Saturday, November 01, 2014

Scarcely Incredible

When you have heard all my adventures, you will understand what trials and vicissitudes I have had to undergo to reach the felicity of this palace; you will realize that I have had to purchase the wealth which sustains my age with strange and terrible labors, with calamities, misfortunes and hardships that are scarcely credible
 - The Tale of Sinbad the Sailor, from 10,000 Nights and 1 Night.

Brisket and onions are making love in the slow cooker; infusing the house with the smell of comfort food. I just finished my coffee. It rained last night. It rained so loud I woke me up. So loud.

But it was just a shower. I remember days when it rained all day. There have been a few tiny passing showers since then. The rain gauge was just emptied and washed yesterday, so half an inch of rain in 24 hours. That practically constitutes the deluge.The sun is out. 

Like the landscape, I am not sustained by great wealth. But our wealth is modest and adequate. Like our health. I got a bargain in terms of the price I paid in calamities, misfortunes and hardships to get here today. Unless you happen to appreciate the fact that I’ve been without an icemaker in my fridge for several weeks. Incredible, right?

Today is bourbon and popcorn Saturday. The hard cherry cider is in the fridge. The popped art (get it?) that I make using my air-popper and season with white truffle oil and black truffle salt awaits. Somehow, I’ll survive the vicissitudes of not having my iceless cocktail. 

My palace houses a few good books, basic cable TV, and a cat for my lap. Life is good.

Monday, October 27, 2014

We Understand Your Need to Question Everything

"All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust."
- J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The Frequently Asked Questions on the Peter Pan Peanut Butter website begins with the title of this post, but in a cool whimsical font that seems to imply a wink that you're a hip badass rebel who questions corporate authority, and they like that about you.

Trans fatty acids are formed when vegetable oils are made either into a room-temperature solid or into a more stable liquid during a process called hydrogenation. Peanut butter stabilizers contain hydrogenated oils, but are used in such small quantities that they have little nutritional impact. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulations for nutrition labeling, Peter Pan Peanut Butter contains zero grams of trans fat per serving."

Turns out for all us badass hip rebels, the actual FDA provisions for claims regarding trans fatty acids leave some greasy wiggle room.

FDA's regulation for nutrition labeling of Trans fats states, if the total fat in a food is less than 0.5grams (or ½ gram) per serving, and no claims are made about fat, fatty acids, or cholesterol content, Trans fat does not have to be listed on the label..."

So, the correct answer to FAQ #6 would be "Yes. Yes it does."

So, while Peter Pan Peanut Butter totally gets your need to question everything, They understand they don't have a need to answer everything.

Dear Letter of The Law,
Piss off.
Fondly, A Consumer

Dear FDA,
Thanks for having my back wrt/ nutritional labeling about trans fats. Also, pixie dust.
Fondly, A Disillusioned Cynic

Thanks for having my back wrt/ nutritional labeling about trans fats. Also, pixie dust.

(Picture credit: The Duet, Dorothy Wheeler)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ten Kinds of Facebook Posts That Suck

  1. Posts (like this one) that list X number of things that promise to explain Something Important because life’s wisdom doesn’t come in the form of numbered lists.
  2. Posts that demand, “share this if you agree” because mostly I don’t agree. 
  3. Similarly, but slightly different, posts that demand I comment if I agree because shut up. 
  4. Posts that are pictures with pithy clichés added as captions to pictures that are clichés - except those that involve giving zero fucks. 
  5. Suggested Posts that are commercials, because I have more of them than I have posts from friends. I already know I need better friends and don’t need to be reminded. 
  6. Shared posts with embedded videos and headlines that end with “… you’ll never believe what happens next” because I have an actual life that is filled with such surprises thanks to my diminishing short term memory skills. 
  7. Posts that are tests to determine what type of fossil I am, or what pre-packaged frozen food item I am, or how much I would care if my neighbor’s children were attacked by a pack of wolves. 
  8. Quotes by celebrities about important things they have no expertise in - even Leonardo DiCaprio - because just because you’re famous or gorgeous doesn’t mean I should care what you think about a subject on which you have no legitimate expertise. 
  9. Passive aggressive posts intended to put somebody in their place without naming names because, seriously? 
  10. Posts arguing either side of matters involving global warming and vaccinations because, science, people. Those trains have sailed. And in a similar vein, posts that state political opinions of people I thought I liked but now find to be simpletons. 
  11. And finally, I don't like numbered lists that have titles telling you how many items are on the list.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Strict Construction of the First Amendment

"There's nothing like freedom of speech to help you identify the people who should be avoided like the plague."
  ~ Liz Braun

Sears sent a very nice young man out this morning to fix the broken icemaker in my refrigerator. I have been enduring a living nightmare for almost 3 weeks: no ice for my martinis. When I called to make the appointment and explained my problem, the hilarious woman in the call center said she’d put a Code Red on this request because of the hardship I was undergoing. My faith in humanity was restored.

