Musings and Mirth
So, most of the country with their heads not firmly stuck up their own asses or locked onto their television screens worrying about who is going to win Dancing with the Stars, or spending their limited time on this planet fretting and steaming over the latest thing Gwyneth Paltrow said (really?) now knows that Obama put Tom Wheeler at the the head of the FCC. Who is Tom Wheeler you might ask? He’s a former lobbyist for the cable companies whose agenda has included, for a long time now and fully known to our dear President Obama, to rid the internet of Neutrality. You know, that thing that makes the internet one of the last avenues for free and open speech? You know, the internet where someone like me can build a business with nothing more than a modem (1200 baud baby), an internet service provider and a computer hookup. With those three things I could launch not just a business but an entire industry as I helped do in 1999 when the (insert positive or negative adjective here) Oscar Watching industry was born. I could go toe to toe with the giant corporate media congloms. Yeah, me. Single mother living in a guest house in Van Nuys with an infant on my hip starting my own business. Those days are shrinking fast, thanks to the corrupt 1% and their almost total domination of our democracy. Hoo haw.
There is a new game in town over at Apple. I’ve been a customer of theirs since the 1980s. A loyal customer. I advised everyone I knew, in fact, to buy Apple. I bought or buy a new Macbook every other year or so. I have an iMac, two Macbook pros and one for my daughter. But they have lost me as a customer and I’ll tell you why.
1. They used to care more about customer service and loyalty.
When I went into the Apple store to complain about how Macbook Pro retina display had been damaged — while doing nothing more than sitting in my backpack in an overhead container on the airplane, not having been dropped nor kicked nor had water spilled on it, bought just three weeks ago – their comment to me was “this is accidental damage and we don’t cover it.” It would cost around $500 to repair it. This was THEIR fault, not mine. I’ll explain in the next part.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died at the age of 87. Here is one of my favorite pieces of writing by him:
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings: A Tale For Children
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
On the third day of rain they had killed so many crabs inside the house that Pelayo had to cross his drenched courtyard and throw them into the sea, because the newborn child had a temperature all night and they thought it was due to the stench. The world had been sad since Tuesday. Sea and sky were a single ash-gray thing and the sands of the beach, which on March nights glimmered like powdered light, had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish. The light was so weak at noon that when Pelayo was coming back to the house after throwing away the crabs, it was hard for him to see what it was that was moving and groaning in the rear of the courtyard. He had to go very close to see that it was an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn’t get up, impeded by his enormous wings.
Frightened by that nightmare, Pelayo ran to get Elisenda, his wife, who was putting compresses on the sick child, and he took her to the rear of the courtyard. They both looked at the fallen body with a mute stupor. He was dressed like a ragpicker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather took away and sense of grandeur he might have had. His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked were forever entangled in the mud. They looked at him so long and so closely that Pelayo and Elisenda very soon overcame their surprise and in the end found him familiar. Then they dared speak to him, and he answered in an incomprehensible dialect with a strong sailor’s voice. That was how they skipped over the inconvenience of the wings and quite intelligently concluded that he was a lonely castaway from some foreign ship wrecked by the storm. And yet, they called in a neighbor woman who knew everything about life and death to see him, and all she needed was one look to show them their mistake.
Ugh, this country. UGH. It’s enough to make you want to exile yourself from society. We are so blind, so foolish, so cruel, so disgusting. In many ways, we deserve the terrible fate that’s coming to us. Honestly. If the Noah movie does anything right, it’s pointing out how repugnant mankind has been to nature.
This story in the Washington Post points to a horrifying practice of dropping live chickens into “the scalder.” I can think of many politicians I’d like to do that to but innocent chickens? No.
Two animal welfare groups and dozens of lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to improve humane treatment of poultry at slaughterhouses, citing statistics that show hundreds of thousands of chickens being accidentally dropped alive into scalding tanks every year.
The Animal Welfare Institute and Farm Sanctuary have petitioned the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service to strengthen humane treatment regulations, by, among other things, banning live birds from the scalding tanks. When things go according to plan, birds are already dead by the time they’re dropped into the tank, but a small percentage miss the automatic knife that is supposed to slit their necks and wind up dying in the tank.
