Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Quick note

My friend D. is doing okay. Her pictures showed something weird, but in follow up, it was just fine. She's feeling more confident and is as relaxed as ever.

Today must be a day to reflect. I sat down and read yesteday's Seattle PI, the Life and Arts section, while I ate lunch. There was an interview of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote the book Running with Scissors. He's on the road promoting his new book, Possible Side Effects, a collection of personal essays.

Running with Scissors was the other influencing factor for writing a class paper on the effect of using humor to overcome abuse. I read Burroughs book in three hours. I gobbled it up. It was one of the most difficult, ironic and dark books I've ever read, and it's something I ponder at the oddest moments. I haven't had to live through anything proximal to his experiences. Any challenges I've faced are a spring day in the park. Even if there is only a kernel of truth to his work (there's been debate about this, but he maintains his work is authentic and factual), around which he spun his personal tale, he deserves a pat on the back for making it to adulthood and being a functional person.

As you read Running with Scissors, there are times you can't help but laugh. And if you're like me, you feel bad for laughing-- the painful experiences Burroughs went through aren't jokes. But the humor-- that carried him through, I think. Some things are so weird, so incredibly painful you just have to laugh, or you'll implode. He chose to laugh.

Art on the public tab

Seattle's propping up her aging facial features with several projects. The latest one is detailed here. I agree that the 10 acre corridor from Green Lake to Ravenna is ugly. Most everywhere in Seattle where I-5, or any freeway, span the city, it's a pit. But, is it worthy of a $300,000 facelift, courtesy of King County citizens? King Country Metro Transit is footing the bill for this project, which means it's being fleeced from John Q.'s pocket.

The Seattle PI article is ambiguous. Is the $300,000 for the whole project, which should spruce up the whole 10 acres, or for the first project, one block in length, which is what's described in detail in the article? I guess it is a rhetorical question, since I don't think any art project should be financed by taxation.

Imagine how cool this area could be if people who live there took the initiative to fix it up, and the nannies in Seattle didn't poke their noses into the project for once. Seattle isn't hurting for an artistic community. Seattle Tilth, or any of the other gardening associations through out the Puget Sound, could lend a hand.

It's interesting that no one's chatting up the under I-5 corridor near Safeco and Qwest Field for improvement. People live under that corridor, in ancient RVs and in the back of pickup trucks. If anyone needs some beauty in their lives, it's the folks that call this chunk of concrete home.

In the article, Barbara Luecke, project coordinator for 4Culture's public art program, stated."It's a divide and a barrier, and people want a connection." I'm sure that the same can be said for the people hunkered under I-5, because they don't have any place else to call home. How come she isn't clamoring for public funds to make this part of Seattle pretty again? Hhmmm.

My friend D.

I saw my friend D. yesterday. We've been trying to arrange going on a hike together, but our schedules have been conflicting so it hasn't materialized. While we chatted about our schedules, she casually mentioned she went to the doctor for a physical and a mammogram-- and that she had to go back for a second mammogram. She didn't know why; the radiologist didn't tell her the reason for the return visit.

D. smoothed right over the subject. It entered our conversation, and then she tried to let it slip quietly away. I asked when she'd know her results from the second mammogram. She said her doctor was supposed to get the results yesterday afternoon, and that she'd call this morning to get the whole story. The biggest nod she gave to her concern was, "I'm making plans here; I don't have time for this."

This woman amazes me. She's my mentor. No matter how tough life is around her, she's got a smile on her face and an upbeat attitude. She hasn't always been this way, either. Becoming the woman she is today has been a process, a conscious choice on her part. A year ago, she and I started to get to know each other better, and I realized we had quite a bit in common. We've lived through some of the same situations. We've had to make some of the same difficult decisions. I was participating in a writing program at the time, and I decided to write a personal narrative on using humor to overcome abuse. I asked her if she'd let me interview her, and she graciously complied with my request. Our interview, over two hours in length, awed and inspired me.

