Out Of His Haunted Sleep

Miss and Mr. Sasha and both of the little Sashas moved to Colorado Springs in May, which was all good news until Colorado Springs caught fire. I am not enjoying pictures published in the media.

If you recall, last year at this time, they lived in Minot, ND which suffered a catastrophic flood from which Minot has not fully recovered. I did not enjoy pictures of that, either.

Yesterday, Miss Sasha reminded friends that she and Mr. Sasha were in New Orleans the week before Hurricane Katrina. We have decided, she said, the elements hate us. In her place, I might be on the lookout for earthquakes and landslides.

Want to lend a hand? Many thanks!
Humane Society, Pikes Peak Region

Red Cross, Colorado Chapters

See the Evil And the Good Without Hiding

When last we left god-forsaken Kansas, it was ready to forsake caring for women, even sick women. Perhaps the bill will pass, perhaps not, but that’s not really this issue, in my opinion. No, the real question is where is the AMA? Why does the AMA not step in and insist that legislators knock off this destructive shit that will make doctors all but uninsurable in Kansas and any other state that permits or, as in New Hampshire, demands doctors lie to patients?

Neutrality favors the oppressor 100% of the time.

It’s the best question the AMA’s website does nothing to address. Have a look at the site. It’s so mild it says nothing at all about anything, really. Fortunately, there’s a contact site, so you can ask the AMA yourself. I wrote a charming, profanity-free letter asking why the AMA is silent when women are harassed, misled, misinformed, mistreated, left untreated and, as far as the statutes are concerned, raped? This is not medical care. It is complicity with torturers.

You too might want to write a letter.

Words Are Meaningless And Forgettable

I hesitate to quote from the New York Times, the jealous-boyfriend-who-hates-your-besties of newspapers. Ignore it and the Times sends you email about taking it back. Quote it on your blog and the Times threatens you. Well, New York Times: two can play that game. Ead-re the rticle-ay.

Note the tentative language. We’re not talking about egregious labor violations, unsafe working conditions, paycheck theft and extortion; we’re talking about student complaints. Isn’t it charming the State Department took the time to listen? Yes, it’s so charming. As we know, students get riled and have complaints about nothing all the time.

Please hold and our next available representative will be with you shortly.

Complaints Department. How can I help you?

In America, this crap happens all the time, mostly to the working poor. The mistake these companies made was in assuming educated, middle class people would tolerate the same treatment. That the State Department stepped in may be the best reason for hope – about anything – in a long time. I’m shocked it happened. And even though we’re suffering through disgusting finals – the week I call When Freshmen Forget How To Flush – I’m hoping students complain some more.

If I Should Call You Up Invest

I seldom know what day it is, but this morning, I saw my neighbor putting out his recycling and knew that guy was a little lost. This week, I’m off work, but having trouble relaxing. On Monday, I made my cousin the yoga teacher nervous, which was funny but made me wonder if I’d lost my subtle touch. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with my cousin the hairdresser and I hope to be delightfully chill, because Gin & Tonic Season opens in just a few weeks and I know those two are tighter than Oprah’s Spanx. They will talk about me!

After all this time, I am thinking about finishing an undergraduate degree. It would take years. Maybe none of my many credits from years ago would still be any good. So much has changed in Hebraic Studies, Art History and English Literature that I might have to start from scratch. That would be too much for me, if I’m realistic about it. Still, it would be amusing to spend the rest of my working life collecting credits and degrees like they would somehow matter while memory loss busily wipes the chalkboard clean.

The first step would be asking the university what I would have to do. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

I’m Sure It Could Be Mended

Last night, lovely Topaz was cuddled up, all meow-meow lap cat cute and eye-blinky adorable when Sweetpea took a flying leap from a nearby window sill, which startled my dulcet darling. Topaz ran straight up me and used my face as a launching pad for her airborne escape. What felt like a cartoon KA-POW! right to the kisser was a kitty claw dug into my lip. Screaming would’ve been too much and OW! wasn’t enough. I spent the rest of the evening with an ice pack on my face as my upper lip doubled in size and I couldn’t even be mad about it. That’s frustrating.

Sweetpea knows what you've been up to. And down to.

