Saturday, March 31, 2018

Trump pardons Sailor

So often we hear of activity that is borderline or simply outright illegal that is passed by a Grand Jury or that is not even prosecuted. In light of the fact that in recent memory the U.S. has had a sitting Secretary of State who was cavalier in her handling of the most sensitive of information, it seemed particularly chilling that a member of our armed forces would be prosecuted and imprisoned for an unwitting error. Indeed, the carte blanche enjoyed by HRC was unconscionable, considering how the life of Kristian Saucier and his family was upended, and all for a bumbling mistake. I am pleased that President Trump has pardoned Kris Saucier. Considering this is only the second pardon that Trump has issued, I heartily agree with how he is handling this privilege and responsibility.

Plant recommendation - Hummingbird Mint (Hyssop)

I have a few plantings around a boulder in my yard, and I was thrilled recently to notice that my hummingbird mint is already coming back. I had to spend about an hour weeding and prepping the area this morning, and this plant's fragrance is one of my favorite plant smells of all time. The fragrance doesn't smell so much like mint as it does a wonderful herbal smell. I would place it somewhere between lavender and mint, if I needed to put it on an olfactory spectrum. However you classify the fragrance, it is very light and fresh, and the fact that it attracts pollinators is just a bonus.

I obtained this specimen from High Country Gardens, who has a wonderful array of colors of hummingbird mint. I'm thinking of ordering a few more so that I have that wonderful fragrance all over the yard.

(In my photo, the hummingbird mint is the one in the middle. Not the best photo in the world, but this will be large quite soon, and I'll post an update.)

Early bloomer

My Raspberry Delight Salvia is already blooming, and this has never happened so early. I've seen quite a few large butterflies, and I'm ready for the garden to put on more of a show this year. :) Can't wait for my first glimpse of a hummingbird this year.

Monday, March 26, 2018

General blog disclaimer from phlegmfatale

In September 2002, I needed a creative outlet, and felt the need to begin some kind of record of the tenor of the times and how they affected my life in general. Over the years, my blogging has been sporadic, and no period moreso than in the past year. This blog was not planned, nor was it necessarily composed with future intent to read my archives, but if I should wish to, there they will be, I reasoned. Some of the commentary here has been related to things that were happening culturally and politically around the world and in the U.S., but mostly this blog's content has been a mishmash, and perhaps not a measure of anything but the world as I see it. The traffic stats seem to indicate that some folks have hung in and still check my blog occasionally, and for that I am grateful and I thank you for your interest. 

Undoubtedly, a critical eye cast back over these sixteen years of blogging would reveal that although I am essentially myself, I also have changed in some fundamental ways. I received my BA in May 2017, and I expect to complete my MA in 2019. I will post at length on my degree later on, but I feel the need to address the topic of the archives of my blog and their content and form. The archives of this blog are doubtless rife with errors of syntax and typography. I have been won over-- kicking and screaming-- to the camp of one space between sentences, but there must be many more egregious errors than that to be found within these myriad pixels. This disclaimer here is that if an error is in this blog, I made the error, and I'm not going to go back and edit the original work. They will stand as they are. 

I stand by what I have written, as well, but I do not claim that I have never written things from an emotional or ignorant standpoint. Like all humans, I am flawed, and hopefully my flaws are primarily quirky and charming, but I will not apologize for being shot through with the frailties that are the calling card of our species.

In summary: old stuff I wrote is probably flawed structurally and thematically. I'm not fixing it. Hopefully, I will do better in the future. Just call me a late bloomer.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: long overdue puppy post

Friday was National Puppy Day, so I think you deserve a peek at my little houndies. I can't believe the two elders will be 10 this year, and my baby wiener girl is 6, though with her white face, she sort of looks the oldest. Still, I will do all in my power to keep them in fine fettle for as long as possible.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My thoughts stated perfectly by Ambulance Driver:

Kelly Grayson said this elsewhere on the web today, and I could not have said it more perfectly myself:

On kids protesting gun violence and demanding our leaders do something about it:
Welcome to Citizenship 101, high schoolers. It is your birthright, and your DUTY to exercise your right to free speech and actively engage in influencing, and in a year or so, CHOOSING your political leaders.

Keep on doing what you’re doing. I’ll support you 100%.
But don’t expect me to actually buy your arguments, because you’re naive, ignorant of the subject, and have all the perspective of the world that you’d expect from a... high schooler.
And remember that, when the people who came before you felt it necessary to commit civil disobedience to make their points - and walking out of school, disrupting government proceedings and the conduct of business IS civil disobedience - they also suffered the consequences of that disobedience. They stoically (well, most of them) took their punishment, however unjust, and swayed public opinion with their courage. They eventually changed society.
You want to impress the people who think you’re entitled, pampered little snowflakes? Don’t ask for special snowflake treatment when you get into trouble.
And if you’re a parent, using your child as a sock puppet to advance your own political views? Shame on you for your cowardice.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The lesson from 9/11 that millennials have yet to learn: a call to resistance

