“I hope you’ll display it as a reminder of the natural beauty you’re protecting.”
(Note on a card sent, along with a paper Christmas ornament, by The Nature Conservancy, in a three page won’t you contribute? solicitation.)
MH and I give a lot of thought to which charities we support. We donate to organizations we deem effective, whether on a local or global scale, in supporting our “favorite” causes. Over the years we’ve added some causes/organizations and deleted others, the latter action usually taken due to what we see as a misuse of our donations. For example, if we received waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many requests for additional contributions, including being dunned for “annual” dues/membership fees starting at seven months before the end of when our membership expires year, it’s buh-bye to that one.
One such charity was Nature Conservancy. We supported them for years, and then we didn’t. They do some really, really good work – who isn’t for preservation of natural lands and restoration of habitat for endangered species? – but the constant appeals for more, accompanied by trinkets we neither wanted nor asked for, including their latest we’d love to have you rejoin appeal,  remind me of why I decided our conservation $$ would be better spent elsewhere.
An unsolicited holiday ornament wrapped in plastic, made in China. Now, there’s some mighty fine stewardship of the earth’s resources.
* * *
Department Of Every Cart Tells A Story
My computer calendar gave me a pop-up reminder: time to change out the emergency water supply in the garage.  Two days later I was standing in the unusually long line at the store,  bored outta my gourd, checking out the items in other people’s shopping carts. I began a game I’ve played for years: concocting a story about strangers, my fellow shoppers. Their age, jobs, educational and marital status, state and/or country of origin, likes and dislikes – even their political opinions – I make up a profile of them, based on what they have in their shopping carts.
Before long I considered the thirteen items in my own cart – twelve water jugs and a stick of antiperspirant – and wondered what would my story be, to someone playing a similar game? 
This middle-aged, sweaty white woman is very, very thirsty.
* * *
Department Of Things That Give Me Hope Re The Resilience Of The Human Spirit
The good folks who gave us that most refined parlor game, Cards Against Humanity, have now given us yet another reason to go on living: they dug a really, really big hole, into which money was thrown. Check it out at https://www.holidayhole.com/
* * *
Department Of Shoot Me Now And Get It Over With
Forget water boarding – if you ever want to see me with my spirit totally broken,  force me to sit through a Singing Christmas Tree ® performance.
And yes, I have been to such a thing. Twice, when I was young. Whenever I had to picture the concept of hell (a concept adults seemed to believe in, or at least find useful, but which I thought was rubbish), I flashed back to those horrifically perky, Lawrence-Welk-on-Quaaludes-and-acid, holiday “concerts.”
* * *
Department Of And Then There’s That
Hoping for the best the best doesn’t exclude ignoring reality.
Specifically, I refer to my pondering (read: dreading) what will happen after January 20, 2017. Many Democrats and select Republican non-trolls have been making noises re working together with a PuJu  administration on what might be considered nonpartisan, everybody-wants-this-done issues.
Now, I’ll be one of the first to commend the actions of everyone involved in finding ways to, say, fix our crumbling bridges/update our infrastructure and reform/simplify our tax code, etc. Still, any such accomplishments will not erase the fact that we’ll have a boorish, narcissistic, knowledge-incurious, unrepentant racist and misogynist as head of state.
* * *
We have reached the seventh circle of the hell I don’t even believe in.
I was listening to a podcast of a Freakonomics radio show, the 11-16-16 episode, How To Make A Bad Decision. The hosts and guests were discussing a research paper, Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy. The paper’s authors analyzed decision-making within three different professions – baseball umpires, loan officers, and asylum judges – to see whether those professionals were likely to fall prey to the gambler’s fallacy. 
The podcast included an interview with professional baseball umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who talked about the application of technologies such as the PITCHf/x system  and instant replays of close plays as ways of checking an umpire’s calls. Not all umpires are enamored with the technologies and the resultant second-guessing/undermining of their authority, but Wendelstedt was a supporter:
“… these pitch systems got into place, it’s been a great educational tool for us….it really helps us become a better-quality product for the game of baseball.