They sent the part they assumed was most likely to be the problem.  It took the guy 2 minutes to determine that wasn’t the problem. He looked like he’d escaped from the Village People: tool belt, Hispanic name on pocket of blue work shirt, hella cool tool box that was more like a lady’s carry-on luggage designer purse-shaped thing, and haircut by a blind man suffering from some serious drug withdrawal problems. But the repairman made the haircut work for him.

He removed several cans of chocolate worm cakes from the fridge as well as several jars of pickles in order to remove the icemaker shroud that the ice container drawer goes into. (You can’t have too many half-empty jars of pickles in your fridge. I think he judged me wrt/pickles, but it was silent so maybe I’m just exhibiting paranoia. Frankly, I am afraid of strangers coming into my house and stealing my open pickle jars. I just hope they don’t find the unopened jars in the cupboard too. Otherwise, the two times a year I want to eat pickles I might find myself pickleless, and I’ll have to go out and stock up.)

Meanwhile, I’m on the phone with an insurance company trying to get a quote for combined home and auto insurance so I can tell Farmer’s Insurance to bite my shiny metal ass. First, of course, I had to scan the Declarations page from the Farmer’s homeowner’s policy so other insurance companies could give me a quote on comparable coverage.

That meant I had to engage with my HP Printer, which I have named in my applications folder as HP Shit Printer for reasons that will be obvious to anybody who has had an HP printer; or been remotely related to someone who has; or who has lived next door to someone who has during the summer when windows are open. It couldn’t find the computer sitting within clear sight of it on the next shelf, and to which it’s wireless ass is connected directly by a wire. Then. I couldn’t make an alias to put on the desktop from my “remote” hard drive (How remote? Two inches from my laptop. Might as well be the moon.) Or, I could, but the printer still couldn’t find the computer, meaning the alias didn’t work either – possibly because I no longer called it HP Shit Printer but simply Shit Printer. (I though the point of an alias was to take on a secret identity, so you naturally used a different name. Another point on which the printer and I have agreed to disagree.)

My faith in computer hardware, never very strong to begin with, has bled to death from the slings and arrows of outrageous pop-up windows saying pointless things like “Honestly, I’ve looked everywhere on this shelf and can’t find the computer, so I’m just going to sit here until you press ok, then I’m going back to the basic menu from which I’ll repeat this unhelpful message if you dare to try again.” Of course I tried again – it didn’t give me any choice except to click on “ok, continue to mess with me”.

Keep in mind that the Village People Refrigerator Repairperson is working within hearing distance of my computer and printer, and that was my problem. At one point, he explained the icemaker problem wasn’t the funky part Sears had mailed but simply a gasket on the back that was soggy and warped and instead of directing drips down into the evaporating pan under the fridge melting ice went straight into the shelf where my pickles are stored. He replaced the gasket. There will be ice!

Meanwhile however, I was unable to discuss the matter of scanning calmly and reasonably with the printer while trying to troubleshoot the problem. I already know the problem: I don’t have a comfortable relationship with inanimate objects, and the more moving parts they have, especially electronic so-called wireless parts, the more fraught our interactions are. Also, HP printers are worthless pieces of the stuff you try to scrape off the bottom of your shoe after you walk through a cow pasture, and my printer is self-aware and has a particularly vicious streak.

So, my efforts to get an insurance quote were hampered considerably as I tackled the challenge of interacting with my computer hardware under the disadvantage of not being able to exercise my unbridled freedom of speech. I have found exercising the First Amendment to its fullest extent to be very effective in the face of such challenges, and was thus reduced to negotiating by muttering under my breath to the printer about what a miserable worthless piece of crap it is using only PG-rated words instead of my considerable skills in creative profanity. 

In fact, I think I may have discovered another superpower: creative profanity as applied to insulting people or objects that displease me. I’m sure the prescient Founding Fathers had that situation precisely in mind when they wrote the First Amendment so many years before HP printers were invented. Once Village People Repairman left, I concluded negotiations with the printer in a more serious and profane vein and sure enough, it came around.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Time to Make Donuts

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."
  – Groucho Marx

What kind of post could evolve from this epigram? The consolidated wisdom in those two sentences has the density of a black hole, and nothing clever can escape the event horizon.

So, instead of giving into my feelings of philosophical inadequacy, I’ve been thinking I need to renew my lawyer’s ticket. The state where I live requires that to practice law you have to be a member of the bar association. I stopped paying my dues circa ten years ago when I retired, so there're some back dues and late fees to consider. And what about continuing legal education requirements? The definition of privacy has certainly changed from the good old days.

I know folks with marriage problems, and with landlord-tenant problems that, to be modest, I could hardly make worse.

I’m hearing horror stories from my relative about her attempts to get a divorce and how the respondent has yet to appear and meanwhile she’s trapped in an expensive limbo while the interlocutory order is waiting for a hearing about a disputed issue regarding how long the couple has been living together as a married couple and that’s waiting on a hearing to schedule the hearing and that’s waiting for either the respondent or his lawyer to show up. Meanwhile, petitioner’s attorney is evidently asleep at the wheel, leaving the petitioner… 

Upon consideration, who cares? There should be some minimum requirement for the party with the most to lose to make at least a halfhearted attempt to understand the process and know wtf is going on. But there isn’t. And while stupid isn’t against the law, it’s against the commandments of my religion. Specifically: god don’t help them what don’t help theirselves. 

Besides, time flies. On the scale of the universe, our lifespans are as long as fruit flies. So, to say life is too short to own problems created and/or exacerbated by other people, is, well to embrace loquacity over brevity. More better to say: Time to make donuts.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Sun Going South

In late sunshine I wander troubled.
Restless I walk in autumn sunlight.

To many changes, partings, and deaths.
Doors have closed that were always open.
Trees that held they sky up are cut down.
So much that I alone remember.

This creek runs dry among its stones
Souls of the dead, come drink this water!

Come into this side valley with me,
A restless old woman, unseemly,
Troubled, walking on dry grass, dry stones.".

 - Ursula K. LeGuin, Always Coming Home

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Great Leap Sideways

"The time I’ve lost in wooing,
In watching and pursuing
The light that lies
In woman’s eyes,
Has been my heart’s undoing.
Though Wisdom oft has sought me,
I scorned the lore she brought me,
My only books
Were woman’s looks,
And folly’s all they’ve taught me."

 - Thomas Moore  (1779–1852), The time I’ve lost in wooing

You know how people keep saying we have to have The Conversation? Mostly about race, but sometimes about beating women down or posting their naked pictures on the internets if they speak up. So bring it, boys. Oh, wait. You already have: every two minutes in America.

Assuming I had naked pictures, and that I was dumb enough to upload them to the cloud, posting my naked pictures would bring that trend to the kind of halt a schoolbus full of orphans would make being rammed into a bridge abutment at 90 miles per hour by an 18-wheeler with “Grim Reaper” spray-painted on the side.

My own story of sexual assault is actually three, including one about which I cannot speak and therefore about which I shall remain silent.

There was the time a neighbor fixed me up with her brother, a cop from Riverside, who took me to a cheap dinner and then called me a cunt because I wouldn’t fuck him in the front seat of his muscle car. He dropped me off at his sister’s house before peeling out to accurately demonstrate the actual size of his penis. She was babysitting for my toddler, who I then had to carry two blocks home in her sleep.

One out of five women are likely to be raped, gentlemen. Some would say the rape epidemic is a fiction. I couldn’t agree more that it would be nice if fewer women were being assaulted today than yesterday.

As to Mr. Number Two, I’m quite sure he is limping around right now trying to remember where he got that scar next to his penis. Or maybe he’s dead because some other woman managed to actually hit his femoral artery with her metal nail file – what I was going for when he hit me so hard on the side of the head that I saw stars. At least I drew more blood than he did: a victory of sorts. And I didn’t get raped that night either, although I had to pay a cab because it was too far to walk home.

In both cases, I was a full grown woman, and I was wearing lipstick. In retrospect, I was probably was asking for it because I had, you know, a pulse.

But here’s where I want to depart from the hegemonic discourse about how great things are going, and leap sideways. I submit that… wait for it….  it would be even better if women didn’t get assaulted at all. No kidding. Even better: how about if women didn’t always have to worry about being disrespected, raped, assaulted, paid less, and knocked out in elevators?

More importantly: it’s not women’s looks that are the problem here. It’s the aggressor who is at fault. If women’s looks are your only books, you’re fools. Time to wise up.

So because men no longer find me rapable – because I’m old enough to join AARP and because my dress size is two digits – I feel safe going on record and saying if good men don’t stand up on the side of good women, we’re headed down that slippery slope that leads to covering our heads and FGM and honor killings here in this land of the free and home of the brave dickheads who call ladies cunts.