Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Smart Women, Stupid Women, Marriage Equality and Your Right to Remain Silent

First off, right off the bat, WENDY!

That's right, Wendy Davis--holy cow, what an amazing person, huh?  Wendy for Governor, Wendy for Senate, Wendy for President!  Thank you, Wendy, for putting yourself out there for women.  I hope you can turn Texas BLUE!

Here's a video from her last campaign, and I'm posting it because it segues into something else I wanted to discuss:

You see, just a couple of days ago, I saw a piece about what may possibly be the most ill-informed woman alive.

Jodie Laubenberg

Yes, that's a live link.

Now, Ms. Laubenberg, who has been stumping for an amazingly restrictive abortion law in, of course, where else, TEXAS, stated that (and I'm paraphrasing here) there's no reason to keep abortion safe, legal, and available, because women can just go to the emergency room and have a RAPE KIT performed.  Which, according to this silly person, "cleans women out."

I may scream myself to DEATH.  

I spent years working with rape and domestic abuse victims, mostly in the Emergency Room.  I'm wondering, Ma'am, precisely what part of a RAPE KIT "cleans a woman out?"  Is it the swabs for gathering DNA/semen samples from the victim's rectum, vagina, and/or mouth?  The baggies and vials into which those swabs are deposited?  Perhaps it's the DROP CLOTH the victim is required to stand on as she removes her clothing (meant to catch any evidence that may drop off as she disrobes).  Maybe it's the PUBIC COMB used to comb through the victims pubic hairs in search of any left behind by her attacker?  The fine-toothed comb used on her head for the purpose of finding her attacker's hairs?  Is it maybe the combing and sampling done to her loved ones and friends to eliminate their evidence from consideration?  Oh, wait, I know!  Duh!  It's the little "orange sticks" used to dig evidence out from under the victim's fingernails, isn't it?

You misinformed (and misinforming) woman.  You slow, dangerous creature.  It's bad enough when mean, cruel old men turn on women, but when one of our own does it, and does it in such a spectacularly Sarah Palin-ish way, it's particularly painful.

And enraging.


So, this meme came across my wall yesterday.  Not the first time.  Heck, might not be the first time I've blogged about it.  But, as always, it got me going.

Okay, one, I almost never share anything that admonishes me to share.  It's just a thing.  Two?

I don't necessarily agree.  There are . . . issues.

First, when I shop ANYWHERE with employees who have kids, I'm helping with dance lessons, team jerseys, moms and dads putting food on the tables, paying mortgages, etc.  That goes without saying, and I find it disingenuous to suggest that those things are only true if I shop small and local. That said, I do NOT shop Walmart.  Why?   Well, because their business model offends me and their treatment of employees horrifies me. I shop Wegmans and Costco, both of which are known for their fair treatment of workers.

In addition, shopping small and local is, almost by definition, more expensive.  Some of us are able to make that financial leap.  For others?  Not so much.  Plus, shopping small and local often leaves us either unable to find products we need OR having to drive from place to place to shop rather than doing it all at one central location.

Which  brings us to the environmental impact of shopping small and local.  It can be a CO2 disaster.  It can be a pesticide and herbicide disaster.  It can be an irrigation disaster.  You see, when large operations produce large amounts of food, they tend to do it far more efficiently than small farms.  In addition, when foods are shipped en mass, it tends to produce a lot less CO2 per pound of food.  And finally, when we drive from market to market, store to store to find our locally grown foods and whatever-friendly products, we're pumping an astonishing amount of exhaust into the air and chewing through a breathtaking amount of fuel.  

I'm not arguing against locally grown or local businesses, but understand that there are trade-offs.  For the benefits (and there are benefits, to both individuals and communities as well as to any livestock involved), there are definite drawbacks.  Some smaller farms are pooling resources and combining harvests for more efficient shipping and distribution, which is wonderful.  Some are making weekly shipments to large, central distribution areas rather than having individual consumers drive dozens (or more) miles to make pick-ups.  Again, this is wonderful, and it helps address the above concerns.  Some small farmers are engaging in friendlier, more responsible, more conserving methods of irrigating, fertilizing, etc.  And, again, that's wonderful.  We should encourage that.  But the next time you gear up to go nuts on someone who shops at a larger grocery store, remember that YOUR way has it's own drawbacks and downsides.  

Here, a couple of links:

CO2, wasted water, and chemicals aside, there's also the "opposing" side's issues of "factory farming" livestock, widespread mistreatment of animals, and the use of various substances to treat infections, encourage wowser growth, etc.  Oh, and we have the whole GMO thing going on with larger agribusiness.  So this is NOT an easy issue, and what's the TOP concern for me might not be for you.  You may have your own "thing."  It's been my experience that farmers who sell animal products at the Farmer's Market don't tend to box their animals up in small cages and treat them like hell.  That's not a guarantee, just an observation.  And that might be something that sways you.

All of that said, we shop at the Farmer's Market for specific products one day a week.  Our Farmer's Market is close (less than three miles) and the farmers who come there are, in fact, LOCAL.  They aren't driving 100 miles to sell a tiny bit of produce.  They are open about their growing practices, and those we patronize use water-saving, low-chemical methods of growing.  Still not as efficient or as clean (CO2 per pound of produce-wise) as huge agribusiness, but improving, and, for us, worth the trade-off because we're not driving from place to place and our food isn't being driven long distances in small amounts.  For us, it's worth the trade-off one day a week.  And that's what I'm talking about--I'm not condemning small growers (gosh, no!) or local businesses.  Instead, I'm saying we should all be aware of where our stuff comes from and how it gets to us rather than embracing dippy memes aimed at influencing without real information.


An extremely mixed bag from the Supreme Court this past week or two.  On the bright side?  Well, the repeal of DOMA and the striking of Prop h8, of course, plus the decision that human genes cannot be patented.  On the not-at-all bright side?

Chewing away at the underpinnings of the Voting Rights Act.  It only took HOURS for various legislators from various "red" Southern states to start hatching plans to interfere with voters of certain "groups."  When Governor McDonnell said he was handing it over to Ken Cuccinelli, something cold grasped my heart.  Virginia is a state vulnerable to the effects of "redistricting."  Virginia is a state that has already seen interference at the poll, limited poll access, and interminable polling lines.  This can't get anything but worse.

Another not-good SCOTUS decision?  The attack on our "right to remain silent."  

If this doesn't scare the daylights out of you, it should.  Refraining from answering police questions now considered admissible evidence of guilt?  

Here, from the piece:  " . . . 
prosecutors argued that Salinas’ silence during a police interview prior to his arrest was a “very important piece of evidence” and that only a guilty person would have remained silent when questioned about his connection to a crime."

That is terrifying.  "Only a guilty person would have remained silent."  How breathtakingly McCarthyish.  How happy Edwin Meese must be right about now.

What a mess.

So, while I'm thrilled about DOMA and Prop 8 (and the gene patents), fact is, we lost a lot of ground to what has shaped up to be a conservative activist court.  The damage they do could last . . . forever.


Boy, that was pure-D politics.  That's all I've got today.   Oh, except the Boy is 1/3 of the way through his annual exams, and seems to be doing quite well.  Love him like nobody's business, you know.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How to Build an Atheist and Other Things to Irritate

I remember, years ago, my ex-husband and I were living in Layton, Utah.  He was Muslim, I was . . . vaguely (dubiously) theistic, mostly ex-Christian, I suppose.  One night, there was a knock at the door.

It was a Baptist.

A rather enthusiastic, "taken by the spirit" Baptist who wanted very much to conquer my poor then-husband and bring him over from the dark side.  A guy who'd spied himself a likely "Islamist" and was bent on saaaaaaving him.

These days, I'd see that for how insulting it is.  Back then, I just found it irritating and somewhat amusing.

Perhaps it was a kinder, gentler time (this was the mid-to-late 80s), but the relationship between the two was actually quite amiable.  The guy kept showing up with his Jesus stuff, and my husband would greet him at the door with the Quran.  They'd settle at the table, drink coffee, eat cookies, and fight faith.  

Did Mr. Prosthelytizing Baptist effect a change in my then-husband?

