Category Archives: Uncategorized

Looks Like We Made It

th[10]If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve ridden the turtle around the sun again, and that’s something to celebrate. Hopefully you’ve managed to make it through the minefield of the holidays with body parts and relationships intact.  Most importantly (again, hopefully), you’ve made it to the end of 2019 with sanity mostly intact. If you haven’t, that’s okay too – sanity is highly overrated.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that the past year has been…challenging. Hell, let’s call it like it was – a fucktastic nightmare of a year with far too many losses and way too much bad and sad for any human to manage on their own – which is why I’m incredibly grateful for my friends and family.

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The good news is that the year is over, and 2020 brings in one of 3 things:

  1.  The start of a new decade (if you count your decades 0-9)
  2.  The end of a decade (if you don’t)
  3.  The return of the roaring 20’s

Any way you look at it, it’s time for a fresh start – a time to look back on your year, see what worked, what didn’t, and make some changes if indicated. That’s right, it’s the scariest time of year – time for <shudder> New Year’s Resolutions.

A quick Google search of  “New Year’s resolutions” comes back with 45 MILLION results, including resolutions for students, for financial success, for health/weight loss, for parents, for single people and for your dog. Good Housekeeping has a list of FORTY New Year’s resolutions. I have enough trouble trying to keep ONE.

I came across a couple of links with helpful advice on how to keep your new year’s resolution this time, but I really liked the post from Uncluttered Simplicity’s Cheryl Lemily:

Did you know that on average, only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions? Each and every January we make pie-in-the-sky goals for the new year ahead. Only to give up come February. This is why the best month to join a gym is February… when it’s empty. Why then, do we continue to ride the crazy merry-go-round of pointless New Year’s resolutions? Is it possible to break free of this all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to our goals for the New Year? I think so. Here are some thoughtful New Year’s resolution ideas for 2020 that you can actually keep.

She had several great ideas, but the two that I found most helpful were

  1. Identify clear action steps. You can’t lose weight or get out of debt without action steps that will help you get there. Create a plan that includes objectives. Commit to taking action that will help you get closer to your goal (Note – don’t forget to set multiple small, easily obtainable goals as part of your plan. Take small bites of the elephant).
  2.  Start when you’re ready. There’s no need to launch your resolutions on January 1st…Whether that means you start on January 3rd or you wait until mid-Spring, don’t create a resolution just because you feel pressured to do so in January

I also enjoyed a 2018 post from Sara Saddington in which she courages us to “Ditch the negative Resolutions: You’re Already Great.”

When we say “I am going to be better” we are inherently telling ourselves, “I’m not good enough to begin with.” But if we flip the script to say, “I’m great, and I’m going to share that with others,” we might just have a happier, healthier, and more productive year ahead.

Most of the articles had reminders that we can “start fresh any day” (or any moment),  and that we shouldn’t let missteps or mistakes stop us from trying to be our best self.

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As for me? I’m taking a page from the people of New York by shredding the things I want to eliminate from my life #goodriddance2019.

I wasn’t going to make any new year’s resolutions this year – but I think I’ve finally found one that will stick. I resolve to be as kind to myself as I am to others. After all, as Christine Arylo reminded us several years ago, It’s hard to be happy when someone’s mean to you all the time.

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Too Pooped to Pop

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image courtesy of http://www.lovethispic.com

Warning – Rant ahead.

I have a confession. Yes, another one. At this rate, I really should convert, but I’d be a bad Catholic. Which wouldn’t be much different than being a bad Jew, really. Same guilt, different food.

ANYWAY. I’ve used the phrase “Too pooped to pop” for years, but it wasn’t until recently (aka “today”) that I learned that the phrase comes from a song. Two songs, actually.  Cliffie Stone released one in 1955 – it’s a cute song about a tired popcorn kernel, roasting at the bottom of the pan. Chuck Berry’s song was released in 1960, and it resonates with me.

