Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Begin vaccination rant/

I read a post on the facebook page of an old friend Liz Ditz (her daughter and I rode with the same trainer for years) that was in regards to vaccinations:

My two eldest children are patients of Dr. Baskerville. I have also declined to vaccinate them. As the article suggests, Dr. Baskerville has gently and kindly recommended vaccination for them and has graciously accepted my decision not to follow her recommendation. We've discussed the relative merits and risks of the practice and she continues to provide excellent care to my children in the rare instances that they need it.

My concerns regarding vaccinations do not center on autism, though I'm not convinced that there is no link. Rather, I believe that my children's immune systems, evolved over millions of years, in conjunction with good hygiene, nutrition, and adequate exercise, is their best defense against infectious diseases . Given that vaccines have a known, quantified risk (though it's likely that the risk is greater than what's published due to underreporting). I'm not willing to play Russian Roulette with my children's health by exposing them to a known, possibly fatal risk to possibly (since no vaccines are 100% effective) prevent a disease to which they may never be exposed.

I've asked medical professionals if they can point me to a scientific, peer-reviewed study that compared the overall health and well-being of vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations. So far, none has been able to cite such a study.

Obviously, to anyone who has an actual grasp of how evolution and statistics work, this woman is clearly an idiot wrong. What's surprising to me is that her sentences are complete and her punctuation is correct. Because usually, this kind of anti-science absurdity comes from the illiterati Tea Partiers that want the guv'mint out of their bidness.

But a certain core group of the anti-vax crowd in their be-sweatered, minivan driving, organic produce buying, highly educated glory are, in themselves, part of the so-called liberal elite. And these folks, in the  under the guise of fashionable scepticism and possibly out of a desire to feel somewhat in control, possibly through perceived "subversion", choose to believe the likes of Jenny McCarthy over less well known people who happen to understand the concepts of the scientific method, evolution (hint: you can use viruses to demonstrate it) and statistics (or even the fact the large numbers are in fact larger than small numbers: the amount of people who dye of measles today is a smaller number than the amount of people who died before the vaccine was invented).

This woman above is not willing to play russian roulette with regards to vaccinations which have a much lower rate of killing/causing damage to people than measles but she is willing to play russian roulette with the actual disease itself.

/end rant.

Happy Birthday to me.

When I was about 16, I had to go to the doctor for some reason or another. The doctor went through a list of normal health history questions and then came to the one that said, "Do you have a partner?"

I paused. Partner? Lab partner? Partner-in-crime?

Then I realised she was talking about a partner in sex and I blushed and mumbled yes. It was meta- embarrassment: I was embarrassed because I assumed my pause had led her to believe I was embarrassed about the question and I really wasn't, I was just having trouble understanding it.
Anyway: I have a medical appointment with a nurse midwife (before anyone gets all excited congratulatory weird - I am not pregnant. This is only the planning stages) in a few days which involved a lot of paperwork for me (none for Ryan! I realise that one has to be sensitive about these things, but surely his medical history is pertinent too). It was full of similar questions. I made the appointment a month ago, they sent me a whole bunch of papers and said please bring these along, filled in and I thought, they expect me to keep track of this paper work for a whole month? (I am so incapable of filing things that once they make it off the kitchen table onto the living room side table that is on the way to the filing cabinet and then off the living room side table, further in the direction of the filing cabinet, they make it into a basket, that I keep a pile of papers in, on top of my filing cabinet that I call my "basket-of-shame". Every six months to one year the shame becomes overwhelming, boredom and a desire to be perceived as an adult set in and I convince myself to file it all away.) Then I remembered what the appointment was for and realised that this may be some sort of test. Are you organised enough to keep track of this paperwork for a month? Okay, step one completed, you may have a baby. 

