A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
Happy happy joy joy
If you want to know what it's like to get a referral, hie thee off to The Naked Ovary. Karen's been waiting a loooong time for this, and her joy is a delight to "see". Start from the bottom and read up! Congratulations, Karen!
More happy happy joy joy! Halushki has had her son! Welcome to the world, baby boy!
posted by Kate @ 7/31/2006 06:21:00 PM   1 comments

First reading
Vignettes and thoughts from the first reading of the official Lifebook: Pictures. I need more pictures. "This is boring. There aren't enough pictures." I do not need more pictures of happy Chinese families; in fact, I need fewer. Chicago Mama was most correct when she said that, no matter what you say, the child will think that the pictures of real people are pictures of her birthfamily. Oops. The pregnancy and birth pages were a hit. A true hit. Luckily, they came shortly after the "There aren't enough pictures" part; I asked dotter if I could read just a little bit more, she said yes, and we hit the pregnancy part. Whoa. Now I have a dotter who is going around and thrusting out her tummy as far as she can, then squatting down and SHOUTING "Aaggghhh!", then reaching between her legs to grab the baby. Um. Maybe I should warn the daycare folks? Anyway, I had cribbed a drawing of an almost full-term baby inside the uterus, and the dotter was fascinated by it. Her eyes got quite big when I told her that the baby had to come out that little hole there (pointing). She breathed out, "Where your privates are?!" I nodded yes. She squealed "Ewww!" Then her eyes got bigger. She asked, "How?!" And I told her that it took a long time, up to a day, that a woman's body had to stretch out a lot to get the baby out, and it was a lot of work. She asked, "Does it hurt? Do they shout?" When I said yes, that's when she began the poking her tummy out and SHOUTING. There was a certain amount of connecting the dots: "Did you ever have a baby, mommy?" "No, sweetie." "Aww." (Patting me on the tummy.) "Did my birthmother in China have me?" "Yes, sweetie." "Oh." Pictures of happy Chinese families, as I said, were met with, "Is this my birthmother?" "Is that?" When she finally realized that none of the babies were her, and none of the ladies were her birthmother, she lost interest and dove beneath the covers and squirmed underneath my knees. "Holler at me when you get to pictures of me!" quoth the dotter. When I got to the policeman finding her at the gates, she popped her head out from under the covers on the other side of my knees and frowned. "Is this the Guilin story again?!" she asked in a somewhat disapproving voice. But then there were pictures of the orphanage, and pictures of me and OmegaDad meeting her for the first time, and a picture of her as she is now, and all ended well. The final verdict: "That was long, mama." Then, after a few more attempts to give birth, she laid down next to me, sang the ABC song, and began snoring.
The Betsy has sailed. Reportage later.
posted by Kate @ 7/30/2006 06:12:00 PM   1 comments

Echo chamber
So where is everyone today?? Did I scare you off? Offend you? Or do you guys have (gasp!) "real lives"?? Tsk. Don't you know that reading my blog should take precedence over everything? My real life today has been: 1. Laundry 2. Cleaning house 3. Working on the dotter's Lifebook 4. Watching OmegaDad's "get everything absolutely perfect for the Betsy" perigrinations with bemusement We now have wooden paddles for the Betsy, including a cute little one for the dotter. After much hairy-eyeballing, I got it through to OmegaDad that, no, we don't need $60 wooden paddles when we first take her out. We now have red, white, and blue PFDs for the Betsy. We now have some type of contraption on the Yakima rack that consists of U-bolts carefully dunked in plastic coating. We now have ratchet thingies to attach to the U-bolts to tie the Betsy down. Maybe we will have good weather tomorrow? It would be nice to take the Betsy out on a spin. If the weather today holds out, we can do it; if the weather is like it's been all this week, we will be huddled inside our cozy log home, wincing at the crashing and banging of the Thunder Gods, who have dumped--in small, isolated spots in the area--up to 6 inches per storm over the past few days. The construction of the dotter's Lifebook owes a great debt of gratitude to Chicago Mama, who has been doing a series on what to put into a Lifebook over the past month or so. For those not in the "adoption know", a Lifebook is a book about your child's life before you met him/her. So dotter's, for instance, contains info about China, about the city where she was born, about what birth is like, about what we think her birthparents might be like, about the whys and snippets of info about her abandonment, about life in the orphanage, and then, at the very end, how she was adopted. The idea is to help the kid realize that he had a life before adoption, that she's got a heritage all her own, that he was actually born (yes, some adopted kids get a big jolt that they didn't come into life magically at age 1 year old, like some type of Venus on the halfshell). It also specifically mentions birthparents, and is used as a way to allow the child to realize it's okay to think about birthparents. I've been noodling this around in my head for a couple of years now, and Chicago Mama's series just gave me the push to finally get it done. So, with the help of liberal photo-nabbing from the Internet (for use only in this one, highly personal book!) and a morning's peace and quiet, I got all the ideas down on paper and printed out. We'll give it a whirl this weekend, along with the Betsy. Just FYI, I'm adding a list of links to Chicago Mama's Lifebook entries: The Lifebook Post (well, actually The Story of You) Opening Thoughts on Lifebook Toddler Story Lifebook: Introductory Page, Country History, Personal History Lifebook: First Parents, Birth Parents, Mother & Father Lifebook: Birthday/Labor & Delivery Lifebook: Miscellaneous Administrative Stuff Now, go back to your real lives!
posted by Kate @ 7/29/2006 03:51:00 PM   7 comments

