Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And the Wurlitzer plays on...

I consider myself a pragmatist in most respects; I like to find something that works and doesn't screw people over and implement it. I think my interest in politics is akin to most people's fascination with celebrity trainwrecks - the sniping and grandstanding, the fighting over ideologies that have been found wanting over and over's all wonderfully entertaining. It's just a shame that this happens to be the group of people that happens to, you know, control our country.

Full disclosure: I have no delusions that I could do a better job. While I've learned to craft a pretty good argument, my PR skills suck. I couldn't hold public office because I can't be trusted to not make an ass of my self during a night out on the town, and Lord only knows what would happen if evidence of my activities in the UK were to surface. I like to sit in my lab, picking through large data sheets, running statistics, and pretending that my work has tons of value and will change the world. I don't run the country; I vote in and pay people to do that for me. I like to think of it as delegating.

But everything one party supports, the other one is against? Really? Everything you say is correct and everything your opponent says is wrong? Pardon me if if sounds like I'm choking, it's just that the aroma of your bullshit is so...stanknasty.

Don't get me wrong, I like a good argument, and there are plenty of issues that group naturally together. I just think that voting against something because someone who happens to have the same opinion as you on abortion doesn't like it. In fact, I'm going to rank that right up there with getting a blow job in the oval office in the "stupid political moves" category. I suppose it doesn't really help that I don't fit neatly into any political category - I'm about as far left as you can get socially and somewhere in the middle economically. I like social safety-nets, but I want the fucking budget balanced and view corporate bailouts as a hemorrhoid on the ass of civilization. I couldn't give a rat's ass how you fix the health care situation, just as long as it's affordable and doesn't fuck me over when I need it. Ultra-Libs piss me off, Ultra-Cons piss me off even more. I don't need your causes reduced to moral imperatives; it's your job to convince me they're worthy in rational terms, just as it's mine to convince you similarly of mine. If you ignore tons of evidence and require some amazing flexibility to pull off your mental gymnastics, I laugh at you. And sometimes I point and make obscene gestures.

At any rate, this rant has been brought to you by this man who is living proof that all you need to get a column at CNN is tons of money and an axe to grind. Yeah, yeah, he's got quite the employment pedigree listed there, but I've yet to read any set of sentences that he's strung together that bear even the slightest resemblance to novel thought worthy of a paid column on a national news network. In today's doozy, he takes a look at the 60 vote super-majority that Senator-elect Frankin gives the dems in the Senate.

There are plenty of good reasons why this is not a good thing (sorry my liberal friends, you know I vote with you most of the time, but let's be frank), the first and foremost being that a super-majority inevitably leads to one party pushing its agenda with little to no argument or reason to reconsider some of their more laughably ideological blunders. It also ensures that corruption will be rampant and that the party in power will be bought by every major special interest group under the sun. This is why the pendulum of political opinion swings so violently in this country; once one group gets power they run amok and do all sorts of stupid shit. Kudos to Mr. Feehery for actually addressing this.

But F--- for the analysis. I should have realized from the first paragraph where he rags on the metric system that I should have stopped reading (Really, dude? I use that shit everyday, and so does the rest of the world.). For the last couple of commentaries he's written, his advice has been for Republicans to sit back and wait for the people to get sick of the Dems, and then magically they will be back in power. There's plenty of precedent for this type of thinking, and I can't argue that it won't happen, because it IS inevitable. But Jesus Christ on a cracker, is this what is passing for paid political discourse these days? Don't bother coming up with something new, don't bother trying to appeal to more people, don't bother making up an actual alternative budget, just slap together a string of numbers with some figures that my cat could have drawn, wait until the other side fucks up and then continue to ram through an agenda that people have already voted down once?

