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The Award I’m Not Accepting

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Oh, please, shut up already!

Son K smirked in solidarity when I yelled at the woman who was speechifying on television. “This is the kind of person,” he said, gesturing at the TV, “who gives social justice warriors a bad name.”

Let me set the stage: you are watching a stage, a stage from which, you sense, there is going to be a Pontificating Moment. You are, for whatever reasons, *** watching an awards show on TV. Not one of those candy-ass People’s Choice imitations, but one of the “biggies” – The Oscars; The Tonys; The Emmys (it usually doesn’t happen at The Golden Globe Awards, because the participants are too tipsy to be serious).  The winner’s name is called; they feign surprise, make their way to the stage, clutch their trophy…and you can see the warning light flash in their eyes. Instead of a heartfelt thanking of family and friends, or a recitation of an interminable laundry list of industry asses to kiss, [1]  they’ve decided to take advantage of the situation and torture a captive audience make the stage their platform and educate (read: lecture) a global broadcast audience.

 

facepalm

Please…make it not so.

 

I refer of course to last Sunday’s 2016 Emmy Awards, and the full-of-herself windbag excited winner in the My Show Is More Smugly Diverse Than Yours Best Director of A Comedy Series category, Jill Soloway, creator of the Amazon series, Transparent.

*** Before I continue with my rant thoughtfully considered illumination of a cultural phenomenon, let me explain the afore-mentioned You are, for whatever reasons, watching an awards show on TV.  The whatever reasons in my house = what has turned into a family tradition: watching an entertainment awards show on TV whilst dining [2] on “movie food.” Movie food is defined as hot dogs, popcorn, nachos,  Skittles and Junior Mints and Red Vines licorice and/or your favorite movie theatre candies and snacks, washed down with liberal amounts of a sparkling beverage.

Our family friend LAH has been part of our tradition for years, and she joined MH and I on Sunday, along with our son, K. Responsible College Graduate And Gainfully Employed Young Man ®  that he is, K no longer lives at home but could not pass up the opportunity for an Awards Night Movie Food Dinner ©  [3] …even though a few of us ANMFD participants (read: everyone but K) now try to lower the life-shortening effects of authentic movie food by substituting tofu/veggie dogs and/or burgers for the Scary Mystery Meat Sodium Bombs traditional hot dogs.  

 

 

 

tvdinner

 

 

 

Yet again, I digress. Back to the awards show.

I’d only seen one episode of Transparent, and was meh-impressed (trans – no pun intended – lation: Meh as in mehbe I’ll watch another episode, some day, when I’m folding laundry and nothing else is on.). [4] Soloway’s bloated, self-important acceptance speech made me never want to watch another episode of her series, on principle.

Is this person on stage giving an oration about winning an award for a Very Very Very Important…TV comedy? I wondered aloud.  Because her oh-so-serious-and-earnest emoting seems more fitting for a filmmaker documenting a Doctors Without Borders group of volunteers battling an Ebola epidemic.

“…this thing that these people call television, but I call a revolution.”

Yep, the director compared what she does to a revolution – you know, the thing defined as “a (usually) violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one.” I was reminded of advertising hacks who use hyperbole to shill mundane products that are, in fact, anything but world-shattering (“Oral-B-Clean’s Vibra-rama strip is the revolutionary [5]  way to floss!”).

BTW, I hope any Syrian refugees watching the show, or anyone with the misfortune to be involved in an actual revolution, took comfort from realizing that their struggles are comparable to – if less entertaining and worthy of prime time TV coverage than – the subject matter of a TV comedy series.

Soloway ended her sermon speech by raising her trophy aloft and chanting, “Topple the patriarchy! Topple the patriarchy!”

 

 

 

really

 

 

After Soloway’s harangue the Emmy Awards show’s emcee, comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, [6]  had the tricky task of segueing to the next award presentation. Kimmel provided a mood-lightening transition when said he wasn’t sure how to respond: “I’m trying to figure out if ‘topple the patriarchy’ is a good thing for me or not,” he quipped.

Certain Actors, Directors and Show Biz People ©  :  I love you, love your work, even (usually) agree with your politics [7] – I mean, topple the patriarchy, I am so there – but  wise up, please. An entertainment awards show is neither the time nor the place to promote your political or social (or even human rights) agenda.

So. Attention, Self-Important/Self-Anointed Spokespeople For Righteous Causes: yeah, we get it. Just thank the audience and awards presenters, say something nice about your family, then shut up, go backstage, and fondle your trophy.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of When You Don’t Know Which Noun To Use

Last week’s Science Friday program provided a brief but golden moment for us neologism lovers. It featured an interview with Ann Druyan and Frank Drake, two of the creators of Voyager’s Golden Record – the phonograph record collection placed aboard both Voyager probes launched in 1977.

The records were chosen to provide a combination ship-in-a-bottle/time capsule selection of sounds and images to illustrate the variety of Terran life and culture. Drake spoke about having to be careful re what to include: scientists wanted the collection be culturally and scientifically representative…but then there are those prickly human sensibilities to consider: [8]

NASA got nervous, because they knew (including anatomically correct drawings of naked people) could create a big public  _____.”

My mind was a split second ahead, and expected Drake to finish the sentence with either outcry, or uproar, but instead he neologized [9]  outroar.

 

 

 

firstcontact

“Greetings. We made first contact to find out what happened to the naked pictures we so enjoyed on your earlier space probes.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Just Strike Me Every Now And Then

 

One evening last week, as MH and I were doing après-dinner kitchen cleanup, I began singing a song. Seemingly apropos of nothing and without really being aware of what I was doing what it was, I chuckled when I realized I was warbling the Hank Williams classic, ”Your Cheatin’ Heart.

When I was a young child my father would sing to me after reading a bedtime story. Chet Parnell had a nice, mellow singing voice; he loved Hank Williams’ music, and YCH was one of his favorites. I learned to sing along with whatever the song was, although as a three year old I didn’t pay much attention to the words.

Looking back, YCH – a mournful song about cuckolded husband predicting heartache for his straying wife – was an odd choice for a bedtime lullaby. But it wouldn’t have mattered if it were an ode to the sinking of the Titanic – it wasn’t the lyrics that meant so much to me then…or now. It was that my daddy sang me to sleep.

 

 

 

*   *   *

May your acceptance speeches be short and sweet;
May your hopes and dreams be Golden Record-worthy;
May you not shuffle off this mortal coil without having sung someone to sleep;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] “I’d like to thank my long-suffering agent, my genius publicist, my courageous accountant…”

[2] In the loosest definition of the term.

[3] Plus, I bribed him with homemade guacamole.

[4] Okay, when MH – or someone else, anyone else in this house – is folding laundry. Homey don’t play that.

[5] Is there no one in advertising – surely, at least one English major populates the profession – who actually cares about the definition of words? Can a dental hygiene product – or laundry detergent or weed whacker or shoelace organizer or any consumer product – rightfully be described as revolutionary? I sincerely doubt that governments will be overthrown if people find a new way to pick their teeth.

[6] IMHO all award shows should be hosted by quick-thinking comics who can provide on-the-spot retorts to prick the overinflated ego balloons of award recipients.

[7] It’s that liberal Hollywood elite crowd, after all.

[8] Prudish early ’70’s media criticized NASA over the nudity (line drawings of the figures of a man and woman which, along with other  symbols, were designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft) included on the Pioneer plaque.

[9] Itself a neologism, courtesy of moiself. I’m open to changes in spelling.

The Trigger Warning I’m Not Posting

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Trigger Warning: Anthony Please-somebody-look-at-my Wiener content.

I think Stephen King should consider writing a sequel to Creepshow – this one about the batshit crazy ways of former politician/perpetual political embarrassment of a historical footnote, Anthony Weiner.

After being caught at least twice in sexting scandals, even a self-absorbed tallywhacker tweeter like Señor Schlongbottom Mr. Weiner has got to know that he’s being watched. Is he so passive-aggressive that he cannot openly ask for a divorce but must do something he knows will (finally) force his wife into this-is-the-last-straw mode?

Whatever the reason he does what he does, I can’t help but do the armchair shrink speculation about the pathologies behind such WTF? behavior. If the guy weren’t a politician with a once-promising career he’d be just another third-rate creep slinking around his neighborhood at night, looking for an open ground floor bedroom window in front of which he could flash his not-so-private parts.

“After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life.”
(Huma Abedin, in a press conference announcing her separation from her husband)

Correction, Ms. Abedin, If I may.

Although I’ve no basis for questioning your parental devotion, your spineless weasel of a pecker-brained husband is not “devoted to,” nor apparently even mildly concerned with, doing what is best for your son. Instead, AW set up your son for a life of embarrassment-by-association by texting a lewd crotch shot selfie which included his son in the picture.

 

 

facepalm

 

 

Not to get all science-y on ya, but there is a term used by mental health professionals to describe those people who engage in compulsive paraphilia, such as exposing their genitals to strangers:

ICK.

*   *   *

Department Of Public Service

Trigger warning: warnings about trigger warnings.

Scientists studying mental health have shown that evidence-based practices, such Cognitive Based Therapy and Desensitization or  exposure therapies, have proved to be the most effective treatments for phobias. As one CBT therapist writes (my emphases), “… The natural response to fear is avoidance and escape. Yet the more you attempt to avoid and escape fear (the fight-flight response), the stronger it becomes and the more ground you lose. This is because avoidance blocks your brain’s ability to learn….”

Similar evidence is now emerging to discredit the well-intentioned but often ill-considered practice of trigger warnings.

 

 

triggerwarning

 

 

 

The use of trigger warnings originated in Internet chat rooms and web communities [1] and has spread to blogs [2] and other public writings and forums, and even to newspapers. The TW practice has become especially problematic and controversial in college and university settings, where some self-appointed social justice warriors (which have included both professors and students) have demanded written warnings to alert students that a class may deal with materials covering an increasingly wide range of potentially sensitive subjects, from ethnicity/race, war, torture and genocide to religion, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation,ageism, artistic interpretation, imperialism, aesthetic preferences, colonialism – you know, like, everything the collection of humanity has ever had to deal with.

“Trigger warnings are designed to help survivors avoid reminders of their trauma, thereby preventing emotional discomfort. Yet avoidance reinforces PTSD. Conversely, systematic exposure to triggers and the memories they provoke is the most effective means of overcoming the disorder.”
(Richard J. McNally, Harvard professor of psychology, in a roundup of the research on trigger warnings)

I’ve long been suspicious about TWs, even as I understand the intent behind them. And both of my offspring have relayed situations in college wherein a few of their perfectly functional (if immature and brazenly uninformed), non-PTSD-suffering peers used the “trigger warning” and “creating a safe space” concepts to curtail and even censor the kind of discussions and data analyses college students should be engaging in. [3]

More and more have my suspicions been confirmed by…well…evidence.

“…I have to question whether trigger warnings are in students’ best interests. One of the cardinal symptoms of PTSD is avoidance, which can become the most impairing symptom of all. If someone has been so affected by an event in her life that reading a description of a rape in Ovid’s Metamorphoses can trigger nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks, she is likely to be functionally impaired in areas of her life well beyond the classroom. The solution is not to help these students dig themselves further into a life of fear and avoidance by allowing them to keep away from upsetting material.”
(psychologist Sarah Roff, who specializes in the treatment of trauma, in her article Treatment, Not Trigger Warnings, The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Writer and social activist Dan Savage does a nice/pithy job of summarizing the research (and providing the links to the same) on trigger warnings in his recent article for The Stranger. The article, titled Shut Up About Trigger Warnings…let’s read about them instead, is the source of the above two quotes, and is well worth your read, be you trigger-sensitive, trigger-free or trigger-happy.

 

 

Trigger

Trigger happy – that’s us!

*   *   *

Department Of This Is The Kind Of Thing…

…that makes me want to march in the streets with hipsters wearing ill-fitting, faux fedoras, hurl bricks through bank windows and spout slogans like death to the fascist insect that preys upon the people.

The Epipen price hike scandal.

Capitalism, schmapitalism. It’s fucking medical extortion.

And it was no surprise to read that the (previous?) holder of the title of most hated person in American title – Martin Shkreli, the sneering rapacious, price-gouging grave robber pharmaceutical entrepreneur who upped the cost of life-saving AIDS medication by 5000+ percent – was a-okay with the move. Cause, it’s just business.

 

 

grave_robery1

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Shake Your Groove Thang…Or Just Flaunt Your Groove Ring

In an earlier post I mentioned MH’s and my search for alternatives to – or in our case, replacements for – our metal wedding bands  [4] :

Apparently, it – the market for more functional, versatile alternatives to traditional metal wedding bands  – is a thing, now.
And if it’s a thing that ends up on my and MH’s fingers, you’ll hear about it, here.

Well, the hear is here. Our Groove rings arrived in the mail earlier this week.

MH and I have both admitted to each other that, in the past 18+ months, we’ve grown accustomed to (and in my case, even prefer) not wearing a ring…and that now, it feels [5]strange now to do so. Neither of us had ever worn rings prior to donning our wedding bands, and for me, it was quite an adjustment, always twisting it and blowing under it after washing my hands or while doing feed preparation – even after 25+ years I never fully got used to the feeling that something was “stuck” underneath it.

Still, we both, tentatively, have decided we like our new rings. Also, as MH pointed out, an important consideration/factor in choice, if you have the option, is for your new ring to match one of your cats.

 

 

ring

 

*   *   *

May you live a Wiener-text-free life;
May you not be the subject of anyone’s trigger warning;
May you flaunt your rings as you choose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Mainly/allegedly for the benefit of people suffering from PTSD.

[2] Regular readers of this blog will note that I use both trigger and content warnings. Readers with IQs greater than their shoe size will note that I use such warnings as an illustration of my general distaste for such “alerts.”

[3] If you’re upset with someone presenting evidence and opinions that counter your party line in a discussion in your class on “Gender and Society,” FFS, why are you in such a class in the first place? Stay home, recite your doctrine in front of a mirror while you administer reassuring back pats to yourself, and take Poetry for Non-Poets or Graphic Novel Symbolism and the Post-Madonna Zeitgeist to satisfy your humanities core requirement units.

[4] which MH and I had stopped wearing due to MH’s finger joint irritation.

[5] Time for another footnote. Noooooooooo.

The Chemicals I’m Not Balancing

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Department Of Sometimes I Just Can’t Help Myself

Last week I ordered some Star Trek birthday cards, featuring the visage of Captain Jean Luc Picard, from an Etsy vendor. The vendor emailed me to verify the order:

I just wanted to contact you to say thank you for your order and to confirm your shipping information. So, you would like a set of 5 Star Trek Next Generation Birthday cards, shipped to ______(my address)

I of course had no choice but to respond: Make it so.

 

 

facepalm

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Love Learning New Things

And here are four New Things ®  I’ve recently encountered. [1]  The first, via my “reupping” my volunteer status for C.A.T. (Cat Adoption Team).

 

 

flank

 

 

The typical female kitten or cat is (or once was) spayed via an abdominal incision. For several years now veterinarians have had the option of performing a “flank spay” – which uses a lateral entry. A lateral entry is especially useful for cats that are lactating, as it reduces chances of infection and makes it easier to monitor the incision as the cat does not have to be handled (turned on its back and its tender belly exposed) to do so.

 

 

How intriguing. Do tell us more.

How intriguing. Do tell us more.

 

New thing #2 is the third meaning of the word, abduction.

I was aware of the first two meanings of the word (1. The act of forcibly taking someone somewhere against their will; 2. The movement of a limb or muscle or other body part away from the mid-line of the body), but didn’t know that abduction is also a form of scientific reasoning, abductive  aka inference) reasoning:

…a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation.

 

This came courtesy of a Freethought Radio podcast interview with physicist Sean M. Carroll,

 

 

Get on with it, please.

Get on with it, please.

 

 

New Thing #3: “Your brain has a chemical imbalance.”

That statement always sounded fishy to me, even when I was using it, with family members suffering from depression, to discuss their situation. Sure, it sounds scienc-y…but what does it actually mean?  As it turns out, in cases of brain disorders (aka depression and other mental illnesses), probably nothing, according to professor and psychologist Elliott Ingersoll, [2]. Ph.D. , who has given a provocative TED talk on the subject.

Unlike chemical imbalances in body organs or systems that can actually be measured (e.g. the insulin/blood sugar imbalance in diabetics, which can be measure through blood and urine tests), brain chemistry is highly complex and not completely understood. There is no way to measure levels of neurotransmitters, hormones and other messenger transmitters which may be involved in clinical depression, nor even an agreement on which ones are involved and what a “balance” of those would be.

I spent a decade researching psychopathology and psychopharmacology and neuroscience…but, I kept thinking I was missing something because I never came across what the actual chemicals were in this mysterious ‘chemical imbalance’ everyone kept talking about…. I came to realize that there was no such thing, and that, for years mental health professionals were telling clients, ‘You have a chemical imbalance in the brain,’ (A) there was no way to measure brain chemistry – it’s too complex and you can’t get it through peripheral measures like spinal fluid and, (B) I was more horrified to realize that this was being driven by marketing and pharmaceutical companies….”

(Dr. Ingersoll’s interview with Freethought Radio, 6-5-16

 

There is no New Thing #4.

 

rejoicing

*   *   *

Department Of Kids Say The Darndest Things

Background info to apropos to this Department:

  1. Our annual family Solstice/Christmas/Year’s end letter to family and friends opens with a quote from each family member, chosen by each person to be somehow representative of the year for that particular family member…or to just confuse people.
  1. Son K is reveling in young adulthood: gainfully and happily employed, he’s residing in a house he rents along with four of his friends.

On Monday, apropos of seemingly nothing, K initiated the following exchange via FB Messenger:

K: Okay, my Christmas letter quote will be, “I am the Folks.”

Moiself: Nice to know in advance. I’m sure an explanation will be forthcoming.

K: door to door sales type guy asked if my folks were home and that was my response.

 

 

They are the folks.

They are the folks.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of All Things Must Pass

 

Buh-bye to our Honda Odyssey minivan. It joined our household…over sixteen years ago – can that be?  That’s the longest period of time MH or I have ever had a car.

MH decided to get the van during the height of his company’s stock boom years. While many of his (male) work peers were opting for what Perspicacious Friend ©  SCM describes to her daughter as, The kind of car a man buys when he has a small penis,” MH opted for the Practical Family Car ® . Indeed, the van served our family well over the years, with little output in terms of repairs, until recently, when that mutha Father Time turned it into a new-transmission-needing money pit.

Although I came to see the logic of acquiring a minivan, I was initially and strenuously opposed to the purchase. (“If I want to drive a bus I’ll get a job with Trimet,” I huffed to MH). And then, I found a way to make it  – driving a minivan, FFS – more tolerable to me: I bumper-stickered the holy crap outta that vehicle:

 

 

 

VanBumperStickersArgus

 

 

The above picture was taken (unbeknownst at the time, by me) by a reporter for the now defunct [3]  Hillsboro Argus, and appeared on the paper’s front page, circa late 2009. Although we subscribed to the paper MH and I had no idea the back of our van front page news, until a friend e-alerted us to check out the paper’s latest edition (“That HAS to be your van!”). The photo was accompanied by a sweet – if misleading – caption, written by someone who AS to be yourobviously didn’t read all the stickers:

No Personal politics on display, but a bumper crop of humorous stickers to make fellow motorists smile at stoplights.”

Over the years, after shopping at New Seasons Market or running some other errand, or returning to our van after, say, seeing a movie, we discovered hand-written notes pertaining to our stickers left on the windshield. On more than one occasion I returned to the van as someone was in the process of writing such a note. I enjoyed sneaking up on them, pretending to be Not The Owner, and usually greeted them by indicating the back of the van and cracking, “Get a load of these weirdos, eh?”  to gauge their reaction.

It’s hard to believe, given the political and freethought nature of many of the stickers, that not once did anyone leave a negative comment (or slash our tires). Most of the notes expressed sentiments along the lines of this one, the only one I kept:

 

 

vannoteJPG

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Not Exactly Late Breaking News

 

In fact, I was wondering why it was even considered news, when I read that Rep. Speaker of the Houser Paul Ryan announced he will support Trump.

What an earth-shaking, bone-breaking, tooth-rattling, sphincter clenching surprise that absolutely no one could have predicted: The Republican Party leader announces he will support the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

Please, someone bring me the smelling salts.

DO YOU SEE WHAT GAY MARRIAGE HAS LED TO ?!?!?!?!?!?!?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Snakes on a Plane! ( Actually, in terrariums…. )

That was the subject line in ads MH and I placed on Craig’s List and the FB page for Oregon Reptile Association. We are trying – successfully, if current arrangements go well – to re-home our cornsnake, T’Pol, and ball python, Andy.

The snakes were acquired many years ago by our offspring, along with the late great bearded dragon, Belle (from whom my daughter took her pseudonym for the purposes of this blog).

 

 

Blueberry-loving Belle

Blueberry-loving Belle

 

 

All were captive bred, acquired during the kids’ Reptile Are Cool Years ®  (Belle the BD has since gone to join the great Beardy collective consciousness). In the past couple of years the snakes weren’t getting much pet action, what with son K and daughter Belle out of the house; thus, MH and I decided that finding another home for them was a Nest Cleaning ® thing to do.

 

 

T'Pol on a hot day, enjoying a dip in her water dish.

T’Pol on a hot day, enjoying a dip in her water dish.

 

 

We let K and Belle know of our intentions. [4]  Even as they understand our reasons for re-homing the reptiles, I imagine they’ve a certain sense of poignancy re the matter: another piece of childhood passing by.

 

 

 A rare picture of Andy not curled up into a ball (which ball pythons like to do).

A rare picture of Andy not curled up into a ball (which ball pythons like to do).

 

*   *   *

Department Of Signs Of The Times

The first (and not last, I hope) political yard sign of the season that’s made me laugh.

 

 

suck

 

*   *   *

Department Of Current Events: In Case You Hadn’t Noticed

I am not planning on addressing the case of the Stanford Student/Swimmer who raped an unconscious women in this space. The despicable incident is just now coming to the general public’s attention due to the sentencing of the rapist and the revealing statements from the victim, the rapist’s father, and the rapist himself. I’ve let just a smidgen of my disgust and outrage leak out onto FB, but I just cannot go there…here.

 

*   *   *

May you heed the signs of the times;
May you leave kind notes on other people’s windshields;
May you be able to there when you are here,
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] New to moiself, although other people may find some of these tidbits old nets.

[2] Yep, related to (a great-grandnephew of) the greatest American few people outside of the Freethought and atheist communities have heard of, the 19th century civil rights champion, orator & lawyer Robert G. Ingersoll.

[3] as an actual, as opposed to virtual, community newspaper.

[4] And overrule it, should they be able to provide a home (read: get a landlord’s approval) for one or both snakes.

The Genome I’m Not Sequencing

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And, BTW, neither are you, even if you’ve forked over $199 to 23and Me, Family Tree, and/or the various other genetic testing organizations you can find online. Because…Science. Because…for reasons I’ll get to, soon. But first

 

 

No, not butt first....

No, not butt first….

 

 …a bit of background/digression.

*   *   *

Department Of We Hoped She Was “Just” French

I have a curious (to some people, myself included) lack of interest in my genetic family tree. More curious to me than knowing all about those who have occupied the various limbs of my family tree – aka, blood kin – is my lack of curiosity about the subject.

For whatever reasons, my bloodlines have never mattered much to moiself, in terms of my own self definition/image/worth, and also in terms of other bipeds whom I find interesting and acquaintance-worthy. [1]  Even so, I fully acknowledge, if not fully understand, the existence of a desire which motivates people to research their genetic history via ventures that, IMHO, run the spectrum from harmless interest to absorbing hobby to batshit bonkers obsession.

A recent casual comment made by someone who’d used one of the afore-mentioned DNA testing services testing made me realize I knew little of what the testing companies offer. I felt a brief…gasp…curiosity, re both the process of such testing, and the results. Could genome sequencing possibly shed light on a family mystery regarding a paternal ancestor? Specifically, a Chickasaw or Cherokee [2] who married into the Irish Parnells and whose new family tried to “pass” her (or him) off as white.

 

 Looks like someone else had a story to tell?

Looks like someone else had a story to tell?

 

 

 

Excuse my detour through what I feel compelled [3] to call The History of the Mystery.

From about age four onward – once I got over my blond phase – I heard, at irregular intervals, mildly teasing comments from both family and friends about my “Indian features,” which were attributed by family members to a Native American antecedent on my father’s maternal side of the family

I can’t remember how old I was when my father had told me there was a Cherokee or Chickasaw ancestor on his mother’s side. He also told me he couldn’t remember whether it was his mother’s great grandfather or mother, and that the family records on such matters were scanty and unreliable for many reasons, including the fact that “… people back then changed names and information they thought was embarrassing.”

 

 

Age three or four, as I was transitioning to my true hair color. Fortunately, no need for a separate bathroom.

Age three or four. I was transitioning to my true hair color. Fortunately, no need for a separate bathroom.

 

 

 

The she looks Indian comments became more frequent during my high school years, particularly when I wore my long hair in two braids. The observations didn’t impress me or make me think I was in some way cool or hip (I did not buy into the White People Think It’s Cool To Have Native American Ancestry mentality that seemed to flourish in the late 60s-70s), nor did they bother me. I mostly attributed the remarks to the general lack of imagination (long dark braided hair = Injun, Ke-mo sah-bee!) in what passed for humor [4] amongst my peers. And then, my maternal grandmother, “Bapa,” chimed in, one afternoon during my freshman year of high school.

According to Bapa, my Native American heritage from a great great grandparent  [5] was scant, yet evident enough that Bapa’s friend gave Bapa a warning. Friend of Bapa  advised Bapa to take down the framed picture of me Bapa had on her coffee table, because said picture emphasized my “Indian-features.”

 

REALLY

 

 

Yes, really.

Bapa laughed conspiratorially when she told me what her friend had said. I laughed in turn, then asked Bapa what she knew about the possible Indian-featured member of my family. “Oh, well,” Bapa sighed, “There isn’t much to know.” [6]

A few years after Bapa’s youngest child (my mother) was married (to my father) it was somehow revealed to Bapa [7] that there was Indian blood on my father’s side of the family (“It doesn’t show in your father, but you can tell by looking at pictures of his mother.”)[8] It was an Indian woman, Bapa thought, although one of my father’s sisters had tried to reassure the family that the ancestor was “maybe just French.”

I was able to question my father’s youngest sister (keeper of the family tree information) about our Native antecedent only once before she died  [9] . She said, in that lovely Tennessee twang of hers and totally sans tongue in cheek, that she’d “…heard from a reliable source that the story was unreliable.”  [10].  She then made a funny face, lowered her voice said that, yes, her Mama had once admitted to having some Indian blood “back there,” maybe Cherokee but “most likely” Chickasaw, but that “we were thinking” (the tone of her voice implied, we were hoping) “it wasn’t Indian,  just French.”

 

 

 

 

No, please, anyone but the French....

No, please, anyone but the French….

*   *   *

We Now Return You To Our Regular Scheduled Babbling Programming

 

I checked out a couple of genetic testing sites, and almost immediately lost interest when I read their come-on tags – teasers meant to exploit our culture’s wide-ranging celebrity obsession (Could you be related to someone famous?).

 

 

avengerstreejpg

 

Further interest was lost via having some of my concerns about the prematurity of the science of genetic testing confirmed when I listened to a recent StarTalk podcast.

The Promise and Peril of the Genomic Revolution is a fascinating interview with both a researcher in the field of genetic testing – bioethicist Robert Kitzman – and also someone trying to profit by popularize the testing among the non-scientifically inclined public – Anne Wojcicki, CEO and co-founder of the genetic testing company 23andMe .

You are made of cells. And the cells in your body have 23 pairs of chromosomes.
Your chromosomes are made of DNA, which can tell you a lot about you. Explore your 23 pairs today. 
Find out what your 23 pairs of chromosomes can tell you.
(from www.23andMe.com )

 

Wojcicki, of course, wants you to use her services, and thus touts how such testing is “empowering individuals to take more control of their own healthcare and to benefit from increased understanding of their own genome.”

Except that no genetic testing company allows you to sequence your entire genome, nor even come close to “understanding” it.  Dr. Kitzman brought up the seemingly little-known (amongst the scientific laity) yet major point that people who contract the services of genetic testing companies mistakenly think they are getting their entire genome sequenced.  

Another concern…there are 3 billion letters (in a human genome). 23andMe is not looking at all 3 billion letters. What they’re doing is looking at one out of every several hundred thousand letters. Imagine a wall of books…what they’re doing is saying we’re going to take one book, we’re going to give you the first letter on every three pages. So the first letter is A, three pages letter the first book is a C, three pages later the first letter is T…you don’t know what kind of book you’re reading… What 23andme is now doing is just giving you one one-thousandth of the information that’s there, so there are going to be false positives, false negatives, there are going to be problems understanding it….”
( Robert Kitzman, StarTalk, 4-29-16 )

The literary analogy: well, then. What do you have, and how can you tell? Are you previewing Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking? A surah from the Koran? A Quentin Tarentino script (no, lawdy, take me now)?

As to such testing’s application to healthcare  [11] : the science, while amazing, is still in its relative infancy, and, as the podcast warns, there are real and serious “…limitations of what we do and don’t know at this very early stage in what is proving to be a much more complicated process than we used to believe.” Given the dangers of false positives and false negatives, tread lightly, y’all.

So. Having my genome sequenced, for whatever reason? I’m not ruling it out; perhaps, Someday For Some Reason ®. But for now, I’ll be content with letting that Cagey Chickasaw Chick – I mean of course, Furtive French Femme – lurk in the not-too-far-distant background. Or, my braids, if I ever have them again.  [12]

 

 

cclown

*   *   *

Department Of Moments That Scream, Inspiration

I recently finished reading a book about the history of Los Angeles punk rock. The book is composed of twenty-four chapter length stories and essays about the infamous west coast scene (circa 1977-1982) by ~ fifteen narrators/participants of that era. I came away from the read with three impressions:

(1) I found it appropriate that the book’s chapters were as varied (read: uneven) in competency and coherency of their prose as the punk bands described therein were as per their musical talent and artistic vision.

(2) Vying for Best Musical Trivia Ever ®  is the following passage from the book, on how the band The Germs got their name:

They were proudly wearing their new mustard-yellow band T-shirts, emblazoned in velvet iron-on letters GERMS. The shirts had been made at a store where they charged by the letter, and their first choice of band name, Sophistifuck and the Revlon Spam Queens, simply wasn’t affordable.
(Chapter 5, Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of LA Punk )

(3) There is no impression #3.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Combinations That Call For Consuming Anti-Vertigo Medications

After finishing When Breath Becomes Air, the profoundly moving memoir of a young physician’s journey into what-makes-life-worth-living-and-what-the-heck-is-life-anyway territory after he receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, I couldn’t start another book for several weeks. Then when I did, I ping-ponged between the afore-mentioned expository of the LA Punk Scene and Secular Meditation: 32 Practices For Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion, And Joy.

 

 

punkmeditation

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be able to include Spam when naming some venture in your life; [13]  
May that blip on your genome turn out to be just French,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I’m not going to be predisposed to like a person, or find them more or less interesting or valuable, just because we are supposedly “related.”

[2] Chickasaw or Cherokee – I’ve heard/read different attributions.

[3] By the spirit of the love child of Jesse Jackson and Johnnie Cochrane.

[4] I never took the comments to be insulting, regardless of the commenter’s true intentions. One time there was an implied derogation:  a friend (who had a German last name) called me squaw, as if flinging an epithet. I informed him of the origins of his surname and called him a Nazi. Ah, the compassionate maturity of youth.

[5] Or more…not sure how many great-greatss, as the available family tree info is less than helpful.

[6] Despite her protestations, she’d obviously known enough of something to tell a friend about it.

[7] Bapa was sketchy on details, and like the rest of my family’s older generation, was reluctant to talk about it.

[8] Make that picture, singular. Like the rest of our family, Bapa had seen only one picture of my father’s mother: a tiny, grainy shot of my father’s mother and father and their brood, lined up against their ramshackle tenant farmer’s shack. I don’t know how you could “tell” anything from that picture, except that my father’s mother was a poor farm woman who had too many children.

[9] So difficult to get those pesky dead people to cough up any details.

[10] Mere words cannot describe how much I loved her phrasing, nor how difficult it was to keep a straight face when she said that.

[11] The more nobler excuse/rationale for such testing, versus the self-aggrandizing, gossipy Find Out If You’re Related To Royalty! ego-appeals.

[12] The pix is of from my high school’s senior award for Campus Clown. I am biting down on a doll’s arm, which I found at the beach the summer before my senior year and then wore on a chain around my neck for the rest of the year…because I could.

[13] As long as that venture isn’t a child.

The TV Show Song I’m Not Singing

Comments Off on The TV Show Song I’m Not Singing

 

Department Of Rachel Bloom Needs To Thank Me

Content warning: awesomeness, and dick humor.

Yes, the afore-mentioned Ms. Bloom, she of multiple slash abilities (singer/songwriter/actor/comedian), might want to toss some gratitude my way for being way older than her. Because if I were Rachel Bloom’s age (and – minor point – if I also had her talent ) I would have composed, sang and posted those so-funny-you-laugh-so-hard-milk-squirts-out-of-your-nose-and-you-weren’t-even-drinking-any-milk videos (usually NSFW) before she did.

Like…maybe…this one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWMpnxMLZ_E

 

*   *   *

Department Of Speculation: What Is “Stupid Shit” The Title Of?

Alas, it’s not the working title of my autobiography. [1]   It the name of a song by Andy Harrison I was listening to on Tuesday, while walking to lunch.

♫  There’s a world in your hands full of power and love
And the choice’s right here like a new pair of gloves
Whatcha gonna do, you can handle it.  ♫

I was reflecting on the inspiring words of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, spoken at a press conference announcing the Department of Justice lawsuit filed re North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation; I was reflecting on how frustrating it is, to me, that such eloquence had to be mustered for such nonsense. It’s a big world with big problems, yet some folks be getting’ their tighty whities in a knot about which public bathroom someone else can use…

 

REALLY

 

  …and then, the song’s chorus is ringing in my ears: 

♫  But they want you to focus on stupid shit
So you don’t have a clue about what’s legit
They want you to focus on
 stupid shit.

Yeah they want you to focus on stupid shit
So you don’t find your power, your love, your wit
Take a look around
and don’t do it.  ♫

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Name Blame Game

Content warning: Tragedy For All Humanity ©

 

Ahoy, Boaty...in our dreams....

Ahoy, Boaty…in our dreams….

 

I am in mourning, for the lost of inarguably The. Best. Boat. Name. Ever.

You’ve been following the saga of how Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council invited the British public to name their new research vessel…haven’t you? [2]

Long story short, people submitted names and voted; Boaty Mcboat Face was the runaway winner.; the British Science Minister proved himself to be yet another Upper Class Twit by saying there were “more suitable” names and declaring that the NERC’s research vessel would be named for renowned naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough .

I’ve nothing against Sir David McDave Face; in fact, I’m a fan. But, he’s got all those wildlife harassment nature documentaries to be remembered for. Those sneaky Limeys asked for the people’s choice, they got it, and then, nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

 

 

 

You were saying something about suitable names?

You were saying something about suitable names?

*   *   *

Department Of Adventures In American Racism

Content warning: the n-word; stupid/offensive jokes.

♫ Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man.
He was brave he was fearless
And as tough as a mighty oak tree. ♫

It had been years since I’d heard that song, and there it was, on the radio. [3] Anyone else out there old enough to remember the Daniel Boone TV show? It aired on NBC in the mid-to-late 1960s. Its theme song had three or four verses, each one beginning with the same two lines, stressing what a big man Dan’l was.

♫ Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man…. ♫

The theme song was popular, easy-to-remember…

 

 

…and easy to lampoon.

I must have been in the third or fourth grade when two of my cousins pulled me aside at a family gathering. DB and his brother JB told me that if I’d ditch the appetizers table [4] and follow them out to the backyard I could hear some really funny stuff.

These cousins were the first (but not the last) people to tell me racist jokes – jokes I didn’t always “get.” Although I was only nine years old I considered myself pretty humor-hep; still, I didn’t understand why “Did you hear about the NFL’s plan to reduce the number of fumbles by running backs? They’re going to paint the footballs to look like watermelons!” was supposed to be funny.

I prepared myself for another round of my cousins’ alleged comedy. I was hoping for at least one fart story; no such luck. JB announced that he and DB were going to honor me by sharing the “secret last verse” to the Daniel Boone song.

Daniel Boone was a man,
Yes a big man
But the bear was bigger
So he ran like a nigger up a tree.

Get it? Do you get it?

 

Stone-faced, flummoxed silence on my part.

My cousins stopped their chortling and exchanged nervous glances. My delayed reaction had them worrying that I was shocked and offended by their use of the N-word (I was) and was going to tattle on them to their parents (I didn’t).

I did laugh. Sort of…eventually. But, not early enough for my cousins. And not for the reasons they’d hoped.

My chuckle, tardy as it was, was genuine. It was one of the first times I was conscious of…I’m not sure what to call it…what, in my mind, was the joke I saw behind the joke they wanted to tell.  And I knew there was no way I could explain my thinking to them.

The rhyming offensive word was almost superfluous to the meta/existentialism of the line:

“…but the bear was bigger…”

No need to go further. It still gets me.

Later on, at home, I asked my father about the altered verse. It wasn’t the first time I’d questioned my parents after hearing a racist comment, and it wasn’t the first time their response would include some variation of the Crabs in a Bucket story – a story I later realized didn’t really apply, although my parents obviously thought it did. [5]

It’s not that your cousins are prejudiced [6] or even mean-spirited, my father said, it’s that they’re ignorant. People who aren’t very smart, or who are insecure about their status…well, the only way some people know how to shore themselves up is to find someone below them on the totem pole, [7] and pull someone else back down in the bucket so that they can climb out, or at least not be left behind. Sometimes they do this by mocking people of a different race.

When I was a child, I never heard my parents express (overt) racist sentiments.   [8] I also never heard them openly contradict the bigotry freely expressed in front of me by a few of our neighbors and certain relatives. When a squirm-worthy comment would slither past my Aunt Erva’s cigarette, my parents would change the subject. Later, in private, they would tell me that Erva was not truly prejudiced,  [9] just ill-informed and insensitive.

But you said nothing, I thought. And people were listening.

My parents’ silence on such matters was one of many experiences which helped make me the judgmental bigmouth concerned citizen I am today. A guiding life principle I’ve tried to instill in son K and daughter Belle: if you are with a group of people and someone makes an ignorant/racist/hurtful/sexist/bullying/scientifically-stupid-disguised-as-religious-opinion remark, and you say nothing, others listening may rightfully assume you agree with, or are at least accepting of, the speaker’s sentiments.

Yes, you must choose your battles. But…silence implies acquiescence.

But….

But the bear was bigger….

It still cracks me up. 

 

 

But the bear was bigger....So Fess Parker left the frontier and got into wine making.

But the bear was bigger….So Fess Parker left the frontier and got into wine making.

*   *   *

Is There Any Day As Happy….

As that day when you get new underwear? Let us all rejoice, as one big pile of 100% cotton loving humanity.

 

undies

*   *   *

By The Way And For Your Information

If we’re going to be acquainted on this level you should know that it’s underwear or underpants, and never…never….”panties” (shudder).

 

wordcops

 

 

*   *   *

May you focus on the shit that matters (or at least isn’t stupid);
May your silence never imply acquiescence (unless it does);
May new underwear raise your spirits (and never give you wedgies);
…and may the hijinks ensue. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] But nice guess, thanks.

[2] If not, stop reading this right now, go to your contemplative corner, and think about why you distance yourself from the vital issues that unite humanity.

[3] And I have no idea why. Channel-flipping, you hear all sorts of snippets.

[4] I could – and one time, I think, did – finish an entire jar of green olives by moiself.

[5] No parent wants their wiseass ten year old telling them, “Actually, you’re misusing the metaphor….”

[6] They were.

[7] I was never sure about how a totem pole could fit into a crab bucket.

[8] Although as I came to realize later, their political and social justice opinions were far more conservative than mine, and indicative of their respective, less than gracious and enlightened upbringings.

[9] Wrong again, folks.

The Question I’m Not Posing

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Department of Just Sayin’

Last week NPR’s Science Friday program contained a segment with a provocative premise. The segment featured an interview with “game researcher” Katherine Isbister, who makes the case in her book How Games Move Us that “…games can push us into new emotional territory.” According to Isbister, new video game designers are now crafting games that can make players more empathetic, by, e.g., putting players in the shoes of food cart vendors, immigrants seeking asylum, caretakers for someone with a terminal disease….

Isbister talked about how the designers of these “feel-good” video games write scenarios that encourage players to work together to solve problems, and how the designers also “harness character design, game mechanics, and movement to craft rich emotional experiences for players.”

Okay; sure, they do that. As do the designers of other scenarios that might be termed “feel-bad” games.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a video game that might encourage greater empathy in its players. But, listening to the interview, I sensed an elephant in the room that didn’t get its turn to trumpet. The host [1]  blew it by not asking a question/raising an issue that seemed obvious, IMHO.

The question/issue is in the That train runs both ways category.

 

But not like this.

But not like this.

 

Back when the industry was in its infancy, players and proponents of video games reacted with a combination of dismissive scornfulness and furious defensiveness when anyone – from psychologists to Concerned Average Citizens ® – dared to pose the question of whether playing a violent video game [2] might foster aggressive behavior, or at least dull players to the consequences of real life, anti-social behavior.

I remember well the indignant self-righteousness of video game-playing friends, colleagues and family members who were asked to even consider the possibility that violent games might induce violent thoughts:

Games don’t change how you feel. Thousands of kids play shooter video games – I play shooter video games – and we don’t go out and snipe students at the school playground. [3]

True, such a simplistic correlation (violent game = violent acting out) was likely an exaggeration. But now, smiley happy game = smiley happy people? Y’all can’t have it both ways.

If you are now saying video games can promote empathy and craft other “emotional experiences,” you are acknowledging that games can influence a person’s emotions, from which thoughts and actions spring.

 

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I'll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I’ll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

 

 

Violent video games alone likely didn’t cause (name redacted) to go on his rampage. But these games aren’t harmless, either….
My colleagues and I found that typical college students who played violent video games for 20 minutes at a time for three consecutive days showed increasingly higher levels of aggressive behavior each day they played….studies show that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. The effects occurred for males and females of all ages, regardless of what country they lived in.
“Do Violent Video Games Play a Role in Shootings?”
Brad Bushman, Ph.D., psychology professor specializing in “the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of human aggression and violence,” and author of “Why do people deny violent media effects?”

 

Both “good” and “bad” video games use similar techniques for attracting and holding the interest of their players. There is no magic formula for emotional manipulation, which would allow feel-good video games to stimulate positive emotions while preventing feel-bad games from stimulating negative emotions. That’s not how our limbic system works.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Parent Fail

Has there ever been a task, performance, assignment, an approaching life event, at which you anticipated you’d be superb – or at least competent – and then when it came time to get down to it, you massively sucked?

Last week I wrote about an April Fools’ Day joke I considered playing on a student driver… which got me to remembering that which I am about to confess: I was a lousy “teacher” for my own two student drivers.

Yes, I was an Awful Parent Driving Instructor. It was a role I had actually (as in, positively) anticipated. I thought I would be calm and positive mentor; I thought I would be the one to Set. A. Good. Example. ©

Instead, I was one of the worst things a driving teacher can be – nervous – which totally took me by surprise. My nervousness was evident, [4] and did not promote confidence in my student drivers. But my apprehension was not without cause. In my defense, as I was later to tell both son K and daughter Belle,

I take it personally when my own offspring are trying to kill me.

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

 

 

Fortunately for my children, MH was a (comparatively) calm and patient instructor.

MH and I also thought it worthwhile for our student drivers to have other professional/adult instruction, and forked out for lessons for each of them with a local driving academy…an act ($$$) which made me appreciate growing up in California when I did, when mandatory driver’s education was part of the public high school curriculum.

The driver’s Ed class was included in a class called State Requirements, which most students took during their sophomore year. With its massive/ pervasive car culture, California thought it in the best interests of the state to have students enter the driving world with a modicum of driving experience and education.  Apparently, many other states’ public education systems used to have such a requirement, but some states have dropped or drastically cut back on offering driver’s ed (and some states have none at all), due in large part to the perpetual bugaboo known as Budget Cuts.

A moment of silence please, while We Oldsters recall the days of (what we thought were) adequate school funding. [5]

 

silence

 

 

Thanks to the State Requirements and Driver’s Ed classes, not only did I and my high school peers have a common reference frame of how to drive, we also shared a legendary cultural touchstone: having to sit through don’t-reason-with-’em-just-scare-the-shit-out-of-’em documentaries like Red Asphalt.

Red Asphalt was astutely described by the Los Angeles Times‘ reporter Martin J. Smith as “The Reefer Madness of driving.” I think of it and others like it as a car accident snuff films –  ” horror shows of vehicular ultraviolence,” Smith wrote, “intended to scare the bejabbers out of fresh-faced and obliviously immortal teen drivers.”

“Red Asphalt” — the title says it all — is the flip side of California’s carefree car culture. ‘What you’re about to see is not going to entertain you,’ warns the host…. ‘There are scenes of human suffering and death in stark reality..’
Thus welcomed, you’re off on a joyless ride of grim highway fatality statistics, hectoring commentary about driving safely and bona fide hurl-your-cookies gore….you’re likely to come away with three unforgettable impressions:

* Driving at more than 10 mph is a seriously bad idea.
* Anyone who ever lobbied against seat belts and air bags as standard equipment should be arrested, tried and executed, ideally all in the same day.
* Not even George Romero has come close to replicating the sight and sound of human viscera being hand-scooped off damp pavement and into a plastic bag.

(“Thrills! Nausea! Bad Acting” by Martin J. Smith,  Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2006)

 

hellshighway

 

 

Red Asphalt, and another documentary called Signal 30 , used a combination of real footage taken by firefighters and other first responders and horrendously acted re-creations to depict the deadly consequences of speeding, negligent driving and/or failure to wear your seat belt – AND LEMME TELLYA, THOSE IDIOT DRIVERS ALL DESERVED TO DIE. [6]

The movies’ graphic images included ghastly scenes of mortally wounded and dismembered bodies, the screams of gravely injured and dying drivers and their passengers trapped in multiple vehicle pileups, and – my favorite, from Signal 30 – the footage of the charred remains of a driver who’d tried to race a train to railroad crossing.

I recall that only one student had to make a hasty vomit retreat during my Driver’s Ed class showing of the latter film. [7]

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Trying To Find A Segue From Bloody Bodies to Blue Berries

Aka, The Frozen Blueberries I’m Not Buying

Oh wait – but I am.

I hate it when I lie to y’all.

Last week, for the first time in three years, I bought frozen blueberries from the grocery store. Three to four times a week I have blueberries and raspberries with breakfast, and for the past three years by the end of summer our garage freezer is full to bursting with bags of our homegrown blueberries and raspberries.

However, last season’s hotter-earlier weather [8] was one of several factors which led to our blueberry bushes being a bit skimpy on production. The raspberries were smaller than usual and not as prodigious, but I still have enough in the freezer to last until this summer’s crop is ripe for the picking.

 

berries

*   *   *

May you recall with fondness (or at least tolerance, if not abject pity)
those who taught you to drive;
May the games you play foster the mental equanimity you seek;
May your berries be bountiful…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] I’m talking to YOU, Ira Flatow.

[2] that is, a game where the objectives include murder/rape/robbery, ala Death Race, Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, etc.

[3] Ah, but at least one person did. I remember reading of about the many disturbing hobbies of Brenda Spencer, the infamous “I don’t like Mondays”‘ elementary school shooter (who also carries the dubious distinction of being one of the few such female shooters), which included, according to interviews with friends and neighbors, being obsessed with playing violent/shooter-type video games.

[4] “That’s a person in the crosswalk – DON’T RUN THEM OVER.”

[5] No footnote here; we’re still doing the moment of silence thing, okay?

[6] Good thing we didn’t have to rely on violent video games back then to provoke such feelings.

[7] Apparently, as per one driver’s ed teacher I spoke with, at least two scared straight barfers was the norm per screening of that film.

[8] Which we didn’t anticipate and forgot to account for when scheduling starting up our automated yard watering system.

The Common Ground I’m Not Seeking

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On Tuesday MH and I were discussing the Hillsboro School Board meeting to be held later that day, during which the board would be taking public input regarding the topic of providing family planning services at school based health centers. We each separately emailed the board members with letters supporting the proposal. [1]

Two of the current school board members work at the same company as MH. I remembered asking MH, when those individuals were first running for their school board seats, what he knew about their respective political beliefs and temperaments. This led to a brief back and forth about the qualities we’d want to see in a decent, effective politician – even one running for a (allegedly) nonpartisan position, ala school board member. The ability to seek common ground or “reach across the aisle” was high on the list.

Many are the times I have considered how I lack a temperament (or even the desire to temper my temperament) which is even marginally suitable (read: electable) for public office, even an office as “small potatoes” as serving on a school board. I occasionally attended several meetings of my school board when I was in high school. What with the issues and tenor of the times,  [2] the meetings could get quite…entertaining…which made me wonder how the relatively sane members of the board managed to sit next to the whackadoodles, let alone have a rational discussion about educational policies.

That memory/idea must have gotten stuck in the space between my ears, because when I awoke the next morning (Wednesday), this was the first thought that came to mind:

I have no desire to seek common ground with morons.

schoolboard

*   *   *

Department of Despair to Come

We’ve a ways to go until the political parties hold their conventions, I know. Still, when I think of the prospects, I get a lump in my throat. I call it the Clump Lump, a mashup of the most likely two choices I do not want to choose.  Clinton, or Trump? Please, my fellow Americans, [3] don’t do this to me. Or to yourselves.

Clump. Clump. Clump. Thump.

 

ckump

 

Of course, there would be no contest re my choice of the Clump. Having not recently had a lobotomy or the intellectual equivalent of a compassion colonoscopy, it’s easy: I know Hillary R. Clinton is up to the task and I would gladly cast my vote for her.

But I wanted something new. Something Else.

Look, I know that much of what I think I may know about Clinton comes from 25 years of Republican slavering attack dog tactics:– “a quarter century of visceral GOP hatred.”

But, here’s the thing. What she said just before Nancy Reagan’s funeral – she did that all by herself.

I get it: you’re getting ready to attend a funeral of a public figure, you have to say something nice about the deceased.  But you don’t lie; you don’t forget or twist history.  I won’t belabor the point and you can look it up here and elsewhere, but Clinton’s WTF statement about Ronald and Nancy Reagan spurring “a national conversation, before anyone would talk about it,” [4]  about AIDS?!?!?!

 

REALLY

 

So. Pathetically. Astonishingly. Not. True.

And I can’t think why HRC would say that…other than staying true to what seems to be a (political) life-long habit of saying what seems to be convenient and/or expedient.

*   *   *

Department Of Parents Are Never Too Old To Go Apeshit
Over Reminders of Childhood Cuteness

It has been a week of many celebrations, both national and personal. Belle is home for Spring Break. Pi day. The Ides of March. That Irish-American Thing. [5]  Many if not all of these festive days call for special feasts. I asked Belle if there was any special dinner she’d like, in honor of…whatever. While she was pondering her options, MH showed me a list Belle had made, quite a long time ago. He found it written on a (unfortunately, undated) notepad he discovered as he was going through old papers in the attic:

 

Sadieundatedmenu

 

I told Belle all she had to do was say the word and we would endeavor to come up with a speshl desert and froot salid…and lots of Yum.

 

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Department of They Said It Would Never Work

Content warning, PETA supporters: contains arguable mistreatment of select arthropods.

For the past couple of weeks, every morning I’ve come downstairs to the sight of a black ant – or sometimes two or three – creeping about the kitchen or dining nook. Like the steering wheel around the pirate’s genitals, it’s driving me nuts.

We have no idea how/where the ants are getting in. They find their way to the kitchen counters, where they are summarily and enthusiastically squished by moiself, a paper towel becoming their white shroud of doom. At most it seems as if they’re sending in a few “scouts” at a time. It’s isn’t a horde…but I know they’re out there.

So.

As a warning to its tribe, I made an example of one scout. There was more than a bit of eye rolling skepticism from my family when I set the warning on the counter at night before going upstairs to bed.

The next morning was the first morning in over a week when there were no ants in the kitchen. Not a one.  Vindication was mine. [6]

 

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Pearls From Sand: How Small Encounters Lead To Powerful Life Lessons

pts

 

I recently read (and very much enjoyed)  the above book, written by My New Friend. As the title indicates, it is about how everyday, seemingly mundane conversations and encounters can lead to profound insights that shape how we act toward and think about ourselves and others.

The book’s Chapter 7 is titled Introverted is Something You Are, which got me to thinking [7] about that most common, and perhaps most commonly misunderstood, personality type division: that of Extrovert and Introvert.

It has long been my observation that the world can be divided into two types of people: those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t.

 

 

 

But seriously, Ladies and Germs, y’all know about one of the more popular “personality type” tests, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ? Chances are you’ve taken the test for fun, or at some point in your working life, when the new/overenthusiastic member of your company’s HR department decided it was a fun tool to use in that most jaw-clenching and tedious of workplace events, the Let’s All Try To Understand Each Other ®  workshop. [8]

 

personality

 

 

The MBTI aims to elicit psychological preferences in how a person perceives the world and makes decisions. It does this through the use of a self-report questionnaire which then ranks your personality type based on your preferences in each of the test’s four dichotomies. Your preference in each dichotomy is also ranked as to its strength; e.g., your answers indicate you tend to be slightly, moderately or distinctively expressed in that categories.  One of the four dichotomies is Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

I’ve taken the test a few times over the years, [9] noting that, like most people who do so, my scores have varied within each dichotomy. One consistency over the years is that in the E/I dichotomy, I test as an E. This would come as no surprise to friends, family and co-workers, who’ve pegged me as an Extrovert over the years.  If the choice is I or E, she’s definitely an E. What might come as a surprise is that my scores on the MBTI Extraversion scale have been, consistently, only slightly expressed.

Moiself has never claimed the Extrovert label. [10]  I find it interesting that someone who would be (self- or otherwise identified as) an extrovert would chose the life/profession I have chosen, where I am alone for the majority of my day.

While no one enjoys time with friends – whether one-on-one or in group activities – more than I, my activities and interests tend to be solitary, or those which can be done with one or two people (e.g. reading, hiking, kayaking, archery, masturbation, [11]  KenKen and crossword puzzles). I try to avoid meetings/committees of any kind, and would rather trim my nose hairs with a week whacker than  give a reading of my work or do other writing-related professional appearances.

So, how do I think of, or label, moiself? Thanks for asking. I’ve yet to find my dichotomy: I am a Gregarious Loner.

Stick that in your MBTI pipe and smoke it.

 

 

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May your personality dichotomies by freely expressed;
May you find words to praise the dead without lying your ass off;
May you find pearls in sand but no sand in your sandwich,
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] We’d planned on attending the meeting, but Life events ©  intervened.

[2] It was the mid 1970s…Patty Hearst could have been hiding anywhere.

[3] I use that term not as an indicator of USA chauvinism – which I’ve been accused of on more than one occasion when doing so. I realize Canadians and Mexicans are (North) Americans, too. But our country has a rather clumsy name, especially when it comes to monikers for its citizens. If you live in Germany you are German; in France, you are French, In the USA you are…USA-ian? United Stateian? I’ve yet to run across a less clumsy descriptor than the one that uses the last part of the US of A.

[4] The Reagan reaction to the HIV/AIDS crisis is what phrases like “deafening silence”  and “turning a blind eye” were invented for. Reagan would not utter the name of the virus until late in his second term, and Nancy even refused to help her friend Rock Hudson get treatment when he was dying of “the gay disease.”

[5] On March 17 real Irish people in Ireland apparently do not affix paper shamrocks on their foreheads, don Kiss Me I’m Irish underpants and drink until they vomit green beer on their faux Leprechaun shoes and call it a celebration of their heritage.

[6] A wonderful feeling, however temporary. But really, the damn thing worked for about 12 hours.

[7] I tried to lie down on the couch; alas, the thinking continued.

[8] This is not another footnote. Move it along, folks – nothing here to see.

[9]  Mostly for fun, and mostly when for some reason it has been mentioned by someone – a friend who’s used it at work, for example. I find any sort of personality test somewhat rigid but think such tests can be useful as a starting point to understanding other people, as well as yourself…as long as you don’t take it as the be-all and end-all of psychological analysis. Many people claim the Myers-Briggs test has helped them become more aware of the differences between people, and to see such differences as just that –  different, not “wrong”…even though I remember reading somewhere that most of not many of the dimensions measured in the test have failed to hold up to consistent  research.

[10] nor have I vehemently denied it, so…yeah. What she said.

[11] Just checking to see if you’re reading, Belle and K. If so, your mother did not write that, okay?

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