Department Of the Peeviest of Pet Peeves,; Aka, Most Unhelpful Phone Message Ever
“The person at extension 4-0-0 is on the phone.”
That’s it. Followed by dead silence.
Gee, that’s…uh…great to know. The person at extension 4-0-0 is on the phone; I’m so happy for them.
No person’s name; no options to remain on the line, or return to the main menu, or to leave a message…no indication if the clinic is still “on the line”….
In order to protect the privacy of this business with the significantly inferior telephone answering/routing system, I’ll call them TheRinehart Clinic. Because that’s their name. (Oops.  )
The ten-plus phone calls I made to the clinic were regarding a message left on my cell phone Monday morning, in which The Person at Extension 4-0-0- ® asked me to call the clinic to “verify some information regarding your insurance.”  . As is the case with many businesses, when you call the number they leave on their message to you, there is no actual person with whom to speak.
“And If I cannot assist you, another White Man in A Blue Suit will be with you shortly.”
First, you must navigate through the answering messages (starting with, “Press 1 on your keyboard for English and 2 for Spanish…”) and go through the various options. No problem with that; moiself does it all the time…except that this time (these ten plus times I called over the next two days) I am left hanging with a “huh?” after I go through all of their menu options, none of which is the “for all other questions/options, press zero (and or stay on the line) and a person will assist you.”
* * *
Department Of All of #45’s “Die Hard Supporters” Deserve This Surname
A woman (“a die-hard supporter of former President D_____ J. _____”  ) living in a New Jersey Town has been ordered by a local judge to take down three of the ten anti-Biden signs she has put up outside her home, after she refused requests from the town mayor and code-enforcement officer to do so. Neighbors complained that three of the signs use the f-word and/or other obscenities, in violation of the town’s anti-obscenity ordinance.
” ‘There are alternative methods for the defendant to express her pleasure or displeasure with certain political figures in the United States,’ (a local judge) said in his ruling… noting the proximity of (the house) to a school.
The use of vulgarity, he continued, ‘exposes elementary-age children to that word, every day, as they pass by the residence.’…
‘Freedom of speech is not simply an absolute right,’ he added, noting later that ‘the case is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language.’ “
( “She Hates Biden. Some of Her Neighbors Hate the Way She Shows It.” NY Times 7-20-21 )
The die-hard woman’s name? Andrea Dick.
* * *
Department Of The Age Of Aquarius…Not
For many years, when people asked for and/or estimated my age  they underestimated it. Most times by a decade or more.
Moiself thinks this is because I had my children relatively later in life.  Thus, I was older than most of my kids’ peers’ parents…and, if you hang in that group, everyone curves you down. That, plus basic immaturity and wearing Chuck Taylor Hightops as my formal footwear of choice got most people to shave ten years off my actual age. 
Guess what shoes moiselfwore to her wedding?
Just in case y’all think I’m bragging: that underestimation of my age? Doesn’t happen anymore.
I haven’t thought about that for a long time. Then, earlier this week, moiself was listening to the most recent Clear + Vivid podcast (“Paul Rudd: In The Moment With Antman”), and heard an exchange between host and guest which made me guffaw aloud, startling the woman who was across the street from me, walking her German Shepherd (neither the woman nor her dog noticed my earbuds; they just saw me as someone who seemingly made snorting laugh sounds, apropos of nothing).
What caught my attention was at the end of the podcast, where host Alan Alda asked his guest, actor Paul Rudd, several questions that have some connection with the topic of communication. The question of note was, “What is the strangest question anyone has ever asked you?”
Rudd: “I have one question that I never really know how to answer…in that people always want to know, they say, “You don’t age – what to do you do…”
like they want to know, uh, my skin care routine, or what is it? They don’t think I am aging as quickly as I should.…
I never know what to say…it’s nice…I go, ‘Thank you,’ but I always struggle with that one.”
Alda: “I have a funny version of that. I seemed to have looked younger to people, for a long time, than I really was. And when I was sixty, people would say, ‘How old are you?’ and I’d say, ‘I’m sixty,’ and they’d say, “Oh, no, no, c’mon…” and now they say, ‘How old are you?’ and I say, ‘I’m eighty-five,’ and they say, ‘Uh huh.’ There’s an age everybody reaches where it’s, ‘Uh huh.’ “
Rudd: “I know what you mean…I’m starting to get that – they ask, I say, ‘I’m fifty-two,’
and it’s, ‘Okay; yeah, that makes sense.’ “
* * *
Dateline: Thursday morning, returning from a walk. I see a small metallic object on the sidewalk, glistening in the morning sunlight. I stride past it, then turn around and take its picture, when I realize that it appears to be the basket from a deep fat fryer.
What is it doing there, alone, on the sidewalk, no other cullinary implements in sight? Obviously, this is proof of extra-terrestrial visitation. What other rational explanation could there be, other than an alien life form left a tracking device, cleverly disguised as an innocuous, commonly seen, fast food appliance part?
But seriously, ladies and germs… if moiself were to apply some classic deductive reasoning here, what is the context of this seemingly random item?
* I saw it on the sidewalk, between the light rail stop parking lot and the Washington County Fairgrounds complexes. * the sidewalk was about 500 yards away from where the Washington County Fair will be held, starting today.
You may have had the misfortune occasion to visit a county fair once or twice in your life, and in doing so it is likely you noticed how such events are infested with “food” booths that serve almost anything deep-fried, from corndogs to pickles to ice cream to Oreos to green tomatoes to macaroni-and-cheese…. Thus, it is possible that a food booth vendor or employee took the light rail (or drove there and parked their car in the light rail lot  ) and was on their way to the Fairground, toting some of the equipment for their food booth, and one smaller component – the fryer basket in question – fell out of their arms, or box, or bag…
Now, how could they drop such an object, without noticing? The basket was metal; it would have made a clattering sound when it hit the sidewalk. A possible explanation is that the Fryer Basket Dropper, ® ala 90% of the people I see each day, was walking with headphones or earbuds in their ears, listening to music (or a podcast!) or whatever, which effectively made that clattering sound just another a bit of background noise. And the basket wasn’t heavy enough to make the person notice its absence, as in, “Hey, my load has suddenly gotten really light – I all I must’ve dropped something…”
On the other hand, the ET object story is much more fun.
When trying to account for something which you find surprising, it is often more entertaining to take the religious point of view: don’t even question that which you do not understand, or for which you have no logical explanation. Instead, embrace it as one of the great Mysteries Of Life ® .
Perhaps a shrine to it will be erected soon. And is that an image of the Virgin Mary I see in the basket’s corner?
What does a Sith Lord use to immobilize his enemies in their old age,
instead of killing them? Darth Ritis.
An eight-year-old weasel walks into a bar.
The bartender says, “You’re under-aged; I can’t serve you any alcohol.
But I have bottled water, energy drinks, and pop.” “Pop!” goes the weasel.
As I get older and remember all the people I’ve lost along the way, I think to myself, “Maybe a career as a tour guide wasn’t for me.”
Husband: “You tell me several men had proposed marriage to you?” Wife: “‘Yes, several.” Husband: “Well, I wish you’d have married the first fool who proposed.” Wife: “I did.”
* * *
May you practice your freedom of political expression without being a Dick; May you enjoy the ages of “Uh-huh” and “Okay; that makes sense;” May you provide a really good explanation for a random object sighting; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Is that a violation of health care business HIPA?
 I received my COVID-19 vaccinations at a site run by the Rinehart Clinic; my only contact with them, so it must be re those visits.
 As long-time readers of This Blog ® know, that festering turd of an excuse for DNA shall not be dignified here by usage of his full, faux-human name.
 And 99% of the times people asked that question, the information was not relevant and my kneejerk, if unspoken, reaction was, “And you want to know this because….?”
 I birthed son K when I was 36 and daughter Belle when I was 39.
Author Isaacson frames Doudna’s story with a statement the author makes as a fact (which could be disputed) about what he calls the three great revolutions of modern times:
“The invention of CRISPR and the plague of COVID will hasten our transition to the third great revolution of modern times. These revolutions arose from the discovery, beginning just over a century ago, of the three fundamental kernels of our existence: the atom, the bit, and the gene.”
Normal DNA: Moiself’s favorite DNA.
Revolution one, Isaacson posits, occurred in the first half of the 20th century. This was the atom-centered revolution, driven by physics and Einstein’ papers and theories, with the resulting developments of the atomic bomb, nuclear power, transistors and spaceships and laser and radar.
The second half of the 20th century gave us the information-based technology (the bit-centered revolution), based on the idea that all information could be encoded by binary digits…which led to the microchip, the computer, and the internet, the three of which combined to make “the digital revolution.”
The third revolution began in the late 20th century, and we are in the midst of it now: the gene-centered, “life-science revolution,” wherein “…children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.”
“My work was both physics-driven and hair-raising.”
I’m midway through the book, which is quite a good read, if I do say so moiself.  Despite the author’s layperson-friendly presentation I find I must take frequent “brain breaks” to process the information presented.  I enjoy the weaving of Doudna’s story with the history of the eccentric, brilliant, and creative – and also competitive, back-biting, and oft times greedy and uncooperative and ungenerous (surprise!) – scientists working in the fields of gene and DNA research. Sadly/frustratingly, as when one delves into the history of any scientific field, these stories include how female scientists’ discoveries and contributions were hijacked and/or mis-credited (by and to male colleagues), as in the case of biochemist Rosalind Franklin’s work in X-ray crystallography.. Franklin’s extensive x-ray work,  which was initially used by fellow DNA researchers Francis Crick and James Watson without her permission (“photo 51“), led to the understanding and deciphering of the DNA’s double helix-complementary base pair structure. Crick and Watson and another (male) colleague of theirs were to receive the Noble Prize (“…re Franklin and the Nobel Prize she never won, even Watson begrudgingly says that she should have gotten it. ‘ “) 
Yet again, I digress.
The author’s opening premise struck me as quite profound: the idea that three miniscule “units” (atom; bit; gene) led and are leading to colossal scientific and cultural changes. Moiself shared this with MH, who took issue (picked a nit?) with the idea that the “bit” is a discovery (isn’t it more of an invention?). So, what thinketh y’all? Are those three an adequate encapsulation of the “revolutions” of the past century? Would you add (or subtract) others?
* * *
Department Of Quote Of The Week
Sue Black, Scottish forensic scientist, anthropologist, and professor, is the honored source of this quote, as per her appearance on the most recent Clear + Vivid podcast. ( “Sue Black, Forensic Supersleuth ” ).
Podcast host Alan Alda asked Black about the process of interviewing people who want to donate their body to scientific research. Black tries to speak with people who sign anatomical donation forms as part of her teaching empathy – as well as respect for such “a profound gift” – to her anatomy and dissection students. What are some of reasons people have given, Alda asked? A variety of reasons, as it turns out: from gratitude for scientific and medical advances that helped them or a loved one; or wanting to be part of a scientific/medical field but never able to do so, and this is their way of taking part….etcetera. Then Black shared one of her favorite stories.
“I had the most *gorgeous* lady who came into my office one afternoon. She must have been in her seventies and she was literally dressed to the nines – she had the makeup and she had the jewelry, and I said to her, ‘Why would you want to donate your body?’ and she looked at me and she said,
‘Quite frankly, young woman, *this* is just too good to burn!’ “
“Too good to burn, you bet your ass.”
In the end of the C+V podcasts, host Alda asks his guests “Seven Quick Questions” that have some connection with communication. Black said, in response to the question, “What’s the strangest question anyone has ever asked you?” that the strange questions she gets are usually in regard to what she wants to do regarding her own death. Black said that because of what she does she has no fear of death; she attributed that attitude in part to the fact that her grandmother taught her that “death is your friend that walks along side you all of your life,” and so “…you’d better get to know her and make a friend of her because she’s not going away and eventually is going to be there at the end.” Black told her family that she wants her body to be donated to the anatomy department to be dissected, and wants her bone to be retained,
“…and if they could string my skeleton up, then I could be an articulated skeleton, in my dissection room, teaching for the rest of my death.
I have no intention of ever stopping working, and death is not going to get in the way of that.”
Three days later I am still marveling at that. Especially as we age, we are so often asked what we intend to do “with the rest of your life.” What a beautiful and unique viewpoint, to think of what you’ll be doing for the rest of your death.
* * *
Punz For The Day Geneticists’ Edition
A mad scientist drugged, kidnapped, and experimented on me,
replacing my arms with a Grizzly’s paws. If I see him again I’ll tear him apart with my bear hands.
Geneticist: “We have your test results; I’m afraid your DNA is backwards.” Me: “And?”
Advertisers should use pictures of the 23rd chromosome pair in their commercials. Because, you know, sex cells.
* * *
May you forever be “too good to burn;” May you marvel at the atom-bit-gene revolutions; May you ponder what to do with the rest of your life…and death; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Department Of Marital Bliss, Lowered Expectations Division
Earlier in the week I read a New York Times article about a crime that has scandalized Iran: an elderly couple was arrested for drugging, suffocating, stabbing, then dismembering three people. The couple expressed no remorse, even though the murder victims were their son and their daughter and her husband.
“I have no guilty conscience for any of the murders,” (the husband) said in a TV interview from detention. “I killed people who were very morally corrupt.”
“We decided together, the two of us,” (the wife said)….My husband suggested it and I agreed. I have a great relationship with my husband. He doesn’t beat me or curse at me.”
( “They Were the Nice, Older Couple Next Door. Then the First Body Turned Up,” NY Times 7-5-21 )
As bizarre/disturbing as the murders are,  that is not what lingered in my mind after reading this story. Rather, I was drawn to the WTF?!?!? criteria of the wife’s “great relationship” with her husband.
Moiself may be slogging into the “cultural differences” swamp, so grap your hip waders. The thing is, this is not the first time I’ve come across such an anemic description of the qualities of a good husband. Many is the time I have read a quote, from a woman living in a highly conservative/patriarchal and (often, but not exclusively) Islamic society, as to what a good husband is. And most of the time, it is a list of “non-negatives.” 
