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The Girl Scout Cookies I’m Not Buying

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Department Of Did The Last Four Years Really Happen?

I’m still numb.

 

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Department Of Difficult Family Questions

Dateline: earlier this week, listening to a Freakonomics podcast (“How Much Do We Really Care About Children?“), I heard this statistic on U.S. birth rates:

“As of 2019, the total fertility rate was 1.7 — that’s 1.7 babies born per woman of child-bearing age over her lifetime.”

I immediately thought of my two children, K and Belle, both young adults and successfully fledged.  They keep up with politics, demographics and current affairs.  I pondered how moiself, as a Loving and Responsible Parent ®, can honestly respond to them should they run across this statistic, then pose the inevitable question.

How will I decide which one of them is the .7 child?  Should I flip a coin?  Make my judgment based on which one is more likely to visit me in the nursing home (or less likely to put me in one)?

 

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Department Of Sometimes It’s Better To Let Your Imagination Run Wild
With The Question And Not Even Care About The Answer

The question I am referring to comes from the previously-referenced Freakonomics podcast episode (“How Much Do We Really Care About Children?“), which posed the question,

To what degree have car seats functioned as contraception?

 

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“I thought Girl Scouts was supposed to be about making the world a better place. But this isn’t at all making the world better.”
( 14-year-old Girl Scout Olivia Chaffin, quoted in “Child Labor Linked to Palm Oil in Girl Scout Cookies, Snack Brands”)

 

 

Dateline: Sunday afternoon.  Moiself  was backing my car out of the driveway, just as The Cutest Girl Scout In The World ® left a flyer on my porch. She continued on, walking with her father (my guess) and another Scout to my neighbor’s house. I stopped my car, got out and waved, and from a maskless-but-safe-distance her father said the Girl Scouts were doing a different form of cookie sales this year – orders online – and that the information was in the flyer.

After returning from my errand, I googled to see if the reasons moiself    [1]   had boycotted Girl Scout cookies the past few years were still valid.  Sadly, yes.  The Scouts are still using palm oil in their cookies…AND…a report has just been released linking the production of that palm oil to child labor violations.

I have long wished  [2]  that GS fundraisers would involve a community service drive several times a year, akin to the Boy Scouts’ Xmas tree recycling service. I mean, community service – yay!  Besides, look at us Americans – no one should be eating those (or any organization’s fundraising) cookies.

 

 

But it’s the palm oil usage – specifically, the orangutan and other wildlife habitat destruction resulting from the production of palm oil – that has me the most concerned.  People can choose to snack themselves into Type II Diabetes, but orangutans have no choice in the matter of where they can live, and they certainly don’t choose to have their habitat razed to grow a cheap oil so that humans can have smoother ice cream, less runnier lipstick, and crisp cookies and potato chips.

When K & Belle were in the Oregon Zoo Teens program they learned about the problems with palm oil production, and began educating us – their parents, family and friends – on why we should choose products that did not contain palm oil and boycott those that did.  Such education should be right up the Girl Scout’s alley, so to speak, with the organization’s declared belief in “…the power of every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) to change the world,” and their manifesto, to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.”

But, according to the EcoWatch article, “Child Labor Linked to Palm Oil in Girl Scout Cookies, Snack Brands,” that ain’t happening.  Excerpts from the article (my emphases):

Environmental concerns first motivated then-11-year old Chaffin to investigate the source of the palm oil in the Girl Scout cookies she sold. Chaffin…saw that the palm oil listed on the cookie boxes was supposed to come from sustainable sources. However, she looked closer and saw the word “mixed”, which meant that sustainable and non-sustainable sources had been combined in the cookie recipe.

She swore off cookie-selling and launched a petition one year ago urging Girl Scouts to abandon palm oil….

Chaffin told The Associated Press that learning about the child labor issues   [3]   made her more motivated to fight for the oil’s removal….

The Girl Scouts did not respond to The Associated Press before the study was published, but did address the article on social media.

“Child labor has no place in Girl Scout Cookie production. Our investment in the development of our world’s youth must not be facilitated by the under-development of some,” the organization tweeted.

