Monday, June 30, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings Number Four

It's that time of the week again! Nothing like a little word association to get the week started off right. As always, many thanks to Luna Nina for hosting!

  1. Delicious :: Pastries. Yummy yummy pastries.
  2. Element :: Avatar: The Last Airbender One of my favorite cartoon series.
  3. Cohesion :: Not on a Monday.
  4. Course :: College. Debt. Depressing thoughts.
  5. Blister :: First aid when hiking. Ugh. I always get the things. I have scars from them.
  6. Incomplete :: My chain of thought.
  7. Socks :: Help prevent number five. Usually.
  8. Instruction :: Depends on what it is.
  9. Pill :: Birth control?
  10. Impressive :: Yes, yes I am. Thanks for noticing!
Always a fun exercise!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Monsters in the Makeup Aisle

After selecting toothbrush heads and hand sanitizer, I turned to the most terrifying section of Target.

Huge female faces bore inhumanly white teeth at the colors laden aisles. Their skin was impossibly smooth, almost alien when compared to real humans, and their hair spun silk.

They are the Standard. They are what all women are told to become. They are perfection, and I am but one small sack of consumer meat.

Toys, toys, toys.
Three items remained on my list. Those three items lay within that gauntlet of insecurity.

I took a lungful of recycled store air, and stepped under the gaze of airbrushed beauties above.

Make up for me is fun. It's something to enhance the features I like, invoke an image to go with my clothing choice, and another way to influence first impressions. I only wear it for special occasions, or on the rare day I feel like being a bit girlier than usual.

Cosmetics, in and of themselves, aren't bad. It's the pressure behind their use that does the damage. Those huge, smiling faces are the ideal we're told to pursue from a young age. If we identify as female, we're told to become them, and if we identify as male, we're told to partner with them. Few details have changed over the years, but they're still all oddly monochrome.

They don't take hard won scars into account. They vilify the lines earned by life lived. They erase the glory of assorted skin pigmentation, and the smiles encourage people to spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary dental procedures.

Faces like those helped erase my smile when my adult teeth came in. Those ideals are what gave bullies more material to use against me. Those smiles sometimes still make me think about spending money better put towards other things to straighten my teeth and replace the chipped bonding covering the stain put there by serious childhood illness.

I eat well, my teeth are generally healthy, and they're still very strong. The only ones I've ever had removed were the wisdom teeth, and those had to go because they were growing into my jaw bone, sinuses and other teeth. The rest don't hinder my nutrition, but they're not what magazines and TV tell me they should be.

This didn't run through my head as I pondered my purchase, though. Instead, I attempted to puzzle out the code behind foundation. What is my skin tone? Is it warm? Cool? Which shade is closest to my natural coloring?

Which brand's the most gentle? Will it make me break out? How hard will it be to get off at the end of the day? Will it ruin my costumes if it runs?

In the end, I settled with a brand I've had luck with in the past.

Since that day, I've experimented a bit. I like the smoothing effect it has in the web cam images I've taken. So long pictures of allergic shiners! Still, I don't see much difference in the mirror before I apply lip and eye color.

When I wear it, I don't turn into some new, perfect being. I'm still me, and I'm still in control of how I want to appear to the world.

When it washes off, fine lines will still be there, same with the freckles, the mole by my nose and any hormonal break outs present that day. Hair color would hide the silvery greys I find more of every month, but they'll always come back as the length comes back. If I were to go into debt for elective dental work, the old smile would still be there, staring at me from old pictures and firmly planted in my memory.

When I look in the mirror, I see shadows of who I was and who I will become. They combine to form who I am today.

Who I am, who I was and who I will be are far better than the monstrous beauty this culture continues to nurture.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Week Two (A Day Late)

I'm finally getting around to this! Thanks, as always, to Rochelle Wistoff-Fields for hosting!

It's been a while since I've written anything remotely dark, so I thought I'd try for that angle today. If you're so inclined, let me know what you think.

Prompt photo used with permission for this story's purpose only.
Copyright Madison Woods
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Word Count: 99

Swallow the Rot

To all things, the end must come. Once full of mischief, proud Pan breathed his last in the forest of his birth. Only the trees and their animal residents witnessed magic’s final demise.

Coyotes, crows and flies all paid their respects with bowed heads and hungry mouths. Bellies  full, they moved on; the uneaten left to rot. Sickly sweet, stench passed with the flesh.


The tree, bumpy of skin and luscious of leaf stood silent as it drank the wild god’s final essence with every drop of rain. It cradled the bones long after they grew brittle and white.

(Note: Yes, I realize this probably isn't what happens when a god dies, but I like putting a more realistic spin on things sometimes.)


Friday, June 27, 2014

Should ALL Speech Be Free?

I think I'll be delaying today's foray into fiction in order to talk about the prompt from BlogHer instead, "Do you strongly support freedom of speech? Do you think it should have limits?"

My typical reaction to the question of free speech is, "Sure, you can say whatever you want, but you still need to deal with the reactions it gets." I'd written an entry about people trying to justify their abuse by calling it criticism here, which is a good example of this concept.

This entry turned out more
serious than I thought it would,
so here's a picture of a kitty
on his favorite ironing board.
Yes, you're free to spew hate, anger or threats, but if the target strikes back in the form of exercising their rights under the law or anything else, you don't get to whine about having your rights infringed upon. It's simple cause and effect. If you decide to threaten someone's life or safety, be prepared to pay for it.

There are, of course, other forms of speech that must be regulated. The most popular example is of yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater. Anything that incites a riot or mass panic is an exception to the rule, because it will cause immediate and potentially fatal harm.

In today's technological age, I feel there are few more exceptions to the rule. Those circulate primarily around sharing other peoples' private information. Identity theft is always a concern, but there are some cases where publicly listing personal information can prove fatal.

The example I'm thinking of is what has happened, and may still happen today, to the LGBTQA+ community. Last year or the year before, I heard about someone who managed an anti-LGBTQ+ web page, and somehow got ahold of names (before and after transition), addresses, phone numbers and other identifying information of transgender individuals. They then posted this information on their web page in a sort of hit list for hateful viewers to take action on.

It's a terrifying idea. The LGBTQ community is still unfairly targeted for violence, but unless the members are free about expressing their gender identities or sexual orientations, no one needs to know about it. It's up to each individual to make the decision on how to live their lives.

When a complete stranger outs them, especially for the purpose of pointing them out as targets, not only is their personal power taken away, but they're put in real physical danger.

It's like giving an abuser the current address of their victim and encouraging them to beat their target into submission. Sadly, I wouldn't be at all surprised if that happens, too.


Same goes for celebrity addresses. I'm pretty sure every well known celebrity has stalker fans who pose a very real danger, and I know several have taken restraining orders out on some of their scarier admirers.

