Saturday, June 24, 2017

Politics: A Family Affair

What's in your DNA?
It's all in the blood. Or maybe the DNA. All I know for sure is that families share diseases like kindergartners share colds. While my family certainly had its ailments, they were all different: A variety of cancers, a couple of strokes, and early-onset Alzheimer's keep me guessing about the eventual cause of my inevitable demise. But one friend of mine has been having an annual colonoscopy for years after colon cancer struck her mother, two aunts and several cousins, while another friend is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, following in her sister's footsteps.

Sadly, every one of my husband's blood relatives suffers from the same severely debilitating disease. By sheer luck, Mitch is the only one who did not get this gene, which even his own identical twin brother inherited. It's called by many names, but for our purposes here I will use the lay term: Rampant Liberalism (RL). It robs people of their senses, making them incapable of discerning truth from falsehood or understanding their own blindness to reality. They are resistant to any other way of thinking, approaching each political situation only after arming themselves with the nightly script from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow or the morning's instructions from the editors of the New York Times. They absorb misinformation from all the late-night comics who, lacking talent and imagination, simply distort all things Republican and mock President Trump for laughs.

My husband's nephew, a family member with an extreme case of RL who still possesses a keen intellect, was our only hope for stopping the disease. Could weekly applications of fair and balanced reporting one day save him, and his descendants, from an increasingly narrow-minded dotage? But then last week it became clear that his RL has worsened and he is now in the later stages of disease. He recently wrote on Facebook: "Every time Greta Van Susteren's ad comes on MSNBC I turn my tv off for a bit. JUST IN CASE my smart tv reports back, I want someone to know that even her ads lower ratings."

Besides his disturbingly incorrect usage of capital letters, his blatant unwillingness to entertain another point of view is the clearest indication his disease has metastasized. Another post stated, "If it takes updated guillotines to do it, the next Democratic president needs to crush the aristocracy and return the power and wealth it has stolen to the people." Obviously his irrational fear of capitalism has radicalized him, and he is now calling for chopping off the heads of the wealthy. Clearly, following his brother, several aunts and cousins, and even his own father, he is spiraling downward into a serious decline.

Our son shows all the signs of the disease but may in fact have a milder case, possibly tempered by my contribution to his genetic makeup. He is at least open-minded enough to acknowledge there might be another side to things. I hope for his sake that eventually a cure will be found, freeing him from the horror of RL's locked-in thinking that closes off fully half of life's possibilities.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Between the Ears

I often wonder what other people are really thinking. Like when their lips are moving and they are saying ordinary, expected things, like about the weather or their weekend plans or what they had for dinner last night, surely other things -- better things? -- remain unspoken. Of course this is not always true, and some people just have a vast nothingness between their ears. Personally I long for the vast nothingness, but it escapes me; there are always random thoughts bouncing inside my brain, and far too often they are of little import. Like right now, here's what I've got going on:

overpriced organic watermelon
dead 22-year-old
cats should speak English
too many bug bites
prunes work
another day
hummingbirds are freaky
I miss dead people (must re-read Our Town)
buy better shampoo
thank god for coffee
no blog post today

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Confounding World of Snowflakes

Years ago, sexual harassment meant the boss came up behind you and grabbed your derriere, or cornered you in a supply closet and tried to kiss you. This occurrence was fairly commonplace for any reasonably attractive woman dressed in the style of the day, which was basically miniskirts and knee-high boots. I had my share of unwanted attention from male superiors and co-workers alike, but I never sued anyone. I was never raped or traumatized in any way and, except for one time when I was 17 and had to call my father to rescue me, I always managed to handle the situation on my own.  

Times certainly have changed. The lead story in today's Wall Street Journal concerns the forced ouster of Uber head Travis Kalanick from his own $70 billion company for sins related to being a bad guy. I read the article carefully but still never learned the details of those sins. Intrigued, I plunged into the veritable ocean of information on the subject available online. Turns out Uber's "bad culture" has several prongs, the worst being its male-dominated management team that regularly engages in sexual harassment of the company's female snowflakes -- oops, I mean employees.

One reported example of sexual harassment at Uber circa 2016 was a woman being alerted by a female co-worker that their male department manager had admitted he "could not look her in the eye" whenever she wore a sleeveless tank top at work. As I see it, she had three options: Never wear sleeveless tank tops at the office, not care if the guy looked her in the eye as long as she was paid for doing work she enjoyed, or quit the job at Uber.  She did none of those, instead choosing to stay put and blog about the horror of working there.

