Archives for June 2007

Desert Mustangs

The quiet of the desert sharpens the senses. Splashes of color contrast against the sun bleached dirt. Hummingbirds Cabana in Cabo Pulmo frequent our flaming orange-red flowers, as do yellow-jackets. We’ve driven from Todos Santos to Cabo Pulmo, Baja, not a town, not quite a village – more like an outpost in the only coral reef in North America, on the shimmering turquoise Sea of Cortez. Of the two available cabanas for rent, we choose the one with hammocks, a porch and a seaside breeze. With five of us in one room like overstuffed tamales, the porch becomes a handy second – for reading, playing Boggle, escaping the heat of the air condition-less cabana.

Yes, I said air condition-less. This isn’t Texas, pardner. The 20 or so cabana outpost doesn’t have electricity – everything is solar or gas-powered. And it’s this, combined with no “legal” property taxes, makes living off the grid attractive to eco-conscious property tax paying Californians. That’s legal in quotes – we get the impression there’s a form of outlaw law in Baja. With no actual property titles granted by law, we understand that you’d have to pay “someone” to keep squatters from taking over your house while you’re on vacation in the States. Having grown up visiting the gold mining ghost towns of Colorado as a girl, I wonder, is this what its like to live in the Wild, Wild West? We see no evidence of unlawful behavior by our California standards, other than the rolling stop at Stop signs – granting anyone right-of-way via the slow roll through a car-filled intersection.

Time doesn’t just slow down here, it appears to stop. The first night here I take a walk. I hear the sound of birds, the ocean Gato on Tableand palm fronds moving to the rhythmic, warm breeze. But it’s quiet that I hear – stillness. On some level, nothing moves and yet I know everything changes. My eyes would deceive me, telling me it looked like this last year – the same three restaurants, Los Caballeros, Nance’s, Cabo Pulmo Café, the same mountains, sea and sky. It has always been this way. I want to put my ear down to the desert mantle, hear its secrets, to know its longings. Because it has been here far longer than I, because I want to know it’s story and because I know it’s seen everything. It’s the wise and timeless desert, and standing under the dark moonlit sky I belong to it.

I see a group of horses appear from out of the skyline, probably 8 or 9 including a young foal. They are Mustangs, universal symbols of free-spiritedness, unbridled and pioneering. There’s something primal about seeing these wild horses now, appearing from the desert, soon to disappear back into the desert. Do they truly belong to no one? They wander past me on the road, and into the yard of a small adobe looking for food. An older Spanish lady comes out and waves her arms, shooing them away. They oblige, returning to the road again to stop and contemplate their next move. The foal suckles the mother for milk and like looking for water in a cactus, she disappoints. They wander down the road and I am left wondering after them, will they be safe, will the baby find food, will they remain beautiful and free? Yes, the pioneer, the survivor of the dry, desert plain, these live inside me. I have known the hardship accompanying this kind of wild freedom. And I still find it beautiful.

The days here are easy to fill when the heat takes over. In a bigger city, the kids would’ve cried boredom throughout. As it Bathing beautyis, after day one, not a peep. Too tired to move, there’s nothing to do but read or organize board games. And go to the beach – a spectacular restorative for contagious Baja lethargy. The initial step is motivating. Inertia, I’ve discovered, is best overcome through beginning with the simplest tasks: first, put on bathing suit. Next: sunscreen. Riding the momentum gained, gather supplies, towels, cold water, assemble snorkel gear and get in car, quickly. Hooray, forward motion achieved! Our favorite snorkel spot is called Secret Beach, reached by a rocky mile long hike along the edge of a steep cliff. Some of us are afraid of heights, but the little one fearlessly leads the way. Even though the Sea of Cortez is notoriously warm, when we jump in to the water, it’s arctic. Like a refreshing glass of ice-cold tea. The reef is busy today, with Puffer, Moorish Idol, Cortez Angelfish a Sting Ray and lemon-yellow fish that reminds me of needle nose pliers –Reef Cornet. Swimming with the fish it’s easy to forget everything but this, the water pulling you in and out with the tide, the amplified sound of the in and out breath through your mask, the delight and surprise of seeing something you’ve never before seen. Sometimes you can’t see anything at all, but your mask has clouded over. So you return to the surface, rinse it out and descend again, realizing that you what you disappointedly mistook for blurry nothingness was untrue -you were surrounded by fluorescent, electric beauty all along.

