#921 Snow days

Sledding into a world of awesome

Have you ever gone to school on a snow day? Tell me that’s not the worst.

Everyone else is outside having snowball fights and going sledding, and you’re stuck inside playing Battleship with the teacher because your parents couldn’t find a babysitter. The probability of you learning anything is zero and the school just transforms into a maze of barren, lonely hallways. It’s kind of got a horror movie feel to it too, especially if you walk by a room full of kindergarteners and they all look up at you at the same time and slowly smile.

No, when it snows, you have to figure out a way to stay home and just have the time of your life. So let’s break it down a bit. Let’s talk about the three main types of snow days:

  1. The Pre-planned Snow Day. Your town got hit by an ice storm and four-feet of heavy, packing snow. It’s going to take a couple of days to dig out, so somebody makes the call to cancel school in advance. This is definitely a good snow day, but it really zaps out all the anticipation. Worst of the three types.

2. The It’s Gonna Happen, I Can Just Feel It Snow Day. This is where the snow is hitting hard and heavy the night before. There are reports of black ice and cars in the ditch. People hunker down by the window with some hot cocoa and turn the radio on for weather updates. This is what’s known as a high-probability snow day. You’re almost positive it’s going to happen so you go to sleep excited about getting up the next morning. And really, the night before is almost as fun as the snow day itself, because you’re already planning the day in your head, putting off your homework, and calling your friends. Of course, once in a while the sun is mysteriously shining the next morning and the roads are clear, but this is very rare.

Nothing like a snow day to help those primal warrior-like defense mechanisms kick in for some fort-building

  1. The Surprise Snow Day. Now this is it: The Mighty King Of The Snow Days. This is where nobody suspects a thing the night before. Just have some dinner, do some homework, brush some teeth. Yup, just a typical night around here. But then suddenly the next morning there’s a knock on the door and it’s your mom or dad telling you that … guess what, it’s a snow day! Now that’s a buzzy kid high right there. Homework already out of the way, no risk of missing anything important at school, just an all-out, lay back and relax full-on chill session with your friends. And the day really can’t disappoint, because there were no expectations to begin with! You wanna sit in the basement and play Contra all afternoon? No problem. Build a snowman and shovel the driveways for cash? Sign me up. Construct elaborate forts in preparation for a massive snowball fight? I’m in. Just be a kid and love it lots.

And so, as its starts to get a bit chilly, let’s all cross our fingers and hope for a good snow day season. Let’s hope this isn’t one of those winters where we put up a goose egg on the snow day category. No, I say let’s break the record. Let’s go for four or five of the suckers. Hey, maybe six even. Let’s get El Nino in on it. Because ladies and gentlemen, say it with me, if there’s one thing we all know, it’s gotta be that a snow day … is a good day.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#922 Getting a truck driver to blow their horn

Truckers have the best horns.

Those things mean business. They’re loud and thundering and slap you in the face. None of this itty bitty bee-beep business that sounds less like a hatchback telling you the light turned green and more like a seagull telling other seagulls hey, there’s a guy throwing away crusts over here.

‘Cause sometimes when you’re driving down the highway the hours just keep going and going and going. The mix tape gets old, the conversation dies down, and it’s just a blur of interstate walls and rest station signs out the window. For kids, it must seem like days back there, just strapped right in, fighting with siblings, or just sitting in absolute numbing silence.

That’s why getting a trucker to blow his horn is great. It’s a fun, little interactive break from the highway monotony and a great laugh. Plus, it’s a time-passer, because you have to get the driver to sort of ease up beside the truck first, which isn’t always easy. So yeah, it’s a nice secret moment on wheels, a honkin’ highway holla, just some good old fashioned bonding in the fast lane.

So let’s give thanks to truckers today. For not taking life too seriously, for indulging our simple pleasures, and for rocking that air horn in a way we like to call

AWESOME!

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#923 Doing anything that makes you sort of feel like a caveman

There’s something about getting in touch with your inner neanderthal that strokes your brain stem just the right way. Accomplishing something caveman-style feels good — a combination of clenched teeth, throbbing veins, and good old fashioned feistiness that we don’t always get to experience in today’s sophisticated society.

Now, although there are a lot of things that can deliver a good cavehigh, here are some of the better ones:

Building a fire. Yes, there’s some serious satisfaction to be had from collecting a pile of twigs and logs and sending them up in smoke. You’re in the forest on your hands and knees, coaxing life-giving heat and energy out of dry, dead wood. For the full effect, leave the lighter fluid and old, crumpled copies of Newsweek at home.

