MH and I return from six weeks overseas, to find our country in the toilet – make that the outhouse, as toilets weren’t introduced until the late 1800s and six members of SCOTUS seem determined to flush us back to the Middle Ages. And now we’ve a diabetic cat on death row….never mind that depressing development.
First, reflections on July 4.
Department Of Generosity Of Spirit…Yeah. Right. Get Back To Me On That.
Here is my social media post on July 3.
“So, what are your plans for the 4th?”
That’s the usual question around this time of the year, and while MH and I may do some grilling and gather (read: commiserate) with friends, I am boycotting the Fourth of July as a celebratory holiday this year, and asking y’all to consider doing the same.
Our constitution is, unfortunately, elevated to the status of a sacred document by some folk. While many of its precepts were progressive for its day, it was flawed from the beginning and is showing its age. The fact that business as usual under its governance has allowed the cabal of cheats and liars and loons to institute their medieval theocracy ideals…. I just don’t think the USA deserves a birthday celebration this year.
Please join me in taking a knee on July 4, and wherever and whenever you are presented with flags and anthems and other bitter reminders of our false claims to liberty and justice for all.
* * *
Department Of Further Reflections From Little Miss Sunshine
As for the day itself? Meh.
“For some strange reason, people around the world have decided that the best way to mark important holidays and events is…by blowing things up.
Most of us are aware that fireworks are dangerous: we either know someone, or know of someone, who ended up in the hospital emergency room due to fireworks, but most people are completely unaware of the more insidious environmental damages and health impacts caused by fireworks…..
Fireworks create… a toxic fog of fine particulates, poisonous aerosols and heavy metals…that poison the air, the water and the soil, making them toxic to birds, wildlife, pets, livestock — and people….”
( excerpts from “Festive Fireworks Create Harmful Pall Of Pollution,”
Forbes, science section, 12-31-19 )
The neighborhood’s pyrotechnics started sporadically in the late afternoon, gradually increasing in uniformity and intensity around 10 PM, and were finally, mostly, done by midnight. As our cat Nova cowered under our bed, moiself reflected, not kindly, upon my fellow humans’ obsession with that most wasteful and destructive means of “celebration.”
The world is on fire,  so yeah, let’s celebrate with incendiary devices spewing even more pollutants into our air, and as a bonus, we can terrify all the dogs and cats and nesting wildlife….
Why they were celebrating at all, I kept thinking? Don’t they realize what is happening in in their country? Or maybe they do, and just don’t care, or think it’s too late: We keep destroying our liberty and our planet, so what the hell, eat drink and be merry (and start another wildfire, what the hell), for tomorrow we may die.
The next morning I encountered this scenario during my walk. Over the years I recall seeing people cleaning up their post fireworks debris by hosing down their sidewalks and streets, sending the contaminated mess into the sewer system (and eventually into our streams and wetlands).
* * *
Department Of Last Week’s Distractions
Last Friday, the first new blog post after returning from 6+ weeks of travels, moiself had intended to post some travel reflections, only to become distraught distracted by…shall we say…current events. Such as these headlines
“SCOTUS Justices ‘Prayed With’ Her —
Then Cited Her Bosses to End Roe.
“A right-wing evangelical activist was caught on tape bragging that she prayed with Supreme Court justices. The court’s majority cited a legal brief that her group filed while overturning Roe v. Wade”
( Kara Voght & Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, )”
I shall attempt to return to reflective mode, by allowing moiself to share some impressions gathered during MH’s and my overseas travels.
First of all, why is everyone sarcastic when they find out you’re going on a trip? And by that I mean the comment moiself kept hearing, as our departure date neared, that I should “have fun packing!“ Is packing, for anything, ever *fun*?
Once again, I digress.
The trip’s timeline – both the original plans and the changed itinerary after we got COVID – is in the previous post. What I didn’t mention was the bag of 100, 1 ½ inch rubber chickens which accompanied moiself on my journey.
Each day I hid/placed a chicken in a “public” spot. 
from a hotel or Airbnb dresser drawer,
to a crack in the leg of a theater seat in Stockholm’s Drottingholm Palace grounds,
to a potted plant in an Oslo tapas restaurant,
to a crack in a rock wall on on a rock wall on Strangehagen Street in Bergen…
in the hopes that someone, some day, will find it and think to themselves,
“Uh…what is this, and why is it here?”
* * *
Things Scandinavians do better than Americans:
* toilets (both in businesses/private residences/public WCs)
* Public transportation systems
* Hospitality & service industry 
* Public art (both the amount of and access to)
* Cod 
Things Americans do better than Scandinavians:
* ADA access (from businesses to museums and public buildings)
* Vegetarian/vegan burgers
* Extra pillows in hotels and/or Airbnb rentals
* Decaf 
* * *
Department Of Missed Opportunities
Certainly one of the cultural highlights of the trip was our visit to the Iceland Phallological museum in Reykjavik. Iceland was the last country we visited before returning home, and so as not to be schlepping gifts all over Scandinavia I informed certain folks that I would return with souvenirs for them from Iceland – read: most likely from the Phallological museum’s giftshop (“You’re all getting dicks!”).
But while the museum itself was interesting and informative, the vast majority of the items the gift shop carried were…regrettably, not. More along the line of tacky joke shop items designed to make 11-year old boys snicker. But I did manage to purchase and then fit several bags of penis-shaped pasta into our luggage.
Then, much to my disappointment, upon our return to the USA we sailed right through Customs at PDX. One customs officer asked us if we had any apples or oranges in our bags (from Iceland?), but that was it. I was so hoping for the classic question, “Do you have anything to declare?”  which I had planned on enthusiastically answering,
“A bags of dicks!
Officer, I declare I have bags of the cutest dick pasta you’ve ever seen!”
* * *
Department Of Even Plant-Based Eating Moiself Still Doesn’t Get This
What’s the point?
Just lick the mayo/aioli/butter off the spoon and get it over with.
* * *
Punz For The Day
Penis Pasta Edition
What do you get when you mix a penis, a potato, and a boat?
Why is it so easy to distinguish a penis apart from a testicle?
There’s vas deferens between them.
On average, how much does a circumcisionist earn for his services?
Sixty dollars an hour, plus tips.
A husband says to his wife, “I bet you can’t tell me something that will make me both happy and sad at the same time.”
The wife thinks about it for a few moments and replies, “Your dick is bigger than your brother’s.”
* * *
May you think about how (and why) you celebrate a National Holiday;
May you enjoy Icelandic cod and American veggie burgers;
May you have the opportunity to declare to a customs agent, “Dicks!”;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 “The past seven years have been the hottest in recorded history, new data shows Global temperatures in 2021 were among the highest ever observed, with 25 countries setting new annual records, according to scientists from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth.” Washington Post, 1-13-22 )
 The rules I set for moiself: it had to be hidden in a place where someone could theoretically/eventually find it without trespassing on private property, it could not do damage to its hiding place or surroundings (e.g., jammed in between and thus widening the cracks in a museum artifact).
 Better pay for workers; little to no tipping expected (or sometimes even allowed).
 Iceland excelled here. Norway, surprisingly, dropped the ball when it came to cod. Notice I didn’t say, “dropped the cod ball,” because that would be…ick.
 Decaffeinated beverages do not seem to be a thing, and woe unto you who asks for decaf coffee.