Albinos and galaxies, and everything in between…

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Mornin’ all.

We had a wicked awesome day of sunshine the other day. I felt like running around in my skivvies and soaking up the rays. I didn’t, because…well.

Thinking about it now, though, the snow bankings are high enough that I probably wouldn’t even have been seen. Damn! Missed opportunity.

The kiddies have next week off. Around here they don’t get a two week long spring break. Instead, schools divide it, giving one week off in February and another one off in April. The eldest was saying how much he’s looking forward to a break.

They’ve had like four snow days and five or six two-hour delays this winter. Add it up, that is an EXTRA vacation on its own. He “needs a break”…from what?!

My guy gets a break, too, the first block of 5 days off in a row for years. His boss decided he wasn’t kidding when he said he needed a vacation, so all my men will be here all week. Huzzah!

…and…crap.

I want them home. I want them off. I want them all to be able to chill and relax. But. BUT. Muh schedule.

When I planned out my writing shit, I forgot to include having five extra people hanging around. It hit me yesterday that I was probably being very ambitious to think I could get editing and cover art done amidst all the added hubbub. So I thought to myself, “Self, we should bang out that cover art. At least get the rough mock up done, since that’s the think-y concentrate-y part.”

I’m redoing cover art for a book that’s going to get a face lift and a fresh edit to justify a shiny new price tag. It’s a classic sci-fi. No boobs, no sexploits, no hidden vampires or scandalous alien probings. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, mind you. That’s just not what this book is. The cover should reflect that.

I’ve been boning up on old fashioned sci-fi covers on my Google Overlord’s vast and honorable website to get some inspiration. The thing is, while I love the old art and think it’s totally cool, I’m not so sure that style would grab the average modern eye. I’m thinking I need to find the line between old and new.

Internet research done, I put on music. I played the song I’m currently unhealthily obsessed with about a dozen times. (You’re welcome, Sia. At least 100 of those view counts on YouTube are from me.) Normally a musical obsession will get me in the creative spirit. As moving as “Chandelier” is, it gave me nuthin’.

That’s right. As good as my intentions were to buckle down and get the job done, I came smack up against a creative wall.

I wandered away from the computer and caught up on laundry. I figured if I moved away from the daunting screen, I might be struck with *glitter* IDEAS *rainbows*. While I now have clean socks, and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing, there wasn’t the glitter rainbow moment of inspiration I hoped for.

The screen still loomed.

I went out and cleaned my fridge. I cleaned my fridge when I wasn’t even expecting company. That’s the level of desperation we’re dealing with here, folks. I even threw out that one pickle slice that’s been bobbing in the yellowy brine in the back corner of the fridge for damn near a year. I didn’t have to do that. That pickle slice wasn’t hurting anyone. It was just floating in a little jar, keeping to itself, minding its own business. What kind of monster am I??

My procrastination has collateral damage.

And for what? Did that inspire? Did that Machiavellian muscle-flexing clear the mind and open the channels of creativity? No. No it did not. The wall is still there, the mind is still blocked, and that poor, harmless pickle is now going to spend an eternity entombed in a block of town refuse.

I was hoping having a morning coffee with you would work some of it out. So far I haven’t been struck with inspiration. Maybe if I look at the news and choose a story to babble about for awhile? That kind of distraction can really get the creative juices flowing.

*Author’s note: I promise to never again use the term “creative juices” in anything but an ironic or joking manner. It wasn’t until I wrote it out just there that I realized how icky it sounds. Apologies.*

Let’s see what we’ve got today. Hm. There’s a Hubble pic of one galaxy colliding into another. That’s pretty spectacular. The article says that astronomers have named the entwined mass of mind-boggling destruction: “Arp 248.”

Well. That’s a let down, eh? I’d have chosen something like Galacto Destructarius. Or The Smashtroid 2000. The Star Clusterfuck. Something with pop or pizzazz. Nope. Arp 248 it is.

You know, for folks who study untold magnificence on a daily basis, astronomers sure are an unimaginative lot.

Hey, you ever look up at a star and wonder what it’s really called? Not what the shockingly stiff stiffs at the human-run labs decided to name it. What’s it’s really called by the folks that rely on it for their climate. The only star we’ve had the legitimate privilege to name is the Sun, and frankly, we kind of blew that one. The rest, though, we can only offer a temporary human nickname until we get there and have a real introduction.

If you’ve never looked up at the night sky and wondered what aliens call Sirius, you will now. You’re welcome.

Albino children in Tanzania are being abducted, dissected, and sold for rituals. 70 over the past ten years have suffered this fate because local “witchdoctors” believe the limbs of people who are afflicted with albinism contain magical properties. The government is up in arms…

*gives serious consideration to removing the unintended pun*

*knows full well she should*

*leaves it in and decides to take the karmic hit*

…and is urging locals to stop cutting up albino babies. It’s a horrible practice, and it’s good that someone is calling attention to the problem. It won’t be fixed if people don’t know about it. I read the article, then scrolled to the end of the article and looked at the user comments sections.

“Bethie!”

I know, I know. You’ve lectured me plenty of times and I keep putting myself through the agony. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. Maybe it’s my karmic retribution for making horrible puns about situations that are not at all funny?

Anyway, I already read them, so you can stop looking at me in disappointment. This is an actual comment after this article that described horrible atrocities committed against innocent little babies:

“NOTE: Does anyone else find it interesting that African inbreeding causes black people to turn into white people.”

What?? Just…WHAT??!!

Lest you think that was a lone voice of whatever that was, at last look, there were NINE “likes” on this post. Nine other people somehow agree with that brain diarrhea.

The Tanzanian “witchdoctors” should not IN ANY WAY cut up ANYONE, albino or otherwise! That’s horrible!!! They should stop. They should stop now. And if they won’t end the practice on their own, they should be FORCED to stop immediately. But in 2015, anyone with access to the internet who can read about this utterly ghastly practice and walk away with some bizarre image of rampant African inbreeding is incomprehensible to me. In a way, that level of racism is almost even more unforgivable.

Meanwhile in America, the Huffington Post had a piece this morning exposing the seemingly unjust battery life of an iPhone. The crux of the article seems to be that iPhone battery life has not really improved with the newer models, the author’s tone challenging and defiant. You sure blew this one wide open, Huff Po. Way to stick it to Apple. Woodward and Bernstein would be so proud.

