Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Peculiar Blindness, Part 4: Casual Contempt

Opelousas, Louisiana. May 2015.

"You never know when it's going to come up and slap you in the face,"  said one of my Louisiana acquaintances, an African-American man. "You've always got to be ready."

The "it" is an act, a gesture, a throw-away comment that shocks - not because of its size or its volume or because of physical harm, but because it is so casual in its delivery, and so careless about its effect. It feels very personal, like someone stepping into your intimate body space to slap you smartly across the face, without warning, stinging your skin, raising a flush of emotions to the surface.

Contempt: The feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.

In this post, I share some experiences told to me by several Louisiana acquaintances of color. I've rolled the stories into a composite of a man I'll call "Lem."

What they have in common is a casual and knowing jab by one human being to another. They are not acts of misunderstanding or naiveté. They are intentional and cavalierly cruel.

The cafe

While working out of town one day, but still in Louisiana, Lem went to a cafe for lunch. And, listen, we're not talking about back in the day here; we're talking contemporary times. So anyway, Lem went into a cafe for lunch and ordered his meal. The server brought it. As Lem ate, his eyes wandered over the room, just looking around as one does when eating alone. And he stopped chewing suddenly because he saw. He saw that everyone in the restaurant ate off dinnerware and metal flatware, and drank from glasses. His meal had been served to him on a styrofoam plate, with plastic utensils and a paper cup. He was the only diner eating off of styrofoam and he was the only diner of color.

Too good

A few years back, Lem had an opportunity to buy some used work vehicles at a very good price. They needed mechanical and cosmetic work, and he fixed them up fine. They looked damn pretty when he finished, and Lem was pleased with his investment. He put them to work in his business.

And then he ran into an old, racist line of thinking that kicks in when a person of color possesses something that is "too good."

In Lem's case, while he performed a task in one office, he overhead a conversation of the organization's staff, all white, in an adjacent office. Which went something like this: "You see that vehicle of Lem's out there? If he's doing so good, he obviously doesn't need any work from us in the future."

The school bus driver

Now, this story does go back a bit to, say, 50 years and longer. At least in one parish, African-American children had to walk to school while their white neighbors took the school bus. Lem told me that his parents instructed him to take care that he didn't get his school clothes dirty while walking, by sticking as far over to the right shoulder of the road as possible. Especially on rainy days.

I heard this same experience from several acquaintances.

In fact, their parents' concern wasn't so much about protecting school clothes as it was to protect their children from white students who liked to throw stones at them from the school bus windows when it drove by.

And to protect their children from a school bus driver who, especially on rainy days, scooched over to the right edge of the road for the pleasure of splashing muddy water onto the walking children with his big school bus tires.

The mules

Lem shared a country saying with me: "Don't mind the mules, just load the wagon."

For a number of years, perhaps in the late 80s, Lem worked for a well-known, multi-national company. He often worked outdoors.

One day, a trench needed to be dug. The supervisor ordered the black employees, including Lem, to start digging same. It was a smothering hot day. The supervisor was a guy who liked to throw his weight around. Even so, this task wouldn't be particularly noteworthy in regard to my post today. Except that a white co-worker rolled up to the edge of the deepening trench in a backhoe.

He said to the supervisor: "It is too hot and too slow to have these men dig this hole by hand. It's also unnecessary. I can dig that trench right quick for you with the backhoe."

The supervisor replied, in effect:  "Don't you worry about the mules."

And while Lem and his co-workers continued to slug dirt in the heavy heat, the backhoe stood idle.

Note: This same company later got caught up in a scandalous racial discrimination lawsuit and subsequently settled out of court, agreeing to pay $172 million to the plaintiffs.

The wait

Lem is a business owner who submits competitive bids for work to companies and government agencies.

To write bids that are competitive, business owners must, of course, know what their supplies and equipment will cost them, so this information can be factored into the bids. In an area with a relatively small population such as South Louisiana, there are only a few suppliers who serve the needs of certain project types.

