Sunday, October 22, 2017

Gray and Gritty Navel Gaze

It happens to everyone. You look at the weather forecast, you look at a weekend from the perspective of a balmy Friday evening, and you plan a project.

You know the kind of project I'm talking about. I'm talking about one of those simple and easy projects that will take a mere four hours and have lasting benefits to the old domicile. In this case, I thought the weather was perfect to spread a little waterproof deck paint on the front porch floor. Our handyman recommended a brand of porch paint that would help to preserve those pesky floorboards that always have to be replaced because the weather falls on them.

So, after a late breakfast on Saturday morning, Mr. J and I headed to Home Depot to purchase said paint and some rollers.

Don't know about you, but I hate Home Depot. I hate all stores that have more than six aisles. I hate all stores that you wish you had a bicycle to navigate. In a smaller subset, I hate stores with bright colors everywhere. Target? Oh my bored gods. All that red! Home Depot is the same way. Who woke up one morning and said, "Let's make a hardware store and swathe it in ORANGE?"

Next time I'll stick to Sherwin Williams.

So we went to the Orange Hellhouse and found the kind of paint that was recommended. We had it mixed to a nice charcoal gray and chose medium gritty for better traction. We figured one gallon would certainly cover a front porch. Little did we know.

Have you ever used deck paint? I opened the can, and I couldn't decide whether I was looking at paint or a charcoal-colored chocolate mousse. The stuff wasn't just thick. It was mud pie thick. It was marsh muck thick. It was so thick that my trusty edging brush (with which I have painted three large interior areas) said, "This is where I go to die." And die it did. Alas, poor brush! How well I knew you!

The way to use deck paint is:

1. Dip the brush in.
2. Move it two inches across the wood surface.
3. Repeat.

The stuff didn't want to spread itself around. It didn't behave like paint. It behaved like cold butter on a slice of bread.

I sucked it up and kept trying. After about three hours I had the whole porch edged, including under the railings. The steps were edged. The problem areas were daubed. And I was almost out of a gallon of paint.

Mr. J, who had very helpfully told me what to do before going off to nap, had to go back to the Hellhouse to get more paint. Then I tried to roll the deck. Each trip to the rolling pan yielded a whopping two square feet of rolled paint. No one told this paint it was paint. I still think it was a stinky gray cake batter pretending to be paint.

Four hours into this four-hour project, I was halfway finished. I had one-coated the porch ... and the directions on the paint can explicitly said two coats.

Guess how I was planning to spend my Sunday? I'll tell you: reading the New York Times and puttering in the garden. Instead, Sunday became a repeat of Saturday, including another trip to the Orange Hellhouse for a third gallon of paint.

I ruined two rollers and my edging brush that, as I have already pointed out, was in my trembling hand the night Donald Trump won the presidential election, being at that time put to use on a hall closet door. Oh, I didn't mention that?  This brush and I had a relationship. I believe in nurturing paint brushes. If you looked at my paint brushes at the end of a long and grueling interior job, you wouldn't know that they weren't brand new.

Two hours in the gray gritty mousse, and it was adios, edging brush. Another hour of spreading cold butter on bread, and the porch floor looked streaky but protected. The paint dried like concrete. Two rollers bit the dust. (This was equally painful to me. It is possible to have a long term love affair with a paint roller if it is treated with tender loving care.)

By this time, it was 3:30 on Sunday afternoon. Instead of puttering in the garden, I raked and clipped at an aerobic pace. Then there was the laundry that had been sitting in the dryer since Friday evening. Mr. J was sent off to another massive Rhode Island-size store, this one being Wegmans in all its mustard-painted splendor. He brought home some ready-made food ... and that was my weekend.

Back to work Monday morning, with a manicure of gray grit as a memorial to a totally lost weekend. Five more days until I get to try again.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Do You Know These Gods?

Out here in the Great Blue Northeast, an online resume company named ZipRecruiter.com is very popular. Job seekers can give your email to ZipRecuiter, and if you give a fuck really care about the seeker, you can leave a nice reference. Just this week I warmly endorsed a longtime colleague who is transitioning her career.

This can have its downside, though.

The first ZipRecruiter.com request I got yesterday was from EndodaWorld (see below). Apparently he saw an opportunity, pegged me as a sap, and put his bona fides online in search of praise and worship (and a hot shower).

Then this ashen deity must have recommended me as a hopeless sentimentalist to all his forgotten buddies. Today I was deluged with requests from ZipRecuiter. And the whole thing made me question the wisdom of my forebears regarding religious matters, let me tell you.

Do you know any of the following deities, and, if so, can you give me some deep background before I serve as a reference?

1. BigDiq

2. Shoutnstomp

3. Death Dodger

4. Tardigrade

5. Beelzebabble

6. Mister Softee

(Okay, just kidding about the last one. That's the ice cream truck.)

But for all I know, none of these deities is worthy even of driving an ice cream truck. Never heard of any of them! Why are they cheeky enough to reach out to me for a reference?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with a Bored God: EndodaWorld

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Oh by all the fruit flies on the watermelon, there's a wild bored god here tonight! He's dressed in animal skins, and he looks pretty dusty. Thank goodness he's content to sit on the floor! I showed him how to use my can opener (I'm old school, I've got a hand-held), and he's opening all the cans in my pantry. Which is, yes, annoying, but he looks kind of hungry.

This deity doesn't speak anything like any language living or dead. Luckily I have Dr. Google. Dr. Google knows everything. It appears that this god is EndodaWorld, sacred to the extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely ancient peoples of the Fertile Crescent. Hard as it is to believe, Dr. Google can actually translate this diced-tomato-fixated deity for us.

Anne: Please, EndodaWorld, have another can of tomatoes! (aside) Glad he likes 'em, I'm too tired to bake a pie.

EndodaWorld: What are these delicious things?

Anne: Tomatoes.

EndodaWorld: Why didn't my people have these?

Anne: Hmmmm. Oh, I know the answer to that! Your people lived in the Old World. Tomatoes are a New World plant. Europeans didn't have them until Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

EndodaWorld: Who is Columbus?

Anne: Some dude. Oh! Ummm, Campbell's soup is better if you warm it up.

EndodaWorld: I don't see a fire.

Anne: I'll get right on that. So, EndodaWorld, tell me about yourself. What's that powder you're wearing? Looks like you fell into a vat of talc.

EndodaWorld: This? It's the stuff that fell out of the sky. For ten years.

[Anne takes a gentle dab with a Q-tip, gives the dust to Dr. Google.]

Dr. Google: Volcanic ash.

Anne: Wow! This fell from the sky for ten years?

EndodaWorld: Sometimes it came down dry, sometimes it came down wet. Either way, it killed a lot of people and a lot of gods.

Anne: How did you survive?

EndodaWorld: I didn't have to survive. I got hired after two years of famine by priests who blamed all the old deities and promised I would get this whole ash thing under control.

Anne: So that was after two years. What happened by Year Eight?

EndodaWorld: I got fired. It was a short tour.  My praise and worship team mostly died.

Anne: Guess you could say they bit the dust.

EndodaWorld: I beg your pardon?

Anne: Never mind. Totally tasteless joke. So let me understand. Some volcano erupted and spewed ash into the air for a decade, and it wasted a lot of people all over the place. I guess animals too.

EndodaWorld: Animals, plants, insects. It got very, very quiet. The people who wanted to survive had to migrate and fight for a spot in the areas that didn't get the dust.

Anne: Was your praise and worship team living in the shadow of this volcano?

EndodaWorld: What's a volcano?

Anne: Whoa! Ash falling from the sky for a decade, and you didn't even live near the volcano? Dr. Google, can you shed some light on this?

Dr. Google: This deity was briefly worshiped during the catastrophic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera super volcano 645,000 years ago.

