Monday, September 30, 2013

Stones, Stones, Who Took His Stones?

"Well, I think the election changes that. It's pretty clear that the President was reelected. Obamacare is the law of the land." 

-- Speaker John Boehner, in an ABC News interview on November 8, 2012, on whether he would still try to repeal the health care law.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Congressional Battering and a Lesson in Fear

Today, I had the talk with our son.  You know, the "honey, because of those cruel, petty asshats in DC playing politics with our lives, your daddy may be out of work next week" talk.  The talk that details the things that will immediately fall by the wayside.  Like cable TV.  Like the paintball Zombie-fest he's been looking forward to since March.  Like the strings for his electric guitar and the new cord to stop that crazy buzzing.

Like his beloved Hapkido classes that represent the only real "in person" interaction he gets with other kids his age. It's three nights a week he gets to hang out and learn and grow with other kids.

And it is OUTTA HERE if those mean, politicking monsters in Congress keep it up.

Explaining to him that, unlike the last time this happened, these bastards almost certainly won't reimburse the families they're devastating.

And make no mistake--they are threatening to devastate us.  It's his first lesson in what happens when bills don't get paid.  How they don't just scoot forward a month, but they become overdue, compounded with fees and fines and penalty interest rates, then lumped into the next month's bill, which is still due.  Things don't get pushed back, they get piled up.  And then the vicious tide of endless calls from creditors starts.  The three, four, five calls a day per creditor.  And each time they pretend they don't know you've already called, already explained.

Already begged.

We are working so hard to drag ourselves up and out of debt.  This will be the end of us, financially.  There will be no recovering from this.

Add that that my looming medical appointments for the large, growing mass in my forearm.  Oh, the copays.  Not just the 35 bucks a pop for doctor's visits, but the fifty+ for the MRI, the 100+ per hospital, etc.  Like having a possible sarcoma growing in my arm wasn't enough, the Republican Party has to trap us under their boot and gleefully threaten to twist that heel.

And it is gleeful.  Don't you DARE tell me otherwise, I read their words, I see their satisfied little smirks.  What happened to public service?  They're not serving anyone but themselves and their corporate masters.

And here's the truly bitter part: any one of them could fix our financial woes in a second. They have that kind of money.  They could just say, "Oh, shoot, 15 grand is all you need to be solvent? Here you go."  But that would be welfare.  That would be wrong.  Bootstraps and all that crap.  Except they're looking to slash those bootstraps and then, once again, castigate us for not being able to save ourselves when they've taken away our only means of salvation.  We are trying, we are paying things down and paying things off, but it's going take about two years to get it all done.  Unless they shut down the government.

Then it won't ever happen.

And all of this over a program the American People have already weighed in on.  They did--they VOTED FOR BARACK OBAMA!  Seriously, what do these bastards think that meant?   They ran their boy Mitt on a platform of killing Affordable Care, and they LOST.  They LOST, and yet they keep terrorizing Americans in attempt after attempt to  . . . unlose?

I know what they're trying to do.  They hope that, if they can make things as painful and miserable and bloody as possible for folks like us, we'll throw our sad, terrified hands in the air and say "Fine! Defund Obamacare, just please, please don't sink my family!"  They know that, given enough fear and hurt, we'll eventually buckle under and throw our fellow Americans under the bus to save our own families.

According to one nutty windbag down in Texas, if the American people get a taste of affordable care, they'll be "hooked."

"Hooked" on affordable health care for everyone.  Oh, the horror!

The stress kills.  They say that it shortens your life and opens you up to all sorts of awful ailments. From obesity to cancer, there's a stress link.  So it's not much of a stretch to say that the Republicans in Congress are attempting to murder me.

This is terrorism.  There's no other word for it.  Every few months, they come at us with threats of shutdowns and furloughs and slashing of services, using us and our lives as game pieces, bargaining chips.  And each time, the constant, thrumming adrenaline, the panic, the insomnia, the tears.  It's terrorism, plain and simple.

Congressional Republicans are terrorists.  They're why Guantanamo Bay needs to stay open for business.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Family History Fraught with Grief

I've been doing the family history gig a bit lately.  It hurts me that I know so little about my parents' families, and I don't want my boy's kids to feel the same way about me, so I've been telling him stories, plus gathering information about my family for him.

If you've been hanging around for a while, you know that it's not easy getting truthful stories out of my Mom.  It's not that she's malicious, but rather that she's an odd blend of fanciful and forgetful, with a need to seem interesting, to have her life appear exciting.  It makes for unreliable tales.

But it's more than that.  I'm not sure what was going on with my Mom's family, but those people, including her, were so emotionally disconnected.  I have a few generic stories from her childhood, but nothing meaty, nothing that seems sincerely personal.  Even the tale of her firstborn, illegitimate and given up for adoption, smacks of untruth.  The details change, the story shifts, and I have no way of knowing--do I really have an older brother out there?

Today, I was talking to my Dad.  I had come across a story online about my Grandfather (his Dad), and I hadn't ever known.  It turns out my Grandpa and his younger sister spent time in an orphanage after coming to the States from Italy.  Their father had died, and their mother couldn't take care of them.  She was able to take them back after a time, but the idea of them being left in an orphanage because their widowed mother couldn't afford to feed them?

Sure does bring the whole Food Stamp debate home, doesn't it?  If those are the "good ol' days," I don't want 'em.

The conversation wandered from my Grandpa to his wife, my Grandma.  Her family was from Ireland, and her father died in prison.  I'd known that, known that he was locked away and died there.  What I didn't know?

Why he was locked up.  It turns out he'd sexually assaulted his daughter.  My Grandma.  The trial was hell on her, involved being examined in the courtroom for signs of "violation."

Suddenly her abusiveness and lifelong alcoholism make sense.

Upon reflection, I realize these are awful stories.  Orphanages and molesting fathers and dying in prison and grandmas drinking themselves to death and possibly make-believe siblings.  And I think maybe there's a good reason I was lacking family stories as a child.  And that begs the question:  do I share this stuff with my son?

