Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Miles to Go . . .

The Subaru is nearly loaded up and ready for me and Mother to hit the road in the morning.  We have something like a 1,600 mile drive ahead of us.  I've been glad of the peace and quiet here at my parents' house in suburban Houston because I had sort of a mini-meltdown last week.  All that commentary about Stubenville finally got to me, and I got so fed up with patriarchal bullshit that I removed myself from almost all my facebook groups even though these facebook groups were small and filled with people I considered smart and well informed.  The trouble, as I see it, is that men occasionally say the dumbest, most patriarchal things without even realizing they've been inadvertently dumb and patriarchal.   It wouldn't be so bad if they checked themselves and said, "Ooops, sorry."  I have to do that sometimes myself because in reality I'm often a bit of a snob - particularly when it comes to determining if a man is marriage material.  Some might say snobby and mercenary.
Guilty as charged.
But the thing is that I have enough sense to keep that side of myself under wraps unless I'm with my very best girlfriends.   Too frequently, when a woman challenges something a man says because it's patriarchal bullshit - she's told to lighten up, get a sense of humor - whatever.  Generally, I can handle these sort of conversations, but all the emphasis on rape culture lately made me touchy.  It started with Seth MacFarlane and the boobs song at the Oscars and went into hyperdrive with Stubenville - but adding the alarming news coming out of India at the same time, about the Swiss tourist (Al Jazeera, 03.17.2013), and about the girl who jumped out her hotel window to avoid a rapist (Washington Post, 03.19.20130) - well, I had had enough of men pontificating on rape as if they knew more about it than I did.  

I was well aware that my own abuse issues were activated by all the talk of rape, but I had forgotten that seventeen years ago on March 17, I was locked up in the looney bin for suicidal tendencies.  Actually, I consider it a small victory that I had forgotten about the "anniversary" since for years and years, it was kind of a defining moment in my life.  I'm pretty sure I was more agitated than I might have been otherwise because the Four Winds experience was in the back of my mind.  

So it's been nice to have a little retreat here at my parents' house, and I have fully benefitted from turning my attention away from current events.  I'll be interested to see what the Supreme Court has to say about Marriage Equality, but I really don't need any additional information about how fucked up the world is generally.  I think I'm going to get an audio version of Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love and make mother listen to it while we're driving.  I may get something by P. G. Wodehouse.

Or maybe Edith Warton

Or maybe Robertson Davies

Then again, Mother would certainly benefit from Daniel Quinn:

We'll see what turns up at the used book store tonight.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Date with a Mad Man (?)

I have a date.
Gigi will be joining me on this date after a couple of hours because the fellow involved apparently has a past so checkered that it's against my better judgment to talk to him at all - but that's just because of how he looks on paper.   Given that I've gone out with men who looked great on paper but were disappointing in reality, I figure there's logic in going out with someone who looks awful on paper.  Further, ever since my divorce, the only men I've dated came from internet dating services.  I met this man in real life, and frankly had no idea of dating until he brought it up.

At first, I altogether dismissed the idea because preliminary evidence suggested he was nuts, and to his credit, he stayed dismissed until I contacted him again.  He had done me a good turn in a comment thread somewhere on the internet, and I felt thanks were in order.  I confess that I like the way he maintains a respectful distance and adapts to whatever pace I require.  During the subsequent correspondence, he sent me the link to a patent he holds for some device that uses magnets to generate energy.  His complete legal name was on this patent, and of course I began to Google.

I already knew a bit about his blogging persona because he writes on those blogs people create that provide forums for reader diaries and on those that make you register in order to leave comments, like firedoglake.  I never read those blogs myself because I think they're filled with bullshit.  It's much better to read analysis and commentary of current events and politics on the blogs of people I've discovered through my own and whose opinions I've come to respect - like Mr. Charleston, for example, and JadedJ.  Those guys haven't been into politics much lately, and neither have I for that matter.  For me, that's because politics and current events are too damn depressing to go cruising the internet in search of more.  I get that stuff in the Journey with Roundtree7 room on Facebook.

*Note* Roundtree7, Worldwide Hippies, Here Be Mosters, Pinko the Bear, Air Amarteifio and AWOP radio have formed a collective called TheCommonsProjectNetwork.  The concept is that by standing together we have a bigger voice.  Website coming soon.  We're working on combining live video feeds with blogtalk shows to provide interactive access for the audience.  So far, we're kind of stuck with Google+ Hangouts because it's free and youtube is good for watching, but not so good for interacting.  I have confidence we'll figure it out - and maybe one day soon, we'll have a virtual salon at Menopausal Stoners HQ.  Smoke 'em if you've got em.