Anne: EndodaWorld, you are officially the oldest deity I've ever had the pleasure of meeting! Probably by a factor of ten.

EndodaWorld: Let's not talk about ten.

Anne: I read just the other day that the Yellowstone Caldera could fire up and erupt with just a few decades notice. It could happen any time. And you're here with an evocative name, warning me that such an eruption would be the end of the world.

EndodaWorld: Exactly.

Anne: Except it wasn't.

EndodaWorld: Who are you to argue? I was there!!!

Anne: But if it was the end of the world, there wouldn't be any people anywhere. Or animals, or plants, or insects. But we've got plenty of all of those things.

EndodaWorld: Well, Miss Priss, let me tell you: If you had been there in my time, you would have felt like it was the end of the world!

Anne: I daresay. And if that scary super volcano erupts in thirty years, it will certainly be the end of the world for me. But not for everyone. So long Anne, Mr. J, cats Beta and Gamma, beloved daughters, entire population of Philadelphia ... but not the human race. EndodaWorld, you've got to admit that some tribes of humankind survived the decade of ash rain.

EndodaWorld: Didn't do me any good. I've never gotten even a nibble on my resume, from then until now.

Anne: Speaking of nibble, could you please forego that last can of black beans? I need those for my soup.

EndodaWorld: But .....

Anne: Oh, never mind! Munch away!


I'm going to take a lesson from this hungry bored god. Apparently the shit hit the fan, and people stuck in the catastrophe blamed all of their gods and dumped them. The people drafted a new god, but that god couldn't fix the problem. In fact, it must have gotten a lot worse. Now, what does that remind me of?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thalia Paints Goddesses

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," still and always dedicated to deities who have too much time on Their hands! What happens to a Goddess when Her praise and worship team falls apart? Can you imagine the stress? Eternal life is so unfair!

There's always an upside, though. A Goddess who has plenty of time on Her hands can sit for an awesome portrait. That's where Thalia Took comes in.

Thalia has been painting portraits of Goddesses since before I started blogging. Her work is phenomenal.

Where do I start? I think my personal favorite Thalia Took portrait is Sedna.


But look at this one of Artemis!


Stirring, no? Let's jump pantheons again!

and again!


Freyja is here for you, Yellowdog Granny!

Thalia has an absolutely amazing web site, where you can see all the bored Goddesses you ever heard of, and many more that get absolutely no press at all anymore. In these particularly trying times for American women, it's nice to be reminded that there are Goddesses just lining up to help us all out of this mess.

Thalia has a patronage link called Patreon. I had never heard of it, but you can basically pledge her a little sum of money that helps her buy nectar and henna and incense and other things that Goddesses crave. If you sign on to Thalia's Patreon account, you can pretty much pat yourself on the back that you're championing the cause of bored deities. (She does male deities too, at least some of the decent ones.)



So, in honor of getting 202 followers myself, I'm asking you to biff on over to see Thalia and all the fabulous work she's doing! Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Bully Forgets. The Victim Doesn't.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I believe it. How else can I explain the fact that I have attended quite a few high school reunions?

A few weeks ago I went to yet another class reunion for my old alma mater, The South Will Rise Again High School. You know the one. Our mascot was a Rebel soldier, and the school song was Dixie. I do not even exaggerate. (I heard that just recently the school changed its mascot and song. High time.)

Anyway, I've gone to my share of these reunion things, and they are always the same. Most of the people even look the same, which is pretty amazing given the number attached to the reunion.

When I was in middle school, I was bullied quite a bit. In those days, boys taunted smart girls for being too smart, and girls taunted girls over perceived flirtations with boys. I got tons of the former and a little bit of the latter.

In 1970, I had one conversation with a kid in my sixth grade class, and his girlfriend did not stand for it. She organized her posse, and they knocked the crap out of me when no one was looking. It would have happened again, except that the next time they got me in their sights, my dog was with me. He put an end to that bullshit just by suggesting he was going to bite them.

Free advice: You never go wrong adopting a mid-sized mutt.

Whenever I go to my high school reunions, the girl who bullied me is always there. She dropped out of high school, but using a marriage to one of our grads and a lot of revisionist history, she now presents herself as a bona fide diploma-holder from SWRAHS.

And she always comes running up to me and wraps me in a bear hug and asks me how I'm doing.

This baffled me in 1997 and again in 2007. Now it is 2017, and I have learned a lot about bullying from being a high school teacher.

Turns out bullies often forget all about their behavior, if they even perceive it as bullying at all. Did you know that? It surprised me to learn that.

One other thing I learned as a high school teacher that I already knew: Victims do not forget being bullied. They remember names, places, and events in stark detail.

And so, every time this former bully female comes running up and bear-hugs me, I stiffen and exchange the minimum pleasantries, while coyly suggesting that I don't recall her graduating with us. She always says she didn't have the money for senior pictures, so she isn't in the yearbook.

This conversation has been repeated three times: 1997, 2007, and 2017.

Will I be insane enough in 2027 to go back to another of these ridiculous beer-fests in an obscure Moose Lodge on the edge of the Potomac River? Gods! Make me sane! I'm never going to forget that bully, and she will never remember why.

Monday, October 02, 2017

People Are Dying: Trump Is To Blame

Today one of my students told me that her grandfather is in harm's way in Puerto Rico. With no lights and nay to contact authorities, citizens are facing crime along with a scarcity of every basic necessity. "Three people were killed right near his house," she told me. I have no doubt. This would happen anywhere if people couldn't get clean water and food.

According to the man in the White House (he calls it a "dump"), Puerto Rico should just suck it up. According to him, they're just waiting around for someone else to do the dirty work.

Like this.

And now we have a mass shooting that dwarfs the casualties in most Vietnam War battles. It's beginning to look like Americans are safer in Afghanistan than they are in Las Vegas.

But of course, we have every right to our precious guns. Our festering sore of a president ran on a promise of assuring everyone their Second Amendment rights.

As I've said before, this used to be a humor blog. Oh sure, I've always had my say politically on this page ... but betwixt and between, I interviewed bored deities, wrote about my daughters' antics, and pined for my Appalachian homeland.

Seems like another world, that.

Not my president.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Modest Proposal for Puerto Rico

Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? I have, and it is beautiful! I've seen the rain forest, and old San Juan, and some of those beaches that look like a commercial for a tropical vacation. I saw pineapples growing in the fields!

Add to this nostalgia the fact that about 15 percent of my students are of Puerto Rican origin, and you'll understand that I truly care about that island.

So, here's a modest proposal for Puerto Rico. Gods know our horrible leader won't heed it -- he's too busy blaming the citizens for not being plucky enough to fix their own power grids.

It's this very power grid that I want to talk about.

From what I hear, Puerto Rico is pretty much a blank slate at this moment when it comes to electrical power. And the power infrastructure was already really poor.

What if we used this tragic opportunity as a way to transform Puerto Rico's messed-up grid with solar and wind? What if we put solar cells on the roofs of houses and set up wind and solar farms instead of the other power plants? Nothing is going to save PR from bad storms (especially moving forward), but perhaps a more localized source of power generation could be repaired and brought back to work more quickly.

I don't know the first thing about power grids. But I do know that when something breaks so catastrophically, it offers an opportunity to try implementing the most cutting-edge technology, just to see how well it works.

My modest proposal won't matter. Poor islanders! When what they should be getting is a star on our flag, they will be getting cheap and shoddy workmanship, third in line behind Florida and Texas, and the dregs that FEMA and the military have left over from other disasters.

Might be different if presidential elections were decided by majority vote.

Readers, if you feel moved to help the citizens of Puerto Rico and you want to donate at the source, send me an email and I'll give you my address. I have a mentee at my school whose mom is going to PR next week. Her family there has asked for Home Depot gift cards. If you send me one, I'll give it to her.