Lem informed a local supplier of the items he'd need for the project he hoped to win; the supplier would give him an estimate of the supply costs so Lem could complete his proposal and submit his bid by the deadline.

Time passed while Lem waited for the estimate and the bid deadline approached. Days, then weeks. Always there was some reason the supplier didn't have the estimate ready for Lem.

Finally, with the deadline almost nigh, Lem went to the supplier. The supplier's employee gave over the estimate. His honor, engaged at last, compelled the employee to tell Lem that his boss had instructed him to withhold the estimate from Lem until it was too late for Lem to submit a bid. But the employee couldn't bring himself to go quite that far.


In Purple Cane Road, Detective Dave Robicheaux relates a story of casual contempt from the 1960s:

The next morning I read the coroner's report ... It was signed by a retired pathologist named Ezra Cole, a wizened, part-time deacon in a fundamentalist congregation made up mostly of Texas oil people and North Louisiana transplants. He had worked for the parish only a short time eight or nine years ago. But I still remembered the pharmacy he had owned in the Lafayette Medical Center back in the 1960s. He would not allow people of color to even stand in line with whites, requiring them instead to wait in the concourse until no other customers were inside.

Related posts

The Peculiar blindness, Part 1: Introduction
The Peculiar Blindness, Part 2: The "Yes, But" Mask
The Peculiar Blindness, Part 3: You Don't See What I Don't See

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Louisiana: 2nd Saturday Artwalk: March 2014

2nd Saturday Artwalk, March 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana. Gallery 549.

Ouch! I am really late in posting this one, right? And it was a particularly grabby one, too.

This artist's work, featured at Gallery 549, drew me in like a mosquito to a zapper. Dammit that I didn't write down his name.

2nd Saturday Artwalk, March 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana. Gallery 549.

He wasn't the only stand-out in the March Artwalk. There was also Angela René Roberts, an outrageously talented painter:

2nd Saturday Artwalk, March 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana. Angela René Roberts.

And as always, it was a multi-sensory pleasure to enter the Benoit Gallery, with its delicious interior fragrance, energy-massaging music, and the visual feast of Bryant Benoit's work, as evidenced in this piece below:

2nd Saturday Artwalk, March 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana. Bryant Benoit.

The exhibits this month at the Acadiana Center for the Arts offered especially tasty brain candy:

2nd Saturday Artwalk, March 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana. Acadiana Center for the Arts.

2nd Saturday Artwalk, March 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana. Acadiana Center for the Arts.

A slideshow of my March 2014 2nd Saturday Artwalk experience:

Louisiana: 2nd Saturday Artwalk: March 2014

Monday, November 28, 2016

Louisiana: About a Girl

Image: “Plaque from a Casket with a Dancing Woman” by Coptic via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

A phone was stolen from a child by a child. A couple of videos created by the young thief. Unbeknownst to this child-director-actor, they were automatically uploaded. Seen by the owner of the phone, someone I know. Reported, same day as the discovery, to four child-protection or law enforcement agencies in two states. Persevered over several days to push an investigation. Not about the theft - who cared about that? - no, about the obviousness of child abuse, both current and, inferentially, the recent past.

The videos: Graphic, disturbing, alarming, no ambiguity at what occurred.

Responses by the agencies: Indecisive, vague, incomplete. Dismissive, even.

I think about this young girl, age unclear. Ten? Twelve? Fourteen? She is a girl of color. There is zero doubt that she has been exposed to things that no child should be exposed to, and the same holds true for at least one young child in her circle. When I say zero doubt, I mean that. The videos make that clear.

The sheriff's office referred the caller to the city police although the video was filmed in the parish. The city police tried to refer the caller to the sheriff. The child protection agency in Louisiana determined insufficient cause - without even looking at the videos - for investigation. The child protection agency in the reporter's state referred the reporter to Louisiana. The city police assented to look into things, but there was a delay until the appropriate detective could talk to the caller about it. There was a further delay while the city detective decided how to accept or view the videos.