Banner Prototype by Gwendolyn Holden Barry

But back to this date.
I already knew from these profiles that he used to be a lawyer and then became a stripper.  Web search results revealed he was disbarred, but I don't know why.  It could have something to do with weapons charges, since he made reference to an incident on one of his posts that included military grade weapons.  He has sent me a link to a poem he wrote which he said was well received at a poetry slam at the Beat Museum in San Francisco.  He went to law school at Berkley and has a thesis on file at Brown.  He says he taught astrology when he lived outside London.  I think he lived at an Ashram.  Somehow from there he wound up in Kandahar.  I wouldn't be surprised to find that Hunter S. Thompson himself participated somewhere along the way.  Given that my buddy Gwendolyn learned about mythology from Joseph Campbell, got high with Carlos Castaneda and wound up in Berlin the day the wall came down, there's no reason why this fellow's life should be any more or less colorful.

When he first appeared on the periphery of the Triciasphere, I mentioned to my Roundtree buddies that he looked kind of like a character you would find in a Turkish Bazaar in an Indiana Jones movie.  Since then, he's brought up Kemalist philosophy, so I guess I wasn't far off the mark. He may very well be older than Woody which means he's pretty far outside the age parameters I used to set on Match dot com and other sites - further proving that nobody in real life asks how old you are if you meet at a party.  As it happen, I met this fellow at a meet-up called by a man who writes under the name Lambert Strether, primarily on his blog, corrente.   Lambert is one of the people I trust to have well informed political insights.  Dennis Trainor, Jr., Punk Patriot and Lee Camp fall into that category

That night about half the folks at our table of seven in Chinatown would have been familiar with Woody Konopelli from back in the Eschaton days.  Again, I don't pay much attention to the beltway crowd because their enthusiasm for politics sort of reminds me of the way people become all hooked into soap operas, and they watch national politics so closely that they think they know what's really going on inside the Beltway.

Bokonon tells us in Chapter 3 of Cat's Cradle:
I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island, who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be.
And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, "I'm sorry, but I never could read one of those things."
"Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on to God," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, I'm sure he'll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you can understand."
She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.
She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he can see what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon].
And in Chapter 46:  Pay no attention to Caesar.  Caesar has no idea what's really going on.

In real life, right after the World Trade Centers came down, the director of my school called a meeting of the teachers to discuss the situation among ourselves so we could have a better idea how to handle anything the kids did in the classroom.  One of the teachers was a young woman who had come to the US from Iran with her parents when the Shaw was deposed.   She said that none of us will ever know what went on behind closed doors, so live our lives the same as we ever would.

Smart words from a woman who knew from experience that none of us can even claim to know what the hell our leaders are doing, or even what they think they're doing.

But back to the meet up --
I didn't mention Woody that night because the Kos folks were comparing notes, bringing up bloggers from the early days and listing all the blogs from which they'd been banned.  Woody was banned from all those blogs a long damn time ago for saying that the only reason he ever watched George W. Bush's speeches on TV was because he was hoping to see a nickel sized hole appear right between W's eyes.  People frowned on that sort of remark.  In fact, Lambert himself banned Woody from correntewire.com once upon a time.  Like Woody, the two Kos folks at the table that night evidently thought they were smarter and better informed than anyone they knew - and the woman was very will informed indeed, particularly about the internal workings of the DNC and about Obama's early days in Chicago when he received beaucoup bucks from the nuclear power industry.  She said that this country would be better off if Hillary had gotten the nomination, which would have happened if the DNC hadn't screwed Hillary somehow in the Texas caucuses.  Personally, I doubt we'd have seen any substantive differences if Hillary were president because she's become as hawkish as Margaret Thatcher, if you ask me, and her own daughter not only worked on Wall Street but she's now in the propaganda business. When you consider that the only thing Bill Clinton has done in Haiti is (1) build a luxury hotel and (2) purchase FEMA trailers condemned for formaldehyde after Katrina - I just don't see how anyone can think Bill Clinton walks on water even if he did, as the woman claimed, admit that NAFTA was a mistake. (Joe McEvoy at Worldwide Hippies reported on the Clintons in Haiti.  There must be links somewhere on WWH, if anybody wants a citation.  And really, anyone wanting proof of anything I say can do their own damn research).

As I recall, when the fellow I'm meeting tonight tried to engage her in conversation, she waved him off like a gnat.  I wasn't sure if that meant she was a jerk or if he was a nut or both.
I guess we'll find out more this evening.  He suggested a few places downtown, and I chose Toad Hall because I like the name.