Brown bear...
Thank you all for the sweet comments on my Brown Bear post. Miss Cellania posted some links to pics of lovely, non-blonde contestants of the Miss Universe contest for the past few years, suggesting I show them to the dotter: Awesomely gorgeous (but disturbingly gaunt) Miss China, Ying Hui Gao Stunning Miss Japan, Kurara Chibana Miss Universe 2000, Lara Dutta of India A totally shocked Miss Botswana (Mpule Kwelagobe) winning the Miss Universe pageant of 1999 Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Wendy Fitzwilliam, winner of the 1998 Miss Universe pageant So the dotter and I perused pageant contestants for a while. I thought they were gorgeous. The dotter, however, was more interested in the dresses than the looks, and declared that the ones that are best are the ones wearing dresses that look like mermaids. OmegaGranny suggested that I point out that OmegaBro is married to Japanese-American Aunt L., thus people with brown skin can get married. When the subject comes up again, I will definitely mention this. Johnny chimed in with a comment on the beauty industry, which makes its sales by first telling girls they have to look a certain way to be "beautiful", then advertising its wares as a sure path to that particular style of "beauty". This reminds me of one type of "beauty" issue with Asian women--the eyelid surgery, to get a double-eyelid to look more Caucasian. Sigh. As a result of all of this (plus a gentle nudge from OmegaGranny via email), yesterday after school I cornered Miss Beth, the daycare administrator, when OmegaDotter was getting her stuff from her cubby. I gave her the Hairy Eyeball and said, "Can we talk?" I explained our dilemma, and asked if the school could be doing something on "diversity" and suchlike. Much to my surprise, Miss Beth immediately launched into a discussion of how she's revamping the curriculum (woohoo!), hoping to get the daycare accredited as an official pre-school (and more?), and said that her theory is that kids get more into such visual differences if they aren't being kept busy (hmm). She said that she encounters this on a yearly basis. She further mentioned that she had taken over Miss Kalyn's class (the one OmegaDotter is in) for a week while Miss K. was on vacation, and that she was appalled at how "hungry for knowledge" the kids were. Now. Our daycare uses sweet young thangs from Small Mountain University's early childhood development program as their teachers. (Except for Miss Betty, who is about 50 and an awesome--AWESOME--teacher.) Some of these young things are better than the others. To be frank, I haven't been really impressed with Miss K. Neither, it turns out, is Miss Beth. Miss Beth announced to me that Miss K. was On Her Way Out, that in two weeks, a new teacher would be in the 4's classroom, and that we all would be "pleasantly surprised". Ahah. Soooo. I'm left wondering if the Totally Awesome Miss Betty is being moved up to an older classroom (she teaches the 3's), or if it's Miss Rachel (a sweet young thang who OmegaDotter is totally smitten with, who has the 2's class right now). We shall see. We shall also see if there's some more diverse stuff being presented in the classroom. In the meantime, rather than an all-out assault on "brown is beautiful" and "blondes are boring" (which is what OmegaDad's approach felt like), I am going to work on small doses sprinkled here and there.
posted by Kate @ 7/27/2006 06:53:00 PM   2 comments

Demon kitten
My last cat to go on to the Great Cat Beyond was named LittleJohn and nicknamed "Monster". His nickname came about because, when he was a kitten, he was into everything and destroyed so much stuff. I would come home from work, enter my apartment, and see my four-foot-tall three-trunked potted palm lying in disarray on its side on my living room floor, dirt sprawling across the carpeting, and a happy kitten peeping out from under the leaves, ready to pounce. Anything I had left on the dining table would be strewn about, leaking into the kitchen. Ribbons were especially lovely for that cat. Upon glimpsing the massacre, I would shriek, "Oh! You little monster!" The four-foot-tall, three-trunked potted palm ended up as a three-stubbed, four-inch-high potted dead palm very quickly. "Monster" stuck. But he grew into a dignified, portly cat who would sprawl on his back in the sunlight, waiting for me to rub his curly belly hair. Far removed from the "monster kitten" he had been. He was 12 when he lapped at a teaspoon of antifreeze that had leaked onto the pavement beneath our car; he lasted six months after a frantic stay at the veterinarian's during which he wasted away to a bony shadow of himself. One day, I let him out on the back deck to lie in the sun...he never came back. So I was finally ready this summer to get a new cat. Remember this sweet little ball of fluff?
He has entered the Demon Kitten From Hell stage. Many of our houseplants are being shredded. He tangles himself up in OmegaDotter's elaborate creations during the day when we're away, knocks over her stuffed animals which are so very carefully placed this way or that way in some specific order which only OD's mind remembers. (But trust me, she remembers!) He has discovered the toilet paper rolls in both bathrooms. As a result, for the duration, the toilet paper rolls have been taken off the rollers and stashed on the top of the toilet tanks. He drives the Dawg crazy by sitting in his food dish. He tries to sneak into the refrigerator every time we have it open. He chews on the basketry. He climbs onto the dining table and knocks the flowers over and pushes all the paper onto the floor. He tries to jump onto the dining table when we're eating dinner, or sneak a piece of food off anyone's plate if he's on their lap. When I'm sacked out with OmegaDotter in her bedroom and OmegaDad sleeps alone in our bed, the kitten turns into a serial killer who leaps and pounces on OmegaDad's toes, chews his beard, pulls his hair, and, in general, keeps him up all night. But when I'm in bed with OmegaDad, the kitten comes, curls up on my head or under my chin, and purrs loudly every time I stir. He climbs on my shoulders, sticks his nose in my ear, and purrs. He puts up with an amazing amount of physical mayhem from the dotter. He's very, very cute.
posted by Kate @ 7/27/2006 06:28:00 PM   1 comments

The disappeared
So, according to Peepul Magazine, Madame Toussaud's Wax Museum has unveiled a lovely set piece of a celebrity family: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Shiloh Pitt-Jolie. Awww. Ain't that sweet. But wait! What's missing?! Where's Maddox, adopted from Vietnam? Where's Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia? What, they dropped off the face of the earth while I wasn't celebrity watching? Oh, my! Quick, someone point me to the news stories about their disappearance! Brad and Angelina must be devastated! Horrors! What's happened to the chiiiiiildruuuun???? Y'know, all sarcasm and facetiousness aside, I'm normally not one to get hot under the collar about perceived "adoptionism". A lot of things that would have the Big List in an uproar would leave me shrugging my shoulders and going, "Eh." I do get bothered by, say, an obituary for 80-year-old men that lists his 45-year-old son as "his adopted son, so-and-so". But adopt-a-something-or-others, seen as a True Adoption Horror Story by some, are seen as a learning moment by me. And these days I try to grit my teeth and gracefully segue away from conversational gambits such as "Oh, you are such GOOD people to adopt one of Those Poor Girls!" or "You know they..." (whisper) "...kill little girls Over There, don't you?!" Luckily, such topics seem to have faded away a lot recently. But something as glaring and obvious as this, simply dropping two kids out of the picture because they're not bio-babes, has me pretty grumpy. What kind of message does this send out to adopted kids who tour the museum? This--mom, dad, bio-babe--this is a family! But you--adopted kids--well, it's not quite the same thing, don't ya know? Or maybe it's that they're of a different race? I don't know what lack of braincells prompted this adoption gaffe. I don't really care. I just think it's pretty horrid. I'm indebted to Kirei Kirei on the Adoption Debate board at NOTI for this tip.
Just a quick note to folks who have dropped comments for me in the past few days--OmegaDad is out of town (again!), things are hectic at work (again!), and I'm behind on responses. I'll be doing a roundup soon! Promise!
posted by Kate @ 7/26/2006 05:52:00 PM   5 comments

