Notes From the Trip (so far)

Dollar for dollar, new wiper blades are the best investment you can make in having a better day. If poutine is on the menu, get the poutine. At least one, you know, for the table. Numbers bigger than about 10,000 are all pretty much the same.

It is possible to stop biting your finger nails by simply deciding to do so. Your flight attendant is more annoyed than you are. Maplewood smoked bacon is delicious, and maple syrup on bacon is underrated . Maple flavored bacon should be against the law. Fish don’t make great pets. You will not be remembered, eventually.

Someone needs to be in jail for this.

Fear of not having done something is not a great reason to do that thing, although it is a powerful one. There is no traditional gift-giving occasion for which bottle rockets are an inappropriate present. All pants should have a little spandex. And while we’re talking about pants you should just buy used clothes and have them tailored. If you don’t outlive at least a few dogs, you’re not doing so hot yourself.

But you still miss them.

The Coriolis effect gets more credit than it deserves. Prince > Michael (RIP). Flint, Michigan still does not have a municipal water supply. Laziness and anxiety are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and actually if we’re honest they probably almost always go hand in hand. Pig is the second best kind of fat. If it’s on the internet, and it’s free, you are not the customer. It’s ok to knock some things before you try them.

Most people are not good or bad or righteous or evil as much as they are really just incredibly bored, and the truest show of patriotism is to go abroad and be kind. Not making a decision is a decision. Happiness and contentment are easily conflated. It’s not really all that hard to build something valuable, but it’s wildly difficult to build something that remains valuable without your daily, fingers-to-the-bone, compulsive commitment to improving that valuable thing. Some people will not, cannot, tolerate even five minutes of silence.

The kids will be fine. Probably.

A handwritten letter means more today than it ever has. You could do worse; you can do better.

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Bikini Bod Diet

Today is January 9th, so by now you have almost certainly abandoned your New Year’s Resolution. That’s fine. Those things are useless anyway. Besides, worrying about a New Year’s Resolution at this point is, like, worrying about the past, and stuff, which is pretty much antithetical to the whole point of the New Year’s Resolution concept. Right now? It’s beach body season, and I’ve got three great diets to get you trim and fit for that Speedo in the drawer.

You should know that these are cutting edge fueling techniques, and not to be approached by the faint of heart. These are not silly guidelines like the Whole 30, or the Ketogenic diet, or a cayenne and lemon juice cleanse. Those are for the diet dilettantes and philistines; my three step super diet plan is for hardcore fitness evangelists.

If you think you have what it takes to bring your future to the max, read on. For you, right now, this deal is completely free, and we only ask that you subscribe to email notifications on this blog. In the future, access to this hardcore-extreme-super-diet information will cost as much as $49 a day, so be sure to subscribe now for the best deal. Are you ready to blast cellulose and make Channing Tatum look like a softbody? Me to. Let’s do it.

1. I Don’t Know Maybe Try To Eat Better

By now you’ve probably had at least a couple dozen trips around the sun, and learned a few things along the way. Here’s the thing – you know what healthy food is. You know, fruits and vegetables, stuff like that. Maybe some salmon. You probably don’t need to count calories, or worry about carbs v. fat, to know that that the salad is better for you than the fries. Of course the fries are more delicious (they’re fried), but we’re on beach body detail right now. So just get the stupid salad. I guess that’s pretty much it.

And actually for the record this isn’t some raw diet either. You want to cook your zucchini in a little butter? Fine, great. Most of those other fancy diets can really be distilled to “you should probably eat more vegetables” anyway. What this diet lacks in dogma, it makes up for in quality of life.

2. I Guess Try Not To Eat So Much

The beauty of eating delicious food is that with every bite of that delicious food we forget, if only for a brief moment, all those feelings of sadness and shame and inadequacy that occupy our internal dialogues pretty much every waking second of every single day, and so when the first bite is gone we take another bite and it prolongs the numbness for another few seconds and is a pretty high functioning coping mechanism (if I do say so myself) up to the instant that we become full and the pendulum swings. Subsequent bites of delicious food leave us slightly more self-conscious, more shameful and inadequate (of course we continue to eat because it is more about the ritual of eating than the deliciousness of the food, and not all that different from smokers who claim the most difficult part of quitting is not knowing what to do with their hands), and fifteen minutes or so after we stop eating because we are impossibly full and the real sensation of fullness takes hold we are washed over by a newer, heavier feeling of shame and we lie on our backs and press against our belts and do not feel worthwhile, and the beauty of that once delicious food is lost and replaced by a kind of anger at ourselves, sure, but also at the food itself, which, when we’re honest, doesn’t make any fucking sense at all, but still, here we are.

