New app ranks family members to help you plan family gatherings

Are you exhausted from trying to schedule your family gatherings? Do you often regret planning events that only your least favorite family members attend? Studies show you’re not alone. Gallo Research Institute estimates up to 130% of families experience deep distress around the holidays, mostly due to scheduling snafus.

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Thanks to a new app ToodleDoodle that is partnering with scheduling app Doodle and task management app Toodledo, families can now seamlessly plan their holiday gatherings. Family members can not only enter their available times, but ToodleDoodle uses advanced algorithms that allow the organizers to choose gathering times based on the availability of family members weighted by their importance. That way, families with the most cute grandkids get top priority, and single family members over age 25 with bad cooking skills will not skew the scheduling toward undesirables.

Look out for the 2020 version, ToodleDoodlenmo. This app will synchronize with your Venmo account so that family members can enter how much they were planning to spend on each other. The app will then just redistribute the money accordingly. For example, if Uncle Joe was going to buy you a $20 gift, you were going to buy Aunt Diane a $10 gift, and Aunt Diane was going to buy both of you a $5 gift, then Aunt Diane pays $0, you pay $0, and Uncle Joe gives you $5 and Aunt Diane $10. We think? That’s what the advanced algorithms are for! The point is, pesky gift shopping will be a thing of the past.

Download today!

Are you unequally faceboked?

It is with great heaviness of heart I report a recent phenomenon scouring the Christian community: couples who are unequally faceboked.  You know who I’m referring to – she publicly proclaims her love for her boo every Birthday, anniversary, and father’s day, but he hasn’t logged onto facebook for 17 months. Or his profile picture features their wedding photo, but hers still features her face and the shoulder of a high school boyfriend.

Many couples struggle with mismatched facebook activity. It can create a discordance that ripples into their actual lives. Many men report feeling “extreme sorrow” that their girlfriends or wives cannot appreciate a witty meme they have shared because they’re so disconnected from the online community. One man complained, “I put my heart and soul into a meme, and she just asked ‘who’s that blonde woman yelling at that cat? Is she an ex-girlfriend you’re still pining for?!'”

Women have also expressed frustration when they continually post pictures of their boo with hearts and kiss-face emojis, and their husbands or boyfriends do not even bother to like their post. “I just feel so humiliated. My friends have noticed he never likes our couple pictures. Many have asked if he’s a hired model, or if our relationship is on the rocks,” confided one woman.

If you’re already married and unequally faceboked, the Galloblog staff recommend seeking emergency counseling. If you are in a dating relationship,  we strongly encourage you to sit down with your significant other and cast a vision for facebook compatibility. “Communicating concrete expectations is key,” says Dr. C Gallo. It’s not insurmountable if you’re unequally faceboked, but it is a sign of a major problem in your relationship. Dr. Gallo added, “There’s no shame in getting help- sync your activity now for a brighter future.”

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^an evenly faceboked couple beams as they peruse their home page. ❤

Report: Dating couple “thrilled” about relentless hints about marriage over the holidays

-ATLANTA

Local couple Rebecca and Max have both always loved the holidays, but this year is more special than ever. Over Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, the couple has encountered dozens of extended family members hinting darkly about nuptials.

“It’s exhilarating to be grilled about the future of your relationship in front of your entire family and significant other while you’re trying to relax,” Rebecca gushed. She explained that dating years are like dog years. Having been with Max for longer than 6 months, they are seen as life partners.

“Rebecca usually flies through the men so fast, her relationship with Max has whipped us all into a frenzy,” Rebecca’s Aunt Jean explained. “Not only did we see Max at Easter, he’s still here at Thanksgiving. It’s cute how they seem to have a Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn thing going on.”

Max mentioned he enjoys reminders about the length of his and Rebecca’s relationship paired with expert advice on how quickly to progress the relationship. “I honestly didn’t know how long Rebecca and I had been dating, until my cousin reminded me. It was such a blessing to hear what the appropriate stage of commitment Rebecca and I should be at right now.”

Rebecca especially enjoys the educational conferences from family members and friends about her biological limitations. “I have a PhD in neuroscience, but I guess we never covered human reproduction in relation to aging. Who knew I had such little time left!” Rebecca marveled.