Casey is an old man who wants to be a teen
He goes to all the dances and they call him cha-cha King
He cha-cha’s when the band is playin’ rock and roll
He tries to keep in time but the beat leaves him cold
Because he’s too pooped to pop, too old a soul
Hips gettin’ weaker when he tries to do this stroll
And every time his feet get to go in one way
Here comes a new dance and it’s goin’ to stray

Not that I’m an old man, and I don’t really want to be a teen (SO MUCH DRAMA) – but I’m definitely too pooped to pop. I’m tired from the top of my head to the tops of my toenails.

It’s not just me. According to Prevention.com:

If you frequently wonder: “Why am I always tired?” you’re not alone. Two out of every five Americans report feeling wiped out most of the week, and research from the Centers for Disease Control shows that 1 in 3 adults fails to get enough sleep. Between work or school, family and friends, and all the other commitments you’re juggling, it’s easy to blame constant fatigue on a busy lifestyle.

Menopause can be the culprit. According to Consumer Health Digest:

Menopausal fatigue is caused by lower levels of estrogen in the body. These lower levels lead to problems like failing to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, higher stress levels and anxiety. These symptoms tend to aggravate fatigue, making it difficult for a woman to function normally.

But it’s more than just menopause. I’m tired of the headlines, I’m tired of all the hatred being spewed on social media and the “doom and gloom” headlines and stories. Mostly I’m tired of gun violence.

There was a shooting at Saugus high school in Santa Clarita this morning.

Last week was the one year anniversary of the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks (13 dead, including the gunman).

I have multiple friends who were in Las Vegas for the Route 91 festival in 2017 (58 dead).

June 12 of this year marked the 3rd anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando (49 dead).

And December 14th will mark 7 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (26 dead, including 20 between 6 and 7 years old).

So many dead, so many school children spending time practicing lockdown drills, and yet, somehow, our political leaders can’t seem to pass gun legislation, even something as simple as a universal background check

H.R. 8 was blocked by Republican Senator Cyndi Hyde-Smith of Mississippi this morning, even as teens were running for their lives.

She claimed that the bill would infringe on our second amendment rights, and that she worried about the impact on her “law-abiding constituents.” The bill didn’t aim to take guns away from “law-abiding citizens” it merely wanted to require background checks on all firearm sales in the country (currently, only licensed gun dealers must perform them). It even had exemptions like “gifts to family members and transfers for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense.”

I’m tired of politicians putting their lobbyists ahead of their constituents and then claiming that they’re “fighting for your freedoms.” I’m tired of people who seem to think that waiting 10 days for a gun is too long – that their right to own a gun is more important than our childrens’ right to be free from fear. I’m tired of the NRA.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the second amendment.  I believe that people have a right to defend their homes. I don’t hunt, but I have “killed” many a target with a range of guns, including the much maligned “assault rifle.” I also believe it’s time we made some changes.

It’s time that we kick our NRA sponsored politicians to the curb. It’s time that we stand up and demand that our political leaders pass common sense legislation. It’s time that we make our children’s safety more important than the inconvenience of waiting a week or two.

And for those of you who still aren’t convinced of the NRA’s political influence? I suggest you read this article from NBC that ran just after the Pulse club massacre. They list five additional ways the NRA cheats the system to buy political clout:

1) The National Rifle Association could also give to party committees and the national party. A maxed-out donation to the national party quickly increases campaign spending to more than $100,000. Any organization – or person – can also give $33,400 to a party committee, like the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee or their Democratic counterparts. Finally, state and local parties can each receive a $10,000, quickly allowing campaign finance totals to sour to nearly half-a-million dollars.

2) While the organization has to follow campaign limits, its members can make their own political donations, also following campaign finance limits noted above. But with millions of members, political clout builds quickly.

3) The NRA has a politically active membership. With more than five million members, the NRA constantly communicates with its members about gun issues and advising them how to vote. The organization is also constantly increasing its voter rolls by registering people to vote.

