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Validation

As you know, on occasion I enjoy airing out my random thoughts about the world here at my humble little blog – something about seeing them in print makes them seem valid and true. It’s wonderful! But clearly I’m fooling myself a little bit here. I mean WordPress just gave me this blog for free that one night I was high on decongestants and posts whatever gobbledy goop I care to put on it without question.

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OR

Wifi networks are a serious health hazard.

OR

Buying Facebook shares at their IPO was a smart move.

See? Anything at all.

But you know who doesn’t let you just post any old random thought that pops into your head? The New York Times, that’s who.

Oh god, I just realized this lead-up might sound like I published something in the New York Times. (And that’s why you’re looking so confused!) No, no, no, no. Like I said, they are a more discerning written platform. No, just take this lead-up for what it clearly is – padding for a simple post in hopes of distracting you from the fact that my posting frequency and intelligence level have dropped to nearly undetectable levels lately.

On to my point. Grey & shiny may be a simple blog for simple thoughts, but apparently the New York Times is on the same page as me with their recent debate on When Do Kids Become Adults?

Let me quote from the intro:

Many of these high school students have been driving since they were 16, and those who have turned 18 are no longer minors: they can vote, join the military and marry their sweethearts. But they can’t buy a beer.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I said pretty much the exact same thing a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure  that means I scooped the New York Times. (I suppose they took the time to consult with experts or whatever.)

My favourite of the various expert responses came from Laurence Steinberg, an adolescent brain researcher, talking about how various age restrictions came to be:

science has never had much of an influence on these sorts of decisions. If it did, we wouldn’t have ended up with a society that permits teenagers to drive before they can see R-rated movies on their own, or go to war before they can buy beer. Surely the maturity required to operate a car or face combat exceeds that required to handle sexy movies or drinking. Age boundaries are drawn for mainly political reasons, not scientific ones. It’s unlikely that brain science will have much of an impact on these thresholds, no matter what the science says.

Yes, science so rarely has anything to do with politically charged decisions. So few people will admit to that though.
 

So what have I been doing since I clearly haven’t been spending my time writing anything of interest? Nothing much to be honest. I’ve simply lacked the will to dissect my thoughts enough to put them into words. Part of the problem is that it is May and I have just been reminded that the sun exists; I’ve become too baffled by the bright light and warm sensation on my skin to do anything but let my eyes glaze over the world in wonderment and let it soak over me. So that’s what I’ve been doing, a lot.

What have you been up to? Write any padded-up blog posts lately in hopes of keeping your handful of readers semi-interested? Felt oddly validated by people at the New York Times with fancy titles after their names agreeing with you?

North American Weirdness: Age Appropriate Activities Edition

Welcome back to North American Things That I Still Find Weird Despite Spending Two Decades Here: Age Appropriate Activities Edition

I was born in Finland but have lived in Canada since I was 11. In the years since moving, my penchant for soap-boxing has combined with nostalgic childhood fairy-dust into the terribly annoying habit of picking on North American ways of doing things. And then telling you about how much better it is across the ocean (conveniently omitting any unflattering bits). This is just one of the many perks of interacting with me! I suppose I should also mention that I continue to live in Canada and have no plans to move, so take that as you will. Not that that makes me any less right.
 

I have done most of my adult-ifying in North America, but that doesn’t stop me from finding it all rather weird.

Exhibit A: Letting kids drive. Because 16 years old is a kid. That’s not just my opinion based on the mind blowing ignorance they display online – I’m pretty sure actual medical professionals will tell you that teenagers do not have fully developed impulse control. Which turns out to be essential for holding back the impulse to pimp up your car metallic one-tonne murder-device with other smelly teenagers, loud music, and a lead-heavy foot on the accelerator. My point: I’m pretty sure you should at least be trusted to wield a vote before you can wield an automobile.