Full Moon in Capricorn: “Gone fishin’. Be back l8r.”

To my stepdaughters last night, I remarked that the Moon was full in Capricorn, to which I’m invariably asked, what does that mean? They want a simple answer, something neatly packaged. I notice it’s never a simple answer – even though I want to give them an easy one, one that doesn’t involve being a beginner all over again walking through the steps I’ve traced so often before. But I cannot. She’s the Moon, I groan inwardly, not easily understood… The Moon is reflective of the Sun’s light, and translator of all other planets, in short, she’s much more than the sign she occupies, or the Sun she reflects. There’s much to consider. So we start simply, as we always do.

At this, the yearly crossroads of summer’s Capricorn Full Moon, we see forward and back. Capricorn reminds us of the Moonrise from Cabo Pulmopassage of time, our obligations in the world, the pinnacles we want to achieve in the world of men (and women). And now, during this time of the year when we’d rather be sunning on a rock, deaf to the cares of the world, lost on our own private beach, on an outpost far away from civilization surrounded by the people who remind us of home in the best sense! It sounds like a summer vacation, doesn’t it? Life can appear both contradictory and complete at Full Moon. It’s the unification of opposites, el Sol and la Luna pulling us in two directions at once – the soul yearning for her opposite – the self-aware ego. The soul, La Luna, magnetizes the ego’s desire, El Sol, into a tangible feeling or event, a purposeful awareness that will soon be actionable.

Dreams mingle with memories during Cancer Sun times, urging us toward inwardness, taking form in watery reminiscing, nostalgia for the way things were, once, and questions about what’s coming next. Family members visit in dreams, if not in real life. Hearts are full of bounty, the sweetness of summer like a magical spice, seasoning everything we do with hope and tender romance. Souls are gentle, loving. As the fruits of our labors bloom, we are at the height of our own personal summer. What of Capricorn Moon, the desire for recognition and personal soul-spirit achievement? Can you take conference calls from your beach chair? Certainly, but don’t expect a response. I’m remembering a boat slyly named “At The Office.” Everyone’s on vacation, including the CEO’s and decision-makers. This is your private time for reflection, time to find the silence in your heart before moving ahead with your ambitious plans.

It’s time for romance, crazy. Big love is in the air. Love Goddess Venus and her Lover Divine Neptune cover everything with shimmer and glimmer. That tantalizing object of desire may’ve been just out of reach before, but today has never felt so close – just like the extraordinarily large, illusory Full Moon in the night sky. As Venus dances between Neptune and Saturn we come to realize even the promise of a storybook romance, a killer career, or swearing off sweets requires practical steps – the least of which begins with the question: are you truly ready? Saturn gives us a realistic picture of where we are in the process: whether it’s opening our hearts to love, expressing ourselves, or moving forward with a creative project. A commitment involves making a definitive choice, which definitively excludes others. This promise (building over the past year) has never really satiated an unquenchable thirst – it’s provoked and egged it on, to epic proportions. Use this Full Moon to meditate on it, because when Mercury directs (July 9 and through the rest of the summer) you’ll take the necessary steps to make your vision real.

Finally, the asteroid Ceres is part of a spectacularly rare and special kite formation in the sky, between the Full Moon and the Moon’s Nodes. Ceres is the caretaker of the Zodiac, enhancing the feminine, unconditional love energy of Cancer Sun and Capricorn Moon. She’s a mother, a step removed, a stepmother, adoptive mother, grandmother, special auntie or nanny, anyone who’s loved and nurtured you selflessly, unconditionally, especially through loss, grief, trauma and abandonment, as though you were her own. In the sign of Taurus, Ceres births everyone’s inherent nurturing, provider gifts to the fore. What nurturing gift do you have to give or receive? As a step mom, I’m being called to act on the behalf of my own Ceres this Full Moon. Because the way I “take care” is through philosophizing, teaching and identity-seeking (my Ceres is in the sign of Sagittarius) I’m “coincidentally” giving my stepdaughters astrology lessons! Of course I’m not sure who’s more eager for our daily lesson – them or me.

