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The Inspiration I’m Not Becoming

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Department Of With Friends Like These Who Needs Haldol

I recently received this email from my observant, always-pointing-me-toward-a-good-deal friend, SCM:

I’m just immature enough to giggle and consider buying these (I normally use .38 mm point pens and am convinced smaller is better—but perhaps not when the product is called Dong):

Being the more mature partner in our friendship, I of course had to make the purchase, sans giggling. I can honestly report that life is now…just… enhanced, in some incalculable way, when I whip out my Dong at lunch to do my crossword puzzle or KenKen puzzle.

 

dongpen

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Speaking Of Other Pastimes That Mitigate The Need For Antipsychotic Medication

While you’re reading this, it is possible I am attending the Oregon Potters Association’s annual whoopdedoo.[1] The Ceramic Showcase, which is “the nations’ largest show and sale of handmade pottery, sculpture, garden art, home accessories and other creative clay work,” is running through the weekend at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.   If you are a budding or veteran potter, or a collector of ceramics in particular or an admirer of art in general, or if you just need a new scrambled egg bowl, you owe it to yourself to see this show.

And sometimes, as what happened to MH and I two years ago, you find out you really need a bird-headed zipper face objet d’art to add some mojo to your hallway.

 

zip

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Department Of Apropos Of Nothing

Have y’all heard the phrase, inspiration porn?

The term, coined by the late [2] journalist, standup comedian [3]  and disability rights activist Stella Young, describes the patronizing experience common to many disabled people who hear themselves called “inspirational” when they accomplish things able-bodies people take for granted; thus, they are or have become inspirational mainly or solely due to their disability.

Young writes, “Let me be clear about the intent of this inspiration porn. It’s there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective…It’s there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think ‘well, it could be worse… I could be that person.’”

In other words, inspiration porn paints people with disabilities as nothing more than modern-day Tiny Tims—pitiable people who help us put our own problems into perspective while making us smile with their courageous outlook on life. The problem with this is twofold: It not only assumes that disability automatically equals hardship, a tragedy that must be overcome, but it also incorrectly assumes that disability can actually be overcome with a smile and a little bit of determination.
(from Salon. Com, 2-2-15, “Inspiration porn is not ok: disability activists are not impressed with feel-good Superbowl ads“)

 

The first time I listened to Young’s TED talk on the subject, I’m Not Your Inspiration Thank You Very Much, I was, well, dammit, inspired…which of course immediately made me feel guilty. [4]

One of the reasons for my guilt was that Young’s talk reminded me of the time, many years ago, when someone asked me to name my biggest fear. My truthful answer was, [5] I fear being someone who inspires people.

Translation: I have never been praised for/accused of being an inspiration to others; therefore, if someone says that I have become “an inspiration” to them or others it likely means I have met with a devastating accident/injury/illness. As in,

“Robyn is such an inspiration. If she can ____
 (recite the alphabet;
tie her shoelaces without passing gas;
string three multisyllabic words together without aspirating her drool…)
then anyone can! 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

Our dryer plays the harmonica.

That is, when it is in use, our clothes dryer sometimes produces a noise as if it were a harmonica player doing a sound check before a concert…if said harmonica player were a novice and the sound check consisted of the same note, blown at irregular intervals. [6]

International Person of Mystery ® that I am, I find this intriguing…or I used to, until I googled the phenomenon. Instead of what (in my mind) would be a logical response to my search (along the lines of, what a stupid question-have-you-tried-thinking-about-string-theory-or-something-more-profound?) I found…links.

It seem ours is not the only clothes dryer [7] with this talent. And I do consider it a talent.

Although I think it needs…something more. More cowbell?!

 

 

 

*   *   *

In last week’s post I mentioned my son K’s trip to Iceland. As of Monday eve K is back to the States safe and sound, and survived his partaking of the putrid slop that puts the concept of national culinary pride to shame country’s national delicacy, Hákarl.

K hasn’t exactly been Mr. Travelogue when it comes to recounting his adventures. My favorite comment of his, in response to MH and I asking him about his impression of the country:

“The (tap) water tastes like eggs and the showers smell like omelets.”

A nano-seconds worth of double take, then, aha, of course:  Iceland is an island/country that’s basically the tip top of a volcano.

And there’s nothing like a sulfur-infused beverage to wash down a mouthful of festering fermented shark meat.

 

Another Icelandic gourmand celebrates his culinary heritage.

Another Icelandic gourmand celebrates his culinary heritage.

 

 

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Department Of Things I Missed

And she thinks of herself as a progressive!

