Who's afraid of the big bad beetle?

I'm not afraid of bugs.

Okay, that's a lie. I'm afraid of bugs that can hurt me providing they're in a bad mood (wasps) and I have an irrational fear of venomous spider bites. And then the usual list of bugs that give me the heebie-jeebies - earwigs, silverfish, and centipedes.

But there is a kind of bug that I absolutely loathe. Let me tell you about them.

Illustration of a June beetle, which has parts labelled "BROWN", "Dumby dumb dumb", "Hooking hooks", "distended undercarriage"

June bugs are a particularly offensive largeish beetle that emerge for a few weeks to mate and lay eggs when the weather is right. That's the only good thing about them (and even that isn't so great, because once they're done propagating they all die and litter the ground with horrible dried-out husks.). As you can tell from the above picture (in which I have rendered an inaccurately cute June bug), every single bit of them is made with some sort of horrible.

Usually beetles can repent for their scurrying nature, horrific size, or dung-eating habits by at least having interestingly-coloured shells. Not so with the June beetle, which stubbornly maintains a dull and unappealing brown shell. In addition to its failure to appeal to any aesthetic sense, the beetle's brown shell covers only its head and folded wings, leaving its distressingly off-yellow body plain to be seen.

These unfortunate beetles look like they are ready to burst open on a moment's notice; their yellowed undersides seeming to bulge with the barely-contained pressure of their gooey insides. If you've ever hand the misfortune to step on a June bug, you'll know it doesn't take much pressure before the whole thing ruptures and spews an alarming amount sticky yellow goo all over your shoe. (And between the idiocy and the dying, it's often difficult to avoid stepping on them.)

In the early summer, perhaps while trying to enjoy a refreshing night breeze, you can hear the dull THWACK of June bugs bashing their idiot heads against buildings up and down the street. (Even when they're not flying into walls, they fly about with a distressingly noisy buzz.) These beetles are offensively stupid. Most beetles that are flipped on their back will readily accept a helping hand (er, twig)... except June bugs, which don't seem to have developed a knack for grasping. When finally righted, they will, as likely as not, forget to spread their legs properly and tumble sideways again.

The last bit of their hideous anatomy is their leg hooks. I don't know what purpose these hooks were intended to serve, but I know that in our modern world they do these creatures a disservice. Those hooks are amazingly efficient at getting tangled in long hair (I've experienced that one first-hand) and stuck in the mesh of screen doors. My least-favourite habit of these beetles is when they get their hooks stuck in a screen and then try to fly away, loudly buzzing and thwacking the screen with their wings. (When they're stuck, the best way to dislodge them is to flick them from the other side of the screen and send them flying away.)

They haven't been around this year.

We had an early warm spell followed by unusually cold temperatures, and I suspect this killed many of them off and prevented them from emerging. I've only see a handful of the creatures this year (and I've never been more thankful for climate change.).

Three miscellaneous services that are worth paying for

I can't be the only one here with a warped sense of fiances. I see nothing wrong with forking over five or ten bucks for vanity items in video games, magazines that are 50% advertising, specialty cheese that I'll eat while watching TV in my jammies, or shoes that I'll never have an occasion to wear... but at the same time I balk at the thought of paying that same amount of money for actually useful services. (It must offend my sensibilities that something useful could cost money.) But, even with a screwey sense of value, I've found a few services that are definitely worth their cost... because I tried to live for the past few years without them.

Caller ID

I doubt this is true of all cell providers, but my provider charges an extra $10 a month for their caller ID service. "Fuck that," I said when I first got my cellphone, "I can live without knowing who is calling."

If I could go back in time, I'd smack past-me upside the head for being a fucking idiot. Yea, it's true that when my phone rings I'll be able to figure out who's at the other end of the line pretty quickly... but you know what happens when I miss a phone call?

"1 missed call from unknown."


It doesn't even give me a phone number. For more than a year, if I missed a call, I had no idea if it was from my mom, a receptionist, a pimp, or a telemarketer. That shit gets stressful! Especially since I chronically forget to turn my phone off of silent mode, so I miss an abnormally high percentage of phone calls. (There's an app for automatically adjusting phone volume levels, too, but I haven't tried it yet.)

T came home the other day and told me that he added caller ID to my phone plan. I don't know if I ever would have done it myself - not knowing who had called had simply become a fact of life - but holy balls am I glad he did.

Lastpass premium

Lastpass is a password management extension for browsers. It's multiplatform, easy-to-use, and infinitely more secure than your browser's password manager. With Lastpass, the only password you ever have to remember is your Lastpass master password. The rest of your passwords can be as long and random as you want them to be.

The browser extensions are free - obviously - but their mobile apps are not. The Lastpass mobile app requires a subscription of $12 a year. That's one dollar a month... that I was too cheap to pay. Because of... reasons, I guess. So I went a year without logging into websites on my phone (excluding a few highly-used services).

Dear self: $12 a year is worth it, just to be able to check your bank account balance on your phone, let alone the hundreds of other sites whose login information you forget.


We had cable, once. It was something like $70 a month, and we only ever watched three channels for a couple of hours a week. The things I liked to watch were never on when I was ready to watch them. It was painful to sit down and watch something, because commercials would interrupt every seven minutes or so. The channels I was really interested in required specialty packs for additional fees. Cable was not worth it.

But? Netflix is. While their selection still has room for expansion, there is always something good "on" when I feel like sitting down and watching TV. There are no commercials. It's only $10 a month. For me, $10 is worth is to not have to mess around with torrents, video files, and networking so I can get a movie on our TV.

Also cool? Netflix is multi-platform and syncs across devices. We started watching an episode on the Wii at home, and later finished the episode from T's tablet while visiting my family in another city. No longer do we arrange our lives around the TV schedule; instead we arrange TV around our lives.

How it should be.

We went a very long time without cable or Netflix. Can I live without TV service? Yeah, I can - and did. But having TV and movies available with little fuss makes me days better. I do more crafting, cleaning, spend more time on supper, and get to relax and wind down more thoroughly than when I don't have a TV service.

And I don't think that's a bad thing.

So. Time to share! What services did you decide were really worth paying for? Have you had experience living with - or without - the three I mentioned?
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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."