My email is   annejohnson17211 at gmail dot com.

If you don't want to go through me, I beg you to help the island. If you've ever been without electricity for a day or water for a hot afternoon, you can maybe begin to imagine what those people are going through. Then again, none of us has ever had cholera.

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Admiration for Kneeling Athletes is Boundless

On Sunday, Mr. J and I went to see the Baltimore Orioles. We are both huge Orioles fans.

EXHIBIT A: TWO WHITE PEOPLE AT THE BASEBALL PARK


I did something at that game that I have never done before, ever.

I refused to stand for the national anthem.

I've been working with minority teenagers since 2005. I've been teaching them full time since 2009. Let me tell you this, right up front: I cannot stand in their shoes. The gods know I wouldn't want to.

This country is a land mine for people of color, for young Hispanic kids and Dreamers. They're very observant, and smart, and they can see the truth -- how everything is arrayed against them from the day they're born. Don't tell me about affirmative action. It's more mythical than Zeus. Even when minority kids work twice as hard as their Caucasian peers, they are starting out (many of them) with all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle strikes against them. The strikes follow them right into adulthood. If they live to be adults.

This is where our nation's athletes step in.

EXHIBIT B: THE GREATEST

You want to see courage? Check this out. It's a wonder he lived to pulverize people in the ring.

I'll bet you already knew that Muhammad Ali was stripped not only of his boxing title, but was barred from the ring for three years at the very prime of his career. It's not like he had a trust fund or anything, either. He lived off the kindness of friends, even his opponents for three damn years.

When other people have to worry about their families and their paycheck-to-paycheck salaries, professional athletes can make strong statements about what the world is really like for people like them.

EXHIBIT C: NO FLAGS BURNT, NO PUPPIES HARMED


This is, to me, one of the most compelling photographs of the 20th century. These are American athletes who won running medals in the 1968 Olympics, and they are listening to the national anthem. Is this the frivolous gesture of someone trying to be glib or cute? BAMP! No. Is this a despicable desecration of the greatness of America? BAMP! No. This is a dignified protest of racism. May all the deities of all the pantheons salute these brave men. Because they needed to be brave. They got savage treatment after this incident.

EXHIBIT C: NO SWASTIKA, NO FLAG BURNING, NO FOUL LANGUAGE


So they played the national anthem, and these guys knelt. They were making a statement about police brutality. They are visible members of a minority population in this country.

To me, there is nothing disrespectful to our soldiers, living or dead, in this gesture. (Has anyone asked African American veterans how they feel about this? BAMP! No.) There is no desecration of the flag. There is -- mark my words -- no foul language and no violence urged upon anyone.

I didn't hear these athletes call any policemen sons-of-bitches and demand that they be fired. Did you?

EXHIBIT D: THE REAL UNPATRIOTIC DISGRACE, AND A STAIN ON THE HUMAN RACE TO BOOT


So this guy goes to Atlanta, gathers together some 10,000 of his fellow racists, and dares to call these gracious and principled athletes sons of bitches. How dare he? A man who wouldn't even rent apartments to minorities! Now he is manufacturing prejudice and hate. Whoa, finally successful at manufacturing something.

Everywhere I look on the Internet, I see white people in outrage at the disrespect inherent in kneeling for the national anthem. Readers, I don't know about you, but swearing from a podium and calling for honest, hard-working minority men to be fired is far more disrespectful than kneeling during a song.

One last piece to this rant. We at "The Gods Are Bored" are all about bad form. If our NFL players flipped the bird at the flag, or mooned it, or trampled it or burnt it during the course of a game, I would call that disrespect. But since when is kneeling so damn disrespectful?

EXHIBIT E: SUCH DISRESPECT!


I guess it's a-okay when they do it like this.

The moral of this sermon is simple: Far from being disrespectful, athletes who kneel during the national anthem are exercising their constitutional rights to free expression. They feel keenly the plight of their less fortunate brothers and sisters and want to make a statement about it. Gods bless America that they can't be locked up, tortured, and killed for this behavior! (Even if the Ghoul in Chief wants it done.)

Until the menace Donald Trump leaves office, I will not stand for the national anthem. Nor will I say the pledge of allegiance beyond the first sentence. This is not one nation. Liberty and justice? Ask Colin Kaepernick about justice. It's too late to ask Muhammad Ali.

If I hear the "Star Spangled Banner," I'm going to take a knee and pray to the bored gods to save our land, now, before it's too late.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Free Advice on Getting Your Letter to the Editor Published in the (Not Fake) New York Times

Did you know that the New York Times was in publication during the Civil War? I did some research on the Battle of Antietam, and by golly, the good ol' New York Times had several correspondents right there in the thick of things.

It wasn't fake then, and it's not fake now.

That sound you hear is the buttons popping on my vest. Ten days ago I wrote my first-ever "Letter to the Editor" to the New York Times, and against all odds, they published it -- and first in line!

I'm an old-timer who likes to get her news in paper format. Imagine my conceit humble pride when I opened Monday's newspaper and saw my letter there, at the very top of the column!

(I had advance notice. The editors contacted me about word choice and length, of course. It's the New York Times, they don't mess.)

The letter is about the villainous Betsy Devo$ and her assault on sexual assault victims. It's in response to an editorial the so-called "fake" New York Times published that actually praised the menace Devo$ for her actions.

And here it is!

So, now you are asking ... Anne, what's your secret? Lots of people write to the New York Times every day!

Ahem ... well ... (twirls the casual coat button) ... my first guess is that, in these days of instant commenting, most people don't bother to write a formal letter to the editor, which first you have to look up the email address (kind of hard to find) and then you have to submit it.

Then, well, I sorta figured the best way to proceed was to lard the thing with every big word I ever knew from my days of bi-monthly vocabulary tests in Mr. Hershey's English class.

Finally, there was the passion. A good Letter to the Editor needs passion. Having had numerous friends, colleagues, and family members who have experienced simple and/or sexual assault, especially in college settings, I felt a pressing need to weigh in.

It's that pressing need that gets 'em every time.

If you ever feel a pressing need to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, keep it short and fill it with big words. You know you can do it. Only smart people read this blog ... so you know you can. You know you can.

Friday, September 15, 2017

An Extra Fairie Festival!

In just a few short weeks, the Spoutwood Fairie Festival will be having its first ever Fall Fairie Fest. In honors of this milestone, I publish below a relic of Fairie Festivals past ... some fun that Olivia and I had when she was still The Spare.

Jabberwocky for the Spoutwood Fairie Festival

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How Do I Stop a God Fight?

Help! Help! It's a deity smack-down in my living room! And one of them is a true expert at ruining furniture!



The bored God Huracan arrived here in New Jersey today, and Cloacina, my dear Goddess, greeted him with the cold fury of a Roman statue!



There's a lot to be said for resting bitch face.

Cloacina was recently charged with keeping our nation's waterways clean, having been given my spare bedroom as Her personal sanctum. She taught herself how to turn on the t.v. with the remote (something I have never been capable of doing). Cloacina, therefore, has watched both Harvey and Irma, nonstop, clicking from Fox News to MSNBC, to CNN and the nightly networks. OMBG, is she pissed!

And here comes Huracan, winded and worn out after a double booking.

Hey, you two, can you take it outside? Cloacina, remember that you shouldn't shoot a gun at a hurricane!

For the love of fruit flies. How can I mediate this thing?

Okay. Okay. Both of you. Take a deep breath and handle this like deities, not roller derby contestants. Thank you.

