Sunday, May 29, 2005

Music to be Sad & Bitter By

I've had insomnia and a bad flare-up of the neuralgia pain for the past few nights...and it's left me with a lot of time on my hands (as might be obvious by my Book Meme post, lol). I've read several books, watched boring television and last night, burned a few CD's.

I love ballads and sad songs. I always have. So last night, I made the following compilation, a first volume in a bummed-out-moods collection:


I've Had It--Aimee Mann
Johnny Mathis' Feet--American Music Club
Love Song for a Vampire--Annie Lennox
I Can't Make You Love Me--Bonnie Raitt
Leap of Faith--Book of Love
Shivers--Boys Next Door
Rilkean Heart (acoustic version)--Cocteau Twins
New Roses--Die Lady Di
Lost Count--Ebba Forsberg
Little Suicides--Golden Palominos
Very Bad a Bitter Hand--His Name is Alive
Let the Happiness In--The Hope Blister
When I Snap Out of This--Jules Verdone
Love Affair--k.d. lang
This Woman's Work--Kate Bush
Your Ghost--Kristin Hersch
Ex-Factor--Lauryn Hill
Shame--Low
Being Boring--Merril Bainbridge
My Skin--Natalie Merchant


Damn, I'm bored and sick and tired of being sick and tired...

Volume Two:

Innocent Child--Big Audio Dynamite II
Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye--Annie Lennox
Stay--Belly
Make It Home--Juliana Hatfield
I Will Never Be the Same--Melissa Etheridge
Just a Dream--Joe 90
Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Drug In)--Michael Penn
Lady Madelaine--Marianne Faithfull
Apart--The Cure
Reunion--Korea Girl
Jealous Guy--John Lennon
Condemnation (Paris Mix)--Depeche Mode
Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime--Dream Academy
Bizarre Love Triangle--Frente!
Ghost--Indigo Girls
On Your Shore--Enya
It Can't Rain All the Time--Jane Siberry
I Won't Share You--The Smiths

Last one for tonight, then I am going to attempt slumber (wish me luck).
Volume 3:


I'd Die Without You--P.M. Dawn
Forgotten--Ugly Beauty
Somehow We Get There--Melissa Ferrick
On The Stairs--Nicky Holland
Winter Kills--Yaz
The Man With the Child in His Eyes--Kate Bush
Pimmel--Muffs
There's a Place in Hell For Me and My Friends--Morrissey
Everytime You Go Away--Paul Young
But Not For Me--Natalie Merchant
Whirlpool--Seal
Thin Line Between Love and Hate--Pretenders
Condition of the Heart--Prince
Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World--U2
Like a Tattoo--Sade
The Lines of My Earth--Sixpence None the Richer
Winter--Tori Amos
I Want To Live--This Mortal Coil
Czarina--Smashing Pumpkins
Sacrifice--Sinead O'Connor
Two People--Violent Femmes

Wow, I'm not only in a "downer" mood, but in a retro one as well, it seems. So be it...

Wishing Emma Luck

My best female friend, Emma, has made the big move across the pond to London, England. I am green with envy...and I wish her well. I hope the UK treats my girl right. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Book Meme Challenge

Thanks to Motomama, for posting this. It's interesting, and if nothing else, time-consuming:

Grab the closest book to you. Resist the urge to get hold of one of the cooler, intellectual ones! You've gotta be honest. Turn to page 123. Go down five sentences, and then post the next three sentences in your blog. Simple.

OK, I've cheated a bit, because the only books in the computer area right now are the kids' textbooks, and that's no fun. So I went into the living room, and there on the coffee table were not one, but two books. Not wanting to choose between the two, I decided to cheat again and do both.

The first: The Museum of Hoaxes by Alex Boese.

"Therefore it came to be known more anonymously as 'the Surgeon's Photo.' For years, skeptics were sure that the photo was somehow a hoax. But no rigorous studies of the image were conducted until 1984, when Stewart Campbell analyzed the photo in an article in the British Journal of Photography."

The second: The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir

"Rous says they 'were unjustly and cruelly put to death, being lamented by everyone, and innocent of the deed for which they were charged'. More states that their only fault was in being 'good men, too true to the King' and Vergil avers that their true offence was to stand in the way of Gloucester's ambitions. Croyland observes that this was the 'second innocent blood which was shed on the occassion of this sudden change'."

OK, these are both non-fiction books, and that's not a whole lot of fun. So, in the spirit of fun and fairness, I'm going to re-do the challenge with the first two fictional books I find. Surprise, surprise: they are both Arthurian.

The first:
Guinever's Gift by Nicole St. John:

"I did not even knock, just threw myself in, and shut and barred the door, sagged against it. Someone was gasping in shuddering sobs, and I did not even know at first that it was I. Then there was Charles' voice, filled with concern."

The second: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley:

"Silence, again, a silence that stretched and dragged; Vivianne felt her body cramped with the tension of stillness but she did not move, with the long discipline of her training. At last Morgaine murmured, 'How still he lies...but he is breathing, soon he will wake. I see my mother...no, it is not Mother, it is my aunt Morgause, and all her children are with her...there are four of them...how strange, they are all wearing crowns..and there is another, holding a dagger...why is he so young?"

This is fun. I've done two non-fiction, two fiction. I think I'll do just two more, to round it out. This time, autobiographies:

The first:
Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs by John Lydon:

"That was the reason we waited outside. Malcolm went in and was quite literally, physically thrown out. CBS wasn't interested at all, but Malcolm barged his way in."

The second: Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance by Leonard Peltier:

"She meant us menfolk. I laughed quietly with them. They were right, we'd never notice."


That was amusing. Any other takers?

