Tastes Like Burning: The Never-Ending Quest to Breed and Consume the World’s Hottest Pepper (via GQ)

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GQ — Late last year, the former guitarist for Guns N’ Roses propped up his camera phone, pressed the record button, produced a cherry-red coffin-shaped box and put its contents directly in his mouth.

The box contained a tortilla chip—one single chip—made from the dust of the Carolina Reaper, the hottest pepper on Earth, designed solely to obliterate the senses.  In the video, the guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, places the shard of fire on his tongue as his wife of 27 years, Jen, does the same. Incredibly, Jen smiles. Bumblefoot, meanwhile, looks like somebody hit self-destruct on his face.

“If you like pain, you’re gonna like this,” he says, through breaths that grow increasingly panting. “It’s still burning. I’m feeling kind of sweaty.” He grimaces, forces some smiles, the fire inching back up his throat. A few minutes in, he absently brushes his right eye, which, because his immune system works, immediately swells shut. “I no longer have use of my eye,” he says, half-laughing through tears and mucus. Jen, next to him, continues to seem totally fine. A guy who spent eight years with Axl Rose as his boss is getting slaughtered by a tortilla chip while his wife is like, eh, whatever.

This episode goes on for six minutes. Bumblefoot excuses himself to flush his eye with water—which obviously doesn’t work—until the fire finally dies down enough for the couple to record an outro. “Paqui chips,” he says, sweating and one-eyed, “Thank you very much for destroying my life for the next half-hour.”

The full story at GQ.com.

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How We Briefly Sort Of Totally Lost Our Son on the London Underground (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — One day, during my retirement, if there is still Social Security or whatever, I plan to write a collection of short stories called “Places I Have Lost My Son.” I lost him once in a state park, where, during a verdant and filthy family hike, he ambled ahead 10, then 20, then 500 yards, past a vigorous series of intersections and switchbacks. (We found him at the ranger station, making plans for what to do with his months-long iPhone ban.) I lost him once from his own bedroom when, at age 4, he let himself outside at 1:30 a.m. in a half-sleeping dream state, in search of the Polar Express. (We found him 20 minutes later a quarter-mile down the road, where he’d been discovered by two teenagers named Kevin and Brendan who were most assuredly not Tom Hanks.)

I’ve had to find him in zoos and museums, malls and airports, when something catches his imagination and instinct compels him to follow it. In my son’s brain, imagination is not some zingy, lively Peter Pan-type. It’s a 500-pound sumo wrestler who lumbers in and shoves aside all of the functions used for mindfulness and consciousness and “remembering to look behind him to see WHERE HIS DAD IS.” It’s both delightful, as there is no greater gift than childhood creativity, and god-awful terrifying, as there are few worse feelings than having to ask the nice security guards whether they have seen a 12-year-old in a blue hoodie. Twice.

Which brings me to how we totally lost him on the London subway.

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O Christmas Box, O Christmas Box (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

High Angle View of Empty Cardboard Box with Open Flaps on Shiny Hardwood Floor - Moving or Shipping Concept Image

Sweet.

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Generally speaking, Christmas trees arrive in one of two ways: 1. You pack a saw and rope and drive to a Cut Your Own Tree Farm, which makes you feel like a beefy, whiskey-swilling, red-bearded lumberjack army-crawling through dirt and pine needles and probably fire ants until you ask a 19-year-old to help you tie it to the top of your Honda Odyssey; or 2. You go to the attic and retrieve the Giant Box of Fake Christmas tree, which you purchased some years ago from, hypothetically speaking, a Kmart in east-central Indiana.

My family went with Option B. As I was fortunate enough to have both a Christmas-loving family and unusually tall ceilings, our fake tree was a goliath, a monstrous army-grade artificial Douglas fir Fraser pine (okay, I have no idea what it really was, I slept through college horticulture) that endured for nearly a decade. It was rich, plush and lifelike, even if it smelled less like evocative forest pine and more like the inside of a Kmart in east-central Indiana.

Mostly, it came in a box.

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Andrew Luck Made Me Read a Very Good Book (via Men’s Health)

image: Men's Health

image: Men’s Health

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Men’s Health — NFL players are generally associated with reading about as much as they are skin moisturizers and Sarah McLachlan albums, which is part of what makes the Andrew Luck Book Club such an odd little slice of nerd-joy in Indianapolis.

As the post-Peyton quarterback for the Colts, Luck has carved a reputation for being three things: 1. Rich (he signed a $140 million contract in June 2015, the biggest in NFL history), 2. Reliable (his stoic work ethic is pleasingly Midwestern) and 3. Dorky.The Stanford grad has been called the Colts’ unofficial librarian; his club is an extension of his propensity for gifting books to teammates and coaches. (Think of another NFL QB who’s on record as being super-into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We’ll wait.)

But the man makes $140 million throwing balls around, so he’s clearly onto something. And so, driven by Luck’s suggestion, I formed my own offshoot club, called three friends to participate (most common answer: “Huh?”) and got down to reading.

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The Adventure of Milo, The Daring Stuffed Cat Who Spent a Year on a Plane (via the Washington Post)

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Gonna take a walk outside today, gonna see what we can find today

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Several Christmases ago, I found myself wandering around a deserted parking lot in San Francisco, clinging to the fragile idea of Christmas magic, but mostly just on the phone with airline customer service.

