Wisdom Teeth are Not Your Friend

(Click to zoom)

(Click to zoom)

Thankfully, I am. Which is why I bring you a rant that’s certain to cheer up any post-surgery teen.

(Warning: Laughing soon after wisdom teeth surgery is painful, and could lead to dry sockets. As I understand them, dry sockets are pretty much worse than the surgery.

Luckily I avoided them—using one easy tip discovered by a local stay-at-home mom that doctors HATE—but they supposedly feel like a throbbing pain, similar to the recovery of being shot in the mouth. Of course, I’ve never been shot in the mouth—I avoid that using one crazy trick discovered by a local stay-at-home dad that surgeons HATE—but since you’re probably too zonked out on pain meds to come up with any similes for your pain, I did it for you. You’re welcome).

Now, wisdom teeth surgery is not a fun surgery to have. Things that should not mix include: power tools and mouths, blades and mouths, pliers and mouths, others people’s fingers and mouths, power blades and mouths, other people’s pliers and mouths, and power tools and other people’s fingers. Depending on your surgeon’s expertise, you may experience them all.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been writing a column for the local paper, and that is where most of this piece appears. I will, however, leave you with a teaser:

“Some things are just badly named. Airplane schedules, for example, implies that your flight is following a timetable and might possibly leave on time. WikiLeaks sounds more like a crowd-sourced, friendly volunteer plumbing organization than a classified information publisher….”

Finally, I’d love to offer you that one weird old trick (discovered by a local stay-at-home house that doctors HATE) to avoid getting this surgery, but there isn’t one. Sorry. Now, what are you waiting for? Read the rest of this column.

3 Disturbing Trends of Summer Homework

A funny pic about summer homeworkFor those of you unaware, there is such a thing as homework over the summer. I doubt that’s news to you. Even if you didn’t get any, I’m sure your peers did, and, if your peers are anything like my peers—which they should be, since I’m using peers informally to mean “the teenage population of the entire world”—you heard about it via social media.

Perhaps it was a status update that said, “Too weak to pick up this novel, even tho the main character is also named Derek. Somebody pls jump start my motivation,” or a tweet reading, “Ugh reports to do, but there’s sun. #CanYouSpellSummerYeah! #summer #sumer #summar #NoSrslyHowDoYouSpellSummer. Btw just hooked up jumper cables and shocked Derek into motivation. I think. #orHesInAComa”; either way, I’m sure your friends made it all too clear.

See, summer homework is perhaps the silliest type of homework, mostly because of its name, “summer homework,” which implies that it’s homework you’ll do over the summer. As anyone who has summer homework can tell you, that’s simply not true.

Most summer homework is completed on the last day of school, before you melt into a summer blob of sleep and food and it becomes too much effort to even open both eyes at once, or in the wee hours of the morning before the first day of school, when it is also very hard to keep both eyes open at once.

Now, my fellow peers, this used to be fine. After all, you know what they say: “It’s all fun and games when someone loses an eye.” Used to be fine, that is. But there have been some very disturbing trends in the field of summer homework.

Technology

We all know technology is great; without it we wouldn’t be able to do things like text friends, Facebook message friends, tweet friends, Instagram friends, maps friends, iBooks friends, Safari friends, or socialize using of any of the other phone apps you may have.

The problem with technology arises when teachers get their hands on it. History has shown us countless examples of why this is terrible for students:

  • June 28th, 1914: Ms. Smith, on vacation in Bosnia, accidentally confuses her new camera with a bystander’s pistol, and, trying to get a “good shot” of the parade to take back to her history class and lecture about primary source documents, accidentally shoots Archduke Franz Ferdinand, plunging the world into war. This war will later become the focus of thousands of future homework assignments.

  • December 3rd, 1997: Mr. Phillips, trying to connect his “Ethernet” to the “Internet” using a “Butterflynet,” catches fire from the electrical charge. He stops, drops, and rolls down the hall, trailing flames and catching the beautiful wood lockers on fire, causing $400,000 in damages. The FDA, reacting to the damages, requires that schools now use ugly metal lockers, ignoring the fact that they often jam, pinch fingers, or dent.

  • December 31st, 1999: Scared that Y2K bug might pester her students during upcoming midterms, Mrs. Johnson covers her classroom in concentrated DEET, creating a need for her students to take midterms in gas masks and rubber gloves.

