mimi smartypants
Seriously, though: what's with the penguins?

breeze in the beanfield


  1. Dear Portland: do you not have any sort of liquor tax or was I just radically undercharged everywhere I went? LT and I, eager to take full advantage of our child-free weekend, did very little traditional sightseeing but lots of drinking and eating upscale snacks in bars. We would have approximately a thousand beers and funny little deep-fried goat-cheesy things and the bill would be $32. The bill was $32 a suspicious number of times, actually. Maybe Portland liked the looks of us.
  2. Portland has a Pioneer Square. Seattle has a Pioneer Square. I kept walking around Portland and thinking about Seattle—the similarities are rather striking (at least to an outsider/tourist). Portland seems a little sleepier, its downtown a little smaller and lower, its strip clubs more numerous.
  3. We took the train from the airport and while I always love a train from an airport, OMG slow. Particularly when you get downtown and it…stops…every…block…or…so. Portland! I am pretty sure you can walk from there to there! Let’s eliminate about half these stops, yes?
  4. Lots of dirty hippie street kids, but no one asked me for money. Either that’s not really Portland’s street-kid thing or I just look tight-fisted and intimidating.
  5. Being on some weirdo latitude so that everything was still dark at 7 am. I am ready for breakfast, Portland! I will walk through your so-called “Pearl District” in the dark!
  6. Seeing mountains and hills all over the place. Flatlander that I am.

We were only in Portland for the weekend, and one could argue it was a very long way to travel to just drink beer and have fancier-than-usual morning sex in a hotel room. But sometimes you have to do things. Otherwise you will never do things. There, I just wrote a pithy yet meaningless self-help aphorism. Expand it to 60,000 words, add some simplistic graphs, and sell it to Oprah. You’re welcome.


If you love pseudoscience, you must love air travel, because SkyMall provides plenty of it. Items and phrases from SkyMall that I particularly enjoyed on this flight:

  1. “Skeletal optimization.” Are you doing all you can with your skeleton? I doubt it.
  2. “the hassle of disposing of large quantities of used oil”
  3. The “Align-N-Drive,” a truly terrifying product that must be targeted toward frequent drunk drivers. It consists of stickers for your windshield that line up with your front tires. Just keep everything between the lines and you’ll be fine! We hope!
  4. A wine coaster featuring “extremely powerful Neodymium magnets” that “realign particles in your wine.” To think I have been drinking disorganized-particle wine for so long!
  5. I also learned that thundershirts now come in cat sizes. Would this be something that could lessen crazy Rocko’s anxiety and tendency toward self-harm? Or would I stigmatize my mentally ill cat further by buckling him into a crazycat garment?


Right before leaving for Portland, I was gobbling grocery-store avocado sushi at my desk and trying desperately to put out medical-publishing fires before quitting time. (Turns out I needn’t have bothered, since a quick glance at my email [out-of-office replies still on! I’m not really here] shows that the fires raged more or less unchecked anyway.) But how to get wasabi onto my maki? I had forgotten to grab chopsticks at the store. I had no silverware in my desk, either plastic or genuine. I did not want to walk all the way down to the cafeteria to get some. I considered using a pen or a pencil, but using the business end is kind of gross, and the other end would leave wasabi residue. It seems wasteful to throw away a wasabi-covered pen and kind of stupid to wash a wasabi-covered pen. But wait, what’s this in my desk drawer? Could it be a sushi condiment solution?

Why that is a tiny plastic penis that I found on a Milwaukee playground a long time ago!  That will work perfectly!

After a thorough washing, the mysterious penis replica lived in my purse for a while, and then I think at work I was like “ack, I have got to stop carrying this small fake penis around” and dumped it in the drawer, and there it stayed with no purpose. Until it found new life as a wasabi scoop! I believe this is known as “upcycling.” Resourceful me!

—mimi smartypants does not suggest using a real penis as a wasabi scoop.