Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Update on Spartacus

You remember Spartacus?  I blogged about him a couple of days ago?  Well, his beautiful owner has decided, after she and the vet saw some improvement, to try to keep Spartacus going.  It's going to be tough, and he may never get back bowel and bladder control.  He may never walk again without assistance from a cart or other contraption.  But his people love him and they're going to try.

Spartacus, who is back home with his family

Please remember--don't encourage your dogs to leap high, twist, or otherwise contort themselves. The results can be disastrous.


It's been a devastating couple of days.  The bills have overcome us, and we are, to be blunt, screwed.  I have 300 dollars worth of dental work scheduled for tomorrow, and we can only make that if we max every card we have.  That's right.  And it turns out we have three accounts past due--something that never happens to us, but the gigantic dental bill plus the various medical bills of late have really sunk us.  For anyone thinking, "How could you send your kid to camp, then?" please know that we paid for camp back in February.  Things were much rosier in February.

No, there was no way to get a refund.  I asked.

So we've got credit-crushing problems, overdue bills, a dental appointment I can't cancel (once they've put in the temp crown, you're pretty much stuck--you've got to get it finished), and potentially major medical bills for our boy looming.  Oh, and the landlord still hasn't answered the "renew the lease" question.

I have been scouring for work the past couple of months, looking for at-home (preferred) or call center-type stuff that can work.  See, we have ONE car and the nearest mass transit stop is miles away and goes straight into DC--no real "route."  The nearest shopping center is miles away.  In fact, there are no businesses within reasonable walking distance.

Plus, as a heavy woman, I have no wardrobe.  Nothing.

What are my skills?


I can restore/repair photos on the computer.  I'm pretty good at it.  I can do research like a maniac. I can create pretty memorials for dead folks.  I can proofread with the best of them.  I'm a pretty good editor/writer, and I'm excellent at penning product and destination reviews.  In fact, I write like crazy, and get paid like crap HERE.   I once sold an article for real, live money, and it was widely published/shared amongst news stations and websites.  It was about why dryers normally don't qualify for Energy Star ratings, and it was my one big hit.

I also wrote about oral transmission of STDs, Big Wheels, and adverse reactions to the smallpox vaccine.  Because I'm flexible that way.

In other words, I'm fat, without a wardrobe, and pretty much without marketable skills.  My computer/internet doesn't meet the requirements for at home call center work, and I can't lift more than 20 lbs.  I can't be on my feet for any length of time most days, and . . .

Oh, wow. You wanna know the biggest bummer?   I can't even take anti-depressants to stop feeling this awful because they're not safe with the medication I take for the arrhythmia.

Oh, hell.  I'm getting utterly maudlin here.  


Speaking of feeling rotten and sad and disappointed, I came across my Psi Chi "appreciation" certificate.  You see, I served a year as Vice-President of my University's Psi Chi chapter.  At the end of the year, the President had certificates made up, and on mine?  She listed me as "Secretary."  Now, there's nothing wrong with being the Secretary, except I wasn't--I was the Vice-President.  I asked her about it, and she promised to "fix that right away," but, of course, didn't.  All these years, I've had that stupid certificate in a folder somewhere because, when I look at it, it just makes me sad.  Today, I came across it, and decided "screw it" and fixed it in Photoshop.  No, not the same as actually being appreciated or recognized, but it'll be something I can print out so my boy can know that about me.  It's something that shows that once I did something that made me feel accomplished.

The bad, evil version

The "fixed" version.  

Yes, I pulled my name off them because--well, because I've gotten some ugly "hate mail"-type comments on a few of my blog entries, and why put my name out there?


Pretty sure we know now what our boy did to himself.  Looks like he's torn the penile suspensory ligament.  We won't know for certain until we can afford to take him in. Which may be a month or more down the line.


And that's all.  Looks like the Right is looking to try to shut down the government and put my husband out of work.  Again.  What is this, the 38th time they've tried to overturn "Obamacare?" Such terrible people.  I don't want to think about it right now.  


Oh, and hey--if you live in Tickland, Ticktown, Tickville, or Mosquito Coast, read my latest.  I need the readers, and you need the information:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Saving Your Dog

So, the boy is home from camp.  Every single thing we wanted from this, every lesson, every experience?


And our fears?


So he had an amazing time--made friends, had fun, sat under the stars with other musicians and jammed in the night, had philosophical discussions, built rockets, dissected sheep brains, went hiking, performed skits and improv, and had an all-around amazing time.

Sadly, he's too old to go back next year as a camper--instead, he'll be a "Counselor-in-Training." Worried that will put something of a barrier between him and the friends he's made this year.
Hoping not.

He had the fancy Canon camera for the whole week and took NO pictures.  He managed to take three before getting in the car.  Goodness.

Since coming back, he's slept reasonable hours AND passed up hours of PS3 time in favor of practicing new songs for next year.  I am LIKING that!


I want to talk about something super-serious today.  Something that most of us have witnessed with a smile and a cry of amazement.

Something that can kill your dog.

I'm talking about jumping/twisting/flipping/frisbee-catching/treat leaping.

Dogs aren't cats.  Though no one ever tells us this, fact is, they're not built to leap into the air and twist about, catching things.  Long and low breeds are especially prone to spinal injuries from leaping and twisting, but it can happen to ANY breed.

It happened to Spartacus here just the other day:


Spartacus is the sweetie-pie of an old high school friend of mine.  A smart, lovely, funny woman with a heart that heals bigger with each break.  Her sweet Spartacus broke his back last week while leaping for a cookie.  He was paralyzed from the hips down, and lost all bladder and bowel control. Despite surgery, his hurts could not be healed.  Spartacus is coming home today for one last night with his adoring family, and will then be euthanized.  My friend's heart is broken.

