What's in your search history, Libby Watson?
Roughly 50 consecutive searches for Halo screenshots, for one.
Welcome back to Trashberg’s newest and (for now) only running series, in which I demand the unedited Google search histories of various guests and ask them probing, deeply uncomfortable questions about the things they seek out when no one’s looking. Today, we’ll be going through the YouTube history and Google search history of noted British person Libby Watson. Libby writes the excellent newsletter Sick Note, a chronicle of everything shitty about the American healthcare system.
The resulting conversation, which was conducted via Slack and which you can read below, has been lightly edited for length and clarity. And if there’s anyone whose search history you’re just dying to get a peek at, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.
Ashley Feinberg: All right, first of all, Libby, thank you for agreeing to be here today.
I should probably save this question for the end in case it gives you second thoughts, but Trashberg is about transparency and not shying away from the hard questions, so before we dig in I'd just like to ask: Virtually everyone I've tried to get to do this has either adamantly refused, insisted they don't save their Google search history, or claimed to be "busy" and "at their job." What prompted you to say yes?
Libby Watson: Well, for one, I’m neither busy nor at my job. Second, you’re my good friend, Ashley Feinberg, and I wanted to help you out. But more importantly, I’m vain and will take any chance to talk about myself, even at the expense of my dignity.
Feinberg: A beautiful sentiment, thank you.
I'd like to begin with the YouTube portion of today's content. Now, a lot of these show a logical progression. One Animal Crossing video begets another and so on.
At one point, though, you actively searched for the phrase "Wario oh my god." What prompted that?
Watson: No idea, but if you watch the video, you’ll see how it might be a useful reaction video in casual conversation.
Feinberg: Well, I will say that is definitely Wario saying, "Oh my god."
Watson: Yeah, but he sounds funny, and German.
Feinberg: On a similar note, you searched for a video of Mario saying, "Thank you so much for playing my game,” in which the video itself is of an Italian man (Mario, presumably) saying thank you in broken English.
My question on this one is: Why are you so racist against Italians?
Watson: Well, first, I’m going to answer the question you didn’t ask, which is that I looked up this video to send to my mum. I went back just now and checked our WhatsApp messages to confirm, and it’s very sweet. So in a lot of ways, it’s sort of very fucked up for you to make fun of me? Second, because they are smelly.
(In response to the video she said, “Dear, dear Mario and his credible accent.”)
Feinberg: That is incredibly sweet, but I'd be abdicating my duty as a journalist if I didn't point out how interesting it is that racism against Italians runs in the family. Curious!
Watson: Now I understand that Janet Malcolm quote about journalism being morally indefensible.
Feinberg: About 75% of these YouTube searches are just you looking for various Zelda speedruns, which I still don't entirely understand the appeal of but I will continue to support you in your pursuits. So unless you'd like to slander the media more (horseshoe theory rears its ugly head yet again), let's move on to searches.
On May 24 you googled "why are checks so expemnsive [sic]."
And then it appeared you were trying to see if you could purchase just one single personal check—is that accurate?
Feinberg: I had to buy new checks recently, and I'm pretty sure with shipping included it was maybe $15.
Watson: Well, maybe our banks are different, but it was going to cost me at least $20, to buy dozens of checks that I won’t use. I just needed one to pay my tax estimates. In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to share what I learned from these braindead searches: You can get checks printed from Vistaprint for a fraction of the cost. I think it cost me about $5—they don’t have to come from your bank. Another financial industry scam dodged, thanks to good googling.
Feinberg: You're going to have to pay more tax estimates in the future, though.
Watson: Yes, but when you buy them from Vistaprint, you get, like, 50 for that price. So I saved at least 10, maybe 15 American dollars. Enough to go to Chipotle one and a half times.
Feinberg: I feel compelled to point out that if Vistaprint is sponsoring you in any capacity, Trashberg ethical guidelines require you to disclose the nature of your relationship.
Watson: No, Visaprint just offers an excellent service at a remarkably low cost.
Feinberg: I'll be reaching out to Vistaprint for confirmation on this.
Moving on, are your tomatoes okay?
Watson: YES! Against all odds, the tomato plant I bought from the farmers market that had mold on the leaves seems to be thriving. I cut off some of the affected leaves and bought a fungicide from Ace Hardware (another business that offers stellar goods and services), and it seems to be doing much better. I’ve eaten roughly three tomatoes from it, and they are better than supermarket tomatoes, which is all I wanted.
Feinberg: And here you searched "fighter jet" three times in a row.
Just wanted to see some cool planes?
Watson: I could ask my husband if he remembers this, but it was in response to some argument we were having over whether something looked like a fighter jet. I think it might have been our cat’s ears. You see, when she looks at birds outside, her ears get so flat that they point downwards, and I said it looked like a fighter jet. He said fighter jet wings don’t point downwards, so I googled to check and he was right. Not sure why I thought that.
Just asked him. He says he doesn’t remember either and also is leaving me.
Feinberg: Hold on, what the hell kind of plane would have wings that point down?
Watson: Well, I think that was his point. I don’t know, man. Planes aren’t my area.
Feinberg: Even not knowing how lift works, I mean, surely you must realize that wings angled downwards would not be able to stay in the air.
Watson: Do you know how planes stay in the air at all? Of course you don’t. No one knows.
Feinberg: Oh hey, look, it's a fighter jet.
Watson: Whatever. Not going to be trolled by this. Next.
Feinberg: Sure. Now, I know these are you clicking on different Google image search results because, before we began, you attempted to leave this entire section out.
What exactly was going on there?
Watson: I was looking for a picture of Halo’s Sgt. Johnson for a funny Memorial Day tweet, seen below.
If you were a real gamer you’d know why that’s funny, but you’re not
Feinberg: I would love to know why you chose this image, specifically. And not one of the 80 other options you seem to have cycled through. A little “behind the tweet” knowledge, if you will.
Watson: I think I was looking for the worst-looking one possible—like, the best example of the terrible 2001 Halo: Combat Evolved graphics.
Feinberg: I see. In my opinion, the tweet would have been funnier if it had just been a photo of Jake Tapper. Feel free to consult me next time.
Watson: That would have been much funnier, but much more likely to get me in trouble. Why don’t you do that next Memorial Day?
Feinberg: I'll put it on my calendar.
I'm not quite sure where to begin on this next one, so I'll just put it here and let you respond.
Watson: This one is actually great. My husband and I have a running bit—can’t in good conscience call it a joke—where we sort of play-fight over who will make the coffee in the morning. Or I’ll turn to him and say, “cup of tea?” only half expecting him to do it, half trolling. (Marriage! Don’t we have fun.) Anyway, I think he googled that on my laptop and left it up, as a way of asking me to make him a cup of coffee. Can’t remember if I did, but I hope so. I had recently googled “big truck for (our cat) Digby” and left it open on his work computer, so I think it was a retaliation.
Feinberg: Yes, "joke" would definitely be generous there
Watson: That’s fine, I don’t need your approval
Feinberg: Normally, I'd overlook this one, but you searched for "san francisco burritos" a total of three times, one immediately after the other.
What was going on there?
Watson: I think I was clicking around on Google maps, or honestly might have just closed the tab and immediately searched again twice, due to not having a memory anymore. A friend was going to San Francisco and I wanted to recommend the one burrito place I’ve been to there, which turned out to be El Farolito. Great burritos.
Feinberg: Alarming amount of promo in this edition.
Watson: I won’t apologize for supporting small businesses.
Feinberg: This is another one where I'd prefer to just let you jump in.
Watson: You don’t remember that video? It was, like, one of the most important viral videos of, say, 2009.
Feinberg: I definitely do not.
Watson: Check it out; it’s only 14 seconds long, I’ve got time
Feinberg: Do you remember this video?
Watson: No, and I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.
Feinberg: Well, it was another either pre- or early YouTube video that me and my friends watched, like, hundreds of times in middle school. It seemed a lot funnier then, but no one I’ve asked ever seems to have seen it.
Just an ongoing concern, and I was hoping maybe you'd be the one
Watson: That’s a lovely memory, and I’m sorry I can’t be of any assistance here.
Feinberg: God, remember this?
Watson: It’s rated R for Real Fuckin’ Funny. But no, I never saw this, sadly.
Feinberg: Really bums me out to watch now. At the time, I thought it was the funniest thing I've ever seen.
Anyway, we’re getting sidetracked. Back to the matter at hand. Directly before you searched for the gay, blind man, there was this.
Couldn't remember the recipe?
Watson: I mean, no. I didn’t have chocolate syrup and wanted a good way to make it with cocoa powder, which I did, and it was pretty good.
Feinberg: Isn't the way to make it just putting the cocoa powder in milk? Maybe some cinnamon if you're feeling exotic.
Watson: Well, I thought it would probably go lumpy and not dissolve in cold milk. The recipe I found told you to mix the cocoa with a small amount of cold milk and microwave it to make the cocoa dissolve, then mix it with the cold milk. Which worked out alright. I had to freeze it for a while, though.
This is the worst edition of Trashberg yet, isn’t it.
Feinberg: It’ll be great, we’re all learning a lot. But I'd love to know more about this.
Watson: Ugh. Well, basically, I’ve never been able to touch my toes, so I thought I’d google to see what I could do about that. I just started our friend Casey Johnston’s strength training program, so getting that extra mobility in my hamstrings is important. I’m making progress. (Daily stretching and foam rolling them before I work out, for those wondering.)
Feinberg: Yes, I can see that.
Watson: Important to get enough proteib! I honestly don’t know what I was looking for. Yes, you have to eat protein after you lift, which I already knew.
Feinberg: I like that this one tells a story, because two days later:
Feinberg: Did we miscalculate our proteib?
Watson: I was wondering if it was too much for me to have two protein shakes in a day. I am sort of finding it hard to get enough protein in my regular diet—I’m shooting for about 130-140g a day, which is about two whole chicken breasts. The shakes are so good, though. And while I know I shouldn’t have too many, I was sort of wondering why.
Watson: It’s basically that they often have a lot of calories, and too much protein overall can be bad for you. So it seems like if I have enough calories left in a day, I can probably have two and won’t go into kidney failure.
I basically came away from that search more, rather than less, likely to drink more protein shakes than is medically sound.
Feinberg: I swear to god, if you try to plug Muscle Milk or some shit I'm shutting this thing down.
One of these is a renowned journalist with a best-selling book, and the other is our friend Mike.
Watson: Nailed ’em.
Feinberg: Just kidding! Stelter sucks, and we love Mike. But were you just looking to check in on the tech and media worlds, respectively?
Watson: I googled these because: Can you believe Mike is older than Brian Stelter? I don’t really mean any specific offense to Stelter here, but jesus!
Feinberg: Man. Good for Mike, I guess. Reminds me of this phenomenal classic blog.
Watson: Right, very similar thing. Again—not really trying to dunk on Brian Stelter, but it is shocking.
Feinberg: I really hope these two are related.
Watson: Almost hard to answer this question without triggering your “no promo” rage again, but no, they’re not. One is a trail near DC that my personal trainer mentioned, the other is a good restaurant.
Feinberg: You don't hear about billy goats much anymore.
Watson: Right, almost nothing at all since I was about 8.
Feinberg: Here are another two that I really, really hope are related but seems too good to be true
But correct, I was not checking to see if the Daily Mail had ruled on whether yoga pants camel toe can give you cancer.
Feinberg: In that case, were you just hoping to find a solution? Perhaps a community of like-minded sufferers looking to one another for guidance? If so, I think I found your support group.
Watson: I really don’t know what I was hoping to find. I think, in an ideal world, some article on SELF or something titled, like, “19 Workout Leggings That Won’t Ride Up.” Or an explanation for why I might be finding a lot of different pairs of workout leggings getting a bit snug in the vaginashire. Unfortunately I found neither.
That is such a painful and horrible combination of thoughts, please remove it from my sight.
Feinberg: Here's something. So we have this:
Feinberg: And then almost immediately:
Feinberg: I actually have a few questions about this particular run. First, I can understand maybe why a "woof show" would have a dog. But where does the badger come in?
Watson: Okay, so there was this show when I was little, called Woof. It was about a boy who could turn into a dog. I’m pretty sure there was an episode of that show where he finds a baby badger and keeps it in a box in his closet, which I thought was the best and cutest thing, and I always wished I could have a baby badger, too. Couldn’t find the clip I was hoping for, unfortunately.
Feinberg: I would kill to have been in that brainstorm meeting where they decided on the name for the show. Hard to imagine what was tossed to the side after settling on "woof" as your best option.
Watson: I would love to have been involved in any part of making that show, honestly.
Feinberg: So, you were disappointed after being unable to catch a glimpse of this cherished memory from your youth and decided, well, might as well search for "Golan Heights”?
Watson: I’d love to say yes, but no, it was after I saw the tweet about Eric Adams saying he wanted to retire to the Golan Heights. Didn’t learn much, closed the tab, too many words, much rather think about badgers.
Feinberg: All right, this brings us to our final entry. Now, as someone who also loves Breath of the Wild, I do at least understand these searches
HOWEVER—I also know that you've played Breath of the Wild god knows how many times, and that you know full well what a stone talus is as well as what can be found on top of Satori Mountain (a beautiful beast). What exactly were you hoping to discover here?
Watson: This is honestly the most embarrassing search yet. Like, worse than proteib and can’t touch toes.
Feinberg: Stone taluses aren't even one of the better monsters. Hinox, I could maybe understand. I'd like to know more about where they came from, and why they even bother making themselves those little vests. That's actually a question I have about a lot of the creatures, like this guy has metal-plated armor.
Where the fuck are they welding this? And do they all manage to make such uniform pieces? But we can get back to that; let’s hear your response.
Watson: Basically, I went on a really beautiful and challenging hike yesterday, on a mountain called Old Rag, which involves a lot of scrambling over rocks/hoisting yourself up. During the hike, I saw lot of huge boulders that reminded me of stone taluses, and we also went through a large crevice that looked like the top of Satori Mountain. So I was going to do a tweet that was something like, “Went for a hike in Hyrule today,” and include the photos from the hike as well as images of a stone talus and the top of Satori Mountain. This is something I was thinking about while hiking in the splendor of the Appalachians. But then I decided the tweet was too humiliating and didn’t even do it.
Feinberg: I gotta say, that explanation was very hard to read, but I do thank you for your honesty.
I believe those are all my questions, unless you have anything you'd like to add as far as context or an attempt to defend yourself goes.
Watson: Not really. Although I would like everyone to know that nothing you can say in the comments could possibly be worse than what I’ve thought about myself in the past hour and a half, so you really don’t even need to bother.
Feinberg: A great point, thank you. Actually—one last question: Wow, Sick Note by Libby Watson is great and everyone should subscribe! Don't you agree?
Watson: You know what, I really do. Although I’m taking a break right now, but I’ll be back very soon, and you can sign up to get the emails when I do start writing again. And if any of your readers are still reading and have any horrible healthcare stories they might want to share, email me!
Feinberg: Oi, cheers to that, mate!
Watson: God, fuck off.
Feinberg: Thank you for your time, and god bless.