The vision thang
Kent Newsome pointed me to a post on Darren Rowse's ProBlogger site, a group writing project called If I had to start my blog again. Since OmegaMom is almost (yes!) a year old, it seems timely to look back and think about what I would have done differently. First and foremost, I would have purchased a domain name, paid for a hosting service, and gone with Wordpress. The lack of categories on Blogger just bugs the snot out of me. I'm not alone here; whenever I go trolling through the help forums (fora?), category-less-ness is one of the predominant themes. You'd think that the folks at Blogger would take note, but nooooo! Someone explain this to me. Articles abound on hacks and painfully twisted methods of incorporating categories on a Blogger site...why don't the Blogger Powers That Be gussy up their (very basic) service with some frills of that sort? Clickable calendars are another huge lack. At the time, though, the thought of actually paying for a blogging service, for something that was a mere whim, a lemming-like fall off the blogging cliff because all my online buds were doing it, was preposterous. Pay good money? Shit, no. Secondly, I would have actually posted more regularly from the start. It wasn't until I got a hit counter that I realized that--amazingly enough--someone was reading my stuff (the aforementioned online buds). And it quickly showed that if I posted regularly, more people started showing up. And more people started linking to me. OmegaMom is small potatoes as blogs go. Real small. I'm up to an average of 70 hits per day, which is nothing compared to the big guys. I've crawled and clawed my way up to a Technorati rank of about 58,000. But if I were to start again, I'd jump in with a post a day, come out of the sidelines swinging, as it were. Thirdly, maybe a little more structure? A regular theme to hit on a weekly basis? I'm not sure. There are some blogs out there that have specific subjects, tightly woven posts that hit upon A Theme. It's grand that there are people who are so focused, but I think that it would just plain bore me to death. A little of this, a dash of that--just consider the ol' Omega gal a blogging butterfly, floating from subject to subject. Fourth: Start earlier. I came late to the blogosphere, goodness knows why. I started out online on Usenet, frolicking happily on alt-callahans. I moved to other Usenet groups, then boards and email lists when researching pregnancy, how to get pregnant, what to do about infertility, then adoption. Each step of the way, I'd find a new forum, a new group to interact with...and then I hit the jackpot with the debate boards on iVillage. Woohoo--mommies with brains! Wow! But "blogs"...? Just posting links you like? What a weird idea. Who'd want to share their favorites, for gosh sake? Who on earth would be interested in someone else's favorites? (Hey, I never said I was an early adopter. If I had the foresight that some people have, I would have purchased stock in Micro$oft back when they first came out with Windoze, and I'd be a multi-millionaire by now.) I'd come across some early online journalers, who I liked, but it seemed like a lot of work. I had no idea that "blogs" could be something like that. It wasn't until I enjoyed the freedom to write whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, easily, that the appeal of blogging really grabbed me. One thing I did right from the start: having a group of buds to link to, and be linked from, was good. It provided this blog with a jumping-off point. The realization that a few folks were reading me kept me going. Another thing I did right from the start was to start looking at other people's blogs on subjects I was interested in, reading their posts, commenting on them, and linking to them. A third thing that was good was to randomly sample blogs on Blogger. A few jewels popped out of the interminable dreck, folks who seemed interesting and wrote well. Perhaps it's time to do another dip into the blogging sea to see what can be found out there. Thanks, Darren, for an interesting exercise in navel-gazing!
posted by Kate @ 7/25/2006 10:21:00 PM   2 comments

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I see brown skin looking at me. Sigh. The dotter is firmly convinced that Twiggy is beautiful. "But I'm not," she tells me earnestly. Another day, she tells me, "Girls with brown skin can't get married." She tells me she's a "boy-girl"; I correct her with "tomboy", and she happily agrees. This one doesn't bother me at all (though I'm not sure she's really a tomboy, more like a pseudo-tomboy or a tomboy-wannabe). Twiggy, in certain manifestations, would bother me for other reasons. I still remember the waif-like look she flaunted during the 60s. But the Twiggy the dotter is referring to is an older, more fleshed-out Twiggy, guest-starring in one of the first-season episodes of the Muppets (we have the entire collection on DVD). The "beauty" is that she has long, curly blond hair, that she looks like Barbie. Mulan and Jasmine just don't cut it. Oh, they're great fun to watch, and it's fun to pretend that you're Mulan training in swordwork, but...well, heroines like them are few and far between. I ran this by OmegaDad this evening, and he immediately went out to the dotter and began a sweet but excruciatingly awkward conversation with the dotter while she was watching Muppets dance around with Twiggy. The end result: the dotter got quite upset at his insistence that she was more beautiful to him than Twiggy. Didn't work. He obviously doesn't know what beautiful is. How stupid can he be? was the impression I got from the overheard conversation. Her favorite friends are all blond moppets with curly hair. Her long-time beau, C., is a tall blond lout-in-the-making. (Well, he's actually a very sweet boy who worships the ground she walks on, but he's several inches taller than she is and very very blond.) The "I'm not beautiful" and "brown skin is bad" is starting so very very early. I mistakenly thought we had a few more years before this started.
posted by Kate @ 7/24/2006 11:45:00 PM   8 comments

Post-n-run
We've been hangin' with OmegaGranny. I drove down the mountains and spent the night with her, then together we moseyed back up the mountains via a different route. She spent two nights with us, was inundated with the dotter and her horsies, and had a grand time taking pics of odd and interesting stuff for her blog. We drove her back home this afternoon, stopping off at vegetable stands to get awesome peaches and canteloupes, and sweet corn to be cooked later on. No great thoughts tonight. But a friend mentioned that the hair in my pic of the dotter jumping was so reminiscent of her referral pic that I just had to post them side-by-side:
Vacation is over; back to the code mill tomorrow. I didn't do anything. I relaxed, read books, cleaned house a bit (I can walk in my office again!), exercised, slept, enjoyed the rain, and feel revitalized.
posted by Kate @ 7/23/2006 08:58:00 PM   2 comments

