29 March 2009

Let the Ass Kicking Begin

Take a look at this guy. This is Robert Powell. Young guy. Not bad looking. A nice, young Texas man who serves his community as a police officer.

Know what else is he? A shining example of everything that is wrong with the police in this country.

Thanks to this idiot, we have yet another indefensible example of police abuse of power. Not because the policeman drew his gun on the occupants of a car who ran a red light on their way to the hospital, which he did. Nor that the officer ignores the pleas of the driver who explains over and over and over that he has a dying parent in the hospital RIGHT NOW, which he did. Nor that the officer spends an extraordinary amount of time lecturing the driver on his "attitude", which he did. Nor that he threatened to arrest the driver and tow his vehicle because his "attitude sucked", which he does. Nor even that he does so in all likelihood because the driver is African American. It is indefensible because the officer failed to demonstrate any human decency or compassion at all. I implore you. Watch the video. Please. Do it. See what black people go through in this country. Please. Then read this. It's from field negro. Keep in mind the field is an attorney. Not some under-educated race-baiting blogger. Note what he says he does when he is pulled over for a traffic stop.
as a black man I know all the rules of survival when stopped by the po po, especially if I am on another planet like Texas. I know to keep my hands where they can be seen. I know to point to where my registration and insurance card is, and to tell the officer when I am reaching for it. And I know to dial my programmed home number in my cell phone (to get my home recording device) as the officer approaches my car, and keeping my cell phone on all times. I know to make sure I make a mental note of the officer's badge number and his name. And finally, I know to always show my pearly whites before my yes and no sirs.

Compare that to what you do (if you are white). Say what you will. If that police officer had pulled me over, I seriously doubt that traffic stop would have gone down the same way.

The Dallas police chief, made a formal apology and noted that the officer--after reviewing the tape of the traffic stop--still didn't think he had done anything wrong.

Ryan Moats' mother-in-law died in the 14 minutes that he and his father-in-law were detained by Robert Powell. A father did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to his daughter. Ryan did not get to be there for his wife as her mother died. Nope. Ryan and his father-in-law were too busy putting up with this overblown egomaniac in the parking lot. THAT is indefensible.

How the hell Moats found the strength to "yes, sir" and "no, sir" this guy is beyond me.

Do you think this officer should keep his job? Do you think the 14-minute lesson and lecture that he delivers to Ryan and his father-in-law was more important than allowing them to see their mother-in-law and daughter as she lay dying? Do you think it is fair that the father-in-law felt compelled to stay behind with his son-in-law because he feared for the young man's safety given the officer's attitude? Do you think that anything that Ryan Moat did justified being detained for 14-minutes when time was at a premium?

I sure don't. For fuck's sake, A NURSE came out of the hospital to implore the officer to speed it up.

This officer should not keep his job. There is a case to be made for imposing pain and suffering in this situation. Powell should get no immunity from prosecution. Powell's behavior underscores the lack of proper training for police officers in this country. It underscores the lack of proper recruiting, screening, and self-policing. Powell demonstrates poor judgement and judgement in tense situations is EXACTLY what we demand of police officers. Grace under fire. This guy is nothing more than a prick with a badge and a gun. I know plenty of a passive-aggressive pricks who try to manipulate a conversation by maintaining a calm voice while making outrageous and unreasonable demands on others. In cases like this, don't let demeanor cloud your perception of who is out of control. This is a textbook film of COPS GONE WILD. I believe the officer did this because Moats failed to defer to him, failed to lick his boots, failed to show fear. Suspend that idiot without pay. Fire him forthwith. And I hope the guy can't get a job as a rent-a-cop at a parking lot after this.

The part I find most unbelievable is that Powell acted this way with full knowledge that he was being taped. Powell's car camera filmed the incident. But then again, what do you expect from someone who thinks this is acceptable behavior? I seriously question the screening being undertaken in Dallas for police recruits.

On the likelihood that these actions were racially motivated. Call it my peculiar love interests (although I don't find them all that peculiar), but I find the inability of white society to SEE black people, but black men in particular, as PEOPLE, as one of the great failures, embarrassments, and deficiencies of which we should be collectively ashamed. I think it is time we did a little house cleaning ourselves. Because this officer is not an isolated incident.

I was in Quatros Friday evening with D-friend Bek, trying to enjoy a pizza and pitcher, when a white man in his 30s and his wife walked in, sat at the booth next to ours and then began to wax philosophical about niggers. I was incensed. I was just about to get up and give this bucked-tooth hillbilly a piece of my mind, when Bek implored me to let it go. As I didn't want to embarrass my friend, I did as she wished. But had I been alone, I imagine that both Mr. Bucktoothed Hillbilly and I probably would have been kicked out of Quatros following the discussion that ensued.

I thought about this afterwords. It dawned on me that this guy sat down in a public place, took one look around and saw that there were no people of color around and began to harp on what I'm sure was one of his favorite subjects: those damn niggers. I don't want this guy to feel that kind of safety any more. I want this guy to understand in no uncertain terms that a sea of white people isn't safe for the likes of him anymore. Dirty looks don't cut it. They feel invincible. I want to make the bigots as uncomfortable as humanly possible. I want this guy to sit down in a restaurant and think twice before he starts in on the hate speech. I want him to wonder from what direction and how strong the fire power is that is going to hit him if he so much as DARES to do that kind of shit again. Not only that, I want the owners of the establishment know that their customers won't tolerate hate speech and if they intend to enable it, their customers will go elsewhere. I want them to know that it's not just my business, but the business of everyone I know. (Trust me, no one I know is going to take their pet to the Lakeside Veterinary Clinic.) I am damn tired of letting it slide. I am sick and tired of white people thinking that they are safe to spout hatred in a room full of white people. I am sick and tired of having some white people think white means hate for everything non-white. I don't hate and I'm pulling the plug on that fantasy.

I am putting everyone who knows me on notice. I'm not letting this stuff slide any more. If we encounter the ignorant, racist sort that are bent on making others listen to their bigotry, I'm not shutting up. I'm not letting it go. I'm speaking up. In my family. Among my friends. In a place of business. On the street. At the park. I don't care anymore. Something in me snapped today. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. I hope you'll stand with me, but if you don't, I'll stand alone. I'll understand if you take a walk. But I am done accommodating, tolerating and ignoring racial bigotry.