This is stupid. Really, really stupid. For the love of god, come up with an agenda that isn't based on voo-doo economics, stop fucking over your constituents in favor of big business (this is a biggie, as Dems have proven they that won't), and make some effort to reach out to minority communities that you've alienated. If the Dems can remake their image from the damage inflicted by the Dixiecrats, surely you can too. Make an effort to pull your head out from your anus and get back to your small government roots in a way that isn't completely offensive. Why is there never any discussion of this? Do you really not understand that myself and many people like me feel that a rational debate about the expansiveness and efficiency of the government is well worth having, but are so turned off by the racist, sexist, and classist antics of the GOP that we clench up every time we see one of them on a talk show (seriously, if I had stood up the last time I watched Pat Buchanan on TV I would have taken the couch with me), even when we agree with some facet of what they are saying? My conservative friends don't talk this way, why do their leaders? I have more in common than not politically with the conservatives I know, and yet I am so turned off by their politicians that we're always surprised when we agree on things. (I'm certain they have more than a few things to say about liberal politicians having the same effect on them, but I'm not qualified to write that because I voted for the weaselly bastards, so I'll let them have the honors.)

It all comes back to the "my side is right, yours is wrong" mentality. Everyone wants to claim that the founding fathers were on their side. No shit they were - the two parties have divided and pilfered everything that was laid down in writing in an attempt to have some claim on history. Here's an especially hilarious example, courtesy of Glenn "will I start drooling on air today?" Beck pretending that Thomas Paine, the man who advocated over two hundred years ago for a progressive tax system, welfare, and estate taxes, wants us to rise up against the government for implementing...a more progressive tax system, welfare and estate taxes! Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or beat my head against a wall. And, while it's really tempting to sit here and argue that Thomas Paine was a liberal based on this, I'm not going to, because the word "liberal" as we use it has absolutely no bearing on his political affiliation 200 years ago. 200 years ago the man was undoubtedly a liberal, today, we've cut and crafted his philosophy into both our liberal and conservative political ideologies. Yay! Everyone wins, and for everyone who doesn't win, Glenn Beck has rewritten Paine's Common Sense to suit your bat-shit insane, revisionist Id.

And so it goes. We're too consumed with the "us vs. them" mentality to actually work through our challenges as a nation. The likes of Olbermann, Limbaugh, and Beck have pushed eliminationist rhetoric to a point where all we do now is demonize eachother and pretend that either the Dems or Repubs are destroying the country. Fuck that noise. I don't mind paying taxes, but seriously, for what I'm paying I want better representation. I'll hold on for the ride, but don't count on me holding my breath.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Today in "Organs I wish I had..."

Despite the fact that his relatives are complete bastards who tunnel through my front lawn and create soft spots that I will inevitably step on sprain my ankle, I am madly in love with this little guy. The fingers! The teeny-tiny eyes! The incredible schnoz! And he lives in wetlands, which I generally don't venture into as I donate more than enough blood to mosquitoes as it is and do enjoy not smelling like a poorly kept men's room, so I can totally get behind his tunnelling to his heart's content there.

But the nose! THE NOSE!! It's the best thing ever. Seriously. Look what it can do underwater:

Don't act like you're not impressed.

Even better than blowing some seriously sweet bubbles though, the nose acts like an eye. It's a bit dark in tunnels, as you will have learned from watching "The Descent", which makes finding food a bit tricky (unless you are a big scary monster with a taste for man-flesh). As you may note, the eyes on these guys are a bit hard to find, and their ears really aren't much better equipped. Sense of smell isn't exactly something to write home about either...but their touch reception on the end of those rays is amazing. Each one of the rays is covered with Eimer's Organs, which are fun little bazoomba-looking nerve endings:

Good stuff. The rays closest to the mouth have the most nerve fibers going to these organs, so these rays are the most sensitive. When I say that the star works like an eye, I really mean it. The moles jam their nose around in their tunnels until it touches something interesting - just like how you would scan bar patrons in search of someone who is not a complete douchebag. Once the prey is located by the peripheral rays, the mole brings the center rays into contact with it to be sure of what it is, or to go back to the bar example, turning your eyes toward the bright red blob in the corner and bringing it into focus (I really don't recommend this, as red blobs almost invariably turn out to be some asshole you met once at a party in college, but I digress).