My husband and I have a good relationship because he DOESN’T * beat me
* curse at me
* force me to have sex
* pull out chunks of my hair if he sees it peeking from behind my head scarf
*forbid me from leaving the house without a male escort
* burn my books and prevent me from obtaining an education
* steal my food
* lock me outside in the cold because he said I made lumpy hummus
* siphon from our children’s sons’ college fund to pay his sports gambling debts
“Before my husband murders our adult children, he tells me about it. We have a good relationship.”
* * *
Department of Back To School Daze
“Ultimately life is disease, death and oblivion.
It’s still better than high school.” ( Dan Savage )
Dateline: last Sunday. MH was out of town; son K came to dinner. Moiselfcannot remember the exact prompt or context for the story K shared with me (and neither can he; I checked), but it was about a play on words he’d recently heard, which he thought was clever and funny, but which someone else said was insulting. K and I talked about the “that’s funny – no, that’s insulting” controversy which sometimes arises when a person takes words or sounds from different languages (or even your “own” language) and uses the sounds to form puns and/or humorous words. “Remember the Car Talk credits list – their Russian chauffer?” K asked. How could I forget? That show was one of our family faves. K and I began sharing “the best” titles and names that we could remember, from the show’s infamous credits list.
Engineersscientist/car repair enthusiasts Tommy and Ray Magliozzi (aka “Click and Clack – the Tappett brothers”) hosted the NPR show Car Talk from 1977 – 2012. They ended each broadcast by reading select entries from their ever-expanding list of recently acquired staff, a mere sample of which follows:
– Accounts Payable Administrator Imelda Czechs – Accounts Receivable Supervisor, Mumbai Office Vishnu Payup – Bad Joke Interpreter Nadia Geddit – Book Critic Odessa Paige Turner – Child Transportation Specialist Minnie Van Driver – Coordinator, 12-Step Recovery Program Cody Pendant – Director of Gender Studies Amanda B. Reckondwyth – Director of Japanese Cooling Systems Emperor Overhito – Director of Pavlovian Research Isabelle Ringing – Elvis Impersonator Amal Shookup – French Dogwalker Poupon Degrasse – Gastroenterologist Cameron Diaz – Gum Surgeon Perry O’ Dontal – Head of Working Mother Support Group Erasmus B. Dragon – Latin American Bullfighting Specialist Gordon Diaz – Liaison to the British Isles Isaiah Oldchap – Marine Biologist Frieda Wales – Plumber’s Crack Apologist Lucy Lastik – President, Disgruntled Hatchback Owners Club Ivana Trunk – Restroom Attendants Trudy Door & Donna Hall – Russian chauffer Pikov Andropoff – Staff Meteorologist from the Seattle Office Wayne Goaway – Swedish Attorney Bjorn Liar – Teenage Valet Lao Tse Parker – Tom’s Personal Matchmaker Robin D’Craydell – Undergarment Inspector I.C. London – Visually Impaired Parking Lot Attendant Dale Neverknow – Wine Taster from the Abu Dhabi Office Hassen Ben Sober – Women’s Hockey Team Manager Miss Inga Tooth
K brought up his favorite incident involving phonetic names mashup/entendres: the notorious “pilot name scandal” which arose after the crash of a Korean Jetliner. In July 2013 Asiana flight 214 crashed on its final approach to San Francisco International Airport. Later that day, while reporting on the incident, a San Francisco TV news anchor was pranked by her staff, which led to her reading, with a straight face, straight from the teleprompter…  I’ll let the Wikipedia entry of the incident take it from here:
San Francisco television station KTVU fell victim to a prank which led news anchor Tori Campbell to report the names of the (flight 214) pilots as “Captain Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow” in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Viewers quickly realized that these “names” were in fact phonetic double entendres for “something’s wrong,” “we’re too low,” “holy fuck,” and the sounds of a crash. The prank was described as racist and unprofessional, and led to the firing of three veteran KTVU producers. While the source of these joke names remains unclear, the NTSB admitted in a statement that one of its summer interns had confirmed the erroneous names when they were stated by the news station.
Moiself, after I recovered from a severe case of ROTFLMAO when I watched the video of the prank newscast, was offended by those who were offended. Now, *of course* a plane crash is no laughing matter, but that wasn’t the point of the prank. See the above Car Talk credits list. The pilots’ names stunt was unprofessional…and, c’mon, admit it, fucking hilarious…but racist? As in, per the adjective form of the overused pejorative,
“based on racial intolerance” or
“discriminatory especially on the basis of race or religion”
The pilot-name-joke used the phenomenon of phonetic double entendres to imagine the conversation among the pilots as they realized their landing was going wrong; the joke was not disparaging of nor discriminatory against Korean airplanes, Korean pilots, or Korean people. I’ve little doubt that, had it been an American or French plane which had crashed at a Korean airport, some Korean smartass could’ve fashion a similar joke, using phonetic double entendres, from the English or French languages – names or phrases which would mean nothing to French or English speakers (and which we wouldn’t even recognize) but which would be hilarious to people fluent in Korean.
The pilot joke names were no more “racist” against Koreans than the Car Talk guy’s faux staff credit names were racist against Russians (“Russian chauffer, Pikov Andropoff”) or the French (“French Dogwalker, Poupon Degrasse”) or Indians (“Accounts Receivable Supervisor Mumbai Office, Vishnu Payup”) or Japanese (“Director of Japanese Cooling Systems, Emperor Overhito”) or Latinos (“Latin American Bullfighting Specialist, Gordon Diaz “) or Scandinavians (“Swedish Attorney, Bjorn Liar”) or Arabs (“Wine Taster from the Abu Dhabi Office, Hassen Ben Sober”), or members of the UK (“Liaison to the British Isles, Isaiah Oldchap”)….
If you don’t get understand why, or if you think you need to convince people who aren’t offended by this prank that they *should* be, please stop reading this blog, right now.
It was a classic, brazen, guerilla humor stunt; I hoped that the fired KTVU staff took their dismissal with equanimity – surely, they understood the risk they were taking. (I also hoped that they later found jobs as comedy writers for late night TV.)
K and I had fun re-living (and re-laughing at) our favorite Car Talk credits names…
…and I was struck by a memory of an incident which, although primal, was one I hadn’t thought of in years. I prefaced the sharing of this incident by telling K about a time, when I was in high school, when the phonetic double entendre thing was all the rage amongst a certain group of friends. We’d trade off fictious book titles and their authors’ names, ala,
“Under the Grandstand” By Seymour Butz
“One Hundred Yards To The Finish Line” By Willie Makeit Illustrated by Betty Wont
Yuk yuk. Yes, that passed for rapier-like wit in the tenth grade (and apparently also to K, who periodically shook his head and snickered, “Seymour Butz,” for the remainder of the evening). Then I asked him, “Did I ever tell you about what happened to me in high school, when the use of phonetic double entendres proved…troublesome?” K said no. Thus, what follows, my longest blog post to date, is kinda/sorta his fault. 
It was election time for next year’s SAHS student government officers. Moiself, my sophomore buddy, SG, and fellow senior DB, while eating our lunch in the Student Activities Office, lamented the election posters we’d seen posted – we were aghast at how BOOORRRRIIIINNG the signs were. No creativity or originality; most didn’t even give a reason why you should vote for this person for this particular office.
We decide to remedy the situation. Within minutes we’d designed election signs of our own, with fictitious candidate names for actual student body offices. SG and I were the main text composers; SG and DB, due to their superior artistic skills, did most of the graphics. The signs can be found at the end of this blog, before the footnotes.
We printed out several copies of each sign. And by printed out I mean mimeographed, boys and girls, because there were no photocopiers in public schools at that time.
All three of us were involved in a variety of student activities, including being teacher’s assistants. That, plus SG’s being a photographer for the school yearbook, DB’s being a cheerleader and former student body officer, and moiself holding various student government offices for three years straight, had given us familiarity with and access to the mimeograph machine located in the teacher’s lounge. Not one teacher batted an eye when SG and I entered the lounge, removed a stencil from the mimeograph machine (teachers were always leaving/forgetting to remove their stencils – a detail crucial to this story, later on), and ran our sign copies.
We taped the signs on our and our friends’ lockers and on a few of the halls around campus, next to or underneath the other (“real”) election signs. Constrained by the 8 ½ ” x 11″ paper capacity of the mimeograph machine, our signs were smaller and in black and white, unlike the larger, colorful (if boring) signs and banners put up by legit candidates. Thus, we weren’t expecting many people to even notice them (other than our friends and fellow student body officers, whom we planned on alerting to the prank). The lunch period ended, and we returned to our respective classrooms.
Our school had six classroom periods per day. Fifth period for me was Journalism (I wrote for the school newspaper). I left the class early on to run an errand for Mr. Clucas, the class teacher and school newspaper advisor.  The errand took a mere 5 minutes; when I returned to class Mr. Clucas told me that I’d just missed a school security guard (!!!), who had come to class, looking for me. The guard told Clucas that one of the school’s Vice Principals, “LM,” wanted to see me in the Student Activities’ office. It seems a teacher had alerted LM to “…something about ‘illegal election signs,’ ” Clucas said, his eyebrows raised in an And what are you up to now? manner. I grabbed a textbook I’d brought to class and, with Mr. Clucas’ blessing, left to go find and warn my fellow “illegal sign” cohorts.
I found SG in his advanced Spanish class – where español only was spoken. In my very unadvanced español I managed to convey to La Señora (the class teacher) that I needed to speak with Señor SG in private. As SG and I stood in the hallway outside SG’s class, exchanging what is going on?!?!speculations, a security guard approached us, and asked for our names. I can’t remember the exact name I gave – Al Capone, or some other gangster. SG immediately, brilliantly, gave another fugitive-from-justice moniker: Patty Hearst. After waiting an appropriate comic beat, I flashed the guard my best, oh-aren’t-we-silly smile. I told him my real name, said that I understood he’d been looking for me, and that SG and I were going to get our other friend who was involved “in this” and then we’d all go to the activities office.
SG and I turned toward the doorway which led outside, to where DB’s cheerleading class met. The guard said he was going to take us to the Activities Office, “right now.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me toward him; “You’re not going anywhere,”he said.
I yanked my arm from his grasp, flung my textbook to the ground, turned to face the wall, and assumed the classic perp spread: palms on the wall, legs apart, prepared for a pat-down. SG tried his best not to giggle at the guard’s obvious embarrassment/confusion at my reaction, as I called out, “You gonna search me for weapons?”
“Book ‘er, Danno.”
The guard made no further attempt to touch either moiselfor SG as he escorted us to the Activities Office, where we were joined by DB. The kangaroo court “meeting” consisted of five people: The Gang Of Three (“TGOT”: SG, moiself, DB), Vice Principal LM, and the Student Activities Director, “MTT.”
What followed was…confusing…infuriating… and saddening. We, TGOT, were in big trouble, the adults told us (LM did most of the talking). LM held up a handful of our election signs. How dare we put up fake, obscene, off-color, and racist election signs/? How dare we mock students running for office….
Wait a minute, TGOT protested, in indignation and legitimate confusion. Our signs (we were not told how TM figured out they were “ours”) mocked no actual person. And, “obscene,” “off-color,” “racist”? We made no obscene or racist signs – what signs are you talking about?
LM flipped through the signs he held, and pulled out the allegedly “racist” sign: “Vote for a true worker: Manuel Labor, Commissioner of Publicity.” TGOT’s reaction:
The pun on the name Manuel makes it racist? SG, who was Jewish, pointed to the Ben Dover for ASB President sign, noting that Ben, short for Benjamin, is a Jewish name. Using the name Manuel as a phonetic pun was no more racist than using Ben was anti-Semitic, SG declared.
Seeing as he was going to get no admission of malintent from us, LM moved on to the “obscene/off-color” sign. “Told ya,”I cracked at SG, when LM held up the sign for the Student Relations (“Want to relate? Well then vote for E.Z.! E.Z. Lay for Comissioner of Student Relations!“) (That was the one sign that I’d thought, if any adult paid any attention, might be considered a little iffy…but it was sosilly; who would take it seriously? It was SG’s idea and he had drawn it).
I looked straight into LM’s beady, petty eyes and haughtily informed him, in (what I hoped was) my best journalistic, I-have-a-larger-vocabulary-than-you, you-power-mad-ignorant-bureaucrat tone of voice, that the text of the sign employed juvenile sexual innuendo, not obscenity, and I proceeded to wonder aloud how any supposed adult did not understand the difference.
The meeting went even further downhill from there (surprise!). It became obvious that LM was determined to find malice where there was none, and that TGOT were getting no support from MTT…and why was MTT even there? What hurt us most was the lack of support from MTT, the Activities Director. MTT said he was being blamed “for this”…. As it turned out, there were other things going on, things between MTT and the administration, which we were not privy to.
MTT was in some kind of trouble with someone higher up; there were also other “issues” involving both the Vice Principal and the Activities Office. SAHS was facing external, staff, and parental pressures, including changing demographics  and the growing presence of gangs in Santa Ana schools. The administration faced accusations from Chicano-identified  students and their adult supporters, accusations of, as LM put it, “Mexicans get picked on and Whites get away with everything.” LM began to give examples, such as students getting in trouble for writing or painting gang symbols and signals on their lockers, “…but here are the three of you, putting up “illegal’ election signs and thinking you can get away with it….”
LM was comparing violent gang symbols with bad puns?
TGOT exchanged knowing looks. We were being sacrificed on the altar of a term we couldn’t have used at the time because it didn’t yet exist. LM (who happened to be SAHS’s first Latino Vice Principal) had essentially clued us in as to what was going on: he felt it politically expedient to make examples of us, as in, we gotta get some white kids, for something.