They said that their bakers and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) should take action if standards were being violated.

In other words, business as usual. They are shocked – shocked! – to learn about child labor violations (and don’t forget habitat destruction), but not enough to put any political or economic muscle behind their rhetoric.

The Girls Scouts claim to “…offer the best leadership development experience for girls in the world.”  Their girls are inadvertently learning a lesson in politico-speak (express concern, but don’t make any actually changes which may threaten your income stream), which is sadly common to leaders worldwide.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Quote Of The Year, 2021:

“But fuck you for being there.”

Moiself  realizes the year is young, but already there is a comment which so succinctly nails What Happened on January 6 ® that I am hard pressed to imagine what might beat it for Quote of the Year.

It comes from NPR’s January 15 article,  “Meet Three D.C. Police Officers Who Fought For The U.S. Capitol.”  Excerpted here,  the article contains interviews with police officers who were attacked by the pro-#45 mobs who stormed the US Capitol.

Beaten, tased, lying dazed on the steps leading out of the west side of the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6, Officer Mike Fanone remembered thinking,

“…about the movie Black Hawk Down when the pilot gets stripped from the cockpit because guys were grabbing gear off my vest, they ripped my badge off of me, and people were trying to get my gun, and they grabbed my ammunition magazines.  I remember trying to retain my gun, I remember guys chanting, ‘Kill him with his own gun.’ “

Fanone was tased at least a half-dozen times. He says he considered using his gun to defend himself, but knew rioters would likely turn the gun on him. So he pleaded for his life.

“At one point, I decided I could appeal to someone’s humanity in this crowd. And I said I have kids,” he recalls. “Fortunately, I think it worked. Some people did start to protect me, they encircled me and tried to prevent people from assaulting me.”

Fanone, a 19-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department, was found and eventually pulled to safety by his patrol partner. He was hospitalized, and was told he had had a heart attack.

Fanone says he doesn’t want to get into what may have motivated Trump’s supporters, many of whom have long claimed they back police. He’s thankful he got out alive, but he’s angry that that was ever in question.

“The ones in the crowd that somehow appealed to their better angels and offered me some assistance, thank you,” he says. “But f*** you for being there.”

 

 

 

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Department Of Yes, This.
Reflections After The Inauguration

Although I love watching the Olympics and missed having the opportunity to do so in 2020,  [4]  moiself  did not miss having to listening to the devoted, often over-the-top-and-arrogant, fans of Team USA.  Hearing their strident, hyperbolic chants of, “USA! USA! USA! We’re Number One!” makes me want to do a number two, as I think of how those chants represent many of my fellow citizens’ understanding of our place in the world, both historically and in the present.

When it comes to being a “great” country, we *are* number one…in self-delusion and mythology.  Maybe, just maybe, we could be #1 in potential of across-the-board quality of life, if the majority of us could be honest with ourselves.

 

 

Those ideals in our founding documents,   [5] national anthem and patriotic songs are just that.  They are ideals to which we may aspire, but they are not reflections of either historical or present reality; they are a journey, not a destination.  We are not “there yet” – how could we be, when the codification and implementation of the lofty democratic ideals of our so-called fore-fathers involved the complete exclusion of our foremothers? The omission of political power for over half the country’s population lasted for 144 – yes, that’s one hundred and forty-four ­– years after our country’s “birth”!

We are not there yet.  And how can we ever be, when there is only grudging (if any) acknowledgement from too many of us about the reality of   [6]   the treatment of the original occupants of our land – the native/indigenous peoples, as well as those who did not come here willingly, but who instead were the “…tired, poor,  huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore…” because our ancestors had enslaved them?

 

 

Make America great again? To anyone who chants that insipid call to political arms slogan: what can you possibly mean by, *again*?

You can’t make American something it never was.  Make America Live up to its great ideals – or tear them down and start over.

So sez moiself.  Thus, it was refreshing to hear Baratunde Thurston give his take on the subject, on a TED talk. Thurston, a writer, comedian, political commentator, activist, philosopher, and “futurist,” is also the producer/host of the marvelously titled, “How to Citizen, a podcast which “… reimagines the word ‘citizen’ as a verb and reminds us how to wield our collective power.”

