Department Of Revenge Fantasies I Hope I Can Refrain From Enacting
Previously, moiself has written in this space about The Little Drug House On The Prairie ® the drug and alcohol halfway house which moved in next door last autumn. I wish only good things for the revolving cast  of recovering addicts in their quest to maintain their sobriety and become the proverbial Productive Members of Society.  However, it is a continual burr under my saddle to note – read: smell – that most if not all of the occupants of the so-called “drug-free” house are allowed to maintain and practice their addiction to the drug nicotine via the delivery system of smoking cigarettes, which kills more people than alcohol, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.
The house residents are forbidden from lighting up indoors (fire regulations) or on their front porch or front yard (house rules). Thus, first thing in the morning before they leave the house and then again in the late afternoon when the residents return to the house,  and after that until bedtime/curfew time,  they leave skidmarks heading out to the house’s back porch/deck to light up their toxic torches cigarettes.
The house’s backyard deck is on the side of the property next to the fence which separates their backyard from ours. Like most smokers, the house’s residents seemingly don’t know/care that their effluence does not remain hovering around those who produce it, but instead migrates to… Other People.  We don’t use our backyard anymore – gone are the much-cherished, leisurely summer dinners on our back patio with friends and family, because of the fumes wafting into our yard. Their smoke even drifts into our house if, as we are wont to do, we open our back porch door first thing in the morning in a futile attempt to get some “fresh” air.
Yesterday morning ~ 7 am, I went outside to pick our raspberries, which grow along the afore-mentioned fence. My picking bowl was only half full before I was chased inside by the smoke. Earlier in the week around the same time I had the back door open and was doing some morning stretches on the family room floor and suddenly…why does my house have that dreadful, rancid tobacco smell when THERE ARE NO SMOKERS LIVING IN MY HOME?!?!?!!
I told MH that I am very tempted to take up a collection of urine-soaked clay pellets from the various litter boxes  in our house, add a batch of particularly odiferous cat poop,  and let the collection “ferment” overnight. The next evening, when our neighbors begin their smoke-a-thon, I’ll fling the collection over the fence onto their back porch, with a note explaining that since they have been so generous with sharing their own particular, resident-specific aromas, I’d like to return the favor.
Then perhaps you know of another Klingon proverb about how bags of rancid cat shit are best served with an overhand fling….
* * *
Department Of Sorry About That
Sometimes, when moiself is frustrated, the Really Mean Thoughts ® take over. Compassion is a daily struggle. I have found that taking an Annette Funicello/Beach Party movie break helps.
What does it mean, when a college roommate’s ex-boyfriend – someone you haven’t seen or thought of in years – makes a cameo appearance in one of your dreams? Was my subconscious using him as a symbol of some other person, or object or allegory, or was the image created by a random firing of neurons?
* * *
Department Of Mere Words Cannot Describe How Little
This Local Newspaper Headline This Means To Me
Department Of Things That Should Be A Thing, But Aren’t Yet
“You should put that on your iceberg.”
I refer to the above line – a survival piece of advice given by the “amputee stoner” character Jane, to the title character of The Miseducation of Cameron Post – which is one of the best movies of 2018, if I do say so moiself (and I just did).
* * *
May you enjoy your revenge fantasies without enacting them; May you have the opportunity to take an Annette Funicello/Beach Party movie break; May mere words be unable to describe that which will rock your city this weekend; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 The residents stay for a limited period of time; new are added when others “graduate” from the program.
 Even as we in the ‘hood curse the owners of the rehab, whose tactics of deceit and intimidation in establishing their business here were…regrettable, to say the least.
 The residents are mostly gone during the weekday, as they are required to go to either jobs/and or schools and/or various training and educational and rehab functions.
 Which seems to vary, but I’d guess is around 10 pm.
 And I have not asked them to move their smoking activity to another side of the property, because unless their house rules outlaw smoking entirely, they can only smoke in their backyard, and I would not feel “right” about having moved the problem to the rehab house’s two other neighbors – the elderly widow who babysits her grandchildren who play in her backyard, and the retired couple who seemingly spend all day with their grandchildren and other relatives in their backyard.
 Which rarely smell, even though we have four litter boxes, as we keep them clean and scoop each box at least twice daily.
 K’s cat, which is confined to the room he occupies, has some “intestinal issues” which cause her to occasionally produce feces that, aroma-wise, could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon.
 Y’all understand now why I often head for the coast for the weekend? There’s just too much excitement for me to stay in town.
There is something different for me this year, about this time of the year – this particular end of August. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I realized that Belle’s graduation from college in May means that for the first time in twenty years, there is no Back to School ® component to my life. The end of summer/resumption of school, the preparation and routine and rhythm of such, it was not so all-encompassing – for both my personal and the family’s schedules – when the kids were in college. Still, it was…there. 
I’ve noticed how “out of it” I’ve sometimes felt, during the past four years, with regards to schedules of other families – including even the approaching of holidays – by not having at least one child with a public school schedule. There was no compelling reason for me to keep track of certain things, and so I didn’t…and then I found myself frequently (and sometimes sheepishly) surprised by the mundane.
Why is there less traffic these past couple of morning? Why are there so many kids wandering around in the early afternoon…oh..yeah….it’s probably a teacher conference/grading/”staff development day” off for the schools….”
Friends would ask MH and I what we were doing for, say, Spring Break or the President’s Day holiday weekend, and we’d be caught by the question...uh, just when is spring break this year? Did we miss it?
And what’s with all the aisles of boxes of crayons and notebooks and Transformers backpacks front and center at Fred Meyer stores – it’s only August!?Ahem, you mean, it’s already the end of August, and school starts the day after Labor Day, remember?
* * *
Department of Yet Another Podcast Promo
Arguably my favorite podcast of the past week was the Hidden Brain episode Originals, in which the show’s host, NPR’s social scientist correspondent host Shankar Vedantam interviewed Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant. Grant’s book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, “investigates who comes up with great ideas, how, and what we can do to have more of them.”
In the latter portion of the interview the host asked Grant about “who gets the chance to be original and how parents can foster this quality in their kids.” This led to a brief discussion between host and guest about a parenting-style dichotomy which has always fascinated moiself: those who parent by emphasizing values-based advice vs. those who instill rules-based behavior.
Vedantam: Why is it that rules-based behavior doesn’t produce the same thing as values-based advice?
Grant: When you focus on rules in the family a lot of times kids learn to follow it, which means accepting the status quo and essentially becoming an excellent sheep. When you go to values, kids actually have to think for themselves.
Grant admitted that as a parent it’s easy to find yourself barking, “new rule” every time your children misbehave, when instead you should be talking about the value behind the rule. When asked for an example, he provided a scenario familiar to most families:
We’re sitting at dinner, and one of our family values is respect, so we (the parents) like for them (the children) not to get up from the dinner table until every is done eating. And they start to get up and it’s, “No, you must sit in your seat.” And then I realize what I need to say is why this is important to us. It’s not about having the rule, it’s about – look, the reason we all like to sit at our seats is we like to have a family meal and it’s a great way to show respect for each other.
And who wouldn’t want to extend such heart-warming family moments?
K and Belle, MH’s and my two children, are young adults now. The vast majority of our “active parenting” opportunities, re trying to influence their developing values and behavior, are in the past. Back when MH and I were doing the heavy lifting in that department, we didn’t didn’t have a name for it – i.e., the particular label the differing parenting styles was given in the podcast – but I’m fairly certain MH and I followed the values-based advice model. As per author/educator/philanthropist Dale McGowan’s excellent series of books, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, we thought that teaching our children (and, hopefully, modeling for them) values-based advice seemed the best way to enable their moral, emotional and intellectual development based on reason, vs. unquestioning acquiescence to authority. 
In the past few days, since listening to that podcast, I’ve found moiself thinking back to my own upbringing, and in particular, where my parents would have fallen on the values-based advice vs. rules-based behavior spectrum. I think my parents, like most of their peers, employed (deliberately and sometimes unintentionally) a combination of the two styles. However, my memories  reinforce my notion that, given many factors, including my parents’ generation, their adherence to religious doctrine, their own respective upbringings and temperaments – the latter which included an almost total lack of introspection and valuing consideration of “big” and/or existential questions of Life ® – their parenting methods tilted most heavily to the rules-based behavior end of the scale.
