Ramblings and Revolutions

I think, therefore I'm dangerous.

A Murder of … Monkeys?

I watched a noted bird scientist on the morning news today. He wants to reinvent the image of crows.

They’re not scary and threatening, he said. They’re really smart and friendly.

OK, so far, so good.

Then he described them as “flying monkeys.”

Um, excuse me, Doc, but having seen the Wizard of Oz more than once, I have to ask:

How the bleep are FLYING MONKEYS an improvement over scary, threatening birds?

Judgment(al) Day

Social media is a great way to keep up with friends and family. We can stay in touch with folks we seldom get to see in person,.

That can be a mixed blessing. Sometimes it leads to unpleasant surprises.  Such was the case recently with a friend of mine.

My friend saw someone in front of her at the counter of  a local store, noted what she was buying, and posted a rather snarky note  about the fact that the woman was buying both cigarettes and a home pregnancy test.  My friend commented sarcastically that it was a “great start” for the baby.

Others quickly chimed in, adding nasty little asides like “she’s probably on [food stamps}.”  Quite a few folks self-righteously proclaimed THEY would never be so irresponsible.

OK, I’ll grant I might have reached the same conclusion myself had I seen the woman in the store. But then I got to thinking about the brief encounter. There are way too many unknowns.

Was the woman in question buying the cigarettes for herself? Maybe yes, maybe no. Makes a difference.

Was she buying the pregnancy test for herself? Maybe yes, maybe no. The snarky commenters have no way of knowing.

Was she pregnant? Maybe yes, maybe no. Again, that little detail  makes a difference.

Even if the answer to all three of those questions was yes — and again, I note that I might well have reached the same conclusion had I been there — it’s truly no one’s business but hers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not endorsing smoking while pregnant. My mom did she was pregnant with me. I was born prematurely and underweight — which I’ve abundantly made up for since. And smoking killed Mom way too young.

But it seems to me that a little compassion is more appropriate than snark. Cigarettes cause a physical addiction. It’s not just a matter of putting them down and walking away. Not everyone is strong enough to make that break.

And that gets me thinking about my own indignant response to my friend’s post and the various responses. My reaction was kind of snarky in its own right. Don’t I owe them the same courtesy I would extend to the woman in the store?

Every once in a while, I find it necessary to repeat a little prayer, and it seems appropriate for this situation.

Lord, deliver me from self-righteousness — including my own.

Amen.

 

(Coffee) Shop Talk

So I’m watching the morning news today, sipping my coffee. Two cats, two dogs nearby. Life is good.  I’m catching up with the day’s news, and all is well.

Suddenly —

Cue the cliché sound of a phonograph needle scratching across a record. You know, the one that always signals something shocking or disturbing. The sound that millennials have no idea where it comes from.

Why?

Because a network news anchor has just used the word “expresso.” Twice.

What’s wrong with that?

EXPRESSO IS NOT A WORD.

The word to describe the coffee preparation method is ESpresso, not EX. Never, ever “ex.”

I don’t know why, but this particular glitch drives me up a wall.  It’s fingernails-on-a-blackboard irritating (speaking of clichés that millennials don’t know).

Yes, I know it’s a common mistake. I know lots of people do it. I know Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits waxed poetic about “EXpresso Love.”   I don’t care. It still makes me crazy.

I even know of several “baristas” who say it wrong — and no, not all of them wear green aprons. Sorry, but if you’re serving it and you don’t know how to pronounce it, you don’t deserve to be called a barista without the quotation marks.

And if you’re on national television, and a friend of Oprah, there’s no excuse there either. You’re smart enough to know better.

Just say no to “expresso.”

 

 

Fitness Protection Program

I’ll admit I like the idea of riding a bicycle again. I remember how much fun it was way back when, zipping around all over the place on two wheels.

Trouble is, it’s been quite some time since those days. And literally EVERY middle-aged bike rider I have known over the past 30 years or so has had a bone-breaking injury at some point. Most recently, my sister-in-law last weekend. She caught a toe clip wrong, fell and badly broke her right arm in two places.

Other examples abound — the mountain bike rider who had to have surgery to correct a fractured shoulder after he took a serious fall. A leisure rider who needed plates and screws in her ankle after a nasty tumble in the street.

So better to stay on two feet or four wheels, I think. At least for now.

Then again, I did manage to fall off a treadmill once…. and safety experts say most traffic accidents happen within five miles of home.

Darn. That means I gotta move.