More Nutbag Parents: Mom Loses Kid in Toy Machine

I'd like to thank the great blogger at Blog from a Broad: Might Contain Traces of Nuts, for posting about this story:



Houdini babe takes toy initiative

A three-year-old boy became trapped in a toy vending machine, after crawling inside to get a stuffed animal when his mother wasn't looking.
James Manges created a diversion and slid down a chute into the crane vending machine in Elkhart, Indiana, where he played happily with the toys.

His mother was initially amused, and took photographs of her son, but became alarmed when no one could find a key.

Firemen freed the boy, but, his mother said, "he definitely didn't get a toy".

Danielle Manges took James to the local Wal-Mart store at 0330, when he was unable to sleep.

He wanted money to get a stuffed toy out of a crane vending machine, and when his mother said no, he threw his drink on the floor and took advantage of her momentary distraction to make his move.

"Within two seconds he had climbed through the hole, into the chute and pushed the door shut so we couldn't get him out," she said.

James played happily among the toys and swung from the bars inside the machine.
But when Wal-Mart staff found they had no key to open the machine, the fire brigade had to be called to force the vending machine open.

"I pulled him from the back, he came right to me, and then I handed him to mom," said Firefighter Jeff Herman.

"He was in a bit of trouble afterwards," said Danielle Manges.

She added that James had become adept at climbing out of his playpen, doors and even windows.

Now she is wondering whether she might have two little Houdinis to deal with.

"I'm pregnant," she said.

"If I have another one like him that's gonna top it off."


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I'm without words on this one, folks. I really, really am. And that's saying something.

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MS and Belly Buttons: To Pierce or Not To Pierce?

I like to read up on articles about MS, and found a rather unusual one yesterday. This is the first time I've ever seen an article devoted entirely to multiple sclerosis & navel rings. It's also the first time I've ever seen acupuncture techniques used to support an anti-piercing stance. My comments will follow (you didn't expect me to keep quiet, did you?).


NAVEL PIERCING & MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS OR CHRONIC DISEASE?

Laurance Johnston, Ph.D.



In response to my writing on various alternative medicine topics, I sometimes receive unusual, but intriguing, questions. For example, a woman asked me
“Will a navel pierce aggravate multiple sclerosis (MS)?” The more I mulled over and researched this seemingly arcane question, I realized it was especially apropos under the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) concepts that form the basis for acupuncture.

In risk-assessment calculations, overall risk is determined by multiplying individual risk by the number of people facing this risk. Hence, even if the risk associated with wearing a navel pierce is low for any specific person, it could cumulatively represent a significant overall health risk given the millions of young women who have had such rings inserted in their navels for an extended period of time over the past decade. If such a risk is real, one then speculates how many of these women 20 years hence may be more predisposed to diseases of chronic origin, such as MS, because they have kept a ring inserted in their navel for many years of their youth.

Acupuncture: To understand this issue, we must briefly review the TCM philosophy behind acupuncture. This ancient healing tradition believes that
a life-force energy called qi (pronounce chee) permeates all living things through channels called meridians. Good health requires an ample and flowing supply of qi. When qi is consistently diminished, out of balance, or polluted, sickness ensues; its absence means death.

Acupuncture points, small skin areas that are considered energy vortexes, periodically punctuate meridians. For those skeptical of this 5,000-year old healing tradition, modern scientists have, indeed, shown that these acupuncture points correspond to skin areas of greatly reduced electrical resistance. To promote healthy energy balance, the qi that flows through these meridians
can be regulated through needle insertion or other mechanisms.

Because conventional medicine emphasizes overt symptoms as opposed to
long-term causes of diseases and lacks TCM’s core belief that chronic energy imbalances are the basis for disease, we are unlikely to get answers for questions of this nature from traditional MS healthcare professionals.

Conception Vessel Meridian: A navel ring is inserted near a key acupuncture point located on the body’s all-important Conception Vessel (CV) meridian. As shown in the attached illustration, this acupuncture point, specifically CV8, is centered in the middle of the umbilicus or belly button. It is forbidden to needle this point under TCM theory. Depending upon the specific insertion, a naval ring could be the equivalent of having an acupuncture needle permanently inserted in this forbidden point. Such a situation could cause a chronic energy imbalance, and, in turn, under TCM theory, a predisposition to disease, such as MS.

Although this article establishes no link between MS and navel piercing, the information gathered suggests that this cosmetic practice may, indeed, have a downside.

What the Experts Say: First, according to Margaret Naeser, Ph.D., Lic.Ac. (licensed acupuncturist) and research professor of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, and VA Boston Healthcare System, the CV8 acupuncture point warms and stabilizes the body's yang energy (O'Connor & Bensky, 1983). Qi energy is divided into interacting yin and yang aspects, yang reflecting heat and what is active, and relatively more on the surface. Although it is forbidden to needle the CV8 acupuncture point, she was uncertain to what degree a piercing at the belly-button perimeter may affect the CV8 acupuncture point, located at the belly button center. However, even if the piercing avoids direct penetration of this point, it still may affect energy flow through the conception vessel meridian, especially if the piercing is in the midline of the navel on the superior
or inferior edge of the umbilicus.

This acupuncture point in the navel is never treated with an acupuncture needle
in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is only treated with warming moxibustion (an acupunctural variation in which points are stimulated by warmth instead of needles) or massage. According to Naeser, it would not be recommended to use body piercing of any kind, in or around the CV8 acupuncture point.