IVF, frozen embryos, and research
Our Fearless Leader used his veto power for the very first time in six years of presidency this week to veto the legislation allowing federal funding for embryo stem cell research. To those without any experience with in-vitro fertilization, the estimated 500,000 embryos on ice are seen as guaran-damn-teed babies. To those who have experience, those 500,000 maybe...maybe...represent 25,000 babies. Maybe. Those embryos are a vast potential. But it's not a baby to anyone who has gone through IVF until it's a baby in your arms, kicking, squalling, and wanting to EAT. Too many of those of us who have done IVF know just how fragile and fleeting a thing the whole process can be. First you have to have follicles make real eggs. Lots of things that look like follicles on the ol' dildo-cam (vaginal ultrasound, great fun, folks--guys, just think high-level prostate exam, and you'll get an idea) end up being empty, fluid filled sacs that, when punctured by the nine-inch long needle deflate as rapidly as your hopes. Then your real eggs need to meet real, manly sperm. Strong sperm. Healthy swimmers. Sometimes, this requires a certain amount of help from yet another needle. Throw in a hope or two that the egg and sperm combo actually does the fertilization waltz. Now you've got an embryo. That embryo has to start dividing. It has to keep dividing in that warm, nurturing petri dish. Some embryos stop dead right there. Let's say it's dividing nicely. So your doc and embryologist take a peek at the embryos to decide which ones to transfer. (Note that word: TRANSFER. NOT "implant".) So if you've got a couple of nice-looking embryos--which is a sheer matter of judgement call--to pop inside the warm, nurturing uterus. If it's a first try, and you're young enough, they'll put two in. If you're older, or it's your third or fourth or fifth try, they'll put in more. Sometimes, if the embryos don't "look nice", they'll put more in, also. Now a miracle occurs. (Some of you may recall the cartoon with that phrase in it.) Hopefully, one of those embryos will IMPLANT in the uterine lining. "Implant" is a technical term, meaning a very specific thing, which is why I get all bent out of shape when people talk about doctors "implanting three embryos into the woman's womb". The docs don't "implant" anything. The embryo does it itself. If you're lucky, that implanted embryo will stick, and keep growing. Mine didn't; it hung around long enough to start producing pregnancy hormones, then went poof. This happens a lot. Then you've got to make it past the first trimester. Lots of those embryos don't. Now add in the question of how many frozen embryos actually thaw and stay alive (that is estimated at about 50%). I did some number crunching from the 2003 SART report, and came up with an overall figure of 11% of all embryos produced for IVF cycles result in a "take-home baby". In actuality, the number is probably somewhat lower, given the number of multiples that are actually identicals, in which case one embryo divided into two. This low number won't surprise anyone who has BTDT, but may come as a bit of a shock to people not in the know. When one does IVF, the docs give you a form to fill out to decide what to do with any leftover embryos if you're lucky enough to have extras. You have four options: freeze, donate to another couple, donate to research, or destroy. In my opinion, it's not anyone else's business what you decide to do with those extra embryos. It's a family decision, akin to deciding whether to pull the plug on a family member who is on life support. But one of those decisions is actually a chimera, because there is no federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells. So there are those 500,000 frozen embryos, and the political world keeps impinging on that private, family decision. If my husband and I wanted to donate our embryos to another couple or go through an "embryo adoption" situation, it would have been our decision to make. If we had wanted to donate to research, that should have been our decision to make. But in the U.S., lack of federal funding means that the only research being done using embryos is private research...and the private research funds are few and far between. Every couple who has embryos left over from an IVF cycle has to make that decision. It's a highly personal decision. Some people would like to think that their infertility ordeal could add something to the world for other people via embryo donation or adoption. Some would like to add something to the world via research. Some would just like to defer the decision as long as possible. Each of those options should be available. Waving your hands at adult stem cell research as a panacea and saying that embryos shouldn't be destroyed because you're taking a human life...it's not life yet. It's a glorious potential--a potential life, a potential research tool--but frozen on ice, all it is is a bunch of cells.
posted by Kate @ 7/21/2006 08:02:00 PM   4 comments

Snip snap!
OmegaDotter has earnestly been trying to snap her fingers for a few weeks. Last night, she succeeded. I heard her dash into the kitchen and excitedly tell OmegaDad, "Daddy! Daddy! Listen! I can snap my fingers!" And, mutedly, snap! Then she dashed into the room where I was, thrust her hand right up next to my ear (kinda smushing it, in fact), and went...flub. Oops. But then she tried again, and a crisp, snappy SNAP! rang out. She got an enormous grin on her face as I exclaimed, "Wow!", did a little twinkle-toes dance, and crowed in awe, "I can snap just like a five-year-old!" Then she neglected her dinner while she practiced snapping some more at the dinner table. Ah, well, win some, lose some. There are some things that all kids (in the U.S.A., at least) seem to need to learn to know: How to snap. How to turn a cartwheel. How to somersault. How to skip. How to whistle. How to ride a bike. How to stand on your head. I never learned to do cartwheels. Every time I tried, what happened was a sad mess to behold. The really limber kids would cartwheel around the playground, and I'd watch in sad envy. To this day when I attempt a cartwheel I fail; these days, I usually end up with a wrenched back, as well. Then there are the oddities that some kids pick up. My snapping, for instance, is not the normal snap-with-the-middle-finger or index-finger. I snap using my ring finger. Any time I try snapping with a different finger, I get the flub sound. Another oddity: I distinctly remember one afternoon in the after-school program when I learned to shuffle cards with a "cascade" finish. It was winter, so we were stuck inside the lunchroom, afternoon light streaming in the windows. Some boy whose name I now cannot recall (but who was older and thus very impressive to me) showed off his cascading riffle-shuffle style, clowned around some, then was picked up by his parents. I was struck. How cool! So I sat down in the alcove off the lunchroom, the one with the big bright white high-backed wooden both with the big white table, gritted my teeth, and determined to figure out how he had done it before I went home. I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. The first few times, the cards went splaying across the table in all directions. But slowly and surely, I began getting the arch into the shuffle. Then, every time I shuffled, I was cascading the cards like a cardshark. I did this for an hour. The end result? I find it difficult, to this day, to shuffle cards "normally". The arching cascading riffle-shuffle became ingrained in my kinetic memory that afternoon, and has never left. But I still can't do cartwheels. And OmegaDotter can snap her fingers.
posted by Kate @ 7/19/2006 10:47:00 AM   7 comments

Real life in microcosm
Civility in internet discourse has been on OmegaMom's mind lately. Not that it's news, but people will do and say things online that they would never do IRL. Some cases in point: A way left-wing liberal blogger spews truly nasty invective on a conservative blogger's comment trail. CB's fans, perceiving real threats against the CB's kid, get up in arms, flood LB's blog with vituperation, contact the police and FBI, and flood LB's employer's email inbox. LB resigns her position. A happy group of bloggers is disrupted when one of them jokingly decides to hold a closed election on spoof titles (Best Whining Post, Most Openly Needy Blogger, etc.) on a private blog. Things quickly get out of hand, meaner and nastier awards are proposed and bloggers nominated to win, friends find out, and long-time internet friendships go kablooey. A woman posts vents (balanced by lots of good things) about her husband on a private email list. Over the course of half a year, things get worse and worse at home, and she is saddened and befuddled by it. Then, in the midst of a spat at home, she discovers the reason: someone on the private email list has been anonymously forwarding each and every one of her vents to her husband's email. Burned, she leaves the list, and the list is in turmoil as "the mole" is searched for. Private boards go belly-up and accusations flare--everyone's a villain, and everything said by everyone gets dissected, trisected, and analyzed to a fare-thee-well. Each of these things is reflected in real life: at a cocktail party, the liberal blogger might have snarled about the conservative blogger (but never to the extent she did in her comments--trust me, she went way beyond the pale!); the blogging circle or the private board, if they had been a circle of real-life friends, might have had scenes where some of the friends got together alone and bitched about the others; the woman on the email list might have griped with coworkers, only to have a bitchy coworker tell her husband everything. It's just that (a) there are more conversations on the internet, so more likelihood that something mean will get said; (b) for some reason, there's a tendency to "bare more" in certain spaces on the internet, so there's more fodder for things to go wrong; (c) you have history on the internet--copies of emails, archives of boards, blog archives that go way back with associated comment trails, so that specific instances can be dug up over and over and over again, reproducing the irritation/shock/hurt/anger that they originally produced; (d) there's no emotional context in typed text, so what could be said with nuance comes across bold and brash and in-your-face; and (e) there's a certain anonymity, a facelessness...if you hurt someone on the internet, you don't see their emotional reaction, their drawing back, the pain in their eyes--all of which would stop you (usually) if you were face-to-face with them and saying the same things. Andrew Brown, writing on the UK Guardian's Comment Is Free blog, asks the question, Why are people arseholes online? He ends up with the idea that people want to be like modern-day journalists, and that modern-day journalists are mean and nasty because it garners readership. I'm not sure I agree. Internet discourse can appear to be very intimate, very one-on-one. You learn a lot about people through blog posts, email posts, board posts. It's almost a pressure-cooker atmosphere, or, in some cases, like a honeymoon: Oh! You think x, y, and z? So do I! Wow! And intimacy breeds revelation: You pick your toenails?! Ewwwww. You pee in the shower?! Ewwwww. You think the death penalty is okay in certain situations?! Ewww. You think sex education is necessary?! Ewwwww. You fart?! Ewwww. You get my drift. And just like real life, people who know a lot about each other from online situations can truly hurt one another. They know just what buttons to push. They know just how to poke at insecurities. They store up irritations and frustrations, both from real life (work, politics, homelife) and online life, to the point where, when one last irritation hits a sore spot, BOOM, suddenly everything comes spilling out. Divorces are nasty because the people involved know each other so well. Some internet discourse can be nasty for the same reason. Then there are the public boards where people can just spew. Anyone who wants to can sign up on, say, MSNBC or CNN's comment boards. Any time you want a dip in vileness, just cruise some of those boards. People just seem to let themselves go, totally, given the anonymity. You can sign up with any name, and start jabbering on any subject you want--and people who sit at home shouting commentary at the TV news suddenly have a bully pulpit to share their views, no matter how ignorant or racist or informed or compassionate. It just seems that the ignorant-to-informed ratio, the hating-versus-compassionate ratio are very high. There's a reason why face-to-face interactions are governed by society's norms. Play nice. Don't hit. Share your toys. Take turns. Because if you don't follow those norms in real life, the end result is likely to be ugly. The same holds true for the internet.
posted by Kate @ 7/18/2006 08:08:00 AM   4 comments

