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The Solutions I’m Not Providing

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Department Of Do You Think They’ll Print This Letter?

Monday afternoon I sent the following letter to the editor of mindful magazine.

Gentle Editors,

In the December 2016 issue of mindful, the article The Mindful Gift Guide contains the advice, “As consumers we have the power to choose gifts that don’t just speak to those we care about, but that have an impact in the world.”  This is certainly true. Thus, as a writer, I cringed to read the article’s suggestion to “Do a Book Swap:”

“If your family are avid readers, skip the gift-shopping and instead do a book swap…. Each of you walks away with a stack of goodies for little-to-no cost….”

Please be mindful of the reality facing authors, whose income has declined 30% over the past seven years, due to the fact that there are so many ways “for the customer to gain access to a book, without a penny going to the writer.” (The Author’s Guild Bulletin, Fall 2015). The little-to-no-cost you mentioned comes at an increasingly great cost to writers, who receive no payment from used copies or book swaps.

It is logical to assume that avid readers might – or should – respect and care about the labor which produces the books readers admire.  The suggestion should read, “If your family are avid readers, buy them books.”

 

 

mindfulmag

“If your family are avid magazine readers and you’d like their favorite magazines to fail, please give away your copies and discourage people from subscribing to or buying copies of the magazines.”

 

*   *   *

Part 2, Possible Solutions

I don’t have any. DAMN!

Remember, a mere week ago, my rant articulate and passionate explication of the need for dialogue between trump voters and everyone else, and my promise that I’d offer solutions this week? Here’s the rub: I don’t know how to dialogue with someone who can’t understand – or worse yes, doesn’t want to understand – reality.

Differing opinions, fine. You can have your own opinions (as to what facts “feel like” to you); you can’t have your own facts.  As friend CC recently despaired, if someone for whatever reasons will not or cannot be convinced of the reality of global warming by the decades of evidence that climate scientists have amassed, what good is it going to do for them to hear the same evidence coming from me?

What common ground can be trod by a natural world denizen such as moiself who thinks that people should be in charge of their own bodies, and people who believe that female bodily integrity is subject to (overwhelmingly male led) legislation and superstitious/supernatural (read: religious) prohibitions?

More diplomatic minds than mine will have to work on these and other issues.  The only advice I can offer is hardly original, but also the only thing that has ever worked:

Keep aware, and get involved.

Have your legislators’ office numbers on your speed dial.  [1] Avoid compassion fatigue – there will be no shortage of worthy and even urgent causes; pick one or two close to your heart and support them with time and money, the best you can. Be wary of spreading out, and thus diluting, your resources. As one nonprofit manager told me, better to donate five hours of your time and/or $200 dollars per month to one organization than 15 minutes/$20 dollars per month to ten.

Here’s a worthy cause for those concerned with the far right’s anti-science agenda:

  • So cool!
  • Relevant to all the subjects that I teach [Physics, Chemistry, and Biology]
  • A great resource for students
  • Really improves student learning
  • (Shows them) the scale of time
  • Generates a good amount of discussion
  • [Helps our teachers] know and understand how to better teach evolution to students
  • Amazing resource
  • An awesome addition to my classroom

Surprise! – those are not comments from Satisfied Customers ® who’ve recently began following my blog (but thank you for jumping to that conclusion). Rather, they are some of the raves expressed by science teachers  regarding a superb teaching resource from The Brights. The Evolution Poster Project‘s poster, “Earth and Life: changes over time,” helps students visualize and learn about the scale of evolution by uniquely depicting the course of biological and geological evolution from 13.7 billion years ago until today.

 

 

 

brightsposter

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of At Least I Have One Thing About Which To Feel Smug

“It’s terrible. I don’t think it sells a single book.  I don’t think social media sells anything.”
(author Ayelet Waldman, in the Writer, on using Twitter as a marketing tool)

A few weeks ago the Twitter universe  [2]  got its collective knickers in a knot  [3] over yet another literary defection from their ranks. Author Chelsea Cain, interviewed on the OPB program Think Out Loud, talked about her decision to deactivate her Twitter account.  [4]

Despite the urging of select publishers and PR people to pursue more social media “exposure,” I long ago made the decision to not expose moiself to the opinions (whether praise or slag) of strangers. Thus, I skipped the first step in what seems to have become almost a literary ritual:

  • join ______ (insert social media site name)
  • amass site followers
  • pen an article/sit for an interview about “Why I am Leaving ____ (social media site).”

 

 

twitter

 

When you’re a writer, the thinking is that you simply must have a social media presence. But is that even true? In the six-plus years I’ve been writing for pay as my exclusive revenue stream, I can’t think of a single time social media got me a job.
I’m also not terribly interested in interacting with my readers, or even knowing they exist. Sorry, guys. The one or two of you that are cool to meet don’t outweigh the legions of semi-literate lunatics still emailing me at least once a month over an article I wrote about hating Pearl Jam four years ago.
(“Why I Left Social Media,” www.manmade.com )

 

By simply not joining Twitter, I never had to worry about how to deal with the distraction, the hate mail, and – special bonus for authors with lady parts! misogyny and death threats.  But, dang, I am thereby disqualified for any future Why I Quit Twitter gigs. Another lucrative career opportunity down the drain.

Still, I treasure the rare opportunity to feel smug. Also, according to computer science professor Cal Newport, you don’t have to be a writer to benefit from stopping the massive time and intellect suck  eschewing the energy drain of social media (my emphases).

Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters. A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.
…. you’re deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time. If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.
(Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend On It, Cal Newport, writing in the NY Times)

 

*   *   *

To those trump supporters who posted links to the I Am. article on Facebook, and a personal appeal to the article’s author:

iampng

I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. I am not a misogynist. I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family….I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless.

 

Blogger Cassie Hewlett wrote the I Am article to “highlight what it felt like to be a Republican college student” after the election:

On November 9th, I went to class and in every single one there was a somber attitude. Pre-lecture discussions were filled with phrases like “I am scared for our future”, “I am scared to be gay”, “How did this happen?”

Ms. Hewlett, I don’t know you, but assume you are around my daughter’s age, and thus am disposed toward viewing you kindly. I will assume you are well-intentioned. And I can’t help but wonder, do you really understand why, post-election, a somber attitude permeated your classrooms?

I am aware that many Republicans did not intend to vote in malicious, fear-mongering, sexist, racist, homophobic ways. I hope you in turn are aware that your party’s candidate campaigned on malicious, fear-mongering, sexist, racist and homophobic platforms and rhetoric, and that this fact is very personal to the majority of us who cast their votes for the other candidates.

You write, I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. Your candidate has:

*  chosen as his Vice President one of the most anti-LGBT rights politicians around.  Pence has been listed as one of the top “villains” on gay and civil rights watch lists for years – this is not mere current election political trash-talking.

* casually admitted to and joked/bragged about committing sexual assault, consistently dismissed and ranked women – including his own daughter – according to their physical attributes, and said he would appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn my right to make medical decisions about my body.

* told anti-gay conservatives he’d appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn gay marriage  [5]

* called Mexicans rapists and said that an American judge could not do his job because of his Mexican heritage.

* declared he wants to register all Muslims in the US.

Your candidate has, for crying out loud, been endorsed by the KKK and other white supremacist, Neo-Nazi and secessionist groups.