Max and Rebecca both confirmed neither of them had even considered the future of their relationship before their familyies brought up so many good points. “I never really thought of Rebecca as wife material,” Max explained. “But after all these these distant family members told me where our relationship should be, I guess I’m headed to the ring shop.” Rebecca chimed in “That is so incredibly romantic, babe! We can’t waste these eggs, now can we?”

What’s Rebecca’s and Max’s Christmas wish? “That all dating couples had families and friends that were so helpful and informative as ours!”

Feliz Navidad! 😉

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Are women untouchable goddesses or helpless victims?

Women, can we come to a consensus about how we’re choosing to brand ourselves? Even as a woman, I’m confused about how women want me to see women. Are we untouchable goddesses, or helpless victims?

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On one hand, we have an uber feminist narrative that makes loud and brash claims about female superiority and independence. We have songs like Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” saying

I’m that bad type
Make your mama sad type
Make your girlfriend mad tight
Might seduce your dad type
I’m the bad guy, duh

You said she’s scared of me?
I mean, I don’t see what she sees
But maybe it’s ’cause I’m wearing your cologne

Apparently hearing about an underage girl (she was 17 when she wrote about seducing dads.. eeks!) being a sadistic ho-ho to men and women alike makes Cosmo girls feel totes empowered.

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Then there’s Lizzo, also a rising star in female empowerment,  who says

Yeah, I got boy problems, that’s the human in me | Bling bling, then I solve ’em, that’s the goddess in me

Well now I feel foolish. This whole time I thought solving one’s relationship problems was just a normal part of being a grown up.  Then Cardi B has an entire shtick around being as crass and arrogant as male rappers

I need to let all these hoes know | That none of they niggas is safe

So as a woman, I’m supposed to be empowered by hearing a very rich, famous, beautiful woman brag about stealing my man? Or am I supposed to internalize the arrogance and steal the men of women less beautiful than me? Hmmm. I hope my nieces model their lives after this one! Moving on from the music industry, there are several new female action heroes (e.g. Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, the female 007, etc.) being praised for showing that women are kick-booty (literally)! According to this narrative, women are rough, tough, powerful, and just completely superior in every way to the buffooned males we occasionally allow to pleasure us.

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On the other hand, we have another manifestation of feminism that wants women to be a protected class. In ironic contrast to the paragraph above, apparently it is sexist to ask women to meet the same physical requirements as men to enter the military.  So women can do everything that men can do! … but with a large caveat – *if* you lower the bar for what men can do. There is also a strain of the #metoo movement * that is telling us even imbalanced power dynamics between a man and woman completely vindicate her of any responsibility in a sexual relationship. If a woman is approached by her boss or some other male in power, she is suddenly rendered completely defenseless and actually compelled to be subservient to his every desire. An adult woman suddenly has the mental, emotional, and moral reasoning of an 8 year old. So now women are delicate fleurs that wilt in submission before any man who has a smidge of power. Thus, they need to be protected like children.

… What?????

Women need to stop making idiotic, obviously-false claims of goddessery, but women also need to stop telling other women how powerless they are. The former makes women sound like delusional psychopaths, and the latter is derogatory and disempowering to members of our own sex. It’s not victim-blaming to point out that women are responsible agents in their own life – it’s offering hope to a younger generation entering the workforce.

Women don’t need to paint our entire sex in one broad brush stroke so that we can push what we want to be true about ourselves at a given moment in time. Want to feel better after you get dumped? You’re a goddess. Want to feel like you didn’t have any choice but to allow your creeper boss to feel you up? Now you’re a victim.

We don’t need to squash mankind with a wave of female superiority, but we don’t need to hide** from them either. We don’t need to take on the worst attributes traditionally attributed to men (lack of empathy, exploitation, etc.), and we definitely don’t need to take on the worst attributes traditionally attributed to women enslaved in the sex industry (powerlessness, dependence).

Let’s be kind. Let’s be mature and responsible. Let’s protect other women when we can, but let’s also give younger women a reason to hope for better. Let’s respect the majority of men who are not predators, and stand up to predatory men. Let’s examine whether we are intimidated or offended by men’s success and accomplishments. (If you are, that’s an ego problem of your own that needs working on.) Let’s celebrate and cheer-on men and women.

Some women are incredibly strong, but none of us are goddesses. Some women are incredibly vulnerable, but that doesn’t make all women victims.  Whether or not a woman is strong or vulnerable is not simply an inevitable virtue of being a woman. Women are individuals who happen to be women. That’s it.

