Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Squeaky wheels

I used to hide my opinions. I used to get slightly embarrassed when I’d be talking to someone about a controversial topic and start to get riled up. My more intense emotions, I felt were incredibly intimate, and only shown to a few privileged friends & family. It seemed rude, somehow to inflict my outrage on others. The squeaky wheel getting the grease, in action. I hate the squeaky wheel. Just because someone is loud doesn’t make their opinions or feelings any more valid than any anyone else’s.

I don’t know if this is a cultural thing or a family thing, or just my own freaky attempt at doing unto others… I for one get rather annoyed when someone else inflicts their unsolicited opinions and vitriol on me. So I try very hard to not inflict mine on them. Over the years, however that feeling ended up being reinforced by personal feelings of inadequacy (i.e. “guys don’t like loud, strident women” and “a good professional should keep their personal opinions to themselves”) and percolated down to the point where I would stifle my opinions even in the face of someone who was making absolutely no effort to extend the same courtesy to me. Because I was raised to respect the right of everyone to their own opinion, no matter how much I disagreed with what they had to say.

Well no more. Not the respecting others opinions part, but the being so timid in meeting those loud opinions with my own – loudly, clearly and yes, if the mood strikes, emotionally. If nothing else this election has shown me that my silence can be deadly. As much as I hate it, the squeaky wheel isn’t going anywhere. In today’s culture, an opinion unvoiced is an opinion that does not exist and gets no respect. I can respect someone else’s right to theirs while loudly shouting mine to the rooftops. And that’s what it’s going to take. Because for too long, we on the left have let the blowhards on the right have their say without offering any contrary voices of our own and they’ve become arrogant as a result, hearing their own views echoed back to them in the inevitable silence of the public airwaves and around the water coolers of America. We’re extending them a respect that they sure as hell don’t plan to reciprocate.

That needs to stop. Now. I’ve started by engaging my ditto head coworkers whenever they start bashing progressive ideas (which they do on a daily basis). Letting myself get pissed. Letting them not only see my outrage but be forced to deal with it, goddammit. I thought after the election the liberal bashing would stop. So for the sake of peace (and my blood pressure) before then I’d let it slide, volunteer more and picked my battles very, very carefully. But I was wrong. It didn’t stop. It just moved from the national level to the local level. Instead of Kerry they’re now bashing the City of Portland and it’s progressive government/ culture and I’ve had it.

I’m finding that outrage properly expressed is an extremely effective tool. Once they meet some legitimate emotional resistance to their caustic blathering they tend to shut up. Who’da thunk?

Friday, November 26, 2004

It must be Thanksgiving. I received what is rapidly turning into a yearly fishing email from ex flame yesterday. Last time this year he emailed to see if I'd gotten married yet. Yep. This year he wants to know if I'm knocked up yet. Yep. And as usual, no response to my "so how are *you*?" reply so I have no idea what's going on in his life. On the one hand it's kind of flattering to know an old flame is thinking about you over the holidays. On the other hand, kind of sad and pathetic.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I know why the pregnant woman waddles. I’m feeling more and more like a penguin the last few days. Definitely pudging out there, starting right below my boobs. And I’m feeling the call of the water. Blessed, weightless water. The call is nearly strong enough to overcome my dread of the 2 flights of stairs I must negotiate to get to the water – namely the pool at the gym. Just hope my swimming suit still fits.

Random Rant

So it's perfectly OK for the U.S. and European countries to refuse to accept the Ukrainian elections, citing widespread fraud - but absolute sacrilege for anyone to question the results of our election on the same grounds? Welcome to the United States of Hypocrisy....

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Modern Grave Diggers

Like many other bloggers, I'm a little burnt out post-election. I've drafted about 5 different posts this week and then decided they were just to silly to publish. But this story is one I'd like to see get more attention:

Ancient village, graveyard torn apart by bridge project:

Snip: PORT ANGELES — In a makeshift morgue, handmade cedar boxes are stacked row upon row, each holding the ancient remains of the ancestors of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, all facing east toward the sunrise. Ripped from what was to be their final resting place, the remains were put here for safekeeping until the tribe can find a place for their dead to rest once more. The bones have been exhumed by contractors for the state Department of Transportation as it builds a marine facility needed for reconstruction of the Hood Canal Bridge. The excavation inadvertently unearthed Tse-whit-zen, the largest prehistoric Indian village ever discovered in Washington, portions of which date back more than 1,700 years... Watching the graves being disturbed has already been too much to bear. "I feel I am at my last thread; it has been overwhelming to feel the things we feel and see the things we see," said Carmen Charles, 21, the tribal chairwoman's niece. The Charles family is one of the largest on the reservation. She said she was forced, because of contractors in a hurry to sink a piling, to break apart the bodies of a couple, buried with their legs linked, their arms around each other, and faces turned to one another. "It was very hard, something I will have to live with the rest of my life. You are literally staring into your ancestors' eyes, into their souls. Sometimes you have to break a bone to get it out, and it's this rush of sadness, I just have to turn off my emotions."

If this were a white pioneer cemetery, there would be absolutely no question about stopping the construction project long enough to remove all the bodies & relocating them, no matter what the cost of delay.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Prego Update

Just passing 24 weeks? So 6 months ? And the RiverFry has begun to move. And kick. And kick some more. Sometimes I swear he’s doing his best to imitate Michael Flatley in Lord of The Dance. Apparently the Irish side of his ancestry is making itself felt – jig and all. I have been forbidden, however from calling him the initial names that come to mind, such as “little shit”, “bastard” or “son of a bitch” (which would be sort of self-insulting… but anyhoo), let alone my favorite “fucker” when he breaks into this furious step-dancing on the inside of my uterus. Curt says he can hear me and might not take it in the affectionate tone I intend. He then reminds me that I’ve got 4 months left of this to look forward to. And his little limbs are only going to get bigger, and stronger. Right. Best not to piss the little bugger off.

As strange and freaky as it is to feel this alien doing backflips inside my gut, it’s pretty neat, too. My current favorite hobby is just sitting there with my hands on my belly waiting for him to move. Afterwards, after the initial “dammit! exclamation of surprise I kind of sit there in stunned silence and realize that A) I’m making a brand new human being! B) He’s going to have to come out, eventually. C) that will hurt – A LOT ; and D) afterwards our lives will not only never be the same again, I will become a glorified cow*. Obviously, I’m still adjusting to the idea. Getting more and more excited, but I don’t think reality will hit until I see his little scrunch face for the first time.

We did get a pretty nice picture of his profile at the big Ultrasound 3 weeks ago. Looks like the poor kid will get Curt's nose. As long as he doesn't get my sinuses I guess that's OK. I was going to post about it but it was the week before the election and, well… you know. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life. The Lifetime movies and such LIE I tell you! THEY LIE!!! All you see are these glorified happy parents staring googly-eyed at the fuzzy black and white picture on the screen. What they don’t tell you is, before you get there you have to drink about a gallon of water in a 2 hour period and then you CANNOT PEE. Even though your bladder is already under extreme pressure from the baby and internal organs all getting squished together**. I tell you people, the effort required to hold back that much urinary pressure is extraordinary. Going up the stairs, getting in and out of the car and walking to the office about killed me. It's not so easy to simultaneously walk and desperately cross your legs together, I tell you what. Makes you look/feel like a geisha, walking with these little minced steps. Then we had to wait for AN HOUR to see the ultrasound tech (yeah, I got there early. I was in PAIN!) who had to have been the most surly, tight-lipped and annoyed ultrasound tech on the planet. She said not a single word the entire time she did the 20 minute exam. Wouldn’t tell us what she was looking at, wouldn’t give us any indication if things were OK. Nada. Then she let us look at the Fry for maybe 2 ½ minutes, tops – whipped off a few pictures and that was it.

Disappointing, to say the least. And I felt like a total wimp. None of the other moms-to-be in the waiting room appeared to be on the verge of tears as I was, every muscle in their body rigid with the effort of controlling their bladder, perched on the edge of their chair terrified of peeing on the waiting room rug. And throughout the exam, I couldn't even get that excited about being able to see the littie fry's little fingers and toes. All I wanted was for it to be OVER so I could GO PEE! Please Maude, just let everything be OK*** so I can GO PEE!! How selfish is that?

