Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Season 2014

Actually got my husband to make his annual step inside a mall the week before Christmas.  We went to the Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham, which was --- okay, but am I the only one who remembers when malls were for everybody?  That newfangled "exclusivity" has a lot to do with why I can't get my husband to set foot in one more than once a year.  It also isn't helping their sales; all we could find that interested us were a couple of used video games and a block of cheese.

Stopped at a Chinese buffet.  The food was a bit dry, and two days later the girls and I came down with raging intestinal bugs.  Thank goodness it didn't get the youngest.  Not eating there again.

Got my very first e-reader for Christmas.  It's a Nook Glow Light.  Now I have to learn how to use it.  So far all it does is show me different pictures of trees.  I could use some light reading.  I've had to ingest too many searingly difficult psychology books lately.

Before my insides crashed I was using the video game Walk It Out to help with my insomnia.  Most other exercise games require a modicum of coordination, but I can stomp around this thing bleary-eyed at 3am and actually make some progress.

Here's hoping we all get better in time for New Year's.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Woozy, but still here.

I seem to have stabilized a bit.  My despair's hit an all-new rock bottom, which while lower than ever before looks like it'll hold steady for a bit.  It shouldn't collapse for, oh, a few months at least, and that will give me time to do some infrastructure repair above it.  Most of my physical ailments are gone, with the worst of the remainder being a migraine that's lasted three weeks.  If I don't start phasing soon I'm going to be PISSED.  :P

Sunday, November 24, 2013

11/24 Update: The Psychosomatic Fireworks Get Annoying

Still alive, and rolling my eyes at the psychosomatic fireworks going on inside me.  Ever since this nervous breakdown triggered in the spring my ailments have all turned into blooming drama queens.  My illnesses have become incredibly intense and exaggerated, pushing the definition of "sub-clinical" to the limits.  Suffice to say that the current round of seeing how far complications from the flu can really mess up your period has left me with plenty of source material to write some spectacular gory first person body horror in the incredibly unlikely event that I should get a yen to write such a thing.

It would be a hypochondriac's wet dream, but since I'm not a hypochondriac it's just incredibly irritating.  All the recently uncovered pain and trauma of my childhood is seeping up, out, and looking for ways to manifest.

"All?"  Well, I hope so.  Of course it's quite likely to be just "most" or even "some".  I can hope it's "all" at any rate.

Anyway, blogging will resume when my guts calm down a bit.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Thank you, Miley Cyrus

We did need a new, up-to-date, universally accepted metaphor for "empowerment through the vigorous championing of one's oppressors and their methods of oppression."  All our previous metaphors were dated and falling out of cultural resonance.

And don't belittle irony by calling her "ironic"  Irony is detached.  Desperation is engaged.

Saturday, November 02, 2013


Little Owl, now 5, has been a "Leo the Late Bloomer" type, slow to talk.  There's probably a certain amount of trauma there, as he was talking fine before the botched kidnapping (or whatever it was) right before his second birthday, then stopped talking entirely for years.  He recently started talking again, but it still takes my breath away whenever he starts a conversation.

The other night after we watched the end of one of his favorite cooking shows ("That yummy!  Mama make that!") I said, "Okay, it's time for bed."

He turned to me and said, "You break my heart."

I blinked.  This was new.  "I break your heart?"


"Well if you're that fragile you need to go to bed and stay there."

He frowned and thought a bit, but went to bed.  As I tucked him in he said, "You no break my heart, Mama."

"That's good to know, Sweetie."


And maybe one day when you're a grown man with a child of your own, you'll know how good.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

King Ted Cruz (Seriously)

A hardcore Evangelical Christian Church in Texas has "anointed" Ted Cruz as King.  You read that right.  He's officially King Ted now.

King Ted has been given a mission.  His mission is to bring about "The End Time Transfer of Wealth", i.e., to wage war on all us people who don't belong to that church, steal our money and bring "the spoils of war to the priests" of that church.

Here's video of King Ted's Daddy laying out the plan before the congregation:

And another video where he goes on about how King Ted is going to "take Dominion" over all of us:

And here's the actual anointing of King Ted as Lord and Master over us heathens:

Really.  Read it for yourself.

Honestly, Cruz.  SNL gave up satirizing you over Green Eggs &  Ham, and here you go pulling this one on them.  Will someone think of the poor comedians?

(I'm laughing to keep from throwing up.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Maxine Powell

Maxine Powell died last week. I doubt if any of you knew who she was.

I have no doubt you have admired her workmanship.

In the early 1960s Maxine Powell was hired by an up and coming record company called Motown to run their in-house finishing school. She took raw, young street musicians and taught them how to move like princes and princesses. The graceful, sophisticated sensuality of Martha Reeves, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Smoky Robinson is her doing. She taught them how to perform for the White House and Buckinham Palace while looking sexy as Hell the whole time.

