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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Miraculous Survivors on the Show!

As many of you know, we had another broadcast of The Kovacs Perspective last night, with +Steve Kovacs as the host. This time is was all about Miraculous Survivors. The first guest was Jessie Snyder, who has been surviving and doing well with HIV/AIDS for the last 25 years. Our second guest was Carl Helvie, who has been surviving and doing extremely well more than 38 years after his diagnosis of lung cancer.

Aside from some interference on the technical end of things, the show about miraculous survivors was great. Lots of inspiration and lots of advice and information. It has become very clear over time that attitude is everything when it comes to survival rates, and both of our guests had great attitudes. They didn't give up. They didn't let anyone push them around, or tell them what to do, and they didn't lie down and die just because someone said they were going to. Lessons to be learned.

One of the most important things I picked up had to do with nutrition and its impact on supposedly-terminal illnesses. We have an immune system. If we give it the best possible back-up in the form of maintaining our health through diet and other measures, our immune system WILL help us fight these deadly diseases. When we impair our immune systems through poor diet, little or no exercise, smoking, or other unhealthy practices, we disrupt its ability to fight. It's something to consider when making a decision about chemotherapy, too. Chemotherapy can be devastating to the body. You have to allow the chemotherapy to do all the fighting for you, basically, because your immune system becomes nearly useless.

If you're looking to find information about ways to fight back against diseases that may be ravaging your body, this show would be a hard one to beat. In a couple of days the vodcast will be available for viewing directly on the site here, so if you missed the live show don't hesitate to watch the recorded version. Scroll down to the second viewing window to get to the recorded show. The top one is for live viewing only. It should be available some time Friday or Saturday (March 1st or 2nd). Bear with us on the interference, because the show itself is worth it. It just might be worth your life!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

From Putrefaction to Eroticism - Wild Divergences

One of the things I most enjoy about being a writer is the variety. Not only do I have variety from topic to topic, or even from fiction to non-fiction, but I also write very different genres of fiction. Yesterday morning I posted a new chapter in my erotica serial, which you can get here. In the afternoon I wrote my blog on the potentially hopeful situation facing my sick ferret. Now this morning I was quite literally flipping back and forth between erotica and putrefaction. My novel has a serial killer in it, so there are bodies a'plenty, and sometimes those bodies aren't quite fresh.

Most people would be freaked out by this kind of thing, or at least a little bit confused. Not me. I kind of thrive on it. Not in a particularly sick way or anything. I just happen to be attention-deficit, so I need constant change in my life, and writing happens to be ideal for me. The sheer research involved in being able to write convincingly about serial killer situations is enough to keep a person mentally occupied for a very long time, and no one can say the topic is boring.

Most of my research was actually completed a long time ago when it comes to my novel. I've done a lot since then, but mostly because the topic is such a big interest for me. This delay in writing my book allowed me to truly absorb what I learned, though. It's like the difference between a newly minted psychiatrist and one who has a bit of experience treating patients. Seasoning helps.

Don't get me wrong. I got lots of great information right from the start of my research. Many years ago I spoke with one of the professors that worked at the 'body farm' at the University of Tennessee, learning about decomposition and putrefaction, the rates at which a body starts to smell, and some fascinating research they were doing on the odours emitted from cadavers as they decayed. It had a lot to do with how cadaver dogs are able to detect human remains, and they were working on developing their own detectors. It was truly fascinating stuff to me.

I honestly don't know how the researchers work with the actual bodies, however, or the cops that are called out to some of the nastiest scenes imaginable. I've known more than one cop, and I've always been amazed at their ability to handle the smells associated with death, when I can't even handle cat vomit. The host of the WebTV show I produce, who's also a friend, is a former cop who saw more than his fair share, and it blows me away that he did what he did. I can only think that there are just some things that get inside you and that you never get rid of. If I was the type to succumb to hero-worship, certain cops would be at the top of my list.

That's one thing I'm very careful about with my research. I don't allow it to touch me where I live if that makes any sense. I've watched autopsy footage, sure, but I've never watched videos of anyone actually being killed. I've never spoken to a serial killer, that I know of, and never intend to. I've done all the background research it's possible to do, but it was based on case studies and encyclopedias, as well as research papers. I haven't exchanged any letters with a prison pen-pal. In fact, I actually wrote an article on that subject at one time, which you can read here. I do not want to open up my life to a serial killer.

At one time, I thought it might be a good idea to watch the execution of Saddam Hussein. It's widely available on the internet, and I found it with ease. I was about to click on the link to go to it, but at the last second I decided I didn't want to. Why? Well, some part of me told me that it would change me in some fundamental way. I've seen people die, but I've never watched a person be killed. Actively seeking out that visual means something, and I just didn't want to be that person. It would be different if I saw it happen through no efforts of my own. Becoming that kind of voyeur just did not appeal to me, and I knew it would say something to me about the kind of person I am.

When it comes to serial killers, the last thing I ever want is to be on the immediate radar of one of them. I've been on the radar of a stalker, and that was closer than I ever wanted to be to that kind of fixation. Meeting with a serial killer, or even exchanging letters, would mean that they knew I existed, and they had a personal connection to me. Even writing fiction about serial killers, if a reader gets fixated on my work they don't actually know me as a person. Granted, that doesn't mean some nutbag won't decide that they do know me. Their minds are different after all. I'm a writer, though. It's what I do, and I wouldn't let those kinds of fears stop me from doing it. I just know that it's unnecessary to have personal contact with a serial killer to get the information I need to write a credible story, so why risk it?

All in all, living the life of a writer is a blessing to me. I love the ever-changing nature of it. I love that every single thing I do may be fodder for something I'm working on. I love that going out in the wee hours this morning (so that I could buy a new router), I felt absolutely exhilarated with my life. I had my headphones on, listening to my mp3 player, which has mostly Adam Lambert on it right now, and I was dancing at the bus stop. Yup. Dancing. Not real crazy-ass dancing where I was using the bus stop pole and stripping off my clothes or anything, but dancing nonetheless. I didn't care that cars were passing me, and people walking their dogs. I felt free. Happy. Madly in love with my life.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

What a Beautiful Day! Hope for Stimpy!!

I don't care how cold it is, or how mild. Whether the sun is shining, or it's raining, makes no difference to me. No, today is a beautiful day to me because I have hope. I am madly in love with my two ferrets, and one of them has been sick for a long time. We've been trying to find out what's wrong with him, which isn't very easy with an animal that only weighs 2 pounds. It's been a couple of years now, trying to get him diagnosed, and since his symptoms were so ambiguous it's been a difficult and expensive road.

He was originally presumed to have adrenal disease, despite the fact that he suffered no hair loss, because I've always been careful to keep my home dark for him (light triggers the pituitary gland, which is part of the cycle causing adrenal disease symptoms). My vet assumed his symptoms had been abated by my careful handling of him. He'd had x-rays and there were no blockages, his blood work was fine, and he seemed okay for the most part.

I put him on melatonin every day to help regulate his hormones. Then he started to get sick, trying to throw up (ferrets almost never throw up - it's almost impossible for them, though it happens occasionally). I thought it was the melatonin, so I took him off it. That didn't work, so I changed his food. He's been on the newer food ever since then, and it made no difference.

I brought him to a new vet a few months ago. She checked him, suggested an x-ray and blood work once I could afford to do it. She thought one of his kidneys was enlarged a bit at the time, and wasn't where it should have been, but it didn't seem particularly urgent. Suddenly Stimpy's kidneys both got so large I could feel them. I took him back in and she said it was most likely either a kidney infection or cancer.