If a young American person is lucky, she will grow up with parents who teach her about boundaries. These boundaries are founded on the principles of selfhood ranging from intellectual freedom, to the sanctity of one’s physical health and safety. However, the Nanny State tells her that everyone around her is responsible for her well-being, both emotional and physical, so they will put in place measures to protect her. These measures include legislative foam bumpers on social interactions to insure that she never has her feelings hurt, and gun-free zones that are meant to seduce her into thinking they have taken care of everything. However, the Nanny State represents itself falsely: they cannot guarantee our girl a life free of emotional pain from others, or that she will never be at the wrong end of a gun barrel. Fortunately for this girl, there is a relatively recent example in American history on which this she—and every American—may model their behavior in those off-script situations in which everything has gang aft agley: the case of United Flight 93, in which a group of people who faced certain doom determined to embugger the nefarious plans of evil people. This lesson is a prime illustration that passivity is useless, and that sometimes, we must risk the ultimate harm to ourselves to stop bad people in their tracks and keep them from harming possibly thousands more people.
On September 11, 2001, four commercial planes were commandeered by terrorists in a synchronized effort to inflict maximum damage and casualties on American institutions. Armed with razor-bladed boxcutters, a group of men on each plane killed the pilots and subdued the passengers. Two flights ended at the World Trade Center towers in New York City, resulting in the deaths of thousands in those buildings and all souls on the planes. One plane was crashed into the Pentagon to yet more disastrous effect. However, passengers on the fourth plane, United Flight 93, learned via phone calls to friends and family on land that the hijacking was part of a larger planned attack. They knew they were going to die, so they determined to do what they could to thwart the ultimate plans of their attackers. The story of those 33 passengers rushing the terrorists with little more than determination and brute strength is awe-inspiring, and they most likely saved hundreds or thousands of lives at whatever structure was meant to be the crash site for which the terrorists aimed. The heroes of Flight 93 did not need to be told about boundaries: their lives in the hands of people who were the mind-numbed products of defective cultures, Thomas Burnett, Jr., Todd Beamer, and Sandy Bradshaw, and their fellow passengers effectively said “not today, Satan. Not today.” They drew a line in the sky.
As a middle-aged woman completing grad studies at a state university, I have plenty of time to observe the behaviors of young people in hallways, common areas, and classrooms of my campus. I see many young people who do not lift their eyes from their device screens even to check for cars at crosswalks. Many students spend entire lecture periods paying attention only to a smartphone. These people are halfway checked out of their physical environs, often with situational awareness that would register in the negative range, if that were possible. Let’s call it a zero level of situational awareness. In fact, they seem unaware when mass shootings on other campuses have taken place, as though they could never be touched by such violence. These people are so immersed in their headspace that they seem less than fully present, mentally. Such people would be ill-prepared for an emergency situation, such as an active shooter, should one arise.
My mind keeps going back to the eternal question about the Jews and the Nazi death camps: “Why did no one resist? Why did no one fight?” The answers to these questions would probably be as baffling and heartbreaking as anything else about the story itself. In his superb book Ordinary Men, Christopher R. Browning tells of how during the Nazi terror in Poland, 8,000 Jews were loaded onto a train that was overseen by only 20 guards. Can you imagine this? That crowd of humans--even if only a quarter of them were of hearty health to resist--could have CRUSHED the guards, but they did not. Why do American students not rat-pile active shooters? Because they are told to be passive, to hide, to run, to hope for mercy or the dumb luck of the numbers that they will be missed by the shooter. When the subject comes up on campus, I ALWAYS tell my peers that if something like that happens near me, if I am a student or a teacher, I will do my damnedest to get to the shooter from behind and claw their eyeballs out. I could do better to stop the threat if I could legally carry a gun in that situation, but even with recent changes in state ordinances on campus carry, most buildings on campus proudly declare at every entry that they are gun-free zones, so I guess it’s down to me and my fingernails. All this is by way of saying is that even if I am the only one, and even if I must give my life in that situation to try and stop the threat, I will do so. I pray I am never tested in this manner, but in the hideous case that something happens, I at least have a plan, and I hope I can go on automatic and do what needs doing.
In this age of decrying the violent and sexually licentious among us, why is there no movement to inculcate all people with a sense that they have a right to defend their own bodies by fighting back, if necessary? I think I have the answer: for at least five decades, Americans—particularly males—have been punished for behaviors that would keep them in fighting trim for a self-defense situation. These behaviors have been lambasted under the umbrella of toxic masculinity in an effort to eradicate violence, and the net effect has been a more passive populace that relies increasingly on the Nanny State for everything. The circular effect here is readily apparent: even though a small number of physically adept student athletes could easily subdue and shut down the activities of a malicious actor on campus, they simply don’t. The bottom line is the narrative of hiding or running is not good enough. Being able to defend the physical bounds of the self is a Good Thing. Why is self-defense not becoming a part of school curricula at both high school and college levels? If school administrations make self defense martial arts part of their curricula, all members of the student body would benefit, particularly female students who take these courses.
Life is messy. Eggs will be broken. We none of us are getting out of here alive, but in a free country that eradicated polio on the planet and put men on the moon, it’s not too much to ask that every girl and boy can be in a state of choice about how they face their ultimate demise, if that demise presumes to violently present itself prematurely. Girls and boys and men and women need to think seriously about what to do in the event of unexpected violence, and how to act. It would be nice if we never had to think of this again, but these situations will not stop. And taking guns away from the NRA members who already abide by our Nation’s laws is not the answer any more than all Muslims are to blame for the extremists who killed thousands on 9/11. The instinct to defend one’s boundaries is not toxic, nor is it exclusive to men. Likewise, people who try to cross those boundaries with ill intent should be met with ultimate resistance. “Don’t let someone take your life without a fight” should not need to be said, but if it must be said, then drill it into the skulls of everyone around you. We are blessed to live in this time and this place, and no one deserves to take this away from us, and that goes for young people as well as for any adult here. When you see the ultimate evil, do everything within your power to resist it. Shoot it, kick it, or claw its eyeballs out, if that’s all you can do to stop it. To do less is un-American.

