winter

winter

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One month down, eleven to go.

It's been a little while since I posted in here. Part of the reason why I have been delinquent in my posting is because I've been rather busy trying to get the chaos of the house under some semblance of order. Part of the reason is the questionable fun of motherhood and the true fun of motherhood (puking babies are the former, walking babies chasing falling leave are the latter). And finally, I've been unsure what to post here that would not be damning. It's been ... difficult and I have been giving it a lot of thought.

Nothing hidden on the Internet can say hidden forever. I can only hide my identity so well before I am ferreted out by some truly diligent soul. There are legal ramifications of my nervous breakdown that I hadn't expected in a million years. Ramifications that force me to consider what to write down where and who I talk to about what. And I don't like it.

Mental illness is not a crime. Asking for help when struggling with mental illness is not a criminal act. I, however, am being treated like a criminal. Sure, you can say that all of the constraints that I am under are for the sake of protecting the children but it's a lie. Why is it a lie? Because of one simple fact, the entire case against me is built upon a tissue of lies, cherry-picking evidence for the most alarming details, and conveniently omitted facts. This is how the government operates, folks.

I made the mistake that my good friend did and here I am caught up in the gears of this thing. I'm told that because large sections of the stuff I'm dealing with are boiler-plate details, not anything personal, that I should be thankful that is all I have to deal with. I'm sorry, but I can not swallow my outrage and hold still for the proceedings while they have me over a barrel, and then say 'Thank you, sir, may I have another?'

Mental illness should be treated like any other illness. Just because a person is ill doesn't mean they are neglecting their children. It doesn't necessarily make them a danger to their family and loved ones. When medication is working correctly and all therapeutic avenues are clearly progressing as they should be, there is no reason to black ball the person who is ill. Yet, here I am, being the person with the Black Spot and all for the sake of what, the appeasement of the sense of horror that was felt by some people who were squeamish in the face of suicidal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If that little glimpse into my world made them quail in terror, they should try living it. They should try dealing with the pain of the past and the effort it take everyday to get thru it. Everyday, I have the silent prayer that my PTSD will not rear it's ugly head. Everyday, I have the silent prayer that my depression will not rob me of the joy of my children's early childhood. Everyday, I struggle forward and do my damnedest to keep these proverbial monsters from overshadowing my family. I can't afford to have a bad flashback because it will scare my children.

Now, I can't afford to have a bad flashback because these lily liveried bureaucrats will see it as evidence that I am incapacitated in some fashion and unable to care for my children. I have been dealing with this from before my kids were born. I was a productive and reasonable member of society prior to this nervous breakdown. I was a productive and reasonable member of society prior to having children. Now, I'm being told that I am a danger but not enough of a danger to lock away. That kind of back handed bullshit I grew up with, it hurts like hell. I'm not going to tolerate it anymore.

I'll mind my Ps and Qs. I'll bide my time. Justice is on my side and when it is time, I'm going to show these people just how big of a mistake it was to piss in my cornflakes.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Update

For a brief time, I suppose I could say that I truly did lose my mind. A few weeks ago, I got home from an approximately month long stay at the hospital for a nervous breakdown. I'm doing much better and my medications are helping a lot. It was, however, one of the most terrifying experiences I've ever had in my life. I'm not exactly of a mind to talk about it here, but it is enough to say that the Psych ward was the exact opposite of what I expected and I obviously survived the experience.

One of the results of my stay at the hospital was an almost literal explosion of artwork. I'm finishing projects left and right even as I have been working on filling two books with sketches. I have decided to start selling my art work on Etsy and I will be posting links to it. I could argue that I have acquired a new totem as well - the butterfly. The butterfly, the phoenix, the cat, and the raven were all quite present for me as I was working thru my efforts at the hospital.

Images of the four popped up quite frequently and I found myself contemplating them very often. The butterfly and the phoenix are symbols of radical transformation. The cat is a symbol of independence, healing, and protection. The raven is a symbol of introspection, courage, and self-knowledge. The four, together, represent a great deal of who and what I am. Additional meanings, as I read about them, have been most illuminating.

I suspect as time goes on, I'm going to find more and more about these totems to be true about the situation I've been living in. Interestingly, the cat is a symbol of the Norse goddess Freja, who has been quite present in my dreams, as well as of Frigga. The raven represents Odin, who has been very present as well. I'm not entirely sure why I have been having so many dreams focused upon the Teutonic aspect of my heritage.

I think it may be because I'm in the midst of redefining how I approach my heritage. I am redefining my relationship with my side of the extended family and how I approach my memories. It has been difficult but it has also been necessary, thus I do so. I'm not sure what else to add. I'll probably think of more later.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Project notes, ramblings, etc.

I've been busy with fiber recently. I haven't spun up any new yarn, though I do have some wool that I'm in the midst of carding. The scarf that I'm knitting for Beloved is progressing well. The same is true for the blanket that I'm making for a friend of mine. It may be done before September, thus freeing up time to make some different items for Yule then I was considering.

I made up a 'prayer shawl' for myself last month. It was an effort to soothe my anxiety and I suppose it did to some good. When I wear or hold it, it does help ease my anxiety. It is something that I've decided I'm going to be wearing when I meditate, which I really do need to do more often. I just finished a second one for a friend of mine's mother. It's done up in the lovely purple yarn that my Mother-In-Law gave me for Mother's day. I still have a bunch of that yarn that needs to be wound up into balls. I think I used about a third of what she gave me. I'm undecided for what to do with the rest of that lavender colored yarn, but I'll figure something out. I'm definately going to make something for myself with it, however.

And then there's the 'art' piece that I'm making. I have some red lace weight cotton thread that I'm crocheting up into a very large granny square. It is to be a wall hanging. At the top and bottom will be dowels to hold it straight. Along the bottom will also be tassels, I'm undecided if they're going to be in red as well or if there will be beads. I'm considering if I want to weave a bit of gold colored thread into this when it is finished or not. I do know that I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it when it is done.

I started work on this and knew already what the project was going to be titled: Penelope. The myth of the Odyssey has been coming to mind a lot over the last several months as I've been doing stuff with fiber so I decided I'd make something. As I am still having some difficulty with my loom, I decided that I'd crochet this. Initially, I was thinking about weaving something but I changed my mind because of ... technical difficulties.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oiy! 2 months?!?

I've been busy over the last several months. Mainly in coping with depression thru the wonder of modern medicine, producing or working on producing lots and lots of fiber art, and attempting to keep up with two very active little kids. Beloved has taught me how to upload pictures from the camera to the computer. This means that it's only a few small steps to adding pictures.

I'll be adding them later because I'm a little to tired to figure out how to beat this business into submission. :P

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oiy, time flies.

Well, I suppose I should briefly give the rundown of what's been going on over the last few weeks. I'm still depressed but I'm now seeing a counselor. My second appointment is tomorrow and on the 29th I'll be meeting with a psychiatrist to determine if the medication I'm on is correct for my condition. I'm not really looking forward to either appointment, but they're something of a necessary evil right now. Between my problems with daily flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and deep depression that frequently tends towards feeling suicidal, I can't just say that I'll tough this out.

I've been writing J- when I'm not feeling terribly inadequate about it. I don't know why it's been making me feel that way, I think it's another manifestation of my depression and some of the social anxiety I'm struggling with right now. To say the least, he's going to be getting a moderately sized stack of letters from me with the various attempts to write a story for him in there as well as the various other half finished letters I wrote. I think he'll be relieved to read that I am seeing a counselor.

I did a little more with the Tunisian Crochet. I made a vest for Cuddle-Bear in this fairly nice commercially made yarn. It's a sport weight yarn in a lovely chocolate brown color. It suits him fairly well. I still need to put some buttons on it, but he already loves it. I think the fact that he decided to try to wear it as a hat could have been among the most hilarious parts of the whole deal in giving it to him. I'm now attempting to learn how to do entrelac with the Tunisian Crochet hook. I think I can truly say that I am a masochist because this is driving me crazy. I keep trying but it's just not coming out right yet and this is after almost two weeks of effort. Rome wasn't built in a day and such, but good grief I know I'm smart enough to figure this out.

I am spinning up more yarn of my own. My mother in law gave me a bunch of her remnants to use towards my big project for Beloved. His scarf is coming right along. I'm using a pair of large knitting needles on this so that the scarf will be quite warm. As it stands, it's going to be pretty wide and I'm fairly sure this thing is going to be... painful to look at long before I reach the point of being half finished. Already, there is a lot of internal clashing of colors. Washing and blocking this thing will be an adventure because it's a combination of several different kinds of yarn. Commercially made, hand made, synthetic, natural, and what feels like everything in between is going into this thing. I'm fairly sure he'll wear it with great pride.

My mother in law took me out to a meeting of the Genesee Valley Spinner's Guild yesterday up in Victor, NY. They are a lovely bunch of people and if I wasn't so caught up in my social anxiety, I think I'd have had more conversations then I did. She brought along some roving for me to spin if I ran out of what I brought with me. It was a good thing she brought it because I did. One of the two batches of roving was absolutely charming. It had a really lovely feel to it and the dye job was fun. Looking at it, all I could think of was a watermelon.

