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The Friendly Skies I’m Not Flying

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Department Of This Never Would Have Happened On Alaska Airlines

Ah, United Airlines, where customer service goes to die.

Unless y’all have recently emerged from a persistent vegetative state, it is likely you are familiar with recent headlines along the lines of

* Two Girls Barred from United Flight For Wearing Leggings

* Passengers ‘shaky and so disgusted’ as United forces screaming doctor off a plane

 

 

united1

 

Once again, the internet comes to the rescue: satire wafts from the ashes of tragedy and shame, as per these new slogans people have suggested for United Airlines:

* United Airlines: You Carry On, We Carry Off.

* United Airlines: The Captain Has Turned On The No Passenger Sign.

* United Airlines: Other Flights Have Cabin Crews. We Have Bouncers.

* United Airlines: Board As a Doctor, Leave As a Patient.

* United Airlines: You Can Run But You Cannot Fly.

* United Airlines: Would You Like a Neck Pillow or a Neck Brace?

* United Airlines:  If We Overbook You’ll Catch a Right Hook.

* United Airlines: Now Serving Punch.

* United Airlines:  Tell Us Your Safe Word At Check-in.

* United Airlines: We Have First Class, Business Class, and No Class.

* United Airlines: We’ll Drag You All Over The World.

 

Years ago (decades, actually) I stopped voluntarily [1] flying United Airlines, due to what I perceived as their cattle-car treatment of passengers. As for the (latest) incident, it is turd-twirlingly mind-scrambling to think of how many ways United fucked up.

I recall standing in an airline’s boarding area, listening to the announcement that the flight is full, and wishing I’d hear a, We’ve-overbooked-would-anyone-volunteer-their-seat-for-the-following-compensation? announcement, because although it would inconvenience me it was the one time when I could have taken the free trip anywhere plus hotel voucher and rebooked for a later flight to my destination.

I can recall many more times when I have heard the, We’ve overbooked announcement but could not take the offer because I really had to be at a certain some place at a certain time. Being at a certain place by a certain time is why I had booked that particular flight – why 99.9% of passengers book any flights – in the first place.

 

 

DUH

 

 

 

Flying hasn’t been fun, or even a mildly pleasurable form of transportation, for years. Unless you can manage/afford to fly first class you’re basically boarding a bus with wings after having the write-home-to-grandma experience of the bus station employees giving you a body cavity search. People generally don’t book airline flights on a whim; they book a particular flight because they need to get to a particular place by a particular time. Thus, it is understandable that the United flight in question had no takers when the pilot or whomever announced that they’d overbooked the flight and needed four seats for their standby crew.

According to the news stories, the give-up-your-seat offer was $400 and a night at a hotel – no takers. United upped the cash to $800 – still no takers. Then a manager came on board the plane and announced that a computer would randomly select four people to be kicked off de-boarded.

Now then: why did United wait until the plane was already boarded to make the announcement/do the selection? We’re supposed to believe they didn’t know until the very last minute about the standby flight crew wanting a ride, or just didn’t announce it until later? Everyone knows you do the, We’re overbooked thing while passengers are still in the airport, impatiently milling about the gate – you do this BEFORE boarding the damn  plane, to save time/avoid hassle and embarrassment of having to de-board already boarded passengers. Major Fuckup #1.

Major Fuckup #2 – No takers on getting people to surrender a seat they’ve already paid for? You keep upping the amount until someone agrees to reschedule their flight. Sweeten the pot enough, eventually, someone will accept the offer.  By overbooking in the first place, you, the airline, have screwed this up, so you’re going to have to suck it up financially  in order to get someone to give up their seat.

Major Fuckup #3: random selection by computer may sound like the fairest option in a bad situation, but such measures will always need human triage, in the form of oversight and tweaking. What if the computer selects a single parent traveling with minor children, which would leave the children flying alone? Nope; move on to the next roll of the dice.  A person with a disability which makes boarding problematic, or a frail, easily confused elderly man flying with his attendant? Move on to someone else. A shell-shocked woman who is rushing to be with her mother after the sudden and unexpected death of her father,  [2] or a physician who has patients to treat…. The human components of reviewing circumstances and applying compassion must overrule random selection.

I’ll stop at that. In this era of instantaneous Twitter posts passing for reporting, the incident is already old news by now. Other minds more articulate and reflective than mine will continue to investigate and dissect the incident…but knowing this does not “un-rattle” me about what happened. It so Did Not Have To Be That Way. ®

 

 

united

May I show you our complimentary involuntary deplaning menu items?

*   *   *

Department Of That WooWoo That You Do So Well  [3]

Do you want to try something “woo” this Friday?

This is how I text-invited MH, last Wednesday, to an event about which I knew next to nothing. When I Googled What is a Crystal Sound Bath one of the first descriptions I ran across contained the advice to “…think of it as a woo-woo horizontal concert.”

The event, held at the yoga studio where I take classes, had the following description on the studio’s website:

“Come join us for an evening of sound healing and relaxation. A crystal bowl sound bath offers the participant the ability to completely release any stress or tension in the mind and body allowing one to relax, balance, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
During this sound bath the participant will relax comfortably on their back, while the sounds and resonance of the pure crystal bowls engulf the room and move through and around you; feeling like an energetic massage from the inside out.”

It’s not like the crystal bowls resonate themselves…which you might wonder after reading that lacking-in-some-essential-details-description. There was a person, [4]  a self-described “musical artist”  [5]  playing the crystal bowls, and also drums and chimes and a few other percussion-type objects, while attendees were supine, eyes closed, on yoga mats.

I did find it a most pleasant and relaxing way to spend an hour. Bonus woo: the entertainment value of the “sharing” afterwards of participants’ experiences, wherein MH and I had an unspoken pact not to make eye contact when a very few other participants hopped the Woo Train and shared their experiences, including one person who claimed to have opened her eyes at one point and seeing – not imagining nor hallucinating, but seeing – “ethereal beings hovering” over the people in the studio…

 

 

 

beans

Ahem, ’twas BEINGS hovering, she said….

 

 

 

…while the sound of chimes engulfed the room.

Crystal Sound Bath.  I figured out the bath reference – one’s body is “bathed” in the sensation of sounds. Although when I first heard the term Crystal Sound Bath, for some reason I pictured moiself sitting in a really large bathtub with other participants and a guy holding one of those crystal bowls. Which, of course, took me right back to a tune from long ago.

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub.
My how interesting – move over, boys.

BTW, if anyone can help me identify the novelty song  from whence those ever-so-lightly-naughty lyrics stem (a song played on the Dr. Demento radio show), you will have my eternal gratitude.  [6]   Thanking you in advance, I offer this Dr. D all time-favorite, for your listening pleasure:

 

 

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Department Of Sometimes It Hits Me With No Warning

Dateline: Saturday morning. While exercising, I looked out at the window to our backyard, surveying the remnants of the wind apocalypse that hit northwest Oregon from the coast to the Columbia Gorge last Friday. Just for a moment, I thought, in the present tense, I can’t wait to tell Mom about this.

The weather – that most bland, mundane and seemingly impersonal of subjects – was actually one of the best thing to talk about with my mother in her later (Read: “declining”) years. Mom loved hearing about the rain, or the glorious autumn foliage, or first sunny day in Spring and the unexpected snowstorm to blanket the Portland  area. She in turn seemed to enjoy sharing details of the latest (read: ongoing) drought in SoCal, the same weather she’d told me about the previous week.

In her last two years, all conversational roads with my mother circled around and back to the weather.  It was her way of keeping grounded, of telling me how she was doing, when the simple, basic “How are you doing/what’s up with you?” conversational queries were no longer so simple.   [7].

When she couldn’t remember the names of my children; when she couldn’t remember her own age or how many children she had or the fact that she was living in Southern California and not Minnesota or that she was talking with me and not another of my sisters, or that her husband was not with her because he had died and not deserted her – or if she could remember just enough to know that she was forgetful ,and was physically and cognitively deteriorating, which made her fearful – she could still understand and appreciate the weather.

Oh, tell me about it! Do you think you’ll get more ____ (rain, snow, wind, sunshine)? We really need the rain down here, even though, as you know, I love the sun….

And so on Saturday morning, for the briefest of moments, I was happy thinking about my next phone call to her – happy to have a “safe” topic to share…followed by my brain’s gut-clenching reminder to my heart that I now have no obligation – nor opportunity –  to share the weather report with my mother, who died last Christmas Eve.

 

 

 

MarionatOliveSt.

Marion Parnell, in the days when she didn’t have to pretend to care about the weather.

 

 

*   *   *

May all your airplane de-boardings be voluntary;
May your sound baths be as woo-filled or wee-free as you like;
May you never lack for safe topics to share with your loved ones;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I have flown United once since making that vow; on a flight booked by someone else.

[2] I have been that passenger, and can’t imagine the additional heartache of being “randomly selected” to be thrown off the plane.

[3] If you’re too young to get the Frank Sinatra lyrical reference, just keep that to yourself, okay?

[4] A yoga teacher and “healer” type person specializing in “energy work.” Yeah, MH and I cringed a bit, but he was quite nice.

[5] As in, neither true musician or artist?

[6] Could it be The Moustache Song  (sp?)?  Here is a sample, but where is the entire song?  a sample here…where is the song? And no, not the one from that A Million Ways to Die in the West movie.

[7] Such questions are not recommended – in fact, they can be (unintentionally) cruel – for people suffering from memory impairment.

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 Exit Row I’m Not Blocking

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Department Of And Who Can Argue With That?

My lifelong and ongoing study of my species has led me to formulate this highly complex principle re human nature: We the People ®  are sometimes more strongly united by our fears than our hopes.

These worries-in-common include the fear of

(1) harm befalling our children and/or others we love;
(2) becoming less useful and relevant – to society, our families, and ourselves – as we age;
(3) farting during yoga class;
(4) there is no 4th fear which unites us;
(5) really, is anything more frightening than (3)?

 

 

 

Speaking of common fears, like most concerned citizens I boycotted the most recent episode of American Horror Story. Translation: On January 20 I did not watch the least presidential presidential inauguration the world has ever imagined inauguration.

On January 21, I did participate in the anti-inauguration, pro-human rights, Portland Women’s March, one of the dozens of marches held around the country – around the world [1] – in solidarity with the main march on Washington, D.C.

 

*   *   *

 

I was thrilled that daughter Belle, who attends college in Tacoma, was highly enthusiastic about the event and joined with friends to travel to the Seattle march. Moiself, however, had many reasons to be hesitant about taking part in the local march. There was the emotional and physical fatigue of having recently returned from my mother’s funeral and house cleaning aftermath; there was also Portland’s history of anarchist assholes showing up, running amok and ruining otherwise sane and peaceful demonstrations…which they’d managed to do on the previous day; [2]   the was also the idea that a march is kina like maybe sorta close to being a parade – and for a renowned parade loather such as moiself, that alone is reason enough to stay home.

And…signs?  We should carry signs and, uh, chant meaningful slogans – that’s what you do in a protest march, right? Well, IMHO if your politics can fit on a sign, you need to rethink your politics.  Nevertheless, I made a two-sided sign. Side 1 was to express a serious sentiment.

 

 

sign2

 

 

Side two, I opted for what I assume would be a universally understood metaphor: 

 

 

sign1

 

 

I made my signs, but still hadn’t decided on attending, until it hit me on Friday:  I. Just. Had. To. Go. As per my post last week (link) re the the young people will save us! cliché, I decided to aside my Seen Most Of It All world-weariness….

And I am still not quite sure how to describe the experience. I only know I am so glad that I, and MH and friends JWW and MW, joined the one hundred thousand other people and marched our soggy asses off.

I thought I was old and cynical – correct on both counts – but still… In the pouring rain, being part of an enormous, seemingly endless river of humorous and good-hearted humanity and then discovering that this was going on all over the world as well as in every major city in the country…. Women and children and MEN and elderly women in wheelchairs and women and MEN and even dogs wearing pink hats and police officers accepting the pink hats the marchers offered them (and placing them atop their helmets) and did I mention how many MEN there were, supporting the women and advocating for their own issues and rockin’ those pink hats?

 

 

womens-march-dc-police-wear-anti-trump-pussy-hats-dave-stroup-twitter

 

 

The Predator-in-Chief  [3] aka Agent Orange is going to have his reality-denying job cut out for him, trying to ignore the fact that this has never happened on such a scale, not even during the anti-Vietnam war era protests

And I love the fact that, returning home after the march, my right index finger got a mild case of repetitive motion soreness (what I think of as FBLS, or FaceBook Like Syndrome) from clicking like on pictures and posts from friends and family all over the world, who also participated in the marches. I am, we are, far from alone. Millions of people in this country, around the world, share our concerns and fears about what the incoming administration is capable of.

Now, I’m aware of the dangers that can follow acts of solidarity, and of how moments of satisfaction can lull us into complacency, especially if demonstrations do not translate into action. This struggle – against Agent Orange and his human rights quashing/reality-denying minions – will take vigilance and consistent action on the part of everyone, but especially young adults, who, IMHO, have the energy and responsibility [4]  to do so.

I am somewhat skeptical about the capability of the on-line, instant gratification generation’s ability to devote significant time to causes which require longer attention spans than watching a six second GIF.  Still, I would like nothing better than to have a big fat I TOLD YOU SO thrown in my face after my son’s and daughter’s peers rise up and do whatever it takes to get this political impostor and his toadies out of our nation’s capital and back to the circus where they belong.

 

*   *   *

 

Take a look at pictures snapped from atop the Lincoln Memorial, or at the video footage shot from helicopters hovering over people amassing on the Washington Mall. Examine the images of a crowd of 100,000 people, and then the images taken from the same viewpoint showing a crowd of 300,000 in the same space. A pre-mathematically literate child could tell the difference – a group of three Lego blocks is smaller than a group of nine Lego blocks. But Agent Orange looks at the first picture and says, MINE WAS BIGGER.

Attention, Trump supporters…

 

 

 

camel

Like there are any of those who read her blog!

 

 

 

 

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Good point.

Still, if you voted for the Republican candidate, for whatever reason, and you find yourself reading this, for whatever reason, please consider the following:

The inaugural’s and protest march events’ attendance figures have been confirmed by outside, objective sources – including the professional “bean counters” and satellite imagery. The information shows that this most recent inauguration was one of the smallest recent inaugural events in terms of public attendance, while attendance at the following day’s protest march was three times as large. If you don’t trust the crowd counters, simply look at the aerial photographs of the events – this is not classified information.  Trump and his spokespeople have the facts are available to them, yet they continue to say theirs was bigger.

Please don’t tell me – please don’t try to convince yourself – that you are okay with this.

You may say something along the lines of, Okay, but what’s the big deal – which crowd was bigger? Does it matter, ultimately It’s a small detail; it’s not one of the bigger issues facing the country.

That’s precisely my point.

If which-crowd-was-larger is small potatoes in the grander garden patch of issues, why then does Trump, and why do those around Trump, feel compelled to lie about it?

The big issues are made up of the small details. How is it you can trust Trump with what you say are the big issues (jobs, immigration, “making American white great again”) when he so consistently “falsely hits” – oh, come now, let’s use our big words – lies – about the details?  [5]

If Trump and his staff are willing to lie about something as demonstrably false as the inauguration attendance figures, just what is it they won’t lie about?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Still Petty After All These Years

 

Dateline: 6 a.m.-ish, two weeks ago at the Portland airport, getting in a little people-watching as I am waiting to board my flight to SoCal for my mother’s funeral. Also waiting to board the flight is a young woman dressed in multiple shades of black, from boots to leggings to kilt to shirt to jacket. One side of the dyed black hair on her head is fashionably [6]  shaved,  revealing multiple ear and body piercings and tattoos from the tips of her ears down her neck and shoulders. As she turns around to fiddle with her carry-on bag, I see that the back of her leather jacket is “decorated” with a very distinctive picture of an upraised hand with its middle finger extended.

 

 

 

fu-jacket

 

 

What a lovely way to present yourself to…well, to everyone you meet, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, politics, worldview, or relationship to you. Up yours, whomever you are.

In yet another Sure Sign You’re Getting Old ® moment, I was tempted to tap her on the shoulder and whisper, “I’m sitting in the exit row, and if we need to make an emergency evacuation I’ll make sure you’re the last person off the place. Have a nice fucking day.”

*   *   *

dogcitizen

 

 

Department of Things to Consider

On Saturday my imagination was momentarily if infinitesimally tweaked by the following description, from The Oregonian, about a must-see event (my emphases):

“The Rose City Classic dog show series is underway at the Portland Expo Center. Some 3,000 dogs representing more than 180 breeds will face off in competitions including best of breed, agility, obedience and good citizenship.”

 

 

really

 

Yes, really.

I had to scratch my noggin’ and other anatomical points as I wondered how the latter competition would be decided. What, exactly (or even vaguely), are the criteria for a dog (or any other animal) displaying good citizenship? Would there be doggy recitations of doggy essays on Why American Is Still The Home Of The Brave? How will the dogs be judged on the classic qualities of a good citizen – contributing positively to society, participating in public affairs with wisdom and discretion, being willing to serve on a jury and/or fulfilling other civic duties….

 

 

A Friendly Game of Black Jack - Dogs Playing Blackjack

It is the civic duty of every dog to respect the laws of probability, and stand on 17 or greater.

 

 

 

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Department Of We All Need This Right Now

 

Take a deep, cleansing breath, cast all thoughts of political turmoil aside, and enjoy this picture of Belle and her Bengal kitty, Yeti.

 

 

sadieyeti

*   *   *

 

May you display good citizenship regardless of your species;
May you always be able to recognize and respect the most rudimentary principles of math (such as, 300,000 > 100,000);
May you work for a world where guacamole is not extra;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] We saw pictures posted from a friend, taken at the march in Ljubljana, Slovenia!

[2] Side note: I’ve always been amused by the idea of anarchists organizing to show up at the same time and place for…anything.

[3] Thank you, Jane Fonda, for that most apt moniker.

[4] Hey, it’s your future.

[5] See Trump Falsely Hits Media On Turnout And Intelligence Rift.

[6] Not in my fashion book, but, yeah.

The Heritage I’m Not Claiming

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I’d given up on attending Christmas-themed theatrical performances – at least, the ones which (theoretically) are comedies. The disaster that was A Tuna Christmas has become legend in my family. Several years ago MH got our family tickets for a Portland performance of the play, at my request, as a family outing for my birthday. When intermission was announced and everyone in the theatre stood up to stretch their legs and find the bathroom, I turned to son K, who was standing beside me, and asked, “Would you be disappointed if we left now?”

Oh, Mom, K gushed, hugging me so hard I almost toppled out of the balcony, “I’m so glad you feel that way!” His enthusiasm quickly spread to daughter Belle and MH, who, as it turned out, were all equally unimpressed with the play. We’d each been sitting there, thinking the same thing (this play sucks), each of us thinking we were the only one who felt that way….

There are few worse forms of entertainment than unfunny comedies, especially those that present themselves as satire and/or farces. The series of Greater Tuna plays – set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas and described as satirical yet affectionate take-offs on small-town, Southern life and attitudes – are, IMHO, a prime example of that phenomenon.

I suppose…I can maybe imagine…how, in the early 1980s, the sight of two gay men portraying a play’s twenty-plus cast members, including elderly female characters, was considered to be thigh-slappin,’ boot-stompin’, side-splittin’ hi-larious. For some folks. [1]

Moiself? I found it dated, and, worst of all – take it away, Joanne Worley – 

 

 

joanne

BOOOOOORRRRRRING!

 

 

Last Sunday I decided to give the Christmas Comedy one more try, thanks to local theatre company Bag & Baggage.  Because nothing says holiday spirit like the description of their one time cabaret event, Drunk as the Dickens:

Five of our Resident Actors will start drinking at 5:00pm. We will pull as many vaguely Victorian costumes as our drunken hands can carry, and then head over to Clark’s Bistro and Pub where, at 8:00pm, we will make them pull their characters from out of Scrooge’s nightcap, hand them a 1 hour(ish) version of A Christmas Carol and see if any of them can read while hammered. What could possibly go wrong?

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Speaking of Christmas….

 

Annual Holiday History Lecture Reminder To The War On Christmas Imbeciles Bunch

 

 

heathen

 

The more fundamentalist the believer, the more ignorant they seem to be re a fundamental truth behind their religious observances: “Christian” holidays, in particular the biggies (Christmas and Easter), began as pagan festivals. Christmas belongs to and was in fact originated by pagans. Christians just changed your own history and renamed the festivities. However, in the true spirit of generosity, we heathens are happy to share the jolly season with one and all. As per these self-plagiarisms excerpts from my previous blogs:

  The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  [2]  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.  [3]

 

pagan-idol

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

Heretics/apostates non-Christians We happy heathens often hear this question at this time of year.  The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical.  This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.

 

 

santa

 

 

Who doesn’t like a party/celebration, for any reason? We who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with any religious folk – sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they acknowledge the fact that the ways we celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas tradition” that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism. [4]  A celebration in the depths of winter, at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north, is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties.  The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.

 But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season?

The reason for the season?  Cool story, bro.  Since you asked, actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season.  For all of the seasons.

 

winter_solstice_diagram

 

 

Our names for the days of the week come from religions predating Christianity. The Greeks named the days week after the sun, the moon and the five (at the time) known planets which they’d named after their gods… then the Romans substituted their equivalent gods, followed by the Germanic, Norse and Celtic peoples. For example, Thursday comes from Thor’s-day, Friday from variants on Frigg’s and Freya’s Day, Saturday from Saturn’s Day….

The god Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.  [5]  My calling that day Wednesday doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship, or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

 

 

woden

“Go smite the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”

 

 

 

The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22.  However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.   [6]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or around December 25 included HorisHuitzilopochtliIsisMithrasMardukOsirisSerapis and Sol.)   [7] 

When the Roman Catholics came to power and spread north from Rome, they encountered pagan practices that had gone on for thousands of years before the Popes decided to claim divine authority and subdue the illiterate masses by dressing like the bastard spawn of Elton John and Lady Gaga.

 

gaga

 

 

The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.   [8] Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the (Christian) church. Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the son-of-god.

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas”  [9] when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

saturnalia

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Is She Or Isn’t She

I’ve lost track of the number of times it’s happened to me. In a lecture hall at college; in a restaurant; while riding public transportation; with fellow travelers in a rowboat on Lake Bled in Slovenia….

It’s a combination of my reminding people of someone else, and/or my saying or doing something that makes people suspect (or even hope) that I might be one of their clan.

Are you Jewish? You’re Jewish – right?

It (the questioned ethnicity/group of origin in question) is almost always not the case, and I can’t help but be fascinated by why it matters to the person asking. The default explanation presented to me (by someone who once asked) is that if you are in the minority, in any way or group, you tend to notice [10] who might be one of your kind, so to speak.

Hands down, the majority of identity inquiries I’ve received have been about my being a member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Chosen People. But not exclusively. Other Are you _______?s have included gay/lesbian, Russian, Native American and – one of my favorites – Australian (hello?  Aussie accent, like, nonexistent?).

 

 

 

gday

We don’t claim her, mate, now G’day and bugger off.

 

 

 

Most recently it happened at a seafood bistro, during last week’s sabbatical-of-sorts trip to the Oregon Coast.  It was a slow evening for the restaurant, and my waiter and I had established a chatty rapport.  Near the end of my meal, before he frightened me with the dessert tray,  [11]  and seemingly apropos of nothing, the waiter asked if I or any members of my family were French Canadian, or Cajun?

I told him that, to my DNA analysis-deficient knowledge, the only thing French about me was the attempt by certain relatives on my father’s side of the family to downplay their indigenous heritage (this was back when it wasn’t considered “cool” for white folks to claim Native American ancestry) by reassuring my maternal grandmother than the purported Chickasaw/Cherokee woman who’d married a Parnell man was “maybe just French.”

The waiter chuckled; I asked him why he wondered about my heritage. He replied that, physically and mannerisms-wise, I reminded him of several relatives on his mother’s side of the family, and also, specifically, his mother.

The waiter was at least my age (several years older, I’d bet).  Nevertheless, I told him I would take that as a compliment, and he left verbal skidmarks assuring me that, indeed, that is what the similarity was supposed to be.

I did not order dessert, but left a good tip. Monetarily ,that is. I refrained from leaving him another good tip: never tell a woman who is older than twenty that she reminds you of your mother.

 

*   *   *

May you never be forced to endure a humor-free comedy;
May you acknowledge the old traditions before creating your own;
May whatever tribes or traditions you claim bemuse the hell out of someone;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

Happy Saturnalia and Solstice and Yule and Merry Christmas and Boxing Day and Hanukkah and Kwaanza and Festivus and….

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Like, say, your mildly homophobic grandparents.

[2] Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687).  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

[3] Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.

[4] “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5

[5] Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.

[6] The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory,  the solstice was established on 12/22.

[7] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[8] In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.

[9] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

[10] And in some cases/in some situations, it can be life-preserving to keep track of such things.

[11] Really, out of nowhere a ginormous dessert tray appeared by my side, and my being startled by it greatly amused my waiter.

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 Bridge I’m Not Building

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Department of Snarkosity and Sarcasm

Aka, Religion Is Such A Rational Reaction to Reality

Dateline: last Friday afternoon: To driver of the Grand Caravan minivan with the California license plates, you who made a concerted effort to pass me on the right and then cut me off in traffic  [1]  on that very busy road in Beaverton where two lanes narrow down to one:

I assume you placed the Bloody Praying Hands Of Jesus ® decal on your rear window for a reason.  Do you really want your “witness” to be that which provokes a reaction like mine –

Jesus F. Christ You Drive Like A Dick!

stigmata

*   *   *

Department Of Missed Opportunities

 

Neither MH nor I have ever owned a gun. MH fired a gun a few times in his childhood, on a trip to Montana with a friend to visit the friend’s uncle (uncle had a backyard target range or something). I have fired a gun twice. Once was during my grade school years, when a neighborhood kid was showing off his BB gun. [2]  My second Annie Oakley moment took place the summer after my sophomore year in college, when I fired a shotgun for the first (and so far, last) time, giving me my first (and so far, only) Shotgun Story © .

A college friend APRIATT [3] and I were visiting the friend’s brother, who lived in a cabin in the mountains in Northern California. Friend’s Brother was a logger who looked like he’d applied for a job as a Jeremiah Johnson [4] stand-in.

 

 

Kinda like this, sans bear hat.

Kinda like this, sans bear hat.

 

 

 

Friend’s Logger Brother aspired to live the life of a Mountain Man. ®    FLB liked to fire his shotgun out in the woods behind his cabin, to keep his aim sharp in case he ever needed to protect himself from, say, a marauding tin of Spam (or so I assumed, as his target practice consisted of firing at cans placed on a tree stump). FLB took us to his makeshift firing range, set some cans on a log and shot at them, knocking all but one off the log. He then winked at his brother, held out the shotgun to me, and asked me if I’d like to give it a try.

I did not hit the can. I also did not get knocked tit-over-ass, or even sideways, by the shotgun’s recoil, which is what happens to most novices, or so I was later told (in an abashedly admiring tone) by FLB. Somehow I’d managed – totally without any kind of instruction, mind you  [5] – to instinctively brace the barrel properly and tuck the gun stock into my shoulder before squeezing the trigger.

Firing once was enough, for me. It was neither traumatizing nor titillating; it was very, very LOUD. It sounded, I told my friend, as if three Led Zeppelin concerts had just been performed in my right ear.

*   *   *

Time warp with me, if you will, to many years later – early 1990’s, is my guess. I was walking to downtown Hillsboro one afternoon, and on my way to Someplace Else I passed the only local gun store in town (which is no longer there). Apropos of nothing, I realized I’d  never set foot in a gun shop. And so I did.

I was the only customer. There was one employee, a smiling, genial man in his late-30s-to-early40s-I-reckon. He introduced himself as the shop owner and asked if I needed any assistance. I told him my story, such as it was: I was passing by, realized I’d never been in a gun store, and spur-of-the-moment decided to see what one looked like. While relating this thrilling tale I did a quick visual survey of the shop, noting the glass display cases filled with ammunition and the variety of firearms hanging on the walls, seemingly organized into categories: shotguns on the east wall, handguns on the south wall, rifles on the west wall.

Friendly Gun Shop Owner invited me to look around and said he’d gladly show me any “piece” that caught my interest.  Oh, alrighty. And, since you mentioned it, when you get a customer who is a potential first-time buyer, what is the first “piece” you show them?

Immediately after posing that question I realized the answer it would depend on if the customer had express interested in taking up hunting or target shooting or felt paranoid every time an iota of progress was made in civil rights that they needed a gun for personal protection. But before I could add this follow, FGSO whirled about and grabbed a shiny black pistol from the wall behind him. He set it on the counter in front of me and asked me to pick it up (It’s okay, it’s not loaded) and admire it.

The gun felt lighter than I’d expected. What is it that I am holding? FGSO said it was a 9 millimeter Smith & Wesson. This prompted me to ask about a gun’s designation: did the caliber size refer to the size of the bullet, or the dimension of the gun’s barrel, and if the latter was that an external or internal measurement, and either way, diameter or radius – diameter, I’d always assumed, but I didn’t know for sure and wondered…

Don’t really know. FGSO shrugged his shoulders, and seemed almost perplexed by my question. I found that odd – did he, a gun shop owner, actually not know, or did he think it something I shouldn’t bother knowing? Before I could ask a follow-up question, he began talking about the beauty of the piece he’d shown me. Yes, I said, I can see the attraction of it – of  admiring the construction of any kind of mechanism, and appreciating the craft…although I had to admit that even just holding that gun made me a wee bit nervous. You see, I hadn’t been around guns much and, considering their purpose…

No, don’t think like that.

There was an infinitesimal yet noticeable shift in FGSO’s demeanor.  It’s like what you first said; it’s just a mechanism – a machine. It’s a tool. A gun is just a tool. People who don’t like guns or are afraid of them don’t understand that.

His tone became insistent, and although the corners of his mouth remained his smile had transformed, from genuine to forced.  A gun is just a tool, like a car is a tool. Every year thousands of people are killed and injured in car accidents, but no one tries to ban people from owning cars.

Uh, gee…how do you figure? I donned what I thought was my most disarming, wide-eyed, smile, [6] and gently pointed out that the auto analogy didn’t quite hold up.  Injuries and deaths due to auto accidents are just that – accidental, and while certainly tragic, are also incidental to an automobile’s purpose – which is to transport people and/or cargo. A gun’s purpose, what it is in fact designed for, is to shoot (at) some thing or some one.

 

 

Oops.

Oops…versus….

 

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished.

 

And he just lost it. When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns!

“Uh….?” I looked around the store; it was still just me and FGSO. “Who said anything about outlawing guns?”

 

 

Ok, Chucky, just hold still....

Ok, Chucky, just hold still….

 

 

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people!  There are no dangerous weapons; only dangerous men! The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!

The clichés rolled off out of FGSO’s soon-to-be-frothing mouth. I thought, oh, this is great – a gun nut is going into rhetorical seizure mode, he’s likely packing some serious heat, and here is little ole moiself holding the unarmed “piece.”

Just for a moment, I thought to tell FGSO of the small but ultimately significant bridge he could be building…the opportunity he was missing – to show a non-gun owner that not all gun folk were irrational, hot-tempered zealots. Instead, I laid the pistol on the counter and thanked him for his time. He continued to spout slogans at my back as I slowly headed for the exit, shaking my head with can-you-believe-this? wistfulness.

I left the store, and left FGSO with the impression he’d likely/already held – that people who don’t own guns are fearful, naive do-gooders. In turn, he had done his best to reinforce my own stereotype of the wild-eyed, paranoid, slavering, gun nut. Not exactly an outstanding moment in the history of cultural diplomacy.

 

 

gunworld

*   *   *

May you speak your piece without fear;
May you work for peace without regret;
May you watch out for who’s packing a piece;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yeah, so you got ahead of me, and then stayed just ahead of me for another five miles, making me wonder what was the point to your machinations, which got you to your destination …what, twenty feet/two seconds earlier than had you not cut me off?

[2] A birthday present which was confiscated by his parents when they realized he was letting other kids fire the gun without adult supervision.

[3] And Possible Romantic Interest At The Time.

[4] And who spoke highly of what he saw as the ideals espoused in that iconic Robert Redford film.

[5] I can only assume FLB was playing a joke on me, and thought he’d amuse his brother by having his brother’s potential girlfriend mishandle a firearm – and who doesn’t enjoy seeing that?

[6] The one I heretofore privately thought of as my blonde smile. All appropriate apologies to you melanin-deficient ladies and gents.

The Slough I’m Not Kayaking

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Department Of Not To Be Disrespectful Toward
Our Brave Men And Women In Uniform ®

… but every time I walk past The Tacoma Fallen Firefighters Memorial I imagine that the second guy in the sculpture – the one tapping the first guy (pointing the hose) on the shoulder, is calmly but insistently saying, “Dude, put down the hose – nothing’s on fire.”

 

 

tacomafirefighters

*   *   *

 

I had yet another opportunity to pass by the above pictured sculpture during MH’s and my last minute/last weekend trip to Tacoma. Because when your 20 year old daughter hints and hints and hints again that she’d like to see you, you drop everything and go.

In late August Belle will start her junior year at the University of Puget Sound. She’s staying in Tacoma for the summer, working fulltime as a Zoo Camp Counselor at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  We’ve enjoyed hearing her talk about the camps, and comparing them with her stories from last summer, when she was a camp counselor for the Oregon Zoo. [1]

When we drove up last Saturday, Belle said she wanted to show us around the zoo. We’ve been to the PDZ & A several times over the past few years when visiting our offspring.  [2]  This time we got a brief “backstage” tour, courtesy of Belle, which consisted of being able to step inside one staff-only area:  the marine wildlife food preparation facility, which included a huge, walk-in freezer filled floor-to-ceiling with cases of various fish and shellfish (read: more frozen herring [3] than you can shake a walrus’s tusk at).

As a five year Oregon Zoo volunteer, a biology major, and a volunteer docent at her school’s Natural History Museum, Belle has amassed a good deal of information about fauna and flora. Still, as our daughter led us from exhibit to exhibit, MH and I were impressed by how much she knew about the animals in every habitat . [4]  I guess that’s what happens when you’re leading two camps per day, five days a week – you have to know your stuff.

And then there are the moments you just have to strut your stuff, as when Belle eagerly donned my Convertible Survival Kit ®  [5] when MH and I took her for a spin around town.

 

 

sadieconvertible7-16tacoma

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Screw The Slough

Because his company is weird that way, MH had July 5 off as a vacation day.  [6]  What shall we do, he asked? I suggested we take our kayaks out for the first paddle of the season. I wanted to try out one of the entry points along the Columbia River Slough, and so, with our Paddler’s Access Guide in hand we loaded up the car, drove to what looked to be the optimum entry point…and then on to the next, and the next, and the next….

The first entry point was strewn with trash and had other signs of being used as a homeless camping/partying area. It was devoid of bipedal presence save for one Sketchy Looking Man ® sitting on a bench by the camp/party area. We parked our vehicle and walked down to the slough’s boat dock, SLM watching us every step of the way.

The slough was…well, we knew it was a slough, but it was really in full slough mode (low water depth and tepid-to-nonexistent flow). Probably good for winter and spring paddling, but already too late in the season, at this particular entry point (~ 17 miles upstream), for a decent paddle. That, plus the area’s vibe, which was if you-leave-your-car-you-will-return-to-find-it-broken-into, led us into checking out other slough access points downstream.

 

 

columbiaslough_general

 

By the time we’d reached access point four or five MH said, “I suppose we can look at this as a scouting excursion for future trips.” As time went on it became imperative, first for MH and then also moiself, for us to find something resembling a bathroom.  Ninety minutes after we’d arrived at the first access point and were still not in the water, I said “Screw the slough.” I knew there were pit stop facilities at Smith and Bybee Lakes Wetlands, so we ditched the last slough entry point [7] and headed there.

I’d been kayaking at Smith & Bybee several times, including once with MH. I’d give it a solid 3 on the 1 – 10 whoopee scale; I wanted to try somewhere new, but our plans hadn’t worked out and it was getting late, so what the heck. After The Pause That Refreshes © we checked out the canoe launch ramp.  Ay yi yi. I’d never seen the water level so low. How dare they call it Smith and Bybee Lakes?

 

 

yeahright

 

 

We hiked around the S & B Lake wetlands for an hour before returning to our car and heading off to find lunch. At least the birds seemed happy with the conditions in the boggy-wetlands-which-no-self-respecting-limnologist-would-call-a-lake – we saw an astounding number of Great Egrets wading about in the muck.

It turned out to be a good, low key day, capped off by a delightful evening at downtown Hillsboro’s Tuesday Marketplace. MH and I got dinner and a bottle of wine from the various food venders, found a spot on the courthouse lawn which was close enough to see the music stage but far enough away to be safe from the blaring amps and pissing pugs, [8] and staked our claim with folding chairs.

 

I really wish I could say I was joking about this.

I really wish I was joking about this.

 

 

It was a perfect evening for being outside – that temperature where you don’t know where your skin ends and the air begins. We enjoyed listening to the classic and original rock provided by Hippie Love Slave, a band that, besides having an awesome name, has a guitarist/singer whose vocal stylings reminded me of Grace Slick. I encountered said vocalist between sets, and shared my opinion with her. She took it as the compliment I intended, and then I complemented us both on being old and wise enough to understand.

 

 

 

 

Whaddya mean, old enough to understand?

Whaddya mean, old enough to understand?

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Be Happy To Explain It To You

In the wake/midst of the Thunderswampfuckton of Crap ® that our country is experiencing (and will, no doubt ,keep on slogging through), in particular the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge followed by the allegedly retaliatory shootings in Dallas, I’ve been hearing and reading about (what I take to be) a misunderstanding of the activist movement known as Black Lives Matter.

 

 

SOAPBOX

 

 

The very phrase or concept itself seems to be, IMHO, misconstrued. So, attention, critics – be you well-intended or closeted/overt racists – I’m about to clear it up for y’all.

It’s like this: You don’t walk into an Nike footwear store and criticize them for not carrying dress shoes.

But what about the Florsheims!

 

 

Wingtips Matter

Wingtips Matter

 

 

I’ll try again.

My city has a veterinary clinic named All About Cats . The clinic’s founding veterinarian had a multiple animal practice (dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, birds) for over two decades; now he has one specializing in felines. One of the reasons he got the idea of establishing a felines-only clinic was his observation, during his years of practice, that cats were more stressed in a vet clinic by the smell and presence of dogs than vice-versa.

When I first saw the clinic’s sign I did not feel obligated to point out to the clinic’s staff, “I appreciate your intentions, but, All About Cats – life is not all about cats!” But I do know someone who, when they were informed that there was a new veterinary clinic in town that sees only cats, had that kind of reaction:

Oh, yeah, well, what about dogs?
What about budgies, and hamsters – other pets need veterinary care, too!”

All About Cats does not equal And other animals don’t need/aren’t worthy of veterinary care. Establishing a feline-only clinic does not mean you dismiss or dislike other animals. It merely denotes a special area of concern or concentration, for which there is a reason.

Black Lives Matter is a special interest civil rights/activist group. It exists because…well, because there are, unfortunately, fucking good and sad/pathetic reasons for it to exist. Including the fact that when my son K told me, many months ago, about being pulled over by a cop because K’s car had a non-functioning tail light, I had the privilege to not think that K might have been in danger.

I’d had The Talk with both of my offspring about how to behave if, while driving, they were ever pulled over by a cop. Still, it never occurred to me to ask K if he’d been overly respectful to the police officer no matter how the officer had treated him; it did not occur to me to ask/remind K if he’d remembered to move very slowly, always keeping his hands in sight, when the officer asked him to product his license and registration….

 

 

 

privelegejpg

 

 

*   *   *

May you have the privilege of assuming your children will be safe;
May you be able to enjoy the moments that arise and screw the slough when called for;
May you stop and smell the roses (or the frozen herring – whatever is handy);
..and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What the stories have in common: she remains mystified by the immaturity and moodiness of the younger kids (in particular, five year old boys), who “…don’t listen to what you say and have a meltdown when they spill a cup of water.”

[2] K, Belle’s brother, also attended UPS.

[3] And herring doesn’t smell any better the colder it is.

[4] Including their names. I mean, two gorgeous tigers lying side by side (“The one on the right is Kirani and the other is her sister, Dari”), they looked identical, to me.

[5] Which I keep in our new car, for those top down moments. The kit consists of a choice of three Glamorous Sunglasses ® , a scarf, and a tube of bright red lipstick to complete the ensemble.

[6] Other holidays which most people get as vacation days, Like MLK day or Memorial Day, he won’t.

[7] Kelly Point Park, which might be a good entry point for future kayaking on the slough but which also had signs of sketchy-ickiness and people-camping-who-shouldn’t-be (including two recently burned-out cars –  as in completely torched, parked side by side, — in the parking lot. Yet another omen).

[8] Yo, dog owners: when you bring your dogs to the various Farmer’s Markets – and you seem to think there is a city ordinance which requires you to do so – please mind where they “go.”

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