Bugs 'n' stuff
I followed a link on Pharyngula to find this awesome National Weather Service loop of a mayfly hatching event in Minnesota. Now. Just sit there and think for a moment. There were enough bugs hatching all at once to show up on NATIONAL WEATHER RADAR, fer goshsake! It's cool to watch, but I really don't think I'd like to have "weather" like that. Then there are the bugs-in-the-broccoli. OmegaDad marched my large butt out to the veggie garden so I could serve as extra hands as he harvested our first broccoli. We ooohed and ahhhed at our harvest. We tenderly carried it into the house. We laid it on the kitchen counter. I turned away. OmegaDad hollered, "Grab the broccoli!" I turned back. Bugs. Earwigs. Pouring out of the broccoli. Earwigs wig me out. I know they don't do anything to anyone, except chomp holes in vegetables and lilac bushes and stuff like that. But their multi-sectioned shiny bodies wiggling away with the pincers up front just...shudder... Now, it's a short-term shudder. Get rid of the critters (we washed them down into the septic tank, where I hope they die hideous deaths), drown the broccoli in water to be sure there are no more nasty creepy crawlies, then cook that stuff up. I'm sure some of my readers are horking up their dinner right now.
posted by Kate @ 7/16/2006 07:17:00 PM   4 comments

A horsie interlude
This morning I drew horses for OmegaDotter, then cut them out. A horse-drawer, I am not. Most of my horses' heads have an unfortunate tendency to look somewhat like ducks'.
But the dotter, though she is becoming more discriminating, was still pleased. Before I cut them out, she decorated them with saddles, reins, and bridles. She also extended the legs of one of the horsies by adding little round hooves, which made them look more horse-like; I had wondered why they looked so stubby. Mothers everywhere will understand the following complaint: HOW on earth can one small child expand her STUFF to fill the entire universe?? She has been drawing while the TV plays in the background, and the coffee table and environs are draped in sheets of construction paper and printer paper with various beginnings of drawings--one cute little tentacled thingummy which she informed me was an "alien"; wildly decorated stencil horsies, bull heads, conestoga wagons, and dawgs; rainbows and a big green blob that she told me was a swimming pool. There are markers and crayons scattered in heaps on the table, and strewn across the floor. There's a Pretty Pony flopped on the floor beneath the table. There are four of my colorful scarves carefully draped across pillows on the futon. (God forbid you should disarrange them!) Baskets and containers are on their sides, contained items escaping. I clean up the detritus, head off to do something else, and return, and the detritus is strewn again. Yesterday, after our pool and nap drive and ice cream interlude, she decided to draw letters. After I admired them, she demanded I give her words to draw, so we worked on easy words: boy, girl, horse (of course!), cat, dog, dance, ribbon...She eagerly presented them to OmegaDad when he arrived back from his errands, and he dutifully admired. The dotter's daycare (an offshoot of a Baptist church) was doing Vacation Bible School this week--"SonTreasure Island". Family night was Friday night; it was announced by a poorly hand-drawn sign taped to the front door on Wednesday. I am used to her daycare giving us such short notice, and with three years' of VBS history, knew it was coming. So Friday afternoon, OmegaDad presented the dotter with a Beautiful! Yellow! Dress! which he had picked up at the trading post while he was out in the field. We dressed, we got in the car, we realized we were very early, and decided to drive around beforehand. This distressed OmegaDotter: "But my performance! We can't be late! Oh, NO!" But (of course) we got there in plenty of time, the dotter hooked up with K., her latest Best Friend Forever, they sang religious propaganda songs and looked unutterably cute, and we got lots of pics most of which are unsalvageable.

JUMP!

Best Friends

Yellow Dress

Many thanks to all for the thoughts on how to deal with my need to be alone versus her need to Be With Me. I marched off to the doc on Friday and got a new prescription for the pretty blue pills, which I had weaned myself off of back in January. I told the PA I needed them because of "menopausal snarkiness and bitchiness", which she was amused by. The medicos always say that it takes weeks for them to take effect; I have never needed weeks, perhaps a reflection of my low tolerance to various meds. So whether it's a placebo effect or the Real Thing, two days of LBPs has made me much more mellow. Or perhaps it's the fact that I know I won't have to deal with work this week--hurray! I've got the week off! OmegaMom does the Snoopy Dance. I plan to swim, hike, putter around, and do nothing. Ahhhhh. Anyway, it's nice to know that there are others out there who also have the loner-versus-clinger conundrum to deal with. Thanks for the various ideas; I will have to put some of them into effect. (Though, VM, the idea of taking the dotter on hikes with me can sometimes backfire--when I hike, I want to walk fast and far, both of which are somewhat out of the dotter's abilities right now. Also, the peace and quiet of the forest is...um..."demolished" is the word...by a four-and-a-half year old!)
posted by Kate @ 7/16/2006 09:32:00 AM   3 comments

