Science Friction

27 04 2016

When I was little, there wasn’t a problem in my world that my mother or father could not fix, not a foe they could not vanquish, not a need they could not meet. One of the harshest lessons of growing up is to discover that they are not gods; they can and do make mistakes and there are some things they can’t repair. For a time, in that “in between,” there might arise another champion – an uncle who is strong and can lift you into the treehouse, a neighbor who bakes fancy birthday cakes – but, soon enough, they are found to also be mere mortals.

I think this might be one reason why some folks are so skeptical about Science.

Science is not perfect.

Science makes mistakes.

Hell, Science ADMITS its mistakes. Science holds up its errors and begs us to correct them.

Science is not perfect.

When we contrast this stark and scary reality with the unprovable promises of a benevolent Universe – well, Mommy! A mysterious and necessarily un-understandable force that surely must be for the ultimate good and requires no empirical proof sounds pretty damn good. We don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of Science, its self-doube, always poking at itself to try to do better.

I get it. Don’t we long for that security of innocence? Wasn’t life simpler when the bogeyman could be chased away by a flashlight sweep under the bed by Dad, when a disappointment could be mitigated with a kiss and a cookie from Mom?

Well, although I understand the charm of it, we can’t go back. There is no superhero; there is life, real life, and we are forced, as adults, to cope with all that entails.

I trust Science. I believe – and there’s a mountain range of evidence – that we are better off because of Science (and its offspring Big Medicine, Big Agriculture, and Big Pharma). This is not a comfortable position, given that there are friends I love who will disagree vehemently, but, based on the peer-reviewed and repeatable-study-gathered data, as one of my favorite fictional theoretical physicist often says, “That’s my spot.”


Right Means No Regret

20 04 2016

When I saw this meme on social media, I was not sure how to react. I was pretty sure my head wanted to explode for more than just the grammar and punctuation issues, though.


After I got over the misplaced commas, creative capitalization, and whatever those two dots and two exclamation points are, I found my brain muttering, “This is just ass-backwards.” (My brain often speaks in the vernacular of my dear old Midwestern dad.)

I have done a lot of things for people who did not appreciate my effort. Sometimes, it was because what I did was not what they needed. Sometimes, it was because they were ungrateful jerks. A lot of times, my feelings were hurt when there was not commendation for my good deed.

Wait. What?

Doing the “right thing” and expecting a reward for it is, on its face, not a right thing. The reward for doing the right thing is that I am the kind of person I want to be. I am true to my good self.

When I think back on the times I did unrequited favors – and being in my 6th decade, there’ve been plenty of instances – I may feel foolish for having allowed a wrong person to be important to me, but I never EVER regret having done the right thing. What I do regret are the times I was unkind, rude, selfish, spiteful. I regret those times when I missed or denied myself doing the right thing.

The meme is wrong. Please don’t be seduced by it just because it’s in black and white and sans serif font.  Trust me; I am old enough to know better, so I do better. If it’s a meme you want, here’s one from me.

thalia 2

Oh, and


Narcissism of the Nicest Variety

13 04 2016

How many times have we heard the term “narcissistic” used to describe a political candidate?  I know I’ve lost count.  There is, without question, one contestant who certainly fits the clinical definition. I would, however, as an avid (understatement) gardener, appreciate it if the media would choose another term.  Referring to the Evil Angry Orange as a narcissist is truly an unfair slight to a beautiful plant.  See for yourself.

narcissus backlit 1

Narcissus ‘Thalia’ – she’s looking toward the sun and I am on my belly, shooting close from the north side, about 6:30 p.m.

thalia 7

The angle of the sun through those iridescent petals was pretty special.


No Apology Necessary

6 04 2016

I walk fast. I get that from my mom. I am not in a hurry; it’s just how I move. This week, at the gym, two different people apologized to me because I had to break stride for them.


First, they have as much right to the real estate in the Y as I do. Second, they were not mindlessly blocking my path; they moved slowly because they could not move fast. They sported old impressive scars and used canes. I think it’s great that they show up and fight for every bit of good health they can claim. I am happy to see them. It is no inconvenience for me to slow down for a moment; it is my privilege. There was no reason for them to apologize.

While we were on vacation, we had a long car ride with a very unhappy toddler. His mother apologized with every wail of her poor inconsolable boy.


She had done nothing to cause the disturbance to others. There was nothing she could do to mitigate her son’s discomfort. We were merely subjected to a decibel level well below that we experience from our earbuds; we simply could not choose the song at that moment. She was tired and harried and doing her best. The little man was the one who was having the hard time. There was no reason for her to apologize.

I used to drum my fingers on my steering wheel and huff and puff and shake my head when someone did not react immediately to the green light or s-l-o-w-e-d d-o-w-n to make a turn. Now, I remind myself that these people are not trying to inconvenience me. Perhaps the person who was not quick to hit the gas when that signal changed was preoccupied with some weighty personal issue. That driver who crawled around the turn might be chauffeuring someone who’s not feeling well or might be experiencing trouble with their car.

I’m pretty darned sure it’s not all about me.

I should just get over my self-important self.

Many of us seem to feel we must apologize for everything that is not perfect in life, whether or not we have any influence in the situation. I suspect it’s because we know we get worked up over perceived slights and inconveniences, so others surely feel that toward us. Shame on us for that!

Since we all do seem to say “Sorry” far too often, here are my personal apology guidelines:

  1. Did you eat that last chocolate chip cookie I was dreaming of all the way home from work?


  1. Did you erase last week’s episode of my favorite show without asking me if I’d seen it yet?


  1. Did you sneak onto my Facebook page and post a snarky comment as me?

Apologize. (unless it was funny and got lots of likes. In that case, High Five!)

If you did not do one of these things – if you were not unkind, dangerous, or mean – no apology necessary.



Feeling a little Meme-ish

30 03 2016

Some days, all you need is a little encouragement . . .  and it took very little encouragement for me to “rework” this lovely sentiment by NY Times bestseller writer, inspirational author H, Jackson Brown, Jr.

I give you the original:

3-30 a

And now, my spin on this pithy prose:

3-30 b
With a fond farewell to March, I hope you have a foolishly delightful start to April!

Down the Rabbit Hole

23 03 2016

Top Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know about the Easter Bunny

10   She’s a girl. “Peter” Cottontail was just a cover from the days when women couldn’t hold important jobs.

9    She’s heavily invested in Cadbury, Jelly-Belly, and Aspen Dental.

8    She has a tattoo of Santa on her butt (can’t handle tequila).

7    Her favorite music is smooth jazz – what, you expected hip hop???

6     She is fabulously wealthy thanks to Trix residuals and that Maybelline test lab lawsuit.

5     Her mother and father were in show business, having recently retired to a hat they won’t be pulled out of.

4    She is a fan of both Beatrix and Harry Potter. Expecto MacGregor.

3    She’s still considering suing that Hefner bastard.

2    Due to multiple instances of stalking and terroristic threats to “Kill the Wabbit,” she has a permanent restraining order against Elmer Fudd.

1     She does not like chocolate bunnies; this in no way makes her white rabbit supremacist.


p.s. And furthermore, it was Cottonstein, not Cottontail. Who else could you get to work every Easter?

The Jury is Out (of its Mind)

16 03 2016

I’m an arty person. I collect things (on my limited budget), I make things, I sell things, and I have served on a number of boards and committees of art and craft organizations, including juries.

When an artisan wants to exhibit in a show or festival, if it’s a good one, the artist must be accepted into the show by a selection committee – a jury.

While there are reasons for juries – curating cohesive exhibitions, mounting interesting and appealing shows, encouraging growth – there is one thing that has no place in the process:

It should NEVER be used as a means for a juror’s self-aggrandizement at the expense of the artist whose work is being reviewed.

Sadly, I have seen this very thing and it has caused me to enter into more than one “spirited discussion” with other jurors. When a process serves to discourage people from making their art, I believe it has overstepped its boundaries.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.     Mark Twain

Not everyone will become a financially or critically successful artist. Not everyone who plays eighteen holes on the weekend will win the Masters, either, but none of their colleagues will criticize them for enjoying playing golf. Those of us who enjoy making things must remember that – it’s good to do something just for the joy of doing it.

As long as we like what we make, we’re doing it right.

This week, I made a pecan pie – it was a work of art and I did not need a jury to confirm.


Sorry for no funnies, this week. This post is in memory of a fine old man who left us a few days ago after a long, happy, spoiled life. Simon, you were a grand guinea pig and we miss you.











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