I know D. must be quaking on the inside over this mammogram deal. I've been there myself, three years ago. When I was 35, I went in to have a baseline mammogram. Back then, I even debated whether to actually do it-- there's conflicting medical opinion about the pros and cons of exposing yourself to the radiation of the mammogram, versus the benefits of possible early detection of breast cancer. I gave myself a kick in the ass, and went in for the appointment.

The radiologist found something. Breast cancer is this funky, star-shaped doodad when viewed in a mammogram. There's also something called a radial scar, which is a benign growth-- however, it looks just like breast cancer on a mammogram. So, I got the talk. "It's probably a radial scar. You are quite young for breast cancer. However, we need to find out what it is, and the sooner, the better." See, that's what's puzzling me; when my radiologist found something, he talked to me right away. I'm taking hope in this-- that the cavalier attitude D.'s medical team is taking is due to a mistake in the film, maybe bad pictures.

I was a mess during the whole process, from the first talk my radiologist had with me until 3 days after I went through surgery. I had to go in for a core biopsy, and for breast tissue the procedure is both freaky and humiliating. You have to lay on your stomach on a table and, I shit you not, stick your breast through a hole in the table. The doctor isolates it and then numbs the area that will be biopsied. Wires are inserted into the locations the doctor wants to take samples from, and then this little punch tool is used to punch out tissue samples. Then, a metal marker is inserted, so your surgeon can find the location of the area to be removed. And even though you've been through all this stuff, you have to have another mammogram before you leave the office, to verify the marker is visible and in the right location.

Why the marker? Well, you're going to have surgery either way, because if you leave in a radial scar, chances are that the breast will develop cancer at a later date. What the biospy tells your doctor is if there's any preliminary signs of cancer. No cancer in the biospy means less tissue will be removed during surgery. And even after you have the surgery, you have to wait for the growth's core to be biopsied, to be 100% sure no cancer was in it.

I understand what D. means when she said she'd got plans and doesn't have time for this. Going through the weeks of procedure, wait, procedure, wait; it takes a bite out of your life. Tee is a year older than her youngest child. She's enjoying life; she's built , from the ground up, a successful career in the last few years. Her husband and she have started to travel a bit. One of her kids is close to entering college.

I'm hoping that everything is fine, that D.'s pictures were just bad, so they needed to be retaken. She deserves to enjoy life; after what she's been through, can't she have a few years off?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tasering-- it's not just for humans

A black bear was tasered by Seattle police on Saturday, May 20th. According to the Seattle PI article, the two doses of tranquilizer darts and the two bouts of Tasering by local police officers was too much for the bear. The "150 to 175 pound" animal was approximately three years old and died soon after the second Taser blast/tranquilizer dart combo. Tasering is a non-lethal weapon. Yeah, right.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Wired News coverage of AT&T's involvement with NSA

Thunder, over at TCF, posted a link to a Wired News article on AT&T and NSA wiretapping.

Here's the article Thunder posted a link to. It explains why Wired News posted the information it has about the papers sealed by the courts, at AT&T's request, which concern AT&T's connection to the NSA wiretapping operation.

Wired News also has an article on Mark Klein, former AT&T technician and whistle-blower. They also posted evidence and statements from Klein here.

Spend some time reading these articles and checking out their links.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Garden Huzzah

I ~finally~ got my veggie garden in. I'm probably one of the last people in the world to get'r done. I'm even later than my 82 year old father-- he put in his garden last weekend.

I should be more specific with my description; I ~finally~ put in my annual veggie garden. I have herbs and berries that are perenniel, which have been laid in for a bit.

I planted sugar peas, beans of various colors, zukes, cukes, squash, pumpkins (although technically they sprouted in my compost, from last year's jack o'lanterns), carrots, green, yellow and red bell peppers, tomatoes, dill, nasturtiums, basil and cilantro.

