Bigfoot Hunting Licenses? Seriously?

Yep. Seriously. According to an article entitled, “Oklahoma May Soon Have an Official Bigfoot Hunting Season – and a $25K Prize for Catching It”, there is actually an Oklahoma Representative named Justin Humphrey who has authored a bill in the state legislature to make this happen.

He’s a Republican. ‘Nuff said.

His motives appear to be pure, albeit misguided. He claims he simply wants to attract more tourism to Oklahoma. It would also create revenue for the state. He claims that people are already calling him for these licenses so they can frame them on their wall.

The bill specifies that these licenses would only allow hunters to trap Bigfoot, not kill him, but it would come with a $25,000 bounty for anyone who succeeds. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, where to begin.

Picture this. You get a bunch of overexcited hunters wandering about in the Oklahoma woods, setting up traps to catch large man-shaped creatures. They’re foolish enough to believe Bigfoot actually exists, so it’s not a big stretch of the imagination that they might get trigger happy and accidentally shoot a large man-shaped creature. This bill could backfire on Rep. Humphrey, because any large man would be well advised to avoid the Oklahoma woods if the bill passes.

And, just playing devil’s advocate here, let’s say Bigfoot exists. (Bigfoot DOES NOT exist, you muppet!!!!) If he does, clearly he’s an endangered species, or we’d be seeing him everywhere. Do you really think it is cool to trap the hairy guy and take him away from his mate, only to have him wind up in a circus sideshow or a zoo or lying on an autopsy table somewhere?

Poor Bigfoot. He just wants to be left alone.

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Ancient Teamwork

I just stumbled upon a CNN article entitled “Mammoth traps containing remains of 14 of the giant creatures discovered in Mexico”. It went on to say that anthropologists found a man-made trench in Tultepec, Mexico that was 5½ feet deep and 82 feet long. In it were mammoth bones, one even arranged symbolically, as well as the remains of camels and a horse. This trap is said to be 15,000 years old.

Creating something like that took a lot of planning and digging. It required vision. It required trust. It took imagination and teamwork and delayed gratification.

And then once the thing was built, they had to strategize and work together in the hunt. They had to drive these animals toward the trap, most likely with torches. Everyone would have had to have been on the same page.

Afterward, there was a lot of meat to share out. The article states that the tongue of a mammoth alone could weigh more than 26 pounds. And they also used the bones for tools. People would have had to communicate and agree to various work roles and outcomes.

And yet, when we think of “cavemen”, we still tend to imagine them grunting, and living nasty, dirty, brutish lives. Lest we forget, if it weren’t for their survival skills, none of us would be here today. And anthropologists have found art, musical instruments, tools, and ritual burials that attest to their sophistication as well.

These people did more than just grunt. Now there’s a trench in Mexico to prove it.

Photo by HO_INAH_AFP via Getty Images
Photo by HO_INAH_AFP via Getty Images

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Coyotes Killing Cats

I know what it’s like to lose a pet. It’s heartbreaking. They are a part of your family, and the loss is felt keenly.

But.

Pets are also your responsibility. If your Pitt Bull is running around loose and bites a someone, that’s on you. If your boa constrictor gets loose and swallows the neighbor’s poodle, that’s on you. If your cat is allowed to roam free and gets killed by a coyote, that’s also on you. That coyote is only doing what coyotes do. (And your cat was probably killing songbirds anyway. It’s a cat.) Keep your cat inside and coyotes won’t be an issue.

I get so frustrated when people complain about coyotes. “Coyotes Killing Cats” is a frequent topic on my local Nextdoor.com page. It’s the coyotes’ territory as much as it is ours. They have every bit as much right to survive as we do. It would be great if they could live far away from people and feed on things that we are not emotionally attached to, but we’ve made it all but impossible for them to do that.

When people’s pets start disappearing, there’s always a call to kill the coyotes. It makes me sick. If you allow your pets to roam free, you need to be willing to live with the consequences.

I can hear the coyotes howling in the park behind my house on many nights. I think it’s a lovely sound. And I never let my dachshund outside from dusk to dawn without supervision, even if our yard is fenced, and I’ve never seen a coyote inside that fence. Because that’s what a responsible pet owner should do.

Coyote

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Another Disappearing Drawbridge

As a bridgetender, I tend to take it personally when a drawbridge disappears. And it happens all too often. Lower drawbridges get replaced by much taller, fixed spans. People lose their livelihood. And the neighborhood loses a great deal of its character. Folks blast on past without even slowing down anymore. They don’t take in the view. It’s tragic.

So when I saw this article entitled How drawbridge is drowning, I had that first, visceral reaction. Oh no. Not another one. Then I discovered that this story isn’t about a drawbridge. (Well, actually, it is, and it isn’t. You’ll see.)

