Saturday, March 29, 2014

Edwin Kagin

So, Edwin Kagin died day before yesterday.  I just found out last night.  If you're like most folks, you're probably asking "Who?"

Well, that's what I'm here to tell you.

Edwin Kagin was the South Carolina-born son of a Kentucky Presbyterian minister.  He was a man who earned his Juris Doctorate and spent his life fighting for the rights of others.

He was a man who did the near-impossible in shaking off deeply religious roots and becoming an atheist.  An outspoken, brave, sometimes brash atheist who devoted himself to the idea of creating a safe society for atheists.  A place where we can be open without fear of reprisal. Where our public schools and public offices are not machines of religious indoctrination.

Now, I didn't  know Edwin in a "face-to-face" sort of way.  No, we never met.  But he and his wonderful late wife, Helen (a physician and force to be reckoned with in her own right) founded Camp Quest.  Camp Quest, which opened up the world for my son.

This is turning into a tribute, and I didn't actually intend for that to happen.  No, I'm writing because I'm angry.  I'm angry at the Wills and the Monicas of the world.  The small, mean people of this planet who would invade a Facebook group just for the purpose of crowing victoriously or spouting biblical passages on a page frequented by Edwin's children and friends.

Oh, yes.  This isn't something new to me--my first foray into atheist online forums was in 1995, AOL.  We had an atheist "support" forum, and the Christians would invade constantly, some stupidly preaching, but most attacking.  Because, of course, you can't have ANY pocket ANYWHERE of ANYONE who doesn't share your mythology.  Oh, no!  You've got to ROOT OUT those dirty atheists wherever you find them.  Even on private forums where you have to LIE about who you are to join.

Because, as we all know, LYING is one of those touted virtues.  Right?

Anyway, so here are some samples of that vaunted Christian love we're always hearing so much about:

The above is classic.  Typical example of someone who can't tell the difference between a pointy stick and a bible.  And why can't she tell?  Because she uses them both in the same way.

This guy posted twice, because crashing an atheist Facebook group and joyfully crowing that someone is burning in hell is SO much fun that it needs to be done repeatedly.  Says so in the scriptures, I'm betting.

Will #2--in case we missed it the first time

Another oldie but goodie--a variation on the "bet he's sorry now" theme.  Not particularly inspired, but also didn't likely burn up too many of those endangered brain cells, either.

These two came as a set.  The first blatantly mean, the second more sneakily so.  See, there's a smugness to number two that, as a non-believer, you come to recognize .  It's a passive-aggressive "whaaat?  I was just being nice!" thing.  I get it from family pretty frequently.

Oh, and speaking of passive aggressive, here's another one of those cowardly fakes:

No, Tom.  That's not what you're doing.

Now, you might be wondering why I've blocked out the  names.  Believe me, I don't want to.  I figure that, if you're okay with spraying your idiotic bile on a Facebook page, you MEANT for the world to see it, and if you said it, you must be PROUD of it.  But fact is there are petty, stupid people who do things like this, and then SUE when someone reposts their nastiness in a way that clearly identifies them.  So I obscured the names.  Not to protect the innocent, but to protect MYSELF, because these buckets o' barf are anything but innocent.

As a special ironic treat, I'd like to share a meme from Mr. Will's Facebook profile page.  

Indeed, Will.  Exactly that.


Friday, March 28, 2014

One More Time for the Kids in the Back of the Class

This is exhausting.  And it's always the same people over and over.  So let's do it again, shall we?

Samsung is NOT giving away BRAND-SPANKIN'-NEW Galaxy S4s.  Not today, not yesterday, not next month.  Not on Facebook, not anywhere.  Not because they were "unsealed," not because of any other thing.

Samsung is not a charity.  They do not give away Galaxy S4s.  Even if the items WERE unsealed, they'd still sell them.


It's a "like-farming" scam, and these people make money off your sharing their spam.

This picture was taken from the like-farming scam that skidded across my Facebook feed this morning.
And while we're on the subject, BMW isn't giving away free cars on Facebook, either.