So, not only do these central rays on the nose act as a kind of tactile fovea for these moles with tons of peripheral nerves supplying it, they also takes up a huge portion of their brain to process the information coming from it. One quarter of the sensory cortex is taken up by just this one ray. To give you some comparison, here is a map of the human sensory cortex where all of the body parts are drawn to scale with amount of representation they have in the brain:

Here's another super-fun representation, just in case you were sleeping too well at night:

Those of you who survived freshman psychology will recognize these as homunculi, which I'm almost positive translates loosely into "Wow, God surely does have a sense of humor to devote so much sensory area to lips and so little to the genitals." Seriously, I was expecting something more like this:

Although something less wrinkly would have appealed to my aesthetic sense a bit more. Also, I can't imagine the data they are losing with this by not including the foreskin...*tsk tsk*

Um, where was I?

Oh yes. Tactile foveation in the star nosed mole. Pretty amazing brain organization for something that most people consider to be quite a simple creature. And...yeah. Mostly I just wanted to post mole pictures. And accompany them with penis pictures. And, well, I have accomplished that, and managed to couch it in something that resembles intelligent discourse. So I win.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I just saved a bunch of money on my eyeball-licking insurance!*

One of the best parts of being a grad student is that you have access to a shit-ton of journals. For those of you lucky enough to have never been exposed to the wonderful, terrible, freak-nasty world of journals, they are a bit like magazines, if magazines were written by a bunch of narcissistic 12-year-olds with Aspergers Syndrome. That is to say, most journal articles are written primarily in heavily field-specific jargon by people so wrapped up in their own research that they forget that the outside world exists. (Incidentally, I have an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Human Evolution on a topic that even my mother doesn't understand, assuming I ever get around to actually editing the damn thing. Feel free to stroke my ego at your leisure.)

The upshot of articles written by obsessed researchers is, naturally, that some are unintentionally hilarious (much like rabid fans of anything are unintentionally hilarious; see Trekkies). I'd make more fun, but to be honest, I was indulging my own obsession with monkey feet and their frictional mechanics when I came across this gem: "Frictional adhesion: a new angle on gecko attachment," published by Autumn et al. in the Journal of Experimental Biology (2006, vol. 209, pp 3569-3579). The study itself is pretty damned cool, as they were looking at how geckos manage to stick themselves to anything and everything without having gooey feet (like, say, frogs or insects). Geckos use dry adhesion, which they accomplish through little hair-like projections on their feet called setae, which branch into little spatulate endings. The spatulate endings contact whatever they are standing on and essentially form a bond that is amongst the best known in the natural world. They look like this:

So far, so good. I think these setae are pretty damn cool, and am most jealous that I don't have anything this cool on my toes. The unintentionally hilarious part comes once we get into the methods. Turns out that geckos are surly little bastards. "Bitey" doesn't even come close to describing their disposition. So, the researchers were left trying to find a way to get the little jerkwads to cooperate (which, in all honesty, is the main problem all animal researchers must address at some point. Do you give them a treat for good behavior or just hope and pray that they get over themselves? /snark) Did you know that "normally aggressive and temperamental" geckos become "docile when attached by a single toe to a glass surface?" I didn't either. Apparently they weren't docile enough, though, judging by the position they were attached in and the "muzzle" the researchers made for them:

Yeah. That would be sports tape holding the mouth shut. Ingenious I tell you. I'm actually considering using it on my monkeys, but they're either too smart or too dumb (depending on the day) and would either eat it, hump it and eat it, or throw it at my head. Either way, the tape would be peeled off.