Requiem For A Fallen Officer

Police officers have been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. As of today, a former North Charleston, S.C. officer is charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed, fleeing man. In Tulsa, a reserve deputy is charged with manslaughter after allegedly shooting  a man with his pistol when he meant to use a Taser.

You know the horror stories. They’re out there, and they’re not hard to find. Police brutality, police overreaction, “accidental” shootings that seem anything but accidental.

It’s easy to criticize the bad guys on the force. But we have to remember that the few are outnumbered by the vast majority of dedicated, hardworking cops out there, just doing their best every day and trying to get home to their families at the end of the shift.

(Disclaimer: I’m not unbiased here. My father’s a cop, and a good one. He’s on the street every night in my hometown.)

Unfortunately, even with modern protective gear, it’s still far too easy for a police officer to die in the line of duty, even when not directly confronting criminals. We had one such case here in Florida last week.

Officer Jared Forsyth, 33, was participating in a training exercise April 6 with other members of the Ocala police department.  As a fellow officer was cleaning his gun, it discharged. The bullet struck a bench and ricocheted at an angle that struck Forsyth in the arm and then the chest, in a spot not covered by his bulletproof vest. He died in surgery.

By all accounts, Forsyth was a good cop, smart, conscientious, a positive influence on others. His death was a tragic accident, a brutal reminder that a police officer’s life can never be taken for granted, in any circumstances.

Hundreds turned out today for his funeral. He will be missed by his family, his fellow officers, and the citizens he was sworn to protect.

Rest in peace, Officer Forsyth. And to the thousands of good men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the same line of work, thank you.

Friday

What do we want?

“AUTOCORRECT!”

When do we want it?

“KNOW!”

Just A Thought…

What a difference a camera makes.

A Game To Remember

I’ve said before that I’m a casual sports fan at best. I don’t regularly follow any team in any sport. But I do occasionally enjoy a good college basketball game.

Last night’s NCAA men’s  championship game was not a good college basketball game.

It was a spectacular game, a glorious game, one for the ages. Both Duke and Wisconsin did themselves, their schools and their sport proud.

A little background info is in order: I grew up in Kentucky, where college basketball is the unofficial state religion. Somehow I managed to avoid joining the Church of Big Blue, the diocese of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Not being a believer in the Bluegrass State can make life difficult. The faithful are loud and proud, quite literally expecting nothing less than a championship every year.  I have friends and family members who fall into this category, and this year has been particularly trying for apostates like me.

Kentucky was ranked #1 before the season began, and the Big Blue Nation was expecting the first perfect season in nearly 40 years, culminating in a celebration last night in Indianapolis. And they made no secret of it.

They almost made it, dispatching their opponents with ruthless efficiency and unbridled arrogance. Then came Wisconsin. Goofy, low-key, humble Wisconsin.

Smart, talented, focused Wisconsin. They dispatched the Kentucky kitties in a way that brought a welcome touch of schadenfreude to me.  The Badgers were my new favorite team, so it seemed only right to tune in to the championship game to see if they could work miracles again and take out mighty Duke.

In the end, no, they couldn’t. But they came close. The game was easily one of the best I’ve ever seen. So many lead changes I lost count. The score tied at 31 at halftime.

This game was two great teams, battling for their lives. Both gave as good as they got. They kept it too close to call for virtually the entire game. It was pure basketball excitement. It was ego-free unselfish play.

It was breathtaking, brilliant, wonderful basketball.

Some may choose to quibble — on either side — about the officiating. That’s a part of any basketball game, let alone one at this level.  Others may quarrel with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s embrace of the one-and-done ethos of the modern game that virtually guarantees most of this year’s starters won’t be back next fall. Or you could question Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s choice of old-school recruiting that downplays the one-and-done in a game that clearly favors it.

But no matter where your loyalties lie, there’s no denying that two great teams were right where they deserved to be last night — and that they brought the house down.

Friday Afternoon

Some days you just gotta crank the music up and roll with it.

it might be ’60s classic rock, Beatles and Stones and Beach Boys, oh my. It could be ’70s punk, sneer and snarl and a ripped black leather jacket.  Maybe it’s ’80s pop, full of synths and big hair.

No matter. Whatever gets your motor running on a Friday afternoon, just go with it.

Happy Weekend!

Blast* From The Past

Sometimes, all it takes is a voice from the past…

 

 

 

…. to remind you how much better the present is.

 

 

 

*(Of Hot Air)

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