I think the answer is "absolutely."  If nothing else, it gives him a solid understanding of how, exactly, the "good ol' days" weren't really all that good, and people we love can be pretty solidly flawed.  And we can love them anyway.

Except for Great-Grandpa Joe, the child molester.  I don't think we love him.


On the subject of family history and memories, I'm feeling weirdly short of time.  Having a growing lump in the soft tissue of your arm does that, I guess.  The blood sugar issues don't help.  I want to sit down with our boy and start labeling photos.  We have so many photos that aren't labeled, and I know just how frustrating that is to, years later, come across pictures from mom, dad, grandparents, etc., and not know who is in the picture.  So I need to get on that.  It's important.

Thirty-some-odd women in this picture, and I know who exactly ONE of them is.  

Impending government shut down.  Next month can either rock our world (in a good way) or devastate us.  We have no savings.  I have looming medical appointments that may well turn tragic (or not).  Hubby is EITHER looking at the first overtime pay we've had in two years OR being put out of work by those greedy, grubby, scuzzy wingnuts in Washington.  Either we'll finally be able to breathe again OR we'll be utterly toast.  And NOTHING I do will in any way influence the outcome.  

And that is SO hard for me.


Speaking of those asshats in Congress, here's Bernie Sanders giving a good review of what, exactly, it is those creatures are up to:

Yeah, that's about all the politics I have for tonight.  Too pitched and stressed to really get into it.


I've run across a gang of really crappy baby names lately--happens when you're trolling the obituaries for fellow high school alumni.  Names that make me want to scream.

Names like Wonzie LaShae and Tru-Jake.  And Apathy-Ann.

Yes, Apathy-Ann.  

Say it with me, would you?  THAT'S NOT A NAME!


Oh, and a quick note to the guy who found my husband's iPod in the gym at the office in town? Thank you.  My husband was devastated, he has 60+ gig of music on that thing (every bit of it paid for over the years, thank-you-very-much), and replacing it is out of the question right now.  He was very sad, and I was terribly sad for him.  Much like my iPad (which I won in a contest), if it breaks or is stolen, that's it--it's not going to be replaced.  So thank you for returning it.  It means a lot.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Obamacare Junkies and Life Eternal

So, I've been thinking more on the whole "Obamacare defunding" debacle, and the miserable, cheat-y "throw the dice over and over until we get the result we want" approach the right has taken with this matter.  What, is this the 42nd time they've tried to kill affordable health care?  43rd?

Please, doesn't that tell you something about who they're representing?  Because if you make less than half a mil a year, it's not YOU!

I was thinking about that ridiculous, rotten creature from here in NOVA--what's her name?  Comstock?  The wingnut who actually said that folks who make $250,000 really have to struggle to make ends meet?

Sure, Barb, if they're shooting for the Hamptons or a 7,000 square foot McMansion in Mclean.  But out here in the REAL Virginia?  250 grand would have us out of debt and a house bought.  After that?  It's European vacations every summer and a new car every year.  Seriously.  Fifty grand a year would pay every bill we have, including groceries and rent.  The other two hundred grand?

WOWSER icing.  But it's telling, isn't it?  That this woman could stand up and say something that outrageous, that aloof and out-of-touch with America and not be castigated?  Not be tossed out the door as a spoiled, utterly alien creature who has no understanding of real life in America?  While you and I are blinking, goggling at her breathtaking classism, the Republican party embraced her and her words.

Because that is who they are, and if you believe different, it's because you're either operating under the mistaken idea that your Daddy's Republican party still exists, or you've fallen for the billions in slick advertising, corporate-funded and intended to do that very thing--fool you.

Here's THE thing, really--the right doesn't want us to have affordable health care because they know we'll like it.  If it's fully implemented, we'll be so happy with it they'll never be able to undo it.  Think I'm full of it?  Think I'm making that up?

Read THIS.  Yes, Cruz actually said that.  He made it clear that, if Americans actually get a taste of "Obamacare" in full swing, they'll be "hooked" like addicts.

Addicted to affordable, quality health care.  The mind stinking boggles.  That the right would even view being "hooked" on good health care as a PROBLEM is . . . well, is the PROBLEM.  How twisted do you have to be to have the amazing health care our politicians have while viewing programs to extend good health care to everyone as evil and wrong?

As twisted as the right in America these days, apparently.


Anyway, I lost track of where I was going--I've been thinking a lot about the right's dastardly approach to healthcare, and I realized what it is they're trying to do.  You see, if they can make this process as miserable, as trying and frightening and noxious as possible, folks like me might just throw our hands in the air and say, "Oh, fine, defund it, just stop with the threatened shutdowns every few months, stop with the furloughs and the absolute torturing of military and federal families!"

Because I'm close.

You see, I don't actually benefit from "Obamacare."  I have better-than-average insurance through my husband's employer, and that's not going to change with or without "Obamacare."  We're not affected in any real way (other than our son will be covered until he's 26 under our policy).  So if those bastards manage to kill affordable health care, it doesn't affect me.

Except in my heart.  My brain.  Except when it comes to having empathy for other Americans, wanting to see OUR PEOPLE have a better life.  Then it affects me.


But the right is hoping to wear me down.  Me, and the millions like me who are troubled by the fact that poor areas with lower educational attainment and low rates of insurance have markedly reduced LIFE EXPECTANCY.  Yes, they can say it's about race (and ignore the poor white women so often affected), but dig deeper--it's about poverty, and one of the hallmarks of poverty is difficulty in accessing quality health care.

That horrifies me, and it should horrify everyone.  Two Americas--one for those who can afford education, medicine, and a "good" life, and another for those who can't.  And that second America?  Has people dying.  Dying of things the rest of us don't have to worry about.


But the right doesn't care.  They do not care.  And so they do everything in their power to cut medical coverage, cut housing assistance, cut food assistance, slash educational budgets and access to student aid.  And at the end of the day, if they get everything they want?

