Thursday, May 30, 2013

James McAvoy Couldn't Save Me

So, I dreamed that hubby and I (hubby was James McAvoy, which I thought was rather nice of him) were spies.  Not just run-of-the-mill spies, but "if you get caught we don't know you, you're out in the cold" spies.  We'd captured . . . someone.  Some diplomat or counterspy or something like that.  Who just happened to be Joss Ackland.  Of course. Who else would he be?  He was unconscious, and we'd jammed him into a fifty pound bag of dog food (empty, other than Mr. Ackland, of course) and I was holding the bag rolled shut and jammed down at my feet in the car.

A faded blue 70s model Chevy, if I'm remembering right.

We were headed for some safehouse.  It was disguised as an old, decrepit "folk" Victorian home, just shy of "mansion" territory.  Much like the old place we pass every weekend on our way to the Farmer's Market, strangely.

As we made our way down a long, dark hall with warped wooden floors and peeling wall paper, Mr. Ackland began to stir.  I told hubby to hurry, that he was waking up.  We got to the room at the end of the hall and made a beeline for the closet.  See, the back of the closet was a false wall, and beyond was . . .

The afterlife waiting room from Beetlejuice.  No, no one from Beetlejuice was there, but it was that room.  That room, and it was full of spies waiting for assignments, spies waiting to be debriefed, etc.

Just as we began dragging the now struggling-in-the-dogfood-bag Mr. Ackland through the closet, it happened.  We'd been followed.

And a firefight ensued.

In the fray, I was shot.  At that point, I found myself watching from behind and above.  Watching as, shot, I shattered.  Like a mirror, I shattered. In fact, I WAS a mirror, and the long, bright shards of me collapsed in a shiny pile on the floor next to the wall.

And then I woke up.

I love my brain.  I love my husband.  But when my brain makes my husband James McAvoy?

Well, that, my friends, transcends mere love.

I have NO idea who this picture belongs to--I found it on a web search, clicked to find out whose it is (so I could ask permission and properly attribute), and wound up on a site rife with naked women and porn links.  It's an absolutely lovely pic, though.  I'll be glad to remove it, should the owner so desire.  


Tonights dietary adventure?  Fake hotdogs (Lightlife hotdogs) and with fake American Cheese (Veggy) on lower-carb whole grain bread with organic mustard and ketchup.  With Farmer's Market corn on the cob (steamed, no butter or salt, of course), steamed broccoli, and salad.  Dessert?

Pear, apple, and watermelon juice.  

This is gonna be tasty.  I hope.  I'll let you know.

And now, three hours later?  It WAS good!  The hotdogs weren't the BEST, but they were good, they were palatable.  The texture still needs some work, but with melted vegan cheese and some ketchup and mustard?  Perfectly fine--even the boy liked them!  And the juice?



Had a sad while today, after yet another over-the-top religious bit of whatever came skidding across my Facebook wall from an old friend.  She used to be pretty with it, pretty stable and happy, but a hard divorce and a subsequent relationship with a freaky, out-of-control, Libertarian survivalist ala Nugent really broke her.  I remember hearing it in her voice, knowing that she was getting more and more out there, more and more politically disconnected and extreme.  All the while, her drinking was becoming increasingly worrisome.  Three hour phone calls, so disjointed, so absolutely drunken, sometimes from work (her line of work wasn't well-suited to sloppy drunkenness).  Listening to her puke her stupid guts out over the phone, then having her ask, days later, "Did we talk the other night?  I don't really remember . . . "  

She had, in college, all the makings of someone who was going to keep growing, keep honing those critical thinking skills, but it didn't happen.  She's sunk into the swamp of falling for every Snopes-worthy hoax and posting increasingly strident religious memes.  She doesn't really seem to "get" social media, and I feel really bad for her.  I don't think she's happy, but I don't want to argue "faith" with her because I think clinging to that might be the only excuse she has for staying relatively sober.  

What a sad mess.  Not sure what to do, since I'm sure any attempt to reach out would be disastrous, and she seems very insecure and unstable.  So I guess I'll just let her gawdawful memes wash across my wall and keep my fingers still.  


Speaking of silly mythologies and gullibility, I just came across the friend of a friend's Facebook page.  His disjointed, failed-fartsy, barely literate attempt at wishing her good luck relocating led me to him.  Ever see the annual "worst fiction ever" contest?  This guy?

Absolutely a contender.

Anyway, so I check this guy's wretched page, and it turns out he's a "medium, psychic, spiritualist, and EMPATH."  He has, apparently, a "spirt" guide.  

Oh, goodness. Oh, my.  I may actually injure myself laughing.  My poor AURA is bright pink with mirth, and the VIBRATIONS I'm sending out can likely be felt for miles.  

There's a fortune to be made out there.  If only I could bring myself to manipulate and exploit the gullible.  But I can't

I just can't.  


And that's it.  Here's some ugly:

Add caption

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Low Salt, Low Carb, Low Calorie, and Low BS

So, in the midst of trying to save money, trying to pay things down, we've been screwing up a bit.  A JUICER here, a new crock pot there.  The juicer, while nice, isn't a necessity, and I'm really beginning to feel we shouldn't have gotten it just now--maybe saved that purchase for down the road a bit.  But hubby was inspired, he really wanted to try it, and it was pretty majorly on sale.  But still.  Now I feel obligated to push him to make juices because, otherwise, it's just a lump of cash on the counter, one of a million "used for a few weeks" juicers out there.

If you're in the market, it's a Cuisinart, and it does make super-nice juice, with pretty dry pulp.  No, I'm not trying to sell this one, just saying that if you're looking for a juicer and you can't afford a 600 dollar Breville, this one's good.  Here's a more DETAILED REVIEW.

The crock pot I feel better about.  While it won't save us any money on spaghetti sauce (in fact, it costs more to make at home), it does knock the sodium back by 75% over jarred sauce.  That's important to me, because I really struggle with keeping my sodium under 2,000 mg a day.  Plus, making our own Mexican beans at home IS markedly cheaper.  Make them in the crock pot, spice them up, then freeze them.  They're muy tasty, and a whole lot less expensive.

The gadget counter.  Funny, they all look very small in this picture.

Notice the dirty spoon?  That's for stirring the drastically lower-sodium homemade primavera/arrabiata sauce.  Here's a list of the ingredients and their nutritional information (we entered it as a recipe last night on My Fitness Pal so we can use it repeatedly without having to re-enter the information).  You can, of course, add whatever you want, but try not to add salt--sort of defeats the purpose:

Also, watch those red pepper flakes--they can heat up a vat of sauce in a big hurry!  Remember--less is more, you can always add more later.


Our boy is feeling very self-conscious about his weight and appearance, specifically when it comes to going to the pool.  While he's certainly not obese (like his mom), he could stand to lose 20 lbs according to his doctor, and I agree.  However, it's hard to get a 15 year old to stop eating the crap--or, more specifically, it's hard to get him to start eating the good stuff.  The sheer volume of food we wind up throwing away because he only picks at it?  Upsetting.  But we keep trying, because it's important.  You see, he was a freakishly picky child--so picky that we couldn't even take him to restaurants because he wouldn't eat anything on the menu.  No beef (that's okay), no pork (that's okay), no chicken unless it was breaded and baked or fried (but had to be REAL chicken, no parts-is-parts chicken), no green veggies, no beans, no rice.  He would eat bread and fruit.  And, as a result, he was incredibly skinny (like boney-skinny) until he was 11 years old.

When he finally decided that he actually liked pizza.

And we, in our foolish joy that he was suddenly able to eat at birthday parties and the like, encouraged him!  Try pizza with this, try it with that!  Try THIS--it's pasta, and it's really just pizza in noodle form!  

Boy, aren't we stupid?

Anyway, he announced last night that he wants to go to the pool alone.  And that brings with it new worries.  Because those ratty children in this neighborhood scare me.  What if they follow him?  What if they hassle him?  

Or follow him to the pool and ridicule him?

What if they attack him?  No, I'm not overreacting, one of the rat children attacked another boy just a couple of weeks ago, beat him and strangled him.  

I think I'll let him walk up, call me when he gets there so I know he made it okay, and then his dad can pick him up on his way home from work.  That will put our boy at the pool later in the day, which will reduce his sun exposure (skin cancer mommy doesn't like him getting baked), and it will have him NOT walking home later in the day.  

Oh, and before you think I'm being completely smothering, the pool is over a mile away.  It's not like I'm worried about him walking around the corner.  

I think he's hoping to make friends, and, while that would be great, I really fear that the rats in the neighborhood will spoil that pretty quickly.  It's happened before--the new kids turns out to know the rats, and they pressure him to stop hanging with our boy.  One kid in the face of a group of bullies?  Not many will brave those bullies to hang out with the "loner."  Who is only a loner because he's been excluded and put outside.  

