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The Language I’m Not Unlearning

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Department Of The Day After

 

 

No – that *that* day.

Moiself  hopes you found a less-than-traditional way to celebrate yesterday.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of How Come I Never Thought Of This Before?

This is fascinating… At least to moiself.

A recent issue of the podcast Freakonomics (“What’s Wrong with Shortcuts?”)  featured podcast host Stephen Dubner interviewing mathematician Marcus du Sautoy about du Satoy’s book, Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life. The author argues that, despite what we’ve been taught, the secret to success is not in hard work, it’s in figuring out and applying shortcuts to solve one problem quickly so we can then move on to another.  Mathematics; music, psychotherapy, politics – du Sautoy claims that shortcuts can be found/applied to practically everything.  But, not everything:

“When you’re going on holiday, I don’t want to shortcut the holiday, because it’s about spending time. The point is, I don’t want you to use shortcuts for everything and spoil something you enjoy doing.”

 

Actually, Mr. Generic Handsome White Dude who is probably a CGI creation, in real life, there are both.

 

C.B.T. (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has been hailed by many psychologists as being a true breakthrough in mental health therapeutic modes, due to C.B.T.’s pragmatic and short-term approach to handling problems.  Podcast host Dubner noted that Du Satoy’s book dealt briefly with the idea of using shortcuts in psychotherapy, but seemed skeptical of its efficacy, as per the fact that the human psyche is complex and dynamic enough to reject the type of shortcutting that might work in other realms.  Du Sautoy’s response indicated he was at least somewhat in agreement (my emphases):

“… I think that (applying shortcuts) depends on the problem you’re facing…. I talked to Susie Orbach, who’s a psychologist, and she had this nice way of describing some of the problems that people are facing:  it’s hard to learn a language. It’s even harder to unlearn a language. “

 

 

Imagine trying to unlearn English (or whatever your first language is).

Some people come to therapy with ingrained ways of thinking from experiences they’ve had in childhood – the family  “language” they learned does not serve them well, and they need to “unlearn” that language and learn another one.  Such resetting of thought patterns and behaviors will not likely respond to drastic shortcuts.  However, the C.B.T. modality (of learning how to be aware of what your thought processes are) is, in itself, “…enough to short-circuit the algorithm which was always sending you into depression. You’re sort of stuck inside the system of the way you’re thinking. What C.B.T. often helps you to do is to take a step up and look at the way that thought process is happening and understand the trigger which always sends you down….”

 

 

Moiself is a longtime fan of C.B.T.   [1]   But what keeps coming back to me from the podcast is the concept of trying to *unlearn* your first or native language.  I realize the concept is used metaphorically in du Sautoy’s argument; nevertheless, I’ve encountered something like it throughout my life, in the correlated cases of watching people deal with the cognitive dissonance of trying to embrace reality while trying to stay within certain religious traditions and/or worldviews.

A personal example: I was raised within the “language” – both via the wider culture and in my own family of origin – of the Christian religion.  During one of the few conversations with my father I had (when I was an adult) wherein he asked about why I was not/was no longer a Christian, I briefly laid out the fundamentals of the faith, along with why and how I know that those religious tenets are not true and/or are not valid explanations of reality.  I then asked him a question he could not answer:

“How can I pretend to *not* know what I know?”   [2] 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Grinch Does Thanksgiving

The headline had remained on the online Oregonian newspaper feed for several days. I would scroll past it on my phone news app…and finally decided to check it out.

Big mistake; what kind of story was moiself  expecting, given the headline?

With a little help, hunter with cerebral palsy gets his bull elk

I’ll start again.

Perhaps moiself  should title this segment, Department Of the Make A Wish Foundation Achievement I’m Not Celebrating.

Even though I was reminded of that M-A-W organization (the kind of charity which helps dying/cancer-stricken/handicapped kids achieve their “dreams”) when I read about this “achievement,” the hunter in this story is a grown-ass young man, not a child.  My lip is still curling after reading about how this significantly handicapped man – who was apparently raised to think that it is a high achievement to hunt (read: stalk and slaughter) a magnificent creature, not as a way of putting food on his starving family’s table, but for “sport”   [3]  – was able to kill an elk thanks to a group of abettors, referred to in the article as his “guardian angels.”