You are not racist; You are not homophobic; You are not sexist. But Your Candidate has said and done all of these things, and more. Your Candidate‘s blatant and consistent appeal to racist, homophobic and sexist sentiments are not the reasons you voted for him, but his racist, homophobic and sexist appeals did not stop you from voting for him. Thus, the “somber attitude” you detected.

 

 

imnotracist

 

 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
(variously attributed)

I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family.

Sure, Mussolini may have been a fascist dictator who outlawed contraception, raised penalties for abortion, regulated women’s clothing and banned homosexual acts,  used chemical weapons in Africa,  muzzled the free press and imprisoned his political opponents and executed prisoners without trial….but he made the trains run on time.

You personally may not consider yourself racist or bigoted, but you who are willing to overlook – who have the privilege to overlook – a candidate’s bigotries because he supports policies which you’ve decided are of greater/personal good for yourself scares the living feces out of moiself.

Please, Ms. Hewlett (and other self-described non-bigoted trump supporters), remember that talk is cheap. Your words disavowing personal prejudice are cold comfort considering the rise in hate crimes  [6] since the election.  I’m glad you protest that you are not one of the haters; I challenge you to prove your protestation by holding your candidate accountable for the consequences of his rhetoric.

One more thing, Ms. Hewlett: fire your graphic designer.  [7]  Re the GOP elephant-USA flag symbol used to illustrate your article, the stars are [8]  sideways/upside down/backwards (read: just plain wrong). Star points in the USA flag face up, not down.

 

flagstars

Like this.

*   *   *

Department Of It Didn’t Quite Come Out The Way I’d Intended,
But You Know What I Meant To Say

MH was considering whether or not he wanted to make soup for our Thanksgiving potluck dinner we hosted.  He asked for moiself’s advice, as I have been on a soup making kick recently. I went through my notes, trying to find a soup that everyone coming to the dinner would like and, more importantly, that everyone could eat – food preferences and sensitivities among the attendees include severe tree nut, peanut and seed allergies, gluten and dairy sensitivities and “plant-based flexitarian” [9] preferences.

I found just such a soup, a recent culinary experiment of mine that turned out well, if I do say so myself (and I just did).  “Here’s one!” I crowed to MH, pointing to my notes in excitement. “There’s nothing in this soup that anyone could eat!”

 

 

bad-soup

*   *   *

May you dialogue when you can;
May you be mindful of choices which may benefit you yet be costly to others;
May you have (at least) one thing about which to feel smug;
May your soup be suitable for all;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

And a belated but sincere Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Phone calls are more effective than emails or signing on-line petitions.

[2] I know, I know, it’s the “Twitterverse,” but I just can’t bear to use that term.

[3] For a couple of days or so – which is the equivalent of years to many users of the website, who have the attention spans one might expect of people who limit their reflections to 140 characters.

[4] Simply put, for her, the negatives came to outweigh the positives.

[5]I am for my family,” you wrote. What about other people’s families? Overturning gay marriage would dismantle thousands of families, including, to make it personal, that of my daughter’s favorite teacher.

[6] Documented by the FBI, and civil rights groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center.

[7] Or yourself, if that’s the case.

[8] Like the reasoning of trump supporters, IMHO.

[9] Eats certain seafood items, but no meat or dairy products.

The Wall I’m Not Building

1 Comment

 

reaper

Thanks, America – hey world, I’m gonna make you “great again….”

 

*   *   *

Dateline: Last Sunday, early afternoon. MH and I stopped at the local Baja Fresh for lunch. It had been at least three months since I’d eaten there, and I was surprised by the remodel, which included a partition separating the ordering and eating areas.

“Look,” I said to MH, “they built a wall! Do you think they got Mexico to pay for it?”

 

 

bajawall

*   *   *

A Little Story About The Election Results

The reality of what might be began to haunt me late last week, when my lowest common denominator assurance – i.e., people aren’t that dumb, are they? – commenced a-crumbling in the face of reality. Specifically, the existence and continued popularity of that boil upon the ass of humanity, Reality TV.

I started thinking about a show that was popular just three years ago – FFF  [1], it’s painful to even type the title – Here Comes Honey BooBoo. The idea that such a show could even exist – never mind attract and hold the attention of over two million viewers; the fact that for two years a substantial amount of allegedly sapient bipeds found entertainment from watching white trash in action – specifically the emotional, intellectual and nutritional abuse of a six year old girl by her serial-convicted-child-molester-dating mother…

I knew no one who watched (or would admit to watching) the show, but it existed. And knowing that fact…tanks my heart.

Bear with me with this segue. An American pro basketball player, when informed that the average height of males in the USA is 5’9 ½ “, sneers in disgust and disbelief.  “That can’t be true,” he protests. “No dudes I know are that short. I’m surrounded by dozens of guys all the time, all over the country, and they are all way taller than that.”

We limit the world by our own experience (read: ignorance), forgetting – sometimes not even understanding in the first place – that nature don’t play that game.

 

 

head

What “global warming” – it’s nice and cool down here.

 

 

Gravity “works” whether or not we comprehend its definition,  [2]  or have even heard of the term, and both the most brilliant Nobel-prize-winning physicist and the illiterate Lapp reindeer herder will be subject to its force  if they slip over the edge of a cliff while trying to get a better view of the fjord below them.

Even that which most (educated) persons know to be true is easy for many of us to discount when it is out of the realm of personal experience. The geologic time scale is imaginary to us four-score-and-change-if-we’re-lucky living humans; thus, it is easy for reality-denying, evidence-ignoring, supernatural-peddling shamans and charlatans to make us doubt the facts and evidence of evolution. Yet we “employ” the reality of scientific discoveries and explanations every day, without being aware we are doing so. There are scientists and engineers who study and apply the esoteric physic frameworks which are behind microprocessor design; there are laypersons such as moiself, whose knowledge of the subject is sketchy at best; there are also science-o-phobes, who deny that the “bizarre phenomena” of quantum mechanics even exists…yet computers function for the lot of us.

So? So…. In all my speculation during the past couple of years about where the country is heading, I’ve now had to admit to myself that this nation of so many goodhearted and clear-thinking people is also a nation filled with millions of people who continue to give shows like Housewives of Dumpfuckistan their 15 minutes of fame.

MH, feeling as gloomy as moiself, reminded me Wednesday morning that we don’t know the real reasons why someone would vote for the candidate endorsed by the KKK. And then, there are those who essentially flush their ballot choose a third/minor party candidate, even with the knowledge that by doing so it may help to elect someone they do not support, as a “protest vote” against the status quo.

The fact that I don’t personally know, rarely encounter, or choose not to associate with people who cheer demagoguery and champion anti-science and ignorance and xenophobia and racism and misogyny [3] does not mean that those people don’t exist. The evidence shows they are here, in far greater numbers than I’d have imagined in my sickest nightmares, and have been waiting, so it seems, for someone to champion their hate and paranoia, thus enabling them to crawl out from under their delusions-of-persecution rocks and slither toward the polling places.

And those poster boys for deplorables, those Trump supporters such as Tony Pettway, charged with assault after sucker-punching and stomping on a peaceful protester at a Trump rally –  guess what? His vote counts, the same as mine.

Is this a great country, or what…or WTF?

