Friday, April 27, 2012

Body Language

A recent experience reminded me that I have to control my tendency to be open and friendly with everyone, including strangers. Even though I’ve lived in the “big city” of D.C. for 40-odd years, my innocently friendly Midwestern roots sometimes trip me up.

Doing laundry in our complex’s laundry room, I sat down to wait for the machines to fill and start chugging away, before returning to our apartment. In walked a worker who helps keep our building clean. I smiled and he smiled back. I turned my attention back to the washing machines. Then . . . .

With a bright smile on his face, he started chatting in Spanish. I admitted I had studied it in school but remembered very little anymore. Since he spoke no English I thought that would be the end of it. Then, chatting away, he propped himself onto a table next to me, putting his crotch at eye level. I had to suppress a snicker.

I don’t think men are always aware of it, but this position reminds me of dogs who present their backsides to each other in greeting. If you watch any of the YouTube welcome home dog videos, the dogs nearly always turn their backs to their owners to “prove their identity.”

Women have an equally unsubtle way of attracting attention to themselves. Lowering her eyes to peer up at a man through her eyelashes, she draws attention to what I call her “chestal area.” She unconsciously props her boobs up a little higher and squeezes them slightly with her arms to accentuate her cleavage. She KNOWS how much males love mammary glands.

It’s really a matter of spreading one’s pheromones; those subtle, powerful fragrances our hormones produce to attract the opposite sex. If you ever people-watch, see if you don’t notice these subtle shifts in behavior, particularly among the younger, unmarried set. We humans really haven’t evolved all that much.

Happy Weekend, Y’all!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boys will be boys . . ....

Will men ever really, truly grow into adults? Recent behavior of men hired, vetted and trained by the U.S. Secret Service and some of their military colleagues make it appear unlikely.

Thank goodness there are far more exceptions to these guys. Otherwise the lives of our national leadership would be even more endangered than they already are by cranks and crazies.

It’s quite warm in D.C. today. I’m guessing that some of the heat is emanating from red-faced, angry, humiliated officers and agents who actually take their work seriously. Even though I am in no way affiliated with the federal government, I was terribly embarrassed when President Obama had to oh-so-publicly address the shameful behavior of some members of his advance security detail to Colombia.

Perhaps more women need to be hired for these important security jobs. Maternal instincts fit in quite nicely with a job that requires thinking of others’ safety before one’s own. That, and I cannot imagine women agents putting themselves into compromising positions like drinking and partying with sex workers.

“Mama Grizzlies” has been overworked, but it is an apt description of the ferocity a woman (whether or not a mother) feels when confronting anyone harming a child or weak adult. What we might lack in brute strength we more than make up for in intelligence, intuition and integrity. Am I wrong?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Dressmaker"

Everyone knows the story of the sinking of the Titanic, 100 years ago this week. What I didn't fully grasp was the shocking, scandalous aftermath. The blame game, and recriminations started even before the survivors made it to shore.

In "The Dressmaker", by Kate Alcott, some of the characters are real and others are incorporated to add interest to an already compelling story.

A central character is one, Lady Lucille Duf Gordon. Her mannerisms, attitudes and actions could make one believe she was a fictional character. As it turns out, she was notorious before boarding the Titanic and even more so after surviving it's sinking.

Lady Lucy was a famous designer of women's clothing, funded in large part by her second, aristocratic husband, Lord Duf Gordon. Tess, a created character, manages to get herself hired as a maid to serve Lady Lucy during the crossing. Only later does she reveal her real aspirations: to become a fashion designer to rival Lady Lucy.

Love interests develop between Tess and a wealthy Chicago businessman AND a crew member who later implicates the Duf Gordons of disgraceful behavior in what would be dubbed "the millionaire's lifeboat".

Class distinctions and name recognition saved the lives of many of the wealthiest passengers at the expense of the poorer passengers in steerage. Add that to the fact that there were not enough lifeboats and the newly hired crew members had no training or plan for evacuating the ship and disaster was inevitable.

It is sometimes hard to discern fact from fiction, but considering how botched-up the Titanic's maiden voyage was, anything could be true. The documented actions of particular passengers, such as Margaret (Unsinkable Molly) Brown are fascinating and enrich the story. Also, the self-aggrandizing efforts on the part of U.S. government types to put blame for the sinking where it belonged reads like current events.

"The Dressmaker" helped to fill-in the gaps in my knowledge of that momentous event. Ms. Alcott writes a good story that is enhanced by carefully researched facts from an actual event.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter on the Chesapeake

Enjoyed a lovely Easter dinner, prepared by Mom down in Solomons, Maryland.  She wisely has used our get togethers on Easter to also celebrate my youngest sister's birthday, April 6th and mine which will be this Friday, the 13th.  [yeah, yeah, yeah I know all about friggatriskaidekaphobia a.k.a. paraskevidkatriaphobia: irrational fear of the number 13.  I survived having my 13th birthday being announced to my entire middle school on Friday the 13th years ago.  I like to believe that it gave me certain super powers.]

Anyway, after dinner a three-car caravan set out to visit a worksite my brother in law and his two sons have been working on.  We couldn't have asked for a nicer day to visit the Cove Point Lighthouse.  Strong winds off the water provided a refreshing, slightly fishy aroma to go along with the sweet fragrance of wisteria which is wildly in bloom right now.
This bell was rung on foggy days to warn mariners away from shallow waters.
The stairs to the top are solid wood,anchored to the brick wall and a wooden column which has a steel core.  Veeeeery narrow steps and steep.

I've tried valiently to get this pic upright but blogger simply will not cooperate! Sorry.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Something Worth Considering

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us
the universe,
a part limited in time and space.

He experiences himself,
his thoughts and feelings, as something
separate from the rest -- a kind of
optical delusion
of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires and to affection
for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to
free ourselves from this prison by
widening our circle of compassion to
embrace all living creatures and the
whole of nature in its beauty.

Nobody is able to achieve this completely,
but this striving for such achievement
is in itself a part of the
liberation and a foundation for
inner security.”

Albert Einstein