Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Surreal but so real

I was helping Sweetie out of the car last night to take Her to Her hair salon appointment. A car passed behind us in the parking lot. Then, seconds later, we heard the awful sound of metal crushing into metal.

The car that had been behind us, as it turned right out of the parking lot, had collided with another car that was proceeding north. The second car was hit so hard that it was knocked out of its lane.

A crowd of people began to emerge from the surrounding stores and flow towards the area -- driven, I would hope, by the desire to help, not to gawk. Somewhere at the scene, a Woman began to wail.

I began to walk towards the scene, too, my heart heavy with dread but knowing that if I could help in some way, it was my duty to do so.

Some man shooed us all away; we weren't needed. Someone was giving CPR to a victim lying on the ground. Someone else was tending to a baby still in its car seat that had apparently been flung from the vehicle.

Quite rapidly, the police and ambulances arrived and began to work. Quick to arrive, too, were the reporters from Ch. 8, whose news office is a block or two away.

I helped Sweetie into the hair salon and sat down and tried to concentrate on reading -- Plutarch's account of the life of Crassus. It was hard to do. The wailing of that Woman was still on my mind. The horror of such an accident, so sudden, in such a banal, suburban place, was harsh in my mind.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Art Garfunkeled on my lunchbreak

"...I been Mick Jaggered, been silver daggered.
Andy Warhol, won't you please come home?
I been mothered, fathered, aunt and uncled,
Been Roy Halee'd and Art Garfunkeled
I just discovered somebody tapped my phone...”

-- A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission, written by Paul Simon.

I think it was Mae West who said, famously, “Men and women should not live together. They should be neighbors and visit once in a while.”

Perhaps this applies to other relationships as well.

Anyone alive in the 1960s or soon thereafter (my decade!) knows the duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Sounds of Silence" and "Cecilia" are all that you will hear of them today, played on the grocery store PA system. But their body of work was much greater than that. Poets and singers both, they wrote some beautiful, incredibly evocative music ("Old Friends," "America, To Emily, Wherever I May Find Her") as well as some weirdness that could only find a home in the 1960s, such as the song referenced above.

I have been a fan since I was a teenager.

But Simon and Garfunkel just couldn’t seem to stick it out together and they have been together and broken apart a half-dozen times.

On my lunchbreak today, for no apparent reason, on Wikipedia, I checked out Art Garfunkel, the lesser reknowned half of the duo – and I was astounded.

He’s much more than an angst-y aging hippie with a lingering weakness for cannabis.
Of Romanian Jewish heritage, Garfunkel earned a Master’s degree in math but also loves reading.

“His website contains a year-by-year listing of every book he has read since 1968. Currently the list contains more than 1,000 books,” wikipedia says.

“He has also undertaken several cross-continental walks in his lifetime, writing poetry along the way. In the early 1980's, he walked across Japan in a matter of weeks. From 1983 to 1997, Garfunkel walked across America, taking 40 excursions to complete the route from New York City to the Pacific coast of Washington. In May 1998, Garfunkel began an incremented walk across Europe.”

As noted, Garfunkel has been arrested twice for the possession of cannabis: in early 2004 and again in August 2005.

We're okay

The tornado that hit Virginia yesterday touched down to the south of where I live. No one was killed, thankfully, although a lot of people were hurt and the area is a mess.

I spent the evening attempting to keep the peach tree from drowning, as the unfinished landscaping excavations I've been working on around it have made that area lower than the rest of the yard. Low elevation plus drenching rain = instant ponds.

Finally, I had to gather up all the chunks of the old lawn, the sod, that I had shoveled out last Saturday and pile them around the tree to help soak up the water. I'm trying to grow a peach tree, not rice!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Talking Turkey

According to National Geographic, Nov. 07, the people of Israel eat more turkeys per capita than any other country.

Hungary, a place and people that I cherish, comes in No. 5. Odd, because I never remember eating it over there. Pork, fish, venison and chicken a-plenty, lovingly lathered in lard, but not turkey.

In fact, I had to look up the Hungarian word for turkey, not remembering it at all.


