Thursday, November 16, 2017

Along came a spider...

This is as bad as it is going to get. Even I couldn't look at a real spider on purpose. I really wanted a pink cartoon spider, but they only come in green and purple, apparently. The green one looked friendlier.

I'm not overly fond of spiders. I will sometimes shoo them outside if I can. But I will kill them if they persist in breaking the code: they live outside, and I live inside. If they honor that agreement (although of course they are unaware of it), they live.  

I figure making that agreement with them lets me smack them with a shoe without feeling like a murderer.  I'm just upholding the law, if you will. I'd do the same with Republicans if I thought it would be as easy as getting rid of the bulk of household spiders.

I didn't, by the way, reach my unilateral agreement with arachnidiae without considerable back story.

First, of course, there were the daddy longlegs spiders so prevalent on Long Island, New York, where I spent much of my youth. If you smacked them, they died, but not without their long spindly legs twitching for a couple of minutes while you called DAD! for him to wipe up the disaster.

There was the ever-present danger of a black widow spider showing up and biting you. It had a white hourglass on its underside, we were told. But who was about to pick one up, turn it over, and check? So we just went gingerly about our business, especially when we were playing in the woods, and hoped. (As it turns out, we were told wrong. They have a white hourglass on their backs.)
Typical woods, Long Island, NY
I don't recall seeing any spiders at all in my dorm rooms at Harpur College, State University of New York at Binghamton. Maybe their SAT scores were not high enough to get in. Or maybe they avoided the rampant estrogen and testosterone exuded by 1500 or so men and women between the ages of 18 and 21. Or maybe Binghamton is a sort of spider black hole...wouldn't surprise me, as the city has long been a black hole on many fronts.

My first serious encounter with a spider was on a moonlit night on Sapelo Island, Georgia, when I was 23. My husband was doing geological estuarine research there, so we lived on the island for about 12 weeks. One of those weeks, he had to go to Athens, Ga., to arrange things about his doctoral assistantship. I stayed behind. As it happened, his major professor and his family were also on the island that summer, so they invited me to dinner, since I was going to be alone for a couple of nights. It was kind of them. Sort of. Another geologist was visiting them, a hard-drinking couple we had known in Binghamton. In fact, Don was my husband's major professor for his Masters Degree, and Elizabeth had become a good friend of mine. She held Wednesday morning "tea parties" for faculty and grad student wives, and one was always pretty darn happy afterwards. 

The new professor's wife, Sharon, was a teetotaler, volubly proselytizing the evils of drink, except at barbecues in the dunes at which point excessive amounts of beer--I've been told--were non-alcoholic. Must have been; she drank A LOT of it.
Dunes, Sapelo Island, Georgia
Anyway, Elizabeth arrived with a bottle of Jim Beam, which had cracked on the boat trip to the island. She stopped at my door the afternoon of the dinner and asked if she could strain it into a large jar in case any glass shards were in it. I rooted around for a jar--probably tossed some nutritious food out of one--and we strained it. There were no real stores on the island, just Benny's in Hog Hammock, the community of indigenous Sapelonians, and it sold only bare necessities. Virtually all food and booze had to be brought in by boat once a week or so. If you ran out midweek, tough. So yes, we were light on booze because, as grad students, we were also light on money even when we had time to go shopping on the mainland. 

I knew about Sharon's unfortunate affliction, the one that caused her to get loopy in the sand dunes but not in houses, but didn't tell Elizabeth. It wouldn't have mattered; Elizabeth was a force of nature, and I was keen to see the show. 

Unfortunately, Elizabeth had presented the gift before I arrived, so I missed the fun. 

But the God of Spiders delivered the karma for my evil ways a bit later.

On my way home, with nothing but moonlight to guide me beneath the huge oaks all eerily hung with Spanish moss, I came face to face with a spider in a web. The thing must have been five inches across, and it was almost on my face. I suppose I screamed. No one would have heard me. The professors were in their neat little row of brick houses with the air conditioning on; the grad students were in their horrid row of trailers next to the marsh with their air conditioning on.
Typical Sapelo home, trees with Spanish moss
So I took a deep breath, shook a little, and walked on.

Fifteen years later, with a new husband, I moved into a house in Delray Beach, Florida. I volunteered to do all the unpacking without his help.  That accomplished two things: I was spared seeing Mad Max, and he was spared my muttering about what a lousy job the movers/packers had done.

I was about halfway through stowing the kitchen equipment when I opened a deep drawer. There, I swear, was the sister of the Sapelo spider. And she was pregnant. Her egg sack had to be three inches across. I did scream. (Why do we scream when we are alone?) And then I slammed the drawer shut. 
A house similar to ours in Delray Beach. Except ours had a penis tree out front  (dee below), which we had removed within a year of buying the house.

Shit. Dumb. Now it was gone to godknowswhere.

I didn't worry about it too much. Or too long. Because a couple of weeks later, as I was going to draw a bath, there she was. I screamed all right. My husband came running. I sent him back for a shoe, a really big shoe. And I left the room.

I heard the smack of the shoe on enamel, muffled by the squish of that monstrous egg sack. And then I heard my husband's expletives. It seems the little blighters were on the verge of hatching and he had to smack several of them before they got away. Finally, I heard the tap on full and the toilet brush swishing the water toward the drain. 

He emerged, and headed for the drinks trolley.

I had to get the scouring powder and remove all sorts of spider blood and body parts from the bathtub.

And then I headed for the drinks trolley, a relaxing bath a distant memory.

Spiders have a lot to answer for in my book. 


NOTE: A penis tree in bloom

Copyright 2017, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The knee bone's connected to the hip bone....

Traditional Japanese chiropractor    

Years ago, I was talking with a friend about the sort of man I should marry, should I decide to marry again. I said I thought it would be best if I married a farrier or a chiropractor, since my horse needed the former as often as every six weeks for new shoes, and I needed the latter even more often. (These two necessities limited purchases of shoes for myself, indeed, purchases of a lot of things for myself. I was happily part of the "horse poor."  A second income in the household might have been nice.) My friend, who was, in fact, a chiropractor, said he thought a shrink would also be a good choice.


