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  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  results show that no one pronounces the first r, anyways.
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My Son Went To Iceland And All I Got Was This Rotting Shark
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.
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,  he’d have to try it.
I advised K that, like the ferret-sized pickled anchovy I had to sample  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,  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. 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!”  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).
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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  – 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?
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  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? 
And can you even imagine what kind of person would apply for a Pee Pee Protector Patrol position?
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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!
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 You know, the color that looks like a spilled raspberry smoothie. Just read on; you’ll get it.
 Which consisted of listening to radio and TV announcers and eavesdropping on people riding public transportation.
 The least offensive description of which I’ve come across is odorifously reminiscent of festering urine.
 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.
 She’s a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound.
 a term Belle claimed to “object to” yet nonetheless used: “It’s all guys, and they fit the definition of man-sluts.”
 Was it, perhaps, the party roof jumper, we wondered?
 Unfortunately, this is more common than you might think.
 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.”
 I bet in two months there’ll be an app for that!
Apr 25, 2016 @ 09:50:30
FWIW, reading about the chemistry building, I remembered there were women’s restrooms (I’m too old for gender neutral) on only two of four (or five? I think four) floors (and this was the building that housed the engineering/physics/chemistry library, as well as all the chemistry labs, classrooms, and offices). I would have cried tears of joy to have restrooms on my lab floors (which was usually NOT the case). I, ahem, may have occasionally used the men’s out of dire necessity.
Apr 25, 2016 @ 10:03:00
I think it’s some kind of rite of passage, when a female realizes there is no magic to those signs on the restroom doors and the women’s room is either occupied or out of order and dammit, when you gotta go, you gotta go. But she shortage of little girls’ rooms on campuses is a (hopefully) relic of another time. I’d heard similar things about certain buildings in old-time colleges (“we don’t need a ladies’ room in the engineering dept. because we don’t have lady engineers”). BTW, I always make it a point to use the gender neutral loo when I’m visiting the UPS campus.
The Inspiration I’m Not Becoming | The Blog I'm Not Writing
Apr 29, 2016 @ 00:04:37