Usually, a word borrowed from another language is somewhat recognizable in its new linguistic home. Hamburgesa, komputador, beisbol, futbol, come to mind. And people do tend to be lazy and borrow when encountering a new phenomenon. Europeans borrowed raccoon, moose, squirrel, chocolate, etc. from the natives when they encountered these things in the New World.

"Pulyka" obviously has no kinship to "turkey." It's not borrowed. That's unusual, especially since the turkey bird is another American original, not native to the Old World. In other words, it would have been a perfect candidate for word-borrowing. And such borrowing would have been recent, since Europeans have only been on this continent 500 years or so.

"Turkey" was apparently what Old Worlders sometimes called the guinea fowl, since that tasty bird was often shipped through that country on its way to the dinner plates of Europe.

So when the Europeans saw a similar creature here in America, turkey is what they called it. Later, they called a certain hairy prairie beast a buffalo, though it's actually a bison. That's the other side of linguistic borrowing. If you don't take a word from the natives, you can always put together a label for the phenomena from your own memory bank.

Thus, the Greeks called a big, grey beast of Africa a water-horse -- hippo-potamus. American Indians called alcohol fire-water. The Dutch settlers in Africa called one of their new neighbors "aardvark" -- earth pig.

That mystery is resolved. "Pulyka" remains.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I spent the morning with my Sweetie and my Niece-in-law, feeding ducks and saving tent caterpillars from the sidewalk at a leafy local university. How do you tell an earnest six year old that tent caterpillars don't grow up to be lovely butterflies -- that they are ravenous pests which can strip an entire tree bare?

Then finally, we dropped Her off at home and it was my time! Time, after a week of no time, to tackle some outdoor projects.

First order of business: attempt to tame the damnable honeysuckle that is blanketing the woods behind my back yard and extending its tendrils even into the lawn. The problem is that the honeysuckle has formed an alliance with thorny bramble vines, weedy mulberry saplings and with the rusty ruins of the fence that the hurricane destroyed a few years ago.

So it was slow going -- you couldn't yank the honeysuckle barehanded or you'd get a palmful of thorns. You couldn't yank at all where the mulberry was anchored -- that had to be dug out. And that stupid fence, over and in which the whole mess was tangled, has already slashed a gash in my jeans, not to mention my hands.

But with a saw, a pair of clippers and a shovel, I beat back the horde.

With what remained of my energy, I dug a hole near the house and finally, finally, finally planted the peach tree.

Then I sat there on the grass, covered in filth, completely, totally, blissfully exhausted.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Harry on Politics

"I think we would lose something important to our political life if the conservatives were all in one party and the liberals all in the other."

-- Former U.S. Pres. Harry Truman, "Harry Truman Speaks His Mind," p. 81.

At the halfway point in a Very Long Book

Reading Plutarch, a great Roman writer of the first century AD, for all these months, leaves me with a full storehouse of knowledge.

But just as dining only on Porterhouse steaks, as tasty as they are, would soon grow tiresome, I am tired of Plutarch. I am tired of Rome in general.

I want to explore the rise of Islam and the Middle Ages, and begin to pair my reading with the art and music of each era, immersing myself as deeply as is possible in the world of each writer. That has been rather difficult with Ancient Rome.

Last night, I reached the halfway point in Plutarch’s "Lives," page 460-something. It is not a good sign when one notices something like that, even worse when one is relieved to finally reach such a point.

Why not just do the sensible thing and stop reading the book? First of all, I never
made any claims to be a sensible person. Secondly, having taken notes on what I have read, I now have a wealth of information to which I can refer back, on what this man wrote. I can access these notes for the rest of my life. His wisdom belongs to me – I have earned it. Since I am a writer, too, that is important to me.

Thirdly, I am finally reaching a point in the book where Plutarch leaves off discussion of obscure and petty ancient dudes and starts talking about luminaries such as Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.

Not quite Paradise City

"Get off my stage!"

I went to a Guns N Roses concert last night and those were the only words I heard from Axl Rose. And no, he didn't sing them.

You know I'm speaking of dreamland, not reality. My poor brain, bored by a week of endless meetings and Sharepoint computer classes, conjured up this would-be welcome diversion for itself as I slumbered. But, being my brain, it couldn't get the details quite right. It made Axl Rose into some kind of a whiny wimp, not a rock god.

