Reverse Emperor’s New Clothes

I live in New York State.  I am writing this on day 104 of Coronavirus–by which I mean 104 days after New York was “shut down.”  Schools closed. Work places closed. Now many of us are “back” to work, but under different circumstances.

 

Without knowing, at first, exactly how Corona was spread, multiple ways to avoid it were tried: social distancing, disinfection of everything, quarantining both people and objects.  We, as a society, didn’t see this coming, to such an extent that I have a friend who went back to work baffled: they had just installed, before the shutdown, new locks on the doors, which were thumbprint activated.  How would people get in now that no one was supposed to touch anything?

 

And then, there’s mask wearing.  It depresses me to see how angry people get over this. Because, and there is no other way to say this: face coverings are just not effective.  Here’s an interview with Dr. Lisa Brousseau, infectious disease expert:

https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/cloth-masks-are-useless-against-covid-19

 

But don’t just take her word for it, think it through.  IF masks were effective, they would be supplied for us, regulated, and public health nurses would be telling us how to use them.

Masks are simply good luck charms.

Some people say masks are like seat belts. Oh, are they? Are we expected to make our own seat belts, to no specifications, from whatever we have handy?

Some say they are like condoms.  Oh. OK, I suppose. If you use the same one all night and take it off and put it on again whenever you feel like it.

Or maybe like vaccinations.  Again, if we made our serums ourselves and administered them whenever we saw a danger.

Vaccinations, condoms, and seat belts are heavily regulated for safety.

If we had an ample supply of N95 masks and educated people on how to use them properly and enforced this, masks might help.  That is not the situation we have.  We have people wearing scarves on their faces like bandits fully convinced they are being safe.  People sneer that if I don’t wear a mask I am not protecting other people, but the fact is that if I wear a bandana over my nose I have provided no more protection that a bare face.

People complain that their glasses are fogging up and give each other tips on what cleaning product to put on the lenses to keep them from fogging, not remembering that if their glasses are fogging up, their breath has escaped the mask.

We have people wearing masks on their chins. People are putting the same filthy cloth on and off their faces all day.  On top of which, the particles that carry Covid are so small you may as well try to keep a squirrel in or out of your yard with a chain link fence. They may prevent transmission of other diseases, but not Covid.

It is easily googled that masks do not keep out Covid.  It is easily googled that in the pandemic of 1918 people wore masks and that they didn’t help then, either.

If masks were any good at stopping Covid infections, there would be multiple lawsuits against the CDC, since they told us for months masks were not needed.

The one good thing about mask-wearing is that the practice identifies who is and who is not considerate of rules of health, of safety.  I wear a mask in public, because it is a courtesy.  People who are not wearing masks, I have noticed, also do not tend to respect social distancing, and do not follow the little arrows on the floor of grocery stores that tell us which way to walk (so as to keep people from crossing each other’s paths).

Since it is objectively and demonstrably true that masks do not reduce transmission of Covid, why are we being told to wear masks?

Because the situation is so dire we, the people, have to believe that something can be done, and that WE can do it.  Various levels of government have failed to act, have failed to protect us, and need to tamp down on the despair that would result if the public realized how screwed we are, and how much the government that was supposed to protect us has not.

The same people that knew enough to move their investments ahead of the worst (so far) of Covid know masks are not helpful. And these people can also afford to social distance, can do so long after the poor people, the working people, go back in public wearing masks.

 

It is insideous to tell people to wear masks while providing no real masks and providing no specifications or training.  As Covid infections rise among the mask wearers, the ruling class, can blame the poor: oh, they didn’t mask up (in time, properly, whatever).

 

Social distancing works, but our economy couldn’t survive indefinitely in a shutdown. We had to send the masses back to work.  In useless masks.

 

 

 

Feminism killed careers

Some years ago, I heard on NPR that feminism killed teaching.

 

The commentator wasn’t making a complaint. He was observing that in the olden days, the best, brightest women usually became either teachers or, if they had a scientific bent, nurses. As more choices were open to women, the best and brightest chose other careers, so that teachers tended to include the brightest but also included women simply unable to become scientists, engineers, or the like.

 

Similarly, secretarial careers are almost gone.  This result is a combination of feminism, technology, and privacy laws.