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— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*I’m not anti-#metoo in general, but I find this particular idea that the #metoo movement has propagated particularly problematic. You know what was a good sentence because I used 3 “P” words in a row – BOOM!

**The first time I wrote this, I accidentally wrote “we don’t need to hike from [men] either.” TRY TO CATCH US NOW MEN, WE’RE UP ON AN EFFIN MOUNTAIN! Lolz.

This article was expertly edited by the infamous Dania Vititoe, a contributing writer to Galloblog and sister of C Gallo. 

Do you suffer from delusions of petiteur?

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My very first “about something” post for little Galloblog was titled “Dismounting the activism high horse.” I wrote about how I had stopped feeling the need to use my social media accounts to change the world. I recommended shifting the focus from grandiose goals for world change (“I’m going to combat world hunger!”) to realistic goals for changing your immediate surroundings (“I’m going to bring dinner to a struggling family I heard about from a mutual friend”).

I still agree with that post, to a certain degree. But I also wonder if I’ve gone too far in the other direction. Should I ignore the ills of the world? Can I really do nothing positive to help people that aren’t in my immediate circle? Mais non! Consider the following brilliant points:

One, there is a circularity to this thinking. My former conviction to focus on those around me has also fostered a callousness and indifference to The World. I know I can’t stop poverty or racism or men wearing crop-tops, so I don’t let myself think or learn about those social ills. I hate knowing about a problem and not being able to fix it. I’ve convinced myself I can’t fix it, so I ignore it. But of course my astute readers can see the circularity here – we ignore problems so they persist, they persist so we ignore them. 

Two, occasionally one person or a handful of people actually do something that is good. Women and men did come together and advocate for women’s right to vote in the United States, and now women can vote. That didn’t solve all inequality and sexism out there, but it was a good thing. Something that was worth knowing about and fighting for.

Three, sometimes even meager improvements – in relation to the grand scale of the problem – are very impactful to certain individuals. Chemotherapy didn’t cure cancer, and many people still die from cancer. But the development of chemotherapy as cancer treatment has allowed some people with cancer to live much longer than they would without. Does more still need to be done? Of course. But chemotherapy was worth working on.

Finally, sometimes you have to do the best you can with what you know, all the while knowing that you are also going to introduce some new or different bad in your attempt to bring about good. The medical community has made great progress in treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, so now we’re much more likely to die from horrible chronic diseases. Still, I’m extremely happy that dying from diarrhea is no longer a major threat to our society.

Some big issues are worth caring about and working toward. And maybe different people are more prone to and qualified for working toward different scales of change – whether that be at the macro (world hunger!), mezzo (hungry children in my congressional district!), micro (one hungry family in my neighborhood!).. nano (hungry rats in my attic?!) level. But I doubt anyone’s off the hook.. so shake off your delusions of petiteur and do something grande. 😉

*awkwardly remounts the horse*

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Women- put away your n*ps

Recently I conducted a fairly routine bout of social media stalking in which I casually browse through the profiles of acquaintances and harshly judge their life decisions. During the course of this healthy and completely non-invasive practice, I came across the profile of a girl I used to know. As I clicked through her public posts and pics like a social media ninja, I was distraught to see several close-up pics of her n*ps.

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To be fair, there was always a baby very close or attached to said n*ps. Apparently these up-close-and-way-too-personal pics were her way of advocating for breast-feeding and not being shamed for being a woman. Here’s the thing, fellas and gals –

  1. You can breastfeed all the day long, and never post a picture of it. It’s truly not necessary. If you’re super into public advocacy, just post information about how healthy the practice is. Done.
  2. Just because you hide something or keep something private doesn’t mean that you’re “ashamed.” I’m not ashamed of peeing in a toilet, but I don’t take a selfie of myself grinning over a pot with all my bits showing just to prove a point.
  3.  People’s discomfort with your nekkidness IS your problem. Whether or not bosoms should or should not be a sexual thing is another subject for another day. But the reality is, they are. So when you nonchalantly get upper-body-nekkid to feed your child, you are basically inviting everyone within sight to leer at your assets. Hell, I can’t help but stare just because it makes me uncomfortable. Yes. I, a young single straight woman, am made wildly uncomfortable by your n*ps.
  4.  Women and men are ABSOLUTELY allowed to tell you what to do with your body – when it violates their rights as they work and do public activities. Men shouldn’t be ashamed of their members, but I don’t want them whipping them out and waving them around as they use them for any part of their natural, beautiful, awe-inspiring, healthy function. In fact, I believe we call men who do this “flashers,” arrest them, and put them on sexual predator lists if they even urinate too close to an elementary school or playground. So I don’t give a hoot if breastfeeding is natural, beautiful, awe-inspiring, or healthy. I still don’t want to see it, and I have a right to work or play in public without seeing your n*ps.