Exhibit B: Not letting adults drink. I’m referring here to the narrow band of adults between the ages of 18 and 19 in Canada (which I find slightly silly) and 18 and 21 in the US (which I find ludicrous). I’m no lawyer but I believe for most other purposes the law considers you to be an adult after 18: you can vote, you’ll get in pretty deep shit if you break the law, and you can buy a gun! – all years before you can be trusted to operate a beer. But then again I’m one of those wacko liberal European types who thinks alcohol is better introduced slowly and in the safety of your parents’ home than through a beer bong at a frat party. (Are beer bongs a thing? Seems like they should be. I honestly have no idea.)

Exhibit C: Not letting adults out after dark. Specifically to establishments that offer dancing and drinking. I haven’t quite figured out the finer details but as far as I can tell this applies to anyone who has children and/or is over the age of 40 (if you’re a parent in your 30’s it’s vaguely acceptable – as in you probably won’t have the authorities called on you – but be careful). Acceptable forms of socializing for these mature stages of adulthood appear to be: the PTA, dinner parties with other couples, coaching a sports team, and mommy-yoga. If you leave your house in the evening hours to socialize in other settings you are clearly a cougar/non-dedicated parent/creeper in a mid-life crisis.

Luckily in Finland it is quite common – practically expected – that people go out regardless of their age. On a trip a few years ago I had the best time dancing up a storm with my mom at a bar where neither of us was out of place and we both actually liked the music. In fact, no one considers getting married/having children/turning 30/turning 40/turning 50/turning 60 to be the end of fun. And AMEN to that.

North American Weirdness: Floor Edition

Welcome to North American Things That I Still Find Weird Despite Spending Two Decades Here: Floor Edition

I was born in Finland but have lived in Canada since I was 11. In the years since moving, my penchant for soap-boxing has combined with nostalgic childhood fairy-dust into the terribly annoying habit of picking on North American ways of doing things. And then telling you about how much better it is across the ocean (conveniently omitting any unflattering bits). This is just one of the many perks of interacting with me! I suppose I should also mention that I continue to live in Canada and have no plans to move, so take that as you will. Not that that makes me any less right.

Example of an acceptable flooring material

Back in my young and naive days, I thought floors were pretty simple and basically figured out throughout the world by now, but boy did I ever learn how deeply wrong I was:

Exhibit A: Wall to wall carpeting. Seriously, who thought that attaching a permanent dirt, mold, and allergen trap to your floors was a good idea? Your dog/kid/drunken self pukes on the floor once and the remnants of their revolting bile and partially digested burrito are forever trapped on your floor now. FOREVER. I don’t care if you have some fancy carpet cleaner that your mother in law recommended. That shit is not coming out.

Doesn’t seem so cozy on your feet now does it? Well the little baby mold-spores would beg to disagree as they nestle quietly in their perfect little nursery under your feet, undisturbed by things such as “cleaning.” Insanity I say! My mom and I were pretty perplexed by the whole thing when we arrived – what’s wrong with some strategically placed mats that can be washed?

Wall to wall carpeting becomes downright disturbing when combined with Exhibit B: Not taking your shoes off inside.

I can’t believe this is even an option in anyone’s home. Most of the people I know are civilized enough to know better, but I know this is an issue because an entire Sex and the City episode was dedicated to highlighting the right of extravagant women to wear their Manolo Blahnik’s wherever they please, children be dammed! Because if a toddler ends up sucking on a piece of feces-encrusted gum that came off your shoe, well that’s a small price to pay for not cutting your leg line short. Kid might as well learn the E-coli lesson early! Survival of the fittest and such!

There is a reason we wear shoes outside – to put a layer between us and the grimy, disgusting world – so don’t then drag that shit all over where I eat, sleep, and do push-ups once or twice a year (yes I eat off the floor, what of it?). So what I’m saying is, wearing shoes inside a Finnish home is basically an offence equivalent to killing their firstborn.

This concludes North American Things That I Still Find Weird Despite Spending Two Decades Here: Floor Edition. Stay tuned for upcoming parts of this potentially infinite series!