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The Historical Document I’m Not Appreciating

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Department Of Pipe Dreams

I had hoped – naively, as it turns out – that after my mother’s death and other losses, I would be able to bear paying attention to politics for more than two minutes…by the end of March. Yeah, that’s an attainable goal.

 

 

 

yeahright

 

 

 

I actually thought it would be a welcome distraction.

 

 

 

obamalaugh

 

 

 

 

Yeah; rub it in.

Okay; I was more than wrong.

Still, I do try to distract myself, sometimes in ways that relate to politics. For example, I’ll imagine hopping into my time travel portal,  [1] zipping back a quarter of a millennium and trying to explain to those authors of the U.S. Constitution – those (alleged) founders of this country – something we take for granted, such as the wide variety of entertainment options we have in (what is to them) the future.  Would I be able to summon the right terminology to enable those old white bewigged dudes to picture a service like Netflix, or even a device like a DVD?

Our so-called “Founding Fathers” were intelligent, educated, and in many cases forward-thinking people. That said, there are just some things even an inventive mind like Ben Franklin’s could neither anticipate nor imagine. Including, I would argue, the fact that our country has become simply too big for the form of government they crafted over two centuries ago.

I’m not even going to get into the fact that the mind-fuck of an anachronism/poop stain upon the pants of democracy that is the Electoral College hasn’t been deep-sixed yet. I’m talking about another fact: there are 326 million people in this country, and the majority of them are getting electorally screwed by virtue of a old document written when the total population of the country one hundred and thirty times smaller than it is today.  [2]

Here’s a comparison: Wyoming and California.  I have traveled around this country a bit – a lot, in the Western states. I love Wyoming’s spectacular natural wonders (although California has that too, and more, in spades). I also love Wyoming’s state motto – “Equal Rights” – but, holy fucking inequality, Superhero Formerly Known as Batman, let’s take a look at some numbers.

* Wyoming is the least populous state.

* California is the most populous state.

* Wyoming’s economy: the state’s GSP (Gross State Product) hovers around $38.4 billion.

* California’s economy is the largest in the USA, rivaling that of the largest countries in the world, with a GSP of approximately $2.514 trillion.

It would seem “fair” that Californians would be the big puppies in any kind of federal governmental equation. They are, when it comes to the lower house of Congress. Yet when it comes to senatorial representation, 587 thousand Wyomingians have a greater percentage of representation in the most powerful chamber of Congress than do 40 million Californians.

 

 

thatswrong

 

 

I realize the historical reasons for the way congressional representation was divvied out; I know that the ultimate concern of unity and stability of individual states within a nation won out over any concepts of “fairness.” The compromise plan was/is that the more numerous and shorter term (and thereby less powerful) representatives are allotted per each state’s population, while exactly two senators are allotted for each state, regardless of population (a smaller number of senators serving larger terms = more power).  But that was then (1787, to be exact) and this is now, two hundred and thirty years later, when our form of representative government is, IMHO, devolving an Orwellian system wherein all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Of course, there are too many vested interests in the current system for me to imagine that there will be anything resembling reform or reorganization in the next few decades years. But if I could trade my time travel portal for a Reality Wand ® (patent pending), I’d wave it and get folks to consider something like this: Cascadia.

 

 

LargerCascMap_4-14

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Non Sequitur Breaks

It is unlike moiself, writing in this venue (that would be, my blog), to post a focused rant thoughtful ruminations centering on one issue, which is what I appear to be doing.  Although it could be argued that, by stepping aside and observing/commenting upon this singular focus, I am writing about at least two issues: my one issue focus, and my contemplation of the rarity of my focusing upon one issue…which kinda negates the former.

I’m confused.

That’s more like it.

We now return you to our regular programming.

 

facepalm

*   *   *

 

The concepts of nations and national boundaries were formed in primitive times with respect to what we now know about science – specifically and significantly in this case, ecology and geography. It terms of choosing sides or determining who belongs with whom, Bioregionalism –  the concept of organizing populations outside of or beyond political boundaries to form provinces or governing systems based on bioregions –  [3] makes far more “organizational” sense to me, as well as to the growing number of supporters of the movement.

The geographically distinct habitats, distributional patterns of flora and fauna, plate tectonics and topographic features of ecozones do not stop at the line drawn where 17th century politicians and surveyors decided that Minnesota ends here and Manitoba begins there.

I am an Oregonian. I reside in a state which was long ago defined by the (mostly artificial) boundaries of what was decided would be Oregon. Florida is also a state; but being a USA state is where  [4]  the common interests begin, and mostly end, between the two regional entities. Geographically, us Oregonians aint’ got much of a connection with Florida.

Oregon’s regional economic, climatologic and ecologic realities and interests are more closely aligned to the region known as the Pacific Northwest, including Washington State, parts of Northern California, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Enter, Cascadia. The Cascadian independence movement is a growing social and cultural – and ideally/ultimately political –  fantasy movement which seeks, in the words of the folks at Cascadia Now, to recognize and establish a bioregion…

…that defines the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, incorporating British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, parts of Idaho, southern Alaska and northern California, and in many ways is geographically, culturally, economically and environmentally distinct from surrounding regions. It is a place in the world with unique flora and fauna, topography, geology and is comprised of a interconnected ecosystems and watersheds….

A much more common definition of Cascadia instead seeks simply to help further local autonomy, empower individuals and communities to better represent their own needs, as well as push or environmental and economic responsibility, and increased dynamic, transparent and open governance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I leave you to contemplate “The Doug,”  [5] the proposed flag of the bioregion, Cascadia.

 

 

 

 

 

dougflag

*   *   *

 

 

 

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too….

(John Lennon, “Imagine“)

*   *   *

May you recognize when some animals are becoming more equal than others;
May your imagination work for the good of all animals;
May we all live to see the invention of The Reality Wand;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Does your imagination have a time travel portal? It really should.