* * *
Department Of Happy To Have Slept Through It, Thank You Very Much
An earthquake and aftershock have been reported off the coast of south-central Oregon. The United States Geological Survey says an initial quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 struck just after 1:30 a.m., more than 170 miles (264 kilometers) west of Coos Bay, about 220 miles southwest of Portland. Robert Sanders of the USGS says there is no tsunami threat associated with the quake. He says people as far away as Portland reported feeling the temblor. (8-22-18 Oregon Public Broadcasting)
* * *
Department Of More Musings Sparked By Podcast Listening Sub-Department Of Morning Walks Are Time For Reflection… Or Sometimes Just Snickering
Dateline: yesterday, 7 am. Listening to a Freakonomics podcast, Two (Totally Opposite) Ways To Save The Planet (episode 346) , in which the host (Stephen Dubner) interviews Charles Mann, a journalist who “…writes big books about the history of science.” Mann speaks about the decades-old debate between environmentalists (“we’re doomed if we don’t drastically reduce consumption”) and technologists (“human ingenuity can solve just about any problem”). Mann titled his latest book The Wizard and the Prophet, which are his embodiments of those two respective worldviews. The book’s subtitle is Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World.
It was a misty morning at the coast. My mind was wandering as I walked on the pathway heading toward Nehalem Bay State Park; I was thinking more of blackberry-picking than the “prophets vs. wizards” presentation coming through my earbuds,  and wasn’t paying the closest of attention to Mann’s comments about “the prophet” of his book, WilliamVogt, “the progenitor of the modern environmental movement,” and Vogt’s influential (in 1948) but now largely forgotten book, The Road to Survival:
MANN: “Much of (The Road to Survival) is a passionate screed for population control, sometimes written in language that makes you cringe….”
DUBNER: “So when you say that his discussion about population growth makes you cringe, was it from a classist perspective…or racist — how would you describe it?”
MANN: “… it’s hard to avoid noticing that although he was very, very hard on rich, white people being wasteful and destructive and so forth…the brunt of the population-reduction stuff he’s talking about are on poor, brown people…And he sometimes described them in language that is really kind of appalling — he talks about Indians breeding with the irresponsibility of codfish….”
That certainly got my attention. Codfish – any cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate, for that matter – have never come to my mind as exemplars of anything other than being codfish., and certainly not as examples of human traits, particularly those related to responsibility.
Are not codfish merely yet profoundly the gold standard for being codfish? And why shouldn’t codfish breed prolifically? Considering that they are a highly-preyed-upon species, it would be irresponsible of them not to breed like…codfish.
It’s none of your business what we’re doing. Besides, it’s not like we can get a room.
I thought about this for a lot longer than perhaps I should have. Then I thought about my thinking about it: is this an example of my propensities for both being easily amused (read: distracted) and easily stimulated to ponder the existential questions of life? And what would a codfish think of such drawn out deliberations – would she consider them to be a responsible use of my intellect? Or would she use me as an exemplar to her fellow codfish of how warm-blooded, land-going bipedal vertebrates waste valuable mental energy that could be used to devise strategies to convince people to eat less codfish?
* * *
May you rarely cast metaphors of irresponsibility upon species other than your own; May you find ways to value the routines you may one day forget to miss; May you treasure those incidents you are Happy To Have Slept Through; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 Sure, we had rules, but it was never, “Because this is a family rule, that’s why, and we are the parents/authority and you therefore must respect us and obey our rules.” We explained the “whys” behind the “rules” – the values behind the guidelines.
 Which include years of fruitless attempts to get them to engage in healthy discussions (or so I viewed them, as an optimistic if not yet out-of-the-closet freethinker teenager and young adult) about the basis for living ethically in this world.
 The prophet (environmentalist) sounds the alarm and wants us to reduce consumption, population growth, and habitat destruction. The wizard (technologist) pushes for us to keep going and invent/use even more, believing that history shows us that technology will solve our problems.
I refer to what one friend has described as “that thing you do with money.”
Moiself has previously, in this space, mentioned doing that thing, which is “fixing” paper currency in order to reflect the way it should be – the way our money was, before amidst the 1950s Here Come the Commies! scare, when a minister talked President Eisenhower into adding In God We Trust to the back of the USA’s various dollar bills.
Wednesday, after receiving change from a purchase, I whipped out a pen and began my usual currency corrective.
Only this time, for reasons that still eludes me, I turned the bill over and added a couple of facial hair adornments to our Boy George. Doing so made me feel forty years younger, I swear.
* * *
Department Of What Will It Take?
Stronger than the compassion I feel for the person who accidentally bumps his head into a brick wall is my WTF ?!?!?! mystification regarding, and contempt for, those who continues to beat their heads against a wall and then complain about having a concussion.
“I don’t get it, why does this keep hurting?”
Again, and again, and again. Folks, remaining in an organization which has committed atrocities and crimes, even if you voice your disapproval and intend to work for reform “from the inside the tent,” is acquiescing to – if not abetting – those very offenses.
This time, the grand jury report hails from Pennsylvania. The report, resulting from over two years of investigation and compilation, reinforces the impression that the most sophisticated crime syndicate could take a page from the Roman Catholic Church’s playbook when it comes to systematic, systemic and strategic cover-ups of felony behavior.
Drug lords paying off district attorneys and cops pales in comparison to the church’s:
Yesterday morning I was listening to (the NPR radio show) Here & Now ‘s interview with James Faluszczak, a former Catholic priest. Faluszczak was himself molested by a priest and was one of the many victims – out of an estimated one thousandin Pennsylvania– who testified to the grand jury about the abuse.
Near the end of the interview, the Here & Now host wondered aloud if Faluszczak still identifies with his church. Alone in my car, I yelled out the answer I hoped to hear from any sane and sentient being: an indignant, FUCK NO. Instead, I listened in sorrowful – if unsurprised – disgust to the following exchange:
Host: “Are you still a Catholic?”
Faluszczak: “I have a sense that God has a relationship with me, that I have a relationship with Christ, and that is mediated through ritual, and so the rituals of the church are still important to me….
Bingo. This is why such abuse happens and even flourishes: the fact that there are too many people who do not remove their allegiance from that which is corrupt. Such abuse will continue to happen, in one form of another, if people have the credulity to embrace superstition and mythology and allow reality to be “mediated” in any way, but especially “through ritual.”
Mr. Faluszczak….dude. I’m sorry for what happened to you, and thanks for testifying to the investigation.  I’ve no doubt think you are a force for good, but by continuing to stay in the church/identify as a Catholic you are in fact an enabler of the very evil you claim to be disgusted by.
You say you “sense” you have a relationship with this Christ, who, according to your Catholic/Christian theology, is your “savior.” Your god/savior did nothing to save – let me pick just one example from the thousands upon thousands of cases worldwide  – a seven year old girl from the physical and emotional brutality of having one of your god’s mediators rape her while she was hospitalized for a tonsillectomy. 
Such a deity, if it actually existed, deserves to be spat upon instead of having “a relationship with.”
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” (Voltaire)
* * *
Department Of There’s More Than One Way To Abuse A Child
* * *
A great book, as well as a good segue to a slightly less icky topic.
* * *
Department Of In God(s) You May Not Trust, But Believe Your Nose
If, when you get dressed in the morning to go for a walk, you sense that your daughter’s otherwise adorable Bengal kitty – which you are caring for while your daughter is doing a six-month post-college internship in a wildlife sanctuary in Arkansas – has peed in your basket of exercise socks, ditch the incredulity, for that is indeed what has happened.
What a cute object. I think I’ll piss on it.
* * *
May you have the courage not abet the abominable; May you neither believe absurdities nor commit atrocities; May you trust your nose, especially when putting on your socks; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Which, I am told, is going to happen to me any minute now.
 And moiself is not the only god-free person who does this. It is an easy form of activism, meant to provoke thought on the issue (or knotted knickers for the Christian Fundies – I’ll settle for either).
 And for attempting,as he did for decades, to report his abuse, to his superiors and then fellow priests, only to have his testimony – SURPRISE! – totally ignored. He of course should have gone directly to the police….
 There are so many they merit their own Wikipidia page, which lists the scandals per country.
 “The depravity of the abuse…I can’t even begin to describe,” Faluszczk said during the interview, when he was asked if the revelations shocked him.
It was a podcast that sent me back to the book, this time. By the book I mean the book I should have finished reading several ( as in, almost ten ) years ago. Do you know what I mean?
Of course you don’t. Because I am the only person on this planet who does what I am about to describe.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to the attention of the wider world in an extraordinary way. In 2004 a Muslim fanatic, after shooting the filmmaker Theo van Gogh dead on an Amsterdam street, pinned a letter to Mr. van Gogh’s chest with a knife. Addressed to Ms. Hirsi Ali, the letter called for holy war against the West and, more specifically, for her death. A Somali by birth and a recently elected member of the Dutch Parliament, Ms. Hirsi Ali had waged a personal crusade to improve the lot of Muslim women. Her warnings about the dangers posed to the Netherlands by unassimilated Muslims made her Public Enemy No. 1 for Muslim extremists…. The circuitous, violence-filled path that led Ms. Hirsi Ali from Somalia to the Netherlands is the subject of “Infidel,” her brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir….. Ms. Hirsi Ali describes a journey “from the world of faith to the world of reason,” a long, often bitter struggle to come to terms with her religion and the clan-based traditional society that defined her world and that of millions of Muslims all over.
I have had the Infidel book for…I don’t know how long.  And I have started reading it….I don’t know many times. Last weekend, as I have done before (and before and before and before), I found the book in my stash pile, started over (it had been at least a year since my last attempt), then, once again, set it aside. I haven’t been able to read past the chapter in which the author – using an almost journalistic, dispassionate prose style I’ve come to recognize as being common to PTSD survivors – describes her horrific torture and mutilation at that age 5, when she (and her younger sister) underwent the barbaric procedure of FGM or female genital mutilation (which was, and in some cases still us, euphemistically and mistakenly referred to, by the countries and cultures and religions that practiced and/or mandated it, as “female circumcision”  ).
Ms. Hirsi Ali’s bravery seemingly knows few bounds; she is a passionate and articulate activist for feminism, human rights, free speech and freedom from religion, despite being under constant fatwas or death threats from Muslim extremists (ala another ex-Muslim writer, Salman Rushdie, who lived for years in virtual exile).  I’ve read/heard excerpts of Hirsi Ali’s other works and speeches; I know she is respected in the free speech and Freethinker communities, and I feel that, in order to respect her work, I need to read her influential memoir in its entirety….
And yet I just can’t get past her recounting of the misogynistic, life-negating, barbarism, which – as is the norm in FGM – was arranged and abetted by trusted family members. I know she survives her ordeal and eventually escapes from other self -negating circumstances (including an arranged marriage)…but the FGM was done to her when she was only five years old, and moiself, perhaps immaturely but self-protectively, wonders how much more deprivation, ignorance and brutality is going to be served up until I can get to the Triumph-Over-Adversity ® chapters?
What am I, some kind of intellectual coward?
As a long-time feminist activist with a background in reproductive health care, I am no stranger to the horrific reality of FGM. Still, it affects me in ways that reading about other brutalities (e.g. war; serial murders) do not, possibly in part for the personal/worldwide/political ramifications of such a primitive, atrocious, spirit-crushing, female-hating ritual.
I’m wondering if others have had the same problem, when it comes to reading about gruesome trauma? There have been other books I’ve read, usually memoir other non-fiction, where I have been unable to get past certain passages, then felt it was somehow disrespecting the integrity of the work as a whole to continue reading the book via skipping problematic passages or chapters, so I set the books aside for a few months…but eventually tackled them again and was able to finish. But, in this case, I’m talkin’ yearsof avoidance.
And now, once again, the Serious Book ® – which I’ve come to view as a literary equivalent to cleaning behind the refrigerator, taking cod liver oil, and memorizing the capital cities of all fifty states (i.e., daunting tasks that are supposed to be “good for me”) sits on my nightstand, atop myI’ll-get-to-it-eventually pile.  Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but I swear the book’s front cover has been glaring at me disapprovingly, each night since I set it atop my reading pile, as it sees me open the literary equivalent of Twinkies on my Kindle reader: two other memoirs (one of a recently deceased actor and the other of a punk/pop “princess”). 