Huracan, you really outdid yourself. I mean, really really outdid yourself. However (please listen, Goddess Cloacina), You are not responsible for Your ascendant power. Yes, You've gotten larger, and greedier, and more destructive -- which is Your duty and prerogative as a hurricane God. But that level of destruction You're so proud of? How much of it is the product of humankind? Look: they built on barrier islands, low-lying keys, floodplains and in swamps. Places Your original praise and worship team never populated in numbers, out of respect for You. You can't take credit for all this devastation. It's hubris.

Cloacina, I'll bet you know enough Greek to recognize the word hubris.

Now, Cloacina, I know Huracan doesn't want to hear this (especially in His severely weakened state ... just a little mist over Jersey). But those same humans who had their shoreline properties, their boats and their businesses reduced to splinters, will go right back and fix everything up again! Yes, no matter how foolish it is to live in a part of the world that can be leveled by a bored god, people are going to do it. Which means that yes, they will have to boil their water for awhile. (I know, I know how angry that makes you, Goddess!) But they'll fix it. Until the next time. They will. And it won't take long, either. Our government will pay for everything, even though the people asking for the money generally don't want to pay taxes or regulate polluters.

What we have here is a failure to communicate between two fundamentally opposed deities. Huracan was once worshiped as a destroyer, His praise-and-worship team truly fearful of Him, and justifiably so. Cloacina, at the other end of the spectrum, drew all of Her respect from Her willingness to help clean up the human world. Add to that the fact that these two deities are from completely different pantheons from different continents, and you've got a whole lot of area for dissent.

Huracan, you cannot take complete credit for this. Humans are stupid.

Cloacina, calm down. Humans will fix this so they can go on being stupid.

Which means, Huracan, that You'll get many more shots at the same target.

But Cloacina, let Huracan do the shooting! Don't You shoot Him.

Can we just settle down and get along? Tell You what: I'll go get some Chinese carryout and confuse both of You utterly. While I'm gone, don't You dare stain my upholstery!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

A Poem (Not by Me)


Problems with Hurricanes
by Victor Hernandez Cruz

A campesino looked at the air
And told me:
With hurricanes it’s not the wind
or the noise or the water.
I’ll tell you he said:
it’s the mangoes, avocados
Green plantains and bananas
flying into town like projectiles.

How would your family
feel if they had to tell
The generations that you
got killed by a flying
Banana.

Death by drowning has honor
If the wind picked you up
and slammed you
Against a mountain boulder
This would not carry shame
But
to suffer a mango smashing
Your skull
or a plantain hitting your
Temple at 70 miles per hour
is the ultimate disgrace.

The campesino takes off his hat—
As a sign of respect
toward the fury of the wind
And says:
Don’t worry about the noise
Don’t worry about the water
Don’t worry about the wind—
If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And all such beautiful
sweet things.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Do the Gods Hate Donald Trump?

For at least 20 years, climate scientists have been predicting that, with a warming planet, hurricanes would become larger and more frequent. This is not information that was passed to them via a burning bush that didn't get consumed. These are predictions based upon the behavior of wind and water, air currents and storm surges.

Please don't tell the bored deities who visit me for tea and Tastykakes, but I've always been quietly skeptical about Higher Powers. There has never seemed to me to be anything predictable about the behavior of Gods and Goddesses, including the busy God.

Still, you have to wonder.

Never, in my impressive lifetime, has there been two massive hurricanes in a space of two weeks. If you count Jose, that's three, and if you count Katia, that's four. In two weeks.

Keep in mind, this is September. Hurricane season lasts until November.

EXHIBIT A: DO THE GODS HATE DONALD TRUMP?


Is there possibly some agency in this? Chills me to the bone to think so, because a deity who would want to make a point about climate change at this particular juncture would be putting a lot of innocent plant life, creatures, and people in danger. And I'm not just talking about the USA. I'm talking about all over the world. South Asia is being inundated as well. Let's not even address the wildfires out West, or the uninhabitable Caribbean islands.

But if you want to make a point ... if you want to make a point to leadership that denies climate change science and is actively seeking to squelch it ... what could you do that would attract more attention than to fling hurricanes and monsoons around with reckless abandon?

It has been a mere three months and a week since Donald Trump announced that he was pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord. Is it possible, possible, that a bored deity or two (or 200,000) could be so infuriated as to visit the good ol' Wrath of God(s) on this nation?

Okay, it's most likely a coincidence. A predicted eventuality that just happened to follow close in the wake of a boneheaded and despicable pro-polluter decision.

What a coincidence, huh? Wow.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Witches to Evangelists: Not Now, Not Ever!

Philadelphia's Pagan Pride Day is always held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. This year was the first in about five that I haven't attended. The last two years I did a drum circle there. This year it was rainy, but mostly I was just tuckered out from paint crew and teacher meetings. I stayed home.

Occasionally the event draws the ire of Christian evangelicals who, in small numbers, come to protest. Since they don't have a permit to use the park, they are always quickly escorted to the perimeter.

This year was no different, except that the protesters were louder (they had a bullhorn) -- and they videotaped the fracas and loaded it up on YouTube, after carefully disabling commentary.

If you want to watch the blighted thing, here it is. It's about 10 minutes long, and it's sad.

I started to watch it and stopped about two-thirds of the way through. What struck me about it was what the pastor said through his bullhorn; namely, "You witches haven't taken over America yet!"

Yet. Yet?

I'll be the first to tell you that I am participating in a Magical Battle for America, which is, yes, a concentrated astral Work. But the aim is not to "take over America." The aim is to protect and defend the America we hold dear:

*freedom of or from religion
*equality of gender, race, sexual orientation, region, and age
*a fair and balanced judicial system
*equitable tax rates based on income
and last, but not least, for me
*the right to organize peacefully and bargain collectively.

I'm not crusading for one nation under Anansi. I want Anansi to be welcome in the mix!

It's a tired old trope to suggest that your religion is the only true religion, and that anyone who doesn't practice it is worshiping a demon and going to Hell. Truth is, the demons belong to the Christians. Satan is not part of my practice!

So, open letter to you poor, scared Christians out there who fear the nation is about to be taken over by witches, who will quickly and thoroughly re-write the Constitution, institute rituals in the schools, and issue every kid a wand:

Nope. Not interested. Not on the agenda. The Philadelphia metropolitan area has more than six million people living in it. We're lucky if we get 300 folks out to Pagan Pride. Does this sound like a vast stampede for social upheaval?

It especially saddens me to see little kids get dragged along to these protests. What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon! They should be picking apples or riding ponies or watching Dora the Explorer! Teaching children to fear and hate is not productive. It's not Christian, either.

So, yeah, the "prayer warriors" are on their knees for Donald Trump, and some (by no means all) Pagans are in their circles to block him. That's just democracy at work! I don't look at it as a war, I see it as a battle. A battle for what is, not what hasn't happened yet.

Get a grip on something besides a bullhorn, y'all. We just want to drum and hold raffles.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day 2017

I blame myself.

In 1987, I left a full-time, full-benefits job because I moved out of the state where I was employed. Once the company ascertained that I could legally work for them as an independent contractor (some states did not allow this), I kept right on working for them. Without the benefits and on a per-piece basis.

I bought a computer and set aside part of my home for an office. For the next 20 years, I was self-employed. The company that got my work made a better profit on me than on its full-time workers ... so the company moved more and more work onto more and more independent contractors.

This was a bonanza for me for awhile. I had my husband's health insurance. I could make good money. I got to be home with my kids while they were growing up. I loved the work. I wrote four books plus chapters and sections of many others -- all fascinating stuff. The 1990s were prosperous for me.

Then the whole thing slid to Hell.

Competition ramped up for the contracts. The company forced me to incorporate as my own small business. Then I had to start coding my work (another pioneering effort -- I was coding before coding was cool). The fee structure plummeted.  Then another small corporation undercut my small corporation, and I lost all my contracts. That was 2005.