[2] The US population around the time of the Declaration of Independence was 2.5 million.

[3] Bioregions are naturally distinct areas, defined via sharing common or overlapping physical and environmental features, such as watershed boundaries, soil and terrain characteristics, latitude and climate.

[4] And this is where there should be another footnote. But, there isn’t.

[5] As in the Douglas Fir tree, which adorns the unofficial but proposed flag for the Cascadia bioregion.

The Toilet Seats I’m Not Believing

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‘Tis The Season

MH and I are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner tonight. I was going to use a certain Adult Beverage ®  as part of the glaze for the salmon I’ll be roasting; however, one of our guests has celiac disease and I wanted to make sure that by doing so I wouldn’t be poisoning him. I started to Google “can celiacs have…” and before I typed the e in have, the third choice that came up was my question:  can celiacs have whiskey. [1]

 

 

 

whiskey

*   *   *

About those snakes….

The first time I encountered the St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland legend was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (read: the Santa Ana neighborhood of my grade school years). One Sunday afternoon in mid-March, a neighbor boy showed me the Sunday School pamphlet he’d brought home from his Catholic church. When I laughed derisively and pooh-poohed the pamphlet – which presented the legend as fact – my friend retorted with the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland, and there are snakes in every other country on earth…So how did that happen, Miss Non-Catholic smartypants? How did that happen – prove it, huh? Huh? Huh?

My neighbor/friend looked for any opportunity to witness his family’s “one true faith” (Catholicism) to the ultimately doomed moiself, whose family attended a Lutheran church. He was an otherwise very nice boy (his proselytizing phase lasted only a few months in grade school), with whom I enjoyed playing games of cards and tag and turning our bicycles upside down and pretending their wheels were steamboat paddle-wheels. Also, we enjoyed having spirited discussion of adult issues, like politics (hey, it was the 60s) and religion.

When it came to the “miracles” of that carpetbagging harasser of pagans and druids St. P, I immediately and instinctively understood that my friend had his head up his ass [2] – I mean of course, I knew that my friend was mistaken in claiming that I was the one who had to prove that St. Patrick had not done something – the burden of proof weighs upon the person making an assertion. But I was all of seven or eight; concepts like epistemological fallacy did not just roll off my tongue…whereas concepts like stupid dumb-ass were familiar and handy, and I probably applied one or two of them to my friend and/or his argument.

Wearer of Big Girl Pants® that I now am, I know that there are no snakes presently living in Ireland because, herpetologists and their pets aside, there have never been any snakes living in Ireland. Because: Science. As in latitude, and weather.

 

snakesplane

This M*****f****** snake thinks this plane is headed for Ireland!

 

 

 

There is no evidence of snakes in Ireland’s fossil record. Snakes couldn’t get to the island nation because the climate wasn’t (and isn’t) favorable for them to migrate and then thrive there.  [3]

Faith and begorrah, but England ’tis an island, and it has snakes! Yes, but only three species, and snakes only slithered over to England in relatively recent geologic time – about 6,500 years ago.

As we all remember from 2nd  grade science class (or Sesame Street), over time, all plants and animals will migrate through and/or colonize suitable habitats. Cold-blooded reptiles need heat from their environment to survive, and The Ice Age made the European islands incompatible with  reptile migration until ~ 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating. The glacial retreat gradually exposed a land bridge between Europe and the island of Britain, and also between the isles of Britain and Ireland. Melting glaciers inundated Ireland’s land bridge ~ 8,500 years ago, but the land bridge between Europe and Britain’s persisted another 2,000 years after that. Thus; Europe’s intrepid snakes had more time to heed the reptile version of Westward, ho!

“Other reptiles didn’t make it either, except for one: the common or viviparous lizard. Ireland’s only native reptile, the species must have arrived within the last 10,000 years. [4]   So unless St. Patrick couldn’t tell a snake from a lizard, where does the legend come from?
Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in Judeo-Christian beliefs—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace.
The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick’s dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence.”

(“Snakeless in Ireland: Blame Ice Age, Not St. Patrick,” National Geographic News)

St. P) snakes

 

 

 

“Over the centuries a number of legends have grown about St. Patrick, e.g., he drove the snakes from Ireland and used a three-leaf clover to teach about the Holy Trinity. These popular legends have endeared the saintly man to the Irish. The monks who wrote such dramatized stories about St. Patrick “were guided by their knowledge of what popular taste demanded.”
(“Knowing St. Patrick,” Our Sunday Visitor, A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper)

Although there were never any snakes for St. Patrick to “drive out” of Ireland, the dominant church and religious authorities never had a problem crediting a man they would go on to canonize as St. Patrick with a “miracle” that never occurred.

Good thing stuff like that never happens today!

 

 

creationism

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Department Of More Petty Things About Moiself

 

I curse at ants  [5] before I crush them with my bare fingers.

 

 

ants

Oh yeah? That murdering bitch should hear what we say about her in our last gasps….

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Department Of The Simple Pleasures Of Spring

My family lived in Southern California during my childhood, and one of our favorite camping destinations was the relatively nearby [6] Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At a very young age I came to have an appreciation for the desert other school kids found difficult to fathom (“What’s the big deal? It’s hot,  it’s a desert –  there’s nothing there!”). Those lucky friends who were invited along on those camping trips became converts to desert appreciation, if not upon arrival then soon thereafter, usually during one of our hikes to the Palm Canyon.

My favorite time of the year to go to the desert was during spring break, which usually coincided with the brief but spectacular desert wildflower bloom. This year, I almost thought about flying down spur-of-the-moment, but even if I did so I probably wouldn’t be able to get near the place: wildflower and desert lovers and sightseers have descended en masse to witness a “super bloom” – Anza-Borrego’s most spectacular in over 20 years.