Oh, gosh, he sure did.  You see, my ex had already rejected Christianity.  In fact, like pretty much ALL believers, he had already rejected EVERY faith but his own.  So, when Mr. Prosthelytizing Baptist, point-by-point, tore the Quran apart, he didn't create a new Baptist.

No, he cleared away that last mythological holdout in my then-husband's brain.  

He created an atheist.  

Something to keep in mind next time you find yourself driven to preach at someone who doesn't believe as you do.  You may be creating the perfect heathen.

Which is just fine as frog's hair with me.


Speaking of deities and deific-type things, hubby and I were talking the other day.  We were talking, specifically, about prayer and asking whichever big guy in the sky for some bit of divine intervention.

Some bit, but not a HUGE bit.  Ever notice that?  Sure, if Tyson falls and cracks his skull, everyone joins hands and asks their deity to heal up Tyson's poor, cracked head.  Even if Tyson's head is super-bad cracked and his EEG looks awful, they pray because, hey, as we all know, every once in a while, folks recover even from really astounding head injuries.  

Ever notice, though, that when Tyson gets his legs amputated at the pelvis in a tragic "chicken with a freight train" incident, no prayer groups gather 'round and ask that deity to regrow Tyson's legs?  Seriously, nobody sane EVER said, "Oh, dear GOD, please regrow Tyson's legs!"

Ask yourself why not.  WHY NOT?  Isn't your deity ALL powerful?  Can't he make seas part, messiahs walk on water, and incendiary bushes chatter?  Why can't he regrow a couple of legs?  For a kid?

I think, deep down, we all know the answer to that.  

We all know it's bull.  We know there are no big favors coming from some invisible ghostie in the sky, and so we don't ask for things that might actually, definitively establish a deity.  No, we don't do that because we know it won't happen.  Instead, we ask for things that could, conceivably, happen WITHOUT divine intervention.  And then, when they happen, we say, "See?  I prayed and it HAPPENED!"  Not surprisingly, when we pray and it DOESN'T happen, we go pretty mum on the issue.  Else we kick out some trite platitude about "mysterious ways" or "sometimes we just don't like the answer."

We are, above all else, experts at self-delusion.  And the best way to hold tight to a comforting delusion is to suck others into it.  And the way to do that is to claim causation when, in fact, all you have is loose correlation and energetically expressed wishful thinking.  Most folks in these parts don't know the difference.

And it shows.


And (I think) lastly, because I'm in a "piss 'em ALL off" sort of mood, let's talk about Wyoming.

Specifically, Wyoming and smoking.

Back in the bad ol' days, we used to drive up to Evanston, Wyoming from Utah just so we could sit in a crappy JB's restaurant and smoke.  See, we felt like we were somehow entitled to foul up other folks' air, but Utah's Indoor Clean Air Act disagreed.  So you can imagine our grief and consternation when we drove up to Evanston one Sunday morning to find that smoking was no longer allowed in restaurants.

On Sundays.

Oh, we were SO offended!  So terribly butt-hurt!  How dare they, ONE day a week, decree that the folks who are devastated by inhaling cigarette smoke get to have a shot at dining out?

Oh, the NOIVE of some people!

I'm not exaggerating--we were the worst kind of entitled smokers.  We were of the "if you don't like it, go somewhere else!" variety.  Because, when you're so addicted to a substance that you have to dose 50-60 times a day (the number of cigarettes I was smoking), you HAVE to convince yourself that you're in the right and everyone else sucks.  Otherwise?

You just might wind up seeing what a mess you are.  And then?  Well, then you'll have to stop.  I mean, really, what else is there?

Now, don't mistake me--I would ask someone if they minded if I lit up, I would even offer to walk ten feet away.  But what I never realized until I quit is that ten feet away doesn't help at all.  Twenty feet doesn't much help.  When I sit in my back yard, watering my flowers, the guy three places up can light up and the smoke ruins my morning.  And THAT'S what I refused to believe, that's what I claimed was "militant non-smokers" exaggerating.

Hey, I'm sorry.  It's all I can say.

Anyway, Wyoming. Read a story today about how the bustling cow town of Casper, Wyoming has repealed its own ban on smoking in bars.  The Libertarian contingent was shouting about the evil New York City nanny state-ism kicking the proud, independent Wyomans in the yellowed teeth.  The bar owners were crying that they were losing business.  

Another BS argument I remember that turned out not to be true.  Bars survive smoking bans just fine.  But Wyoming has this "don't you tell me what to do" thing going on, and they take their "rights" very seriously.

Wanna make someone squeal and swear (like I did this morning)?  Explain to them that smoking isn't a RIGHT.  That just because something is LEGAL doesn't mean you have an unqualified RIGHT to do it.  Driving is legal, too, but you don't have a RIGHT to drive.  No, you have a PRIVILEGE, and that privilege comes with a broad array of restrictions and regulations.  Same with drinking alcohol--all sorts of rules and laws about where, when, how much, by whom, and what you can be doing when imbibing.  

Smoking isn't a "right."  It's a behavior that is legal within certain boundaries and with particular restrictions.  Your "right" to smoke ends where everyone else's lungs and sinuses start.  

I won't lie--it is incredibly embarrassing to hear smokers scream about their RIGHTS, see them point their angry, tar-stained fingers at non-smokers and say, "If you don't like it, stay home!"  Because I was that desperate junkie.  I was that miserable, scared (yes, SCARED) person who lashed out at any suggestion that my smoking might in any way interfere with another person's comfort, safety, or happiness.  To my (very small) credit, I did start smoking back in the late 70s, before there was much uproar.  But by college I knew I was lying to myself and lying to others.

And by the time Evanston decided to give the poor, shell-shocked non-smokers ONE day a week to eat in peace?

I knew I sucked, my addiction sucked, and they were right.  But it took me another six years or so to admit it and do something about it, because I was SCARED.  Scared I wouldn't be able to quit, scared it was too late to make a difference anyway, and scared half to death that, without that neurochemical crutch, I wouldn't know how to operate.

Turns out I operate just fine.  

So smoke on, Casper.  Drag those Tony Lamas in the dust.  You're on the wrong side of history, and eventually you'll have no choice.  But for now?

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.


Oh, hey, one last thing, just in case I missed anyone.  Let's talk about "seen."  You know, like, "I've seen a narwhale" or "she's seen Russia from her house?"  That is the proper use of the word "seen."  I have, they have, we have seen.  Heck, even she has and he has and it is they are and it shall be seen.  Let's get everyone in on it!  The magical, necessary component?  

"Have/has/is/shall be."  Without those, you haven't (and she hasn't) seen.  So please, don't say, "I seen it," or "he seen it."  I SAW it, he SAW it, they SAW it.  

If you don't have a have, you haven't seen.  You saw.

Here--like THIS.


I have hardly any pictures today.  I may wander in and work on a photoshop of some sort later, should I feel particularly creative.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Then Nothing Good got Worse

So, I called my Mom--it's my birthday, and she'd tried to call.  So I called her back, I guess, is more accurate.

Let me back up.

My Mom told my sister that she didn't feel safe driving anymore.  Truth be told, she's not been safe driving for decades, Especially at night.  But now she says she won't do it, she can't see well enough.  My sister says, "You know she had surgery for macular degeneration years ago."

Okay, stop.  No she didn't.  She didn't, because they don't DO surgery for macular degeneration.  Well, except the super-experimental lens implantation stuff or the rare laser-stuff, which doesn't FIX things, and that wasn't that.  No, she had cataracts, and they fixed them. Thirteen years or so ago.

I said, "No, not macular degeneration, it was cataracts.  Ma didn't have MD then, and hopefully doesn't now."


Back to the phone call with my Mom.  She says, "Not to ruin your birthday," meaning she's about to do exactly that, "but that thing you talked about the other day with my eyes?  I can't remember the name?"

"Macular degeneration?"

"Yes, that's it.  I have it.  It's bad.  The central vision in my right eye is gone, and it's going in the left."

No, Ma, that doesn't screw up my birthday at all. That you may never SEE my boy again didn't, in any way, make me sit there on the bed and cry my stupid eyes out after we finished talking.


No idea at this point if it's "wet" or "dry," hoping the specialist she'll be seeing will provide some guidance on preventing further progression/deterioration.  My money's on "wet."  I think things have progressed quite a bit, at least in that one eye.

Hoping there's some way to make it so she can read her beloved mysteries again.  Yes, there are books on tape.  No, it's not the same.  Hoping she can do her puzzles again.  Hoping she can still play her games on the computer, which is becoming difficult.

Macular Degeneration cannot be reversed.  But it can, with various treatments, often be arrested/slowed.  My Mom has been sitting on this for a while now--over a year.  Had she gone in for her annual eye exam these past two years, they'd have caught this a lot earlier.

Watch your folks.  Watch your eyes.  Watch your risk factors.  Me?

I'm the poster child for future macular degeneration--I'm fat, almost fifty, have a family history, have cholesterol issues, am diabetic, and I smoked for decades.  Yeah, baby--I'm prime.

And what do they recommend to prevent or arrest MD?

Fruits.  Veggies (especially the dark green leafy variety).  Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains.  Exercise.  In other words, all those things I've been trying to be good about because of my triglycerides/cholesterol.  So I guess that's what I just keep doing.

Now I have an even more immediate reason.

Sadness, huh?

If you're looking for more information about macular degeneration, check this link:


Hubby got me an amazing, HEAVY bird bath for my birthday.  I've been wanting one for years, since the tacky plastic one we had back in Utah, but I didn't want a plastic one.  I wanted something with some heft, some muscle, something that looked old and could resist a wind.

Well, this one came in two parts (bath and pedestal), and weighs over two hundred pounds.  

I love it.  Thank you.

My boy got me the new Fall Out Boy CD.  I knew they were back together, but didn't know they'd put out a new CD.  He heard about it months ago, and he's been waiting for the chance to give it to me.  I love his thoughtfulness.  


Still no word from the Landlord.  Day 11 and counting.  Goodness.


And now, let's see if I can find something truly awful on the home decor/paneling/wallpaper front:

Wow, that's practically transcendental in its craziness!  Talk about new heights!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nothing Good

Well, back to the stupid names thing.  If the urge to name your daughter ANALIS hits, hurt yourself.  Bad, hard.  Before you fill out that birth certificate.

Please, for your daughter's sake.


Still no word from the landlord.  I find myself okay for a while, and then I remember, and it's instantaneous--my arrhythmia goes nutty, I feel that rollercoaster adrenaline-hit to the chest, and I feel trapped, helpless.  

My mom offered to pull the last three grand of dividend out of her life insurance policy if necessary.  So, of course, my sister wrecked my mom's car.  Same day.  No, not intentionally, but dang, doesn't that just figure?  At least no one was hurt.

Except my ability to relax even a little bit about this.  That took a vicious hit.  

Not THE car, just a representative mock-up

I'm considering offering online "atheist tarot readings and horoscopes."  For a fee.  I'm not joking, why not?  Make it clear right up front, "This is for entertainment purposes only" and "your future misforetold by a real, live atheist!"  Provide photos of the card layouts and everything.  

Hey, I'd pay five bucks for that.  If I had five bucks.  

Gorgeous picture, I've linked it back to the site where I found it.


Ever have a friend you really love, you adore, and you know is a total racist?  Not a racist like "lynch 'em/no race traitors/papers please," but rather of the "I LOVE my Mexican homies/I'm not a racist, I know ALL blacks aren't . . . " variety.  You know, the kind who makes sure everyone knows he's not a racist because, look, here's another picture of him slamming back a cold one with his black friend?


Well, I have one of those.  We've been friends for decades, since junior high, really.  And last night, he posted a picture.  A meme.  And it was breathtakingly racist.  So bad that I literally gasped.  I called my husband in, and the first thing he said was, "He must have been hacked, no way he'd post that!"

Except he WOULD post that, and I know it.  He'd post it, and he'd argue strenuously that it's not racist, it's just funny, lighten up, you-know-me-I'm-no-racist.

It was terribly disappointing, and I stared at the post for a good 20 minutes, trying to decide what to do.  I mean, this is my friend and I love him.

And he's a racist.

In the end, I settled on asking, "Hey, dude, did you get hacked?"  I got no answer, and I already know the answer, but I'm hoping that communicates my shock.  Another friend came in with, "Wow, seriously?"  And now?

Now the post appears to be gone.  I'd like to think the post is gone because he's come to the sudden and sharp realization that the meme was utterly racist.  More likely, he didn't realize that posting it on his kid's wall would make it show in the feeds of all his friends.

No, that doesn't matter, but if you have to be a racist, at least be a sensitive one, right?


Following the story of a 64 year old atheist woman who's been in the U.S. legally for better than thirty years.  She's shooting for citizenship, but, when she answered on the paperwork that she's a conscientious objector who wouldn't take up arms for this (or any) country (remember, she's 64 years old), she was told that only believers can object to war on moral grounds, and that she has until Friday to join a church or see her application for citizenship denied.

"Join a church or go away."

Wow, welcome to 'Murrica!

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Cancer Story's Better than Your Cancer Story

I was thinking this morning, as I was out painstakingly MISTING the fancy "all the way from England" low-spreading thyme seeds I've planted between the stones on the porch.  I was thinking about how much, as kids, we hate those adults who don't want you on the grass, who are forever admonishing you to not pick that or step over there or sit on that.

I was the kid who broke branches off pussy willows and pinched shoots off chives on my way to school.  I was the girl who got shouted at by the guy with the apple trees.  You know, the ground is littered with rotten, unused apples, yet the guy comes out with a shotgun (seriously) and shouts at us to stay off his apples?

While I haven't made the leap to shotgun-toting apple tree owner, fact is there's been a sea change somewhere along the line.  I think it came right around the time I started putting my own flowers and plants in.  I remember the first time I found myself going completely nutty over a kid in my yard.  We had a family that used to come and do the yard work every week.  I worked full time, my husband worked full time, we were both full-time university students, and there just wasn't time.  One day, they showed up with their three year old girl.  Adorable, lovely child who, while her parents mowed the grass, tore up my pansies and marigolds one by one.  By the time I got home and found this, she was sitting in the middle of my garden, surrounded by a few dozen broken, torn up, desiccating plants.

I lost it.  We were poor, we didn't have a lot of money, and those flowers had been my birthday gift.  We couldn't afford to replace them, and my heart was broken.

I refused to pay them for the yard work that week.  The next week, they weed-whacked my rose bushes out back (girdled and killed them), and that was it.  We found someone else.

The next time I got freaky on a kid (well, I didn't get freaky on the toddler, but you know what I mean) for yard damage?  After my wonderful neighbor/mentor/surrogate father Frank died, the local kids took to playing in his back yard.  These kids' parents were somewhat close to Frank's daughter, so I didn't step in.  But then, one day, they came running out of the back yard with huge, snapped off branches/limbs from Frank's blooming snowball bush.  I went in the back yard, and they had destroyed this large, beautiful bush Frank had planted and nurtured.  Broken it right down to the ground.  I was devastated, I was SO upset, and I shouted at the kids over it.  Spoke to their parents, who spoke to them, and the kids stopped playing in Frank's yard.  I'm sure those kids hated me, and it was the first time I realized I was becoming the garden shouter.

And since we've moved away from the west?  Well, we moved into a place with a torn up, sparse, weed-infested lawn that's taken a LOT of work (and money) to bring into some sort of shape.  We had just done the first raking and reseeding of the back yard when those scary-freak rat children from across the street came over.  They went out in our back yard, and I looked out to see them kicking up the soil and seed mixture, like that's something fun or something.  I didn't yell, but I did come out back and say, "Hey, guys, I can't have you playing out here, we're trying to get the grass to come back so we've put down seed."

They looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  Seeing their back yard later, I understand why--it's all weeds and dust.

A couple of months later, those same kids came to our front lawn (now on its second reseeding) and were jumping up and down and peeking in our windows while we were eating.  They tore the new grass to bits, killed it.  And this time I did yell.

Front yard when we moved in

Front yard now

So, am I that crazy lady who freaks out on the kids who get in her yard?  Or am I just a woman who wants her yard to look nice and only objects when kids (or adults, to be fair to myself) tear up my stuff?

And to a kid, is there a difference?


So, someone on my Facebook friends list posted some snide, mean little meme about fat folks.  And, unbidden, the thought came into my mind, "I will never meet you.  If you come into town, I will have an excuse for why I can't meet you."  

I'm fat, you see.  I've been fighting it my whole life, since I was seven.  I've been terrifically thin (think a loose size one), and I've been incredibly large (can barely jam into an airplane seat large).  I've been each of these things more than once.  But being thin never scarred me, it never set me up for ridicule, it never broke my heart.  And so, in that broken heart, I am fat.  Regardless of my weight at the moment, I am forever fat, because being fat, and being mistreated because of my weight, are the things that made me who I am.  And if you post nasty memes, rotten pictures, cruel jokes, or otherwise use people who are heavy as humor points, you've lost me, because you've shown me what you think of me.

Yes.  ME.  That heavy woman in the stretch pants at Walmart?  She's ME.  That poor, sad woman on the park bench with her panniculus showing from under her skirt?  She's ME.  The NASCAR guy in the back of the truck with his belly hanging out?  He's ME.  The obese women in the bikinis being shared around Facebook because, ewww, isn't that awful?  All three of those women are ME.

In other words, when you share a photo of a heavy person for a laugh, when you point, stare, and say cruel or ugly things, you're doing those things to ME.  Which means there's no way I could ever be around you without knowing that I disgust you, I horrify you, you think I'm worthy of ridicule and abuse.  

Why would I want you in my house?  In my presence?  

Obviously, I wouldn't.  


It turns out there are "obese meme makers."  You know, they provide the pictures of the fat people, you provide the mean-spirited caption.  I was going to post a screen shot of one page (one page of many), but I just can't.  It's that awful.  


Still no word from the landlord.  It's been a week.  Turns out his daugher is local, which adds to the fear--what if he's promised the place to her?  He has until July 8th to let us know he wants to end the lease.  And if he does that?

We are SO screwed.  We have NO place to go, NO way of scraping together 1st and last plus deposit, and a sadly awful credit score right now.  Yes, we pay our bills on time, but our "credit to debt ratio" is awful, and we've got a bunch of inquiries on our record because of the car.  

What a scary thing.  I can't even adequately describe how afraid I am right now.  It's almost my birthday, and all I can think about is the lease, the landlord, and how we can't possibly bail this if he tosses us.


One last thing.  Melissa?  Ms. Etheridge?  Are you listening?

STFU. Seriously.  If you can't be empathetic, if you can't be supportive, if you can't be intelligent and reasonable and conversant in the science behind the BRCA gene mutations, if you can't be sympathetic to another woman facing cancer, a woman who lost her mother to this gene mutation, the least you can do is shut your woo-spewing, "Secret" spraying, "it comes from the INSIDE, not from genes" face and respect another human being's suffering.  Even if you don't like the devastating choice Ms. Jolie made, the very LEAST you can do is feel the pain and fear that went into it instead of barfing up your "that didn't take courage" crap.  You loud-mouthed, unkind person. Hush your face and spare us the "I'm a REAL survivor, she took the EASY way out" garbage. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Crappy Weekend Powers, Activate!

A bit pissed off this morning.  It's funny, how raccoons seem to set me off.

A few years back, a blossoming friendship died hard because the woman was looking to kill a family of raccoons that was living in a tree at the back of her property.  This was in the west, where raccoons aren't feared as high-risk vectors for rabies.  She was looking to kill them because, apparently, that was easier than NOT LEAVING HER DOG OUTSIDE 24/7, UNATTENDED.

Sorry.  You leave a dog outside, unattended, around the clock?  You suck, and you shouldn't have dogs.  If you don't want a pet that lives in your house, don't have pets.  I've known a lot of outdoor dogs, and I've never known one that doesn't drive neighbors crazy with the barking and scratching and howling borne of boredom and exposure to the elements.  The owners don't THINK the dogs are like this because the dogs often AREN'T like this when they know their owners are home.  But the moment that car leaves the driveway, Fido's barking his behind off, and keeps it up all day.

Anyway, back to the raccoons.  Signed onto Facebook this morning to find a post from someone (not the woman I speak of above) who is all about woo, religion, veganism, and all-around touchy-feely-ness.  A post detailing how she's looking forward to "eradicating" the raccoon under her porch, saying it's going to be "loud, quick, and brutal."

Under the porch?  That means there's a gap there.  Do something about it.  You have local wildlife rescues--call one.  They make repellants--use one.

I'm reminded of a FORMER Facebook friend who was all about woo and feel-good crap, always on about "karma" and "harmony."  Think "crazy lady with cats."  Well, this particular crazy lady had pet doors and allowed her cats to roam freely.  Because, gosh, who could be so cruel as to thwart their wanderlust?  One day, she comes online asking for advice on how to get rid of the birds of prey that have taken to hanging out in the big trees behind her house.  By her reckoning, they were there for her cats.  I said, "Since the birds belong there (and are protected), you might want to keep your housepets in the house.  It's safer for them all-around."

Bam, end of that--she didn't just ditch me, she blocked me.  Of course, that wasn't the first time I'd illuminated the contradictions between how she spoke and how she lived--this was the woman constantly on about environmental issues and climate change, yet she's got a big SWIMMING POOL in her Arizona back yard.  Talk about a spectacular waste of water, huh?

Anyway, now the Facebooker is saying that 50% of all raccoons have rabies.  Okay, whatever you say.  You've shown yourself to be resistant to reason before, and I'm too tired and stressed to push now.  But if FIFTY PERCENT of raccoons have rabies, you should probably call in a professional eradicator.  Just to be on the safe side.


Speaking of stressed, still no answer from the landlord.  It's been--what?  Four days?  Four days, and no answer on the "will you renew the lease" question.  If you don't think THAT'S got me utterly pitched.  Plus the handyman, who has until TODAY to fix those cables, hasn't shown.  Oh, and we're UTTERLY out of money until payday.  We have enough pocket change to get some lettuce and potatoes at the Farmer's Market.  That's it.

What a mess.


Almost my birthday.  No money to get anything I really want.  Usually I'd go for flowers--that's a fairly cheap, happy thing, but I have too many flowers already, and anything I might want we can't afford.  We did grab a five dollar plant at the Farmer's Market, but then broke it in the trunk.  LOL, don't I feel pathetic?  On the bright side, we found a female sparrow caught up in the stairwell at the parking structure, and she was beating herself nearly to death smacking against the windows trying to escape.  I caught her with my hat, hubby brought her outside, where she promptly flew into the glass door.  I reached down, pressed a finger against her chest, and she perched on my finger.  Took her away from the glass, and she just hung out on my finger for a few minutes until she had calmed down, stopped panting, and stopped trembling, and then she flew off, quite competently, seemed no worse for the wear.  I had a look at her--beak and vent seemed fine, I don't think she was damaged, just confused and scared.  I feel good about it.


The repair guy just called back, said he'll be here in a half-hour.  I'm not feeling good about this--guy waited until the last possible moment (this work has to be done by TODAY), and he has a bad habit of not doing what he's supposed to be doing.  But he's the landlord's handyman, and that means he's who we go to.  We don't have the money to go to anyone else.  Wish us luck.


Getting frustrated with the reunion crowd.  I have a list of 113 names of folks we can't find.  Better than two-thirds of those people are ON FACEBOOK and have BEEN CONTACTED BY ME.  But they haven't come forth with their addresses, or, really, with any response at all.  I understand they may not be ACTIVE on Facebook (though a goodly number ARE, and, in fact, are active ON THE REUNION GROUP), but I'm getting more and more of the whole "They're on Facebook, why don't you just . . . " 

Shut.  The. Hell.  Up.  

Seriously, like I'm stupid, like I wouldn't have already DONE that?  I went to school with some powerfully stupid people.

Or some people who think *I'M* powerfully stupid.  


Here.  Something ugly:

Quick note--repair guy's assistant just showed up, walked through the house, fifteen feet away from me, and I smelled the stench of cigarette within seconds.  Guy just stank up my entire house in twenty seconds.  If you think people can't smell it, you're wrong.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

And a quick thing

With all the missteps and corporate bendovers we've been seeing from the SCOTUS, I didn't think we had a chance.  So thank you for the surprise gift--this means SO much to so many!

Dunkin Donuts and ALOT of Absolute Panic

So, you ever hit that fevered level of stress, that pitch so intense and you're afraid your heart's just going to explode in your chest?

Yeah, me, too.  The past couple of days.

You see, our lease is up in three months.  No, we cannot afford to move.  We have neither the cash nor the credit rating to find a new place.  So I emailed the Landlord, letting him know that we're hoping to stay on, that we're very happy here, that we've been happy with him as a landlord and hope we've been good tenants.

And he still hasn't answered.

You can imagine how absolutely panicked I am at this point.  It's been two days with no response.  We have put a lot into this place--when we moved in, the last tenants left it stinking of dog piss, with the grass gone, the lawns nothing but weeds, cigarette butts, and garbage.  Food still stuck to the walls and floor in the kitchen.  We have worked SO hard to get the lawns nice, put in flowers, and just generally keep things looking/smelling pleasant.  I don't know what we're going to do if the Landlord doesn't renew.


A quick grammar aside?  Above, where I wrote "We have put a lot into this place . . . ?"  The Google auto-correct is telling me that's supposed to be "ALOT."

Holy cow.  That's not a WORD!

Here--an oldie but goodie on the subject:

NOT my artwork, but rather a live link to the brilliant "Hyperbole and a Half" blog!


I found a video today while perusing various news sites.  A video of a painfully stupid woman.  Normally, I'm not happy about videos that hold people up to public ridicule, but this one's different.  You see, this stupid woman shot the video herself.  She shot the video herself, then posted it online to show us all how stupid she is.  

And that's something different.


I remember this sort of dull-witted, desperate-to-impress type back in junior high and high school.  They were the ones who started fights over how people "looked" at them.  They were the kind who would storm over in the cafeteria and demand to know what a previously laughing kid thought was so funny.  Stupid, mean bullies who've somehow gone through life surrounded by people too stupid or too scared to tell them what morons they really are.

A friend suggested that perhaps this was a marketing ruse, maybe to drum up business for her advertising, or maybe to bring folks into Dunkin Donuts.  I don't think so--if that's the case, the folks who dreamed it up are looking at the bloody end of their careers.  The moment she crossed into racist language and 9/11 references, any marketing potential was lost.  No, I'm a big fan of parsimony--the simplest answer is probably the correct one.  In this case?

She's stupid.


Now, for the last few months, I've been increasingly panicked about the end-of-year tests for our boy.  As you probably know, we homeschool, and Utah had no end-of-year testing.  I used to print out the sample tests from New York, Tennessee, and other states just to get a handle on where he was, but nothing formal.  Here?

Here we have to test him, and then we have to submit the results to the local school district.  So you can imagine just how nervous I get.

As always, I've been particularly concerned about the math/algebra.  That's because our boy's parents are mathematical idjits.  I mean, we can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and even do that thar fancy stuff like multiplying decimals and dividing fractions.  But algebra.


See, I was a problem child.  I had a problem life with problem parents and, by 8th grade, was myself a problem.  As a result, I was held back a grade. When my class went up to high school, I was still stuck in junior high, and I was very sad about that.  I approached my Vice Principal, Mr. Hawkes, and asked what I could do about being with my grade.  He told me to get all "A" grades and he'd make it happen.  

I did, and so did he.

The trouble?  That threw me from first semester math to second semester algebra.  And you know what happens when you miss all that important BASIC stuff they teach in the first semester?

You fail.  

It wasn't until last year I knew about ORDER OF OPERATIONS.  Yeah, that's an important one.  

So, while I KNOW that kids are capable of learning beyond their teachers, I've always been afraid. And when I printed out the New York and Tennessee end-of-year tests this year?

I was terrified.

Oh, there was SO much on there we haven't covered yet!  Nonlinear equations?  Graphing quadratic equations?  What have I been doing?  Where has my mind been?  My poor boy!  Hurry, hurry, cram that in!  Faster, find videos, find books, find worksheets!


The end of year test came in the mail a few days ago.  The toughest "algebra" question on it?  Goes something like this:  if 3m + 5 = 20, solve for m.  

Oh, gosh.  Okay, I guess I can relax, because our boy is WICKEDLY over-prepared for this test.  No, that doesn't mean I'm going to give him a break or let him backslide until his skill level matches the test.  That would be incredibly stupid.


So, I found myself looking through the old town's mugshots the other day--something I do to keep tabs on in-laws and old classmates.  As I cruised through, I kept an eye out for stupid names.  Yeah, stupid, sorry, no reason to sugar-coat it.  I was reading a study not too long about about disciplinary problems and incarceration rates for kids with stupid names vs kids with normal names.  It was interesting, the results found a pretty clear relationship between idiotic names and behavioral issues, and that crossed racial and social boundaries.  In a nutshell, give your kid a stupid, hard-to-pronounce, idiotically spelled name?  Increase the chance that there will be run-ins with teachers, administrators, and the police.  Remember that before you go to saddle that baby with a name like RYKLAN, ANTJUAN, PEYTIN, CELICA (!), MEYSCHELLE, TYETIN, KOHLSIN, or (a personal anti-favorite) ACQYUILLIEZ.

Anyway, something I noticed as I was perusing--there don't appear to be any cutesy, stupid, misspelled, or otherwise altered-for-parental-amusement foreign names.  A lot of Hispanic names, but no "Hoe-zay," no "Furnandoh," no "Hoo-lee-oh" or "Rikkarrdo."  Same with the names of Arab or African arrestees--nothing intentionally misspelled to be "cute" or "unique."  Just the names.  

Is it just an American/English-speaking thing?  Because I've noticed that once you get down a generation (to the second born here), naming conventions fly out the window and the YOOONEEK rears its ugly head.  Is it like the American diet?  Insidious, creeping inexorably into the immigrant culture to wreak havoc?

I dunno.  But it's interesting to ponder.


A new contender for personal anti-favorite stupid name?  EINSTEIN GAMMA!  I won't list the last name because, with those two up front, who NEEDS a last name?

Really does argue for "gave me a stupid name" as a defense in matricide/patricide cases.


One last thing before I post something ugly?  Sometimes, I like to look at the search terms people have used to find my blog.  The other day?  Someone found my blog by searching for the term "Dick Van Patten Porno."

If that was you, smack yourself.  Hard.

And now, something ugly:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thanks for the Memories

You know, I don't tend to hold onto grudges.  I mean, sure, there are those, "You accused me of having an affair with my brother-in-law, then tossed me on the street" or "you lied my country into a devastating war and reamed the Constitution while you were at it" stiffies that never completely go away, but, for the most part, I'm a "let it go" kind of person.  Which is why, often, I find myself not remembering why someone else deeply dislikes me.

There is one small pocket of utter unforgiveness in me, though.  A little bubble of bile that--well, I'd say it defies healing, but I don't have any desire to heal it.

I like it.

You see, years ago, I was an active, vital, contributing part of an online gaming league.  A rather LARGE gaming league operated through Myleagues.  This one?  Dedicated to a game once offered on a free gaming site.

It was a skill-based game, and it required a lot of smarts and "outside the box" thinking.  In a nutshell, a cluegiver was given a word to clue, and, in eight spaces, they needed to give a clue that would bring players to the answer without using the word itself (except when we played phonics format).  We would play in teams, but each seven-word game would have individual players on opposing teams matched against each other.  Sadly, it did lend itself to cheating (friends who would message the answer to each other), but, for the most part, it was great fun.

Viciously competitive, but fun.

The league had an admin team, with a Head Admin who owned the league (and earned a portion of league profits).   I'll call her Joody.  Joody was . . . erratic.  Authoritarian.  Not particularly smart.  Histrionic.  And one day, after I'd been one of her "Admins" for maybe a year or so, she offered me the league.  Said she'd had enough.  She'd "inherited" the league from someone else, and now she wanted to hand it over to me.  It was too stressful.  I was the only person she trusted with it, the only one of her Admins who wasn't a dishonest, conniving incompetent (by her reckoning).  So, while I wasn't thrilled at the prospect (because she was right--it WAS stressful), I agreed because I really did love the league and wanted to do right by it.  She handed the mess over to me, and off I went.  She stayed on as a tournament director.

And then things got ugly.

Joooody began acting increasingly erratically.  She flipped out on other tournament directors.  She groused incessantly about everything from contests to other staff to new cluing formats.  And, finally, after better than half a year, she became the subject of one of our Admin meetings (we had online meetings a few times a week to discuss player problems, tournaments, monthly promotions, new rules and test formats, etc.).  After this meeting, in which it was agreed that, while her behavior was a problem, we were going to remain hands-off because she was the former Head Admin, all hell broke loose.  You see, one of my admins went back to her and shared with her the meeting transcript.

Jooooooody lost it.  She demanded "her" league back.  She arranged a viciously effective campaign to undermine me by absolutely smearing me to our league members.  None of it in the open, all behind the scenes.  She founded a new, competing league and recruited my "problem" tournament directors, had them stir up battles between other staff members, set them to work causing grief and turmoil in the tournaments, etc.  She had members, on a regular schedule, announce their defections in the message forum.  If I let the messages stand, it was "evidence" that I had lost control of the league, and if I removed them, it was "evidence" I was a tyrant.

And if I responded to them?  I was obviously a "bully."

After a few weeks?  She threatened to SUE me.  At which point, I told her to bring it on--I could hardly wait to see it.  No, there never was any hot attorney action.  Like anyone ever thought there would be.  What a git.

Oh, and a couple of months into the dispute?   She tried to hack the league and pull my earnings out.

As more and more members left to join her new league, the stress level got increasingly high.  I struggled to keep the league going, worked to keep tournaments on schedule, keep peace between my tournament directors, who were being told awful things about each other.

And two of those tournament directors?

A  married couple going by the names "Duck" and "Mopsy."  Theirs was a weird, creepy relationship with her being decades older, him being sickeningly lounge-lizard-y, and both being viciously vindictive and breathtakingly impressed with their own wittiness.  I felt pretty confident they were in Jooooooooooody's camp, but didn't dare dismiss them because they were very good at the game, i.e., the world thought they were just the nicest folks because the world didn't have to work with them.  They targeted my most productive, best contributing, most creative tournament director/admin and made it their life's work to torment her, which made her increasingly paranoid and snippy.  Stealing her graphics, scheduling tournaments to conflict with hers, spreading rumors about her, and all the while denying it.  It was hell.  Duck and Mopsy necessitated more meetings, the creation and implementation of more rules.  And all the while?

All the while, they were heading over to Jooooooo-oooo-ooody's new league and sharing promotion ideas, monthly contest ideas, graphics, etc., so that they could roll them out before we could and leave us scrambling.

Yes, this was for a GAME.  A LEAGUE.  Yes, I should have walked away, but I have this THING about not letting bullies win.  I know better now--sometimes fighting the fight is what gives them the victory.

It finally came to a head when Duck and Mopsy created a tournament graphic that was a direct attack against their target.  I called them into a meeting, asked them to explain, and they played absolutely, stupidly innocent.  And I lost it.  In the middle of their wide-eyed defense, I told them to "shut the f*** up."  Told them it was positively insulting, how stupid they seemed to think I was.

And that was it.  It was over.

They left the league, screaming that I had persecuted them, punished them, treated them oh, SO badly!  The thieving of ideas and plans continued, so I always knew I had spies in my house.  Duck and Mopsy linked me in search engines to dozens of porn sites, so that any search for my legal name brought up horrid pornography sites and images.  Yes, I know it was them, they bragged about it to certain "double agents."  And Jooo-ooo-ooody was the only person in this mess who knew my whole, real name.  Everyone else knew me by my married name, which isn't the same as my LEGAL name.

Again, "double agents."  In a gaming league.

The league, of course, struggled because it was always a fine line between defending myself and not engaging in the mudslinging.  I tried so hard to take the high road, which is nearly impossible when you're beset by sodden, dripping pigs.  The league staggered, foundered.  That I was able to get Duck and Mopsy in deep trouble for stealing graphics and contest ideas from yet another league?

Didn't help.  Not enough, because no one in their circle believed it.  Or, more accurately, no one in their circle cared because they could ignore any sin in the pursuit of harming me.  Yes, it really was that single-minded, that focused.

Eventually, I handed the league over to . . . I don't know who.  I don't remember.  Hell, now that I think about it, I may have shut the league down completely.  I really don't recall, I was so terrifically stressed by then.  This went on for a couple of years, and it helped nearly destroy my marriage.  This ate up, literally, 7-10 hours a DAY of my life.  I cried every day for over a year, so hurt by the betrayals and defections.  I took it all so personally because I thought these people were my friends, I thought I really did have some dippy duty to do a good job and give folks a fun site.

What a maroon, huh?

Of all those people, there was exactly ONE whose loyalty stood out.  ONE who was in it, not for the league, but for ME.  The rest of them?

Well, the competing league is still hobbling along with 40 or so members (the original league had over 2,500).  Most of the names I recognize (including Joooooo-ooo-ooo-dyyyyy), most of them I still dislike.  I guess that, with it being that difficult and emotionally devastating a time, they've become simple one-dimensional figures representing betrayal and hurt.  I don't much care about them anymore, but when I see their names, I admit, my eyes narrow a bit.  The lip maybe curls just a titch.

Except for Duck and Mopsy.  You see, Mopsy died a few years back.  Died hard, apparently.  There's no lip curl there, no narrowed gaze.  No, there's nothing but smiles there.

Hope the loss hurt, Ducky.  Bad.  Because you're the guy who screwed me over, lied to me, betrayed me, lied about me, had me linked in search engines to porn sites in an attempt to professionally harm me, and all around assassinated my reputation. And all for a game.  I'm glad you lost her.  I hope it hurt then, I hope it hurts now, and I hope it hurts forever.

Yes, I mean that.  Of all the characters in this vicious play, Duck and Mopsy are the ones who still inspire hurt and rage.  I'm glad she's dead.  I'm glad he's hurt.  Couldn't have happened to a more deserving couple.

On the "bright" side?  I will never let myself get pulled into another online community like that.  Facebook?  Doesn't even begin to approach it.  I ditch people on Facebook like tossing old snot rags--there are, perhaps, three dozen people on Facebook who actually mean anything to me (relatives aside, of course).  The rest?  Fun to have around, no loss if I decide to drop them.  I don't have to suffer, I don't have to bend over or contort myself for perfect strangers.

I will never again torture myself for an online group, community, whatever.  I will never again count myself responsible for the happiness of a bunch of strangers.

So hey, Joody, Tish, Duck (but not Mopsy!)?  Thanks for the lesson.  I admit, I was a slow learner, a spit-poor pupil.  But I did learn.  And I do remember you.  Every one of you.  And even today?  If your teeth were on fire, I wouldn't piss to put them out.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's Not Just Dog Poop Needs to be Scooped!

I was thinking the other day.  Thinking about some of the most horrifying, disgusting things that have ever happened to me.  Yes, I was talking to my fifteen year old son, of course.  After much thought, I think I've got it narrowed down to four experiences, all of which involved someone else's bodily fluids.  For obvious reasons, this particular blog entry's going to be light on photos.

For even obvious-er reasons, this blog entry might gross you out.

The first awful, disgusting thing on my list?

I must have been seven or so years old, and there was a stray dog in the school yard.  Smallish, mostly black, some grey around the muzzle.  I played with him before class, KNOWING that I wasn't supposed to mess with unfamiliar dogs (something that the vicious bite and subsequent rabies series when I was five should have impressed upon me in a big way).  Right before it was time to head into class, the dog barfed on me.

It was the worst smelling thing I'd ever experienced in my entire seven years.  The smell was overwhelming, devastating, AND the vomit was acidic, actually left the skin on my leg red and angry.  Knowing that I would be in a world of trouble for playing with a stray dog, I didn't go to the teacher.  However, it didn't take long for the poor kids sitting next to me to fill teacher in.  My father was called, and  . . . well, it got ugly.  It often did.

The second involved a child my then-roommate was babysitting.  The girl was maybe four years old, and had been complaining of a belly ache.  The roommate's solution?  Donuts and hot chocolate.  My roommate had just picked me up from work (I was a barmaid/bartender at a local hotel), and we were driving the kids back home to their mom when the little girl exploded all over me.  Until that moment, I'd had no idea a small child could be that full of vomit.  She soaked me neck to crotch, and I was sitting in a puddle.

That I didn't puke myself was a miracle.  Probably due to the fact that, for the most part, it just smelled like donuts and hot chocolate.  I wound up stripping down to nothing in the front seat of the car in the parking lot of a local bar.  I pulled on dry clothes (there was laundry in the trunk), sat on a blanket, and mostly didn't die from horror.

My third most horrid experience?  Camel spit.  At the zoo, petting the pretty (?) camel, when it hocked a loogie all over me.  I spent the rest of the day reeking of camel puke.  Which is incredibly foul, lemme tell you.

And number four?  Oh, gosh, that's really a toss-up (no pun intended).  But, while stepping in a pile of human feces and feeling it squidge, cold, up between my toes was really bad, I'm going to have to go with another fecesaster.  Hubby and I were vacationing up in Montana with our dogs.  We were staying at a cute little place in Ennis (not too far from Virginia City and Lewis and Clark Caverns) called Riverside Motel and Outfitters.  Not swanky, but solid if you're looking for a clean, quiet place to stay that allows your dogs and gets you in close to the sights in Montana.

So, back to the dogs.  Since being on vacation means being cooped up most of the time, we liked to take the pups out into the middle of nowhere and let them run around  a bit.  On one of these excursions, near the banks of the Madison River, we heard noises.  Terrible noises.  Grunting and thrashing and growling.  I think we knew right then.  See, there's a  tone to a dog rolling in something awful--a vibe, if you will.

Oh, gosh.

Bodhi had found a pile of human excrement.  A very FRESH pile.  Understand, there was an open public restroom not 200 feet away, but some skeezy creep had taken a dump right there, at the water's edge.  And yes, this was absolutely HUMAN feces.  And Bodhi?

Was COATED in it.

Hey, quick aside here--if you ever find yourself SO desperate to take a dump that you can't walk 200 feet?  CLEAN IT UP WHEN YOU'RE DONE!  Seriously!  Put it in a bag and dump it in the trash can (there was a trash can right next to the open bathroom).  And if you can't do THAT?  If you're too far away or don't have a bag?  BURY IT.  Dig a hole and push it in with a stick, then cover it up.  Have a heart, wouldja?

Okay, so back to Bodhi, the amazing feces-coated dog.  If you've ever seen the Madison River, you'll understand that we couldn't just toss the dog in.  Especially not Bodhi, who was so afraid of water that he wouldn't walk across "polished" cement because it LOOKED wet.  Had it been JoJo, we'd have just tossed in a stick over and over and "fetched" him clean.

So here we are.  Crap-coated dog.  Right next to a river we don't dare get into to grab water (again, if you know the Madison, you know why--we didn't want to die).  No water in the truck.  The stink is horrifying--being spread around and ground in really does awaken the bouquet of feces.

So what to do?

Well, we have a couple of bandanas, some wool gloves, a bottle of my favorite shampoo ever, and a 12 pack of diet 7-Up.

Did I mention the pea-soup fog of Amazonian-sized mosquitoes?  Yeah, there were those, too.

So there we were, scraping Bodhi down with the bandanas, wetting him with diet 7-Up, then lathering him with my favorite shampoo (which was a wonderful cherry bark and Irish moss concoction that I never could stomach again).  Rinse with more diet 7-Up, then more shampoo, lather again, rinse, repeat until out of soda.

And when the soda ran out, was the dog clean?

Oh, hell no.

But he was clean ENOUGH that we could spread out a blanket (which we later threw away) and keep him from doing a real number on the inside of the truck.  Then we hauled him back to the motel, where we dragged him, struggling, into the shower (there was no tub).  I stripped down and showered with him because I, too, now stank of feces.  I lathered us up, rinsed, lathered again, over and over until the water ran clear and the smell was gone.

I don't think either of us ever recovered, and it was a few years before I could drink diet 7-Up again.  As I said, my love affair with that shampoo?  Absolutely over.  I was never able to smell it again without smelling human feces.

And here's a picture of the dogs, taken around the time of the crapsaster.  Bodhi's the Pit Bull-mix on the left. No, we didn't know he was a Pit mix when we got him.  No, we will never get another Pit/Pit mix--he was a disaster on all fronts.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Well, that sucked

Blood work came back.  Either what I'm doing isn't working OR 4 weeks of it wasn't enough to make a difference.

My LDL?  UP six points.  My Vitamin D?  DOWN one point.  My total cholesterol?  UP eight points?

On the bright side (pfft) my HDL was up three points, and my A1c is still well below 6%.

What a downer.  What a sad thing.  So, of course, I've had a cupcake, a dark chocolate bar, and two diet ice cream sandwiches.  Because that's what you do when you've been spectacularly "good" for a month and it hasn't helped at all.  You eat.

To my credit, I did still work out, and, as pig outs go, that's not much of one.  That's something, right?

So, I'm back on tomorrow.  Doctor says she wants to talk to me for thirty minutes about diet and medications.

That's a NO.  We already talked about those things, I'm already eating what she says I should, not eating what she says I shouldn't, and taking all the supplements she says I need.  This is a matter of my weight being too high.  Everything I've read says that getting down to a reasonable weight and BMI will pull my numbers into a better range.  So that's what I need to do.

That's what I AM doing.

I won't go in just so I can tell her NO on the statins and listen to her tell me all the stuff we already talked about.  I'll see her in six months.


Hopefully, my numbers will be better.  I'm going to try to be happy about the increased HDL.  That's a bigger increase than a statin would have given me.  That's something, right?


After asking around, I feel a little better.  A lot of folks who've made changes like this needed more than a month or two to see positive differences, and a lot of them saw their LDL go UP before it went down.  So I'll stick with it.

Still feeling sort of BLAH, though.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rude Thin Guy Hates Stupid Fat People--boy, that's a surprise, huh?

So, let's talk about "fat shaming."  More specifically, let's talk about a man named Geoffrey Miller, who is a professor.  Mr. Miller "tweeted" that (and I'm paraphrasing) "fat people can't finish dissertations because they lack motivation or self control."

Mr. Miller is, of course, slender and really quite handsome.  I'm sorry, that's DOCTOR Miller.

Silly me.

Now, there are many calling for Dr. Miller's dismissal, but I'm not one of them.  What I WOULD like to see is Dr. Miller educated on matters of obesity, diet, and what really goes on in a person's body when they become fat as a child.  It's not opinion, it's not excuses, it's not whining--it's science, folks.  Because I abruptly piled weight on at the age of seven (and no one did a thing to figure out why, though my doctor called me a pig and my father offered to drop me off at the dump with a fork, neither response proving to be particularly helpful, strangely), my body will ALWAYS burn less, store more, and fight my efforts to keep weight off.  I will never be able to eat the way a "never-fat" person can eat.  I will always have to eat markedly less and move markedly more.  Again, that's not opinion, that's not butt-covering, that's just science.  The more Dr. Miller (a University of New Mexico professor who was doing a "visiting professor" gig at NYU) actually grasps about the human body, metabolism, and issues of weight and diet, perhaps the less he mouths off like a snotty, discriminating punk.

Speaking of discriminating, word has it this man has spent time on academic admissions committees.  Boy, if that doesn't just pierce your heart with something cold and scary, huh?  Kind of like being gay and Hispanic and having Niall Ferguson and Jason Richwine weighing your admissions application.  Not saying the man's obvious bias against folks who weigh more than he thinks they should came into play, just saying the possibility certainly leaps to mind.

Here's one of Dr. Miller's tweets:

And here is a nicely phrased blog entry about Dr. Miller, his tweets, and some of the broader issues at play here.  To put a wrap on this issue, let me just say this--I hope, with all my heart, that Dr. Miller finds a way to overcome this awful prejudice before a wife, lover, or child weighs in at more than he finds acceptable.  Personally, even at my thinnest (think a loose size one), I would never have dated a guy like this--after all, even at my thinnest, I was still ME.  And this guy?  Despises me.

This girl never would have dated Dr. Geoffrey Miller
Now, Dr. Miller would no doubt look at the above picture and say, "But see, that's the perfect example of what I mean--you DID lose the weight, and therefore YOU would be the perfect doctoral candidate!"  

My answer?

I lost that weight (135 lbs) in six months through starvation and terrifyingly obsessive exercise.  I was 15 years old, and I quit school so I could spend six-plus hours a day exercising.  When I wasn't doing aerobics at home, I was running.  And when I wasn't running?  I was at the gym lifting weights, riding stationary bikes, taking part in high energy aerobics classes, and swimming.  I ate (and this is no exaggeration) one day a week, and that meal was preceded by a large dose of laxatives.  All other days?  Four ounces of unsweetened orange juice.  My hair began thinning.  My teeth loosened.  My gums bled.  My hands trembled all the time, my head hurt all the time, my stomach BLED while my periods STOPPED for almost two years.  I'm still facing a health backlash over this, decades later--ever wonder what anorexia does to bone density? Yeah, I'll tell you all about it some time.

But gosh, at least Jeff Abbot asked me out.  Jeff Abbot, whose opinions were much like Dr. Miller's.  Jeff Abbot, who, a year earlier, had told me to get my "fat ass" off his car.  It was with a special joy that, the day he asked me out, I was able to tell him to get HIS "fat ass" off MY car.  It was only then he realized I was the same girl.  No, he didn't have the good sense to be ashamed.

Now, Dr. Miller might say, "You should have lost the weight reasonably, you should have taken it slow and made gradual lifestyle changes."  Oh, shut the hell up--like I haven't been doing that my whole stinking life?  The last time I fried a food--ANY food--was 1981.  The last time I added salt to ANYTHING was that same year.  I haven't eaten white bread in 30 years.  I haven't had a sugar-sweetened soda since that one time Don M. didn't have any diet drinks back in 1984.  My mistake, every time, has been thinking that, once I achieve a weight goal, I can start eating like a normal person, calorie-wise.  No, not like a stereotypical "fat" person, but like the lady across the table from me, like my husband, like my friends.  

And that is just not true.  And it never will be true.  And until I can find a way to reconcile what I want with the vastly reduced amount I can actually have, I will always struggle.  I challenge Geoffrey Miller to exist on markedly reduced calories a day FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE and keep blathering on about lazy people who lack willpower.  

Here's an EXCELLENT PIECE in the NY Times on the subject.


And enough of that!  Let's move on to even more depressing things.

My teeth.

I am the dental health queen in the family.  While my husband has racked up thousands of dollars in dental care costs, I've always been Ms. Wonder-Teeth.  Yes, I'm missing all my molars on the right side, but through no fault of my own--the bottom ones never erupted (and had to be removed surgically in an in-patient procedure when I was 13 years old), and the top ones, which were perfectly healthy, had to be yanked out of my head because they kept sinking lower and lower (because of the lack of a bridge below them), until they were gouging into my lower jaw every time I chewed.  But otherwise, my teeth have always rocked.  I did have a root canal 8 years ago because a tooth broke when I chewed something that turned out to have a hard chunk of rock-like stuff in it.  That aside, I'm the girl who's always being congratulated for my dental hygiene.  I'm the "brush 2-3 times a day, floss repeatedly, rinse with an anti-cavity product every night before bed" kind of person.

So you can imagine my horror at the 600 dollar-plus dental bill I have coming up later this month.  You see, when you chew on only one side of your face, it takes a toll.  I've been chewing only on the left side since . . . well, since the baby molars fell out and nothing new came in to take their place.  And, eventually, that has a deleterious effect.  In me?

It's left one of my molars cracked.  Which is going to necessitate a build up and crown.


In addition, I have a new problem.  See, I rinse nightly with a fluoride/anti-gingivitis rinse.  I have for years.  But recently (about a month ago), I ran out of my usual stuff (ACT).  While at Wegmans, I spied a big, purple bottle of Crest Pro-Health Complete Rinse.

It's purple.

It claims to be "no burn" and "clean mint" flavored.

Did I mention it's PURPLE?

 I'd been using it for 3+ weeks when I noticed that my teeth were looking decidedly . . . dingy.  A sort of nasty yellowish pall.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that I had definite BROWN staining starting between the teeth.  In some spots, it was pretty intense.  I was horrified.  I smoked for 26+ years, so my teeth aren't movie-star white, but they're a nice, solid, even light ivory.  For them to suddenly be yellow with brown patches between them?

What the hell?

So there it is-the brown between, the yellowish cast--that's all new.  Again, I brush, floss, and rinse daily, so this was something initially scary to me.  Being the web-junkie I am, I immediately ran out and did a websearch.  And the overwhelming answer?

Crest Pro-Health.  Not only does this stuff contain an ingredient that causes brown stains to teeth (cetylpyridnium chloride), but Crest has KNOWN that this stuff stains teeth for YEARS.  In fact, it turns out, in very fine print, that they say so on the packaging:

Now, here's the rub--they say it's not permanent, and that "adequate brushing" can prevent it.  Wellll, screw you, Proctor and Gamble!  I brush plenty adequately, and the hygienist who went nuts trying to scrape it off?  Said it won't budge.  And she really put some muscle into it.  Fact is, if I want this completely gone, I'm going to have to fork over for a professional tooth whitening gig.

Yes, I contacted Crest.  And after a few days?  Still no response.  I feel me a big, nasty Epinions product review coming on.

Now, I will say that, after a week of NOT using this crap (and it is crap--it smells and tastes like that horrid saccharine-like fake bubble gum air freshener my mom used to bring home from the hospital where she worked), the brown is not as bad.  And I suppose I should be grateful for the brown--with the number of people out there who complain that this product has robbed them of their sense of taste (believable to me--my tongue is still randomly tossing out bitter sensations, and the flavor of this stuff ten minutes after use is horrifically, deeply chemical-y), I guess a little brown and yellow is the preferable bad side-effect.

Now, I was checking in the store last night, and not all Crest Pro-Health products appear to have this ingredient.  So read your labels, and watch for the staining warning.  And remember, the FDA is not your friend here--because they consider these effects "minor" and "cosmetic" and "not damaging," they won't do anything about it.

Looks like I'll be dodging Crest products like I'll be dodging Chrysler.  Sometimes, it's not just what your product does, it's how you, as a corporate entity, respond to what your product does.


And on a final, happy note?  I was out this morning at around six (I know, some of you are saying, "6 a.m.?  I thought you said HAPPY?"), watering the flowers, veggies, and grass (and putting fresh water in the neighbor's bird bath).  I like going out early when it's cool and green and everything still has that dewy, fresh smell to it.  It's why, when my other neighbor (the atheist-hater) offers to let me use her soaker hose, I don't actually take her up on it.  While she would never understand, fact is, I LIKE being outside with my yard.  I like watering, pruning, and just sitting there enjoying as I give my world a drink.  Anyway (see how I wandered there?), I was watering, and the birds were so loud, so . . . celebratory.  A hummingbird kept coming to the feeder, landing, and taking deep drinks.  Two mourning doves kept landing on the fence and staring, waiting for me to leave.  And the robin on the shed?  Kept coming to the ground, hunting for bugs, then flying off when I'd move, each time giving an offended chirp and casting an evil glance my way.  Obviously impatient for me to get out of HIS yard so he could get his breakfast in.  And then?

It occurred to me.  At 6 a.m., I don't have a lot of birds in my yard.  Instead, the birds have a lot of ME in their yard.  At 6 a.m., I'm the interloper.

It made me happy to see it that way.