Eating a meal that is just meat. Have you ever been that person at the buffet who loads their whole plate up with just meat? You know, slab of bloody steak, couple of pork chops, maybe some ribs on the side? Sure, you see that potato salad, you see those steamed baby carrots, but you just can’t justify eating anything other than meat. And you know, that’s okay. Your inner caveman thanks you. BONUS: Filling your plate with meats that are entirely on the bone, so you can just eat with your hands and messily spray fatty meatbits everywhere. SUPER BONUS: Eating those big honkin’ turkey drumsticks that look like pterodactyl wings.

Ignoring body hair for a really long time. Your chin fuzz grows out and connects with your unkempt mutton chops, your hair gets long and scraggly, and you suddenly start getting Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Back. Basically, when you start looking like Johnny Damon when he was on the Red Sox, you’re living the cave man look … and you’re loving it.

Throwing a temper tantrum much more aggressively than normal. If you’re the kind of classy gal who usually politely bee-beeps the horn when someone cuts you off, but then one time you hold it down for ten seconds, flip the bird, and scream out your window, then that’s the one. That’s your Beautiful Caveman Moment.

So I say love it. Love those caveman days, because they’re a throwback to the simple life — when instead of eating processed cheese and watching reality TV we were clubbing saber-toothed tigers and painting caves, baby.

AWESOME!

37_cavemanPhotos from: here, here, here, and here

Illustration from here

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#924 The fact that glass exists

Grab a handful of sand, heat it up to a few thousand degrees and suddenly, presto change-o, whaddaya got? That’s right, friend: a handful of glass and one severely burned paw.

Now, how incredible is the fact that glass is made from sand? I mean, think about it: there aren’t many things you can’t see through that turn into things you can see though. It just doesn’t happen. Water isn’t made from mud, radio waves aren’t evaporated rainbows, and Crystal Pepsi isn’t just a pot of regular Pepsi stirred really fast.

Right now there's no tomorrow

I mean, can you imagine the first time somebody made glass? For a while there’s just an old cauldron hanging over the fire with some sand sizzling in the bottom, and then suddenly it’s clink, clink, clink and there are marbles rolling around in there. Now I wasn’t there, but I imagine whoever was had a great bar story for a few weeks.

Glass is so solid, stoic, and sophisticated, too — unlike that annoyingly pliable and chemical-leaching heathen, plastic. I mean, apparently the empty plastic cottage cheese container you reheat your leftovers in can fill your meal with a pile of hormones and chemicals that could mess you up. Yeah, seriously. But that’s not so with glass, because glass is a solid fighter and ain’t going to fall apart at the sight of a few measly microwaves.

So, have you ever looked through a window or watched TV? Do you wear glasses, do you take pictures, do you pour steaming fluorescent liquids into beakers in chemistry labs? If so, have you peeked into a telescope or microscope when you were in there? If not, have you ever admired the stained glass on the side of a church, or enjoyed a cold brewski in a beer bottle or some bubbly in a champagne flute? Is your house insulated with fiberglass? Does your fish swim in an aquarium? I ask you, friend: are you sitting under a light bulb … right … now?

And if so, if any of these things, then I say smile, flash a thumbs up, and give some serious props to glass — that durable, industrious, dishwasher-safe friend who’s always there when we need it most.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#925 Watching ‘The Price Is Right’ when you’re sick

At an early age, it is possible to learn the price of life through The Price Is Right.

How many eight-year-olds know a can of chickpeas costs sixty-nine cents? How many twelve-year-olds can rattle off the features of a new solid oak armoire? And how many fourteen-year-olds can estimate the value of an ice-cream maker, new speedboat, set of maracas, and trip to Puerto Rico?

Well, I’ll you who, man: Any kid with the flu.

See, The Price Is Right is great when you’re sick because it comes along at 11:00am, which is about the time when your enthusiasm for missing school is sort of deflating into a boring day on the couch with a stomachache. By mid-morning, whoever is taking care of you has either headed upstairs or just put a blanket on you and gone grocery shopping. You feel too sick to do much of anything, so you just lay on the couch and flip channels endlessly, trying to understand why there’s nothing good on TV at ten in the morning.

Then finally — just as you finished counting the cracks in the ceiling, tried and failed to nap several times, and mindlessly gobbled down a pack of saltines — the clock strikes 11:00am and it’s time for the show.

That’s when the music starts kicking, the lights start flashing, and it’s time to come on down. Because it’s The Price Is Right, baby. So sing it with me and let’s get in the game. It’s just such a great time.

And, you know, I think it really helps that everybody on The Price Is Right is just so happy — people are running and jumping, laughing and screaming, and they’re all wearing homemade T-shirts to boot. Basically, they feel the exact opposite of how you feel and it’s sort of contagious.

Yes, The Price Is Right is just one massive climax of fun, prizes, games, and tuna fish ads. But you find yourself cheering along — guessing the price of the leather ottoman, yelling for the big wheel to stop on $1.00, and crossing your fingers for the announcer to unveil a game of Plinko or, yes … a new car!