Contrary to the Facebook Scam's claim, this is not a "BMW Marketing Manager" looking to hand you a spiffy new BMW.  The image was actually taken from BMW India's site and used as part of the scam.
Nor is Ford giving away free Mustangs.   Or Chevy free Camaros.  Or Primark Vouchers for surveys.  Or anything free for Facebook surveys.  Or for Facebook shares.  Or for Facebook likes. Sure, Lucy's Heavenly Bites might be giving away coupons for a half-dozen amazing cupcakes (and they ARE amazing) for a page like, but BMW isn't handing over shiny new cars.  Don't be stupid.  If it's big and fancy and expensive, it's not likely to be handed to you on Facebook.

The number of people who respond to being told these are scams with "well, no harm in trying" is horrifying.  No harm in trying?

You clog up walls, you eat up bandwidth, you waste time and make a fool of yourself in order to make scammers rich and "no harm?"

I get wishful thinking.  I do; you think I haven't bought a lottery ticket now and then?  But my occasional forays into the realm of fantasy don't hassle other people or make criminals rich.  And we know that, every once in a great while, someone DOES win the lotto.

Nobody ever wins a free Galaxy S4 on Facebook through scam like-farming and bogus surveys.

Here endeth the lesson.

An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just a Shortie

I was thinking about someone today.  An authority figure from way back when.  She was great, had a real way with kids.  While I knew her pretty well, I pulled back rather than becoming truly close, because--well, because my sister fancied herself close, and every time I mentioned the woman's  name, I got a whole bucket-load of "I know her better than you do/I was more important to her than you are."  At the time, I was just a kid and still let that crap affect my choices.

Anyway, this woman was gay.  Absolutely, not a doubt about it.  At 17, my "gaydar" was finely tuned, and she set all the bells and klaxons to sounding.  Sadly, she'd grown up in Utah, and was firmly in the clutches of the predominant faith.  And so she was single for most of her life, though there was one sad, very short, failed marriage punctuating her middle age.

And then there was that period of time she broke free.

For a couple of years, she threw caution to the wind and moved a few hundred miles away with a GIRLFRIEND.

I was so happy for her!  I never said anything, of course, because she denied.  She insisted that the woman just a "friend."  But my crazy, late friend/ex-roommate lived with these women for half a year, and they were absolutely lovers.

I imagined a long, happy life for these women.  I imagined that finally, joyously, my old friend would have the existence she deserved--one where she got to be who she was, and got to be with the person she loved.

And then it ended.  I don't know how or why, all I know is that she's now a much loved aunt and friend and mentor who is . . . alone.  For decades, alone.  She's in her mid-sixties now, and she is firmly under the foot of that faith that, to be absolutely blunt, robbed her of her life.

Anyway, this isn't meant as a condemnation of the Mormon Church (though I'll gladly offer those up upon request, along with any other joy-sapping, cash-slurping, paternalistic ideological sinkhole mythology-house you wanna discuss), but rather a lament.  60+ years old, and never really free to be.  Does she regret it?  Is she angry?  Resentful?  Or worse, is she just completely cowed and doesn't realize that she could have shaken off the mythology and been happy at any time she dared?

Being who she is and and seeing how she was reared, could she have dared?

She was always a terrifically kind and concerned woman who made a career of doing what she could to help kids.  She deserved better.

So when you see another state fall to the "scourge" of marriage equality, think of her.  Think of what her life could have been, had she grown up in a culture that embraced and nourished rather than stomped down and constrained.  When you see another child being bullied by kids looking to enforce their parents' faith and cultural norms, remember her.  And imagine, like I always have, just how different, how wonderful, how kind and beautiful her existence could have been, had she not been trapped in a society full of bullies who, like grit in a tumbler, make it their life's work to grind away the edges and curves that make us who we are meant to be.

An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sometimes No Answer is No Answer at All (or Watch and Wait THIS)

Well, the dentist appointments.  I know, you've been waiting.

