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.

Look out! We’ve got a rambler here…

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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.