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So please, moms… throw a blanket over them. That’s all I ask. Namaste.

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— EDITORIAL NOTES —

I mainly used n*ps to hopefully cut down on people hunting for tatas on the interwebs to find themselves reading this blog. Not really my targeted audience, know what I mean green beans?

Header photo by Raychan on Unsplash.

Nothing in Christianity makes sense except in the light of relationship

Let me begin this post with a profound quote-*

Nothing in Christianity makes sense except in the light of relationship.

-C Gallo, 2019

The relational aspect of Christianity is the overarching story that ties all the aspects of the Christian faith together. If you try to understand any piece of Christianity without it, you will have misguided ideas of how Christian theology should be applied to your own life. Your faith will be stunted.

Maybe this was obvious to every other Christian, but for me it was a game-changer. I don’t want to overstate my own knowledge, but I have a good grasp of Christian theology. I understand the big stuff – the trinity, the fall of mankind, redemption, etc. I even enjoy getting into the weeds of more nuanced theology like eschatology** and predestination. But often, the more I pander to my brain the more my heart checks out. My faith shrivels.

How or why does the relationship aspect of Christianity matter to me?

Relationship gives life to my faith

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Christianity as a religion is boring, oppressive, and constraining. It is often harmful and can be used to exploit people. Christianity as a religion will not help you better yourself (for long). It will not give you warm fuzzies (for long). Christianity in terms of relationship, though…! The wildest but perhaps most important claim of Christianity that we claim to actually know – have a relationship with a spiritual being. THE spiritual being. It isn’t a neat and tidy abstract idea, and it’s not a flawless system of logic. It is [or should be] crazy and scary and exciting.

Relationship affects how I think about oppositions to my faith

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I sometimes encounter people who insist on badgering me about my faith. All of them look triumphant if I don’t have an instant answer to any of their misgivings about Christianity. They express dismay at my lack of open-mindedness and refusal to be in a perpetual mode of discovery. I will tell them something like “I’m not sure how to answer that, but this doesn’t necessitate me abandoning my faith ,” or “I’m really not in a place to effectively research every opposition or issue you’ve brought to my attention.” Some have implicated that they pity me a weak-minded, brain-washed child who won’t (or can’t) contemplate all the mysteries of my faith on a flip of a dime.

If they were challenging the conclusions of my last published research article, they would be perfectly justified in this attitude. Scientists should always be open to new discoveries and be the harshest, most vigilant critics of their own theories and data. But Christianity is more than a theory or data points. It’s a relationship. It grows. It involves experiences that build on each other. At some point, a trust is formed. Those experiences and that trust transforms the way you think about all new data.

For example, I have been dating someone for about a year.*** When we first started dating, if someone had come up and told me “I have good evidence that your new guy is a major flake and you really can’t trust him to do what he says,” I would have taken their words seriously. I would have launched an investigation into whether or not that was true. I would have considered halting all romantic activities until I settled whether or not I could trust him.

Now that we’ve been together for a while, however, it would be crazy for me to take them seriously. I wouldn’t waste time reevaluating every interaction my boyfriend and I had in the past year. I wouldn’t ask for us to take a break while I investigated. I wouldn’t even ask him about it. I simply know that they are wrong. Even if the person who told me that believed strongly in their statement, I would conclude that they misinterpreted his actions in the past. It’s not that I’m brainwashed or in denial of any potential flaws, but we have experiences together. At some point, a trust was formed.  I have seen him in bad moods and good moods, around his parents and around his friends, extremely sleep-deprived and well-rested, very relaxed and under an enormous amount of pressure. During all of this, everything he’s told me he would do- he’s done. Every event he’s told me he would come to- he’s been there. So it’s not that I’m stupid or blind, it’s that we are in a relationship. And the relationship itself has changed how I view any new information or perceptions any one else might have about him.

