Department Of My Work Here Is Done
Can anything match the parental pride such as that experienced by moiself, when son K’s first reaction upon reading the name of the offender in the news article, Serial flasher gets long sentence for exposing himself… was, “It’s the role he was born to play.”
“Washington County Circuit Judge…handed down a sentence…to Michael G. Dick, who pleaded guilty to two counts of felony public indecency…”
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Department Of Spending Too Much Time Thinking About
An Existentially Inconsequential Concept.
.”…these dogs beds are not your typical slabs of foam covered in polyester. They are true inner spring mattresses that provide unparalleled back support and proper spine alignment for dogs of all sizes….”
I can’t remember if it was on an earlier HB episode or a different podcast where I also heard an ad for Saatva dog beds, in which it was claimed that a Saatva dog bed is the mattress “your dog deserves.”
This sterling example of the sentimentally manipulative capacity of marketing got me to wondering: How can a dog *deserve* a certain kind of dog bed?
transitive verb: to be worthy of : MERIT
(“deserves another chance”)
intransitive verb: to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or requital
( from Merriam-webster online dictionary )
I can understand a dog wanting something (a tummy rub) or needing something (a drink of water); I can understand a person wanting or needing something for their dog (a trip to the dog park; a leash). I can understand a person rewarding their dog for a specific act – with the reward directly connected to the act so that the dog understands that it did what was asked of it (e.g., giving the dog a treat for obeying a command to sit or heel…), and thus you can say the dog “earned” or merited the treat.
But how does a dog merit a piece of furniture that will be given to it – *must* be given to it (it’s not like the dog can take its Mastercard and go to Petsmart) – by its human?
I don’t know about that superlative. A dog meriting a bed is perhaps not the greatest mystery. But it does get me to wondering, about other mysteries of life and human behavior (this dog bed thing has everything to do with human motivations and almost nothing to do with dogs), including….
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Department Of Existentially Consequential Concepts Which Deserve All The Time In The World To Contemplate…
Despite My Doing So Not Making A Damn Bit Of Difference
Sub-Department Of I Blame Vladimir Putin,
…including the fact that beloved friends are going through a grueling Something which has afflicted them, for reasons unrelated to them personally and/or anything they may have done. Like Putin vis-à-vis the Ukrainians, there is this Something out there which is trying to torment and kill them, for no rational reason.
The cosmos is full of beauty and wonder and misfortune and pain, all of it unevenly and randomly distributed. Understanding this phenomenon is the key to equanimity…along with being able to tell the truth in all circumstances. Say, this is dreadful, when it is dreadful; cry when you have to and laugh when you can.
Moiself knows that disease organisms, like all primitive of life forms, just do what they do: try to survive and replicate. Got it. But, dammit it, you flaming asshole tumors, pretend for one nanosecond that you have sentience. Get some self-awareness here: if you kill the host, you die, too, HELLO !?!?!?.
We humanist/religion-free folk know that such afflictions are not personal: we know we’re not being punished when illness and injury occur, nor are we being rewarded when we somehow avoid or recover from the same calamities which afflict others. Still, as human beings; we suffer when hurt. At least we are spared the suffering from cognitive dissonance and the mental gymnastics that come with trying to live with and justify concepts such as karma and fate and believing the existence of deities which are supposedly all-powerful and thus *could* choose to alter the Something…but simply *don’t.*
So, we can admit upfront that contending with lethal illnesses et al sucks, as in,
“This is massively, putridly, ginormously, donkey-dong sucking….”
….even as we live in a world where, come yet another day, there will also be the mixture of the profound and the mundane to be appreciated, in, say, the sight of the morning dew sparkling on the araneus diadematus’s web, which she’s anchored between the raspberry bushes and the recycling bin. And neither phenomenon – the simple but stunning example of the splendor of the natural world, and the specific ordeal of the illness we battle in that same world – is one we either caused or merited.
The late great Roger Ebert, noted film critic and freethinker,  shared his thoughts about his then-imminent death in his blog post, Go Gentle Into That Good Night. This was during a time when Ebert’s mental faculties were as sharp as ever despite his body having been ravaged by both his disease and the treatments for that disease. His perspective is one that is shared by many humanist/religion-free thinkers. It is a lovely meditation (excerpted here), the entirety of which is worth reading and rereading, no matter what your worldview is regarding your own mortality or that of a loved one.
“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear… I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris…
I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.
To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
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Department Of Because I Was Trying To Avoid Something I Need To Work On,
And For Some Reason Had A Flash Back To This Topic
That topic, broadly speaking, would be co-worker relationships. Most of us have had a combination of ups and downs in that category, but have you ever had a coworker for whom your mere presence was apparently so annoying that it motivated them to play a petty (but delightfully so) prank on you?
Last week my remembrance of one such “relationship” resulted in a FB post from moiself. And now, my social media secret is revealed: the main reason for almost any story I post (or tell at the dinner table) is related to what inspires 5-year-olds to play doctor: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. I love to hear and read the stories of others, so I share one of mine, as a prompt.
“Okay, it’s another thinly disguised story prompt (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours): please share any similar stories you may have re a really poor relationship you had with a petty, nasty, bigoted, misogynist, and/or just plain stupid coworker, which led to an amusing incident.
Here’s mine: On my first day back on at second season of a summer job (Disneyland; The Hungry Bear Restaurant), one of the kitchen crew clicked the play button on a mini-cassette recorder he had in his pocket, and serenaded me with Elton John’s, ‘The Bitch is Back.’ “
And dammit, although I got comments, for the first time no one shared a similar story. 
As you can imagine, this workplace incident didn’t happen out of nowhere. A friend requested the backstory; and so: 
At the end of my senior year in high school, anticipating the need to earn college tuition money, I began working weekends at Disneyland. I obtained “seasonal” worker status, which was the status of the majority of my male and female coworkers with whom I shared summer shifts at Disneyland’s Hungry Bear Restaurant (HBR).  Once we were hired by The Happiest Place on Earth®, if we seasonals worked the entire summer season and at least one other holiday season (winter or spring breaks; Thanksgiving…) we were guaranteed a job for the following summer.
The serenader in question – moiself will refer to him as Kid Rock  ( who wasn’t a thing then, but if he had been, I think my serenader would have been a *big* fan ).
Kid was a boor from the moment I met him. His square-jawed face’s limited repertoire of expressions were all variations of a smirk, and he oozed dumb jock attitudes and mannerisms. Moiself initially experienced a wee bit o’ guilt for judging him at first glance, until my second, and third, and one hundred seventeenth glances and encounters (as well as my observations of his interactions with others) confirmed my stereotyping assessment astute perception of who and what he was.
With his male coworkers, Kid was constantly jockeying for position, ingratiating himself with his kitchen shift managers, and attempting metaphorical pissing matches with the other kitchen guys.  He considered himself to be above his peers (although they were all doing the same job, at the same pay scale), even as he courted their respect (or fear) for being a “player,” with an edgy (read: mean and stupid) sense of humor. The nice guys in the kitchen crew (and there were several) earned Kid’s contempt, because being a nice guy meant being well thought of by the HBR females (we were “the girls,” of course).
No surprise, Kid also had a binary way of relating to the HBR females: they were either objects of his sexual desire or not worthy of it. His preferred mode of communication with female co-workers was a combination of peacock preening, barely-masked sexual come-ons, and furtive insults (aka, “jokes”). He got giggles from some of the girls, but, as I observed, those girls seemed to be giggling to mask their unease, and trying to prove that they could “take a joke” and weren’t prudes. If Kid’s thinly disguised sexual banter was rejected by a girl, he’d let it be known that he hadn’t really wanted her at all – he’d just been trying to make her feel better, because she was unattractive. I saw him behave this way with *every* female at HBR, with the exception of one of the counter area managers, whose slight but noticeable physical disability effectively neutered her in his eyes.
And, as was typical of many guys of the time (even the not-so-loathsome ones), when Kid complained about his male coworkers he was able to do so using specific language re what bothered him about their actions: they’d been slow on the grill, had been late to their shift, had burned a batch of onion rings, had neglected key steps in their closing shift, had acted too passively, or aggressively….. Any complaints he had about a female coworker came under the cover-all of critiquing her very essence, with no particulars as to behavior: “She’s just a bitch.”
Kid’s attempts at titillating braggadocio didn’t impress moiself (SURPRISE !), and I limited our interactions as much as possible. Whenever possible, I ignored him. Therefore, of course (and, yay!), he had to announce to one and all that he didn’t find me appealing. But that wasn’t the end of it. It took me awhile to figure out the source of his irritation with moiself because I didn’t spend much time considering it – which was, for him, the issue. He seemed continually annoyed by my lack of interest in what he had to say, about anything.
In Kid’s eyes, I had committed the worst sin possible for a female: I’d indicated, not by saying so but by merely not engaging with him, that I had no interest in his opinion of me. I did not wear his taunts and insults as a badge of honor (as did a couple of my bad ass, feminist HBR colleagues), I simply stopped hearing them. I realized for the first time what it meant to hold someone beneath contempt. Strong emotions, including contempt, require effort and time to maintain. To moiself, Kid was just…macho flotsam.
