Issue 18 - 07/15/19


  • Getting Older, or: Just Coming to Grips With Your Own Stupidity
  • It's More Than What You Bargained for but It's a Little Less Than What You Paid For
  • Dear Sam
  • Cookie Recipe
  • Poem: Unattended Computer
  • Stall Graffiti
  • Plug: Robot Hunting With a Bow and Arrow
  • Office Chart

Getting Older, or: Just Coming to Grips With Your Own Stupidity

Mathlete-level contributor Alex Speed

This is an excerpt from a conversation Matt and I had the other day:

"I ate one piece of this salad and thought it was gross

so im just moving it around on my plate

like when you go out to eat as a child with your parents

and they let you order what you want but with the stipulation that you eat all of it

and as soon as the plate hits the table in front of you you realize the full weight of your adult sized mistake."

It is normal for us to take small, relatively minute instances and apply them to some sort of ideological conglomerate -- like a moral snowball gaining traction through the course of our entire lives. In this case the lesson I'm learning is the significance of making decisions as an adult human being.

Last week I took a solo trip out to Marfa/Big Bend because I'm a drama queen and my life isn't going all that well so I thought it beneficial to run away to the desert for a few days. I didn't book any hotels, I had no plan, and I was "emotionally compromised" eight hours away from anyone I know. Immediately upon getting out of my car I felt the full weight of this specific adult sized mistake except instead of having to eat too much food I had to feed and house myself and focus very intently on not dying to death inside of Big Bend.

This approach to the trip reached both a metaphorical and literal peak my last day in the park. I heard about this very long and rewarding hike called Emory Peak that starts at base camp and goes to the tallest point in the park. I decided that I am an Athlete and an Adventurer so I did what any idiot would do - I barely slept, skipped breakfast, and started what turned out to be an eleven mile hike with less than one liter of water. An hour in I was sure I was going to die, and that feeling pretty much persisted the entire hike.

A few miles in I reached the first peak and a group of older gentleman noticed my eminent dying so they pretended like they had too much water and gave me some of their excess. They were very kind or maybe they didn't even exist and I was having a heat stroke? At the bottom of the summit trail I dropped off my heavy pack so I wouldn't be hindered by useless things like water or sunglasses or my wallet. The final stretch was awful and involved a pretty hey-there-is-no-way-that-this-is-allowed free climb to get to the very top of the peak. At the top I just sat there and stared at the mountains. It's very comforting to confront the unique smallness that comes from being on top of a mountain looking out at miles of mostly beautiful nothing. I felt conflicted by the accomplishment and nausea that came from finishing something you should not have started to begin with. I reflected on the decisions that brought me there: my recent breakup which served as a catalyst for feeling things, a lifetime of choosing to run away to process complex issues, and how dumb it was to wear a sleeveless shirt for a seven hour hike with little to no shade.

The hike down was pretty brutal and I definitely threw up at least once. In the end I didn't die so I celebrated life by eating a burger and driving eight hours back to Fort Worth to see my dog. I guess the conclusion is that life is strange and the even stranger tension to be maintained is trying not to die while also trying to live in a way that allows you to learn and grow and enjoy what is happening all around you. The decisions you make dictate where in this tension your life sits. Also drink more water.

It's More Than What You Bargained for but It's a Little Less Than What You Paid For

Teutonic-level contributor Matt Spradling

Cat Story #1

When I was a kid we had two cats that lived outside, Simon and McGee. They were brothers. McGee was enormous and never really did anything but was the nicest animal ever and would start purring basically whenever you made eye contact with him. I guess that makes more sense now - if a cat is completely food-motivated and you give it 100% of the food it wants then it will be 100% happy all the time. Hmm.

Anyway Simon was also nice but more skittish and liked to hunt but was kind of cross-eyed so it didn't always go super well. He'd do dumb cat stuff like climbing over the fence and then not being able to get back over so we'd have to go get him, 10/10.

So every once in a while he'd kind of disappear for half a day or even a whole day but always turn up somewhere. One time, though, he didn't. Just wasn't there anymore, like savings, or whatever the opposite of anxiety is.

My mom was understandably worried and after about a week took to patrolling the neighborhood yelling for the dumb idiot and using a step-stool to look over into people's backyards which I'm sure was unsettling for many people but hey. After that we took to printing out and posting standard lost-cat signs with his big dumb picture al over the place, which is the only time I've ever had to do that. More time passed, we replaced the printer ink, nothing came of it.