On the basis of that snarky remark from a chiropractor from long ago and far away, I considered not telling this chiropractor story, but I find I must.

A few years after the unfortunate "A Shrink for Laura" conversation, I moved to another state and had to find a good chiropractor. I found two, in fact, in practice together. I favored one, though, because he had a really good sense of humor. One day, he told me the story of an elderly woman who booked an appointment and came to see him at the appointed time.

As he was assessing her problems, she noted that he was very young, and asked if she could ask him a personal question about his education.

"I'd rather you didn't," he said. "Because if you then wondered if, being so recently credentialed, I would be safe to manipulate your bones, I'd get depressed. If I got depressed, then I probably wouldn't be able to do the best possible job for you. And if I didn't do my job well, I'd get more depressed. I might even close the practice. And then where would we both be? So let's just leave it at you're the patient and I'm the chiropractor and take it from there."

Today, my chiropractor in the UK happened to be sitting at the reception desk, usually the precinct of his wife who is also his office manager. (Sometimes she comes in late; I don't think she'll get the sack.)

Anyway, while I waited for him to jot a few notes before putting my skeleton back into place, two older ladies--even older than I and possibly about the same age as my former chiropractor's interrogator--walked in. One of the ladies said she had some problems with her shoulder, and began to demonstrate how it didn't work. Although, of course, since it didn't work, there wasn't much to demonstrate. Her light blue coat just hung from her thin shoulders exactly as it had done a moment before she began her demonstration.

Brian, my chiropractor, looks a bit like Jesus of Nazareth (at least as he is depicted in western European religious art), a factor which might explain the evangelicals I have occasionally noted in the waiting room. Brian suggested that the lady might want to book an appointment to see about getting her problem relieved.

She veered off into a short discourse on the genesis of her problem and the fact that someone had suggested she had a pinched nerve. She asked if her pinched nerve was something he could deal with; one must wonder who told her it was a pinched nerve and who had pinched it. 

But I digress. Brian suggested she take home and fill out a questionnaire about her symptoms, as telling him what people thought it was wouldn't be really helpful in diagnosis; he would have to actually assess it for himself.  If she brought the completed questionnaire back with her to her first appointment, the answers would tell him more reliably where to begin looking for her problem and determining the means to fix it. 

She seemed OK with that.

But she still had to book an actual appointment. Brian suggested a time. No, she said, that wasn't good. Then another. No, that wasn't good either. And another and another and another, until finally she said the very first one would be good after all.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the lady arrives for her first chiropractic treatment. I wonder if she will ask Brian where he studied, how long he has been in practice and all that sort of thing.

Or maybe she'll just take it on faith. Maybe he was chosen not for his chiropractic knowledge, which is considerable, but for his DNA. The very first thing she said after introducing herself when she walked in was, "I'm Irish, you see," as a way of explaining the surname she gave, which was clearly not English. And then one wonders if she chose Brian because of his surname.

He's Irish, you see.

Copyright 2017, Laura Harrison McBride

Opening illustration credit: By, CC BY 4.0,

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Politically correct opinions. WHAAAAT?


Which one is better, top or bottom? Old-style electric stove top, or new? Answer: Neither.

If you are an electric stove or a friend or family member of an electric stove, or someone who unaccountably loves electric stoves, be warned: this post contains sentiments that may be difficult to hear without experiencing severe mental and emotional trauma.

I lost a friend a couple of weeks ago. I'm not going to cry about it; it was time. What sort of a friend excoriates you for posting an opinion about a pet peeve in response to a request by that very friend to post your pet peeves, and, when your pet peeve apparently sends another of the friend's friends into psychotic meltdown, gives you a public tongue-lashing?

The tongue-lashing--a high and mighty scold, actually--would have torn it. But add that to the intent to publicly embarrass.... Well, no, this person is not my friend and it is time to recognize it.

However, if you harbor approved pet peeves, you would be free, of course, to express them. Acceptable opinions, at least on that wall, include not liking crocs, not liking smoking, not liking slow drivers, not liking it when people blow their nose in restaurants and a dozen or more other things that drive people crazy. We all have pet peeves, but so far, there is only one unacceptable opinion; not liking electric stoves.

What struck me as most odd about this is that one of the pet peeves cited by another who answered the call for pet peeves was smoking; the woman who asked for the opinions smokes. So where is the upset about that? 

Or we could consider crocs. A lot of people wear crocs. Surely one of those posting pet peeves thinks the world of crocs. So why wasn't the croc-peever torn a new one? Do crocs mean less to people who love them than electric stoves do to those who love electric stoves?

The person who lost her shit because I loathe electric stoves (and she doesn't even KNOW me, for pity's sake, or she would know that I dislike microwave ovens almost as much) eventually tried to walk back her ridiculous sense of injury. Yes, that's what it was. A sense of injury.  How can you feel injured by someone you don't even know not liking something you like? It's not as if I called her mother a stove-hugging whore, for example, which might invite a sense of injury, I suppose.

Anyway, she tried to walk it back by claiming she couldn't help it; she is hypersensitive. About electric stoves. OK. I can see that. I am a bit oversensitive when someone trailers a Porta Potty into my driveway and dumps human excrement on my front steps. I might even yell at them. No comparison? Sorry. It's just difficult to find an equivalent for someone emoting all over Facebook because a stranger doesn't like electric stoves.

I suspect opinions will continue to be expressed on Facebook. But I would advise a bit of caution, unless you, too, want a verbal nuking because you expressed what was requested. Below is a raft of possible things about which you could express an opinion without, possibly, dragging out every overly sensitive soul looking for an opportunity to take the impersonal very personally.

Preface the following opinions with a clear statement that it is your opinion and yours alone and that you are heartily sorry if you have offended someone who is clinically hypersensitive.