And yeah, I know there’s a new host now, but come on — for how many years did The Price Is Right represent some solid, rock-like consistency in this mad, mad, mad, mad world? There was Rod Roddy’s sequined blazer, the wildly panning camera looking for the next contestant, Bob Barker’s skinny microphone, and shots of the family in the audience madly screaming advice to help our hapless contestant win that bedroom set.

It just never changed.

And so, whether you were six with the chickenpox, nine with the flu, twelve with a broken arm, or fifteen with menstrual cramps, you could count on sixty solid minutes with the company of that old seventies set, lots of one dollar bets, and advice to neuter your pet — all crunched into the best sick-day game show yet!

AWESOME!

RIP good friend

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#927 A freezing cold glass of water on a boiling hot day

When your eyes sting from big salty beads of dripping sweat, your T-shirt gets wet and sticky and melts to your back, and your upper lip forms a splotchy sweatstache, then I say brother, it’s time for a drink.

And what says refreshing better than a tall glass of completely dripping, condensation-covered, fall-in-a-pond-in-winter-cold water?

I mean, you chug that stuff down and it feels like swallowing an icicle. You can actually feel that cold river ripping down the chute and coating your insides. You can feel your throat pulsing, your stomach clenching and thanking you, and your entire body just drop a couple of degrees. It might feel like you’re the model for the Pepto-Bismal commercial, only instead of pink stuff, water.

Yes, a really cold glass of water on a really hot day is simple, it’s cheap, it’s refreshing, and we all know it is truly …

AWESOME!

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#928 Eating those foods you loved when you were a little kid

Grab a spoon and turn on Saved By The Bell

The flood of memories that come shooting back when you eat food you loved as a kid is a giant, neuron-splattering head rush.

You get transported back to the kitchen you grew up in and can practically see the avocado-green stove, three-hundred pound microwave, and plastic alphabet magnets covering the fridge.

So come on, let’s all go back together now:

Mac N’ Cheese N’ Chopped Up Hot Dogs. Call it Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, call it Kraft Dinner, call it whatever you want. But after you whip up a box of it, nothing’s better than chopping up some hot dogs to go in it. Optional here are the massive squirts of ketchup. Not optional is eating the whole box.

Thank goodness for canned pastaCanned pasta. Whether your fancy is Chef Boyardee’s Mini-Bites, Beef Ravioli, or the tangy ketchupy sweetness that comes from a soupy bowl of Spaghetti-Os, these piles of of sodium and meatpaste definitely tickle the memory bone.

Squished up balls of fresh bread. This one involves taking a piece of really soft, really fresh bread, ripping off all the crusts, and then rolling it into a tight, white ball of dense deliciousness. Feel free to hide a wedge of butter in the core there, too.

Tang. The beautiful thing about Tang is that as you get older, you can just water it down a bit if you can’t handle the sweetness anymore. Or you can do the opposite and have yourself a glass of Super Tang.

Melted Cheese. This is one that my sister and I used to love. We would put a piece of bread on a plate, slice up five thin slices of cheese, and then nuke it for 30 seconds. We had it down to an exact science. Once in a while things would get a little crazy and we’d put some tomato sauce on it, but mostly just Melted Cheese. A perfect name for a perfect after-school snack.

Liquid antibiotics. Okay, it’s not really a food, but how about that banana penicillin you used to get? You can apparently still ask for it as an adult, but you might need to take eight teaspoons three times a day.

Ritz can take the crackers, but don't mess with the cheese

Those Cheese Spread Cracker Kits with the Red Plastic Stick. Who else always ran out of cheese way before they ran out of cracker?

Your favorite sandwich. Maybe today you’re on a health kick, but remember when your favorite sandwich was bologna and Kraft singles cheese? Or salami and mayo? Or how about that weird-looking macaroni-and-cheese ham? Of course, you might have had your own personal favorite, like my friend Scott who used to eat Ketchup and Mustard sandwiches or my friend Mike who was a fan of the ol’ peanut butter and tomato. Not bad, not bad.

A tasty box of saltLunchables. If you could get past the portion control, you might remember building a decent cracker-cheese-ham pile with these things. Of course, there was the time when they suddenly released a pizza version and totally blew everyone’s mind.

Cooking up deliciousnessMom’s Spaghetti Sauce. Was your mom a Ragu in a pot kind of gal? Or a slow, all-day simmering type of lady? Did she leave the mushrooms chunky, chop them real fine, or leave them out completely? What was her position on onions, on melted cheese on top, on meatballs versus meat sauce? If you grew up with homemade spaghetti sauce, I’m willing to bet it’s still something that tastes amazing today.

Cold hot dogs straight from the fridge. Oh, don’t worry. The worms all died in the factory.