Drawbridge, California started off with a population of one. George Mundersheitz’s cabin was built there in 1876, so that he could operate the two railroad swing bridges in the area. They were about a half mile apart, and George would walk to each one and hand crank them as needed to let vessels through. That must have been a real pain in inclement weather. And it must have been a very lonely existence.

But it seems that George was an enterprising man, because by 1880, that part of San Francisco Bay had become a duck hunting mecca of sorts, now that there was railroad access, and George started charging people 50 cents a night to stay in his cabin.

Eventually the unincorporated town was named by the railroad, as was often the case, and this place became known as Drawbridge. At its height in 1928, it had 90 cabins and 2 hotels, and hundreds of ducks were shot in the area every single day.

The town never had a city council or a school or law enforcement of any kind. And even with that small population, there were divisions. On the south side of town, people were Catholic. The Protestants dominated the north side. The two groups rarely mixed.

Unfortunately, Drawbridge was not sustainable. The duck population predictably declined, and the marshland began to sink as area metropolises undermined the watershed. The navigable waters began to silt up, and there was no longer a need for a drawbridge. The tides did not clear away the sewage like they used to, and the place began to stink. Needless to say, swimming and fishing drastically declined. And people got tired of having to raise their cabins as their foundations sank with the marsh. Trains no longer stopped in Drawbridge by 1955.

As residency declined, looters came in with annoying frequency. The last resident, Charles Luce, became known for driving people away with a shotgun. He left in 1979 when he was bought out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Now no one goes to Drawbridge. It’s surrounded by salt lakes, and most of the buildings have been burned by looters or have rotted into the ground. As the waters rise due to climate change, the island itself will disappear entirely, and only those of us who are fascinated by history will even know that there was once a thriving community in this unforgiving place.

Rest in peace, Drawbridge. Rest in peace.

The ghost town of Drawbridge
Drawbridge, California’s first building: The bridgetender’s cabin.

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Hunting for Unicorns

I have always wanted a man who would actually listen to me when I talked. One who treated me with respect. Someone I could be proud of, due to his integrity, decency, honesty, kindness, and intelligence. A mentally healthy, confident, age appropriate, dog loving, nonsmoking, liberal guy. (Bonus points for being child-free and taller than me.)

Pfft. What are the odds of that? I mean, come on. Just the “listening” part excludes most of the world’s population. And finding someone who met all those criteria and then, on top of that, was also attracted to me — inherently flawed, overweight me… I may as well be wishing for a unicorn.

So, my whole life I set the bar lower. And sure enough, I always wound up with less than what I wanted or needed. Funny how that works.

But the older and lonelier I got, the more I started to think, what the hell, I may as well hold out for the unicorn. And if the unicorn never materializes, well, then, I’ll just do me. (I strongly suspected I’d be doing me for the rest of my life.)

But let’s just say, for a moment, that unicorns really do exist. Yes, they’d be rare. But what if they’re really out there? How would you find one?

Well, first of all, you have to be able to describe what one looks like, to you, at least. Done. See above.

Next, you have to feel that you’re deserving of a unicorn’s company. No self-respecting unicorn is going to hook up with just anyone. You have to be special. It took me a long time (I’m talking decades), to feel that I was unicorn-worthy.

Once you’ve achieved that level of self-respect, you need to start spending time in places where unicorns might hang out. Surround yourself with good, decent, loving people. Do not waste your time with fools. Don’t hang out in bars or places where you aren’t forming strong, long-lasting bonds.

And it’s important to be ever-vigilant. That unicorn might be right in front of you, and you just haven’t noticed. (Hard to believe, I know, but be open to the possibility.)

Once you’ve spotted a unicorn, it’s important to be patient. These things can’t be forced or rushed. They’re too important. Calmly state your intentions, and then, if the unicorn wants to come to you, he will. If he doesn’t, the horn is probably fake, anyway.

So did I find my unicorn? I believe I finally have. And may I never forget how magical it is to be by his side.

unicorn

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The Trump Presidential Library

No matter how this train wreck that is our current presidency plays out, there will one day be a Trump Presidential Library. I mean, Nixon had one. Trump will not be left out. Andrew Carnegie is probably spinning in his grave.

What would this library look like? I mean, Trump is the poster child for everything libraries are against. Misinformation. Lies. Disdain for science. Inequality. Prejudice in its many forms. Closed-mindedness. Ignorance. Illiteracy. Avoidance of research. Elitism. Suppression of information. Not doing your damned homework.

What could this man possibly contribute to a library?

I’m sure there would be vast sections of porn. He objectifies women. And there would be comic books, too, because he has the attention span of a squirrel. There would be stacks devoted to nothing but copies of everything that had been ghost written in his name, as well as every interview he had ever done, and every photograph that was ever taken of him. There would be vast archives devoted to nothing but his tweets. Oddly, even the insulting and embarrassing things would be included, because it doesn’t matter as far as he’s concerned, as long as it’s about him.

There would be no section on religion, and nobody would seem to notice.

The whole place would be gilded, and over-the-top baroque architecture would be the order of the day. So much so, in fact, that it would take the focus away from the books, because really, who needs to read in this day and age, right?

There would be an Ivanka Trump shoe display, with ability to order them on line, and stuffed and mounted evidence of the many things his sons have shot. And a life sized statue of Trump, sitting on a throne, so you could take your picture whilst sitting on his lap.

Storytelling classes would be held regularly, with an emphasis on fictional narratives told with confidence and a complete lack of remorse.

And on every shelf, whether it belonged there or not, there would be at least one Russian book. “We have no idea how it got there, but…”

There would be an outrageous admission fee to enter the Trump Presidential Library, and you’d have to be a white male. And where would Trump choose to build this edifice to ignorance? On the grounds of Mar-a-Lago, where else?

That’s the only bright spot. Because then when non-existent global warming truly kicks in, we’ll all have the pleasure of watching this monument to pomposity sink into the sea, much like his ill-fated presidency. Good riddance.

Trump

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The Importance of Love Letters

 

When trying to buy a house, I cannot overstress the importance of standing out from the crowd. Even though there were multiple bidders on the house I’m about to buy, and my bid wasn’t the highest, I was the only one who wrote them a “love letter”, and that strongly influenced their decision.

So, without further ado, what follows is a conglomeration of several of the love letters I sent out during this home buying process. Feel free to adapt it to your needs if you are house hunting yourself. Just make sure you substitute personal details about you and the house in question, so they won’t feel like it’s a form letter. Good luck!

________________________________

To the owners of

xxxxxxxxxx

Hello!

In addition to making an offer on your lovely house, I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself.

I am a 52 year old woman who is searching for a place to call home. 3 years ago, I thought I had all that. I lived in Florida with Chuck, the love of my life, and we had wonderful plans for the future. And then I got a call from the sheriff’s department saying that they had found his body, still clutching his asthma inhaler, in his truck in the pharmacy parking lot two blocks from home. My whole world came crashing down around me in that instant.

For a few months I walked through life, completely numb, trying to live the life I had before, but it wasn’t working. For one thing, I had to pass that pharmacy parking lot every day on the way to work. So when a friend told me about a bridgetending job in Seattle, I thought, “What have I got to lose that I haven’t already lost?” So I applied. To my shock, I got the job. I had never been to Washington in my whole life. I didn’t know anyone here. But I was in need of a do-over. So I packed up all my stuff, said good-bye to friends and family, and drove across country.

Since then, I’ve been renting a house just North of Seattle, but I fear that with annual rent increases, I will soon be living well beyond my means. So it’s time to become a homeowner.

When I saw your place, it looked like home to me. I want an oasis. I want somewhere I can call “Tranquility Base.” Your home definitely has that kind of Feng Shui about it, as I’m sure you know. I love the garden, and can already imagine my heirloom tomatoes and squash and carrots there. I also want to plant things that will attract bees and butterflies and hummingbirds. I can see myself practically living in the back yard. And the sound of the koi pond as I approached gave me this incredible feeling of calm before I even opened the door. You’ve really done an amazing job making that house a home.

I also wanted to say that I love your style. I wouldn’t even want or need to change a single wall color! And anyone who owns a digeridoo has got to be cool. I almost wish you weren’t leaving because you guys would make great friends. I can feel it from your spirituality.

Anyway, you may get higher offers. In fact, I’m kind of sure you will. But please know that if you accept mine, I will make this house a home again, and will give it all the respect and love that it deserves. I hope it will be the last address I ever have.

That, and you’ll be helping me begin to live again.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.

Sincerely,

Welcome_mat_2

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Keep your Children Safe: Think Like a Pedophile

Controversial title, I know. But hear me out.

Charish Perriwinkle, 8 years old, is dead. Most of you will not have even heard of her. She was abducted from a Walmart here in Jacksonville, Florida, and within hours her body was found and her abductor was apprehended. He was a serial pedophile, someone who should never have been allowed the freedom to continue hunting. Moot point, because hunt he did.

I always hate it when abduction news stories lay the blame at the feet of the parents, because there’s really only so much you can do when there’s a monster on the prowl. But there are some disturbing lessons to be learned from Charish’s tragic end.

First of all, her abductor befriended the family that very day at a Dollar General store, and offered to meet the whole family at the Walmart to buy them clothes, and her mother accepted. That’s an astoundingly dangerous amount of trust to put in a total stranger, but then I know what it’s like to be poor and desperate. So I’ll give her the benefit of a doubt on that one.