He’s doing the diet wrong. The tigers are a nice touch though.

And so I get that “maybe don’t eat so much” is not necessarily helpful advice. But then maybe it is, and a small gesture of mindfulness at the inception of the meal is simply enough to simply eat less. Of course it could also add another layer of anxiety and self-doubt to the positive feedback relationship of shame and chewing and so in truth I don’t really know at all but hell maybe it’s worth a shot.

3. Just, Like, Don’t Drink So Much

I understand that your identity is pretty firmly wrapped up with being a beer aficionado, and after you watched Mad Men you picked up a healthy handle-a-week rye habit. That’s great. Booze is a helluva tool for getting through terrible wedding speeches or uncomfortable alone time with yourself. But maybe just tap the brakes for a minute and see what it’s like. And if you really need a breather from This, Here, Right Now, then just remember that MDMA has fewer calories, and less sugar and fat than that barrel aged imperial stout!

With these helpful dieting tips you can avoid the pitfalls of draconian fad diets and be well on your way to the bikini bod you know you deserve!

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This Is Not A Story About Chainsaws

This is not a story about chainsaws, but stick with me, because for a while here that’s exactly how it’s going to sound. It’s a good thing this isn’t about chainsaws, because if you’re anything like I was a year or two ago you don’t really know anything about those things beyond that they’re loud, and then that one scene from Scarface. Conversations about displacement, torque, chainspeed, and “yeah but what about the outboard clutch?” make your eyes glaze over, as they should if you have no use for a chainsaw. That’s pretty much where I stood for almost my entire life.

But then a couple of years ago my station in life changed a bit and I suddenly had a use for a gas-powered saw (a move I highly recommend, if you can swing it). I didn’t know anything, so I hopped on the online forums, was immediately overwhelmed, and finally just went over to Lowe’s. I think I texted a buddy “wut about this 1” or something but before he responded just pulled a Husqvarna 440e off the shelf and walked out with it. I didn’t know at the time, but it was the first step toward a maddening descent into chainsaw nerdiness.

Almost as soon as I learned to start it I wanted more power, and it turns out there’s a lot you can do to a small two-stroke to get that. I learned some vocabulary, pored over the arborist forums, and took any opportunity to bring up the power-to-weight ratio of that new 550XP at cookouts. More than anything, though, I picked up on the old-as-time rivalry between Husqvarna and Stihl. They’re essentially the two players in the game, and partisan loyalists really can’t ever seem to get enough of talking trash about the other guy:

That’s a good joke.

Now remember I’d happened to stumble into a Husky dealer, so that’s what I came away with. (Ace carries Stihl, this all could have gone a different way). And so pretty much the first thing I learned about chainsaws, from the forums, from joking on the jobsite, from gazing at the obviously-more-attractive-tenor-of-orange on the Husky’s plastic, is that Stihl saws are pieces of garbage.

Now, this is objectively untrue. But shit, I wound up with a Husky. And what happened two years later was really interesting.

The time came for the company to update the ol’ chainsaw collection, and once again we waded into the fray of “which chainsaw is the best chainsaw,” which, hell, good luck answering that question. From square one I leaned toward Husqvarna, although I could never really articulate why. I read online that Stihls sometimes struggle in the cold, and saw that happen once (nevermind that Huskies, including my own, sometimes have problem with hot starts). It was confirmation bias in action.

After many hours (days?) of research and introspection, we concluded finally that it doesn’t make a lick of difference. A thousand dollar chainsaw is going to be really, really nice. It doesn’t matter who makes it. And even with that said, I couldn’t bring myself to buy a Stihl, even if it was a few dollars cheaper for the same damn thing.

In only two years I went from knowing nothing about chainsaws to becoming a two-stroke bigot, only by making a random decision and telling a lot of harmless jokes. I literally joked my way into a real prejudice against Stihl saws. That’s insane.

In spite of an increasingly tolerant, globalized community, we’re still predisposed to tribalism. The heart of our national political conversation has absolutely nothing to do with policy or morals – it’s about beating the other guy, whoever that is. We’re eager to cite hypocrisy on the other side, but never seem to see it in our own camp. The only principle that we truly hold dear is that we’re right, and they’re wrong.