For the record, when I told Velvet I had an actual date with a man who may or may not have been disbarred as a result of charges regarding military grade weapons and who then became a stripper - although not in a goofy club like Chip 'N Dale's but at bachelorette parties and such - all he had to say was, "Jesus Christ, Mom."  He agrees that although it sounds a little twisted, it's not boring.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Red Music

There's been discussion about Chavez lately. From what I understand, the general opinion in the US is that he was a brutal dictator. I've also heard that The Owners think of the South American continent as a US colony, and the reason the media calls him a dictator is that he presents the danger of a good example. I never thought of him until a couple of months ago myself, so I don't know much about him. I figure Obama and Bush both authorized enough killing of civilians so that the US has no business pointing fingers. I like this song by Rebel Diaz, though. Makes me want to dance. Could be I've turned fully red . . .


h/t Al Osorio at 4:09 in this video from POOR Magazine.
(trigger alert: graphic violence)

I know Al from Roundtree7.com, too.

Thing of Beauty #066-101

My friend from Roundtree7, who writes under the name Krell, made this video all by himself.

It's kind of depressing, rather like waking up on a Monday morning and dragging your ass to work especially when somebody switched the clocks on you.

Some time ago, I realized that blogging for me is like throwing a message in a bottle. Krell lives in Oklahoma, a peacenik environmentalist surrounded by people who are hell bent on fracking the world to shit and then selling water to people after they've destroyed the water supply. He sent an SOS to the world, like Sting sings about in a song I reference all the time. We don't need another hundred million bottles washing up on the shore anymore. They're floating like giant islands of plastic soup in the oceans already. But sending a message out into the ether and finding a world filled with people reaching out to grab and hold onto each others hands? That's a thing of beauty

 So is this idea:   Recycled Island

As it happens, I learned about Recycled Island from Krell too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thing of Beauty #065-101

I promised to write something about the 10th anniversary of our invasion of Iraq for Roundtree7 this weekend, so naturally I can't think of anything to say about the war in Iraq.  I don't have much to say about war in general, although I generally have plenty to say about how the overemphasis on standardized testing has led to compartmentalizing the public school curriculum which undermines critical thinking which, in connection to other socioeconomic factors, feeds the all volunteer military and provides an endless stream of low-wage workers.

I don't have much to say about the military either.  Bradley Manning's situation sums up pretty much everything anybody needs to know about the military. That most people in the US support killing little kids in Pakistan with drones just makes the whole thing worse. Here's Ethan McCord in July, 2010 in a film by The Sanctuary for Independent Media:

There are all kinds of polls showing things like 60% of the public opposes cutting the military budget by 8%, which is what happens in the event of that sequester bullshit (Business Insider).  54% of Americans support using drones on terrorists, and 29% are good with drones even when innocent civilians are blasted to bits (HuffPo).  All these statistics stand to reason when you consider that public education in the US is structured so that people can't make connections.  Jonathan Kozol outlines the whole thing in his book, The Night is Dark and I Am Far from Home: a political indictment of US public schools (1975).   When I was getting an MA in Teaching at Webster University years ago, that book was the first reading assignment.  He's written much more since then.  Woody, who was a curriculum theory professor for about 20 years, is convinced Richard Nixon was looking at all the kids saying "Hell No, We Won't Go," to Vietnam and decided then and there to dumb down America.  Given that Dick Cheney found his way into Nixon's White House through Donald Rumsfeld, you can see how that could happen and how the structure remains in place to this very day.

The whole thing gives me a sick head ache and is why I really have nothing to say about war except:

So while I've been thinking about anything except the 10 year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, I've run across a couple of ideas I like much better.

In deference to my atheist friends, let me just say that evolution and creation can be the same thing - and  even though just we clearly did not create ourselves, that does not support the concept of Grandpa in the Sky.  I don't believe in Grandpa in the Sky either, but I do believe there is a creative energetic force in the universe.   Who knows what it is or where it came from?  Nevertheless, as a long-term existentialist, I resist the idea that people come into being for any reason or purpose at all whatsoever - but once we start living our lives, people find their own reasons for being.  Love is a good one.

To me, war is pretty much the biggest example we have of what happens when people operate from Fear instead of from Love.  Marianne Williamson writes a lot about this idea, and so do a lot of other people who also reference A Course In Miracles, but Daniel Quinn's novel, Ishmael lays it out from the perspective of cultural anthropology.  Fear/Love; Spirit/Ego or as Quinn says Givers/Takers.

Dick Cheney leads the Taker charge when it comes to waging war for direct, instant profits and for future profits when he and his buddies grab the mineral rights.  We know there's a shit ton of minerals in Afghanistan that the New York times calls, "essential to modern industry" (June 13, 2010).  Who knows what's in Iraq?  We just know there never were any weapons of mass destruction.

