I pity Sigmund Freud, because he didn’t have Facebook. I feel bad for Karl Jung, and Carl Stumpf, and those other fathers of modern psychology too. How were they able to drag this discipline out of its infancy without the armada of diagnostic tools that’s recently appeared from over the horizon of social media? I refer to evaluations such as:

15 Unmistakable, Outrageously Secret Signs You’re an Extrovert
23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert
23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert
10 Ways to Tell if You’re Confident – or Arrogant
5 Ways To Know You’re Watching a Spielberg Movie

Those represent just a tiny fragment of the avalanche of mental health/personality syndrome quizzes we are enjoying.

I can’t help tossing my pebble into the landslide. I found a gap in the flow of helpful questionnaires, and I’ve applied my profound lack of expertise to the challenge if filling it. I present “Nine Ways To Tell If You’re a Raccoon.”

Just answer the questions using the five-point scale below. Be honest. This thing doesn’t work if you aren’t honest, and then you walk around for the rest of your life in doubt about whether you’re a raccoon. Once you’ve finished, add up your points and read your results!

The Five-Point Scale
5 – This is me. It describes me perfectly.
4 – This sort of describes me. Maybe when I feel nostalgic or I’ve been drinking.
3 – Eh. Maybe this describes me, maybe it doesn’t. Is Walking Dead on?
2 – This doesn’t describe me too well. It might once in a while, like on Halloween.
1 – This isn’t me. You’re talking about a squirrel, or a goat or something.

The Questions

1. ___ I can always find my way back to a place with good food, such as Fuzzy’s Tacos or the garbage can in your garage.

2. ___ I enjoy social activities like tormenting your cat until it cowers behind the air conditioner in a neurotic stupor.

3. ___ When the weather is cold, I like to snuggle down into a blanket made from the insulation under your Jacuzzi.

4. ___ If you make your garden unpleasant by blasting talk radio all night, I’ll just chew through the screen on your utility room window and pee on your clothes.

5. ___ I like the night life. I like to boogie.

6. ___ I think food always tastes better when someone gives it to me for free. That includes birdseed in a feeder hanging from a greased pole sprayed with Tabasco sauce and adorned with peppermint-soaked cotton balls stuffed into pantyhose. That also includes French fries on an unattended plate.

7. ___ I’m secretly laughing at everyone around me.

8. ___ I find ornamental ponds so compelling. I especially love those goldfish that swim around in them.

9. ___ Even though I have opposable thumbs, I rarely find an opportunity to poke some idiot in the eye with a stick.

Now let’s see how you scored!

Under 20: Sorry, you’re not even a good simulation of a raccoon, and you’re probably not too cute, either. Move to Cuba (where raccoons are extinct).

21-35: You have strong raccoon tendencies, which you can cultivate with some effort. Chew your way into the attic a few times, and wash your chicken wings in the gutter before you eat them. There’s hope for you.

Over 35: Hooray! You are among nature’s most insidiously destructive cute animals! Let’s go tear some shit up and eat garbage!

Don’t feel bad if you aren’t a raccoon. We all have our place in the magnificent tapestry that is existence, and although you suck you might be lucky enough for a raccoon to eat part of your body after you die.

Yeah, you know that you wish you were washing cockroaches in your neighbor’s pool.

Photo by Svdmolen
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Alaskan Cruise, Day 6 – Wilderness Exploration

Today we went on a “breathtaking tour in which renowned naturalists, magnificent wildlife and an exploration of six ecosystems – ocean, estuary, river, lake, muskeg and rainforest – await in this town aptly nicknamed the ‘Valley of the Eagles.’”

That’s how the brochure described it. It could also be called “Four hours on a bus hanging out with Stacie and Terra.”

The brochure was accurate in every respect. Two young women who know more about wildlife than everyone in my hometown put together took us to all six of those ecosystems and showed us animals. Yet the tour wasn’t how I’d imagined it would be. I had imagined we’d be pushing through the brush like mountain men, spying on bears down by the stream as they knocked back a few jumping salmon. I don’t care that watching wild bears eat is about the stupidest thing you can do. It’s what I expected.

Stacie and Terra gave us something infinitely cooler than my expectation, which would have ended with my entrails flying around like streamers on New Year’s Eve. They showed us a few birds as we drove past, and they told us about the dozens of God’s creatures that God decided not to let us see today. They also spent a lot of time telling us about life as an Alaskan tour guide, living in a tent and recycling everything but toilet paper.

The whole experience was like a laid-back party after a day at the renaissance fair, but without the drum jam.

Terra also took advantage of the beautiful, warm weather by leading us on a short walk through a muskeg, which is another name for a bog. She didn’t explain why they don’t just call it a bog and stop screwing with us stupid people. She then led us on a short walk through the temperate Alaskan rainforest, which looked a lot like the muskeg to me, except that the ground didn’t try to suck off our feet.

Here’s the muskeg/rainforest:

This is a temperate rainforest. It's seems to be a bog as well, since we got back on the bus with two fewer kids than when we got off.
This is a temperate rainforest. It’s seems to be a bog as well, since we got back on the bus with two fewer kids than when we got off.

Stacie and Terra delivered even more than the brochure promised by visiting two additional ecosystems:

First, we visited the “side garden ecosystem” of a nice lady who let us watch wildlife through telescopes beside her house as long as we didn’t disturb her goats. That was fantastic because bald eagles were nesting across the river. With the naked eye, their heads looked like tiny white blobs. Through the telescope, their heads looked like slightly bigger white blobs.

I swear this could have been a burrito wrapper stuck in the tree and I'd have never known the difference.
I swear this could have been a burrito wrapper stuck in the tree and I’d have never known the difference.

The day’s final ecosystem was “Haines City Park.” The community of Haines is the town nicknamed “the Valley of the Eagles.” In the park we ate grilled chicken Cesar wraps, Sun Chips, and oatmeal cookies. The brochure had been entirely mute on the subject of cookies, so we had Stacie and Terra to thank for this flourish.

Eating cookies with our new friends Iman, Isam, and the children they have remaining after the muskeg.
Eating cookies with our new friends Iman, Isam, and the children they have remaining after the muskeg.

If you’re ever in the Valley of the Eagles, I recommend that you visit Stacie and Terra. In fact, I advise it with immense gravity. Their tour fulfills the only criteria that matter when seeking a successful and enjoyable life experience.

You don’t die, and you get a cookie.