Here, then, a list of (probably) acceptable pet peeves:

  • Dirty shoes in bed.
  • Dog poo on your plate in a restaurant.
  • People who urinate in public except in France and even then...
  • People who smack you in the head.
  • Kardashian-style fashion on toddlers.
  • Kardashian-style fashion on anyone.
  • Drivers who cut you off in traffic.
  • People who have 'town hall' meetings across the aisle in the supermarket.
  • People who abuse animals.
  • Rancid food.
  • Overpriced restaurants.
  • Wimpy shower heads.
  • Non-absorbent bath towels.
  • Luganica sausage.
You might not want to claim hatred of luganica sausage as your pet peeve, though. What if some Italian related to Sonny Corleone saw it and took exception? He or she wouldn't just moan at you on Facebook; he or she might decide to voice their objection to your opinion gangland-style. Last time I looked, Mafia dons didn't generally cite oversensitivity when they literally or figuratively off  someone.

Copyright 2017 by Laura Harrison McBride


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Screw Brexit, we are going back

I have always had some idea of how much my husband loves Devon, UK. Each time we visited for a week or two, when we lived in the States, he would sigh and almost literally shed a tear when we passed the "Welcome to Dorset" sign, proof that we had driven out of the shire of his birth and early life. It got to be a thing, him doing mock weeping and I comforting him as we headed toward Heathrow for the flight to Dulles and what was then home, Maryland, USA.
 View in front of our flat in Tavistock on a winter evening, Dartmoor in the background.

After a few years of hopping across the Atlantic whenever we could, we moved to the UK. We were happy in the two-bedroom flat my husband already owned when we married, but it was a bit small for us both working at home and the dog and the cat. It was convenient, at the top of a main market street in Tavistock, and it had the always desirable off-road parking. But, it was small.

So we bought a house. It is not in Devon; it is across the River Tamar in Cornwall, but only 12 minutes from Tavistock by car, and besides, it has a grand view of Dartmoor, in Devon, across the river.

View from the rear deck of our house in Cornwall, Dartmoor in the background, on a winter evening.

And then...BREXIT. The ludicrous, Putin-engineered vote happened. We panicked. We got out and moved to France while the getting was good and where, we were told, it was warm. It is. In the summer it is bloody unbearable and the mosquitoes are supercharged in every possible way; it's almost October, and I STILL have welts from June. In the winter, the foothills of the Pyrenees where we bought the house are colder than Cornwall. MUCH colder than Cornwall. And a 250-year-old "habitable" house? Don't ask. Just don't. My renovating days are done. Forever. Really.

So we are going to return to our house in the UK, just as soon as the squatting former tenant can be legally removed.

Don't ask about that either; suffice it to say that UK law considers all tenants, regardless of how destructive to property, delinquent on rent, or untruthful in their application for the house to begin with, to be worthy of every ounce of protection the Nanny State can afford. Landlords? Well, we are all filthy, rapacious greedsters, apparently worse even than stock brokers, and therefore fair game to be bedeviled and impoverished to take care of people who can be relied upon to lie, cheat and steal simply because the law makes it attractive to them to do so.

Whoops. I digressed. But yes, I'm plenty angry.

However, we are returning, living in rented accommodation ourselves until the vermin is out of our house. Why, you might ask, put ourselves through that? Why not just stay in the house in France, which is going to be even harder to sell than a UK house? French houses used to sell to Brits; Brits are not now buying their holiday or retirement homes in the EU because the pound is in the crapper against the Euro and they can't afford to. Will we rent out the French house? Are you crazy? The French legal system will NEVER evict a tenant in winter regardless of how little rent has been paid or damage done. We will wait for a sale. However long.
Painted security screen on first floor of house in France.
We are returning to England because of a 1949 book by Josephine Tey, Brat Farrar. I had read that book in the US at least 30 years ago. PBS made a multi-part series based on it in 1986; I had it on tape, back when there was tape.  Last night, I downloaded  the book to my Kindle, the hard copy having been sacrificed in one of my many moves.

While I had a long list of real-time reasons for moving back, not least of which was my need to be among other English writers, there is a much more poetic reason, lurking the whole time in my subconscious. So below, in  a nutshell, is why we are returning to the UK, despite the Brexit threat (which is about as alluring to expats as returning to the US with Trump in the White House) and its attendant financial and societal upheaval.

After years banging around the horse farms in the American West, Brat Farrar returns to the place of his birth, and the author explains:
 "The one good thing about the dude ranch was that you made money at it. He [Brat Farrar] had never had so much money in his life as when he finished there. He planned to go East and spend it. And then something had happened to him. The smaller, greener country in the East, the smell of spring gardens, woke in him a nostalgia for England that dismayed him. He had no intention of going back to England for years yet.
"For several restless weeks he fought the longing--it was a baby thing to want to go back--and then quite suddenly gave in."
We gave in. Simon resisted for a while, but I was ready to move back when I went for a visit in July. We  took our holiday there in August. I wanted to stay--I swear I did--and just send for our stuff, live in a tent if that's what it took. But Simon's calmer head prevailed. The removals van arrives to load our stuff in seven days, meaning packing must very soon commence.

Garden at the Minack Theatre, cut out of the cliffside, in Cornwall. A mix of sub-tropical and temperate climate plants is typical in Cornwall and parts of Devon.
Green. Fresh-smelling Devon and Cornwall. Dartmoor, the most beguiling ancient landscape, one on which I still plan someday to lie naked and soak the history of mankind into my bones. The beautiful, craggy coastline with rock pools for small dogs and big waves for surfers, and everything in between. Pubs are so unlike French brasseries; brasseries all have virtually the same menu. Pubs will all have fish and chips, all right, but they will also get creative and offer dishes completely their own.

I do not hate France. It was my error to move without complete investigation...not to mention, out of fear of the bogeyman known as Brexit (It IS going down.). And I still adore Paris...but we don't live in Paris. I might stay if we had moved there...or maybe not, as, despite its abundant attractions, it is not New York. And I am a New Yorker, first, last and totally.