I had helped open the door to the idea that people will work without benefits. That companies could give work to "independent contractors" rather than hire a staff.

I was essentially an invisible scab.

The company that employed me in 1987 should have had a bargaining unit that would have insisted on rules against outside contractors. It didn't. And who was I? A new homeowner and mother-to-be who needed a part-time job. The macroeconomic implications of the work situation never occurred to me.


The cat is out of the bag. Why hire full time and get stuck with all that pesky paperwork and those expensive benefits, when you can get a few part-timers, work them just as hard, and expect them to care for their own health and retirement? Only some bleeding heart would want to see his profits gobbled by insurance payments and paid vacation days!

This scenario? It's coming soon to every line of work there is. Including public school teaching.

I know you won't believe me, but this used to be a humor blog.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

International Vulture Awareness Day

Drop everything! Today, Saturday, September 2 is International Vulture Awareness Day!


Without vultures, the world would be awash in putrefaction. If only they could clean up politics the way they do festering carcasses!


There are vultures in the Old World and vultures in the New World. They are not closely related genetically. They evolved in parallel manner because there's always a nice supply of rotting meat out there, no matter what (temperate) continent you fly across.


Here's Floppy, one of my favorite vultures! See the bald head? It's a cleanliness thing. No feathers to get all matted up with gore as the bird feeds. Ah, evolution! Magnificent.


So, why do we need to be aware of vultures? Well, in both Africa and India, massive vulture populations have been killed off catastrophically. What kills something that eats festering carcasses? The medicines or poisons those carcasses ingested while they were alive. In the wake of plummeting vulture populations, some countries (especially India) have seen a rise in rabies, wild dogs, and other diseases that vultures shrug off like a walk in the park.


Fortunately, there are vulture rehab programs out there. The San Diego Zoo has spearheaded a modest but significant return of the California condor to the wild, wild West. In Africa, Vulpro is working with several species of African vulture. Due to their reproductive behavior, vulture populations are hard to restore. Here's hoping for success, though. Who wants to slog to work through dead skunks and fly-covered garbage?


So, happy International Vulture Awareness Day! Salute the next buzzard you see! I'm talking about a bald bird, not a political boss.

The word of Vulture for the people of Vulture. Thanks be to Vulture.

Friday, September 01, 2017

My School's New Dress Code: A Haiku

Hillary Clinton
Wears pant suits effectively.
It's just not my style.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Things That Go Boom

I am a high school teacher.

My students know that they are in school to learn and that they must finish their assignments well in order to be successful in my class and in the world.

While I'm in the classroom with them, walking around and checking to see if they're working, they buckle down. They pay attention (mostly). They try.

Intrinsically they know they're working for their own good, but the motivation comes mostly from my oversight and encouragement.

Let's suppose I told my students what to do and just left the classroom, fully expecting them to do what I told them to do. How do you think that would go? Twenty-five kids between the ages 14 and 15, all on their own, with some assignment to do. Would they do it?

Ha ha! That's a rhetorical question. Of course they wouldn't do it! Oh, of course one or two super studious kids would work, but the rest would goof off.

Oversight is important.

Another word for oversight? Regulation. As the teacher, I'm the regulator in the classroom. I'm the person with standards and expectations. These standards and expectations are often followed grudgingly by my pupils ... but they are followed, so long as I oversee.

The federal government is kind of like a teacher. Regulations are like oversight. All these businesses calling for less regulation? They're the kids who want to goof off because the teacher is gone. Except they don't really want to goof off, they want to make more money. Rules get in their way.

Maybe you heard that there was a big explosion in a chemical factory in Texas due to flooding. More explosions can be expected. Buried deep in the story is the fact that this company had ten violations recorded last February. This company should have had a fail-safe plan for a hurricane, but hey. This is Texas, land of conservative Republicans.

Now, even the safest and best company will run risks in catastrophic flooding. But companies who have been like kids in an unattended classroom will be more likely to threaten human health with their products and processes ... if there are no rules.

Don't tell me there are too many regulations! If you let the fox mind the hen house, someone is going to get hurt. Maybe a lot of people. Things will go boom.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Postcard from a Bored God: Huracan

Living in New Jersey, I've had plenty of visits from the bored god Huracan, sacred to the ancient Maya peoples. Once, in a fit of pique known as Hurricane Irene, Huracan knocked down three gigantic trees up the street from my house and snarled traffic for days. And then there was Sandy, which He technically didn't do, but still it bore all His earmarks. That was one terrible storm. Did you know it was five years ago, and there are still folks living in FEMA trailers?

The Maya had enormous respect for Huracan. They sacrificed and danced to keep Him away, which meant that He was always on their minds, so he wasn't bored. Now, He's not only not worshiped, He's downright forgotten. Add to this the climate change that everyone except our dictator has noticed, and you've got yourself a hot and bothered bored god.

He is wreaking savage havoc down in Texas, but somehow He took time to send me a postcard. Thanks but no thanks, o mighty Huracan!


Here's the text of His missive:

Well, Anne, that's a fine new president you've got there! He reminds me of Hernando Cortes in every detail. I'm down here in Texas, stirring things up because I'm BURNING HOT, I'm OVERHEATED, and damn if I don't want to pelt things extra hard! PS - I haven't ruled out New Jersey -- the season is still young.
See you soon,
Huracan

I admit I haven't mounted a praise and worship of Huracan for a very long time. I have thought about Him, though. In my mind I have kind of predicted His swelling power, based on the ocean temperatures and extra water and such.

Some of these bored gods aren't nice. They get angry when no one pacifies them. Natural phenomena like climate change can rile them up. If you combine a neglected deity with a rise in global temperatures, you're bound to start getting worse storms than you've ever seen in ten lifetimes.

What's to be done? I can't fix this with a scone and a cup of tea.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Frank Talk about Nude Sunbathing

If I don't write something funny I am going to crawl right out of my skin.  So it's time for some frank talk. For those of you just joining us, frank talk may contain content unsuitable for the teenage set. But maybe not. Poor teenagers! Staring at computer screens all day, when they could be nude sunbathing!

Right up front I'll admit I've done a fair share of nude sunbathing, skinny dipping, and otherwise lolling by a waterside in a state of extreme undress.


The state of New Jersey, population 9 million, has one sanctioned nude beach. It has limited parking, and -- just look at the photo -- you have to trek about a half mile across blazing sands for the opportunity to stare lustfully at gorgeous studly bodies swim without a bathing suit.

I visit this beach two or three times a year, and it's so refreshing! For one thing, what's wrong with the human body? It's nice. Mostly symmetrical, and nature loves symmetry. For another thing, what's wrong with enjoying looking at naked people? Of course you need to be polite and not get into someone else's personal space, but really.

The thing you learn from nude sunbathing is that everyone is beautiful. When you go to a nude beach, you're surrounded by a nice cross section of American humanity. It's refreshing. Since there aren't any other nude beaches, everyone who likes their clothing to be optional must gather in this one space. You get a real multicultural, multi-generational mix. And very few kids. Don't get me wrong, I love to watch kids have fun at the beach. But in these dark times, a nude beach isn't a very good hangout for the tots.

Here's where the frank talk comes in. Our society is so hung up on nudity that, when you get to go naked in public, you kind of want to act out. It's like having the keys to the ice cream truck. Now add the fact that the beach where I go does not prohibit alcohol. ZzzzzZZZZZttt! Sizzling stuff!

And then the iron fist falls.

It's legal to cavort nude on this beach with your strawberry daiquiri clutched in your palm, but it's against the law (with really ugly penalties) to have sex on the beach. I just don't get it. Anyone can stare at a computer screen and see people having sex, but ... wow ... actually see someone doing it for fun and not for profit? God (intentionally used as singular) forbid!