And instead of my kicking back and groovin' to November Rain or Sweet Child of Mine, I found myself being yelled at for not sitting down in my chair, queried by the Axl as to whether or not I had paid yet for entrance, and searching my wallet to see if some guy who was wandering around paying fans for having brought donations to some cause, had paid me yet.

I never got to hear ANY damn music.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can you ever have too many friends?

This week, I have been enjoying two new blog friendships: Walking Man -- certainly my alter-ego, Enkidu to my Gilgamesh; and Nicotine Queen, a witty and feisty dweller in Gotham City, aka the Big Apple, aka New York.

And tonight, I found another great blog to explore: Genevieve's A labor of love about our magnificent Eastern American trees.

Can you ever have too many friends?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Don't go away!

Several times, and now again recently, a good blog friend of mine has decided to end their blog. The reasons differ in each case but my feelings are the same: sadness.

I don't understand it. My regular blog friends are just as real as any of my non-blog friends. And the way my life is, I spend more time with blog friends than with most other people. I know most of your real names, some of your birthdays, your likes and dislikes, even the names of some of your children.

You've advised me and I have advised you.

And then, for whatever reason, some of you just disappear. It's as if a "real-world" friend decided to move away and never to write or call or visit.

Whatever the pain, whatever is going on, your sincere blog friends can talk with you about it and maybe help you feel better. Behind these computer screens, we are all real people.

Brilliant blog friends

I found a new toy on Jessica's blog. It's supposedly a way to rate the reading level required to read someone's blog.

I'm wondering if the thing operates like a fortune cookie or a savvy clairvoyant -- utterly at random or with the desire to flatter.

For Isis got a "genius rating."

Which means, if it is true and not some kind of eenie meenie miney moe thing, that not only should I feel quite smart but so should every one of you who visits and comments here.

Bizzare photo of the day

Giant jellyfish are invading Japan.

(Parents, this is what can happen if you let your children band birds. They grow up to put tags on all sorts of creatures.)

I refuse to blame the spaghetti

Sweetie warned me. She told me that I should just have a sandwich or some cereal. But I needed a real meal. It had been a long day and it was late and cereal sounded about as appealing as driveway gravel.

So I made spaghetti. With basil and chopped garlic in the sauce, and mushrooms blended into the meat.

Oh, it was good. So very good.

About 2 a.m., a lion appeared in my bedroom. Not a lion of which I should have been unreasonably frightened. Not some demonic apparition out of the pit of hell, with power not only to tear my flesh but to drag my soul to hell as well. That would have been more typical of my nightmares.

The Sandman got mixed up and sent me a child's nightmare. A lion out of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip. And I am ashamed to say, it scared me bolt awake. I really feel for whatever child got the man-sized nightmare that I was supposed to have.

Sweetie blames the spaghetti. Such is life.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New fruit and dead monsters

For just 16 dollars today, I brought home a peach tree for the backyard. So it joins the two apple trees, the pear tree, the fig tree and the grape arbor I've already put in there. Guess I have a thing for fruit. I think it comes from my childhood visits to my grandparents' home, where they had apple trees, pear trees and grapes. Alas, they had no figs. That was an acquired taste.

Imagine trying to fit a seven-foot sapling into the backseat of a Hyundai -- a Hyundai already stuffed with, well, stuff. I rolled down this window, that window, moved things around and after much exertion, succeeded in wedging the poor thing inside, partially. Then I drove home at 35 miles an hour, to keep the wind from ripping off the leaves and branches that were hanging out the window.

Driving that slow made my Sweetie happy but I about went crazy. Did I ever tell you that I don't like driving slowly? And I'm sure the people behind me felt like, well, felt like I usually do when I'm stuck behind some idiot who thinks gas pedals are only for decorative purposes.

I bought a book today from the library. I couldn't believe that they had it there. It is an evil book, or at least, it was written by a very evil man.

Mein Kampf. The ravings of a man who set in motion the murder of six million people and launched a world war.