I do love the French people; they are indeed friendlier and more welcoming than Brits. I like fine French food; everyday French food, not so much. I can get fine French food in the UK. I can get crappy French-style food in my own kitchen!

So back we go, tossing affirmations into the Universal Mind, or cosmic soup or whatever you want to call it, that the tenant departs, and soon, and with minimal damage. That we can soon again be happy, peaceful and among friends in the West Country, and close to Simon's few remaining birth-family relatives. In a place that offers both Eton Mess and Honeycomb ice creams (one needs to get one's priorities straight). Where summer nights are incredibly short, and summer days, when they are warm and sunny, are more welcome than the knock on the door that tells you you've won Publisher's Clearinghouse or the Lotto. (OK, I exaggerate.)

Suffice it to say that you will hear, wherever you are on earth, a huge sigh of relief when we, our dog and our belongings are back on UK soil, and a bigger one still the day we move back into our home.

A double rainbow, in Cornwall, behind our house. We moved away why??

Monday, September 18, 2017

God is everywhere

A graphic argument for the probable existence of god

And Trump isn't. Nor is the narcissistic human being currently squatting in our UK house.

I'm writing this column for me, really, but if it helps anyone else, I'll be happy about that.


I'm weathering another of the storms of human life, particularly a human life in which, apparently, the one living it has a need to experience as much good and as much bad as can be crammed into each twelve months. Me, in short.

That having been said, every bit of bad I've experienced had my hand in it; I have made some really stupid choices. However, every bit of good has had the hand of God in it. (Yes, I know. Most of you think of me as an atheist. But read on; it will become clear.)

I'm capitalizing God in order not to put some people off. Me, I don't really call the entity God; indeed, I call the entity Mind. For it is an intelligence, not a big daddy in the sky helping out good kiddies and tossing lumps of coal at bad ones. It is no less and no more than universal law, the natural laws that keep the universe going, keep it from descending into chaos. If this were not true, you would not be reading this, because chaos would, in fact, have prevented the universe from existing in the first place.

For some, including me, god is natural law, mathematics, the quantum field which cannot support chaos but MUST seek equilibrium
So, OK. Whatever you call it, when I have been attuned to Mind-God-Yahweh-Prime Mover, the tempests I've created by NOT attuning myself to the aforementioned have been quelled.

Case in point: I stupidly allowed an unreliable graphic artist to remain in my employ when I got an ad agency in a very leveraged buyout 30 years ago. He lied. He manipulated. He cheated. Finally, he stole. He had told me what he intended: "I want to have ten grand to sit on the beach for six months."  I mistook it for office banter; who doesn't want to sit on the beach for a while? But with him, it was a plan. Later, a former JAG attorney I hired told me criminals ALWAYS tell you their plans if you have the wits to listen.

Within two months of that casual conversation on a drive back from a client presentation, the little creep had forged a company check and stolen exactly ten grand. He spent part of it trying to prevent my getting it back. But I won't bother with that part. Suffice it to say that the whole thing, including his holding my assistant hostage while he tried to extort from me ALL the money in my personal bank account (a total of 3 grand that day, as I had just that week paid myself for the first time in months as I had  paid everyone else first, which is what small business owners often have to do.)  By then, I was going with god, a little. So, at the bank, I tore up the check in front of the teller and asked her to please remember the face of the man standing at my elbow.  Then I threw him and his gang of thieves out of the office. Then I called the cops.
I was, and probably still am, one of the worst for saying, Right, sure, but knowing it is--must be--true. For all of us.

And then the real fun began.

Do you know how vicious and creative crooks can be when trying to protect their ill-gotten gains? It was nightmarish for three months, during which I bought and got incredibly good at shooting a Beretta 38.

The Beretta solved nothing; I never used it but on targets. My intense worry and fear (I did say he was vicious, right? But I didn't mention he paid people off to hunt me) put my entire life on hold, and all I did--besides worry--was attempt, however miserably, to keep my mind on God/Mind, and affirm that if I got out of the way, God/Mind would put it all to rights. Oh, sure, part of it is that one must "ask believing."  For a lifelong doubter like me, a person who had found Science of Mind less than a year earlier, that was not easy. Still, when I could crawl out of the depths of despair at the hurricane of horrors (I really won't go into them) for a minute, I was like Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street, saying, "I believe, I believe. It's stupid, but I believe." Over and over and over.

A chant that calls on the jewel of creation, the lotus, in Buddhist belief

Had I done it better, perhaps it would have taken less than three months to resolve. And I would not have sacrificed that length of my life to the deepest misery and despair I have ever had or ever expected to have.

But now I'm in the same sort of soup again. Why? Because I  failed to learn the first lesson; never, ever, ever, ever give a psycho an inch, and never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever ignore your gut feelings. Those gut feelings are messages, messages that you are bumping into the negative force field of a being--usually human--you want nothing whatever to do with. Hence, the explanation of the tenant we are now trying to remove from our house. She TOLD me she was a narcissist; she tried to buy the house when we had it for sale and couldn't complete, but she blamed it on everyone but herself. Then she wanted to rent it when we decided to do that rather than sell as it suddenly seemed prudent to keep the asset during these turbulent times. I didn't trust her. But she had two cats.......Just as I protected the poor, young, graphic artist, I protected her cats. My gut told me not to trust either the artist nor the tenant, but I didn't listen.

My gut was right. Both times.

It is a little better this time, even though the law firm I have hired to assist is dragging its heels (same as the one last time did, until I pushed them, hard), and the appearance is that we--my husband and I--are screwed.

But I continue: I believe, I believe. I really do believe. No, really. OK. So I'll always be a sort of sceptic no matter how perfectly Mind works in getting all the ducks, finally, in a row without my help.
My favorite prophet, Buddha. Science of Mind borrows much of his teaching.