Second, through clinical observations, Dr. Patricia Combier, a TCM expert from Saint Laurent du var, France, has concluded that a navel piercing could potentially lead to major health-aggravating energy disturbances. Although most likely having minimal effects on a healthy person, she
believes that a navel piercing of an already emotionally, psychologically, or traumatically predisposed person could adversely influence energy imbalances, resulting in future sickness.

According to Combier, even if the vulnerable CV8 point isn’t exactly needled,
the overall surrounding area is considered a major energetic doorway to the body. If this energetic pipeline is breached, it is an invitation to major problems or the emergence of previously silent problems because the body will not be able to energetically compensate.

Finally, Villti Ulfur (Boulder, Colorado), an expert on alternative healing traditions, also believes that there can be a health-aggravating energy diminution associated with a navel pierce. According to him, a healthy body usually can develop a new energy meridian around the piercing site, and, as such, for most women, navel piercing will probably be innocuous. However, if the woman is already predisposed to MS, it can be the trigger that moves that person
more quickly into a disease state.

Conclusion: For many teenage women basking in youth’s vitality, it may be hard to factor in today’s decision-making a vague, undocumented, future health risk, especially compared to the immediate psychosocial benefits of wearing a navel pierce. Because navel piercing is a relatively new phenomenon, it is, of course, impossible at this stage to demonstrate any link to any disorder, whose expression is of a long-term, chronic nature, such as MS. Nevertheless, Traditional Chinese Medicine theory suggests that this cosmetic procedure promotes energetic imbalances, which, in turn, could conceivably compromise future health long after one has stopped wearing such jewelry. Although only the individual woman can decide if the self-image and -esteem benefits of wearing a navel pierce out-weigh the yet undetermined potential for future adverse health consequences, this potential should clearly be factored in her decision-making.

Reference: O'Connor J & Bensky D: Acupuncture, A Comprehensive Text. Translated from the Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chicago IL: Eastland Press. 1981. p. 182.

*****************************
I have a couple of problems with this, but before I rant I'd like to make a disclaimer: if you believe in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, great. I'm a firm believer in letting others believe as they will. However, this is my blog and I'll bitch if I want to (and frequently do).

First, no one knows what causes MS. Among the leading theories include environmental factors and exposure to certain illnesses in childhood. In fact, some studies seem to indicate that most people "get" MS in childhood but don't develop symptoms for years. But what it all boils down to is: nobody knows. We know there are certain "risk factors": women are more likely to get it, it most often shows up in your 20's and the further North of the Equator you live, the more likely you are to get it (which seems to support the environmental theory). No one is sure.

Until I read this article, however, I've never heard it suggested that getting your navel pierced would cause or exacerbate MS, and I've got to say that unless I see a cold, hard, quanitified study or two...I don't believe it.

I myself have never had my navel pierced, nor am I interested, to be honest. I haven't been, since I saw a young friend of mine, years ago, have a migrated and infected navel ring forceably removed from her stomach. Yikes, is all I can say. I do have my ears pierced repeatedly, and my nose pierced. In my youth, I also had my septum and lips pierced as well. In addition, I have several tattoos...all but one of which I got after I developed symptoms of MS.

Which brings me to my next point: although I don't believe getting a piercing would cause MS or make the disease worse per se, I can see it bringing on a relapse in some (but not all) patients. If you're not feeling well already, or are sensitive to pain, or have site reactions...in those cases, I can see either a piercing or a tattoo aggrivating symptoms. And if it gets infected? That I can definately see causing problems, particularly if you're one of those MSers (like myself) who relapse with every cold or infection.

Does this mean I think people with MS shouldn't get body modifications? Nope. I'm not going to stop getting ink done, that's for sure. Do I think it COULD cause problems? Possibly.

So what could a person with MS do to minimize risk? My advice: carefully research your artist or piercer (good advice for anyone wanting bod mods). Only go to a reputable and hygenic studio; this will help cut down on the risk of infection and unnecessary pain (if you've ever been pierced by an inexperienced piercer, you know exactly what I mean). If you're sensitive to pain or get severe site reactions, you might want to steer clear of bod mods in general. And don't get any work done if you're in a relapse or feeling one coming on. I would even go so far as to advise MSers who are very heat-reactive to avoid getting bod mods when the temperature has been high...why rock the boat? And naturally, if you've had a bad reaction to bod mods in the past, it's probably not a good idea to tempt fate.

In the end, of course, there is risk involved: no one knows exactly how they are going to respond to a piercing or tattoo until they get it. This includes people who have already gotten work done before, as there can be a significant difference in pain and sensitivity from area to area on your body (my stomach tat, for instance, actually tickled, while my upper-leg tat hurt when the needle came near my kneecap). If you want to err on the side of caution, go with a smaller tattoo or minor piercing (ears, for instance) and see how your body reacts. Also, be aware that some medications might make you more suseptible to infection, or might make your blood thin (which tends to affect the quality of tattoos, and is why you should never get one drunk). And of course, think long and hard about getting a bod mod...and if it's worth it to you, despite the risks, go for it!

I'm interested in hearing comments from others in the MS/blogging community about this article and/or my comments. Do you have bod mods? Did you notice any change in your symptoms afterwards? Do you utilize acupuncture, and does it help at all? Anything you'd like to add? Fire away!



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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Nutbag Authors: Sexist Men on Parade

If the heat weren't enough to make me sick this week, I've got this naseau-inducing piece of tripe to send me scrambling for the water closet: the book "Closing the Deal: Two Married Guys Take You From Single Miss to Wedded Bliss" by two complete idiots with testicles for brains.

