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The Certain Color Of Shirt I’m Not Wearing

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Department Of Jeff Bezo’s Minions Do Not Know Star Trek: TOS Lore

As delighted as moiself  was to see that Captain Kirk ( William Shatner ) finally  [1]   got to go into space (via Wednesday’s Blue Origin spacecraft ), I was gobsmacked to view the pictures being posted online, of Shatner and his fellow Blue Origin crew members.  Shatner was wearing a yellow green shirt; the others wore red shirts.

 

 

Yes, red shirts.   [2]

This is a bad omen, moiself  thought to moiself, before my second thought kicked in:

This *has* to be a photoshopped joke.  And a good one, at that.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Artistic License

Dateline: Saturday mid-morning, hiking in the trails in the hills around the Portland Audubon Sanctuary with MH.  ‘Twas a beautiful day, with that combination of the evergreen fir and leaf-dropping deciduous scenery that seems unique to the Pacific Northwest.  We were pleasantly surprised to have the trail to ourselves.

After our hike I decided to appreciate the port-o-potty in the Audubon parking lot.   Moiself  had left my phone at home; thus, I had to prevail upon MH to take a picture of the drawing someone had done on the inside of the p-o-p door.

The picture, which MH and I dubbed Pizza Man, illustrates the importance of punctuation, and how the lack of it can lead to misunderstandings…or just mysteries.

 

 

Whaddya think? What message was the honeypot vandal artist trying to convey, armed with only his imagination and a black Sharpie ®?

Moiself can think of several possibilities, including:

*  Pizza Man is speaking as a god, who is apologizing for…something.  In which case it should read, “Sorry,” god;

* The artist is apologizing to his god, for having drawn a human face so strangely that it resembles a slice of pizza with eyes and a mouth;

* Pizza Man is the speaker – he is apologizing to his deity for what he has done or is about to do (in the outhouse, or elsewhere)?

* Pizza Man not actually a pizza, but someone who has disfigured himself by consuming so much pepperoni that the little greasy sausage rounds are sprouting on his face, and thus is apologizing to his god for his gluttony;

* The artist is apologizing to anyone who views his drawing and mistakenly thinks it is of a Pizza god.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Last Time

“For everything you do, there will be a last time you do it. This is a direct consequence of your mortality.  Because you will someday die, there will be a last time you tie your shoes, pay your taxes, and eat chocolate….

Sometimes people know they’re doing something for the last time. This is the case with the condemned prisoner eating his last meal. More commonly though, people do something without realizing this is the last time they will do it. They instead act on the assumption that they will do the thing again in the future, perhaps hundred of more times.

Along these lines, consider the last time you played hopscotch, the last time you made a phone call with a rotary phone…
Did you realize at the time that it was the last time that you would do those things?  Realize too that’s it’s possible you have eaten chocolate for the last time – I sincerely hope that this isn’t the case, but only time will tell.”
( excerpt from “The Last Time Meditation” )

 

“Like, I’m supposed to take a selfie with *this*?”

 

Can you remember the last time you ____

* wore a diaper instead of “big boy/big girl” pants?
* rode a tricycle when you were a child, before graduating to a two-wheeler bike?
* played hopscotch or tetherball on an elementary school playground?
* aced (or flunked) a high school test?
* told a joke to your (now deceased) grandparent?
* used a rotary telephone to make a call?
* used a typewriter (manual or electric) to type a school paper, or office memo?
* rented a DVD from Blockbuster?
* went to a huge, arena-style concert by your favorite rock band, whose
drummer later died after he choked on his own vomit
members are now either deceased or retired?
* copied a document from your computer onto a floppy disc?

And if you can remember, do you recall thinking, “Hey, what if this is the last time I _____ (ride a tricycle; tell a joke to Grandma….)?”

For the last year or so I’ve been using a meditation app developed by neuroscientist, philosopher, author Sam Harris. The Waking Up  app has a variety of features, including

* a short daily guided meditation (11 – 13 minutes duration)
*  a series of guided meditations on different subjects (Contemplative Action; The Spectrum of Awareness;
Consolations; Meditation for Children….)
* Q & As with Jack Kornfield and other meditation/mindfulness teachers;
*
 lessons on the fundamentals of meditation
* a simple meditation timer, which you can set for any length

When I use the app,    [3]   moiself  typically either listens the daily meditation, or does my own meditation with the app’s timer.  Earlier this week I scrolled through the app’s practices, and one title caught my eye:  a series of twenty-two short talks – “The Stoic Path, by William B. Irvine – on the philosophy and practical applications of stoicism.

 

 

Philosophy professor and author Irvine offers a modern take on stoicism, which we philosophy laypersons often misunderstand as per our limited experience with the subject (15 minutes on Marcus Aurelius in our Intro to Philosophy class, and we’re all experts).  If asked to picture or define a stoic I bet your first thought (along with moiself’s ) would be of a person who is so even-keeled as to be almost detached – someone seemingly unaffected by the downs – and ups – of life.

However, In the philosophical realm, a Stoic is someone who cultivates a world view wherein one’s personal ethics are informed by stoic virtues, logic, and understandings on the natural world.

 

“Please tell me the segue to rotary phones is just around the corner….”

 

I’m at the very beginning (day four) of the series, and am enjoying Irvine’s expositions.  He includes stories from his own personal and family life to illustrate how techniques of stoicism offer a road map  [4]  toward equanimity – by minimizing worry and focusing our mental and emotional efforts on what we can control, by learning how to deal with the inevitable “insults” of grief and loss, and aging, by putting into perspective the temporal and ultimately ephemeral temptations of power, fame and fortune.

Moiself  finds it quite interesting, and also an expanded take on somewhat familiar territory.  The virtues (translate: sound Life advice) espoused by stoicism remind me of Buddhist and mindfulness tenets – from what I’ve listened to so far, there is a good deal of common ground between them.  Check it out, if you’re interested.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things For Somebody Else To Do

OK, calling all one-panel cartoonists…or anyone who can draw better than I can.  [5]

While listening to The Last Time  moiself  got a picture in my head, of a scenario I thought might make a good comic strip:

A prison guard enters a Death Row prison cell. He places a food tray containing a traditional last meal – grilled steak, fried chicken, a loaded baked potato, and a double hot fudge sundae – in front of a prisoner who is scheduled for execution later that evening.
The prisoner waves off the tray with, “No thanks; I’m watching my cholesterol.”

You’re welcome.

 

This is how my artist’s rendition would turn out.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Musings Apropos Of Nothing

Speaking of getting all philosophical on your ass, I have many questions dealing with the Mysteries of Life ®.  This one is for musician Dave Grohl:

What are Foos?
And why do you devote your exceptional musical talents to fighting them?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Deep Thoughts Continued
Division Of The Existential Crises Of Aging

Why is it that when you’re over age fifty people stop asking you what your favorite dinosaur is?

It’s like they don’t even care anymore.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of A Sentence I Never Thought I’d Be So Happy To Hear

“And if we’re lucky, tomorrow there’ll be dead bodies!”

See footnote   [6] for context.  Or, better yet, use your imagination.

 

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day
Philosophy Edition

How can you make a philosophy student leave your porch?
Just pay them for the pizza.  [7]

Did you hear about the monk who got a Ph.D. in existential philosophy?
You might say he was a deep friar.

Why can’t kleptomaniacs understand sarcastic philosophical jokes about themselves?
Because they take things literally.

Why is it unwise to place philosophy textbooks in front of a stallion?
Because you shouldn’t put Descartes before the horse.    [8]

 

*   *   *

 

May you uncover the mystery of Port-o-Potty Pizza Man;
May someone ask you what’s your favorite dinosaur;
May you never board a spacecraft manned by a crew of all Redshirts;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] He’s 90.  Really.

[2] Redshirt is a term used by fans of Star Trek to refer to the ST characters who wear red Starfleet uniforms – typically, security guards or other characters who are expendable, and often killed, after having utterred only a line or two of dialogue (or sometimes none at all).

[3] Not quite daily. I’ve other meditation apps which also have timers, guided sessions, ambient music….

[4]  Is that too dated of an analogy?  Maybe I should use, “GPS”?

[5] Which would be anyone who can hold a pencil in their hands. Son K has drawn some good comic strips over the years; maybe I should ask him.

[6] Uttered by the exterminator, whom I affectionately think of as “Rat Man,” as he was explaining how he would be baiting and setting the traps he’d laid in our house’s crawlspace and then returning next day to retrieve the results.  (The traps had been laid down several days ago, baited but not set – this lets the rats [that have invaded our crawlspace] get used to the traps and think that they are a safe source of yummy peanut butter).

[7] No footnote necessary here.

[8] I certainly can’t end this with #6 being the last footnote.

The Movie I’m Not Seeing

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Department Of How Did This Happen?

It’s October, y’all!

( design from The Brights logo )

*   *   *

Department Of A Reason To Rejoice:

Mary Roach has another book out.

 

 

“Join ‘America’s funniest science writer’…on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.
What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree?…. as New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found…in the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.”
(excerpts from book blurb for “Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law” )

I just finished Fuzz, and now an armed with a plethora of animal-human encounter trivia with which to annoy entertain friends and family.  Previous books by Roach (which I have read and highly recommend) include

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers;

Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal;

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife;

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex;

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.   [1]

The thing about Roach: not only is her writing informative, amusing and accessible, even her footnotes are thought-provokingly droll.  One of my favorites in Fuzz is re “Compound W,” which was a code name used for ricin   [2]  during WWII by the National Defense Research Committee, which was doing experiments in a quest for new rat poisons.  [3] 

“Did the makers of the wart-removal product Compound W realize this when they named their product? I don’t know, because Prestige Brands, which owns Compound W, doesn’t return calls, their online media query form is a dead-end, and they’re not on Twitter.
But while we’re on the topic of inappropriate names, let’s consider “Prestige Brands.”  Because here are some more of their prestige brands: Fleet enemas, Nix for lice, Beano for flatulence, URISTAT, Nōstrilla decongestant, Summer’s Eve douche, Boil-Ease, Efferdent denture cleaner, and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.”
(footnote from Chapter 8, “The Terror Beans: The Legume as Accomplice To Murder,”
( Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Can You Guess Who Is The Diplomat In My Family?

Last week a cousin of MH’s sent an email to MH’s extended family, to suss out interest in a family reunion the cousin is organizing for Spring 2022.  MH’s cousin wrote that recipients of the email should feel free to ask questions, make comments, etc.

This cousin is a Good Person. ® The location for the reunion he’s planning is his town of residence, a city widely known as the most liberal in the state.  However, the state is Texass.  Thanks in part to my recent blog post, y’all know how moiself  feels about that.

MH’s and my reactions were similar.  Here is mine, which I shared only with MH:

I will attend nothing held in Texas….
Please feel free to pass that along – even the more liberal residents in Austin need to know what Texas voter suppression and anti-reproductive choice policies are costing them (yeah, like our family not coming is a *big* loss to their tourism, but still….).