And speaking of tape being peeled off; that was the main finding of the study. The detachment of gecko feet from whatever they are stuck to in no way resembles the mechanics of peeling tape. Specifically, what the study showed was that gecko setae will always detach when they are angled at least 30 degrees from the substrate they are stuck to, regardless of how heavy the gecko is. Duct tape, however, will peel faster at any angle if you apply more force to it (which, in this context, is the equivalent of having a heavier gecko). Yeah, I know, this all sounds completely inane. But it is actually pretty cool, because it means that there is something out there that has a stronger hold than duct tape, but requires less energy to peel off. This is good news for gecko researchers, who have now stumbled onto a whole new cash cow for research funding, and possibly good for 3M, provided they can patent this mechanism for sticky-notes and those hooks-that-aren't-supposed-to-kill-your-paint-job-but-do-anyway before anyone else does. Bad news for Sherwin-Williams though, although I suppose they could just launch an advertising campaign to encourage the use of nails for hanging pictures and whatnot...

So, there it is: the set-up, the punchline, and the explanation of how I am not as big of an asshole as the opening paragraphs might seem to suggest. But, this article contains and extra-special dose of fun. The authors weren't satisfied with their mathematical conclusion of how setae function (and why should they be? Math is so dull...), so they decided to apply their conclusions to a real-world model. And that, my friends, is what I shall leave you with. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the "StickyBot":

*Tom assures me that geckos lick their eyeball.**

**I am too lazy to look that up, so just nod and smile, even if you know it's wrong.***

***Turns out I'm not that lazy and Tom was right. He's so amazing I still wonder why I am the one in grad school.****

****He says it's mostly because I am a masochist, but also because I have passion for learning and should stop making fun of myself.*****

*****I am putting words in his mouth and he is far too busy killing dragons online to have actually said that, but I'm sure he has said it at some point.******

******I love you Bear. You make my life worthwhile!!

Cheeky Monkey

I think it's fair to say that anyone who knows me well has heard me bitch about the capuchins we used to house in the lab. (Well, okay, there are probably those of you who know me well but I refrain from discussing graduate school with...mostly because I would hate to scare you...). For those of you unfamiliar with my woes, suffice it to say that capuchins are a) very smart little bastards, b) amazingly good at finding obscure parts of the wall to hang onto and jump from, and c) incredible crack-shots with monkey urine. My scalp still burns thinking about c. Their only saving grace is their cuteness. And we all know that I am a sucker for cute. And primates in general. Especially their feet. But I digress...

Anyway, it turns out that not only will capuchins pee on your head with only the slightest provocation, they're also lying, cheating little bastards. Or so says Brandon Wheeler (who I am happy to say I know...if only because he makes fun of me and screams obscenities at me from his bike on a regular basis). At Stony Brook, we like to joke about the stuffed carnivores that he used to elicit actual warning calls from the capuchins he was studying, but then again, how are you supposed to assert that they're shouting "Holy shit! BIG F'ING CAT!" if you have no idea what capuchins shout when there is a BIG F'ING CAT! present?

For those of you playing the home game, what Brandon's research found was that low ranking capuchins will often sound alarm calls for no good reason other than to scare high ranking group members away from a food source long enough for them (the low ranking member) to gank some. How do you demonstrate something like this, you may ask? How on earth are we supposed to know they're being deceptive, not being fluent in capuchin and all? Well, first you have to figure out whether the monkeys actually have specific calls for predators, or whether they are just squeaking gibberish. To do this, different models of capuchin predators were placed in the groups daily paths. When a group member gave a call, the call was recorded and the context was noted. Once it was clear that specific calls were given in the presence of certain predators (to the exclusion of just squeaking for the hell of it - there had to be a specific predator present and the call had to elicit evasive behaviors from the rest of the group), the deceptive use of these calls could be examined. As it turns out, low ranking members of capuchin groups will routinely give predator alarm calls when a limited food source is present. High ranking members get to eat first, and, as such, are usually already gorging themselves. When the alarm call is given, they freak out and run, leaving the food unguarded for the low ranking members to help themselves to.

