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Editor's Note Expectations

Make Your Hand Soap Fart and 5 Other Ways to Amuse Yourself While HandWashing

Step One towards a good handsoap fart is a farting soap bottle. To achieve this, you must violate every rule of obedient consumerism and put REGULAR SoftSoap handsoap into your FOAMING SoftSoap handsoap dispenser. Yes, we know that violates your license and breaks your warranty on the increasingly rare and ever precious name brand dispenser, but do it anyway. The auditory delights are well worth any monetary loss.

Step Two in handsoap farting is proper lathering. Lately, we’ve received innumerable encouragements on the subject of what to lather (answer: everything) without a commensurate amount of attention on how to lather. The proper ratio of soap to water will result in a noisy concert from your hands. The challenge is that the ratio varies based on the size of your hands, the speed at which you rub them together and the synchronization of your motions with the soap/water mixture. The only answer is experimentation, and fortunately, you will have approximately 47,389 opportunities to wash your hands between now and Memorial Day. Start practicing now to win the Hand Soap Farting Olympics at your family’s virtual barbecue.

Step Three is recording the hand soap farts… because if it’s not recorded, it didn’t happen. After years if not decades of denying any fart noises emanating from your body, you must overcome your shyness and turn your bathroom sink into a TikTok set without making it look like you tried very hard, staged your hand towels, or otherwise had a second thought about your efforts. Second thoughts are not authentic, but elaborate audio/video equipment scattered across your bathroom countertop is totally normal. Just remember that it’s the farting noises that count, not the sound design or the OscarTM caliber of your cinematography. Do not be distracted by the wrong kind of excellence.

Obviously, steps four, five and six are related to sharing your hand soap farts, pretending not to care about the social media reaction, and then demonstrating your technique on a larger, live platform like Drinking Live with Kelly Ripa or the later hours of Today, Again With a Drink.

(I’m so grateful that public health officials are way too busy to fret about the amount we are drinking).

Not everyone can win even a local edition of the HandSoap Farting Olympics, but every person disinfecting their fingers and palms can partake in the growing body of HandWashing Amusements… these serious cultural contributions should not be overlooked by critics seeking meaning in perilous times.

Obvious contenders are the early wave of memes and videos matching popular characters and songs to the so-called New Directive. Many people were shocked to learn that a hand-washing directive was needed but apparently a sad majority of humans don’t worry about dirt they can’t see and exit bathrooms without performing any abulations. Those people are pioneers in contagion bingo, and also dead.

To stay both sane and also not dead, we recommend switching out all those tiresome memes, songs and refrains in favor of the following entertainments while handwashing:

  1. WhirlyGiggles. WhirlyGiggles involve closing your eyes and rotating your head in circles while vigorously rubbing your hands with soap and water. Again, your personal speed and preferences may vary, but if you do it right you can achieve the same delightful level of dizziness and fear that none of us will experience on a Whirli-gig at the state fair this summer.
  2. SwordFights. Washing your hands with the elegance of fencing and the dynamic power of imaginary steel swords. Finally, an opportunity to live out all your medieval fantasies with all the pleasures of modern plumbing.
  3. LightSaberLancers. Yep, same as above, but better sound effects.
  4. KnotsBerries. For anyone who has overindulged in either fruit or crafting (and who among us is not guilty of both these diversions). Instead of merely rubbing your fingers and palms together, explore the various ways they knot together.
  5. ChurchSteeplePeople. This is really the only way you’re allowed to have a gathering. It falls just under the limit of 10, and incorporates that innocent chant from earlier ages, “Here’s the church… here’s the steeple… ” In addition to the amusements promised therein, you earn a plenary indulgence.

It is our humble hope that these small entertainments will offer some sense of the minuscule effort it takes to protect everyone from viruses versus the insanely complicated measures required by even a mild case of Covid-19.

Please do participate in any one of these HandWashing Amusements. You might win a prize, but also, you get to live and so do other people, which is the point of all this madness.

Categories
Editor's Note Expectations

Someday, We Might Wear Shoes Again

Recently on Facebook, I posted Alexandra Petri’s excellent fashion advice, which encourages us to dress appropriately for our quarantine meetings, if the meaning of appropriately has been skewered by pandemic cocktails to suddenly require a costume director to live in our closets:

I always put on pants. For video calls, I put on a full tuxedo. It is important to show a minimum of respect to your interlocutor, and that is why I always don full evening dress, a top hat and a set of cuff links, before hopping on to a Zoom conference. If it is a particularly important conference call, I put on a full Prussian army uniform dating back to the time of Frederick the Great, so that my colleagues know that I value them. Respect! That is the word! For work-related socializing, I reserve my ermine robe, chain of office, and a spangled garter.

You Should Be Wearing More Pants
Alexandra Petri
Washington Post,
April 23, 2020

As a friendly grammarian pointed out to me, and my beloved seconded, “wearing ‘more pants’ would mean wearing several pairs at once. I think they mean “wearing pants more often.’ ” And it is true, in normal times, that such a headline would not have slid past the wise copyeditors of the Washington Post. However, since these are not normal times, our beloved humor columnist explores the rigors of our new all-consuming work-from-home life and the requirements of Zoom couture. She concludes her satiric refection:

Oh, are you not as productive, working from home, tending to your house and family and strained nerves, as you feel you ought to be? Well, have you considered dressing for the job you are doing? Have you tried wearing pants? Have you tried wearing another set of pants on top of the first pants? Have you tried putting a kilt on top of that? And then, lastly, a third pair of pants?

Just put on pants. Pants will fix all of this.

Nothing will fix all of this, of course, which is why every third joke during our awkward online staff meetings is a variation on wearing pants, not wearing pants, or wearing a costume to fit a theme day carefully vetted by HR to be neither offensive nor interesting.

In our desperation to pretend that our situation is normal, we report our second-quarter sales results in a tone of scholarly seriousness while simultaneously choosing a Star Wars background that clarifies how desperately we would prefer to be on another planet right now. Preferably one with universal health care, or at least herbal remedies for viruses.

There is a deeper reality at the heart of Petri’s comedy and much of our current cultural casserole. Somehow, “quarantine” and “lockdown” have become synonyms for “projects” and “enrichment” when actually they are much more likely to be closer to “weird” and “unpredictable” since we can’t go anywhere and online retailers constantly inform us that everything we ordered will arrive two weeks late only to deliver it an hour later tied with a bow. We attempt to be productive and at the same time maintain a polite awareness that everyone is typing with one hand tied behind their back and the other swatting a cat off the laptop.

Apparently, some of us have an aversion to admitting that a worldwide pandemic changes us. A central lie we have told ourselves is that if we just keep working and shopping, everything will be ok. Now is the perfect time for crafting and cooking… because you have nothing else to do while you are wrangling children into distance learning appointments, arguing with the cable company about the speed of your internet connection and turning three peppers and one sausage into dinner without the use of a knife because someone in your household decided to soak every kitchen utensil in garlic juice as an antiseptic. Why not also hand sew a few dozen masks and finish that quilling project you started twelve years ago?

Actually, always is the perfect time for crafting and cooking if you have materials and food or money. Now is the perfect time for whatever you want. Likely, you want to live, so you’re staying home except for exercise and errands. Even more likely, it feels weird to be home so much and it sucks not to see people you’re used to seeing daily or weekly or just randomly at the supermarket.

You may need someone to talk to who doesn’t live with you and has no idea that you’ve spent the last eight hours playing Toon Blast because you’re determined to be the family champion of a smartphone app. You may just want a game of Uno played with people who show you their cards because it’s the fun of the game and not the final outcome that matters instead of treating it like the SuperBowl of card games.

More likely, you crave the structure of your former life and the security of your work shoes. Reliable daily footwear built for commuting, conferences, and conversation sends a message of normalcy that can’t be achieved with slippers, sandals or flip-flops.

That day will come again.

Until then, moisturize, hydrate, wear a mask, and wash your hands.

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Editor's Note

A Complicated Life

It’s a tough thing to be brilliant when the world wants to silence you. Yet Dr. Mildred Jefferson persisted, seeking what she believed was her right, an education, and offering others the blessings she had received. Far too little has been written about her, but I suspect that will change over time as people continue to seek new heroines and different narratives. Those future researchers may start at with a collection of her papers at Harvard.

We don’t usually notice the irony that we celebrate Presidents Day during Black History Month while avoiding uncomfortable conversations about how many of our early presidents owed their wealth to slave labor. We also can’t assume that every African American is a descendant of slaves. But it’s hard not to notice that Dr. Jefferson shares her name with one of our most complicated presidents.

I’m intrigued by her life as both a minister and a doctor and look forward to learning more. For now, I’ll start with these oral histories.

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Editor's Note

In Trump’s Jaded Capital, Marie Yovanovitch’s Uncynical Outrage in the Impeachment Hearings | The New Yorker

Susan Glasser on the former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie (Masha) Yovanovitch’s testimony in the Trump impeachment hearings.
— Read on www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/in-trumps-jaded-capital-marie-yovanovitchs-uncynical-outrage

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Editor's Note

StoryCorps: He Traded Single Life To Be Foster ‘Pop’ To More Than 50 Kids : NPR

Roberto and I are foster parents to a young woman who came to us at age 17 and has chosen to stay in our home. Youth in transition to adulthood need caring, loving adults in their lives. Ninety percent of what we do as foster parents to a teenager is just showing up, supporting her choices and listening.

This story might inspire you to become a mentor or foster parent. It might also make you grateful for your own family and more understanding of those who have to build families of choice.

StoryCorps: He Traded Single Life To Be Foster ‘Pop’ To More Than 50 Kids : NPR
— Read on www.npr.org/2019/10/18/770985354/he-traded-single-life-to-be-foster-pop-to-more-than-50-kids

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Editor's Note

A long ride through memories…

One summer, I rode the Rock Island line downtown to the La Salle Street station. I took photography classes at Columbia College and loved wandering the streets of Chicago.

This isn’t the first time I have taken the Blue Line to O’Hare, either. Today it will be challenging since there were mechanical delays… but that’s part of the adventure of public transportation.

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Editor's Note

US Open 2019: Naomi Osaka warms hearts by consoling Coco Gauff – BBC Sport

Defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka wins hearts all over again when she consoles teenager Coco Gauff after beating her in the third round.
— Read on www.bbc.com/sport/tennis/49539902

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Editor's Note

GUEST POST: Walking With Naomi | Lent Devo 2019, Holy Week

I’m always honored to participate in a Lenten reflection series, and particularly this year when I was invited to write this post.

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Editor's Note

Betty Ballantine, who helped popularize modern paperback, dies at 99 – The Washington Post

Who -hasn’t- read a Ballantine or Penguin paperback? I never knew the whole story behind the publisher who brought us “Fahrenheit 451.”

An immigrant from Britain, Betty Ballantine and her husband expanded the market for science fiction and other genres through such blockbusters as “The Hobbit” and “Fahrenheit 451.”
— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/betty-ballantine-who-helped-popularize-modern-paperback-dies-at-99/2019/02/14/8ef456cc-2fdf-11e9-8ad3-9a5b113ecd3c_story.html

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Editor's Note

Me and Lindsey Vonn on a Mountaintop

I learned to ski in Are, Sweden where Lindsey Vonn won the bronze medal in the world championship downhill, the final race of her skiing career this weekend. She’s tenacious, and I admire her determination and all out performance.

There were no crowds cheering me on as I tumbled down that mountain for the first time. My Swedish guides knew I’d been cross country skiing but seemed unaware that there are no mountains in Illinois. They chose a nice, high, wide mountain with a scenic view to help me remember what they considered the basics. Alas! I’d forgotten how to snowplow. Teaching me how not to fall took the entire afternoon (which is rather short during February that close to the North Pole). But like Lindsay, I kept getting up and was back out on the slopes the next day. After a couple of days on safer trails, I was able to keep up with my friends. Persistence wins, every time!

— Read more about Lindsay here: www.espn.com/olympics/skiing/story/_/id/25964844/lindsey-vonn-wins-bronze-medal-final-race-skiing-career