This was an actual 1940 edition -- printed when the dictator was still alive and dictating. Before his syphilis finally drove him into helpless insanity. Thus the ominous preface by the English translators:

"Both the international situation and certain publishing exegencies have dictated the preparation of this book at a far higher speed than we would have liked."

Why should I have such a filthy book in my home? Because millions of people listened to this man and followed him. And therefore it is entirely possible that such a man could rise to power again, somewhere, anywhere, where people are intellectually lazy, careless with their freedom and seduceable by the promises of a demagogue.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My ten greatest flaws

I wonder if some of you out there in blogworld might think that I am a little pretentious, even a little bit holier than thou, because I have laid bare on this blog some of my idiosyncracies, especially most recently.

So I thought I would counter that by listing what I believe to be my ten greatest flaws. Other people might have different suggestions.

1) I tend to get obsessive about things that I really like.

2) I can be very judgmental.

3) I am often quite impatient, even with my nearly-perfect Sweetie. I have exiled myself to the couch on many nights -- She would never send me there.

4) I have a terrible phobia of needles and other sharp things.

5) I accumulate clutter.

6) I have trouble dealing with authority figures.
7) I drive too fast.

8) I have a temper. It takes a little while to stoke it but it can be intense, although I can say my fists never get involved.

9) I am not good at understanding directions (as in how to do things. Navigation I am very good at.)

10) I am a life-long, probably incurable capnolagniac and a Female litterbug-niac.

11) I'm not good at math. (See?)

Blog friends, beware

I was having so much fun this afternoon reading some of the old posts of a certain new blog friend, that I had a wild idea. I am going to pick out a few of you on my blogroll this weekend, especially some that I haven't visited in a while, and read a couple of your very old posts, but limit myself to replying to posts with zero entries.

Just a silly thing to do. Nothing is sadder than a lonely little post with no friendly comment to comfort it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Two minds

I like to think, as I browse my personal library in my leisure moments, that my fingers are touching the greatest minds in history -- both men [that's for You, Molly!] and Women.

But great minds do not live forever, do not communicate themselves, solely through the printed word. We see, we experience emotion, wisdom, genius, also through art.
So I can touch a chipped bit of rock that was once in the hands of some ancient arrow-maker and feel of his or Her intelligence. So I can let my eyes follow the curve of a ceramic piece that I bought from an artist several years ago, and contemplate Her mind.

I bring to your attention two artists of whom I know: Ela, whose works are sometimes enigmatic, sometimes astounding; and Nivi, who draws with something of an Impressionistic feel. Both these Ladies are, through Their work, sharing with us something of the genius and complexity of Their respective minds.

What I find truly wonderful is that two people can take the same medium and create completely different beauty with it.

What I find truly wonderful is that this also reveals how silly it is to put all Women [men too, I suppose -- that's for You again Molly (o:] in the same box, to believe that They all think alike, act alike, have the same likes and dislikes, etc.

Ela's a good blog friend and Nivi is someone who needs to be on my blog list -- I communicated with Her briefly when my blog was new but only rediscovered Her blog today.

Ela's work is found at She's in a cosmic mood this week, as this painting of Hers reveals:

Nivi is at

I'm out of time to blog any more today. But if either of the above persons visits this post today, I'd like Your permission to post samples of Your work here to help make my point.

The Intern, continued

Ms L., the intern working with me this month, has been an absolute delight. She is a hard worker and a quick learner. Programs and techniques that I struggled mightily to comprehend, She masters in a moment.

I am so glad that I said yes to Her request to intern here.

Last night, at the Board meeting, we publicly recognized Her and gave Her a certificate of appreciation. She wasn't expecting that. She certainly deserved it.

I hope that the experience that She has gained here will help crack the door for a really good job for Her once She completes college.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fight child abuse -- write this number down!

Write this number down (US readers only):


This is the National Child Abuse hotline.

Keep that number in your wallet or purse.

You never know when you will need it.

Last weekend, Sweetie and I were scoping out pink dogwoods at the local big box garden store. It was a great day. I've loved hardware stores and the plant sections of any store, since I was a kid.

Then she ruined it -- a woman about ten feet away. A woman deserving of, at best pity, at worst, utter contempt. (As noted in a previous post, I am perfectly aware that there are a few women in the world who have utterly failed to live up to their divine birthright.)