P.S., For additional information on meeting lethal force in kind, I highly recommend The Cornered Cat for information.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Literature this semester

I am delighted that I have to read some of my favorite literature for a class this semester, most notably Howards End by E.M. Forster. After so many hours spent reading stuff that feels like watching paint dry, it's a delight to read something enjoyable. Now I'm on to Sons And Lovers by D.H. Lawrence, which was tough sledding in the beginning, but which I am coming to love. Still, I will probably do my big semester essay on Howards End-- it is SUCH a good book, and one that I can't recommend highly enough. Lots of cheap copies may be found on ebay, by the way.

Speaking of bargains on books, since the professors in my graduate discipline are nice people, nearly all the books they require of us can be found used for a song on Amazon or ebay. This is a refreshing development after all the ridiculous books I've had to buy that were hundreds of dollars new, and often worthless almost as soon as the course was concluded-- could possibly be sold on ebay for $10. Meh.

Speaking of my favorite writers, Google informed me that today was the birthday of one of my favorites, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. I loved his writing, and especially One Hundred Years Of Solitude. So good. :)

Spring Break is next week, and this is the 8th week of the semester. I can't believe this one is nearly halfway over, but considering how enjoyable this semester has been, it WOULD hurry by, wouldn't it?

Monday, March 05, 2018

Speaking of gardening...

The U.S. Postal Service has a gorgeous series of stamps called "Protect Pollinators" and I picked up a sheet of them last week, and intend to get a few more before they are gone. They are "forever" stamps that will be good for one first class letter in perpetuity, even when the price of mailing a letter changes. For those of us who are concerned about our pollinators (and that should be ALL of us, since pollinators germinate the food that we eat, or the food that our meat eats), it's a beautiful way to wear our hearts on our sleeves or on our envelopes.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

A Sunday post of wondrous beauty

No credit to me, of course, but the wondrous beauty will come at the end in the form of a marvelous piece of music which I hope will delight you as it did me.

I've meant to post for ever so long, but life continues hectic in my Master's studies. This semester is a glory and a joy compared to last semester, but the work remains intensive. I am happy in my studies. Spring Break begins in about a week. Halleloo.

Yes, the banner and other images on my blog are being held hostage by Photobucket, who used to be so nice, but changed their policies so that a student like me can't afford to use them. I will try to get the images ginned back up in another form soon. In the meantime, pardon our construction.  Remember all those Geocities sites in the mid-90s with the "pardon our construction" place markers? Well, about 1/5th into the 21st century, that's about where I am with this thing. Will try to address that soon. Giant raspberries to Photobucket. UPDATE - Thanks to Himself for fixing the banner. More construction to follow, but at least we don't have the beastly photobucket shrieking all over the page now. :)

I am excited about my gardening for this year. My school schedule is such that I hope to have more time to get lots of healthy prep done, as well as plant quite a few more wonderful things in the garden. I don't use any harsh stuff on my yard, so in summer evenings, my yard is ablaze with fireflies, and I want to keep it that way. The fireflies here are not the big rascals of my childhood in Arkansas and the Ozarks. These are wee tiny little things, with much dimmer lights, but they are beautiful, and I have so many. My next door neighbors call me the firefly whisperer. I'll take it. :) A few more people wanted seeds to the Texas Star Hibiscus, and if you have not received them yet, I will be sending them to you tomorrow. Apologies for the wait, and I hope you will enjoy these wonderful things and have lots of happy blooms on them within a year or two. :) I still have enough to send out a few more, so let me know in the comments if you'd like some seeds.

So, for the wondrous beauty, I give you a glorious recording of Polorum Regina (Queen of Heaven) recorded by The Waverly Consort. There are several wonderful recordings of this setting of a 14th century text, but this recording is my favorite. The soloist has a glorious baritone that I could listen to all day. I hope this brightens your day. :)