November 2014


Every morning, rain or shine, I see them on my train ride in to work–the line of worshippers. On camp chairs or concrete, covered with plastic if it’s coming down as it often does here in Portland, entire families and groups of teenagers. They’re waiting to be admitted into the giant glass cube that is their temple–the Apple store, with its cheerful priests, ready to dispense technological blessings. The people cluster on the steps in front of the store like lepers hoping for a cure….and I suppose you might as well be a leper if you don’t own a smart phone.

The store opened months ago, so it’s not exactly a novelty anymore, but the faithful continue to show up daily. And this week, the disciples of other churches of consumerism are already lining up and camping outside their doors, as the holiday miracle of Black Friday discounts gets ever closer.

They really do remind me of cult followers awaiting a Second Coming, like Jehovah’s Witnesses or those unfortunate people who listened to what Harold Camping had to say about the end of the world. But the Messiah never arrived in clouds of glory, and you will never get the happiness and fulfillment you’re looking for from that TV you’re wrestling away from the other customers at the Wal-Mart sale.

In fact, you will probably only find that fulfillment if you *stop* shopping…and eating..for a moment…and reflect. There are so many reasons to have a moment of silence this Thanksgiving, from Ferguson–to the insanity that Black Friday has become–to just your own peace of mind. So I will do my best to find that moment today. Have a wonderful holiday, everybody.

These days, the United States is frequently compared to the Roman empire. Usually the comparison is made by those warning about our demise, either because we’re militarily overstretched or too accepting of homosexuality as a part of our culture.

But as tempting as it is to imagine myself reclining on a luxurious feast couch and eating grapes–the truth is, we kind of suck at being an empire.

Take Iraq. It’s pretty obvious that it’s become a colony of ours. We can make noises about leaving, but let’s face it, we’re over there to stay. Well, the Romans were at least smart enough to claim taxes from the nations they conquered. We seem to be doing the opposite–I’ve been paying from my hard-earned money to build stuff in Iraq. Why? Our own infrastructure could certainly use the help.

What I’m saying is, let’s be honest about what we’re doing. Enough with the bullcrap about being a democratic society trying to bring our democratic ideas to Iraq. Does anybody really believe that Americans believe in that cause? So if I’m forced to be the evil invader, I should be accepting some kind of tribute right now from those we’ve conquered. I should be getting loot and booty from the place we’ve taken over. That’s how this sort of thing works. And if that’s not happening, then what the hell are we doing?

Ah, but of course, there are select people in my country who did, in fact, get to loot Iraq’s resources. The companies who walked away with huge profits from our overseas adventure. So perhaps, we are more talented at being an empire than I thought, and perhaps, I’m getting a painful lesson in what it’s like to be one of the little people in an empire–one of the little people who helps fund our military exploits, but doesn’t get to share in any of the spoils. Not even through lower gas prices. Okay, I get it.

So then, could we at least throw some good decadent parties?

I’ve never cared about fashion. Shoe shopping makes my eyes glaze over with boredom. I rarely wear make-up, and prefer to simply brush my hair back and tie it into a ponytail. I feel complete indifference towards whatever is “in” right now. I have nothing against fashion–it’s just not a thing for me.

But oh, the stuff you realize while watching public television. Their shows are totally worth the tax money.

It finally clicked for me as I was looking at the prancing birds of paradise on a Nature episode. Yeah, those birds, preening their feathers and spending hours decorating their nests in an attempt to attract Mrs. Bird. I would have to be pretty dense not to notice the connection between that strutting male’s bright red tail and the photo of the stilettos in the magazine. Every species has its mating rules. For humans, the rule is that the female wears the feathers–the make-up and heels and dress. I can’t willfully refuse to follow the mating rules of my own species and then complain that things don’t work out for me.

Does that realization make shoes and clothes any more interesting for me than they were before? Not really. I still find fashion to be dull at best and a pain in the ass at worst. But you gotta do what you gotta do, and I have a choice to make. I can remain the way I am, but then I don’t have the right to bitch about it if I don’t attract a mate in the future. So I suppose I should make at least a minimal effort at being “female”.

Or…I could do what genuinely interests me, and go back to listening to that discussion about the Keystone pipeline on C-Span. I never said I was particularly *good* at this whole being human thing….

As Obama is officially turning into a lame duck President, those who live and die by the election cycle are looking towards the next great battle on the horizon. Conservative groups are already busy shaping and putting together their intelligent, thoughtful arguments for why Hillary shouldn’t be Presi….oh, wait.

