Monday, September 25, 2017

Whores of Yore

This is an article on how horrible syphilis was during Victorian times, and what a threat it posed to sex workers in particular. Warning: if you click on the link, you will see vintage boobies. But the reason I love it is the intro, where the author tries to explain why she is going to use traditional pronouns. I'm sure lots of folks will be offended by it. But it made me laugh. It's how I feel too.

For more fun on this subject from another era, check out Venereal Disease and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

History is fun!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Viewing solar eclipse totality in Perrydale, Oregon, August 21, 2017

Eclipse romance 
Eclipse dork patrol

Earlier this year, I found out that solar eclipse totality would happen in McMinnville, Oregon, just 25 miles away from where I live. That city would get 56 seconds of eclipse totality. I was excited about the solar eclipse already, but I didn't realize that a complete block of the sun would happen so close to where I live. So proposed that we - my husband and I - go down to see it on the day of the event, in parking lot somewhere in the city. We’d leave around 7 a.m., have breakfast somewhere, walk out, see the eclipse, and then leave.

But then the hype kicked in, and ramped up every week, both in terms of how the crowds would be and what totality would look like. I realized I wanted more than a parking lot: I wanted a beautiful place to see the solar eclipse, and I wanted a longer totality. And there was no way we could leave the house at 7.

I saw a partial solar eclipse in July 11, 1991 in Silicon Valley, California. It was one of the worst year of my life, but the eclipse was a highlight, even if I didn’t do any more to celebrate it than stick a pinhole in a paper plate and look at the shadow for a few minutes on the ground outside of the horrible place where I worked.

Partial eclipses are worth observing, but I was reading too many poetic posts from scientists about what totality would be to pass up the opportunity to see it.

Several weeks ago, we road our motorcycles through the backroads Northwest of Salem. We had been to Falls City last year, and had a look again to consider its candidacy for eclipse viewing, but I thought there were too many trees. We were afraid Dallas or Rickreal would be a zoo of traffic, that we would not be able to get even close to either town unless we camped the day before. As we went back to our home in Washington, County, we passed through tiny Perrydale, and I had an epiphany: Perrydale, Oregon would be the perfect place to view the eclipse. It had open skies, nothing to obstruct the view of the eclipse, and there was plenty of parking. Back home, I looked up totality for the city on the NASA eclipse web site, and found that totality in Perrydale was predicted to be 1 minute 43.3 seconds - 47 seconds longer than McMinnville. Perrydale is 50 miles away from where we live. Dallas would give us an additional 13 seconds of totality, but, again, I was afraid it would be a parking lot before we could get near the town, even leaving in the wee hours of the morning.

Of course, we could have gone to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, my home state, and get more than two minutes of totality...

Beloved friends from California asked if they could drive up and join us, and we said yes, absolutely! It was actually my friend’s 87 year old mother’s idea - she came too, of course.

The night before the eclipse, we all were in bed (not the same bed) by 10 p.m., and I pushed everyone out the door so we could be on the road by 4 a.m. Because there would be HOARDS OF PEOPLE and we had to be ready for the tremendous traffic jam that, no doubt, would already be on state highway 47 heading to Gaston!

There was no traffic jam. There was no traffic at all, not even on 47. I pulled over in Yamhill and consulted with Stefan: based on the lack of anyone, we decided we’d dare to travel through McMinnville after all on our way to Perrydale. We continued on to Carlton, our motorcycles and our guests' car barely missing a live, confused possum in the road, and we turned on to 99... and there was still no traffic. None. I turned into a gas station in McMinnville to ask my traveling party if, indeed, the eclipse was today.

We continued on to tiny Perrydale. There are no businesses in Perrydale, just a tiny elementary school, a small high school (they are right next to each other), and a church. The grandstands for the school football field could hold maybe 60 people. The town doesn’t have a post office. A blog from 2013 found by a member of my traveling party is entitled “Perrydale, Oregon – Not quite a Ghost Town” and says the town has 60 residents.