Let's examine a few excerpts from this interview with the before-mentioned nutbrains about their book. My comments are in red:

When Rosenberg and his writing partner, advertising chairman Richard Kirshenbaum, 43, decided to write Closing the Deal it was to fill a gap, they say, in women's understanding about men, to help them understand masculine minds so that they could attract and win a mate for life. Because we all know that getting married is like winning the lottery! @@

And it was clearly a book women desperately needed, they claimed, citing the dwindling numbers of marriages and growing numbers of unhappy middle-aged, childless spinsters. I'm willing to bet that it NEVER occured to these assmunches that a middle-aged woman with no kids might actually be HAPPY to not be married to a complete turd-for-brains. If she's not...I suggest buying this book. She'll cry "Hallelujah!" and thank any deity she worships for her empty left ring-finger.

As well as "The Definite No-Nos for Dummies List", or what they term as "real Dealbreakers", the duo offer "Marriage Motivators" and advice on how women should market their various "Assets". Because Heaven knows, acting like a prostitute will always attract a man of quality.

To top it all, there are interviews with women the men believe have done the deal successfully - like Ziegfeld Folly girl Shirley Travis, now 96 (who advises "If your husband ever asks for sex, never have a bellyache or a headache If my husband asks for sex, and I don't feel like it, he knows where the vaseline is.

One of their biggest fans, he says, is an attractive, ballsy, slightly plump female friend who constantly complained that men didn't see her inner beauty.

Just three sentences from them, Rosenberg said, changed her life: "'You can say it's not fair that men don't see your inner beauty. But that's the way men are. They are not going to change.' She thought about it. Went to the gym. And is now engaged." There are not words to describe how disgusting the above paragraph is. These "men" seem to think women are nothing more than cattle: clean the cow up well, make sure the milk tastes good and someone will buy her at the market. I have three sentences for you, buddy: Kiss. My. Ass.

After leaving school and college, Kirshenbaum explains, many women now go straight into careers and don't spend enough time thinking about exactly what they want in their personal lives. Damn modern women and their desire to have a career instead of being barefoot and pregnant!

"Like the messy girl we wrote about, whose apartment was a tip," Kirshenbaum explains. "I saw her twice, but not three times. Or the other woman we talk about, who had Yapper Syndrome and said 'I am not sure why you are going out with me' so often that I began to wonder, too. Or the girl who got up early to clean her teeth and look good before her partner woke. She became my wife." You married a woman because she never let you become aware of her morning breath? Good gravy. These are probably the kind of guys you see on talk shows who can't have sex with their wives anymore because they saw them give birth in the delivery room. Hey, asshole? Want a Barbie? Buy one. I promise, they'll be quiet while you burp.

It was also the women's ability to sell the whole concept of marriage to their bachelor boys that put rings on their fingers: persuading the men, without threats or ultimatums, that cohabitation would be more beneficial than living alone; that they would earn more, be socially more acceptable, have someone to fall back on. And here all along I thought that you got married because you loved someone and wanted to spend your life with them. Apparently, people should only get married to get into a higher tax bracket and all the best parties!

Although Rosenberg admits that his wife did have to walk out of the relationship for ten months to show him what he would lose if he didn't marry her - using tactics the pair call "The Art of the Bluff" - Kirshenbaum's wife knew exactly how to rope him in, the author claims. Or maybe she was trying to run, and changed her mind. Poor thing.

"You don't have to listen to our advice if you don't want to. That's fine," he adds with a smug chuckle. "Just as long as you're prepared for the consequences. Singledom. And you're single, right?" Nope. I'm married. Quite happily. To a man who actually values a woman who can think for herself. Imagine that?


Deal makers: What will make a woman irresistible to a man in search of a wife?


Likes herself. If you can't love yourself, no man can love you. "There's nothing sexier than a woman who has a good sense of herself." Unless she's fat. Then she should go to the gym. @@

Makes her man the centre of her universe. "He's in a tough world out there and he needs you to pick him up, nurture him and send him back out again, feeling good." You've got to be kidding me. Methinks these guys are longing for a 1950's-TV world. Quit watching "Nick at Nite," guys. You'll be happier for it.

Shows integrity. "As a general rule, guys don't marry women who are more morally corrupt than they are... If your past is filled with a few bad decisions, live with them and learn from them. Don't share them." Yeah, because who wants a mate who actually shares things with you? Much better to hide it and lie. People just LOVE that.

Looks feminine. "A soft skin, gentle touch, soothing voice and sensuous smell will help you close the deal." And make sure the milk tastes good, right?


Deal breakers: There are a few things that will almost certainly derail a deal...


Wearing your emotions too publicly. "Men want to marry someone steady, in control and graceful under pressure." In other words, a Stepford Wife. :::shudder:::

Being a ballbreaker at home. "Don't bring the boss home to dinner - especially if she's in a bad mood." Leave your work strops and stresses at the office. WTH is a "strop"? And there's that "sharing" thing again. That's fine if all you want is a roommate who makes booty calls. But a considerate, loving partner WANTS to help you share you stresses as much as they want to share in your successes.

Nagging. "Most guys have already had a mother who's been at them for years and they don't want a replacement." Then why do you all bitch about how we don't cook like your mom, then?

Yapper Syndrome. Men don't want to know everything about your life. "We want mystery: to see you unravel slowly." Mystery is fine...when you're dating. Marriage is a partnership, and you don't hide yourself from your partner. And why would you want to?

Dirt. "An intimate impression can derail any romance, and no one wants to wake up with a tramp with bad breath and hairy armpits." Well, we never wanted to wake up next to your beer belly, morning wood and endless gas...but we are HUMAN, after all.

