Rosebowl bound… clowns.

The Oregon Ducks, recently called (deservedly) ‘The rodeo clowns of college football’ are once again headed in the direction of a National Championship. Very cool. My team. An OREGON team.

I just wish Phil Knight and the decision makers at the U of O would give up the notion that dumbshit looking uniforms make the Ducks play better. We’re called the fucking DUCKS, embrace it.

The team mascot NAME was originally ‘Webfoots’, as early as the late 1890s which was based on the nickname given a group of Massachusetts fisherman who were handed this moniker for their heroism during the Revolutionary War. The name stayed with the descendants of these men who settled in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and the name was chosen for the representation of U of O sports teams. It became official in the 1920s. Webfoots/feet began being associated with ‘ducks’ when a live duck began appearing at Oregon sports events. It was called ‘Puddles’. Sports writers of the time (particularly headline writers) readily adopted the ‘duck’ name as well. By 1940, there appeared a duck that looked suspiciously similar to Disney’s Donald Duck…  used on U of O student publications.

Angry Duck

An even longer story cut short: Walt Disney and the U of O hashed out a special agreement for the use of the image. For Oregon sports use only. That agreement stands to this day, except in 2010, the costumed duck mascot was excluded from Disney control. This is why he is a bit rounder and less ‘Donald’ looking. Why?

In 2007 when ‘The DUCK’ was suspended for one game after attacking ‘Shasta’ the Houston Cougar mascot. Duck attacked his rival for mimicking his push-up routine. I loved it, an ANGRY DUCK!! In the original agreement, the costumed mascot was held to the same behavior standards as other characters at Disney parks. That part of the agreement is gone, but the Duck hasn’t misbehaved again… oh well.

Nike. Go away, Phil Knight. You’re not the sole representation of the school. It’s fine to have that swoosh symbol you paid virtually nothing for… but give us back football uniforms that don’t make the players look like idiots. You guys have spent so much time fucking up football uniforms, your practical products SUCK. I haven’t bought a pair of Nikes since at least 2002. I should have stopped before then! No-name brands wear better than Nikes!!

I won’t even address the other monstrosity: The slickly fierce Beaver logo that Oregon State now sports. Holy shit. I wonder when they’ll figure out how to screen print a beaver tail onto the backsides of OSU’s pants. And I’m seriously wondering if I should even say that out loud… but at least Nike has left their uniforms relatively normal. Not completely normal, mind you, but they aren’t Phil’s darlings.

So, bring back the Angry Duck. Put it back on the helmets, on the uniforms. Get rid of the O symbol that looks like every other college O symbol in the country. Take those ridiculous duck feather/wing graphics off everything. This school has history that dates well before Uncle Phil showed up. An angry duck represents aggression. Dumbass graphics represents nothing but pretentiousness. Give the school it’s proper colors BACK. We’re Green/Gold/White… not black, not grey, not highlighter pen yellow!!!

Yep, there are those who adore the changes. I’m tired of change. Keep something the same other than the shape of the football. At least keep the IMAGE of muddy, sweaty, soul sucking, smash mouth football.

All that said: GO OREGON.

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Same sex marriage shouldn’t even be a question.

The more I think about it, the more confused I become. In our society, marriage is a heavy and legally binding contract; though many don’t realize how very serious it is until they attempt to unbind it. (Handing over the point right now that different States and jurisdictions do things differently and marriage is a hotbed of legal debate still… but ultimately it is a contract between two parties, or three if you count the State)

For centuries, marriage has possessed this legal aspect, because it inevitably involves money and property… none of which matters much until a couple decides to break this contract. The funny thing about it? God is never involved in the parting process. God has no legal voice in this and is conspicuously forgotten when the divisions of property and shouts of blame appear. Well, except for the hurling of ‘God damn YOU’s’ show themselves.