 

 

 

Weeping Child

*   *   *

Department Of I Know This Third Party Candidate Has No Chance Of Winning
But I Want To Protest The System By Doing The Intellectual Equivalent
Of Slamming My Genitals In A Car Door

As for the previously mentioned “protest vote” constituents, the war-mongering debacle that was the Bush/Cheney era would have never been – the Supreme Court would have never had the opportunity to subvert the will of the people and there would have been no need for a recount – had those who voted for third party spoiler Nader “in protest” cast their votes (as the polls and interviews indicated they would have) for Gore.  

Here we are, once again, haunted by the ghost of Florida. In that closely contested state, with key – 29 – electoral [4] votes, the margin separating Clinton and Trump [5] was a mere 128,863 votes. The votes received by the “protest” party candidates (Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and two others) totaled 293,770.

Go fuck yourself, Susan Sarandon, [6] et al.

 

 

sarandon

*   *   *

Department Of Speaking Ruptures In The Very Fabric Of Space And Time

Isn’t there some way we can blame this on The Chicago Cubs?

 

 

hell

*   *   *

May you be careful what and how you protest;
May you realize that we all, eventually, pay for the walls you build;
May you try not to blame The Cubs;
…and may the hijinks…one day…ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Festering ferret farts.

[2]  the force of attraction by which terrestrial bodies tend to fall toward the center of the earth.

[3] Or are willing to overlook or explain away those characteristics for what they think is some “greater” cause…I don’t know which is worse

[4] When the *&!$? are we going to free ourselves from that antiquated fucktard shackle that is the electoral college?

[5] Updated Nov 9, 2016 6:58 AM PST

[6] An actor and activist whom I once admired…a long time ago in a galaxy far far away….

The Lunch I’m Not Buying

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For almost twenty years, my Canadian-born neighbor and friend has been itching to give moiself suggestions for the Canadian Trip I Have Yet To Take ® . Tuesday morning I awoke early, excited about the decisions I’d made on Monday re just such a trip. I looked forward to emailing an invitation to her: “I’ll take you out to lunch and you can be my travel agent!”

But first, I decided to go ahead and book my trip.

Long Story Short: I have a significant birthday coming up in few weeks, and have had a significant Act 3 Career & Life Crisis ®  going on for a few…years.  I shared some recent downturns regarding such things with friend SCM who, wise counselor that she is,  [1] offered this wise counsel:

It’s obvious you need a control-alt-delete from life right now….

She advised I take a trip, to…anywhere. Someplace totally random, or “…even if it’s just Quebec or Victoria or someplace on the same continent, you need a break from real life.”

I’d been thinking along similar lines – a meditative kind of vacation, not a trip involving lots of activities, which is what I’d usually want. I need to go alone, to have contemplative opportunity away from distractions, from the familiarity of work, routine, home and family…the kind of trip where you are forced to chill, where my main activity would be a combination of taking it easy, taking stock, and Figuring Things Out ® .

A long train trip would fit the bill. One where the destination is not so important as the process…and with really cool scenery on the way. However, my birthday being when it is (within loogie-hocking distance of Christmas)…what’s available/accessible in December?

After many days of research, I’d found the one that hit the spot with both my head and heart: Vacation By Rail’s Canadian Snow train, which travels across five provinces, from Toronto to Vancouver. I discussed it with MH Monday at dinner, working out which departure dates would be good for him perhaps being able to meet up with me at the end of my solo jaunt and spend a couple of days sightseeing in Vancouver. Later that eve, my fitful sleep was, for once, due to a good cause. I was filled with restless excitement – I was doing whatI usually poke fun at: setting my heart on something.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Here is the email I sent to MH Tuesday morning, after I’d tried to make the reservations.

Subject line – trip: back to square one.

I noticed that no matter what date I put in on the train trip, just trying to see how far I could get in the online scheduling process, I got a message saying I had to call to speak to a booking agent to continue.

 It turns out that I had to call because I was booking for one passenger traveling solo, and they don’t list that price on line. The price listed on Vacation by Rail site’s – $___ for the rate class I sought – is the price per passenger for more than one passenger.  Same trip, same room, for a single passenger is “…uh,…significantly higher,” the very nice (and apologetic and embarrassed-soundin)  booking agent said, after she’d looked it up.  “Significantly higher” turns out to be More. Than. Double.

 Seriously  – over $8k  (I stopped writing the figure down after I heard the “Eight thousand…”)

 I told the booking lady I feel as if I’ve been had.

 I flashed back to a conversation during my Croatia/Slovenia/Bosnia trip, where a bunch of the veteran travelers were talking at dinner about the many reasons they liked Rick Steves tours, including the fact that there was no price discrimination for single/solo travelers.

 I woke up excited this morning (can’t remember the last time that has happened) and now I feel like I’m six years old and someone strangled my hamster.

 I don’t often burst into tears when talking to a stranger on the phone…at least I managed to hold off until I hung up.

 Fuck. To put it mildly.   [2]

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Should Know About Me If We’re Going To Be Friends

I like “bugs.” Mammalia and Insecta –  I am appreciative of our respective ecological niches…with notable exceptions  [3] . I particularly respect and admire spiders. If at all possible, any spider found in our house is escorted to the great outdoors (as opposed to squashing it), where she may build her web in peace and harmony.

 

 

spider

We love you too, sweetie.

 

 

Ants, however, can kiss my ass – but Noooo,  blog-reading ants out there, do not take that literally, because I absolutely hate hate hate it when you creepy crawlers get in the house.

Maybe it was that stupid movie I saw as a kid – a movie which held the distinctions of being both the first nuclear-mutated-big-monster movie and the first horror movie I ever saw on TV. I had nightmares for days, until…once again, Science to the rescue! ®   With a little research I discovered that humans could never be attacked by giant mutant ants due to basic laws of physics; that is, physical limitations of the ants’ exoskeletons meant they’d be unable to support a body weight beyond a certain size.

 

 

 

them

 

 

 

Still, I find little comfort in the fact that ants will always remain small. The ants go marching one by one – that’s the part that gets me.

The hive mentality is abhorrent and frightening to me. I am uncomfortable around any creatures which display groupthink and which, voluntarily or otherwise, act as slaves to instinct. From social insects to German soldiers marching in lockstep; from fundamentalist Christians simultaneously raising their hands at a faith healing rally to Mormon missionaries on bicycles to a bazillion Muslims all dressed white and in throwing pebbles at pillars during their hajj…..ICK.

Ants in the house is the worst; I feel like I’m being invaded by The Borg.  And I don’t just want to kill them; I want to frighten them. I want to hire tiny ant IRA operatives to kneecap the invaders so they can return to their colony as a living warning to the others: stay away from this lady; she means business!

Can you guess what tried to occupy our kitchen this week?

 

 

hateants

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Things We Do For Science

Text exchange between daughter Belle, a junior majoring in Biology at the University of Puget Sound, and moiself, yesterday:

Belle: …guess what – I am now the temporary owner of a super cute frog.

Moiself: Temporary? You mean you’re watching it while someone is away? And you know you must prove it is super cute…

And she did:

 

 

sadiefrog

 

 

Moiself: Dude, that looks like a huge toad!

Belle: He’s for my ecology independent research project!

Moiself: What are you researching?

Belle: Me and my partner are looking at how diet nutrient content affects behavior syndromes in crickets after a predator stimulation.

Moiself: So, you’re actually interested in cricket behavior? The frog is just there to be the predator?

