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The Natural Beauty I’m Not Protecting

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“I hope you’ll display it as a reminder of the natural beauty you’re protecting.”
(Note on a card sent,  along with a paper Christmas ornament, by The Nature Conservancy, in a three page won’t you contribute? solicitation.)

MH and I give a lot of thought to which charities we support. We donate to organizations we deem effective, whether on a local or global scale, in supporting our “favorite” causes. Over the years we’ve added some causes/organizations and deleted others, the latter action usually taken due to what we see as a misuse of our donations. For example, if we received waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many requests for additional contributions, including being dunned for “annual” dues/membership fees starting at seven months before the end of when our membership expires year, it’s buh-bye to that one.

One such charity was Nature Conservancy. We supported them for years, and then we didn’t. They do some really, really good work – who isn’t for preservation of natural lands and restoration of habitat for endangered species? – but the constant appeals for more, accompanied by trinkets we neither wanted nor asked for, including their latest we’d love to have you rejoin appeal, [1] remind me of why I decided our conservation $$ would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

ornament

 

An unsolicited holiday ornament wrapped in plastic, made in China. Now, there’s some mighty fine stewardship of the earth’s resources.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Every Cart Tells A Story

My computer calendar gave me a pop-up reminder: time to change out the emergency water supply in the garage. [2]  Two days later I was standing in the unusually long line at the store,  [3] bored outta my gourd, checking out the items in other people’s shopping carts. I began a game I’ve played for years: concocting a story about strangers, my fellow shoppers.  Their age, jobs, educational and marital status, state and/or country of origin, likes and dislikes – even their political opinions – I make up a profile of them, based on what they have in their shopping carts.

Before long I considered the thirteen items in my own cart – twelve water jugs and a stick of antiperspirant – and wondered what would my story be, to someone playing a similar game?  [4]

This middle-aged, sweaty white woman is very, very thirsty.

 

 

 

cart

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Give Me Hope Re The Resilience Of The Human Spirit

The good folks who gave us that most refined parlor game, Cards Against Humanity, have now given us yet another reason to go on living: they dug a really, really big hole, into which money was thrown. Check it out at https://www.holidayhole.com/

 

*   *   *

Department Of Shoot Me Now And Get It Over With

Forget water boarding – if you ever want to see me with my spirit totally broken,  [5] force me to sit through a Singing Christmas Tree ® performance.

And yes, I have been to such a thing. Twice, when I was young. Whenever I had to picture the concept of hell (a concept adults seemed to believe in, or at least find useful, but which I thought was rubbish), I flashed back to those horrifically perky, Lawrence-Welk-on-Quaaludes-and-acid, holiday “concerts.”

 

singing-tree

*   *   *

Department Of And Then There’s That

Hoping for the best the best doesn’t exclude ignoring reality.

Specifically, I refer to my pondering (read: dreading) what will happen after January 20, 2017. Many Democrats and select Republican non-trolls have been making noises re working together with a PuJu [6] administration on what might be considered nonpartisan, everybody-wants-this-done issues.

Now, I’ll be one of the first to commend the actions of everyone involved in finding ways to, say, fix our crumbling bridges/update our infrastructure and reform/simplify our tax code, etc. Still, any such accomplishments will not erase the fact that we’ll have a boorish, narcissistic, knowledge-incurious, unrepentant racist and misogynist as head of state.

 

 

disappointed

*   *   *

We have reached the seventh circle of the hell I don’t even believe in.

I was listening to a podcast of a Freakonomics radio show, the 11-16-16 episode, How To Make A Bad Decision. The hosts and guests were discussing a research paper, Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy.   The paper’s authors analyzed decision-making within three different professions – baseball umpires, loan officers, and asylum judges – to see whether those professionals were likely to fall prey to the gambler’s fallacy.  [7]  

The podcast included an interview with professional baseball umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who talked about the application of technologies such as the PITCHf/x system [8] and instant replays of close plays as ways of checking an umpire’s calls. Not all umpires are enamored with the technologies and the resultant second-guessing/undermining of their authority, but Wendelstedt was a supporter:

“… these pitch systems got into place, it’s been a great educational tool for us….it really helps us become a better-quality product for the game of baseball.

 

 

really

 

The world is indeed ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I completely lost interest in the rest of the podcast after hearing that quote.  I beg of all sentient beings:  Never, ever, refer to yourself, or any other human being, as a product.

Unless in your case the human being thing is just an act and you actually happen to be a can of Cheezey-whiz.

*   *   *

The Toes I’m Not Spreading

Balance; calm; equanimity, toe envy….

Wait a sec. Of all the elements one might pursue or experience in a yoga class, envy of any kind – well, it’s just not yoga.

Still, there I am, in my yoga class, glancing around to see my fellow yogis seemingly effortlessly widen their lithe, long, supple little piggies when the instructors suggests we spread our toes to help us balance in tree pose. Meanwhile, my puny, span-challenged podiatric digits spasm with the effort.

Stub toes [9]  is just one of the milder epithets which have been applied to my toes over the years.  Some folks have refrained from outright name-calling, but still have obviously noticed my phalange deficiencies. One afternoon in high school,  the dance teacher substituted for our field hockey coach (who was called away for some emergency) during warm-ups. Dance Teacher decided to teach us hockey ladies some exercises which, she said, would increase our flexibility. DT asked us to remove our shoes and socks, stand barefoot on the gym floor, feet approximately 18 inches apart…

“Now, everyone spread your toes…” DT patrolled the rows of smirking field hockey players (we needed stamina, not flexibility, so why weren’t we doing our warm-up laps?), checking everyone’s deportment, berating this girl’s posture and that girl’s stance. She came to me, looked downward, and scowled.

“Widen your toes!” DT insisted. She then pointed to the feet of the girl standing beside me, as if to inspire me, for that girl’s lengthy, prehensile toes looked as if they would enable her to hang upside down from a tree branch.

“I am,” I replied. “This is as wide as they go.”

DT bent over, reached her hand down toward my foot, and made a clucking noise of patronizing sympathy. “I see, she sighed, and moved on down the line.

Flash forward to a couple of years later: I am in an athletic footware store, to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I am a regular customer of the store and know what size I wear, but the store’s new (to me) salesperson insists I remove my shoes and socks and step on the store’s shoe size measurer-thingamawhoowhooy-gadget. [10]

 

 

shoesize

You know, this thing.

 

 

Wow,” he gasps, as I comply with his request, “your toes are really short!” He crouches for closer inspection; I resist the urge to suddenly feign a spasm and kick him in the teeth.

“You know,” he looks up at me earnestly, “if your toes were normally proportioned to your feet, your shoe size would be one or even two sizes larger.”

Guess which salesman didn’t get that commission?

BTW – I rock at tree pose. Stub toes and all.

 

 

treepose

*   *   *

May you rock at your balance poses;
May your cart tell a noteworthy story;
May you dig a really big hole for any reason you chose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What could their financial/donations manager possibly be thinking? “Sure, they left us five years ago, but this paper ornament will bring them back!”

[2] Every six months I buy 12-one gallon jugs of water, swap them out with the supply already in the garage, and use the older supply for watering plants, etc.

[3] It’s the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend; these people are already out of leftovers?

[4] Whom am I kidding – like anyone else would be playing that game, or looking up or around or anywhere but down, for that matter. Everyone else in my line, and in all the adjacent lines (Yep, I checked) was looking down at their cellphone…waiting for it to hatch a rare three-toed pygmy sloth dragon, or something equally significant, judging from the rapt expression on their face.

[5] If you did desire such a thing, that would make you a miserable little shit, wouldn’t it?

[6] aka Putin Junior, as I cannot bear to type his (allegedly real) name.

[7] The Gambler’s Fallacy is an erroneous  understanding of probability – the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability, i.e., rolling 10 even dice in a row, become higher or lower as the process is repeated.

[8] A pitch tracking system which tracks the velocity, movement, release point, spin, and pitch location for every pitch thrown in a baseball game.

[9] Thanks, Mom!

[10] There must be a name for that device.

The Solutions I’m Not Providing

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Department Of Do You Think They’ll Print This Letter?

Monday afternoon I sent the following letter to the editor of mindful magazine.

Gentle Editors,

In the December 2016 issue of mindful, the article The Mindful Gift Guide contains the advice, “As consumers we have the power to choose gifts that don’t just speak to those we care about, but that have an impact in the world.”  This is certainly true. Thus, as a writer, I cringed to read the article’s suggestion to “Do a Book Swap:”

“If your family are avid readers, skip the gift-shopping and instead do a book swap…. Each of you walks away with a stack of goodies for little-to-no cost….”

Please be mindful of the reality facing authors, whose income has declined 30% over the past seven years, due to the fact that there are so many ways “for the customer to gain access to a book, without a penny going to the writer.” (The Author’s Guild Bulletin, Fall 2015). The little-to-no-cost you mentioned comes at an increasingly great cost to writers, who receive no payment from used copies or book swaps.

It is logical to assume that avid readers might – or should – respect and care about the labor which produces the books readers admire.  The suggestion should read, “If your family are avid readers, buy them books.”

 

 

mindfulmag

“If your family are avid magazine readers and you’d like their favorite magazines to fail, please give away your copies and discourage people from subscribing to or buying copies of the magazines.”

 

*   *   *

Part 2, Possible Solutions

I don’t have any. DAMN!

Remember, a mere week ago, my rant articulate and passionate explication of the need for dialogue between trump voters and everyone else, and my promise that I’d offer solutions this week? Here’s the rub: I don’t know how to dialogue with someone who can’t understand – or worse yes, doesn’t want to understand – reality.

Differing opinions, fine. You can have your own opinions (as to what facts “feel like” to you); you can’t have your own facts.  As friend CC recently despaired, if someone for whatever reasons will not or cannot be convinced of the reality of global warming by the decades of evidence that climate scientists have amassed, what good is it going to do for them to hear the same evidence coming from me?

What common ground can be trod by a natural world denizen such as moiself who thinks that people should be in charge of their own bodies, and people who believe that female bodily integrity is subject to (overwhelmingly male led) legislation and superstitious/supernatural (read: religious) prohibitions?

More diplomatic minds than mine will have to work on these and other issues.  The only advice I can offer is hardly original, but also the only thing that has ever worked:

Keep aware, and get involved.

Have your legislators’ office numbers on your speed dial.  [1] Avoid compassion fatigue – there will be no shortage of worthy and even urgent causes; pick one or two close to your heart and support them with time and money, the best you can. Be wary of spreading out, and thus diluting, your resources. As one nonprofit manager told me, better to donate five hours of your time and/or $200 dollars per month to one organization than 15 minutes/$20 dollars per month to ten.

Here’s a worthy cause for those concerned with the far right’s anti-science agenda:

  • So cool!
  • Relevant to all the subjects that I teach [Physics, Chemistry, and Biology]
  • A great resource for students
  • Really improves student learning
  • (Shows them) the scale of time
  • Generates a good amount of discussion
  • [Helps our teachers] know and understand how to better teach evolution to students
  • Amazing resource
  • An awesome addition to my classroom

Surprise! – those are not comments from Satisfied Customers ® who’ve recently began following my blog (but thank you for jumping to that conclusion). Rather, they are some of the raves expressed by science teachers  regarding a superb teaching resource from The Brights. The Evolution Poster Project‘s poster, “Earth and Life: changes over time,” helps students visualize and learn about the scale of evolution by uniquely depicting the course of biological and geological evolution from 13.7 billion years ago until today.

 

 

 

brightsposter

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of At Least I Have One Thing About Which To Feel Smug

“It’s terrible. I don’t think it sells a single book.  I don’t think social media sells anything.”
(author Ayelet Waldman, in the Writer, on using Twitter as a marketing tool)

A few weeks ago the Twitter universe  [2]  got its collective knickers in a knot  [3] over yet another literary defection from their ranks. Author Chelsea Cain, interviewed on the OPB program Think Out Loud, talked about her decision to deactivate her Twitter account.  [4]

Despite the urging of select publishers and PR people to pursue more social media “exposure,” I long ago made the decision to not expose moiself to the opinions (whether praise or slag) of strangers. Thus, I skipped the first step in what seems to have become almost a literary ritual:

  • join ______ (insert social media site name)
  • amass site followers
  • pen an article/sit for an interview about “Why I am Leaving ____ (social media site).”

 

 

twitter

 

When you’re a writer, the thinking is that you simply must have a social media presence. But is that even true? In the six-plus years I’ve been writing for pay as my exclusive revenue stream, I can’t think of a single time social media got me a job.
I’m also not terribly interested in interacting with my readers, or even knowing they exist. Sorry, guys. The one or two of you that are cool to meet don’t outweigh the legions of semi-literate lunatics still emailing me at least once a month over an article I wrote about hating Pearl Jam four years ago.
(“Why I Left Social Media,” www.manmade.com )

 

By simply not joining Twitter, I never had to worry about how to deal with the distraction, the hate mail, and – special bonus for authors with lady parts! misogyny and death threats.  But, dang, I am thereby disqualified for any future Why I Quit Twitter gigs. Another lucrative career opportunity down the drain.

Still, I treasure the rare opportunity to feel smug. Also, according to computer science professor Cal Newport, you don’t have to be a writer to benefit from stopping the massive time and intellect suck  eschewing the energy drain of social media (my emphases).

Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters. A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.
…. you’re deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time. If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.
(Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend On It, Cal Newport, writing in the NY Times)

 

*   *   *

To those trump supporters who posted links to the I Am. article on Facebook, and a personal appeal to the article’s author:

iampng

I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. I am not a misogynist. I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family….I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless.

 

Blogger Cassie Hewlett wrote the I Am article to “highlight what it felt like to be a Republican college student” after the election:

On November 9th, I went to class and in every single one there was a somber attitude. Pre-lecture discussions were filled with phrases like “I am scared for our future”, “I am scared to be gay”, “How did this happen?”

Ms. Hewlett, I don’t know you, but assume you are around my daughter’s age, and thus am disposed toward viewing you kindly. I will assume you are well-intentioned. And I can’t help but wonder, do you really understand why, post-election, a somber attitude permeated your classrooms?

I am aware that many Republicans did not intend to vote in malicious, fear-mongering, sexist, racist, homophobic ways. I hope you in turn are aware that your party’s candidate campaigned on malicious, fear-mongering, sexist, racist and homophobic platforms and rhetoric, and that this fact is very personal to the majority of us who cast their votes for the other candidates.

You write, I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. Your candidate has:

*  chosen as his Vice President one of the most anti-LGBT rights politicians around.  Pence has been listed as one of the top “villains” on gay and civil rights watch lists for years – this is not mere current election political trash-talking.

* casually admitted to and joked/bragged about committing sexual assault, consistently dismissed and ranked women – including his own daughter – according to their physical attributes, and said he would appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn my right to make medical decisions about my body.

* told anti-gay conservatives he’d appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn gay marriage  [5]

* called Mexicans rapists and said that an American judge could not do his job because of his Mexican heritage.

* declared he wants to register all Muslims in the US.

Your candidate has, for crying out loud, been endorsed by the KKK and other white supremacist, Neo-Nazi and secessionist groups.

You are not racist; You are not homophobic; You are not sexist. But Your Candidate has said and done all of these things, and more. Your Candidate‘s blatant and consistent appeal to racist, homophobic and sexist sentiments are not the reasons you voted for him, but his racist, homophobic and sexist appeals did not stop you from voting for him. Thus, the “somber attitude” you detected.

 

 

imnotracist

 

 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
(variously attributed)

I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family.

Sure, Mussolini may have been a fascist dictator who outlawed contraception, raised penalties for abortion, regulated women’s clothing and banned homosexual acts,  used chemical weapons in Africa,  muzzled the free press and imprisoned his political opponents and executed prisoners without trial….but he made the trains run on time.

You personally may not consider yourself racist or bigoted, but you who are willing to overlook – who have the privilege to overlook – a candidate’s bigotries because he supports policies which you’ve decided are of greater/personal good for yourself scares the living feces out of moiself.

Please, Ms. Hewlett (and other self-described non-bigoted trump supporters), remember that talk is cheap. Your words disavowing personal prejudice are cold comfort considering the rise in hate crimes  [6] since the election.  I’m glad you protest that you are not one of the haters; I challenge you to prove your protestation by holding your candidate accountable for the consequences of his rhetoric.

One more thing, Ms. Hewlett: fire your graphic designer.  [7]  Re the GOP elephant-USA flag symbol used to illustrate your article, the stars are [8]  sideways/upside down/backwards (read: just plain wrong). Star points in the USA flag face up, not down.

 

flagstars

Like this.

*   *   *

Department Of It Didn’t Quite Come Out The Way I’d Intended,
But You Know What I Meant To Say

MH was considering whether or not he wanted to make soup for our Thanksgiving potluck dinner we hosted.  He asked for moiself’s advice, as I have been on a soup making kick recently. I went through my notes, trying to find a soup that everyone coming to the dinner would like and, more importantly, that everyone could eat – food preferences and sensitivities among the attendees include severe tree nut, peanut and seed allergies, gluten and dairy sensitivities and “plant-based flexitarian” [9] preferences.

I found just such a soup, a recent culinary experiment of mine that turned out well, if I do say so myself (and I just did).  “Here’s one!” I crowed to MH, pointing to my notes in excitement. “There’s nothing in this soup that anyone could eat!”

 

 

bad-soup

*   *   *

May you dialogue when you can;
May you be mindful of choices which may benefit you yet be costly to others;
May you have (at least) one thing about which to feel smug;
May your soup be suitable for all;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

And a belated but sincere Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Phone calls are more effective than emails or signing on-line petitions.

[2] I know, I know, it’s the “Twitterverse,” but I just can’t bear to use that term.

[3] For a couple of days or so – which is the equivalent of years to many users of the website, who have the attention spans one might expect of people who limit their reflections to 140 characters.

[4] Simply put, for her, the negatives came to outweigh the positives.

[5]I am for my family,” you wrote. What about other people’s families? Overturning gay marriage would dismantle thousands of families, including, to make it personal, that of my daughter’s favorite teacher.

[6] Documented by the FBI, and civil rights groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center.

[7] Or yourself, if that’s the case.

[8] Like the reasoning of trump supporters, IMHO.

[9] Eats certain seafood items, but no meat or dairy products.

The Umbrella I’m Not Raising

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Department Of Welcome To The Kakistocracy

Thanks to observant friend SCM, I was alerted to Monday’s regrettably appropriate word of the day (via the wordsmith folk):

kakistocracy

PRONUNCIATION: (kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)

MEANING: noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829.

USAGE: “We must weigh our votes carefully. Else we are in danger of turning America’s time-tested democracy into a kakistocracy.”
Dan Warner; The Best Man for the Job Is Not as Easy as it Sounds; The News Press (Fort Myers, Florida); Jan 17, 2016.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m No Bridge Expert…

…in fact, I’ve never played the game, not once. But I may take it up, because I’m pretty sure it includes moments when you get to yell, “NO TRUMP!”

 

 

camel

*   *   *

Department Of Okay, So My Rising Above Needs Fine Tuning

I’ve read some amazing and touching exchanges friends have had with their children, about the election. These children are old enough to have heard the odious comments coming from trumpsters and young enough to be confused about how “the man who always yells mad” and “the bad bad guy” won.

One young mother I am privileged to know, who consistently – i.e., not just during election or other trying times –  models positive messages to her two sons, related the following dialog with the “elder” (~ age 3) boy, when he asked her why people voted for someone who “is not kind.”

Wise Loving Mother: “There are a lot of reasons, and I don’t really know all of them. I’m pretty confused too, and I’m a little bit scared and sad. I want you to know it’s okay to feel that way.”

Loving And Confused Son: “Okay.”

WLM: “I also want you to know that you might see a lot of people feeling scared and sad today, and it is your job today and every day to be kind, to be a helper, and to love people just the way they are.”

LACS: “Yeah mom I am a kind helper.”

WLM: “If you see somebody who looks or acts different than you, who has a different color skin, speaks a different language, and they are feeling scared, or somebody is hurting their feelings or bodies, what do you think you can do to help?”

LACS: “I can give them a hug, I can ask them what’s wrong. I can say STOP IT to a bad guy.”

WLM: “That’s right. That is so important for you to do. And know that me and Dad and all the people who love you will do the same thing, and that we will always help you and do what we can to keep you safe.”

LACS: “K mom. Because I love you and you love me.”

WLM: “That’s right. And we love the people around us.”

LACS: “Yeah, yep. We do that.”

 

 

rainbowsloth

 

 

 

I feel like hugging a rainbow baby sloth after reading that, and I hope you do, too.

That’s the kind of Wise And Responsible Counsel In The Face Of Adversity ® (most) parents strive for. It’s also the kind of advice that is more difficult to give, IMHO, the older your children get. Once your kids reach A Certain Age ©, you can’t sugarcoat reality with well-meaning messages about confused fearful people who do things from misplaced fear and anger. They can figure out for themselves the need to raise the shitstorm umbrella. Or, as we do in Oregon, don the shitstorm hat . [1]

 

rainhat

This.

umbrella

And not this.

 

Yet again, I digress.

My offspring are young adults of A Certain Age. Son K graduated college and lives and works not far from us; daughter Belle is a college junior. Both hold passionate and compassionate convictions; both are pro-science advocates, pro civil and feminist and LGBTQ rights, and enthusiastic supporters of Senator Sanders; both subsequently Did The Right Thing ® and voted for Clinton…. Thus, both are understandably distraught about and disgusted with last week’s election results.

MH and I try to offer them words of perspective and comfort, even as we deal with our own disappointments and fears. My efforts – well, I think they need a little work.

Message from daughter Belle last week, a day after the election:

Belle: ugh i hate seeing people wearing those stupid make America great again hats on campus. Why do they go to this school?

Moiself: oh dear…. Well, as Michelle Obama advised, when they go low, we go high. And if going high means we walk around silently but reverently hoping that the largest sea gull on record has a bout of herring-induced diarrhea while flying over someone wearing such a cap, well then, so be it.

*   *   *

Department of Temporary Reprieve From The Stench of Politics

As (what would turn out to be) the heart-piercing election approached, I received brief respite from my worries via a story about another kind of piercing. Friend KW empathized with my recently shared opinions re body piercings, [2] which prompted me to share this memory with him:

I have two piercings in each ear, the first pair of holes acquired in college when one of my apartment-mates sputtered one November evening, “Could you please get your goddamned ears pierced so I’d know what to get you for Christmas?!”  She was frustrated by the fact that I wore no jewelry and wasn’t into accessories or clothing (I wasn’t a nudist, but you get the idea) so there were no inexpensive items that came to mind re getting me a present.

The second ear holes were also somewhat spontaneous: I accompanied a friend and her mother to a mall. Friend’s Mom, after years of wearing (but hating) clip-on earrings, wanted to get her ears pierced, but balked when we went to the jewelry shop. I assured her the procedure was almost pain-free; FM still balked…she sooo wanted to have it done and was embarrassed by her squeamishness. To prove that it was no big deal, I had mine done again, in front of her.

Here’s something I haven’t thought of in years. My mom said, in her later years, that she’d wished she’d had her ears pierced. She’d noticed that “all the interesting earrings” were for pierced ears; the earrings she’d acquired during her young adult years were all clip-on, all painful to wear. When she expressed her regret to me, I reminded her of something she’d said when I was in high school, about who wore what kind of jewelry. She’d said she hoped none of her girls would get their ears pierced, because she’d been told that having pierced ears was “primitive,” and something “only Catholics and Mexicans get done.”

 

 

earrings

Actually, I’m an atheist Swede with a Ph.D.

*   *   *

Department Of Sorry But It’s Back To the Festering Turdbucket of Politics
Kudos For Susan Sarandon, Who Somehow Managed To Not Vote With Her Vagina

Part 1: The Dilemma

“Not everyone that voted for trump is a sexist or a racist,. How many times does the vote not have to go our way before we realize that our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults?”
(“Jonathan Pie,” aka British actor/comic Tom Walker)

I apologize to actor Susan Sarandon, for suggesting last week that she perform a physiological impossibility. I should have used my inside words to express my frustration with Sarandon et al, who threw away used their votes to express their frustration with both major party candidates.

Excuse me while I take a moment to allay the gonad-rattling astonishment that comes from doing something I never, in my wildest nightmares, would have believed I’d be doing: referring to donald trump as a major party candidate. [3]

 

catbarf

 

 

 

BTW: The non-capitalization of the surname is intentional. As writer Bryan Vale [4]  put it, in his spot-on  The Writers Rules for resisting trump, “Never capitalize his name. trump has shown no respect to others, so he deserves none for himself. He lost his proper-noun privileges.”

Okay; soldiering on.

I understand Sarandon’s ardent support for Bernie Sanders, and share (most of) her opinions about the DNC. I also understand many of the reasons why she voted the way she did: she did not like Hillary Rodham Clinton’s policies, did not find HRC progressive enough (or at all)…. Thus, for her, voting for HRC would have involved doing so primarily because HRC is a woman. As Sarandon so memorably put it, “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

Ironically, those who felt the same have helped put in power a party that would like nothing better than to control Sarandon’s – and all women’s – va-jay-jays.

At the beginning of the campaign Sarandon, along with moiself and many Sanders supporters, feared that HRC, despite her many years of championing and working for admirable causes, was too conservative, too much business as usual, too baggage-laden, to be an effective candidate. Once Bernie was out, who/what was left to offer a radical change  – or even just the shock to the system that so many voters on both/all sides of the debates seemed to be looking for?

Ms. Sarandon was right, about many things. She was wrong, about other things. As were we all.

I still think Sarandon made the mistake of not holding her nose and voting for the one who had the best chance of defeating That Other One.  [5]  Turns out too many of us didn’t think HRC even needed a “the best chance” – we thought it was a sure thing. We were too complacent, too clueless, to get why all of the polls, why all of our “common sense,” could be misplaced. We were taken by surprise, because the question we kept asking – How could Anyone vote for such an obvious demagogue/racist/misogynist/xenophobe/scientific, political and cultural ignoramus/ nationalist bully !? received no truthful answers because Anyone didn’t trust us to listen.

I’m serious here: one of the more right-on explanations of the USA’s election debacle can be found in the antic, epic rant of a British comedian (Tom Walker, via his satirical leftwing, potty-mouthed persona, “Jonathan Pie”). To wit: Trump’s victory is rightly attributed to the “…penchant of leftwing social justice warriors to hurl insults at their opponents, stifle political debate, and label anyone who disagrees with them as sexist and racist.”

A partial transcript (my emphases):

The left is responsible…because the left have now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable. We don’t debate anymore because the left won the cultural wars. So if you’re on the right, you’re a freak. You’re evil. You’re racist. You’re stupid. You are a basket of deplorables. How do you think people are going to vote if you talk to them like that? When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted or labeled?

So now if you are on the right or even against the prevailing view, you are attacked for raising your opinion. That’s why people wait until they’re in the voting booth…there’s no blame or shame or anything, and you can finally say what you really think, and that is a powerful thing.

And all the polls were wrong….when asked, people can’t admit what they think….They’re not allowed to!…We’ve made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down. Every time someone on the left says, “You mustn’t say that,” they contribute to this culture.

It time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse, trying to silence them. It’s time to stop banning people from speaking in universities. It’s time to stop thinking that reposting an article on Facebook is political engagement…. that reading The Guardian doesn’t make you a liberal…(and that)….re-tweeting Green Peace doesn’t lower your carbon footprint.

And if my mansplaining is triggering you, you can either fuck off to your safe space or you can engage and debate me and tell me what I’m getting wrong. Because Trump just won the White House. Being offended doesn’t work anymore. Throwing insults doesn’t work anymore. The only thing that works is fucking bothering, doing something, and all you have to do is engage in the debate. Talk to people who think differently to you and persuade them of your argument. It’s so easy, and the left have lost the art. Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid, and talk to them, persuade them otherwise because if you don’t. I’ll tell you what you get – you get President Donald Trump.

You should watch the video, if you haven’t already. You might not like it; it might make you uncomfortable. It should.

 

 

 

The tape reminded of conversations MH and I had early on, [6] about the possible presidential candidates (neither of us wanted to go back to the Clinton-Bush era…remember when Jeb Bush was considered the likely GOP nominee?), then later, about the fact that neither of us knew the “real reasons” why anyone would support trump and why do trump supporters say they like him but then don’t articulate their reasons why…and why were the polls wrong – because people lied, and why did they do that? In part, because they didn’t want to be labeled a racist misogynist or….

Make no mistake, I have Absolutely. No.  Doubt. that a significant number (if not a majority) of trump supporters hold racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, alt-right religious feelings and opinions. But not all of them. trump supporters who do not (or claim not to) share those opinions took the pollsters by surprise – they wanted to vote against what they saw as a corrupt system more than they wanted to support trump himself, whom, they felt, offered the only option to give “a thunderous repudiation of the status quo.” [7]

“The Left” and Progressives lost this election. In so many ways, the proverbial ball was dropped. For example, we’ve known for years that the Electoral College system is a disenfranchising institution – a antiquated, dangerous relic of the slave era…and have done piddly-piss-squat to repeal or reform it.  [8] After the election debacle of 2000, Senator-elect Hillary Clinton pledged to help abolish the Electoral College…then did nothing. She failed to act on that pledge, a failure that must haunt her now, as her lead in the popular vote count exceeds 700,000 votes.  [9]

Ultimately, even accounting for the sexism she faced – from both supporters and detractors [10]  – Hillary Clinton was not a good candidate. [11]  Given the alternative, I was a (less than enthusiastic) supporter…as indicated by these bumper stickers I found for our cars.

 

 

hillary

 

 

So.  I am going to give a collegial if somewhat cynical nod to the safety pin you wear on your shirt [12] even as I question the efficacy if not the sincerity of what I consider to be non-action “actions” of solidarity. Translation: “checking in” on Facebook at Standing Rock doesn’t mean you are actually putting your body on the line with the Standing Rock protesters. Clicking like on your friend’s FB post about not defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t worth a warm pitcher of spit if you don’t put your money where your thumbs up is – if you do not follow your likes with consistent financial support and political action that thumbs up might as well be up your own ass.

*   *   *

 

Tune in next week, suckers for punishment, sports fans,  for Part 2: the Solutions.  Yes, as an alternative to continued kvetching, moiself will try to provide some answers. Or failing that, something more entertaining than politic-talk (elephant seal fart jokes, anyone?).

 

 

*   *   *

May you rise above as best you can;
May your actions speak louder than your clicks;
May you don the necessary shitstorm protection garments of your choice;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Umbrellas are for wimps and tourists.

[2] Which I shared in a recent post…for which I was roundly, soundly and articulately chastised.

[3] For any elected office, much less POTUS.

[4] Full disclosure: my nephew, who just happens to be a talented writer in his own right.

[5] A friend of mine, too disgusted to utter his name, refers to him as PuJu, for “Putin Junior.”

[6] Minus (most of the) Adult Language ® .

[7] The Financial Times.

[8] Whining about it is not meaningful.

[9] This makes her the fifth candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election (Al Gore in 2000; Andrew Jackson in 1824; Samuel Tilden in 1876; Grover Cleveland in 1888).

[10] Male candidates are not obsessed over re their “likeability,’ ad nauseum.

[11] “…cozying up to the banks and dry-humping corporations for years…” (Jonathan Pie)

[12] Ostensibly to show support for those frightened by Trump’s election and to declare themselves as allies to immigrants and minorities and LGBTQ and against racism, sexism and xenophobia….

The Wall I’m Not Building

1 Comment

 

reaper

Thanks, America – hey world, I’m gonna make you “great again….”

 

*   *   *

Dateline: Last Sunday, early afternoon. MH and I stopped at the local Baja Fresh for lunch. It had been at least three months since I’d eaten there, and I was surprised by the remodel, which included a partition separating the ordering and eating areas.

“Look,” I said to MH, “they built a wall! Do you think they got Mexico to pay for it?”

 

 

bajawall

*   *   *

A Little Story About The Election Results

The reality of what might be began to haunt me late last week, when my lowest common denominator assurance – i.e., people aren’t that dumb, are they? – commenced a-crumbling in the face of reality. Specifically, the existence and continued popularity of that boil upon the ass of humanity, Reality TV.

I started thinking about a show that was popular just three years ago – FFF  [1], it’s painful to even type the title – Here Comes Honey BooBoo. The idea that such a show could even exist – never mind attract and hold the attention of over two million viewers; the fact that for two years a substantial amount of allegedly sapient bipeds found entertainment from watching white trash in action – specifically the emotional, intellectual and nutritional abuse of a six year old girl by her serial-convicted-child-molester-dating mother…

I knew no one who watched (or would admit to watching) the show, but it existed. And knowing that fact…tanks my heart.

Bear with me with this segue. An American pro basketball player, when informed that the average height of males in the USA is 5’9 ½ “, sneers in disgust and disbelief.  “That can’t be true,” he protests. “No dudes I know are that short. I’m surrounded by dozens of guys all the time, all over the country, and they are all way taller than that.”

We limit the world by our own experience (read: ignorance), forgetting – sometimes not even understanding in the first place – that nature don’t play that game.

 

 

head

What “global warming” – it’s nice and cool down here.

 

 

Gravity “works” whether or not we comprehend its definition,  [2]  or have even heard of the term, and both the most brilliant Nobel-prize-winning physicist and the illiterate Lapp reindeer herder will be subject to its force  if they slip over the edge of a cliff while trying to get a better view of the fjord below them.

Even that which most (educated) persons know to be true is easy for many of us to discount when it is out of the realm of personal experience. The geologic time scale is imaginary to us four-score-and-change-if-we’re-lucky living humans; thus, it is easy for reality-denying, evidence-ignoring, supernatural-peddling shamans and charlatans to make us doubt the facts and evidence of evolution. Yet we “employ” the reality of scientific discoveries and explanations every day, without being aware we are doing so. There are scientists and engineers who study and apply the esoteric physic frameworks which are behind microprocessor design; there are laypersons such as moiself, whose knowledge of the subject is sketchy at best; there are also science-o-phobes, who deny that the “bizarre phenomena” of quantum mechanics even exists…yet computers function for the lot of us.

So? So…. In all my speculation during the past couple of years about where the country is heading, I’ve now had to admit to myself that this nation of so many goodhearted and clear-thinking people is also a nation filled with millions of people who continue to give shows like Housewives of Dumpfuckistan their 15 minutes of fame.

MH, feeling as gloomy as moiself, reminded me Wednesday morning that we don’t know the real reasons why someone would vote for the candidate endorsed by the KKK. And then, there are those who essentially flush their ballot choose a third/minor party candidate, even with the knowledge that by doing so it may help to elect someone they do not support, as a “protest vote” against the status quo.

The fact that I don’t personally know, rarely encounter, or choose not to associate with people who cheer demagoguery and champion anti-science and ignorance and xenophobia and racism and misogyny [3] does not mean that those people don’t exist. The evidence shows they are here, in far greater numbers than I’d have imagined in my sickest nightmares, and have been waiting, so it seems, for someone to champion their hate and paranoia, thus enabling them to crawl out from under their delusions-of-persecution rocks and slither toward the polling places.

And those poster boys for deplorables, those Trump supporters such as Tony Pettway, charged with assault after sucker-punching and stomping on a peaceful protester at a Trump rally –  guess what? His vote counts, the same as mine.

Is this a great country, or what…or WTF?

 

 

 

Weeping Child

*   *   *

Department Of I Know This Third Party Candidate Has No Chance Of Winning
But I Want To Protest The System By Doing The Intellectual Equivalent
Of Slamming My Genitals In A Car Door

As for the previously mentioned “protest vote” constituents, the war-mongering debacle that was the Bush/Cheney era would have never been – the Supreme Court would have never had the opportunity to subvert the will of the people and there would have been no need for a recount – had those who voted for third party spoiler Nader “in protest” cast their votes (as the polls and interviews indicated they would have) for Gore.  

Here we are, once again, haunted by the ghost of Florida. In that closely contested state, with key – 29 – electoral [4] votes, the margin separating Clinton and Trump [5] was a mere 128,863 votes. The votes received by the “protest” party candidates (Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and two others) totaled 293,770.

Go fuck yourself, Susan Sarandon, [6] et al.

 

 

sarandon

*   *   *

Department Of Speaking Ruptures In The Very Fabric Of Space And Time

Isn’t there some way we can blame this on The Chicago Cubs?

 

 

hell

*   *   *

May you be careful what and how you protest;
May you realize that we all, eventually, pay for the walls you build;
May you try not to blame The Cubs;
…and may the hijinks…one day…ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Festering ferret farts.

[2]  the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.

[3] Or are willing to overlook or explain away those characteristics for what they think is some “greater” cause…I don’t know which is worse

[4] When the *&!$? are we going to free ourselves from that antiquated fucktard shackle that is the electoral college?

[5] Updated Nov 9, 2016 6:58 AM PST

[6] An actor and activist whom I once admired…a long time ago in a galaxy far far away….

The Delicacy I’m Not Sampling

Comments Off on The Delicacy I’m Not Sampling

 

 

Department Of Free At Last, Free At Last….

Five days, and we will be free of this festering dungheap of an election.

I have no illusions about the future. After a brief respite, yet another Turd In The Political Punchbowl of Life ® will bob to the surface. Yet for just one moment, perhaps, we may inhale through our nostrils, exhale through our mouths, and whisper,

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

 

ahhh

*   *   *

 

“If freshness and hygiene is a question, generally it’s tribal situations that are problematic, where the whole tribe, the chief is offering you something that’s what they have. Often they don’t have refrigeration, it’s often old…. Often these dishes are eaten in one large bowl with the whole tribe jamming their fingers in. So yeah, rotten food, food that’s clearly not clean, water that’s clearly not good — those are a challenge.”
(Anthony Bourdain, Fresh Air, 10-27-16)

Intrepid tourists from (that which we call) Western Civilization often  [1] pride themselves on being game to sample the local delicacies. The more obscure the travel destination and more repellent-sounding the delicacy, all the better for their reputation as Culturally Curious/Sensitive Travelers ®. American “bad boy” chef and author Anthony Bourdain demonstrated this proclivity in spades during his recent interview with the radio show Fresh Air, which ruined my breakfast entertained me one morning when I listened to a podcast of the show.

Bourdain shared stories about how a world traveler in search of “food adventures” has to navigate the tricky waters of being a guest in someone’s home and eating what is offered. This can be especially dicey when visiting poor/tribal peoples, who profess to honor you by offering you the local delicacy   [2]   – usually an obscure (to Western palates) animal parts concoction.  [3]  Which prompted the show’s host  [4] to ask Bourdain if it were true that, while visiting Namibia, Bourdain had been offered an “unwashed warthog rectum.”

 

 

 

warthogbutt

You want me to throw another what on the barbie?

 

 

 

Yep, it was true.

Well…the chief yanks that part out and throws it on the grill and grills it medium rare and splits it with me. And…the whole tribe is watching. He’s offering me what he sees as the best part. That’s a clear take-one-for-the-team situation…. What am I going to do, refuse him, embarrass him in front of his people, look ungrateful?”

When Bourdain was asked what grilled warthog rectum tasted like, he replied (my emphases), “It tasted like exactly what you would expect – a sandy, gritty rectum.”

Boys and girls, repeat after me:  WTF !?!?!?!?!?!?!

 

 

 

Now, that is the part that got me. More than the fact that Bourdain ate…what he ate. It’s how he described how it tasted. Excusez-moi, Monsieur….

To what “you” can Mr. Bourdain possibly be referring – the you who has exact expectations about what a warthog rectum would taste like?

I moiself have never been happier to confess that there is a thing about which I have never held and will never hold any expectations: what grilled warthog rectum tastes like.

 

 

anyquestions

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Podcasts

Out for an early morning walk was the perfect venue for listening to a StarTalk radio show podcast titled Calling ET. As I watched the sun rise and gradually break through the veil of gray clouds overhead, I wondered, as per the podcast, who or what might be watching and/or listening to beings like moiself?

StarTalk frequently covers topics relating to the SETI program, including the speculation that if the first extra-terrestrials to discover earth find us due to our own transmissions, whether they be the early  radio and television transmissions which were (unintentionally) transmitted to the cosmos or the new plans to use planetary radar to send focused beams into space. The program invited sci-fi author, scientist and NSAS consultant David Brin to discuss many ideas inherent in the topic how to let extraterrestrial life know that that there is supposedly intelligent life on earth, and “when to say who you are.”

One of the things mentioned that caught my attention: Brin stated that although our technology has much advanced in the past 30 some years, the advent of cable and other non-antenna dependent way of accessing television shows means that we were “louder” (in terms of sending information outward) in the 1980s.

I was grateful to realize one implication of that statement:  Duck Dynasty is less likely to be accessed by potential ET visitors. But it gave me pause to consider what any intelligence sufficiently advanced to receive our broadcast from the 1980s – when most popular TV shows included such intellectually-stimulating fare as Joanie Loves Chachi and  The Love Boat – might think about us. My guess is the ETs might immediately erect the cosmic equivalent of police yellow tape around paths leading to the planet Terra, and warn their fellow galactic travelers to “move along folks, move along folks, there’s nothing here to see.”

 

loveboat

They’re looking for intelligent life? What a coincidence – so are we!

*   *   *

Department Of Peeking At A Writer’s Glamorous Life
Item #1382

The upside of receiving biannual royalty statements for a book which was published eleven years ago and is out of print and thus hasn’t sold any copies in several years: It takes less than thirty seconds to reconcile and file the statement. 

*   *   *

Department Of Om – What She Said

I practiced yoga at home, off and on but mostly on, for ~ 25 years. FAVOR, [5] mostly including a pesky tendinitis-like injury to my left elbow, [6] my mat work in that form of exercise has been sparse-to-non-existent the past five years.

In all those years my practice was self-motivated and solo; I never attended a yoga class, but learned from a wide variety of teachers via videos and DVDs.  The days of when I could (and wanted to) jump back into chaturanga during a vinyasa, (landing in a low pushup with body weight supported only by toes and hands) are likely long gone. Also gone is my desire to do the more vigorous forms, “power” yoga. I’ve got free weight routines for that kind of workout. These days, I’m all about relaxation and stress reduction.

As for the latter, I figured it was time to find a good class/studio/teacher…but I’m selective, and not much of a joiner.  And, as un-yoga as it may be to be so critical, what I was not seeking (and what is too easy to find) is a couple of twenty-something PYTs who took a few yoga classes, liked how they looked in yogatards, [7] forked out $3k for a Yoga Training certificate, rented a space, opened a studio, call themselves Experienced Yoga Teachers and want to fill their classes with bodies like their own and have no idea about the capabilities and concerns of those of us whose joints have 50+ years of mileage.

 

 

yoga

Sorry, lady…maybe the AARP offer something suitable for you?

 

 

After much perusal I think I’ve found a match. The practice space at Yogaomazing is…well…amazing. As was the class I took there, given by a very nice yogini, who maintained her attentive calm and gentle, unflappable spirit and batted not one eyelash when I used the word dildo [8] in her beautiful, light-filled, wall-of-windows studio.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Public Service Announcements

Remember to Celebrate National Cher Day  [9] tomorrow before you go to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you find a reason to exhale;
May you have the poise to refuse “delicacies” that would knock a buzzard off a shit wagon;
May you, like Cher, remember to turn back time;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] And often mistakenly, IMHO.

[2] A part of me thinks there is no such tradition, and that as soon as the well-meaning (read: patronizing) white guest leaves, the tribe later dishes themselves: “Can you believe we got him to swallow that – what kind of ignoramus thinks we eat hyena pus pie?”

[3] e.g., the ones I’ve heard of include things like monkey brains or slug’s milk cheese or shark’s bladder soup Or other “food items” I’ve read about which should induce immediate vegetarianism in those who would even consider ingesting said items.

[4] Reporter Dave Davies, substituting for host Terry Gross, who must be slapping herself over having missed such a stimulating conversation.

[5] My favorite (no pun intended) acronym, which translates For A Variety Of Reasons.

[6] Not yoga-related…but a good story, which I may relay in these pages one day, with my offspring’s’ permission.

[7] The term for a one-piece stretch garment worn by some yogis – not a pejorative for a spastic person trying to do advanced yoga poses…shame on you for even thinking that.

[8] Nothing yoga-related, I assure you, but, believe-it-or-not, apropos to a story I was telling her.

[9] Aka knows as the end of Daylight Savings Time.

The Lunch I’m Not Buying

2 Comments

For almost twenty years, my Canadian-born neighbor and friend has been itching to give moiself suggestions for the Canadian Trip I Have Yet To Take ® . Tuesday morning I awoke early, excited about the decisions I’d made on Monday re just such a trip. I looked forward to emailing an invitation to her: “I’ll take you out to lunch and you can be my travel agent!”

But first, I decided to go ahead and book my trip.

Long Story Short: I have a significant birthday coming up in few weeks, and have had a significant Act 3 Career & Life Crisis ®  going on for a few…years.  I shared some recent downturns regarding such things with friend SCM who, wise counselor that she is,  [1] offered this wise counsel:

It’s obvious you need a control-alt-delete from life right now….

She advised I take a trip, to…anywhere. Someplace totally random, or “…even if it’s just Quebec or Victoria or someplace on the same continent, you need a break from real life.”

I’d been thinking along similar lines – a meditative kind of vacation, not a trip involving lots of activities, which is what I’d usually want. I need to go alone, to have contemplative opportunity away from distractions, from the familiarity of work, routine, home and family…the kind of trip where you are forced to chill, where my main activity would be a combination of taking it easy, taking stock, and Figuring Things Out ® .

A long train trip would fit the bill. One where the destination is not so important as the process…and with really cool scenery on the way. However, my birthday being when it is (within loogie-hocking distance of Christmas)…what’s available/accessible in December?

After many days of research, I’d found the one that hit the spot with both my head and heart: Vacation By Rail’s Canadian Snow train, which travels across five provinces, from Toronto to Vancouver. I discussed it with MH Monday at dinner, working out which departure dates would be good for him perhaps being able to meet up with me at the end of my solo jaunt and spend a couple of days sightseeing in Vancouver. Later that eve, my fitful sleep was, for once, due to a good cause. I was filled with restless excitement – I was doing whatI usually poke fun at: setting my heart on something.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Here is the email I sent to MH Tuesday morning, after I’d tried to make the reservations.

Subject line – trip: back to square one.

I noticed that no matter what date I put in on the train trip, just trying to see how far I could get in the online scheduling process, I got a message saying I had to call to speak to a booking agent to continue.

 It turns out that I had to call because I was booking for one passenger traveling solo, and they don’t list that price on line. The price listed on Vacation by Rail site’s – $___ for the rate class I sought – is the price per passenger for more than one passenger.  Same trip, same room, for a single passenger is “…uh,…significantly higher,” the very nice (and apologetic and embarrassed-soundin)  booking agent said, after she’d looked it up.  “Significantly higher” turns out to be More. Than. Double.

 Seriously  – over $8k  (I stopped writing the figure down after I heard the “Eight thousand…”)

 I told the booking lady I feel as if I’ve been had.

 I flashed back to a conversation during my Croatia/Slovenia/Bosnia trip, where a bunch of the veteran travelers were talking at dinner about the many reasons they liked Rick Steves tours, including the fact that there was no price discrimination for single/solo travelers.

 I woke up excited this morning (can’t remember the last time that has happened) and now I feel like I’m six years old and someone strangled my hamster.

 I don’t often burst into tears when talking to a stranger on the phone…at least I managed to hold off until I hung up.

 Fuck. To put it mildly.   [2]

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Should Know About Me If We’re Going To Be Friends

I like “bugs.” Mammalia and Insecta –  I am appreciative of our respective ecological niches…with notable exceptions  [3] . I particularly respect and admire spiders. If at all possible, any spider found in our house is escorted to the great outdoors (as opposed to squashing it), where she may build her web in peace and harmony.

 

 

spider

We love you too, sweetie.

 

 

Ants, however, can kiss my ass – but Noooo,  blog-reading ants out there, do not take that literally, because I absolutely hate hate hate it when you creepy crawlers get in the house.

Maybe it was that stupid movie I saw as a kid – a movie which held the distinctions of being both the first nuclear-mutated-big-monster movie and the first horror movie I ever saw on TV. I had nightmares for days, until…once again, Science to the rescue! ®   With a little research I discovered that humans could never be attacked by giant mutant ants due to basic laws of physics; that is, physical limitations of the ants’ exoskeletons meant they’d be unable to support a body weight beyond a certain size.

 

 

 

them

 

 

 

Still, I find little comfort in the fact that ants will always remain small. The ants go marching one by one – that’s the part that gets me.

The hive mentality is abhorrent and frightening to me. I am uncomfortable around any creatures which display groupthink and which, voluntarily or otherwise, act as slaves to instinct. From social insects to German soldiers marching in lockstep; from fundamentalist Christians simultaneously raising their hands at a faith healing rally to Mormon missionaries on bicycles to a bazillion Muslims all dressed white and in throwing pebbles at pillars during their hajj…..ICK.

Ants in the house is the worst; I feel like I’m being invaded by The Borg.  And I don’t just want to kill them; I want to frighten them. I want to hire tiny ant IRA operatives to kneecap the invaders so they can return to their colony as a living warning to the others: stay away from this lady; she means business!

Can you guess what tried to occupy our kitchen this week?

 

 

hateants

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Things We Do For Science

Text exchange between daughter Belle, a junior majoring in Biology at the University of Puget Sound, and moiself, yesterday:

Belle: …guess what – I am now the temporary owner of a super cute frog.

Moiself: Temporary? You mean you’re watching it while someone is away? And you know you must prove it is super cute…

And she did:

 

 

sadiefrog

 

 

Moiself: Dude, that looks like a huge toad!

Belle: He’s for my ecology independent research project!

Moiself: What are you researching?

Belle: Me and my partner are looking at how diet nutrient content affects behavior syndromes in crickets after a predator stimulation.

Moiself: So, you’re actually interested in cricket behavior? The frog is just there to be the predator?

Belle: Basically we’re feeding crickets a bunch of different diets, and seeing if that affects how brave they are in the presence of a predator. Yeah, he’s just there to scare some crickets.

Moiself: Are these male crickets? If so, just given them a diet of nothing but beer and they’ll think they’re invincible. I’m serious. You might win a Nobel Prize for this.

Belle: The sex of our crickets is unknown, ha ha.

Moiself: Well then, can your research project have more than one hypothesis? Do the beer diet thing, and if it produces what passes for cricket bravado, they are likely male. If it has no effect, except that the crickets seem to be getting a bit heavy in the hip, they are likely female – and you have found a noninvasive way to determine the sex of crickets.

Belle: I don’t think they’ll let us use beer.

Moiself:  Hot pockets?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Going Through The Motions

For reasons that should have been made clear in the opening of this post, I’m not in much of a oh-fa-la-la-la-la-la-here-come-the-holidays mood. [4] Nevertheless, with Halloween just around the bend, it’s time to share what has become my holiday season tradition:

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be careful what you set your heart on;
May you be free from ant and Borg invasions;
May you find the good in going through the motions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Literally. Among her many attributes (such as being the Queen of Hats), she is a lawyer.

[2] After several hours of feeling like I got kicked in the gut, I got back in the saddle so to speak, and researched more options…and once again and more than once encountered the obscene solo traveler surcharge. Not gonna be a party to that ripoff.

[3] IMHO, fleas and mosquitoes can suck festering, turd-encrusted donkey dicks and die.

[4] And only four footnotes? Now, that’s a funk.

The Hipster Kid I’m Not Running Over

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Department Of Because, You Know, Spooky

 

spooky

*   *   *

Department Of Hipster Dad Fail

Dateline: Sunday, New Seasons market. I am pushing one of the small carts…

 

 

samall-cart

This size

largecart

not this size

 

 

…on my way to a checkout counter, and as I navigate around a display of seasonal candies I encounter a man who could be a model for the iconic Portland Hipster Dad ® .

 

 

hipsterdad

 

By encounter I mean he’s right in front of my cart. He puts his hand out, in a manner I recognize as Stop! Immediately! and steps slightly to his left (my right)…but says nothing. I stop pushing the cart, look down, and see a young boy, approximately 3-4 years old, who is walking, slowly but directly, toward my cart. Hipster Dad’s son  [1]  is holding a small electronic device in his palm; he is intently studying said device and seems oblivious to my presence. In other words, the kid was about to walk right into me…or into the path of my cart…or I was about to run over the kid – which I’m sure, was Hipster Dad’s interpretation of the future scenario.

Hipster Dad says nothing, not to me nor to his child. He continues to look at me intently with his hand out, while his kid is paying no attention to anything but the device in his palm. All three of us are silent; I look expectantly to the father, expecting him to say something to his son about stepping aside or paying attention, but Hipster Dad remains immobile and mute,  [2] holding out that damn hand as if he’s stopping traffic for the passing of the Dalai Lama.

 

 

dalil

Excuse me, I am looking for the kosher foods aisle….

 

 

The boy finally looks up and sees me. He stops his forward movement, maybe a foot in front of my cart, but does not step to the side. I look at the dad again; who remains silent. I favor the kid with a smile/glower and say, “WELL?!?!?” and he moves out of my way.

*   *   *

Department Of Science-Induced Flashbacks

Reading a recent report on jumping spiders was the impetus for the following haven’t-thought-of-that-in-years recollection:

It was a late afternoon in the early spring, during my freshman year in college. About fifteen or so 3rd floor Bixby [3] residents, including moiself, were on our dorm’s rooftop…where we technically weren’t supposed to be, but it was a such a gorgeous, sunny day, why study at the library? Those of us who were finished with afternoon classes donned shorts and/or swim suit-ish attire, schlepped our beach towels and textbooks up two floors and through the forbidden stairway and claimed territory on the roof.

A guy who lived across the hall from me placed his beach towel next to mine. He was clothing-free except for swim trunks, which meant that his massively carpeted torso was on display for us lucky ladies…who, if truth be told, were not all that taken with the blond torrent of chest hairs which formed hurricane spiral-type swirls around his nipples (his dorm nickname, of which he was quite proud, was “The Hun.”).

The Hun opened his textbook for the engineering class he was soon to flunk transfer out of. After a minute or two he closed his book, looked around the rooftop, and decided to make conversation with me about how this was the first time he’d seen this many people up on the roof, and in shorts, and….

“Hey,” he tapped me on the knee. “You don’t shave your legs?”

“That’s right,” moiself said.

“Why don’t you shave your legs?” The Hun’s tone was curious, not hostile.

“Why don’t you shave your legs?” I tapped his knee, or, at least where I assumed his knee would be, under all that leg-wool.

“I’m a man,” he replied.

I shut my calculus book, my mouth gaping in astonishment to realize that, at that very moment, I was witness to

YET  ANOTHER  THRILLING  MOMENT  IN
GENDER  IDENTIFICATION  HISTORY

 

clappingjpg

 

I pointed toward the reddish-yellow tendrils infesting his upper lip and curling down and around his chin. It seemed The Hun had been trying to grow a beard. There were several guys on our floor who had moustaches, but beards were not popular at that time.

“Why have you stopped shaving your face?”

With anyone else, the point would have been easily made, or even conceded. But not the Hun, whose face (which he was no longer shaving) assumed its confused countenance, a look which was his default expression when he was forced to contemplate anything more complicated than when his next beer break was coming from.

I reopened my textbook and smiled benignly – okay, patronizingly – as I considered both the futility of future conversation on the subject and the wisdom of a certain adage.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.

Oh but now, Dearest Reader, I could have directed him to news article and told him, “I don’t shave my legs because, well, Science. Following the example of the sisterhood of Jumping Spiders, I have found a way to increase my aural acuity:

Jumping Spiders Can ‘Hear’ Using Their Leg Hairs

 

jumpingspider

Who’s laughing – yeah, I HEARD THAT!

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Later

Like most women I know – holy fucking festering pigslop, why is this the case ?!?!? – I have my own experience with sexual harassment. I will save that story for later.

In last week’s blog post I wrote about the #notokay, and women and girls sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment being in the wake of the release of the Donald Trump Grab ’em by the pussy  tapes.   [4]  In light of the truly appalling nature of so many of the stories, it didn’t seem somehow…respectful of me to reference one of my experiences…which was less crude by comparison but still…not okay, to put it mildly.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I worked in the Publications Department of a Society which was, at that time, California’s largest business, networking and continuing education organization for a certain profession.  [5] The Publications Department was responsible for putting out a quarterly magazine for all Society members, as well as monthly newsletters for the fourteen regional chapters of the Society. The department consisted of the editor, assistant editor, art editor and classified advertising editor – moiself – who shared a large open office, and the PD Director and his secretary, who had offices down the hall, separate from The Rest Of Us ® .

It was an open secret that the Publications Department. Director, a man in his early forties whose perpetually smirking face sported what would nowadays be called a Porn Moustache, put in as little work as possible, with his secretary covering for him whenever someone higher up in the society needed to ask him a question. His long lunch breaks and frequent absences were fine by The Rest Of Us, who were all similar in age (mid-to-late twenties), who genuinely liked one another and sometimes socialized after work…and who individually and collectively did not like our boss, who gave off a distinctly creepy vibe.

One afternoon when the editor, assistant editor and art editor had gone down to the basement to confer with the mail guy about a magazine packaging, the PDD entered our office. I was alone at my desk, typing up some ad copy. Intent as I was on correcting the mystifyingly common grammatical errors of so-called professionals, I was not aware of the PDD’s presence until he was standing behind me. Very close behind me.

Without saying a work, the PDD placed his hand on my right shoulder. I shrugged my shoulder as if trying to dislodge a tarantula, and cast an excusez moi?! glance over my shoulder. He withdrew his hand. I proceeded to type.  He proceeded to place both of his hands on my shoulders. He remained silent, but the intention of his touch was…ick.

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

I ripped the ad copy from my typewriter, stood up and strode across the office, to the editor’s desk. I placed the copy on her desk, crossed my arms and glared back at my boss, who was still standing behind my desk chair. At that moment, my three comrades returned. The PDD made small talk with the art editor and then slithered down the hall returned to his office. The editor began to fill me in about the meeting with the mail guy and asked me something about the ad copy.

I had no idea what to say, or even to think about, what had just happened. So I did neither.

 Two days later the PDD called the four of us to his office, to discuss a few “minor changes” he wanted made to the next edition of the Society’s magazine. He mentioned a few graphics rearrangements he wanted to see on the front page, then announced that the masthead would be streamlined: from the next issue forward there would be just four names listed: The Publications Department Director as Executive Editor, the Editor, the Assistant Editor, and the Art Director/Editor. The position of Classified Ads editor would be deleted from the credits.

The Editor, flummoxed at first, quickly gained her composure. She argued in vain to keep my credit (“The classified ads editor has always been listed in the masthead; it’s an important position – advertising revenues are what supports the….”) while the art director and I exchanged what would nowadays be termed WTF?!?! looks. The PDD quickly quashed any further dissension on that subject and segued to his dissatisfaction with a banner ad the art director had designed.

Although I could have (hopefully) counted on my fellow editors for job references, should I have sought future employment in a related field, [6] my name in the magazine’s masthead was hard copy proof of my job title and experience. And just like that, it was gone.

I knew exactly what had transpired. I’d not yet heard the term sexual harassment, but I knew retaliation when I smelled it.

 

bad-smell

*   *   *

Department Of Remind Me Again Why We Put Up With This

One of the justifications for holding presidential debates [7] is that such forums are supposed to help undecided voters get off their cognitive asses and make informed if difficult choices  make a decision. It’s hard for me to imagine how anyone can be undecided at this point, considering how the GOP candidate has repeatedly demonstrated that not only is he unfit for elected office, he’s unable to ape even the most basic civilized hominid behavior.

At this point, given the evidence amassed which shows he’s qualified for nothing other than Demagogue-In-Chief, it is likely that anything can change Trump supporters’ anacephalic minds. If verifiable video footage surfaced which showed The Donald joining forces with Vladimir Putin and Adolph Hitler to nude mud wrestle and hogtie an endangered baby rhinoceros, Trump supporters would point to it as evidence of Trump’s extensive foreign-policy experience.

 

rhino

Mommy, will I ever be old enough to understand why anybody would vote for that mean man?

*   *   *

 

May you voluntarily wrestle in the mud of reality;
May you be comforted by the baby Rhino of Reassurance;  [8]
May you from this point onward have no #notokay experiences;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That is what I assumed the little boy to be.

[2] He was not in fact mute, as I heard him say something to his son after I walked away.

[3] One of the high rise dorms at UC Davis.

[4] The tape’s transcript, in all its lewd glory, can be read here.

[5] Not the world’s oldest.

[6] I didn’t, and I left that job about two months later.

[7] Other than providing ready-made material for SNL skits.

[8] If Lithuanians can have a crustacean of  prophecy then I can have a rhino of reassurance.

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