Archive for December, 2011

Crappy New Year

No, I’m not in a funk.  The title of this post is meant literally.

The well that serves my house and three others ceased to pump water last night.  Ordinarily this happens because one of my three fellow well-users forgot to turn off the hose while watering something or other.  Why anyone would move to the desert and plant stuff that needs watering in December is beyond me.  When I moved in here, I planted just enough stuff to keep the neighbors from complaining, and it is all native.  So I seldom water the yard.  In fact, some summers I water only every two weeks or so, and most of the stuff in my yard is still struggling along.  It ain’t big and fluffy and dramatic, like my neighbor’s trees, but it’s still alive.

The other three participants in the well have all installed 2000 gallon water storage tanks to supplement the well’s output, and all promised to use them when they water their yards.  I’ve been excepted from this requirement.  I don’t know why, exactly.  Although I suspect it happened a few years ago when I proposed that we set up a schedule for water use during summer months that would regulate when each of us did dishes and laundry and so on.  I was met with disbelieving looks when I made that radical proposal, and it was clear to me at that point that everyone silently agreed that I was a kook, possibly dangerous when aroused, who should be left alone to do whatever the hell I wanted.

Fine with me. I do laundry only when needed (every two or three weeks), and dishes by hand.  I try to do both on weekends in order to conserve our often-iffy power supply. I flush the john every two or three uses or when it gets nasty.  This requires more cleaning of that receptacle than I’d like, but so be it.

But it’s now been 24 plus hours that we’ve been without water.  Which is why I’m having a crappy New Year.

Here I could tell a long story about how I tried to get this straightened out last evening by suggesting we call the well guy, but the three men involved demurred, preferring to reset the circuit breaker and waiting to see what happened.  Sometimes it’s all I can do, when standing in a circle around the wellhead with these three guys, even to get their attention, let alone get them to listen to any advice I might have to offer.  I don’t know how their wives deal with being invisible, but it drives me nuts.  As a result I begin to make wisecracks that serve only to cement their belief that I’m bonkers.

This morning I called the well guy, who came out, flicked a few switches, and assured us we’d have water by this evening.  Hanh.  One of my neighbors just called to say that he didn’t think that plan was working.  Well duh.  We put in another call to the well guy, but he isn’t answering his phone.  It is New Year’s Eve, after all, and he is a young guy.

In the meantime my john has become so nasty that I’m considering moving its contents into a cat box and stashing the whole thing in the garage.  You know, using a cat box is not a bad idea–there’s plenty of litter.

Good thing White Guy has gone to his reward.  He’d be miffed.


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Prolegomena (or Procrastination)

Now I suppose you are wondering why Caravaggio’s lovely Luncheon at Emmaus is posted here at TrepandDoc’s (other than that it is really nice to look at).  The painting depicts an event retold in the New Testament.  Seems that soon after Jesus’ resurrection, two men were walking along the road to Emmaus.  They met a companionable traveler and stopped in town to have lunch with him.  During lunch, they suddenly realized that their companion was Jesus himself.  Caravaggio nicely captures their surprise and awe in the moment.

I’ve been doing some reading in the history of Christianity.  I don’t know why–sometimes these urges just happen.  I’ve learned that if I follow them up, sometimes good things (a book or a paper) happen.  That will probably not be the case here, in part because I no longer need to publish to survive, but mostly because I have an axe to grind with regard to Christianity that would never get past any responsible editor.  Or any irresponsible one, for that matter, because religion-bashing doesn’t sell a lot of books these days unless your name is Hitchens or Dawkins.

Anyhow, this all got started when I heard some jerk say that “Jesus would not approve” of this or that.  I thought to myself:   “As if.  As if what Jesus taught has anything to do with contemporary Christianity.”   And suddenly I had a revelation (of the “well duh” kind, not of the divine kind):  the institution of the Christian church has almost nothing to do with what Jesus taught.  Love your neighbor?   Succor unto the poor and sick?   Blessed are the meek?  What televangelist or bishop behaves as though he takes any of these teachings seriously enough to act on them?   I know that a few churches and congregations do aid the poor and shelter the sick and needy.  But I suspect the numbers of such groups are far outweighed by pastors and congregants who would rather worship Mammon than carry out Jesus’ wishes.

So a sort of question formed:   when did the church stop caring about Jesus and his teachings, and when did it become all about its own preservation?   Or, to put it another way, when did the Christian church become incorporated?  Has it always been corrupt, or is that a modern phenomenon?