We have a permanent lower class that cannot hope to reach beyond or rise above.  A class that doesn't live as long, doesn't live as well, and is denied what the rest of us consider a given.  A class that may, if some nutty gits in places like Utah have their way, not even have compulsory education to help haul them up.  A class that will be relegated to minimum wage work and forelock-tugging.

Or armed robbery, home invasions, and drug addiction.  Because poverty in the richest society in the world?  Lends itself to violence.

I don't want any of this.  I want my country back!  The country that cared about science and education and the welfare of its people!  I want everyone to have access to basic health care--you know, like they do in the civilized world where all those countries have folks who live longer than we do.  Who have fewer moms and babies dying.  Who have better educational systems and a higher standard of living across the board.

I want sanity back in our government, and dull-wits being whipped up by corporate cash, waving flags and calling our President a "Kenyan?"

That's not sanity.  That's well-planned, ingeniously executed, precisely aimed stupidity.  It's stupid people allowing themselves to be manipulated by those who benefit from their stupidity.  It's not American.

It sick.  It's sick, and the right knows that, to protect ourselves, we'll throw our brothers and sisters under the wingnut train.  To keep my husband working and our rent paid, they're counting on me to give up on my poorer fellows.


On a mostly unrelated note (I guess the common theme is wishful thinking?), I was challenged the other day by a theist friend who couldn't grasp my lack of belief.  She asked how I could possibly find any joy in life if I think this is our only go-round.  She said that she found it sad that I didn't believe in an afterlife.  Asked how I couldn't WANT that.

And that last?  Well, there's where she's wrong.

I get wishing that there was an afterlife.  I get seeing the obituary for the developmentally delayed boy and thinking how cool it would be if now, in some alternate "heavenly" place, he was clear of thought and brilliant, even.  I get wishing that the girl rooted to her wheelchair in this life could be dancing in some next world.  I get that, I understand how amazing and appealing the idea is.  You think I don't want to spend forever with my boy?  That I don't GET how cool and wonderful and reassuring that would be?

Of course I GET that.  I also get that it's not true. It's make-believe, it's mythology, it's stuff made up to make people not panic over the total suckiness of not being anymore.

I think all Atheists get it.  Sure, it would be super-wonderful-cool to go on forever as ourselves.  It would be amazing to spend eternity happy with the people and things we love.  It's not realistic, it's not reasonable, and it's not REAL, but, as fantasies go, yes, it's a great one.

Some Atheists will give you the "stardust" speech--you know, everything returns to stardust, energy never disappears, when we die we go back to the cosmos that created us?

Yeah, that one doesn't work for me, either.  Because that's not ME, that's just parts of me.  That's like cutting off my pinkie fingernail and sending it to France, then claiming I'd traveled the world. No, I didn't.  And going back to the cosmos (or the ground) in parts and pieces is not the same as living forever.

Fact is, we don't live forever.  We live this short time, and then we die.  And the best we can hope for is to make enough of a difference that the world is better for our having been.  If we luck out and manage to find a positive way of being remembered?

All the better.  But this is it.  There's no practice run, and there's no rewind.  And there's no encore.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baggers Push to Shut Down the Government--take SEVEN

What a fool I've been.  I actually thought that maybe John Boehner would not be our Silly Putty Speaker this time out.  I actually thought that he might be something other than the obstructionist, mean-spirited, easily-manipulated, utter TOOL that he has been since--well, since he took national public office.  I actually thought he might have something vaguely resembling stones and stand up to the BS from the ratty Bagger contingent.

Oh, what an IDIOT I am!  I'm expecting this man to grow stones and a backbone when that would require some vestigial bit of humanity from which to work.  Can't sprout human parts from a squid.

Or a sponge.

So the right keeps trying to defund "Obamacare," even though it WORKS, even though it will cost folks LESS, even though it is MORE efficient AND provides poor people with insurance.


Yes, they'll keep doing this until they can kill the program--not because it's a bad program, not because they have anything better (or anything at ALL, even) to offer up in its place, but because it came from the Black guy, and they hate the Black guy.

So, once again, my family is facing that cliff.  I have a growing lump in my arm, we have NO savings, we're scrabbling to pull ourselves back from that edge, and here's John-Stinking-Bendover-Boehner, looking to shut down the government and put my husband out of work (and my family out of food, rent, and medical care) because he's the mouthpiece for the petty, stupid, selfish, corporately-sponsored right.  The Mike Lees of the world.  You can't imagine the horror of knowing that even leaving that pit of a state 2,000+ miles behind hasn't saved me from Utah's Mike Lee.

The immaturity and stupid, lumbering slyness of the right is scary enough.  That there are enough people in this country stupid enough to fall for the slick mega-corporation money that funds their campaigns (money flooding in from industries looking to buy representation) is even scarier.  We are a nation packed with people who think that a 30 second campaign commercial teaches us all we need to know, and THAT is terrifying.  At the very most, that 30 second advert should be the jumping off point for major research.  But no--we're too dull-witted to think things out for ourselves.  We let the NRA, the oil lobby, and polished, manipulative political advertising feed us our ideas and then we vote just like we've been told to.

Is it any wonder the right is so often behind efforts to cut educational funding?  Hell, in Utah, there's a wingnut effort to end compulsory education.  Why?  Because stupid people are easier to manipulate with slick ads.

We scare the hell out of me.  Idiocracy, indeed.

So, deficit's down (and it was never the emergency they painted it, anyway), jobs are up, healthcare costs are down, and Boehner and his sneering crew of self-satisfied, petty corporate puppets are, now and forever, it seems, up to their scuzzy tricks.  As a result, we're looking at five days before these asshats try, once again, to shut down the government unless "Obamacare" is scrapped.  And even if we get through this, there's the debt ceiling "talks" looming, where they can do this to us all over again.