I also finished planting the petunias and marigolds Lew bought me. Yay!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

AIC review (sort of)

Gene Stout, the Seattle PI "POP MUSIC CRITIC," was kind enough to write up a review on last night's AIC show. You can read it here. While I don't consider Alice in Chains "pop music" per say, this concert was pretty big news on the local music scene, which has been kind of stagnant of late. Stout is the senior music guy at the PI, so it figures they'd pull out the bigshots for this concert.

Actually, I'm glad that the paper had a review. Lew didn't get home until sometime past midnight, and our conversation went about like this:
LL: drool (I was asleep)
L: That was about the best concert I ever saw.
LL: Did you have fun?
L: Did I have fun? Many more comments I didn't quite catch due to my semi-sleep state
LL: That's nice
L: And they had Ann Wilson on for a song; and Duff McKagan (Guns 'N Roses, Velvet Revolver); and Kim Thayil...
LL: Who's Kim Thayil
L: (formerly of Soundgarden); and Chris DeGarmo (Queensryche)...
LL: ...Is he the guy with a pirate fetish and black eye liner we saw at the OffRamp (note: it is actually called something else, but was the OffRamp for years)?
L: No, that was Geoff Tate. Good night (as he started to fall into a sleep state).
LL: (Eyes wide open) Hey, wait a minute, now I'm awake.
L: grrurgghhh... audible breathing

There is also a photo gallery, link on the front page of the PI wesite. It's on the right side of the webpage.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A night of singing

Rosie and I went to see Little Kay sing his heart out. He was adorable, from the top of his shiny, brown hair, to his snazzy blue Hawaiian shirt, to the tips of his trusty tenny-runners. The theme of his concert was farm animals, so we got to hear such esteemed barnyard favorites like Farmer in the Dell and B-I-N-G-O (he got to play a maraca for this song).

Oh, I have to tell you about the little girl that played the cheese in the Farmer in the Dell. She was a pig-tailed cutie wearing the most beautiful Chinese silk dress. When I was a kid, I'd always feel bad for the cheese, but this sweetheart was so excited to be on stage, beaming a smile with a front tooth missing. You couldn't help but return the favor and grin, wishing you could once again be the cheese for just a moment.

I had a musical double treat this evening. While I was in the bathroom, trying to run a comb through my freshly shampooed hair, Rosie was trying to bug Tee in the kitchen. She started singing this song from The Little Mermaid-- the one Ariel sings in her treasure lair. Rather than be bugged by it (as he normally would), he joined Rosie in song, singing the parts he could remember. His voice is so deep now, it was pretty cute to hear their duet. Rosie would try and sing as high as she could comfortably, to contrast with his deep tenor voice. These rare moments are the things I store up in the ol'e memory bank. It was so cool to hear.

Mandatory Screening

The CDC is pushing for routine AIDS testing with physicals. The recommendations are projected to be released by the CDC this summer, and would effect Americans age 13-64. I can understand the concern-- if you look at the most recent statistics(from 2003) for the top ten causes of death for Americans, HIV is listed as 10th for 15-24 y.o.; 6th for 25-34 y.o.; 5th for 35-45 y.o.; and 8th for 45-55 y.o. I'm not quite sure why the projected recommendations are spread out to cover such a wide range of ages, since HIV doesn't appear on the spectrum for the under 15 and over 55 crowd.

What concerns me is that once recommendations are in place, then people aren't well informed that they don't have to submit to the testing. Standard consent forms don't spell out well that you don't have to comply with any testing. We've all been there at the doctor's, with a form shoved in your general direction, so you can sign it--the nurse or receptionist gets impatient if you actually start to read the form. Or worse, they'll discourage you from reading it before you sign it.

Offering AIDS testing more routinely, and including it in insurance coverage, should be encouraged by the medical field. However, running everyone through the exact same battery of tests, just because, subjects people to unnecessary procedures and further inflates the cost of medical care.

The medical field has been a for-profit, factory mentality industry for years. It's rare for patients and doctors to have a personable relationship, where the doctor knows you by name. Profit demands pit-stop exams and 30 second Q&A time during the alloted visit perimeter. A fortress of office workers, nurse's aids, nurses and lab workers further buffer patients from their physicians. And then you add in the dreaded paperwork and HIPPA red tape, and you have system failure. Patients who should seek testing fall through the cracks sometimes, so then sweeping measures to catch them, foisted on the general public, are called for.

