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The Demon I’m Not Blaming

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Department Of Judging A Book By Its Cover

He just looks like the kind of meth-head, macho asshole who would want to own exotics so that people would think he’s tough shit.

That was the less-than-charitable response of moiself, which I texted to daughter Belle after she’d sent me a link to the story about the indictment of “Joe Exotic” (a repulsive waste of human DNA whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage) for a murder for hire plot.

Here’s the picture.   Judge for yourself.  [1]

 

 

Joe

 

 

 Okay; perhaps you’re not as judgmental as moiself and don’t want to condemn the man by looks alone. No problem; his vile actions and “profession” are condemnation enough:

The operator of a Florida-based animal sanctuary says she was the target of an Oklahoma zookeeper who was indicted last week on federal murder-for-hire charges.
Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue said she’s clashed in the past with Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who goes by the nickname “Joe Exotic,”and that “He’s been threatening me for many, many years.”
Prosecutors allege that Maldonado-Passage tried to hire two separate people to kill an unnamed woman,  [2] who wasn’t harmed. One of the unidentified people he sought to hire connected him with an undercover FBI agent, who met with Maldonado-Passage in December 2017….. Maldonado-Passage had previously posted threatening videos online, including one in which he shot an effigy of (Carole Baskin) in the head.
“You want to know why Carole Baskin better never, ever, ever see me face to face ever, ever, ever again,” he said in the video, just before firing a revolver.
(“Zookeeper ‘Joe Exotic’ arrested in murder-for-hire plot involving Florida cat-rescue group,” 9-10-18, Orlando Sentinal)

The Big Cat Rescue’s website was no doubt relieved to be able to post the following announcement, about their stalker’s indictment:

“It is important to understand that this is not the isolated act of one crazy bad apple,” Baskin said. “A significant part of our mission has been to stop mistreatment and exploitation of big cats at roadside zoos, particularly those who rip tiger cubs from their mothers at birth to charge the public to pet and take photos with them. Because Big Cat Rescue has been a leader in working to stop what we view as abuse of big cats and been very effective in our work, I have received multiple death threats over the years, including at one point a number of snakes placed in my mailbox.
According to the FBI, animal abuse is highly correlated with human-to-human violence.
(“Joe Exotic”) ran, in our view, one of the most notorious cub petting roadside zoos in the country….Years ago he also operated a traveling exhibit that would bring cubs to malls throughout the Midwest and Southwest. When Big Cat Rescue educated the malls about the miserable life this created for the cubs and the malls started cancelling (“Joe Exotic’s”) traveling exhibit….

 

 

cubs

 

 

 Sub-Department Of A Mother Breathing A Sigh Of Relief

The odious Joe Exotic, who will soon become familiar with the less-than-exotic walls of a prison cell,  [3] is well-known amongst exotic animal welfare advocates for, as daughter Belle put it, “making public threats against places like us, especially big cat rescues, and he’s made scary threats about what he would do if someone tried to take away his cats.” Belle, who is working an internship with another Exotic Wildlife Rescue sanctuary, interviewed with and received job offers from several such animal rescue organizations, including Big Cat Rescue.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Getting Better But (Still) Not Getting It

Rep. Steve Scalise, the congressman shot in the hip a year ago June by a gunman who ambushed the Republican congressional baseball during their practice, is recovering from his physical wounds.  I recently watched the rebroadcast of the 60 Minutes show which was aired nine months after the shooting and which featured Scalise being interviewed about the violent incident and its aftermath.

As I watched Rep. Scalise, and his Supportive/Smiling Wife Who Sat By His Side And Said Almost Nothing, ®  I was glad to hear of his ongoing recovery from his wounds –which, like most gunshot injuries, were more extensive than initially realized and/or reported.  I also couldn’t help but notice how…well, how do I put it…how otherwise “well” the couple looked and acted, nine months after a horrific ordeal of surgery after surgery upon surgery to literally put his pelvis back together, and the months of physical therapy which will remain ongoing as he has to relearn how to walk.

In many ways Scalise and his wife looked almost exactly like what they were before the shooting:  a successful, wealthy couple inhabiting the upper echelons of our nation’s power structure. They have been able to maintain their job(s) and economic (and social) status, while other families who’ve suddenly been faced with catastrophic injuries/illness have been driven to the poorhouse by stacks of medical bills. Now, why is this? Could it be, among other factors, that Scalise benefited from the job security and the socialized medicine government health care subsidies provided to members of Congress…benefits which the Republicans are loathe to extend to their fellow Americans?

Just wondering.

 

 

iknowwhatyoumwan

 

 

Also, one of the police officers who responded to the shooting and who engaged the gunman – read: who put her life on the line to save Scalise’s  [4] –  is a lesbian. This fact was not mentioned in the 60 minutes piece, and I wish it would have been. I would have liked to have seen a 60 Minutes correspondent, in the midst of an otherwise puff piece, ask the question which came to my mind and which I later wondered aloud to MH:  would that fact – being saved by a gay cop – somehow figure in Rep. Scalise’s decision making process when it comes time to cast his next vote on a LGBTQ civil rights issue?

Silly, silly moi:

Steve Scalise To Speak At Anti-Gay Group’s Forum
Months After Lesbian Cop Saved His Life
Huffington Post, 10-6-17 )

 

 

 

wtf2

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of All Authentic Artists Adore Alliteration

My propensity for being easily amused can be a boon or a blight, or a combination of the two.  [5]  All I know is that this NY Times photo caption, from a 9-13 story on North Carolinians preparing for Hurricane Florence…in the face of impending havoc (for other people, ahem), I’ve been entertained for hours by the idea of Beebles boarding beach bungalows.

 

 

beebles

“John Beebles, left, and his son, John Jr., boarded up their beach bungalow ahead of Hurricane Florence.”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yeah Pope I’m Talkin’ To You – Look In The Mirror If You Want To See The Great Accuser’s Face

The Pope suggests the DEVIL is behind sex abuse cover-up scandal, saying: ‘It seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and has it in for bishops.’
Pope Francis made the claims during his address at morning Mass at the Vatican.
He suggested the ‘Great Accuser’, or the devil, was behind the revelations.
Francis also claimed the accuser ‘had it in’ for bishops who are being hounded.
( The Daily Mail, 9-11-18 )

So, someone “has it in” for Catholic bishops who are being hounded because they (the bishops) abetted criminal acts? Golly gee – no normal, decent person would think of demanding accountability for those who not only failed to report sexual abuse of children but who also protected and enabled molesters and rapists….could that someone be….

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you humbly contemplate the sad reality in which bullet wounds heal quicker than bigoted mindsets;
May you hold people (and not mythological demons) responsible for their actions;
May you be besotted with the brainchild of Beebles boarding your bungalows;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

[1] Or Google for images of” Joe Exotic,” if his mug shot isn’t revealing enough for you.

[2] Unnamed in the indictment, later identified as Baskin.

[3] I told Belle I was hoping he’d be eaten by one of his exotics, which would save the taxpayers $$ on his room and board.

[4] Officer Crystal Griner was one of two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman  “prevented a massacre”,) and who sustained gunshot wounds during the attack.

[5] Or so I’ve been told by some of my “formers” – former employers, roommates, significant others….