A super bloom is a user-friendly term to describe what is, essentially, a wildflower KA-BOOM. (I’m sure there is some official botanical term to describe the phenomenon).

Southern California deserts, after experiencing one of the worst droughts in the area’s history, are experiencing the wildflower show due to a variety of reasons, including the due to recent heavy and steady rains. Anza-Borrego, an area which usually gets only 5 inches of precipitation per year, has had  7 inches of rain in the past 8 months.

As ephemeral as a seemingly rational policy statement from a #45  [7]  cabinet member, the super blooms will likely last no more than a week.  Enjoy it while/if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Lady Or The Tiger Or
The Door To Yet Yet Another Bullshit Misogynist Fairytale

A book of fables containing The Lady Or The Tiger was presented to me by my 4th grade teacher, as a reward for finishing first in a reading contest. [8]  TLOTT was the only story I remembered from the book. I thought the story was of ancient origin, and that thought was reinforced when I encountered TLOTT again, in a 5th or 6th grade English class. The story was so…primitive…it had to have come from The Ancients. Only later did I find out it was a (relatively) contemporary short story, published in 1882.

In case you’re not familiar with the plot, it involves a nasty king, his daughter (the princess), and her suitor. A lower-class (i.e. non-royal) subject falls in love with the king’s daughter and attempts to court her. The king is offended by this, and sentences the man to a devious punishment: he will be taken to an arena where he will be forced to choose between two doors behind one door is a beautiful lady; behind the other, a hungry tiger. If the man chooses the door with a lady behind it, he will have to marry her, and if he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he will be mauled to death.

The princess schemes within the court to find out which door has the lady behind it. She doesn’t want her suitor to have to marry someone else, but she loves him and doesn’t want him to die. At the auspicious moment, she signals him to choose a door….but the story ends as the man opens the door, and readers are left to ponder what choice she led him to make.

TLOTT was presented the ultimate allegory of a tough decision, but my grade school click! radar (aka the feminist eureka moment) came to the fore.  Excuse me, but “The ultimate allegory of a difficult decision?” You people (read: adults, teachers) gotta be joking. To even make the argument that there could be another choice, other than let him choose the other woman and live…

 

 

 

WTF

 

 

 

I didn’t think in WTF speak back then. Nevertheless, I argued strenuously that there should be no suspense as to what happened – she loved him! She directed him toward the lady, not the tiger.  He would live…the real suspense would be how the princess and her suitor could find another way to be together, away from her asshole father.

My various teachers pointed out what they said were the flaws in my argument, with what was, at the time, totally acceptable, totally sexist, “reasoning.” Looking back, their analysis was astonishing for its matter-of-fact assumptions of female pettiness: a woman’s sole or ultimate motivation must be love and security; women are jealous of other women; she’d rather see him dead than with another woman – who by definition must be her rival, because women can’t be friends with other women; if-I-can’t-have-him-nobody-else-can ….

TLOTT, besides being a shitty story, sparked one of the first of what would be an ongoing line of feminist inquiries and realizations: This is how the world is supposed to view women?  This is what women are supposed to think about themselves?

*   *   *

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Department Of But Why Wouldn’t I Believe Them – Do They Have A Reputation For Telling Lies and/or Spreading Misinformation? 
(And If So, Why Aren’t They working For The Current Occupant Of The White House?)

Subject line in an email caught in my spam filter:

You won’t believe these three toilet seats.

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you believe the toilet seats that must be believed;
May you never be too young or too old to call out fairy-tale horseshit;
May the luck of the Irish be better for you than it has been for the Irish;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

[1] According to the NIH’s Celiac Awareness Campaign, the answer is yes, for whiskey or any distilled beverage, even those derived from wheat, as the distillation process removes the gluten proteins.

[2] I wonder if he saw any snakes there?

[3] Other islands that don’t have (native, non-introduced by human) snakes include New Zealand, Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica.

[4] Nigel Monaghan,  keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

[5] Ants that get inside the house. Free range ants, I have no problem with ’em.

[6] From our home in Santa Ana it was a 2 ½ hour drive – which for Southern Californians, is just around the block.

[7] Aka The Cheetos Hitler. I try not to say his name in my house, unless quoting someone with a stronger stomach.

[8] Looking back, I hate to think that I was given that story to read as a reward of any kind.

The Songs I’m Not Remembering

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Department Of That’s His Story And He’s Sticking To It

MH traveled to Pasadena last weekend to attend a memorial service for a college classmate.  [1]  He shared a hotel room and rental car with friend with fellow alum DH.  Following the Sunday afternoon service, the two longtime buddies went out to dinner with another friend/CalTech alum – JD, who had also attended the memorial. JD offered to drive and picked up the boys at their hotel – which, BTW and not incidental to this story, had a choice of valet parking or no parking; thus, MH left the rental car’s keys with the hotel parking valet.

Upon returning to their hotel room, the boys found they had a terse/sheepish message on their room phone, saying that they needed to come down to the front desk and see the manager “…about your car.” In his text and photo to me about what had happened, MH, trying to piece together the story, said that the hotel’s parking valet apparently “…had a fun drive in the parking garage…until a cement post got in the way.”

 

 

mcar

“Officially, he hit a puddle and lost control.”

*   *   *

Department Of Weapons Of A Would-Be Serial Killer

Or make that, squirrel-y-er killer.

Exhibit A, as viewed from our kitchen window: Can you spot the discharged shell?

 

 

ammo

 

 

 

Exhibit B: Can you identify the weapon on the windowsill?

 

gun

 

 

A classy addition to our home décor which I’d hitherto unimagined, a Nerf Uzi [2]  seems to have found a home on our kitchen eating area windowsill during the past few months.  This particular window looks out onto our side yard, a jungle-y area of shrubs and ferns and vine maples. The trees bear the responsibility of holding MH’s growing collection of bird feeders, at least two of which were guaranteed to thwart those nefarious scourges of bird feeder hangers everywhere.

Yep, I’m talkin’ squirrels.

A “squirrel-proof” bird feeder is, as we have discovered, a concept and not a reality. Similar to how Science ® has proved that trailer parks attract tornadoes, hanging a squirrel-proof bird feeder in your tree guarantees that your neighborhood’s most balletic-ally agile, persistent, inventive and dexterous squirrels will be irresistibly, almost magnetically drawn to your yard. Thus, the years-long enmity between MH and sciurus carolinensis which has led my otherwise mild-mannered spouse to keep the afore-mentioned, foam dart-deploying weapon handy.  [3]

Exhibit C: can you spot the mas, which, when donned by a 6’2″ male biped, produces not one iota of dread in squirrels but is most effective in inducing a butt-dragging-crapping-outside-the-box-in-terror reaction in housecats?

 

 

s-head

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Department Of More Fun With Animals

So, thanks to my new car’s radio – and BTW, when you say the phrase, my new car, please use your best Oprah voice…

 

 

Yet again, I digress.

My new car’s radio has, like, a bajillion preset options, [4]  and I’ve only seven or so channels I listen to on a regular basis. Before I selected the presets I did an internet search for Portland metro area music stations, to get my number of presets up to what I thought was a respectable figure (10). More often than not, I find myself leaving the channel on one of these new station “discoveries” – an eclectic oldies station run by local (Hillsboro) ham radio operators.  The station’s programming is all over the oldies map:  I’ll hear a 50s doo-wop song followed by a John Denver’s first hit (Country Roads) followed by one of The Beatles’ lesser-played covers (Carl Perkins’ Honey Don’t) to other hits and misses spanning several decades. Wednesday morning I was treated to a somnambulant edition of Hang on Sloopy I had no idea existed. [5]  The latter version varied greatly in tempo and even melody and was not as swampy/sexy as the more familiar version by The McCoys, but still had its own charm.

Earlier in the week I’d heard the station play, “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” by The Shangri-Las, that classic, romantic tragedy (romagedy?) tale of a teenage girl lamenting the loss and/or unfaithfulness of her boyfriend – which was fundamental fodder of songs written for the girl groups of the late 1950s – early 1960s.

I was familiar with the song, but couldn’t remember the last time I’d heard it…and after I heard it on that radio station I had to consider whether or not I’d ever listened to it all the way through.  Perhaps the radio station’s engineer was having fun with the background volume controls; whatever the reason, the increasingly loud sound effects at the end of the song got me to wondering: are listeners supposed to think that the heartbroken narrator returned to the beach where she once walked (in the sand…remember?) with her boyfriend and, distracted and distraught over her lover’s betrayal, she staggered into a mob of seagulls and was pecked to death?

 

 

 

 

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Department Of More Fun With Radio

Make that, fun with a podcast. And I’m not sure that fun is the appropriate modifier…although I’d like to think that enlightenment of any kind is entertaining, in some ways.

Wednesday morning I listened to an amazing TED talk. Two speakers shared a stage, and shared a story which began almost two decades ago. Listen to it, and you’ll discover that what starts out as the tale of an Icelandic girl and her Australian exchange student boyfriend doesn’t go where you’d expect, to put it mildly.

For the rest of the day I kept thinking about the after effects of sexual violence, and in particular, the paucity of perspectives we have from its perpetrators. Increasingly, women and girls are daring to speak out about their experiences of having been raped, but how many men and boys have you ever heard admit to being rapists, and to talk openly about what that was like?

Rapist; Brute; Savage; Animal; Inhuman. We’ve many epithets and adjectives for those who commit sexual assault.  I vote for eliminating inhuman from that list, because I think societies might make more progress in dealing with sexual assault by ultimately recognizing the humanity of the assailant.

Yep, you read correctly. I know, it sounds almost sacrilegious [6] to refer to a rapist’s humanity. But how can you ever hope to solve a problem if you aren’t willing to think clearly about it?

And clearly, history demonstrates that just as kindness, compassion, empathy, altruism, and sacrifice are bright colors on the spectrum of human behavior, so are the darker shades of human-on-human abuse.

Rape and other acts of assault and violence, from bullying to waging war, are unfortunately common to the human experience. But when we label rapists/sexual abusers as inhuman we enable those human beings who for whatever reasons  [7] force themselves upon weaker/ intoxicated/drugged/otherwise incapacitated human beings, to subsequently and sincerely not consider themselves to be rapists or to have committed sexual assault, because they are not the archetypal inhuman fiend who sprang out from behind a hedge and held a knife to her throat….

 

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Department Of Ending On A Lighter Note

Business sign of the week… or month…or maybe even year:  I saw this sign on the side of the road, meant to entice passers-by to consider the services of a landscaping company to spruce up your yard for the coming warmer months:

“This spring don’t get caught with your plants down.”

 

 

 

 

plantsdown

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May you revel in the small pleasures of a forgotten song remembered;
May you never get caught with your plants down;
May you consider the humanity of the serial squirrel-harasser;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Who died too young after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis. I shall write a bit about him in another post.

[2] Not its official name.

[3] Yeah, the squirrels flee when he fires it at them. And then they return.

[4] Okay; thirty.

[5] The stations website, such as it is, is quite low tech, and has no playlist, so I don’t know who did that version of HOS.

[6] But I’m a happy heathen, remember?

[7] Usually related to the cultural dictates which teach men that they are entitled to women’s bodies.

The Life I’m Not Rebooting

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At some point during childhood, a well-meaning adult asks, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up? What I like about this question is that it embraces the idea that work is an expression of who you are as well as who you want to be. Yet that question takes an odd turn when you become an adult. “What do you do for a living?” is what we typically ask each other. Gone is the inquiry about what you aspire to “be.” This shift in emphasis from “being” to “doing” focuses you solely on the external activities and behaviors that you perform for your work, rather than on your intrinsic values, strengths, and motivations.
(from Inner Compass, mindful magazine,  December 2016

*   *   *

Yachats. It’s pronounced  yah -hots, and it is the name of yet another gem of a town on the Oregon coast. The name comes from…different sources argue over the origin. It is likely a term of the Siletz or other indigenous peoples,  [1]  and has something to do with “dark water by the foot of the mountain,” which may refer to the estuary where the Yachats River enters the Pacific Ocean, the remarkable view of which I have from the apartment I’m renting for a week.

If I have the privilege of needing/recognizing/taking a control-alt-delete [2]  sabbatical, it might as well be here.

Also, I just like having an excuse to say Yachats.

*   *   *

My mini-sabbatical was originally scheduled for December 8-16. Then on Tuesday of this week MH pointed out the latest weather forecast: a winter storm, carrying snow but more problematically freezing rain, was scheduled to hit the coast and the Portland Metro area on the 8th, which would make traveling over the Coast Range dicey….so maybe you might want to consider leaving a day earlier? [3]

Negligent moiself hadn’t re-checked the forecast since…since when the storm wasn’t expected to hit until Friday (today), so all of a sudden on Tuesday it was do everything in one day (packing-wise, for  a weeks+ getaway, plus getting the car ready for winter storm contingencies  [4] I was planning on doing ion Tuesday and Wednesday, plus adding on figuring out a different, less-likely-to-have-icy-roads route, plus practice putting on the tire chains on the car I’d be driving, [5] plus finding a place to stay somewhere near the place I’d already reserved but which wasn’t expecting me until the next day….

Plus…then checking messages at the end of all this planning – early Tuesday evening, about 12 hours before I’d be leaving, and discovered sad news…which meant that three days after I return from my think-about-what-the-hell-to-do-in-Act-3-of-your-life getaway trip I will be flying down to the Bay Area to attend the memorial service for a beloved friend, mentor and former employer of mine, who had recently finished his own Act 3.

Anyway and so, I am here.

Yachats. Say it like you mean it.

*   *   *

As per my post of October 28:

Long Story Short: I have a significant birthday coming up in few weeks, and have had a significant Act 3 Career & Life Crisis ®  going on for a few…years.  I shared some recent downturns regarding such things [6]with friend SCM who, wise counselor that she is, offered this wise counsel:

It’s obvious you need a control-alt-delete from life right now….She advised I take a trip, to…anywhere.  “… you need a break from real life.”  I’d been thinking along similar lines – a meditative kind of vacation, not a trip involving lots of activities, which is what I’d usually want. I need to go alone, to have contemplative opportunity away from distractions, from the familiarity of work, routine, home and family…the kind of trip where you are forced to chill, where my main activity would be a combination of taking it easy, taking stock, and…dare I hope…figuring Things Out ® .

Initial plans for my getaway didn’t work out, but now, this week on the Oregon Coast seems fitting. Blustery (almost) winter weather should be good for contemplative ventures, right?

Unless….

Unless it becomes yet another entry in my To Do list. Eight days away is not likely to provide the magic AHA!!! answers to years of career/life balance questions, and I don’t want the pressure to find solutions [7]  to Life’s Really Big Questions ®  to diminish what this trip may turn out to be: a week’s vacation, composed of simple pleasures (I get to sleep in/not get up to feed cats/read for pleasure/hike every day/see some ocean spray stuff and pretend it was whales spouting….)

*   *   *

Department Of The Sacrifices We Make

One casualty of my mini-sabbatical, is the cancellation, this year, of my annual Ladies Lefse Party  — an event I’ve been hosting for ( is it over twenty-five years?) a long time, as mentioned here and here and here and…. You get the idea.

I will still have to find time, in the brief space between returning from this trip and then going down to the Bay Area for the afore-mentioned memorial service for He Whom I Am Not Quite Ready To Talk About In This Space, to make lefse for our family’s Christmas eve dinner, lest there be rioting among the troops.  [8]

*   *   *

Department Of What’s The Fucking Point

If I were a young(er) person looking for civic involvement motivation, after the two recent presidential electoral debacles (George W Bush and now the PuJu [9]) which resulted in someone losing the popular vote yet attaining the presidency due to our country’s  antediluvian and bigoted Electoral College system…why would I even bother?  How dare we, as USA citizens, criticize one goddamn thing about any other county’s elections?

As longtime friend and journalist SH put it on Facebook, re the vote count as of 12/2/16:

So now the margin is 2.5 million votes that don’t count for squat, because 80,000 votes in three states mattered more. But I guess Trump did better than W, who won because 537 Floridians mattered more than 540,000 of their fellow Americans. 
Pretty effed up….

*   *   *

Department Of I’m Wondering If You’ve Noticed…

…that there are hardly any pictures in this week’s blog post.

Analyze the significance; ponder; discuss; yawn; dismiss.

*   *   *

Department Of U-Turn Segues

It was a very nice hotel I stayed in – the last minute/extra night lodging I had to find due to starting my trip a day earlier than planned. Still, I wondered about the hotel’s welcome info in their Guest Information folder which was on the coffee table in my room. In the folder’s introductory, “who we are” paragraph, the owners touted their commitment to caring for their guests’ needs and running a responsible business. I so enjoyed the typo contained therein I decided not to bring it to the front desk clerk’s attention, lest the folder be corrected, which would rob future guests of the opportunity to derive similar enjoyment :

While we are completely committed to making your stay the best possible, we are committed to an unprecedented level of stainability.

stain

*   *   *

May all your stains be precedent-setting ;
May you notice when something is missing;
May you find out whatever is the fucking point;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] That is, those before the whale watchers took over.

[2] Innumerable thanks to SCM for that metaphor.

[3] I loved the way he phrased it: “I’m not trying to get rid of you, but…”

[4] Nothing like a Canadian friend nagging – I mean of course carefully advising – you in this regard.

[5] It had been years since we needed to do this. Guess what? Time passes, and putting on chains still sucks.

[6] The abridged/mostly censored synopsis, for you Reader’s Digest Fans:  holy FSM it’s a cliché to feel this way and I know it’s “just a number” but it’s a big one I’m facing and HOW THE FUCK DID I GET HERE?…And if he (MH)even attempts to throw my a surprise 60th birthday party I swear I will take out my bow and arrow and use his ass for target practice.

[7] Whether to Life’s really Big Questions or what to do with moiself

[8] H and son K and MH would miss it; daughter Belle, not so much; the kitties just keep shedding, no matter what.

[9] My son has chastised me for the immaturity he sees in my using the moniker PuJu (as in Putin Junior) rather than using the soon-to-be-president’s name.

The Natural Beauty I’m Not Protecting

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“I hope you’ll display it as a reminder of the natural beauty you’re protecting.”
(Note on a card sent,  along with a paper Christmas ornament, by The Nature Conservancy, in a three page won’t you contribute? solicitation.)

MH and I give a lot of thought to which charities we support. We donate to organizations we deem effective, whether on a local or global scale, in supporting our “favorite” causes. Over the years we’ve added some causes/organizations and deleted others, the latter action usually taken due to what we see as a misuse of our donations. For example, if we received waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many requests for additional contributions, including being dunned for “annual” dues/membership fees starting at seven months before the end of when our membership expires year, it’s buh-bye to that one.

One such charity was Nature Conservancy. We supported them for years, and then we didn’t. They do some really, really good work – who isn’t for preservation of natural lands and restoration of habitat for endangered species? – but the constant appeals for more, accompanied by trinkets we neither wanted nor asked for, including their latest we’d love to have you rejoin appeal, [1] remind me of why I decided our conservation $$ would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

ornament

 

An unsolicited holiday ornament wrapped in plastic, made in China. Now, there’s some mighty fine stewardship of the earth’s resources.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Every Cart Tells A Story

My computer calendar gave me a pop-up reminder: time to change out the emergency water supply in the garage. [2]  Two days later I was standing in the unusually long line at the store,  [3] bored outta my gourd, checking out the items in other people’s shopping carts. I began a game I’ve played for years: concocting a story about strangers, my fellow shoppers.  Their age, jobs, educational and marital status, state and/or country of origin, likes and dislikes – even their political opinions – I make up a profile of them, based on what they have in their shopping carts.

Before long I considered the thirteen items in my own cart – twelve water jugs and a stick of antiperspirant – and wondered what would my story be, to someone playing a similar game?  [4]

This middle-aged, sweaty white woman is very, very thirsty.

 

 

 

cart

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Give Me Hope Re The Resilience Of The Human Spirit

The good folks who gave us that most refined parlor game, Cards Against Humanity, have now given us yet another reason to go on living: they dug a really, really big hole, into which money was thrown. Check it out at https://www.holidayhole.com/

 

*   *   *

Department Of Shoot Me Now And Get It Over With

Forget water boarding – if you ever want to see me with my spirit totally broken,  [5] force me to sit through a Singing Christmas Tree ® performance.

And yes, I have been to such a thing. Twice, when I was young. Whenever I had to picture the concept of hell (a concept adults seemed to believe in, or at least find useful, but which I thought was rubbish), I flashed back to those horrifically perky, Lawrence-Welk-on-Quaaludes-and-acid, holiday “concerts.”

 

singing-tree

*   *   *

Department Of And Then There’s That

Hoping for the best the best doesn’t exclude ignoring reality.

Specifically, I refer to my pondering (read: dreading) what will happen after January 20, 2017. Many Democrats and select Republican non-trolls have been making noises re working together with a PuJu [6] administration on what might be considered nonpartisan, everybody-wants-this-done issues.

Now, I’ll be one of the first to commend the actions of everyone involved in finding ways to, say, fix our crumbling bridges/update our infrastructure and reform/simplify our tax code, etc. Still, any such accomplishments will not erase the fact that we’ll have a boorish, narcissistic, knowledge-incurious, unrepentant racist and misogynist as head of state.

 

 

disappointed

*   *   *

We have reached the seventh circle of the hell I don’t even believe in.

I was listening to a podcast of a Freakonomics radio show, the 11-16-16 episode, How To Make A Bad Decision. The hosts and guests were discussing a research paper, Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy.   The paper’s authors analyzed decision-making within three different professions – baseball umpires, loan officers, and asylum judges – to see whether those professionals were likely to fall prey to the gambler’s fallacy.  [7]  

The podcast included an interview with professional baseball umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who talked about the application of technologies such as the PITCHf/x system [8] and instant replays of close plays as ways of checking an umpire’s calls. Not all umpires are enamored with the technologies and the resultant second-guessing/undermining of their authority, but Wendelstedt was a supporter:

“… these pitch systems got into place, it’s been a great educational tool for us….it really helps us become a better-quality product for the game of baseball.

 

 

really

 

The world is indeed ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I completely lost interest in the rest of the podcast after hearing that quote.  I beg of all sentient beings:  Never, ever, refer to yourself, or any other human being, as a product.

Unless in your case the human being thing is just an act and you actually happen to be a can of Cheezey-whiz.

*   *   *

The Toes I’m Not Spreading

Balance; calm; equanimity, toe envy….

Wait a sec. Of all the elements one might pursue or experience in a yoga class, envy of any kind – well, it’s just not yoga.

Still, there I am, in my yoga class, glancing around to see my fellow yogis seemingly effortlessly widen their lithe, long, supple little piggies when the instructors suggests we spread our toes to help us balance in tree pose. Meanwhile, my puny, span-challenged podiatric digits spasm with the effort.

Stub toes [9]  is just one of the milder epithets which have been applied to my toes over the years.  Some folks have refrained from outright name-calling, but still have obviously noticed my phalange deficiencies. One afternoon in high school,  the dance teacher substituted for our field hockey coach (who was called away for some emergency) during warm-ups. Dance Teacher decided to teach us hockey ladies some exercises which, she said, would increase our flexibility. DT asked us to remove our shoes and socks, stand barefoot on the gym floor, feet approximately 18 inches apart…

“Now, everyone spread your toes…” DT patrolled the rows of smirking field hockey players (we needed stamina, not flexibility, so why weren’t we doing our warm-up laps?), checking everyone’s deportment, berating this girl’s posture and that girl’s stance. She came to me, looked downward, and scowled.

“Widen your toes!” DT insisted. She then pointed to the feet of the girl standing beside me, as if to inspire me, for that girl’s lengthy, prehensile toes looked as if they would enable her to hang upside down from a tree branch.

“I am,” I replied. “This is as wide as they go.”

DT bent over, reached her hand down toward my foot, and made a clucking noise of patronizing sympathy. “I see, she sighed, and moved on down the line.

Flash forward to a couple of years later: I am in an athletic footware store, to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I am a regular customer of the store and know what size I wear, but the store’s new (to me) salesperson insists I remove my shoes and socks and step on the store’s shoe size measurer-thingamawhoowhooy-gadget. [10]

 

 

shoesize

You know, this thing.

 

 

Wow,” he gasps, as I comply with his request, “your toes are really short!” He crouches for closer inspection; I resist the urge to suddenly feign a spasm and kick him in the teeth.

“You know,” he looks up at me earnestly, “if your toes were normally proportioned to your feet, your shoe size would be one or even two sizes larger.”

Guess which salesman didn’t get that commission?

BTW – I rock at tree pose. Stub toes and all.

 

 

treepose

*   *   *

May you rock at your balance poses;
May your cart tell a noteworthy story;
May you dig a really big hole for any reason you chose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What could their financial/donations manager possibly be thinking? “Sure, they left us five years ago, but this paper ornament will bring them back!”

[2] Every six months I buy 12-one gallon jugs of water, swap them out with the supply already in the garage, and use the older supply for watering plants, etc.

[3] It’s the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend; these people are already out of leftovers?

[4] Whom am I kidding – like anyone else would be playing that game, or looking up or around or anywhere but down, for that matter. Everyone else in my line, and in all the adjacent lines (Yep, I checked) was looking down at their cellphone…waiting for it to hatch a rare three-toed pygmy sloth dragon, or something equally significant, judging from the rapt expression on their face.

[5] If you did desire such a thing, that would make you a miserable little shit, wouldn’t it?

[6] aka Putin Junior, as I cannot bear to type his (allegedly real) name.

[7] The Gambler’s Fallacy is an erroneous  understanding of probability – the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability, i.e., rolling 10 even dice in a row, become higher or lower as the process is repeated.

[8] A pitch tracking system which tracks the velocity, movement, release point, spin, and pitch location for every pitch thrown in a baseball game.

[9] Thanks, Mom!

[10] There must be a name for that device.

The Lunch I’m Not Buying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

disappointed

 

 

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

Subject line – trip: back to square one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Fuck. To put it mildly.   [2]

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

spider

We love you too, sweetie.

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

them

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

hateants

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Things We Do For Science

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

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

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

And she did:

 

 

sadiefrog

 

 

Moiself: Dude, that looks like a huge toad!

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

Moiself: What are you researching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moiself:  Hot pockets?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Going Through The Motions

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

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

The TV Show Song I’m Not Singing

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Department Of Rachel Bloom Needs To Thank Me

Content warning: awesomeness, and dick humor.

Yes, the afore-mentioned Ms. Bloom, she of multiple slash abilities (singer/songwriter/actor/comedian), might want to toss some gratitude my way for being way older than her. Because if I were Rachel Bloom’s age (and – minor point – if I also had her talent ) I would have composed, sang and posted those so-funny-you-laugh-so-hard-milk-squirts-out-of-your-nose-and-you-weren’t-even-drinking-any-milk videos (usually NSFW) before she did.

Like…maybe…this one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWMpnxMLZ_E

 

*   *   *

Department Of Speculation: What Is “Stupid Shit” The Title Of?

Alas, it’s not the working title of my autobiography. [1]   It the name of a song by Andy Harrison I was listening to on Tuesday, while walking to lunch.

♫  There’s a world in your hands full of power and love
And the choice’s right here like a new pair of gloves
Whatcha gonna do, you can handle it.  ♫

I was reflecting on the inspiring words of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, spoken at a press conference announcing the Department of Justice lawsuit filed re North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation; I was reflecting on how frustrating it is, to me, that such eloquence had to be mustered for such nonsense. It’s a big world with big problems, yet some folks be getting’ their tighty whities in a knot about which public bathroom someone else can use…

 

REALLY

 

  …and then, the song’s chorus is ringing in my ears: 

♫  But they want you to focus on stupid shit
So you don’t have a clue about what’s legit
They want you to focus on
 stupid shit.

Yeah they want you to focus on stupid shit
So you don’t find your power, your love, your wit
Take a look around
and don’t do it.  ♫

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Name Blame Game

Content warning: Tragedy For All Humanity ©

 

Ahoy, Boaty...in our dreams....

Ahoy, Boaty…in our dreams….

 

I am in mourning, for the lost of inarguably The. Best. Boat. Name. Ever.

You’ve been following the saga of how Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council invited the British public to name their new research vessel…haven’t you? [2]

Long story short, people submitted names and voted; Boaty Mcboat Face was the runaway winner.; the British Science Minister proved himself to be yet another Upper Class Twit by saying there were “more suitable” names and declaring that the NERC’s research vessel would be named for renowned naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough .

I’ve nothing against Sir David McDave Face; in fact, I’m a fan. But, he’s got all those wildlife harassment nature documentaries to be remembered for. Those sneaky Limeys asked for the people’s choice, they got it, and then, nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

 

 

 

You were saying something about suitable names?

You were saying something about suitable names?

*   *   *

Department Of Adventures In American Racism

Content warning: the n-word; stupid/offensive jokes.

♫ Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man.
He was brave he was fearless
And as tough as a mighty oak tree. ♫

It had been years since I’d heard that song, and there it was, on the radio. [3] Anyone else out there old enough to remember the Daniel Boone TV show? It aired on NBC in the mid-to-late 1960s. Its theme song had three or four verses, each one beginning with the same two lines, stressing what a big man Dan’l was.

♫ Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man…. ♫

The theme song was popular, easy-to-remember…

 

 

…and easy to lampoon.

I must have been in the third or fourth grade when two of my cousins pulled me aside at a family gathering. DB and his brother JB told me that if I’d ditch the appetizers table [4] and follow them out to the backyard I could hear some really funny stuff.

These cousins were the first (but not the last) people to tell me racist jokes – jokes I didn’t always “get.” Although I was only nine years old I considered myself pretty humor-hep; still, I didn’t understand why “Did you hear about the NFL’s plan to reduce the number of fumbles by running backs? They’re going to paint the footballs to look like watermelons!” was supposed to be funny.

I prepared myself for another round of my cousins’ alleged comedy. I was hoping for at least one fart story; no such luck. JB announced that he and DB were going to honor me by sharing the “secret last verse” to the Daniel Boone song.

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man
But the bear was bigger
So he ran like a nigger up a tree.

Get it? Do you get it?

 

Stone-faced, flummoxed silence on my part.

My cousins stopped their chortling and exchanged nervous glances. My delayed reaction had them worrying that I was shocked and offended by their use of the N-word (I was) and was going to tattle on them to their parents (I didn’t).

I did laugh. Sort of…eventually. But, not early enough for my cousins. And not for the reasons they’d hoped.

My chuckle, tardy as it was, was genuine. It was one of the first times I was conscious of…I’m not sure what to call it…what, in my mind, was the joke I saw behind the joke they wanted to tell.  And I knew there was no way I could explain my thinking to them.

The rhyming offensive word was almost superfluous to the meta/existentialism of the line:

“…but the bear was bigger…”

No need to go further. It still gets me.

Later on, at home, I asked my father about the altered verse. It wasn’t the first time I’d questioned my parents after hearing a racist comment, and it wasn’t the first time their response would include some variation of the Crabs in a Bucket story – a story I later realized didn’t really apply, although my parents obviously thought it did. [5]

It’s not that your cousins are prejudiced [6] or even mean-spirited, my father said, it’s that they’re ignorant. People who aren’t very smart, or who are insecure about their status…well, the only way some people know how to shore themselves up is to find someone below them on the totem pole, [7] and pull someone else back down in the bucket so that they can climb out, or at least not be left behind. Sometimes they do this by mocking people of a different race.

When I was a child, I never heard my parents express (overt) racist sentiments.   [8] I also never heard them openly contradict the bigotry freely expressed in front of me by a few of our neighbors and certain relatives. When a squirm-worthy comment would slither past my Aunt Erva’s cigarette, my parents would change the subject. Later, in private, they would tell me that Erva was not truly prejudiced,  [9] just ill-informed and insensitive.

But you said nothing, I thought. And people were listening.

My parents’ silence on such matters was one of many experiences which helped make me the judgmental bigmouth concerned citizen I am today. A guiding life principle I’ve tried to instill in son K and daughter Belle: if you are with a group of people and someone makes an ignorant/racist/hurtful/sexist/bullying/scientifically-stupid-disguised-as-religious-opinion remark, and you say nothing, others listening may rightfully assume you agree with, or are at least accepting of, the speaker’s sentiments.

Yes, you must choose your battles. But…silence implies acquiescence.

But….

But the bear was bigger….

It still cracks me up. 

 

 

But the bear was bigger....So Fess Parker left the frontier and got into wine making.

But the bear was bigger….So Fess Parker left the frontier and got into wine making.

*   *   *

Is There Any Day As Happy….

As that day when you get new underwear? Let us all rejoice, as one big pile of 100% cotton loving humanity.

 

undies

*   *   *

By The Way And For Your Information

If we’re going to be acquainted on this level you should know that it’s underwear or underpants, and never…never….”panties” (shudder).

 

wordcops

 

 

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May you focus on the shit that matters (or at least isn’t stupid);
May your silence never imply acquiescence (unless it does);
May new underwear raise your spirits (and never give you wedgies);
…and may the hijinks ensue. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] But nice guess, thanks.

[2] If not, stop reading this right now, go to your contemplative corner, and think about why you distance yourself from the vital issues that unite humanity.

[3] And I have no idea why. Channel-flipping, you hear all sorts of snippets.

[4] I could – and one time, I think, did – finish an entire jar of green olives by moiself.

[5] No parent wants their wiseass ten year old telling them, “Actually, you’re misusing the metaphor….”

[6] They were.

[7] I was never sure about how a totem pole could fit into a crab bucket.

[8] Although as I came to realize later, their political and social justice opinions were far more conservative than mine, and indicative of their respective, less than gracious and enlightened upbringings.

[9] Wrong again, folks.

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