As the Tokyo Olympics Games enter the final week, I’m realizing I will soon be going through the withdrawal I experience every two years, after watching two-plus weeks of (summer or winter) Olympics events. I’m not normally a frequent televised-sporting-events fan, but moiself does enjoy The Games ®.
As always, besides the events themselves, I find interest (and sometimes, petty and/or snarky entertainment) in “the human drama of athletic competition;” that is, the stories behind the stories. Does anyone else remember the ABC Wild World of Sports intro?
In the second week, with track and field events predominating, moiself is thinking about a conversation I had with daughter Belle, several weeks back, about how the USA’s track star Sha’ Carri Richardson received a suspension for testing positive for marijuana, and thus would not be participating in the Olympics.
Belle was peeved that Richardson would not be able to compete, due to what Belle sees as an unfair and archaic drug testing system. I mentioned that Richardson’s competitors might also be disappointed in Richardson’s absence from the games. As I understand it, when you’re at the top level of your sport you want to compete against the best. Also, whatever your accomplishments, you don’t want an asterisk next to them (as in, ” * ___ won the gold medal for the 100-meter race, but the favorite ____ was disqualified”).
We agreed that athletes should be tested for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs; definitely-absolutely-go-for-it. But Belle and I had fun wondering back and forth about why athletes are tested for alcohol and marijuana. Perhaps I don’t know enough about the subject, but it seems to moiself that weed and booze, with their relaxant and depressive properties, would diminish, not enhance, athletic performance. And really now: in what sports could marijuana be considered a performance enhancing drug? Competitive eating? Belle suggested.
You’d think athletes would *want* their rivals to get the munchies before competition: here comes Richardson, strolling across the finish line in last place, giving the other racers a, “What’s up with all the hurry?” look as she heads for the pizza roll vendor….
“I’d like to thank my coach, and my training partner, Maui Wowie.”
So, lobby to change the Olympics’ drug testing rules, if you think it would be worthwhile to do so. Until then, it would be unfair to other athletes to make exceptions for some and not others, in terms of how existing drug rules are applied. 
Also, the athletes know full well what they will be tested for. My advice to them  is, don’t act surprised and/or disappointed if you used a banned substance and then get caught. Take responsibility. Don’t play dumb when you’re not.
* * *
Department Of Levar Burton, Please Reconsider And/Or Retract
We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like? ( Jean Cocteau, French novelist and director)
The acknowledgment of luck, circumstance, and “accidents” in our lives (and in the universe) is one of the hallmarks of wisdom, maturity, and humility. Sure, sometimes the cream rises to the top all by itself; sometimes, someone achieves fame and fortune not because they were the most talented writer/actor/scientist in the room, but because they were the *only* writer/actor/scientist in a room that needed their skills At That Very Moment…or they just happened to be in the right room at the right time, with the Right People to notice and promote them.
To some degree we can choose how we respond to luck, happenstance, and accidents, but we can neither totally nor consistently control nor predict these accidents (which is why such things are called…all together now…accidents).
On the first bumper sticker (or, maybe it was a chariot sticker) known to humankind, an ancient philosopher wrote a vulgar yet tersely wise summary of the existential acknowledgement of the fact that life is filled with unpredictable events:
Yet, some folks just don’t seem to get this.
Dateline: Wednesday 6:50-ish a.m., warming up my on elliptical exercise machine while listening to comedian Tig Notaro’s “advice” podcast, Don’t Ask Tig. Tig’s guest was producer-actor-writer Levar Burton, best known for his role as Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for being host of the beloved PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow.
Moiself has always enjoyed Burton’s work. Thus, my WTF ?!?!? indignation when he said something in the capacity of advice-giver on the podcast, something which made me want to dust off my old Asshat Of The Week award and bestow it upon him.
Asshat Of The Week. Just waiting for the right recipient….
Burton and Notaro were responding to a letter from an advice-seeker when he flung this:
“I have had to learn over time that there are no accidents in the universe – that everything has purpose.”
The rest of Burton’s advice, about being mindful of one’s patterns and intentions, etc., would have been fine. But he had to insert that boner of a bogus bromide.
“There are no accidents in the universe – everything has purpose.”
No, Mr. Burton, that is not what you have “learned* over time” – that is what you inexplicably *believe.* Not only do you have no evidence for that belief, I would think that, looking around the world – excuse me, the UNIVERSE (using Geordi LaForge’s electromagnetic scanning VISOR, if necessary) – with a truly open mind, you would have to admit that there is quite the evidence to the contrary.
There areaccidents, or random incidents, in the universe. All. The. Time. Call them what you will; there is happenstance/luck/circumstance. The “purpose” of the series of tornadoes which struck Tennessee on March 2-3 2020 was not to kill the 25 people that they did; the tornadoes were accidents/incidents which occurred due to the particular combination of topography and weather patterns which spawn any tornado.
That execrable “There are no accidents in the universe” statement to the contrary, you’ve always seemed to moiself to be intelligent, curious, and kind. Thoughtful person that you seem to be, have you neglected to take under consideration the logical conclusions of such there-are-no-accidents beliefs?
Dude: the denial of accident/chance/luck/circumstance is Blaming The Victim 101.
What about that woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was attacked by a serial rapist? What purpose did it serve; what part did she play in it, or what lesson did she need to know – after all, if there truly are no accidents then everything happens “on purpose;” i.e., for a reason.
And the historical and ongoing oppression of people of color? You spoke briefly of experiencing racism in your life, but you also mentioned something indicating that you believe in “karma,” so then, there’s no accident there. You were born into an oppressed minority, through no choosing of your own…or….? Did you, do you and other people who have experienced discrimination, somehow have something to do with it? That’s what the philosophy of karma would say: that subconsciously or otherwise people choose their fates.  And since there are no accidents and everything has a purpose, what greater purpose (for those enslaved) did the enslavement of millions of people serve?
I’ve written about this before (most extensively, here) , and likely will again, as the “everything happens for a reason” horseshit philosophy is blithely held and repeated by too many otherwise non-rational well-meaning people.
Thank you for your attention. We now return to our regular programming.
* * *
Department Of a Memory Seemingly Apropos Of Nothing…
Whatever the prompt (or whatever Levar Burton might say is its “purpose”), I am grateful to recall the incident.
Dateline: 7-24-2015. The memory is from the day when a friend and I made some hastily scrawled protest signs and did an impromptu picketing of the anti-choice protesters who themselves were picketing outside of Portland’s Lovejoy Surgicenter.
Our adventures were recounted more extensively by moiself in this blog post; the specific remembrance I’m referring to was when my friend and I entered the clinic after the protestors had left, and chatted with a few members of the (all-female) clinic staff. This blurb still deserves the title I gave it six years ago:
Department of Possibly The Best Answer to a Question, Ever
We stayed until the Antis left, then entered the clinic. The Ladies of Lovejoy got quite the kick out of our signs and expressed their gratitude for our support. We chatted with them for several minutes, trading protester stories and shop talk. 
As per the latter, one of the clinicians mentioned that the clinic had expanded services to include male healthcare, and that she “really enjoys” doing vasectomies. I, of course, had to ask her why she found vasectomies so enjoyable. After working with women’s health all day, she said, “It’s a nice change of scenery.”
* * *
Pun For The Day Vasectomy Edition
What do a Christmas tree and a vasectomy have in common? The balls are only ornamental.
What do you call an artist who had a vasectomy? Seriously, does anyone know? I’m drawing a blank here.
Is there much difference between a man who’s had a vasectomy and a man who hasn’t? Yes, there’s a vas deference.
Most men can take having a sore arm or leg. But a vasectomy? That’s a whole different ball game.
* * *
May you enjoy the human drama of athletic competition ®; May you understand and accept the reality of luck and circumstance; May you always appreciate a change of scenery; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Richardson claimed she used weed to cope with receiving the news of the unexpected death of her biological mother. I that’s the case, I’m wondering why she didn’t alert officials before she was tested, along the lines of, “BTW, I used this substance for this reason,” to try to explain or at least warn them that she wasn’t trying to sneak anything past them.
 Which they clamor for, night and day…it gets soooooo annoying.
 The karmic premises of cause and effect: “each action (as well as a person’s thoughts and words) a person takes will affect him or her at some time in the future,” and “like causes produce like effects”
 Even if you don’t recognize the trigger at the time.
 A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I worked in women’s reproductive health care, both in a public clinic setting (Planned Parenthood) and in a private OB/GYN practice.
Because…yeah. I don’t know about you, but moiself would have no qualms trusting the person who extends my eyelashes to tend to my nervous system.
* * *
Department Of Adages Revisited
Sub Department OF Why I Don’t have My Own Marital Counseling Practice
Never go to bed angry.
Translation: Never go to bed when you are angry with your partner, lest a bad feeling hardens into resentment. Resolve the argument before going to bed.
But, that’s not always possible. Sometimes you’re too tired and/or cranky to resolve things diplomatically – that’s why you’re about to “go to bed angry” in the first place. So: go to bed; get some sleep; wake up, have a nice breakfast together…. Maybe, come the morning, whatever caused the argument won’t seem so serious.
Moiself’ssuggested classic advice addendum:
Never go to bed angry.
Oh, okay – go to bed angry if you must, but with someone else.
Actually, I’d say this advice is even crappier:
* * *
Department Of Sometimes The Best Intentions…
I drove past someone’s house recently, and saw a new sign in their front yard. The sign was similar in size, design and “composition” as the Black Lives Matter signs, only with a different message.
The message refers to  stopping the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. However, its phrasing prompted moiself to picture the following scenario: moiself driving past the sign, a well-meaning-but-clueless, elderly relative with me in the car – e.g., my late mother – who reads the sign, then sincerely wonders aloud,
“I don’t understand – what do Asians hate?”
“They all seem so nice….”
* * *
Department Of Cults? – Schmultz! They’re All Cults
“…I remembered Toni Morrison’s statement that ‘the function of freedom is to free someone else.’ Utah wasn’t the Deep South, and we Mormon dissidents were hardly the Underground Railroad. But I did believe that our culture had trapped us, that many Latter-Day Saints lived in mental and social prisons that perpetuated precisely the kind of insanity with which I’d grown up. It wasn’t slavery, but it was a powerful form of bondage: the belief that God had ordained a pattern of secrets and silence, that religious authority always trumped one’s individual sense of right and wrong, that the evidence of the senses must bow to the demands of orthodoxy, no matter how insane. It was a kind of institutionalized madness….” ( “Leaving the Saints: How I lost the Mormons and Found My Faith,” By Martha Beck )
Dateline: circa 5 years ago; Tacoma WA. Son K and a few of his college buddies are sharing stories about their various experiences with Mormons/the LDS religion. K’s friend and housemate SP is from Utah; SP and his family were minorities, as non-Mormons living in Salt Lake City. After listening to the other’s stories about the Mormon beliefs and behaviors that the friends found odd, SP chimes in:
“You all have *no* idea…. Out here, you have Mormon LITE.” 
K shared SP’s remarks over a recent Sunday dinner, with MH and I and friend LAH, after I’d spoken about having just finished Tara Westover’s book, Educated: A Memoir. The book is gripping, disturbing, at times downright horrifying, and ultimately/eventually a wee bit encouraging. I found Westover’s beautiful prose to be an often-jarring contrast to that which the prose presents: the account of her childhood, raised in a family headed by a fanatical, fundamentalist LD, survivalist, paranoid father (a man who was also likely afflicted with bipolar disorder  ). There were inspiring segments of the book which depicted the author’s inexplicably indomitable spirit (where did it come from, given her environment?); still, I had a headache at the end of each reading day – moiself realized I’d been clenching my jaw when reading through passages depicting the physical, emotional, and intellectual neglect and abuse she lived with, and the narrow confines of her world.
Westover yearned to be “educated,” in a world where women and girls were to aspire to nothing more than marriage and motherhood – in a world where she was told that to want an education was sinful and that women and girls must obey men and boys, even to the point of enduring sickening abuse from her psychotic brother. She did manage to extricate herself (physically, if not completely emotionally) from that world, but at great cost to her psyche. Her portrayal of the cost of childhood suffering, of the power that abusers (and those who abet them) wield, is chillingly insightful. Although I highly recommend the book, it also (and literally) gave me nightmares.
MH recommended the book to me a couple of years ago, and I’d listened to the Fresh Air interview with the author (which aired in 2019). I immediately thought of that interview when I read the first paragraph of the “Author’s Note” at the end of Educated:
“This story is not about Mormonism.
Neither is it about any other form of religious belief.
In it there are many types of people, some believers, some not; some kind, some not. The author disputes any correlation, positive or negative, between the two.”
Well, that was…odd. Most such disclaimers are at the beginning of *novels,* or short fiction collections. (“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”). It made me somewhat disappointed in FA host Terry Gross’s otherwise excellent interview. Did Gross not read the Author’s Note? If she did, why didn’t she ask Westover about it – was that disclaimer something the publishing company’s lawyers insisted on?
Readers generally understand that, even in non-fiction, individuals and their actions are not meant to represent Everyone and Everything. The “Author’s Note” struck me as being so unnecessary – and also, so fearful, of possible litigation, perhaps…and the author’s personal safety.
As per the latter: The LDS church is not as prone to rabid-dog harassment techniques as Scientology (whose “fair game,” policy re critics stated that “An enemy of Scientology, referred to as a suppressive person (SP), may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist…may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”  ). Still, the LDS church has been known to lawyer-up when they think they have been presented in a bad light (in particular, by those who have managed to leave the church). But their most effective defense has been the spiritual training – read: psychological torture – with which members have been inculcated.
When I read Martha Beck’s memoir Leaving the Saints, I remember a section of the book where Beck wrote about the rituals she and her husband  participated in during their temple wedding (aka, “sealing”  ). Beck was willing to detail charges of sexual abuse against a very powerful LDS icon – her father, Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley – yet stopped short of describing the vows of secrecy (re the temple rituals) she and her husband made “for time and all eternity.” I recall she used almost a joking tone in addressing any readers who might be Mormon enforcers, writing something along the lines of, “Hey guys, I promised not to reveal the exact content, and I didn’t, okay? So please don’t disembowel me.”
There was an implicit seriousnessy behind her joshing: fear. She’d written this supposed tell-all book, yet she still was afraid to tell all.
I’d known about the vows Mormons take in temple rituals (in which they acknowledge the penalties they might face for revealing such secrets), but “known about” as in, I only knew that such vows existed – their content remained a mystery. Even Ex-Mos who had openly renounced everything else LDS seemed uniformly silent on the matter. Then, along came Richard Packham, founder of The Exmormon Foundation.
During the 2012 Presidential election Packham was troubled by the fact that vast majority of American voters – the vast majority of *anyone* outside of Mormonism – had no knowledge of the secret oaths Romney had taken as a faithful Mormon. Packham wondered aloud (as, in an article he wrote for businessinsider.com ):
“The question for American voters is: Knowing that Romney has taken this secret oath,  and that he is a faithful Mormon, do you want him to answer the question, ‘Would you feel bound by your sacred oath to obey the law of consecration that you made in the endowment ceremony and use the power of the presidency to benefit the Mormon church?’ “
Packham noted that “In all the extensive media coverage of Mitt Romney, much of it discussing his religion, not a word have I seen about the secrets of Mormonism, the secrets of Romney’s life-long beliefs and practices.”
Growing up as a Mormon close in age to Mitt Romney, Packham was, like Romney, “initiated into those same secrets.” Unlike Romney, Packham left Mormonism and decided to talk and write about it, including describing LDS secrets such as the endowment ritual  and other rituals, wherein Mormons are instructed in the “signs” and “tokens” of the Mormon priesthood, are given special “names” (or “passwords”), and must make an oath to never reveal these, outside the temple.
“…when Romney and I first went through this ceremony, we were taught that each of the first three signs and tokens also had a ‘penalty’ associated with each one, and we had to mime various ways of taking life to represent the penalty to us if we were to reveal the secret signs and tokens: slitting one’s own throat, ripping open one’s chest, disemboweling oneself. Yes, folks, this was part of the most sacred ritual in Mormonism: pantomiming your own bloody death.
So Mitt Romney, and all other righteous Mormons, can be confident that they know the secret passwords and secret handshakes to get into heaven. Do you see why Romney and his church are reluctant for ‘unworthy’ people (the rest of us, including Mrs. Romney’s parents) to know about this?
As Deborah Laake  put it in her autobiographical book, “Secret Ceremonies”:
“The actions that were going to guarantee my entrance at the gates [of heaven] would have nothing to do with love or charity or the other teachings of Christ that I’d been raised to believe God valued. In fact, I hadn’t heard a single one of those words spoken today, the most primary day of religious instruction in my entire life. No, I was going to burst into heaven on the basis of mumbo-jumbo. … The mysteries of life were fraternity rituals. … Did all the white-suited glorifiers in the room unquestioningly accept a ritual of nutty gestures from the pseudo-occult as a sacrament? Those were the first moments when I viewed Mormonism with suspicion.”
Or, as summarized by a Mormon missionary: ‘If we told investigators [prospective converts to Mormonism] about that, they wouldn’t join, because it’s too weird!’ “
Lest you think I pick on the LDS too much  back to the dinner table discussion: when moiself described Westover’s book to K and LAH as the author’s story of growing up in a Mormon fundamentalist cult, MH offered his opinion, that “It was more of a cult of that father.” We all then spoke of the fundy cults/offshoots of Mormonism with which we were famililar, offshoots which, like all so-called cults, serve to make the mainstream or parent religion – in this case, Mormonism – look “better,” in a way, especially to non-believers.
Most religious believers deride (and even loathe and/or fear) people in “cults,” but don’t realize they are in one themselves. Mainstream Christians laugh at the gullibility of Mormons who can believe that a god gave a revelation to Joseph Smith through golden tablets (which Smith translated via a magic stone he placed in his hat), but believe their god gave one of their prophets a revelation through stone tablets. They sneer at snake-handling faith healers who babble nonsense (aka, speak in tongues) and believe in prophecy, even as they themselves pray for people to be healed and hurricanes to be halted, and talk about an apocalyptic End Times.
When does a cult become a religion?
* When it is granted a tax-free status by the Government. * When it progresses from killing its members to killing non-members.
All religions begin as cults. Christianity began as one of several competing messianic sects and became a religion when Paul and his followers began proselytizing outside Judea. Cults fade away when those who knew the founder die. Who remembers the Ranters, the Sandemanians or the Muggletonians now? (excerpts from “Notes and queries,” ethical conundrums, theguardian.com )
What is a religion, but a cult with more money and real estate, and better lawyers and PR? All religions began as cults – as offshoots of a mainstream religion. Once they achieve mainstream status, established religions benefit from the existence of cults, in that they can point religion skeptics toward the cult’s beliefs and practices and say, “At least we’re not like that.”
* * *
Department of Explanations
Dateline: Tuesday am, morning walk. Moiself is listening to the season 13 trailer for the Clear + Vivid podcast, in which host Alan Alda and the C+V producer preview the new season. One preview plays excerpts from Alda’s interview with theoretical physicist and author Michio Kaku, whose latest book is The God Equation: the quest for the theory of everything. Alda describes Kaku as “one of our culture’s leading communicators… about one of the most tantalizing and hard to understand questions ever raised: ‘Is there a theory of everything?’ – is there some formula that explains pretty much every phenomenon of the universe?” And what would the effects of such a theory mean to you and me?
“The immediate, practical implication of finding the theory of everything is…nothing. It’s not going to effect you or me, I’ll be very blunt with you. However, it will answer some of the deepest philosophical, religious questions of all time….” (excerpt of C+V interview with Michio Kaku) 
I gotta wonder: should I save Dr. Kaku and his peers some time and energy, by submitting to them *my* concept? In a mere four words, my Theory Of Everything ® :
“Yep; there it is.”
* * *
Punz For The Day Theoretical Physics Edition
Q: Why should you go out wining and dining with neutrons? A: Wherever they go, there’s no charge.
A husband walks in on his wife, who is a string theorist, in bed with another man. She shouts, “I can explain everything!”
May you come up with your own Theory of Everything; May you be grateful toward those who encouraged you to be educated; May you realize that nobody, under any circumstances, ever needs to have their eyelashes extended; …and may the hijinks ensue.
 A diagnosis he would have rejected in favor of some explanation involving evil spirits and/or devils.
 “6 insane ways the Church of Scientology has tried to silence its critics,” salon 3-15-15
 Who is now also ex-Mormon, as well as her ex-husband.
 Mormons have two kinds of weddings: Temple weddings, and non-temple. Not all Mormons “qualify” for a temple wedding, even if they desire one. “If you don’t know much about Mormon weddings, there’s a good reason for it. The Mormons don’t want you to find out. Temple marriages are top-secret affairs — absolutely no non-Mormons are allowed to see these hidden events. Even some practicing Mormons, who aren’t deemed worthy of a ‘temple recommend,’ will be asked to wait outside. This can be downright heartbreaking for LDS couples with friends and family outside the faith, who find themselves without their loved ones by their side on their big day. (excerpt from “Mormon weddings “)
My sister’s (non-religious) freshman college roommate was aggressively courted by a senior boy who was a Mormon. When they married, she asked my sister to be her maid of honor. My sister, after months of warily watching her roommate being wooed, did not approve of the relationship, but wanted to support her roommate, and agreed. My sister, after buying and then of course wearing the dress, had to stand outside the temple – along with the bride’s parents (who paid for the wedding and the reception)! – during the ceremony, because they were not Mormons.
 Several oaths, actually, but the one Packham refers, “The Law of Consecration,” involves, if Romney won the election, thanking God for blessing him with the presidency and, as per that oath, promising to use that blessing for the benefit of the Mormon church.
 “a ritual reenactment of the creation, Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, mortal experience, and the return to God’s presence. At each stage of this progression, participants make covenants in the name of Jesus Christ.” (So What Happens in an LDS Temple? The Salt Lake Tribune. )
 Deborah Laake was a journalist and editor, raised and married in the LDS church, and was excommunicated by the church “…for apostasy because of her criticisms and also for her ‘detailed revelation of top-secret Mormon temple ceremonies’ ” shortly after the publication of her book, Secret Ceremonies, “a candid and critical account of her experiences growing up and marrying as a member of the LDS church.” ( Wikipedia entry for Laake. )
 Due to the book I read, LDS it was the primary topic, but longtime readers of this blog know I am a skeptic and debunker of all religions.
Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc. I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress. From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….” ( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )
* * *
Someone needs to be shot for insurrection.
If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow hisbrains out  on live television. He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been hisultimate concern.
* * *
“Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”
* * *
How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,
“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”
As friend MM so succinctly put it,
“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”
* * *
What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?
“The whole world is watching.”
And they were. And we are.
* * *
Department Of Get HimOut, Now. How Can You Not?
Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment – #45is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him. Whatever it takes.
Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”
For the good of the country, he needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?
For the good of the country, his legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”
For the good of the country, we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.
For the good of the country, we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.
And, if heis allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to hispresidential pension? $219,000 a year, for the rest of hisdeplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him? 
“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”
* * *
May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need; May you-know-who finally get what hedeserves; May circumstances allow moiself to return to “regular programming” next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.
 Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
 There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!
Department Of Nomination For Lyrical Couplet Of The Year
My nomination hails from the musical-comedy “The Prom,” the Netflix-streamed movie, adapted from the 2018 Broadway show of the same name. The story revolves around the political, cultural and social shenanigans which ensue when a small town Indiana High School PTA announces their intention to cancel the school’s prom because a female student wants to take her girlfriend to the dance. 
The couplet moiself refers to is sung by an archetypal cheerleader/popular/hot/girl, who is quite pleased with her perceptions of her own “hotness” as she arrives at her much-anticipated high school prom:
♫ …You have to hand it to me I mean even I would do me ♫
(lyric from “Tonight Belongs To You”)
* * *
Department Of Good News For Office Party Nerds
Speaking of sexual/physical desirability, a recent episode of the Curiosity Daily podcast, “Why Birds Wore Funny Hats for Science,” dealt with scientific experiments in avian mate preference and selection.
“A female finch was given a choice between two males. One was just a regular guy, but the other had an upgrade. He was wearing a tiny hat with a giant white feather sticking straight up. …Imagine being uncontrollable attracted to him, because that’s what happened in the trials. Females went wild for the guys in funny hats….”
* * *
Department Of The Doctor Will See You Now… So Turn Our Head And Cough
“Many Ph.D. holders are fine with reserving the title for medical doctors in common parlance, viewing insistence on the title as arrogant and elitist, and do not use their titles even in a scholarly setting. But for women and people of color, an academic title can be a tool to remind others of their expertise in a world that often undermines it.”
( “Should all Ph.D’s be called ‘Doctor’ ” KQED )
“…female engineers with Ph.D.s who said they are under-represented in their field, and feel like they need to put doctor in front of their names to get the same respect that male engineers get. …researchers found that male doctors introduce their male colleagues as “Dr.” around 70 percent of the time, but introduce their female colleagues as doctor a little less than half the time.”
( “Who Gets To Be Called ‘Doctor” And Why It Matters,” WHYY )
Yep, moiself just has to put my two cents’ in re The Dr. Jill Biden Thing ® .
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (UC Davis, circa 1979), most of my college professors had Ph.D.s in their respective fields. When it came to their professional titles, I can’t recall how most of them preferred to be addressed (“Professor,” “Dr.” “Ms. ___” or “Mr. ___”), nor what I or the other students called them…with one notable exception.
I took a class from Robert Miller,  who had a Ph.D. in literature and taught a class on film/cinema (the name of which escapes me). From day one of the class Miller made it clear as to how he preferred to be addressed. In-class questions and discussions were encouraged, but when any student raised their hand and began their remarks with, “Dr. Miller…? Miller would interrupt with, “Yes, nurse?”
Most of the students caught on rather quickly. One particularly obsequious toady with artistic pretensions (he wore all black attire, no matter the weather, including black turtleneck shirt AND, I kid you not, a black beret) did not. After the fifth or six occasion of him hearing, “Yes, nurse?” he got up the nerve to ask Miller some deferential version of, whaz up wit dat?
Miller took that opportunity to tell the entire class that, yes, he had a doctorate degree, but he preferred to be addressed by the title, “Professor,” because that was his profession. He went on to tell an entertaining story of the history of academic titles. According to Miller, the title “professor “fell out of favor during the mid-late 19th century, when traveling snake oil salesman referred to themselves thusly, to add a cloak of respectability re the noxious potions they peddled. Thus, the term “professor” became associated with charlatans, and actual professors who held doctorate degrees began calling themselves “Dr.,” a title which had heretofore been reserved for physicians.
Professor Miller briefly expressed his opinion that academics in any field who insisted on being called “Dr.” were either insecure with or overly impressed by their own credentials. For clarity, Miller thought that “Dr.” should refer to a practicing M.D.
Until recently, I shared Professor Miller’s antipathy toward the use of Dr. referring to anyone other than a physician. I am also loath to address physicians, when they are not on duty, as Doctor, and in social settings I am suspicious of medical doctors who insist on being introduced that way. If you are a medical doctor, off-duty at the grocery store or at your spouse’s office party or any other situation wherein I can expect that you will *not* be putting a tongue depressor into my mouth, what is the point – other than for your own self-aggrandizement – to introduce yourself to me as a doctor?
Years ago, in social situations where there were enough people unfamiliar with each other so as to require name tags, I encountered that situation frequently, enough so that I was inspired to Do Something About It ®. I’d noticed that some (not all) of the party attendees added, either before their first name or after their surname, their professional titles and/or initials in situations which clearly did not require the identification of one’s profession. Think, “Rev. Blowschlock” at a non-religious gathering, or “Elmer Turnblatter, M.D.,” at a New Year’s Eve party or other, non-medical setting. In anticipation of the next such event, I made moiself a name tag which I could proudly wear on Those Special Occasions. 
Being proud of your accomplishments is one thing; unconsciously or otherwise hoping for special notice/treatment because of the letters after your name is another. Cynical moiself usually assumed the latter reasoning, when it came to people who insisted that others know or use their professional letters and titles in non-professional situations.
Which brings us to Joseph Epstein, BFD.
In case you’ve spent the last two weeks in a drunken stupor/hiding under a rock/binge-watching”Grey’s Anatomy paying attention to more weighty matters, you may not know about the column that journalist Joseph not-a-doctor Epstein wrote for the Wall Street Journal. In the column, Epstein offered unsolicited advice to Jill Biden, who has a doctorate degree in education, as to how people should address her and how she should refer to herself. His column…I shall not link to it here. Not to worry, you can easily find it, as the odor from his festering turd of deprecating sexism disguised as an op/ed can be detected across the country. The stench begins with the first paragraph.
“Madame First Lady — Mrs. Biden — Jill — kiddo: a bit of advice on what might seem like a small but I think is not an unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels a touch fraudulent, not to mention comical.”
Yep. He wrote that.
Epstein has heretofore *not* offered such advice to other Ph.D. holders in the public eye.  Nor did No-doc Epstein voice any complaints when his newspaper identified non-medical doctor Henry Kissinger as Dr. Kissinger. Epstein is taking some well-deserved heat for his comments, and is responding to this blowback by clutching his proverbial pearls and hiding behind the whiny, entitled skirts of crying, “Cancel culture!!” instead of taking this criticism as an opportunity to examine his own myopia when it comes to equal respect for and treatment of professional titles.
“As supporting evidence for his reasoning (that “no one should call himself Dr. unless he has delivered a child.” ), Epstein cites his own refusal to be called “Dr.” when he taught courses at Northwestern University — which would, in fact, have been fraudulent and comical because Epstein’s highest degree is a bachelor’s. It seems he would like Jill Biden to deny herself what she earned, because he denied himself what he did not.”
Doctor? What doctor? Epstein’s “advice” ends as malodorously as it begins.
“Forget the small thrill of being Dr. Jill and settle for the larger thrill of living for the next four years in the best public housing in the world as First Lady Jill Biden.”
“the small thrill of being Dr. Jill….”
Got that, folks? Regardless of how you or I think about what professional titles any person should or should not use, Epstein reveals his closeted (perhaps even to himself) sexism in his finale: Jill Biden’s own hard work and achievements should not be as important as those “larger thrills” which society may bestow upon her by virtue of the man she married, and that she should accept this marital title and the perks (best public housing, ever, yee haw!) and refrain from claiming her personal identity and accomplishments.
It may be possible that (doctor-less) Epstein truly doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. The mere fact that he could pen such a condescending column indicates he has had his head up his ass in the sand of entitlement for the past X decades, when it comes realizing how women have had to fight for respect, to have their professional accomplishments acknowledged – and even attributed, what with the history of males claiming credit for their female colleagues’ accomplishments….
*The Art of Claiming Credit: Why women in particular have to be strategic with our suggestions and insights, plus advice on calling out credit stealers.
* When Teamwork Doesn’t Work For Women: …new evidence suggests that the underrepresentation of women reflects a systemic bias in that marketplace: a failure to give women full credit for collaborative work done with men.
All else being equal, I would hold with my original discomfort with non-medical-docs using the Dr. title. But we do not live on planet All Else Being Equal.
Also, my college film professor was not entirely correct regarding his take on the doctor v. professor issue. Ph.D.’s, not M.D.s, were the original “doctors.”
“The term doctor can be traced back to the late 1200s, and it stems from a Latin word meaning “to teach.” It wasn’t used to describe a licensed medical practitioner until about 1400, and it wasn’t used as such with regularity until the late 1600s.”
(““M.D.” vs. “Ph.D.” vs. “Dr.,” dictionary.com )
“The premise that only medical doctors should get to hold the Dr. title is etymologically specious because, as Merriam-Webster dictionary pointed out on Twitter, “doctor” comes from the Latin word for “teacher”; it was scholars and theologians who, back in the 14th century, used the title well before medical practitioners.”
(Monica Hessee, Washington Post op cit )
* * *
Department Of Save That Poop – It May Save your Life
So happy to have yet another excuse to mention Murder Hornets before this year is consigned to the dumpster fire of history.
“To ward off giant hornet attacks, honeybees in Vietnam will adorn the entrances to their nests with other animals’ feces, a defensive behavior called fecal spotting…. The odious ornamentation seems to repel the wasps — or at least seriously wig them out…. Decorating one’s home with dung might sound indecorous….But the scat-based strategy appears to capitalize on a relatable trend: Most creatures aren’t keen on muddying their meals with someone else’s waste.” ( “When Murder Hornets Menace Their Hive, Bees Decorate It With Animal Feces,”
(NY Times, Sciences, 12-9-20 )
A house completely made of dung. Notice the lack of murder hornets…or people, within a 50 yard radius.
A dung beetle spent an entire day rolling a ball of dung up a hill, only to have it fall into a ravine on the other side. Needless to say, he lost his shit.
Make. It. Stop.
* * *
May your title denigration be equal opportunity, if you feel the need to discount someone’s adacemic achievements; May you always choose the guy (or girl) with the funny hat; May you do whatever you have to do-do when the Murder Hornets arrive; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Although “The Prom” is fictional, it is based on the true story of what happened in 2010 at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, where school officials, objecting to a lesbian student who wanted to bring her date to the prom, decided that, rather than face lawsuits of discrimination against that student they would cancel the entire prom, for all students, rather than allow gay couples to attend.
Here’s the vibe I’m getting from listening to/reading interviews with nurses, doctors, home health aides, and other health care workers: They do not want acclaim and platitudes, thank you very much. They want you stop voting for sociopathic ignoramuses who don’t want you to have viable public health care systems in the first place.
Sorry; this doesn’t cut it.
* * *
Department Of As If You Needed Another Reason…
… to transition to plant-based nutrition. Not to go all PETA on y’all,  but other than the:
6 in 10 Infectious Diseases Come from Animals The CDC Is Most Worried About These 8 ( Article in Livescience.com 5-17-19 )
MERS, SARS, many influenza viruses, and now COVID-19  – over half of all infectious diseases are zoonotic; that is, they are spread from animals to humans.
If humans stopped animal food production it would break the major link in the disease chain, via what scientists call the “animal-human interface” – read: the keeping and raising of poultry and animals for human food (“animal husbandry”), which allows for and concentrates “…pathogen movement from confined poultry and swine operations resulting in environmental releases and interspecies transmission…” 
If you didn’t know about the health/climate change/animal abuse aspects of meat production and consumption, or kinda-sorta knew but didn’t care to do some research on the issues…. Well, we’ve got plenty of time on our hands now, don’t we?
* * *
Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid Chapter 6 In A Series
I don’t UnFriend ® often. I’ve done the -un thing, hmm, only one or two times that I can recall. One case was after I realized I’d accepted a friend request from someone moiself didn’t fully recognize but figured was a high school acquaintance…then after some odd postings  on their part I did some sleuthing (the low-tech variety – I got out my high school yearbooks) and realized that, yep, we’d gone to the same high school, but I’d confused them with someone else, and…yikes.
Since when has “un-friend” been a thing?
Dateline: March 31. I get a FB message, don’t recognize the name, see a posting that consists of what appears to be photograph of a notice with the eye-catching titled:
“IN ISRAEL NO DEATH FROM COVID 19”
Golly gee, that would be good news…if it were true (which, of course, it isn’t).
This notice, in hilariously horrible, Nigerian-scam worthy English, describes the “super news” of a “simple recipe” – a lemon bicarbonate tea – which
“immediately kills the virus completely (sic) eliminates it from the body….That is why the People of Israel is (sic) relaxed about this virus. Everyone in Israel drinks a cup of hot water with lemon and a little baking soda at night, as this is proven to kill the virus.”
I looked up the (supposed) sender’s FB profile. Yep, went to my high school; is friends with several people I know; I can’t recall other FB postings or messages from her. Poor thing; it’s likely her FB messenger has been hacked (and when she finds out she’ll be sending apology messages to everyone). But, just to be safe, bye-bye for now.
* * *
Department Of Andrew Yang Was Right…But Sooner, And For a Reason No One Predicted
“… we wind up automating millions of American livelihoods and then are left trying to figure out what the path forward is for those people, their families, those communities. What the pandemic has done is accelerate those circumstances in an incredibly compressed time frame where it has literally sent tens of millions of Americans home all at once.
I was talking about an evolving automated economy that would affect more and more of us home over time. And it’s become painfully obvious that putting money into our hands is the only commonsense solution to keep our families afloat.” ( “Republicans Adopt Andrew Yang’s Cause. He Isn’t Celebrating.” Politico 3-17-20 )
* Over 15 million Americans work in tourism and hospitality—in hotels, amusement parks, art museums, and restaurants—making it the fifth largest industry in the country; * Another 16 million Americans work in retail (which, 15 years ago, surpassed manufacturing as the country’s largest industry by employment); * Over 20% of Americans work in retail/hospitality/entertainment industries, which were among the first to be shut down or drastically curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawyer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, using statistics and economic models and forecasting, warned that in the coming years AI and automation would bring job losses for one third of American workers. This was a major part of the reasoning behind his proposed “Freedom Dividend,”  an economic stimulus and security plan widely misunderstood and knocked by people on all sides of the political and economic spectrums. And now….
“White House expresses support for immediate cash payments to Americans as part of coronavirus stimulus package” (Washington Post 3-17-20)
Check out Yang’s campaign website (which is still up), in particular his policy stands of The Freedom Dividend and Human-Centered Capitalism.
* * *
Department of The Corona Virus Playlist Girl Groups Edition
Girl Groups was a term applied to the American female pop music singing groups of the late 1950s – early 1960s. “The Supremes,” “Martha and the Vandellas,” “The Ronettes” and “The Shangrilas” are examples of the GG genre.
Moiself has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.
Heatwave I Gotta Let You Go Nowhere To Run In My Lonely Room
Reach Out And Touch Stop In The Name Of Love The Beginning Of The End Where Did Our Love Go?
A Breath-Taking Guy It’s All Your Fault You’ll Be Sorry My World Is Empty Without You Someday We’ll Be Together
A Change Is Gonna Come Comin’ Out Come See About Me Back In My Arms Again
Girl Groups recommend Beehive hairdos for TP, Hand Sanitizer, and all coronavirus storage needs.
* * *
Epicurean Expedition Evolution
The Epicurean Expedition was a recurring feature of this blog (from a year ago until last week), wherein I decided that moiselfwould go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook at least one recipe from one book for dinner. It was fun and challenging, the latter via trying to adapt recipes from books I’ve had for decades and which were acquired before moiself became a picky plant-based eater. Some recipes – in several cases, entire cookbooks – proved almost impossible to adapt while still being true to the spirit of the original (read: almost anything by Julia Child. All that “buttah” – lawdy, Julia went well-lubricated to her grave).
In the spirit of been there/done that, aided by the COVID-19 virus-induced, Take On A Project ® mindset and social/physical isolation, I’ve started a new culinary adventure: differing dinner themes.
I’ve done dinner themes before, but never a different one for each day. When son K and daughter Belle were younger, Friday was the theme day. For a few years it was Make Your Own ZaNight, then Friday Fondue, each theme accompanied by what we called “Friday Bread.” (a homemade braided sweet bread with raisins – essentially, a raisin challah). After our offspring fledged, Friday became just another day for MH and I.
The themes are listed below; I’ll start reporting on them next week, with a completely new, as-of-yet-unchosen rating system (I will miss the Hamster thumbs-up).
I’m giving moiself a lot of leeway in this new EE. Which day will I report on? Depends on what recipe worked best or failed most epic-ly (let’s face it, epic fails are the most fun to write about). The power to choose is all mine, mine, MINE, I TELL YOU. 
Steelhead Sunday Steelhead, the trout that thinks it’s a salmon, is my go-to fish (and plant-eater moiself still has fish once a week).
This day will be reserved for anything pescatarian .
Mushroom Miso Mustard Monday Three alliterative ingredients, at least one of which will be featured.
Tofu/Tempeh Tuesday Fairly straightforward.
Wednesday Wraps Crepes; tamales; pancakes; tortillas; tacos; spring rolls, dosas….
Thirsty Thursday Soups gets a starring role on this day.
WTF Friday Anything goes…including out to dinner (when we’re allowed to do that again)
Sushi / Spaghetti Saturday
Sushi: I hadn’t made it in years. A couple of weeks ago, inspired by the isolate-at-home mandate (translation: moiself had a captive audience, as MH and I would not be going out to eat) I decided to do some maki rolls, and had a lot of fun.
I’m going to offend sushi purists try different classes of fillings (all plant-based, save for the steelhead/salmon in the PNW varieties) inspired by different culinary tastes, from Pacific NW to Mexican to Chinese to Indian to Eastern European to ___? The short grain, vinegar-ed rice (which is what makes it sushi ) will remain, although it will be brown rice and the type of vinegar will vary with the fillings.
Spaghetti: as in, pasta. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, moiself and a coworker with a Good Ole Midwestern Boy ® background were talking about food during our lunchbreak. GOMB asked me what I would be making for dinner that night. I replied that I hadn’t exactly decided, probably pasta with a lemon basil…
“Spaghetti – you’re making spaghetti! Why can’t you just say you’re making spaghetti?! All pasta is spaghetti!”
The snideness of GOMB’s interruption indicated he thought moiself was being pretentious when I was merely being accurate. I knew I was going to make a pasta dish but didn’t know what kind of pasta it would be. As it turned out, I didn’t have any *spaghetti* in the house. How do you say, “So, there!”in Italian? )
Who wouldn’t miss me? I’ll give two thumbs down if I’m not included in her new version of this project.
* * *
Department Of Yet Another New Feature:
Pun For the Day
This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club,
but I’d never met herbivore.
* * *
May you try not to “contribute” to the next (or current) pandemic; May you remember that all spaghetti is pasta but not all pasta is spaghetti; May you offend culinary purists whenever possible; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I have mixed feelings about the organization – alternately admiring some of their work and viewpoints while deploring some of their rhetoric/tactics.
 “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet,” is the opinion of a bajillion studies and scientific/medical journals, including The Permanante Journal,
 Like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 was spread from animals to humans. Public health experts think COVID-19 originated at a “wet market” in China, where vendors sell both live and dead animals for human consumption.
 “The Animal-Human Interface and Infectious Disease in Industrial Food Animal Production,” Public Health Reports, National Institute of Medicine.
 Read: batshit crazy political and religious comments/rants.
 A $1,000/month stipend for every American adult over the age of 18.
* Taking my car through the car wash; *posting links to the Divinyl’s “I Touch Myself” and Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me,”
on Facebook, and thinking of Way. Too. Many. other songs for the COVID-19 situation; * hanging a bag of nut milk  to drain over the kitchen sink….
Someone has too much play time on her hands. Girls and Boys, are you, too, practicing safe sex Social Isolation ® ?
Abby, my Emotional Support Avocado, who typically occupies the middle of the back seat (always safely buckled in – click it or ticket!), gets to play inside while I vacuum out my car.
* * *
Department Of I Was Not Prepared For This
Dateline: Monday, March 16. Email from my yoga class studio (my emphases):
…effective immediately, we will be limiting class sizes to 9 students. With this class size, the “social distancing”
between students in our classroom can be up to 40% higher than the CDC recommended distance of 6 feet.
Our Older Student Population Because you are in a higher risk group, we are recommending our students
who are 60 years and older to please stay home until conditions improve.
Moiselfimmediately began thinking most unyoga-like thoughts: Ahem, and WTF? When did I get into a “higher risk group” when I can keep up with the Millennials in class and seriously kick some yoga ass  in pigeon pose….
Fine. I’ll be a Good Citizen. ® It’s funny to me, how much that frosted moiself’sbutt, to realize that I’d been placed in a Category. The next day I was still a bit steamy.  Perhaps I’m overreacting…
* * *
Department of The Corona Virus Playlist British Invasion Edition
For those too young to wipe your own behinds remember, the British Invasion refers to
“… a cultural phenomenon of the mid-1960s, when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom and other aspects of British culture
became popular in the United States…. groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks…and the Animals
were at the forefront of the “invasion.” 
Moiselfhas listed some of those groups’ song titles which are, IMHO, are applicable to our self-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times. At first I thought to list them alphabetically, but had more fun arranging them in groupings:
* A Hard Day’s Night * Don’t Bother Me * Get Back * Get Off of My Cloud * Inside Looking Out * Long Distance * Run For Your Life * You Better Move On * You Won’t See Me * You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
* Getting Better * We Gotta Out Of This Place * Help! * Doctor Robert
* From Me to You * Gimme Shelter * Hello Goodbye * Helter Skelter * Here, There, And Everywhere
* I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party * I Feel Fine * How Do I Get Close * Worried About You * I Want to Hold Your Hand * You Can’t Always Get What You Want * You Can’t Do That * You Really Got A Hold On Me
* I Should Have Known Better * I’ve Got a Feeling * Misery * I’m So Tired * Ventilator Blues * Wish I’d Never Met You * Where Have All the Good Times Gone * Who’ll Be the Next in Line * It’s All Over Now * The End
* * *
Department Of Another Way To Get A Good Laugh In Stressful Times…
…is to do something really stupid – something that makes you face palm yourself (which is one reason why moiselfis a Frequent Flyer when it comes to giggle mileage).
No question, that’s the most pathetic flying metaphor we’ve ever heard.
Dateline: earlier this week, after an at-home (of course) workout and before venturing to the grocery store. I change from my exercise t-shirt to a non- less-smelly t-shirt and glance in the mirror. I reach for my toothbrush to use as an eyebrow brush: when I pull a snug shirt over my head, my eyebrows get a little unruly.
Not Andy Rooney unruly, but, still….
A second too late, as I have placed brush to brow, I realize that moiselfhad applied a small dab of toothpaste to the toothbrush a couple of hours earlier, got distracted, and set the toothbrush down on the sink edge without brushing my teeth. Thus, I now have very straight eyebrows with a dab of minty white toothpaste in them, giving me that certain je ne sais quoi(as well as a minty/fluoride scent wafting from my forehead).
The thing is, I did both brows before I realized what I was doing. The second thing is, this is not the first time I’ve done this. I’d say my average is once every two years. Upside: my eyebrows have never had a cavity! So, yeah, I’m not absent-minded, I’m participating in an important research program involving the collection of dental hygiene data.
Stand back, she’s about to try SCIENCE.
* * *
Department Of Rescheduling Fun
There were to be ten of us around my dining room table on Tuesday, March 17. Even before our state’s governor (in line with CDC and other health organization guidelines) called for voluntary social distancing, my guests began to cancel.
Not to worry, moiselfassured my would-be guests via email, we will not scratch our celebration. We’ll just postpone it until…until we know more about what’s going on. Also, I’m assuming my guests cancelled due to their concern for public health safety, and not as a commentary on my planned dining table centerpiece:
* * *
Department Of Silver Linings
If something is good coming out of this pandemic it might be the concept of social distancing, which may come in handy after Whatever Is Going To Happen® has died down. Playing it correctly and not overusing it, you could artfully excuse yourself from certain tedious personal and professional obligations. Y’all know what I’m talking about: that feeling of, “I’d rather stick a Tabasco-coated tuning fork in my eyeball than attend…
* another of my nephew’s ukulele recitals;
* our Homeowner’s Association meeting on proper dog-walking and waste disposal protocol;
*my boss’s latest attempt to mitigate his blatant racism, sexism
and homophobia by holding a pronoun sensitivity training session;
* my neighbor’s latest pyramid scheme lure Amway/Herbalife/Mary Kay bait setting-disguised-as-a-ladies’-cocktail-party….”
Repeat after moiself:
“Oh, gee, I’d love to, but for the sake of community health,
and as per the advice of my ____
(doctor/psychiatrist/pedicurist/Mar-a-Lago online Medical School and Virtual Putting Green website),
I’m practicing social distancing.
* * *
Department Of Problem Solved
“…1,135 people have needed intensive care in Lombardy, but the region has only 800 intensive care beds…. As the COVID-19 epidemic expands and the disease progresses, (ICU beds) are in increasing demand, especially because of the breathing problems the illness can bring. Every time a bed comes free, two anesthesiologists consult with a specialist in resuscitation and an internal medicine physician to decide who will occupy it. “In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients,” NY Times, 3-16-20 )
“Sometimes extraordinary problems require a supernatural response. Fearless prayers is what is needed in this moment. Let’s all pray for a swift end to the coronavirus.” ( Tweet by Jentezen Franklin, evangelical pastor, whose online service #45 claimed to have had joined for the National Day of Prayer to counter the coronavirus.)
“…(Evangelist) Cindy Jacobs…said God told her to create a global day of prayer to stop the virus from spreading. ( Mother Jones online )
When there is a shortage of vital medical equipment, Those In Charge Of Such Things ® face agonizing choices (and remember, every day in this country, people are placed on respirators due non-coronavirus related accidents/illnesses). Should these triage situations arise in the United States, I’ve got a solution to easing the shortage. Yes, I hereby volunteer to be Triage Czar.
I’m just in it for the hat.
Here’s how I’ll do it. Short of being able to talk to all ICU admit-tees and/or respirator candidates in person, I’ll design a simple questionnaire to be filled out by the patient or their designated medical representative, to determine the patient’s category.
Conservative Christians (and even the moderates and some liberals) and followers of any other religions (and the NRBS – “Not Religious But Spiritual” folks),
particularly those who claim to “believe” in the power and efficacy of prayer (or crystal energy patterns, homeopathy, reiki, etc.),
particularly those who pray for cures (for any and all conditions, from cancer to “gay-ness”) for themselves or friends and family, and those who credit
supernatural intervention when they recover from illness.
Freethinkers, Brights, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists: religion-free folk
who hold a naturalistic world view and follow the guidelines of medical science.
How does this work, you ask?
Category 1: Y’all who put your faith in the supernatural, when you are admitted to the hospital you will be assigned a bed in the chaplaincy ward,
where you and the chaplains/religious /spiritual counselors/fellow believers of your choice
can pray pray pray pray pray.
Category 2: Y’all get the doctors, the medicines, the ICU beds, and the respirators.
Surprisingly logical, for a human.
Should be a most revealing data gathering experiment, if my advice would be followed and someone kept statistics. 
May you “put your money where your mouth is” when it comes to medical care; May you always remember what is on your toothbrush; May you have an epic playlist when you are in social isolation; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Don’t have a cow, dairy industry – I realize that almonds do not lactate.
 Actually, kicking some yoga ass is not a thing.
 The day after that, all classes were cancelled.
 Of course, many people of all worldviews, including the supernatural, will have an immune system up to the task and recover on their own.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.
* Two Thumbs up: Liked it * Two Hamster Thumbs Up : Loved it * Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this. * Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe. * Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe. * All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up. * Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make. * Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.
Sub Department Of How To Solve The Health Care Debate
Perhaps a little re-framing of the situation is in order.
Something I’ve been wondering about for the past week. Why is it so many of we – as in We The People– object to the so-called ”socialization” of some vital services, and not others?
* When your house is on fire, you call the fire department and the firefighters arrive, put out the fire, assesses you for smoke inhalation, etc. And they don’t send you a bill.
* I have had the misfortune to have needed the services of the police a few times in my life, including incidents such as being the victim of car-break-in-theft, to assault.  Each time the police officers provided the necessary life-enhancing and/or protecting services, for which I was not billed.
* My parents called 911 numerous times in their elder years, due to causes ranging from my father accidentally setting a fire in their oven to the many falls my mother had. Each time, fire/paramedics responded quickly and professionally, never once saying, “BTW, this is your third fall in two years; you have a preexisting condition and we’re not going to cover this….” And my parents never received a bill for any of those visits. 
My parents of course “paid” for those vital services through taxes. As did their neighbors, whether or not said neighbors ever utilized those same services. I don’t recall hearing that the neighbors were complaining about subsidizing my parents’ blunders and/or misfortunes, nor have I ever passed a police car or fire truck responding to a call and thought, It’s been decades since *I* had to call the fire department, yet I still keep paying for them to help *other* people….I want to set up my own private fire and police service.
No one ever questions whether police officers/firefighters are less committed and/or professional in their duties because they are salaried and not paid per incident response – a fear-mongering charge often levied against the idea of paying doctors a salary (as they would receive under some kind of single payer system) rather than having them charge per procedure.
Health care is a vital service, to both individuals and the community, as are fire and police (and education, and utility service and maintenance….). Why can’t we view it as such, and transfer the premiums we currently pay, as individuals and businesses, to some kind of nationalized/community/single payer health care system?
We build roads better by working collectively rather than by us individually cobbling together a bit of asphalt here and there.
* * *
Department Of And One More Thing
The cons listed on this chart aren’t really cons; as in, they are not things that will suddenly come into being with some kind of single payer healthcare system.
They. Already. Exist.
* “Forces healthy people to pay for others medical care.”
Yep. And your point would be? And my auto and homeowner’s insurance are designed and prorated just for me…oh wait, they’re not – that’s not how insurance works. Healthy (and insured) people are already paying for coverage for the sick (and uninsured) via a variety of ways, including VA and county medical hospital ER services.
* ”Without financial incentive, people may not be as careful with their health.”
Oh yes, and we ‘re doing such a good job of that now, because every working day when Joe Bro wants to join his buddies for their Monster Burger and fries lunch he thinks, “Ah, but wait, this isn’t good for me and I don’t want my health care premiums to rise,”and instead Joe opts for a walk around the park while eating a kale quinoa salad.
Look around, y’all, at our rates of obesity, diabetes 2, heart disease, and a plethora of other dietary and lifestyle-related ailments. Americans have not been “as careful with their health” for decades.
* “Most universal health systems report long wait times for elective procedures.”
Again, hello? Do you know and/or have you talked to anyone who has had an elective (or even urgent, if not emergency) procedure, even and especially those with good health care coverage? The answer for moiself is yes on both questions, and those I know and those I’ve talked to have *never* gotten in right away nor got the dates and times they desired. They had to (gasp) wait.
* * *
* * *
This Day In Stupid History ®
* 1521: Emperor Charles V bans wooden buildings in Amsterdam (ostensibly because of fire dangers, but Emperor Chuckie also liked the Roman’s use of stone and thought if Amsterdam used the same they would be as cool as the ancient Roman Empire).
* 1616: A Dutch East India Company ship “discovers” Dirk-Hartog Island, Australia (while Australia’s aboriginal inhabitants said, “Well, yeah, it’s been right here all along….”)
* 1854: Charge of the Light Brigade. Commemorated by Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, the ill-fated Crimean war charge was led by the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, who, stupidly, did not die himself, but led at least 107  (of his 600 men) to their deaths.
* 1938: The Archbishop of Dubuque, Francis J. L. Beckman, denounces Swing music as “a degenerated musical system… turned loose to gnaw away at the moral fiber of young people”, warning that it leads down a “primrose path to hell”. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
* 1952: Publication of the first Dutch edition of children’s magazine “Donald Duck. ” (I’m guessing the French ministry of culture only approved publication because thought it was a cookbook.)
* 1964: “The Wrong Way Run” occurred when Minnesota Viking player Jim Marshall runs 66 yards in the wrong direction for a safety.
* 1983: U.S. Invades Grenada. The Reagan administration claimed U.S. medical students were suddenly in mortal danger – (They were not. I had a friend in medical school in Grenada at that time, who told me the only danger they faced were from the gung-ho American soldiers trying to evacuate them) – and that the invasion had *nothing* to do with Reagan’s need to kick some little Marxist-leaning country’s butt to shore up his shriveling, Commander-in-Chief-with-nothing-to-command ballsack.
* 2005: U.S. military deaths in Iraq reached 2,000.
May whatever vital services you need always respond when you dial 911; May you agree with me on health care, or this baby sloth dies;
May your exploits never end up on a This Day In Stupid History® list; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 A drunk/high and disgruntled neighbor threw a large rock at me when I was in my apartment kitchen. The rock broke the dining area window and hit me, bruising my leg.
 Nor did they seem concerned that they did not get to “choose” their firefighters and EMTs…who got pretty up close and personal with my mother when she broke her pelvis and vertebrae when she fell getting out of the bathtub.
 Final death count unknown; others died later, off the battlefield, of their wounds.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.
Department Of How To Talk To An Obscene Phone Caller
Dateline: Monday eve, post dinner. Feeling nostalgic (or just too lazy to flip channels), MH and I tune in to the end of Wheel of Fortune, just in time to see the winner getting to choose the category from which her “bonus” puzzle will be chosen (categories may include Things; What are you doing?; Food and Drink; Places; People….). The night’s winner chooses the category, What are you wearing?
That’s weird, MH muses aloud. That category could be interpreted as a question from an obscene phone caller.
Moiself was beyond gratitude for MH’s observation, because it brought back a memory I hadn’t thought of in years.
“Pat, I’d like to buy a vowel….”
Arguably the only obscene phone call  I ever received  happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…specifically, one Friday afternoon between 2-3 pm, at the private OB/GYN practice where I worked.
Background info (which figures into the story, trust me):
* The practice belonged to a doctor (“Dr. B”  ) and nurse practitioner (“NP”), who on Fridays saw patients until noon or 1pm and took the rest of the afternoon off. The practice remained open until 5pm for staff to return and make phone calls, notify patients of test results, ready the office for the next week’s patients, etc.
* The practice had two telephone numbers – one which was listed/public (for patients, pharmacists, hospitals, other doctors…) and an “inside line” which was private, its number known and used by staff only. If the private line rang on a Friday afternoon it was typically a call from Dr. B, more rarely NP, asking for clarification of something from a patient’s chart, or would I please check to see if he’d left ____ at the office, or call in a prescription for Ms. ____ or reschedule the Tuesday morning surgery of Ms. ____ …..
* I had a very warm, congenial, and joking relationship with Dr. B and NP. 
That particular Friday had been very busy – the morning slipped into the afternoon before I’d even had a chance to look at the clock and realize that the last patient had left over an hour ago and I hadn’t taken a lunch break. I hadn’t seen Dr. B or NP in a couple of hours and figured they must have left while I was readying the ultrasound room for the amniocentesis which was scheduled first thing Monday morning, or perhaps when I was helping the pharmaceutical rep who’d stopped by to restock our samples shelves. Dr. B and NP never left without saying goodbye, so when the inside phone line rang I picked it up, figuring it was Dr. B calling to wish me a good weekend. The male on the line spoke in the voice Dr. B sometimes assumed – a muffled, drawn-out, dopey tone – when Dr. B was imitating a drunken doctor, or asking me to repeat information he found to be implausible or just plain silly.
Unidentified Male: Hellllooooo?
Moiself: Well,howdy! Where’d you get off to?
Unidentified Male: Hellllooooo… (and something else I couldn’t quite hear).
Moiself: Yeah, I’m here. What’s up?
Unidentified Male: What are you wearing?
Moiself: Oh, you know me – just the usual golfing attire.
Unidentified Male: (heavy breathing, moaning and panting ensues…)
At that moment I espied a most quizzical-looking Dr. B standing in front of me across the desk counter, one eyebrow raised in a Mr. Spock-like fashion. According to the office manager I stomped my foot and gave the telephone receiver quite the double take when I realized it was not Dr B on the other end of the line. I slammed down the receiver and ran to the nearby patient’s bathroom, where I washed my hands while alternately laughing and shrieking EEEEEWWWWWWW – I feel dirty! as I told Dr. B and the office manager about the phone call.
Neither the office manager nor Dr. B ever let me forget the incident. When for whatever reasons the office manager wanted to cut me down to size  she’d find an excuse to say to a patient, “Robyn enjoys talking to obscene phone callers.” As for the good Dr. B, every now and then and seemingly apropos of nothing he would look at me and say, “just the usual golfing attire?”
If this don’t stiffen your putter I don’t know what will.
* * *
Department Of Conundrum Of The Ages
Dateline: Saturday, August 17.
Facebook: Let ____ know you are thinking of her on her birthday today!
Moiself: But, I’m not!
But wait – technically I am because of the Facebook notice; that is, I’m thinking about the fact that I’m not thinking about it, which of course means that even for a moment I am thinking about it….
Department Of Without Eternal Vigilance It Could Happen In Your Neighborhood
A friend turned that age this week  Which got me to wonder if there have been any Beatles fans who are so dangerously obsessive devoted that they insisted their grandchildren be named Vera, Chuck, and Dave?
* * *
May you not be plagued with “When I’m 64” videos when you have that auspicious birthday; May you remember, when you turn 64 and friends play “When I’m 64” for you,
to react as if you had NO IDEA that might happen; May friends and loved ones remember your birthday sans social media prompts; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Obscene Telephone Call – is that even a thing anymore? For y’all who are too young to remember, an obscene phone call is a telephone call made to an unknown and/or unsuspecting victim, wherein the caller uses deception to gradually or suddenly pose questions about or make statements using explicit sexual imagery/suggestions and/or obscene language. The caller’s aim is to get the unsuspecting respondent to listen to material of an explicitly sexual nature, from which the caller derives sexual satisfaction.
 Hoist your goblets, you who know what to do (certain friends invented a drinking game where one must take a sip of a [preferably alcoholic] beverage whenever moiself tells a DR. B story.
 Who were married to each other…although many of their patients didn’t know this, as they had different surnames.
 She sometimes gave off the vibe that she was envious of my collegiate relationship with our employers.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.
Department Of Memories Apropos Of Nothing, Which Nevertheless Arise In The Middle Of The Night
Dateline: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I worked in an OB/GYN practice near Stanford Hospital.
Moiself had been with the practice about four months, and had begun to be familiar with the regular patients and would often know, without having to look at their chart, what they were in for (when they had an appointment) or what they were calling for.
We had a patient from Persia – i.e. Iran  – who had been trying to get pregnant, without success, for almost a year, and she and her husband had begun the initial rounds of fertility testing. One morning we received a phone call from the husband. The office manager answered the call and handed it off to moiself, since I was the health educator/medical assistant. The man’s English was very heavily-accented; I had to ask him three times to repeat his name. The office manager recognized the name when I spoke it aloud – Mr. Mizrahi, what may I help you with? Excuse me, what was that? She listened to the brief conversation with increasing shock and disbelief and waved her arms to get my attention as I walked toward the massive Wall of Charts ®, searching for the wife’s records. The office manager had surmised what Mr. Mizrahi was calling about; she banged her forehead against her desk when she heard me say, to a man who was asking for the results of his semen analysis,
* * *
Department Of Deja Vu All Over Again
Every morning at breakfast I do a cryptogram puzzle  from my Cryptogram-A-Day Book. This particular book of cryptograms consists of thoughts from philosophers, scientists, and other “great thinkers,” and proverbs and adages and sayings from the fables of Aesop to the koans of Zen Buddhism. Twice within four days, my first thought, upon solving the respective quotes for August 4 and August 8, was, “Gee, I wonder why this one reminds me of #45? 
“The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.” Thomas Carlyle
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something.” Plato
* * *
Department Of Things That Make Me Sad
“New technologies – robots, software, artificial intelligence – have already destroyed more than 4 million US jobs, and in the next 5-10 years, they will eliminate millions more. A third of all American workers are at risk of permanent unemployment. And this time, the jobs will not come back.” (Andrew Yang, former lawyer and internet/healthcare/education entrepreneur, philanthropist, founder of Venture For America, and Democratic presidential candidate)
Check out, if you haven’t already, the Andrew Yang For President website. Specifically, check out the menu heading for his policies. Yang has the most detailed proposals on the widest variety of issues that I’ve ever seen from any (would-be) public servant, from reducing student loan burden to campaign finance reform to modernizing military spending to “reverse boot camp” for returning GIs to border security and immigration reform…so many, that they are divided into topical groups:
Unlike so many other candidates (and this is, I’m sure, directly related to his background in business and education and NOT politics), Yang just doesn’t have call out problems, he offers solutions, which he backs with evidence.
I first heard of Yang in January, when he was interviewed on the Freakonomics podcast “Why Is This Man Running For President?” (#362, 1-9-19). He reminds me of a Paul Revere figure, riding through the streets and calling out to us…essentially alone…because no one else sees that The British Are Coming – in this case, “The British” are, among other issues, the impending crisis re jobs lost to AI/robots and automation. Yang’s clear-headed reasoning and innovative (yet common sense, when you think about it) proposals got me to change my mind on the UBI (Universal Basic Income) concept – a concept that is so misunderstood and therefore unlikely to fly with the Average Joe ®  that Yang himself tacitly acknowledges this by calling his proposal the “Freedom Dividend.”
So, whence the department of things that make me sad? Because I know what’ll likely happen. When people from outside the Republican-Democrat duopoly , people with valuable experience, clear thinking, fresh ideas re complicated dilemmas, and no history of entangled agendas analyze our questions and offer feasible answers, we tend to dismiss them as dreamers and their ideas as impractical. We say we want people who’ll tell us the truth and find bold yet workable solutions, but it seems most of us really can’t handle it.
* * *
Department Of Things That Make Me Sad In Ways That The Word Sad Just Can’t Cut It
August 3, another day, another mass shooting, another long time/treasured friend suffers the death of a child…
Wait, WTF was that?!?!?!
How shamefully easy it is for moiself to be so matter-of-fact about the former and so distraught by the latter. The mass shooting (excuse me, make that plural) last week barely registered in my mind as I was trying to comprehend the shock and grief of dear, longtime friend SGD, as she and her husband and daughter mourn the unexpected death of their 28 year old son and brother.
Remember, I told son K and daughter Belle, although I’m usually not a stickler about most Life Things ®, please get this Rule Of Life thing correct: you’re supposed to bury us, not the other way around.
May we remember to talk only when we have something to say; May we not ask for the truth unless we are prepared to deal with it; May we all, once again and forever, remember to love ’em while we got ’em; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 During that time (mid-late 1980s), due to the volatile US-Iran political relations – or just a strong cultural preference – people from Iran would often refer to themselves as Persian, rather than as Iranian.
 A cryptogram in this sense is a word puzzle consisting of a short piece of coded text – substitution cypers, where each letter is replaced by a different letter.
 Aka D—– tRump, our Commander in Disbelief Chief.
 My favorite category, which includes such topics as “The Penny Makes No Cents” (the reasons, from environmental to practical, to get rid of pennies), “Robo-calling Text Lines” (a one step method to report Robo Callers to the FCC), and “Making Taxes Fun”….
 a Joe that is likely to reconsider UBI when he loses his retail/truck driving job to online shopping/self-driving trucks and robots and drones and….
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook 9at least) one recipe from one book.
The real reason behind the total ban on abortion in Alabama and other backward misogynist shithole legislatures states, or so political strategists on both sides of the aisle tell us, is to set up a challenge in SCOTUS for Roe v. Wade. State legislators know their draconian laws will be struck down by state judges as unconstitutional; thus, the hoped-for trip to up the judicial ladder to SCOTUS chambers.
But so-called real reasons often leave real people and their real stories in the dustbin of history. I will share some of those stories in this post: a series of vignettes, in no particular chronological order, from my time working in women’s reproductive health care. The stories I have from those years are legion; I’ll attempt both restraint and discretion in relating a just few of them. 
The last one still blows my mind, all these years later. If I were to write it up as a short story I’m sure literary journals would reject it (“Contrived plot,” the editor’s notes might read), but trust me, I’m not a skilled enough writer to have made it up. Once again, reality trumps fiction.
From the early 1980s – 90’s I worked for a Planned Parenthood (“PP”) clinic in a SoCal county, a private OB-GYN practice in the Bay Area, and Planned Parenthood clinics in a Bay Area county.
PP clinics provided services determined by geographic need. Example: because there were several other clinics in the county which performed abortions, the SoCal PP clinic provided a range of health care but referred patients seeking an abortion to those other clinics. Because there were few options in that same county for women needing colposcopy exams,  that PP set up a colposcopy clinic, the patients mainly coming via referrals from the county public health system.
The Doctor (“Doc”) at the OB-GYN office where I worked (“The Practice”) shared the practice with a nurse practitioner (“NP”). Their patients ranged from Silicon Valley execs to welfare recipients (but skewed toward the higher end of the economic spectrum). Doc infrequently performed first trimester abortions (~ four per year), at an offsite day surgery center (he was aware that many more of his patients had abortions, but went elsewhere for the procedure). He told me he didn’t like performing them (“It’s a sad situation, all around”), but what he didn’t like even more was the idea of abandoning his patients when they needed help.
The Bay Area county PP had four clinics in the county, three of which offered abortions services, one to three mornings per week. I worked initially at the main site’s STD screening clinic,  then at their abortion (AB) clinics.
We (The Practice’s Doc, NP, and I) developed a personal relationship  and had many interesting conversations on issues re women’s health care. Doc and NP were both staunchly pro-choice, Doc in particular due to his knowledge of what things were like before Roe v. Wade. He told me stories about The Bad Old Days, about how (surprise!) the rich could always get safe care, no matter what. Back in the late 50s – 60s when abortion was illegal, a Japanese airline had a clandestine (but procurable, if you knew the right people) package deal: the fare included flights to and from Tokyo from West Coast airports, overnight lodging in a Tokyo hotel, and the fee for an abortion performed by a Japanese doctor. Sympathetic American doctors whose desperate patients had no safe local alternatives would refer their patients to someone, who would refer them to someone else, who would refer them to…. 
One of The Practice’s OB patients, after a routine exam, asked Doc if he ever performed abortions. Although it was none of her %&!$ business (and moiself wanted him to tell her so) he answered honestly, while tactfully letting her know that he would not be steered down the anti-abortion harangue road she was heading for. After she’d left, Doc signaled to me to follow him to the office’s back room, where old/inactive patient files were kept.
As Doc searched through the files he told me about a former patient of his who’d sought an abortion, back when the procedure was illegal except for “medical reasons.” This woman had to go before a (male, of course) judge to get approval to have an abortion. Her physicians had to testify as to her mental and physical well-being, and they had lots of material: she had chronic health problems; was depressed to the point of suicide; her husband had left her and their three children…. She’d wanted to get her tubes tied after birthing her second child but could not find a doctor to do so – as per the standards of the time, hospitals would not book a sterilization surgery for a woman unless she met this weird algorithm (criteria included her age, the number of children she had, and other factors I can’t recall). She also needed her husband’s permission for the surgery, which he’d refused. 
The woman won her petition. At this point in the story Doc had found the patient’s chart, and showed me the transcript from her day in court. He snorted with disgust as he recalled how a grown-ass adult woman had to grovel and reveal highly personal information to male strangers who held power over her life. Doc re-filed the chart, the ever-present twinkle in his eyes absent as he said, “Don’t ever let it go back to that.”
* * *
The R- PP clinic site (Bay Area) performed abortions on Friday mornings. The R-PP had two recurrent anti-abortion protesters who hung out on the sidewalk by the clinic parking lot. They were an odd pair: an older woman with an imperious air, always impeccably dressed in a woolen suit, designer handbag matching her designer pumps, her chin-length white hair sprayed into a Doris Bay-type bob, and a tall, lanky young man with wild eyes and a shock of Conan O’Brien-ish, unruly red hair. I called them Snow Whiteand Big Red.
Dateline: A Friday am; the clinic had just opened, patients were in the waiting room filling out forms. One of the four clinic aides motioned for me and the other aides to follow her down the hallway. Looking out the clinic’s rear window, we saw “Consuela” outside, approaching Big Red.
Consuela, a native Mexican married to an American, was R-PP’s AB clinic manager. She was committed to providing reproductive care for Latinas, even as she admitted struggling with her work, due to her harsh Catholic upbringing. Consuela was kind and sweet-tempered, admired by PP’s staff and beloved by PP’s Latina patients, about whom she would tolerantly (but never patronizingly) educate us “white girl” clinic aides. She told us about the vagaries of the male-dominated culture Latina women had to endure, and the stories of her patients who’d had a horrifyingly experience common to impoverished Latinas entering the US were truly heartbreaking. The template: a woman’s husband summoned her to join him in the US after he’d found a job. He’d wired money to pay a coyote to escort her across the border, and during the journey the coyote raped her. Coyotes often assaulted women and girls with impunity and threatened their lives, knowing they’d be too frightened to tell the authorities or their husbands (sadly, Consuela said, even loving husbands were steeped in their culture’s machismo code, which cast a wife’s rape as a stain upon her husband’s honor…or as a cover for an affair).
Consuela would be in a certain mood I learned to identify – anger muted by melancholy – after working with a woman impregnated by coyote-rape. I often saw her, as her patient was leaving the clinic, slip the patient some money (“For bus fare,” Consuela would whisper in Spanish). 
Back to the sidewalk: Sweet, warm Consuela was also very, very shy. Thus, we (her fellow clinicians, staring out the window) were amazed to see her approach Big Red, speak to him for a few minutes, return to the clinic…and holy crap, Big Redis leaving the parking lot! When the clinic was finished (~ 1 pm) Consuela told me what she’d said to him (paraphrased here):
I know you are here because you think you are doing good, but there is something you need to know. Three weeks ago, there was a no-show at our clinic – that older Latina woman you thought you had talked out of having an abortion. Actually, she left when you confronted her because she was afraid of you; she speaks only a little English, and didn’t understand everything you had to say, only that you were a stranger, who knew nothing about her, trying to intimidate her into not having an abortion. She returned last week and had the procedure.
She may be poor and illiterate, but she is not stupid. When a woman makes such an important decision she considers all her options, and when she makes up her mind she is going to do whatever it takes. All you did was make her wait another two weeks; she had to be sick and stressed and distraught for another two weeks. That may not have been your intention, but that is what happened. You caused even more grief for her.
For several weeks after Consuela spoke to Big Red, Snow White was the lone protester outside the R-PP clinic.
* * *
I’m glad those days (when abortion was illegal) are passed. But I fear the younger generations have no memories of what happened and take their rights for granted, and those of us who lived in those times are dying out, and our stories will die with us. (paraphrased, from a conversation with Samuel Greenberg, M.D., PP-M physician)
Dr. Greenberg was an older gentleman, retired from his longtime OB-GYN practice, who worked several days a week at the PP main site (“PP-M”). “Dr. G” was the doctor I most often worked with at PP, and I came to admire his expertise, experience, humor, and compassion.
We talked often; Dr. G was concerned that when he and his peers died there’d be no one left to tell about The Bad Old Days, and that people might forget…. Sound familiar? Like many Jews of his age, he’d lost loved ones to the WWII concentration camps. His family’s experiences as Jews in non-Jewish cultures was one of the reasons, he said, he felt so strongly about his work at PP –– he knew first-hand what can happen when people have their rights abridged by those of differing beliefs.
When Dr. G was a young doctor in the 1950s, doing his OB-GYN residency rotations in two different urban Catholic hospitals, he saw and treated many women who showed up in a the hospitals’ ERs, gravely ill and/or dying from botched illegal or self-induced abortions. Yet he never *once* saw the attending physicians list complications from illegal abortion as the cause of death for a patient who had indeed died from that. On one such occasion, when Dr. G had the unhappy task of writing the “cause of death” on the patient’s chart, he challenged the doctor in charge who’d instructed Dr. G to write that the patient died of sepsis from an incomplete miscarriage. But, that’s a lie!Dr. G protested. – How can we, as doctors, lie about such a thing – people need to know, and the public health statistics will never reflect the reality…
Dr. G’s boss grabbed Dr. G by the elbow and steered him to the ER waiting room, pointing toward a sofa where the dead patient’s bereft husband and children sat. He then led Dr. G to an empty hallway and spoke to him, privately and sternly, about the hospital’s non-official policy re reporting abortion-related deaths: This is a Catholic hospital, with a mostly Catholic clientele. The truth will only bring further anguish, and shame, to a grieving family; also, since abortion is illegal, the police will have to be notified, and the hospital does not want its staff to get dragged into criminal investigations….
I will never forget the patience and kindness Dr. G showed toward all of the women we saw in the clinic, but in particular, to one recovering heroin addict. Like most addicts, she was hypersensitive to pain, and howled as if she’d been stabbed when I did a simple finger prick blood test to check her iron level. She’d asked for additional analgesics for her procedure, which less than 5% of patients requested and which the doctor had to approve and then administer intravenously. Due to her years of junkiedom, Dr. G couldn’t find a usable vein to inject the medication. I waited with an impatience I tried not to show, thinking thoughts for which I was later ashamed (What a whining wimp – suck it up lady, this is all from your own doing… you’ll be out of here in 10 minutes, and nobody else begs for drugs….), while Dr. G searched and searched, and searched again, and finally found a usable spot between her toes. After her surgery Dr. G spent additional time with her, holding her hand and encouraging her not to get down on herself or let this be another setback on her road to healing and sobriety.
* * *
In the PP clinics I saw a variety of women, from a wealthy Señora from Guadalajara whose IUD “slipped” while she and he husband were vacationing in the US, to a mother of four, in her late 40s and going through a bitter divorce (who’d had been told by a doctor that she’d gone through early menopause and couldn’t get pregnant), to the proverbial teenage girls who seem as if they can get pregnant just by standing downwind from a boy.
As per the coyote story, rape/incest victims were the saddest cases to see. Those included a preteen holding onto her mother with one hand and her stuffed animal with her other hand (accompanied by a police escort, to retrieve “evidence’ of the assault, evidence they hoped to use to prosecute the family member who’d raped the girl); a woman forcibly impregnated by her estranged, abusive husband (she was told  by a police officer that she couldn’t press rape charges because she was still married to her rapist), girls abused by their brothers/cousins/stepfathers/mom’s “new friend”/youth pastors….
And then there were those who’d been assaulted by non-related acquaintances – scenarios given a term I despise for its downplaying of the trauma it inflicts: Date rape.
During a patient’s intake procedure we reviewed her medical history, and one of the questions we asked was, What kind of contraception were you using when you became pregnant?That question was not posed to known rape victims, and was a particularly cutting one to hear for sexual assault victims who’d not yet told anyone what had happened to them. One patient, her tough chick attitude failing to mask her nervousness, threw her hands up in the air and laughed bitterly when I asked that question. Nothing; I was using nothing! Can you believe that the guy my friend set me up with, the guy who choked me until I passed out, didn’t have the decency to put on a condom before he raped me?! 
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Big Bad Wolves are not always so obvious, Little Red Riding Hood.
She was not my patient; I’d finished my first intake and was on my way to place my patient’s chart in the surgical queue. She stood in the hallway outside the clinic’s bathroom, holding her urine sample cup, fidgeting in a way I’d come to recognize as a woman trying to convince herself to pee when she didn’t have to go. She was dressed like a 1950s secretary, with a pleated plaid skirt and a faded, rose red cardigan sweater. She looked sweetly anachronistic, nervous, and shy.
“Let me guess,” I pointed toward the empty cup she held. “It seems like you have to go every five minutes, then when you need to go, you can’t?”
Exactly! She flashed me a puppy-eyed look of gratitude. Kelly, my, uh, intake lady, left me here; she needed to talk with a nurse or something. It might take awhile before I can…she looked askance at the empty cup in her hand.I shouldn’t have gone at my mom’s, before we came here.
I offered to get her a glass of water, and as I walked her back to her intake room she told me how out of place she felt. I can tell I’m the oldest girl here. It’s so embarrassing.She lowered her voice. I’m twenty-seven.
“I’m thirty-one,” I said. “I win!”
She blushed, and told me she hadn’t meant the age of the staff, but rather “the girls”she’s seen in the waiting room, whom she assumed were, like her, there for an abortion, but unlike her, were probably not virgins… I mean, were virgins, until….
I stopped before entering the intake room, where her mother sat. Sweet Twenty-Seven-Year-Old-Former-Virgin looked at me imploringly. Can you come in and talk with me?
I said I’d love to, and asked if it would be okay to talk in front of her mother. She assured me it was. I sat down with the two of them, and STSYOFV began to spill her guts.
STSYOFV had flown out from Kentucky, where she’d gone to college and where she lived now. Her mother was helping out, paying for the abortion – STSYOFV didn’t want to have it done where she lived, in case any of her friends and especially her church friends found out…well, I really don’t have any friends besides church friends…
As STSYOFV told it, her life revolved around an evangelical church where she was a member of the choir. STSYOFV ‘s mother discretely shook her head and gave me a look.
STSYOFV said she loved choral music; her church choir met for practice several times a week…and what they would think of me, if they knew where I was now. I know what I’m doing is wrong in their sight, but my they’d disown me if I was pregnant out of wedlock and I know all my options and everyone here is so nice about reminding me but I wish they’d stop asking I don’t need adoption or pregnancy referrals I know what I’m doing and I can’t bear being pregnant it would destroy me and how could I be was so stupid and ignorant and naïve to stay a virgin until 27 and then get pregnant the first and only time…I feel felt guilty but I’m going to do it anyways, I tried a few home remedies, even thought if I threw myself down the stairs…
My eyes widened at the remark, and STSYOFV’s mother gasped. STSYOFV assured us both that she’d chickened out; I made her laugh when I told her that a miscarriage caused by falling down the stairs only happens in the movies.
Lawdy, Miss Scarlett!
My eyes flitted back and forth, from STSYOFV to her mother, who mostly remained silent while her daughter talked. The mother’s unwavering love for STSYOFV was evident to me, as was her disapproval of the church her daughter had gotten involved with.
STSYOFV said she hadn’t even intended to have sex…I hope god will forgive me but I am going to do this, or if he can’t forgive me, at least I hope he won’t hate me. If they only knew…they all think I’m a nice person….
“Then that’s one thing they’re right about – you are a nice person.” I placed my hand over STSYOFV’s. She grasped my hand with both of hers, her eyes moist with gratitude. Although a (closeted, at that time) non-believer, I attended a liberal Christian church, and knew what STSYOFV needed to hear. I assured her that her god, that no one, could ever hate her.
STSYOFV smiled at me through her tears.I wish you would be doing my intake, and be with me during the procedure. Kelly is nice, but she’s so young.
Actually, Kelly is 26, I thought to myself. I also thought about how STSYOFV, with her gentle, desperate naivete and high voice, seems like a 12 year-old in a 27 year-old’s body.
I told STSYOFV I had another patient to help, but promised I’d check on her after her procedure. She hugged me, and said she’d like that.
STSYOFV was the last patient to see the doctor, and when she was out of the recovery room she, her mother and I had a heartfelt conversation before they left the clinic. I assured STSYOFV re how much she had going for her – she was young, strong- spirited and good-hearted, with a wonderful mother who loved and supported her…
She is the best.STSYOFV gazed lovingly at her mother. And she says she won’t let me pay her back, for lending me money for the plane tickets and everything.
“Speaking of which…” I hesitated. “What about the guy who got you pregnant? Why isn’t he helping you with this, or at least paying?”
Oh, no, that would ruin him.STSYOFV shook her head, sadly yet vehemently. While her mother’s mama bear eyes blazed with rage on behalf of her daughter, STSYOFV told me that the man who’d seduced her was her choir director. He was older, married and with children, and active in the church’s pro-life demonstrations. When she went to him with news of her pregnancy he warned her to not to tell anyone, and told her to “take care of it,” and so STSYOFV had swallowed her pride and telephoned her mother….
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Department Of This One Takes The Cake Aka If I Hadn’t Seen It With My Own Eyes….
I lost track of how many times an AB clinic patient laughed and said, “Until it happened to me, I was against abortion. That” – the patient would indicate the clinic’s entrance, referring to the protesters outside – “might have been me a couple of months ago.” I’d smile, say, “We hear that a lot,” and do my best not to reveal that I didn’t find her admission – that she’d have supported taking away other women’s autonomy until “it” happened to her – to be amusing.
PP-M had a semi-regular group of protesters who demonstrated outside the clinic’s front entrance. (I never saw them; I parked in the employee lot at the back of the clinic and entered and left through the back door.) Other PP-M employees became quite familiar with the protesters, who were part of some Catholic group led by a perky blond in her mid-thirties. The Vice President (“Veep”) of PP-M went out of her way to befriend the protesters. Veep was an ex-Catholic, and would go outside and chat with the protesters during her coffee breaks, sometimes joining them in reciting The Rosary. On sweltering summer days Veep carried cups of water out to the protesters – one day she even brought them lemonade – and on more than one cold winter morning I heard a fellow clinic aide good-naturedly grouse about how She ( meaning, Veep) is out there, serving them hot cocoa, can you believe it?
Dateline: one memorable Monday, ~ 8 am, at the PP-M AB clinic. As I reached for the first chart in the intake pile, “Cindy,” the clinic’s assistant manager, whisked the chart out of my hand. “I don’t believe this,” Cindy hissed. She motioned for me to follow her to the reception office, where she and the receptionist stared through the bullet-and-sound-proof plate glass window to the waiting room, and traded incredulous remarks back and forth:
I don’t believe it – can you believe it? That can’t be her…no, it is her…this is got to be a joke…a plant…a set up…no – look at the chart, it is!….
I asked, What’s up? Cindy told me that Perky Blonde Anti-Abortion Protest Leader was in the waiting area, with her 15 year old daughter, whom she’d brought in for an abortion.
“I am doing this intake,” Cindy announced. As her WTF?!?! expression morphed into that of Compassionate Health Care Worker, she opened the door to the waiting area and called PBAAPL and her daughter back to an intake room.
It was a busy morning; I didn’t get to talk with Cindy until after the clinic was over, when all four of us clinic aides gathered around Cindy to ask, What the heck….?Cindy told us that she’d started the intake as usual – she led PBAAPLW and her daughter back to a private intake room, then asked the daughter to give a urine specimen. While the daughter was in the bathroom, Cindy introduced herself to PBAAPL, and the following conversation (paraphrased) ensued:
Cindy: I need to tell you something. I recognize you, from the protesters outside. If this makes you or your daughter uncomfortable, you can request another…
PBAAPL: Oh no; thank you. You’ll be fine.
Cindy: Okay. Uh…now I’m speaking for me, personally, not on behalf of Planned Parenthood. I can’t help but wonder, what are you doing here?
PBAAPL: Well, my daughter got in trouble, you know? And you people here are all so nice, I knew you’d take good care of her.
Imagine, if you will, the sound of four jaws simultaneously dropping to the clinic’s tile floor.
PBAAPL skipped the protests for the next two weeks (there were a few demonstrators who showed up, and only for one day, during PBAAPL’s absence). After she brought her daughter in for the girl’s post surgery exam, PBAAPL returned to leading the protests, trying to deny other women’s daughters the “good care” she’d sought for her own.
The excursion returns next week, having been temporarily grounded this week, due to the appetite-quashing political upheavals which prompted this post.
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Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 We didn’t have HIPAA laws then; still, I’ve altered all names and a few geographical details for privacy’s sake.
 A colposcopy is a procedure to closely examine a woman’s cervix for signs of disease, using a special instrument (colposcope). The procedure is most often done due to the woman having an abnormal pap smear, and may be followed by a cervical biopsy.
 I worked primarily at two PP clinics in the county, and twice at a third PP clinic.
 Which continued after I left the practice and which exists to this day.
 I later heard about this same service from another doctor who was Doc’s age.
 Yep, that’s right – he knocked her up a third time, and then abandoned her and their children.
 A coyote is a man who makes a living smuggling migrants across the US-Mexico border.
 Consuela and her husband ( who was still in college) were far from wealthy, and had two children of their own to support. It probably violated some kind of clinic policy to give money, even your own, voluntarily, to patients; I always saw her look around furtively when she did so.
 Erroneously, I believe, although I don’t know the status of the marital rape laws in California at that time.
 I stopped the intake immediately and got the patient to speak with someone from PP’s counseling/education department. She was over 18; we couldn’t force her to go to the police, and she refused our advice to do so (she said she’d known someone that had the same thing happen and “was raped again by the cops” (i.e. they didn’t believe her ). After her procedure we set her up with referrals for individual counseling and a rape crisis center…I have no idea if she ever followed through with those contacts.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.
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.