In the past, naughty fornicators have always been granted the right of marriage when Jane Doe discovers that her monthly cycle is interrupted by activities definitely frowned upon by God. It’s never been a question: knocked up equals ball and chain whether there is love involved or not. It’s the right thing to do. Whoops, bad you, here’s your marriage license, make it work.

So, sin can be fixed with marriage. Sex out of wedlock: bad, but get married, all is forgiven. However in a majority of cases, at least fifty years ago and beyond, a pregnant single woman being married before GOD and having a white wedding dress was a no-no. So legal marriages were performed by a Judge (at least in my state, it varies). Because the legal aspect of marriage had nothing to do with God, anyway. That performance was meant to be a friends and family gathering to witness the couple’s desire to have their bond blessed by GOD. So far as I know, there are no legal marriage licenses signed by GOD. I heard He quit making appearances a very long time ago. God, I don’t think, was generally welcome at shotgun marriages. The state wants a couples money, a legal record of the marriage, and their taxes. Not necessarily in that order.

So there’s my problem: what is the fundamental difficulty with two human beings, regardless of their sex, being legally bound in a marriage contract? All marriages must be approved by the state, but not by religious ceremony, right?? Indeed a ceremony is performed, but it is a declarative ceremony. Two people verbally voicing their agreement to live and love together, ostensibly until death they do part.

Yes, the same sex folks who are god fearing might wish to be married before God, too — but that is a strictly religious problem, is it not? That is a fight to be had with individual churches/religions. If they refuse to marry same sex folks in a religious ceremony… that is their call. They make their church rules, whether we like them or not. If they don’t want to do that because their bible, koran, or golden tablets say so, fine.

The problem arises when the churches overstep their bounds and desire to control the secular, governmental law. The law of the land, the law agreed upon by secular and religious folks alike. The implied separation of church and State.

I have one thing to say about license. A license is a permit, a permission to enter into a contract, such as marriage. The verbal ceremony binds the contract. A license is not a right, it is a privilege (like driving) to be granted… conditions must be met for the granting to be had.  Same sex couples should be afforded the same licensing opportunities that opposite sex couples may apply for. This is about the right to even apply to be legally bound.  Again, while I can’t make myself call marriage sacred, it is a very serious contract to enter into. It is one often taken too lightly and not thought through properly. This is a human problem, not a gender problem. While the romantic aspect is always dwelled upon, the real life struggle, problems, and sheer responsibility of such a union should always be taken into consideration. This is my nice way of saying that simple love is not enough. If love were enough, there wouldn’t be a war going on over this issue; couples would fall in love and live their lives together and all would be well. The hard life facts of medical decisions, ownership decisions, probate, taxes, property, children, and the mountain of other things that legally recognized marriages make possible and/or easier on a couple cannot be ignored. It is the legal benefits these couples need, they already have the love thing down, now they need to be seen as one married voice so that one can speak for the other when necessary. Is that so tough to understand?

So just let the legal stand without interference. The word ‘spouse’ has no gender attached, does it? Nope. Neither does ‘marriage’.

Customer service shock and awe.

The internet was absolutely MADE for people like me.  I always hated writing bills. Now they are all paid online. I always hated having to go to the bank. Now I have direct deposit, and other deposits can be completed at an ATM. If I can do anything online to avoid making a phone call or visiting a place of business, I’m all over it. Voice mail is the gift that keeps on giving. I never answer a call from a number I don’t recognize. That is what voice mail is for. If I don’t have to stop somewhere to pay or make an appointment or shit like that? I’m HAPPY.

But it seems that in certain situations, I have an old fashioned streak. I’m in the midst of final planning for a trip with a group of friends. An overseas trip. I felt the need to actually visit my bank and cell phone provider… so went to the brick and mortar places of these businesses. I went to interact with humans. I quickly realized that the internet has provided me with a very comfortable space… beneath a rock.

I haven’t been inside my bank for at least five years. Things in my bank have changed drastically. In years past, I would walk in and either head toward the tellers, or hang back and wait for another employee to lead me to a loan officer type. It isn’t this way any longer.