I decided this morning I had to go with a "God damn it" prayer. At least two Science of Mind ministers have told me that if all you can do is just say, "Damn it, God, I can't stand much more of this. Get it done," it's OK You've got to be serious about tossing your thoughts into the Universal Mind, or it might think you are not quite ready for the tempest to quell and for you to get your life back. And the "God damn it" prayer is proof positive that you're serious; you want Universal Mind to operate for everyone's greatest good and you believe it can and will.

I'm ready. Do you hear that, Mind? Those ripples of thought? Mine are totally on living in our house with my husband and dog and having friends visit, and happily forgetting this monstrous creature I fully admit I allowed into our lives. Mea culpa, a thousand times. And with it, a hundred thousand iterations of "I believe; it is done. We are restored. She has departed in ways of peace if possible, or however she chooses for herself if not. With thanks."

And so it is.

Namaste! The divine in me honors the divine in you, a Buddhist greeting.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Off with their the ballot box next time

Your future if May gets the Repeal Bill passed.
Few people understand the Repeal Bill. Here's the only truth you need to know: It would totally change  the way laws in the UK are created, giving "off with their heads" power to the Prime Minister, in this case a woman who has no more business in her job than I have running a nuclear power plant. In both cases, the disaster would likely be gargantuan.

How it works

In the UK, Primary Legislation are Acts of Parliament and must go through a long process of scrutiny and approval (or disapproval) by MPs and the House of Lords.

On the other hand, Secondary Legislation is made law often without any significant Parliamentary involvement. These laws can be quashed by the courts, however; primary legislation cannot, but can only be changed by Parliament itself.

Pretty good system; lots of input and checks and balances on the really important laws (primary), and less on the less important ones (secondary), but with the ability to remove them if the lack of scrutiny has produced a crappy law.

Gaming the system

But suppose you were a usurper of power, and thought Parliament would not rubber stamp laws you want--would not, in fact, create the primary legislation you desire. You could go with secondary legislation, as Parliament doesn't have to be involved and you could write anything. But what if Gina Miller got onto it, took it to court, and your clever little law was overturned?

If you're a despot, like May, that will never do. What to do? What to do? Your fragile ego cannot tolerate being taken to court and bested by an upstart like Gina Miller again. And of course, one must consider your promises to Nigel Farage, his overseer Putin, a raft of UK oligarchs hoping for a sewn-up financial system like Russia's....etc.

AHA! Make a secondary law that allows the Prime Minister to change primary laws. Obviously, she can't make a Primary Law that allows her to change primary laws, because she alone can't make a primary law. So she makes a secondary law that specifically allows her to alter primary laws.

Holy convolutions, Batman! Couldn't Gina Miller go to court to get that very secondary law--the one that hands the government to Theresa May on a take-away tray--quashed? One might assume she could.

Emasculating Parliament

But what if Frau Fuhrer wrote a secondary law that said it could not be overturned if it pertained to changes in a primary law? You see how this goes; Frau Fuhrer is building layers of protection against anyone being able to question the way she runs the government. I suppose it beats Kristallnacht, but not by much. The Repeal Bill is a precursor to any sort of excess Frau Fuhrer wishes to engage in, from allowing fracking in your back garden to banning anyone who ever shook hands with a Caribbean black person from remaining in the UK, to rounding up Muslims--or even the Irish--and sending them to concentration camps. 

Some, even many, MPs see the danger here. The House of Lords certainly sees it; after all, they are the last resort, generally speaking, and it would massively undermine their power to put the brakes on the loss of democracy.

But the imaginary pressure of Brexit is helping Frau Fuhrer to gather support for her scurrilous bill. Thus, she stirs the pot: What if we leave the EU without having transferred all  the EU laws into our own, thus leaving the UK with nothing to regulate business, food production, etc.? Scare tactic No. 1. But it's specious. At this point, there are still so many ways Brexit will never happen, they probably exceed the IQ of most Tories in office today. Even the current Parliament would no be so imbecilic as to attempt to run a government without a body of useful laws. To do so has a name: anarchy.

Absolute power to the absolute ninny

The only purpose of the Repeal Bill is to give Frau Fuhrer the absolute power to virtually overturn any EU law at all, at will, without the input of the MPs or the House of Lords. (And naturally, that power extends to ALL laws, not just those pertaining to the EU.)

The only time pressure, one of the spears she is using to try to ram this through, is that Frau Fuhrer wants the UK out of the EU as soon as possible so that she and her completely soul-dead cronies can make a small island into a large tax haven for hordes of oligarchs who've already begun profiting from the UK's misery. Sure, there is the imaginary date some year and a half hence, but since the referendum may yet be found to be illegal, she can't count on that. And the other members of the EU might well refuse to let the UK out of the union. So Brexit is by no means the done deal Frau Fuhrer would like us to think it is.

The US, a couple hundred years ago, had a rather large war about some states wanting to leave the union because they wanted to keep slaves, something the US would not let them do. While I doubt the EU would wage war against the UK, it won't have to. The simple fact of a veto by any other EU nation is likely to derail Brexit at the last, if the inability of Frau Fuhrer's illiterate negotiators to such much as express a principle doesn't do it first.

This is a desperate attempt by an out-of-her-depth hausfrau, living off the handouts of her financial advisor (read off-shoring) husband to gather to herself--her woefully inadequate self--decisions about what your employment rights are, what sort of protections your food has, whether your beloved can marry you and join you in the UK, etc.

The Repeal Bill must not pass. Write to your MP immediately, and tell him or her you have no desire to entertain the phrase "off with their heads" in your country, and if they do vote for it, it will be a political "off with their heads" for them next time at the ballot box.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trickle down theory; it works for cruelty

And ANY nation elected this depraved moron why?

According to the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, in the US, the person posing as the president:
  1. Creates his own media
  2. Exploits youth at a rally
  3. Endorses police brutality
  4. Demonizes people who believe, look or love differently
  5. Strips vulnerable people of their jobs, families and ability to live
  6. Thinks he should have more power. 
In the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May has introduced a bill in Parliament that would give her virtually dictatorial powers, a level of power in the hands of one person not seen in England since Henry VIII. Please note: "Off with her head" was the signal phrase of Henry's vicious reign.