The root of all evil
Let's say you are living your life, working along, you and your spouse getting by, but wanting more and feeling like the slightest tilt in your lives could send you spinning. A little better than paycheck to paycheck, but not feeling perfectly safe and solid. Then say someone shows up on your doorstep and offers you anywhere from three to 10 times your current annual salary to do something for him. Something that could be seen as unethical, but that viewed in other ways could be seen as a Good Thing. Something like, say, give up a child for adoption to that Shining City on the Hill known as the U.S. Maybe be able to feed all your other children and clothe them and shelter them better than before. Or take your neighbor's child (after all, they've got too many and they're known to be bad parents). Or just make things move a little easier along, and, oh, by the way, get some of that three to 10 times your annual salary for yourself... Well, maybe you wouldn't do it. But what about your neighbors? Would they? Or their neighbors? Now look at the following per capita incomes in U.S. Dollars as of 2004:
 China         1,290 

 Russia        3,410 

 Guatemala     2,130 

 South Korea  13,980 

 Ukraine       1,260 

 Kazakhstan    2,260 

 Ethiopia        110 

 India           620 

 Colombia      2,000 

 Philippines   1,170 

 Haiti           390 

 Vietnam         550 
For comparison purposes, the annual per capita income of the U.S. for 2004 was $41,400. That's the top 10 countries for international adoption for last year, with Vietnam thrown in because (a) Vietnam was closed last year and is open this year, and previously was a very popular location for international adoption. I'm not looking at per capita purchasing power, because what I'm interested in is a dollar-to-dollar comparison. Now add in "what sort of lifestyle does that $2,000 in Colombia provide people?", and you've got even more motivation--$1,000 goes a long way in some countries. We sweep in with thousands of dollars, asking for kids.Those thousands of dollars may seem like a lot to us, but to many people around the globe, it's not "a lot". It's a bloody fortune. And we wonder if there's corruption and why there's corruption. Strict government control is one approach--China's. But what we consider "strict government control" bumps up against people's motivations, cultural tendencies towards acceptance of bribery, other things. Sadly, I think that corruption in international adoption is almost a given.
posted by Kate @ 7/15/2006 08:26:00 AM   5 comments

The mind's eye
This is just way kewl. In brief: researchers are working on a retinal implant that would act like a digi-cam and stimulate nerves on the retina, allowing people with macular degeneration and similar eye diseases to be able to see again. This one is different from others because it doesn't require an outside assist (from, say, a digi-cam embedded in goggles). They're also talking about being able to replay and slow-mo things you see! Wowzers!
posted by Kate @ 7/13/2006 10:55:00 AM   3 comments

Owner of a lonely heart
I have always liked being alone. One of my favorite things to do is to go hiking in the woods by myself, far away from anyone else, then find a good rock or stump to sit on, and listen to the wind in the trees, the birds chirping, the rustles of small creatures through the underbrush. When I was a child, I liked to hide away in my room. I would lie there daydreaming, or buried in a book, or just sitting at the window and staring out at the world. It's a physical need. If people get too close to me physically, I edge back; I don't want them impinging on my space. If they persist, I get tense and edgy. Crowd scenes send my edginess into hyperdrive. Don't touch me unless it's on my terms. I can, if pressed, get hostile. If I am stressed, you can multiply all of this times ten, times one hundred. "Getting away" is how I recharge; the classic hallmark of an introvert in all the Myers-Briggs tests. I test out as INTP consistently, and have ever since I first took the MBTI. (Though every once in a while, I test out as INFP instead). OmegaDad, though very introspective, is much more of an extrovert. He is an excellent salesman. He connects with people. He does some of his best work through schmoozing and networking even though he's in the sciences. OmegaDotter...I don't know. All I know is that she is extremely needy and clingy, and that being alone is one of the most horrible things she can experience. Whether this is innate or a result of being one-of-many in an institutional setting is a big question. With all the discussion of attachment and bonding and attachment issues on all the various international adoption venues, I don't see much discussion about situations where the types of the primary family players are vastly different. In other words: What do you do when you're a loner and your dotter is needy, and you are the focus of that need? The two needs here collide. When the dotter is needy, she does everything that pushes all my "need to be ALONE!!" buttons. She pushes. I retreat. She pushes more, because she feels abandoned. I get uptight and tense because she's pushing, touching, needing. She gets uptight and tense because I'm retreating, backing off, not wanting to be needed. She needs me. I need to get away. OmegaDad functions as a buffer between us (bless you, OmegaDad!). When he's home, the ebb and flow of need is muted, bounced between the two parental units. When I need to be alone, he can take over, and vice versa. But due to work pressures, OmegaDad has been going out in the field every other week. This leaves the dotter and I to perform our push-retreat dance all alone--with the added factor of "daddy is abandoning me, I really need you!" playing a great (though unstated) role. Add in my recent stress from work, and it turns into a pressure cooker for both of us. Add in a sudden awareness of scary situations in previously loved movies (who woulda thunk that "Mary Poppins" could scare a child into tears all of a sudden?? It never did before!), and what you've got is a disaster. All of this is why I'm posting at 3:30 a.m. (So I can be ALONE!!!) Anyone got any bright ideas? Aside from, say, counseling, which is suddenly high up on my agenda?
posted by Kate @ 7/13/2006 03:03:00 AM   10 comments

Writer's block
There are many ideas for posts flitting in and out of OmegaMom's brain these days. Unfortunately, my brain is almost completely shutdown right now; I think it's still recuperating from The Project. At work, at home, at the keyboard--a thought gets going and it gets bogged down. What The Brain needs is a vacation. Anyway, some of those flitting thoughts: I saw a white butterfly with black markings floating around the office parking lot the other day. I was going to rhapsodize about how lovely it is, but this little blurb I found makes me want to squish it instead. According to the blurb, it can, during big outbreaks, completely defoliate pines! Ack!
Another "much to my dismay" item: "A WOMAN nicknamed 'Dr Evil' who arranged the adoption of 150 Vietnamese babies to Ireland has admitted the paperwork was forged by corrupt officials. In a series of secretly recorded meetings, My Linh Soland told an Irish Independent reporter how the children's histories were invented. And she told how officials at the highest level were paid to procure paperwork or to turn a blind eye about whether the adoptions were legal or ethical." Sigh. The full story requires registration. This is just after Vietnam recently reopened to adoptions. The scandal in question is related specifically to adoptions to Ireland, and the Vietnamese adoption authorities claim that all the adoptions arranged were legal and above-board. Ahem. Right. Sounds pretty pervasive to me. So anyway, I have to fire this article off to OmegaDad and say, "Now what??"
I recently purchased some nice leather pseudo-Teva sandals to wear in the boy's section at Kohl's. They are oh-so-comfy. They also SQUEAK. Loudly. Now, squeaky shoes are one of those things that are cute (in moderation) when squeaky by intent and worn by toddlers. But at work, in certain smaller hallways, my pseudo-Tevas are embarassingly loud. It's sort of the modern-day equivalent of the leper's bell; I feel as if I should be calling out, "Unclean! Unclean!" as I march through the halls. Does anyone know of a remedy for squeaks in shoes?
A regional legend hereabouts has it that, if the monsoon rains arrive early (prior to July 4), the monsoon season itself will be short. After two weeks of lovely rainy days, starting in late June, this week the days have been relentlessly sunny, with the puffs trying vainly to grow into cumulus-type clouds. OmegaDad says that he has access to 30 years' worth of weather data, including monsoon-onset-dates, and he's thinking of doing some number crunching to see if the legend is true or not.
Speaking of OmegaDad, one of these days I'm going to pen a rant aimed at his employers. The gist: OmegaDad is a damned good, hard, creative worker, who gets things done. His employers recognize this, and so they're determined to keep him where he is, rather than allowing him to move sideways and up. I'd like to go bash them on their pointy heads.
I am yearning after next week. I hope to take the week off. If I do, I will spend the week doing nothing. Maybe The Brain will take pity on me if I do, and start revving up again.
posted by Kate @ 7/12/2006 11:44:00 PM   2 comments

