Use your words

If you’re a linear thinker, you might want to skip this one. You’ve been warned.

It wasn’t my best pandemic day. Every time I told myself I should eat I poured another cup of coffee. That worked for Hunter S. Thompson. Not advisable for the rest of us.

The cupboards are bare. Seriously bare. I have some green veggie powder thingmajig, an odd assortment of spices, a tin of corned beef I bought 4 months ago because I’m obsessed with tinned foods but don’t eat much meat, some quinoa, and a container of minced garlic that I no longer really trust. And no longer like. Garlic is a treasure, embrace the pain in the assedness of the clove.

Whenever I see the word quinoa I think it’d be funny to see a skit of Mispronouncing Person. Oh that looks good, what is it? Ahh just a little kwenoa salad I mixed up, chucked in some zoocheenee. Not to worry, I am not launching my standup comedy tour…not anytime soon, at least. There’s a pandemic people. I’m just going to stream it for now.

The stomach is a stubborn son of a gun and has a way of overcoming indolence. I foraged. I hunted and gathered. In the direction of Pike/Pine.

There was a person playing piano at 11th and Pine. My spirits were lifted. The fickle Olympians have deemed that I was to have a good day. Loki decided to claim some Norse jurisdiction. A driver stopped, got out of his car, and started screaming at a bicyclist on the sidewalk. I’m not sure what prompted the exchange. The driver was livid. I also got the impression he was drunk or redirecting pain from somewhere else. The biker patiently tried to de-escalate and endured the screaming of an unmasked man. The driver physically attacked the biker, and he didn’t retaliate. The driver eventually left.

I walked over to Pike and heard loud voices. I could see pedestrians stopped, looking east. The State Department was always very good about teaching new FSOs to trust their instincts and get to know what normal looks like. If something suddenly strikes you as not normal, start thinking about exits.

Two police officers were talking to a man sitting on the ground. He wasn’t happy to be there, and he wasn’t happy with the police. Another person was taking video of the interaction. I couldn’t figure out their role in the situation. I think it ended quietly.

The heat and the pandemic have people on edge. You can feel it. In my peer reviewed scientific listening from my window, honking has increased. Longer honks. When the study comes out in Nature I’ll update this post with the link.

My neighbors C&L moved about a month ago. I barely knew them, but I miss them. They bought a house. It’s a difficult time to celebrate things going well (I should revisit my awesome PR strategies posts that could easily be a great side gig), but they have nothing to apologize for. I’m not sure what C did, but damn, L worked from dawn till dark. Some jobs are well-suited for Remote Cubicle, but you still have to do the work, and L did. I’d work for L.

I think there’s great potential for exploring looking for home right now. I’m biased, of course, because it’s one of those things I think about all the time. Where is it, how do we choose it. The search is amplified during the pandemic. I think I just heard a gunshot. I hope not. If you’re working from home, and that’s not likely to change for a while, it makes a lot of sense to swap a $2k apartment/lease/mortgage for a $1k alternative. I’ve never been great at math, so pull out your calculator before you blame my obscure blog for your financial ruin.

This blog celebrates scientific inquiry, though, so I can back that observation up with empirical evidence. I’ve noticed a lot of moving vans in the neighborhood recently. In the interests of scientific expediency, I haven’t checked any data over time relating to moves. Fact-checking is for PBS. Losers. People have always migrated during pandemics, since the universe’s birth 4,000 years ago. It was Herodotus’s profitable stake in a moving company that helped him fund his pursuit of history.

I love Herodotus. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s not because of his works. I tried to read him, and I may have even read the book I bought in its entirety, but I struggled with it. It’s the idea of Herodotus, as portrayed in The English Patient, that I loved. Count Something or Other in Egypt on an archaeological exploration in search of the Cave of the Swimmers, just before WWII, falling madly in love with Kristin Scott Thomas. Swoon. FWIW she stole the show in Four Weddings and a Funeral. If you disagree, I refer you back to previous paragraphs here, which suggest you hate science. Repent.

Count Such and Such, leather bound copy of Herodotus. Scythians and Amazons. Which led me to Google Was Wonder Woman a Scythian? It’s fun to Google sometimes.

The Real Amazons ~ Joshua Rothman

Here’s a story, told by Herodotus, about the fierce female warriors known as Amazons. Many thousands of years ago, a group of Greek raiders ventured into what is now northern Turkey. Travelling across the steppe, they came across a group of warrior women. The Greeks kidnapped them, locked them in the holds of their ships, and set sail for home. But the Amazons escaped. They recovered their weapons and killed their captors. Because they were horsewomen, and didn’t know how to sail, the ships drifted far off course. Eventually, though, they landed in the Crimea. The Amazons went ashore and stole some horses. They started marauding, gathering loot, and building up their strength.

The New Yorker is a treasure. This post is already way too long and off course. But I’ll risk another quote fro the article.

Soon, the Amazons and the Scythians consolidated their camps, and the young men extended a proposal: Why not come back and live with them? They had money, houses, and parents—surely settled life would be better than life on the steppe. The Amazons, incredulous, made a proposal in return: Why not leave town behind and live as they did: riding, raiding, and sleeping under the stars? The men packed their things. Herodotus reports that the Sarmatians, the people descended from that union, created a society characterized by gender equality, in which men and women led the same sort of life. It’s a story, Mayor points out, in which the “answer to the question of who will be dominated and tamed is no one.”

It’s easy to romanticize things when you skip the grey zones. Sounds a little like it’s a celebration of abandoning one’s promises and commitments for a carefree life of taking things from other people. And yet part of me is saying fuck yea Amazons. I guess it’s complicated.

Get some tea, coffee, or a Scotch. I’m still reading this article, and it’s great.

OK, we’ve switched to real-time for a moment. The article just gets better. A really smart woman classics professor is talking about Amazons, and her attempts to write about Amazons. Rejected. So she fed her information to a dude, and it got accepted. So it’s sort of like an Amazon talking about Amazons.

The Greek way of war centered on infantry—that is, on armored, brawny men. But, on the steppe, “the horse was the great equalizer, along with the bow and arrow, which meant that a woman could be just as fast, just as deadly, as a man,” Mayor writes.

I’ve digressed too much. I’ll read the rest on my own time. Are you back? I am.

I bury my ledes. If you’ve been here and come back, you already know that. If you’re new, I throw it out there. If rambling and non-linear isn’t your thing, which would be completely understandable, probably best to move onto a cooking by numbers blog for a reset.

Use Your Words.

I’m not religious. But I do sometimes hope I’m wrong, and that heaven has an all powerful abacus. In the history of the universe, where do I fall with respect to the consumption of black eyed peas? I’ve worked fucking hard on this front, I have to be top 1%, right oh mighty abacus?

I also wonder about words spoken. I’m probably in the bottom 1%. I’m quiet and reclusive, but I also think I’m one of a large group of people who get talked at. I’m not bragging here (this will be proven) when I say that a lot of people have told me I’m a good conversationalist. 73.6% of those instances are people who love talking, and if they’re not interrupted, they’ll compliment you on your conversational skills. The other 26.4% of the people are the ones you want to latch on to. They are two way talkers. They know when to pause.

Tonight I made a late night foray to QFC. Masked. A conversation was stuck in my head. I tried to verbalize it and…horror of horrors…talking felt difficult. It was the first time in a long time that I worried about the negative effects of not talking. Can we regress? Am I losing synapses by the minute?

I hope that most things speech are now hard-wired, and any deleterious effects of isolation are temporary. But young people are in a much different place physically and emotionally. I would love to see some research into the benefit of ensuring that young people are given opportunities in the pandemic to exchange long form oral ideas. They need to be able to speak, argue, and debate without the fear that every word they say or argument they make at age 10 will be held against them forever. I think they’re going to be much healthier than we are about recognizing that a 30 second video should not define one’s entire life.

That’s not code for giving a pass to a 40 year old SWATing a black person.

We need to be very patient and thoughtful with respect to kids today. They’re informed. Most of them know that most of the world’s scientists are saying that we’re close to the point of no return with climate change. They are aware that their parents feel like the country is more divided than ever, regardless of political beliefs. They know that every word they say into their Zoom class is being recorded.

I hope a smart tech worker develops a virtual classroom that covers the teacher’s behind while also ensuring that young people get to speak freely and learn from one another. I don’t know much about the art and science of education, but I think there’s value in having forums where people can work out some thoughts without fear of repercussions.

’ll offer my experience in support of my argument. Up until my mid-twenties I tried to be a Reagan conservative. I was a sucker for the easy platitudes. When Patrick Buchanan denigrated Mandela, I cheered. Law and Order! Jesus I was an idiot. My memory is getting worse, but I still remember a Melissa and Toby in my American History class shaking their heads and countering my simplistic arguments with facts. I’m glad my arguments aren’t on Facebook.