The vet gave me a good antibiotic that works on most infections, and off we went, hoping the antibiotic would do the trick. It didn't, and he hated the taste of it. She said I should see vast improvement within a few days. After a week he wasn't any better, and he was miserable when I tried to give it to him, so we both agreed he should be taken off the antibiotic. If it was cancer, which was the most likely scenario, there was no point in forcing him to take the medication and making his life miserable.

It was at this point that my vet and I talked about when the time would be right to euthanize Stimpy. If you've been following my blog, you'll already know about the criteria I was planning to base my decision on. If there came a time when he was no longer getting enjoyment out of life, I would let him go, and I felt he would be the one to tell me he was ready to go. If he stopped eating and drinking altogether, and made no effort to live, it would be a decision I would respect.

My vet's opinion, knowing my financial situation isn't particularly strong at the moment, was that to do further diagnostic tests would most likely just tell us what we already thought we knew, and that they weren't going to help Stimpy get better. If it's cancer in his kidneys, chemotherapy was not likely to be an option considering how hard it is on kidneys.

Still, Stimpy has been holding on, wanting to live. He hasn't given up, so I couldn't either. I decided that I would go ahead with the additional x-rays and blood tests, because I just had to know, and today was that day. As much as I caution myself that it may come to nothing, the x-rays provided a ray of hope. His kidneys are, indeed, swollen. Twice their normal size, actually. However, there are no obvious masses showing up on the x-rays, and his spleen looks perfectly normal. It's possible, if he has tumours, that they're in the kidneys themselves, showing on the x-rays as regular tissue. It's the lack of splenic swelling that the vet said was very odd if it was cancer. So, it's now gone back to the possibility of a kidney infection.

Since Stimpy has already been on antibiotics, however, if it is an infection that means it's an antibiotic-resistant infection. It looks like I'll be doing some research into other drugs today, or alternative treatments for infections. I won't know until Thursday what the blood work has to say. If it's cancer, there's nothing that can be done with his specific set of circumstances. If it's not, he's not going to be any worse off having to wait for treatment for an extra day or two.

It would probably be best if I didn't get my hopes up, but I'm going to anyway. If nothing else I'll have a couple of days where I can look at him and think that just maybe he's not going to die right away, and that I might actually have him with me for a couple more years. Maybe I won't have to make the decision to euthanize him. I don't know about you, but I'll take the hope.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Amateur Sports Abuse - Personal Experience

This is something I've been meaning to write about for years, and actually started to do so at one time, but then never completed the article. After doing some research on it, I've discovered that the problem isn't going anywhere, and it's time for me to speak up.

So many parents put their children in athletic pursuits, figuring it will promote a team-player attitude, ambition, fitness, a competitive nature, etc. What they often don't see is the high cost paid by their child(ren). The same competitive nature that imbues the sport their child is involved in, also imbues the person or people coaching that sport, and those people want to win, often at any cost.

As a competitive figure skater, starting from age four until age thirteen, I'm well-steeped in the lengths to which coaches will go in order to be the coach of a winner. My personal experiences were unpleasant, embarrassing, humiliating and painful, and nowhere near the worst that I've witnessed, either. The higher up you get in the ranks of competition, the worse it gets.To illustrate my point, I'll give you some concrete examples, rather than simply lambasting the practice of abusing students.

I've been hit with skate guards (rubbery, flexible blade protectors, although some are made of hard plastic) in the legs, back, hands, arms, you name it. My coaches almost all had the pleasure of screaming at me almost constantly, and only slightly less often offering insults that had nothing to do with my skating performance, such as calling me a slut, whore, bitch, idiot and labeling me lazy. Since I finished my skating career right around my thirteenth birthday, a few of those more colourful insults were simply ridiculous. I was a slut because my arm wasn't in the right position?

I was subjected to a great many pushes and shoves, not to mention kicks from coaches that were wearing skates themselves. My haircuts were dictated and controlled by my coach, who happened to like very unflattering short-haired, tightly permed styles. I was the most ridiculous form of poodle imaginable, and I have to say it didn't go over well when it came to socialization at school.

My diet was regulated by my coach's word, and if I was seen eating the wrong thing it would usually get knocked out of my hand, or I was ridiculed about getting fat - which I wasn't in the least. Most people assumed I was underweight until they tried to pick me up and discovered that I was solid muscle.

If I cried I was laughed at and tormented.

In my case things were made worse by the fact that my grandmother was just as bad as my coach for her vicarious need to shine through my skating. She didn't care what methods were used, as long as she could be the grandmother of 'The Skater', which is what most in my home town called me. I was well-known, to the point where the Lion's Club paid for reading glasses for me, and my grandmother could go begging to other clubs to help out with financial things.

Even as an adult, when I moved back to my home town after being away for a number of years, people who were complete strangers to me would recognize me. This was exactly what my grandmother had lived for. I was asked to come back and perform in the annual skating show years after I'd quit skating, despite the fact that I'd blown out my knees. My coach didn't care. She wanted me in the show as some sort of special guest.

Injuries meant nothing. I was expected to skate no matter how much pain I was in. I was probably about nine or ten when I put the ninth vertebra (thoracic I believe) of my back out for the first time. I was allowed to stop doing jumps for a week, but all other forms of skating were still required. A few weeks later it went out again on the very day I was expected to compete in North Bay. We traveled straight from my school to North Bay, with me lying down in the back seat of the car. I went out and competed, tears pouring down my face through my entire routine. To say I didn't place well would be an understatement. There was no point in my going through the pain, as we all knew I would never get a medal in that condition, but it was 'the principle of the thing'. Well, my 'principle' could have used a little understanding.

I once saw a girl get her shirt ripped off by her coach, right in front of everyone. She was a teenager, so it wasn't like a little girl with 'nothing to hide'. She'd been caught smoking or something, and was a Canadian champion. I won't name her. I think she was punished more than enough for daring to be a teenager. She was quite a bit older than me at the time, and I have to say it shocked the hell out of me that a coach would, or could, do that, despite everything my coach was allowed to do to me.

I was so hoping, when this topic crossed my mind again, that it wouldn't be necessary to talk about this anymore, and that the subject was a moot point. I was hoping that parents and coaches had wised up to the ways of the world, and that abuse in amateur sports had become unacceptable. I guess I was hoping I lived on another planet, because not only do I see page after page on Google dedicated to abuse in amateur sports, I'm also seeing many entries regarding sexual abuse in amateur sports. It's either getting worse, or people are just starting to talk about it now.

Here's the point to all this ranting. Parents, watch your kids! Go to every practice. Make sure your kids' coaches are not getting your children alone. Pedophiles gravitate to activities involving children. DO NOT TRUST ANYONE! Always be aware of behavioural changes. Watch for weight changes, diet changes, attitude changes, changes in sleeping habits, everything.

Watch the interaction between the coach and your kid. Make sure the coach is speaking to your child with respect. Listen to what they're saying, and the tone they're using to say it. Be far more protective of your children than most people will tell you is necessary, because there is NO SUCH THING as being overprotective with your children when it comes to abuse or abductions. My mother, who left me in the hands of a couple of monsters, used to tell me I was overprotective. My response? According to whom??

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Return of the Living Dead, With a Vengeance

Wow! It sure feels good to come back to the land of the living. It's been more than a month since I kicked the painkillers out of my life (along with the Gravol I had to take as a result of the nausea from the narcotics). I still have the pain, and once I get in to see a family doctor I will be asking for pain relief, but in the form of a neuropathic pain reliever called gabapentin. I've had it before, it doesn't give me nausea, and it's mostly none-sedating. I got really dizzy from it at first, but since there was no nausea it was kind of fun. After a couple of days that disappeared and I was able to function normally, albeit with far less pain.

