The ’25 things’ list

I’m clearing out everything I’ve put in Facebook because I plan to close my account there. I’m not sure when, probably not for another few months. I don’t actually want to get rid of everything, so I’m putting it here. I posted this in my Facebook notes on January 29, 2009…

I’ve been tagged with this three times in two days, so I guess I’ll give it a shot.

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

  1. I’m a huge geek
  2. My dad taught me binary when I was five.
  3. When I was five I would sit for HOURS typing in zeros and ones in order to get a program to work on a machine that only had RAM (no hard drive). If I made a mistake, I had to start all over again.
  4. I have almost nothing in common with my mother.
  5. There were four blissful years where my mother didn’t even know where I lived.
  6. If there had been a creative spelling class in high school, I would have aced it in ways no one else could. Spell-check is like a godsend for me.
  7. I wish I had been related to George Carlin.
  8. I’m an only child.
  9. I wish I had siblings.
  10. I love to clean, but this doesn’t mean I judge people who don’t keep their house tidy. Like most people, I’m more comfortable in a healthy clean as opposed to a sterile clean environment.
  11. My grandpa taught me how to play cribbage.
  12. I double skunked my grandpa at age seven. He said, “Damn it I taught you too well.” He was not one to let someone win, just because.
  13. I was born and raised in Alaska and I miss it there, but I know it’s because I miss the nostalgic childhood stuff about it not because I want to live where winter weather is twenty below zero without wind-chill.
  14. I’m a frickin’ lizard, I don’t do well in cold climates.
  15. I was always in the lowest level reading classes in school.
  16. I have a very hard time getting ‘into’ a book.
  17. I didn’t discover the joy of reading until I was 16-ish when I discovered true crime books, specifically serial killer books.
  18. I would have discovered serial killer books when I was ten but the librarian who was also a nun nearly shit herself when I asked for a book about Jack the Ripper. She said they didn’t have any. I’m pretty sure she lied. Bitch.
  19. I sneer when I hear stupid shit.
  20. I sneer A LOT.
  21. I can’t lie. I can withhold truth, but cannot actually lie. So I haven’t bothered trying since I was a kid (about 14).
  22. I don’t dream very often, maybe once a year.
  23. I dwell on things A LOT.
  24. I have a very good memory especially for things I hear.
  25. I ace lecture classes, unless the teacher is a total ass hat and doesn’t test on the lectures.
  26. I curse A LOT.
  27. I don’t follow rules that I think are stupid hence, I’m on number 27 and won’t be sending this to 25 people. Deal with it. That’s right, I’m a rebel. I’m a wild woman. Can’t hold me back now. Ok, I’m done.

About number 6, now that my daughter is in preschool and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing how people in the real world are spelling the names of the children the supposedly love, I’m not so sure I would have aced a creative spelling class. I honestly would have never come up with an apostrophe in the middle of a name.

Bullies Harassing for Jesus

It was my sophomore year of high school and I had just moved from a town in Alaska of about six thousand people to a city in the Seattle area with about fifty thousand. It was a bit of a culture shock, but I quickly found a friend. She was in my Spanish class. She was funny and had some wild stories, which as I reflect on as an adult seem rather farfetched.

She told me one time about a friend of hers that was raped in a gas station bathroom. Her friend called her and she drove to pick up that friend. The only issue I had with that part of the story was that my classmate was only fifteen at the time of the story telling, so she had no license. Also at this time most cars were stick shift, so unless someone had taught her to drive it’s not like ten year old can just hop in the driver seat and take off as if it were a video game. Ya know.

Anyway, I don’t remember if it was the same girl or another girl she knew who had been raped, became pregnant, and kept the baby. My classmate looked at me searching for a response, but I had none. I thought it rather amazing that she personally knew someone that had gone through such an ordeal, because even then I knew that it was statistically improbable to not only be raped by a stranger but become pregnant from the one encounter. It was also odd that I had not come across such a news story in the paper because that’s the sort of thing I would have clipped. I’ve been a sick little fuck for a long time. I said nothing, so she continued by telling me that because of that one friend, she knows that anyone could do it and that abortion for any reason is just wrong. Wow. Talk about a logical fallacy. I certainly did not agree with that. I could never look a rape victim in the face and say they absolutely had to keep the resulting pregnancy to term. I was speechless.

Various stories like this went on for weeks. Some of them light and fun others more on the uuhh preachy side. Finally one day she asked me, “What religion are you?”

“I’m Catholic.” I said without hesitation. I had been and continued to be raised as Catholic at that point. I had no reason to say otherwise except that I had always had a hard time choking down the conflicting scriptures and that a deity would create human nature and then make moral rules that oppose it. You know, it’s the fine print I had issues with. The part no one else seems to read.

My classmate then says, “Oh I’m sorry.”

I laughed. I thought she was also Catholic. It’s sort of a common joke that the Catholic religion is a tough one to follow and that even the Catholics themselves feel bad they’re stuck with it.

She again said, “I’m so sorry for you.” But with a more serious tone.

I stopped laughing, “Why?”