That's why that form of speech should be restricted. You and I may see it as common human decency not to spread sensitive information around, but not everyone feels the same. For those who do decide to put the lives of innocent people at risk like that, there should be laws in place and clear cut consequences for breaking them.

Outside of examples like the ones above, I do support freedom of speech. We each need to decide how we use that freedom, though. If you want to spout vitriol, there's nothing stopping you from doing so, but don't be surprised when others exercise their right to free speech by pushing back just as hard.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Sticky Issue of Leaving Comments

I feel so guilty about not perusing more blogs the last couple weeks. I enjoy the peeks into others' lives, the lessons gained from them and sharing in a small part of the emotional spectrum. Perhaps I'll designate one day this weekend as "Blog Catch Up Day".

On a somewhat related note, the prompt from BlogHer for the day is "Do you think you "live and let live," or do you think you comment a lot on other people's lives?"

For the most part, I've learned to keep my trap shut on hot button issues on the internet, like politics, religion and diet. If I know the person relatively well already, or we share common ground on some aspects, I'll leave a comment. Since those issues are intimate enough for people to get defensive about them, I'll usually just leave a few words of support for those who may be struggling, or pass the post by completely. If the topic interests me, I may take the time to research it further. Then again, if I agree with the sentiment, I'll say so, even if I don't share in the belief framework.

It's ok not to have identical opinions on everything. I personally try to keep a balanced point of view on things, and do my research on topics or events before forming an opinion. As a result, I rarely agree with the majority of people speaking about them.

I do get irritated when certain topics come up, but before leaving a comment, I calm down and word my thoughts as well as possible. Then, I usually ignore the thread. Most of the internet arguments I've gotten into have been pointless, and my ego's not fragile enough to need defending from strangers I'll never meet in person. Those who care about me away from the computer usually put petty disagreements aside in the interest of maintaining a mutual relationship.

If a friend is struggling with something I have in the past, and they're open to suggestions, I may leave a comment about what's worked for me in the past. If I know that sort of thing annoys them, I either won't say anything, or I'll ask if they're interested in what's worked for me.

I generally try to adhere to the old adage of, "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Is there such a thing as pre-Con Crud?

For those not in the know, "Con Crud" is slang for a cold or infection picked up during a convention.

I'm so tempted to pick one of these up for an occasion just like this one. (Affiliate link, AND product I wouldn't mind having.)
Tempted to pick this up for occasions just like this one.
(Affiliate link. Also, a product I wouldn't mind having.)
Since comic, sci-fi, fantasy and other conventions are all about a large group of like minded people gathering in the same place, it's common for attendees to catch some bug that may be going around.

I have the feeling this year will be worse than usual for that. The bug hubby and I had last week is apparently highly contagious. He ended up infecting me, after all, and everyone at his work. Good thing most of my social day-to-day interaction is over the internet. Recently, I saw a friend's little boy caught it, too, so it's going around.

Today, my congestion is worse, as is the cough. I also noticed hubby had started coughing yesterday, too.

Fantastic.

Ugh. I'll do everything I can to knock this sucker out before next Wednesday. Provided I don't catch something else by then, I shouldn't be able to pass this thing on after a week of symptom onset. That's a good thing, at least.

Camping while sick is a miserable experience, so I'd rather boost my immunity before the convention. It's just irritating to be sick again after two or three whole days of feeling healthy enough to function normally.

During the convention, though, I'll be carrying hand sanitizer around with me, and maybe a small bottle of tea tree oil. I was going to hand out salted peanuts from a tin as a part of the Galactic Hitchhiker costume, but that idea might be scrapped unless I can find some inexpensive individually packaged peanuts. I'll have to check on that if I make it to the store today.

Maybe I'll carry Larry the Lymphocyte around just in case, too.

By the way, speaking of costumes! If you'd like a peek at the ones I'll be wearing, head on over to Random and Crafty. I'm not modeling them, but I did take pictures of most of what I'll be wearing for my Wordless Wednesday post.

I plan on posting pictures from the convention in that blog as I attend, since I'll have an internet connection in our hotel room.

Crummy feelings aside, I'm extremely excited about it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Movin' to the Music

Between blogs, housework, crafting and working on my latest writing gig, I took a break to look for something. I didn't find it, but I did find the old iPod mini I won at one of my previous jobs.

I used to listen to it all the time during my commute to and from work, but when I left that job, the gadget got put away.

I'm not a fan of Apple, and the program that came with this little piece of tech had a way of screwing up my computer at the time.

After finding it again yesterday, I figured I'd see if music helped with my running.

Well, today I woke up with congested sinuses and a cough. That usually just means I need to get some cleaning done, but it also meant that running wouldn't go quite the way I wanted it to.

Anyway, as I was out, doing more walking than running, I listened to the play list I'd loaded onto this little thing all those years ago.

I still genuinely like some of the songs, like Shut Up and Drive, by Rihanna and Flirtin' With Disaster, by Molly Hatchet, but some of the songs were just downright annoying.

Back when I first got this thing, I was miserable, I had some rather manipulative people in my life, and I was doing next to no creating. I can comfortably say I didn't like the person I had become. A lot of the music I'd selected reflected that. There was a fair amount of dark, angsty stuff that I seem to have grown out of.

As I flipped through the play list, I reflected on how much one person can change. I still have my difficult days, and depression does come to visit from time to time, but overall, I'm much more optimistic and productive than I had been. Stepping off the path mainstream culture tells me I should be on has done a world of good.

If I can figure out how to change what's on that iPod without installing Apple software, I think it's more than time to get rid of the last of that old stagnancy and replace them with the flow of today.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings Number Three

I've been utterly distracted this morning by cuddly kitties, brainstorming plans and thoughts of next week's convention. So, blogs are all a bit later in going up than I had intended.

Ah well.

Here's this week's....

Thanks to Luna Nina for hosting, as usual.

  1. Closed :: minds (I know too many of them.)
  2. Tourists :: The good, the bad and the moderately strange looking
  3. Footsteps :: Late at night, you're home alone and someone is pacing up along your hallway.
  4. Ginger :: Mmm...good in soups, salads and all sorts of other foods. Yum.
  5. Way :: Out.
  6. Designer :: Jeans (too rich for my blood)
  7. Mattress :: Swamps. (According to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, that's where they come from.)
  8. Disaster :: I'm not feeling the aster here.
  9. Chips :: Potato wedges? Unhealthy bagged snacks? Doesn't matter where I am, both of those chip varieties sound good.
  10. Campaign :: Politics. Ugh.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

When the kitty wants your attention, the kitty gets it.

Today was all about taking a break from the internet. Errands got run, projects for the next couple of Crochet Basics entries on Random and Crafty got started and/or finished, and sci-fi shows on Netflix.

It wasn't quite what I had planned on doing this weekend, but that's ok.

Of course, the kitties were very happy to take advantage of the more sedentary moments, especially our sweet tabby.