Do not wear this to work....
Another female Uber employee was upset because her male manager had sent her several chat messages inferring he would like to have sex with her. Rather than feeling flattered that he found her attractive while calmly rejecting his unrequited interest, she found his suggestion "vile and reprehensible" and filed a harassment claim with the HR department, then was upset when all they did was give the man "a stern talking-to." In my day, when women were not snowflakes but rather snowplows, the offended party would have personally delivered the "stern talking-to" to the offender, and in no uncertain terms.
.... at Uber.
My son, 29, explained recently that the term "snowflake" was born from the fact that "every one of them is unique." Others have suggested harsher definitions, inferring that today's young adults are as delicate as snowflakes and melt at the slightest touch. I am not endorsing either definition, just presenting the facts as I have heard them. And I'm shaking my head in bewilderment over today's young women who are so squeamish when it comes to sexual attention, but worship sexually explicit celebrities like Britney Spears and Beyonce, who performs half-naked and spits out lyrics like these:

I love your face You love the taste That sugar babe, it melts away
Can you lick my skittles That’s the sweetest in the middle Pink that’s the flavor Solve the riddle
When you’re thirsty and need love I give it up ’til I’m empty babe
Bringing work up on top of me I’mma let let you be the boss of me I know everything you want Give me that daddy long stroke
Ooh get a glimpse of this candy paint Don’t slip off when it drip off on top of ya right

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Bucket List Worth the Trip

The Lost City of Atlantis surely has no Starbucks or McDonald's.
My husband bugs me constantly to make a Bucket List. He is worried that since I am old (i.e., older than he is) I could die before I get to places on the planet I wish to visit. The thing he can't accept is that A, there are no longer places on this planet I wish to visit and B, even if I visit them I will still die and C, it's not worth the hassles of travel to end up somewhere you don't speak the language with a Starbucks outside your hotel window and a McDonald's down the block, where you might even be  blown to smithereens by a crazed radical Muslim (yes, everyone knows that most Muslims are very nice and peace-loving, I am talking about the bad ones who do all the bombing and mowing down of crowds with vans). 

The truth is I actually do have a bucket list but it's sadly unattainable. Still, I would willingly spend weeks packing with a smile on my face and never complain about the long flights and bad air and uncomfortable seats on the plane if I could end up at any of the following:

Grover's Corners
Jurassic Park
Mt. Everest
Emerald City
The Moon
1930s Manhattan
Palisades Amusement Park

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Just Unplug Me

A sad fact of life: Things that plug in often break down.
On March 14 of this year we bought a new refrigerator. I hated it then and have hated it every day since, and today it's hating me back. Actually it started hating me back before today but I wasn't paying attention, distracted as I was by living my life. Serving our guests some tepid ice cream the other night, I thought just the freezer was being cranky, but seeking breakfast this morning I suddenly understood that the whole dumb box is broken.

Okay, so it's not a dumb box, it's a so-called "smart" appliance outfitted with a digital strip along the top that usually reports the temperature, only today it says OFF, just in case we humans are too dumb to notice that the inside of the big box is warm and all the eggs, meats and dairy products have spoiled since the damn thing walked off the job two days ago.

At times like these I envy the pilgrims and pioneers and even the cavemen (and cavewomen and cavetransgenders, and of course the caveallies and cavequeers), who depended only on themselves and not the service department at Agren Appliance. For starters, they would probably not have more food on hand than they could eat in a day, so spoilage was not a problem, unless they killed a huge animal, at which point surely they would have put it on ice or buried it deep inside a root cellar or come up with some solution that did not plug in. Either way, they never had to sit around waiting for the appliance repairman, who by the way can't get here until Thursday afternoon between two and five because there are so many other people ahead of me with broken things that plug in needing fixing.

Okay, sure, this is a problem that the homeless do not have. I understand that. I am grateful for having a home, and also for anesthesia and most especially Novocaine, or whatever they use these days, but still, it pisses me off that I just bought half a dozen yogurts and some really nice cheese and now they're all ruined.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ancestry Dot Com

A few weeks ago I sent away for one of those DNA kits that reveal your ancestry. Apparently with just a swab inside the cheek, suddenly everything makes sense. Once hazy self-doubts come sharply into focus, since finally knowing you are 10% of this and 40% of that nationality will answer so many questions. I saw on TV where one guy traded in his lederhosen for a kilt!

Anyway, I have to say I was pretty surprised with my results. I was expecting 50% Russian and 50% Polish, but here's what I really am:
40% French Roast
25% Greek Yogurt
15% Chinese Takeout 
 15% Italian Chianti
5% Swedish Fish

A Sticky Situation

Even though I voted for George W. Bush twice, and even though I wrote in John Kasich last election, I care about the planet and the environment and all that stuff. To that end, I am known to recycle with a vengeance. This means that every Sunday I collect the various small trash bins we have around our house and then, before dumping them into our big outdoor trash cans for pickup Monday morning, separate those things that can be recycled. I usually find empty tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls and plastic containers, but today, in our bedroom waste basket, I found a surprise: a folded dollar bill.

Knowing we are not wealthy enough to discard money, I retrieved it and upon unfolding it found a wadded piece of chewing gum inside. "Huh," I thought, "that's weird." Since I don't chew gum I approached my husband, who admitted that yes, he was familiar with it and would take full responsibility. (At least that.) As I howled in horror, and possibly even shrieked  a few times -- it's all a blur now -- Mitch offered up the following explanations:

"Something bad happened to that dollar."
"I didn't know you go through the garbage. If I did I never would have put it in there."
"I don't really know how it happened."
"I never thought you would see it."
"I put my gum on a piece of paper but then somehow it got onto the dollar."
"I think I found it like that in the middle of my car."

If any of you out there are in dire financial straits, you might want to give Mitch a call. Apparently he's throwing money away.