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“Conversations I could have had”, episode 1

March 12, 2018
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Tell me a story, she said.

Okay, he said, after a minute. One time I ate a person.

You fucking what?

Well not a whole person, but seriously. I mean, I guess you would say I ate people-meat.

You’re gonna have to tell the story a lot faster if you want me to stick around. That’s disgusting. Did you kill somebody?

Oh fuck, no no no. It wasn’t anything like that. I was in this fraternity in college…

That’s not a turn I expected this to take. Go on.

Yeah, so I was in a fraternity. It wasn’t one of those total asshole ones you see on TV, or in movies or whatever. It was pretty laid-back. But there was a lot of sitting around between classes or at night, talking and bullshitting to avoid studying. You know how it goes.

Yeah, I guess so.

So some of the guys were into occlumency. Or, I don’t know what you call it. You know, like pretending to be into Satanism when they really weren’t? Like, they would write sixes on their notepaper, and make the sign of the devil, stuff like that. It was all pretty tongue-in-cheek. Anyway, they decided to make a club out of it.

A club within a fraternity?

Yeah, like I said, anything to avoid studying. It was the “Demonshead Club”. Some of the guys collected black candles, and got cheap-ass black cloaks and fucked around, pretending to do ceremonies and stuff. It’s kind of weird saying it out loud now. It all seemed fairly funny at the time, even when somebody took it too far. This guy Jeff went out one time, and wanted to buy a bag of blood for a ritual, but he didn’t know how to get hold of blood. I mean, you can’t just walk into a place and say, “excuse me, can I have a quart of blood?”

Sure, grocery stores and blood banks both would probably frown on that.

Right. So what Jeff did was, he ended up buying, like, I don’t know, 20 pounds of steak or something, and letting them all drip into a bowl. I think he ended up with a cup or two of blood. The fraternity head was pretty pissed off because Jeff splashed it all over a pentacle he drew on the kitchen floor, and then didn’t clean all of it up. It kind of stank after a while.

So, the next logical step was to eat a human being? Again, did somebody kill someone? Or did one of the frat brothers drunkenly donate some piece of flesh one day?

Yeah well, it doesn’t seem like it would be the next logical step, eating people is pretty far out there. But yeah, of course somebody took it too far, and everybody got joking about how that would be a fantastic idea. I think several of us might’ve been a little high at the time.

Okay, so you’re all high and you’ve gotten buy-in on the cannibalism thing. What’s the next step?

That’s what a bunch of us said: so what’s the next step? And of course, some asshole has a friend or a cousin or something that worked at a funeral parlor…

Oh, shit.


They are quiet for a minute, looking at each other over cooling cups of coffee. She glanced around the cafe again, but no one else was paying them any attention.

OK, so?

I don’t know, I wasn’t there for it. I’m absolutely positive money changed hands; they took up a collection.

They took up a collection to bribe the funeral guy to give you person-meat?

Yeah. So anyway, somebody had the idea, somebody took at the collection, somebody went and had the conversation, and one weekend we were all standing in the front house kitchen staring at a chunk of what looked like fairly pale skirt steak.

Oh, gross.

Yeah, it was. But we had had such a buildup, you know? We had talked about it so much, and had all the goofy demonic frat house vibe thing going on, even if it was still just a joke.

Was it really? I mean at that point – with person-meat sitting on the kitchen counter – is it really just a joke?

Kind of? People are weird, you know. Some things are a joke and they aren’t, and they’re still a joke too. I don’t know how to explain it exactly.

I think I get it. A little bit. I wouldn’t consider eating the damn people-meat though.

Yeah, well, I did eat some. Somebody cooked it. That was Jeff, actually. He wasn’t the one that had done the suggestion or the collection or the talking to the guy, I know that. But he did volunteer to cook it.

So? What was it like?

Overcooked as shit.


Tell me more, tell me more (Beekeeping part 2)

March 11, 2018

So yes, I’ve been doing quite a lot of reading. Yep, absorbing QUITE a lot of the old info, me. 

Lucky me, a friend asks me: “So once you get your bees, how do you get them in the hive and make them stay?”


(Quick note: I grabbed the first videos I could find for these links, instead of vetting the videos. Just saying, these links might not be the highest quality videos out there.)

If you get on YouTube and look around, you can see dozens of videos of bee installations, and they’re really amazing. People just shaking thousands of bees out of a box, straight into the hive. It’s nuts. 

I ended up getting two nucleus hives (they’re miniature hives, with five frames of bees) instead of packages (“a box of bees”, which would have been cheaper, but I have reasons). 

To install the bees, I will put the frames into the hive, make sure the queen’s in there with them, and they’re pretty cool with it. It already smells like home in there at that point, because they’re the frames they’ve already been crawling around on, and the same queen with the same pheromones they’re totally used to. And the queen stays where she’s put, more or less.