This brings me back to their simple question: what does it mean? Of course they want a simple answer, we all do. Which means we’re at the beginning, again. So we climb the mountain anyway, despite the noontime heat, knowing we’ll have plenty of time to rest underneath the shades of palm. And as we move from chapter one to chapter two, always a beginner, the complexity we face, we face together.

Saturday’s Full Moon Offers Strange Illusion

…from Yahoo!News 

This weekend’s full moon hangs lower in the sky than any other full moon of 2007, according to NASA, and it’s a good time to be fooled.

When low on the horizon, the Moon can appear to be larger than when it’s higher in the sky. It’s all an illusion, scientists say, and it does not involve any enlarging effects of the atmosphere. Rather, it’s all in your mind.

Here’s how it works:

Our brains think things on the horizon are farther away than stuff overhead, because we’re used to seeing overhead clouds that are close compared to those on the horizon. In the mind’s eye, the sky is a flattened dome.

With this dome as a reference, we expect something on the horizon (such as the moon) to be father, and because it is actually no farther than when overhead, our brains goof and imagine that it is larger.

Skeptical? You can test this from home.

When the moon first rises, hold something small like the eraser of a pencil at arms length and compare its size to the moon on the horizon. Do the same a couple hours later when the moon is higher. Or try this: Take a picture of the moon in both positions, then cut, paste and compare. Another trick: Make a tube from rolled-up paper so the opening is just slightly larger than the moon when it rises. Tape the tube so the size stays fixed, then check later to see if the moon has changed sizes.

Officially, the moon will be full Saturday June 30 at 9:49 a.m. ET. Of course, you’ll want to do your looking in the evening. Local moonrise times are available from the U.S. Naval Observatory. Keep in mind that mountains and buildings can dramatically alter your actual local moonrise time.

The big-moon-rising effect will be evident Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On each evening, the moon will appear nearly full. Interestingly, the moon is never fully full from our point of view, but that’s another story.

While you’re out, check out Venus and Saturn, which are snuggling close together in the western sky as darkness falls.

So why is one full moon lower in the sky than another? The moon’s orbit around Earth is tilted 5 degrees compared to the plane of Earth’s travels around the Sun, and Earth itself is tilted on its rotational axis. All this accounts for the lunar phases, and it also means the moon’s path through our sky can be higher or lower depending on the angles on any given night.

The complex orbit of the Earth-moon system is constantly evolving, too. Right now, the moon is moving away from us by more than 1.5 inches every year.

Top 10 Moon Facts
Moon Phases, Moon Names, Lunar Lore
Lunar Image Gallery

Little Altars of Faith

Sometimes we don’t know why we need to follow the impulse to go where we’re called…we just go. This is the nudge I felt toward visiting Todos Santos, Baja California. My husband wanted to take a surf trip down to Baja last year and I recalled a client of mine talking about this funky, hippy oasis in Baja a couple of years prior. She and her husband had been thinking about moving here and through astrocartography -the study a person’s natal planetary lines through place- I discouraged her to settle in Todos Santos. She didn’t. Yet my own curiosity was peaked. I found Todos Santos on the map and we constructed a trip arranged around the little town I am writing you from right now – the city’s name translates as “All Saints”.

Here we are again, a second trip in two years. We’re visiting during low season again, and from la turistas who have only visited here during high season, a quieter town. Many shops say they’re open, abierto, but don’t bother. The yoga retreats apparently take place in the spring. So do the art and wine festivals, open houses, poetry conferences and writer retreats. Organic produce, while bragged about in the town paper, is hard to come by. In fact, fresh produce has all but gone extinct. When we arrived last Monday, the weather was still mild. Now it’s getting hot, testimony to our “good” room rates. As we walk past the numerous, strangely identical mutts, they’re too dog tired to bark. A thick coat of dust covers everything. The neighborhood kids come over, splash and play, washing that dust and grime off in our hotel pool, a greasy film floating atop sea green milky water – when it’s open. Every other full day it’s closed for cleaning, of course.

And we’re happy to be here, sinking into the lazy rhythm of trips to the beach, to the town grocer, the beach of the wolves, Punta Lobos, to watch our dinner come in on boats. We’re vegetarians, all, but when we travel, we eat what the locals eat. One vegetarian teenager doesn’t want to see the gutting of the pescado and says she’ll stay in the car. Curiosity takes over, and soon she’s watching too, kicking at the sand, stealing sideways glances as the fish meets its death, a fish out of water surrendering its life for ours. We prepare the fish pan fried, with butter and lime later that day. We intend to eat it as a taco, as the countless fish taco stands have created the hankering for constant intake of fish taco. But this fish is so fresh we eat it plainly, simply.

