Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rest In Peace Harambe

      I have watched with fascination and horror the videos of Harambe the silverback male gorilla interacting with the 3 year old boy who crawled into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo this past week.  By now you probably know that the zookeepers made the difficult decision to shoot Harambe in order to prevent him from harming the boy.  I’m sure you’ve heard the outcry from every angle: why did the zookeepers shoot Harambe rather than try to lure him away?  Why were the parents not watching the child more closely?  Why are there gorillas in captivity in a zoo anyway? Why? Why? Why?

     Some are saying that Harambe was not trying to hurt the boy.  At times he seemed almost gentle, hovering over the boy as if “protecting” him, holding his hand, and when the boy tried to scoot away, pulling him in closer so he could not escape.  But there are also moments when he was agitated, grabbing the boy by the leg and dragging him through the moat, the boy’s head bouncing off the cement.  After that particular incident the boy sat as if in a daze, probably seeing stars.

    It’s probably true that Harambe was not intentionally trying to hurt the child.  If he had wanted to, he could have snapped the boy's neck in an instant.  But it’s hard to spend time with a 400 pound gorilla without getting hurt. After just 10 minutes of “play” the boy had already suffered a concussion.  It’s hard to tell what Harambe would have done with the child if he’d been allowed to “play” with him much longer. He was obviously fascinated with the boy and didn’t quite know what to make of him, and he didn’t want to give him up.  (I’d be curious to know if male gorillas in the wild interact with their babies and treat them gently.)

     What were the alternatives to killing Harambe? Someone could have snuck into the enclosure and tried to steal the boy away. I doubt that would have worked. Harambe had already laid claim to the boy and probably wouldn’t have given him up without a fight.  They could have waited for Harambe to tire of the boy, but who knows how long that would have taken, and how beat up the boy would have been by then?   They already said that tranquilizing Harambe would have taken time and may have agitated him more before he became unconscious.

    It’s sad that an innocent beast had to die just because he was being curious and doing what came naturally.  The boy never should have been in the enclosure in the first place. If my child was expressing persistent interest in crawling into a cage with a male gorilla (which onlookers say that he was), you can bet I’d be the one dragging him in the opposite direction for a good talking to or spanking if necessary.  But it’s too late for that. Harambe is gone. 

    What are the lessons we can learn from this sad event?  1.) Watch your kids, all of them, no matter how many you have.  It’s your responsibility as a parent.  It only takes a moment for them to put themselves or someone else in danger.  2.) Don’t assume anything is 100% fail safe.  For 38 years nobody penetrated that enclosure but it only took a 3 year old a few minutes to do so. 3.) When it comes down to it and a choice has to be made, be thankful that there is someone level headed and decisive enough in the vicinity to make the right choice and do the hard thing to save you or your child.  4.) After it’s all over, ignore all the self-righteous protesters who don’t know anything at all about male gorillas.



Sunday, May 29, 2016

You Can Take It With Europe

    There's an old saying in this part of the world that says "you can't take it with you."  It means that you can't take your money with you when you die so you might as well spend it and enjoy life now.  This has come to play in my life recently when my 16 year old son was nominated to be a "band ambassador" to Europe. That means that he has been invited to join an honors orchestra and tour 8 countries in Europe next summer, sightseeing and performing in London, Paris, Venice, Switzerland, Austria, and several other cities. It sounds like a great opportunity for a youngster to see the world!  The only catch is the price, which equals about 1 month's worth of my wages per person.
     When my husband and I attended the information meeting, we thought the price would be about half of what it actually turned out to be.   But oh well, what the heck!  My usually thrifty husband threw all caution to the wind and said "I think we should all go."  (Adults are invited to participate also, for a slightly higher fee.)
     So now we are considering taking a European vacation that costs 20 times what we normally spend on our trips. Up until now we have traveled in the eastern half of the U.S., only venturing as far as a one day drive could take us from our home base which is in Ohio.  (I hate long car trips.)  We have gone as far north as Vermont and as far south as Virginia, and never left the U.S.A.  We have only stayed in a hotel once.  For many years we camped in a tent until recently we went all out and bought a truck camper - the kind that perches in the bed of your pickup truck. There's about enough room inside for two people to stand up and turn around, but it keeps you up off the ground and keeps the critters out of your food.
   So now we are considering jumping on a plane, flying for 8 hours across a vast ocean, and spending 14 days in cities we have only dreamed of or seen pictures of in travel documentaries.  We will be spending a quarter of a year's wages in a two week period, and exposing ourselves to jet lag and possible terrorist plots, not to mention hours on buses with 150 loud and rambunctious teenagers. 
     Are we crazy? Should we do it?  Will it be the experience of a lifetime, or something we will regret, especially when we look at our savings accounts?  I don't know.  I guess there's only one way to find out.  Our son is excited for the opportunity to play in an orchestra in world famous European venues.  My husband and I are not getting any younger - we are both within 4 or 5 years of retirement age.  Who knows when an illness will strike one of us down and we will no longer be fit for travel?  We've always wanted to go to Europe "someday."  Why not now?  If we don't go now, will we ever?
     All in all, I think we should go.  Yes, it's a lot of money. Yes, there are risks to traveling, but there are also risks to staying home. Do we want our son to grow up adverse to adventure and afraid of broadening his horizons and stepping outside of his comfort zone?  He will meet some wonderful people who share the same interest in music.  He will have the honor of playing with some of the best musicians in the state.  He may have the time of his life, and so may we.
    I believe I've talked myself into it.  After all, you can't take it with you, but you can take it with you to Europe.  Watch this blog for future updates.

