Department Of One Person‘s Cool Fact Is Another Person’s Bloodcurdling Nightmare
I count myself fortunate to be in the former camp, as per moiself’s reaction when I learned about the phenomenon known as spider rain.
Moiselfhad heard about spider “ballooning,” which is the way some hatchling spiders migrate and disperse.
But I didn’t know that a bunch of spiders ballooning at the same time is called a spider rain. Ain’t nature grand?
“Ballooning is a not-uncommon behavior of many spiders. They climb some high area and stick their butts up in the air and release silk. Then they just take off…. This is going on all around us all the time. We just don’t notice it.” (Rick Vetter, UCR arachnologist)
The reason people don’t usually notice this ingenious spider behavior is that it’s not common for millions of spiders to do this at the same time, and then land in the same place….In these kinds of events [spider rains], what’s thought to be going on is that there’s a whole cohort of spiders that’s ready to do this ballooning dispersal behavior, but for whatever reason, the weather conditions haven’t been optimal and allowed them to do that. But then the weather changes, and they have the proper conditions to balloon, and they all start to do it.” (Todd Blackledge, biology professor, University of Akron in Ohio).
(“Cloudy with a Chance of Arachnids?
Spider Rain’ Explained” livescience.com )
She’s ready for the spider rain; are you?
* * *
Department Of Celebrating That Which Also Needs Mourning
Thinking about the torturous path to women’s suffrage. As the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment approaches, I’ve been listening to podcasts ( e.g., She Votes! Our Battle for the Ballot) and watching TV shows (e.g., American Experience: The Vote ) detailing the long history. Some of it I already knew, via college classes and independent reading. And, some of it I didn’t…and, as with many civil rights issues, learning the history is both illuminating and nauseating. The latter because of why there had to be a 19th amendment in the first place.
Two other amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th – specifically, its first section, aka The Equal Protection Clause – and the 15th amendment in its entirety, should have taken care of that. Here are the referenced texts (my emphases)
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The reason the 19th amendment was needed to give women the vote is because gender/sex needed to be mentioned specifically…because, until it was, the14th and 15th amendments would not be applied, to women, by male jurists and lawmakers. The only conclusion possible for as to why, given the gender neutral language of the above amendments, is because women were not considered to be included in the terms “people, or “citizens.”
All together now:
Moiself has also been ruminating on the broader implications behind one of the more common arguments which was presented against women’s suffrage: the idea that the awesome responsibility of voting would take women “out of the home.”
This idea was accompanied by the usual horseshit arguments re a woman’s supposed “delicate feminine nature/sensibilities,” which might be jostled by the strain of voting and civic engagement. That is an interesting juxtaposition with the argument that the importance and rigors of child-reading and household maintaining were such that only women were qualified to do them, yet no one argued that *those* particular rigors were too much for the delicate female nature.
Education; employment; political action – anything which might distract (read: unshackle) women from what was considered to be their primary sphere – taking care of home and husband and children – was threatening to most men. Some folks even used the lame argument that granting women equal voting rights to men would be a “come down” from women’s “superior” position That absurdity argument held that the raising of children made women the fictional proverbial power behind the throne, and that by raising future (male) leaders and voters women could more effectively influence public policy than by actually voting themselves. 
Really; they used that argument.
All of the emphasis on The Home ®- that a loving, stable, well-run household and the rearing of children are the foundations of civilization – guess what? No argument from moiself on that account – although I strongly differ as to the relegation of such important work to only one gender.
But using that reason – the paramount importance of household management and child-rearing – as an argument to deny voting to half the human population holds about as much water as a cheesecloth catheter bag.
Yep, I’m proud of that one.
The thing is, men truly didn’t believe the argument themselves, or they would have taken over the management of home and children.
Yes this is so incredibly important- the most important thing in the world, actually!…but we want someone else to do it, and we want them to remain mostly invisible, and have no political power.
History shows us that anything patriarchal societies deem to be of upmost importance they also declare women as being incapable of, and/or forbidden by “nature” (read: religion), of successfully doing.
If the preparation and maintaining of a household and the raising of children were indeed considered to be of supreme importance to society, where was the remuneration for doing so – then, as well as now? Child-rearing and household management, for women at least and for the most part, continue to be all-encompassing “jobs” which have no independent financial recompense, professional status, or safety net. 
So, yeah. The 100th anniversary of MORE THAN HALF THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY obtaining the right to vote…a mere ONE HUNDRED FORTY FOUR YEARS after their country is founded…is noteworthy, and the struggle for our country’s universal suffrage should be better known and taught. But the more I learn about what the struggle entailed, the less cartwheels I feel like doing.
And besides, mine would look something like this.
* * *
Department Of I Hate The Fact That The Analogy Is So Apropos
Friend JWW’s disturbingly astute observations, shared on Facebook, after the first presidential debate:
I am afraid of this president. If this is how he comports himself in front of the whole United States of America on national TV….
He was threatening and says if he does not win the election then things will not end well. What is that supposed to mean? If he doesn’t win what is he going to do? This makes me very frightened about what the future holds for the USA.
I am also afraid because I am a woman and this president sounds like an abusive husband or boyfriend. I am afraid because if a woman wants to leave a guy like that, she has to be afraid that if she does leave, he will come and hunt her down and kill her and her children. There is no way out. Restraining orders don’t work. So many women are killed even when the guy has a restraining order against him.
We need to vote him out. Vote him out. Vote him out.
And even then we are not sure he will leave.
* * *
Pun For The Day
Why hasn’t #45  ever finished a novel? Because he always gets stuck in Chapter 11.
* * *
May you remember to vote him out; May you remind everyone you know to vote him out; May you convince total strangers at the grocery store to vote him out; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 There were some women making the same argument, which should not be surprising, considered that they as well as men were subject to the same cultural mythos, forces and expectations.
 Other than via financial dependency upon a spouse, which can disappear at drop of a hat (as in a divorce decree or death certificate).
 There was nothing presidential about #45’s deportment.
 Aka Little Chief Bunker Bitch, and other assorted monikers employed by those of us who love our country and thus cannot bear to use the given name of the man who shits all over it.
As delighted as I am to be able to wish y’all a (belated) happy autumnal equinox, as we enter this, my favorite season of the year, I am girding my proverbial loins for the onslaught of pumpkin-spiced products which flood the market at this time of year (and which one day may include nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon scented, loin-girding cloths).
Yo, y’all marketing types: Are there no other scents or flavors or ambiances associated with autumn – falling leaves? bales of hay? football cleats? – which can be exploited?
It seems you can’t spit (and moiself has tried) without hitting a pumpkin spice candle, room deodorizer, latte, coffee creamer, soap, lotion, shampoo, syrup, dried pasta, yogurt pretzels, dinner mints, liqueurs…but wait – there’s more.
If the devil  came to your autumn housewarming party, his host gift to you would be a bottle of pumpkin spice vodka, and this:
* * *
Department Of 2020 Has Been Bad Enough, But… I REALLY DON’T NEED THIS IMAGE IN MY BRAIN, OKAY?!?!?!?!
Dateline: last Saturday; early afternoon. I eject the exercise DVD I’ve been flailing about to working out with, and my TV reverts to…some old western movie. As I return the DVD to its holder and begin to take off my shoes and socks, it’s apparently time for an advertisement break. The images on TV change from Men on Horses ® to a series of sad/frustrated/dispirited-looking men holding up various curved/sagging vegetables: a curvy carrot, an arced cucumber, a badly bent banana….
I find moiself longing for the days when advertisements for undergarments couldn’t even mention which portion of the body the garment was for.
Remember when the makers of bismuth subsalicylate and other GI tract elixirs assumed that the public knew what their products were used for and did not reinforce the idea by showing us line dancers doing routines demonstrating which symptom they represented (e.g., Pepto Bismol’s Diarrhea Dame clutches her derriere)?
On second thought, more line dancers grabbing their butts! Less bendy bananas!
* * *
Department Of It Was A Phenomenon Looooooooong Before It Had A Name
Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence…..
Men explain things to me, still. And no man has ever apologized for explaining, wrongly, things that I know and they don’t. Not yet, but according to the actuarial tables, I may have another forty-something years to live, more or less, so it could happen. Though I’m not holding my breath.
After hearing yet another friend’s story of Yet Another One Of Those Workplace Encounters, ® I’ve been thinking of the origin of mansplaining. As in, thinking that the woman who originated the term should get a Nobel Prize for Explicative Clarity. 
The term “mansplaining” was inspired by, but not specifically used in, the 2008 essay by author Rebecca Solnit, which I’ve excerpted above. Definitely a recommended read for anyone – make that, everyone – whether or not you’ve ever mansplained, or have been on the receiving end of a mansplaination, or don’t understand what the fuss is about.
My friend’s story reminded me of another story, one that returns to me now and then, ever since I read it,  which was at least three decades ago. The story, a brief recounting of a specific incident, was included in a writer’s longer magazine article on fatherhood. I don’t recall the entirety of the article, but the gist of that one incident the Writer/Dad shared is forever burned on my brain.
Writer Dad (WD) was working in his home office one weekend when his five-year-old daughter, “Junie,” came inside to see him. Junie had been outside with “Johnny,” a neighbor boy who was her frequent playmate. WD noticed that Junie seemed annoyed, yet also, oddly, thoughtful.
“What’s up, Junie-girl?”  WD asked his daughter.
“I’m mad, Daddy-man.”
“I can see that. Why are you mad, Junie-girl?”
“I don’t think I’m going to play with Johnny anymore. I don’t think I’m going to play with *any* boys anymore. I don’t think I like boys.”
“Why is that?”
“Because they tell you things you already know.”
“Oh… Um…not all boys do this, right?”
Junie nodded. “All boys.”
WD tried to placate her with his best Daddy-man smile. “Even me?”
She paused before responding with a resignation beyond her years. “Even you.”
* * *
Department Of Mansplaining ‘Splained
On July 19, 2018 writer and designed Kim Goodwin came to the rescue on Twitter, with this post, followed by her brilliant diagram on the subject.
“I have had more than one male colleague sincerely ask whether a certain behavior is mansplaining. Since apparently this is hard to figure out, I made one of them a chart.”
* * *
Pun For The Day
I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought, “That’s the last thing I need.”
* * *
Department Of A Blast From The Past Which In Some Ways Reminds Me Of The Present
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (okay; 1998), I was visiting my parents at their home in Santa Ana (CA). On top of the pile of periodicals suffocating their coffee table was the latest issue of a popular weekly news magazine.  Bold, fiery red letters announced the magazine’s cover stor, which was along the lines of,
“1968 – The Year That Shook The World.“
At that time, every other magazine and news outlet were doing stories on the 30th anniversary of 1968. I’d read several such stories, and was happy to see that magazine at my parents’ house, as it provided me with the opportunity to engage my mother in a conversation about 1968, which had been a pivotal year for people all over the world.
My mother wasn’t much for talking politics; even so, she sat down with me and began to reminisce. She remembered the morning in early June when I came out of my bedroom, groggy-eyed and complaining about a very disturbing dream I’d had in which Bobby Kennedy’s helicopter was shot down in our backyard… And I remembered how I looked up into her red eyes, realized that she’d been crying, and then she told me she and Dad had just learned that Senator Robert Kennedy had been assassinated the previous evening.
What with the assassination of MLK two months earlier, the nascent second wave feminist movement, the ongoing Vietnam War and student protests and civil rights protests and unrest around the world….. I recalled 1968 as the beginning of my political awareness, even as I recall my parents saying little if anything whenever I brought “things” up.
Mom admitted she’d used the “changing the subject” strategy when I’d wanted to talk about current events. She said she thought it was her duty to protect her children from depressing information over which they had no control (although she didn’t protect us from reading the newspaper or watching the TV news). Thus, even though she herself was very concerned about “everything that was going on,” she thought she had to maintain a sunny outlook for her kids and act as if everything was okay. “But sometimes…” Marion Parnell shook her head. “That was such a difficult year.”
I remember, it was as if a shadow had crossed over my mother’s face, even though the So Cal sun shown brightly through my parents’ family room window.
“Sometimes,” she murmured, “it felt as if the whole world was on fire… “
What made me think of 1968 is some of the streaming I’ve been doing, of episodes of a particular classic television show. History shows us that chaotic times often lead to the rise of dictators and fascist supermen, who promise security in exchange for liberty. As we presently deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and world economic insecurity, as well as the ramifications of *not* having every dealt with our country’s legacy of slavery and systemic racial injustice, and of having essentially ignored global warming with the resulting magnifying of wildfires and other “natural” disasters, all of this and more compounded by the political and personal corruption and gruesome lack of leadership by a puerile, tyrant-toadying excuse for a president and his sycophantic enablers, I’ve been seeking a nostalgia solace by watching reruns of a sketch comedy show which was launched during the chaos of 50 years ago.
Laugh-In (officially Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In) ran from 1968 – 1973; episodes are available via various streaming platforms, and I’m working my way through the seasons. Even as I’m (re)loving the episodes – for as much as the memories they bring back as well as the content of the episodes themselves – I’m well aware of the catch inherent for shows which strive to be topical: as you look back, the material is (of course and by definition) dated, and in some cases, even arcane. But, that’s part of the fun, for moiself.
I’ve no doubt that my young adult children would be somewhat confused (even bored), in the And just why is this funny? vein, by the show…and I must admit that many of Laugh-In’s slapstick schtick, gags and punchlines fall flat in 2020.
