Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Never Though I'd Need to

The other day some friends and I, mostly kids, attended a "monkey show".  It stared a monkey, and a very different kind of animal I had never seen before.  I really was surprised.

I've talked about this before, but gender equality is important to me.  Some of the women I know don't believe that.  The fact is, I have seen more sexism directed against men than I have women, and I'll speak up for anyone being judged based on how they were born.

The show we saw was billed as "Monkey Business with Frankie the Monkey".  It was mostly a man doing some comedy, some magic, and a monkey doing a few tricks.  The jokes and magic were lame, and the trained monkey would have been more impressive if he didn't require a treat every few seconds to keep his attention.  But these things did entertain the kids, so I'd have to say that was successful enough.  What I do fault him for was his attitude towards gender.

He began by asking for volunteers.  A lot of hands went up; little hands.  Kids excited to see a monkey close up.  Then he clarified, "real tough guys".  Half the hands went down.  He made a big show of how he needed "boys" who were "manly", and "real tough guys"  He picked three, and then spent some time getting them to attest that they were in fact, "tough guys."  He had them take there seats again to recall during the volunteer portion of the show.

He eventually did recall them, and proceeded to scare them.  Now I'm not sure how I feel about that.  It didn't seem kind, but it can be fun to be scared, and I don't think he traumatized them or anything.  What appalled me is that, when the boys acted scared, he then told them they weren't very manly, and were, "acting like little girls."  At one point he even produced a pink ball cap to taunt the boys with very notion that one of them might be the owner of a *gasp* pink cap.

I had never seen such blatant negative sexism, and it was against women.  Suddenly all of the self proclaimed feminists would have a shining example to point to.  But no one was pointing.  I looked over at a friend who calls herself a feminist.  She was holding one of her little girls, and smiling.  What was happening?

When the show ended, I went off to her about it.  She didn't like it either, but didn't want to ruin the fun.  I got the impression she wasn't shocked because this sort of thing wasn't all that uncommon for her.  Is it that they see sexism everywhere, even where it isn't, and become desensitized?

I wrote an email, and got an immediate response.  A women in charge of customer service for the theme park they were performing at promised to print my email, and see what the handler had to say about it.  She promised me that is not the message they are trying to send to the children.  I was glad to finally find a voice of sanity.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Go Lions

A lion kills a village, and no one cares.  A dentist kills a lion, and..  boy howdy.  The other day the subject came up, and a friend suggested that hunting the dentist would be only fare.  Someone has to say something.

I don't think it's wrong to kill an animal.  I wouldn't eat them if I did.  I personally wouldn't kill a lion, because I think they are too intelligent.  Clearly the dentist didn't agree.  Instead of blaming a man for doing something perfectly legal, maybe they should just make hunting lions illegal.  But there's only one problem.  You could save a loin, but put an end to lions.

Am I crazy?  If a human kills a lion, there'd be less lions.  How can lion hunters be good for lions?  A better question would be, 'What good are loins to people?'

Sure we like to look at them - behind glass.  We love the idea of them frolicking in their native habitat - somewhere far from here.  And from across the world, us Americans can pat ourselves on the back saying we speak up for the lions.  But what about the people who live next door to the lions?  How would you feel as a poor man in a poor country trying to raise a family next door to a loin?

For the people of Africa, lions are a liability.  Or at least they would be, if people like that american dentist weren't ready to pour thousands of dollars into their economy to hunt one.  A poor nation can afford to pay for parks, game wardens, and anti-poaching patrols with that money.

Mistakes were made in this case; apparently by hiring an unethical guide.  But let's not make a mistake of our own.  Most of the people talking about hunting the dentist are doing nothing for loins as a species.  The ones doing the vast majority of the work preserving large game for future generations are ones who hunt legally.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Still Batching It

"I blame the cats."

Loretta's death was over a month ago, and we buried her more than 3 weeks ago. Ellie is still staying at Loretta's, and I am still batching it. "How can this be?" you might ask. ( Perhaps not, but let's assume you do. )

A specific promise Ellie made to Loretta was to care for her cats ( whom Loretta dearly loved ... "love Loretta love her cats" was a saying that her friends understood to be more than just a cutsie saying ) and her thought was she would bring them home.

The cats had been with Loretta since they were kittens, virtually since birth. They are both elderly ( mid-teens ) and missing Loretta had caused them considerable stress. At the time of Loretta's death, they were already missing her for two plus weeks and neither Ellie nor I wanted to further stress them by so soon moving them to their new home. They were, after all, elderly, set in their ways, and spoiled practically rotten. That meant somebody ( Ellie ) had to stay with them, as they needed feeding much more frequently than anyone could manage who was not  living there.
( Ellie is the executor of Loretta's will, and staying there puts her much closer to the amazing amount of work that needs to be, also a positive. But that is another story. )

It did not take very long for Ellie to realize taking the cats home was not a good idea. There were good reasons, beyond my not particularly wanting them to move in with us, but those need not concern us here. This meant, however, that if we were serious about minimizing stress, which we were, we wanted to find a permanent home and then move them directly there.  A temporary move to our house presented them with too much stress in too short a time.

