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The Prank I’m Not Playing

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Department Of Good Sports

Dateline: Monday, April 2; a local yoga studio. My fellow yogis were gracious participants in my idea to play a belated April Fools’ Day prank on our equally gracious instructor.

If you’ve attended a yoga class and/or have a home practice, you may be familiar with the variety of props that may be used to attain and/or enhance certain asanas[1]

 

 

yogaprops

 

 

Some people and classes use several props (e.g., blocks, straps and bolsters) while others use little to none. The classes I attend typically use a strap for a couple of poses, the blocks for maybe one or two, and bolsters for sitting and/or final relaxation. But it has always seemed to me that there was a prop missing. During poses targeting head and neck flexibility and strengthening or those concerned with posture or spinal alignment, when I hear the suggestion to lengthen the crown of your head, I think to moiself, “There ought to be a prop for that.”

April 1 fell on a Sunday. For Monday’s class, I was prepared. I’d purchased 24 paper crowns (Did you bring enough for everyone in the class, young lady?) and passed them out to my fellow yogis before class. The rest is history.

 

 

 

yogacrowns

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, Who, Moiself – Foodie Trend-follower?

I love me some avocadoes. I consume at least half of one avocado per day, included in my breakfast or lunch, or sometimes dinner.  [2]   But it never occurred to me to use an avocado to construct that most trendy of foods items. Until now.

Oh, look, I made some avocado toast.  To strive for authenticity, I’m thinking of charging moiself  $15 for it.

 

 

 

avotoast

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Don’t Expect (Or Want) To See In Trader Joe’s Parking Lot

It was just another shopper, pushing another red Trader Joe’s  shopping cart. Her cart was filled with groceries and there was a child  [3]  sitting in the kid seat portion of the cart. The other TJ Shopper ® and I were headed in the same direction; she was in front of me, and as I got closer to her I noticed something odd about the child. Its body size and movements (and the fact that it was sitting up unsupported) made me guess the kid was just under a year old, and its torso and limbs were in standard/chubby baby proportions…but the kid’s head was massively outsized, and blocky.

I quickened my pace and got a look at the child’s face.  Yikes, to say the least. It was as if someone had gotten hold of a 3 D printer and superimposed the head of Ricky Gervais onto an eleven-month’s old body.

 

 

 

terror

 

 

 

Now, I happen to admire much about that comic provocateur, Ricky Gervais. I’d love to espy his big head, say, one day when I glance through my office window and say, Isn’t that the multi-talented, stand-up comic/writer/actor/director/producer Ricky Gervais standing on my front porch?, and then I’d invite him in for a cup of tea and we can have a jolly good time poking fun at politics and religion and Caitlyn Jenner and other people who take themselves way too seriously.  But to see that enormous mug of his on top of a baby’s neck….

For the briefest of moments I considered returning to TJ’s, buying up all the Two Buck Chuck  in the store and drinking it in the backseat of my car.

I was going to try to find a couple of pictures online,  [4]  do some photo-shopping, and come up with something similar (to what I saw) to share with my readers. But it’s so kind of y’all to be reading this – I’ve no desire to ruin the rest of your day.  Instead, here’s a more pleasant occupant-of-a-shopping-cart image for you to ponder.

 

 

 

shopping cart

*   *   *

Department Of Do You Recognize Padding When You See It?

 

As you may have noticed, I’ve not much profound to say/report on this week.

 

 

einsteinduhjpg

 

 

Correction: actually, there is (too) much to say, much of it involving subjects that have been weighing on my mind recently. One of them is so bleak…think along the lines of articles by people even more thoughtful and articulate than moiself   [5]  who are willing to tackle such feel-good topics as

Robots taking human jobs causing hellish dystopia

Kurt Vonnegut’s Dystopian Future Has Come To Pass

Artificial Intelligence Will Best Humans At Everything By 2060, Experts Say

The US opioid addiction is an omen of a ‘hellish dystopian’ future, scientist claims, as AI takes over billions of jobs, leaving people to lead meaningless and miserable lives….

Not to be a downer or anything.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you already be working on next year’s April Fool’s Day shenanigans;
May you be pleasantly surprised by the next thing you see at a Trader Joe’s parking lot;
May you never pay $15  [6]  for anything on toast;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yoga poses or postures.

[2] Does anyone else remember when (to non-Californians) avocados were considered by some folk to be “exotic”?