As such, I'm calling the chunky yarn that I made by that name. I'm going to be saving a snippet of it in my scrap book and writing a note about how it was to spin. She didn't tell me what kind of wool it was from but my guess from how it felt in my hand was that it was Merino. She also gave me some really fun and heavier wool roving that has a blend of red, indigo, and dark gray to it. I'm spinning that up into a chunky yarn. The colors of that reminds me of a fading sunset. So I may call that yarn by that name too. I figure if the professionals get to name their yarns, I can do the same too!

I'm taking the proverbial miles of yarn that I have sitting here which is handspun (by myself and others) and I'm going to be turning it into a blanket for a friend of mine. I was trying to get others together to help me make a quilt but that project rather stalled out. So, I'm going to be doing it on my own. Rather then making two big quilts this year, I'm only going to make one and I'm going to crochet the other blanket. I will be making a crib quilt for Snuggle-Bug because I didn't make him one last year. Cuddle-Bear still loves his though he has clearly out grown it. I'm considering making him a patchwork afghan for the toddler bed he's going to be getting soon. I am still debating on that project. I don't want to take on too many things right now.

One of my maternal aunts has a charity project that she is involved with in donating teddy bears to needy children. I'm going to be making a few and donating them up here in memory of my late cousin Matthew. I was going to send them down to her but she wants me to donate them up here in her son's memory. I am thinking that I should also make up some hats or blankets to donate for the babies at the hospital too. I really felt good about giving that blanket to the gal who had nobody there for her when she was at the hospital to have her baby.

Apparently she didn't have a baby shower or anything, the father of the baby left her, and she was all alone as she sat there laboring. My heart was breaking for her and rather then just sitting there feeling badly, I gave her the baby blanket I had just finished making with yarn scraps I had. I think that it's good for somebody to have something special for when their baby comes into the world. Blankets and hats are always useful for newborns.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I'm playing with yarn again.

As part of my effort to cope with my anxiety and stress, I'm striving to learn some new crochet techniques. I have this really nifty Tunisian Crochet hook and it's been a real eye opener as to how fast it uses up yarn. My first project was to make myself a crochet hook holder. It was insanely simple because the whole thing is just a rectangle made with the basic stitch.

I'm almost finished making a scarf for a surprise gift to somebody. It's shocking how fast this thing is working up. Over the course of about a week (where I work on this thing for about 2 to 3 hours in the evening), I have it almost finished. This thing is almost a full yard long. It's really shocking to me how fast this works up. It's also rather startling how much yarn gets used for it. I'm pretty sure that I could make some truly nice and warm sweaters for the boys over the course of a few evenings in this method. Given that Cuddle-Bear has outgrown the sweater I made for him so fast that he got to wear it for about two weeks. :P Hmm... I think I need to locate yarn...

In one of my crochet magazines, they discuss methods for making lace using Tunisian Crochet. I'm considering using some of the fine yarn that I made last year to do so. Once I get this scarf finished, I am going to be plying together the two balls of singles that I made with the Corridale wool that my mother-in-law gave me last year. I still have that lovely deep blue wool to finish spinning up. I haven't fully decided how I'm going to use it but there's some patterns that have caught my eye.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Household Notebook: Status - meh.

I've only gotten one section done. And it's not even properly done yet. I'm just finding it difficult to sit down and put this thing together. I know that it would do a world of good for keeping things straightened out and organized around here. It doesn't change, however, that when I look at this project I simply see a huge amount of effort to be expended in one shot.

My motivation is lacking. My apathy is showing.

Ramblings.

It's been bothering me for a little while now, this whole business with the stack of bills being bigger then the amount of money we have coming in. I think that I need to do something to bring some form of money into the house but I don't know what to do. I am debating hopping back on to Keen and giving all of that another try. I'm also considering looking into something like medical billing or something else similar. It's hard because I'm petrified of the idea that I'm going to do something wrong and make a difficult situation even worse.

We can't pay our bills on Beloved's income. There's no way around it. We've been doing everything we can, but there's no way we can keep this up. Something is going to have to be sacrificed and I don't know what we can sacrifice. I don't know how we're going to pay for my counseling but I have to admit that I need it now. I've been trying to get by with out it but it's just hit that point where I need to work with somebody. I need to figure out what we're going to do for a babysitter when I have my sessions. I know that I can't go to any of my side of the family because the people in any other family that wasn't as fucked up as mine... well, I've got my Aunt and my brother's soon to be ex-wife for support there and that's it.

Sure, the rest of them can pay lip service to how they care and stuff but they haven't been around and it's just not going to happen with my parents. My grandparents, as much as they'd like to, simply are not going to be able to do so. My grandfather has his hands full just caring for my grandmother as the Alzheimer's robs her of her sanity. I can't ask him to mind two little boys on top of that. Alzheimer's does funny things to the brain and everybody recognizes that it's safest for everyone involved to have my grandmother supervised when around small children. Not because she's a dangerous person but because she's been forgetful to the point of nearly burning herself in the middle of cooking dinner.

Beloved's family is a lot like mine in that respect also. Theoretically, we could call on his sister or his brother, but life is getting in the way there. Schedules are crazy and rarely do they match up enough for us to get together for something planned. We've called on his parents quite a bit for help. But life has been throwing them curve balls too, so I don't know what we're going to do. I'm considering talking to the neighbor next door to see if they can watch the boys for a little bit.

Beloved kinda snarls at the prospect of the teenagers over there watching them and says that they're not responsible enough. I don't think he realizes that we're pretty much out of other options here. It's that or nothing.

I'm worried. We don't have enough money and we've got a pile of bills that need paid. Rent is going to be due for next month soon and there's no way we can pay it along with everything else. We've got the power bill that hasn't been paid for two months, the car payment that is in the same position, and I don't even know what's going on with the health insurance. He has been declared in default on his student loans and I'm in danger of the same with mine. We simply can't pay them. We'd love to but we just don't have the money.

Unlike other people, we don't have a pile of credit card bills as the source of our problems. It's instead the everyday bills like the cost of doing laundry, groceries, and various other things. I'm terrified that we're going to actually owe money on our taxes this year. I can't shake the terrible feeling that he's going to be laid off again in the near future. While his boss gets to sit on his ass and bitch and moan about things while he fucks around with stupid shit and pet projects, we're going to be scrambling to find where we can cut more out of our budget to pay for groceries and diapers. And the god damn state will still tell us that we don't qualify for financial assistance because he's a few hundred dollars over the line for anything.

But, I look around and I see other people who aren't doing their damnedest to try and keep going basically getting rewarded for not doing shit. I've got neighbors who spend almost as much on beer and hard liquor for a weekend as we do for a car payment. They sit there and moan about how expensive everything is, while their heating bills are paid by somebody else, their groceries are paid for by WIC or food stamps, and their rent is subsidized. I don't have a problem with welfare but the system is broken. When you're told to get fired from your job to get more assistance, that's a sign that something is seriously wrong.

But what can I do about it? My vote doesn't change things. My efforts to remain independent and make things work without assistance (because I'm told that I don't qualify due to a technicality) get me nowhere. We have no savings because each major crisis that came along has eaten everything we've tried to save. We tried to put all the money that people had given us as gifts for the boys aside, but that has been eaten as well. We're down to 40 dollars in our emergency fund.

I don't know if we should pull the money out of the 401K or not. It would only be a temporary solution anyways because we've got enough debt hanging over our heads that it'd be gone in a few weeks if we started doing what we could to make the bills go away. We're coming up fast on a crisis point and I don't know what we can do about it. That terrifies me. I remember not having enough money to buy food and Mom foraging for stuff we can eat from the woods. I remember not having enough money to get new clothes for school.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I love my children...

I love my children but they are just driving me crazy at the moment. Anyone who tells you that toddlers are easy to deal with is lying to you. Seriously, they are. How can I say this? Because my 2 1/2 year old son is a sweet child that is out to make me pull my hair out. He has thrown the largest temper tantrums recently and I'm not sure if it's because he's teething, suffering from cabin fever (because the weather hasn't been exactly kind to us going outside recently), or if he's just been in a perverse mood. Either way, I find myself wondering what on earth I was thinking when I so desperately wished for children because I had no clue what so ever how difficult this was going to be.

And my friends and family members with older children tell me it only gets better. Is this a good type of better or the sarcastic kind, because I'm kind of dreading this. Ah well, at least the baby is napping and Cuddle-Bear has stopped screaming to play with his hair brush. Granted, it's a bit annoying that he's decided to brush the baby gate with it, but you know what, he's not doing any harm so I'm not going to reprimand him for it. Annoying is better then ear-splitting shrieks any day of the week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wait! What...?

I'm sitting here feeding Snuggle-Bug his morning bottle when I read this article and I'm taken aback by the hubris. While I recognize there is some pro-Iran and anti-US bias here, there would be no story if the two Senators actually hadn't said or done anything along these lines. Pushing for passage of a bill that calls for official US support of the undermining of another sovereign nation is tantamount to a soft declaration of war against that nation. I say a soft declaration of war because these two bloated cowards that play at being leaders of this nation lack the intestinal fortitude to put forth an actual declaration.