Women who were bright, but maybe not as ambitious, as the future teachers became secretaries. Secretarial classes were available at High Schools and Community Colleges. Sometimes the guidance counselor would put young women in secretarial classes just because they were female. We learned to type without looking at the keyboard, to format business letters, to answer the telephone appropriately, to leave messages.

Nowadays everyone is his own secretary.

This tees me off.  The confusion, the time wasted, the lack of professionalism resulting from everybody being his own secretary gives me such a headache.

I received a letter from a major hospital last week, because of tests needed.  It was riddled with spelling errors and the format was downright weird. The person who wrote the letter used a different font every time he wanted to make a point. I’m no fan of Times New Roman, myself, but there is no business letter that needs Papyrus or Jokerman. Ever.

The people who designed Microsoft Word never took secretarial classes, and you can tell by the mistakes Word persists in “correcting” into letters. Reference initials get capitalized. Paragraphs default to incorrect business forms.

Reference initials were the way people who read the letter would know both who the author was and who typed it.

SC/mc

This means that Santa Claus is the author of the letter, but Mrs. Claus typed it.  This was helpful in knowing who was ultimately responsible for the content and the form of the letter.

Because everyone is his own secretary, messages get lost a lot. I’ve been a secretary. It is difficult, exacting work and it takes a specially trained and dedicated person to do it well.  A person who is really good at finishing floors may not be good at office procedures, which is one of the reasons modern America has the cliche of independent contractors never showing up–a secretary keeps a contractor on schedule.  With no secretary, the good floor finisher may not be good at keeping his schedule and that’s why he was not on time, many days in a row.

The reason I am all hot and bothered about loss of secretaries is that I keep missing phone messages to a combination of lack of office skills training, misinterpretation of privacy laws, and mistrust of technology.

At least fifty times now I have had to instruct people to leave messages on my answering machine. What usually happens (and why MUST they be so arrogant?!) is the person sniffs that for privacy law reasons they are not allowed to leave information on a machine.

This is absolutely not true. In my state, if the answering machine message identifies the owner of the machine (Hi, I am Kelly and I can’t get to the phone), private information may be left. It is an unbelievable waste of time for office workers to say, “This is Bay Optical, give us a call . . . ”

Usually, when I explain the law, the next thing the person does is tell me they do not want to cause embarrassment. Well, folks, that ship has sailed. If you say you are calling from the hospital or my lawyer’s office or it even comes up on caller ID, you may as well add that the tests came out normal or the will is done.  That next level of “embarrassment” won’t make a difference.

Caller ID has made it so that people are reluctant to leave phone numbers, thinking, I suppose, that this is superfluous, but caller ID only gives the main number, not the desk you are calling from. Yesterday I had to call the hospital back (the same one with the king of fonts on staff) and it took my fifteen minutes to get to the right person because caller ID only left the main switchboard number and the person left no identifying info in the message.  When I finally got through, and found the right person, she was  miffed when I asked her to leave her name and number next time.

Because of the ubiquitousness of Word, I’ll allow that I will probably never see a really good business letter again, but there is still time to save phone messages.

“This is Jamie from Dr. Frost’s office. I am calling because the test came out normal. If you have questions, the office number is 904 792-3377 and my extension is 4.”

 

Best advice

The best advice I ever got was “If you would be happy, think what you would do for your children, and then do it for yourself.”

 

This only works, of course, if you are physically safe, with enough money for food and shelter plus a bit of discretionary, but that’s another story.

It wasn’t even something someone told me. I read it on one of those inspirational calendars.  But, being an adult, too old to be a ballerina but healthy and with a little extra money, I thought about what I would do for my non existent children, and I went for it.

 

I took voice lessons. I gave recitals, earning money for charities, wearing daring gowns with plunging necklines well into my fifties.  I got my motorcycle license–age 49. Learned to juggle–age 52. This year, 55, I can finally do a proper split.

 

Which brings me to the college cheating scandal, and Lori Loughlin.  It really wasn’t fair, at first, to target her as the symbol of cheating. More men than women cheated, and a man was the ringleader.  Loughlin was just the most famous. Well, she was, and Felicity Huffman, but Huffman said, “You got me, fair and square,” served a week, and went on with life.