When we drive, there are altars everywhere, shrines along the dusty single lane roads. For a country with very little means, I’m again pleasantly surprised by the artfulness of the altars, the careful attention given to the dead. In these idyllic chapel structures, the flowers always appear fresh – even the fake ones. It’s no illusion that someone comes out to the middle of nowhere, a place without a town, mile marker 54, to mindfully care for the sanctuario. Cars regularly stop at these sites, prayers are said, tributes made to loved ones lost on a dark desert highway

Yes, this is the land of the dark desert highway. The famed Hotel California exists in Todos Santos. Urban legend says the Eagles wrote Hotel California on a trip to Todos Santos, which Don Henley, when asked by a reporter if this was true, denied. Hotel California is a wee taste of hype, in a land less touched by California’s glamour than its money. The Baja relationship to gringos is one like any other international relationship – economic. The real estate is California-priced, so are the T-Bone steaks, so too other indulgences a California traveler might require. The town has one beauty salon, newly occupied since last year, but the young trend-setting proprietor looks hot and restless, hanging out on the sidewalk. She’ll join other shop owners on the corner where they gather under the shade of an umbrella to smoke and watch the gringos walk by. We’ve met scant few gringos, a few we’ve met at the hotel, or overheard talking about real estate at the restaurants.

And the real estate of the desert, what does that look like? It’s sparse, dry, but it quietly exists, too. I remind myself that this too supports life forms of which I have yet to see. The Sometimes a chinchilla or a lizard darts across the road. I’m thrilled when the occasional bright red or magenta flower emerges from the bleached landscape, usually on a cactus that looks half alive. I see this as a hopeful symbol for life. Life does survive against all odds, bloom even, in a harsh food-less, water less desert. Does the bloom of a cactus know faith? On stretches of highway, the cacti look like people in various life stages. I see the bone dry cacti as abuellos, ancient grandfathers of the desert. I imagine their personalities: wise, sturdy, withstanding. The skeletal grandfathers bear witness to the life of the desert, almost as hidden from me as life under the sea. It’s a mysterious world of spirits out here.

Good Dad, Bad Dad

Dads. Everyones got one. Theres a good dad, bad dad and everything in between dad. I’m pondering, of course, Fathers Day and wondering why the bleep this Cancer country finds it necessary to have a national holiday for Dads. Not everyone is blessed with a good dad – in fact I’ll even generously split it right down the middle and say 50/50 you’ve had a good dad. I say generous because experience tells me a different story, because I’ve known far more girlfriends with bad dads than good dads. Yet seeing how complex life is, people are, and that most of us do the best we can with what we’ve got (including Dad) I’m considering bad dad/good dad could be hallucinations of the dad archetype, essentially two sides of the same coin, maybe even equal in magnitude and power to enchant us with their magical spells. Here’s my attempt to define good and bad dad on the backdrop of current astrological trends influencing fatherhood: the Saturn-Neptune opposition and Chiron in Aquarius, the wounded healer, who invisibly chimes in for the final word.

Who is dad to begin with? Saturn is the planet astrology assigns to Fathers, a disciplinarian, a teacher, a stand-up character as seen by society’s standards, a definitively cool disposition (not warm or affectionate) but by all means a provider. Straight up, Saturn is only a provider. He’s the kind of dad who thinks parenting is putting food on the table. As an archetypal energy, this is a simple-minded but apparently quite popular collective imagining of Good Dad. There’s another equally simple-minded glamorous imagining of Good Dad – the perfect dad who looks great in a suit and even better with a little baby vomit for the Mr. Mom effect. Oh, and there’s another, and another. There are as many examples of Good Dads as we can dream up. Do these people really exist? Yes. We imagine them as they become.