“I really appreciate the honesty of saying, ‘We haven’t succeeded yet.’ I think we are so good at myth-making, about our greatness and our uniqueness and our specialness, that we forgot we’re not there yet.  We have a big number of us who can say, like,  ‘We used to be so great!’

How could you say that when half the population couldn’t even vote? *When are you starting the clock?*
So, there’s a lot to do. There’s value to the honesty that we haven’t really done it yet, and there’s motivation to the idea that we might get there.  And I think we have to be motivated by the pursuit, not just the arrival.  That we’ve gotten a little bit better; that we’ve reckoned with some of the more painful things, knowing there’s a laundry list of stuff we still haven’t dared to face honestly.  And if we get closer, that’s still good.”

( Excerpts from TED radio hour podcast, “How to Citizen,”
with Baratunde Thurston speaking with TED host Manoush Zomorodi )

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Department Of Gut Check – Yep, I’m Still Numb

And just now daring to relax.  The inauguration happened; no one was shot.

When I finally let myself watch part of the proceedings moiself was both mesmerized and comforted by Amanda Gorman’s recitation of her stunning poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

 

 

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Department Of One More Thing

And – hello, New York Times headline on the 20th   [7]    – I never, ever again want to read about #45 and his entire, vile, despotic, rapacious, racist, sexist, nepotistic, cadre of liars and thieves, unless the story has to do with their impending criminal charges, plea bargains, and convictions.    [8]

 

 

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Pun For The Day

Finally it’s, 2021, and now I can truthfully say that hindsight is 2020.

 

*   *   *

May your children all be 1.0 and never .7;
May we work toward making our country great (not “again”);
May we aspire to deserve the voices of poets like Amanda Gorman;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] A former girl Scout, and lover of their Thin Mints cookies.

[2] And have done more than wishing; i.e., expressing to Scout leaders and writing to the national organization (with no response).

[3] “Child labor is another major problem for the (palm oil) industry, according to The Associated Press. The UN’s International Labor Organization estimates that 1.5 million children aged 10 to 17 work in Indonesia’s agricultural industry, of which palm oil is the dominant crop. In Malaysia, a 2018 study found that more than 33,000 children work in the industry, and that almost half of them are between the ages of five and 11.”

[4] On the off-chance you were off-planet, the 2020 Olympics were cancelled due to the pandemic.

[5] e.g. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence.

[6] And never mind the possibility of reparations for….

[7] Who gives a flying fuck if Tiffany tR**p is engaged?  Shame on you for making me scroll past that in order to access my daily mini-crossword.

[8] And hopefully those stories will have at least eight footnotes.

The Blog Post I Wasn’t Planning On

Comments Off on The Blog Post I Wasn’t Planning On

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

As in, What. Happened. On. Wednesday.

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

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

*   *   *

Someone needs to be shot for insurrection. 

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

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Prevoskhodno! This is all going according to plan.”

 

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

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

As friend MM so succinctly put it,

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

 

*   *   *

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

“The whole world is watching.”

 

 

And they were.  And we are.

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

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

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

No.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

*   *   *

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

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

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

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

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

The Grumpy Grandpa I’m Not Correcting

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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.  [1]  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 moiself  credits 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. Moiself  was 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   [2] ).

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 moiself  can 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  [3]….”), or any other basic fact about it. An animal’s sex or gender   [4]  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 moiself  to 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.

(“How Geena Davis became a champion for women on screen,”
The Guardian, 3-5-17 )

*   *   *

Department Of And While I’m On The Subject…

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  [5]   –  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.

 

 

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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.   [6]

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  [7]  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!

*   *   *

 

[1] I remember at least two occasions where we saw no other human beings, with the exception of the zookeepers and other zoo employees.

[2] And two keepers told me two different names for that bear: “Martha” and “Marcia.”

[3] 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.

[4] I realize these are loaded terms, used interchangeably and not always in the same manner, by humans.

[5] 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.

[6] I counted at least eight Ps there.

[7] Well, in my case, Girl-Scout-drop-out best….

The Conundrums I’m Not Scooping

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Department Of If You Want To Make Your Head Spin, Think About This

HAL HERZOG: The New York Times actually wrote an editorial about it (the killing of an amusement park crocodile named “Cookie,” by its owner, after the crocodile drowned a 6 year old boy who had fallen into the croc’s enclosure)… the editorial writer wrote, killing Cookie made no sense intellectually, but it felt right emotionally.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM: And the reason it didn’t make sense intellectually, of course, is the idea that a crocodile would do what a crocodile does is hardly surprising.

HERZOG: (the croc’s) brain is smaller than a walnut. He is a creature, largely, of instinct, particularly when it comes to food. And he was… doing what crocodiles do. He was not a moral agent, you know, which I would argue is one of the biggest differences between humans and other species. We are moral agents.

VEDANTAM: So the interesting thing is that Cookie’s owner, in some ways related to Cookie as if Cookie was a person, that Cookie was a moral agent…which is, you’re assuming that the animal has agency and behaves or thinks or has human-like qualities and that you are therefore obliged or required to treat this other creature as if, in some ways, it had human-like qualities.

HERZOG: …This similarly played out in a bizarre incident that happened in Tennessee, where an elephant named Mary killed its groom while in a circus parade in 1916. And they hung the elephant to death…and to me that was…the ultimate example of where we’ve anthropomorphized animals – that we give it capital punishment in a sense for something that it was clearly not morally culpable.

(From “Pets, Pests And Food: Our Complex, Contradictory Attitudes Toward Animals,” Hidden Brain podcast 6-17-19)

The concept of moral consistency often times leads us astray in our interactions with animals.  This is just one of many take-aways from the most recent episodes of one of my favorite podcasts, Hidden Brain. In this episode, host Shankar Vedantam interviews Hal Herzog, a professor of psychology who has studied human-animal interactions for more than 30 years and the author of the book, “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals.”

*   *   *

When I began doing my research on the comparative cruelty of cockfighting versus McNuggets…I just – I was absolutely stunned. And I realized…cockfighting should be illegal, but the casual chicken eater is committing a bigger sin in their own way than is the rooster fighter.
(Hal Herzog, Hidden Brain guest)

*   *   *

It has always fascinated me that every person I know or have read about who has chosen to alter their eating and other lifestyle habits in part or primarily due to their concern for animals – e.g., vegans, as well as other animal rights activists who are not exclusively plant-eaters – has pets. Yet one can make a strong argument that keeping animals as pets is presumptuous at best and “species-ist” at worst: you are keeping animals in captivity, away from their natural habitat, without their request or permission.

Moiself’s family of origin had a variety of pets over the years, including hamsters, cats, and dogs, and on a few occasions we attended events that featured animal “entertainment” (e.g., my parents took us to a circus, and to Sea World a couple of times.). MH and I and our two children have always had pets, including cats, snakes, rodents, fish, birds, and a bearded dragon. Our current fauna enslavement count is four felines.   [1]

I will never again go to an animal circus. Nor will I patronize a Gator World or Sea World type facility, which, unlike accredited zoos or wildlife preserves (which nowadays focus on education, conservation and breeding programs for endangered species), keep animals as moneymaking entities and train them to perform for human entertainment. I’ve also a “moral problem” with horseback riding, as much as I’ve enjoyed that activity in the past.

Watch the “Blackfish” documenary, if you don’t understand the Sea World reference.

As per my own moral consistency regarding the pet issue…let’s see how many metaphors I can mix….

IMHO, the barn door has already closed when it comes to removing/returning certain animals from/to their natural habitat.  That ship –  of cats and dogs – has already sailed, particularly with regard to dogs, which have been kept and selectively bred by humans for thousands of years. Domestic cats also have a long relationship with humans but have not been subjected as much genetic tinkering; thus, “homeless” cats can be seen, in our own neighborhoods and on city streets around the world, hunting and otherwise fending for themselves quite well – ’tis why we have a problem with feral “domestic” cats.  It’s hard to imagine dogs, especially those of wheezing, gasping brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds (e.g. pugs; French bulldogs, Boston Terriers) or toy breeds (Yorkies, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas…)  “make a living” without us.