My offspring have grown up in a time when TV shows announce what MH and I call The Five Major Food Groups ratings (MATURE SUBJECT MATTER- SEX – VIOLENCE – FEAR -ADULT LANGUAGE). It is difficult if not impossible to have someone who wasn’t there appreciate the era in which Laugh-In began its run. How do I adequately impart to them what simple, naughty fun it was for a 12-year-old, taking turns watching Laugh-Inwith her friends at each other’s houses, giggling over the fact that the show’s sex and drug references are going right over our parents’ heads (and probably ours as well)?
In each episode I’ve seen there are several sketches/jokes about political or cultural hot button issues at that time, which make me stop and try to remember the references (“Ooh – that guy was a Nixon cabinet member…?”). Also, Laugh-In was not only topical culturally, but locally: it was shot in So Cal (in legendary “Beautiful Downtown Burbank“), and the writers inserted regional references into their skits. MH is 5 ½ years younger than moiself; although he does recall watching Laugh-In it was the show’s regional references, and not its sex & drugs jokes, which confused him, as a seven-year-old Minnesotan. Even today, watching the reruns with me (which he does only as a last resort; i.e. when I’ve commandeered the TV), why would he get – or care about – decades-old jokes about Sam Yorty (Los Angeles’ mayor during Laugh-In‘s run)?
It’s been fun getting reacquainted with my favorite recurring sketches and characters. The Joke Wall; the Party; Tiny Tim, Wolfgang the German soldier (“Verrrrry interesting…”) ; Uncle Al the Kiddies’ Pal; Joanne Worley’s operatic complaints about chicken jokes and “Bo-oooooring!” and her never-seen boyfriend, Boris; Big Al’s Sports (and his “featurette tinkle”); Goldie Hawn’s giggling, vacant-eyed, Dumb Dora persona; “Here Come Da Judge,” The Farkel Family; Judy Carne’s Robot Theatre and “Sock-it-to me”…
Have there ever been a better-named pair of characters than Gladys Ormphby and Tyrone F. Horneigh?  And the worlds of television, cinema and theatre are forever in Laugh-In‘s debt for introducing us to Lily Tomlin. Her best known Laugh-In personas are Ernestine and Edith Ann, but my favorite of Tomlin’s characters was The Tasteful Lady.
Re-watching these episodes decades after they were broadcast, it’s amazing to realize that, despite the show being considered progressive, bawdy, and outrageous for its time…how do I put this? There’s no getting around how sexist much of the material was (but then, so was the country). And Laugh-In was only slightly less dated on much of its racial and cultural content (the few references to Native Americans were especially, stereotypically, cringe-worthy). But, that was then and this is now. I’ll forgive the show almost anything, because it gave the world arguably my favorite comic dialogue, from Tyrone’s and Gladys’ “hereafter” sketch:
* * *
May you never contract a disease which can be represented by a droopy vegetable; May we soon live in a world where we don’t have to ‘splain mansplaining; May you always know what you’re here after; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Of course, the devil would not come to such a party because he doesn’t exist. Those who know moiself realize that the supposition of devils and/or evil spirits is something in which I do not believe. Human behavior covers the spectrum – we do not need the supernatural to explain (or excuse) acts of cruelty…or kindness.
 As per those upright citizens of the Mayo Clinic, “Peyronie’s (pay-roe-NEEZ) disease is a noncancerous condition resulting from fibrous scar tissue that develops on the penis and causes curved, painful erections.”
 There is no such Nobel Prize, but maybe there should be.
Dateline: Wednesday, circa 4pm, outside a grocery store. A woman who exited the store ahead of me scurries to a spot around 30 feet from the store’s exit door. She pulls a cigarette and lighter from her purse, pulls down her mask and lights up. She proceeds to take several long, desperate drags of the cigarette, pulling her mask up inbetween, in a bizarre ritual: lower mask; suck on her death sticks; exhale; raise mask; wait five seconds; repeat.
Lady, just take down your mask, go into a filthy public restroom, run your bare hands over every surface and then touch your hands to your face and mouth and rub your eyes. Get it over with.
Celebrities like Ben Affleck won’t let a pesky pandemic stop their slow suicide, so why should she?
* * *
Department of Yep, This.
* * *
Department Of My Defund The Police Story
In the ongoing Defund the Police ® debate, some folks declare that an alternative phrase for police reform is needed. It seems that too many (white) people read or hear “defund” and lose their shit react defensively. They interpret “defund” as doing away with police forces entirely, instead of the how the term is used by reform activists: as shorthand for reallocating funds from police departments to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, (e.g. social, mental health, housing and education services).
Moiself has heard this defensive reaction explained along these lines:
White people get defensive and even frightened at that notion (doing away with police) because white people associate police with security, in ways that communities of color, because of their collective history with aggressive and discriminatory policing, do not.
Sometime in the late 1970s-early 1980s, I read a feature article in a So Cal newspaper about police officer recruitment. Police chiefs were just starting to realize that for community policing to be effective the police force needed to be representative of all members of the community. Given the rising number of Vietnamese immigrants in So Cal, local police departments were trying, and mostly failing, to recruit Vietnamese-Americans. The reason for that failure was not apparent to the majority white police staff, until a cultural liaison enlightened them:
The police forces in Vietnam, and several other Asian countries, were considered to be corrupt, and the average Southeast Asian immigrant’s contact with them had been unpleasant. Thus, young Asian men  who might have been interested in being recruited were discouraged from doing so by their parents, who thought policing a dishonorable profession.
There’s a very basic lesson here: your experiences color your perception.
Yep, that seems evident on a Psychology 101 level. Moiself thinks it’s a bit more far-reaching than that, and ties into the Black Lives Matter movement in a variety of ways and from a variety of perspectives…including the one I am about to share here.
Little known fact about moiself: from about my 5th to 8th grade years, I hated and feared the police. I held particular fear and loathing for men I suspected were undercover cops in unmarked cars. This is because of an experience I had….
Translation: there is a story to be told.
Key elements of this story (“The Wagner Incident”) became much beloved by my family as the years past. My parents in particular loved for my older sister and I to recall the tale, and I always obliged. However, most of my family never knew that I was actually quite traumatized by what happened.
There is (unfortunately or yee-haw! depending on your enjoyment of background information) stage-setting to be done, for this Drama of Shakespearean Importance. 
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, my family lived in a house on Martha Lane in Santa Ana (CA). Martha Lane extended west from a major thoroughfare down to a cross-street (Pacific Ave.) which led to the local community college.  Across Pacific Ave., Martha Lane continued as a cul-de-sac, where my family’s house was located. 
The Wagners were an older couple  whose house was on the main part of Martha Lane (ML). The Wagners had gained a reputation – not a good one – among the other denizens of ML. Mr. Wagner, occasionally accompanied by Mrs. Wagner, walked their massive dog twice daily around the neighborhood. They made of one or two loops around the main portion of ML (they did not cross the street to the cul-de-sac), and they let their dog defecate on other people’s lawns. They made no attempt to pick it up the droppings or at least “curb” their dog; they let him go where he wanted to go. 
Some of the neighbors began to come out of their houses and speak to Mr. Wagner as he made his rounds. At first they politely suggested – then, as time passed and the poop accumulated, they increasingly and more frustratingly demanded – that the Wagners’ dog should do its doggie business at their own home, and not foul other people’s property. The Wagners ignored all such requests, with Mr. Wagner on a couple of such occasions responding with strongly-worded suggestions as to what the other homeowners could do with his dog’s “business.”
Petty, inconsiderate neighbor shit, so to speak, right? Nothing either novel or earth-shattering.
There were other actions the Wagners took that, looking back, seemed almost intentionally aimed at making them the scourge of the neighborhood. It was as if the Wagners got some kind of petty pleasure in taunting their neighbors, in particular, the Young People ®. I can find no other explanation for their behavior.
As a Girl Scout, moiself had the twice-a-year fundraising duties (which I loathed) of going from house to house in my neighborhood, peddling Girl Scout Cookies in the spring and Girl Scout Calenders  in the fall. The Wagners did not have a no solicitingsign on their porch; nevertheless, the first time I rang their doorbell on behalf of the Scouts I received a very snooty dismissal from Mrs. Wagner, when a simple, “We’re not interested” would have sufficed. The second (and last) time I approached their house as a Girl Scout (having forgotten about the first incident, since six months had passed), Mrs. Wagner apparently saw me coming, and couldn’t wait until I set foot on her porch to reject my sales pitch. Before I’d taken three steps from the sidewalk to her driveway her front door flew open and she came barreling out of her house. Her voluminous bat wings shook along with her index finger, which she waggled at me while she bellowed about how she didn’t want to buy anything.
I fled the Wagner driveway with as much dignity as I could muster. Later, I compared stories with other neighborhood kids, whom, I discovered, had experienced similar treatment when they were seeking donations for, say, a school paper drive or other charities. The next time I had to do my GS soliciting I remembered my lesson, and as I left the porch of the house *before* the Wagners’ I proceeded on to the house *after* the Wagners’. As I did so, Mrs. Wagner once again came charging out of the house into her driveway – how strange, I later thought, as she must have been sitting by her front window, just waiting for…what? For a youngster to yell at? – and proceeded to berate me. Apparently, I was a stand-in for all the neighborhood children, as she began her rant with, “YOU KIDS….” I hadn’t even made the slightest indication of stopping at her house – I was just walking past it, on the sidewalk!
At least she wasn’t armed with a garden hose.
Sharing and comparing stories – that’s what kids in a ‘hood do. As the years passed the older kids began to compile a hefty dossier of Wagner Incidents, many of them involving the holidays. A few neighbors told about “Christmas incidents,” stories I cannot now recall,  and every July 4 we heard about how the Wagners did their own fireworks in the street in front of their house, then loudly complained if their next door or across-the-street neighbor’s – in particular, their neighbor’s children or grandchildren – did the same…or just yelled at teens who were walking on the other side of the street, on their way to a friend’s family’s fireworks party.
October 31 seemed to bring out the worst (or weirdest) in the Wagners. On Halloween night the Wagners always turned their porch light on and hung Halloween decorations on their front door, then were randomly and mystifyingly rude to the kids who rang their doorbell. In our neighborhood the trick-or-treaters tended to go in groups of four or more children; the Wagners would often single out someone in your group, make disparaging remarks about a costume they didn’t like, then give candy to some kids and not to others. Sometimes, as if on a whim, they would answer the doorbell, refuse to give candy (from the big jar they had on display) to anyone, and shoo your entire group off their porch. 
Like many grade school-aged children, I found the world of adults both baffling and boring. Unless a home contained children of my or my siblings’ ages, I didn’t pay much attention as to who lived in what house on my block. It took a couple of years for it to sink in: you don’t go to the Wagner‘s house for Halloween…or anything else.
Can you guess what kind of attitude among the neighbors, in particular among the youth of Martha Lane, was engendered by the Wagners, toward the Wagners?
“I knew you could, boys and girls.”
There were many more incidents that my older sister and her friends shared with moiselfand my friends. Slowly but surely, a vendetta arose. The older kids in the neighborhood had had it with the Wagners, and conspired to tease them at every opportunity.
My older sister and her friend rewrote lyrics to the tune of, “We Love You Conrad,” (a song from the Broadway musical, Bye Bye Birdie):
♫ We hate you Wagners Oh yes we do We don’t hate anyone like you When you are near us, P.U.! Oh Wagners we hate you. ♫
Yeah; I know – hardly cutting-edge satire. Still, I thought my sister and her friend were so clever when sang me that song, and they were obviously proud of themselves. They taught the song to all the neighborhood kids, and made us all vow to sing it at any Wagner-sighting opportunity.
Things escalated, as they say, from there.
Early one hot summer night a bunch of us ML kids were hanging out on the corner of Pacific and ML, negotiating which chase/tag game we would play that evening (Green Monster? Hide n’ Seek?) We spotted Mrs. Wagner up the street, identifiable from even 200 feet away by her towering, glow-in-the-dark white beehive hairdo and imperious, waddling stride. She was walking her dog, and one of us in the group – I can’t remember who but it might have been me or my older sister – had the brilliant idea to begin humming the Miss America theme song:
♫ There she is…Miss America…
There she is, your ideal…. ♫
Silly stuff – hardly the material of celebrity stalking lawsuits. Even so, it apparently put a burr under Mrs. Wagner’s saddle (or that ridiculous beehive). Unbeknownst to us kids, when Mrs. Wagner returned home she told her husband what we kids had done, and he called the police and insisted they open a harassment investigation.
We hummed the Miss America song – that’s what put them over the edge? We didn’t even sing the words.
Also unbeknownst – to me, at that time – were other incidences of kids taking revenge on the Wagners. Some older teens who lived on the main section of ML had, with their parents’ knowledge and approval, saved some of the “droppings” the Wagner’s dog left on their lawn. After accumulating several days’ worth, the kids delivered shovelfuls of feces to the Wagner’s lawn. When this failed to deter Mr. Wagner from his dog walking/dumping, on July Fourth one family’s teenage son played the proverbial, flaming-sack-of-poop prank on the Wagner’s front porch. 
That and other incidences enabled the Wagners to convince the police to open a harassment file…or a case…or whatever it was.
“Martha Lane Kids v. Wagner” ? – what is this bullshit, Danno?