If you are going to demand a regime change and you are throwing official support behind the people opposing the sitting government, how does that make you any different from Osama Bin Laden? Furthermore, how does it make this country any different from the nations that are currently labeled as our enemies in the 'War on Terror"? Honestly, you hypocrites, do you really expect me to believe that you are some how morally superior to the others out there who call for the same things regarding our nation? While you sit there comfortably ensconced in the halls of power over there in Washington, DC, the rest of the nation is expecting you to do your damn job, not dick around with this bullshit.

How is it your job to make soft declarations of war against another nation that has not taken any aggressive action against our own? How is it your job to make a soft declaration of war when we're currently engaged in two right now? If you wanted to be technical about it, it is two different theaters of the same war. Either way, you're not there to be doing this shit. You want to be an asshole, do it on your own time. The people of this nation are not served by your encouraging hostility and tensions in the Middle East along with anti-US sentiment around the world. Your doing idiotic shit like this justifies the logic of people like Osama Bin Laden for why they're engaged in asymmetrical warfare against us. If I recall correctly that is the current term used to describe the changes in modern warfare that have come with the rise of terrorism, right?

Each day that the current war extends out longer is going to be on your head. Each additional attack against US interests and citizens around the world is going to be on your head. Each death that comes from these things is going to be blood on your hands. You are just as culpable as the guy who pulled the trigger because you placed US citizens in this position with your chest pounding rhetoric. If my youngest brother dies in combat, you are his murderer along with the person who pulled the trigger.

Why? Because that person may as well have been the gun in your hand, for you sent my brother there along with many others of my countrymen. There is no justice in this war. There hasn't been from day one. It was started out of a desire to blindly attack and get revenge. It continues out of political machinations. I suppose Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia or what ever the enemy de juor.

As an aside: Ironically, my misspelling 'de juor' was 'de jure'. It could be equally apt in this situation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Well, Hello Nursezilla.

I read this blog entry on the New York Times website and thought to myself, 'Hey, I recognize what they're talking about.' I didn't come away with warm fuzzies because it really is something that I've experienced and still feel significant anger on that matter. Nurses acting in an unprofessional manner is just as horrible as a doctor doing so. I'm not picking on just nurses here.

No, the beef that I have is with the medical community at large taking the attitude that they are untouchable. If you go to have medical treatment at a hospital (and at some doctor's offices this attitude is present as well), you need to have the Oliver Twist-esque stance of your hat in your hand and begging for aid. I've lost count the number of times I've been told that health care is not a right. This hasn't just been from people out in the community, but also from medical professionals. At times in the midst of my health crisis, as some type of justification of poor service.

A fine example was when I was sent to the hospital by my doctor for a nebulizer treatment and the triage nurse decided that it wasn't necessary to expedite it because while my lung function was at half of it's usual capacity my blood oxygen still looked 'ok'. I was told to wait a few minutes and that I'd start feeling better. This was after a mildly harrowing half hour drive from out here in the country to the city hospital, going directly from my doctor's office to there and with the doctor's office calling a head that I was on my way. Another nurse told me that I needed to relax and that I was just over-reacting.

Look, I can appreciate the fact that asthma can be aggravated by emotional stress. But to tell a person who was sent to you by their primary care physician that it's not really a problem is bullshit. It disgusts me because if you don't want to be treated like crap, you're either going to continue to suffer with your ailment or be told to suck it up, because you don't have a choice. There's a lot of good doctors and nurses out there. I'm not saying there isn't. There is a cultural attitude, however, that the medical profession is exempt from being required to treat patients with respect. When you're told that your health problems are not a result of a chronic condition that you can not have possibly induced in yourself, as per the evidence of your chart and medical history, but rather a result of your laziness or some other quality assigned to you by the 'professional' speaking to you (who doesn't know you from any other random person on the street), and you are expected to tolerate if not agree with this verbal abuse... Well, I've got a problem with that.

I've got a problem with the idea that parents are forced to subject their children to emotional abuse of this caliber and if they refuse, it is possible that they are going to be punished by the law for it. Not the people emotionally abusing the children but the parents who are attempting to protect them. Why do I say this? Because there are cases on record around the USA where parents are charged with child abuse because they did not bring their children to the doctor. How many of those cases are a situation where the parents were attempting to keep their children from being bullied by the medical staff who are supposed to be caring for them? I've a suspicion that this would make up a percentage of those cases that's going to show it's not an unexpected outlier.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grief given voice...

Grief given voice by music takes the wings and flies to the ear of god from the lips of the sorrowful in a poignant prayer for mercy, grace, and aid.

As words fail me, I turn to the music of others and the performances of others to voice my own sorrow.

Verdi's 'Willow Song' from Otello, final act, second scene (if I recall correctly), as performed by Renee Fleming.

Dido's 'My Lover's Gone' from her album No Angel.

Enya's 'Exile' from her album Watermark.

Howard Shore's 'Evenstar' from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Tower's Soundtrack

Howard Shore's 'Helm's Deep' from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Tower's Soundtrack (specifically the section that starts at 3:22)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Feeding my coffee addiction..

I'm slapping this link up here because if I'm going to be feeding my coffee habit, I may as well satisfy my chocolate craving at the same time.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Excellent book on Spinning!

I just have to say it because I looked over and was reminded of this:

Spin To Knit is an AWESOME book!
It has some excellent advice for new spinners and some truly fantastic patterns! If you're interested in spinning or knitting, it's a great book. Not only is it a wonderful source of ideas and projects, it is absolutely a fantastic read. I really loved the beautiful photographs used to illustrate and the really pleasant little sidebars that talk about the designers and the yarns used for the samples. If you have the opportunity to pick it up and read it, do so. If you can put it in your handcraft library, you absolutely, positively MUST do it!

Shawls & other fun with yarn!

I kinda have a passion for shawls. I love the way they look and how it feels to wear them. I have a wonderful gray fleece one that is so incredibly soft that it is an absolute favorite of mine. I miss the absolutely lovely bright pink wool one that I had. It was the first shawl I owned and it was so amazingly warm because it was wool. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the same fire that destroyed Rose and Nathan's home almost two years ago.

I've made a triangular crochet shawl of approximately the same shade of pink. While lovely and warm, it isn't quite big enough for what I wanted. It's a really nice wrap, however, and excellent if a little something is needed for a warm late spring/early summer afternoon to shield you from the breeze. It's just a very large half granny-square made with a US size F hook and about two balls of bright pink hand spun yarn that I was given as a gift a little while before I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

I'm considering knitting a shawl for myself and I found a pattern that is simple enough that I think I'm going to do it. I love the versatility of the end result of this pattern. I really like the idea that I can use it for more then one outfit and for a proverbial laundry list of different looks. It'll be interesting to see if I have enough of that absolutely stunning deep burgundy yarn that my mother-in-law gave me.

My first objective before I start on this project, however, is to use up my yarn stash. I believe I may just start that scarf for Beloved for Yule this year. It may work to use up that yarn stash better then making clothes for Cuddle-Bear's baby doll toy. I finished the blanket I was knitting for my friend Kevin's new baby. It is made with an incredibly simple pattern and two yarns together.

The yarns are a commercially made sport weight acrylic and a hand spun woolen yarn of approximately the same weight and incredibly soft texture. The pattern to knit this yarn can be done on any kind of needles. I used US size 10 knitting needles. You cast on 3 stitches and then knit one, increase, knit one, increase, and knit. In the next row, you purl in all of your stitches. The following row, knit one, increase, and then knit thru all but the last stitch. Increase and then knit your final stitch in the row. Purl all of the next row and then repeat the knit process of the row before. You continue this until your blanket is of the length you want it from the needle down to the point at where you started. Then, purl a row, knit a row and purl a row. Next you knit together the first two stitches of your row before knitting all but the last two stitches of the row. Knit together those last two stitches. Purl the next row and then in the following row knit as you did for the row before. Decrease until you have two stitches left on your needle. Cast off and you're finished with your baby blanket.

I had the audacity not to cast off but whip out my US size H crochet hook. I proceeded to chain five and then do a half double crochet into the first decrease I encountered on the edge. I chained two and did another half double into the next decrease. I continued this way until I reached where the three stitches didn't decrease or increase. Here, I chained two from the last half double crochet I worked and then did a double crochet into the knit row in the middle of that section. I chained two and then did a half double crochet into the first increase I encountered. I proceeded as I did for the previous side.

When I reached the point of the first increase for the whole blanket, I worked around that corner as I did for the corner previous. I proceeded around the remaining edges of the blanket in this fashion until I came back to where I started my crochet edging. From the final half double crochet I worked, I chained one and slip stitched into my chain of 3. I then chained three more, did a half double crochet into the slip stitch, and chained one. I worked my way around the edging doing two half double crochet stitches into where I had my openings from my earlier row with a single chain between each cluster. At the corners, I worked three chains to turn. When I got to my starting point for the row, I slip stitched into the chain and then tied off.

All that is left to finish this blanket is to wash and block it. I will need to write down washing instructions for this thing, but it's going to be a good blanket for this baby. It is nice and warm and knit in a stockinette stitch it has a good texture. One side is nice and smooth while the other is pleasantly nubby. Knit in the two yarns, it is also going to be nice and warm. I'll post a picture of this up when it blocking process is dry.