Don't tell anyone, but last summer when I was at the beach, I saw a couple breaking the law. I did not report the transgression, because honestly it looked like genuine fun to me. And it was realistic too! No exaggerations! That's how I like my salacious sex viewing ... three-dimensional, well-intended, and not performed with a viewer in mind.

There is one downside to nude sunbathing. It comes down to how thorough you are and how much attention you pay to detail. When you sunbathe nude, you've got a lot of skin exposed. (Duh.) If you lather on the sunscreen, and you miss a spot, you're going to get bad sunburn. Please don't ask me to provide chapter and verse on how I know this. Suffice it to say that I'm still wondering what I'll say to the dermatologist when I report my summer sunburn history.

So, on a night when a Category 4 hurricane is slamming into Texas, and our president continues his lunatic ways, I can only anticipate sticking my head in the sand while my glorious bare toosh goes on display for the world to see. Off to do some nude sunbathing! It does a body good.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Names Have Been Changed

This blog is 12 years old, and all of that time I have been calling my two daughters The Heir and The Spare. It's what the British press called Prince William and Prince Harry.

Seemed so funny all these years.

But we live in a different time now. I've seen young lives cut short (Trayvon Martin, just one example), and the climate in this country is the worst since 1969. It has always been tempting fate to act as if either of my children was expendable.

How would I feel, using those terms, if one of them came to grief?

THEREFORE, be it resolved, that the names Heir and Spare are hereby retired.

Heir will now be Gumby (because she values her privacy).

Spare will now be Olivia, which is her beautiful real name. If she wants me to add her surname I will, but I must consult her first.

I stayed home from paint crew today, because it's my 33rd wedding anniversary. I'm nothing if not tenacious.

Postscript: The cats will continue to be called Beta and Gamma. They have names too, but they value their privacy.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Moving Saga of the Mutt Named Flip Flop

You know all about motherhood, right? Maybe you have sweet daughters of your own who ask very little of you ... until they ask for something big. This weekend my daughter (new name) Gumby and I went on a waterfall crawl in the Poconos.

Oh, I had the thing all planned out. I researched it, printed out trail maps and gentle walks through leafy glens, leading to brilliant, swishing cascades. Because, you know, I'm a woman of a certain age and getting a little creaky, it's best to adhere to hiking trails described as "moderate."  Being a planner, I had both days scheduled. First some bucolic walks in a New Jersey state forest, then -- the next day -- a gambol called Tumbling Waters across the Delaware in Pennsylvania.

It was getting late on our first day when Gumby and I pulled up at beautiful Buttermilk Falls, New Jersey's tallest waterfall. Take a look. Isn't it fabulous?

EXHIBIT A: BUTTERMILK FALLS, DELAWARE WATER GAP, NEW JERSEY


Now, you say to yourself, "Anne, prove to me that this is really New Jersey!

EXHIBIT B: REALLY NEW JERSEY


Gumby liked Buttermilk Falls all right, but when she looked at the trail map at the base of the falls, her eyes glazed over and a little bit of foam appeared at the rim of her mouth.

Buttermilk Falls, you see, is touristy. It's right by the road, and anyone can drive right up to it and cackle with pleasure. But above Buttermilk Falls is a hiking trail that leads to the Appalachian Trail. Once on the AT, an intrepid hiker can stroll to one of several crater lakes, high and lonesome and picturesque in that oh-so-not-a-waterfall way.

Gumby lost enthusiasm for Tumbling Waters Trail (my planned Sunday outing) and instead expressed interest in an amble along the Appalachian Trail, beginning and ending at Buttermilk Falls. Where even the steps to the observation deck will tire a mortal out.

I had done my research. The Buttermilk Falls Trail was rated "difficult," and most of the hikers who chimed in on it using various hiking sites pretty much confirmed that assessment. Of course, it's the hikers who don't use social media who can be the most arresting:

EXHIBIT C: SOUND ADVICE


Trouble was, this sage advisory was at the top of the trail, not the bottom! And in case you're wondering what a difficult trail looks like in our mild Eastern mountains, here's a little photo I captured of part of the one and a half mile straight up trek.

EXHIBIT D: WHERE'S THE TRAIL?


Gumby can leap up these rocks like a gazelle. Who am I to say her nay? Gamely I followed. And followed. And followed. Eureka! We made it to the Appalachian Trail!

EXHIBIT E: YOURS TRULY, TRANSFORMED BY 6 WEEKS OF PAINT CREW


This is where the mutt named Flip Flop enters the narrative.

Gumby and I were tooling along the AT like old hands, when we spotted a spry, mid-sized mutt sort of standing on the path, looking lost. The pooch had no collar. He started to trot towards us, but when he got close, he changed his mind about making our acquaintance and tore off down the trail. He was a sturdy specimen as are most mutts, and his ribs weren't showing, which meant he probably recently got lost.

EXHIBIT F: REASONABLE FACSIMILE OF THE MUTT FLIP FLOP


On a Sunday in August, the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey is not as busy as a shore town, but there are still a fair number of able-bodied folks. Gumby and I started asking everyone that passed us whether or not they had lost a dog. Other hikers reported seeing the pooch, but no one could get close enough to pet him. What would we do if we did? Take him home and keep him forever? By that time Gumby and I were a good three miles from even the most basic form of civilization.

Gumby and I discussed this as we walked. What do you do when you see a stray dog where no reasonable stray dog would ever stray? And what if the dog didn't want to see things your way and tag along until you could find his person? Long story short, this conversation ended when we followed the Appalachian Trail to a portion that looked like this:

EXHIBIT G: NOT GREATLY EXAGGERATING


Yes, the infamous Appalachian Trail just disappeared down a cliff, and you only knew you were supposed to go that way because one of the rocks way below had a white blaze on it.

Scrabbling up this genuine cliff was a scruffy young bro. He asked us if we had seen a loose dog. We confirmed the sighting and pointed in the direction the canine had sprinted. The bro said the mutt slipped his leash when he got threatened by a German shepherd.

Then, as if it wasn't already bad enough that a little doggy was running lost and scared through the nearly trackless wilderness, the bro added: "I'm dog-sitting him."

Truth, dear reader, is always more compelling than fiction.

Gumby and I continued on our way. We descended the perilous cliff (self reminding self of self's age and status as a provider throughout), and at the bottom was a charming little cliff-free path that led to the crater lake.

Boy, it was a really pretty lake!

EXHIBIT I HAVE LOST COUNT: CRATER LAKE


It doesn't look like something you'd find on a mountaintop, after a death-defying hike, does it? Rather put me in mind of Walden Pond, which can of course be reached by either automobile or on foot from a commuter train station.

While Gumby and I took a load off and munched our granola bars, we heard a great to-do from the cliffs above the lake.

"FLIP FLOP! HERE, FLIP FLOP! FLIP FLOP!"

It was the shaggy bro, calling his dog.

This went on for about five minutes and then stopped abruptly. Gumby and I assumed that a happy reunion had occurred.

I don't know if you have ever been hiking on the Appalachian Trail or one of its link trails. It's not for the faint of heart, especially if you have to go down the same way you came up. Because when it comes to hiking, the only thing worse than climbing rocks straight up for more than a mile is going down rocks for more than a mile. Gravity seems to be saying, "Aha! Another aging Baby Boomer, daring to defy me! I'll push and shove and make these rocks really loose and wobbly!"

It took us about 90 minutes to edge back down the Buttermilk Falls Trail, and I for one was never so happy to see a cheesy observation deck in my life as when that graffiti-laced structure loomed below me like a welcoming beacon. Then it was a mere 100 steps (straight down, of course) to the bottom of the falls, where self quickly shed her beloved and ancient hiking boots and shoved her tootsies in the water ... photograph-snapping tourists be damned.

