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The Natural Beauty I’m Not Protecting

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

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

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

 

 

 

ornament

 

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Every Cart Tells A Story

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

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

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

 

 

 

cart

*   *   *

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

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

 

*   *   *

Department Of Shoot Me Now And Get It Over With

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

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

 

singing-tree

*   *   *

Department Of And Then There’s That

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

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

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

 

 

disappointed

*   *   *

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

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

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

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

 

 

really

 

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

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

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

*   *   *

The Toes I’m Not Spreading

Balance; calm; equanimity, toe envy….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

shoesize

You know, this thing.

 

 

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

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

Guess which salesman didn’t get that commission?

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

 

 

treepose

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] Thanks, Mom!

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

The Solutions I’m Not Providing

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Department Of Do You Think They’ll Print This Letter?

Monday afternoon I sent the following letter to the editor of mindful magazine.

Gentle Editors,

In the December 2016 issue of mindful, the article The Mindful Gift Guide contains the advice, “As consumers we have the power to choose gifts that don’t just speak to those we care about, but that have an impact in the world.”  This is certainly true. Thus, as a writer, I cringed to read the article’s suggestion to “Do a Book Swap:”

“If your family are avid readers, skip the gift-shopping and instead do a book swap…. Each of you walks away with a stack of goodies for little-to-no cost….”

Please be mindful of the reality facing authors, whose income has declined 30% over the past seven years, due to the fact that there are so many ways “for the customer to gain access to a book, without a penny going to the writer.” (The Author’s Guild Bulletin, Fall 2015). The little-to-no-cost you mentioned comes at an increasingly great cost to writers, who receive no payment from used copies or book swaps.

It is logical to assume that avid readers might – or should – respect and care about the labor which produces the books readers admire.  The suggestion should read, “If your family are avid readers, buy them books.”

 

 

mindfulmag

“If your family are avid magazine readers and you’d like their favorite magazines to fail, please give away your copies and discourage people from subscribing to or buying copies of the magazines.”

 

*   *   *

Part 2, Possible Solutions

I don’t have any. DAMN!

Remember, a mere week ago, my rant articulate and passionate explication of the need for dialogue between trump voters and everyone else, and my promise that I’d offer solutions this week? Here’s the rub: I don’t know how to dialogue with someone who can’t understand – or worse yes, doesn’t want to understand – reality.

Differing opinions, fine. You can have your own opinions (as to what facts “feel like” to you); you can’t have your own facts.  As friend CC recently despaired, if someone for whatever reasons will not or cannot be convinced of the reality of global warming by the decades of evidence that climate scientists have amassed, what good is it going to do for them to hear the same evidence coming from me?

What common ground can be trod by a natural world denizen such as moiself who thinks that people should be in charge of their own bodies, and people who believe that female bodily integrity is subject to (overwhelmingly male led) legislation and superstitious/supernatural (read: religious) prohibitions?

More diplomatic minds than mine will have to work on these and other issues.  The only advice I can offer is hardly original, but also the only thing that has ever worked:

Keep aware, and get involved.

Have your legislators’ office numbers on your speed dial.  [1] Avoid compassion fatigue – there will be no shortage of worthy and even urgent causes; pick one or two close to your heart and support them with time and money, the best you can. Be wary of spreading out, and thus diluting, your resources. As one nonprofit manager told me, better to donate five hours of your time and/or $200 dollars per month to one organization than 15 minutes/$20 dollars per month to ten.

Here’s a worthy cause for those concerned with the far right’s anti-science agenda:

  • So cool!
  • Relevant to all the subjects that I teach [Physics, Chemistry, and Biology]
  • A great resource for students
  • Really improves student learning
  • (Shows them) the scale of time
  • Generates a good amount of discussion
  • [Helps our teachers] know and understand how to better teach evolution to students
  • Amazing resource
  • An awesome addition to my classroom

Surprise! – those are not comments from Satisfied Customers ® who’ve recently began following my blog (but thank you for jumping to that conclusion). Rather, they are some of the raves expressed by science teachers  regarding a superb teaching resource from The Brights. The Evolution Poster Project‘s poster, “Earth and Life: changes over time,” helps students visualize and learn about the scale of evolution by uniquely depicting the course of biological and geological evolution from 13.7 billion years ago until today.

 

 

 

brightsposter

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of At Least I Have One Thing About Which To Feel Smug

“It’s terrible. I don’t think it sells a single book.  I don’t think social media sells anything.”
(author Ayelet Waldman, in the Writer, on using Twitter as a marketing tool)

A few weeks ago the Twitter universe  [2]  got its collective knickers in a knot  [3] over yet another literary defection from their ranks. Author Chelsea Cain, interviewed on the OPB program Think Out Loud, talked about her decision to deactivate her Twitter account.  [4]

Despite the urging of select publishers and PR people to pursue more social media “exposure,” I long ago made the decision to not expose moiself to the opinions (whether praise or slag) of strangers. Thus, I skipped the first step in what seems to have become almost a literary ritual:

  • join ______ (insert social media site name)
  • amass site followers
  • pen an article/sit for an interview about “Why I am Leaving ____ (social media site).”

 

 

twitter

 

When you’re a writer, the thinking is that you simply must have a social media presence. But is that even true? In the six-plus years I’ve been writing for pay as my exclusive revenue stream, I can’t think of a single time social media got me a job.
I’m also not terribly interested in interacting with my readers, or even knowing they exist. Sorry, guys. The one or two of you that are cool to meet don’t outweigh the legions of semi-literate lunatics still emailing me at least once a month over an article I wrote about hating Pearl Jam four years ago.
(“Why I Left Social Media,” www.manmade.com )

 

By simply not joining Twitter, I never had to worry about how to deal with the distraction, the hate mail, and – special bonus for authors with lady parts! misogyny and death threats.  But, dang, I am thereby disqualified for any future Why I Quit Twitter gigs. Another lucrative career opportunity down the drain.

Still, I treasure the rare opportunity to feel smug. Also, according to computer science professor Cal Newport, you don’t have to be a writer to benefit from stopping the massive time and intellect suck  eschewing the energy drain of social media (my emphases).

Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters. A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.
…. you’re deluding yourself if you think that Twitter messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time. If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone, close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.
(Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend On It, Cal Newport, writing in the NY Times)

 

*   *   *

To those trump supporters who posted links to the I Am. article on Facebook, and a personal appeal to the article’s author:

iampng

I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. I am not a misogynist. I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family….I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless.

 

Blogger Cassie Hewlett wrote the I Am article to “highlight what it felt like to be a Republican college student” after the election:

On November 9th, I went to class and in every single one there was a somber attitude. Pre-lecture discussions were filled with phrases like “I am scared for our future”, “I am scared to be gay”, “How did this happen?”

Ms. Hewlett, I don’t know you, but assume you are around my daughter’s age, and thus am disposed toward viewing you kindly. I will assume you are well-intentioned. And I can’t help but wonder, do you really understand why, post-election, a somber attitude permeated your classrooms?

I am aware that many Republicans did not intend to vote in malicious, fear-mongering, sexist, racist, homophobic ways. I hope you in turn are aware that your party’s candidate campaigned on malicious, fear-mongering, sexist, racist and homophobic platforms and rhetoric, and that this fact is very personal to the majority of us who cast their votes for the other candidates.

You write, I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. Your candidate has:

*  chosen as his Vice President one of the most anti-LGBT rights politicians around.  Pence has been listed as one of the top “villains” on gay and civil rights watch lists for years – this is not mere current election political trash-talking.

* casually admitted to and joked/bragged about committing sexual assault, consistently dismissed and ranked women – including his own daughter – according to their physical attributes, and said he would appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn my right to make medical decisions about my body.

* told anti-gay conservatives he’d appoint SCOTUS justices who would overturn gay marriage  [5]

* called Mexicans rapists and said that an American judge could not do his job because of his Mexican heritage.

* declared he wants to register all Muslims in the US.

Your candidate has, for crying out loud, been endorsed by the KKK and other white supremacist, Neo-Nazi and secessionist groups.

You are not racist; You are not homophobic; You are not sexist. But Your Candidate has said and done all of these things, and more. Your Candidate‘s blatant and consistent appeal to racist, homophobic and sexist sentiments are not the reasons you voted for him, but his racist, homophobic and sexist appeals did not stop you from voting for him. Thus, the “somber attitude” you detected.

 

 

imnotracist

 

 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
(variously attributed)

I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family.

Sure, Mussolini may have been a fascist dictator who outlawed contraception, raised penalties for abortion, regulated women’s clothing and banned homosexual acts,  used chemical weapons in Africa,  muzzled the free press and imprisoned his political opponents and executed prisoners without trial….but he made the trains run on time.

You personally may not consider yourself racist or bigoted, but you who are willing to overlook – who have the privilege to overlook – a candidate’s bigotries because he supports policies which you’ve decided are of greater/personal good for yourself scares the living feces out of moiself.

Please, Ms. Hewlett (and other self-described non-bigoted trump supporters), remember that talk is cheap. Your words disavowing personal prejudice are cold comfort considering the rise in hate crimes  [6] since the election.  I’m glad you protest that you are not one of the haters; I challenge you to prove your protestation by holding your candidate accountable for the consequences of his rhetoric.

One more thing, Ms. Hewlett: fire your graphic designer.  [7]  Re the GOP elephant-USA flag symbol used to illustrate your article, the stars are [8]  sideways/upside down/backwards (read: just plain wrong). Star points in the USA flag face up, not down.

 

flagstars

Like this.

*   *   *

Department Of It Didn’t Quite Come Out The Way I’d Intended,
But You Know What I Meant To Say

MH was considering whether or not he wanted to make soup for our Thanksgiving potluck dinner we hosted.  He asked for moiself’s advice, as I have been on a soup making kick recently. I went through my notes, trying to find a soup that everyone coming to the dinner would like and, more importantly, that everyone could eat – food preferences and sensitivities among the attendees include severe tree nut, peanut and seed allergies, gluten and dairy sensitivities and “plant-based flexitarian” [9] preferences.

I found just such a soup, a recent culinary experiment of mine that turned out well, if I do say so myself (and I just did).  “Here’s one!” I crowed to MH, pointing to my notes in excitement. “There’s nothing in this soup that anyone could eat!”

 

 

bad-soup

*   *   *

May you dialogue when you can;
May you be mindful of choices which may benefit you yet be costly to others;
May you have (at least) one thing about which to feel smug;
May your soup be suitable for all;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

And a belated but sincere Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Phone calls are more effective than emails or signing on-line petitions.

[2] I know, I know, it’s the “Twitterverse,” but I just can’t bear to use that term.

[3] For a couple of days or so – which is the equivalent of years to many users of the website, who have the attention spans one might expect of people who limit their reflections to 140 characters.

[4] Simply put, for her, the negatives came to outweigh the positives.

[5]I am for my family,” you wrote. What about other people’s families? Overturning gay marriage would dismantle thousands of families, including, to make it personal, that of my daughter’s favorite teacher.

[6] Documented by the FBI, and civil rights groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center.

[7] Or yourself, if that’s the case.

[8] Like the reasoning of trump supporters, IMHO.

[9] Eats certain seafood items, but no meat or dairy products.

The Umbrella I’m Not Raising

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Department Of Welcome To The Kakistocracy

Thanks to observant friend SCM, I was alerted to Monday’s regrettably appropriate word of the day (via the wordsmith folk):

kakistocracy

PRONUNCIATION: (kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)

MEANING: noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829.

USAGE: “We must weigh our votes carefully. Else we are in danger of turning America’s time-tested democracy into a kakistocracy.”
Dan Warner; The Best Man for the Job Is Not as Easy as it Sounds; The News Press (Fort Myers, Florida); Jan 17, 2016.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m No Bridge Expert…

…in fact, I’ve never played the game, not once. But I may take it up, because I’m pretty sure it includes moments when you get to yell, “NO TRUMP!”

 

 

camel

*   *   *

Department Of Okay, So My Rising Above Needs Fine Tuning

I’ve read some amazing and touching exchanges friends have had with their children, about the election. These children are old enough to have heard the odious comments coming from trumpsters and young enough to be confused about how “the man who always yells mad” and “the bad bad guy” won.

One young mother I am privileged to know, who consistently – i.e., not just during election or other trying times –  models positive messages to her two sons, related the following dialog with the “elder” (~ age 3) boy, when he asked her why people voted for someone who “is not kind.”

Wise Loving Mother: “There are a lot of reasons, and I don’t really know all of them. I’m pretty confused too, and I’m a little bit scared and sad. I want you to know it’s okay to feel that way.”

Loving And Confused Son: “Okay.”

WLM: “I also want you to know that you might see a lot of people feeling scared and sad today, and it is your job today and every day to be kind, to be a helper, and to love people just the way they are.”

LACS: “Yeah mom I am a kind helper.”

WLM: “If you see somebody who looks or acts different than you, who has a different color skin, speaks a different language, and they are feeling scared, or somebody is hurting their feelings or bodies, what do you think you can do to help?”

LACS: “I can give them a hug, I can ask them what’s wrong. I can say STOP IT to a bad guy.”

WLM: “That’s right. That is so important for you to do. And know that me and Dad and all the people who love you will do the same thing, and that we will always help you and do what we can to keep you safe.”

LACS: “K mom. Because I love you and you love me.”

WLM: “That’s right. And we love the people around us.”

LACS: “Yeah, yep. We do that.”

 

 

rainbowsloth

 

 

 

I feel like hugging a rainbow baby sloth after reading that, and I hope you do, too.

That’s the kind of Wise And Responsible Counsel In The Face Of Adversity ® (most) parents strive for. It’s also the kind of advice that is more difficult to give, IMHO, the older your children get. Once your kids reach A Certain Age ©, you can’t sugarcoat reality with well-meaning messages about confused fearful people who do things from misplaced fear and anger. They can figure out for themselves the need to raise the shitstorm umbrella. Or, as we do in Oregon, don the shitstorm hat . [1]

 

rainhat

This.

umbrella

And not this.

 

Yet again, I digress.

My offspring are young adults of A Certain Age. Son K graduated college and lives and works not far from us; daughter Belle is a college junior. Both hold passionate and compassionate convictions; both are pro-science advocates, pro civil and feminist and LGBTQ rights, and enthusiastic supporters of Senator Sanders; both subsequently Did The Right Thing ® and voted for Clinton…. Thus, both are understandably distraught about and disgusted with last week’s election results.

MH and I try to offer them words of perspective and comfort, even as we deal with our own disappointments and fears. My efforts – well, I think they need a little work.

Message from daughter Belle last week, a day after the election:

Belle: ugh i hate seeing people wearing those stupid make America great again hats on campus. Why do they go to this school?

Moiself: oh dear…. Well, as Michelle Obama advised, when they go low, we go high. And if going high means we walk around silently but reverently hoping that the largest sea gull on record has a bout of herring-induced diarrhea while flying over someone wearing such a cap, well then, so be it.

*   *   *

Department of Temporary Reprieve From The Stench of Politics

As (what would turn out to be) the heart-piercing election approached, I received brief respite from my worries via a story about another kind of piercing. Friend KW empathized with my recently shared opinions re body piercings, [2] which prompted me to share this memory with him:

I have two piercings in each ear, the first pair of holes acquired in college when one of my apartment-mates sputtered one November evening, “Could you please get your goddamned ears pierced so I’d know what to get you for Christmas?!”  She was frustrated by the fact that I wore no jewelry and wasn’t into accessories or clothing (I wasn’t a nudist, but you get the idea) so there were no inexpensive items that came to mind re getting me a present.

The second ear holes were also somewhat spontaneous: I accompanied a friend and her mother to a mall. Friend’s Mom, after years of wearing (but hating) clip-on earrings, wanted to get her ears pierced, but balked when we went to the jewelry shop. I assured her the procedure was almost pain-free; FM still balked…she sooo wanted to have it done and was embarrassed by her squeamishness. To prove that it was no big deal, I had mine done again, in front of her.

Here’s something I haven’t thought of in years. My mom said, in her later years, that she’d wished she’d had her ears pierced. She’d noticed that “all the interesting earrings” were for pierced ears; the earrings she’d acquired during her young adult years were all clip-on, all painful to wear. When she expressed her regret to me, I reminded her of something she’d said when I was in high school, about who wore what kind of jewelry. She’d said she hoped none of her girls would get their ears pierced, because she’d been told that having pierced ears was “primitive,” and something “only Catholics and Mexicans get done.”

 

 

earrings

Actually, I’m an atheist Swede with a Ph.D.

*   *   *

Department Of Sorry But It’s Back To the Festering Turdbucket of Politics
Kudos For Susan Sarandon, Who Somehow Managed To Not Vote With Her Vagina

Part 1: The Dilemma

“Not everyone that voted for trump is a sexist or a racist,. How many times does the vote not have to go our way before we realize that our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults?”
(“Jonathan Pie,” aka British actor/comic Tom Walker)

I apologize to actor Susan Sarandon, for suggesting last week that she perform a physiological impossibility. I should have used my inside words to express my frustration with Sarandon et al, who threw away used their votes to express their frustration with both major party candidates.

Excuse me while I take a moment to allay the gonad-rattling astonishment that comes from doing something I never, in my wildest nightmares, would have believed I’d be doing: referring to donald trump as a major party candidate. [3]

 

catbarf

 

 

 

BTW: The non-capitalization of the surname is intentional. As writer Bryan Vale [4]  put it, in his spot-on  The Writers Rules for resisting trump, “Never capitalize his name. trump has shown no respect to others, so he deserves none for himself. He lost his proper-noun privileges.”

Okay; soldiering on.

I understand Sarandon’s ardent support for Bernie Sanders, and share (most of) her opinions about the DNC. I also understand many of the reasons why she voted the way she did: she did not like Hillary Rodham Clinton’s policies, did not find HRC progressive enough (or at all)…. Thus, for her, voting for HRC would have involved doing so primarily because HRC is a woman. As Sarandon so memorably put it, “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

Ironically, those who felt the same have helped put in power a party that would like nothing better than to control Sarandon’s – and all women’s – va-jay-jays.

At the beginning of the campaign Sarandon, along with moiself and many Sanders supporters, feared that HRC, despite her many years of championing and working for admirable causes, was too conservative, too much business as usual, too baggage-laden, to be an effective candidate. Once Bernie was out, who/what was left to offer a radical change  – or even just the shock to the system that so many voters on both/all sides of the debates seemed to be looking for?

Ms. Sarandon was right, about many things. She was wrong, about other things. As were we all.

I still think Sarandon made the mistake of not holding her nose and voting for the one who had the best chance of defeating That Other One.  [5]  Turns out too many of us didn’t think HRC even needed a “the best chance” – we thought it was a sure thing. We were too complacent, too clueless, to get why all of the polls, why all of our “common sense,” could be misplaced. We were taken by surprise, because the question we kept asking – How could Anyone vote for such an obvious demagogue/racist/misogynist/xenophobe/scientific, political and cultural ignoramus/ nationalist bully !? received no truthful answers because Anyone didn’t trust us to listen.

I’m serious here: one of the more right-on explanations of the USA’s election debacle can be found in the antic, epic rant of a British comedian (Tom Walker, via his satirical leftwing, potty-mouthed persona, “Jonathan Pie”). To wit: Trump’s victory is rightly attributed to the “…penchant of leftwing social justice warriors to hurl insults at their opponents, stifle political debate, and label anyone who disagrees with them as sexist and racist.”

A partial transcript (my emphases):

The left is responsible…because the left have now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable. We don’t debate anymore because the left won the cultural wars. So if you’re on the right, you’re a freak. You’re evil. You’re racist. You’re stupid. You are a basket of deplorables. How do you think people are going to vote if you talk to them like that? When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted or labeled?

So now if you are on the right or even against the prevailing view, you are attacked for raising your opinion. That’s why people wait until they’re in the voting booth…there’s no blame or shame or anything, and you can finally say what you really think, and that is a powerful thing.

And all the polls were wrong….when asked, people can’t admit what they think….They’re not allowed to!…We’ve made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down. Every time someone on the left says, “You mustn’t say that,” they contribute to this culture.

It time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse, trying to silence them. It’s time to stop banning people from speaking in universities. It’s time to stop thinking that reposting an article on Facebook is political engagement…. that reading The Guardian doesn’t make you a liberal…(and that)….re-tweeting Green Peace doesn’t lower your carbon footprint.

And if my mansplaining is triggering you, you can either fuck off to your safe space or you can engage and debate me and tell me what I’m getting wrong. Because Trump just won the White House. Being offended doesn’t work anymore. Throwing insults doesn’t work anymore. The only thing that works is fucking bothering, doing something, and all you have to do is engage in the debate. Talk to people who think differently to you and persuade them of your argument. It’s so easy, and the left have lost the art. Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid, and talk to them, persuade them otherwise because if you don’t. I’ll tell you what you get – you get President Donald Trump.

You should watch the video, if you haven’t already. You might not like it; it might make you uncomfortable. It should.

 

 

 

The tape reminded of conversations MH and I had early on, [6] about the possible presidential candidates (neither of us wanted to go back to the Clinton-Bush era…remember when Jeb Bush was considered the likely GOP nominee?), then later, about the fact that neither of us knew the “real reasons” why anyone would support trump and why do trump supporters say they like him but then don’t articulate their reasons why…and why were the polls wrong – because people lied, and why did they do that? In part, because they didn’t want to be labeled a racist misogynist or….

Make no mistake, I have Absolutely. No.  Doubt. that a significant number (if not a majority) of trump supporters hold racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, alt-right religious feelings and opinions. But not all of them. trump supporters who do not (or claim not to) share those opinions took the pollsters by surprise – they wanted to vote against what they saw as a corrupt system more than they wanted to support trump himself, whom, they felt, offered the only option to give “a thunderous repudiation of the status quo.” [7]

“The Left” and Progressives lost this election. In so many ways, the proverbial ball was dropped. For example, we’ve known for years that the Electoral College system is a disenfranchising institution – a antiquated, dangerous relic of the slave era…and have done piddly-piss-squat to repeal or reform it.  [8] After the election debacle of 2000, Senator-elect Hillary Clinton pledged to help abolish the Electoral College…then did nothing. She failed to act on that pledge, a failure that must haunt her now, as her lead in the popular vote count exceeds 700,000 votes.  [9]

Ultimately, even accounting for the sexism she faced – from both supporters and detractors [10]  – Hillary Clinton was not a good candidate. [11]  Given the alternative, I was a (less than enthusiastic) supporter…as indicated by these bumper stickers I found for our cars.

 

 

hillary

 

 

So.  I am going to give a collegial if somewhat cynical nod to the safety pin you wear on your shirt [12] even as I question the efficacy if not the sincerity of what I consider to be non-action “actions” of solidarity. Translation: “checking in” on Facebook at Standing Rock doesn’t mean you are actually putting your body on the line with the Standing Rock protesters. Clicking like on your friend’s FB post about not defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t worth a warm pitcher of spit if you don’t put your money where your thumbs up is – if you do not follow your likes with consistent financial support and political action that thumbs up might as well be up your own ass.

*   *   *

 

Tune in next week, suckers for punishment, sports fans,  for Part 2: the Solutions.  Yes, as an alternative to continued kvetching, moiself will try to provide some answers. Or failing that, something more entertaining than politic-talk (elephant seal fart jokes, anyone?).

 

 

*   *   *

May you rise above as best you can;
May your actions speak louder than your clicks;
May you don the necessary shitstorm protection garments of your choice;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Umbrellas are for wimps and tourists.

[2] Which I shared in a recent post…for which I was roundly, soundly and articulately chastised.

[3] For any elected office, much less POTUS.

[4] Full disclosure: my nephew, who just happens to be a talented writer in his own right.

[5] A friend of mine, too disgusted to utter his name, refers to him as PuJu, for “Putin Junior.”

[6] Minus (most of the) Adult Language ® .

[7] The Financial Times.

[8] Whining about it is not meaningful.

[9] This makes her the fifth candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election (Al Gore in 2000; Andrew Jackson in 1824; Samuel Tilden in 1876; Grover Cleveland in 1888).

[10] Male candidates are not obsessed over re their “likeability,’ ad nauseum.

[11] “…cozying up to the banks and dry-humping corporations for years…” (Jonathan Pie)

[12] Ostensibly to show support for those frightened by Trump’s election and to declare themselves as allies to immigrants and minorities and LGBTQ and against racism, sexism and xenophobia….

The Tomatillos Salsa I’m Not Making

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Department Of A Star Is Born

The prevalence of female vanity is legendary and, like most legends, largely fictional. Counterpoint stories of men going to extremes to make their boy-selves attractive – or caring about such at all – are viewed as anomalies, despite data and anecdotes to the contrary. As per the latter, of the four Parnell offspring (three girls and one boy) constituting my Nuclear Family ®, the only one of us who ever stayed home from school because of a perceived bad hair day was my brother. [1]

Yep, there’s a point I’m getting to.  Or rather, yet another anecdote.

Dateline: yesterday morning. Returning from my am walk, I passed a group of four Hispanic boys who were walking down the middle of the street, headed toward the nearby junior high. They were talking loudly amongst themselves in spanglish – loudly because one of the boys was about forty feet ahead of the other three. The lone/lead boy turned around, crooked his arm and called back to the group, urging them to catch up with him. One of the three replied in English, “I don’t want to run because it’ll mess up my hair.”

It was all I could do to stop myself from turning around to get a look at the no-mess-worthy hair, and say, Kid, you don’t know it but you’re gonna be the star of my blog.

 

 

badhair

Yet another no-fuss, man-style hairdo.

*   *   *

Department Of Belated Good Riddance….

To Phyllis Schafly, anti-feminist, anti LGBTQ rights, religious conservative activist. Schafly, who earned the title One of History’s Worst Homophobes in this article by The Advocate, “…spent a lifetime trying to prevent LGBT people from gaining equality, while spreading an onslaught of falsehoods — and she did all of it despite having a gay son.”

Most famous for her strident anti-ERA/anti women’s rights agenda, Schafly was the creepiest kind of conservative: one whose blinkered, religion-tainted world view made her guilty of what is, IMHO, one of the worst of human errors: ingratitude. Schafly profited and benefited from the work of feminists – women and men who fought the fights so that a woman could, as Schafly did, attend college and law school and be taken seriously (and earn money) as a political activist, commentator and author – and then devoted her professional life to dissing feminism and feminists.

On the bright side, ’tis possible that the self-loathing misogynist jibberish rhetoric of Ms. Schafly created more women’s rights advocates than the writings of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and bell hooks combined.

 

 

phyllis

*   *   *

Department Of What’s Your Favorite Not My

A couple of friend and I were recently sharing stories of what had been, for each of us, one of the surprise benefits  [2] of becoming a parent. Mine was this: once I had children I found myself rarely irritated or offended by being in proximity to other people’s children misbehaving in public. The kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store or restaurant; the toddlers going ballistic on a flight as the place begins its landing descent – it just didn’t bother me the way it had in my pre-parenthood days.

I was flummoxed the first few times it happened – the first time I realized that, instead of being annoyed by the boy who’d just howled bloody murder and made a Frisbee of his personal size pizza, I felt something like…could it be…liberation?.  By the fourth or fifth time, the aha moment sunk in. I realized that my lack of irritation was in small part due to my empathy for the child’s parents (IF I felt they were handling the situation correctly [3]) and in large, gigantanormous part  because it wasn’t my kid acting up and thus I was relieved of the responsibility of dealing with the situation. As I put it to my friends, “Not my monkey; not my circus.”

 

 

tantrum

“Paging Ringling Brothers, aisle three, come get your monkey.”

 

The morning after that conversation, I awoke with this thought on my mind: Why have other Not my… scenarios not attained a recognized shorthand for the you-don’t-have-to-fix-everything meme?

* Not my cowboy; not my rodeo.

* Not my buffalo; not my stampede.

* Not my ice block; not my igloo.

* Not my cat turd; not my litter box.

* Not my lunatic; not my asylum.

* Not my urine sample, not my steroid scandal.

* Not my Focke-Wulf; not my Luftwaffe.

* Not my parish priest; not my sexual abuse settlement.

* Not my RMS Titanic; not my Trump-for-President campaign.

Just wondering.

 

 

rodeo

Someone else handle this, please.

*   *   *

The Tomatillos Are Calling

Now there’s a sentence I’ve heretofore not written. Nor even imagined, I imagine (no, wait….). But there it was, on a continuous loop or so it seemed, from late Saturday night through Sunday morning.

I tried to blame my insomnia on the mundanities [4]  of life…but it wasn’t the concern for the surfeit of produce from the week’s CSA bag (aka, what-am-I-gonna-do-with-all-of-these-tomatillos?) that had me waking up every two hours with those wretched, what did we miss/what could we have done? thoughts.

 

 

tomatillos

Don’t blame us, lady. Not your tomatillos; not your salsa.

 

 

Instead, it turns out that pesky subconscious mind o’ mine was ruminating on the approaching one year anniversary of A Very Dark Time Of Fear And Sadness ®  for our nuclear and extended family, which included but was not limited to the death of MH’s beloved father.

Just get past that day has been my mantra for this past week; thus, the relative brevity of this week’s post. For which there may be much rejoicing in the blog-reading world.

 

*   *   *

May you rejoice in the true mundanities of life;
May you be entitled to use (but never abuse) the occasional bad hair day defense;
May you remember to act when it is your monkey/your circus;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] My mother confirmed this, a long time ago when she confided in/complained to me about why my brother was staying home from high school that day – he was faking illness (she’d gotten him to admit this), because he didn’t like the way his hair looked. And this was not the first time he had done so.

[2] That is, a plus or perk which you totally did not anticipate.

[3] And if they were not, well then, I could self-righteously participate in that most American of pastimes: judging other people’s parenting skills.  So, win-win.

[4] Yep, that word has been added to my dictionary.

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

2 Comments

 

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.

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