For wham, wham, wham, she smacked the hand or arm or perhaps the shoulder of a Girl who was with her, all of maybe eight years old. Very hard slaps, at least three in rapid succession, heard more than they were seen.

Followed by: "Don't do that!" or maybe it was, "I told you no!" I can't remember the exact words.

What the hell do you do in such a situation? Your mind begins to race as your blood pressure skyrockets. Was it truly abuse? Every parent probably slaps a child at least once in their lives, after all. My Mom, who would have given Her life for me, whacked me at least once, after all.

It's different when it's someone you know, or a neighbor, where you might be more aware of the home situation or at least could easily call the police to investigate. This was in a store miles from home, with a total stranger, on the move.

Sweetie and I agonized over it for several minutes and concluded that there was nothing we could do. It might or might not have been abuse. It might or might not have left a mark. It might or might not have been habitual. The child was clearly not in immediate danger of serious injury, just of a bruise at most. She didn't even cry; the family just moved on further into the store.

Now I have the hotline number. If ever I should witness such a situation again, I need only to quietly observe the license plate number of the person and then call the hotline and report it. That way, people who know the signs of true abuse can follow up and do what needs to be done.

The widget

Second thoughts.

I value my anonymity. Some of you may, as well.

I may take the widget down. I'm leaning towards doing so. If any of my readers have a preference one way or another, let me know and I'll factor that into my decision.

ECD attempts to explain himself

I have a message to share.

I do blog about trivialities quite often but from time to time I will return to my themes.

I installed one of those widgets yesterday that gives me an idea what kind of blog traffic I am receiving and from where. It may be annoying to some of my visitors but it makes me happy to see that I am getting some readers from all over the world.

I am not perfect. I am about as far from perfect as Boston is from Byelorus. But I have ideals, and one of my main ideals is that Woman is the best idea that the universe ever had.

Some of my regular readers perhaps get tired of it. That is one reason why I created a Sister blog, For the Love of Woman, which serves that theme exclusively. But every now and then, I let it spill over into this blog, Isis.

I repeat, I am not perfect. I have arguments with my dear Wife from time to time. I find that there are a few, a very, very few certain Women in the world whom I simply do not like. But yet, I have an ideal and I strive for it, and that is to devote myself, for my whole life, to uplifting that amazing being, Womankind, whoever She is, however I can. And that means each and every Woman on the planet. Shape, size, age, background --- it does not matter, there is simply a certain magic in what an XX chromosome creates, each and every time.

If they gain nothing else from it, I hope that visitors to this blog (and to FLOW), if they are men, come away thinking about their relationships with the Women in their lives and resolving to treat each of Them, at minimum, as equals, fully worthy of respect, fully capable of achieving amazing things. For myself, living with a quiet realization that Woman is even just a bit superior, mortal yet still a Goddess, gives me a certain joy as I go about my life. Hence, the capitalized pronouns.

For my blog visitors who are Women, I hope that You are helped, via this blog, to stand a little taller, to love Your amazing selves a little more and to resolve more strongly to achieve Your fullest possibilities.

In me and more other men than You might think, You have a determined advocate, who will uplift You and applaud You until my last breath escapes me.

It is not about altruism or being noble or pretentious. It is about a way of life that genuinely makes me happy. It began when I realized that a sincerely spoken compliment not only brought a smile to a lovely Feminine face but also made me feel very, very good. It continued through my years of schooling, with more and more such opportunities unfolding. A loaned umbrella or help with homework, a cold soda offered to quench a Lady’s thirst, those were little things but joyous nonetheless.

I was as giddy as a kid with candy the time a certain military colleague of mine got out Her wallet, after I had stood Her nightlong watch on post for Her so that She could do something instead that She really needed to do, visit Her family before Her transfer or something, I think. Such substitutions were not unknown but we all generally paid dearly for them.

“I’m just glad You were able to go home,” I told Her, flatly refusing Her fifty dollars.

It was a happy, happy moment for me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another new blog to enjoy

Her given name is Jessica but She goes by Foster Communications on Her blog. I will stick with Her given name, because Women's names are beautiful and should never be abbreviated or substituted.

