What's on my mind.

29 March 2007

Political Ramblings

The other day I watched a clip of Bill Maher dissing the Pres (and his cronies) for their outing of Plame. His main premise, IMHO, being that Plame is a true patriot (despite apparently not blindly supporting the President or perhaps because of that) and outing her was an inherently unpatriotic act. I think Maher's (or anyone else's) use of free speech to question the Pres and his Administration is a patriotic act. We must have an informed public in order to have a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people (Pres. Lincoln)." Questions are a very good way to find out what is going on, why, and what the right response is. Whether they are direct questions or commentaries, anything that makes someone think about current issues helps our democracy and our country.

This brought up another 'patriotism' argument from a couple years ago. One that still gets me upset. It falls into the category of issues where the wrong aspect of the issue was focused on, at least in most of the media.

"The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth". How did this group manage to smear the reputation of an individual who volunteered for the Army, during a war he wasn't sure about knowing he would go to Vietnam while lending support to an individual who volunteered to protect Texas (from Africanized bees?) and may or may not have shown up for duty and didn't stay in flight readiness status? It may be cliche but it is true - sometimes the difference between a Band-Aid and a body bag is half an inch; whatever else you think of Kerry, he fought. Bush didn't show up for his medical exam and so couldn't fly and there by wasted the tax payer's money that was used to train him.

A current example of this category is the controversy surrounding the firing of the US attorneys. While it is unusual for them to be fired mid-term, they are political appointees and serve at the will of the President. However, the prosecutor's replacements will be confirmed by the Senate (part of that whole checks and balances thing). Or will they. A change in the law, as part of the PATRIOT Act, means that they can serve INDEFINITELY WITHOUT CONFIRMATION. Previously they had to be confirmed within 60 days (I think that's the right time limit). All Bush has to do is prevent confirmation hearings and his guys are in with no check on his power. Bush can appoint someone he likes but is unconfirmable due to extreme politics and the appoint may stand. We have "checks and balances" for a reason.

Singing in Public

I now know why Mom enjoyed signing along to the muzak at the store. Because it annoyed me.

A few days ago I went to IHOP with the folks and baby Sis. Sis was complaining about the music we, the adults, like. Started out complaining about "40s music", i.e. Big Band jazz, and then said something about that "O-de O-de Oh" song. At first I was completely confused and then it hit me the goatherd song from The Sound of Music. So, of course, I said "do you mean?" and started singing. She started saying "no", "stop", and other cries of general anguish. As I opened the door she asked that I please not sing in the parking lot or restaurant. So I sang right up until my head went out the door, then leaned back in picking right back up. I repeated this action several times to her horror.

It was GREAT.

Now I understand that when it seemed like my parents were doing something just to annoy me, they were. One of the secret pleasures of parenthood.

27 March 2007

Personal Question from the Weekend

This was inspired by something I read this weekend, but it needed its own entry so it didn’t make Odds and Ends. I’m writing this because my experience was very different than the one in a blog entry (by Honu-girl) I ran across about the following question (from Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman):

Imagine you could go back to the age of five and relive the rest of your life, knowing everything that you know now. You will reexperience your entire adolescence with both the cognitive ability of an adult and the memories of everything you’ve learned from having lived your life previously. Would you lose your virginity earlier or later than you did the first time around (and by how many years)?

First off, I had pretty much the opposite an experience of Honu-girl when losing my virginity. My boyfriend and I had been dating for several years and were planning on getting married and both ready and willing that night. Very early in our relationship, I had been the one more ready for “make out” activities than he. I think a lot of his hesitation was pure surprise that I, a beautiful, intelligent, and amazing girl (in his opinion, at the time), would want to do such things with him. Now I will not sit here and try to tell you that we were really virgins up until that night. We had done all kinds of fun things of the heavy petting/dry humping type, and did them as often as our long-distance relationship would allow. And yet, we didn’t really go through a sex-only stage; we always talked as much as anything else. Many of these activities would violate the spirit of abstinence pledge while not violating the letter of such a pledge.

Neither of us was ready, early in the relationship, for the emotional impact of sex and we knew it. We worked our way there together.

But the wait for penile penetration had as much to do with fear of pregnancy as anything else. A baby would start to cry in the back of my head if we got to close. One night it would have been so easy – physically that touch felt so right, emotionally too, but so wrong at the same time I just about jump out of my skin. It kind of scared me (and him) that we almost did something as stupid as unprotected sex.