Then one day a neighbor two houses away comes over and, whaddayano, thinks our cat has been inside their house all this time. Turns out they'd left their garage door or something open while construction was going on the dumb idiot went inside and got stuck.

This is actually what happened: try to imagine you're a happy couple in a new house with a baby and a dog. Everything is pretty fine. Then one night you wake up because there's meowing coming over the baby monitor. What do you do? Burn the house down and start again somewhere far away? Maybe. These patriots stuck it out, though. Later when they told the babysitter this spooky story to tell in the dark, the babysitter's response was, "you don't have a cat?" She was incredulous because she had in fact seen said cat walking around on several occasions, eating the dog's food and generally looking skittish.

So we got him back a little thinner and apologized for the smell permeating the neighbor's nursery, and that was pretty much it.

Is this a life lesson about how when things are lost they might still come back? About never giving up hope? About like perseverance or the sprit of exploration or something. Nope. It's a lesson about how your efforts are usually futile and whatever is happening is probably just going to happen until it decides to resolve itself in whatever manner it deems fit, and you might be obliged to intervene, but it will probably end up filed under Futile Efforts and that's just something that happens. /giphy hooray

Cat Story #2

There was a roach in my kitchen the other week. Not like a se7en horrorshow of roaches, just one, it wasn't even that big for one of the big fuckers. My response to seeing this was akin to seeing a child in front of you clearly preparing to vomit: is it abnormal? No. Is it what I was planning on dealing with this evening? Also no.

Background: I dislike roaches. I don't get skeezed out by much but for some reason roaches are on the list. Dunno if it's because they're big, fast, occasionally take to the air in a barely controlled manner, or if I read some article ten years ago that accused them of being remarkably filthy, or all of that combined. Regardless, not a fan. I'm someone who will usually save spiders and take them outside but roaches I wage holy war against.

Then my cat saw the roach.

Background: I have a cat. We thought she would be all nice and affectionate because at the shelter she was nice and affectionate and didn't make me bleed like numerous other candidates, but this was a trick because she is not actually nice and affectionate unless you are giving her food, and even then it's pretty barebones. Actually it's more me petting her as she scarfs food down and her purring because she is scarfing food down and me pretending it is because I am petting her. This is sadder on paper than it is in my head. She'll chill and relax around us occasionally, but it's usually more of an adjacent, proxy-affection than, say, direct snuggling. Sometimes she tries to steal my human food, and I'll say excuse me, please do not, and she'll bite me, which wasn't ideal.

Anyway, my cat attacked the roach, and in a competent way no less. Something clicked in my head as a demand I wasn't aware of was met by a supply I wasn't aware of: I haven't been bribing a cuddle machine in order to provide cuddles more properly, I have been maintaining a pest-killing machine so that in the event of pests I am insured. All was a little more right with the world, and I went to dispose of the almost pitiable roach corpse after Myshka had had her dark way with it.

Then she fucking ate it whole. The roach. Actually she didn't eat it whole, she ate it in three bites, which is worse because 1. This creates the worst crunching sounds you can imagine and 2. The process takes much longer. This last bit is important because when you are reaching down, watching as a war crime and sin against God and Man unfolds very near to your face, each nauseating moment lasts about .5 eternities, so a full 3-4 moments clocks in as lasting ~1.5 - 2 eternities. This is not ideal.

Now there is not merely a pest-killing machine conveniently stocked and charged in my home, but an additional pest-disposal machine. The upside of this is that this a fully automatic process that requires none of my support or even awareness. The downside of this is that my cat does more or less the grossest thing I can imagine and I have to treat her with less affection and more professional respect.

There are lessons to be learned here about expectations, flexibility, and possibly acceptance, but I don't want to focus on lessons, I want to focus on my feelings.

Cat Story #3

Pathos is actually kind of everything. You know pathos: of ethos-logos-and- fame, it's basically the emotional element in the rhetorical equation. All these parts intermingle and overlap and aren't necessarily as simple as we made it in when analyzing the "I Have a Dream" speech in 10th grade, but it's still simple enough to think about that way. It always gets made out to be the bad guy a little bit, somehow insincere or manipulative. We like to think that we don't fall for sob-stories and that we're logic-based rather than emotion-based, but that's a futile and misguided attempt to ignore a core element of our humanity.

