Stadium Security’s a Peach

Wednesday’s a big day.

Besides being National Pi Day — 3-14, get it? — for this year it’s also #NationalSchoolWalkout. That’s 17 minutes outside of class for students K-12 (likely more the older grades) starting at 10 a.m. in each time zone. The purpose, according to the group Empower (organizer of the anti-hate Women’s Marches), is “to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.” The 17 represents the fatalities of the shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, exactly a month ago, Feb. 14, 2018.

College students generally are not participating, outside of administrators assuring high schoolers that their civil action will not hurt their chances of admission, going by news reports — well, students at two Memphis institutions are an exception. After all, the inspiration came from the teens of the Florida high school. Yet, universities and colleges have been the sites of other senseless massacres. Like elsewhere, political leaders are either slowing these down, doing nothing or seemingly increasing the threat.

Page 1, Sensitive Area Designation Tiddlywinks redacted 031318
Slightly redacted

About a year ago the Arkansas Legislature passed a bill to repeal the ban of weapons on campuses, allowing firearms to be carried hidden by those holding enhanced concealed carry permits. The “enhanced” is part of the 2017 legislation, adding a few hours of active shooting training. It approved another bill continuing a gun ban at athletic events and a few other locations. Collegiate sports have to request the weaponry ban, submitting a form every year to the State Police. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed these into law, and state offices proceeded to policy making, for the finer points of enactment.

The laws got a poke in my column “Play Games at Work So No Guns” where I revealed my campus office happens to double as r’Asadink Tiddlywinks Stadium, Home of University Tabletop Sports. A second column, “‘Winks at Gun Ban Security Plan,” explored my arena’s answers to the points that the facility request form was to ask.

The welcoming yet removeable sign for r'Asadink Stadium
The welcoming yet removeable sign for r’Asadink Stadium

The arena in my office should qualify, according to policy (bold face in original):

“A collegiate athletic event is defined by Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-101(2) as “a sporting or athletic contest, event, or practice of an individual or team of individuals in which one (1) or more individuals or a team of individuals sponsored by, funded by, represented by, or associated with a public or private university, college, or community college competes against themselves or another individual or team of individuals.”

Recently the Arkansas State Police published the “‘Firearm-Sensitive’ Areas Application Information” and the “Security Plan” form. I accepted my own dare, studied the former, completed the latter and emailed it this morning to the ASP senior corporal listed.

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Bad-bad and Bad-good Choices

Insight on waking today: We daily make bad-good decisions and bad-bad decisions.

These are common calls, far milder than “Should I drop out of school” or “Should I marry this person.”

Logo of Tofutti BrandsBinging on chips and dip — make mine vegan if you please — is a bad-good decision. Dwelling on grim news that is more than a couple of steps distant from you is a bad-bad decision.

Wouldn’t sound better to write good-bad not bad-good? Certainly. Both pairs, however, are bad decisions, so “bad” is the primary modifier.

Junk food you can digest your way out of. Well, a few extra pounds might grow on you, but in moderation snacks won’t be what kills you in the end.

Obsessing on grim news outside the closer circles of one’s personal space radiates through the rest of the day like fountain pen ink on Kleenex.

Someone I know well just learned of a tragedy on Facebook. It’s not the closest connection nor a distant one, in the middle, more near than far. It’s a person whose day-to-day life is full of all sorts of lame luck and bad choices, according to their frequent social media posts. More a sad sack than schlemiel. One cringes when one hears in conversation or from posts the latest to befall them.

The bad-bad decision comes from considering the latest catastrophe (not ironic but indeed tragic disaster) longer than a moment. If you reflect or investigate on it further, your whole day, your thoughts and even activities are infected with the gloom of fate.

If you’re not in a position to help, it’s just poisoning yourself.

I realize in drafting this that I have been making a bad-bad choice for 14 1/2 months. Unintentionally infecting myself.

Several times a day I read on reliable news sites the latest chicanery of DJT (pronounced digit) and his administration. I’ve been steaming not just since Inauguration one year six days ago but his election in November 2016, when everything he said and did began to have a calamitous impact on my beloved country. Continue reading

Wholemeal Tomato Soup

My "Wholemeal Tomato Soup"Tomato soup, rather like you remember, can be yours, homemade, vegan and protein-y. Healthy eaters do miss its grown-up convenience and childhood nostalgia flavor and texture. If you read the ingredients and nutrition levels of canned tomato soup, however, you will definitely want an alternative. Even the seemingly better choices of canned soup are pretty salty etc.

For being from scratch, it’s pretty quick, as it’s a pantry dish. To My Beloved and me, it’s real close to that ol’ heat-and-eat flavor but with full confidence in its quality.

“Wholemeal” is a repurposing of the British word for what Americans would call whole grain. Here it means I’ve tucked in healthy amounts of plant protein with little impact on flavor or texture, to make a whole meal, nutritionally.

Healthy red lentils are more orange but when cooked turn yellow.
Red lentils lose color when cooked. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil or salad oil)
  • 1 medium-large onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (about 1/4 can)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 28 oz (large) can tomatoes (crushed, diced or whole), undrained
  • 1-2 teaspoons vegetable broth powder
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (such as Italian blend or tarragon or basil)
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils, check for bad ones or dirt or gravel then rinse OR 1 14-15 oz can cannellini beans, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, to start with

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Solomonic

Shy of a Load

Who to believe, once again. The Washington Post on Dec. 15 reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been instructed to not use seven words (including two two-word phrases) in budget documents. Later CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald partly refuted that, “calling the report ‘a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,'” reported The Boston Globe’s science news site STAT.

That the list comprised seven words instantly reminded the culturally aware among us of late comic George Carlin’s 1972 routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” a classic. (Here’s a not-too-blurry YouTube of the spiel.)

Here is one sentence from the Post’s article, which tracked the policy up to the overseeing Department of Health and Human Services: “In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of ‘science-based’ or ‘evidence-based,’ the suggested phrase is ‘CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,’ the person [an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing] said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.”

A humor writer friend, Paul Lander, made a great post of this, “Quiz.”

Between the news and Paul, I saw this as a writing prompt. If it’s not particularly literary then call it a self-dare. That is, to use all 14 in a single sentence.

Note: It’s awkward for me to use cuss words in writing. Besides, it may offend my 14 readers. Hence asterisks abound.

Overheard at the Voyage of the Beagle Gastropub in Foggy Bottom: “What do you mean, you c*cksucker of ent*tlement, this sh*t stratifies my p*ss and population-sequences my t*ts, and it’s a motherf*cker, too, what that c*nt at HHS told us here at CDC, that the grant for the NIH transg*nder epigenetics project is stalled, though we can do the job right, it’ll be random-sampled, evid*nce-based and transparent thus sc*ence-based, but it won’t matter, it won’t help the f*tuses of today grow toward a distribution of div*rsity tomorrow, that they’re just as v*lnerable as ever — oh, f*ck.”


Speaking of Foggy Bottom, the administration’s recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel kicks any hope of peace into a gully. Early in December, DJT (say digit) proclaimed this presidential edict and today our U.N ambassador, Nikki Haley, endorsed it before the world body, which condemned Trump’s move. Continue reading

Consent Degree

Bullies surround us. Always. All of us, 100 percent. Accept it, you know it’s true, and choose your battles. Making dark jokes helps. Also, they’re not always on the prowl.

Two young antelopes spar or play in front of elephant
Credit: StockSnap

This isn’t about bobcats or coyotes. Although like humans, kitty cats and puppy dogs if the predator instinct remains strong and they’re given the chance play with their prey. Sometimes human bullies feel a need for something their victims have, but often enough it’s more gratuitous. While compulsion is strong, humans have more power of choice than other animals.

This is not to say all of us are victims AND all of us are bullies — maybe just latently cruel or maybe just sometimes. I don’t see that in myself and others. Some people are bullies, and the majority of us have to deal with that.

But 100 percent of us can do ugly things.

Among bullies, some are lifers. Sickos keep at it year after year. Others bully a few times or within a span of a few years — late childhood or early adulthood — then seem to retire from it.

Louis C.K.’s stand-up never has done much for me. The routines (culture, family, relationships) are more provoking than funny. But I relished his sitcom Louie. With overlapping plots and major and minor characters, he covered much of the same ground, with greater impact. Thus, I hope to someday see I Love You, Daddy, his film satire whose release got scuttled with his expose.

The hashtag #metoo has been a digital key this fall inspired by journalism reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual threats by famous or successful people. The victims in these cases often are not typical victims in terms of helplessness but at times ambitious and with early successes in their own right. What these victims have done best is bring the type of bullying that beset them — sexual — to light. Light, air, candor, specifics.

I read in social media the #metoo’s of people I know. If every person could in full confidence post #metoo, it’d be 100 percent. Surely every girl gets the talk from someone: Be careful with men. The threat’s universal. Continue reading