The article is accompanied by a photograph of three masochistic killers “sportsmen” : the CP-stricken hunter in his ATV wheelchair, and two of his “angels,” one of which holds up the lifeless head of the elk by lifting its antlers.  Some choice excerpts from the article:

“On…the next-to-last day of his northeast Oregon elk season and despite severe impairment by cerebral palsy, DM (hunter’s name) pulled the trigger on the massive six-point Rocky Mountain bull he yearned for.

But not without the help of a flock of good Samaritans.    [4]

Guardian angel 1: DM’s father and one of his primary caregivers, who takes Drew fishing and hunting, has developed a system for Drew to shoot a well-aimed rifle….

Angel 2: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which issued DM his disabled fishing and hunting permit after completion of a hunter safety course…..

Angel 3: Youth Outdoors Unlimited of Moses Lake, Washington, which hosted DM years ago on a bear hunt and loaned him the same track and mechanical rifle system he used then…..

Angel 4: Facebook. Yup, social media. Monsey has a large following on the platform….”

The article goes on to list at least three more “angels,” including the veterinarian/cattle rancher who owns the ranchland where the elk was shot.

The picture I mentioned is repulsive (to me…I realize I’m living in a very different world and mindset from those who enjoy hunting).  Here is the only picture of a giant bull elk moiself  finds acceptable. What in the world possesses people to think that the life of such a magnificent animal – which is what attracts a hunter to it in the first place, the fact that it is alive – is best served by becoming a trophy, or a testament to some short-sighted asshole’s twisted sense of accomplishment?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Message To The PR Department Of KenKen Publishing

…and any other KenKen puzzle books (which moiself  purchases on a regular basis).

 

 

Re your description on the cover of the books, “100 challenging logic puzzles that make you smarter.”  Not that you care what I think, but you have no objective evidence for that claim.

Q. In pop culture, it’s a popular notion that you can do puzzles to ‘train your brain.’ But, as an adult, can you actually do that? To improve memory and cognition?

A. “So, the answer to that is generally, ‘Yes,’ but doing puzzles improves your brain only in doing puzzles…. the way you think about that is like doing sports: If you do tennis, you’re not necessarily going to be good at doing football; you’ll just be good at doing tennis. But overall, doing tennis is helping your general physical abilities and making you sprier.”

(Ausim Azizi, chair of neurology at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, interviewed in “Do Puzzles Really Train Your Brain,” The Philly Voice. )

Also, to make moiself  “smarter” is not why I buy KenKen books. I just like doing the puzzles.  But I suppose, from a marketing POV, “100 challenging logic puzzles that you just like to do” doesn’t quite cut it.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Phrases Which Spark Memories 

It was a phrase or sentiment I had neither thought about nor heard in some time, until it was used by a long-time friend recently.  This made me think back to…

Dateline: over twenty years ago, when my in-laws were out from Florida, visiting moiself, MH, and our offspring.  I was driving my late father-in-law somewhere.  And by late I do not mean to cast aspersions re his timeliness – he wasn’t a tardy man – but late as in, he is now deceased.  But he was (obviously to y’all, as per this story…I hope) alive when I was driving him somewhere; I mean, I’m not the kind of person to schlep a dead in-law around in my vehicle….

Once again, I’ll start again.

So: moiself and MH’s father are out. I was driving; he was in the passenger seat of my car; we came to a stoplight; the car in front of us had a quite noticeable bumper sticker.

 

My ordinarily even-tempered FIL told me that whenever he saw a car with a sticker like that he felt like getting a big shovel of shit, dumping it on the car’s windshield, and exclaiming to the driver, “Look, it’s happening!”

He used a somewhat humorous tone when he made that declaration, but I could tell that it (the bumper sticker) actually upset him.  I asked him why he found the phrase/sentiment so irksome.  He said he thought it to be indicative of a negative, passive attitude about life.

I chewed on that that for a while, then told him that I had a very different reaction.  To moiself, shit happens is merely an…uh, earthier…form of the expressions and adages found worldwide, in many languages and cultures; e.g.,  “C’est la vie;” “Que sera, sera.”