Birds that die by means other than slaughter are called “cadavers” and not allowed to enter the food supply. Last year, FSIS records show, there were roughly 680,000 cadavers, down from around 730,000 the year before. FSIS officials say the majority of cadavers are birds that have been dropped into scalding tanks alive.
“Dying other than by slaughter causes tremendous suffering to how ever many birds are subjected to this treatment,” said Dena M. Jones, the Animal Welfare Institute’s farm animal program manager.
Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, said there’s an economic — as well as ethical — incentive to reduce the number of cadavers. He said that when birds miss the automatic knife, an employee is used as backup to keep live birds out of the scalder.
Rep. James Moran, a Virginia Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, said he thought the number of chickens “boiled alive” in the U.S. was significant.
“You either feel for other living species, or you don’t,” said Moran, who signed the letter to Vilsack. “And a lot of people simply don’t.”
Virginia is 12th in the nation, according to the National Chicken Council.
The animal welfare groups’ petition also says that birds aren’t always properly stunned, which is supposed to make them insensible to pain before slaughter; and that many birds suffer broken or dislocated bones when they are shackled for slaughter.
Super said that his group issued new guidelines last month requiring stunning to be more effective, with a goal of at least 99 percent of birds effectively stunned and insensible to pain, and corrective action required when it falls below 98 percent. And he said companies must have a monitoring program for wing and leg injuries, and retraining of employees when standards are exceeded.
Derfler, of the FSIS, said the agency works under existing law to ensure humane treatment of chickens, relying on the Poultry Products Inspection Act, which condemns adulterated products, including birds that die by means other than slaughter.
“Under our regulations, right now, if live birds go into the scald tank, we do think that’s a prohibited act, under the Poultry Products Inspection Act,” Derfler said. “And we’d take action, because the animals would be dying other than by slaughter — they’d be drowning, and not slaughtered in a humane way.”
Temple Grandin, a noted professor with autism whose life’s work understanding livestock was the subject of an HBO movie, said birds entering the scalder alive used to be a bigger problem than it is today.
“You shouldn’t have live birds going in the scalder,” she said. “You’ve got really good system — you’re not going to have live birds going in the scalder.”
While I was pumping away on the treadmill the other day it occurred to me that I treat my body, or have treated it for the past 49 years, like each part was imprisoned for having committing various crimes throughout my life. Why did I do this to myself for so long? I do not know. Why did I ever spend a single minute hating or punishing any part of my magnificent, working, youthful body? I have no idea now as I ponder these nearly five decades I’ve been alive. I vowed then and there to treat kindly these bones, limbs and skin for the rest of what’s left. I felt sad that I had bought into the brainwashing by corporations meant to make us buy things. I felt equally sad that I had to echo womany mantras in order to reshape my own thoughts. I am a self help book now.
My body works. It gets me from one place to another. It puts me to sleep and wakes me up each night. It dutifully digests my food, works through my circulatory system. My poor heart pumps away minute by minute to keep me alive. My lungs help me breathe. My mouth tastes and swallows food. I have hair! I feel lucky to have such a faithful body that works. I know this will not always be the case. To that, here is a love letter.
To my feet: my toes seemed to separate when I was an adolescent from wearing flip-flops, which was all we wore. My feet, so capable now in yoga, taking a beating each time I go jogging. Being stuffed into high heels and various other inappropriate footwear. So ticklish. I love you, feet. You are rad and you work. I apologize for the high heels situation. No excuse for that.
To my legs/thighs: longish, with hyperextended knees – and three vertical scars from when I was riding horseback as a small child. My leg scraped against a chain-linked fence. 48 stitches. My legs pumping away on the treadmill have been through it exercising – jogging, dancing, yoga, ballet, barre workouts, the horrid aerobics, jumping, stretching, lifting, strengthening. For years. And of course, wrapped around various splendid men. What fun we’ve had, eh? I love you, legs. Thanks for everything all of these years. I’m sorry I ever wished you were thinner, longer, not scarred. I’m sorry I ever thought you looked bad in the mirror or hated you for not squeezing into tight jeans.
To my ass: I’ve covered you up for so long that I almost forget you are there sometimes. I sit on you too much, lay on you too much and on the occasion when someone forgets to put down the toilet seat I splash you into questionable water. I wear thongs, which can’t be all that fun. I’ve always wished you were much smaller and more shapely. I remember being a young woman of 22 and advertising a friend’s video store in a bikini (because he asked, and I’d have done anything for him – sadly, he died of AIDS not long after). These two young men drove by checking me out, and drove by again. One leaned to the other one and said “forget it, she has a fat ass.” And we both know that was hardly the truth THEN. 22 years old? I don’t think so. Now that argument could be made quite easily — but i would never, could never wear a bikini at all, much less stand on the sidewalk in one. I wish I had a photo then of my fat ass. I’ve had you spanked on occasion (kind of fun, right?) and in all ways have not appreciated you the way I should. I promise to appreciate your abundance from here on out, and I’ll never tie a sweater around my waste to hide your prominence.
To my stomach: it has been the worst thing in middle age accepting how you’ve changed. I was always proud of having such a thin waist for most of my life. After having a baby that changed. Since then, I’ve had to work at keeping you looking semi-reasonable. But each day I’ve woken up wishing you would be gone. I have always been depressed by too much fat collecting there as I age. But I can punish you no longer, I can punish myself no longer. I am vowing here and now to enjoy you even if you aren’t perfect.
To my breasts: You are the only body part I have loved faithfully these many years. You’ve never let me down and remain astonishingly youthful appearing, even now. Men have always stared, always prejudged. I remember working as a hostess at a restaurant in Marina Del Rey and one customer would come in and comment on the size of my breasts every day because he’d convinced himself that if I drank coffee they would get bigger. “Looks like you’ve been drinking coffee today.” I guess I have to apologize for the uncomfortable bras we’ve been wearing. The Victoria’s Secret bras are particularly uncomfortable but flattering. Perhaps I will gift you with a comfortable bra. Why not.
To my vagina: Oh, my friend, the things we’ve seen. The torture we’ve endured. The pleasure. The pain. I had a baby out of you. Was torn and then sewn back up. We have the period every month, even still. I’m really happy that we still work so well in unison. But to that, the libido has been quite the instigator. That libido has gotten us into more trouble than we can count, right? Starting at about 30, when the bio clock clicked into high gear, it’s been a sometimes satisfying but all too often frustrating roller coaster ride. Apologies for the many times we had to fake it. Apologies for the sometimes painful attempts of various acts. I guess all I can say as we hit 49, I’m glad I have you. It’s been lots and lots and lots and LOTS and LOTS of fun.
To my mouth: I promise to indulge you things that will tantalize and delight the tongue.
To my nose: I am so sorry I ever hated having you on my face. I always wished my nose was much smaller and not crooked and not so ethnic looking. I have toyed with getting a nose job for my entire life and if there’s been one body part I’ve been the hardest on it’s been you. I am so happy to have you, even broken down and crooked that you are. I can breath through you. I can smell. I can taste things. This makes me happy. So what if I’m not as pretty as most. There are worse things. I’m just happy everything works.
To my eyes: aging has been tough in this area. The bags underneath my eyes are kind of hard to confront and I know it’s only going to get worse from here. Every other wrinkle I can stand – but the bags…does this mean I will have to do plastic surgery at some point and look like Kenny Rogers? I don’t know. I hope not. I love you, eyes. I love having eyes that work. Thanks for helping me to see all of these years – and to have such great peripheral vision.
To my neck: Yeah, I know. It’s an aging thing. It shows there. I have always loved the shape of my neck, though. I will learn to love how you change and age, I promise.
To my heart: I have been the hardest and roughest on you. All of those painful breakups. All of that heartache. Oh, heart. You suffer the consequences of me and the breasts and vagina combo have wrought. Look at the trouble we get in and you, heart, you have to pay the price. I am exercising to help ease the pain. I am napping. I am doing yoga and breathing. I am seeking out joy. And yes, I am going to be CAREFUL where I next invest your time. I will try not to entrust your well being with someone who is destined to fuck it all up. Easier said than done, but you know. I love having you. I love that we feel so deeply, so passionately, that we love things — art, movies, nature, people with such intensity. You are my favorite organ because of that. You make me moody, sensitive, sensuous. I love how free you are with love. I am sorry that we’ve been through TOO MUCH PAIN together.
We are here together, body. Thank you for getting me this far. Thank you. Thank you.
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