It all ended up so ambiguously. The child would get counseling, apparently. Or maybe the family. Or both. For what, one wonders. Unknown.

Everybody seemed to have missed the point.

This girl, albeit the actor on a superficial level, was clearly in an environment of abuse, present or past.

One person, among the numerous consulted during the reporting chronology, made a throw-away comment about the sexual precociousness of girls these days. Like them being the aggressor with the boys, etc. This, despite the fact that I had described graphically what was on the video. That this girl is a child.

Here are some perspectives about the vulnerability of young girls of color: 

Sex Crimes Against Black Girls Exhibit Uses Art to Confront Incest

Why Are Black Women Less Likely to Report Rape?

Sent Home From Middle School for Reporting a Rape

Sexual Abuse and the Code of Silence in the Black Community

Why Does Our Culture Sexualize Young Black Girls?

Marvel Pulls Sexualized Riri Williams Cover After Backlash

The Onion Tweets That [a Nine-Year Old Girl of Color] is the C-Word

Updated information

The Truth About How People View Young Black Girls is Disturbing

How Black Women's Bodies Are Violated as Soon as They Enter School

Texas: Video of Invasive Search Shows "Rape by Cop" ....
"This same officer body slammed Ms Corley, stuck her head underneath the vehicle and completely pulled her pants off, leaving her naked and exposed in that Texaco parking lot," he added, saying that her treatment amounted to "rape by cop".

"They then took Ms Corley and placed both ankles behind her ears spread eagle position and started to search for something in Ms Corley's cavity in her vaginal area."

This young girl in South Louisiana, whose life intersected with mine, briefly. What is she doing today?

A song from one of my favorite artists, Rhiannon Giddens, At the Purchaser's Option:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Louisiana: My Second Mardi Gras Parade

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

In my first year in South Louisiana, once I cut my Mardi Gras teeth on the equivalent of a "bunny slope" at a ski resort - the Carencro Mardi Gras Parade - it was time to have a go at a big-time spectacle.

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

That would be the Church Point Mardi Gras Parade.

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

The parade starts around 1:00 p.m. I'm no novice to parades, and I like to find decent parking, scope out my parade-watching spot, put a claim on it, and then go wander. I arrived at Church Point, I don't know, about 9:30 or 10:00 a.m.

Hohohoho, what a neophyte I was! At first, after I'd parked my car (wasn't too terrible finding a place), and walked over to the main drag, I thought maybe I had my times wrong. I saw one older woman sitting in a chair right next to the main street. Just sitting. I asked her when the parade was going to start, and she said, "Oh, about 1:00." I asked how long she'd been there. "About 9:00," she replied. Holy moly.

I walked down the street, away from the commercial area and toward a more residential area. I saw a line of decorated Mardi Gras trailers, with people walking between and around them. Maybe some of them, to describe it more accurately, were weaving a bit between and around the trailers. They all seemed very happy.

Some people had parked flatbed trailers along the parade route and populated these with chairs.

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

More than one had a personal porta-potty.

I found a decent spot, and as time passed, pleasant neighbors joined me. I would discover later that one of my woman neighbors was gifted in the ways of cajoling jello shots from the parade participants.

Before the parade began, a headache invaded my good vibes. At first, I fretted about this because I rarely get headaches. But then I remembered

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

The parade start time is "around 1:00 p.m. because it depends on the return of the courir de mardi gras riders from their traditional countryside search for chickens. (I posted this introduction to the courir de mardi gras a few years ago. Unfortunately, Pat Mire's excellent Dance for a Chicken, which is a documentary about the origins and traditions of the courir de mardi gras is no longer available for public viewing).

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

Drinking mass quantities of alcohol on horseback is part of the tradition.

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

The Church Point Mardi Gras Parade is long, long, sha. But so entertaining.

2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

A slide show of the parade below:

Church Point Mardi Gras Parade 2014
2014 Church Point Mardi Gras Parade. Church Point, Louisiana.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Louisiana: Morgan City: Rig Museum, Part 2: Cookies and a Joke

View from Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

I'm a hit-or-miss museum liker.

View from Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, home of Rembrandts and Vermeers, uh huh, it was nice.

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Now, the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron, Nebraska - hoo wee, it's fine!

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

This is Part 2 of Louisiana: Morgan City: Rig Museum. Part 1 is here.

The Rig Museum in Morgan City is a good "museum" and tour. Know that the rig called "Mr. Charlie" is not (to my knowledge) accessible to folks in a wheelchair or people with other mobility issues. It'd probably be outside of the "readily achievable" standard required to make it accessible unless the owners were to do some remodeling for other reasons. Also, it's not child-proof; it's a working training facility. Littl'uns could get into all kinds of trouble here. It's the nature of the place.

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

 The tour guide was congenial and endlessly patient in answering questions.

We walked through living quarters, the lounge, and the kitchen. The rig's chef had just made cookies! We tourists could have at them, fresh from the oven.

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

 We poked our heads into the sleeping quarters.

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

 While in the lounge, the tour guide told this joke:
  • Guys working on an oil rig spend weeks at a time together. 
  • A new guy joined an oil rig crew; it was his first gig. 
  • Every night, all the guys would hang out in the lounge and talk and laugh. 
  • The new guy noticed that one man would call out a number, like  - "349!" - and all the others would laugh like crazy. They'd spend hours doing this. One man would yell out a number and all the others would roar with laughter. 
  • Finally, the new guy asked: "What's happening here? What's so funny about a number?
  • An old-timer explained: "Son, we've worked together for so long, we know all the jokes that are possible to tell. Finally, we started numbering them to save time.
  • The new guy nodded, understanding, and asked, "Say, can I try one?
  • The old-timer said, "Sure!" 
  • The new guy said: "274!" 
  • Silence. 
  • The new guy asked: "What happened? Why didn't anyone laugh?
  • The old-timer replied: "Some people just don't know how to tell a joke." 

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Mr. Charlie, Rig Museum, Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Various articles on life aboard a rig: 

From 2000: Life on Board a Gulf of Mexico Oil Drilling Platform
From 2014: Up Close and Personal With a 40-Story Oil Rig in the Gulf
From 2016: Life On an Oil Rig

A 2017 update:

Here's a good video by Maybe Tomorrow, an RV couple who took the Mr. Charlie tour, including a sweet surprise ending:

I also like their road views at the beginning of the movie.

Other stories related to Morgan City are here

Friday, November 25, 2016

Louisiana: Morgan City: Rig Museum, Part 1: Yellow Wheel Study

Confession: Many (most?) archeological ruins don't excite me all that much. They should, but they don't.

Modern-era rust, decay, deterioration. That attracts me.

In March 2014, family members came calling, and we went to the International Rig Museum in Morgan City, a grand name for an old pug called Mister Charlie, an oil rig used for training new hands and to give public tours.

More on the tour later. Preview: There were freshly-baked cookies and a very funny joke.

In the meantime, these yellow wheel things.

Mister Charlie, Rig Museum. Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Mister Charlie, Rig Museum. Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Mister Charlie, Rig Museum. Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Mister Charlie, Rig Museum. Morgan City, Louisiana. March 2014.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Louisiana: My First Mardi Gras Parade

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

We've got to go back to 2014 for this one. My first Louisiana Mardi Gras Parade. It was in Carencro. I introduced it here, promising to write more about it later. Well, more than two years later, I'm keeping my promise.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

The Carencro parade was enlightening. South Louisianans know how to go to parades. The Carencro parade is more of a family parade than some of the others, and it was a good starter parade for me.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

It was at the Carencro parade that I learned just how one properly enjoys a parade.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

In the perfect scenario, you arrive early and you set up camp (literally, except for the overnighting part). 

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

You set up: 
  1. Tent
  2. Open bar with plenty of alcohol
  3. Full-size grill
  4. At least one table for the forthcoming feast
  5. Multiple chairs
  6. Sound system + music for before the parade
  7. Porta-potty
  8. Efficient receptacles for beads and candy collection 

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

 I was a little taken aback at the competitiveness of catching the beads. Not that I didn't get into the spirit of it pretty quickly myself.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

 And then it's over.

Carencro Mardi Gras Parade, Carencro, Louisiana. February 2014.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Creative Life: Very Bad Writing

My dwindling stock of beloved sci-fi, Alamogordo, New Mexico. February 2013.

This past year I've tried to up my writing game by participating in some writing groups. The seed for this was planted in South Louisiana by an interconnected group of people and events, specifically: 

Each of the above wowed me in some way with their creativity in the spoken or written word, or in their advocacy for local artistry.

Dennis, Agnes, John R., and I engaged in a brief writers' group before I left South Louisiana. What a warm hum of energy that was. PoeticSoul's Lyrically Inclined presented a writer's workshop one night.

At the writer's group, the Lyrically Inclined workshop, the monthly Music & Mic, and Festival of Words, I heard works that sparked whatever neurons govern illumination of what can be done to express ideas with words, body language, and tone of voice.

In Colorado, I sought writers' groups despite only being there for a month, and was pleased to attend two or three sessions of a group in Longmont.

Apparently, rubbing shoulders with writers can be a good thing for one's own practice. I will do more shoulder rubbing.

But this post is about bad writing.

Many years ago, I entered the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Very Bad Writing contest (a la Bulwer-Lytton; said contest now defunct, I believe) with this:

But before his soaring mind fully registered what his myopic eyes saw, which, when the spectacle did register, would change both his life and that of the world's in one crashing, careening, chaotic moment, he, Ned Richardson, thought back to the previous moon-gilt night when he shared an exotic Tibetan repast with his exotically beautiful and ravishing accountant, Monica Greenwell, she of the astonishingly glossy raven tresses and red rocky mountain high-heeled shoes with that loamy-Ieathery-powdery scent that Ned loved to pull into his quivering nostrils as he ran his noble probiscus caressingly along the length of them, causing those silken caverns to flare like the wings of a majestic skate from the ocean's azure depths in complete, remorseless ecstasy. 

"Oh, what a feeling!" Ned thought dreamily, as he jumped out of sheer joie de vivre, which was fortuitous, since by doing so he scarcely missed placing one of his well-formed and stylishly clad feet into the warmish effluvia of a be-ribboned, snorting shi-tsu that now was maliciously occupied in pulling at the neon shoestrings of its hennaed mistress, all the while yip-yapping in bored agitation, finally causing that hapless matron to fall heavily to her Cabbage Patch-dimpled knees with a "whumpf!" on the winter-pocked sidewalk. A ululating wail emerged slowly, opulently from the woman's throat and through her lipsticked mouth and out into the startled air and up and up, scraping across the inscrutable faces of the hulking urban edifices.

This siren's call, rather than jolting Ned from his delicious reverie, merely insinuated itself into his mind's meanderings; the almost melodic cry gently pulled him out of Monica's wondrous stilettos and into the sweet beckoning of an ambulance's song, offering the promise of lucrative lawsuits on behalf of the metropolis' modern-day gladiators within those strobe-lighted chariots of mercy. "Ah, but life is good," thought Ned - just one more glorious courtroom victory, his law firm's senior partner, Richard "Bob" Aldeburgh, had vowed, and Ned would get to do the firm's next TV commercial. 

Ned pictured himself leaning casually yet powerfully against a massive desk (mahogany? teak?), surrounded by dark paneled walls and shelves lined with heavy tomes. A green-shaded banker's lamp would add the final touch of elegant, Old Guard ambiance. Should he fold his arms across his chest as he spoke sonorously and with quiet authority? Or hold a heavy law book in one hand and his glasses in another, perhaps using the latter hand to emphasize his mellifluous words? 

And then, finally, Ned really saw what was before him. And his brain screeched to a halt, as a train does when suddenly presented with an obstacle on the track: a steel-melting, spark-flying, screaming stop.

"Will they never learn from their mistakes?!" cried Ned in an anguished sob. And he crumpled into a broken heap as the red-swirled billboard proclaimed its message: "Coca Cola --- New Formula!"

Goddammit - so many years and it is still such gloriously good bad shit. I shoulda won. But I didn't even get an honorable mention. Was it the shoes?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Gifts For the Frugal v. 2016

An ATM in Awassa, Ethiopia.

It's getting that time of year again. Gift suggestion lists. I've got a penchant for looking at gift recommendations for the budget-minded traveler or just for the budget-minded.

Most of the time, the suggestions are for some level of "budget" that is over my head. Like some of these.

Liberty Bank, Mestia, Svaneti, Georgia

Adventurous Kate has offered one of the best, the meatiest, the most comprehensive gift lists I've seen. She has many items that are less than $25. For people who feel good just reading lists, it delivers many utils of satisfaction.

There's also "What Do You Want For the Holidays? For Frugally-Minded Folks," by Trent Hamm. I like all of his suggestions except for the Fitbit idea. The last thing I want is to be dictated to by a little tyrant strapped on my wrist.

ATM in Yerevan, Armenia.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Louisiana: Livingston: Gravitational Gossip

If you're a science nerd (redundant?), the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana, is a must-see.

Yeah, I know, right? What the hell is that? And where the hell is Livingston, Louisiana?

I had no idea about either LIGO or Livingston until I happened to see a seductive bit of science gossip on a newsfeed on my phone. Apparently, there were whispers about a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT forthcoming from the scientific community about GRAVITATIONAL WAVES FROM SPACE. A mention of LIGO and Louisiana.

Salacious headlines such as: 

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, 1958. Source: Haphazard Stuff Blog.

This demanded personal investigation! And I only had until the end of February to check it out before I left Louisiana for good!

Maybe the coolest thing there

LIGO has a visitor's center that had interesting stuff in it, but because I'm a superficial geek girl, I don't remember any of that.

Here's what I remember best: Having lived in South Louisiana for awhile, the center of gravity for joyous dance, I was most particularly attracted to these items below, in LIGO's master command center! And in such a large quantity!

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.


This kind of mundanity (like the avocado green phones at the Very Large Array here and here) just cheer the hell out of me. Kind of like reading a trashy celebrity magazine with pictures under the title, Celebrities Are Just Like Us! showing us how celebrities buy groceries! walk the dog! drink coffee!

Gravitational wave physicists wear squishy, fluorescent green ear protectors!

Here is a picture of an actual scientist who is listening for gravitational waves:

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

He was surrounded by RSPs, Really Smart People, who asked serious scientific questions. I, on the other hand, while somewhat smart, left the serious scientific questions to others, and instead, probed for confirmation of the astounding rumors.

The scientist skillfully squirmed his way out of such questions, and I was left unsatisfied.

But maybe there was evidence here?

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

No, I found none. But I cannot speak the language of this people.

But ho, ho, ho, ho! Physicists and their sense of humor: 

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

You know how when you are in a tour group and there's always That Person who asks all the questions related to obscure bits of minutiae that NOBODY cares about but that person? Well, sometimes I am that person, but on this tour, someone else took on that role! So I could fly under the radar, and under the cover of that person's really smart questions, I could ask deceivingly simple questions like: Tell us about those rumors. We PROMISE not to tell anyone when we leave here.

Alas, to no avail.

LIGO, Livingston, Louisiana. January 2016.

But the man above choked with emotion at the possibility of the rumors being true. Gravitational waves. From space. In my lifetime.

So were the rumors true? 

Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein's Prediction, news release from LIGO Caltech

Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story of How Scientists Finally Found Them, The New Yorker, February 2016