Barely won out over Family Circus cereal or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cereal

Sugar Cereals. I ate Corn Pops every day for breakfast for nearly a decade and somehow I survived. These days, you can always ‘cut it’ with an adult cereal if it’s too sweet. Throw some plain Cheerios on those Honey Nut Cheerios or some Corn Flakes on those Frosted Flakes. Just don’t tell anybody, old man.

Now, let’s be honest, sometimes the foods you loved as a kid slowly drift away and disappear. Grandma passes on and her secret meatball recipe is buried with her, you move away from the sibling you used to bake your special squares with at Christmas, or the sugar in your sugary cereal suddenly turns into a more profitable high-fructose aspartame syrup.

But that’s why it’s doubly important to treasure those adult glimpses into your childhood tastes. That’s why you gotta love those perfect little loves at first bite. That’s why the memory-jolts from the sugary treats and salty snacks are such amazing little highs. Because even though your stomach may not always thank you for it, your brain surely will.

AWESOME!

Served open-faced for presentation

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#929 Your actual colon

Love your colon

Have you ever run the last leg of the relay?

If you have then you know it’s a stressful experience, because you either make it or break it. I mean, you’re either ahead and it’s up to you to hold the lead, or you’re behind and it’s up to you to make it up. Everyone else is done, so they’re just standing behind you relaxing and catching their breath while you give everything you’ve got to sprint for the finish line. And of course, because you’re last you’re dealing with a sweaty baton, a trampled path, and cold muscles.

It’s not easy.

Well, guess who’s running the last leg of the relay in your body? Guess who’s anchoring the team? Guess who’s picking up the slack? Guess who’s taking the baton for the final leg of race?

Dude, it’s your colon. Or Cole for short.

Now, Cole’s a humble guy. I mean, call him colon, call him large intestine, call him big snakey, call him whatever you want. He doesn’t care. He just shows up to work, all 1.5 meters of him, day after day, week after week, year after year. He punches his timeclock and starts working in the dark, tight recesses of your abdomen from the day you’re born, twisting himself up into all kinds of positions, kicking it into high gear from the get go.

Now, Cole does a lot of work:

  1. He stores and dumps waste. This isn’t a pleasant job, but somebody’s got to do it. This man is the garbage man and the trash can, think about that. He doesn’t get one of the nicer jobs like looking at your food or tasting your food, no, he just stores and dumps it after everybody else has had their way with it. I mean, they’ve done such a number on it that it’s no longer food — it’s called chyme, a partially digested semifluid mass that probably smells like what would come out of a dog if you fed it raw pork, bleach, and hot sauce. Thankfully, Cole’s a real professional.
  2. He gathers water from the waste. I know what you may be thinking. “Doesn’t my esophagus, stomach, and small intestine already do this?” And actually you’re right, that is true. But Cole picks up where they left off. Yes, he smiles backwards at the gang, flashes them a big thumbs-up, then quietly finishes the job when they aren’t looking. What a team player.
  3. He absorbs vitamins. What, you thought he was just a chymebag? Just a water-sucker-upper? No man, he’s also rooting around for vitamins, too. He’s the guy at the dump with an eye on your discarded clothes and furniture, aiming to spot those hidden gems that are useful somewhere else. You know all this talk about reducing, reusing, and recycling? Cole’s been doing that for thousands of years. He practically invented it.

Now, Cole the Colon is a huge player in your body, but you’d never know that from talking to him. If you try he’ll ignore you and you’ll just hear the deep, quiet sound of chyme processing. And that’s sort of the point. He’s always there, always grinding, always working the gears, always helping the younger guys along, and most importantly, always getting the job done. And just try getting him to take a vacation!

So — this one’s for Cole. Pat yourself on the belly today and thank your colon for being a true servant leader, a humble team player, and a bona fide nice guy.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here and here

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#930 Finally getting that tiny stuck piece of popcorn out of your teeth

Don't be fooled by the sunny exterior

You know when you can just feel that popcorn kernel stuck back there in swampy recesses of your mouth and it’s totally infuriating?

Yes, your tongue slides past its smooth surface unsuccessfully, your toothbrush’s flimsy bristles just can’t shake it, and even your fingernail can’t quite unwedge it from the tight molar deathgrip it’s stuck in.

So the fork is dropped and the dessert lays unfinished, the conversation fades to a blurry, distant noise, and the world stops around you as you just keep trying and trying and trying to get that popcorn kernel out. You close your eyes and squint, you tilt your head, you emit a deep-bass “nnnnnnn” noise, as your body directs all available faculties at flushing this thing out. But it just sits there tightly, clogging and gumming up your entire system like a pile of defaulted mortgages.

Then suddenly it falls out.

AWESOME!

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