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The Virus I’m Not Defeating

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I do not do well with fevers. My own, that is (I have no problem with yours). This may be your brain on drugs, but it’s mine when my temperature rises above 100.º

BRAIN

 I woke up Tuesday morning and promptly wished I hadn’t.  Fever, congestion, cough-sneezing and sore throat.  I’d felt something coming on Monday, uttered those famous last words (it’ll go away) to myself, and tried to rest most of the day, in order to fulfill my March 5 World Read Aloud Day commitment.  I was scheduled to read excerpts from The Mighty Quinn to two classrooms: Tuesday eve at 9 p Pacific Time (which translates to 10 am March 5, Pakistan time) to a classroom in Karachi via a Skype call, then on Wednesday to a classroom in Seattle.

I tested my Skype connection, practiced (whispering, to save my increasingly hoarse voice) my excerpts and set my phone alarm for the evening, so I wouldn’t sleep through the call from Pakistan.  I assumed the fact that I looked like something the cat dragged in – and we have four cats, so that’s a lot of dragging – would be attributed to the computer connection.

oh, poor widdle yuppie model, pretending to be sick - dude, never have I looked this good, even at 98.6º and even when...not a dude.

oh, poor widdle yuppie model, pretending to be sick – dude, never have I looked this good, even at 98.6º and even when…not a dude.

The call from Pakistan never came.  My attempts at connection were for naught, as the teacher remained offline.  Then, the next day, when my fever rose, I had to cancel the WRAD session with Seattle, when I realized that being conscious (not to mention vertical) for 30 minutes was not an option.

Wednesday eve I told pathetically whined calmly articulated to MH how in the last couple of days, the most exercise I’d gotten was putting my socks on when I got chilled and then taking them off five minutes later when I was feverish and overheated.  With all due spousal support and sympathy, MH told me I seemed to be taking a Karate Kid approach to my convalescence.  Socks on; socks off….

wax on...wax off....

wax on…wax off….

 *   *   *

While cleaning my office last week I found a CD I’d purchased in December, buried under a stack of scratch papers.  So, this means that, for more than 8 weeks, I have been unmindful of the thereabouts of my “Mindfulness: An eight week plan for finding peace in a frantic world” guided meditation CD.  Does this mean I’m ahead of, or behind, the plan?

DOGOM

Wednesday eve my son sent me a link to a draft of his undergraduate research grant proposal, with the request that I give it a “proof.”  I’d warned him about my fever brain, and said I’d try to get to it…whenever.

Thursday morning my temp dipped to under 100º – yay!  (and then slowly rose as the day went by – boo.).  I took a copy of my son’s paper and my Red Pen of Proof ©   upstairs, figuring I could take a crack at it every fifteen minutes or so, between sleeping through whatever horrendous shows were on the Overheated Brain Pacification Device (TV).  Scratch that – my convalescent viewing was to alternate bouts of consciousness while playing my recently acquired, used-but good condition DVDs of the first season of Once and Again).

But I digress. The research paper. Working title: Investigation of the activities of MalA, a maltase from the predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.

Imagine my surprise, to find that sentences such as

GH13 enzymes are known to display a wide variety of hydrolase activities such as α-1,4-glucosidases, as well as isomerase and glucanotransferase activities. GH 13 enzymes specifically act on molecules containing α-glucoside linkages. GH13 enzymes employ the retaining mechanism, meaning that their product’s anomeric carbon will have the same configuration as their substrate’s anomeric carbon

 are somehow less intimidating to me when I have fever-brain. Instead of, WTF? my reaction is, wow, man…this is so true.

Oh, and to my amazing son, K:  Honey badger may not care if it’s your birthday tomorrow, but I do. Happy 21st to my guy!

Oh, and K – your sister has the best present for you, in the making.  Like all true works of art it won’t be done overnight, and I’m hoping she (and you) will let me post a picture of it here, when it’s finished.

*   *   *

 ҉    Let us pause for a moment to consider another one of life’s mysteries     ҉    

Nasty for any reason:  a paper cut.
But worth it:  when said cut is procured while opening a box of Lindt 85% cocoa Extra Dark chocolate.

Can you tell I minored in Philosophy? [1]

PIX:CHOC caption: just what the doctor ordered

 *   *   *

May your all fevers be fleeting, all your thermometers be oral, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] That’s a lie. Further proof of illness: only one footnote?

The VD I’m Not Celebrating

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Valentine’s Day.  I always thought that Hallmarkification of that day was a sexually transmitted malady, and thus enjoyed its abbreviation, VD.  But nowadays we have STDs, not VDs.  The new-fangled acronym spoils all the fun.

Anyway.

I know it’s a corporate conspiracy to make single people feel lonely and miserable, and make those who are coupled, happily or otherwise, feel pressured to spend big bucks and Do Something Special.  Still, if you can stand it, Happy VD, y’all.

CAGEpng

*   *   *

Oh no, the family moans, the Winter Olympics are here.

Summer or Winter games, I like ‘em both.  For two weeks, when the Olympic Games are televised, I have to fight the urge to nest on the family room floor and watch every event.

Some urges are easier to fight than others.  For instance, I don’t care to watch the luge, for several reasons.

1.  The name of the event, Luge, sounds to my eternally-amused-by-a-nine-year-old’s-sense-of-humor portion of my brain has something to do with boogers.
2.  It’s probably a blast to do, but it’s a rather passive sport to watch.  The riders hop on, and you watch them either hold on or fall off.
3.  The inward turned leg position a successful luge (there it is again!) rider must hold atop the booger-sled luge reminds me of salmon steaks.  And while I adore salmon in most any form, for some reason, I do not like the cut of salmon steaks. [1]
4.  Did I mention boogers?

LugeSALMON

Salmon steak, or luge?  Can you spot the difference? 

*   *   *

Tuesday morning I emailed friend LAH, another member of the <!–aAWWAF (Adult Women Who Adored Their Fathers) club.  L’s father, Jesse, died a little less than two years ago.–>

I wondered why I woke up thinking of you and Jesse.  Then I looked at my calendar: Chet died 5 years ago today.  Hmmm.

I also subsequently had  this email exchange with friend SCM (and daughter P):

My calendar says my dad died five years ago today, which seems at once bizarre and yet, “Oh, yes, it’s been five years.” 

One of the things-I-never-got-around-to-doing with him was to take him out for sushi.  Being both a seafood and soy sauce loving man, and willing to try anything (if his daughter recommended it), I think he would have liked it. If you & P are available I’d like to take you to sushi lunch, in Chet’s honor. 

Has it been five years? Damn. I am so sorry you never got to take him for sushi. Maybe it is a Kentucky thing, but ______ (SCM’s husband) will eat anything at least once. Or maybe it is a military food thing.

I think it may be a southern/poverty thing – they’ll eat anything at least once, because growing up dirt poor like my father did, I got the feeling he had to eat anything…and often more than once.

We met for lunch, at a sushi spot in Portland.  I took one of my most cherished pictures to show P:  of my father astride his Palomino stallion, “Stardust.” P was suitably impressed, and SCM said Chet was quite the handsome dude in his cowboy days, and also, that she saw a resemblance between my son K and his grandfather, something I’d never thought of before.

.chet on stardust

*   *   *

Happy Belated Darwin Day (February 12 [2]).  If you don’t already have this on your calendar, mark it for next year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our Darwin Day dinner celebration included Primordial Soup:

Primordial Soup (serves 3-4; soup is vegan friendly if you lose the dairy garnish)

-1T EVOO
- one medium white or yellow onion, chopped
-1/2 green and ½ red bell peppers, seeded and diced
-4-5 garlic cloves, minced
-1 small celery stalk and 1 peeled carrot, sliced
-1 generous t ground cumin
-1/2 chili powder (chipotle, if you have it)
-pinch of cayenne pepper
-2 c no or low-salt vegetable stock
-1/2 c frozen organic white corn
- ~ 2c cooked black beans or black soy beans
-chopped fresh cilantro and/or Italian parsley for garnish
- (optional) sour cream, Greek yogurt to garnish

1. In a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, sauté onions in EVOO ~ 8 m, until just starting to brown.  Add celery, carrots, green peppers, sauté for 2 m.
2.  Add garlic to pot, stir until fragrant (30 sec – 1 m).
3. Add remaining ingredients (sans garnish), bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot & simmer for 25 m.
3.5  Ain’t no step 3.5  You could do the prep dishes while the soup simmers. Better yet, floss your teeth (they probably need it) Since that won’t take 25 m, floss someone else’s teeth, too.
4. Let soup cool a bit, transfer to blender or processor and puree it, then transfer soup back to the pot.  Better yet, use a hand blender if you have one – and you really should have one if you frequently make soup – to puree the soup right there in the pot. More fun than watching a luge race!
5.Taste for seasoning: add salt, pepper, more cumin, whatever you’d like to taste.
6. Serve garnished with fresh herbs, and a spoonful [3] of cream or yogurt.
7. Wait for the complex organic polymers to arise.  Or, just enjoy the soup.

primordial soup

*   *   *

My son K’s FB message to me re the Bill NyeKen Ham debate:

ended up watching more of the bill nye debate.
man I want a sample of whatever ken ham is smoking.

There were those who thought Nye lost the debate just by showing up; that is, by legitimizing creationists’ whackadoodle alternate reality  [4] as being capable of rational debate.  Then there was the post-debate, informal poll on the website Christian Today, in which a whopping 92% of respondents – presumably, people who even know there is a website called  Christian Today — said that Bill Nye won the debate.

I suppose it comes down to how you define win.  Bill Nye got to do his geeky, sincere, Science Guy presentation, which perhaps sparked the teensiest seed of hmmmmm? in a few true believers who may have dropped their blinders just long enough to notice that Ham’s version of refuting scientific claims was the intellectual equivalent of a third grader’s Nyah yah nyah nyah nyah (“Well, you weren’t there so how do you know?).  Ken Ham got a wider-than-usual audience for his blind faith fables.

JESUSSAUR

*   *   *

There was the potential for a nasty, man-slap brawl at the Nye-ham debate, as there is when any testosterone-laden beings disagree. But the participants for the most part kept their cool.  Could it be that they suffer from….low T?

Pre-peri-post-persistent-paleolithic-menopause – when it come$ to redefining a human being’$ natural life a$ a di$ea$e proce$$ that mu$t be managed and treated (read: medicated),  Big Pharma ha$ pretty much exploited women a$ much a$ they can.

Menfolk, don’t say you weren’t warned.  It’s your turn.  And the trouser-snake oil purveyors know what’ll get your attention:  a T & A show! [5]

You may have noticed the increasing amount  of commercials, articles and emails – even  youtube videos, FFS – with such ominously titillating titles as How to Tell if Your T is Low and How to Increase Your Testosterone Level.  The underlying assumption the T-teams are trying to hammer into that Male Pattern Balding head of yours is that your natural aging process is faulty, and can and should be “fixed,”  Specifically, the ebbing of men’s  testosterone levels be bad, and increasing men’s “T level” be much more better.

Don’t forget to follow those links in the ads, which will take you up the creek down the yellow brick road to the products those fear-mongering, money-grubbing whitecoat quackery  selfless angels who are concerned only with your well-being have concocted to raise your guy-juice levels.

BEFORE

After

After

Although many if not most of these hormone peddlers will be wearing the Hallmark of Sciency Authenticity (a white lab coat  [6]), their spiels won’t contain anything resembling the real science behind the issue of testosterone supplementation.  It’s a safe bet that they won’t be touting the results of the Boston medical researchers’ trial which found that that men taking testosterone supplements had five times the number of “cardiovascular problems” [7]  vs. those taking a placebo (a finding which caused safety monitors to end the trial earlier than planned).  They’re trusting you’ll fall for claptrap about vim and vigor and the other/usual limp dick scare tactics and won’t want or care to read, say, articles like the one in this week’s New York Times Science section, A High Price For Vigor.

Testosterone declines naturally with age.  The lifestyles of many American men can exacerbate this decline; however, as Internist John LaPuma points out in his New York Times op-ed, Don’t Ask your Doctor About “Low T”, clinical testosterone deficiency “isn’t nearly as common as the drug ads would have you believe.”  And the “tried and true way to naturally boost testosterone levels” – losing weight, [8] limiting alcohol consumption, “eating more of the right foods and fewer junk foods”…well, that’s just not as sexy a sell as popping “a prescription for a risky drug to treat a trumped up disease.”

I pity the fool who thinks Mr. T needs more T

I pity the fool who thinks Mr. T needs more T

*   *   *

 Linguistic  Rumination

Why is “trousers” such a great word?  You can wear pants or slacks, britches or breeches or knickers.
But if given my druthers [9] (another great word!), I’d choose trousers.

But not these, even if they were the last trousers on earth, and wearing them would bring world peace and cure cancer.  Nope. Sorry.

But not these, even if they were the last trousers on earth, and wearing them would bring world peace and cure cancer. Nope. Sorry.

*   *   *

Sometimes It’s Better to Stay Awake and Organize The Sock Drawer 

I had a dream.  Not your noble speech-inspiring, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. I Have A Dream kind of dream. Rather, it was the kind of dream where you are trying to wake yourself up because the dream really sucks, and finally you do wake up, but damned if you don’t fall right back into it when you close your eyes.

I had been conscripted into the army.  They had given me a backpack and a list of supplies with which to fill the pack.  I was concerned that I didn’t have enough wool socks, and should I bring a toothbrush and vitamins and…?  It was getting late; I didn’t want to report for duty, but I had to.  At the check in station, which was in a large, airplane hangar-like building, I was directed to the “Welcome Area For New Recruits.”  I sat down at a large table with other conscripts, and we spoke of our mutual fears re what was in store for us.  I told them I wanted to talk to my dad before I left (ouch), because he knew something about war.  The other draftees, male and female, looked SO YOUNG to me, as if they were in junior high school.  I was my real/present age in the dream, and wondered why They (whomever They were) would want me at my age? And yet, in that out-of-character reality peculiar to dreams, it never occurred to me to protest.

SOLDIERSjpg

I woke up wondering about this pesky aging think.  If I had no mirror to remind me otherwise, on many other levels I can fool myself into thinking I’m still in my late twenties/early thirties.  So, how did I get to be the age I am?

In a moment of (what passes for me as) mathematical genius, I came up with

☼     THE FORMULA THAT EXPLAINS IT ALL [10]     ☼

Q:  “How did I get to be x (where x = your present age)?”

A. By not dying at x-1

You’re welcome.

But please, save the congratulatory phone calls. I need to keep the lines open for the Nobel Committee.

FIND X

*   *    *

Mathematical Rumination

You know what’s odd to me?  Numbers which are not divisible by two.

That's so funny my camel forgot to laugh.

That’s so funny my camel forgot to laugh.

May your worst joke delight your best beast of burden, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Give me a filet, any day.

[2] Chuck Darwin shares a birthday with Honest Abe.  Good to know.

[3] Or a dollop, if you prefer that term (and who doesn’t?).

[4] including such pseudoscience gems as humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction a few thousand years ago after peacefully using them for transport companionship (“Buford, Jethro, y’all seen Rex’s saddle?”)

[5] You were thinking T & A as in testosterone and androgens, right?

[6] Similar to the one worn by your veterinary tech or manicurist.

[7]  Including heart attacks and strokes

[8] Belly fat depresses testosterone levels, as do obesity-caused or exacerbated diseases like diabetes II, and also steroids and opiates and BPAs (commonly found in plastic food containers)….

[9] And please do give me some, because we’re all out of fresh druthers.

[10] Remember, all caps means, “this is where you’re supposed to pay attention.”

The I’m Erotic Cattle Abduction Scene I’m Not Writing

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Some authors should not go there

Sex.  As in, writing a sex scene. I find myself either yawning or cringing – sometimes both [1] – when I read them.  Rarely have I found a fictional account of a sexual encounter to be anything other than mildly ludicrous at best, and wonder, is this claptrap supposed to be erotic?

No entendre, double or otherwise, intended with the use of the word claptrap.  Although it would make a good title for a murder mystery novel.

Claptrap :  While on vacation in New York City, Kenyan homicide detective Yawanna Ubangi gets drawn into the investigation of an apparent female serial killer, a Femme Fatale whose M.O. involves weakening her lovers through intentional gonorrhea infections….

Hot damn, I may be on to something. I shall have to restrain myself, until I’m at least done with the first draft of the next Quinn book.

Once again, I digress.  Back to bad sex.

Case in point, the book I am currently reading.  I like the plot and most of the characters; I want to like the book in toto, but the author is making it difficult for me to do so.  There is something off-putting about the prose style I can’t quite put my finger on, and then, there are the intermittent sex scenes between the protagonist and her husband that make me never to want to put a finger on anything, ever again.  Not only are the sexual encounters awkwardly written IMHO, they are so…perfunctory, mechanical, and terse .[2]   I find myself wondering, in the most basic, high school Literature Evaluation sense, why are these scenes in the book in the first place?  What plot point or character reference do they serve to illustrate or advance?  Did the author feel obligated to include a minimum amount of whoopee, or was it an editor’s misguided marketing strategy (“There’s no sex in this book, FFS!”) ?

BADSEXjpg

*   *   *

Yet another reason not to follow a link on Facebook and end up wasting far too much time blowing steam about some hypercritical misanthrope

The link to a Huffington Post opinion piece was posted by friend RN, with the question, “You know, this is how A__ (RN’s partner) and I roll, too.  Are we extremists?”

After reading the article I had to wonder if RN had read it all the way through, for although I know that RN & A___ have generous spirits and kind hearts and have opened their home to rescue dogs, I can’t imagine they are anything like the extremely judgmental lady dick who wrote An Open Letter to the Person Who Left This Sweet Dog at the Kill Shelter.

The article is a hostile, self-congratulatory screed by a self-described “blogger, Dog Lover,” who takes to task – and threatens the safety of – the person who surrender an elderly dog with multiple health issues to a “kill” shelter.

“Warning – it’s not easy to read,” RN wrote re the article, referring to the details of the poor dog’s plight, I assumed.  Assumption #2: I anticipated my reaction would be similar to RN’s, until I followed the link and read the article…and felt compelled to reply:

Uh, it’s not easy to read because the author is a vile, judgmental, sanctimonious narcissist, who in truth knows little to nothing about the situations that may have led to a family surrendering their dog. 

My daughter and I volunteered for a no-kill animal organization [3]  and we met some of those people. “Pet surrenders” increased dramatically with the downturn of the economy, and for every jerk who turned in a pet that they just didn’t want anymore there were two grieving families, heartbroken over the fact that they had lost their jobs and their homes and/or leases (yes, our organization researched these surrenders and checked references), had no friends or family to take their beloved pet and had to choose between buy their own diabetes medication or their son’s anti-seizure drugs…. 

What little information is on an animal surrender intake sheet does not tell the whole story, and people are often reluctant and embarrassed to reveal their private miseries. That self-congratulating dog rescuer may have a heart for animals but I wish s/he’d extend the same compassion toward his fellow bipeds.

I could have gone on, could have mentioned the heartbreak of seeing the elderly pets “surrendered” by their elderly, loving owners who had fought for years to be able to stay in their own homes but due to illness/disability/dementia were entering nursing homes and had exhausted every resource to find a home for their beloved animal companions – stories way too complicated to fit on an intake form…. And no-kill shelters almost always have a waiting list.  A very long waiting list.  To assume that any person who “surrenders” an animal does so voluntarily and cavalierly frosts my butt.

And so, Blogger-dog-lover, this asshat’s for you:

AHat

*   *   *

It was time to send another care package to K, up at UPS.  I gathered a motley assortment of silly items ® and went to a certain store to get some cheap junk food inexpensive nutritious snacks to fill out the box. I also got him one of those paper fold out turkey centerpieces (one dollar, such a deal!), and wrote my suggested instructions on it: K should wait until his housemates are out, assemble the hideous thing tasteful decoration and place it atop the dining table. Once its presence has been noticed he should deny all knowledge of how it got there, and suggest that they have been the victims of yet another drive-by centerpiecing.

TURKEY

 Anyway….

I placed my items on the checkout counter conveyor belt along with my own bag, and for some reason flashed back to the first time I’d brought my reusable bag to the store (the name of which rhymes with Collar Free):  The clerk seemed to be in a hurry, and started shoving my items into a plastic bag seemingly before they’d touched the conveyor belt.  “Oh, wait please.” I waved my cloth bag while stating the obvious. “I brought my own bag.” The clerk’s eyes grew wide with concern as she transferred my items from the store’s bag to mine.  “I’m sorry,” she said, in the measured, you may want to sit down for this tone usually reserved for telling someone their favorite auntie has died, “But I can’t give you a discount for using your own bag. Store policy; it’s still a dollar, for everything.”

Uh, yeah, that’s fine. That’s not why I bring my own shopping bag, to get five cents off my total.  I didn’t even think of the bag rebate until you called it to my attention…but, now that you mention it, the injustice is sinking in and I am outraged, I am appalled, utterly appalled. GODDAMMIT I WANT MY NICKLE REFUND!  I AM NOT LEAVING THIS STORE UNTIL I GET MY NICKLE BACK OR YOU GIVE ME ONE OF YOUR PLASTIC BAGS.

REUSALE

It has rained several times this week, after last week’s glorious burst of late summer sun and high temperatures. The first rainstorm of the season – I love the way it smells.  For some people, the return of the rain is enervating, but I find it energizing.  The harbinger of autumn, my favorite season. Bring it on.

*   *   *

SOAPBOX

One of my favorite comics from one of my favorite comic strips, Bizarro, shows two couples, beverage tumblers in hand, meeting at an outdoor party.  The husband of one of the couples extends his toward the other couple and says, “Hello, we’re the Hendersons. You must be the non-Hendersons.”

I can't afford whatever the fee would be to borrow a Bizarro comic, so use your imagination here.

I can’t afford whatever the fee would be to borrow a Bizarro comic, so use your imagination.

This shall make sense; bear with me.

The first rain of the season reminded me of other firsts.  Three of We (MH, Belle and I) are attending the FFRF’s [4] annual convention later this month.  This will be Belle’s first, Mark’s third and my fourth FFRF convention.  I’ve been fondly recalling one of the more thought-provoking moments at my first convention, which occurred during the convention’s customary non-prayer breakfast [5] .  The charming elderly gentleman seated next to me at breakfast outed himself as a “non-atheist.”  He said that although his wife was a “long-time atheist” he was a theist, and that he found it educational, intriguing and humbling to be in the minority, as he was likely one of the few non-atheists in the room.  Isn’t it funny, I replied, that you’re sitting next to another minority member…only in that I do not call myself an atheist.

I think words are incredibly important; they are what we humans, a non-telepathic species, use to communicate ideas.  And I can get picky about labels. Although some might find it amusing if not presumptuous for a freethinker to even attempt to persuade other freethinkers to think differently, I don’t like the atheist label and wish those who claim the word would claim…something else, instead.

There are several reasons for my dislike of the term.  For one, I find it to be a misnomer.  Also, I think Freethinkers, Humanists, Brights, Skeptics and others who accept and even embrace the A-label are making a semantic as well as a strategic/public relations mistake.

One of the best pieces of parenting advice MH and I received was that when it came to discipline we would need to “choose our battles” wisely.  We found that to be true; there are things not worth the fuss, and others that are so worth fighting for.  I think the battle to claim or rehabilitate the word atheist is futile; it has too many negative connotations and associations.  Of course, those associations were and are concocted and perpetuated by the religious and are largely and historically inaccurate, but since when has acknowledging that fact corrected a firmly entrenched misperception?  [6]

Personally, I’ve no “fear” of being called an atheist.  To the contrary, being thusly labeled has provided many an Entertaining Educational Moment, when I’ve reminded the person who used the word that we’re all atheists vis-à-vis our stance on other gods/religions, and that it is only relatively recently that “atheism” has come to mean a lack of belief in any gods (historically, an atheist was someone who didn’t believe in the god you believed in, and so Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Pagans, Moslems and Hindus have all been referred to, by those outside their respective religions, as atheists).

But that Educational Moment, no matter how entertaining, ultimately misses the point.  For if we are all Something in relation to Something Else, then Something has no specific meaning.  I find the Something that is atheism to be imprecise, and so I correct someone who applies that term to me, just as I would correct a mispronunciation of my name or misstatement of my height. [7]

The religious generally try to understand or dismiss atheism as just another (“false”) religion. That’s silly, of course, but that’s how they, in their minds, can handle it. One reason they get away with this is that self-labeled atheists involuntarily abet such faulty reasoning by allowing themselves to be defined in religious terms by religious people.  But atheism isn’t a religion, a philosophy, or even a world view. It’s not even an ism.

In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.

Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

"I believe, Elsie, I believe!"

“I believe, Elsie, I believe!”

I am not religious, and thus find it improper and even rude to be defined in terms of what I do not do, believe, or practice.  I am not a negation of something; like anyone else, I want to be defined positively, on my own terms, not in terms of my relation to someone or something else.  When it comes to politics, I’m an Independent, not an anti-Democrat, un-Republican, de-Green Party or dis-Libertarian.  I’m not an a-astrologist, a-New-Ager or a-theist; I am a Freethinker, a Humanist, a Skeptic, a Bright.

Let’s say I’m visiting my Floridian, Republican, Lutheran, tennis-loving, Gucci satchel-toting mother-in-law, Gladys. [8]  And let’s say Gladys gives the following description of me to her neighbor, Jethro:  “Her name is not Gladys, she’s not from Florida, she’s an a-Republican and an a-Lutheran, she’s not a tennis player or an Italian purse carrier, and she’s not my daughter.”

While technically correct, that description provides no pertinent information about me.  Jethro knows nothing of what I am, only a little bit of what, in relation to Gladys, I am not.

Another reason I don’t like the term atheist is that it elevates theism to the #1 position of the many things in whose existence or veracity I don’t believe.  It gives the false assumption that there is something out there (a supernatural world and/or deities) to deny. Yes, I do not believe in the existence of deities, but I also don’t believe in demons or ghosts or fairy godmothers or homeopathy or astrology or the trickle-down theory, either.

Most religious folk think they know what an atheist is, does and/or believes, but, in my humble opinion and experience, even the most academically challenged Fundamentalists can be intrigued by the unfamiliar.  Call yourself an atheist (or allow them to do so) and in their eyes, you’re pegged – beginning/end of discussion.   Call yourself a Freethinker, a Bright, a Skeptic, and you’ve set their ears (and sometimes…gasp…even their minds) atwitching.  (“Freethinker?  What exactly do you mean by that?”).

As a Bright, I hold a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural and mystical elements.  As a Freethinker, I hold that opinions or beliefs of reality should be based on science, logic and reason, independent of religion, authority, “tradition” or dogmas. As a Skeptic, I take a provisional approach to all fantastic declarations, and support the application of science and reason to test the validity of any and all claims. As a Humanist, I hold a progressive philosophy of life that bases my values and actions on a naturalistic worldview and affirms my ability and responsibility to lead an ethical life that aspires to the greater good of humanity.  And yes, if you are a religious believer you may call me an atheist (but be prepared for me to point out that you’re the one who’s the theist, not me, a- or otherwise).

Bright, Freethinker, Skeptic, Humanist, Happy Heathen, Apostate, Atheist, Heretic – I will embrace or tolerate any of those terms.  Although my title of choice would be “T’Saywhat, Galactic Sovereign of the Terran System.”

ZSAQUEEN

Queen T’Saywhat’s philosophy is to protect and enhance the earth, to enjoy life in the here and cultivate moral excellence, maturity and common human decency.  She would exercise her Galactic monarchical responsibility by requiring all humans to meditate upon the truths illustrated herein:

Get that Captain a charcoal seat cushion, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Which I am able to do thanks to years of yoga practice.

[2] Not that I’m complaining about a poorly written scene not dragging on and on and on….

[3] over five years with C.A.T. Cat Adoption Team

[4] The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s objective is to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to non-theism.

[5] Which begins with a “moment of bedlam” instead of a moment of silence.  Such fun before 9 am is illegal in most Islamsit countries. You really gotta be there.

[6] Greater and more articulate minds than mine have argued for dropping the A-label – most notably author and neurobiologist Sam Harris at the Atheist Alliance Conference, for which he was burned at the rhetorical stake, so to speak.  Hmm, are there Atheist Fundies?

[7] I am taller than you think.  I am taller than I think…in my dreams.

[8] Neither her real name nor her taste in handbags.

The Cufflinks I’m Not Inspired By

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 Cufflinks: these affordable imitations make you look rich at a fraction of the cost

I was thrilled to find out, via my email spam filter, that there is a more affordable way to fulfill my lifelong ambition to spend as little money as possible to “look rich.”

If I were a composer, that out-of-nowhere e-solicitation might be a source of artistic inspiration.  Odd/random snippets of information have provided the creative kick for many a song.  John Lennon famously wrote Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite after seeing a 19th century circus poster in an antique shop.  The brain nudge for yet another Lennon-penned track on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Good Morning, came from a breakfast cereal commercial.

Most of the ideas for my stories have come from what I call the what-if? question.  Following a seemingly haphazard visual, auditory or personal encounter, I find myself asking questions and/or posing scenarios and wahoo, story outline.

Cufflinks.  What if?  Cufflinks…cufflinks…cufflinks….  Nothin.’

*   *   *

So, it’s officially launched.  The Mighty Quinn had its release date May 14, which means I was finally able to download my e-version of my own book.  My publisher, Scarletta Press,  had sent me my author’s copies and readers who’d preordered the paperback version on Amazon and Barnes & Noble told me they’d begun receiving their copies two weeks before the 14th.  I was able to get TMQ’s tantalizing icon on my ereader two weeks before the release date, but could not access it until that very day.  I wanted to e-whine into my Nook, but I’m the author; can’t I see how it looks on screen, pretty please?

And now, I know. Yikes, and with a capital Y.  Here’s how the title page looks when the screen is rotated long side vertical.:

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*   *   *

Last week was must-see TV week in this house, what with the series and season finales of The Office and Grey’s Anatomy.  And then there was this unexpected entertainment from that bastion of reasoned debate and civic discourse, Meet the Press, Face the Nation Geraldo at Large.

Confession: I’d never seen the show (which, judging from the title, I thought was a reality show about the host’s battle of the bulge), until alert media critics called to attention the episode with a certain, guaranteed-to-amuse guest.

Ostensibly on the program to dispute NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s public health initiatives, conservative political foghorn commentator Ann Coulter managed to steer her anti-nanny state tirade to one of her favorite topics: naughty gay sex.  The always blithering quotable Coulter’s best line:

“Sodomy: we all have to pay.”

That’ll be $200, in cash, up front, Ms. Coulter.  Leave it on the sink counter, next to the mint mouthwash.

Poor Ann, still paying for it.  No wonder she seems so agitated.  Someone, please, send her a link to Craig’s List Casual Encounters.

*   *   *

One prays for rain, one prays for sun;
they kneel in church together.
Which of them, do you suppose
will regulate the weather? [1]

When someone asked Humanist Rabbi Adam Chalom to pray for a friend who had breast cancer, Adam said, “I have a better idea — give me her phone number and I’ll call her. Talking to her to lift her spirits, and make her feel less alone and more cared for, will do much more for her than talking to anything else.” [2]

To many people, prayer apparently provides the illusion of compassion and intention.  “I’m praying for ____ (your job search, a cure for Nana’s cancer, the tornado/ flood/hurricane/bombing victims…).”  No matter how sincerely you may hold that thought, all you have is the self-comforting (read: selfish) delusion of doing something, when, in fact,

You. Have. Done. Absolutely. Nothing. Except. Pray.

People in trouble, people in need, need your actions, not your carefully arranged thought patterns.

My point is not to bash the ignorant praying masses, nor make light of the latest tornado tragedy.  My intention, as always, is to promote reason and look reality in the face (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

And then, there is Wolf Blitzer.

Need I say more?  No.  But I will.

In case you were on a media-free retreat in an Indian ashram this week (or perhaps busy crawling out of the tornado-flung –debris from which your Lord and Savior neglected to save you [3]), you’ve probably come across the Ultimate Newsman Fail clip, in which CNN Evangelist Snake Handler Blessings Giver correspondent Wolf Blitzer keeps pushing an Oklahoma tornado survivor to mouth the obligatory Natural Disaster Survivor’s Pious Blather ®  .  Blitzer prattles on about how Rebecca Vitsuan and her family have been “blessed,” and when he insists, “You gotta thank the Lord,” a visibly bemused and flustered Vitsmun  gives that BlitzHole more civility than he deserves by politely replying, uh, no, that’s not gonna happen, seeing as how she’s an atheist.

It would make for a fascinating on-camera moment to see a real “news” correspondent ask some religious person (preferably your average, Sally PraiseDeLawd and not Pat Robertson or other religious pros) [4] the following question:   Please explain your understanding of why all those faithful believers living in in the heart of the Bible Belt died (no doubt furiously praying their asses off as the wind howled around them), while that unrepentant atheist survived.

Okay. I understand why many people appeal to their deities and call for prayers during times of loss and tragedy.  It is something I did (with varying degrees of confidence in the efficacy of the act) when I called myself a believer; it is a cultural reflex, a part of the human struggle to attribute cause and effect – or assign blame – for events we don’t understand or burdens we feel powerless to ameliorate.

But please, leave the god talk out of natural disasters.

I was elated to see the Oklahoma elderly woman’s on-camera joy at discovering her dog beneath the rubble of her home, the dog she’d assumed was dead…even as I cringed to know what was coming – the thanking of a god for not only saving her, but her dog:

 “I thought god just answered one prayer; ‘let me be OK,’ but he answered both of them.”

I would never want to quash the woman’s delight at having her beloved canine companion back.  If I knew her personally, and had an ounce of respect for her intellect and sentience, after her recovery I’d hope she’d have the opportunity to consider the conflicting, disturbing implications of truly believing what she said on camera.

1) If this supernatural being you prayed to exists, you believe he [5] has the ability and the willpower to intervene in the natural world, which is why you prayed for him to rescue you, and your dog.

2) If you believe this god used his divine powers to rescue your dog you must also consider that he did so while allowing human beings, including children cowering in terror in their schools, to suffer horrific, crushing injuries, and die.

3) This same god is now the object of prayers of gratitude from survivors, and petitionary prayers to extend his comfort to the brokenhearted families whose dead children were somehow less worthy of divine protection and intervention than one old woman’s dog.

prayer

I am being advised, on Facebook, radio, television, email petitions, by people who don’t even know me (as well as by people who do and should know better), to pray and pray some more – this week, for the tornado survivors.  Next week will surely bring another prayer-worthy petition.

And I realize it isn’t considered kosher to bring up this Uh, wait a minute, are you really thinking this through?  issue in times of trouble – or at any time, in a culture as superficial as ours.  Pandering religious sound bites of gratitude and “comfort” are the norm, and it’s a popular move for politicians, media mouthpieces and other public figures to Thank God for ____ or announce, as one newscaster did this week, while viewing footage of a tornado-razed school,  “We pray they [the faculty and children of a Plaza Towers Elementary] were somewhere else.” [6] But true religious believers cannot be taken seriously when they (claim to) apply reason to the rest of their lives, and then perform mental gymnastics worthy of an Olympic medal when it comes to their theology or worldview.

If your deity is all-knowing, it knew the tornado was coming yet “said” nothing. If your deity is all-powerful, it watched the tornado and did nothing. If your deity is all-loving and compassionate, it did not warn its beloved followers and  it did not prevent their violent deaths by stopping the tornado as it was being formed or by redirecting it to an empty prairie.

The deity whom you believe formed the universe with a thought and animated humanity with its breath and commanded a 40 day flood to rain upon the earth, this deity was unable to affect a minor change in barometric pressure to morph the tornado into a harmless rainstorm.  And no running away from it with the “the gods work in mysterious ways” crap.  If a god is unable to act, then it isn’t much of a god.  If you believe that this (or any) god exists then you must consider that this god twiddled its divine thumbs while a school building collapsed upon the heads of terrified and screaming children.

Social media has, of course, proven to be yet another venue for perpetuating the prayer nonsense…and also combating it, or at least pointing out its ultimate inefficacy.  An example of this is comic/actor/director and atheist Ricky Gervais,’s marvelous reaction to trending Twitter hashtags #PrayForOklahoma and #PrayersForOklahoma.

When MTV News tweeted, “Beyonce, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma,” Gervais’s commented:  “I feel like an idiot now.  I only sent money.”

Gervais went on to promote #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma, and suggested his 4.6 million followers give $10 to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts

Oh, and back to the dog. As caught on camera, the stunned puppy peeking out from the rubble was saved by human hands.  Humans lifted up the debris.  Humans pulled the dog to safety, held the trembling, whimpering animal, and comforted it.  No matter what their supposed motivation or attribution, it is our fellow human beings who pull us from the wreckage, help us heal, and rebuild.

*   *   *

In order not to end on too serious a note, have you ever wondered what would happen if you did a search for cutest reptile in the world?

lizard1

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Variously attributed to “Anonymous”

[2] Event also cited in author Dale McGowan’s insightful, witty and compassionate blog, The Meming of Life

[3] Or caused to be flung upon you. If you believe your deity is in control of such things.

[4] or at least waiting until the professionals have finished blaming those storm-causing homos

[5] I’m using the male pronoun because the elderly women did. Although I believe all supernatural beliefs, mythologies and superstitions to be gender inclusive.

[6] They weren’t.  Seven children died.)

The Writing I’m Not Typing

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 “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”
(Truman Capote’s dismissal of Jack Kerouac’s work)

You, too can be an author! At least, you can share in the experience shared by authors well-known and obscure, established and wannabe: the rejection letter.

In the tradition of the preemptive strike, the literary journal Stoneslide Corrective provides a vital public service, the generosity of which cannot be overestimated.  The Rejection Generator Project eliminates the need for you to take the time and energy (and whiskey) to actually pen an emotionally searing short story, witty roman à clef or evocative poem.[1]  Simply type in your email address and a terse and snarky rejection, composed by Certified Rejected Authorial Persons, [2] will be winging your way.

drunkcapote

*   *   *

Mark those calendars:

Middle Readers Night
May 14, 2013, 7:00 pm
Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, OR

As part of the local marking of Children’s Book Week celebration, Oregon authors Heather Vogel Frederick and moiself will be reading excerpts from and signing copies of our books (The Mighty Quinn, in my case, and Frederick’s Once Upon a Toad).  I am told that attendees will may be able to receive complimentary Children’s Book Week posters and tote bags [3], not to mention the one-of-a-kind opportunity to be misted by the spittle [4] of a Real Life Author ®, should you be in the first row during the reading.

Mickey's pasta emoting (from The Mighty Quinn, chapter 4)

Mickey’s pasta emoting (from The Mighty Quinn, chapter 4)

*   *   *

This Stupid Week In History…which happens to be this week

 A science project gone awry.

 From the Miami New Times :  16-year-old Kiera Wilmot, known at Bartow High School for being a “model student,” has not only been expelled from school, she faces felony charges for an “experiment” that went wrong. 

Wilmot reportedly mixed toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil, causing the top of a plastic bottle to rupture and smoke to emit.  Wilmot says she did it because a friend told her to, believing it would only cause smoke. 

Bartow High School’s assistant principal called police when Wilmot’s science teacher said he wasn’t aware of any experiment. 

Leah Lauderdale, spokeswoman for the school district, calls Wilmot’s actions “grounds for immediate expulsion” because they violate the school’s conduct code.  Section 7.05 of the school’s conduct code, Lauderdale says, mandates expulsion for any “student in possession of a bomb (or) explosive device… while at a school (or) a school-sponsored activity… unless the material or device is being used as part of a legitimate school-related activity or science project conducted under the supervision of an instructor.”

A sixteen year old girl did something most kids do at some point:  mixed up common household products in a plastic bottle because they heard that something amusing might result (how many baking soda and vinegar “volcanoes” did you try to make?). She did this outdoors.  The resulting “explosion” was not even adequate to burst the bottle, but merely popped off the top and generating some smoke.

No one was injured (save for the plastic bottle, which, as of this reporting, is refusing to comment), the principal was quoted stated that Wilmot simply made a “bad choice” and wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, but Wilmot was still expelled because school administrators are spineless fear mongers who have abdicated their responsibility to judge actions in light of context rules are rules.  Wilmot, described by the school principle as “a good kid,” who has “never been in trouble before. Ever,” will now reportedly have to complete her education in an “expulsion program” and may face a criminal conviction.

Mandatory expulsion for being “in possession of a bomb or explosive device?”  There goes every high school biology, chemistry and physics classroom, or certain students’ digestive tracts after burrito day at the cafeteria.

The student in question didn’t seem to be knowingly in possession of or trying to fabricate a WMD.  Rather, she did a dumb thing.  The punishment should fit the “crime” – perhaps a suspension, or a week of after school detention at a plastic bottle recycling facility.

The overreaction of administrators in this story reminds me of something that befell daughter Belle during her sophomore year in high school.  Ah, but when this happens to the child of a writer….  I’ve taken notes for a follow-up book to The Mighty Quinn, which just may include subplot involving false accusations brought against Neally [5] by school staff.  Let me just say that the adults involved in the debacle will not come out smelling like roses – more like a science project gone awry.

Oh yeah, and no plastic bottles will be injured during the making of the book.

"Stand back…" from  webcomic xkcd [6]

“Stand back…” from webcomic xkcd [6]

Have a great weekend, and let the (non-explosive) hijinks ensue.”

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] works which will probably be rejected anyway, I mean, whom are we kidding, are you that good, huh?

[2] Including yours truly.

[3] Assuming you arrive early enough and snatch them from the hands of children.  It’s a “While supplies last” deal.

[4] Why did I put so many S words in my novel?

[5] The title character’s friend and (unintentional) mentor.

[6]Randall Munroe’s  xkcd is a webcomic of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” You’d be way cooler than you already are if you’d it on a regular basis.

The Tulips I’m Not Tip-Toeing Through

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Do they still give out the Darwin Awards?

A 55-year-old man was taken to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center Monday after accidentally sparking a fire inside his downtown Portland apartment.  Lt. Rich Chatman, a Portland Fire and Rescue spokesman, said Rafael Borgos was smoking while using an oxygen machine, igniting the element and sparking the fire.

smoking

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers before its acceptance by Bloomsbury. Lord of the Flies was turned down by over 20 publishers, one of whom found William Golding’s manuscript “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was dismissed by one publisher with the curt counsel, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

Besides talent, imagination, hard work and perseverance, you need thick skin to be a writer.  The good news:  if you are one of those Sensitive Creative Types ® born without a hide as substantial as a rhinoceros’s, there is help for you.

Not content to rest on their laurels as one of the most prestigious online literary journals, [1] Stoneslide Corrective also provides an immeasurable service to authors via their Rejection Generator project:

“The Rejection Generator rejects writers before an editor looks at a submission. Inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they are less afraid of it in the future, The Rejection Generator helps writers take the pain out of rejection.”

 It’s really quite simple.  Give your email address to the Rejection Generator, and in a few minutes and you’ll receive a rebuff that is as random, dispiriting and annoying as a literary journal’s typical impersonal rejection, and you didn’t have to bother with formatting (or even submitting) a manuscript.

I was thrilled when I received an invitation from Stoneslide’s editor to provide “Guest Editor” rejection letters.  Don’t waste another minute of your valuable time trying to actually get some work done – get yourself to the Rejection Generator, and the next snide dismissal of your creative aspirations could be from moiself.

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More notes from the glamorous literary life.

Earlier this week I was researching A Certain Literary Agent, checking the agent’s listing on writersmarket.com and other writers’ resources.  I vet all agent and publisher listings against their citation on Preditors and Editors, an independent, clearing house-ish site wherein writers report their experiences with agents and publishing services.  “We’re hearing good things about this agent” is P & E’s remark about A Certain Literary Agent.  Perhaps this is due to ACLA’s list of Recent Salesto Publishers, which, among other intriguing tomes, includes the book How to Light a Fart.

My first reaction was, This is the agent for me!  Upon further reflection, an entire book on how to light a fart?  That was, at most, five minute tutorial at my grade school. [2]

*   *   *

 Speaking of students and their proclivity for and interest in emissions ignition, finally, a surefire way to get your kids interested in both science and history:

Passing Gas: a modern scientific history.

 *   *   *

I’m trying for a graceful segue to…something else.  Anything else.  Trust me.  It isn’t easy, once you’ve been bitten by the banana blaster bug. [3] Still, I shall endeavor to address more refined subjects.

Some of our most beloved literary works feature a disconcerting yet truthful depiction of the moral malaise of post-Industrial megalopolises. Brutally accurate renderings of the modern urbanite’s disdain for the ethical strictures of the bourgeois can be found in the novels of

Have you ever seen a cat fart on a waterbed?  It’s really funny.

No!  Stop!

Can you tell that my forthcoming book’s target audience is ages 9 – 12? [4]  Should my publisher and editors come across this blog post, they will no doubt heave sighs of relief to recall that The Mighty Quinn contains no references to characters piloting the posterior crop duster. [5]  Belching the Pledge of Allegiance, now, that’s another matter.

Yes, as per subject matter right now I’m in desperate need of an IQ elevation.  Where’s the Masterpiece Theatre theme song when I need it?

Much better.  Although I’m still in a mood.  Perhaps I’ve gone too long without seeing a new screaming goat remix video. [6]

Moving right along to This Stupid Day in Recent History:

April 12 is the birth date of Tiny Tim, American “singer” best known for his taste-free falsetto/vibrato renditions of vaudeville classics, and his many appearances on the 60′s sketch comedy program Laugh-In. T-Tim would have been 79 today had he not died in 1996 from stringy hair syndrome heart disease.[7]

Other notable/cultural April 12 milestones include:

1988:  Sonny Bono was elected mayor of Palm Springs California.
1966: Jan Berry of the surf-rock duo Jan & Dean received severe head injuries when he crashed his Corvette into a parked truck near Dead Man’s Curve in Beverly Hills. [8]
1954 – Bill Haley & the Comets recorded “Rock Around Clock.”
1934:  Highest velocity wind broke all records at Mt. Washington, NH, 231 mph.

That last citation was NOT a thinly veiled return to fart references.  But if you insist.

Breaking (sorry) headline of the week

From a NY Times story about prospective New York City mayoral candidates discussing the possibility that former Rep. Anthony Weiner (you remember the I got a rocket in the pocket of my mighty tighty whitey dude? [9]) might join the race:

In Mayoral Race, Would-Be Rivals Weigh a Weiner Bid

Someone got paid for writing that headline.  Is this a great country, or what?

Let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Their astute literary taste was evinced by their publication of my novel excerpt, “The Aunt“)

[2] Talented and Gifted student that I was, I mastered the basics in three minutes.

[3] Banana blaster: a long, quick, loud fart with a curved pitch like the shape of a banana.

[4] What is known in the (US) lit biz as “middle grade” fiction.

[5] Can’t you just write, “cutting the cheese,’  you euphemistic show-off?

[6] Why aren’t there more footnotes in this post?

[7] His cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” is guaranteed to send Nancy Reagan to a meth rehab facility.

[8] The song Dead Man’s Curve, which included sounds of a car skidding and crashing, was a hit for the duo in 1964.

[9] In May 2011, the married 46 year old Rep. Weiner tweeted photos of his underwear-clad, I’m-so-happy-to-see-you naughty bits to a 21-year-old female college student who’d been following his social media posts. In the ensuing scandal, dubbed “Weinergate” by a grateful press, other such pictures to other women soon surfaced, and Weiner resigned his congressional seat in June 2011.

The Bird I’m Not Putting On It

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I’ve lost track of how many and micra-leathermans I’ve had stolen by TSA agents and sold on ebay confiscated for national security purposes.  Thus, I greeted the recent TSA Announcement  – that they are lifting the ban on small knives and various sporting equipment in carryon luggage – by opening a can of It’s About F**ing Time.

The policy change, which will bring US airports in line with international standards, is based on a recommendation from an internal TSA group, which decided that nail clippers, tiny pocket knives and corkscrews represented no real danger, said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the department of Duh the agency.

Don’t you just feel like booking the next flight to wherever, and boarding with the largest allowable carryon bag filled with two golf clubs, a toy bat, ski poles, a hockey stick, a lacrosse stick and a pool cues…and, of course, your USS Enterprise pizza slicer.

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Speaking of national security issues, a New York man was arrested for laughing too loudly.  In his own home. [1] Yep.  Robert Schiavelli was charged with acting “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others,” after Daniel O’Hanion, Schiavelli’s next-door neighbor, complained to police that the man’s [2] laughter could be heard – gasp – across the driveway.

I’ve always assumed my driveway to be an impenetrable, almost sacred barrier protecting me from the giggles, chuckles, titters, tee-hees, chortles, and unrestrained mirth of my neighbors.  But…really?

I keep hoping to read a follow-up report, in which the complaining neighbor is arrested and charged with with acting in such a manner as to “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to the non-douchebag population of America.”  But until that glorious day, there must be a way to find this woman and pay her to stand in front of Mr. O’Hanion’s.

 *   *   *

Son K turns twenty today. It seems like only yesterday I was screaming obscenities at the delivery nurses and threatening to castrate MH counting the seconds until I could hold my widdle cootie wootie snookums ookums in my arms.  Happy Birthday, my boy.  This Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan’s for you.

*   *   *

On Monday I did my first volunteer shift at Jackson Bottom Wetlands, where I will be helping collect data for a small mammal survey.  While I was there I saw at two groups of small mammals:  first graders [3] on a field trip, traversing the trails with their teachers and adult chaperones.  One of the adults walked ahead of her group, to where I sat (just off-trail) with my data cards and supplies, and asked what I was doing.  I showed her a data card and started to explain that I was helping with a biologist’s small mammal survey. She waved her hands above her head, exclaimed, “Kids, come here, it’s a scientist!” and then quickly whispered to me, “I’m going to say you’re a scientist, okay?

Not wanting to act under false pretenses, I made no dubious claims for myself, but did my best to don the veneer of a madman bent on world domination a friendly, responsible scientist.

science

I showed the students one of the tracking papers, upon which was imprinted the paw prints of voles and other rodents that had sampled the tracking tube’s bait. There were ooohs and aaahs for a minute or so, then their teacher led them down the trail, toward one of the wetland’s bird viewing shelters.  A little boy turned around as his group was leaving and stepped back toward me.  He made eye contact, smiled shyly, looked at his shoes and said, “Good scientist-ing!”  I returned the smile, and the compliment:  “And good student-ing to you!”

One boy and his father apparently stayed behind after their group had returned to their school busses.  I saw exploring the trails, just the two of them.  They came to where I was finishing up refitting the last of the tracking tubes.  I gave the boy an inside look at the contraption, and told him how we used an upended film canister was used to hold the bait.  As soon as the words had left my mouth I flashed a knowing glance at his father and said, “What am I saying? It’s a digital age – he probably doesn’t even know what a film canister is.”  The boy’s eyes widened and he started telling me, in the great and glorious detail that can only be provided by an enthusiastic six year old, about how he uses a film canister to hold his “special dice collection.”

*   *   *

I assume y’all have made your plans for Pi day? The symbol pi, from the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet, (π) is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  Pi is usually calculated to 3 digits, 3.14, thus Pi Day is celebrated March 14 (which also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday).  On the annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi), you can eat pie, discuss the discussing the significance of the number π ,listen to the pi song…and have plenty of time left over to eat more pie.

In the past few years I’ve made special dinners on Pi day, serving different combinations of foods that are not necessarily pie but that are…well…round food.  I’ve no menu plan for next week, and haven’t yet decided how much thought I want to put into it.

When I can’t or don’t want to think too much about what to make for dinner, I have a fallback dish that I’ve come to think of as my Portlandia special:  put a bird on it.

http://www.ifc.com/portlandia/videos/portlandia-put-a-bird-on-it

Or, in this case, an egg.

I love my Portlandia dinner because it’s easy, tasty, healthy, and I can cuisine-it up or down:  Italian, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Moroccan, pacific Northwest …. even Norwegian [4].  Gather finely diced onions; carrots; celery; garlic; peppers; ginger – whatever base your cuisine fancy requires.  Sauté your aromatics [5] in a large cast iron skillet.  Add other sliced and/or diced veggies, greens, whatever you have on hand, whatever spices fit the taste you’re going for, some cooked grains or leftover plain pasta you have in the frig.  Or you can skip the stovetop and go the roasting route:  toss everything together with some EVOO and stick the skillet in the oven.  When the veggies are done to your preference, add the eggs.  One egg per person; crack each egg into a small bowl, gently press down with the back of a spoon to make a “nest” for each egg in the pan, add the eggs, and return the pan to the oven (if on the stove, cover it and turn the heat to low) until the eggs are set.

Top it all with a light sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan if you’re going an Italian or Mediterranean  route, or a dollop of Greek yogurt thinned with lemon or lime juice (for Mexican or Indian flavors), or other cheeses, any fresh herbs, and a good grind of black pepper.

*   *   *

The SCM Department of Because I’m Petty That Way

Ah, the cheap thrill, remembering that feeling akin to schedenfraude…. How do I adequately describe the perverse satisfaction I received the other day when I was driving home from an errand and had to stop at the stoplight by an LA Fitness Club?  I looked at just the right moment at just the right place, and saw a young(er), moderately fit woman attired in fashionable exercise togs exit the club, pull a bag of Cheese Doodies [6] (not to be confused with Cheetos ®  [7]) from her purse, and begin noshing like a bulimic on death row.

*   *   *

It was a slow week for politics…oh, that’s a lie.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Until this caught my eye.

rape

Karen, I’d advise you to aim the knife a good deal lower.

And let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Loud, uncontrollable laughter? It’s safe to assume he was not watching Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

[2] Schiavelli, who suffers from seizures and neurological impairments, told reporters his neighbor often taunts him due to his disability.

[3] Of the curiosity and excitement level that is so cute as to be illegal in many repressive countries.  Or Michelle Bachman’s congressional district.

[4] As long as you hold the herring and lutefisk.  And please, don’t tell me where you’re holding them.

[5] If you really want to put the joi in the joi of cooking, why not try some acrobatics while you’re prepping the aromatics?

[6] Not a real food.

[7] Also not a real food.

The Stamps I’m Not Licking

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Department of Petty pleasures and Cheap Thrills

I miss the stamps.

Although literary and publishers have the (deserved) reputation for being resistant to change and slow to adapt to technology, the past few years have seen even many of the olde-time journals modify their guidelines.  Publishers and journals who only accept hard copy/snail mail queries and submissions have become, in my experience, the minority.

Being able to submit manuscripts and correspond electronically has significantly reduced business expenses for me and other writers. I enjoy the lowered postage and paper and toner costs, and increased efficiency of correspondence.  But, I miss the postage stamps.

I’m no philatelic by any stretch of the definition.  Still, on the increasingly-rare opportunities when I have to mail a manuscript, I enjoy choosing the stamps for the task.  A sixteen page story, plus cover letter and SASE, requires 4 ounces of postage, and as much as possible, I will “customize” choosing the various stamp combinations which will total the necessary $1.50 for the first class/large envelope fee.

My customization is idiosyncratic, peculiar, [1] sometimes admittedly petty, and until this daring revelation, known by and meaningful to only moiself.  It includes such “guidelines” as:

* When submitting to journals with all-male names on the masthead, I choose stamps featuring female authors and artists

woman stamp

* When sending materials to publishers located in southern states with a history of slavery and/or segregation, I go for stamps honoring African-Americans and/or civil rights.

jordan

* For journals whose guidelines have overt or implicit religious or spiritual overtones, I choose stamps honoring scientists or other secular achievers.

science stamps

And now you know.

*   *   *

I don’t often watch the network news or any TV news.  For a reason that now escapes me I turned on ABC World News Tonight earlier this week and saw, for the first time, substitute host David Muir.  Muir is apparently a legit reporter [2] and not a Chippendale’s model posing as a newsman on special assignment for Donald Trump’s latest reality show.  I was taken…aback?  affront?  a-sideways? by his nudge-nudge-wink-wink delivery style.  His sly glances, his way of slightly turning to the side and then looking directly into the camera made me think there was some off-mic photographer urging him on (in a heavily exaggerated fake Italian accent):

“Yes, yes, zer zey are, give zem more, you makealove de to de camera…”

Hmmmm.  Maybe it’s just me, I thought.  Or, it’s something to do with the specific story he’s reporting.  I changed channels for a few minutes, then returned to ABC.  There he was, on with another story, and those playful intonations and coy mannerisms.  Every man, woman, and golden retriever staring at their television set was receiving this unmistakable subtext: “Yes, it’s true, I know what you look like naked.”

A Google search revealed that Muir is considered something of an “info Hunk,” a category I heretofore had no idea existed, by both gay male and straight female news groupies devotees.  Ah, the joys perils of enlightenment.

*   *   *

Department of Sorry, Too Late:

Republican governor Bobby Jindal tells the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.”

*   *   *

Should the USA and its allies prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and thwart North Korea’s series of underground missile testing?  Can the Social Security system be reformed, or should it be gutted and redesigned?  How can renewable, non-polluting energy sources be developed in the face of ongoing budget crises and societal inertia?  The answers to these and a myriad of other pressing questions are complex almost beyond belief.  But, thank the FSM [3], there is someone willing to tackle one of life’s most insidious dangers:  demonic possession of used goods.

Y’all might need to get out the smelling salts for this revelation.  You know that hideous vintage Rudolph the Red-Nose reindeer Christmas sweater you got for next to nothing at the thrift shop?  Did you think you were being a smart consumer when you got that crockpot at a garage sale instead of buying a new one? A certain religious evangelist, whose thoughtful intellectual discourse is rivaled only by that of a weed whacker, has some news for you.

In the World According to Telewhackadoodlery,[4] not only do demons exist, but these evil spirits can attach themselves to inanimate objects.  That classic thesaurus you found at the Goodwill for only $1.50 – you don’t really know where it has been, do you?  You’d better  pray the second hand Roget away , lest it rise up in the night and unleash its demonic [5] powers upon you.

Thus, the return of the Horseradish-and-Batshit Crazy Yap Flapper award
goes to perennial award contender, Pat Robertson

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Last weekend MH and had lunch at PF Chang’s.  As usual, fortune cookies came with the tab.  MH opened his, and unlike many fortune cookies, this one contained an actual fortune; i.e., a forecast or prediction.[6]  He read his aloud, we both had a laugh, and I eagerly tore my cookie in half and discovered…nothing.  No fortune; it was empty.  Apparently, there is no future for me.

 The busy week: Monday, Belle and I had our last CAT volunteer shift.  Due to financial considerations, the feline-exclusive, no kill-shelter is closing a couple of its outreach adoption sites, including the one at the Hillsboro Petsmart, where we’ve volunteered since 2007.  We’re still in a bit of shock and mourning over this, and hope to be able to volunteer for CAT in some other capacity in the future.  The closing of one volunteer opportunity freed me up for another one, and on Monday, I fulfilled a long-time I-should-do-this goal and interviewed at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.  I will assume weekly volunteer duties there starting next Monday, where I will be helping gather information for a biologist’s small mammal survey.  My new motto is:  I Love Voles.

This week also saw the beginning of high school track season, which means Belle juggles two hour daily track and field practices with an afterschool job, her Oregon Zoo Teen volunteer duties, and the homework that comes with taking a bajillion AP classes…and which means MH and I juggle the resultant teen conveyor duties.[7]  Where is the transporter promised by Star Trek?  Where is the Jetson’s Jetpak?  Dammit, the future was supposed to be here, by now.

jetpak

 Thursday night we had a most yummer dinner with friends, the lovely and talented couples MB & RB, and JR & DC.  After dinner we all attended the opening preview reception for the Celebration of Creativity, an annual art show that, this year, runs through Sunday 3/3.  This juried fine arts exhibit and sale features original works from 80+ artists in 15+ different media categories, from photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber, glass, oils, wearables, acrylic, water color, pastels, garden sculptures, woodworking, pottery, mixed media….  Friend and artist LAH  has a variety of pieces in this year’s show.  MH & I have purchased many objects ‘d’art at the show (read: there is no more room on our walls), and look forward to seeing this year’s works.

As a patron of the arts [8] I often find myself thinking about the differences between fine art and fiction, especially when it comes to public showings or “sales.”  At an art show, the art is right there – it is immediate.  You see a painting or sculpture in its entirety.  You can walk away from it, or it can grab you by the throat right then and there, or come back to haunt you as you peruse the other booths but keep thinking, I really, really love that enormous cable fish. There is little or no leap of “faith” required in its purchase.

In my few experiences at book fairs, both as a buyer and an author, I’ve come to think of them as dicey ventures.  You walk by a table, there’s an author with a book, you see the author, you see the book and its jacket illustrations…but there are a whole lotta pages in between the front and back covers.  Perhaps you can scan the cover blurbs [9] , perhaps the author reads select passages from the work, but  you don’t know you’re going to like (or loathe) it until after you’ve bought it.

FYI, Cable Fish was rubber chicken-free at time of purchase.

 May your weekend be artful, and may the hjinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1]  And also limited by the currently available stamp selection. I hate it when they discontinue my favorites.

[2] which is probably no news to everyone except moi, who, as stated, does not kept up with TV news.

[3] Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Have you been touched by His noodly appendage?

[4] Saddle up the dinosaurs, in this world.

[5] (crazed; diabolical; fiendish; satanic)

[6]  Attention, fortune cookie makers: complimentary statements are not fortunes. “People like you,” is not a fortune.  “People like you are destined for disfiguring automobile accidents,” now, that’s a fortune.

[7] thanks to budget cuts, the bus doesn’t go where she needs to go at the times she needs to get there…and she still hasn’t taken her driver’s license test.

[8]  My definition:  I buy stuff.  Art stuff.  From artists whose works make me go, “Wooooo!”

[9] Hardly the place for objective recommendations. When’s the last time, after reading a mediocre novel, you realized you should have heeded the quotation on the book flap, which warned, ” Destined to become a classic the truth is, the prose is boring and derivative, the plotting is plodding. Get yourself a book of KenKen puzzles instead.”

The Awards I’m Not Winning

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“I always thought lawyers and academics had the markets cornered on meaningless accolades, but writers make them look like pikers.
I think there’s an inverse relationship between money earned and laurels cited. I wonder if it could be proved mathematically.”
(SCM, attorney, blogger, writer, Regency Errata warden, astute observer of The Human Condition)

The previous and following exchanges are brought to you via SCM’s[1] e-wondering about the authenticity of a ____ award, claimed by X in X’s writer’s bio (“Do you really think that _____ counts?”).

My reply:  Oh my sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster, it’s an award winning writer!  And another, and another….

These days you can’t spit without hitting an award-wining writer (and I have tried).  Of course, X’s “award” it doesn’t count. IMHO, none of them do.  It’s this circle jerk game, allegedly to confer honor (read: publicity) upon both the award or contest winner, and the journal or organization that bestows the laurel. Writing awards, prizes, contests — it’s become like the kiddies’ soccer team, where everyone gets a trophy, eventually, just for showing up and paying the participation fee. Hollow decoration, for those who know what be going down.

awards

And yet, editors more often than not ask you to list “any prizes or awards” in your submissions cover letter. In order not to feel like a schmuck and maintain a modicum of integrity (given my rather jaundiced opinion on the literary awards biz), I have to list my brush with honor thusly:

In 2012 I was able to fine tune my I-don’t-care-about-winning-it’s-an-honor-just-to-be-nominated speech when my story “Here is What,” published in Bellevue Literary Review, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

I wrote a snarky essay about the subject, titled “You Can Be (Or Already Are) An Award-Winning Writer!” An article that makes fun of the contests and/or/awards that literally every literary journal has/holds? Yeah, sure.  There’ll be massive bidding wars over the rights to print that.  I tried to get the essay published, despite my advisory mantra to myself (“this will be impossible to publish — everyone has an awards contest !!!”). I toned down the snark, and appealed to an editor’s sense of Of -course-We-can-laugh-at-ourselves [2] in my cover letter:

Few writers would mind having the description Pulitzer Prize-winning author attached to their name, but what about “Winner of the Punta Gorda Prize for Swamp Prose” [3] as one’s claim to literary fame?  The proliferation of literary awards is the subject of “You Can Be (or Already Are) an Award-Winning Writer!”, my essay that takes a good-humored look t this all-too-normal aspect of the writing life.

I sent a copy of the article to SCM, who graciously and enthusiaastically offered to post my essay on her blog.  If that wasn’t honor enough, she also bestowed upon it the Atttorney At Large Award for Aimless Accolade Assassinations, or AALAAAA.

Damn the torpedoes and f*** the Pulitzer [4] , I’ve got an AALAAAA.

AALAAAA!  AALAAAA!  It sounds like the battle cry of literary triumph!

Unfortunately, it also sounds like a terrorist’s last-ditch attempt at self-assurance as he reaches for the grenade strapped to his chest….

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Show me someone who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you someone who hasn’t the faintest idea about what the heck is going on.
(Mike Royko, 1932 – 1997)

*   *   *

MH returned on Sunday from a three day business trip to Texass Texas.[5]  It has  become our family tradition that when we travel to purchase a deck of cards with some kind of “local” connection.  MH returned with an Original-Historical Drawings of Texas deck: each card has a unique drawing of an aspect of Texas history and culture, from the Rattlesnake Roundup to Congresswoman Barbara Jordan to The Yellow Rose of Texas.  I got a kick out of the description for the five of heart’s San Antonio Riverwalk: “…known as ‘The Venice of Texas’…”

Talk about damning with praise, faint or otherwise.

darwinpix

Whaddya mean, there’s nothing going on?  Upcoming celebrations include Darwin Day, a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin.

There are few things more synergistic than celebrating Darwin’s birthday with discourse about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.[6]  In the immortal words of the inimitably interesting, intelligent and impudent [7]  Rachael Maddow, “I like my evolution reporting with a side of carbs.”

*   *   *

Women in combat. No, I’m not referring to the battles women face in trying to get standard, life-saving treatment at Catholic hospitals.  It’s the military thing, courtesy of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s lifting the military ban on women in combat.

I still can’t wrap my mind around the phrasing: “lifting the ban on women in combat.” Women have been participating – and dying – in wars, in combat, ever since the sorry concept was constructed by some pissed off Neanderthal. Only now, they can get credit? Lifting the obliviousness about the reality is more like it

The old saw about protecting the women and children flies and spits and shakes its impertinent ass in the face of the fact that, during wartime, civilian deaths always outnumber military casualties.  And who are the civilians?  The much-vaunted “women and children,” whose protection from the evil, encroaching ___ (insert enemy of choice) is cited as justification for combat.

Objective consideration of a person’s ability to do a job, any job, should be gender-blind.  Most of us civilians – and even a few former and active soldiers, it seems – forget that the majority of those in the armed services never set foot on what used to be called the front or battle lines [8] ; the majority comprise the support staff, on which the “warriors” depend. Every soldier has to be prepared to fight, but most contribute to the fight through transport, medic, food, equipment procurement, distribution and maintenance positions. Or, as Napoleon Bonaparte, famous miliitary leader and infamous sufferer of Short Man’s Syndrome put it, “An army marches on its stomach.”

mini

Not every male soldier makes the cut (or desires to) for combat positions, and the wash-out rate for the so-called elite combat units is high (the all-volunteer paratroopers units, in which my father served during WWII, had a wash-out rate of over 80%).  Review the standards for the job. Keep the physical and mental standards truly appropriate to the job, and have only those who meet the standards, men and women, young and old, gay and straight, qualify for those positions.

One bubagoo the silly voices raise:  okay then, all of you miss smarty-panties, if all military positions are open to women, what about women registering for the draft?

Well, what about it? The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8) authorizes Congress “To raise and support Armies…” and goes on to permit the regulation and training of such armies [9].  Nowhere is the gender (or age or ethnicity) of these Armies mentioned.  Of course, we can assume that the framers assumed an all-male (and Caucasion) army; nevertheless, but all it says is Congress has the power to raise Armies.

If it served Congress to do so, I have no doubt that women would be drafted in a heartbeat.  Or so was my argument in the late 1970s-early 1980s, when some of us were still trying to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed.  Register for the draft?  Pass the frigging ERA and I’ll register for your friggin’ draft.

About the appropriate standards.  Police academies used to have minimum height standards which effectively screened out most female – and Asian and Hispanic male – applicants. Thirty-plus years ago I remember reading an article in the Orange County register about a Vietnamese-American man who desperately wanted to be a cop.  This was at the time when police and fire agencies in California were desperate to increase the number Asian and Hispanic officers.  The man was intelligent and independent [10] and eager to serve, kept himself in awesome physical shape — he did everything he could to qualify, and he would have, except that he was ~ an inch shorter than the minimum height requirement.  And, okay, so maybe this part of the story tempers the previous remark about his intelligence, but he decided to re-apply to the academy, and before taking the next physical exam he had his wife repeatedly bonk him on the head with a wooden plank, to try and raise a bump that would get him to the minimum height level.

I don’t know what happened to the bonkers-for-cops dude, but it wasn’t long before anti-height discrimination lawsuits provided the nudge for the police to evaluate their policies, and most agencies subsequently, eventually, eliminated the minimum height requirements.  Unlike the cinematic shoot-’em-up image, the majority of police work involves negotiation skills, keeping cool under pressure, the ability to quickly evaluate and de-escalate dangerous situations…and, yes, kick ass if and when necessary. As police departments around the nation have discovered, if you can pass the police academy training, assessment and examinations (including lifting and dragging a 160 lb dummy, weapons and marksmanship training, tolerate getting pepper-sprayed and tasered), the fact that you’re lacking an inch doesn’t matter.

Which, of course, women have been telling men for years.

cops

Should someone ever insult me in a most egregious manner, there is one thing that could make it better:  if I could get George Takei to call that person a douchebag.  No one does douchebag like George, as you may recall when he famously took down the Arkansas school board member who called for gay teens to kill themselves.

Ain’t nobody out to get me that I know of.  But there are no shortage of botox-brained blowholes worthy of being Takei-shamed, including Alabama high school football coach and psychology (I kid you not) teacher, Bob Grisham.

(From salon.com article :) An Alabama high school football coach has been suspended for 10 days without pay for making anti-gay comments and for referring to the first lady as “fat butt Michelle Obama” during a class last week.  It was in the middle of a class discussion that Bob Grisham told his students: “I don’t believe in queers. I don’t like queers. I don’t hate them as a person, but what they do is wrong and an abomination against God,” the Times Daily reports.

I’m trying to imagine a classroom discussion in which a teacher thought it relevant to comment on the First Lady’s posterior, disparage “queers,” and blame justify his hateful, paranoid ignorant opinions to his Imaginary Friend.  But that would require more drinking than I’m willing to do right now.  Instead, let the hijinks ensue and take it away, George.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Previously identified on this blog as…SCM

[2] A quality which few Serious Literary Lions (editors, publishers, or writers) are known for.

[3]  The actual title of an actual, if erstwhile, literary award.

[4]  At least until people agree on how to pronounce it.

[5]  Well, he was in Austin, which, I am told, is more like the People’s Republic of Texas.

[6] In yet another Oregon Claim to Fabulousness ® , the Church of the FSM was started by Oregon State University physics graduate student Bobby Henderson

[7]  Stop me, before I i-word again.

[8] with today’s increasing use of kill-from-afar technologies, and wars of terrorism and insurgencies, “front line”-style warfare may soon be an exhibit in the Smithsonian.

[9] Interestingly, it also states that “no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;” which seems to make our maintaining of our standing armed forces unconstitutional.

[10]  He defied  his relative’s wishes by wanting to become a cop, a profession seen as dishonorable by many Asian immigrants, who came from countries where the police forces were corrupt.

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