She even taught them how to twerk with style when she found the Supremes practicing the shake:

“ ‘You are protruding the buttocks,’ ” she admonished them. “ ‘Whenever you do a naughty step like the shake, add some class to it. Instead of shaking and acting tough, you should roll your buttocks under and keep smiling all the time.’ Then I showed them. They were shocked that I could do it and at how much better it looked my way.”

I couldn't help remembering Miley Cyrus.  Her recent actions have been defended as simply the way she chooses to play a game that is heavily weighted against women.  Cyrus has chosen a particular way to game the system, but it is far from the only choice available. There are many women who choose to play without appealing to the lowest common denominator of the most puerile members of society.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Women Senators End Shutdown, Save Country

This isn't getting nearly the airplay it should, but apparently the group of Senators who forged the deal that ended the shutdown were almost all women.  John McCain is being given credit, but says, "Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily by women in the Senate."

Male Senators Begrudgingly Admit Women Are Important

Signal boost, please.  People need to know so they can remember in November.


I'm spending a great deal of time lately talking about highly personal matters.  This wasn't what I intended this blog for, so I've created another blog for that.

Whose Face Stares Out My Mirror

I'll post links to it from time to time.  So far I've talked about hydraulics, and the Doctor's Companions.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Adoptee Abuse, i.e. You Know That Thing We're Supposed to Never Talk About? Let's Talk About That.

I found a good therapist this time.  (You'd be amazed how often that isn't the case.  Kind, yes.  Well-trained, yes.  Good?  Not so much.)  He's willing to dig down past all the obvious layers to go after the deeply buried stuff.  Right now we're at the level of dealing with being an abandoned child adopted by child abusers.  It's not a comfortable topic, but it's one that needs to be addressed.

I know it's completely against the stereotype of all adoptive parents being loving adoptive parents.  "Every adopted child is a loved child," the saying goes.  Whenever I hear that I just want to  pat the speaker on top of the head, hand her a Harlequin Romance novel, and make her sit in the corner while the grownups talk .  Because -- let's compare it to marriage, okay?  Is every bride a loved bride -- in a healthy way?  And even if she's loved in a healthy way at the altar, how many are still loved in a healthy way 2, 3, 5, 10 years down the road?

Yeah.  Now, do you honestly think it's any different for adopted children?  What happens when the "babymoon" is over and the adorable baby stops being adorable?


I'm not saying that all adopted children are abused.  My best friend has wonderful, loving adopted parents.  But statistically a greater percentage of adoptees are abused than children who live with their biological parents.

My sister and I were two of those children.

Whatever made the agency think that handing over newborn babies to a petty, domineering, narcissistic, self-loathing woman with the emotional maturity of a 13yo was anything remotely like a good idea was not a good thing.  Greed?  Apathy?  Naivete?  IDK, but if they fed my birthparents a line about me being sent to a loving home, then they lied through their teeth.

Imagine yourself a child and everyone is always telling you how lucky you are that your wonderful adoptive parents rescued you from a terrible beginning and took you in.  Imagine that those same parents belittle you, neglect you, beat you, and worse.

Imagine yourself trying over and over again to get help and no one believing you because those things don't happen to the "lucky" adopted kids with their "wonderful" adoptive parents.

Imagine telling your life story over and over again and every time being told flat out that you must be lying.  Those things don't happen to adopted kids.

Can you even begin to imagine the special kind of Hell this creates for abused adopted children?

Even if you can imagine that, here's the kicker.  Other children can imagine that they were switched at birth, and that somewhere there is someone out there who will rescue them someday.  Abused adoptees don't have that luxury.  We know we were rejected at birth, and that no one is ever going to come and save us.  We have no hope at all.

So we're in pretty bad shape to begin with.  A remarkably high number of men abused adoptees become serial killers:  Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, etc.  The women are more likely to become drug addicts or suicides.

But the icing on the shitcake is our social invisibility.  Nobody wants to hear our stories.  Nobody wants to know that things like this happen.  When we do speak we're told to shut up and take one for the team so that potential birthparents won't be scared off and keep their kids instead of giving them up.

But whose team are we taking one for?  The children, or the abusive adoptive parents?

There's an awful lot there folks would rather you didn't talk about.  So much so that the stopping of it has kept me from being able to talk about anything personal for most of my life.  I don't have much in the way of funny or pleasant anecdotes about my childhood to exchange with people in the process of making friends, and an excess of the sort of soul-searing horrors that should only be shared with good friends -- which leaves me little way of making good friends so I can share those stories.  Talk about a Catch-22.

Monday, October 07, 2013

House Update October 7, 2013

Yesterday we finished the kitchen countertops, after weeks of fitting, sanding, and more sanding down to 800 grit.  ("This is what happens when you ask a jeweler to build a countertop.")  The butcherblock and marble are in place, and even the butcherblock glistens like tiger's eye quartz.  The stove is actually where it's supposed to be for the first time ever, instead of moved aside to allow for work room.  The process of assigning canisters has begun, and so has the process of moving out the 1970s era steel credenza which has served as a temporary kitchen island to make room for building a real kitchen island.  We actually had three people working in the kitchen at the same time last night.  Wow!

