Sunday, February 7, 2016

7 opportunistic takes

That is to say, I have an opportunity to write them today, which I didn't on Friday, so I'm going to just go for it.  Living on the edge, that's me.


Last week I had a music-sharing session with a friend of mine.  That is, we got together and spent the afternoon playing our favorite songs for each other.   This was very scary for me because, on the one hand, I usually don't enjoy music till I know it well enough to follow along, and on the other, sharing music I like is as scary as wearing clothes I like.  What if people don't like it?  (And of course people generally don't like it, because I like very inaccessible music.)

However, it turned out all right, because much of the music my friend likes turned out to be quite enjoyable on first listen, and if she didn't like everything I shared, she didn't mock it either.

Anyway, she introduced me to a song which I think is going to be my anthem for this year -- considering my word for the year is TRUTH.  Probably everyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows it already, but as I didn't, I'm going to share it anyway.

The music video is great too.


This has been a very disappointing year for Republicans, thanks to Trump.  Trump is the worst.  And not because, as many people are, I am afraid he will become president.  I think that's highly unlikely.  Even him becoming the nominee is fairly unlikely -- though that would probably destroy the Republican Party, at least any segment of it I had any sympathy with.  John is worried because, as a card-carrying member of the party, he is supposed to support the eventual nominee, whoever it is.  If he doesn't, they could kick him out.  I think this is absurd and a great way to remove from your party anyone with a lick of principle.  But perhaps that is the goal.

But my real issue with Trump is what he has done to the rest of the field.  He's made Cruz look like a reasonable choice!  And he ate up all the contrarian, populist vote which, up to then, had belonged to Rand Paul.  It's very sad.  Rand Paul had a great "moment" two years ago, back when Americans cared about privacy and didn't want to invade Syria.  Now, with ISIS on the move and several terrorist attacks in the past year, paranoia has set in and people want a strong leader who will read all their emails, shut out immigrants, and go to war in as many places as possible.  I cannot blame the "system" for this. In so many past years, I believed that deep down most Americans wanted what I want and things were just stacked against people who want what I want.  This year, I have to confess that they don't want what I want.  They want to feel safe, even if it means tyranny.

When Rand dropped out of the race (sob!) I went and researched all the other Republican candidates.  Not one is even mildly non-interventionist.  Cruz said he'd carpet-bomb ISIS (which is located inside civilian cities, remember) until the sand glowed ... and he is the least interventionist of the Republicans, apparently.  Many of the candidates also believe in deporting all undocumented immigrants who are currently here, which I think is inhumane and also really expensive and bad for the sectors of the economy which rely on immigrant labor.  Many of the candidates are pro-life, which is good, but not something I've focused on much since I realized no one is interested in doing jack about abortion.  Instead the Republican pro-life position has been a way to coerce single-issue voters into voting for them regardless of how much they suck otherwise.  Or, in Mark Shea's phrase, "Vote for us or the baby gets it."


So where does that leave me?  Don't hate me, but .... I'm seriously considering Sanders.  He is reasonably non-interventionist, not just in a faddish way, but on principle -- he was an anti-war protester back in the day and he was one of the very few who voted against the Iraq War.  (It's so easy for candidates to condemn it now, but do they think we forgot they were in favor of it then?)  Surprisingly, he also wants to audit the Federal Reserve, which I had thought was a conservative position, but apparently it's just the logical position of anyone who isn't funded by big banks.  He supports some campaign finance reforms that I think would be a good idea, and because of this he doesn't accept money from big businesses and PACs.  He seems like an honest, principled guy and that's more than I can say for anyone else still standing.

Of course there are huge downsides.  His "free college" idea strikes me as ridiculous and I have no idea if his healthcare plan would work.  (Of course, I think almost anything is likely to be better than what we have, but ... still.)  But I put a lower priority on those things because I know they're politically unviable.  The GOP will have a majority in the House, at least, so it's not going to be possible for him to increase taxes the way he means to.  He'll have to settle for some more reasonable compromise.

But foreign policy does not require the backing of Congress, not really (as Obama proved in his Syria involvement) and so it's vital to have someone I actually trust in that position.  I like that Sanders isn't going to ditch the Iran deal -- which, maligned as it is by conservatives, seems to be our best hope of keeping Iran peaceful.  I like that he has been willing in the past to cross Israel -- and he can't get called anti-Semitic for doing so, because he's Jewish himself.  (Whereas Cruz was a jerk to a group of Palestinian Christians because they wouldn't "stand with Israel."  I find that really absurd.)

Now I really, really don't want Clinton for president.  Her foreign policy is dreadful and we have plenty of evidence of it, since she was secretary of state.  She wanted boots on the ground in Syria.  And, of course, she might be going to jail for the emails thing.  And yet, I think that the Democrat is likely to win in the next election, seeing how nasty the GOP has been lately.  I mean, the nasty rhetoric on immigration wins with the base, but 75% of the country is against mass deportation.  They're not going to vote for a guy who won the nomination by suggesting it.

As a result, I don't think I will vote in the Republican primary, because there is no candidate I like in the running.  Virginia has open primaries: I can select whichever party's ballot I want on primary day.  So I think I will vote in the Democratic primary and vote for Sanders, so that Clinton won't get it.  In the general election, though, I'm still undecided.  It sort of depends on who's in the running at that point.  If I really don't like either main candidate, I might vote for Gary Johnson or maybe, just for kicks, Jill Stein.  Why not?


We had massive quantities of snow in that "blizzard" the other week.  We were snowed in from Friday afternoon till Monday evening.  It was nice.  The kids found it too cold to play in much (despite all their longing for snow!) but we went for walks in the snow and said hi to our snowed-in neighbors doing their shoveling.  And we bought Star Wars: A New Hope on Amazon for the kids to watch.  Marko has chosen to watch a few minutes it almost every night ever since, for his bedtime show.  I think he's gotten through the whole movie at least four times.

Once it warmed up a bit, we actually did get to build snow caves and snowmen, so the kids got some fun out of it.  Michael kept insisting it was a white Christmas.  Whatever, dude.

Michael shoveling while the snow falls -- so he can experience what it's like for me to clean up while he's in the process of making a mess.  He didn't mind though.

The height of the drifts the morning after the storm, with a Marko added for scale.  Pretty sure that's the most snow we've had since we moved here.

A full moon setting the morning after the storm.


 The kids are in a rather easy phase at the moment.  (*waits for smiting by Internet gods*)  They just play Star Wars all day.  Sometimes there are fights because Michael is talking in English and Marko says he has to speak only in Wookie language, or whatever, but it's pretty chill.  Marko still sings and hums pretty much nonstop, but as his repertoire increases it becomes even more overstimulating.  For instance, he'll be humming the Star Wars theme, then O Christmas Tree, then the Imperial March, then Ode to Joy, then Angels We Have Heard on High, then the Han and Leia theme ... in the course of a few minutes.  On the bright side, he's started stammering a lot less.  Maybe music is helping, or maybe his mouth is catching up a bit with his brain.  He also has managed to talk to other adults a bit -- we successfully left all three kids with friends when we went to see the new Star Wars, and no one was any trouble at all.

Michael is less needy than he used to be, by a long shot.  He still will hug and snuggle any time, but he isn't so demanding about it.  I guess I should expect this, seeing as he's almost four, but he's always seemed younger than his age, so it's weird that he's suddenly pretty low-maintenance.  He throws a fit sometimes if he doesn't get what he wants, but he will usually snap out of it if you offer a hug and a kiss.  His grammar is full of errors ("goed," "brung," and "mans" appear in his speech often) and he mispronounces some words (like "Star Vors" or "somefling") but he's very fluent.  And also hilarious.  He is so imaginative and he likes to say some crazy thing and then give this huge grin, like "can you believe this stuff?"

Every night, he watches his cartoon (usually Peep and the Big Wide World) and when it's over, he sometimes makes a bit of a fuss.  But that ends when John says, "Go give Mama a hug and kiss."  He runs over with this huge smile to get a "picking-up hug and kiss," or sometimes three or four of each.  Meanwhile Miriam runs to the bedroom and gets in Michael's bed, which is a personal joke of her own.  Michael goes in there to get into bed, finds Miriam there, and often begs me to let her stay (which I don't, she won't sleep).  And then he gives her a big hug and kiss.  It's the cutest thing that has ever happened.

The past couple of weeks, we've instituted a clean-up time so that they actually clean up their toys.  It's accomplished with lots of threats and rewards and nagging, so I hate it, but on the other hand, I feel much more relaxed about letting them make a mess when I know I'm not going to be the one to clean up.  Marko does most of the work while Michael goofs around, but then, Marko didn't clean anything either at that age.  And if I say, "Hey, Michael, Marko's winning!" he'll hurry and pick up a toy.  Somehow adding competition to anything, whether between each other or against me, makes things super exciting and fun.  Perhaps a boy thing?  It's hard to say.


Miriam suffered through a week in which her right upper molar was coming in and the gum over it was hugely swollen and purple -- which, amazingly, didn't seem to make her too fussy, but she did nurse a lot and sleep badly.  And now that it's in, along with all her canines, she's feeling much better.  I mean, she plays independently for whole minutes!  This is dangerous, of course, because I think she doesn't need me for a minute and I go wash the dishes, and then I look over and she's emptying out John's desk drawers or something.  She's kind of a menace.

BUT!  She has reached the magical age where I can see her going for something she's not allowed to have, and I say, "No," and she flings herself on the floor and sobs.  This does not sound like progress, but it beats ignoring me and continuing to go for the forbidden thing over and over until I have to drag her out of the room.  The next step is for her to eventually learn which things are forbidden and just leave them alone, but ... that will take quite a bit longer, if my memory is right.

She says a lot of words: yeah and no, meat, beans, piece, bite, cat, dog, baby, ball, up, down, hot, cold, on, off, out, shoe, shirt, pants, butt, parts (our word for genitals -- because I'm a bad parent who doesn't do proper words for things like I'm supposed to), knee, ear, eye, nose, hair, poop, pee, too (as in, me too), kiss, hug, me (as in, who wants a cookie? ME!), bed, Mama, Daddy, Michael, Marko (both of which sound like "ko" but whatever), book, hands (meaning, wash my hands), apple, cracker, cookie, eat, food, hungry, yum (when she wants your food, she'll stand by you saying "um, um!" meaning she wants a bite), chair, go .... probably more I'm not thinking of.  She never fails to get her meaning across these days, which cuts down on frustration but also leads to some confusion -- when she successfully communicates, for instance, that she wants me to eat a piece of baloney that she just took out of her mouth, and I don't do it.  She just keeps insisting "eat, eat!" more and more clearly because she thinks I don't get it.  I mean, she is being GENEROUS!

Her favorite thing in the whole world is to stand on a chair or couch, grab your hands, and leap off ... assuming, of course, that you will "fly" her down.  You have to be on the lookout for it because she'll get hurt if you think she's just trying to hold your hand for no reason.  She does so many cute things it would be hard to enumerate them all.  She likes to grab your hand and lead you around the house to show you things.  (Who can resist?)  She borrows my purse and carries it around.  She plays ring-around-the-rosy with her brothers.  She holds out her hand to the kitty and then insists on a kiss as if the cat had scratched her, because she knows that's what cats do.  She loves hugs and kisses and never seems to get tired of them.  She puts her finger over her lips and says "shh!"  She hugs the dog.  She has a stuffed cheetah that she carries around, and she will give it a hug and then hand it to you so you can give it one too.  She likes to get in bed and pull the covers up to her chin and pretend she's sleeping.  She will play peekaboo with everyone, even if they're not playing with her.

In short, she is that special stage of adorable only a seventeen-month-old can be.  She is all kinds of trouble, but it's okay because she's cute and we will forgive her anything.


As for me, I'm up and down.  Periodically I announce to everyone that I'm all bounced back from Miriam and have energy again and will now commence to achieve things.  Then a week later I'm wiped out again and can barely get the dishes done each day.  I'm not sure what's going on.  It's not strictly correlated with sleep, though perhaps in the long term a lack of sleep is part of it.  I am convinced that eating a raw spinach salad gives me energy -- or at least, it makes me feel healthy.

It's possible that I'm anemic.  Or maybe I just don't have the momentum to accomplish stuff and if I just pushed myself to get started, I'd get stuff done.  Some days I certainly do.  But if I leave the house, even if it's just to go to the library, the rest of the day is generally a wash.  On the bright side, my mood is noticeably better than a few months ago -- I feel happy most days, I don't yell much, and every day when I've felt down in months, it was for a good reason.  Anyway, I'm trying to be patient with myself and remember that just because I can't do much right now doesn't mean that my entire life is going to be like this so that I never write another book or finish another spinning project again.

I finished Buffy (which was great, and the ending was not the horrible tragedy I was expecting) so I've started a couple new shows: Dark Matter and Gilmore Girls.  Why two shows at once?  Because neither has everything I want -- one has adventure and mystery and the other has humor and relationships.  So when I'm feeling like something to get my heart pounding, I watch Dark Matter, and when I just want something to entertain me while I do a little knitting, I watch Gilmore Girls.  So far I'm a whole season into Gilmore Girls and only three episodes into Dark Matter, so that'll tell you something.  Both are quite good and I'd recommend them.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I listened to that song before I came out, and it really, really did help.

And I feel similarly. Rand Paul was by far the most reasonable Republican candidate. With him gone I feel I am leaning toward Sanders, both for the reasons you've listed, and also because I feel like he's the only candidate still running based on their beliefs, not simply saying what they think gives them the best chance to be elected.

Sheila said...

Yeah, I know some people say they'd prefer a smart person who knows what they're doing than a principled one ... considering the harm that corruption would do, I'd always prefer a principled one.

entropy said...

I loved Gilmore Girls. My kind of mindless entertainment. When we can watch tv again, I will check out dark matter. (We gave it up as a family for Lent)

Also, that pic of Miriam is adorable.

Enbrethiliel said...


#1 -- I'm reminded of when I blogged about sharing (or not sharing) books we love, and you said that you're pretty direct when you dislike a recommended book. I was a tad taken aback (LOL!); but now I see that the book-related feelings I was writing about are more music-related feelings for you.

Unfortunately for all my friends, my taste in music is cute at best (and execrable at worst--I admit it!). I do wish there were more people I could obsess over it with, but I guess it's my lot to be a lonely listener.

#2 and #3 -- No comment? ;-)

#4 -- That moon is amazing!

#5 -- I know someone who swore by playing a lively song--and always the same one--during "pack away" time. Admittedly, she was a teacher; and teachers don't always get the same results as parents.

#6 -- Miriam is so adorable!

#7 -- I used to watch Gilmore Girls a lot. I think it jumped the shark for me when Rory was old enough for college. That's not really a judgment on that season. Perhaps I'd feel differently about it if I tried watching it again today; but at the time, it felt very same-old-same-old to me.

Hey, have you stumbled upon the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge? Apparently, there are literary fans of the show who are determined to read every book that Rory does . . . or at least make a good effort! I heard about the challenge long after I stopped watching, so I don't know whether the books have anything to do with the plot or themes of the show itself, or whether they're totally random. (Books are highly significant in LOST, and there are very serious readers doing the LOST Reading Challenge as well!) Based on what you're seeing now, what do you think?

Sheila said...

I wrote a long answer to your post and the computer wouldn't post it because of a problem with the captcha, so I had to restart my computer and lose what I'd written. And when I had done that, something came up and that's why it's taken me so long to answer. :P

I had no trouble ever getting my students to clean up. Being a mother is so much more difficult. What I used to do is make them clean their desks, and if they were fast at their desks they got the *privilege* of asking me for another cleaning job. It was a big competition, and with so many of them we finished in minutes. My biggest hope for the kids is that, with them doing the cleaning, it will hit home that they shouldn't make such big messes because they take forever to clean ... but so far no luck, they still just dump the whole toybox out!

I've read a lot of the books Rory reads and I don't see much of a connection. Except maaaaybe Anna Karenina, when she was seeing both Dean and Jess, because of the cheating theme. But the others, Moby Dick, the Fountainhead, etc., just seem like "stuff smart people read" and don't even seem necessarily appropriate. I mean, would Rory really like The Fountainhead, being such a liberal as she is? (I admit it, I kinda liked the plot and the writing. Then that guy blew up the building and I soured on it; there is no excuse for that kind of childish behavior.)

Speaking of Dean, did you like him? They keep talking in the show about how great he is, but he seemed way too angry for Rory ... she spent all her time being scared of making him upset, that's no way to live!

Enbrethiliel said...


When my brothers were in kindergarten, my mother's favourite way of keeping them in line was saying, "I'm going to tell your teacher!" They'd straighten up pretty quick! I can see how a homeschooling/unschooling mother would have it a lot harder. I do hope they get wise to messes soon, but I have to warn you . . . I'm [Age redacted] and my mother says my messes are about the same size and even more complex! =O

Worth a recommendation: Every Child Has a Thinking Style by Lanna Nakone. She's an organisational specialist who helps you rearrange your space--or your child's space--according to the organisational style that fits your natural preferences most. I read her book as an adult and it was still liberating to realise I was the "Horse" type (She uses animal archetypes to characterise children), who needs to see everything in order to keep track of it. When I was teaching, my desk was the messiest one in the faculty room, piled high with everything important. No one believed me when I said that if I put it in the drawer or in the cabinet, I'd just forget about it.

As for The Fountainhead, I must have been really childish when I read it back then, because I didn't see anything too wrong with his blowing up the building! =P At least no one was in it, and presumably the developers were insured. Thinking about it now, I don't see how dynamiting it alone would have solved his problem. (The design had been sold and modified by the buyers; they could just rebuild it in exactly the same way. Then what would he do? Dynamite it again?) He was aiming for a big trial and the chance to be vindicated by a jury of his peers. Now, THAT--here I join you--is childish.

Although I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls, I never rewatched any of the episodes (unlike with, say, Buffy); so my memory is sketchy. I do recall thinking that Jess's personality and interests made him a more compatible partner for Rory. Dean and Rory's compatibility, on the other hand, seems perfectly encapsulated in his teasing offer to accompany her to a bookstore so that he can watch her browse for several hours. On the one hand, he's the perfect boyfriend for a bookworm: he thinks her quirks are cute and is happy to accommodate them. On the other hand . . . why isn't he browsing, too? =/ Having said all that, I really hate love triangles and I don't like "bad boy" types in general. Jess was forced into those roles for the sake of conflict and tension, and that kind of tainted things for me.

How it worked out in the end (which I got more from friends updating me than from watching the show itself) wasn't very satisfying to me. I felt it was too soap-opera-ish--something more for Gossip Girl. And I think my blood pressure actually spiked when a friend did her impression of Lorelei during "You're the other woman!" speech.

Sheila said...

Jess is a better *fit* for Rory, but he's not as mature of a guy. He'd be the perfect boyfriend for her in ten years when he got over the angst.

I must be a "horse" too. When John and I got married, I had only one demand ... that he never, ever touch anything on my desk. Occasionally he forgets and touches something and it's like "WHERE is my STUFF?!" Or the kids mess with my stuff. It is hard to keep my stuff out and in sight when a kid who sees something and immediately makes off with it. I can't keep pens around to save my life.

If my kids never stop making massive messes, but they start cleaning up after themselves, I can live with that. John doesn't like messes to be made at all, but I don't mind messes, I just don't like cleaning them up.

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