I can't think of things bad enough to live up to what they deserve.  I wish them every unhappiness.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Colorado Floods and Mean Obituaries

So, Colorado and flooding.  What a terrible mess!  Terrifying, and the destruction is breathtaking. I'm noticing, though, that much of the devastation is being visited upon the very counties threatening secession.  I'm wondering how long before Pat Robertson begins shouting to the heavens that this is GAWD'S judgment for sinful rebellion against our leader (Romans 13:2) -- oh, wait.  No, he only does that when the victims of whatever perfectly explainable natural phenomenon are gay, uppity women, minorities, or democrats.

Silly me.

Weld County is one of those nut-baggy secessionist counties--or, rather, Weld County is unlucky enough to have a County Commission packed with the sort who object to regulations of firearms and oil exploration.  No reason to paint the entire county with that broad brush, right?  I'm sure not everyone there is . . . well.  You know.

And Weld County is utterly devastated--140+ roads closed (possibly washed away), oil pipelines and fracking operations damaged/leaking/otherwise compromised (you remember the oil pipelines--the ones the secessionists don't want the dirty democrats regulating?), and untold waste flowing with the flood waters.  Farms and ranches underwater.  How long, do you think, will it take for "we don't need no steenkin' liberal government interfering" to turn to "Please, sir, I want some more?"   I'll bet the relief/aid dollars are already flowing into Weld County and its ding-batty, "Patriots R Us" neighbors. And you know what?

That's as it should be.  Despite their stupidity, their hyperbole, their tea-baggery self-aggrandizing, they are Americans and Coloradans, and helping them is exactly why we pay our taxes to fund the very programs they hate.  The very programs that will now save them.  I'm glad to have my taxes go to rebuild their roads, I'm glad to know that my money will help Americans rebuild and recover.  Not the NRA's money, not Ted Nugent's money, not Halliburton's money.  America's.

That's part of what being an American is all about.  And I hope the secessionists of AMERICA take away that lesson, so the next time a Hurricane Katrina or a Super-Storm Sandy hits, they'll think before mouthing off about how New Jersey and Louisiana should have better planned for disaster, how it shouldn't be their state's job to help rebuild the Jersey Shore.

How they don't want/need those liberal dollars.


Speaking of wingnuts and taxes and infrastructure, those very Colorado wingnuts might have some 'splainin' to do.  Turns out, when you refuse to fund things like dam and road and bridge repairs, they--well, they fall down and wash away in floods.  Funny how that works, huh?  

Had a rather wild blow-out on my Facebook wall a couple of days ago.  I posted the latest "we hated you, Mom" obituary, and had a gentleman tell me that, regardless of the truth of the matter, the children should have been quiet, that their speaking out was "cheap" and "ill mannered."  He went on the suggest that the these children were probably just upset because they didn't get the cell phone they wanted for Christmas.

Oh, gosh.  You know how I get about victim-blaming.  About telling people they should shut up about abuse they've suffered because, gosh, we don't want to hear it.

To my credit, I didn't totally explode.  But this guy (who started out his argument with the "I put on the uniform to protect freedom" crap that's pretty much always meant to somehow bolster a weak argument or shut down dissent) kept arguing that HE would never do that, HE would never stoop so low, that even if HE were being beaten daily by lunatics, he'd never "air dirty laundry."

But Mark, it's not about YOU.  Who gives two spits what YOU or *I* might do?  It's not up to us to decide how these tortured children deal with the death of their torturer.  And publicly condemning, castigating, and "shushing" people is hardly "defending freedom of speech."  I'm glad you "put on the uniform"--really, I am, thank you!  My dad did, too.  But it doesn't lend your words more weight or somehow make you an expert on just any ol' thing you choose to weigh in on.  You want to talk to me about your MILITARY experiences, by all means, I defer to your superior knowledge.  But your knowledge of psychology, child development, child abuse, and the Bill of Rights?

Sucks, babe.

Here's the obituary:

And here's the full story, which makes it clear this was about just a titch more than bitterness over a Christmas present.


I want to finish with a thought.  It occurred the other day, and it was a joyous thing, really.  I almost cried when it came to me.

You know the old saying that how important a thing is can be measured by the number of words or terms we have in our vocabulary to describe it?  I have dozens and dozens of endearing terms I use to refer to my beautiful boy, from "Spy Boy" and "Pie Boy" to "Binge-Bopper" and "Snug-Bupper."  He has been "Seanie-Sean," "Sean-a-Lingo," "Ringo," "Bump Majingo," "Buboes" (yes, I know what that means), "My Heart," "Mungo," "Muppers," "Budget Baby," "Kiddlie," "Mustard," and a whole host of others.  Because it's true, I guess--the more you love something, the more you seek to paint it with words.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th

I don't think I've ever done a September 11th entry.  Funny, that date meant nothing before 2001. Well, not to most folks, anyway.  To us?

It's our nephew's birthday.  He was 11 years old.  Good age to have a colossal act of violence forever associated with your birthday.  Good age to burn that in.

So happy birthday, Buddy.  Love you.

My memories of 9/11 are the same as many folks'.  Woke up and dashed to the TV not even knowing why--something I'd heard on the radio while sleeping, I'm sure.  I turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane hit.

And then the wave.

You know, that wave of unreality that washed over?  That "I'm watching a Michael Bay movie" sensation?

And then I threw myself at the computer.  I had a lot of online pals who were part of the Project Greenlight gig.  A lot of pals in NYC.  Immediately, I went for the PG chat room.  Where was Serena?  Where was Doug?  Had anyone heard from Stephen?

It was a long while before we learned that one of our own had been on Flight 11.  Tom Pecorelli,

Tom was a great guy--funny, sharp, talented.  He was a lot of things, including cameraman for Fox Sports and E! Entertainment Television.  He was married to his love, and they were expecting their first child in April.  Tom had been in the Boston area for a friend's wedding and to visit his Dad.

He walked around carrying his boy-to-be's ultrasound picture.  That boy is now a handsome young man who never  had the joy of resting in his father's arms.