The Hair I’m Not Straightening

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Department Of What Is Wrong With This Picture

Dateline: At the hair salon…waiting for my turn…looking for anything other than Hairstyles of the Rich and Famous or celebrity tragedy magazines to pass the time. The pickings are slim. I pick up some kind of My House is More Beautiful Than Your House magazine. On the magazine’s second page I see the following photo, which accompanies advertising copy re furnishing one’s “dream house.” A certain detail gave me the feeling that the photographer and/or photo-stager had never actually cooked real food in a real kitchen.

 

 

pasta

 

 

Call me crazy, but my dream house would include having cooks residing therein who know the proper pasta-to-cooking-pot ratio.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Darndest Things

 

 

 

kids say

 

 

 

Yet another dateline: last Thursday evening; after the afore-alluded-to haircut.

Backstory: I get my hair cut every six weeks. My current stylist  [1] blow dries/flat irons my hair to razor sharp, shiny verticality, which means that for 2-3 days every 6 weeks, I have really straight hair.  Ever since the birth of daughter Belle my hair has had a natural curl, no chemical inducement necessary.  [2]  The hair thing turned out to be one of those “temporary” pregnancy changes that stuck around après baby.

The first time the stylist suggested she blow dry my hair straight was four years ago, when Belle was a senior in high school.  Belle loved the way my hair looked when it was straight. MH and son K did not. They said,

You don’t look like yourself.

I agreed with them, even as I decided to forgo listing the upside of not looking like moiself every now and then.  I assured my spouse and our son that, regardless of whether or not I liked my hair straight, I’ve neither the time, the patience, nor the girly-hair-styling-skillset (nor the desire to acquire the latter) to successfully and regularly wield the Implements of Hair Uncurling ®. Thus, the look which they found so objectionable would be episodic and brief, at most.

Last week, on the eve when I returned from the salon, K made the inevitable comment re my hair. I said I was well aware that he didn’t like my hair “this way.” Before moiself could solicit reasons for his dislike, K offered the following:

“It’s just that it makes you look, in my opinion, like a soccer mom who brings Kraft Singles for the after-game snacks.  [3]

Damn right I raised that young man.

 

kraft

If this don’t straighten y’all’s hair, nothing will.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Continuing Datelines

Dateline: in line for a matinee showing of the movie, Love, Simon. Overhearing their interactions with the ticket clerk, I realize that the several women (all over a certain age, by the senior discounts I hear them claim) in front of me in the ticket line have each, separately, come to the theater to see Love, Simon. I offer an observation about that to the universe, after which the woman directly in front of me, and then the two women behind me, chime in about how they too have come to the theatre, separately, to see the same movie.

When was my turn  [4] I said to the ticket clerk, One for…can you guess? Ticket Clerk Lady’s face went blank for just a moment, until I followed up with, Yep, we middle-aged women all love us some Simon.

 

 

 

 

movieold

I’d enjoy this more if we were both older ladies.

*   *   *

 

It was great fun having Belle home for spring break (two weeks ago), and also getting to meet The Boyfriend. ® [5]  Belle, who will graduate in May  [6] with a B.S. in Biology, is pursuing a variety of jobs and internships that have to do with animal care, conservation and education; i.e.,  zoos and animal rescue/sanctuary organizations

Near the end of Belle’s visit I ventured to make a potentially touchy observation about her après-graduation plans. Which is just the kind of comment every child anticipates and appreciates…

 

 

said2

 

 

 

The internships she’s applied for – a couple of which have already been offered to her – are with Big Cat and/or other “exotic” animal parks. These organizations describe themselves as providing “a sanctuary to wild cats in need.” Translation: there are, unfortunately, a great many delusional/ narcissistic people who think that it would be fun to own an exotic animal, and/or  that owning an exotic wild animal would make them stand out and be special – that the wildness of the animal will somehow give them cred. A few weeks or months after acquiring an exotic pet (whether via legal or questionable means), Joe Lookatmei’mcoolIownatiger realizes that the cub which was so adorable at 8 weeks old is growing into AN ACTUAL FRIGGIN’ TIGER – never mind that the breeder assured them it was from eight generations of “domesticated” tigers [7] and was really just a big, big pussy cat. [8]  At that point, Joe either voluntarily abandons/surrenders the animal or is forced to do so by his neighbors or an animal welfare organization.

Enter Wild Cat Sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, et al, who offer a place for these discarded “pets” –  along with animals rescued or retired from circuses or other anachronistic “entertainment” shows –  to live out the remainder of their lives in as natural a setting as possible.  These organizations also work to, essentially, put themselves out of business. That is, they lobby for legislation which would end the captive wildlife crisis by outlawing the buying, selling, breeding and exhibiting of such animals. (Truly a noble cause – one which has been close to Belle’s heart for many years now, even preceding her years of volunteering at the Oregon Zoo.)

 

 

tiger

No, I do not belong in your backyard…but hey, dude, thanks for the golden retriever snack.

 

 

 

These organizations are almost always privately funded. Read: they are financed hand to mouth (claw to maw?) and are always scrapped for funds. Usually only the executive directors (if anyone) are paid; thus, they depend heavily on volunteers. Their internships typically run for three to six months; interns are compensated with board and a meal stipend, but no salary. So, interns get experience (and at certain sanctuaries it may indeed be the experience of a lifetime) in a field with arguably no future.  Unless you are able to turn the experience into qualifications to work as a zoo keeper,  [9] such internships provide experience for “jobs’ for which there are no paid positions.

Yet again, I digress. About that potentially touchy observation about her après-graduation employment plans.

I asked Belle if she knew the percentage of female applicants/volunteers in the internship programs to which she has applied.  She said she didn’t.  I said it wouldn’t surprise me if the stats showed 80% (or more) female. When Belle asked me why, I asked The Boyfriend ® to confirm or deny the observation I was about to make: what I considered to be an accurate if frustrating reflection on cultural conditioning/gender influences; specifically, re how both girls and boys grow up seeing – still, in 2018 – (mostly) women do much of the work upon which our society and the corporate world depends (e.g. managing home and the rearing of children), and for which you’d have to pay a lot of $$ to hire someone outside the family to do, but this work is unpaid and undervalued, thus leading to the lowered expectations of girls’ and women’s market worth….

But, I didn’t phrase it that way. I summed it up thusly (and noticed that The Boyfriend ® ruefully smiled at Belle before he nodded at me in agreement):

Men and boys learn early on not to work for free.

*   *   *

 

 

May you recognize an employer’s disincentive
to pay you if you’re willing to work for free;
May you slap into next Saturday the face of anyone who attempts to analogize the previous professional caveat into the personal realm;   [10]
May you never be forced to eat Kraft Singles, ® for any reason;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] It sounds so strange to me, to write that I have a “stylist,” but I don’t know what else to call her and that’s what she calls herself.

[2] A phenomenon which my previous, before-and-after pregnancy haircutter had noticed and commented on.

[3] Both of my offspring had somewhat ignominious (and blessedly brief) tenures on kiddie soccer teams. It wasn’t their thing, and so MH and I never had the opportunity to be Soccer parents.

[4] No footnote here. Move along, now.