Loughlin doubled down that she had done nothing wrong, which is the weirdest thing I have ever seen from someone who not only knew her daughters did not row crew, but encouraged them to lie about it.  Covering for your child is misguided protection, but telling them to lie? Does that ever end well?

 

I became so fascinated that I watched old YouTube vids of Loughlin,  from long before the scandal, talking about her daughters.  Again and again she said that because she and her husband had never gone to college, she wanted her girls to have that opportunity.

 

What?

 

If ever a person could do for herself what  she hoped for her children, it is Loughlin.  She has money.  She can make time.  She could probably even have gotten real-life credits for math courses, since she made a bazillion dollars on her acting and watched her daughter get a career in make up videos.

 

Is it hard to be an adult student? Well, yes. My first Master’s was earned when I was thirty two, and my next I was about fifty.

 

It is hard to be in school when you are going grey.  Yet I feel confident that late life school is easier than late life prison. And there is a good chance that is where Loughlin is headed.

 

I have to conclude that Loughlin didn’t want education for her daughters, but the paper chase. Possibly the connection chase.

 

But she didn’t, doesn’t, really value EDUCATION. Not even at five hundred thousand dollars of it. Education has no value for her at all.

 

Paying for it

I am really tired of paying for the sins of men, and for being isolated in noticing this.

 

When I was in college, a woman told me that men tend to break things when they are angry, and women don’t, because we both know, subconsciously, that whoever breaks it, a woman will clean it up.

 

Terrorist attacks and mass violence are essentially the same as a broken mixing bowl after a tantrum: some woman will clean up.

It’s no secret that men are the perps of mass violence, worldwide, whether the weapon is a gun, a car, a bomb, a knife.

 

The legislation and rules that follow disproportionately inconvenience women.

 

After school shootings, men, men, men, men, men, no laws were enacted specifically regulating the behaviors of men.  However, school “security” increased, and need I remind you which gender is most likely to work at a school? So a man shoots up a place, and women have to show ID, get three levels of security to get into their work, etc etc etc.

 

I recently tried to register for a college class, and my “registration” came back under a married name I used twenty years ago.  When I pointed out the mistake I was told that for security reasons I had to prove my name change.

 

This is such utter bullshit I can barely see.

 

There is no chance a bad guy is going to fraudulently use my identity to take over the world.  However, there are many women who need to start new lives by going back to school, and don’t need the further aggravation of having to fight for the right not to be known under a name they ditched years ago.

 

PS I live in the state of New York.  In NYS, there is no requirement for a court order to change your name.  The only thing you do is start to use it.  The stated policy is such utter nonsense when a college doesn’t even adhere to state law.  But they are not incentivized to change, because a woman in the subservient position of needing to go back to school will jump through any hoops she is asked.  And no one ever questions the stupidity of inconveniencing someone when that someone is a woman.

Back, briefly

In my real-life world, several people have asked why I have not posted lately.

 

Can there be sweeter music to a writer’s ears???

Usually, I spend the day asking my friends to look at my work.

My best friend read 1/3 of the way through my last NaNo novel and politely gave up.

SO thank you to the people who want me to write more.

The reason I have not been blogging is the limited time in every day.  My writing in the non blog world has all been about . . .

Ian Fleming.  Who knows why he resonates with me, but my obsession has finally turned profitable, and now I not only get paid (sometimes) I get fan mail.  FAN MAIL.

If you’d like to join me in my quest for all things Fleming, check out Artistic Licence Renewed, the Literary Bond Site.

 

 

Wishing all bloggers to hear the sweet words, “I’ve missed your work.”

Hurting ourselves in the name of fairness

Slight of hand: Intersectional feminism

 

I’m a woman, a first generation American, a person of mixed race.

 

I am ticked at how women hurt our own cause.

 

Intersectional feminism is basically a good thing; it means that we need to acknowledge women, but also women of color, women with disabilities, women who have challenges other than being a woman.

 

But.

 

Have you noticed other movements don’t do this?

 

Black lives matter tends to focus on black men. You tend not to see, on a black lives matter FB thread, people furious for not saying black people with disabilities matter, or black women matter. It is OK to say black lives matter. It is at once meant to refer to all people who are black, and justifying only depicting black men in news stories.

 

SLATE had an article about the Google antidiversity manifesto. It said in part that while the language of the manifesto was largely from men’s rights groups (MRAs) some of the philosophy was from an “even worse” standpoint, which was White Supremacists.

 

I don’t know why the author said this, but it illustrates perfectly that men, no matter what color, win the advantage war, the media war, the publicity war.

Without any explanation or documentation, the author of the SLATE article just assumed the reader would agree: racism is worse than sexism.

 

Oh. IS it?

 

In a world where a common MSN headline is “women using this instead of pepper spray!” is understood to show that women can always expect to be in danger, the notion of white supremacists somehow being “worse” than men’s rights groups is insane.

 

Women undermine ourselves by pretending somehow that we don’t have it as bad as black men, when black men had their right to vote guaranteed first, had a president that looked like them first, have cars and tools designed to fit people of their build, the list goes on and on.

 

The list goes on for so long that I quantified it. I am still working on making the chart attractive. In a point by point system, the marginalizations any woman faces are so great that a black, gay man with a mobility disability still has it better.

For one thing, he isn’t expected to carry around pepper spray.

 

But on a feminist thread, there will always be a bunch of people not only pointing out, but very hostile about, women not acknowledging women of color, or with other challenges.

 

I might add that I have reason to know what I am talking about. If a person is stupid enough to make a racist joke in my presence and I say, “Hey, I’m not all white, you know,” apologies flow fast. Any time I call out sexism, I know the response will be to tell me I’m a whiny bitch, taking things too seriously, or can’t take a joke.

 

Intersectional feminism should be encouraged and nurtured, without our bringing other women down when we fail. I don’t know yet how to do this, but am working on it.

The shit we endure for being women is bad enough without our hurting ourselves.

My Low Waste Kitchen

My low waste life: The Julienne Tool

 

I had this kinda stupid vegetable peeler. It didn’t work. It made the peels into little strips, about the width of fettuccini.

 

Well, my mother never made julienne potatoes so I didn’t know what the thing was for.

A few years ago, the fad for making veg into pasta started, and I realized I could work the strips into authentic fettuccini for color and texture for some kinds of veg or to just work in more nutrition for others.

 

Briefly, if it is a pale yellow vegetable, such as summer squash, you can sub it in. If it has color, you won’t fool anyone. If you use zucchini you might fool someone, if you peel it first. But of course the peel is nutritious so that is kind of a bad trade off. Just julienne it and throw it in with the pasta.

 

You can either boil julienned veg, or lightly sautee in good oil. Sautee only until a bit soft, do NOT brown, because if you brown the veg they will no longer resemble pasta.

 

But here’s the low-waste part: You can julienne the woody stubs of broccoli and cauliflower. Julienned, they are not woody. And they are delicious.

 

There’s less going into my composter now than there used to be.

 

My Low-Waste Life: Seek out Silk

My low-waste life: Seek Out Silk.

 

Yeah. It’s an indulgence.

And to have silk, you need either time or money.

 

But if you can make the time, the investment is worth it.

Here are some great things about silk: biodegradable. Strong—the strongest natural fiber there is. Holds color nicely. Can be very soft.

 

The bad part is, yeah, it is expensive. And it can be difficult to care for. Woven silk should be ironed (bleah) and/or dry cleaned (nope, this environmentalist tries to avoid that).

I recognize my privilege here: I own a car and can drive to the many consignment shops near me. There are even a few within walking distance of my house. And the proximity of consignment shops, combined with a little knowledge, means I have a closet full of silk shirts which cost me no more than eight dollars each.

The best, as in easiest and most economical, way to buy silk is to look for knitted, not woven, silk.

The modern eye is not trained to recognize a knit, so let me help you. Knits will stretch easily when you pull on them, then regain the original shape. The pattern is one of rows on top of one another, rather than, for a weave, a graph paper pattern.

Oh, and speaking of weaves, satin is a type of weave, not a material, so just because it is satin does not mean it is an investment. Some satins are made of nasty yet unwashable fabric. Be sure it is silk.

You want knitted silk because you don’t have to iron knits. You can just throw them in the washer (cold) (yes, even if the label says dry clean) and dry them on the line or draped over a chair somewhere. (Not over wood, though, make it a metal one. Make sure it is painted metal or it will rust.)

How do you know it is silk? Most articles of clothing, even in consignment shops, will have labels at the collar. If there is not a label at the back of the collar, it may be in the lower left seam, in the inside.

If the label has been cut out, you can still tell silk from rayon, even really good rayon, because silk has a distinctive scent. It takes a while to recognize the smell, so you probably want to buy some labeled silk, get it wet so you detect the smell more easily, and then gradually you will come to recognize it. The scent is vaguely similar to raw clams. But only vaguely, and only VERY noticeable when damp.

Silk also often has a sheen, but these days rayon and fine nylon have a similar sheen, so look for the label and be aware of the scent.

If you get a cotton/silk blend the garment may be a little sturdier than pure silk but it won’t be as soft, and you almost certainly have to iron.

Full woven silk need not be ironed if you hang it when still damp on a good-quality hanger. It won’t look quite as good as if you iron it but will be presentable for work.

Good-to-expensive labels work in silk, so I have L.L. Bean, Anna and Frank, Wintersilks, that sort of thing, all at consignment costs, about 5 to 8 dollars each. Because silk is known to be an investment material the garments are stylistically neutral—at least that’s what I tell myself when I have a fifteen year old silk sweater that looks good as new.

Buy cheap, buy often. Buy silk and you won’t have to replace it for twenty years.

My low-waste kitchen: *&^%! Out of butter

In the 1970s, there was an annoyingly accurate saying, “It takes money to make money.”

It also takes resources to save resources, so while I write about decreasing waste I am highly aware that I am lucky to have a fully equipped kitchen, lots of Tupperware, a good freezer, and cooking theory in my little brain.

When I was a teenager, I remember my mother once lamenting that we were eating leftovers. I said, “It wasn’t too long ago that we couldn’t AFFORD leftovers.”  So at that, we were both grateful.  For a long time we were hungry, then we had JUST ENOUGH food, then we had extra food, and now, as an adult, I have extra food, and usually it is food I actually feel like eating, and more than I need. This still seems miraculous to me, most of the time.

My mother never used margarine. She grew up right after WWII and margarine was, for her, a symbol of food coupons and of rationing and of want. No matter how poor we were, she always made sure we used butter. If she ran out of it, there were substitutes. Just never never the hated margarine.

I am not a nutritionist; how much fat of any kind to consume is between you and your doctor. But if you are out of butter, here’s what you can do:

Baking: Butter provides a luscious kind of moisture, so it can be replaced by something moist—that part is easy to figure out. If you want the luxury of fat, you can sub just about one to one with mayonnaise or sour cream (cream is what butter is made of, in case we forget this). Vegetable oil, being runnier, usually should be in a smaller amount than butter. Olive oil can work but it is costly, so if I were you I’d run out and get some butter.

What about animal fats? If you are the type to save bacon or ham fat, it is usually pretty yummy in baking—especially nowadays when “salted” (chocolate, caramel, whatever) is in vogue. Chicken fat will work but not add as much flavor.

If you are on a low fat diet, you can use a veg or fruit puree for at least part of butter or oil, but it will change the texture. Applesauce, puree of carrot, stewed pumpkin, can all be substituted for butter in baking but it will not fool anyone.

If you are out of butter for bread, that is a good time to break out the olive oil. Plain olive oil is dull—that’s what it is prized for, not adding much flavor—so if you don’t have flavored or specialty olive oil that’s when you get to grind in pepper, garlic, or other seasonings and dab your bread, rather than spreading something on it.

 

Frying: You probably shouldn’t be frying things in butter anyway, because it burns too easily, but you knew that, right?  If you are sauteeing and are low on butter, you can actually work in some water after the butter has melted. You must move the food around quickly if you choose to do this, but it is a lower fat way to sautee.

There are times you can cook with mayonnaise; it makes great grilled cheese. I rarely do this, though. It tastes great but it feels odd to me.

 

 

I have to laugh but I just realized: I am out of butter.