But that's another story. Today, let us look, via the Anne Frank Center's list, at how the trickle down theory works for cruelty in America.
1. The Poser in the White House calls all media except that which he has created (and yes, there is now Trump TV) "fake." How is that cruel? First, his own media extols his cruel actions as good; those actions include, among other things, demonizing children brought to the US as infants, and now about to be kicked out of the only home they've ever known. The so-called "fake" news outlets, then, when they object to the Poser's lies, are discounted in the eyes of those who follow the false president. 
If the standard news media is offering what Trump calls fake, and they believe Trump, then the news media must be wrong. 
The standard news media (and human decency) says it is wrong to punish immigrant children for being brought to the US by their parents; but their claims are "fake" according to the Poser, so it's OK to be mean to those now half-grown children.  It's a convoluted process, but workable. You can't fool all of the people all of the time, but you can fool fools most of the time.

2. Exploits youth at a rally. The Poser in the White House attends a convention of young men whose avowed aim is to be helpful to others, the Boy Scouts of America. He then says horrible things about his predecessor in office, and tells with great glee about the off-color and unethical--not to say immoral--exploits of one of his rich friends, whom he presents as a "great guy." Then he whips the youngsters into a frenzy. What are they to derive from this except that it is OK to say cruel things about others in public, it is OK to act in an unethical and immoral manner and brag about it, even collect admiration because of it?

3. Endorses police brutality. The Poser has pardoned a sheriff, Joe Arpaio, whose cruelty to those arrested and whose contravention of the legal system and constitutional guarantees is legendary. What are people to think except that it is now all right to decide to follow only those laws that accord with their biases, even if their biases are cruel? After all, the Poser made it acceptable.

4. Demonizes people who believe, look or love differently. Look no farther than the Poser's incredibly cruel, carried-on-national-TV imitation of a journalist who has a disability. What do people get from this? That mocking those who are different from the expected norm--REGARDLESS OF THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS--is acceptable. If it's OK to be cruel to the disabled, then it is equally acceptable to be cruel to those of other races and nationalities. The Poser went for the lowest possible cruelty--the only way it could have been more cruel was if he was mocking a black homosexual Buddhist from Mexico--opening cruelty as a universal panacea for the frustrations of his followers.

5. Strips vulnerable people of their jobs, families and ability to live. Even the most widely touted "success" of the Poser's job creation, Carrier Corp., is cutting jobs. The Poser has done virtually nothing for job creation; every time he crows about how great "his" economy is, he is really talking about the one his predecessor built over eight strenuous years after Mr. Obama's predecessor had pushed the US to the brink of another great recession. 
Even Mr. Obama couldn't turn around an economy in less than 8 months. The Poser has claimed from day one and to the present that the economy Mr. Obama built was built by the Poser. In days, then weeks, then months. It's a fiscal and physical impossibility, even if the Poser had the wits to do it, to turn an economy around literally  before one assumes office. 
In addition, the Poser is pushing for greater tax cuts for the rich, which will mean the poor will get less than they get now; you can't get blood from a stone, nor money from those who have none. 
And then there's his vow to overturn DACA, the program that allows young people brought to the US as infants to obtain citizenship. He is destroying lives and families, and pouring his excremental vomitus of anti-social activities over the nation's immigrant youth. Worse, he is literally pulling the rug out from under them--making their hard work and education count for nothing in a New York minute--and it doesn't get a whole lot more cruel than that. He is a role model for every marginally socialized racist in the nation, and his cruelty is trickling down.

Wealth and well-being does not trickle down. But there is no question about cruelty trickling down: it does. No millionaire is willing to let his/her ill-gotten gains trickle down, but most of them are willing to kick their own household staff, who in turn kick the infinitum. The Poser has taken it to another level, enlisting the lowest on the ladder to engage in trickling cruelty over those few even lower, or blacker, or more disabled, or more foreign than they.

6. He thinks he should have more power.  On what planet.....?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Compassion for lying tenants? What? Are you stoo-pid?

Sure does. When it's a landlord giving the benefit of the doubt to a tenant, the landlord's life goes to hell. Save compassion for animal rescue and the like, not for business. ANY business.

Compassion: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

Synonyms include pity, sympathy, fellow feeling, empathy, understanding, care, concern, mercifulness, leniency, charity, and a few more, none of which are highly active concepts. 

Sign all landlords in the UK need to have on their backs, in case there are any tenants who need instructions.

And therein lies a tale

One can feel charitable toward someone else without putting one's own head on the block, awaiting the guillotine to fall.

When we moved to France, we decided to rent out our house when it didn't sell in a timely manner, and then, we thought, if we didn't like France, we could return when the lease was up.

As it happens, we don't like France, having found it to be far different from what we thought it was before we moved. But that's another story and has more to do with us than with the French, who are great. (It's a lifestyle issue.)

When we had our UK house for sale, a lady tried to buy it for a ridiculous price, but  finally came up with a barely acceptable offer, which we accepted. Then, after we had the house off the market for weeks and weeks awaiting conveyance to her, she confessed that she couldn't get a mortgage. 

When we listed the house for rent, she applied. With her partner. Together, they could afford it; alone, she can't.

He split, stopped paying his half of the rent, and our agent has had to chase him. So, we issued a legal notice that her lease would not be renewed and she needed to leave the day it was up.

She has refused to do so. We are now faced with a lengthy (between three and six months) process through the UK courts to get her out. We can recover our expenses and any rent owed if we can find her, take her to court again, and garnish her wages. 

What has this got to do with compassion? 

I mistakenly thought it was a verb, not a noun. So I cited compassion as my reason for renting to her--despite her erratic behaviour when buying--because she has two cats and it is hard to find a landlord who will rent to people with two cats. We had had a cat, now deceased, ourselves and the house and garden were all set up for cats.

Now she has said she won't move out because she can't find a temporary lodging--she has asserted she is buying a house but we have seen no proof, and then there's her track record on that--because who would rent to her with two cats and a son.

A SON? Both she and her partner said on the application--and signed said application--that they had no children. NO CHILDREN. Neither minor nor adult. And now she won't move out because of her son, who really cannot be a minor if her age was accurately reported on a skip-tracing site I visited and he really was a teenager six years ago when she referred to him online as her "grumpy teenager"  might make it hard for her to rent something for the interim. 

Compassion is an attitude, not an instruction to give skanks unfettered access to things one has struggled for and loves such a one's house, to one's bank account, to one's peace of mind. To anything.  

Compassion is possibly the single most useless emotional state that can show up in a business deal. No, wait. It is less than useless; it is toxic.

Twice foolish

I hate to admit, this is not the first time my compassion has got the better of me. Years ago when I was buying rental buildings as a business--not my own home--I accepted one building fully tenanted as opposed to delivered empty, as many rental properties are delivered in the US where I then lived. When assessing the building, I assumed the first-floor tenant, who had her kids' drawings on the fridge and was a single mom, was fine. I wanted to help her and not make her move before closing because she was a single mom.

At closing, the seller told me she was famous. How so? Her ex-boyfriend, a brutal criminal whose photo had graced the cover of Time magazine, had shot her, ruining her elbow. He had killed her boss. She was a social worker, which is how she had met him. During her tenancy, she called me on a chilly Saturday in November saying there was no heat. How could that be? I had had 650 gallons of furnace fuel delivered earlier that week. I went to the apartment to meet the Health Department inspector to whom she had complained. He was about to fine me, when I whipped out my receipt for the fuel and told him only two two people had keys to the basement door: she and I. She had one because her kids' bikes were stored there. It probably came in handy when she sold off the fuel. 

I did not get fined. I also told her to buy a space heater because I wasn't having an emergency delivery charge for a weekend and more fuel would be supplied on Monday, and she could give me the key and store the bikes in the foyer. 

A few weeks later, she called the cops, having accused my husband of writing rude things on her in yellow paint outside the house. Again, I drove to the place to meet the cops. By the time I got there, he had already weaseled it out of her two skanky offspring that they had taken the paint a few weeks earlier--from the basement--and decided to use it that way in retaliation for being cold for a weekend. Please recall, their MOTHER had made them cold for a weekend by stealing and selling the furnace fuel.

I should have insisted on an investigation and had her arrested for the first incident. Or certainly the second. But I just evicted her instead, a much, much easier process in New York than in the UK.

By that time, my compassion was worn out, though, and I didn't feel anything but relief when she was gone. Shortly, I sold the building to the young man who rented that flat after her. I had had enough.

No more Mr. Nice Guy 

Now? I've had more than enough. I've had a feast. And today, I read a UK landlord blog which advised "when dealing with tenants it is best to act on the basis that they will not keep their word."

Well, that makes it easy. We were considering having our solicitor ascertain if there was any truth to her claims to be wanting just a little more time as she is buying a house. Wait...hadn't we heard that before?

Compassion. Useless when doing business. I believe that when a liar or con artist (see stories above) gets a whiff of empathy or sympathy off you, just open your checkbook and start writing. Reach into your pocket and take out a tissue. Open the liquor cabinet and pour out a stiff drink, because you're going to need it.

Fortunately, we brought back with us to France a large bottle of Hendricks gin from our recent trip to Open Season on Landlords Land, the UK.

Copyright 2017, Laura Harrison McBride

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Zen of Neutralizing Donald J. Trump

I have been obsessed, along with every other decent human being I know, with bashing Donald J. Trump. Indeed, until today, I have  rarely used his name since Nov. 8, 2016 but only such things as Cheeto, 45 and so on to deny his corrupted ego its desired stroking. But with what I am about to say,  the universal mind (or you can say Great Spirit in the Sky, or God, or whatever you call the animating force of all that is) needs to know who is in question here, and so do you. If we are going to use quantum physics and actually change things by thought alone, then we had better be quite sure about what it is we are changing.

That having been said, a short primer on thought power for those new to it, via a few quotes:

1. The greatest force is derived from the power of thought. The finer the element, the more powerful it is. The silent power of thought influences people even at a distance, because mind is one as well as many. The universe is a cobweb; minds are spiders.
Swami Vivekananda

2. It's not the situation that's causing your stress, it's your thoughts, and you can change that right here and now. You can choose to be peaceful right here and now. Peace is a choice, and it has nothing to do with what other people do or think.
Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD

3.  The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results.
~ Norman Vincent Peale

4.  And finally, Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

This is the most important. THIS is the one that will allow you, once you believe it, to effect change without lifting a finger, railing against the fates or any other non-quantum nonsense.

The most perfect mind we know of

What mind, then, was the author of Philippians talking about? The mind that could quell a storm with a word, create wine from water with a thought. Raise the dead with a thought. Change the course of western civilizations with his thoughts.

I have studied Religious Science, also known as Science of Mind, for about 35 years now. And I'm finally beginning to get the hang of it; my useless "real world" teaching--the same that most of  us had unless our parents were Buddhist monks--gets in the way of my understanding the quantum physics that is, in fact, the only reality. A thought is energy and can be measured, just like electricity. Energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transmuted. Thus, the Religious Science belief that "thoughts are things." The power of thought is measured most easily by effects.


Simple demonstration. A little kid said, "Daddy, but what if I fall?" the first time she used her new ice skates. She was thinking FALL not SKATE. Thoughts are things. Before her father could grab her tiny hand, she had fallen. She thought FALL; she fell. BTW, the kid was me.

Did that convince me? Hell, no. It has taken years and years and years of practice for me to get to actually using what I know to be true; thoughts are things. Or sometimes events.
 OK. Here's another one, real life, real time. A butterfly just came in my office window, fluttered around for a minute, and left.

I have never seen any insects in this office except mosquitoes and stinging bees. Why? Because until today, when I came upon the magical thought of releasing Trump, my thoughts ran more to JAIL TRUMP. MELT THE FAT ASSHOLE. Etc.