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I suppose there are some women out there so very desperate to get married that they will try anything, even purposefully giving money to knuckle-dragging Neanderthals like these two. But you know what the bottom line is, the core reason why books like this one and "The Rules" do not work? Because they are based on deception, on changing yourself so someone will love you forever. And the problem with that, is that eventually you will either be unable to carry on the illusion and lose him when he realizes he married an actress who took cues from a book, or you'll go mad and bludgeon him to death in his sleep.

But be sure to have clean breath and shaved armpits when you do.

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Tin God Syndrome: Wannabe Tin God, or Shut Up, Tom Cruise

The only thing that is possibly worse than a Tin God is a Wannabe Tin God. Observe:

MSN - News - Gossip

Has Tom Cruise received a medical degree in his spare time? The megastar is openly questioning the treatment Brooke Shields received for her crippling postpartum depression, a struggle she details in her new memoir, "Down Came the Rain."

Tom, sticking close to Scientology's anti-psychiatry party line, believes Shields, despite experiencing what she has described as suicidal thoughts, should have avoided taking the anti-depressant drug Paxil following the birth of her daughter, Rowan, in 2003.

"These drugs are dangerous. I have actually helped people come off," Cruise proselytizes, er, says, in an interview with Access Hollywood set to air Thursday (via the New York Daily News). "When you talk about postpartum, you can take people today, women, and what you do is you use vitamins."

************

Hey, Tom? Do you either have a medical degree or a pair of ovaries you have failed to disclose? No? Until you do...shut up. Go back to the things you are expert in: making big-budget action movies with little or no plot, dating women so young they play teenagers on television shows and grinning like a moronic little dwarf.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nutbags in the Government: Helping Rapists Get a Stiffy

I think I'm going to be sick.


Medicaid Covers Viagra for Sex Offenders, Audit Reveals

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 22) - Scores of convicted rapists and other high-risk sex offenders in New York have been getting Viagra paid by Medicaid for the last five years, the state's comptroller said Sunday.

Audits by Comptroller Alan Hevesi's office showed that between January 2000 and March 2005, 198 sex offenders in New York received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions. Those included crimes against children as young as 2 years old, he said.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Nutbag Extraordinaire: Phelps Bullies Student

Just when I think Phelps has been the lowest he can get, he does that Limbo Rock just one more time and gets even lower:

The American Street

Fred Phelps and his lot are planning to picket a school in Massachusetts.

A Kansas-based evangelical group plans to picket Englesby Intermediate School June 6 after a student won an essay contest writing about openly gay comedienne Ellen DeGeneres.

A flier from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka singles out a Women in History essay written by a 12-year-old student who chose DeGeneres as her subject. The invective-laden leaflet includes a photo of the Englesby School and
a grotesque devil. The diatribe attacks the staff, labeling it a “homo-fascist regime,” among other things.

Acting Police Chief Kevin Richardson said he received a communication from Fred Phelps, pastor of the Kansas church, asking for information about securing the proper permits. Richardson recoiled when shown the flier, saying, “No, we didn’t get this.”

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I guess Phelps has run out of adult victims to torture with his mangled version of Christianity...he's now targeting the pre-pubescent. The man should be strung up by his short hairs and bullwhipped by Eddie Izzard and Dame Edna. You know he secretly wants to be, anyway.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Nutbags with a Double-Standard: School Forbids Teen Mom, But Allows Teen Dad to Graduate

Pregnant student defies graduation ban
Thursday, May 19, 2005

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- A pregnant student who was banned from graduation at her Roman Catholic high school announced her own name and walked across the stage anyway at the close of the program.

Alysha Cosby's decision prompted cheers and applause Tuesday from many of her fellow seniors at St. Jude Educational Institute.

But her mother and aunt were escorted out of the church by police after Cosby headed back to her seat.

"I can't believe something like this is happening in 2005," said her mother, Sheila Cosby. "My daughter has been through a lot and I am proud of her. She deserved to walk, and she did."

The school's guidance counselor delivered Cosby's degree to her house earlier Tuesday, but she still wanted to participate.

"I worked hard throughout high school and I wanted to walk with my class," she said.

Cosby was told in March that she could no longer attend school because of safety concerns, and her name was not listed in the graduation program.

The father of Cosby's child, also a senior at the school, was allowed to participate in graduation.


After all these years, they are still abiding by the same ol' crap: women are dirty, and boys will be boys. Put the scarlet letter on the pregnant mom who was stupid, lazy or sinful enough to get pregnant (as if she did it on purpose, or by herself)...but the father? He gets a pass.

Absolutely disgusting. And to then have the POLICE called? Adding insult to injury.

Kudos to this girl and her family for refusing to let the school treat her as if it were 1905 instead of 2005. And shame on the school...for treating her like a leper, for not holding the father responsible as well, and for involving the cops. Statistics have shown for years that pregnant teens are less likely to finish school...and situations like this DO NOT help. Treating the girls as if they are shameful and something to be hidden away so as not to embarrass the school, while the father has no such prohibitions, is not only sexist garbage but antiquated bullshit that I'd hoped even the RCC was beyond by now. And the whole "safety concerns" nonsense? Utter and complete rubbish which, I've no doubt, fooled no one.

My note to the RCC: you've got bad enough press right now for your treatment of children. Why are throwing kindling on the fire?

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Well, This Sucks: MS Attacks My Legs

As I wrote about a few days ago, I took the kids to the Oregon Zoo. We all love the zoo; it's a lot of fun. It's also a LOT of walking. And apparently, this pissed my MS off to no end.

Ever since we came home from the zoo, I have been in constant pain in my legs: burning, aching, awful pain, marked with the occassional horrific muscle spasm. My Baclofen is not helping with this at all, and my pain meds are useless. I can barely walk, and when I do...the pain is unbelievable. It's been 3 days, and I still feel just terrible. I called my doctor, and she told me to "rest it off." Look, lady, I've got three kids (a special-needs child, a kid whose asthma is acting up and a toddler hell-bent on destruction)..."rest" is easier said than done.

