re living in an environment with only a third of the gravitational pull as Earth? Next time, before you pull a dumbass move like this, take a look out the window. See all that red dust blowing up a shitstorm out there? That’s because we’re on fucking Mars, you assholes! Now put the fucking top back on the toothpaste!

Besides fighting with each other, just what are “average” people supposed to do all day on Mars, which is 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth? I guess they won’t be conducting experiments because they aren’t scientists, or else the experiments they conduct will have to be like the ones from my eighth grade science fair where half the class stuck copper wires into a potato and called it a day. But even I must admit that extra forty minutes would come in handy, and, at the very least, no one will have an excuse for not completing the Amazing 37-Minute Workout.

For most people, I imagine the deal breaker with the Mars One project is that you can’t come back. Still, there seem to be an awful lot of people who aren’t bothered by this requirement. According to yesterday’s news release, there were 202,586 applicants, and that number has now been winnowed down to a crazy lucky 100.

*Wouldn’t it be great if there really were suits you could wear to protect yourself against Walmart?

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It’s 3am, I Must Be Up Reading Your Blog

Daily Post at

The Daily Prompt from the Daily Post for February 26:

What is the best dream you’ve ever had? Recount it for us in all its ethereal glory. If no dream stands out in your memory, recount your worst nightmare. Leave no frightening detail out.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IMAGINARY.


I’m one of those people who not only remembers my dreams, but I’m also annoying enough to tell you about them, in excruciating detail, over breakfast.

“. . . and then all my teeth started to fall out,” I’ll say to you while you’re waiting for your cup of coffee to cool enough to drink.

“And they felt like shards of broken glass in my mouth,” I’ll continue even though you’re not even listening anymore, you’re thinking about how your period is late and maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to hook up with Brad after all.  Or else you’re thinking about how the dog’s breath has been smelling funny lately and you should make an appointment with the vet for her after work.

But there I am, my voice droning on, still detailing my dream to you as though I haven’t even noticed your eyes glazing over.  Sometimes I’ll even add dramatic hand gestures to my story-telling, pantomiming the dream sequence.

“So I had to spit them out of my mouth and into my hand, one by one, like this.” I hold my hands before my mouth and make several loud “Ptooey!” noises.

“And then I held my hands out for everyone to see.” I hold out my palms to you. With only a slight hesitation, you lean forward to check to see if there are any teeth there.  There are not.  It was only a dream.

"Mmmm, of course I'll be your girlfriend, James Franco."

“Mmmm, of course I’ll be your girlfriend, James Franco.”

My husband is one of those people who never remembers his dreams.

“Not even the sex ones?” I asked.

“No, not even the sex ones, ” he said.

“Ok, well, then let me tell you about this sex dream I had last night . . .” Fortunately, this particular sex dream co-starred my husband (they don’t always).

Anyway, I’ve always assumed that people like my husband who don’t remember their dreams are rational and no-nonsense.  Meanwhile, people who do remember their dreams like me are creative and maybe a little bit dippy.

Now along comes this study, “Resting Brain Activity Varies with Dream Recall Frequency Between Subjects,” that says that I’m all wrong.  Dream recall has nothing to do with being creative!  It’s merely a matter of how soundly one sleeps.  From the Washington Post article on the research:

In general, dream recall is thought to require some amount of wakefulness during the night for the vision to be encoded in longer-term memory. But it is not known what causes some people to wake up more than others.

So people who wake up a lot at night have the opportunity to remember their dreams and store them in long term memory so they can recall them later, while people who sleep through until the alarm clock goes off never get that chance.

This makes perfect sense to me because I remember my dreams and I never sleep through the night! In fact, you may have noticed the odd time stamps on the comments I leave on your blog and you’ve been scratching your head wondering what time zone I live in.  Is it Brunei Darussalam Time? How about Hawaii-Aleutian Daylight Time?  No, it’s Eastern Standard Time and it really is 3am and I’m up reading your blog.

Royalty free stock photos including the image in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.

Tin Pan Anniversary

Like a railroad train bearing down on me in an episode of a silent movie serial, my wedding anniversary is fast approaching.

I’ve long struggled with what to give my husband for the day that will live in infamy our anniversary and find myself consulting those lists of traditional gifts each year.  You can find out what you’re supposed to give (or get) every year here. For those of you who don’t know how the internet works, I’ll provide the list for the first ten years of marriage:

  1. Paper
  2. Cotton
  3. Leather
  4. Fruit, flowers
  5. Wood
  6. Sugar
  7. Copper, wool
  8. Bronze
  9. Pottery, willow
  10. Tin
I knew I should have gotten him the DVD!

How am I supposed to wrap this?

Looks like last year I was supposed to give him a piece of pottery or a willow.  A willow?   Yes, a willow.  I wonder if that means the tree or the filmI guess it doesn’t matter since we both forgot our anniversary last year.  About a week later I finally remembered that I’d forgotten, but since he didn’t even remember that he forgot, I decided to save this bit of information to use against him in our next argument (“Not only did you leave the toilet seat up, but you forgot our anniversary, you bastard!”)

So this year it looks like I’m supposed to give him something made of tin. suggests the “luxurious” Bentley’s Finest Tea Classic Collection Tin Gift Set (certified Kosher!), as well as tin cufflinks and a photo frame (“Cheap looking and definitely not what was expected” writes one disappointed purchaser).

I guess any of those ideas would be better than what one Pennsylvania couple decided to do together to commemorate their three-week (here I am, worrying about what to give for ten years of marriage while other couples celebrate their marriages as a weekly event!) anniversary.  From the NY Daily News:

They celebrated their three-week wedding anniversary and Veteran’s Day by killing a man for the thrill of it, according to police.

Elytte Barbour, 22, and his 18-year-old bride, Miranda, are charged with murder for the Nov. 11 killing of Troy LaFerrara, 42, a man who answered the woman’s Craigslist ad offering companionship in the form of “delightful conversation.”

I’ve warned you all about Craigslist before in the posts You Really Can Find Anything on CraigslistAdventures in Babymaking and Too Stupid to Live but I guess poor, doomed Troy LaFerrara was not a follower of Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please . Let his life (and death) be a lesson to you all to keep on following my blog.

As if murdering a stranger off Craigslist to celebrate your anniversary isn’t shocking enough, Mrs. Barbour is now claiming to be a mass-murdering Satanist.  Because, you know, why not?  I’m sure she has nothing better to do than think up crazy bullshit while lying around her cell waiting for trial.

As for me, I’m lying around wondering if it’s too much to hope my husband will forget about our anniversary again this year.

Royalty free stock photos including the image in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.

Reproduction Ruined My Sex Life

From the file “Water is Wet, Also” comes this news: Happier Relationships for Couples Without Children,  a headline to which all the fruitful and multiplying couples in the world collectively responded, “No shit.”

If you click on the linky-link you’ll find out that the Open University interviewed over 5,000 people to come to this not-so-startling conclusion.  The Open University, by the way, sounds like a totally made up name for a fake school, which it sort of is.  You can check out their website here if you want.  Anyway, in 100 years, we’ll all probably be speaking of Open University in revered tones and praying that our great-great-great grandchildren get accepted there.  People probably snickered about Cambridge and Yale and the Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy when they were new, too.

Let’s see what the 5,000 folks at the Open University had to say about relationships and happiness and everything.

For both men and women, those who did not have children ranked the quality of their relationship more highly than those who did. They also did significantly more to “maintain” their relationship, such as taking time to go out together or talk, than those with children.

By “taking time to go out together or talk” they mean “have sex”, right?  Because that’s what I would mean by it.

I think that was just the cat using the litterbox!

Did you just hear one of the kids cough?

My own robust marital sex life took a downward turn the night our four year old wandered into our bedroom looking for a glass of water.  The experience so scarred my husband he was still shaking about it three days later.  Luckily, his psyche (and his penis) eventually recovered and we resumed our sexual relationship, only now sex was quiet, quick and furtive.  Also, my husband added this tantalizing question to his foreplay routine:

“Are you sure they’re asleep?”

I don’t know what he expected me to do to ensure our kids were soundly asleep.  Maybe spike their juice boxes with Vicks® Nyquil®?

Since the phenomenon of coitus interruptus de filii (or whatever we want to call it) is so widespread,

Mommy put on her nice underwear tonight.  Time to come down with a stomach virus!

Mommy put on her nice underwear tonight. Time to come down with a stomach virus!

there must be some advantage to children having evolved this ability to disrupt their parents’ sex lives.  Now that I think about it, it’s quite obvious: family resources are limited and the more children there are the thinner those resources get spread around, so it makes sense for the existing children to not want more children.  It’s the same reason why baby birds peck their siblings (sometimes to death) in the nest: they want a bigger share of that worm.  Since humans don’t have beaks, we had to develop another technique to limit the number of competitors within the family.  I imagine it works something like this, just as Daddy puts a little Marvin Gaye on the stereo and Mommy slips out of her pair of good underwear.

INT. Children’s Bedroom. Night.

Older Sister: (throwing a shoe across the room at Younger Sister asleep in bed)  Wake up!  I think they’re trying to have sex again!

Younger Sister: Huh?  What?

Older Sister:  They’re trying to have sex!  You better go in there and tell them you had a scary dream or something.

Younger Sister: Why?

Older Sister: To stop them from having sex!

Younger Sister: Why do I want them to stop having sex?  What do I care?  I don’t even know what sex is!

Older Sister: Sex is how you make babies, stupid.  If only I’d known what they were up to the night you were conceived.  Oh, well.  Now it’s in both our interest to stop anymore babies from coming into this house!   As it is, my future is already full of Friday nights waiting tables to pay for college.  And you better start taking kindergarten more seriously! They’re not going to throw away our limited financial resources on someone who gets a “Needs to Improve” in Listens Attentively!  Now go on, get in there.  Tell them your tummy hurts and I’ll go downstairs and start a fire in the microwave with a piece of aluminum foil.

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