Now, Saturn has been in Leo since July 2005. This brings out the warmer side of dad, because this stand up man is a provider but he’s more human now, he’s got a heart (Leo). Saturn behaves fairly well in Leo, trying to live up to Leos standards by becoming a respectable, contributing member of society (Saturn) and one who has the solar qualities of personal pride, integrity and healthy self-respect (Leo). These two fit together nicely. When I Google ‘what is a good dad?’ I get these examples: good provider, moral guide, role model, patient, sets a good example, good listener, a teacher. As I continue to scan search results for good dad, I come across Askmen.com. Of course! Duh, who else would I ask? Askmen.com intros:A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. He’s a pillar of strength, support and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless. But in the end, it shows in the sound, well-adjusted children he raises. It is true, without the love and hard work carved from our fathers tailbone we’re Gumby-like bodies without structural support. Other notables: spending quality time together, accepting his kids aren’t like him, and again leading by example. Note that childlike Leo has a ton of natural empathy with kids, Leo remembers what it’s like to be a kid, because he is one (oh, another good dad quality mentioned is: he remembers what it is like to be a kid). Saturn in Leo seems to make a fine dad.

Of course Adolf Hitler’s Saturn was in Leo. Which brings me to the subject of bad dads. Oh where did they go wrong? I know it’s a complex subject. The reason why I’m talking all this smack is that Saturn’s passage through Leo has, for the past 2 years, given good dad the opportunity to show up. Really, just show up, be the good guy. But Neptune has been opposing good dad (Saturn in Leo), and Neptune is the planet of falsehood, not fatherhood. So I’m curiously contemplating this Neptune in relation to Saturn good dad and thinking about all those Father’s Day slick advos with the young dad looking chipper, lovingly into his son or daughters eyes. How many of us have had this imprinted onto our collective consciousness? Oh, dad. The barbecues you loved to cook for us, the baseball games, the values you instilled, the Hallmark card I can’t wait to get for you…I’m tearing up. Screeching tires, backtrack.

Now I’m thinking about the deadbeat dads, the ones that leave the scene MIA, or who never showed up in the first place. How many single mothers are there in the USA? The US Census says in 2005 there were 10 million women living with children under 18. So why, does the same source say there only 2.5 million single fathers in 2006 (19% of whom are living with their children)? Where are the 7.5 million missing dads? Did they all become ex-pats in that one year? Granted, I don’t know how the Census collects their data, but I’m guessing it has something to do with whom one claims oneself as being to the IRS. Clearly, Neptune has absconded with these fathers. Or, more directly, these fathers do not identify, they do not exist. Poof! And as good Christian citizens of America, we want them back (best said with a mid-west accent).

But I do not want to dog bad dad, here. I am exploring Saturn and Neptune. And asking what good can come of this pair, good dad opposed by this elusive, ill, dad in absentia mass? And here’s where Neptune logic kicks in: Neptune will blow us off course until we make an effort to worship him. We will wander hopelessly until we ask, as Dana Gerhardt did in June 2007 TMA, ‘to what altar do I kneel to everyday?’ She says, “Neptune wants nothing less than total devotion.” How daunting. Daunting because this means, whether conscious or not, you are already totally devoted to some form of Neptune’s shtick. The trick is, making your devotion conscious, so its not a shtick, so ita not some strange parody, devotion to a ghost. The Greeks kept the malefic Neptune destructive forces of Neptune’s tsunamis, floods and destruction away by constructing altars, making sacrifices. (They knew their place in the world in a tiny speck of sand. The all-consuming ocean was King.) I’m considering this dilemma of devotion, and considering that maybe at this tail end of this long Saturn -Neptune opposition (officially ending this month) some of us have awakened to our own altars built in confusion, built around our fathers. Are we realizing how destructive, how draining it can be to worship the wrong father?

Everyone has an altar to fatherhood, I’m convinced of it. You’re celebrating Father’s Day. You live in America. Personally, mine resembled a ghostly altar to good dad, the one who never existed, and more importantly, the one who wasn’t real. I had to surrender the good dad and the bad dad. The surrender was long, and it felt like a tsunami washing my island clean of every last malingering wishful thinking debris, like: maybe this conversation will be different, maybe this time… Paradoxically this tsunami of surrendering the illusion happened shortly before I fell in love. I fell in love…ahhh…with a most exceptional dad, my husband, around the same time this strange planetary pair, Saturn and Neptune entered their cosmic dance with each other. And guess what happened? My dad paradigm shifted completely. My slate had been wiped so clean, so entirely clear of good dad/bad dad that I was permitted to receive a re-education from the original teacher his/her self, Love. And the bonus: because I’d never experienced good dad (he was only a fantasy, you see) the learning has been far better than I ever imagined.

