If You Need A Break (I Do)

Here’s some utterly non-political awesomeness with which to launch the weekend:


My regret:  the strandbeests came to Massachusetts last fall — the MIT campus even! — and I didn’t manage to see them in action.


And consider this a random and campaign-free open thread.

You’ll come running back

I don’t understand why it’s vital that Bernie get out of the race and endorse Hillary immediately. I do understand why he needs to do this before the convention. But I don’t understand why it has to happen soon.

It sounds like Hillary can expect about a 5 point, give or take, bounce from bringing the Bernie voters home, and I’m confident she’ll get this sooner or later. In the meantime, isn’t it just as well that she has only a 4-6 point lead in polls instead of a 9-11 point lead, given that a double digit lead might convince Republicans to do the smart thing and find a way to dump Trump?

Every day that Republicans think Trump is in it to win it and go around idiotically tying their fates to his is a good day for Democrats. If Trump were way down in the polls, this wouldn’t be happening the way that it is right now.

And eventually Bernie will do the right thing. In the meantime, we need to just chill them liberals out and wait for the cavalry, which should be coming directly.

In fact, it was a little bit frightening

This is a bit Captain Obvious but, yeah, we can expect a lot of Rasmussen polls where Trump and Hill are neck and neck, and a lot of Chuck Todd pieces about how the key Edible Arrangements moms or liquor store uncle or whatever demographic is shifting towards Trump:


Reporters will get bored writing Trump-is-going-to-lose-big stories. Some will want the race to tighten. They’ll look for angles to promote the idea. You can see some of that taking shape already. The media took approving notice when experienced political operatives supplanted Trump’s posse of fanboys, who’d been running things until recently. With a change of personnel has come a little more maturity and message discipline—or what passes for discipline in a willful, insecure, ungovernable personality like Trump’s.

I got very scared during the Sandra Day O’Palin portion of the 2008 election, which fortunately only lasted about two weeks. And I expect to get a little scared during this general election too.

The Pestivus Parade: A True Story

I grew up in a small coastal town in Florida. Every year there was an annual holiday parade featuring an honor guard, Future Farmers of America, the school marching band, floats sponsored by local merchants and Santa and his elves on the town fire truck.

One year, my younger sister and I got to be in the parade. We were about five and six at the time, so when we were told that we were actually going to be on a float in the parade instead of mere spectators, it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to us.

Even when our mom told us we would be riding on the Florida Pest Control float (a display sponsored by the exterminator business where our grandfather worked at the time) and costumed as vermin, it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. At least, not until we saw our costumes, which our mom spent days sewing for us. I was to dress as a rat, and that was okay with me:


However, my sister had to be a cockroach, and she was NOT happy about that, even though our mom had cleverly used fishing line to make the costume’s fake roachy arms move whenever my sister moved her real arms:


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Why do you keep passing the open windows?


Scoff if you must (and some of you will), but this blog is a community of sorts, and many of us have had a tough time lately. One thing that continues to amaze me, not just at Balloon Juice but in life generally, is the range and diversity of how people deal with anger, sorrow and pain.

Some people drink themselves into a stupor. Some people eat or smoke too much. Some people loll in front of the TV until they nod off. Some people read all the time. Some people create – food, art, prose, poetry, needlepoint, knitting, etc. Some people focus on their families or pets. Some people shop. Some people pursue romance or at least sex. Some people drive around aimlessly in a car or on a bike or wander around in the dark on foot.

With the exception of knitting, I’ve engaged in every single one of those activities at some point as a way to convince myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Obviously some of these activities are more healthy than others, but I’m not sure it’s the activities themselves that are important as a way to get through a shitty time but rather the distraction they provide.

Those are all ways to stay occupied and/or distracted, so “stay occupied and/or distracted” is the underlying strategy. Maybe every coping strategy is a species of this, but I’m not convinced that’s true. For example, I’ve been on a few heinous hamster wheels of suck in my life where I had to force myself to stop just occupying my time and make a radical change to disembark. I had to leave that horrible job or get out of that toxic relationship, etc., even though it was scary as hell at the time.

That was the only way back to (relative) mental health. I’m not suggesting that making a radical life change can cure clinical depression, which I believe is a chemical imbalance that is just as much a medical condition as diabetes. But I think we do have the power, in some cases, to change our lives in a way that can jolt us out of feeling so sad or angry or downtrodden or ashamed. And doing so can improve our overall mental health, just as lifestyle changes can mitigate the course of certain types of diabetes.

So even though I’m afraid of where this thread might go, I’m going to ask anyway: Have you ever found yourself languishing on some horrible hamster wheel of suck and found a way to change your thinking and/or actions enough to get off of it? In a world that is so filled with sadness, impermanence and pain, what makes you keep passing the open windows?

Come On, Shake Your Body, Baby (Open Thread)


Possibly the best opening sentence of any news article, anywhere, ever:

Cuban leader Raul Castro’s daughter, a sexologist and supporter of gay rights, has urged Cubans to join a traditional “conga” dance against homophobia taking place in Havana on Saturday.

Well done, Ms. Castro. May your conga line stretch from Alamar to Zaragoza.

[X-posted at Rumproast]

Gun nuts: please stop protecting us. Really. We mean it.

Our self-appointed citizen militia may need more training before we put them in elementary schools:

When Kolton McKinney, 12, unfolded the seat in a Tillamook movie theater Wednesday morning and heard a “plink,” he thought a part of the seat might have fallen out. Then the boy heard friend Levi Crabtree say, “Dude, there’s a gun.” A loaded Beretta 9mm semi-automatic handgun, that is. One bullet in the chamber. The safety off.
But authorities said the dangerous encounter turned out OK in no small part because the two boys did exactly as they should have. They stayed away from the gun and called for a teacher, who in turn called police to Tillamook’s Coliseum Theatre.
The boys were among three busloads of seventh-graders who struck out on a field trip to see “The Hobbit” at the downtown Tillamook theater Wednesday. The field trip was a reward for passing all of their fall classes, said Tillamook schools superintendent Randy Schild.
After McKinney and his friend alerted the teacher, the students were evacuated while Long and his deputies and Tillamook city police searched the theater. Once they found there were no other threats, they let the students back in to enjoy the film.
On Wednesday evening, Gary Quackenbush, 61, turned up at the theater seeking his missing gun, “like it would be in the lost and found with lost eyeglasses and other things,” said Long.
“He has a concealed handgun license,” Long said. “That will be revoked tonight. The law says if you are a danger to yourself or the public, it can be revoked.”A man answering a phone number listed for Quackenbush laughed and told a reporter, “Get a life.”

He meant well so no harm, no foul:

On Thursday, Quackenbush, 61, apologized for the scare and said he was up all night worrying about his missing gun. Police are now holding the pistol as evidence and have revoked Quackenbush’s concealed handgun permit.
Quackenbush said he carried the permit and weapon because of shootings such as the one at Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary School. He’s also a licensed gun dealer, but said he does very little selling and mostly steers buyers to good websites.
“You go into a mall and all of a sudden there is this jackass psycho killing people,” he said. “I’ll stand in front of a kid and take the bullet, but I’m going to take him out, too.”

Tillamook Police Chief Terry Wright said he’s recommending that Tillamook County prosecutors charge Quackenbush with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it wouldn’t affect his gun-selling license.
“Wednesday I made sure I was at the movie house before their normal opening only to find that a school group had been there earlier. I had them call the police to inform them I was there to recover my property. Much to my shock the officer had a trail of media on his heels five minutes later. How they got there from Portland baffled me.”