In other news, I finished spinning up my singles of the fluffy white Corridale wool that my mother-in-law gave me last spring. Now I need to ply it and then I'll be ready to work it up into something nice. I still have to finish spinning up the indigo dyed roving that she gave me then. I'm debating what I should make with that when it is done. I'll figure something good out, though.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Brownies = OMFG! WIIIIIIN!!!!

I made that recipe last night and it came out absolutely beautifully. It was a nice, dense brownie with excellent flavor and texture. Not too chewy and just absolutely perfect. Anybody who is considering taking the risk to do it you absolutely MUST make these brownies!

The teething biscuits didn't come out quite right. I'm going to try again, but I'm pretty sure that they're missing something. I may need to put more flour in it next time.

Hmm.... Perhaps the Times will help me learn math.

There is a series of opinion articles that I'm going to be following on the New York Times. In it, the author (a respected mathematics professor over at Cornell University) is giving an explanation of the concepts of mathematics for the lay man. I've got to say, I feel a tremendous sense of hope upon reading the first article of the series. I've always felt overwhelmed and troubled by the concept of numbers.

When I was a kid, I made the mistake of asking questions about number theory of my teachers in elementary school. Their rough dismissals combined with my being told to just accept things because it's the way they are worked to make numbers a troubling concept. Add to this things like multiplication confusing me and no one managing to help me understand it (because I'm being told just to memorize it), it makes it really difficult to become comfortable or even indifferent towards mathematics.

Throw in that at the time this was going on, my family was suffering the effects of poverty and I could see what not having enough money and making mistakes with money lead to.... Well, it takes numbers from an uncomfortable place to a terrifying place when I'm being told to think of my math problems as dealing with money. Working past the emotional associations, there is still the bad job that was done by others to educate me when I was a child.

I look back and I can see only one teacher who helped me understand mathematics. Mrs. Lewis was (possibly still is, if she hasn't retired) a special education teacher who worked with me for a long while to get me to understand fractions. It is directly due to her efforts that I can do at least a passable job of division. It is also directly due to her efforts that I was able to learn how to do algerbra because she used some of the basic ideas of it to help me understand division. If this series of articles can help me to learn how to do basic multiplication, perhaps I'll be able to learn the aspects of higher mathematics that have been eluding me over the last several years and I will finally be able to write up my theory.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Our government is a pack of idiots...

So, who else has had the opportunity to read some of the news about this lovely budget getting unveiled? Now, before some one says that I'm ranting because it is Obama or something else like that, I am firmly of the opinion that this is a case of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' like a lot of other things with the current administration. I'm ranting because this insanity of a multiple TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT is really irritating me.

If we citizens ran our finances the way that the federal government did, we'd be screwed. Same for the matter of state government, just look at California or New York state for examples of fiscal stupidity. The difference between the government and us citizens is really simple, they can strong arm more money out of us and we can't strong arm more money out of our employers. You know what this is closer to... It's more like we're dealing with some hack version of the Mob.

We're getting EXTORTED out of our money, people. Think about it, if the income tax didn't carry the penalty of fines and jail time (by the way, aren't the fines a little redundant?), do you think we'd be paying to the tune of almost a full third to nearly a half of our gross income in taxes? Don't believe me? Take a look at your next paycheck, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Oh, I know, you're going to say that things like Social Security and other such things are not taxes. Is the government taking your money? Is it a fine for breaking a law? Are you making a donation? No? Well, guess what, if it's not a fine and you're not making a charitable donation, it's a tax. Call it a fee or by any other name, it doesn't change what it is.

It's ok, however, because if we continue on the trend that we're going, the economy will collapse and we'll have Mad Max style anarchy, right?

Household Notebook (redux)

Last night, in my effort to avoid sleeping because I didn't want to deal with nightmares again, I did some work on that household notebook thing. I've got the different sections I want in it divided up. I'm going to be adding more separators later when I have things a bit more organized and such. At the moment I've got the following sections:
  • Planning
  • Phone
  • Family
  • Home Management
  • Meals & Menus
The Planning section currently has a month at a glance calendar in it for the year, a schedule for myself and one for each of the boys. I am finding the regimentation of a written schedule is not working very well for me but it is working fairly well for the boys. I'm most likely going to replace the written schedule for me with a list of routines until I have a more accurate estimate of how long items take. Then, I'll be including the schedule for myself again. I hope to get a week at a glance calendar for this section as well, this way I can get the week planned out a bit more detailed then a few notes per day.

The Phone section is going to be getting reorganized. I started out with a list of emergency contacts followed by a list of family contacts. I'm going to sit down and re-prioritize that list. Obviously, the list of emergency contacts is going to be there on the front page of this section. This, however, is then going to be followed by an alphabetized list of frequently called numbers, additionally divided by if they're businesses, friends, or family. Obviously, there are going to be some numbers listed that don't get as many calls as others. That, however, isn't going to make too big of a difference, because of how it is going to be organized. I plan on using tabs to divide this section up.

The Family section is going to be divided up for each person. On the first page for each of our sections is going to be our full name, allergy list, and medical condition list. This way, god forbid, there is an emergency all of the major information like blood type and my medication allergies is really easy to find. A list of doctor visits is then going to follow this with the date, reason for appointment set up, diagnosis, and treatment. A part of me says it is overkill to do this, but then I look back over the last year and I can't help but feel that it is going to be extremely helpful to have this 'condensed' version of our medical history on hand.

I'm also going to be putting in the Family section things like what people's favorite colors are, clothing sizes, and food preferences. It's going to be pretty mercurial for the boys, but somethings may remain consistent for a while, like Cuddle-Bear's preference for sweet potatoes or Beloved's distaste for the combination of onions and tomato in pasta sauce. I realize that this is again going to seem like over kill but if Beloved needed to take care of things because I got terribly ill again in the future, I know that this is going to help him out.

It may seem counter intuitive, but the list of household rules is going to go under Home Management. It is just something that helps with how the house runs, thus, in my mind, it falls under the category of household management. There is going to be a subsection for chores assigned for each child (obviously Snuggle-Bug isn't big enough for chores yet, but when he is...) and chores divided up by each room. I like the suggested list of ideas for other things to go in this section on that OrganizedHome.com page about household notebooks.

I'm thinking about following their suggestions also on the Meals & Menus section. I'm pretty sure it would make Beloved's life a LOT easier if he could just look at a page and see what he needed to get at the grocery store on the occasions he is the one who goes out shopping. I know that it will make meal planning a lot easier. I am going to add one thing, however, to their list of things to put in that section. I'm going to put together a collection of recipes for the meals that we frequently have. This is going to be another thing for Beloved in case he needs to be in charge of things because I'm ill.

Of course, because I am planning around this possibility, I will never again be so horribly ill. It'll just be how it happens because when ever you plan for something like that it doesn't happen and you feel foolish until you start being lazy. THEN everything goes to hell and your back-up plan fails because you got lazy. :P Not that I have ever had anything like that happen to me before...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Household Notebook? Oops...

Yeah, I was going to make one of those and then I forgot about it. :P

Something else to fight with later today. I've got a few different goals for today. I'm going to put together a list up here and if I can find the time later, I'll comment on how successful I was in meeting them.

1.) Write in:
  • Blogs
  • Morning Pages Journal
  • Daily Journal
2.) Clean Dishes
3.) Bag Dirty Clothes for Laundromat
4.) Sewing
  • Mend Beloved's pants
  • Mend Beloved's brown sweater
  • Finish hemming wrap
  • Make sock puppets for Cuddle-Bear
5.) Work on knitting baby blanket
Let's see how successful I am today.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Well, that was a cooking win.

I cooked pork chops on a bed of rice with canned peaches. It gave the peaches a faint hint of the pork flavor. The rice came out a mix of savory and fruity, but not overly so. The pork was infused with a hint of peach. I think next time instead of saving the dash of curry and cinnamon for serving, I'll add it initially. On the whole, however, it came out quite well. Next time, I'm either serving peas along side this or acorn squash. I think they'd go together excellently.

Not too shabby for a throw it together quick dinner. I definately need to go grocery shopping soon. I think that'll be after my dr appt tomorrow. I really should plan out next week's menu before I go.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making my own teething biscuts...

Apparently you can't buy zweibeck toast at the store anymore. I've been looking but it's no where to be found. I've found a recipe that I am going to give a try. Here's hoping it works out well.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This has prospect...

I was reading an article on the Time's website this morning that has me thinking. Apparently the best sellers on the Kindle and other similar platforms are free. Yep, the most downloaded books have been free. It makes me think that perhaps my first manuscript to be published should be in an electronic format and for free.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Controlling banks? I don't know about that...

The Wall Street Journal has an article discussing President Obama's appeal to the international community for support in a plan to control aspects of the largest banks in the United States, calling on them to pass the same legislation in their nations. Now, I've got a problem with this on several levels. Because my focus here isn't to call the President to task for his hubris in what the Executive Branch of the American government is permitted to do, I'll save that rant for another day. No, my focus is on the banking regulation efforts and what I see as it's effect upon the economy. I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have taken two college level classes on the subject and read several book on personal finance to help me understand it.

Even with my limited understanding of this subject, I can see that controlling how the private banks are run is a bad thing. People may find the analogy I'm about to use like comparing apples and steaks. Apples and steaks, however, have a very basic thing in common (that they are food) and the commonality between banks and what I'm using for my analogy is going to be equally apparent with a little thought.

John Doe runs a car repair shop in little town A. His repair shop isn't very big but he is competent and does relatively brisk business. At the other end of town is a competing repair shop that is part of a national chain Brakes-R-Us. They do a large amount of business and carry the major burden of car repair for town A. Brakes-R-Us could actually be described as handling the majority of the needs because their workload is approximately twice that of John Doe's shop.

One day, Brakes-R-Us's location in town A makes the announcement that they are going to be closing their doors. This is after their location has been reassessed for property taxes and it becomes apparent that their tax burden, like that of John Doe's business, is going up. The town council becomes alarmed at this news and holds an immediate session. At the session it is argued that the tax increase should be waived for Brakes-R-Us because the only other car repair shop in town does not have the capacity to service everyone.

Now, I ask you, dear Reader, is it right for this town's government to waive the property tax for Brakes-R-Us? I believe that your answer will be the same as mine. No because waiving the property tax does not address the underlying problem at Brakes-R-Us's location in town A, among other things. If something else increased in expense, like if there was an unexpected increase in the cost for power or something else similar, Brakes-R-Us would be in the same position.

Let's say the town council votes to waive the property tax in exchange for Brakes-R-Us being required to show the town council their budget and making adjustments suggested to them by the town council. This again fails to solve the problem and actually creates an entirely new one. Because the town council is influenced by political agenda, this would in turn influence the suggestions made to Brakes-R-Us. This not only deprives the owners of Brakes-R-Us of their right to operate their business as they see fit, but makes them dependent upon the good will of the town council to remain in business. For the town council could force Brakes-R-Us out of business and do so under color of law in light of the arrangement presented.

Now, here's another scenario, let's say that the town council votes to waive the property tax and puts in place the requirement that they review the budget for Brakes-R-Us. The town council then determines that part of the problem for Brakes-R-Us is that they're offering too many services and are losing money by providing oil changes to their customers. The town council passes a law requiring that oil changes are done only by places that specializes in them. This is not a good solution either because it limits the choices of the customers of Brakes-R-Us and at John Doe's repair shop artificially. It also establishes the precedent for the second scenario to happen industry-wide in town A.

These three scenarios are describing the effect of government interfering with private business to the detriment of the community. Laws against child labor and preventing the abuse of employees by their bosses are examples of laws that are in place that are good for the community. The difference between the 'good' regulations and the 'bad' regulations is fairly simple. Is the law putting the population in a measure of duress? Is the law favoring one segmant of the population above the rest? Is the law inhibiting the population's exercising of their inherent civil rights? If the answer to the above is yes, it is a bad law and it should be abolished.

The banking system's failures over the last few years are not because the banks are flawed. They are the result of a confluence of factors that highlight the flaws in the system and the effects of generations of government interference. When you look at the long term cycle of how the economy functions, specifically a capitalism based economic system, you will see that it moves from a period of growth into a plateau followed by a period of loss, another plateau and then another growth period. Within this larger cycle are smaller cycles that follow the a similar pattern.

When the government takes action to artificially extend or promote periods of growth this makes the drop from plateau to plateau larger. Things like switching from a currency based in real goods (like gold) to one based in a concept (like what we have now) encourages inflation of the currency which occurs as the growth period is artificially extended. When the inflationary period collapses, it is a correction of the market back to parity. If you study the financial history of the nation, you will find that we are not only due for market correction but also a period of loss. We're actually past due for a period of loss.

The inflation of the US currency in an desperate effort to stave off the period of loss that is inevitable has had the exact opposite effect of what was intended. It did not bring greater stability to the economy or equality in the socio-economic classes. Instead it brought the illusion of stability and laid the ground work for a deeper drop into (and possibly a longer) plateau following the period of loss. For those who are a little confused between the terms recession and depression, by the way, when it comes to economics here's a quick heads up. A recession is the period of loss that I mentioned earlier. A depression is the plateau that follow the recession.

Instead of preparing the nation for the coming depression, the economic policy of the United States government had been to inflate the currency in a desperate effort to avoid it. They were pushing the proverbial pendulum farther and farther to one side in an effort to have it not swing in the other direction, completely ignoring the fact that a pendulum simply doesn't function that way. They are only providing more potential energy to be turned into kinetic when the pendulum swings back in the other direction. This makes the pendulum swing faster and go higher when it reaches the other side. The same is true for the economy.

What the government should have been doing was encouraging people to be more conservative in their spending during the 'Roaring 90's' and laying the ground work to provide for the needs that are going to come up during the next depression. This, however, was the last thing upon anyone's mind in the government or the population at large. If you want to prepare, it's not completely too late. Look into what you can do to get a small garden going, learn a skill that uses real goods and that you can barter with others if needed, or start building up your emergency supplies for a possible storm or major crisis.

Practical measures mean hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. The government has always failed to do that and has encouraged the population to ignore taking such steps. Why is that? Because when a crisis happens, the government can step in and seize more power from the people under the guise of helping them. I, for one, refuse to trade my liberty for the warm fuzzy feeling of security. That's all it is, a feeling and a state of mind. We are no more secure today then we were yesterday. Economically, socially, or physically, this has not changed. As a people, we need to take control of our destiny and take the measures required to keep ourselves safe, healthy, and to advance our goals.

You don't trust a complete stranger with your bank information, why do you trust the government? All it is is a large group of strangers with an agenda. And that agenda is to control you and justify their salaries and power base. Do you really want to trust that group of strangers?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ah toddlers and their imaginations...

So, I asked Cuddle-Bear what he wanted for dinner. His answer was : Buttons! My solution - ritz crackers sandwiches with cream cheese in the middle, vanilla wafer cookies with peach puree in the middle, and freeze dried apple bits. He appears to be really enjoying it. :)

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: Not just for Physics anymore

I'm sitting here, feeding Snuggle-Bug and reading the news on-line when I spot an article titled: The day I decided to stop being gay. To say the least, the title raised an eyebrow and I was curious. As I read the article, I found myself inwardly sighing with disappointment. It's clear that the author has been struggling with the same binary perspective of human sexuality as so many other people in Western society (among many others) has for generations.

I was disappointed to see the mixture of ambivalence to heterosexuality and mild antagonism to homosexuality peppered liberally thru out his piece. Oh, the writing is very good and this is an editorial, thus an entirely appropriate place to express biases and opinions. I'm not complaining on that front at all. He wrote an excellent article and did a very good job making it both entertaining and easy to read. Two things that I believe are very important in writing a good opinion article. He clearly has a strong grasp of the written word and did a very good job using it to express himself. The author may want to consider doing some more writing on the side of his job as a teacher.

It doesn't change my disappointment, however. I guess I was foolish to think that perhaps he would have taken a more... understanding perspective on sexuality. The perspective he did take was clearly more reasonable then that of people like Pat Robertson and even more reasonable then that of several of my neighbors. Perhaps understanding is not the correct word but rather compassionate.

I am firmly of a mind that being homosexual or heterosexual is not a choice but rather following the inclinations that one has within them. We're built to be attracted to a certain type of person and gender is a component in this attraction. Is it possible for a gay man to be attracted to women? Yes, there may be other factors that override the strong pull of attraction to other men and that is not a bad thing. I don't think this automatically make the gay man heterosexual. Nor do I think that the 'reverse' of a heterosexual being attracted to a person of the same gender as themselves is going to automatically make them homosexual. The terms homosexual and heterosexual are designations of opposite ends of a spectrum.

I think it is rare to find the person who is completely heterosexual or homosexual. I think it is far more common to find people who identify more with the heterosexual or homosexual end of the spectrum because that is the more dominant of their appetites. I also don't think that hetero- and homosexual are going to make up the only spectrum to describe sexuality. I believe that sexuality is an extremely complex and beautiful thing.

There are many, many different aspects to it that we need to accept are just there and it can't be boiled down to a single 'one or the other' point. Even the example of the spectrum is going to fail at some point because there's just going to be too many different factors to keep it all organized. Trying to pinpoint where a person is in their sexual orientation in comparison to everyone else may be possible for that one person. When you start trying to do so for an entire population, let's not even look at the whole of humanity just a group of people, you encounter the same problem that you get when trying to place where each and every electron is around the nucleus of an atom.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I think I've found it!

While I don't think I'm quite ready to knit on double pointed needles yet or make knitted socks using the circular needles I have (for as I read more I find that I'm really not ready for that challenge), I have found a crochet pattern that I'm going to do!

The directions are very easy to read and I'm looking forward to using up some of this yarn that I've got around in scraps so I can get to the yarn that I made and the lovely yarn that my Mother-In-Law gave me for Yule. Some of it is in the most wonderful cranberry color! I am having visions of making a sweater with it dancing in my head! :)

Here is a link to the crochet sock pattern. I'm going to be starting on it soon. First, I need to make a few more pairs of baby booties because Snuggle-Bug is out growing the ones we have so fast!