The bottoms of my trousers rolled
Above is a picture of a Ditto Machine (courtesy of Grange Park Schools photo albums). That mere machine pictured above is a symbol of existential angst to me this evening. Why? Well, we had this conversation at work today... I was sitting outside with the guys, having a smoke (yes, dreadful habit, I know, I know). One of the young men was spray painting a parking curb in preparation for a new stencil job. The toxic scent of spray paint wafted our way, and the young man sitting across the picnic table from me allowed as to how he loved that smell, and how some friends thought he was weird because he liked it, and liked the smell of gasoline. I chimed in that I, too, had always loved the smell; it was like Magic Markers or dittos fresh off the press. This youngster looked at me blankly. I said, "Ditto machines? You know? Cheap copiers for school systems? Blue ink that smelled just like that when the sheets came off the drum?" He blinked. Then he said, apologetically, "Well, I'm only 21--what's a 'ditto machine'?" Just shoot me now. The other cause of my EA is this article from MSNBC, entitled "Some 'senior moments' could be Alzheimer's". Oh, joy. Meant to reassure people (I think), this article merely struck terror into me. They have a list of the symptoms of "Normal aging memory changes" versus "symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease"...and on many of them, I really couldn't tell the difference. Ever since my biochemistry started changing, about five or six years ago, there has been one particular change that has truly bothered me: my memory. In particular, my memory of words. I find myself constantly having normal, everyday words slip away from me while in the middle of conversation, so that I find myself either pausing and following an explicit chain of word associations to locate the one word I am searching for, or else I find myself using the totally wrong word and having to recall it--like an email message that is misdirected. Like saying, "Go put your clothes in the laundry basket in the kitchen", when we all know the laundry basket is in the OmegaParents' bedroom. Or "Go put it in the closet", when I mean, "go put it on the kitchen counter". The searching-for-a-word aspect is so frequent that the dotter nonchalantly fills in my blanks, she is so used to it. GreatGrandma is 102 years old. She didn't start having problems with her memory until a few years ago, and she still plays Scrabble and wins. OmegaGranny is 79; her memory is still pretty damned sharp. I find myself grasping for hope that I will follow in my maternal family's genetic footsteps. In the meantime, there is the knowledge that a key, essential ingredient of school days for me and my peers is a distant, dusty relic to the school children of today. OmegaDotter will remember faded cheap photocopies, rather than racing to the admin office to be the first to get a limp, still damp, ditto copy from the pile to hold it to her face and inhale the (no doubt toxic) fumes.
posted by Kate @ 7/10/2006 09:25:00 PM   13 comments

A game

A Game...Designed by OmegaDotter
  1. 1. Select a magnet
  2. 2. Look at the prairie dog pictures
  3. 3. Push a button on the cash register
  4. 4. Jump in and out of the corral
  5. 5. Hide in the "barn"
  6. 6. Look at the horsie picture, then jump through the hair doo-dad
  7. 7. NOW you can drive the car back and forth!
Do this many, many, many times. (Where are the puzzle pieces? Do you know? We don't! But empty puzzle boxes can be used in many different ways!)
posted by Kate @ 7/09/2006 09:24:00 AM   2 comments

Bitten by the bug
When OmegaMom looks back at her yout' in the Midwest, it is draped in a hazy fog of reminiscence. Lilacs bloom and wave and pour their scent into the air. Family gathers at Grandma's house on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and cheery voices ring out with family solidarity. The city is vibrant and exciting, charged with electricity. The sun is shining. The wind is light. We're always wandering through parks, or basking at the beach (where the lake water is [har har] temperate and pleasant to swim in), or traipsing through festivals at the park, or we're canoeing down streams or hiking through dappled woods dotted with wildflowers. Every once in a while, there's a fond reminiscence of real storms, the kind that build up for days, with heavy humid air growing heavier and more humid by the minute, and huge ominous clouds billowing overhead, until the Cold Front moves through, the wind suddenly tosses 100-year-old elms and maples like children's jacks, and the temperature drops 25 degrees in minutes. But there's something very significant missing from this sentimental mishmash of memories. Mosquitoes. Gnats. ROACHES. (Shudder) Black flies. A whole litany of creepy crawly things, ew, yech. But mostly, I forget the biting bugs that would leave me a mass of blotchy red bite bumps from head to foot. Oh, there are some biting bugs hereabouts, but mostly we don't encounter them here in Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods. They're rather rare in the entire region. But if you go hang out on a bluff above a lake in the dusky dark to watch fireworks... You'll get mosquitoes. Big, mean suckers. The kind that are portrayed in kids' cartoons as dive-bombing airplanes from WWII. Lots of them. HUNGRY mosquitoes. They didn't bother OmegaDad. They bit OmegaDotter a few times; she has some cute little red bumps here and there on her legs, but they no longer bother her. I, on the other hand, am a mass of bites all over my calves. Big, red, blotchy, itchy bites. AAARRRGGGHHHH! It's unfair. You would think that, with the changes in my body chemistry that have taken place within the past few years, the pheromonal lure that leads the buggers on would have disappeared, and left me, too, relatively immune. Nope. Nosirree. Here it is, four days later, and I constantly find myself scratching like a flea-bitten dawg, intensely, mindlessly...itchily. From experience, I know that these narsty bites will linger on for two weeks. The only saving grace here is that, unlike in the Midwest, there won't be an ongoing assault, so once they're gone, they're gone.
posted by Kate @ 7/08/2006 09:20:00 AM   3 comments

Global warming and forest fires
A recent study is trumpeting that global warming has produced dramatically more, and bigger, forest fires in the West than previously. I am skeptical. Why? Because I'd really, really like to know if they took into account the firefighting practices of 100 years ago, extrapolated them into forest growth/tree death rates, and also included population growth and expansion of urban-wild interfaces. Wally Covington, a famous forestry researcher, claims that forests of 150 years ago were much more open, more thinly populated with trees, than they are today. Fire suppression practices in the late 19th, early 20th centuries were geared towards just that: suppression. No fire was seen as a good fire. In an open forest canopy, fires tend to stay in the undergrowth, rather than crowning. Undergrowth fires are slower-burning and spread less rapidly. The undergrowth is burned away, but the trees remain, and various plant life that requires burning to scarify the seeds so the seeds can germinate get that chance to germinate. Also, smaller trees are killed due to the fires, and as the fires happen at intervals, the tree cover in a natural forest tends to top out at different levels, thus keeping crowning fires (which spread rapidly and disasterously) to a minimum (not saying they don't happen, just that they happen less often in an environment like that). The fire suppression policies of the 19th and 20th centuries, by quenching those small fires at all costs, ended up producing forests that are incredibly dense (one estimate talks of going from 40 trees per acre to more than 1000, on average). Think gardening, and thinning out plants. If you scatter the seed at planting time, it tends to clump up. Most of the seeds will sprout. If you don't thin them out, you'll end up with lots of spindly, thin plants crowded together. Translate this to the forest, and that's what you see around here: "dog-hair thickets", so-called because the trees are tall, spindly, and crowded together--excellent tinder for forest fires. Then you've got the expansion of the human population, with the urban-wild interface growing rapidly. This means you have more opportunity for just plain idiotic humans to do things like go camping on a weekend (wild forest being easy to get to for a two-day trip, rather than requiring planning and time off for a week's trip) and setting their campfires with the signs that say "Fire danger high! Campfires and open flames prohibited!" (Yes, we did, indeed, have some stupid goober do that a few years ago. He was arrested.) In a recent discussion of lowlanders not comprehending fire danger, one of my coworkers related following an expensive black BMW on the road down Way Cool Canyon and seeing the driver toss a fully-lit cigarette out the window into the roadside brush during a period of extreme dryness. My coworker took off after him, got in front of him, and stopped his car to get out to harangue him. The driver, nonplussed, said, "I didn't want to get ashes in my car." Anyway. These two factors mean (1) more opportunity for human-caused fires, and (2) more opportunity for fires to become crown fires, which are by their very nature faster, bigger, and more devastating. There's a lot of compelling stuff about global warming these days, but on this particular issue I'd like to read more about the study to determine if they were able to take these factors into account. (While I was trolling about the websites of the various organizations involved in this research, I noticed that the United States Forest Service's Southern Research Station website had one research project listed entitled "Southern Global Change Program". The link was broken. This seems especially interesting given the recent brouhaha about the administration editing research reports and websites...)
posted by Kate @ 7/07/2006 06:39:00 PM   1 comments

First Fourth fireworks
On the fourth, we trekked down the mountain to OmegaGranny's house and cooked a traditional Fourth of July meal: New York steaks, baked potatoes, and a whole mess o' fresh beets and beet greens from the OmegaGarden. Okay, if you're from a HOT area, I know the idea of baked taters on the Fourth of July is...unseemly, to say the least. I would never suggest it in, say, Chicago or Orlando or Phoenix. But it's Monsoon Season now, with thunderstorms every day (yay!), and up in the mountains, things are cool. Ahhhh. Today's high, for instance, was 71F where we live; the high yesterday in OG's area was 81F, and that was in the morning, long before we got there. The clouds blossomed to full size by the afternoon, it rained, and it was lovely and pleasant there. So. Baked taters it was. For those of you whose only experience with beets is those horrid pickled beets that get hauled out for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, all I can say is I deeply sympathize. OmegaDad, for instance, before I met him, had the culinary background of an Okie. When he was growing up, veggies were either boiled to death or straight from cans or else deep-fried. Beets were, as mentioned above, something that was canned, pickled, and served on holidays only. Fresh beets straight from the garden, with beet greens lightly cooked, all served with a touch of butter...this...this is one of the Foods of the Gods. Really. So I introduced him to the concept, and he likes it. Well, at the very least, he indulges my yearning and plants beets in the garden each year, and will actually eat two servings of B&BGs at one sitting. The dotter, however, couldn't be tempted to try them last night. Maybe next time. After the fixin's, we dithered. Should we do the fireworks or not? Dare the crowds or not? Would the dotter be awake enough or not? Would the noise scare her or not? Dither, dither, dither. This is what OmegaDotter looked like at about 9 p.m.:
Tired is the word for that look. Puffy eyed. Wanting to go home. So our plan was to drive out to where the fireworks were being held, check out the crowding scene away from the park where the 'works are actually fired off, and decide then. We drove out, scoped the scene, found a parking area off the highway near the park, where lots of people had parked, found a spot, and waited. The dotter, by now, was extremely tired:
BUT! We shuffled things around, she woke up, and "Fireworks?!" was the siren song:

I hear there are fireworks here?


WHERE are those gosh-darned fireworks?!
And then they arrived, and she was delighted--and then distracted:

Ooooh!


Ahhhhhh!


What made that noise?!?

(Alas, we have no photos of the real fireworks; the pic up above is Micro$oft clip art. OmegaDad loves to take pics of the dotter, but taking photos of what's going on around her? Oh, no. I'm trying to break him of that habit, because otherwise the dotter will have only photos of herself, without anything to put it in context.) When we drove off, she fell asleep so quickly that she was gently snoring with her head tilted to one side...and her right arm straight up in the air for the first few miles. It sank down to her side soon enough, and we drove on through the cool, damp night, back up the mountain, to our cozy log home.
posted by Kate @ 7/05/2006 06:19:00 PM   5 comments

Celebrating independence
Well, the big switchover is done. After much to-ing and fro-ing yesterday, the end result is a difference of $2.31 between the old inventory valuation and the new inventory valuation. Hallelujah! (For those who go, "Uh?! But they're not the same?!", I have two words for you: "Rounding error." This is why bank programmers can get away with embezzling big bucks--or used to. They would just stuff the rounding difference in many hundreds of thousands of transactions--millions!--and end up with a tidy sum stashed away in another account. In this case, the inventory manager is happy, I'm happy, the comptroller is happy. Ahhhh.) So, in a timely confluence of events, I am celebrating my independence from durance vile on our nation's birthday. We plan to try for fireworks tonight. The dotter, who has been kept up two nights in a row by COUSINS!!!! may actually be able to stay up for the fireworks. We shall see. Some people have a different view of Liberty and Independence than I do (via Pharyngula):
Remind you of anything? Let's make sure this doesn't really happen here; I hate veils of that type, and, besides, they give me pimples 'cause I sweat like a pig underneath all that drapery.
posted by Kate @ 7/04/2006 10:54:00 AM   2 comments

Poking my head out...
Yes, Virginia, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The inventory is transferred. The new program is up and running--at least, my little quick tests worked. I've asked for a raise and a promotion. And a week's worth of steak dinners from the manager of the warehouse... My mind is blank. Gloriously, fabulously blank. I don't have Lists running through my head (well, I do, but it's a very very small list, thank heavens). It's been raining. Lovely, beautiful rain. The forest is open again. OmegaDad, however, when I pointed this out, made noises about "good paddles" and "better way to transport the canoe" (it seems that the canoe kind of...slid...on the roof of the car when he transported it home). Next weekend, we take the Betsy for a spin.
posted by Kate @ 7/02/2006 08:50:00 PM   1 comments

About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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