  • April 14th, 2002: Mr. Arnolds learns about educational DVDs, and never teaches or gives a lecture again. In an attempt to avoid death by boredom, his students start playing “fantasy backdrops,” tracking and placing bets on the appearances of specific bookshelves, books, and plants that appear behind the interviewees.

  • February 17th, 2012: Although she has the flu, Mrs. Davidson has her unprepared students present anyways, grading from the back via FaceTime.

Maybe you found those examples funny, but I can tell you that I certainly didn’t. I’m not exaggerating here—there’s a teacher who’s reading this, right now, and thinking “Huh, I need to go to the store and pick me up some DVDs and FaceTime, whatever aisle they keep that in.”

Actually, the problem is that most teachers know how to use technology, including FaceTime. And this is ruinous to the normal completion of summer homework. Nowadays, you can’t just wait until summer is over to do your homework; thanks to the internet, teachers can make you do it by whenever they say.

History essay? Email it in by August 1st. English discussion? Use an online forum that closes two weeks before school starts. Group biology report? If he wanted to, your teacher could literally get on Google docs and follow your cursor, making comments like “can you type any faster?!?!” or “missed a comma there, and there, and there, and three of them there, and one at the bottom, and two in that sentence, and one in the sentence you used the wrong ‘its’ in.” I would not be surprised if, sometime in the next few years, your teacher starts hologramming himself into your bedroom at 5 AM, shouting at you to “wake up, chop chop, you’ve slept long enough; you’ve got a 600 page novel I’d like read before you eat breakfast.”

Amount

Unfortunately, not only has summer homework slowly gained stricter deadlines, but it also has grown in quantity.

Four years ago, only the toughest AP classes (of which, if you’ve been following this blog for a long time, AP History of the Cheerio is one) carried summer work. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear about homework being assigned for study halls. Okay, actually, that’s still uncommon, but you know what I mean.

Where do you think the phrase “at least it’s not rocket science” came from? Rocket science was the only class with summer homework.

And, as it creeps ever closer to world domination, summer homework is assigned at younger and younger grades. Lend me your ears, peers, because the day incoming seventh graders have to write a 100-word essay about what they’re looking forward to about junior high school (for which there is only one word, “nothing,” because junior high is brutal) will be a dark day for our society.

Social Acceptance

Back in the booming 50’s, nothing was acceptable. Communism? No way. Music that’s faster than five beats per minute? Let me show you the door. Someone wearing a fedora with suspenders and crocs? It was legal to shoot them. So, you can imagine, summer homework was unheard of.

Even in the early 2000s, you could tell someone you had summer homework and they’d reply, “Homework? In the summer? That’s ridiculous! You know what I mean? Ludicrous! You get me? This is nonsensical! Understand? Outrageous! Hear me? That’s preposterous! It’s ludicrously preposterous! Know what I’m saying? It’s outrageously ridiculous! I’m outraged! I’m raging out! I cannot believe it.”

Nowadays, tell an adult you’ve got summer homework and they’ll just say, “Yeah, so? What else is new? Wait—don’t tell me, I want to guess. Next you’re going to complain about having that teacher/hologram wake you up at 5 AM every morning. Deal with it, kid. Consider yourself lucky. Back in my day we didn’t have holograms. Heck, we didn’t even have 5 AM.”

And this is why, just like fast music and fedora/suspenders/crocs combos, summer homework will slowly permeate all parts of our society.

But should we care? Summer homework isn’t nearly as bad as regular homework, which doesn’t even get a specific name because there’d be too many to keep track of (fall homework, winter homework, weekly homework, daily homework, due-six-months-later-just-to-keep-you-up-at-night homework, etc).

I say we should. Because when summer falls to homework, you’ll have to spring just to winter through it.

Yes, I’m back. I am so sorry to have left you post-less for two months. Stay tuned; an explanation is coming, and also a—well, you’ll just have to keep your eye on the blog.

In the meantime, you probably noticed Google’s feed reader shut down, and if you still haven’t replaced it and wanted to (so you can stay updated using this blog’s RSS feed), I recommend Feedly. If you think RSS stands for Really Scary Spiders, then just ignore that previous sentence. And don’t look up, just back away slowly.

How To Painlessly Transition Back into School Mode

A picture of someone rolling dice. Summer’s almost over. Or, depending on where you are, it is over. In that case, think of it this way: summer hasn’t started yet.

That means a number of things, such as the fact that you will have to go back to school, the stores near you will start trying to entice you to buy $567.99 mechanical pencils (that’s for a pack of 2, by the way, not 1, so it’s actually a great deal) by marking them down 15%, and your life will slowly get bleaker until your vision becomes black and white.

Since I have no control over the last two of those things, I’m going to deal with the first one. I have no control over that, either, of course, but this is supposed to be a clever, reasonable transition, and not some random tangent about how I have absolutely no control over your life.

(I also have no direct control over some of my vital organs, like my heart, liver, or intestine, which sort of scares me, although I guess that means I don’t have to worry about them revolting against me or anything like that.)

Anyways, let’s talk about the first thing in that list: going back to school.

For the past three months, you’ve been sleeping in, been eating whenever you feel like it, been going to the bathroom whenever you want, and been enjoying the freedom to eat while falling asleep in the bathroom. That’s all about to change, drastically.

School is about to run your life. Your mental condition, your physical condition, and your schedule will all be centered on this school thing. Thankfully, school is also unable to control your liver, intestine, or heart. They will remain independent democracies, autocracies, or organocracies (government by the organs, for the organs).

The Sleep Schedule

You’re about to go from more than enough sleep to so little sleep you’ll find that blinking twice right before you get to school will double your sleep time.

Obviously, you can’t just jump into a schedule like this cold turkey. I don’t even think turkeys can jump, especially if they are cold.

No, you need to prepare yourself. However, you can’t just decrease your sleep amount. That’s because you’d still be getting quality, relaxing, uninterrupted sleep.

What you need to do is to wake up a number of times each night, pretending to be totally freaked out about something school-related.

So, for your first day of transitioning-training, you could wake up at 4:00 AM and pretend to worry about your poetry analysis for English class. Increase the number of times and importance of the things you wake up worrying about until, for the few days right before school starts, you end up with a schedule like this (obviously, of course, your projects/worries will still be fictional, as school won’t have started yet. They should, however, be realistic, to best prepare yourself):

1:00 AM: Go to sleep.

1:05 AM: Wake up wondering if you remembered to email your group your video about the life cycle of a bean plant.

1:06 AM: Worry that your bean plant container might have fallen over in a gust of wind during the night.

1:07 AM: Worry about the SAT as a general, hazy horror. Eventually fall back to sleep.

1:11 AM: Awaken worrying specifically about the vocabulary section of the SAT.

1:12 AM: Stress over the fact that your bean plant assignment is due tomorrow.

1:14 AM: Wonder if you remembered to email your bean plant video to your group members.

1:15 AM: Fall back to sleep.

1:32 AM: Wake up worrying that some obscure part of the bean plant’s biology will be a word on the vocabulary section of the SAT.

1:33 AM: Wonder if you remembered to email your group members your video about the SAT vocabulary section.

1:34 AM: Stress out because you realize you are so tired and overworked that you were worrying about emailing your group a video about the SAT instead of a video about bean plants.

1:35 AM: Did you email the bean plant video? What if your group members were already asleep?

1:37 AM: Or, what if your SAT vocabulary score is a negative number?

1:38 AM: Worry that colleges will find out about your probably-failed bean plant project and probably-achieved negative SAT score and never accept you, at any college.

1:40 AM: Fall back to sleep.

2:01 AM: Wake up after hearing a noise in the night. Oh god, what if it was your bean plant container blowing over? Or colleges dropping preemptive rejection letters on your doorstep through an air-drop? Or your angry group members trying to break in and punish you for forgetting to email that video?

2:03 AM: Fall asleep, hiding under the sheets.

(Repeat until about 6:00 AM).

The Food Schedule

This is slightly easier to transition into, because schools know that while you can survive up to nine months with minimal breaks on blinks, you can’t make it nine months without food.

Therefore, you really just need to get used to only eating at lunchtime. This sounds easy, but it is still a challenge. After all, you must cut out your after breakfast snack, your early morning snack, your mid-morning snack, your dessert for your mid-morning snack, your late morning snack, your last snack before you really eat lunch, and the bites you nibble while making lunch.

Easy ways to avoid constant snacking include occupying yourself with other things, such as your hunger; keeping your mind off food, by doing something like reading a recipe book; and drinking lots of water to fill your stomach. However, you probably shouldn’t drink too much water, because of something called:

The Bathroom Schedule

Bathrooms are also one of those things schools figure that you really need to make it until next summer. However, they limit the time you can go to the bathroom, which is vastly different from your summer schedule.

Over the summer, since you can use the bathroom whenever you want, you might use it once or twice a month*. During school, though, because you are only allowed to use it at certain times, you feel a slight need to use it at least every other break, just in case, leading to 4,558 trips to the bathroom a day.

*This is a gross exaggeration; do not try to only use the bathroom once or twice a month. However, it is not a gross gross exaggeration. That would be something like “you only go to the bathroom once or twice a month for 6 hours at a time, nonstop, as everything leaves your body faster than a skydiver leaving a plane with a bad song playing on it’s stereo.”

To adequately prepare yourself, you should roll a die twice right after you wake up in the morning (at 6:00 AM, after a terrible night’s sleep). You’ll have time to do it when you’d normally be eating your early morning snack. Then, take the two numbers and place them next to each other.

So, if you rolled a 3 and a 5, this means you must limit yourself to using the bathroom during times of :35, like 9:35. If you roll one 6, make it the second number. If you roll two sixes, that’s just too bad. Looks like your bathrooms are fictionally out of order for the entire day.

Looking back at these things, you might want to laugh. Waking up and pretending to worry? Not eating your 6 vital morning snacks? Rolling dice to see when you can use the bathroom?

You can laugh, but there’s really no reason to. After all, school starts soon. And these actions are as small as your brain when compared the large changes that school will bring. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go negotiate with my heart and intestine for another eight months of mutual cooperation.

Last year at this time we covered the terror known as athletic clearance with “Are You Athletically Cleared?” If you are alive, and are not bleeding, throwing up, or getting married right now, I strongly suggest you read it.

Also, I’ve got a few questions for you guys as we head back into the school year (feel free to reply in the comments or by emailing us):

1) Would you rather see a long post 1-2 times a week, or a shorter post 2-3 times a week? If shorter, how short?

2) Can you see the pictures that accompany the posts? I received a note from one reader that they were having trouble doing so, and I’d hate it for you to be missing out. If you are having troubles, email me and we can try to work it out. (There’s no need for this if you can see the pictures, just if you’re having a problem).

Family Road Trips are Not Your Friend

20120811-000305.jpgI’m going to make a rash generalization and say that you’ve probably been on one road trip in your life. 

However, I have no idea how long this trip was. It could have been an hour’s drive to the beach, a twelve hour drive south, or a 4 year drive to some close-by star.  Regardless, this will apply to you.

At this point, you’re probably either thinking “Yes. I HATE road trips, with my seven siblings and four parakeets in the back seat of the smartcar and the baking temperatures that follow,” or “How can you say this? I love spending quality time with my brother’s back smushed against my legs and a parakeet on each ear.”

If you’re in the latter group, let me say that I am not saying road trips are 100% bad. That would be a generalization, and I don’t make generalizations on this blog. 

There are a few good aspects to road trips. For example, you don’t have to go through airport security and get turned into a cancerous tumor by the radiation scanning machines. They can be cost effective as well. Plus, if you have any pets, it’s much easier to drive than to fly. 

All I’m saying, though, is that there are some pretty awful/annoying/irritating/oh-god-why-me parts to road trips.

The Departure

The nice thing about road trips is that you can leave whenever you are ready. In a family, though, that is a terrible thing. 

For the sake of this example, let’s say that you live in the average family, meaning you’ve got a mom, a dad, and 2.13 siblings. 

Your family has just finished, after 18 hours, packing and cramming everything into the car. As you are all about to leave, sibling 1, probably a teen girl, decides that she needs to use the bathroom “one last time.” She returns quickly, though, and it appears you are going to leave immediately.

That is, until sibling 2, probably a younger boy, decides that using the bathroom sounds like a terrific idea. So, he goes off to the bathroom. At this point, your mom realizes she forgot to get drinks for the road, so she gets out and goes to the fridge. Of course, while rooting around, she finds that the leftovers from a leftovers night five years ago are still in the fridge, and have rotted and spilled.

Obviously, as you are leaving for a road trip is the ideal time to clean this up. Meanwhile, sibling 2 returns from the bathroom. Because of the peer-pressure and apparent delays, your .13 sibling, probably a fetus-y thing, imaginary friend, or stuffed animal, goes to the bathroom. 

For some reason, your dad suddenly decides that “since everyone is still going to the bathroom and cleaning up,” now is a prime time to mow the lawn for the fifth time that day (‘don’t want it to get too long while we’re away’).

Because sibling .13 and both your parents are out of the car, you figure that you might as well take a quick stretch. Your timing is terrible, however, for just as you leave the car your mom returns, sees you leaving, and decides that since only two people are left in the car, she has time to make a twelve course picnic lunch. After all, it’s almost lunch time at this point anyways. 

Your dad finishes mowing the lawn, eventually, but he feels that he needs to thus repack the car to make room for the picnic lunch. During this time, sibling 1 leaves to ‘refresh’ her hair, which takes twenty minutes. She returns to the pandemonium of you, sibling 2, and your father frantically searching for sibling .13, who got lost during the repacking. After a bit, sibling 2 hears a banging coming from the trunk, and, well, you find sibling .13.

Your mom comes back with the picnic lunch, and you’re all finally really about to leave. 

But then sibling 1 decides that they need to use the bathroom again, since it’s been so many hours, and it starts again. Depending on your family, you may not end up leaving until the next day.

For reference and perspective, that is the scenario disregarding things such as pets, neighbors who ‘just came over to say hi’ for 3 hours, and GPS programming.

The Driving

The first and last parts of a road trip are always exciting. The 1 to 89,473 hours in between, though, are not.

Sure, you’ll have your smartphone, PSP, Nintendo, or palm pilot, but we all know you’ve an attention span of 40 minutes, max. After that, you will slowly slide into what I believe is medically referred to as “road-trip induced loopiness.”

You will take a number of actions that show just how crazy the boredom has made you.

First, you might try to play cards with your siblings, something you’d only do if, well, you were on a road trip. This is because, as you discover, sibling 1 doesn’t know how to play, sibling 2 is cheating, and sibling .13 is slowly eating/absorbing the cards into it’s plasma or mouth-like apparatus.

After you’ve scratched that, you might try to read. This is another crazy idea. You are going to be reading of your own free will. There’s nothing wrong with that at home, but in a place where you could be seen? Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, even though you’re three states west of home you could be seen by a Facebook friend of a Twitter follower. Then your reputation would be ruined.

Also, reading, as you very well know, can cause motion sickness. You probably ignored this fact because of how bored you were, thinking that motion sickness is no worse than boredom. 

Hopefully, you are still sane enough to stop reading before you hurl your mom’s twelve course gourmet picnic lunch*, but if you’re not, well…You know how if you see someone yawn, you usually yawn? It works that way for vomit, too, and you’ve got 4.13 other people crammed in the same car.

*although one of the courses was the leftover leftovers from five years ago.

Regardless of what you choose to do, you will be cramped. Your legs hate this, and will take revenge on you by freezing up and refusing to move again until you endure what’s known as pins and needles. Pins and needles is a very aptly named sort of pain. For short drives, you endure this only once, but for long drives, you have to suffer through it multiple times, because of:

The Stops

Sadly, you will make stops during your trip. Stops are very bad for two reasons: they prolong your trip, and you have to un-cramp and re-cramp your body. 

One of the fun things about family road trips is that at every stop, people will want to use the bathroom. This ranges from ten to fifty minutes. And yes, that’s including stop signs. That’s why the freeway was invented.

Another fun part about the stops is that they are almost guaranteed to bring in more stuff to further cramp the car. Whether it’s shopping at outlets, food containers, or illegally trafficked exotic snakes, your seat will become more and more crowded.

After what seems like years, you will hopefully reach your destination. You can finally enjoy yourself and un-cramp your legs (if you’re really stuck, try the car jack).

However, don’t enjoy yourself too much. After all, you’re only halfway done with the road trip part; you still have to drive back. Which is even worse, because your legs often go into shock from anticipated trauma and your car is now five times more cramped. But hey, at least you didn’t bring your .93 pet.