Just the same, I’m not going to approach all objections to God in a purely objective or abstract way. I can’t. That does not – I repeat, does NOT – make me a brainwashed buffoon.

Relationship affects how you think about being good

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This is probably one of the most misunderstood features of Christianity – the “good deeds” issue. It’s widely recognized that Christians should, in theory at least, be good people. Yet a major tenant of Christianity is that humans are already so deep in the pit of imperfection that no amount of good deeds could ever pull us out of it. So if we can’t earn good standing and we’re putting every single egg we have in the grace basket, what’s the point – why do anything good at all?

Strangely enough, I have found great insight into this issue from the movie The Breakup. In one scene, they’re having a huge fight about how the boyfriend Gary is never doing the good deeds that Brooke asks him to do.

Gary: “Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes.”
Brooke: “That’s not what I want. I want you to want to do the dishes.”
Gary: “Why would I want to do dishes?”

Gary would want to do the dishes if he cared more about making Brooke happy than he cared about making himself happy. He should do the good deed because he knows it’s something she cares about and would bring her joy – no more, no less. It’s the exact same thing with good deeds in Christianity. We don’t do good deeds to prove we’re better than other people, or because it comes easily to us, or because we think we’re earning some sort of spiritual brownie points. We do good deeds because we have reason to believe they are important to God and bring him joy – no more, no less.

I don’t think God wants us approach good deeds like, “Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes.” I believe he wants us to want to do the dishes.

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— EDITORIAL —

*Phraseology stolen from Theodosius Dozhansky, who thought evolution was the overarching story that tied all of biology together. ( “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light if evolution”). If anyone tried to understand any piece of biology without it, Dozhanksy claimed, they would have misguided hypotheses. Their scientific discovery would be stunted. This post isn’t about evolution, but I have a compulsion to provide the source of my thoughts. My deepest fear is getting caught in a scandal that involves accidental plagiarism. BUT I will say that if you are curious about how the Genesis creation story relates to current scientific thought on human origins, I highly recommend reading The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John H. Walton (amazon link here). It greatly influenced my thoughts on the subject.

**the ONLY reason I dropped the esch bomb was to be a Pretentious Pretentierson.

***No one knows for sure. It is currently a hot topic of debate by many scholars.

30 nuggets of wisdom for 30 years

My 30th birthday is just around the riverbend*, so this Gallowolf would like to cry the wisdom she’s learned to the blue corn moon. Please commit all of these to memory and send me a $30 cashier’s check every time my lil nuggets of wisdom save you from a pickle.** Thank you in advance.

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A-ooooooooooo

Drums, please!

  1.  You don’t have to date everyone who’s a good person
  2.  Be okay with uncertainty in relationships
  3.  Don’t try to engineer and control any relationship, especially romantic
  4. People don’t owe you affection or attention when you do something nice for them
  5.  Talk to your Grandma like a peer and be ridiculous with your nieces and nephews
  6.  Allow yourself to feel your feels
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    All legit, y’all.
  7. Don’t let your feels control you
  8.  You’re responsible for your own feelings, but be aware of how you are prone to feel after spending time with any person
  9. Spend time with people who make you feel good
  10. You can forgive people but still protect yourself from bad characters
  11. Most people are schmucky schmuckersons
  12. Celebrate and hold onto the people that aren’t schmucky schmuckersons
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    Me holding onto someone great
  13. People who bring exciting drama into your life are also likely to bring a bunch of hurt into your life.
  14. Go to the arts for your dramatic fix
  15. Finding things to laugh at is serious business
  16. The expensive car is *not* worth it
  17. Eating more expensive healthy food *is* worth it
  18. Neglecting your health is not financial prudence– it’s a great strategy to make all your borderline acute health issues full blown chronic health issues
  19. Try to find joy in challenges instead of focusing on the stress
  20. Stop feeling sorry for yourself
  21.  You can be mature and intelligent and still wildly silly
  22. It’s not necessary or wise to trust everyone in a Christian community
  23. Allow yourself to dwell on and obsess about how beautiful something is
  24.  Weighted blankets are heavenly

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    Actual image of my mind when under a weighted blanket
  25.  It’s worth the AC cost to turn down the temp enough to not sweat at night
  26.  Allow yourself to consider you are wrong about everything
  27. Don’t let uncertainty paralyze you
  28.  You don’t have to listen to everyone’s advice, even if they’re great people
  29. Try
  30.  God is bigger and more confusing than you ever imagined

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— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*By “just around” I mean in like 2 months. But that’s none of your business!

