‘Tis The Season
MH and I are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner tonight. I was going to use a certain Adult Beverage ® as part of the glaze for the salmon I’ll be roasting; however, one of our guests has celiac disease and I wanted to make sure that by doing so I wouldn’t be poisoning him. I started to Google “can celiacs have…” and before I typed the e in have, the third choice that came up was my question: can celiacs have whiskey. 
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About those snakes….
The first time I encountered the St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland legend was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (read: the Santa Ana neighborhood of my grade school years). One Sunday afternoon in mid-March, a neighbor boy showed me the Sunday School pamphlet he’d brought home from his Catholic church. When I laughed derisively and pooh-poohed the pamphlet – which presented the legend as fact – my friend retorted with the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland, and there are snakes in every other country on earth…So how did that happen, Miss Non-Catholic smartypants? How did that happen – prove it, huh? Huh? Huh?
My neighbor/friend looked for any opportunity to witness his family’s “one true faith” (Catholicism) to the ultimately doomed moiself, whose family attended a Lutheran church. He was an otherwise very nice boy (his proselytizing phase lasted only a few months in grade school), with whom I enjoyed playing games of cards and tag and turning our bicycles upside down and pretending their wheels were steamboat paddle-wheels. Also, we enjoyed having spirited discussion of adult issues, like politics (hey, it was the 60s) and religion.
When it came to the “miracles” of that carpetbagging harasser of pagans and druids St. P, I immediately and instinctively understood that my friend had his head up his ass  – I mean of course, I knew that my friend was mistaken in claiming that I was the one who had to prove that St. Patrick had not done something – the burden of proof weighs upon the person making an assertion. But I was all of seven or eight; concepts like epistemological fallacy did not just roll off my tongue…whereas concepts like stupid dumb-ass were familiar and handy, and I probably applied one or two of them to my friend and/or his argument.
Wearer of Big Girl Pants® that I now am, I know that there are no snakes presently living in Ireland because, herpetologists and their pets aside, there have never been any snakes living in Ireland. Because: Science. As in latitude, and weather.
There is no evidence of snakes in Ireland’s fossil record. Snakes couldn’t get to the island nation because the climate wasn’t (and isn’t) favorable for them to migrate and then thrive there. 
Faith and begorrah, but England ’tis an island, and it has snakes! Yes, but only three species, and snakes only slithered over to England in relatively recent geologic time – about 6,500 years ago.
As we all remember from 2nd grade science class (or Sesame Street), over time, all plants and animals will migrate through and/or colonize suitable habitats. Cold-blooded reptiles need heat from their environment to survive, and The Ice Age made the European islands incompatible with reptile migration until ~ 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating. The glacial retreat gradually exposed a land bridge between Europe and the island of Britain, and also between the isles of Britain and Ireland. Melting glaciers inundated Ireland’s land bridge ~ 8,500 years ago, but the land bridge between Europe and Britain’s persisted another 2,000 years after that. Thus; Europe’s intrepid snakes had more time to heed the reptile version of Westward, ho!
“Other reptiles didn’t make it either, except for one: the common or viviparous lizard. Ireland’s only native reptile, the species must have arrived within the last 10,000 years.  So unless St. Patrick couldn’t tell a snake from a lizard, where does the legend come from?
Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in Judeo-Christian beliefs—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace.
The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick’s dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence.”
(“Snakeless in Ireland: Blame Ice Age, Not St. Patrick,” National Geographic News)
“Over the centuries a number of legends have grown about St. Patrick, e.g., he drove the snakes from Ireland and used a three-leaf clover to teach about the Holy Trinity. These popular legends have endeared the saintly man to the Irish. The monks who wrote such dramatized stories about St. Patrick “were guided by their knowledge of what popular taste demanded.”
(“Knowing St. Patrick,” Our Sunday Visitor, A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper)
Although there were never any snakes for St. Patrick to “drive out” of Ireland, the dominant church and religious authorities never had a problem crediting a man they would go on to canonize as St. Patrick with a “miracle” that never occurred.
Good thing stuff like that never happens today!
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Department Of More Petty Things About Moiself
I curse at ants  before I crush them with my bare fingers.
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Department Of The Simple Pleasures Of Spring
My family lived in Southern California during my childhood, and one of our favorite camping destinations was the relatively nearby  Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At a very young age I came to have an appreciation for the desert other school kids found difficult to fathom (“What’s the big deal? It’s hot, it’s a desert – there’s nothing there!”). Those lucky friends who were invited along on those camping trips became converts to desert appreciation, if not upon arrival then soon thereafter, usually during one of our hikes to the Palm Canyon.
