19 August 2017

Mute Button

It's been a challenging week month year for right-thinking Americans, and by "right-thinking" I mean the vast majority of us who believe in and model tolerance, respect, and acceptance of others, regardless of where they come from or what skin they happened to be born in.

I've found it very difficult to listen to or watch any news reports. I have to keep them at a distance. Even reading the newspaper is stressful. I'm so disgusted by the behavior of our alleged leader, and that of the toxic far-right factions that he's so afraid to alienate, that I just can't allow any of it into my brain. I used to believe that as a country and a people, we were better than what we have seen in recent times (not just last weekend). Now, I don't know what to think.

It's one thing to have lived through the Reagan and Bush years feeling that the leadership did not represent my views, and quite another to have as the occupant of the White House a person who does not seem to have enough human feeling to condemn an act of violence rooted in hatred, or even the vile words and behavior of extremists who believe the wrong side won the Civil War. Esquire's Charles Pierce has the right idea: he refers to the president with an asterisk. It requires no explanation, the meaning is quite clear: an egomaniacal buffoon with no experience in government, while technically the holder of the office, is not deserving of the title.

I find myself wondering frequently how the rest of the world views us, and how much damage is being done to our country's image and reputation. Will people hoping for a better life stop believing in the American dream, out of fear that coming here might not be a better option than remaining where they are? Or will they choose to go somewhere less fraught and less divided?

And let's be clear about something: I'm not expressing my feelings from an ivory tower. Boston does not have a shining history with regard to civil rights. I haven't lived within the city limits since the late 1980s, but I work in the city, and I have for much of my adult life. It feels like things have gotten better, but the challenge is still there, every day, but for many it's now economic as well as societal.

The ideals of free speech codified by the founders of the United States mean that we have to allow a white supremacist rally to take place today, but we don't have to attend, or watch, or pay any attention at all. I wish the media would do the same, because without the benefit of an audience, the message would have even less of an impact; it would be merely background noise.

For some time I have been concerned about the future of the United States as a country and a society. Now my feelings have gone from concern to deep worry and a degree of fear. How bad will it get? When I was growing up I didn't think I would see even the beginning of the country's decline within my lifetime. Now I wonder how far it will have progressed by the time I'm gone.

All of that said, humor helps. #sheetcaking

10 August 2017

Home Work: Mugs and Colors

We've been spending some time over the past few months doing some sprucing up around the SAR homestead. This has been a multifaceted endeavor, entailing everything from evaluating our assortment of drinking glasses and coffee mugs, to adding a couple of new pieces of storage furniture, to rearranging some of our living space.

It started innocently enough: I was in search of a replacement for one of our small Fiestaware plates that had gone missing. My Virgo mind likes order, and it bothered me that we had an odd number of small plates, but an even number of dinner plates and bowls. Also, it just bothered me that I couldn't find the other plate, or determine what had become of it.

We got quite a bit of Fiestaware as wedding gifts; we had chosen cobalt as the color we wanted and put it on our registry. (As an aside, I should point out that I was the one who chose most of the items on our registry, and subsequently was the one who went to the store and walked around with the scanner gun, because the Mrs. just wasn't interested.)

Eventually I clicked my way to the direct-sale website of Homer Laughlin, the company that has manufactured Fiestaware in Newell, West Virginia since 1936 (production ceased in late 1972, but was revived in 1986). I decided that it didn't make sense to order just one small plate, so I added two more dinner plates, which would allow us to stretch our dishwasher cycle a bit.

Before I finalized my order, I looked around the rest of the site. All the mugs that had come with the place settings had long been banished to the top shelf of our cupboard; we never use them, because they are kind of small and almost all our other mugs are around 15 ounces or larger. We'd recently had a conversation about getting rid of them, giving them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Online I saw a newer, tapered mug design that I was not familiar with, in a 15-ounce size. I eyed the color choices, liking several of them. I added a few to my order.

A day or so later, I found myself thinking about the mugs that were on their way along with the plates. I wanted more colors of them. I found a big home sale going on at JCPenney, and with various discounts was able to order several more for around $9 each. A week or so later, everything had arrived and we had eight Fiestaware mugs in eight different colors: scarlet, slate, lapis, ivory, sage, lemongrass, poppy, and turquoise. I didn't get one in cobalt to match the plates and bowls, because I see the mugs as their own thing, separate and distinct from our dinnerware. I suppose I could still order one, but that would leave us with an odd number...
(Fiestaware is and has always been an American-made product, from a company still in the hands of family descended from its founders. Keep that in mind next time you're thinking about buying dinnerware, either for yourself or as a gift.)

01 August 2017

"Overheard": Points for Effort But Game Needs Work Edition

This one comes to me secondhand from one of my coworkers, so it's not "overheard" in the strict sense, but why mess with the formula?

On Saturday night she went to a bar, and was almost immediately greeted by a guy: "Hi, how are you?"
She responded, "Okay, thanks."
"You seem like a nice person, can I buy you a drink?"
"I have a boyfriend." (This is true)
"Oh... well, do you think you might be breaking up with him any time soon?"