**Although if a Trader Joe’s kosher dill pickle was after me, I would say “take me now” and swoon at its delicious foot.

Doing this one thing will help you snag a man

My recent success with tricking a man into dating me for longer than three weeks has created a ripple of excitement in my social groups. Everyone keeps asking how we met. Some are just trying to make conversation, but others are on a quest for information. Information that will help give them clues about how they should go about entrapping a man.*

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Come to me my prettyyyyy

Never one to be restrained by the shackles of humility, I am assuming the responsibility to guide my single sistren towards the men of their dreams. Initially I was planning to put together a master list of all the sly techniques I used to rope in my boo,** but instead I think I will start with just one powerful tool.

She who intends to snag a man must first know a man. -C Gallo

That’s right. Men must be aware of your existence in order for them to succumb to your advances. The more men you know, the more likely you are to meet someone whom you actually like and who actually likes you.

Now, let us explore why you might not know any men. Off the top of my head, let us consider that 1) you are not involved in any activities, hobbies, or groups in which you would ever meet a man, and 2) Well.. no, I think point #1 pretty much covers it.

“C Gallo! Whatever doth thou mean?” Thou might be exclaiming. Well, I have noticed a theme among many women who are unhappily free of betrothment: their daily lives almost seem specifically designed to never intersect with a red-blooded*** male except by pure serendipity.

Si, my lovely senoritas. Working in human resources, getting your nails done, attending jewelry-making parties, and joining the local garden club is probably not going to open you up to many naturalistic opportunities to meet men. Sure, you may meet a few. Of those few, it is technically possible that a few of those will be straight. Of those, a few may be single AND remotely attractive. Technically. But then you’re left with 0.32 males, which not only puts you in a desperate position but is also mathematically awkward. So how to expand the mildewy pond of lackluster Jo-Jos into a sparkling pool of eligible baches?

I recommend the following: Engage in anything that men would have fun doing and involves interaction. Try swapping your night digging through a local boutique for a shooting session at the range. Instead of doing yoga, do kung-fu. Instead of planning ladies-only events, host a game night and invite boys. Join a coed kickball team. Go rock climbing. You get the idea!

A few caveats I must include –

  • I can’t guarantee you will find oodles of men who want to date  you immediately. You are likely to meet many menfolk who should be pals-only. That is not bad. Enjoy them! Guy friends are the best! Plus, knowing 10 men instead of 1 man (who is your best friend’s hubby) will increase your odds by 1000%.
  •  I understand you may be participating in a crochet convention because that is your natural interest. Moreover, maybe shooting guns offends your sensibilities, and you genuinely dislike doing anything more physically challenging than lifting your phone above your head for that perfect selfie angle. I’m not telling anyone to change their personality. But I would strongly urge you to not immediately rule out all activities that tend to be male-dominated purely because they are a little outside of your comfort zone or you fear you would be the only woman there. If you are … good! Less competition, less women to kill!
  •  I beg of you! Don’t only engage in an activity in order to meet men. You will come across thirsty. Do something that even if you haven’t met anyone eligible within 6 months, will give you a new skill or experience that sparks joy in your ticker. Best life, people, best life!

I have most definitely rocked your ballet socks right off. You can thank me later. For now, go forth and carpe hominis!

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— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* you don’t have to be *so* amused by this! Hurtful!

**I don’t feel comfortable sharing my black magic in this public forum.

***I’m absolutely certain this will rub someone the wrong way, but Ima say it. I’m talking about men who are unabashedly men. Men who can change a tire, squash a bug without crying, and will never steal your scarf to jazz up their outfit. You get the idea. If you don’t want a red blooded male, by all means stay the course!

8 secret perks of academic research jobs

[By “secret” I really mean “underappreciated” or “overlooked” but one must sacrifice perspicuity on the altar of catchy titles!]