As with so many of my blog friends, I can't remember exactly how we found each other.

We have the same career, school PR. That makes, along with Chase, three in this blog circle who work in education. Interesting.

I'm adding Her to my list because She is simply a neat person, with a great blog. I realize that I already have met too many wonderful people to keep up with, and on average, I visit each person on my list about twice a month these days. But I simply cannot resist.

Little Scientists

The other day at work, I was clearing out an ancient portfolio to do with the District Science Fair. One page caught my eye and I rescued it from the To Be Recycled pile.

It was a page of tips on helping to awaken childrens' interest in science.

Two of them, in particular, interested me:

First, it is just as important to involve Girls in science as it is boys. That ought to be common knowledge by now. Girls can, and should be encouraged, to do anything (anything intelligent!) that boys can do. If you don't believe that Girls/Women are just as smart as boys/men and just as capable, I feel sorry for you, as this world -- in which Women are succeeding and achieving wherever the artificial barriers of bad laws and faulty tradition have been demolished -- must really be confusing for you.

Secondly, parents should let their children take apart old appliances. It whets their natural curiosity and leads to questions and interest in how things work.

It sounds like a great idea but it certainly requires some supervision, as a lot of appliances these days have dangerous parts inside, and those shouldn't be on the list.

But today at work, I was looking at an old, broken camera. It seems perfectly safe and I think I'll take it home and let my Niece have at it with a screwdriver.

Monday, April 14, 2008


The day will come, when I make my every-other-year flight home to see Mom and Dad, when the silver streaks now in their hair will have become monochrome.

The day will come when their strength will be gone.

The day will come when I have to say goodbye.

Yes, it's a very depressing thought, but I believe it is normal for someone my age, first as an unpleasant whisper of possibility when I was a child, then more and more insistent with each passing year, today almost unbearably loud within my soul.

We all feel a little wistful sadness when a little one outgrows babyhood, and when the cute preteen becomes a gangly and independence-seeking adolescent, and when the adolescent moves away from home. But we also feel joy in each of those moments, for it represents maturation, progress, not decline.

I feel no joy in reminders of mortality writ upon the faces of the parents that I love.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Andorra for April, Number Four in my geography studies

A wave crashes upon the beach, dropping upon the sand its treasures. Perhaps it leaves a shell, a bit of driftwood, a disoriented crab, a strand of seaweed.

So it is, too, with the great ocean of time. It carries people and ideas and then leaves them, high and dry, a curiosity upon the sands of history.

Wedged between France and Spain, in the Pyrenees Mountains that separate those two nations, is a sovereign state just twice the size of Washington, D.C., USA.

In my studies of world history, I am still in ancient Rome. Christianity is still a novelty, and Mohammed and his armies, nearly six hundred years in the future. So I know almost nothing about the great Frankish king Charlemagne, who in the ruins of post-Roman Europe found himself battling mightly against the onslaught of Islam.

In those days, Andorra was born, one of the buffer states established by that king to prevent the Muslims in Spain from over-running Christian France.

By odd and obscure quirks of history, Andorra is the only remaining example of those buffer states, and though Charlemagne has mouldered in the dust for more than 1,300 years, and though the borders of the nations of Europe have shifted all around it, Andorra has retained her independence.

The weary waitress clearing tables at Dinah's Diner in Kansas or Idaho may dream of France, or of the blue seas that lap the coasts of Spain or Greece -- but who beyond the academics or geography buffs -- and the 64,716 people who live there, and their immediate neighbors, has ever heard of Andorra?

Like the Amish of Pennsylvania; like the monks of the ancient, almost extinct Christian sects who zealously guard the holy places of the Holy Land; like the sunken wreck of the battleship Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Andorra is an artifact of history, flotsam in the tide of time.

But it is also a living nation, proud of its traditions, proud to have officially joined the United Nations on July 28, 1993. On that day, Pres. Oscar Ribas declared, "Avui es un dia historic per a Andorra."

I interpret that as, "Here is a historic day for Andorra."