After some exploration, we decided to park and set up in the school parking lot, next to a Baptist Church. It was cold outside, though far from freezing. As daylight set in, one of our party, Russell, my former sensei, walked around the school and came back with the best news we’d had all morning: the men’s restroom next to the athletic fields was open, clean, had toilet paper and had hand soap. Bathroom access had been my biggest worry about choosing this site. I almost did my happy dance, but decided to spare everyone.

We set up our camping chairs to face out to the sunrise, giving us a view of a large farm field and anyone traveling through town on Amity-Dallas Road. Another view of our view.

I felt like I was an idiot for making everyone get out of my house before 4 a.m. I kept apologizing. And I remained scared someone would come up out of no where and announce we had to move.

We had gotten there just after 5 a.m. After sun rise, Stefan set up the telescope. Once it was truly daytime, Russell said I should do a “ditch check” to see if the ditch across the road before the field was too deep to cross - we’d been planning to cross the street and sit in the field if traffic got too thick. So I went over, had a check, and when I turned around to look back at our little set up, I also looked back down the road we’d come, and saw a neon sign: open. On a coffee hut. COFFEE!! We’d brought coffee but, hey, coffee hut coffee?!? I’m there! So much for my comment that Perrydale doesn't have any businesses...

Gail (Russell’s wife) and I walked down and saw a field of campers across from the coffee hut. So, we’re *not* alone… we’d brought coffee, but I didn’t have a big enough thermos to take more than enough for each of us to have one cup - and I mean a cup, not a big mug. I was SO happy to have good coffee!!

Later, we sat in our camping chairs, all looking at the sunrise and the field. I said, “This is unbelievable: no traffic, a great viewing spot that has a clean bathroom with toilet paper, there’s not a cloud in the sky, there’s no smoke in the sky - this is AWESOME!” To which Russell replied, “Hey, isn’t that a professional massage therapist parachuting out of the sky and landing in the field right across from us?” To which Gail replied, “And doesn’t he also have wine, both red and white?”

It was a great morning. The four hours we sat there before the eclipse went SO FAST. We talked, we laughed, we ate coffee cake, we spied on a farmer working far in the distance… well into the morning, other people finally started showing up. One person told us that there was a traffic jam in McMinnville, mostly for the air and space museum there, when he had come through at 5:45 a.m. We easily could have still left our house 90 minutes, even two hours later, and made it to Perrydale in plenty of time for the eclipse. And I would have LOVED that extra two hours of sleep…

We contemplated movies and TV shows that feature an eclipse: LadyhawkA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtMadMen and Heroes. The suggestion of Day of the Triffods was withdrawn when I remembered that was a meteor shower, not an eclipse. And we though of songs featuring astronomical references: the obivous one everyone has been referring to, Total Eclipse of the Heart, as well as Bad Moon Rising, Black Hole Sun, and Invisible Sun.

I talked Stefan into giving away his extra pair of eclipse glasses (I think he wanted to sell them) and, just after 9, the eclipse began. We looked at it with our glasses, we looked at it via the projection from the viewer on Stefan’s telescope, I made jokes about the progress:

“Now, it looks like the sun is wearing a top hat and we can only see the bottom.”

“Now, it’s Pac Man, and he’s singing, ‘Woooooooo’”

“Now, Pac Man is singing ‘Ooooooooooo!’”

Telescope eclipse projectionPeople gathered around Stefan's telescope and took photos of the projection onto a paper plate and onto a gray matte board that some other group had brought. Other than the solar eclipse, he was a very popular photographic target as well.

There was now a sizable group in the parking lot with us, though nothing overwhelming at all, and everyone was super friendly.

I ate some chicken and potato salad and started thinking about totality. As one does. What would it really be like? Several people on the March for Science Facebook group said it was absolutely not to be missed, that it would be absolutely stunning. One guy said it was safe to take your glasses off during totality - it was mandatory, in fact. It would get so dark street lights would come on, and birds might stop singing. Stars would appear.