Belle: Basically we’re feeding crickets a bunch of different diets, and seeing if that affects how brave they are in the presence of a predator. Yeah, he’s just there to scare some crickets.

Moiself: Are these male crickets? If so, just given them a diet of nothing but beer and they’ll think they’re invincible. I’m serious. You might win a Nobel Prize for this.

Belle: The sex of our crickets is unknown, ha ha.

Moiself: Well then, can your research project have more than one hypothesis? Do the beer diet thing, and if it produces what passes for cricket bravado, they are likely male. If it has no effect, except that the crickets seem to be getting a bit heavy in the hip, they are likely female – and you have found a noninvasive way to determine the sex of crickets.

Belle: I don’t think they’ll let us use beer.

Moiself:  Hot pockets?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Going Through The Motions

For reasons that should have been made clear in the opening of this post, I’m not in much of a oh-fa-la-la-la-la-la-here-come-the-holidays mood. [4] Nevertheless, with Halloween just around the bend, it’s time to share what has become my holiday season tradition:

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be careful what you set your heart on;
May you be free from ant and Borg invasions;
May you find the good in going through the motions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Literally. Among her many attributes (such as being the Queen of Hats), she is a lawyer.

[2] After several hours of feeling like I got kicked in the gut, I got back in the saddle so to speak, and researched more options…and once again and more than once encountered the obscene solo traveler surcharge. Not gonna be a party to that ripoff.

[3] IMHO, fleas and mosquitoes can suck festering, turd-encrusted donkey dicks and die.

[4] And only four footnotes? Now, that’s a funk.

The Hipster Kid I’m Not Running Over

Comments Off on The Hipster Kid I’m Not Running Over

Department Of Because, You Know, Spooky

 

spooky

*   *   *

Department Of Hipster Dad Fail

Dateline: Sunday, New Seasons market. I am pushing one of the small carts…

 

 

samall-cart

This size

largecart

not this size

 

 

…on my way to a checkout counter, and as I navigate around a display of seasonal candies I encounter a man who could be a model for the iconic Portland Hipster Dad ® .

 

 

hipsterdad

 

By encounter I mean he’s right in front of my cart. He puts his hand out, in a manner I recognize as Stop! Immediately! and steps slightly to his left (my right)…but says nothing. I stop pushing the cart, look down, and see a young boy, approximately 3-4 years old, who is walking, slowly but directly, toward my cart. Hipster Dad’s son  [1]  is holding a small electronic device in his palm; he is intently studying said device and seems oblivious to my presence. In other words, the kid was about to walk right into me…or into the path of my cart…or I was about to run over the kid – which I’m sure, was Hipster Dad’s interpretation of the future scenario.

Hipster Dad says nothing, not to me nor to his child. He continues to look at me intently with his hand out, while his kid is paying no attention to anything but the device in his palm. All three of us are silent; I look expectantly to the father, expecting him to say something to his son about stepping aside or paying attention, but Hipster Dad remains immobile and mute,  [2] holding out that damn hand as if he’s stopping traffic for the passing of the Dalai Lama.

 

 

dalil

Excuse me, I am looking for the kosher foods aisle….

 

 

The boy finally looks up and sees me. He stops his forward movement, maybe a foot in front of my cart, but does not step to the side. I look at the dad again; who remains silent. I favor the kid with a smile/glower and say, “WELL?!?!?” and he moves out of my way.

*   *   *

Department Of Science-Induced Flashbacks

Reading a recent report on jumping spiders was the impetus for the following haven’t-thought-of-that-in-years recollection:

It was a late afternoon in the early spring, during my freshman year in college. About fifteen or so 3rd floor Bixby [3] residents, including moiself, were on our dorm’s rooftop…where we technically weren’t supposed to be, but it was a such a gorgeous, sunny day, why study at the library? Those of us who were finished with afternoon classes donned shorts and/or swim suit-ish attire, schlepped our beach towels and textbooks up two floors and through the forbidden stairway and claimed territory on the roof.

A guy who lived across the hall from me placed his beach towel next to mine. He was clothing-free except for swim trunks, which meant that his massively carpeted torso was on display for us lucky ladies…who, if truth be told, were not all that taken with the blond torrent of chest hairs which formed hurricane spiral-type swirls around his nipples (his dorm nickname, of which he was quite proud, was “The Hun.”).

The Hun opened his textbook for the engineering class he was soon to flunk transfer out of. After a minute or two he closed his book, looked around the rooftop, and decided to make conversation with me about how this was the first time he’d seen this many people up on the roof, and in shorts, and….

“Hey,” he tapped me on the knee. “You don’t shave your legs?”

“That’s right,” moiself said.

“Why don’t you shave your legs?” The Hun’s tone was curious, not hostile.

“Why don’t you shave your legs?” I tapped his knee, or, at least where I assumed his knee would be, under all that leg-wool.

“I’m a man,” he replied.

I shut my calculus book, my mouth gaping in astonishment to realize that, at that very moment, I was witness to

YET  ANOTHER  THRILLING  MOMENT  IN
GENDER  IDENTIFICATION  HISTORY

 

clappingjpg

 

I pointed toward the reddish-yellow tendrils infesting his upper lip and curling down and around his chin. It seemed The Hun had been trying to grow a beard. There were several guys on our floor who had moustaches, but beards were not popular at that time.

“Why have you stopped shaving your face?”

With anyone else, the point would have been easily made, or even conceded. But not the Hun, whose face (which he was no longer shaving) assumed its confused countenance, a look which was his default expression when he was forced to contemplate anything more complicated than when his next beer break was coming from.

I reopened my textbook and smiled benignly – okay, patronizingly – as I considered both the futility of future conversation on the subject and the wisdom of a certain adage.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.

Oh but now, Dearest Reader, I could have directed him to news article and told him, “I don’t shave my legs because, well, Science. Following the example of the sisterhood of Jumping Spiders, I have found a way to increase my aural acuity:

Jumping Spiders Can ‘Hear’ Using Their Leg Hairs

 

jumpingspider

Who’s laughing – yeah, I HEARD THAT!

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Later

Like most women I know – holy fucking festering pigslop, why is this the case ?!?!? – I have my own experience with sexual harassment. I will save that story for later.

In last week’s blog post I wrote about the #notokay, and women and girls sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment being in the wake of the release of the Donald Trump Grab ’em by the pussy  tapes.   [4]  In light of the truly appalling nature of so many of the stories, it didn’t seem somehow…respectful of me to reference one of my experiences…which was less crude by comparison but still…not okay, to put it mildly.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I worked in the Publications Department of a Society which was, at that time, California’s largest business, networking and continuing education organization for a certain profession.  [5] The Publications Department was responsible for putting out a quarterly magazine for all Society members, as well as monthly newsletters for the fourteen regional chapters of the Society. The department consisted of the editor, assistant editor, art editor and classified advertising editor – moiself – who shared a large open office, and the PD Director and his secretary, who had offices down the hall, separate from The Rest Of Us ® .

It was an open secret that the Publications Department. Director, a man in his early forties whose perpetually smirking face sported what would nowadays be called a Porn Moustache, put in as little work as possible, with his secretary covering for him whenever someone higher up in the society needed to ask him a question. His long lunch breaks and frequent absences were fine by The Rest Of Us, who were all similar in age (mid-to-late twenties), who genuinely liked one another and sometimes socialized after work…and who individually and collectively did not like our boss, who gave off a distinctly creepy vibe.

One afternoon when the editor, assistant editor and art editor had gone down to the basement to confer with the mail guy about a magazine packaging, the PDD entered our office. I was alone at my desk, typing up some ad copy. Intent as I was on correcting the mystifyingly common grammatical errors of so-called professionals, I was not aware of the PDD’s presence until he was standing behind me. Very close behind me.

Without saying a work, the PDD placed his hand on my right shoulder. I shrugged my shoulder as if trying to dislodge a tarantula, and cast an excusez moi?! glance over my shoulder. He withdrew his hand. I proceeded to type.  He proceeded to place both of his hands on my shoulders. He remained silent, but the intention of his touch was…ick.

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

I ripped the ad copy from my typewriter, stood up and strode across the office, to the editor’s desk. I placed the copy on her desk, crossed my arms and glared back at my boss, who was still standing behind my desk chair. At that moment, my three comrades returned. The PDD made small talk with the art editor and then slithered down the hall returned to his office. The editor began to fill me in about the meeting with the mail guy and asked me something about the ad copy.

I had no idea what to say, or even to think about, what had just happened. So I did neither.

 Two days later the PDD called the four of us to his office, to discuss a few “minor changes” he wanted made to the next edition of the Society’s magazine. He mentioned a few graphics rearrangements he wanted to see on the front page, then announced that the masthead would be streamlined: from the next issue forward there would be just four names listed: The Publications Department Director as Executive Editor, the Editor, the Assistant Editor, and the Art Director/Editor. The position of Classified Ads editor would be deleted from the credits.

The Editor, flummoxed at first, quickly gained her composure. She argued in vain to keep my credit (“The classified ads editor has always been listed in the masthead; it’s an important position – advertising revenues are what supports the….”) while the art director and I exchanged what would nowadays be termed WTF?!?! looks. The PDD quickly quashed any further dissension on that subject and segued to his dissatisfaction with a banner ad the art director had designed.

Although I could have (hopefully) counted on my fellow editors for job references, should I have sought future employment in a related field, [6] my name in the magazine’s masthead was hard copy proof of my job title and experience. And just like that, it was gone.

I knew exactly what had transpired. I’d not yet heard the term sexual harassment, but I knew retaliation when I smelled it.

 

bad-smell

*   *   *

Department Of Remind Me Again Why We Put Up With This

One of the justifications for holding presidential debates [7] is that such forums are supposed to help undecided voters get off their cognitive asses and make informed if difficult choices  make a decision. It’s hard for me to imagine how anyone can be undecided at this point, considering how the GOP candidate has repeatedly demonstrated that not only is he unfit for elected office, he’s unable to ape even the most basic civilized hominid behavior.

At this point, given the evidence amassed which shows he’s qualified for nothing other than Demagogue-In-Chief, it is likely that anything can change Trump supporters’ anacephalic minds. If verifiable video footage surfaced which showed The Donald joining forces with Vladimir Putin and Adolph Hitler to nude mud wrestle and hogtie an endangered baby rhinoceros, Trump supporters would point to it as evidence of Trump’s extensive foreign-policy experience.

 

rhino

Mommy, will I ever be old enough to understand why anybody would vote for that mean man?

*   *   *

 

May you voluntarily wrestle in the mud of reality;
May you be comforted by the baby Rhino of Reassurance;  [8]
May you from this point onward have no #notokay experiences;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That is what I assumed the little boy to be.

[2] He was not in fact mute, as I heard him say something to his son after I walked away.

[3] One of the high rise dorms at UC Davis.

[4] The tape’s transcript, in all its lewd glory, can be read here.

[5] Not the world’s oldest.

[6] I didn’t, and I left that job about two months later.

[7] Other than providing ready-made material for SNL skits.

[8] If Lithuanians can have a crustacean of  prophecy then I can have a rhino of reassurance.

 The Water I’m Not Standing In

1 Comment

 

 

I want to start a meme. Can I can I can I please please please?

 

 

pick-me

 

 

Thank you. It’s this:

Stand in the water!

It means, show me you care…even if it’s somewhat, or mostly, an act.

This meme inspiration – mimspiration? – comes from watching the various television news crews covering Hurricane Matthew. At some point in the broadcasts a reporter, perhaps even the network’s anchor, would be on the scene at a hurricane affected-area, speaking into a hand-held microphone, and the camera would slowly pan back to reveal the reporter standing in the floodwaters/waves/ocean. Every single newscast I watched did that; I felt as if they were trying to say to me, See, we are here, we are legit reporters and not just armchair journalists, and this is water, and a lot of it wiggling around our ankles and knees means a serious storm, so pay attention to our authenticity.

And then it was “Back to you, Scott,” even as the local authorities were telling people other than the reporter to get the fuck out of there, you dumb schmucks please evacuate to higher ground.

MH did not realize the reporters were doing that water-standing thing until I pointed it out to him. Even then, he failed to grasp my (perhaps just a teensy bit over-the-top) fascination with the phenomena. I began yelling at newscasters [1] who were lurking by a flooded highway – I wanted them to show me that they cared: Stand in the water!

 

 

 

newsjpg

Not good enough, dude – STAND IN THE WATER!

 

 

 

*   *   *

The Abuser I’m Not Castrating…

…only because I lack the materials and expertise to construct a time machine.

Dateline: Sunday morning. I needed an entertainment breather after cleaning up a thinking-outside-the-litter-box accident and then some cat barf, [2]   and opened Facebook on my phone. I read the four sentences from RKK which comprised the first post in my feed. A mere four sentences, which carried a novel’s worth of import. And I had to lie down on the couch.

I was playing 45s in my bff’s bedroom. Her stepfather sat behind me, wrapped his legs around my hips, pressed against me, whispered into my ear what he wanted to do to me, and grabbed my breast. I froze. I was 14.

The post was written under a hashtag started by author Kelly Oxford: # notokay, who’d tweeted: “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats.” And then Oxford shared her story, using the same vulgar term a certain presidential candidate used in a recently released recording.

Oxford wasn’t sure she’s get more than a few responses, considering the highly personal nature of her request. She received over a million.

I sought and received RKK’s permission to share RKK’s story in this space. I wanted to post it verbatim, as part of the ongoing discussion of sexual assault, a discussion that seems to be the one positive fallout from the recording of the vile musings of He Who Shall Not Be Named.  [3]

I have been trying not to comment about HWSNBN in this space, for a plethora of reasons, including (what is, to me) the DUH-ness of it all: Trump said something/did something outrageous WHAT a surprise! And also because I just feel plain dirty, having the image of his lying, blustering, bullying façade come to my mind for even more than a second.

And then, there is what happened to RKK…and to so many women and girls like her. I wonder, when they read or hear about the loutish HWSNBN bragging about his groping and his aggressive sexual pursuits, if they once again, even if just for an dreadful moment, transported  back to a childhood friend’s room, to a school concert, to a city bus, to a classroom, to a church hallway, to a street, a backyard, where it happened….

Read a roundup of some of the women’s stories here, if you think you can stand do. If you think you can’t, perhaps that’s the more reason you should.

This release of the HWSNBN recording and the responses to it – folks, this is what people are talking about when they talk about rape culture. If you’re put off by that term because you think it’s related to group think and/or political correctness, or for whatever reason, please unclench your jaw, do some breathing exercises, and read on.

It is, simply and profoundly, this: Rape culture is the cultural conditioning of men and boys to feel entitled to treat women as objects. It is a culture that leads all of us – men and boys but also women and girls – to question and second guess and blame females for male sexual harassment and assault. (I would never do such a thing to anyone/ It would never happen to me; she must have done something to provoke him)

Trump’s retort, and his defenders reactions to the tape , are the exemplars of rape culture. The dismissive “it’s just locker room talk” normalizes and justifies the behavior.

Like most women – holy fucking festering pigslop, why is this the case ?!?!? – I’ve my own experience with sexual harassment. I’ll save one such story for later.

*   *   *

Department Of Last Straws

And one more thing, on this subject.

I keep hearing/reading about how more Republican leaders have withdrawn their support [4]  for their party’s candidate. It seems the lewd sex tape was “the last straw.”

Senator McCain, Rep. Ryan, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senators Murkowski and Collins and Crapo and Portman and Governors Herbert and Bentley and all you other rats scurrying off the GOP sinking ship – really? Finally?  The last straw is…now? There’s been enough straw spewed from Trump’s various orifices to construct a hay bale large enough to feed all the goats in Dumbfuckistan. [5]

 

 

dumbfuck

 

 

Your nominee labeled Mexicans as rapists and murderers and “joked” about his followers shooting Clinton (pass the straw). He incited violence at his primary rallies and mocked a disabled reporter; he insulted a Muslim-American family whose soldier son was killed in service of our country and said that soldiers with PTSD were weak and called for preventing all Muslims from entering the country; he continued to add to his long history of sexist and derogatory comments about women (duck! There’s a straw storm coming in), he trivialized the consequences of workplace sexual harassment and lied repeatedly about issues large and small and committed business fraud after business fraud while passing himself off as a successful business man…

Oh, but now he’s on tape using the p-word. THIS IS THE LAST STRAW.

 

 

shockcat

“No one grabs my pussy and gets away with it!”

 

 

The number of prominent Republicans disavowing/withdrawing their support for Trump increased after the release of the tape. Among other issues, these pols are concerned with how this will affect them in their own upcoming bids for (re)election.

While it warms the cockles of my heart to hear about anyone changing their mind/seeing the light at the end of their sphincter of the tunnel and withdrawing their support from Trump…how can I put this?

When I invite guests to a potluck dinner – a dinner that has distinct start and end times (as opposed to an open house/drop by any time event), I will gladly open the door for any late arrivers. Whether or not they’ve called ahead to alert me of their tardy ETA, I’m glad they were able to make it.

But if you show up just as the guests are finishing their dessert, don’t be surprised if

(1)  someone asks you What the fuck took you so long?, and
(2)  nobody is interested in sampling the hors d’oeuvre platter you brought.

 

 

heyyou

Hey you – Stand in the water!

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Wednesdays Suck

Hopefully next week’s hump day will be better, but for moiself, this week’s was one to be gotten over. There was too much not-good news, including but not limited to discovering that someone I love has engaged in yet another form of self-expression. [6] And then, I had to go and read the latest Authors Guild Bulletin

 

 

facepalm

Will she never learn?

 

 

…which contained yet another well-written, well-documented article on the financial outlook for writers, ominously but aptly titled, “Where Does All The Money Go?”  The article’s summary: There are an increasing number ways for customers to gain access to a book without a penny going to the writer.

Meanwhile, the Authors Guild and other professional writers organizations continue to fight (and lose) legal battles with Amazon and Google over issues including copyright, royalty and fair usage. And, while the AG and other organizations document and report on how writers incomes are declining the, membership dues for these various professional organizations keep rising.  [7]

 

 

bucketosloths

Next time, I’ll toss the journal and contemplate a bucket o’ sloths instead. ‘Tis better for the spirit.

*   *   *

Department Of How To Frost Your Butt

It’s fairly easy: follow MH’s recommendation like I did, and listen to podcast #728 of Planet Money, “The Wells Fargo Hustle.” Then try to restrain yourself from taking a flamethrower to the nearest WFB ATM.

You can read about the logistics of the WFB scandal in many news sites. The podcast cited deals with the human cost of lower level employees being told by their managers that they must meet astoundingly unrealistic goals by any means necessary or we’ll make your life hell, and then when you lose your job with us we’ll make sure you will not be able to get a job anywhere else.

There are only four reasons I’m not insisting that MH and I close all of our WFB accounts (including, perhaps, some we don’t even know we have  [8]) :

  1. The chance that by doing so my cherished friend LMW, employed at WFB for many years, many in some way be negatively affected;
  2. I’ve little trust in banks in general – are others just as bad, and we don’t know about it?
  3. There is no reason #3.
  4. See reason #1.

 

 

 

atm

*   *   *

Department Of Ending On A Positive Note

National Coming Out Day was 10-11-16, and my nephew did just that. KMV’s articulate, passionate, well-considered post on his FB page ended with a line that made my day:

“Not to confirm stereotypes,
but I guess the obsession with Beyoncé now makes a lot of sense, huh?”

 

 

come-out

*   *   *

May you come out of whatever space needs leaving;
May you be a first responder to the last straw;
May you stand for the good guys when you stand in the water;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Ok, yelling at the TV. Don’t think the reporters heard me.

[2] Thank you, Nova and Crow, for those respective early morning eye-openers.

[3] Whom my daughter Belle refers to as te “spray-tanned version of Lord Voldemort.”

[4] As grudging as it may have been in the first place, it was still support.

[5] The lay term for the country formed by the US states which “re-elected” George W. Bush to the Presidency.

[6] In a format I consider self-harm and/or mutilation.

[7] In part so that they can hire lawyers to fight the losing fights.

[8] Wells Fargo was opening bank accounts (perhaps as many as two million fraudulent accounts) without customers’ permission.

The Coffee I’m Not Fetching

4 Comments

 

Department Of Oh That Explains It

I opened turned to page 2 of The Oregonian and saw the reassuring headline for the Editor’s Notebook column:

We’ve redesigned with our readers in mind.

I guess I’m not one of the readers Those Who Redesigned had in mind, because I couldn’t get beyond the column’s next sentence, [1] which contained this gem of an explanation:

We’ve redesigned The Oregonian to be easier to read.

All these years, I’ve wondered about the decline of print media. Newspapers have seemingly lost their appeal; circulation and subscriber bases have dropped precipitously. Could it be related to competition from internet and other electronic media/online sources, including revenue loss from online advertising sources which made newspaper classified ads dated and/or irrelevant?

Noooooo. It’s just because newspapers have become SO  DIFFICULT  TO  READ.

 

newspaper

“Article continued on A13?” This. Is. So. Hard. For. Me.

*   *   *

Department of Eat, Prey, Write, Gloat With Cynicism

Did I ever tell y’all about the time in 2006 when I was subject to special screening by TSA agents because I was the only woman in the PDX airport  [2] who was not toting a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love in her carry-on bag?

That’s right – I didn’t tell you. Because that never happened. But it felt like it did.

 

 

tsa

Now, turn your head and cough, Ma’am, because if we don’t find a copy of that book you will not be allowed to board your flight.

 

The more EPL was recommended to me [3] the more I resisted jumping on the EPL bandwagon. Besides, after reading interviews with Gilbert, I got the feeling the no-detail-of-my-life-i$-too-private-be-$hared author wasn’t done with exploiting her personal life seeing as how it sold so much better than her fiction sharing her searching-the-world-for-wisdom-so-you-don’t-have-to exploits. I thought I’d bide my time and wait for the box set.

A sequel soon followed, which picked up with the author’s falling in love with/marriage to the Brazilian businessman she met at the end of EPL. The sequel was inaptly titled, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. “Inaptly,” I daresay write, because the peace the author supposedly made with marriage turned out not to be with her own.

In June, Gilbert announced she’d ended her 12 year old marriage (emphases mine):

“Our split is very amicable. Our reasons are very personal. At this time of transition, I hope you will respect our privacy. In my heart, I know that you will do so, because I trust that you understand how this is a story that I am living—not a story that I am telling.”

Privacy?  Oh yeah – that thing defined as the right to keep one’s personal matters and relationships secret. It’s that thing practiced by other people, not Gilbert, who despite her protestations has been telling the story she has been living for the past 12 years.

Sure, I snorted when I read her press release, She wants privacy, I can (continue to) give her privacy. I can also, from experience,  [4]  give her or any privacy-requester a smidgen of advice: if you want your request for privacy to be taken seriously you can start by not giving interviews/press statements/making a living from writing about your private life.

With a publicist’s masterful timing (never reveal everything at once if there’s a chance people will pay for a sequel!), three months after her divorce announcement Gilbert made another spotlight-grabbing broadcast: she’d ended her marriage because she’d fallen in love with a (terminally ill) female friend.

Do I smell another self-serving revelation soon-to-become another LET-ME-TELL-YOU-ABOUT-MY-AMAZING-LIFE-JOURNEY memoir?  [5]  It needs a catchy title:

Eat, Pray, Love, Regurgitate Triumphs And Heartaches, Write, Marry, Regurgitate Some More, Write, Divorce, Ask For Privacy – Holy Misguided Solitude, There’s No Money Or Attention In Discretion! – Write, Discover Gender Fluid Sexuality – Now I’ve Really Got Something To Write About….

 

 

eat_pray_love

Didn’t see the movie, either.

*   *   *

Department Of Wednesday Digressions

The Worst Types Of Workplace Sexists—And How To Fight Them

I cannot recall where I came across the article referenced above, but I am grateful for the memories it brought back.

 

really

 

I’ll try to explain.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked in the women’s reproductive health care field. Stints with Planned Parenthood clinics bookended six years at a dual practitioner (an M.D. and a N.P. [Nurse Practitioner]) [6] OB-GYN practice near Stanford hospital.

Before y’all get the wrong idea, there were no sexists working at that practice. Both of my bosses were wonderful people, as were (most of) the office staff. But as for some of our dealings with other “professionals”…. Let the story hijinks ensue.

Although Dr. B’s office was open Monday-Friday, with rare exceptions neither he nor the NP saw patients on Wednesdays. The day was plenty busy: the practice hosted a new parent support group which met in the waiting room every Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, “backstage” there was catching up on charting and non-emergency callbacks, exam room cleaning/stocking/organizing and preparation for the upcoming week’s patients…and on many Wednesday mornings and/or afternoons, Dr. B would consult, on the phone or in person, with attorneys.

Dr. B had a lucrative “side job” serving as a consultant/reviewer and expert witness  [7] for medical malpractice cases. He loved the work, and not just because of the money. He had a keen, forensically detailed intellect; he found reviewing and analyzing the case files fascinating, and had a knack for explaining complex medical issues to laypersons. The only thing he didn’t like about such consulting was having to deal with lawyers.

Q: What’s the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a lawyer on a motorcycle?
A: The vacuum cleaner has the dirt bag on the inside.

 

 

shark

 

The attorneys I met during those six years were poster children for every lawyer gag you’ve ever heard. They were, with one exception I can recall, all male, and without exception the boy lawyers were sexist, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, windbag asshats. I tried to have as little to do with them as possible, and was mostly successful in that endeavor. Our office manager’s duties included lawyer-wrangling; patient care/education/advocacy was my gig. But there were certain Wednesdays when there was no avoiding the bastard barristers. Like a pair of cheap underpants, they crept up on you.

Dr. B would meet with lawyers in his private office. More often than not, he’d leave his office door open during these meetings. [8]   It’s not that the doc was indiscreet; I figured he just couldn’t stand to be alone with a conniving weasel lawyer (and, much to my surprise, Dr. B confirmed this when I told him my theory about the open door).  [9]

I picked up on Dr. B’s lawyer loathing. On those (mercifully few) occasions when there was no avoiding them, I took petty pleasure in tormenting the malpractice attorneys [10]  in the most passive-aggressive ways possible.

Anecdote the First
Sitting at the front desk with a pile of patient charts and pap smear lab reports, I reluctantly answered the phone (the office manager was taking a potty break). The caller cut short my standard work greeting, “Dr. B’s office, this is Rob…”

Car Phone Lawyer: “Yes, I’m calling from my car phone….”

It was the attorney who was scheduled to meet with Dr. B that morning for a malpractice case consult. The attorney informed me that he was calling from his car phone, and that the purpose of his call was to let us know that he was going to be late for his appointment. He was quite determined that I know he was calling from his car phone – he stated this twice in his opening remarks, mentioned it two more times in what should have been a brief, sorry-I’ve-been-detained-I’ll-get-there-as-soon-as-I-can apology, and ended the call with this fascinating bit of information.

As I mentioned, I’m calling from my car phone….

This was way back in pre cell phone days when, apparently, for Certain Kind$ of People ® there wa$ a certain amount of pre$tige a$$ociated with anyone who had a car phone. Moiself didn’t give a flying fuck if he was calling from a Maxwell Smart shoe phone. Had I asked from where or with what he was calling, and what did it have to do with…anything?

 

 

shoephone

 

 

“So, you’re going to be late…” I wrote a note for Dr. B, who was standing right behind me, his eyes almost audibly rolling toward the ceiling as he drew his index finger across his throat – his sign for I do not want to talk to this asshole until he gets here. Stifling my laughter, I waited for the Car Phone Lawyer to add something relevant, such as his ETA, or perhaps even a brief apology/explanation for his tardiness.

 “Yes,” CPL repeated. “As you know, I’m calling from my car phone…”

“Oh,” I pitched my voice to approximate the oral equivalent of a Sweet Young Thing’s ® smile. “That must be why it sounds like you’re talking into a tin can tied to a string.”

Anecdote #2
Dr. B was in his office, consulting with a malpractice attorney. I walked down the hallway, on my way to inventory amniocentesis kits in the supply closet and prep the ultrasound exam room for the procedure scheduled for the following morning. The office’s ever-brewing coffee pot was on the counter in the lab area, directly opposite Dr. B’s office and clearly visible to anyone sitting in the chair beside Dr. B’s desk…like, say, that attorney.

As I passed by Dr. B’s open door the attorney called out to me. He snapped his fingers – yes, he snapped his fingers – as he did so. “Hey,” (snap snap),”how about a cup of coffee?”

“Oh, no thank you,” I cheerfully replied, without breaking my stride.  [11]

We didn’t know about mic drops back then, so I’ll ask the Notorious RBG to give a belated Bam! on my behalf.

 

 

rbg

*   *   *

Department of Life’s Simple Pleasures

Dateline: 7:50 am-ish, [12] near the tail end of my morning walk, I exit a neighborhood park via a pathway that leads through a cul-de-sac. I am at a nexus in the neighborhood space-time continuum: parents are walking their children to the elementary school one block south, preteens are schlumping toward the junior high two blocks northwest, and high school students are either heading for their bus stop or getting into cars with their parents.

I walk down the middle of the street and approach a house on the left just as a boy and his (presumed) mother exit the house and head for a car parked at the curb. The boy is tall, refreshingly skinny, with skateboard-sized feet which indicate much gangliness in his future. His childlike face belies his height – he looks all of 12 or 13 to me, yet he’s dangling car keys from his right hand. He heads to the passenger’s door, hesitates for a moment, then circles around to the driver’s door, his expression equal parts fear and anticipation.

I smile as I stride past the car, and chuckle to myself: Ah, driver’s permit. First week.

 

 

student-driver

*   *   *

May you have patience with student drivers;
May you appreciate how truly easy it is to read a newspaper;
May you savor life’s mic drop moments;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Read: I was overcome by a snort/laugh attack.

[2] Consistently rated one of American’s best airports. Not that we want you to come here all that much….

[3] including by More Than One Well-Read And Intelligent Friend Who Said The Author’s Writing Style Reminded Them Of Me ©

[4] Admittedly, not the kind that get$ paid a$ well a$ writing about Gilbert’s private life.

[5] To be followed by seminars and workshops advising mere mortal women on how they can do the same.

[6] who were also husband and wife (although not all of their patients knew this).

[7] The vast majority of malpractice cases settled out of court.

[8] something that would never happen these days, what with HIPAA and other privacy concerns and regulations.

[9] Was the good doctor joking or not? I may never know.

[10] Which had the bonus of thoroughly entertaining my bosses, both the doc and the NP.

[11] By doing so, I had won Dr. B’s eternal respect. I swear, after that Wednesday morning, the good doctor looked for ways to finagle attorneys into asking me that question. And it happened more than once. The attorneys would never ask directly/politely for anything, as in, “May I kindly trouble you for a cup of coffee?”

[12] As in morning-ish, not as in Amish..ish.

The Sweet Nothings I’m Not Whispering

Comments Off on The Sweet Nothings I’m Not Whispering

 

Another legend has retired. I’m not the only person who’ll be reminiscing about this one.

It’s a dry/hot So Cal summer evening, and my childhood home has no AC, not even a floor fan. My parents open the windows in their bedroom, hoping for a light cross-breeze; hoping for air circulation. They let me curl up on their bed until I fall asleep, and the next morning, due to that wonder of nature which is Transporting A Sleeping Child ®,  I wake up in my own bed with no memory of how I’d gotten there.  [1]

My parents almost always had their bedroom radio on in the evening. More often than not, in the summer it would be tuned to the broadcast of a LA Dodgers game, whether it was a home game (in the stadium known as Chavez Ravine) or an away game. Night after night, I fell asleep listening to That Voice ® which belonged to the play-by-play announcer deemed the “greatest baseball broadcaster of all time.

 

 

dodger

 

 

“It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.”

 

There was a gap – of how many years, I’m unsure – between my early childhood,  falling-asleep-listening-to-the-Dodgers-game years, and when I began developing my own interest in baseball.  [2] Those years paralleled my thinking I was too old/cool to spend time in my parent’s room listening to the radio (especially when there was Star Trek on the TV, which was in the living room).

And then there was another blistering hot summer night – this time, after my parents had purchased a floor fan, which they kept in their bedroom. [3] I plopped down on their bed, savoring the fan’s breeze, and was both mesmerized and unnerved by That Voice coming from the radio.  

“That sound – what’s… it’s that voice! WHO is that voice?!”

The voice was at once so familiar and soothing and yet for a moment I couldn’t place it, and it unnerved me. The lyrical, almost literary phrasing; the distinctive tone, melodious and comforting – was it from a recurring childhood dream?

The voice, of course, belonged to the reassuring narrator of so many of my primal, happy childhood memories. Thank you, Vin Scully.

 

 

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Department of Nifty Segues

 

Speaking of sports legends, I am neither a fan of golf nor of bastardized ice tea-lemonade beverages, but I know who Arnold Palmer is was. Thus, when I heard Palmer had died, I dutifully began to read a New York Times articles paying tribute to him. No disrespect to the man and his status, but I didn’t get very far before I was overtaken by a case of hyperbole-induced giggles:

“Palmer captivated fans with his ferocious swing and fearless attitude…”

 

 

 

142nd Open Championship - Round Three

And all us duffers captivate the ladies with our ferocious fashion sense.

 

 

Um, okay.

Now then: I recognize that, being a nonparticipant and non-fan, there are nuances to the game of golf of which I am unaware and therefore do not appreciate. But still…

Words like ferocious and fearless are non sequitur descriptors when used in a story related to the attributes of a golfer. Golf is a sport game that can be played by otherwise out-of-shape and sedentary beings; it is the pastime of white middle-aged men wearing pants made of materials and patterns they’d be embarrassed – and rightfully so – to wear in any other circumstance. [4]

Ferocious and fearless? A golf course’s hazards are ponds and sand, not wolverines or samurai.

 

golfsamurai

Play through and die, Gai-jin

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Department Of Disgusting Yet Unfortunately Not Surprising Revelations

Two mentions of people who made positive contributors to their sport; I close this blog with an example of some really, really, really – and did I mention really ? – poor sports.

Reports have surfaced about how, beginning in the 1960s and for the past five decades, the sugar industry paid scientists to downplay the role added dietary sugar plays in heart disease –  a role we now know is substantial – and to tried to shift the blame to consumption of fats.

There’s no evidence that the SRF (Sugar Research Foundation) directly edited the manuscript published…but there is “circumstantial” evidence that the interests of the sugar lobby shaped the conclusions of the review, the researchers say.

For one thing, there’s motivation and intent. In 1954, the researchers note, the president of the SRF gave a speech describing a great business opportunity.

If Americans could be persuaded to eat a lower-fat diet — for the sake of their health — they would need to replace that fat with something else. America’s per capita sugar consumption could go up by a third.

(From the NPR story on the newly published article,
“Sugar Industry and Coronary Heart Disease Research:
A Historical Analysis of Internal Industry Documents,” JAMA, 9-12-16 )

 

The sugar industry’s strategy was effective: American’s sugar consumption over the past three decades rose by more than 31%, and we’ve got the obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease rates to prove it.

Whisper sweet nothings in my ear, but keep your fucking saccharine propaganda out of my science, okay?

 

 

american-sugar-consumption1

The amount of sugar consumed (by the average American), when piled in a wheelbarrow, is a rather phallic-looking heap, and it can’t be good for your health to be eating the equivalent of a Godzilla-sized sugar dick.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you read sugar studies with a grain of salt;
May you be wary of games which actually require true ferocity;
May a voice from your past induce memories of warm summer nights;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] How I long to be able to sleep that deeply, now!

[2] Grades 5-6, perhaps.

[3] The radio; the fan…my parents got all the good stuff in their room.

[4] Is that where the “fearless” comes in?

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