So I started reading.  As a sort of side note, that reading rekindled my simmering anger about Christian misognyny.  Which brings me back to that lunch at Emmaus.   Think about it:  two people are walking down the road to Emmaus.  Why two men rather than a man and a woman?  Doesn’t it make sense that a couple might be undertaking that longish journey to town, perhaps in order to sell produce or buy something for their farm?  Why, then, does the NT story erase a woman and instead depict two men?   Jesus never erased women.  (Caravaggio gets a pass on this point because he painted this scene some 1500 years after it had become famous.  And because he was gay or bi, also, too).

I’ll postpone my rant about Mary-worship in the Catholic church because that’s enough bile for one day.

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Happy Holiday!

I got a present yesterday when the Detroit Lions won handily, thus assuring themselves a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 1999.  That’s a long wait, especially for players like Nebraska’s Dominic Raiola, who was drafted by the Lions in 2000.

I saw a sign in the stands that said “Nebraska loves Detroit.”  Heh-indeedy.

Don’t worry if I’m a little late calling tonight.  Going over to Deserts’ for a 2 pm dinner.

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A Feature, Not A Bug

This morning as I prepared and ate breakfast I listened to a sportscaster yelling at his audience about whether Barkley should stay in school or go to the pros, and how the Lakers can’t play without Kobe, and why Tebow’s “religion thing” is harmless.  While I went about my business I shouted answers:  Barkley should stay in school for his last year (he’s at USC after all, not West Crap U, and I know kids who would give their left arms for a free ride to USC);   Kobe should be in jail for sexual assault rather than on a basketball court;  and while religion is many things, the one true thing you can say about it is that religion is never harmless.

I don’t know why I watch this guy, or why I watch ESPN in general, especially after the very public ritual mourning they performed for the enabler Joe Paterno.  I guess I watch it because I like sports, and because it’s less depressing than watching the news these days, or heaven forfend, The View and other morning shows of its ilk that are directed  at women.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  The other day the blowhard sportscaster was going after his wife for saying something about football that he characterized as completely uninformed.  It’s bad enough that he criticizes his wife on teevee (although he thought it was all in fun).  But I knew instantly what his next move would be, before he made it, just as surely as I knew that Suh would block Janikowsi’s punt last Sunday:  the blowhard generalized his wife’s level of interest in sports to all women.  All of us.  Didn’t even blink an eye.

I’ve been pondering this incident for several days.  Not the least of my wonderment is why any woman, wife or not, would put up with this crap.  Criticizing your wife on national teevee is right up there with hitting her, in my book.  One time and we’re done, buster.

But most women, it appears, don’t think that way.  Some–maybe most–buy into the program that men have written for women since the first day that some male somewhere raped a woman and used the threat of more to cow her into submission.

Women respond to this circumstance in a variety of ways.   Let’s allow that most adult women see right through male bullshit.  A few very brave (and often privileged) women refuse the program altogether and shout this to the world when and where it is safe for them to do so.   (Women have to toe some lines, after all, because rape is always out there as a deterrent.)   Others buy in silently in order to remain sane and relatively unharmed.  Others just buy in.  These are usually girls or young women who can be seduced with all the paraphernalia associated with buying in:  pretty clothes, financial support . . . . Well I though I’d have a long list here, but I can’t think of anything else–shows you how long ago I abandoned the program.

Clearly the sportscaster’s wife has either bought in (which I doubt, given that she is old enough to have a couple of kids) or she silently endures.  I bet my hat it’s the second option.  And I’d also bet that she plays the game very well–I imagine she is good-looking, and she works  hard at keeping herself in shape.  She also works hard at keeping the kids clean and out of dad’s way when he’s at home and at preparing nice dinners and keeping the house clean and making sure blowhard has clean socks to wear when he drives off to the studio.

And he repays her for all of this by criticizing her on national teevee.

I have news for you, buster:  failure to like sports is not a genetic defect;  liking sports is a preference, just like your preference for clean socks that you don’t have to wash yourself.

I know I sound bitter.  Women always sound bitter when we complain about patriarchy because–unlike a taste for sports–bitterness about patriarchy is a feature, not a bug.