After 10 a.m, we all began to get anxious. Totality was coming! It was getting dimmer all around us, like sunset, except, the sun was right there above us, like always. Without the glasses, if you were foolish enough to look at the sun, you would have just seen a big light blob, like always. That's what ancient man, or medieval man, would have seen - the sun, as normal. Unless they understood the images they might be seeing on shadows cast by the trees, they wouldn't have known that an eclipse was happening, only that things were getting darker, and cooler. Gail put on a sweater. I kept commenting on how it looked like night was coming. We would look up at the sun, always with glasses, every 2-3 minutes, waiting to see how close we were getting, and watching things get grayer.

At 10:15 a.m., we were just two minutes away, and all eyes, behind eclipse glasses, were looking up. At 10:17, the last yellow sun beam disappeared behind the black moon, stars appeared, Stefan yelled, "Take off your glasses!", and I did, and I looked up and saw one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Stars really did come out around the sun and moon. Night was descending. The sky was a million shades of dark gray and blue. The moment the last yellow sun beam disappeared behind the black moon, I saw pink beads within the corona, and long white, fuzzy glares coming out of the top and bottom of the sun behind the absolute black dot of the moon - but not in any symmetrical way. There was no yellow, just black and white and gray and pink and some blue. As Gail put it later on Facebook, "Totality Whoo hooo. We got a diamond!" I kept yelling "I can't believe this! This is amazing!" I was yelling, wooting, jumping up and down. When a yellow sun beamed appeared, glasses went back on, and day broke again, for a second time in just a few hours. We all clapped. I realized I was crying. Many of us hugged each other. We were astounded.

I found out later that the pink beads interrupting the corona of the sun come from the mountains on the moon. Yes, the mountains on the moon. When Galileo pointed out that the moon is an imperfect sphere, marked by mountains and valleys, he was imprisoned because of outrage by the Roman Catholic Church. I thought about all those early astronomers over thousands of year, trying to figure out the weather based on observing the heavens, how their observations lead them to uncover facts about the universe that were sometimes celebrated, sometimes derided. I also thought about the first humans that saw totality and how must have shuddered in terror, not understanding what was happening.

Science got us here, to this point of celebrating what physicist Michio Kaku called a cosmic coincidence, the fortuity that the moon is just the perfect size and the sun is just the perfect size and the moon and the sun and the Earth are all just the right distance from each other such that we get this eclipse that shows the sun's corona. Science predicted this eclipse, down to the second, for different parts of the world - not some preacher or physic. And they've been predicting them accurately for hundreds of years using science.

NASA asked on its web site, "What was your experience? How did you feel? Let us know what the eclipse meant to you in 6 words." And they asked, if you shared it on Twitter, to tag your comment with #Eclipsein6. Here are my tweets:

I felt connected to ancient astronomers. 

Saw pink beads around the moon. 

Cried at the beauty. Celebrated science. 

Said repeatedly, "I can't believe this!" 

Yelled "Everyone, take your clothes off!" 

Yes, really. All that. The "get nekkid" comment drew a LOT of laughs...

Cars started heading past us just after our celebrations of totality. Stefan went back to telescope projections. I went back to my glasses. We also waved at the now steady stream of cars going passed us. We ate some more, talked about how we would all get back to our homes. My guests would be leaving to head South straight from where we were. We would be going in the opposite direction.

