Friday, December 31, 2021

Highlights of 2021

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," end-of-2021 edition! As always I am your charming hostess, Anne Johnson.

The Mummers Parade has been delayed one day due to rain. I thought I would fill the time by recollecting all the highlights of 2021.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Please Don't Rain on My Parade!

 Literally. Because it's that time again ... The Philadelphia Mummers Parade!

And for the first time in the 10 years since I've been marching, the forecast is calling for rain.

Okay, 2021. Surprise me.

A week before Xmas break, my daughter The Heir phoned me to tell me her house mate had tested positive for COVID. By Wednesday, December 22, Heir's boyfriend was running a fever and experiencing all the flu-like symptoms you might expect with a breakthrough infection. Heir and her boyfriend both stood in line for two and a half hours for PCR tests, and they didn't get the results back for three days. He was positive, she was negative.

Needless to say, Heir and her boyfriend were scratches for Xmas. The Fair came with her boyfriend (and her endlessly fascinating cat, Bijoux), but we all felt like COVID won another battle.

Now the weather is threatening the Mummers Parade. Gotta say that would be a perfect capstone to a dreadful year.

Or maybe it's the beginning to another Bullshit Year from Suck City, 2022. We don't need a crystal ball to see that Roe v. Wade is fucked, or that no meaningful social change will happen in America, or that this virus will continue to plague us. It's like we've been dumped into Republican Hell and are totally at the mercy of Bible-thumping blowhards.

Speaking of Bible-thumping, did you see that NASA hired a bunch of religious experts to predict how the faithful of various sects would react to the news of life on other planets? I am VERY INSULTED that they didn't hire me! I could give them chapter and verse on two dozen deities from a dozen pantheons. But NOOOO, let's talk to the Baptists!

I wonder if NASA hired a Pagan. Fat chance, huh?

Well, it's a question to pose to bored deities if I can get any to drop by in the next few weeks. I believe that some of them have subcontracted to other solar systems in the past, but don't quote me until I can get a few of them on the record.

P.S. - if you are looking for Yellowdog Granny, she's doing an end run around Blogger. her site is now Go and see the nice holiday meal she set up for her Meals on Wheels buddies!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

I Survived National School Shooter Day 2021

 I blame Big Tobacco.

Despite their best efforts, Americans have finally turned up their noses, for the most part, at tobacco products. So Big Tobacco looked for a new market and found China. Yes, that China.

Chinese men are nuts for their cigarettes. I had to toss my exchange student because he was smoking in my house. He wouldn't hear of trying any cessation techniques. And all his exchange student pals smoked like smokestacks too. This is going to be a big public health problem for China in years to come.

You know that nation isn't going to take this lying down. And thus we got TikTok.

Tobacco is a scourge that affects the lungs. TikTok is a scourge that affects the brain. In case you didn't know it, TikTok is owned and run by the Chinese.

My students have the attention span of chipmunks. Instagram has helped, but TikTok reigns supreme in senseless distraction. 

But wait. There's more.

TikTok users have been issuing "challenges." As in, October was "Slap a Teacher Month." The idea was to assault a teacher and record it on video to show on TikTok. I feel like the hacking of my online Parent Night Google Meet was probably filmed for TikTok.

Each month has its own challenge.

Last week some TikTok shitbird posted that Friday, December 17 would be National School Shooter Day. This prompted my school district to send a message to all parents, staff, and students that there were no credible threats against our school. The district also promised an enhanced police presence on campus on December 17.

The result? Almost half the students at my school took a nice long weekend, skipping school on December 17.

I didn't see an enhanced police presence at my school on December 17. I can see the arrival of police cars and ambulances from the windows at my school. Shit happens occasionally, and our administration is tight-lipped about it. But I know that there are severe ramifications for any student who threatens the school. We also have an armed cop on campus at all times.

I also know that many of my students know someone who has been victimized by gun violence. It's not a game to them. When you have seen the ramifications of firearms, you're far less likely to play with them the way these troubled white boys do.

All this is my way of saying that I did not feel unsafe at school on December 17, and I understand why so many students stayed home. It was very quiet in the school.

As it happened, I sat in the faculty lunch room with the security guards and lunch ladies that day, which I haven't been doing due to Covid. I love the security guards and lunch ladies. They are by far my favorite people to hang with at school. We had a great time discussing local sports, cooking tips, and where they were going for happy hour. No one mentioned the school shooting business.

I survived the fiasco without a scratch. But I fear that the TikTok scourge has only just begun. Teenagers' brains aren't fully formed in the areas where judgment and reasoning are concerned. They are ripe for "challenges" and inspired by seeing others get away with stuff. TikTok gives them a blueprint for bad behavior.

China wins.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Shhh ... Don't Tell!

 I did it. Just don't tell any administrator, okay? I know I can trust you.

I talked about bored Gods in school.

This is the first year I have ever had upperclassmen. And I have them, by golly! One class of 13 juniors.

They are my first class in the morning. Because we are short on buses, some of them have to get picked up at 5:45. (The buses have to run multiple routes.)

So what I actually have is 13 of the sleepiest people on the planet, at 7:45 in the morning, and I'm expected to engage them.

Trouble is, the junior curriculum for my district is ridiculous. I can't see how it would engage them to spend 8 weeks on Fahrenheit 451, when half of them would gladly burn every book in the room.

In these cases I always fall back on Antigone, by Sophocles.

Have you read it? It's about a brave young woman who defies the decree of a dictator to bury her brother, because the laws of the Gods are more important than the laws of men. Of course she pays for it with her life, but damn. Girl has some spine.

I like teaching something where the female lead is badass.

Antigone is not in the curriculum. But I feel like if some admin wanders in, I can say, "Oh yes, I'm teaching Sophocles," and that will be acceptable.

Oh, and if you haven't come across this 2,200+ year-old wonder, it's short! Two quick acts, and everyone dies in the end. Appreciate that, because it takes Shakespeare five acts to slaughter his casts.

But ah, there's a rub.

When the title character, Antigone, talks about following the laws of God, she's not talking about Yahweh. She's talking about Zeus. And as you can imagine, I make that crystal clear from the get-go.

So today, as I looked out over 13 sets of glazed eyes, I asked: "Emmm... people really worshiped Zeus. Those people would be offended if you called Zeus a 'myth.' And in the Bible, God says, 'You shall have no other gods but Me. Clearly implying that there are other Gods. So, students ... sit up ... open your eyes ... Where is Zeus now?"

This opened up a semi-lively discussion, which included (in no particular order) the fact that Africans brought into slavery were forced to be Christians when they had their own Gods, the fact that some people who worship Thor are racists, and the fact that we don't know much about the majority of our planet; namely, the part that's under water.

Wow! A philosophical discussion at my school, at 8:00 in the morning!

One student said he thinks Zeus is satisfied with His status with us moderns, because at least we know who He is. Which made me ask the students, "What happens to Gods whose names are forgotten?"

No one had an answer for that. But I'll bet they think about it after the basketball scrimmage. Well, maybe not.

First time my day job and my blog have intersected. It was fun.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Extreme Ice Cream

 How far would you drive for a quart of ice cream and some local oysters?

Let me add some detail to that question. How far would you drive for some award-winning small-batch cinnamon ice cream and a quart of freshly-shucked oysters from a local trawler?

Yeah, I thought so. You would throw all thoughts of gas prices to the wind.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I was as fried as a slab of Virginia ham. Mr. J had ordered some ice cream from the Scottish Highland Creamery in Oxford, Maryland, and we agreed to drive down to get it. Oxford used to be too far for a day trip, but Delaware (yes, it does exist) just opened a nice highway to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and now scenic Oxford is less than a two-hour drive.

But you know what happens when a place is quicker to get to, and you've been there 10,000 times? You go farther afield. Last summer we rented a place in Cambridge, Maryland. It's not far from Oxford, but it's not touristy. Less crowded, less posh, more genuine. We loved it immediately.

In Cambridge last summer we found the local fish store. And you just know what a fish store on the Chesapeake Bay has in abundance in November, right? Lovely big snotty oysters!

But you know what happens when you just found a new fun place last summer and you're fried like a ham? You wind up way the Hell out on an island in the Chesapeake, sea-glassing your fried little eyeballs out.


It wasn't Halloween, but it felt like Halloween. It felt like vacation. It felt like I was 180 miles from all my troubles. Damn, I do so love Maryland.

All that driving, and we still got home by 7:00. And don't try to pry the location out of me, but I got five goddamn pounds of sea glass. A quart of oysters. Three quarts of cinnamon ice cream.

And for a few days, I wasn't fried. More like soothingly marinated in a beach glass bath.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

They Are Not Just

 The Supreme Court has become completely political. I have no faith in it at all.

I didn't have any faith even before the most recent abortion case. My public sector union watched as this court (minus two of the horrors sitting on it now) overturned a case regarding collective bargaining.

Now, Trump supporters are going to get their fondest wish: an end to safe and legal abortions for women in states with scant health care.

During the arguments, Amy Coney Barrett said that adoption is easier now than it used to be. How can someone who has birthed children not see that every pregnancy takes a toll on the body? Maybe I'm assuming she's human. I could be wrong.

But watch: This same court will hand down a dozen pro-gun decisions. After all, you've got a right to life until you're born. Then it's a crapshoot.

I do not see how the U.S. Supreme Court can rebound from its partisan tilt. The way this was achieved is nefarious, and it cannot be undone.

When I started this blog, I belittled and pooh-poohed the Christian radicals who were making so much self-righteous noise. But they have achieved their goal. By this summer, half of the women in America will be unable to control their own bodies.

My friends, the radical "prayer warriors" have been praying over this for 50 years. Will this be a lasting victory for them, or will the consequences plow them under? I hope they inherit the wind.