The first thing that struck me was that after 1 pm on a Friday… there was no line. I had a clear view of the tellers, and there were no folks bustling about filling out deposit slips and shit. It was really weird.

A teller smiled at me and asked how she could help me. I said I needed to speak to someone about a trip I was taking out of the country. I was dumbfounded when she motioned me to her window with a smile and chirped “I can help you with that!” I could actually feel individual hairs on my head beginning to turn white. I completely expected to be directed to a cushy chair in front of a senior bank employee’s desk. It used to be that anything not having to do with cash handling, checks, or deposits, you went to the cushy chair. I did not get led to a chair!

I haven’t changed with the bank, and it isn’t their fault. The woman who helped me was really awesome, and a pleasure to interact with. She caught on right away that I had expected something different. I confessed I ran most of my life through the internet and she giggled and said reactions like mine were common. Most folks use ATMs and online banking now.

She answered all my questions, suggested things I may not have considered… and demanded I allow her order me another debit card (no charge). I should take better care of it. Whoops. Though I didn’t get my cushy chair, I still received all the help and advice I needed. Gone are the days of surly tellers, I guess. I thanked her profusely and she laughed and said she’d see me in another five years. I silently wondered if there would even be a need for tellers in five years’ time. Anyway, she was great. Thanks, Cara!

Next stop: cell phone store. I needed to find out about Verizon phones, because I did my research and they charge a king’s ransom for global service. Nope, I want to use an overseas SIM card… and I don’t want to chase one down in a foreign country. I want to buy it online and be ready to go. I needed to find out if my phone is unlocked/unlockable and how to handle this. Simple request? I thought so.

The two employees I dealt with were pleasant. Pleasant like snakes who cannot voice the contempt they obviously feel when they’re being disturbed. These two employees said they had no idea how to handle my request. They have computers all over the store, but handed me a post-it note with the Verizon global services web site address so I could contact someone to answer my questions.

In short: Neither of them were Cara.

I worked in customer service for over 20 years. I hated it, but I was good at it. I learned early that the best way to handle any situation that I couldn’t solve for myself were these words: “I don’t know that, but let me find out for you.” Those 11 words saved me more times than I can count, especially when I backed them up. Customers want to see effort. Even if I couldn’t get a definitive answer for whatever the question or product inquiry was, I was unfailingly thanked for trying.

The snake people never got that particular memo. Contemptuous Snake #1 chomping on his nicotine gum and looking bored, couldn’t be bothered. His answers were short and a bit smug. Snake #2  finished the text message on her phone before Googling a site I could have Googled myself about the phone in my hand. She then incorrectly told me that my Razr HD couldn’t be used overseas. I already knew it COULD, I just needed to know about the locking issue.

I made an effort to visit the store, because I wanted something different. I didn’t want a chat screen, I wanted someone to talk to me and walk me through my difficulty. It’s an extreme rarity for me to desire this. Normally I’d rather just hop online and answer my own questions, but this was a situation I felt completely out of my depth. I wanted a knowledgeable person to speak to me calmly and make me feel that what I was asking wasn’t the enormous problem that my mind was making it to be.

They both made sure to make me feel as if it really was a big deal, and big enough that I needed specialized help. Shitheads.

I was already considering a new phone, and even mentioned this; after all they sell phones there! So, with few people in the store, I had the attention of two employees. Neither of which were interested in contacting the global people from one of their ten computer terminals in the store. I’m still a little a bit stunned by it.

SO. They lost. I did go home and got on the Verizon Global site, and had a short chat with my new friend Jason. I was given the information I asked for… and it took all of five minutes. Jason was the one who informed me that all Verizon 4G phones were unlocked by default, and perfectly usable with European phone services. He also patiently answered the few questions I had for him. Jason was marvelous and I handed that guy a solid ten and rave review on the help survey at the end of the chat session.