At the time my offspring wanted reptiles as pets I insisted that any herps  [2]  (which eventually consisted of a corn snake, a ball python, and a bearded dragon) they acquired be captive bred.  I no longer think that is a good idea.  Considering their behaviors and interactions with humans, I think reptiles belong “in the wild”  (and as undomesticated as your adolescent child’s bedroom might seem to you, that doesn’t count).

Ditto for rodents, and birds.   [3]  And fish (really, people…keeping fish as “pets”? Just get a terrarium and watch the grass grow, for comparable excitement).

*   *   *

Hidden Brain’s host and guest discussed how humans’ attitudes toward and treatment of animals are shaped by how we anthropomorphize them. For example, the giant panda and the giant salamander are both endangered species native to certain regions of China, but guess which gets the lion’s (panda’s?) share of attention and concern?  You’re not gonna see the World Wildlife Fund put the pictures of endangered invertebrates on their calendars, coffee mugs, tote bags and other fundraising swag.

(more from the Hidden Brain interview, my emphases)

HEZOG: And the panda…in some ways, looks a little bit like a human.
But it’s basically a faker in the sense that it has these giant circles around its eyes, which ethologists call baby releasers. So we look at that panda and it basically logs on to that – jams into that maternal instinct that we have when we see creatures with big eyes and it impose on them that in some ways it reminds us of a human infant. So, for example, researchers have shown that one of the biggest predictors of whether or not people will give money to save animals is the size of the animal’s eyes. And pandas certainly have it when it comes to eye size.

But wait – if it’s round eyes you’re going for, how about the wolf spider, which has eight big fuzzy ones? Oh, never mind.

Am I cuddly, or what?

It – how some animals we “love,” some we consider pests, and some we eat – is a fascinating issue to consider. And if you, like moiself (and the podcast’s psychologist) think that the paradoxes of pet ownership are in some ways unresolvable, just wait until you start thinking about eating animals, or using them in “sports” for our entertainment.

VEDANTAM: So the more we think of animals as sort of members of our family, the more we think of them as being like us, in some ways, this raises a profound moral paradox: if we actually think of these animals as being like us, how in the world can we…in any good conscience, confine them to our homes, confine them to cages, treat them as if they were our captives to do with as we please?

HERZOG: I think that’s a great point… And I’ve really quite seriously been thinking about, is it ethical to keep animals as pets? If we really think of them as autonomous beings, what right do we have to take away all their autonomy by controlling every aspect of their life? – what they eat, where they go, when they go. And increasing, we’re taking control of their genes, which created its own problems.
To me, the logic of pet keeping is not that different than the logic of meat eating. I eat meat. And I know the arguments against it are good and they’re better than my argument for eating meat, which is, basically, I like the way it tastes. Well, I feel the same way about my cat. I love my cat, but she carries with her a moral burden. And it’s my moral burden. It’s not her moral burden. I’m the moral agent. I’m the adult in the room. And I’m the one that has to deal with thinking about this stuff. Although, most people conveniently repress it and don’t think about it.

 

 

Like most Americans, you are probably disgusted by the brutality of cock fighting and support bans on it and other animal “blood sports.”  And, like most Americans, you probably occasionally or regularly eat chicken, when dining out or at home.  Unless you insist on Certified Humane ® products from your restaurants and grocery stores, do you know which animal – the rooster raised for fighting, or the factory farm raised broiler which ends up in your McNuggets and Chicken Tikka Masala – actually has the “better” life (and less horrific death)?

HERZOG: (Gamecocks) live lives that are generally – compared to a broiler chicken – pretty darn amazing. They live, on average, two years. They’re not usually fought until they’re two years old. For a chunk of their life, they live in free range or they have way more room than a broiler chicken.

They’re fed incredibly well – a varied diet. They get plenty of exercise. If they win a couple fights, they will use them as a stud rooster. And what they’ll do is they’ll spend their life chasing the hens around. Not a bad deal.

