Nov. 4th, 2011

SL
 The talk of the Internets the last few days has been that Texas judge who beat his daughter. He lives down here in the Armpit, a couple of ports over. Son Unit is vaguely acquainted with the young woman-- they both recently worked at the same anime con. It's of no relevance other than to bring the issue in even tighter focus for us. This isn't stuff that just happens to random strangers on the Internets or in the newspapers. It happens at friends houses, and friends of friends. It makes it even more shockingly real for my kids, who have never been beaten or spanked in their lives. 

We don't hit or spank or really even mete out much punishment at my house, and we never have. There are consequences to be faced for inappropriate or bad behavior and actions, but we're not a punishment-run family. My kids haven't been spanked, and they also haven't been grounded or had their possessions seized for an unrelated reason. (I might take away the nerf gun if you shoot the dog with it, but I'm not going to take away the nerf gun because you were mouthy at me.) People tell me this is madness, but I refuse to be a jailer. I treat my kids with kindness and respect and insist that they treat me and other people with the same. Maybe that wouldn't work for most families. I have no idea. I just know that the whole spanking thing wouldn't work for me and I would say that this video is a pretty good illustration of it not working elsewhere.

I had my son watch part of the spanking video. He managed about 2 minutes of it before he couldn't watch any more. Son Unit is 17 years old. In coming years he might decide to have a family of his own, and I want him to be aware that this is the way some families work, and hopefully not marry in to one of them.
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McCoy's Place

SL
 Once when I was about 11 years old, I hiked with a friend of mine out near the river near home. We came upon the burnt out remains of a once spectacular house. Built of dressed stone and heavy timber, at some point it must have been something to see. Given its condition, it had been burnt out for decades. When I asked my dad about it, he said that it was "the old McCoy Place". I asked him what happened, and he wouldn't say other than something Very Bad had happened and what followed wasn't right.

Today I stumbled across the info that the McCoy in question was Tim McCoy, an actor from the early days of black and white Western movies. He supposedly sold his place sometime in the 30s and never returned to the state afterwards, even though he had been adopted by the Arapaho tribe there and had held some fairly important political positions. At first I thought maybe it had to do with his Nazi second wife, but he married her after he left. So far I haven't been able to casually bring up any hint of scandal or crime associated with him. From my dad's story, whatever it was was definitely handled by posse justice, so perhaps no whisper or record of it exists outside of the memories of the people who were there. They are most likely all deceased at this point too, more's the pity.

There is the chance that whatever happened there happened after Tim McCoy sold out in the 30s and had nothing to do with him. But that's not my dad's story. His story was of frontier justice gone awry, wrongly accused dude getting tossed (in a sack!) into the river for something he didn't do and barely escaping with his life. I always thought he meant the McCoy of "McCoy's place", but perhaps not. He was shy about the details, and his final pronouncement was "a bad business". Grim indeed considering my dad loved to tell stories and had no problem repeating fun gossip. One way or another, McCoy got divorced, ceded part of his ranch to his ex-wife, held on to the rest for a while but never returned, even given his strong ties to the area and its people. My curiosity is up and likely to remain frustrated!
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Aug. 1st, 2011

SL
  This entry was originally posted at http://spaceoperadiva.dreamwidth.org/38860.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
SL
 Today's VNS assignment was to select a prompt from Lovecraft's Commonplace Book. All writing people should have their very own Commonplace Book, I think. Here's the venerable Mr. Lovecraft's over at La Petite Claudine.

I selected: 30 Strange visit to a place at night—moonlight—castle of great magnificence etc. Daylight shews either abandonment or unrecognisable ruins—perhaps of vast antiquity.

VNS also linked up to Bruce Sterling's annotations or Lovecraft vs 21C, which is wicked funny. Sterling's 21st Century comment on the prompt that I chose-- Real Estate Crisis!

I did the "Summer Sequel" assignment on my homeschooling blog. Don't know exactly why I decided to put it over there, but there it is.


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The Deceptive Gulf

SL
 Yesterday as I drove with the Daughter Unit along Shoreline Drive, we were amazed by the ocean. The previous evening, we could see the lights over the bay at Ingleside. The next day, the air remained uncharacteristically clear and we could see things out across the water that are usually shrouded in haze-- Ingleside, drilling equipment, markers for the ship lanes. The air and water were very still. Only the slightest of ripples disturbed the bay water and not even the high tops of the palms moved. After a week of high wind and crashing surf, this was quite a change. We regretted for a moment that we had dance class and couldn't go to the beach.

Last night on the news, I heard about our second beach fatality in under a month. A couple of weeks ago a twelve year old drowned in the rip currents, yesterday it was an adult. Conditions can vary depending on where you are on the Armpit, and while the water might look calm, it might not be calm under the surface. One beach can be reasonably safe while a couple miles down the road, it's totally treacherous on the same day.

I was saying to a friend the other day that the gulf seems small and tame compared to the "real" oceans. Even so, it is a wilderness of water and not a swimming pool or bath. As such, we must respect it or pay the price. 
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Still Standing

SL
 Earlier this week I converted my desk to a standing up arrangement. So far it's not going too badly. In the meantime, There's a 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge going on this month, which is hosted in part by I'm Still Standing (no relation to the first concept) and the Secret to Success Girls. Yesterday was "do a list post day" and I did do a list post, Ten Roman Women You Should Know About, which took about 5x longer than it should have to assemble. Clearly I am missing something about list posts and how to make them "easy" and "fun". Well, I hope the list is fun for the reader if not for me, at least. I'm trying again here.

5 Things I've Learned About Stand Up Desks
  1. Wear good shoes, or get a mat. If you're over 2 years old, the standing in one place thing gets hard on the feet fast. By good I mean supportive and cushy. I'm currently wearing Airwalks Croc rip offs and they're great.
  2. Move around. My back doesn't get tired nearly as fast if I shift in place, remember to walk around occasionally, etc.
  3. Lower abs! Speaking of back pain, standing up is really giving my lower abs a good workout. But OTOH, for all of us who have had desk type jobs for the last decade or so, this is going to take some conditioning.
  4. It's hard to think standing up. I was trying to work on some fiction the other day, and standing up feels "wrong" for plotting. I'm sure I'll get over this just like I got over switching computers. Used to be that switching back and forth from the desktop to the laptop nixed my story mojo. I got over that, I figure this "can't think on my feet" thing shall also pass.
  5. I waste far less time online. It's way easier to watch that 3rd cute LOLCat video when you're sitting down.
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Standing Up, Day One

SL
 Not for some cause this time, at my desk. Yesterday evening my ever-indulgent husband helped me raise the computer desk up onto blocks (yeah, at our house we have computers up on blocks instead of junk cars!). And so begins my experiment of working at the computer standing up. Right on time for that, I got my period, along with a period-induced terrible backache to launch my new experiment with! Trial by fire, I guess. I am noticing that I might have to wear shoes as my heels hurt a bit. Going to try my croc-like shoes and see if that works. Shoe wearing is not something we do a lot of on the 3rd Coast. I may have to get a super squishy floor mat instead.

Why a stand up desk? A combination of this Sitting Will Kill You article, someone else blogging about the subject of standing at his desk, and a desire to have less visceral fat (that's fat deep in your abdomen, around your organs). We burn more calories standing than sitting, and for me, my back usually hurts less when I stand than when I sit anyhow. Except for days like today.
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Shameless Self-Promotion

SL
 And in honor of my whinging about no one paying attention to me, I have a guest post on Patheos.com. There are several other very interesting posts on the same subject, which is about whether the label "Pagan" is actually useful or not.

It all started with this interesting article from Drew Jacob: Why I am not a Pagan.

See the link/guest post roundup Here.
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SL
My son joined the Civil Air Patrol as a cadet last fall, which is a bit like junior ROTC. So far he's done quite well and learned a lot. Probably one of the most important things he's learning is people politics. Among the adults, there are a few power games going on not so behind the scenes. Among the cadets, there's the constant race to out-rank each other. Some of what goes on seems frustrating and unfair to my fair obsessed, rule-following mutant. Like his friend who's also in jrROTC can rank up twice as quickly as he can, even though he doesn't try particularly hard at either jrROTC or at CAP. That means the friend gets honors and privileges, like being chosen (on basis of rank) to carry the US flag for parade even though it's even odds whether he'll actually show up or not.

I point out that it's the rules, it's the system; it's good training for the military since he's obsessed with joining the Air Force. The military isn't fair, nor is it solely the meritocracy it pretends to be. Whinging won't change that.

Overall he likes CAP and it challenges him to think. One of the senior (adult) members who is in charge of cadet recruitment is a cranky old lady who used to be a drill instructor in her youth. She's very enthusiastic about CAP, hugely generous with the cadets in a variety of ways, and she scares the ever-loving crap out of 99.9% of them. They do not get where she's coming from and she's a little nutty. But without her help, Boy Unit and the others wouldn't have made it to Encampment (CAP cadet camp) or been able to do several other things. So now he has to figure out how to maneuver around her and keep her from scaring off new cadets (she seems to have frightened off about four interested parties in the last few months) without setting her off or behaving like an ingrate.

And yes, dear friend (you know who you are), I am minding my own business and keeping the advice down to a bare minimum. I trust him to work through this on his own. Even though I'm very conflicted about his desire to join the military, I will support his decision and help him in any way I can, including letting him learn his own lessons about how to deal with difficult persons and the Way Things Work. Harder on me than on him, I suspect. :)

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When Mental Illness and Magic Collide

SL
 On a semi-public druidic mailing list that I belong to, someone was describing their experience with a ritual with bonding with a grove of trees. So far, nothing too alarming in that. I don't think that one can really "bond" with trees, for values of bonding that seem to run parallel to human marriage or adoption, but to each their own. Perhaps this person is simply much more in tune with the trees than I am.

Then her post took a turn for the alarming. She believes that her spirit has been converted from human to tree spirit, and it's just a matter of time before she's sucked into the grove as a sapling or resident spirit or something. I couldn't quite puzzle out if she thinks she's been transformed into an actual tree in a human body, or whether she thinks she is now like a wood nymph. She's equal parts proud and alarmed by this event. I'm not sure which impulse is stronger in her, but she does seem to be looking for advice on how to weaken the bonds at least enough that she doesn't feel immanent demise of her human body coming upon her.

Assuming this isn't simply a bit of attention getting rhetoric meant to alarm/amuse/troll the druids, yikes. I'm not a mental health professional and I'm not going to play one online, but that does not sound sane even by my generous definition of sane, which includes people who have strange powers, talk to ghosts and Gods and have meaningful personal relationships with pets, crystals and their koi pond.

One of the things that worries me about the pagan community at large is that we don't have a lot of resources to deal with insane pagans. One hesitates to send them to a Christian psychologist or psychiatrist and it's likely to be ineffective anyhow if they're confronted with someone who not only wants them to get "better" but also to destroy their spiritual world view. And yet this seems like a woman in serious, life-threatening distress here. I view remaining alive as an item of some importance, so it's hard for me to look on her notion that her human body is going to the discarded by the group mind of the trees that is sucking her into their circle as a good thing. Taking all of that at face value, I guess she wouldn't really be dead, but her human self would be dead and this seems not good to me, especially since she's ambivalent about it.

I have no idea what anyone can do for these people. This makes me sad. I've been watching some people prescribe magical remedies which may fix her immediate "trees are turning me into a tree!" thing, but it seems to me that this problem is probably the sign of some other, greater problem and any magical solution is going to be a bandaid on a severed artery.
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