4) The NRA also activates its membership when elected officials are facing gun-related legislation, resulting in phone calls and emails and letters to Congress. In addition, lawmakers’ votes are noted and advertised to their issue-oriented membership.

5) The NRA has its own super PAC and 501c4 political organization which can run its own political campaign. The two groups combined spent more than $27 million in the 2014 midterm elections on Senate and Congressional candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A lot of that money was spent on political advertising on television, radio and digital, and on direct mail.

Join me. Write and call your representatives. Write and call and email and march. Write and call and email and march and stand up. Stand up for common sense legislation.  Stand up for your right to protect your love ones. Stand up for those who can’t.

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Awareness Matters

october-national-depression-mental-health-screening-month[1]October is  important to me because it gives me a chance to play with zombies, clowns and broken dolls. Of the three, the only one that scares me are dolls clowns (ok, maybe clowndolls).

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But October is important for other (more important) reasons.

October is Mental Health Awareness Month. There have been a lot of posts on social media sharing crisis hotline information, listing the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation and advising us that depression isn’t always obvious.

Mental Health Awareness month is important to me because it has personal significance. I come from a long line of women who self medicate for depression, and I’ve shared stories of my battles with the Black Dog. It should be important for everyone.

We are suffering from a crisis. The World Health Organization states that “Around 450 million people currently suffer from (mental health issues), placing mental disorders amount the leading causes of ill-health an disability worldwide.” The article continues:

“Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Where there is neglect, there is little or no understanding. Where there is no understanding, there is neglect.”

Even more alarming is the fact that according to the Centers for Disease Control data, the suicide for Americans aged 15-24 (aka Generation Z) is the highest it’s been since at least 1999. The overall suicide rate for this age group has risen by 51% over the past decade. We tell people that suicide is “selfish” instead of recognizing it as the last choice of someone who is in more pain than we can possibly imagine (full disclosure – I’ve been guilty of this one).

Mental Health issues are one of our remaining taboos. We suggest that people who are clinically depressed should avoid medication and tell them that they “just need to change their diet and exercise more.” We call them “Eeyore” and tell them they need to “buck up” and get out of the house.

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I came across a great article in (of all places) People magazine. PEOPLE magazine wants to change the stigma with their Let’s Talk About It initiative to normalize mental illness. In the article, Ashley Womble director of communications and crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line says that communication with friends and loved ones who are suffering is vital.

“Always ask!” she says. “If you’re concerned about a loved one, it’s important for you to tell them why and make it easier for them to ask for help or support. Suffering is hard enough. You can make it easier by starting the conversation.”

Most importantly, I think we need to stop judging people who struggle with mental illness and offer them sympathy instead. Maybe we should just stop judging people, period.

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If you or someone you love is having a mental health crisis, please reach out for help. NAMI has a downloadable guide for navigating a mental health crisis, and you can always call or text to speak to a trained professional.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741
Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.

On Love, Loss, and Laughter

Yesterday I found out that a long time friend is losing his battle with cancer. It has thrown me for a larger loop than one would expect. Yes, it’s heartbreaking, but it felt like more. this morning I realized that it brought back all the grief from when I lost my brother of heart. Nothing like a little PTSD on a rainy Monday morning.

Twisting Suburbia

images71V16YFPI know what you’re thinking – “Where the hell has Tracey been and what kind of writer doesn’t write?” (or, as my EIC would say, “If a writer isn’t writing, doesn’t that mean they’re not a writer?”)

In Hell. Literally (Ok, maybe not literally). A stuck writer. That’s what kind.

Grief has eaten my brain, and stolen my creativity.

I lost someone a month ago who was incredibly important to me. Well, I didn’t’ “lose” him. It’s not like he was a set of car keys, or a sock that disappeared from the dryer, or my mind.

Sorry for that. I have a habit of trying to compensate for emotional issues with sarcasm and lame attempts at humor. Let me try again.

My friend died a month ago.

Wow. There it is, in black and white. The phrase I’ve avoided. I know it’s hard to read, but trust me, it’s harder to write…

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To Twist or not to Twist, that is the question…

I came across this post from my first attempt to learn the fundamentals. The fact that I talked about stepford wives, minivans drink or treating and avoiding the PTSA made me laugh out loud. Evidently my reason for blogging remains the same (no, I didn’t read this BEFORE my most recent post)

Twisting Suburbia

I am several days behind on the Blogging101 “Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals” course. Ithought about hitting more than one lesson a day until I’m current.I am tired, fighting a cold and have writer’s block, so it sounds like too muchworkfor today.For now, I will work one lesson at a time. It’s nice back here. I’m so far behind I think I’m first!

Day Two: Make Sure You Love Your Title

I thought about changing my blog’s title when Irealized thatmy blog needed a reboot. I considered it for a nanosecond (not to be confused with nana second, the length of time it takes your grandmother to realize that you are Up To Something).

images7My instincts whispered that I should keep my title, and I ALWAYS listen to my instincts.*

In truth, I could have used a guide to suburbia when I first moved here. There are books about what…

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F.E.A.R.*

 

 

fear2The girl and I are volunteering at Voodoo on the Bayou – a Halloween haunt being putting on by The 13th Gate Asylum and the Simi Valley Rotary. This post was prompted by the fact that I came thisclose to letting Fear stop me from scaring people. 

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I’ve written about FEAR before. So many times, in fact, that I was (almost) afraid to write about it AGAIN (“What if they think I’m a coward? What if they think ‘OMG doesn’t she have anything NEW to say?’”) – but then I decided that I’m not going to let Fear stop me.

There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. In fact, as Angela of Beradiant2 tell us, having some fear is healthy, and even essential:  “Having some fear is healthy. Fear plays an important role in our psyche.  Without the fear flight survival response – the instinctual urge to run in the face of danger – our species would have been hunted into extinction long ago.

But that’s fear with a lower case f, not Fear, the scum sucking pig who makes up one half of the not-so-dynamic duo (Fear and Anxiety are BFFs).

Fear (capital F) is an asshat – a sneaky, no good, lying bastard who tells us lies to keep us stuck and afraid.  He sneaks into our room at night and slips nightmares into our dreaming mind. He whispers lies into our ears that stop us from pursuing our dreams (“what if you fail?”) and wraps his blanket soft arms around us, pulling us back into the waking sleep of our comfort zone. We tell ourselves that it’s “better to be safe than sorry”, but that’s just Fear speaking through us.  

But Fear tells us lies to keep us stuck. Fear is not our friend. Or maybe he is. Fear is the passive-aggressive/abusive friend who separates you from your family of heart in an attempt to convince you that you’re “less than.” Fear isolates us and keeps us from moving forward. Fear prevents us from taking new opportunities and trying new things.Fear doesn’t want us to grow and change. Fear fears change (see what I did there?).

Fear not friends – we can beat him. Thankfully, the wonderful people at Unstuck have provided a list of 9 tips to help you move past the fear. Here’s the most important thing to remember about Fear. Fear is a bully. Like most bullies, Fear runs away when we stop running and face him head on. Fear remembers what we have forgotten – that courage isn’t a lack of fear. Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

As for me? I’m choosing to breakup with Fear.

 

*False Expectations Appearing Real

 

 

If at first you don’t succeed….

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“If at first you don’t succeed, give up” – Homer Simpson

I know I promised I’d try to write every day. I could lie, and say that I’ve been journaling, but the lie benefits nobody (well, it soothes my fragile ego, but lying to myself doesn’t help, because even I don’t believe me). Instead of spending the rest of the month in my blanket fort, beating myself up for failing to keep yet another New Year’s Resolution, I’ve decided to start over.

I realize that, at 3 weeks into the new year, I am getting a very late start to All Things New, as promised by a fresh and shiny New Year. I am #tardy* to the party. I refuse, however, to beat myself up (any more than I have already). I may be late, but at least I’ve shown up.

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image courtesy of digitalbloggers.com

Happy New Year! I am well aware that we are more than two (3) weeks into the new year, but you know what they say – better late than pregnant! How is 2018 working out for your so far?

So far 2018 has been 2017 (cont.) – not bad for our little threesome (not THAT kind of threesome, cochina!), but filled with too much heartache and loss for those I love.

IT NEEDS TO STOP. RIGHT NOW. I’M SERIOUS 2018, I’M NOT PLAYING

That’s not true. I am playing. Or I’m trying to. My daughter and I have been spending our evenings playing cards, Boggle(tm) and other games. It hit me that my daughter, who was born 2 1/2 Momyears ago, is turning 18 in March. She’s leaving the day after graduation to spend her summer in the mountains, catering to the wishes and whims of a group of tweens (she thinks she’ll be working as a camp counselor. Same difference),  We’re three weeks into the new year, and it will be June before I know it and I’m not even close to being ready for a teeny tiny taste of empty nest syndrome. I’ve only JUST gotten used to being Suburban Soccer Mom. WTF Time, slow your ass down!!

I have friends who have been preparing for high school graduation since their child(ren) started kindergarten. Others started making plans the first time their surly teen slammed a door. Oh, there have been a few holdouts. Those who waited until the first day of high school to start working on the blueprints for their new mancave/sewing room/gym. And then there’s me. The former DINK turned accidental mother. The woman who JUST REALIZED that there are less than 5 months until graduation.

I may be late, but I’m here now…and I’m going to do everything in my power to make Time slow down after work so we have time to play.

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image courtesy of likesuccess.com

*Better to be tardy than tarty

tart·y. (from Oxforddictionaries.com)

[ˈtärdē]

ADJECTIVE

BRIT.

informal

  • (of a woman) dressed in a sexually provocative manner that is considered to be in bad taste.
  • (of clothes) contributing to a sexually provocative appearance.

 

 

 

 

Leaf Me Alone

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photo courtesy of Hypnogeniablogspot.com

When I saw today’s daily prompt, my first thought was “Leaf? LEAF? WTH? Who the &%*! comes up with these prompts anyway?” (evidently my pre-coffee brain is a foul mouthed Bitch).

 

Then a quiet voice spoke up (yes, I hear voices – don’t you?) “You’re a writer. Stop resisting. See where it takes you.”

Good morning, and welcome to Leaf – the stream of consciousness experience.

Leaf like the car?

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I’m not a big fan of electric cars, and yesterday’s articles on the Nissan’s new Leaf didn’t do much to change my mind. If anything, the Time’s article freaked me out. Supposedly a new feature allows you to drive without ever touching your brakes. That doesn’t sound safe to me. Does it brake for you? Will it brake suddenly as you’re driving down the freeway, drinking your coffee, eating your breakfast sandwich, changing your shirt and putting on your makeup? (not that I’ve EVER done any of those things)

Or did it mean a leaf from a tree? Leaf…leaves..leaving. Too many people have “shuffled off their mortal coil” this year. Too much loss. Too much sadness. Too much change. Let’s leave that train of thought, shall we?

Leaf – leaves falling. Falling leaves is much better than falling people. I tripped on an uneven bit of sidewalk last week. Bailed big time. Hit my knee, twisted my ankle, bruised my arm and my ego. The teen responded with “I guess it’s starting.” “What’s starting?” “Old people fall all the time.” She was “just teasing.” I responded by putting up a “Free to good home – slightly used teen” flyer. JK. Maybe.

Fall is almost upon us (where the hell did this year go? I must have done something to piss off Time because it’s WHIZZING by) – days are getting colder, leaves are falling from the trees. I love the sound of leaves crunching underfoot. I tried jumping in a pile of leaves once, just to see what I’d I missed as a kid…TBH I’m not really sure that I missed out on anything at all (maybe I just needed a bigger pile of leaves, or a dog to show me how it’s done).