I also suggested to MH that, since the reunion organizer requested feedback, MH share his opinion.  And he did, succinctly and eloquently:

This is probably not what you meant when you included the word “comment,” but while I would enjoy seeing all of you, I’m currently not of a mind to spend my time or money in Texas.
I know that Governor Abbott and the state legislators won’t care that I find their actions repugnant enough to avoid the state… but I will.

Miss Tammy Wynette her-own-self couldn’t have been prouder of her man than I was of MH, when I read his reply.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Movie I’m Deliberating Seeing

The Eyes of Tammy Faye.  It’s about the rise and fall of televangelists Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, and their religious broadcasting empire, in the 1970s-80s.

Those of you us who are old enough may remember how Tammy Faye became a cultural “thing” (and also, in a delightful twist as per religious conservatives’ antipathy to LGBTQ folk, an icon to drag queens), due in part to her liberal (sorry) use of eye cosmetics.

 

 

Here’s the thing: I’ve enjoyed the work of the movie’s two lead actors, Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them give less than a terrific performance, which I can also say about another actor in the movie, Vincent D’Onofrio, who plays Jerry Falwell.

Here’s the second thing.

 

 

Does moiself  really want to spend two hours with those characters? As in, the people…

*  who are responsible for getting the Religious Right in bed with conservative politics?

* who preached against the supposed immorality of others while they themselves were embroiled in sexual and financial scandals, robbing their supporters blind and demonizing ethnic, sexual and gender minority groups in order to spread fear and ratchet up their quest for donations?

* who included the Bakkers’ fellow carnival barking snake oil salesmen televangelists:

* Jimmy Swaggart

(Moiself’s  favorite Swaggartism: “The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business,” Swaggart said, when confronted with evidence of his dalliance with prostitutes, despite Swaggart having exposed the extramarital affairs of a fellow Assembly of God minister, which led to that minister being defrocked   [4]    )

*  Jerry Fallwell,    [5]

(a mere sampling of Fallwell’s decades of WTF?!? pronouncements include,
* “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”
* “The true Negro does not want integration… He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.”
* “If you’re not a born-again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.”
* “The National Organization of Women is the National Organization of witches.”)

* Pat Robertson

(* “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
* ” You’ve got a couple of same-sex guys kissing, do you “like” that? Well, that makes me want to throw up. To me, I would punch ‘vomit’ not ‘like,’ but they don’t give you that option on Facebook.”
* “So, can demonic spirits attach themselves to inanimate objects? The answer is yes. But I don’t think every sweater you get from Goodwill has demons in it…but it isn’t going to hurt you to rebuke any spirits that happen to have attached themselves to those clothes.”
* “Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians! It’s no different! It is the same thing! It is happening all over again! It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians! Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today! More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history! … And it is happening here and now! Same thing, but directed against Christians by the liberal government and media! Send money today or these liberals will be putting Christians like you and me in concentration camps!”  [6]  )

 

 

Deliberation over.

Hell, that was easy.  The answer to Thing Two is a resounding, fuck no.

*   *   *

Department Of Cancel Culture Cookbooks

My latest cookbook acquisition: Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck.

 

 

I’d read a recommendation for the cookbook in a plant-based cuisine magazine.  The cookbook takes its name from a food website – make that, *took* its name.

Reading through the book I found many recipes I was eager to try, and my sides were sore from laughing at how the authors had written the “potty mind” thoughts I often have when thinking or talking about food (or anything, for that matter).  When I googled the book to learn a bit more about Thug Kitchen,  moiself  discovered  (yet another) New Controversy ® about which I’d been previously unaware: digital blackface.

“Popular vegan cooking website ‘Thug Kitchen,’, which has published three vegan cookery books under the brand, has announced it has changed its name to Bad Manners following years of criticism. Bad Manners, which is run by its Los Angeles-based founders Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis, has stated that it will discontinue the use of ‘Thug Kitchen’ as the title of all of its previous cookbooks and aims ‘closely re-evaluate’ the content shared on its site.
The duo has relied heavily on their use of Black English and hip-hop vernacular in the captions of their posts and cookbooks, which has long drawn criticism from many who have accused them of ‘digital blackface’ and cultural appropriation.
‘Thug Kitchen’ first faced controversy after an interview published to promote their first cookbook revealed that Holloway and Davis were white, as many believed that the blog’s creator was a POC. Followers were under the assumption that the use of the term ‘thug,’ which is a racially charged term often used to portray Black males as violent criminals, was an attempt to reclaim the racially-charged word. In more recent years, the term has been reclaimed by hip-hop artists such Tupac, leading followers to believe the bloggers were trying to redefine the term to promote veganism to communities of colour.

( ” ‘Thug Kitchen’ rebrands following accusations of cultural appropriation and ‘digital blackface,’ ” veganfoodandliving.com  June 2020 )    [7]

 

 

Moiself  didn’t know (or care about) the background of the authors when I purchased the book.  I still don’t care what “color” they are;  I do have yet another opportunity to ponder That Thing ®, of taking a pejorative or “forbidden” word and modifying or elevating it (depending on your POV) by using it: e.g., Black rappers and comedians who use the n-word; women who affectionately call each other bitch.  Which got me to thinking: if the cookbook authors considered themselves to be badass women, would I object to them calling their book/website, Cunt Cookery?  [8]

“Not my chickens – not my circus.” That’s what friend CC might say, re this particular version of the brouhaha about who gets to use what terminologies AND who gets to be the police of such things.    [9]    What counts for moiself  is that the Thug Kitchen recipes are tasty and “doable.”  Also, the recipes’ text and descriptions are consistently (and profanely) amusing: 

“This captures the smoky flavor of a falafel without all the fucking work.”
(Spiced Chickpea wraps with tahini dressing)

“Pour all this shit together in a jar and shake the fuck out of it.
Taste and add more of whatever-the-fuck you think it needs.”
(Basic Thug Kitchen vinaigrette)

“Tired of boring-ass lettuce wraps? Try these crunchy fuckers out and remember why it’s fun to eat with your hands.”
(Yellow Split Pea and Green Onion Lettuce Wraps)

“This shit is a little complicated but well worth it. Make it when you’ve got people to
impress or when you’re really fucking lonely.”
(Mixed Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna)

“There are two kinds of people in this world: people who like enchiladas and people who
have no fucking taste.  Which are you?”
(Sweet Potato, Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas)

“Quit fucking with that tired-ass take-out. You can make better shit at home in no time.
Plus, you don’t have to put on pants to answer the door.”
(Vegetable Pad Thai)

 

 

Interesting note:  the book and its two companion cookbooks have been rebranded as Bad Manners.  The book with the original Thug Kitchen title, which I purchased a week ago new for $17.95, is going for $49 on Amazon.

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
Cookbook Edition

After five years, I’ve finally finished my fresh herb cookbook.
It’s about thyme!

My other cookbook will have recipes for flatbreads and other unleavened bake goods.
I’m taking the path of yeast resistance.

The members of Aerosmith recently wrote a Chinese cookbook.
It’s titled, Wok This Way.

 

*   *   *

May you cook and eat like you give a f*ck;
May you be the diplomat in your family;
May you read at least one Mary Roach book this year;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The last which proves that she is capable of coming up with primary book titles of more than one word.

[2] A poison found in the beans of the castor oil plant.

[3] During the war rats were “sabotaging factories, destroying food needed for our allies, and spreading disease among our armed forces.”

[4] A great word, isn’t it? I think all religious ordination rites should be referred to as “Frocking.”

[5]  Fallwell had the audacity of fronting the group he called The Moral Majority, which, as critics pointed out, was neither.

[6] This and more filth fun can be referenced at Pat Robertson’s Wikiquote page.

[7] CC’s farmer-husband has a yearly chicken circus.  I’ve seen the tents.

[8] Well, in this case, yeah.

[9] Such issues ( who “owns” language, thoughts, and ideas) are of keen interest to moiself, as regular readers of this blog know well.

The Mission I’m Not Volunteering For

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Department Of Roads Not Taken

Dateline: May 1.  A social media post caught my attention: several pictures of our friends’ daughter, who attends a university overseas.  She and her fellow undergraduates, clad in their distinctive red academic gowns, were preparing for one of her school’s traditional activities: the May Dip[1]    Everybody into the North Sea!

It was all so gorgeous.  Romantic, even.  I visited the school’s website, and was entranced by the many pictures: of the academic gowns (students can chose to wear them for formal occasions, or all the time); the other traditions of the centuries-old institution (you gotta love an event called, “Raisin Weekend”); the beauty of the campus and the landscape….  Some of the pictures on the school’s website had moiself  thinking, “That place *has* to be the inspiration for Hogwarts.”

 

 

 

My vicarious joy for my friends’ daughter’s college experience surprised me when, later that afternoon, it resurfaced in the form of an unexpected spasm of a wistfulness at the realization:

҉    There are some things you cannot do over.    ҉

Not complaining.  I was able to attend and graduate from college – an opportunity denied to many around the world.  I received a good education (and, for the most part, had a helluva good time) at the college which was my #1 choice, one of the top schools in The University of California system, (which was at the time) the highest-rated state university system in the nation.

Still, contemplative pangs plagued me the next few days, and I felt drawn to revisit that overseas college’s website, and do the what-if ? thing.  Speculating on alternative realities.  I shared these speculations with friend LAH and son K, who joined MH and I for dinner Sunday night.  Did they ever have similar thoughts/feelings, even regrets, such as wishing they had sought an adventure by going to university out of the country, or ___  fill-in-the-blanks?

The adventure that entices me now is one which never occurred to me to pursue at the time I was applying to colleges.  Sure, I’d heard that some universities   [2]  had semester-study-abroad programs, but to do your entire undergraduate degree oversees?  No teacher or guidance counselor ever mentioned that to me; I didn’t know that that was an option.  And, realistically, it wouldn’t have been, for moiself.

Despite my high GPA and SAT scores in the 90th percentile, what with my family’s finances I would’ve needed a full scholarship to do four years of college abroad.  Given my mindset then (and now), I *never* would have taken out a student loan.  My parents were able to pay for one year of college; I put myself through the rest by doing something that isn’t possible for students today, given the exponential rise in the cost of a college education over the past 30+ years:  While being a full-time student I worked approximately half-time hours at various student jobs   [3]  during the academic year (and full time during the summers).  Working at a student job, even finding a job, is not always an option when you are a “foreign” student.

MH, LAH and K’s responses to my “do-you-ever-look-back?” questions/speculations were generally…nah.  Like me, going overseas for college hadn’t occurred to them (although, with the encouragement of our Swenadian  [4]  friend, K investigated a few Canadian universities and made an on-campus visit to one of them).  And, as MH reminded me, the young woman whose European college adventures I was so smitten with is the daughter of two scientists/academics, who have traveled much overseas (ofttimes with their offspring) and who have more knowledge of/exposure to those kinds of academic possibilities.  K did express mild regret at not being more adventurous at the college he had chosen, in terms of getting more involved in intramural sports and games, and exposing himself to different kinds of art….

 

 Not in that particular way.  [5]

… and music and other activities which were out of his comfort, or even interest, zones.  I would have liked to have heard daughter Belle’s answer to the same question, and may pose it to her, when I next see her in person.

Moiself  came to the conclusion that these longings are my subconscious reminding me that I need to get out more. Preferably, out of the country.  MH’s and my second vaccine doses are next week, and I’ve been having dreams of having the opportunity to, say, sip New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc   [6]   in an Irish pub while listening to a Canadian using a Spanish bagpipe   [7]  to play Celtic music….

*   *   *

Department Of Surprises That Shouldn’t Be Surprises

The light. As in, Hey, there’s so much more of it!

Yes, this happens every year. Lighter in the morning; lighter in the evening; here comes the summer solstice.  Still, I am, once again, surprised by and appreciative of the phenomenon.

 

Not so appreciative that I would devote my life to building one of these, but yeah, the light is nice.

*   *   *

Department Of Answer This Burning Question, Please

What is a Mom Joke, and why is that not a thing?

We all (think we) know what Dad Jokes ®  are, right? Quintessential examples:

What kind of noise does a witch’s vehicle make?
Brrrroooom, brrroooom.

What time did the man go to the dentist?
Tooth hurt-y.

Me: “Dad, make me a sandwich.”
Dad: “Poof, you’re a sandwich!”

Why is there no Mom Joke category? Is it because Dad is the ultimate Mom Joke?

 

 

*    *   *

Department Of Pleasant Thoughts To Meditate Upon Before You Go To Bed

Just when the general public seemed to be paying attention to our excessive (and usually/totally unnecessary) use of hand sanitizers and “anti-bacterial” soaps and wipes, enter, COVID-19 and “germ” hysteria.  I wonder how many super bugs have been incubating during this pandemic?

 

“Good night; sleep tight; don’t let the bedbugs bite….”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Other Things I Think About At Night:  The Mars Problem.

 

 

“No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”   [8]

You might not even think there is a Mars Problem ®  (except inside my tortured brain). Read on, you glutton for punishment, thoughtful person.

In order for people of all nations – including the folks who live next door – to be enthused about missions to Mars, and to feel that the gazillion hours of research and the gazillion $$$$ required to do so are time and money well-spent, what do we need?

Thanks for asking:  we need to send humans to explore Mars (and other planets and/or moons), not just more probes.   

We’ve already had a glimpse of the future of space exploration, which will entail a mixture of government and private funding – it won’t all be NASA or other governmental agencies.  Even the corporations and gazillionaires willing to entertain such a partnership also need motivation (other than their self-aggrandizement).  And psychologists and behavioral scientists have figured out that human activities are what attract the most human interest (and thus, human investment).

Yep, manned space exploration is horribly expensive, and dangerous…as were earlier explorations in their day.  Homo Sapiens evolved as explorers. The reasons we have for exploring our solar system correspond to the reasons that prompted our ancestors to risk “sailing off the edge of the earth” to explore new (to them) oceans and lands on Earth. In sending a manned mission to Mars, we would be continuing a tradition, exercising a defining “trait” even, of human beings: exploration.

There are sound economic reasons for sending probes (or robots), vs. humans, to Mars. I won’t take issue with the naysayers, except to say my own version of nay.

 

Did I hear, neigh-sayers?

 

Regardless of whether “life” (or even enough usable mineral resources to, say, to make a tin can) can be found beyond our own planet, Mars exploration would boost our citizen’s pride in their country, spark renewed interest in the science and engineering necessary to achieve such a feat, and help lift the U.S. image abroad (Uncle Sam is in need of a face lift, after the worldwide embarrassment that was the  #45 administration).

Alden Munson, a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, noted that,

A lot of the warmest feelings people have had around the world have had to do with the space program. It’s hard to put a value on that.”    [9]

We need humans in space because what interests most humans *about* space is humans *in* space.  The whole world would be rooting for the first earthlings on Mars, just as they did for the Apollo moon landing.  And we’ll want (and need) the rest of the world to get involved in research, designing, tracking, and maybe even the funding, of a manned Mars mission.  The human appeal – yes, even (or especially) re the dangers involved – tugs at our intellectual and emotional strings in ways that seeing a robot or probe – as cool as that is! –  does not.

 

 

Also, human explorers can do things that robots/AI devices cannot, including playing hunches, making last-minute decisions in emergency situations, and noticing objects and phenomena that can turn out to be significant, but which missed the programmers’ viewscreens, so to speak.

The most important factor of any manned space mission is the human factor.  Our behavioral science knowledge points to the fact that the most difficult part of any space exploration will likely be the crewmembers, getting along with one another, in the years-long mission (at least 7 months there/7 months to return, and a stay of…months/years?).  

Thus, the rigorous psychological profiling and testing required for astronaut candidates.

So, we come to (my version of) The Mars Problem.   [10]  Moiself  be thinking: you need a crew with a mix of temperaments, interests and skills.  You don’t want carbon copies, not at all Type A/gung-ho Marines on the one hand or all introverted science geeks on the other hand; you need a mix of diverse but also stable personalities.  A mission as fraught as going to Mars will involve years of commitment, not only to the training beforehand, but to get there, stay there, then return…or, not?  Many of Those Who Know What They Are Talking About ® suggest that mission-to-Mars astronauts who volunteer for the program should assume that they will not return. 

 

There goes the neighborhood.

 

““How can you leave forever?” “What does your family think about this?” “Your husband’s O.K. with you leaving him?”
These are the questions I’m peppered with when I tell people this is a one-way trip. And these are reasonable questions, perfectly understandable, and they deserve well-considered answers.”
(Sonia Van Meter, Mars 1 candidate, “Why I’m volunteering to die on Mars” )

This kind of trip will be unlike any before it.  Not just crossing an ocean to a land you heard of (no matter how stormy the seas, you can stick your head out of the porthole for some fresh air) and much farther than humans have ever attempted. Thus, you need a crew who are, essentially, willing to volunteer for a suicide mission. Are well-adjusted humans really capable of this (even though we who will volunteer will say that we are) ?

Other than someone who’s already under a death sentence   [11]  (“What the heck, my oncologist gives me another seven years”/”I’ve nothing to lose – Huntington’s disease will get me in a decade”),  who’s gonna think this is okay?  What kind of person is willing to say, this is somehow worth it, to die for this mission? What kind of person could prioritize that ‘”mission” abstraction over the reality of the loss that will be experienced by their loved ones – spouses and children, family and friends –  who will be 34 million miles away?

How does being able to parse that death/loss/grief v. mission equation mesh with being psychologically healthy? So, you’ll need a crew composed of people who are intelligent and skillful…and are in denial about statistics and reality in terms of their chances of survival…or who simply don’t give a flying fuck.

My conclusion:  For such an undertaking, you’ll need a sane, insane crew.

Just wondering out loud.

As should be obvious by now, moiself  fully supports a manned mission to Mars.  In my younger days I’d have considered volunteering for it, but only, if I’d been unencumbered by family and friends –  people who loved me.  I would have volunteered if I’d had no one who loved  and/or cared about me…which would have meant that I was, what?  An isolated jerk.  Just the kind of person you’d want to share limited space and resources with for a couple of years, eh?

OK, all y’all who think you are smarter than moiself – Elon, for the last time, put your hand down and return to your desk! – figure it out and get back to me.

 

The perfect space crew? Just clone me five times!

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day: Space Exploration Edition

Did you hear how NASA recruited the first cow astronaut?
They told her she could land on the mooooooooooooon.

My astronaut friend divorced her astronaut husband.  She calls him her SpaceX.

 

Please don’t waste our precious oxygen supply by laughing.

 

*   *   *

May you enjoy the extra light, whether or not it surprises you;
May you be loved enough that you would never volunteer to die on Mars;
May you be inspired – but not haunted – by roads not taken;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

[1] At dawn on May Day, after staying awake all night, students run into the North Sea as they are serenaded by madrigals sung by the university’s Madrigal group.  

[2] Those tended to be the wealthier/private schools, or so it seemed.

[3] Including typing other student’s reports and term papers. I charged those engineering students – for some reason, their reports were always a last minute/emergency thing – twice my per page fee when I had to work past midnight.

[4] Longtime readers will recognize that appellation as my friend the Canadian, married to a Swede.

[5] Many people are unaware that, in this infamous poster, the “flasher” is Bud Clark, the eccentric and beloved former Portland mayor.

[6] I’m not a beer drinker; thus, no Guinness or Harp for me.  It seems that the pubs of Ireland have some sort of deal with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc distributors, because that is the wine I found in every Irish pub MH and I visited, when we were there four years ago.

[7] That happened to us, in the wee town of Kinsale.

[8] No money, no space travel. The phrase comes from The Right Stuff, a movie about the beginnings of US space exploration…. “Buck Rogers” was a space-traveling comic strip character in the early 20th century. (The Free dictionary)

[9]Is Exploring Mars worth the Investment?“)

[10] It would be a similar problem re a mission to Europa, or another planet, but for discussion’s sake, I’ll stick with the closest target: Mars. 

[11] Which, you’d think, would disqualify them on medical grounds.

The Blog Post I Wasn’t Planning On

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Noteworthy science podcast anecdotes; musings on how we understand, use (and misuse) the term “educated;” wondering how and why some people can believe in the efficacy of intercessory prayer; a bad pun or two; the last Partridge of the Week, etc.  I don’t know if the subjects I had planned to address in today’s post were more profound, but they were certainly more fun, than…this.

As in, What. Happened. On. Wednesday.

“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
(Vice President Mike Pence, 1-6-21, in a letter to members of Congress.  From “Pence defies Trump, says he can’t reject electoral votes,” apnews.com )

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done….”
( #45‘s tweet, after Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged he does not have the power to throw out electoral votes )

*   *   *

Someone needs to be shot for insurrection. 

If #45 had the cojones he accused Pence of lacking, he‘d call a press conference, resign, then blow his brains out   [1] on live television.  He‘d get the “biggliest ratings, ever!” which is and always has been his ultimate concern.

*   *   *

 

Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”

 

*   *   *

 

How many times did I read or hear, during the last four years,

“Yeah, I know he (#45) is a dick a horrible person as a person, but I’m voting for him because of ______ (conservative policy).”

As friend MM so succinctly put it,

“Everyone who voted for Trump for tax cuts and judges, you own this.”

 

*   *   *

What was it that the anti-Vietnam war protestors chanted as they were beaten by Chicago police in 1968?

“The whole world is watching.”

 

 

And they were.  And we are.

*   *   *

Department Of Get Him Out, Now.  How Can You Not?

Congress: Impeach. Invoke the 25th amendment#45 is clearly “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”    [2]   Get the SCOTUS to lead a squad of Capitol Police to arrest him.  Whatever it takes.

Please, no cries of, “But we only have to hang on another two weeks, for the good of the country…”

No.

For the good of the country,
he
needs to go. Would *anyone else* who had fomented a riot – committed sedition – *not* be held accountable?

For the good of the country,
his
legacy, as MH put it, “needs to be appropriate.”

For the good of the country,
we cannot let strongman hooliganism subvert or even delay our democratic processes.

For the good of the country,
we need to show the world – we need to show ourselves – that we have not become another anarchic banana republic our laws and ideals have actual meaning.

And, if he is allowed to just…leave, do you really want any portion of your tax dollars to go to his presidential pension?  $219,000 a year, for the rest of his deplorable life, living among whatever other deplorables can stand to abide with him?   [3]

 

“A Russian dacha or a North Korean apartment – your choice, Comrade.”

*   *   *

May we get the kind of honest, decent, compassionate leadership we need;
May you-know-who finally get what he deserves;
May circumstances allow moiself  to return to “regular programming” next week;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Not to worry; it’d be a small splatter, considering the target.

[2] Section 4, 25th Amendment to the US Constitution.

[3] There need to be more footnotes, but the only appropriate footnote regarding this deranged disaster of democracy is an unending torrent of FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK !!!

The Cookbook I’m Not Writing

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Department Of You Need This Laugh

And apparently, you may need a toilet plunger if you go to –
or have to go when you’re in [sorry] – Merry Olde England.

You gotta love a travelogue/essay which contains the phrase (referring to the British), “It’s an open question whether they’re better at plumbing or cooking,” soon followed by, “There’s no polite way to begin my testimony. It all started when I took a shit.”  This magnificent piece of potty-permeated prose, written by Lewis Lee, for The Good Men Project, describes the difficulties Lee faced when he tried to acquire a toilet plunger in the UK.

I received this link from observant, well-traveled friend DC, in response to my comment on a picture of a topiary he posted on FB:  I’d compared one of the elaborately pruned hedges in the photograph to a toilet plunger.  After reading this essay, I felt I could skip my core/abs workout of the day, and my sides are still sore from the after-laughter effects. Moiself  is forever in his debt.

My United Kingdom for a Plunger

 

Certainly there must be a plunger for the Royal Loo.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Simple Pleasures
# 3892 in a series

My reading list stretches to infinity. Thus, I am thankful to a certain author for not adding to that (admittedly delightful) burden.  She did so by titling her memoir – think along the lines of, “Love’s Labour, Like, Totally Lost: I Was Runner-up on ‘The Bachelor’ ” – the kind of title which relieves me of the responsibility of giving her book a second glance:

“Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Today’s Blog Title

Indeed, moiself  is *not* writing a cookbook.

 

There, there. Life is full of disappointments; calm yourselves.

 

I do, however, have a title for one.

This is not the only cookbook I haven’t written.  The first one was titled, “Shut Up And Eat This: Cooking For Your Relatives And Your Children.” Literary agents did not leap at the chance to represent that work, imagine that.

The cookbook I am now not writing will be called, Jump to Recipe.

 

 

Yeah; they get it.

A brief explanation…

 

” ‘Briefs’ are a type of short, snug, men’s underwear, aka ‘tighty whities,’ in contrast opposed to looser styles like “boxer shorts’…”

 

Sister, please.

I’ll try again.

A brief explanation, for y’all who perhaps are unfamiliar with food blogs.   [1]  If you search online  for recipes, you will increasingly/more than likely see, under the recipe/blog title (or somewhere near the top of the post), the option, Jump to Recipe  [2].   

It’s an option I appreciate, as in the past few years it seems that every recipe posted online must be accompanied by a certain number of paragraphs of self-indulgent blah blah blahexposition

The verbiage include stories about how the Food Blogger Person ® came up with the recipe, how FBP’s recipe has evolved, how FBP has evolved to be able to even imagine such a combination of ingredients and/or techniques and/or cuisine traditions, followed by what seems to be the obligatory bullet-point list of exclamatory statements re why this is such a great recipe:

* It’s simple!
* It’s tasty!

* It’s like Summer vacation on a sheet pan!
* It uses less than ten ingredients!
* It uses ingredients you will likely have around the house!   [3]

* It won’t give ____ ( your in-laws an excuse to order pizza; your children a reason to make that yucky vegetable face; your pee that weird asparagus smell ) !
* Your ____  (friends; cellmates; boss ) will never guess that this dish is  ____ ( heart-healthy; vegan; plagiarized from a Martha Stewart cookbook ) !

Yep, I’m having some fun with you food bloggers, even as I hope ’tis obvious that moiself is a fan of (some) of y’alls’ works.  That said, as much as there are times when I can appreciate the stellar story behind your stupendous Stavanger Stew, other days, I just want to make a chunky Norwegian soup.  I have my ideas and I want to compare them to yours; I want proportions of ingredients, not a six paragraph saga about how everyone you know (or are related to, or sleeping with, or owe money to…) raves about this recipe, or how by making *your* variation on tahini and avocado toast I will be saving the planet….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Don’t Try This At Home

Dateline: last Thursday; plenty of time on my hands, as we seem to have These Days ®.  I decided to clean out/reorganize the freezer, and in doing so got a nasty cut on my left index finger, from a hitherto unseen but very sharp part of the freezer’s drain panel.  Now that I can’t fully use it, I’ve been discovering just how many things I do with my left hand, either solo or in comradeship with my (dominant) right hand.

Moiself is not a true ambidext.  [4]  Still, I’ve always done certain things with my left hand, a fact that, for reasons that are not fully understood by moiself, seems to have annoyed certain other people, who’ve then in turn annoyed moiself  by pointing it out:

“Hey, I thought you were right-handed?”

“I am.”

“Then why are you ______ with your *left* hand, huh ?!?!?
 (dealing cards; dialing the phone; picking your nose;
reaching for a second helping of asparagus….)

It was a nasty cut, requiring butterfly bandages. The amount of blood in one’s fingers is impressive.  And it never would have happened had I not had time on my hands, which led to blood all over my hands…

THE  CORONA  VIRUS  IS  TRYING  TO  KILL  ME.

*   *   *

Department Of Right Is Wrong About Left

“Speaking” of left hands….

* a left-handed compliment is not one you want to receive;

* “out of left field” means unexpected, odd, or strange;

* The French word for “left,” gauche, in English means, “lacking social grace;”

* The code of Muslim hygienical jurisprudence – yep, it exists   [5] – decrees that  “the anus must be washed with water using the left hand after defecating.”
( from Islamic Toilet Etiquette, – yes, the subject gets its own Wikipedia entry,) 

* The association of the directional left with evil is likely attributed to the dominance of right-handed people within a population…. Left-handed people comprise only 10 percent of the population, and the preference for the left hand…was attributed to demonic possession, leading to accusations of witchcraft….
The Ancient Celts worshiped the left side, associating it with femininity and the fertile womb. But beginning with the appearance of Eve on Adam’s left side in accounts of Genesis, the Christian tradition finds instances of the left side being pinned to immorality….
Sinister, today meaning evil or malevolent in some way, comes from a Latin word simply meaning “on the left side.” …biblical texts describe God dividing people into groups on Judgement Day, saving those on the right while those on the left are “cursed into everlasting fire.”   [6]

 In the 20th century, anthropologists and psychologists identified left-handedness as a biological anomaly, one associated with deviancy but that could be corrected away with behavioral reinforcement.
(The Left Hand of (Supposed) Darkness, Merriam-Webster )

* In the Middle Ages, lefties were associated with the devil and often accused of witchcraft, and even as recently as the 20th century, left-handed students were forced to learn to use their right hand.
( “21 Things You Didn’t Know About Left-Handed People” )

 

My father was once considered to be one of those biological anomalous deviants – a natural born lefty, he was forced to write “right.”

From a very young age I noticed that, besides his distinctive (read: hard to decipher) script, there was something unusual about my father’s handwriting; specifically, the process. He would never casually grab a notepad and pen and get right to it:  from a personal letter to simply adding an item to a grocery list, writing seemed to involve much more concentration for him than for everyone else.  I’d watch him as he would pick up a pen or pencil and  grasp it carefully, using an extra second of effort that was probably undetectable to most people; then he’d adjust his grip and make small, almost imperceptible circle with the writing implement before setting it on the paper.  He wrote very carefully and laboriously, as if some Higher Authority had given him A Very Important Task – ala transcribing the Dead Sea Scrolls – and he’d be punished if he made one mistake. Turns out, the latter was likely his (subconscious) fear.

I heard the explanation from his older sister Marie, on her one and only trip West to see her brother’s family (I happened to be visiting my folks during a college break).  My aunt and I got to chatting privately, with moiself  wanting to hear stories of my father as a child. She obliged with tales of his “naughtiness,” some of which I’d heard from him (e.g., ditching the school bus to go skinny-dipping in the river with his friends), but I was riveted by one that was new to me:  from infancy, as soon as he could move his quavering hands, little Chester Bryan Parnell would reach for objects with his left hand. That was “wrong,” of course, Marie said; thus; their parents would take the object from Chet’s left hand, put it in his right hand, slap his left hand ( so he would know it was the “bad side”), and admonish his siblings to do likewise. She said between the vigilance of his parents and his three older siblings, Chet had mostly been broken him of that “bad habit’ by the time he went to grade school – then the teachers took over and helped him to write “properly.”  [7

I was gobsmacked by this, but hid my astonishment – and disgust at the ignorance and superstition involved – from my aunt…as  well as her story, from my father, until I’d confirmed it with another of his sisters, Lucille.  Lucille admitted it, adding that in these modern times we all understand how some people are just natural left-handers, but folks didn’t know that back then, and Chet’s family and the teachers were just trying to help him do “the right thing.”

When I spoke to my father about his leftist tendencies he said he had only vague memories of being forced to do things right-handed.  To my surprise, he also said he’d become aware, later in life, about with the fact that forcing someone to use their non-dominant hand can have negative effects on brain development….but that it was too late for him to change “back,” after a lifetime of having his “cross-wiring” reinforced.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Wait, I’m Almost Serious

I put this out on Facebook this week.  I’m still waiting for offers from directors (and cinematographers, and actors, and….):

I’m looking for a film student and/or budding director to turn my fantasy into cinematic reality. Here’s my pitch:

“They whine; they pout; they never go out… It’s every parent’s nightmare – stuck in isolation with a QuaranTEEN .”

* “So, like, you stood in line for three hours to get TP but you forgot to stock up on Mountain Dew?! Thanks so much for raising me.”

* “You can’t limit my screen time – the CDC says it helps with, like, physical isolation…what are you, my parents or my parole officers?”

* “All my friends’ parents are letting them drive to Taco Bell because they trust them to like, help out with the family for food supplies and stuff. You’re the worst parents ever.”

* “I’m supposed to care about all the old people but we’re, you know, like, the future of the nation, and there is no grad night, no prom, no senior ditch day for us, and those grandpas and grandmas got to have that when they were our age and so now they think they’re suffering?”

* “Oh yeah, like, thanks *so much* for picking up the stuff in my room, but you put the remotes so far from my bed…”

* ” Only a fucktard would wear a mask like that, and you can’t make me….”

* “Dad threw away my Axe body spray and said I can’t use it until this shelter inside thing is over – he *wants* me to get PTSD!”

 

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The “Shock Rock” Edition

Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson and are acts associated with the rock/heavy metal genre Shock Rock, which combines music with over-the-top live performances borrowing staging elements from horror movies, including special effects, fake blood, masks and body paint, and sometimes provocative behavior from the groups and/or lead singer.

Moiself  has listed some of those acts’ song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

Brutal Planet
Freedom
Breaking All The Rules
He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask
Hey Stoopid
I Love the Dead

The Dope Show
Coma White
Disposable Teens
Overneath the Path of Misery
Astonishing Panorama of the End Times

Bark At The Moon
If I Close My Eyes Forever
Paranoid
Schools’ Out
Welcome to My Nightmare

*   *  *

Pun For The Day

Billy:
“So, you saw a group of cats so numerous it stretched
all the way to the horizon?”

Sally:
“Yes, as fur as the eye can see.”

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [8]

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week

Featuring this week’s chosen Theme Day (Mushroom/Miso/Mustard Monday) and recipe:

* Mushroom gravy over millet
(chaperoned by Roasted garnet yam, scallions and cider vinegar salad; Mojo de ajo asparagus; whole wheat naan.)

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]    

*   *   *

May you know your left from your right;
May you fantasize your own quarantine movie;
May you carefully judge a book, even an unwritten one, by its title;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] The authors of which, IMHO, are not-so-secretly hoping that they  too can experience the 15 minutes of fame experienced by the food blogger who was the co-subject of the movie, Julie & Julia,

[2] Which, of course, makes moiself wonder how that came about? If food bloggers somehow realized readers left after a paragraph or ten describing how they really weren’t interested in how your variation on hummus came your fantasizing about a trip to Morocco….or a critical mass of readers left comments saying, “Look, I’ll come back if you’ll just let me get to the recipe, please?”  If you’re curious as to whence its (the JTR option’s) origin, here’s the take from one food blogger, who added the JTR option (although she initially opposed it).

[3] I always think, “Oh,  like…dust?”

[4] Is that a word – if you’re ambidextrous, you are an ambidext? I’ve decided it is, and that the world needs this word. You’re welcome, world.

[5] It’s the Qadaa’ al-Haajah.

[6] Matthew 25:32

[7] Teachers would use a ruler or worse to smack the knuckles of any child who tried to write left-handed.

[8] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

[9]

* Abject Failure:  I’ll make a canned wieners & SpaghettiOs gelatin mold before I make this recipe again.
* Tolerable:  if you have the proper…attitude.
* Yep: why, sure, I’d share this with my cat.
* Now you’re talkin’: Abby the Support Avocado ® approves.
* Yummers: So good, it merits The Purple Tortilla Chip Of Exclamation ® !

 

The “Next Time” I’m Not Waiting For

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Department Of Let’s Get This Out Of The Way

Even leaning-toward-cynical moiself got caught up in thinking, if just for a moment, that the person with the really good experience and résumé and ideas…

 

 

I have the Post-Super Tuesday Blues, as was somewhat adequately delineated in this NY Times opinion piece:

“This is one of the vexing realities that plague highly accomplished female candidates… women whose résumés outstrip those of many of their male rivals. They have been told their whole lives that they have to outwork and outperform the men in order to be taken seriously — only to discover that it’s not enough….

….consider Amy Klobuchar’s conspicuous irritation with Pete Buttigieg’s precocity. On multiple occasions she noted that a woman with his résumé — a 38-year-old former mayor of the fourth-largest city in Indiana — would never be taken seriously. ‘Women are held to a higher standard,” she said at the November debate. ‘Otherwise we could play a game called ‘Name Your Favorite Woman President,’ which we can’t do because it has all been men, including all vice presidents being men.’ “

Whatever your feelings about Mayor Pete, Ms. Klobuchar was not wrong.”

( 3-5-20:  Elizabeth Warren Had a Good Run. Maybe Next Time, Ladies.
By Michelle Cottle, NY Times Editorial Board )

 

This picture of Senator Klobuchar, taken during just one of the shouting fests from the South Carolina debate, made me wonder what she was thinking about.  Klobuchar later described her thoughts in the moment ( to CNN):

“…Steyer moved over closer and closer…to the point I thought I could actually get hit on the debate stage.
I was literally sandwiched between the two of them yelling at each other….”

 

 

At the time it happened, the look on Klobuchar’s face and her hands reaching out in humorous supplication – I read into that as her acknowledging the frustrating double/triple/quadruple standards faced by female politicians.  As if she wanted to say, “Can you believe this #$@!??!   If Elizabeth Warren and I were going at each other like that, can you imagine what they’d say about women in politics?”

“As for complaints that (Warren) was too strident or shrill or hectoring or inflexible, have any of these critics seen Bernie Sanders?  Come on.”
(Michelle Cottle, same article)

 

Maybe next time.  Some day.  In the future….

Guess now I have to channel my hope for a vice presidential bid for Warren, so she can take over when one of the Two Old White Guys dies while in office.

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Favorite Poop Stories
Family Division

If there can be a Board of Tea Appeals (USA), an Office of the Swan Marker (England) and a Minister of Toilets (Japan), moiself can have a Department Of Favorite Poop Stories.

 

 

Dateline: a weekend, at a Southern California campground, on a family camping trip however many years ago it would have been when my brother was three years old. At that age my brother was housebroken, but still needed supervision in toileting matters since, like most toddlers, puppies, and the Current Occupant of the White House, he was not in complete control of his excretory system.

Early one morning my two sisters and I were out exploring various spots around the campground. My brother (RSP) stuck close to our family’s trailer, playing with some wooden blocks under a tree at our campsite, under our mother’s supervision (our father was in the campsite bathroom, shaving).  RSP suddenly pushed himself up to standing, announced that he had to go potty “RIGHT NOW,” and dashed toward the camp restroom.  Mom ran after her son, but nature could not be delayed.  RSP, realizing he could not make it to the restroom, stopped right where he was and pulled down his pants.

Right Where He Was was in a neighboring campsite, under that campsite’s tree, six feet from a chaise lounge occupied by a man who was reading a newspaper.

My mother shrieked for RSP to wait for her, but it was too late.  “Oh, no!”  Stricken with mortification, Mom wailed as her son began pooping beside Newspaper Reading Man’s campsite tree. “I am so sorry….”

Newspaper Reading Man sat upright in his lounge chair, looked at my brother, then up at my mother. With unflappable tranquility he uttered these now classic words before he just as unflappably reclined in his chair and went back to reading his newspaper:

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What Are Your Favorite Words
Which Can Be Difficult To Pronounce?

“Rural” can be challenging, even for people with no speech impediments.  Even better is “wasp”, and even better-est is the plural:  wasps.  If you want to torture someone who has ever had a lisp problem in the present or past, maneuver the conversation so that they have to say, “wasp’s nests.”   [1] 

 

“ ‘The Meaning of Life’? I’m still trying to figure out who’s the jackass who put an “es” in the word ‘lisp.’ ”

 

*   *   *

The Social Media Break I’m Not Taking

Moiself’s niece recently made a Facebook announcement about how she won’t be posting on FB for a while.  In the past year I’ve seen similar announcements from people …not often, but not rarely, either.  Sometimes it is due to the poster’s stated wish to bow out from all social media due to time and/or interest constraints; sometimes it’s attributed to personal or even political concerns (e.g., antipathy toward FB’s privacy and willingness to bend over and accomodate Russian election interference political advertising policies).   As for my niece’s case, she gave more than one reason, and alluded to (although not by name) a phenomenon social psychologists have been studying:  social media envy.

You might recognize the feeling if not the label: we can’t help but compare ourselves – our personal lives, professional accomplishments, travel destinations, even what we had for dinner  – to those of our friends and family as presented online.

Human beings have always felt what Aristotle defined in the fourth century BC as pain at the sight of another’s good fortune, stirred by “those who have what we ought to have”….

But with the advent of social media, says Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies the impact of Facebook on our wellbeing, “envy is being taken to an extreme”. We are constantly bombarded by “Photoshopped lives.”….

Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew says she is seeing more and more envy in her consulting room, from people who “can’t achieve the lifestyle they want but which they see others have.” Our use of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, she says, amplifies this deeply disturbing psychological discord. “I think what social media has done is make everyone accessible for comparison…. In the past, people might have just envied their neighbours, but now we can compare ourselves with everyone across the world.”

(“The age of envy: how to be happy when everyone else’s life looks perfect,”
The Guardian, Health & Well-being column, 10-9-18 )

 

 

 

MH asked me if I had seen my niece’s announcement; we briefly discussed social media envy, and he said he sometimes felt the same way.  I admitted that moiself did, too.  Here’s a lovely post and pictures from friends vacationing in Bali, and here we are, pulling the massively overgrown weeds in the front lawn, scooping the litter box, trying to untangle the serpentine jumble of laptop, monitor and keyboard cords underneath my desk…

And yes, I can feel this envy despite knowing/assuming that people (including us, of course) are only posting “the good stuff” – a picture of their daughter hanging the framed First Place High School Regional Essay Competition certificate on her bedroom wall, and not one of that same daughter pouting in her room because she’s grounded for trying to vape her grandma’s NyQuil Nighttime Relief Liquid ® .

Perhaps, moiself suggested to MH, we could take it upon ourselves, as a kind a kind of a charity cause, to improve the world with these tiny steps: for every Smiley Happy People ® post we make, such as a picture of an interesting driftwood formation we encountered at the beach,  we also post a picture illustrating the mundane tasks that fill up most of our lives.  We could post pictures of us moving furniture from the attic back to the bedrooms after the new carpeting was installed. (But then, MH countered, we’re effectively announcing that we’ve gotten new carpeting, and some might be jealous of that.  True, I said, but we could also mention how long it took us to do that and what horrible shape the old carpeting was, and they might think, “Well, at least *we* never let our carpet get that pathetic….”).

For every picture of a gourmet meal I prepare, maybe I’ll post one of the breakfast MH has almost every morning: Cheerios and soymilk and raisins.

MH’s breakfast remnants. Feeling less envious already?

*   *   *

Department Of The Last Cow-Related Post…For Now

OK, I promise, this is the last cow-related blog in a while almost. Last week, after my blog post about the mini-cow pet thing, a friend commented on it, which led me to his FB page, which led me to another friend’s FB page where I saw a link to an article about why docking the tails and ears…

 

Explain to me again how this is cow-related?

 

Ahem. …which led me to another friend’s FB page where he’d posted a link to an article about why docking the tails and ears of certain dog breeds – of any dog – is a bad idea:

“Dogs are born with ears and tails. They should get to keep them.”

Dobermans, Boston Terriers, Great Danes, et al, with their ears clipped…Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers, and Yorkshire Terriers etc., with their tails bobbed – even as a child I wondered about such dogs when I saw them. Certainly, those traits couldn’t have been “natural,” and I groused (until told by adults to keep my opinions to myself when it comes to other people’s ”property”) about the hubris of humans who thought they could improve on nature – or, worse yet – that they had the right to do anything to an animal for their own aesthetic considerations.

The professional dog breeding and showing bureaucracies have – surprise! – been bought out on this issue. With a straight face and in Times Roman font they defend these barbaric (“breed standard”) practices, even today:

“Much of the opposition regarding these procedures comes from a misunderstanding of why and how they are performed. Many believe that these procedures are painful, performed purely for convenience or cosmetic reasons and have no value. This is completely false….Each of these procedures is a safe, humane standard practice that serves a practical purpose, and in the case of ear cropping and tail docking, preserves a dog’s ability to perform its historic function.”
(“Issue Analysis: Dispelling the Myths of Cropped Ears, Docked Tails, Dewclaws, and Debarking”, The American Kennel Club)

Yep, you read right: having ears and other body parts amputated is a pain-free procedure – the dogs told us so!

It gets better, with the AKC’s justification of a dog’s “historic function”:

The Boxer…has traditionally been used for a number of important tasks including… seeing-eye dogs for the blind. The cropped ears help enhance the Boxer’s hearing, thereby helping it perform its tasks to the best of its ability.


Other dogs…were historically kept in stables to catch vermin…. Cropping the ears protected them from damaging bites when cornering a rat ….


Hunting and sporting breeds…often go into thick brush to track game. While some of these breeds have thick, strong tails…other breeds that have weaker tails…prone to injury when they run through thick brush or brambles.   [2]

In the same way, a docked tail on a terrier makes it stronger, which helps an owner more safely and easily pull these burrowing dogs out of holes….

 

Gee, the breeds most commonly used for guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Standard Poodles and Retriever/Labrador crosses, and they somehow manage to hear what they need to hear without having their big, floppy ears cropped.

The practices of ear and tail bobbing are cruel and anachronistic.  Education about these procedures is one way to stop these procedures.  Another way is to encourage people to exercise their right to choose when selecting a dog breed.

“Mutts are the Hondas of the dog world. They’re cheap, reliable and what nature intended in the first place.”
( Columnist Mike Capuzzo, quoted in a 1994 Time magazine article on the effects of over-breeding which reported that
as many as 25 percent of the 20 million purebred dogs in the US are afflicted with a serious genetic problem. )

We now pause for the well-known if oft-ignored plea for people to adopt mixed breeds. Others have made the argument more eloquently than I could, including here and here.

 

It’s time to go all judgmental on y’alls asses.

 

So, you think you really want a purebred Doberman, for breed personality or other qualities, not just “the look.”  Tell all Doberman breeders you contact that since you’ve done your research and know that tail and ear docking are purely cosmetic procedures that serve no health or behavioral purpose for the dog, you want your Dobie “au natural.” Then, stick to your principles and refuse to buy one from a breeder who will not comply with your request.

If you cannot find breeders who will honor this request, boycott that breed.  Really; just say no.  These mutilating practices could be stopped in one generation, if people would simply acknowledge their own selfishness and brainwashing by breeders (“This is the classic Doberman look!”).

 

Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.

 

Or if you are, for whatever reasons, attracted to that ear-docked look, remind yourself where that “look” comes from.  If, even after educating yourself as to the barbarity and total uncalled-for-ness of tail and ear bobbing, you still want to get a puppy from a breeder who insists upon confirming to the breed standard and performing those practices, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself and your values. And don’t “adopt” any pet more sentient than a dust bunny.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegans Go Nuts, by Celine Steel & Joni Marie Newman
Recipe:  Pistachio Pesto Rice & Beans

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you never think a dog would be improved by amputating parts of its tail and/or ears;
May you be the proud protagonist of a precocious poop story;
May we all stop having to hope and work for a “next time;”
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Thanks to the podcast Curiosity Daily for the inspiration to remember a blast from my past. I had speech therapy in grade school for a mild lisp, and one day my fellow lispers and I tortured each other by challenging ourselves to pronounce certain words and phrases.  “Antithesis” and “wasp’s nests” were the winners.

[2] Well then, those breeds shouldn’t be used for such “sporting,” should they?

[3] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[4]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Habits I’m Not Building

Comments Off on The Habits I’m Not Building

Department Of Is Writing This Weekly Blog A Good Habit,
Or Indicative of Moiself’s Amazing Willpower?

At the end of last month, just around the time when folks might be thinking of making New Year’s resolutions, the Hidden Brain podcast ran an appropriate episode:

“At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We vow to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. How do we actually develop good habits and maintain them? What about breaking bad ones?”
( “Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become”
(12-30-19), intro to Hidden Brain podcast)

Moiself had listened to the podcast when it first ran, but did so while distracted and didn’t remember much about it.  When MH asked me earlier this week if I had listened to it, I decided to relisten. MH found the podcast, especially the parts about how people use psychological “tricks” on themselves to build habits, to be very interesting:

“It turns out that when you build a habit, it’s like putting on a set of unconscious mental blinders. Once in place, the blinders protect you from temptations and distractions.
The more you ignore those temptations, the stronger the blinders become. To put this another way, habits are self-reinforcing. They can be difficult to start but once in place, they have a life of their own because they stop being conscious and become automatic and unconscious.
In fact, once you have developed a habit, you will stick to it even if the alternative is objectively easier.”

 

 

I was more interested in the mini-debate/subtext of the episode.  The host, NPR Social Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, and his guest, Wendy Wood, USC professor of psychology and business, bantered about the idea that “… significant numbers of Americans believe that the way to change their behavior is through self-control, that willpower is the key to either making changes that stick or to making changes that fail to stick.”  Wood cited several examples of willpower fail, and said that “performing a behavior,” which leads to habit-building, is more effective.

IMHO, the points that were made re habit vs. willpower were mere quibbling over semantics. For true behavior and/or lifestyle alteration you need both, and there is overlap. Neither the host nor his guest made the delineation clear; it seemed as they were acknowledging – or assuming – that there is something “judgy” about using the term willpower, so they refer to “establishing good habits” instead of “exercising willpower.”

As someone who, over the years, has established and maintained several good habits (e.g. regular exercise) as well as taken on a few bad ones (never you mind), it is both my opinion and experience that you can’t have good habits without willpower, and vice-versa.  “Good habits” and willpower” are complementary, not conflicting.  But as long as we aren’t sure about this, someone will try to convince us one way or another.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 3 in a series

When driving to or from Tacoma,   [1] one of the sights I have come to look forward to is the Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® , on the east side of I-5 near Chehalis, WA.

 

 

This message is par for the course for Right Wing Uncle Sam (RWUS), whose baleful countenance reminds me of Balok, the fearsome (and false, as it turns out) alien from the Star Trek TOS episode, The Corbomite Maneuver.

 

 

The billboard is notorious in These Here Parts (it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and has been up since the 1970s. The original wackadoodle wingnut archconservative who erected and maintained the billboard and changed the messages weekly died over a decade ago; his survivors have kept it going.

Poor RWUS, seemingly doomed for life to hector travelers north and south (it’s a two-sided wingnut fest billboard!). No wonder his severe visage, as if he were trying to maintain composure while being administered a perpetual colonoscopy by government-employed, immigrant gay Russian liberal Muslims dressed like John Kerry.   [2]

Returning to Oregon on Sunday after a long weekend in Tacoma, my view on the trip south was a rather mild, for RWUS: “Be glad Pelosi is not commander-in-chief.”  I forget what it was on the trip north…but RWUS seems to be losing his fire.  I used to count on his irrational screeds entertaining and stimulating messages to lull me out of highway hypnosis and remind moiself to pull over at the next rest stop and do some calisthenics.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of I’m Too Old For This…Except When I’m Not.

My most recent opportunity to see Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® was last weekend, when I ventured north to help daughter Belle move from her tiny studio apartment into a roomier rental.  Belle is much cuter than but just as strong as the proverbial ox…

…as I was, at her age (well, the strong part).  But the Strong Young People ® who were promised to help Belle and I never materialized.  So it was my daughter and moiself, the latter feeling (and probably looking) more like the Decrepit Crypt Keeper than the Dynamic Couch Mover after two days of schlepping furniture and boxes up and down stairs and in and out of vans….

“I’m almost forty years older than you,” I huffed on Day 2, trying (and failing) to find a handhold on one end of a very heavy and extremely softly upholstered (read: slippery) couch.  “I’m too old for this…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But, you *are* doing this,” Belle remarked.

Which caused moiself  to wonder, Who raised this smartass?

 

“You want the futon *where*?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reflections,
While Resting Outside An Apartment Building,
Between Bouts of Furniture Moving,
Watching People And Their Dogs Walk By

Aka, Dog Poo Haiku

I see them each day:
Patiently, or otherwise
waiting, bag in hand.

Before them it squats:
hindquarters raised; tail aloft;
butthole aquiver.

The owners stand by,
impassively accepting
their twice daily task.

I often wonder,
as the doggies deliver
a fresh poop package,

If their owners knew
what they’d be getting into
each day, without fail

This is what you do;
A primal identity:
Fetcher of feces.

They scoop, once again.
I smile, silently praising
our litterboxes.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Well, Duh
Sub Department Of It’s Nice To Give The “Florida Man” Headline A Break, And See
“Florida Woman Does BatShit Crazy Thing” For A Change

It seems that some Christian folks be losing their Jesus shit over a video clip of President #45’s “Spiritual Adviser…”

 

Yeah, I know, right?

 

Ahem…the President’s Spiritual Adviser Paula White, her arms shaking in Pentecostal fundy lunacy fervor, praying during her January 5 sermon to congregants at her City of Loony Tunes Destiny church in Apopka, Florida. In the clip, posted to Twitter by a group that monitors radical right wing organizations, White prays as Jesus instructed his followers to do,  [3] and urges her flock to “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

 

Well of course she doesn’t.  Instead, she blathers entreats her supernatural friends:

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies
to miscarry right now.
We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs
that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth
any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

Why is this so offensive and astonishing for some people?  Yeah, yeah, there is the flaming hypocrisy of a Pentecostal preacher who opposes abortion calling for her deity to abort pregnancies of people she deems evil….  [4]

But, really: is this surprising?

My well-known and ongoing critique of religion is evident on these (cyber) pages.  I also count religious believers among my family and friends – people I love, admire and respect (the people themselves – not necessarily the origins and contents of their religious beliefs).   However, unlike Penty Preacher Paula And Her Fundy Fans,   [5]  these people’s beliefs, like the religious beliefs and practices of most contemporary American Christians, are informed and constrained by modernity.

Whether or not what I will call these MCs – modern (moderate?) Christians – realize this, and whether or not MCs consider their beliefs and practices to be an authentic interpretation and application of their scriptures, they simply do not believe nor practice as their religious ancestors did.  Many of the MCs’ fundamentalist fellow Christians criticize them for this ( “Cafeteria Christians,”   [6]  anyone?)

But this Happy Apostate is glad that MCs give themselves license to resolve their cognitive dissonance by declaring that certain of their scriptures are meant to be allegorical or somehow do not apply in the present day (even though the scriptures themselves say no such thing).

Look: I’m glad that most MCs do not heed Jesus’s advice to demonstrate signs of their belief by handling snakes and scorpions and drinking poison  [7]   because Jesus has given them power over such things and assures them that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Even so, the practice persists: a professor of psychology at UTC, who has for 25+ years studied and documented serpent-handling among Christians documents over 100 deaths of sincere believers (this is in our times, not the 1700s) from snake bites and drinking poison.

I’m also tickled several shades of apostate pink that, despite their Jesus warning them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away,
not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished”
 
(Matt: 5 17-18)

most MCs pick-and-choose among the 613 commandments of their god.

I’ve no problem with MCs who heed the commandment to respect their god’s name (Lev. 22:32). I’m *really* happy that MCs ignore the commandments to kill non-believers (John 15:6; Deut 13; 2 Chron 15) and people who work on the sabbath (Exodus 35) and stubborn and rebellious sons (Deut. 21) and those who curse or blaspheme (Lev. 24) or have consensual non-marital sex ( Deut . 22 & Lev. 20) or….

I’m pleased when you MCs find ways to live peaceful and useful lives that help and not harm others, even as I’m gob-smacked by your naivete – e.g., your being shocked when a fundy preacher calls for your god to end the pregnancies of perceived enemies.  Because even the robes of modernity cannot clothe the naked nuttiness of the primitive, pre-science, blood sacrifice-based foundation of Christian theology.

Without regurgitating a tract-worthy summation you had to memorize in seventh grade confirmation class (or one which a friend or coworker felt obliged to “share” with you); without falling back on the centuries of Church theology that tell you how you’re supposed to see things, try to explain even one aspect of classic Christian theology.  The “Fall leading to Original Sin leading to separation from god leading to reconciliation and redemption only through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (who, according to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was actually the afore-mentioned god).”

Try explaining that to a ten year old.  Or, to yourself:

“Okay, it’s like this: God’s own child, who was fathered by God Himself and who is/was that same God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity (so, yeah, God impregnated His own mother)…


uh, anyway, moving right along, God killed God’s own child  (committed suicide, actually, since the Trinity means that Jesus is God) as the ultimate blood/animal sacrifice, which was the only way to appease God’s anger for something God allowed the humans He created to do (and in fact knew that they would do, since God is all-knowing)…


and although this God *is* (of course and by definition) all-powerful, this God couldn’t accomplish this appeasement in any other way…and believing all of this is the only way to God.”

 

 

Of course #45’s “Spiritual Advisor” said what she said.  Even way back in the 1700s, enlightened thinkers warned political leaders and common folk alike of the dangers of the irrationality of religion:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities,
can make you commit atrocities.”

( Voltaire,  “Questions sur les miracles,” 1765 )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [8]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson
Recipe:  Pale Ale Stew

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

May your habits and willpower peacefully coexist;
May your pet waste disposal routines inspire poetic masterpieces;
May you never be too old to help my your child move furniture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which I do several times a year to visit daughter Belle, who lives and works there.

[2] Some of the favorite targets of the billboard’s founder.

[3] According to Matthew 5:44.

[4] Read: opposing the president. She also prays during her sermon for the “superior blood of Jesus” break “any strange winds that have been sent…against our President.”

[5] Sounds like a Lawrence Welk Show side act, eh?

[6] “Cafeteria Christians” is a derogatory term used by conservative Christians to critique the beliefs and practices of more liberal Christians who choose which doctrines and scriptures they will follow literally, and which they will not.

[7] Mark 16 and Luke 10

[8] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) once recipe from one book.

[9]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who’d eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

 

The Middle I’m Not Meeting In

Comments Off on The Middle I’m Not Meeting In

Department Of This Is Way Too Existential Of A Question To Tackle Before Breakfast

Sub-Department of Could This Be Another Variant of Male Directile Dysfunction?

Dateline: Sunday morning, circa 7 am; Bay Area town, visiting friends who live in a hilly neighborhood with many winding roads.  MH and I are out for a morning walk. A car slowly approaches us from behind, and slows even more but doesn’t quite stop, as the driver, an older Asian man, rolls down the window and in lightly accented English, asks, “Do you know where I am going?”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m A Middle Child, But Sometimes You Gotta Choose Sides

“There’s nothing in the middle of the road
but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.”
( Jim Hightower, Texan, progressive political activist, former Agriculture commissioner,
author of There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion      [1] )

 

Time to revisit a brief but wise meditation of the myth of the morality of middle ground. Excerpts from There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground, by Tayari Jones,  Emory university professor and author  (my emphases ) :

“…we are in a political moment where we find ourselves on opposite sides of what feels like an unbreachable gulf. I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground. People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space. This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.”

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon….”

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic….

The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant
than the issues over which we are sparring.

Is the importance of our performance of national unity more significant than our core values? Is it more meaningful that we understand why some of us support the separation of children from their parents, or is it more crucial that we support the reunification of these families?… Should we agree to disagree about the murder and dismemberment of a journalist?

The romance of the middle can exist when one’s empathy is aligned with the people expressing opinions on policy or culture rather than with those who will be affected by these policies or cultural norms. Buried in this argument, whether we realize it or not, is the fact that these policies change people’s lives.

Compromise is not valuable in its own right,
and justice seldom dwells in the middle.”

Check out this essay in its entirety, originally published last year (11-5-18) in Time.

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [2]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Minimalists Cooks at Home, by Mark Bittman
Recipe:   Piquillo Peppers with Shitakes and Spinach

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [3]           

*   *   *

Department Of Explaining Blog Brevity

Moiself is recently returned from a trip to Bay Area, to help longtime friends memorialize their 27-year-old son, who died unexpectedly in August.  MH and I also visited friends who graciously offered us accommodations during the trip — the same dear friends whose 27-year-old daughter was murdered in January.

The lingering trauma of losing a child of any age, and especially in violent circumstances, cannot be underestimated…nor fully comprehended.

 

 

*   *   *

May you be patient with those of us trying to comprehend the incomprehensible;
May you be wary of “meeting in the middle”;
May you continue to remember to  love ‘em while you’ve got ‘em;

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which is snort-laughing funny; moiself recommends y’all read it.

[2] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[3]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

The Dream I’m Not Forgetting

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Department Of Some Things Are Worth The Wait

The tag on the gift bag, written in son K’s distinctive script, read, “The incredibly late Xmas present.” And I remembered what I had long forgotten:  a promise, in the form of a preliminary drawing, of a creature-type mask or object K would make for me, as a Christmas present, to go on The Wall of Faces. ®

Lest that not seem self-explanatory to y’all, The Wall of Faces ® is a wall, in our home, upon which hang numerous objects d’art. Many are masks, but not all; in order to get a coveted spot on TWOF the art must be 3-D (e.g., not a painting) and must have something which (loosely or otherwise) can be construed as a face.

Welcome to the wall, creature of mystery.

*   *   *

Department Of Separating The Art From The Artist

In November 2000, Jim DeRogatis, then music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, received an anonymous fax in response to a review of he’d written of R&B star R. Kelly….The fax read:
“I’ve known Robert [R. Kelly] for many years and I’ve tried to get him to get help, but he just won’t do it. So I’m telling you about it hoping that you or someone at your newspaper will write an article and then Robert will have no choice but to get help. … Robert’s problem — … that goes back many years — is young girls.
DeRogatis began investigating the allegations and…published a story…alleging that Kelly had engaged in sex with teenage girls…. DeRogatis expected the response to the story to be explosive, but instead it was muted….  In February 2002, DeRogatis received another anonymous tip, this time in the form a videotape purportedly showed Kelly having sex with and urinating on an underage girl. “It was horrifying,” DeRogatis says of the tape. “The worst thing I’ve ever had to witness in my life.

(From the Fresh Air, June 4 2019 interview with reporter Jim DeRogatis, who has covered the R. Kelly sexual abuse story for 19 years, “Reporter Who Broke R. Kelly Story: Abuse Was In ‘Full View Of The World’ ” )

Daughter Belle & I have had several talks over the years about the conundrum of separating the art from the artist; specifically, continuing to read/view/purchase superb (however you define that) art which, some argue, is  justified by the art itself, when the artist is known (or later revealed) to be a monster…or maybe just a deeply flawed human being whom you’d rather not throw your money at.

In our most recent conversation about the issue, which took place a couple of months ago, I remember that Belle thought it important to note that for some people even the mention of the “monster” artist’s name can be a trigger…while moiself thought it important to note that for some other people, the mention of someone having a “trigger” [1]  is a trigger for anti-trigger  lectures (“If you need a trigger warning, you need PTSD treatment.”)

 

And for some more of us, any mention of “trigger warning” has us visualizing the oncoming approach of a Roy Rogers movie.

I can’t say where or how every person should draw the line in every instance of Good Art/Bad Artist. I’m in favor of people drawing their own lines; mine are circumstantial and context-dependent. To wit: Woody Allen.  I loved much of his work in the 1970 -80s, even as I also found parts of it disturbing – e.g., the relationship between Allen’s character and the teenager played by Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan curdled my tummy way before I’d ever heard the name, Soon Yi .  My once well-worn DVDs of Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters were consigned to the Goodwill pile several years ago. I just can’t go there, anymore.

Moiself is not a fan of judging the people of the past with the knowledge and standards of the present. If given the chance to see the Pyramids of Egypt I may do so, even as my appreciation of their majesty would be tempered by knowing that it was slave labor which produced them.

I do fully support (and hopefully/consistently practice) holding the contemporary art and artist to the ethical standards of the here and now. If the artist is active now and their art is obviously supportive of or relates to their “crimes” (e.g., racism, sexual assault, misogyny, plain bone-headed idiocy….), then no ick money from moiself.

For fans who are conflicted about the R. Kelly case: if you are too lazy (or fearful of what you’ll learn) to read the documented, two decades trail of R, Kelly assault allegations and their coverup, just listen to the Fresh Air interview (excerpted above) with the reporter who followed the story.  Listen to the reporter’s voice, and note how it breaks when he describes knowing what he knows, what he found out, about what happened to those girls, and how Kelly was protected because of his “art” – because of the money he made for everyone in his inner circle and record label.  You may not have known about this before; now you do, and there can be no excuses, no denying that your purchases of any R. Kelly product is buying into the protection of a deeply disturbed, serial sexual predator.

Or, on a related if definitely less gut-churning scale, consider my warning, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, to a college dorm buddy who was into Donny Osmond as an anti-cool/retro thing:

Do you realize 10% of your Donny & Marie album $$ goes to the Mormon church?

 

“I’m leavin’ it all up to you/you decide my tithe….”

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Department Of July 20, 1969

I’ve been reading a lot of Where were you/do you remember what you were doing? stories as we approach the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.  My memories include serving my parents, my older sister and moiself little sherry glasses of Manischewitz Concord Grape – the only wine my parents had in the house (it was used for communion at the church the we attended; I think it was the only wine my parents knew about)  to toast humanity’s amazing achievement. I also remember walking outside, alone, later that evening, looking up into the darkness with a full and aching heart.

 

If it’s good enough for Lutherans’ blood-of-Christ stand in, it’s good enough for the moon landing

 

A part of me remembers it so vividly: the excitement…as well as the beginning of a kind of mourning for that which would not be – a feeling of bereavement which lingered long after I and the world began to take space travel for granted. Because up until that time and for years afterwards, my do you remember what you were doing? stories involved remembering how I was lying to adults, including my parents.

My parents watched every televised Project Mercury, Project Gemini, and Apollo Program space launch, and they’d wake my older sister and moiself up early for the former launches, so that we could witness the historic events. A day or so prior the launches, Dad would go to a local appliance store and procure a refrigerator packing box. He’d set up the box in the living room, about fifteen feet from our black and white TV set, and cut out “viewing screen” windows in the box’s’ front and side panels.  We’d watched the massive rockets launch, my parents sitting on the floor, softly talking to one another, while my sister and I piloted our cardboard spacecraft.

To be an astronaut was my secret ambition – my career wish that I kept hidden from everyone, including and especially my parents – from grade school through high school. The only way I can explain my obsessive secrecy about that ambition is the fact that I took the classic (if mistaken) birthday advice, re making a wish and blowing out the candles in your birthday cake, to heart:

If you tell someone your wish, it won’t come true.

So whenever I was asked the What do you want to be when you grow up question, I told my parents and the grups   [2]  who asked – and it was only grups who asked that question – my cover story: that I wanted to be a veterinarian. Which was not true.  [3]  But it was an accepted and even respected answer, so I stuck to it over the years.

My excitement at the moon launch was tempered with the fear and disappointment of the reality that stared me in the face with every news story about astronauts and every new spacecraft launch: a reality populated by men.  Space flight was a men-only club – and not just any men, but military pilot men.  As much as I dared to hope for the slim chance that women might be allowed to try out for the astronaut corps in the future, by the time I entered high school it seemed obvious that civilians of either gender could not be astronauts, as NASA was (at that time) wedded to the military. While in grade school I told myself I’d do anything to be an astronaut, but as the years went by (and the Vietnam War dragged on), I had to be honest with myself: joining the military, any branch, was the one thing I knew I could not bring moiself to do.

Decades after I’d given up my (still secret) astronaut dream, I raised another glass to toast Sally Ride, the Stanford-educated physicist who was the first (American) woman in space. It was groovy to the max when some radio DJs began playing the old Wilson Pickett song in her honor – Mustang Sally, with its beyond cool chorus, Ride Sally, ride!

 

 

I continued to cheer for Ride and other civilian crew members of those Space Shuttle missions, even as I kicked myself for my lack of foresight.  It. Never. Occurred. To. Me. to imagine, back in my school days when all evidence was to the contrary, that anyone who was non-military could be considered for space travel. I’d no idea that one day civilian scientists (“mission specialists”) would be not only “allowed” but recruited to try out for the USA astronaut corps.

DAMN.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

 Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India’s favorite Street Food,
by  Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub.

Recipes:  *Classic Dosa batter; * Onion and Chile Dosa Pancake; * Green Chutney

My ratings:

For Classic Dosa batter:

 

For Onion and Chile Dosa Pancake:

 

For  Green Chutney:

 

Recipe Rating Refresher    [5]

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

May you carefully weigh your own good art/bad artist dilemmas;
May you appreciate the sublimity of a piquant green chutney;
May you get your groove on to Mustang Sally and consider, for fond memories
or for regret, your own misplaced ambitions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] “something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.” (Psych Central, “What is a trigger?“)

[2] Grown-ups. As every Star Trek fan knows.

[3] I loved my pets, always liked learning about animals, and obsessively read every wild animal/nature book I could get my hands on. But, to be a veterinarian involved working with people as much as their pets – I figured that out from a young age – and to me, people were often stupid and boring…but veterinarian seemed one of the few animal-related professions that adults approved of, which I also figured out at a young age.

[4] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[5]

 * Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin would like this.  

* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up .

* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.

* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

The Name I’m Not Misspelling

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Department Of What Got Me A Free Meal + Glass Of Wine On My Flight Home

Dateline: Tuesday afternoon; returning from a trip to SoCal.   [1]   I am on an Alaska Airlines flight, seated in aisle seat of one of the two exit rows (a “privilege/responsibility” for which I willingly pay extra).   [2]  The flight attendant assigned to our section of the plane stands next to me in the aisle and begins her responsibilities-of-sitting-in-an-exit-row spiel.  When she gets to the part about how we should all should remove and read the safety pamphlet in the seat pocket in front of us, she glances down to indicate the seat pocket closest to her, which is mine, and notices that my safety pamphlet is already opened and in my lap.

Alaska Flight Attendant, pointing at me: “Wow – look at her!
Someone is prepared; I’m impressed!”
Moiself: Hey, this isn’t my first exit row rodeo.

 

Pay attention to the flotation device instructions or I’ll have to hog-tie y’all.

 

 

AFA (along with my fellow exit row seat occupiers) burst out laughing. It was a nice way to begin a flight, if I do say so moiself (and I just did).

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Flight Attendants

After said round of laughter quieted down and the AFA finished her spiel, she asked my name, and seemed both surprised and pleased with my response. “We have the same name!” she gushed.   [3]   I scanned her uniform; she was not wearing a (visible to me) nametag. I asked how she spelled her version of our name.

“I bet you spell it the “wrong” way,” I teased.
“Well, how do you spell it?” she countered.
“With a Y,” I said. “R-o-b-y-n.”
“Me too,” she said, “only with more: R-o-b-y-n-e.”
“Oh, that’s even wrong-er,” I laughed.

When it came time for the first beverage service and she gave me a cup of water, I said, oozing with solicitousness, “Thank you, Robyne,” followed by, “Oh, how I love saying that.”  She responded with, “You’re so welcome, Robyn.” For the remainder of the flight we exchanged rounds of Thank you Robyne/You’re welcome Robyn at every opportunity.

*   *   *

Department Of One More This About That

On my section of the exit row (seats A, B & C) I was in the aisle seat; the middle seat was unoccupied, and there was a gentleman in his mid-late 60s occupying the window seat. Near the end of the flight Aisle Seat Gentleman and I engaged in some chitchat, and he asked, in a way that made me assume he expected a positive answer, if I worked for Alaska (Airlines).  [4]  I told him no, and asked  what made him that think I might?  He said it was the “kind and confident banter” I exchanged with the flight attendant and other passengers.

I thanked him (“I’ll take that as a compliment”) and added, “I figure, we’re all stuck on what is essentially a big bus with wings, so why not make it easy on everyone?”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of What The TSA Missed

On the return flight from SoCal to Portland I fully expected to have my carryon bag searched. During my visit I had purchased a small piece of art, from a Laguna Beach gallery featuring artist Rodney “Rodrigo” McCoubrey who works with reclaimed/recycled materials (www.rodrigosrecycledart.com ).  Buoy Fish was indeed made with parts of a buoy, but also metal plates and screws and had protruding nails….

 

 

 

 

I packed it right on top of my carry-on bag, so it would be easy to remove and show the TSA folks when they detected the potential shrapnel metal in the scanner.  Nope; nada. The TSA dude operating the scanner was practically yawning as my bag and Buoy Fish sailed on through. Which kinda fit in with my theory of how the TSA was working during the government shutdown.

Even though I have TSA precheck (I signed up for the Global Entry program last year, and thus always get the precheck line), on my flight down to SoCal I was concerned about how the security lines might be because of the shutdown. TSA employees are in the category of federal employees deemed “essential,” and must show up to work despite not getting paid. Rumor had it that they might take out their frustration by calling in sick, etc., but on both the flight out of PDX and the one back from SNA I carefully watched both “my” line (precheck) and the regular TSA line, and there seemed to be the usual number of staff.

However…

When I fly I always watch both of the TSA lines, to pass the time  and also because it’s entertaining: guaranteed, there’ll be one guy from Texas   [5]   who apparently is the only guy in the US of A who has not flown in the past 20 years – also, he has also not paid attention to the instructions of the TSA agents, nor the many signs he has passed while in line, nor the actions of the people shuffling in the line with him…so he gets to the front of the line to go through the metal detector/scanner and spends five minutes struggling to remove his cowboy boots and his dinner plate-sized, brass American eagle, you’re-supposed-to-think-I-won-this-at-a-rodeo belt buckle.

 

Not the least big gaudy, no ma’am.

 

 

However, these recent two times in the TSA lines I saw how everyone and everything just breezed on through security (I even heard one passenger comment to another about how they’d neglected to fully empty their water bottle, but “nobody caught it.”). Basically, it seemed to I that unless you were wearing a vest made of 20 sticks of dynamite attached to a ticking timer on your chest and chanting Allahu Akbar,   [6]   the TSA dudes   [7] were like, Move along folks, nothing here to see, it’s all good.

 

*   *   *

Department Of How To Sound Like Your Parents

Are we headed for the last week in January, already?

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you never sound like your parents…
even though sounding like someone else’s parents is totally fine;
May you enjoy an exit row rodeo before you die;     [8]
May you find ways to make it easy on everyone, including yourself;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To attend a niece’s baby shower. Moiself cannot remember the last time I attended a baby shower…I managed to (mostly) behave moiself.

[2] I enjoy the extra legroom, and frankly, have y’all take a good luck at your fellow passengers when you travel by air? I trust moiself to get people out of the plane.

[3] We Robyn/Robins tend to get quite attached to one another when we meet, as we have usually grown up being the only one in our classrooms/jobs with that name.

[4] I found out his wife had retired from Alaska and their daughter currently works for the airline.

[5] In actuality or in spirit.

[6] A once rather benign phrase in Arabic ( translation: “God is Great”) hijacked (sorry) by suicide bombers and other Islamic terrorists who shout it right before they are about to kill or maim.

[7] Dudes used in the equal opportunity sense – there were both male and female dudes.

[8] But not, like, right before you die. I mean, don’t enjoy it, and then die….

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