• San Francisco: A Town Without Pity, A Town for Penguin Love Triangles

    I have been reading all about this panhandling 4-year-old and his mother and had the crummy fortune of seeing them on my way to BART.  I hate being enraged (it’s bad for wrinkles) and there I was, spitting mad that this woman had her 4-year-old out there tugging at our heartstrings, emotionally manipulating even the hardest of us by panhandling.  Don’t do that.  And the trouble is apparently, there is nothing anyone can do to stop this.  People have tried.  The authorities have been contacted but they say they cannot remove a child from a parent unless it can be proven that they are being abused and/or neglected.  And the kid does look clean and healthy.  His mother is clean, healthy and fairly well-dressed for a lady hobo.  I guess making a 4-year-old beg for loose change isn’t considered abuse or something.  I read a follow-up story about some Good Samaritans who took up a collection to buy plane tickets for the family to move back east this past winter.  By April, they were back to begging in San Francisco.  I know that kids think the weirdest things are fun, but this seems to push it a bit too far.  And to think, we were just ranked one of the meanest cities when it comes our handling of the homeless.

    Recently, my grandfather’s brother had to have some kind of emergency surgery.  My grandfather is one of four brothers.  He’s the oldest, and the healthiest.  The other three are always almost dying.  I’m glad I got some kind of tough genes because these tough, grumpy old kooks have been holding on for years.  My dad asked my grandfather why his uncle was in the hospital this time.  “His iris fell out.”  This boggles the mind.  “What do you mean his iris…that’s impossible.  You mean his cornea got detached?”  “No, like I said, his iris fell out.”  On top of having tough genes, evidently, I also come from a long line of freakshows.

    In case you’ve missed the tragic love triangle that’s been playing out at the San Francisco Zoo…I shall regale you with a tale of deception and intrigue.  So, of course, San Francisco has a pair of gay penguins called Harry and Pepper.  Some years back, they just hunkered down and decided to give it a go and make a life for themselves.  They nested together.  Sulky Pepper finally had a companion.  The two were given an egg to care for and apparently were very good and vigilant egg-sitters.  When their chicky was born, the zookeepers said the two were the best dads ever.  Well, fast-forward SIX years.  Their neighbor, a male named Fig, died and left behind a poor floozy widow named Linda.  Linda, suddenly alone and in need of male attention, turned to Harry.  You can imagine how this ends.  Not well for our friend Pepper.  This sudden split caused a lot of drama and heartache and Pepper had to be sent away for a little while.  I realize that humanizing these animals is just plain babyish, weird and maybe just a little lame, but it is pretty amazing too.

    Also amazing:


  • Lone Wolf

    My dad walked past a heap of junk on the street the other day and stopped to check it out.  I guess it looked like it could have been good junk.  Never mind the Ab Roller, the old 45s, or the old Levis, nah…he went straight for a CD called “Relax with…Sounds of the Wolves – Enhanced with Music.”  What the what?  The description on the back reads:

    Imagine yourself walking in the serene and unspoiled

    beauty of the Woods and listening to the sounds of the

    Wolves after a stressful day.  Listen to the symphony of

    nature while you relax and escape into a world of natural

    beauty.  Sounds of the Wolves in enhanced with Strings,

    Bells, Horn Choir, Harp, Woodwind Choir, Piano, Oboe,

    Accordion, Brass Choir, and Flute.

    There is also a note that this is “not subliminal.”  Do we really think that someone might embed some scary subliminal messages in the Wolf songs…something like: “Shoot them all—go on a murderous rampage” or “Shopping at Walmart makes you sexy”?  I just don’t know.  I’m not really sure how brainwashing works, but shoot, if it’s not painful, I might try it to test my mental and emotional fortitude.

    Yesterday I was asked to help feed a baby raccoon and I happily agreed.  “Pick ‘em up by the scruff of his neck – that’s what their mothers do” is what my co-worker told me.  So I did.  And the raccoon let out this ungodly HOWL that froze my dang blood.  Then he went into a seizure which resulted in foaming at the mouth.  In my head I believe I was screaming “RABIES!!!”  My co-worker assured me I had done nothing wrong but we both watched with serious concern as the raccoon gasped for air.  I hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet so this was especially traumatizing.  His breathing eventually evened out and she shoved him back onto my lap and I bottle-fed him.  I fought back tears and then burped the sucker.  This animal charming business ain’t as easy as it looks.

    I recently bought my first-ever item on eBay.  I know right—like welcome to 2003.  But seriously, things like auctions and bidding always kind of wig me out.  I lost my first two book presses (my newest endeavor) to sneaky jerk-ass last-minute bidders, but as they are not necessarily the most in-demand items on the market, I was able to find a handcrafted press fairly easily.  I even set up my own PayPal account.  I told my boyfriend I linked it to my credit card and he told me I’d better just be careful.  A friend of his got really drunk one night and woke up face-down on his computer’s keyboard.  A couple weeks later a large package arrived unexpectedly.  It was full to the brim with every single doll from the movie the Puppet Master.  He’d apparently bought them directly from the creator for a cool $3k.  I like people who make me feel normal.

    I had a phone call yesterday with a union rep who wanted to talk to my boss about maybe representing people in California unions.  He was a chatty-type and since I rarely get to talk to strangers on the phone, and since it was a slow day, we ended up having a very long conversation.  I suspected it might go down an unusual path when he said, “you know, it’s not often that I get to speak to nice young girls…I can’t even get them to look at me.”  Uh-oh.  “Not after my body got crushed.”  Uh-oh.  I laughed sort of uncomfortably and tried to deflect by saying, “Oh, I’m sure you’re exaggerating.”  I know, I know—LAME.  “But, you know what?  I’m glad I did it—I did it for the right reason.”  He was working as a semi truck driver out in Ohio.  It was a rainy day and a woman two cars ahead got spooked and slammed on her brakes.  The busload of school children behind her crashed into her little car and decapitated her.  He swerved to avoid hitting the kids and smashed into a ditch.  The trailer came through his cab and crushed his body to smithereens.  “Hold out your left hand,” he said.  I did.  “Now, hold up just your index finger.”  I did that too.  “That is the one bone in my body that wasn’t broken.”  He lost his wife and his family during the two years it took for him to heal in the hospital.  Still, he had an amazingly upbeat attitude and told me he didn’t want to feel sorry for himself.  I truly admire that, and wish I got to talk to more strangers.