The last time we went to the zoo, I forgot my cane, and my legs hurt a little...for a few hours. I chalked it up to a lesson learned, and took my cane this time. Apparently, it was not enough. I am actually going to have to rent a scooter there next time...and that smarts.

Don't get me wrong...I am not unrealistic. Ever since I began losing feeling in my right leg, I've known that my mobility is a fleeting thing. I fought it, tooth and nail. I'm not even sure why, to be honest. But I hated, loathed, despised the idea of a cane. Eventually, though, I gave it a try, and discovered that I could walk further, and longer, with it. So for the past year or so, I've rarely left home without it.

But now it seems that the cane isn't enough for big hauls, like the zoo. Or our planned Disney excursion.

Is it pride? Vanity? I'd like to think that I am not particularly prone to either. But something in my general make-up just cringes at the idea of a wheelchair. I've known it was inevitable for some time...but I always thought "some time" would be years and years from now. I was wrong.

And I know it's only an occassional need, now. Hopefully, it won't be an all-the-time need for years to come. So why am I being such a pain in the ass about this? Isn't that really just making it harder on myself? Why can't I just see it as a reasonable medical need, something that will make my life easier and more enjoyable? Why do I persist upon seeing it as a negative? As an enemy?

Well, nobody's perfect...and I'm willing to bet lots of people have felt the same way I do, when faced with mobility limitations.

Knowing that doesn't make it easier, though. It should...but it doesn't.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oregon Zoo, Part II: The Polar Bear Posted by Hello

Oregon Zoo Trip

Yesterday, I took the kids to the Oregon Zoo, one of our favorite places on Earth. Thought I'd share a couple of photos: one of a randy peahen, and another of an artic polar bear. Enjoy! Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

Remembering Micah

Ten years ago, the world lost a unique soul. His name was Micah Bennett.

It's hard to explain to people who weren't there, who didn't know him, how special Micah was. It was apparent, right from the start. He had an aura about him, that made people want to know him, made people want to be his friend. Loyalty was a foregone conclusion; to betray Micah was unthinkable. It was as if existed to be adored.

And then there was his talent, his gift: music. Micah, to the best of my knowledge, had never had a formal music lesson...and yet, when he put his hands to the keyboard of a piano...it was magic. He could play all day, intent in and content with his music. I can still hear the songs he wrote, and would play for us at the Canal Street Tavern. Sometimes, late at night, I can hear his song "The Rose" in my mind. I can remember the night he debuted it, how I sat at a table in the corner with his brother (my former boyfriend) and his father, eyes closed, enveloped in the sound. I remember the shock, when he would stop playing, of the feeling of reality rushing back in. Listening to Micah play was like being transformed.

There had been, after his death, an almost martyrdom of him right away. To hear some people tell it (and usually, these were people who didn't know him well, or at all), he was faultless. I think it was a way of dealing with the grief, to make him out to be some sort of saint. I think he would have laughed at that! For Micah was, alas, not perfect. He could be very jealous, often stubborn and was an accomplished shoplifter (he even once stole golf clubs, just to prove it could be done). He could be quite controlling, particularly where his brothers (with whom he was very, very close) were concerned. The spotlight was his, and although he was willing to share it...he wasn't willing to be anything but the center. And as I know all too well, when he became angry, he was a force to be reckoned with.

Those things hardly mattered when he was alive, and surely, they matter not at all now.

When I think of him, the warm memories flood back, overwhelming me: sharing a house with him and his cousin one summer...how we would sit up and talk for hours, how open and sincere and unafraid to be himself he could be; how much of a gentleman he was, when I'd been dumped on Valentine's Day at Rocky Horror...in front of the entire world (or at least, that's how it felt at the time); helping comfort and console me when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Micah was always there, unquestionably, for his friends. He may have demanded loyalty...but he gave it back, unabashedly, tenfold over.

But most of all, I remember how Micah was with my son. He came to see me at my home, after I had given birth. He was sick from chemotherapy, weak and shaky, but still he came. I was heartbroken, watching him stroke my sleeping infant's head, the look of pain in his eyes as he came to grips with the fact that he himself would never be a father, never have a chance to have sons he'd name after his brothers as he had planned. I recall how, when he was in the hospital that final time, he'd pulled my son onto his hospital bed and let him play with the controls. He was so happy to have Phoenix near him; it was almost as if Phoenix had become his surrogate son in some small way. I only wish Phoenix could remember him, too.

Micah died of cancer on June 26, 1995. He was only 23. Shortly before he died, he found God, and felt His hand in his life. It is my upmost hope, and belief, that it comforted him at that time when he needed it most.

My friend is gone...but not forgotten. Micah could never be that.

He would never stand for it.


Dear friend...I miss you and hold you close in my heart, always...


I went all the way to Paris to forget your face
Captured in stained glass, young lives long since passed
Statues of lovers every place
I went all across the continent to relieve this restless love
I walked through the ruins, icons of glory
Smashed by the bombs from above

So we must love while these moments are still called today
Take part in the pain of this passion play
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust
Until time makes history of us

Jeu de Paume's full of faces knowing peace, knowing strife
Leisure and toil, still it's canvas and oil
There's just no medium for life
In the midst of the rubble
I felt a sense of rebirth
In a dusty cathedral the living God called
And I prayed for my life here on earth

So we must love while these moments are still called today
Take part in the pain of this passion play
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust
Until time makes history of us

There are mountains in Switzerland, brilliant cold as they stand
From my hotel room, watching the half-moon
Bleeding its light like a lamb
And the town is illumined, its tiny figures are fast asleep
And it dawns on me the time is upon me
To return to the flock I must keep

So we must love while these moments are still called today
Take part in the pain of this passion play
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust
Until time makes history of us

"History of Us"--Indigo Girls

Friday, May 13, 2005

My Family Is a Circus

Yesterday was shaping up to be a good day. We went to the park, had a little dinner, went driving through Mount Tabor Park, had a family board game night (in which both my kids beat Jonathan and I at Sorry!). I took cute photos, and was looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening at home.