And of course there’ll be leftover bees that weren’t on the frames, or flew out or fell off. But again, the box will smell like home because Queen pheromones. I’ve seen people  put a ramp to the hive entrance, and lay the mostly empty box on the ground pointing to it. The bees just march on in, toward the queen smell. 

Generally speaking bees don’t WANT to be homeless. If you stick them into the equivalent of a furnished luxury apartment, the’re basically like “hey, fookin noice m8”.

This is what I have absorbed so far. I don’t believe anyone else has actually put it quite thusly.

How to Adult: How to Vote

February 28, 2018

Register to Vote

First, you have to be registered to vote in your state. Search “register to vote [my state name]” for information. Some states have online registration, but lots do not. Generally you just have to fill out a form (most libraries carry these) and mail it in. Then you’re registered to vote!

Get ready to Vote

How to vote in an election:

  1. Make sure you’re registered to vote.
  2. Find out where to vote. Google “where can I vote [your city name]”.
  3. As long as you’re at it, find out what voter ID laws apply to you. Here are Texas’ laws…the simple version is, bring a license if you have one. State-specific ACLU websites usually have a simple writeup.
  4. Search for WHO you get to vote on. Google something like, “democratic primary election guide texas”  (with your state, party and the election type). You’ll get a guide.
  5. Read up a bit about who you’ll be voting on. Google something like “[local newspaper] primary election endorsements”. The Dallas News has done a great job of writing up their recommendations for each race, which is extremely helpful. Make notes!
  6. Go vote! It matters.

About Voting

The first time you vote may feel intimidating, but don’t worry about it. You don’t get beaten up for making a mistake.

Whether it’s electronic or on paper, you just read the instructions, ask questions of the volunteers if you need to, and select the candidates you’d like to vote for. Don’t stress!

About Elections

There are different kinds of elections: presidential, midterm, state, local…it would be a really good idea to skim the Wikipedia article on US elections. And to find out what elections are happening in any given year, Google “US elections [this year]”, and “[my state] elections [this year]”.

A few quick notes:

  • We elect the president every 4 years. This will also coincide with other elections.
  • We have national and often state and local elections, 2 years after each presidential elections. These are midterms.
  • We have “off year” elections in odd numbered years, too.

There’s lots more information about elections here.

The waiting is the hardest part (Beekeeping part 1)

February 24, 2018

This will be our first year to keep bees! We’ve been thinking about it for years, but we were kicked into gear by a friend mentioning a beekeeping class in town (by the Bee Girl). We went. We played with bees. We’re hooked.

I got my hives in – ordered from the Ohio Bee Box Company – yesterday, and I’ve unboxed and played with those. But I’m DYING for the end of March, when I can pick up my bees!

In the meantime I’m reading*, watching YouTube videos, and obsessively checking the Reddit Beekeeping sub. Here’s your picture for the day, courtesy of user doe-het-zelf:


Things to remember:

  • The slang for beekeeper is “beek”.
  • Skeps are illegal in places, because you can’t check the health of the bees, or harvest honey without destroying the hive. (The picture above is a sun hive, which is different.)
  • The Beekeeper’s Handbook has tons of really cool info about the private lives of bees. E.g., bee jobs are partly dependent on the bee’s age, but they’re really flexible according to the needs of the hive. Nectar flow on? More bees will become foragers. And so on.
  • Edit: I just found the Texas beekeeping laws, and am reading them. Damn, I’ve got it baaaad

Books: Beekeeper’s Handbook, Top-Bar Beekeeping, Home-Grown Honeybees.

One more thing we can do about gun violence

February 22, 2018

A friend asked, “Why do so many people have problems with putting metal detectors in schools?” I’ll just speak for me, here.

I don’t have serious problems with metal detectors at schools, except for one thing: It’s rather security theater, than it is actual security.

I’m all for metal detectors, if we don’t think of it as the end of the safety discussion. But it, or something like it, often is the end of the discussion.

There’s a ton of thought about how to physically prevent guns from getting into the building – okay, sure, that’s a start. BUT it’s not the end, because – remember school? Remember all the ways around the rules and standards, because the place was so big, or because you had friends that would open a side door, or because you knew the gym door didn’t latch right and nobody paid attention, or or or, etc?

There’s not enough done in terms of identifying potentially problem students, and what to do about them. There’s not enough about limiting access to guns, for people with violent histories. There’s not enough early intervention for kids who are lonely, abused, bullied, ostracized, violent.

So sure, let’s put in metal detectors. But we damn well do the other things, too.

Edited to add:

Most of this research—and there have been several dozen peer-reviewed studies—punctures the idea that guns stop violence. In a 2015 study using data from the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University reported that firearm assaults were 6.8 times more common in the states with the most guns versus those with the least. Also in 2015 a combined analysis of 15 different studies found that people who had access to firearms at home were nearly twice as likely to be murdered as people who did not.

… More than 30 peer-reviewed studies, focusing on individuals as well as populations, have been published that confirm what Kellermann’s studies suggested: that guns are associated with an increased risk for violence and homicide.