This doesn’t mean that you should do any damn foolish thing like buying a Stihl, but we need to be aware of the impact that jokes and confirmation bias play on our worldview. We’re imperfect, suggestible beings, and we’re drawn to things that make us feel right. I’m looking forward to being wrong.

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Kit Kat is the Best Candy Bar

Candy is a mainstay of the American diet. In a country where nearly 40% of adults are obese and one in two have high blood pressure, this should probably not come as a surprise. We invented chicken fried steak. The tur-duck-en. We have whole festivals where thousands of people come together to figure out how to deep fry improbable things.

Weird fried food and LDL cholesterol are a perfect for special occasions. When the in-laws are coming over and you’re busting out the good china, fried chicken and waffles is really the only thing to serve. But mundane, banal, day-to-day nourishment? That’s a job for candy.

Breakfast? Taken care of. Lunch? Dad knows. Dinner? Please. There’s candy bar called Chicken Dinner. Forget Halloween and Valentine’s Day, candy isn’t just for holidays. It’s for every day. And when something is as ubiquitous as candy in America, we have no choice but to parse every intricacy, explore every nuance, in the pursuit of the best candy bar.

Here we have a candy bar based on a breakfast cereal based on a candy cup. I’m pretty sure this is what Jefferson had in mind.

Obviously the question of the best candy bar will incite partisan fury and outrageous name calling. Obviously there are differences in opinion. Obviously some of us posses disparate tastes. But some things are simply not subjective.

The Kit Kat is the best candy bar. Calm yourself.

There’s a lot of great candy out there; this is America after all. But we need to consider a few things in our pursuit of the best, and for starters, let’s review some of the contenders.

Snickers

A Snickers bar is tasty, sure. It’s got all the major food groups: sugar, protein, fat, and nougat, and belongs in every glove box and bug out bag. But the Snickers is so practical, so filling, so savory that it barely even counts as candy at all. It’s sustenance.

Snickers Derivatives

Namely, the Milky Way and the 3 Musketeers. The Milky Way suffers from the same caramel issues as Twix, and the 3 Musketeers is best reserved for a late snack after you remove your dentures. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat these things ’til the cows come home, but right now we’re discussing greatness.

Twix

Credit were credit is due – Twix is a helluva candy bar. It’s even in the running for the top step under ideal atmospheric conditions. As we search for the best we can’t confine ourselves to how chocolate fares at its best. Caramel-based snacks must be optimized for a fairly narrow temperature window (like snow tires). In the same way that Carmelo is delicious at 20 def F, Twix is best enjoyed at a civilized 68. Twix will break your teeth below freezing, and both of these wilt much above 70.

Mr. Goodbar

Let’s be serious.

 

Skor

Whoa there turbo. We’re talking about chocolate bars here. Skor is to candy as beluga caviar is to imitation crab. Apples and oranges. Let’s keep the eye on the prize.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

These things are close. So close. The peanut butter is a little powdery, the chocolate is a little too sweet, and they suffer at warm temperatures. It’s just not quite there. But the benefits of peanut butter and chocolate are so undeniable that the esoteric Peanut Butter Twix probably deserves an honorable mention, missing out on real prestige only by virtue of limited circulation and the capricious whims of whomever does the ordering at convenience stores.

But consider the Kit Kat. It’s chocolate. It’s a cookie. It excels under any combination of pressure and temperature commonly found where humans live. Even when unbearably hot, say, above 86 deg or so, the cookie latticework preserves the structural integrity of the bar. You actually get four candy bars in one package. It’s honest, simple, unpretentious (looking at you, Take 5). The Kit Kat is the hero America needs right now.

Kit Kat is simply the best. Disagreeing is like disagreeing with the Ideal Gas Law or Climate Change. You have every right to be wrong, just keep that muss off my damn porch. Leave the candy when you go.

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Frequently (un)Asked Questions

What’s so great about Game of Thrones, really?

What, exactly, are we so worried about with dogs in restaurants? Breweries? Bars?

What if I just walked there?

For how long did people think the platypus was a fake thing?

Why not me?

What if everyone did that?

What does grass taste like to a cow?

Is it the sisterbangin? It’s the sisterbangin, isn’t it.

Do I slurp my soup and just no one has called me out yet?

Do we really need fancy glasses to look at the sun for like half a second? Real quick?

Has the rapture already happened and then at the end of the day none of us were good enough?

Does this story need to be this long?

I know I shouldn’t eat this, right?