Accomplishments vs Tasks.

So, a gal on a forum I'm apart of suggested that I replace my list of things to do with a list of things accomplished. I have to say the concept is sitting pretty well with me. It's part of a series of changes I am making to comply with what Beloved has told me he wants me to accomplish. He told me very clearly that he wants me to take better care of myself. Changing my perspective on a bunch of things is going to go a long way towards making that a successful endevour.

I want to get healthier this year and I want to accomplish a few really challenging things too. These are going to possibly be the easier part of complying with Beloved's wishes. Breaking habits and years of thought patterns is going to be the hard part. Changing how I view things like the tasks that need done around here is going to possibly be the roughest. So, little steps like having a list of accomplishments rather then a list of things to do are going to be important.

Here are my morning and early afternoon accomplishments:
  1. Got myself up, showered, dressed, and had breakfast
  2. Got both boys up, changed, and fed breakfast
  3. Played with both boys for approximately an hour and a half
  4. Balanced the checkbook
  5. Helped Cuddle-Bear get out toys and put toys away
  6. Morning diaper duty
  7. Helped Cuddle-Bear sing songs to Snuggle-Bug and to his toy baby
  8. Gave both boys their morning snack
  9. Rocked Snuggle-Bug and put him down for his morning nap
  10. Folded one and a half loads of laundry
  11. Supervised Cuddle-Bear's efforts to put some of his story books away
  12. Set up Mean Kitty Song on YouTube for Cuddle-Bear and made lunch for the boys and I
  13. Gave lunch to the boys
  14. Supervised Cuddle-Bear and Snuggle-Bug playing together as I ate my lunch
  15. Read Cuddle-Bear a story
  16. Afternoon diaper duty
  17. Rocked Snuggle-Bug and put him down for his afternoon nap
  18. Calmed Cuddle-Bear and put him down for his afternoon nap
  19. Planned dinner for tonight
  20. Checked my e-mail and read the news around the world
  21. Meditated
Wow, that's alot of stuff to have done for half the day. It makes the few things left on my list not seem impossible And it makes me feel not quite so bad about being tired right now. Between my difficulty sleeping recently and doing more then I thought I had this morning and thru the early afternoon, I guess I've earned a little bit of a nap. This time, however, I really should set some kind of alarm so that I'm not waking up almost at dinner time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Remember, YOU have nothing to hide...

The title of this post is sarcastic. We've all got stuff to hide, stuff that we want to keep private. We don't want the world at large to know details about things like our bank accounts, the number of speeding tickets we've had, or anything else that really is none of their business unless we choose to share it with them. I hate the Patriot Act. Among the reasons why I hate that abomination is because it has set a precedent for actions like this:
The FBI illegally collected 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or persuading phone companies to provide them says the Washington Post.
~ The Crime Report, 1/19/2019

Now, perhaps I am a starry eyed Pollyanna. Maybe some sneaky bastards down there in DC changed things like the principles that the government of this country has been founded on. Quick, let's check to see if the Declaration of Independence has been edited.... Hmm... looking at the text that's available Google can't find any evidence that it's been changed. And I am pretty sure that something that is as much of a bureaucratic mess as the government of the United States can keep a scandal as large as something crazy like that quiet. Looks like there's no new amendments that strip away the protections of the 4th Amendment either.

Listen up kids, this is gonna be something big and I want you all to get it right. If you have to, take notes, tattoo it on your forehead, or do what ever else you need to so that you can remember it:

The Patriot Act and the precedent set for spying upon the citizenry of this nation is UNCONSITUTIONAL because it VIOLATES the 4th Amendment.

Oh, I know, some folks are going to stand there and tell me that I'm over simplifying. I'm going to tell them that they are cowards who are willing to trade their liberty, mine, and that of my children for the ILLUSION of security that is dangled out infront of them by the government. It is none of the government's business what I do in my private life. If there is an accusation that I am breaking the law, I am innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof rests upon my accusors.

The 4th Amendment is in place to prevent things like the flagrant abuse of people's rights in the case where their car was used to commit a crime that they were not involved in, and now the owner is deprived of their posessions even after that case has been closed. Oh, and if you think I'm just pulling that example out of my hat, it was actually in the news a few weeks ago. The 4th Amendment is in place to prevent the erosion of personal property rights, as was blatantly done by the Supreme Court back a few years ago with that decision on emement domain. You know, the one that says the village wanting to take your house for making a parking lot, which fails in town council but after your house has been seized is legal.

There's a reason why there has been so much action taken to turn the 4th Amendment into as much of a foot note in the consciousness of the people of the United States as the 3rd Amendment is. Just like I said in my argument against mayoral control of a school district, this is a movement to disenfranchise the people. Where as the first is part of a campaign to render the right to vote useless in the minds of the people, the campaign to functionally nullify the 4th Amendment is focused upon having us surrender our privacy and individuality. George Orwell warned against this in his book 1984.

This silent campaign to disenfranchise the nation is part of the rise of fascisim. The blanket hatred of Islam and those who practice this religion, as well as of those who are apologists for it, has the same stink as the anti-semitism that came with the last incarnation of fascisim. Fascisim has been responsible for some of the world's greatest tragedies in modern history. If we have to, let's look at the painfully obvious examples of the Concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

The actions of the government to undermine the 4th Amendment and other rights of the people may not be those of Brownshirts, but it's still an exercise of fascisim. It's perhaps even more hideous because it is being done under color of law. Remember one of the biggest proponents of abusing their people under color of law was Stalin. Do we really want to go there?

We need to oppose all actions of the government to strip us of our rights. Even if they claim it is for our own good or the good of our children. Each time I am told that if I am innocent that I should not be afraid, I feel disgusted. This is the same approach that was taken by the Inquisitors. People were tortured into confessing. People were turned in to them for the basis of political or monetary gain. We stand poised on the precipice of seeing such things return in a new and horrific fashion.

Failure to oppose this is not an option. Not if we're to remain a free people.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting back into the swing of things, sort of.

Well, I've managed to reclaim part of my morning routine. :) Now I just need to get my afternoon routine back together and I'll be sitting pretty. Even if I don't succeed, however, I've made progress. For the first time in weeks, I've actually gotten things like balancing the checkbook done.

That's a big WIN!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Crochet hook bag!

I'll post a pic of the finished product when Beloved shows me how to get pics off the camera again. (I always forget how to do that. :P) I made this for a friend of mine to hold the extra crochet hooks from my collection that I am giving her. I'm going to make another one for myself, because this just came out so cute! It's a good project for using up scrap yarn. :)

Materials Needed:
  • Size 'D' crochet hook
  • Assorted small lengths of yarn (Medium weight is what I used, thus suggested for this project.)
  • Scissors
Crochet Stitches used: Wattle Stitch, Single crochet

  1. Chain 70, turn
  2. Skip first two chains, crochet wattle stitch into 3rd chain from the hook.
  3. Proceed to end of row. In last chain of row, crochet one single crochet.
  4. Chain one, turn.
  5. Repeat steps 1 - 4 for 12 rows.
  6. Fold fabric in half, slip stitch from edge to fold. Tie off and weave ends in.
  7. Slip stitch from fold to edge on opposite side. Single crochet into same spot.
  8. Chain 4, single crochet into edge of first row.
  9. Chain 4, single crochet into edge of second row.
  10. Repeat around opening.
  11. At edge of first row on opposite side of step 8, chain 9
  12. Single crochet into starting loop for step 8 at starting point.
  13. Turn, single crochet over loop formed in step 11 until covered with single crochet stitches.
  14. Single crochet into starting loop for 11, tie off and weave ends in.
  15. Braid 3 strands of yarn (each 1 ft long) into a cord. Wave into small loops at opening for drawstring closure.
I added new yarn in at beginning of rows 2, 4, 8 and 10. You may want to do so differently, but either way this works up into a nice little bag that holds all but the size Q hook. I have a size Q hook in this bag passed thru the large loop (which is intended to be clipped to your project bag) and into the bag itself with the draw string opening pulled up tight around it. While this is not extremely secure for the size Q hook, it works reasonably well. If you turn the bag upside down, the hook doesn't fall out.

Getting back to my routine? Yeah, right!

I had a relatively decent routine a while back. Then the holidays happened and then I got sick. Now I'm sitting here looking around at the remnants of that routine and I feel badly about it. Getting back into the routine is proving about as easy as fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans. :(

I suppose that means it's time to do the metaphorical sit-ups and stuff.

I've got plans for this year. Among them, I want to get a better handle on my anxiety over money. I also want to get my home organized and get this whole keeping the house clean business under control. I'm going to try to encourage Cuddle-Bear to pick up his toys more. Who knows, maybe I'll even manage to teach him how to put his books away. I suspect it may be a little over optimistic, but what the hell, right?

I'm such a fool...

I let my insecurities and fears get in the way so very much. I get tongue-tied and nervous, so I avoid talking to people that I really do want to. Stormcrow and I talked about this at one point. He's of the opinion I should just let these things go. I think he's right but I'm not sure what to do to replace the habit of fear. He was at a loss for suggestions. The method by which he dealt with this kind of thing really isn't an option for me.