Baby girl, how do you expect me to finish this crochet project with you lying on my arm?

Oh, that's right. You don't. Head scratches it is.

This was also the first weekend in quite a while that my hubby had both days off. Since the beginning of landscaping season, he's been working six days a week. I'm glad he finally got two days off in a row, even if he does always seem to throw my schedule off.

That's ok, though. I firmly believe free-form days are just as important as scheduled days.

Well, I'm off to watch a bit more Doctor Who and see if I can get this last project done.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer's Blue Plate Special

I love summer. I can play outside without being smothered in layers of clothing, everything's green and it's just a generally fun time of year.

There's one thing I don't enjoy, though: being the blue plate special.

Mosquitoes are the primary offender here, but deer flies are horrible, and I'm always on the look out for ticks. Ticks just creep me out.

They're right up there with leaches. Anything that latches on, stays on for an extended period of time and only drops off when thoroughly swollen with my blood is right on top of my creep-out-ometer.

Blech.

Anyway, back to mosquitoes. One of my favorite YouTube channels, SciShow, aired an episode all about the irritating little suckers. I'll let Hank Green have your attention for a little while.


I knew they targeted me! Getting attacked when I'm alone is one thing, like when I was outside for all of five minutes yesterday evening, but it's just unfair when I'm with other people who aren't getting eaten alive.

If I knew how, I'd demand an end to mosquito discrimination now.

That said, are any of my friends blood type O? If so, we should hang out at BBQs more often.

Y'know, 'cause I like you.

For reasons.

(You'll get the joke if you watch the video, promise.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Flash Fiction - Week One (for me!)

Since I'm trying to get my fiction pants back on in addition to the havoc in my life, I've decided to try my hand at Friday Fictioneers. What happens is that Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts a photo prompt on her blog, and authors who wish to take part write a 100 word story off of the picture.

So, here's my first attempt. Please be gentle! It's been a while since I've written flash fiction, so I'm a bit out of practice.

PHOTO PROMPT
Copyright -Mary Shipman
(Used with permission for this purpose only.)
Genre: ...um...speculative fiction? Just fiction? Family fiction? I don't know.
Word count: 100

Reassured

Just as the first spring at her California job arrived, storms tore through the Midwest. Prayers did nothing to stop her tiny hometown from making the national news for the only reason they ever do. A twister, like the one that had traumatized her into leaving, ravaged the place.

A day later, she picked her way through the family’s ruined home. The stagnant air over the ruined structure stank of wet fabric.

Glancing over at her mother, who currently searched for family photos in the wreckage, she rapped the flowered wall fragment. “Don’t worry, mom. I’m here. We’ll rebuild it.”


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday - My First Convention

Ah, convention season. It's chalk full of fun, frivolity and geekiness. Yes, these are my people.

I was chatting with a friend about the convention we'll be attending in July, and the excitement of planning costumes, attending panels and seeing people I seldom seen reminds me of the first geeky convention I'd ever attended.

Star Trek!

My mom is the one who introduced us to Star Trek. My brother and I spent the majority of our childhoods in a town in upstate New York. He, our mom and I used to gather around the little television in her room back when we lived with our grandparents to watch daily episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We loved the quality of the show, the characters, the themes and the unity it brought. My mom's favorite character was Worf, and I believe she picked up a Klingon dictionary somewhere along the line.

I personally liked Wesley Crusher, though I now know he annoyed many adult fans. Like him, I was an awkward kid. Although I wasn't brilliant in school, thanks to my learning disability, I still thirsted for knowledge, like he did. Today, I enjoy reading Wil Wheaton's blog from time to time and follow him on twitter. It'd be awesome to meet him, one day.

I also looked up to Doctor Crusher and Deanna Troi, as they embodied many of the qualities I hoped to grow into as I reached womanhood.

Because our town wasn't very big, and money was always on the tight side, we didn't have many opportunities to take part in the tiny geek community of the day.

One year, though, a Star Trek convention came to town! Marina Sirtis, the lady who played Deanna Troi, William Shatner, who played Kirk in the original series, and I believe Jonathan Frakes, the gent who played William Riker, all attended. Thinking back, it still seems a little on the unbelievable side to me. Who would think Syracuse would be big enough for the stars of a then popular show to visit?

All I remember of the venue is that it was a wide open space. People had tables set up around the periphery, and there was an area with a stage set up.

Being on the shy side, I stuck close to my mom's and brother's sides. At the time, there seemed to be a lot of people, many of them dressed up as Starfleet officers or Klingons. Even back then, I privately thought that looked like a lot of fun.

The highlight of the day, was seeing Marina Siritis talk. I remember her talking about the hair pieces they gave her to fluff up what she already had, and the padded jumpsuit she had to wear. More than that, I remember her confidence and the way that shined on the stage.

Even more vividly, though, is actually getting to meet her during the signing. My little brother, a bit braver than I was, politely asked her out to dinner. I believe he got a smile out of her, and a very kind rejection.

I don't remember what I said to her, though, if anything. It was probably just a simple "Hi" and "thank you", but I recall being honored that she took the time to meet with her fans as they filed past. The gangly little eleven or twelve year old and her younger brother had some big challenges to face, but they now had one more wonderful memory to reflect back on.

I kept that picture for a very long time. I might still have it stashed away with other childhood keepsakes somewhere. I don't know. It may have been lost in the chaotic turns my life has taken since then.

Our mom made a very smart choice in deciding to attend that convention with us. I hope she had as much fun as we did.

Since then, I've been to a number of other conventions. I can't afford to attend many, but I've enjoyed the ones I've been able to make it to.

This year, Marina Sirtis is also attending the on in July, but not because of her appearances on Star Trek. She was invited to this one because of her work on the Gargoyles cartoon. Hopefully, I can at least see her talk again.

Now that I'm halfway across the country from my mom and brother, we can't attend together, but if I get to talk to her, I'll say hi for them.

Still a Star Trek fan, too. My buddy and I randomly chose this MadLibs style game while dressed up as Red Shirts from the original series during the 2012 convention we attended.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Open Letter to Unwelcome Tenants


Dear uninvited virii and/or bacteria,

While we appreciate your interest in this organic space, it is not available for occupation. We understand your need for procreation, food and shelter, but we must insist you find it elsewhere.

The body owner is most displeased by your continued presence, and has notified us of her desire for a swift eviction.

That said, please vacate the premises post haste. If you do not comply, we will continue to remove you with whatever force is necessary.

Signed,
Larry Lesterfink
Head Leukocyte
Infection Division


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"A Pep Talk in Every Drop"? Really, Halls?

Whenever my husband gets sick, we end up with a whole bunch of Halls cough drop wrappers around the house.

I don't blame him, either. They do the job, he doesn't care about ingredients as much as I do, and who cares about cleaning when you're struggling to breathe through your nose?