I think of the black men I know and count among my friends, J, Guv, Curtis, David, and okay, maybe even Stewart and Alvin, I see people. One is smarter than me. One is richer than me. One is waaaaay harder working than me. One is more talented than me. One is the sweetest, most gentle man imaginable. One has such an amazing personality that I feel better every time I talk to him. I don't see scientists, or businessmen, or average joes, or entertainers, or pencil pushers or blue-collar guys. I don't even see black guys. I see real people with real ideas, and real hopes, real feelings and real lives. They wow me sometimes and make me laugh sometimes and make me feel their pain sometimes. And through them, I have come to understand that their lives and my life are not remotely close because they, somehow, have accepted that the world isn't the same for them and me. That anyone would see them any differently than I do because they have black skin or African ancestors makes no sense at all. I have white skin and European ancestors. They are good men and my friends and that's all that matters.

The buck stops with D. I'm here to tell you. Let the ass kicking begin.

22 March 2009

Why my back hurts

Once upon a time, my house looked like this. Pretty bare, huh? So I decided to do something about it.I moved in my house in Fall 2003. So in Spring 2004, I started doing some planting. There was an apple tree seedling growing over on the far side of the garage where no one could see it and where it didn't have room to grow. So I moved it out front. I planted a bald cypress in the back.

And a river birch out along the property line. You see, the winter of 2003-2004 was very wet. My backyard looked like a swimming pool. Rather than undertake expensive draining of the yard, I decided to soak it up into trees. Unfortunately, as it turns out, 2003-2004 was a very wet year around here and we haven't had that much water since. The trees, I fear, are going to limp along.

I also put in what I hoped would be a hedge row of American cranberrybush. I love those bright red berries in winter, and the viburnum flowers just look great in summer. But you see that silver maple down at the end of the row?

That damn tree is sucking the life out of everything around it. Out of my burning bushes. Out of my cranberry bushes. Out of my garden which also went in during 2004.

It's pretty amazing what one $2.50 packet of seeds can do for your yard.

This year, I got some free mulch from the electric company. Ok, "some mulch" may be an understatement. I got two piles as large as this one. I started in on the other pile first because the electric company guys put it over onto the city's property and I didn't want any trouble. So I worked on it for 2 days.

And this is 3 days. And then someone stole my wheelbarrow out of my yard. So there it sat for 2 months.So yesterday, I got busy and took care of the last of the first pile. Whoo hooo! All gone.

And this is where it went.

Won't be long before it looks like this. Plus, I won't have to mow behind those bushes this year!

Man, I just love spring. And fix-up projects. I can't wait for the pictures I'm going to take this year.

To Nationalize or Not to Nationalize

In essense, we already have nationalized some of the world's largest banks. But I'm glad to see Congress finally stepping up to do something about the ongoing mismanagement of our financial credit system. When you bail out a company with funds, without which it would go bankrupt, there's a word for that. You just BOUGHT it.

The country owns these financial institutions and it should run it like it does.

I for one, think that the Bush Bailout Bill (BBB) was his last big F-U to the American public on his way out the door. His administration made SURE that executive bonuses would be paid at least one last time. On the other hand, I blame Obama for not canceling those bonus contracts the minute those funds hit the bank.

The way I look at it, I paid more than $30K in taxes this year in the form of lost retirement funds, and I'll be damned if that money should go to pay a $5000 bonus to a freakin' receptionist who had the dumb luck to get a job at a criminal enterprise. I don't care how big the crocodile tears are that she sheds.

Give me a freakin' break already.

On the promising news front, the Pope has stopped dispensing medical advice.

20 March 2009

Regarding Bonuses Paid to Employees of Bailed Out Financial Institutions

Bonuses paid to the professional fucktards that are driving our economy into the ground. Just another of things that make D's bullshit meter top out. As reported in the NY Times today, I just want to let some of the statements made by bank executives of bailed out financial institutions sink in.

Bank executives, who requested anonymity because they did not want to further alienate lawmakers, said their employees were on edge and many would face severe financial hardship if they were severely taxed on money already paid.

“It’ll impact tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands of people,” said Alan Johnson, managing director at Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm in New York, noting that the tax would apply to a bonus recipient with family income of more than $250,000. “If you’re a receptionist and your husband is a doctor, your $5,000 bonus just vaporized. It’s not just the C.E.O.’s.”
Holy shit! There are receptionists at A.I.G. getting $5000 bonuses? Where the **** do I sign up for one of THOSE jobs? I worked for 15 years in various companies and institutions as a professional, a manager, and your average worker. Never in all that time did I ever receive a raise based on performance that amounted to $5,000 in a single year. And yes, I lived in an expensive urban area (Chicago). It took me YEARS to increase my salary by $5K. What in the world is a RECEPTIONIST doing that is worth that kind of bonus? On average, my salary between 1986 and 2000 increased by a little over 2% per year. The only real increases in salary I achieved were by switching companies and seeking better jobs based on increasing years of experience. Contrast my career with this:
But several executives at Wall Street banks said they were being unfairly caught up in a hasty response by Washington that would ultimately deliver a sharper blow to their companies than to A.I.G., which set off the furor. One bank executive said employees were coming into his office in tears.
Yeah. Tears suck. Just like the tears of people like me who have lost more than 50% of their retirement funds because these employees played fast and loose with the American economy and fucked the rest of us over. Remember folks, we aren't talking about poor people with low incomes. We are talking about folks with family incomes greater than $250K. We are also talking about taxpayer funds. Every company I ever worked for that had a history of giving out bonuses tied those bonuses to performance and to the overall health of the company. If the company didn't do well, bonuses were scrapped. Capish? I would like to point out that I made $15K last year. A $5K bonus would amount to 30% of my regular income. Cause you know, what I do is soooooo much less important than that of a receptionist at AIG.

When we talk about people with their freakin' priorities out of whack, I think we have hit the nail on the head. Someone needs to hit these folks in their pocketbooks. I feel sorry not one whit for the tears and tribulations of overpaid professional failures. Suck on a little hard times, you pin-stripe wearing, entitlement thugs. Kick the buggers to the curb I say, and it appears that history is on my side. For the health of the economy and for the love of justice, fire these idiots and how.

17 March 2009

Another reason the Catholic Church (and most organized religion) is obsolete

File this in the WTF bin. The Pope is neither a doctor nor a scientist and those who listen to his medical advice get exactly what they pay for. And did you ever notice that this is a global pandemic and yet the Pope only opens his mouth about AIDS when he is on his way to Africa?

It would appear that the Catholic Church thinks those dark people are not being moral and this is their penance.

Oh, the stupid. It burns.