We’d just flown cross-country with the children, ages 9 and 2 (apologies again, Good People of Rows 13 and 15). The older one is deeply imaginative and inventive, just not especially good at paying attention or remaining in the real world instead of the one in his head, which is populated almost entirely by Percy Jackson and dragons. (Frankly it sounds like a good place to be; in that world sinks don’t leak and Percy doesn’t get Christmas Visa bills.)

Here’s how the cat came back.

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I Wore the Same Outfit for Two Weeks to Achieve Zen Calm (via Success)

Uniform.

Uniform.

Success — To learn about the curious malady known as “decision fatigue,” I was given a very simple assignment: Wear the same outfit and automate as many daily decisions as possible for two weeks and write about whether it gave me more mental clarity. That was it. Easy breezy. I jumped right in.

On Day 1, I picked out a crisp white shirt, got dressed, opened the front door and promptly spilled coffee all over myself. The first lesson of automating your wardrobe: Select dark fabrics.

By “automating your wardrobe,” I mean following the fashion examples of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and others whose jobs demand a daily deluge of global-scale decision-making. The idea is simple: To preserve brain space for the big calls, cut back on the less significant ones, because the collective weight of your choices, layered over and over each other, creates what psychologists call decision fatigue. Officially, that’s the “deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision-making,” says Jonathan Levav, Ph.D., associate professor at Stanford University. Colloquially it means reaching 4 p.m. and no longer giving a damn about the logjam of problems in your inbox.

The full story at Success.

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Henry Rollins on His Favorite Indiana Bands, This Stupid Election and Why He Writes Like He’s Running Out of Time (via the Indianapolis Star)

Works more than you do.

Works more than you do.

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Indianapolis Star — Spoken-word artist, actor, former Black Flag frontman, activist, authoritative-opinion owner and self-described “vinyl cat lady” Henry Rollins is a guy who — to steal a line from a musical about another American overachiever — writes like he’s running out of time.

Rollins, 55, and his endless-bordering-on-insane work ethic has positioned him not just as the “aging alternative icon” he jokingly called himself in the past, but as a harder, steelier critic on a culture that offers no shortage of material. His current spoken-word tour, featuring shows that routinely hit the three-hour mark, visits Indianapolis shortly after Election Day, so there should be no shortage of material.

Rollins checked in via email in September from a tour stop in Australia, weighing in on his approach to the election and what his audience means to him now:

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Question: Obvious yet sincere opener: Who are your favorite musicians/bands from Indiana? 

Answer: The Ink Spots. I got introduced to their music in the late 1980s.

Q: You’ll be here shortly after Election Day/Recount Week/The Fall of the Republic. What’s your mood been about the election?

A: Indifferent. I will vote and live with whatever the result is. President Obama tried to make things better. Congress and the USA were not interested. To be overly concerned with a country that obviously isn’t motivated to confront global climate change, renewable energy, health care or education is a fool’s errand. Marriage equality, something easily covered by the First, Fourth and 14th amendments of the Constitution, had to go to the Supreme Court. USA lost me. I just pay my taxes and obey the law. Past that, I hope I don’t get shot.

The full interview at the Indy Star.

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10 Ways to Either Stop Snoring or Do It A Hell of a Lot Less (via GQ)

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GQ — So I have this friend who snores like a psychopath. Enough that people bitch about it from neighboring rooms. Enough that his wife is basically scouting quieter replacement husbands. Enough that his son jokes that he sounds like elephant giving birth inside a metal garbage can.

But this friend, see, he knows that it’s hard to make lifestyle adjustments while unconscious. He also sleeps pretty well, so he wouldn’t even worry about it, if not for the complaints from people he likes. So this friend, while awake, went to the source: a PhD named Michael Breus, who happens to be a fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Snoring is all about the airway,” Breus told my friend. “It’s turbulence. It’s like when you stick your thumb over a hose in the garden and water shoots out faster. When any part of the breathing passage becomes more narrow—your sinuses, trachea, any floppy tissue—you’ll snore.” Here’s how my friend learned to calm that turbulence down.

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Someone Taught My Child About Jesus When I Wasn’t Looking (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — My son, who at 3 years old was certainly a talking machine but not terribly comfortable composing verse and rhyme, sat down one night at the dining room table, regarded his cutup hot dog, looked at Mom and me, then looked down, folded his hands and intoned, and I quote:

“God our father, God our father

Once again, once again

Thank you for our blessings, thank you for our blessings

Ah-Amen, Ah-Amen

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. 

What’s his name? 

Jesus! 

Hallelujah!”

The first verse was deployed to the tune of “Frere Jacques.” The second he punctuated with a merry grin, one hand splayed in the air as if he had just drained a three-pointer at the buzzer in a teen sports movie from 1986. Then he dipped his hot dog in his “bar-de-coo” sauce and demolished dinner. He was delightfully oblivious to the fact that his mom and I were watching him, stone-faced, forks held mid-chomp, as if he had just informed us that he’d been working on a unified theory of physics and would soon be leaving to return to his home planet of Flthhhpbt.

Here’s what we did about it. 

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How to Buy a Mattress Now That We Live in the Future (via GQ)

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GQ — Mattress shopping is the worst shopping, unless you enjoy driving to the nearest low-rent strip mall and lying down fully clothed in the company of commission-starved salesmen. So when I needed a new mattress recently to replace my 12-year-old Sealy Posturepedic Plush Pillowtop (which I purchased from Dr. Seuss, apparently), I was delighted to find that the whole game has changed, thanks to online retailers.

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