When I took a closer look, I noticed something new about these wrappers since the last time we were sick.


Yes! Motivational slogans! Is Halls trying to get holistic?

I think it might be more helpful if those little phrases didn't come from an irritating company team building/encouragement meeting. I feel like I'm reading the script for a bad motivational speech.

The last things I want to hear when I'm coughing, sneezing, achy, and ready to drop are, "Power through", "Conquer today", "Dust off and get up" or "Be resilient".

They're lucky I remembered how to put my clothing on this morning.

The "Let's hear your battle cry" one got me laughing, and then coughing, though. Does a zombie-groan count as a battle cry? Maybe a nice spray of germs?

Oh, Halls marketers. There are better ways to pay lip service to treating the body and mind.

If you wanted to go the psychological route, maybe you should have tried some phrases more like, "It's ok to sleep", "Just relax" and "Let someone else do it". Those of us who already feel guilty about taking time off to get better and prevent the spread of germs don't need a guilt trip from our cough drops, too.

That said, I am slowly starting to feel a bit better. Classic Doctor Who helped me through my conscious hours as I worked on crafts yesterday, and my awesome hubby made his wonderfully peppery noodle soup for both of us. He's much better today, so hopefully this will only last about a week for me, too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings #2 (Why am I conscious? Edition)

Ugh. Another Monday.
Ugh. Still sick.
Mmm...echinacea and honey tea.
And now, unconscious mutterings.

http://subliminal.lunanina.com/

  1.  Today :: I write. Then recover.
  2. Lips :: Chapped.
  3. Seethe :: with desire. (...oh, will I be attempting the romance bit to my novel this week?)
  4. Desired :: Peripheral vision (explains seethe)
  5. Patrol :: Car
  6. Nails :: Fingers, hammers, probably not a good combination.
  7. Pastry :: Dooooooooooooouggggghhhhhhhbutts!
  8. Jacket :: Unnecessary. Though, Doctor Who pulls the look off well.
  9. Button :: Cutie.
  10. Feel :: Unsavory at best.
Thanks to Luna Nina for once again providing the opportunity to take part in this fun exercise!

Stay tuned for the next installment of "Quit Coughing, You Need Those Lungs"!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Family Means Sharing

I have three younger siblings. Before our family split, that meant our parents got to put up with four sick kids at the same time whenever one of us brought something home with us. Naturally, that meant four miserable little voices, four cranky attitudes, and when chicken pox came around, four itchy sets of skin.

I don't know how they did it, but we all managed to get through it.

Now that I'm married, my husband and I share each other's germs, too, regardless of how careful we are. Hopefully, the cold he shared with me will pass quickly.
My dad and I share an interest in photography, and my Opa
used to play piano for us when we were little.
Public Domain photo by Nicola Parantoni

It's funny how the concept of sharing changes as we get older. I'm sure if we were all still living under the same roof, we'd share infection, but now, we share information more than microorganisms. We chat on the phone, send articles over the internet and, not often enough, converse in person.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in America, it's Father's Day. These family appreciation days have always been a little touch and go for me.

Parent-child relationships are always complicated. Some are lucky to share a bond of deep tenderness, while others suffer from things like distance or the aftermath of abuse, and everything in between. Regardless, those days highlight the complicated myriad of relationships parents and children share.

One of the benefits of being a child of divorce is the opportunity to have twice as many parents as those who are children of lasting marriages. I once had two moms and two dads. Now that I'm married, I have three moms and three dads.

I guess my Oma and Opa count, too, as they helped my mom provide us with a warm home, food and clothing in the years immediately after the split. So, bump that current number up to four of each.

That's a lot of parents. That's also a lot of love.

Despite the trials and traumas of my youth, I always knew I was loved. Even if I could only feel sadness, hopelessness or self loathing in my heart, my mind still held the fact of that love firmly in place. That silent knowledge helped to keep me going through long periods of profound depression.

I share that love with them. That's the funny thing about affection. There doesn't have to be a finite amount. As it's shared, it continues to grow and spread. Love is like infection, but usually without the leaky facial orifices, sore throat and general fatigue.

For that, I thank my big, complicated, quirky, sometimes dysfunctional, wonderful family. You have my love and gratitude, moms and dads.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lucky Number 13

If you've watched any television last week, or spent any time online, odds are, you've heard that yesterday was Friday the 13th.

Repeatedly.

You may have also heard that it's a full moon, Mercury is in retrograde and solar flares have been messing communication systems up.

Who'd like to join me for some howling?
Image Credit: NASA
Well, that's all true.

The world is coming to an end! Altogether now, let's fall to our knees, thrust our fists into the air and bellow, "NOOOOO" at the tops of our lungs!


Or, y'know, not.

Doom and gloom aside, Friday the 13th ended up being rather entertaining for me.

Hubby and I decided to go see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Super cute movie! Well worth the ticket money. I'd suggest seeing it, especially if you liked the first one.

I had to grin when I saw the theater number.

13.

Towards the beginning of the movie, a number cropped up.

13.

When did we get home?

10:10

Thought I was going to say 13, huh? Though, the repetition of 10:10 was pretty interesting to my then numerically driven mind.

Synchronicity like that sometimes make me wonder if the Universe is having a chuckle at the tiny, over-analytical humans' expense.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spam and Rice?

Rice isn't bad, but in the eternal words of Monty Python, "I DON'T LIKE SPAM!" Maybe I just haven't had it prepared in a palatable way, but canned hog just isn't very appetizing. I'm even less fond of internet spam.
Then again, this might not be too bad.
by jefferyw, [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr

Actually, I'm kind of snickering to myself right now. Since I moderate all of my comments, some don't make it through, and I've gotten pretty good at spotting spammers. This morning, I noticed a comment awaiting moderation on Alternative Wiring.

The first bell that went off was the fact it was in another language with the last word linked to a web page. I still thought it was spam, but there was still the chance it could just be someone who can read English, but don't have a grip on writing it.

No, I did not click the link.

Off to Google translate I went. I had a hunch it may have been Hindi, but since I wasn't 100% sure, I hit detect language and got, "Interesting article. I too write articles look here."

Am I good, or am I good?

Anyway, the prompt from BlogHer might generate some good stories. "Have you ever gotten a comment that scared you?"

As for comments? No. I've gotten a few that angered me, several that made me roll my eyes and others that didn't get a reaction other than "delete", but none that actually scared me.

However, when I was still a teenager, I did have a couple of cyber bullies target me.

One still pops up from time to time, who thinks I'm afraid of her. In reality, she's not worth my time or effort, which is why I don't respond to her. She's one of those pathetic people who can't find confidence in herself without tearing other people down. Being heartily disliked isn't something to be proud of.

Another had actually hacked my network and lorded that information over me. I believe he was later caught by law enforcement, since he did the same thing to enough other people to get caught. No clue what happened to him beyond that, though.

The last one tried scaring a few friends and I. He succeeded in scaring a couple of them into deleting their existing accounts and going into hiding. By that point, I'd had enough experience to spot him for what he was, stand up to him and cut him out of my life.

Of course, there have been several others who tried bullying me since then, and failed miserably. What's the point in targeting someone who a) won't feed the bully's ego, b) knows their rights and c) isn't afraid to exercise those rights by reporting the individual to the appropriate parties?

So, yeah, spam and bullies get annoying, but at least there are ways of handling them.

As for rice? Well, I just found out it can stand for Respect, Integrity, Courage and Excellence. That works well as a way to counter the less savory side of internet culture.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Picture Says a Thousand (Not Very Flattering) Words

Today's prompt from BlogHer is "After you leave a comment, do you go back to check and see if people responded to your comment? Why or why not?"

I used to do that fairly regularly, but not so much anymore. Usually, I'll ask for notification of follow up comments, but since starting the link ups I've been doing, I've stopped going back.

I realize comment sections are supposed to be there for conversations, but sometimes my brain just doesn't want to go in that direction. That's probably true for a lot of people.

In other news, Mercury retrograde has really been kicking my butt. I realize not everyone believes in that, and that's fine, but the chaos it supposedly brings has held true for me.

Things have been breaking down, technology hasn't been cooperating and I've just been feeling physically crummy for the past couple of days. This morning was pretty awful, though I'm starting to feel a bit better.

The headache is going away, at least. Good thing, since I have some errands to run. Hauling groceries around on foot will substitute for exercise. I mean, carrying who knows how many pounds of food for the month over two miles is physically demanding.

Boring entry.

Well, let's spice it up with an unintentionally artsy picture.

Housecleaning. Not a glamorous occupation. Not sure how people look good doing it, but I don't even try.
Goofy, isn't it? I rather like the cat. She wandered in and sat there as the camera went off, the little scene stealer.

My husband's building himself a new computer, and the case finally came in the mail yesterday. The fact it's almost half as tall as I am amused me so much that I wanted to get a comparison picture with the box.

The only way I could think of to do it was to set the timer and let it rip.

It turned out to be a great example of how I can be a colossal goofball in a smallish body.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why I Don't Do Drug Research Studies

Shortly after making that last entry about my life with asthma, I got a flyer in the mail.

I thought the inhaler would be a fitting way to block out our address.

Apparently, CRI is pretty desperate for participants in the study, since hubby and I have been seeing commercials about it for about a month, now.

I snickered a bit when I got the mail, because I'm the last person who would ever take part in a study for experimental medication.

My body's sensitive to a lot of medications out there, and I already have a very hard time trusting meds in general. I realize the FDA needs to approve prescription and over the counter drugs before they're put on the market, but I still have a hard time trusting that process for the two following reasons:
  • Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the testing, result analysis and reporting to the FDA. That means they have the power over the information available to the FDA to judge a drug's fitness for consumption.
  • The FDA has a history of putting people with financial or personal ties to said pharmaceutical companies.
These two issues alone demonstrate a massive conflict of interest, and they have been the reason for serious medical consequences before.

Prozac is the biggest one that comes to mind, as it was only after it had been put on the market that its effects of increasing suicidal thoughts and violent actions came to light. Apparently, it may also contribute to birth defects. The drug company knew about these effects, but they kept it to themselves. Once the FDA found out, instead of pulling it from the market for further research, they required the company add that information to the labels.

There are quite a few more drugs with similar stories, but I'm not up for filling this entry up with examples of them. You can check out drugwatch for more, though.

Anyway, that's why I refuse to take a drug that's been on the market for less than 10 years. I also do my homework on it before putting it in my body, too. As I've said many times in the past, drugs are a last resort.

Needless to say, I don't intend to risk my life or health for a research study.

After going on that mental rant, I took another look at the flyer.

It's addressed to my husband.

Well, I guess they didn't want me anyway. Only problem is, he doesn't have asthma. He doesn't even have allergies, the lucky devil.

Well, CRI, looks like whoever you got our information from doesn't know what they're talking about.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Running With Asthma

I was diagnosed with asthma when I was 12. I've had some very scary episodes and some periods where it wasn't much of a bother.

Last year, the over the counter rescue inhaler I had been using went off the market, so I had to switch to a prescription.

Oh, albuterol. You taste disgusting, you might give me thrush if I'm not careful, and occasionally you speed my heart up for a few minutes, but you do the job. Sure, I need you more often than the other stuff, but hey, at least I can keep breathing. Common side effects aside, you're gentler than some of the other options.

From today's run. Those clouds are all gone, now.
Over the past couple of years, I've been trying to strengthen my body with running. The year before last, I was able to keep it up for a reasonably long time, but last year, I ended up quitting for a while because of my lungs.

This past winter had been one of the coldest on record. One of my triggers happens to be cold air. We also started renovating our house, which put who knows what into the air, so I was in a pretty constant state of illness. Add to that getting used to a new medication, and...well.

C'mon, immune system chill out, would ya? Not everything is out to infect me.

It's only been this past month that I've finally started running again. I've noticed a strange disconnect between my legs, mind and lungs. My mind and legs know they can go so much further, but when my chest starts tightening, I have to slow to a walk to avoid an attack.

Once I feel loose again, I run until I either hit the next landmark, or my lungs start feeling twitchy. At that point, I slow to a walk, wait for my lungs to relax again, and run again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Right now, I don't bother measuring distances or times. I'm just re-building my endurance. This is step one. Step two will be aiming for set times or distances.

It's an odd experience. I take the inhaler 15 minutes before I start my warm up, which keeps my lungs looser than they would otherwise be, and I feel like I could run the entire route. When I get out there, though, it's another story.

I need to be very careful about pacing myself. The whole "Run through the pain" idea only applies to the burning muscle in your legs, not the pain of a particularly bad asthma attack. At this point in my health journey, the most important advice is "listen to your body".

If I had to say one positive thing about living with asthma, it's that it forces me to discover my limits and be careful about pushing them too hard. Regular exercise will help reduce the problems I've been having this year, but if I end up making myself too sick or hurting myself, that'll be off the table until I recover.

I do not want to be stuck in a hospital. I do not want to damage my lungs (again). I'm not quite ready to die just yet.

I already know what lung damage feels like.

Back when my husband and I lived in our first apartment, I got sick. The respiratory therapist I visited put me through a bunch of tests, and we discovered some minor lung damage. She refused to believe me when I said I didn't smoke, because that was the most common reason for lung damage in asthmatics.

I went through the med merry go round, and eventually went the alternative medicine route, save for a rescue inhaler. I couldn't find a medical team willing to believe me when I talked about the side effects I kept suffering. It was terrible.