While not uncommon, this sort of injury is not often spoken of.  This wasn't a matter of extreme athleticism gone awry, but rather of a dog leaping/twisting in the air to grab a cookie and his spine fracturing.  It could have been any dog.

It could be yours.

So, please--I know it's fun to watch your dog fly sideways through the air, twisting to grab that frisbee or Beggin' Strip, but your dog's risk of debilitating injury increases dramatically with such actions.  If it inspires your pup to leap and twist, it could damage his spine.  

Take a lesson from Spartacus.  Let my friend's tragedy mean something.  Protect your beloved dogs from hurt by not encouraging leaping/twisting.

Thank you.


Time to call the doctor for our boy, and then get myself back in bed.  My old L3, L4, L5, S1 injury is flaring up something awful, and I fear I'm headed for a spate of "barely able to walk."  Hoping to be able to make it into (and back out of) the dentist's office on Thursday.  

That's all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Maudlin, Marvelous, and the Obligatory Trayvon Post

Years ago, when hubby and I were still new, we watched a movie called "The Cure."  I had zero interest, but he really seemed to want to, had seen it before, so I went along with it.  I thought it was the most maudlin, overwrought pile of crap I'd ever seen, but kept that to myself because I didn't see any reason to slam something he so clearly liked.

Last night, he said he'd come across the film on Netflix, and thought we could watch it.  I guess I'm just old and indelicate now, because, without even thinking, I said, "No way I'm sitting through that crap."  And then I stopped and tried to backpedal because he looked up and said, "Are you serious?"

Oh, hell.  We're not going to fight about some crappy Brad Renfro movie, are we?

He went on.  He said, "You LOVED this movie when we first met!"  I said, "No, YOU loved it, I faked it because I didn't want you to feel bad about liking such an emotionally overblown, melodramatic puddle of puke."  He started laughing.  Turns out?

He'd faked it because he thought I liked it.  He hates the thing.

Can't you just hear the violins, taste the tears?


Just a quick thing here:  Leeslye is not a name.  Seriously, stop that.  Don't do that.  Mean, mean, mean.


Watched an amazing documentary about Budrus last night on Netflix streaming.  If you don't know what Budrus is, you should watch it, too:  

We were, of course, horrified by the IDF, its actions, and its attitudes (no way not to be), but even more, we were so impressed by the persistence and intelligence of the villagers in the face of that hideous, self-aggrandizing, prideful machine.  It was hard to watch, but beautiful.


Charlie, our Cairn Terrier, has been "half-promoted" to regular dog training. He's still in his "reactive" dog class, but they've invited us to bring him one or two nights a week to the regular training.  He was . . . nervous, distracted, not as attentive as he should be.  Training-wise, he is head a shoulders above these dogs, but that's not surprising--when he's not barking at other dogs, Charlie is incredibly well-trained. 


Just a little bit about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.  I just want to remind folks that Zimmerman wasn't found "not asshole" or "not wannabe cowboy/cop" or "not dull-wit."  He was found not guilty, and I think the jury was correct in that finding.  There was no compelling evidence of INTENT to do murder, and without intent, you don't have the grounds to convict.

My opinion here?  Despite the out-of-control hyperbole painting Zimmerman as some zombie-like creature that murders angelic children and Trayvon as some pure-as-the-driven-snow saint (or, from the other side, Zimmerman as a "stand your ground," wrapped-in-the-flag hero and patriot with Trayvon as some gold-grilled gang-banger demon), I think Zimmerman's a dipshit of breathtaking scope, and I think Trayvon was something of a punk, and I think they both had a history of assaulting people (with at least one of them given to bragging about those assaults).  I think these two people collided and it turned disastrous, and I wish it hadn't.  Because teenagers are often punks who grow up to be NOT punks.  And my heart breaks that he won't get that chance--regardless of his troubles, he was an incredibly handsome young man who was quite clearly deeply loved by his family and friends.  And Zimmerman's life?  Is over.  Even if no one murders him (and yes, that would be murder--again, it's that whole "intent" thing), fact is, the guy's reputation is forever soiled.  Other than Fox News (who will hire the registered Democrat for a short while so long as his notoriety is high), nobody's going to give this guy a job.  Nobody is going to let him live in peace.  Which does beg the "what about innocent until proven guilty?" question, but that's not my point.  I'm not soliciting sympathy, I'm just reminding folks who think Zimmerman's "walking" on this.  Walking to what?

A totally devastated existence.  I know we're not famous for our empathy, but I know I'd be feeling pretty bitter if I were cleared of a crime only to find that the court of public opinion had convicted me WITHOUT giving two spits about the evidence and that my old life would never be mine again.

Just one more thing--what's with this whiny-butt idea that a jury's verdict must somehow please the public?  This screwed-up conviction that a court of law should operate like a popularity contest?  It doesn't MATTER if you like the verdict--the court isn't supposed to be in the business of doing the teeming masses' will.  It's not a MOB, it's a JURY.  If you don't like the verdict, tough.  Seriously, tough.  Big deal.  Oh, well.  I didn't like the OJ verdict, I don't like a LOT of legal outcomes, but that doesn't mean you'll find me calling for killings or screaming for retrials.  I never once accused the OJ jury of being racially biased.  And I believe wholeheartedly that, had OJ and his wife traded races, the result would have been the same--a guy I believed was guilty would have walked.  

And that's how it should be--if we start twisting up our legal system to serve the desires of a less-than-educated public with little grasp of law, then we have nothing standing between us and mob rule.  

Now, if you want to talk about/protest "stand your ground" laws, I'm totally with you on that. While I think they're a possibly good IDEA, in PRACTICE they're just an excuse for people to intentionally put or keep themselves in dangerous situations instead of seeking to escape them.  Combined with lax concealed carry laws, and you've got exactly this.  Zimmerman shouldn't have had a gun, and if he hadn't, he probably wouldn't have gotten out of that car.  And no, that's not me saying he got out looking to kill--most people playing dimwitted cowboy don't actually intend to USE the gun, they think that, by brandishing it, they'll get the desired effect.  No gun= no courage here.  I believe that. Obviously, I can't crawl into Zimmerman's mind and know for sure.  But that feels right to me, based on what I do know.

And at the tail end of all this?  Do I think Zimmerman "targeted" Trayvon because he was black?

I don't know.

And neither do you.

I think that, in this country, with the screwed up arrest and conviction rates, with the news stories, the common stereotyped perceptions, and, yes, the reality of inner cities, there is the real possibility that Zimmerman might not have stopped, had Trayvon Martin been white.  But with his level of frustration at the happenings in his neighborhood, I think he might have.  I don't know.  We can't know.  We can't know if Trayvon's response to Zimmerman was aggressive or ugly, we can't know if Zimmerman would have been as persistent with a white kid.  We can't know. My gut?  My gut says that, yeah, Trayvon's skin color probably did influence Zimmerman's decision to follow.  Probably.  And I say that NOT because I see anything clearly racist in Zimmerman, but rather because our nation, as a whole, too often looks at that.  Looks at it, and then makes decisions based upon it.

But again, I can't actually KNOW that about Zimmerman.

What I DO know is that, based upon released text messages, school records, interviews with Zimmerman, etc., I wouldn't have invited either of them over for dinner.  And neither one of them should be dead.  And that makes this whole thing incredibly sad.

Also sad?  That I wish I could hop on the "hang the bastard" bandwagon.  I do, that would make this all SO much easier for me.  And I know why so many people have jerked those knees so hard--because a"not guilty" George Zimmerman makes the nasty wingnuts happy.  It makes the gun-freaks and the racists gooey-ecstatic.  And I HATE that.  But here's THE thing:

I can't adopt an opinion based solely upon how the KKK or Tea Party feels about things, because, to quote an old one, "even a stopped clock is right twice a day."  I will tell you it makes me examine things a whole lot more deeply, but I cannot allow myself to knee-jerk to an opposing position just because I don't like the scumbuckets who are celebrating this.  

That would be absolutely unacceptable to me.  I will not pretend that something IS just because I wish it were so.  I refuse.

And so, I've mostly stayed quiet on this.  Because most of the folks I know appear to have come down on the "popularity contest/hate the wingnuts" side of this, and I like most of the folks I know.  Don't want to argue with them about law vs heart.  But I believe they're wrong here--it's not about whether or not Zimmerman is an asshole or even about if he's a racist.  It's about whether or not he got out of that car with the intent to kill, and whether or not his actions were justified or allowable UNDER THE LAW AS IT CURRENTLY STANDS.  And sorry--by that standard, Zimmerman is absolutely not guilty.

Whether we like it or not.  The answer isn't to make fools of ourselves protesting a VERDICT.  The answer is the protest the LAWS that led to that verdict.


Sorry, that turned out to be a "LOTTLE" bit about Trayvon and Zimmerman. 


I'm going to end with this because that last bit was heavy.  I love this video, even though the kid (who is clearly a terrific person) looks a little too much like the newest Rolling Stone cover for me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scattered About

So, our boy is at camp--we brought him up last weekend, we'll pick him up this weekend.  Got an email from the camp folks, saying that, while the rest of the area has no water, the camp still does. Already feeling bad that our boy is at camp during record-breaking heat, though happy I chose for him to be in a cabin rather than tent--the cabins are air-conditioned!

Miss him terribly.  Hope he's having a wonderful time.  Hope they know how to keep him safe in this heat.


Hubby picked our first cuke today--it's beautiful!

Tasted wonderful!


Watched a horrifyingly bad movie last night--"Attila" with Gerard Butler as the mighty Hun, Powers Boothe as the Shifty yet strangely noble Roman who . . . well, I won't tell you.  Wouldn't want to give it away.  Such a masterpiece of historical inaccuracy, you're sure to pick it up unless I spoil it for you.  As Mr. Munchkin Troll 2 will rush to let you know in his snotty, humorless, dull-wit way, the world hates a "spoiler."

Yes, that's Alice Krige.  A very young Isla Fisher is featured, too.


 The class reunion I won't be attending but somehow wound up a committee member?  Disaster, I'm thinking.  The folks doing the "real" work chose a venue so expensive that most of our classmates can't afford it.  Sure, the fancy steak house with the DJ is nice, but most folks need a cheaper option.  22 days out, and only SIX have bought tickets.  There will be a cheap "appetizers only/cash bar" get together the night before, and I'm thinking that's going to be the only draw.  Can't put all the blame on the mostly "haves" who set it all up--had our class officers stepped up and done what they're supposed to do, the rest of us wouldn't have had to blunder in and try to set something up months too late.  If folks'd had more than a few months warning, they might have been able to scrape together the cash.  

Sad days.


So, our internet crashed for over 12 hours the other night/morning. Lucky us, we can do the whole "mobile hotspot" gig.  Not so lucky?  Our boy didn't realize that eats up data like a piranha eats errant livestock in an old Wild Kingdom installment.  Not understanding the data gig, he went to sleep without turning off the mobile hotspot.  Which catapulted us to 92% of our monthly plan allowance with two weeks still to go.  Hubby called them today,and they agreed to set us up to the next data level for this month, then set us back down at no charge.  Very nice.  Now, let's see if it actually WORKS that way.  


I'm working on a Zimmerman/Trayvon entry.  Not tonight, though.  I have a dental-related face ache.  


Caught a bit of the 700 Club the other day.  Listened to Pat Robertson blather on about how "you can't outgive GAWD," but that the solution to bankruptcy is to TITHE.

I kid you not.

Remember that--if you can't make your bills, if you're underwater, struggling, foreclosed upon, just SEND CASH TO PAT ROBERTSON!  Really, because GAWD'll give back "30,60, and 100 fold!"

I'm reminded of when I once worked for "the largest telemarketing firm in the world."  We used to take calls for some now-deceased player, went by the name "The Reverend Ike."  

Now, many years ago, the Reverend Ike was sending out "prayer cows."  Yes, that's what I said. Little fuzzy cardboard holsteins. The point was something like this:  make a call, get a cow (and an envelope full of utterly nutty religious crap), sleep with the cow under your pillow while you pray about your money problems.  Then send the cow back with YOUR MONEY and some ghostie in the sky will return your investment however many fold.

Or instead, you could write your name and prayer on the included "prayer seeds" and "plant" them by mailing them back with twenty bucks (or more) every week for a few weeks until your prayer came true.

Or you could just call and give your money that way, and screw the cash cow and prayer seeds.  

We'd sit on break and compare the calls.  The horror, the heartbreak.  And finally, one night, I broke.  An old woman called and went on and on about how she was putting her trust in the LAWD and REV'REND IKE, utilities be damned!  She was crying, THANKING ME for the opportunity to "do the LAWD'S will." She just KNEW that, by giving the only money she had, the money for her LIGHTS and HEAT, she'd be rewarded.

I was nearly in tears as I made that decision.  The decision to risk my job and stop this poor, deluded woman from freezing to death in the dark.  And yeah, had there been a monitor on the line or a supervisor nearby, I'd have been escorted from the building.

I talked her out of it.  I convinced her that "God" had already given her the money to pay her utilities, and that it would be wrong to NOT do that. 

I had my own "prayer cow."  Wish I knew where it was, I'd love to post a pic.


And finally . . . Ever been totally haunted by something? Years ago, Hubby and I were out for breakfast with my family when I spotted a guy. A handsome young man, scruffy jaw, sun-browned, green/hazel eyes, hair a very light brown/dark blond, sun-streaked. He had a backpack, and he looked so incredibly familiar, I couldn't take my eyes off him. As he was leaving, he smiled and said hello to me, and I said, "I am so sorry, I know I've been staring--you are so familiar to me, have we met?" He said no, he didn't think so, he wasn't local. Just passing through.  He seemed a little uncomfortable once I said he looked familiar, though he was still very friendly and quick to flash that marvelous smile. I wished him safe, happy travels and obsessed for days. And then I remembered where I'd seen his face before. 

I went nuts searching online until I found his picture. Was it him? I don't know--the age would have been about right, and he looked just like this boy. I didn't notice anything off about his jaw, but he had a scruffy sort of stubble going on. I called about him, reported the possible sighting, but I still don't know if it was him. I wish I'd remembered at the time why he rang bells for me, I'd have known to ask more questions, pay closer attention.

Patrick Shawn Betz

And age-progressed:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Caterpillars into Politicians

I want to start off with this:

Because I've been the beautiful, interesting woman that Dustin Hoffman would have approached, and I've also been the fat, "dumpy," not-beautiful woman he would have turned away from.  It's a shocking thing, knowing how it feels to be both of those things.  To know that, to borrow a trite phrase, "I'm the same person inside."  I AM the same person, and yet one version is worthwhile and lovable while the other is to be shunned, without value.

How can that be?  I keep trying to tell my son "there's no wrong way to have a body," but apparently there is.  I know that, because I suffer every day for looking this way.  I feel such pain and shame it's indescribable.  I won't say I wish  myself dead, but I'm sure not feeling like I'm having a body the RIGHT way.  How can I teach my son not to judge when I feel so strongly about MYSELF?


We have DOZENS of Black Swallowtail caterpillars in the garden, in various instars (pupal stages). They seem particularly drawn to the parsley, chard, and dill.  We discovered them while pruning OUT those plants, but changed our minds as soon as we saw the first caterpillar.  I was reading just recently how we're losing butterflies and moths at a breathtaking rate.  If they like those plants, those plants stay.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Came across this article the other day, one detailing the many risks of cat feces.  While I was already aware of the risks to pregnant women and folks with AIDS (and mice, lol), I was unaware of the effects on the rest of us.  Reason number 5,674 why I will NEVER have another cat in my home.  You see, I loved cats for a long, long time.  But all it took was a few cats (dumped on us by my sister) to decide they didn't like catboxes to UNtrain our cats, and the next thing you know, we've got cat piss and cat feces up to our ears.  Life became a constant battle to clean, deodorize, block access, add more and more cat boxes, place catboxes "strategically" to stop them pissing on this or shitting on that.  They managed to piss the paint right off the top of the brand new dryer, ruined our son's brand new bed, and they would hang tail over my son's CLOSED toyboxes and piss in through the cracks.  We tried "enzymatic" cleaners, carpet shampoos, air fresheners, incenses, sprays, powders, keeping certain cats away from certain other cats, and even the BS "hormonal" treatments and sprays supposedly meant to calm piss-happy cats.  Yeah, that crap works like water has memory, you know?

Sheba, the dryer paint-pissing-off cat.  She also pissed through a window screen once.  Into my face.
Mini, one of the toybox-filling cats

The final straw?  When it was time to move from that house and we discovered that the cats had found a way to access our storeroom.  They had pissed and shat all over everything.


We wound up throwing out better than half our belongings.  That is not an exaggeration.  Box after box of BOOKS thrown out with the trash.  Clothing, linens (including the gorgeous hand-stitched pillowcases Ingaborg Plaas Smith had crafted for me as a wedding gift back in 1983).  A dear porcelain doll my great-grandmother had given to my grandma.  And photographs--oh, so many pictures!  I pried apart those that could be and scanned them, trying to use Photoshop to fix them.  It's been painstaking work.  Most of the photos couldn't even be scanned.

