The life I live in my imagination

It varies.

Sometimes I have a snug little homestead of 3-10 acres.  It has an orchard with apples, pears, peaches and maples.

It has a small bit of land for wheat – because I’m insane and dream of growing my own bread.

It has a magnificent vegetable and herb garden.

And naturally it has chickens.  They are content chickens doing chicken sorts of things and helping me make compost.

But sometimes, I dream of living aboard a boat.  This is nearly the antithesis of a homestead.  I want to wander about the world on my boat.  Perhaps I will have a fairly anemic tomato or a small effort at herbs.  But that sort of thing really doesn’t work on a boat.

My ideal boat doesn’t exist.  I want the boat to be able to navigate rivers and canals as well as oceans.  In case you didn’t know those are things that require different sorts of boats.  Sometimes just because humans have built bridges too low and mostly because a boat safe at ocean should have a minimum draft so it doesn’t capsize in high seas.  That doesn’t always work in inland waterways.

I want it all.  I want to have a boat with a garden that can cross the pacific and travel up the Yangtze or the Danube or the Thames.  And then I want it to be able to cross into those fabulous man made waterways that are left from a bygone era but that show you the insides of a country in ways that natural rivers don’t dream of.

Sadly most of the man made canals are no longer navigable.  Few countries invested money in their maintenance after their commercial value was nil.   But some still exist and call the boater to the interior of a country, where the fields and wilderness border the canal.

It’s my dream.  To travel indefinitely around the world by water.

Of course, neither plan is practical to my lived life.  I don’t have the money and will never be forced to decide between boats and homesteading.  And the imaginary boat that can cross oceans and glide easily in narrow shallow canals is sadly mythical.

But let’s assume all options are available.  And I’m suddenly the winner of a lottery.  I wonder if I would choose the boat.  It’s risk.  It’s constant unending change.  The homestead is safe and warm and if not utterly predictable, it has more stability than the the boating life.  I fear that given all my dreams, I might easily choose the safest option.

I’m a creature of tradition and safety.  I would choose practical reality.

But at night, as I’m falling asleep, I imagine my trip through the Grand Canal of China or the winding relaxation of a trip through Great Britain’s canals or the gorgeous views from Europe’s waterways.

Image result for uk canals

But don’t discount the homestead.  It’s a satisfying and good life.

It may not be gorgeous lights and locales but there is something deeply satisfying in working with natural rhythm of things to make food.

Image result for chicken yard making compost edible acres

I could be happy either way.  However unbrave I may be, either option is worthy in it’s own right.

Sharing your Mother with the internet

Over on tumblr everyone is sharing stories about their mom.  Most of them are affectionate and grateful.

Some are justifiable not.

It brings to mind the fact that being a mother is not a sanctifying event.  Any one with the working organs and a sperm donor can be one.  Indeed, anyone who adopts or fosters can be one.  For millennia it has been a role given by default rather than intent as though parenting isn’t one of the most important roles a human can have.

One of the more inane defenses of Huckabee Sanders is “She’s a mother.”  As though that has ANYTHING AT ALL to do with criticism aimed at her.  As though being a mother is get of out a mess free card.

But of course it’s not.  Nor are women naturally predisposed to be great mothers.  Motherhood is a daunting, exhausting, psychologically and emotionally scarring role and there is little preparation given to the VAST MAJORITY of women who become mothers.  The fact that so many of them do it well enough to continue the species and for that species to have achieved what it has to date, is the greatest achievement of women as a whole.  But it is NOT the only thing any individual woman is.

It’s daunting to be handed the responsibility for another life when your own feels out of control.  And many face motherhood on those terms.

It’s daunting to raise a contributing member of society when no one did the same for you and you struggle merely to make it through a day.  There is no escape from motherhood except in death.  You mostly can’t quit unless you do it up front.

I’m not a mother.  I was raised by one who faced the daunting task under the burden of alcoholism.  It did not always go well.  But she managed it.   And she taught me a great many things that I still hold inside me as foundations of who I am.  And in the end, she managed to dry out and I met my mother at age 21, someone different than I had lived with in childhood.   The person who overcame addiction and redirected her life was not just a mother.  She was a woman.  Who had children and did her best with them.

I worry when we reduce women to motherhood.  To some unattainable sainthood that has little depth and no soul.  A woman, can also be a mother.  But motherhood is only part of who she is.  She is a complexity of things and sometimes those things make motherhood a mess. Sometimes they make it wonderful.

Some of us aren’t mothers.  But we are assumed to be.  I got wished Happy Mothers Day 3 times today.  I’m a middle aged woman.  It is assumed that I must be a mother.

People assume this because we have reduced women to a monostate that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of her.   We have raised motherhood to a state of sanctity that no woman could achieve and quite a number dismally fail.  We would be better off as a civilization if we treated motherhood as a hard role, that requires training and support.  Instead we pretend they are born with the knowledge. No one can see the souls and hearts and the dreams of the women raising our species because the reflection off the shiny MOTHER ideal dazzles us.

 

 

How many people does it take to stop the fire alarm from beeping every minute?

Today I got to work and the fire alarm was beeping in that “my battery is dead” beep.  I told the dispatcher and said that if he could change the battery it would probably save the life of the person I would kill if I ended up listening to it all morning.

He and company’s general dogsbody guy went in and opened up the alarm.  No battery.  It’s hooked up directly to the electric.  There was no button to push to turn it off.  It just continued to beep.

So they called the owner.  He came in and was sure he knew the solution.  But couldn’t figure it out.  One of the general managers showed up and spent sometime in there with the owner, at one point falling off a ladder but not getting hurt.  Several drivers gave pointless commentary.

So the owner called the fire alarm company.   Turning off the electricity was tried on multiple occasions.  He even went so far as to turn off the electricity in the entire building.  That fucking thing just kept beeping in the dark.    The fire alarm company told him it couldn’t be beeping if they turned off the electricity, despite the very reality that it was in fact beeping.

He called in an electrician.  He and the electrician spent 2 hours searching for a sensor that could be beeping.  Finally the electrician gave up and left.  It was still beeping.

You know – in the old days this beeping would have been competently handled by the dogsbody.  He would have replaced the battery.  The owner would not even have been aware that the dogsbody did it until Monday morning, if then.  It would have been that trivial.

Instead highly paid people spent 6+ hours trying to fix it and failing.  And I’m not really sure we have that much greater advantage to this fire alarm system than the old independent battery operated units being set up every so many per number of square feet.

When I left it was still beeping.  Tomorrow the fire alarm people will show up and attempt to fix it.  I don’t hold out much hope.  I think the building could burn down and that fucker would still be beeping every minute.

Stereotyping

A couple of weeks ago someone left a phone on one of our charter buses.  They called in and said the tracker said it was at our location.  The calltaker asked a dispatcher to check.  Dispatcher sent a driver.  Driver came in saying – No phone.  Calltaker asked dispatcher to check again.  Dispatcher went himself, came in – No phone.

Calltaker, exasperated with both of these men, went out herself.  Got the phone.  The look on the dispatcher’s face was exactly this comic when she showed him the phone.

tumblr_p636108aRM1qg51mgo1_540
tahilalats.com 

One of the gender stereotypes we perpetuate is that men are apparently blind when looking for a thing that is right in front of them and women are not.  It’s funny because we all know a story that aligns with the stereotype.

But I must be the exception if that is true that women see things men don’t because I am often blindly staring at things I am looking for.    I think many women are.

So many gender stereotypes are funny.  A way to bond with our friends over stories.  But they remain problematic.

Because so many of them are either patently untrue, or perpetuate a social norm that is harmful to both society and individuals.  So many of the roles and norms we assign to masculinity are negative and harmful.  Men don’t have feelings.  Men don’t don’t need help, they are self reliant and strong.  Men fight they don’t hug.   Men don’t clean.  Men can’t find anything.

So many things that we accept are very hard on men and women.  But we have somehow normalized them.  It’s odd how easy it is to find something toxic or just plain incorrect to be normal and right.

 

The evolution of a word

Today I wrote a comment on a blog that was just the word “Gorgeous!”.

And I realized as a typed it that it has the word ‘gorge’ in it.  How odd.  They seems such distinct meanings.  So I looked it up.

According to Eymonline:

gorgeous (adj.)
c. 1500, “splendid, showy, sumptuously adorned” (of clothing), from Middle French gorgias “elegant, fashionable,” of unknown origin; perhaps a special use of gorgias “necklace” (and thus “fond of or resembling jewelry”), from Old French gorge “throat,” also “something adorning the throat” (see gorge (n.)). A connection to the Greek proper name Gorgias (supposedly in reference to a notorious sophist) also has been proposed.

Gorge is from the word throat in old french.  Which I can also feel the relationship to our present use of the word related to canyon in English, even if it is quite remote.

Which is the thing – so often one can FEEL the roots of a word.  It’s tenuous relationship to the old word is so thready and knotted but it somehow got transmitted in meaning enough that I hear the etymology and can say  – OK.  Yeah.  I can get that.

Words evolve.  Sometimes very quickly and bizarrely.  Imagine how oddly someone from the 15th century would feel about how we use the word “cool” today.  We still hold onto the meaning they understand but it’s far more common use has no real relationship they can understand to the word.

cool (adj.)
Applied since 1728 to large sums of money to give emphasis to amount. Meaning “calmly audacious” is from 1825. Slang use for “fashionable” is 1933, originally African-American vernacular; modern use as a general term of approval is from late 1940s, probably from bop talk and originally in reference to a style of jazz; said to have been popularized in jazz circles by tenor saxophonist Lester Young.

All the slang meanings have intertwined in my mind.  Each of them bringing a nuance to the various ways I use the word cool.  In fact I can think of another meaning that is not mentioned here.  It is often used as an agreement word.  I can also feel how the slang meanings are still related to its traditional meaning of chilly.  But those complexity of meanings are very hard to express,  except by saying the word.  All of its complexity is so neatly wrapped in one small word.

And now it’s being morphed again into kewl!

Language pedants often criticize people for their “wrong” use of words.  But this is just the nature of language.  It gets used and it evolves in it’s use until over time it’s a whole new meaning.   This is why humans, who all evolved from one group are now using thousands of different languages.  Because language evolves, just like humans, but much faster.   A thousand years ago people spoke English.  But we probably wouldn’t understand much of it.

 

 

 

 

 

You vote for the Problem if you don’t vote.

I’m a bit concerned about this Flouncy Mood I’ve been seeing lately among liberals online.  They are angry at Democrats in Congress for not doing more to stop Trump.  I guess shutting down the government isn’t too far.

I’ve seen quite a few of people express that if Democrat Politicians don’t try harder, they aren’t going to vote for them.   While their views certainly represent a serious lack of understanding on how our government actually runs, it’s also a foolish idealism.

Let’s GET REAL.  LIfe and Politics do not  happen in ideals.  I’m 52 and I’ve never voted for my ideal.

You vote for practical gritty reality.  

You vote for the best option.

Right now, Democrats, whatever their weakness, are the best option.

This is not a game.  Human lives are at stake.  Prancing about refusing to vote for anything but perfection will not save lives.  Voting for the best option, even when not ideal, is what saves lives.

womens-march-sign-1We don’t have time for Moods.  We need to fight with the weapons we are handed.

You vote for the problem if you don’t vote.

Oprah Winfrey is NOT qualified to be President of the United States

I love her, but NO.

Being more qualified than Trump does NOT equal Qualified. 

Donald Trump is a bar so low a mouse could step across it.  He is not the bar we should measure candidates on.

Can we stop pretending that our government is Reality TV?

It’s not.

Can we stop confusing celebrity with experience and fitness for the job???

We need to fix the system that would allow us to vote stupidly for people because we see them on TV and therefore think this makes them qualified.

It was a nice speech.  BUT BEING PRESIDENT OF THE US is not an equivalent to being a great entertainer or even a great business person.

IT IS A DIFFERENT THING.

We deserve the apocalypse we get if we vote in another celebrity.  I have no patience for anyone who would vote for Oprah Winfrey.

There are great qualified candidates out in the world.  They just didn’t have a TV show or win a golden globe.

You want to drag in a qualified liberal candidate?  Convince Elizabeth Warren to run.  That is what qualified looks like.

Or – how about Kamala Harris – she is probably going to run.  GET YOUR LIBERAL ASS OUT OF YOUR MOUTH AND TALK HER UP.

Or if you prefer men – Tim Kaine.  You loved him as VP candidate, bet you can love him as POTUS.

OR if you like your men old and wildly liberal but mildly delusional – Sanders.

ALL of these candidates are WAY more qualified for the office than Winfrey.

We need to fix this system and put a set of REAL minimum qualifications into the job of POTUS.  Right now you just have to be 35 years old and have lived in the country for the previous 14 years and be a natural born citizen.  That’s it.  Only qualifications necessary.

Having a law background, or some previous government experience is utterly unrequired.  Being able to pass some basic ethical requirements also unnecessary.  We put appointees through a more rigorous reviews than we do the people we put up for elected officials.

We deserve the mess we get.

Optimism is Irrational

I think of optimism as a denial of reality.  Both in it’s modern pop psych sense and in it’s original philosophical sense.