Oops, sorry. Looks like I got a bit of sarcasm on your screen. Lemme get that for ya.

*spray spray* *wipe wipe* *squeeeeeeeegy* *squeak*

I really hate the Huffington Post. They are a prime example of the worst side of reporting. How about you take your head out of your ass, be grateful you have enough resources to buy and iPhone in the first place, and try to champion a real cause for once, Fluff Ho??

Gug.

The comments after the article didn’t blame inbreeding in Africa for the morally outrageous issue of battery life, though. I guess that’s something.

I’ve gotta be honest here. These stories aren’t really inspirational. Maybe I’m not destined to create cover art today. Maybe I’m supposed to spend my day in a tortured state of ennui, suffering for my art.

That’s it! I haven’t had a fit of angst over it all yet. A true artist needs to really go through something before they can create. Maybe I just need to allow myself some time to wallow in a pit of self pity and loathing before I can be inspired.

“Maybe you’re just making excuses to play that new video game, Bethie.”

What? What’s that? Sorry, can’t hear you over my tangled web of internal struggle.

“I SAID…”

Guess we better finish this up! Gotta go moan and gripe about how no one could possibly understand the depths of my turmoil.

“….I can hear you opening the wrapper, you know.”

K, bye!

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Friday, February 20, 2015. I won’t be blogging next week, and potentially the week after, depending on how quickly I can beat these zomb…I mean…how long it takes for creative inspiration to strike. Hope everyone has a better end of the month than the kick in the ass that was the beginning, and I’ll be back to welcome March with open arms.

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It’s normal to want to hug the radiator all day, right?

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Mornin’ all.

I just microwaved my coffee for the third time this morning. I don’t particularly like scalding my tongue and throat. But I do like holding the hot coffee cup.

“Still cold there?”

We passed “cold” about 30 degrees ago. We’re now in the “huddle up and resign yourself to the icy hell” section of the thermostat. The part no one at the thermostat factory actually believed would ever be used.

Folks around here are starting to be divided into two separate camps. You’ve got those who bitch about the weathah, and those who want to lord it over other people how they’re NOT bitching about the weathah. I, clearly, am in the Free Bitchery For All party. Those on the other side say griping means I’m somehow less of a New Hampster.

** Author’s note: No, that’s not what we’re called. But shouldn’t it be? I’ve always thought it’s a missed opportunity that we’re not.**

I was born here. I was raised here. I’ve lived here an entire life save a few months, and even then I only sampled a different part of New England. I am as native a Hampster as they come. In court, my credentials would qualify me to be an expert witness.

Using all my years of gained knowledge and experience about the great Granite State, I can say with 99.9% accuracy that this winter fuckin’ blows.

You can quote me.

Now that it’s established for the record, we’ll just accept it as fact that this winter is a really bad one. In fact, one of the worst I can remember. If something’s wicked bad, why not gripe about it? It makes you feel good to know that you aren’t the only one whose toes gave up all pretense of feeling and warmth in November, that around town, other people decide to wash dishes by hand just to warm up the fingers, that you aren’t being silly when you stand under the vestibule heaters at Walmart with your eyes closed pretending it’s a sunny spring day, if only for a minute.

See, what these anti-complainers aren’t understanding is that complaining makes us united. The very best way to get a herd of humans to feel like they’re a cohesive unit is to present them with something that pisses them all off. Give them a hardship. Let them band together under a flag of malcontent!

“That’s a cynical outlook to have, Bethie.”

*shrug* Not all winds of change are warm and fuzzy.

I’m sure once that fairly small star to which we’re cosmically bound gets off its ass and actually DOES something, I’ll be all rainbows and unicorns again. Until then, LET THE FREE BITCHING COMMENCE!!!

…and for the rest of you NOT in a bitterly cold winter un-wonderland, let’s hunt around for a distraction.

“Do you mean…??!!”

Oh yeah.

“Is it really…??!!

Uh huh.

“Can it be…??!!”

Cue the go-go dancers, strike up the mariachi band…

“Wait. Mariachi? What happened to the orchestra?”

Cultural exchange. Right now my orchestra is playing at a futbol match in Guadalajara. We thought it would be neat to mix things up. If our weather can’t be warm, at least our music can! Strike up the tunes, amigos, because it’s time for a….

* * * HEADLINE ROUNDUP!!! * * *

Look at that flamenco routine! I didn’t know the go-go dancers had it in them. See? See what a little lively music can do? I feel peppier already! Let’s keep the happy feelings of warmer places going with some jokes. As always, I’ve scoured these internets to find you some headlines that struck me as odd, ironic, funny, confusing…or really, just grabbed my attention. The headlines are 100% real. The comments after are the pasteurized processed news product of my own making. Shall we dive in?

– Montana Town Turns Away Teen With a Troubled Past

Because you know it’s been proven throughout history that the only way to help a CHILD is to turn your back and shun him. Do it. Everyone turn around right now and I’m SURE this young man will help himself.

– A Bullet Attachment That Could Save Lives?

Here’s novel idea. Instead of spending millions on the research and development of bullets that won’t actually kill people, you could, you know, just not shoot them. Just throwin’ it out there, ‘Merica.

– Near Cities, Pumas Kill More, But Eat Less

They wouldn’t have to if those damn bobcats would stop disrespecting them.

– Reputed Al-Qaida Operative to Represent Himself at Trial

Yeeeaaahhhh…that’s gonna go well…

New Hampshire Mountain Hiker Found Dead

Effin’ NO. It was a New York mountain hiker who decided to try and hike up the Presidential section of the White Mountains in NH, not an NH hiker. Let’s make that clear. Also, she went ALONE and camped out on the exposed mountain top. I will not let my fellow Hampsters be the butt of nationwide jokery. Sorry the lady died, but jeez. You can only dangle the carrot in front of Fate so long before she takes you up on it.

– Washington Monument Shrinks Slightly With New Measurements

See? You’re not the only one to suffer shrinkage in the cold.

Killing in Washington State Offers “Ferguson” Moment for Hispanics

Equal opportunity riots. It’s the baby steps that’ll get us there, folks.