Gail started checking GoogleMaps and started seeing traffic jams everywhere. We weren't seeing a jam, but there sure were a lot of cars going by... We dawdled, hoping that we were letting the worst of the traffic get to wherever it was going. We were almost the last to leave our site, at about 12:15. Stefan decided it would be best that we go 77 miles out of our way, back through Sheridan and Willamenia, up into the mountains via oh-so-curvey Gilbert Creek Road, over onto NW Bald Mountain Road, down to Nestucca Road and back to Carlton. We preferred to take an extra 90 minutes of riding to just sitting in traffic in the hot sun in McMinnville. We had to make a left onto 18, and I gasped when we got to the intersection: it was a wall of never-ending traffic coming East on the highway, and some drivers going the opposite direction. And no light at the intersection. And people on the opposite side also wanting to make a left turn, which put us in each other's way. And we had no right of way. Somehow, we got across - I still don't know how. The road up into the mountains was fine, though I was really tired and went slower than I would have liked to. Once we finally made it to Sheridan Peak, a scenic lookout with a large parking lot and a pit toilet that overlooks the valley, I was in dire need of a break. There were two guys there that had camped at the overlook and seen the eclipse, and one of them gave me all the coffee he had left, half a cup. He's my hero. We met some German-speaking bicyclists and dawdled for almost an hour, hoping traffic was getting better.

We got to the intersection for Carlton and there was a MASSIVE, never-ending line of cars waiting to turn into the town. Luckily, it was a four-way stop so we got to go rather quickly. For the next 12 miles, on state highway 12, we went between 5 and 30 miles an hour. The 20 minute drive took well more than an hour. Oh, well, if I had to finally have my solar eclipse traffic jam, I preferred it now, after the event.

We got home at 3:30, and found out that was lucky - that evening, there were still people trying to get home on the clogged roads.

So, that's my eclipse report, in a sea of eclipse reports. What an absolutely amazing experience. So much so that we're already planning for April 2024.

Our photos from the day.

And added bonus: Gail's 87 year old mother, on video, talking about this, her third eclipse.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

trying, stumbling, experiencing - it's all a virtue & it's extraordinary

I've known Marnie Webb for many years, per our association through TechSoup. Recently, she posted something to her Facebook profile that I really wanted to share on my blog. I asked Marnie if I could, and she said yes, and that it was fine to use her name. What Marnie doesn't know - but will know now - is that I cried when I read this. Because I know exactly how she feels. Exactly. It's why I started a travel section on my web site. Enjoy:

You know, in all seriousness, I spent most of my life terrified of flying. Like. Well. I'll spare you. Terrified. I got through it (I hesitate to say I'm over it because it can hit me terribly in unexpected moments) because I had to. I had to do my job and earn money and that meant, for the job I have, getting on a plane. For the job I want to have.

And then when I learned how to manage that, I replaced it with other fears. Getting lost. Dealing with languages. Stepping over some cultural line.

I would not have guessed, five years ago even two years ago, that I would be a person who has a long layover in a city and leaves the airport to explore. Who takes the public metro. Who changes currency. Who wanders confident they can get back to the airport. But here I am.

I post pictures of places that are spectacular. Rio. And this week Copenhagen and today Lisbon. I go to US cities that stun me, including a small one in northern Mississippi and big ones on the east coast. I eat dinner at restaurants, rather than getting room service, and talk to strangers. Today, in Lisbon I was resolute in practicing my faulty Brazilian Portuguese.

This change hinges on one thing: the idea that it is okay not to be perfect. That trying is a virtue in and of itself.

More than anything, I learned this from running. The slow build up to the day that I ran 13 miles because it was on my calendar to run 13 miles that day. The good days running and the bad. The injuries. All the times The Spawn slow rode her bicycle next to me and cheered me on. And then, bigger and stronger, ran next to me.

Anyway. I'm kind of marveling at it today. Perhaps because I just did something I didn't have to do -- left the airport for a little sightseeing on a long layover -- and I feel like it gave more than it cost. I wandered a city for a few hours and got on a train back to the airport. I made a mistake on buying a ticket on the metro and a stranger helped -- not different than I would do in San Francisco but something I never expected.

I sat on the steps next to the water and watched boats and people. I got a coffee and a little breakfast. I bought things for my family.

These seem small, you know. They seem ordinary. And they are. And today, to me, that seems so extraordinary.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Tony Awards, Star Wars, & Finally Seeing a Musical I Should Have Long Ago

Finally watching the 2017 Tony Awards. Wonderful show, as usual - always the best awards show on TV. In addition to all the great numbers and Kevin Spacey as host, I was thrilled to see Mark Hamill on the show. Near the start of my Star Wars insanity, I followed every single thing the three main actors in the movies were doing, and that means knowing that Mark Hamill played the lead in The Elephant Man and Mozart in Amadeus on Broadway and won a Drama Desk nomination for his role in Harrigan 'N Hart off-Broadway back in the day. And that Carrie Fisher was in Censored Scenes from King Kong and of Agnes of God on Broadway I couldn't see those shows, living in Western Kentucky, so I would go down to the Henderson County Public Library, and look up photos and reviews of the shows in magazines and a book that came out every year and said who was in what, summarized the plots of the shows, and had photos.

So, when Mark Hamill came out, I cried, both because I knew he was about to somehow make a referral to our favorite Princess, and because via Star Wars, my dreams of Broadway were further cultivated.

One of the people who passed away that was listed in the tribute section was Gordon Davidson. I drove Gordon Davidson in my truck once. I drove him from the San Francisco airport to San Jose, so he could see a production of Holly Near's one woman show at the theater where I worked. We had a delightful conversation - I'd worked with his daughter at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Later, the company manager said I'd put him in such a good mood, it laid the groundwork for him to love the show (and he did) and transfer it to La Jolla.

This year, it's the straight plays I'm dying to see on Broadway - except for the revivals of Hello Dolly and Sunset Boulevard, which I would kill to see, and Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, which looks and sounds fantastic. Indecent, Oslo, A Dolls' House, Part 2, the revivals of The Little Foxes and Present Laughter and The Glass Menagerie.

But that said: I love musicals. And I was reminded of that recently not by the Tony Awards, but by seeing something I've avoided for a long time.

For reasons I’m not sure of, I have avoided seeing Rent. I never saw the play, and when people would put the soundtrack on, I would shut down, leave the room, ask for something else… it just did nothing for me.

More on that in a moment.

The very first musical I ever saw was probably You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Henderson County High School, in 1974 or so. I would have been 8, maybe younger. I think I saw Snow White at the movies after that. If it weren’t for Disney re-releasing that and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Mary Poppins and Song of the South and all their other early musicals, I’m not sure I would have seen any outside of high school productions - there was no cable TV, my little town had no community theatre, and I had no idea at the time that Great Performances on PBS wasn’t just opera.

I admit that I avoided the movie The Sound of Music until my Dad made me watch it. No, really, he pretty much made me watch it. Oh, how I loved it. Probably why I’m such an anti-fascist now… (“You’ll never be one of them…”).

But after that, I was introduced to most musicals via their soundtrack. Living in Western Kentucky, I was far, far from Broadway, and Broadway tours did not come our way. Camelot, Little Shop of Horrors, Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chess, Phantom of the Opera, Into the Woods - I was introduced to all of them and more via their soundtrack. It meant that, when I finally did see those musicals, on film or on stage, I realized I’d gotten some plot points wrong - just listening to the soundtrack means you can’t always know exactly how the story is supposed to be.

As I said, for some reason, just hearing a bit of songs from Rent did nothing for me, so I never saw it when I lived in the USA in the 90s. The film version was probably shown in Cologne when it was released in 2005 and I lived in Germany, but I made no effort to find out. It's been on TV a few times since I moved back, and produced by community theaters here and there, but I never saw them.

Then, a few days ago, I was bored, and Ovation was showing Rent, and so I watched it, and I bawled and squalled and wanted to dance around the room. A pox on me for waiting so long.

I’m really glad I got to first see it as the film, because I got to judge it only based on that, not based on the Broadway show or the tour. I get really tired of the oh-it’s-not-as-good-as-the-Broadway-version crowd.

It’s the same with the movie version of Hair. I freakin’ LOVE that movie. If you saw it staged first, however, you usually don’t like the movie.

I wonder if I’ll feel differently about Hamilton once I finally see it. I think it will have to be a great production of it for me to get it. I’ve seen bits of it and it’s done nothing for me. I’m intrigued when I read about it - but not when I hear a bit of the music. Which is exactly how Rent has been for me all these years. So, someone please send me airfare and a ticket for Hamilton, please?

Other blogs where I have mentioned the Tony Awards:

Alan Rickman

July ups & downs

Post 2010 Birthday Ramble

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Clark Gable & Greer Garson in Adventure (1945)

I've been watching classic movies since before I was in double digits, and just when I think I've seen every great movie before 1950, I get a surprise. This time, it's Adventure, from 1945, with Clark Gable and Greer Garson.

I have actively avoided watching this movie for decades because it was always described as a horrible flop and painful to watch. I knew that it was Gable's first studio movie after World War II, and the ad campaign was "Gable's Back and Garson's Got Him," making me think this was some kind of screwball comedy, which seemed so inappropriate for Gable's first film after the war, and after losing Carole Lombard.

So I watched it at last, on TCM, of course, and I was stunned. It's a poetic, complex, dark drama always flirting with great tragedy. There's no way a 1945 audience would have been ready for these characters, this story or the dialogue, which is often presented more as verse than scripted lines. Watch Gable when he argues with Garson's character, almost to the point of physical blows - I've never seen him not be Clark Gable until this character, until that moment, and I cannot imagine we aren't seeing his grief at his loss of Lombard and what he witnessed during World War II. It's overdue for this film to get the recognition it deserves. Joan Blondell and Thomas Mitchell (you remember him as Uncle Billy in It's A Wonderful Life and Scarlett's father in Gone With the Wind) are outstanding in their supporting characters.

The biggest problem with this movie is its ridiculous title (the book on which it is based is called The Annointed - a much better title).

Here’s how I imagine the marketing meeting for this movie went:

Director: Hey, I made this complex drama about a seafaring man searching for purpose in life, who clashes with a sophisticated, quiet librarian, and they don’t get together until halfway through the movie because they are having heated philosophical arguments about the meaning of life, and by the time they do get together romantically, you’re stunned and also feel like this relationship is completely doomed, and the whole thing almost ends in utter tragedy, and the script is, at times, more poetry than dialogue.

Louis B Mayer: “Gable’s back and Garson’s got him!”

This would be a terrific film on a double bill with The Razor's Edge.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thoughts on yet another white terrorist, this time in Portland, Oregon

A lot of folks are shocked that the terrorist in Portland who murdered two people and sent a third to the hospital was both a Nazi sympathizer and a supporter of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein.

I’m not shocked, probably because I’ve so many tweets from these folks around the 2016 election.

These people that believe in outrageous myths about Jewish people and their religion, but intended to vote for Bernie Sanders, are a strange bunch: they ignore the social issue stands of such candidates - their support for marriage equality, their rhetoric regarding racial justice, etc. - and zero in only, ONLY, on the populist economic message. Working-class white voters love fighters and outsiders, and it’s why you heard from them things like, “Well, I could vote for Trump or Sanders, either way.” Which makes no sense to people who carefully listened to what these two candidates were saying and read their track records, and as a result, saw the clear, obvious differences in these candidates. Trump repeatedly praised Sanders at rallies, because he knew how many of his supporters liked him - Sanders blasted Trump, but that never seemed to be heard by Sanders-or-Trump folks. Sanders-or-Trump folks also globbed on to Bernie’s support for gun ownership and his vote against immigration reform, which he said he did because pro-reform senators are “selling out American workers. In fact, they are selling out our entire country.” Trump-leaning supporters heard in those words “Immigrants are bad!”

The any-outsider-never-a-seasoned-politican crowd draws a diverse crowd, and I'm sorry that it took this incident for people to realize that.

And note that I say all of this as someone who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary.

The murder by this terrorist, this white supremacist, has also brought back a memory:

10 or 11 or 12 years ago, taking a train from where I lived in Sinzig, Germany, my German wasn’t much better than it is now - and that means it was really, really awful. But I knew, from the tone of the voice I heard to my left, that something was wrong. I looked across the aisle and there was a young Muslim woman, in her hijab, and a German man across from her, in his 40s or so, scruffy, maybe a street person, sitting way too far forward on his seat, getting into her personal space, berating her with questions. She was answering softly, or not at all, eyes averted. No one else was watching.

Then I saw his hand go on her knee and I exploded.

I jumped up and yelled some of the few words in German I know, “DU! RAUS!” and in a softer but firm voice, “Fräulein, bitte, hier” pointing the seat across from me. She sheepishly moved across the aisle and sat down where I pointed, while the man stood frozen, not looking at me, staring straight ahead. He was contemplating arguing with me. So I yelled again, “DU! RAUS! JETZ!”

He never looked at me, but he did turn to the aisle and walked down the car, and got out at the next exit.

I was trying not to visibly shake from anger and fear. I couldn’t think of anything to say to that poor woman, so we sat in silence as I glared down the car at the man, making sure he wasn’t coming back. The train car was silent now. None of the other passengers said a word or tried to help. I got off two stops later. I felt bad that I had never spoken to the woman, but I just didn't know what to say. Or how to say it in German.

And even knowing what I know now, you bet your ass I would do it again. I will not stop.

And may I add that I freakin’ stuck that rolling R in “raus!” better than Seargent Schultz ever did.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Three Things I Wish Judge Judy Knew

I really love watching Judge Judy. I do. I can't help myself. Her show comes on four times in the PDX metro area, five days a week, and I often watch all four episodes. It's my shameful little indulgence.

I’ve asked myself why I like the show so much. Part of it is that I would love to be that unfiltered and outspoken and in-control in my job. Wow. Part of it is that I would love to be able to stop lying or unethical people dead in their tracks. Part of it is that I just cannot believe how ethically challenged so many people are, how they will justify not paying a loan back, not taking responsibility for wrecking someone’s car, not returning a deposit to a renter, and on and on.

I like how frank she is about rights you do NOT have when you live with someone as opposed to marrying them - I don't believe she's telling people to get married but, rather, telling them to not "play house" without really understanding what it means, and I so agree with that. I’m also really impressed with how much she emphasizes that fathers have a right to see their children, and that children that don’t see their fathers are at greater risk of poor grades, skipping school, and on and on. I also love learning about the law. I'm fascinated by it. I should have been a lawyer. Or an urban planner... but that's another blog...

Anyway, there are three things I really wish Judge Judy understood, because her misunderstanding of such is actually quite hurtful:
  1. Renters can’t just move when the apartment they are renting goes bad. For instance, here in the Portland, Oregon area, the U.S. Census Bureau places the rental housing vacancy rate at 3.4%, and the rent burden has increased well beyond a third of a household’s income. I just found out that some students at our little community's university are living in campers in various places around town - they cannot find anywhere else. Many - most - people that are renting in the greater PDX metro area, as well as so many other areas of the USA, do not have the option to just “move”, as she often shouts on her show.

  2. She talks about how in her America, an employer should be able to fire anyone at any time for any reason other than something protected by workplace discrimination laws, with no two-weeks or more notice, no severance, etc. Does she really have no idea how hard it is to find a new job, what a job search does to an individual or family in terms of stress and mental health, and the economic consequences of such? At will employment for everyone would put individuals and families at profound economic risk and create work places where everyone walked on egg shells.

  3. She often tells people to look over at a parent in the courtroom and remember that “She’s always going to be your mother” or “He’s always going to be your father.” Yes, that’s true. But no one should be required to carry on a relationship with a toxic person, even if that person is a parent. I’ve watched too many friends waste so much of their lives and become emotionally drained over and over trying to please a parent who will never be pleased, a parent who tears them down over and over. Very often, the best thing a person can do is walk away from toxic parents - and there is absolutely no shame in that at all. None. 
I know it's not just her; millions of people think this way. But I'm stunned at how out-of-touch she is on these three issues.

I have no reason to share this other than I have nothing else to do today...