My sewing machine is back from the repair shop and in working order for the first time since the 5yo messed it up as a baby.  It doesn't really have a place yet and most of my gear is still at the old house, but plans are in motion.

Between (and sometimes during) Karen-inspired showers yesterday we installed the amplifier on the TV antenna.  It doesn't really pick up any more stations, but at least it keeps working through rainstorms.

I'm feeling really frazzled right now.  The therapist is digging into some old, deep wounds; but at least he's beginning to understand the severity of the problem.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

House Update, Autumnal Equinox, 2013

It's been a year since I posted a  house update.  We've spent most of that time waiting for the rain to stop.  Global warming has pushed the tropical storms north and the rains that used to blanket the Great Plains south.  Guess where they meet?  In the past year we've had two dry weeks, one at the beginning of summer and one at the end.  It rained the other 50.  The apple and hazelnut trees we planted drowned.  It's played hell with farmers too, so don't be surprised if  you see the prices of food and fabric going up.

We haven't done a lot of gardening, although we did have a small vegetable patch.  We found a pick-your-own blueberry farm this summer and picked about a dozen gallons, so we'll be eating blueberries all winter.  The few dry afternoons we had we sent the 14yo out with the push mower; she's starting to develop an impressive set of shoulders.

We spent the winter and the spring fixing up the sheds.  We insulated them, put inner walls in place where needed, painted said walls, and laid down linoleum.  The previous owner left a collection of old bathroom cabinets behind.  We fixed them up, repaired or replaced their drawers, and replaced their tops.  Now the shop has a lower cabinet and the back shed has a wall-length work desk.  At that point we put locks on the doors and hauled down the first load of tools for the shop and my parents' old china cabinet for the house.  The glass in the china cabinet was broken, and it had sat in storage for years.

As summer started we repaired the glass in the china cabinet.  Some of the trim had been left undone in the den last fall as we weren't sure how we wanted it; we made our decisions and finished everything except the pantry door.  We used the scrap from that project to build a back-of-the-closet bookcase for the girl's bedroom.  I suppose in another family it might have been a shoe rack, but here it's a bookcase.

When our late-summer dry week came, we finished painting the outside of the sheds, then dug and poured a concrete foundation for the chickenhouse.  My husband spent hours truing it up to our immense exasperation because he was "sick and tired of walls that aren't plumb!"  Maybe in another six months we'll get another dry week to work on it some more.

Finally it was time to finish the kitchen.

The "retro" faucet that went with our house's "look" broke and we replaced it with a newer model; apparently they no longer know how to make pieces that both look good and last.  We'd saved the kitchen drawers until last so we'd up our experience with them; now we built the drawer boxes and mounted them on drawer slides.  They don't have facings yet so we can't use them, those are waiting on the countertops to be finished.  The scrap from the drawers became a wall-mounted bookcase for small and regular size cookbooks above the corner cabinet, in a space we couldn't do much else with.  Then we painted the kitchen ceiling, hung the little bookcase on the wall, and prepared to do battle with the countertops.

Back when this project started three years ago we couldn't decide between Corian, marble or butcherblock countertops.  Each had their pros and cons.  Finally we went, "Hell with it", and made up our minds to use all three:  the waterproof Corian for the sink countertop, marble inserts for the baking area and a hot dish "landing zone" next to the oven, and butcherblock everywhere else.  Since we weren't using enough of any one of them to do a whole kitchen, we were able to buy seconds of each of them.  The Corian countertop with the sink went up in the first six months.  The other lower cabinets were finished with a 3/4" plywood countertop underlayer in the next six months, and we've used that as interim countertops.  The butcherblock countertops were ordered in the naive hope that the kitchen would be finished "soon" and stuck in storage right behind my office chair two years ago, where they've been cluttering up things ever since.  On the plus side one of the tops was bowed when it arrived, and the factory sent us a free replacement.  Butcherblock is insanely heavy.  We stored the bowed one underneath the others and in the two years it's laid here it's finally straightened out, so when the back porch finally stops being a covered lumber yard we'll turn the extra top into a porch dining table.

Two years later it was finally time to get the marble inserts.  We tried the local granite and marble countertop companies first, only to quickly conclude they didn't have anything worth buying and didn't know what they were doing.  They couldn't picture how we were going to keep the countertops from falling where they were joined.  They're laying stone countertops directly on top of particleboard cabinets with no underlayer and no support in damp environments like kitchens and bathrooms.  I can imagine what they look like after a year or so, and it ain't pretty.  We ended up going to a mortuary company and buying some of their commercial-grade architectural scrap, which they were happy to polish up nicely for us.

We carefully split the butchblock top that's going to form both ends of the baking counter.  Now we're leveling, sanding, glueing everything in place, and sanding "just a little bit more".  We'll finish it when Mr. "It Ain't Done Unless It's Overdone" runs out of things to overdo to it.

Meanwhile we found a sewing machine repair shop to fix the damage the baby did playing with my sewing machine.  Hopefully I'll have it back in time for Halloween costumes, then I can start making curtains.  We're all getting tired of this project.  Now that there's a place for the tools we're itching to get back to metalwork, especially since the 14yo is starting to show an interest in learning it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

First Week of Homeschool High School

The first week of "high school" started with a scream.  Several screams actually.  Brighteyes, now 14, has always been told the two skills she needs to master are math and writing.  She loves math and hates writing.  This hate fused with her early adolescent self-consciousness into a fierce desire to reveal nothing about herself that anyone might for any conceivable reason take a dislike to.  Even a simple assignment like picking out one item  mentioned in a paragraph from a set of four equally valid possibilities had her storming off to her room and slamming the door.

"I don't get it," I said to the door.  "You won't pick one for fear of what it might reveal to someone else about you -- and it's not like anyone outside the family is ever going to see it anyway -- but somehow you manage to pick out your clothes and dress yourself every day."

She opened the door and fixed me with a 14yo version of a withering glare.   "Nobody cares about clothes!"

I sent up a silent prayer of thanks that this child had never set foot in junior high.

Of course the real problem wasn't that particular assignment so much as what it represented.  Writing assignments were slowly but surely getting longer and more involved, and at 14 she could tell that this was going to end in pieces measured not in words but in pages.

Her father and I assured her that we would always love her no matter what she did or wrote, but she still had to do her work.  Late in the second day she eased out and handed me the completed assignment.  Since then it's been "let me get this done as quickly as possible so I never have to do it again."

Brighteyes and Sunshine got to pick some courses this year, and one of the ones they chose was gymnastics.  They're supposed to start at the end of the month.  It's the first time they'll be part of a larger ongoing class, so we'll see what happens.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Health Update August 15, 2013

"Hey, you've got a bone back here," my husband said, poking at my back.


"It was more padded until recently."

"I'm glad you said that.  You know that 10 pounds I lost so quickly?  I've gained all of that back, and another ten pounds.  And I've added an inch to all my measurements."

"You've clearly lost fat in the front and the back, and you stamina is way up, so I'd say you're putting on muscle."

"Yeah, but it's a bit of a bummer to have such an oddball physiology."

"I don't recall you saying that when you're pregnant, you who have 20-minute labors."

"Hey, it's not all bad!  And then there's the other sign my health is improving."

"We could have done without that."

"Eh, better out than in I suppose."

In addition to being a short endomorph with a physiology that runs backwards of "the standard" I also have PTSD.  Whenever I get to feeling really good, my hindbrain serves up a dose of repressed memories.  Since there's a damn good reason they were repressed, this is pretty much the textbook definition of No Fun.  It also takes time and energy away from my exercise regimen.  Not to mention my sleep patterns, emotional stability, appetite, oh just look up the symptoms.  But I'm seeing someone, and even though nothing is resolved yet apparently my subconscious is satisfied with the effort I'm putting into it.

So all in all I'm getting healthier.  It's a long and winding path to health, with nothing straightforward about it.  But it's going somewhere.

Old School Republican Goes Off On Tea Party Republican

The Mississippi Business Journal, a genteel bastion of pro-business sentiment for generations, denounced Mississippi's Tea Party Governor Phil Bryant in a magnificent rant of epic bullshit-calling:

RAY MOSBY: Paranoia strikes deep with Phil Bryant during Neshoba speech“Paranoid state: Transient psychotic disorder in which the main element is a delusion, usually persecutory or grandiose in nature.”
—Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life
ROLLING FORK — The Republican cheerleader camp that the fabled Neshoba County Fair has turned into in recent years is usually a lot more noteworthy when there’s an election coming up, but this year’s may go down as the one when the fellow in charge of this state relaxed, let his guard down and allowed a little bit of something either mighty presumptuous or flat crazy to seep out.

I am reminded of an old family story from my mother’s side. Quite a few years ago in a certain Delta county, a certain lady we’ll call Mrs. Smith, a fine old Southern damsel if ever there were such, had tragically lost her husband and at the funeral, consistent with the equally Southern tradition of nosing into the business of others, some concerned soul asked her what might she do in the wake of that loss.

Unnerved, and with stiff upper lip, Mrs. Smith immediately responded that folks need not worry, in that she could “fully lean upon” her son for any and all of her needs. Regrettably, that self-same young man was known by virtually everyone else in that gathered crowd to be a more than slightly addled-brained, shiftless, naer-do-well, unable to adequately take care of himself, much less another.
There was, as the story goes, a brief period of dead silence following her remark, which was then broken (perhaps not surprisingly) by a relative of mine who turned to the dear lady, took her by the hands and (perhaps not surprisingly) said to her: “Mrs. Smith, in that case, I fear you are leaning on a bent stick.”

That story, I related, in order to suggest this: If a certain speech at the Neshoba County Fair from this state’s highest elected official is any gauge, then the fine people of the great and sovereign state of Mississippi, not unlike that poor, long ago lady, just might also be leaning on a bent stick.

No doubt feeling the need to match his most ambitious Lt. Gov., who recited the entire Republican creed the day before, the governor of this state confirmed my long-held suspicion that he doesn’t get many calls for advice from NASA by saying something, that if taken literally, which I do not, would classify him as clinically delusional.

First, Gov. Phil Bryant said that after focusing on education and creating jobs in his first term of office, he will now concentrate on public safety. Fine. Good. I and the rest of the public are wholeheartedly in favor of safety.

But then the governor said something else. Then the governor said that he has a “divine responsibility” to oppose abortion, re-establish prayer in schools and protect gun ownership. And that’s not fine. And that’s not good.

“Divine responsibility,” governor? Really? Do you think yourself anointed by the Almighty to carry out what you perceive to be conservative Christian policies? Have you alone been “divinely” chosen as the one to do so?

Well, sir, if you do, then I have a constitutional responsibility to tell you something: The Blues Brothers were on “a mission from God,” Gov. Bryant. You aren’t. And you shouldn’t be. And if you really think you are, then you just might be a little bit wacky. Kindly see the highly relevant definition above.

Thinking you have a “divine responsibility” is a little bit like thinking you are Napoleon and a whole lot like what a competent psychiatrist would call a messianic complex.

This isn’t about your stated policy priorities, governor, all of which are wildly popular in this state and hence, most courageous of you to champion. But how dare you, sir, claim to fathom the mind of God and how dare you proclaim yourself the agent to carry out His wishes?

There is very little godly in politics, governor, and nothing divine at all in cheap, populist, political theatrics.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Low Tech, Long Term, and Vintage

"Take anything you want from that table."  The flea market vendor pointed to what looked like a small pile of mangled Christmas decorations in an old tin box.

"May I have the box?"  I had been lusting after vintage tin boxes all over the market but reminding myself I shouldn't splurge.

She dumped the contents out on the table and handed me the box and lid.  I thanked her politely and scurried away before she changed her mind.

On closer examination it turned out to be a mid-1970s recipe box.  This could come in handy.  We'd always kept our recipes on the computer, but with five people wanting to play games use it access had become an issue.  Going back to the old-fashioned way looked like a pretty good idea.  I put some index cards and a good pen inside, and started thinking about what to write down.  We did a lot of improvisational cooking.  Which recipes should be preserved for posterity?  Which version should be written down, and with how many variations?  What notes should go with them about when, where, and how it's served?

My husband, the family candy maker and fry cook, was enthusiastic about the idea.  "I could just take the card around with me!  We could get those clips, y'know...."

"Magnetic office clips come two to a pack.  We can put one on the fridge and one on the vent hood."

"What about the clip on a stem with a stand thingee?  I haven't seen those in ages, do they even make them anymore?"

"That, um -- you mean a menu card holder?  I'm pretty sure they still make those."
"Yeah!  That way you can carry it to whatever work surface you're using, and it's closer to eye level."
So we're entering a time of recipe examination, which of course is another form of self-examination.  It will be interesting to see what pops out.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Dawning of the Age of WHAT?

Last night my 14yo finished The Aquarian Conspiracy, a history of the New Age movement, jumped up, and stalked over to me.  "This book was written in 1980.  It talks about a bunch of things that were going to happen in the next few years.  That was 30 years ago.  They haven't happened yet.  What happened?"

"Frustrating, isn't it?"

"It's been 30 years!  What happened?"

"Honey, you just mentally calculated those 30 years.  I lived them.  Frustrating, isn't it?"

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Think I Just Won My Nerd Merit Badge

I went to see a counselor today, and we figured out my personality is sooooo innately analytical that my PTSD flashbacks take the form of data stream insights.  While other people get visual and auditory hallucinations I get -- meta.  Okay....



If that doesn't earn me some kind of Nerd merit badge I dunno what will.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Sometimes my soul seems like New England soil.  Every freeze and thaw brings up new shards of some deep buried monolith.

(Duh, I know Frost said it first.  Doesn't make the feeling any less intense.)

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Reassessing Videogames

Last fall I got out a Wii for the children.  (Yes, I know, late to the party and all that.  We couldn't really afford one earlier.)  In the ensuing months I've been amazed at how profoundly video games have changed since my husband and I stopped playing them in the late 80s.

I grew up in the 1970s as video and computer games were being invented.  Like all new technology, the video games of my childhood were clunky and difficult to operate.  In a classic example of making a virtue out of a necessity game developers bragged about  how hard they made their games.  And they were very hard.  Early 80s games are among the hardest ever made, a fact that had as much to do with the limited experience and poor "toolkits" of the developers as it did with their actual inclinations.  Video games of the time gave players a challenge for their reflexes, intellect, spatial skills, and stamina; and they almost always ended in defeat.  This idea for what video games should be like went along with a cultural motif common in the popular fiction of the day for what a challenge between man and computer should be like.  The challenge should always be head on, man vs. machine; the computer should always be relentless; and it should always be impossible for the human to win without cheating (hence the early popularity of "cheat codes".)  In a nutshell the relationship was always antagonistic and the life of an avatar was nasty, brutish, and short (at least until you fed the machine another quarter).