The difference between coming from Love or Fear is so easy to see that somebody made a little chart:

Keeping yourself in the Love place is pretty tricky, however.   Remembering to notice the beauty around you helps.  Jennifer over at realia came up with the Explore Beauty challenge a long time ago.  Seems like I've been working on my list of 101 Things of Beauty for more than a year because I always forget to add things to the list.  The snow on the trees outside my window yesterday morning deserve a mention.  That brings us to #065-101.

Special thanks to Susan Cella, part of the Journey with Roundtree7 group on Facebook, who adjusted the contrast on this photo I took with my phone.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Continuing Restoration Project

Now that there is blue tile in the kitchen, the new HQ is really starting to feel like MY place.  The old HQ on Central Park West had similar tile in the kitchen.  It was a deeper blue, more like a irises and the ocean, and a little iridescent.  I might have repeated it here, but this one that reminds me of old bluejeans was discontinued so the tile store was selling it cheap.

The guys have to come back one afternoon next week to install the shelves, then Phase One of the kitchen will be complete.  I can't move on to Phase 2 without the help of the Super on account of nobody knows exactly why this ancient, capped-off pipe  is under my refrigerator.

Until this mystery is solved and somebody can cut off the pipe so that it's under the floor, the refrigerator will remain on a platform. I hate the platform for lots of reasons, but I can't afford a new refrigerator now anyway.  The old one that came with the apartment can sit on the platform for a few months.  The super will take at least that long to get around to the question of the pipe.  I'm going to keep the old stove, however, and will probably put a shelf on the wall behind it for cooking supplies.

As for the backsplash, the area used to look like this:

Then it looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

The same fellow in the middle picture put up the tile.  I suppose he'll be back to install the shelf under the cabinets.  It will be about 10" down, so that the toaster oven will plug into the outlet tI requested specifically for that purpose, although when they put in the outlet, I thought I'd have a microwave there.  I decided to stick with the toaster oven.  There will be another shelf over the sink, running at the same level as the bottom of the cabinets.

The stainless steel oscillating fan currently on top of the pantry by the stove will go up on the shelf, just to the left of the electric meter.  I don't know what I'll wind up putting on top of the pantry.  In case anyone is wondering, this is what is inside the cabinet:

The guys finished up Phase One of the bathroom, too, so there is finally a medicine cabinet:

 The obligatory shot of me in the mirror:

The jazzy articulated triple hook on the bathroom door:

And double hooks for towels on the wall behind the door:

I like describing the Restoration Project and sharing photo illustrations, and I always try to protect my privacy - but sometimes I worry about pervs and other stalker-types.  Growing up female, you learn early on that anything you say, do or wear will be construed as an invitation by some people so that if, God Forbid, something violent should happen to you, half the world will say you brought it on yourself (and not just the male half).  When Granny was about 12 and was raped by her uncle the Deacon, plenty of folks blamed Granny.  Plenty blamed alcohol too, but nobody blamed the Deacon until a few months later when he went after another little girl who wasn't related.

That stuff has been on my mind again lately.  I've been following the fallout from Seth MacFarlane's controversial production number about Boobs.  Normally, I don't pay attention to anything connected with Hollywood.  Before Velvet was born, I spent a year in the New York office of an entertainment PR firm based in LA, mostly as the office manager doing things like copying articles on jet lag for Mick Jagger and acting as secretary to a dottering old partner when he came to town.  I even had to dial the phone for him and say, "Please hold for Mr. C---n."

When you've had a job like that, you fully appreciate just how deep the bullshit is in the entertainment business.  You also have a pretty clear idea of your place in the food chain.  Mr. C---n was much more into being taken care of like a little boy than anything else.  I'm surprised he didn't ask me to button his overcoat and tie his muffler before he went downstairs to get into his limo.   So it's been over 20 years since I paid a bit of attention to any celebrity bullshit.

Seth MacFarlane wound up on my radar because my friend Manny, managing editor of The BQ Brew, posted a statement on Facebook expressing his outrage at all the dumb ass men defending rape jokes and telling women to "get over it."  Another buddy from Roundtree7, Mike, took some shit in a thread because he tried to make a distinction between misogyny and sexism - at least rhetorically.  When you're talking about patriarchal attitudes, the level of dismissiveness and arrogance displayed by some men points to an underlying contempt for everyone they consider inferior to themselves that could be considered misogyny, but the contempt is too pervasive to be that specific.  They hate other religions and races, and most likely homosexuals too - so it's not simply misogyny.  It's ass-wholery (complete and total asshole = Ass Whole h/t Konopak).