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Falling Over They Own Feet

It seems that Americans may waking up at last.   Even the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has noticed that the Republicans are losing the political wars.  Perhaps the latest Republican foolishness–stalling and then screwing up the payroll tax cut–has done it.  Or perhaps the Republican presidential clown show gave a clue to low-information voters.  In any case, polls are starting to show Obama with a 49% approval rating.  Even more interesting, polls are popping up showing that O can beat any of the Rethug candidates, including Romney.  And his margin of victory over Newt is in landslide territory.

Reasonable people, who inhabit the real world, might very well say “Well duh!” at this point. Obama’s superiority to all Republicans, whether they be candidates or congresspersons, should go without saying.  Here, for example, is Booman (of the Booman Tribune) meditating on Obama’s recent overture to the Taliban:  “If Obama can end another of these stupid wars, in addition to passing the most sweeping health care reform in history and the strongest Wall Street reforms and consumer protections in over half a century, all in one term in office, then we won’t even have to mention the elimination of bin-Laden and Gaddafi or the stabilization of the financial system or the saving of the auto industry or the end of DADT or the non-enforcement of DOMA or the hate crimes bill or the many other worthy achievements he’s already notched on his belt. If he can end both wars without further humiliation, and without endangering our national security, then he deserves a special place in the pantheon of American presidents.”

On the other hand, the 112th Congress has done what, exactly?

Booman is correct:  Obama has accomplished a very great deal given the American and world economies and the trainwreck that Republicans have made of American government.  I’m not an O-bot;  he vexes me on occasion.  But I’ve learned not to jump  right to vexation because I’ve also learned not to accept anything the media say without doing some research of my own.  This pertains even to supposedly friendly media.  For example, the media made a huge kerfluffle when Republicans rolled the Keystone pipeline into the payroll tax discussion in order to embarass Obama.  But the kerflufffle made no sense to anyone who knows how environmental impact statements work;  there is no way that anyone, even or especially a president, can rush or slow down the production of such a statement.  And Obama was not compelled to make any promises of any kind regarding the pipeline in order to get the tax cut deal;  he could still just say no.

But then as we have often opined, Trep, America does not seem to enjoy an informed or skeptical electorate.  After I read the WSJ editorial, I scanned  a few of the comments.  For the readers of that newspaper, Obama is the worst president we’ve ever had–a loser who  doesn’t know how to govern, how to make decisions, yadda yadda.  Several commenters opined that the “liberal media” would turn this latest debacle against Republicans, unfairly of course.  And on and on.  I felt like Alice through the rabbit hole.  They’ve been listening to themselves for so long they can’t hear the world when it knocks on their doors.

And oh yeah:  it bugs me too that the cartoon uses a female elephant to depict the Rethugs’ silly response to Obama’s most recent proposal.  I hunted for others, but this made the point most clearly.  I hope my noticing its sexism allows me to get a pass on using it at all?

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Queen Mum

I sadly report that Lady Sara has departed.  Her kidneys were on their last gasp, and she’d had a lingering eye/nose infection for some time.  You can see evidence of it in this picture from a few weeks ago.   She came down with a full-on cold last week which seems to have been the final drain on her resources that brought her to the end.

She was the smallest cat I’ve known, but perhaps the sturdiest.  She was Aspen’s grandmother, and clearly the source of some of his cools.  She’d only been here since April but I’ve become quite attached to her and I’ll miss her.

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Suh Redeems Himself

The Detroit Lions narrowly beat the Oakland Raiders this afternoon in a real thriller.  With only two minutes to go, Detroit was down by six points and were  starting near their own end zone.  Matt Stafford, the Detroit QB, and receiver Calvin Johnson (known as Megatron) worked miracles and scored a TD in that brief time, thus going ahead 28-27.   There were still forty seconds or so left, though, and the Raiders worked some miracles of their own, taking the ball back to about the 50-yard line.  They were out of time outs, and had time for just one play. Obviously, it would be a field goal attempt.

For most teams, a field goal attempt of some 65 yards would be out of the question.  But not for the Raiders, whose kicker, Janakowski, owns the NFL record for the longest field goal ever made.  But even Janakowski had never made one this long.  So there was great tension in the stands (not to mention in your humble reporter’s innards) as he lined up behind the Raiders’ line.

But when Detroit’s defense lined up, I realized they had put Suh in, right in front of the kicker.  I saw him deflect kicks numbrous times when he played for Nebraska, and I  suddenly just knew that he would get a paw on this one.  And he did.  The photo shows his reaction.

PS:  I hope Sarah gets through the night okay.

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