I did not engage Kid in the repartee – playful, and with occasional double-entendre overtones – that I did with the “nice guys” and my female colleagues. We were all mostly within three years of one another, age-wise; naturally, there was workplace banter and casual flirtation and good-natured kidding bordering on insults. With regard to the latter I punched up, never down, with both male and female colleagues. The few guys who harbored a nasty streak stayed clear of me, after one of them, the Assistant Shift “Chef,”  tested my limits on my first week on the job. He did this with (what I later found out was) his standard routine with which he teased the new counter girls:
Assistant Shift Chef summoned me to the kitchen area, informing me that it was SOP to give counter girls a tour of the kitchen facility, even though they’d be working out front (later I was told that he always did this “tour” with others present, as having an audience was a key component of his routine.) Under the pretense of wanting my opinion about a possible flaw in Disneyland’s chef’s apron design, which seemed to have pockets and a seam or something no one could quite figure out, he reached down, fingered the outline of his crotch, and ask Newby Counter Girl ® moiself, “Do you know what this is?”
I’d been informed re the HBR hierarchy on my first day at work. Despite his title, Assistant Shift Chef had no authority over me (or any female HBR female), so I decided to go for it.
“Hmmm.” I assumed a wide stance, one hand on my hip and the other slowly stroking my chin in a gesture of solemn deliberation. “Wait; don’t tell me, this is familiar…Oh! I know! It looks like it a penis, only smaller.” 
Assistant Shift Chef guffawed heartily, as if he had collaborated with me on the joke. Still, I noticed (and savored) the nanosecond of terror and humiliation which flashed across his eyes, just after my line sunk in and before his crew began to whoop it up.
Once again, I digress.
The first day I returned to HBG for my second summer season (after my freshman year of college), I was delighted to see that several of my favorite seasonal employees had also returned…oh yeah, and there was also the Kid. Although, maybe he’d been there all year? I can’t remember if Kid had been a year-round employee or was another seasonal worker (all of whom were college students – the idea of Kid in any institution of higher learning never occurred to moiself).
Anyway, Kid had obviously been alerted to my return. He waited at the rear of the pack welcoming me back, and after the rest of us had exchanged greetings, he removed the mini cassette player from his pocket and pressed play. This time, I was the one with the genuine smirk on my face.
* * *
Department Of Entertaining The Donations Dude
Dateline: Monday; 1:30 pm-ish; Goodwill donations center. The guy helping me unload the donations from my car engages me in small talk about the current mugginess and upcoming weather forecast. I hand him a bag full of books; he points to a book at the top of the bag, whose title is something like, Staying Sane In An Irrational World.
“Well now, what’s that about?” he asks.
“Who knows,” moiself shrugs. “It’s a book of empty pages.”
* * *
Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
* * *
May your pets somehow obtain the furniture (you think) they deserve;
May the book of your life not be filled with empty pages;
May you live long enough to find out that which makes you happy;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Ebert, who grew up Catholic, chose not to define his religious beliefs, saying he is not an atheist and not a believer. He clarified his religious views in a blog post called “How I believe in God.” He said, “I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist — which I am. If I were to say I don’t believe God exists, that wouldn’t mean I believe God doesn’t exist. Nor does it mean I don’t know, which implies that I could know.” (from Roger Ebert entry, ffrf.org )
 Perhaps there were none to share; perhaps all of my FB friends have been beloved (or at least tolerated) by even the most neanderthal of their colleagues.
 Thanks, RU, although I’d already considered sharing more of the details.
 Which, as more than one dissatisfied patron told me (as if I were responsible for the name or had any influence in *any* Disneyland policy) : “Shee-it, girl, this ain’t no restaurant, this is a burger and fries joint.” Or a glorified fast food place, with no table service…aka, in Disney-speak, a “quick service eatery.”
 I am happy to report that although I’ll never forget his face I cannot recall that co-worker’s name (nor would I used it in this space, even if I did remember it).
 At that time, D-Land’s various food attractions staff were sex-segregated with respect to responsibilities: males in the kitchen, running the fryers and grills and stocking the food wells, and females upfront – the “counter girls”, taking the guest’s orders, receiving payment, and “boxing” and giving to guests the food and drinks.
 I can’t believe that title (chef?) was given to the dude who was in charge of the run-the burgers-through-the-grill machine line.
 A thousand thanks to seventh grade PE teacher Mrs. Ewing, who suggested a version of that response to flashers and other harassers.
 “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists. No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.” Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org