Whatever anyone has to say about the Boob song, it does highlight the objectification of women.  The writers knew very well people would be pissed which is why they set up the whole thing with Captain Kirk coming back from the future to show MacFarlane how he fucked up the Oscars with the dang song in the first place. (*Note* I didn't watch the Oscars.  I saw the number online at JustJared)  If those same writers had put as much thought into the lyrics of the song as they did to the set up, they might have left out the references to tits that were part of rape scenes and avoided articles like this one: "We Saw Your Boobs"celebrates rape on film.

Whatever about MacFarlane.  That was all just bullshit for the camera.  What resulted in Facebook threads, however, was much more troubling.  A lot of guys were dismissive and contemptuous of the women who tried to explain why they were bent about the song.  While some of those women really might not have a sense of humor, it's more likely that many of the women who were making noise about Rape Culture had been sexually abused themselves.  Thirty percent of women are abused at some point in their lives, after all.  It would be nice if more men understood that.  Then maybe they'd listen when women are trying to explain why some stupid sexist bullshit is problematic instead of being stupidly sexist themselves.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tiny Bubbles

The guys are here today finishing up the bathroom and putting up the backsplash in the kitchen.  They're also fixing the paint where they used Ceiling White instead of Decorator White semi-gloss to touch up the woodwork throughout the apartment.  Sadly, Richie the cute painter isn't with them.  He hasn't been here since well before Christmas which is how the paint on the woodwork got fucked up in the first place.  But whatever.

I can't seem to get excited about much these days - whether I'm happy about something or thoroughly pissed.  Seems like everything in the world has been one big shoulder shrug since the inauguration. It's hard to understand how so many people find so much to praise about Obama when it's clear he's just another liar in a long line of liars.  Even liars have their good points, but that doesn't change the fact that  they're liars.  The big lie, in my view, is that Obama is trying his best to protect workers and the environment - but I suppose it's more comfortable for people to believe some sugar coated bullshit than to face the fact that Game Over with climate change has passed.  Even though it will take some years before the full impact of global warming hits us all, it's still a drag.  And it's especially disheartening when people who remember Richard Nixon think any president is going to "do the right thing" and put human need over corporate greed.
But whatever.

Even though the vast majority of people in the US seem to believe the propaganda that passes for news in the mainstream media, plenty of folks have already woken up and smelled the proverbial coffee - thanks to projects like this one:

from the documentary Chasing Ice (http://www.chasingice.com)

My overall position on all this stuff - like climate change, endless wars, ecocide via the O&G business as well as the general foolishness that passes for governance in Washington DC, including the way "obamacare" opens new gateways for private insurance companies (Corrente, 03.01.13) -- is that as long as we're heading to hell in a hand basket at warp speed, I might as well be getting laid.  To that end, I've been working on clarifying my criteria for a mate.

Max (who I will continue to think of as Max the Psychic Life Coach and Hairdresser even though he's got so many private coaching clients and workshops happening that he hardly does hair anymore except for a few lucky old timers like me) recommends doing a Clarity through Contrast exercise where you write down everything you don't like about a situation and then figure out what you DO like.  For example, when you're sick of dating guys who are stuck in divorce limbo, you may start out by saying that you don't want to date anyone who is still married.  On the Clarity side of the little chart, you write SINGLE as part of your criteria.  Once you've developed a clear list of positive attributes, you then write a few paragraphs. Max calls that a Desire Statement.  It's all part of a workshop he does based on Law of Attraction stuff he learned from a fellow named Michael Losier.  Sometimes, he offers some videos for free called Manifesting with Max (http://www.maxryan.net).  I'm pretty sure there's no airier fairer fellow on the internet than Max - which is part of his charm, if you ask me.  If you're going to get fully airy-fairy new agey, might as well go to the Max.

A few weeks ago, Max recommended that I start doing this Rising and Falling meditation technique.

I kind of suck when it comes to meditating, but this Rising and Falling has really helped me get back to sleep if I wake up briefly in the night.  You're supposed to use meditation for enlightenment and stuff, I guess, and sit up when you're meditating so you don't fall asleep.  Personally, I like anything that helps me sleep - and Rising and Falling does the trick.  It's also been fun to do Rising and Falling in the bathtub because now that I can float, my body really does rise and fall as I inhale and exhale.

Naturally, I recommend smoking a little weed first.  It's especially fun to listen to yourself breathing with your ears submerged - which is fun because when your ears first go under the water, the air in your ears comes out in a rush of little bubbles.