In the end, we discovered the apartment was full of mold. We brought it up to the management company, and were told to leave shortly thereafter for "unrelated problems".

Hmm. If we had money, we probably had grounds for a lawsuit. Either way, that was a decade ago, and the apartment complex is now run by someone else.

Anyway, my lungs improved when we got into our first house. A year later, they were back to what goes for normal.

Of course, trigger management is important, too. That means regular cleaning to keep dust down, which I'm terrible at, running an air purifier, watching what I eat and assorted other things. Fortunately, the smokers in my life are all great about not lighting up around me.

Then again, people who refuse to respect my health aren't really friends, are they?

So, I'll keep building my endurance, but I'll be doing it at a pace my body agrees with. I'm not aiming for a marathon, either. I just want to be as healthy as possible.

Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings - Week #1

If Mondays are hard for me, and mornings are also hard for me, Monday mornings are impossible. I remember dreading them from day one. Nothing short of coffee, a cattle prod and/or extreme amounts of bribery gets me operative before noon.

Fortunately, I found this nifty meme hosted by Luna Nina to help my brain kick into gear. It's an exercise in word association, in which she provides ten words, and each blogger writes out whatever comes to mind.

http://subliminal.lunanina.com/

So, here we go!

  1. Fringe :: Factor
  2. Helicopter :: CIA, aliens, black ops, psychic soldiers, Men Who Talk To Goats
  3. Netflix :: Yes, I realize I need to update my payment method. Leave me alone. I'll update when I have the new information. I don't have the new card yet! (Guess who got an e-mail this morning.)
  4. Humor :: Available after the morning evolution has been accomplished.
  5. Niece :: Cuties.
  6. Summer ::Yaaaaaaay! It's here! I don't need to wear 32 layers to maintain body heat anymore! My toes are no longer in danger of frost bite! Yay!
  7. Crazy :: See humor.
  8. Arrival :: Jack Nicholson with an axe. "Heeeeere's Johnny!"
  9. Nipple :: Nursing. Babies. Cuddling. Bottles. Booze...maybe not all at the same time.
  10. Code :: Breakers. Wasn't that a movie? ...ooh, more government conspiracy stories, too.
Should I worry about number 9? I think booze was more in reaction to bottles than nipples.

Anyway, I'm still feeling a little subhuman. More coffee may be in order. Maybe a run?

Coffee's probably easier.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics, by Kenneth Bock, MD and Cameron Stauth

I knew from the start that there would be a few things I wouldn't agree with in this book.

The fact the title stated that Autism and ADHD are epidemics was indication enough of how the authors viewed them as diseases, rather than differences in neurology. Bock also views ADHD as a mild form of autism, owing to some similarities between the two. He brought up dyslexia and other learning disabilities/differences in the same light a couple of times, too.

After getting to know many autistic people and reading about their experiences, treatment and emerging science behind it, I don't agree with that. Being dyslexic myself, I've a lifetime experience and years of research to tell me my neurology is not a disease.

I suppose that can been seen as little more than a difference in philosophy. Despite my current opinion, I can still see validity in both viewpoints, and I may write about it on Alternative Wiring tomorrow morning.

I also have a problem with any book or program that bills itself as "groundbreaking". That's usually a surefire way to tell the person offering the program is in it for the money.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of it.

The authors start the book out with stories of children who were diagnosed with these various disorders and how they were affected. They then carry the stories on to how their lives progressed, whether they got treatment at Dr. Bock's clinic or not. Most of them did, but some of them did not.

As I was reading, I found that part to be rather contrived. There's no doubt those stories were put there in part to hook the reader, and perhaps guide them into a more positive view of his office from the start. On the other hand, it did humanize those who deal with each disorder from an early age, which may also be part of the motive.

Once the heart strings were sufficiently tugged, the book goes into the specifics of the program. This is where I was pleasantly surprised.

Bock's program is a combination of detoxification, trigger management, supplementation and medication. Before the kids get any sort of treatment, they're tested for things like allergy or substance intolerance, heavy metal levels, nutrient deficiencies and chronic infections.

Only after the results come back does he establish a customized treatment plan for each individual, with the help of the parents and children, should they be old enough. He admits throughout the book that not everything works for every child, and in some places that this treatment plan doesn't work for some.

I must admit, it was refreshing to see a medical professional say that. Too often, I've come across the arrogant attitude of "If MY program doesn't work, nothing will". That attitude is enough to send me right back out the door and into someone's office who's willing to work with me as a human being.

Bock does seem to genuinely care for the kids he treats, as well as for the entire families. He also gives the kids and families full credit for the hard work they do to get to a healthier place in life. I got the impression that he viewed himself as a part of their team, instead of a heroic rescuer.

As for the program itself, I can see how it helps the inflammation and reactivity which trigger allergy and asthma attacks. He also seems to have a very good handle on how to treat the gut issues common in people with ADHD and autism.

And, really, it makes perfect sense that when a kid's no longer suffering from chronic inflammation or digestive issues that they can concentrate more efficiently on school work or figuring social interactions out.

He also stresses the importance of using medication as a temporary, last ditch tool. For example, if a child is showing clear signs of uncontrollable rage, he'll prescribe one of the meds he trusts to calm them enough to get through the testing and begin whatever dietary changes or supplementation is suggested. However, once everyone is comfortable, and the initial rough spots are past, he'll wean the child off the medication. He also always starts at the lowest dose for the child's age and size.

Bock fully supports emergency medication in cases of severe allergy and asthma attacks. I've no doubt the need for those meds decreases as the child's bodies are balanced and triggers are better managed, but they're probably still kept on hand for safety's sake.

Of course, the question of vaccines came up, as it always does in books about autism. He believes when they're not safely administered, they may contribute to these disorders. He didn't say they're the exclusive cause, but he does feel they may add to the toxic exposure we already get on a day to day basis.

However, he's not anti-vaccine. Instead, he advocates for an alternate schedule for kids with a history of immunity problems or with a family history of those issues, and not vaccinating when a child is already sick. Again, he stresses it's not a one size fits all situation, but most immunizations are necessary, barring medical contraindications.

Since I suffer from them, the allergy and asthma sections are the areas that interested me on a personal level. I agree fully with him on how important it is to find the root causes of flair ups rather than only treat the symptoms. What struck me as rare is that he talked about treating substance intolerance in addition to classic allergies. I liked that a lot, especially considering how much of an effect those intolerances can have when you're already prone to inflammatory responses.

Unfortunately, I can tell you from experience that many doctors are more willing to put you on a daily medication in addition to the emergency stuff rather than helping you actually identify or manage triggers, or even referring you to someone who can.

I might write about some of those experiences in the future.

Anyway, the book also has a lengthy list of resources. Unfortunately, he refers to Autism Speaks, which I don't support. (You can read about why I don't like them at the bottom of this entry.) On the other hand, there are a few resources for asthma and allergies I plan on checking out.

If you agree with, or can at least tolerate, the idea of autism and ADHD as diseases, the book might be worth a read. It's a very good portrayal of holistic, individualized medical care. He concentrated mostly on treating the co-morbid conditions which often go with autism, though he also covered a bit about asthma and allergies.

If you're looking for information about a more holistic approach to treating asthma and allergies, I'd look elsewhere. This book is primarily about the biomedical approach to treating autism.

As always, do as much research as you can on whatever aspects catch your attention, and as stated repeatedly throughout the text, talk to your pediatrician about potential changes in care.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Perfect lazy Saturday

Catching up on some reading today. I'm also apparently catching up on kitty snuggles, too. It's just been the perfect lazy Saturday.

Gentle rumblers rolled through this morning. It's been drizzling on and off all day. I love the sound of rain.

The peace was wonderful, except for when the neighbor broke it with his ancient weed whacker and lawn-mower, followed by assorted cursing. I could have done without the breathing difficulties brought on by the stench of exhaust from said yard machines wafting through the window, too.

That's what the inhaler's for, I suppose.

Anyway. Enjoy a picture of the view I had just beyond the book I finished.

This big boy is such a cuddle monster.

Book review will be posted tomorrow after morning shenanigans!

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's been one of THOSE days.

I had so much stuff I wanted to get done today before my husband got home.

Get to the store to pick up the spare inhaler the doctor called in, pick up some fruits and veggies, change the cat boxes, make jewelry for my shop, get a total of three blog entries posted, give the story I've been working on one last read
That's me from a few years ago. I apparently feel
now as I did then.
through, plus housework.

Nope. I got that jewelry made, then posted and a blog entry up, but that's it.

Problem number one: The Phone

It would NOT. STOP. RINGING. Since I was working in the living room, I had to get up every time to check the caller ID. Call me high strung, but other than the junk calls we get, a select few people have our home phone number.

Those people are either family members or organizations who need an emergency contact number. So, when the phone rings, I always check the ID, and answer only when I think I know who it is.

Today just happened to be the day when people looking for money wanted our attention. The one time I picked it up, thinking it was someone important, it was a salesperson trying to sell me a new mortgage.

Um. No. When we want to try refinancing again, we'll go shopping for a new place. There's no way I'm giving my information a company who bought my name and number off of someone else.

Scratch that, the other time I answered the phone, it was my sister on the other end, and she obviously falls into the "family" category.

Problem number two: Fraud
Yep. They got us.

If you live in the US, you'll probably recall the big hacking story about Target earlier this year. For those who don't, here's an article about it. I thought we had been safe, but now I'm wondering.

Though, who knows? Target wasn't the only one hit. I guess it doesn't really matter where our data was stolen from at this point.

I took a look at our bank statement and noticed a questionable transaction. It was a small charge, less than $10, but when I checked out the web page, I had the feeling neither of us shopped there.

It's pretty common knowledge that data thieves will make small purchases to test how closely an account is managed. So, naturally, I jumped right on that after verifying with the hubby that he hadn't gone to the page.

Thankfully, the bank had already tagged the transaction as suspicious, and I was able to get it taken care of relatively quickly. It's a good thing I check that balance relatively frequently.

'Course, my learning disability makes dealing with numbers hard, so one phone call turned into four. The first two were screw ups on my end. The third was a technical problem on their end, but the fourth worked out.

Now, I need to take care of assorted follow up things. I'll also be keeping a closer eye on our accounts.

Problem number three: Computer Issues
Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say "web page issues", because the page I uploaded the listings to was frustratingly slow today. Maybe it was just because I was already irritated, but man...enough already.

Now, I'm finally wrapping up my last blog entry of the day. Hubby's home, busy with his cigar outside, the cat's hairball is cleaned up, and zero housework has been done. Well, does hairball removal count as housework?

Yeah, it's housework.

Ok. Unplanned, tiny mess housework has been completed.

Not to mention that story. I really need to find a home for it. Oh! And I was going to practice for that contest next month, too.

I guess that's what Saturday's for, right?

I'd brew myself some tea, but I think a beer's called for right about now. Maybe things will be a bit brighter tomorrow.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Edits - The Never Ending Job

You know the saying, "You're your own worst enemy"?

I think that applies to every single person who's ever seriously pursued an artistic occupation. In my case, I'm turning my writing into a career. Sure, it's a slow process, and I may not always write within my fields of interest when I need to bring in some quick money, but it is happening.
Is it time to edit? It's time to edit.
But, Ma-a-a! I don't WANNA edit!

The next step for me, in addition to building readership for my content writing, is to get fiction published.

And that's where my Achilles heel gets in the way.

I've always enjoyed writing stories, and I still do. Letting my imagination run free is a blast, and connecting seemingly unconnected snippets is always a challenge.

Every single one of my zero drafts? Horrible messes. Nope. No one's seeing them but me.

That's where my editing process comes in, but never seems to end. Of course, getting suggestions from a select number of people is a massive help, but every time I read through one of my stories, I always spot a sentence that doesn't look quite right, a word that needs tweaking or details I'd inadvertently left out.

It's pretty maddening. When is it time to let it rest for a while? When should I start submitting it to places?

I think everyone has to answer questions like those from time to time.

Is it good enough? Am I good enough? Will anyone like my work?

Egads.

I guess it's all a part of the growing process. I've also been entering contests since about February. In July, I've reserved a spot for a 24 hour story contest, which I'm actually rather nervous about. The goal is to write a 500 word or less story based off of a prompt the contest creators sets.

It must be completed and polished as much as possible before the 24 hour deadline is met.

Fortunately, it's on a Saturday, so my weekday blog posts won't take up any of my time.

That doesn't help a whole lot.

But there's time. I have the rest of this month and most of July to get ready. I think I'll start writing practice stories on a broad range of topics. Maybe I'll post some of them here, actually, depending on how they turn out, anyway.

We shall see what we shall see.

Come to think of it, story editing for me can be a bit like the Hotel California when I'm not careful. I may be able to shut down my word processing program any time I like, but I CAN NEVER LEAVE.

And now, I need to look up that song so it won't be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Turtles, Turtles Everywhere

My husband and I first met in a Ninja Turtles chat room. We were online friends for over a year, before we met, and his first words to me when we met in person were, "Where's the rest of you?"

So romantic. I guess I look taller in photos.

Between that and great enjoyment of the franchise, I've been a TMNT fan for a while. As the years passed, that interest has expanded into all turtles. I get a bit giddy when I see a wild turtle and great amusement when I see them in stores.

This week has been filled with turtles. It's been an entertaining diversion from the (slowly lessening) pain in my wrist and assorted other stresses. So, I figured I'd share the three most entertaining turtle encounters, so far.


I'd gone to Target after my physical on Monday to pick up a few things. As I wandered, I spotted a TMNT sprinkler. The water comes out of the manhole cover Mikey's standing on.

Ok.

Toy designers, let me clue you into something about the Ninja Turtles.

THEY LIVE IN A SEWER.

No, really. Wouldn't you think water shooting out of a manhole cover would probably be a bad thing?

Trust me on this one. Our sewer backed up into the basement shortly after we bought the house. It was rather terrible.

I should have taken a closer look at the product description to see if they actually used the term "sewer water".


This guy or gal is the first fully grown wild turtle I've seen of the season. I thought it was a large, exceptionally shiny rock at first, but then I got close enough to see the details.

The day was very warm and humid, so I wasn't surprised to find a turtle sunning itself. I didn't want to scare it off, so I didn't spend any time trying to get a picture of the "Yeah? Whadda YOU want" look it was giving me.

For some of the least threatening critters in the animal kingdom, barring snappers, turtles have the most attitude.

Still, its markings on the face and legs were very pretty; all reds and oranges. I also like the pattern on the shell.

Since the area is relatively well traveled, I always worry about the wildlife getting mistreated. Turtles can move pretty quickly when they want to, but they're not invulnerable.

In any case, I hope this beautiful creature remains unmolested. There's more than enough water for it to escape into, should the need arise.


Lastly, meet Ferdinand the Attack Turtle! Hubby saw this cutie at his job yesterday and decided to invest in him. I doubt that will be his final home, since there will eventually be a deck in that spot, but he seems content enough as is.

He's already had a couple of names: Spike, Slash, but he looks more like a Ferdinand.

I mean, look at that sassy grin. He knows he's tough. He'll take you on by...

Well, probably sitting there, looking cute.

Hey, it works for kittens.

Oh! Maybe he's like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. Don't look away, lest he sends you back centuries in time. Perhaps to the days before indoor plumbing. The horror!

In that case, maybe I should have picked up that TMNT sprinkler, so I could give the people of that ideas of how to create an effective sewage and sanitation system.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Comment Section Ownership?

Today's prompt from BlogHer is "Who owns the comment section: the blog writer or the blog readers?"

That's a rather interesting question when you stop and think about it.

On one hand, a comment section is meant to open communication up between individuals, while on the other, the author composed the post and is responsible for monitoring the flow of conversation.

On the THIRD hand...

Well, there is no third hand. I just like adding extra appendages to my hypothetical people. It's fun! You should try it sometime.

I look at it as "belonging" to readers and the author. Both parties contribute to the conversation, so it follows that the comment section should be used for conversation.

However, I do feel this also depends on the type of posting it is and individual comment policies. Regardless of what readers may think of it, the author is the one who makes policy on comments.

There's also the question of the services used. Some blogging sites have their own set of rules for bloggers and readers, after all. So, does that section belong to the author, the commenter or the blogging site itself?

Hey, look! I found the third hand.

That's part of why I get annoyed when people cry, "You're denying my right to free speech!" when an author deletes, denies or reports their abusive comments.

No. That's shared space, and if you violate boundaries set, or instigate fighting, you're in the wrong. If you violate terms of service of the blogging site in which you take part, you're also in the wrong. There's nothing stopping you from going elsewhere and going off on a rant about whatever it is.

The thing about free speech is, yes, you're allowed to say almost whatever you want, but you also need to deal with the resulting fallout. Of course, if you're afraid to own your words, then you can only spout maliciousness by finding a way to be completely anonymous.

However, if the author deletes or denies a reasonable comment out of personal spite against the reader, then I'd think they're in the wrong. In this case, though, that's in the author's power, as the content creator.

So, the simple answer is...

Um.

It depends on the situation?

Yeah, let's go with that infuriating non-answer. I guess this simple question doesn't really have a simple answer.

Then again, if The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is correct, the answer could very well be 42. Could the question of life, the universe and everything really be "Who owns the comment section?"

Monday, June 2, 2014

Comment Policy and Wrist Update

FUTURO (for her)
The name makes me giggle.
It's also one of the few gendered
products I'll buy because my
hands are so small.
Well, I had intended to update my blogs this morning, but that didn't happen. See, I had my yearly physical this afternoon, and I thought I was going to get my blood tested. I ended up fasting this morning, only to find out the doctor decided I didn't need the tests.

Ah well. At least I got to have a lovely lunch outside, even if I couldn't think straight enough this morning to string more than three words together.

I also told her about my wrist pain, and the tingling that had magically appeared this morning. And the verdict is...carpal tunnel syndrome!

Oh. Joy.

Anyway, it's early enough along that if I wear my new brace when on the computer and do the exercises she sent me home with regularly, it shouldn't get any worse.

Thanks to all who have commented and/or expressed concern! You're wonderful.

She also referred me for an allergy test, since I've been reacting to a lot more things than I have in the past. THAT'S gonna be fun. I'm still on the fence about shots, though. I guess it depends on how the test turns out.

Here's hoping I don't need to fight with the health insurance company over it. I need to check the paperwork before making the appointment.

ANYWAY...comment policy!

When it comes to comments, I take a common sense approach. The only rules I have for commenters are:
  • Be civil! It's ok to get upset, or disagree, but name calling, threats or anything else along those lines will not be tolerated. If you find yourself getting heated, step back and take some time away from the computer.
  • Respect fellow commenters! Again, disagreements are ok, but flame wars are big no-nos.
  • I'd hope this would be obvious by now, but bullying and abuse will not be tolerated. If you feel the need to purposely hurt or control someone, it's time to go elsewhere.
  • Tangents are good! It can be entertaining to see where they lead. If you'd like to go off on one, have fun! Sure, it may be best if you stick to the topic at hand, but wandering happens.
  • No spam! If you want to provide a link to your web page in your comment, cool. However, I won't publish if the comment is either nonsense with a link or just says something generic like, "I like your page, check mine out here!" I know links help with Google ranking, but comments are more for conversation than advertisement. That said, if you wrote something related to the topic at hand, feel free to toss a link to your work.
Really, that's all. To enforce those rules, I always approve comments before they appear, as noted in my comment section.

Otherwise? Hey, I'm pretty easy going.

I hope I haven't turned TOO many people off from engaging!

Would it be corny to invite comments about comment policies?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

NaBloPoMo and...ouch.

I don't know what I did to my wrist, but holy shmoly does it ever hurt, especially when I pick something up or bend it back.

So, this entry will be short. If you also read my other blog, Alternative Wiring, you'll know that last month I took part in the BlogHer event, NaBloPoMo.

I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to do it again on one of my other blogs. Since this month's theme is "Comment", I figured it'd be a good idea to get this new blog off to a strong start.

So, in addition to book reviews and whatnot, I'll also be putting entries up about comments.

As for now? I'm off the computer for the day, and hope some ice helps calm my wrist down.

NaBloPoMo June 2014