Dammit, if I can’t handle a simple, supposedly painless ultrasound how in the hell am I going to handle actual labor? From an episode of Northern Exposure, I guess… 4 little words: “Give Me My Drugs!”. And I refuse to feel guilty about it. I’m sure I’ll be a maternity nurse’s worst nightmare. I total prima dona who thinks she’s the first woman to ever go through this. I know I’m not – it is somewhat reassuring to think that billions of other women have done it - multiple times – and lived. Of course, there are also the millions of women who didn’t . But I’m not focusing on them. That's the privelege of living in a 1st world country and having health benefits, I am very well aware – and incredibly thankful.

But the funny thing is, I do feel like a bit of a prima dona. I was actually feeling resentful at the grocery store the other day. Every other woman I saw was prego, too. Most very young. And their seeming indifference to their condition was a slap in the face. Other women get pregnant and it’s no big deal… but don’t you people understand? This is ME we’re talking about. This is a big fucking deal for me. I waited ALONG time to do this, and only after very careful thought and preparation. How can so many others seem to take it so lightly?

* Yes, I KNOW breastfeeding is a wonderful and natural experience to be cherished that endows the newborn and the mother with seemingly miraculous health benefits… blah blah blah. Yes, I’m going to do it for as long as possible. But I reserve the right to feel like a cow while doing it. So sue me.

** My bestfriend swears that in 3 pregnancies she never had to do this full bladder crap. Well just once, so almost never. And they still managed to get beautiful ultrasound images. Of course she went to a different clinic. I was told it was necessary because the bladder has to push the organs/ uterus up higher in the abdomen to get a good picture. OK – biomedical engineering people? Here’s a thought. Howzabout you fucking invent a) either a stronger ultrasound machine or b) some sort of sling to allow the mother to lay belly DOWN on the exam table with the ultrasound scanner pointed UP…. Then we can let ole’ gravity do the job that the full bladder thing supposedly does now. You’ll get right on that, won’t you? Before my next kid? How about I make YOU drink a gallon of water and not let you pee for 2 hours every day until you figure out a way to get around this barbaric necessity. You think that might get those creative juices flowing? Thank you very kindly…. Mustang Sally.

***Oh yeah, everything is OK. Baby looks normal. Placenta properly placed. So says my doc a week after the ultrasound. Though she did note he wouldn't stay still as she was trying to zero in on his heartbeat with the doppler. Yeah... I kind of knew that already. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

They've found Atlantis, again.... this time off the coast of Cyprus. What's that mean for the last great theory that it was in Spain? I have no clue. We're getting to the point where anytime anyone finds a previously unknown ancient archaeological site they claim it's Atlantis. Unfortunately, I don't know that they'll ever be able to say without a doubt *which* site among the leading contenders is the real deal. Let's hope they find a "Welcome to Atlantis!" sign etched in hieroglyphics or cuneiform. With a directional sign that reads "Visitor Information This Way.."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Tin Foil Hat Time

Maybe, finally, an explanation for Shrub's obstinate refusal to do anything about global warming: Arctic Thaw Could Open Vast Oil and Gas Region snip:

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - An accelerating thaw of the Arctic may open vast regions for oil and gas exploration but that brings worries of spills in the fragile environment, experts said Thursday.

Scientists behind an-eight nation report saying the Arctic sea ice could almost vanish in summer by 2100 because of global warming said offshore oil and gas operations would be easier but melting permafrost could destabilize installations on land.

I've become such a cynic.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

No Politics Allowed!

Volcano Watch: St. Helens hasn't done much since my last update besides continue to build a new lava dome. The advent of winter snowfall is making for some beautiful pictures, though on the few clear days we've had. And you (well, the USGS photographers - not actual people) can actually see the lava glowing at times, which is cool. No explosive eruptions though folks, sorry to disappoint.

In other Pacific NW volcano news, last weekend Mt. Ranier had a swarm of earthquakes inside the volcano. Largest, at 3.2 was the biggest in 40 years. Scientists aren't worried about an eruption, though (last one was in 1840). They think the earthquakes are a result of the "sheer weight" of the mountain settling and not, apparantly a result of magma moving. Not to play armchair vulcanologist or anything, but I'd still be a little twitchy if I were in Seattle/ Tacoma. If there's pressure built up, an earthquake caused by anything (even heavy rain/landslide) could trigger a venting episode - and that could mean lahars, which are the greatest threat to the Puget Sound population centers downhill.

Yes, as you can imagine I'm trying to turn my attention from disasters of the man-made kind to those more natural. In fact, the only thing that got me through Nov. 3rd was a book I picked up at the hospital gift shop to tide me over while Curt was getting his carpal tunnel surgery done*. Pompeii by Richard Harris. Really good mindcandy - combines fascinating historical facts that are pretty damned accurate (as much as I recall) with a pretty good plotline. Falls in the "controversial scientist trying to convince hardheaded gov't officials of imminent natural disaster" genre. But set in ancient Roman Empire. And the scientist is in charge of running the local aquaduct, and he weaves in actual historical figures (Pliny the Elder), and at least in this case - you KNOW how it ends. Hundreds (or thousands?) of people were actually caught totally unaware - we know because the ash preserved their last moments in grisly detail.

*Curt's surgery went really well. He had his left hand done. After it heals in about a month he'll have the right hand done. He noticed improved range of motion with his fingers as soon as the anasthesia wore off, and can sleep at night (numbness isn't waking him up like it was before). Pretty amazing. The incision is bigger than his doc led him to believe - about 4 inches from bottom of palm to the middle. Apparently they had to do more extensive work than they'd thought.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Unf'ingbelievable: Rummy says Fallujah strike won't kill "many" Iraqi civilians.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that large numbers of Iraqi civilians would not be killed, "certainly not by U.S. forces,"* during the siege to retake Fallujah, even as the top U.S. commander there predicted a "major confrontation" between insurgents and up to 15,000 troops in the Sunni Muslim city.

How he can be so certain of this when his own staff admits 30-50% of the civilian population is still there, I have no clue.

*You can bet your ass that any civilian casualties that DO occur** will be blamed on the Iraqi forces - not the U.S. forces. Also note, with Allawi supposedly commanding the U.S. forces - that conveniently gets Shrub & Co. off the hook as far as responsibility, doesn't it?

**Not that we'll ever be able to actually verify the true number of civilian casualties. They've made damned sure of that by targetting Fallujah's main hospital, first. And they fully admit, this is not in an attempt to protect the patients. Per The NY Times, via Body & Soul, the hospital is "considered a refuge for insurgents and a center of propaganda against allied forces." That's right. The goal in securing the hospital is to secure the wagging tongues of the medical staff there, who might otherwise be tempted to count the number of body bags & amputated limbs that come their way. After all, it was those nosy doctors who were primarily responsible for spilling the beans on the 100,000 civillian casualty mark two weeks ago. Certainly can't have that again, can we?

Just to give you some perspective, Riverbend relates the story of actual refugees from Fallujah.

Pod People

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. The shock still hasn’t worn off. You know that totally disconnected feeling you get every once in awhile like you’re the only *real* human being on the planet and everyone else you see are players in some kind of play created solely for your benefit by a cruel superior being? It’s been like that, only this time, I don’t feel quite so alone. I know there are actually millions of others just like me who are feeling the same inredulous feeling of alienation from their countrymen. How could we grow up in the same place, sometimes even in the same family and think so completely and utterly different? They’ve got to be pod people. Or maybe, a freak genetic mutation has occurred and we’re in the process of witnessing the emergence of a second sentient offshoot from the human race. Let’s call them Homo Religiosus. Or maybe, just maybe – there’s a psychotropic virus that’s gone around that alters the basic brain functionality of people. Some variant of mad cow disease. Those are my theories, anyway. I don’t care if Gene Roddenberry thought of them first. Brilliant man, he was!

I started in with the "I told you so's" the minute I read the headlines about Bush planning to reward his Evangelical minions with a resurrected federal Same Sex Marriage Ban. I want nothing more than to throw them in brother's face - along with every other security-obsessed Democrat who told me "Oh, Bush is actually a religious moderate... you're just paranoid to think he'll try to legislate Fundamental Christian values into law!" and marked their ballot for the Chimp. Unfortunately, my committment to not talk politics with him anymore is still in place. A selfish side of me hopes the next four years will prove me right, even though the rest of me realizes what a nightmare it will be if my predictions come true. I hope for the sake of every gay, lesbian, bi & transgendered family out there - as well as all of us straight heretics that I am wrong.

So what to do? I’ll admit, like hundreds of thousands of other Kerry supporters we’ve tossed around the idea of getting the hell out of Dodge. B.C. does look attractive. And I’ve always said I’d move to New Zealand in a heartbeat. The Kiwi’s, have very strict immigration requirements, though I’ve been told. But for the time being, I do feel pretty safe in my mostly liberal corner of the country (Definition of Marriage Amendment notwithstanding). I’m not quite ready to give up the country to the fascists just yet. For the next four years, these are my guiding thoughts:

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." (Thomas Jefferson)

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.
by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945

So this time around, they're coming for the homosexuals first. Who do you think will be next? Pregnant women or peace activists?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Day After Tomorrow

Devestated doesn’t describe it.

But ever the optimist, I’m trying to look for the bright side. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1) Bush will now be solely responsible for the fuck up of the war on terror & Iraq. I hoped, but never had much confidence that Kerry would have been able to adequately clean up his predecessor’s mess in that area.
2) Guess we can save some of those Homeland Security dollars in the Blue States, now that Bin Laden has promised to remove us from his target list!
3) At least Kerry gets to go back to the Senate, doesn’t he? Maybe he could do what he does best and throw some investigations together…..
4) Two Term Presidential Limits. I have never been so thankful for those in my life.

That’s all I’ve got at the moment. Please feel free to add any others as you think of them.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Most Excellent news on the turnout front! In the Big 4 battlegrounds: Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, turnout in Democratic precincts/ demographics is exceeding comparable Republican areas/ demographics! And check this out: The African American and Hispanic turnouts are FAR exceeding expectations: Up to 144% of historical turnout rates!!

**Update: So Kos and MyDD claim to have gotten some leaked exit poll results that show Kerry leading in all 4 of the above Big Daddies. If you assume the rest of the states go as previously projected from most recent polls, that give Kerry a huge victory - 311 electoral votes (270 needed to win). So nobody's really taking this seriously *quite* yet... except for the stock market, which according to this article is dropping due - apparently to the influence of said liberal blog reports.

You have GOT to be kidding me. Liberal bloggers causing the stock market to fall? I don't think so. On the other hand - it's pretty apparent the net is going apeshit from all the desperate attempts to find any kind of information. Blogger is freezing up and every other political site being linked to by bloggers. So you know there is *some* serious attention being paid to bloggers in general. But the stock market? Come on!

*****Day After Update: I will never believe a fucking "exit poll" ever again. As long as I live. So help me, Maude.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Can I look yet?

So I started this rather involved and more than a little lame post about Oregon’s Vote by Mail system and the Republican idiots who are trying to subvert it. But really, there’s no point. It doesn't stand a chance in hell of standing up in court. And I don’t think it will intimidate a single soul from voting. So fine – let them throw some more $$ down this particular rabbit hole. I refuse to waste another gram of outrage over it.

I can’t wait for this election to be over. Some people really do get all excited over the prospect of a heated political battle. To them, elections are fun! And this one only more so! Not me. I just get shell-shocked. Involved, sure – but mostly out of desperation and fear. Not for love of the battle itself. I just feel it’s my responsibility, and an honor really to get informed and involved in helping to make this world a better place. The whole “be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem” thing. It helps my mental health to channel my outrage into personal action. Every time my dittohead coworkers go off on one of their tirades about the very ideals that I hold dear, or defend the idiocy of the Republicans, I can either respond and bang my head against a brick wall for a few hours or I can channel that frustration into productive action and actually DO something that might, in the real world – start tearing down that brick wall of bullheaded opposition. So that’s what I’ve chosen to do.

But still, I am sooo ready for a break. I’m ready to sit back with my tub of popcorn and watch the results come in, like a movie. Ready to cringe with my head turned against Curt's shoulder if it begins to look like one of the really baaad horror flicks where the victim is running *alone* down the dark hall to check out that strange noise. Or ready to cheer at a smarmy, cheesy action flick when the good guys win in the end, against all odds - and none of the main characters died tragically in the process.

I'm really hoping for the latter case scenario. In my mind I'm visualizing that scene in Independence Day where Wil Smith's girlfriend makes it into the utility closet in the tunnel ahead of the molten inferno that has become downtown L.A. with her son, and calls the dog ( a yellow lab).... and the dog comes running and jumping over the stranded cars and, and and..... launches through the doorway right as the leading waves of fire singe his little tailhairs. Yeah, like that.....