Here’s Tom Miller from the anti-Hillary America Rising PAC to explain the strategy to us:

“Everyone feels like they know her, so we have to give them information they hadn’t heard about to break through….For younger voters, some of that ‘new information’ could be ’90s scandals and other aspects of their record they didn’t know about, making that material relevant, if not central, to the case against her.”

Ahhhhh…those 90s scandals. And since the millennials and the younger generation have become such a crucial part of the Democratic electorate, I’m guessing we can expect to be hearing a lot about them in the months to come. To which I say, yay! Because who isn’t feeling nostalgic for those awkward early-Internet days when Clinton conspiracy theories were getting bandied about on discussion groups like alt.fan.rush-limbaugh? And there’s so much stuff from that time that never got adequately explained. Like the angle at which Vince Foster’s gun was positioned in relation to his head. Those Whitewater files. How many people the Clintons *really* killed in Arkansas. The question of whether oral sex qualifies as sex. I’m sure a political operative somewhere has Monica’s blue dress stashed away, and is ready to drag it out at the right moment…and hey, what is Gennifer Flowers doing these days?

Add to this the chorus line of Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy dancing to the tune of “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi” and you’ve got a presidential election I’m looking forward to. Incidentally, the bottle of booze in my kitchen has cracked itself open and is insisting that I have a drink. I have no idea why that happened.

This almost makes the upcoming veto war between Obama and the Republicans seem sane. 2016 can’t come slowly enough.

Well, I could use this space to whine and cry about the midterm election results, or I could post something a little more…entertaining. Especially when it ties into my line of work.

Part of my job consists of investigating accidents and trying to find out how injuries happened (to see if there could be any liability involved). This means that I spend my day looking at countless ways in which people hurt themselves. Everything from skateboarding and snowboarding accidents…to those who injure themselves while attempting to dance or do yoga…those who fall into a hole in their backyard…or get bitten by a cat or spider, or the bat they find lying on their bedroom floor. Needless to say, my work makes me a bit paranoid about doing…anything, really.

And that’s how I can confirm that what Meetville.com is reporting is true–quite a few people hurt themselves while having sex.

Meetville–which is a dating site, but not an ISIS-sponsored one!–has published stats showing that one third of adults are injured every year while doing the wild thing, with an even kinkier 5% having to call in sick to work the next day. And 4 out of 10 have broken furniture or other household items in the process of making love. See? It’s much safer when you’re not getting any. I’m just sayin’.

They even provide a handy chart of the most dangerous places to have sex. They say it’s 10 places, but I only see 9. Perhaps they were too busy getting it on to count:

10dangerousspots

Ack! The sofa and the bedroom are so dangerous! Did I mention you can get ebola there, too?

I should add that in my workplace, when we receive information about *those* kinds of injuries, our clients don’t give us any details, and we don’t ask. I’ve seen a couple of hospital emergency room claims with a diagnosis of “foreign object in anus,” and I…I really don’t want to know. I figure that anyone in that situation would be too embarrassed to sue anybody else, anyway.

So there it is, a little silliness to brighten the mood for this dreary week. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll retire to my dangerous bed and continue smarting from the spanking we got from the Republicans this Tuesday…ouch!

As I voted this year, it’s been tempting to cast a vote for politeness. That is, for those who don’t engage in excessive phone and mail harrassment.

It was my father who first came up with the idea of answering political calls with: “Which party or candidate do you represent? Okay, I’ll be sure to vote against them! Don’t you know it’s rude to call this often?” I never did try this method out, although I wish I did–it would have been nice to make everyone feel a little nervous.

And there has been so much obnoxious behavior to vote against this political season. The piles of printed junk stuffing our mailbox. The endless ringing of the phone, sometimes ten to fifteen times per evening. Multiple calls from the same number within just a few minutes, trying over and over again when I refuse to answer the phone. The Monsanto-sponsored voicemail which was impossible to turn off even after hitting the “Off” button on the phone repeatedly, but instead continued talking at me about why I should oppose labeling of GMO foods. (If anyone ever needed more proof that Monsanto was satanic, this would be it…) Last but not least, the robocall which started with the words: “I know you’re tired of political calls, but….” Yeah. Yeah, I am.

But while the urge to vote against the rude people was strong, that probably would have only resulted in my voting for minor party loser candidates…since publicity = success in our political system. So I went down the usual boring road of voting on the issues. I have a feeling the causes I supported will lose anyway.

No matter what the election results are, I’m happy the calls will stop after tomorrow.