And she thinks of herself as a progressive!

 

Earth Day! It was last Friday, and there was not one mention of it in this space.

My shame knows no bounds.  I’ll try to think of something entertaining and Earthy to make up for it.

Nope; nada.

How’s about something Eartha, instead?

 

eartha

*   *   *

May your home appliances serenade you;
May you be an inspiration…or not, as you choose;
May your showers be redolent of your favorite breakfast food;
..and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Not the event’s official title.

[2] Sadly, late as in recently deceased, not as in habitually tardy.

[3] Let’s just make that “comedian,” seeing as how in Ms. Young’s case, although she did perform on stage it was from a wheelchair and she wasn’t technically standing up…a joke that, I like to think, she would have appreciated.

[4] Yep, it’s all about moiself.

[5] And still is…sort of.

[6] Kind of like a less nasal version of Bob Dylan’s current vocal stylings.

[7] DAMN!! I was hoping for an American’s Got Talent gig.

The R I’m Not Pronouncing

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Department Of Common Ground

It’s been a contentious primary season, here in the U S of What-the A?, and it’s nowhere near over. The issues and personalities on all sides are contentious; I often despair over the fragmentation of our nation, and wonder if there is any way to get us to focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us?

Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greenies, Independents – here is an issue all of us red-blooded [1] Americans can, IMHO, get behind:

Let’s do whatever it takes to get rid of the first r in February.

It isn’t as if removing that one pesky consonant would leave the month bereft of the 18th letter of our alphabet. And my official survey [2] results show that no one pronounces the first r, anyways.

 

spell-feb

 

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My Son Went To Iceland And All I Got Was This Rotting Shark

Góðan daginn!

My intention was to greet you in Icelandic language. Or perhaps I just warned you that there’s goop in your dog’s hotel. Either way….

Son K is in Iceland this week. The raison d’etre (or, as those suave Icelandic philosophers say, réttlætingfyrirtilvist) for the trip: he’s attending the EVE online convention or convocation or conflagration, or whatever the nerdfest gathering of devotees is called.

As His Mother © ,  I made him promise he’d go outside – i.e. leave the virtual and actual basement that will likely be the gamers’ world, even in A Foreign Country ® – and  do some sightseeing while he’s there. Appreciate the unique topography that is Iceland. And no, other gamer’s buttcracks don’t count.

 

Not approved by the Icelandic Tourism Board.

Not approved by the Icelandic Tourism Board.

 

See the country’s legendary, “arctic desert” landscape of mountains, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, and unpronounceable volcanoes! Try to get a feel for the local culture!

Up to a point.

When it comes to travel, advice like, check out the local culture can lead a person down a multitude of dark alleyways…such as partaking of culinary traditions for which the phrase “it’s an acquired taste” doesn’t even begin to excuse the horror which is about to plague your palate.

Speaking of which, before he departed K told me that if someone offers him a bite of Hákarl, the infamous Icelandic death sentence reserved for the most heinous of criminals “delicacy” which consists of fermented/rotting shark meat, [3]  he’d have to try it.

I advised K that, like the ferret-sized pickled anchovy I had to sample [4] when I was in Croatia, such regional delicacies are best washed down (and sometimes can only be kept down) with copious amounts of the local hooch. K doesn’t drink alcohol…but he does know how to vomit.

 

 

 

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Department Of Life Lessons Not Quite Learned

Last week on Thursday MH announced that, given our daughter Belle’s and our respective schedules, there would be no time for us to visit her, [5] as she’d been requesting we do, before finals week…and the day after her last final exam she’s embarking on a cross-country driving trip. So, how’s about a quickie up to Tacoma?

MH procured overnight lodgings for Saturday night, and we drove up that afternoon. We got to see her working a shift at her job at the The Cellar, the on-campus pizza parlor and smoothie shack, after which we took her and a friend out to dinner at a restaurant overlooking Commencement Bay. After dinner Belle had to return to The Cellar to work a closing shift, gave her the story she shared with us the next morning.

The set-up: Belle lives in a house on campus. Another on-campus house, about a half block down the street from hers, has acquired the nickname, The Slut Hut.[6]   The Slut Hut is known for hosting raucous parties. Saturday night TSH threw a big party, the highlights of which included (Belle later heard) a drunken party guest deciding it would be fun to jump off the house’s roof.

Sometime after midnight, several groups of TSH partiers wandered into The Cellar. A few ordered food and smoothies; mostly they just hung around in the booths until Belle, as she put it, “shooed them away” at closing time (one am).