Pathos doesn't have to be overt - it's also when you're scrolling through tumblr or twitter posts and some are formatted as like "I NEED EVERYONE TO (whatever)" and it's ostensibly about whatever issue they're trying to address but inextricably linked to their presence as the author. You'd think that's ethos of the author but part of the point is that the author is often basically anonymous and vague and pliable and therefore we apply onto them whatever ideas we have about whatever the community or collective is and how they feel and how it feels to be in the room with them and how they feel it is acceptable to feel and suddenly it's all feeling.

It's not delusional or irrational or necessarily unhealthy, it's just human. Here are two stories about how people changed their minds about hot-button issues just after talking with and getting to know somebody affected by said issue, and how sharing stories and experiences work to remove stigmas. When we think of ideas, we attach them to the people that we know, and they exist in the context of our community and not The Other. It's like how when we drink coffee and/or sugar in the morning we also need to have eaten something substantial for it all to attach to or else it just sends us into a coma because we're not grounded and actually I know nothing about nutrition or health or food. Yesterday I asked what a carb is and only because it is essential for my job and strangers' health depends on me. And maybe if I got to know these strangers then I wouldn't resent them for making me learn what a carb is.

I think the more important concept is exigence. This is basically the purpose or the occasion or the meaning of a communication. What are you trying to accomplish when you say this thing or write that blog post or post that caption on instagram? I found a long time ago that just by asking this question before doing anything, you realize the answer is usually either nothing or something self-centered, and so it can keep you from doing anything. Sometimes this feels healthy and controlled and sometimes it feels unhealthy and hyper-attentive and paranoid.

That's a topic for a different article, but this is something I wrote about the newsletter a long time ago that I think still feels true: It occurs tome that i really have no idea how to make this the newsletter that it nominally is. I'm not a reporter and i don't think i care to be. I certainly don't think anyone needs me to be. Am i doing this to fulfill a need? I think it started aggressively casually. I wanted to create. Why does it have to be public though? I hate posting on social media. It feels like a disappointing relapse of an addiction I never actually experienced in the first place. I felt stifled and stale and I had an idea so I acted on it and now there's something where before there was nothing. It's mostly profanity but it's something. And that's kind of cool. I psych myself out of ideas because I don't act on them until they're so big that I am paralyzed by them. Is this just the opposite extreme? Perhaps, but at least I can grow up from here. But what of the news? What is the whole exigence thing? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Ain't that how it always goes. 

Anyway I pet a cat I met when running outside and it was nice. It was orange and seemed pretty happy. 

X Y, Gossip Guy

Dear Sam

IMAX-level contributor Sam Strohmeyer

Dear Sam,

Will landlords charge you a pet deposit fee if your pet is dead and you're Weekend-At-Bernie's-ing it indefinitely?



Dear HandsomeLonelyDirty,

Sounds like you need to worry less about a pet deposit fee and worry more about a ghost deposit fee. Depending on the nature of your pet's demise/how nicely you've been treating its corpse, you could be looking at some serious paranormal destruction.

Apartments tend to charge $$$ for metaphysical damages because ectoplasm is hard to get out of carpet and also that shit is spooky. For this reason I recommend skipping out on the ghost deposit fee all together. Instead, wait till you're about to move out and call an occult cleanup specialist. Call me! That's right, I'm a haunted housekeeper in my spare time! My spare time is 2:24 to 4:50 AM seven days a week and I'll make sure those spectral stains vanish. I charge $120.00 per minute. You're welcome! 

Dear Sam,

How do I stop my dog from eating my chili's leftovers?

Harriet Tubman

Dear Harriet,

Buy him his own meal and bring it home. Why do you think it's called a doggy bag? Problem: solved. 

Dear Sam,

What's the best thing to mix with gin?


I'm Fine

Dear I'm Fine,

My great aunt Marthagor invented my favorite gin cocktail:

Marthagor's Madness

1 part lime juice

1 part vermouth

2 parts gin (pre warmed in a pan over the stove)

37 parts pure grain alcohol

Ol Gor would drink one of those every night while she rocked in her chair on the porch, yelling at the cars that drove past and kicked up dust from the gravel road and irritated her asthma. If she was in a particularly good mood and if none of us kids had run off that day she'd tell us a story about the war. Eventually we memorized all her stories and would act them out while she narrated, taking turns playing the commies she slaughtered with weapons forged of nothing but red clay and bone. Ah, to be young again and also imprisoned on a farm. Enjoy!

Cookie Recipe

Teutonic-level contributor Matt Spradling


For the cookies:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour.

I remember the first time I saw a cookie. 

Overcast skies and dying tree leaves bordered my view of the yard of the house I grew up in from ages four to ten. It was fall. Hence the dying leaves and also the overcast skies, although overcast skies can potentially happen pretty much any time of year. 

But I didn't know that. Not really. I was just a dumb kid back then. Back before. Back when then.

1/2 teaspoon baking powder - I recommend aluminum free.

Just so dumb. Such a dumb.

Far too dumb.

1/8 teaspoon baking soda.

I met my husband in middle school, but neither of us knew it at the time. I was too committed to the game. I didn't have time for love.

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

In high school we had some classes together - classes such as art, Spanish, Serman, French, calculus, pre-calculus, algebra, algebra two, geometry, physics, chemistry, chemistry two, English, psychology, English two, English three, athletics. 

Physical education, English four, choir, band, more athletics, more band, theatre, theatre three, American history, world history, American government, European history, more physical education, romantic literature, art two, microeconomics, home economics, macroeconomics, environmental science, and also more as well.

1/2 cup unsalted butter - (1 stick), at room temperature.

I was so dumb then. 

We were so dumb.

3/4 cup granulated sugar.

When the war started, at first we weren't sure what we were going to do.

2 tablespoons light cream cheese - (1 ounce) (do not use fat free - you will need 1, 8-ounce brick of cream cheese total for the recipe).

The Korean War (in South Korean Korean: 한국전쟁; Hanja: 韓國戰爭; RR: Hanguk Jeonjaeng, "Korean War"; in North Korean Korean: 조국해방전쟁; Hanja: 祖國解放戰爭; MR: Choguk haebang chŏnjaeng, "Fatherland: Liberation War"; 25 June 1950 - 27 July 1953)[41][42][c] was a war between North Korea (with the support of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations, with the principal support from the United States (US)). 

The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea[44][45] following a series of clashes along the border.[46][47]

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

As a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea had been split into two sovereign states in 1948 with the border set at the 38th parallel. A socialist state was established in the north under the communist leadership of Kim Il-sung and a capitalist state in the south under the anti-communist leadership of Syngman Rhee. 

Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent. The conflict escalated into warfare when North Korean military (KPA) forces-supported by the Soviet Union and China-crossed the border and advanced into South Korea on 25 June 1950.[48] 

The United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea[49]to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion.[50][51] Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel.[52]

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest.

After the first two months of war, the ill-equipped and underprepared South Korean Army (ROKA) and the US forces rapidly dispatched to Korea were on the point of defeat, forced back to a small area behind a defensive line known as the Pusan Perimeter. In September 1950, an amphibious UN counter-offensive was launched at Incheon, and cut off many KPA troops in South Korea. Those who escaped envelopment and capture were forced back north. UN forces invaded North Korea in October 1950 and moved rapidly towards the Yalu River-the border with China-but on 19 October 1950, Chinese forces of the People's Volunteer Army (PVA) crossed the Yalu and entered the war.[48] The surprise Chinese intervention triggered a retreat of UN forces back below the 38th Parallel by late December.

1 large egg - at room temperature.

In these and subsequent battles, Seoul changed hands four times, and the last two years of fighting became a war of attrition, with the front line close to the 38th Parallel. 

The war in the air, however, was never a stalemate. North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their communist allies.

For the frosting:

7 ounces light cream cheese, - use the remaining cream cheese that you did not put in the cookies above.

The fighting ended on 27 July 1953, when the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone(DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. However, no peace treaty was ever signed, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict.[53][54] 

In April 2018, the leaders of North and South Korea met at the DMZ[55] and agreed to work towards a treaty to formally end the Korean War.[56] 

And also like MASH.

1-2 teaspoons milk - any kind you like.

When I got the news that he'd kersploded, I didn't eat cookies for a full year. It was just too painful. And also he could not eat cookies either because he had kersploded in his body. 

But not his spirit. 

I knew his spirit was unkersploded.

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

About 100 grams of gunpowder.