-‘Such a Knucklehead’: US Army Commander Admits Confusing Location of Key Ukrainian City

“I thought that ‘km’ was some kind of fancy Ruskie code,” he said with a humble smile as he stood in front of a village now reduced to rubble. “Golly, I’m just a silly willy, I reckon.”

The Five Woofiest Descriptions of Westminster Competitions

This. THIS?! We’re all up in arms about Brian Williams, but THIS is acceptable?

Republicans Critical of Obama’s ‘Amnesty Bonuses’

Damn. I thought at least one president would make it through his term with full, bi-partisan support on all key issues. Hey, seven years before he hit a snag…that’s a pretty good run.

Bill Clinton ‘Burst A Gasket’ Over Pro-Hillary Group’s Comments

I didn’t click on the story for two reasons: 1) It’s the internet, and I know how that will end. 2) I heard enough about Bill Clinton bursting in the 90s.

The Disingenuous Gas Tax Hike an Ominous Sign For The Legislative Session

So they were just kidding about that gas tax? Great! I expect my refund by the end of the week then, legislators. K, thnx.

Scuba Divers Lead Charge Against Invasive Lionfish

How do you think they blow the infantry bugle?

Scuba Divers Lead Charge Against Invasive Lionfish

That’s taking “school shootings” to a whole new level.

…what? I couldn’t decide, so I put them both in.

– Toddler’s Reaction To Meth Mistaken For Scorpion Sting

Ugh. Another one of these stories. People, toddlers can’t handle their high. Stop giving them meth until at least kindergarten.

Wedding Photographer Rebecca Barger Looks At Cuba

Cuba Gets Very Uncomfortable, Looks Away Awkwardly

How to Find Out If the NSA and GCHQ Spied On You

…nice try, NSA. I almost clicked the link.

Scorpion Stings Woman On Plane, Delays Flight

“Scorpion sting.” Yeah. Riiiiight.

Healthcare Sees Benefits From Better Patient Data

Found that one in the No Shit Gazette this morning. Good to see the NSG still going strong.

KSU Researchers Develop Heat-tolerant Wheat

But…how will we get the bread to bake?

Boy Diagnosed With ‘Fear of Growing Up’

So, you mean, a regular boy. Got it.

New Particle in Physics May Be Found This Year

Or maybe not. It’s not news until it happens. Desperate for attention much, physicists?

– District: 5 Students Mistakenly Given ‘Fifty Shades’ Puzzles

“We’re so embarrassed,” said the shame-faced teacher. “It wasn’t our intention to single out those five students or make them feel discriminated against. All children were supposed to get the Kama Sutra puzzles, and I take full responsibility for the error.”

No Charges For Woman Who Threw Bacon Into Police Station

Because hey…free bacon!

Rare Monkey Eaten By Otters In Accident At British Zoo

I smell cover up. The otters had to have an inside source. It doesn’t make sense that they’d be able to break out of their enclosure, then proceed unseen to the monkey den, somehow get in THAT enclosure, and then pass up all the other monkeys to target one specific ape who, I’d like to point out, is a minority. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I think anyone can read between the lines. “Accident?” Pfft. I think not.

World’s Largest Tunneling Machine Stuck Underground

Well, they never claimed it was the “best” tunneling machine.

Couple Visits 3 Disney Theme Parks in One Day

Every once in awhile you read a news story that proves that there are people who are courageous in the face of adversity, rebellious when the naysayers claim something can’t be done. Three whole theme parks in one day. What a fucking newsworthy accomplishment.

Alabama Judges Must Issue Gay Marriage Licenses

Oh, okay. See, because the first direct order to do so was pretty vague. I’m sure they’ll hop on board now since you said the same thing again and still have no ramifications for ignoring the order.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Banned in Kenya

DAMMIT. I’ve got to stick by my guns on my anti-censorship stance and oppose this move. But… BUT.

Chris Christie in New Hampshire: Bring It On

*cracks knuckles* LET’S DO THIS.

Rubio Gets Personal With Iowans, Promises to Return

Ew. Anyone else get really creeped out by this headline? I feel like I need a shower.

Is it Cruel to Kick A Robot Dog?

Oh, wow. I didn’t know we’d be getting into such deep philosophy this morning. Okay, well if we look at it objectively, the real question isn’t, “Is it cruel to kick a robot dog?” The real question we need to answer first is, “Is it cruel to create a robot dog?” When we take on the onus of creating a being, whether sentient or psuedo-sentient, we are assigning ourselves godlike properties. That is the debate we should be having. Once we’ve crossed the line into becoming creators, haven’t we, by definition, already justified any future actions we take against our creations?

…*crickets*….

Hey, I don’t write the headlines. Don’t blame me for their fallout.

She Gave Him Her Kidney, He Gave Her His Heart

Typical Bob. Always gotta one-up everyone. Sheesh.

How To Save Internet’s Data: Print It Out

WHOA. HOLD THE PHONE. I just…mind…blown.

What Are Penny Stocks?

I don’t know. And I didn’t care enough to click on the article. Guess I’ll remain ignorant.

Emergency Services Deduce ‘Banana’ in Pine Tree is Geocache

Phew! Glad this was a harmless prank and not a legitimate “banana in a pine tree” situation, if you know what I mean.

…and no, I don’t either.

Thus concludes a mariachi accompanied Muse for Tuesday, February 17, 2015. I’m going to be taking a blogging break next week to work on some editing and cover art. I hope to get one more Musing up this week before then, but I gotta be honest…there’s a better than fair chance that the draw of a new video game the boys just got will outweigh the need to chat over coffee. I mean, I love you and all…but…zombies.

Snowflakes and smooches…

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Mornin’ all.

I have a plan. We’ve got another blizzard coming up this weekend and I’m sick of shoveling. I think it’s time we, as a species, take an evolutionary leap forward.

“Um…Bethie? Isn’t it a little early in the Musing for you to go bat shit crazy?”

Hang on. I thought about this all night as I stared at the crack in the ceiling that annoyingly looks like an uppercase “H” and can’t be changed in my mind to anything else now that I saw it. This is a winning idea, I tell you.

Okay, so the berms outside are already about 4-5 feet tall, and we’ve got another foot of the white nasty set to drop on us tomorrow. I say the folks in this winter-battered area should put the shovels away, accept the Winter That Will Not Be Stopped, and evolve into: Mole People.