Monday, May 16, 2016

New Song for North Carolina HB2 (Parental Discretion Advised)

I composed a new song for L.G.B.T.I.  issues.  Here it goes:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do!
Where you gonna go when you hafta poo?
Since you're in North Carolina
And don't have a vagina.
Men to the right,
Now don't you fight
Or you violate HB2.

I'm sorry!!!  This issue is just so confusing and ridiculous to me, all I can do is make up silly songs about it.  I guess I'm being childish, aren't I?  (But I think the rhyming is pretty good, don't you?)

I'm clearly old fashioned in my views and my song choices.  Hope I didn't offend you on either count. 

Thanks for listening.

Friday, May 13, 2016

No Room for Men in the Ladies Room, and Vice Versa

  I have to make an apology for my previous post (which I have deleted) about the North Carolina HB2 bathroom law which mandates that in government buildings, including public schools and universities, transgender people must use the restroom of the sex of their birth.  I was confusing transgender with transsexual.  According to Wikipedia, "transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate."   In plain English, this means a boy who feels more like a girl, or a girl who feels more like a boy.  A transgender person my have all the appearances of one sex but feel inside that they are the opposite sex.
   On the other hand, a transsexual is someone who has undergone medical procedures to transition from one sex to another - a man who converts to  a woman, or a woman who converts to a man. This can involve hormone therapy to raise or lower the voice, plastic surgery to change bodily appearance, and the conversion of the sexual anatomy through surgery. 
     If you are a person who feels that they are some other sex than what they were born, I feel badly for you and know you have struggles.  However, using a public restroom affects other people.   In the interest of keeping public order, I feel that a transgender person should use the restroom of the sex of their birth until they undergo transition to the opposite sex. at which point they legally become a member of the opposite sex. Up until then they are still whatever sex they were born as, no matter how the may feel about it.
   This has nothing to do with preventing molestation in public restrooms.  Multitudes of people have been molested by persons of the same sex or the opposite sex. Gender has nothing to do with it.  The only way to prevent molestation is to have a responsible adult accompany children to public restrooms.
     This has more to do with keeping order and preventing panic.  You may feel like Fay Wray on the inside, but if you look more like King Kong on the outside, you should use the  men's room.  If it make you a little bit uncomfortable, I'm sorry. At least all the other people sharing the restroom will not be alarmed.
  Where this gets sticky is when someone has started the transition or looks more like the opposite sex than their actual sex.  Then they should seek out a unisex restroom when in those buildings. 
   To be honest, most people in a restroom are not paying much attention to who else is in there with them, they just want to do their business and get out.  If you feel that your presence is going to look out of place and cause commotion, don't go there, no matter what you feel like doing.  It is in the better interest of the public to have men and boys in the men's room and girls and women in the ladies' room.  For the small percentage of the population that this makes uncomfortable, unisex rooms should be provided.  Many buildings already have these in the form of "family" restrooms.
    When it comes to locker rooms and showers, the same rule applies.  As long as your body is male, use the men's. As long as your body is female, use the women's.  Anything else is liable to cause alarm and confusion. 
      My position on this issue falls under the same category as the prohibition against yelling "fire" in a packed theater.  It's in the best interest of the general public.  Some areas of public life are black and white, and this is one of  them.  Gender is defined by physical anatomy, not by who you feel you are on the inside,  especially in the eyes of the people with whom you are sharing the restroom.