But what I have a much harder time accepting is that once they were all in the Walmart, shopping away as you do, the creep offers to buy them all some hamburgers, and the mother allowed him to take Charish with him. Alone. And she didn’t get worried until they had been gone for a half hour.

Pedophile avoidance 101: Do NOT let your child walk off with a virtual stranger. Duh. That seems like common sense to me. But then, maybe I’m better at putting myself into the twisted mind of a pedophile than some people are. But parents need to learn to think like a predator in order to make sure their children are not the victim of the hunt. If you are a parent, a certain level of paranoia is not only acceptable, it’s required. So here are some tips. (And before you hurl verbal tomatoes at me, note that I’m saying you should THINK like a pedophile, not ACT like one.)

  • If you are a pedophile, you’re going to want to put yourself in places where you have access to children. I always find drivers of ice cream trucks highly suspect. I look askance at men who hang around public pools or playgrounds. And if you see someone chatting up the kiddies at the school bus stop, you’d be well advised to interrogate that person. And I don’t care how lost you are, if you feel the need to drive up to a child and roll down your window to ask for, well, ANYTHING, then that’s an enormous red flag. If you’re lost, ask an adult, or risk having your eyes scratched out by me or someone like me. Yes, all of this is profiling at its worst, but you know what? I could care less. Your child is too much to lose. And if the person is truly innocent, then he or she shouldn’t be offended that you are questioning their behavior and putting your child’s safety above all else.
  • Do your due diligence. Unless you know someone inside and out, for years on end, do not, repeat, DO NOT let your child go anywhere or do anything with that person alone. In fact, you’ve got to question why a person would want to spend time alone with a small child that isn’t their own.
  • Meet the parents of your children’s friends. Just because someone is a parent does not make him or her trustworthy.
  • Lock your doors and windows, close your curtains at night and leave your bedroom doors open so you can hear as much as possible. If you can’t afford a security system, I’d even consider putting a portable motion detector that triggers an alarm at a height that’s taller than your child so he or she doesn’t trigger it, but not taller than an adult. Aim it right over your child’s bed, and turn it on every night without fail. You can get them at Radio Shack. As a matter of fact, if you’re not a parent but know someone who is, this would make a great gift.
  • Teach your children. Sadly, “stranger danger” isn’t enough, because abusers are often relatives or friends. Teach your children about good touch and bad touch. Teach them to always talk to you about things, even if someone tells them they shouldn’t. Teach them to be safe. Mind you, there is a difference between making them feel insecure and constantly afraid and teaching them that safety is important and it’s everyone’s responsibility. Even theirs.
  • Don’t ignore your inner voice. If something inside is telling you that someone is creepy or suspect, err on the side of caution.
  • Participate in the National Child ID Program so that your child can be easily identified if the worst should happen.
  • When in public, do not let your child out of your sight. I once saw a toddler wandering around a large public library. No parent anywhere in the vicinity. This kid was in the same room as the homeless people who come to get out of the heat and use the internet to look at soft porn. I walked up to the kid and said, “Where’s your mommy, honey?” and he burst into tears. Even though the child was wailing, it took what felt like 5 minutes for the mother to wander out of the stacks to find the kid, and she didn’t seem the list bit concerned. It took everything in me not to slap that woman across the face. Twice.
  • For the love of God, do not sexualize your children. When I see parents entering their kids into those beauty contests, putting them in sexy little outfits, covering them with makeup and teaching them to blow kisses at strangers, I want to vomit. When children are allowed to wear clothes that are not age appropriate, it makes me shudder. Children should not be dressed to attract. You never know what you’re attracting. And what lesson are you teaching? That your looks are a commodity for manipulation? That’s a twisted and dangerous mindset.
  • If your state has a sex offender’s database as mine does, look up your neighborhood. You’ll be horrified to see how many live near you. Print out their files. Memorize their faces and addresses. And if you suspect that that person no longer lives at that address, report it to the authorities, because chances are that criminal has taken flight and is re-offending. (There’s an address near my house that looks abandoned to me, and a sex offender supposedly lives there. I’ve reported this to the police, but that address is still the one listed for this guy, and that disturbs me greatly.)
  • Pedophiles LOVE the internet. Pay close attention to what your child does on line. Your child should not be talking to anyone whom you do not know personally. Period.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • As a parent, trust should not be your default position when someone enters your sphere. Trust should have to be earned, and it shouldn’t be easy.

I know it takes energy to be on alert 24 hours a day, but this world isn’t a safe place, and your children are too precious to put at risk.

school safety

(Image credit: pasadenausd.org)