The Blog Post I’m Not Occupying

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Occupy The Antis

No, not the Aunties....

No, not the Aunties….


Antis, as in, anti-choice protesters. As in, the ones at Portland’s Lovejoy Surgicenter

One week ago today, after dropping off her daughter at Audubon Camp, SCM [1] drove past the Lovejoy Clinic on her way back to what was going to be a productive work day at home…until the product turned out to be not what she’d planned. She saw a small but visibly determined group of anti-choice protesters occupying the sidewalks around the clinic entrance, a sight which frosted her butt and prompted her to call moiself.

The possibility of protesting anti-choice protesters was something SCM and I tossed about many months ago, when she’d mentioned that she sometimes saw anti-abortion demonstraters outside the clinic. I had never seen protesters outside of Lovejoy, [2] but told SCM if she ever wanted to offer some spontaneous support to the clinic, I’d be there if I could.

Dateline: last Friday am. My phone rang (??? What? A phone call – no text?), and it was SCM. There were protesters in the sidewalk outside Lovejoy, she was stopping at a nearby office supply store for poster board and Sharpies, and did I want to join her?

Within 35-40 minutes I

–  changed out of my workout clothes [3]
– dismissed my computer reminders (the list of things I was supposed to be doing)

– found sign-substitute paper (alas, no poster board) in my daughter’s art stash
-hastily scribbled three signs
– drove to the corner of NE 25th & Lovejoy.

For the next couple of hours, SCM and I, according to a supportive passerby, “Occupied the protest.”

SCM told me over the phone that two of the protesters were holding signs which read Women Need Support Not Abortion. Therefore, one of my signs had to be




Our counterprotest was more…fun…than I’d thought it would be.  SCM and I had nice time people-watching and conversing on a variety of subjects, despite the periodic interruptions by the Antis, who just had to try to witness to us, every ten minutes. (Really – they were quite regular. I think they used an egg timer).

The Antis were a small group, totaling maybe seven white bodies: four or five women ranging in age from late twenties to sixties, and two middle-aged men. The men patrolled further up the corner sidewalks and seemed to be keeping “lookout.” The womenfolk took turns holding signs, and one of them playing pointman, trying to engage anyone entering the clinic. [4]

I’d had previous experience with anti-choice protesters, when I worked at three different Planned Parenthood clinics in the [5] Bay Area. Those encounters were sporadic and mostly benign. The Lovejoy Antis were not using the Bat-Shit Crazy Screaming Fundy ® approach;  instead, they followed the glowing smile, “You are beautiful – don’t you know you are beautiful…may I ask you/show you something?” method of chat chumming, and Pointman Woman complimented my posters:

Pointman Woman: “Your signs are so funny!”
Moiself: “And yours are so boring!”

I felt my pulse rate gallop the first time one of the Lovejoy Antis tried to start up a dialog with me. Despite their outward, assertively serene manner, I knew what those people were and are: fanatics who believe they are doing their god’s work by invading other people’s private business. Which makes them crazies, IMHO. And in the  Good Ole U.S.A. , everyone with a pulse – including and especially the crazies – has access to guns.

My pulse, however, quickly realized it had gotten a workout for naught, and returned to normal. Turns out the only weapons the Antis were packing were the verbal and intellectual gaffes with which they shot themselves in their own feet. [6] 



҉    Things I Learned While Occupying the Antis    ☼

* The four way stop sign intersection at 25th and Lovejoy is a dicey spot for cyclists and pedestrians. Yo, wealthy NW Portlanders: stop signs mean drivers are supposed to stop, y’all, not cruise through while checking your reflection in the mirror of your Mercedes SL convertibles (admittedly, you who occupied them did look fabulous) or dictating some jive-ass drivel into your burnt orange Blackberrys.

*  It was almost too much fun to watch SCM school the Antis on American religion; i.e., Pilgrim and Puritan and immigrant European (redundant, that) Christian theology and history. We hadn’t planned on speaking with the protesters and did not initiate conversation, but they would make some asinine comment that begged for clarification…and they were not prepared for how incisively intelligent SCM is (and how ignorant they sounded).

* I almost completely underestimated the entertainment value of watching passing automobile riders’ lips move as they tried to read SCM’s and my signs.

* After said lip-readings we received bemused looks and thumbs up, and some rolled down windows and Right on! s – from drivers who showed down and/or stopped long enough at the intersection to read our signs.


make that, NOT

make that, NOT


* We also received a couple of, er, favorite finger salutes, from a couple of male drivers who drove as quickly as they could through the intersection without even glancing at our signs. When I heard a few choice epithets [7] one of the bird-flippers tossed along with his finger, I realized that he and others like him, who probably drive through that intersection regularly, to and from work or whatever,, and didn’t even bother to look at SCM’s and my signs, assumed we were with them  (the Antis).  Thus, the next time I engage in such a venture, for clarity’s sake one of my signs may be a variation of the classic t-shirt message: I’m NOT With Stupid.

* One of SCM’s signs – The Flying Spaghetti Monster Hates Anti-Choicers – was our litmus test of sorts, for identifying the Cool People Who Get It.




* Okay, the following is not technically a Thing I Learned While Occupying the Antis, in that it is not news to me. Rather, it could go into the category of a sad fact reinforced: people who think they have the Christian god on their side have no qualms about breaking one of their god’s rules about bearing false witness.

SCM and I saw a police officer park his cruiser on the NE corner of Lovejoy. Meanwhile, the spineless lying asshat one of the male patrolling Antis, whom SCM had seen speaking furtively into his cell phone a couple of minutes before the cop car arrived, high-tailed it around the corner as soon as the cop car arrived.

The officer exited his car and approached the clinic. I called out to him, “You’re at the perfect place if you want to do a traffic sting!” and started to tell him about the stop sign scofflaws, while SCM wriggled with excitement and gushed, It’s not really a protest without the police arriving!” The officer gave us a regretful smile, told us nah on both accounts, and said he wasn’t here about the protest or the traffic, but to check out a call they (presumably the cops) had received. He asked us, rather laconically – as if he already knew the answer but had to go through the motions – if we’d heard anyone yelling for help from inside the building.


Of course we didn’t, because nobody had. “You’ve been set up,” I advised him. Officer Nonchalant tried to stifle a cynical grin from spreading across his face as he entered the building to check things out. He exited the clinic a minute or so later, just as I wondered aloud who had made the false police report. Within a minute of the cop car leaving, the spineless lying asshat the suddenly-disappeared- male-patrolling Anti returned to his post on the sidewalk.