Why on earth is this interesting? Mostly because it's comforting to know that humans are not the only primate who will lie, steal, and cheat their way through life. Lord knows we always need new excuses to justify acting like assholes. But also, because it gives us some insight into the cognitive development of other primates. It's unclear from the current research whether the monkeys lie intentionally, understanding that they are being deceptive, or if they simply associate the call with a food reward. Further research will undoubtedly focus on teasing out this difference, and either way it provides some insight into our own behavior. Is deceptiveness adaptive? Do deceptive monkeys have a higher survival rate than those who never give false alarm calls? Is this behavior genetic or learned? Are we indeed heading toward socialism, or just away from social Darwinism? Lots of important and interesting questions remain to be answered. I almost wish I was a monkey chaser rather than a gooey-jar-monkey examiner!

Congrats Brandon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dirty Little Secrets

I was recalling a friend's honors thesis the other day. It focused largely on how freely people self-disclose shit on the internet that they wouldn't in a million years tell their closest friends. I've never really been big on the whole self-disclosure bit, so I've decided that it's time I got on to that. Can't be stuck in the dark ages forever - I have 13 year olds in their underwear on MySpace to compete with! So, in light of my pressing need to keep up with the skanks, I have decided to share with you all of my dirty little secrets – things that are so embarrassing that they could end a marriage. Well, okay, maybe not. They haven’t ended mine yet, but they do receive the occasional side-long stare and/or patronizing nod. And my mother thinks I’m a freak. So there.
So here we go in no particular order…

Fizzy Water. I have a small addiction. I used to have a large addiction. That was to nicotine. The small addiction is to carbonated water. You see, giving up nicotine is a lot like hitting yourself repeatedly in the head with a baseball bat that someone has lovingly hammered 5 inch nails through. It’s not so much that the desire to smoke is over-powering (it’s strong, but most times you realize that actually sucking down a cigarette makes you feel worse than you did) as it is that you, well….lose all control of your emotions and become a ranting, raving, possibly stampeding, angry elephant with sharp tusks every time something goes wrong. One minute fine, next minute FUCK OFF. So you have to retrain yourself to, you know, not flip out like a idiot every time you drop your pen. It’s kind of like being two years old and realizing that pitching a fit on the grocery store floor is only going to get you spanked – and by that I mean it sucks.

What this all brings me back to is my new addiction to fizzy water. Seltzer. I like that word. Seltzer. I like most things that can be associated six-degrees-of-separation-style to going in someone’s pants. But I digress. Addiction. I think I drink about half a gallon of the stuff a day. And it makes me fart. A lot. But I still drink it. And then I blame my farts on other people. And I smile deep inside my heart.

Revolving Doors. I am abso-fucking-lutely terrified of them. The rest of the population goes dashing through them like this is a completely normal thing to do. Am I the only person in the world who recognizes these aberrations for the incarnation of unholiness that God himself would spit upon (and, in fact, probably will when he comes to earth to personally damn and escort the inventor to hell – that is, if God takes an interest in revolving doors) that they undoubtedly are?!? Are there no other sane people out there? No…? Okay, I suppose it probably bears noting that this may, in fact, be a personal problem. And to be quite honest, I can’t actually remember anything bad happening to me in or even near one of them. No recollection of getting pinched, or stuck between doors, or any other of the multitude of heinous ways to die that flit through my brain every and require me to take deep breathes and count to ten every single time I have to walk through one of these god-forsaken sideways rat wheels. I take this as evidence that not only are revolving doors evil, but they give off an aura that only I have been blessed to sense.