So. This “case” was going on, without my knowledge.
Then, one day….
I’ve always wanted to say that.
The story continues, in next week’s post.
* * *
May you get to say something you’ve always wanted to say; May you be mindful of how petty neighborhood disputes can escalate; May you bear with me until next week; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 And it was only men who were being recruited, at that time.
 Those two portions of Martha Lane no longer exist. Under eminent domain, the community college took over the properties in the early 1980s. In archetypical, SoCal development fashion, the area where my family house once stood is now a parking lot.
 Do people still use that term? For the young ‘uns who may be unfamiliar with it, to curb one’s dog involved pulling it off the curb – away from someone’s lawn or sidewalk – and making it poop in the street gutter.
 Anyone remember those? The Girl Scouts stopped selling them in 2008.
 The Wagners scared off Santa’s reindeer with a shotgun? Nothing would surprise me.
 But they would leave the porch light on – the universal sign of “open for business” for trick-or-treaters – and answer the doorbell when the next group of kids came by. Yep, we watched, to see what happened.
 He filled a brown paper bag with the Wagner’s dog’s droppings, put the bag on the Wagner’s front porch, set it afire, rang their doorbell, and hauled ass up the block. And yes, when Mr. Wagner answered the doorbell he attempted to stamp out the flames….
The Democratic convention’s pandemic-mindful/physical distancing states’ roll call (in its entirety, here ) – how delightful was that? The usual political party convention roll call, with the delegates dressed basically the same (we can wear three colors – can you guess what they are?) and wearing those ridiculous straw boater hats, some of which look to be made of styrofoam….it’s beyond boring.
Well hellooooo, ladies.
Moiself sez let’s do it this way from now on, pandemic or not. We got a brief glimpse into the states’ – and US territories’ – terrain as well as character,  with a few surprises, too. Rhode Island calamari – that’s even a thing? Who knew?
* * *
Department Of Which Is The More Accurate Adjective?
What the radio podcast host said: ” (name)…is a board-licensed professional counselor.”
What moiself heard; “(name) …is a bored, licensed professional counselor.”
* * *
Department Of If Given My Druthers, I’d Like To Leave The Civics Lesson To Someone Else
What, BTW, are druthers? In the various idiomatic expressions which use the word, it does seem to be a positive thing. Do I have to wait to be given them, by someone else, or can I get or earn them on my own? 
If it were in my power, I would give all of you your druthers. Wouldn’t it be great if druthers turned out to be something like this:
Once again, I digress.
Moiself is thrilled with Joe Biden’s choice of a running mate. During the Democratic debates, a California friend (MM) and I were exchanging ideas/compliments about the various candidates. In MM’s opinion Sen. Harris, besides being experienced and intelligent and a razor-sharp questioner during Senate hearings, was also not the kind to put up with crap or betrayal – “She’ll put a shiv in you,” MM wrote admiringly. We both agreed that was a talent sorely needed when dealing with the petty viciousness and mendacity of the Republican congress. 
One of the many, many other things I like about Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris is that I don’t know a thing about her religious/spiritual and/or worldview beliefs. And I’d like to keep it that way.
Except of course, the Republicans will not stand for that. Even the (secretly) religion-free among them must grovel to the altar of right-wing Jayyy-suuuus lovers. #45 figured this out when he was laughing all the way to the bank (or golf course), passing church after church along the way, metaphorically thumbing his nose at them even as he was snickering about how easy it was to bamboozle the congregants.
The Republicans will look for every opportunity, during the election and debates,  to play their piety cards and jab Biden and Harris about their beliefs. Biden has already fallen into that trap –of talking about his own faith rather than telling those who ask that it’s none of their business as the USA is not a theocracy, and let’s get back to the issues….
Thus, I humbly offer my advice to Ms. Harris – the advice she didn’t solicit from me  but which I hope she takes:
Don’t fall for Pence’s religious rhetoric claptrap, and make him sorry if he even asks. I know you’re capable of going all prosecutorial on his ass…even though that tactic, if you employed it, would make your advisors reach for the smelling salts as the white evangelicals would clutch their pearls and gasp in horror at The Angry Black Bitch Atheist (whether you are or are not the fourth, you’d definitely be pegged as the first three). So, yes, I understand how you must go for discretion.
I also hope you don’t mumble platitudes about respecting everyone’s faith journey (although I understand there will be pressure to do so). When – not *if,* as religion will definitely be an issue – the subject of a paticular candidate’s religious beliefs are brought up, don’t ignore it. Instead, candidly and assertively steer away from the subject, every time it happens, and every time reminding us of why you are doing so:
We are electing presidents and vice presidents here,
not popes and pastors and vicars and decans – or rabbis, imams or mullahs, Zen masters or Lamas, pujaris or gurus….
I know, this is important…I’ll ty to stay alert.
American citizens hold a diversity of religious opinions. The candidates elected will be the President and Vice President for all the people, including the growing percentage of atheists, agnostics, humanists, Freethinkers Brights – aka, to pollsters and scientists, as the “Nones,” as in, we Americans who are religion-free and/or claim no religious affiliation.
Polls and studies reveal that 23 to 26 % of the US population – approaching one out of every four people – claim “none” for their religion, despite facing open hostility and discrimination from religious believers (and incurring a political liability as well, if they run for office). And scientists note that these 23-26% figures are conservative estimates.
“…psychologists…contend that there may be far more atheists than pollsters report because “social pressures favoring religiosity, coupled with stigma against religious disbelief…, might cause people who privately disbelieve in (god[s]) to nonetheless self-present as believers, even in anonymous questionnaires.”
To work around this problem of self-reported data, the psychologists employed what is called an unmatched count technique, which has been previously validated for estimating the size of other underreported cohorts…. (Using a) Bayesian probability estimation to compare their results with similar Gallup and Pew polls of 2,000 American adults each…they estimated, with 93 percent certainty, that somewhere between 17 and 35 percent of Americans are atheists, with a “most credible indirect estimate” of 26 percent.
As a former prosecutor you, Senator Harris, are aware of the average person’s cognitive capacities, so I’ll trust you to condense those statistics into something debate-attention-span appropriate.
After doing so, please give a brief reminder – more like a civics lesson, considering how many Americans know next to nothing about the history of our country’s secular roots – that the USA was the first country to have a totally god-free constitution. “God” – anyone’s god – is not mentioned in the US Constitution (nor is Jesus, nor Christianity), not even once. Religion is only mentioned twice, and then in exclusionary terms: in the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”), and in Article VI, which declares that “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
And do this – remind folks of the facts – Every. Time.
There will be some ignoramuses (most likely your debate opponent), even among otherwise seemingly articulate members of the press, who will confuse the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, and will quote the former:
“But wait, what about the part where it says,
‘”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights’….”
Here is, yet again, another opportunity for education. Remind the populace of the difference between the two: The Declaration of Independence (an “apology” and call to arms for the American revolution); and the Constitution of the United States (the new nation’s governing document).
You may also want to be prepared for when some idiot sputters about how his dollar bills say, “In God We Trust”…which he probably doesn’t know was not added to our currency until 1957, during the Commie/Red Scare era:
…and then he may continue on as how the Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase, “Under God”…except that until relatively recently, it didn’t:
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy… (who) had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country. In its original form it read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today.
Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. (“The Pledge of Allegiance,” Historic Documents, usdocuments.org)
You will likely also encounter shade from the historical yahoos who will crow about how the USA was formed as a “Christian nation.” Not only does Constitution make no such claims, we have the confirmation to the opposite, declared and signed by the very founding fathers of our country and the framers of the constitution, in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoly – which was sent to the Senate (by President John Adams). The entire treaty was read aloud on the Senate floor (including the (in)famous words in Article 11; copies were printed for every Senator; the treaty was ratified by a unanimous vote of all 23 Senators. They knew what they were doing:
Treaty of Tripoli, article 11
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” 
All this history should be enough. Of course, it won’t be.
So, please, get the message across…in your own astute, succinct way. Perhaps, a more prime time-palatable version of the following?
* * *
Department Of Fun With Nature’s Wacky Reproductive Scenarios
“Some sharks give live birth from two uteruses — and that’s not the weirdest part.”
Dateline: earlier this week, listening to a Curiosity Daily podcast. CD is one of my favorite podcasts. As per their website:
The award-winning Curiosity Daily podcast will help you get smarter about the world around you — every day.
In less than 10 minutes, you’ll get a unique mix of research-based life hacks, the latest science and technology news, and more.
I’m not sure how much smarter CD has helped moiself to get, but I’m certainly entertained, and armed with interesting trivia facts, by each episode.
A recent segment on sharks which have dual uteri caught my eye (ear?). The takeaway: many shark species have multiple uteri and give birth to live baby sharks, which hatch from eggs in the uteri. Before being expelled, the baby sharks which hatch first swim between the uteri, and eat the eggs of their un-hatched siblings, so they can grow faster. In one species, multiple free-swimming baby sharks hatch at the same time and fight to the death inside their shark mom’s uterus.
“Congrats, Mom, it’s a boy…I mean, a girl…uh, make that, a cannibal.”
For some petty reason, I enjoy the idea of anti-choicers – most of whom hold a conservative religious dogma which says that their god creates and directs all life (so guess who’s responsible for this preborn carnage?) – cringing at these facts…even though sibling predation – “siblicide” – is not unknown in other animals (e.g. the newly hatched chicks of some bird species will attack and eat their smaller siblings, or push them or any unhatched eggs out of the nest).
As with every CD episode, at the end of this one the two hosts recapped what they’d learned. The male host, whose wife is pregnant, said that he’s been feeling his wife’s belly when the fetus kicks her, and now he’s thinking how “…that is really mild, compared to what sharks do.” He then declared, “I’m glad I didn’t marry a shark.”
“Oh, honey, can you feel them fighting to the death?”
* * *
Pun For The Day
Presidential candidate Scissors was forced to withdraw from the race
after failing to find anyone who would run with him.
“Do you see what humor they have to put up with, in a so-called ‘free’ society?”
* * *
May you support politicians in remembering and upholding our country’s secular foundation/roots; May you have yet another reason to detest that insipid “Baby Sharks” song; May someone surprise you with the gift of druthers; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 But California should have had a surfer boy standing between those two women.
 I could Google this, I know, but sometimes, it’s just more fun to wonder.
 Then added that, as much as he admired President Obama, “that was a talent Obama lacked.” (moiself ageed).
 Or, maybe she *did* and her email got caught in the spam folder.
 At the time of the Treat, Mediterranean Sea traffic was largely controlled by pirates from the North African Muslim states of the Barbary Coast. Many European seafaring countries paid a tribute to the Barbary Sultans in exchange for safe passage through the Mediterranean. After the American Revolution, the US was no longer covered by British tribute treaties. The U.S. decided to form tribute treaties with the Barbary States, and given the history of The Crusades, assure the sultans that the US was not going to use the excuse of Christianity vs. Islam to go to war with them.
(2) as well as one of the more perplexing state mottos.
(3) There is no third flaw.
Who was the person who first decreed, “States must have slogans – oh, wait, let’s call them, ‘mottoes!’ ” ? Who convinced others in the government that, with all the to-dos which come with qualifying for statehood, motto-composing is a good use of time? That person is lost to history.
Moiself (motto: “It’s my blog, so there.”) decrees that there are four states vying for Worst State Motto award. Besides Oregon, they are:
* Connecticut (“He who transplanted sustains.”)
Oh, yeah. That goes without saying.
* New Mexico (“It grows as it goes.”)
Imagine what the NM motto committee was smoking when they thought up that one.
* Maryland (“Manly deeds, womanly words.”)
Oregon’s state motto is in Latin, because the same doofus who sent out the, “Every state must have a motto” memo also apparently added, “…and if you can’t think of anything profound or at least plausible to say, say it in Latin.”
Thus, Oregon’s motto: Alis volat propriis. Which translates as…
She flies with her own wings.
Many Oregonians do not know what our state’s motto is. And when they find out, their reaction is not what moiself imagines was the goal of the motto committee:
WTF does that even MEAN ?!?!?
The general consensus of historians and People Who Try To Care About Such Things ® is that the motto is meant to convey a sense of Oregon’s “tradition of independence and innovation” (e.g., the nation’s first bottle bill, the public beach access bill).  So yeah; there’s that. But, couldn’t it have been phrased in a more accessible way (“Oregon: pick up your trash and get off ourlawn beach.“)?
On the other hand, it could be seen as reassuring to residents of other states: if you meet an Oregonian and she looks like she’s about to takeoff, don’t worry – she has too much pride and self-reliance to steal *your * wings. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the air show.
* * *
Department Of Best Song Couplets, V. 2
♫ The weeks went by and spring turned to summer and summer faded into fall/ And it turns out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all. ♫
Department Of Seriously, You Need A List For This?
On Monday, an ad with this headline appeared on my FB feed:
“Five Tips For Wearing Less Makeup.”
The ad’s headline accompanied a picture of an attractive Woman Of A Certain Age ®, which made me think the ad’s content could be along the lines of the standard advice that women who wear makeup should tone it down as they age…or perhaps the ad was related to the COVID shelter-in era, with people not wanting to deal with their usual routines?
I didn’t click on the ad, but instead of just scrolling by, I stared at the inane headline which had caught my eye, and repeated to moiself the Five Tips For Wearing Less Makeup I would give, gratis, to anyone who asked:
1. Wear less makeup. 2. Wear less makeup. 3. Wear less makeup.
4. Wear less makeup. 5. Set your smartphone’s alarm reminder: Wear less makeup.
* * *
Department Of, Once Again, Reality Outdoes Fiction
“Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era.”
I thought at first the show was fiction, then, a documentary, then, after two episodes, I said to MH, “This is a reality show, right?” (Translation: “We can’t watch it anymore. We don’t watch Those Kind of Shows. ® “)
The line in question came from an Indian-American woman, who spoke with snort-worthy distain about rejecting a man who wasn’t as travel-knowledgeable as she:
“He didn’t know that Bolivia had salt flats.”
That particular woman was one of the matchmaker’s clients featured in the two episodes we watched. She was in her mid-30s, a lawyer, very busy, a world traveler when not working. Once she’d agreed to matchmaking services ( via evident pressure from her mother and sister ) she began noticing how her married female friends actually spent a significant amount of time with their husbands – an idea which seemed to disgust her. And she found excuse after excuse to object to any matches the matchmaker suggested.
Her predicament led to this tender exchange between me and my life match:
Moiself: “Why is she doing this? She so obviously doesn’t want to be married.”
MH: “She doesn’t need a husband, she just needs a vibrator.”
* * *
Department Of The Convoluted Path Of Memories
Dateline: last Saturday. I posted on Facebook a list my Swenadian  friend had sent me: five anecdotes with the theme of memorable, embarrassing misstatements. I actually remember reading (in a newspaper) about the fifth one:
What happens when you predict snow but don’t get any? We had a female news anchor, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn’t, who turned to the weatherman and asked, “So, Bob, where’s that 8 inches you promised me last night?”
One of the main reasons I tell my stories or share the stories of others is because of what I call the 99% reaction motivation: ala the *I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours* approach to life, sharing a story almost always prompts others to share their similar stories. Whether it’s an anecdote of a major parental fail I pulled, or imparting someone else’s *yes-she-really-said-to-the-handsome-golf-pro-that-she-liked-playing-with-men’s-balls* tale, I know that I will soon hear from a buddy about her worst mothering incident (which makes me feel better about mine), or a face-palming moment of their own which will make me laugh harder than the original story.
Given the number of writers and reporters I know, I was certain that the last of the Five Embarrassing Misstatements stories would generate  a story in response. What with newspaper editors asking for copy in terms of inches of print space (“I need six inches for the op-ed….”) I knew my journalism buddies would have similar stories. Sure enough, SDH, a comrade since our junior high school days, posted a doozy.
The next morning at breakfast, MH mentioned SDH’s story, which sent me on a memory flashback. I think about my high school journalism friends often – even posted about them six years ago. Since it’s summertime, I’ll indulge moiself with a bit of a rerun:
I am currently reading Weedland by Peter Hecht. Subtitled Inside America’s Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit, the book, as per one blurb, is “essential reading for anyone who is a fan of California’s most lucrative agricultural product.” Which, I am not. However, I am a fan of Peter Hecht.
I’ve known (and admired and adored) Pete since junior high school. He was one of my buddies from a group of friends and acquaintances I still think of as the high school journalism gang.
The Write Stuff
Neither K nor Belle have ever brought home (nor even mentioned, sans my prompting) their high school’s newspaper. They both know I’d written for my school paper.  They know it was a “real” newspaper, with separate pages (and editors and reporters) devoted to news stories, editorial/opinion pieces, entertainment/feature and sports writing. They know that when The Generator, Santa Ana High School’s award-winning biweekly newspaper, was distributed in the school’s classrooms, the teachers and students stopped what they were doing and read it, cover to cover. They know that students’ parents also read the high school newspaper, and that The Generator ran stories with enough substance to garner parental interest… and complaints.
(“I can’t believe what your reporter/ smart aleck columnist ____ wrote about! That’s no subject fit for a high school newspaper!”) 
They know all of this because of the stories I’d told them. And they could not bear to disappoint me when it came to their own school’s pitiful excuse for fishwrap newspaper.
Son K, ever the diplomat, laid it out for me after my third or fourth Why-don’t-you-ever-bring-your-school-newspaper-home?whine petition.
“Mom, our school’s newspaper sucks.
It’s embarrassing…nothing in it but rah-rah stories…
No one reads it and no one cares.”
Think back to your high school history, chemistry, English, or PE classes: how many of those classmates went on to become historians or chemists or English teachers or pro athletes? It still amazes me to think of how many of my peers who wrote for The Generator went on to pursue careers in journalism in one form or another. Along with Peter Hecht, there are:
* Deborah Franklin, “my” editor,  whom I greatly admire for finding a way to combine her two loves, science and journalism. Instead of (as the dubious voices advised) dumping one to concentrate on the other, Franklin became a science and medical reporter. Her works appear in a variety of venues, from VIA to NPR to Scientific American.
…and oodles of others I’m probably forgetting. 
Three of those previously mentioned: Back row: the striped shirt and boyish-grin belong to Tim Ferguson; front row: L, Pete get-a-load-of-that-1974-hair Hecht; R Scott Harris, who was engaged in a campaign to get me to leave student government (“The BOC”) and join The Generator staff, which almost excuses his scribbled commentary; second from R, Janis Carr.
Back to the breakfast table of the present: After MH told me about reading SDH’s story, I told him how delighted I was that SDH had shared it, then repeated two observations I’d made many a time: (1) I am amazed at how so many of my high school peers went on to have long careers in “actual” journalism, and, (2) of all the different sub-groups I was involved with in high school – the “gifted’ academic program; athletics; student government; the school newspaper – it is the journalism group I think of most frequently, and most fondly.
I got a good-natured, well-of-course-and-duh-you-are-all-writersreaction from MH the first time I told him that. This time, his expression was open and interested, beyond mere tolerance mode to an actual, tell-me-more-of-what-you-mean way.
Yes, almost exactly like this.
And so, I did.
What was so great about that group was that, although they were all different, unique students, definitely not cut from the same “cloth,” politically or personally or socially or emotionally, they were all really…. *smart.*
They were intelligent, if not necessarily in the academically-gifted-program way (most of them were not enrolled in our school’s ‘s gifted program)…but it was more than that. They were informed and inquisitive; they were both interesting, and interested – attentive to people and events and ideas outside of themselves…which was a refreshing change from the ubiquitous high school, *it’s-all-about-me* mentality. Even those who “just” reported on sports (sorry, guys) were also conversant on politics and culture – they had a wide variety of interests, beyond their personal (and later, professional) specializations.
And they were, almost without exception, *wicked* funny.
Trading barbs, making wittily snarky observations of our fellow students – you had to have a thick hide to survive that group, and be able to take it as well as dish it out. We were fast on the draw, quick to mine any seemingly innocent comment for innuendo potential. Speaking of which, how convenient of moiself to provide a segue to this apropos example: One afternoon during my senior year, I was in our newspaper’s office, shooting the breeze with one of our newspaper’s reporter’s as he had a late lunch. He told me that someone had asked him for a clarification for the usage of the word, * innuendo,* then spat out part of his sandwich when I told him that “innuendo” was Italian for “anal sex.”
* * *
Department Of, It’s Her, Again? But She Won Last Month….
* * *
Pun For The Day
When you get a bladder infection you know urine trouble.
* * *
May you visit Oregon, but remember to bring your own wings; May you have fond memories of at least one of your high school “groups;” May you never reject a potential romantic partner because they don’t know obscure geographic facts about Bolivia; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Beating it in ugliness are the state flags of Hawaii (A union jack? Seriously? With all the gorgeous Hawaiian colors to choose from, you steal from the Brits?) and the flags of Georgia and Mississippi, which incorporate part of the Confederate flag, tackily celebrating one of the ugliest chapters in American History.
 Vexillology is the study of flag history and symbolism. Yes, Virginia, there’s an organization for everything.
 Oregon was the first state to enact a container-deposit bill (1971); Oregon’s landmark beach bill (1967) declares that all “wet sand” within sixteen vertical feet of the low tide line belongs to the state of Oregon, and recognizes public easements of all beach areas up to the line of vegetation, regardless of underlying property rights, so that the public has “free and uninterrupted use of the beaches,” and property owners are required to seek state permits for building and other uses of the ocean shore. Wikipedia, Oregon Beach Bill.
 Well, that and Grey’s Anatomy reruns. And world peace.
 Only a select few of my readers will get that reference: My high school’s student newspaper, where I met most of these fine folk,s was named The Generator.
 Primarily Parnal Knowledge, my regular op-ed column, plus miscellaneous reporting, ranging from “hard” news to satire to cultural reviews to sports.
The Generator’s faculty advisor (English teacher Ted Clucas), was never happier than when he’d received a parental complaint. “It proves they’re paying attention – you made somebody think about something!”
 Franklin, The Generator’s Editor-in Chief my senior year, displayed support and discretion above and beyond the call of journalistic duty by allowing me free (mostly) range in writing my op-ed column, Parnal Knowledge.
 I have not updated this list; some of the members have retired/moved on. One of the “oodles” I forgot to mention was the venerable Peter Schmuck (all together now: yep, that’s his real name), who recently retired from over 30 years of sports reporting for The Baltimore Sun.
Here’s the description of the activity, from the brilliant  industrial engineer living in San Francisco who started it.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I started going on near-daily walks to help combat the monotony of being cooped up indoors all day. To spice things up a bit, I decided to plan my walking routes such that the paths I took formed letters and words. I call this activity SpellWalking. I live in San Francisco, a city favorable to SpellWalking due to the multiple intersecting gridiron street patterns to choose from.
( From the SpellWalking website Yes, it has I website; it’s a *thing,* y’all)
Check out the grid patterns – they are delightful, and mostly feature San Francisco neighborhood names.
Moiself’sfavorite (so far), due to its proximity to greenspaces, is the Haight.
* * *
Department Of Say What? Sub-Department Of What Is The Emoji For Your Ears Doing A Double Take? Division Of Unfortunate Government Employee Names
Dateline: Tuesday; circa 11 am; listening to the car radio while running an errand. I tuned into the Oregon Public Broadcasting channel, to the end of a story announcing the appointment of the man who will be Oregon State University’s 15th president. Current OSU president Ed Ray will step down, to be replaced by F. King Alexander.
Yep, that’s what I heard – followed by those voices coming from the radio in my own mind, speculating about what form the complaints he (the new OSU president) will receive from those who are unhappy with his leadership:
“That F** King Alexander….”
* * *
Department Of Speaking Of How My Brain Works…
I have layperson’s/”hobby” interest in neurology and neuropsychology – in how (scientists think) the brain works. In my If-I-Had-To-Do-It-All-Over-Again ® mode, I might have pursued neuroscience and/or cognitive psychology-related fields, instead of following the highly lucrative and emotionally satisfying and rewarding batshit crazy “creative” path.
But I have this one problem  when it comes to reading articles about neuroscience and behavior and basic cognition. Whenever I read about a certain part of the brain, a part located deep in the temporal lobe and most strongly associated with memory, ’tis difficult for me to get past the name of said brain region. I’ve learned that moiselfcannot take whatever I am reading seriously until I deal with an image that always – as in, everyF. King Alexander time – comes to mind.
Here’s what happens: I picture a college campus setting – a university whose student body is comprised solely of herbivorous, semiaquatic ungulate mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. And I face that image, appreciate it, and set it aside…until I come to the part in the article which says, in essence, “Let’s explore what we know about the hippocampus…” and I am immediately transported back to that same setting, with moiselfbeing led on a campus tour by a student guide…
“And over on the left is our renowned fine arts center….”
One might think that, with the interest in/reading about this neuro-stuff (excuse the fancy-pants, science jargon) I claim to do, moiselfmight have figured out why my brain does this. Nah; not gonna go there. I suppose I enjoy it enough that the why doesn’t matter. It’s not something I would want to “fix.”
Fraternity rush season at the Hippocampus is intense.
* * *
Department Of Not All Of The Oldies Are Goodies
Dateline: same as my first lame story highly entertaining anecdote. I switched my car’s radio from the OPB channel to KQRZ, a local station which plays music from the past (aka “oldies”), and I heard a song moiselfhadn’t thought about in years.
Wildfire was popular when I was a certain age. The song had always seemed melodically anemic to me, and I’d never paid much attention to it when it somehow got regular airplay. This time I decided to actually listen to the lyrics, and….wow.
“Is that a good wow, or a bad wow?”
Wowas in, this dull ditty was a hit song?
The song’s narrator tells the brief tale of a young woman who supposedly died during a blizzard while searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire.” The song’s narrator is in his cabin or somewhere – we don’t really know – in an early winter storm; an owl has perched outside of his window, which he takes as a sign that Ghostly Dead Girl is calling for him to join her and spend eternity riding her stupid horse lacking the horse sense to NOT run off into a blizzard pony with her.
Wowas in, there’s not much to the story, is there? It’s too insipid to be tragic.
* * *
Department Of An Oldie Who Was One Of The Best Of The Goodies
“Mel comes over most every night. We’ll have dinner and watch “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.” After dinner, we’ll watch a movie, if anything good is playing that night. We once said, “Any movie that has the line, ‘Secure the perimeter,’ you know it’s good.” (” Carl Reiner: Why Van Dyke is the best, Trump the worst and Mel Brooks is a savvy movie critic. ” USA Today, 5-1-19 )
Who is left among that generation of influential entertainers? Mel Brooks; Betty White; Norman Lear; Dick Van Dyke?
Reiner leaves behind an impressive body of work and a loving family, but here’s what makes me “grieve” the most, when I think about it: now that Carl Reiner is gone, who will Mel Brooks have dinner with?
My favorite Carl Reiner-directed movie is “All of Me,” which features wonderful work by actors Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin. Frail, condescending, wealthy socialite Edwina Cutwater (Lily Tomlin) engages the help of a guru to “transmigrate” her soul upon her death to the body of a healthy young woman. Edwina enlists lawyer Roger Cobb (Steve Martin) to change her will to leave her entire estate to the young woman. Edwina dies within minutes of signing the updated will, but via an ill-timed accident she ends up inhabiting Roger’s body, sharing it with him and controlling his body’s right side. Edwina and Roger are forced to work together to find a way to get her soul out his body, as well as to navigate mundane but essential tasks, as in this scene below, when Roger desperately needs to use the bathroom.
Enjoy…better yet, watch the entire movie, which is surprisingly sweet and sentimental despite its I-am-SO-sure premise.
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Department Of Even Harder To Comprehend Than Cosmic String Theory Is The “Success” Of Certain Attention Whores Celebrities
Carl Reiner, he of the multiple “slash” talents (comedian slash actor slash writer slash director slash producer….), was more than deserving of the fame and acclaim – and arguably, most importantly, the respect – which he received over a lifetime (his career spanned seventy-three years!), from both his audience and his show business peers.
And then, we have…oh, shit. I have to type this surname, don’t I, if I’m going to pursue this bizarre reflection? Let’s just say the name rhymes with lard-ashian.
“For F. King Alexander’s sake, just type, ‘Kardashian,’ you big baby.”
Moiself has never seen the Kardashian show. Of course, living in the culture, doing crossword puzzles, standing in line at the grocery store where there’s nothing to look at but the tabloid headlines or the ill-fitting clothing of the guy in front of me and I need to avert my eyes sideways lest they be further assaulted by the worst case of plumber’s crack I’ve ever seen…I can’t really avoid having a rudimentary knowledge of their existence.
And rudimentary will do, because there’s not much to know. They are famous, for…for what? For wanting to be famous.
Maybe there’s more to the show than that. Yeah…and maybe Chief Little Bunker-Bitch will join the Black Lives Matter movement and lead protesters in replacing statues of Robert E. Lee with gold-plated vaults containing the entire Spike Lee filmography.
I feel fully comfortable in judging this Show-That-I-Have-Not-Seen, and here is why. The Kardashians actively and openly seek celebrity, and in my opinion and that of many others who are Smarter And More Educated Than Moiself, ® that in and of itself is the sign of an unbalanced personality and bloated ego.
Kardashians and those like them pursue fame, as opposed to merely tolerating (or even grudgingly accepting) celebrity status as a by-product of something they’ve done, which is the “normal” or usual way fame attaches itself to a person.
Despite my being someone friends and family would describe as being outgoing or extroverted, fame or celebrity – being recognized by strangers – is something I have studiously avoided all my life (my former editors, pushing for me to do more publicity, might snarkily add that avoiding fame was the one aspect of my fiction writing career at which I excelled ). Thus, I am somewhat bemused and mostly appalled by those who actively seek to be in the proverbial glare of the spotlight.
Fame or celebrity comes to you, in most cases, if you do something notable and/or something which brings you to the public’s attention (e.g. in the performing arts). Not to be confused with the infamy accorded a mass murderer, you may become famous if, for example, you’ve acted in acclaimed movies. Yet, even then, the amount of fame coming your way cannot be determined by a cut and dried formula. It’s interesting to consider the variables, some having to do with the life a celeb leads, whether they actively sought the limelight outside of their professional lives or desperately tried to avoid it (and thus got more attention for that avoidance), and other factors seemingly random. Why did the paparazzi ignore a young(er) Sally Field, but pursue Angelina Jolie? (That answer seems obvious on the surface, but maybe Ms. Field had some really juicy hidden details of her life that a dedicated celebrity snoop could have unearthed). Why have talented, award-winning actors Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand not been subjected to the kind of tabloid attention that talented, award-winning actors Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence received?
However those actors may have played on it or downplayed it, their respective fame is due to actions or accomplishments on their part. Their celebrity is a consequence, not an predecessor, of their careers.
And then you have the reality TV stars – yep, I picked the low hanging fruit that is the Kardashian family – who want celebrity (but will settle for notoriety) first, before they’ve done anything to “merit” it. It’s back-asswards: once they have fame…for seeking fame…in order to keep their fame they need to figure out how to do something attention-worthy other than to be seeking attention. The LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! stage they should’ve outgrown by age eight becomes a thing in itself. You get fame and celebrity for wanting fame and celebrity, and in order to keep up the public’s interest in your fame and celebrity you must continually pursue it in extreme and tasteless ways.
But thanks to the advent of Reality TV, which has brought us our first Reality TV president, the whole concept of tasteful may have gone out the window…
* * *
Department Of See This Movie, Right Now
Unless you’re on your way to the COVID ward of the hospital.
Otherwise, at one point in your life you’ve either been a frightened yet determined 17-year-old, or you’ve known one or (hopefully) have been a compassionate and loyal friend to one, as this movie so matter-of-factly and movingly depicts.
I just found out that I’m color blind – the news came completely out of the green.
* * *
May you enjoy your own variation of a classic curse phrase ( F. King Alexander! ); May you think twice before approaching a “famous” person when they are not in the process of actively seeking fame; May your sense of propriety pass The Tasteful Lady‘s scrutiny; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Partial disclosure – can you ever make a *full* disclosure? – he’s my nephew.
 Yes, those who know me well might interject here that moiself has a lot more than just one problem… but how’s about if y’all control your intrusive thoughts on the matter and we can get back to the subject?
Another Fact Abscess Feminist Ruins A Family Outing Enlightens A Grateful Grandpa
My offspring, K and Belle, successfully fledged several years ago. When they were young (ages 1-5), their respective daycare/preschool teachers knew that, rain or shine, they wouldn’t be in class on Wednesdays, as that was our zoo/museum outing day. Nine out of ten times, we’d go to the Oregon Zoo.
Those zoo trips were before the massive, community bond-supported revamping, updating, and expansion of the zoo and its animal habitats. There weren’t many visitors then – particularly on windy/rainy days, which were our favorites, because it often seemed if we had the zoo all to ourselves.  Several of the zookeepers got to recognize us, and we them. The staff were impressed and amused by K’s and Belle’s flourishing interest in animals and wildlife conservation and liked that we always greeted the keepers by name and asked (or tried to ask) interesting questions about the animals.
That the zookeepers took the time to speak with us (often quite extensively, and when it was obvious they had *real* work to do) is one of several factors moiselfcredits for both K and Belle going on to be in the Zoo Teens program while in high school and then majoring in the Biological Sciences in college.
I’d also like to think that I “modeled” or that K and Belle inherited (nature? nurture?) that interest from me. Moiselfwas quite the animal nerd growing up, particularly in grade school. My parents recognized and encouraged that interest, and for years I always received at least one nature-themed/animal facts book for my birthday and Christmas presents. Thus, informed and armed, I was able to spoil the fun of many a prepubescent boy – who was trying to be naughty by teasing his female classmates about this AMAZING animal he’d come across – by explaining that a titmouse was in fact *not* a well-endowed rodent, but a petite North American songbird.
As always, I digress.
One of my interests at the zoo was not only watching my kids watch the animals, but watching the other zoo visitors. In that older version of the zoo, near the Penguin House, there was a habitat wherein dwelt a solitary, enormous, beautiful, Alaskan Brown bear named Marcia (Marsha? Or Martha? Don’t know the spelling; her name was not on the information card on the habitat; we’d learned about her from the zookeepers  ).
On days when there were many other zoo visitors and we stopped by Marcia’s habitat, inevitably – I mean, without fail – other adults would “mis-identify” the bear. Always the male visitors (and also quite a few of the females) would remark, to themselves or to the kids who were with them, something along the lines of,
“Wow, get a load of that bear, he’s so big! Look at his paws…”
I would then take the opportunity to say, “Actually, her name is Marcia.” My comment/correction would oftentimes lead to brief but interesting, personal-connection type conversations about the zoo and the animals, and sometimes my kids and I would learn something new, from a visitor who had talked with a zookeeper at another exhibit and had an interesting animal fact/behavior tidbit to share. If the person seemed receptive, I would sneak in a factoid about how a zookeeper told me that the majority of the zoo’s resident animals were female…and how another zookeeper, and more than one biologist I’d met, told me that the majority of the world’s biomass is female but that an individual animal’s gender is usually misidentified by non-biologists when they use a pronoun other than “it” to refer to the animal. For example, if you espy a wild animal when you’re out and about – say, a garter snake when you’re hiking the Wildwood trail in Forest Park – it is most likely a “she snake,” even though you or your hiking companion(s) will probably call it, or think of it as, a “he.”
With two exceptions moiselfcan recall, these interactions at Marcia’s habitat were always positive (which is why I kept engaging in them). In exception #2, an older dude got his grandpa tighty-whities in a knot when I spoke up after he’d pointed out the bear to (what I assumed were) his two grandkids, as well as to moiself and my two kids, and exclaimed, “Look at that HUGE bear – can you guess how strong he is?”
“She sure is something – she’s one of our favorite animals at the zoo!” I cheerfully chirped. “And, actually, her name is Marcia.”
The man’s face slowly but surely morphed into Grumpy Old Man, get-offa-my-lawn! territory, as his granddaughter waved to the bear and called out, “Marcia – she’s Marcia! Hi, Marcia!”
“Why does that matter?” he said to me.
“What do you mean?”I asked, not knowing if the “matter” he was wondering about was the bear’s name or its sex.
“Why does it matter?” he repeated, now looking full-blown irritated, as if he thought I were trying to show him up in front of his grandkids (neither of whom were paying any attention to the adults, but were standing with my kids, waving to the bear). “Does it matter if it’s a he or a she?”
Moiself donned my best, well-practiced, kill him with kindness visage, raised my voice to a perky, non-threatening octave above my usual tone, and delivered my reply with bared teeth pretending to be a smile a friendly grin:
“Well, obviously it does, or you wouldn’t object to being corrected about a simple fact.”
He muttered under his breath and herded his grandkids away from the exhibit. The little girl turned back and called out, “Marcia! Marcia! Bye, Marcia!”
* * *
Department Of Telling Grandpa Why It Matters
If Grumpy Gramps had stuck around and showed an ounce of amiable interest in the subject, I might have told him that I also would have offered a corrective comment had he misidentified the bear’s species, or its coloration or predation habits or dietary needs (“Look at that black bear/purple grizzly bear/orange sun bear – you know, in the wild, polar bears climb trees to hunt penguins….”), or any other basic fact about it. An animal’s sex or gender  is just another one of those basic facts.
The most obvious “proof” as to how important this is, Gramps, is that when I pointed out this particular, simple, factual error, did you notice how many of your feathers got ruffled?
I have taken it upon moiselfto be a “Squirt Gun Ambassador” re the natural world, hoping to incorporate the playfulness/good humor that this childhood summer toy brings to mind, when dealing with this particular issue, which is of importance TO THE ENTIRE WORLD (whether the entire world realizes it or not).
The SQUIRT gun issue to which I refer is my Sex Question Identification Reparations Therapy ® crusade, regarding peoples’ tendency to apply male pronouns to all animals they see, unless the animal is obviously female (e.g., nursing its young). I go the other direction, and use “she” instead of “it” (which I used to always do, and which I’ll get back to doing some day, when people stop defaulting to using “he”) to refer to an animal whose gender is unknown. My crusade is somewhat analogous to, and in part inspired by, actor Geena Davis’ campaign on gender inequity in entertainment media.
Media is one of the most important factors influencing our values. Women and girls are 51% of the population, but entertainment media is bereft of female characters, with a ratio of approximately 3:1 male characters to female characters since the 1940s. (Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media )
……When her…daughter was a toddler, and (Davis) started watching movies with her, she realised how woeful the depictions of women in family movies really were. She was particularly struck by just how few speaking characters in these films were female. She took this point to industry colleagues, but most denied it. Well-meaning and sincere, they couldn’t see a problem. Davis pressed on – she wanted to see the numbers….she sponsored the largest study carried out on gender depictions in family-rated films and children’s television…and found that for every female speaking-character, there were 2.5 or three male characters – a figure unchanged since 1946. Furthermore, the vast majority of those female characters were stereotypical or highly sexualised, with ambitions largely related to romance. Even crowd scenes were only made up of 17% women….
Hollywood thinks women just don’t like to “gather,” or flee from monsters….
“What if we are inculcating generation after generation to believe that low representation of women is the norm?” (Davis) asked her audience. So her institute commissioned more research: this time, a global study of gender in film in the 10 biggest film markets in the world. The findings were “bleak”: of those characters seen to be holding a job, 77.5% were male and 22.5% were female. Women in leadership and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM fields were dramatically underrepresented in film, she said, and of the 127 characters that held political office, only 12 were women. This lack of onscreen depiction contributes to symbolic annihilation, Davis said, by which those that don’t see themselves reflected on screen believe they are unimportant. She quoted damning statistics that show the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.
Can we agree to get rid of those dreadful feminizing/diminishing suffixes appended to people, animals, and professions?
If you come to a party at my house, I am your host, not your hostess.
And I won’t be serving these, BTW.
Your doctor, if she is a woman, is your doctor, not your doctress. Lions are male and female; there is no need for “lioness” as an identifier. If you name your Aunt Erva in your will as the person who will manage your estate, she should be called your executor, not your executrix.
Still with me, Grumpy Gramps? Since you asked it’s important, to know the animal’s correct gender because girls need to know that what is female is present, in the world, everywhere. Girls often grow up into women who lack the confidence to move through the world as easily and powerfully as men do, because they don’t think that the world belongs to them. Unintentionally and sometimes deliberately, girls get presented with skewed perceptions of their “place” – even of simply how many of them there are  – in the world. In the images and examples girls *and* boys are shown, the default for everything is male, especially if the thing in question is perceived as being big and powerful.
It’s important because a person will want to care for the world and that which is in the world, to seek education and take action – from studying to be a geologist to learning to do their own basic auto maintenance and repairs – if they think these things are truly and equally theirs. If it belongs to you, then you feel a sense of responsibility for it. Despite the progress made in the past few decades, girls (and boys) still look at the world, at the images and descriptions presented to them, and see it as primarily belonging to, and inhabited and ruled by, boys and men.
* * *
Department Of Remember That Which Will Eventually Kill Those Of Us Who Survive The Rest Of This Ca-Ca?
Global warming/climate change – the human-induced warming of the planet – has been getting our attention span short shrift these days, what with the pandemic, poor policing of POC and other parts of the panoply of poop parading past. 
After my pitch for gender label inclusivity, I’ve not much energy left for another harangue.
I’ll leave y’all with this analogy on the subject. At many a dinner party discussion, I’ve listened while friends have lamented the conundrum of how and why otherwise rational-seeming people can ignore the evidence of climate change and/or that some “aware” people tacitly admit that the evidence is real, but find ways to avoid thinking about it and/or don’t want to act on this evidence because they view any such actions as impeding their current lifestyle, or that they believe that individuals cannot make any significant changes to the problem.
I’ve had to bite my tongue when well-meaning people whom I admire and even love have sincerely claimed not to understand such willful ignorance…because they do the same thing, with regards to the same issue. They are all willing and enthusiastic participators in the environment-razing, carnivore fodder industry.
They all eat (factory-farm grown and processed) meat.
I’ve decided to be silent no more. I will try my Girl Scout Best  to *not* be of those self-righteous scolds, but the next time someone starts with the, “How can those people ignore the evidence ?!?!?” wail I will gently point out that their lament is not only rhetorical, but disingenuous. They know, or *should* know, exactly why “those people” want to ignore the evidence of climate change because they themselves use the same rationale for ignoring the evidence on meat consumption:
* because they don’t want to alter their current way of life;
* because they don’t want to make the necessary changes, which they view as making sacrifices and being inconvenienced;
* because they just don’t want to be bothered.
Some of the most thoughtful people I know find ways not to give the problems of animal agriculture any thought, just as I find ways to avoid thinking about climate change and income inequality…. Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming…. We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism….cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.” Americans overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say that the United States should have remained in the Paris climate accord. We don’t need new information, and we don’t need new values. We only need to walk through the open door.
( “The End of Meat Is Here: If you care about the working poor, about racial justice, and about climate change, you have to stop eating animals,” Jonathan Safran Foer, NY Times 5-21-20 )
* * *
Pun For The Day
* * *
May you carefully consider which evidence you are choosing to ignore; May you remember that I’m a writer, not a writress; May you enjoy an adolescent’s misunderstanding of “titmouse;” …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 I remember at least two occasions where we saw no other human beings, with the exception of the zookeepers and other zoo employees.
 And two keepers told me two different names for that bear: “Martha” and “Marcia.”
 Despite all the cute cartoons you may have seen, polar bears and penguins never interact. Polar bears are northern pole denizens while penguin species all live south of the equator. And neither of them climb trees.
 I realize these are loaded terms, used interchangeably and not always in the same manner, by humans.
 The world human population male/female ratio consistently hovers around 50-50, but you wouldn’t know that if your only statistic in this matter came from your consumption of popular media, where the male characters consistently and overwhelmingly outnumber the female.
Department Of The Calm Before The Storm Sub Department Of Something Sweet Before The Ranting Thoughtful Consideration of Provocative Subjects Begins
We celebrate half-birthdays in my family – not my family of origin, but the family MH and I created. This is MH’s doing. When he found out that our first date was the day after my birthday, he expressed mild disappointment that he had missed helping me celebrate. I thought nothing of it until six months later, when I received a small gift from him and a birthday card with its pre-printed “Happy Birthday” altered to read, “Happy (half) birthday.”
I found that delightful.
And I did the same for him, when his half-birthday rolled around. And we’ve kept doing it all these years, also with our children, K and Belle.
What makes it such a simple pleasure is that although we/ve been doing this for decades (!?), every year, without fail, I forget when it is my own half-birthday, until, for example, like Tuesday morning, when I came downstairs and found a card and small package and realized, “Oh yeah – it’s my half-birthday!”
This year’s card is arguably the best ever. The inside message, “Hope Your (Half) Birthday Is This Much Fun!” is an almost impossible wish, given the expression of unsurpassed, mischievous joy on the puddle jumping girl. It is a familiar expression, one I’ve seen in many a picture pasted in my parents’ old photo albums. It makes me think of them fondly, knowing if they were alive they’d both laugh in recognition when I’d show them the card, and my father would exclaim,
“Where did MH find it?! Robbie Doll, that is *you*!”
* * *
Department Of Much Ado About Nothing You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me Sup-Department Of The Hidden Book In A Beloved Fantasy Series: Happy Potter And The People Who Play Their Nitpick Fiddles While Hogwarts Is Burning Down Around Them
What a fun past couple of weeks we’ve had. And because there is not enough injustice to keep us all busy, several self-appointed transphobia warriors have Twitter-twisted their rainbow panties in a knot because they felt excluded – even, “erased” – due to a 21-word tweet from author JK Rowling.
Bear with me as I make a related association.
One of my favorite podcasts,Alan Alda’s “Clear and Vivid,” focuses on connections we make via communication. The response to Rowling’s tweet reminds me of one of the issues brought up in Alda‘s recent podcast interview with cognitive scientist, linguist, professor and author Steven Pinker. In the latter half of “Talking About Talking,” Alda and Pinker discussed the “pr” problem science currently has, in that many (non-scientist) people seem to have little idea how science and scientists actually work, and thus fall for pseudo science and conspiracy theories. These science doubters don’t trust science and scientists, partly because they think scientists cannot really speak out due to academic orthodoxy and the “cancel culture” (which, moiself notes, is a problem typically more associated with the liberal arts and social sciences).
Pinker: The backsliding in universities – away from free speech and open ideas, the ideological conformity, the political correctness, the policing of ideas – can be corrosive, precisely because it erodes that knowledge of what the rules (of science) are – mainly, you shouldn’t be able to get away with claiming something false, because someone will call you on it.
But when the impression the public has is that the universities are just another cult, where you really can’t speak your mind or you’ll be drummed out or you’ll be cancelled or you’ll be shut down by protests, that feeds the conspiracy theories….”
As my offspring would verify (with a modicum of eye-rolling, moiself dares to hope), I reminded them at any opportunity – when they were young and especially later, when they were talking about their college classes where they sometimes felt discussions about pertinent or controversial issues were was stifled because someone said something that another person did not want to hear or claimed was “offensive” – of the following:
The reason I have the opinions I have today, opinions that keep evolving and adapting to new information, is that (particularly during my school/observing-how-the-world-works-and-how-) I get to hear and read about ideas and events that the Someone Else ® chorus found dangerous, offensive, blasphemous, destructive.
For example, my lifelong feminism has been possible because I got to hear people argue with and debate the various “sides” of the issue. And the idea that males and females should have equal value, rights and opportunities but that powerful cultural, governmental, religious and academic structures are designed to prevent that and preserve patriarchal status quo – that was highly offensive, to many, many people.
I will never forget the reaction of the charismatic, good looking, Nice Christian Boy ® in my high school’s gifted math class when the teacher brought in a recently published academic study on gender bias. The study showed how school’s math textbooks, from an early age through the upper grades, discriminatorily portrayed boys and girls when presenting “story problems.” For example, the study showed pictures of grade school math workshop books, where boys were overwhelmingly/statistically over-represented and were portrayed as active agents in the story problems, while girls, if mentioned at all, were in domestic scenarios or doing housework. This NCB’s boy’s way entering the discussion on this issue, which another girl and moiselfwere having with a couple of our male classmates, was to interrupt, and name-call us (the two girls) and dismiss our concerns and observations:
“This is ridiculous!
Stuff like that doesn’t matter – I can’t believe you’d fall for….”
Later in the school year this boy, in his yearbook graduation notes (where seniors got to list favorite activities, friends, future aspirations and what they wanted to be remembered for, etc.) wrote that his life goal was “to tactfully convey to those around me what the Lord has done for me.” The Very. First. Things. I thought of at the time, when I read what he’d written – and the first thing that comes to mind today, on the rare occasions I have to recall him – is the “This is ridiculous” incident, and several others involving the ridiculing of classmates, wherein NCB demonstrated (what would later be defined by stand-up comics as) the phenomenon of “punching down.”
Once again, I digress. Thank you for bearing with me.
“You’re welcome. Now, as you were saying….”
So: JK Rowling’s tweet was in response to a May 28 article,  from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council,  titled,
At first glance, I thought the article’s title was a headline from The Onion. It would seem JK Rowling did as well, and she beat me to the satirical punch (as easy thing to do, as moiself is not on Twitter). Here is Rowling’s tweet in its entirety:
” ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and resulting economic recession, with the largest unemployment figures since The Great Depression and uncertain options for recovery, while simultaneous grappling with nationwide civil unrest after the horrific death of yet another black man murdered by police officers,  with demonstrations in a few cases turning to riots and sparking even more shocking displays of police brutality …which seems to be leading us toward a long overdue reckoning of our country’s entrenched system of political, judicial, financial, educational and cultural racism, the (grudging, in the case of many white folks) acknowledgement of which is fueling calls for the Herculaneum and potentially divisive (as counter-protests by white supremacist terrorist groups – which have yet to be labeled as such by our federal law enforcement agencies – indicate) tasks of addressing systemic racism, which includes reforming – or some cases, even dismantling– our nation’s law policing agencies….
And does even *one* of y’all think Rowling’s tweet is a fight worth picking? Are you having a really bad period – excuse me, are you a Person On The Rag?
The denizens of the Transphobia Determination Committee and their special friends, famous and otherwise, began to pile on. One Twitter-er responded to Rowling with a judgmentally terse, “Why did you do this?”
Rowling doesn’t need me to defend her (she explains her wider concerns with gender and feminist issues, including the censorial tyranny of “wrongthink,” here). But, As A Writer, ® I understand exactly (at least one) reason why Rowling “did that.” Because she wrote  just what I was thinking – and likely would have mentioned in this space, had I come across the article’s title before this silly controversy began…because the phrase “People Who Menstruate” is a stand-up comic’s wacky, face-palming, WTF?!? gift…not to mention grammatically ungainly.
Oh, and, Et tu, Daniel Radcliffe?
For those of you who’ve been off-planet for the past nineteen years, actor Radcliffe played the title character in the eight movies made from Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. In his intro to a piece he wrote for the Trevor Project blog site, Radcliffe opined on Rowling’s tweet. He stated that he feels compelled
“…as a human being…”
(nice of him to clarify that, for those people who may think he is actually some kind of non-human wizard, or something)
“…to say something at this moment.
Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people….”
Oh, Danny boy. Do you really think that JK Rowling possesses what would be the most powerful magic ever: that she could, in a mere 21 words, cast a wizarding spell which “erases the identity and dignity“ of any of your fellow human beings?
Identity erasure,schmasure. Rowling said no such thing – who is trying to attach this “erasure” identity onto her? Just as she called out conservative evangelical Christians who accused her of promoting Satanism and the occult in her Harry Potter books, Rowling is calling b.s. on the transphobic accusation. You supported her re the former “charges;” why are you so quick to accept the latter?
Rowling’s tweet poked fun at a comically cumbersome phrase. Harry Potter (whoops! sorry for the unintentional erasure of your true identity) Daniel Radcliffe, you owe your career to this gifted writer, who created a seven book series filled with wonder and adventure and, arguably more importantly, interspersed with nuanced portrayals about individual and group reactions and responsibilities vis-à-vis recognizing and responding to good and evil. Now here you are, forsaking even a modicum of nuance in jumping on the *Someone is Offended!* bandwagon. Did you even think to contact Rowling privately, before joining the social media pile-on?
What is happening to Rowling frosts my butt. At best it’s snippy – and at worst can be confusing, angering, and frustrating and sometimes dangerous – to be labeled as something that you are not. Hmm, this phenomenon seems somehow…familiar. Other people trying to force an unwanted and inaccurate identity upon you – hey, y’all “transphobic” accusers: double standards, much?
Humans are mammals. In mammalian species all females have uteri, most have an estrous cycle, and the females of ten primate species, four bats species and a couple of other rodent species have a menstrual cycle. Human females are generally referred as women (although as per gender identity theories a small percentage of people who identify as women are not born female).
Pick your battles, folks. Don’t alienate those who are your allies, or who would like to be allies but who are hesitant to go public with their support because they fear you might rip ’em a new one if they use terminology you don’t like or “misuse” pronouns, etc.
Where is Monty Python at a time like this?  Imagine the Ministry of Silly Terminology or Argument Clinic-style skits they could get out of this Twitter tantrum.
You who want to pick fights over what should be non/the smallest of issues – pick away. Meanwhile, #45 ( aka Chief Little Bunker-Bitch ) and his minion of bigots keep pulling this shit while they notice we’re busy picking at ourselves:
Moiselfcan hardly believe how many keystrokes I’ve wasted on this brouhaha. It’s errand time; my essential supplies are getting scarce. There are some chili bean-loving dudes coming for a visit in a couple of weeks, so I’m off to stock up on toilet paper for when the guys – excuse me, I mean, People Who Shit – stop by.
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Department Of Can’t Resist This Segue: Speaking Of Labeling…. Sub-Department Of Message To Police Officers Everywhere (That They Are *So* Likely To Read….)
I’ve seen several Facebook posts linking to an article published recently in The Baltimore Sun. In ” An open letter to a protester from a Baltimore County police officer,” officer Seth Templeton, a five year police veteran who views himself as “one of the good guys,” writes with sincerity, articulation, and heartfelt regret about his pain, as a police officer, of being tainted by the actions of a few bad cops.
“I would ask that you judge me not by my uniform,
but by the content of my character.”
To the “good guys” (and good gals) in police forces across the nation:
Do you not see what an *amazing* gift this tainting is?
I don’t mean to dismiss your pain; if you can’t understand my explanation of why this tainting is actually a gift, please take a breather and read it again…then, if you still don’t get it, moiself humbly but seriously suggests that, for the good of the nation and your own sanity, you should find another profession.
Most of us think we have the ability to do, or are presently doing, what in fact is one of the more difficult tasks human being can undertake, in our journey to be Better People ®: to put ourselves in another person’s place. You remember the axiom about not judging a person until you have….
This is your chance for change and growth, a chance to start your own mindful practice of empathy. If you consider yourself a good/honest/upright police officer, if you took your oath *to protect and serve* seriously, please do the following:
Every time you feel tainted by the actions of a few of your “brothers in blue,” put yourselves in the shoes of another of your could-be brothers and sisters – of just one of the countless black men and women whose entire lives are tainted by the assumptions and prejudices of others. They are
* pulled over for minor traffic infractions – or for no reasons at all – because they fit a stereotype in some cop’s mind of what a criminal is/does/looks like
* pulled over while driving and questioned because they do *not* fit the police officers’ image of what kind of person drives a luxury car/lives or works in this wealthy neighborhood/has a car with MD license plates…
*stopped, questioned and frisked, in their neighborhood or on their own front porches, by the police, who are looking for drugs, while their same age white peers living on college are told by the campus police to move their marijuana plants away from their dorm windowsill so that parents attending Homecoming Weekend won’t see them
Here’s the thing: those people who judge you, who do not know you personally but who put you in the category of “bad cop,” because of your uniform? Those people do not have the weight of your gun, night stick, taser, squad car and fellow officers and police union to back you up, along with a judicial system predisposed to believe your word (even when there are eyewitnesses and objective evidence – including video footage from street cams, stores, cellphones, and even your own body cam – to contradict you).
Those people who judge, fear and/or slag on you have…what? Merely their scorn, their fear that you are “one of *those* cops.” Do you realize how skewed the power dynamics are? Even as I’m hoping you take this opportunity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, the shoes are hardly the same size, are they?
It’s a big culture to reform; police officers are part of their communities and do not operate in a vacuum. Rather, the violence, prejudice and corruption we see in policing stems from the systemic racism promulgated by the mythology of white superiority that has plagued our nation since its founding, and which permeates *every* aspect of its power structures. This is your opportunity be part of the solution…or get out of the way if you’re not up to it.
But, I hope you don’t leave. Your essay gives me hope that you have the strength to do the right thing, even if it means bearing the sting of false accusations (while remembering that so many others have borne and continue to bear so much more than mere false accusations). I’d rather you stay and work for change, and justice. Because that is what a good cop would do.
* * *
Pun For The Day
My aunt urgently needed a transfusion…
but she died before we could remember her blood type.
Her last words to us were, “Be positive!”
May you surprise someone by celebrating their half-birthday; May we all try to be the good cops; May you enjoy making your own damn dinner; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 in Devex, a “global development media platform.”
 The WSSC is a global organization advocating for “…poverty eradication, health and environmental improvement, gender equality and long-term social and economic development.” The article deals with the worldwide requirements, pandemic or no, for safe access to “menstrual materials, toilets, soap, water, and private spaces in the face of lockdown living conditions that have eliminated privacy for many populations.”.
 Or should I say, George Floyd was murdered by “People With Guns and Badges.”
Department Of Questions That Have No Logical Answers 
The realm in question:
Sci-fi and set-in-the-future movies and television shows.
The question for the realm:
Why are the (almost always male) directors’ and/or producers’ of such shows seemingly obsessed with bizarre/fantastical/just-plain-silly female hairstyles?
“Kroika! Only he who is strong enough to remove this hibernating wolverine from my head shall be my mate.”
Do these men imagine that, in the future and/or “out in space,” the laws of gravity will not apply to hair proceeding from the scalps of both humanoid and alien women?
Just moiself asking. Because, you know – science.
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Department Of Surprise Of The Week (As In, Are You Kidding – Not. At. All.)
AKA Jane Roe. Put that documentary on your streaming list. Highly recommended.
A bombshell documentary airing…on FX adds a final shocking twist to Norma McCorvey’s ideologically eventful life. In AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey offers what she calls a “deathbed confession”: Actually, she was basically pro-choice all along and only became a pro-life activist for the money. “It was a mutual thing,” she tells director Nick Sweeney. “I took their money, and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say.” Sweeney displays tax documents revealing that McCorvey received at least $450,000 from pro-life groups over the course of her years as an activist, often classified as “benevolent gifts.” (slate.com)
Apparently, there are some people who are shocked and/or disappointed to learn that Norma Jean McCarvey, aka “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe V. Wade SCOTUS decision, admitted she was paid for her notorious “flip-flop” – from pro-choice to anti-abortion – by the anti-abortion side.
In the final scene of “AKA Jane Roe,” a near-death McCorvey is asked if she felt she was a “trophy” to the pro-life movement, and she says, “Of course. I was the Big Fish. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say … I’m a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.” (rogerebert.com review of AKA Jane Roe)
Such tactics are no surprise to many of us who have worked in women’s reproductive health care. The anti-abortionists  use the ends-justifies-the-means excuses for their deception, propaganda, and outright pants-on-fire lies.
Moiself has more stories than I care to recall, from both my days at Planned Parenthood and a private OB-GYN practice, having to do with women’s encounters with anti-choice exploiters activists. One of the ickiest stories I will detail in next week’s post.
One of my “favorite” such stories came from a PP I worked at, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in the Bay Area. I was in the clinic’s lab, about to start the centrifuge, when I saw my co-worker, MT, exit the exam room across from the lab. MT, known and admired by her coworkers for her serenity and equanimity, face-palmed her forehead as she scurried toward me, holding a pipette of her patient’s blood. As she added her sample to the centrifuge, I asked her whence the WTF?!?! expression on her face. She replied that her patient had come to PP after first going to one of those shit-faced, lying to women “Pregnancy Counseling Centers” which, its receptionist assured her when she telephoned for info, was a legitimate medical clinic. While the patient was waiting for her pregnancy test to be run, the center’s “counselor” told her that having an abortion would give her cancer (of her “womb”), which could then infect her husband’s reproductive tract.
* * *
Department Of Why We’re On The Subject Of Lying To Women…And Men….
Division Of Taking A Break From Dissing My Religious Roots And Going After Other Peoples’
Sub-Department Of More Fun With Movies
This next movie I recommend is not a documentary, ala AKA Jane Roe, but is an equally fascinating, disturbing, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful account of real-life events. It is based on Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. Feldman’s memoir recounts growing up within, becoming estranged to, and finally escaping from her rigid Satmar Hasidic community in the Willamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
So. My thoughts after watching Netflix’s four-part series, Unorthodox:
I wonder how many of the residents of New York City’s most populous borough go about their daily business without giving a thought to the fact that, in their northwest corner, there is an entire community of people ruled by…mmm, how do I put this…mind-numbing, misogynistic mythological minutia.
I’ve heard of/read about the voluminous rules & regs of Hasidic life, but to be presented with the daily realities of the Satmar Hasids…yikes with a capital IKES. The sect’s many extremist emphases include an ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist theology (they’re not fond of other [read: non-Hasidic] Jews, and particularly loathe the secular ones), and rejection of modernity. As for the latter, they are able to interpret some amusing exceptions for themselves (surprise!). For example, Satmar Hasids may have a cellphone, but not a ‘smart” phone – or any device with internet access (which would allow you to ask questions of/read opinions and facts presented by authorities other than your rabbi).
Satmar Hasids’ lives are a continual numerical equation of sorts, a computing and tracking of what must be done and when and how often – as well as, the biggest list of all, the thou-shall nots – all carried out within the confines of a close-knit (read: gossip-ridden and judgmental) community isolated from non-Jews, estranged from other (non-Hasidic) Jews, and centered around the dicta of a grand rabbi leader. 
All of the minutia of rules rules rules – and did I mention, rules?  The most time-consuming, and physically and intellectually and sexually onerous and stifling “guidelines” and restrictions are (surprise, again!) applied to women.
“Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a gentile;” “Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a slave.” “Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a woman.” (2,000 year old prayer, from the Talmud, which Orthodox Jewish men are still supposed to recite every morning)
Hasids’ lives are directed by the triviality of detail, the constant accounting of everything – how many days for this, steps for that, when to touch or say or eat this and not that, what to cover and uncover – lives prescribed and restricted by the rules that (they are taught) are from their god and are monitored by their god (and the other community members. You are always being watched). Yet, somehow, there’s a subset of rules as to how you can circumvent the other rules  – which, remember, are from The King Of The Universe…who apparently isn’t paying enough attention to notice when his minions are doing an end run around his holy rules.
Adherents and supporters of such religious communities argue that those rules and rituals give meaning to life. Moiself, along with those who have escaped from such constrictive communities, call claptrap and bullshit take strong issue with that claim.
When I’ve read and watched the stories of people who’ve fled such communities, it’s obvious to moiself that the fulfillment of the religious rules – and the task of merely trying to keep track of all of them – takes up the majority of one’s time. This crucial phenomenon serves to keep the community running…even if it’s only on its own cultural hamster wheel. As a member of the community you aren’t really doing anything other than upholding the community. You are not doing, learning, or producing anything new/original. You’re not even thinking original thoughts, but merely “studying” those of your community’s founder, who presents himself as your god’s interpreter. And with all this you shall pass the time because…what else is there for you to do, that you are allowed to do?
And, oh, the pervasive and primitive misogyny at the root of the Hasid – of any religion’s – social regulations! The fear and mis-characterization of, and obsession with, female sexuality is ever present, despite the claims that the religion’s rules uphold the “beauty and sanctity of the marital relationship” (the ultimate purpose of which is to produce more human specimens for their god’s ant farm). Denying and obscuring and shaming, either directly or obliquely, is applied to the physical aspects of being human, the very aspects which supposedly stem from their creator-god. What a world of spiritual and cognitive dissonance – to honestly think about it would drive an introspective person mad. But, once again: ritual and rules to the rescue!
The detailed pro-and pre-scribing of peoples’ behavior – even their thoughts – is a highly effective form of crowd control. The decrees and rituals to be learned and applied – the continuous “studying“ of them guarantees there will be no true contemplation going on…because you’re just too damn busy trying to remember it all (“Hmm; was that mitzvot 513 or 613?”). A day is only so long; keeping your sect’s versions of physical, mental and spiritual “kosher” keeps you from having the time for the kind of thoughtful analysis of these superstitious burdens codes which would allow you to see through and escape from them.
Now then. To those of us who are giving ourselves the proverbial pat on the back re our relatively progressive take on things: I can’t help but wonder how many “moderate” believers (of any religion) who’ll watch Unorthodox– or perhaps another depiction of an extremist/Fundy sect of their own faith – will cluck their tongues at the primeval actions and philosophies of the Fundies, and not realize their own proximity to such retrograde superstitions.
Yes, the same g-d who commands that we reject the homos is honored by our Nancy-boy curls and Ru-Paul-to-die-for hats, trust us.
If you are religious, those are your roots. You only are a few notches up the scale of modernity, if you try to apply Iron Age spirituality in the 21st century. You may reject or laugh at the claims of, say, your Fundy Christian cousins, but do you still, literally or figuratively, embrace the tenets of Christianity? Do you, either with fellow worshipers in a god-box (temple, church) or alone in the privacy of your home, telepathically beseech and/or grovel to a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father and who can make you live forever if you symbolically cannibalize him (“take communion”) and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical but forbidden tree?
Yep. You’re not like those silly Fundies at all.
* * *
Department Of I Know The Year Isn’t Even Half Over Yet…
…but moiself has a nomination for the Mascot For The Year 2020.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, we are in the Year of the Rat – although in my estimation, we have been ever since #45 took office.
Ahem. Ladies and Gentleman, for your consideration, I propose that 2020 may be declared The Year Of The Murder Hornet.
Yes, you heard me right: THE MURDER HORNET. A name like that begs for all caps, n’est ce pas?
THE MURDER HORNET.
I am compelled to keep typing it. I so wish I was making this up – and so will you, if you read about this insect. The name alone – do you even want to Google it?
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Department of The Corona Virus Playlist The 500 Greatest Songs Off All Time Edition
As per the Rolling Stone Magazine list .  Not to diss songs 101-500, but I culled the following entrants from the top 100 (’cause life is short and I like to eat dinner).
As with previous CVPs, moiself has listed some of these song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story. This time there’s no clue save for the song titles as to who the recording artists are (but few clues needed, given the RS list’s bold title).
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction My Generation Imagine What’s Going On Suspicious Minds
A Change Is Gonna Come Blowin’ in the Wind People Get Ready A Day in the Life
Help! I Walk the Line Gimme Shelter Let’s Stay Together Let It Be
The Times They Are a-Changin’ The Weight Heroes Bridge Over Troubled Water
Walk On By You Really Got Me I Heard It Through the Grapevine Every Breath You Take Crazy
And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week – never mind. EEE on hiatus this week. So, get your own damn dinner ideas.
* * *
May you never see a MURDER HORNET, even from a safe distance; May you reject all belief systems which require you to wear silly hats; May the month of June bring us closer to a cure from COVID-19 (and MURDER HORNETS); …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Including why they often appear in moiself’s brain, seemingly apropos of nothing.
 They’re definitely not “pro-life” – (unless the life in question is fetal) as their other political views and polities indicate.
 In the Satmar community’s case, a Hungarian rabbi who migrated to the US with a group of followers after WWII.
 They are way too many to list; and many revolve around the paramount importance of maintaining what they define as physical modesty: bodies must be covered fully; all clothing is formal (or what as a child my family would have called “dress-up” clothes). Women’s skirts must hang a certain distance below the knees, shirt sleeves must extend past the elbows, bodices must cover the collarbone. Satmar Hassids take the modesty rules to the extreme re women’s hair: when a girl marries she must shave her head, then wear a wig when she is in public (if she has no hair then she cannot possibly tempt a man with her hair, because he can’t possibly or even accidentally see her hair when she has no hair. A totally logical thing for an almighty deity to be concerned with.
* Young people are kept ignorant about their bodies; masturbation (and any sexual contact or knowledge) outside of marriage is forbidden; thus, marriages (arranged when the participants are between the ages of 17-19) are often consummated with the Hasidic bride essentially being raped by her husband.
* Women are considered ritually “unclean” for a period of 12 days each month (during and after menstruation). Husbands must not have physical contact with their wives until after she has had a Mikveh (ritual cleansing bath). There are scads of rules for pregnancy, including that a pregnant woman must not gaze at “non-kosher animals and other impure things.” A woman is ritually unclean for 7 days after birthing a boy and 14 days after having a girl.
* Husbands are “unclean” – but for only one day – after ejaculating, and take a mikvah to restore ritual purity.
-You must pray three times a day, and make sure that on the Sabbath (Shabbos) each prayer session is longer than usual, and also study certain religious texts at certain times of the day for certain lengths of time (the primary role of Hasid women is wife and mother; because of this, women are excused from some commandments that require them to study/pray at certain times of day.)
* Work” is prohibited on the Sabbath. What is defined as work includes writing (or erasing!), tearing of paper, driving, shopping, using any electric device, cooking, laundry, cleaning, carrying any object outside of the home, handling money…. There is a maximum number of steps you may take on the Sabbath (again, as interpreted per your rabbi, and there are ways to define what is your home/community that can skirt this requirement).
 Hasidic Jews will ask or even hire a non-Jew, aka a “Shabbas goy,” to perform basic tasks – e.g. turning on a light or an air conditioner – which the Hasids are forbidden to do on the Sabbath. Yet, even then, the Hasids can’t be honest, to themselves or the goys, about how they are skirting this holy commandment of no work on the Sabbath. When enlisting assistance they’ll try to avoid asking directly (“Would you please turn on the light for me?”); rather, they’ll drop hints and hope the goy will get it and help them (example: “It’s so hot in this room…if only the fan was turned on….”).
 Which was curated nine years ago, so yeah, an update may be needed.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would do themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.
Department Of As The Isolation Lengthens The Thoughts Deepen (or…not)
These times of uncertainty are also times of having more time – perhaps, too much time – to ponder the great existential questions of our age. All issues, from the profound to the mundane, may come to mind in the blink of an eye…or the punch of a car radio button.
Dateline: Wednesday, late a.m., driving home from the grocery store. “Those nachos were really hard on my stomach,” moans a voice in a radio ad, which segues into the familiar Pepto-Bismol commercial jingle. I listen to a chorus of pleasant voices warble the praises of a product which, they assure me, will sooth just about whatever ails a person’s digestive tract, and I wonder about the singers of such jingles. I assume they do commercials and voice-overs as a way to supplement their income – from what I gather, the life of most professional vocalists is fraught with uncertainty, and they take whatever gigs pay the bills. Still, I wonder if the young (I’m assuming) man with the lovely tenor voice ever imagined, during all those years in the practice rooms as he was training his “ear,” learning to sight read and honing other skills in pursuit of his BFA in Vocal Performance, that he would one day be in a recording studio to practice holding just the right amount of vibrato on the end syllable of, “diarrhea-aaaaaaaah“ ? 
* * *
Department Of Screaming At People Who Can’t Hear Me Chapter 375 In A Never-Ending Series
Dateline: May 9, 7 a.m.-ush, out for a walk, listening to the most recent Radiolab podcast: David and Dominique. From the Radiolab website, here is the episode’s description:
David ___ and Dominique ___ have a couple of things in common: they both live in New York, they’re both gay, and they’re both HIV-positive. But David is in his 60s and has been living with the disease since moving to New York in the ‘80s. Dominique, on the other hand, is only in his early 30s…this episode features a very special conversation between David and Dominique about the similarities and differences in their experiences living with HIV.
Dominique, as part of his job working for a gay men’s health crisis type organization, advises people on safe sex practices. In the last third of the interview Dominique talked with David about contracting HIV and the medications he, like David, now must take, for life. Dominique had been HIV negative, but when he entered into what he thought was a mutually monogamous relationship, he stopped using safe sex practices. David asked Dominique if he is embarrassed about having HIV; Dominique vehemently denied that, and claimed he doesn’t regret anything. Dominique also said that when people find out about his HIV status change, some have asked him if, looking back, would he change things – what would he do different (ly)?
“I wouldn’t change *anything.* I made a conscious decision to be in love. If I had to change one thing I will say I wish I were in a relationship with someone who was more honest….but, like, people were saying…”don’t you wished you had ‘wrapped it up,’ and I know this (the question David had asked him, about embarrassment) is not a safe sex question, but no I probably wouldn’t have used a condom because I was in a trusting relationship, we were getting tested, right? So, I wouldn’t change anything…”
I know what I am *supposed *to think when, someone says something like that. Moiselfis supposed to think, Oh how honest how brave how heroic/noble.
Instead, I blurted out, to the pavement and the crows perched in the trees, what I honestly and absolutely do think:
“What an idiot!”
What a shallow, non-introspective idiot.
It’s the same thing I say – usually to moiself – when I encounter similar declarations from any individual (via personal conversation with a friend or family member or colleague, or reading an interview with or bio about a notable person) who declares that, looking back on their life, they wouldn’t change a thing.
This kind of no-regrets/I-wouldn’t-change-anything assertion (read: humble-brag) is usually/immediately followed by the explanation/justification about how the ups and downs of life, the good the bad and the ugly, have all contributed to their whole persona and/or where they are today….
Now, I don’t disagree with the we-are-everything-that-we-have-done-have-had-done-to-us sentiment. Rather, I take *strong* issue with the idea that *no regrets* is a positive, even admirable, quality for a human being to have, or strive for.
Or a thoughtful non-Terran, for that matter.
In my opinion, if you have no regrets, you simply have not paid attention. If you have no regrets, you probably have little empathy. What is the point of self-reflection if you learn nothing from that which, you realize, was a regrettable action on your part?
Can we truly learn from our mistakes if we don’t admit or identify what was a mistake? And yes, the question of changing one’s actions (“Looking back, what would you do differently?”) can be viewed as moot, since the opportunity to do so has, so far, only presented itself in science fiction movies and novels. Still, I mistrust a person who says that, knowing what they know now, they would do everything the same. I think a person who confidently makes such a declaration hasn’t *really* thought the question through… or if they have and still hold that absolutist conclusion, they are shallow and/or callous.
Because our mistakes don’t just hurt our own selves.
The young man (YM) whose drunk driving killed my friend’s son (and another passenger in YM’s truck) served a jail sentence for “gross vehicular manslaughter.” I sincerely hope that he put his time in jail to good use; even more sincerely, I hope he never expresses any variation of how, if given the proverbial time travel opportunity, he “wouldn’t change a thing” because now he is more thoughtful and/or learned some bit life lessons, or now he knows from *personal experience* why people should never drink and drive…. There are *so* many other ways YM could have learned those lessons than by causing the death of his friends and the enduring agony of their loved ones.
So, to any of us who have ever (probably in haste and somewhat thoughtlessly) boasted said that we “…have no regrets/ would do everything over again,” moiself asks,
You would never take back words said or actions done in anger or haste – words and deeds that didn’t instigate international armed conflict but nevertheless caused someone acute or ongoing pain? You would never admit to wishing you’d spent more time getting to know certain people (the shy or nerdy or otherwise “uncool” kid at school or work, or your aging relatives), instead of spending so much time and energy on people (the “popular” gang at school, the influential go-getters at work) whom, if you met ’em today, you wouldn’t give ’em directions to the outhouse?
Yeah, it’s your body and you don’t regret any of those cigarettes,  Ms. Marching Bravely To The Grave…but it’s never *just* your body, honey. It’s your friends and family and colleagues who also suffer, physically as well as mentally and emotionally, as they watch you slowly suffocate to death; it’s your colleagues who must pick up the slack at work; it’s the health care system you burden….
Just to be clear, by regrets I’m talking honest self-assessment here, and not in any way encouraging shame-obsessed wallowing (which, in the opinions of both moiself and the American Psychological Association – jolly good of them to agree with me, don’t you think? – usually benefits no one).
Moiselfhas learned from the “regrets” examples of others, when they have shared what they’ve regretted. I can think of more than one occasion where I have stopped moiselffrom doing/saying similar hurtful things or rephrased my thoughts or changed my course of action, because of someone else’s admission of regret for having done something similar. And yes of course, I’ve learned from my own mistakes, but so many of them… well, there were other ways I could have learned those lessons, other ways which did not involve being unkind to other folks.
I don’t think that people should regret *everything* (that they either knew at the time or that turned out to be a bad move on their part). I do hold that those who’ve convinced themselves that they regret *nothing* are demonstrating that they have learned nothing about what it means to walk through this world as a sentient being. To any and all No-regrets folk, please: Do the world a favor: find a sci-fi time travel machine and go back and work on yourself.
Honestly, could a face like this have any regrets?
* * *
Department of The Corona Virus Playlist The Honky-Tonk Country Music Edition
There are more sub-genres of Country Music than there are hook extender panels on Dolly Parton’s brassieres’ straps. Honky-Tonk, a term whose etymology is disputed, generally refers to the kind of music which emerged from early 1900s piano bars which provided country music – often referred to (by the music industry) – as hillbilly music – to entertain their patrons. As per Wikipedia:
Originally, [honky tonk music] featured the guitar, fiddle, string bass, and steel guitar. The vocals were originally rough and nasal, as exemplified by the singer-songwriters Floyd Tillman and Hank Williams, but later developed a clear and sharp sound, such as that of George Jones and Faron Young. Lyrics tended to focus on working-class life, with frequently tragic themes of lost love, adultery, loneliness, alcoholism, and self-pity.
Moiself has listed some of those exemplars of honky-tonk song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.
I’ve Been Out A-walkin’ I’ll Give You Something To Drink About If Drinking Don’t Kill Me God’s Gonna Get ‘cha Your Cheating Heart Hell Stays Open All Night Long
All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers Blue Side Of Lonesome We Live In Two Different Worlds Bridge Washed Out Don’t Let Me Cross Over
Just Waitin’ I Love You So Much It Hurts Near You Nothing Can Stop My Loving You Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin
We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds We’re Gonna Hold On There’s The Door How Can You Refuse Him Now When The Grass Grows Over Me
Be Careful Of Stones You Throw Alone And Forsaken I Love You So Much It Hurts I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Livin’ I’ve Just Told Mama Goodbye
Take These Chains From My Heart The Angel Of Death The Old Log Train Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul You’re Barkin’ Up The Wrong Tree Now
May you truly not have a reason to regret the majority of your regrets; May time spent reading this blog *not* be one of your regrets; May jingles about intestinal distress remedies never intrude upon your deep thoughts; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 I wonder how that credit appears on a professional vocalist’s resumé?
 A declaration from one (there have been so many) of my relatives who died from smoking-related or caused disease. This particular one had arranged with a doctor she used to work for to insure that nothing related to cancer/smoking would go on her death certificate (she was too proud for what to her would have been an admission, that, as a former nurse, she “should have known better”) .
 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.
* 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 ® !
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.