My favorite time of the year to go to the desert was during spring break, which usually coincided with the brief but spectacular desert wildflower bloom. This year, I almost thought about flying down spur-of-the-moment, but even if I did so I probably wouldn’t be able to get near the place: wildflower and desert lovers and sightseers have descended en masse to witness a “super bloom” – Anza-Borrego’s most spectacular in over 20 years.
A super bloom is a user-friendly term to describe what is, essentially, a wildflower KA-BOOM. (I’m sure there is some official botanical term to describe the phenomenon).
Southern California deserts, after experiencing one of the worst droughts in the area’s history, are experiencing the wildflower show due to a variety of reasons, including the due to recent heavy and steady rains. Anza-Borrego, an area which usually gets only 5 inches of precipitation per year, has had 7 inches of rain in the past 8 months.
As ephemeral as a seemingly rational policy statement from a #45  cabinet member, the super blooms will likely last no more than a week. Enjoy it while/if you can.
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Department Of The Lady Or The Tiger Or
The Door To Yet Yet Another Bullshit Misogynist Fairytale
A book of fables containing The Lady Or The Tiger was presented to me by my 4th grade teacher, as a reward for finishing first in a reading contest.  TLOTT was the only story I remembered from the book. I thought the story was of ancient origin, and that thought was reinforced when I encountered TLOTT again, in a 5th or 6th grade English class. The story was so…primitive…it had to have come from The Ancients. Only later did I find out it was a (relatively) contemporary short story, published in 1882.
In case you’re not familiar with the plot, it involves a nasty king, his daughter (the princess), and her suitor. A lower-class (i.e. non-royal) subject falls in love with the king’s daughter and attempts to court her. The king is offended by this, and sentences the man to a devious punishment: he will be taken to an arena where he will be forced to choose between two doors behind one door is a beautiful lady; behind the other, a hungry tiger. If the man chooses the door with a lady behind it, he will have to marry her, and if he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he will be mauled to death.
The princess schemes within the court to find out which door has the lady behind it. She doesn’t want her suitor to have to marry someone else, but she loves him and doesn’t want him to die. At the auspicious moment, she signals him to choose a door….but the story ends as the man opens the door, and readers are left to ponder what choice she led him to make.
TLOTT was presented the ultimate allegory of a tough decision, but my grade school click! radar (aka the feminist eureka moment) came to the fore. Excuse me, but “The ultimate allegory of a difficult decision?” You people (read: adults, teachers) gotta be joking. To even make the argument that there could be another choice, other than let him choose the other woman and live…
I didn’t think in WTF speak back then. Nevertheless, I argued strenuously that there should be no suspense as to what happened – she loved him! She directed him toward the lady, not the tiger. He would live…the real suspense would be how the princess and her suitor could find another way to be together, away from her asshole father.
My various teachers pointed out what they said were the flaws in my argument, with what was, at the time, totally acceptable, totally sexist, “reasoning.” Looking back, their analysis was astonishing for its matter-of-fact assumptions of female pettiness: a woman’s sole or ultimate motivation must be love and security; women are jealous of other women; she’d rather see him dead than with another woman – who by definition must be her rival, because women can’t be friends with other women; if-I-can’t-have-him-nobody-else-can ….
TLOTT, besides being a shitty story, sparked one of the first of what would be an ongoing line of feminist inquiries and realizations: This is how the world is supposed to view women? This is what women are supposed to think about themselves?
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Department Of But Why Wouldn’t I Believe Them – Do They Have A Reputation For Telling Lies and/or Spreading Misinformation?
(And If So, Why Aren’t They working For The Current Occupant Of The White House?)
Subject line in an email caught in my spam filter:
You won’t believe these three toilet seats.
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May you believe the toilet seats that must be believed;
May you never be too young or too old to call out fairy-tale horseshit;
May the luck of the Irish be better for you than it has been for the Irish;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 According to the NIH’s Celiac Awareness Campaign, the answer is yes, for whiskey or any distilled beverage, even those derived from wheat, as the distillation process removes the gluten proteins.
 I wonder if he saw any snakes there?
 Other islands that don’t have (native, non-introduced by human) snakes include New Zealand, Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica.
 Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
 Ants that get inside the house. Free range ants, I have no problem with ’em.
 From our home in Santa Ana it was a 2 ½ hour drive – which for Southern Californians, is just around the block.
 Aka The Cheetos Hitler. I try not to say his name in my house, unless quoting someone with a stronger stomach.
 Looking back, I hate to think that I was given that story to read as a reward of any kind.