[3] Presumably hers…although I noticed absolutely no familial resemblance.

[4] Of Mr. Gervais and random male babies.

[5] Make that, 100 times more….

[6]  Not even if it’s platinum-plated caviar (and why you’d want to eat fish eggs – with or without plating – is beyond moiself).

The Hair I’m Not Straightening

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Department Of What Is Wrong With This Picture

Dateline: At the hair salon…waiting for my turn…looking for anything other than Hairstyles of the Rich and Famous or celebrity tragedy magazines to pass the time. The pickings are slim. I pick up some kind of My House is More Beautiful Than Your House magazine. On the magazine’s second page I see the following photo, which accompanies advertising copy re furnishing one’s “dream house.” A certain detail gave me the feeling that the photographer and/or photo-stager had never actually cooked real food in a real kitchen.

 

 

pasta

 

 

Call me crazy, but my dream house would include having cooks residing therein who know the proper pasta-to-cooking-pot ratio.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Darndest Things

 

 

 

kids say

 

 

 

Yet another dateline: last Thursday evening; after the afore-alluded-to haircut.

Backstory: I get my hair cut every six weeks. My current stylist  [1] blow dries/flat irons my hair to razor sharp, shiny verticality, which means that for 2-3 days every 6 weeks, I have really straight hair.  Ever since the birth of daughter Belle my hair has had a natural curl, no chemical inducement necessary.  [2]  The hair thing turned out to be one of those “temporary” pregnancy changes that stuck around après baby.

The first time the stylist suggested she blow dry my hair straight was four years ago, when Belle was a senior in high school.  Belle loved the way my hair looked when it was straight. MH and son K did not. They said,

You don’t look like yourself.

I agreed with them, even as I decided to forgo listing the upside of not looking like moiself every now and then.  I assured my spouse and our son that, regardless of whether or not I liked my hair straight, I’ve neither the time, the patience, nor the girly-hair-styling-skillset (nor the desire to acquire the latter) to successfully and regularly wield the Implements of Hair Uncurling ®. Thus, the look which they found so objectionable would be episodic and brief, at most.

Last week, on the eve when I returned from the salon, K made the inevitable comment re my hair. I said I was well aware that he didn’t like my hair “this way.” Before moiself could solicit reasons for his dislike, K offered the following:

“It’s just that it makes you look, in my opinion, like a soccer mom who brings Kraft Singles for the after-game snacks.  [3]

Damn right I raised that young man.

 

kraft

If this don’t straighten y’all’s hair, nothing will.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Continuing Datelines

Dateline: in line for a matinee showing of the movie, Love, Simon. Overhearing their interactions with the ticket clerk, I realize that the several women (all over a certain age, by the senior discounts I hear them claim) in front of me in the ticket line have each, separately, come to the theater to see Love, Simon. I offer an observation about that to the universe, after which the woman directly in front of me, and then the two women behind me, chime in about how they too have come to the theatre, separately, to see the same movie.

When was my turn  [4] I said to the ticket clerk, One for…can you guess? Ticket Clerk Lady’s face went blank for just a moment, until I followed up with, Yep, we middle-aged women all love us some Simon.

 

 

 

 

movieold

I’d enjoy this more if we were both older ladies.

*   *   *

 

It was great fun having Belle home for spring break (two weeks ago), and also getting to meet The Boyfriend. ® [5]  Belle, who will graduate in May  [6] with a B.S. in Biology, is pursuing a variety of jobs and internships that have to do with animal care, conservation and education; i.e.,  zoos and animal rescue/sanctuary organizations

Near the end of Belle’s visit I ventured to make a potentially touchy observation about her après-graduation plans. Which is just the kind of comment every child anticipates and appreciates…

 

 

said2

 

 

 

The internships she’s applied for – a couple of which have already been offered to her – are with Big Cat and/or other “exotic” animal parks. These organizations describe themselves as providing “a sanctuary to wild cats in need.” Translation: there are, unfortunately, a great many delusional/ narcissistic people who think that it would be fun to own an exotic animal, and/or  that owning an exotic wild animal would make them stand out and be special – that the wildness of the animal will somehow give them cred. A few weeks or months after acquiring an exotic pet (whether via legal or questionable means), Joe Lookatmei’mcoolIownatiger realizes that the cub which was so adorable at 8 weeks old is growing into AN ACTUAL FRIGGIN’ TIGER – never mind that the breeder assured them it was from eight generations of “domesticated” tigers [7] and was really just a big, big pussy cat. [8]  At that point, Joe either voluntarily abandons/surrenders the animal or is forced to do so by his neighbors or an animal welfare organization.

