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The Gifts I’m Not Authenticating

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Department Of Almost Feeling Guilty

Imagine the conundrum for a socially conscious political cartoonist, comedy writer and/or comedian: As a good citizen you want the electorate to make rational, informed choices; you want your fellow voters to consider the issues at stake when weighing a candidate’s qualifications for elected office and not be swayed or misled by hyperbole and fear. On the other hand, [1] you can’t help but savor the guilty pleasure arising from your knowledge of the inverse proportion between the level-headedness of a presidential candidate and the resulting opportunities to ply your trade.

I refer of course to the embarrassment of satirical riches – the material for monologues, jokes, cartoons, videos, memes, animated GIFs, you name it – to be found re the current primary season. Oy vey, what a dilemma. You of course want the best for your nation, but for your profession, the more Dan Quayles, [2] Sarah Palins, Ted Cruzs, the better.

And I will gladly suffer the WTF?!?!? barbs from people residing in the rest of the civilized world (What is wrong with your country, that such people can even be considered for president?!), as long as those people keep supplying us with gems like the following:

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Last Saturday MH and I attended NARAL-Pro Choice Oregon ‘s annual dinner buffet/auction benefit in Portland. Since we had tickets to a theatre matinee (also in Portland) the following afternoon, we decided to book a hotel room and make a night of it. The benefit was entertaining, the buffet items tasty, and it was even fun to force myself to get dressed in something other than a tie dye shirt and yoga pants. Also, the people-watching opportunities were prime – you couldn’t spit without hitting a local or state politician (and believe me, I did try). During the auction, MH and I mused about one day being able to bid on the high end items, once we stop our “bidding” on college tuition.

On the way from our hotel to the benefit we had a little time to kill, which we did by watching A Guy On A Horse [3] Ride Up And Down The Steps Of Pioneer Square © . Because, Portland.

 

horse

 

After the event wound down we cruised downtown Portland, taking in the street sights and allowing ourselves to feel superior to the line of tourists outside Voodoo Donuts. Feeling in the mood for something else, [4] we stopped in at a Portland institution, Huber’s Cafe .

This was our first visit to Huber’s. Fortunately for us newbies, the people sitting at a nearby table ordered the café’s signature drink, a Spanish Coffee, which, the café boasts in the culinary understatement of the year, is “flamed tableside with great flair.”

The bartender approached the table with his tray of accouterments. He managed to hold three stemmed goblets between the fingers of his left hand – I was impressed, even before the swirling of liquids and the flaming began – and undulated his left arm as if….

Okay: picture a dude in a tuxedo working on mixing a multi-layered cocktail and then setting it aflame while riding a roller coaster. I don’t even like Spanish Coffee, but I am definitely going back to Huber’s to order one before I die.

The timing must be right, of course. I don’t want to order a Spanish Coffee, and then die.

 

 

 Only two goblets? Amateur.

Only two goblets? Amateur.

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Belated Holiday Pathos

 

This week I’ve been feeling a little bluesy.

 

 

Like this?

Like this?

 

 

No, not in a Bessie Smith bluesy way. More like in the reflecting upon the passage of time, How Did It Get To Be March Already, way – a way that, for some reason, made me think about how and why our post-Christmas cleanup gets easier each year. Now that our offspring are Young Adults ®, there is less gift flotsam there is for MH and I to deal with.

When K and Belle were kidlets, there were many, many, many – and did I mention many? – years where it took us up to four weeks post-Christmas to find enough room in the garbage can for all of the non-recyclable packaging materials which were indigenous to gifts that came from A Certain Side of The Family.

Read: my side. Specifically, my mother. [5]  Mom was abetted in her trashing of the planet abundantly swathed present-bestowing by the good folks at Lillian Vernon. Are you familiar with that catalog company? If so, you have my sympathy.

 

LillianV

 

My mother discovered the Lillian Vernon catalog (too) many years ago. Once she did, there was no turning back for her. The catalog became her go-to source for gifts for her grandchildren, and a more wasteful source I’ve yet to encounter. Why a four inch tin-plated Model T replica needs to be encased in enough Styrofoam insulate an entire Uzbekistan village is a mystery to me…but that, apparently, is the shipping policy at Lillian Vernon.

The excessive packaging of the gifts was one thing. The gifts themselves, ay yi yi. All made in China, of substandard construction [6] –– and almost all items but clothing are accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.

 

This is an authentic piece of crap, guaranteed.

This  crap is authentic, guaranteed.

 

 

Most bewildering of all was how inappropriate the gifts were. Not inappropriate as in giving a life-size Uzi replica to a five year old; rather, inappropriate in that the gifts had no relation to what K and Belle actually wanted.

I’ll never forget K’s reaction the year he opened his present from Grandma M, dug through the layers of packaging and…oh, um….yeah…a set of miniature antique automobile replicas? Perhaps for some child somewhere, that would have been a welcome present. K had no interest in “antique replicas” (even those that came with certificates of authenticity).  Thus K, along with his sister, got an early introduction to practicing the art of Present Face.

 

 

 

It was (kinda sorta) terrible to laugh at the gifts, but we did – after I gave K & Belle the usual parental reassuring (Grandma means well). Year after year, my mom gave her grandchildren stuff they neither wanted or needed.  I tried to figure it out, thinking aloud to MH one Christmas, after K & Belle had opened their respective, bewildering (but authentically certified!) LV boxes: It’s as if my mom is using suggestions based on someone’s idea of gender and age; here are gifts for Boy Child, ages 9-11, and for Girl Child, Ages 5-8….

Which, as I would discover, was exactly what my mother did.

In year three or four of the They Sooooo Do Not Want These Things For Christmas (the year of the antique replica cars) phenomenon, I resolved to find out what was going on. I tried to be gentle during my Christmas Day phone call to my parents – I tried to tease out what made them think K would be interested in a set of Ford Model A and T cars? I could have used a verbal sledgehammer, for all of my mother’s obliviousness. [7]

I do all my Christmas and birthday shopping from the catalog, my mother explained. (actually, it was more like bragging than explaining). I have all the categories covered – they list them for girls and boys, of any age. When it’s time for a Christmas or birthday I go to the boxes in the garage or under my bed and pick one out!

Hmmm…yeah. Say, Mom, for next year, how about if you ask K and Belle what they’d like? Or they could send you a gift list, like you used to have me write up for my birthday and Christmas. K really likes to draw – there’s an artist’s pencil set he’s interested in, and Belle loves Legos and….

That’s okay, I already have next year’s Christmas presents picked out!  Birthdays, too! I keep them all in a big stash under the bed. K’s and Belle’s birthday presents are ready to go – it’s so convenient. Oh, here’s Dad….

I was more direct with my father: “This is difficult to say…I want my kids to be grateful for any gift, but Dad, it’s like the presents are from a stranger who doesn’t know them. It’s nothing they are interested in. Why doesn’t Mom ask them what they’d like? They’d love to tell her.” He just didn’t hear me (Well, that’s how she likes to do it.) and changed the subject.

Later that day I sought email counsel from my older and younger sisters. It wasn’t just my family’s dilemma – they’d both dealt with the LV catalog gift gifting issue, and had tried everything from dropping hints to being directly confrontational.  Their advice: Sorry, but that’s the way it is. Learn to live with it.

 

 

sad

 

MH and I raised K and Belle to look at gifts as just that – gifts, not entitlements. We encouraged them to find something about which to feel grateful for any present they received; we advised them to never expect nor request presents, but to be gracious and specific when asked by someone what you’d like.

My parents never asked. [8]

K and Belle dutifully wrote their thank you notes to Grandpa Chet and Grandma M. After year two of getting presents they didn’t want, it became somewhat of a silly family ritual: on Christmas morning, along with our gift-opening accouterments we also set out a direct-to-Goodwill bag for the Lillian Vernon haul, and there was a special ceremonial flourish when a Certificate of Authenticity assumed its rightful place in the paper recycling bin.

Along with the droll (okay, snarky) comments and laughter which became a part of our gift-opening, there were genuine hurt feelings, for both me and my children. It sliced at my heart the first time K and Belle looked at me with sad-round eyes and said, Why don’t they ask me what I want?

It was so effin’ impersonal; it showed no interest in them as individuals. My mother took pride in being done with her present shopping months (even years) in advance…and took no interest in finding out what her grandchildren actually wanted. You can learn a lot about children by asking them what they’d like for a present – it can be a segue into finding out about their hobbies and interests and talents, about finding out who they are and what they like to do.

Instead, it was This Christmas Belle gets something from the Girl Toys Ages 6-9 bag under Grandma M’s bed.  My mother even mixed up the presents one year: K got a gift that was meant for his cousin. The gift tag read, “To X, Love Grandma M” (cousin X, my younger sister’s second son, was the same age as K)!

At my suggestion and with my father’s encouragement, my parents switched to giving checks to their grandchildren a few years back, a practice my mother continued after my father died. Now, the LV catalog present years are the stuff of family lore. Then, it was Yet Another Life Lesson for my children (and their parents) in tolerance, acceptance, and loving people as they are, warts/quirks and all. Looking back, a part of me is even grateful for the experience, which provided us with one of our favorite family code phrases:

Belle: What do you know about that new cafe downtown?
Moiself: I haven’t heard much about them, only that each menu item comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.
Belle: Whoa, thanks for the warning.

ohno

*   *   *

May all of your gifts be authentic;
May your foo-foo cocktails be flaming,
And may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] You have other fingers. No, that never gets old (for me).

[2] I remember reading an interview with a joke writer who worked for a late night comedy show – it may have been The Tonight Show during Carson’s reign – who said that during the Dan Quayle years “…sometimes the monologues just write themselves.”

[3] This was not a mounted patrol officer. Just some random guy with his cool as a cucumber horse.

[4] Which, in my case, translated into onion rings, sautéed mushrooms and a glass of Pinot Gris.

[5] Content reassurance: my mother is alive, albeit in poor physical and mental health. We speak at least once a week; she doesn’t remember our phone conversation from the previous week (nor often what I said five minutes ago). She is a shut in, in her own home, with 24/7 care by patient and loving attendants. She has no access to the internet, doesn’t read my blog, doesn’t know I write a blog, doesn’t know what a blog is….

[6] I was going to write shoddily manufactured…there’s just no nice way to put it. That shit was cheaply made.

[7] And it was my mother’s doing. As was common to many men of his generation, my father gladly ceded the birthday and holiday gift-choosing tasks to his wife.

[8] MH’s usually did.

The Grave I’m Not Dancing On

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Department Of The Calm Before The Storm
Aka, I’m Supposed To Post This Kind Of Mindless Minutiae On Facebook…

I’M SO HAPPY WITH MY DOLLAR TREE PURCHASE!

After years of using our nondescript, Bed Bath & Beyond everyday flatware precious family heirloom silverware for scooping out cat food, I recently said to moiself, “Self,” I said, “the next time you pass a Dollar Tree store, why not pop inside and pick up a couple of forks?”

Two forks now reside upstairs by the cat food cans. The utensils are seemingly satisfied with – dare I guess, even proud of ? –  their singular, humble-yet-vital raison d’etre 

My contentment knows no bounds.

 

 

fork

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Storm

Aka, I May Be A Terrible Person…

But damn, I wish I’d written this headline:

Justice Scalia Dead Following 30-Year Battle With Social Progress

 

dance-on-grave

 

Should I feel guilty for rejoicing upon hearing the news of someone’s death?  [1]  While I’m not exactly dancing on his grave, full disclosure: my first reaction upon hearing that SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia had died:

Pity it wasn’t a car crash and he didn’t take one or two of his buddies [2] with him.

Sound harsh? It’s “nothing personal,” as they say. Over the years I’ve said good riddance upon hearing the news of certain people’s deaths, for example, the architects of apartheid and Osama Bin Ladin, among other political and social tyrants. And yep, on a certain level I do equate them: Scalia was a judicial tyrant, hostile to those cherished American ideals of liberty, justice and equality for all.

Sure, I’ll miss Scalia’s batshit crazy rantings bizarre flights of phraseology and imagery (“jiggery-pokery” and “Platonic golf,” in particular) but I’ll not miss his retrograde, religion-soiled worldview and blatant hostility to the advancement of human rights.

As the Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor put it in her Freethought Now blog post, Why Scalia Was a Fugitive From Justice, Scalia was a “judicial version of a bible literalist…who dressed up the old ‘states’ rights’ arguments [3] in the bizarre new clothing he termed ‘originalist’ interpretations of the Constitution.”

 

scalia

 

The thing is, Scalia wasn’t just your blowhard bigot uncle pontificating at the neighborhood watering hole. He held a powerful position and thus had a loud and far-reaching megaphone, through which he advocated ideologies that do real harm to real people. [4] Unlike your drunk uncle, Scalia got to hide his prejudices, fear and loathing behind the skirts of a judge using an originalist interpretation of the US Constitution. [5]

A sampling of the many Scali-ism which reveal his bigoted, science-hostile, religiously-warped mindset, include him

* referring to voting rights as “racial entitlements;”

* equating homosexuality with “reprehensible” conduct including incest and murder;

* comparing the quest for LGBT human rights to flagpole sitting and saying it would be okay to jail gay people – i.e. criminalize gay “behavior” – because some (straight) people don’t like them;

* defending sentencing “retarded” people to death via the everybody’s doing it argument: i.e., if mentally-impaired people continue to receive death sentences from juries then that must be socially acceptable;

* dissing the establishment clause to an audience of schoolchildren and telling another group of children that that humanity was only in its 5,000th year of existence;

* arguing that African-Americans would be better off in slower schools;

* boasting that his refusal to recuse himself from a case about then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force — after he’d just returned on a duck-hunting trip with Cheney — was the “proudest thing” he’d done on the SCOTUS;

* saying the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause didn’t apply to females and thus there is no protection against discrimination for women in the US Constitution, and advising a female law student to skip taking “frill classes” like “law and women;”

* referring to a female SCOTUS justice (Sandra O’Connor), when she refused to join him in trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, as “irrational” and “not to be taken seriously;”

* dismissing the liberties and protections provided in the Bill of Rights (“The majority wins. If you don’t believe that, you don’t believe in democracy”) and equating the protection of minority interests with protecting pederasts and child abusers;

* cavalierly proclaiming [6] that torture wasn’t “punishment” and therefore couldn’t be considered “cruel and unusual;”

* rejecting the findings of science while believing that the existence of atheists is proof of a living, literal devil….

Okay; ding dong the witch is dead. And I feel a need to wash my hands after typing just a sample of the scary shit that man has done and said over the years.

Moving on: for something resembling demographic equality and representation, for the next SCOTUS nominee we need a justice who is female and who did not attend an Ivy League and/or East coast law school, who is originally or currently FROM THE WEST, and whose worldview background is secular/atheist…or, okay Jewish or Buddhist or Sikh or Baha’i or Hindu, anything but Christian and definitively not another Catholic.

Ah, if only The Onion’s dream came true:

 

"Obama Compiles Shortlist Of Gay, Transsexual Abortion Doctors To Replace Scalia."

“Obama Compiles Shortlist Of Gay, Transsexual Abortion Doctors To Replace Scalia.”

*   *   *

Department Of This Should Come As No Surprise

It turns out publication bias (that is, studies purporting to discover some phenomenon are more likely to be published than studies failing to find one), which is common throughout psychology, “is greatly exacerbated in sex/gender research,” found a 2014 paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, citing studies going back 20 years.
(from the article, Pink Brains, Blue Brains? Mindful magazine, February 2016

 

brains

 

Translation: it’s more interesting to think you’ve found a difference than to confirm a non-difference. Ergo, a study which alleges to find a “sex difference”  in male and female __________ (cranial structures; interest in sports; capacity for empathy; penchant for eating one’s own naval lint) gets published and gets press, while the subsequent 19 studies which find no difference receive little-to-no attention.

BTW, the answer to the article’s title rhetorical question, which has been addressed in many other studies, is a resounding WTF? no – who made that claim? Brains do not have a gender. The idea that there’s anything fundamentally different about men’s and women’s brains is a myth, despite what $chlock-peddler$ like that Venus and Mars bull$hit arti$t would have you buy (literally), is codswallop.

Ain’t that right, Angry Tiki Man Man?

 

If everybody's brains are the same then they can all figure out how to STAY OFF MY LAWN.

If everybody’s brains are the same then they can all figure out how to STAY OFF MY LAWN.

*   *   *

Department of Ahhhh…….

This photo from daughter Belle illustrates her claim that “one of the perks of working in a natural history museum [7]  is that you and the specimens sometimes match.

 

Sadietatoo

*   *   *

May you find exceptional happiness in humble purchases;
May the perks of your workplace be artistically fulfilling;
May the color of your brain continue to be irrelevant;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

[1] Answer: it depends, both on the Someone and the death.

[2] Whose surnames rhyme with BombAss and A-flea-toe.

[3]States’ rights” is a code term, often used to shield the potentially offensive and controversial intentions of the person employing it. It is typically used by conservative politicians (remember George Wallace?) to bring racial images and attitudes to mind without actually having to say the words. Ronald Reagan infamously used that nudge nudge wink wink code to appeal to the racist ideology of the old white southerners whom he sought to bring into his coalition of voters (and without whom he would have lost the 1980 election).

[4] Including and especially, IMHO, re his attitudes toward gay people.

[5]  You know, the logic and justice of applying the mindset of 240 years ago – when women could not vote and blacks counted as 3/5 of a person – to contemporary society law and politics.

[6] In a 2004 Interview with CNN.

[7] In her case, that of her school’s (the University of Puget Sound) – Slater Museum .

The Definition I’m Not Making Up

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Department Of They Gave You A What?

Last week marked MH’s 25 years with The Company That Shall Not Be Named Right Now. Twenty-five years. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around that, until I look in front of me and to my left. Hanging from the walls of our home office are just some of the framed awards for product design and launching, and plaques for the patents MH and fellow various team members hold.[1]  I read the dates…yep…it’s been that long.

When MH had been with TCTSNBNRN for five years, his then-manager took MH’s entire work group out to a Very nice restaurant © for lunch. For this auspicious occasion – a quarter of a century of creativity, loyalty, [2] diligent, sometimes family-life sacrificing or altering work – MH’s now-manager provided cupcakes for the work group, and a cake for MH.

From Safeway.

A single layer, 7 inch diameter, $8.99 cake. [3]

 

No, Martha, it's not.

No, Martha, it’s not.

 

Can you say, appreciation-fail, boys and girls?  I knew you could.

MH stayed up late last Sunday, baking a double batch of his family specialty: kringle, Norwegian pretzel-shaped buttermilk cookies. On Monday he emailed every person in the company (well, those who are still with TCTSNBNRN) with whom he’d worked over the years, thanked them for their help and camaraderie, and invited them to stop by his workstation so that he could thank them personally and share some cookies.

I’m thinking, How sweet that is! How classy is that?  – thoughts I hope will, eventually, push Twenty-five years and they gave you a !#?@% cake?!?! out of my mind.

 

kringle

*   *   *

Department of I Lie Because I Say I Care (But Still, I Lie)

Many centers across the country provide what mainstream medical experts say are misleading accounts of rare abortion complications, and of disproved longer-term effects….. at least one brochure in the facility flatly says that abortion causes “an increased risk of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.” …. But the National Cancer Institute states that “women who have had an induced abortion have the same risk of breast cancer as other women,” and that abortion has not been linked to other cancers, either.
(from the front page article, Pregnancy Clinics Fight For Right to Deny Abortion Information, NY Times 2-11-16)

CPCs (“crisis pregnancy centers”) have been prevaricating their asses off for as long as they have been in existence. When I worked at Planned Parenthood I was both amused and astonished at the stories I heard from women who had visited a CPC, about what had been presented to them as factual information. [4]

My favorite such story: Rachel [5] was told by a CPC “counselor” that during a physical exam a doctor could tell just by looking at a woman’s cervix if a woman had ever had an abortion (lie #1), and thus, because most doctors are adamantly opposed to abortion (lie #2) if Rachel had an abortion, for the rest of her life doctors could refuse to treat her (lie #3) or, even if Rachel found a doctor who deigned to see her as a patient, that doctor would give Rachel substandard care (lie #4).

Four whoppers in one sentence – that’s gotta be the record for a non-politician.

I’ve long considered the Right to Life moniker to be a misnomer. The removal of just one consonant would reveal their justification of their zealotry: Right to Life = Right to Lie.

*   *   *

WTF Spock

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

*   *   *

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of the death of “Chet-the-Jet,” my beloved father.  Back in September, when we were discussing the passing of MH’s father, my friend SCM remarked about how it was a milestone event for our family: the first time our son K and daughter Belle had to deal with the death of a grandparent.

Uh, actually, I reminded her….

SCM was horrified by her omission (I wasn’t). It was an honest and completely understandable mistake, as per this comment she made when she apologized. I found her observation quite touching:

You speak of him so often, it’s as if he’s still alive.

 

May 1978, Chet Parnell, celebrating his and Marion's 25th wedding anniversary.

May 1978, Chet Parnell, celebrating his and Marion’s 25th wedding anniversary.

 

*   *   *

angryman

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE. AT LEAST YOUR FATHER GOT A TROPHY.

 

 

*   *   *

Happy Year of the Monkey

monkey-year_3551486a

 

I find it suitable that I was born in a Year of the Monkey, as You little monkey! was one of several endearments my father bestowed upon moiself, his second-born child.

At my Qigong class this week, someone posed a question about the lunar zodiac calendar: What does it mean, to be born in the year of the monkey? I told her I could ask my SIL, who is Chinese, who’d likely say, “Nothing; it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s a superstition.”

From what I know of my brother’s delightful wife, she holds no superstitions – not those from her country of birth, nor those of her adopted country. She does, however, honor and acknowledge celebrations of culture. Thus, when I emailed her Gung Hay Fat Choi wishes on Monday, she winkingly told me that wearing red would ensure good luck during the coming year.

On Monday I did indeed wear red. I also visited Uwajimaya, my favorite Asian supermarket, and returned home with the fixings for a Lunar New Year dinner: veggie spring rolls; cucumber peanut salad; hot and sour fish ball soup…and this Indonesian snack, from a company whose marketing department needs a translation lesson.

 

titi

*   *   *

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

sob

*   *   *

Happy Darwin Day!

Today, February 12, we honor one of the greatest scientists ever, Charles R. Darwin (Feb 12, 1809 – April 18, 1882).

 

Yeah, thanks, but over one hundred and thirty years dead and I don't even get a cake?

Yeah, thanks, but over one hundred and thirty years dead and I don’t even get a cake?

*   *   *

 

The story I’m currently working on involves a character who regularly thumbs through an actual (vs. online) dictionary. Thus, I am doing the same, an activity which brought back a fond memory.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, MH [6] lived in San Jose and I in Palo Alto. One weekend fairly early on in our dating relationship, MH hosted a game night at his apartment. MH and I and a group of about eight friends were playing a word game called Fictionary. [7]   When it was my turn be to Selector (the player who provides an obscure word for which the other players would have to make up a definition), I opened MH’s dictionary to a random page, and was immediately struck by the top of the page heading – you know, the one in a dictionary which lists the first/last words on the page:

blowjob/bluff

Now, I can’t honestly remember what the second word was, but I’ll never forget that the first word was blowjob. And, of course, I had to share my discovery with the other players – most of whom, as I seem to recall, were from our church’s young adults social group. [8]

 

dictionary

 

MH, who hitherto had no knowledge of that page’s heading, seemed mildly embarrassed that he was in possession of what I subsequently and for all eternity referred to as The Blowjob Dictionary. Or perhaps his embarrassment came from the fact that his girlfriend couldn’t stop pointing this out to anyone who would listen.

Blowjob?!  At the top of the page?! “Blowjob” is at the top of the page and no editor or publisher caught it? You have a BJ dictionary [9] This is amazing…a mild-mannered engineer with a Blowjob dictionary, who knew?!  No, I am so not making this up – look, it’s right here, it says, blowjob….

Reader, he married me.

 

*   *   *

 

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AND HE GETS A FUCKING CAKE.

 

Of course, it could have been worse (or better, depending on your POV). He could have received a package of

 

titi2

*   *   *

May your significant anniversaries and accomplishments receive worthy acknowledgements;
May the calendar and lunar year bring you health and happiness (and interestingly titled snack foods),
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

[1] The framed awards ones having to do with microprocessor design are like works of art.

[2] He has been head-hunted over the years, by other companies.

[3] Yes, the price tag is prominently displayed on the plastic cover

[4] Other equally horrific/entertaining stories came from my fellow PP clinic workers, several of whom had undertaken to do their own “undercover” sessions by going to a CPC and pretending to be pregnant, to experience firsthand what kind of (dis) information they would receive.

[5] Pseudonym.

[6] MH, as regular readers of this blog know, stands for My Husband, who of course was not in fact my husband at the time of this incident, but the privacy acronym stands.

[7]  Fictionary is a game in which players guess the definition of an obscure word. One player selects and announces a word from a dictionary. After the other players confirm that they indeed are not familiar with the word, they each make up a fake definition for it, while the Selector writes down the dictionary definition. The Selector collects the fake definitions, reads all definitions aloud, and players vote on which definition they believe to be correct. Points are awarded for correct guesses, for having a fake definition guessed by another player.

[8] Yes, happy heathens MH and I met at a Lutheran church. Now, there’s  a story for another time.

[9] Actually, I think it may have been American heritage?  I wish I could remember the name and the edition…I’d pay good money for that one…which for some reason never made it the the marital assets, when we combined households.

The Spanish Class I’m Not Taking

Comments Off on The Spanish Class I’m Not Taking

 

There is no I in quitter.

Turns out, there is.

¿Come se dice Homework sucks en español?

Guess I’ll never know, unless I look it up myself. On Monday I dis-enrolled moiself from the Spanish class I’d so been looking forward to.

 

REALLY

 

Yes, really.

I’d been a little put off by the cancellation-without-notice of the class’s first meeting, (mentioned in a previous post), an incident which, on the second meeting of the class, [1]  la professora seemed not at all concerned about, even after several of us told her we had showed up to an empty, dark classroom. [2] But hey, okay, no big deal in the whole scope of things, right?

I was also a bit put off when la professor told her estudiantes that she was not fond of the textbook for the course, a book we had all purchased as instructed (a book that was, what, assigned for her class against her will?). What was the point of mentioning that?

I liked the other students in the class just fine and dandy. [3]  And then it came time to do the homework assignments.

Something in me balked. I did not find the assignments difficult; in fact, I was encouraged – given that I’d enrolled in an “accelerated” beginner’s class – by how much of the material was familiar to me. But…I… just….

 

 

homework

 

 

I found myself reacting as if it were one of those committee meetings I so loath.

Homework.

Been there; done that, for sixteen years, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

Why again, I asked moiself, am I taking this class?  And why am I still typing moiself instead of mi mismo if I am supposedly interested in improving my español?

*   *   *

Department Of That Is So Not The Correct Response

Whilst using the self-checkout line at the local grocery store, the sopping wet bunch of scallions I’d picked up from the store’s why-do-they-spray-the-vegetables-every-five-seconds produce section leaked through my reusable bag. Water dripped all over the scale, and this apparently/somehow obscured the scanning device. I turned to face the clerk’s station which was right behind me, the station manned by the exceedingly tall, dull-eyed, slack-jawed lucky employee whose job it is to oversee the store’s self-checkout lines.

“Hello/Excuse me.” I smiled my best, Affable Customer Needs Assistance ® smile.  “One of my produce bags leaked water all over the scale. I’m unable to scan my last item, and….”

The clerk said, “Okay.”

Okay?

That was it. He said it somewhat expectantly, as if he were waiting for me to finish a not-very-funny joke.

I paused, awaiting the offer of assistance that was not forthcoming. I restated my dilemma, more succinctly the second time, and received a blank stare in response. I tried a third recitation of the situation, this time pointing toward the roll of paper towels at the clerk’s station, paper towels which are there to – wait for it – wipe the scales. [4]  He grabbed the roll, shuffled over to my checkout station and slooooooooooooowly wiped off the scale,[5] all the while shooting me several  Why are you telling me this? glances.

Silly moiself. Why did I tell the guy whose job it is to help the self-checkout stations that I needed  help with a self-checkout station? WTF, dude, I just decided to share this with you because I’m having a lonely night.

 

grocery

*   *   *

Department Of Sushi Politics

MH and I had a lovely sushi lunch last Friday, with two administrators (the President/CEO and Chief Development Officer) from the local Planned Parenthood chapter, who wanted to thank MH and I personally for our year end donation, and pick our minds about our history of supporting the organization, etc.

We’ve supported PP [6] at both the local and national level for years, although I removed the national organization from my donation list many years back, [7] a story I got to share with the PP Ladies. And although I am so grateful for the services PP provides to the community, I also shared my disappointment [8] with the decision by the political wing of the National PP organization to break a long-standing tradition of neutrality to endorse a presidential candidate during the primary races.

The PP Prez made an articulate, well-reasoned and passionate case for the national PP board’s endorsement – a decision I found not surprising and certainly understandable in these trying times for supporters of reproductive freedom. Still, I agreed to disagree with the endorsement, in part due to the story I’m about to share with y’all.

Another long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I worked for Planned Parenthood of San Mateo County (CA). One morning at the beginning of my shift, as I walked down the hallway which led from the PP building parking lot through the administrative offices, I was greeted by PPSMC’s vice-president. The Veep was on her way to the employee break room for her morning coffee, and her attention was caught by the button I’d affixed to the strap of my purse:

 

lobotomy

 

Veep flashed me a wicked, I-am-so-going-to-love-this smile and asked,

Do you think I should have a lobotomy?

Gulp.  Uh, no, ma’am.

Turns out PP Veep was a longtime Republican, and as she accompanied me to the clinic wing of the building she treated me to a PP history lesson. She pointed to the pictures of the clinic’s founders and major financial sponsors, pictures which hung in the hallway I’d traversed every day I came to work – pictures I heretofore had given nary a second glance as they all seemed at first glance (to moiself) to be a bunch of “old folks” who looked like they could have been the disgruntled bridge partners of my Aunt Erva.

 

Of course I support your reproductive choices. But if you choose to bid one heart again I'm going to kick your ass.

I support your reproductive choices. But if you choose to bid one heart again I’m gonna choose to kick your ass.

 

The majority of the clinic’s founding donors were political conservatives and/or Republicans who, the Veep explained to me, had the highest respect for PP’s mission statement – that the family is the bedrock unit of society; thus, the ability to plan one’s family is a fundamental and most personal decision that should be free of governmental interference – and that that was the true conservative’s position, and anything I’d heard to the contrary was the result of political and religious fanatics hijacking the authentic….

You get the picture.

And I got the button off my purse strap. [9]

My dear and recently departed FIL was a staunch Republican, who made it a point over the years to tell MH and I how he’d consistently (and successfully) fought to procure and maintain the donations to PP from the many charitable foundations on whose boards he’d served. He and my MIL – pro-choice Republicans [10] – might seem to be an endangered species, but I know there are more of them are out there.

Again, I get PP’s decision. The current crop of Republican presidential candidates is particularly dismal, and it’s been a tough political row to hoe for the pro-choice movement.

But, it’s been that way for a loooooong time. Fiscally conservative/socially progressive Republicans who are teetering about their loyalties…I fear the endorsement of Clinton by PP might just be the “nudge” to get those R’s thinking that they have to choose sides once and for all on this issue, and that the fanatics are correct – only those liberals support reproductive freedom.

  *   *   *

Department Of Object Lessons

I follow the blog Epiphenom: The Science of Religion and Non-Belief. The blog came about as per its author’s curiosity regarding…I’ll let him tell you in his own words:

Hi, my name’s Tom Rees I want to know why some people believe in gods, and what the psychological and social consequences of those beliefs are. I read the research, and when I find something juicy I write it up and post it here!
I’ve been blogging on the psychology of religions belief (and non-belief) since 2008 – this blog has its origins in a paper I wrote published in 2009 on the link between personal insecurity and religious belief. I’m a medical writer by profession, and have a PhD in biotechnology.

A recent post on the Epiphenom blog is worth a look for all you Freethinkers, or anyone, no matter how you label yourself, who is concerned re the influence of religion on education.

The world’s first scientific renaissance took place not in Italy, but in the Arab world…
Which makes it all the stranger that modern Islamic nations have such a lamentable record in science. Where did it all go wrong?
(from How Religious Schools Led to the Decline of Arabic Science, Epiphenom, 1-14-16)

As per the following excerpts (from the same post), replace Sunni revival with Evangelical or Conservative Christian…and feel free to shudder away.

And once religious traditionalists took control of the education system, they shut down most lines of scientific inquiry. Not only were there fewer scientific works after the Sunni Revival took hold, but those that were produced in were cited less often – indicating that they had less impact on other scholars….. So, this is a simple case of power and control. Once the Sunnis became dominant, they clamped down on any potential challenges to their authority. And that included rational inquiry – dealing a fatal blow to the region and causing lasting damage that persists to this day.

Christianity vs. Science

*   *   *

 

Okay. Enough with the Serious Stuff © .

Department of Morning Surprises

Oh, crap, no!

I espied a suspicious dark blob on the floor by the kitchen table and dropped to my knees for further inspection.

What is it? MH asked cautiously.

We both feared another thinking-outside-the-box incident, for which one of our cats is notorious. Instead it was only (and oddly) the top of a jalapeño – a trimming from the previous night’s dinner – which had somehow escaped from its (intended) journey from the kitchen counter to the compost bin.

MH recoiled reflexively as I dangled the so-relieved-it-is-not-a-cat-turd object in front of his face.

“It’s a jala-poo-ño,” he declared.

 

jalapoo

*   *   *

May your mornings bring only pleasant surprises;
May your requests for assistance bring only appropriate responses;
May you enjoy a realization of freedom that is one of the few unmitigated pleasures of aging (hey, I don’t have to do this thing if I don’t want to!);
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Uh, which was then actually the first day of the class.

[2] A simple, vaguely apologetic, Oh, how inconvenient for you, would have sufficed.

[3] And in age-reporting fairness, as per my being the youngest in the other class I’m taking (which I mentioned in last week’s post), I’d estimate I was one of the two oldest in the Spanish class.

[4] I have seen other clerks do this. I have seen, and I have believed that it is possible.

[5] It took three paper towels. That store believes in soaking their scallions, lemme tellya.

[6] Translate: yearly $$ donations.

[7] Due to my dissatisfaction with their non-response to my repeated, reasonable and well-stated concerns re their constant dunning for membership dues. Someone’s yearly membership is not “in desperate need” of renewal eleven months before the expiration date.

[8] I’m pissed off, I believe, is the genteel expression I employed.

[9] I still wore it. Just not to work.

[10] At least, ones willing to be vocal about it.

The Floor I’m Not Mopping

3 Comments

Despairing Comment of the Month

Overheard at our dinner table: “Hillsboro is so not Paris.”  [1]

*   *   *

Regarding Pope Francis’ encyclical on global warming, I can’t say it better than FFRF founder and co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor’s essay, excerpted here, Why I Find It Hard to Laud the Pope’s ‘Laudato’ :

“…I do have a quarrel, a major quarrel, to pick with Pope Francis and his encyclical. Which is that since the dastardly “Humanae Vitae” was issued in 1968 — in which Pope Paul VI not only crushed the hopes of an entire generation of idealistic young Catholics, consigned women to be brood mares and cemented the church’s war on abortion and contraception — the world population went from 3.5 billion to today’s 7.3 billion and counting. Yes, it’s more than doubled. And that’s surely a crime by humanity against what the pope calls ‘sister Earth.’

“…Overpopulation may not be the direct cause of all our environmental ills, but it makes all of them worse, far worse. The more people, the more cars and carbon dioxide emissions, the more plane flights and fuel burned, the more deforestation, wildlife and habitats destroyed, the more trash in space, in the oceans, dumped in developing nations, the more biodiversity silenced or imperiled, the more fodder for plagues, famines, droughts, wars, natural (and “unnatural”) disasters. It’s not rocket science.

“My mother used to have a favorite analogy about overpopulation, what she called a ‘sanity test.’ You’re in a room with an overflowing sink and a mop and bucket. What do you do first? Do you turn off the spigot or mop the floor?

stay the course

*   *   *

Let ‘er Rip

Last week’s blog, devoted to a fondly remembered high school teacher and journalism advisor, was a bit milder than usual. But I did promise a return to my usual, highbrow, Masterpiece Theatre entertainment.  Read: fart jokes.

A family drops off their elderly mother at a nursing home. While sitting in her new room, she slowly begins to tilt sideways in her chair. Two attentive nurses immediately straighten her up. After a while, she starts to tilt to the other side. The nurses rush back to put her upright. This goes on all morning.
Later, the family arrives and asks the old woman, “Are they treating you all right?” She replies, “It’s pretty nice here, except they won’t let you fart.”

Q. Why are farts smelly?
 A. So deaf people can enjoy them, too.

The Duke of Edinburg loudly passed gas during a dinner party at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth gasped, and Prince Philip said, “How dare you fart in front of my wife!” The Duke apologized, “So sorry, I didn’t realize it was her turn.”

Continuing with the royal theme : [2]

Q. What do the Queen of England’s farts have in common with helium and neon?
A. They are all noble gases.

 "Jolly good show, Your Highness, that one's a riser!"

“Jolly good show, Your Highness, that one’s a riser!”

*   *   *

We now return you to our regular programming.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Happy

I like to do a diva finger snap or flick my hands (ala Star Trek’s Lt. Riley in TOS’ Naked Time episode [3] ) when I approach a store’s automatic entry or exist doors, timing it such that my gesture appears to cause the doors to open.

When I do this (admittedly silly) thing, I do not attempt to mimic the sound effects [4]

So far.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Sad

Last week I saw an incidence of shame eating: a woman sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV in the parking lot of a local outdoor shopping mall, frantically and furtively scarfing down what appeared to be an entire tray of frosted cinnamon rolls.

 

Shame statue

*   *   *

Things That Frost My Butt

Rcamp

 

Read the sign carefully. There is no mention of who is sponsoring, leading or providing the food and activities.

Pedophiles, luring kids to the park with the promise of free goodies, games, maybe even puppies?

Close.

Using amazingly similar techniques, it’s religionophiles.

I saw the same sign last summer, in same place, which is in a local park where I walk in the mornings. I assume it’s the same group as last summer, when I took my walks later in the morning and, one day, saw the group setting up and asked them what be going down? [5].  It’s a church group, proselytizing to the kiddies while luring them (and their low income families) with the promise of free food and “fun” games.  [6]

The butt-frosting is due to the fact that they are not upfront about who they are and what they are doing.

 

Want some bible candy, kiddies?

Want some bible candy, kiddies?

*   *   *

Things That Curl My Payots  [7]

It’s a good thing – a blessing in disguise, if that phrase may slither from an apostate’s lips – that the door spring on our oven broke and there is no replacement part for it and there are also several other oven parts that are either broken or fraying.  Thus, MH had reason to search online for new oven options, and was able to alert me to this wonderful discovery: Even happy heathens like us have the option of purchasing appliances that have a Sabbath mode, yet another modern convenience which allows the faithful to ignore and/or circumvent comply with their  ridiculous primitive treasured religious proscriptions. [8]

s.oven

Lest you be permanently stuck in Huh/WTF? Mode, let the Chicago Rabbinical Council explain it to you:

The primary function of the Sabbath mode is to override the following features of modern ovens that conflict with the needs of a kosher home, including:

  • Auto shutoff which shuts off the oven after 12 or 24 hours to conserve energy and/or prevent fires.
  • Lights and signals that go on or off when one opens the door, food finishes cooking, the temperature is adjusted etc.

Instead of employing a gentile to turn your oven off or on, you can have your very own Shabbat Goy Oven, imagine that.

Be sure not to miss Schlomo's Appliances sale on Sabbath-compliant, fur-insulated microwave hats.

Be sure not to miss Schlomo’s Appliances sale on Sabbath-compliant, fur-insulated microwave hats.

*   *   *

Things That Make Me Wake up at 3 am and say, Huh?

So, we are all familiar with the questions that have been raised as to how astronauts on a mission are able to eat, bathe, defecate and exercise (these and more space travel dilemmas are delightfully delineated in Mary Roach’s Packing For Mars), right?

But, what about dental hygiene in space? Specifically, I was wondering about the effects of zero gravity on gum tissue. [9]

Inquiring minds don’t give a rat’s ass want to know.

*   *   *

The Obvious Points I’m Not Belaboring…

Or, maybe I am.

“Nothing fails like prayer.”
(Anne Nicol Gaylor, author, feminist and Freethought activist, 1926 – 2015)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof, who police say opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer meeting at a historic African American church here…

There are few words that haven’t already been said or written about the despicable, racist massacre in Charleston. There is, however, a certain…question…that isn’t being asked aloud, for a variety of reasons, including the general consensus that we’re still “too close” to the tragedy [10] to bring up such issues…until a person such as moiself dares to voice the ahem, excuse me observation.

In light of such a tragedy, I know what I am supposed to say or feel, about the people who gather to pray for the victims and their families. I am supposed to express if not genuinely feel platitudes about faith and about resilience in the face of tragedy.

Uh uh. Nope.

After frustration and anger re the racist motivations of the shooter (and the denial of the same by head-in-the-sand-and-up-their-asses conservative politicians, talking heads and gum-flapping Southern Heritage supporters), my second and now recurrent thoughts revolve around the folly of superstitions and incantations.

I have to put down the paper/change the channel/close the website if I read or hear about yet another event wherein religious believers gather to “pray for the victims.”

prayerfutility

WT Holy F?!?!?!

Nine people are murdered at their “Lord’s House” during a prayer meeting, which, I can  logically assume via both definition and experience, included petitionary prayers for help, inspiration and intervention – prayers directed to a deity  [11] which, his followers believe, can move mountains [12] but which couldn’t be bothered to protect people in “his” church from being attacked…prayers directed to the same god they believe could have stopped the attacker (if not, why  pray for help and intervention?), but didn’t?

And so, y’all are going to pray. For what?  To what?  Why?

*   *   *

A Belated Happy Half Birthday to Me

We celebrate half-birthdays in our house. Mine was two weeks ago, and I love it that I always forget when mine is just around the bend. Thus, ’twas a cool surprise to come downstairs in the morning and find a card on the refrigerator door, hanging from a red ribbon that led to a gift bag in the freezer, a bag which contained the ingredients for, IMHO, nature’s perfect feast:

 

lima

 

The history of the half-birthday celebration is due to MH’s and my first date, which took place on the day after my birthday. When MH found out that he had just missed celebrating my birthday with me, he expressed mild distress…and I thought nothing of it until, six months later (and yearly after that), I received a half-birthday card.

*   *   *

May you pass the most basic sanity test and throw away that mop;
may you be surprised by gifts of lima beans and dark chocolate (or whatever ingredients compose your equivalent dream feast);
may you take enjoyment from the simple pleasures of a royal barking spider joke,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Re Belle and I trying to plan a celebratory, French-style dinner.

[2] Yes, there is an entire subcategory of The Queen fart jokes. Is this a great world, or what?

[3]  Watch this at 1:49 if you don’t get the reference. And TOS = The Original Series, for you non-nerd readers.

[4] Click on turbolift door, for a sample of what I’m talking about. 

[5] Not my exact phrasing.

[6] Not their verbatim answer.

[7] If I had payots, which—surprise! – I don’t.

[8] The proscription relating to ovens: observant Jews are forbidden from ” creative work” on the Shabbat, which has been interpreted to include food preparation, even flipping a switch or pressing an electronic button.

[9] No, I don’t know what causes such concerns to pop into my mind. I’m just grateful that this time, the brain-popping happened at 4 pm instead of 3 am.

[10] I wonder, will the passage of time make the reactions any more rational?

[11] For purposes of argument, not that I think such a supernatural being actually exists.

[12] Matthew 17:20: ” Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (also Mark 11:23)

The Embryos I’m Not Thawing

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Department of Archery Haiku

archery1

I’ve taken up a
new sport, game, activity –

whatever it is 

Zen and the art of…”
Yep; archery. Just for fun.

(I don’t hunt Bambi). 

Blownup balloons pinned
on target – they’re better than

hitting the bulls-eye. 

I think it’s the sound:
A sharp, satisfying “pop”

and the balloon sags. 

I’ve learned what improves
my aim: mean faces, drawn on

balloons, with Sharpies

It only takes me
one or two arrows to burst

Vladimir Putin.

 

I do not have a picture of one of my Putin balloons (I popped ’em all), but I can share something even better: a video of Vladimir Putin making a balloon animal.

 

Is this a great world, or what?

*   *   *

Department of No Comment Necessary

From psychologist and author Valerie Tarico’s  interview with Sarah Morehead, executive [1] director of Recovering From Religion, a support group for people reconsidering the role of religion in their life and who have negatively affected by religion.

VT:Your commitment to supporting people in religious transitions comes from your own transition, which started with you as a life-long member of the Southern Baptist Convention and ended with you as an atheist.

SM: Yes. It was a long journey. Twelve years ago, I separated from my Promise Keeper husband. He had been violent toward me, but when he turned that on our kids, it was over for me. I found myself strapped financially, and in desperation I went to the benevolence committee at my church and asked for $600 to help pay the bills. This was a huge, successful mega-church, and the benevolence committee was their mechanism for helping members in need. The committee—all men—said they needed to pray about my request, and that regardless I needed to go to counseling about how to be a more godly wife so that I could lead my husband back to Christ through my submissiveness. They said this even though they knew he was physically abusive. Then, after praying, they let me know that Jesus wasn’t keen on them giving me the money.

patr

*   *   *

Favorite crossword puzzle clue I’ve encountered this year:

Clue: They are taken to go. [2]

pcrossword

*   *   *

Department of Paying Attention

Frozen Embryos Have A Right To Live was the absurdly provocative title of an op-ed in last Thursday’s New York Times. The byline belonged to someone described as Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé, aka, Nick Loeb.  (SVEF/Mr. Loeb admitted up front that the issue at hand would likely not be newsworthy save for the Famous Person © involved.)

Ms. Vergara is one of the stars of (yet-another-popular-series-I-don’t-watch) Modern Family, a show in which the fiery, heavily-accented Latina plays the stereotypical heavily-accented Sexy/Fiery Latina ®, a pandering stereotype breakthrough performance for a Latina actor as a regular sitcom cast member.

I am familiar with Ms. Vergara in the vaguest celebrity knowledge way; i.e., twice or thrice I’ve seen her on late night talk shows, where I found her manners and mannerisms at once irritating and charmingly reminiscent of…someone….  Oh, yes – Charo. [3]

We now we pause in our deliberation of Serious Events ® for a moment of cuchi-cuchi to celebrate the first – and hopefully not last – mention of Charo in this blog.

 

 

Once again, I digress.

The subject of SVEF/Mr. Loeb’s op-ed is the lawsuit he has filed against his ex-fiancé, re control of the frozen embryos the two of them created, back when they were on embryo-creating terms. Ms. Vergara does not want these frozen embryos implanted in a surrogate now that she and Mr. Loeb are no longer a couple.

In his opening paragraphs SVEF briefly outlines questions he would like readers to consider, re the rights of parenthood, the idea of embryos as property vs. the “sacredness” of life/religious beliefs. SVEF uses the bulk of the article to establish his I am a sensitive man and have always wanted to be a father credentials…which are superfluous after the first two sentences of paragraph 3 of his article (below, my emphases):  

In 2013 Sofia and I agreed to try to use in vitro fertilization and a surrogate to have children.  We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude? Really?

REALLY

Not to be insensitive, but holy frozen ballsack, [4] buddy, do you have even a remedial understanding of reading comprehension?

Both parties have not consented. You changed your mind — a cognitive alteration which may be a major bummer for you but which in no way nullifies the legal document you signed which stated the terms to which you agreed.

We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.

I wanted to stop reading the article after that one simple-yet-explicit, concise sentence.  How elegantly clear can an agreement be? Game over.

*   *   *

Department of Yes, I Do Have a Heart

Lest you think me unsympathetic to SVEF, after reading the article I did pause to consider his emotional well-being, and that of others in his situation. I think he would be well-served by channeling his (what he feels to be) thwarted parental energy into acting on behalf of even one of the millions of orphaned/neglected/needy,  real live, non-frozen children currently residing on this planet.

Also, I think he should meditate upon pictures of a star-pajama clothed baby sloth.

As should we all.

pjsloth

*   *  *

May hitting your favorite target provide you with a bulls-eye experience…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] A word like executive deserves its own footnote, n’est ce-pas?

[2] Answer: Laxatives.

[3] You know and/or remember who Charo is?  Dang, you must be old.

[4] Have you checked out the frozen ballsack section of your natural foods store? What are you waiting for?

The Skills I’m Not Listing

Comments Off on The Skills I’m Not Listing

A Harbinger of Spring: The Return of Blue Man Group

This year our boys are sporting primroses.

BMG

*   *   *

Happy belated birthday to comic actor, author, playwright, composer and founding Monty Python  member Eric Idle.

Idle shares a birthday with my mother-in-law (March 29); they both like to sing…and there is where the similarities begin and end.  While my MIL is a devoted Lutheran, Idle composed many of the Python songs and other naughty bits that crack wise at religion.

Idletwit

Idle, as Vivian Smith-Smythe-Smith, contestant for Upperclass Twit of the Year.

As per his own worldview, Idle has described himself, as in this piece he wrote for the Los Angeles Times, as an Alzheimer’s agnostic.

“I am an Alzheimer’s agnostic: I can’t remember whether I don’t believe in anything or not.
“However I do believe religions are the cause of most of the problems in the world today and there should be a moratorium on the use of the G-word. I think it should be replaced by something less controversial that we can all agree on. Like Chocolate.

“I can quite happily confess that I believe in Chocolate without upsetting anyone. No one ever killed anyone else over Chocolate. (All right, outside of Beverly Hills.) ‘One Nation under Chocolate’ is surely something we can all get behind. But I suppose, like all my ideas, it will be dismissed as just too silly.”

In Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life,  Idle’s Oh Lord Please Don’t Burn Us caps a skit illustrating the absurdity of religious worship.

Idle satirically illustrates the  logical consequence/conundrum for those who believe in a creator god – a deity they credit for “All Things Bright and Beautiful” but who somehow gets no responsibility for the parts of creation that are a bit dicey – with his Anglican hymn parody, All Things Dull and Ugly.

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot…. 

All things scabbed and ulcerous
All pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous
The Lord God made them all….[1]

ERICIDLE

*   *   *

Happy Trails to You

Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve bid a fond farewell to one of their greatest assets this week, when Sarah Pinnock retired from her position as Wetlands Education Specialist. MH and I have had the privilege of Sarah’s acquaintance for many years. We first met her when we were hiking around the preserve one day, many years ago. Sarah pointed out to us the nesting tree of the JBW Preserve’s resident pair of bald eagles, and showed us bobcat scat on one of the trails and other points of interest.

K graduates in May with a B.S. in Micro and Cellular Biology, and Belle will likely declare her major in Biochemistry or Biology. I attribute my offspring’s interest in the biological sciences in good part to Sarah’s enthusiastic mentoring. She led a series of nature/wildlife biology-themed camps at the preserve, several of which K and Belle attended. My kids adore and admire her, as do MH and I. There aren’t many people who can nurture or appreciate your children’s passion for dissecting owl pellets as well as Sarah.

She has the skill of making the phases of the natural world – from the life cycle of a vole to the water cycle of a wetland – interesting and accessible to adults and children alike. The naturalist who will succeed Sarah Pinnock at JBWP will have some big shoes – knee-high mud boots, actually – to fill.

Sarah Pinnock

*   *   *

Speaking of the natural world…

Spring Language Lexicon
Chapter 32: Doot-Doot vs. Deet-Deet

Doot-Doot: the thin cardboard cylinder around which a roll of toilet paper is wrapped and which, when stripped of all toilet paper, may be raised to the mouth of a human being so as to facilitate that human’s pretense of playing a trumpet or similar wind instrument. [2]

Doot-doot

Doot-doot

Deet-Deet: Any of the small, long-legged, narrow-billed shorebirds (e.g. sandpipers, oyster catchers, plovers) which dart to and fro, chasing outgoing waves and in turn being chased by incoming waves, their rapid gait making the deet-deet-deet-deet-deet sound (to discerning ears).

Deet-Deets getting ready to deet-deet-deet-deet.

Deet-Deets getting ready to deet-deet-deet-deet.

Now you know.

*   *   *

Wednesday was my first of what I hope will be a regular gig of volunteer shifts at the Bonnie Hayes Animal Shelter.  I’m happy to return to serving an animal adoption/rescue organization, after a break from 5+ years volunteering, along with Belle, at one of the C.A.T. humane organization’s outreach centers.

I’ve been searching for “suitable” [3] volunteer opportunities, and have noted a similarity in the animal shelter’s and other organizations’ volunteer application forms. At some point in the form after you’ve provided information relevant to the volunteer position, there is a section where you are asked to list interests, hobbies and other skills. Which strikes me as something you’d find on a dating profile.

profile

The trouble with volunteerism is that nonprofits offer plenty of “opportunities” to take on what are essentially jobs – “real” jobs – without being paid.  One example out of many: with my background working for both Planned Parenthood and a private OB/GYN practice, I thought about volunteering for a reproductive health clinic…until I researched volunteer positions available at the local Planned Parenthoods. Most of the descriptions made me think, Volunteer-schmolunteer –the scope and depth of responsibilities and duties – this is a job. Someone needs to get paid to do those things (like I used to).

I’ve had enough of that – of being expected to work without pay – as a writer.  Along those lines, I left blank the interests, hobbies and other skills section of the BHAS application. I did not list my writing skills; experience has taught me what will happen with that. I don’t want to haul out my good-natured-but-firm-smiling-through-gritted-teeth-turndown/explanation: that I do not work for free (nor do I think anyone should).

Yes, I understand that nonprofits need volunteers to thrive, or even survive.  But volunteerism comes at a high cost to women, who, as NPOs from art museums to educational tutoring programs to animal shelters will tell you, constitute the backbone of the volunteer force. The fact that women are often paid less than men for doing the same job (even in “traditionally female” occupations, for FFS!! [4] ), the fact that women are more hesitant/less adept than men when it comes to bargaining for salary raises – these inequalities are directly linked, I believe, to another frustrating fact:  both boys and girls grow up seeing women doing work – from managing a house/raising children to volunteering in key positions in their school/church/community – without being financially compensated for their work. [5]

volunteer

So.

I’ll gladly sanitize cat kennels and paint my children’s classroom walls, for free.[6] I will not write your organization’s press releases or grant proposals or edit your newsletter for zip.

*   *   *

My Son, the Micro Aggressor
Aka, This Is How We Lose The Support Of Good People

One of the things that makes me the most proud (or relieved) about my children is that they’ve turned out to be Good People ® . MH and I tried to instill in and model for them the value of applying compassion and reason to all areas of life, including political and social discourse. K and Belle try to think logically, to give people the benefit of the doubt, and look to the natural world for rational explanations of phenomena. Thus, it is no surprise that they support “the good fights” – LGBT rights, civil rights, women’s rights – you know, human rights.

We’ve also tried to teach them, by both example and “decree,” to never assume malice on the part of another person who makes a patently false or absurd statement (or simply a statement with which you disagree) when ignorance or simple difference of opinion would suffice for motive.

Most importantly, we advised them to question everything, even and especially the party line spouted by those whose positions you support.  Errant or exaggerated statements and inappropriate assumptions are to be found errant or exaggerated and inappropriate on their own merits, regardless of the desirable politics or good intentions behind them.

No surprise that both K and Belle have intermittently run into slobbering opposition (read:¨PC attacks and name-calling) when they have questioned some blanket/misleading statements having to do with The Oppressed vs. The Oppressors © .

shout

K had some “interesting” discussions in a Gender and Society [7] class he took at college last year, and I was both bemused and frustrated on his behalf when he recounted the incidents to me.  Stand-up guy that K is, he’s sometimes gotten involved in what he advised me you must never do, Mom, when it comes to online discussions, [8] and I’ve enjoyed being able to tease him about it (You stepped right in that pile, didn’t you?). But his missteps are understandable. For example, he is studying chemistry and biochemistry and organic chemistry, and when he runs across some blatantly whackadoodle statement about the “chemical reactions” that “prove the toxicity” of fluoridated water, he just can’t help but wade in and offer a factual correction. And the fun ensues.

Delusional thinking, by definition, cannot be reasoned with…and yet silence implies acquiescence. You simply can’t reason with some people, and yet you must try [9]  – I hold these seemingly contradictory opinions, a fact K and I have discussed, many, many times. You must learn to choose your battles; you must also learn when the best choice is to say, Cool story, bro, and walk away.

As one wise woman put it,

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig.

For the hundredth time, Wilbur, there's no falsetto in the chorus.

For the hundredth time, Wilbur, there’s no falsetto in the chorus.

Department of Teaching Pigs to Sing

Yesterday K entertained me by relaying the following pig-singing-lesson discussion he waded into, when he commented to a post on FB. [10]

The post began with this excerpt:

“Many white women have said to me, ‘We wanted black women and non-white women to join the movement,’ totally unaware of their perception that they somehow ‘own’ the movement, that they are the ‘hosts’ inviting us as ‘guests.’ “
 – bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin To Center

K: OR maybe they said that because they felt like nonwhite women were not represented by the movement and there were few (nonwhite women that were) a part of it.
Why do people always assume malice behind people’s actions and words? It’s foolish to read into things that damn much.

PDQ [11]: ^^^^ Can somebody please deal with this I can’t

REALLY

Yes, PDQ, go lie down with a cold compress on your forehead until you can deal with it.  OR, FFS, why bother to respond if all you’ve got is the vapors to offer? OR, FFFFFFS, put on your adult undergarments and deal with it.

Excusez-moi. Back to the transcript. Frail, unable-to-deal-with-it PDQ called upon someone else to respond (I’ll call her SAP), which SAP did.

SAP: 1. Nobody asked you. 2. ______(SAP provided a link to a HufffPo article on the “white savior complex”).

Then there was a lengthy comment by another person, “NAH,” on a tangential topic. K stayed on track, ignoring NAH and responding to SAP.

K: SAP, 1. If you post something publicly about a political topic, you are inviting responses. 2. You seem to think I’m saying that I don’t think this savoir complex exists. That’s not what I’m saying. What I said was that people seem to, tend to, read malice or otherwise hostile intent into quotes, like the one posted.

 NAH: Yeah. Oppressed people tend to be sensitive to the reasonably invisible micro aggressions that reinforce their mistreatment and widespread marginalization. No Shit.

(end of transcript)

facepalm

Reasonably Invisible Micro Aggressions. Yikes.

As an an uppity woman from the get-go, I’d love to terrify Pat Robertson by leaving my husband to practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and go lesbo, [12] but it’s late and I’ve yet to brush my teeth.  BTW, I cut my feminist teeth on the works of Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Robin Morgan, Audre Lorde, Kate Millett, Betty Friedan, Alice Walker et al, and I embrace the descriptive legitimacy of the concept of both white and male “privilege.” Reasonably Invisible Micro Aggressions? Never heard of ’em. I feel so…un-PC hip.

That term had my non-thong underwear knotted with laughter. My first thought was, What in the name of Susan B. Anthony are micro aggressions? And if they’re invisible, how can you tell if they’re micro or macro? And WTF is “reasonably” doing in that phrase?

My message to K:

Congratulations – I just found out I am the proud feminist mother of a microagressor.
Even better, one who may be responsible for “invisible” micro aggressions. Sounds like the equivalent of political homeopathy.

Is that your invisible micro aggression or are you just happy to see me?

Is that your invisible micro aggression or are you just happy to see me?

*   *   *

Liberty is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
(George Orwell) [13]

 

May all of your aggressions be visibly comprehensive, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

  Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1]All Things Dull and Ugly,” by Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Trevor Pka, John Du Prez.               

[2] You know you want to try it: doot-doot-doot-doot.

[3] “Suitable” – there’s the rub. Just try finding something that doesn’t involve meetings and/or committees, which I believe are the scourge of humanity, comparable to alopecia and shingles.

[4] Check out this and other uplifting articles which document how male nurses out earn female nurses.

[5] And also without attaining the respect/cachet that comes from having “a real job” (i.e., a one that pays a salary.

[6] Thank the FSM those days are over.

[7] A straight (but not narrow!) white male in a class with such a name…you can just imagine the traps set for him, by zealously sincere (the worst kind) and humorless “activists.”

[8] Read: do not feed the trolls.

[9] Because sometimes…eventually… good sense will take root.

[10] As usual, I will use acronyms instead of names, to protect the hypersensitive, not-so-innocent.

[11] As in Political Drama Queen. An appropriate acronym for someone who would respond as she did.

[12] In an infamous fundraising letter Roberts described the “feminist agenda” as “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

[13] I know SCM is thinking, “More footnotes!”

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