David Bowie. This one gets to my husband the most. Actually, I think this one gets to most people the most, but you know what? You can all bite me. David Bowie is god, and one day you will all realize that I was right, and you were wrong. And yes, I have watched Labyrinth all the way through just to marvel at the amazing growth spurt his bulge goes through, and yes, it is better than yours. (Except for you honey, I love you best *innocence*)

Inuyasha. I have a small obsession with this show. Ok, small might be understating it a bit. I made my husband buy me all 167 episodes and 3 movies on DVD. Yes, it is animated. Yes, it is directed at an audience approximately 10-16 years in age. Yes, I miss that mark by almost 10 years. No, I don’t care. And you know what, there is an entire community of anime-loving people who will gladly accept me into their lives and love me just the same and not judge me like I know you are doing not-so-silently right now. The problem is that they never want to leave their mother’s basement to play with me. So, lets make a deal – you’ll never tell anyone about this, and I will never disclose the names of certain individuals whom I know for a fact watched Disney’s Tarzan frame-by-frame just to see if his butt flap would fly up and expose his hot monkey-junk. Deal?

and finally...

All bow before the Mistress of all the is Good and Evil. And Lettuce.

Cher. Okay, so maybe this one isn't so much of a secret. And maybe it hasn't actually been a secret ever since I serenaded every non-hearing-impaired person in downtown Minneapolis with random selections of her catalog from the window of a cab at 3 in the morning. And maybe "If I Could Turn Back Time" sounds better when the singer is not slobbering drunk and trying to pick up the guy on the corner at the same time. And maybe George W. Bush is an awesome guy. But I think you may be reaching. Come on people! This woman sold hair products while wearing a wig. SHE IS THAT FUCKING GOOD. And she wants some love.

To the Wainkstains Who Sent Me the Prayer Mat

Dear sirs/madams -

I happened upon your truly charming envelope while sorting my mail out from the pile behind the door where it falls so neatly each day. I was shocked to learn that Jesus himself had sent me mail, and it warmed the cockles of my heart to see that he hand even hand addressed the envelope! In blue pen! (At first I was a bit confused by Jesus speaking English and writing in roman letters, but I eventually figured he'd had 2000 years to practice and I was probably over-analyzing things).

Unfortunately, the illusion of a personalized message on an envelope is lost when the ink has the same sheen as the rest of the printing on the envelope. Also, actual writing leaves dents. Now, you've managed to get Jesus on your payroll writing personal messages for all of your mail recipients. I can't imagine that its cheap to keep a big-name celebrity like that, so it follows logically that your organization must have a sizable bank account. Or maybe you are paying him on prayers? Either way, could maybe chuck in a few extra dollars or a couple of Hail Mary's to have the fake writing embossed? There's really nothing like the disappointment of thinking your lord and savior has sent you a personalized message through the US postal service only to realize that he has actually just cranked out about 1,000 of these on a cheap risograph.

Also , while we are on the subject of your bankroll, why on EARTH would you want this prayer mat you so kindly shipped to me without invitation back? Your accompanying letter says that you wish it to be sent to other families so that they may use it as well, but this seems to be poorly thought out. Firstly, the paper it is printed on is incredibly thin. As a woman of some size, I ripped that poor mat right down the center the moment my portly knees pressed down upon his holy face! No one wants a holey Jesus. Secondly, surely it must cost you more in postage to send these out than it costs to print them. Perhaps a better alternative would be to cross the non-believers off of your mailing list and cater to those who have bought magazines from the charming youths you send to our doors once a year? Then the poor starving children who need a miracle won't have to settle with a knelt-on, ripped up Jesus. Finally, I do believe the mat you sent me was defective. I followed your instructions and stared deeply into His eyes while prostrating myself in his name, but his eyes did not open as the message explicitly said they would. I know for a FACT that I am favored in His sight, so I can only conclude that said mat is defective. For these reasons, I will be giving it a proper Christian burial rather than passing it along. No one deserves a defective Jesus.

Sadly, I will not be sending you any seed donations. I find it rather puzzling that you ascribe a monetary value to "seed" as my husband spills his freely and regularly. Also, I have a suspicion that the containers needed to transport said seed safely back to you would not fit in the envelope for which you have provided paid postage. As I do not wish to infringe on any biological material shipping regulations, I am afraid my donation will have to wait until you are able to provide the proper receptacle. (Please note however, that I am enclosing my prayer requests and have selected that you pray for a sum of $200,000 to be deposited into my account AND a car. Is there any chance you might pray for a Mercedes? Or is that pushing my luck? It's up to you - I can settle for a new Toyota in a pinch.)