* One of my signs was quite popular with drivers who had children in the car. Not only that, the sign seemed to motivate the female sign-holding Antis to change places on the sidewalk, so as not to be on the pointing side of my sign’s directional arrow. People who think they’ve a sacred obligation to tell other people how to live do not want to stand next to you when you’re holding up a sign that treats them with all the seriousness they deserve:



* Yo, anti-choicers: If you’re going to attempt to proselytize you need to know your religion’s basic terminology. I’m not even talking complicated theological constructs, ala transubstantiation or theodicy or Catholic vs. Protestant soteriology. Jesus Christ up the creek without a paddle! – know your basic vocabulary, or shut yer yap.

Examples: When Pointman Woman declared that “we are all sinners,” I asked her to define sin. She ummm-ed and ahhh-ed before throwing the question to one of her older comrades : “It’s kind of…well, how would you explain it?”




They finally settled on anything that “offends the holiness of god.”

Oh, like my fucking potty mouth?
(from the Department of Things I Almost Said)

During another slow moment on the sidewalk (no clinic patients to pester), Pointman Woman, already tantalized to discover that SCM was a minister’s daughter, asked me what my “faith” was. I offered up Happy Heretic and Avid Apostate, and told her she could use whatever term she found most entertaining. It quickly became apparent – and she admitted, when I asked her – that she didn’t know what either heretic or apostate meant.

Later in the morning another Anti made yet another attempt to engage me with a “May I show you something?” entreaty. She’d already flashed me her (supposed) aborted fetus pamphlet, and she was reaching for a blue velvet lined-jewelry case, which, as I’d seen earlier, contained fetus trinkets laid out in charm bracelet fashion.  I countered with, “May I show you something?” and removed what was intended to be my morning snack – a small baggie of almonds – from my pants pocket.

Moiself: “Would you like to scrutinize my nut sack?”

Anti:      “I don’t understand.” (She looked genuinely confused.) “How does this relate…”

Moiself: “Since you are so interested in policing other people’s bodies I thought you might like to examine an intimate part of mine….”

Anti:      ???

Her expression, to a tee.

Her expression, to a tee.


DANG! A perfectly good pun, wasted on a proselytizing pudding head.

Laaaaady ?!?! You’re standing outside a medical facility trying to tell strangers what to do with their reproductive organs and you don’t know what a nut sack is?




Every so often, two or three of the Antis women put down their signs and formed a group to murmur, pray, exchange Jell-o salad recipes or whatever. Once, three of them began to sing the hymn Amazing Grace. SCM joined in – and of course, she knew more verses than they did. [8] Not to be outdone, I chimed in with the Mary Tyler Moore Theme song.



Possibly The Best Answer to a Question, Ever

We stayed until the Antis left, then entered the clinic. The Ladies of Lovejoy got quite the kick out of our signs and expressed their grateful for our support. We chatted with them for several minutes, trading protester stories and shop talk. [9]  As per the latter, one of the clinicians mentioned that the clinic had expanded their services to include male healthcare, and that she “really enjoys” doing vasectomies. I, of course, had to ask her why she found vasectomies so enjoyable. After working with women’s health all day, she replied, “it’s a nice change of scenery.”

*   *   *

After our counter-protest, SCM and I treated ourselves to sushi lunch in the Pearl district. Driving on home from Portland, I passed a guy, apparently hoping to hitch a ride to the coast, standing by one of the freeway entrance ramps, holding up a sign which read


I caught myself wanting to yell out the window, that’s a boring sign!

*   *   *

May you take the opportunity to express your Anti-Anti convictions,
may your signs always be entertaining,
may you enjoy an occasional change of scenery,
and may the hijinks ensue.



Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] She of the multiple slash identities: friend/attorney/fellow writer/wit and snarkstress extraordinaire….

[2] However, it’s not like I’m in that part of Portland on a regular basis.

[3] No time to shower, but I thought my exercise B.O. could be yet another turnoff for the protesters. As for SCM…she is a most tolerant friend.

[4] Actual in-and-out clinic traffic was quite spotty.

[5] Although the clinics I worked at were rarely picketed, and the picketers hadn’t figured out where the back doors were, where the staff entered.

[6] Let’s just pretend that was a smoother application of the shoot yourself in the foot idiom.

[7] Along the “mind your own !#$*! business you #@&$% asshole fanatics” line.

[8] They got the first two verses, then began to mumble/sing, like when you forget the lyrics and substitute whatever you think rhymes.

[9] A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I worked in women’s reproductive health care, both in a public clinic setting and in a private OB/GYN practice.

The Teacher I’m Not Eulogizing



No, this isn’t a eulogy – not in the classic definition of the word. More like a stroll down Memory Lane [2] while reading a love note about an adored teacher and mentor.

Welcome to the tribute blog edition.
Content warning: more family friendly than usual. [1]

Late last year I was delighted to be contacted by R__ Clucas, son of my former high school teacher, Ted Clucas. Mr. Clucas’ son had contacted me after coming across a blog post wherein I’d mentioned The Generator, Santa Ana High School’s award-winning student newspaper. R__  shared kind words re Mr. Clucas’ fondness for his students, in particular The Generator crew (Mr. Clucas had become the newspaper’s advisor during my senior year, and remained so for several years after that). R__ also let me know that his father was in frail health.


Ted Clucas, ca. 1975.

Ted Clucas, ca. 1975.


Last week I received a FB message from R__ , excerpted here:

I thought you would want to know that my dad, Ted Clucas, died yesterday. If you are in contact with any other former Santa Ana High students and Generator staff members, perhaps you can pass along that information to them….
It is sad, but I know he lived a long and good life. I also know that advising the Generator and working with students was one of the things he enjoyed most in life.

I did indeed pass along the news. Many SASH alum shared their memories of Mr. Clucas on the FB post, as well as their reflections on teachers and teaching in general. [3] The personal remarks – all loving and generous – I passed along to Mr. Clucas’ son and widow.

There was a pattern to the comments: Ted Clucas is remembered for his kindness, patience, and sage, good humored guidance. I can’t think of a better legacy for a teacher – he was one of “the good guys” whom we both liked and respected.


I had more sweaters, but Ted Clucas' students had a sassier mascot.

I had more sweaters, but Ted Clucas’ students had a sassier mascot.


A couple of the reflections got me thinking more about the act and art of teaching.

… he did always strike me as part of that wonderful old guard that ushered us through a certain moment in time. A few others I have less fond memories of, but in the greatness of time, they matter less.

I’ve often thought about the “management style” we learned from our teachers & coaches. Most was really poor, having to be unlearned later. Not with Mr. Clucas. We accomplished great things, worked hard & had fun. He was a gift.

A part of that wonderful old guard that ushered us through a certain moment in time. 

So well put (thanks, TF). As for some of that old guard…well…in that certain, Orwellian sense, some of our ushers were more equal than others.

As I watched my now college-age children navigate through their series of high school teachers – some of whom I wanted to nominate for a Nobel Peace Prize, some of whom were no better than trained circus monkeys – I would often marvel at the discrepancies in teachers’ attitudes and abilities, [4] and also at what are seemingly twists of fate, where one bad experience can deactivate a child’s interest in a subject or field they liked…and, of course, how one good teacher can ignite a spark that fosters a lifelong passion for a subject the student had once thought dull, difficult or inconsequential.

What combination of inborn and/or acquired personality traits, training and education, and simple force of will produce a good teacher? (If I had the answer, I’d nominate moiself to the Nobel Prize committee). How much of being an influential, memorable mentor involves a conscious decision,

I shall be like this, and not this.
I shall do and say this, but not this.

and how much is simply an unconscious reaction to circumstance and stimuli? And which came first?



From my FB post of June 11:

Attention SAHS alumni , and in particular *The Generator* staff members: please pass along this news to anyone who might be interested. Ted Clucas, longtime and beloved SAHS teacher and student journalism advisor, died yesterday.

Ted “Teddy” Clucas was both role model and cat wrangler when it came to mentoring 1975’s The Generator  staff. I’ve met few people in life with his combination of wisdom and patience (and yes, he let me get away with calling him “Teddy”). His name will always be on my list of favorite teachers, for so many reasons.

Oh, and about that mascot Mr. Rogers mentioned. I’ll get there. Eventually

Ted Clucas taught high school English, Composition and Literature classes for many years, and became the journalism class teacher and student newspaper advisor during my senior year. I had him for a literature class, and recall wonderfully instructive, generous and sometimes testy back-and-forth discussions about the significance and relevance of Great Expectations and other so-called classics. [5] My recollections also include his at once stern and bemused admonishment – Ms. Parnell! – when he thought I’d gone too far with my comments. That admonishment was to become my de facto nickname (shortened to, Parnell!) during my senior year, when he was my journalism advisor. The rebuke was always good natured (looking back, I sometimes cringe to think of how we tested his tolerance), usually produced in response to the pranks I and other Generator staff pulled.

One of the pranks, by select members of The Generator staff and other students, was an epic toilet-papering of Teddy’s house.  Mr. Clucas was wise enough to see that act as the compliment it was meant to be, where other teachers would have seen harassment or even vandalism.  He felt honored, and rightly so. We didn’t just tp any teacher’s house.

Another of the pranks was ongoing, and involved something more personal. Mr. Clucas spoke with a noticeable lisp.[6]  He of course was well aware of this, and also of the teasing he sometimes received about it. He never took the bait; if a student pointed out or even mocked his lisp, Mr. Clucas reacted as if the comment were along the lines of, “You are wearing a brown tie.”  Yes, I am.

Of the many, mildly unfair mysteries of life, two related ones stand out to me: that the word lisp has an s in it, as does the name Clucas. Because…there’s a story, about a telephone.

That would be the telephone in Mr. Clucas’ journalism classroom. The Generator‘s staffroom was one of the few classrooms with telephone access available to students. Even though we had use of the phone to make calls (groundbreaking reporters that we were), when the classroom phone rang it was supposed to be answered by the advisor. The phone didn’t ring very often, but every time – and I mean every single time – it did, if I were present and/or available, I moiself or one of the newspaper’s Merry Pranksters [7] would rush to the phone and answer it by saying:

“Mither Clucath thpeaking.”

"Please tell me you didn't make that so."

“Please tell me you didn’t make that so.”

Yeth, I did.

Okay, not every time. Sometimes the greeting was, Clucas’ Massage Parlor. Either way, Mr. C would cross his arms, shake his head, and try oh-so-unsuccessfully to prevent the corners of his mouth from twitching upward.


“Teddy” was both mentor and cheerleader when it came to my writing. I wrote various feature articles for the paper, from straight news to reviews to editorials, but my main focus was my regular editorial column, Parnal Knowledge.  As journalism advisor Mr. Clucas was seen, by his fellow teachers, the school administrators, and adult/parent readers of The Generator, as being ultimately responsible for the newspaper’s content. Thus, “the heat” was on him, on many occasions…often due to something I had written.  [8]

I received nothing but support from him when my columns were criticized, whether for content, fact or tone. He was even excited about the first piece of “hate mail” we received. The first time I received an angry letter from a teacher (and soon after that, a parent), he was almost beside himself with glee. I didn’t understand what the big whoop was about, until he told me it was the ultimate compliment and even litmus test for a writer.

“It means someone is reading – it means that you’ve made someone think about something that made them uncomfortable!”

1975 The Generator Staff photo, from my yearbook. Ted Clucas standing in the back row, far left. Yours truly front and center, to the left of Clucas Massage Parlor sign. Our mascot, Theodore, is seated in the second row, far right.

1975 The Generator Staff photo, from my yearbook. Ted Clucas standing in the back row, far left. Yours truly front and center, to the left of Clucas Massage Parlor sign. Our mascot, Theodore, is seated in the second row, far right.


The Generator staff was a rough crowd, not suitable for the esteem-challenged nor timorous of spirit. We constructed a class mascot, whom we christened Theodora, in honor of Teddy.  Theodora, a home-made dummy dressed in what I can only describe as pre-punk attire, which included part of a Girl Scout Uniform, had the middle digit of her right hand permanently affixed in what my WWII veteran father decorously referred to as the one finger salute. We installed Theodora in The Generator staffroom, with Teddy’s full knowledge and grudging acceptance if not permission, and her “offensive presence” was noted by several of the few teachers who dared darken the doorways of the journalism classroom. [9]

Each member of The Generator staff had his or her Generator nickname. A few of the more family-friendly ones I can mention included Kisser Carr, Quickie Lynn, Free Sample, and Frostie. [10] The Generator also had its own end-of-the-year awards banquet, during which we bestowed upon each other titles mocking those of the typical high school Senior Class Awards. [11]   For example, we voted our Sports/Fourth Page editor Best Nickname (“Bad Ass Cota”), and the student in charge of the newspaper’s distribution and circulation won the coveted title of Most Likely to Conceive.

And yes, when the latter title was bestowed, Mr. Clucas was sitting in the back of the classroom, shaking his head, not even bothering to stifle his chuckles. [12]

Theodora is ready for her close-up

Theodora is ready for her close-up

*   *   *

* He was one of my HS favorites. Very kind & patient. Looking back, he often seemed quietly amused with the stupidity of adolescence.

He was fully cognizant of our adolescent foolishness, yet was amused by it and never patronized us.

* Mr. C ignited my passion for journalism back in 7th grade…. The torch continues to burn to this day…Mr. C was not only a mentor, but a friend….

* He was a treasure. That rare combination of wisdom, humor, and elegance personified. One of my favorite experiences at SAHS, his English class and the Generator experience.

* Oh, yes, I remember him….bemused by our antics, gently guiding us away from the precipice when necessary. Don’t I remember a chuckle he had?

I, too, remember that chuckle, and so much more. Our little corner of the world was a better, kinder, wiser, and funnier place, because it had Ted Clucas in it.

*   *   *

May you have the good fortune to have your heart warmed by fond memories of an awesome teacher and mentor,
and may you have the good determination to be the kind of person who will be fondly remembered…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] Not to worry, regular readers, the feminist-freethinking-political-cultural rants shall return next week. With an extra bonus – fart jokes!

[2] An actual street in Santa Ana, one that will be familiar to those who are referenced in this not-a-eulogy.

[3] It was a thoughtful bunch – many of whom after high school pursued careers in journalism and other forms of writing.

[4] as well as my own surprise that “this ( good teacher, bad teacher) is still going on?!”

[5] Frequently, for the sake of argument, I challenged the application of the label “classic” to whatever book we were reading. Imagine that.

[6] I was a fellow lisper, but in recovery:  I had gone to speech therapy sessions in grade school.

[7] Okay, it was mostly me, and at least two others Who Shall Not Be Named At This Time and in This Venue…but it was never, ever our Editor-in-Chief, Deborah Franklin, who went on to become a respected freelance science writer and NPR contributor. Deb was too kind and genteel for such base shenanigans (although I caught her laughing at them on more than one occasion).

[8] Including, from the very first issue, the name of my column.

[9] What the heck – Theodora kept the blue noses at bay.

[10] A nickname I’d bestowed on our newspaper photographer as per his tendency (in my eyes) to strut stiff-legged, as if his underwear had been frozen.

[11] Most Likely to Succeed, Most Studious, Most Athletic, Campus Clown… you know the drill.

[12] I think this is enough footnotes, don’t you?

The Clown Car I’m Not Driving

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A Performance Artist in the Family


Belle and her friend LW recently used our humble abode for a guerrilla art project [1]. Sometime within the past couple of days, every framed family picture in our home, from the photos on the mantle to framed prints on the walls, was goo goo-eyed, as per this one of MH and I, taken during a backpacking trip in Big Sur.


*   *   *

Department of Regressive Passive Aggression

Dear Future Husband is the new song by the same twat twit who brought us All About That Bass.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  I envy you.  Read the lyrics. [2]

Holy Fucking Stepford Wives. Would someone get this woman a girdle, a pool boy, a valium prescription and a one-way ticket to a pre-Enlightenment time machine?

On the positive side, this song is like a Public Service Announcement for Decent Men © : Gents, if the woman you are interested in subscribes (even jokingly) to any of the sentiments expressed in this narcissist, needy, whiny ditty, y’all better sprint, not walk, in the opposite direction.


*   *   *

 Department of I Knew They Reminded Me of Something

I dreamed I was sitting on the top row of smelly, sticky, rickety bleachers at a tacky, three ring circus, booing along with other members of the audience at the third rate juggling and acrobat acts.  A VW Beetle clown car drove into the circus’ center ring. The car stopped, its doors flew open, and one by one a stream of Republican presidential candidates emerged from the tiny vehicle.


*   *   *

It’s Nice to Have Them Both Home For the Summer

By them I refer to the two fruit of the loom Fruits of My Loins ®, son K and daughter Belle.  Yes, it’s nice. And loud. And often unintentionally amusing. To wit: a group of K’s friends were over Monday night, [3] and I overheard two of the young men reminiscing in our living room as they played a game of 8-ball [4] :

“Do you remember the first time we were playing, and little Belle came down from upstairs and asked if maybe she could join in, and then she sharked us all?”

“Yeah! I knew we were in trouble when she pulled her own cue stick out of a leather case.”

Sadie art

Would this sweet young thing clock her brother’s friends? Nooooooo, never.

*   *   *

Department of White People Problems

In my forty-plus never-you-mind-how-many years of driving, I have received only two parking tickets. The first was thirty-seven years ago, when I was a college student attending UC Davis. [5] The second was earlier this week, after K, Belle and I had taken friend SCM and her daughter Ph to lunch at their favorite sushi place to celebrate Ph’s eighth birthday.

No problem with the first parking spot. After lunch I dropped off K and Belle (and Belle’s backbreaking load of four bags of books) in front of Powell’s Books. We were to meet at the store’s book buyback counter after I found a new parking space.

Parking can be quite a challenge in that part of Portland, but I’m familiar with the area and know how to read signs…don’t I?

I found a space four blocks away from Powell’s and overpaid for parking (two hours, when we’d likely need less). We had another 30 minutes of time left on our stub when Belle, K and I returned to our car, and spotted an ominous yellow envelope tucked under the windshield wiper.  Apparently, I’d chosen the one spot in a two hour zone that was actually good for only 30 minutes, and for this flagrant violation Portland wants NINETY DOLLARS.

Are you satisfied, City of Portland, for catching the evil parking scofflaw? Huh? HUH? Huh? HUH? Huh? HUH? Huh? HUH? Huh? HUH? Huh? HUH? Are you satisfied?

My anger surprised me. [6] I now understand…almost…why some people mail in their parking ticket payments in an envelope stuffed with desiccated dog turds. [7]

Ninety fucking dollars. I hope the parking  meter ticket staff has a nice lunch out (I can recommend a nearby sushi venue), on me.

I get to enrage people while wearing this bitchin' hat – is this a dream job, or what?

I get to enrage people while wearing this bitchin’ hat – is this a dream job, or what?

*   *   *

Why Didn’t I Know About This, Much, Much Earlier?

Being a non-pork consumer, I missed jumping on the everything-is-better-with-bacon bandwagon. Still, I jumped for joy when I came across The United Church of Bacon.




Once again, magician Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller)  and his friends have used humor (and in particular, Penn’s finely honed craft of satire and ridicule) to point out a serious flaw in our culture – the fact that religious people are seen as (and often claim to be)  morally superior to atheists and that religions getting special privileges in the law, over  secular non-profit organizations.

The United Church of Bacon describes itself as a “real, legal church with a funny name but a serious mission.”  From their website’s intro page:

Praise Bacon!

  • We oppose supernatural claims. We are skeptics and atheists. In our religion, we doubt religion.
  • We fight discrimination. Atheists are not inferior and should not be hated and marginalized.
  • We raise money for charity while accepting no donations for ourselves. We do not claim tax exempt status.
  • We perform legal weddings, always for free. How joyful!
  • We expose religious privileges as silly by claiming the same rights for Bacon.
  • Praise Bacon If you don’t like pigs, praise Vegetarian Bacon or Turkey Bacon.

We now have nearly 10,000 members from around the world and have performed hundreds of weddings. Join us! Raise your voice in protest, and to Praise Bacon!

My MIL has been on the lookout for witnessing opportunities ever since MH and I came out of the closet, all those many years ago, about our religion-free status. [8]  How happy she will be when she has the opportunity to discover that we (or at least, I) have found a church that truly suits our spiritual needs!

Not only that, the Mormons ain’ got nothing on the United Church of Bacon when it comes to proxy baptisms, as per the UCB’s membership form:

We will baptize any family member in the name of Bacon. Please enter the name(s) of any relative(s) you would like to give the eternal glory of our Lard to.


*   *   *

Speaking of witnessing opportunities, during our trip to Central Florida I saw an an auto repair shop [9] that called itself Just Brakes Total Car Care. I admit to being in a humidity-heat induced stupor during much of that trip, but even now, back here in temperate Oregon, that particular business name has me confused.

I may suck at reading parking zone restrictions, but I know the definitions of the words just and total.  So, which is it:  do you do fix brakes and only brakes, or everything?

Dadgummit, sonny, I said just the brakes – keep your grubby hands offa my air filter!

Dadgummit, sonny, I said just the brakes – keep your grubby hands offa my air filter!


*   *   *

End Notes

Yesterday afternoon, driving home after a lunchtime errand, I found myself stopped at a traffic light behind a guy whose vehicle sported a license plate holder with the phrase, He Died For Me.


My gut reaction: And you’re bragging about it, you heartless bastard?!

*   *   *

May you find comfort (not to mention calories) in the Eternal Glory of Our Lard…

and may the hijinks ensue.



Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] She has yet to confess…but we know it’s her.

[2] Please, don’t waste your stereocilia by listening to the song.

[3] And if the pattern continues, it will be every other night.

[4] After Belle took a billiards class when she was in 8th grade, we sold the piano she never used (but had begged for when she wanted to take piano lessons, which lasted all of 3 months) and bought a used pool table. Ever since, our living room = the pool room. One of the best trades we ever made – the room gets used!

[5] And I did not have to pay that ticket, after a judge, reading the note of apology/explanation I sent in with the fine, returned my check to me.

[6] and included a pathetic, tell-it-to-the-judge whine, if this was a 30 minute spot only why did the parking machine allow me to buy two hour’s worth of time ?

[7] My favorite of the many stories I’ve read about parking ticket rage.

[8] More ickily and sadly, she has several times reminded us ( and our children, her grandchildren) how disappointed she and my FIL are that we have “rejected god.”

[9] apparently, it’s a nationwide franchise, in mostly southeast & southwest states.



Pomp and Circumcision

Or whatever that graduation song is

Was it only…or already…four years ago that I was feeling a wee bit teary-eyed at the opening strains of that classic commencement chorus [1], watching K in his ill-fitting blue cap and gown descend the stairway in the high school gym?  And there it was again, last Sunday. On a cloudy/sunny afternoon in Tacoma, K’s sister Belle, his father MH and I watched him graduate from the University of Puget Sound.



*   *   *

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Wasp nests on car doors and….


*   *   *

Department of Nuance Comprehension

While the smoke is still clearing from the next religiously-motivated suicide bombing, there will be some blithering apologists well-meaning but naive PC advocates who’ll whine that the terrorists aren’t “true” believers, and that “Islam is a peaceful religion – in fact, Islam means ‘peace’…”.  Then, when Bill Maher (or someone else with a public forum) points out  

* the numerous passages in the Koran and the Hadith that call for violence against infidels and heretics
* that “Islam,” in fact, translates as “submission”

he will be pelted with pejoratives, ala “Intolerance! Islamophobe!”


Children, use your words, and use them appropriately.

Correcting misinformation is not intolerance. Stating a fact, even an opinion, is not intolerance nor evidence of _____- phobia.

I was on the receiving end of similar [2] accusations of censorship and intolerance when I posted a picture, taken during the afore-mentioned graduation trip, of stickers I placed on the inside cover pages of the religious book I found in my hotel room.




Whenever I travel I carry a supply of “warning stickers.” [3] These stickers may be placed on the inside covers of the religious books (mainly Gideon Bibles [4] ) that often infest are found in hotel and motel rooms. The book remains in its entirety; the sticker(s) “censor” nothing, but merely serve as a playful prank to (hopefully) tweak the curiosity of those who might not know much about the inappropriately-nicknamed good book and who the heck that Gideon character was.

The warning labels on cigarette packs are just that – warning labels. They neither censor nor destroy the pack, and the cigarettes contained therein are still widely available for purchase. The labels simply warn that cigarette smoking causes pulmonary and heart disease and is linked to a variety of other morbidities.

So. Back to nuance comprehension. All together now. This:




Is not this:



Who does not understand the difference?

Some well-meaning users of social media (and other venues), apparently.

*   *   *

Department of What Goes Around Comes Around
(or so I can dream)

Dateline: last week, a sporting goods store. As I stood in line to check out after using the venue’s indoor archery range, a large, bear-shaped man reeking of cigarette smoke passed by.  On one of his massive forearms he had a tattoo, in that faux-Asian bamboo font

bamboo font

which read, in all caps:



Friends, family, readers of this blog, religious conservative batshit crazy wing nuts, people with differing political and religious viewpoints – y’all know I am not averse to the shrewd application of 80 Proof Language ® . And, there do seem to be times and places and people for which GFY is the only rational reaction.

But, really. Of all the ways to present yourself to anyone…to the world….  Is this really how you want to “introduce” yourself to people who have given you no insult or caused you no harm – people whom you’ve never even met but who, due to proximity, find themselves confronted and affronted by the brusque directive on your hairy forearm?


braying ass


Dude?  You extend your arm for a handshake with the boss – e wraps  GO FUCK YOURSELF. You reach down to pet your niece’s new puppy – GO FUCK YOURSELF. You return the good morning wave of your elderly next-door neighbor – GO FUCK YOURSELF. You raise your hand to salute a disabled veteran marching in the July 4th parade – GO FUCK YOURSELF.

From the looks of him, there’s a good chance Mr. GFY is going to need emergency medical care in the near future. Petty person that I am, I find it fitting to contemplate a certain scenario: one EMT rolls up the guy’s sleeve to start an IV, pauses, then tells her fellow paramedic not to bother attaching the cardiac monitor: “This guy has a DNR order and is refusing treatment.” They pack up their equipment and leave Mr. GFY…well, totally fucked, himself.

*   *   *

In the garage pantry I beheld the result of MH’s Costco trip, and asked him:

If we left the garage door open, do you think our Great Wall of Cheerios could be viewed from the space station?


*   *   *

Department of Ecumenical Ignorance Enhancement

Aka, my contribution to world peace.

I propose the establishment of Rosh Ramada Yo Mama, an interfaith observance combining aspects of  Rosh Hoshanna, and Ramadan, wherein Jews and Muslims set aside their differences and acknowledging their mutual suffering as they convene in substandard motels where they are served nothing but decaf instant Sanka between dawn and dusk.


Attention, Norwegian Nobel Committee members reading this blog: please send my Nobel Peace Prize award nomination notification via my snail mail address.


*   *   *

May your vehicles be wasp nest-free; may your observances be tolerantly subversive and fully caffeinated, 

and may the hijinks ensue.




Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *



[1] Altogether: always avoid alliteration.

[2] If much milder

[3] which interested freethinkers may acquire at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s website store.

[4] Placed in hotel rooms by The Gideon Society, the Mormon church and other religious groups – the lodging venues do not pay for them.

The Air Guitar I’m Not Strumming

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Department of Aesthetic Appreciation
This photo of daughter Belle was taken by a friend of hers at the UPS Women’s Rugby team’s end-of-season formal dinner.


*   *   *

Department of Confessions:
I was an asshole today.

Dateline: Monday 5-11

Walking in downtown Portland, on my way from errand #324.56 [1] to meet a friend for lunch, I began to cross a street where, as a pedestrian, I had the right of way. I still of course checked cross traffic before proceeding into the intersection. A car approaching from the right heeded the stop sign but “hurried up to it,” if you know what I mean and I think you do.

When I noticed the car was a A Shiny New Black Porsche With Tinted Windows ® , I slowed my pace, from purposeful stride to aimless saunter. Petty person that I am, I gloated to myself, Dude, you can afford to wait.

*   *   *

What a Difference a Vowel Makes

I gave a cursory glance to an article in Monday’s New York Times about an important figure who chose to miss a series of important meetings with President Obama scheduled for this week, then thought to myself,

Well, yeah, what with swimming upstream to meet with his lady friends you think he’s got better things to do…oh, wait, that can’t be right.

A more careful reading of the article’s headline indicated that was Saudi Arabia’s King Salman who had chosen to skip the meeting.

Ahem. That’s King Salman,

"No spawning for you, infidel!"

“No spawning for you, infidel!”

and not King Salmon.

Hurry up, we don't want to keep the President waiting.

Hurry up, we don’t want to keep the President waiting.

*   *   *

Washington State Follows Old Testament Advice

Who knew our liberal neighbors to the north were closet bible-thumpers?  Apparently, when the citizens of Washington voted to legalize both gay marriage and recreational marijuana, they were heeding the admonition found in the book of Leviticus:

 “If a man lays with another man, as with a woman, he should be stoned.”

*   *   *

I was standing in a line at a store and, apropos of nothing, began thinking about those precious name spellings you sometimes encounter at certain introductions of certain people:

My name is Cindy that’s spelled Syn-De-E…

This led to further futile brain spinning deep consideration; specifically, I wondered if somewhere out there, someone – possibly one of the Portland Hipster baby-fedora-sporting fathers whom my friend SCM [2] encounters at her child’s OMSI Homeschool Science Club and other classes [3] – is introducing himself thusly:

I’m Liam’s and Leo’s daddy – that’s spelled Dad-De-E…

PIX: hipdad

*   *   *

Speaking of Hipster Shit
(Aka, FFS, Dude, wash your hands and don’t touch your face when you visit the toidy)

How many times have you gazed upon one of the long, scraggly, wooly face mammoths that are inexplicably yet currently in fashion among hipsters and baseball players, and thought to yourself,

What a shitty-looking beard.

Turns out, you were righter than you know. Because, science.

A group of microbiologists in New Mexico did a swab study of of men’s beards and discovered that many contained more…er…”poo microbes” than the average toilet bowl.

“I’m usually not surprised, and I was surprised by this,” New Mexico microbiologist John Golobic of Quest Diagnostics said to a local TV news station. “Those are the types of things you’d find in (fecal matter). The “degree of uncleanliness” was so “disturbing,” Golobic said, that if similar bacteria were found in a water supply, it would be closed for disinfecting.

Why is there not a disinfectant app for this?

Why is there not a disinfectant app for this?

*   *   *

Mark your Calendars
(Or, not.)

File this event under Not In A Million Years and/or Even If It Were The Last Entertainment Available In The Cosmos:

The US Air Guitar Finals is coming to Portland in August. I’m sure I’ll be busy that day – having my elbows waxed, or something. [4]

Although, if this come-on – “a guest post by the organizer of the Central PA qualifier, which took place on April 25th” –  doesn’t get you interested in the cognitive retardation masking as sport “art” of Air Guitar, what will?

The Amish Airssasin opened the evening with a hip-gyrating experience…rumor has it that wasn’t a pair of socks enhancing the efforts put forth by his leather pants. A trio of airists  airy—Rear Admiral Kickass, Dirk Smathers, and AirMiller—ensured the area will enter into a lifelong co-dependent relationship with air guitar.

Rear Admiral Kickass warms up for the regional finals.

Rear Admiral Kickass warms up for the regional finals.

*   *   *

May all of your encounters with facial hair be fecal-matter free,
may you safely saunter in front of the luxury car of your choice,
and may the hijinks ensue. 


Thanks for stopping by. 

Au Vendredi!



[1] Getting a graduation card – yikes! – for K.

[2] She of the multiple slash identities, including attorney/writer/social mores critic/reluctant homeschooler….

[3] Note to such men: if a mother in one of those groups asks you a question or shares an observation, she is merely trying to be civil/relieve the tedium by making adult conversation. She is not coming on to you, so get over yourself.

[4] Most likely I’ll be writing more footnotes.

The Offer I’m Not Accepting


A Nice Way To Start The Week

Dateline: Monday, ~ 7:50 am, out for my morning walk. On my way back home I approach a path that cuts through a local park. The path starts near a sidewalk which is a school bus stop for one of the local high schools. Three groups of kids wait at the stop:

* two Latino boys to the far right of the sidewalk, their laughter carrying a block away.

* three girls “in the middle” of the sidewalk, about ten feet away from the boys, are talking with each other. The girls, who appear to be Asian and Latina, are slim, fashionably dressed, and gorgeous.

* and one…well, not a group, but one student stands far to the left of the others. The one is a very tall, very chubby, very white and very lonely looking boy, hair and clothing by Nerdstyle. His gaze is fixed downward at his ratty, generic sneakers.

The dynamic seemed obvious.


One of the girls glances over her shoulder at Lonely Boy. She looks back at her group, at the other two boys, then leaves her friends and sidles over to Lonely Boy. As I approach and pass by them I hear her ask him about his project.[1]  I also catch the look on Lonely Boy’s face – the shy but noticeable, hopeful, gleam in his eyes.

Someone is paying attention to me.

The act and consequence, however fleeting, of a moment of connection and kindness…. It stayed with me the rest of the day.

*   *   *

The preceding warm fuzzy was brought to by The Treacledown Theory. We return you to our regular shit-talking programming.

*   *   *

Department of Burning Bridges

This week I received the following offer for publication:

First, let me apologize for the serious delay in my response.  Second, we would love to publish “____________” (name of my story) in ___________ (journal name), for publication in 2016.  I understand there is a good likelihood this piece been picked up elsewhere.  Please let me know if it’s still available.
Thanks so much for your submission. ____________(Editor name)

I had long ago written off that submission (which I do with any submitted work when the editors have not replied within their journal’s stated length-of-reply period) as an assumed rejection.

The story Redacted Journal Name wants to publish was sent to them, by moiself, in January 2012. No, that is not a typo. Longest reply ever. One thousand fifty-four days to consider a 3000 word story. [2] Also, this journal “pays” their contributors only in copies of said journal. [3]

I think I’ll wait…oh, maybe three years or so…to decline their generous offer.

burning bridge

*   *   *

More From The Wacky World o’ Literature Files

I’ve been a writer for some time, submitting my work, having it be both accepted and rejected. In years of doing so I’ve had many Interesting Experiences, ®  and two Standout Experiences this week alone (one of which is the afore-mentioned longest reply ever).

Interesting Experiences include having manuscripts returned to me that I neither submitted nor penned. That is, I’d sent a manuscript of mine to a publisher, and that publisher returned to me a manuscript that was not mine – one that had been submitted to the same publisher, by another author.



These mistakes I found both amusing (okay, my manuscript was not right for you, but you couldn’t just say “No, thanks,” – you had to send me someone else’s rejected work?) and alarming (Yikes – is this the attentive care you take with all of your submissions?).

In each case of errant manuscript return, the other authors’ last names also started with a P or were vaguely similar to mine (I assume the errors were blamed on overworked or alphabetically-challenged editorial assistants). After alerting the publishers of their respective mishaps, at their request I destroyed the manuscripts…but not before reading the opening pages or chapters, [4] and doing so has given me a high appreciation of what publishers and editors must wade through on a daily basis, and an even higher suspicion of self-published works. [5]

So. On to this week’s Standout Experience #2.

Never have I been addressed as Mrs., nor have I ever used that title, either personally or professionally. This week I received a reply to a query, from a publisher who addressed me as Mrs. Parnell. That is something I’d expect from junk mail/catalog come-ons, not from a publisher…who, BTW, who knows nothing of my marital status, which should be irrelevant in professional correspondence, anyway.

Professionally or personally, it is wrong to refer to me as Mrs. Parnell. I have been, and always shall be your friendDammit, Spock – cease the mind meld at once!

Live long and apologize when necessary.

Live long and apologize when necessary.

I’ll try that again. I have been, and always shall be, Ms.-Parnell-please-call-me-Robyn.

MH, renegade trendsetter that he is, kept his birth surname when we married. So did I. I have never been a Mrs. Anyname.

In over twenty-seven years, editors and publishers have always addressed me as Ms. Parnell. It just struck me as…odd. I was annoyed by that salutation coming from a publisher, then annoyed by my own annoyance.


*   *   *

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
(George Bernard Shaw)

Now that I have Mr. Shaw’s permission, I shall spice my conversation:

Our purpose in life isn’t outsourced.
(Robyn Parnell, re how the religion-free create meaning in life)

“…all ministers are slave-traders – all Christian ministers (Paul called himself a slave, Jesus said you should become captive and you should submit and deny yourself ). They are preaching a backward message about life and about purpose.”
 (excerpt from an interview with Dan Barker, Freethought Today radio podcast, 3-14-15 [6])

Yep, that’s  Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Dan Barker, himself a former evangelical minister, referring to megachurch pastor Rick Warren and other such pastors as slave-traders, in an interview about Barker’s new book, Life Driven Purpose. LDP, published by Pitchstone Publishing, aims to be “the first atheist book shelved in the inspirational section” of bookstores.


According to Barker, the whole point of the book is to “flip everything around,” as per the message from books like the Rev. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, and other “inspirational” titles which claim people cannot have a life of meaning without (their particular brand of) religion. More excerpts from Barker’s interview:

The good news in a nutshell is that there is no purpose of life – and that is great news! Because if there’s a purpose of life, that means we are secondary; we’re having to look up somewhere for someone to hand it to us – ‘here’s what you are’ – we’re like slaves, we’re like servants to whoever this boss is, as the Bible teaches. But the really great news is that although there is no purpose of life – and we shouldn’t want there to be, because life is its own reward – that doesn’t mean that there’s no purpose in life…. Atheists and nonbelievers have immense purpose in our lives….

“I think we atheists are truly in-spired, while (religious) believers are out-spired. They don’t have any in-spiration; they have to get it all from someone outside of themselves telling them, ‘Here’s your marching orders; here’s your rules to live, don’t think for yourselves – it’s not about you,’ like Rick Warren says. We atheists and non-believers find purpose and meaning, we create purpose and meaning within ourselves.”

Whenever I run across a reference to Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, I find myself wondering what purpose drove Warren when he visited Uganda in 2008, where he supported Ugandan Anglican’s bishops in their boycott of other Anglican’s  support for LGBT/human rights  and declared that “homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus is not a human right,” after which the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (originally called the “Kill the Gays Bill”) was introduced in the Ugandan parliament.  [7]



Dan Barker’s book will be released in April, and can be pre-ordered from the usual outlets.

*   *   *

Department of There Needs to Be Such A Thing

After friend SCM brought her yummy-yum-yummers potatoes to our Sunday St. Patrick’s Day-The Ides of March-Pi Day-Mardi Gras-Spring celebratory dinner, I suggested she and I form PLASMA, which is a scrambled acronym for what would be the Lumpy Artisinal Mashed Potato Appreciation Society. [8]

While I appreciate pureed foods in many forms, I am suspicious of mashed potatoes that have no lumps or “substance” whatsoever. Totally smooth mashed potatoes are a template for lefse but, IMHO, have little purpose outside of that. I prefer my MPs to have texture; i.e., chunks of delicious potatoes.

I volunteer to assume the duties and responsibilities of PLASMA’s The Dowager Lumpy. I will gladly accept suggestions for the title to be bestowed upon the genteel (and gentile, to boot) SCM.

Mashed potatoes without lumps? How middle class.

Mashed potatoes without lumps? How middle class.

*   *   *

Department of It’s Obvious, Dude

To the residents of the really-needs-the-lawn-mown-and-siding-painted house, every window of which is covered with aluminum foil and/or an American flag:

Wouldn’t it just be easier to hang a sign on the front door that says, We cook meth here?

nothin' to hide in here, no sir.

nothin’ to hide in here, no sir, officer sir.

*   *   *

May your salutations be appropriate, may your mashed potatoes be lumpy, may your view stay foil-free, and may the hijinks ensue.



Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] The high school they attend has a mandatory Senior Project for graduating students, and this would be the time of the year students would be working on their projects.

[2] That’s 2.6 words a day. Of course I did the math.

[3] I no longer submit work to publications that offer no monetary compensation to writers.

[4] I at first thought they might be my works, and each time this happened I wondered why the publisher had taken the time and expense to return my ms., despite my having clearly requested in my cover letter that the publisher follow the industry standard on hard copy submissions (which is to destroy/recycle the ms. and reply via the enclosed SASE).

[5] I cringe to think that those would-be books I read could make it to publication without having gone through the “gate keepers” (i.e. they were in need of severe editing)…and suck writing can, nowadays, thanks to the self-publishing industry.

[6] Yes – almost the best Pi day date ever!

[7] Rick Warren was not the only American conservative minister to export their anti-LGBT propaganda to Africa.

[8] Artisinal because you can’t spit without hitting artisanal something in the Portland area.

The I’m Proverbs Not Quoting

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 Happy Half Birthday to MH!

Yes, we celebrate such things.


*   *   *

Last week I saw the proverbial Woman Who Went Out In Public Wearing A Housecoat And Slippers, And With Her Hair In Curlers ® . She didn’t even bother to wear a hat or a scarf to cover the curlers – I didn’t know that there were women who still wore hair curlers, or that such curlers are still being made.  They seem like such a childhood remnant, of Something Old People Did.


This public place was a grocery story. Now, I’m not exactly known for my vanity (read: for having much about which I could be vain), but I can’t imagine what would prompt me to leave the house, looking/dressed like that. [1]  As I walked behind her I realized that there was something worse than walking around in public dressed in a tatty house-thingy and curlers, and that thing is this: I felt an urge to whip out my phone and snap a picture of her.

All together now:  Bad, non-compassionate person.

I was able to restrain my photo-urge, in part because I began to wonder about how the word proverbial; specifically, how it came to mean something so well known as to be stereotypical…along with its original meaning, which is something related to a reference in a proverb.

Have you read any of the biblical proverbs lately – as in, from the book of Proverbs? Some seriously wacky shit fun stuff.

19:24 A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.
(not sure what this particular piece of whackadoodery means, but it’s fun because, bosom.)

20:8 A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
(Those are, like, some serious laser eyes).

(22:15) “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
(Beating kids will make ’em less foolish. What time is it – have you beaten your child today?)

26:11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
(Well yeah, there’s that.)

(28:5) “They that seek the LORD understand all things.”
(which explains the glut of Fundamentalist preacher Rhodes Scholars and Nobel Prize-winning scientists.)

The Department of Graceful Segues has failed me. There’s just no way out of this one, except for an inspirational visit from the Farting Preacher.

*   *   *

Department of Someone It Would Be Easy To Hate Because He’s so Fucking Talented in So Many Areas But Damned If He Isn’tThey  Also Wise and Compassionate and Funny and Self-Effacing and….

…and doesn’t take himself too seriously, as per this photo of him rapping in a college [2]talent show.

Kim raps


That would be Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Korean-born American physician-anthropologist-Dartmouth College President, World Health Organization AIDS Dept. Director, MacArthur Fellows Genuis Award Winner, head of the World Bank, who  just likes to show up at my house every so often for tea and conversation about the world’s problems was featured guest on a recent Freakonomics radio show.

And he probably makes his own bread from scratch.


Actually, it's not bread – I make pasta from scratch. But, I'm working on perfecting a sourdough starter which will also provide the world with a renewable, carbon footprint-free energy source.

Actually, it’s not bread – I make pasta from scratch. But, I’m working on perfecting a sourdough starter which will also provide the world with a renewable, carbon emissions-free energy source.

*   *   *

Department of Spontaneous Trips to Tacoma

Because when you are doing one of the Portland Hill Walks with your husband on a late Sunday morning and your nineteen year old daughter texts you from college, saying she misses seeing her parents and would you consider making a “day trip” up to see her..

You gotta go, if you can.

I’d forgotten that the following day was a holiday, for MH at least (our offspring, K and Belle, did not have a day off from classes, nor did the rest of the students at the University of Puget Sound). MH remembered this, and said that if we really wanted to be spontaneous….  One point five hours later we’d returned home, thrown overnight necessities into dufflebags and were headed north on I-5, MH driving while I tried to make last minute cat-house-sitting arrangements, [3] procure overnight lodging, and coordinate Belle and K joining us for dinner that evening.

It turned out to be a whirlwind, great trip, [4] fantastic, spring-teaser weather, and a bonus parental reassurance of seeing our daughter with her wrist cast [5] and noting that everything is going to be fine.

 I heartily approve of Tacoma's Commencement Bay policy banning bicycling at low tide.

I heartily approve of Tacoma’s Commencement Bay policy banning bicycling at low tide.

*   *   *

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year –– to  my sister-in-law, JP, and to all Chinese-Americans, and Happy Lunar New Year to all Asian Americans.

The Lunar calendar designates 2015 as the Year of the Goat…or sheep or ram. There seems to be some disagreement as to the interpretation of the Chinese character yang, which can be translated to mean goat, sheep or ram in English.

Because of K & Belle’s years of ZooTeens work at the Oregon Zoo, our family has learned about and become fond of goats.  Thus, I will take the liberty of wishing everyone a Happy Year of the (cute screaming baby) Goat.


*   *   *

Belated Valentine’s greetings to everyone, in the form of this delightful, Darwin-inspired love song, It’s Only Natural, written by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s co-president Dan Barker [6] and performed by singer Susan Hofer.


*   *   *

May you enjoy what comes naturally, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] An emergency of some kind – you wouldn’t find me in a Safeway.

[2] He has multiple degrees, from both Brown and Harvard, of course.

[3] The amazing LAH to the rescue, once again!

[4] Although note to young people: there’s no such thing, for your decrepit parents at least, as a “day trip” that involves a 3.5 hour drive one way, which means a 3.5 hour return drive.

[5] Injury noted in last week’s blog post, Student vs. Brick Wall.

[6] Barker is a pianist and composer with over 200 published songs, and still receives royalties for Vacation Bible School musicals he wrote back in the ’70s when he was an evangelical Christian pastor (“Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “His Fleece Was White As Snow” )…royalties he now donates to Freethought causes.

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