 

 

Translation: shit happens simply (if scatologically) expresses the understanding that there will be things, good and bad and neutral, which will happen to us and which will be out of our control. This doesn’t mean that you therefore go through life as flotsam, simply drifting with the currents and tides of fate – of course not.  You do what you can, but it is realistic – and mentally healthy – to recognize that, ultimately, you are *not*  in control of everything.  Shit happens/que sera, sera: things can and will happen to you – things which may seem as an insult from the universe but which, in fact, are random and have nothing to do with you personally.

I think I was able to successfully communicate my POV.  Or perhaps the genial comments of understanding my FIL made were to thwart me from breaking into the theme song of my patron saint, Doris Day.   [5]

 

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

Punz For The Day
Day-After-Thanksgiving Edition

Q: What smells the best at a Thanksgiving dinner?
A: Your nose.

Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a
classic Thanksgiving dessert by its diameter?

A: Pumpkin pi.

 

*   *   *

May you understand that shit happens;
May you do strive to ensure that you are not the shit happening to someone else;
May you do your best to ignore Black Friday;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] To the point that I think, by comparison, most other forms of therapy are basically a waste of time.

[2]  Even though * he* was the one who brought it up, my sweet father responded with his go-to, five-word phrase of circumvention, which he employed whenever we were getting into conversational territory which made him uncomfortable: “Well, that’s enough about that.”

[3] And unless or until the Bull Elk in question, or any other animal so stalked, is armed with the high-powered weaponry of the human hunters (who must also, as their prey is, be naked) and agrees to participate with the human, in the hunting, it is the ultimate in poor sportsmanship to call hunting a “sport.”

[4] Certainly, not a Good Samaritan from the elk’s POV. And in the original Good Samaritan story, the Samaritan did not help one creature by killing another one.

[5] Yes, atheists can have a patron saint, and for a while, Doris was mine.

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?

 

*   *   *

 

“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 )

*   *   *

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]

 

 

*   *   *

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!

*   *   *

 

[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 Beauty Pageant I’m Not Entering

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Although the current events of the past two weeks have been almost unbearably rant-worthy, y’all may notice I haven’t posted much on “politics.” At this what-could-be-pivotal-but-may-only-be-a-blip-in-obtaining-justice-and-reining-in-misogyny-and-privilege moment in history, I’m a bit…pessimistic…re my fellow citizens’ ability to Do The Right Thing. ® 

To employ – actually, create – a WTF? metaphor, let me just say that were I to be a contestant in the Ms. Human Nature Beauty Pageant – I mean of course, Scholarship Pageant – the judges would likely throw me out after the first round…and the other contestants would unanimously vote me, Miss Anthropic.   [1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of “What’s That Bitch Sayin’—what’s a Igneous —Fish Loggin’?’

It’s odd, sometimes, what sparks a memory.

From ages 18 through 28, I ran in the morning, every morning, for my primary form of exercise. When I was in college I would set my alarm to get up and going while it was still dark but approaching dawn;  [2]  I found it… aesthetically pleasing, would be the best way to describe it, to finish my run with the rising sun.  ‘Twas a nice way to start the day.

There was a grassy field near my (freshman year) dorm, and every day during the late winter through spring early mornings I’d run past a dozen or so rabbits which were out in the field, nibbling on whatever munchies they could find.  The first few mornings they fled at my approach, but as the weeks went by their little bunny brains apparently got used to the sight of a lone biped loping past – not at – them.  Once they realized I posed no threat they’d stand their ground, heads up, chins bobbing sideways with chewing, acknowledging me (or so I liked to think) as I passed by.  I often wondered what they thought – if they thought, at all – about what I was doing or where I was going. Perhaps, they figured, I was on my way to my own field of greens.

 

 

It’s her again. Everybody act normal.

 

 

 

I would not keep that particular schedule now. Translation: I would not run or do any form of exercise outside alone, at night or in the early morning darkness, without carrying some kind of personal protection device. [3]   Never-you-mind-how-many years ago, it never occurred to me to feel unsafe on campus. I was never hassled by anyone when I was running (but then, I almost never encountered anyone, during those early hours).  That changed after graduation

My morning routine did not change: I still got up early to do my run/exercise/shower routine, only now it was to do these things before work instead of before classes. And instead of running on campus I was now running on the sidewalks and streets in areas surrounding whatever apartment/rental house I was occupying.  Thus, I became privy to the phenomenon of men (mostly plural, but the occasional lone male), usually in passing cars (some on bicycles, on foot, or in nearby buildings), who feel compelled to “comment” on women they pass by.

By comment I mean, as almost every female above the age of eight knows, spew a series of masturbatory grunts, groans and whistles. Their auditory emissions occasionally contained an intelligible world or two, typically of the hey baby woo-hoo ilk.

 

 

I can run outdoors every day, dressed like this, and nobody yells about my boobs!

 

 

 

I never said anything in reply – although there were times….oh, lawdy, there were times…when my middle fingers practically begged for extension. My only reaction to the comments was to momentarily heighten my alert level – for example, I’d make sure that the car from which came the cretinous comments had indeed kept on going in its original direction and was not turning around to follow me.

It happened All. The. Time. As in, on an almost daily basis. It was so frequent that I noted the “aberration” of those days when my run was harassment-free. This is not an exaggeration.

One Saturday I allowed moiself the luxury of sleeping in, and went for a run at (what for me was) a later time, around 8 am. I decided to do a new route, and went downtown, where I approached…a construction site. For a moment, I considered changing my route:  nah, it’s early on a Saturday, and I don’t see any construction crews on site, and shame on me for holding that stereotype.  Then, as if out of nowhere, there they were: three men in hardhats standing around bright orange construction cones surrounding a manhole.  Sure enough, they produced the commentary as I ran past them.  I kept going for a few seconds, then thought, Nope, not today.

I did an about face and strode, slowly, deliberately, back to where the manhole-assholes stood. They eyed me suspiciously as I approached them; the smirks so evident in their voices a mere five seconds earlier had morphed into wary silence.  I stopped when I was about 10 feet away from them.

Do you realize, I said, when you say things like that to women, you perpetuate the stereotype that male construction workers are ignorant misogynists?

Although I didn’t have the acronym back then, their facial expressions were classic WTF?… and became even WTF?-er when I chuckled aloud at my silent realization: Holy thesaurus, they need a translator – they have no idea what those words mean.

I resumed my run.

 

 

Say there big fella, my girlfriends and I find it oh-so-sexy when men comment on our bodies as we’re walking in public…said no woman ever.

 

*   *   *

Department Of High Praise, Indeed

Dateline: last Saturday, MH and I discussing ways to make the drive to the coast less boring for the two cats  [4]  we take with us when we go for the weekend.  We put them in their respective carriers and lock the carriers into the back seatbelts; they are safe that way,  [5]  but of course confined, and have not much to do, or even look at.

MH, wondering aloud:   “There should be a way for them to look out the window, like you see dogs doing.”

Moiself, responding even aloud-er: “Yeah, there should be a…cat-traption, for that.”

MH: “Cat-traption – I like that word. It should be in a crossword puzzle.”

My work here is done.

 

This is not the cat-traption to which I refer.

 

 

 

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Department Of Why All Sports Announcers Should Be British

Should you doubt that proclamation, listen to the Freakonomics podcast How Sports Became Us. Not the whole thing (unless you’re interested, of course), but just the archival tape of the announcement from the 1954 radio broadcast when middle distance runner Roger Bannister had broken what had been thought to be an unbreakable record for track athletes: the sub four minute mile. The announcement comes at 3 minutes 25 seconds into the program, when the British announcer declares Bannister’s feat to be:

“…the Everest of athletic achievement.”

Really; you have to listen to it – perhaps not the way I’ve been doing it, over and over and over. It’s just so succinctly British – I’ve no idea what the announcer was wearing, but you know it had to be upper class twit tweed.  And the way he crisply enunciates each syllable – The Ev-er-est of ath-let-ic-achieve-ment – you can practically smell the tea and crumpets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Never accept a ride from a strange man, and remember, all men are strange.”  [6]

 

 

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May you attain your own personal Ev-er-est of achieve-ment;
May you know “what those words mean” when you are being confronted;
May you smell the tea and crumpets;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Regular or even sporadic readers of the blog will correctly surmise that I hold all the classic feminist/humanist objections to meat market parades “beauty contests.” But for the purposes of this blog and the horrible mixing of yet another metaphor, a gal can always fantasize….

[2] Wouldn’t you have loved to have been my roommate? Although, I did warn them in advance of my early rising habits.

[3]  A can of mace? A strobe light/alarm/pepper spray device?  Or the ultimate “feminine protection” – an extra strength tampon which transforms into a 9mm Glock?

[4] We are currently a four-cat household.  I know…I know.

[5] Or as relatively safe as any creature is in an automobile.

[6] Second wave feminist quote; source disputed.

The Ides I’m Not Bewaring

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Beware the Ideas of August.

That was an honest typo.  I’d intended it to read, Beware the Ides of August.  My Train O’ Thought ® was knocked off its track…hmmm…might as well hop on the next one.

What are, for me, the ideas of August?  There is one, and it keeps repeating itself:

 

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What’s for dinner, you ask?

Why, it’s bibimbap, you lucky diners, you.

Wouldn’t you opt for something called bibimbap?  Even if you could choose from:

☼  Cedar planked grilled Chinook salmon with huckleberry sauce
☼ San Francisco cioppino seafood stew
☼ Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
☼  Lemon garlic roasted whole Dungeness crab

The next time I make cedar planked salmon I’ll say it’s bibimbap.  It won’t actually be bibimbap, of course.  Nomenclature, schmomenclature – I call the right of nouvelle-fusion cuisine, which means I can give it whatever appellation I want.

Here’s what bibimbap (bee- beem- bahp) actually is, when it is not doing a cedar planked salmon imitation.  Bibimbap means “mixed rice” in Korean.  Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish, and there are as many bibimbap variations as there are Kim Jong Il [1] and Kim Jong Un jokes.

The dolsto bibimbap variation uses cooked rice, crisped in sesame or other oil in a heavy-bottomed pan in the oven or on the stove, as a base for a variety of toppings: steamed or roasted vegetables, plus tofu (plain or steamed or sautéed) and/or a meat or seafood item or fried eggs.  Veggies are arranged so that adjacent colors are complementary…or in whatever pattern that suits the cook’s mood…to form a visually pleasing presentation.

 

All ingredients are mixed together just before doling out the individual servings.  Or, everyone can sing a chorus of “We Are the World” and eat from the same pot.

On second thought, skip the singing part.

It’s summertime, and bibimbap seems like the perfect dinner dish to incorporate the abundance of fresh veggies we’re getting from La Finquita del Bujo, our CSA.  Besides, I like saying bibimbap.  I like thinking it, too (bibimbap!).

Family and future dinner guests, you have been warned.

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Calling the Dream Interpretation Squad

Dream dateline: my high school reunion dinner.  I was seated at a table with three former classmates, with whom I’d had a passing knowledge/acquaintance-type relationship (i.e., I didn’t know them well at all, and vicey-versace).

I had been receiving treatment for cancer of some kind, and had shaved my head before the reunion, as I didn’t want to be shedding hair into our bibimbap  lovely reunion dinner.

 

The electric razor I’d used was defective; thus, I did a really crappy shave job, especially near the nape of my neck, which was covered with blotches of hair.  I explained the reasons behind my unique grooming to my tablemates, and was unnerved by their reactions.  They seemed (1) very happy to see me, (2) very happy to hear that I had cancer, (3) even happier that my scalp looked like it was the  don’t try this at home warning photo for a depilatory fail.

 

Like this, only much, much worse.

*   *   *

Excuse me.

It’s like a nervous tic.

bibimbap!

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In last week’s post I mentioned my morning walk/listen to podcast routine. These walks sometimes put me into a contemplative or ruminative state of mind – I find myself chewing the mental cud, so to speak.

 

Ego ruminant, ergo sum [2]

One day last week I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast which wandered around the topic of whether tithing to one’s church makes the tithers happy. This particular topic had sprung from a question submitted to Freakonomics by a listener, “J. ”  On the show’s website, the Freakonomics hosts described their treatment of the topic:

J is in effect asking two questions, related but separate. One is whether giving away money – in this case, to a religious institution – makes you happier. The other is whether religion itself makes you happier. Neither question is easy to answer, but we’ll do our best.

Excuse my momentary digression of a critical nature: that particular Freakonomics show did a piss-poor job of “answering” either question, IMHO.  Yo, Freak dudes – don’t go throwing around a self-descriptive like “best” with regards to that show.

Anyway…distracted as I was by the Freaks wandering around the topic, I began to wander around it moiself.  Here is a bit of  my meandering, on that Marianas Trench of a topic: what religious institutions are and what people “get” out of them.

Churches are bibimbap.

 

DAMN !!!  This has got to stop.

Churches are habituaries. [3]  As in, churches are places wherein one becomes habituated to churchy ideas. Churches are places where one becomes habituated – wherein one adapts to and even becomes comfortable with – intellectual and communal ignorance.

Beliefs which you’d consider absurd at face value [4]  (and do consider absurd, if they are coming from a different habituary [5] )  or if you encountered them in any other venue – it is your church’s job to make you get used to them…so used to them, you often forget they are even there.  You sing the songs, repeat the liturgies, without thinking about what you are saying and without considering, is this plausible?  Is it true? And, if your church is successful at this most important of churchy tasks, you accept what is taught or said within the church without applying the kind of reasoning you would to any other statements that purport to explain reality.

Whether or not you take your religion’s teachings, rites and practices “literally,” your church (temple/mosque/ashram/Celebrity Center/Chrystal Vibration Shakra Retreat Lodge) is a place where you become inured to recitation of falsehoods about, and absurd explanations for, the natural world.

I think this is especially true for habituaries filled with liberal and/or nominal believers, [6] many of whom join a church so that their children may attend the church’s private school (e.g., if the local public schools have a bad rep), and/or because they want some kind of churchy experience so their children can be “exposed to religion,” and/or because they enjoy the social club aspect of church attendance (churchy term: fellowship).  These parishioners aren’t primarily church-going for the theology; thus, they tend not to pay much attention to it, past mouthing or acknowledging certain religiously correct platitudes (“god is love; we are all god’s children.”).

And churches and the people inside of them can get away with this, because religious teachings, rites and theologies are protected by a bizarre kind of social and political immunity – under the umbrella of “religious faith” –  from having to offer rational, objective proof  [7]  (“here are the reasons we do/believe this”) for their beliefs and proclamations.

Of course, many folks eventually figure out that it’s all a bucket o’ hoo-haw, but continue to show up for the potlucks.

 

“Another fucking egg salad casserole – they promised there’d be bibimbap!”

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May your weekend be habituary-free and ideas-laden, and may the bibimbap  hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Good news: Kim’s dead. Bad news: it’s not one of the Kardashians.

[2] I chew, therefore I am. All due apologies – me pardoner,  M. Descartes.

[3] Yes, I’m inventing that word, but necessity being mothers and all, it needs to exist.

[4] Christian habituary: all-powerful sky god sends his unborn son on a suicide mission to Earth, via impregnating a human female in some supernatural way, and Earth female births a baby who is both Sky God’s kid and Sky God himself, and Sky God junior is born on Earth ordained to be killed (even though he is Sky God, and therefore immortal)….

[5] Mormon habituary: Joseph Smith found golden plates containing divine revelation written in a strange language, which Smith translated by placing a seer stone in his hat and looking through his hat, at the plates; Muslim habituary: Muhammed ascended into heaven on some kind of mule or donkey-like creature, where he and other prophets chatted about prayer rituals; Scientology habituary: Zenu, dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, brought billions of his people to Earth 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them with H- bombs, which caused the immortal spirits of those aliens to stick to present-day humans and cause mental and physical harm ( even going so far as to force them to watch Battlefield Earth).

[6] Fundies, is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

[7] “Because our magic/holy book sez so” is not proof.