-Scientific American, “More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows

This artist will make you happy (<– intentional clickbait!)

February 22, 2018

GUYS MY FRIEND MADE A THING! Seriously, go take a look. She’s a talented, award-winning author, artist, fiber artist, AND database administrator.

How can you NOT love this woman?

Go check out here Patreon overview, and the kind of things you can expect at each patreon level.


How to adult: Scratchpad

February 13, 2018

I had a talk with one of my kids last night, and I said that one of the major issues is not knowing how to do all the weird, random, adulty stuff.

“Like what?” my kid said.


“Can you make a list?”

Well, yeah. I can.

So, here it is: Random Things You Must Deal With as an Adult

Income tax

Every year, if you make over a certain amount of money, you have to file your taxes with the federal government. This cutoff amount can change every year, by the way, so check with the IRS or a reputable website. If you’re still living at home/paid for basically by your parents, you’re a dependent: 

“All taxpayers who are claimed as a dependent on someone’s tax return are subject to different IRS filing requirements, regardless of whether they are children or adults. Since a dependent is unable to claim their own exemption, a tax return is necessary when their earned income is more than the standard deduction for a single taxpayer, which in 2017 is $6,350…” – From

So in 2018, you do your “2017 taxes” (you report on the income you made/income tax paid for 2017).  When you’re young, your financial situation is pretty simple, and so you can get away with doing your own taxes and using a 1040EZ (“easy”) form, or a simple software like TurboTax or

As you get older, your financial situation tends to get more complex: you start to have investments, debts, and tax deductions. All of those can affect how much tax you owe, and how complicated your tax return is. I personally like using a service – an accountant, or H&R Block – for doing my taxes. But other people do their own tax returns!

Recommended reading:


An excellent basic plan to stick with is Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps…this is for getting out of debt, sure, but if you start out with no debt, so much the better! You’re ahead of the game:

  • Baby Step 1: $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund
  • Baby Step 2: Use the debt snowball to pay off all your debt but the house
  • Baby Step 3: A fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses
  • Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into retirement
  • Baby Step 5: Start saving for college
  • Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early
  • Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give generously

For financial literacy, read especially, and maybe some It’s never too soon to start savings, and to start saving for retirement. Also to understand the way credit card companies work, and why it’s so vital to avoid payday loans.


Maintaining cars: Cars need gas to run, you know that much. They also need periodic maintenance. While sometimes, you can get away with going a really long time without any maintenance, it’s a bad idea. Lemme show you with just one extreme example:

I had a car that burned oil, actually burned it. Not on purpose. Anyway, I went too long without adding oil, and on the freeway one day the engine seized up – the pistons just STOPPED – and I threw a rod. You don’t get your car back and working again once this happens….you’ve effectively slightly melted your engine block, and it won’t ever run again. Now, are you likely to seize your engine if you don’t do oil changes? Well, after a few thousand miles, yes!

There are other things you’ll need to do, or to have done, to your car, including tire alignment, buying new tires as they wear out, replacing brake lights and headlights, tune-ups, brake work, etc. A lot of that stuff will show up during your regular oil changes, or during your annual auto inspection.

Recommended reading: Lifehacker.

Cars – inspection and registration: You have a car, great. Many states in the union require a state inspection every year or so. It’s pretty simple: type in “auto inspection near me” into Google, take your car there, pay a fee, get a pass/fail report back. If your car fails inspection, the report will tell you WHY the car failed. So you have to get that fixed, and get it inspected again. (Many places will re-inspect your failed car for free!)

Every state requires your car to be registered. Search for “auto registration [your state]” to get information on registering. (Here’s Texas.) Lots of states let you register your car online now, as long as you do it before the deadline! I highly recommend doing it before the deadline, so that you don’t have to schlep in to some random tax office and wait in line forever only to realize that you were supposed to bring your insurance and 3 other things along and and and…anyway.

Cars – getting a ticket: I don’t have a ton to say about getting a ticket. Try not to. Decide before the deadline whether to just pay the fine, or to dispute it. (I’ve never disputed a ticket, but that doesn’t mean much.) Don’t let a ticket go, or they can actually issue a warrant for your arrest. (I’ve never had that either.)

Buying cars: New cars are bullshit, a scam. (Ask me how I know.) If you buy a brand new car, it costs X. If you buy a 1 year old car, it costs X – 25%, give or take. (A 2017 Prius costs 21k right now. A 2018 Prius costs 28k.  ONE YEAR DID NOT ACTUALLY REMOVE 1/4 OF THE CAR’S VALUE.)

So, don’t buy brand new cars. Whatever car you DO have, drive it until it falls apart. There does come a point where it’s more expensive to keep an old busted car, than it is to buy a new-used one. We’ll do that math later.

Don’t have a car? Need one? Can’t do almost new? Bummer, because I have found used beater cars to be somewhat bullshit, too. More on his soon….