TTM, alluding to the trouble he was in, told us that “when word got out” the “heat” would fall on him for our antics. I noticed his usage of the future tense – “when” and “would”…and I wondered what was going on. Did anyone else in the administration, other than LM and MTT (and the teacher who reported the signs  ) know about this? My response to MTT was tersely unsympathetic: “Well, you know what they say – if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”
I immediately regretted my response, and to this day, I cringe to think of it. I’d lashed out in anger, but also, mostly, in pain. Of all the adults in the school, I’d thought MTT would have stuck up for us. The Activities Director was the advisor of the Student Government; SG, DB and I had all known and worked with MTT for years and were quite fond of him, and he of us. Earlier in the year, another student government officer and I used the Activities Office PA system – which we had permission to use for announcing pep rallies, school dances and fundaisers, etc. – for a prank. Over the PA, which was broadcast in every classroom, we announced, “Attention, all students and teachers: There is a change in today’s school schedule. Please note that the fifth period bell will ring at ten minutes to two, instead of at 1:50.” We did this at noon, and when MTT heard the announcement, he thought it was so funny that *he* got on the PA an hour later, and reread the announcement. He received one objection, from a flustered teacher who harumphed about why he hadn’t been informed earlier as to the change in his class’s schedule. 
Back to the meeting, which was going to the proverbial nowhere: LM informed TGOT that the security guard would escort us as we removed every sign we’d posted, then we were to return to our respective homes immediately. Our parents were being contacted by telephone, and we would find out later this evening the consequences of our actions, which could likely result in multi-day suspensions for each of us, and possible marks on/withholding of our school transcripts (a vague threat to DB and I, who had already been accepted to our respective colleges).
When I got home my mother was awaiting me, all aflutter in concern and confusion. She’d been telephoned by a secretary from the school office, who told her I’d gotten in trouble for…I can’t remember her exact description. My mother told me that when the secretary told her that “Robyn and two other students had been involved in an incident with school staff members,” and that the Vice Principal would be calling later that evening to explain things, her first thought was, “Oh, no – did Robyn punch a teacher?”
That revelation led to her hearing a well-deserved, Moooootttthhhhhher – how could you even think that?!?! from me. But then, the kicker, which made my mother realize that something funny was going on: Mom said that when she asked the secretary for details re the “incident,” the secretary lowered her voice to a whisper, barely suppressed a giggle, and said, “Well, actually, some people might think is’s kind of funny….”
DB’s and SG’s mothers had also received phone calls. DB’s mother, after speaking with DB about what had happened, went on the proverbial warpath. She made calls of her own to the school, speaking first with LM and finally reaching the Principal. After the initial, late afternoon phone calls, each of TGOT’s households received calls later that evening, but not from the Vice Principal, as had been promised. Our parents were contacted by an assistant to the Principal, who told them that SG, DB and I should return to school as usual the next day, and that after school we would all meet in the Principal’s office, with the Principal, LM, TMM, and any of our parents who wanted to attend.
You might want to take a bathroom break; there’s still more to come.
The Day After: Meet “The Butt Out” Gang
What SG, DB and I suspected turned out to be true. LM had overreacted, had gotten MTT involved, and attempted to turn a molehill prank into a mountain. He’d threatened draconian disciplinary action against three students who had spotless disciplinary records (and each of us members of/involved in the school’s gifted program/Honor Roll, sports/arts/activities/student government) *without* running any of it by the Principal.
The Gory Details ®
At 4 pm SG, DB, moiself, and my friend RR – whom I’d brought along and introduced as “my attorney” – sat down across a rectangular table from LM and MTT. Principal “JW” sat at the head of the table. None of the TGOT parental units were there. After DB’s mother had contacted the principal, gotten the situation “straightened out,” and then phoned SG’s and my parents, our folks didn’t think their presence was necessary.
” Hairstyles change, and skirt lengths, and slang, but high school administrations? Never.” ( Stephen King )
Principal JW informed TGOT – to the obvious discomfort of LM and MTT – that there would be no suspensions or other disciplinary actions taken against us. However, we students did need to understand the seriousness of “the concerns” re our actions:
(1) “Some people” felt our signs had mocked student government and student activities, and thus by extension, students involved in such;
(2) the sensitive nature (“obscene/off-color”; “racist”) of some of our signs;
(3) the administration’s main concern: our unauthorized use of school property (the mimeograph) for personal purposes when that machine was strictly for “school business only.”
RR, like any good advocate, brought a yellow legal notepad with her, and wrote down the concerns as they were listed by the Principal. TGOT referred to her list as we proceeded to dismiss and/or refute address each of the stated excuses for adult hysteria concerns.
(1) You’ve got to be fucking kidding (we did not phrase it thusly). Hello; look at us?! We, each of us, have been involved in student government and activities for the entirety of our high school years. Whom would we be mocking – ourselves? Not only have we not disparaged student government, we’ve encouraged others to run for office. Holy post-Watergate lack of cynicism – Robyn (as my “attorney” noted), as voted in by her peers, is the Senior Class Vice President!
And, by the way, who exactly, allegedly, expressed “concerns” about the signs? Why couldn’t we face our accusers? (We never received names of anyone who was offended by the signs. Since we’d had to take down all the signs the previous day, after our meeting with LM and MTT, they’d only been posted for a couple of hours, and few people had actually seen them).
(2) The two signs in question (“Manual” and “E.Z.”) were neither “obscene,” “off-color” nor “racist.” Other than admitting to mild/harmless vulgarity on the E Z. sign, we did not concede to those pejoratives. We were certain that, had students had the opportunity to actually see the signs, they would have found them at least mildly amusing (if they paid any attention to them at all). And if our respective parents – all politically and socially conservative, and all of whom had been informed of the content of the signs –  had not been shocked or even bothered by them, what was the administration’s problem?
C’mon– “obscene” signs? The “E.Z.” sign is mild compared to the sexual innuendo contained in the cheers which the school-sanctioned pep squad *leads* the audience – students, and parents alike – in reciting during football and basketball games:
Get it up/put it in/do it, do it !
Grab a piece – Grab a piece…(of yardage; of yardage!)
It’s all sniggering, adolescent, nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Why make a big deal out of it?
Nothing we chant is off-color if we shake our pompoms and smile.
(3) Interesting, that this “main concern” had not been mentioned, by either LM or MTT, when they read us the riot act the previous day. I thought – but did not say aloud – that it had been added last minute, by either the Principal or LM, so that they’d have at least one accusation that stood a chance of sticking. The other two charges were subjective, and slowly evaporating, fading away due to their inherent flaccidity (there I go again, with the juvenile innuendo).
TGOT admitted we’d used school equipment to make copies of the signs, and we were prepared to reimburse the school for the cost of paper and mimeo printer fluid. I removed a five-dollar bill from my jeans pocket, at which point Principal JW told me to “Butt out,” even though we (TGOT) were the ones speaking, and hadn’t interrupted any adults in the room. SG came to my rescue, and posed a question to the principal: if the main issue of concern was the use of the school mimeograph for personal, as in, non-school/academic matters, did that also apply to the teaching staff? And if not, why?
The three adults/administrators exchanged wary looks, and SG and I began to share our stories,  of having both first and second-hand knowledge of teachers using the mimeograph not only to run off copies of their math and grammar tests, but to print party invitations, baby announcements, and other personal papers. One student we knew had been sent by his teacher to use the mimeograph to make a class vocabulary list. Before the student could do so he had to remove the stencil left by a previous user of the machine – a paper which appeared to be a teacher’s annual family Christmas letter.
SG gave two more examples; I related one of the many examples I was prepared to cite. Earlier in the year I’d been given flyers to mimeo (from TMM) and post around campus, for a student activity. When I went to the teacher’s lounge to use the mimeograph I had to remove a stencil the previous user had left in the machine – a stencil of an invitation to a housewarming party given by a teacher (I’d recognized the teacher’s name). “We could give you more examples,” I said, “but we’ve made our point, that…”
LM interrupted me, which gave my “attorney” the moment she’d been waiting for: she actually said, “Objection! My client is testifying.” 
I rephrased SG’s query/statement: since item (3) is supposedly the administration’s “main concern,” what are the consequences for teachers – these adults and authority figures, who supposedly set the examples for students – who violate the school’s policy against using school equipment for personal use?
Hard to believe, but my question was not well-received. Principal JW once again told me to “Butt out.” (And for the brief remainder of the school year, SG, DB and I referred to ourselves as, The Butt Out Gang.)
Principle JW addressed TGOT, restating the “concerns” she’d hoped we’d taken to heart. She then looked pointedly at me and said, “You’re not going to write about this, are you?”
Although it was a question, JW’s tone and facial expression said, “You’d better *not* write about this in that #!$? smartass column of yours.” Which of course, made me want to…if only for a moment.
It was the butt (out?) end of the school year. The school newspaper was published every two weeks, with one issue slated in the coming days, which left only two or three issues to go, and I’d already given the outlines for my columns to the editorial page editor. I knew Mr. Clucas would have granted me the editorial freedom he’d insisted upon all year – not only for my op-ed column (which was titled, “Parnal Knowledge” ) but for other articles I’d written. It’s likely he would have given me space in the news section or in another part of the editorial page, had I requested it, to write about the election signs incident. But I was sick of it all: sick of Those People ® in particular and the petty machinations of high school in general. I’d been accepted to my first-choice university; mentally and emotionally, I had nothing left for SAHS – I was outta there. The last thing I wanted to do was to waste my time and creative energy dignifying the Obscene Election Sign Non-Scandal by writing about it.
The meeting was concluded in less than 45 minutes, with no admissions of guilt from TGOT, little input from LM and MTT, and no apologies from anyone. JW’s closing remarks were that the election sign incident had been “overdramatized by everyone,” and things would return to normal if we’d all let it, forget it, and move on.
We three accused did not gloat, but could barely suppress our righteous indignation. Overdramatized, by everyone?
It was clear to us that JW had called the meeting to do damage control. She was shrewd enough to realize that her VEEP and Activities Director had overreacted (read: lost their shit) over a minor prank, but she would not undermine their authority by declaring so in front of students. She tried to help her administrative staff save face; JW was in damage control mode – in large part (I’d bet) due to her having been contacted by two parents (DB’s and SG’s mothers  ) who raised holy hell and threatened to go public (i.e., to the school board and The Register, the local, editorially libertarian rag newspaper which was anti-public schools) if LM’s threats against TGOT were enacted.
Of course, that’s not *all.* But hasn’t this been enough?
* * *
Pun For The Day Marital Bliss (“We have a great relationship”) Edition
Two antennas got married. The wedding was a bit disappointing, but the reception was great.
My husband tells me I’m a skeptic, But I don’t believe a word he says.
Two melons tried to get married in Las Vegas, but they didn’t have the right documents.
It’s a shame they cantaloupe.
My husband is my favorite aquatic mammal. That’s right – he’s my significant otter.
“I otter punch your lights out for that one.”
* * *
May you look back with equanimity upon the petty pains (and pleasures) of high school; May you have a truly “great relationship” with your spouse; May you listen to rebroadcasts of Car Talk, if only to hear the credits; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
Sit down, fix yourself a stiff drink, and be prepared to clutch your pearls in horror at the foul content to be found within.
(time and mimeograph fluid has taken its toll on the original stencils)
* * *
(“Can she do the job?…. Shirley U. Jest” )
* * *
Finally, the footnotes
 The couple are undergoing psychiatric evaluations, officials told Iranian media.
 From which you can derive her likely point of reference, as in, “Oh, crap, this is the norm she sees, all around her, so comparatively, she things ‘great’ equals not getting beaten.”
 Their tag line for the credits list: “It takes this many people to produce such a lousy show? Who knew!”
 KTVU’s Managing Editor said she thought the names sounded suspicious but approved the list, as she was told that an official at the NTSB confirmed their authenticity. The NTSB “official” turned out to be a summer intern at the news station. The station fired several staffers but spared the newscaster.
 I have written previously in this space about the late great Theodore “Teddy” Clucas, a much-adored (and tolerant!) teacher, journalism mentor and 1st amendment advocate – for many students, including moiself.
 by the time I graduated the majority of the SAHS student body was Hispanic-surnamed.
 That was a term used by some – not all — Latino cultural activists at the time, as a political signifier.
 We never did find out who alerted the vice Principal, other that it was “an adult staff member.”
 Sadly, this was not an isolated incident, in terms of the great academic minds of SAHS demonstrating that they were…sometimes not paying attention, shall we say (and we just did).
 We’d each taken copies home, to show our parents. I held on to the original stencils, and have them to this day.
 DB did little talking during this meeting. Apparently, her mother reading the riot act to the Principal the previous evening was enough for her.
 I think that got under LM’s skin more than anything.
 Speaking of innuendo…yeah, I know. But, guess who gave me that nickname, and suggested it be the title of my column? Twas the highly respected, squeaky clean, universally liked and respected, daughter of a school board member and winner of our school’s highest honor (“The Coterian Award”), the Editor-in-chief of the newspaper.
 Other than the phone calls they received from the school, I asked my parents to stay out of it. I did not, however, tell them to “butt out.”
Department Of Why Are Some People Still Doing This?
“Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. The National Safety Council advises everyone to enjoy fireworks at public displays conducted by professionals, and not to use any fireworks at home. They may be legal but they are not safe.” (National Safety Council, “Leave Fireworks to the Experts” )
Please don’t purchase or use fireworks. Moiself doesn’t give a roman candle’s flaming buttcrack about how fondly you look back on those childhood July 4th fireworks parties  – such an activity should be considered anachronistic at best.
“*I* can celebrate with a safe and sane fireworks display, I know it!”
I was surprised by my own visceral reaction (barely suppressed rage; an urge to approach the owners and employees and shame them into leaving) when I saw a fireworks stand this year. *WTF are they doing here?* This was before the heat wave that pummeled the Pacific NW (and western Canada). But folks, we’ve known for years about why, even if Some People ® just can’t get it up for Uh-Mur-ica without viewing explosive pyrotechnic devices, fireworks displays should be left to a few professional or civic shows.
