Been There, Done That

commentary on many different thoughts

Month: March, 2014

Birthday Greetings

The one on the left attains “mature” adult status today! (the rest of us are still working on it.) Happy Birthday Sister Dear.

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And my best buddy’s birthday today too. Miss ya, Mosey.

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Competition Up-Date

We started the dance season at the St. Louis Star Ball last weekend, and what a start to the season! One of ours won the A division bronze smooth scholarship and the silver standard scholarship – and she was first in all dances in both sections! (A division is ages 18-35, FYI).

Another student fought a tough fight in the Open championship C division and finished 3rd in a big field.

As for me, Jari and I took second in the waltz (first time noting some real improvement – this has always been my weakest dance!) third in tango (I made an embarrassing mistake right in front (of course) the judges), third in foxtrot and quickstep, and we WON the Viennese waltz in both the closed and open categories, against decent competition! And then of course I muffed up the all-around. Life is like that.

But a good start for the year. Photos coming when they can be wrested from the developers!

News Flash

Fascinating “trending” piece appeared on my Facebook homepage. “Jenny McCarthy criticized for vaccination comments on Twitter”. Yippee. Who cares what a brainless actress has to say on a subject about which she knows nothing? McCarthy is famous for being famous. And for having a body that looks cool in almost no clothing (a talent – her only talent – which she showed to advantage on her brief stint (she got voted off almost immediately) on Dancing with the Stars).

According to my-sister-the-p.a., many more kids are harmed by parents who refuse to vaccinate than kids are harmed by reactions to vaccine. The resurgence of measles and polio in places where parents have been badly misinformed is scary. The Red Cross reports that many potential donors decide not to donate on the strength of the street-rumor that you can get AIDS by donating. My buddies at the CDC here in Atlanta tear their collective locks every time one of these rumors starts up again.

Back to Buffalo – NOT

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Pam Kimmel and Special Event (what a mare!). Pam wanted to do a two-star three-day, so Tracey and I agreed to come help. The event was in Buffalo, Texas. Where, you might ask, is Buffalo, Texas? It’s 135 miles SE of Dallas. 135 miles NE of Houston. 80 miles due east (with cause) of Waco. One stop on the interstate. Sneeze and you miss it.

After driving for what seemed like forever, we finally found the grounds. And got a couple of pointers from the locals. “See those white sandy mounds? Don’t let the horses near them or kick them – fire ant hills.” “See the woods? Don’t walk little dogs there at twilight – the wild pigs will attack them.” “See those (very long-handled) brooms by each cross country jump? Those are to sweep the rattlesnakes off the jumps – they like to sun on the wood.” “Oh and by the way, when you walk the cross country course, stay on the track and stomp heavily and the snakes will leave you alone.”

During the steeplechase phase, we noted flocks of vultures circling overhead over the steeplechase course.

A bobcat ran in front of our car on the way (in pitch black) to the exhibitors’ party which was held in the middle of the bull pasture ….

On Sunday morning as we were getting ready for the jog, a backhoe ran over and severed the water main and we had to dip drinking and wash water for the horses out of the nearby pond. After, yes AFTER, we had done this, an announcement came over the loud-speaker system to warn us that there were cottonmouths (water moccasins to Easterners) in the pond and to be careful

At that point, this city mouse swore never again to return to Buffalo, Texas.

Vernal Equinox

It’s SPRING!!!!

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Celebrations Two

Another important and much overlooked anniversary occurs this year. It is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”. If you haven’t yet read it, do so at once. And be prepared to have your blood pressure skyrocket.

Written as a diatribe against the dumbing-down of the American girl in the 50s and 60s, it is also a surprisingly contemporary account of mass media’s attitudes and advertising campaigns against women. This hasn’t changed in the 50 years since the publication of the book.

Ms Friedan mentioned the death of single-sex women’s colleges starting back in the 50s, as media targetted women as unfit for higher education (sounds like back in the late 1800s, when it was a bitter fight to compel Oxford to grant degrees to women), and the financial advisors of those colleges claimed that they should open their doors to men to increase revenue.

The alumnae of my own college fought that fight bitterly. Half a dozen times in the sixties and seventies, the Board of Trustees resolved to go co-ed. The Alumnae Association informed them that charitable giving would be cut off if that happened. We informed the Board over and over again that even though we were a women’s college, in every single instance when a male was present in the class (either a sleep-over guest attending with a girlfriend or an exchange student from across town) the professor (male, female or undetermined, it didn’t matter) taught to the male student, ignoring the 30 or so paying female students in the classroom. It didn’t matter what the subject, and it wasn’t an isolated instance. There were no exceptions, and we told the Board that this would seriously affect the college’s mission: for WOMEN of promise.

Then in 1986 (a year that will live in infamy) the Board unilaterly decided to start admitting men. We alumnae only found out about this after the fact – when an enterprising reporter leaked the news. Alumnae giving promptly dropped by 75%.

The last straw was in 1991, when the Board commissioned a very, very expensive survey to discover the effects of coeducation. They (wonder of wonders) discovered that all (every one) of the female students interviewed stated that professors in their classes paid much more attention to male students than female students. And they spent seven figures on a study to confirm what we had been telling them for decades.

Recently, studies also show that this particular college is not attracting the quality of student that it used to. And why should it? When it was a single-sex school, it attracted the brains who needed a chance to develop in this kind of atmosphere. The environment encouraged women to think for themselves, to blossom. It was academically fierce and highly competitive. When men were admitted, the college lost the cachet it once had and became simply a small liberal arts college.

And we are surprised why?

Celebrations Too

This year, we (celebrate is the wrong word) commemorate the beginning of the war to end wars. World War I. And yes, for those of you who slept through history class, those were President Woodrow Wilson’s exact words when, in 1917, he authorized our soldiers sent to Europe to help end the conflict that had been raging for almost 3 years by that time. And no, we Americans didn’t win the war for the Allies single-handedly (again, in spite of what you might have learned in history class). It did help that we were fresh and much better-equipped.

Anyway, WWI blew up when a driver failed to ask directions. The driver who was to see Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife safely back to the train station in Sarajevo got lost. So did the terrorist who was supposed to blow them up. The terrorist wandered aimlessly around town, until suddenly the open car carrying the Austrian heir took a wrong turn into the street directly in front of him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Easter trivia

The Christian holiday of Easter (the celebration of the Resurrection) occurs contemporaneously (ooh that word!) with the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Muslim holiday of (I can’t spell it). It also coincides with the Druidic and Egyptian spring fertility ceremonies centered around the vernal equinox. Easter is a moveable feast, one of the few in the Christian calendar that is not on a fixed date. For reason, see above.

Anyway, Easter is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the 21st of March (the vernal equinox). It can therefore fall as early as March 22nd (assuming a full moon on the 21st and Sunday the 22nd) and it can fall as late as the end of April (I’m not going to get into those calculations). In any event, it’s the celebration of the coming of the light, the greening of the earth and (hopefully) the coming of warmer weather.

In Georgia, we also celebrate the coming of Pollen Season, where everything turns bright yellow.

Celebrations

Official Saint Patrick’s Day tribute. I was stunned to learn, while living in Ireland, that the real Irish think Americans are nuts to celebrate “St Paddy’s Day” with booze and brouhaha. It falls in the middle of Lent, and therefore such riotous assemblies are not encouraged. The Irish honor their saint by going to church.

And by the way, yes, there were snakes (big ones) in Ireland before the time of Saint Patrick. Whether he chased them out (to England? that’s a trick because most land snakes can’t swim, and most snakes can’t survive in salt water) or whether some disease killed them off, there were no snakes in Ireland until recently (when some idiot let Burmese pythons loose …)

Full Moon Tonight

Hooooooooooooooowl!

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