See, we had both paid attention in our Biology classes when birth control was discussed. Condoms fail 15% of the time – not good enough for my life plans (or his). (They are more than 85% effective for preventing pregnancy because a woman doesn’t always get pregnant. Unprotected sex is like a 40% effective form of birth control according to the handout we got.) For me, I needed to be on the pill and was not about to talk to my doctor or mother at that point. Ironically enough, my mother assumed we needed birth control long before we actually did (and yet never asked me about it). She was so relieved when, after my first OB/GYN visit, I started the pill. Next time I visited him, we did it. I was twenty. It was exciting and I was a bit nervous but not about what we were doing, excited nervous. (Would his parents hear? Would it hurt much? ...)

Being able to talk about IT is, I think, the biggest indicator of readiness. Being OK with what you are doing to the point of being able to talk to one’s partner, one’s friends, one’s parents (maybe not in detail) about sex is important to me. If one can’t get beyond “I want to have sex with you” to more detailed discussions about what one likes and doesn’t like, birth control, etc. than I’m not sure that person is ready, either in general or in that relationship.

To make a long story short – There are a lot of other things I would do differently but I think I’d lose my viginity at about the same, assuming everything else was th same. Maybe for spite not actually give IT up - a little proactive revenge. Realistically, maybe, a little earlier by a year, year and a half, mostly because of all the other things I would have done differently.

26 March 2007

Weekend Odds and Ends

So many things from this weekend.

My baby sister (8yrs old) was a pretty good camper. Even if she thought she was going to DIE on our light hike of just over an hour. She is not afraid of snakes. She is still unreasonably afraid of spiders and their webs. She did not think she was going to die without TV, but she still got bored easily (“what are we going to do now?”)

My dog seems to be rather rigid about where things are suppose to happen. Sitting and sleeping are done at home or, maybe and briefly, at Grandma’s house – not in a tent in the woods. Even if Mommy is there and ignoring my suggestions that it is time to leave. Besides, there were all kinds of critters out there. Thankfully she’s not much of a barker.

American Girl dolls. Read a horrible story here, One Of Those Horrible Moms, about what happened to a little girl at their beauty salon. For shame! I find some of the story almost unbelievable and then I remember some of the heartless and thoughtless things I have witnessed and think – I can see that happening. To the people who asked why didn’t the mother call and check that the daughter could bring another doll – she checked the website! She shouldn’t have to also call to answer that question, not in this day and age. Do I think all Amer. Girl dolls should be burned? No. Do I think one should never buy another Amer. Girl product? Maybe.

My baby sister owns two. I couldn’t believe Mom spent that much on a doll but she had her reasons. Sis (still debating name use in my blog, just as awkward for me to write as for you to read) had a baby doll (approx. right size and weight) from a local doll shop where one could build a doll. The baby has brown hair (imagine a BAD toupee on a baby) and brown eyes. Later Mom was looking for other brown hair/brown eyed dolls and Sis had learned about Amer. Girl dolls and how wonderful they are. She wanted one. As Mom continued to find little girl dolls she found it very difficult to find br/br. At least with Caucasoid skin tones, although most have Caucasoid features (but that’s a whole ‘nother entry). Then Mom learned that on Amer. Girl’s website you can pick the hair, eye color, and skin color for your doll. She got to buy a doll that looks similar to Sis. She later bought a friend for the first, as well as a matching outfit for Sis and a dog and cat for the dolls. My baby sister was never lead to think that she couldn’t get her doll dirty because it was too expensive or anything along those lines. She even gave the first a haircut, making it easy to tell the two apart, when she got the second, because Clara has shorter hair. Sis has never thought her dolls were more special or better than any others, but then we, as a family, wouldn’t teach her that.

IMHO, these dolls, along with many others, have an advantage over Barbie and her kind in that they are girls, not women. Barbie and other “fashion” dolls tend to have unreasonable proportions. I admit that I haven’t paid a whole lot attention to the new Barbie and yes Barbie has been everything from Malibu heiress (the mansion and convertible?) to teacher to astronaut but she’s done all that while having boobs that would give a woman back problems. (You should have heard Sis’s description of Barbie’s figure last night – classic.) Are girls going to figure out what society thinks is beautiful without Barbies? Yes. Do these kinds of fashion dolls make girls have body image problems? No, but why encourage them to think that being a kid isn’t the ideal (acting their age is good, acting grown up isn’t).

Just discovered something weird. The Blogger spell checker doesn't know some contractions.

23 March 2007

Anybody Seen Noah?

A comment on Whatever sent me to look at the flood map for where I live. As I'd already figured out, Noah will be floating by before my house floods. Well, maybe my house will flood but my parents live on top of the hill so the animals and I can just walk over there.