In closing, I must admit that I was profoundly disappointed by the enclosed prophecy. I have had better readings from New Orleans street psychics who were half blind with only 3 fingers and possibly fewer teeth. Perhaps you could hire one of these fine upstanding citizens to work alongside Jesus on your campaign. They could prophesize AND work the embossing machine! Surely this would greatly improve your campaign for our souls, and might even inspire me to send you a check!

Love always

PS: I find it rather amazing that I only have to type your name into Google to find 5,000+ warnings of fraud. Perhaps your image needs an overhaul - most fraud is committed online these days. Spamming is always a cheap alternative, and it doesn't even require embossing!

I think the FBI might be interested in knowing where God keeps his printing presses.

90% water, 10% fiber, 100% guarenteed to dampen your seat.

Some women can orgasm eating chocolate. Some while being tickled. Others need a bit more prodding, and the help of a certain mechanical device.

The woman behind me in the cafeteria today nearly creamed her shorts over the salad bar.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you were utterly convinced that you must be going about life wrong? That single split second where the thought "I've never looked at lettuce that way before....WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?" flittled so very innocently through your head?

Hold on to that thought. As long as you can. Because the nasty realization that Stupid is contagious and you just caught the acute strain is about to hit. Hard.
Now, I can understand being excited for food. I give most food three thumbs up (which, in all honesty, is part of the reason I happened to be in the salad bar...but more on that later). We eat out for special occasions. People dedicate their lives to creating ambrosial delicacies for our pleasure in consumption.

I can guarantee you no one dedicated more than 2 seconds of their day dumping the lettuce, coated no doubt in "brown-retardant," into that bowl. Possibly they MAY have dedicated an extra two minutes to mix the mayo into the crab salad. But only maybe.

Two minutes, two seconds.

Certainly not enough to warrant the "OH MY GAWAD! This looks so WUNDAFUL!" that somehow wormed its way into my ears and began nonchalantly gnawing away at possibly vital parts of my brain. I still can't find my car keys....But who knows. I could be wrong. Maybe I really DON'T look at lettuce in the right way.

But how DO you look at lettuce in a different way? No one wakes up in the morning and thinks "Holy shit, I want lettuce, and I want it NOW." There's no lettuce flavored treats. Even vegetarians have found better sources of nourishment. Lettuce is a punishment, and has been for the existence of man.

Don't believe me? There are four known types of lettuce eaters in this world. First, there are those of us who are 50 pounds over weight and have been deluded by the diet industry to think that lettuce holds some magical power. Then, we have the starving students who can only afford the 99 cent head of lettuce on top of a weekend's binge drinking. And finally, we have the crazy health nuts, who, let's face it, are really into the masochism thing to begin with, but commendably choose to suffer in silence.

This woman constituted a prime specimen of the fourth type. The "I eat lettuce in public and feel the need to talk about it so everyone within earshot will know how devastatingly healthy I am and have to commend me on my restraint at not fainting at the site of a hamburger and oh my look TOMATOES!! UGH - EGGS?!? Don't they know how bad cholesterol is for you? I though this was a healthy option! Oh, I don't have to eat the egg? The egg is extra? Oh that's WUNDAFUL" type of lettuce eater. A vision of New York subtlety, her hair, makeup and clothes were naturally about 20 years too young for her, thin as a rail, her "health nut" status belied by the depth of crow's feet that only come of 30+ years of 32 menthols a day.

But she was happy. And who am I to deny someone their public orgasm, even at the cost of my own sanity?

I smiled quietly to myself as she drown her wonderfully healthy lunch in full cream dressing and went about my day.

Bacon is extra because there is no swine evil enough to be sacrificed up the bed of evil...and lettuce.