Neither Snakes received a commission on the phone I purchased online, and I hope like hell Jason gets something for his survey. Had the Snakes contacted Mr. Jason, they could have provided me with an answer and made a sale. I’m a complete sucker for a shiny new phone toy, and welcome a flimsy excuse to obtain one. Instead I ordered it online, and saved 50 bucks in the process. I could have still saved the money at the store, but would have had to submit a rebate form. And likely would have forgotten about it and they would have been able to keep that money. Yep, I’m one of those people who keeps those stupid programs profitable.

I’ve been to many Verizon stores where employees helping me jump online and check things out to answer my questions. The whole conversation felt as if they were being dismissive. It didn’t sit very well with me.

For the record, I don’t feel the need to formally complain about the Snake pair I dealt with today. In my very slow maturation process, I’ve learned that fucking with people’s jobs is not cool. I now just cling to the faith that if this is how they deal with the public on a daily basis, they will eventually be out of a job and it will be their own doing. If they were simply having a bad day, my complaint would be more destructive than necessary. I reserve complaints for situations where sales folks are being overtly abusive or dishonest. They weren’t mean or even disrespectful… they frustrated and disappointed me. There’s a difference.

So I’m caught between two worlds. On one hand, my cantankerous older self wants good customer service. I want to see effort on my behalf, and see it with a good attitude. Cara and Jason were sterling examples of this expectation. On the other hand, my internet tech obsessed younger self just doesn’t want to deal with people at all. That self revels in the electronic communication that is the internet. The Snake people illustrated exactly why I tend to lean toward the electronics.

So the internet saved me from Snakes today. How odd. Oh well. I’m getting a new phone!!

Common courtesy and breast feeding. ?

Common courtesy is becoming a distant memory, replaced by everyone’s divine right to be idiots.

Case in point: A month ago there was a news story in Portland, Oregon. A woman had complained that she was harassed by the staff of a popular restaurant/pub for nursing her child in public.  The actual complaint was made by several patrons in the restaurant, and quietly handled by the staff. The business did not threaten her, or ask her to leave… they simply asked her to be more discreet.  According to the news report, she was much less than discreet. And as things happen in the world today, instead of handling it with a letter to the restaurant management, talking to the manager, or some kind of CIVIL solution… the woman went to the NEWS.

And then the story made it to FaceBook. Then, of course, things got worse. I was simply astounded at the ridiculous responses. Most of which honed in on basically two issues: 1) Women should have the right to nurse their children/no child should have to starve to solve someone else’s heinous problem with public breast feeding. 2) Everyone needs (especially men) to get over their tendency to make the natural use of a breast into a sexual thing. I’m being very broad here, there were endless combinations of these two points. But there were other points brought up as well, which were basically drowned out by the army of outraged people who smelled blood and couldn’t wait to offer their insane opinions.

The insanity was something to behold. Hollers of prudish people who need to ‘get over it’. Examples of bikinis and such not being offensive, but the natural act of breast feeding being unacceptable. There were several calls for the public to ‘grow up’. There were mothers extolling the horrors of a child who wouldn’t feed if their heads were covered… because they’re too hot, feel confined, etc. It all left me a bit perplexed, because the overreaction was so intense.

But, let me stop there for now. I am a believer in common sense, and common courtesy. This issue was made personal for a movement which in my opinion should not even exist. If folks use their heads and actually consider their surroundings and other people within those surroundings, there is no problem. The problem arises when ‘rights’ only apply to one group of people. While this woman felt her rights as a mother were violated, the rights of fellow paying customers were not considered by the woman or the subsequent Facebook mob. The other problem that shows itself is one of perception. We all do not see things the same way, and because of this we all have to bend a bit in favor of compromise. I don’t feel the compromise that the staff of the restaurant asked of this person was unreasonable.

So, I offer my take on the situation. I am a single person with no children who will certainly never find myself in the same situation as the nursing woman. With that in mind, I say this: I absolutely support the right of women to breast feed their children in public, if they use reasonable discretion. It is just a fact of life that many folks do not consider the breast-feeding experience one that should be shared in public. I am one of those people. I don’t necessarily want to witness it, but understand the necessity.  This is easily taken care of by either moving from the public area, OR making some sort of barrier to keep the process reasonably private.  I truly don’t feel this should be a problem, and happen to think it’s basic parenting. Keep private things private. It’s frighteningly simple.