First, I began to actually understand what Hallmark meant when they said “To the Best Dad in the World”- because I fell in love with him. I learned that the self-sacrifice of a parent didn’t equal martyrdom (or sainthood), for which no child, nor parent need pay in blood. I learned there are some exceptional dads out there who courageously sacrifice a piece of their personal self for their brood every day, and smile doing it! (This was a particularly joyful discovery) I’m still learning what it means to actively participate in a childs life, to teach, coax, and reinforce goodness out of every moment as though it were the most precious moment, ever. And when I become overwhelmed by the bumpy inner world of occupying the mind bubble of a 10 or 12 or 14 year old, I see that for every overblown myopic agony and emotion, the corresponding reassuring hand of someone who’s got your back…and who won’t let you down…strengthens the reality baseline for everyone in the house. Maybe even the world. Best of all, I have a ringside seat next to someone really, really wants to be there (I mean more than anything) to play the defining role in his children’s lives. And could quite capably be the best man they ever know. Ever. What a tall order! What a grand thing!

So to all you good people wondering where the good dads went this Fathers Day: they’re with the bad dads, locked in a mythical battle between good and evil, dark and light. They’re busy preoccupying your mind and heart, forcing you to wait for him to show up at your dance recital or little league game, still (when you know he won’t) or say the right thing at the right moment (because he’ll say the wrong thing all over again). Maybe it’s time to end the agony for once and all. Here’s my new suggestion: could you, possibly reckon surrendering the good dad and bad dad, for an in-between one? This doesn’t mean you need to hero worship when your heart is not in it, nor throw in the towel. Hallmark isn’t required; a phone call will suffice. Possibly a tedious one, with predictable conversation and one in which if your new treaty is tested (as it will be) you will silently focus on your basic good nature, and his (because he’s human, too) while surrendering hope for conscious validation of anyones G-O-O-D or B-A-D.

You will keep the faith and compassion on a heart level, where you will build your own altar to the values you know to be true, but which may possibly never happen within this particular relationship. You have my permission to surrender your illusion of good dad – he is no longer necessary AND bad dad, because you need to grow up. Simply, he’s not either guy. And in my experience, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to wipe your slate clean of hope for the good dad and the bad dad (both of whom left you in the dust) and surround yourself with friend dads, neighbor dads, step dads, husband dads and come-as-you-are-dads who are just that good at what they do. And give those dads a hug.

Article Review – The Age of Dissonance; Blame the Messenger

THE AGE OF DISSONANCE; Blame the Messenger by Bob Morris

Published The New York Times 4/18/04, available at nytimes.com/archives

This article solicits feedback about the phenomena of Mercury retrograde, which happens several times a year in 3 week periods. Mercury Retrograde defined: Mercury was named after the Roman messenger God and occasionally his orbit gets so slow that he appears to move backward in the sky. As the author tries to decide whether to take any of it seriously, he discovers many levelheaded and celeb fabulous people do. Yes, communication goes awry. Yes, deals fall through. No, don’t buy a new computer. But what you didn’t know was, Mercury retrograde has an underground following. I think it falls in the category of modern day folk wisdom. Everyone who’s experienced it is a believer.

A) An LA psychiatrist’s patients tell her they can’t sign contracts or keep commitments during Merc Rx (which she sees as a thin excuse for irresponsibility). Of course you do. You’re a psychiatrist.

B) Celebs are paying attention to Mercury. Marla Maples is cautious during the period, ”It’s a time to be more conscious of everything that’s happening.” Singer Taylor Dayne is a Mercury watcher who avoids making record deals when Mercury’s Rx. “It’s Murphy’s Law…but 10 times worse,” she said.

C) Make-up artist Lori Klein likens Rx to a really bad case of PMS, you see it as a sort of warning to “…keep to yourself rather than flying into a rage for no reason.”

D) The standard advice was offered: standard computer back-ups, reflecting more, going slowly.

The author himself admits to blurting out foot in mouth remarks at inopportune moments during Mercury Rx periods. This is when a compassionate friend introduced the whole Mercury phenomenon. He’s still not a believer, but floats it as a “trendy alibi” to excuse various errata. Touche.