In another medical field newstory, Group Health conducted a study on domestic violence. They surveyed 3500 women patients who've been Group Health patients for over three years and found that approximately 44% of them admitted to being in an abusive at some point in their lifetime. Based on this study, the authors of the research report are urging that doctors look for signs of domestic abuse during routine patient visits. The studies are published in the May edition of American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Again, I have trouble with mandatory screening. Note that the 44% of the surveyed women stated they had been in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives. Not necessarily at that moment, at that visit. Having information readily available in the office, and a doctor/patient relationship foundation built on trust and actually knowing each other would benefit anyone in an abusive relationship. Putting each woman who crosses the threshold in the "abused" category and cross-examining each as such, makes me not want to go to the doctor. It's difficult enough to make yourself go and be poked and prodded. The thought of an underqualified stranger crawling through my potentially bruised psyche creeps me out.

Also, it bothers me that the prevalent opinion is that women are the only people in abusive relationships. Men can be victims of an abusive relationship as well. They're probably even more reluctant to seek out help in such circumstances. Why would they discuss their problems with their flavor of the week doctor in the allotted 30 seconds of banter?

Does anyone out there have a personal relationship with their doctor? Does the physican know your name without consulting your chart? Do they remember one major ailment you sought care for? I'm wondering if such a relationship is just rare, or extinct. In my opinion, this is the missing ingredient of competent medical care. Doctors can't make a decent wage by conducting their practices on the foundations of trust, friendliness and knowledge. They're drummed out of business by double pronged intrusion--the insurance monopoly and federal rules, recommendations and red tape.

Dilbert meets Wayne's World

I got a huge kick out of yesterday's Dilbert. Enjoy!

AIC at the Moore-- free "kick off" concert

I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from a breathless caller. He spit out the words so fast, it was hard to understand what he was saying. After a few seconds of confusion, I realized the caller was Lew. He and Zander were heading to Seattle to try and snag tickets to the free Alice and Chains show at the Moore.

They were successful; each of them got two tickets. The doors open at 6pm, and I'm already obligated to take Deadhead Girl's little one to his school concert tonight. She's at this work dealie all day, and she may not make it home before little Kay needs to head out. So, I'll not be going this evening.

I'll have Lew tell me every juicy detail and post a review tomorrow.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Saying Bye-Bye to Third Party Animals

Mark, over at South Puget Sound Libertarian, posted that current phone etiquette isn't adequate any longer. That is, since all the business with the NSA skimming the datapools of phone companies, like ATT, Verizon and and BellSouth.

He suggests that "goodbye" is no longer enough to end a phone conversation in today's age of surveillance. He offers several workable alternatives to the congenial "goodbye," so as to acknowledge the presense of the third (or forth or fifth) party hanging onto every word you use to describe Aunt Bertie's operation or how your day at work faired.

I'm going to give this a try.

FYG---and have a pleasant tomorrow? How does that sound? Hmmm.... that does have an interesting and hopeful ring to it.

Pulling ReNu with MoistureLoc from shelves

Bausch & Lomb pulled their ReNu with MoistureLoc off the shelves. There's been a possible link between Fusarium keratitis, a fungus of the eye, and use of this contact solution.

Tee got contacts about 8 months ago. The optometrist gave him several samples of ReNu with MoistureLoc to try out. In December, he came down with a case of pink eye. He didn't wear contacts for about 3 weeks after he developed pink eye.

We treated it immediately, tossed out his contacts and sterilized his case. I'm very thankful that he didn't develop anything worse. As soon as news reports about the possible link showed up about a month ago, we threw away the rest of our bottles with MoistureLoc and changed out his contacts for a new pair, just in case. Pink eye is bad enough. I'd hate to have him develop something as painful as Fusarium keratitis. If you wear contacts, please check what kind of solution you're using and get rid of any Renu with MoistureLoc.