The butterfly was, I think, drawn by the more peaceful atmosphere in my office, which is on the top floor of a tall French house, above where butterflies would usually flit around.

I didn't come to the Zen-Trump thing directly, though. I came to it via my intense and debilitating upset at the moment about the horrific tenant infesting our house in the UK, making the move back from France both upsetting and expensive. Lawyers will be involved, and because the deadbeat squatter is refusing to leave, and we have no idea how long the courts will take, we have to rent something while she enjoys the fruits of our labours if we want to move back to the UK in a timely manner. So finally, I said, yes, I have to release her to her fate. It was a revelation...but it has obviously not yet sunk in. I'm working on it. I know it works. I've done it before.

When you pray....

I am making the needed moves in the world, just as we need to make the needed moves--such as writing to Congress--about Trump. Release is a form of prayer, and as the Amish say, when you pray, move your feet.

More examples: 

I had to release my dedication to independence before my husband appeared. I had to release my desire for a Thoroughbred horse before me beloved Quarter Horse, Major Yeats, appeared. I had to release my distress at an injured tendon before it would heal; right, as of today, after a year and a half, it is beginning to heal. Why? Because I released the need for the pain. Whatever that need was.

So there it is, folks. We have to release Trump to his fate. By hating him so much (which is reasonable of course), we are holding his presence near us, with us, around us.

So chant, three times a day: I release Donald J. Trump to his fate.
By the way, this works on the universe's timetable, not yours. It might be quick, or you might have to exercise patience.

Also imagine Trump as a bubble floating to the top of a pool of water, and bursting into nothingness when reaching the surface. I must imagine the renter situation the same way. And the pain of my injury.

I've got my work cut out for me. But so do you. If you have fewer than three issues of various distress in your life, you are either exceedingly lucky, or you know a whole lot more about release than I do.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Brexit: The 3 top reasons Leavers are dumber than Trump

Boris Johnson, poster boy for all that's wrong with the Tories, Brexit and public school boys--and Leavers followed the fool
People had all sorts of excuses for voting Leave in last summer's ill-conceived referendum, an instrument of public import that was no more well-thought-out than the average questionnaire regarding your preference in hand soap slipped into your grocery bag. And that's about how much influence it should have had on UK politics.

But of course, the Tory party is nothing if not a collection of useless public school boys looking for love/more money anyplace they can find it. So they elevated their schoolboy search for love in all the wrong places to a position of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE, when, really, they were just masturbating because they couldn't get the bankroll of their dreams without working for it. We should have washed our hands of their juvenile prank, and then told them to go wash theirs...since they had been busy masturbating for more than six years.

However, they quickly spread their whining throughout a group of voters who were also not feeling the love.

 Of course those voters weren't feeling the love;  Tories, who equate money directly with love, had put those voters on an austerity diet so the Tories themselves could rake off more from what are meant to be public coffers--the NHS, education, housing. Or privatise functions, and give those functions to their poor friends, the ones living on less than 500K a year.

At referendum time, the Tories were bloated with money, but they were starved for power; the peasants were starved for love. All this made a perfect storm for vampires named Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Jeremy Hunt, Theresa May and a small nest of additional vipers, most of them figuratively or literally under the thumb of Vladimir Putin. Chief among the Putin dupes is, of course, Nigel Farage. 

Luckily for the Tories, and unluckily for the nation, when peasants are starved for love, they'll even take a known abuser into the house. Which they did. In droves. (Fortunately, they began to see how badly they were likely to get bashed, so turned a goodly number of them out recently. Unfortunately, they replaced the vipers with a large, two-mouthed rat named Jeremy Corbyn and his little ratling of a completely useless Labour party.)

But, on to the meat of it all, the reasons Leavers are dumber than Trump

No. 1, then and now: Because of the £350 million for the NHS.

Crap quotient: 100%. Did they really think the EU was going to say the UK could just walk away without paying something, like all its neighbours, for the privilege of 70 years of peace? For cleaner oceans and air? For being a destination beloved of global tourists? For building an intertwined economy that can hold its own regardless of what former superpower US was up to? And, of course, German-nationality seeker/Putin BFF-wannabe Nigel Farage lied about it from the start. Could Leave voters not figure out that a man who failed to become an MP seven times, finally made it as an MEP and proceeded to bite the hand that feeds him--the EU--was no damn good? And therefore anything he tried to push on them was no damn good? Can you spell astonishingly credulous? (No, well, look it up.)

Sir Alec Issigonis, Greek-born inventor of the beloved Mini

No. 2,  then and now: Because foreigners are taking our jobs.

Crap quotient: 100%. Who is it picking those crops, emptying those bedpans? Right, you are. You aren't? Really? Wot's that then? Yer on the dole and it would go away if you took a job. But you didn't want those filthy immigrants to do it. And now you think completing a Brexit would fix things? About the same way another hammer blow fixes a broken clock.

No. 3, then and now: Because...sovereignty.

Crap quotient: 100%.  No matter that most of you have no clue what it means and couldn't manage to have any if you were tossed out of your Council house on your butt with no job and no benefits either. Sovereignty means control of your own destiny. Possibly you can tell me how a nation that runs itself, as the UK does, has lost its sovereignty. It cannot lose it by cooperating for mutual good with its neighbours, any more than you lose your individual sovereignty if you agree with your neighbor that you'll grow tomatoes because your soil is good for that, and he'll grow beets because his soil is good for that. And then you'll share, and together sell off any excess. Or, if your crops fail, you'll arrange to buy some from someone else at a good price.  Cooperation does not equal loss of sovereignty; it equals being a responsible member of a peaceful community, which sometimes requires compromise. Not loss of sovereignty; compromise.  Look it up.

Copyright 2017 by Laura Harrison McBride

Along came a spider...

  This is as bad as it is going to get. Even I couldn't look at a real spider on purpose. I really wanted a pink cartoon spider, but t...