On the other hand, the life of a broiler chicken is absolutely horrendous. Their life only lasts between six and seven weeks. They’re basically meat machines, which means that they put on weight so fast that their legs can’t really hold up their bodies… They’re jammed into giant broiler houses with 30,000 chicks in a broiler house, where they’ll never see the sun. They’ll never get to play on the grass. They’ll never get to peck at bugs. Their lungs will be burned with ammonia.  [4]   It’s an absolutely horrendous existence. And they will die a pretty lousy death. They’ll be crammed into a series of cages. They’ll be hauled, for miles, in an open truck, jammed into small little cages with their feathers flying down the interstate (to the slaughterhouse/processing plant), where they will be hung upside down by their legs, dipped into an electrified water bath to stun them. And then they’ll go through a carotid artery set of blades that will, hopefully, kill them quickly – although, oftentimes, it does not.

*   *   *

We human animals are inconsistent in how we think, feel, and behave towards non-human animals. No answers for y’all here,  [5]    just lots to think about…unless, like most pet owners and animal flesh eaters, you  prefer not to think about such things and would rather live with the quandaries…because to do otherwise might require sacrifices and lifestyle changes and, hey, you’re a busy person and it’s time to walk the quandary again….

If you do nothing else, please just remember to be a responsible moral agent: take your bag with you and pick up the, uh, conundrums your quandary drops along the way, okay?

*   *   *

Department Of Will Someone Please Do This Man A Favor
And Steer Him Toward Lessons In Basic Pronunciation?

Dateline: Tuesday am, listening to “How Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor Create One of the World’s Most Fascinating Podcasts,”  a recent episode of the podcast Clear and Vivid. Clear & Vivid is concerned with how people communicate and connect with other people.  In this episode, host Alan Alda interviews two of the creators of Ear Hustle, a podcast produced from San Quentin prison, by prisoners.

Ear Hustle deals with the daily life of prison inmates, which gives cause for (now former) prisoner Earlonne Woods, during the Clear and Vivid interview, to use the term death row several times. “Clear and Vivid”…except that Woods consistently mispronounces death row as deaf row, which is not at all clear but which definitely brings a vivid image to my mind: of someone who, for whatever reasons, makes a group of hearing-impaired folks stand in a lineup.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

 Chickpea Flour Does It All, by  Lindsey S. Love

Recipe:  Baby Chickpea Quiches with New Potatoes and Chard

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [7]

*   *   *

May you consider the quandaries in your life;
May you be brave enough to consider said quandaries before your next meat-based meal;
May you never have to choose between death row and deaf row;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] MH and I have two, and our adult children each have one.

[2] From herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles.

[3] I realize that some kinds of birds, such as members of the parrot family, are more interactive with their human owners, even bonding with a human as they would in the wild with their mates…which presents a whole other set of logistical/care-taking and ethical problems.

[4] From the excretory fumes of their own and the 29,999 other chicken’s waste.

[5] Well of course I do have suggestions, such as adopting a plant-based diet.  If for whatever reasons you do want to eat meat, do your research find some farmers/ranchers who raise their animals humanely – they do exist!

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

[7]  * Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

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

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

* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.

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

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

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

The Comment Cards I’m Not Discarding

1 Comment

Department Of Things That Should Be No Brainers…
But Some People Have No Brains When It Comes To Animals

History: ____ (exotic animal’s name) was taken into her (former) owners’ home to be kept as a pet. After being bitten through a pair of welding gloves, her owners reached out to the rescue sanctuary….

History: ___ (exotic animal’s name) had been kept as a pet, but was rehomed after biting his owner’s child….

History: ___ (exotic animal’s name) was rescued from a home in ____(town, state), where she was being kept as a pet. After injuring her owners’ son….

History:  Young couple purchased a baby (exotic animal) from a breeder who told them that the (exotic animal) would make a good pet for their young children. “Don’t feed the (exotic animal) any raw meat and he will mature to be docile,” the exotic animal breeder told the young couple. The (exotic animal) was put on a diet of canned tuna and chicken, until one day he bit the couple’s five-year-old son on the shoulder and would not let go…

These are just a few of the stories of how thousands of formerly neglected and abused lions and tigers and bears – and cougars and bobcats and servals and leopards, et al – came to be rescued by exotic wildlife refuge centers across the country. These stories also illustrate a few of the myriad of reasons why “exotic” animals do not make good “pets.”

No matter how much you may wish it, this

 

 

Is not this

 

 

 

*   *   *

I am currently on vacation with MH, visiting daughter Belle, who is working at one such exotic animal rescue sanctuary, as previously mentioned in this blog:

A few 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 and was really just a big, big pussy cat.  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 SanctuaryBig Cat RescueTurpentine 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.

*   *   *

 

This is my first trip to Arkansas, home of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge[1]  Turpentine Creek’s mission, like that of other legitimate wildlife rescue organizations, is twofold:

  1. to care for and provide lifetime refuge for abandoned, abused [2]  and neglected big cats, (with an emphasis on lions, tigers, leopards and cougars   [3]);
  2. to educate the public about the plight of wild animals kept as pets and used for profit (e.g. cub petting “zoos” and traveling animal shows and animal display or petting birthday and other kiddie parties and trophy hunting), and to lobby for legislation which would outlaw these practices.

 

 

Intelligent, proactive, well–intentioned and kind-hearted, supportive-of-ethical-businesses person that you are,  [4] you might be interested in advocating for and maybe even visiting an exotic animal sanctuary. But because the term “sanctuary” is not regulated by the government, any facility can call itself such. Being a person with the afore-mentioned attributes, you want to make sure you are supporting a true sanctuary and not enabling a pseudo-sanctuary – one which may seem to say all the right things but which in fact is keeping (and even raising) its animals for profit.

 

True sanctuaries will NOT

*breed animals
*allow any interaction (petting/feeding) with cubs
*allow the public to have any hands-on interaction with any carnivore of any age
*allow its own animal care team to handle any animal (unless it is sedated for veterinary care)
* buy or sell animal parts
* exhibit animals at shows, or transport animals to any place off- sanctuary (unless for vet care)

Turpentine Creek’s website has links (What is a Sanctuary) which will help us educate ourselves; i.e., to know what questions to ask about a facility to determine its legitimacy:

“Differentiating between a true sanctuary and a pseudo-sanctuary might take a little extra research, but when you visit a true sanctuary you are helping to put an end to the exotic animal trade and also protecting exotic animals from exploitation.”

*   *   *

Department Of One More Thing: You Also Don’t Want To Be Responsible For Encouraging The Breeding Of More “Kennys” In This World

 

 

If this tiger remind you in anyway of the British royal family, that’s because the (now deceased) “Kenny” is the poster boy for the dangers of inbreeding. Kenny’s tiger parents were closely related, and he suffered from a variety of physiological – and obviously cosmetic – ailments and deformities…but as long as breeding exotics is allowed and someone can make money off of it they will continue to do so and breed for a rare mutation – one that is de-selected for in the wild – because thanks in large part to ASSHOLES like Siegfried and Roy people got the mistaken idea that it would be cool to own white tiger.

*   *   *

Belle loves her work and the proximity she has to the creatures in the sanctuary, and reaffirmed her comment to us, made after her first week of her internship, about how she needs no convincing about wild animals needing to be wild:  no matter how many generations of “domestic” breeding the animals come from, no matter how friendly they seem on the other side of the fence,  [5]  no matter how long they’ve lived in captivity or how much they seem recognize you as an ally/as someone who brings their food, “As soon as you turn your back to them they begin to stalk you.”  [6]  

*   *   *

Department Of But Wait, There’s More…
(To Arkansas, That Is, Besides The Big Cat Sanctuary)

* more road kill than I’ve seen in a long time

* the former includes armadillos (seeing their carcasses, for some reason, makes me sadder than seeing that of the other road kill specimens)

* The beautiful Ozark “Mountains” (I cannot bring myself to refer to them as mountains without quotation marks –apologies to the friends who’d seen this part of the country and who, when they found out my destination, told me, “What they call ‘mountains” in the south/east aren’t really mountains.”  These apologies are due because I reacted by pooh-pooh-ing them for what I considered to be their Western Regionalism Prejudice ® …and now I find myself thinking, Really, people, these are nice, rolling hills on a plateau…but the highest peak is 2500 feet and you call them, ‘mountains?”    [7]

* An architecturally notable Art Museum…which inadvertently provided the most notable art of all (at least for moiself): A Certain Moment Of Engagement With A Fellow Human Being ® which happened to take place at said museum.

 

 

Please, do go on.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of Please Share Your Impressions With Us… Up To A Point.

Dateline: Monday, Crystal Bridges Museum of Contemporary Art in Bentonville, AR. MH and I have just completed viewing the museum’s featured exhibit: Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Today, which “…presents works of art by important Native American artists, enriching our understanding of American art.”

At the end of the exhibit, I am standing in front of a comment board near the exhibition’s exit door.  The comment board is a series of metal grooves on a wall, into which museum visitors may insert ~ 4″ x 6″ unlined index cards which are provided, along with felt pens, on a table by the wall, along with the instructions to “share your impressions of the exhibit.”

I begin to scan the various comments. One of the museum’s docents, who is stationed near the exit door, walks over to stand beside me. He also begins reading the comment cards, and quickly reaches up and removes two of them.

Moiself: Why are you taking those cards down?

Docent (pointing to a slot in the top of a trash can-like receptacle to the right of the Comment Wall): “We save them; they all go here. We take some cards down to make room for others.”

I note that there is plenty of room on the board, which looked as if it could hold about 50 comment cars and there were only about 9 – 10 posted at that time.

Moiself: “Okay…but why are you taking those two cards down?

I was careful to modulate my voice, to indicate curiosity and not accusation. Because the cards the docent left posted had comments along the lines of, “Beautiful!” and, “Thanks I  enjoyed this,” while the comments written on the two cards he took down were:

card one: Move on

card two: There can be no illegal people living on stolen land.

The docent, again (attempting to distract/reassure me?) says, “We save all the comments.”  I ask him if he’d chose those particular cards to remove – excuse me, to expedite to the save box – because they could be considered political or controversial.  [8]  

Docent (flashing me a nervous smile): “We like to leave the ones that are positive.”

Before I can point out to him that the instructions for filling out the comment cards mention noting about positive or negative, only offer the opportunity to share your impressions of the exhibit, he once again declares, “We save all the comments.“

 

 

*   *   *

 

May you do more than “save all the comments;”
May you appreciate another state’s hills even if you remain smug about the superiority of your state’s mountains;
May you appreciate and support the true sanctuaries of (exotic or ordinary) life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] MH had previously visited the state in his way younger years, to see an uncle who ran one of those “Life of Jesus” theme parks (really).

[2] And by definition, private ownership and breeding of these animals is abuse.

[3] Along the way TC has also answered the call to rescue several bears, and servals, and even a monkey.

[4] Since your reading this blog, I’m assuming the best!

[5] And they are *always* on the other side of the fence. No matter what the individual animal’s history of human contact was prior to coming to the refuge there is *no* direct animal/human contact at that – or any respectable – wildlife refuge.

[6] The caregivers are always behind fences, and there is NO direct human contact with sanctuary animals, except for when the animal is sedated, e.g., veterinary care.

[7] When your point of reference for mountains are The Rockies (62 peaks exceeding 13k feet), or The Sierras (peaks to 14k), or the Cascades (peaks to 14k) or even the Coast Range of the Pacific Northwest (peaks to 4k)…. these cute little hills just don’t cut it.

[8] It was an interesting “egalitarian” moment of censorship, I thought, in that the move on comment could be taken to be a more right wing suggestion to Native peoples to get over their history of defeat and exploitation (common themes in the art), while There can be no illegal people living on stolen land is obviously a more left-leaning sentiment.

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]

 

 

 

 

 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….

 

 

 

 

 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.

 

 

 

 

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 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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.

 

 

“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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

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.)

 

 

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.”

 

 

*   *   *

 

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.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

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 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?

*   *   *

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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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….

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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]….

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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

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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

 

 

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?

 

*   *   *

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.

 

 

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.

 

*   *   *

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.

 

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.

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