The boot on your neck

I recommend reading this Seattle PI special report, Conduct Unbecoming Taxpayers Foot the Bill in small doses. I just started reading it, and I'm angry. I'm angry that these people were kept in their leo jobs and their transgressions were conveniently swept under the rug with "slap on the wrist" reprimands. I'm livid that these officers have been allowed to continue to harass and endanger people because of their falsely elevated stature in the community.

This isn't new, of course. We've seen it in other parts of the country. Look at the tragic events effecting Cory Maye, Salvatore Culosi and Lester Eugene Siler, among 100s of others (link and link); letting alleged police misconduct go uninvestigated, or underinvestigated, is a regular practice. No-knock raids, police brutality, raid deaths and potentially innocent people sentenced to death will continue to happen until the real criminals, these renegade officers, are made accountable for their crimes. I should rephrase that-- renegade is to good of a word to describe these types of folks--individuals that see themselves as the law and above the law at the same time. Hypocrites. The fact we're also shelling out copious amounts of money for their "service to the community" is a whole shaker of salt abrasively rubbed into the public's wound.

Another PI special report Conduct Unbecoming Citizens Take the Heat details several local cases of alleged retaliation against citizens who reported police misconduct. Three of the cases investigated involve the same deputy sheriff. Does this make you mad? I am upset and immersed in a huge sea of powerlessness. It's not right that these people continue to get the green light to make other people's-- people who had the audacity to say no to them--lives hell.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A lipstick rant

Okay, I just came back from a business meeting. I've met three times with this same group-- nice, friendly folks. I've joined their group to network our business--- this is after going to other groups, doing online research, talking to people I know and trust. I'm happy to be at the meeting; excited even.

This is a teeny, tiny rant, so please excuse me while I whine. Several of the women in the group groom at the table, during the meeting. This is lunch meeting-- we're eating. The most common grooming is group lip-stick application. When one reaches into her purse to fetch a tube and compact, the rest of the groomers follow like lemmings. Is it just me, or is that just too gross?

Ask Gospazha-- I'm not a horrible bug-in-your-butt kind of person. I'm also not a fashionista, so maybe this is a fashion deal and I just don't get it. Or is it like when birds fluff their feathers?

I wear lipstick, but the thought of grooming at a luncheon table is repulsive to me. If you made it to the end of my rant-- thank you. If you know why this behavior occurs, please enlighten me.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Seattle's Mayor: "We have such lax gun laws..."

I spied a huge vinyl graphic prominently displayed in the back window of a truck canopy. It stated, "Christine Gregoire is King County's governor." For those who don't live in Washington state, the gubernatorial race between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi was the closest one in state history. Besides the alleged misconduct in the race, the divide between King County,the largest county in the state (and the one all-mighty, do-gooder Seattle resides in), and the rest of the counties grew to the epic proportions of the Grand Canyon.

This insightful truck graphic made me think of Seattle's mayor, Greg Nickels, who's out to prove once again that Washington state is here to serve the whining snivels of the nannyism of Seattle. He's calling for widesweeping gun legislation that will clamp down on legal and responsible gun owners. This legislation, if voted into place, will effect the whole state. Nickels says that due to state laws "Seattle's hands are tied," in preventing crimes that involve gun violence. He's challenging state legislators to inact four extensive measures to keep firearms out of reach of criminals. Take a look at them, and see if you come to the same conclusion I did.

  • Adopt a state ban on assault weapons. A federal ban on the manufacture or importation of certain weapons expired in 2004. Seven states have since passed their own bans.
  • Close a loophole that allows firearms purchases at gun shows without a background check, something required for purchases at gun stores and other retail outlets.
  • Pass a state law requiring safe gun storage, such as requiring trigger locks.
  • Establish a statewide database of gun-trace data -- information collected by police investigators when researching the history of guns used in crimes. Seattle already collects such data.

  • What do you think about Nickel's mandates? I'm of the opinion that these demands, if approved by the folks in Olympia, will only empower the criminals out there that already don't give a rat's ass about responsibility, integrity and safety. Johnny Q, who's concerned about the safety of his family, and Janey Public, who's an avid hunter and sports shooter, will be the only ones who are caught up in Seattle's web of nannyism.

    Check out this guest editorial published in the Seattle PI yesterday. While I don't agree with every point Mr. Workman made, his editorial is poignant. Nickels has another agenda and is preying on the terrible misfortune of those who died at the hand of Kyle Huff. Nickels proves, once again, that he's just another sleazeball politician that has the audacity to think he knows what's right for the whole state because he's got a "nanny-nanny boo-boo do-gooder" card in his wallet and he knows the secret handshake.

    If this crappola makes it through the state legislature, your opinion, Anonymous Truck Guy, will be proven infallible. I hope that the folks in Olympia will grow some kahunas and remember that they represent the citizens of Washington state; they're not in Olympia to fill the positions of Christine Gregoire's and Greg Nickel's lackeys. There's plenty of those bitches around who do that now, for free.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Music Meme-- Would you like to play?

    When I work down at the shop, I think about music. It gets pretty noisy down there, so we usually don't have the radio on. We can't hear it well anyway. Or, the guy we share a space with has it on a country station, and I'm trying to block it out (sorry country folks-- not my genre).

    While I was doing some monotonous stuff today, I thought about music and came up with a sort of meme. Sometimes I really like a bit of monotony because it gives my brain a chance to rest and meander a bit.

    So, back to meme. I thought some other folks might like the meme I came up with. It isn't earth shattering; it's just about the music I enjoy. If you'd like to play along, copy and paste the meme to your blog, or even on the comments page, to share your choices. If you put it on your blog, would you mind sharing a link to it in the comments, so I can participate in the fun and read your answers?

    Music Meme
    * What 3 sad songs make you feel happy anyway? 1. Meet Virginia by Train 2. Santa Monica by Everclear 3. Date Rape by Sublime
    *What is the silliest song you enjoy? 99 Dead Baboons by Tim Cavanagh
    *What song are you almost embarrassed to admit you like? Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg
    * Who put on the top three concerts you've ever seen? 1. Nina Hagen/X (she opened for X) 2. George Thorogood 3. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
    What is the weirdest album you've ever owned? Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
    What song gets your blood racing? Any ska song with a robust trombone section.
    *If you have a favorite band from your region, who are they? Presidents of the United States of America
    Name one song from the year you were born that you like: Hey Jude by the Beatles
    *Name one song your whole family enjoys: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen
    *Name one song that reminds you of a good friend: Stand and Deliver by Adam and the Ants

    I call horsesh*t here

    Take a gander at this article on a Knox College study on guns and aggression in men.

    So, if leos worked harder at taking apart Mousetrap than handling guns, then they'd shy away from spicy food AND taser diabetic women less?

    Does this mean that the most aggressive men on earth live in Thailand, since Thai food is reputed to be some of the spiciest food in the world? Liking spicy food means you are an aggressive person? Yeah, right.

    I call horsesh*t on Knox College and their aggression study.

    Freedom Food

    I'm going to have to check out the latest issue of Mother Jones magazine. Both Kirsten and Lightning blogged about Michael Pollan's lead feature No Bar Code.

    Is it true that he who controls the food controls the people? Me thinks the fedbeast embraces this line of thought, with the goosestepping plans of NAIS, which will do its best to shut down the local farmer who raises animals. People are recognizing the inherent problems with commercial farms and their practices. They are seeking out chicken not prepackaged in fecal tainted liquid. They're wanting to eat beef from grainfed cows who are three years or younger. NAIS will penalize the small farmer and do little to reign in hazardous farming practices utilized by commercial farms. If NAIS gets entrenched in America, we won't have many choices about where we can purchase meat, eggs and dairy.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    A freedom vanguard

    Before June 2005, I hadn't read anything by Sunni Maravillosa. My first exposure to her work was at Real ID Rebellion. Next, I checked out Sunni and the Conspirators.

    I wandered over to Sunni's Salon, after reading about it at Kirsten's Enjoy Every Sandwich. That's what originally hooked me on her writing. Anyone who includes both Alice in Chains and Henry Mancini in the same music article--they're called Musical Maunderings in the Salon-- is a kind of kindred spirit. Her personal soundtrack isn't tailor made by mainstream media and sold, shrink wrapped, at WalMart. Neither is mine.

    After reading a bunch of her work, I find Sunni's personal writing to be her best. It's not that her observations and understanding of current events aren't top-notch; it's some of the most informative on the web. She's a freedom vanguard. It's just that when Sunni gets personal, she lifts up her shades for a moment and lets you gaze into her eyes. The peep doesn't last long, but satiates like an ice-cold beer after a long day.

    Her Friday, May 5th, entry, Learning to Make Decisions, is an example of what I'm talking about. This particular entry hit a chord with me. I understand what she's talking about. In this age of helicopter parenting and boomerang kids, it's very easy--almost standard-- to come inbetween your children and decision making. It's even easier to keep our kids insulated from facing what they've reaped. I've had to labor intensively at being a loving mom and one who allows her children to learn from their mistakes. Because it takes less effort to do it for my kids than to instruct them and then cut them loose, I have to be vigilant.

    It's even harder to give them the green light to find out the answer on their own, solo. What if it isn't the right answer? That's what makes standing back so difficult. I must admit what I deem correct might not be the best answer for my kids. Also, if I don't give them the opportunity to scuff up their knees a bit, from falling down, how flabby will their characters be? If I'm going to live by the creed of freedom, that means giving everyone, even my kids, the same room to make their own decisions.

    When I was growing up, my family was an odd combination of fending for yourself and forced dependence. For example, my dad didn't believe girls could do some things. I vividly remember what happened when I asked for some instruction on carving, because I wanted to make a totem pole for a school project. My dad took the wood, carved out the totem pole (while I watched, of course), painted it and even displayed it for years in the front flower bed, under the kitchen window. He'd beam when people inquired about it, but always answered that it was something I made "with some help." I'd feel ashamed, because it was a lie. I didn't do a damned thing but watch the production.

    My mother taught my sister how to sew, and she taught me how to cook. It fit Mom's needs at each era of her life, as my sister is fifteen years older than me. My sister made most of my clothes when I was a toddler. When I was old enough to help out around the house, I hated yard work. We had a huge garden out back, and it was all sluggy 'n buggy. It totally grossed me out. We worked out a deal; Mom tended the garden and I fixed dinner. She gave me rudimentary instruction, then set me out on my own, to explore how to actually coordinate a meal.

    I think part of the reason why Mom didn't instruct much was due to her low threshold of patience. Sometimes it would backfire on her, however, because I wouldn't understand her expectations and rather than show me what she meant, she'd ream me out. I admit I can be a slob, and at the time a wrinkled shirt didn't bother me (and it still doesn't give me too much grief). It did hurt when Mom screamed at me, "How have I failed you as a mother?" when I didn't line up the shoulder seams of Dad's dress shirts with the hanger and ugly creases formed.

    If I hadn't grown up the environment I did, I wouldn't be the parent, or the person, I am now. I love my folks, and I forgive them of their transgressions. I know they love me and they're proud of the way I turned out. If I didn't have the opportunity to see Mom and Dad make mistakes on occasion, how would I be able to form the philosophy I've embraced today? By being at the other end of hurtful words, I've been given the gift of understanding the power words wield. How else would I have been able to gird my character? Working to overcome my fear of failure has given me a lifetime of emotional strength.

    I hope my kids will appreciate the ways I've stepped back and let them take the lead in their lives, sometimes with minimal steering from me. It's been a conscious choice on my part, due to my upbringing. And the times I've been too clingy, too worried and too fearful for them, I sincerely hope they'll understand that it's part of the burden of my existance and that I've worked ever so diligently to leave it behind. In the end, it's my desire that my kids extend me the same slack I've extended to my folks, because I've made plenty of mistakes along the way. We'll have to wait and see if they're willing to be so generous.