I think the general public has a pretty good grasp on the concept that babies are unpredictable and fussy. Again, this is where parental responsibility comes in. If a child will not feed with his/her head covered, it is the parent’s responsibility to find something that will work.  There are alternatives and mothers need to find a solution that works for their kids.

As to some of the charges brought against the general public? For many generations public breast feeding has been severely frowned upon. For many generations mothers managed just fine without any child starving to death in the middle of mom and dad’s dinner. While there are certainly people in the world who still believe that public breast feeding should be banned outright, I think generally if measures are taken to not make the feeding a public spectacle… it’s very much accepted.

To the charge of prudishness I say only this: If you don’t offer a breast up for public display, there is no chance of ‘sexualized’ leering. Teenage boys? Teenage boys will never see a baby, they will only see the free view of a breast. This will never change, it’s just a fact of life. Breast feeding women are not going to ‘teach’ teenage boys about a natural process. They’re BOYS.  There is a time and a place for everything, mixed company is only asking for your reasonable discretion, new mothers.

I asked my own mother about this problem. She agrees that women should be allowed to do so, but with sensible conditions. She basically stayed around home until her babies were weaned. On one hand at the time she had her kids, public feeding was positively unacceptable. On the other hand, she’s simply mortified at the thought of doing so herself. She didn’t even let my dad hang around when she was breastfeeding her kids; so far as she was concerned it was time spent alone with just her baby. Dad would (and did) have his time when bottles and/or solid food came along.  A different generation, a different view of the process… but neither of my parents would think of denying a woman the right to feed her kid, they both still believe that mothers should be considerate of those around them.

So, what happened with the Facebook mob? The worst possible scenario, in my opinion. A mob of breast feeding women showed up at the restaurant for lunch… and all fed their kids in public. This is the absolute epitome of the madness, isn’t it? The restaurant paid the price for trying to keep a comfortable atmosphere in their place of business.  While I don’t believe that their business will be adversely affected by all of this shit, it still was less than fair that they got even a small amount of bad press. They did nothing wrong.

What is the world coming to?

-MB

I’m best at being me.

Yes. The answer is yes. I smoke, and swear a lot. It’s me, it’s unapologetic, and just the way things are. (Believe it or not, I don’t drink. Spend some time here, and I guarantee you’ll question me on that one.)

I like words, and wish I could utilize them more effectively. I’m better at suggesting words than crafting them for myself, but I give it a shot occasionally. Sometimes in story form, more often in rant form, which is likely what will show up in this blog. Random thoughts and opinions. I struggle every day to understand the world. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. As much as I love it, it is a constant reminder of the stupidity in the world. ‘Politically’ and ‘correct’ when used together is the most vile curse ever uttered. 

Sometimes I actually compose something thoughtful. Unfortunately this is infrequent, ha ha.

I’m not politically affiliated. I prefer to form my own opinions and takes on the world. I don’t need a platform dreamed up by rich folks to tell me what to think. I feel similarly about an imaginary father figure in the sky picking and choosing who is going to live eternally and who is not— by their sworn loyalty. This school yard bullshit began a very long time ago, and wars continue to be fought over it. The only saving I’ve really found necessary in life is of the monetary sort. So. There’s that.

So with all that crap, you may be surprised to find out I love to laugh. Humor is our universal savior, people. We’re all far from perfect, therefore we are all subject to be made fun of. I’m sarcastic by nature, and believe in succumbing to my nature. I find the most odd and incredibly stupid things funny. They’re often not politically correct. I tend not to care, especially if it’s funny.

So. That’s all I have to say about basically nothing. It’s another learning experience for me; setting this thing up and all. Another place to express myself, the world at large be damned.