Well, and because he doesn't want to hang out with kids who kill small animals and beat the hell out of other kids.  

We'll see.  Cross your fingers.


Saw a ridiculous meme come across my wall today:  

Okay, first off--seriously?  Let's be real here--Christ isn't the default position (if you think it is, look at India, the Middle East, or many Asian countries some time).  Children don't need to be taught NOT to believe in Jesus because that is the natural state-- NOT believing is normal, natural, and how we're built.  In order to produce people who don't embrace a particular mythology, all you have to do is avoid teaching that mythology as "fact."

Like they say--if you don't indoctrinate them by the age of seven, you almost certainly won't be able to.  My wonderful boy?  I read the bible to him, Old and New, before he was ten.  When I got to the story of Moses and the burning bush, he said, "Hang on--now God's a BUSH that's on FIRE and TALKS?  PLEASE!"  He demanded to see the book, thought for sure I was making it up.  After reading it, he looked up and said, "Nobody really believes this, do they?"


And that's about it, I guess.  Time to wake that boy up and find out who stole my dark chocolate bars.  

Here.  Have something ugly!


Monday, May 27, 2013

California Spidersaster

Back when hubby and I were fairly new, we decided to chuck it all in a U-Haul truck (something I would never do again--it's Penske all the way these days) and move to SoCal.  While it took us a few months to find the good hiking spots (we definitely found some BAD ones), we did finally settle into a beautiful routine of hiking and camping in the Cucamonga Wilderness Area.

Hang on, let me back up.

Hubby hates spiders.  So do I.  In fact, one night, while still living in Utah, we were terrorized until the wee hours by a wolf spider who climbed into bed with us and decided to scuttle and prod.  When we scrambled out of bed, he ducked between the mattress and the box springs and we waited hours for him to venture out far enough for killing.

Okay, fast-forward (back up) to the Cucamonga Wilderness.

Hubby (then boyfriend) and I were hiking about when I decided to scramble up a steep embankment to see what was up there.  Upon achieving the summit, I discovered the largest tarantula I'd ever seen--and I'd seen some pretty big ones.  You see, Mr. Anderson, my heart-breaking fifth grade teacher, had "pet" tarantulas he would bring in and allow us to handle.  So, to me, tarantulas were somehow different from "real" spiders.  My brain didn't class them with widows, recluses, or wolves.  So it was with great excitement that I yelled down the slope, "Hey!  Hey, check it out, come here!  Hurry!"

He hurried!  He was eager, excited--what magical treasure had his girlfriend found?

When I brought him in close for a good look, understand I wasn't being mean.  I wasn't.  I wasn't trying to freak him out or otherwise test his bladder control.  I was really excited to show him something cool.  His reaction?

Not quite what I was hoping for.

He gasped.  He goggled.  He nearly cartwheeled backward, arms pinwheeling.

He nearly went backwards right over the edge and down the embankment.

And he wouldn't speak to me for over an hour.

I finally said, "I really didn't mean to do that--I'm sorry.  I didn't think you'd freak out."

His response?  "You know I freak out on LITTLE spiders, but you didn't think a GIANT, HAIRY, 100 TIMES THE SIZE SPIDER would be a problem?"

No.  No, I didn't.  What can I say?

To hear him tell it, it happened just like this.

So, I've been conducting something of an experiment.  You see, last year, my doctor (such as she is) got on me for my cholesterol and vitamin D.  Specifically, she wanted to throw drugs at me--a statin for the cholesterol, and mega-massive doses of vitamin D (somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 IU).  I refused both.

The vitamin D I refused because my vitamin D sits at around 28 ng/ml, which is considered "insufficient" but not "deficient."  30+ is considered normal.  Megadosing isn't recommended in folks with levels above 21.  In fact, they've been found to do more harm (especially in the whole cardiac area) than good.  She argued, and I said, "I can cite my sources.  Can you cite yours?"  I then dug through my bag and pulled out the articles I'd printed out for her.  She gave a cursory glance, then said, "These don't really apply to you."  I said, "I'm 47 years old and have a level well above 21.  Why don't they apply?"  She said, "It's complicated."  I said, "I'm wicked smart, have 7 years of college under my belt, including most of the various biomed core and pharmacology classes--try me.  If you confuse me, I'll let you know and you can use smaller words."

She demurred.

