Ponytails are killing me

So I have a couple upcoming posts with a little greater gravity than this one (and quite a few with less). But this problem is driving me seriously nuts.

Typical fail #28: What is this stupid gap doing here again?

Until 2 years ago I had never tried to tie a ponytail. In fact I have actively avoided gaining such knowledge. As a guy, being proficient at such things are a sure fire way to be continuously ridiculed when hanging out with other guys.

On the flip side of that, I knew the day was coming when I would have to learn how to tie a ponytail. Having two daughters, I have a trump card for any ponytail knowledge ridicule, leaving my heckling drinking friends with merely a few hundred other things to harass me about.

  • My (former) cat ownership.IMAGE_050
  • My propensity for breaking bones and tearing joints (hence my college nickname Crip, short for Cripple of course).

    Hospital
    How to become a Preferred hospital stay member
  • That time I…(insert Walsh drinking story here).

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    I just figured out how to solve the refugee crisis! Better have another beer, just to be sure.

But no, there was to be no laughing at me because I knew how to tie a ponytail. For the record, this is hereby acknowledged to be strict guy logic, straight from caveman times (it’s an age old problem).

Now whomever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is, well, full of crap. I love learning new stuff. But women’s hair pieces are killing me, and it sucks.

One may be led to believe the ponytail is a simple thing:

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Witness the scrunchie, a thing of evil. Lo, scrunchie, I hatest thou.
  1. Pull back hair
  2. Apply scrunchie
  3. Twist scrunchie and reapply
  4. Repeat 2 more times

But for me it is more like this:

  1. Pull back hair
  2. Misapply scrunchie
  3. Repeat step one until all hair is through scrunchie
  4. Twist scrunchie and misapply
  5. Remember mindfulness, meditate for 3 seconds
  6. Fix misapplied scrunchie by misapplying scrunchie
  7. Throw defective scrunchie into garbage, back to step 1
  8. Etc., etc.

I know I am not the first guy to run across this problem. In fact, Time magazine posted a brilliant video of a guy performing this tricky procedure with a vacuum cleaner:

“Don’t worry, you won’t go bald.”

Unfortunately I am not from Oklahoma (no offense), and the the kids are not fearless enough to try to pull this off. But it got me thinking that there must be a better way.

So I am going to work on an invention to overcome this challenge, because after two years of totally sucking at this, it is time for a win! Here is a sketch of my invention:

 

Artist’s rendition

 

As you can see, it is brilliant in its simplicity, and its use of my daughter’s free coloring app.

At this point you may ask if this is not a little overboard. Well, three points I would call out:

  1. I searched everywhere on the web (Amazon.com representing everywhere) and it appears no one is selling anything to help hapless ponytail boobs like me with this parenting quagmire.
  2. Time Magazine posted an article on this, showing the tremendous gravity of the issue amongst fathers all over the world.
  3. I am unemployed.

I will post on this again when my first prototype is ready.

Until then, venture capitalists are welcome to get in on the action. I am looking to raise $27 for a prototype and coffee (i.e. my wages).

If you have any other issues like this you would like me to investigate, please post a comment and I will launch an exploratory investigation into fixing your dilemma. Just don’t be surprised if on occasion I provide the standard Bluto Blutarsky solution from the movie Animal House: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

More to come…

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TEDx and My Experiment With Social Media Abstinance

In early April, I attended the 2016 TEDx Copenhagen event. I have had a little trouble articulating what the TED experience was, but I can say the friends I attended with and I all agree it was:

  1. Not what we had expected;
  2. A very worthwhile experience; and
  3. Something we would gladly attend again next year.

The ten speakers were all highly accomplished, passionate, and fascinating individusls, and covered a very wide range of topics. Amongst them:

A half kilo of crickets to go, please.
  •  Why we should eat more bugs, as population growth and environmental concerns preclude the production of an adequate meat.
  • How we can use jazz as inspiration for overcoming adversity, by turning the essence of what was otherwise a potential failure into the baseline for a new solution.

If this is a typical TED event, the range of topics may well catch you off guard, even after seeing the agenda. It’s not like going online, where several talks may be consolidated and tightly wound around a similar theme. Be prepared to have your horizons stretched.

But the unique and deep expertise of the speakers in often opaque fields makes it an experience that is difficult to forget. It’s hard to not be captivated by the passion and interest of speakers who are trying to better the world, even if only on a local scale.

Beyond a bizarre interpretive dance number about human sexuality (I can appreciate the artist angle, but damn if interpretive dance is just not my thing), a few topics really stood out.

  • Having worked for Maersk, Angela Oguntala’s talk about drawing inspiration from the culture and needs of developing countries was a good reminder of the value of keeping an open mind when spotting the next big thing. Read more: Angela Oguntala
  • Thomas Jam Pedersen’s talk on Thorium as a safe alternative to standard nuclear technology was both uplifting and at the same time a somewhat bewildering, “what could have been,” story. The technology was abandoned in the 60’s before it was fully vetted. Read more: Copenhagen Atomics
  • And Lis Zacho’s presentation on teaching kids to learn how to code apps, rather than just to consume content on the web, was fascinating and uplifting. If a 10 year old can do it, I want to build an app too. Read more: Coding Pirates

But for me, the most influential was Meik Wiking’s discussion on how happiness can be quantified and how social media can actually cause depression, a very intriguing topic that initially I didn’t buy into. I was wrong.

 

The report on the effects of too much happy Facebooking.

The premise is that depression and suicide rates are linked to one’s well being relative to the well being of others. And as Facebook typically portrays a distortedly blissful view of how great our lives are (yeah, guilty), our views of our own quality of life suffers as we read the blissful postings if others.

No analysis was made of the effects of Janteloven/Jantelagen on what one posts and misery caused to others, but I suspect the theory holds. Some people are just more equal than others, even in Scandinavia.

It’s not that any one post or our own awareness of the issue creates the problem. Rather it is the continual exposure and the net behavioral impact. Read a great article about it from The New Yorker here.

So at the speaker’s suggestion, my friend and I gave up Facebook for a week as a social experiment in happiness and mindfulness. As a pretty strong contributor to the FB community, I questioned the value. But there was an impact.

Not long after I made the decision, I had a slight sense of relief. I reached out with a few more messages to friends than I had in some time. The goal after all was never to disconnect from people, but to do it in a different way. And though it was tempting to check in on what people were doing, pulling back from FB didn’t make me feel worse. But what it did do was get me to consider having more meaningful interactions than simply reading and liking, and reconsider the content that I post. I know I will check it less frequently.

The Facebook post to avoid: “Just went to the dentist! It was so awesome!! :)”

So I would call it a successful micro-level test showing how exposure to happiness leads to unhappiness.

As an interesting corollary, posting failures can bring happiness as you and others reach out for support. Phew! Good thing I have my share of those!

And to my Facebook friends, you people are sick… Get miserable will you?!

This is of course just a small anecdote of what attending a TED event draws out. Unlike on the web, you will be exposed to a lot of fascinating people and ideas, and will be drawn to action if you are willing.

Which is why it’s going to be fun to go again next year.

See you on Facebook. 🙂

When in Rome…

I am not a Dane. But I take my kids to school IN a bike that looks like a wheelbarrow/bike thingy.

Christiania

I am not a Swede. But I greatly enjoy shots of hard alcohol to go with my raw fish.

CurrySildx

My jeans are not baggy and I don’t own any khakis. The majority of my shirts are full button down with collars or are t-shirts with meaningless numbers on them. They are all white, or shades of black, grey, brown, or dark blue.

I eat a lot of salad.

Somewhere over the last 10 years of Scandinavian living, and as a derivative of being married to a Swede, I have Scandi-fied, a condition a few of my Facebook friends have recently pointed out.

If you talked to me, you would know immediately I am not a native, and would probably be able to place me as an American. But if you saw me on the street or casually out on the town, I have started to become somewhat indistinguishable from the locals.

I suppose it is not surprising that one’s tastes and mannerisms transform over time, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how or when I started to develop into the two Jason’s: the one that lives in Copenhagen and the one that lives in the U.S.

In order to document this phenomenon, I have culled my rather robust volume of Facebook postings for signs of Scandification, in an effort to better understand just how un-American certain elements of my life have appeared. I have only looked at the last 6 months, but that was enough. Waaay more than enough (this may be a recurring topic… I have years of inane content to cull from).

I hope you enjoy my list. I support your occasional support and harassment of my lifestyle choices in the comments. Cheers!

Scandifying Exhibit A: Meat and mayonnaise

HotDog

Who on Earth puts curried mayo on a hot dog? I do. And it is delicious. But if you go to a US sporting event or a 4th of July bbq and ask for some curried mayonnaise to put on your hot dog, they will assume you are a weirdo or have lived/come from a different country/planet. Guilty as charged, on both counts.

Scandifying Exhibit B: Physically Unattended Sleeping Babies

BabyGym

This one still baffles me. When did I get comfortable leaving a sleeping child amongst strangers and out of eyesight? I have a baby monitor so I can hear everything and be there in 10 seconds, but still… I am pretty sure people get arrested for this kind of behavior in the US: Police Called on Swedish Mom Who Left Baby Outside Restaurant

Scandifying Exhibit C: Participating in Sports that are Distinctly Marginal in the US

CrossCountry

OK, this one I am actually very proud of. For the most part, I have always participated in non-standard sports. Among my top participation sports are skiing, cycling, athletics, and soccer (football if you must). I can now add telemark and cross country skiing to that list. Not to say that I wouldn’t have tried these sports while living in the US, but I wouldn’t have tried these sports while living in the US.

Scandifying Exhibit D: Eating Marinated, Raw Fish

CurrySild

Scandinavians love raw herring for special occasions.

A special occasion can be created at any moment in Scandinavia by serving raw herring.

And if you are serving raw herring, you certainly need a shot to go with it, don’t you?

Now this one took me a while to appreciate, but… Herring and snaps are amongst my favorite of Scandinavian cuisine. The first time I saw it I was nervous. I would not be surprised if I thought I was about to eat some surströmming. This, thankfully, is not surströmming. Click on the below video to learn more about THAT mess…

Nasty

I’m not entirely sure how I grew to appreciate marinated and pickled raw fish with a shot chaser, but I am glad I did. If you are looking to enjoy a holiday meal, herring and snaps are pretty much the best thing on Earth.

Scandifying Exhibit E: Singing on Television

Television

For a country of roughly 9 million people, the Swedes turn out a lot of popular music. I’m told a lot of this is a byproduct of the school system, which significantly helps kids develop their talents to one day follow in the footsteps of Abba. Well, one can hope minus the body suits…

Abba

I have noticed that this love of music also translates into extensive programming that involves a lot of singing. And I don’t mean just American Idol style programming. There are contests, game shows, talk shows, you name it, that revolve in part or entirely around singing. I have been exposed to many of these programs.

And I am now at the point where I would though never watch American Idol, I look forward to the Swedish programming. Not every day mind you, but there is something to it which for the life of me I cannot explain. Whenever we are out at the farm and it’s after dinner and there’s some whisky, wine or beer still lying around along with some peanuts, it’ll make you really feel at home.

So have I become Scandinavian? HAHA! No, certainly not. But holy moly these are not normal American behaviors. And these examples are a just few culled from the last 6 months of Facebook posts. I will hunt for some more in a few blog posts from now, but now I have to run. “Så ska det Låta” is on TV.

Singing