    Without Sunni's ability to share a piece of herself with her readers, I might not have taken the time to think about decisions and how I've approached this process myself. That's the mark of a provocative writer; she'll inspire you to look inward, to puzzle things out.

    I'm probably preaching to the choir here. I'm sure that most of my readers are well acquainted with Sunni's work. If there are some of you that aren't, I encourage you to mosey on over to the Salon and have a look around. Read her essay, Where are the Sons of Boromir? This work is a classic example of the flipping of her shades onto top of her head, to stare straight at you for a few moments.

    G.K. Chesterton wrote, "There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect." After spending time reading Sunni's work, I don't quite agree with his statement. There can be a road that starts at the eye, meanders through intellect and ends up at the heart. We just have to look for it. And she does just that, each time she picks up her pen and shares a bit about herself.

    The Gulcher's Life

    I'm adding a blog to my blogroll. The Gulcher's Life is written by Lightning,TCF's own bit of sunshine. In this blog, she examines gulching and how to incorporate it into your life, if the concept intrigues you.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    Another lawsuit due to police taser abuse

    A woman in the Seattle area filed a lawsuit on Friday against the Redmond,WA police force because of their use of extreme force and a taser. When she was harrased by the police, she was suffering physical problems, due to her diabetes and the low sugar level she was experiencing.

    The episode occured on July 10, 2005. When the police arrived at the scene of the rear-end accident she was involved in, the woman was unresponsive. The Seattle PI article says that the police broke the passenger window of her car and tasered her because she didn't "obey their commands..."

    The article goes on to state that even after she was tasered, the woman was still unresponsive, other than some vocalization. One of the taser prongs lodged in her stomach, near her transplated kidney. Also, it's stated that when firefighters arrived on the scene, they knew immediately she was suffering from some sort of diabetic episode. The police administered a breath test on the scene, confirming the woman was not drunk.

    Additional comment: Don't police officers receive any training on medical symptoms at all? As first responders, they should receive some training, wouldn't you think? When someone is unresponsive, this might give the officers a clue that there could possibly be something medically wrong with the woman. I hope that this case has a different outcome than the ones which precede it, but I'm not optimistic.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    It's Alive!

    Yesterday, I dug into my compost bin, to remove the first annual batch of lewlew's green garden gourmet compost. Rock on, it was a rich, dark brown. It had humongous earthworms crawling around in it (how they got in there is a mystery; the bin has a plastic bottom). It smelled good-- this earthy, organic good. I spread a thin layer over my veggie garden plot, and I'll be adding more when I add more topsoil to the plot.

    Stop here-- I didn't mention that I finished the wall, did I? If you scroll down to the bottom of the blog, my April 17th entry "I want to be successful at feeding my family without dependance on stores" (my permalink is hidden right now-- I don't know why) details the brick purchase Lew made for me. I built the wall, and Lew helped me curve the wall into the hillside, add landscaping fabric to the backside of the wall, and fill and flatten the dirt. We're almost ready to plant-- yay.

    So, my composting attempt worked. This is the first time I've made compost before, and the process is amazing. How old coffee grounds, tea bags, wood chips, vegetable peelings and cardboard (toilet paper tubes and egg cartons were the major source) turns into nutritious soil is such a cool, incredible blessing.

    I also spread some around my southern flower bed, digging it into the first few inches of dirt. I tried to keep it from being right up next to the plant, to keep it from burning it. I'll post how things go.

    "Spying, Secrecy and Presidential Power" forum in Seattle

    If anyone's interested, John Dean (former White House Council from the Watergate era) is the head speaker at a forum in Seattle tomorrow night. It's called "Spying, Secrecy and Presidential Power," and you can read about it here. It's being held at Town Hall Seattle at 7:00pm. Dean will speak along with Lisa Graves, from the ACLU.