In a nutshell?  My appointment yielded no answers.  No bad news, but really no news at all.  They say there's nothing wrong with the punky bicuspid on the right.  They say the x-rays show nothing wrong with the (never-was-necessary) root canal on the left.  And yet both are clearly having issues.  Or, actually, the root canal (that never was necessary) is fine--it's the jaw above it, and it's the same now as it was in November.  No better, no worse.  And they can't explain what its problem is, but I'm assuming their "watch and wait" approach is actually more an "oops, her insurance only covers one root canal/retreatment per tooth, per year" sort of thing.

Do I sound jaded?

On the down side, that pocket I've complained about?  You know, the one I never had until they put the crown on that cracked molar last July?  The one I went back in for TWICE, and again mentioned in November?

It's a six.  You know, the depth?  Ones and twos are happy?  It's a six.  I floss, I brush, I rinse, yet there it is.  They tried to tell me (get this) that the pocket long predates the crown, that it's clearly visible on prior x-rays.

Really?  Because you folks sang the praises of my beautiful gums, even as recently as June.  "All ones and twos," you told me.  But now it's a "long standing" thing that's due to my hygiene rather than your dentistry?


I did, just recently, snap up a Water Pik Ultra Waterflosser, and I'm hoping to see improvement. It's got a gaggle of attachments, is easy (though a bit wet) to use, and it certainly does seem to clean that space out.  I grabbed it because of my dad's long history with the product.  Yes, he's about to get dentures, which doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation, but know this--he's almost EIGHTY, and he was a smoker for over 65 years.  Smoking is hell on your gums and teeth, but he's been using a Water Pik since I was a small child, and the result has been him hanging onto those teeth until nearly his 9th decade.

That's a heck of an endorsement, I think.

Speaking of my dad, he's still hospitalized.  Yes, that's going on four months.  He's got an aneurysm with which they've adopted a "watch and wait" approach.  His "ICU Psychosis" seems to be improving, though I still haven't spoken to him.  He said he didn't want to talk to me until he had his mental act better pulled together.  So I talk to his wife pretty frequently, keep track.  He's made great improvements, they closed up the tracheostomy hole, and he's moving about pretty well, though sometimes with a walker.  My step-mom seems to think he'll be home by the end of this month, but I've learned to be wary of her optimism.  She thought he'd be home for New Year's, too.  I'm not dissing her--I think it's great that she's feeling so positive, and I want to encourage that.  But I'm going to sit back and see.


Back to the dentist and "watch and wait" (seems to be a running theme), my son's appointment went well.  No cavities, which wasn't even vaguely a concern.  No, that's not ego or pride, that's this:  he has two unidentified masses in his right mandible, one of which had grown last year, the other which had APPEARED out of nowhere.  See, we've been "watching and waiting" on his jaw for going on three years now.  With that in the offing, who gives two spits about cavities?  At this point, the masses have not grown or changed in the past year.  No new ones cropping up, either.

So I can breathe.  For a few months.  Maybe six.  And then the panic will start again, slowly inclining in pitch until next March's x-rays.


We've had great snow this year--much better than the previous two winters.  It's been great, having snow days and beautiful scenes.  No "cardinals in the snow" postcard shots, but a fun video of Charlie, our Cairn, getting a bit hung up.

No need to worry--his subsequent forays were better, once we stomped out a trail for him.  And now?  He rings the bell frantically to be let out just so he can snuffle through the snow.


And that's about it.  I did notice today while on Amazon that they have a "free 30 day Amazon Prime" thing going on.   We've been Amazon Prime customers for a few years, because it really does save us a lot in shipping AND gets our Prime-eligible orders to us faster.  Plus, it's a  lot like Netflix and Hulu in that there are tons of freebie shows and the like.  If you've never tried it (or if you've got a lot of stuff to order and want to take advantage of the free shipping), go give it a try!  

Oh, here's the Amazon Prime link, which might be helpful.  And no, I don't get paid for your purchasing a membership.  No bounty for your annual subscription.  I do, however, get a little something if you just do the free 30 day.  Personally, I think you'll like it enough to subscribe, but I don't make money if you do.
An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring is in the Air

And the time has come, once again, to start killing children on ATVs.  No other reason to put a five year old in control of a motorized vehicle, right?

Or allow FIVE 13-14 year olds on ONE adult machine?  With no HELMETS, even?

ATVs are GROWN UP toys, and the number of adults who think it's A-Okay to put children on them is terrifying.  Worse is the number of adults who think that riding tandem on a single ATV with a child on their lap or clinging to their back is somehow SAFER.

It's not.

I know, I know.  I can hear the chorus of "but my folks let me and I was just fine!"

Disengage outrage and engage brain, wouldja?  My folks didn't have us in car seats, and we're just fine.  My neighbors used to pile a dozen children in the back of the pick-up truck and go zipping down the highway at 65 mph, and at least most of those kids are still alive.  My whole high school crowd drank like fish and ate drugs like it was the 70s, and we're . . . well, and I'M fine.  Just because you survive something doesn't mean it was a good/safe/intelligent thing to do, it just means you lucked out.  A number of children each year aren't as lucky as you were.

My first experience with ATVs and kids came when I was in my early 20s.  My crazy ex-roommate was working at a local hospital as a nurse's aide.  One of her patients?

A boy, six years old, who had (sans helmet) ridden an ATV right off a cliff.  Because, when push came to shove, he couldn't figure out fast enough how to make it stop.  That boy had a broken neck, massive head injuries, and various bits of internal damage from where the vehicle LANDED on him after he landed head first on the rocks.

Understand, this child's life ended that day.  There was zero potential for meaningful recovery here.

His mother would come in every day to sit with him, talk to him, read to him.  One day, my friend was in the room caring for him when the mother arrived.  She was excited to tell him the news (though he was permanently unconscious), share the surprise.  And the surprise was?

They'd bought him a NEW ATV.  She excitedly gabbled on about how, just as soon as he came home, they were going to go RIDING!

My friend lost it.  Asked the woman if she'd lost her damned mind.  The boy was devastatingly, permanently injured,  maimed, crippled, and she was talking about putting him back on the beast that tore him to bits?  Was she stupid?  Didn't kill him enough the first time?

Yes, my friend lost more than her temper--she lost her job.  Probably rightfully so, too.  But I can't help but agree with her.

Close your eyes.  Imagine your eight year old zipping along on an adult ATV.  Now imagine him taking a bump too fast.  Imagine him going ass over teakettle.  Now picture that ATV coming down on top of him.

What, too graphic?  Not nearly as graphic as the real thing, I promise you.

Here's another:  imagine you're zipping along on an adult ATV, your four year old perched on your lap and "safely" held in the circle of your arm.  Your ATV tips, flips, or otherwise catches air or goes over, and all 180 lbs of YOU comes crashing down atop your four year old.  Yes, that's the danger.  And don't say "I'd never crush him, I'd be careful!"

In an accident, you can't be careful.  You've flown before you even know what's happening.  Unless you've mastered independent flight, you cannot keep yourself from landing atop that child.  It's one of the main reasons why you don't ride tandem on single ATVs and you don't carry a child in your lap--because, in an accident, your bulk becomes a danger to the child or passenger.

Plus, that passenger/child is a danger to YOU.  You need to be able to freely move, to shift your weight and have full control of the steering.  With a child on your lap or a passenger at your back, you don't have the control you need to safely operate the vehicle.  You KNOW it's true, because you can't control your passenger's movements or actions.  You can't control whether and when they shift their weight or position.  And them shifting (or failing to) can be the difference between upright and cartwheeling.

I get that ATVs are fun.  But they're not KID fun.  With a death toll of around 700 a year (and another 130,000 or so in the ER each year), they're hardly benign toys.  If you feel you MUST put a child on an ATV, do it right:

ATV Safety Guidelines

Now, I'm going to say it because I think it needs to be said.  If you read all this, rolled your eyes, said something stupid about "nanny states" or "paranoia" or "taking the fun out of everything" and then your kid is hurt or killed on an ATV?

It's your fault.  It is YOU.  Entirely.  Not the manufacturer (though their motives and actions are pretty shady sometimes), not the government, not the owner of the property your kid was riding on, not anyone or anything else.  Totally, completely YOUR fault.

I hope you never have to own it.
An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It's Coming

Fifteen days until the dentist appointments, and the panic is building.  In mine, I get to explain that the root canal they said I needed to fix the symptoms I was having did nothing to alleviate those symptoms.  In fact, it's all just like it was, except I let them kill a tooth and rob me 600 bucks.  Looking back, I realize just how STUPID I was.  When the dentist held the swab with the "make cold" chemical to test if the teeth were viable, he held it against RESIN on that tooth. RESIN!  The whole front of that bicuspid was resin.  So of COURSE he didn't get a normal response.


Plus, a bicuspid on the right side has gone over on me--it started out so oddly.  I have no molars on that side (bottom ones never erupted, top ones had to be pulled because they kept sinking until they were gouging into the lower gum), so I normally don't chew over there.  But for the almost FOUR weeks it took for them to complete the worthless root canal on the other side, I was forced to chew with that bicuspid.  Clearly, I damaged it.  I was eating a Healthy Choice popsicle one night, and after I'd finished, the tooth started to feel really weird.  There was a freaky, squirming/twitching sensation in the jaw/roots, and then a strange popping/crunching feel.  Next day?

Vicious cold sensitivity, like I've never encountered before in my life.  Plus, the tooth feels unstable.  Like it cracked internally or something.

No doubt they're going to say root canal or crown.  And I'm going to say "Bugger off--pull it if it's no good."  Because no way I've got 600 bucks, and no way I'm going through another root canal for a tooth that is neither functionally nor cosmetically important.

But that's not where the fear comes from.  No, the fear comes from my boy's same-day appointment.  That he's been complaining of cold sensitivity and pain isn't the issue.  No, the issue is those damned spots on his x-rays.  You know, the "first there was one, a year later there were two, now there are three, yes they're growing, no, we're STILL going to just watch and wait" spots?  The "Oh, hell, does my boy have bone cancer" spots?

And, of course, even NON-cancerous jaw tumors can be aggressive and disastrous.

So I'm panicking.  The unerupted canine doesn't help--because the deciduous tooth is smaller than an adult tooth, he's got a gap opening up there, and he's completely focused on it.

And we're completely unable to afford orthodontia.  Not this year, not next year.  Who knows when?  In the mean time, the adult tooth is hanging out in the roof of his mouth and he's obsessing.
So I'm panicked.  It's exhausting.


I've dropped a few reviews over at a new site,  Here's the link to my new review--please read it, and if you like it, share it:


And that's about all for today.  Well, not ALL--I want you to see a video I came across last night.  It perfectly illustrated why I could never be a pet rescue person.  I have ALL the respect and admiration for them, but I totally lack the emotional fortitude:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spring is Just Around the Corner

Get it?  Get it?

Yeah, spring is just around the corner and it's been a long time since I've felt this hopeless.  Troubles with the magic boy, my dad's still (STILL) hospitalized (though he's in a rehab facility now), his wife may  have stomach cancer, and that damnable lump in my arm is still there and almost certainly growing.

Oh, and a tax lien.

Yeah, we've been on a payment plan with the state tax folks for a couple of years.  We have it paid down to less than three hundred.  Then, out of the blue, we get a letter last week telling us they've filed a lien.  Any idea what a tax lien does to a credit score?   It's devastating.  That's not going to peel off that credit report until I'm almost SIXTY.

House?  New car?  Probably not in my lifetime.

Plus, my mom's A1c has jumped from 5.7 to 9.9 in six months.  And suddenly her circulation is shot.  Add that to the macular degeneration.



A friend's son is expecting his first, and I'm wondering how on earth to broach the subject of genital mutilation.  Yeah, this is my blog, I don't have to pull punches and call it something pretty and sterile like "circumcision."  There are so many reasons NOT to take sharp objects to a child's genitals.  The rest of the world is solidly in the "that's barbaric" camp.  Scandinavian countries are banning the practice.  It's not routinely done in Canada, England, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, etc.  It's an incredibly cruel thing to do.  Is it a "personal choice?"  You bet--so personal that it should be left to the owner of the genitals.  The foreskin is attached at birth much like a fingernail is attached to the finger--that's fixed connective tissue in infancy.  Which is why they have to take a metal prod and TEAR the skin away from the shaft and glans before slashing and crushing.  In adulthood, that skin is no longer adhered, which is why it's such a minor thing in adulthood.  Of course, men who have it done in adulthood overwhelmingly regret it.  Why?

Because 85% of the sensitivity comes from that foreskin.  Remove it, and you're left with a small band of sensitive tissue around the glans.  Men who are circumcised are left with almost no normal sensitivity.  Circumcision is the cause of most sexual dysfunction in men, from premature ejaculation to erectile problems.  

I know, someone's bound to cry "urinary tract infections!"  You know who gets more UTIs than intact boys?  Little GIRLS.  But (thankfully) I don't see anyone proposing taking a sharp object to their genitals.  

Another "medical" argument?  The cancer/HIV argument.  Which utterly falls apart upon examination.  Cancer?  Penile cancer is incredibly RARE--that's like removing the brain to prevent glioblastoma or amputating a newborn's breast buds to prevent breast cancer (which is far more common).  And cervical cancer in partners?  That's not the foreskin, that's HPV.  Use condoms, get your girls vaccinated (and your boys, too).  There you go, problem solved.  And the HIV defense?

Falls apart when you look at the research, which was all done in sub-Saharan Africa with groups also instructed to use condoms.  If circumcision prevented (or markedly reduced) transmission of HIV, the U.S. wouldn't be where it is today.  

Another common "justification"?  "He'll be laughed at in the locker room!"  Okay, a few things:

1) Any boy who points and laughs at another boy's penis is setting himself up for disaster.

2) If kids are looking to bully, they'll find any reason, from acne to glasses, braces to height.

3) Cut boys are now the minority in many parts of the country.  In the western US?  Fewer than 35% of newborn boys are circumcised.  So there's not going to be much laughing, because he's not going to be different.

And most importantly?

4) We don't carve up our kids to make people accept them.  That's just totally wrong.

And finally, I want to address the scary "so he'll look like his daddy" argument.

What?  What?  People are different.  People don't look the same.  Would you have your infant's nose carved to resemble yours?  How about ears?  

Some parents circumcise because they've already cut one child and, even though they now realize it's an awful thing, they want their boys to be "the same" or don't want to have to explain to their older, cut child why he's different.  Know that there are tens of thousands of parents who made the mistake with their older child, then learned more and chose not to alter their subsequent sons. There's no shame in saying "we didn't know."  When you know better, you do better.  

Circumcision is agonizing.  It is traumatizing.  It permanently alters the victim's pain response.  It is often the cause of unsuccessful breastfeeding.  It creates a raw, bloody wound left in a diaper with feces and urine.  It has the potential to do devastating harm through infection and necrosis.  And it makes a baby's introduction into this world terrible.  Pain and fear are not the things I wanted my son to feel as a newborn.  I wanted him to feel safe and warm.  I wanted him to look at me with trust.

More boys die in the U.S. each year from circumcision than from any recalled crib, carseat, blind cord, or toy, yet those are recalled and production halted immediately.

Our boys are perfect when they're born.  Even if circumcision WAS beneficial, those benefits could be conferred on men when they're old enough to decide for themselves.  

If you're expecting or you know someone who is, please introduce them to the Saving Our Sons.  It's a gentle start, with good information.  If all else fails?  WATCH AN INFANT CIRCUMCISION.  Because there are people who will say "it doesn't really hurt" or "he's just crying because he's restrained" or "Babies don't feel pain."  If you're going to choose to do this to your child, make this surgical alteration that will cause life-long changes, then at least make sure you KNOW what you're doing.  Don't soothe yourself with lies.  

And I guess that's all for today.  I'm writing at a new  It's brand-new, and I'm hoping it will take off.  Still very sad about Epinions, though.  I wrote for them for 14 years.  That's a lot of time, and now it's gone.