[5] He took time off from work to accompany her.

[6] Or so she assures us.

[7] Ain’t no such thing. You can’t breed the wild out of wildlife.

[8] Imagine the behaviors innate to a housecat – scratching the furniture, jumping on the countertops, sometimes getting overexcited when playing rough with its owner and putting its claws out – magnified by an animal ten times the size and strength of your tabby.

[9] A very competitive field, with few openings.

[10] Yep, I’m talkin’ the odious cow/free milk equivalency that was spewed by Previous Generations. ®  Which I actually heard from one of my aunts, many decades ago, when I was a recent college graduate home for a visit with my parents. My aunt (also visiting my parents) was chatting with my mother and moiself about the lives of my aunt’s four adult children. She said she highly doubted that her youngest son would marry his girlfriend because they were already…well…sleeping together, and – she shot a knowing glance to my mother and a warning glance to moiself – why buy the cow….you know the rest.  A delicious coda to the story: that son of hers did go on to marry that girlfriend, and from all appearances they have had and continue to have a happy marriage (and he is the only one of that aunt’s children who has not been divorced).

The Slough I’m Not Kayaking

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Department Of Not To Be Disrespectful Toward
Our Brave Men And Women In Uniform ®

… but every time I walk past The Tacoma Fallen Firefighters Memorial I imagine that the second guy in the sculpture – the one tapping the first guy (pointing the hose) on the shoulder, is calmly but insistently saying, “Dude, put down the hose – nothing’s on fire.”

 

 

tacomafirefighters

*   *   *

 

I had yet another opportunity to pass by the above pictured sculpture during MH’s and my last minute/last weekend trip to Tacoma. Because when your 20 year old daughter hints and hints and hints again that she’d like to see you, you drop everything and go.

In late August Belle will start her junior year at the University of Puget Sound. She’s staying in Tacoma for the summer, working fulltime as a Zoo Camp Counselor at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  We’ve enjoyed hearing her talk about the camps, and comparing them with her stories from last summer, when she was a camp counselor for the Oregon Zoo. [1]

When we drove up last Saturday, Belle said she wanted to show us around the zoo. We’ve been to the PDZ & A several times over the past few years when visiting our offspring.  [2]  This time we got a brief “backstage” tour, courtesy of Belle, which consisted of being able to step inside one staff-only area:  the marine wildlife food preparation facility, which included a huge, walk-in freezer filled floor-to-ceiling with cases of various fish and shellfish (read: more frozen herring [3] than you can shake a walrus’s tusk at).

As a five year Oregon Zoo volunteer, a biology major, and a volunteer docent at her school’s Natural History Museum, Belle has amassed a good deal of information about fauna and flora. Still, as our daughter led us from exhibit to exhibit, MH and I were impressed by how much she knew about the animals in every habitat . [4]  I guess that’s what happens when you’re leading two camps per day, five days a week – you have to know your stuff.

And then there are the moments you just have to strut your stuff, as when Belle eagerly donned my Convertible Survival Kit ®  [5] when MH and I took her for a spin around town.

 

 

sadieconvertible7-16tacoma

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Screw The Slough

Because his company is weird that way, MH had July 5 off as a vacation day.  [6]  What shall we do, he asked? I suggested we take our kayaks out for the first paddle of the season. I wanted to try out one of the entry points along the Columbia River Slough, and so, with our Paddler’s Access Guide in hand we loaded up the car, drove to what looked to be the optimum entry point…and then on to the next, and the next, and the next….

The first entry point was strewn with trash and had other signs of being used as a homeless camping/partying area. It was devoid of bipedal presence save for one Sketchy Looking Man ® sitting on a bench by the camp/party area. We parked our vehicle and walked down to the slough’s boat dock, SLM watching us every step of the way.

The slough was…well, we knew it was a slough, but it was really in full slough mode (low water depth and tepid-to-nonexistent flow). Probably good for winter and spring paddling, but already too late in the season, at this particular entry point (~ 17 miles upstream), for a decent paddle. That, plus the area’s vibe, which was if you-leave-your-car-you-will-return-to-find-it-broken-into, led us into checking out other slough access points downstream.

 

 

columbiaslough_general

 

By the time we’d reached access point four or five MH said, “I suppose we can look at this as a scouting excursion for future trips.” As time went on it became imperative, first for MH and then also moiself, for us to find something resembling a bathroom.  Ninety minutes after we’d arrived at the first access point and were still not in the water, I said “Screw the slough.” I knew there were pit stop facilities at Smith and Bybee Lakes Wetlands, so we ditched the last slough entry point [7] and headed there.

I’d been kayaking at Smith & Bybee several times, including once with MH. I’d give it a solid 3 on the 1 – 10 whoopee scale; I wanted to try somewhere new, but our plans hadn’t worked out and it was getting late, so what the heck. After The Pause That Refreshes © we checked out the canoe launch ramp.  Ay yi yi. I’d never seen the water level so low. How dare they call it Smith and Bybee Lakes?

 

 

yeahright

 

 

We hiked around the S & B Lake wetlands for an hour before returning to our car and heading off to find lunch. At least the birds seemed happy with the conditions in the boggy-wetlands-which-no-self-respecting-limnologist-would-call-a-lake – we saw an astounding number of Great Egrets wading about in the muck.

It turned out to be a good, low key day, capped off by a delightful evening at downtown Hillsboro’s Tuesday Marketplace. MH and I got dinner and a bottle of wine from the various food venders, found a spot on the courthouse lawn which was close enough to see the music stage but far enough away to be safe from the blaring amps and pissing pugs, [8] and staked our claim with folding chairs.

 

I really wish I could say I was joking about this.

I really wish I was joking about this.

 

 

It was a perfect evening for being outside – that temperature where you don’t know where your skin ends and the air begins. We enjoyed listening to the classic and original rock provided by Hippie Love Slave, a band that, besides having an awesome name, has a guitarist/singer whose vocal stylings reminded me of Grace Slick. I encountered said vocalist between sets, and shared my opinion with her. She took it as the compliment I intended, and then I complemented us both on being old and wise enough to understand.

 

 

 

 

Whaddya mean, old enough to understand?

Whaddya mean, old enough to understand?

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Be Happy To Explain It To You

In the wake/midst of the Thunderswampfuckton of Crap ® that our country is experiencing (and will, no doubt ,keep on slogging through), in particular the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge followed by the allegedly retaliatory shootings in Dallas, I’ve been hearing and reading about (what I take to be) a misunderstanding of the activist movement known as Black Lives Matter.

 

 

SOAPBOX

 

 

The very phrase or concept itself seems to be, IMHO, misconstrued. So, attention, critics – be you well-intended or closeted/overt racists – I’m about to clear it up for y’all.

It’s like this: You don’t walk into an Nike footwear store and criticize them for not carrying dress shoes.

But what about the Florsheims!

 

 

Wingtips Matter

Wingtips Matter

 

 

I’ll try again.

My city has a veterinary clinic named All About Cats . The clinic’s founding veterinarian had a multiple animal practice (dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, birds) for over two decades; now he has one specializing in felines. One of the reasons he got the idea of establishing a felines-only clinic was his observation, during his years of practice, that cats were more stressed in a vet clinic by the smell and presence of dogs than vice-versa.

When I first saw the clinic’s sign I did not feel obligated to point out to the clinic’s staff, “I appreciate your intentions, but, All About Cats – life is not all about cats!” But I do know someone who, when they were informed that there was a new veterinary clinic in town that sees only cats, had that kind of reaction:

Oh, yeah, well, what about dogs?
What about budgies, and hamsters – other pets need veterinary care, too!”

All About Cats does not equal And other animals don’t need/aren’t worthy of veterinary care. Establishing a feline-only clinic does not mean you dismiss or dislike other animals. It merely denotes a special area of concern or concentration, for which there is a reason.

Black Lives Matter is a special interest civil rights/activist group. It exists because…well, because there are, unfortunately, fucking good and sad/pathetic reasons for it to exist. Including the fact that when my son K told me, many months ago, about being pulled over by a cop because K’s car had a non-functioning tail light, I had the privilege to not think that K might have been in danger.

I’d had The Talk with both of my offspring about how to behave if, while driving, they were ever pulled over by a cop. Still, it never occurred to me to ask K if he’d been overly respectful to the police officer no matter how the officer had treated him; it did not occur to me to ask/remind K if he’d remembered to move very slowly, always keeping his hands in sight, when the officer asked him to product his license and registration….

 

 

 

privelegejpg

 

 

*   *   *

May you have the privilege of assuming your children will be safe;
May you be able to enjoy the moments that arise and screw the slough when called for;
May you stop and smell the roses (or the frozen herring – whatever is handy);
..and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What the stories have in common: she remains mystified by the immaturity and moodiness of the younger kids (in particular, five year old boys), who “…don’t listen to what you say and have a meltdown when they spill a cup of water.”

[2] K, Belle’s brother, also attended UPS.

[3] And herring doesn’t smell any better the colder it is.

[4] Including their names. I mean, two gorgeous tigers lying side by side (“The one on the right is Kirani and the other is her sister, Dari”), they looked identical, to me.

[5] Which I keep in our new car, for those top down moments. The kit consists of a choice of three Glamorous Sunglasses ® , a scarf, and a tube of bright red lipstick to complete the ensemble.

[6] Other holidays which most people get as vacation days, Like MLK day or Memorial Day, he won’t.

[7] Kelly Point Park, which might be a good entry point for future kayaking on the slough but which also had signs of sketchy-ickiness and people-camping-who-shouldn’t-be (including two recently burned-out cars –  as in completely torched, parked side by side, — in the parking lot. Yet another omen).

[8] Yo, dog owners: when you bring your dogs to the various Farmer’s Markets – and you seem to think there is a city ordinance which requires you to do so – please mind where they “go.”

The Parents I’m Not Blaming

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Or, am I?

*   *   *

Department Of Not Ignoring The 800 Lb Gorilla In The Room

That would be the 450 lb gorilla named Harambe, an endangered silverback who is no longer in the room (at the Cincinnati Zoo). As you’ve probably heard by now, Harambe was shot and killed last week by zookeepers to protect a three-four year old [1] boy who had somehow climbed under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall to get into the gorilla’s enclosure.

Visitors. Guests. The Public  whatever you call them (that is, us), zoological parks, National and State Parks and wilderness preserves and  animal conservancies couldn’t exist without them.  And, as any park employee [2] can tell you, the most dangerous animals to be found at such preserves are the humans.

 

 

zoo1

 

 

MH and I have been members of the Oregon Zoo for a long time. Both our son K and daughter Belle were active in the ZooTeens program and other zoo internships, service and educational programs for 5+ years. Through our membership level, our own years of attending the zoo, and our kids’ involvement with some amazing mentors, we’ve been privy to behind-the-scenes info and stories from zoo staff and volunteers…which is leading up to this: you wouldn’t believe the crazy, stupid, irresponsible (and sometimes just plain malicious) shit some people will pull.

Take this story, of the Very Tall Dad who, holding his infant daughter in his arms, pushed through shrubbery to get as close as he could to the railing guarding the concrete moat surrounding the tiger enclosure. While his wife aimed her camera at him, VTD stretched his very long arms out as far as he could to make it appear as if he were dangling his baby above the tiger enclosure.

I heard about this from zoo employee ZE, a much-loved mentor to many ZooTeens. The afternoon this debacle-in-the-making unfolded, ZE happened to be walking by the tiger enclosure on her way another area of the zoo. She quickly approached the parents and pointed out that they were endangering both the tigers and their child. The parents were shocked out of their astonishing act of idiocy by the reality check from ZE, and thanked her accordingly:

Oh my goodness, you are so right, and we are so sorry! We were thoughtless and acted rashly, and set a bad example for other parents and children, and put you in an awkward situation. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Of course they didn’t. Snap out of it!

The actual reaction: the father glared at ZE and snarled, Fuck you as he and his equally white trash negligent immature partner wife scurried away.

Over my two decades plus of zoo-going, I’ve received similar responses from The General Public ®  when I’ve kindly yet firmly pointed out to people that their children were climbing over/under barriers (not into animal enclosures, but barriers meant to keep people on the trail and not trample plant habitats) or tossing their litter into animal habitats or pounding their hands against terrarium walls or shrieking in front of enclosures (in defiance of signs clearly pointing out that the animal inhabitants were sensitive to loud noises) or otherwise yelling/roaring at/taunting the animals [3]….

 

 

zoo2

 

So. We have the template, of both intentional and unintentional negligence and even willful harm, that is part of what happens when you have people at zoos.  [4] And then, there are the accidents. A kid got away from his mom, somehow got into an animal enclosure, and a beloved, valuable member of a highly endangered species is dead.

Social media is doing what social media does: casting blame, seemingly without pausing for a moment’s reflection, and abetting what has become our new national pastime. Why pay $ for tickets to a baseball game when you can, for free and in the comfort of your own living room, shame/vilify/judge the parenting skills of other people? The parents should be brought up on child endangerment charges/shot and skinned and their hides sold and the money donated to endangered gorilla/wildlife  reserves….

 

 

Yet another thoughtful rumination.

Yet another thoughtful rumination.

 

 

My Unofficial Survey On The Matter ®  indicates that most people commenting online on the matter are blaming the parents (read: mother), while a smaller percentage fault the zoo for not having a foolproof enclosure: …it could be argued that she (the boy’s mother) surely trusted the zoo to have an enclosure that was childproof.”

And I surely trusted that most people who have the slightest familiarity with children doubled over with thigh-slapping laughter after reading that statement.

 

 

 

CAMEL

 

 

 

An enclosure that was childproof.  I made no such assumption when I took my kids to the zoo, or anywhere, for that matter – even to another family’s home. [5] There is not an enclosure in the world that is childproof, or (adult) human willful stupidity-proof.

It seems there is the opportunity every day, skimming through the news, for us read about the consequences of the human propensity for doing stupid things/not paying attention/thinking “it won’t happen to me.”  Yet, like most blowholes concerned citizens ruminating over this tragic affair, I wasn’t there. Thus, I can only imagine how the tragedy unfolded…and, of course, cast hindsight judgments about what zoo officials should or shouldn’t have done, and what the gorilla would or wouldn’t do, after viewing the one video that has surfaced.

What with our Selfie Society, wherein everyone is seemingly documenting every minute of their noteworthy lives, there’s got to be another shaky cellphone  recording of the incident (or a zoo security videocam) that might shed more light on the situation. Until that or other accounts surface, we’ve only a few bystander reports, including the story of A woman who witnessed the boy’s fall said she heard the youngster say he wanted to get in the water with the gorillas. She said the boy’s mother was with several other young children and told him no.

There will continue to be a crap-ton of second, third, and twentieth guessings: the mother will be blamed (perhaps, rightfully) for not noticing the boy signaling his intent to get into the enclosure and/or for her negligent parenting skills (who is responsible for the fact that her son obviously didn’t take her “no” seriously?!?!!?), while others will point out the naiveté and willfulness of a three year old.  And, seriously folks, what parents reasonably suspect that toddlers will follow through on every desire they express? “Mommy, I wanna play with the gorilla” does not immediately translate into the almost unthinkable, Uh oh, this means my kid is going to run away from me and find a way to get into that gorilla enclosure.

The parents of the boy aren’t talking (as of this writing), except for releasing a statement through a public relations firm – a statement that froze my butt, almost as much as the whole incident itself:

“We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff…”

 

Typical.

 

 

epicurious

 

 

The parents thanked their imaginary friend – for what? For apparently picking his holy nose while their child scrambled away from his mother and somehow got up/over/under barriers and fell into the gorilla enclosure? They thanked their “lord” for their boy’s safety, a “lord” who did nothing while the gorilla alternately (arguably) protected the boy and dragged him around the enclosure [6]?  What, pray tell,  [7] exactly, did that lord do to deserve thanks? Did their deity magically/invisibly aim the gun that the heartbroken keepers used to kill the gorilla – a beloved creature mourned by his caretakers as “a gentle giant” and “like a member of the family” –  in order to protect the errant toddler from his own folly and/or parental negligence?

Once again, I digress.

Look. The parenting thing: I’ve been “there,” and it is truly amazing, even frightening, how quickly a child can apparently vanish when you do the proverbial turn your head just for a moment to check on something.

But – you knew there was going to be a but, didn’t you? – I’ve also been to and witnessed the other “there.” I’ve seen the there where parents turn their heads for way more than for a moment –the there where parents carelessly and sometimes seemingly deliberately focus their attention elsewhere, and/or expect others to pick up their slack.

;

As animal expert Jeff Corwin put it, “the zoo is not your babysitter.” And, I would add, also not your babysitter is the candy aisle of the grocery store, the video and electronics section of Costco, the furniture section of the department store…nor any of the other public places and/or employees I’ve seen parents use as virtual/free childcare. Including the doctor’s office. [8]  [9]

 

*   *   *

May we all be accountable for our actions;
May we also be understanding of lapses in judgment and other human frailties;
May we work to ensure that empathetic humans are not an endangered species;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I have read conflicting reports as to the boy’sage.

[2] If you know them well enough and can get them alone/willing to speak off the record.

[3] This seems to be, in my experience, largely the territory of late adolescent/early adult young males who, when they get near the larger felines, bears and or other predator species, are trying to prove…what are they trying to prove?

[4] Or at the DMV, for that matter.

[5] I was One Of Those Parents © who asked other parents, when my kids were going to their house for the first time, if they had firearms in the house (and if so, how/where are they stored) and if there were cigarette smokers in the house (smokers tend to leave matches and lighters around, and every small child is an inherent firebug).

[6] Depending on which animal behavior expert’s interpretation you read.

[7] On second thought, ignore the expression. Don’t pray, just tell.

[8] “Oh, I can bring him in the room with me and you can just watch him for a bit, can’t you?” Sure, lady, it’ll be no problem for me to use my other four hands to restrain your child while I’m prepping the pap smear slide for the doctor who is PERFORMING YOUR PELVIC EXAM.

[9] Yes, that scenario has happened to me, and more than once, during my former reincarnation as a women’s reproductive health care assistant.

The Money I’m Not Making

1 Comment

 

And The Fun Continues: #562 in the Series of
Why I Think Anyone Who Can Be Discouraged From Writing Should Be

I just loooooooooooove getting what I refer to as No shit? communiqués from my various professional membership associations. The most recent (my emphases):

Dear Authors Guild Member,
Earlier this year, we conducted our first member survey since 2009….
Overall, the survey results (
click here) showed that author incomes are down, hybrid authorship is up, and authors are spending more time marketing than ever before. In short, the business of authorship is both more varied and less profitable than just six years ago.

*   *   *

Department of So, Where Are You From?

Author Taiye Selasi explores themes of multiple perspectives, cultures and identities in her writings.  Daughter of Ghanaian and Saudi Arabian parents, Selasi was born in London, raised in Boston, lives in Rome and Berlin, and has herself been described as a “study in the modern meaning of identity.”  I recently listened to a podcast of her TED talk she gave in October 2014, and was intrigued by her proposition that we change that most fundamental of identity questions.  

“The difference between ‘where are you from’ and ‘where are you a local’ isn’t the specificity of the answer, it’s the intention of the question. Replacing the language of nationality with the language of locality asks us to our shift focus to where real life occurs.”
 Taiye Selasi, Don’t Ask me Where I’m From, Ask Me Where I’m a Local

 

globalid

 

Some people think where you are from must encompass your home’s location during some emotionally crucial/formative years, a location which always defines you. Thus, my mother will always be “from” Cass Lake, MN, even though she’s lived the past 59 years in SoCal.

I derive much petty amusement from watching MH handle the where-are-you-from question. Even after all these years, MH often seems genuinely confused as to how he should answer. He usually offers a brief accounting of his life’s geographical litany: ages 1-10 in Minnesota; family relocation to central Florida ages 10-18; college years in S. California, post-college/young adulthood/newly married years in N. California; the past 24 years in Oregon….

When asked the same question, I say that I am from Oregon. Although I was a native-born Californian, [1] Oregon is where I live. It is the first place where I, as an adult, chose to be.

Although when the question is phrased, “Where did you grow up?” my honest answer is (or should be), I’m still working on that.

So. Where are you from? And where are you a local?

 

oregon

*   *   *

Sunday Texts: The Offspring Chronicles

Daughter Belle, she of the previously mentioned Frankenfinger, attends the University of Puget Sound, a college that requires freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. Belle lived in a dorm her first year, and this year she and five other sophomores reside in an on-campus house. Her room and board includes a campus meal plan, and while she gets most of her meals at the school’s cafeteria and other eateries, she also enjoys the benefits of house living, as per the following picture and text she sent me last Sunday.

 

belellunch

 

Belle: Grilled Brie sandwich and grilled chicken. I love having a kitchen.
Honestly like the best lunch I’ve ever had.
Moiself:  yum yum
Belle: Mom, remember when in France you ate that chocolate and then started swearing for like 5 minutes? That’s this sandwich.

*   *   *

Sunday Texts: The Journey Continues

No pictures accompany the following text exchange, but perhaps that is for the best.

Son K graduated college in May and is living at home while he researches grad school and seeks a job in his field. [2] He works in food service at the Oregon Zoo and hosts epic D & D and/or Settlers of Catan games on Sunday afternoons, when our dining room is taken over by NerdCon Hillsboro is host to a group of delightful young men and women.

Once again, I digress.  Back to last Sunday’s text exchange(s), this time with K, who was manning one of the Zoo’s food kiosks.

 

K: So this Russian guy, as I was getting his order, was asking how I liked my job, and then once (his order) was done he asked me for a pen and paper and wrote down his name and number, and said to call him and that in 2 years I’d be free.
What the fuck.
Moiself: WTF, indeed.
K: For half a sec I was like, is this a KGB recruiter?
Moiself: Aren’t you glad you got called in to work today? Otherwise, you could’ve missed your chance at freedom.
K: It’s busy, though. Espresso drinks out the butt.
Moiself:  Is that how people are ordering their drinks today?

K wonders if there could be an amusing story behind the offer, and is considering calling the Russian dude (“Petrov,” who indeed left his name and number [3] ).  But, from a pay phone, or some other anonymous device.

 

American play cards right, have big future in Siberian coffeehouse.

American play cards right, have big future in Siberian coffeehouse.

 

*   *   *

Department of Reasons To Do Something

Beginning Last Friday, the day after the horrific shooting at a community college in Oregon, there were the usual, sad, frighteningly familiar [4] calls for “something to be done” in various media venues. I saw numerous postings of the following on Facebook:

I do not want to hear one more politician say that their “thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
For the love of God, do something!

Now then.

Ahem.

I know people use all kinds of expressions that have become a part of our cultural lexicon, expressions which are not meant to be taken literally. When someone smiles at me and says, How ya doing? I understand their question is in fact a form of greeting, and that they do not intend me to reply with a recitation of exactly how I am doing. When my public sneezes elicit Bless you! from bystanders I understand that to be kneejerk cultural nicety response, not a literal sanctification meant to protect me from evil spirits my body may have expelled by the sneeze. [5] 

But, For the love of god, do something!  Well, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

 

And so is this.

And so is this.

 

Attention, god lovers: [6] It seems that those who claim to love a god do consider praying to be doing something…when the reality previously addressed in this blog is that although it may provide you with the comforting illusion of having done something, prayer does Absolutely. Nothing. Of. Substance.

Do something, by all means. But not for the love of your imaginary friend – a deity whom you petition, thus implying you think said deity is capable of action, despite the fact that said god did nothing  as magazines were being loaded into guns’ chambers and as bullets were being pumped into flesh…. This god whom you think exists did nothing to prevent or ameliorate the situation about which you pray, a situation for which you now beseech others to do something for the love of this same, bystanding, worthless, impotent god, which (by definition, for an omniscient, omnipotent being) created the situation in the first place.

Do something for the love and welfare of your fellow human beings. Do something because it is the right thing to do, because you yourself are human.

*   *   *

Department of Things That Wake Me Up at 3 am To Scribble on the Notepad I Keep in the Bathroom
and Then I Have To Decipher the Scribbles in the Morning, What the Heck Am I Thinking?

This is what I was able to decipher on Wednesday morning (disjointed flow/grammar as is):

After reading singer Jewell’s memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, I was once again reminded that I do not have the combination of personal/emotional turmoil and look-at-me-express-my-innermost-feelings! desire do what, it seems, one must do to make a living in this field. [7] That is, considering what one must do as a “artist,” especially or particularly in the Sensitive/Confessional Poet/Writer/Composer ® vein, wherein one’s guts are put on display; wherein one must have the stones or audacity to think that people will or should be interested enough to pay $ to read or listen to such gut-chronicling….

The memoir (well, part memoir/part self-help book is what it reads like) reveals an odd combination of the author/singer/songwriter’s curiosity, sensitivity, self-reflection…and near debilitating gullibility. Her self-examination helped her survive what could be the dictionary definition of a turbulent childhood (and quasi cult-member young adulthood).

I get the urge to write down one’s thoughts and feelings, to catalog and record such as a process of analysis, of finding meaning – to make sense of one’s life, to one’s self.  But to share those most personal thoughts and feelings with the world (including, yep, people like moiself, reading her book)? That, I do not get. I am, simply and dispositional-ly, not ____ (naïve? arrogant? generous? self-aggrandizing? narcissistic?) enough to even entertain the desire to do so, never mind believing that anyone outside a small circle of family and friends would or should find it of significance.

Also, it helps to be young and pretty.

 

*   *   *

May you do the right things for the love of the right reasons,
May you be surprised by fine lunches and random Russian encounters,
May you remember where you are from and appreciate where you are a local,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Not all that common, in that day. CA, like much of the West, was a place of migration – everyone’s families were from somewhere else.

[2] If you know anyone who’s hiring someone with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, do give a shout-out in this direction.

[3] Not his real name (which was something equally Russian-identifiable). I never know what kind of agents may be reading this blog.

[4] I find it disturbing, that we (in this country) are becoming so accustomed to the ritual: mass shooting, call for action re guns and/or mental health services, Obladi Obladah life goes on until the next “incident.”

[5]  One of several ancient meanings behind the sneeze-blessing practice…nor do I assume the utterer is a Christian obeying Pope Gregory I’s edit for litanies and supplications for their god’s blessing as protection from the Black Death (sneezing was seen as the initial onset of the plague).

[6] Yeah, listen up. Like my blog is the first reading material god-people reach for in the morning, after Guideposts.

[7] Like I needed to read a book to know that – balancing my business checking account is a monthly reminder.

The Elder I’m Not Abusing

Comments Off on The Elder I’m Not Abusing

Before the Deluge

Ere I begin my Rant of the Week ® I simply must share my favorite texts [1] of the week. This was yesterday’s exchange between moiself and daughter Belle, whom, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, is working as a summer ZooCamp counselor. This week’s campers have included many second-graders whose physical and emotionally maturity (read: lack thereof) proved challenging for their college-age camp leaders.

Belle: It finally happened – Colin finally peed his pants.

Moiself: Sorry, but ☺

Belle: Also, Ethan punched another kid in the balls.

Moiself: Hope Colin brought a change of clothing…
and the other kid a change of balls.

Belle: Ha! We had to give Colin spare shorts. After he changed he put his shoes on the wrong feet. But we didn’t notice until lunch so he was wearing them like that for 3 hours.

Moiself: This is way too much fun for me to read.

Belle: It sprinkled rain. Heather pulled a swimsuit out of her backpack and insisted she had to wear it. Because of rain.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

*   *   *

I’m not one much for literary boycott or censorship, other than the self-imposed kind. That said, this is my appeal to y’all, for which I am using my Asa credentials:

As a writer, and mostly as a human being, I urge you to please not purchase nor read Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s supposed prequel to her classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The background of Lee’s “new” novel is suspicious, to say the least. If you’re unfamiliar with the details (which you can find here and here and here and in many other heres), the controversy centers around Lee’s capacity to consent to the release of a book she steadfastly refused to release – or even admit existed – for  over 50 years. And now, here come a motley crew of distant family members, new attorneys and publishing scions who will profit from the out-of-nowhere, out-of-character reversal of Lee’s lifelong, principled stand.

 

mockingbird

 

Harper Lee never married and had no children or grandchildren. Her older sister, Alice Lee, Harper’s lifelong companion and confidante, was an attorney who served as her sister’s lawyer and advocate. Alice Lee would likely have profited handsomely if any of her sister’s post-Mockingbird writings were published. Instead, she loyally abided by Harper’s wishes, and protected both Harper’s estate and Harper herself from the attention Harper so ferociously avoided.

Since the 1960 publication of TKAM the publicity-shy Harper Lee notoriously – and more importantly, consistently – refused to submit any of her other writings (or even admit that she had any) for publication. She said what she had to say on the subject, was her patient if terse response the few times she bothered to answer critics or fans who wanted “more.” If that wasn’t plain enough, she vowed that, “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.”

In 2007 Harper Lee suffered a stroke. Now aged 89, Lee has been living in an assisted living facility for many years and must use a wheelchair for mobility. Her health problems include almost total vision and hearing loss, paralysis on her left side, confusion and memory problems. [2] In 2011 Alice Lee wrote that her sister “can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.”  Then in 2014, a mere two months after Alice Lee’s death, publishing house HarperCollins, along with the attorney [3] who replaced Alice Lee, astonished the literary world by announcing the release of Harper Lee’s “rediscovered” first novel.

The manuscript was “found,” Lee’s new lawyer [4] claimed, by rummaging through Lee’s attic and other personal items “in a secure place where Ms. Lee keeps her archives.”

Go Set a Watchman; right. Make sure he watches overhead, for vultures circling.

IMHO, the “finding” and publishing of GSAW is elder abuse. I won’t abet it in any way.

*   *   *

“….salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning that occurs after ingesting contaminated food and/or improper handling of contaminants including feces from pets, and reptiles, poultry or rodents. Symptoms of diarrhea to fever to abdominal cramps to….”

Department of Why Do We Need These Warnings From the Government?

Specifically, why do we need to be warned not to Kiss Chickens?

Oh, that’s right – because chickens are cute. And people are stupid.

 

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

*   *   *

On a related note, the following is either:

  1. the title of the book I’m reading
  2. my life’s motto
  3. my suggested slogan for the upcoming Republican Presidential candidate’s debates:

Let’s Be Less Stupid

Okay, it’s all three.

stupid

 

*   *   *

Department of Duh

That’s one big ass hosta.

 

hosta

*   *   *

Department of Cruciferous Haiku [5]

The cabbage sits tall
and proud on my counter. Or,
should I say, stands?

Do the words apply?
 I’m anthropomorphizing
a vegetable.

Cabbage cannot sit,
nor stand. Still, I think this one
would strut, if it could.

It bears dignity;
a certain nobility
 belies its odd shape.

Thus, I’ll treat it with
respect, despite its likeness
to a school dunce cap.

cabbage

*   *   *

Op-Ed Opening Line of the week (or year)

In return for helping to raise money for veterans who lost limbs in a war that he started, former President George W. Bush took $100,000 from their charity for giving a speech in 2012, and another $20,000 to be flown in on a private jet.
(from the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial, July 10)

bushleg

*   *   *

I Skimmed The New York Times Thursday Styles Section So You Didn’t Have To

It’s a section I usually toss aside.  But something about yesterday morning – perhaps the early morning dream I had in which Brad Pitt was trying to gaslight me – made me throw usually to the wind.

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the diversion (although I’m still a bit unnerved by the dream), because I might have missed this Important Fashion News. [6]

For some reason, I’m really hoping this catches on:

 

pithair

 

And not this:

 

yellow

*   *   *

Department of How Cool is This?

Pluto

 

The first close-up image of Pluto has revealed mountains as tall as the Rockies, and a complete absence of craters – discoveries that, to their delight, baffled scientists working on NASA’s New Horizons mission image and provided punctuation for a journey nine and a half years in the making.
Pluto’s Portrait: Ice Mountains, No Craters, and for Scientists, a ‘Toy Store’
New York Times, Thursday July 16, 2015 )

Wouldn’t you love a job where you made discoveries that baffled and delighted you? For most of us, our reaction to work-related baffling discoveries is along the lines of, Holy Honeybadger crap, it isn’t supposed to do that!

*   *   *

Department of Please Oh Please Let It Happen

“…something similar (to the Cambrian Explosion) is happening in human culture. Institutions—not just religions but also universities, armies, corporations—are now faced with how to change their fundamental structure and methods to deal with the fact that everybody’s living in a glass house now.

“Protecting your inner workings is becoming very difficult; it’s very hard to keep secrets. Religions have thrived in part because they were able to keep secrets. They were able to keep secrets about other religions from their parishioners, who were largely ignorant of what other people in the world believed, and also keep secrets about their own inner workings and their own histories, so that it was easy to have a sort of controlled message that went out to people. Those days are over. You can go on the Internet and access to all kinds of information. This is going to change everything.”

(Author, scientist, philosopher, The Clergy Project co-founder Daniel C. Dennett, from the interview, “Churches Can No Longer Hide the Truth: Daniel Dennett on the New Transparency,” Religion Dispatches May 18, 2015)

make it so

*   *   *

May your motives and methods be transparent,
May baffling discoveries delight you and your chickens never bite (or kiss) you,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi

 

 

 

[1] Names of campers changed to protect the not-so-innocents.

[2] Lee’s mental and physical decline has been revealed via family and friends in court via legal wrangling over control of her writings.

[3] I don’t want her name in my blog, stinkin’ fucking carrion-eater that I think she is.

[4] Okay, the stinkin,’  fucking, carrion-eater is Tonja Carter.

[5] Supported by a generous combined grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Food and Drug Administration, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

[6] Excuse the oxymoron. And by oxymoron I do not mean the dude in yellow.

The American I’m Not Proud To Be

2 Comments

 

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”
Albert Einstein, scientist (1879-1955)

There was this thing, between the last blog and today’s – this national holiday. It was a big one – arguably the most important, as far as national holidays go.

 

love it or leave it

love it or leave it

 

And now we’re in that post July 4 and pre- [1] official political campaign season, wherein possibly or marginally sane and erstwhile sensibly dressed men and women

 

on second thought...

on second thought…

 

have to start wearing flag lapel pins and touting their I love ‘Murica credentials.

The endless posturing begins, re who is more proud of their country and who has the best ways to love it, along with all that American exceptionalism jabberslop [2]

 

heybabypng

 

…which inevitably lead to accusations that certain sentiments or political positions are evidence of a lack of robust pride in being a USA citizen. I might as well warn the rabid Red Staters up front: do not ask moiself if I’m “proud to be an American,” [3] because you probably won’t like my answer.

No, thank you. I am not proud to be an American.

At least, not as I understand the concept.

The various dictionary definitions of proud are linked to achievement and action, as indicated by the usage examples given for the word:

They are the proud parents of a hero.
I was proud that I never gave in.
She’s the proud owner of a new car.
Her proudest accomplishment was to finish school.

I am not proud to have brown eyes, to be of Irish-Norwegian-Welsh-French-Cherokee heritage, nor to be a woman. These and other, more or less noteworthy attributes are mine, but neither by choice nor achievement. Moiself, I only take pride in intention, behavior and accomplishment, not in something resulting from the roll of the DNA dice nor, in the case of my being an American, the luck of geography when it came to my place of birth. [4]

I feel fortunate to be a citizen of the USA, but not proud. [5] Perhaps if I had been born in another country and had sacrificed and struggled and waded through red tape and green card bureaucracy to become a naturalized US citizen, that’d be something of which I was proud. I am an American because I was born on US soil to US citizens and, according to the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment , that’s all it took. My own worthiness, desire, skills and/or initiative had nothing to do with it.

 

different

 

However, a recent Freedom From Religion Foundation blog post gave me something else to consider on this issue. In Proud to Be An American, the July 3 FRFF blog, Staff Attorney and Constitutional Consultant Andrew Seidel writes that he takes pride in being an American because

…this nation, despite its faults and missteps, was the first to separate state and church. That “wall of separation” as Jefferson put it, is an American original.

This is not to say the idea is necessarily an American invention, but it was first implemented in the “American Experiment,” as Madison put it. Until then, no other nation had sought to so full protect the ability of its citizens to think freely. No people had sought to divorce the terrible power religion holds over the supposed afterlife, from the power government has in everyday life. Until then, the freedom of thought and even the freedom of religion, could never have truly existed.

Now, that’s something to be proud of – the Americans of the past who fought hard to establish a religion-free constitution, and those who remain vigilant in upholding our resultant freedoms.

I’ll drink a toast to that.

But I still won’t wear a fucking lapel pin.

lspelpin

*   *   *

Department of Blame the Parents? The weather? The Internet? Donald Trump?

Daughter Belle is working as an Oregon Zoo Day Camp Camp Counselor. The camps run all summer long, one week for each session. This week she is working with the “Giraffe” camp, which is for children entering the second grade.

Every evening at the dinner table MH and I ask about her day. The first three weeks, when she was working with kids of kindergarten age, she regaled us with stories about how children that age should NOT be entrusted with either water [6] or shoelaces, how the boys “form little kingdoms and hierarchies” that quickly dissolve; i.e., they are friends and allies one minute and crying to the counselors five minutes later (“He called me a big baby – waaaah!”), and just how much hovering certain helicopter parents are capable of. Belle is starting to develop opinions, to put it mildly, as to children’s behavior and maturity levels and as to what and/or who is responsible for the miscreants little darlings’ manners.

Tuesday eve, when I picked her up at the light rail station and asked about camp, her expression curdled. It seems that one of the girls in her group (“One of the blondes; I forget which one – all the blonde ones look kind of the same, you know?”), apropos of nothing, approached her with this stimulating conversation opener.

Blonde Girl: “You should do something with your hair.”
Belle: ????
Blonde Girl:  “It looks kind of tired.”

Hair much too busy to be tired.

Hair much too busy to be tired.

*   *   *

Last weekend as MH and I were returning home from a walk, we passed a house in our neighborhood which is occupied by “unschoolers.” Or so we assume from the bumper stickers the house’s vehicles have sported over the years that promote unschooling. [7]

I got to wondering to MH:  If parents practice unschooling for their children, what about the adults? Does that philosophy – of self-direction and pursuing only that which interests you at the moment – carry on into other aspects of their lives? Is their house un-kept and un-maintained? [8] Do they un-cook their meals? Are they employed, and if so, do they practice un-working?

From an unschooling website info section, “What is unschooling?” (emphases mine)

There are as many approaches to unschooling as there are people, by design. A child is supported to read when ready and interested, not on another’s timetable, for example. He can and will be encouraged to pursue a wide range of interests, based on his interests, such as free play, inventing, experimenting scientifically, video gaming, role modeling through friendship, spiritual development through inquiry of self and others, athletics, learning to trust himself and others…..

An unschooled adult, or parent, is one who is loving the self designed life they have created for themselves. (sic ) [9] They may be entrepreneurs, travelers, create large incomes or small, simple ones. They know what foods, friendships, work, play and spiritual connections allow them to feel alive and challenged and satisfied.

MH said he doubted his own project managers and co-workers would look kindly upon him if he took up un-working,

“You know, I’m not interested in working on our cache memory project this week – it’s just not on my timetable right now…”

and that if he did so, he might soon find himself practicing un-employment.

 

Unschooled teen learning to pursue his wide range of interests.

Unschooled teen learning to pursue his wide range of interests.

*   *   *

For the past few weeks it’s been too damn hot for me to drag my loves-the-cooler-Pacific-northwest-climate butt out and shoot some arrows. I’ve missed going to a somewhat local, free, outdoor archery range, and while I’ve discovered a relatively nearby indoor fee range, I haven’t been motivated to make the time (or pay the fee) to go there. While taking practice in my self-designed, “indoor” (read: garage) range this week, [10] I reflected upon a common experience several of my archery class-mates (the female ones) shared with me: it seems that every other person who finds out you have taken up archery asks if or assumes that  you’ve done so because you liked The Hunger Games books and/or movies and want to emulate the hero, Katniss Everdeen.

While I admire many things about The Hunger Games franchise, I’d been interested in archery a long time before Ms. Everdeen strapped on her recurve bow. Any delusions of Katniss-osity were the furthest thing from my mind when I took the intro to archery class.

Part of the fun the class instructor had with us archery neophytes was to ask us to choose names (or “avatars”) that had something to do with our living or working situation, where we were born, or other personal attributes or interests. He’d then divide us into pairs or groups according to those names and have us compete in various aiming and scoring games. I came home after one of those sessions, wherein a fellow (male) student had chosen the name Katniss, and announced to MH that I had found my archery avatar.

Call me Catpiss.

MH was less than impressed, and remained so, even after I told him that although my interest in archery was strictly for the zen of aiming and concentration, if I ever did take up bow hunting, he could provide the duck calls. [11]

 

An off day for Catpiss.

An off day for Catpiss.

*   *   *

 

 

May your hair be manage-ably energetic, may your aim be worthy of your avatar,
and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Ah, how I wish indeed it were “pre,” but the presidential campaigning season gets longer and longer and…

[2] I was going to say jiggery-pokery, but Justice Scalia took the gibberish right out of my mouth.

[3] Like they are soooooo interested in my opinion.

[4] Which, as it happened, was a doctor’s locker room (or, “a doctor’s broom closet,” as my late great father used to tease my mother), but it was a locker room on American soil, dadgummit.

[5] And sometimes embarrassed, depending on policies supported by my fellow citizens.

[6] Which, according to Belle, they spill on themselves at every opportunity and then shriek as if someone’s tossed acid on their clothing.

[7] John Holt, the “father” of unschooling, believed that children didn’t need to be forced to learn in a structured environment but would learn naturally if allowed freedom to follow their own interests.

[8] From what I’ve seen of their front yard upkeep…well…insert (un)snarky comment.

[9] I can’t help but gloat over the unschooled and uncorrected redundancy and punctuation mistakes.

[10] Designed for safety – the neighbors (and the water heater) needn’t worry.

[11] A subtly placed fart joke – thank you, ladies and germs. Although, my ignorance of hunting is probably showing. I imagine bow hunters go for larger targets (deer, boar) than ducks.

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