I love Fall – love the cool crisp nights that mean roaring fires and soft cozy sweaters. Of course, it also means the start of everything pumpkin, and I am so over that trend (pretty sure someone’s going to come out with a pumpkin flavored tampon next). Mostly I love Fall because it means that my favorite holiday is on its way. Could it be Thanksgiving? Mmmmm. Turkey and sweet potatoes and stuffing and family and friends and football and food…but no. Christmas? Cards and caroling and friends and family and turkey and sweet potatoes and stuffing and PRESENTS…wrong again.

My favorite holiday is HALLOWEEN. Little kids dressed up as their favorite superhero/popstar and jack o’lanterns, candy and SCARY STORIES and things that go bump in the night and jumping out to say “BOO” just as the cute little kids come to the door (well, maybe not the littlest kids…that’s just mean). For the past few years my daughter and I have been part of the best Haunt ever – Deadzone805. Great group of people who put on a great event. Unfortunately they’re taking a year off and we will have to find our victims elsewhere…

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the little scaractor

 

Or did the prompt refer to a newly budded leaf? A symbol of Spring, of love, and Hope.

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photo courtesy of Georgraph.org.uk

 

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because today is the Autumn Equinox.

Huh. Guess it wasn’t such a weird prompt after all. Happy Fall Y’all!

 

: the great debate :

Aaaaaand this is just one reason that I haven’t written in a month….”poof” skittery birds!

the whirly girl

Coming up with ideas is a crap shoot. I’ve no clue where they come from or where to look when I need one. Ideas have a mind all their own and follow their own sneaky, backstairs schedule. Sometimes they drop by, but more often they don’t.

You can’t force them, either; I’ve tried. It scares them off.  Ideas, I’ve decided, are like birds, very, very skittery. Attempt a sudden grab and, fwip, away it goes. Gah, so frustrating and so typical. The better plan is to ignore how desperately you need a spark, a notion, any sign of brain activity whatsoever and go on about your day. Which, for me, means sitting on my keister and obsessing over stuff I can’t control.

Which I was doing when, shazam!, two ideas landed in my brainpan at the very same time. Lucky, lucky me — two bona fide possibilities.

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She Blinded Me With Science

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“She” being Marie Curie.

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When I was young(er) I wrote a paper about the mother of modern physics. I was FASCINATED by her, and found her death both tragic and heroic. For a while I wanted to be Madame Curie. I pestered my parents until they bought me a chemistry set, but lost interest when I found that none of the compounds would explode or render my baby brother invisible (or mute).

Just kidding. Maybe. I’d like to tell you that I am a huge science dork. I would like to, but I’ve recently learned that one definition of “dork” is  “whale’s penis” or just “penis” and I’m definitely not a science penis, whale or otherwise.

I did well in science, but only because my mutant superpower was the ability to know what would be on the test (and no, I didn’t cheat). My husband, on the other hand, is enamored of all things scientific (which is incredibly weird for a musician). He loves quantum physics and can spend hours watching programs about string theory. He’s my own Sheldon Cooper, without the creepy smile.

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TBH Science usually makes me yawn, but it’s caught my interest once again. Science has made the news a lot this week. I have to admit I squealed like a fangirl when I heard that The Doctor joined the worldwide march for science. I was equally impressed by the story of a strange light named Steve:

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image credit to dailynewsglobal.com

A new type of light discovered in the night sky has been named “Steve.” Eric Donovan of the University of Calgary initially discovered the light when he did not recognize it as a cataloged variety. The European Space Agency used its Swarm mission to further examine the light. The light is 25 kilometers wide and flows 600 times faster than air. Scientists named it Steve after the 2006 animated movie “Over the Hedge.” – YAHOO

 

and now I find out that the Death Star is REAL

I might have to dig out the old chemistry set and invite my brother to come help me with an experiment.

Last, but not least, because some of you are probably too young for the earworm my title triggered for the rest of us: