Monthly Archives: January 2012

Evolution and Jersey Shore

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It’s here. The final semester. The last time I will be a part of an undergraduate class. It’s a magical, magical feeling really. So thrilled am I at having almost completed my messy and obscure adventure through college, the usual first week of classes gloom has not set in. I’m okay with whatever projects you want to assign me, dear professor. I am not angered by your insisting I attend every class even though I am the one paying YOU to be here. You can’t bring me down! I even found myself walking around campus on this particularly lovely day with OneRepublic cheering up my brain, smiling to myself. It was a very peaceful and happy experience. Sure, there’s a big scary world on the other side that I’ll be forced to join in just a few short months. But that’s okay, because I am determined to enjoy this last semester’s worth of college life.

But enough about all that. One of my classes is about human evolution and sex. And it already occurs to me that while there are many ways in which evolution has shaped our mating practices and societal norms surrounding mating, there is one area in which we have defied all evolutionary sense. Monogamy. Strictly speaking, it is not really the most beneficial way to survive. Choosing just one person to be with forever and ever, through thick and thin, famine and disease, sickness and health. Well that’s just plain dumb. If your mate gets sick and can’t protect the family? If your mate gets hurt and can no longer bring home food for your survival? What if your mate cannot actually provide their half of the reproductive equation, and thus you cannot pass on your own amazing genetic material in the form of a new person? All because you promised you’d stay with this one person until you both die! Let’s face it, on top of our flagrant disregard for the environment and the existence of television shows like Jersey Shore, monogamy is just one more way humans have really struck out.

Now, arguably, once upon a time humans did not live nearly as long as we do now. In fact life expectancy was about half of what it is today. So, by the time you’d reached a reproductive age and then pop our your kids, you’re only around long enough to see half of them live, and if you’re lucky until they reach a reproductive age themselves and carry on the family line. On top of that, a lot more people died from disease, starvation, fatal accidents…it wasn’t pretty. So really there was only time to pick out and marry one other person, and before you got tired of each other or someone became invalid or infertile, you both died. Harsh, but true.

Now, we’re all living to 90 and there’s like 5 billion more of us out there. Literally. So not only has the mating “pool” gotten considerably larger and more diverse, but you can go ahead and have a kid or two with one person (and you should really stop before you hit five, because they’ll most likely all live now) raise those kids, get tired of each other, and go your separate ways to spend another 25-50 years with another mate! Seriously! We have A LOT of time on our hands now. What are the odds that you’re going to age and change in the same direction as the person you fell in love with when you were in college? I may sound cynical to you, but think about it. Out of 7 billion people in the world, you’re going to run into the “one” you belong with, and then continue to like them as a person for the next 65 years of your life? I have trouble grasping this concept.

That being said, I’m a big fat sap. I love a good romance. Who doesn’t hope the next great romance of the century is theirs? I do. All the time. But more importantly, I think it’s important that it feels like the GREATEST romance of the century to those involved. Whether it last two weeks or fifty years. Clearly reproduction is not a challenge we face as a species. So really, we should be enjoying the ride more. And if that means one romance must end to allow another to begin, so be it! You can only become the person your someone adores by having all of the previous experiences that made you that way. My point being, Monogamy is a good concept, but it doesn’t have to mean monogamous for all time. That is all.

 

No, you cannot have turkey in July.

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Okay. After watching a documentary called “Bag It” about how much plastic we use, which by the way is WAY too much, I’ve hopped on my high horse (named Nesbit) and decided to resent everything I find ridiculous. I’m going to start with the Oscar Meyer commercials I’ve seen lately. For instance, Carving Board Turkey- the catchy line being, “you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving for the perfect Thanksgiving sandwich.”

YES. YOU DO HAVE TO WAIT. Thanksgiving comes once a year, in all of its turkey, cranberry, stuffing glory. You CANNOT have Thanksgiving turkey every day just because you want it. Nevermind that it totally undermines the anticipation of one of the greatest holidays ever. (Which I believe because I’m a fat kid who loves food, not because it celebrates the pilgrims showing up and totally ruining the Native Americans’ day/lives). But because we cannot keep going down the path of “I want it right now so I’m going to have it right now”. The internet is bad enough. Can we not preserve any of our traditions? I’m all for integrating new things into our lives, I’m not saying change is bad. We’ve always been a nation of multiple nationalities, the “melting pot”. Which is awesome. But trying to bring holiday favorites into our every day life is just absurd. Suck it up and wait for Thanksgiving. And maybe Christmas, as some people like a turkey dinner to celebrate Jesus. Whatever. But don’t be eating turkey sandwiches that taste like Thanksgiving in July! That is the month of hot dogs, burgers, and fireworks. I won’t EVEN get started on trying to eat locally, sustainable food, because I don’t think anyone is ready for that. Not to mention how hard it is to do without a LOT of people trying to do it together. I won’t lie, that kind of lifestyle is HARD. Especially if you’re straight college kid broke. But I do think it is an important part of conserving our planet. Along with reducing our waste. Which brings me to my next point.

Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE should check out Bagitmovie.com. The Bag It documentary is all about how much CRAP we are putting into the environment, especially plastic bags. (in 2009 we used 102 BILLION plastic bags in the United States alone!) and how our actions in fact do have consequences. For instance, if you don’t use a reusable water bottle (I am addicted to my CamelBak, check it out if you’re looking for a place to start) and you’re buying bottled water all the time, you suck. The amount of oil (oh yeah, making plastic requires A LOT of oil! I had no idea!) and energy it takes to make/ship those bottles is absurd, and on top of that many of them aren’t really recyclable plastic. They get sent to China for women to work for absurdly low wages in terrible conditions to sort them from other trash and them melt them down in chemically dangerous ways. Plastic is cool, and does some great things. But we do not need to use SO MUCH of it. Our instant gratification in getting designer water, snacks, jerky, whatever is ridiculous.

“Think about it, why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away. What’s up with that?”

– Jeb Berrier

And COFFEE! Jeeze people, buy a travel mug in a vibrant color or funky animal print and REFILL IT. The coffeegivers of the world are generally happy to do it, and in fact, some smaller coffee shops give you a discount for doing so! Not to mention a travel mug won’t burn your hands or require extra cardboard to be able to hold it. Which is one more thing to throw away. AND it’s not just cardboard. Those cups are actually LINED with plastic. PLASTIC. It’s everywhere! So put your java mocha half calf no whip extra foam blabbity blah blah in a REUSABLE mug and save the planet already!

Anyway, baby steps. I am in no way saying I am a champion at eating/living environmentally sustainably. But I do have both a water bottle and a travel mug I pretty much always keep on me. I also have a sickness where everything I drink must be on ice and consumed via straw, and I can’t very well cross contaminate my water bottle with soda and juice. BUT they sell these fun reusable BPA-free plastic cups that look like fountain soda cups. They even come with straws! And then you can fill-er-up at any soda fountain you want! Sometimes you get a refill discount! It’s a win-win people. My next goal is to start bringing my own plastic containers to the grocery store to collect veggies, nuts, fruits, meat, fish etc so I’m not using so many silly PLASTIC BAGS to take my apples and chicken breasts home in. Attempting to totally weed out plastic from your life is hard, and time consuming, as most everything must then be made from scratch. But next time you’re buying meat, take that old tupperware container with you and get your meat from the meatgiver (or seafoodgiver) behind the glass case. Easy access when you get home, and they don’t waste any  paper/plastic wrapping up your stuff! Yes, it’s hard to remember, but if we all make the effort, we can make big changes! Every generation or so has their major challenge to overcome. War, Civil Rights, Economic Depression. I think it’s our turn to tackle this one- our population’s effects on the environment. As technology continues to make it possible to live life at a faster and faster pace, we’re consuming more things faster and faster. Which means throwing out things faster and faster. It’s gotta stop!

Alright. Nesbit is tired, and my proverbial butt is sore from our lengthy ride today. But don’t worry, I’ll be back in the saddle again soon.

What Else is Silly Putty Good For?

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It’s 2012! Alrighty. A new year. Twenty-Twelve. Two Thousand and Twelve Years.

…What? Two Thousand and Twelve? Shouldn’t we be further along by now? I know we’ve got social media down pretty good, what with the facebooking and the Googling and the ever popular #hashtagging. But why aren’t we driving hovercraft and fighting with light sabers? Where are the Willy Wonka style gumballs that taste like a four course meal? Where’s my vacation on the Moon? The best we’ve really managed to do is begin the ending of print media as we know it. With all these crazy Kindles and Nooks and ipads…Newspapers are definitely in for it. And books! I mean, I think books will always have their own charm and appeal, because they’re books. And lets face it, yes immediately downloading a new book you’ve been dying to read can be rewarding. But it’s not the same as making a special trip to the store, searching out the book you’ve been daydreaming about all week, pulling it off the shelf and hugging it like it was an old friend. True bibliophiles know what I mean, and I think there are more of us than anyone really knows. And as an author, where would the fun be in scrolling through Amazon to find your book, rather than going out to the bookstore to find it sitting up front, or in the “employee favorites” section? There’s no thrill in that! Picking it up, smelling the pages, having people ask you to sign it for them. No, I think books will maintain some of their original grandeur.

Newspapers though…they’re just like early social networking. What with the want-ads, the classifieds, the Op-Eds (Which by the way, surprisingly few of my peers understand the meaning of). Clipping out big stories or pictures, pasting them in a journal or a scrapbook to remember or show off to your friends. Newspapers were like the original craigslist/facebook/twitter. Just slower. And messier. I won’t miss the dirty newspaper fingers. But let’s face it, in order for media companies to keep up with technology and their customers, they’re going to have to publish electronically. Which pretty much all of them already do. I imagine cutting out the need for paper/ink would save companies some money. Plus, with everyone on their computers/phones/ipads/ etc ALL the time, news is just newsier online. We are instant gratification lushes, and waiting for the evening Newspaper is just not going to satisfy us.

So, as we ring in the new year, we should also begin saying our farewells to newspapers. I’m not saying I like it, but I am saying it seems inevitable. I’ll have to find other things to imprint on my silly putty.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!