* * *
Department Of You Had To Be There
Sighting of week: Dateline, Monday morning, just before 7: 30 am. A big ass truck (y’all know the kind) pulls into the driveway of a house I am approaching on my morning walk.
This about captures the size ratio.
The driver’s door opens, and inside the big ass truck I espy a very petite, very blonde, very, very pregnant young woman. Dwarfed by the mammoth vehicle, she exits the cab by somehow sliding down the side of it (the truck has no cab step). She manages to land gracefully and delicately on her tiny feet, then waddles toward the house.
On the one hand, nothing remarkable, right? On the other hand…I have different fingers.
On the other hand, it seemed like a noteworthy feat for me to bear witness to, let alone for the Very Petite, Very Blonde, Very, Very Pregnant Young Woman ® to accomplish. The image has been coming back to me all week, and has served as a reminder that there is a kind of extraordinary grace – even beauty – to be found in ordinary situations.
* * *
Department Of If You Haven’t Got Anything Nice To Say, Come Sit By Me
Dateline: last week, driving to the beach. I took one of my favorite “shortcuts” from the Sunset Highway to the coast – a very windy, two lane road snaking through the Nehalem River Valley, Route 53, which MH and refer to as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – and stopped for lunch at a café off of Highway 101. I’ve eaten at the café many times in the past few months; I’ve found the service is friendly, and the food a notch above standard diner fare if mostly unremarkable.
There was much food remarking that day, however, between a young man working at the café and an older couple who were seated at a table near the door. The café is small, and I couldn’t help but hear the conversation, which began with the couple complimenting their lunches (“This is hands down the best food we’ve had on the coast! ) to the young man when he refilled their water glasses. They asked him for dining recommendations as they headed north; the young man enthused about a Thai restaurant up north of Astoria, then the three of them began discussing other local dining options
The couple said they’d heard about a new restaurant in Manzanita, which several people had recommended to them, but it had a crazy (to them) name: Yolk. “Whose idea was it to call a restaurant, Yolk? the man chuckled. It’s not very appealing, but their food is good, I hear. Maybe, a little on the fancy side?”
“It’s hard to imagine it would be as good as this,” said the woman, indicating with her fork the mass various yellow, fried items on her plate.
Young Café Man thanked them again, and said he thought that his café’s food could stand up to that of any other restaurant, including the “high end” ones, like Yolk. He treaded lightly at first – he said he had friends who’d dined at the new place and liked it – then he dove right in.
“I don’t want to knock another local place….“Young Café Man said (as he proceeded to do so). “Fancier places like Yolk have a impressive menu and all. But most people don’trealize we local restaurants all get our food from the same suppliers, then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”
And there I sat, eating my Gardenburger, trying not to smirk as I realized that holding my tongue when I first heard the mention of Yolk was a good idea. I was going to offer, after the man had said their food is good, I hear, that indeed, IMHO, Yolk’s food is not only good but great – in fact, Yolk was my favorite place in on the coast for breakfast and I would highly recommend it, for the incredible, tasty, creative menu items, a visually appealing dining space and friendly service….
But if I had done so, perhaps I wouldn’t have had the guilty pleasure of listening in on Young Café Man’s bogus claim about Yolk’s food sources.
Yo, Young Café Man: it’s one thing to share your opinion – to which of course you are entitled. But when you start making allegedly factual statements that are untrue….
“… then they serve the same thing – they serve the same French fries we do – only call it something different and charge four bucks more a plate for it….”
Young Café Man, I have many meals at your restaurant, and also at the restaurant you unjustly disparaged. Not only does Yolk have an entirely different menu than your establishment,  they do not, in fact, “serve the same French fries.” Thus, I assume you were just talking out of your ass. Let’s hope your restaurant doesn’t cook that way.
“You want to cook out of my what?”
* * *
Department Of And One More Thing
BTW, when you’re in Manzanita, be sure to get either breakfast or lunch at Yolk. Owner Connie and staff will take good care of you. Their lemon ricotta pancakes are rave-worthy, their take on huevos rancheros (served atop a delectable grilled cornmeal patty instead of a corn tortilla) is sublime, and whatever you order, be sure to get the molasses oatmeal bread. My go-to favorite is their roast veggie hash (with just the right touch of harissa, a simple yet inventive touch rarely found in a breakfast dish. Yummers!).
* * *
May you be able to see the grace and beauty in mundane situations; May you have the courage to finish the books that need finishing; May you know the difference between expressing an opinion
and unfairly dissing a competitor; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I purchased it not long after it was released, so it could be as long as 10+ years.
 FGM could only be compared to male circumcision if male circumcision involved the excision of the entire penis, rather than a portion of the skin of the tip of the penis.
 And then in the good ole USA, Hirsch Ali had an invitation for an honorary degree withdrawn from the university that extended the honor, after her telling the unvarnished truth criticisms of Islam’s treatment of women was called, “hate speech.”
Radiolab is one of moiself’s favorite podcasts, as readers of this blog may have surmised from my mentioning it several times in this space. Recently the show has featured episodes of a themed series on sex and reproduction, titled, Radiolab Presents Gonads . During a recent morning walk I was listening to the July 26 episode of the Gonads series, Sex Ed. About half way through the episode the announcer made (what moiself considered to be) a startlingly inaccurate announcement:
“So far we’ve talked about condom demos without any condoms, periods, we even went on to talk about the deeply important topic of what happens to all the bananas after condom/banana demos….”
You know how NPR is proud of producing (inducing?) what they call “driveway moments?” Hearing that announcement was, for moiself, yet another stopping-on-the-street-silently-screaming-to-nobody-who-can-hear moment.
Attention, well-meaning hosts of the Gonad series: No, you have not talked about “periods,” as in, menstrual cycles. Instead, you have presented one story about endometriosis. 
Over 90% of women do not have endometriosis. But you Gonadians used the story about one woman’s struggle with a rare, painful medical condition as somehow representative or emblematic of “periods.” A consequence of this is, that some of the people who don’t know much about or have no personal experience of menstrual periods – and as you Gonads hosts mentioned, “half the people on the planet do not get them”– are going to conflate this phenomenon of repeatedly experiencing toe-curling pain as being common to all women. And there is enough weirdness when it comes to public knowledge of and discussion about menstrual cycles without focusing on an aberration.
Go out people-watching one day, to some public place where you can watch the crowds (and not look like a stalker). Watch the people passing by, and try to figure out which of the women, on their way to and from work or the market or the park or the theatre, are having their menstrual periods. You can’t, because for most women it’s just another day of the week, except perhaps they needed to remember to pack a tampon in their purse….and where’s the sturm und drang in that?
Radiolab Presents: Gonads is a multi-episode journey deep into the parts of us that let us make more of us. Longtime staff producer….explores the primordial roots of our drive to reproduce, introduces a revolutionary fertility procedure that sounds like science fiction, reveals a profound secret about gender that lives inside all of us, and calls on writers, educators, musicians, artists and comedians to debate how we’re supposed to talk to kids about sex.
Check out Misconceptions, part of a special exploration of fertility and reproduction from Romper & Radiolab. (intro to the series, from the Radiolab site)
I’m well aware of the reasons why aberrations make for a “better” story. Like how the proverbial squeaky wheel gets the grease, the story of pain and inconvenience gets the attention. But please, earnest Gonadians, if you want to make a meaningful contribution to, as you say in your show’s description, how we’re supposed to talk to kids about reproduction and sex, why not focus on the more common reality? You could still produce an entirely entertaining segment about periods – say, by focusing on the myths and stereotypes and folklore and personal stories  – filled with interviews with people like…well, like the millions of women resembling me and my friends  who experienced menstrual periods as just another bodily waste product to, ahem, periodically….
…. have to deal with, just another reality which was sometimes inconvenient but which, like with other normal bodily function, we did not customarily go around complaining or even talking about it (Goddamn it, I have to pee again and I just peed yesterday!) unless there was a major inconvenience – or entertaining story – related to it (I foolishly drank 6 cups of coffee before getting on the train only to discover there were no working toilets aboard and no stops for three hours and I was so desperate I tried to find a discrete corner where I could take a camel’s bladder-sized whizz into my briefcase….”).
And hey, Gonadians, about that last sentence in your intro: I realize the pun refers to another show, but speaking of misconceptions, there are so many about “periods,” and y’all have not serve to clear any up.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked in the reproductive health care field, in both “public” and “private” settings.  I saw firsthand how the depiction of severe menstrual pain as a normality can keep women from seeking medical help when they have an untreated STD or an ovarian cyst or uterine fibroids or other abnormalities which can cause extreme discomfort. Just as importantly, the normalization of extreme period pain fits right into the script of fundamentalist religions and the patriarchy – that girls and women are somehow damaged and crippled).
So. Nice try, Gonadians, for tackling “periods,” a – what did you call it, a once “taboo subject” – and focusing on the less than 10% thing that would put the boo in taboo, rather than the 90% which would make it seem like what it is – another natural, essential, biological process.
Yep, I’m annoyed by PMS – Period Misrepresentation Schmucks.
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Department Of Little Known Gems Used As A Post-Rant Segue
What do references to an obscure Michael Caine-Christopher Reeve-Dyan Cannon movie, velcro, Harry Potter & Dracoy Malfoy, and NASCAR have in common? Why, that would be the song, Two Guys Kissin’ Ruined My Life:
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Department Of Whistling Through The Graveyard
My two other siblings and I recently received an email from our older sister, which contained pictures of our parents’ respective grave markers. The occasion was the arrival and installation of our mother’s marker.
I am not a Gravesite Visiting Type Of Person ® .  It’s not that I deliberately avoid going to the cemetery where my parents’ caskets  are buried in adjoining plot: I don’t have to be deliberate about it, since the cemetery is in So Cal and I live in Oregon. Cemetaries; gravesites – it’s just not how I remember people. Should I be in So Cal visiting relatives and, for whatever reason,  a trip to the cemetery is on the agenda, sure, I’ll tag along. But there will be no purposeful pilgrimage on my part to see the graves.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the pictures my sister sent, and the stories behind them.
The inscription on my father’s (below the “Beloved husband….”) is an oft-repeated tagline of Chet’s – his mantra, if you will: “These are the good times.”
When our mother’s gravestone arrived, my sister was surprised to discover that the headstone company had given us a stone slightly larger than the size she’d ordered for our father (and for no extra charge!), even though she thought she’d ordered the same size for our mother.
I like the idea of Marion’s headstone being just a wee bit bigger than Chet’s, seeing as how in life, my introverted mother was often (if unintentionally) overshadowed by the “bigger” personality of my outgoing father.
There was joking relief expressed by one of the Parnell siblings, that the arrow for Mom’s inscription is pointing the right direction – toward her husband’s marker, indicating with whom she enjoyed the “good times.” Although I got a kick out of imagining what if it wasn’t – what if the arrow pointed toward the right, to the next gravesite over, to another man’s gravestone. ‘Twould give passers-by  something interesting to speculate about.
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May you always have something interesting to speculate about; May you remember to focus on the 90% ; May you watch that Michael Caine-Christopher Reeve-Dyan Cannon movie; 
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Involving endometrial tissue which, for reasons not understood to medical science, growing outside of a woman’s uterus.
 I need to start using more German phrases in this blog. Suggestions are appreciated.
 Almost every woman I know has a hilarious story or six about how their own mothers/grandmothers/aunts had to navigate a world in which “such things” were not discussed.
 Ok, back when we were young enough to still be having periods.
 Respectively, Planned Parenthood clinics and a private OB/GYN medical practice.
 Yes, that is one of the lesser known “types” included in the earlier versions of the Briggs Meyers personality inventory, along with Intuitive, Judging, Thinking, Perceiving, Feeling, Gravesite-Visiting, Dentist-Avoiding….
 I am also not a casket-approving person. If it were up to me, all burials would be replaced by cremations.
 “Your entertainment choices are a trip to the cemetery to visit Mom’s and Dad’s gravesites, or attend your nieces’ and nephews” school talent show where each grade competes by singing their version of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie.”
 Including that anonymous (to us) man’s family members.
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.