Belle began her cleanup duties: bussing and wiping down tables. As she wiped the table at a booth where a group of TSH partiers had congregated, she noticed a large spill underneath the table. Not wanting to contaminate her table-wiping bleach cloth, she thought she’d get a start on cleaning up the mess by using her free hand to scoop up some of the blob…only to discover that what she’d thought was someone’s spilled raspberry smoothie was actually a puddle of blood.

Belle chuckled when she reached the part of the story where she saw “bloody bare footprints” leading from the puddle and out of the Cellar’s entry door. She shook her head over the idea that, “Someone was just sitting there, bleeding, and was ok with it!”  [7]  MH and I shook our respective parental heads over the fact that our daughter would think it reasonable to use her bare hand to scoop up an unknown…er…gooey substance.

Belle assured us she didn’t have any open cuts on her hand, and that the campus biohazard team, which her fellow Cellar employees summoned as per protocol, did a good job of cleaning up the floor (which was not our main concern, imagine that).

 

No, this picture is not apropos to the story, but would you rather see a pool of blood on a pizza parlor floor, or a baby sloth in pjs?

No, this picture is not apropos to the story, but would you rather see a pool of blood on a pizza parlor floor, or a baby sloth in pjs?

 

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Department Of The What-Abouts

So, it seems certain factions are up in arms (down in trousers?) about whose naughty bits get to use which public restrooms.

I don’t know what the fuss about toilets is about. I’ve long thought that all public restroom facilities should consist of as many single stall, accommodating-to-all rooms that can fit into a designated space.

What about the dad or mom, single parent or partnered, who takes his young daughters or her toddler son on an outing, and needs to accompany them to the restroom? What about the mom whose son is old enough to use the restroom on his own, but they’re out in a sketchy area – or even a public library [8] –  known to be frequented by junkies and mom would prefer to accompany her son lest he enter a bathroom full of discarded hypodermic needles or encounter someone shooting up in the stalls?  What about the gay parents, out shopping with both boys and girls, and the kids need a potty break?

What about parents with disabled children, or adult children with elderly parents who need assistance? What about the people who, like my MIL, needed to assist her ill/handicapped spouse with…whatever needs assisting? What about the person who, for whatever reasons, doesn’t feel comfortable using a restroom designated for (only) Men or Women?

What about – that’s what it’s all about. Life is about the what-abouts, isn’t it?

 

bathroom

 

Gender neutral public restrooms – it just seems so reasonable. Which is, of course, why the civil rights bigots astute and civic-minded state legislators of South Carolina and Mississippi recently decided they must pass potty patrol legislation.

Now, as much as I am in favor of unisex bathrooms, I think the urgency of the need for such can be overblown, or used as a wedge issue. My son K was mightily annoyed – rightly, I’d say – when his college, responding to a vocal minority’s [9] demands, somehow found the money to construct several gender neutral bathrooms in buildings on campus, including the building housing the chemistry department…the very department which had been told there was no $$ in any campus budget to purchase laboratory equipment vital to K’s and other students’ academic and research projects.

OK; a bit of a backtrack. Scratch the first sentence of the second paragraph. I do know what the fuss about toilets is really about. It’s another code way to try to foster “acceptable” LGBT discrimination/harassment. It’s becoming more and more difficult to spew bald-faced vitriol; thus, instead of admitting, I think trans people are icky, you wrap your fear and hatred opinions in a flag and declare, Laws must be enacted to protect our children!

I know why it’s done. Even so, I’m trying to imagine a politician attempting, with a straight (well, of course) face, to pen a law that, as per  N. Carolina’s, includes provisions requiring people “to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate.”

Giggles aside, how would such a law be enforced?  Three cups of green tea and I really need to use the Sushi Hut’s ladie’s loo…not so fast, you alleged lady, you. I must first pass muster with the undercover (underwear?) monitors, who would — what? Do an external genitalia check – after, of course, I show them a copy of my birth certificate, so they know what to, uh, look for?  [10]

And can you even imagine what kind of person would apply for a Pee Pee Protector Patrol position?

 

 

scotland

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May your what-about be about what matters;
May your bathrooms be free of gender monitors;
May you never need cleanup assistance from a biohazard team;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You know, the color that looks like a spilled raspberry smoothie. Just read on; you’ll get it.

[2] Which consisted of listening to radio and TV announcers and eavesdropping on people riding public transportation.

[3]  The least offensive description of which I’ve come across is odorifously reminiscent of festering urine.

[4] So as not to offend our trip’s 6′ 6″ 250 lb driver, formerly one of General Tito’s bodyguards, who did me the honor (or so I was told) of offering it to me, along with a swig from whatever was in the bottle inside the paper bag he carried.  

[5] She’s a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound.

[6] a term Belle claimed to “object to” yet nonetheless used: “It’s all guys, and they fit the definition of man-sluts.”

[7] Was it, perhaps, the party roof jumper, we wondered?

[8] Unfortunately, this is more common than you might think.

[9] The kind of people who argue along the lines of, “If you disagree with me on any issue, no matter what your reasoning, it is because you are prejudiced against me.”

[10] I bet in two months there’ll be an app for that!

The Titles I’m Not Choosing

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This week I renewed MH’s and my membership with the Portland Art Museum. On the online renewal form, I decided to check out a category – the one for “title” – I usually skip unless it is mandatory. I was richly rewarded for following that whim.

When I clicked on the box for title, Instead of the usual three to six possibilities (Mr. Mrs. Miss Ms. Dr., etc.), I was offered an awe-inspiring, forty-plus choices of honorifics:  [1]

– Acting Counsel General
– Ambassador
– Baron
– Bishop
– Brother
– Captain
– Chair
– Chairman
– Chief
– Col.
– Commissioner
– Consul General
– Councilor
– Cpt.
– Dr.
– Drs.
– Father
– First Lady
– General (Ret.)
– Governor
– Judge
– Lady
– Lt.
– Madam
– Mayor

 

But you've left out "His Excellency, Supreme Leader, Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander, Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven..."

But you’ve left out “His Excellency, Supreme Leader, Shining Star of Paektu Mountain, Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander, Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven…”

– M.D.
– Miss
– Miss.
– Monsieur et Madame
– Mr.
– Mr. and Mrs.
– Mrs.
– Ms
– Ms.
– PhD.
– President and Chief Executive Officer
– Prof.
– Rabbi
– Representative
– Rev.
– Rev. Dr.
– Reverend
– Senator
– Sir
– Sister
– The
– The Honorary
– The Rev. Hon.
– The Rev.Honorary

How could I leave the space blank after all that?  I was tempted by several titles (will life offer me any other opportunities to be addressed as Ambassador ?), but settled for one. My choice has, IMHO,  a deceptive simplicity that implies so much more – truly, a title of unlimited possibility. I’m not just (a) Robyn Parnell, I’m The Robyn Parnell.

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She Doesn’t Call; She Doesn’t Text; She Doesn’t Write,
She Never Likes My Posts Anymore…

The notice from Facebook reminded me to wish CM a Happy Birthday. Trouble is, CM died over a year ago. And now I’m wondering, who gets to report those things?

I received the notification while standing at the mailing/copy center desk at Office Depot. The Nice Young Woman ® who always helps me mail my care packages to daughter Belle set me up on OD’s shipping entry monitor, then began to assist Another Customer who stood next to me. I checked my phone, and wondered aloud re yet another social media dilemma: did either of them know what to do? I assume there’s a way to alert Facebook (but if so, nobody’s done it yet, re CM), but do you have to be a family member to do so? How can you (or do you even need to) prove [2] that someone has died so that FB can retire the page of the deceased?

Another Customer (thoughtfully furrowing her brow): “Wow, that’s a good question. There’s so much going on…you just don’t think of taking your page down when that happens.”

Moiself: “Well…yeah. When you’re dead, that’s not the first thing on your mind.”

 

tombstone

 

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Department Of Stupid Religious Rituals [3]

This week I’ll take a break from pointing out the idiocy of my own ancestors’ holy beliefs and customs and pick on another religious tradition. The pickings are far from slim, lemme tellya.

Well-being (wĕl′bē′ĭng) n. The state of being healthy, happy, or prosperous; welfare.

The following caption accompanied the following picture in Wednesday’s world news section of The Oregonian:

Hindu devotees perform a ritual balancing fire pots on their heads and hands on Sitala Puja, dedicated to the Hindu goddess of pox, in Kolkata, India, on Tuesday. Devotees participate in various rituals during this event to make a wish for the well-being of their families.

 

ritual1

 

Because nothing bodes well for the health, happiness success and of your family like having your mother, draped in flammable garments, hold pots of barely contained fire.

 

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Yes indeed, it’s alive. One of many reasons I love looking at my sourdough culture.

 

sourdough

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Department Of You Know It’s Spring…

 

…at our house, when it is time for that most anticipated of rituals, [4] The Harvesting Of The Asparagus. Which, in the case of our garden, is literally the ( as in, one) asparagus.

 

asp

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Department Of WTF Is Wrong With People

There is a new kind of piercing…oh, no, there isn’t. Rather, there is a body site for piercing that is new to my hitherto unsullied eyes.

An employee has been notified to assist you, read the message on the register screen at the self-checkout stand I was using at the grocery store.  When I heard the footsteps presumably belonging to The Employee Who Had Been Notified To Assist Me approached me, I looked up from unloading items from my cart, and it took all of my composure to stile my intuitive gasp.

 

cheek

 

Where another person might have dimples, The Employee Who Had Been Notified To Assist Me had symmetrical piercings. It looked as if someone had pounded  two flathead nails in her cheeks.

The indented skin around each of the clerk’s cheek piercings was reddish, as if infected or inflamed. It . Looked. So. Wrong. And painful. I instinctively/sympathetically clenched my jaw, as if anticipating painful dental work, when I beheld her face.

I can’t figure out how such a piercing would be done, except by going through the upper inside of the mouth. Thus, just looking at her cheeks made me think, festering infection. Which is just what you want running through your mind as you prepare to scan your carton of yogurt.

The average person’s mouth is a bacteria rodeo; the Germy McMouth Germs are fine if they stay put, but if they enter the bloodstream through a cut or wound – which is what a piercing is – yikes. And what would happen if the parotid ducts (the cheek’s saliva glands) were pierced? [5]

Dentists are as a rule opposed to any kind oral piercings, and will happily recite (yes, I asked mine, once) the risks, from deadly serious endocarditis  to the may-not-kill-but-will-seriously-annoy complications including nerve damage and increased saliva/drooling….

Yeah, Old Person Rant Alert© . I am more or less tolerant (even admiring) of certain piercings, depending on where they located. [6]  But this clerk’s self-mutilation choice of body adornment had to be one of the stupidest I’d ever seen.

Ah, but the century is young.

 

 

Yes, please, put me in a position of customer contact and service.

Yes, please, put me in a position of customer contact and service.

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Department Of Pretend I Wrote Something Witty About Tax Day

Such as, Am I the only person who wishes she were paying more in taxes, because that would mean I’m actually making money?

Such as, schmuchas. That’s not witty. Just pathetic.

 

cryboy

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May you delight in the title of your choice;
May your tax burden be a reminder of economic plenitude;
May your body adornments not induce people to vomit in public;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 


*   *   *

 

[1] Many are, to me, amusingly redundant – are people really picky about having the abbreviation vs. the spelled out title (Captain and Cpt.), or are there some women who want their Miss to have punctuation vs. standing alone?

[2] I assume some kind of proof is needed, else people would be pranking one another other by having their frenemies declared dead.

[3] Pardon the redundancy.

[4] And quite reasonable, when compared with balancing firepots on your head.

[5] Can you say, “You’d be drooling from your dimples holes?” I knew you could, boys and girls.

[6] Ears, yay. Other parts…??? And, apparently, cheek or “dimple piercing” has been around for some time, but is not one of the more common body parts to pierce, for several reasons, including the dangers/side effects (read here for a lovely story on a piercing artist who had to remove her own dimple piercings after they…well…yuck).

The Question I’m Not Posing

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Department of Just Sayin’

Last week NPR’s Science Friday program contained a segment with a provocative premise. The segment featured an interview with “game researcher” Katherine Isbister, who makes the case in her book How Games Move Us that “…games can push us into new emotional territory.” According to Isbister, new video game designers are now crafting games that can make players more empathetic, by, e.g., putting players in the shoes of food cart vendors, immigrants seeking asylum, caretakers for someone with a terminal disease….

Isbister talked about how the designers of these “feel-good” video games write scenarios that encourage players to work together to solve problems, and how the designers also “harness character design, game mechanics, and movement to craft rich emotional experiences for players.”

Okay; sure, they do that. As do the designers of other scenarios that might be termed “feel-bad” games.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a video game that might encourage greater empathy in its players. But, listening to the interview, I sensed an elephant in the room that didn’t get its turn to trumpet. The host [1]  blew it by not asking a question/raising an issue that seemed obvious, IMHO.

The question/issue is in the That train runs both ways category.

 

But not like this.

But not like this.

 

Back when the industry was in its infancy, players and proponents of video games reacted with a combination of dismissive scornfulness and furious defensiveness when anyone – from psychologists to Concerned Average Citizens ® – dared to pose the question of whether playing a violent video game [2] might foster aggressive behavior, or at least dull players to the consequences of real life, anti-social behavior.

I remember well the indignant self-righteousness of video game-playing friends, colleagues and family members who were asked to even consider the possibility that violent games might induce violent thoughts:

Games don’t change how you feel. Thousands of kids play shooter video games – I play shooter video games – and we don’t go out and snipe students at the school playground. [3]

True, such a simplistic correlation (violent game = violent acting out) was likely an exaggeration. But now, smiley happy game = smiley happy people? Y’all can’t have it both ways.

If you are now saying video games can promote empathy and craft other “emotional experiences,” you are acknowledging that games can influence a person’s emotions, from which thoughts and actions spring.

 

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I'll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I’ll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

 

 

Violent video games alone likely didn’t cause (name redacted) to go on his rampage. But these games aren’t harmless, either….
My colleagues and I found that typical college students who played violent video games for 20 minutes at a time for three consecutive days showed increasingly higher levels of aggressive behavior each day they played….studies show that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. The effects occurred for males and females of all ages, regardless of what country they lived in.
“Do Violent Video Games Play a Role in Shootings?”
Brad Bushman, Ph.D., psychology professor specializing in “the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of human aggression and violence,” and author of “Why do people deny violent media effects?”

 

Both “good” and “bad” video games use similar techniques for attracting and holding the interest of their players. There is no magic formula for emotional manipulation, which would allow feel-good video games to stimulate positive emotions while preventing feel-bad games from stimulating negative emotions. That’s not how our limbic system works.

 

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Department Of Parent Fail

Has there ever been a task, performance, assignment, an approaching life event, at which you anticipated you’d be superb – or at least competent – and then when it came time to get down to it, you massively sucked?

Last week I wrote about an April Fools’ Day joke I considered playing on a student driver… which got me to remembering that which I am about to confess: I was a lousy “teacher” for my own two student drivers.

Yes, I was an Awful Parent Driving Instructor. It was a role I had actually (as in, positively) anticipated. I thought I would be calm and positive mentor; I thought I would be the one to Set. A. Good. Example. ©

Instead, I was one of the worst things a driving teacher can be – nervous – which totally took me by surprise. My nervousness was evident, [4] and did not promote confidence in my student drivers. But my apprehension was not without cause. In my defense, as I was later to tell both son K and daughter Belle,

I take it personally when my own offspring are trying to kill me.

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

 

 

Fortunately for my children, MH was a (comparatively) calm and patient instructor.

MH and I also thought it worthwhile for our student drivers to have other professional/adult instruction, and forked out for lessons for each of them with a local driving academy…an act ($$$) which made me appreciate growing up in California when I did, when mandatory driver’s education was part of the public high school curriculum.

The driver’s Ed class was included in a class called State Requirements, which most students took during their sophomore year. With its massive/ pervasive car culture, California thought it in the best interests of the state to have students enter the driving world with a modicum of driving experience and education.  Apparently, many other states’ public education systems used to have such a requirement, but some states have dropped or drastically cut back on offering driver’s ed (and some states have none at all), due in large part to the perpetual bugaboo known as Budget Cuts.

A moment of silence please, while We Oldsters recall the days of (what we thought were) adequate school funding. [5]

 

silence

 

 

Thanks to the State Requirements and Driver’s Ed classes, not only did I and my high school peers have a common reference frame of how to drive, we also shared a legendary cultural touchstone: having to sit through don’t-reason-with-’em-just-scare-the-shit-out-of-’em documentaries like Red Asphalt.

Red Asphalt was astutely described by the Los Angeles Times‘ reporter Martin J. Smith as “The Reefer Madness of driving.” I think of it and others like it as a car accident snuff films –  ” horror shows of vehicular ultraviolence,” Smith wrote, “intended to scare the bejabbers out of fresh-faced and obliviously immortal teen drivers.”

“Red Asphalt” — the title says it all — is the flip side of California’s carefree car culture. ‘What you’re about to see is not going to entertain you,’ warns the host…. ‘There are scenes of human suffering and death in stark reality..’
Thus welcomed, you’re off on a joyless ride of grim highway fatality statistics, hectoring commentary about driving safely and bona fide hurl-your-cookies gore….you’re likely to come away with three unforgettable impressions:

* Driving at more than 10 mph is a seriously bad idea.
* Anyone who ever lobbied against seat belts and air bags as standard equipment should be arrested, tried and executed, ideally all in the same day.
* Not even George Romero has come close to replicating the sight and sound of human viscera being hand-scooped off damp pavement and into a plastic bag.

(“Thrills! Nausea! Bad Acting” by Martin J. Smith,  Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2006)

 

hellshighway

 

 

Red Asphalt, and another documentary called Signal 30 , used a combination of real footage taken by firefighters and other first responders and horrendously acted re-creations to depict the deadly consequences of speeding, negligent driving and/or failure to wear your seat belt – AND LEMME TELLYA, THOSE IDIOT DRIVERS ALL DESERVED TO DIE. [6]

The movies’ graphic images included ghastly scenes of mortally wounded and dismembered bodies, the screams of gravely injured and dying drivers and their passengers trapped in multiple vehicle pileups, and – my favorite, from Signal 30 – the footage of the charred remains of a driver who’d tried to race a train to railroad crossing.

I recall that only one student had to make a hasty vomit retreat during my Driver’s Ed class showing of the latter film. [7]

 

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Department Of Trying To Find A Segue From Bloody Bodies to Blue Berries

Aka, The Frozen Blueberries I’m Not Buying

Oh wait – but I am.

I hate it when I lie to y’all.

Last week, for the first time in three years, I bought frozen blueberries from the grocery store. Three to four times a week I have blueberries and raspberries with breakfast, and for the past three years by the end of summer our garage freezer is full to bursting with bags of our homegrown blueberries and raspberries.

However, last season’s hotter-earlier weather [8] was one of several factors which led to our blueberry bushes being a bit skimpy on production. The raspberries were smaller than usual and not as prodigious, but I still have enough in the freezer to last until this summer’s crop is ripe for the picking.

 

berries

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May you recall with fondness (or at least tolerance, if not abject pity)
those who taught you to drive;
May the games you play foster the mental equanimity you seek;
May your berries be bountiful…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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[1] I’m talking to YOU, Ira Flatow.

[2] that is, a game where the objectives include murder/rape/robbery, ala Death Race, Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, etc.

[3] Ah, but at least one person did. I remember reading of about the many disturbing hobbies of Brenda Spencer, the infamous “I don’t like Mondays”‘ elementary school shooter (who also carries the dubious distinction of being one of the few such female shooters), which included, according to interviews with friends and neighbors, being obsessed with playing violent/shooter-type video games.

[4] “That’s a person in the crosswalk – DON’T RUN THEM OVER.”

[5] No footnote here; we’re still doing the moment of silence thing, okay?

[6] Good thing we didn’t have to rely on violent video games back then to provoke such feelings.

[7] Apparently, as per one driver’s ed teacher I spoke with, at least two scared straight barfers was the norm per screening of that film.

[8] Which we didn’t anticipate and forgot to account for when scheduling starting up our automated yard watering system.

The Instinct I’m Not Obeying

1 Comment

Department Of Fun With Student Drivers

Dateline: Tuesday, early a.m., out for my morning walk, waiting to cross a street. As I watched the cross traffic’s stoplight and saw the green-changing-to-yellow light – the pedestrian’s rewarding indicator that it will soon be your turn to cross the street – I noticed a white sedan slowing down much more deliberately than is usual yet still not managing to come to a complete stop until the car’s front bumper was just a tad into the crosswalk.

My light changed to green, I began to cross the street, and saw the telltale red and yellow logo for a local driving academy on the car’s driver’s door.  A student driver?

Excellent.

I looked inside the car: the student in the driver’s seat sat ramrod straight, an expression of nervous anticipation drenching her face. Her white-knuckled hands gripped the steering wheel and her gaze was fixed ahead. Her instructor was looking down at a clipboard he held; neither of them seemed aware of my approaching presence.

My instinctive reaction was to throw myself onto the hood of the car and scare the living pee-pee out of both of them.

How I managed to restrain myself, I’ll never know.

But, I did. Okay?

 

student

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Pity the afore-mentioned scenario happened Tuesday, and not today. Had I gone through with my whimsical notion, ‘twould have made a good – dare I say, even legendary? – April Fool’s Day prank.

 

aparil

 

You gotta love a day that is devoted to honoring and encouraging practical jokes, hoaxes, and pranks both well- and feebly-played. 

The origins of April Fools Day’s are not completely agreed upon by historians, and have been variously attributed. What is agreed upon is that many cultures, going back to the ancient Romans and Egyptians, have set aside days for celebrating jokes and pranksters. Perhaps, as some people have speculated, there’s just something about the day’s timing – the fading of winter and the blooming of spring, which lends itself to the observance of light-hearted frivolity.

 

dipstick

 

 

I can recall only a few of the pranks I’ve played on friends, family and co-workers over the years. The memories are silly but fond, and include:

* Sneaking a package of Hydrox cookies [1] from the family snack drawer and replacing all the cream fillings in the second row of cookies with toothpaste.

* Showing two positive pregnancy test dipsticks to a newbie Planned Parenthood co-worker and telling her I was pregnant with twins.

* Adding just a couple of drops of blue food coloring to the carton of nonfat milk in my parent’s refrigerator.

* Calling my father at his office and convincing him (if only temporarily) that someone had bought a raffle ticket in his name for the local animal shelter’s fundraising event, he’d won the raffle, and could he please let the shelter know when he was coming to claim his prize: an English Mastiff and a week’s supply – a 100 lb. bag of kibble – of the dog’s food.  [2]

 

I don't get it – why would that be funny?

I don’t get it – why would that be funny?

 

 

* Swapping my and my siblings’ framed high school graduation pictures, which hung in my parent’s hallway, with pictures of the members of Led Zeppelin.

* Replacing the hard-boiled egg in my sister’s school lunch bag with a raw egg.

* Cutting my finger, smearing my blood on the scissors in co-worker Roger’s cubicle, leaving a note on my computer saying I had been threatened by Roger and feared for my life, then faking my own death and leaving town.

 

Oops, that’s right – I never got around to implementing the last one.  

As pleasurable as it is to pull off an epic prank, it can be equally fun, IMHO, to have a great prank played on your own self. I hope y’all have a Happy April Fools’ Day…and I hope that I do not regret having made that previous declaration.

 

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Speaking of foolery…

Department Of Uh, Since You’ve Asked, That Would Be, “No”

Last Sunday a FB friend began her post thusly:

Happy Easter, everyone! Can I share what it means to me?

FBF went on to – surprise! – offer her testimony for Jesus, without waiting for an answer to her question.

 

raptor jesus

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Department Of So What Am I Supposed To Use, A Q-Tip?

The following non-instruction was printed on the top of a large, thick, sturdy cardboard shipping container, which was filled with non-delicate items (cans of cat food).

 

sharp

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different

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“My hunter buddy tells me, ‘Don’t worry, when I hunt I use every part of the animal.’
You know who also uses every part of the animal? THE  ANIMAL.”
Deepak Sethi, writer/comedian

 

 

huntsport

 

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Department Of Asking The Same Question, But For Different Reasons

“What is wrong with people?”

That question was posed on the FB page of an outdoor archery range which is located ~ 15 miles from my little house on the prairie home in Hillsboro. I was researching archery practice ranges, and remembered there is one up in the hills that is open to the public, as per a man I’d met at the Washington Park range. The range he recommended caters primarily to bow hunters,[3] or so I guessed after finding its website.

There wasn’t much current info on the website. I followed a link to the range’s Facebook page, where I encountered a post with the above question accompanied by a photo – a photo that caused me to ask the same question, but for very different reasons.

The photo, which you can see here (9-15-15 post) if you are so perverse inclined, was of the decapitated head of an enormous bull elk. The head rested atop a bloodied blanket in the bed of a pickup truck. The post asked for help in returning this pathetic souvenir of macho death lust trophy to the hunter who’d killed the elk:

“These antlers were stolen from a man in his 70’s who has never killed a bull this big with a bow. It was taken from his property….”

These antlers.

No mention of the rest of the animal; no mention of the head to which those antlers were attached – the head which showed the elk’s tongue protruding from its mouth, a mute testimony to the elk’s agonizing death throes; [4]  no mention of concern for the remaining 600 lbs of the animal. A magnificent creature was slaughtered, not for sustenance or in self-defense, but so that some old dude could hang a part of that creature’s body on his wall as a testimony to the fact that he’d previously “never killed a bull this big.”

huntpenis

 

What is wrong with people?

As posed by the FB poster(s), the question speculates as to what kind of person would steal an elderly hunter’s booty. As posed by moiself, the question wonders what kind of person of any age enjoys killing any creature for “sport.”

 

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And One More Thing

If you consider trophy hunting to be a legitimate sport, I obviously disagree with your assessment, although I respect our difference of opinion on this matter.

And by I respect our difference of opinion on this matter I sincerely mean,

Go fuck yourself.

 

 

fair

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May you always respect my difference of opinion, on any matter;
May you have unending patience with apprentice drivers;
May your day be filled with April foolery…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Anyone else remember the precursor (and competitor) to Oreos?

[2] My sisters making muffled barking sounds to approximate background animal shelter noise was a great help in pulling off this prank.

[3] Rather than wimpy anti-hunting target shooters like moiself.

[4] Death by arrow is not instantaneous, not matter how expert the marksman.