Homo sapien talpansis, to be exact.

Forget the shoveling and just start burrowing. Think about how liberating that would be! We could tunnel through the snow making our own “roads”. We could dig out dens and meeting places. We’d have an entire secret society that exists under the snow, an intricate system of complex wards and sectors. A higher level of existence, if you will.

DUDE YES. I just thought of our slogan: Join us below for the high life. We’ll have our own flag. It’ll be the silhouette of a mole in a helmet raising his little fist in solidarity.

Can moles make a fist?

“…*blink**blink*…”

No more cringing at the sound of the snow plow that’s coming by RIGHT AFTER YOU EFFIN’ SHOVELED to rub in the fact that you are really Nature’s bitch. No more slipping and falling on your ass in irony as you are trying to spread rock salt on the steps. No more fear from the Icicles of Doom when you have no choice but to walk in the narrow Alley of Death between your house and your garage when the propane tank needs to be changed. And let’s not even get into actually trying to drive your 30 year old rear wheel drive diesel station wagon on snowed up roads.

I say no more!

VIVE EL MOLE PEOPLE!!!

“…O….kkaaaayyyy. Let’s pretend I’m not secretly dialing the men in the white coats to come and get you. Won’t you get cold in this plan of yours?”

Pfft. I’ll have a snow suit. And one of those bizarre balaclavas.

“But snow will still get in your nooks and crannies.”

Hm. Okay, then I’ll seal myself up in my sub-zero sleeping bag and kind of schlump along.

“So…you’re going to what? Inch your way through the snow? You do realize that’s being a snow worm, right?”

…I never said evolution was easy.

“Oh, Bethie.”

Stop shaking your head sadly at me. I’m just trying to liven up this hell winter.

I was looking at the Old Farmer’s Almanac yesterday. Are you familiar with this publication? It’s been in print since 1792 and is filled with, well, farming tips, tricks, reports, anecdotes, etc. You know, old time farm-y stuff.

What they’re most known for, though, is their weather predictions. Using a secret mathematical formula, they have been predicting long range weather forecasts for 223 years. It’s still quite popular in this neck of the woods, and still seen as a legitimate source of information for predicting weather because somehow, this 223 year old formula has managed to be ridiculously accurate.

Until this year.

The forecast for my region of the country for this winter was overall colder, but only by a few degrees on average, and dry. In fact, we were supposed to start February off warm, sunny, and mild. Wasn’t warm, has been hardly sunny at all, and mild? MILD??

Now, you may be wondering what’s happened to negate the accuracy of a 223 year old formula. And if you’re wondering that, if you sincerely have no clue, then I can’t help you. Any further discussion will simply anger you. Let’s not get into another non-controversial controversy this morning. We’re on the same page about the mole people plan, and I’d hate to shatter our Mole-based camaraderie.

I’m just saying, maybe it’s time we let those old farmers take a break from weather reporting. Read the Almanac for the fun little anecdotes and gardening advice. Go to the NOAA for the weather.

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Do you celebrate it? We’re not big on it here, but I think that is largely due to the fact that we are a house of guys. I’m like Snow White, surrounded by loud and smelly but well-intentioned dudes. You know, without the annoying high-pitched songs and woodland creatures helping me with my chores.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in a family of women. My folks had four daughters. Back then, Valentine’s Day was a big deal. My mum would set up a Valentine’s party for us for when we got home from school. She’d have the place decorated with tissue paper hearts, give us pink “tea”, and play “Spooky” by Classics IV. If you don’t know the song, you MUST run to YouTube immediately. Go on. I’ll wait. It’s critical to set the mood of this story.

Was that not utterly fantastic? Now imagine that with cookies and pink “tea” and hearts everywhere. It was totally cool for little girls.

Now, I have four boys. I’m not at all saying there aren’t boys who would totally dig that kind of Valentine’s party. I just sadly don’t have any of those boys.

I tried several times when they were younger to get them into the spirit of the holiday. They gulped the “tea” (which is really just Kool Aid, but it sounds way more mysterious if I just put “tea” in quotes like that, doesn’t it?), scarfed the cookies, didn’t even notice the tissue paper hearts, and ended things with a belching contest.

To top it all off, they think “Spooky” is creepy. *scoff* CREEPY! *shake my head*
There are differences between raising daughters and raising sons. Valentine’s Day simply puts the exclamation point on that statement.

The teens are mostly above any pretense of caring about the holiday, even for my sake. “But it’s my one day to have pink!” I’ve argued before, to no avail. The only one of them that is into it at all this year is the one with a lady to impress.

Ah, young puppy love. He had grand plans for an outing with her that will not happen because of the storm. He was scrambling to come up with an idea in a panic, but I calmed him down and spelled out a new plan. I’ve got his back. I’m not one of “those” mums who doesn’t want their kids to be happy and thinks no girl in the world is good enough for them.

The little one is in third grade. He’s still young enough that girls are decidedly icky, but class Valentine’s Day parties have lost their luster. He’s got to give something with a heart on it…TO A GIRL?? And it’s MANDATORY?!?

Don’t you think that’s weird? With all the political correctness, with all the overt avoidance of any “suggestive” contact between kids, they still have Valentine’s Day class parties. Kids are literally getting suspended– little kids, little, innocent kindergarteners– for holding hands. Holding hands! And yet, they publicly celebrate a holiday based on love and mush.

When I was in elementary school, I went to school with a kid named Bobby. He was in the collaborative class (now called special ed), but he had several portions of the day where he would sit in our classroom with his aide. To this day, I have no idea what was “wrong” with Bobby, in terms of diagnosis. He couldn’t speak, but he could make a wide range of sounds and facial expression. He was sweet and funny and loved to swing and give hugs. We’d walk around the school yard holding hands. And when kids were mean to him, I would kick them. And he would laugh and hug me.

I think about that, walking around and holding hands with Bobby. It wasn’t anything untoward, just a nice, safe, loving friend in a place I didn’t really like to be. Nowadays, that wouldn’t happen. Now that’s considered sexual harassment. I think the people who made these new ridiculous rules for schoolyard behavior never had a friend like Bobby. It makes me sad that adults have put so much of the adult world problems on the shoulders of little kids who just want to have a funny, loving friend to get through the day with.

Sorry, got sidetracked there. My point is, in this new world of believing that every little boy is destined to be a serial rapist, it’s very strange that they still have these Valentine’s parties. Mixed messages much?

Every child must bring Valentines for the entire class and leave no one out. My youngest, he’s perhaps the most “hearts are icky” boy in our herd. He’s loving and sweet, but he’s not comfortable showing those characteristics outside the home. He’s very much a cantankerous, prickly little old man in some ways, and though I wish he’d relax and just feel okay not to put walls up against the world, that’s just how he’s always been and I don’t think there’s a thing I can do to change him.

He is, perhaps, the poster child for why these ridiculous class parties should not exist for kids his age. He was incredibly uncomfortable with the idea that he’d have to give love cards to anyone.

I guess the card companies that do the little class Valentines recognize this, because I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the store to pick them up. There were many that had absolutely nothing to do with love, or Valentine’s Day, really. I selected Avengers themed cards, and the closest thing to mushy that was on any of them was the one with the Hulk saying to have a “smashing” Valentine’s Day.

Huzzah! Relief! And they met with the little old man’s approval. We included a couple of Pixy Stix with each one, because I know for a fact that the other mothers will include candy in their kids’ Valentines, and if they’re going to get MY kid hopped up on sugar, I believe it’s my obligation to do the same. He didn’t put any pink colored Pixy Stix in, and even avoided the reds. There is nothing at all in his cards that says anything about hearts, or love, or romance, or even warmer than normal well-wishes.

So…what’s the point of these class parties again??

Thus concludes a Friday the Thirteenth Musing for Friday, February 13, 2015. Yes, it’s Friday the 13th. I suppose I could have mused about broken mirrors and black cats, but snow moles and loveless Valentines seemed more fun. VIVE EL MOLE!

There’s a weird glowing thing in the sky…

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Mornin’ all.

I think my kitty smoked some crack in the night. She’s tearing around the house like her tail’s on fire. Every time she gets near me she stops, crouches down, wiggles her butt like she’s going to attack, then jumps up in the air and takes off again. This has been going on now for 13 minutes straight. Maybe she found the stash of ‘nip.

Kitty got a problem.

Thirteen minutes. Now approaching 14. It’s fairly impressive. And, if I’m being honest, entertaining as hell. I didn’t think my morning coffee would come with a show.

Guess what? It didn’t snow yesterday!! Not one single flake. Yeehaw! The SUN even came out, too. It felt fantastic. My vitamin D factory went into overdrive as I stood and tried to knock the alarmingly large icicles off the bathroom roof.

No, for real dude…the icicles…THE ICICLES… Those of you who don’t live in an area prone to water freezing in various configurations through the winter might be thinking to yourselves, “Oooh…pretty!” When they’re on anything but your roof, yeah, I can see how they’re pretty. But when they are thick as an arm and run from the edge of the roof all the way to the ground, they are nothing but harbingers of bad times ahead.

See, an icicle on a roof forms when the roof conducts enough heat to melt the snow. Melted snow trickles down as water, drips over the edge, and freezes into a crystalline stalactites. While this can happen from a warm day turning into a cold night, my icicles have formed during cold days, with no sun to aid in the melting process. This means that the heat is coming from within and seeping out through the roof. This is not how a roof is supposed to work. *sigh*

I don’t even want to think about it right now. I’m just going to knock them down and pretend I don’t see them until there’s a leak. Not much to be done in winter for a roof anyway.

Man I want spring. I want spring so damn bad.

Ah well. It’ll get here before we know it, right? Until then, we’ll just have to entertain ourselves to keep the cabin fever at bay. Let’s look for something interesting to discuss.

How about this story? “Everything We Know About the Big Bang Theory Could Be Wrong” That seems like an excellent thing to explore today. My icicles mean diddly squat in outer space!

A new theory in quantum physics has been proposed that counters the idea that the universe was created from an explosive singularity.

“Uh, Bethie…should I be taking notes?”

No, no. There won’t be a test after.

Basically, the prevailing theory has been that there was a big explosion that created the universe. The idea is that about 14 billion years ago, the universe was really just one little dot of highly compressed matter just waiting to break free, and then something tipped the carefully compressed little bundle over the edge and **BOOM**: Universe.

Scientists have accepted this, by and large, because the small portion of the universe we have the ability to observe actually seems to be moving from a basic point. Things like galaxies and nebulae are traveling away from that dot, speeding through the previously nothing area of, well, nothing and filling it with universal matter of all fantastic sorts. We can track where many of the observable objects in space are moving, trace the steps backwards, and see that they seem to be coming from a general area.

It’s forensics, on a cosmic scale. As anyone who has ever watched CSI or NCIS or any of the 3,724 iterations of those two shows can tell you, basic forensic science says that you can determine the point of impact (in this case, the impact being the universal fricken singularity of AWESOME) by the blood splatter. Just think of the observable objects in space as forensic evidence.

When looked at in that light, the Big Bang seems to make sense as a creation theory.

…for the most part. On the surface. If we just look at Galaxy A and Nebula 22-41b. But more and more, we’re finding things that don’t fit that model. Entire galaxies are going in the “wrong” direction. Large blobs of mysterious matter that the Big Bang theory says shouldn’t exist are standing completely still. The better our telescopes become, the more we can see. The more we can see, the more we can study. The more we can study, the more we can learn. And as we’re gathering tons of data previously unavailable to our scientists, the more we’re finding these anomalies. The scientific community keeps having to spend a lot of time coming up with complex new theories to explain how these anomalies can exist in a Big Bang model.

Some scientists were sick of this shit. If the Big Bang was actually correct, in their minds, we wouldn’t HAVE to come up with more and more exemptions.

So, in this fed up state of mind, a couple of scientists decided to erase the chalkboard and take a different approach. Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das have proposed a new theory in a paper titled, “Cosmology from quantum potential.” The theory is being called the Ali-Das Model, which, you must admit, sounds way more sciency than “Big Bang.” I mean, who thought that one up, anyway? “This is my Bang, and I will call him Big and he will be my Big Bang…an’ I’munna hug him an’ squeeze him an’…” Cavemen could have come up with a more intelligent name!

Er…sorry. That’s always bugged me.

Anyway, this new theory…it’s actually not “new”, per se, but we’ll get to that in a sec. This new theory proposes that we’re really over-complicating things. It essentially says, scrap the Big Bang, and just accept that the universe is here. Period. It’s got sections that zing this-a-way, and doo dads that go there. Instead of dark matter and super strings and all these complex concepts thought up to explain all the holes in the Big Bang theory, it proposes a substance called “quantum fluid” which is a measurable force that ebbs and flows in the universe and explains seemingly anomalous observances.

Think of it like an ocean. Sure there are currents. There are also eddies, and pools, and mysterious things that live in the deep, dark recesses.

Now, just believe it’s always been there. That ocean has always been flowing. It flows in every direction, regardless of time, heedless of spacial confines, forever and ever and always.

“Bethie, this sounds implausible.”

Oh, I see. So you can accept that a mysterious dot of absolutely no mass and yet somehow ALL mass at once existed, but didn’t REALLY exist, in a place that was utterly nothing until one day it had enough and burst forth somehow producing every-fucking-thing? That makes more sense to you? HM?

“…touche.”

This new theory actually solves many previously unsolvable equations. Using math I’m not even going to pretend to understand, they have inputted their data and come out with answers. ANSWERS. Logical, quantifiable answers where before there were only…more theories.

Like I mentioned before, this concept isn’t exactly new. There have been many iterations through the years, voices that pipe up and say, “Uh, maybe the Emperor really IS as naked as he seems.” The big difference now is the math. The beautiful, effed up, confusing math. Essentially, it’s saying we’re making things way too hard on ourselves. This place is here, it’s always been here, it always will be here, and it’s infinite.

“But it’s still asking us to accept the concept of infinity in relation to the actual physical world, when everybody knows that there is no such thing anywhere as the perfect vacuum described in these theories. How can you expect me to stop believing in one abstract concept and embrace another?”

Hmm, that’s a beard scratcher. I suppose that’s what quantum physicists will be discussing around their liquid molecule entropy-lowering devices this morning.

*deep breath*

Ah that feels good. Science feels good. Stretching the brain and thinking beyond the confines of my icicle fortress makes me feel alive! Let’s head down and read the comments after the article to see how others are taking this potentially science-shattering new theory!

“BETHIE NO!!!”

…well damn. How did I not see that one coming? The first SEVEN posts are from people saying that the Bible is the only authority and that the scientists are heretics. It’s like…it’s so…

“I tried to warn you.”

When did religion turn from science?

Now, I know I’ve got readers who will balk when I say this, if they already haven’t, but in terms of history, religions have classically SUPPORTED science. Until very recently, the biggest contributors of scientific discovery, education, and enlightenment have been funded by churches. I’m sure the idea was that the way to be closest to God was to truly understand the depths of “His” creations.

So, when did that change? What made the followers of some of the world’s larger religions decide that science is bad?

The article I read was excellent. The author, Aja Romano, took a very difficult and expansive concept and succinctly compressed it for easy consumption without dumbing it down. I honestly felt invigorated after reading it, ready to expand my mind and explore a different concept. I would honestly have thought that people reading that article would be moved to comment on the aspects of the science.

Indeed, some were. But they were drowned out by people whose sole argument was, “The Bible didn’t say that, so it’s not true.”

It makes me wonder why people do that? I don’t go on to the religious articles and say, “My physics book didn’t say that, so you’re dumb.”

What motivates these people?

If you’re saying it’s to “educate”, or some misguided attempt to convert, you’re sorely mistaken. There is no attempt to promote a point of view in a logical argument. Instead, these folks overwhelmingly just want to say “Nuh uh.” What’s the point? Especially saying it to a group of people who stuck through past the first paragraph of what is actually some pretty heavy quantum theory. These are not folks that will, in any way, listen to an argument whose sum total is “pppfffftttthhhhhb.” Boggles the mind, and puts a damper on what is a very cool idea.

Maybe that’s the point right there. Maybe they’re saying, “I don’t get it, so you can’t enjoy it.” Disagree with the new theory if you want. I’m not saying otherwise. Just present your argument with, well, an actual argument. Don’t say, “You’re wrong,” if you can’t provide logical reasons for your point of view.

It’s just like the scientists who will staunchly stand behind the Big Bang theory for no other reason than it being the norm. There are zealots everywhere, I suppose, people who are firm in their beliefs in spite of any evidence to the contrary, and quail at the idea of change. I feel bad for the authors of this new theory. They’ve got an uphill battle on all fronts.

I wish you luck, Ali and Das. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re right. What matters is that you’ve accepted that the “norm” could be wrong and given me an interesting morning of thought free from icicles and snow berms and cold. I tip my hat.

Thus concludes a science-filled Musing for Wednesday, February 11, 2015. The kids are up. Ballisti-cat now has other targets. She’s currently eyeballing the youngest, deciding whether or not to jump on his bowl of cereal. I’m going to spend my morning seeking out her stash. She’s going cold turkey. Wish me luck.

Look out! We’ve got a rambler here…

Standard

Mornin’ all.

I meant to write some blogginess yesterday, but I done went and got myself a hangover. Instead of blogginess there was fogginess. Ah well. Sometimes a snowy, cold winter needs some margarita action, especially when that damn uppity rodent brings us more winter.

“Bethie, you do know the groundhog doesn’t actually make the weather happen, right?”

You have your beliefs, I have mine.

“…but…”

Shhhh.

Snowed a bit more, too. In fact, it’s still going. It’s just enough to make me wonder why there isn’t a school delay, but not enough to have to shovel. I can deal with that, especially since this little weather hissy fit also brought with it some face-melting temperatures. It’s 30 out. THIRTY! I’ve got my flip flops and my tee shirt and my fancy drink in a coconut all ready. Er, non-alcoholic fancy coconut drink. We’re still a bit touch and go.

And actually, while I’m setting the record straight, I won’t be wearing flip flops, either. I was just trying to paint you a picture there. I never wear flip flops, or, as I call them, Evil Footwear of Doom. I have several scars from poor life decisions when I was a child, and many of those are a direct result of choosing improper shoes.

Fact: You cannot pull off a decent slide at the bottom of a hill on your Huffy if the cheap foam of a flip flop gets caught in the pedal. That gives you a scar on your elbow and knee.