I have now been in academia longer than I have been in any other professional setting. I’m sure this is common in many industries and organizations, but academics love to complain-brag (e.g. Omg I haven’t slept for 72 hours to finish this grant.. you all should be super impressed and feel super sorry for me!). We are especially apt to feel bitter that despite our 17,325 years of education, most of us don’t make *that* much money. And I won’t lie, I often add my voice to the belly-aching chorus… because who doesn’t enjoy a good-old fashion commiseration session?

BUT I must say that now that I am contemplating leaving academia, I am reminded how good the highly educated and underpaid nerdlesons have it compared to many many peoples.

How doth academia benefit thee? Let me count the ways…

  1. Working with smart, passionate people
    • Many careers are filled with overly ambitious, cut-throat peoples, but I would wager many fields are not filled with people who genuinely love what they’re doing and like their work for its own sake – not just the pay or the recognition. Most of the professors with the most prestige will tell you that at the end of the day, they just find their research neat-o. It is also really great to have undergraduates working for you – usually for free – that are highly motivated and probably smarter than you in so many ways. No crippling apathy here!
  2. Flexibility
    • This one is probably my favorite. I have almost always been able to make my own schedule. If I want to be in at 7:30 am and leave at 3:30 pm, that’s fine. If I want to be in at 10 am and leave at 630 pm, that’s fine too. If I want to work from home and do data analysis all day – no one blinks an eye. When it’s time for vacation, most people say just say “Yo, I’m not going to be in lab these 3 weeks because I need to find myself and connect with nature.” and your advisor says “Word.” Usually no one cares as long as you’re getting your work done. It is incredibly nice not to be viewed as a slimy little worm who is trying to get away with the least amount of work. At least in the academic jobs I’ve had, you are treated like an adult.
  3. Job security
    • It is difficult to get fired in academia. You can be a miserable failure and the most your advisor will really do is write a lackluster letter of recommendation for your next position. I think you would have to do something that was seriously unethical to get fired, but failing continuously is probably not enough. It doesn’t serve you well in the long run to be unproductive, of course.. but you will at least be paid while you figure out your next career move.
  4. Street cred
    • You know when you’re trying to make small talk at a party and you ask a stranger, “So what do you do?” and they say “I’m a technical writer,” and you say “Cool!” *chirp chirp* Not so with academic positions. People are usually interested in your thesis or research, and you can usually entertain them with sharing your interest in the field and what you hope to accomplish. It’s not usual to have a job that intrigues a lot of people and makes them automatically think you are super smart, even if your only other interaction with them was to praise the hummus.
  5. Inclusivity
    • Once you get past admissions, I really don’t think academia cares about your demographics that much (of course there are fellowships and grants for those who identify as a member of a group underrepresented in science, but it can only take you so far). There are no headshots to turn in with your manuscript when you submit for publication. You can identify as a banana or the be the ugliest person on earth, but academia doesn’t care. Just do good research, and a place will be prepared for you. It’s a meritocracy if there ever was one.
  6. Bad fashion sense highly tolerated
    • I’m not sure if I would go so far to say that being a snappy dresser will hurt you in academia, but it truly doesn’t help. If anything, some of the people wearing the most egregious – whether that be flamboyant or downright geeky – outfits are senior professors. Wearing a suit in lab is not only impractical, it will probably be seen as an ineffective attempt to cover your own incompetency. So throw on a pair of sweats and a ironic tee and get to pipetting.
  7. Mentoring
    • In no other field is there such a built in culture of the person in the highest position taking an invested interest in helping the people working for them reach their career goals — whatever those might be. That is truly extraordinary. My advisor gets no benefit – either financially or research-wise – in helping me secure a job outside of academia. Yet he is seriously committed to helping me get there if that’s what I decide to do. Imagine your manager taking responsibility to help give you the skills and experience you need to move on to a better job at a different company! Unheard of.
  8. Benefits
    • Usually the health insurance is pretty legit. At least at my University, the retirement plan is very generous. You get access to a huge online library of journals for every topic you could possibly be interested in (just for reference, most published journal articles that I see are $35 a pop). You usually get a free or highly discounted membership to a gym that’s at least adequate. There are tons of talks with free foods. Little things all together, but nice.

In toto— If you are in academia, put a pause on your belly aching and take time to appreciate the fun little perks of your position. If you are outside academia, maybe ponder the positive aspects of your job.. and if there aren’t any… come over to the dark side of academia!

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