Enter Wild Cat Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, et al, who offer a place for these discarded “pets” –  along with animals rescued or retired from circuses or other anachronistic “entertainment” shows –  to live out the remainder of their lives in as natural a setting as possible.  These organizations also work to, essentially, put themselves out of business. That is, they lobby for legislation which would end the captive wildlife crisis by outlawing the buying, selling, breeding and exhibiting of such animals. (Truly a noble cause – one which has been close to Belle’s heart for many years now, even preceding her years of volunteering at the Oregon Zoo.)

 

 

tiger

No, I do not belong in your backyard…but hey, dude, thanks for the golden retriever snack.

 

 

 

These organizations are almost always privately funded. Read: they are financed hand to mouth (claw to maw?) and are always scrapped for funds. Usually only the executive directors (if anyone) are paid; thus, they depend heavily on volunteers. Their internships typically run for three to six months; interns are compensated with board and a meal stipend, but no salary. So, interns get experience (and at certain sanctuaries it may indeed be the experience of a lifetime) in a field with arguably no future.  Unless you are able to turn the experience into qualifications to work as a zoo keeper,  [9] such internships provide experience for “jobs’ for which there are no paid positions.

Yet again, I digress. About that potentially touchy observation about her après-graduation employment plans.

I asked Belle if she knew the percentage of female applicants/volunteers in the internship programs to which she has applied.  She said she didn’t.  I said it wouldn’t surprise me if the stats showed 80% (or more) female. When Belle asked me why, I asked The Boyfriend ® to confirm or deny the observation I was about to make: what I considered to be an accurate if frustrating reflection on cultural conditioning/gender influences; specifically, re how both girls and boys grow up seeing – still, in 2018 – (mostly) women do much of the work upon which our society and the corporate world depends (e.g. managing home and the rearing of children), and for which you’d have to pay a lot of $$ to hire someone outside the family to do, but this work is unpaid and undervalued, thus leading to the lowered expectations of girls’ and women’s market worth….

But, I didn’t phrase it that way. I summed it up thusly (and noticed that The Boyfriend ® ruefully smiled at Belle before he nodded at me in agreement):

Men and boys learn early on not to work for free.

*   *   *

 

 

May you recognize an employer’s disincentive
to pay you if you’re willing to work for free;
May you slap into next Saturday the face of anyone who attempts to analogize the previous professional caveat into the personal realm;   [10]
May you never be forced to eat Kraft Singles, ® for any reason;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] It sounds so strange to me, to write that I have a “stylist,” but I don’t know what else to call her and that’s what she calls herself.

[2] A phenomenon which my previous, before-and-after pregnancy haircutter had noticed and commented on.

[3] Both of my offspring had somewhat ignominious (and blessedly brief) tenures on kiddie soccer teams. It wasn’t their thing, and so MH and I never had the opportunity to be Soccer parents.

[4] No footnote here. Move along, now.

[5] He took time off from work to accompany her.

[6] Or so she assures us.

[7] Ain’t no such thing. You can’t breed the wild out of wildlife.

[8] Imagine the behaviors innate to a housecat – scratching the furniture, jumping on the countertops, sometimes getting overexcited when playing rough with its owner and putting its claws out – magnified by an animal ten times the size and strength of your tabby.

[9] A very competitive field, with few openings.

[10] Yep, I’m talkin’ the odious cow/free milk equivalency that was spewed by Previous Generations. ®  Which I actually heard from one of my aunts, many decades ago, when I was a recent college graduate home for a visit with my parents. My aunt (also visiting my parents) was chatting with my mother and moiself about the lives of my aunt’s four adult children. She said she highly doubted that her youngest son would marry his girlfriend because they were already…well…sleeping together, and – she shot a knowing glance to my mother and a warning glance to moiself – why buy the cow….you know the rest.  A delicious coda to the story: that son of hers did go on to marry that girlfriend, and from all appearances they have had and continue to have a happy marriage (and he is the only one of that aunt’s children who has not been divorced).

The Omission I’m Not Admitting

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Department Of Corrections

Dateline: Sunday eve. As I settled in one of the Comfy Chairs ® in our family room, looking over my 2018 Oscar ballot (along with fellow Eager Oscar Watchers MH and friend LH), I gasped in horror and embarrassment. My reaction was worthy of a supporting acting nomination, as I realized I was mistaken re my previous claims (on this blog, to fellow movie-loving friends, to total strangers in the quick check line at the Home Depot….  [1] ) of having seen every movie nominated for the Academy Awards  “Big Ones.”

 

 

To Protect, Serve, And Apologize

 

 

 

Just in case y’all have lives as pathetic as mine are wondering, the “Big Ones” are the seven awards for Best _____

Picture;
Director;
Actors in a Leading Role, male and female;
Actors in a Supporting Role, male and female;
Best Original Screenplay  [2]

There was the name, Canadian, dignified, yet mocking me for my smugness.  Christopher Plummer,  number four of the five actors listed for Actor in a Supporting Role, for his role as multi gazillionaire J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World, a movie I’d made plans to see with a friend.  I can’t remember what happened…but I didn’t see that movie.

Christopher, darling, loooooove your work all these years – and really, could anyone have played a Shakespeare-reciting Klingon general as well as you did?    [3]   So sorry to have missed your latest.  I hope you’ll forgive me.

 

 

A pox upon the silly human; I am sick with laughter as she fears her remembrance doth hold rank!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Stress Reduction
Sub-Department Of Eventually Luck Runs Out

No political rants today; the week has been stressful enough.  To wit: one of the many, many things I do not “believe in” – including gods, the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, and the accuracy of the garment label claim, one size fits all – is “fate.’  Accordingly, I also do not believe that I can, intentionally or otherwise, “temp fate.”

So, apparently it’s just sonofabitch coincidence that, two days after musing to moiself, apropos of nothing, Golly gee, it’s been 40 years since anyone has hit my car, am I lucky or what?!, guess what happens in the parking lot of the Elderberry Inn on Highway 26?

Ford truck backing up, meet stationary Subaru Outback.

 

 

 

 

 

The first Very Nice Claims Department Person (for the insurance company of the dude who hit me  [4]) I spoke with asked me to describe the extent of the damage (to my front passenger door), starting with, Have you checked to see if the door still works?

I told her the door can be opened and shut and locked; I didn’t know about the power window (which was all the way up,) and would not check it. VNCDP asked why I would not check the window. The question surprised me. I told her I’d leave that to an auto service person and would NOT attempt to ascertain whether the window “works,” seeing as how:

(a)  This is NW Oregon (the claims dept person was located…somewhere else); it rains, frequently. It is raining right now, even as we speak. Thus, even if I am able to get the window down…

(b) I might not be able to get it up

(c) I realize (b) is a problem typically associated with men….

 

Okay; I stopped myself from saying (c). But I did think it.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I get to be acquainted with just how much fun it is to deal with insurance bureaucracy and repair estimates…and with what appears to be, as of this writing, the looming/potential ignoring of responsibility by the Dude Who Was Initially So Cooperative ®   [5] – a dude who almost made his boneheaded-act worthwhile  [6]  by telling me, as I was photographing his insurance card and driver’s license, how he’d once backed his truck into his wife’s car.

Your Honor, the Defendant has already admitted that he doesn’t look where he’s going when he puts his truck in reverse….

 

 

 

Why do I get all the bone heads in *my* courtroom?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of This Ought To Last Him

Back in the day, I used to regularly make buttermilk biscuits for son K and daughter Belle.  I gradually and persistently tweaked the recipe as the years went by, trying out more “healthful” ingredients,  [7]   but one thing that remained the same was son K’s love of Gloria’s Mount Hood Marionberry Fruit Spread as a biscuit topping.

I fell out of regular biscuit baking when the offspring flew the proverbial nest. Son K graduated college three years ago and is living and working nearby. He has turned into an occasional and enthusiastic baker, and recently asked for my biscuit recipe. He also wanted to know where he could find that marionberry fruit spread he loved so much (he’d looked, but had been unable to find it in any local stores).

Even when I served it on a regular basis, it had been difficult to find a regular supply of the stuff  – I used to order it by the case from the maker. I searched the web and thought I’d found a supplier via the Made in Oregon website, but the site had an out of stock notice re the marionberry spread. Perhaps, I sadly posited to K, it’s no longer being made?

A few weeks ago I spontaneously decided to stop and check out a roadside store I pass regularly on my drives to and from the coast. I had long been intrigued by the signs outside the store advertising the store’s various specialty items, such as, “vegan jerky.”  After stopping to sample the store’s wares I was able to assure MH that vegan jerky was not, in fact, “jerky made from vegans” (which was his guess). Unexpected bonus: the store had jars of various flavors of Gloria’s fruit spreads, including a couple of the Mount Hood Marionberry K adores. Gloria’s was still being produced, the store clerk assured me, but she had no idea where the store got their supply.

I did my Internet Snooping Thing, ®  found the local producer, and….

What to get your 25 year old son for his birthday?  Why, this, of course:

 

 

Shown: case one of two

*   *   *

May you correct that which needs correcting;
May we all live in the future wherein car repairs are accomplished with a Harry Potter-ish Carrus Reparo spell;
May someone love you enough to give you cases of your favorite fruit preserves for your birthday;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

And a (one day belated) Happy Birthday to my favorite son.

Son K, age 2 ¾, Mackenzie River Valley, circa Fall 1995

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To the dude with the pack of florescent light bulbs, I am so sorry.

[2] I vacillate on including Best Adapted Screenplay in my “big ones” category;  I want the original author of the adapted material to get the lion’s share of the credit.

[3] In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

[4] Which shall not be mentioned by name here…unless they really piss me off, so stay tuned.

[5] Of course he was, seeing as how he hit me.

[6] Strike that – of course it wasn’t worthwhile, under any circumstances.

[7] Replacing most of the unbleached white flour with oat flour and whole wheat pastry flour; using non dairy “milks” and/or yogurts and other substitutes for butter….

The Flu I’m Not Catching

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Department Of No (Further) Comment On This

Dateline: February 14 (Valentine’s Day), driving home from an errand. Before embarking on said errand I’d just heard about the latest   [1]  brave citizen exercising his second amendment rights  opportunity for the R & Rs (Republicans and the Religious)  [2]  to offer their oh-so effective, Our prayers are with the citizens of  _______ (insert location of mass shooting).  I turn on the radio, and tune in to the middle of a feature about children affected by war. When I hear the story’s narrator declare that “…one in six children worldwide live in or near a conflict zone,” my first thought is, “like, they live near an American high school?”

 

*   *   *

 

Dateline: early Monday morning. It came on with a rapidity that woke me from a solid sleep – cough, body aches, extreme me fatigue, chills and shaking so strongly I thought I was going to wake up MH. When I was able to get control of the shaking (2:20 am) I made my way to the bathroom and took my temperature: 102.2.˚  My first thought….

 

 

cursing

 

 

Never mind. My second thought was, Am I going to be one of those people who catches the flu despite having received a flu shot?

Although my seasonal allergies make me prone to year-round sniffles, I can’t remember the last time I was actually sick.  I’d forgotten…what am I supposed to do? Oh, yeah: bring down the folding TV tray from the attic and camp out on the downstairs couch, with a big glass of water and the TV remote control on the tray.

My advice to those who have the misfortune to be sick: if you have to be under the weather, try to do so when the Olympics are on.

And a day later, seemingly as quickly as it came on, my affliction eased up and I was on the proverbial Road to….(all together now)

 

 

recovery

 

 

I’ll never know if what I’d caught was one of the flu viruses which are going around. The symptoms fit; my relatively rapid recovery might be attributable to the fact that having had the vaccination will make the virus milder if you do catch it.

One bright moment in feeling miserable: it is reassuring to see one’s immune system going through its paces. I visualized my fever as a friend, torching the invading virus particles….

 

 

immune

*   *   *

Department Of Ick

The opening lines of a recent article The Hillsboro Tribune on a local independent butcher shop, The Meating Place  (my emphases),

Pushing open the door to The Meating Place in Hillsboro, the first thing customers see is a gleaming display case with nary a smudge or smear on the glass.
Row upon row of neatly stacked sausages, pepperoni sticks, pepper steaks and stuffed pork chops — among dozens of other delicacies — meet their eyes and tempt their palates.
Those same eyes soon light on David Quinn, the gregarious guardian of the cold case, who sports an epic red beard and colorful tattoos up and down both forearms.

I’m all for supporting local businesses, especially those which might be termed, artisanal   [3] (and these days, isn’t everything?).  And BTW, should you ever find any typos or grammatical and/or factual boo-boos in this space, it is not because I am sloppy/lazy/careless. It is because I am an artist, and this is an artisanal blog.

 

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

Although I have friends who shop at The Meating Place and have used (and praised) TMP‘s butchering services, the photos accompanying the newspaper article were…poorly chosen and/or composed, to put it mildly. Frankly, IMHO they were yet another unintentional but effective advertisement for going vegetarian.

Seemingly ignoring current health preparation guidelines, the afore-mentioned gregarious guardian’s epic red beard was unrestrained by any kind of hairnet or other protective/cover device, in photos that showed the prodigious hirsuteness cozying up to a meat slicer filled with bacon, and also going cheek to cheek with a tray of steaks.

(The print article featured those particular pictures. The online version has a slide show of many more photos – the ones I refer to here are captioned, David Quinn slices bacon for a custom order…” and “David Quinn holds a tray of bacon-wrapped ribeyes…”)

 

 

hairburger

 

 

 

Another excerpt from the Tribune article (my emphases):

The company’s products — all cut, dried, smoked or otherwise prepared on-site — practically sell themselves, Quinn says, adding that appearances count. “I’m the aesthetics guy,” he notes.

That is so true: appearances count.  The gut reactions of moiself   [4] and then MH,  [5] when I showed him the article’s pictures, were along the lines of,

DUUUDE – why are your bacon-wrapped ribeyes sprinkled with short & curlies?!?

There’s no way I want anyone’s “epic” (read: bushy on steroids and free-range to the max) facial adornment near my food. Any self-described aesthetics guy – and every person in the food industries, artisanal or otherwise  – should know that unrestrained hair is both an aesthetic turn off as well as a food preparation and handling no-no.

 

 

mia

 

 

 

Not to beat a dead horse, but here’s a sample of the info out there (my emphases):    [6]

 

“Men are six times more likely to shed hair from their faces rather than the top of their heads, and that has some food service advocates worried. The good news is that many workplaces already have hair restraint policies in effect, and governmental regulators like the FDA have required both hair and beard nets for years.”
(Which Of Your Workers Should Wear Hair Nets…Or Beard Nets?, Solus Group Material Handling Depot)

“Facial hair ‘is the fashion of the time, and I’m sure the health department is not happy about this fashion,’ said (an owner of an eating establishment, where more than half of the male kitchen staff sport beards). ….
The…health code stipulates that ‘all food handlers engaged in the preparation of food” use “effective hair restraints to confine hair.’ That goes for beard hair, however bushy or trimmed it may be (said a spokeswoman for the Chicago Dept.of Public Health.)….
beards are dirty — as dirty as a toilet seat, a New Mexico TV station reported last week. The station swabbed the beards of a group of men and had the samples tested by a microbiology lab that returned the surprising results.”
(from, “Your Cool Bearded Chef Should Be Wearing A Beard Net, Health Officials Say

Sec. 110.10 Personnel.

…. (b) Cleanliness: All persons working in direct contact with food, food-contact surfaces, and food-packaging materials shall conform to hygienic practices while on duty to the extent necessary to protect against contamination of food. The methods for maintaining cleanliness include, but are not limited to:
(6) Wearing, where appropriate, in an effective manner, hair nets, headbands, caps, beard covers, or other effective hair restraints.

( from  CURRENT GOOD MANUFACTURING PRACTICE IN MANUFACTURING, PACKING, OR HOLDING HUMAN FOOD
Subpart A-General Provisions Title 21, Food And Drug Administration, Department Of Health And Human Services)

 

 

 

 

thanksforlistening

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you remain healthy and fever-free during this worst in years flu season;
May you have your comfy rituals to soothe yourself, should you fall ill;
May you never have to contemplate whether kissing a bearded man is,
microbiologically speaking, akin to kissing a toilet seat;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Only In America ® does the phrase the latest precede mass shooting and/or school shooting….

[2] Not that members of either group may offer that sentiment insincerely…but holy crap, folks, have you figured out that your prayers don’t have a flying fuck’s worth of efficacy?

[3] Definition: relating to or characteristic of an artisan (“artisanal skills”); a product (especially food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way (e.g., “artisanal cheeses”).

[4] a former (but currently  non-) meat eater.

[5] An enthusiastic omnivore.

[6] And if I came upon a dead horse and did not want to waste the carcass, I’d make sure the butcher shop I took it too adhered to basic hygienic food processing standards.

The Optimism I’m Not Sharing

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Department Of Things That Make Me Feel Like A Curmudgeon
Aka, A Pessimist Reads  “The Optimists”

A special edition of Time magazine (The Optimists, January 15) features a guest editor for the first time in the magazine’s 94-year-old history: Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, bagajajillionaire and global philanthropist. Gates has picked a slew of fellow guest editors and writers, running the gamut from scientists to celebrities, to curate “data and insights from leaders in many fields to show the upside of what’s ahead.”

Although I was initially attracted to picture of the grinning Ethiopian five-year-old boy on the cover as a symbol of optimism, I cringed to read the picture’s caption: Why The World Should Celebrate Mohamad Nasir’s Fifth Birthday.

 

 

#5

 

 

 

Yeah, happy birthday kid. And I’m sorry about your name.

The article featuring the boy (and six other Ethiopian children) is used as a focal point for the other issue’s articles; i.e., hope for the future vis-à-vis the fact that, “Thirty years ago, 1 in 5 children in Ethiopia didn’t live to their fifth birthdays.”

IMHO, whatever optimism I may hold for the future is tempered by the fact that in 2018 people continue to name their children after their religious leaders/idols/prophets.

And I have to wonder, given that more Ethiopian children are now growing into adulthood, what will that mean for a country whose birthrate is so high?  Unless you have cultural and infrastructural changes which allow for and encourage family planning, you are increasing the base rate for multiplication of even more poor people competing for even more finite resources. Ethiopia’s birthrate has been gradually declining, but it is still in the top 20 of the world. Its fellow countries on that sad list are almost all African, and are all – surprise! – also on the list of the world’s most impoverished countries.

It seems every third article in The Optimists deals, either directly or obliquely, with the global status of women, and how, “…there is nowhere on earth where women have the same opportunity as men.  Nowhere.”  Any (non-religiously proselytizing) global aid worker will tell you that education and empowerment of girls and women is the key to lifting people out of poverty, and that as birth rates decline, the health of and educational opportunities for women and girls increase. 

Here’s something else many global aid workers will tell you, if they think it is safe to do so: “Culture” (read: religion) is the biggest obstacle to empowering and educating girls and women, especially and including the idea – heretical to all religions, up until relatively recently – that females have the right to be educated about, and be in control of, their own bodies and fertility.

The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.
(Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

 

Augustinejpg

 

 

 

*     [For women] the very consciousness of their own nature
must evoke feelings of shame.
(Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian, ca.150-215, Pedagogues II, 33, 2)

*  Woman is a temple built over a sewer.
(Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

*   No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise.
(Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, 1483-1546)

   *   The root of masculine is stronger, and of feminine weaker.
The sun is a governing planet to certain planets, while the moon borrows her light from the sun, and is less or weaker.
(Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS movement)

(For more fun quotes which, after reading them, will make you want to douse your eyeballs in isopropyl, see 20 Vile Quotes Against Women By [Christian] Religious Leaders From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, Alternet    [1])

 

“Naturally there will be fundamentalists in any religion, who insist on literal interpretations of outdated dogma. But the problem is not just with fundamentalism, but with Islam itself, says author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her book, The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation for Women and Islam, she pinpoints three reasons why the Muslim world lags behind the West and, increasingly, Asia. First, “Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, or guardians…..The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen. Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality that makes Muslim men the owners of women and obliges them to prevent their mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, and wives from having sexual contact….”
(Big Think, Does Islam really Subjugate Women)

“A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.”
(Traditional Islamic saying)
“Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”
Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Quaranic commentary).(Citations from the Council of Ex-Muslims online forum, topic: I left Islam because I am a woman)

 

 

 

 

no comment

 

 

 

I take good news wherever/whenever I can, but I’m too much of a realist to think The Optimists is brimming with good news.  I find little optimism in a “fact” which touts that more people are surviving in countries which have high adherence to fundamentalist religions. All these people, “surviving” (and then reproducing) for what – to be potential foot soldiers for the next our-gods-told-us-to-grab-your-land-and oppress your people war?   [2]

 

 

 

witches

 

 

 

 

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Department of Existential Crisis

Moiself went through a bit of one after seeing the movie “I, Tonya” , which I highly recommend (the movie – not the existential crisis). Leaving the theatre with friend and fellow cinema buff CC, I started flashing back to my extended family’s distressing history, some details of which are long known to me and my siblings, some only suspected and recently confirmed.

I’ve written previously if very briefly about the life of poverty and deprivation my father’s family endured before, during and after The Great Depression. There were other aspects of his family life (child neglect and abuse; undiagnosed/misdiagnosed/mistreated adult mental illness and illiteracy) that go beyond – read: are not excused by – economic circumstances.

The movie brought the issue to a forefront for me, as yet again I wondered (this time, aloud to CC) about the formula no behavioral and developmental scientists have yet figured out: how is it that some people are able to escape a “white trash” [3]  background, while so many others stay and repeat (and then pass on) the dysfunctional behavior and thinking?

 

 

itonya

 One bad choice after another: chain-smoking asthmatic Tonya Harding
(here depicted in the movie, I Tonya, by actor Margot Robbie).  

 

 

 

 

How fortunate was my immediate family, the one my father created with my mother, that my father was able to get away?!  Given what he, or any child in such circumstances, was surrounded by – when that is all you have and all you see and you are told by those who may (or may not) love you but who certainly have control over you that this is your life – how was he even able to imagine a different future for himself?  How did he recognize that he wanted to do so – that, as he once phrased it to me, he knew he needed to get out?  It blows my mind  [4]  when I think about how he was able to marry and raise a family, be a loving and kind husband and father (despite the abominable example his own father provided in those roles), and keep his wife and children “safe” from (and mostly oblivious to) the deprivations and degradations of his own upbringing.

It is a complicated equation – the factors leading to paths a child may eventually choose, coming from an environment over which a child has no choice.  As to how this relates to the events depicted in the movie, Tonya Harding certainly made some dubious choices, to put it mildly.  I am no Harding apologist – I believe she was much more complicit, in the figure skating scandal and in her pubic skirmishes in the years that followed, than she admits to.  And yet it seemed obvious to me, even before the attack on Kerrigan, that Oregon’s “most infamous Olympian” had the deck stacked against her from the start.

Harding hadn’t the right “look” or background for her sport, which preferred its female participants to be ethereal and elegant, not athletic and assertive, and her outsider status and appearance seemed to matter more than her athletic talent and achievements.  She wanted to rise above her background, but (likely due to that very background) lacked the self-awareness and other emotional and cognitive skills to do so.  And those who were in position to judge her, literally as per her skating and figuratively as per her public persona, made it clear that she didn’t belong and would never be good enough.

Now then. Extended psychoanalysis and existential crisis aside, I, Tonya is a highly entertaining, well-written and acted movie.  I give it two thumbs up…and yeah, so both of the thumbs are mine….

 

two thumbs

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Department Of Because It Was Tuesday Movie Night,  [5] That’s Why

Why not go all out in making a fun dinner (especially since being inspired by daughter Belle, who made gnocchi on Monday and sent me photos)? Le menu:

☼  potato gnocchi with garlicky tomato sauce
☼  
red wine vinegar roasted beets
☼  roast Delicata squash
☼  Arugula and baby romaine salad with dried cranberries, lemon-soaked red onion, toasted walnuts, red d’anjou pear, and Dijon vinaigrette
☼  2013 Pomum Red Wine

 

 

 

gdinner

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May you have optimism for the future despite the present;
May your past not determine your future;
May you go all out for a Tuesday night dinner;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or just read the holy books of the three major monotheistic faiths.

[2] And it’s not even our god vs your god. Historically and currently, those who believe in the same deity maim, torture and murder one another over the details while their deity stands by and…what, watches the show?  (e.g. The Christian’s Inquisition’s  – drawing and quartering of infidels who do not confess to the “one true faith;  Blessed be the prophet Mohammed – yes, my brother,  we’re both Muslims, but I am the correct Sunni and you are the heretic  Shia so I’ll have to smite you,  maybe after we both persecute the Sufis….”)

[3] Yes, I realize it is a pejorative to some. But it’s my heritage’s N-word, which I claim for a variety of personal and political reasons.

[4] My affinity for 1960s imagery betrays me with that phrase, but, yeah.

[5] This week, it was The Post.  Go see that one, as well.

The Resolutions I’m Not Dissing

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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

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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!

 

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[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 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.   

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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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