Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc. I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.” (Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress. From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….” ( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )
* * *
Someone needs to be shot for insurrection.
If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow hisbrains out  on live television. He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been hisultimate concern.
* * *
“Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”
* * *
How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,
“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”
As friend MM so succinctly put it,
“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”
* * *
What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?
“The whole world is watching.”
And they were. And we are.
* * *
Department Of Get HimOut, Now. How Can You Not?
Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment – #45is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him. Whatever it takes.
Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”
For the good of the country, he needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?
For the good of the country, his legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”
For the good of the country, we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.
For the good of the country, we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.
And, if heis allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to hispresidential pension? $219,000 a year, for the rest of hisdeplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him? 
“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”
* * *
May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need; May you-know-who finally get what hedeserves; May circumstances allow moiself to return to “regular programming” next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.
 Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.
 There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!
Here’s the description of the activity, from the brilliant  industrial engineer living in San Francisco who started it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started going on near-daily walks to help combat the monotony of being cooped up indoors all day. To spice things up a bit, I decided to plan my walking routes such that the paths I took formed letters and words. I call this activity SpellWalking. I live in San Francisco, a city favorable to SpellWalking due to the multiple intersecting gridiron street patterns to choose from.
( From the SpellWalking website Yes, it has I website; it’s a *thing,* y’all)
Check out the grid patterns – they are delightful, and mostly feature San Francisco neighborhood names.
Moiself’sfavorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.
* * *
Department Of Say What? Sub-Department Of What Is The Emoji For Your Ears Doing A Double Take? Division Of Unfortunate Government Employee Names
Dateline: Tuesday; circa 11 am; listening to the car radio while running an errand. I tuned into the Oregon Public Broadcasting channel, to the end of a story announcing the appointment of the man who will be Oregon State University’s 15th president. Current OSU president Ed Ray will step down, to be replaced by F. King Alexander.
Yep, that’s what I heard – followed by those voices coming from the radio in my own mind, speculating about what form the complaints he (the new OSU president) will receive from those who are unhappy with his leadership:
“That F** King Alexander….”
* * *
Department Of Speaking Of How My Brain Works…
I have layperson’s/”hobby” interest in neurology and neuropsychology – in how (scientists think) the brain works. In my If-I-Had-To-Do-It-All-Over-Again ® mode, I might have pursued neuroscience and/or cognitive psychology-related fields, instead of following the highly lucrative and emotionally satisfying and rewarding batshit crazy “creative” path.
But I have this one problem  when it comes to reading articles about neuroscience and behavior and basic cognition. Whenever I read about a certain part of the brain, a part located deep in the temporal lobe and most strongly associated with memory, ’tis difficult for me to get past the name of said brain region. I’ve learned that moiselfcannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, everyF. King Alexander time – comes to mind.
Here’s what happens: I picture a college campus setting – a university whose student body is comprised solely of herbivorous, semiaquatic ungulate mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. And I face that image, appreciate it, and set it aside…until I come to the part in the article which says, in essence, “Let’s explore what we know about the hippocampus…” and I am immediately transported back to that same setting, with moiselfbeing led on a campus tour by a student guide…
“And over on the left is our renowned fine arts center….”
One might think that, with the interest in/reading about this neuro-stuff (excuse the fancy-pants, science jargon) I claim to do, moiselfmight have figured out why my brain does this. Nah; not gonna go there. I suppose I enjoy it enough that the why doesn’t matter. It’s not something I would want to “fix.”
Fraternity rush season at the Hippocampus is intense.
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Department Of Not All Of The Oldies Are Goodies
Dateline: same as my first lame story highly entertaining anecdote. I switched my car’s radio from the OPB channel to KQRZ, a local station which plays music from the past (aka “oldies”), and I heard a song moiselfhadn’t thought about in years.
Wildfire was popular when I was a certain age. The song had always seemed melodically anemic to me, and I’d never paid much attention to it when it somehow got regular airplay. This time I decided to actually listen to the lyrics, and….wow.
“Is that a good wow, or a bad wow?”
Wowas in, this dull ditty was a hit song?
The song’s narrator tells the brief tale of a young woman who supposedly died during a blizzard while searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire.” The song’s narrator is in his cabin or somewhere – we don’t really know – in an early winter storm; an owl has perched outside of his window, which he takes as a sign that Ghostly Dead Girl is calling for him to join her and spend eternity riding her stupid horse lacking the horse sense to NOT run off into a blizzard pony with her.
Wowas in, there’s not much to the story, is there? It’s too insipid to be tragic.
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Department Of An Oldie Who Was One Of The Best Of The Goodies
“Mel comes over most every night. We’ll have dinner and watch “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” After dinner, we’ll watch a movie, if anything good is playing that night. We once said, “Any movie that has the line, ‘Secure the perimeter,’ you know it’s good.” (” Carl Reiner: Why Van Dyke is the best, Trump the worst and Mel Brooks is a savvy movie critic. ” USA Today, 5-1-19 )
Who is left among that generation of influential entertainers? Mel Brooks; Betty White; Norman Lear; Dick Van Dyke?
Reiner leaves behind an impressive body of work and a loving family, but here’s what makes me “grieve” the most, when I think about it: now that Carl Reiner is gone, who will Mel Brooks have dinner with?
My favorite Carl Reiner-directed movie is “All of Me,” which features wonderful work by actors Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin. Frail, condescending, wealthy socialite Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) engages the help of a guru to “transmigrate” her soul upon her death to the body of a healthy young woman. Edwina enlists lawyer Roger Cobb (Steve Martin) to change her will to leave her entire estate to the young woman. Edwina dies within minutes of signing the updated will, but via an ill-timed accident she ends up inhabiting Roger’s body, sharing it with him and controlling his body’s right side. Edwina and Roger are forced to work together to find a way to get her soul out his body, as well as to navigate mundane but essential tasks, as in this scene below, when Roger desperately needs to use the bathroom.
Enjoy…better yet, watch the entire movie, which is surprisingly sweet and sentimental despite its I-am-SO-sure premise.
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Department Of Even Harder To Comprehend Than Cosmic String Theory Is The “Success” Of Certain Attention Whores Celebrities
Carl Reiner, he of the multiple “slash” talents (comedian slash actor slash writer slash director slash producer….), was more than deserving of the fame and acclaim – and arguably, most importantly, the respect – which he received over a lifetime (his career spanned seventy-three years!), from both his audience and his show business peers.
And then, we have…oh, shit. I have to type this surname, don’t I, if I’m going to pursue this bizarre reflection? Let’s just say the name rhymes with lard-ashian.
“For F. King Alexander’s sake, just type, ‘Kardashian,’ you big baby.”
Moiself has never seen the Kardashian show. Of course, living in the culture, doing crossword puzzles, standing in line at the grocery store where there’s nothing to look at but the tabloid headlines or the ill-fitting clothing of the guy in front of me and I need to avert my eyes sideways lest they be further assaulted by the worst case of plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen…I can’t really avoid having a rudimentary knowledge of their existence.
And rudimentary will do, because there’s not much to know. They are famous, for…for what? For wanting to be famous.
Maybe there’s more to the show than that. Yeah…and maybe Chief Little Bunker-Bitch will join the Black Lives Matter movement and lead protesters in replacing statues of Robert E. Lee with gold-plated vaults containing the entire Spike Lee filmography.
I feel fully comfortable in judging this Show-That-I-Have-Not-Seen, and here is why. The Kardashians actively and openly seek celebrity, and in my opinion and that of many others who are Smarter And More Educated Than Moiself, ® that in and of itself is the sign of an unbalanced personality and bloated ego.
Kardashians and those like them pursue fame, as opposed to merely tolerating (or even grudgingly accepting) celebrity status as a by-product of something they’ve done, which is the “normal” or usual way fame attaches itself to a person.
Despite my being someone friends and family would describe as being outgoing or extroverted, fame or celebrity – being recognized by strangers – is something I have studiously avoided all my life (my former editors, pushing for me to do more publicity, might snarkily add that avoiding fame was the one aspect of my fiction writing career at which I excelled ). Thus, I am somewhat bemused and mostly appalled by those who actively seek to be in the proverbial glare of the spotlight.
Fame or celebrity comes to you, in most cases, if you do something notable and/or something which brings you to the public’s attention (e.g. in the performing arts). Not to be confused with the infamy accorded a mass murderer, you may become famous if, for example, you’ve acted in acclaimed movies. Yet, even then, the amount of fame coming your way cannot be determined by a cut and dried formula. It’s interesting to consider the variables, some having to do with the life a celeb leads, whether they actively sought the limelight outside of their professional lives or desperately tried to avoid it (and thus got more attention for that avoidance), and other factors seemingly random. Why did the paparazzi ignore a young(er) Sally Field, but pursue Angelina Jolie? (That answer seems obvious on the surface, but maybe Ms. Field had some really juicy hidden details of her life that a dedicated celebrity snoop could have unearthed). Why have talented, award-winning actors Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand not been subjected to the kind of tabloid attention that talented, award-winning actors Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence received?
However those actors may have played on it or downplayed it, their respective fame is due to actions or accomplishments on their part. Their celebrity is a consequence, not an predecessor, of their careers.
And then you have the reality TV stars – yep, I picked the low hanging fruit that is the Kardashian family – who want celebrity (but will settle for notoriety) first, before they’ve done anything to “merit” it. It’s back-asswards: once they have fame…for seeking fame…in order to keep their fame they need to figure out how to do something attention-worthy other than to be seeking attention. The LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! stage they should’ve outgrown by age eight becomes a thing in itself. You get fame and celebrity for wanting fame and celebrity, and in order to keep up the public’s interest in your fame and celebrity you must continually pursue it in extreme and tasteless ways.
But thanks to the advent of Reality TV, which has brought us our first Reality TV president, the whole concept of tasteful may have gone out the window…
* * *
Department Of See This Movie, Right Now
Unless you’re on your way to the COVID ward of the hospital.
Otherwise, at one point in your life you’ve either been a frightened yet determined 17-year-old, or you’ve known one or (hopefully) have been a compassionate and loyal friend to one, as this movie so matter-of-factly and movingly depicts.
I just found out that I’m color blind – the news came completely out of the green.
* * *
May you enjoy your own variation of a classic curse phrase ( F. King Alexander! ); May you think twice before approaching a “famous” person when they are not in the process of actively seeking fame; May your sense of propriety pass The Tasteful Lady‘s scrutiny; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.
 Yes, those who know me well might interject here that moiself has a lot more than just one problem… but how’s about if y’all control your intrusive thoughts on the matter and we can get back to the subject?
Another Fact Abscess Feminist Ruins A Family Outing Enlightens A Grateful Grandpa
My offspring, K and Belle, successfully fledged several years ago. When they were young (ages 1-5), their respective daycare/preschool teachers knew that, rain or shine, they wouldn’t be in class on Wednesdays, as that was our zoo/museum outing day. Nine out of ten times, we’d go to the Oregon Zoo.
Those zoo trips were before the massive, community bond-supported revamping, updating, and expansion of the zoo and its animal habitats. There weren’t many visitors then – particularly on windy/rainy days, which were our favorites, because it often seemed if we had the zoo all to ourselves.  Several of the zookeepers got to recognize us, and we them. The staff were impressed and amused by K’s and Belle’s flourishing interest in animals and wildlife conservation and liked that we always greeted the keepers by name and asked (or tried to ask) interesting questions about the animals.
That the zookeepers took the time to speak with us (often quite extensively, and when it was obvious they had *real* work to do) is one of several factors moiselfcredits for both K and Belle going on to be in the Zoo Teens program while in high school and then majoring in the Biological Sciences in college.
I’d also like to think that I “modeled” or that K and Belle inherited (nature? nurture?) that interest from me. Moiselfwas quite the animal nerd growing up, particularly in grade school. My parents recognized and encouraged that interest, and for years I always received at least one nature-themed/animal facts book for my birthday and Christmas presents. Thus, informed and armed, I was able to spoil the fun of many a prepubescent boy – who was trying to be naughty by teasing his female classmates about this AMAZING animal he’d come across – by explaining that a titmouse was in fact *not* a well-endowed rodent, but a petite North American songbird.
As always, I digress.
One of my interests at the zoo was not only watching my kids watch the animals, but watching the other zoo visitors. In that older version of the zoo, near the Penguin House, there was a habitat wherein dwelt a solitary, enormous, beautiful, Alaskan Brown bear named Marcia (Marsha? Or Martha? Don’t know the spelling; her name was not on the information card on the habitat; we’d learned about her from the zookeepers  ).
On days when there were many other zoo visitors and we stopped by Marcia’s habitat, inevitably – I mean, without fail – other adults would “mis-identify” the bear. Always the male visitors (and also quite a few of the females) would remark, to themselves or to the kids who were with them, something along the lines of,
“Wow, get a load of that bear, he’s so big! Look at his paws…”
I would then take the opportunity to say, “Actually, her name is Marcia.” My comment/correction would oftentimes lead to brief but interesting, personal-connection type conversations about the zoo and the animals, and sometimes my kids and I would learn something new, from a visitor who had talked with a zookeeper at another exhibit and had an interesting animal fact/behavior tidbit to share. If the person seemed receptive, I would sneak in a factoid about how a zookeeper told me that the majority of the zoo’s resident animals were female…and how another zookeeper, and more than one biologist I’d met, told me that the majority of the world’s biomass is female but that an individual animal’s gender is usually misidentified by non-biologists when they use a pronoun other than “it” to refer to the animal. For example, if you espy a wild animal when you’re out and about – say, a garter snake when you’re hiking the Wildwood trail in Forest Park – it is most likely a “she snake,” even though you or your hiking companion(s) will probably call it, or think of it as, a “he.”
With two exceptions moiselfcan recall, these interactions at Marcia’s habitat were always positive (which is why I kept engaging in them). In exception #2, an older dude got his grandpa tighty-whities in a knot when I spoke up after he’d pointed out the bear to (what I assumed were) his two grandkids, as well as to moiself and my two kids, and exclaimed, “Look at that HUGE bear – can you guess how strong he is?”
“She sure is something – she’s one of our favorite animals at the zoo!” I cheerfully chirped. “And, actually, her name is Marcia.”
The man’s face slowly but surely morphed into Grumpy Old Man, get-offa-my-lawn! territory, as his granddaughter waved to the bear and called out, “Marcia – she’s Marcia! Hi, Marcia!”
“Why does that matter?” he said to me.
“What do you mean?”I asked, not knowing if the “matter” he was wondering about was the bear’s name or its sex.
“Why does it matter?” he repeated, now looking full-blown irritated, as if he thought I were trying to show him up in front of his grandkids (neither of whom were paying any attention to the adults, but were standing with my kids, waving to the bear). “Does it matter if it’s a he or a she?”
Moiself donned my best, well-practiced, kill him with kindness visage, raised my voice to a perky, non-threatening octave above my usual tone, and delivered my reply with bared teeth pretending to be a smile a friendly grin:
“Well, obviously it does, or you wouldn’t object to being corrected about a simple fact.”
He muttered under his breath and herded his grandkids away from the exhibit. The little girl turned back and called out, “Marcia! Marcia! Bye, Marcia!”
* * *
Department Of Telling Grandpa Why It Matters
If Grumpy Gramps had stuck around and showed an ounce of amiable interest in the subject, I might have told him that I also would have offered a corrective comment had he misidentified the bear’s species, or its coloration or predation habits or dietary needs (“Look at that black bear/purple grizzly bear/orange sun bear – you know, in the wild, polar bears climb trees to hunt penguins….”), or any other basic fact about it. An animal’s sex or gender  is just another one of those basic facts.
The most obvious “proof” as to how important this is, Gramps, is that when I pointed out this particular, simple, factual error, did you notice how many of your feathers got ruffled?
I have taken it upon moiselfto be a “Squirt Gun Ambassador” re the natural world, hoping to incorporate the playfulness/good humor that this childhood summer toy brings to mind, when dealing with this particular issue, which is of importance TO THE ENTIRE WORLD (whether the entire world realizes it or not).
The SQUIRT gun issue to which I refer is my Sex Question Identification Reparations Therapy ® crusade, regarding peoples’ tendency to apply male pronouns to all animals they see, unless the animal is obviously female (e.g., nursing its young). I go the other direction, and use “she” instead of “it” (which I used to always do, and which I’ll get back to doing some day, when people stop defaulting to using “he”) to refer to an animal whose gender is unknown. My crusade is somewhat analogous to, and in part inspired by, actor Geena Davis’ campaign on gender inequity in entertainment media.
Media is one of the most important factors influencing our values. Women and girls are 51% of the population, but entertainment media is bereft of female characters, with a ratio of approximately 3:1 male characters to female characters since the 1940s. (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media )
……When her…daughter was a toddler, and (Davis) started watching movies with her, she realised how woeful the depictions of women in family movies really were. She was particularly struck by just how few speaking characters in these films were female. She took this point to industry colleagues, but most denied it. Well-meaning and sincere, they couldn’t see a problem. Davis pressed on – she wanted to see the numbers….she sponsored the largest study carried out on gender depictions in family-rated films and children’s television…and found that for every female speaking-character, there were 2.5 or three male characters – a figure unchanged since 1946. Furthermore, the vast majority of those female characters were stereotypical or highly sexualised, with ambitions largely related to romance. Even crowd scenes were only made up of 17% women….
Hollywood thinks women just don’t like to “gather,” or flee from monsters….
“What if we are inculcating generation after generation to believe that low representation of women is the norm?” (Davis) asked her audience. So her institute commissioned more research: this time, a global study of gender in film in the 10 biggest film markets in the world. The findings were “bleak”: of those characters seen to be holding a job, 77.5% were male and 22.5% were female. Women in leadership and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM fields were dramatically underrepresented in film, she said, and of the 127 characters that held political office, only 12 were women. This lack of onscreen depiction contributes to symbolic annihilation, Davis said, by which those that don’t see themselves reflected on screen believe they are unimportant. She quoted damning statistics that show the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.
Can we agree to get rid of those dreadful feminizing/diminishing suffixes appended to people, animals, and professions?
If you come to a party at my house, I am your host, not your hostess.
And I won’t be serving these, BTW.
Your doctor, if she is a woman, is your doctor, not your doctress. Lions are male and female; there is no need for “lioness” as an identifier. If you name your Aunt Erva in your will as the person who will manage your estate, she should be called your executor, not your executrix.
Still with me, Grumpy Gramps? Since you asked it’s important, to know the animal’s correct gender because girls need to know that what is female is present, in the world, everywhere. Girls often grow up into women who lack the confidence to move through the world as easily and powerfully as men do, because they don’t think that the world belongs to them. Unintentionally and sometimes deliberately, girls get presented with skewed perceptions of their “place” – even of simply how many of them there are  – in the world. In the images and examples girls *and* boys are shown, the default for everything is male, especially if the thing in question is perceived as being big and powerful.
It’s important because a person will want to care for the world and that which is in the world, to seek education and take action – from studying to be a geologist to learning to do their own basic auto maintenance and repairs – if they think these things are truly and equally theirs. If it belongs to you, then you feel a sense of responsibility for it. Despite the progress made in the past few decades, girls (and boys) still look at the world, at the images and descriptions presented to them, and see it as primarily belonging to, and inhabited and ruled by, boys and men.
* * *
Department Of Remember That Which Will Eventually Kill Those Of Us Who Survive The Rest Of This Ca-Ca?
Global warming/climate change – the human-induced warming of the planet – has been getting our attention span short shrift these days, what with the pandemic, poor policing of POC and other parts of the panoply of poop parading past. 
After my pitch for gender label inclusivity, I’ve not much energy left for another harangue.
I’ll leave y’all with this analogy on the subject. At many a dinner party discussion, I’ve listened while friends have lamented the conundrum of how and why otherwise rational-seeming people can ignore the evidence of climate change and/or that some “aware” people tacitly admit that the evidence is real, but find ways to avoid thinking about it and/or don’t want to act on this evidence because they view any such actions as impeding their current lifestyle, or that they believe that individuals cannot make any significant changes to the problem.
I’ve had to bite my tongue when well-meaning people whom I admire and even love have sincerely claimed not to understand such willful ignorance…because they do the same thing, with regards to the same issue. They are all willing and enthusiastic participators in the environment-razing, carnivore fodder industry.
They all eat (factory-farm grown and processed) meat.
I’ve decided to be silent no more. I will try my Girl Scout Best  to *not* be of those self-righteous scolds, but the next time someone starts with the, “How can those people ignore the evidence ?!?!?” wail I will gently point out that their lament is not only rhetorical, but disingenuous. They know, or *should* know, exactly why “those people” want to ignore the evidence of climate change because they themselves use the same rationale for ignoring the evidence on meat consumption:
* because they don’t want to alter their current way of life;
* because they don’t want to make the necessary changes, which they view as making sacrifices and being inconvenienced;
* because they just don’t want to be bothered.
Some of the most thoughtful people I know find ways not to give the problems of animal agriculture any thought, just as I find ways to avoid thinking about climate change and income inequality…. Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming…. We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism….cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.” Americans overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say that the United States should have remained in the Paris climate accord. We don’t need new information, and we don’t need new values. We only need to walk through the open door.
( “The End of Meat Is Here: If you care about the working poor, about racial justice, and about climate change, you have to stop eating animals,” Jonathan Safran Foer, NY Times 5-21-20 )
* * *
Pun For The Day
* * *
May you carefully consider which evidence you are choosing to ignore; May you remember that I’m a writer, not a writress; May you enjoy an adolescent’s misunderstanding of “titmouse;” …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I remember at least two occasions where we saw no other human beings, with the exception of the zookeepers and other zoo employees.
 And two keepers told me two different names for that bear: “Martha” and “Marcia.”
 Despite all the cute cartoons you may have seen, polar bears and penguins never interact. Polar bears are northern pole denizens while penguin species all live south of the equator. And neither of them climb trees.
 I realize these are loaded terms, used interchangeably and not always in the same manner, by humans.
 The world human population male/female ratio consistently hovers around 50-50, but you wouldn’t know that if your only statistic in this matter came from your consumption of popular media, where the male characters consistently and overwhelmingly outnumber the female.
Department Of Adventures In Maturation Sub-Department Of Better Late Than Never
Dateline: Last Saturday morning. MH and I are descending the (not-so) “secret” hillside trail in North Manzanita. He stops to take a picture of a flower, which takes several minutes; moiself continues on ahead of him. I hear fast footsteps coming from behind, step to the side of the trail, and look back to behold a man in his late 70s or so – older looking; very trim and fit – running downhill. He is wearing something like this on his chest…
…which appears to be a runner’s hydration vest – a short, lightweight vest with two symmetrical water bottle pockets in the front. Olde Running Man’s vest looks akin to the contraption the above picture, only his has water bottles on both sides, giving him  a glorious approximation of…well…of jiggling man-boobs.
As he passes by, I am ever-so tempted to say, “Nice jugs.”BUT I DIDN’T.
Yes, maturity is a life-long journey for some of us. A few years ago (say, in my late 50s), who knows what moiself would have called out.
* * *
Department Of Realities That Are Almost To Dreadful To Contemplate
“As horrific as this president is, he is a symptom of much deeper problems. Even foreign influence plays on [national] wounds that we refuse to address: income inequality, racism, corruption, a willingness to excuse bigotry,” she tweeted. “He can stay, he can go. He can be impeached, or voted out in 2020. But removing Trump will not remove the infrastructure of an entire party that embraced him; the dark money that funded him; the online radicalization that drummed his army; nor the racism he amplified and reanimated.” (From a tweet by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- NY), as reported in Newsweek)
* * *
Department Of Mystery Solved Sub-Department Of I’m Not Sure Why This Came To Mind, But It Did
So: in every photo I’ve seen of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II wherein she is making a public appearance, she is holding a pocketbook. It’s always a discreet little handbag – not festooned with the Crown Jewels or anything equally ostentatious – but, still. Why does the Queen of England – the Queen of anything – carry a purse?
I have more pressing matters to attend to, but your query is appreciated.
She doesn’t pay for anything; she has no need to carry her id and credit cards in case she wants to visit an ATM, ya know? She has attendants to see to her every need, and it’s not like the dignitaries and various heads of state she meets for tea expect her to whip out her wallet and say, “I’ve got this.”
A couple of Curious About The Inscrutable Ways Of The Universe ® friends and moiself pondered this very question, several years ago.  After applying due diligence, we came up with the only logical assumption: Pragmatic and experienced monarch that she is, QEII’s pocket book contains two items: a flask of Jack Daniels, and a six-pack of condoms.
May you carry only the essentials in your royal handbag; May you never even think of commenting on what is on an old man’s chest; May our frightening political realities inspire you to do something other than go through your cookbooks; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Psychobilly, as per Wikipedia’s explanation, is “…is a rock music fusion genre that mixes elements of rockabilly and punk rock.”
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.
Earlier this week I watched Bad Reputation, the documentary about the career of rocker Joan Jett. ‘Twas entertaining, if somewhat of a puff piece, mostly glossing over the Serious Issues ® that could have been brought up or just taking a closer look at her life and times.
Speaking of taking a closer look, I love that JJ’s still wearing her trademark Chuck Taylor high tops at “her age” (just on the other side of sixty, as am I, on both counts  ).
I’m also disappointed in another aspect of what she’s “wearing.” With all of her proto-punk, I-love-rock-n’-roll, take no prisoners/kick-ass attitude, why, since the mid 2010’s, has her face morphed into that which resembles someone’s maiden auntie doing a Cher/Joan Rivers impersonation?
I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation I’ve never been afraid of any deviation…
Apparently, the one deviation Jett fears is that of saying fuck you to the seeming mandate that females in the public eye are not allowed to age naturally. I wanted someone – a “rock journalist” or the documentary’s narrator…someone…to ask her about that. I wanted a more careful, nuanced Q & A session, which would include getting her to address this conundrum: one of rock n’ roll music’s most defining elements has been its take your status quo/expectations and shove it attitude, so why has Jett, a quintessential rock n’ roller, felt the need to have all the cosmetic “work” done on her face, including the obvious injections of a paralytic neurotoxin to mask evidence that she’s ever reacted to a “Three priests and two rabbis walk into a bar….” joke? 
Isn’t that silly – that moiself could, maybe, even for a moment, imagine that happening?
Probably also silly is me thinking a rock musician, particularly an LGBTQ one, as Jett is, should be more immune to societal expectations re women and aging.
The pressures on women re appearance have always been more intense, but there are male rockers who’ve also succumbed to the lure of the Frozen Face Fairy. Thus, in fairness, my Fantasy Inquisitive Rock Journalist ® must pose similar questions to Steven Tyler; Paul Stanley; Vince Neil, Rick Springfield, Ozzie Osbourne, Gene Simmons…. 
Botox, schmotox, mate! It’s me special bat-head collagen diet!
* * *
Department Of While I’m On That Subject….Something To Look Forward To
“In interviews, the first question I get in America is always: ‘What do you do to stay young?’ I do nothing. I don’t think aging is a problem…. Yes, my face has wrinkles. But I don’t find it monstrous. I’m so surprised that the emphasis on aging here is on physical decay, when aging brings such incredible freedom. (Isabella Rossellini)
Moiself is usually suspicious of articles with titles like this one: The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s (NY Times 1-12-19) by clinical psychologist Mary Pipher. Nonetheless, when I saw the headline in my Tuesday morning newsfeed, its opening paragraphs caught my attention. Truer words have rarely been published (my emphases):
When I told my friends I was writing a book on older women like us, they immediately protested, “I am not old.” What they meant was that they didn’t act or feel like the cultural stereotypes of women their age. Old meant bossy, useless, unhappy and in the way. Our country’s ideas about old women are so toxic that almost no one, no matter her age, will admit she is old. In America, ageism is a bigger problem for women than aging.
* * *
* * *
Department Of Random Thoughts While Hiking On The Cape Falcon Trail Last Saturday
When I am on a trail and hikers coming toward me (going uptrail as I am going downtrail, or vice-versa) pass by, certain hikers seem to be encased in an invisible “aroma bubble.” That is, there will be a faint but discernible and (almost always) pleasant fragrance which wafts across the trail in their wake.
Most fellow hikers just pass by (sometimes exchanging greetings) – other than hearing and/or feeling the vibration of their footsteps, if I were blind I would not be able to detect them. And yes, If I were blind I would still be hiking, with the support and guidance of my Guide Hamster.
Yet again, I digress.
Back to those fragrant females – did I mention that those tangy trekkers, whether solo or in a group, are always female and usually younger (as in, younger than moiself)?
It is not the smell of sunscreen which they emit; the scent is lightly floral or sometimes citrus-y, and causes me to wonder what kind of lotion/cream/deodorant/perfume they are wearing…or perhaps is it the residue of their shampoo and/or conditioner? Then, just for a moment, I wonder what if any “fragrance” they detect from moiself as they pass by.
* * *
Department Of Picking Your Battles
I have previously mentionedin this space my friend, political/activist blogger who writes under the pseudonym, Spocko. If you are interested in what I call Cognitive Behavior Therapy In The Form Of Rational Activism ® – i.e., not just identifying and ranting about what’s wrong, but researching how things work and applying effective solutions – then Spocko’s Brain is the blog for you.
Watching the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race start on MSNBC makes me weary. Friends tell me they dread it. One said, “Spocko, my brain will explode if we go through another campaign season like 2016!” As someone who has had his brain removed I am strongly against brains exploding, especially ones on our side. So, how can you stop friends fighting and brains exploding? Here is what I’m going to do: Every time I see an online debate about Warren, Beto, Biden, Harris, Sanders or any possible Democratic presidential nominee I will stop and ask myself: “What can I do stop the criminality of Republicans? What can I do to expose the anti-democratic institutions and organization they run? How can I de-fund and defeat the people and groups that made Trump, McConnell and Ryan possible?”
Check out Spocko’s Brain, sez moiself, for sound and sanity-preserving strategies.
Also, follow MH’s example and work for changes in our electoral system so that we never have another tragedy like that with which we are currently afflicted (the loser of the popular vote is “chosen” as President, due to our antediluvian Electoral College mess). How can you work to see that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election? You do know about the National Popular Vote bill (already enacted by 12 states and jurisdictions), don’t you? If not, educate yourself (it won’t take long, as it is a simple concept) on what will insure that the person who actually wins the presidential election gets to be president, and lobby your state representatives to enact it. 
* * *
Department Of Time Out For A Personal Message
A Close Personal Friend ® of mine says Happy 26th birthday to my nephew, KMV!
* * *
Department Of Some Speculations Are Deeper Than Others
While hiking with MH on Oregon Coast’s Cape Falcon Trail and apropos of nothing, I began to wonder  about etiquette involving a (improbable, but not absolutely out of the question) dinner party scenario.
Setting: MH and I are hosting several new acquaintances for appetizers and drinks. These guests are known to us as being in “open” relationships (read: they each have multiple romantic partners). As I pass the basket of wheat thins around the table, would it be un-PC of me to ask,
Poly want a cracker?
* * *
May you practice sound and sanity-preserving strategies in the face of the political seasons to come; May you remember to fight ageism and not aging; May you continue to find unique ways to pass the crackers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 That is, I’m on the other side of sixty and still wearing Converse.
 Aka the Botox treatments…but y’all probably figured that out, right?
 Just Google their before and after pictures. Yikes.
 While it may seem piece meal, to have to do this state by state, it is actually more feasible than the cumbersome process of amending the Constitution of the USA.
Dateline: January 1: MH and I did a First Day Hike. Never heard of the FDH program? Put it on your calendar for 2020. A lovely way to start the New Year:
On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors…. (from the “First Day Hikes” website)
We signed up for the Elk Flats Trail hike, in Oswald West State Park. We hiked on a frozen mud trail down down to the Devil’s Cauldron overlook where, on behalf of himself and his fellow rangers, our guide, Ranger “Jeff,” respectfully requested that we stay on the designated trails and not fall into the Devil’s Cauldron – which has happened before, most recently last year (and body retrieval is not one of Ranger Jeff’s favorite duties.). We then backtracked to the main Elk Flats trail which eventually led down to Short Sands Beach, where we got to see many more surfers than I’d anticipated, given the weather (sunny, but brrrrrrrrr). The surfers were doing their own First Day Surf event, or so I liked to presume.
Ranger Jeff met MH, moiself, and ten other First Day hikers at the trailhead just before 8 am. It was very brisk, and as we waited for the departure time I was teasing Ranger Jeff about his (seeming) lack of preparation: The temp is just above freezing; where was his hat?! Where were his gloves?! Ranger Jeff showed me his gloves and then his hat, which he had with him but had not yet donned. When he’d decided to wait no longer for stragglers (33 people had signed up for the hike; 12 of us showed up), he began fiddling with the Oregon State Park badge which was pinned to the front of his hat, just above the brim. He told the hikers gathered around him that a fellow ranger had told him to “Move the badge higher on the hat, because it makes you look dorky.”
The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them: 
“Do you think just moving the badge is enough?”
I wonder, did the surfers get a pin?
* * *
Department Of It Seems To Be A Thing
People announcing (on Facebook of course) that they are quitting Facebook, that is.
Perhaps it is a New Year’s Resolution of sorts, for some folks. Reasons given include personal schedule management issues (aka, “the time suck”) but mostly seem to involve the Cambridge Analytical scandal and concerns about the way FB handles one’s (supposedly) private data, and also/primarily FB’s complicity in fake ads and other political manipulations by Trump supporters.
All of which I most certainly understand. Moiself has also been… disturbed, to put it mildly, by the privacy breaches, political scandals, ad nauseum. So far, the people (I know of) who have either announced their intention to quit FB (and/or other forms of social media) or who have already done so are all intelligent, empathetic, socially aware and generally Working-To-Make-The-World-A-Better-Place ® kind of folks. Which gets me to wondering….
Nyet, is never good thing, when dis comrade wonders.
Fucking Russian blog hackers.
Um…yeah. As I was wondering: what will that mean, for Facebook and its ilk, if those kind of people all (or mostly…eventually) leave? What will be left – the voices of Orwellian nightmares (“War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength”) exchanging such “dialogue” with one another?
Will Facebook become another Fox “News”, where the fact that people who have intelligence/rational thinking/social awareness/compassion quotients larger than their shoe sizes generally boycott Fox News doesn’t matter to those who listen to Fox News, and thus Fox News listeners receive little input outside of that venue, and the Voices of Sanity have little influence re Fox News content and procedures?
I don’t have an answer here. Just another thing to wonder about in the new year.
* * *
Department Of Yet Another New Year’s Day Thing
As I have noted several timesbefore in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  to the tradition which told them that, by eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, you assure good luck in the year to come.
This year I made a kinda-curried Hoppin’ John variation. I found moiself wishing I could invite The Ramones over to sample my version, which I was certain they would enjoy,  because as any Ramones fan knows,
There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’…
Make that, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from eatin’ their hoppin’ (John).
* * *
Department Of Cranial Effluence  Which Should’ve Stayed In 2018
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he alive, or be he dead I’ll grind his bones to make my bread. 
Hold on to that bone-grinder, kiddies: dead is a perfect rhyme for bread, but “fum” does not rhyme with “man.” Why isn’t it, English–bum, or mum or rum or…a word appropriate for a mere mortal who is stupid enough to mess with a giant:
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishdum-dum….
I know; none of this matters. But why, when a noise awakens me at 3 am,  is this question regarding a fairy tale rhyme fail on my mind? ‘Tis hardly a matter of international, national, local, or even personal security, although it seemed compelling at the time.
As per an earlier warningpost, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?
Yes, this is a trick question. Alert readers may note that this is the same Partridge as last week. In respect to the one Partridge player who has passed from this mortal realm,  I thought he deserved a repeat week of hanging on our pear tree until we take down the rest of the Yule decorations.
* * *
May you never lose sleep over a fairy tale rhyme fail; May you appreciate our dedicated and cute (and neverdorky) state and federal rangers; May you rest assured that in the coming year, as luck may come and go, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’… …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 To my chagrin, but to the obvious delight of my fellow hikers and, fortunately (for moiself), Ranger Jeff.
 They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good luck meal thing failed, year after year.
 Three of the original four Ramones are dead, but for the purposes of this fantasy…just bear with me.
By next Tuesday – Election Day – we’ll find out if all this talk, outrage, Facebook posting and parade attending has translated into voting action. If all the hoopla turns out to be so much virtue signaling,moiself is going to be looking for asses to kick.
Y’all likely have encountered someone who practices virtue signaling, even if the term is unfamiliar to you. One example of a virtue signaler is the guy who wants to be seen as “an environmentalist” more than he actually wants to consider the impact of his lifestyle on his environment:
His image: “You know how I admire my co-worker, Mr. Forrest Greene – he’s always advocating for sustainability and environmental issues! And now he’s selling his downtown condo and buying land upon which he will build a tiny house – he’s downsizing to live in the country!”
His reality: If Mr. Green was truly advocating for sustainability he wouldn’t change his lifestyle to leave a much larger carbon footprint than that which he currently produces as an urbanite. He is developing previously undeveloped land, for one. And he’s neither quitting his job nor getting rid of his car, but by moving “to the country® ” he’s tripled his commute time and distance. Is he, somehow, on his land, going to be able to raise/produce all of his food and clothing material (and toilet paper and other household goods?). Of course not, so he’s going to have to drive much farther and more often to get the essentials. When he lived in the city he mostly used public transportation to commute to work, and also for work, errands, and entertainment…and he could walk to many stores, cafes, theaters and nightclubs and…
After the nightmarish 2016 election, Portland had several nights of demonstrations.  I remember my shock-quickly-morphing-into-disgust when some of the demonstrators, many of whom were seemingly passionate and articulate people, were interviewed by TV news crews: when these demonstrators were asked re whom/what they supported in the election, they said that they had not voted.
The streets of downtown Portland have swelled with protesters each night since Donald Trump won the presidential election on Tuesday, and on occasion the protests have turned violent….a review of state election records by a local news station shows that more than a third of those arrested didn’t even vote.
(“A Third of Anti-Trump Protestors Arrested
in Portland Didn’t Vote,” NY magazine, 11-15-16)
If I hear you complain about the state of our government, then find out you didn’t vote….
* * *
Department Of It Pays To Get Distracted
Dateline: last week, during the previously mentioned trip to Arkansas. MH and moiself are hiking the Devil’s Den State Park cave trail, which takes hikers past really cool caves you can no longer explore.  I am in the lead, about 50 feet ahead of MH, who has stopped for a photo op. I think I see something off of a side trail leading to a creek, and decide to investigate…and am very glad I did. I call out to MH and he joins me in admiring (and adding to) The Mysterious Land O’ Cairns ®.
haram(adjective) ha·ram | \hä-ˈräm: forbidden by Islamic law
News flash: as you may have heard, a notorious Islamist country took a teensiest baby step a bold leap into the 15th century by granting its female citizen a modicum of independence . Even so, the decision by Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive was apparently too much for at least one slavering fanatic pious Saudi cleric, who tweeted  this helpful explanation of why it is sinful for women to drive:
“When a woman is driving, she’s exposed to vibrations, this shakes her vagina, she will feel sexual euphoria and this is haram.”
During our previously mentioned trip to Arkansas MH and I stayed I overnight in a cabin in the also previously mentioned Devil’s Den State Park. After enjoying some adult snuggle time during the evening, MH felt compelled to share the following tender sentiment with me the next morning:
“So, in a horror movie, when the two teenagers have sex in the cabin in the woods, that’s when the slasher/killer gets them.”
Now where did those two lovebirds go?
* * *
The Halloween Costumes I’m Not Wearing
Halloween, what was once one of my childhood favorite holidays, has fallen by the wayside, so to cliché-speak, in my adult years. I still enjoy thinking up costume ideas but often go no further than the brainstorm, because, Life. 
This week the Trick or Treat day fell on my yoga class day; I wanted to do something to celebrate both, but after having just returned from the (previously to the nth degree mentioned) Arkansas trip I’d neither the time nor the energy to put in much effort.
I considered hitting the streets as Hell’s Yoga Teacher: wearing an uber yoga outfit, accessorized by a devil’s tail and pointy ears and carrying a rolled up yoga mat and wielding a pitchfork, I would accost strangers on the street and correct their posture:
(“Tuck your pelvis; shoulders back; lift the crown of your head; remember to breathe…now, give me 160 Sun Salutations….)
Instead, I made a last minute trip to a Halloween Costume shop, where I purchased a couple of “props” for my yoga teacher:
Keeping in mind the forbearance and good humor of both the teacher and my classmates, I also purchased a lame bear mask, which I wore to class. I appreciated that most of my fellow students—who are old enough (ahem) to get the reference, eventually guessed that I was Yogi Bear .
* * *
May you vote as if your country depended on it (and not make moiself want to slap you); May you savor forbidden vibrations; May you enjoy what magical sights may be found by going off the main trail; …and may the hijinks ensue.
MH and I are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner tonight. I was going to use a certain Adult Beverage ® as part of the glaze for the salmon I’ll be roasting; however, one of our guests has celiac disease and I wanted to make sure that by doing so I wouldn’t be poisoning him. I started to Google “can celiacs have…” and before I typed the e in have, the third choice that came up was my question: can celiacs have whiskey. 
* * *
About those snakes….
The first time I encountered the St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Irelandlegend was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (read: the Santa Ana neighborhood of my grade school years). One Sunday afternoon in mid-March, a neighbor boy showed me the Sunday School pamphlet he’d brought home from his Catholic church. When I laughed derisively and pooh-poohed the pamphlet – which presented the legend as fact – my friend retorted with the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland, and there are snakes in every other country on earth…So how did that happen, Miss Non-Catholic smartypants? How did that happen – prove it, huh? Huh? Huh?
My neighbor/friend looked for any opportunity to witness his family’s “one true faith” (Catholicism) to the ultimately doomed moiself, whose family attended a Lutheran church. He was an otherwise very nice boy (his proselytizing phase lasted only a few months in grade school), with whom I enjoyed playing games of cards and tag and turning our bicycles upside down and pretending their wheels were steamboat paddle-wheels. Also, we enjoyed having spirited discussion of adult issues, like politics (hey, it was the 60s) and religion.
When it came to the “miracles” of that carpetbagging harasser of pagans and druids St. P, I immediately and instinctively understood that my friend had his head up his ass  – I mean of course, I knew that my friend was mistaken in claiming that I was the one who had to prove that St. Patrick had not done something – the burden of proof weighs upon the person making an assertion. But I was all of seven or eight; concepts like epistemological fallacy did not just roll off my tongue…whereas concepts like stupid dumb-ass were familiar and handy, and I probably applied one or two of them to my friend and/or his argument.
Wearer of Big Girl Pants® that I now am, I know that there are no snakes presently living in Ireland because, herpetologists and their pets aside, there have never been any snakes living in Ireland. Because: Science. As in latitude, and weather.
This M*****f****** snake thinks this plane is headed for Ireland!
There is no evidence of snakes in Ireland’s fossil record. Snakes couldn’t get to the island nation because the climate wasn’t (and isn’t) favorable for them to migrate and then thrive there. 
Faith and begorrah, but England ’tis an island, and it has snakes! Yes, but only three species, and snakes only slithered over to England in relatively recent geologic time – about 6,500 years ago.
As we all remember from 2nd grade science class (or Sesame Street), over time, all plants and animals will migrate through and/or colonize suitable habitats. Cold-blooded reptiles need heat from their environment to survive, and The Ice Age made the European islands incompatible with reptile migration until ~ 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating. The glacial retreat gradually exposed a land bridge between Europe and the island of Britain, and also between the isles of Britain and Ireland. Melting glaciers inundated Ireland’s land bridge ~ 8,500 years ago, but the land bridge between Europe and Britain’s persisted another 2,000 years after that. Thus; Europe’s intrepid snakes had more time to heed the reptile version of Westward, ho!
“Other reptiles didn’t make it either, except for one: the common or viviparous lizard. Ireland’s only native reptile, the species must have arrived within the last 10,000 years. So unless St. Patrick couldn’t tell a snake from a lizard, where does the legend come from? Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in Judeo-Christian beliefs—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick’s dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence.”
“Over the centuries a number of legends have grown about St. Patrick, e.g., he drove the snakes from Ireland and used a three-leaf clover to teach about the Holy Trinity. These popular legends have endeared the saintly man to the Irish. The monks who wrote such dramatized stories about St. Patrick “were guided by their knowledge of what popular taste demanded.” (“Knowing St. Patrick,” Our Sunday Visitor, A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper)
Although there were never any snakes for St. Patrick to “drive out” of Ireland, the dominant church and religious authorities never had a problem crediting a man they would go on to canonize as St. Patrick with a “miracle” that never occurred.
Good thing stuff like that never happens today!
* * *
Department Of More Petty Things About Moiself
I curse at ants  before I crush them with my bare fingers.
Oh yeah? That murdering bitch should hear what we say about her in our last gasps….
* * *
Department Of The Simple Pleasures Of Spring
My family lived in Southern California during my childhood, and one of our favorite camping destinations was the relatively nearby Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At a very young age I came to have an appreciation for the desert other school kids found difficult to fathom (“What’s the big deal? It’s hot, it’s a desert – there’s nothing there!”). Those lucky friends who were invited along on those camping trips became converts to desert appreciation, if not upon arrival then soon thereafter, usually during one of our hikes to the Palm Canyon.
My favorite time of the year to go to the desert was during spring break, which usually coincided with the brief but spectacular desert wildflower bloom. This year, I almost thought about flying down spur-of-the-moment, but even if I did so I probably wouldn’t be able to get near the place: wildflower and desert lovers and sightseers have descended en masse to witness a “super bloom” – Anza-Borrego’s most spectacular in over 20 years.
A super bloom is a user-friendly term to describe what is, essentially, a wildflower KA-BOOM. (I’m sure there is some official botanical term to describe the phenomenon).
Southern California deserts, after experiencing one of the worst droughts in the area’s history, are experiencing the wildflower show due to a variety of reasons, including the due to recent heavy and steady rains. Anza-Borrego, an area which usually gets only 5 inches of precipitation per year, has had 7 inches of rain in the past 8 months.
As ephemeral as a seemingly rational policy statement from a #45  cabinet member, the super blooms will likely last no more than a week. Enjoy it while/if you can.
* * *
Department Of The Lady Or The Tiger Or The Door To Yet Yet Another Bullshit Misogynist Fairytale
A book of fables containing The Lady Or The Tiger was presented to me by my 4th grade teacher, as a reward for finishing first in a reading contest.  TLOTT was the only story I remembered from the book. I thought the story was of ancient origin, and that thought was reinforced when I encountered TLOTT again, in a 5th or 6th grade English class. The story was so…primitive…it had to have come from The Ancients. Only later did I find out it was a (relatively) contemporary short story, published in 1882.
In case you’re not familiar with the plot, it involves a nasty king, his daughter (the princess), and her suitor. A lower-class (i.e. non-royal) subject falls in love with the king’s daughter and attempts to court her. The king is offended by this, and sentences the man to a devious punishment: he will be taken to an arena where he will be forced to choose between two doors behind one door is a beautiful lady; behind the other, a hungry tiger. If the man chooses the door with a lady behind it, he will have to marry her, and if he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he will be mauled to death.
The princess schemes within the court to find out which door has the lady behind it. She doesn’t want her suitor to have to marry someone else, but she loves him and doesn’t want him to die. At the auspicious moment, she signals him to choose a door….but the story ends as the man opens the door, and readers are left to ponder what choice she led him to make.
TLOTT was presented the ultimate allegory of a tough decision, but my grade school click! radar (aka the feminist eureka moment) came to the fore. Excuse me, but “The ultimate allegory of a difficult decision?” You people (read: adults, teachers) gotta be joking. To even make the argument that there could be another choice, other than let him choose the other woman and live…
I didn’t think in WTF speak back then. Nevertheless, I argued strenuously that there should be no suspense as to what happened – she loved him! She directed him toward the lady, not the tiger. He would live…the real suspense would be how the princess and her suitor could find another way to be together, away from her asshole father.
My various teachers pointed out what they said were the flaws in my argument, with what was, at the time, totally acceptable, totally sexist, “reasoning.” Looking back, their analysis was astonishing for its matter-of-fact assumptions of female pettiness: a woman’s sole or ultimate motivation must be love and security; women are jealous of other women; she’d rather see him dead than with another woman – who by definition must be her rival, because women can’t be friends with other women; if-I-can’t-have-him-nobody-else-can ….
TLOTT, besides being a shitty story, sparked one of the first of what would be an ongoing line of feminist inquiries and realizations: This is how the world is supposed to view women? This is what women are supposed to think about themselves?
* * *
Department Of But Why Wouldn’t I Believe Them – Do They Have A Reputation For Telling Lies and/or Spreading Misinformation? (And If So, Why Aren’t They working For The Current Occupant Of The White House?)
Subject line in an email caught in my spam filter:
You won’t believe these three toilet seats.
* * *
May you believe the toilet seats that must be believed; May you never be too young or too old to call out fairy-tale horseshit; May the luck of the Irish be better for you than it has been for the Irish; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 According to the NIH’s Celiac Awareness Campaign, the answer is yes, for whiskey or any distilled beverage, even those derived from wheat, as the distillation process removes the gluten proteins.
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
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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,  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 sabbatical, it might as well be here.
Also, I just like having an excuse to say Yachats.
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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? 
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  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,  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.
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 thingswith 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 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  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….)
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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. 
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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 ) 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….
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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.
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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.
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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!
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 That is, those before the whale watchers took over.
 I loved the way he phrased it: “I’m not trying to get rid of you, but…”
 Nothing like a Canadian friend nagging – I mean of course carefully advising – you in this regard.
 It had been years since we needed to do this. Guess what? Time passes, and putting on chains still sucks.
 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.
 Whether to Life’s really Big Questions or what to do with moiself
 H and son K and MH would miss it; daughter Belle, not so much; the kitties just keep shedding, no matter what.
 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.
To gush about the mahhhhhhvelous trip MH and I took last week, to the San Juan Islands. The trip I alluded to in last week’s pitiful excuse for a blog post?
I’ll start again.
The Fire Pit I’m Not Using
We did not use the driftwood fire pit on the picturesque, pebbly beach shoreline in front of the Obstruction Pass beach house we rented on Orcas Island. Even in the San Juans, there are burn restrictions due to the Washington state drought. No matter – it made for a nice sitting-and-watching-the-ocean perch.
For the first three nights during our Orcas stay we were fortunate enough to have guests from nearby Bellingham join us at the house. It was great fun to be able to visit with friends JT the 18th, JST, and their delightful daughter LT (who knows way too many 80’s songs for a sixteen year old ).
So, yes, we did not have fires in the fire pit. We did hike and dine and hike and kayak and hike some more…
White strip of paper, taped to Obstruction Pass State Park outhouse near hiking trail, reads “Lovely Ladies Live Here.” 
We also explored Orcas by foot and car and made a day trip to Shaw Island …
MH by the Shaw Island Seedshack – an honor system seed store, in the proverbial middle of nowhere.
and shook our heads (and sometimes, our fists) at all the deer ,  bought some beautiful pottery and checked out the local art. I’d include my favorite island road sign in the latter category:
I want to know, what happened to the m?
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And now, a word about the deer.
No, they’re not cute. They’re pests, and they’re everywhere.
According to several Islanders I queried, soft-hearted civilians as well as animal-rights activists resist efforts to cull the massive amount of deer on the islands. A good portion of land in the San Juans is owned privately, and the limited amount of hunting allowed does jack squat to curb the expanding deer population. For the deer, this is a recipe for disaster: deer compete for limited territory and food resources and have few career opportunities (read: road kill).
Recipe for Disaster
Ingredients: – 2 cups too many deer – 1 tablespoon no deer predators
Steal a six pack of Cheap American beer ® from the drunken hunters that will inevitably be enlisted to thin the deer ranks (the hunters will likely not notice, nor even mind, as they’re schlepping another five cases of PBR in the cabs of their Ford F-150 pickups).
Empty one can of beer into an oven-safe mixing bowl.
Lemme see, so far we have five pictures of someone else’s holiday and one half-assed recipe. Is this is as bad as looking at someone’s vacation slides?
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Where was I? After our week long stay at Orcas we took the ferry to Lopez Island and spent two magical nights with our friends-who-are so-fortunate-as-to-live-there, the gracious and witty J and D C-R. C-R, as in, not to be confused with CCR.
Thanks to the lovely and talented George Rede,  , Oregonian/Oregon Live reporter and Orcas Island lover, for his helpful suggestions for sightseeing and recreation on the island. One of his must-dos included hiking around or kayaking on Mountain Lake (we did both).
Pie guard demon, guarding a car (which had two pies in the passenger’s seat) at Mountain Lake boat launch.
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Dateline: A Tuesday on vacation,  in the later afternoon of the day when we took a day trip to Shaw Island. I passed the time waiting for the return ferry to Orcas Island by scrambling about the rocks near the pier by the ferry terminal. As I climbed back up to the road my tie-dyed tee shirt elicited a thumbs up and commentary from a man passing by (whom I judged to be in his early sixties):
“That’s some great tie dye! I know tie-dye – ‘Summer of love,’ yeah, I was there!”
Instead of the comment I wanted to make – about the sophistication of today’s tie-dyes, where back in the 60s they were basically just color blotches that resembled what scrambled eggs would look like to someone on a bad acid trip – I merely smiled and returned his thumbs up.
“If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there.” Robin Williams
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Department of Wasted Youth
So I return from vacation and discover, while listening to an interview with Lily Tomlin, that the pictures and art I have framed  for all these years – it just pains me to have to type this, but I’ve been doing it wrong. Or rather, it seems I haven’t fully appreciated the practice and have settled for less. You see, I’ve learned, via a blurb on a Fresh Air podcast, that sponsor Framebridge has “reinvented the framing experience.”
Just think of the time I wasted, bordering and encasing cherished family photographs and paintings without thought or purpose, when I could have had a framing experience.
Oh, sure, now they tell me.
Yeah, it fits, but it’s not quite the experience I was hoping for.
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Department of Spoiled Surprises Aka, So I return from vacation, 2.0
…and discover two packages had arrived while we were gone. Having received a shipping notice just before we left for the San Juans, I knew that one of the packages, the one addressed to moiself, was the present I’d ordered for MH’s birthday: a new card game from the twisted creative mind responsible for one of our favorite cartoons, the Oatmeal. I let that sit while MH opened the package addressed to himself. Given the timing of the package’s arrival, I thought it might be a present from his parents (his birthday was yesterday). Instead, it was something he’d ordered for himself, unbeknownst to moiself. It was the same same card game I’d gotten him.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.