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The N-Joke I’m Not Telling

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Department Of We’d All Understand If They Banned Lutefisk Immigration

“Between 1825 and 1925, over 850,000 Norwegians entered the United States. In those hundred years, around one-third of Norway’s population crossed the Atlantic.
Other than Ireland no other European country lost a larger proportion of its population to out-migration.”

(from “Why bestemor never taught you Norwegian– Norwegian immigrants to the US had it easier than many from other countries, but still faced xenophobic pressure—and legislation—that forced assimilation,” The Norwegian American, January 12, 2018)

It was interesting for moiself to come across that quote this week. The majority of my ancestors were from Ireland and Norway – does this mean I’m the product of double native-population-reducing out-migration?

Anyone of Norse ancestry might enjoy reading the entire article. It contains snippets of history/facts I’ve run across before, from various sources, but, like a bucket of pickled herring, it’s nice to have a lot of it corralled in one source.  [1]

 

 

irishnorse

 

 

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Department Of The Elephant (Still) In The Room

Disclaimer: That Was Not A Thinly (ha ha) Disguised Oprah Weight Joke

 

The Secret is not only drivel—it’s pernicious drivel. The obvious question that arises from its claim that it’s easy to get what you want, is: Why (then) do so many people get what they don’t want?  As (The Secret’s author) writes, “Imperfect thoughts are the cause of all humanity’s ills, including disease, poverty, and unhappiness.” Yes, according to The Secret, people don’t just randomly end up being massacred, for example. They are in the wrong place because of their own lousy thinking. Cancer patients have long been victims of this school of belief. But The Secret takes it to a new and more repulsive level with its advice not just to blame people for their illness, but to shun them, lest you start being infected by their bummer thoughts, too.
(from “I’ve Got The Secret: What happened when I followed the best-selling book’s advice for two months,” Emily Yoffe, slate.com 5-7-2007)

 

Bear with me – the above excerpt will be relevant in a paragraph or two.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

Seeing as how the average American’s attention span in minutes is inversely proportional to their waist size in inches, perhaps the Oprah For President meme is already a thing of the past. In case it isn’t….

Indeed, Oprah Winfrey’s sermon speech at the Golden Gloves Awards was stirring. Add that to her list of multi-faceted-if-eponym-centric  [2]   professional accomplishments, and I can understand the desire many people have re a draft-Oprah for president movement. Certainly, the wish for someone at the nation’s helm who is articulate and compassionate is a sincere one, and since the bar has been set so low…if one reality TV star masquerading as a successful businessperson can “win” [3] the Presidency, why not another TV star who actually is a successful businessperson?

 

 

confusedspock

Your point, although problematic, is a logical one.

 

 

But.  There is a really big but here.  [4]

On the one hand, Ms. Winfrey has built quite the media empire. She is obviously and exceptionally experienced and talented in the fields of media/broadcasting, TV and movie producing (and acting), and is known for her philanthropy. She has the proven ability to inspire and motivate her audience, and her rags-to-riches, self-made success story is appealing across a wide political and cultural spectrum. From what I know of how she runs her “empire,” should she ascend to a position of politician power I think it likely she would surround herself with a good advisers in the various fields over which she had jurisdiction, and actually and actively seek their input.

On the other hand…you have different fingers.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

Sorry.  [5]

On the other hand, Oprah’s other fingers have a long history of supporting, or at least giving voice to (and thus, in many minds, credence) what can only be called dangerous batshit crazy bullshit generously be called, junk science.  I am far from the only person who is concerned about this tendency of hers.

During her 25-year reign as host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah repeatedly showed a weakness for crackpots and quack medical theories. One could even argue that she’s one of the most powerful enablers of cranks on the planet.
(“Oprah’s long history with junk science –
She may be the most powerful crank enabler on the planet.” Vox 1/9/2018)

From The Secret and its odious – and deadly –   “law of Attraction” horseshit, to huckster “medical” “experts” (we have Oprah to thank for doctors Oz’s and Phil’s media careers,) to anti-vaccine mouth foamers  to carnival trickster/faith healers (remember the forceps-up-your-nose-cancer-cure faith healer, “John of God,” ? ).

So you’ll excuse me if I don’t jump on the Oprah Winfrey bandwagon for 2020. Even if there wasn’t all that credulity towards New Age bullshit like The Secret, I’d still say that replacing one celebrity with no government experience with another celebrity with no administrative experience is not the way to get out of the era of Trump. (The same goes for you, too, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!) That Oprah is not a hateful person compared to Donald Trump is not enough, particularly given that she’s almost as bad on science and critical thinking as he is.
(from the science-promoting,  pseudoscience/misinformation/conspiracy theory-exposing blog, Respectful Insolence, 1-9-2018)

 

believe

 

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Department Of The Other N Word

There is an N-word I can use, because I’m one of them. How delighted I am to be able to tell the rare, Norwegian-Irish joke.

A Norwegian and an Irishman apply for the same job at a firm in Dublin. Both the Irishman and the Norwegian do so well in the interview the boss can’t decide who to hire, so he sets up a small aptitude test. Both men score the same: 19/20 correct. After some consideration the boss calls the Irishman into his office and says, “I’m sorry, although you both scored the same on the test, we’ve decided to hire the Norwegian.”

“Surely, me being Irish would mean you would give the job to me instead of a foreigner!” The Irishman rants on and on about looking after the locals etc.

“It’s like this,” the boss replies. “We didn’t make the decision based on how many answers you got right…’

The Irishman, still angry, interrupts the boss. “But we both got only one wrong answer.”

“It’s not how many wrong answers you got,” the boss calmly continues, “It’s the particular answers you both gave to question #7.  The Norwegian wrote, ‘I don’t know’ as his answer. Your answer was, ‘Neither do I.'”