What drove me to make this appointment? A desire to quit my job and my 30th birthday (today!). Well biology, really more than the actual age thing.  It's not anything I am actually conscious of - I just have baby dreams every single week and have done for about 3 years. I burst into tears over this one during one of our discussions, claiming that I was struggling with my own biology. I spluttered: "I should be above this!" then Ryan said, "Why? You're a biological creature." And I realised that once again I had been operating under assumptions that had been placed on me at a young age, by someone else.


So I have these baby dreams, despite the fact that I don't actually like babies. I have no interest in holding them, looking at them or cooing at them. I don't like the idea that stuff can come out of them, from any orifice, without much notice. Casey told me about "not minding" when they sick in your mouth and I turned white and then tried not to sick up lunch. "I will mind." I told her, she assured me I wouldn't (I will). Before you ask, I do like children and babies are only babies for a short time. I used to think there was something wrong with me (another assumption, placed on me at a young age by someone else)and then I decided that there wasn't and that it was okay not to like (human*) babies. Also: I have been told by reliable sources that I might actually like my own baby.


So, I can say it now, I want children. I am also terrified of screwing up, particularly in the beginning (What are babies? We just don't know). So, I am doing this the only way I know how. Lying awake at night worrying about it, meeting with a doctor first, taking vitamins and reading prodigious amounts on the subject. (Did you know that the baby gets to taste the flavours of the things you eat through the amniotic fluid and there is some evidence that that effects what kind of an eater they are when they are born? So it's a really good idea to eat a wide variety of foods when you are pregnant if it is important to you -as it is to me- that your child not be a picky eater? NEAT).


Ryan worries a lot less than I do. I had these concerns that my riding goals would have to be put on hold indefinitely ("No - I imagine I'll come home from work, you'll hand me the baby and go off riding.") or that the dogs would get neglected (he seemed doubtful over this as well and I think about it now and he's right. I'll be home with all of them all day. We'll go on walks. The baby will be the familiaris version of Mowgli).  Also having a messy house full of crap I don't want and don't need**.

My friends who are expecting a baby any minute now are instituting a no-plastic rule for toys in the hopes that it will cut down on some of the crap they are bound to receive. Of course, I mentioned that to someone else who thought they were nuts (I do not).

I mentioned my not wanting a lot of baby crap to Casey and it was like that scene in The Jerk... "Oh you don't need a lot of stuff. Except a co-sleeper. And a [some other item I don't recall]. Oh and a [another item I don't recall] is really great too" etcetera. But I really think that with our two forces of will united against plastic garbage and space takers in general, we will be able to avoid the problem of too much baby crap. Maybe I'm a fool to think that I can keep a grown up looking house and children, but I'm pretty sure it's possible (now I just want to go home and throw away a bunch of things).

So anyway. Happy birthday to me, I've decided to reproduce.

*and here is my assumption I am placing on you puppies, kittens and foals it is not okay not to like. If you've never seen baby horses frolicking, you've never actually seen frolicking and that is a shame. Also, look at their tiny, whiskery, puckered, little mouths while you are at it. And their butts.

** It's time to do the fall clear out. I've noticed some shirts in my drawers that I haven't worn in six months, so away they must go. Also, I need to move the warmer clothes back into rotation soon, get the old couch downstairs to make room for more storage in the pantry and hang Robert's painting. And dust the bookshelves.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tomato Tart with goat cheese

Last night we made a tomato tart. We started with a whole wheat crust, prebaked. Smeared a bit of olive oil and about 4oz of Lively Run goat cheese across the bottom and then put a layer of caramelized onion followed by a layer of thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes that had been tossed with salt, pepper and fresh oregano. That went in the oven for 20 minutes or so and came out heavenly.

The combination of caramelized onions, goat cheese and tomato are an amazing combination, almost on the level of a *holy trinity (all though I'm not sure it could really count because it wouldn't work as a versatile flavour base which I think is a major criteria of a holy trinity).

*holy trinities: ginger, garlic, chilies; celery, carrots, onions; garlic, onions, olive oil; etc. - I'm sure everyone has their favourites.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tomatoes and supporting women.

We are in the midst of the delicious season around here. I keep making a tomato salad by chopping up the lovely fat, juicy heirlooms that come from my CSA. I leave them tossed with a bit of salt for a bit, to bring out some of the liquid and it becomes almost a rustic gazpacho, to which I add bell peppers, crushed black pepper and crushed garlic. I try and chill it in the fridge before serving although this is not absolutely necessary. If you've done it right, you need to serve it in a bowl and with a spoon. The best part is drinking the leftover tomato water at the end when you've finished the pieces of tomato and pepper. Ryan and I jokingly call it "Fruit Salad".


I am working on a letter for work to a well-known person whose politics I do not agree with. It's a female and when I groaned about it (via IM, so my groan was probably not actually perceived: if no one is there to see you roll your eyes, did you actually roll them?) she said, "Oh! I love her!" and I said, "Really? I can't stand her."

I think my friend feels that anytime a woman reaches any level of national attention in a field usually dominated by men, it is a success and we should support her. I don't think my friend has actually ever paid attention to some of the things this person has done (sorry to be so enigmatic, but I don't want to get fired), just the fact that she is female is enough to garner my friend's support. Which is a pattern of thinking that has never occurred to me until I started working on the letter again and thinking about the conversation. It would never occur to me to support a woman principally because she is a woman.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I need to figure out how to get paid to write.

It seems odd to me that these people picked their Great Dane puppy because he was a runt. Surely, if you are going for a breed that is known for being huge, the hugeness is part of the appeal. I'm just going to chalk it up to the barely coherent article and then sulk for awhile that someone was paid to write this drivel and it wasn't me. 

Someone was also paid to write this, which I didn't finish reading. In fact I stopped just after the words "intellectual disabilities" because one can't take anyone seriously if they are using "intellectual disabilities" as a "polite" way to refer to people who are developmentally disabled. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ryan is in Portland and More About Horses

Ryan is in Portland at a conference. He had a paper to present. I have been faithfully looking after the dogs but really not doing much else other than watching Poirot mysteries (Five Little Pigs is great! Well, if you ignore the horrible acting by Aimee Mullins, but she's not in it very much so it's not that big of a deal. Big Suze is in it too. You can watch it here). 

I've been so tired recently and I think it's because of a sinus infection in combination with my hours not being suited to what my body wants.

I have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to sleep normally and by Sunday evening, I feel normal again. Human. Energetic! Then, Monday morning happens and I spend the next 4 days being a zombie. 

I'm not sure when the early birds got the upper hand, but I hate them all. The smug bastards who just tell you to "Go to bed earlier! That's what I do!". The ones that act as if they have evolved beyond the need for sleep and are therefore more evolved than you. I'm not sure why we all have to operate according to their schedule, but I seem to have the misfortune of having one as a boss a lot. My old boss didn't require sleep and his second in command pretended he didn't require sleep. The boss ended up inducing heart arrhythmia once or twice and the second in command was just a cranky jerk half the time. I had to be at work at 6am every day. I honestly don't know how I did it. I can't even imagine doing it now. I can barely imagine what I do do which is wake up at around 7, to get to work before 8. 


On Saturday, I went on a hunter pace with my current favourite - a big spooky mare named Ruby. At least we were told she was spooky and also that she was a stopper. She's never spooked particularly badly with either Casey nor me, so...her old owners were at the pace and I think they were a little shocked that we took her, on account of her apparent stopping problem and her spooking problem. Our theory is hunter paces are great for building up bravery in a horse that lacks confidence, which is really what her problem is. I also used an extra strong bit, in case she was TOO confident...  

I would like to buy her but I don't have the money and I am reticent to buy anything that has a hint of stop. I've only jumped her 3'6" once and that time she was pulling my arms out of their sockets to get to the fence, but the rumour is she has a stop above 3'. 

I have paid my dues with a stopper, starting with convincing him to jump crossrails and ending up with taking him to medal finals.The bucker I had was far, far more fulfilling to take to horse shows because all my hard work was rewarded with many, many blue ribbons and very little embarrassment. He was, to use jargon, an "Oh shit horse" meaning when you see it get off the trailer, you say, "Oh shit." A stopper is more heartbreaking than a bucker.

And I'm fed up with horsie heartbreak. 

My plan, as soon as it is possible, is to buy something trained and probably expensive. And take it to horse shows. And only sell it if and when I want to.

I'm done with greenies; I'm done with buckers, spookers, stoppers, rearers, leapers, biters, strikers and kickers. I'm also done with unsoundness, but that's a little harder to prevent. 

When I worked at a stable in college, I had a student, Catriona, whose mother used to tell us that Catriona liked to ride "spirited" horses. When Mandy took off with Catriona, bucking and farting around the ring, her mother shouted, "Ride that horse! You tame it Catriona!".

Clearly a woman who has watched too many Hollywood movies. Mandy was a feisty probably navicular quarter horse that couldn't be in lessons with other horses because she would charge at them. Once you denied her the right to charge other horses, her response was to take off, bucking and farting. We did not have good school horses at this facility, (save one, whom I rescued before I left). She wasn't a wild mustang fresh off the range who, once she realised how special Catriona was, would settle down and be her friend for life. 

Those horses you see in the movies that rear and scream? In real life, the ones that do that of there own volition are not safe to ride. Because a rearing, striking horse isn't a "spirited" horse that needs to be tamed, it's a dangerous horse that needs to be left in a pasture somewhere where it can't hurt itself or others by flipping over or coming down on someone's head. "Get rid of it! It's not worth it!" my old trainer would say when she'd hear about the latest insane horse related accident, like the one where the lady broke her leg in 3 places getting bucked off a horse that had cracked a trainer's spine 2 weeks earlier by striking at her while she was leading him somewhere. 

I know most sensible horse people already know this. It's a common lament amongst trainers, clients who insist on difficult horses - as if it shows off their ability better or somehow makes them a better rider. Everyone has to fall off and everyone has to have difficult rides, but why make it EVERY ride? Another trainer, one I worked for, used to say, "Riding is hard enough! Why make it harder with a difficult horse?"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Car accident!

Ryan and I were in a car accident last week:

Hey! Here's a thing. Last night, the car I was in (a Subaru Forester) was slightly crunched by a car I was not in (a Ford Ranger). There were no injuries, except to the car, which will need a new fender and headlight and perhaps hood. There were four of us in the car, two of whom lived a considerable distance away. In order to get them home, we formulated a plan. We were two blocks from a Subaru dealership, so we drove the crunched car there to await repair. A friend [Ken] picked us up in his Subaru to drop us off at my place where Alice and I drove the other two to Dryden in our Subaru. Once to our friend's place in Dryden, she drove the fourth person home in her Subaru. A series of Subarus and one Ford Ranger.

That is what Ryan posted to Google+ which would be a whole lot more fun if anyone I know actually made use of it.

After we were in the accident and had pulled into the parking lot of the bank (next door to a Taco Bell), we got out of the car. Almost immediately, a man dressed in black and carrying a large shoulder bag approached us and started complaining about the idiots on the roads these days then proceeded to tell us about an accident he'd been in. As odd as he was he eventually seemed to pick up on the "now is really not a good time" sentiments that we were probably all feverishly broadcasting loudly with body language. We had a little chat with the girl who hit us and her father, who had been traveling behind her in a different vehicle. He was wearing a fanny pack and drove a large van. I think he wanted us to have been drinking (we'd split a pitcher between five adults at dinner). Then, the man with the shoulder bag returned and started to tell us another story about an accident he'd been in. I looked a little closer at his shoulder bag and realised that it was not a shoulder bag, it was a cat carrier. It had a cat inside it with its face pressed up against the mesh.

Then Ryan went into the Taco Bell to get Casey a drink. Here is what he overheard (cribbed from Google+ again):

clerk: "...also the Bell Whanger Mealy Deal. That's two forty three."
cat man: "Well, alls I have is, uh, about a dollar thirty. So, I guess I'm gonna have to go with the number 74 combo ersatz meal."
clerk: "ok"
cat man: "Unless you just want to throw in the Whanger Mealy. Cause otherwise I hafta go for the number 74 combo 'meal'. But I could owe you. I only got the dollar thirty right now, but my payroll is coming in tomorrow. I'm gonna cash my payroll tomorrow at the Citizen's Bank. I only got it today at five after the post office was closed, so tomorrow I'm gonna cash it at the Citizen's Bank. You know, right when you go in the Tops, the Citizen's Bank. So, I could swing back by tomorrow and drop off the extra, what, dollar ten. We'll call it two. Yeah, after I cash in my payroll at the Citizen's Bank right inside Tops I'll swing by here and drop off the two dollars. What I owe you and a little something for you. A little tipper, huh? What's your name?"
clerk: "Shawn."
cat man: "I'm Aaron. Yeah, tomorrow I'll swing by and drop off the cash I owe you after I cash in my payroll. And a little tipper for you. Thanks, Shawn."
clerk: "ok."

Then, when he went back to his table, the cat man scolded his cat, which he had previously let out of the bag, for getting off the table. "You stay on the table! I told you I'd be right back and you had to stay on the table. I don't want you wandering all over. Just stay on the table."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Slaughterhouse-Five banned in Missouri

A school board in Republic, Missouri, has banned Slaughterhouse-Five because, apparently, a parent complained that it is anti-bible. I'm fairly certain that this person is an idiot because the book doesn't have much to do with the bible unless the bible is pro-war (is it?). There are just some swears and a bit o'sex, but if you think that is so wrong, why can't you discuss it with your child?

I don't know how old I was when I started reading Kurt Vonnegut, but I'll just say this: he made high school bearable. 

I'm tired of seeing the pearl-clutchers win. I'm also tired of this weird attitude that parents from all areas of the spectrum seem to have regarding protecting their children from everything bad in the world. Kids need to have bad things happen to them like scraped knees or frustrating experiences with scooters so that when something actually bad happens, they can say, "Okay. I can deal with this and this is not the end of the world." 

When I taught riding lessons regularly, I'd have cross parents when their kid fell off. I'd get an angry glare before their child was whisked off to soccer practice. And I'd think, "If falling off a horse is the worst thing that ever happens to your child, your child will be very, very lucky." 

Then there were the parents who didn't think it was my fault or the horse's fault or even the child's fault - it was just something that happened. Guess which kids were more fun to teach and happier, more well-adjusted and functional human beings? Guess which kids got better at riding faster? 

Update: The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is sending a free copy of Slaughterhouse-Five to those students in Republic, Missouri that wants one. You can help by donating a little bit of money.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Candy ≠ Sex

From this article in the Nation: 
In Cincinnati, Ohio, a high school sex education teacher carefully places a Jolly Rancher candy on each student’s desk. The 14- and 15-year-old students feel the crinkly plastic wrapping in their hands, wondering when they will get to eat their tantalizing treats.
“Don’t eat the candy!” warned the teacher, although she had just finished placing one on each desk. “You must wait until after class. It will taste much better if you allow yourself to wait.”
Obviously, this woman has never had sex. Because if she had, she would know that the first time you have sex is awkward and weird, a little embarrassing, and not all that great. For some people, it's painful. It's not candy. 
She would have been better off giving them something they could practice at. Like, I don't know, musical instruments. I bet if they practiced the kazoo every day for a week, they would find playing the kazoo a lot more fulfilling than when they first began. It might even be less embarrassing