I thought video games hadn't changed much.  I was wrong.  You can still find games that exist to kill the player's avatar, with bragging rights earned by how long you stay alive.  But that's not the only kind of game around anymore.  Along with more sophisticated programming techniques has come the idea of the computer as coach, offering accurate but noncritical assessments of the player's ability and gentle, steady encouragement for future progress.  This change has had an immense impact on my reaction to the games.  I'm an abuse survivor.  I'm not used to a steady stream of gentle encouragement, real or virtual.  I try to model it for my children, but I'm not used to receiving it.  It's loosening some old scar tissue -- slowly and gently, the only way to do that task.

Growing up, my family life was like one of those never-ending games that predated Donkey Kong, a relentless series of traps to dodge and pitfalls for the unwary with no victory in sight.  I couldn't understand why anyone would want to turn that experience into a game, when I had to live it only without the catchy music.  Mom was a devotee of unrelenting "constructive criticism", which while highly critical was anything but constructive.  I got encouragement from short-term acquaintances, one-year teachers and the like, but they were about as useful as a disposable raincoat.

There were a handful of people who offered steady, gentle encouragement and stuck around for more than a year.  They appeared to be good people, in occupations that seemed to be devoted to helping others.  After they encouraged me for a time to come to them I approached them with my problem.  "My parents are doing things to me that make me feel bad.  Please help me."

It was the 1970s.  "Child abuse" meant physical marks.  No marks = no abuse.  If a child implied abuse but couldn't show marks the problem had to be not in the child's experience but in the child's perception.  The child was wrong.  The child didn't understand, and needed to be reassured that her parents really loved her -- and in the process assured that her own perception of reality was completely unbalanced.

Either I trusted them and distrusted my own perception of reality or I trusted my own perceptions and distrusted everyone (and I do mean everyone) else.

There are some things I've never been able to do no matter how hard I've tried.  I've never been able to whistle.  I've never been able to disbelieve in God.  And no matter how hard I've tried, and I've tried very, very hard, I've never been able to completely disbelieve in myself.

And so it was that this handful of good, noble, kindly, well-meaning souls with the best of intentions cemented my absolute and unconditional learned distrust* of all of humanity except myself.


I recently found out that therapists are using video games in the treatment of children with mental health problems, especially anxiety.  Makes sense to me.

*I said "learned distrust".  I'm an innately trusting person, it bubbles up within me no matter the circumstances.  But sometimes it takes a very long time to seep through the cement of bad experiences.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Power Women Update

I created a Pinterest board celebrating active plus-sized women hoping I could find (with luck!) 50 pictures.  Instead I've found over 360.  Wow!

Power Women: Plus Size Fitness Role Models

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is that supposed to be wrong?

Nate Silver is a mathematician for the New York Times known for his remarkably accurate election poll predictions, far better than any previously seen in the world of poll predicting.  Because of his accuracy he's an unusually controversial figure for the typically staid world of mathematicians (except for those who work in climate science).  Recently the co-editors of Politico accused Silver of "trying to use numbers to prove stuff".  Oh my stars and garters, can you imagine that?

A mathematician.

Using numbers to prove stuff.

Oh, the horror!

I guess he was supposed to use pigeon entrails instead?  Or tea leaves?

Why the next thing you know cooks will be using food, musicians using notes, and writers using *gasp* words!   Where will the madness end?

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Had a traumatic cognitive breakthrough-type thing last month.  Useful in the long run, stressful in the short.  Completely physically and emotionally exhausted right now.  Trying to write about it.  That'll be a long post.  Have a series of short posts to get out of the way first, to clear the decks.  Hopefully before I start posting those I'll have regained the ability to type complete sentences.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pretty Frazzled Right Now

Not bad but harried.  Will post more when circumstances (and I) calm down.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pinning Down a Dream

For about ten years I've been longing for a website that would collect information on plus size athletes, dancers, and fitness instructors.  I get so tired of seeing stupid people spout off about how anyone who is plus sized must be out of shape, and I wanted one link I could use to refute their misconceptions.  So I made one on Pinterest.  Introducing Power Women: Plus Size Fitness Role Models.

Please let me know if there's someone I should include.  I may copy the whole thing over to Tumblr for greater exposure, but I'm not sure.  What do y'all think?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Timeline

April 19, 1775 -- "The shot heard round the world" begins the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the American Revolution.  Commemorated in Maine and Massachusetts on the third  as Patriot's Day with the holding of baseball games in Fenway Park and the running of the Boston Marathon.  Also commemorated by Tea Partiers, "Patriot" groups, and white supremacists in less wholesome ways.

