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The Baby I’m Not Head-Banding

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Department Of Things That Make Me Want To Alternatively Weep For And Scream At Humanity And/Or Get A Lobotomy And Join A Polygamous Cult
Because There Is No Hope For Humanity If People Think This Is Cute

 

 

Background info: IMHO, pink baby headbands should be outlawed as child abuse.

 

 

babybow

Also, if your baby is this furry you might want an outward marker denoting its species, not its gender.

 

 

MH wrote this about her “vitals,” on the announcement we sent to friends and family after the birth of our daughter, Belle:

…weighing 7 lbs 1 ½ ounces
stretching 20 inches from head to heel
Known allergies: pastels and headbands

When those baby headbands became a thing, I can’t remember. I just know that it wasn’t always like that – people either let their babies go bare-headed, or put a knit cap on them when the weather was chilly.  When I began to see infants with the headbands    [1]   I would ask the parent(s) variations on,  What’s up with that? And the parental unit(s) would inevitably spew variations on the following justification    [2] :

 

Babies are so androgynous-looking; this way, people know she’s a girl!

 

To which moiself would reply:

And it is important for strangers to know a three month old baby’s gender because….?

Are you shocked to hear that I didn’t get invited to many Mommy-Baby groups?

 

 

 

Kandbelle

K was confused by his baby sister: “Sure, they *say* it’s a girl, but where’s the strap of female identification?”

 

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

The cause of my most recent early a.m. rage against the machine ( aka yet-another-reason-not-to-check-Facebook-while-getting-dressed) was something I saw on a friend-of-a-friend’s post: a picture of a baby girl, with the caption, “If I had a daughter I would want to do this picture.

 Yeah, well, I *have* a daughter, and I left skidmarks deleting the picture, which I found nauseating…and now, of course, I can’t find it to share with y’all. Basic description: it is of a female infant, dressed in a billowy satiny prom dress-type-gown-thingy (which is composed of four times as much fabric as the baby has skin). The baby, whose forehead is wrapped with one of those frilly bow headbands, is sitting partially atop a mirror. The shot is taken at such an angle that you see the picture of the baby looking at her reflection in the mirror, and also the reflection itself.  It looked something like this:

 

 

babytutu

 

 

 

Note the choking hazard, knotted several times around her neck. Welcome to the feminine noose, babe.

 

*   *   *

Department Of And Then, There Is That Which Makes Everything Worthwhile….

Sub-Department Of Random Moments Of Petty Defiance

When I go for morning constitutionals at the coast I love walking up a cul-de-sac which has this sign at its entrance. I walk to the end of the street…and…can you guess what I do, boys and girls?

Yep. I turn around.

Cosmic chaos ensues.

 

noturnaround

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

Department Of Saved By The Spirit Of America

I am a notorious parade-loather. I find parades, at both the conceptual and practical levels, to be…absurd, at best. Thus, unless a parade’s entrants and/or organizers acknowledge  the inanity of it all [3]  and try to be deliberately silly – anyone seen Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade?   [4] – you can count me out, as either a spectator or participant.

However….

The Oregon beach town of my dreams and my heart, Manzanita, has a yearly July 4th parade, which, I have been told, is just so low tech and small-towny cutesy that even a parade-hater such as moiself would find it adorable (or at least tolerable).  So, I had an idea for my participation in this year’s parade I had a banner made, and began gathering the beginnings of my parade “uniform, much to the consternation of MH, who wondered aloud if he would attend the parade (or would need to leave town afterward), should I be a participant, wearing and doing…whatever it was I was going to wear and do.

I checked the Manzanita City hall website where, I was told, parade entry info would be posted the first week in June. And it was, and…

Damn you, Foul Crushers of Aspirations!

 

 

brokendreamsjpg

 

 

 

Manzanita’s parade apparently has a theme, which varies from year to year. This year’s theme is, The Spirit of America. My planned getup could be – very, very, verrrrrrrrry loosely – attributed to a certain, uh, independence of spirit, but it definitely ain’t yer red white and blue/flag-waving, lovin’ that good ole country of mine. What I have in mind holds no disparagement toward my country nor toward the concept of patriotism, but it would be a non sequitur, given the theme, as per this description from the parade’s participant registration form (which has a picture of a very serious-looking bald eagle, ready to pluck the eyes out of anyone who would mock its usage as a symbol of American Greatness ® ) :

Decorations required: All entries including autos must be decorated in a patriotic theme and/or in the theme of the parade. The theme is “The Spirit of America”.

Last week I visited the city hall, to try and clarify the parade registration form information. The clerk told me she thought that the requirement to dress as per the parade’s theme might be only for entrants “who want to be judged.”

“Trust me,” I told her, “I’m judged all the time, whether or not I’m an official entrant of anything.”

She flashed me that I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about smile, and we bid each other a good afternoon.

Later that day, when I returned home (to Hillsboro), I reassured MH that he’d been saved by the (Liberty) bell, so to speak. My parade accoutrements will remain in my closet, in a bag protected by a sentiment dear to the heart of every perennial loser underdog sports team’s fans:

 

 

wait

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can Guarantee You Will Win A Double Nobel Prize
– For Both Peace And Medicine – If You Can Cure This

The mystery of why a person‘s immune system decides to treat a benign substance as a toxic invader…It’s just not right.

Yep, I’m talking Pollen. Or as I refer to it during the months of February through August here, in the Willamette Valley,  aka the Grass Seed growing Capital of the USA:

#!?&*% flora sperm.

Life as we know it would be impossible without the powdery, wind-and-insect borne gametes that fertilize vegetation ovules; I get that. But why do plants think it’s okay to try to get it on in my nose?

 

 

pollendeathstar

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Long Will I Be Able To Get Away With This?   [5]

I found this magnetic bumper sticker, a relic of when K and Belle were student drivers, in the garage, and put it on the back of MH’s car.

 

 

prankbumper

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you never be too old or indifferent to enjoy pranking your spouse’s car;
May you win many Nobel Prizes for your cure for seasonal allergies;
May you realize that society will put enough pressure on the female members of your family to be ornamental beings without you forcing it upon them when they are infants;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Which were always pink…ah…is there a pattern, Sherlock?

[2] After the tenth time receiving the same answer, I stopped asking the question.

[3] As bunch of people sitting on street curbs, watching another bunch of people walk past them, or watching cars drive by slowly and horses poop while they are walking and then other people following behind scooping the poop.

[4] How could I not love a parade which introduced the world to the following Drill Teams:

* Synchronized Precision Marching Briefcase Drill Team

* Lawn Mower Drill Team

* The BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team

* The Shopping Cart Drill Team

* The Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team

* The Marching Lumberjacks

* Claude Rains & the 20-Man Memorial Invisible Man Marching Drill Team

* The Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, which marches while carrying mannequin arms.

[5] The answer was, a little over 24 hours…but it was a glorious 24 house, including him driving to work, not knowing it was there, heh heh heh.

The Sights I’m Not Lowering

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Department Of Check The Definition Before You Use The Word

progressive
adjective

pro·gres·sive  \ prə-ˈgre-siv \

1 a : of, relating to, or characterized by progress
b : making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities
c : of, relating to, or constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual child, informality of classroom procedure, and encouragement of self-expression
2 : of, relating to, or characterized by progression
3 : moving forward or onward : advancing….

(Merriam Webster Dictionary)

Y’all get the idea.

Unless you’re referring to that pesky red rash on your patootie, something that is progressive  is generally…well, what would Jesus Martha say?

 

 

 

martha

 

 

Of course, the idea of progress and improvement and using education and reason to move forward has long proved threatening to many religious leaders.

Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has….”
(16th century Protestant reformation leader Martin Luther )

And now we have mean-spirited Christian nationalist Billy Boy’s son Franklin Graham flogging a 21st century version of religion’s fear of progress.

“Progressive? That’s just another word for godless.“
(Franklin Graham, from “The Evangelical Fight to Win Back California.”
New York Times, 5-27-18 )

Hell yeah.

Frankie G., please know that you are welcome to take your traveling circus tent show and leave California – and please skip Oregon while you’re out west – and all states exhibiting progressive values – and go back to the safety of the Iron Age mythology/superstition rock you have crawled out from under.

 

 

religion1jpg

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of While We’re On The Subject Of Leaving The Dark Ages

Ireland Votes to End Abortion Ban, in Rebuke to Catholic Conservatism

Not long after seeing this welcome and long-overdue headline,  [1]   I saw another headline, about how the pope was “setting his sights lower” – as in, concentrating missionary efforts in the countries of South  American and Africa – now that Ireland seems to be going the way of other European countries (read: throwing off  centuries of Roman Catholic oppression and influence).

Many people are “crediting” the late   [2]  Dr. Savita Halappanavar‘s (and her grieving husband’s) pitiless and primitive treatment (read: lack of it) at an Irish (read: Catholic) hospital in 2012 as yet another prime motivator in the fight to overturn Ireland’s abortion restrictions. You may remember (or have tried to forget) reading about Dr. Halappanavar’s horrific death – which was commented upon by moiself,  here,

Halappanavar, a 31-year-old, 17-weeks pregnant dentist, presented with severe back pain at Galway University Hospital in late October. After doctors confirmed she was miscarrying, Ms. Halappanavar asked for a medical termination. Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says his wife asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated, but her request was refused because the fetal heartbeat was still detected (“This is a Catholic country,” Savita and Praveen were told). Savita spent a further three days “in agony” until the fetal heartbeat stopped, after which the doctors removed the dead fetus and took Savita to the intensive care unit, where she died of septicemia.

Heart-wrenching, scandalous, deplorable, merciless, primitive, callous – of the many dreadful descriptions  that can be applied to this travesty of medical “care,” surprising isn’t one of them. This is what happens, outrageously but totally predictably, when governments allow interpretations of Iron Age mythologies to influence and even dictate 21st century medical decisions.
As Irish Parliament member Clare Daly pointed out, 
“An unviable fetus…was given priority over a woman’s life.”

 

So, yeah.

As to the pope “setting his sights lower” re the RC church concentrating its missionary efforts on South America & Africa, in the wake of Ireland’s vote signaling the waning of influence of RCs in Europe…Hey, you – dude in the pointy hat –

 

 

pope

You talkin’ to me?

 

 

…don’t’ let the shamrock hit you in the ass on your way out the door. And be sure to take your snake charming charlatan saints with you.

 

 

 

SPDMyth

 

 

 

Aye, the RC missionaries, as per their own PR, drove out the old evil pagan ways of Ireland…and brought with them…oh yes, what is it they forget to mention? Maybe it’s how they subsequently brought in their new evil ways, including Catholicism’s “empire of misogyny,” enslavement of “fallen women,”  [3] restriction of medical care, religious and educational discrimination, child and adult sexual abuse by priests ….  [4]

 

*   *   *

May you understand the implications of progression;
May you be a part of any movement that causes a pope to set his sights lower;
May you continue to be patient with this blog, even when it strays too far into current events/politics and thus fails to deliver even one rousing fart joke;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] for Freethinkers and anyone who cherishes religious, political and scientific freedom.

[2] “late’ as in, dead due to religiously mandated, medieval medical care restrictions.

[3] E.g. the Magdalene Laundries.

[4] There could be a bajillion other footnotes even more depressing.

The Peasant Food I’m Not Upscaling

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Department of Not Surprised, But Still Sad

I recently read Junot Diaz’ acclaimed article in the New Yorker (The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma), wherein he revealed publicly for the first time his own history of childhood sexual abuse . [1]    It was a stirring account, to say the least.

I’ve never been fond of nor impressed by Diaz’s short fiction – and haven’t read but a few of his stories because the ones I did read left the proverbial bleech taste in my mouth, due in most part to the male-female dynamic found within. His style and themes reminded me of a more contemporary, multicultural Norman Mailer (and other acclaimed alpha male writers whose work I loathed, fiction writers who used their supposed hyper-realism narrative styles to impart their own loathing for women in any roles other than as their objects of sexual desire ). Ah, but for years Diaz was the new/exotic literary sensation in town, so who was this middle-aged white lady to judge?

Having undergone  sexual abuse seems particularly difficult for men to admit to; thus, my cynicism at his revelation shamed moiself. Cynicism as in, I thought that perhaps this (his essay) was his way of explaining/justifying (what I saw as) the sexism in his writing (a phenomenon too often explained/excused, for male writers, by literary “talent”    [2] )…

But that bit o’ skepticism was not my first response to the why reveal this now?-ness of his essay. My immediate, gut reaction was,  He’s laying the groundwork….  Translation: someone is going to accuse him of  Metoo conduct, and this (I did what I did because of what was done to me), overtly or implicitly, will be his defense.

And shame on me for thinking that.

I kept my opinion to moiself – now, there’s an admission you won’t often hear  – and was glad I did so.

 

 

yeahright

 

 

 

Then came the story in last Friday’s New York Times, wherein Diaz was speaking at a writer’s conference:

The writer Zinzi Clemmons stood up. Without identifying herself by name, she asked Mr. Díaz about a recent essay he had published in The New Yorker detailing the sexual assault he experienced as an 8-year-old boy. She then asked why he had treated her the way he had six years prior, when she was a graduate student at Columbia….

Ms. Clemmons said she believed that Mr. Díaz had tried to pre-empt accusations like hers by writing the autobiographical essay in The New Yorker last month 

Other accusations of his misconduct have since surfaced;  Diaz resigned his position on the Pulitzer Prize board as the allegations are being investigated.

I feel bad about this; I take no joy in having my cynicism validated. I am not questioning the validity of Diaz’s report of childhood abuse. And the thing of it is, and it could be true that he abused his power over women as a direct (or oblique) result of his own history of being abused.  Or, these could be separate issues. Either way, all ways, it’s just….sad.

*   *   *

 

We Interrupt The Ranting For A Moment Of Gratitude

Deep thought of the day: a rubber chicken does not, in fact, have to be made of rubber, to embody the essence of the rubber chicken.

Translation: Mere words cannot express my feeling that there is an ultimate rightness to the universe, when I am presented with evidence that some mahvelous people, when they encounter an object which reminds them of a rubber chicken, are reminded of moiself[3]

Thanks, JWW.

 

 

jww

Whaddya think, is she’s one of us?

 

*   *   *

We now Return To The Previously Scheduled Ranting

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Reason To Scream At A Screen
Adjunct Department Of  Yes, I Should (And Do) Know Better

My afternoon exercise sessions often occur around the time when the local Decades TV station runs episodes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. If I am not working out to one of my exercise DVDs, I’ll tune in to the Laugh-In reruns. I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying the retro fun of it all, including memories of watching it when it originally aired.

 

 

tinytim

Can we ever forget – or forgive – the show that introduced the world to Tiny Tim?

 

 

 

I remember how moiself and my buddies would take turns watching Laugh-In at each other’s houses, sprawled on our stomachs on the living room floor, usually with our parents seated behind us, sitting in their armchairs, also watching the show.  Our fun was enhanced by the prideful, barely stifled giggles that can only be produced by eleven-to-thirteen year olds who realized that the grownups and were laughing for different reasons (and at different times) than we were. Translation: many of the naughty jokes/double entendre‘s Laugh-In was known for– and almost all of the drug references – zoomed over our parents’ heads.

Fast forward to the present, and I am finding that for every skit or joke I enjoy and relive, I also marvel at how dated much of the show’s humor is.  [4]  What is particularly striking to me is how Laugh-In  – considered ahead of its time by tweaking the customs and prejudices of society – trafficked in so much hackneyed humor that was beholden to its time, in many cases reinforcing (not critiquing) stereotypes of ethnic minorities and gays and (especially) women.

Once again, I digress.

 

 

DUH

 

 

So. The danger to television-as-backdropexercising is that I am often in the middle of, say, lifting a dumbbell when the show goes to commercial, and thus am unable to hit the remote’s mute button. The commercials for daytime TV shows can be particularly odious, as the demographic is obviously considered to be the target audience for Certain Products For Those Of A Certain Age (read: elderly/infirmity drugs and diet plans).

One particular/frequently running ad is exceptionally…oh, how can I put it? It frosts my butt.  The second time I saw it  [5]  I realized, between biceps curls, that I had begun yelling at the television screen, at the two perky, formerly in shape and now chunky, E list celebrities (a former actor married to a former football player)  [6]  reduced to hocking a snake oil potion enthusiastically promoting a weight loss product. With no sense of irony and a surplus of golly gee this seems too good to be true, but it is! pride, they actually recited the following dialog:

 

* We eat our favorite foods and still lose four times more weight!

*Nothing in your lifestyle needs to change!
(as a picture of the implied favorites, foods-that-once-may-have-been-many-different-colors-but-which-now-are-all-deep-fat-fried-yellow ®, flashes by on the screen.)

 

 

hearyourself

 

 

 

And there I am, screaming at a screen, at the asinine and totally bogus “promises” repeated, again and again, about how “nothing in your lifestyle has to change….

but it’s your fucking lifestyle that got you this way in the first place  — it’s that junk you’ve been eating that did this to you and but now you’re boasting that you can continue eating the same rubbish ?!?!?

And of course, the grammar cop in me is irritated by the ad’s claims that a person using the weight loss supplement can “lose 4 times as much/more weight!”

Okay…I’m waiting…but there is no follow-up. Excuse me, aren’t y’all forgetting something?  “As much/more” are comparisons, and thus require comparatives.

 

 

Grammarcop

Hold still and this won’t hurt as much.

 

 

 

“Lose 4 times as much/more weight!”!”  As much or as more as what, pray tell? As much as a person who’s never used the product but keeps scarfing their favorite foods faster than a hotdog-eating contest competitor on death row?  More than a herd of weasels on an all-kale diet?  More than twelve three-toed sloths on a treadmill?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only You’d Had A More Interesting Childhood

My mother once told me that she viewed cooking as the least favorite of (what she considered to be) her duties as a homemaker. Although her family never went hungry, that attitude was revealed in terms of the variety (read: not much) of dinners she served to her family. She was the target audience for the advertising mad men – the  marketers whose mission was to convince 1950s – 1970s homemakers that the roles and tasks to which women were relegated were tedious and burdensome.  Convenient, an adjective heretofore not associated with food, became lauded — packaged meals and prefab  “food products” would save her from the drudgery that was cooking (and, these salesmen assured her, these food products were ultimately “better” – as in, more nutritious – for her family than anything she might be able to cook).

And she bought it –  hook, line, and Hamburger Helper sinker.

A recent Fresh Air podcast featuring an interview with chef Chef Lidia Bastianich made me think of my childhood culinary “heritage,” such as it is.  [7]  Chef Lidia is yet another foreign born cook of humble beginnings who came to the USA and made her fame and fortune (in both the TV cooking shows, cookbooks and restaurant businesses) by presenting the cuisine and heritage of her youth to Americans.

When Fresh Air host Terry Gross asked Lidia about the ironies of serving peasant food in top-tier Manhattan restaurants, I wondered if I had missed my chance do the same. However, unlike Chef Lidia, moiself did not have an exotic Italian-Croatian background. What would be the peasant food of my SoCal childhood that I could make seem trendy – Tang? Cool Whip? Rice a Roni? Spaghetti-os?

 

 

 

swanson

With the right marketing Manhattan gourmands will pay $95 for this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you realize the futility of screaming at screens;
May anything rubber chicken-related make you think of…someone you love;  [8]
May you maintain an embarrassed fondness for the peasant food of your youth;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Raped at age 8, by a trusted adult.

[2] to wit, see Junot Díaz And The Myth Of Male Genius – How a male writer’s “brilliance” is used to explain away his obvious misogyny…

[3] Even better when they acquire said anything and present it to moiself.

[4] No surprise and to be expected, with any show that tacked political and social topical issues.

[5] The first time, I couldn’t quite believe I was hearing what I was hearing. And it was not an ad for hearing aids.

[6] To protect their privacy, I’ll call them Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete.

[7] It isn’t, really.

[8] Betcha you thought, if only for a second, that moiself was going to write, “moiself.”

The Super Power I’m Not Flaunting

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

Happy Star Wars Day, y’all.

 

 

May4

*   *   *

Department Of Justice Served Cold

While the “Klingon” proverb declares that Revenge is a dish best served cold, I think that justice is best served steaming from the oven. But as that great philosopher Mick Jagger Simone de Beauvoir said, you can’t always get what you want. Keeping that in mind, last week provided quite the celebration for fans of hot dishes.

Backstory.  Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (read: Davis, California, summer, 1978). I am a student at UC Davis, and it’s a muggy eve with not much to do after my summer job shift at the library has ended. Friend and fellow student RM invites me to go with him to visit his friend, MH.  MH and his girlfriend (real life working people, not students) share a studio apartment in Davis.  For reasons unclear to me, RM thinks I might enjoy watching MH and his girlfriend practice for an upcoming backgammon tournament.

The apartment is small; as MH and his girlfriend set up the backgammon board they gesture to RM and I to take a seat on their bed.  We do, and my heel bumps against the hard, metallic edge of something under the bed. I reach down and remove – an axe? Yep, that’s what it is – from under the bed, and tentatively hoist the rather hefty chopper over my shoulders.

“Uh…expecting lumberjacks?” I ask.

“No,” MH replies, “But if the East Area Rapist shows up, we’ll be ready.”

 

 

EARjpg

 

 

Frontstory. Dateline: last week. Two days in a row, while driving On My Way To Somewhere ® and listening to the radio, I found moiself pounding my car’s steering wheel and yelling YEEEEEEEEESSSSSS !!!!!   as I heard

Day 1: on an NPR newscast that authorities in California had arrested the suspect known as the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, and then on

Day 2: on a BBC World News program announcer crisply and dryly   [1] broadcasting the news of the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Worlds Yet To Be Discovered

While listening to a Planet Money podcast, titled The Blue Pallet, I was once again struck by a sense of perspective-inducing humility vis-à-vis my knowledge of the universe and my place in it.

I do try to keep up with the latest discoveries in astronomy, and give a hearty cheer whenever I hear the announcement that another NASA satellite has discovered another exoplanet. But I found myself floored when I tuned in to what I expected was just another podcast, and heard the following:

We are going to bring you deep inside the pallet world…..

Why is this the first time I am hearing about a world of which I hitherto had no knowledge?

 

 

planet

Yeah, fine, more planets, but can they find a new (and blue) pallet?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Pot, Meet Kettle

Surely, IMHO, there are few books with a more apt title than the one I just finished re-reading:  And the Band Played On  (20th-Anniversary Edition). Award-winning journalist Randy Shilts’ classic, hailed by many as a “masterpiece of investigative reporting,” is subtitled, Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. As for the band that played on…and on…and on…what a frustrating story, so magnificently told.

IMHO there are very few heroes in the book, other than family and friends carrying for the desperately ill and dying in such trying and confusing circumstances, and also those compassionate physicians and research scientists searching desperately for a cure.  [2]

As for far too many of the gay rights “advocates” and almost all of the politicians and religious “leaders” back then…. Here’s my cheer for y’all:

Gimme an I, gimme a C Gimme a K, what’s that spell?

Both of those “sides” were the proverbial opposite sides of the same coin when it came to tactics of blame and denial. Time and time again, the gay rights advocates and the Christian Right  [3]   reminded me of each other, as they both clung to their ideology/party line in the face of the facts, and with seemingly little willingness to look at the faces of suffering/dying human beings.

 

 

 

shame

 

 

 

Certain business interests,   [4]   political conservatives (read: the Reagan administration) heavily influenced by (and politically beholden to) the fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and the growing ranks of politically active Evangelicals – all ignored the alarms raised by scientists and epidemiologists (and in some cases even their own family members, who knew someone affected by AIDS or were themselves at risk).

Conservative politicians targeted public health agencies for budget cuts, and in effect stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la la la we can’t hear you at any mention of anything related to (what was considered then to be an exclusively) a health crisis affecting homosexuals. Reagan even forbid his Surgeon General from answering reporter’s questions about the epidemic.

Any concern about individual human health, as well as that of the society at large, was suffocated under a blanket of shaming/bigoted rhetoric about how AIDS was a “gay disease,” and that gays had brought “the wrath of ______( insert name of favorite deity)” down upon themselves by abandoning “traditional family values.” Meanwhile, traditional values of compassion and empathy, of caring for the weak and vulnerable – and of listening to the scientists and doctors talking about the treatment and transmission of disease – were nowhere to be found.

Imagine something, anything – a disease, or a natural disaster or a series of coal mine explosions or terrorist attacks – taking the lives of over 20,000 Americans, and the President of the USA saying nothing about it[5]  And meanwhile, people were dying.

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Then and now, the rhetoric and actions (or lack thereof) of the conservative political, business and religious communities came as little surprise to moiself. But I expected more of others.

On the other side, there were a growing number of (both gay and straight) physicians who, before they began putting the pieces together of the puzzling array of symptoms and illnesses which would come to be known as AIDS, had been saying that “something is going on/something must be done” about the alarming increase in the number and variety of diseases infecting sexually active gay men – diseases about which doctors found the afflicted to be alarmingly casual (Gonorrhea? Syphilis? Shigellosis? Hepatitis? Salmonella? And amoebic dysentery and amebiasis and giardiasis and campylobacteriosis and a variety of intestinal parasites and …? Just give me my pill/penicillin injection and I’ll see you later….).

And yet far too many gay rights advocates would broke no criticism of either the industries marketing the commodification of anonymous/promiscuous/unprotected sex (e.g., the sex clubs and bathhouses) – which were fertile grounds for both the transmission of existing diseases and the “breeding” of new ones – nor the patrons of such businesses.  Those who pointed out both the psychologically numbing and physiologically deadly dangers of bathhouse-type hook ups   [6]   were seen as betrayers, and were often isolated and vilified, even (or especially) when the warnings came from those of “their own kind” (e.g. playwright and activist Larry Kramer).  And meanwhile, people were dying. 

 

“This is going to be a world-class disaster. And no one is paying attention.”
Dr. Marcus Conant, dermatologist, founder of the San Francisco AIDS project, and one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS , as quoted in And the Band Played On)

*   *   *

 

Department Of Since That Was Not Exactly The Feel-Good Post Of The Year…

 

different

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reasons To Keep Your Superpowers Hidden

Dateline: a recent evening, at the dinner table, discussing with MH the Superhero movies we have yet to see.  I confessed that, unbeknownst to him, my dear spouse, I have hidden something all these years: I am a Superhero.

MH (flashing a prove-it smirk) “And what is your superpower?”
Moiself: “I can smell fear.”
MH: ???
Moiself: “The problem is, it smells like farts.”

 

 

 

 

super

She who smelt it, dealt it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your super power be socially acceptable if not impressive;
May you relish the occasion when justice is (finally) served;
May the 4th be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You know the conviction is real when you hear it from the mouth of a Brit.

[2] When some of them weren’t fighting over “first discovery” credits.

[3] Whose ascendency to political power – something evangelicals had long eschewed and/or held in suspicion – was  in large part fueled by appeals to homophobia.

[4] E.g., for-profit blood banks.

[5] Ronald Reagan infamously refused to say the word AIDS or even publicly acknowledge the epidemic’s existence until late in his second term. By that time over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS, almost 21,000 had died, and the disease had a reported 50,000 plus cases over 100 countries.

[6] The promiscuity so prevalent in many 19702-80s era gay (male) communities, often presented as  an in-your-face reaction to the repression and stigmatization of gay relationships, reminded me of a five year old’s tantrum – a tactic admittedly effective at attention-getting, but ultimately self-defeating (“You callin’ me a perv? I’ll show you some perversion that’ll curl your hair….).

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 Phone Call I’m Not Anticipating

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It’s never good news, when the phone rings before 5 a.m. 

It was the doctor from the emergency veterinary clinic. Our 16 ½ year old Bengal cat, B.B.  was there for his second night, as the staff tried to figure out why he had stopped eating. Blood tests with our regular veterinary office indicated pancreatitis; supportive treatment and pain management hadn’t helped, and he was just wasting away in front of us. Multiple screenings were not particularly revelatory, and then an ultrasound   [1]   showed fluid collecting in his chest; they suggested draining it and doing cytology on the fluid.  B.B. briefly perked up after the draining, then the fluid began to return and he was entering respiratory distress….

Daughter Belle was back at college after spending her spring break with us. We woke up Son K to apprise him of the situation, and he chose to accompany MH and I to the clinic. The three of us went through the box of tissues in the room where the vet brought B.B. to us, to spend a few last minutes in the laps he so loved (“He’s not drooling,” MH noted, “So you know he’s really sick.”  [2]  ). When we were ready, the vet returned, added several syringe contents to B.B.’s IV catheter while I stroked his head, and he was gone.

It was at once peaceful and gut-ripping. And all before the new spring day’s dawn.

 

BBsun

*   *   *

Department Of A Brief History

You could consider me a hypocrite, in that one of our family cats is – was – an outdoor cat. For over eleven years I’ve volunteered for public (county animal shelter) and private animal adoption/rescue organizations, all of which educate/advise that cats must be indoor only pets (these organizations require adopters to sign a “contract”   [3]  stating they understand that they are agreeing to keep their cat indoors). I know all the reasons why it is better – for cats, for other animals, and for the neighborhood –  to have cats live indoors only. I agree with all the reasons.

And that was our intention when we got B.B. And he did fine for about 6 months, and we did everything right and on schedule.  [4] And then…something kicked in. And and and and and: He realized who and what he was:  he had to be the Bengal Boss. Of me, of you, of all cats, of the laundry….

 

 

BBsnow

B.B. The Snow King, Patrolling the ‘Hood

 

 

 

 

 

Re the latter: one of B.B.’d  many ways of trying to establish what he obviously thought was his Divine Right Of Household Dominance ®  (besides terrorizing our two other indoor cats) was to spray on just about anything, but in particular, on a pile of laundry. But not on any old pile of laundry – only MH’s.  An equally enticing pile of moiself’s laundry would be right there, next to MH’s, and B.B. would selectively piss on MH’s. It had to be A Guy Thing (i.e., testosterone thing), I figured.

Eventually, we converted our covered back porch to BBVille. MH and Belle constructed a box/platform (which Belle painted)…

 

 

topofBBhouse

 

 

…on top of which B.B. had his dining area outside of his covered bedroom, with a heated sleeping pad under his “winter” bed, which was inside the mini-condo with a flap opening. He preferred to sleep in his summer bed, on top of the condo, for the warm nights when he liked to sleep outside the condo and listen to the cricket serenade.

 

 

 

BBporchJPG

 

 

In B.B.’s younger days he was quite vigilant in defending his territory from the encroachment of squirrels, lizards, mice & rats  [5]  ) and…yes and unfortunately…any birds foolish enough to get within striking reach  (and some of those arrogant, taunting Scrub Jays would hop right up to him – they were practically asking for it).

Our cul-de-sac abuts a local creek, around which dwells a variety of urban-adapted wildlife, some of which roam the neighborhood after dark. The raccoons are champs at discovering and remembering which house has outdoor dogs and cats (and thus, an outdoor raccoon buffet, which I’m certain they view as their local food cart).

We always took B.B.’s food dish inside at night; nevertheless, we still had the occasional night visitors. B.B. was street-wise enough to give raccoons a wide berth; the nutria,  [6] while bothersome to neighbors further down the creek, rarely strayed into our part of the ‘hood  (but B.B. killed two who ventured here).  Possums B.B. seemed to regard with a placidity bordering on compassion – I think he thought they were some kind of deformed, mentally challenged feline. He never chased them away, but would stand by, looking on in mild surprise and pity (as if to say, Now, isn’t that pathetic?), when a possum managed to waddle up to his food bowl and take a few nibbles.

He was watchful and cautious around dogs (and never tangled with them, to our knowledge, although he made a few passes at smaller ones that got too close when their owners walked them by).  Other cats…were an other matter.

He had what I can only describe as a friendship with the cat who lived in the house across the street, a long-haired gray male (the imaginatively named, “Fluffy,”), who was also neutered and who never showed any aggression (and thus was the only cat B.B. would allow in our yard). Several times I saw the two of them under one of our cedar trees out front, sitting side by side, as if shooting the breeze. One time I approached and saw that there was a (dead) mouse on the ground between the two of them, which made me assume they were telling the cat equivalent of fishing stories (You shoulda seen the one that got away.”)  When Fluffy died, I wondered if B.B. missed his buddy.

Over the years B.B. cost us…I don’t want to estimate how much…in vet bills. Mostly/seemingly (as the vets tried to reconstruct how he’d obtained certain injuries) due to fights with other cats, or the hazards of roaming (e.g., jumping up on a fence post and landing on a protruding nail) and hunting (cracking teeth while chewing on a squirrel femur). Here is a photographic souvenir of one of his more “creative” injuries, which resulted from a bite at the base of his tail which got infected , requiring the vet to construct an interesting draining apparatus. To help B.B. save face, we told everyone the device was intentional – that B.B. was trying out a potential Halloween costume, with his butt as an African elephant’s head:

 

 

BBtail

*   *   *

 

In his later years we would often bring B.B.  inside in the evening, for some playtime with us (and his favorite slobber toy. as per K’s video below – turn up your volume). We still had to watch him carefully – as in, MH would say to me will you watch him for a sec? while MH turned his back to do something or get some thing, because in that mere second of not being right there and looking at him, B.B. might take the opportunity to correct the fact that our family room was bereft of his scent and attempt to remedy that by peeing on anything within pee-reach.  [7]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the weather warms it seems sad and strange, to not have him accompany me to and from the mail box (“like a dog,” as more than one neighbor has put it). B.B would scurry ahead of me, his tail upraised – the tip of it crooked always to the left, like a cane handle – and look back to make sure I was following him. Without warning he’d flop down in front of me, causing me to slam on my walking brakes and lean down to pet him as he rolled around on his back and commented  [8]   on the weather.

And in the coming summer, when I am out in the back and side yards, picking raspberries and blueberries, I know I will feel the absence of his presence by my side (and running commentary, which I always interpreted as, “you missed a bunch, back on the left….”

*   *   *

Department Of It Wasn’t A Uniformly Sad Week

There are usually opportunities for levity, even in bleak circumstances. To wit, I was able to bring a flit of amusement to the vet’s somber/compassionate visage as she described the euthanasia process to MH, K and moiself. When she said that she would begin by giving B.B. the anesthetic propofol, I felt a momentary relief of distraction, realizing the celebrity connection, and blurted out, Just like Michael Jackson!

And then, there was Monday. In the afternoon a UPS truck left a delivery on our front porch. It was a large box, addressed to MH, which presented me with the cherished opportunity to send him the following message:

You got a big package.

 

 

grannyshock

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you have the good fortune to have appreciated non-human companionship;
May your pangs of grief be assuaged by the depths of affection for what is lost;
May you find a ray of sunshine in a piss-storm
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Translation: $$$

[2] Despite B.B.’s tough guy of the “hood appearance, he was always a sweetheart to the vets, and drooling was his almost immediate response to petting and lap time.

[3] Which is essentially unenforceable.

[4] As per how introductions to the other cats were facilitated, timing of B.B.’s neutering, etc.

[5] Our cul-de-sac abuts a local creek, home to many rodents, and we were grateful for B.B.’s pest contro several years back, when we didn’t have the mouse/rat problems common to other homes in the neighborhood.

[6] An invasive, destructive rodent of South American origins – smaller than a beaver but quite aggressive and known to take over a beaver family’s territory, decimate neighbor’s lawns and even attack small dogs – no one in the hood regretted their demise, and after neighbors made multiple calls to animal control…I haven’t seen any nutria in the creek for years.

[7] For B.B., everything was within pee reach.

[8] Bengals tend to be extremely vocal.

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.

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