15 March 2009

Wherein the author checks in to reality central

So tonight I spoke on the phone for the first time with D-fav J. He is everything a girl could want in an internet boyfriend and then some. He's got the goods, ladies. Plus--added bonus--he finds both my accent and southernisms exceedingly cute. Few men find D all that cute these days so he wins BIG TIME for that. It's refreshing. So shut up already if I pine on about my IBF.

But anyway, our conversation got me thinking about some interesting things. For some reason, earlier today I was thinking about Jennifer Salyers. She was my locker partner in 7th grade. OK, in those days there was a thing called junior high school and it was a place they warehoused 7th, 8th and 9th graders before shipping them off to high school. And home rooms were organized by last names, so Salyers and Saunders were in the same homeroom. So Jennifer was a CHEERLEADER. And D was a swimmer. I think I asked her if she wanted to share a locker. I recall not really knowing anyone else in my classroom and she was a girl and she was close by. Things were great for a while. I was happy to have a popular locker partner. She kept her blue and white pompoms in the bottom of our locker and I thought they were pretty neat. However, I apparently didn't meet overall CHEERLEADER criteria for acceptable locker partners and soon I was made to feel awkward as Jennifer and her CHEERLEADER friends shot me disapproving looks every time I went to my locker at homeroom time. After a few weeks of that, I made sure I only went to my locker when Jennifer and her cronies weren't around. It seemed that for no apparent reason the shine had worn off D. I tried to make the best of it. But being made to feel like an untouchable for an entire year takes its toll on a young, developing psyche.

Now why would I think of that today? I think there are events in your life that shape you and believe it or not, I think that is one of mine. I was brought to the pinnacle of popularity and failed. I think that single moment labeled me (in my own eyes if not in the eyes of the "in crowd") as less than. I suffered from "less than" syndrome throughout high school. I didn't think boys would like me. I didn't think I was attractive. I didn't think I was smart, or talented or distinguished in any way. I was fairly good at athletics, but there were others who were better. I had a small group of peers who I entertained with my antics. But all in all, I didn't think I had whatever it was that was needed. I was second tier. The problem with this thinking is that it came to define me. When I started thinking about colleges, I didn't think I had the money or the brains to get in a top college so I didn't try. I went to the state college. I was interested in things that weren't supposed to interested women and early in my college career I had encountered several misogynists that led me to believe that the world wasn't ready for a female Quincy. I decided it wasn't for me to change the system. I tried business, but had no interest. I needed a major and had one supportive professor so I picked English. I tried to fit the mold of what I thought English majors were and came to fancy myself some sort of creative type (I'm not sure that any self-analysis resulted in a more skewed result). I even took a Briggs-Myers test and was smart enough to realize how to manipulate my answers to feed into the perception I had of myself. And WOW, when I got my results, it told me that I would be good at exactly what I thought I wanted to do.

My life has been hancuffed by this second-tier belief. It's funny. I applied to the University of Illinois and was accepted. I applied to the University of California-Irvine and was accepted. In fact those things mean more to me than I think my doctorate will. Because I applied to top tier schools and wasn't found lacking. I chose to go where I am, and sure, I am FED THE FUCK UP with grad school most of the time, but no one can take away the fact that I measured up.

As we entered high school, it became increasingly apparently that Jennifer Salyers was destined to pursue the "dumb blonde" stereotype. She grew up and married a guy who developed a drug problem and held up a store and landed in jail. I ended up divorced and pursuing a Ph.D. I'm not happy about the course of Jennifer's life, but I'm just pointing out that popularity in high school doesn't mean squat in real life. I wish that locker-partner thing had gone differently. Perhaps both of our lives would have turned out differently.

12 March 2009

The Invisible ESA Award: Ten Months and Counting

For those who are unaware, I applied for an ESA award in May 2008. The Forrest Shreve Award to be exact. It is sponsored by the Desert section of ESA. Full of nice people, I'm sure. I attended the ESA conference in Milwaukee (missing only by hours meeting my internet boyfriend). Award winners were published in the ESA program for most of the other section awards, but not for the Desert section.

I waited until mid-August to inquire about the winner. I contacted the person to whom I submitted my application. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

I wrote the same guy again in October. [crickets]

Not wanting to appear, you know, anxious, I sat on this for a while. I remembered that I hadn't heard anything when ESA began to send me reminder notices about re-upping my membership. So I called the folks in Washington. I was given contact information for the head of mucky-muck something or other, so I emailed this person. That was three weeks ago. Nothing. Not a peep.

So I called Washington again. They suggested I talk to one of their staff, who was out to lunch. They couldn't take a message because they don't have voice mail. [waits for the concept to sink in]

I know. I'm thinking the same thing.

So I sent another email. Can you guess what happened next? That's right. Nothing.

My hero and internet boyfriend, D-fav J, happens to know the current Prez of ESA and mentioned this to her. Still, nothing. But I'm not without hope. Just thought I'd let you know where your hard-earned membership dollars are going over at ESA. Needless to say, I haven't renewed my membership and don't intend to until I hear from these folks with an answer.
I'm such a rebel.

11 March 2009

Rihanna, Chris Brown, the British, and my downstairs neighbor

Lots of celebrity watching tongues a waggin' about the reported reconciliation between Rihanna and Chris Brown. I don't watch television, but even in my brief scanning through channels, I have managed to pick up that both The View and Oprah have had shows talking about the event. For those who don't know or haven't heard, Rihanna (a very young pop star) and Chris Brown (a very young rapper/pop star) are dating and following some award show in February, Chris beat the living shit out of Rihanna. Allegedly. He was arrested, and like many allegedly abused women, Rihanna has returned to her abuser. Everyone has advice for her. I hope she's listening. There are lessons to be learned here.

On the heels of that, comes this--a scathing indictment of male privilege in Britian (read: and the rest of the western world).

Whoa. Let's review the content of this study.

One in seven British men people surveyed indicated it is acceptable for a man to hit his spouse/girlfriend for wearing revealing clothing in public or for "constantly nagging or moaning at him". Ladies, you might want to cancel that pool membership/beach vacation this summer and for God's sake, don't ask him to empty the garbage.

One in ten people surveyed indicated that it is acceptable for a man to slap his spouse/girlfriend for flirting with another man. Ladies, no more charming the socks off the husband's boss or you'll get yours when you get home.

Interestingly enough, it is far more acceptable to the British public for a man to hit his wife/girlfriend for flirting or not treating him with respect than for actually cheating on him. Apparently, appearances are everything. Presumably he is PUBLICLY humiliated by flirting and being dissed, but only privately humiliated by cheating.