April 20, 1889 -- Birth date of Adolf Hitler.  Commemorated by white supremacists and other pond scum.  In America these commemorations are often combined with Patriot's Day.

April 15, 1955 -- Income tax returns are set as due annually on this date or the nearest next business day for most people living in America.  Protested by anti-government groups and other pond scum.

April 19, 1985 -- FBI raids the compound of The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) in Arkansas, a reactionary white supremacist Christian group wanted in connection with several murders with no loss of life on their major holiday, the 210th anniversary of "the shot heard round the world".

April 19, 1993 -- FBI raids the compound of the Branch Davidians, another reactionary Christian group with outstanding arrest warrants, hoping to recreate their success with the CSA.  Instead, 76 adults and children die.  Both raids are commemorated by other reactionaries around the country.

April 19, 1995 -- Right-wing nutcase Timothy McVeigh bombs the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in retaliation for the Branch Davidian raid.  The most destructive terrorist act on American soil until 9/11, it kills 168 adults and children.

April 20, 1999 -- Junior right-wing nutcases Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 12 children, a teacher, and themselves at Columbine High School in an attempt to outdo Timothy McVeigh.  It's the worst American public school massacre -- until this winter.

April 16, 2007 -- Unable to handle stress and the "frightening prospect" of being "turned out into the world of work, finances, responsibilities, and a family," (according to the official review) college nutcase Seung-Hui Cho kills 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech in the worst massacre at an American college in modern times.  No one knows if he was commemorating Patriot's Day or just panicking over the end of the school year.

April 15, 2013 -- The Boston Marathon Massacre.

Yo.  You think we could maybe have a serious discussion on domestic terrorism in this country?  Or is everyone gonna stuff their heads in the sand and act all shocked, shocked, SHOCKED the next time blood flows in the third week of April?

In 2014 Patriot's Day falls on April 21.  Mark your calendar.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Preacher Wants to Enslave Non-Christians


In a recently posted You Tube sermon, the pastor of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, Dr. Joe Morecraft says in a Biblical society, the godly must own “the fool who despises God’s wisdom” because it’s the only way to keep those with a “slave mentality” from ruining other people’s families.
Based on Proverbs 11:29, Morecraft makes a case for Biblically justified enslavement of a man who does not “trust in Christ” since slavery is the only way to “keep a fool under wraps.”
The dominionist pastor interprets the Proverb to predict that in a Christian theocracy, an unbeliever will “lose his family, his property, and his freedom,” and “his energies, talents and life will not be used as he himself pleases, but in the service of wise people who work hard to benefit the community.”
“Put him in somebody’s service where they can watch over him and make him do right even though he doesn’t want to do it.”
According to Pastor Morecraft, the consequences of being a “foolish person who is unwilling to live by the Word of God” is to “become a slave of somebody who is godly and who is wise.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coming Up For Air

The family's been down with a seasonal bug.  Regular Life (TM) will resume at some later date.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Grand Bargain

Brighteyes, my 13 3/4-year old is as tall as I am.  We tease her about how long she's been waiting for that to happen.

She and her 11-year old sister Sunshine have been drooling over bright, colorful, expensive workout clothes, so after church yesterday we drove to the JCPenney outlet store in Starkville where I found them two pair of capri pants each, an identical set of two-toned pants and a similar-but-not-identical set of solid-colored pants.

The girls wear the same sizes, so everything we bought them could fit each girl.  Such is the discrepancy in sizing that one set was a "small" and the other set a "large" but they all fit the same.

I found a solid pair of hot pink capri pants that both girls loved and that fit them both, but the only other pants in their size (and my price range) were black.  I bought both.

We had the following conversation in the car.

Me:  We've got a pair of pink pants and a pair of black pants.  Who wants the pink ones?

Chorus:  Me!

Brighteyes washes the dishes and Sunshine dries them and puts them up.

Me:  Okay, who's willing to both wash and put up the dishes for a week for the pink pants?

Chorus:  Me!

Me:  How about two weeks?

Sunshine:  Me!

Dad:  A bidding war.

Me:  Brighteyes?

Brighteyes:  She'll flood the kitchen like she did last time.

Me:  If she does, she'll forfeit the pants and they'll go to you.

Dad:  After you wash and put up the dishes for a week.

Me:  Is that fair?  Everyone agree to that?

Chorus:  ...yeah....

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fitness Update February, 2013

My weak knee is the hard limit on my exercising right now; I can only add on as much as it will put up with.  I'm trying to keep it at the level where it grumbles in the afternoon but not when I go to bed.  I'm doing strength training three days a week, cardio four days a week, and yoga daily for the cool-down.

After seven weeks with Wii Fit Plus I've almost maxed out parts of it while barely scratching other parts.  WFP is divided into four parts:  yoga, strength, cardio ("aerobics") and balance.  The aerobics weren't getting my heart rate up enough, so I started using Gold's Gym Dance Workout instead.  I'm doing 10 - 15 minutes of that for a warmup when I do strength training and 45 minutes when I do cardio.  All it does is cardio and some rhythm, though.  But it does have a 2-player mode, so when the girls get up in time to exercise with me I can do about 15 minutes worth with each of them.

The rest of WFP has given me a conundrum.  I've maxed out all the yoga and strength workouts that don't involve balance while showing little improvement on the balance games.  The game is obviously calibrated for someone a lot smaller than I am.  I need more strength training than I'm getting there.

The best strength training program for the Wii is EA Sports Active 2.  The just-as-good-but-only-a-quarter-of-the-p
rice program is NFL Training Camp.  Guess which one I got?  Right, the cheap one.  The testosterone gets a bit whiffy, but I can put up with that for the price.  It includes special monitors, although those present a problem when doing floor work.  The darn machine can't read though the wood table it's sitting on.

The program ("game" isn't really appropriate) is set up to use with the included resistance band, which is the flimsiest I've ever seen.  I've never owned a resistance band you can see daylight through before.  It's hilarious to watch these (literally) hulking NFL avatars supposedly straining to use something I could snap with my fingers.  But I can use my own bands and weights instead.  Yes, I know I can use my own bands and weights any time I want to, but it's nice to have someone notice what I'm doing, even if it's a virtual "someone".  The next problem is figuring out how to hold a hand weight and a Wii remote at the same time.  15 pounds of steel vs. 2 ounces of expensive plastic and electronics -- yeah, I know which one I'd bet on surviving.  Maybe I can rig up a sling with the wrist strap and hair bands....

The computer-generated 10-15 minute (which always turns out to be 17 1/2 minutes) "easy" program is enough for my knee, but I'm thinking about creating my own upper-body and core workout to do afterwards.

To my surprise, I did notice that I had lost some weight the other day -- in my shoulder and upper arms, about as far as can be from the hips and thighs where I need to lose weight.   I've read that endomorphs lose weight from the top down, but this is ridiculous.  At this rate my pants size will go down in time for the next presidential election....

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Owl's First Journal

Owl (4) has finished the letters section of his preschool workbook.  The next morning he got out a sheet of typing paper and started writing letters on it.  He was thrilled when I pulled out a preschool writing tablet and immediately copied out the alphabet.  His parents are thrilled, period.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Science of Football

Here's a fun way to teach basic physics:  Science of  NFL Football videos.  Let's hear it for Sir Isaac Newton.

Monday, January 28, 2013

An Unexpectedly Educational Stop

On the way back from church yesterday we stopped for dinner at Luigi's Family Restaurant in Louisville, which turned out to be a diner.  (That wasn't clear from the outside.)  We took the opportunity to introduce the girls to two of their offerings -- a "meat and three" and a Chick tract.  They weren't impressed with either, although the meal was at least comprehensible.  They thought the Chick tract was weird and stupid.   They far preferred Fred Van Lente's parody and with good reason.  Van Lente's a very funny writer.  I miss his work on Marvel Adventures.

We won't be going back to the diner, though.  Chick tracts insult 99.9% of the human race and God as well.  Jack's going to have some explaining to do on Judgement Day.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I started using Wii Fit Plus a month ago, and Gold's Gym Dance two weeks ago.  As of one month later I've lost 6.7 pounds.

I'm sure it's a mistake, although I don't see how it could be.  Or maybe it's simply the super-easy part and now things are going to get incredibly difficult.

Well, dang.  I don't have much of a problem with pessimism and poor self image, do I? /sarcasm

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fitness Update

I first wrote about my body issues and fitness a year ago.  Since then the tendons in my knee have largely healed.  In Fall 2011 a steep flight of stairs left me in pain for weeks.  Last summer I could hike (with frequent stops) for two days before it would give out.  Now I can do an hour or so of moderate exercise a day with it only twinging.  Of course that leg is week and I'm still hauling around my pregnancy weight, but I can work on those things now.

We got Wii Fit Plus for Christmas.  Wow, feedback, what a novel concept!  Apparently I'm not nearly as out of shape as I thought I was, although I haven't tried most of the exercises that involve standing on one leg.  The yoga and strength training segments are good, but  the cardio's pretty light.  I got Gold's Gym Dance Workout, and the Latin Dance and "cardio boxing" handle the cardio segments well.  I'd prefer bellydancing, but I can see where that would be difficult for the Wiimote to pick up.  Since the goal of bellydancing is to isolate movements to one part of the body, you'd have to adorn yourself with motion sensors like a Christmas tree.

Brighteyes likes the Latin Dance segments.  Sunshine prefers Shaun White Snowboarding.  Owl likes to beat me at the 2-player race from Wii Fit Plus (their algorithm gives everyone the same stride length, so it's how fast you can pitter-patter that counts).

The weight loss chatter hasn't been nearly as triggery as I feared, although apparently I accidentally turned off a lot of that feature in WFP.  It's nice to see that program makers have learned to turn it down.  They weren't telling us anything we didn't know already.