Fact: You cannot successfully play tag while wearing flip flops without tripping and getting sliced open by the license plate of a VW Beetle, then ending up in the emergency room while your old Polish aunt cries because you’re most definitely going to die. Scar on eyebrow, lip, and soul.

Fact: You cannot prowl around the spare lumper pile looking for snakes under your grandpa’s wood shed in flip flops without getting a nail right through your foot. Two scars, one on the bottom of the foot and one on top, and one smug mother who damn well told you that was going to happen, young lady.

Fact: You cannot sneak up on your sister to play any prank at all, no matter how harmless you swear it would have been. The “flippity flop” noise gives you away and pain follows. One humdinger in the shin with the totally rad fashion boots. You know, the kind with the silver tipped toe. Phat.

Though it took awhile (i.e.- until I started buying my own shoes), I learned my lessons about flip flops. I’ll bathe in the sunshine on the deck today and sip my non-alcoholic coconut drink while wearing shit kickers. They’re better in the snow anyway.

I watched the Super Bowl this past weekend. What a game!

“Uh oh, Bethie. You’re starting to do that thing where you talk about the sports ball stuff…”

I like football. Can’t help it. It’s the only sport I actually follow. I’m not one of those rabid monsters about it, but I do keep up with the teams, scores, and league news. I don’t watch regular season games, because I am a football-loving minority in the house. But I do like it.

I’ve never played, though. Most sports are physically out of my wheelhouse. I’ll watch the dudes who like to run the ball, I just don’t feel the same personal motivation to participate.

You want me to run? Down the field? Why…is a tiger chasing me? Zombie apocalypse finally happening? Am I trying to out pace the spread of measles? Because I’m going to be honest…if it’s not a life or death situation, I see no reason to go that fast on foot.

I can, however, rock a badminton racket. You’ve been warned.

So I liked the game. It was one of those rare, truly even matches that lead to edge-of-the-seat excitement for the viewers. Not a blowout. Not one of those games where one team is clearly in over their heads. It was a real contest, true sport. What a game!!

…which is good since the ads totally sucked. It’s pretty sad when one of the very best of the Super Bowl ads was for…glue.

I’m not kidding. That Loctite ad was amazing. Glue.

GLUE.

These companies spend big bucks…HUGE bucks…INSANE FRIGGIN’ BUCKS on these ad spots, and what did they show? A kid that was actually a ghost talking about how he died to somehow sell insurance (?), Nissan decided the best way to sell cars was to highlight a song by a guy who died in a car crash, Coke broke the internet (and not in the Kardashian sense), and Budweiser figured out how to keep puppies from aging for an entire year. At least that’s what I gleaned from that spot.

Pathetic.

Overall, the tone of the ads was serious. Why? I get that they’ve got a captive audience of millions. But that audience tuned in to watch a game. They turned on their tvs to have fun, not to be reminded of death, destruction, evil, neglect…

Should we be more conscience of safety hazards to children around the home? Of course! Should you tell me that when I’m sitting on a buddy’s couch sucking seven layer dip off the front of my shirt and washing it down with a brewski? No. You harshed my mellow, and all that does is make me hate you. I showed up for a party, and you gave me C-SPAN coverage. I wanted a break from reality, and the only thing you accomplished by interrupting that fun was making sure I will NOT be a customer.

Think of all that wasted money.

…on second thought, don’t. It’s enough to make you sick.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the halftime show. It was okay. Katy Perry’s performance style is just not my cup of tea. Lenny Kravitz was…interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Kravitz. But he sang half a song. Out of tune. And didn’t shred at all. What’s the point in having a kickass guitar player if he’s not going to kick ass while playing guitar?

I did like the Missy Elliott part, though cruising the internet after has let me know just how wrong I apparently am for my opinion. I’m not a huge fan of Missy Elliott or anything, but that section pretty much rocked and was a nice surprise. High energy, big name in hip hop. I thought it was a great injection of spirit into what was overall a bubble gum pop show. I mean, dancing happy sharks and beach ball bra. I think that speaks for itself.

“…”

Had your fill of the Super Bowl talk?

“…”

Fair enough.

I didn’t intend to babble about it so much anyway. Not when there are far better things to discuss. Like measles.

Do I have any “anti-vaxxers” in my readership? If so, why didn’t you vaccinate your kids? What is your reason? Is it because you have found a legitimate study that truly raises concerns, or because you listened to bad advice from a star, a “celebrity doctor,” or a model?

I would like to interrupt this Musing for a moment to clear something up. I in no way blame Jenny McCarthy. There are a lot of angry fingers pointed her way right now, with people putting the onus on her shoulders for the current anti-vaccine craze. Why? She was wrong. But so were many, many others in Hollywood, many far more famous with bigger audiences than her. Bill Maher, Alicia Silverstone, Charlie Sheen…hell, Donald Trump said he believes they cause autism.

And she is just a model. A model. Let’s not forget that.

You know who is not just a model? Mayim Bialik. Folks about my age will know her as “Blossom” on the 90’s tv show, but she also currently plays a character in the hit show, “The Big Bang Theory.” She is a Hollywood actress. She is also a neuroscientist.

No. That’s not a joke. She’s a bona fide neuroscientist. She got her PhD after writing a dissertation titled, “Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome.” YEAH. Legit smarts.

Mayim Bialik is, perhaps, the smartest actor on tv right now. She’s got a legitimate doctorate. And she didn’t vaccinate her kids.

All Jenny McCarthy did was try to find a reason for her kid’s autism. She was looking for something to blame, something to pinpoint. Was she right? No, of course not. She followed advice of a since-debunked doctor and thought she was onto something that might give her answers. As a mother with an autistic child, I can at least understand where she was coming from.

However, if the sole reason you didn’t vaccinate your children was because a skin model didn’t vaccinate hers, YOU are the moron in that scenario, not her. Stop blaming her.

Instead, let’s blame people like Blossom and doctors who should know better.

As I said, Jenny McCarthy began her anti-vaccine campaign because she honestly believed the falsified study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield that claimed a “strong” and “clear” link between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and autism. Many people believed former Dr. Wakefield. In fact, it took years for the scientific community to officially debunk him, strip him of his medical title, and kick him to the curb. His work has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be intentionally falsified in an effort to promote HIS OWN VACCINE.

It’s true. He patented a different series of vaccines he developed that would replace the MMR.

Read that again, any “anti-vaxxers” out there. Not even the guy who started this was against vaccines. He was against the current MMR vaccine specifically, and ONLY because he wanted to sell his own version of it.

The doctor who got the ball rolling tricked a lot of people. And once the rumor started to spread through the great “telephone game” of humanity, it was hard to stop. I get that. I understand that part of it. Fear of autism, fear of complications, fear in general has made the population panicked and leery. I understand that. To me, that’s reasonable. To me, it’s something the world’s physicians need to band together to combat. The average person who’s just trying to raise kids shouldn’t also have to do doctorate level research. That’s why we have doctors in the first place. I get why the average Joe or Jane or model could be duped into believing that vaccines are bad. I even had my own questions when the kiddies were still pups.

I was a young mother. I married a man who already had two young children, then started having my own at 20. There was a lot of stress and chaos in my life at that point, and the last thing I had time to do was sit down and pour through medical info on vaccines. When my first son was born, I was handed a stack of paperwork that said he got vaccinated and what the vaccines were for. I had just given birth through a horrid labor, and they stuffed me with info as I lay in a drug induced stupor after surgery. I was in no shape to understand anything at that point, but did raise questions when he was going to get more vaccines at his 3 month check up. The doctor said it was “just the state recommended vaccine schedule” and that I “should” follow it, but I “could opt out.” The paperwork I got said what the vaccines were, of course, but oddly concentrated more on the possible side effects instead of giving information about how awful the diseases could be. In fact, the front page of the paper said what the vaccine was and what disease it protected against, with lots of cheesy clipart to make it look fun and appealing. In contrast, the list of possible side effects took up an additional TWO sheets of paper, with no fun clipart.

What seems more important to an uneducated mother looking for answers? One page of silliness, or two pages of potential consequences so dire there isn’t even friendly clipart?

That particular doctor also told me to “push him down” when my son began pulling himself up to stand against the couch at that same appointment. The doctor actually said that if I let him walk “too early” that his hips would form improperly and he would suffer his whole life. “Vaccines are great, don’t worry about it, but here’s a shit ton of side effects for you to watch for while you’re knocking your baby to the floor.” You can see why I may have been dubious of any medical info from this pediatrician.

Of course I went to a new one. But that one didn’t offer any substantial opinion on vaccines, either. I got the same line about it being state recommendations, and that I could opt out. So when I had my second son just two years later, I didn’t really know any more than I did before I became a mother. And when he showed early signs of autism, the doctor did absolutely nothing to debunk the idea that it could be from vaccines.

People keep saying that the “anti-vaxxers” are whack jobs. Maybe now. Maybe in the modern age of internet everywhere and the ability to do their own research. But when my kids were little, no one had smart phones. Google wasn’t really a thing. Only nerds and geeks and libraries had internet access. Back then, and before, people relied on doctors, and the doctors didn’t do enough, and that bred the problem we face now.

To be clear, all my kids are vaccinated. The teens even have the HPV vaccine that’s not yet standard. However, I, too, had a time in life when not even the doctors answered my questions about vaccinations. I get that even smart people who turn to their doctors for answers and advice can become confused…especially when my kids were little, when the whole “anti-vax” issue came to light hand in hand with the explosion of autism diagnoses. People were looking for an answer, THE answer, and a scummy, self-serving con artist took advantage.

That was then. What about now? We HAVE the info that the guy was lying, and a ten minute voyage on the internet is all it takes to find hundreds of confirmed scientific studies that support vaccination as the healthy step. And people are STILL choosing not to vaccinate.

Let’s look at Mayim Bialik. Dr. Bialik- again, a NEUROSCIENTIST, so no dummy- investigated all the research available on vaccines, and decided not to vaccinate because, in her own words, “…the things that people choose to vaccinate against are not necessarily things that were vaccinated against 20 or 30 years ago.”

Read it again.

Soak it in.

Absorb the utter idiocy that is being promoted by a high profile neuroscientist.

Mayim Bialik chooses not to vaccinate her children because we have modern vaccines that were not available 20 or 30 years ago. She went on to cite the vaccines that were available when she was a kid, vs the ones that are available now. She chooses not to vaccinate her children because science has progressed to a point where we now have the ability to prevent more diseases.

My mind is literally blown. And I’m not saying that in the modern, over-used internet sense. I read through all her quotes on why she does not vaccinate her children, and a part of my brain is now twitching. My eye has gone into full spasm mode and I just popped a couple aspirin to ward off a heart attack.

She does not vaccinate her kids because medicine has advanced.

I wonder if she still bleeds her kids when they have the flu, too?

Do you know what measles can do? I mean, yeah, it “only” actually kills a small percentage of people who get it, so I suppose it can be considered one of the lesser “deadly” diseases. Most people know that much. But even those who live can suffer horrible lifelong effects, including deafness, deep scarring, permanent brain damage, liver failure… I was shocked to see how terrible complications from measles can be. I always kind of equated it with chicken pox. It’s not, not even close.

Why don’t we know this? As a general populace, why isn’t this common knowledge? This is where we need to blame doctors. Why aren’t doctors talking about it in more serious terms?

I have a proposal. Instead of having one page on the disease and two on slightly possible side effects, why don’t we give women at prenatal appointments pictures of the graves of children who died from the diseases? Or photos of the horrible scarring on the little faces of the survivors? Or a breakdown of the cost and level of care a comatose child who had a measles complication will require for the rest of their life? Cut out the clip art. This is serious shit, and it does not need to be put in a cute package. It’s not cute! It *should* be heavy and daunting. It should be given legitimacy.

Why do we vaccinate? Because the headache, chill, or slight nausea kids *may* get from the vaccine is nothing, NOTHING when compared with the disease. Tell them that. Make THAT the focus. And make sure people know that the medical advances ARE A GOOD THING.

If we did that, if doctors stepped up and stopped pussy footing around the serious issues, the average Joe wouldn’t feel that they had to turn to celebrities for answers.

Thus concludes a very long Musing on a snowy, winter’s morn for Thursday, February 5, 2015. I’m off to shovel. My hope earlier that there wouldn’t be enough snow to warrant such a horrendous action was folly. Perhaps I shouldn’t have pissed off the groundhog? I’m sorry, groundhog, you wise denizen of the woods. Please bring back the sun now. K, thnx.