And then I made a horrible mistake: I checked my email.

Now, you ZPT fans have heard me bitch and worry about my dad before. We have a VERY rocky relationship, but as of late, I've tried to get along with him because he doesn't have much longer to live. Doctors are now saying maybe a year or two...tops. And that's it. So I have swallowed my tongue and my pride, trying to have some sort of father-daughter relationship with the man.

And damned if he doesn't make it as hard as fucking possible to do.

Last week was my son's 12th birthday. For the second year in a row, my father forgot it entirely. No card, no call, no email. Nothing. This, despite the fact that I emailed him a reminder AND called him two weeks beforehand and told him about it.

I was angry and hurt...but decided to remain civil. I emailed him some photos of the birthday party and waited to see if he'd apologize.

That was four days ago. Yesterday, I finally got a reply:

"Thanks for the birthday pictures. Sorry I forgot Phoenix's birthday. My new wife will send a card. Be nice. Love, Dad."

His. New. Wife.

Yes, ZPT fans, he's done it again. My father has gotten married for the SEVENTH TIME. And for the second time in a row...he has failed to make any mention of any upcoming nuptials to me, his eldest child. This lovely email was the first mention of any wife to me.

Seven years ago, my mother died. Nearly two years later, my dad left my stepmonster (to whom he was married twice for a total of almost 18 years) for a woman he'd met on the Internet. They moved in together, and I had a few emails and phone conversations with her. I told my father that if he was happy, I would support him. I was as kind as I could be to the new woman in his life, and relieved that the stepmonster was gone. Then they got married...and never said one word about it to me.

And before you ask...nope, they didn't run off alone and elope. They took my sister & her husband, my other sister and her boyfriend, my aunt, uncle, nephew and three cousins with them. It had been planned for weeks. No one said anything about it to me...until FOUR WEEKS LATER, AT EASTER.

I was stunned and horrified. I had no idea how to respond. How could any parent do this to a child? Just not tell me at all, as if I didn't matter.

Several months into their marriage, I made a visit to Ohio and met the happy couple. I let them know, in no uncertain terms, how unhappy I was about their failure to inform me of their wedding. I let them both know how much it had hurt me. They apologized...and like the idiot I am, I believed my father was sincere.

Until yesterday, that is.

Dad's marriage to Internet Whore lasted less than a year. She took off...and took nearly $60,000 with her. Lovely woman.

My father was nearly suicidal over this woman and her betrayal. He drank constantly, and would call up his children (me included), upset and depressed.

A few months later, he was dating off the Internet again. The result this time? A woman I'll refer to as "Karen."

Dad was immediately smitten, and moved her and her elderly mother into his home. I was wary about this...after all, he barely knew her. He gave her my email address, and she began emailing me obnoxious little notes about how she wanted to "get to know me" and how much she loved my dad. I asked her a few questions about herself---her full name, where she was from, what she did for a living, had she ever been married. The woman completely flipped out. She refused to answer any of the questions, telling me I was "nosey" and "had a bad attitude."

That is the WRONG thing to say to me. Like a red flag in front of a bull...and like the famous quote in "The Breakfast Club," if you fuck with this bull, you'll get the horns every time. Idiot bitch. And oh, did I mention she was only a few years older than I am?

That relationship lasted a few months, and then poof! No more Karen. All Dad would say is that it "didn't work out." That was two years ago. I have heard rumors within the family that they had gotten married, but I don't know if that is true or not. Dad refused to speak about Karen, and I didn't want to force the issue.

Two weeks ago, my dad emailed me to tell me he was dating a "nice lady." I am assuming that this is the woman he married; but of course, I could be wrong.

There are not words to describe how very upset I am about this. My father is married...and I don't even know the woman's name! To top it all off, he presumably missed his oldest grandson's birthday because he was too wrapped up in this new lady...who is probably just as much of a shitpile as the others were. Well, I guess she couldn't be worse than wife number two...she shot him (stepmonster was wife #3&4).

To add insult to injury, we had just finalized plans to visit my dad in the fall. We're going to Ohio to see my in-laws, and Dad had convinced us to drive down to Florida from Ohio to see him and go to Disney with the kids. Now, Florida is WAY out of our way, but it sounded like fun and we agreed.

There is no way in hell I'm going now.

My kids won't miss out, though...we are going to take a southernly route home, and stop off at the Disney park in California.

In case anyone was interested in my response to the email, here it is:

"You got married AGAIN and didn't tell me and I am SUPPOSED TO BE NICE?

You can all go to hell."

A part of me feels very badly for talking to my dad like this...but I am just fed up. I am tired of him treating me as if I am not really a part of this family. If that's the way he wants it, fine. I'm done. Cut my branch off the family tree. I can't take the weight of it anymore.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day...From a Mother Without One

First off, I want to wish all moms a Happy Mother's Day.

Am I having one, though? Not particularly.

It's not because I'm not a mom---I have three great kids. And it's not because I don't like the holiday itself---I do.

It's because my mother is gone.