For those who haven't been following my blog, or don't know me personally, I have severe hip joint injuries that require surgery. I was kept on narcotics by my previous family physician who apparently preferred prescribing those to the less harmful neuropathic pain relievers. As difficult as it is to find a new family doctor in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada), I chose to turf the old doctor. I'm sick to death of not getting the help I need from someone who is supposed to be better-educated than I am, yet I'm the one who has had to figure out everything that's been wrong with me.

So, after more than a month without the pills, and about a month without any withdrawal hanging about, my life has done a complete about-face. My brain is alive again, and no longer being a zombie has resulted in a much happier life. Admittedly, it's harder to keep myself amused, but I'm intelligent enough to find solutions to those moments when they crop up.

The determination to come back from the dead has been a result of multiple things. My writing, which I have been doing seriously since last July, is a very big part of that. I wasn't as serious about this blog back then, but with time I've committed to a daily posting. Some days are easier than others, particularly when it comes to finding things to write about, but the further away from the drugs I get, the more I have happening in my life that I feel is worth writing about.

Maybe the writing opened something up inside of me that had been dead for years. I've been separated for a long time, not having any interest in being anything else when it came to dating or relationships. I'm a healthy female with healthy appetites, but the idea of engaging with another human being was beyond me on every level. Timing is everything there, and interest was triggered at the right moment, I guess, because I don't feel that way anymore. If it hadn't been for me starting to talk about things, particularly on this blog, I doubt I would've even noticed a possibility that was staring me in the face. That's not to say anything major has, or will, occur, but the very openness to the idea is a pretty awesome thing for a tough cookie like me.

Then there's the Web TV show. As I've said before, being asked to produce it was the equivalent of a smack in the face with a dead fish when it came to the level of my surprise. My new 'boss' really couldn't have shocked me more, even had he started dancing around on a webcam with a pink tutu - that might have been less surprising actually. I did what was the texting version of a stutter, but somehow we got past a small miscommunication and here I am, producing the show.

The show gives me the opportunity to be a part of something that I feel is important. Since the idea behind the format of the show is to help people, I'm indirectly helping people by being a part of it. As I move forward with the show, getting accustomed to the vagaries of the business, I think the feeling of helping people will begin to settle in more without the distractions of a learning curve. If there's one thing people should realize about life, however, it's that helping others is a great way to feel alive.

These days I'm catching up on things that have been put by the wayside for years. Taxes, weight-lifting, setting up a home as a livable space, giving myself somewhere to work that's a usable space with fewer distractions, working on my book, etc. I put my whole life on the back-burner because I was too freakin' stoned to give a damn, and all because of injuries from childhood involvement in sports. I could continue to use pain as an excuse, and I could continue to numb myself, body and soul, but I'd be wasting my life. It's so bloody short as it is, and living your life waiting for something to happen before you can really live again, is more than just a waste. It should be a criminal offence. I wasn't letting anyone else steal my time away from me, I was stealing it from myself.

Something I've tried to communicate to people for years is the time-life correlation. Your time is your life. If you waste time, you waste life. If someone does not respect your time, they have no respect for your life. I know, that's a bit of an extreme perspective. The problem is, most people don't respect their own time/life. They forget far too easily that the time dripping away is their time to live, and that every second gets them closer to the time when their life will be gone.

I became very conscious of this in my early twenties. Within a year I had six people in my life die. I was closer to some than others, but the loss of people that I knew, every other month on average, is certainly enough to make you ponder the questions of existence. If that year wasn't bad enough, I had a year without death, followed by a year with five more deaths. That's a total of eleven people that I knew, dying within the span of three years, some of whom were very close to me. Two grandfathers, a great-aunt, a former fiance and my first husband, were all included in this group. There were two people I considered friends, as well, one death that was expected because of lifetime illness, and one that was suicide.

So, with all that happened in my early twenties, I learned not to take my time or my life for granted. I learned to grab the bull by the horns and stop worrying what anyone thought when I spoke my mind, or when I lived my life the way I wanted to. I occasionally forget the lessons, but they come back to me once I've strayed too far off my beaten path. I'm being reminded of those lessons now. I'm speaking out, sharing the things that are important, even when I get nervous about it. I try to show all sides of who I am to the people who matter.

Now that I'm back to writing all the time, I also share everything about that writing with everyone who wants to read what I write. Even when that can be a little uncomfortable. I've received a few compliments on my erotica from virtual strangers, which probably made me blush because I didn't realize they were reading it. And then I've had some interesting feedback from people who aren't strangers at all, and that's always the scariest for me.

Writing erotica can lead people to make certain assumptions about you, which are beyond ridiculous. Sure, there may be a personal element involved, and why not? However, not everything is a personal fantasy. Fiction is fiction. If I write something that is personal, and share it with someone it pertains to, that's a really nerve-wracking thing, because you never know how they're going to react. Sometimes it's a great thing, and other times it changes the way they look at you. Of course, if the latter is the case, then it's probably someone who shouldn't be in your life in the first place. Sometimes a fantasy is just a fantasy, to paraphrase Freud.

Even when erotica is based on something personal, the whole story is not going to be factual. You're still writing for an audience that comprises more than just yourself, so the story has to be titillating to the masses. What's the point in sharing it otherwise? You might as well just send it to the person you're writing about. The characters in the story will be somewhat idealized, and many life details will be left out for sheer brevity. There are certain things in real relationships that will make no sense in erotica, because there is no context to support them. Inside jokes only make sense when they're introduced from the beginning of a storyline, and with most erotica there is no beginning. The idea is to cut to the chase as quickly as possible.

Even the most personal of erotica is very much like the movies that are based on real-life events. "Argo" is a good example there. The movie portrayed a situation in which the CIA was largely responsible for rescuing the hostages. In reality, and this was backed up by former POTUS Jimmy Carter, himself, who was POTUS at the time of the incident, it was Canada that was 90% responsible for the rescue. It was a Canadian plan, using Canadian people. Yup! Canadians as heroes - you read that right. We're actually involved in a lot of things no one knows about, but then we don't tend to go waving our Canadian, er, 'flags' around about it either.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre was supposedly based on real events, but if you've read anything about Ed Gein, you'll know how loose that basis was. The serial killer in Silence of the Lambs was also based on Ed Gein, and was far closer to the reality than Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ed Gein, if you don't know, stole skin from dead women and had the beginnings of a woman's 'suit' that he could wear around the house. He apparently wanted to be a woman. Mad as a hatter, though, seeing as he used actual skulls for bowls, and human skin to make lampshades. He'd never have passed the psych evaluation that would be mandatory for a sex change operation.

So, as you can see, making assumptions about anyone based on fictionalized accounts that are supposedly based on real events, is just a silly thing to do. I'm happy to have people read anything and everything I write, but I felt I had to clarify. Writers of erotica are not perpetually horny, and they do not necessarily wish to do everything they write about. It's like the difference between having a sexual fantasy and the willingness to act one out. Women's erotica gets very, very kinky in much of the published works I've read, but I doubt very much the writers all want to do the things they're writing about. Some of those things are just far too painful for me. Of course, I don't have any body parts that are pierced, either, with the exception of my ears, as well as my nostril once upon a time, but I let that one heal over many years ago. Maybe I'm just a wimp.

