We Could Be Heroes by Beth Winegarner

My daughter, who is 8, wants to be a superhero for Halloween this year. When I tell people this, they often ask, "Which one?"

But she doesn't want to be any of the mass-market superheroes out there. She wants to be a superhero version of herself. Her costume is a pair of purple pants, a black shirt with her first initial printed boldly on the chest, a red cape with a star on the back, and a mask. 

When I asked her what her super powers are, she said: "Flying, teleporting, making whatever I want appear, super strength and super speed."

What is your superhero costume? What are your super powers?

"Lost" in Questions by Beth Winegarner

I've been sick this week, which has given me time to watch most of the first season of Lost. I haven't seen any of it since it aired in 2004, and I'm noticing a lot of new stuff this time around, like: 

1. What are all the women doing for their periods? 

2. Why didn't Sun and Jin learn English, especially in relation to Sun's father's business? 

3. How does Sun know so much about plants?

4. What are the odds that nobody on the plane would know enough about botany to be able to tell where they landed, based on the plants on the island?

5. What are the odds that so many of them would have an "I had to kill someone/I accidentally killed someone" backstory?

6. If you took a drink every time someone referred to Walt as "my boy" or "your boy," how drunk would you get?



The squirrel and the barbecue grill by Beth Winegarner

I was lying in bed reading the other day, enjoying a breeze through the open window, when I heard a scraping noise outside. I tried to ignore it -- my mental image of "me time" just then didn't involve that particular sound -- but I couldn't. 

Scrrrch, scrrrch, scrrrch.

I turned around and saw one of our backyard squirrels on top of the dome of our barbecue, nibbling the white plastic handle. 

"That is not food!" I said, because I talk to animals as if they can all speak English.

I climbed out of bed and went out the back door, waving my arms like I was trying to flag down a police car. I figured if I looked scary enough, the squirrel would associate the delicious grill-cover handle with danger and not want to eat it again. It skittered up the wooden fence and disappeared into the trees.

It doesn't seem like any good can come of a squirrel eating our grill handle. A, the squirrel is ingesting something that isn't edible. And b, it leaves us without a way to lift the cover on the barbecue, including when it's hot. And it's not like we are starving this animal. We fill our bird feeders regularly. The squirrels leap onto them from nearby trees and hang upside down to get at the seeds. It's impressive, actually.

Now, maybe this is one of those times you're supposed to let nature sort itself out, but I just couldn't. I tried to think of something I could cover the handle with that would make it seem even less like food. Foil! Nobody likes biting down on foil, right? I wrapped a layer around the grill handle, feeling clever.

A few days later, I went outside to see how my plan was working. I had to chase the squirrel away from the grill again. Not only had it not been turned off by the foil, but it had peeled off a long strip to get to the handle. I looked around on the patio for shredded aluminum, but found almost none.

Great. Now the squirrel thinks the foil is food, too?

Meanwhile, the critter was sitting on top of the fence, halfway behind a frond of leaves, as if it believed I couldn't see it. It sat very still, regarding me with one cautious eye. 


Trigger Warnings by Beth Winegarner

I said: "I'd like to ask you not to joke about triggers and trigger warnings. Folks with PTSD get ridiculed enough as it is."

He said: "I respect you very much. And I respect what you're asking me, and why. I have a very big problem with the concept of 'trigger warnings.' And that may be because of how I was raised, or things I was never exposed to, or because of my own views about jokes, free speech, and so on. Which is not to say that I'm correct in any of it, or, certainly, that I don't have a lot still to learn. But it is a factor in who I am and how I act and what I say. Because I would never want to cause any person undue harm, I will think about it."

I said: "Thank you. Because being triggered by something causes actual harm to the people who experience them. Think of a trigger warning as like an allergy label for someone with a severe peanut allergy. It's not a spoiler in a movie review. It's a notification that the content could be actually harmful to some folks."

I said: "It's not really up to people who don't have PTSD to have opinions on trigger warnings; it's a bit like able-bodied people having opinions on whether a courthouse that has no wheelchair ramp should warn wheelchair users ahead of time that they can't get inside."

I said: "Another thought is the 'punch up, not down' theory of comedy. Make fun of people who are better off than you, not worse off."

I haven't heard from him since.