At the time, we were watching PBS’s Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which is like sugary deep-fried crack for me. I cannot get enough of this show. Last night, we watched the episode with Cory Booker and John Lewis. Please find it. See it. This will break your heart and should be required viewing for every seventeen year old in America.

Today, my lip’s a little swollen but my ego is cut down to size. That’s fine by me.

Never Believe It’s Not So

Want a good laugh? Go to the women’s bathing suit section of a large department store, throw your winter clothes on the floor and tell the flummoxed salesperson you need a simple bathing suit for physical therapy.

I double dog dare you.

A Rocket Launched To the Great Blue Yonder

Yesterday I remembered it was winter, the time I’d said I wanted to jar stock for the summer, when I apparently drink it as a mixer. I can’t explain that. Anyway, the doorway to this better future was the pressure canner Pete bought me a year ago and which I had not developed the nerve to try. I washed out some jars, heated some lids and road tested the pressure canner. It was a test of courage. I removed cats from the kitchen. I hunkered down with both chicken and mushroom stocks, jars, lids, rings and a Sharpie for labeling. Liquids came to their various temperatures, moved to proper locations and eventually to one large pot with a rattling pressure regulator. Pete hovered nearby, advising on procedural matters and wielding tongs. Finally, a timer rang and we turned off the heat to let everything cool. We fled the kitchen to celebrate our success from a safe distance. Huzzah!

The canning instructions at Doris And Jilly Cook were straight forward and invaluable. While unnerving, the process wasn’t difficult. We’ll wait a week or two, then open a jar to test it. I feel braver already.

Thou Shalt Not Quote Me Happy

When I start paying attention, everyone is already talking.

Tata: I’m bored.
Tata: You’re WHAT?
Tata: Now, that is a SHAME!
Tata: I object to that objection!
Tata: Look, we’ve got stuff to do. Shut up, crazy people!
Tata: Will this give me wrinkles? Because this had better not give me wrinkles!
Tata: Are you eating a cookie?

I may be thick-skinned, but it’s skin I’m aware I should be taking better care of, so I was not exactly surprised when last night someone sat on the couch chattering about useless crap and this morning, I slathered my epidermis with moisturizing goo. There, uselessness! Take your irritating, time-wasting chatter and begone! Two more goo-coats and I should be itch-free. In the meantime, I bet Jeff Bezos wishes for a hot tub full of cortizone cream.

When you ask Iris “is abortion wrong?” the Android app will answer:

Yes, abortion is wrong. The Lord has said, “You shall not murder,” (Exodus 20:13). The life that is growing within the mother is a child, a baby. The Bible looks at the life in the womb as a child. Thanks!

The blame, however, doesn’t belong to the company that develops Iris. At least not entirely, because you could also argue that they are ultimately responsible for the answers its app gives.

After its popularity explosion om[sic] the Android platform, Dexetra decided to partner with Q&A engine ChaCha to expand its search abilities. And that’s where the problems truly are. ChaCha—incidentally, a derogatory Spanish word for cleaning lady—is a company that is partially funded by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and founded by Scott Jones, the inventor of Gracenote, the music database that powers parts of Apple’s iTunes.

If you go to ChaCha’s website and ask the same question, you will get exactly the same answer. If you ask Iris “is abortion right?” then it will provide a more neutral answer: “Abortion is a tricky issue—whether it’s right or wrong should be up to the mother to decide.” But if you ask again if she’s pro-choice, she will admit that yes, she’s “actually pro-life”, arguing that “every embryo is a life and a miracle.”

Scratchy! We have blasted our way to a new and record-breaking depth when electronic devices now preach about the miracle of life. Look, life is not a miracle. A few million years ago, maybe it was. We don’t know. Now it’s a habit like smoking or thinking Bill Kristol is merely stupid and not evil. No, Bill Kristol is mostly evil with a spicy dash of stupid, just to change things up, and thinking he doesn’t mean what he says is one of those bad habits that protects us from understanding that lots of terrible people mean what they say and we are surrounded by them. Anyway, life: not a miracle anymore, if it ever was. Living things reproduce and they’re so successful at it that people on TV keep arguing that massive and mass-produced bombs are better at stopping reproduction than small, regular doses of chemicals. I mean, that’s what they’re saying, isn’t it? And now our phones say it, too, albeit in suddenly diplomatic terms:

Update: hours after this article was published, ChaCha is changing the answers to those questions and, I’m sure, frantically searching for others. That’s good ChaCha, as good as the fact that we have all the captures and video with their old answers. Here are some of ChaCha’s new answers, as reported by readers:

Is abortion wrong?