The erotica I post online has been normal, everyday sex thus far. No BDSM, no fetishism, and not even any exhibitionism. Very tame stuff if you think about it, and things that most people have no problems doing in their own homes without even having a discussion about it. It just happens to be described very graphically. The mood is set, if you will. Still, if there's anything in life that will make a person feel alive, it's a good sexual encounter, real or imagined. Coming back to life as a former Canadian zombie, it's great to be able to write about stuff like that again. Maybe one day I'll get into writing the really kinky stuff, but for now I'm happy being able to write about the same-old same-old, because even writing-celibacy sucks!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Don't Be a Stalker - Not Very Becoming

The caffeine just isn't kicking in today like it should be. Tea isn't cutting it. I desperately need coffee if I'm going to accomplish something today. Yes, it's Saturday, and maybe I should be messing around and playing, but my life doesn't revolve around that sort of schedule, so I tend to feel the need to be busy all the time. My lazy ass seems to be glued to my Ikea chair, however, and has no interest in working out, showering, or finishing my back-taxes.

I used to consider myself lazy, until I finally got my career kicked into gear in my mid-twenties, and it was worse in my thirties. Then I realized I was more like a workaholic. A bit of a jump, eh? (Oh, there's my Canadian vocabulary peeking out. Eh?) It's amazing how wrongly we can perceive ourselves. I would work twelve-hour days, no problem. I liked working, but it was a bit problematic in the personal realm. I was with someone who didn't take too kindly to me not snuggling on the couch with him all the time. I just wasn't built like that. I need to be doing things, or at least working my brain. Television doesn't afford me the opportunity to do much of that.

I have no need to live in someone's pocket, either. I'm not built that way. Maybe when I was younger, but that disappeared somewhere along the line. Probably about the same time I gained some feelings of self-worth. The last time I remember really being weird and obsessive about a guy was when I was in my teens. I think we all go through at least one phase like that, especially if we're insecure like I was back then. Luckily the guy was sort of the same about me, so I didn't have to resort to some of the weird stalking measures that some teenagers do.

We were teenagers, we were crazy in love, we broke up and got back together a hundred times, we fought about other girls and other guys. You know, all that moronic stuff you do when you're thinking from the wrong body part! We broke up for a long time a couple of times, and got back together as adults even, but being in completely different places in our lives we were no longer right for one another. By this point I had my daughter, and he was unfettered. I could have put some reins on him if I'd wanted to, as he was open to the idea, but it just felt wrong by then.

We remained friends for many years after, and although it has now been a few years since I last spoke to him, I still consider him a friend. Every once in a while I think about looking him up, because there are some people that just seem to remain a part of our lives. Still, I'm not looking for anything beyond friendship with him, and by going to that much trouble to talk to someone again it just sends the wrong signal when they were more than a friend at one time. If I happen to see a Facebook page or Twitter account I'll say hello, but otherwise it's beyond the bounds of effort that I feel should apply under the circumstances.

I guess, in a nutshell, that describes my philosophy when it comes to dating, as well. There are levels of interest that can be shown. You say hello to someone, they say hello back. Cool. You flirt a bit, they don't flirt back, you leave it alone. If they flirt back, though, you can move to the next step. All these little checkpoints come up, and you need the appropriate permissions to move forward. If you don't have them, and move forward anyway, that's where you run into stalker territory. This is never confusing. It only becomes confusing when you receive authorization and then it appears as if they've retracted it.

This may sound a bit cold-blooded as a way to describe the mating dance, but it's pretty accurate, particularly if you don't want to come off scary, you prefer to preserve your pride and dignity, and you don't want to end up getting hurt. So many people just launch themselves forward, thinking the whole, "It's better to have loved and lost..." nonsense. It's not. It's stupid. It's poor planning. We are far more free to choose who we love than people like to believe. At any moment we can decide that a person isn't right for us. We can stop believing, stop fantasizing, stop dreaming.

Most people 'fall in love' because they've imagined a life with someone that doesn't even exist. That's not love, by the way. That's nothing more than infatuation. You can't love someone you don't know. What's to love then? Do you love the way their hair curls or something? What kind of ridiculous thing is that? Sure, we can be attracted to that, and have mad fantasies about running our fingers through said curls, but it's pretty far removed from love. What if that person with the sexy hair kicks puppies? Still feel like they're worthy of your love?

A person's appearance is going to either attract or repel us. It's a fact of nature. What attracts or repels each individual is a matter of taste and experiences. I happen to be a fan of intelligence, so the physical isn't quite as important when it comes to cranking over my motor, but I like to be able to keep my breakfast down, too. Admittedly, I've always gone more for rugged than pretty. Pretty usually reflects a personality type that I just don't like, and that is a huge turn-off for me.

I spend almost no time looking in a mirror. I don't even wait for the fog to dissipate from the bathroom mirror before I brush my hair into place. I know where it needs to go and don't need a mirror to put it there. I already know what the hell I look like, so eyeballing my own face is left strictly for times when other people might be forced to look at it and I need to be presentable. If I could put on make-up sans mirror, without stabbing myself in the eye with a mascara brush, I wouldn't use a mirror then either. As long as I'm clean and don't feel a random zit coming on, the mirror is safe from my attentions.

Most men use a mirror far more than I ever will, but since they have to shave their face I can understand the need. I wouldn't be applying sharp objects to my face without a mirror either. They can call them safety razors all they want, but I've cut my legs enough to know their safety record is far from infallible. Try shaving near skinny ankles with protruding tendons and you'll understand what I mean. The knees aren't so great either!

My point, as I seem to have wandered off onto the topic of shaving, is that we all have a choice how far we're willing to allow our hearts to travel, and how much store we put into what our heart is supposedly saying to us. It's the same attitude I have about cheating, basically. We are perfectly capable of avoiding all situations where cheating is an option. We're not stupid, despite pretending to be, and we know when we sit next to someone and have a few drinks with them, exactly where that could lead...or any other number of situations were cheating is likely to occur.

When it comes to starting out with someone, or thinking you might be starting out with someone, it just makes sense to observe what's really going on. Stop trying to kid yourself into thinking it's more than what it is, and be honest with them, too, about what it is for you. Don't send mixed signals just because you're in a mood that day. Keep your actions and reactions in line with what you actually feel toward them, or you're going to confuse the hell out of them. Not to mention the fact that they're going to start thinking you're a little bit unbalanced.

If you don't see a person as anything more than a friend, don't flirt. If you see a person as nothing more than a sex toy, don't talk about any sort of commitment. Even if you do see them as potential relationship material (of a more serious nature), be realistic. Really look at the person you have an interest in, and really look at your own beliefs and morality. If there are major conflicts there, it's always best to suss them out right from the beginning. I mean, if you're Jewish and he's Muslim, and you both want kids one day, are you really going to be able to work out the religious differences with respect to how your kids get raised?

There are just certain things that are deal-breakers when it comes to a relationship, or even a potential one, and you have to watch for them. Make sure you can really handle those 'quirks' a person has in the long-term, and don't kid yourself about how much they bother you. Don't delude yourself into thinking someone likes you more than they do, either. If they're not calling you, they make no real effort to keep in touch, and you feel like you're chasing them, you probably are. It may be that they're shy, but even shy people will reciprocate if you give them clear enough signals.

After a while of not getting return signals, have some pride and walk away. If they actually give a damn about you, they'll grow a pair and let you know (a pair of testicles or a pair of breasts, either one). If you don't matter to them enough that they're willing to put in a bit of risk, they're no longer worth your time. They may like you, they may be attracted to you, but they don't care enough to want to be with you. As the 'good book' says, he/she's just not that into you. If you keep pushing it you become a weirdo.

For as far back as I can remember, even with the teenage thing, I've always walked away when a man didn't show interest. I didn't follow him around, I didn't question his friends, I didn't call him a hundred times. Of course, I've also always had the willingness to put myself out there and say, "Hey, I like you, do you like me?" If you haven't done that, it's generally premature to walk away completely. Then they're left with no excuse for not hitting back. Whatever you do, don't leave someone guessing. It's childish game-playing. Playing hard to get is still playing.

Another clue is to listen for the things that aren't being said, rather than just hearing what is said. If a person isn't asking about you or your life, you can be damn sure they don't care about either one. Now, this could be because they're inherently selfish, in which case you don't really want them as a central part of your life anyway. If they aren't inherently selfish, it probably means it's just you they don't care about. Sorry to burst your bubble, but people who care will want to know things about you. There are those who will limit their questions out of respect for your privacy, and a fear of feeling too pushy, but at the very least they will respond with interest and questions when it's a topic you've brought up yourself.

No, if someone wants you in any way, they let you know. If they're too pathetic to do so, they're probably not very effective socially to begin with, which is a difficult flaw to overcome and something they need to work on before they're ready to be with anyone anyway. If they're not the pathetic sort, and they still haven't managed to tell you anything about how they feel, you're going to continue to feel hurt and rejected subconsciously, even if you haven't accepted it on a conscious level that you have, in fact, been hurt and rejected. There's a part of you that is well aware they're not really interested, and that part isn't going to go away no matter how much you ignore it.

There's a delicate balance between showing interest and stalking, and it's all about reciprocity. You hit, and if they don't hit back, walk. No, I don't mean you bitch-slap them. Hit on is the term I refer to there. Maybe I'm onto something, though. It worked in high school, didn't it? You give a guy a slap on the arm, it's construed as flirting. Still, any progression there is probably dangerous, unless of course you're into that sort of thing.

Friday, 22 February 2013

B-ack! Taxes & Screaming Meemies

Okay, I've just spent several hours doing tax crap that I would like to never have to do again. Ever. Of course, that's just not possible. I have a business, I live in Canada, I'm stuck with it. I entered so many line items that my head is splitting, compiling the data only to discover that I need to split it back out in order to fill out their stupid charts which are apparently required, and aren't simply worksheets that you don't send in. I'm an idiot.

Thankfully everything is in spreadsheet form and I can simply sort and pull it out, but for tonight, if I have any ambitions that require the continued presence of my sanity, I need to quit. At least the data is there, and it's in a workable format.

Sadly, I'm only doing 2008. I have another four years' worth to do in order to catch up. Then there are my GST forms to file, which have changed to HST forms now, so for about a year and a half of those taxes I have to change over to the new system, which uses different calculations. This is where the screaming meemies come in. After years spent living on pharmaceuticals intended for massive pain relief, and being so far behind on my accounting because of it, having to do it all in one pile now is probably going to send me to the nuthouse.

Trying to find out how to spell meemies led me to various meanings of the term. One meaning, which was spelled as mimi instead, has to do with the sounds planes made while taking off from an air force base. Presumably fighter jets, but my head hurts too much to do any real research on it for today. This blog will probably prod me to look it up at a later time, along with my own personal research obsessions. Okay never mind - had that wrong. It was incoming rockets that made the sound. Oy!

A second definition of the screaming meemies refers to something similar to the heebie-jeebies - just as scientific of a definition, I might add. Basically the creeps, the shivers, or something that gives you goosebumps (also referred to as goose pimples, but I prefer the absence of pus, thank you). This doesn't really apply to my situation with back taxes, seeing as Revenue Canada doesn't scare me. Not too many things do. Besides, they're the ones who owe me money, with interest, so they're more likely to be annoyed because I file my taxes, not because I haven't.

The third definition references a mental condition, such as a nervous breakdown. I think we can all agree that this is most apt description of someone who is doing a year's worth of accounting all at once. The accounting part is only a small piece. After that it's the forms, more forms, yet another form, and, oh, look! ANOTHER form. Personal taxes are nothing compared to business taxes. My company is a sole proprietorship, so it's simplistic compared to a corporation, but my personal and business finances are intermingled and have to be very precisely detailed.

Try doing corporate taxes some time, though. See page 4, fill out one line, see page ten and calculate the answer for line six of page 3. Then go to page 11 to add the amounts from page four and page 3. Once you have that answer, please fill out line 38 on page 2. These are Canadian tax forms for corporations - I kid you not! The worst part is, that's only a hundredth of it. Those weird instructions just keep going on and on.

The personal ones are sort of like that, too, except there aren't anywhere near as many pages or calculations. Unless, of course, you have twelve kids, foreign income, investments, RSPs, tuition and $1200 in prescriptions and medical aides. They can get pretty complicated then and it's time to hire an accountant who knows what the hell they're doing. I used to work as an accountant, although I never had the formal certification or degrees. I just worked my way up, and caught on pretty quick.

Technically I should be used to all this crap, but I'm just tired of it. This is no longer what I want to be doing with my life. The problem lies in paranoia. I don't trust anyone else to do my taxes. If I do them, even if I make a mistake, at least I know it's unintentional and not something I'm going to be convicted for. If I sign over trust to someone else, I feel like I'm just asking for trouble. I've been to H & R Block. I know very well that they never ask me the questions that they're supposed to for business accounts.

My ex had a real accountant doing his taxes, who never bothered to claim about $6,000 in prescriptions and $2,000 in tuition for his truck-driving course. Um, that's kind of a problem. I had to basically hand the receipts to the guy and tell him to do an amended return. It was worth several hundreds of dollars' refund. Money that the guy kind of needed at the time. People are far too trusting of service providers, but then that leaves me stuck doing my own damn taxes for the next few weeks until I'm caught up.

The bright side to all this is that I'm going to be sitting pretty financially for a while. Now that I'm done turning myself into a lunatic for the night, I'm going to sit back and listen to some Ozzy Osbourne. Now that's a screaming meemie I can deal with.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Miraculous Survivors Episode - The Kovacs Perspective

It is time once again to announce the upcoming guest for the WebTV show I produce, called The Kovacs Perspective, hosted by +Steve Kovacs. Our live air date is February 27th, 2013 at 9 PM, and this time we're featuring a couple of amazing guests. Miraculous ones you might say.

Our fist guest will be +Jessie Snyder. At the age of fourteen she was diagnosed HIV positive, after a surgical blood transfusion. This later developed into AIDS. Jessie was told at the time that she would not survive past the age of 18. It's been a bit more than 25 years now, and she's still going strong. Nothing keeps this woman down. The daughter she had at fourteen was also given the disease, but sadly Jessie lost her daughter when the girl was twelve.

The life story of Jessie Snyder has been a tragic one, but she maintains her hope and faith against all odds. You are not going to find a more inspiring story anywhere. Jessie has made her life matter. She keeps fighting. She obtained an education and made something of herself, and she speaks to others to educate them about the continuing dangers of HIV and AIDS. If you're in need of something to lift up your spirits, make sure you watch this show.

An interesting side note about Jessie is that she also writes for +SearchWarp, the same website I write the majority of my articles for. We didn't know one another at the time I invited her to be on the show, but instead met through another friend who also writes for the same site, +susan thom. I had no idea then that Jessie was another writer for the site until I saw a picture of her. However, I'm sure you'll enjoy watching her and listening to her on our show, just as I will.

Our second guest is Carl O. Helvie. At 42 he was given a terrible diagnosis as well. He was told he had lung cancer. Refusing chemotherapy, Carl turned to holistic and non-invasive healing techniques. This is a man who knows what he's doing when it comes to medicine, too. He's a registered nurse, holds two Master's degrees and a Doctorate. For 38 years he's been able to keep the spectre of cancer at bay.

Carl is going to have a chance to inspire our listeners, letting everyone know that no matter what the diagnosis there's always hope. He's got a book on the subject that he wants to share with you. If you, or anyone you know, has cancer, you really have to see this show.

There you have it. Our February 27th line-up will literally be miraculous, and these days I think we could all use a hint of that in our lives.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

FINAL UPDATE - Deadly Fire in Hamilton - Please Help!

A tragedy has struck in my city of Hamilton, Ontario. Normally I would not notice such things as they happen far too frequently to focus on them every time, except that this time the tragedy hit friends of my daughter. A house fire early this morning took the life of a 24-year old man, roommate and close friend of my daughter's friends. His name was Leo Aguilar. His family has been notified and his name was released on social media earlier today. The other tenants of the house also lost absolutely everything they owned.

Needless to say, this was a shocking thing to hear upon waking this morning. The first thing I wanted to do was help them, and I have discovered that I was certainly not the only one. A group has formed on Facebook already with nearly 200 members. The outpouring of support is an amazing thing. They are in serious need of pretty much everything. At the moment they're asking for blankets and clothing.

The one female who resided at the address needs size 6 shoes, and clothing in size small. The males who rented rooms at the building are looking for clothing ranging from medium to XXXL. Anything that can be donated will be greatly appreciated. All of the former tenants have lost everything, which includes personal computers needed to look for work, pots and pans, and dishes. My daughter's friends have lost the supplies for their pets, too.

I know that my daughter's friends are also gamers, and they could really use a distraction right about now. If anyone has gaming consoles available, perhaps an old TV you're not using, along with a couple of games, I'm sure they'd appreciate it greatly. Spare mp3 players, you name it. Just think of all the things you would really miss if you had to do without them, that might be a comfort to you. At least one of them lost their cell phone, so a replacement handset that you've thrown in your old electronics box might be a big help - don't forget the charger. Most of us have some old electronics like that lying around.

Donations of material goods can be made at: St. Peters Anglican Church at 705 Main Street East at St. Clair in Hamilton. The hours when donations can be dropped off are between 10 AM and 9 PM Tuesday through Friday, and on Saturdays from 9 AM to 6 PM.

For any of you who don't know the extent or severity of this fire, check out the CHCH broadcast aired at 6 PM here. There is an event posted on Facebook - a fundraiser - and you can view the details here. There is apparently going to be a trust account set up. I will be tweeting the information, posting it on Google+, and pushing it to Facebook. If you're following me, you will get the information as soon as I have it.

Please try to help these folks out. They really need their community to come together. They've lost a friend, they're grieving, and the last thing they need to be worrying about right now is their material possessions. Thank you in advance to everyone who can help. Join the support group on Facebook here. They could definitely use your support. Re-tweet this blog posting so everyone you know gets the information. If you watch the newscast on CHCH, you'll understand why it was one of the most devastating things I've had to witness.

UPDATE - Just so everyone is aware, there was a great deal of salacious speculation involved in the broadcast by CHCH. A press release will be issued shortly by the persons directly involved in this tragedy, in order to correct the misconceptions. I will continue to update on this blog posting as information becomes available.

CHCH "News" postulated that there were suspicious circumstances, using the cuts on the victim's body as their reason for doing so, as well as the window breakage. However, according to eyewitnesses the window was broken by tenants in order to get their friend out of the burning building as quickly as possible. Mr. Aguilar received cuts from being dragged through the broken glass at this time.

SECOND UPDATE - Account information for a trust set up for the victims has been released. Deposits can be made to any CIBC, or transferred if you are not in Canada, to transit number 03862 and account number 8720487. Thank you in advance for any financial assistance you are able to offer at this time. These people will need to find new home, pay for moving expenses, replace items that they did not receive through donations, pay first and last month's rent (as per standard practices in Ontario, Canada), pay hook-ups charges for utility services as well as possible security deposits on those charges, and they may in fact require counseling services that are not covered by regular healthcare insurance. As you can likely imagine, watching a friend lose his life this way is extremely traumatic, and the trauma often takes some time to really sink in.

At this time they have enough blankets, pillows, pet supplie and clothing, but I would still like to stress that if you have entertainment or electronic items you are no longer using, I'm sure these would be appreciated. They have not asked for anything of the sort, and are very grateful for what they've already received, but it's a very difficult time for them and they really could use the distraction. Thanks for reading this and responding. It's been wonderful to see the response this blog posting has received, and the results that have been generated when people come together to help in situations such as these.

THIRD UPDATE - Information was released today on funeral arrangements for Leo Aguilar.

Open visitation on Saturday February 23 @ Friscolanti Funeral Chapel, 2:30pm - 4:00pm & 6:00pm-9:00pm (apologies for the delay on this, as it's too late now to appear for visitation).

Funeral services will proceed on Sunday February 24, at 3:00 PM, also at the Friscolanti Funeral Chapel. Cremation will follow the service.

Friscolanti Funeral Chapel is located at: 43 Barton Street East, Hamilton, ON

FOURTH & FINAL UPDATE - Additional information on donating that applies to donors outside of Canada. Please mail cheques payable to "Survivors" to 230 Weir Street North, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8H 5G3. Include the following account information: CIBC Transit # 03862, Account # 8720487.

Friscolanti Funeral Chapel - 43 Barton Street East, Hamilton, Ontario

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mississippi Mud - Can We Say 'Backwards'?

It's about time that Mississippi abolished slavery, don't you think? It only took them a little over 147 years, over and above the time slavery was in place before the 13th Amendment was ratified. I'd think it shows the priorities of the state in general, that they didn't make damn good and sure it was done a hundred years ago

I have nothing against the people of Mississippi specifically. I don't think I've even met anyone from that state, although it is quite possible that I have and just don't remember. This isn't about the people, beyond the fact that the people remained unaware of, or did nothing about, the lack of ratification of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. That's not unforgivable, as I know how difficult it is to be fully informed of every little thing. Especially since the original rejection of the 13th Amendment actually occurred on December 5th, 1865. People tend to have short memories anyway, so remembering something that happened before you were born is a bit of a stretch.

On March 16, 1995, Mississippi made a blundering attempt to ratify the 13th amendment. Whether the the blunder was intentional or a buffoonery is anyone's guess. Either way, it doesn't speak well for the politics of the state. Officially the state did not abolish slavery until February 7, 2013. Yes, folks, that's correct. Twelve days ago somebody finally dealt with the pesky little slavery issue in Mississippi. Don't believe me? Look it up on Wikipedia. It's all over the internet as well. This is not an urban legend, people.

It took 147 years and 63 days after the official ratification date of December 6, 1865, for Mississippi to fall in line with the rest of the country. Kentucky was the only other serious holdout, having waited until March 18, 1976. Everyone else had pushed it through by February 12, 1901. Even if Mississippi had ratified it when they supposedly had originally intended to do so, in 1995, they were still nearly twenty years behind everyone else. Old habits don't only die hard, I guess; they're entrenched in stone and take a sledgehammer to break them.

What confuses me is that there have to be people in the state who are actually opposed to slavery. Why didn't anyone notice this before now? Equal rights advocates and activists didn't see such a glaring error? How is it that a society could be so uncaring as to allow such horrific laws to stay on the books? It isn't easy to change laws, however, when they are so firmly stuck in a society's way of life. To the best of my knowledge there haven't been any slaves in Mississippi in recent years, but I can't say there was no harm done. Attitudes must be changed with regard to how we view our fellow humans.

I happen to be a big fan of Morgan Freeman, and something he said about racism sticks with me, as it falls in line with my own thinking. When asked how you stop racism, he said, "Stop talking about it. I'm going to stop calling you a white man. And I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man." The point is, we need to call each other men and women, not black men or white men, black women or white women, or anything that has anything to do with skin colour.

Personally, I'm at the point where most of the time I have no idea what race someone is. Half the people who think they're a certain race are often something they didn't know they were. There really is no race other than the human race. My ex is one of them. He thinks he's white. He's not. He's a 'pure-blooded' Hungarian. this means his skeletal structure is largely Mongoloid, rather than Caucasoid or Negroid (those are scientific terms, not racist remarks, I'll have you know). He seems to have this odd belief that Hungary was never invaded or something. Multiple invasions are the reason the language is so difficult to learn, actually. Magyar is very blended, from many different languages, cultures and dialects. There is no root language, per se.

What's crazy to me with respect to racial identity is, if the people who read and believe in the bible were right in assuming we all came from Adam and Eve, it would mean there really is only one race. If no other humans were around, how is it that a person could possibly be superior to another person based on skin colour? Of course, logic doesn't dictate when it comes to creationism in general, so trying to argue with a creationist is more painful than sticking your head into a blender. We will one day evolve beyond the creationists, no matter how resistant they are to the idea of evolution. Either that or the weakest of the species will die off out of sheer stupidity.

The reason I bring up the bible-thumpers, is because a great deal of racism comes out of that baffling group of people. Particularly when it comes to people of differing faiths, such as Muslims and Hindus. They tend to equate that with 'black' or 'brown' people. The bible was used as justification for slavery in the first place, so it doesn't speak well for those who continue thumping it, when we're talking about the very issue of slavery.

Too bad the whole, "Prick us, do we not bleed?" thing has been used so much that it has lost its impact, because it really does sum things up nicely. All living creatures that can feel physical and emotional pain are worthy of fair treatment and respect. If you've still got your head in the sand about that, you can be sure someone is going to kick you in the ass for it.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Relax, Or This is Gonna Hurt

One of the worst things anyone can say to me is to tell me to relax, or calm down. I find it insulting in the extreme. I don't get all 'het up' about daily life stuff, so when I do get upset you can be pretty sure there's a damn good reason. I was recently told to 'lighten up' while talking about Ted Nugent's predilection for sex with minors. This set off all my anger reflexes. The conversation veered to Jerry Lee Lewis and Woody Allen, neither of whom have any more of my respect than does Ted Nugent. They fall in the same bucket of crap in my mind that Hitler falls into.

If you don't know you're history, I'll need to explain the Hitler remark. Hitler apparently had an affair with his young half-niece. They lived together in 1925, when she was seventeen. Ted Nugent obtained guardianship from the parents of a seventeen-year-old girl so that he could have sex with her, because she was too young to marry him. Jerry Lee Lewis married a thirteen-year-old, who happened to be his first cousin, once removed. Woody Allen married a girl who had basically been living as his daughter, whatever he says to the contrary - there was a great deal of information leaked to the media about the inappropriateness of his behaviour with her, right from the beginning - if he'd been anyone other than Woody Allen, most people would have wanted to castrate him.

So, as to my disgust of Ted Nugent, being told to lighten up was not something I appreciated. One in four women are raped or molested in their lifetime. That's 25%. Chances are you know several of them, or happen to be one of them. It happened to me, along with approximately 4.75 million other Canadian women alive today, and around 45 million American women. This is based on the known statistics, and doesn't take into account the women who have never been able to talk about it, or the women who are dead now as a result of it.

If you stop and think about these numbers, is this a subject where people are really supposed to lighten up? I would propose that as a society we have already been far too relaxed about this. Sex between an adult and an underage girl is illegal for a reason. It's extremely damaging on multiple levels. First, she equates sex with self-esteem and love. Second, she's not ready for a sexual encounter, and only thinks she is, but she will reap the psychological fallout later where she will most likely feel guilt and/or shame for her own actions - despite the fact that she should have been protected from this sort of contact. Third, it will affect all of her subsequent sexual relationships.

In the case of Ted Nugent, I actually feel the worst offenders in the deal are the girl's parents. Who the hell allows someone like Ted Nugent to take virtual ownership of their child? Real parents know very well that, no matter what their seventeen-year-old daughter says, there is no way their child should be involved in a relationship with a much older man. It doesn't matter how much your child professes to be in love with someone. It's a parent's job to protect children from their own damaging actions until such time as they are to be considered a full-fledged adult.

Nugent is a predator, not just of animals, but of teenage girls. He brags about his 'sexual conquests' with underage women. How is it any kind of a conquest to manipulate such malleable souls into an illegal sexual encounter with someone famous? In my opinion, he doesn't just go after the young girls because of their youthful appearance, either. I think it goes deeper than that. I think it's likely he's afraid of how he'll stack up with a real woman. After all, a teenage girl is much less confident in her own skin, and is less likely to complain when she doesn't achieve orgasm. The whole thing about being starstruck only makes it worse in their case.

This whole jail bait scenario reflects the attitudes of society toward females and sex. If a man can do what Nugent did, and not end up in prison for it, society has some very bent attitudes. How is it that what he did was okay in any way? How did the courts allow this? Well, obviously money and fame talk. What he did should have been blatantly illegal, but he either fooled the judge who signed the order into thinking he only 'wanted what was best for the girl', or the judge was a corrupt piece of crap. The parents of the girl should be in jail, too, for child endangerment.

Yes, I have a virulent reaction to these sorts of situations. They make me really, really angry. With the Republicans constantly trying to take away women's rights in the US, it's no surprise they would use a moron like Nugent to further their cause. He certainly isn't the poster boy for the rights of anyone but his own self. I won't get too much into the animal cruelty stuff, because this post would be far too long, but suffice it to say he's a heartless bastard. He's stated that animals are supposed to suffer and feel pain. It's what...their job? Just to feed an overcompensating, overweening ego? This is a man with a falsely inflated sense of entitlement, and I thank every spiritual power that might exist that I was never one of his fans.

No, I won't relax, no matter how much it sometimes hurts to speak out. No matter how scary it might be. No matter how much my voice might shake from fear and anger. If I stood down to those who told me to relax, it would hurt me even more to know what a coward I had become.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Onions, Ferrets and Outright Thievery

I have a thing about onions, and not in a metaphorical sense regarding their many layers. It seems lately I love to eat them in almost anything. Thankfully I have a plentiful supply of toothpaste. If I ever have occasion to indulge in a make-out session, I will be sure to utilize it. That and chewing gum. Cinnamon. Not just because I like the taste, but because it's the strongest flavour and it lasts forever. I'm not actually supposed to chew gum, since I have TMJ and it wears down the joint even further, but for a make-out session? Yeah, I'll make the exception. Hell, I do anyway.

I've been sautéing my onions in extra-virgin olive oil, with a bit of curry and garlic thrown in, and you'd be surprised what can be made palatable by adding these onions. Unless, of course, you have a palate that hates onions. My daughter hates them, but then she's only 23. I used to hate them, too, and couldn't understand it when my grandmother used to say they were sweet. Now I get it.

I add onions to noodle soup packages, omelets, any kind of spaghetti or pasta, boxed macaroni and cheese dinners, potatoes, etc. Nothing escapes the onion! Well, except for dessert-type stuff, of course. I'm not quite that weird.

Maybe it's genetic. My aunt used to eat peanut butter and onion sandwiches. I love peanut butter and banana, despite not being a particular Elvis fan, and I also love peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches, but I've yet to try the peanut butter and onion thing. I might have to one day if this predilection keeps up. Right now it kind of makes me shudder.

Earlier today I even added a bit of vinegar into the mix, and then put it together with a chicken-flavour noodle soup package. While I was cooking my one ferret, Pepper, was feeling really left out, though, and decided that if he wasn't getting any of what I was cooking for myself, then he would happily partake of my sock, which just happened to be encasing my foot at the time. He didn't manage to get a real bite in, because I know my boy pretty well. He finally subsided after some mild scolding, and proceeded with additional mayhem in the form of thievery.

Ferrets are natural thieves, and their name is derived from furittus, which is Latin for little thief. They have a long history of criminal tendencies and behaviour, so there is little surprise in my house when something gets swiped. However, since Pepper was neutered he's more crazy than ever. I know the anatomical reasoning behind it, but it sure makes things interesting around here in the meantime, while we wait for his brain to catch up with the fact that his testicles have been removed.

Suddenly Pepper has decided that the cats' food dish belongs to him, along with everything else he's been hoarding the last week or so. This is a big, dog-size dish mind you. The ferrets have their own which is exactly the same - I have four (two for food and two for water). However, Pepper obviously feels one dish simply isn't enough. He doesn't seem to care about the food that's inside it. He just wants the dish. So he clamps his teeth on the bottom edge and drags it off, food and all, into a little playhouse I made for the boys out of empty boxes.

This morning was my first notice of the food-dish thievery, actually. He's never done it before. I went to change the water for the cats, as well as top up their kibble, when I noticed there was no kibble and no kibble dish. I looked everywhere for it, thinking that Pepper might have shoved it around somewhere while he was playing. I couldn't find it. My daughter suggested that he might have stolen it, and I think she was actually joking, but it turned out she was right.

I put the dish back, filled it up really full to give it extra weight, and hoped this wasn't some new habit of Pepper's. My hope is now gone. He's stolen the dish at least twice since then. Of course, being as full as it was, he managed to spill a bit of the food. So, there I was with broom in hand to clean it up. Now, anyone who has ever had to clean with ferrets in the house already knows where I'm going with this.

Try sweeping your floor while having a small animal attacking the broom. Everything you sweep up gets scattered again. Then there's the laughter-factor. There is nothing funnier than watching a ferret go crazy over something. It doesn't matter what it is. Standing there, laughing my head off, sweeping and re-sweeping the same bits of food, it made me realize that the only thing I actually like about cleaning is when my ferrets make it so difficult for me. I don't get much done, but it's a blast while it's happening.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Sea Monkeys, Waterbears and Visionaries

I finally did something today that I meant to do weeks or months ago. It was one of those research questions that will pop into my head from time to time, and if I'm at my computer I'll look it up right away. If I'm not near a computer the question can sometimes fall by the wayside, which is what happened in the case of sea monkeys. It took me all this time to remember that I wanted to look it up.

I remember reading comic books as a kid, and being skeptical even then about the possibility of being able to buy life in an envelope. There was a niggling doubt in my mind, however, since the ads never went away. At that age I was questioning everything just I do now. Back then I didn't have the same access to knowledge, though, so I make up for it as best I can.

I wondered, even at such as young age, how it was that the advertiser could still be selling the items if they were a fake. It turns out they weren't, much to my surprise. What didn't surprise me is that the so-called sea monkeys bear little resemblance to the illustration of them that is shown in the advertisements.

In truth, the creatures marketed as sea monkeys are actually a form of brine shrimp. They are interesting in and of themselves, whether or not they look like mer-folk. It was actually nice to know that something promised in childhood wasn't a complete lie. Their remarkable ability to survive being shipped deprived of water is reminiscent of the waterbear.

What, you may ask, is a waterbear? I'll be happy to tell you. Fascinating creatures that can survive, unprotected, in outer space, waterbears are tiny little creatures and rather unique. They're actually called tardigrades, but another common name is moss piglet. They are a type of creature called a polyextremophile. Extremophiles can survive in extremely harsh conditions that would normally destroy other organisms, and a polyextremophile is a creature than is able to survive more than one type of this sort of environment.

Waterbears not only survive the deep, near-absolute-zero temperature of space, but toxic environments and temperatures well above boiling point. They are highly complex creatures, too, rather than a simple microbe or bacteria. How do we know about their survival capabilities? Well, they've been experimented on, of course. Sadly, all reasonable determinations show that they also feel pain. If scientists were torturing a cat to see if it could survive in space, there would be a huge outcry. Yes, cats have fur and are cute and cuddly - or, at least, a lot of us think so. That doesn't negate the fact that pain is pain.

I know sound like an activist. That might have something to do with the fact that I am. However, seeing as I have enough on my plate at the moment, trying to create awareness about domestic animals, I simply can't take on any waterbear activism at the moment. So, relax, you're all safe for the moment, even if the waterbears aren't.

I have a saying that I feel applies here to some extent. To the best of my knowledge I've never heard anyone else say this, but there's really nothing new in the world, so it would surprise me very much if I was, in fact, the first. The expression is this:

Visionaries are always afflicted by naysayers.

The reason this comes to mind after talking about activism, is because my activism has been confronted by naysayers on more than one occasion. It's those folks who tell me over and over that you can't change the world, so stop trying. They tell me my ideas will never work, so don't bother. They tell me I'm getting upset over nothing, so give up. Well, that's what they told Walt Disney, the Wright brothers, and every other visionary that created an advance so mind-boggling that it changed the way we look at the world. This brings to mind yet another expression I like to use, that is possibly borrowed from others.

 It's easier to say something can't be done, than it is to try to do something about it.

This tells me that people are inherently too lazy to bother. They've allowed themselves to feed into the propaganda of what's impossible. The worst part of this is that they inflict this judgment on their children. They share their cynicism under the guise of trying to teach their kids 'life lessons' and all they're really teaching them is to give up, because their opinions 'don't matter', and they especially don't matter if they're expressed by the young.

The reason this is all in my mind has to do with two things I've been reading about in recent weeks. The first is a teenager in Louisiana who is fighting against creationism being taught as science. The second is a 15-year-old who has come up with one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways of detecting cancer.

Zach Koppelin, age 17, is apparently smarter than a vast majority of people in Louisiana, since for some reason they've passed legislation there allowing creationism to be taught as actual science. It's not, no matter how you slice it. It's religion, and it interferes with the rights of all of the student on so many levels I don't even know if I can list them all. First, there's the right to an education. Second, there's the right to separation between church and state. Third, there's the right to freedom of religion. Fourth, there's the right to free speech. I'm sure there are others, but those really cap it off enough to underscore the issue.

One big issue with these new laws allowing teachers to teach whatever they choose in their science classrooms, is that they're throwing out the real science books. Yes, the ones that say the earth is older than 6000 years, it revolves around the sun, and it's actually round and not flat. Yup, those horrible books that 'can't possibly' be true. I grow blank of mind when confronted with such sheer and utter stupidity. It's stupefying. It's no wonder the creationists can't spell! They've never been lernt how. Yes, that was an intentional error. I was actually educated in a proper system where logic dictated the reasons for doing things, rather than ridiculous sentiment.

Jack Andraka, the 15-year-old who has developed a test for cancer, is a big slap in the face to those who discount the minds of the young. The great thing about young people is that they haven't been indoctrinated into the culture of impossibility. It's impossible to create a cheap and easy test for cancer? Huh. I guess they didn't tell him that. Or that it was impossible for a 15-year-old to figure out such a complicated issue? I guess he didn't know. He did it.

The thing is, we should be cultivating this inventiveness and passion in our kids. If they display such remarkable qualities they should not be torn to shreds by those who are more jealous and scared than anything else. Thankfully Jack was properly appreciated with a $75,000 science prize, rather than being demonized. How about another Rainism?

Time to stop discounting the youth of the world. They have the advantage of not knowing something is supposed to be impossible.