The world is indeed ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.
I completely lost interest in the rest of the podcast after hearing that quote. I beg of all sentient beings: Never, ever, refer to yourself, or any other human being, as a product.
Unless in your case the human being thing is just an act and you actually happen to be a can of Cheezey-whiz.
* * *
The Toes I’m Not Spreading
Balance; calm; equanimity, toe envy….
Wait a sec. Of all the elements one might pursue or experience in a yoga class, envy of any kind – well, it’s just not yoga.
Still, there I am, in my yoga class, glancing around to see my fellow yogis seemingly effortlessly widen their lithe, long, supple little piggies when the instructors suggests we spread our toes to help us balance in tree pose. Meanwhile, my puny, span-challenged podiatric digits spasm with the effort.
Stub toes  is just one of the milder epithets which have been applied to my toes over the years. Some folks have refrained from outright name-calling, but still have obviously noticed my phalange deficiencies. One afternoon in high school, the dance teacher substituted for our field hockey coach (who was called away for some emergency) during warm-ups. Dance Teacher decided to teach us hockey ladies some exercises which, she said, would increase our flexibility. DT asked us to remove our shoes and socks, stand barefoot on the gym floor, feet approximately 18 inches apart…
“Now, everyone spread your toes…” DT patrolled the rows of smirking field hockey players (we needed stamina, not flexibility, so why weren’t we doing our warm-up laps?), checking everyone’s deportment, berating this girl’s posture and that girl’s stance. She came to me, looked downward, and scowled.
“Widen your toes!” DT insisted. She then pointed to the feet of the girl standing beside me, as if to inspire me, for that girl’s lengthy, prehensile toes looked as if they would enable her to hang upside down from a tree branch.
“I am,” I replied. “This is as wide as they go.”
DT bent over, reached her hand down toward my foot, and made a clucking noise of patronizing sympathy. “I see,“ she sighed, and moved on down the line.
Flash forward to a couple of years later: I am in an athletic footware store, to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I am a regular customer of the store and know what size I wear, but the store’s new (to me) salesperson insists I remove my shoes and socks and step on the store’s shoe size measurer-thingamawhoowhooy-gadget. 
“Wow,” he gasps, as I comply with his request, “your toes are really short!” He crouches for closer inspection; I resist the urge to suddenly feign a spasm and kick him in the teeth.
“You know,” he looks up at me earnestly, “if your toes were normally proportioned to your feet, your shoe size would be one or even two sizes larger.”
Guess which salesman didn’t get that commission?
BTW – I rock at tree pose. Stub toes and all.
* * *
May you rock at your balance poses;
May your cart tell a noteworthy story;
May you dig a really big hole for any reason you chose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 What could their financial/donations manager possibly be thinking? “Sure, they left us five years ago, but this paper ornament will bring them back!”
 Every six months I buy 12-one gallon jugs of water, swap them out with the supply already in the garage, and use the older supply for watering plants, etc.
 It’s the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend; these people are already out of leftovers?
 Whom am I kidding – like anyone else would be playing that game, or looking up or around or anywhere but down, for that matter. Everyone else in my line, and in all the adjacent lines (Yep, I checked) was looking down at their cellphone…waiting for it to hatch a rare three-toed pygmy sloth dragon, or something equally significant, judging from the rapt expression on their face.
 If you did desire such a thing, that would make you a miserable little shit, wouldn’t it?
 aka Putin Junior, as I cannot bear to type his (allegedly real) name.
 The Gambler’s Fallacy is an erroneous understanding of probability – the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability, i.e., rolling 10 even dice in a row, become higher or lower as the process is repeated.
 A pitch tracking system which tracks the velocity, movement, release point, spin, and pitch location for every pitch thrown in a baseball game.
 Thanks, Mom!
 There must be a name for that device.