To make matters worse, we quickly discovered that none of our friends had an opening for two cats; we'd have to find temporary shelter for them, from which they would move to a full-time home. Even without taking them home first, we saw two moves in the immediate future for these two elderly, loveable, spoiled feline friends. We could not possibly take them home, introducing yet another move into their near future(s). This cemented Ellie's continuing to stay at Loretta's and my batching it for a while yet. We have since discovered that cat rescue places are also full, not currently taking cats. We're pondering our options while Ellie continues to live with the cats.

"You're still batching it?"

"Yup. I blame the cats."
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The MN State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair has ended, but that's okay.  I've had my fill.  I was able to attend twice this year.  Most people will tell you that there's a lot to see and do at the fair, but don't listen to them.  The state fair is all about the food.  He are my high points.

1919 root beer
It's actually about the same price as you'd get in a restaurant.

Foot Long Hotdog
No, you can't get these just anywhere.  The fair has a few stands that are some kind of chain.  They just say, "Foot Long Hotdog" on the side.  They're the all beef ones with grilled onions.

Cheese Curds
The best can be found near the campers on Machinery Hill.  They have the crispiest shells, and they serve them with marinara.  You get a lot.

Fresh Lemonade
This can be found throughout the fair.  Or you could make it very easily at home, but you don't.

Deep Fried Candy Bar
It's at a booth that just says "Deep Fried Candy Bar" on it.  This is a name brand candy bar, there are a few to choose from, dipped in mini donut batter, deep fried, and rolled in powered sugar.

These are just a few of my favorites, and the list does go on.  The most amazing thing is, every one of them has zero calories...  Okay, I probably gained a pound in the last couple of weeks, but I'll do it again next year.  No regrets.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Odes to Loretta

I wrote several poems celebrating Loretta after her cancer diagnosis four years ago. I share two of them here.

A Life on the Brink

Senior citizen
Now retired
But always and ‘er
The teacher.

Any topic
Church, world, metaphysics
Any place
Hers, mine, a coffee shop.

Never preaching
Only talking.
Her very being
Enriches me.

Disease’s stricken her
Slowly taking energy
And vibrancy
Threatening life.

Days are fuller now
But shorter
Filled with hope about treatment
With prayer … brief activities … love.

Barbs as Good News

My friend had stabbing, debilitating back pain. Tough though she is, all she could do was hide from it by slumping in sleep in her living room chair. Movement from the kitchen table to that chair was slow, deliberate, and reminded me of the walking dead from the movie of years gone by. A visit to the Emergency Room surrounded by two nights resulted in a transformation that is hard to imagine and even harder to describe.

Sharp stabs of back pain,
She retreats to sleep to cope.
Her new barbs cheer me.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Diet vs Budget

I continue my journey to reduce the amount of food I get from restaurants.  I've easily cut it in half.  You could call that a success, although I imagine that most adults would have been able to get down to zero by now.  I continue to experiment in cooking.  As expected, all this "success" has lead to is an obvious change in my diet.  You might be thinking that less fast food is a great idea to lower my calorie intake, and increase my nutrition.  That's debatable.

I had found places like Chipotle and Subway to be great sources of fresh veggies on the go.  Now any vegetables need to be planned around.  They need to be eaten in a few days, or thrown away, which would completely defeat the point.

I think I'm active enough, and sweat enough, to not worry too much about salt.  When I cook I do consume less, and fast food is of course loaded with it.  Although I am getting most of my food from the grocery store now, it is mostly boxed dinner type stuff, and that's just as high.

As for calorie count, I can't say for certain, and that's part of the problem.  When I was eating from restaurants, I ordered from the menu, and ate it all on the spot.  There was little question to the amount of calories I ate.  Now I'd need to measure and weigh, and I'm just not.  It's not to say I can't, but it's a habit I have not yet formed.  I did just put a new battery in my food scale, and do want to find the motivation to start.

I will say my sugar intake seems to be down.  I had been eating dessert every day, and now it's about every other.  Mostly because the desert I find in grocery stores are not quite as tempting.  The amount of dessert I buy out is probably my biggest failure in my plan to eat out less though.

Then there's the biggest problem with this plan.  I have to choose when to stop.  Cereal is cheap, and relatively healthy, but there's nothing stopping me from eating four bowls at a time.  When eating out I bought one meal, and ate it.  Now I have to tell myself when the meal needs to end.  Even when cooking, it's just inefficient to make one serving at a time.

Dieting while preparing most of my own food is still pretty new to me, and I think I am making progress.  I'll keep you all informed of what I find.