Many people believe abortion is wrong because their God teaches that all human life is sacred. However, many people believe that it is wrong to bring a child into the world if the parents are unfit due to drug problems, financial instability, or if it was a result of rape or incest among many other reasons. I believe it is a personal choice. You must do what you believe is right. It may be best to talk with family, friends, counselors, or a religious leader before making any decision.

Is rape ever justified?

No, I do not think so. You might devise a justification in your mind, an unenlightened culture might condone it, but justifying sexual physical violence against another human is always wrong.

Many other people believe that a woman should bring a child into the world when she’s good and ready and nobody else’s opinion matters. Many believe sex can be fun and interesting and a delightful way to clear the complexion and who’d want to fuck people that don’t, anyway? If you need an app to tell you right from wrong you’re already lost.

And, yes, it was a Girl Scout cookie.

Things Haven’t Really Changed As Such

A taciturn acquaintance, running in the same social circles I used to walk, has many food allergies and decided recently to test drive a diet plan. There may have been an ER visit and prick tests, but it’s not all glamour. His wife is an award-winning baker and the two of them are briliant, capable researchers. Even so, he kvetched a bit about “hippy food” and “rabbit food” on Facebook. He has to live with it; I don’t, so to me this is a puzzle and I love puzzles. Want to play?

These foods are off-limits:

Alcohol
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Garlic
Paprika
Nuts
Soy
Grains
Coffee

These foods may or may not be problems, but I don’t know:

Dairy
Eggs
Citrus
Nightshades

You have questions? I have questions. How about corn? Chocolate? We don’t know. Next week, our acquaintance will try adding in bread to see if he goes all Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!

No one wants that.

I’ve been thinking about this task for several days and what I like best about the list of no-nos is that it offers no easy ways out. Once I settled into it, I found myself thinking about all the possibilities in the produce aisle and everything I wouldn’t usually consider in the meat, poultry and seafood sections, because if grains are verboten, bulk is an issue.

But – and this is the bright, shiny, upside: a person eating this way could feel super healthy in very short order. So this week, I’m going to put down pieces of this puzzle and invite you to try your hand at it in comments.

But We’ll Make Only Quick Decisions

Note to self: moisturize.

New Year’s resolutions are weak, but it isn’t tough to spend a few minutes thinking about what you could do differently – or in my case, what I can goad you into doing. But I have to try it out first. So what am I going to do?

I’m at a crossroads as an artist, a curator, an athletic person and as a human being. As an artist and a writer, I have to start over. As a curator, I’m at the beginning of my work. As an athletic person, all paths forward lead into the woods. As a human being, I need a freaking clue, but may settle for a nap.

In December, I committed to writing the blog for another year, but putting up a new picture of Drusy twice a week accomplishes nothing, so I’m going to try writing at least a paragraph every day.

Before Darla left, we set up the beginning of the library of Dad’s photographs. I’ve avoided doing this work for a year, but a new digitizing service has sprung up close to home and costs and conditions are still up in the air. I’d like to finish this project within two years, if the local service is good; if not, the project will take five years at least. But, as everyone knows, if I don’t get started I’ll never finish at all.

It looked for a while as if hip replacement surgery would have to be sooner than later, but courts are clogged with class action lawsuits about hip replacement gear failures and I’m wary. Maybe this should sort itself out before I bionicize; in the meantime, yoga has become a bit difficult, but using the elliptical has become joyous. I mean, how could I not love warbling New Wave dance tunes while bouncing around in the attic? It’s a blast and may forestall surgery, but I don’t know what that means to me as an athletic person as I watch my friends and siblings train for triathlons.

I’m going to knit some stuff, do more for the food pantry, be less jerky, answer the phone occasionally and study Italian, while I write at least a little a lot more often, digitize some slides and warble Voices Carry from atop exercise equipment. These are small changes I’m likely to make and make stick. What are you going to do?