Fireworks suck. For fleeting moments of pyrotechnic entertainment, we also get
* extensive air pollution produced in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and smoke in the air for hours (sometimes days) and which find their way into our soil and water systems; 
* fear, acute anxiety and distress, risk of hearing loss (especially for dogs) for our pets; 
* habitat destruction and degradation for wild animals, which is particularly “…energetically costly and physiologically stressful for wild birds, which leave their roost in explosive panic and can smash their skulls or break their necks as the result of flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other solid objects that they cannot see in the gloom and smoky chaos (and survivors of the original explosive panic flight remain in danger because these birds are forced to find a safe place to roost in the middle of the night).” 
* over 19,000 fires set – from home roof blazes to wildfire – and over 9,000 people (most often children and teens) sent to emergency rooms due to severe burns and other injuries caused while using consumer fireworks. 
The 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire consumed 50,000 acres of the picturesque Columbia Gorge. Embers of the fire were still smoldering eight months after major containment. Hiking trails and other areas of that scenic wilderness were heavily damaged; U.S. Forest Service and other officials estimate that some trails may remain closed for years. The devastating conflagration was, like so many other wildfires and brushfires, started by fireworks.
Life is all about change, about altering our behavior to accomodate altering circumstances. We didn’t always have firework stands and home fireworks shows; we can survive, thrive, and celebrate without them.
Does this boy represent an ignorant, self-centered, head-in-the-sand danger to the humanity and environment…or is he just another cute dork in a silly costume?
* * *
Department Of The Cinematic Story Strategy Which Annoys MH
That would be time travel. Moiself appreciates (and mostly shares) MH’s aggravation with the over-used, cheap-way-not-to-have-to-deal-with-reality plot device.
Moiself cannot recall the name of the podcast I heard recently, in which the podcast hosts and guests discussed a (non-scientific) survey conducted about time travel. Random bench sitters were asked questions along the lines of,
“If you could travel in time, (1) would you choose to do so? (2) if you said yes to (1), would you choose to travel to the past,
or to the future?”
The surveyors seems to have the idea that time travelers going to the past would do so with the motivation of having the opportunity to change something that they did, or neglected to do – an action which, the time travelers hoped, would right a wrong and/or increase happiness or success in their present lives. (Indeed, some people questioned gave answers supporting that idea.)
There was a bit o’ surprise among the surveyors re the number of people over age 50 who wanted to travel to the future, not the past. Some of the younger folk – even a few children – said there were things in the past they’d like to change (words spoken; actions they wish they could do over). But most of the 50+ folk surveyed expressed little desire to go back in time to change some pivotal event (whether it be in their own/personal lives, or re world history  ). The podcast guests and hosts bantered about why that was so, and the answers of a few of those who were surveyed gave them a clue: older people know, from decades of experience, that there are innumerable incidents large and small which make up a lifetime; thus, going back to change what might seem like a pivotal moment would probably not make much of a difference in one’s long-term outlook and prospects.
I don’t know how the episode ended; I stopped listening midway through, as I was consumed with the thought of what *my* time travel choice would be. Seeing as how traveling to one’s past is Not One Of Those Things That Will Happen At All, Or At Least In My Lifetime ®, I dismissed that option, for a clear-eyed – and ultimately more fulfilling, moiself thinks – embrace of reality: I hold that each of us are, already, “one way” time travelers.
“Please elucidate, in a non-sesquipedalian manner.”
We are time travelers to the future. True, it’s on a smaller scale as compared with sci fi cinematic conceits, but that doesn’t change the fact that today is the future we were envisioning twenty years, ten months, two weeks, one day ago. Right now is yesterday’s future. With every breath and step I take, I travel into the future.
Although…how cool would it be to join Ms. Frizzle and the gang and ride The Magic School Bus back to the time of the dinosaurs?
* * *
Department Of The Best Way To Begin A Podcast
…is with an opening line comparable to this, from a recent episode of Curiosity Daily :
“The butt – way more versatile than you may expect…” ( Curiosity Daily, “Mammals can breathe through their butts,” 6-25-21 )
And why, you may ask, is such a possibility worthy of notation, or research? Researchers are hopeful that this discovery may lead to treatments for humans suffering from severely diminished lung capacity.
Well, of course they are.
As for moiself, although I generally avoid reality TV, I could be persuaded to tune in to see a butt-breathing act on one of those “America’s Got Talent”-type shows.
* * *
Punz For The Day Time Travel Edition
I used to be addicted to time travel, but that’s all in the past now.
If you time travel to the future and get decapitated, you really are a head of your time
If I travel back from the future and carry a bratwurst with me, do I have a link to the past?
I’ve invented a device to harvest herbs from the future: it’s a thyme machine.
“Please, Doc, take us back to before there was this blog.”
* * *
May you enjoy fantasizing about your own Magic School Bus destination; May you help your pulmonary-compromised friends and relatives practice butt-breathing (discretely, please); May you liberate yourself from the desire to buy and/or use fireworks; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I have such memories. For many years now I’ve have realized that that’s just what they should be: memories, as in, in the past.
Department Of Food For Thought, And For The Planet Sub-Department Of It’s Just Too Damn Big A Problem For One Person…
…which is what keeps most of us, moiself included, from taking definitive actions regarding global warming/climate change. The problem is so big, so overwhelming, it’s easy to think we’ve gone too far already and nothing can save us so why drag out the inevitable – let’s all switch to coal-burning cars and get it over with….
However, “most of us,” as individuals, adds up to most of the planet, and if “most of us” made a concerted effort to change certain deleterious habits and adopt a more climate-friendly lifestyle, we could do the equivalent of sticking our fingers in the hole in the dike while our world leaders figure out a global energy strategy. 
The following excerpts are from the recent Curiosity Daily podcast: “The Climate Diet: 50 Simple Ways To Trim Your Carbon Footprint.”
The Climate Diet author Paul Greenberg: “A very simple one would be to switch from beef to chicken. A lot of your listeners are thinking, ‘Oh, no, we have to go vegan…’ but it turns out actually that if we could get the real solid meat eaters to not necessarily go for the bean burger but go to chicken they would cut their (contribution to carbon) emissions per pound by 75%….
That is pretty big and pretty significant, so if you’re going to start with anything, why not start with that?
CD Host: You also mentioned less cheese – what about that?
PG: “…when I was in college everybody loved this cookbook called The Moosewood Cookbook – it was the vegetarian cookbook that everybody embraced, but man, is there a lot of cheese in there! Is it turns out that cheese is actually worse from an emissions standpoint than chicken…. If you’re choosing your diet based on (carbon) emissions, eating vegetarian with a lot of cheese is really not the best choice – actually chicken or even fish is even better…. I don’t want to de-emphasize veganism – veganism is absolutely the best way to go if you want to be your very best, but if you can’t get there, then moving away from beef and cheese is a good start.
So let’s just put it in perspective: a vegan diet, it just blows doors off of everything: …a lentil, you’re talking about 0.9 kilos of carbon emissions per kilo of food; chicken is between 6 or 6, but beef is up at 27.”
* * *
Department Of There’s Always Something
“…Fetterman called for universal health care, marijuana legalization, and a much higher minimum wage well before it was popular. Now…Fetterman wants to convince his fellow Democrats that their party’s future depends less on fighting over fracking and more on embracing legal weed and embracing their populist roots. “This idea [of climate change] that every climate scientist in the world agrees [on] — we need to run on that,” he says. “We also can’t tell a bunch of workers, ‘Go work at Duolingo.’ That’s not fair. We still need to be a manufacturing powerhouse, too.”
…I actually don’t use marijuana. But I think you should be able to, or any adult should be able to, legally, safely, taxed, and not label them a criminal. We need to expunge all criminal convictions. If there is anybody serving jail time for a marijuana conviction, get them out immediately.
…You want to heal this country? Let’s start by acknowledging some universal truths. Health care is a basic human need and right. You can’t fucking live off $7.25 an hour.…Why are we imprisoning people in the failed war on drugs? These are things that transcend politics.
Run on the truth, and that’s what I’ll do. Run on the truth. And if you win, great. If you lose, great. But I will always run on the truth.”
( excerpts from “Big John Fetterman Can Save the Democratic Party —
if the Democrats Let Him,” Rolling Stone, 11-12-20 )
Recently on our family message group, son K alerted us (MH, his sister Belle, and moiself ) to the above article. John Fetterman is running for the Senate in what will be a key or battleground state; K thought we might want to send some support ($$) his way, as Fetterman seems to be ‘right on” on many issues we consider common sense. This led to a fun and thoughtful family IM-discussion, some of which is excerpted here.
I had heard of John Fetterman; the RS article was a better introduction than the vague, “I-think-he’s-this-guy” ideas I’d had, and I checked out his website as well. I liked most of what he said and was impressed with his background story.  I did send a donation…but there was something that gave me pause.
About the pause: Enter and-what-else-is-new? territory: No candidate is every going to be perfect, or check off on all your favorite issues.  I fully realize that, and strive not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
The RS reporter said that Fetterman has “…been out ahead on…issues that have since come into vogue: a higher minimum wage, marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage…” and Fetterman commented,
“I’ve never had to evolve on one of my positions on that because I’ve always said what I believe is true.”
“You’ll always know where I stand. I haven’t had to evolve on the issues, because I ‘ve always said what I believe is true and I’ve been championing the same core principles for the last 20 years.”
As my bumper sticker so eloquently and succinctly puts it:
The sticker pokes fun at the creationists’ anti-evolution/science, but I’ll apply it to politics as well. My opinions have evolved over time, as they should have, and as they will continue to do. The reasons moiself holds the opinions I do is because I try to engage with the facts, and update my viewpoints as thewhat-we-know-about-this-issue changes. No issues, no opinions, are – or should be, IMHO – static; it is unlikely that Fetterman or any candidate has been or will be on the right side of history when it comes to *every* issue. Our country – our world – needs political servants who understand that, and who have the self-awareness and strength of character to change their minds when necessary.
You can also admire someone for “spine,” which can be evident in, as K pointed out, their willingness not to compromise on “insane [ political]  demands.”
K: “I’ll take uncompromising but passionate at this point since we have too many lackluster moderate democrats who don’t do shit.”
MH: “I hope he’s willing to evolve his position even if it is one I currently agree with.”
Belle: “I appreciate the intent behind the statement, but I agree that I’d want a representative who is willing to change their views and isn’t ashamed of it or tries to hide it.”
Actor/dancer/choreographer Cheryl Gates McFadden is best known for playing Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: TNG. Her podcast is “…a series of conversations featuring close friends and former co-stars reminiscing on careers, personal life and more.”
Yesterday I listened to “more” – part II of McFadden’s interview with actor, dancer and fellow Star Trek alum, Nana Visitor, who played Major Kira Nerys on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  At the end of the podcast, McFadden and Visitor were sharing stories about their family members. The theme of the sudden realization that children – as well as adults – can have, wherein a familiar sight or regular activity suddenly, inexplicably, seems confounding or amazing (e.g., re brushing your teeth: “What am I doing? I am putting a stick in my mouth and moving it up and down and around my jaw and teeth – why do people do this, and who invented it?“) was fertile ground for McFadden’s “shower story.”
“When my son was three…we have a very open, big bathroom…and we have an open shower. I’m in the kitchen, and he runs in and says, ‘Mommy mommy, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere – mommy, mommy, come come come!‘ And we’re running, and he runs me right up to the shower, where his father is taking a shower. And he points to his…(father’s penis)…and he says, HAVE YOU SEEN THAT ?!?!’
And I said, ‘Yes, I have.’ “
* * *
Punz For The Day Global Warming Edition
Where did scientists get the idea that the ice caps are melting? They just thawed it up.
Global warming will kill every single person on this planet. It’s a good thing I’m married.
Did you know global warming is reducing terrorism? The ISIS melting.
What is it called when vermiforms take over the world? Global Worming.
* * *
May your positions on “the issues” be always evolving; May you compose your own virtue-signaling yard sign; May you hear stories (or see yard signs) that remind you why life is worth living; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Yes, there is a buttload of optimism in that last part.
 And not just because of all the legumes you’ll be eating! Sorry, but I’ve been suppressing fart jokes, with all the talk about diet and emissions, for a couple of paragraphs now, and I just need to let ’em rip….
 Three cheers for anyone running for office who is *not* a lawyer!
 And if you find one that does, you’d better look again, because it’s likely either you – or the candidate – are missing something.
 Be forewarned: if you listen to part one of the interview – and I think you should – it contains the story of Visitor’s near death experience (she was kidnapped and raped by two men, who followed her when she drove home after a late night on the ST:DS9 set and discussed with each other what to do with her body [they’d planned on killing her] after the attack). She suffered from trauma-induced PTSD for years afterward; her recovery plus her ongoing work in and advocacy for mental health issues is an amazing story of courage and resilience.
Because…yeah. I don’t know about you, but moiself would have no qualms trusting the person who extends my eyelashes to tend to my nervous system.
* * *
Department Of Adages Revisited
Sub Department OF Why I Don’t have My Own Marital Counseling Practice
Never go to bed angry.
Translation: Never go to bed when you are angry with your partner, lest a bad feeling hardens into resentment. Resolve the argument before going to bed.
But, that’s not always possible. Sometimes you’re too tired and/or cranky to resolve things diplomatically – that’s why you’re about to “go to bed angry” in the first place. So: go to bed; get some sleep; wake up, have a nice breakfast together…. Maybe, come the morning, whatever caused the argument won’t seem so serious.
Moiself’ssuggested classic advice addendum:
Never go to bed angry.
Oh, okay – go to bed angry if you must, but with someone else.
Actually, I’d say this advice is even crappier:
* * *
Department Of Sometimes The Best Intentions…
I drove past someone’s house recently, and saw a new sign in their front yard. The sign was similar in size, design and “composition” as the Black Lives Matter signs, only with a different message.
The message refers to  stopping the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. However, its phrasing prompted moiself to picture the following scenario: moiself driving past the sign, a well-meaning-but-clueless, elderly relative with me in the car – e.g., my late mother – who reads the sign, then sincerely wonders aloud,
“I don’t understand – what do Asians hate?”
“They all seem so nice….”
* * *
Department Of Cults? – Schmultz! They’re All Cults
“…I remembered Toni Morrison’s statement that ‘the function of freedom is to free someone else.’ Utah wasn’t the Deep South, and we Mormon dissidents were hardly the Underground Railroad. But I did believe that our culture had trapped us, that many Latter-Day Saints lived in mental and social prisons that perpetuated precisely the kind of insanity with which I’d grown up. It wasn’t slavery, but it was a powerful form of bondage: the belief that God had ordained a pattern of secrets and silence, that religious authority always trumped one’s individual sense of right and wrong, that the evidence of the senses must bow to the demands of orthodoxy, no matter how insane. It was a kind of institutionalized madness….” ( “Leaving the Saints: How I lost the Mormons and Found My Faith,” By Martha Beck )
Dateline: circa 5 years ago; Tacoma WA. Son K and a few of his college buddies are sharing stories about their various experiences with Mormons/the LDS religion. K’s friend and housemate SP is from Utah; SP and his family were minorities, as non-Mormons living in Salt Lake City. After listening to the other’s stories about the Mormon beliefs and behaviors that the friends found odd, SP chimes in:
“You all have *no* idea…. Out here, you have Mormon LITE.” 
K shared SP’s remarks over a recent Sunday dinner, with MH and I and friend LAH, after I’d spoken about having just finished Tara Westover’s book, Educated: A Memoir. The book is gripping, disturbing, at times downright horrifying, and ultimately/eventually a wee bit encouraging. I found Westover’s beautiful prose to be an often-jarring contrast to that which the prose presents: the account of her childhood, raised in a family headed by a fanatical, fundamentalist LD, survivalist, paranoid father (a man who was also likely afflicted with bipolar disorder  ). There were inspiring segments of the book which depicted the author’s inexplicably indomitable spirit (where did it come from, given her environment?); still, I had a headache at the end of each reading day – moiself realized I’d been clenching my jaw when reading through passages depicting the physical, emotional, and intellectual neglect and abuse she lived with, and the narrow confines of her world.
Westover yearned to be “educated,” in a world where women and girls were to aspire to nothing more than marriage and motherhood – in a world where she was told that to want an education was sinful and that women and girls must obey men and boys, even to the point of enduring sickening abuse from her psychotic brother. She did manage to extricate herself (physically, if not completely emotionally) from that world, but at great cost to her psyche. Her portrayal of the cost of childhood suffering, of the power that abusers (and those who abet them) wield, is chillingly insightful. Although I highly recommend the book, it also (and literally) gave me nightmares.
MH recommended the book to me a couple of years ago, and I’d listened to the Fresh Air interview with the author (which aired in 2019). I immediately thought of that interview when I read the first paragraph of the “Author’s Note” at the end of Educated:
“This story is not about Mormonism.
Neither is it about any other form of religious belief.
In it there are many types of people, some believers, some not; some kind, some not. The author disputes any correlation, positive or negative, between the two.”
Well, that was…odd. Most such disclaimers are at the beginning of *novels,* or short fiction collections. (“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”). It made me somewhat disappointed in FA host Terry Gross’s otherwise excellent interview. Did Gross not read the Author’s Note? If she did, why didn’t she ask Westover about it – was that disclaimer something the publishing company’s lawyers insisted on?
Readers generally understand that, even in non-fiction, individuals and their actions are not meant to represent Everyone and Everything. The “Author’s Note” struck me as being so unnecessary – and also, so fearful, of possible litigation, perhaps…and the author’s personal safety.
As per the latter: The LDS church is not as prone to rabid-dog harassment techniques as Scientology (whose “fair game,” policy re critics stated that “An enemy of Scientology, referred to as a suppressive person (SP), may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist…may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”  ). Still, the LDS church has been known to lawyer-up when they think they have been presented in a bad light (in particular, by those who have managed to leave the church). But their most effective defense has been the spiritual training – read: psychological torture – with which members have been inculcated.
When I read Martha Beck’s memoir Leaving the Saints, I remember a section of the book where Beck wrote about the rituals she and her husband  participated in during their temple wedding (aka, “sealing”  ). Beck was willing to detail charges of sexual abuse against a very powerful LDS icon – her father, Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley – yet stopped short of describing the vows of secrecy (re the temple rituals) she and her husband made “for time and all eternity.” I recall she used almost a joking tone in addressing any readers who might be Mormon enforcers, writing something along the lines of, “Hey guys, I promised not to reveal the exact content, and I didn’t, okay? So please don’t disembowel me.”
There was an implicit seriousnessy behind her joshing: fear. She’d written this supposed tell-all book, yet she still was afraid to tell all.
I’d known about the vows Mormons take in temple rituals (in which they acknowledge the penalties they might face for revealing such secrets), but “known about” as in, I only knew that such vows existed – their content remained a mystery. Even Ex-Mos who had openly renounced everything else LDS seemed uniformly silent on the matter. Then, along came Richard Packham, founder of The Exmormon Foundation.
During the 2012 Presidential election Packham was troubled by the fact that vast majority of American voters – the vast majority of *anyone* outside of Mormonism – had no knowledge of the secret oaths Romney had taken as a faithful Mormon. Packham wondered aloud (as, in an article he wrote for businessinsider.com ):
“The question for American voters is: Knowing that Romney has taken this secret oath,  and that he is a faithful Mormon, do you want him to answer the question, ‘Would you feel bound by your sacred oath to obey the law of consecration that you made in the endowment ceremony and use the power of the presidency to benefit the Mormon church?’ “
Packham noted that “In all the extensive media coverage of Mitt Romney, much of it discussing his religion, not a word have I seen about the secrets of Mormonism, the secrets of Romney’s life-long beliefs and practices.”
Growing up as a Mormon close in age to Mitt Romney, Packham was, like Romney, “initiated into those same secrets.” Unlike Romney, Packham left Mormonism and decided to talk and write about it, including describing LDS secrets such as the endowment ritual  and other rituals, wherein Mormons are instructed in the “signs” and “tokens” of the Mormon priesthood, are given special “names” (or “passwords”), and must make an oath to never reveal these, outside the temple.
“…when Romney and I first went through this ceremony, we were taught that each of the first three signs and tokens also had a ‘penalty’ associated with each one, and we had to mime various ways of taking life to represent the penalty to us if we were to reveal the secret signs and tokens: slitting one’s own throat, ripping open one’s chest, disemboweling oneself. Yes, folks, this was part of the most sacred ritual in Mormonism: pantomiming your own bloody death.
So Mitt Romney, and all other righteous Mormons, can be confident that they know the secret passwords and secret handshakes to get into heaven. Do you see why Romney and his church are reluctant for ‘unworthy’ people (the rest of us, including Mrs. Romney’s parents) to know about this?
As Deborah Laake  put it in her autobiographical book, “Secret Ceremonies”:
“The actions that were going to guarantee my entrance at the gates [of heaven] would have nothing to do with love or charity or the other teachings of Christ that I’d been raised to believe God valued. In fact, I hadn’t heard a single one of those words spoken today, the most primary day of religious instruction in my entire life. No, I was going to burst into heaven on the basis of mumbo-jumbo. … The mysteries of life were fraternity rituals. … Did all the white-suited glorifiers in the room unquestioningly accept a ritual of nutty gestures from the pseudo-occult as a sacrament? Those were the first moments when I viewed Mormonism with suspicion.”
Or, as summarized by a Mormon missionary: ‘If we told investigators [prospective converts to Mormonism] about that, they wouldn’t join, because it’s too weird!’ “
Lest you think I pick on the LDS too much  back to the dinner table discussion: when moiself described Westover’s book to K and LAH as the author’s story of growing up in a Mormon fundamentalist cult, MH offered his opinion, that “It was more of a cult of that father.” We all then spoke of the fundy cults/offshoots of Mormonism with which we were famililar, offshoots which, like all so-called cults, serve to make the mainstream or parent religion – in this case, Mormonism – look “better,” in a way, especially to non-believers.
Most religious believers deride (and even loathe and/or fear) people in “cults,” but don’t realize they are in one themselves. Mainstream Christians laugh at the gullibility of Mormons who can believe that a god gave a revelation to Joseph Smith through golden tablets (which Smith translated via a magic stone he placed in his hat), but believe their god gave one of their prophets a revelation through stone tablets. They sneer at snake-handling faith healers who babble nonsense (aka, speak in tongues) and believe in prophecy, even as they themselves pray for people to be healed and hurricanes to be halted, and talk about an apocalyptic End Times.
When does a cult become a religion?
* When it is granted a tax-free status by the Government. * When it progresses from killing its members to killing non-members.
All religions begin as cults. Christianity began as one of several competing messianic sects and became a religion when Paul and his followers began proselytizing outside Judea. Cults fade away when those who knew the founder die. Who remembers the Ranters, the Sandemanians or the Muggletonians now? (excerpts from “Notes and queries,” ethical conundrums, theguardian.com )
What is a religion, but a cult with more money and real estate, and better lawyers and PR? All religions began as cults – as offshoots of a mainstream religion. Once they achieve mainstream status, established religions benefit from the existence of cults, in that they can point religion skeptics toward the cult’s beliefs and practices and say, “At least we’re not like that.”
* * *
Department of Explanations
Dateline: Tuesday am, morning walk. Moiself is listening to the season 13 trailer for the Clear + Vivid podcast, in which host Alan Alda and the C+V producer preview the new season. One preview plays excerpts from Alda’s interview with theoretical physicist and author Michio Kaku, whose latest book is The God Equation: the quest for the theory of everything. Alda describes Kaku as “one of our culture’s leading communicators… about one of the most tantalizing and hard to understand questions ever raised: ‘Is there a theory of everything?’ – is there some formula that explains pretty much every phenomenon of the universe?” And what would the effects of such a theory mean to you and me?
“The immediate, practical implication of finding the theory of everything is…nothing. It’s not going to effect you or me, I’ll be very blunt with you. However, it will answer some of the deepest philosophical, religious questions of all time….” (excerpt of C+V interview with Michio Kaku) 
I gotta wonder: should I save Dr. Kaku and his peers some time and energy, by submitting to them *my* concept? In a mere four words, my Theory Of Everything ® :
“Yep; there it is.”
* * *
Punz For The Day Theoretical Physics Edition
Q: Why should you go out wining and dining with neutrons? A: Wherever they go, there’s no charge.
A husband walks in on his wife, who is a string theorist, in bed with another man. She shouts, “I can explain everything!”
May you come up with your own Theory of Everything; May you be grateful toward those who encouraged you to be educated; May you realize that nobody, under any circumstances, ever needs to have their eyelashes extended; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 A diagnosis he would have rejected in favor of some explanation involving evil spirits and/or devils.
 “6 insane ways the Church of Scientology has tried to silence its critics,” salon 3-15-15
 Who is now also ex-Mormon, as well as her ex-husband.
 Mormons have two kinds of weddings: Temple weddings, and non-temple. Not all Mormons “qualify” for a temple wedding, even if they desire one. “If you don’t know much about Mormon weddings, there’s a good reason for it. The Mormons don’t want you to find out. Temple marriages are top-secret affairs — absolutely no non-Mormons are allowed to see these hidden events. Even some practicing Mormons, who aren’t deemed worthy of a ‘temple recommend,’ will be asked to wait outside. This can be downright heartbreaking for LDS couples with friends and family outside the faith, who find themselves without their loved ones by their side on their big day. (excerpt from “Mormon weddings “)
My sister’s (non-religious) freshman college roommate was aggressively courted by a senior boy who was a Mormon. When they married, she asked my sister to be her maid of honor. My sister, after months of warily watching her roommate being wooed, did not approve of the relationship, but wanted to support her roommate, and agreed. My sister, after buying and then of course wearing the dress, had to stand outside the temple – along with the bride’s parents (who paid for the wedding and the reception)! – during the ceremony, because they were not Mormons.
 Several oaths, actually, but the one Packham refers, “The Law of Consecration,” involves, if Romney won the election, thanking God for blessing him with the presidency and, as per that oath, promising to use that blessing for the benefit of the Mormon church.
 “a ritual reenactment of the creation, Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, mortal experience, and the return to God’s presence. At each stage of this progression, participants make covenants in the name of Jesus Christ.” (So What Happens in an LDS Temple? The Salt Lake Tribune. )
 Deborah Laake was a journalist and editor, raised and married in the LDS church, and was excommunicated by the church “…for apostasy because of her criticisms and also for her ‘detailed revelation of top-secret Mormon temple ceremonies’ ” shortly after the publication of her book, Secret Ceremonies, “a candid and critical account of her experiences growing up and marrying as a member of the LDS church.” ( Wikipedia entry for Laake. )
 Due to the book I read, LDS it was the primary topic, but longtime readers of this blog know I am a skeptic and debunker of all religions.
Department Of When The Word Gets Out About His Instructions This Doctor Will Be Booked Years In Advance
Hmm…what to keep and what to shred?
MH decided to store his COVID vaccine card in his medical file, which was filled with papers that were decades old. He decided to downsize the file, and began skimming the various papers. Flipping through the multi-page instructions for his colonoscopy of many years ago, he noted that each page had a heading for the various instructions, which were divided into sections: e.g., “how to prepare the week before,” “what to do before your procedure, “what to do following your procedure.” Each heading got its own page. If all of the section’s instructions didn’t fit on one page, the instructions continued on the next page, with the heading.
This layout proved unfortunate – read: highly entertaining – for the last set of instructions, “what to do following your procedure,” as there was no room for the last “Do not,” heading, which then printed on a page of its own:
Yeah, after your procedure, drink *any* alcoholic beverage.
What the heck, DRINK ‘EM ALL.
* * *
Department Of Why I Share Stories Like These Sub Department Of Best Comeback Ever
I share stories like the above, whether they are my “own” or someone else’s, because I am selfish. I share them for my own personal enjoyment. The pleasure I take in it is not what you may be thinking – it’s not so much in the telling of the stories, it’s that moiself loves hearing *other* people’s stories. And I know and expect – due both experience and a wee knowledge of psychology – that by sharing a certain kind of story, at least at least one person hearing/reading it will be reminded, prompted, or “loosened up” enough  to share a related story of their own.
True to expectations, when I forwarded MH’s colonoscopy instructions story to select friends and family, I got some feedback. One story in particular had me
Which I think is the acronym for
Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off losing all bowel and bladder control foaming at the mouth and flinging saliva onto the ceiling.
Perhaps…not that dramatic. But when I was out to lunch with MH and checked my email, when moiself read the following anecdote my cousin DF shared with me I laughed so hard and suddenly that I spewed some of my Gardenburger dangerously close to MH’s French fries.
“A nurse (RN) named Annie always used to help with my colonoscopies (I had 5 of ’em ……colonoscopies, not nurses). Annie once told me that mixing the salty, night-before-prep with tequila would easily help me get through all the fluid intake …and better handle the subsequent fluid outtake.
Another time, Annie was about to give me a shot in the arm. She pushed up my sleeve, rubbed alcohol onto the injection site, then said ‘prick’ …to which I immediately replied ‘bitch.’
I was summarily jabbed big-time.”
* * *
Department Of Speaking of Sharing Stories… Does Any One Else’s Cat Do This?
One of our cats, Nova (pictured above, looking suspiciously innocent), from time to time performs an odd…ritual (?)…as part of her morning ablutions. After she uses the litter box for #2, she leaps out of the box and proceeds to run several laps around the house, sometimes accompanied by her come-play-with-me! vocalizing.
Moiself calls this behavior *Nova’s Happy Turd Trot.* My interpretation is that she’s running for joy (“I feel so much lighter now, I could fly!”) Because these incidents in the past  were occasionally accompanied by MH and/or I finding a…ahem…”turd on the loose” (or worse yet, skidmarks on the carpet), MH says that she does it because she feels that “something is chasing her” (read: one of her turd astronauts has not quite made its splashdown).
I think we’re both correct.
Well, neither are *we,* queenie, as we have no servants to return the wayward turd to its proper receptacle.
* * *
“Well, sometimes the magic works. Sometimes, it doesn’t.” (Old Lodge Skins, played by Chief Dan George, Little Big Man)
Dateline: Tuesday, circa 6 am; doing my morning 15 minutes of meditation, which is not going so smoothly. Moiself’s monkey mind is drifting even more than usual; I decide to forgo my typical techniques and concentrate on my breath while repeating a pay attention kind of mantra, or reminder, to moiself. I chose arguably the most deceptively simply yet profound mindfulness phrase, “Be here now,” which does the trick for about five breath cycles, until my baboon brain takes it for a spin…and I hear moiself thinking to moiself:
Be here now Bees here now Bear here now Bear hair here now Bear hears cow Care bears cow Beet hairs now Barley here now Beer here now My beer is barely here now Wait a minute – I don’t even drink beer…
* * *
Department Of Petty Pleasures Number 479 In A Series
This has happened more than once – moiself deriving childish amusement via witnessing the cuisine-related faux pas of someone else.  Dateline for the most recent incident: last Tuesday, 12:45 pm-ish. I was in a Thai restaurant,  in a seat by the counter, enjoying my panang curry and watching people coming in to pick up their phone-in/to-go orders.
The restaurant owner greeted each person who picked up an order by reading off the order’s contents (“Two Pad Thai shrimp; two red curry, veggie….”) . One customer, as she received her to-go bag of three curry dishes with rice, asked if there were chopsticks with her order. “Three napkins and utensils included,” said the restaurant owner, who pointed at a basket on the counter which was filled with forks and spoons wrapped in napkins. “You need more utensils?”
“I want chopsticks,” the customer said. The owner repeated that utensils were already in the bag; the customer repeated that she wanted chopsticks.
I eat all my food with chopsticks.
I wondered if that was that customer’s first time ordering Thai food. If she’d have looked around she might have noticed that the tables were set with napkins and forks. No chopsticks in sight.
Many Americans, not wanting to be seen as “Oriental food” newbies, mistakenly think chopsticks should accompany any food they identify as Asian (Does it come with rice? Check; it’s Asian.  ,  apparently not knowing (or caring?) about the nuances of eating Asian and south-Asian cuisines.
Thais eat Thai food with a spoon and fork, not chopsticks.
I have witnessed customers at Thai restaurants berating servers for not bringing them chopsticks. A Thai restaurant employee told me that so many non-Asian Americans want to appear as if they know what they are doing when it comes to Asian food and thus (mistakenly) insist on using chopsticks to eat their Thai food, that Thai restaurants keep a supply of chopsticks on hand for just that purpose. 
Rule #1: Put Down The Damn Chopsticks! The spoon (usually a table spoon) is used to bring food to your mouth. The fork is used to maneuver your food around your plate and onto the spoon. Generally, spoon in the right hand; fork in the left.
Individual table settings will not have a knife. Knives are used in the kitchen – not the dining table. Meat is served already cut-up into bite sizes. When you do need to cut something on your plate, Thais will use the spoon.
Thais use chopsticks when eating Chinese food. (Duh!) They also use chopsticks for their varieties of noodle soup…. But even then, the chopsticks are used to snatch goodies from your (noodle soup) bowl and place them onto a spoon. ( Thai table manners – put down the chopsticks! mythailandblog.com )
My favorite Thai cookbook. No eating utensils necessary.
* * *
Department Of That Which Comes from Social Media Prompts
I can’t remember the exact phrasing of the prompt, which I saw on Facebook. It was something along the lines of,
“Date yourself by naming one concert you have attended.”
The first one I thought of that fit the bill was a double bill, featuring bands which my offspring would likely have never heard of: Cheap Trick opened for The Runaways . I googled The Runaways to find their touring history, to get the date right (it was the Santa Monica Auditorium gig, in April 1977), and by doing so I came across a link to “Bad Reputation,” a 2018 documentary about The Runaways’ cofounder, Joan Jett. Guess what I streamed on TV that night?
I’ve long loved Joan Jett’s songs, and she’s fun to see in concert. Besides the afore-mentioned gig, I saw Jett a couple of times in her post-Runaways year, rocking up a sweat storm with her band, The Blackhearts. Somewhere in my attic is a cassette tape I cherish: a DJ friend of mine persuaded Ms. Jett to record a personalized birthday greetings for moiself. 
As much as I enjoyed most of the documentary, I found some of it painful to watch. In particular, that which pained me is at odds with the sentiments of Jett’s lyrics from the documentary’s titular song:
♫ I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation A girl can do what she wants to do And that’s what I’m gonna do…
And I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation Never said I wanted to improve my station And I’m only doin’ good when I’m havin’ fun And I don’t have to please no one…
I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation Never been afraid of any deviation And I don’t really care if you think I’m strange I ain’t gonna change… ♫ (“Bad Reputation,” first three verses, sans chorus)
Living in the past it’s a new generation…yeah, I wish. Seeing the Joan of the present compared with the past makes me want to listen to Lawrence Welk muzak, for some reason. Her punk fuck you musical persona aside, obviously, Joan cares about celebrity standards of appearance (for women). Although she sings otherwise she seems afraid of any deviation from the Hollywood norm, as per her present visage. Her countenance evinces the er facplastic surgery stretching associated with the most insecure, fading former debutante, instead of the bad ass rocker she *should* look like, at her age. You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation ? There’s nothing new, or punk or empowering, about Jett’s overly taut, plasticized face.
The documentary featured interviews with many actors, composers, producers, and musicians who expressed admiration for or had a connection to Jett, and the gender contrasts were striking. Why is it that male rockstars like Iggy Pop and Keith Richards are allowed to be comfortable with their accurately aging faces and bodies (which look like they’ve been in a raisin-drying contest since the 1600s), when Jett evidently feels that she has to try to recreate the forehead she had at age 15 – and the mouth that she *never* had  – when she is in her mid-60s?
I dunno…. Is it pettiness on behalf of moiself, that allows me to be distracted by the obvious cosmetic augmentations of the present as compared with Jett’s face of the past? I just wish that JJ felt the same, because she was so cool in so many ways.
When it comes to “cosmetic dermatologic procedures” it’s easy for me, not being in the public eye (anymore) and subject to the ruthless scrutiny of their appearance that “public” women get, to critique other women who fall for it go for it. Although, as per the scrutiny, I did recently get an email from a cosmetic dermatology practice telling me that I needed to avail moiself of their services. “How do they know?” I asked MH, after I read the email. “Have they placed cameras behind our mirrors?”
Once again, I digress.
On a marginally related note, I’ve never liked the classic Happy Birthday Song ®. If you’re going to serenade moiself on my birthday – and why *wouldn’t* you? – I’d prefer a verse or two of The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme. Guess who has done the best cover, IMHO? Take it away, Joan:
* * *
Punz For The Day Punk Rocker Edition
You can always give punk rock bands constructive criticism –
they appreciate feedback.
Q. What has eight arms and still can’t play bass worth shit? A: Squid Vicious.
Johnny was a punk rocker in the 80’s. Now he makes crockery at the pottery center
and jokes about it. He’s come full circle: he’s a pun crocker.
* * *
May the concerts you attend never date you; May you never ask for chopsticks at a Thai restaurant; May you follow your entertaining colonoscopy instructions to the letter; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 As in, “Whoa boy, if she can tell/admit to that, then I can say ______ “
 Hardly ever anymore, now that she gets hairball supplements with her dinner. And just in case your brain was going there, she has regular vet care and has never had worms, or any other parasite that might account for…whatever it is she’s doing.
 The simple pleasure of being able to do that, again!
 A sweet, culinarily clueless relative said that to me, once, as per how he knows “what kind” of food he’s eating.
 Chinese; Japanese; Thai; Vietnamese; Cambodian – it’s all the same, right?
 The people I’ve spoken with said it’s easier to just give chopsticks to those who ask, rather than trying to explain Thai table manners. One server, himself Thai, said that a white customer berated him for not knowing that “Asian food required chopsticks” and implied that forks were for children and adults who could not handle chopsticks.
 Jett was doling PR at his station, recording a promo. Thanks, Erndawg – one of the best birthday presents, ever!
 What is it with the batwing-tipped, cupid’s bows on her upper lip? The contrast with her natural mouth, so evident with archival footage – DUH – is bizarre, to say the least.
Department Of Quarantine Reflections Sub-Department of The Neurobiology Of Love
“Neuroscientists have studied madly-in-love folks, putting them in the fMRI machine…. The parts of the brain that ‘light up’ while looking at the lover are the same brain areas activated by cocaine—the reward centers. These researchers concluded that love is like a drug.
… The chemicals of early love: testosterone (the hormone fueling the sex drive in both men and women), dopamine (focusing on ‘that special someone’), and oxytocin (the bonding hormone/neurotransmitter)….in early love, the critical part of the brain goes quiet…
Crazy in love is a temporary state; the brain can’t stand the intensity forever. At some point the critical parts of the brain come back online, and we see our partners, warts and all. The jazzed-up chemicals settle down, and our drug high gives way to a calmer brain state. Romantic love, researchers find, yields to a tamer version, called companionate love….
Many couples are deeply disappointed when their romance fades into a more sedate version. They crave the high of early love, dopamine and all. Some have affairs, or divorce and remarry, seeking another hit of the drug. But eventually the new relationship will become old….
‘I still love my wife, but I’ve fallen out of love with her,’ a man said to me recently. He’s missing the hit of the drug, and is thinking of looking elsewhere for that love high again. To my mind, ‘falling out of love’ sounds so passive—like falling into a pothole! I propose a more proactive view of long-term love, in which both partners work to create a great relationship. Once the initial glow wears off, the real work of loving begins. The stakes are high; while happy relationships are associated with health and longevity, the stress of an unhappy marriage can result in illness and earlier death.”
“Frankly my dear, after the dopamine dips, I won’t give a damn.”
“That warm, fuzzy feeling…called limerence…refers to the intense, involuntary attraction we feel during the first stages of a romantic relationship. Limerence is often characterized by intrusive thoughts (we can’t stop thinking about someone) and a need for reciprocation (we can’t stand the thought of being rejected by someone).
Limerence has a biological basis. When we are first attracted to someone, our brains release chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine, which make our hearts flutter and make us feel happy.
The feeling of limerence can last for weeks or decades, although most people start to feel its decline within a year or two of starting a romantic relationship. As we form a lasting romantic bond, dopamine and norepinephrine stop flowing. They’re replaced by hormones associated with social bonding, like oxytocin.”
“It’s just limerence, darling. We’ll live through it.”
Although more and more people are becoming vaccinated, the health care, social, psychological, and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will linger for some time. Perhaps it’s too early to be in “look back” mode, but since I have been fully vaccinated, moiself’s mind tends to go there. “There” includes bits of wisdom I attempted to impart to my offspring – when they were still in the nest, and then reminders  after they’d left – about the good which can come from hard times, including:
* realizing the value of resilience
* discovering, on more than a theoretical level, that you are (or can learn to be) more resilient and adaptable than you may have previously thought.
In the past year+ I have been reading about how people got on each other’s nerves during the pandemic. Fortunately, there were also stories about how some lucky folks found new things to admire in their partners and family members. A particularly pleasant side effect of the pandemic for moiself has been the reminder,
Oh yeah, I married the right guy. (Right for *me,* that is).
MH has simply been…easy to be with. I hope he found moiself as agreeable (or at least as tolerable) as I found him.
I don’t want to make light of what has been a trying time for all families, and very difficult for some. I also realize that, in this stage of our lives…well, things might have been way different if our offspring were not successfully fledged but were instead school age/living at home and we had to juggle both childcare and education responsibilities, and if our economic situation had been precarious and/or not amenable to working from home.
As fun (and also overwhelming) as the passion of the early times of a relationship can be, I have always and strongly believed that romantic love is overemphasized by our culture, and that relationships which prioritize that “romance” side of love above all else are doomed to fail, as the partners conflate the ebbing of romantic feelings with diminishment of the relationship. As per the research quoted in the above excerpts, romantic love by its very nature has a shelf life, determined in part by the sheer newness of getting to know someone as well as by the biological realities  which produce those over-hyped romantic emotions.
Although the following Life Advice ® of mine is unlikely to inspire cinematic tales of inspirational star-crossed lovers, it is, IMHO, essential:
Marry someone whose essential qualities and temperament make you think, “This is someone I could stand to be quarantined with.”
To put it in terms of my own ongoing realization:
“More important than ‘being in love’ with this person
is the fact that I *like* him.”
How could I not love a man who lets me take a picture of him with his hair in a “granny knot” (courtesy of daughter Belle’s styling skills)?
* * *
Department Of Back In The Saddle
Those who know me, and/or who have been reading this blog since before the pandemic, know that I am a fan of seeing movies in a movie theatre. While I am grateful for the many streaming services that kept us all entertained during the times of social/physical isolation, I am now Making Up For Lost Time. ® In the past five days moiself has seen three movies, in a movie theatre:
* A Quiet Place Part II
* Dream Horse
Abby the Emotional Support Avocado gives two thumbs up to each. 
* * *
Department Of Things Unlikely To Happen In My Lifetime
As part of my coming-out-of-pandemic mindset, I still like to think of such things, even if they are unlikely to happen. “Things” as in, solving the world’s pressing problems. “Things” along the lines of, what would happen If I Ran The World ® ? And by ‘running the world’ I do not mean moiself would be doing so as a queen or any kind of monarchist, ’cause y’all know how I feel about that.
Rather, If I Ran The World ® things would be like this:
* All nations would agree upon a “Marshall Plan” (or series of plans), to stop the damage we are doing to our home planet and for cleaning up the messes we’ve already made. Those coming up with workable solutions would be compensated (and celebrated) to the highest financial and “celebrity” degree.  Instead of being hailed for designing an app for more convenient shopping or food delivery or online gaming, the creative young (and older) engineering, artistic and scientific minds would be encouraged to pool resources and take up the various challenges (“Ok, our group will solve ground water storage and pollution; yours will do topsoil rejuvenation…”).
Components of this plan include coming up with solutions for
– renewable/sustainable non-polluting energy sources
– cleaning/filtering pollutants from our land skies and seas
– halting and reversing global warming
For example, in this if-I-ran-the-worldscenario in no one would be using or manufacturing plastics anymore, but what about the bazillion tons of plastic refuse that already exist? Somewhere out there is an idealistic student, in the suburbs of Portland or the streets of New Delhi, who is eager to put her brilliant but unappreciated mind to work inventing or discovering a bacteria or other organism that eats plastics and excretes something useful – or at least non-toxic – in return (read: that doesn’t turn into the sci-fi movie bogeyman which is going to take revenge on us all).
Unless of course, the organism turns out to be the inspiration for a classic monster movie, ala “The Blob.” Then I say, bring it on!
* National boundaries as such would become an anachronism; nations and governments would be organized according to Bioregions. 
* Daylight savings or standard time – we’d pick one of those for our clocks to be set to, year-round, and we’d adjust our work and school schedules accordingly.  The choice would be in agreement with what medical science tell us is optimal for the human mind and body.
* High Schools would eliminate the teaching of trigonometry and/or Algebra 2, and a mandatory math class for all students would be statistics and data analysis (aka Data Science). 
Religious believers may still cling to their creation mythologies and other dogmas: practitioners of the three major Abrahamic religions ( Christians and Jews and Muslims ) will be free to believe that the earth as it currently exists was created in six days 6000 years ago by their god, which then fashioned a man from dust/clay and a woman from a man’s rib; Hindus may believe in their various origins mythos, including that Brahma created the cosmos from a lotus flower which grew from Lord Vishnu’s navel with Brahma sitting on it, or that life in the universe came from the cracking of an enormous egg; Wiccans can hold that “the Goddess” birthed a race of spirits that filled the world and became humans, animals, plants, and all living beings; Scientologists may assure one another that Tom Cruise is the heir to Xenu’s galactic confederacy ….
Religious believers will be free to practice their beliefs as long as their doing so does not negatively impact their neighbors. For example, in the privacy of their own homes and churches, Christians will still be able to appease their deities through reenacting their Jesus-as-the-ultimate-animal-sacrifice ritual via the symbolic cannibalism of communion. However, there will be no governmental respecting of any religion’s theology, nor integration of such in public policy. Religious believers will still be able to vote however they please but will not be able to influence other people’s healthcare options, nor demand that public education incorporate their folklore about the origins of the cosmos as if those myths held equal weight to the geologic, biologic, and astronomical evidence.
* * *
Punz For The Day Cinephile Edition
French movie fanatics want to open a floating cinema in Paris, with drive-in boats! I just think that’s in Seine.
Have you seen the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie? It’s rated aRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Why did Bruce Willis try to commit suicide with an overdose of Viagra? He wanted to Die Hard.
What is the internal temperature of a Tauntaun? Lukewarm.
* * *
May you appreciate those people you could stand to be quarantined with; May you make plans *right now* to go to the movie theater; May you start your own “If I Ran The World” list; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “Reminders” sounds better than unsolicited life advice.
 Those romance hormones, like opiates and other “highs,” lose their potency as we develop tolerances to them.
 Well…Abby was a bit generous with Cruella, which needed at least 30 minutes of edits.
 Although I’d like to think the minds capable of solving our problems would not care about fame, it only seems fair that they’d be celebrated – and rewarded for their contribution to humanity – more than, say, the actor with the most Academy Awards or the basketball player with the highest field goal percentage.
 A bioregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area. Bioregionalism, as a governing philosophy, advocates that political, cultural, and economic systems to be organized around bioregions (which are defined through environmental features such as watershed boundaries, soil and topographical characteristics), rather than via the arbitrary and often unjust national boundaries established over the centuries via wars, immigration and expansionist policies, and desire for land acquisition and resource exploitation.
 Once every month or so, in order to maximize our productive times with the times of the most daylight, we would adjust our schedules to start or end an hour earlier or later, and such changes would be implemented with a week’s warning time: “Remember, next week/in six days School/work class begins at 9 AM not 10 AM.” We don’t change our clocks; we change our schedules. 9 AM is still 9 AM.
 The reality is that few of us will go on to use trigonometry, but all of us need to know how to sort out the overwhelming amount of data to which we are subjected in our daily lives, and how to determine what are valid stats verses what is being used to manipulate us (i.e., make us afraid).
Yesterday marked the second week after my second (Moderna) COVID vaccination. I feel…not quite invincible, but superb, nonetheless.
* * *
Dept Of Shame On The Shamers
I have a…how shall I describe it?…not, love-hate, but more, mostly like/sometimes WTF relationship with certain podcasts. The obsequiousness with which podcast hosts and their guests begin their show ranges from mildly annoying to barely tolerable. No matter the subject, from arts and entertainment to politics and science and comedy, it’s as if the podcast hosts and/or producers all received the same Podcast Handbook which decreed that each show must start with a mutual gushing session.
“I *love* your work!” “Oh, and *I* love *your* work!”
This week, on standup comic/actor Tig Notaro’s Don’t Ask Tig podcast (one of my regular, mostly like/sometimes WTF listens), her guest was “outspoken journalist/author/activist” Jane Velez-Mitchell. As soon as Velez-Mitchell described herself as a “fellow lesbian/sober/vegan,” moiselfgirded my aural loins for some particularly self-righteous gushing between Notaro and her guest.. After it subsided, I thought they would get on to the supposed raison d’etre for the show – reading listener’s letters.  It should have come as no surprise to moiselfthat their mutual dietary sanctimony took center stage, prompted by Notaro, who asked V-M when she became “plant-based.”
V-M told story of the “advice” she personally received from, Howard Lyman, the “Mad Cowboy” rancher-turned vegetarian-then-vegan. Background info: Lyman got his 15 minutes of fame in 1996 on The Oprah Winfrey show, when the former rancher’s comments on the practices of the American beef industry caused Oprah to declare on the air that she was done with hamburgers. (Oprah, and Lyman, later got more than their 15 minutes of famous lawsuits from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association).
V-M said she’d met Lyman when she had her own news/opinion/interview show, and she interviewed him. After the interview…
V-M: Lyman and his publicist walked up to my cubicle and said, “We hear you’re a vegetarian.” At that time I was a vegetarian. And I said yes, and they said, “Do you eat dairy?” And I kind of hung my head and because he had just talked about ——– (various horrors of the dairy industry) and I had said ‘yes’ and then he stuck his finger right at my nose and said, ‘Liquid meat!’ and that was the moment I went vegan.”
So. Lyman was able to shame V-M into doing something she probably was headed toward doing anyway. But is that a tactic she would endorse across the board? Subtle hints brazen evidence surfaced in her comments when she and Notaro got to reading letters, the first from a self-described, “time-strapped single mom” who wanted to know how to prepare healthy meals for her nine-year-old son, who recently declared himself vegan “…oh and did I mention that I am also cooking for his ninety- and eighty-eight-year-old grandparents?”
V-M began her advice with,
“But see there’s the inherent carnus bias in the question – that somehow it’s going to take longer to make something that’s vegan, so we always come from that carnistic bias that it’s going to be more expensive, it’s going to take longer …”
Not one complete sentence into her advice and she’s already invented two words: “carnus” and “carnistic.” 
V-M did have some actual advice for the advice-seeker advice re recipes, and getting the child involved re the cooking process, but she had to go further:
“…So, get your child involved in the cooking process, and then you can feed that vegan food to your elderly grandparents so that they live longer, because the best way to ensure longevity is to go plant-based.
So it’s a win-win for everybody; you son is clearly smarter than everybody else in the family….”
The letter writer had said nothing about the grandparents wanting to live longer or that they were seeking a change in *their* dietary habits. Nor had she mentioned her son’s intelligence vis-à-vis that of the other family members. But, because he wants to eat vegan, a vegan evangelist just *knows* that he’s “smarter than everyone else.”
As is the way of vegan proselytizers, V-M took (or made) an opening and ran with it. Reacting to another letter, from a man who wanted to tell his friend that opening a bakery is a terrible idea (the friend is not the best cook and her baked goods are atrocious), here’s how V-M dove in:
“First of all, I hope that if she does create this business that’s it’s a vegan bakery, because you don’t need eggs to make cake, or milk…”
Fellow Vegan Notaro could not suppress herself: “Or milk! You do not need it! You do not need it!”
V-M: “But the bigger thing is, people are on their journey, and it’s very hard for us to steer people on their journey.”
Except of course when it comes to steering them toward vegan land, when it is not hard at all for her to offer unsolicited advice, bordering on shame.
I used the term evangelists and proselytizers, because for hardcore vegans, their philosophy is truly a religion. Notaro and V-M obviously and sincerely believe that their veganism is saving the planet.  There are people who believe – just as passionately as Notaro and V-M believe in the benefits of plant-based nutrition – that all people have an eternal soul, and that a certain god has a plan for that soul, and that nothingis more important than that. How receptive would V-M be toward a conservative Christian who “stuck his finger right at your nose” and told her that being lesbian (even a sober, vegan one) is damning her to hellfire, harming heself and the planet, ad nauseum?
And yes, it’s the fucking same thing.
* * *
Department Of Random Thoughts At The Stop Light
I love my Subaru, and am impressed with Subaru’s’ reputation for quality and reliability. But when it comes time to get a new car I know I will not be going with their latest (and largest) SUV, due to my gut reaction when I became aware of the model’s name.
Dateline: Wednesday afternoon; running errands. Moiself was in my Outback, at a stop light, behind a model of Subaru I’ve never heard of. I looked to the right of the six-star Subaru logo on the car’s trunk to see the model’s name: Ascent. My kneejerk reaction/comment, which moiself uttered aloud to moiself:
“I guess that name must have market-tested better than Buttsmell.”
* * *
Department Of The Downside Of Unmasking
Dateline: last week speaking with an acquaintance who works in the personal services industry.  We talked about nearing the end of social/physical distancing, and about getting – or having – to see people without masks again. Moiself listed a few of the advantages of mask wearing, including the fact that I’d gotten used to running errands without feeling guilty for not having washed my face that morning or having showered in three days (distancing + mask…who’s gonna notice?). Acquaintance laughed heartily, even more so when I added, “No, I’m serious.”
I started to mention the return of something else which *wasn’t* missed by millions of women…then thought better of it, and chided moiself for being so cynical. Turns out, others have been thinking along same lines:
So in less than an hour out of the new CDC mask guidance, I just went outside and pulled mine down. A nearby construction worker immediately told me to “Smile.” I will miss masks for some reasons that are not pandemic-related. (tweet from @ Sarah_boxer, quoted in the article mentioned below).
For M. ___, the pandemic marked the first time in decades she hadn’t felt any pressure to adopt an obsequious, apologetic smile when asking for help at the grocery or the hardware store or the car dealership. For women, “the smile sort of neutralizes you. It implies that you’re more pliable, you’re not going to give them trouble,” she says. With the smile suddenly out of the equation…“it made me go a step further. I decided to not be the type of person who asks for something. Instead I would tell them what I wanted. I would say, ‘I need this.’ ” She plans to keep doing so even when she quits wearing a mask. (“Masks are off — which means men will start telling women to ‘Smile!’ again.” Washington Post, 5-22-21 )
* * *
Department Of Next Time I’m Going To Shout It To The Cosmos
Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Moiself, taking a bus to a job interview….
Oh lawwwdy, those were the days. Out of college, interviewing, no car, dependent upon a sketchy public transportation system. I became convinced that there were signs posted on my forehead and back of my head. These signs, invisible to moiself and normal  bus riders, apparently flashed neon clarion calls to every loud and loony and delusional and horny street person: “Talk to this one – she’ll listen to anything and she lovesunsolicited advice.”
Yet again, I digress.