He continued: "Andorra ja no es un vestigi del dret feudal i medievval, sino un Estat homologat segons els criteris del dret internacional modern."

My perhaps faulty translation would be: "Andorra is not just a vestige of the feudal era, but a state that meets the criteria of the modern era."

Friday, April 11, 2008

We are strongest and richest, together

A strange, disturbing and fatally-flawed, misconception seems to fester in the minds of some men – hopefully no Women – in this world.

It is in regards to male-Female relationships, in regards to discussions of equality and superiority, gender roles and such.

When such discussions come up online, and in real life, too, a man who declares that Women have made significant contributions to civilization, that They are quite capable of doing anything that men can do and, perhaps, even do it better, is declared to have been “whipped.” He is said to be afraid. He is advised to “turn in his manhood.”

This puzzles me.

The conundrum is perhaps analogous to the typical attitude towards male cheerleaders or ballet dancers. What is a male cheerleader? He is a man who enjoys the close company of Women, who certainly doesn’t feel threatened by Them, and who must indeed be very manly, in a physical way – able to lift Them up with both grace and power.

Yet what is the stereotype of such a guy? As fruity, as Feminine, etc.

Seems to me the strongest, most manly kind of guy is one who celebrates the power, beauty and capabilities of Women. Who is not so weak as to hide behind stereotypes or shield himself from the competition of Female colleagues with a so-called glass ceiling. Who is fully confident of his manhood and does not find it threatened in a way by having a Female CEO, by sharing household duties with his spouse or by, really, anything at all.

Seems to me such a man is the happiest kind of man, confident, strong, living in a world in which Women are not his enemies nor his downcast servants to be “kept in their place” by tradition and brute force. By recognizing Them as his equals, by recognizing Their worth and intelligence, he finds himself daily in a position to be edified, inspired and enlightened.

He might even step beyond that and recognize in his heart that Woman is even, just a little bit, superior and thus he will walk daily in the company of Goddesses – and what could be more pleasurable than that?

Nowhere in these scenarios is there any pretense of fear, is there any emasculation. He is strong, he is happy, he is blessed. His manly strengths and talents pair with the Womanly strengths and talents of the Women in his world, to create the ultimate synergy.

Woman’s strengths, Woman’s gifts, are like fine gold in society’s bank. We would all scorn or pity the fool who stumbled into a cave full of treasure and then walked back out declaring that his own pocketful of pennies was more valuable and he had no interest in adding the cavern’s bounty to his own.

We would also wonder about the man who owned a gallery of fine art but refused to add anything more to it because he insisted that no art in the world could possibly be better than what he already had.

And if I had five dollars and someone offered me five more, would I turn it down?

No, my way of life is not about fear. Not about being a wimp. I am a relatively strong man, I think, physically and mentally. I do not fear the progress and success of Women. I celebrate it, not from compulsion but of my own free and happy will.

To me, it feels like simple common sense.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Call me Choppie

I'm done ranting for a while. Hey, we all have buttons to be pushed. Mine include evil governments and bad drivers.

My boss resurrected an old, old word today. He was talking with me and said the following, "[ECD], sometimes in your voice it's very easy to tell that you are nervous. You sound very choppy. You need to be more smooth. Cool Hand Luke, you know."

And I remembered, and told him, that that very word, choppy, came up nearly 20 years ago, from my high school English teacher.

She said that I had talent but that my writing was a little too choppy. I have never forgotten those words.

So I talk choppy and I write choppy. Is there no hope for me?

Excoriating Accelerationally-Challenged Imbeciles

I. Hate. Slow. Drivers. In. The. Fast. Lane.

Die. Die. Die painfully and slowly, the way that you have driven.

I cannot understand how a person could be so clueless as to dribble along, slowly enough for an arthritic octogenarian to do cartwheels around his vehicle, while a dozen cars pile up in utter frustration behind him, trying desperately and at peril of their lives to squeeze into whatever gap may finally open up in the other lanes.

I encountered such an idiot today, driving some kind of panel truck. For a good five minutes, he put-putted along I-95 at a speed usually employed by ducks waddling around a pond. Car after car rode his bumper but he was oblivious. In front of his benighted vehicle, the left lane was free and clear.

I tried and tried and finally my chance came. I gave him a look of pure hatred as I passed and made sure that he saw it. I jerked in front of him and slowed down nicely for a moment or two. It was a wasted lesson. As he vanished mercifully behind me, I could see that he had no intention of changing lanes, ever, and the line of traffic continued behind him.

My choices of torture for such a person would involve electric sanders, razor blades, vicious ants, rabid dogs, red hot skewers, colonic cleansing utilizing caustic chemicals and ground glass, forcibly-fed toadstool puree and a woodchipper.

Monday, April 7, 2008

One for the protesters

"Organizers canceled the final leg of the Olympic run through Paris after chaotic protests Monday, snuffing out the torch and putting it aboard a bus in a humiliating concession to protesters decrying China's human rights record."

All I can say, is good for those protesters.

I won't be watching the Olympics this year, whether the flame finally gets to Beijing or not. I hope that this thing gives the aging tyrants of the Middle Kingdom a whole lot of heartburn, if soul-searching is too much to ask for.

They may be able to crush all dissent in their own country and pretend that all is well, while they deny the Tiannamen Square massacre and their soldiers beat up monks, stifle Uighers and persecute Falon Gong. But they don't rule the rest of the world and they don't deserve any international respect.

The Olympics has embarrassed itself twice now in history, first by serving as a platform for Hitler's posturing in '36 and then by showing up in the gulag of the late unlamented USSR in 1980. Perhaps the third time is the charm?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Thoughts domestic and political

My Sweetie found a couple of nice tops at Kohl's yesterday and I was happy for Her. She's very picky about outfits and doesn't buy for Herself very often.

Of course, any man truly in love enjoys nothing more than indulging his Lady.

I'm baking bread again this morning. It will be a treat to smell that as the rain comes down again outside. Hope the garden isn't drowned.

She's in watching the Seventh Heaven dvd I gave Her for Her birthday.

I am contemplating a column that I cut from the paper the other day, by a member of the Occoneechee-Saponi tribe of Virginia. The writer's point: that only when Europeans invaded the New World, did political boundaries become imposed on the landscape, lines which it was forbidden for certain peoples, most especially Native Americans, to cross. The majority of illegal immigrants across these new borders are actually Native Americans of varying degree. An injustice.

I agree with him to a point, and the European impact upon the Natives was indeed a disgrace and a horror, even genocide.

But as for political boundaries? Those were here before. Capt. John Smith of Jamestown learned early on that an invisible line just west of the present-day city of Richmond, Virginia, marked where Powhatan's domain ended and Monacan rule began. A trespasser across those lines would not have a happy fate.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I just like this guy

Those old cartoon animators produced amazing art. Like this guy. I just like this guy. He showed up on a Flintstones episode, scaring the crap out of Fred.


Because there are no deer in "my" woods behind my house, I get spoiled. I can wander there with impunity and bring home nothing but memories.

Alas, other Virginia woods have lots of deer. And where there are deer, there also lives a certain disgusting, repulsive, nasty little parasite called a tick.

If you've never been tick-bit, count your blessings. Unlike a mosquito, which dines on you and then skedaddles to avoid being smacked, a tick intends to ride you for the long haul, sucking and swelling. Eventually, nicely engorged, the thing will finally fall off, but who wants to wait that long?

So you have to pull it out. That's no job for the squeamish.

Last night, something didn't feel quite right. I examined what at first glance appeared to be a mole, where I didn't remember having a mole before. Sure enough, twas a tick, probably picked up when I embraced the ground the other day taking those arbutus photos.

Experts advise that a tick should be removed firmly but not too quickly and not by burning it with a match head or other folk remedies. You don't want the thing's head by which it is attached to you, to break off and be stuck in your skin.

Evolution has given us wonderful creatures like the blue whale and ladyslipper orchid. It has also given us fleas, tapeworms and ticks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lunch break snapshots in spring

The rain has ceased and this is what I photographed on my lunch break today, in a forest near my office.

The above is the rare, trailing arbutus -- such a small flower that a casual passerby would surely miss it. I knelt down and inhaled its faint fragrance -- the first time in my life that I have ever had this opportunity.