I guess I could jump right in. I'm pretty sure that's what Stormcrow would suggest and I'm fairly sure that's what most of my other friends would also advise. How is it that I think up characters that are bold, if not fearless, and I stumble over fear almost daily? These characters are based on me and parts of my psyche. Why is that courage and joi de verve that are in so many of these character that I create so hard for me to tap into?

And why does rejection terrify me so much? I suppose nothing ventured, nothing gained. I can't use the excuse of liquid courage pushing me forward or powerful pain meds stripping away my inhibitions. Somedays, I think it's a good thing that I refuse to drink on a regular basis. I could see myself as a functional alcoholic with periods of being a very... very sadistic and mean drunk. I can't depend on something mechanically removing those blocks, I need to do it myself. And I sit here stalling and half tempted to go read that dopey train story for the billionth time rather then write the e-mail. *sighs*

That means it's time to write the e-mail. It's ironic, I'm polyamorous but terrified to express it. Much like I'm still damn afraid of my bisexuality. Someday, eventually, I'll get past these fears. First, however, I should stop stalling and write that e-mail.

Blarg, I'm a coffee-zombie!

I have a new term for that feeling of being not awake enough to function: coffee-zombie.

While regular zombies seek living flesh to consume, coffee-zombies seek coffee or other caffeinated beverages. When observed in their natural habitat, coffee-zombies greatly resemble regular zombies in their shambling movements and relatively slow. Generally, coffee-zombies are less dangerous then regular zombies. If you bring a coffee-zombie their favored nourishment, it is possible that you can acquire one as a pet. Great caution must be exercised in bringing coffee-zombies their nourishment. If it is not delivered promptly upon giving indication it will be presented or if it is unavailable, coffee-zombies risk becoming a variant of regular zombies.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Who runs the school district?

I've been following for a little less then a year now a debate going on up in Rochester over how the school district up there should be run. I wasn't seriously following it up until earlier this week. An article in the City newspaper caught my eye. It was an interview with Rochester Mayor, Bob Duffy. As far as articles go, it was fairly well written. As far as interviews go, it was very good and quite through. I've got to say, I was pretty impressed with the lack of bias in the work and it was written at a higher reading level, in my opinion, then a lot of what you find in the Democrat and Chronicle over the last few years.

Anyways, I read the article in City and found myself not exactly... thrilled with Mayor Duffy's reasoning. I suppose he did put forth a reasonable argument. If you didn't look at the history of public education in this country and just considered the matter on the basis of the contemporary situation, you could almost convince me that mayoral control of the school districts is a decent option to consider. On 13WHAM's website, there is an article explaining how the initial stage of the process is going to work for mayoral control, so it looks like this whole shindig is going to move forward.

I've got a fundamental problem with it all, however. Historically, public education was controlled by the population of the community, predominantly the parents. They elected the school board and voted upon matters as needed (like school taxes). This wasn't because of the American love of democracy, no matter how much some Constitution thumping, flag waving folks want you to see it. Sure, there may be a measure of tradition behind that, but it wasn't the primary reason. The primary reason is because the parents (and therefore the community) needed some measure of control over how their children are educated. This was to make sure that it conformed with how they were raising their children and to keep the subjects taught responsive to the needs of the community.

Now, some folks are going to say that I'm taking a far too starry-eyed "Pollyanna reads the news" approach here. And they're probably going to say the same thing on the matter of how education has been approached in the USA also, but that is their opinion and they are as entitled to it as I am to mind. I'm going to respectfully disagree with them in advance. Let me explain why I am opposed to mayoral control, for reasons beyond the fact that it runs counter to how the education of the youth of the nation has been done for generations before now. After all, tradition can be part of the problem rather then the solution. Even I will agree to that.

I oppose mayoral control of the school district because the mayor can not effectively do their job and the job of the school board. Furthermore, in a city like Rochester where the mayor's office is already dealing with the proverbial sinking ship with the economy and infrastructure suffering greatly because of things like the changing face of industry, there is far too much on their plate right now to take on additional things. (If you want to know why the Fast Ferry failed, in my opinion that's a big part of it. Mayor Johnson's folly was a combination of ignoring the real problems in Rochester and his ego. Same is true for everyone else who climbed on to that bandwagon. Again, your opinion may differ.)

I also oppose mayoral control of the school district because it sets a dangerous social precedent. When the rights of the citizens to engage in active participation in their government is curtailed, it begins the process of eroding the rights of all and pushing the country towards a system of government opposed to the democratic republic that was instituted by the Constitution. Removing the right to vote for the school board is a soft way to get the populace familiar with the idea that they can not vote. Oh, I know, somebody is going to say that I'm being paranoid, but take a second and look at this logically. (Because I see that this fad of mayoral control of the school district is starting to spread to different cities across the nation and I believe this is a very bad thing.)

Take a population and tell them that they can't do XYZ. Now, XYZ is a fairly minor thing compared to ZYX, though major elements of it are the same. After a period of time, the population becomes familiar with the policy that XYZ is just not an option for them. Because of the similarity to ZYX, they begin to view this as unimportant or minor. Other policies and actions taken by the governmental authorities against 'minor' things that are like ZYX serves to reinforce this false concept that it is also unimportant. Eventually, in the minds of the population, ZYX's importance is so eroded that it can be removed from the actions permissible to the population under the government, thereby removing various rights and privilages associated with ZYX.

Voting has already been undermined dramatically by the disconnect between our elected officials and the electorate. When actions are taken to curtail voting itself, which mayoral control of the school board does, we begin the process of removing our ability to exercise our right to participate in our government under color of law. Now, it may be that the philosophy of how governments work has changed or something since the founding of the United States of America. I doubt that, however, because there is one fundamental rule that remains correct. All governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. When the populace has reached a point where they decide they've had enough of the given government's actions, they will force a change to how they are governed. This why why feudalism is no longer in place, for example.

Additionally, I oppose mayoral control of the school district because it takes the policy decisions of the school district and additionally politicizies them. The school district is already very politicizes and, if anything, needs less of this. The school system should not be a vehicle for propagandizing and pushing political agendas. Placing control of policy into the hands of the mayor, or any other single elected official, removes the checks and balances of having different opinions. This takes a system already vulnerable to such things as propagandizing and completely removes any few protections it has from flagrant and obvious abuse.

I want my children to learn subject matter, not the agenda of the week. If a given city mayor opposes the theory of evolution, I don't want them to be able to ban it from being taught in school. If they find French Impressionism to be the best thing ever, I don't want them to require it to be the only thing taught in art class. If they hated algerbra or triginometry, I don't want them to completely remove it from the curriculum. Educational insitutions are there to broaden the student's worldview and to teach them various skills. The most important, in my opinion are the following:
  • Critical reasoning
  • Effective communication skills
  • Basic literacy and mathematics
  • A working knowledge of the hard and soft sciences
  • A working knowledge of local, national, and world history
These are all things that should be free of political agenda. A teacher's opinions should stop outside the class room door, just like a reporter's opinions should stop at the headline of their article. Anything else is irresponsible and doing a disservice to the community. If you want to stump for your favorite cause or give your opinion of things, there are places and times that are appropriate to do so. The classroom is not the place for it. I believe that mayoral control is a very large step towards requiring that.

Oh, a side note, on the matter of Creationism being taught in school and religion being taught in school. I believe it is possible to teach these things but it requires a degree of mental complexity in both the students and teacher, as well as a great deal of skill, that is frequently over simplified.

Yes, teach Creationism, but make clear that it is a theory just as Evolution is a theory. Use this as an opportunity to teach what a theory is, how theories are established, and how they are overturned. This is an excellent example to explain how the Heliocentric modle of the solar system came to be accepted upon the basis of overwhelming evidence. Make clear that Creationism is but one of many alternative theories as to how the world came to be as it is today and encourage the students to explore other theories with critical thought and weighing it upon the merits of logic and how well it is supported by evidence. You'll be doing far more for them then just spouting out what a theory is in a 6th grade class on the scientific method (by the way, an educated guess is just another way to say theory).

Yes, teach religion and philosophy. When you do so, place it into cultural context and take a non-biased perspective. In theology classes at the collegeate level, religions are taught with out the students being preached at. If it can be done at college, it can be done at the lower levels with appropriate languaged for the students and concepts introduced when students are ready to understand them. After all, you don't teach a toddler algerbra until they can understand how to count and basic mathematical functions like addition.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti.

So the first news article I see is talking about how relief and aid agencies are getting criticized for the delays in how the distribution of supplies and workers is going. Listen up, Media folks( if you happen to even read this):

Haiti just had a massive natural disaster that has destroyed their infrastructure. Haiti, the country that has been one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and the infrastructure wasn't in good shape to begin with. You know, the country where people were eating dirt cookies because there wasn't enough food and the soil had the right minerals to trick the stomach into not being so upset because it worked like an antacid. Yeah, that Haiti, people. They have NOTHING more then what you see! Stop bitching and help them, you insensitive jackasses!