I was riding the bus, passing the time by reading a magazine article. The bus slowed as it approached my stop; I looked up from my magazine and saw a man seated across the aisle, who was staring at me. I stood up and moved to the front of the bus; Staring Man said, loud enough for the other passengers seated at the front of the bus to hear:
“You’d look prettier if you’d smile.”
I muttered as I exited the bus, “And you’d sound smarter if you’d never open your mouth.”
♫ Ridin’ in the bus down the boulevard And the place was pretty packed, Couldn’t find a seat so I had to stand With the perverts in the back It was smellin’ like a locker room There was junk all over the floor We’re already packed in like sardines But we’re stoppin’ to pick up more, look out
Another one rides the bus, another one rides the bus And another comes on and another comes on Another one rides the bus Hey, he’s gonna sit by YOU, another one rides the bus… ♫
I write and mail two letters every Friday, one to son K and one to daughter Belle. Just because. They don’t get much in the way of snail mail these days (who does?); I thought it would be a nice for them to get something other than advertising flyers, and a fun discipline for moiself, and that it would give them the opportunity to say holy crap, not another one” and reach for the recycling bin lovingly tuck away these personal missives and review them later with fond nostalgia.
Each letter begins with either a haiku or a limerick I have composed, themes varying from personal to political to the weather or a new month/the passage of time…whatever. Usually I personalize the compositions, but last week they both got the same:
A Haiku For Those Counties Who Want To Leave “Liberal” Oregon Begone, ingrates, and
take your tR**p-licking mindset
With you when you go.
You diss Portland, yet
have no qualms about taking
disbursed by the state,
from higher earning/urban
cities, to your schools.
Wave bye-bye, and don’t
let the door hit your Proud Boy
asses when you leave.
That purple prose was inspired by a recent event in Oregon politics: the majority of voters who cast ballots in advisory special elections in seven eastern/southern Oregon counties approved measures for their counties to leave Oregon and join Idaho.
I should turn in my Scout’s current events badge; I had *no idea* that this issue was A Thing ® . My Not Paying Attention ® may be an example of one of the reasons why the people voting to “secede” did so: they think they play second fiddle to urbanized Oregon (i.e., the Portland and Eugene metro areas ), and that urbanites, such as moiself, don’t know (or care) about their concerns. And, in a democracy, that’s kind of true – the “second fiddle” analogy, that is.
The seven counties that voted to leave, Jefferson, Union, Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman, constitute almost 75% of Oregon’s landmass.
BUT – and it’s a big but here –
And also here.
BUT…all that land is meagerly populated, as in, only ~ 114, 000 total residents. The state’s entire population is ~ 4,238,000…so those leaving constitute ~ 3% of the total population. Those seven counties poll and vote “red.” And there is, of course, a conservative advocacy group behind this: ” Citizens for Greater Idaho.”
In all the excitement to thumb their noses at those damn liberals, it is likely that the people who voted to leave have not fully considered several factors in joining “Greater Idaho.” Two prime factors are:
* A good percentage of the jobs in those counties are minimum wage. Translation: those counties who want to leave are essentially agreeing to a pay cut for hourly workers, as the minimum wage in Oregon ($11.25) is a whopping four dollars higher than in Idaho.
* Speaking of higher, weed is illegal in Idaho. Are those disgruntled voters trading Oregon buds for Idaho spuds? Those (wanna-be) seceding Oregon counties have made a lot of money from legal marijuana sales (and, in the opinion of some of us, are obviously heavy users of the stuff themselves, as an Oregonian who would vote to join Idaho must be stoned).
Another reason not to miss those who want to go involves something Oregon’s urbanites have grumbled about for years when they hear criticism from the smaller eastern/southern counties:
Oregon is a state that disproportionately gets tax money from its most economically productive citizens — and regions — and which disproportionately spends its resources in economically struggling communities. (Oregon’s Fiscal Flow)
When it comes to contributing to state coffers and these smaller counties have usually received more, percentage wise, than they give. The much-despised liberal urban areas pay more than their share for the educational and other social services consumed by the smaller/rural areas.
Here is what Citizen’s For Greater Idaho Envision:
Here is moiself’s equally probable pipe dream, of redoing the borders of our entire nation, ever since the re-election of GWB:
Moiself’s personal take on all of this: I’ve no problem with those counties leaving (assuming Idaho is willing to take them). I actually think it would be a good thing, for our country, to see how it turns out. If it is a success (however that would be measured), I hope that California would then consider a split, or four, of its own. 
From what I’m reading, the secession of these seven counties is unlikely to happen, as per the layers of bureaucracy that have to be dealt with. Despite what the citizens of those counties voted for, they are dependent upon the approval of other government bodies: both the Oregon and Idaho state legislatures would have to agree to redefine their respective boundaries and redistrict their legislatures. And then the US Congress has final approval. 
Gee, does this dilemma sound so familiar? The majority voted a certain way; now, the will of the people being thwarted…. Hey y’all in the by-bye Oregon movement, do you now understand why so your fellow Americans want to get rid of the Electoral College?
* * *
Punz For The Day COVID Pundemic Edition
Why do they call it the novel coronavirus? It’s a long story….
Ran out of toilet paper and started using lettuce leaves.
Today was just the tip of the iceberg, tomorrow romaines to be seen.
We had a run on toilet paper in the USA,
but in Germany there was panic-buying of sausage and cheese – the wurst-kase scenario.
The World Health Organization announced that dogs cannot contract COVID-19; thus, dogs previously held in quarantine can be released.
Yep: WHO let the dogs out.
* * *
May you enjoy the new-car smell, no matter what your new car model’s name; May you soon (if you haven’t already) celebrate your vaccine victory day; May you hold the door open for anyone you know who wants to secede to Idaho; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The podcast is an “advice column” in podcast form, although I wonder how many of the advice seekers are legit, or are just making up letters to get some airtime.
 I’m not sure re the spellings…but does it matter with a made-up terms?
 And as a 99% plant-based eater moiself, I’m in agreement with that idea…but not with how she’s promoting it. And yep, I manage to bake without (dairy) milk and eggs.
 And shame on you for immediately going to Euphemism Land. Think more along the lines of hair salon.
 “normal” as in polite, discreet, keeping their opinions and personal hygiene to themselves.
 It’s ridiculous that the 39+ MILLION Californians have less say in their lives than the 580 THOUSANDWyomingites as per Senate representation. Such incredible power-skewing is not what the framers of the US Constitution envisioned.
 The U.S. Constitution (Article IV, section 3) allows for states to be subdivided if the affected states’ legislatures consent and U.S. Congress approves,
Dateline: Monday, doing a 7:45 am warm-up on my elliptical thingy before my streaming yoga class begins. I tune in to the Curiosity Daily podcast, which begins (as always) with a brief preview of the day’s topics:
“Today we’ll learn about why introverts fared better than extroverts
during the pandemic; that time people were afraid that astronaut farts were a fire hazard…”
Wait – “that time?” What time was that? Please oh please oh please tell me that there was that time, because I really want to find a way to revisit it.
* * *
Department Of Everything Has Its Price
Dateline: last weekend. The man from the Home Maintenance Business  stood in our entryway, chatting with MH as I began to write out a check. This company provided us with a service which required several visits. I asked him to confirm that the price for the day’s visit was $158. He did, then said that if I would go online and give his company a five-star review, which he would very as coming from us, he’d knock it down to $150.
“I knew there was a reason I didn’t trust those reviews!”
Although my tone was humorous, I made no attempt to hide the are-you-fucking-kidding-me? indignation in my eyes, which met his above our respective face masks. He immediately (and defensively) added that, what with all the competition out there, reviews were essential to small businesses like his, and….
Yes, I imagine they are,I thought. And shouldn’t something essential be, essentially, honest?
I let him babble on as I continued to write the check for the original amount.
Had he merely asked me to review the company online, I probably would have done so. But he went further, in a way that flummoxed me, the more I thought about it. He offered me a laughably paltry discount contingent upon the kind of review I would write – AND, which he would “verify,” whatever that meant. Seeing as how he was prepared to take the check I wrote at that moment, how would he later enforce such a verification? If he went online, read my review, and discovered it wasn’t five stars, what was he going to do – return to our house, rifle through our petty cash drawer, and take eight bucks? 
The review I might have given would have been a positive review, but not five stars. As a matter of principle, I generally do not give five stars (or eighteen thumbs up, or whatever the highest rating is, depending on the system). Moiself be suspicious of anything reviewed – from movies and books to restaurants and services – which has all top-rated/glowing reviews. Such hyperbole makes me think that the maker of the product being reviewed guilted and/or blackmailed convinced family and friends to rave about it. And then, there is the “everyone gets a trophy for participating” phenomena. If every rating is five stars, then a five-star rating is nothing special.
Perhaps, for him, it was business as usual. Thus, it’s possible that he didn’t think of his request in the same way MH and I did. As in, Dude, do you realize that you tried buy our integrity for $8?
Now, if it had been $50….
* * *
Department Of Return To Normalcy (?)
Dateline: Tuesday, 1:20p, a Cinemark theater. I saw “Those Who Wish Me Dead.” My first movie in a movie theater in well over a year (since mid-March of 2020).
Daughter Belle, when I proudly texted her re my outing, pointed out that I could have watched the same movie via Netflix (as she did). Yep, and duh. But I didn’t want to, and was glad I didn’t. It was the kind of movie whose cinematic presentation demanded…well…a cinematic presentation. Montana; wilderness; wildfires – big screen stuff.
There were about fifteen of us intrepid cinephiles scattered about the theatre. We all made ISN’T THIS GREAT ?!?!?!?! eye contact with one another as we entered the theater and found our respective (reserved online; generous spacing) seats. One older gent seated near the entrance greeted everyone with a lifting of his popcorn bag in a toasting gesture; no words were necessary to convey his meaning.
Moiself is hoping to return to regular (as in, weekly) movie-in-a-theater viewing.  Now I just have to hope for suitable movies available to see. 
* * *
Department Of They Only Want What’s Best For America
Dateline: May 14 (last Friday). I posted the following on Facebook:
Department of irrefutable evidence: I thought I was doing fine after my second COVID vaccination yesterday – just a sore arm; no other reactions. But later that evening, I allowed Amazon to charge me $3.99 to watch “Gidget Goes Hawaiian.” Should I report this to the CDC?
Apparently, my inclusion of the words “vaccination,” “reaction,” and “CDC” triggered Facebook’s Vigilant Guardians of Factual Information Monitors. ® MH alerted me to the fact that, within minutes of posting my post, Facebook had added a comment/post to my post, which read:
COVID-19 vaccines go through many tests for safety and effectiveness and are then monitored closely.
Source: World Health Organization.
The comment included a blue-highlighted “Get vaccine Information” link.
This amused me to no end. I had to comment further:
Isn’t it funny, that, because my post mentions the COVID vaccine, it got flagged for a warning? In case all my moron friends think that a desire to watch dreadful movies is a side-effect and decide to remain unvaccinated. They couldn’t protect us from Russian hackers stealing our elections, but my golly, FB monitors are gonna protect y’all from Gidget!
Carefree American teenagers riding surfboards, or Russian anti-vaxxer spies atop giant radioactive tongue depressors?
* * *
Department Of The Reaction I’m Not Reporting To Social Media
Dateline Friday afternoon, lounging on the sofa, languishing with my post second vaccine 100.6° temperature.  Following the CDC guidelines for recovery from illness, I fall asleep while watching TV. I doze off to a 2019 surfing championship program and awake 45 minutes later to see the cheery visage of the host of a “raw vegan” cooking show.
Moiself watches with fever-influenced interest as the host/chef works her way through several recipes, some of which look delicious, and others…not so. The show ends with a picture of the final recipe, accompanied by a voice-over listing the recipe’s ingredients, and three lines of text listing why you should make this recipe yourself. As in, this recipe is
* Promotes Digestion
Wait a minute. Even with a fever, I recognize the gobbledy-gook nonsense of that line #3.
That last line is one of those claims which, at first glance, can seem desirous (digestion is good, right?) but which in fact conveys…well, nothing.
Be specific. Do you mean to say that the casserole you’ll concoct by following this recipe is guaranteed to give you astronaut-worthy flatulence? Do you mean to convey, “People who suffer from intestinal blockages will be thrilled to know that this recipe contains ten times the amount of fiber found in a Douglas Fir floor joist, which is enough to clean out the colon of a constipated bull elephant….”
The recipe *promotes digestion.* Well, sure, it does. That’s what allfoods do, when you ingest them. Even non-food items will do the same, when swallowed.
“Hey babe, let’s promote *me* as your raisin d’etre.”
Digestion is your digestive system’s raison d’etre – that’s what it does. You don’t need to “promote” it.
Anything that manages to wriggle down your esophagus and into your stomach – whether it’s a lima bean, a raw vegan energy bar, or a piece of cardboard  – activates that organ’s digestive processes. Holy baloney on rye. 
* * *
Punz For The Day Promoting Digestion Edition
A surgeon told me that he once dropped a tool into a patient’s stomach. It was a gut-wrenching story.
I had some Greek food that upset my stomach. Now I falafel.
My mother, a doctor, told me that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach.
I’m guessing that’s why she failed her cardiac surgery internship.
* * *
May you experience the bliss of promotion-free digestion; May you be wary of five-star reviews; May your social media post be sprinkled with trigger words; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The company’s name I will keep private, for obvious reasons.
 We don’t have a petty cash drawer. And although I have many petty pleasures in life, cash isn’t one of them.
 Last week’s blog had a bajillion footnotes. I’m behind pace; it’s time for another one.
 Previews are helpful in weeding out what I do not want to see: nothing featuring a scowling Bruce Willis or his macho-actor-saves-the-world equivalent, nor lots of explosions, nor grunting hordes of The Undead…and enough with the Superheroes, please.
 Which returned to normal less than 24 hours later.
 A kid who sat across from me in the second grade had this thing about eating paper. Sadly, that was his most memorable quality.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.