“Because you’re going to hell.” She handed me a pamphlet and told me to read it. I glanced at it. I had no interest in reading her pamphlet. Whatever her religion was I knew it was nothing more than a spinoff of the one I had been raised in. I don’t know at what point I tossed it in the trash, but I’m sure it never made it home.

Now at no point did I ever feel bullied. Maybe let down by someone I thought of as a potential friend, but nothing I would cause me to commit suicide. I think most can see how this might make someone more religious feel bad. To tell a religious person in seriousness that they’re going to hell, well it’s rude to say the least. I could see someone with her beliefs, and the bluntness with which she told another Christian who didn’t follow her beliefs with lock-step exactness, telling another person their beliefs/lifestyle/manner in which they were born is an abomination. I can’t understand why the people that hold those beliefs feel compelled to push them onto others and I don’t think they should be separated from bullying laws. Harassing a person to tears or more is still harassment even if it happens to be motivated by religion.

The Michigan legislature is about to pass an anti-bullying law that says in the law that bullying is ok if you do it for “religious reasons.”

In an emotional speech on the Senate floor, Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer accused her colleagues of creating a blueprint for consequence-free bullying. “As passed today,” said Whitmer, “bullying kids is okay if a student, parent, teacher or school employee can come up with a moral or religious reason for doing it.”

The bill is called “Matt’s Safe School Law,” after Matt Epling, a Michigan student who committed suicide in 2002 after enduring prolonged bullying. Matt’s father, Kevin Epling, expressed his dismay in a Facebook post after the state senate vote on Wednesday. “I am ashamed that this could be Michigan’s bill on anti-bullying,” wrote Epling. “For years the line [from Republicans] has been ‘no protected classes,’ and the first thing they throw in…was a very protected class, and limited them from repercussions of their own actions.”

Link to the amended version of the bill on the Michigan legislature’s website:
http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billengrossed/Senate/htm/2011-SEBS-0137.htm

(8) This section does not abridge the rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States or under article I of the state constitution of 1963 of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian. This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil’s parent or guardian.

If you disagree with this law, please email the people below. Please do this even if you live out of state or in a country other than the USA. You may want to mention that you will not visit Michigan or spend any money there if this bill making bullying a legal right passes. The bill name is Senate Bill No. 137.

Email:
Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, at Rick.Snyder@michigan.gov
Speaker of the House: JaseBolger@house.mi.gov

If you live in the state of Michigan, find your representative here and email them: http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/

Help stop this bill and you could be saving the lives of many people who are bullied to the point of suicide.

55 Flash non-Fiction Friday: Fun Size

They say bigger is better. That’s a myth, but no one wants to pretend that a tiny bit will do the job. It’s embarrassing to want seconds and thirds just to get enough.

Who the hell came up with the “fun size” Halloween candy? There is nothing fun about that size!

What were you thinking?

fun size

55 Flash Fiction Friday

Brian Williams MasterCard Sellout

So many classes piqued my interest when I started going to college. I probably took a year’s worth of classes before I figured out what I even wanted to be when I got around to growing up. One of those extra classes that had absolutely nothing to do with my ultimate goal but have forever been thankful I took was called, “Mass Media”. It was linked with a required English class, so even if I hadn’t found it so useful the other half was pointing me in the direction of a degree.

That class taught me to see behind the theatrics of televised news, to question statistics, take notice of the verbiage used, and pay attention to the time allotted to each news story. All of those things used to push an opinion onto the viewer.

I rarely watch the news anymore. I prefer to read it. It allows me to determine what news is important and how much time I want to spend on a given topic. In addition, seeing the words allows me to mentally circle any slanted language and not be so easily suckered into frivolously taking a side or even accepting that the story presented qualifies as news.

A piece that aired on October 27th 2011 about aspirin made Brian Williams lose all credibility.

A bottle of generic Aspirin – $4.29

Medical research – Tens of billions of dollars

A household item that could prevent a range of illnesses…

Priceless

aspirin reduces cancer risk

I don’t want news that is an extension to a MasterCard commercial. I don’t find it cute. It’s silly to try and make the news “hip”. I don’t want to be entertained by the news. I turn to the news for facts. I know I’m asking too much though, because the news is tightly controlled. It took two weeks before the major news began showing the Wall Street protests that began on September 17th.

On the other hand, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if Brian Williams bit about aspirin being priceless was a message from the big corporations. Was that actually a big Fuck You from WallStreet to the protesters? The major corporations’ way of saying, “Here’s your fuckin’ healthcare.” Just a thought. Just let it fester in your head for a little while.

55 Flash non-Fiction Friday: Random BJ, Selection Morality

Schweddy Balls‘, juvenile humor, hits their radar. Their complaint** states disapproval of “Hubby Hubby” (a tribute to gay marriage).  But they make no mention of ‘Karamel Sutra’, which I did find at the store. Maybe the original “Sex for Dummies” guide could help them overcome fear of ‘Schweddy Balls’.  It’s only ice cream after all.

BJ's Karamel Sutra

55 Flash Fiction Friday

**7/6/12 I updated this link because the link I had to the One Million Moms complaint with Ben&Jerry’s Schweddy Balls ice cream flavor is no longer active. I tried to find their original complaint on the Way Back Machine, but One Million Moms website is apparently blocking that crawler from updating beyond July of 2011, so I instead substituted with a link about their complaint with Disney not protecting our children by allowing Gay Day celebrations during normal operating hours.

Homosexuals will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Gay Day wearing matching Gay Day merchandise, such as T-shirts. There will also be transvestites dressed in drag showing their support for the event. This event is planned with the intent to expose and desensitize children to this lifestyle by same-sex couples holding hands, hugging and kissing. In short, a Gay Day participant’s main goal is to be seen versus seeing Disney World.

Exactly one month from today on June 5 unsuspecting families will witness a well-orchestrated event that Disney says they have no control over. Disney has taken no action to stop this which leaves families stunned and offended. So instead of a normal day at this popular theme park, parents will be angry at the harm this causes families.

Wise Old…Crow?

Years ago, I lived in a tiny shack of a cabin. It was part of a cluster of tiny cabins that had been built in the 1930’s or 40’s as summer cottages. Each cabin was on a concrete slab and was made of cement and chicken wire. I know this because the cement was falling off the sides faster than the rental manager could paint over it and the chicken wire was showing through.

The concrete slab that my tiny “summer cottage” rested on was cracked. Every time it rained, and this was in the Seattle area, water came up through the crack. If the carpet wasn’t still saturated from the previous rainy day it absorbed the water. That place smelled FANTASTIC.

Aside from it being the second cheapest place to rent on all of Whidbey Island, the one plus was the huge picture window that only my cabin had. Situated next to a two-lane street that hugged Puget Sound and overlooked Penn Cove. I had a one of a kind view.

In the spring and summer, I watched sailboats galore, seabirds, beachfront, and waves. It was spectacular. But the one thing I loved watching the most were the crazy crows.

crow

For a while I thought what they were doing was accidental or just birds being messy pests, but one day when I really stopped to watch I realized something amazing about them. I watched those cunning crows pick muscles from the rocks on the beach, purposely drop them on the road, wait for a car to run the muscles over, and then snack on the muscle meat. Those are some clever birds!

Those ever so lovely “summer cottages” were demolished about a year or two after I moved out.

Flying Against The Seat

No, not the swings! Anything but the swings! Don’t take the swings away. I remember a set of swings in the back corner of the old elementary school I attended in Alaska.

Dear Free-Range Kids: The risk adversity in the U.S. is out of control. I just read about the CPSC recalling 7 million candle holders because there was a single incident of one (one!!) melting.

This comes on the heels of a discussion we had at our Parks Board last week where the playground designer came in to talk about the safety of playground equipment. The gist of it was: there is such a permeating fear of lawsuits and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) that playgrounds are required to be as generic as possible, lest a lawsuit occur. There was great discussion about the $600 test each playground inspector must take every three years to be certified to be able to even inspect a playground, and the number of people we have employed just to complete inspections on the equipment in our city alone. Each playground is inspected every 3-6 months: every screw and nut is examined, along with the width of all the poles, and evidence of settling, protrusions, wear, etc. It takes several hours to inspect one playground thoroughly and completely.

Swings are still allowed, but the CPSC rules –”which are treated as law” — are so stringent on how and where they’re installed, it’s almost not worth putting them in. It was so sad to listen to how the paranoia that has determined how playgrounds will be built, resulting in homogeneous, boring play zones for kids.

I was in the fourth grade. The elementary school I went was so old that it was closed a year or two after. There were a set of swings in the very back corner of the playground that my friends and I loved. The chains on these swings were longer than on others. We would lean into the seats of the swings with our stomach/ or chest, go to opposite corners of the swing set, and then we run in a circle causing the chains to twist. The result would send one or both of us flying against our seat and in some cases nearly hitting our back on the horizontal bar from which the swings hung. MYGOD what fun!

One afternoon, my wife and I took a drive around town to tour the various preschools. It was Sunday, so they were all closed. All we could do was check out the playgrounds. And that’s when we noticed something unusual.

“These playgrounds all suck,” my wife said.

She was right. Compared to the glorious expanse of fun our daughter had grown accustomed to at her preschool in upstate New York, these Jersey playgrounds were downright pathetic: small, cramped, and devoid of any remotely interesting equipment. They looked more like pens for dogs than playgrounds for kids.

And then we realized, simultaneously, what was missing: “No swings!

I don’t think there are any swings in the play area for the preschoolers where Sophia goes either. Luckily I take her to other playgrounds on a regular basis and she knows the joys of swinging. I have yet to find a set of swings like the ones in that old playground in Alaska. They probably don’t exist anymore, but if I find any I’ll surly teach Sophia and Lukas how to fly on the swings!

Kurt and Sophia on the swings

Picture taken 9/20/2011. Kurt and Sophia on the swings at the Puyallup Fair.

Wave to the camera

Woo! Swinging!