On the statins, I found no reason to even consider taking them.  My LDL is 130, which isn't "optimal," but also isn't horrifying.  My HDL is low (33).  Statins do almost NOTHING for HDL--the best I could hope for is a 2-5% rise.  2-5% of 33?  Not worth the potential risk to my liver.  And Niacin/Nicotinic acid?  Absolutely contraindicated in folks like me with arrhythmias.  So, no.


Besides, newer research is showing that it's not the HDL that scrubs out those blood vessels and protects against heart disease.  No, it's the activities that lead to higher levels of HDL.  Folks genetically predisposed to have higher levels of HDL?  Have no decrease in heart disease.  In other words, the link between heart health and HDL is correlative, not causal.  It's actually pretty fascinating stuff.  If my doc is anything like the other GPs/PCPs I've had, she'll clue into this in five years or so.

It occurred to me last month that, instead of bracing myself for the huge battle coming up (less than two weeks off now), I should just . . . change it.

That's right, I should just change my lipid profile, I should just change my vitamin D.  

And so I've had no red meat, no pork, chicken, or other poultry in a month.  Fish twice a week (fatty fish like tuna, sword fish, and haddock), increased fruits and veggies, increased nut consumption, exercise five days a week (35-55 minutes a day), plus fish oil (filtered for mercury), garlic, and plant sterols and stanols.  I take a vitamin D supplement (yes, the right kind), and I keep trying to remember to get ten or so minutes of sun every day, but that one's hard to remember.  

Oh, and I've been eating 50-70 mg a day of 70% or higher dark chocolate, no Dutch processing, no alkalizing, no processed sugars or added oils.  It's been trial and error--my first dark chocolate bar? Green & BLECH 85%.  Yikes!

When I get my results back, I'll let you know if there's been a change.  If there hasn't been?

Well, at least I've been eating better, right?  I've lost 16 pounds since April 6th.

Oh, and the "no meats but seafood" gig.  Apparently, that's called "pescetarianism."  "Pesce" meaning fish, like "Pisces."  And it's recognized as a very healthy way to eat.  And here I thought I was being original.


Speaking of fresh fruits and vegetables?  Two words:  Farmer's Market.  If you've got one, do that.  We bought thirty pounds of produce (plus a cookie, a brownie, and two live potted lavenders) for 60 bucks.  Think about it--that's less than two bucks a pound for produce.  That's not bad.  All that, with fresh air, nice people, and live Mississippi Delta blues.  Can't beat that with a stick.


Dinner tonight was grilled swordfish (which the boy liked!), grilled peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash, steamed sugar snap peas, and roasted butternut.  Holy cow.  It was an awful lot of good.  Tomorrow night?  Wild rice-stuffed red bell pepper and tomato with mushroom ragout over top.  With steamed green beans and almond slivers and a nice, big salad.  I really do think that, in order to make these changes take, I have to take the time and effort to actually know what I'm eating.

Here's a pic of dinner:  

Speaking of fancy food pictures and knowing what I'm eating, I want to be eating this.  Soon.

Isn't that amazing-looking?  It's also a LINK to a wonderful site with the recipe!

Browsing Facebook tonight to find that someone on my friend's list has taken a cell phone shot of a gun in her hand and posted it.  Like it's cool.  Like it's a toy.  Something I'd expect a teenage banger wannabe to do.  I was embarrassed for her.  And of her.  Hey, I own guns.  They're not toys.  They're not something to be bragged about and shown off and played with.  Grow the hell up.  

Note the manicure.  Because we all know how important that is.

And that's all.  This one took a long time to put together.  It was the hubby Photoshop. Lot of work for a spider story.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

Super-Cool to Super-Sad

So, there's a "trick" we used to impress guests with when we lived in Utah.  Something we can't seem to make work out here, and I'm wondering if it's the humidity?

The trick?

Turning liquid water to ice in seconds by just shaking the water bottle.  

It's a wonderful trick we stumbled upon by accident, and it involves "super-cooled" water.

You see, ice requires flaws or imperfections in order to form crystals.  Once one crystal forms, others can form atop it, but there has to be that initial imperfection.  Inside water bottles, there sometimes isn't the necessary surface imperfection necessary for ice formation, so the water, while it is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 celsius), remains liquid.  However, if you take that bottle and shake it vigorously or slam it down on a tabletop?  It becomes ice.


Not solid ice, but it becomes slushy and chunky.  It's been a great source of joy, was a wonderful science lesson for our boy when we discovered it, and we haven't been able to get it to work since we moved to the east coast. 

 Regardless of where you are, you should try it.  If you have some idea why we can't  replicate it here, drop me a note!


The following came across my wall the other day, and I found it . . . irritating.  Pat, lazy, pandering.  Stupid.  

I know, tell you how I really feel.

Here it is:

To the mom who's breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You're a good mom. 

To the mom who's formula feeding: Isn't science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn't produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You're a good mom.

To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You're a good mom.

To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it's excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You're a good mom.

To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn't easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You're a good mom.

To the mom who works: It's wonderful that you're sticking to your career, you're a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it's fantastic. You're a good mom.

To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you're too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You're feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren't complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You're a good mom.

To the mom who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they're learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can't run around. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don't they? We've all been through it. You're a good mom.

To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.

Okay, you know what?  Spare me the "What to Expect When Expecting" garbage that presents every parenting choice as equally good, equally desirable or admirable.


No.  Is a woman who chooses to formula feed, either because she can't be bothered (I've SEEN that in my own family), because she doesn't have access to the tools necessary for pumping at work,  or because she accepts crappy advice instead of educating herself a BAD mom?

Of course not.  But has she made a subpar decision that affects her child's health?

You betcha.  Let's not whitewash that.  We climb all over women who smoke, who drink, who do drugs, who gain too much weight, who do myriad "bad" things during pregnancy; things we know aren't good for the baby-to-be.  But when it comes to breastfeeding, which reduces the risk of a wide variety of ailments (including obesity and various cancers) and saves us, on average, thousands per child in medical costs, we're silent.  We whine about "personal choice" and call people who advocate breastfeeding "Nazis."  


And to the mom who's feeding her kid fast food from the drive-through every night because she hasn't gone shopping and doesn't feel like cooking?

You may be a "good mom," but you're making a crappy decision that damages your kids and determines LIFELONG dietary habits and choices.  

We ALL, every one of us, screw up the parenting thing sometimes.  But this back-patting, hand-holding, "all choices and actions are equal" crap really sticks in my craw.  All choices AREN'T equal, and seeking justification for crap choices and offering the congratulatory "You're a good mom!" thing is . . . 

Lazy.  It's lazy, and it takes away any incentive to make better choices.  Heck, it's misleading, it portrays lousy choices as equal choices, which really dings people's understanding of important parenting/health issues. 

Sometimes we're "good moms" DESPITE our actions, not because of them.  And yeah, that includes impatient-mom here who, more often than she's proud to admit, is short, terse, or lacking the patience she wishes she had.  I work on it, but if someone were to say to me, "You're impatient, you have to struggle to listen sometimes, you rush your child through some things because you don't want to have to deal with it?  You're a good mom," I'd scream in their stupid face.  Of all the vapid, dull things to say.  I may be a good mom, but, like I said, it's despite my shortcomings, not because of them, so don't pat me on the back and pretend my bad points are good ones.


So, I've been eating a bit of dark chocolate every day.  Between fifty and sixty grams.  While it's been a pleasant form of medical intervention, it is, point of fact, medical.  Here, check this out:  

So, I've been trying different dark chocolates, making sure that they're at least 70% cocoa, and checking that they don't contain processed sugars, additional oils, and rejecting any that have been "alkalized" or "Dutch processed."  In the process of trying out different chocolates (Newman's Own, Green and Black, Endangered Species), I was reminded of an experience hubby and I had early on, back in--oh, maybe 1995?

We were doing the road trip gig, and had wandered along the string of old mining towns that dot central and northern California.  When we came to Hornitos, which sits spang between Modesto, Merced, and Yosemite, we stumbled upon a bit of a treasure.  No, not just the cemetery (from which the town gets its name).  No, we stumbled upon Domingo (aka Dominico) Ghirardelli's store.  


Apparently, Mr. Ghirardelli, an Italian who had been making chocolate for a while down in South America (and tried his hand at selling chocolate in San Francisco), decided to strike out toward California in 1849 and, according to some, try his luck at mining.  

Turned out, Mr. Ghirardelli wasn't much of a miner, so he opened a general store, which included a confectionary.  Where he, once again, took to making chocolate.

There's a plaque there, put up when the folks at Ghirardelli bought the site back in the 1920s or so. 

In case you're wondering, no, I'm not eating any Ghirardelli dark chocolate as part of my health thing.  I like Ghirardelli, which is now owned by Lindt (which, sadly, may wind up being acquired by Nestle), but their chocolates have always struck me as more dessert rather than health snack, though I suppose I should have another look at their ingredients and processing.


And my final thing today?  Is a plea--fix this.  Please, let's fix this.  Because this is terrible, and this leads to feelings and ideas that last a lifetime.  Please.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Just General Complaining

So, I got a letter Saturday.  From Farmers Auto Insurance.  Gosh, they want me.  They really want me.

It's not the first "come back to the dark side" letter I've gotten from them.  No, over the past ten years or so, they've really wasted a lot of wood pulp trying to draw me in.  

That, of course, will NEVER happen.

Why not?

Well, see, it all started back in 1993.  My husband and I had been insured through Farmers for a few years.  Really liked our agent, what a guy!  

And then I had an accident.

Understand, I wasn't driving.  I was, in fact, a passenger in my own car.  See, I'd had a beer, so I handed my keys over to a friend's roommate who hadn't been drinking.  And he wrapped my car around a tree going 60+ mph.  

I was injured (though, oddly, the guy behind the wheel wasn't).  Closed head injury, massive facial fractures, disk damage (again!), etc.  Pissed blood for a week from the lap belt hammering my bladder.  That was exciting.  

It's funny--I had no health insurance, and so, while in the ER, I refused the offer of a cosmetic surgeon to stitch up the gory hole where bone and cartilage from my nose had blasted out the front of my face upon meeting the dashboard.  Instead, I opted to have the ER physician do it because it was cheaper.  

Silly me.

My agent immediately told me not to file a claim for the car--he said that the adjusters would "total" it and that, as a result, I'd wind up owing more on the car than they would give me, which would leave me "in trouble" with the bank AND without insurance.  That sounded scary to me.  Being brain damaged, I deferred to his superior knowledge.  I didn't make a claim for the car.

When the medical adjuster came, she took one look at my face, said, "Ohhhh, honey--that's ten grand."  Nice, huh?  Then she said that the car looked perfect, was it a different 1973 Mustang we'd wrapped around a tree?"  I took her outside, showed her that the car only looked perfect from behind--the front end was demolished.  Bumper horseshoed, battery exploded, core support torn to bits, radiator gone, frame bent, fenders tweaked inward, water pump, alternator, all that fun stuff destroyed.  Oh, and the hood bent back like an accordion and the windshield shattered.  She asked when the auto adjuster was coming out, and I told her what my agent had said.

And oh, she was angry.  She said it was (and this is a direct quote) "self-serving bullshit."  She said that my agent was tugging me around in hopes of preserving his bottom-line, but that, fact was, Farmers was going to drop me like a bad habit no matter WHAT I did, so I should put in a claim for the car.  She called the adjuster, and that was that.

Turns out, she was absolutely right.  Auto adjuster came out, did everything he could to make sure I got enough for the car to either repair it or pay off the loan, plus cut me a check to buy a new car (when I say that, I mean a 2 grand check for a 1975 Camaro, lol) so I could keep my job (which I lost because my smashed up face was "scaring the customers"--thanks Ziad and Fahdi).  And then?

And then, my insurance company tripled my rates.  And when I complained?  They dropped me.  Told me I had two weeks to find another agency, because they were done with me.  

My first claim. 

In addition, they put the word out that I was a terrible risk--this according to the gentleman at Allstate who was willing to cover me (flat liability) for twice Farmers' pre-accident rates (full coverage, collision+comprehensive with towing and rental). 

Farmers smacked me so hard I bled for years.  It was years before I could get a decent rate for car insurance again.  They left me in the lurch when I was most vulnerable.  They promised to pay for my facial reconstructive surgery, but then, when my surgeon submitted the bill, they refused.  Said I had already settled and that wasn't part of the settlement because it hadn't been submitted in time. Even though they had told me clearly that the surgery would be covered.

Should I have gotten an attorney before settling?  Absolutely.  But, as they're trained to do, they patted me and hand-held me and made me feel like they really had my best interests at heart.  


Farmers wants me?  They want my business?

When hell freezes over, kids.  Not one second before.

Not actually MY 'Stang, but an example of the year--imagine silver pre-accident, and deep green post.

So, my boy and I sort of tangled yesterday.  Or, to be more precise, he said something awful, and when I realized he wasn't joking, I cried.  

What happened?

Well, I was reading Deathly Hallows aloud to him when we got to the . . . oh, shoot, hang on.


Seriously, if you haven't read the Harry Potter series in its entirety, turn back NOW.

Okay.  So we were reading Deathly Hallows, and we got to the part where Harry has just finished exploring Snape's memories in the penseive and learned that he is meant to die.  That he must die in order for the horcruxes to be destroyed and Voldemort to be mortal once more.  I paused, and said, "I don't know if I could do it.  I don't know if I could walk to my death like that--I might run the other way, I don't know."  My son said, with that adolescent moral certainty borne of almost zero life experience, "Some things are worth dying for."  I said, "True, and it's wonderful you think that, but in that situation, at that age, I don't know if I could do it--I might run."  And he said?  In a flat, condemning, disdainful tone?

"Then you're a coward."

Wow.  Wow, sweetie.

Needless to say, it was the end of the reading session.  We talked at length later, and, if nothing else, he's taken away one lesson I hope he really takes to heart--think about the effect your words are going to have before you spit them out, because once you do, they're unrecallable.  Ballistic.  So next time, before you throw out a harsh condemnation over someone's musing over a fictional hypothetical set in a magical fantasy world, consider the possible effect your words will have.  

Because that was pretty devastating to me.


Been watching a lot of documentaries lately, most on food and food production in the United States, but last night we watched one called "The Revisionaries," about those scary, stupid people down on the Texas School Board, and their sick and terrifying methods of editing text books and rewriting history to focus on (and forward) their own particular (and peculiar) political and religious leanings.  What on EARTH is a "young earth creationist" doing editing text books?  In a public school setting?  WHY on earth are people with no grasp of science deciding what science is taught and how it's taught?  Ew!  EW!  To hear these stupid people rail against "experts" is terrifying.  How do people who demonize scientists, experts, the scientifically literate, wind up in the position of determining what goes into science textbooks?

Reason 4,566 why we homeschool.  To keep those nutbags in Texas out of our child's mind and out of his science and social studies education.  

It was hard to refrain from throwing things.  


Speaking of homeschooling, saw a bit in the paper this morning about Ogden City Schools--the district our boy would have attended, had we chosen that route.  It was a story about a girl who's been told she cannot walk across that stage to get her diploma unless her family coughs up hundreds of dollars to pay for "unexcused absences and 'U' Citizenship grades."

Okay, a few things.  

One?  If she has so many absences that it's negatively affected her ability to earn the required credits, then she can't graduate because she's short on credits.  If she managed to do the work required to graduate, then shut up about her attendance and let her walk with her class.  

And two?  "Citizenship" grades are a BS concept whose time had passed about the time the entire idea was dreamed up.  Subjective, without constructive usefulness, and often a tool for teachers to enforce a morality or express disapproval in a way that, apparently, damages the child in a very real way.  If the child is disruptive, if the child's behavior is such that it makes teaching impossible, send the child to the office for discipline rather than making a snotty little mark in a snotty little grudge book and then screwing that kid up down the road with FINES.


This reeks of yet another way for bad, lazy school districts (and yes, there was a reason we homeschooled in the first place) to rake in a little cash and use a punishment/pain model to induce compliance.  If the kid earned the grades and the credits to receive a diploma (and that's not in question--this girl and others like here will receive their diplomas . . . in the mail), then you let that kid walk.  The pettiness of denying a child/young adult their walk across that stage because they can't pay the "citizenship" fines you've assessed?


And the district's assertion that assessing these fees is "legal" until someone takes them to court and successfully argues against the practice?  Well, that hardly seems like a good definition of "right."  

Remember--this is the same school district that just nuked its entire adult education program, plus fired all but two of its librarians in order to save itself paying out benefits to those employees.  The adult ed program has been replaced with . . . nothing.  Another school district is going to try to take up the slack.  And the librarians?  The two left will supervise a cadre of "part time media assistants" who won't be working enough hours to earn benefits.  

Yeah, it's like the Walmart model of employment.

Oh, and this is also the same district that just told over 250 part-time reading coaches that their positions have been eliminated BUT that they're free to reapply for the few "restructured" positions that will be announced down the line.

You know, it really does look like the district has been infiltrated by wingnuts, doesn't it?

Maybe they should keep assessing those "citizenship" fines.  Otherwise, how will they pay for . . . whatever it is they actually do down there?


And here's something ugly because . . . well, because I think I could use more pictures in this one, liven things up: