Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nummers and Nonnies and a Blessed Reprieve

So, went in for the annual mammogram yesterday; they tried to shove me into the 3-D tomography/fancy beshmagel-stuff, saying they were "including it as a courtesy."  But then they said, "As such, we won't be billing your insurance, and there is a forty dollar charge associated with . . ."

That's as far as they got.  It's not really a "courtesy" if they want forty bucks on the spot for it, is it?  It was so obviously a sales pitch, it was sort of disappointing.  I expect sales pitches in my dermatologist's office, but at a radiology center?  Ew.

I had actually been reading about the 3-D mammograms just recently.  About a 7% improvement in detection rates (less with invasive ductal, more with some other types), with increased radiation exposure.  After undergoing three CT scans (including two 64 slice cardiac scans) in the past four years, I'm trying to limit my exposure here.  Plus (and more to the point), we don't have the money.  We dropped the cash for hubby's birthday dinner (well, we dropped the credit card), and that's it.  I'm not throwing 40 dollars at a fancy 3-D mammogram that delivers more radiation.  If I had a family history, if I had a history of breast problems, if I weren't so damnably broke?  I might feel differently.  Maybe next year.


Speaking of hubby's birthday dinner, it was quite tasty.  The cheesecake was a little eh (not bad, just average), and the waitress did forget that it was hubby's birthday, but her service was otherwise spectacular, and the place is one of the busiest restaurants in the country, so I'll give her a pass there.  She was lovely, a little sassy/edgy, smart, funny, on-the-ball, and all-around terrific.  The steak was better-than-average (though I have had better), the asparagus with the creamy  mustard sauce was probably the best asparagus I've ever had, but keep in mind I don't like asparagus.  So it was probably not very asparagus-like.  Our boy's chicken, bacon, and muenster sandwich was a hit (so now we know he likes muenster, too), as were the fries.  The clam chowder was fantastic, the cheese sampler plate was . . . overpriced (not bad, just not that good).  Our boy's chicken wings were amazing--only a little heat, but very flavorful.  Hubby's chocolate cake with raspberry sauce was quite good, as was our boy's cappuccino ice cream brownie, though it was too coffee-y for me. 

Where did we go?  Oh, yeah--duh!  We went here:

Overall, a nice place.  A little too crowded, a little too loud (though the noise levels dropped appreciably after ten pm, which was nice), but fantastic staff, great decor if you're into the polished mahogany and rich fabrics of the Hemmingway-esque/Great White Hunter thing (which I am), and an all-around classy feel.  No dress code to speak of, which is great, and there were folks there in everything from hoodies and shorts to thousand dollar suits.  Most folks somewhere in-between.  

Overall?  I recommend the place.  I expect someday, when we've got ourself in a better place, money-wise, we'll go again.

And again.


My husband's poor niece is coming to visit for a few days.  She sold her car and flew out to NYC because she had a job offer to work on the new Spiderman flick, "The Amazing Spiderman 2."  Understand, she flew 2000+ miles for this, went on furlough status at work, and has blown her savings.  Hey, it's not the first movie she's worked on, and this is the direction she wants to go.  I'm proud of her for taking the chance.

Sadly, she got to NYC and the ass who'd offered her the job reneged.  She's spent weeks there, calling him every day, trying to get word on when she should report to set, but he doesn't return her calls.  She called the guy who lined her up with him, and he said, "Oh, he does that sort of thing a lot, I suggest you just come home."

Holy cow, are you SERIOUS?   You sent her 2000+ miles on a job you knew would probably fall through?

She's feeling seriously demoralized, and I'm worried she's just going to give up on the whole "working in movies" thing.  We've advised her to join IATSE, because, as the go-between said, "If you were union, you'd have some recourse."

Poor kid.  She was SO psyched.  Now it's just a bitter lesson, one I hope she puts to good use instead of letting it defeat her.


Oh, goodness.  Speaking of the mammogram, I was told yesterday that the hospital hadn't forwarded my radiology records from last year.  I was told, by some radtech (I think they call them something fancier these days), that my records weren't there, and that I would have to pick them up in person from the old place.  I said, "No, actually I had to fill out a request for records and fax that to them, along with this place's information and fax number."  She insisted that's "not how it's done."  Hmmm.  Okay, but I'm looking at the form I faxed right now, and it turns out that's exactly how it's done.  Catch up, babe, it's the 21st Century.

Anyway, bottom line, she says they don't have my records and they require them. So I call the old place this morning and ask if my records were forwarded to the new folks.  They were VERY on the ball, and found me immediately.  And yeah, they did send the records--faxed them out the day I faxed them, and received a confirmation of receipt from the new place.  

I called the new place afterwards, and they COULD FIND NO RECORD OF ME.  At all.  Nothing.  Woman put me on hold over and over, and kept popping back on to ask, once again, what my last name was or what my phone number was.  She asked, "Are you sure you had a mammogram yesterday?"  

Yeah, darlin'.  I'm sure.  12 noon, there I was, near-crying because you people were torturing me.  So, yes, I'm quite sure.

She finally (after about 30 minutes), came on and triumphantly declared that I, in fact, HAD been there yesterday for a mammogram.  Like it had been in question, you know?  But she once again stated that they never received my mammography records from the old place.  She said she'd make a note for her manager to call me.  

And then I got rude.  I said, "Oh, hon, no--I'm just calling to let you know that this isn't my problem anymore, it's yours. I was asked to request my records, and I did. I had them faxed to YOU, and you confirmed their receipt. You lost them. According to the folks who sent them, it's now YOUR problem--you need to track down the records or you need to call PWH and re-request them. I am now out of the equation. You have a good day."

Sometimes I just ain't got the patience.  You see, I'm of a mind that it was never my job to get my own records in the first place.  I am increasingly tired of businesses forcing their customers to do leg work that used to be part of the service.  When I was dealing with the whole "mass" thing last year?  I had to schedule my bloodwork, I had to schedule my MRI, my ultrasounds, my exams, and even my appointments with the urologist/surgeon.  Hell, the only thing I DIDN'T have to do myself was the actual surgery.  MY "Primary Care Physician" did NOTHING.  Well, except stick a couple fingers up and declare that there WAS no mass.  Otherwise, she had NO involvement, even though our insurance describes her as "vital" to my health care, as the "coordinator" of all my health care needs.  She's put forth as my "advocate in healthcare."  Wow, what a bunch of twaddle that is!  Used to be, the doctor's staff did all those scheduling things for you instead of leaving you to look up the numbers and make the calls yourself.  It was part of the professional service.  Part of why they're so danged expensive.  Seems the expense has stayed, but the service has dropped off precipitously.  


The IRS thing seems to have resolved without too much pain.  Turns out the "bucking down to single with zero" is a default thing--we were able to get it shifted about.  In fact, they said we're entitled to married with six, but we settled on married with three.  That way, we'll owe almost nothing come the end of December, and can easily make the taxes in April.  And then we're set, we're good to go.  It's still going to be a hit, but not the devastating blow we were fearing.  Whew.


One last thing?  You know the obits I scrounge up for old classmates from my high school?  Well, I found one last night, not an obit, really--more a memorial site for a certain class group.  Problem was, the guy being memorialized? 

Isn't dead. 

I know this because I know him on Facebook.  And yes, it is him.  He has a distinctive name and has his class year listed on his profile page.  The odds of there being two with the same unusual name in the same grade at the same school?  Who look the same?

Yeah.  Yeah, they Abe Vigoda-ed the poor guy. I dropped them a note, let them know he's still with us.

As is Abe.  Bless his heart.


Oh, one last last thing?  I was searching for lost classmates for the reunion when I stumbled across Deborah.  I won't post her last name because that would be bad form, but wow, Deb.  She grew up RICH.  I mean RICH.  Holy COW!  Married a famous surgeon, and she's gorgeous.  47 years old, looks 30 (no, he's not a cosmetic surgeon), and is at all the black tie affairs.  She looks like she's straight out of Devil's Advocate (in a good way, not all lumpy and demonic, of course).  Good on ya, Debbie!  Seriously, I am practically giddy at her success!  How wonderful!


And finally, here's a place that doesn't look anything like Debbie's digs!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crushed by Uncle Sam

So, have you ever gotten a letter from, say, the IRS, and had it contain GOOD news?  You know, like, "Oh, gosh, we were just looking around and found this spare three grand laying about--enjoy!"  No?

Here, either.

We've been on a payment plan with the IRS, and we've been working to, pay period by pay period, up our withholding until we're projected to catch up by the end of the year, i.e., we'll be breaking even by December if we work our way down to Married with one.  It's a careful process because we're trying to get bills moved and things paid off so we don't suddenly get nailed with a huge chunk disappearing from the checks all at once.

Well, the IRS decided to do the job for us in one fell (or foul, as they say in Utah) swoop.  That's right, they knocked us down to SINGLE WITH ZERO EXEMPTIONS.

In a nutshell?  That's an extra six hundred a month or so.  It will sink us.

Our plan works because it takes into account hubby's step increase, due to hit in August.  That extra cash every month would go straight toward this year's tax obligation, which would break us even by the end of December.  And then we could set to married with three and have our taxes turn out just right next year.

If the IRS will work with us.  It's not like we owe a staggering amount--less, in fact, than the mythic ten grand everyone talks about.  But you know, we sure could use a break.  I know it's in our nature to notice when things go bad, to note it, but I really racked my brain last night for big, good happenings recently (as compared to bad), and . . . um.  I mean, you could say, "Hey, every day you wake up is a miracle," but that's like saying, "Hey, at least you have SKIN covering your flesh."  Sure, okay, that's good, but how about a free trip to Disneyland, huh?

How about explaining to my mother, who turns 80 this summer, why we won't be able to afford to come out this Christmas after all?  I really may never see her again.  It was my biggest fear when we moved, and it's coming true right before my eyes.


Running through the names of folks I can't find for the class reunion, I keep running into the whole Abe Vigoda thing.  You know, "Isn't he dead?"  I'm trying to be very, very careful because I want to be neither the person who "Abe Vigodas" a classmate (declares them dead when they're not) NOR the person who misses someone who should be included in any memorial we put together.  

Speaking of that, I had a sort of related experience not too long ago.  Back in 1983, when I was married to THAT guy, he had a friend named Kent.  Kent was a drunk, straight up, flat out.  Kent was also a cowboy.  And Mormon.  That he was also gay was a source of constant grief for him.  He was a very torn and angst-ridden man.  Kent had, at the time, a young (like under 18 young) boyfriend named Bryce.  Bryce was an adorable kid, very sweet, though not particularly bright.

These people dropped out of my world pretty abruptly in 1984, and I had seen/heard nothing about them for decades.  Until Facebook.  Out of curiosity, I went looking, and I found Bryce!  I contacted him, and he had, of course, ZERO memory of me.  I find that happens a lot.  Either I'm a lot more attentive than most people or I'm breathtakingly dull and not worthy of committing to memory.  Hoping for the former, fearing the latter.

Anyway, we got to talking, and I asked about Kent.  And WOW!  Bryce gave me this chilling tale about how Kent was dead--how he had driven his Jeep out into the middle of the Nevada desert one cold night in the late 1980s, for reasons unknown.  Miles and miles from the nearest real road or town, he had abandoned his Jeep and wandered off into the harsh land, never to be heard from again.  No one knew if he'd been forced out into the Nevada night and murdered, his body buried somewhere in that expanse, or if he'd been drunk, on drugs, or suicidally depressed.  All they knew was this--Kent's Jeep was found forlorn near Table Mountain, and Kent had ceased to be.

Oooh, creepy, no?  Chills!  Bryce told me how, to that very day, he still had haunted nightmares about poor Kent.  Told me his heart had been broken and he had always longed for another chance with poor, roasty-in-the-glaring-sun, vulture-picked, coyote-et Kent.

Yeah, it was a creepy tale, all right.  It was also utter bull.  Being who I am, I immediately began researching the story, hoping to learn more.   And I DID learn more.  I learned that Kent was absolutely alive and living in Henderson, Nevada.  

So what the hell, right?  I messaged Bryce and said, "Um--I found Kent.  He's alive and living in Nevada?"  His response?

"Oh, cool--I knew there was someone there by that name, but they never returned my calls.  Do you have an address or another number, maybe?"

Are you kidding me?  Not even the good sense to be ashamed of the wild tale he told.  Some people's kids, I swear.


Speaking of missing people, I've been searching for years for a couple of folks I really cared about when I was in my late teens.  They were wonderful to me, patient, kind, even though I really was a rather ditzy, dippy, dumb kid.  Their names were Randy M. Leonard and Christine McIntyre, and they were roommates who were just getting in on the cutting edge of "computers."  This was the early to mid-80s, and I remember thinking, "Computers?  Why?"  Well, the "why" was because they were a whole lot smarter than I was.  Anyway, I've never been able to find them, so if you know them (they were living in Utah back then), lemme know, would you?  Thanks!


The grass out front (and out back) is looking better than it ever has.  It's scary, I don't want to get too excited.  My crocosmia appear to be coming up in ONE section of the garden, but not the other.  Go figure.  Didn't get much mileage out of the tulips this year, but my little azaleas are doing great, and the lilac's thriving.  In all, I'm pretty happy with how the yard is coming together this year.  Was hoping to build towers of petunias (got the idea from watching a commercial, lol), but now I'm thinking the IRS is likely going to eat ALL disposable cash, so there may be no new flowers this year.

And, from last year, the half-missing Crocosmia:

And that's all.  No uglies this time, just enjoy the flowers!

Oh, and Abe Vigoda?  STILL alive.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Juicing the Reunion

So, I haven't written in days.  No, I'm not tiring of my blog, but I have been slowly recovering from the arm ouch (arthritis flares suck), and I've been buried in research and graphics for the class reunion I have no intention of attending.  I've been tracking down class members, and also gathering information on folks who've died.  I'm trying to make up  nice, pretty memorials for a table or a Powerpoint presentation.

Does that seem odd?

It plays into my three top compulsive behaviors (well, aside from eating).  See, I love making lists.  I do, I can make lists 'til the cows come home.  It's not a mindless thing, I don't make lists for no reason, but face me with, say, a cross-country move?  Lists out the wazoo.  I also love doing research.  I am a "let me hunt this information down, let me deduce this and extrapolate that" maniac.  And on top of those things?  I have this knee-jerk "lemme help you with that!" thing going on.

But more than that, I have a deep fear of being forgotten.  You know, you die, you rot, you're gone, and in twenty years, no one remembers you.  I'm not doing this so folks will remember ME.  No, I'm doing this so that folks from my class who have died will be remembered.  It's important to me.

My sister asked why on earth I allowed myself to get roped into this.  Well, all those things above, plus this--I refuse to allow another reunion to go by with only the popular kids and their butt-kissers having a place (with the few strays who managed to elbow in).  I wasn't invited at ten years, at fifteen, or at 20.  It wasn't that they couldn't find me--my family is, quite literally, the only one in the phone book.  My address was the same for years.  These people saw me in the store, they saw me on the college campus, they knew exactly where I was.

And they didn't invite me.

Now, they invited me at 25, but they were cornered into by a friend of mine who managed to get involved in the planning.

I've tried not to hold a grudge, but it turns out most of those amazingly cliquish, sneering, popularity whores of high school are, in fact, pretty much the same today.  The Buffys, the Candys, the Bobbys--I made the effort as an adult because, hey, we were kids, right?  Kids grow up, they change, they mature.  Sadly, most of them turned out to be not just as bad today, but worse.  Worse because being that stupid, insular and snarky when you're sixteen is almost understandable.  Having failed to develop even an ounce since?


No, I'm not trying to screw up the reunion.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I'm trying to make it the CLASS reunion, not the "classist" reunion it's been.

I want everyone there, but my heart is with the marginalized, the outsiders, the kids like me on the fringe, and the kids even more ostracized than me.  I want the kids whose names and faces I don't remember (and probably never knew).  I want the "nobodies" to be "somebody" with the "somebodies."  Because it's time.


Speaking of the class reunion, it's a sad surprise how my research is turning up a surprising number of mugshots.  Not sure how to phrase that in my "trying to find these people" Excel spreadsheet.  "Don't have an address, but I'll bet the Sheriff's Office does?"  Most for drug and alcohol offenses. Because, for some folks, the party really never did end.  On a sad but funny side note?  Sally, you look positively RADIANT in your most recent mugshot!  


Just got home from shopping.  I think I mentioned watching, "Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead" the other day.  While the "woo" factor (resets?  Cleansing?) is pretty high in spots, there's no arguing with this--if I ate more fruits, more vegetables, and less meat, fat, and salt, I'd almost certainly be healthier.  We always buy enough veggies and fruits for the checkers to comment, but this time we bought more, a broader variety, and we bought no meat.

That's right, no meat.  Which is not to say we're going vegetarian--we're not.  But we figure fish once a week, tuna once a week, and chicken breast once a week (probably seared and in with the pasta), with the rest being non-meat.  Also looking to cut down the sodium, which is much harder for me to keep in check than carbs, calories, or fat.  

We're also looking at getting a good juicer/extractor.  No, not looking to do any "juice resets" or "full cleanses," but rather thinking that it would be a lot easier to get our son to eat veggies if we could make them palatable in juice.  It would also be a lot easier to get ME to eat KALE, which everyone touts and I think tastes like nasty crap.  Maybe disguised in juice, I could handle it.  

Not sure what kind.  Considering the Omega shown above (that's an advert, btw), or the Cuisinart, or one of the mid-range Breville's.  Sadly, we cannot afford the nearly 700 dollar machine used in the show, and that's probably fine.  We're not going to be doing three meals a day, seven days a week of juice.  

My main reason here?  I know that, when I have my doctor's appointment in June, that careless woman is going to try to throw me on Lipitor or some other crappy medication for my cholesterol.  No, it's not sky-high--in fact, were I not "pre-diabetic/diabetic" (depends on who's talking), it would be within normal range.  My HDL is low, but Lipitor doesn't help with that.  Anyway, they're going to try to throw me on some crappy drug because my LDL isn't as low as they say it should be for a diabetic.  And I'm going to refuse.  And then we're going to tangle because they're going to want me to come in every three months and I won't do that--that's bull, it's just a way to rake in the copays.  I'm a once-a-year kinda girl.  If cornered, I might agree to once every six months.  But you see, they're holding my heart medication hostage.  No, it's not wowser cardiac-hell, it's a bit of an arrhythmia that requires no more than 25 mg of Metoprolol ER a day.  But they can hold that medication over my head, refusing to refill it unless I bend over for their over-scheduling.  I figure if I can get my cholesterol closer to where they want it, they'll be less likely to go the extortion route.


And hey, here's an ugly something.  Because nothing pulls it all together like awful!

Saturday, April 20, 2013


So, I haven't written for a couple of days. Shouldn't be writing now, but my hits are crashing and I feel compelled.

I completely blew my hand/wrist/arm yesterday. Not doing something exciting or athletic, but rather by holding a heavy book cracked open in my left hand for three or so hours straight. The pain is astounding. Like shouting out loud, can't hike up my own pants astounding. Any twist, jar, or gravitational pull is agonizing.

Gonna make finishing that names/addresses list for the class reunion thing really hard. Already is making it hard, and I have until Wednesday.

Skelaxin has no effect. Ibuprofen only a little. And the more I clutch the arm to my side and struggle to keep it immobile, the more my back and neck hurt.

What a mess.

Watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" tonight. A little woo, but a lot of inspiration, too. It's good to see people succeed. Wondering how juicing and blood sugar go together without that fibrous pulp.

That's all. Tapping one handed on the iPad hurts.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If Babies had Guns . . .

Way back, when hubby and I were young (ish) and care-free/less, we took a road trip.  We drove from our home in Fontucky, SoCal to my mom's place in Utah for a visit.  On the way back to California, we planned to do some rockhounding, some exploring in old ghost towns, etc.

One of the places we wound up?

Rhyolite, Nevada.

While you may not recall ever hearing the name "Rhyolite," you've probably seen pictures of the bottle house.

That's right--it's a house made of bottles.  Built in 1906 by a local saloon-keeper named Tom Kelly, the house is made mostly of bottles from Adolphus Busch Glass Manufacturing Company.  We call them Budweiser these days, and they were, apparently, quite popular in the saloons of Rhyolite.  

Now, why would a guy build a bottle house?  I dunno--maybe because Rhyolite, in the middle of the Nevada desert and right at the gateway to Death Valley, didn't have a lot of lumber to work with?  Or maybe because he didn't have anything better to do with all those empties?  Regardless, the house was built, but the town wasn't long for this world.  The mine was failing, and, by 1911, closed.  Many of the town's buildings were actually moved to new places, including Beatty, Nevada, which is not too far away.  A movie studio came into town in the 1920s and repaired the bottle house for use in a couple of movies.  Then the Thompsons moved in, and they sold antiques out of the place until the late 1980s.  It has since fallen into disrepair, or so I've heard.

One of the striking features of Rhyolite is the stray cats.  The town is full of them.  On the day hubby and I got there, we immediately gravitated toward the old bank building because it is striking.

Cook Bank Building 1908

Cook Bank Building 1995

We had only been poking around town for a few minutes on our way toward the bank when, right outside the small jail building, a dirty, dusty, obviously-just-had-kittens cat appeared.  She was an orange tabby with great, golden eyes.  She rushed toward us, and I, of course, thought, "RABIES!"

She ran at hubby, launched herself at his leg, and then climbed up his leg, his back, and came to perch on his shoulder.  Purring madly.  Rubbing her face feverishly against hubby's head.  It was beautiful and incredibly sad.

We dubbed her "Smudge" (from an old PC game we were fond of), and she toured the town with us.  She spent most of her time on hubby's shoulder, but sometimes she would leap down and lead us into buildings or along trails.  After a few hours of exploring, it was time for us to head on--we still had many miles to go, and the day was better than half over.

We agonized over Smudge.  Should we take her?  We already had five cats (in an apartment that only allowed two).  Plus, we didn't know where her kittens were, and, while she was happy to lead us into buildings and along trails, she wasn't leading us to her kittens.  We decided to leave her there so she could care for her babies.  If we'd had the money, we would have rounded up her and her family and had them all fixed before returning them to their home, but we were super-poor.  Driving a beat-to-hell 1978 Corolla wagon with huge rust spots and a hatch that had to be tied down with twine poor.  We couldn't take her.  And so we dug through our stores, pulled out the meats, the cheese, the things a cat would like, and left them for her.

Yes, we knew it didn't really matter, that they would sink or swim regardless of our couple of days worth of treats.  And we were indescribably sad when we left her.

Smudge, on the other hand, seemed fine with it.  She cuddled, purred, but when we got in the car, she turned and walked away.

Poor Smudge.  It's been almost 20 years.  Smudge is long gone, as, likely are her kittens and probably their kittens, too.  I think the saddest part was how friendly she was.  Made me think she had, perhaps, been a pet dumped.  I would like to pinch flesh off folks who dump pets.


Hubby shared with me last night a squidge of idiocy that came dribbling across his Facebook feed.  It was hilarious, actually, and I'd like to share it with you because it's really captured my imagination:

Isn't that amazing?  I mean, seriously!  Think about it!  What if babies DID have guns?

Okay, the likely gorefest of pregnant women accidentally blown to smithereens and delivery nurses and doulas blasted to bits in the birthing center aside, let's take a look at this.

If babies had guns . . .

  • They'd be breastfed on demand because no baby would rather have formula.  Ever tasted formula?  Ever tasted breastmilk?  I rest my case--if babies had guns, they'd all be breastfed, and they'd be breastfed when they wanted. Or else.
  • They'd never be awakened from naps before they were ready; if they fell asleep in the car, that's where mom and dad would spend the night just to avoid waking them.
  • Carseats?  Please!
  • The family dog would almost certainly wind up dead the first time it went on a licking fest or snatched a cracker out of baby's hand.
  • Vaccinations would be a thing of the past.
  • No green foods EVER!
  • Circumcision would be OVER!
  • Every toy they ever wanted would be in their hand almost before they knew they wanted it.
  • No booger-sucking bulbs again!
  • The very concept of "Ferberizing" a baby would go the way of the dodo.  When baby cries, baby is picked up and loved.  Period.
  • Every Republican who ever whined about takers, 47%ers, moochers, or otherwise moved to cut housing, food stamps, or WIC would likely live in fear of the armed babies.

Seriously, "If babies had guns . . . ?"  Are Americans really just this DUH anymore?  I know, it was just one dull-wit who said it, but you know what?  People voted for him.  And worse, someone out there was stupid enough to make a cheerleading meme out of this!  And you KNOW there are people passing it on and saying, "YEAH!" as they do so.

The mind boggles.


Speaking of circumcision?  We are the only western country that routinely takes sharp objects to infant boys' genitals.  All those handsome Canadian, British, Irish, Scottish, and European actors you think are so sexy?  Uncircumcised.

It's not "just skin"--it's highly innervated tissue that serves several important functions, sexual and otherwise.  It is flesh that is attached to the penis much as your fingernails are attached to your fingers.  To be removed, something dull must be jammed down between foreskin and penis, tearing the flesh away from the penile shaft.  That skin's not just hanging there, waiting to be cut--it is ATTACHED.  It must be TORN away.  Then the skin is slashed and crushed.  It's torture, nothing less.  It's not "necessary for cleanliness or health."  And even if it DID prevent cancer and AIDS and urinary tract infections, so does basic, five-second bathing and condoms.  If we're not going to carve up baby girls' genitals in order to prevent infections, why would we do it to boys?   After all, little girls have far more infections than intact boys.  If girls get antibiotics, why do boys get amputation of the foreskin?



There are many other links out there.  Yes, the videos and photos are graphic, but they're no more graphic than what happens to boys when they are circumcised.

Again, the foreskin isn't just inert flesh waiting to be torn, slashed, and crushed.  It's healthy, vital tissue that serves several important purposes.  Just because someone CAN manage to function without it doesn't mean they should have to, and it doesn't mean they haven't lost something important.

This is not about making parents who've already done it feel bad, and it's not about riling up that knee-jerk "there's nothing wrong with ME" feeling in men who've been cut.  It's about doing better because we're learning better.  My dad did better for my brother than his dad did for him.  Because he'd learned better, and he knew not to visit the practice on his own son just to feel better about what had been done to him.  My husband did better by his son than his parents did by him.

And these Jewish parents are discovering that they can do better for their boys.

That's what it's all about, right?  Knowing better so we can do better?  And if it's too late to do better for our own, we can help others to not make the same mistake.

And that's it for today.  Here's a really ugly wall.  And counter.  And cabinets.  Dang.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon

Not a lot to say.  A friend who was at the Boston Marathon, who had just left the finish line area minutes before, first told me what had happened.  Her husband, who is an ER physician in town, treated 20+ patients, including a number with devastating limb injuries.

One?  A dancer.  Oh, honey.  Oh.

What to say.  What?  What can I add to that?  I mean, we don't even know for sure who did this?  It could be domestic nutjobs, though my sad heart is leaning toward foreign.  I looked at my son and said, "Your father and I grew up in a time when our country's foreign policy was exactly that--foreign.  We could invade other countries using fancy War Names like 'Urgent Fury,' 'Just Cause,' and 'El Dorado Canyon' and not worry that any of it was ever going to splash back on the bright and gleaming shores of our great nation.  We overthrew governments, we funded coups, we funnelled money into Israel, Iran, and then Iraq, we used Afghanistan as a proxy playground for our pissing match with the Soviets. We supported governments that tortured, oppressed, occupied, and flat-out devastated their citizens, and we never, EVER considered that maybe all sorts of bitterness, hard feelings, and all-around burning hatred was stewing."

I truly never thought we would find ourselves the victims of foreign-based terrorism at home.  Why I never thought it, I don't know.  Common complacency, I guess.  The constant chorus of government folks telling us that WE were the "GOOD GUYS," we were the "voice for democracy," we were RIGHT.

I never thought to question it.  Or, at least, I never thought to expect it to come back to us.  Desert Storm left me questioning what on earth we were doing in the Middle East, but it wasn't until 9/11 that it came crashing home for me--how could we NOT have expected that?  How?  How could we think that playing colonialist super-power, that manipulating and overthrowing and killing tens of thousands (directly and through the funding of oppressive, murderous governments) wouldn't eventually come back to bite us?

Make NO mistake--I'm not excusing here!  Never, never!  But when I hear the, "Why do they hate us, why are they so evil when all we want is to bring freedom to the world" litany, I want to scream.  Because that's such bull.  That's propaganda worthy of WWII era Germany or the Cold War Soviets.

It's odd.  I was watching a documentary on Noam Chomsky just the night before, and he was talking about terrorism.  About how, after 9/11, countries like Nicaragua and Panama expressed their horror, their sympathy.  And they said, "It's terrible--we know, we experienced something much like that."

Yes, they did.  And they experienced it courtesy us.

NOBODY should EVER suffer something like 9/11.  NOBODY should EVER suffer something like the Boston Marathon bombing.  NOBODY--not Americans, not Palestinians, not Syrians, not Panamanians, not Iranians, not Canadians, not Pakistanis, not Grenadians, not Nicaraguans, not the Irish, not the  Brits, not ANYBODY.  But we can't be surprised when it happens to us.  To stop terrorism, we have to STOP terrorism.

I looked at my husband last night and said, "You know, I long for a world where non-combatants aren't targets."  And he said, "Hey, if you're going to wish for the impossible, just wish for a world where there are NO combatants because we've learned how to get along."

Okay.  I wish for a world where there are no combatants.  Where no one gets to decide that their deity is THE deity, that THEY are some ghost in the sky's preferred folk, that their holy book is the one by which we draw geopolitical boundaries or lay down civilian law.  I wish for a world where people are smart enough and sane enough to say, "Wow--if we fight over this, tens of thousands will die and we'll destroy anything that might have been worth fighting for--let's figure this out and share."

I wish for a world where my kid doesn't have to worry that the backpack next to the garbage can is the one that will end his life.

I'm sorry, Boston.  I love you, and I've loved you since my annual summer treks way back in my teens.  I'm sorry this happened.  I wish for a world where no one would ever think to do something like this.  To anyone, anywhere.

And most of all?  Oh, my heart breaks for those people who trained so hard, who hoped and wished and laughed and dreamed of yesterday's race, only to be struck down, viciously wounded.  Some, including a child, killed.  And then my heart swells when I think of those race volunteers, the medical folks, the police and fire, and the runners themselves who turned back into the fray to rescue, to save.  There are, every day, heroes among us.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bad Business, Bad Science, and Bad, Bad Teachers

Got a medical doohickey in the mail yesterday, from my insurance company.

That would be Carefirst, if anyone's wondering.

The practical upshot?  They say that NONE of the bill for my gynecology appointment last week is covered because my doctor is "not a plan provider."

Oh, for hell's sake.

Yes, she is.  She is, because I FOUND her through Carefirst's "Find a Provider" link.  She is because they've covered her in the past, her office says they take my insurance, AND I checked the "Find a Provider" page moments before I made the appointment, just to be sure she's still a "plan provider."

And when I got the bill?

I checked again.  Yeah, she's still there.  Yeah, I screen-shot it.

These people, I swear.  I can only assume that someone, somewhere mistyped something.  Or maybe, as hubby says, it's like throwing feces at the wall hoping some will stick--maybe the insurance company sends these letters out, knowing at least a few folks will crumple and cry and pay the bill themselves.

Speaking of paying the bill myself, almost EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS for a simple PAP SMEAR?  Are you SERIOUS?

Remember the "oncological gynecologist" who refused to see me because a letter from the Federal Government promising payment for my medical care wasn't enough for him?  The guy with the fancy car and the deep-sea fishing outfit and the pictures on his Facebook profile of him at the idiot Teabagger convergence in DC?  The first price he threw out for a consultation was 300 bucks.  When I balked, he said, "Well, insurance will only pay 150, so I'll settle for that."

It appears that's how medical professionals get around HMOs and PPOs reduced payments--they double-charge, knowing they'll only get half of it.


Anyway, so that's tomorrow's fun time--hassling with Carefirst.  The last time I had to hassle with them (over a follow-up mammogram), they screwed me hard.  See, the place that performed the initial mammogram was an "approved facility" and they covered it in full.  But the required follow-up at the SAME facility?  Sorry, "not a plan preferred provider."

And before anyone chimes in with something stupid like, "Welcome to 'Obamacare,'" know I've been dealing with crap like this for the past 16 years.  Insurance companies are money-grubbing vampires, period.  Never known one that wouldn't screw you at any opportunity.  If you ask me, insurance companies are predatory dinosaurs, and they need to go the way of the dodo.


As you know, I run (inherited, really) a Facebook group dedicated to high school classmates who've died.  I scrounge around for obits and other snips and post them for everyone.  Occasionally, an obit for an old teacher or administrator comes across my desk (or an old teacher posts to the group).  It's always fascinating, seeing how certain teachers were revered by some, and despised by others.

Take Mr. Q, for instance.

Oh, talk about a guy who is held up as the epitome of science teaching!  A man revered for his wit, his humor (he was an amateur stand-up comic!), his deep caring for his students.  So many people absolutely adored this guy, had nothing but love and respect for him.

And then there were the kids like me.

Mr. Q despised me, and he made no secret of it.  Perhaps because he was a staunch Mormon who couldn't stand the stench of cigarettes on me.  Perhaps because he sensed in me another funny person--often, it's the clowns who can't stand the competition from fellow funny folk.  Whatever it was, this man was on me often and hard.  He never passed up an opportunity to poke at me, to hold me up as a point of ridicule, to corner me in front of the class and embarrass me with my lack of knowledge.

No, it's not me being hyper-sensitive.  Other kids in class used to ask me what I'd done to make him take after me like that.  I had no answer--as far as I knew, I'd done nothing.

It all came to a head one early morning in Anatomy.  Mr. Q had said something about hormones, and I leaned over and whispered a rather rank joke to my friend sitting next to me.  I was sixteen, what can I say?  Mr. Q was on me like stink on poop.  He demanded I come up before the class and share whatever it was I'd had to say.  Now, right off the bat, that's crappy teaching--teaching through bullying and ridicule and public shaming isn't teaching at all.  It's something meaner.  I very politely demurred;  Mr. Q became loudly and unpleasantly insistent.  I stood up and said, "Mr. Q, it was a vulgar joke and it's totally inappropriate.  I am sorry if I was disruptive."

Yes, at sixteen I already knew how to kiss behind.

He sneered, I swear--he bared his teeth and told me that, unless I wanted to rack up a suspension, I'd do as I was told and share with the class.  I again tried to sway him, even asked if I could just head to the office without "sharing."  He was adamant--I was to share with the class.

And so I did.  The class was impressed.  Mr. Q?

Not so much.

He took me by the arm and dragged me from the class, threw me into the hall, shouting about what a filthy animal I was and how I was never to set foot in his classroom again.

That's the Mr. Q *I* remember.

And Mr. A, our illustrious drama teacher/football coach?  His few star students remember him as being amazing, wonderful, an artiste!  The rest of us?  Remember a mean, self-aggrandizing bastard who would turn beet red when angry and hurl insults like candy from a parade float.  Make no mistake--yes, he engaged in a lot of scatter-shot generalizations (and chair throwing, yardstick tossing, and swearing) when enraged (which was pretty frequently), but the more deadly insults?  He was a crack shot.  For instance, he knew that crowing about my best friend's new braces would silence her (and it did--she spent the rest of the class period crying silently, and never came back).  He knew that referring to me as the "tubby, dense contingent" would get the desired effect, and it did--I walked out, and I never came back.

The little drama pets thought this abusiveness was indicative of a passionate soul, a man who cared so deeply for his "art" that he sometimes let his feelings get the best of him.

Hmmm.  Like a child abuser lets his fists get away from him, I suppose?  Whatever the "motivation," his tantruming and vicious pokes brought about the desired outcome--he had a dedicated flock of groupies, and everyone else was too afraid to cross him.  What a guy, huh?

And then our choir teacher, Mrs. Y.  I loved choir, I did.  And I had a lovely voice.  I couldn't read music, but I was a lethal quick study when it came to learning new songs, and I was GOOD.  My second year, Mrs. Y asked me to try out for Concert Choir--the "big kids" choir.  I said to her that I didn't think my grades were good enough.  She brushed that aside, said that this was about singing.  I was surprised, I admit--this woman had never made any real secret of her dislike for me (and any kid like me--the smokers, the back-parking lot dregs).  But she insisted I try out, and I admit, I was psyched.  I wanted to be in Concert Choir, I loved the idea.  I loved to sing.

I chose this as my piece (the soprano portion, that is):

Mrs. Y made me audition in front of the entire class.  She made me sing the entire piece.  And then she told me that, though my voice was lovely and I'd done a fine job with the piece, I wasn't really "Concert Choir material."  My grades, my personal proclivities--there was nothing about me that proclaimed "grade-A."  So sorry, but it's about more than just singing, you know!  Smile.

Again, she did this to me in front of an audience of forty other kids.  And she did this after I had tried to beg off because of my grades, because of her dislike for me.

There were a number of teachers like this.  Mr. Z, who was described in his obit as a wonderfully kind and upstanding church man who loved his family and always did right.  Hmm.  What the "girls like me" remember is a guy who touched too much and always had something a little dirty to say to us.  Miss F, who made kids like me feel stupid, small, and unworthy of her attention, who never smiled at us except when holding us up for ridicule.

It wasn't until recently, when discussing this with a friend who loved these teachers, that it became clear.  It was the non-Mormon kids.  The kids who weren't part of the predominant faith, the kids who weren't maybe the younger siblings of superstars or the children of fellow educators.  And don't think they didn't know--they'd ask, "What Ward are you in?"  It was blatant, and no one questioned it.

Not all the teachers were like this.  Mr. O and Coach D were terrific guys--Coach D was maybe not all that on the history teaching front, but he was actually open to learn things and would look things up if asked a question he didn't have an answer to.  And Mr. O?  Loved anyone and everyone who paid attention and took part, whether they shared his super-liberal ideas or not.  And Mr. CE?  Oh, what a superbly kind and funny  man, both on the driving range and in his history class.

Anyway, my point?  That sometimes it's hard to sit back quietly and watch people contorting themselves in their attempts to outdo each other on the praise front for these teachers who were not just careless with, they were actively mean to certain "types" of kids.  Like Mrs. U, who refused to let me into AP English because, as she put it, I just wasn't a good "fit."  She actually said that my test scores were "almost certainly a fluke."  Again, she said this TO MY FACE.  In front of people!

When she asked me to join AP English the following year, using my most recent test scores as the reason, I took the suspension.

What suspension?

The one that came down when I told her to shove her damnable AP course up her ass.

No, not the smartest way to handle it, but you know what?

It felt good.

There's a chain of furniture stores in the Western United States.  Hubby and I have an account with them, even though we now live 2,300 or so miles away from the location we frequented.  Our living room furniture, our lovely Bombay chest, our little mini-fridge all came from them.

So did the giant armoire.

The bombay chest was amazing, of course, but the armoire was a WIN.  See, it was marked down from just shy of a grand to 299.  Discontinued item, you know.  It was touted as entirely hardwood.  Not veneers, not crappy wood-grain wallpaper, but hardwood.  So I SNAPPED it up, They delivered it, set it up (it was fully put together save the top half had to be placed on the bottom and secured.  It weighed a TON, and the bottom, which wasn't wrapped, was gorgeous.  

The top?

Well, I didn't get to see that until after they left (and they left at a run) because it was wrapped in that opaque foam stuff.  We unwrapped it, and it was a disaster.

A disaster.

The doors were the plantation-type slatted wood, and the slats were covered with this gawdawful woodgrain wallpaper stuff, which was horribly warped and bubbled.  Oh, I was SO upset!  Much like something you'd expect out of a box at Walmart.  We dashed outside, but the truck was already gone.  I had already screen-shot and printed the order forms and such, so I called the furniture store to complain.  I spent ten minutes on hold.  And when someone finally deigned to speak to me?

I was told that the armoire was sold "as is," with no returns or refunds.  I KNEW this wasn't true, because I had printed out all the pertinent paperwork and screenshots (just in case there was a problem with the order).  I said, "That's not anywhere on the website, nowhere on the product page or the order form."  I was told I was mistaken.  I should "check that again."

I did, and there it was, bright red--"THIS ITEM IS SOLD 'AS IS.'  NO RETURNS OR REFUNDS."

I said, "That was NOT THERE, I have the original screen shots."  I was told that it was there before the item was delivered, and that's all that matters.  I checked the stated delivery time on the website.

20 minutes later than it had actually been.  

In other words, they delivered, realized it was damaged, called headquarters, who jumped in, changed the product listing to include the "as is" admonition, and then fudged the delivery time.  

I know, it sounds complicated, but there's no other explanation.  I didn't miss the bright red type, my screen shots didn't magically miss just that information.  It was not there in the hours before delivery.  They delivered a damaged, discontinued item, then fudged the information to prevent me from returning it.

Someday, I'll have the cash to have new slats made for it.  Real hardwood slats without bubbly wallpaper.  Until then?  

I keep the doors open so you can't see the warped, bubbly slats.  Because the rest of it IS solid hardwood, and it's very nice.


Speaking of bad business practices, let me harken back to my first utility company.  Now, it's quite possible you've never seen the above logo.  It's from a company once called "Mountain Fuel Supply Company."  They're someone else now, but back in the early 80s, they were the suppliers of natural gas in Northern Utah.  I was reminded of them yesterday when my boy told me a story of how someone kept getting letters telling them that packages couldn't be shipped because their address didn't exist.  

Something much like that happened to me in the fall/winter of 1983.  See, I tried to have my heat/natural gas turned on, only to receive letter after letter telling me that Mountain Fuel couldn't turn on my heat because my ADDRESS DIDN'T EXIST.  

Yes, that's right, they MAILED me letters to an address they told me DIDN'T EXIST.  And, magically, they ARRIVED!

When I headed down to their office (no small feat--I had no car, there was no reliable mass transit in my area, and it I was working full-time), they told me it was something I would have to work out . . . somehow.  I said, "But you KNOW the address exists!  You sent me MAIL at that address!"  The response?

"Ma'am, what mail gets where isn't up to us--that's a USPS issue."

It took SIX WEEKS for them to get my heat turned on.  This was in Northern Utah in November and December.  Ever have to wash your hair in ice cold water, leaving your scalp muscles so spasmed your head hurts for hours?  Ever have to boil pan after pan of water to take a bath?  Ever have to sit with your feet in the oven, trying to warm up enough to be able to sleep?

I have.  Thanks, Mountain Fuel!


A quick note on people who vomit up new-age, "raw for beauty," woo trash online.  Don't spray your stupid garbage across people's walls and newsfeeds, then cry "Google it!"

No, here's an idea--YOU Google it BEFORE you spray it!  You're like the slob who tosses garbage out the car window, then, when someone says, "Whoa!  That's crap!" you say, "Pick it up, then!"  

NO!  It's YOUR trash, YOU PICK IT UP!  If you're going to throw out idiotic, utterly woo, incredibly misleading and inaccurate crap, YOU do the research BEFORE you do it!  Come on, be a force for smart for a change, huh?  If the claims are extraordinary (the average person has THIRTY POUNDS OF TOXINS IN THEIR BODIES and LEMONS can DETOXIFY), the EVIDENCE also needs to be extraordinary.  Come on, kids--it's called SCIENCE!  USE it!


And that's it for today, I think.  The back yard is pulling together really nicely.  Not much cash to work with, but I did get a couple of pretty phlox plants (one pink, one bluish) to add a little color.  Plus my daffodils and tulips are up.  Sad that I'm not seeing any evidence of my iron crosses or crocosmia.  I'll be sad if they don't come back.  On the bright side, my azaleas all seem alive, and they're about to blossom.  And the stinky Callery Pear?  Not so stinky this year.  

And still no Cicadas.  Yay!

Friday, April 12, 2013

If we shadows have offended . . .

Used to be a boy in my high school, in my grade, named Robert.  His dad was the coolest crossing guard ever, used to dress up as Santa each holiday season.  Solidly nice man.  And Robert seemed a nice enough kid, though there was an odd sort of edge to him, a . . . creepiness to his nice, if you know what I mean?  Ever see William Mapother play a creep?  You know, like "Ethan" from Lost or the pimp from Justified?  Like that.  Too nice, too patient, too . . . edgily weird with a smile.

Anyway, I didn't see Robert for a few years after graduation (or as close to graduation as I came).  Then, one night, my best friend and I were sitting in our usual restaurant, studying for midterms or finals (don't remember which) when suddenly Robert showed up.  My friend liked him (initially), and so his vaguely drunken cowboy self was invited to sit with us for a few.

A "few," which panned into a couple of hours.  We couldn't study, we couldn't quiz each other, we couldn't transcribe notes because Robert wouldn't let us.  In fact, Robert kept getting more and more creepy and "hey, let's party"-y until we finally made some excuse and beat a hasty retreat.

It was a few blocks away when we realized we were being followed, and pretty aggressively.  Whomever it was?  Wasn't looking to be sly.  This was big, obvious lane changes, swerving, flashing lights, etc.  As we were unaccustomed to being stalked by creeps, we actually didn't realize it was Robert until he RAN US OFF THE ROAD AND UP A CURB in his big red and white pick-up truck.  It was then we saw him behind the wheel and understood.  What did we do?

We raced for the cop-shop, which was only five blocks away.  This was, of course, in the days before cell phones, so getting to the police station was the only route we felt we had open to us.  He followed us right to the driveway, then peeled off and raced away.  In other words?

He knew exactly what he was doing.  If it had been anything less than creepy, he wouldn't have fled when he realized where we were headed.  Sadly, stupidly, we didn't report him.  We figured it was a bad move borne of booze (these days, I'd call the cops for the DUI as well as the stalking), and went on home.

The next time we saw Robert was, again, in our restaurant.  He was there specifically for us.  This time I told him to get the hell away from us.  He became belligerent and bullying, and I called the restaurant manager, who told him to leave or face the cops.  For weeks after, we had waiters and cooks walking us to our car each evening, just in case.  He followed us one more time, and then disappeared.

I was reading the paper this morning and spotted his mugshot.  He looks like a man who's done some major meth over the years--you know the look.  Those cute boy cheeks and bright eyes are gone, gone, gone.  And what's he in for?

Assault and protective order violations.

Gosh, didn't see that one coming.


Reading about online yesterday, stumbled across THIS GEM.  Is it Kansas?  I've lived in Kansas, I don't remember it being quite this bad.  Of course, I was a kid, I lived on base, so maybe I was sheltered.  Or maybe times have changed.  Maybe people are stupider, or maybe they just feel safer and more comfortable openly splashing their idiocy about.  Or maybe it's not Kansas at all, maybe it's just this variety republican?  Whichever, whatever, you've got to ask yourself about the people who vote for creatures like this.  I mean, if you vote for a racist, doesn't that make YOU a racist, too?

I think it does.


Well, since I'm on a roll, let's talk about gun control and the New York Daily News.  Their recent headline?

NY Daily News Cover

You know what?  I'm not usually a big fan of visual media histrionics, but I have to say, I agree.  It is all for nothing if we still have gun show loopholes, still allow private sales/transfers without background checks, and still allow high capacity clips and ARs.  It's ridiculous to even call that a real effort to change things.  How it is that Americans got to this state, I don't know.  It's like we're absolutely incapable of assessing risk, we fear the phantom home invader when, fact is, we're FAR more likely to be killed by an armed spouse or relative than by a stranger.  There are people who carry concealed, but don't put their kids in car seats and let them pilot ATVs at five years old.  We ban drop-sided cribs for killing 32 babies in TEN years, but ignore the fact that medically unnecessary routine infant circumcision kills 100+ baby boys a YEAR.  Do Americans just not know how to gauge risk?

And speaking of risk, I'm going to scream the next time someone says something stupid like, "Guns don't kill as many people as CARS, should we ban them, too?"  It's a dull-witted, disingenuous argument, almost as bad as "guns don't kill people, people kill people!"  A few things--one, we DO ban cars deemed unsafe (and regulate the living daylights out of the ones that are considered safe).  Two, cars, when used correctly and according to the manufacturer's directions and the attendant laws, aren't LETHAL.  Assault rifles are built to kill people.  When used as intended, they are lethal.  And three?

In an increasing number of states, guns DO kill more people than cars.  It won't be long, if we continue as we are, before guns kill more Americans every year than cars.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Gun Deaths Set to Outstrip Car Fatalities


Wow, look at me go!

I keep getting these wowser woo things coming across my wall on Facebook (I know, who'da thunk?).  You know, this berry cures this and this powder cures that, and if you can just cut out sugar/increase your body's alkalinity/deep breathe/leave cut onions around/whatever, you'll be cured/healed/protected.

To quote the wonderful Tim Minchin,

A small crack appears
In my diplomacy-dike.
"By definition", I begin
"Alternative Medicine", I continue
"Has either not been proved to work,
Or been proved not to work.
You know what they call alternative medicine
That’s been proved to work?

Just recently, I got some greasy pile of dung going on and on about how our blood is "highly magnetic," powerfully so, because of all the IRON in it, and how magnets, therefore, manipulate this iron and effect magical woo cures . . .  oh, I can't.  I just can't.  Here's what I CAN say, though.

Ever spend 45 minutes in an MRI?  I have.  Three times now.  You know what happens to people with measurable magnetic metals in their body when they're in an MRI?

It ain't pretty.

One last thing, in case I haven't pissed off enough people today?

No Body of Christ for the Gay-Lovers!

That's right!  If you support marriage equality, the Catholic Church doesn't want YOU partaking of the body or the blood of Jesus.  Because it's not enough to cough up tithe or continue to claim membership despite the church's deep misogyny and historic tolerance of rampant child molestation (and dogged defense of child molesters).  No, no, you must also be utterly intolerant and totally unwilling to support equality for people who aren't exactly like you.  And if you're not willing to go the hater route?

Well, it's gonna be a tough haul getting into heaven, huh?

So, in other words, if you're Catholic, you'd better not support the rights of non-Catholics to engage in behaviors your church abhors.  Any attempt to allow folks who are different the same rights and privileges you get?  BOOM, bye-bye body of Christ!

At least if the folks you're trying to help are gay.  Apparently, the handing out of said eucharist by altar-boy-groping priests is A-okay.  It must be, right?  After all, the church has spent decades--centuries, even--working to keep those priests on the job.


And if none of THAT offended you, you must be my forever-friend and possibly platonic soul-mate.

So here, have some hideous home decor.  It's on the house . . . get it?  Get it?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Photophobic Child

I came across the most amazing blog-y/Tumblr thing today, and it SO struck a chord with us!

http://reasonsmysoniscrying.tumblr.com/ is, essentially, a running photographic record of . . . well, I was going to say "this guy's son," but I don't think there's any mention of whether it's mom or dad documenting.  It just feels like a "guy" thing.  Anyway, it's a running record of this child and the broad variety of reasons for his meltdowns.  

Now, this hit so close to home because our boy was a disaster for meltdowns.  And he started early--at just a few months old, he began "sundowning."  That's crying from around 5 pm to 10 pm, with NO break, no respite.  He wouldn't sleep, wouldn't nurse, and refused all efforts at calming or comforting.

There no medical issue, at least none we could find.  And believe me, we had him in the Ped's office.  Nothing helped, and it was HELLISH.  We were living with my Mom at the time, and she was working 5 am-5pm.  The screaming was biting solidly into her sleep time.

At one point, we almost wound up in an emergency room in rural Idaho--we were heading up to Ennis, Montana (a little place called the Riverside Outfitters on the banks of the Madison River) to celebrate my birthday and the anniversary of our boy's conception.  Yes, he was conceived on my birthday.  We had stopped the first night in the Challis National Forest near MacKay, Idaho.  Things went great until around--you guessed it--5 pm.  By 9 pm, I was panicked--we were miles from the nearest town, in the middle of a forest, isolated, with a child who just kept screaming and screaming.  He had screamed himself into a sweat, and felt so hot to the touch that I feared the thermometer was wrong.  Finally, four hours in, I told hubby we were going to have to break camp and drive into MacKay, try to figure out where there was an ER.

Yeah, this was before we had a cell phone, and WELL before we had a phone with web access.

About the time hubby had the tent torn down, I managed, finally, to get the boy to latch.  After HOURS of him steadfastly refusing.

And the moment he latched, it was all okay.  He nursed heartily, both sides, and then fell deeply asleep.  He cooled to the touch, and everything was fine.

I know, right?

We finally figured out the "Sundowning" thing--we started swaddling him.  That would calm him enough to latch, and then he'd be set.

But it didn't stop with that.  Oh, gosh no.

Our boy hated having his picture taken.  Any attempt at professional portraiture was met with sobs, struggles, and all-around devastation.  And so we'd be dancing around with stuffed animals and cavorting and hooting like fools, trying to distract him JUST enough so his face wasn't pulled back in that rictus-like scream we so adored.  And it worked, but only just, and only after 20-40 minutes of parental struggles.  And it wasn't just professional shots--any time he sensed that he was, in any way, being POSED, he lost cohesion.  Here are some examples of "caught him between screams/almost looks like he's happy" shots:

Yes, he's crying
Yeah, he was crying here, too
Yep, tears again
Now, I don't want to give you the idea that our boy did nothing but cry.  Gosh, no--we even have some cheery shots of him.  But you had to trick him.  You had to get the shot in on the sly, with no attempts at posing him or setting up the shot.  Like so:

Minneola love

Yam face
While he wasn't the happiest boy around, he was a lot happier most of the time than his pictures seemed to show. 

And these days?  These days, the challenge is getting him to NOT mug for the camera.  He sees the camera, the mouth twists grotesquely, the eyes bug, the nostrils flare.  It's maddening:

But if I yell/wheedle/cry enough, sometimes (only sometimes) I can get something like this:

And then my heart positively sings.

Came across a review today on Epinions, one covering the new (I guess?) lemon-scented Raid.  And I found myself a bit taken aback.  Not because of the review itself--it's a very good review.  But rather at the idea of making Raid (and anything else that incredibly toxic) smell nice.  There's a reason that stuff smells awful--because it's awful for you.  Same with "happy" scented oven cleaners and the like.  When they smell as bad as they ARE for you, it's a good way to remember to keep those windows open and those fans on.  I don't WANT things that can kill you via inhalation to be pleasant to inhale.  Seems . . . dangerous.


So, another pile of steaming woo BS came sliding across my wall today.  This time?  

The dippy "onions absorb illness" crap.  Holy cow!  This has come up over and over, and again and again it's debunked, only to have some woo nard drag it up again.  This time, it's a guy whose woo is so deep it's a miracle he hasn't drowned in it.

Here's the garbage:  

 Wow- very interesting....Everyone should read :)

ONIONS! I had never heard this!!!

In 1919 when the flu killed 40 million people there was this Doctor that visited the many farmers to see if he could helpthem combat the flu...
Many of the farmers and their families had contracted it and many died.

The doctor came upon this one farmer and to his surprise, everyone was very healthy. When the doctor asked what the farmer was doing that was different the wife replied that she had placed an unpeeled onion in a dish in the rooms of the home, (probably only two rooms back then). The doctor couldn't believe it and asked if he could have one of the onions and place it under the microscope. She gave him one and when he did this, he did find the flu virus in the onion. It obviously absorbed the bacteria, therefore, keeping the family healthy.

Now, I heard this story from my hairdresser. She said that several years ago, many of her employees were coming down with the flu, and so were many of her customers. The next year she placed several bowls with onions around in her shop. To her surprise, none of her staff got sick. It must work. Try it and see what happens. We did it last year and we never got the flu.

Now there is a P. S. to this for I sent it to a friend in Oregon who regularly contributes material to me on health issues. She replied with this most interesting experience about onions:

Thanks for the reminder. I don't know about the farmer's story...but, I do know that I contacted pneumonia, and, needless to say, I was very ill... I came across an article that said to cut both ends off an onion put it into an empty jar, and place the jar next to the sick patient at night. It said the onion would be black in the morning from the germs...sure enough it happened just like that...the onion was a mess and I began to feel better.

Another thing I read in the article was that onions and garlic placed around the room saved many from the black plague years ago. They have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic properties.

This is the other note. Lots of times when we have stomach problems we don't know what to blame. Maybe it's the onions that are to blame. Onions absorb bacteria is the reason they are so good at preventing us from getting colds and flu and is the very reason we shouldn't eat an onion that has been sitting for a time after it has been cut open.


I had the wonderful privilege of touring Mullins Food Products, Makers of mayonnaise. Questions about food poisoning came up, and I wanted to share what I learned from a chemist.

Ed, who was our tour guide, is a food chemistry whiz. During the tour, someone asked if we really needed to worry about mayonnaise. People are always worried that mayonnaise will spoil. Ed's answer will surprise you. Ed said that all commercially-made mayo is completely safe.

"It doesn't even have to be refrigerated. No harm in refrigerating it, but it's not really necessary." He explained that the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment. He then talked about the summer picnic, with the bowl of potato salad sitting on the table, and how everyone blames the mayonnaise when someone gets sick.

Ed says that, when food poisoning is reported, the first thing the officials look for is when the 'victim' last ate ONIONS and where those onions came from (in the potato salad?). Ed says it's not the mayonnaise (as long as it's not homemade mayo) that spoils in the outdoors. It's probably the ONIONS, and if not the onions, it's the POTATOES.

He explained onions are a huge magnet for bacteria, especially uncooked onions. You should never plan to keep a portion of a sliced onion.. He says it's not even safe if you put it in a zip-lock bag and put it in your refrigerator.

It's already contaminated enough just by being cut open and out for a bit, that it can be a danger to you (and doubly watch out for those onions you put in your hotdogs at the baseball park!). Ed says if you take the leftover onion and cook it like crazy you'll probably be okay, but if you slice that leftover onion and put on your sandwich, you're asking for trouble. Both the onions and the moist potato in a potato salad, will attract and grow bacteria faster than any commercial mayonnaise will even begin to break down.

Also, dogs should never eat onions. Their stomachs cannot metabolize onions.

Please remember it is dangerous to cut an onion and try to use it to cook the next day, it becomes highly poisonous for even a single night and creates toxic bacteria which may cause adverse stomach infections because of excess bile secretions and even food poisoning.

Please pass this on to all you love and care about.

And here's the reality:

And the real pisser here?  This guy isn't stupid.  He's not anywhere near as smart as he thinks he is (obviously), he's lazy and intellectually sloppy and taken with things fanciful and--well, and woo-ish.  But he's certainly smart enough to GOOGLE things.  And, really, that's all I ask.  Before you splatter this dull-witted garbage on my wall, take five minutes to research it.


Because, you see, if you don't, then you're the reason why people are getting stupider instead of smarter.  People see your name and assume that you wouldn't lie to them, you wouldn't misinform, that, gosh, you're a smart guy, this must be true!  

YOU.  That's YOU doing that, that's YOU misinforming people, dumbing them down.  So, hey, do us all a favor, would you?


Oh, and since we're here, leftover onions do not, in any way, absorb toxins, biological or otherwise, thus becoming poisonous.  Grow up.


And that's all.  Do me a favor--remember these pictures and the written stuff here is mine.  If you want to use something, you need to ask me.  Thanks.

Do not reprint without permission. © KAQ