Afternoon InquisitionRandom Asides

AI: It’s Just Another Day

Some days are fantastic! Like just recently when I was at ArealGirls’s super secret desert compound and I totally caught a crazy looking spider-monster bug in a glass bowl and photographed it and then sent the photos to Bug Girl and I was like, “WTF is this scary-ass bug?” and she was like, “Cool, it is a wind scorpion (solpugid) Amy!” And I was like, “No way! AWESOME!” and it was in Wind Scorpionthe bowl and was all, “Grrr chomp chomp, I want to bite you but I’m in a glass bowl and can’t get you!” So then I was like, “You are creepy but super-cool!” And then I let it go and watched it run real fast off into the desert to look for dinner and to tell the other scorpions about the giants that tried to capture it and I was super-stoked and then I went inside and toasted the gals in the compound with margaritas. We raised our glasses in the air and said proudly, “Entomology and desert-critters FTW!” That was a good day! But then…

But then there are days where you go to the Science building at The Huntington Gardens where they have all kinds of super cool first edition copies of books like, Origin of Species and a super bad-ass display about the origins of humankind’s understanding of medicine, astronomy and physics and you spend the whole day there and take ALL kinds of REALLY rad photos and you go to upload them to your computer and the program crashes right at the moment when you were deleting the photos from the camera and you LOSE ALL the photos because none of them saved to iPhoto and then your pet hamster gets sick and you drop your peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the floor and hamster hair gets stuck in the peanut butter and there wasn’t anything else to eat in the cupcakeapartment and your mother calls to tell you that need to get your crap out of her attic but you have nowhere to put it and then the internet calls to tell you that your boobs are ruining skepticism or at the very least causing earthquakes in Iran and you can’t do anything about that either because no one believes you that you were wearing a loose-fitting turtleneck that day because it was cold and besides you hadn’t done laundry in a week so all your good science and skepticism ruining clothes were dirty so you sit on the floor and cry a single tear in frustration and you pet your hopefully-recovering hamster while picking hair out of your dinner and you take a long deep breath.

Then you count the change that was supposed to be for laundry and you pick yourself up and you go buy a single vanilla cupcake with sprinkles. And you realize it’s ok, because these things happen. It’s just another day.

What do you do when life gets you down? Do you scream and yell, go for a run or cry? Do you have a secret happy pick-me-up? Do hamsters make good pets?

*No hamsters or scorpions were actually harmed in the writing of this post.

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. When my day gets tough I try to becoming the first poster on the afternoon’s inquisition. See, I’m happy already. Unfortunately, I did have to kill a hamster in order to respond as quickly as I did.

  2. Hamsters can be good pets, Amy, per my daughter that used to have one. However, they do not make good musical instruments when played with hammers.

  3. @halincoh: Hahaha! Poor hamster.

    I am very rarely down. But when I am blue, I like to remind myself how, relatively speaking, I’ve lived a charmed existence so far. Sure, I’ve been hurt and I’ve been blue, but at then end of the day I have wonderful family and friends, I’m in love with my best friend, got a (leaky)roof over my head and I live in one of the most amazing places on Earth.
    To quote Kurt Vonnegut’s uncle: “If this isn’t nice, what is?”.
    I was already in a nice mood today and now it’s even nicer!

  4. (Totally, off-topic, but perhaps helpful)

    About your iPhoto problem: When iPhoto crashes after copying photos from a camera, but before writing the updated database to the disk, the photos are not visible inside iPhoto. However, they are still stored on your disk.

    What you need to do is go to your Pictures folder, right-click on iPhoto Library, select “Show Package Contents” from the context menu. Your photos may be in there somewhere, without iPhoto knowing about them. You could search for “.jpg” in there and see whether you find files with the correct date, or browse through the folders (some people claim “Modified” is a good candidate). Don’t move anything in there around, though.

    Option 2, if that doesn’t work: Hold down Cmd and Alt while starting iPhoto. It’ll show a dialog box that has an option called “Recover orphaned photos in the iPhoto Library folder”. Click that and click “Rebuild”. Your long-lost photos may appear.

    If that doesn’t help, you can also try running a file recovery application on your memory card.

  5. When I’m feeling down – and that’s happened a lot lately – I grab my guitar and start channeling the spirits of everyone from Robert Johnson to Stevie Ray Vaughn. It’s kind of cliche, I suppose, but there’s something about letting it all out through music that I think is almost inherent in the human condition.

    It may not be skeptical or rational, but it works for me.

    And I’ve never had a hamster.

  6. My daughter had a couple of hamsters and we enjoyed them greatly. They like living alone and really enjoyed being picked up, held or put in a pocket, and having a clear plastic hamster ball for them to run around in is very amusing.

    When life gets you down…, good movie, drink, golf, sex, cook/eat, walk, sleep, book store; depends on why your down I suppose.

  7. I flip through my ipod while making a frowny face until that very perfect song comes on and then I dance around with the puppies. Hound dog ears flopping in the breeze makes everything better. Or I take a nap. Sometimes I’m just cranky because I don’t let myself sleep since I have shit to do.

  8. Have you seen the sun spider? Someone just showed me a picture of one the other day-
    Freaking scariest things on the planet.

    In other news- well being a depressive and cynic not too much ups my mood when I’m down but I love my cats- they usually cheer me up! Also if it’s really bad a glass of wine helps- oh and chocolate! Moreover, wasting hundreds of mindless hours on the web or messing around in Second Life helps.

    Hamsters generally don’t make good pets- they like to bite. Also don’t get two-they usually don’t get along. I’ve (sad to say) worked in a pet store and learned that actually rats make better pets than hamsters but most people don’t know it. Rats don’t bite as much as hamsters and you can have two that will not try to kill each other (There are always exceptions of course). They are far cheaper too. I’m not a big fan of pets in cages so I don’t have any at the moment (and my cats might try to eat ’em).

  9. @James Fox: Exactly.

    So yesterday I was feeling blue so I watched a good movie and had a few drinks (top quality bourbon) then went golfing after which I cooked a meal for my girlfriend and we ate it then we went for a walk and stopped at the bookstore where we proceeded to have sex in the fantasy section and went to sleep but they don’t like it when you sleep in the fantasy section of the bookstore so we went back to her place and had sex again then went back to sleep but not until we had a few more drinks and watched the hamster in his ball. Ahhhhhh

    The above is a work of fiction.

    Because, I don’t have a girlfriend…

    …or a hamster.

  10. I have a special lens inside my head that focuses all my self loathing into a single point until it burns away the part that cares. Its like pointing a laser at its own power source till it burns out.

  11. A drink with some friends, or maybe just a coffee, so you get a chance to rant. Friends make the day better.

    A good book and a glass of wine. Forget the world, travel somewhere else with a fantasy figure.

    Good food, or a nap.

    If nothing else helps, a phone call to my sister always works.

    Depends on why you are down, and what you need to do to get it out of your body.

  12. As a girl who was born and raised smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran desert (one of the biggest and hottest deserts in the world), this post makes me swoon. ;) I have so many stories about bugs and spiders and lizards and wild donkeys and even rams (with the big horns). I love living in Central Phoenix, but sometimes I miss the wildlife. Thankfully, we get a bit where I work, which is on the West side of the city and near farmland. We have a fat road runner that likes to hang out sometimes. Always makes my day when I see him. :)

    Back on-topic, though. If I’m having a down day, I usually read. Reading makes me happy. I don’t think I would have survived my lonely childhood without books. Or I smoke the sticky, which helps me sleep (sort of … I’m terrible at sleeping). It also helps now that I can’t drink (ulcer). My doc also gave me a small scrip for xanax, because life lately has been super stressful for me, and I’m already a high-strung, anxious sort of person. I love you, xanax.

    I also hang out or talk with my besties, who are awesome and like to give out free backrubs. And they have the CUTEST doggy everrrrr and he never fails to make me happy. “Zeus! Zuber-face! Zubers!” and then he jumps all over me and warms my heart.

    Also, Iearned last Thursday that I kind of love (nice) strip clubs and the girls loooove me. That made me super happy. I actually had a girl come up to me, and say, “You are awesome and our favorite!” and give me a little dance. She super was cute, too.

  13. @CobaltG: Sun spiders and wind scorpions are the same thing. They are also referred to as camel spiders. They are not deadly but will chomp you if you scare them.

  14. Good cure for a bad day? Let’s see: Football training (soccer on the other side of the ash cloud), mix some records until it sounds really wild and new, or simply say: It could be a LOT worse – some kind of applied Murphy’s Law. Don’t laugh, it works for me!

  15. I escape. I read a book, play a computer/video game, watch TV, and hope when I’m done I’ll be less down. It’s also my go to remedy for boredom, stress, ennui, the common cold, hangovers, etc.
    Unfortunately it’s sometimes harmful rather than helpful, but whenever that worries me I just… escape.

  16. I hold several Ursula K. LeGuin novels in reserve. Absolutely nothing can feel bad reading her books. Fortunately she’s been somewhat prolific, because I have a lot of bad days. But I’ve only read The Left Hand of Darkness three times.

    My office mate and I once found a tarantula-like thing in our hotel room while working in Argentina, though. I was too preoccupied with getting it out from under my bed to get pictures, even though I was holding my DSLR. Our end solution was to get it under a glass bowl and shuffle-board it out the door with a broom.

  17. And I must say, volunteering always puts me in a good mood, even if it can sometimes be super stressful and a lot of work. I’m working with an LGBT youth organization right now and the kids are epically awesome. You cannot be in a bad mood around them. Considering most of them are high-risk and a good majority even homeless, their optimism and passion is really, really catchy.

  18. Note to self: when things seem bad make sure you are not standing downwind of a skepchick who has spent all her laundry money on cupcakes.

  19. @k-rex: Hmm. Are they in Arizona? Because my apartment complex is FULL of trees and things, and it’s wetter than most places here in Phoenix, so I see a lot of bugs I’m not used to seeing in the desert, including an occasional huge cockroach that looks an awful lot like those. Yeah, looks like they are all over the US, so no surprise there. They aren’t so bad.

    They are waaaay better than german cockroaches, which my last apartment was INFESTED with. Grossssssss.

    We got the huge, black, flying ones growing up. Those kind of sucked because they flew. No one likes a flying cockroach.

    Those big moths, as big as a hand, sometimes skeev me out, because they tend to get stuck in everything, like printers.

    I also don’t like wasps, which we tend to get a lot. Ouch.

  20. The bad days are when I turn on my xbox and go find innocent Sunnywood hippies and plug their asses full of anal probes, or feed them to my Venus human trap, and blow up buildings, and shoot down helicopters-real hard. Then, after Destroying All Humans, I get sad that God of War is a PS3 baby, and I only have an xbox. If I had that, I’d go find some Medusea and rip their heads off.

  21. I always feel better after doing something off routine, especially if it is something Chicago-y. Like meeting friends for drinks, going to a new restaurant, running errands using only public transportation and my feet, or seeing some theater / improv / music. I so rarely take advantage of where I live because I am too busy trying to catch up on the never ending tasks that keep me stressed out.

  22. For the longest time I didn’t have those pick-me-ups, but lately I’ve pretty much found them. The CFI, IIG, Skeptically Drinking, and related events have begun to provide me with a wealth of caring friends that can take the crappiest week and for a few hours make me feel like one of the luckiest people on the planet.

    So apparently my pick-me-up is surrounding myself with intelligence, humor, and respect in the form of amazing people. It works wonders for me, and the more I do it, the less effect those truly awful days have on me.

  23. Mostly, when I’m upset (either angry or sad), I put on some dark, angry music — usually mclusky — for a bit. And then by the end of the third album’s worth of britpunk, I feel a bit better.

  24. First choice – Nap. But that tends to make the boss grumpy.
    Second choice – Coke. As in cola.
    Third choice – Singing at the top of my lungs, preferably Sir Duke.
    Fourth choice – if I get this far, the only cure is chips and salsa while watching an episode of Mythbusters.

  25. For me, trying to get active and get some sunlight helps. Getting outside among the trees or out in the prairie. Also, listening to fast music, and in an emergency, watching/listening to Kathy Griffin stand-up.

    Now to the interesting part: the bug stories!

    I live in the prairie, just to the north of the southwestern desert, and we get all the interesting animals. We have sun spiders, centipedes, scorpions, horned lizards, rattlesnakes, aggressive hissy bullsnakes, and a bajillion more. I was always the resident snake, lizard, mouse, and bug catcher at work because I was the only one who wasn’t afraid of them.

    The weirdest bug-related thing that happened to me was when we first moved out to the rural area outside of town. My sister and I were sitting in the living room of our new house, and something soft hit the window. I thought it was a bird, but my sister said it looked like a spider. I tried to tell her that spiders don’t fly, and by the way it hit the window, it sounded way to big to be a spider.

    Pretty soon, we heard the soft thump against the window again, and we both looked up. It was a giant dead tarantula being carried by a three-inch-long wasp, which turned out to be a tarantula hawk. I had heard of them before, but I didn’t know we had them in Colorado.

    Also, sun spiders (aka wind scorpions or camel spiders) need to be the new skeptical mascot, because there are tons of urban myths about them.

  26. When I’m down, I spend lots of time surfing the net and commenting on blogs etc.

    The most common reason for being down is that I have a bunch of work which really needs to get done soon.

    Isn’t it a great thing that I’m a skeptic, so my life is ruled by reason?

    P.S. You forgot to anally probe your arachnid. No abduction and return is complete without anal probing.

  27. Solpugids are awesome… I spent a few years in the Mojave, and caught a couple of them every now and then and kept them for a few days or so. – Everyone should definitely watch them hunt/eat sometime. amazing critters, they can grab bugs (I’m assuming other things as well, but I haven’t witnessed it…) with those front two appendages (the ones they hold up in the air when they run around), and then they just completely mangle the critter with those massive jaw-pincer-thingies. cockroaches, moths, crane flies, it would catch, mangle, kill, and eat (at least partially) pretty much anything I could find. And they are fast as hell. I second the bit about making them the skeptical mascot, as everyone near where I was in the desert called them ‘vinegaroos’ (I imagine they meant vinegaroon, (whip scorpions?), which they aren’t), and claimed that if they bit/stung/looked at you funny, you would be unable to taste anything but vinegar for a day/week/the rest of your life. So, despite this all being incredibly false, I met several people who swore up and down that it personally happened to them (and got quite offended when I suggested that maybe they misunderstood or confused it with another critter…)

    oh, and I tend to be fond of ethanol…

  28. @ryk: We used to poke them with sticks to piss them off. What do you do when you’re a kid and bored in the middle of the desert? Piss off scorpions for entertainment.

  29. Wow, I cannot believe it took me this long to muster up the courage to comment on Skepchick. [waves]

    To answer the question: Book shopping spree on Amazon.

  30. @Kristin C.: [waves back] I’m a former lurker, too.

    Kindle + chocolate + warm dog = happy place

  31. When I have a bad day I remind myself that, no matter what’s happening, it can’t EVER be worse than this (WARNING – EXTREMELY graphic photos here

    For those who looked and scrolled down Yes, those were my breasts.

    For those who didn’t look, I lost both my breasts to necrosis over two years ago. So the days my Mom calls or my dog gets sick or my kid gets arrested for dealing, I have a good cry and remind myself that I’ve already been through Hell and this? THIS is just a bad day.

    Tomorrow will be better.

  32. @FledgelingSkeptic: I can’t imagine going through something so horrible. I’m happy you survived, and were brave enough to post those pictures.

    I will admit up front, I have struggled with depression my whole life. I go through cycles of ups and down. Still, I get better at coping, and as time goes on my ups and downs aren’t as severe.
    I am in a down phase right now, and it’s sometimes really hard to see the good right in front of you, but at least now I know it’s there. Drawing helps, a nice long bubble bath with a good book (and a little inhaled substance) and possibly a beer is something I try to do once a week at least to relax. Awareness, perspective, and humor help. I have become more open about talking about my depression and am less afraid to ask for help when I need it. I have a small army of AMAZING people around me who are wonderful supports and who check up on me and cheer me up when I need it.
    But when I have had a really truly bad day, nothing beats loading up GTA and running people over. There’s something so cathartic about mowing down pixelated people with a car (or a bus, or a garbage truck, or a machine gun).

  33. I also ride my bike weather permitting, play with the cats (or get them really high on catnip and then play with them), or get into the sunshine if we have any.
    You’re right about working with other people and trying to make their lives better. I want to find a way to help others, I think I’ve been too wrapped up in my own head for too long. Depression can suck the life out of the world, and the world can shrink to the size of your room.

  34. This post reminds me of Mark Twain’s book about Christian Science. From the first paragraph of the book: “That sentence is Germanic, and shows that I am acquiring that sort of mastery of the art and spirit of the language which enables a man to travel all day in one sentence without changing cars.”

  35. As for what cheers me up, homemade pizza, video games, and a ridiculously expensive craft beer, like that bottle of Old Rasputin XII Imperial Stout I paid $20 for yesterday.

  36. @marilove: I just sorta assumed the hissing cockroaches were confined to Madagascar, but they could have gone wild.

    Up here in Cave Creek, I sometimes see Palo Verde borers, those giant beetles that show up during the summer. They are so big that you can hear their little feet go click-click-click on the pavement. Creepy, but apparently harmless. But they kind of look like the hissing roaches.

    I’d be pretty grossed out by flying roaches. That’s hardcore.

  37. @k-rex: I always forget you’re in AZ. We seriously need to have an AZ meetup. I’m up in that area all the time (Cave Creek). In fact, I was just at the Candy Store which isn’t too far ;)

  38. @madfishmonger: Just find a cuase you really believe in, and do it. You’d be amazed at how much it can help. I was having a really, really rough week the other week, and ended up going to the LGBT youth group night, and it made a huge difference. And like I said, it’s really hard to feel down about your life when you’re surrounded by at-risk youth, many of whom are homeless, who are totally optimistic and full of energy.

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