According to the study, Brits think women are at least partly to blame for rape and sexual assault if they are wearing sexy clothing. Welcome to the age of the burka, ladies.

What is most disturbing to me is that only 86%/76%/64% are likely to intervene if they suspect a female family member/friend/neighbor is a victim of abuse. Of those who refused to intervene, 62%/69%/72% felt it was none of their business, for the couple to work out, or they simply didn't want to get involved. Ladies, if you were expecting your neighbors to act like grown ups, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Nothing like a little empathy for others to create a cohesive community.

Am I alone in thinking that this is totally fubared? I lived upstairs from a domestic abuser when I first moved to Chicago. Honestly, the man was an idiot. He was a drunk. He hid his beer in the bushes in front of the house. When I found it, I took it. He had a wife half his size and a toddler. He would get drunk, the wife would begin nagging at him for drinking, things escalated, and the beating and screaming began. I could hear it coming, even if she couldn't. I called the cops regularly.

This was not a house they were unfamiliar with. Where domestic abuse is the norm, these people do come to the attention of the police. But apparently, the police depend on the abused to file charges, and many are unwilling to do so.

My brother thought I was kidding about it until he moved in with me following the breakup of his marriage. One night when I was out with friends and he was home alone, one of those fights began. My brother called the police. When the police arrived he went out and talked to them. He told the officers that if they didn't remove this guy from his apartment and throw him in jail all night, when they left, he would take care of the situation. They took the guy away.

One day, after my brother moved out, I called the landlord. I'd had enough. I told him that I was afraid of the abuser downstairs. I told him that I had no idea whether he was a danger to others or just his wife. I explained that he was a drunk. I explained about the booze hidden in the bushes. I told him that something had to be done. That I lived alone. That I didn't feel safe.

The next day, the wife from downstairs came and knocked on my door. She stood there, with a black eye and told me that she was sorry they had disturbed me. She tried to calm my fears that he was not a danger to the single woman upstairs who had turned him in to the police and called the landlord. I stared at her. I must have looked incredulous, because the more she talked the more animated she became. She kept apologizing to me. She did. Where was her mother-fucking coward of a wife-beating husband? I bet he sent her up there to take care of this problem.

I let her speak her peace. When she finished, I told her only this.

"One day, he is going to kill you."

She turned and walked back downstairs into her apartment and closed the door.

I moved out when my lease was up. I have no idea what happened to that couple. I hope he hasn't killed her.

Thank God for this guy.

Shooters gone wild

A man in Alabama killed 10 people and then himself this morning. Just another segment in our ongoing series, Mass Murder in America, coming soon to a television news program near you. Over the coming days, I'm sure we will learn quite a bit about this man's life. (Out of curiosity, compare this to what we learn about the lives of the people he murdered.) Why do people do this? What sort of mental defect, meltdown, or deviant personality is responsible for this kind of unforeseen, unpredictable, and unstoppable behavior? Why? Why? Why? Why do so many people have to die?

I understand anger. I understand depression, too. I understand being so despondent that you contemplate ending it all. I have been there. But I have not been here. There is a trend, dare I say, of people becoming overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and instead of riding it out or getting some help or even killing themselves, they kill everyone they hold near and dear. Oh, I get that the people closest to you can come (rightly or wrongly) to be seen as a the cause of all your difficulties and mental unrest. But I do not get the mental defect that embeds itself in an human brain telling a man that the only way to deal with a problem is to kill every individual he encounters in a single day--to kill people not remotely associated with his pain--to just kill, kill, kill, and kill again.

I believe, or at least I tend to believe that most people think things through. There are "crimes of passion" in which a blind flash of anger can end in total destruction. Instead of slapping someone, someone gets shot. Or stabbed. Or strangled. Usually a single occurrence and usually not likely to be repeated. But when we talk about Mass Murder in America, we aren't talking about crimes of passion. Mass murder demands a plan that, at a minimum, involves a hit list, a travel route, an armament list, a shopping list, a disguise, an escape plan, and a game-over plan. Even in a demented mind, these thought processes are undertaken, no matter how twisted and dark the road, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the action they are taking is right, smart, and justified. I don't think it is in human nature to kill indiscriminately. I think, even in the face of tremendous mental illness, the tendency to justify our actions remain. Uncovering that logic is the only hope we have to answer the eternal question, "Why?".

There is the camp that says you can't figure out why when you are dealing with madmen. I disagree. But when the mentally corrupt kill themselves when cornered, you lose the key bit of evidence in the scenario. You lose the logic. If psychologists and sociologists haven't already resolved why people do this and how to identify and treat them (and I'm assuming they haven't otherwise, the CDC would have issued a directive to the police, mental health workers, schools, and the American public), perhaps our approach to this epidemic (when one is one too many), is to take a different approach to capturing the shooters.

How does a person get from "I'm going to kill myself" to "I'm going to kill myself, my wife, my children, my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, my wife's family, several police officers and one or two random strangers on the street in an all-out, blaze o' glory, free-for-all"? It's like the Darwin Award, the Darwin-in-law Award, and the Darwin-Twice-Removed Award all rolled into one. You don't just wipe out your own genome; you wipe out every last individual on Earth that shares a significant portion of your genome as well as anyone who found that genome attractive. Why does this only seem to afflict white men of a certain age group? Why does this seem to be an American phenomenon?

I have no idea, but I will posit some theories.

On their being white. Whites have a culture of privilege. They think that they "deserve things by virtue of being". Oh, they may not explicitly finish that phrase with "being white", but they think they deserve them without having earned them. We label this white privilege because other racial groups don't suffer from this delusion and sense of entitlement. I don't know a single black man of any age who thinks the world is going to plop a home, a meal, a wife, top-notch health care, a safe place to raise his children, a college education, a stable job, and a stress-free marriage into his lap without having to bust his ass to earn it. Ditto for Asian men. This is a uniquely white cultural defect.

On their being American. Replace every instance of "white" with "American" in the preceding paragraph and then replace "race" with "country". There's my theory. Apparently, my theory needs rethinking.

