April 21, 2019

Imperfect and Incomplete

Filed under: Going Places,Science,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 3:12 pm

Over the past 47 days I’ve looked up various information about our world and ourselves. And, I’ve got to say, when you really look at it, we’re in and part of a magical place. We all began as star stuff that formed and evolved under just right and unlikely conditions, and here we all are, on our Earth, on this beautiful (here in Montgomery County MD anyway) Easter Sunday.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, where I’ve come for Easter for eleven years now. And, given the line of cars I was in to get in here, a lot of other people have the same idea. And for good reason! It’s gorgeous and peaceful here, full of bright blooming flowers and budding trees. And everyone walking along the path in front of me, young and old, of any race, speaking multiple languages. Some in their Easter outfits having come here from church. Some in yarmulkes, to go on this evening to a seder. And so many others, walking among the flowers and in the sunshine.

What I see is what the world could and should be. I see the shared appreciation of a botanical garden on a spring day.

This past week, I wrote about the women scientists who despite misogyny made huge discoveries about our universe. I wrote about the bizarre iron-rich green icebergs and then some extremely dangerous but fascinating geographic and geologic features around the world. Then about some animals and their amazing abilities. And then some weird trees. Finally, some scientific articles I’d recently read, an all too small sampling of our species’ boundless creativity and innovation.

Outside this place and this day, it’s back to being reminded of all that’s wrong in the world. Even here, they have an exhibit about plastic pollution, a serious problem in need of our so very human ingenuity to solve and clean up. The diversity of the walkers in front of me is elsewhere a reason to kill and enact horrific xenophobic policies. The sexist attitudes that inhibit female scientists are still around, if much less so.

So many of these social issues are a distraction. How much energy gets wasted on ridiculous concerns like someone’s citizenship or skin color or sexual orientation or religion? How much energy is wasted on excessive accumulation of wealth and power by those with zero interest in actually using it for any greater good?

We’re humans. We are life on planet Earth. We are aware of ourselves and our place in the universe. We are the cosmos made conscious, the means by which the universe understands itself. Our presence, our existence, our progress is all a miracle. We inherited the universe in our own time to make our contribution and pass it on to those after us.

So we have to create and innovate, to cure and investigate, to fix and try again and again. We have to take care of each other and explore the world and universe around us and use it all responsibly, to do better each time. This is our sacred purpose. It’s just that simple and just that astoundingly difficult. But we can and must do it.

Happy Easter!

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that’s far too fleet.

Rush, “Freewill

March 31, 2019

We Have a Serious Drinking Problem

Filed under: Foodz,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:43 pm

A couple days ago, baseball season officially began (Go Nats!), a time of eating peanuts and hot dogs, homeruns, and yelling “why did you swing at that?! that was up to your eyeballs!”. Oh, and lots and lots of alcohol.

A couple weeks ago was St. Patrick’s Day, a day for corned beef, green apparel, and tired Irish stereotypes. Oh, and lots and lots of alcohol.

A couple months ago was the Superbowl, a day of weird commercials, salty snacks, and cheering against the Patriots. Oh, and lots and lots of alcohol.

Walk into just about any restaurant that isn’t a fast food place and open the menu. What takes up at least half the menu? Lots and lots of alcohol.

This lots and lots of alcohol in these and other contexts is all normal and familiar to us. But, if I may ask a risky question… what if it weren’t?

I mean, it’s all so normal and familiar to us that it’s easy to forget that alcohol is dangerous!

So many dead each year from drunk driving or alcohol poisoning or doing stupid shit while drunk. So much violence and abuse is committed by those under the influence. So many get addicted.

And, yet, we treat alcohol consumption as expected of adults. It’s portrayed as “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!” What must you do when faced with overwhelming stress, according to pop culture? Drink a lot! Depressed? Drink! Annoyed? Drink! Celebrating? Drink! And if you’re in a place or situation where you can’t drink, well, that’s just the worst thing in the world and you cringe at the mere idea!

Well, unless you don’t drink, but why on earth wouldn’t you drink? Are you Muslim or Mormon? Are you pregnant? Are you some stuck up loser? That seems to be the attitude, since I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to an event where there was a wide selection of wine or some spiked punch, but I ask for something without alcohol, and I get some version of “LOL water is over there, loser”. Like, is the idea that someone might not want to put this stuff into their body so unthinkable?

We’re obsessed with alcohol, so much so that we don’t realize it and find the idea absurd. But maybe it’s time we acknowledged it. Maybe it’s time we acknowledged that maybe we could do just fine without it.

I’m not advocating prohibition. Prohibition was a disaster. Alcohol is just too ingrained in our culture. That and I don’t want to see any reduction in civil liberties. What I’m suggesting is that we as a society just stop acting like alcohol is so damn important.

And, all of that said, lower the drinking age!
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February 14, 2019

Mmmm, Candy Hearts 14

Filed under: Foodz,Idiot Box,Musical Musing,Think About It!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:35 pm

It’s Valentine’s Day! Time to muse about relationships while reading and eating the candy hearts-

Oh. There aren’t any this year.

Well, that’s a let down.

You know what else is a let down? Breakups.

To varying degrees anyway. But they always suck, even when the breakup is really in the best interest of both or all involved (which might well be the case for almost all of them, come to think of it). There’s the disappointment, the loss, the uncertainty. There’s wondering what went wrong, what should have been done differently, what you’re going to do now.

That much is obvious. That really all you can do at this point is move on, whatever that means.

What’s less obvious is that, in the process of this enigmatic moving on, you’ve got to put a lot of energy into not doing anything stupid!

Even the most amicable breakups involve hurt, anger, and resentment, which must be processed and navigated in the following period of time. During this, these feelings can lead to some irrational impulses, looking for what can be done to make the emotional agony stop. And you’ve got to mentally work hard to determine what action truly is reasonable or is just something you’re deeming reasonable because the brain can’t stand all the hurt, anger, and resentment fluttering around like mosquitoes and just wants to try anything to make them go away.

You can do it! I say “whatever that means” about moving on since there’s no point where you’ve explicitly moved on, and depending on the nature of the recently ended relationship some parts may stick with you long term. And that’s okay. But eventually you’ll latch onto something else (not necessarily another love interest, just anything that captivates you), which probably won’t pull you out of this funk totally but at least it’s something else to think about.

But until you get to that point, don’t do anything stupid!

Stupid can be something like getting drunk and sending a sappy text to your ex begging to get back together. Ugh. Don’t do that. It could also be sending them an angry message ripping them to pieces. Ugh. Don’t do that either. All you do is humiliate yourself, create bad (or worse) blood, and feel like shit about that along with all the other feelings that have not improved in this.

Or for some it can get more severe than that, such as threats, self-harm, vandalism, or violence. Obviously don’t do that. Seek help if you feel even the urge to do any of that (well, seeking help in general when going through this might be a good idea, for that matter). Certainly this sort of behavior helps and accomplishes nothing. What would give you the idea to do any of this in the first place?

Oh, right, all of popular media, where super toxic post-breakup behavior is portrayed as normal and expected.

Have I mentioned how much I hate Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”? Where she sings about destroying her cheating boyfriend’s beloved car? Not cool. I mean, the car didn’t do anything wrong. And you’re looking at getting sued for damages, which, aside from the hefty bill, involves more interaction with said cheating asshole, an interaction where you’re the loser who is forced to pay him. Yikes!

I mean, I get that the song is not actually meant to encourage anyone to go out and destroy their exes’ vehicles but to capture the anger and betrayal and desire for revenge. Anyone who has been at the receiving end of this can certainly relate. Though these feelings manifest differently in different people, and this vehicular vandalism fantasy is not necessarily what someone in this position wants to hear. In fact, when someone is actually in a position of being betrayed by a loved one and is this special kind of vulnerable, is this really the kind of behavior to be encouraging, even if just in theory?

Of course, then there’s the Lily Allen video, where she sneaks laxatives into her ex’s drink and pays a gang to beat him up and ransack his apartment. Oy.

Then there’s however many sitcoms where exes bitterly hurt and sabotage each other or characters recount an ex burning their clothes or something that is completely utterly beyond the pale but is treated as if an inherent part of ending a relationship.

Then again, maybe this is supposed to be encouraging. Like “yeah, I feel bad right now, but at least I’m not doing that shit!” But what a low bar to meet!

And you most likely have it together enough not to do that shit. But when exes are so often portrayed as untrustworthy or even dangerous, how is someone processing a breakup supposed to feel? On top of it all, they get to watch someone in their position being demonized? Like, they’re going through this and their ex is with someone else already, and all of a sudden it’s, congratulations, you’re now the villain in every romantic comedy!

The object is to come through this trying time with as much grace and dignity as can be reasonably preserved, a challenge even without messages coming from all over trying to paint you as unstable.

Yup, once again, popular media can exaggerate and mislead about things.

I mean, I totally saw candy conversation hearts at Target the other day. They’re made by more than one company, you know.

December 24, 2018

Dear Santa

Filed under: Christmas Time!,The Occasional Godliness,Think About It! — Katrina @ 8:41 pm

Dear Santa,

Hi! Another Christmas is upon us, another year nearly over. Seems to go by quickly for us, but must be so much quicker for centuries-old you.

Speaking of being centuries old, hey, did you know that tonight Silent Night is 200 years old? While you’ll be on your physics-defying worldwide journey tonight, this song will once again take its candlelit place in late night services. One thing I’ve always wondered is that, if you’re a stickler about people being asleep in bed when you come by, do you make an exception for these late night festivities? I should think you do.

Of course, I don’t believe in all that stuff about you spying on everyone at all times, looking for what falls into the “naughty” or “nice” category, a painfully simplistic dichotomy when people are at all times on a spectrum between good and evil, however these are defined. Parents push this narrative to make you out to be a jerk, a tool for their perennial mind games with those they brought into the world. I mean, I imagine that must piss you off. You’re a jolly kindly soul who just wants to make everyone happy, and here people and our society as a whole are exploiting your name to commit mass emotional manipulation. Though it could of course be a whole lot worse.

Of course, come to think of it, never mind that I don’t believe in all that. Here I am, at 35 years old, writing a letter to Santa. Does this mean I believe in you at all? Shouldn’t I have outgrown this quite a long time ago?

Really, I find the whole concept of belief to be odd. Belief in Santa Claus. Belief in God. What does that mean? That I believe you to exist? Well, what does that matter? Either you exist or you don’t. Belief doesn’t affect that. What it really means is whether I believe whoever first told me you exist at all. There wasn’t any concrete proof of this, but whoever must have also said things that were demonstrably true, so maybe belief could mean I believe this to be true as well. But with a lack of evidence that can’t be otherwise explained, it’s harder to hold on to that idea. But is belief something to be held onto despite lack of evidence? I guess there’s supposed to be some virtue in this, but I wonder this is one of those virtues that really just amount to allowing yourself to be easily manipulated by others, be it parents saying Santa won’t give presents if you’re bad or preachers saying God will send you to hell if you vote Democrat.

And yet, all of that said, here I am writing you a letter, at 35 years old. Why? Should I be telling you what I want for Christmas? Maybe. Not like that annoying Grown Up Christmas List song, though. You know the one. It’s a fine song, really. Wishing for wars to never start and everyone to have a friend. Sure, that’s nice. This season is all about wishing for peace on earth and the like, so why not? Though the song does have overtones of saying kids are silly for asking for toys and shit, which is not so nice. Nothing wrong with toys all wrapped up in pretty packages. I mean, it’s not zero sum here. You can wish for a better world while still feeling that sense of joy and wonder upon seeing what’s under the tree Christmas morning. But, again, this holiday tends to be stuck with a lot of black-and-white scenarios.

So maybe I should be writing to let you know what I want you to bring me. Well, it’s kind of already Christmas Eve, so kind of a bitch move to be dropping that on you now. You defy physics as it is, but even that’s a bit much, right?

Of course, that’s just it. You defy physics, yet your legend still gives you a lot of seemingly arbitrary limitations. Like, you need a sleigh and flying reindeer? What’s with that? Is it because around the time your legend was coming into being these were the main ways of conveyance? Honestly, I think it makes much more sense to teleport. This is an idea we can imagine now, though maybe a long time ago not so much. Or at least maybe that would have made you too supernatural. In any case, it is also said you go down chimneys, even though most homes do not have chimneys and fireplaces. My house when I was little didn’t have one, but my parents said you came through the backdoor. Of course, much longer ago, most homes would have had chimneys, so your legend was made based on what was available at the time. Our world has moved past it, but our vision of you has not. Maybe our vision of you is due for a much needed update.

Then there’s you living at the North Pole. When the Winter Solstice hits, you’ve been in total darkness for like three months, halfway through it, so makes sense that’s the point where you go elsewhere for some light. But then again, you go at night, so maybe the point is moot. Do you actually live at the South Pole? At or near Amundsen-Scott Station perhaps? You’re three months into 24/7 sunlight and you need some darkness before you lose your mind. Might give the southern hemisphere some self esteem in all this. Here we are celebrating this holiday as a Winter Solstice thing, but it’s their Summer Solstice. When their Winter Solstice comes around, there’s no Christmas. Always winter and never Christmas. Like some kid was offered Turkish Delight by some witch in exchange for betraying his siblings.

Or maybe you go by Annual Gift Man and live on the moon.

Then there’s the elves who make the toys. Another outdated part of your legend. Christmas presents are generally purchased somewhere, created by some corporation by way of underpaid Asian laborers.

Maybe there’s no elves and not even a Christmas Eve journey. Maybe you just have us all do the gift giving to each other in your name. Your existence is a tenuous technicality in that you pass your giving spirit to us this season.

Still, though, it must be pretty sweet. Making everyone happy at Christmas while not having to actually interact with them. Immortality. Traveling everywhere at way beyond warp speed.

Okay, I think I know what I want for Christmas.

I want to be YOU!

Tim Allen says all I need is a slippery rooftop…

Your friend and totally honestly not usurper,

Katrina

Merry Christmas!

September 11, 2018

Never Forget What?

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Think About It! — Katrina @ 10:59 pm

We must never forget September 11th, 17 years ago today.

Though maybe we should try to remember just what it is we should be remembering.

It’s been 17 years. Certainly we can’t still act like it only just happened, though individuals may have their own feelings about it still, particularly if they were present at the attack sites or lost a loved one. After all, people who are now the age I was at the time would have no memory of it. I do remember it. I was in college. But, this far out, what does observing today mean? Some have declared it a day of service, and today some new memorials are being unveiled and ceremonies are taking place. There can be a certain connection to one’s own emotions to recall such horrific events.

But I think what we need to remember is what happened afterward. The healing, for one. The Pentagon has been repaired. The rubble has been cleared, and there are two memorial pools where the towers stood, beside the new tower, One World, which I visited two years ago.

What else?

I remember how I felt about the attack, sure. But I also remember the foreboding, wondering what would happen after this. And what did happen. There was big stuff like the “war on terror” and increased airport security and the Patriot Act. There was also the often violent scapegoating of Muslims and anyone who looked like them, with serious concerns over whether we’d see a return of internment camps. There was how for days after the attack all media outlets had turned into 24 hour news channels, disrupting usual entertainment to run footage of the attacks and George W Bush’s speeches over and over. There was how for months after the attack everything seemed to allude to us living in a “time of terror”. There was a marked increase in showy patriotism, with, once they started playing music again, radio stations playing songs like God Bless the USA all the time, and avoiding certain others. There was the insinuation that if you objected to or questioned any of this in the slightest, then you’re letting the terrorists win.

When the attacks happened, we were shocked and hurt and looking for answers. We were vulnerable.

And in the time that followed, our vulnerability was exploited.

We were kept scared while being told we were brave. We were told they could never take our freedom while we allowed our freedom to get taken by those telling us this. Our fear and anger were encouraged by those who found it useful.

And suddenly September 11th was the go-to excuse for everything for any agenda no matter how remotely if at all linked, from the War in Iraq to some truly shameless anti-drug campaigns.

I wouldn’t worry about forgetting the attacks happened. You won’t forget that.

What we must never forget is that ultimately the best way to honor those lost on that dreadful day is to heal and move on, at our own pace. And to not get swindled into supporting even more atrocities and loss of civil liberties in their name.

August 26, 2018

McCain the Honorable

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Assorted Politics,Think About It! — Katrina @ 4:21 pm

So, anyway, John McCain died.

As with any such political or otherwise high profile death, there’s the predictable and rather tiresome back and forth where some want to venerate him while others want to yell at those venerating him that he was responsible for lots of bad stuff.

I’m not interested in doing any of that. Instead, let’s have a look at this.

If you don’t feel like clicking and watching, it’s the clip from 2008 during the McCain-Obama presidential campaign (was there ever such a time?) where a woman says she doesn’t trust Obama because he’s “an Arab”. McCain shakes his head no, that he’s a “decent family man” and that his only differences with him are policy, that there is nothing to be afraid of about him.

Now what’s remarkable about this? Well, nothing really. Except the fact that, looking back on it from a decade later and in our current political climate, it seems remarkable at all.

Really, there is so much wrong in this exchange it’s hard to know where to begin. For one, this woman rather confusingly claims Obama is an Arab, because she likely thinks “Arab” and “Muslim” are just interchangeable terms referring to the exact same people. Which, of course, isn’t even close to true, with a great many people being one and not the other (including my own Christian Arab mother). But I guess I forget there are parts of this country where such distinctions never cross anyone’s mind, where people who aren’t white or black are pretty much unheard of. And that such people might be such a sizable portion from these regions that they get to ask such a question on the national stage of a presidential candidate.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being either Arab or Muslim. Just an ethnicity. Just a religion.

That’s what’s tricky with responding to such a claim. “I don’t trust Obama because he’s Arab!” He’s not Arab (or Muslim for that matter), not that there’s anything wrong with that if he were. But McCain didn’t mention that latter part (though perhaps due to time). He simply refuted any assertion that he’s dangerous or untrustworthy, with the “decent family man” comment. Not that men who are Arab and/or Muslim can’t be decent family men. Not that being a family man necessarily makes one decent, of course.

His response left something to be desired, or at least it would if not for us now being starkly aware of how much worse it could have been. I mean, we really shouldn’t be holding him up as honorable for simply doing the bare minimum of decency in refuting such assumptions about his opponent, in trying to keep it about policy rather than racist paranoia. That’s what he should be doing. It’s not extraordinary. What’s extraordinary is that he even needed to. What’s extraordinary is that, in that video, when McCain uttered his defenses of Obama from these weird assertions, the crowd grumbled and booed.

Instead, all we can think now is how the Orange Thing would and does handle such questions.

Of course, McCain has been a vocal critic of the Orange Thing, so lately he’s had that going for him as well, if he perhaps could have done more to stop him. Though, again, that should not be extraordinary, since everyone should be against the Orange Thing. What’s extraordinary is that most Republicans have fallen in line behind the Orange Thing, with McCain and a few others being the exceptions to varying degrees.

Perhaps you could still say McCain is honorable in the sense that he’s mostly if imperfectly resisted the temptations to paint Obama as dangerous and the Orange Thing as not dangerous. But really it’s all a sign of just how low the bar is set now.

This has been Day 95 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 18.

July 4, 2018

This Is Not Who We Are

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Assorted Politics,Think About It! — Katrina @ 10:03 pm

On July 22, 2016, around the time of the Republican National Convention, I posted this to Facebook:

I spent my 4th of July evening on a plane flying home from across the country. When the sun was out, I saw craggy desert that gave way to the Rocky Mountains that became flat farmlands. When it got dark, far below me, blinking on and off all over like lots of multicolored fireflies, were the fireworks shows. From above, on its special night, I watched my country sparkle. And under the sparkling were the people, in all the various terrains within our borders, from all walks of life, enjoying a cozy summer evening and watching bright flashy colors across the sky, saying “ooh” and “ahh” and “oh, look, a plane”. Diverse yet with a common bond. That’s who we are. That’s what it means to be American.

Yet, we have a presidential candidate and the major political party behind him peddling paranoia, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, and violence. Worse still, these things are being touted as “American”, that these things are not only desirable but are part of our national identity, that they are what makes us “great”. And the thing is, as the primaries have shown us, this is resonating. Maybe it’s because so many, of any political persuasion, whether in support or against, really are buying the idea that this is what it means to be American.

So let’s maybe drop that idea already. It is a dangerous lie. Don’t lend it any credence. We’re a diverse land and people who value freedom and human rights and other nice stuff like that. And when some ultra-narcissistic loudmouth seeks the highest office in the land by supposedly speaking for us all when he promotes fear and hate and the ugly manifestations thereof, we have to say NO! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN! THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!

The Orange Thing’s campaign seemed like a bad parody of white conservative American intolerance, from the longing for some imagined “great” past to the hostility toward Hispanic and Muslim immigrants, with the explicit notion that those white conservatives who have these beliefs are the only “real” Americans, that the rest of us either don’t exist or aren’t important or don’t belong in our own country. The rest of us make up the vast majority of the country, and surely, I and so many others thought, what he’s saying is so blatantly toxic and against everything we’re about.

But then, on the night of November 8, 2016, I reshared that post with the added comment:

THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!

*looks at electoral map*

…right?

The following January, a few hours after Orange Thing made it official in front of probably anyone, at a resistance event at WES, I read the above post in the open mic portion. In person, through a microphone, with my actual voice, to a room full of people, I recited: “…And when some ultra-narcissistic loudmouth seeks the highest office in the land by supposedly speaking for us all when he promotes fear and hate and the ugly manifestations thereof, we have to say NO! SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN! THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE!” Followed by a round of applause.

It’s a year and a half later, and so so so much has happened, much of which I don’t even remember because it’s been one thing after another with this administration. There isn’t exactly anything great going on, that’s for sure.
(more…)

February 14, 2018

Mmmm, Candy Hearts 13

Filed under: Think About It!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 9:41 pm

“U R CUTE” Aww, thanks, candy heart.

“EMAIL ME” I have such a backlog already though.

“TRUE LOVE” Yeah, that’s a great way to get swindled by a Prince of the Southern Isles.

Happy Ash Valentines! Enjoying the candy hearts and still going meatless today despite having walked away from Christianity nearly a decade ago. In 47 days, we’ll be looking for colored eggs that might turn out to be an overshaken Duff beer can.

Anyway, here’s the thirteenth installment of this, the annual glance at love and relationships and how people seem to deal with them.

Let’s see…

Ever notice how basically everybody seems to think they are unlucky with relationships? I mean, that’s the trouble with love, in that we’re all built to some degree to crave the hell out of it, so of course it will more often than not feel lacking. And for very many people, well, this is absolutely true, that pairing up with someone for a while seems to happen almost as often as a transit of Venus.

But for others, they’re all like “no one wants me” and the proper response is “dude, you dated like three people this year and it’s only April”. Perhaps none of those dates progressed into anything else, and that’s certainly frustrating. But other times, you just wonder what they’re comparing themselves to.

It’s one of those times you must say… you know TV isn’t real, right?

I mean, if you’re comparing yourself to basically any sitcom character, where even the “losers” seem to not have any trouble getting dates and sex, yeah, of course you’re going to feel like a romantic failure. That TV show or movie is a fantasy, playing on a very universal insecurity where the only winners would be aromantic asexuals if this weren’t yet another occurrence of their existence being denied. Because of writers seeking widespread appeal and ability to identify with the characters in a given situation, they make characters whose lives revolve around their dating lives, with everything else secondary, whereas one’s entire worth has everything to do with how well they conform to an unrealistic standard of romantic or sexual frequency.

Maybe it’s kind of like how the fashion and other industries set unrealistic beauty standards, undermining the inherent worth of those whose appearance doesn’t conform. Where, like how they need to acknowledge more diverse body types to allow those with different bodies to feel beautiful, maybe we need characters with more diverse types of relationships, so that someone who spends six consecutive months single isn’t made to feel they shouldn’t exist. Or, hell, just more media without any romantic plotlines. Not that there’s anything wrong with romance, of course. Just that there’s more to life.

Then again, everyone knows TV shows aren’t real and neither are the relationships depicted. Perhaps the feelings of romantic inadequacy stem from real life or at least a perception thereof. And it’s understandable, because, for all its faults and all the bullshit, when there’s a connection there with someone, it’s no exaggeration that everything is amazing and beautiful and all is right with the world. For a little while anyway. Reality always forces its way back into the picture, whatever it may be. But when it’s good it’s so very good. So of course when media and culture and friends and family say this so very good thing will definitely come to you if you’re worthwhile, and when reality doesn’t sync up, you wonder that maybe you’re not worthwhile after all. Perhaps with the unfortunate side effect of casting ridiculous aspersions on desired objects of affection.

It’s all such a mess. But we still have these candy hearts and their messages.

“SOUL MATE” Wait, do candy hearts have souls? I have made a terrible terrible mistake…

December 14, 2017

The Actual Innocence

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 7:01 pm

Five years ago today, Sandy Hook happened.

Several children who should be navigating middle school right now instead had their short lives come to an abrupt and tragic end because some shithead came into their classroom and opened fire on them for some reason.

In the above post on the day it happened, I lamented this loss of life, wondering, as I said, what they could have ever done to anybody. After all, at their age, one is new to the world and still figuring things out and likely hasn’t gotten to the point of causing any deep and deliberate harm to others like those older have. Not that it’s ever okay to kill anyone, of course, but with kids, it’s hard to see any rationale for it. An adult might have deliberately ruined your career or betrayed you in some severe way or what have you. Again, not that the killing is okay, but you can see how one so distraught might decide it’s the thing to do. With kids, they aren’t capable of doing anywhere near the damage to others that adults are.

After all, children are innocent.

And that is what the innocence of children actually is. Innocence is the opposite of guilt. It refers to what the children themselves have or have not done, and how good or evil their intentions. This varies by child, as children are individuals, and there’s no specific point where one goes from “childhood innocence” to “adult asshole” as it’s a gradual progression depending on one’s specific life and circumstances and experiences. But any innocence refers to the individual’s intentions and actions.

As such, it has nothing to do with something being done to said innocent child, nor does it have anything to do with said innocent child’s knowledge of the world.
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November 30, 2017

The First Thanksgiving

Isn’t there anyone who knows what Thanksgiving is all about?!

Sure, I can tell you what Thanksgiving is all about. Lights, please?

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

This is Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863, officially declaring Thanksgiving a holiday, continuing to this day, changed only when FDR made it the fourth November Thursday rather than last, so we celebrated a week ago rather than today.

There were earlier proclamations of specific thanksgiving days with very similar text by earlier presidents here and there, but Lincoln’s is about where it was mostly set as an annual thing where it still is now.

What I don’t see is anything about the pilgrims at Plymouth. About two and a half centuries earlier. It’s mentioned at the above link, but also mentioned is there were numerous such feasts through the then colonies around the time.
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October 31, 2017

It’s Not Your Candy

Filed under: Foodz,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 10:33 pm

Happy Halloween!

Anyway…

No.

Stop. Don’t touch it. It’s not yours.

Earlier tonight, the kids traversed their neighborhoods in their awesome costumes and visited their neighbors with a familiar chant in hopes of a yummy treat (specifically Nerds, Starbursts, and Skittles if they came to my door!). Afterward, they went on home, checked everything for tampering for fear of the urban myth about poison or razor blades in candy suddenly actually happening, and at long last chowed down. Yay!

All this candy in the hands of kids? What are parents to do?

Nothing. It’s not theirs.
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February 14, 2017

Mmmm, Candy Hearts 12

Filed under: Think About It! — Katrina @ 9:33 pm

“IM YOURS” Yes, candy heart, I suppose you are. Lucky you.

“YES” What are you replying to? Or is this open-ended?

“KISS ME” Well, you’ll pass between my lips in the course of being devoured, so close enough.

Ah, it’s Valentine’s Day again. How nice. Last year, by which I mean like four posts ago since I’ve been neglecting this thing, I finally said screw it and tore love itself apart. And it deserved it, that bastard. Masquerading so long as being pure and good and something that will trump hate, someone had to say it.

I believe I’ll take a different tack today, however.

When in love, there’s this urge to place object of said love on a pedestal, to see everything this person says or does as brilliant or amazing. Something that you just sort of come to expect and work to see through it. It makes no sense. This person isn’t brilliant. They’re totally full of shit and they know it and really you know it.

And then you know you know it. Then what?

You find you still love that pile of shit anyway, that’s what. Whether it’s in the form of wanting to kiss them or being deliriously happy when around them or wanting to fight over money and dinner plates for life, you still feel it nonetheless despite them being very clearly full of shit.

Not that this is really a beautiful thing. I mean, this is also how abusive relationships continue. But let’s say there’s no abuse here. It’s just seeing human imperfections for what they are. This pile of shit that has won your affections for some reason is, after all, human. Just like you. Such an important common ground!

So you two piles of shit, enjoy your evening!

I’ll sit here with my candy hearts.

“U R SWEET” I think you’re the sweet one, being made of sugar. I’m made of other stuff.

“MARRY ME” Eh, why not? Could be the start of a long relationship- Or not, I just ate you. I must be part spider.

“TRUE LOVE” Ah, but we just met. You have yet to see through my nonsense. Give it time- Or not, I just ate you.

February 14, 2016

Mmmm, Candy Hearts 11

Filed under: Think About It!,What the hell? — Katrina @ 7:47 pm

“MY LOVE” What a sweet little candy heart you are!

“URS 4 EVER” Damn, candy heart, slow down!

“LET’S KISS” Well, you’re going into my mouth anyway. Close enough.

“NO WAY” Oh, well, can’t win them all. 🙁

Oh, hello. Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s time once again for the tradition that began ten years ago today, when I sit here and eat these candy hearts and gripe about romantic relationship stupidity.

I’ve said in the past that it’s people’s behavior and expectations around relationships and their partners that I take issue with, and that love itself isn’t what I’m against. That love itself really is pure and good.

I’ve changed my mind. Love is fucking stupid.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say it isn’t a good thing at all, that it is terrible, and really we should be recognizing it as the affliction that it is.

Love is a destructive illusion that causes terrible behavior and misery. When you’re in love, sure, everything feels all warm and sweet. At first. Then something goes wrong, and now all those warm and sweet memories turn to poison, no longer making you happy but only sad and angry. Someone who was once a source of comfort and joy is now just a reminder of shame and loss. You believed you felt some strong spiritual connection, but the bubble burst, and you feel more isolated than ever before.

People have a way of reacting badly to this, from making total asses of themselves in front of their object of affection and others to outright harmful or abusive behavior. Yeah, I’m not seeing the beauty here.

Maybe we should just remove “love” from our vocabulary altogether. Maybe just cut straight to what you actually mean when you say you love someone. Maybe instead of “I love you” it could be “I want to spend time with you” or “I’m deliriously happy when I’m with you” or “I want to kiss you” or “I want to have sex with you” or “I don’t wish you any specific harm” or “I want to buy a house with a nice yard and fight with you over money and dinner plates for the rest of my life” (also known as “will you marry me?”). In any case, maybe the only real response to a declaration of love is “yeah, and?”

I mean, it’s a loaded and muddy word. It distracts from what specifically is going on. It inflates importance of what’s being felt, adding some artificial divine quality, which really serves only to make it hurt so much more when it goes wrong, that the very essence of life itself has failed you. It’s just not worth it. There are much better uses of time and energy.

If only it were that simple. I get so afflicted just as anyone else.

Oh, well. There’s always the candy hearts!

“I-M SURE” Well, heart, most people aren’t sure of much of anything. You’re lucky.

“YOU ROCK” Awww, thanks!

“XOXO” I fucking hate that Elle King song.

December 23, 2015

Presence of Presents

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:57 pm

I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m sick of people complaining about Christmas being “materialistic” or some crap. That we focus too much on presents and not enough on Jesus or family or something like that. As if these things are mutually exclusive or something.

But presents are not only, you know, gifts. They’re wrapped and under the tree and not to be opened until Christmas morning. They’re a mystery!

And isn’t that just like the coming year? The future? That the future is just there all mysterious and just waiting to be revealed. Could be everything you wanted. Could be disappointing. Could actually be a live cobra for some reason. Could be nothing you expected but everything you needed.

Okay, I’m making this up, but it sounds cool.

December 17, 2015

Meaning of Christmas

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:33 pm

Yeah, we’ve all heard the “Jesus is the reason for the season” types. What this holiday and season is about is awfully contentious for something that we can at least agree is supposed to be about peace and love.

But I’m not disagreeing with that statement.

Yes, Christmas is about Jesus. There’s no question about that.

It’s just that it’s ALSO about Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, trees, presents, cookies, cards, lights, holly, the Grinch, mistletoe, carols, candles, cookies, garland, tinsel, Charlie Brown’s sad little tree, gingerbread houses, snow, light, dark, stars, cookies, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, candy canes, leg lamps in the living room bay window, elves, the Griswolds, Rudolph, cookies, Ebenezer Scrooge, feasting on roast beast, the Polar Express, ribbons, wrapping paper, George Bailey, cookies, trains, stockings, sleigh bells, Yule logs, Nutcrackers, poles, Saturnalia, Solstice, cookies, those weird wreath hats with the candles they wear in Sweden, that cake they eat in Japan, Grandfather Frost, Jack Frost, chestnuts, and, of course, peace, love, joy, hope, and giving. And cookies.

And what the hell is wrong with that? 😛

December 14, 2015

Unchecked Power

Ever notice how our world seems to give unchecked power so much benefit of the doubt? Or, well, I suppose that’s true by definition as, if it weren’t given benefit of the doubt, then it wouldn’t be unchecked.

Look at some of the reactions in cases of police brutality. “Oh, well, he must have done something wrong for the police to have gone after him in the first place. They wouldn’t beat him up or shoot him for no reason.” You know, because apparently if a police officer so much as looks at you, it just makes sense to these people that you might as well kiss your ass goodbye, rather than, you know, saying “hey, this is wrong!” like any decent person would.

There’s also child abuse. Parents have near limitless power over their children, which very much allows for abuse, and abuse is very much rampant, but when it happens, you get reactions like “oh, well, the kids are probably exaggerating or outright lying, just ungrateful brats who probably deserved it, all parents love their children!” Ignoring that, for one, no they fucking don’t, and that they have no actual reason to believe the kids are lying, or to know for sure either way for that matter. But what is known is that parents who want to commit unspeakable crimes against their children could do so very easily, and pretending they just don’t or wouldn’t is very dangerous.

Then there’s war crimes. A hospital or school or the like gets bombed, killing a bunch of innocent civilians. And what’s the response? “Oh, well, that’s war for you. Sometimes civilians get killed. In fact, they probably weren’t so innocent and were likely hiding the bad guys so they probably deserved it.” Based on absolutely nothing. Just more of avoiding the necessary task of calling out what’s horribly wrong and instead trying to justify it.

Know what else? God! If an omnipotent God allows all of the above and more and worse to happen, who’s telling him to knock that shit off? It’s always “God works in mysterious ways! Everything happens for a reason! God loves us!” Yeah, meanwhile, somewhere in the world, a four-year-old girl just died of an infection caused by a ritual genital mutilation, but sure, yeah, loving omnipotent God we should continue worshiping.

True, a lot of this comes from feeling helpless, seeing many of these forces not as always right but as all-powerful and therefore there’s no choice but to assume rightness. And just plain not knowing how to change anything and finding it easier to tell the victims that they were the ones who were wrong, to give the illusion that we have more control over our fates than we actually do. But we can understand that tendency and still acknowledge it’s wrong. I mean, you don’t need to know exactly how to make a certain change in order to speak up about what’s wrong. Shit, if you had to, about 90% of those protesting or raising awareness about just about anything would be out of work! But there’s bad things happening. Acknowledge that they are bad and quit making excuses for them.

December 10, 2015

Baking Cookies

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Decrees!,Foodz,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:06 pm

I hereby decree…

Baking cookies is the happiest activity there is.

Well, it is. Just say the words. Baking cookies. See, there’s a smile!

Saying “let’s bake cookies!” conveys joy and excitement. It’s not like anyone ever says “ah damn it, I’m stuck baking some fucking cookies!” Just plain doesn’t happen.

There’s all kinds of ways to make cookies. Lots of room for experimenting! And what’s more fun than experimenting with different ways to create a tasty treat? Nothing, that’s what!

And after all that fun with trying different ingredients and methods, you end up with cookies! Yay! 😀

December 4, 2015

One Time a Thing Occurred to Me

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:43 pm

So you’ve probably heard that Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots died late last night.

So ends an iconic voice of 1990s music.

I’ve seen them in concert a couple of times. Wouldn’t call myself a big fan, but I definitely like a few of their songs. Particularly “Vasoline”. In any case, STP has clearly been an important part of the 1990s soundtrack of our lives, I suppose.

Think about it. Making music that affected people in so many ways, just as all other musicians. But also and more extraordinarily being sort of an essential piece of the scene of their time. It’s art. It’s part of culture. It generates emotions and such in people. That’s something special.

Scott Weiland was only 48, but, aside from at least making it way past 27 unlike so many others like him, he still added something to this world. Just like all other musicians. Just like all other artists. I suppose we all can only hope to do something like that, to any extent.

April 28, 2015

Death by Paper Cut

Filed under: Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:18 pm

So I was putting away some paperwork the other day when my left hand grazed the side of a folder sitting in an upright organizer. A sheet of paper inside that folder was poking out the side at that moment. Sure enough, I grazed the side of it so lightly yet just right that the paper sliced into my left ring finger.

Gah! Paper cut!!!!

I’m cringing at the memory. As are you, since you’ve had a paper cut and holy crap they suck!

Every time I get a paper cut or some other stupid incident that results in some minor bloodshed, I start to think… what if this is what kills me? Like if the cut got infected with some super resistant form of bacteria and I wound up dead from sepsis.

Aside from the death, which would suck in and of itself, there’s the shame of such a pathetic death. What if there is an afterlife? What if I’m hanging out with some other dead souls and they share how they died, whether heroically saving people during a storm or simply succumbed after a long battle with cancer? They’ll be all like “So what happened to you?” And I’d have to be like “Well, I got a paper cut that got infected and killed me just shy of my 32nd birthday.” And then they’d avoid me. I’d only be allowed to associate with those who died from choking on a hot dog or something. For all of eternity.

Or even back in life, when people ask “aww, how did she die?”, friends and family would be like “from an infected paper cut”. It’d probably be on my tombstone. In my obituary. It would overshadow just about anything else about me. Something about working in biotech or being a youth rights advocate? Nope. Dead by paper cut!

So I guess, if death by paper cut is even remotely a possibility, we should live our lives in such a way that we’d be remembered for something other than this pathetic death. Which is a rather tall order. Murder people by giving them paper cuts perhaps? That’d certainly solve some problems, but may create others.

March 30, 2015

Lion and Lamb

Filed under: Think About It! — Katrina @ 5:51 pm

So we’ve all heard that saying about the month of March. That it “goes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb”. The idea is that the month begins with harsh wintry weather and ends with mild spring weather.

Yeah, I call bullshit. I mean, if anything, it’s the other way around.

What do lambs look like? They’re gentle, soft, white, and fluffy. You know what else is gentle, soft, white, and fluffy? Snow! In fact, it’s right there in that rhyme, that Mary had a little lamb “whose fleece was white as snow”. Not whose fleece was, say, like airborne pollen that will have you sneezing for the next four months.

What about the lion? Well, what do lions do? Other than lie around all day and plot regicidal wildebeest stampedes. That’s right. They roar! Know what else roars? Thunder! Know when we get lots of thunderstorms? Spring!

In white and fluffy like a lamb, out roaring like a lion. Much more accurate.

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