1 cup powdered sugar.


Dirt from the country you were born in.



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silp-mat.

Clear a couple dozen square feet of contiguous space on the ground. Avoid carpet.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Form a pentagram using the gunpowder and lavender mixed together.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 full minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and egg, stopping to scrape down the bowl again. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated.

Using your dirt, create ovals which trace the orbit of the inner planets at the current time within the pentagram. It's ok if they run outside the edges of the pentagram but the bulk of them should be contained within.

With a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop the dough by tablespoonfuls and roll into a ball. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. With your fingers, lightly press the cookie balls to a 1/4-inch thickness. If the dough is sticky, dampen your fingers slightly.

Place the fruit within the patterns in whatever arrangement feels best, then light that mother up. Just make it pop. There will be smoke.

Bake the cookies for 9 minutes, until the edges barely begin to brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The fruit should remain cool to the touch but seem significantly heavier.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: In a medium mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes, until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low, beat in 1 teaspoon milk and vanilla extract until combined. With the mixer running gradually add the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 1 full minute. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at at a time, if you desire a thinner frosting consistency.

Spread the frosting over the cookies, then top with fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Consume the fragments of the soul of my dead husband. I need as many people as possible to do this so that his essence may continue. Please do this.

Make extra and share with friends, family, and even coworkers!

His hands were always so warm and strong yet gentle and also really dirty all the time when he'd hold me and it got my shirt all dirty but I never cared because boy I loved hands.

Poem: Unattended Computer

Anonymous Vandal / Circa 2010-2019 / Digital

Stall Graffiti


Anonymous contributor Marthew McFlythew

It was early evening and the rural forests of Oregon were heavy with musty, dank air. The headlights of my little Honda Fit splashed effervescent waves across the dark asphalt ahead. Shades of black and green filled my sight. The road no longer felt safe. Was this the evolution of the river Styx, Siri my Charon? "In 1000 feet, turn left onto Acheron Street."

As I weaved my way back towards home, a sudden figure in the roadway gave me pause. What was this man... no... woman doing here? Her white shorts and orange tank top made striking departures from the earthen chromascape that had previously filled my vision. She shuffled across the yellow line in the roadway, shouting at a bush.

"Git back inside! Git!" she shouted.

Oh dear, her canine has escaped. I rolled my Fit to a stop, headlights casting deep shadows in the wrinkled skin of this elderly being. She took a few more shuffles forward in her house slippers, the bobbing hair of a crackhead slowly bouncing back and forth with each step.

Then, from the dark bushes, bursting forth with the silent rage only such a creature could exhibit, an extraordinarily fluffy white house cat strode at the woman.

"My god!" I exclaimed.

"Git!" the woman hollered, shuffling along behind the cat, waving a stick or her cane (it was unclear) at the small feline. The cat loped back towards the rusted out pick-up truck in the driveway. The woman shuffled along slowly behind.

I pressed on my accelerator and my Fit quietly moved forward. These three lives forever marked by our little encounter in the woods. I'll never forget.


Anonymous contributor W.B. Yeets

Hi yeah long time listener first time caller

What I want to know is why do squirrels think they're so great? 


Why do they just run around all loud and aggressive and as big and bushy as possible like they're trying to get everyone's attention all the time? They're rodents that suck at not getting hit by cars. You see more dead squirrels than any other animal I bet but they're always still so full of themselves. It confuses me is all. 

Maybe it's because they're missing some sort of self-control or humility and that's why they pick fights they can't win and that's why they die all the time. I guess we should be thankful that we have whatever they're missing. Thanks for the warning, squirrel-bros. 

Plug: Robot Hunting With a Bow and Arrow

Simone Giertz makes shitty robots and is generally delightful.

Office Chart

Car Seat Headrest - Destroyed By Hippie Powers

The Beatles - Why Don't We Do It In The Road?

The Stooges - Dirt

Joy Division - New Dawn Fades

T. Rex - Ballrooms Of Mars

The Doors - Touch Me

Thom Yorke - Volk

Elliott Smith - The Biggest Lie

Conor Oberst - Danny Callahan

Car Seat Headrest - Kimochi Warui (When? When? When? When? When? When? When?)

Come back next week for:

Do You Even Witching Hour Bro?

I Don't Poop on the Weekends

The iCloud Backup of Dorian Gray

and more!