*   *   *

Of course, the ultimate Norwegian joke is that they are not Swedish.

 

 

swedishdeathjpg

*   *   *

 

 

May you always be mindful of the other hand;
May you be judicious in your own use of your own N-word and N-jokes;
May we all dare hope for a non-celebrity 2020 Presidential candidate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] So you know whom to blame.

[2] It’s so bizarre, how everything in her world has to have her name: The Oprah show; O magazine (with her O-ness pictured on every cover; OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network)….

[3] Except that, he didn’t actually win…only the shameful relic from our past, the embarrassing, slave-state appeasing Electoral College constitutional provision, allowed the Cheetos Hitler to assume #45-ness.

[4] Not another veiled Oprah weight joke here, and shame of you for even thinking that.

[5] No, I’m not.

The Bullet List I’m Not Embracing

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Department Of Things That Make Me Want To Slap Somebody

Aka: Don’t you hate it when those you admire use the same tactics as those you loathe?

IMHO everyone, sooner or later, needs to realize that their idols have feet of clay. Easy for me to say, since I have no idols.  I do have people whom I admire, including he-of-the-many-slash-attributes, British evolutionary biologist/professor/writer Richard Dawkins, for his science advocacy, even as I have not overlooked his, shall we say, weaker points.  [1] But a recent social media posting of his…

 

 

 

On January 2, Dawkins’ Foundation For Reason And Science posted a bullet list on Facebook. Using what I took to be a riff on a New Year’s resolution list, eight declarative statements were posted under the heading:

Embrace conclusions based on evidence.  Still true in 2018!

 The statements included several of what should be no-brainers, including

* Homeopathy is water
* Humans are causing global warming.
* The earth is not flat

But I was shocked to see this one as #4 on the list:

* Organic food is not healthier

WTF ?!?!?!?  Really ?!?!?!? Organic food is not healthier.

That was the statement, in its entirety.  And it frosted my entire butt.

Healthier than or as compared with…what? And “healthier” defined as/in terms of…what?

There is no exposition in the Foundation’s list, which seems written to be eye-catching, sound-bite worthy, pithy, gotcha proclamation. But that tactic, when it is employed by creationists and other anti-science/pro-woo/religious conservatives, is rightly criticized by Dawkins and other pro-science advocates, who point out that their opponents speak in generalizations, do not define their terms and use reductionist, simplistic reasoning.

I am p.o.’d at both Dawkins and the Foundation, who advise folks to embrace conclusions based on evidence and then make such a dick, evidence-ignoring statement as, Organic food is not healthier.

 

 

 

beanhuh

They said what?

 

 

 

I’ve seen videos/read transcript excerpts of science advocates taking on, say, climate change deniers, in debates or other public forums, and one of the first things they – or any rational debater – will do is to insist that the participants define their terms.

Organic food is not healthier…for ___ whom? For me? For my allergy-prone Aunt Erva? For silicon-based life forms? There is an unstated object in that declaration. And, Healthier”  – to what aspects, measures and scales of health and does this declaration infer?  Having previously encountered similar organic food soundbites by (self-described) rational thinkers, I’m guessing/assuming that the Foundation’s use of healthier refers to a food’s specific nutrient content; e.g., an organically grown plum tomato contains no more lycopene than a “conventionally” grown plum tomato; an organic strawberry has no more Vitamin C than a conventionally grown strawberry.

A momentary digression, if you will:  [2] how odd to use that label, as it is only relatively recently in the history of agriculture that conventional refers to plants grown with the aid of non-organic/synthesized fertilizers and pesticides.  Despite its name, today’s “conventional” agricultural methods have only been in development since the late 1800’s and did not become widespread until after World War II.  [3]  What was once conventional – farming and ranching sans non-organic/synthesized fertilizers and pesticides  – is now called organic.

So, where were we? An organic strawberry has no more vitamin C than a conventionally grown strawberry (with its residue of up to 45 pesticides residue, as per by the USDA).

That is a true statement.

It is also a narrowly-focused, blinkered, missing the fucking point/ignoring the evidence statement. For either and all you s, organic food is “healthier,” for us all, even for those who’ve never eaten an organic strawberry, in so many ways that have nothing to do with nutrition/RDA content.  A Foundation whose name touts “reason” should know about the plethora of reasons, based on evidence, why organically raised food is healthier, for us all.

Neurological disorders, contaminated drinking water, nutrient-depleted habitats and global warming don’t give a rat’s ass about Vitamin C content.  Fuck the Vitamin C content.

 

 

astonishedspock

That would seem to be an anatomical impossibility. Nevertheless, I am interested in your arguments.

 

 

 

Defining the terms, once again:

Conventional agriculture = farming systems which utilize synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides.  Organic farming (aka sustainable agriculture or permaculture) = farming which relies on crop rotation, animal and plant manures as fertilizers, some hand weeding and biological pest control.

Food produced under the latter system, aka organic food, is healthier for you, in many ways and with regard to many factors, including but not limited to:

* Runoff and leaching from non-organic farm and ranch lands pollutes rivers, streams and groundwater, contributes to habitat disintegration for trout and salmon and other aquatic species, and contaminates our drinking water supply.

“Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
(What Is Farm Runoff Doing To The Water? Scientists Wade In, NPR, All Things Considered)

 

* There is no Plan B – or rather, Planet B – when it comes to where we live. The “environment” is our home. What would you think of someone who shat in his kitchen sink and then used the sink to brine his Thanksgiving turkey?  [4]  The environmental costs of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides include:

“… wholesale pollution of most of our streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and even coastal areas, as these synthetic chemicals run-off into the nearby waterways.”
(How Fertilizers Harm Earth More Than Help Your Lawn: Chemical runoff from residential and farm products affects rivers, streams and even the ocean,
Scientific American)

* Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, rodenticides and fungicides) are a public health concern.  Synthetic pesticides are known to cause poisoning, infertility and birth defects, as well as damage to the nervous system. Some are known carcinogens.

* The use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides poses dangers to humans working with or in proximity to the same, via exposure through the pesticides’ application and the harvesting and handling of the plants to which the pesticides are applied.

Pesticide exposure causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and, illnesses than any other workforce in the nation.
(Pesticide Safety, Farmworkers Justice)

Parkinson’s Disease, anybody? This devastating, progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disorder has multiple suspected causes, one of the strongest links being pesticide exposure.

“The data confirm it: farmers are more prone to Parkinson’s than the general population. And pesticides could be to blame. Over a decade of evidence shows a clear association between pesticide exposure and a higher risk for the second most common neurodegenerative disease…”
(Parkinson’s Disease and Pesticides: What’s the Connection? Scientific American),

Even without direct consumption of pesticides – let’s say I diligently wash and peel my carrots and never lick an unwashed, Thiabendazole   [5]-dipped apple, pesticides still have many routes of introduction in to human and animal tissues.

“Within a human or animal body, pesticides may be metabolized, excreted, stored, or bioaccumulated in body fat. The numerous negative health effects that have been associated with chemical pesticides include…dermatological, gastrointestinal, neurological, carcinogenic, respiratory, reproductive, and endocrine effects.”
(Chemical Pesticides and Human Health: The Urgent Need for a New Concept in Agriculture, Frontiers in Public Health, US National Library of Medicine)

* The production, and distribution and use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides contribute to and exacerbate global warming.

Some pesticides produce volatile organic compounds that pollute the atmosphere when they react with other chemicals. This reaction produces tropospheric ozone, which…traps in heat….The base chemicals that are used to create pesticides can be harmful to the environment even before they are combined with other chemicals to create pesticides. For example, nitrogen oxide is a gas that blocks sunlight and traps heat. The legislature body of Roxbury declared in its laws, “Nitrogen-based fertilizers release unnatural amounts of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere causing the greenhouse effect which results in further global warming.”
(The Effects of Pesticides on Global Warming, greenscience.com )

 

 

DUH

Don’t make me cite even more face-palming evidence.

 

 

“Embrace conclusions based on evidence.” – Yes, that would be nice of you to do so. Organic food is healthier, for us all.

 

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Department Of I Have Her Permission To Post About This

The joys of listening to your children babble in a post-surgical,  [6] pain-medicated, happy voice are not to be underestimated. How MH and I wish we’d thought to record son K on his ride home from the oral surgeon’s office, those many years ago.  We remembered to do so when it came Belle’s turn to have her wisdom teeth removed, and although she had some random non sequiturs of note, at least (to our knowledge) she did not propose to her nurse:

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve discovered that opportunities for the gathering of anesthesia-induced babbling memories do not fade with age, and are perhaps even more enjoyable when your children are young adults. Last Friday afternoon, Belle underwent a procedure which required general anesthesia. After MH and I were allowed to see her in the post-op recovery room, I did not record her ramblings (Belle was with it enough to object to that), but did manage to take a few notes. There are some gems I know I missed, mostly because, I just wanted to be present to enjoy the stream of conscious moments caused by her brain only partially connecting with her mouth.

* “Is there boob PT? (After MH and I told Belle that the upper floors of the building she was in were dominated by Orthopedic surgeons and PTs -Psychical Therapists.)

*   “It stays on for THREE DAYS.” Belle pointed to the anti-nausea patch the anesthesiologist had placed on the side of her neck, then lowered her voice to a solemn whisper. “That’s a lotta days!”

* Belle said the nurses told her she was talking about bear heads (“Let me tell you about the grizzly bear head…”), and that they don’t get many people who talk about bear heads.   [7]

* “Do you remember when people were, like, in the future, everything will be chrome? It didn’t happen. I think they meant stainless steel.”

* Belle: “I’d like to be Spider-Man.”

moiself: “But you don’t like spiders.”

Belle: No sir, I do not. But, I appreciate spiders.”

*  “Seth Meyers is like a marshmallow, with good hair.”  [8]

While waiting for the nurse to remove her IV, Belle began to describe to MH and I, with great seriousness, how the cycle of banana mitosis and meiosis indicates that bananas can tell time. The morning after her surgery, I asked Belle if she remembered doing that. She said she didn’t, but that it’s no surprise because, “Actually, I talk about that a lot.”  [9]

 

 

 

carmen

Why carry a watch when you can just ask the banana on your head what time it is?

 

 

 

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Department Of But I Did *Not* Ask Her Permission To Post *This*

Dateline: Sunday eve. MH was out of town, so it was friend LH, son K, daughter Belle and moiself who comprised our  “movie” awards  night party, a family tradition (previously mentioned several times in this venue, including here and here) consisting of watching an entertainment awards show on TV (but only the “biggies” – the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes and Tonys) whilst dining on “movie food” (defined as hot dogs,  [10] popcorn, nachos,  Skittles and Junior Mints and Red Vines licorice and/or your favorite movie theatre candies and snacks, washed down with liberal amounts of a sparkling beverage).

After enjoying marshmallow man Seth Meyer’s witty opening monologue, we watched as the cameras focused on Nicole Kidman’s table when she rose to accept an acting award.

Belle (commenting on the person sitting next to Ms. Kidman) – “Wait, that’s…her husband? I thought it was a girl.”
Moiself: “That’s Keith Urban, her husband.”
Belle: “Keith who?”
K: He’s a country singer.”
Belle: (snorting in disgust and disbelief): “Nicole Kidman is married to a country singer?!”

 I began to explain why that might be so far-fetched, seeing as how Mr. Urban is a fellow countryman of Ms. Kidman’s.

Moiself: “Well, he’s Australian…”
Belle, interrupting: “Like that makes make it any better?”

 

*   *   *

May being Australian always make it better;
May you embrace conclusions based on evidence; even so…
May you never have to rely upon a banana to tell time;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Including his defending the “mild pedophilia” (physical and sexual abuse) he experienced at boarding school, and his combative and provocative social media comments .

[2] And I obviously will.

[3] see: Green RevolutionW

[4] Or maybe you’re not afraid of dining with my relatives?

[5] Research shows this commonly used fungicide can penetrate apple peels.

[6] This is contingent upon having surgery for something relatively minor, ala wisdom teeth removal.

[7] This one makes sense to me, and probably was not the non sequitur the nurses thought it to be: Belle has prepped stuffed and mounted a grizzly bear head in her work as a docent for her college’s natural history museum.

[8] I likely sparked that comment by mentioning that Seth Meyers was hosting the Golden Globe Awards show.

[9] She’s a Biology major.

[10] Mine vegan, but still….

The Resolutions I’m Not Dissing

Comments Off on The Resolutions I’m Not Dissing

I’ve come full circle, and perhaps another 45 degrees, on the whole New Year’s Resolutions Thing ®. As an adolescent I was intrigued by the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions – or at least I was the first time I heard an adult talking about it. Then in young adulthood  [1] I though, oh puhleeeease, what a crock. Whenever I was asked about my NYR’s I’d reply that I had already, several years ago, made the only resolution I’d ever kept: to never make another NYR.  [2]

 

 

 

NYR

 

 

Now, I think NYR are a fine idea. Yeah, resolve to “do better,” however and whenever you can and whatever that entails for you. Of course, you don’t have to wait for the start of a new year to do so, but after all, the world is full of arbitrary limits, guidelines and restrictions,   [3]   so what the heck.

Some of my resolutions for this year are more profound than others;  all shall remain private….

My New Year’s resolutions
(1) stop making lists
(B) aim for consistency
(4-C.7) review basic mathematics

 

…but for this seemingly hackneyed one which, if kept, has a good chance of turning out to be the most nourishing to body and psyche:

Have more fun.

 

 

 

fun

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Department Of Foodie Segue

 

☼  Roasted bell pepper and black-eyed pea fritters
☼  Corn muffins
☼  Mediterranean spiced collard greens

 

My New Year’s Day menu once again included a dish featuring black-eyed peas. I have done this for…decades, I guess. I do this in honor of my father and his heritage: specifically, his family’s tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day –  an act of culinary optimism which was supposed to bring good luck for the coming year.

 

 

BEPjpg

 

 

Despite consuming black-eyed peas every New Year’s day, my father’s family remained dirt poor sharecroppers.  [4]   Every year, as I bring whatever black-eyed pea dish I’m making to my family table, I can’t help but wonder: just once, did a brave soul in my father’s family– possibly his adored, spunky younger sister, Lucille – when presented with yet another bowl of black-eyed peas and the directive to, Eat up, y’all, it’ll bring us good luck in the coming year!, look around at the ramshackle farmhouse and her barefooted siblings  [5] and mutter, It still ain’t workin.’

 

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Department Of The Benefits Of Getting Up And Out Early In The Morning

At any time of the year, but especially in the winter, if you start walking before sunrise and pay attention,  [6] you are occasionally rewarded with a sight like the top (and only the top) leaves of a tree aglow as they are backlit by the rays of the rising sun.

 

 

amtreelights

 

 

 

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Department Of The Coop Is On The Loose

Another unforeseen benefit of an early morning constitutional: earlier this week I saw eleven hens (not all in range in this shot), in someone’s front yard at 7:15 am.  Were the chickens let out on purpose, or was it a jail corral break?

Either way, if I may anthropomorphize for a moment, they seemed tremendously excited to have new territory to scratch and new bugs to hunt. That particular homeowner (who may or may not be the urban chicken “rancher”) was getting their lawn aerated, whether they wanted it or not.

 

 

chickens

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Department Of Why The #$!?* Is This Necessary?

 

This advice, printed on the “anti-mold sticker” in the box that held my new rain boots:

 

 

sticker

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Department Of Benign Neglect

 

I think my sourdough starter is active. It may even have the pastry equivalent of ADHD.

 

 

starter

 

 

Were this crock of starter to be erupting on the White House kitchen counter, the crock who currently occupies the White House would likely be tweeting to North Korea about how MY STARTER IS UUUUUUUGE, BIGGER THAN YOURS AND THE MOST ACTIVE ON THE PLANET.

 

 

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Department Of Do I Get A Girl Scout Badge For This?

Yesterday afternoon I was in the sodas aisle of the grocery store, looking for ginger ale for daughter Belle. An elderly woman was ahead of me, hunched over her cart, peering intently at the dizzying variety of Coca-Cola products. She suddenly announced in frustration and disappointment, “There’s no Cherry Coke!”

I wasn’t sure if she was addressing moiself, or beseeching the soft drink deities. In case it was the former, I pointed out a case of Cherry 7-Up to her. She said she’d tried Cherry 7-Up,  and it was okay, but she wanted Cherry Coke to go with her pizza (she had a frozen cheese pizza in her cart).  I pushed my cart up the aisle, looking for ginger ale and also checking every level of the soft drinks. At the far end of the aisle, away from the other Coke products, I found a case of Cherry Coke…and also found, much to my surprise, how excited I was to have done so.

“I found it!” I exclaimed, waving to the woman. Her watery blue eyes beamed as she  pushed her cart toward me. She thanked me profusely and said, at least three times, “You’re a good helper,” as if I were ten years old (or her beloved Labrador who’d just fetched her newspaper).

 

 

badge

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May your sourdough starter be the envy of the world’s small-handed despots;
May the new year favor you with an abundance of glowing treetop experiences;
May you be appreciated for being a good helper;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I think that should encompasse ages 20 – 56.

[2] Past failed resolutions include, “Be taller,” and “Do not engage in audible eye-rolling when someone mentions their detox cleanse.”

[3] E.g. you are no more capable of making discerning political choices the day before your 18th birthday than you are the day of your 18th birthday; still, you can’t register to vote when you are age 17 years 364 days….

[4] Excuse me, make that “tenant farmers,” as sharecroppers was considered a pejorative label.

[5] My father’s parents couldn’t afford shoes for all six of their children, so as the elder kids got shoes they handed them down to the younger siblings. You got to wear shoes if there were a pair that happened to fit you. My father went to his proverbial grave not knowing that my mother had shared the story, with my sisters and I, of how our dad was embarrassed as a child when he showed up barefoot at school and was teased by the townie kids, who called him a dumb barefoot farm boy.

[6] In other words, are not looking down at YOUR FUCKING CELLPHONE.

The Year I’m Not Rating

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Department of the In Between

Happy In-Between Week. ®    [1]

New Year’s Eve has always held both the threat and promise of merriment. And by threat I mean the anxiety arising from the suspicion that expectations can never be met, and the pressure that comes with the knowledge – actually, of course, the astoundingly incorrect assumption – that everyone else but me is having soooooooo much fun….

I’ve had some very enjoyable NYE’s, and some that really sucked.  Most have been satisfactory if not at least tolerable but, frankly, closer to the zenith of what I call the Lame-o-meter. (it goes by other names, too).

 

crap

 

One of the lamest of the lame occurred many years ago when I was living in The Bay Area. I’d received less than zero  [2] invitations to NYE’s events and I’d neither the time, money nor inclination to organize even the smallest of gatherings moiself.  All things considered, why not wallow in it? What might be one of the lamest things to do on a night generally considered to be full of promise and anticipation of exciting times to come?  I stayed home, polished an old chair (not even my chair;  [3] it belonged to the landlord) and watched that fucking ball drop in Times Square on one of those insipid, Wearisome Rockin’ New Year’s Eve shows.

That night has proven to be a shining beacon  [4] — a light leading to improvement in the years to come. Every year, no matter what lackluster plans I have or lack for NYE, I reminded myself, at least you’re not at home polishing someone else’s butt ugly furniture.

 

 

NYE

What time is it? Have I had fun yet?

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Department Of Pubic Service Announcements

Thanks to my alert cousin and Idaho resident, DF, for passing along this vital information:

Please, take care of yourself out on the roads this New Year’s Eve.
A recent joint study conducted by the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23% of traffic accidents are alcohol related.
This means that the remaining 77% are caused by assholes who drink bottled water, coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, and stuff like that.
So beware of those who do not drink alcohol – they cause three times as many accidents.

 

 

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Department Of Sudden Realizations

This is my last post for 2017.  Can’t decide if that’s worthy of this

 

sob

 

Or this

 

 

happyfacespider

 

 

Hint: when in doubt, always choose the Hawaiian happy face spider.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Righting Wrongs At The Last Minute

Can it be that I have almost let 2017 pass without having posted a single link to a screaming goat video?

 

 

 

 

You are so, so welcome.

*   *   *

May your New Year’s Eve activities be the envy of 1950’s valium-addicted housewives;
May your New Year’s resolutions be amusing if not attainable;
May you always appreciate the synergy of Bon Jovi hair music and screaming goats;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy New Year, y’all, and Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day.

[2] Not possible, yethinks? Oh you of little mathematical imagination. I’d received one invitation, which was later rescinded (don’t feel too sorry for me – the event was cancelled.  Or so I was told…hmmmm….)

[3] And polishing furniture, even my own? Something I Just. Don’t. Do.

[4] Or anemic bathroom night light, depending on my disposition.

The Sign I’m Not Posting

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Department Of Not Sure What To Call This

Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?
99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

MH, alert husband that he is, sent me this email on Tuesday:

I think you might enjoy this.  Cameos by Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.
https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/700-foot-mountain-whipped-cream/

The link was to the podcast 99 percent invisible, episode #286 “A Seven Hundred Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream.” This particular episode, hosted by radio advertising producer, writer and composer Clive Desmond,  features “forgotten nuggets of radio history” via “Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture,” wherein (future) icons of the subversive and/or acid rock music genres performed in radio advertisements.

I listened to a lot of radio back then, and can’t remember any of the ads featured in the episode. It’s beyond bizarre (both the ads, and the guy who’s obsessed with interested in them). The era of acid rock also had Frank Zappa recording the voiceover  [1] (with a young Linda Ronstadt contributing background vocals) for a men’s shaving commercial, and the Jefferson Airplane, whose White Rabbit was arguably the definitive psychedelic rock hit, doing a jingle for White Levi’s?

I would recommend being sober, very sober, if you listen to either of those ads. 

As for those who did listen, at the time (late 1960’s), I’m trying to picture the kind of people who would have been the target audience for the Jefferson Airplane commercial, which was obviously aimed at those who…how you say…appreciated mind-altering substances. Anyone attracted to that ad would likely have been so stoned that the purpose of the ad – to sell a certain brand/style of jeans – would have been defeated.  “Oh wow, like…man…that is so far out…as soon as I remember where I left my my arms I’m gonna go buy me some….what is it I want to buy? Jell-o? Lava lamps? Alka-Seltzer….”

It’s almost unimaginable to me that Zappa and other musicians, whose disdain for “straight” and/or consumer culture was legendary, agreed to do the commercials.  Almo$$$$t. I’ll assume Zappa was laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt the members of Jefferson Airplane were tripping all the way to the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Believe it or not, the following sign was *not* posted on my lawn  [2]  during last year’s election cycle.

 

 

trumpsignjpg

 

 

I have this thing about political yard signs – and by political signs I mean those posters and such which publicize one’s support for, e.g., a particular governor  [3] or school board candidate.  In my never-you-mind-how-many years of being old enough to vote, I’ve put up yard signs maybe, twice. I’ve never missed voting in an election. Sometimes I am quite passionate about the issues and/or my choices for public office; sometimes, I’m just picking what I hope are the cream of a rather rancid crop. Either way, I figure if people want to know my opinion they can ask me. If they don’t care to hear from me personally, do they really want to hear from my yard?  [4]

You’ve seen this sign.

 

 

inouramerica

 

Or, one of its variants.

 

 

inthishouse

 

 

 

I agree with many if not most of the signs’ sentiments or opinions. However, the signs allude to, without fully (or even partially) addressing, a myriad of complicated and important issues….

 

 

DUH

 

Well, of course they do – what else can they do? They’re essentially sound bites for your yard (or porch or window or….);  I get it. Still, I hate to see such complicated, vital issues reduced to a collection of three to seven word declarations on a yard poster.  And I wonder: other than serving as a kind of code between like-minded persons, do they foster, or stifle, anything resembling meaningful dialogue?

To moiself, the signs are a left-wing version of, “I’ll pray for you/about this issue,” and other wimpy statements —  I care! I really care! signifiers. Easy to say, jackshit to be done. Ineffectual, unless backed up by action.

Of course, there are plenty of right-wing variants, such as the sign that graces one of my neighbor’s windows — a sign you’d see if you were approaching their front door with a plate of holiday cookies: big bold letters proclaiming the equivalent of

IN THIS HOME WE
Say Merry Christmas
Say God Bless America
Support Our Troops
Have A Personal, Intimate, Lubricant-Requiring Relationship With Firearms
AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO THE FUCK AWAY
(And you know what you can do with those cookies?)

 

 

 

 

mrrogers

Not exactly the warmest welcome to the neighborhood.

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

It’s just too damn easy to show support for something without actually doing anything about it.  Now, I’m sure there are people who post those signs who are out there, supporting their causes. I’d like to think that people who put up signs proclaiming, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, are also and actively involved in constructive ways to end systemic and personal racism and misogyny, including examining the ways they inadvertently walk with privilege in this world. But I’ve no way of knowing if their commitment begins and ends at their lawn, with the decision to purchase (or accept from another person: “Hey, Concerned Looking Citizen ®,  would you like one of these for your house?” “Oh, uh, maybe, what does it say – yeah, sure, I support all that, you can tape it to my window….”) such a sign.

Also, the signs make declarations on more than one issue (and, usually, quite a few.) Which, again, reduces complex issues into one blanket statement, implying that: if you support (issue A) then you also must support (issues B through G).  Few of the dedicated, reflective, trying-to-to-the-right-thing kind of people I know would accurately and comfortable fit all of their opinions under one such blanket.  [5] Moiself included, if I may be so bold as to include moiself in the afore-mentioned category (and I just did).

For example: I think it’s insulting, or just plain degrading and mean-spirited, to refer to any human being as illegal. I also know that there are people who commit illegal acts re how they enter or/or stay in a country of which they are not citizens. And I don’t think that the way to become a good citizen of any nation is to, in your initial act of entry, knowingly and deliberately break that nation’s laws.

Perhaps this – those signs – is yet another subject about which I think too much. Most likely, no one (except fellow sign posters) even pays attention to them.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Looking Underneath The Tinsel  [6]

From what will be the opening to my portion of our family’s year-end letter:

Last year’s letter ended with my love ’em while you got ’em story of my mother’s 2016 Christmas eve death.
As the landmark, one-year-since her passing anniversary approaches, I’m realizing that the winter holidays will, from now on, have a bittersweet connection for me

I am far from alone in having the above-mentioned connection. They – “the holidays” – already have that kind of association, for many people

Deaths and disasters happen year-round; it’s a little different, a little more difficult, when the anniversary for, say, the day your beloved win brother died of leukemia was on the 4th of July and what will always feel like a private day of remembrance for you is being raucously celebrated by seemingly everyone else.

I’ve known many a person who’s confided to me about how certain sincere or innocuous holiday greetings or inquiries (“Happy Valentine’s Day!” “So, what does your family do for the Labor Day Weekend?)  have felt like a punch to the gut, when the well-wishers either don’t know or have forgotten that last Valentine’s Day is when you found out your husband was leaving you for your son’s kindergarten teacher, or Labor Day weekend was when your father was killed in an automobile accident during your family’s annual trip to the lake…or that the time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for you, something to be endured rather than celebrated because it was the time when, as a lonely, confused child, you were shuttled back and forth between angry, bitterly divorced parents who used you, for years, as a tool to hurt their ex-spouse….

Time helps and heals – most of us know this, from either experience or observation. Without having been asked to do so, I’ll venture that we all need a reminder now and then to be mindful of people’s hearts, of their perceptions and experiences that may differ from ours, during any time of year.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

 

Happy Winter Solstice, y’all.

 

 

 

 

winter

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you give yourself permission to eschew words like gubernatorial;
May your convictions go beyond your signage;
May you never be so stoned as to purchase white Levis;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] With all the barely hidden sarcasm he can muster…wondering why/how the ad executives let him get away with it?

[2] Or window or car bumper or….

[3] I refuse to use the word, gubernatorial.  Not only is it ridiculous-sounding, but I also find it somewhat…nasty. (Yes, this from a person who had had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.)

[4] This from a person (that would be, moiself) who had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.

[5] Okay; maybe it’s time for another metaphor.

[6] Do “young people” even know what tinsel is? Nobody uses tinsel anymore – I think it may even be banned.

The Elbow I’m Not Ignoring

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Department Of It’s About Fucking Time  [1]

“…the #MeToo movement represented the ‘fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men too.’ ”
(Time Magazine’s Editor-in Chief Edward Felsenthal, from in the NY Times article,
” ‘The Silence Breakers’ Named Time’s Person of the Year for 2017″)

 

 

Time person

 

 

 

About That Red-Circled Elbow

Along with the prominent women in the MeToo movement featured on the Time magazine cover, there is a woman whose face is obscured – as in, off camera. Only her right arm is visible. This a hospital worker Time magazine reporters spoke with, a woman “from the middle of the country, who doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood,” Editor Felsenthal said. The image is intended to symbolize women and men who have yet to come forward, or who wish to speak out but fear repercussions.

In an interview, Time National Correspondent Charlotte Alter said the inclusion of the elbow (only) image was deliberate:

“…a huge part of this story we’re trying to tell here is that as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of people to come forward.”

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Blast From The Past

AKA, An Incident I Haven’t Thought About In A Long Time

 

Specifically, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man ® .

Dateline: one afternoon, a long time ago in a galaxy at a university far, far away ( UC Davis. )  I was on campus; my first morning class had let out and I had three or so hours before my next class’s midterm exam. Instead of returning to my (off-campus) apartment for lunch I decided to splurge  [2] and get a sandwich from the campus Coffee House and do my last minute studying the the exam on the campus Quad.  ‘Twas a glorious spring day; I could have easily spent several hours happily parked by a mini grove of fir trees on the acres of green grass, along with other students studying, eating, napping, or tossing a Frisbee back and forth…

 

 

UCDQuad

 

 

…but after about 45 minutes I had to move as I just couldn’t take it any more.

What had begun as a curiosity – what I thought at first was perhaps a stunt or prank – morphed from snarky entertainment into torture by seemingly infinite repetition.

A young man with curly, shoulder-length brown hair was riding a balloon-tire beach bicycle back and forth across the quad length, from north to south and then east to west, all the while singing the Gordon Lightfoot song, If You Could Read My Mind.  He didn’t sing the entire song,  only a portion of it:  [3]

I never knew I feel this way
And I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it
I don’t know where we went wrong
But the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back

That’s it. Thirty-six words, which he kept repeating singing.  Over and over.  And over.

It was… fascinating, at first. But ultimately tedious.  After about fifteen minutes, Crazy Bicycle-Riding Man’s path took him within a few feet of me and I caught a glimpse of his glassy blue eyes and realized, He is going to keep doing this until he either passes out or someone makes him stop. I felt a brief twinge of sorrow for the guy’s obvious…disturbance. But whether or not the man’s break from reality was drug-induced or the result of a mental health crisis, I (like the other students I saw leaving the Quad in droves) was young and impatient, and my sympathy eventually dissolved into annoyance. I lasted another half hour before I gave up and took my books to the library to finish studying.

After all these years, I remember what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man was singing but haven’t a clue as to how I did on the midterm for which I was studying.  Which is perhaps the healthiest way to pass through this world, n’est ce pas[4]

 

 

 

bicyclejpg

This is what the bike looked like. Unfortunately, this is not what Crazy Bicycle Riding Man ® looked like.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of In The Running For My Favorite Headline Of The Year:  [5]

Acting Studios Are Struggling. Does It Matter?
( NY Times, 12-1-17)

 

 

 

question

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Should Be Some Kind Of Holiday Thing Here

xmas partyjpg

 

 

 

I don’t know about y’all, but moiself is having a hard time getting excited – or even interested – in the holidays this year.  If a Crazy Bicycle-Riding Santa ® would make an appearance, that might do it for me. I may just have to settle for the Speedo Santa Run.

 

 

naked santa run

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be a Silence Breaker, or an ally to one;
May you enjoy the sporadic Blast From Your Past ® memory;
May you summon a modicum of excitement about any holidays you celebrate;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1]  Time as in time…not as in Time Magazine…. There should be some kind of really bad pun apology here.

[2] Working at the school library to put myself through school, any non-home procured food – even a simple sandwich – was (or felt like) a splurge.

[3]  The chorus? Verse? Bridge? Root canal? Help me out, musically literate people.

[4] Not to show off in front of Gallic illiterates, but n’est ce pas? is French for, “The birdhouse smells like stinky feet, does it not?”

[5] Other than the one about Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

The Lefse I’m Not Rolling

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For almost three decades many years, on the second Wednesday in December, I have hosted a Ladies Lefse Party  [1], as mentioned here and here and here and….  And yes, the soiree was Ladyfolk only, much to the chagrin of the Many Fine Gentlemen I Know Who Also Like To Make Lefse. ®  [2]   

 

 

lefseladies

“This is how we roll, homie.”

Norwegian Americans – does this culture know from fun, or what?  [3]

 

There was no Ladies Lefse Party last year – not in my house, that is (Ægir only knows what sordid celebrations were held in the nether neighborhoods of Minnesota  [4]).  I had the privilege of recognizing I needed to take (and being able to do so) a control-alt-delete sabbatical (as written about here ) which I did…or tried to do…in early-mid December.

December 2016 turned out to be quite the month for tempests, both meteorological and personal.  Winter storm Caly brought snow/ice/freezing rain to regions of NW Oregon which rarely get such extreme weather and thus aren’t equipped to adequately deal with it (read: power outages, road closures, accidents, flight cancellations….).  I returned early from my sabbatical to work around the weather re scheduling travel to attend the memorial service for a beloved friend/ mentor/former employer…just as my mother’s health precipitously deteriorated.  Coordinating with my other siblings’ visits to our mother’s home (Santa Ana, CA) I booked another flight: for the day after Christmas. 

I found out early Christmas morning, minutes before K arrived to open stockings and presents with MH and Belle and I, that my mother had died late the previous evening (my mother’s live-in caretaker wanted to spare us the sad news on Christmas Eve.).

 

 

xmasjpg

 

 

 

A few months ago, looking ahead to the holiday season, I was anticipating the lefse party.  Now I ‘m thinking, give it one more year It’s good to take a break from the usual routines every now and then – even from those which bring you great joy – if only because doing so makes you more appreciative when you resume them. This is what I tell myself. However, all I know right now is this: it makes me feel sad to realize that I will not be able to call my mother after the party. No matter how foggy and/or fearful her brain could be in the last years of her life, she always perked up when I told her about the lefse parties. She was able to follow the narrative and share stories and recollections of her own. I think – I hope – the distance of another year will enable the fond memories to mute the bouts of heartache.   

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s Nothing Like Dissing White Trash  [5]
To Segue From A Poignant Topic

 

Dateline: Wednesday morning, out walking at 7 am. Heading for a neighborhood park, I pass the house that always has at least three or four muscle cars parked in the driveway and/or on the lawn.  I arrive just as one of the cars is being warmed up by its driver, who revs the engine, over and over (the resulting cacophony is surely appreciated by the neighbors).  Plumes of gray-white smoke chortle, pop and chug from the car’s custom, over-sized tailpipe, and I think, So, when the driver’s a flaming asshole he makes sure his car has one, too?

The unmuffled engine farts increases as the driver backs down the driveway and shifts into first gear. I am tempted to chase after the car and tap on the window with my walking pole. In my brief but oh-so satisfying fantasy, the driver stops the car,  rolls down the window, and I inform him, with a look of grave concern on my face, “Excuse me, sir, but there is obviously something really wrong with your dick car.”

 

 

 

 

sorry

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can’t Make Up This Shit
Installment 346.5

 

 “There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today….. We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”
(Angela Lansbury says women must ‘sometimes take blame’ for sexual harassment,
CNN, 11-28-17)

 

Oh, ick.

Or, to play on the title of Lansbury’s most famous acting gig, Horseshit, She Said.

When I first saw Lansbury’s name trending in social media, moiself thought that yet another formerly bright star was going to be featured in the upcoming Emmy, Tony and Academy Awards roll call of the dead.  Turns out…not. Unless those shows also decide to run a tribute for the brain-dead.

 

 

grannyshock

Oh, that’s just mean.

 

 

 

Actually, I’m going easy here.

Ever have that reaction where you cringe in embarrassment for someone else, when you read about what that Someone Else has said or done?  Please, Angela darling, a follow-up: the world eagerly awaits your opinion as to how sexual assault victims, from three year old girls to 94 year old retired nuns in nursing homes, can own up to “the fact” that their efforts to “make themselves attractive” backfired.

Angela Lansbury, the (formerly?) beloved stage, film and television (Murder, She Wrote) actor, is 92. She’ll be given – rightly, perhaps – a certain amount of slack for the mind-jaw-bobbling-ignorance-revealing statements she made, in an interview with a British magazine, about the Hollywood sexual assault and harassment scandals. And I’m not going to read any of the excuses, because I can pretty much guess what they’ll sound like:

Oh this is so pathetic but remember, she’s 92; she’s from another era; she’s really old; she’s a prime example of just how entrenched misogyny and the patriarchy are; she’s in her 90s; she’s from a time where women had to look the other way and *not* rock the boat if they wanted to get ahead…and did I mention how old she is?

As to the shit I can’t make up: guess what Ms. Lansbury’s first film role was? It couldn’t be the one about a woman who is manipulated so persistently and successfully by a man she trusts that she begins to doubt what is all around her? Yep; it was Gaslight.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Even More Puerile Entertainment

During the last few weeks MH and I have been going to furniture stores, checking out their various counter stools/bar chair models. Last Sunday eve, as we wandered the aisles of Dania[6] I confessed to MH that when we are at such venues and are inevitably approached [7]  by a salesperson who asks, “May I be of assistance?” I’m having a hard time refraining from replying, “We’d like to see your stool samples.”

 

 

blondepw

That’s so im-ma-chur I could barf.

*   *   *

 

May your age never excuse your ignorance;
May the size of your car’s tailpipe reflect your acceptance of your attributes;
May your immature thoughts be the delight (or bane) of furniture salespeople;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Tortilla; chapatti; matzoh; lavash; injera…flatbreads are common throughout the world. Lefse, the Norwegian flatbread, is made from potatoes and flour.

[2] And who, like so many of the fine men I know, never organize their own such parties, but just complain about not being invited to the women’s gigs.

[3] Fortunately, the Irish half of me is dominant.

[4] Ægir  is the Norse god of partying.

[5]  I realize many people are offended by that label. However, analogous to African-Americans who use the N-word, I come from a long line of WT and thus feel entitled to apply the epithet judiciously.

[6] Where we purchased a Really Cool Lamp ® on sale…but nothing else.

[7] Why are there no more footnotes?

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