Let me tell you about moving out of a cat-stinking house and into a place that's never had cats--it's like quitting smoking.  After a few weeks, your nose returns to normal, and you realize.  You realize that half of what you own STILL stinks of cats.  You realize that YOU stank of cats.  And then you start noticing it on others.  People who own cats.  You have houseguests over and you don't have to ask if they have cats because your nose has already told you.  These are people who roll their eyes and shake their heads at the suggestion that their houses (and selves) might reek of cat piss.

Like I did when I smoked and was told that my perfume, powder, lotion, and Bounce dryer sheets didn't do a thing to hide the stink of smoke.

I will never have a cat in my house again.  I think of the sprays, powders, candles, cleaners, and little tricks like perfume on light bulbs and plug-in oil burners.  I think of all the money and time I put into trying to make my house smell good, when, fact is, it smelled like a house with cats.

I don't hate cats.  In fact, I love OTHER PEOPLE'S cats.  I pet them and scratch them and cuddle with them.  But I will never own another cat.  Never.

And before you waste the time writing up some, "You obviously didn't blah, blah, blah" screed? Don't.  I spent the first 45 years of my life with cats, and I used to be one of those assholes who tells other people that they're obviously doing something wrong, that they obviously haven't done this, this, or that correctly.  And they'd angrily tell me I was living in a dream world.

They were right.  Except for one cat who insisted upon pissing in the corner near the front door in SoCal, my cats were always marvelously housetrained.  Until the introduction of two that weren't. And that broke everything.   I researched, I talked to pet behavioralists, I consulted vets and other pet owners.  I'm not some newbie who doesn't "get" cats.  I "get" cats just fine.

If you haven't found yourself on the receiving end of cats gone box-free, I'm glad.  Truly.  But I have nice furniture now.  I have a nice house.  I won't have the carpet torn to fuzz or the beautiful sofa ripped to shreds because the cats prefer those over the seven different scratching posts I've tried (and I will not waste time trying to affix stupid little "claw caps" that fall off in a matter of hours to days).  I won't reach into a hamper only to realize some cat has pissed all over my clothes. Ever pull a sheet up over you, only to realized it's dripping with cat piss?  I have.

And I won't put up with any of that.  Ever again.

A fun aside--I read this a few years ago, but I'm reminded--it's about how toxoplasmosis exerts "mind control" over rodents.  Makes me wonder if it does the same to humans, which would explain why I put up with cats in my home for so long.


A quick political aside.  Rob Bishop, that nard who used to teach at my old high school?  You know, Mr. Wonderful REPRESENTATIVE Bishop?  The winger who's been scrambling to affix his lips to that teabag behind and keep his job?  The guy whose office staff fashions such snotty, dismissive responses to constituents' letters?  Spoke out in favor of a 17+ million dollar redesign for the Eisenhower Memorial in DC.

Mr. Bishop, remind me how you voted on the food stamps matter?  Student loan interest?   Voted to slash any housing programs lately?  How about those furloughs, Mr. Bishop?  If we're as broke as YOU say we are (we're not, and you know it), if our economy is as bad as YOU claim (it's not, and you know that, too), if the deficit is as devastating as YOU tell us it is (not only is it not, but it's as BIG as it is because of YOU and your pals), then how on earth can we afford to throw 17+ million dollars at some dippy monument?  If it's so important to you, how about YOU foot the bill?  I'm SURE you have some very rich friends who could help you out.


A Facebook friend posted today about Hamburger Helper and how much he loves it.  Same guy who, just a few weeks ago, admonished me on my own wall to "not buy packaged, processed foods."  I don't.  We make things up from scratch and freeze them for future meals.  Beans, chili, primavera, catalan, etc.  Anyway, I was reminded of life back in the REALLY bad ol' days, when we couldn't afford REAL Hamburger Helper.  So we'd buy the generic.  We also couldn't afford HAMBURGER, so we'd just make the mix without.  We called it "Helper Helper."

My son has never known that life.  We may be teetering, but at least he's not eating generic boxed meals made with half the ingredients missing.  Remember boxed generic Macaroni and Cheese made with cheap corn oil and water instead of butter and milk?  He doesn't.  Hopefully, he never will.

And now, something ugly . . . er.

I'm reminded of the yawning mouth of Sauron.  What a geek, huh?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Panic, Punks, and Permethrin

Cable/internet's down, router flashing pretty orange.  Operating off my phone's "mobile hotspot."  Yes, it may be a pain in the behind, but it's also kinda cool that my phone can provide my wifi for my computer.


Doing a bit of necessary research the past little while before deciding where to take our boy, urologist-wise.  Here in the States, "Circumcise him!" is always the answer from the medical community, regardless of the complaint or whether that malady actually calls for consideration of such over-the-top measures.  Trying to find a "foreskin friendly" urologist which, again, is a tough thing here.  Would be a breeze in Canada, Mexico, the entirety of Europe, but here?  It's big money, even if better than 50% of American newborns today aren't circumcised.  


Because today didn't already suck enough, I had 600 bucks worth of dental work done.  Well, actually, I had 300 worth--the other half comes in two weeks when the permanent crown goes on.  Cracked molar being built up and crowned.  Major fun.  Eating's going to be an adventure.  On the bright side, the cavity I didn't think was there?  The one on the bottom left canine?  Wasn't there--the dentist I saw today poked, prodded, pored over the x-rays, and finally said, "I don't know what she was talking about, but there's no cavity there."  Given my druthers, I'd have taken the cavity and foregone the crack in the molar, though.


Here's a possibly "NSFW" piece that came across my wall today.  Made me tear up, because you know what?  I remember my mother TELLING me to go nurse my then-infant son in a public restroom.  No, I didn't--I took him in, took one look around, and went right back out.  It was the first and last time I even considered breastfeeding on a toilet. A TOILET.   Breastfed babies, on average, suffer markedly fewer diseases and ailments, the production of breast milk creates no emissions, no pollution, requires no shipping, packaging, sterilization, or preparation, and is FREE, and yet breastfeeding mothers are shamed into corners, into bathrooms, and, all too often, into switching to formula because it's "easier" (it isn't) and, more importantly, because it's less "humiliating." We sexualize nursing, and we shame women for nursing their babies, and we do it because of decades of wickedly effective marketing. We need to grow up.


I dreamed about my Uncle Bob and Aunt Helen Jean last night.  Bob died in 2007, Helen Jean in 2011, I loved them so much for so long, and have had them ruined for me by crappy things two people have said and done.  To the two women, both also nieces, who did so much to try and ruin their memory for me?

I wish you both at least twice what you deserve.

Anyway, I dreamed hubby and I were in a restaurant (Green Gables in New Milford, maybe?  That feels right) when I spotted Helen Jean over by the bar.  She was walking behind the bar, sort of, making her way to a table across the restaurant.  She was carrying a pitcher of beer, and I nudged my husband and said, "That's exactly what Helen Jean would look like if she were a teenager."  And then I realized it WAS Helen Jean as a teenager.  She and Bob weren't dead, they were just YOUNG again.  They looked SO young, so happy, so carefree.  I woke up crying--first, because I was so happy that they were young again, and then because I realized it was only a dream.


Getting the boy ready for camp.  Backpack, tarp, headlamp, waterproof, floating, carabinered flashlight, new shorts, tons of DEET and permethrin, and noseplugs.  I won't bar him from swimming in the warm, stagnant fresh water of the southeast, but I will insist he have on noseplugs so he doesn't wind up with that crap up his nose and in his head.

The above picture?  Sawyer Permethrin.  You DON'T spray this stuff on yourself (or your cats!), but instead on your clothing, shoes, and gear.  Let it dry, and it gives you six weeks/six washings worth of tick repelling.  Mosquitos, too.  And it doesn't just repel--those that DO get on you?


Here in Tickland?  It's a lifesaver.


Just one last thing--a link over to someone else's page because he answered the whole "Bogus Jeff Foxworthy" meme thing so beautifully that I don't feel any need.

I was going to post the meme, but it's so incredibly loooong, I think I'll just post an excerpt and you can go from there:

And here is the brilliant, detailed, and really thoughtful (though biting) address from a guy I really admire over at 

Stonekettle Station

Saturday, July 6, 2013

White Privilege and Pink Unicorns

Yesterday, I got a particularly ugly and stupid anonymous comment on my blog.  Anonymous because--well, because that's how small, stupid people do it.  They take their courage from being unknown.  No need to be polite or thoughtful or reasonable when no one can pin the "duh" on you.  Anyway, one of the gems this dullwit actually sprayed?   

"You hate GOD so much you don't believe in him."

Okay, take a moment to chew on that.  Really roll it around, poke at it.  And then ask yourself, "Do I hate Santa Claus?"  Seriously, ask yourself if you hate the things you don't believe exist.  Do you hate unicorns?  Blue Fairies?  Crumple-horned Snorkacks?  Odin?  Kind hearted, intelligent, humanitarian, critically-thinking Tea Party members?


Just so.  I don't "hate" any deity because I don't see any evidence for the existence of any deity.  I "hate God" like I hate gnomes, dragons, and pink unicorns.  

Hope that clears things up.


Came across this video yesterday.  Yes, I've been aware of the wildly different standards for years, but this really does bring it home in a whole new way.  I know that, when a cop sees me, he sees a fat, middle-aged housewife who might cry if he gives her a ticket.  Were I black?

He'd almost certainly "see" something entirely different, even though, most likely, I'd be the very same thing--a fat, middle-aged housewife who might cry if she gets a ticket.  

Ask yourself this:  is it okay for us to "have" a country where blacks (and likely Hispanics, too) have to teach their children how to avoid being shot by police for no reason other than their race?  I'm already a "perpetual low level of panic" parent.  Can you imagine what a mess I'd be if I knew my son's very skin color could be enough to tip a cop over into deadly force territory?  I'd never let him leave the house.


Had a disappointing (but not surprising) moment yesterday.  A "friend" posted a link from a wowserly "woo" site (Natural News).  Being me, I mentioned the site's unreliability, but said I'd check out the link.  

She deleted my comment, and posted a "P.S." stating that she wouldn't have posted the link if she didn't consider the site "valid."

Okay, we won't even get into the whole "just because an idea captures your fancy doesn't make the BLOG cited as 'evidence' reliable or the information therein accurate" thing.  We won't even lament the educational climate that churns out an advanced degree with no real critical thinking skills to go with it.  No, what I'm looking at here is the lack of respect from this woman.  When I delete a "friend's" comment (something I almost never do), I send a private note letting them know why because that's what you do.  It's called "politeness."  It's about having a care for your friends' feelings.

I met this woman through my husband.  She's part of the "arts" crowd.  When she first met me, she was fascinated, asked all sorts of questions about my ex-husbands, my childhood, etc.  It got to where I couldn't sign onto the computer without her immediately leaping at me with IMs.  I finally had to go stealth during part of the day just so I could get some work done. And then, one day, she asked if I would come to her place so she could interview me for a radio show.  So I could talk about my family, my marriages, etc.

And I refused.  Kindly, but firmly.  I'm not about to go on NPR tearing my ex-husbands apart.  The second because he doesn't deserve it (yeah, he screwed up, he got wonky, but he's not a bad man), and the first because I don't ever want to be on his radar again.  I don't want to broadcast ugly family stories when my family is still alive to be hurt by them.  It's one thing to blog an anecdote, it's another to lay a family bare to a wide audience.  And that?

Was the end of her interest in me.  Her tone went cold, the IMs stopped, and the distance yawned between us.  And that was okay, because, as time passed, I felt more and more that she was, at her core, an incredibly self-absorbed creature who demands a lot of the people around her, requires them to live up to her IDEA of them.  That perception has been confirmed by a few others who know her far better than I.

I did try to improve things.  When she contacted me (three different times!) to repair or alter photographs for her, I did so without complaint, even rushing to meet her deadlines.  I went so far as to buy frames for two of the pictures and gift them to her.  Understand, these pictures were incredibly difficult to work with--we're talking painstaking restoration in two and, in one, colorization. This work took, for all three, hundreds of hours.  That is not an exaggeration.  Cloning, color sampling, tweaking opacity, merging, establishing layers, etc.  The carpal tunnel issues were breathtaking.  I did this, I admit, because I hoped to improve the friendship.  Because I thought that, by doing something kind, something nice, she might forgive me for not making her famous on NPR.

Sadly, it didn't work.  I've never felt she really likes me, have always felt that I'm the PIA wife of the guy she thinks is a whole lot more entertaining and worth her time.  

When I mentioned this to my husband yesterday, he said, "Dude, I've never felt she likes anyone."  We reminisced about dinner-party rudenesses toward people who didn't please her, a general air of dissatisfaction with anyone and anything that wasn't precisely as she desired.

I didn't respond to her deletion of my post or her follow-up post script because we share friends--people I DO like, people who . . . sorry, PERSON who really likes her a LOT.  So I've been sitting on it, trying to decide what to do.  And what I've decided?

I've relegated her to "acquaintances" on my friends list, which means her stupid woo BS doesn't come across my feed and my stuff only shows on hers if I select "friends including acquaintances." I did adjust things so her new photos come across--they're usually harmless, and I can say, "Oooh, pretty."  

Not sure what I'm going to do the next time she asks me to dedicate hours to fix up a photo.  


Our boy got his "wings" today at the RC airfield.  Only three training sessions and he's now approved for solo use of the field.  I guess the flight simulator programs paid off, huh?  He's supremely happy, and I'm happy for him.  Also, his end-of-year test results came back today:  Math and Reading, 99th percentile, Language Mechanics 95th percentile. 

It'll certainly do.

Now here, have something awful:

Oh, and in case you hadn't noticed, once again Blogger has hijacked my formatting, and resists all attempts to fix it.  Getting pretty tired of this.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Weber State Speaks

The above is a link to a story in my formerly-local newspaper this morning about Weber State University's ill-advised, poorly considered decision to, it would appear, can a professor for objecting to the naming of anything educational (and state-funded) after Boyd K. Packer.  A pretty good piece, one that includes statements from a campus spokesman.  Of the things he said, two really stand out.

  • “Weber State does not make a decision like this lightly, and does not back away from the decision once it is made,"
Okay, what does that sound like to me?  It sounds like someone saying, "We are inflexible and supremely uninterested in any feedback or student body/community objections.  We've done all the thinking we plan to do.  So shut up, already."

  • “Weber State stood by that decision because of our respect of a wide spectrum of viewpoints,” (when referring to the creation of a Matthew Shepard scholarship years ago).
Okay, seriously?  This statement is a logical/moral nightmare, and, since I can't imagine Weber State has hired a stupid spokesperson, I can only assume it's intentional.  Comparing the creation of a scholarship in the name of a man beaten and tortured to death for his sexuality with the creation of a program (in the school of education!) named for a man who has routinely (and loudly) condemned homosexuals, interracial marriage, women's rights, academics/scholars (!), and has even spoken against counseling for children, arguing that, by focusing on a child's mental illness, we create or intensify that illness?  

Apples and ANVILS.  There is NO comparison, and shame on Weber State's spokesperson for even going there.  How embarrassing for him.  And for my Alma Mater.

Bottom line, Weber State?  You blew it when you decided to go with this Boyd K. Packer crap, and, worse, you blew it in secret--you didn't put this out there for consideration by the students and faculty at large.  You didn't look for community comment.  No, you made your decision in private, then announced it as immutable, a "done deal."  And then?

Well, gosh, it's kind of looking like you fired an assistant professor for having the balls to dissent.  Because, as we all know, nothing says "haven for learning and inquiry" like refusing to re-up the contract of a professor on tenure-track after he expresses concerns about something as huge as naming a program after a known racist, misogynist, and anti-intellectual.

From a personal standpoint, if this goes national (or international), my degree's going to be the source of much ridicule, I fear.  You know, I skipped my own graduation ceremony because you guys couldn't figure out how to craft a commencement ceremony that didn't look like a church function, and now this?  Maybe we should just drop all pretense and call you "BYU North," huh?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Church, State, and What's the Difference, Anyway?

So, back to the Boyd K. Packer BS on the Weber State University campus.  Here's the deal, in case you missed it.   Well, it turns out the husband (Jared Lisonbee) of the woman (Shairylann Lisonbee, whose parents should be smacked for that spelling) whose letter to the editor first clued me on this freakshow travesty used to be an associate/assistant professor in the very department where this mess is going down.  

Yes, that's an awkward paragraph, but the operative phrase there?  "Used to be."

That's right--he was the only person on staff to raise objections, and now he's out of a job--or will be, once his contract is up.  That's right, Weber chose not to renew, and gave no reason for their decision.  

Now, those Utah-type folks might argue "Oh, it's a coincidence" or "it's got nothing to do with the church or the Packers-decision" or (and most likely, as this is the way this sort of thing so often goes down) "he was let go for unrelated performance issues."  And maybe that's true.  Maybe there's no connection whatsoever.  One thing, though--he was told that he and Weber State just might not be a "good fit."

Hmm.  I've heard those words.  From a staff member teaching in that very building.  I blogged about it HERE months ago.

Here's the scoop on the Lisonbee family and Weber State as it arrived in my email box last night:

On May 6th, Shairylann Lisonbee wrote a letter to the editor, concerning the naming of a family outreach center at Weber State University after LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer. She suggested that this was a bad idea, since the center was at a public university, and was intended to serve a diverse set of families in the community. The name was problematic because Brother Packer has forcefully spoken out against interracial and homosexual families in the past. It is possible to respect Boyd K. Packer as a person, and as a religious leader, without believing that it is a good idea to put his name on a family outreach center at a public university, given his past statements and views that oppose the loving families of so many.

Inspired by her letter, I wrote my first petition about this issue, borrowing many of her thoughts on the matter. The petition currently has 2,316 signatures.

Shairylann's husband is on the faculty at Weber State University in the College of Education where the Packer Center is housed. When the name of the center was first announced, Jared Lisonbee suggested that naming the center after Brother Packer would alienate many of the very families that the center was intended to serve. He was the only member of the faculty at the meeting to express such obvious concerns.

It has recently come to my attention that Jared has now been removed from his position at the University, and all indications are that his removal was a result of his opposition to the naming of the family center, and of his wife's letter to the editor, and the resulting petition. I believe that this is a morally reprehensible action. If dissenting voices cannot even be heard at a public university, for fear of retaliation that might cost the person their job, then how can an open and free dialogue on the issues be maintained? I believe that this is a severe miscarriage of justice, and, if things are as they strongly appear, this is an apparent attempt by an individual to impose their vision of a harmful and hurtful religious orthodoxy on others at what is supposed to be a public university.

With permission, I would like to quote the letter Shairylann wrote with her initial reaction to the firing of her husband:

"I'm in shock. My husband just lost his job over the naming of the Boyd K. Packer center at Weber State University. He is an assistant professor at Weber in the College of Education - the college responsible for the Packer center. Last year in the faculty meeting where the name for the family center was announced, he was THE ONLY person who protested the naming, mentioning that Packer was not viewed as friendly toward gays, academicians, feminists, and interracial couples. Since then, his department chair became increasingly hostile, making off-handed comments toward him like "You know, Weber State is not a good fit for everyone." On May 6th I wrote my letter to the editor that was published, criticizing naming the Weber's family center after Boyd K. Packer. I shouldn't have. Yesterday, out of the blue, my husband received a letter telling him that his contract would not be renewed, giving no reasons for the decision. It is so obviously related to our opposition to the naming of the Packer Center, but I doubt we could ever prove it. He is going to talk to people today about making a possible case for religious discrimination, but I'm sure we our going to be jobless in the end, and he will have an ugly professional strike against him. I hate that there is no real protection from the church in this state."

Obviously I am very unhappy with what has happened here, and I also feel somewhat responsible, because I am the one that took her original letter to the editor, and turned it into a petition, that eventually ended up in the news, and that produced some bad press for Weber State, a result that may have partially motivated these reprehensible actions. Nevertheless, I feel like we have done the right thing here, despite the price that some have been forced to pay for speaking up.

I would encourage everyone here to again take up the petition, and pass it around among all of your friends and family. Letting the faculty and administrators at Weber State know that there really are a large number of people who oppose their actions and decisions on this matter.

Please pass this on to those that you know, and spread the word.

Thank you,

James L. Carroll

What can I say?  I'm not proud of my Alma Mater right now.  Canning someone for expressing a dissenting view?  That might fit in with the Boyd K. Packer world view, but that's utterly unacceptable for a PUBLICLY FUNDED institution of higher learning in the United States.  If that's what happened, if Mr. Lisonbee was left jobless because he and his wife disagreed with a highly questionable decision, then, my old school shames itself, and shames the rest of us by association.  Come on, be a state university--Utah already has a BYU.


Speaking of the above disaster, I have friends who work for Weber State University.  They are being vocal and amazingly brave (let's face it, it's scary speaking out against an organization that, allegedly, fired someone for speaking out), and I'm very proud of them.  


Speaking of the Mormon Church and the endless twisting and melding of church and state in Utah, this meme/picture came sliding across my Facebook wall today:

A beautiful picture, no question about it.  It's gone viral, no telling who took it or when.  And if it doesn't strike terror in your heart, I don't know what will.  This came scudding through with a quote from that atrocious Lee Greenwood song--you know, "Proud to Be an American?"  The picture-perfect melding of church and state here--the clear implication that church IS state.  The sick forwarding of the idea that to be patriotic is to be religious and vice versa.  This picture, in all its technical and compositional beauty, is a nightmare.

Note some of the comments.  Especially the last one which, I can only hope, is satire. Other than "sobering," the rest of these comments strike me as something straight out of an SNL skit.  

Hooah, indeed.


And, since I have you right there on religion, let's talk about parents who use religion as a bludgeon to guilt, condemn, and terrorize a gay child, all under the guise of loving support and . . . garbage.  Here, read this:

My 15 year old said he doesn't pity this woman, but I do.  I pity her the same way I pity anyone who does awful, stupid things and later comes to regret them, but not in time to stave off tragedy.  But the sad reality is that this boy had every ounce of self-love, self-confidence, joy, self-acceptance, and surety of love bludgeoned out of him by Bible-wielding parents.  Reason 5,678 why mythology sucks.


And now, speaking of crappy things parents do to their kids?  If you name your child "Whiskey Chance," (that's first and middle), don't be surprised when he winds up in jail.  Seriously, are you stupid?  How did you THINK that was going to turn out?


And that's it for today.  Here, have something visually stimulating:

Oh, and I apologize for the crappy formatting here today.  Sometimes Blogger just decides to go with its gut feelings and disregard any pesky alignment decisions I make.  Can't wait to see what it's done with the font.