On their being men. Men, particularly those in blue collar communities, are brought up in a culture that defines manliness by an ability to lead, provide, and protect. A man is expected to be the leader in his home, his place of work, and his community. He is expected to earn a living. He is expected to earn more than his wife. He is expected to be the deciding vote on matters of family, and to have veto power over all others in the home. And he expects everyone else to go along with his expectations. Oh, some of you educated and enlightened men claim to see your role as "partner" with your spouse, but when push comes to shove, there is something inside the head of most men that self-identifies as "submissive" or "dominant" depending on who makes the important decisions in their lives. In our culture, leadership and power are male traits and men have grown comfortable with this. They now have a sense of entitlement to it. Look at any corporate board, disparity in pay between men and women, numbers of female vs. male CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, yadda, yadda, yadda. Men will compare themselves to one another all day long by money. While they can see that women and minorities might not make as much money, they believe the answer is to simply pay them more. Men don't understand that it isn't a matter of saving money that causes women and minorities to make less for the same job. It is the maintenance of a power differential. White men don't compete with women and minorities. They are separate ball games. I would guess that few white men, when promoted to a supervisory position, have their subordinates decide, en masse, to quit rather than work for someone of their gender. Or color. Or nationality. I theorize that most men, haven't had to ease their colleagues into accepting their advancement, or to develop alternative methods for ensuring that others "accept" their leadership. I doubt few men get nicknames like "bitch" or "ball-buster" applied to them by virtue of doing their job. I believe men are used to standing up and proclaiming their leadership in a "if you don't like it, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out approach" and this attitude generally works for them. Women and men of color generally haven't enjoyed this unique brand of self-aggrandizement. And yet, white American men seem to think this is "normal". When normal is threatened, some men panic. Some men panic a whole lot.

On their being, generally, younger than 50. With age comes wisdom. It's an adage for a reason. People who kill themselves, I think, don't believe that things will change. They don't believe they will ever feel better. They don't have the benefit of experience with failure. They don't know how to change their circumstances. They are hopeless. Whether their hopelessness has merit is questionable. With age comes experience, acceptance, and assurance. It is a genuine shame that we can't share so many lessons borne of experience. Some lessons must be learned the hard way. Like marriage. Like humility. Like failure. Like getting beyond depression. And when you are dealing with a weak mind, assurances that things will change/get better/pass are less likely to be believed.

But there is a missing piece here. We can posit that young, white, American men have the cards stacked against them. They have a sense of entitlement so grand that if the world fails to provide them according to their sense of entitlement, they crumble. But how that cookie crumbles into a bloody rampage is the question.

Why? Don't you think it's time we found out?

10 March 2009

Am I a Hipster because I love IKEA?

The latest Ikea build/hack.

Kitchen before.

Kitchen after.

These shelves are heavy duty. And kick-ass sleek.

Heavy duty due to the fact that I actually used toggle bolts. Of course I only dropped two down inside the wall.

I'm really wishing I'd bought two of those wine racks now. Don't look at those places where I touched up the wall. I have to get some paint. I'm out.

And I wish I'd bought two of these rails. I'd like to spread all that out more. For now, I think I'm just going to remove the lids, spread out the utensils. But at least they aren't on the stovetop anymore.

So let's review. One trip to Chicago for the IKEA shelving. $250. One trip to the hardware store for screws and such before the project began. $5. One bandage for the cut finger. 50 cents. Another trip to the hardware store for 2 more toggle bolts and dryer venting. $6.

Ikea shelving intalled...PRICELESS!

Tess, Spot and other stupid names for dogs

Meet Tess.

A bad ass she is not. Not that a dog has to be a bad ass, mind you. But I prefer a dog you can, you know, hold a conversation with. Tess, like D-sis dog Chance, is of the spaniel-setter sort and I'm going to be honest. Those dogs are just a bit odd.

Put D-fav Jake in the backyard and he wanders around and sniffs things and generally explores the neighborhood. Put Tess in the backyard and she points. She points at the fence. At the birdfeeder. At the shed. Oh yes, Tess. Thank you. I was afraid I might miss the shed, but there it is.

Tess is not a good dog name. I'm fairly disappointed in D-bro for that one. D-bro wasn't always a poor dog namer. He had a dog named Blackjack. In fact, the dog's full name was Blackjack Dog. He won her in a poker game. Now that is a good name. Then came Max. But now...Tess? Come on. Then he tells me about his daughter-in-law's dog...the one the parents let the kids name....called Spot. For Christ's sake. Spot? What is wrong with these people? Parents are supposed to delicately say to the kid, Spot seems good now, but why don't we think of another name like Scooter. You like your scooter, don't you? And before you know it, the kid thinks they named the dog Scooter.

So for those of you without a clue about how to name a dog, I'm going to offer some guidelines.

1. A dog falls into a great dog name. It just fits. You'll know it when you find it. So don't rush it. You need to learn the dog's personality. It will come to you. Don't worry. Try out a few before deciding on one for sure.

2. You can name dogs after things. States. Trucks. Brands of Beer. As long as it's manly beer, like Fosters. Not Heineken. You can name them after cities. Austin. Denver. Boston (better if it's a terrier). Just please, no Sacramentos or Peirres. You cannot name them after candy bars. How many poor chocolate labs have I met named Hershey or Nestle? No, you aren't the first one to think of that. Why don't you just put a pink tutu on the dog and sign it up for obedience school? Sheesh.

3. Great male dog names should have one or two HARD syllables and start with a hard consonant.


4. The name should be solid. It should be short and to the point. In general, don't name a male dog a popular kid name, but feel free to use people names that are currently out of fashion.


But there is little you can do if retarded parents begin to name their kids good dog names. Take my first dog Dakota.

5. You can name dogs after famous people, but do I really have to point out that HITLER and STALIN are probably not the best names, even if it's a pit bull. You can name them after scientists, but only if you are careful. So DARWIN and WALLACE are okay, but I don't ever want to meet a dog named ASA or DOBZANSKY or HAECKLE. Humboldt is not okay, but if shortened to BOLT,you might pass. KIMURA is marginal even though K-names in general are usually not bad. Save that shit for cats.

6. Never, ever, ever give them a Latin name for a plant or animal. First, it exposes you as a geek, but it also isn't fair to the dog to be named Violaceous euphonia.

7. Bitches can have more delicate names, and more fun names, but they, too, should be solid. You can go three syllables. I like a two-part name. One part state, the other part color: Dakota Red, Nevada Blue. But think on these for a bit.

Pat (the dog)

7. Stay away from things like Baby or Sweetie, Bubbles, Wiggles, or Princess. Also cast off as unacceptable all uber fashionable names like Bailey, Madison, River, Rain, and now, sadly, Dakota.

8. Avoid foreign names for your dog. I don't care that it's a Chihuahua, Jesus isn't a great dog name. No Jean-Paul's for poodles either. Celtic names for border collies are popular, but I'm not fond of them. Jake's originally name was Keifer. I knew I couldn't live with that and neither could he. In addition, weird spellings make no sense for dogs. THEY CAN'T SPELL. So no to Raen and Ryver. Irish setter named Kelly. Oh what the hell, go ahead. Just please, don't spell it Kaeli.

I hope that these guidelines offer you some help in fielding an appropriate name for your companion. Let's hope the days of Tesses and Spots are few. If you can't decide on a name for a while, give your dog a nickname. I called D-friend Bek's dog Moo-moo for a while because it had spots like a cow. The dog is now more appropriately named Dixie. But if you have gone days or weeks without finding an appropriate name for your dog, there is one last option. You can call your dog what I call every dog whose name I don't know.


Everyting is Better in the Windy City

Quick trip to the Chicago area to visit D-bro this weekend. We saw the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in concert at the Rialto Theater in Joliet. I was impressed as hell at our seats (we were in about the 10th row) until I noticed that most of the theater was empty. I couldn't believe it. They were fantastic.

It was weird. The guys were old. The audience was old. No one had a bic lighter to hold up. In fact, no one stood up. No one danced. No one smoked doobage, although they made several pot-related jokes. Mostly at Willy Nelson's expense.

The music kicked ass. Hanna and Fadden were dressed EXACTLY as they did in the 70s, which I found kinda scary and Hanna and Carpenter dyed their hair and looked incredibly young. They could have stepped right off of one of their album covers. That description does not apply to John McEuen. I have no idea where he got that shirt. It was strangely hip, yet disturbingly strange.

But first, we listened to a guy playing a pipe organ. Possibly he was the warm-up band. But the music had the effect of reminding me of childhood trips to the roller rink.

I'm pretty sure he played Rocky Top. You ain't lived til you've heard Rocky Top on a pipe organ.

The Rialto is one of the most remarkable spaces you can imagine. These photos don't begin to do it justice.

I was reminded of the lyric opera in Chicago.

Saturday, we went to Ikea and the Bass Pro Shop. We were tired from all that fun, so Sunday we decided to watch with incredulous wonder at the rain rushing sideways into the house, putting on boots and emptying the clogged rain gutters, mopping the floors in the bathroom on the lower level, which flooded, setting up dualing sump pumps in the backyard to pump out the swimming pool that formed. Oh, and in between all this, I caught up on my reading materials. Yes, I read no less than six hunting and fishing magazines in the bathroom after an accidental ingestion of raw Feta cheese (whew! was THAT a long morning).

There was also Greek food, Breaking Bad, and Vienna sausages involved. You never know what is going to happen on one of my adventures. Unless, of course, I forget the Lactaid, in which case my adventures are pretty much predictable.

And I am ashamed to say that I forgot to pick up El Milagro Corn Tortilla shells today. I still can't believe it. I have shamed my ancestors.

09 March 2009

More Filibuster Threats from Rethugs

Interesting editorial this morning in the NY Times on the abuse of the filibuster (or threat thereof) in Congress. This one over the appointment of federal judges. After forcing the rest of us to live with a remarkably corrupt Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales and his boss W, the Republican leadership (or lack thereof) is posturing with the "death penalty" for judicial nominations before names have even been floated. If this isn't partisan politics at its business-as-usual worst, what is? From my perspective, attempting to hijack the majority party's prerogatives (cause let's face it dudes, you lost) is just one more measure of the reason I think we need to jack-slap the esteemed congressman from my home state of Kentucky and his Rehooligans colleagues in the House and Senate.

I for one am tired of this shit. To summarize from the editorial:

The same folks (can you say Orrin Hatch?) who thought that filibustering GWB's judical picks was a gross abuse of power and made a big public stink about it, have publicly threatened to filibuster ANY nominee that meets with their disapproval. In an apparent tit-for-tat, Republicans are preemptively playing the filibuster card regarding any and all judicial nominations. Apparently Dems were expected to roll over and accept every nominee, regardless of ability. Indeed the vast majority of GWB picks were accepted, but the Rethugs made a serious public spectacle out of the Democratic threat of filibuster. Result? We have a lot of un- and under-qualified, mediocre judicial minds with lifetime tenure on the bench.

In a letter to the President, Senate Republicans demanded that Obama seat holdover nominees from GWB's tenure. Ha! That the administration abandon all nominations that don't have the support of the "home state" senator. Double ha! And if he doesn't, they'll filibuster. You'll what, you Republican hypocrits?

That the Rethugs howled to the four winds about the threat of filibuster when GWB's nominees were being considered to an about-face when Obama's nominees are being considered is one of the reasons that I have no respect for the Republican "leadership" in particular. It isn't a party of ideas, it's a party of obstructionism and hate. They have no ethics. They have no spine. Ok, my party doesn't have a spine either. Got me there. But Republican leaders seem to think America doesn't see what a total bunch of windbags they are. They don't engage in meaningful dialogue even when our new President is bending over backwards to reach out to them. They appeal to the lowest and uncommon denominator. A party that his given its social dialogue over to Rush Limbaugh has lost all credibility with the American public. Even D-bro, the economically conservative, gun-toting Republican says, Rush Limbaugh is a moron and "even I don't listen to that idiot". The leadership gap in the Republican Party is no reason to bring government to a skidding halt while they get their shit together.

We elected a progressive. Accept that the GOP party of "ideas" lost and let's move on.

A filibuster can be an appropriate response when it is clear that a particular nominee would be a dangerous addition to the bench. The Republicans’ rush to threaten filibusters in the absence of actual nominees is not only at odds with their previous views on the subject, but shows a lack of respect for the confirmation process.

The Republicans are trying to use intimidation to hold onto the one branch of government where they still hold sway. Mr. Obama may be tempted to give in to win Republican cooperation for other parts of his legislative agenda. He should resist that temptation, and get to work right away appointing the kind of highly qualified, progressive-minded judges the nation needs.

The filibuster is a necessary tool. It is not a universal tool. Congress needs to get a whiff of the American sentiment and get busy with the business of governing.

03 March 2009

Diane Sawyer's Portrayal of Appalachia

A few Friday's ago, 20/20 aired Diane Sawyer's A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains. I missed the original airing, but my sister mentioned it during her visit so I went and had a look. I had to watch it in a series of 8 or 10 video's. I encourage you, if you have 50 minutes or so to spare, to give it a go. It's an illuminating portrait of a different America and it's something that fills my heart with an unusual mix of hometown pride and a unique pain.

The documenary presents vignettes of three or four families, all living in extreme poverty in the hills of eastern Kentucky. I find it amusing the way Sawyer insists on calling them "mountains". I have always said that I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians. Sawyer explores their lives and challenges, but mostly she is trying to make portray these families as the "forgotten people of Appalachia". It's all rather melodramataic. She has selected to follow families involved in the OxyContin epidemic (although they could have as easily discussed the meth problem there, too). And acknowledging the stereotype, she examines the toothless epidemic (blamed on a region-wide addiction to Mountain Dew). Personally, I've never liked the stuff. But the people they follow are true hillbillies. They are uneducated. They are coal miners. They are dirt poor. I grew up in eastern Kentucky. I have seen these images before. The places that Diane Sawyer visits--Inez, Paintsville, Columbia--all within a 30-40 minute drive from my home. I have driven down the country roads in Inez and marveled at the Joe Pye weed growing in ditches along the side of the road, and goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace and wicked twists of Kentucky bluegrass rising up from steep, rocky roadside hills. I ran in the Paintsville 10K race and enjoyed sorghum and wandered the trinket booths at the Paintsville Apple Festival. I have wondered at the disorganization of houses and trailers dotted on "family farms" in Columbia in a maze that obeys no road or discernible plan. I did not grow up dirt poor. I was lucky, but no one who grows up in that region is blinded to the poverty surrounding them.

I remember riding the school bus home in junior high school through some of the poorer sections of my town and seeing kids get off and go into houses with no windows or doors. Tar paper shacks with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. I'm sure they washed in tubs in the back and slept God knows where. We used to laugh about cars on blocks and toilets in the front yard with grass growing up around them. I'm sure these people had the best of intentions, but time or circumstances or lack of knowledge (or maybe the lack of pipes to the house) prevented them from making good on them. The relics on the front lawn were a testament to failure. I hated that part of the bus ride home. I wondered if the kids who lived there were embarassed to get off the bus.

I recall driving through the reservations of Arizona and coming upon poverty like I remember back home. I saw it on the outskirts of Belize City. I saw it in the faces of children picking pockets in Florence, Italy. I want to be clear with you all up front. I did not grow up like that. I grew up in an "urban" area of 27,000 people. We had municipal services, decent schools, relatively stable employment, and opportunities for people of all educational levels. Much like the town I live in now. You know, not doing great but living better than just scratching by. In fact, I think the town where I grew up may be doing a little better than the town I live in now. When kids dropped out of school in my town, it was a big deal and a private shame. It was not the status quo.

When I was in the tenth grade, my father told me to "go to college, get my education, and don't come back." I always found this interesting because my father had moved us to Pittsburgh when I was very little and moved us back because he had found a good job back in Kentucky. My father was the most stable man you ever wanted to meet. He wasn't swayed by popular opinion. I asked him how much of his money would he bet on a wager giving him a 90% chance of winning. He said, "nothing". My father had worked his way through college, while married, working full time, and raising four kids. I was about a year and a half old when my father graduated from college. Sure, it took him ten years, but he made it. That college education put his family in a whole different set of living conditions from some of the kids at my school. To say the least, I did not grow up like those people in Diane Sawyer's documentary. But I believe my father did. His father was an alcoholic. A house painter when he was sober. My mother told a story of how my father had to hunt down his father in some strange man's house and carry him home. She told of how he found my grandfather on the street, passed out and having pissed himself. Oh, he had sobered up by the time I was born. But my father didn't have some idyllic upbringing. And certainly had to grow up a lot faster than any of his children did. Both of my grandfathers wore full dentures for as long as I can remember. How they lost their teeth is a mystery to me. Both of them had that look of the women in the documentary who had lost their teeth. There is something about the chins of people with no teeth. It still makes me shudder.

My Dad's mother, my Gram, was a pinnacle of faith. Despite what anyone thought of her, she is a remarkably strong woman. I think, in many ways, that had she not had the determination she had to be there for her son, that I would not have enjoyed the opportunities that I have had in my life. She told me recently that if she were a young woman today, she probably would have gotten a divorce. But, as she says, things were different back then and you just put up with them--meaning the men who did you wrong. My grandfather drank away the paycheck many a week, I'm sure of it. She told me stories of having to put my father in a seat at the movie house and telling him to stay put, and then running to the grocery store. She recalled all these years later of coming back and finding him crying on the street in front of the cinema. He was about 3 years old. I'm sure the guilt nearly killed her. But her son graduated from college. I hope she doesn't lose any sleep over that even though it breaks my heart.

My parents were from Huntington, West Virginia. My grandmother was from West Virginia, and her husband from southern Ohio. When Appalachia gets in your blood, it's there for good. Most people never leave. You will find "hollers" with five or six houses in a row--all with the same surname on the mailboxes. You don't move away, you just move down the road. Maybe it was my Dad's insistence. I prefer to think that I always had wanderlust, but maybe he just planted a seed and I let it grow. All of us left, just like Dad had wanted. That place I knew so well growing up seems foreign and unnatural to me now. The people seem more backward and frustratingly uneducated. I get so angry. I want them to want more for themselves. I want them to do what I did. They either can't or won't. And so it remains the same.

No matter how long or how removed I am from "home", no one from eastern Kentucky escapes the stereotype. My sister told me the story of going to the doctor in Pennsylvania and having a nurse ask about her home. When told it was Kentucky, the woman shook her head and asked if she had shoes and things like that growing up. She was dead serious. I have had similar comments made to me by people who should know better. I've been asked if my parents are cousins. I've been asked if we burned coal for heat. I've been asked if my family tree forks. There seems to be a preoccupation with incest and people from eastern Kentucky. And Diane Sawyer does not disappoint. She highlights an allegation of incest in her documentary.

But Diane Sawyer did capture the people. I used to be embarrassed of them. Sometimes, I still am. I loved Kentucky, but I hate the way it is. Here I am, a child of Appalachia, pursuing a doctorate in botany. If I make it or I don't make it to graduation, I made it out of that place. I don't know if Appalachia made me stronger, or prouder, or more hard headed, but watching that documentary simply made me sad. Sad for all those who couldn't or wouldn't get out.

02 March 2009

It's Filibuster Time! Can't Touch That Legislation

With all due respect to Hammer, great article by Jean Edward Smith (go Marshall!) in this morning's NY Times. I'm not a fan of the way Congress operates, and from the look of the opinion polls and general grumblings from the American public over partisan politics, it seems that it would behoove Congress to be a little less catholic and a little more puritanical in their employment of the filibuster. I think that would be a win-win idea on which we could all get aboard.

Interestingly enough, the idea that the Senate composition (2 senators from every state regardless of size) over represents most of the smaller, less populous states is an idea on which D-bro D, the gun-totting, Democrat-hating side of the family tree, and I can agree. As Smith opines,
The routine use of the filibuster as a matter of everyday politics has transformed the Senate’s legislative process from majority rule into minority tyranny. Leaving party affiliation aside, it is now possible for the senators representing the 34 million people who live in the 21 least populous states — a little more than 11 percent of the nation’s population — to nullify the wishes of the representatives of the remaining 88 percent of Americans.

The Senate adopted Rule 22 to permit cloture to be imposed (limiting debate) if two-thirds of the Senate agreed. ...But invoking cloture proved difficult....In 1975, Rule 22 was amended to allow 60 senators, three-fifths of the Senate, to close off debate. The results have been better, but not markedly so. In the 108th Congress (2003-2004), cloture was attempted 49 times and was successful only12. What is more disheartening is the growing frequency with which the filibuster has been resorted to.

Nevertheless, the use of the filibuster as an everyday tool of legislation stands the idea of democratic government on its head. Instead of majority rule in the Senate, the tyranny of the minority prevails.

In the great legislative reapportionment cases of the 1960s, the Supreme Court defined democratic government as majority rule based on the principle of one person, one vote. It is time to apply that standard to the Senate.
I couldn't have said it better myself, but let's do look at those numbers a little closer. We are talking about the representatives of 34 million people subverting the will of the remaining 270 million Americans. Hardly fair. Hardly prudent. Shouldn't be legal. The most amazing thing to me is that they are able to do it through the manipulation of 41 men.

It is a sad day when a simple majority isn't required to forward the will of the people, but when the minority group must be silenced for the real work of America to move forward. What the Senate has created are conditions in which no dissenting opinion can be tolerated lest nothing get done. D-fav J is a fan of greater representation for minority opinions, and on this issue I think I can see his point. If minority opinion were diluted, we could count on less of a unified minority voting block to undermine important, well-supported legislation. At least on a day-to-day basis. I could envision times (stimulus, budget, etc.) when it might serve the interests of the minority leaders to vote as a block so that their interests were taken into consideration, but the vast majority of legislation wouldn't be at a standstill by a minority voting in lockstep with one another.

It is time our elected officials actually represented the people who elected them. And while the people who elected them DO want their individual interests represented in government, they do not want it (I tend to think) to stop government from functioning. It seems to me Congress hasn't gotten the message. They are in "my way or the highway" mode and can't get out. Any thoughts?

01 March 2009

Sisters, Friends, Flowers, and Fun

Friday night, D-sis E came to visit. Now one must remember, that the last time D-sis E came to visit (also the FIRST time D-sis E came to visit), D-doggie Nevada bit the dust. So we were being especially careful that D-fav Jake didn't wander in the street, that we didn't overfeed the fish, and that everyone survived the weekend unscathed. D-sis E has a serious phobia about my house at the moment. But with the best of intentions, we woke up Saturday morning--well, she and her brainless cocker spaniel woke me up AT 6:00 IN THE FREAKIN' MORNING (AND ON A WEEKEND NO LESS)--and after breakfast, showers, and a leisurely 2 pots of coffee, we headed over to D-friend Bek's and on to our annual pilgrimage to MOBOT for the Orchid Show.

Oh, they gots some orchids over there in St Louis. So many, that's it's going to take me days and days to torture you with them all. So I'll just start out with an overview.

A very nice Oncidium. Nice, light, airy orchid. Me likey.

Cattleya. Traditional Easter/Mother's Day corsage orchid. Grotesque, vulvular orchids designed, I believe, to make teenage boys laugh nervously. How anyone dares to wear these to church is beyond me. In any event, they are the cause célèbre of the orchid world. The people who breed these have, I think, just bred them to death. Blech.

Ahh. Phalaenopsis. It's the Chicago of the orchid set. These little lovlies are the ones you take home when someone convinces you to begin an innocent "little collection". You know, just to see if you can. And the moth orchids are like mutts from the pound. They take a licking and keep on kicking. They're just glad to have a place to slap down roots. They don't care what color pot they're in. You can fubar the whole fertilizing/water/light regimen and be completely forgiven. Occasionally delicate. More often blaringly bold. This specimen is a medium-sized variation of the traditional moth orchid. Love the yellow color, the lip is phenomenal. The spotting on this one is classssssssssssssseeeeeey.

Some orchids try hard not to look like orchids. I'm actually rather fond of this green Cymbidium. Cymbidiums are my favorites. For absolute variation, total floral display, and gut reaction, these are the ones that do it for me. They are the perfect blend of lucious overkill that orchids really want to be, and yet have a striking symmetry. Breeders haven't overdone this group. They have respected the clean lines (for the most part) and seem to play more with color. A totally satisfying orchid experience. Unfortunately, every time I bring one home, it fails to rebloom for me. I've given up until I have the time to devote to them. They are finicky little buggers.
Popeye. Not an orchid, but an interesting little side trip on the way to St. Louis. And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Cypripidium. I've had some luck getting these to rebloom. Unfortunately, they are prone to fungus and not very forgiving of Jake's freak-outs wherein he overturns everything near a windowsill. Sigh. I'm sure gonna miss that dog when he's gone.

And how about this little lovely? A pink lady-slipper orchid. How's that for wow factor?

Of course, this is another cymbidium. Today we will end on a arachnifloral note as I think this one looks like a spider is hiding inside ready to pounce out onto unsuspecting passersby.

D-sis E seemed to enjoy the orchid show. Of course, I warned her ahead of time that D-friend Bek and I were serious plant nerds and she wasn't allowed to bitch at us for meandering, talking shop, using a lot of Latin names, and taking pictures of everything. Did I mention we take pictures of EVERYTHING? After the show, we had a very nice meal at Zia's on The Hill, and I'd show you pictures of that, but both of our camera batteries had died by the time we got to the restaurant. Probably better that you don't see pictures of that as we polished off a carafe of vino and D-sis E ate at least two loaves of french bread smothered in zesty Zia's olive oil. She tried to get me to swipe the bottle of olive oil off the table for her to take home. I notice how cavalier she is with shoplifting when it's me she's trying to convince to behave badly.

Sisters. They never freakin' change. So just to pay her back, I convinced her to buy an orchid in the gift shop. I told her how easy it was to care for. I didn't mention anything about the fertilizing until after we were half way home. She got that wonderful deer-in-the-headlights look. Ahh, the sweet satisfaction of besting your sis. Yessssssssss.