This is why I like December

The reason I like December so much is that for a few weeks everyone acts the way I act all the time. Constant stream of treats and treating yourself? Yup! Parties where we pretend to be classier than we are? Yup. Monday? Tuesday? Yup, yup, doesn’t have to be a weekend. Getting free stuff everywhere you go? Yeah, and give away a lot of stuff too. With jazzy music in the background.

Make a lot of money, spend a lot of money, have fun. Those are the keys to life.

Happiness is…

It’s the holiday season, and life is good in the sports world. My sports world.

After an embarrassing loss Monday night the Wizards have bounced back with two straight wins on their Western trip. They are in first place in the Southeast Division, an admittedly meaningless distinction but a distinction nonetheless.

The Capitals have won three in a row, all in high-scoring affairs (hello, 50% off at Papa John’s!), and are rounding into regular-season form.

But they’re all topped by the… wait for it… Binghamton Bearcats! They are winners of five in a row, including several games against actual Division I opponents.

Yeah, that’s how we roll.

Egg nog season is upon us

Add egg nog to the list of products overrun by bizarre 21st-century variations. When I was a kid there was “egg nog.” Well, I suppose there were two kinds. You could make it or you could buy it. (But once you could buy it, who was still making it?)

Oreos, Triscuits, Pop-Tarts. When I was a kid there might have been two or three versions of these products, tops. (And that was a huge increase from the one version that existed previously.) Candy bars are now getting into the act as well. Even the classics (Snickers, Milky Ways, 3 Musketeers, etc.) have altered versions of the classic form. Reece’s cups, Twix, M&Ms, of course. Heck, even Hershey bars aren’t Hershey bars anymore. And don’t get me started on Hershey Kisses.

Christmastime, naturally, is the great flowering of said blooms. Everything at least has an unusual holiday wrapper, no? And often the items themselves go red, white, and/or green. That’s the magic of 21st-century living. They can make anything taste like anything.

Pumpkin-flavored egg nog? You betcha. Sugar cookie egg nog? Caramel egg nog?

That these products didn’t exist a few years ago is the kind of news that absolutely stuns my students. And you had how many channels on your TV, Mr. O’Connell? Four. But PBS didn’t come in so well.

From four channels to caramel egg nog in one lifetime. I must be really lucky or really old.

Thanks for proving my point

It seems not everyone was convinced by Wednesday’s post on this site and the accompanying research of R. Alexander Pyron, suggesting that, in layman’s terms, human beings are the species worth saving here on planet Earth. For not one day later, while perusing the alumni magazine that occasionally arrives at my home (that would be the Fall 2017 edition of Binghamton University Magazine) I stumbled upon this gem in the campus news section:

Physical facilities workers built and installed more than 30 new ramps on the Connector Road to help yellow-spotted salamanders make their annual spring migration from woods to water in the Nature Preserve. Previous ramps, installed in the ’90s, created obstacles for snowplows; the new ramps are cut into the curbs.

Two things I often find myself saying:

  1. Where do I even begin?
  2. This is not a joke.

Don’t worry, though. I hear the salamanders are going to pay for it. Not up front, mind you, but I understand they’ve worked out a payment plan with the state legislature to reimburse all costs over a multi-year period, perhaps a payment in lieu of taxes arrangement concurrent with their unpaid bills from those “previous ramps.” We should start to see a return on investment very soon.

Thanks for making me look smart, BU.

Shocking news in the Post

The Outlook section of Sunday’s Washington Post (that’s my local paper) contained an article headlined “Species die. Get over it.”

Don’t need much coffee after that.

It was not April Fool’s Day. I hadn’t picked up The Washington Times by mistake. I was not reading The Onion by mistake, and I was not actually watching Saturday Night Live. This was a real article by a real biologist (a Mr. R Alexander Pyron) suggesting that yes, species disappear from the planet all the time. We don’t need to go to the ends of the earth (literally) to save them. The species we need to worry about saving is us. You know… da humans.

Hidden gem in the Outlook section. Yeah, there’s the usual drivel about climate change and consuming less and all that. But there are some great zingers too about the silly efforts to save some bizarre animal you’ve never heard of.

I mention this all because I actually met Mr. Pyron yesterday afternoon. He seemed very knowledgeable even though his nametag read “trainee.” He said he had just started working at Wendy’s after a long career in academia ended Monday, after the publishing of said article.