My house (and my parents for that matter) is in a X zone. On the map there are two X zones. Definition one is "areas of 500-year flood; areas of 100-year flood with average depths of less than 1 foot or with drainage areas less than 1 square mile; and areas protected by levees from 100-year floods." Definition two is "areas determined to be outside 500-year floodplain. I'm definitely not behind a levee; any of the others could apply but I don't think I live in a 100-year floodplain. What I found most interesting was the existence of two definitions for zone X.

The viewable map is a scan of a black and white map. Therefore, I choose to assume there is some stippling or light grey color, not picked up by the scanner, that would show which of the two zone Xs an area is, but why not pick another letter for one of them. As one who makes maps as part of my job, this is bad map making. I was taught to make labels, names, colors, etc. distinct. At least as much as possible, sometimes historical uses or names limit one. I was also taught to keep in mind reproducibility and the possibility that a color map may be printed B&W. It isn't possible to be perfect (too many dash patterns can make one go crazy!) and I don't know how old the actual map is (possibly before color printing or scanning was economic). Maybe the two zone Xs have always been used. If so shame on flood mappers of old (for starting this) and new (for continuing). Yes, in the long run the difference is very small between the designations. But it still an iffy choice.

21 March 2007

Monday Photo Shoot

Taken a photo that's a little dark? Perfect:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: It's Night! Take a picture. Naturally, taking a picture inside at night (i.e., where it's well lit and indistinguishable from day) won't do; take a picture that captures some of the quality of the night time. Also: No sunset photos. We'll save them up to do another time.

I have some shots of racoons eating left over dog and cat food but they're only on paper. So here's last night's dinner. Q-tip was very punctual. Stubby came running when I called. Irish, I think, knew I wanted pictures and so decided to be fashionably late.

If you are wondering - I feed them on the scratching/perching tower to slow down the dogs. It used to sit higher but my dog pushed the leaning tower of cat chow over. I could stack the storage tubs back up but it would last about 5 minutes after I let her out. Honey can reach about half the food where it sits now and doesn't go out until early morning. I figure she can't get too fat on half the leftovers.

20 March 2007

It looks like I'm getting a roommate. My former Little Sister (practically part of the family) is finally (Thank God) leaving her husband. Well, I'm on the phone with her as I type and she says I may see her tonight. She did leave him once about a year ago for half a day. But this time she seems tired of it all. Tired of trying. Tired of waiting for him. Tired of being alone. Tired of being controlled. Just tired.

I hate that it has taken 3 years but I am so glad she (fingers crossed) is leaving. She isn't definitely leaving tonight (sometimes her slightly stream-of-conscience monologues can be hard to follow) but she's not staying long. She doesn't want to pack before he gets home. (An attempt at preventing some arguing.) But if things start to get ugly (verbally) she gone with the clothes on her back. Otherwise, as far as I can tell, she'll pack tomorrow.

It is hard to explain how happy I am. One of the hardest things I've had to watch in my 30-yrs is her marring him. And staying. And going back. Kids have to make some mistakes on their own and the rest of us can just watch.

Damn her absent father! If he'd just shown what a real man was like, instead of driving up once every few months to buy her stuff. Maybe then she'd done a little better, or stood up sooner. I know it's really more complicated than that. (But he is such an easy target.)

16 March 2007

Think only conservatives are willing to sacrifice?

idealistlefty wrote:Just like you don’t often hear Liberal and Military Member/Military Spouse strung together.

My Dad has been driving my car lately and I have some fairly liberal bumper stickers (although I don't have "No one died when Clinton lied" on there and he had that on the truck!) scattered on the back. I've tried to stay away from very topical ones. The other day, when he was picking my sister up after school, a man (grandfatherish looking) got out, looked at the my bumper, and sniffed loudly. Apparently he disagreed with the sentiments. His license plate was one of the vet or ret. mil. vanity plates. Now I wish I had Dad '50 yr member of USAA' sticker on my car, too.

Why is it that in America it is assumed that if you're in the military you are conservative or if you're liberal you're anti-military? I could not be prouder of Dad and USAF career (unless he actually had been a pilot, that'd be cool). I also couldn't be prouder of our current military and its members.

To all military service member current and past: Thank you.

13 March 2007

Monday photo shoot

Post any winter photos you didn't get around to posting earlier. Because winter is going, going, gone, baby. Think of it as a last salute.

Well I haven't posted many pictures at all but here are a few I took in NC after Christmas. We were staying at the Fort Fisher USAF recreation area (Dad's retired AF), just south of Wilmington (where a sis and bro live). The weather was fantastic. Sunny most days and warm enough to walk barefoot without the toes going numb - as long as you didn't let them get wet!