Three or four days after the towers fell, our boy, who was three, found a potato bug (you may know them as pill bugs or "rolly-pollies").  It seemed a harmless thing--we were doing yard work, so we admonished him to be careful with the potato bug and then went back to our task.  We lived right in the flight path of an International Airport, so the silence was something palpable,  made us edgy, uneasy.  After a few minutes of working under that pall of nothingness, our little boy approached.  He held out his hand, in which the now-dead potato bug rested, and said, "Fix it, Daddy."

Fix it.

Hubby and I crouched down, and I said, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry.  It can't be fixed."

Our boy was insistent, so earnest and sad.  "Please, Daddy--please fix it, I broke it."

Voice cracking, my husband explained that, once something is dead, it can't be fixed.  It's forever broken.  Our boy's eyes filled with tears and he said he was so, so sorry.  Poor Mr. Potato Bug.

And then the grownups lost all cohesion.  We wrapped ourselves around our boy and cried and cried.  Over a potato bug?

Of course not.  Well, maybe a little.  But mostly we cried because of all those people.  And all those other people who'd lost those people.  We cried because we realized how foolish it was to ever think that making war internationally wouldn't eventually splash back here.  We cried because the world our little boy is going to live in isn't the world of my childhood.  It's the logical consequence, I recognize that now, but the carefree assumption that terror and war only happen in other lands?

Gone.  And I grieved.  I mourned that almost as much as I mourned the amazing, varied, priceless human beings we lost on 9/11.

And before I go (and I am going--there is no room here for funny pictures or complaints about awful baby names), I want to say thank you.

To Canada.

Because in the days after 9/11, when our skies were bereft of planes and our American citizens were stranded in the air, unable to come home, Canada took them in.  Canadians opened their airports, their arms, their hearts, and their homes, provided shelter and food and care.  Because they are our friends.

So thank you, Friends.  I hope we never, ever have to return the favor.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Arizona's Leading Export?

I came across this disaster of stupidity today, thought for sure it had to be satire.  You know, like there's no way people could be this stupid?

And then I remembered Tara.

Tara used to hang out on a breastfeeding support board I frequented.  Tara was every single thing you fear in fundamentalist Christians.

Tara believed that Harry Potter was from the devil, that JK Rowling was an imp of Satan.  Tara believed the same of L. Frank Baum and the Wizard of Oz.  Toto?  More like Asmodeus.  

And Star Trek?  Oh!  Oh, the rant was perfectly crazy, with cries of "Satan!" and "aliens are demons!" and "the earth is only a few thousand years old and is the ONLY place that supports life! Other planets?  Put there by SATAN to sully our faith and tempt us from GAWD!"

I'm not exaggerating.  Tara homeschooled to keep her children from being exposed such evil ideas as dinosaurs (fossils are the work of Satan, created to fool us and make us doubt our creator), evolution (I don't even have to repeat the protestations there, do I?), and climate change (God will provide, and if God doesn't provide, it's because it's the END TIMES).  

In other words, she homeschooled for the exact opposite reason we do.

That Tara was also a chain-smoking, foul-mouthed creature who lived off aid from the government she despised (loudly and vociferously) and, according to folks who knew her personally, was churning out kids who couldn't read or write?  All the better, you know?  

After recalling dear Tara, I realize that maybe the Harry Potter-slaying thumper weirdos from Arizona are the real deal.  After all, Arizona gave us Joe Arpaio and Jan Brewer.  Makes these ladies seem like typical Arizona fare.

Found this in a clearinghouse of shots, but if Tara had something other than
a rusted out pick-up truck, it'd look just like this


Tired of hearing the "Obama recklessly jumped for unilateral war in moments, while G.W. Bush carefully deliberated for months before making a decision backed by a coalition of world leaders" crap.  Um--one glaring issue here?  G.W. Bush spent months drumming up support (through the use of fabricated "intelligence") to attack a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and had, until we blundered in, zero Al Qaeda presence.  So don't.  Be honest, admit it--no matter WHAT our President does, the right will condemn it.  If we go in, he's a warmonger, and if we hold back, he's a coward who coddles murderous dictators.  And, at its heart, it all boils down to this--he's the "liberal" (in as much as any politician is these days) black guy they didn't want to win.  And they will do whatever they can to obstruct and thwart the liberal black guy, not because they find his policies abhorrent (they LOVED "Obamacare" when Mitt Romney was pushing it), but because they find HIM abhorrent.  

Found this image on a lovely blog called "Don't Eat the Daisies."

And this one on a brilliant blog called "Sticking Points" on

Notice BOTH these trucks are from Arizona?  Sort of hearkens back to the first bit, huh?

Me?  I don't think there's any right answer, but I know this--anything that moves into the vacuum created by Assad's ouster will be at least as bad as Assad.  Probably worse, because it will have the nutbag fundamentalist contingent running the show.  We can either pick our poison or stay out and let the region settle itself.  And since we know we won't do the latter, and we know that Assad pisses us off with his refusal to butt-kiss, I'm guessing we'll take him down.  I don't like him, but that doesn't make taking him out a smart, good, or right thing to do.  Like I said, short of staying out of it, I don't think there IS a "right" thing to do, and I'm not sure staying out of it is RIGHT, either.  


Obviously no news on might-be-cancer arm.  Won't be for almost a month.  I did find myself sitting alone in bed, completely losing cohesion.  I had something of an epiphany, though.  A double one, really, A seemingly mutually exclusive pair, yet somehow it works.

Oh, yeah, the thing?

It turns out that, when you're sitting on the bed, hugging a pillow while sobbing/chanting "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm alright, I'm okay," you're probably not.  Regardless, doing that for 20 minutes?

Makes you feel a whole a lot better.


And now, for a really bad name?  

Braxton Hicks.  I am not kidding, someone named their kid Braxton Hicks (that's first and middle). Do they think they're funny?  Do they think they're cute?  Is it some dim-witted inside joke? Because your child's name shouldn't be an inside joke.  My ex-roommate planned to name her son "Brock Lee."  Thought it was hilarious, insisted no one would "get it."  The only thing that saved him?  All of her friends ganged up on her and swore we'd never babysit if she did.  But I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose respect for her.  Sure, she changed her mind, but just that she considered it is enough to knock her down a few rungs.

Or it would be, if she weren't dead.  But that's another story.


So here--have something ugly to cleanse the palate:

Clearly, I'm having formatting issues again.  It's beyond me, and I refuse to obsess.  Much.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Things Eat Things in my Garden!

Had a heck of a surprise in the garden today.  Our heirloom tomatoes have been struggling (so have our heirloom cukes, which have what I think is downy mildew--still producing great, but the leaves are dying back pretty hard).  The tomatoes have dead leaves, curled leaves, and we won't even talk about the squirrels eating the fruit as it comes ripe because that's nothing to do with this.  But who knew squirrels would eat tomatoes?  NEVER happened to us in Utah.  Of course, in Utah we had pine trees, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, sumac, and a gigantic walnut tree.  Maybe they left the tomatoes (and bulbs) alone because there was better to be had.

Not my squirrel, just representative of the problem
Anyway, back to the tomatoes and their curly, crackly leaves.  Had no idea what was wrong, just hoped they'd hold out (and survive the squirrels) long enough to give us a decent crop.  So, I'm out there, watering, when I notice a large patch of what looks like big white eggs.  I'm thinking, "Ohhhh, is THAT what's wrong with the 'maters?"  I look around, and realize there are at least a DOZEN patches like this.  And then, I look even closer.  And I see this:

and these:

And I realize these aren't "eggs" on leaves or stem, these are "eggs"  on caterpillars!

At first, I was really concerned--we had a bumper crop of Black Swallowtail caterpillars this year, and, while they don't tend to hang out on tomatoes (they like our dill and parsley a lot more), fact is, my first thought was "ooooooh, poor caterpillars, poor baby butterflies!"  I told my husband I thought they were probably parasitic wasp eggs, and came inside to check.

My concern turned to joy pretty quickly.  The caterpillars?  Are evil hornworms.  And the "eggs?"  Are actually the cocoons made by eggs that have hatched.  Eggs from Braconidae wasps.  Just little guys who do a big job in the garden.  We may be lacking bees this year (which worries me a lot), but we've apparently got a whole slew of beneficial/parasitoid wasps.  And that's a GOOD thing!

 I want to give a shout-out to another blogger whose wonderful page made solving this mystery a breeze:  Half a Hundred Acre Wood.  Hoping she won't mind the link back, her entry on hornworms was very informative, with great pictures.


Speaking of the garden, I haven't really posted many pictures of our tiny postage stamp of a yard lately.  So here you go:

As I always feel obligated to point out, those aren't weeds between the stones, that's thyme.

Cukes and tomatoes against the fence.  Neighbor's LOVING it.

Five dollar pretty from the Farmer's Market.

This is a little earlier in the year, things don't look so orderly against that fence now!

One of our bandits.  Note the tomato.

Hubby's loving the peppers!

Our amazing cukes.  We've never had luck like this before.

Daylily was a gift from a friend.

I know, that's a lot of silly yard and garden pictures.  Distracts me from the growing mass in my arm, the expired lease with no word from the landlord, the disastrous cash flow issues, our boy's sudden declaration that it's time for him to get his learner's permit, and the recurring bouts of light-headedness combined with the "swallowed a golf ball" sensation I've had the past few days.  That last is called a cricopharyngeal spasm, and I only get them when the stress has hit a super-ultra pitch.  I guess I can look forward to at least a month of that, considering it's a month before the ortho can see me.  

What a  mess.

Anyway, enough of that--have something ugly:

If you were hoping for some politics today, I'm all worn out.  Syria bad, Assad bad, rebels bad, Israel bad, Saudi bad, wingnuts bad, USDA approving Chinese chicken processing BAD.

That's it, that's all I have in me today.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Riddle Me This

Both the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Institutes of Health say that a core needle biopsy should be performed by an experienced orthopaedic oncologist, yet the oncologists around here refuse to see me unless I have a "confirmed diagnosis."  Problem is, the only way to have a "confirmed diagnosis" is to undergo a core needle biopsy.  Which needs to be performed by one of those fancy Virginia oncologists who won't see me.

I could have someone else do it, but a biopsy performed by someone who isn't trained in handling cancers?  Could contaminate surrounding tissues and increase both morbidity and mortality. According to the experts, that is.

So tell me--what am I supposed to do here?

I feel completely helpless.  I guess I sit and wait 4+ weeks to see an orthopaedic surgeon and hope he'll order the MRI and then, if necessary, refer me to a good orthopaedic oncologist who will do the biopsy.

And is covered by our plan.

And will agree to see me.

See how those options narrow?

And before you say, "Don't go for the worst diagnosis possible" or "don't self diagnose," I'm not--I'm looking for the tests that will tell me what this is.  The term "soft tissue sarcoma" as a possibility to be ruled out came out of my PCP's mouth, not mine.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ahnd we LOFF and LOFF, dewnt we, AUNTIE?

Years ago, in a fit of pretentiousness, my sister decided her kids would call me "Auntie."  You know, like Dorothy's Aunt in the Wizard of Oz, only more silly/snobby-sounding?  Like "AHHntee?"  It's an affectation that has always driven me nuts.  Our family never used that term (not even my sister, who says "aunt" when referring to parental sisters), and it's utterly ridiculous-sounding to me.  It grates like teeth on wool, truth be told.  I never, ever wanted to be anyone's "auntie," always wanted to be their "aunt."  I approached my sister about this a few times, and spoke to her kids about it even more times, but to no avail.  The kids, when they started to call me "aunt," were roundly dressed down by her, told that they MUST use "auntie" because it pleases her.  

Never mind how it makes the "auntie" feel.  I was reminded of how my dad used to shout at me for calling Frank "Frank" instead of "Mr. Whittemore."  Never mind that Frank told me to call him "Frank," that being called "Mr. Whittemore" grated on him.  Back then, my sister went on and on about how stupid and unreasonable our father was.  


Finally, about four years ago, I put  my foot down.  I told my sister that it had to stop, it was getting to the point that, every time her kids addressed me, I was feeling angry.  I told her I'd rather her kids just call me by my first name, if "aunt" was too onerous.  Her response? That she would tell her kids to stop calling me "auntie" ONLY if I forced my then-12 year old to start calling her "auntie."  Period.  

If the pettiness surprises you, you clearly don't know my sister.  She had never been called "auntie," not in the twelve years she'd been an aunt, but now, suddenly, because I was asking to please, please not be called by a title I hated, she decided to turn the tables.  This is absolutely typical behavior.

I spoke to my son about calling her "auntie," and he promptly said, "That's stupid and childish--how about I don't call her anything at all?"

And he hasn't.  From that point on, he's only used her first name, no title whatsoever.  And that was the beginning of him not really talking to her at all.  He avoids her on the phone, he became completely withdrawn in her presence.  And it's because of this--he felt uncomfortable talking to her because he thinks "auntie" is breathtakingly stupid, and didn't want to have to say it.  Rather than risk running afoul of her, he just avoided her.  

For years.

He's only lately having any interaction with her, and that's because she responds to his Facebook things.  But I find it sad that her stupid pettiness interfered in that way.  I kept close to her kids, even when the "auntie" thing was driving me buggy, and, in fact, told her kids to never mind, call me whatever kept them from getting in trouble at home.  

It's a small thing, but you see, today my sister's daughter posted that it's so awful when people insist on calling you something you've asked them not to call you.  And it was all I could do to refrain from saying, "Gosh, yeah, don't I know it?"


Waiting until nine this morning to call a doctor about my arm.  I guess an orthopedist?  Funny, the closer I've gotten to today, the more twitchy and jumpy my arrhythmia's been.  Yesterday, the lip twitch started.  Just a small, irritating, hyperactive little tic that's got me feeling like Elvis.  Woke up at five this morning, wowserly sick to my stomach.  Paid our last rent on this lease on Friday, still no word on a new lease.  Making an appointment for our boy today, too.  

I need a break.  Just typing that up made my heart start thwacking.

A small post-script--couldn't get an orthopedist to give a spit, so I've made an appointment with my primary care.  No, not the primary care who said it wasn't something she was concerned about--I don't see her anymore, though still in the same practice.  I'll go in, refuse to be weighed, and start pushing for an orthopedist and an MRI.  Which is what I should have done a year + ago, but I was so relieved to hear that nothing was wrong, you know?  I HATE that I still do that. 


On a sad/funny note, I was searching for a birthdate for an old classmate who's died.  For that database I'm building for the alumni group.  For some reason, his obituary, which I dug out of my scrapbook, doesn't have a date of birth.  When searching online, the first result I got?

His son's mugshot.  You see, his son has, apparently, TATTOOED his father's name, birth date, and death date on his BACK.  I guess that's not too crazy (until you see the other tattoos), but I think it's the oddest source of information I've tapped in this search.  And goodness knows, there are worse things to tattoo on your back.

Not sure if that's supposed to be Cliff, Robert, or Jason.  Just saying that likely made a Metallica fan explode.

Back from the doctor's office.  Where I was told that they don't know what it is, how about I see an orthopedist.

I PAID for that!  25 bucks I dropped for that when we can barely make the RENT!  And then? Then they recommended an orthopedist who ISN'T COVERED BY MY PLAN!  The three I can find who ARE?  Two aren't board certified, one IS board certified, but has an atrocious reputation and doesn't operate out of the ONLY hospital I'm approved for, and all describe themselves as "spine and sports" orthopedics.

SINGLE payer!  This jumping through hoops bullshit is exactly that--BULLSHIT!  I've been on the phone to my insurance provider three time, and my PCP twice, just since NOON.  That doesn't count the calls to various orthopedists.  And after all that, what do I have?

SQUAT!  No appointment with an orthopedist, no answers, no MRI lined up, NOTHING.  Oh, and to top it off?  An MRI "might" be covered, but it might NOT be--who knows?  I'll bet my insurance company does, but they're playing it close.

. . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . .  . . . . .  . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .

Two hours later.  I was just turned down by six different ortho offices--apparently spines and sports are where it's AT.  Lumpy, tumorous arms just aren't glamorous enough.  All of them recommended I go with the guy my PCP recommended.  You know, the guy who isn't covered by my plan?  Wound up going with someone three towns and vicious traffic away, not because he seems particularly competent or a good fit, but because he's who'll see me AND is covered by my insurance.

And he can't see me until the middle of next month.

American healthcare.  I'd laugh, if my upper lip would stop spasming long enough.


It's been an exhausting day.  Exhausting and super-duper irritating.  Ever spend five minutes listening to a receptionist chomp gum and snort/grunt through her nose while she takes a note for you and checks your files?  I have.  Today, in fact.  Began to worry she was eating the patients.

It was almost as irritating as someone naming their kid "Consatyn."


Hey!  Hey, you!  Yeah, the one with the flowered acrylic nails!  CONSATYN isn't a name!  Okay?


And now for something ugly.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Beauty Queen Bombers and Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus.

Yeah, no way I wasn't going to make my way there.  Eventually.

A lot of feelings about that, mixed.  That my son, who is fifteen, said it was "sad Miley has grown up to be a skank?"

Not good.  We had a long talk about women, sexuality, and how society views sexuality in women. We talked about the societal weight and double standard behind terms like "skank," "slut," and "skeeze."  And then we talked about the difference between childish posturing/caricature and real adult sexuality.

A talk someone should have had with Miley at some point.  About the same time they told her that rubbing off on giant foam fingers while your tongue works the makeup off half your face isn't particularly attractive.

