Monday, November 19, 2018

Bittersweet Symphony: New Hamster Edition

We had a bittersweet trip up to New Hampshire two weeks ago.  My best friend Tim moved up there at the end of fifth grade. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world, because he would be living three hundred miles away and I would only ever see him when he came down to visit his dad in the summer.  But we bucked the odds and stayed friends over the years. We kept in touch through letters and later by email. When we grew old enough to drive, I visited him when I could and he returned the favor.  He was the best man at my wedding.

Now Tim is moving away again, this time to Georgia, which is certainly out of the range of a weekend trip. I’m quite happy that he’s going to get out of the lovely but stifling life in small-town New England, but I am quite sad that we won’t be seeing him nearly as much.

We departed on Thursday night and stayed in a motel with wood panel walls. Wood paneling is the best. Anyone who says different is selling something. (This means you, Jennifer)

Tim would be working until 5 pm that evening, so we took our time and meandered our way across Vermont. We stopped at a roadside attraction to pick up some maple sugar candy for our neighbors. (Don’t get your hopes up if you’re reading this, Nicole. It was too delicious and we eated it all up. Nom nom nom!) We also stopped by the museum in their basement. Jen was interested, I was ambivalent. I was expecting a Mystery Shack type scam,
but hey, we had time to kill and we were in tourist mode, so I was expecting to be fleeced like the punter I am.

However, the museum at  Hogsback Mountain was just tremendous. Great staff, fun and informative. It had a hologram of a T-Rex. What’s not to love?

We continued meandering and eventually found our way to the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough. This was another delight. I found it through a google search for stuff to do in Keene and wasn’t expecting much from it except a reduction in the time I’d have to wait before I saw my friend. Two exhibits really stood out.

The beautifully handcrafted quilts featured in And Still We Rise were created by an international group of artists from the Women of Color Quilters Network and narrate the history of the African American experience, capturing the stories of freedom’s heroes and engaging visitors to reflect on and respond to significant national events over the past 400 years. The exhibition’s resonant theme is the triumph of the human spirit within African American culture.


The Biggest Book in the World about Peace: The product of twelve years of work by members of a middle school writers’ club in Groton, MA, this project was born from the simple conviction that young people CAN make a difference in helping to create a more peaceful world.

The quilts were inspiring. The book was grand.  The lady who ran the place was so friendly and informed.  Also, there was a dress made out of books. How cool is that?!

Then it was on to Keene to meet Tim!

We didn’t do a huge amount that first evening. Tim was house sitting, so I stayed with him and Jen and Lily stayed elsewhere. Then we met up and drove out to Funspot, the largest arcade in the world. Lily played Hercules, the oversized pinball game that uses billiard balls.

She played a bunch of redemption games too.  I played Cliffhanger, which is like Dragon’s Lair, but with the Castle of Cagliostro.

Jen played Burger Time. We were hoping for Yie Ar Kung-Fu, but they didn’t have it.

We stopped for Thai food and it was super delicious. Tim and I bought and played Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition. It was on sale for $4.79. We had played it previously, but it was fun to play it again. We enjoyed it more this time because we played the DLC and spent a lot of time punching hopping vampires in the face.

We ate brunch together the next morning and then we drove home. It was a lovely visit. Bittersweet, as I’ve said. I’m glad we had the chance to see Tim before he starts his big adventure.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Which are better, spiders or dogs?

I was discussing the most recent episode of Doctor Who with a friend.  The episode was titled Arachnids in the UK and featured a bunch of spiders, as one might expect. She enjoyed it, but found it unsettling, because she does not like spiders.

I can’t imagine why. Spiders are pretty great.

I will put aside my personal feelings and go into this exercise entirely without bias of any kind. With sober, dispassionate objectivity I will compare spiders to dogs in ten categories, and we’ll see just exactly who is man’s best friend.


Look at these randomly selected pictures selected completely at random. They are perfectly representative of the critters in question.

So dapper! So earnest!


Average dog

Harry Potter appearances

Aragog: Voiced by Julian Glover and therefore awesome!

My dear, no one could be as stupid as he seems. 

Outsmarted by children. Terrible watchdog. Drooly and disgusting.

You had one job!

Odor when wet

Dog: Smells like wet dog.

Spider: Does not smell like wet dog.

Anthropomorphized appearance 

Spiders: Far and wide her lesser broods, bastards of the miserable mates, her own offspring, that she slew, spread from glen to glen, from the Ephel DĂșath to the eastern hills, to Dol Guldur and the fastnesses of Mirkwood. But none could rival her, Shelob the Great, last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world.

Shelob looks pretty great in that Middle Earth game.



Spiders eat insects. Spiders eat 880 million tons of insects every year. That’s a lot of creepy-crawlies not biting you.

Dogs eat their own poop. I don’t know how much of it, but I doubt it’s 880 million tons worth.

Charlotte's Web

Would not make sense with dogs. They can’t spin webs and their spelling is atrocious.

Fighting the Red Baron

We’re coming up on the centennial of the armistice that ended WWI. Snoopy has had a hundred years to defeat the Red Baron and he still hasn’t managed to do it. Put a dog-sized spider in the cockpit of that Sopwith Camel and Richthofen will be limping back home by sunset.


Dogs always want to hump my leg or lick my hand and it’s disgusting. Spiders do neither of these things.

Substances produced out of rear ends

Spiders: Spider silk! Spider silk is absolutely bonkers. A given weight of spider silk is five times as strong as the same weight of steel. Dragline silks can hold their strength below −40 and up to 428 °F. Silks are about a sixth of the density of steel. As a result, a strand long enough to circle the Earth would weigh less than 500 grams. Spider silk is incredible!

Dogs: Poop. Again with the poop. Get it together, doggos!   Dogs don’t produce any marvelous materials out of their hindquarters. I’m sure that the prospect of more poop is enticing to the other dogs who want to eat it, but it’s less appealing to the world at large.

Consequences of bite

Spider:  Muscle tone,


 male enhancement.

Dog: Rabies.

In conclusion, Spiders are better than dogs. Sorry, spider-hating friend. It's just science.

A word from Lily: Also, side-note, people eat spiders more often than dogs, and they let dogs play the victims? Shame on you, spider haters. SHAAAAME.

Image result for kawaii spider

Image result for dogs are terrible