It was during this blissful toe-bath that I heard another ruckus. Something was happening in the parking lot.

Gumby came running over and said the stray dog Flip Flop was in the parking lot, looking just as spooked as he had up on the trail. I quickly re-donned the footwear and pulled out the smart phone to make an emergency call to the Park Service. But the battery on said smart phone had had enough, and I couldn't make the call. So I went to the parking lot, where other baffled tourists were staring at a car.

The lady tourist said, "The windows are open, and the key is in the ignition, and the guy's backpack is just sitting there! And look! This dog just jumped through the window!"

I looked in the open car window, and there sat the dog Flip Flop, looking like he'd just seen 10,000 ghosts.

Now, if I had somehow managed to drive to the Poconos in my 2001 Saturn, I would most certainly have seen an opportunity not only to care for a dog that deserved better, but also to own a nice, newer car. But I had my 2015 Subaru (which, by the way, absolutely lives for such adventures). No contest. Subaru victorious.

Just at this moment, the distraught bro emerged from the woods. He spied Flip Flop sitting in the driver's seat (no irony there) and heaved a sigh of relief.

"Well, I'm glad I was here to see how this little story played out!" I told the bro affably.

He muttered something incoherent, then something half understandable about dog-sitting, and Gumby and I decided we'd seen enough. We parted ways with possibly one of the most misguided and irresponsible humans I have ever encountered and a city dog with enough smarts to smell his way back down one damned difficult trail to his keys-in-the-ignition-windows-open car.

You gotta love mutts. Even when they're scared, they're smart.

I'm not going to state the moral of this sermon explicitly. Suffice it to say, if you have a beloved pet, do by all means pay a bonded pet-sitter to minister to the animal in your prolonged absence. Flip Flop's scaly saga had a happy ending, but I am not lying when I say that I saw a bear track in the one little bit of mud through which we all passed. If dear lil' Flip Flop was afraid of a German shepherd, how do you suppose he'd feel about an Eastern black bear?

If you've read this far, thank you. We all need to laugh at garden variety morons when there's a bigger-than-garden-variety moron at loose in the halls of government.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Wrong War

Honestly, the Orange Menace at his lowest, basest, and most disreputable, hit on the truth.

When asked what would heal racial wounds in this country, he said, "Jobs."

He's absolutely right. He just doesn't have a prayer or a clue how to get the jobs we need.

You're always going to be able to turn over rocks in trash-filled drainage ditches and find Neo Nazis and White supremacists. But they would be fairly content to dwell under there, sucking on sewage, if they had halfway decent jobs.

And now they do have determined opposition. Anti-fascists are training to fight back literally against the hate criminals. Game on! And what you get, sadly, are real casualties.

Listen, my friends: The anti-fascists are not "alt-left" radicals. They are anarchists who don't believe in any government at all. Can you blame them? Do you have faith in this government?

When I see young men fist-fighting in the streets, shouting hateful slogans, and plowing people down with cars, what I see are workers who don't have jobs. The enemy isn't the other young white guy. The enemy is the ownership class.

All the wealth, all the growth, has funneled right to the top of our society. We have a few people who have way too much money and a ton of people who don't have enough. The problem is that the few are so removed, so insulated from ire by gated, guarded compounds. The few pay "newscasters" to manipulate and re-direct hatred. The few encourage race wars and political divisions. This piles on the insulation for the moneyed class.

The rich always smile when workers fight with workers.

I read in the news that one of the Neo Nazis at the rally was recognized from a photograph. He lost his job. His job was serving hot dogs at a Top Dog restaurant. How frustrating is it to be in your twenties, and the best job you can get is at a hot dog joint? Take that anger, and fuel it with Fox News vitriol against liberals, and you get a person who is furious against the wrong target.

The rich always smile when workers fight with workers. And this fight is joined, and it will be joined because good jobs aren't going to materialize.

We need a solid working class in this nation. People are so desperate for it that they voted, stupidly, for a snake oil salesman.

There are indeed two sides: those who have too much, and those who have too little. Who is the real enemy? We're bashing the wrong heads.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

White Hot Fury over White Supremacists

If you turned 90 years old in 2017 you were too young to fight in World War II.

I know this because my dad was drafted in 1944 but didn't go abroad. The war was nearly over when he mustered in. September 23 would have been his 90th birthday.

All World War II veterans are over 90 years old, except for maybe a very few stragglers who lied about their age. They would be, at best, 87.

And now we have empowered Neo Nazis, marching in the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia.

All the blood, the pain, the loss of life and limb. The loss of sanity. A whole generation profoundly affected by world events. And before the last of them draws a final breath, people in this country are glorifying the very evil that this country opposed!


I'm not even going to start on the Confederate flag, except to say that Sherman should have been more thorough.

In the matter of white supremacy, can I just point something out? Whites are supreme in this country! Their salaries are better than minority citizens, their job prospects are better than minority citizens, their numbers are larger, and they're in charge. You want to see white supremacy? Take a walk on Wall Street and see who's running the world. Look at pictures of our nation's CEOs, strolling together at some exclusive conference. You won't see any minorities there.

The lowest forms of life -- people who blame their own loser status on someone else with a different skin color -- are empowered by our loathsome chief executive, who couldn't bring himself to denounce the white supremacists or the terrorist who plowed through a crowd of counter protesters.

We must resist this. We must stand up against white bigotry and promote the advancement of American minorities. This despicable behavior is unacceptable.

If they came to my town with their damn swastikas and tiki torches, I'd be out there countering them myself.

Donald Trump, go to Hell. And take all your racist followers with you.

Friday, August 11, 2017

My Crush

When the world is in an uproar, it's best to find multiple effective escapes from reality. In my case I have developed a crush.

EXHIBIT A: ANNE'S CRUSH


This is Andy N. Condor. He lives at Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City.

You know, women of a certain age (like me) often get crushes on younger fellas. Not me! Andy is exactly my age! We were born the same year.

I discovered Andy on Facebook, and now I get all of his posts in my "read first" feed. I always comment, and he often likes what I say! Already we have created a virtual bond.

In these dark times, it's good to have an escapist plan of any sort. Here's mine: In just two short years, I'm going to fly to Salt Lake City and meet Andy N. Condor! I'll bet by then we will have escalated our Facebook flirtation to such an extent that I'll have a good long love-fest with him when I arrive at his pad.

EXHIBIT B: DON'T BE JEALOUS


You know, we can't all be Andean condors. They are the few and the special. It's my daily pleasure to flirt with one on the Internet. He's my buzzard Tinder, and at times he keeps me from going insane.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summer Job Haiku

I know how to climb
A 15-foot step ladder
ergonomically

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

What Was I Thinking?

Call it a lapse of judgment if you like. That will do nicely.

I have two daughters, The Heir and The Spare. Neither one of them has a car. Spare has more friends with wheels, which, I suppose, partly accounts for my sympathy for Heir.

I offered to take Heir and her sweetheart to the Jersey Shore for an afternoon. Heir reacted with such enthusiasm that, spur of the moment, I said, "Why don't we go to Asbury Park?"

Maybe you've heard of Asbury Park, New Jersey. There's a music venue there called the Stone Pony. A long time ago, an up-and-coming rocker named Bruce Springsteen performed there. The Stone Pony still keeps a busy schedule of concerts, and there's an outdoor stage. Asbury Park also has a nice beach and a funky bohemian boardwalk with character. By some miracle, the town survived Hurricane Sandy with minimal damage.

Asbury Park is 55 miles from New York City and 75 miles from Philadelphia.

It is August.

It was Sunday.

We set out for Asbury Park at 11:00 a.m. from Philadelphia.

Let this be a reminder that our planet is very crowded.

We got to Asbury Park at about 1:00 p.m. There are probably 5,000 parking spaces in the boardwalk area, and every last one of them contained a car. Not only that, there were people driving around slowly, looking for someone who might be leaving. No one was leaving Asbury Park at 1:00 p.m. on a Sunday in August.

And yet Heir and her sweetheart were like kids in a candy shop. There's a pinball parlor on the Asbury boardwalk that has vintage games from every decade, going back to 1950 and up to virtual reality. So I let Heir and s. off at the boardwalk and started creeping around, looking for a spot.

I looked. And looked. And finally got really lucky, except it was a residential neighborhood where I would get ticketed at 5:00 if I didn't move by then.

Parking space secured for 3 hours, I made my way to the boardwalk. There was a band at the Stone Pony, doing a sound check. (For those of us with the inside scoop on Asbury Park, a sound check means a concert, which means even fewer parking spaces in the evening.)

It wasn't sunny, and it wasn't warm. But the beach was jam packed. It's actually quite a pretty sight, and hard to capture in a photograph. The beach umbrellas (which weren't really needed) were such vibrant colors, and there were a lot of young people who looked good in bright swimwear. I also had a good book to read, This Fight Is Our Fight, by Elizabeth Warren.

Asbury Park requires you to buy a beach pass to have access to the surf for the day. On a Sunday in August, a daily beach pass costs $10,000. (Might be a very slight exaggeration.)

Heir and her sweetie played pinball, and I sat on a bench on the boardwalk, listening to the sound check and reading my book.

Then, after totally conquering Centipede and Millipede, Heir was hungry.

We stood in line so long for cheese steaks that I thought I might have to go move the car before I got to eat. But finally we had our cheese steaks. Heir and s. returned to the pinball parlor, and I went to move the car. By that time the line of concert-goers had started to form at the Stone Pony.

I've been to Asbury Park many times. Never on a Sunday in August. Still, it helps to know the lay of the town if you're in search of a completely elusive parking space.

I got one. The farthest possible spot in the whole town. And I only got that one because someone pulled out just as I rolled into sight.

Maybe you've been to a place like Asbury Park. It's nice during the day, but it starts really working its magnetism at about 5:00 in the evening, and it gets more and more magnetic through the long summer twilight. To summarize, Heir and s. were cavorting like puppies and didn't want to leave.

At 5:30 beach passes are no longer required, because the lifeguard staff goes home. That's when Heir and her friend went into the surf (not very far, I hope). The concert commenced -- an opening act -- and I just kept listening to the music and reading my book.

Next thing I knew, it was 8:00, I had 75 miles to drive home (40 of it featureless pine barrens), and I was standing in line for ice cream.

New Jersey has these things called "traffic circles." It's basically an intersection of two or three congested roads, going around in a circle, where there's no stoplights and it's only the strong who survive. This is not a place you want to be on a Sunday in August at 8:30 in the evening. But hey, my deities were with me! I'm an old hand at these Jersey traffic circles. Good thing, too, because there are seven traffic circles between Asbury Park and Philadelphia. Maybe eight or nine, who's counting?

Very long story short, I treated my daughter and her boyfriend to a day at Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was Sunday. It was August. I sat and read a book and listened to music.

Next time, I will go on a Wednesday. And leave at 8:00.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Magical Battle for America August 2017

All hail and welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!"

Gods bless America, land that I love!


Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above.


From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam...

Gods bless America, our home sweet home ...


Gods bless America, our home sweet home!

Beginning this spring, a group of loosely affiliated Pagans has been performing an intentional work called The Magical Battle for America. You can find the work by scrolling on this site.

When I first started this blog, I wrote with extreme snark about Christian "prayer warriors" who, in between passing the plate, are actively fighting to turn the United States into a "Christian nation."

Whoever thought these creepy evangelicals would achieve power? But they have, and they're still praying.

Do I sound paranoid? What do you think the chances were of a new Supreme Court appointee who is even more right-wing than Scalia? Who promoted Neil Gorsuch loudly and passionately? The prayer warriors. They've been working on this a long time. And look how they accomplished it! Doesn't the whole thing seem sketchy to you? These people are fighting to turn this country into a theocracy.

Think I'm kidding? Here is their web site.

Well, if it's a fight they want (contrary to what their humble Christ would counsel), a fight they will get. The Magical Battle for America is concentrating energy based on American heroes and heroines, tricksters and magical animals, led at the apex by the Goddess Columbia. If you don't know the first thing about the astral plane, you can add your energy just by meditating on Saturday evenings. That's when we do our directed mutual work. But you can practice this any time, in any way. Every voice raised means so much.

Call upon your deities and your values. Visualize the nation you want to live in. Help us make the magic we need to achieve peace, equality, and personal agency for everyone.

Someone might say, "Well, Anne, you speak of peace, but you show pictures of deities who are ready for battle!" Yes! So I do.

So do they.

It's not funny anymore.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Don't Believe Them: Resist

When it comes to the American experiment, we definitely lag behind some other civilized nations in the matter of health care and public transportation. But in one arena of public life, we are doing just fine, thank you.

That arena is public schools.

It's all well and good to say that Finland has better public schools than America. I'm sure it's true. But whoever got the big, fat idea to compare a gigantic country like the US of A with a charming little nation like Finland? I'll tell you who: people who want to trash public education.

Don't believe the haters who disrespect America's public schools!

EXHIBIT A: A MENACE WHO NEEDS TO BE RESISTED


This time we're not even talking about the Orange Menace. We're talking about his Girl Friday, Betsy Devo$.

Betsy Devo$ was not educated in a public school. Nor were her children. She has tumbled millions of her own ducats into charter schools, which are nothing more than private, for-profit schools foisted on our nation's most vulnerable learners. After tanking a bunch of charter schools in Michigan, she is now the Secretary of Education.

This creepy billionairess has an agenda that she calls "school choice." While we are fighting for our health care, she's selling out our students to the highest bidder. She also thinks it's a fine, fine idea to let people get tax breaks for sending their kids to religious schools.

Clap if you think American tax dollars should support religious schools.

That's funny. I don't hear anything.

News flash: Did you know that parochial schools don't have to accept disabled students? They also don't have to administer the draconian standardized tests that our public school kids face all through their school careers. Private and charter school teachers do not need to have formal teacher training. They are not protected by collective bargaining. And it is this latter item -- collective bargaining -- that has led to all these "charter" schools and "voucher" bullshit.

Plain and simple, a group of wealthy Americans wants to undermine the hard-working public school teachers and turn a profit on the taxpayer dime. Billionaires like Devo$ want to pay teachers less and give them no protection from unreasonable dismissal. The money saved on salaries won't go to the kids, though. It will go into the pockets of educational corporations.

Imagine if we already had a single-payer, not-for-profit system of health care, and somebody got the bright idea to improve health care by creating private, for-profit insurance companies! This is pretty much what creatures like Betsy Devo$ want to do with our country's kids.

Resisting this agenda is demanding. You see, the whole charter school dodge is popular with both Republicans and Democrats. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were in favor of charter schools, though not to the degree that the Orange Menace and his Girl Friday are. (The only unabashed supporter of public education in the last election cycle was Bernie Sanders.)

To resist Betsy Devo$ and her sinister agenda, you first need to see how your representatives stand on the whole charter school issue. This is one place where you can't assume that just because your congressman is a Democrat, he or she doesn't like charter schools. Here in my state, good ol' Cory Booker has given his seal of approval to charter schools in the poorest neighborhoods. So, do your research and then send your public officials a strongly worded letter that might go something like this:

Hey dummy,

Public schooling is a right, not a privilege! Say no to Betsy Devo$ and her sleazy attempts to privatize education!

Or some such.

Respect our schools. Keep church and state separate! Selling out an educated workforce will not improve educational outcomes for American students.