Sorry the x-mas lights (in Kure Beach) are fuzzy, it's hard to stand still long enough to get the pic.

I love these trees. The shapes they make - beautiful. These are at Fort Fisher park/beach.

At first I thought the bird (some kind of tern??) was simply standing on one leg, then as I watched him I realized he only has one leg. Kinda cool.

12 March 2007

If God has a "plan" and we have no free will, can there be a hell? If we are just doing what God set before than how can he punish those who don't live by His rules. We're all, by definition, living by His rules if we don't have free will.

And what would the point of watching us be? Unless He's one of those writers who isn't sure exactly where a story is going when he started it. But that doesn't sound very omniscient.

On a completely different note - Spring Break good or bad?
Parking on campus - awesome
Lack of access to snack machine w/fav choco - bad
no traffic - good
hardly a soul in sight - neutral
no houskeeping - pain in rear

More on predestination later. Now I will go enjoy my almost traffic-nightmare free drive home.

07 March 2007

Better Than Einstsein!!!!

OK, now I'm only 1% stoopid. I used dictionary.com to learn a new word today. And I figured out how to find which question I missed!

I'm the next Einstein!

Or so they say at stupidtester.com.

How'd Scalzi know he missed the rainbow question? I want to know what it was that makes me 2% stupid. Remember read carefully and when in doubt say the answer in a complete sentence. Not out loud - to yourself, don't anyone thinking you're crazy as well as stoopid!

StupidTester.com says I'm 2% Stupid! How stupid are you? Click Here!

05 March 2007

A side trip from yesterday's Whatever post on marriage and class. A couple of commenter's wrote about college loan debt as a disincentive to get married.

Far be it for me to discourage anyone from pursuing higher education. I love learning and school and wish everyone did. Not everyone does.

I had one class in particular with someone who said "D is for diploma" (real quote, not paraphrasing, not just an attitude) and many classes with many other students with that attitude. I felt like they were wasting their time and someone's money (often not their own). There are a lot of people in college to get a diploma, rather than an education, because they need it to get a job - a job that will pay for the life they want.

Blame it on the GI-bill, degree inflation exists. And this means, sometimes, a degree doesn't mean what it used to (MBAs are becoming a dime a dozen). Lots of jobs that one used to be able to get or at least work up to with a HS diploma now require an AA or BA/BS, particularly in business. One of my brothers has a good job that pays well but he had to work his way up. His sons want to start out at the same standard of living (hell, the rest of the family does, too) and so they have to get college degrees (one is a business major, the other doesn't know yet). Both of my nephews have struggled with the freedom and responsibilities, and the "why?", of college. The older of the two finally realized when another of my nephews starting interviewing for $40K jobs that he better finish up or he'll be working to pay the rent forever.

College isn't for everyone (certainly not all 18-yr olds) and everyone doesn't need to go to college.

I don't think we should discourage kids from continuing their education or do away with student loans. I believe in making education (pre-K through grad school) more accessible. But I think we need to look at the difference between job training and education - between jumping through hoops and learning.

02 March 2007

Stubborn Childish Ways

A little navel-gazing this morning. While talking to Mom last night she brings up my depression. She's worried about me. I need to see a shrink and have my meds evaluated. I need to get out of the house... You get the picture. The problem isn't that I don't agree with her, it's just that every time she starts in on this it makes me not want to do it. It is a horribly childish, contrary, idiotic, and non-helpful attitude but I don't want her to be right. Or tell me what to do (I'm 30 for God's sake). I don't want her to worry. Half of my life is spent trying to keep her from worrying about me. She has enough to worry about with my siblings (not all, just a few), Dad, and her own health.

I've been trying to keep her from worrying since I was little and thought the reason she hid and cried in the closet was my fault. The grown-up in me knows it wasn't; the 7-yr old in me can't be convinced otherwise. It's a hopeless cause, I know. Mothers worry, that is the way it is. But still I try. I don't tell her much because that's the only way to keep worrying info from her. That also means the one few people who has known me "forever", doesn't know me.

She also brought up my weight. "If I keep gaining weight, it will get in the way of doing some of the things I want to do." In other words, I will never find a man if I don't lose weight. Thanks Mom, that's a boost to the self-esteem. I don't already feel bad enough about how I look and my chances with the opposite sex.

And she wonders why I don't come over for dinner very often.

01 March 2007


Finally! A template where I could change all the colors I wanted to. I liked couple of others but I couldn't chage some of the colors (actually there were images in the template preventing this). Fuess I'll have to buff up on my HTML and write my own. That'll show them.