Category Archives: Protest

Another Day Of Color

(The video is of a fairy light set I made by inverting a blue glass hummingbird feeder and installing solar lights into it.)

My intention to do fewer projects lasted…about as long as you’d imagine.

I went to buy powerful magnets, which led me to investigate every single aisle in the store. During my visit, I helped three people find things. I spent about five minutes answering a woman’s questions about a wood project she was undertaking. In so doing, I saved her a LOT of money. She then asked me several more questions about other things she was considering. Before she walked away, she also asked me about my butterfly brooch.

She added, “You know, I’m going to go the aisle with the pins and brooches and buy a couple. It’s an easy way to add color and draw the eye.”

I laughed. “Yes. I think the way you smile probably does that, too.” As soon as I said it, it crossed my mind that it sounded like I was flirting. Before I could utter a word, she stopped me. “It’s okay. Thanks for that.”

At Lowe’s, I bought more electrical items; this apartment begs for a total renovation. Along with those, I purchased more practical things, too. Possibly in a nod to more inevitable painting projects, I also bought more paint, which led me to justify buying a couple of surprise things at the next store. The clerked seemed surprised that I would take all the hardware off and paint a box I’d purchased. “Can you do that?” she asked. “Ha! Yes. And in at least two colors.”

Because I had paint all over me within 30 minutes of arriving home, I opted for Dominos. In case you were wondering, I order cheeseless thin-crust pizzas with vegetables. My stove looks like a sauce/spice madman was let loose. Using four sauces and four spices (so that each piece tastes distinctive) to eat such a pizza makes my taste buds go wild. Taking another look, make that six different sauces-and maybe a smidgen of paint, too.

I rigged two hangers on the balcony to paint without continuing to paint my hands and arms accidentally. And face. If I show up for work tomorrow with paint still across my neck and forehead, mind your business. It’s interesting when I’m doing these things because the neighbors get curious and find ways to look up or over to see whatever thing or contraption I’m working on for the day. It’s tempting to drag out ridiculous things just to convince onlookers that I’ve lost my mind.

When I stopped at the convenience store to get a soda and lottery tickets, the skies had opened up for a surprise rain. It was a beautiful sight, despite the mugginess. The clerk who speaks Nepali didn’t object to a tip this time, though she did insist on adding something to my purchase to reduce her tip. Little did she know she was dealing with a wily expert on such subterfuge. I added two dollar bills to the counter, saluted, laughed, and walked away. She smiled. “Karma,” I said to her in a weird accent.

I’d write more, but paint is calling my name and in all caps.

I hope your day had some color, too.

Love, X

Hanlon’s Disposable Razor

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Worse than an assassin is the self-appointed gatekeeper of humor.

Humor, one of the most authentic human emotions, often treads in the mud.

My sense of humor lurches into the darkness and dwells there. I’ve uneasily enjoyed much of the social fire through the years, watching as people without any real intention of cruelty are publicly drawn and quartered for something they’ve said, or for an action that violated someone’s norms for humor. “Well, that isn’t funny!” Often, they are right. It wasn’t funny. But it wasn’t intended as an attack. It was just stupid or poorly stated. Most such humor harms another person’s sensibilities and those things they find to be sacred. As someone smart once said, “You can tell who is really in charge by what you can’t make fun of.”

Hanlon’s razor is a saying that reads: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Here’s my take: Hanlon’s Disposable Razor: “If no actual harm was done, never insist that you know the mind of someone who said or did something in jest. Accept an apology, but watch for a relapse.”

Given freely, humor should always be first interpreted as an imperfect and fluid expression of a shared human emotion, rather than a malicious attack on one’s viewpoint. In the larger scheme of human interaction, humor seldom produces observable harm. Weirdly, it often produces anger in the mind of the beholder, an anger that is often disproportionately harsh in comparison to the expression of a badly-worded or executed attempt at humor.

Even though we know the above to be true, we often jab humorously at funerals, cancer, parents, patriotism, sex, and just about every other possible thing common to people. All of them will wound people in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Age has taught me: sooner or later, we all face the guillotine of error.
Some people seem to stand guard adjacent to the guillotine and wait for perceived breaches of humor and intent.

Because people so often bring their own arguments to these thoughts, it’s important that you understand that my comments bend more toward passive humor, such as when one person sees a billboard written in humor and becomes angry or the refrain is, “I don’t find that humorous.” I’m not pointing my finger at interpersonal humor.

Distrust anyone who is righteous and quick to anger in the face of humor.

Absent evidence, it’s unwise to assume that the accused had ill intent.

The volume of the objection doesn’t always coincide with the magnitude of the offense.

Like all human interaction, mistakes are going to happen.

Given that mind-reading is still out of our reach, it’s wise to take a look at the context and the totality of whomever and whatever you’re about to rail against.

And remember that no matter who you are, you’ve said and done some vile nonsense to other people.

P.S. Once, when I was telling a version of this, someone said that I should call it the “…But Did You Die?” rule. Perspective.

Of Protests, Kneeling, and Democracy

A large group of several hundred protesters gathered near the intersection of Edinger and Bristol, at approximately 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night. Protesters gathered to voice their dissent over the election of Donald Trump in Santa Ana early tonight. The protest took a violent turn when protesters began lobbing mortars at officers later in the night. Police used non lethal weapons to control the crowd, who were throwing bottles, mortars, and other objects at officers. Santa Ana PD was assisted by multiple agencies from around Orange County.

You’re one of two people: the man shouting or the man covering his ears.

Everything we’ve achieved in this country resulted from those shouting and seldom from those who seek silence or conformity.

The status quo favors those in the majority, those holding the reins of power, and those with the gold.

Shouts and powerful whispers threaten all three. The shouts aren’t simply demanding more. They demand equality in every respect – and not simply in the material realm, but in the spiritual, and in the minds of men as all of us conduct our daily affairs.

That such an action would threaten democratic ideals instead of reinforcing them is one of the most quixotic and incomprehensible lines of reasoning I’ve ever encountered.

That the majority grumbles in response is one of the most viable signals that words or actions of protest committed peacefully are striking at the heart of their discomfort.

It is only through discomfort that we might collectively agree that we have stepped off the path that should guide us. Democracy is always an uneasy alliance of interests. We should beware of anyone who falsely claims that those who seek change are lesser citizens. These allegations tarnish those making them.

This country belongs to all of us, not just those displaying a glib grasp of patriotism. Those who are shouting are doing us and democracy a great service, even if we find ourselves in a position of discomfort.

We are a nation of better ideas. Let’s hear them and those who aren’t satisfied with where we are.

Despite my fair skin and privileged life, I tend to find myself leaning to hear the words of those who are kneeling, shouting, or trying to tell us something. It’s the least I can do, literally. Learning and growth only occur through challenging all our supposed truths.