My mother and I were very, very close. My mother was a homebody, not unlike my husband in that way. She didn't often go out, but every Mother's Day, we would go out to dinner. Afterwards, we'd go back to her house for dessert and a nice evening just sitting and talking. When I became a mother in 1993, the holiday became doubly special for the two of us. That was the first year she got to buy a Mother's Day card for me...I had just been released from the hospital with my tiny, newborn son. We stayed in that year, in deference to my barely being able to walk (not only had I just given birth for the first time...I was passing kidney stones...ouch!). It was one of the best Mother's Days ever, though. A day to cherish.

In July 1998, my mother lost her battle with breast cancer. She had turned 44 two days prior. Her loss devastated me. She was buried the day before I turned 24.

From that day on---neither my own birthday, nor Mother's Day, have been completely happy days for me. "Bittersweet" is probably the best term for it...I am happy to be a mother, happy to be alive...but underlying that is the feeling of loss that my mother is no longer there to share these special days with me.

To compound this is the fact that I live so far away, that I cannot go to the cemetary to lay flowers down for Mother's Day. Having someone else do it for me is just not the same to me. Two years ago, I was in town for Mother's Day, and was glad I could make the trip. Although I cried...it somehow made me feel better. I could still give my mother flowers for Mother's Day.

So, here's to all the moms out there who, like me, celebrate this holiday with tears and with joy. It's a day to not only remember our own roles as mothers, and the great happiness that role has brought to our lives...but to remember those past Mother's Days spent with the women whom we were privileged to call "Mom." May we never forget those holidays, and strive to keep those memories alive...for our mothers, our children...and ourselves.

Happy Mother's Day.


Kind & Generous

You've been so kind and generous
I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness, I'm in debt to you
For your selflessness, my admiration
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound
I'm bound to thank you for it

You've been so kind and generous
I don't know how you keep on giving
For your kindness, I'm in debt to you
And I never could have come, this far without you
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound
I'm bound to thank you for it

Oh, I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave
The love, the tenderness, I wanna thank you
I want to thank you for your generosity, the love
And the honesty that you gave me
I want to thank you show my gratitude
My love, and my respect for you, I want to thank you

Oh, I want to thank you, thank you; thank you, thank you
I want to thank you, thank you; thank you, thank you


---Natalie Merchant

Saturday, May 07, 2005

When Nutbags Attack: Nutbag Douses Infant with Pepper Spray

PONDERAY, Idaho (May 5) - A woman doused a 2-month-old girl with pepper spray while feuding with the infant's family in a Wal-Mart, police said.

Lorlie M. Gantenbein, 36, of Sagle, was charged Tuesday with felony injury to a child. She was released on $5,000 bail.

The 2-month-old girl was recovering at home after being sprayed Monday, police Chief Mike Hutter said. The infant was treated at a hospital.

Gantenbein in a telephone interview on Wednesday denied using the pepper spray. She said her 16-year-old daughter used the spray, but did so in self-defense.

Gantenbein said she bought the spray for her daughter as tensions rose between the two families after the Gantenbeins rented property to the baby's family and then evicted them. The feud escalated when her daughter began dating the baby's father, she added.

According to police, Gantenbein's daughter sprayed the infant's grandmother and aunt, one of whom was holding the child. Gantenbein then took the canister and sprayed the baby, authorities said. The juvenile was cited with two counts of battery.

In the phone interview, Gantenbein said the baby's aunt grabbed her daughter by the arm, prompting the daughter to use the pepper spray. When the grandmother reached toward Gantenbein's daughter, the girl sprayed her too, Gantenbein said.

"The grandmother ran through the fog with the baby," she said. "It didn't get hit in the face."

However, the baby's mother, Christina Clayburn, told Spokane, Wash.'s KHQ-TV that Gantenbein "was yelling, 'Get the baby! Get the baby!' ... Then she took the Mace out of her daughter's hand and sprayed it directly into my daughter's face."

Gantenbein's daughter was cited for two counts of misdemeanor battery, Hutter said.

"We're taking statements from both sides and evaluating it from there," he said.


Anyone else here someone holler "Yee Haw!" when reading this?!?!?!?

And naturally, this modern day Hatfield-and-McCoy baby daddy drama took place in that bastian of human decrepitude...Wal-Mart. They must be so proud.

I think the worst part of it was when the mom tried to blame her 16-year-old for the pepper-spraying of an infant...and then had the brass cohones to claim it was in self-defense.

Stupidity like this should hurt...badly. It really should. What kind of fucked up individual pepper sprays A BABY? She should spend a good long time in jail...with large, angry women who've been seperated from their own babies and would love to beat the tar out of some snot-nosed, selfish, sadistic little baby-attacking waste of space. And if that baby's father continues to date the 16-year-old after this...he should be strung up by his short hairs and doused with pepper spray until he either explodes or jolts a few brain cells into activity at long last. Whichever happens first.

:::shaking my head:::

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Feeling Old

I officially feel old.

First, I go to get a hearing exam on Wednesday. Now, I have always been partially deaf in my right ear...but the last few years, my husband has noticed the volume on the tv and stereo going up...and up...and up. So after much bitching on his part and procrastination on mine, I went to the audiologist.

It turns out, I am nearly deaf in that ear. So I was fitted for a hearing aid.

Like I said...I feel old.

Yesterday was my son's 12th birthday. TWELVE. How could that be possible? Didn't I just bring him home from the hospital a few years ago? How could he possibly be almost a teenager?

Wow. Almost a teenager. Now I definately feel old.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Quiz #37: What Movie Do You Belong In?

Hmm...


MY RESULTS:



Nightmare Before Christmas!


What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla