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The Bullet List I’m Not Embracing

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Department Of Things That Make Me Want To Slap Somebody

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

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

 

 

 

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

Embrace conclusions based on evidence.  Still true in 2018!

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

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

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

* Organic food is not healthier

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

beanhuh

They said what?

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

That is a true statement.

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

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

 

 

astonishedspock

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

 

 

 

Defining the terms, once again:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

DUH

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

 

 

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Have Her Permission To Post About This

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

* Belle: “I’d like to be Spider-Man.”

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

carmen

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

 

 

 

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

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

[2] And I obviously will.

[3] see: Green RevolutionW

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

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

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

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

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

[9] She’s a Biology major.

[10] Mine vegan, but still….

The Resolutions I’m Not Dissing

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

 

 

 

NYR

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

Have more fun.

 

 

 

fun

*   *   *

Department Of Foodie Segue

 

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

 

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

 

 

BEPjpg

 

 

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

 

*   *   *

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

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

 

 

amtreelights

 

 

 

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Department Of The Coop Is On The Loose

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

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

 

 

chickens

*   *   *

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

 

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

 

 

sticker

*   *   *

 

Department Of Benign Neglect

 

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

 

 

starter

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

badge

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hedgerow I’m Not Bustling

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Department Of I’m So Glad This One Made It Over The Fence

I refer of course to the Guatemalan blue banana squash, which was in our CSA share this week.   [1]

I’m not sure about the name; to moiself it looks more like a model of the Goodyear Blimp that had accidentally been zapped in a food dehydrator.

It’s almost too cute to cut. Methinks it will end up in a curry with some greens, or my fallback method:  when in doubt, roast it and turn it into soup.

 

 

bluebananasquash

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 Department Of Why I Feel I Must Apologize To Someone I’ve Never Met

There is, apparently, a designer with the unfortunate name of Helen Ficolora. I say unfortunate because, through no fault of Helen’s, who is likely proud of the Italian heritage indicated by her surname, the first time People Like Me ® hear her name we are likely to mishear it, and blurt out,  Helen FECAL FLORA? – what kind of name is that !?!

 

 

exclamation chip

You’re right – this picture has nothing to do with this blurb, but do you really want to see what I came up up with to illustrate fecal flora?

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking Of Designers  [2]

Those with no too much time on their hands attentive attentive readers may remember the post from last month (9-1-17) regarding the t-shirts MH made for our eclipse viewing party:

Our astronomer friend and trip organizer MM posted pictures of the event on his FB page, which caught the eyes of two astronomy fashion bloggers.  [3]

MM contacted MH and let him know that the startorialist astronomers had noticed our group’s groovy shirts, and had asked for more photos and info on how the shirts were made, which they intended to post on one of their upcoming blog posts.

Upcoming is here: http://www.startorialist.com/ . Look for the link in the September archives.

 

 

eclipse

Look – there go our fifteen minutes – make that seconds –  of fame!

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of They’re Too Young to Get the Eleanor Rigby Reference

One route of the several routes I vary during my morning walks takes me through a local park around 7:50 am. At that time I typically see ~ 10-12 students, coming from all compass points, walking through the park, toward their bus stop.  A bus to the high school stops on the street which marks the eastern boundary of the park, at a point where one of the park trails veers off from the sidewalk. It is a prime people-watching opportunity for moiself, , albeit an increasingly disheartening one. Here is what I observed on Monday, which is, unfortunately, becoming par for the course.

I approached the park from the east, walking toward and then past the (unmarked) bus stop, and noted the students walking, from various directions, through the park, toward the street. Except for three gangly-buff, football player-ish looking boys who are standing within four feet of each another on the sidewalk, none of the students come together as a group. One stops under a tree, within 30 or so feet of the stop, and another goes to a picnic bench and several others all pick their own spots, some stopping in the middle of one of the park’s walking paths, within viewing distance of where the bus will pull up to the curb.  I walk past them and turn around to check out the scene…and then walk back the way I came so that I can brazenly look into their faces from about twenty feet away. Their eyes are glazed, and they pay me no mind.

Most of the students are wearing earbuds, and although it is a warm day, several of them have their hoodies pulled over their faces, and all of them – every goddamn one – are looking down at the their cell phones, captivated – read: numbed – by what, I can only guess. No student interacts with another person or with their environment, save to glance up every ten seconds or so toward the street, to see if the bus is approaching.

I remain there, watching for a while. No one watches me in return. None of them are smiling; their faces are devoid of expression. Even the four boys standing by or “with” each other are not talking to each other. And I am overwhelmed by the thought that whatever they are doing, however “social” they (think they) are being through their phone media, no matter what kind of “friend“  they may be interacting with via their tiny screens, they all look so…isolated.  And so incredibly lonely.

 

 

 

allthelonely

*   *   *

Goodbye, Mr. Christmas

Mr. Christmas has died.

I don’t know if either son K or daughter Belle remember the trip we made to his house. It many years ago, when we were in the Bay Area (specifically Concord, CA) visiting with my younger sister, RAPV, and her family, who were hosting our extended family fore Thanksgiving. The day after Tday RAPV insisted she had something special to show us, and that night we made the pilgrimage to Olive Dr., to see an ordinary house turned into a light spectacle…well, I thought my retinas would go into spasms. [4]

Bruce Mertz, the Concord man known around Contra Costa County as ‘Mr. Christmas’, has died. He was 87.
Mertz owned the home on Olive Dr. in Concord, and for 36-years during Christmastime, he decorated his home with thousands of lights and custom made characters.
A documentary about Mertz was made by filmmaker Nick Palmer in 2014.
(from Claycord News & Talk, 10-11-17)

 

 

 

mrchristmas

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Two Sad Stories In A Row – Must Be Time For The Scotsman

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of I So Would Have Said It If He’d Been Wearing A Led Zeppelin Tee Shirt

Dateline: Last Friday, at the Whole Foods  [5] register. A man standing behind line dropped a paper bag as he was transferring the items in his hand cart to the register belt. I don’t know what was in the bag – but something made a loud, crackling sound when the bag hit the floor, and I turned to see if anything had broken or if the man needed assistance. As the man bent down to retrieve the bag he looked up, an expression of agitation on his face…and it just came to me in a flash.

I almost said to him, “You seem alarmed; is there a bustle in your hedgerow?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you know the simple pleasure of contemplating an oddly-shaped winter squash;
May you hold in your heart, for just a moment, all the lonely people;
May you realize that the bustle in your hedgerow is just a spring clean for the May Queen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Our CSA is La Finquita del Bujo, or “Little Farm of the Owl,” in the scenic farmlands north of Hillsboro.

[2] Even if you weren’t, we can pretend.

[3] The blog’s motto: Where science meets fashion and scientists get fabulous!

[4] Mr. Christmas had a donation box attached to the (light-bedecked, of course) fence around his yard – I can only imagine his electric bill.

[5] Brought to you by Amazon ®

The Very Specific Felony I’m Not Committing

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Department Of Weekend Updates

Inquiring minds want to know  [1] –  and several have asked me about – the situation with the ‘hood.

 

 

enquiringjpg

 

 

No, no no no –inquiring minds. Not the other kind.

Yet again, I digress.

I refer to my neighborhood’s dilemma, mentioned in the September 15 edition of this space, wherein moiself detailed how, without warning or notification,  [2]  a drug and alcohol treatment business moved into our residential cul-de-sac.  [3]  Here’s where things stand, as of this week.  [4]

We the Neighbors ® participated in a mass emailing and phone contact campaign, from each concerned household and individual, to the head of our city’s planning Department, who is supposedly in charge of Such Things ®.  The responses (as per those of us who have received and compared them) seem to be identical [5]:  a form email – from the City’s Public Affairs Manager (not the Planner, to whom we addressed our concerns). The message used 518 words to thank us for our concern, regurgitate arcane zoning info, and inform us that

“… recovering addicts are considered a protected class
pursuant to federal housing law.”

My seven word summation of the communiqué:  Hey neighborhood, it sucks to be you.

 

 

redtape

 

*   *   *

Department Of Taking An Ahhh Break Before Beginning Another Rant

I almost stepped on this petite creature on Wednesday afternoon, when I went to our CSA farm to pick up the weekly produce share. She was sitting on the barn floor, quiet as a…barn kitty?…and then became MOST INSISTENT about being petted.

 

 

barnkitty

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Consequences

“No one raindrop considers itself responsible for the flood.”
(Chinese proverb)

 

In my near-future dreams, I meet a very nice, personable, intelligent, levelheaded-seeming person who is running for some local (as opposed to Federal) office – let’s say a State Representative – as a member of the Republican party. We commence to talking about Things, and this person, like other Republicans I’ve read about, sincerely claims that they were horrified and disgusted by their party’s nomination of that-which-became-our-country’s #45,  and that they are frustrated and embarrassed by #45‘s petty petulance, blatant ignorance, narcissistic and racist and sexist rants and antics, and his evident lack of self-control,mental stability, gravitas, discernment, and intelligence – his lack of just about any admirable quality that befits a world leader…

As I engage this person in dialogue I discover that I could, and in fact would like to, vote for this person, as we share similar opinions on the issues at hand.  But I have a hard truth to convey, and segue into that by telling them about my voting history. I tell them about how, ever since voting in my first election at age 18, I have scorned anything resembling party loyalty (and in fact I think the concept, along with one-issue litmus tests, is harmful to democracy).  Depending on the candidates/issues, I have voted for – in the past, and had expected to do so in the future – Democrats, Republicans, Green Party members, Independents, even a Libertarian or two ( or six) and a couple of socialists.  [6]

I myself belong to no political party.  Sometimes I register one way or another for the primary election, in order to vote for (or against) a certain candidate, but immediately post-primary switch back to no party affiliation.  Were I to have kept tabs on such things, ’tis a sure bet that more commonly (but not always) the candidate on the “liberal” or “left” side of the spectrum who has received my vote.

That said, here is what I would like this Nice Reasonable Republican For Whom I Would Like To Vote to know. Sadly but sincerely, I cannot support you as long as you are registered Republican and your party allows #45 to remain in office.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

 

Yes, I am holding you, and your fellow Republicans, personally accountable.  If Republicans continue to act as if they have lost both their scruples and their cojones and do not, from the lowest city commissioner to the senior members of the US Senate, rise up and with (or without) joining with the Democrats and others, work to impeach the Cheetos Hitler and/or invoke the 25th Amendment to remove that most unfit “president” from office, you will not have my vote.

Even if as a nation we somehow manage to survive the next 3 ¼ years with that maniacally treacherous, treasonous buffoon and his minions in office, I still will not vote for someone, for anyone, who is registered with the Republican party. I will never ever again vote for a Republican candidate, and will do my best to convince others to do likewise.

That’s it.

You may protest that you didn’t vote for him, that you are nothing close to being a party bigwig and are only a lowly local office holder and have no sway with the federal wing of your party, etc….   Excuses, schmuses. You are (all) responsible. He ran as a Republican for a reason; he became one of yours, and you let him. You did not do what was necessary to put your country, your fellow Americans, above your spineless, head-in-the-sand, political expediency…or whatever. Yes, you were responsible – you are responsible – and I’m holding you to it. For. Ever.

 

 

raindrop

Who you lookin’ at – it’s not my fault!

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Abrupt Segue To Shinier, Happier Subjects

Daughter Belle is very much enjoying her Marine Biology class labs, where in the class and the professor head out on a boat in the Puget Sound and…explore.

I am almost as thrilled as she is – and I look forward to today’s vicarious enjoyment, when, like every Friday this semester, I receive pictures like this:

 

 

marinebiolabsept17

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Unexpected Stylings

 

 

scissors

“So you want a little off the top – I’ll show you a little off the top….”

 

 

 

 

Dateline: last Thursday afternoon, sitting at the chair in my hair stylist’s salon. While stylist KL fastened the hairdressing cape around my neck, I noticed an item on her station’s stand that was new to me. Next to the familiar containers of gels and sprays, and holders for combs and brushes and other styling utensils, I espied a bright orange spray can of something called Clippercide.

 

 

clipper

 

 

 

Although KL swore to me that Clippercide was merely a spray used to sterilized shears and other haircutting gear, I was suspicious. The product’s name was poorly chosen, I insisted. It sounds like a very specific felony charge filed against a haircutter who scissors someone to death.  

 

 

 

bookem

“First degree Clippercide – book ’em, Danno.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you never be on the receiving end of “Book ’em, Danno;”
May you never step on a barn kitty;
May you always hold the raindrop responsible for the flood;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or don’t give a tinker’s fart. It’s a tossup.

[2] and with deceit and subterfuge from the business’ Executive Director.

[3] In the case of MH and I, right next door.

[4] Using the Very Much Long Story Made Short ® format.

[5] Save for the salutation, in which our first names are used. Ya gotta love the personal touch.

[6] And once even a member of the Communist party, because I wanted to see if by doing so I would get on some FBI or governmental watch list. How idealistic foolish was that? (Yep, I was in college.)

The Ownership I’m Not Experiencing

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Happy Half Birthday to K

Yes, half-birthdays are a thing (at least in our family).

 

Eli In Leaves 1995

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Do You Say Wistful In Swedish?

MH and I bid a fond, happy-for-them-but-sad-for-us, Bon Voyage to our beloved and longtime “Swenadian” friends this week. The S family was one of the first families we met when we moved to this neighborhood, over 20 years ago. And now they have metaphorically set sail for the mother ship (the husband’s), Sweden.

After taking his company’s retire-or-get-fired [1]  offer this year, the Swedish-Canadian couple began planning to live their dream of returning to academia/research.  [2]  They sold their house in Hillsboro and are on their way to Sweden, and will reside in Gothenburg .

Their three now young adult children, of whom our son K and daughter Belle have so many fond memories, are all US citizens and are all (so far) content to remain in the USA; thus, there is an “anchor” to have our friends return stateside for visits. [3]  We also have their generous invitation to come across the pond and stay with them in Sweden. And so our wishes for them were Bon Voyage and best of luck – we didn’t have to truly bid them goodbye…even as my heart was aching, to lose the physical proximity of such good people.

Their daughter remarked on FB about how admiring and proud she was of her parents for taking on such a life adventure, and she hoped she would be doing something similar when she was 55.  Moiself, too, I thought, when I read her touching tribute. Similar (admittedly selfish) thoughts have added to the tug at my heart – where is my (post, ahem) age 55 adventure?  [4]  I’m sad to see good friends depart, yet happy for them as they pursue their dream…and also slightly envious of their willingness and ability to embark on their new venture.

Skål!

 

 

SegersNYE2005

How we will miss those classy family celebrations; e.g., the Swenadian Year of the Gummy Worm, aka New Year’s Eve 2005 (our son K [the only one sans eyeglasses] and daughter Belle(second row, middle) nd Belle with the S family’s children)

*   *   *

Department Of It’s So Much More Than That

“We hope you are enjoying your ownership experience with your Outback.”

So began the email I received last Sunday. After expressing their wish for my satisfaction, the good folks at Subaru of America tried to entice me to participate in an Outback ownership survey.  [5]

It didn’t take me long to reach for the delete key.  But I must admit, for a nanosecond or so, the email did get me to consider my life anew.  In the next few days, if y’all notice the twinkle in my eye or the spring in my step or the bug up my ass , it’s because I’ve seen the light.  How can I have been so callow, so unappreciative, for so long?  I don’t merely possess a car; I have an ownership experience.

 

 

subaru

Believe it or not, this wasn’t what sold me on my automobile purchase.

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Win For Science

Although the usage of win implies a contest, and there’s no contest between objective evidence and wishful thinking…although, if you spend a lot of time reading Facebook posts you realize how many people confuse the latter with the former.

To wit: The most recent total solar eclipse. Specifically, the fact that it occurred, as predicted by scientists, years ago. Win win win.

 

 

eclipse

“Let’s hear it for me!”

 

 

 

A momentary digression: Freethinkers, Brights, Humanists, Skeptics, Atheists – whatever we who are religion-free call ourselves, most of us have had the experience of being asked, by a religious believer, if we ‘believe” in science. Uh, nooooo, we reply, some of us successfully stifling the instinctive, WTF!? raising of our eyebrows (or just a fit of giggling), we don’t need to “believe” in science because “science” does not require that.

Science – observing, documenting and trying to understand the natural world – is a methodology, not a belief system.

Scientists cannot “believe” in science – they have to do science. Science requires action. Believing is passive – not only is no action required, seeking objective evidence is discounted and often even criticized by religions (which champion faith over facts because they couldn’t exist without the former and strive to exist despite the latter).  [6]   And of course they do – if you have evidence, you don’t need faith.

Back to the eclipse: we have fresh in our minds (and stunningly gorgeous pictures and videos on our FB and other feeds) yet another example of how to respond to those who would ask us  [7] if we “believe” in science.

Religions have been preaching about and predicting the end of the world for, well, since the beginning of religions. They prophesy the year or the season – often giving exact dates – when the world will end and/or their god(s) will “return.” It doesn’t happen.

Using information they’ve obtained on planetary and celestial body orbits, scientists predict solar eclipses. Scientists predict the exact dates and even times of these astronomical events, and they do this decades in advance.  The eclipses happen, on the dates and times predicted.

This could be the ultimate illustration of understanding the world using science, versus using religion. One is based on objective measurement and study of the natural world to discover and affirm what is true, and one is based on mythology, supernaturalism, and wishful thinking.  [8]

Sub-Department Of Define Your Terms

My use of the term wishful thinking:  when I apply that term to describe a person’s belief, it doesn’t necessarily mean I think said belief is inherently false, or true. It just means that the person believes what they want to be true, without objective evidence of whether it really is true.

Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.
Mark Twain

stars

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another Loss For Humanity

“I think I can speak for all Oregonians when I say our hearts are breaking.  The gorge is Oregon’s crown jewel. It’s our playground and we are very, very sad.”
(Multnomah Co. Chair Deborah Kafoury, Eagle Creek Fire Grows, Oregon Live.)

A text from Belle, up at school in Tacoma: “the amount of ash is crazy…there was a layer of ash all over my car this morning and it’s swirling around outside like snow.”

Alert after alert, popping up on my weather app. But I don’t need an app to tell that the air quality sucks – I just need to walk to the mailbox. The smoke-hazy skies, the catch in my breath, the lightly falling ash – ASH! – on the raspberry and azalea bushes, the awful feeling in my lungs, followed by the awful feeling in my head and heart, of hoping it’s due to prevailing winds carrying debris from fires far, far away…and finding out it is much closer than I think.

The awful feelings continue, as I find myself thinking the (almost) unthinkable: what I wish would happen to the juvenile shitstains of an excuse for sentient beings young arsonists who tossed firecrackers – in this weather! In ANY weather! – over a cliff, starting the Eagle Creek fire that is currently decimating the Columbia Gorge

 

 

 

gorge

*   *   *

May you look forward to reuniting with those whom you’ve bid adieu;
May you not settle for mere possessing when you can have an ownership experience;
May you have memories of visiting or hiking the Columbia Gorge when it was flame-free;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] It was a bit more complicated, and less nasty, than how I have stated it.

[2] Sadly, a big impetus for pursuing that dream was getting out of the Land of the Cheetos Hitler, the Mandarin Mussolini (insert your favorite epithet for #45)….  They found the changing political and cultural landscape of their adopted country to be increasingly odious.

[3] Although, realistically, the kids will go to Sweden to see Mom and Pop more than Mom & Pop will come back here.

[4] Having an ongoing, Life’s Third Act crisis doesn’t count.

[5] They were unsuccessful.

[6] (“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus berating the “Doubting Thomas” in the book of John)

[7] (often in defensive ways that indicate they somehow/deep down inside suspect that their religious beliefs are contradict by reality, and so they want to bring science, skepticism and the study of the natural world down to their level – “Well, you have faith in atheism/religion!” This is also known as the kindergarten-worthy, Oh yeah? Well so’s your old man/nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah! argument.

[8]  (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1, KJV )

The Soles I’m Not Smelling

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Department Of It Took Longer Than It Should Have To Figure It Out

Dateline: last week. Early on a late August day, out for a walk. Like far too many Pacific Northwest mornings this summer, the day is already too  [1]  warm at 6:50 am, and portends to become searing.

As it is our neighborhood’s trash pickup day, residents have dutifully wheeled their green (for household garbage) and brown (for yard waste) garbage cans to the curb. I walk, and keep looking around, my nose reflexively wrinkling in disgust, thinking, who hasn’t picked up their dog’s crap?  I occasionally stop to check the bottom of my shoes and the tips of my Exerstrider ®  walking poles, hoping I didn’t step in, uh, “anything”…

….until I realize the smell is not in fact coming from the soles of my shoes (yay!), nor from the sidewalks or gutters or streets, but from every other trashcan I walk by.

My keen sense of deductive – or is it aroma-tive? – reasoning tells me I am passing the garbage cans of dog owners, who have disposed of their Fido’s waste within.

Phew ( p.u.?) – glad to have figured that one out.  I look forward to the chillier, odor-quashing mornings of autumn and winter.

 

 

 

dog

I don’t get it. Smells fine to me.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of By The Way

If you’re still with me, here, you just read someone’s writing about festering dog turds on a hot August morning.

And you kept reading.

Just sayin.’

 

jubilantpicard

I love it when she finds an excuse to use the phrase, festering turds.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Further Information On The Eclipse I Did Not Describe

The total solar eclipse I didn’t feel capable of describing was featured in last week’s post. One aspect of the experience I can describe is how much everyone in our group [2] enjoyed the t-shirts MH made for us, to celebrate/commemorate the occasion.

This solar sartorial satisfaction was not limited to our band of eclipse groupies. At our viewing spot (overlooking the Lake Billy Chinook Gorge), which our group shared with about 20-30 other people, [3] many of the hitherto-strangers-to-us approached one or all of our group and commented on how much they *loved* the elegant simplicity of the shirts’ design – who did it, and boy-howdy could we have made some money if we’d set up a roadside stand selling them, ’cause they’d seen a variety of eclipse-related souvenirs but found none of them attractive and hadn’t been tempted to get anything, and then they saw all of us, each one sporting those Fabulous Shirts ® ….

 

 

 

eclipset

 

 

Department Of It’s A Small World In Astronomy Haute Couture

Turns out even people who weren’t even there liked the afore-mentioned shirts, thanks to social media. Our astronomer friend and trip organizer MM posted pictures of the event on his FB page, which caught the eyes of two astronomy fashion bloggers.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yep, you read right. There is such a thing as an astronomy fashion blogger (and it’s about time, isn’t it?).

Two New York City-based astronomers have a blog – http://www.startorialist.com – with possibly the best-ever motto:

Where science meets fashion and scientists get fabulous!

Yet again, I digress. But with good reason. You really ought to check out some of the duds on their site.  These Ladies of Luminosity are legit – they’ve been written up about their expectation-defying interest in promoting science-inspired style. There’s a whole cosmos o’ celestial chic out there apart from Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s vast vault of vogue vests.

 

 

 

MDT

 

 

 

So: MM contacted MH and let him know that the startorialist astronomers had noticed our group’s groovy shirts, and had asked MM for more photos and info on how you made them.   Generous and Humble Citizen of the World ®  that he is, MH decided to forgo the opportunity to get all exclusive-y and copyright-y and make bazillions of dollars on Etsy:  he sent the startorialists more pictures, and shared his trade secrets (i.e. provided step-by-step instructions as to how he’d made the shirts), which y’all may be able to read on one of their upcoming blog posts.

 

*   *   *

different

 

 

 

Department Of Why Aren’t You Seeing This Movie?

Wind River is starkly beautiful, foreboding, poignantly distressing, lyrically blue, with unanticipated moments of dry wit/gallows humor…not sure of an adequate term for some of its droll dialogue.  Superb writing and directing by Taylor Sheridan, who also gave us last year’s engrossing Hell or High Water.  And it’s always nice to see the underused Canadian/First Nations actor Graham Greene in action.  [4]

Just go see it, okay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Passing Comments

Dateline: Sunday afternoon. MH and I driving home from our errands-running. The panhandler sat on a chair in the median by the traffic light. He was puffing away on his nicotine death stick delivery system cigarette with a laconic-yet-defiant, fuck yeah I’m gonna spend your donation on my tobacco smirk on his face.

The why-you-should-give-me-money sign he held read:

Too ugly to prostitute
too honest to steal

“He forgot, Too proud to beg, ” MH muttered.

 

 

 

handsup

*   *   *

May your walks be perfumed by the sweetest scents nature can provide;
May you always keep reading past the turd stories;
May you have the opportunity to get science-fashion fabulous;   [5]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Who gets to decide what is “too” warm for an Oregon morning? I do. You didn’t get the memo?

[2] Sixteen total: MH, K, Belle and I, plus twelve Californians – longtime friends and their families and S.O.s (plus two dogs, which, of course, didn’t want to miss out on the eclipse action)

[3] Whom, we assumed, had also previously checked out likely viewing spots and decided, “This is the one!”

[4] What happened to all the footnotes? There should be at least five.

[5] Ah, that’s better.

The Experience I’m Not Describing

1 Comment

*   *   *

Department Of How To Describe The Indescribable

aka

Total Eclipse Of The Blog

 

My family and I joined twelve friends on an adventure to the Central Oregon high desert area, where we were able to find a prime viewing spot just above the Lake Billy Chinook gorge, with Mt. Jefferson to the west. We watched the eclipse in all its phases, from first contact [1] through the end, and were able to experience just under two minutes of totality.

Astronomers, other scientists, science geeks and groupies and other laypersons have tried, with varying degrees of evocative articulation, to speak and/or write about Monday’s solar eclipse.  Check NASA’s site for links to superlative photos and videos, if you’re interested.

As for moiself, I am still processing my experience, and thus am hesitant to write much about it.

 

 

 

muchrejoicing

 

 

 

 

You’re welcome.

Our longtime family friend  [2]  MM is a NASA astronomer and solar eclipse-o-phile. [3]  MM was the impetus and initial organizing force for the trip – his third (and our first) to the area of a solar eclipse totality zone.  In a heartfelt FB post, MM wrote about how it is difficult to put the experience of seeing a total solar eclipse into words…yet he managed to do so, IMHO, with concision and beauty:

It’s such an immersive experience with the Earth, the shadow, the moon, and the sun. … I’ve always said that “it speaks to your lizard brain,” which still doesn’t do it justice in any way. The indifference of the moon grinding on in its orbit while we humans gather in the shadow speaks to many things and moved me to tears.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Please Stop Saying That

Allegedly Sentient Biped A: Let’s go see the Transformers movie tonight at the multiplex. Meet you there at seven-fifteen?”

Allegedly Sentient Biped B: Awesome!

 

 

WORD

 

 

The mis- and over-use of that adjective has bothered me for ages. But now that I have truly experienced something which merits the description of being

magnificent, majestic, imposing, splendid, spectacular, grand, awe-inspiring, striking, stunning, breathtaking, impactful

etc., I don’t know if I can continue to tolerate hearing awesome used in conjunction with the unfortunate myriad of comparatively ordinary, pedestrian objects and situations to which it is applied.

You know what this means.

I’m afraid I’m going to turn into One Of Those People Who Corrects Other People On Their Word Usage.  ®  

 

 

Grammarcop

 

 

All things considered, could you blame me, the next time some nonchalant café server attempts the following interaction?

Server: “Have you decided what to order?”

Moiself: “Yes, I’ll have your quinoa lingonberry salad special.”

Server: “Awesome!”

Moiself: “Uh…thank you for lauding my selection, but, trust me, I’ve seen awesome, and your salad – anyone’s salad – ain’t it.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of We Are The World/We Are The Sunset

Perhaps the most memorable of the eclipse moments was also, for me, the most unexpected. It occurred during the totality, when I tore my gaze away from watching the extension of the solar corona and looked down, and around, at the horizon. There was another totality to be seen – that of the sunset effect. I turned in a circle, and instead of seeing a sliver of the pink/red glow of dusk to the west, it was in all directions:  360 degrees of “sunset.”

It blew my effin’ mind.

Without using any external technology (compass; GPS) or just previously knowing where you were (okay; Mt. Jefferson was to the west so we are facing east…),  there were none of the usual solar clues to orient you. You could not tell east from west from north from south.  For just under two minutes, “direction” or orientation didn’t matter.

What a humbling perspective. Could it make a difference, I wondered, if people all over the world could see it?

When I attempted to explain my experience to my son K and daughter Belle, K mischievously accused me of having “one of your hippie moments.”

 

*   *   *

May you appreciate those times when direction doesn’t matter;
May you prioritize seeing, at least once in your life, a total solar eclipse;
May you live long and well enough to have legitimately awesome experiences;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] No, Star Trek TNG fans, not that First Contact.

[2] He and MH’s association goes back to mid 1980s Caltech.

[3] If there is such a thing, and I think that there is.

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