The original philosophy was that We are living in the best possible world.  Clearly evidence abounds that this not true.  But since it was a religious viewpoint it didn’t have to be factual, it only had to explain why the world sucked and to make people think that the world sucking was the best possible thing.   The odd part is that it is so easy to subvert into making your current choice be OK.  So one could do horrible thing or not help in horrible situations and just say – this is the best possible choice because this is the best possible world.

Today though, optimists are really just positive thinkers and so don’t say that this is the best possible world, but they use a variation of it.  They look at the happy side of life in all situations.  But in order to do that, one has to ignore the bad things.  Or one has to manipulate one’s view of a situation to change a negative thing into a positive thing.  So an optimist drops a glass of red wine and says “one less glass to wash!” “I need to drink less, this was fortunate.”  How pleasant and positive.  But it ignores the red wine stain on the white carpet.  The dangerous broken glass that needs to cleaned up.  And if you need to drink less – that is a problem that requires an active solution, not an accidental chance.

When I worked in Corporate America, this positivity thing was toxic.  They would implement a change and if anyone expressed a concern or pointed out a problem, they were labeled negative.  Don’t Be A Complainer!  Be Positive about Change!  As though that would fix things.  But it quite naturally did not. Instead it taught people to avoid pointing out issues. As a result changes were often littered with problematic outcomes that everyone worked around without complaining to anyone who could fix it.  More work but better for your career.   Looking at problems and addressing them fixes it.  Pretending they don’t exist does not.

That corporate positivity is an offshoot of the pop-psychobabble that pretends that if people think positively everything will turn up roses.  Affirmations of positive things!  Project your best future!  Imagine  your best life and it will appear!   It’s not quite the same thing as positivity, but it takes that same delusional manipulation of reality as its platform and just magnifies it 10 fold by including magical thinking.

I think we need to look at life complexly.  I recognize and don’t think that we should ignore the positive aspects of life.  And I think being able to see the silver lining is good. But it is a silver lining in a storm.  It’s not the entirety of the situation.

Optimism and Pessimism are equally pointless projections.  There is value in Reality.  In looking at the entire situation and acknowledging all of it.  In the long run it means positive change.  Because there is no point in changing if this is the best of all possible worlds or if all I do is focus on the positive and ignore the negative.

It’s important to see that same situation can be viewed from different perspectives, as with half empty / half full glass.  Because we need to be aware that all we are doing is changing our own viewpoint, not the situation.  The amount of water in the glass remains fixed.   But being able to see it both ways makes you aware of the flaw of perspective.  If you focus only on how full it is, you may not recognize that you will need more water.  If you focus on how empty it is you may panic and start hoarding water.  If you realize that there are two perspectives you can set that aside and look for larger context.  How much water do I have and how much do I need and what actions do I need to take?

Reality is Complicated.  Simplification doesn’t help you.  Positivity / Optimism is simplification.

The Difference between Hope and Optimism

Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse.  Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen:  may it happen for you.

I’m not a fan of optimism.  It strikes me as irrational.

But this poem, fully recognizes every goddamn thing usually does go wrong and reminds us that sometimes the world steps forward into the light and things go right. We survie a new day better than the previous one.  Sometimes.

What I find most encouraging is that those sometimes moments seem to have more power than I give them credit for.  Because the arc of history suggests things are improving for humankind.   Slowly creeping toward a place that in the exhausting daily battle of today’s world affairs it seems impossible to achieve.

Fewer children die, more diseases get eradicated or controlled,  there is less war.  It feels impossible to believe but it is true. And it was achieved by just a few people.  A small percentage of us took initiative.  A few people were the sometimes and things got better.   The power of those moments of sometimes is great.

It’s important to remember when the world feels like it is sliding irrevocably into a pit of despair.  There is a crack of light in the distance.  The darkness, while deep and present, is not complete.

WAKE UP!

I would like to celebrate that Moore wasn’t elected.

But all I can do is see the demographics.  2/3rds of white women voted for a man who preys on teenage girls.  

TWO THIRDS. 

Jones, and the nation, was saved by black voters.  By a smart, well run, get out and vote movement among black citizens.  People who recognized a racist sexual predator was NOT  a good choice for congress.

I don’t know how to make white women pay attention.  To stop and think about the things that they have just accepted as part of the nature of life WHICH DO NOT HAVE TO BE.

I don’t know what will make anyone stop and think about the broader context.  To look beyond defending their identity and into facts in context.

And the lack of thinking is what has led to the state of this country.