From a compilation, no attribution provided

I'm embarrassed for the poor kid.  And yes, she is still a kid--probably more so than non-stage kids, because she really hasn't had a moment growing up when she wasn't being handled, coached, and manipulated.  I feel awful for her, and my one hope is this:  that if/when she manages to get away from all this, manages to find a normal, healthy, adult sexuality, she looks back on this mess and is KIND to herself.  Like I said, she's a kid, and fame is not gentle with kids--their every mistake, every exploration, is magnified for the viewing audience.  Every flaw, every misstep is blown up and out of proportion.  Plus, they're given the tools with which to aid in their own self-destructing without the limitations or sensibility to keep themselves safe and whole.

And those tools?  Most often delivered by people claiming to be friends.

So, I don't know about you, but I'm not going to go nuts on poor Miley.  I hope that, when it all blows over, she'll have taken something constructive and helpful from it all, and will grow toward that healthy person I hope she comes to be.

Hang in there, Smiley.

From Tumblr, no attribution provided

Reading the news back in Utah has been amusing lately.  Two stories I've been following have really been good for -- well, not a LAUGH, really, but maybe a surprised, eyebrow-raised, involuntary chuckle.

The first story?  Involves a woman who tried to murder her kids.  Twice.  Really, tried and convicted (of a lesser felony charge, of course), is incarcerated this very moment.  She's arguing that (hold onto your hats) ATTEMPTING TO MURDER HER CHILDREN TWICE SHOULDN'T INTERFERE WITH HER PARENTAL RIGHTS.  

Seriously.  The backbone of her case?  That, when medicated, she doesn't try to kill her kids.  


Sorry, no, not good enough.  Because you've shown in the past that you DON'T take your medication, and that you're good at FAKING taking your medication until . . . well, until you're trying to kill your kids.  Again.  So, no.  Better for your kids to be without a mom than be with a mom who drugs them and tries to kill them.

The second story?  Oh, this one's a GEM!  Beauty queen from Riverton, Utah.  Just crowned, prepping for the Miss Utah pageant.  Decides, with three friends, to build a bunch of DRANO BOMBS and toss them around the neighborhood.

Because, really, what else is there to do in Riverton on a Saturday Night?  I mean, who WOULDN'T drive around tossing INCENDIARY DEVICES full of CAUSTIC DRAIN CLEANER throughout the neighborhood?

Oh, but it gets better!  Yon beauty queen bomber's attorney?  Is arguing that SHE'S BEING SINGLED OUT AND HARSHLY TREATED BECAUSE SHE'S PRETTY.

Oh, yeah, because that's how it ALWAYS works.  The pretty ones get hired last, get paid less, get fired first, and are discriminated against even in academic circles.

No, wait.  That's the "not-pretty" ones.  The fat ones.  The pretty ones?  Are less likely to be prosecuted, less likely to be fired, more likely to advance in their careers, and are all-around in a better place.  A more advantageous position.  

 Her attorney goes on to protest the use of the word "bombs," calling the reference "unfortunate."

Is there a better word for things built to blow up when you launch them?  I  mean, I get that "rainbows" or "dolphin-kisses" might be NICER terms, might have less of an impact on a jury, but it seems to me BOMB is the one that fits this situation.  Unless Mr. Attorney would rather the prosecution go with the term "IED." Which is exactly what our hapless beauty queen was playing with. 

I actually feel sorry for this stupid girl and her stupid friends.  One night's epically bad choices have turned her future upside down.  Title?  Gone.  Scholarship?  Gone.  Shot at bigger and better beauty queen things?  Gone.  Sure, I would never recommend beauty queen-ing as a career path, but it was clearly HERS, and she blew it.  

Being stupid.

So I do pity her, but I had to laugh at the preposterous idea that she's being persecuted for her appearance or that the word "bomb" is somehow being unfairly used.  The girl may be facing 15 years, but I'll eat my hat if her pretty self sees a day in the State Pen.

Left is mugshot, right is the pageant pic that's all over the place online

I was going to dedicate a whole blog entry to Syria, but you know what?  Nasty Middle Eastern leader gassing nasty Middle Eastern rebels while civilians get caught in the middle, and we're looking to step in to help the nasty rebels who kill teenagers in front of their families for blasphemy?  I'm pretty sure we've done all this before--backed rebels who turned out to be as awful as those they were rebelling against?  Yeah, it seems creepily familiar, so let's talk about Afghanistan, instead.  Or Iran.  Or Iraq.  Or pick a country--meet the new boss, you know?

Oh, in case you weren't sure, here's where Syria is:

That's just shy of six THOUSAND miles away from Washington DC.  Which is like a threat, only not.  

Hey, I'm not saying that gassing people is good.  Instead, I'm saying this--it didn't bother us when governments we LIKED did it, we didn't scream and shout when OUR BOYS leveled villages with noxious gas, so I'm at a loss as to why we'd scramble up onto that high horse now.

Okay, I'm not really at a loss.  I'm just making a point.  And the point is this--nothing we do will improve things in the long run (or even the short-term).  Anything we do, any "intervention" we come up with will just make things worse.  It will kill even more people, it will reinforce the awful image we've created for ourselves as biased, self-appointed world cops, and, in the end, we'll wind up with something at least as bad in power over there.  Something that will, in a short while, turn on us and bite.  Something we'll despise and wind up taking out down the road.  In favor of some other rebel group that will also be just as bad.

Second verse?  Exactly the same as the first.  Maybe we should send the Beauty Queen Bomber to Damascus to sort things out?  Makes about as much sense as the rest of this.


Going to make an appointment for the arm, I'll call Tuesday.  Not sure WHO to call--not really wanting to throw money and time at the GP's office just so she can tell me to go see someone else.  So trying to figure out--do I go to an Orthopedist?  Or do I cut out the middle man, go straight for the fear, and make an appointment with an oncologist?

I think I'll go with orthopedist.  Nice, middle-of-the-road thing.  Keep it easy, peasy.

I am scared.