Now, my next bit of ranting is directed at the relief agencies, namely the various branches of the world's military finest who are deployed there.

Waiting for transportation!?! You idiots already have transportation. Look down at those things sticking off the ends of your legs. You see them? They're called feet! Walk, march, hike, or run the damn two miles rather then piss and moan about the lack of transportation. If that is what the military is made of, all of you idiots deserve the beatings you get around the world in the various conflicts that are currently occurring. Go back to your roots, use those basic training skills and haul ass to where you're needed, dipshits. Stop being a damn embarrassment to the rest of your countrymen and grow a hair on your ass. If I pulled that shit, I'd be still living on the grace and good will of my relatives in the middle of nowhere western New York with out ever having been gainfully employed or accomplished anything over the last ten years.

You civilians, you're not exempt from this bit of verbal ass-kicking. Are you there to help or posture? If you're there to help, roll up your damn shirt sleeves, stop bitching about the situation, and do something. Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. There are people down there in Haiti who are doing something (like those guys from the US military who have drop-kicked the airport into some vague sembelance of working order). Either start helping them or get the hell out of Haiti. There's too many people who are in real need down there for the responsible adults who are working to waste their time babysitting and coddling you candyass, spoiled little snots. Like I said earlier: Lead follow or get the hell out of the way!

All of you morons, stop being a damn embarrassment to the rest of the human race, will you?

To the people who are working and making things happen down there in Haiti: bless you all from the depths of my heart. I salute you, wish I could assist you, and hope that you all stay safe down there. Don't over exert yourselves and be careful. I and many, many others are proud of you and what you are doing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Great. :P

So, it's been determined that I have an allergy to Ibuprofen. As the pharmacist who really was useless on the matter of my newly discovered Codeine allergy gave little information about what medications I can safely take with my Ibuprofen allergy, I decided to do some research.

I am ... displeased. The medications that I've used for my migraines in the past are on the list of what I should be avoiding. As the reaction that I have is a precursor of anaphylaxis, I'm going to be avoiding these things this way I don't need to be rushed to the hospital because I'm going into shock. Now I need to learn more about the Codeine allergy.

I'm contemplating more knitting.

I'm seriously thinking about knitting up some socks or baby booties. My mother-in-law has very kindly offered to help me with finding patterns or figuring out how to knit on multiple needles. I'm most likely going to take her up on it. Right now, however, I need to pick out what pattern I want to use. I'm also going to try my hand at crocheting lace.

First, however, I should probably finish up spinning the wool that I've got sitting here. To say the least, I've got a few irons in the fire right now. I'd post more, but the baby is getting antsy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hmm...

So, it's winter and I tend to make casseroles more during this time of year. I think I want to do a few new ones. I've been looking around on the internet for ideas that'll let me use up some of my stash of beans. Here's what has caught my eye:

Zulandt's Lentil Casserole: I've got the lentils and all I ever use them for is soup. I'm thinking this could make something nice and hearty for a weeknight dinner. Beloved often gets rather harried at work and sometimes winds up missing lunch all together. I'm thinking this could make a good fix for the feeling of hunger that comes with that and possibly a nice reheated lunch for the next day.

Navy Bean and Artichoke Casserole: We both like artichokes and I've almost four cups of dried navy beans sitting on the shelf. I may need to make a few substitutions, but this looks interesting. If I make a loaf of bread with this or some rolls, it could make for a nice dinner. I'm thinking that it'll only need a few things picked up at the store and if I add a little crumbled bacon to this, Beloved will probably really enjoy it.

Green Split Pea and Vegetable Casserole: This looks like an interesting recipe and can make for something different to do with the four cups of dried split peas I've got on the shelf. I'd really like to do something more then just split pea soup. While we all enjoy it, I want to have something different to do with it. This looks like something that we can put a simple ham sandwich with it and make for a full meal. Beloved feels that each meal should include meat some how. The only time that he's willing to consider not having meat in a meal is if it's pasta, and even then I get funny looks when I don't have meat in the menu.

Taco Casserole
: I'll be making a Frankenstein monster out of this recipe, the one I've got in my Campbell's Casseroles and One Dish Meals cookbook, and the cookbook from my Great-Grandmother. I have almost four cups of chili in the freezer right now along with four cups of dried kidney beans on the shelf. Before I start making up more chili, I need to use up the stuff in the freezer. The cashew chili went over alright, except for the fact that Beloved felt it needed meat. I'm in the midst of developing the perfect chili recipe. I've already done the chili recipe that burns like the fires of Hell, so now I need to do something else that is just so wonderful that it's to die for.

I'll post up some stuff later about that recipe and a few other things of moderate interest. I think I'm going to be using this blog as a spot where I do my menu planning. Who knows, maybe the internet will find this useful or interesting.

Good Morning, World!

I'm pleased to report that the sweater fits. It's actually a little bit big on Snuggle-Bug. I'll be posting a picture up a little later. Aside from that, I believe that there is an excellent description for this fool Blagovich: drama whore.

I'm sitting here reading the news via Google when I find this quote, which happened to also be the headline:
I'm blacker than Obama.
I'm sitting here rather amazed by the fact that he had the nerve to say that. There is a fine line between courage and stupidity, I suspect that Blagovich has flirted with it many a time. Talk about political suicide and I think that his picture is going to be the first that pops up for poster child. We'll put aside the whole pissing on the President thing. I'm not a big fan of the President but you've got to at least respect the office, which clearly didn't happen here. That, however, doesn't seem to matter too much in the eyes of the populace at large.

Where do I begin? If Blagovich is truly from the impoverished background that he claims, you'd think that he'd show a little more compassion and a little more pride in the successes of others who came from it. It doesn't even really look like he's claiming to be a person who rose up from poverty when you think about it, but rather having lived in the midst of it and letting people jump to that conclusion. Why do I say that? Well, if you have ever used a laundromat, you know that it's incredibly expensive to go wash your clothes, even if it is one of the more inexpensive ones. Hubby and I drop roughly 80 dollars every two weeks to wash clothes. And that's not including the cost of gasoline to drive there, laundry soap, or various other minor details that would be included into it. That's just to put the clothes into the washing machines and dryers.

Consider the cost of water, power, and the other factors that go into the overhead of a laundromat versus the sheer volume of money spent there by a functionally captive customer base (like in the poorer sections of the inner city where the general practice is to use the laundromat because you can't afford your own washer and dryer) and it's easy to see that they make money fairly easily. He can't say he grew up a poor man when you've got income flowing fairly easily and in a dependable fashion, compared to the neighbors who are struggling to find work and are about to have their unemployment run out, but still need to pay YOU money to wash their clothes. I could go on, but I think it's pretty clear what the picture I'm painting here is.

Now, we've got this false image of 'hey, I grew up poorer then he did!' going on and Blagovich is trying to say that this equates to the experience of the black man in urban America. Hey, I'm a white country girl and even I know that the experience is going to be dramatically different. I've seen racisim in action and it's a disgusting thing. I've seen black people get treated like crap because they looked different then everyone else in the room and were believed to be inferior because of a laundry list of stereotypes that haven't changed since the days of Jim Crow.

It didn't matter that the black man in question had a degree from a prestigeous college, a good job, and in all respects was a pillar of the community. He still got proverbially spat on and treated like he was an ignorant, uncultured sub-human wretch who was some how incapeable of understanding subjects like economics or politics. Ironically enough, the black man in question had a political sciences degree and had minored in economics when he was at college, actually teaching classes at a local junior university. Because he wasn't dressed in a 3 peice business suit and carrying a briefcase, however, he was treated like he was one of the lowest of the low. Blagovich shouldn't go around and say that he was worse off or something else like that because he'll never have that strike against him by society at large.

We, as a society, tolerate quiet and sly racism. It's changed some, but it is still there. If anything, it has become more stealthy and subtle then it was before the Civil Rights movement. Now, I'm not saying that discrimination against people who are white doesn't happen. It does. It happens and is just as ugly as discrimination against people who are not white. Society, however, acts that discrimination against people who are not white is acceptable if it is not overt and too loudly voiced. A slur said quietly is just as hurtful as one screamed loudly, and just as much cause for shame.

I would contend that Blagovich's most recent nonsense laid bare his own racisim. Why do I say that? Because he had the nerve to say that his petty experiences are the same as a culturally approved set of biases against a person on the basis of their skin color. If you want to wave the flag that you came from poverty, that's one thing. You can play the game of 'my daddy is poorer then your daddy' all day. You bring race into it and it makes it very clear that you believe that racism is fine because you're acting as one yourself. You are calling attention to a difference in skin color and attempting to make it into a negative thing.

At one point, I just thought that Blagovich was the village idiot of Chicago and Illinois. Now, I'm certain of it. I don't think his daddy taught him that a wise man will be quiet and a fool will open his mouth and prove it. Must be it got lost in the lessons on hair styling or something, because I've got a feeling there's a lot of common sense that his parents taught him which he has just thrown out the window.

Aside from all that... I think I feel a little better for ranting about that. I'm still kinda ticked off but purging it helped some. Just expected it to be only a few short sentences and it turned into a full blown rant. Heh, some days work out like that, I guess. Now to drink up another cup of coffee and go thru the mail.