Sunday, January 17, 2010


Maria is always looking for special events or days that she can incorporate into her lesson plans, and she saw somewhere that January 17th is Break your Resolutions day. That stuck with me because that’s my birthday. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do for resolutions this year, so I was taking my time deciding and I figured they could start on my birthday. So, I guess I will start while everyone else is breaking theirs.

As we know, the only one that stuck last year was the monthly picture, and I think it served its purpose. I don’t feel a need to do it again, though I will try and stick with an attitude of not avoiding pictures, and if I find that slipping, maybe I will start again.

For the one on writing one screenplay per month, well, yes, I did it once, but that one was absolutely ready to go. The ideas had been swirling around for a while, and then when Josh died it just crystallized everything, and I was completely ready to go. So I can write a screenplay in a month, but there needs to be prep time as well. Some things only get resolved as you write them, but (at least for me) there is a certain amount of thought that needs to go into it before you start writing. It’s not just to know the plot twists and turns, but also the tone. Like I think the next project will be Pen Pals, and that is basically a comedy, and the main plot and obstacles are romantic, but is it romcom, or farce, or dark humor? Some of the things I want to write need more research, like knowing more background information about the Great Depression, or about Alzheimer’s (no, not for the same things). So, it’s not exactly a realistic goal, though one every two months might be. I anticipate writing more about writing many times.

I probably should recycle the other two—keeping my thoughts pure and not playing with my hair.

In other ways, having resolutions seems kind of beside the point. I have largely switched to a project-based operating model. Back over those months when I was not blogging, I was doing journal writing exploring different options for my life, and the three main areas that I see as needing improvement. I was looking for clarity and I think I have it, but in the process of that I found smaller things I wanted to get done.

I have also found that I cannot function without making lists, and checking things off. Sure, I remember each thing at odd moments when there is nothing I can do about it, but that’s not really helpful. So, I have notebook pages filled with things to do, and then whenever I have some time, I can look over it and find something to work on.

I have been accomplishing more, which I like. At other times, I feel frustrated with how much more there is that is undone. Is it a paradox—the more you do the more you have to do? It feels a little unfair, and yet, I do want to be doing many things. I don’t really want to be lazy, no matter how fascinating television can be.

So that’s where I’m at. I wanted to finish the original checklist before the end of the year, and then before my birthday, neither of which happened, but some things are done, and others will follow.

I intend to get back into sort of a weekly blogging schedule, where I write one regular blog post and one travel blog post per week. (The preparedness blog will still just be an update of the monthly newsletter, unless good bonus material comes up.) The regular blog will go over my main area of focus, the two areas that I am not focusing on now, things that can’t fall to the side regardless of my main focus, and different checklist items, done or not done. I don’t know what order they will go in though, and by the time I am done with them, we could be getting pretty close to 2011.

Anyway, happy New Year. It is one for me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I’ve always had such a crush on you

One thing that never ceases to amaze me about men is that they do not realize that women talk to each other. We love to share, and hey, if we talk to each other, it can get you off the hook for some listening. The downside is that if you are a bad boy, it gets found out. More likely, if you are lame, that gets found out too. If you cast a wide net, where none of the various women in your life know each other, it buys you time, but it is just something to be aware of.

I mention this because there is a guy I went to school with who has been working his way through the class, telling each one, “I always had such a crush on you. I thought you were so cute.” I can’t remember if the count is at seven or nine girls now who have heard it. Sometimes they hear about it in conjunction with what a jerk I am. The last time it came up, I didn’t even get confirmation, because the girl was kind of sounding me out sneakily, and I suddenly realized she was trying to determine if the reason for the rift between us was thwarted love. (No.) I suddenly realized I was tired, and did not want to go down that road, and so I alluded to the crush/cute thing, and suddenly the conversation stalled.

Anyway, the point of this is not that someone needs a new pickup line (although that would be true), but because my mind churns on things and my thoughts follow strange paths, I have thought about that line.

For one thing, it is not impossible that he truly had crushes on each of those girls and thought they were cute. Sure, the repetitiveness (and apparently the presence of a girlfriend) makes it seem insincere, but it is possible to like a lot of different people when you are young. I seem to remember once making a list (while in junior high) of boys whom I found attractive in some way, and I think I came up with forty-eight. I should have looked around for another two to just make it an even fifty, but I don’t remember doing so.

Of course, there were different levels of attraction. Some were just good-looking, but it didn’t matter. Sometimes it was just exciting to talk to them, and nice being around them, but there were others that you would think about a lot, and maybe even find lame reason to call, or ride your bike by their house. Actually, I recently learned that my 7th-8th grade crush and my 9th grade crush were neighbors. That should have been so convenient, but I didn’t even know! Had I just outgrown that by 9th grade? I remember accompanying Danielle on a walk-by in 10th grade, but maybe I was just accommodating her. I mean, I didn’t have to do walk-bys with Mike anyway, because I would just go hang out with him platonically.

The thing that I really wonder about, though, is whether anyone had a crush on me. Certainly at the time I thought it was impossible, but my views were messed up. Looking back, I can see times when maybe there was something there. For example, one time I was wearing a rather flattering sweater, and I got a “Whoa” out of Gary, and I enjoyed that, but it never went anywhere. Kyle agreed to meet up with me at the 9th grade prom, but then Dave got grounded, and Kyle didn’t want to go anymore. He did tell me beforehand, and neither of them did show up at all, because Ann and I were there, and we would have noticed, so it could have been worse, but it’s not exactly a case of someone being excited to be with you either.

(And that Chris guy totally wanted to sleep with, well, anyone, but he tried with me. Slimy horny boys don’t build as much confidence as you would think.)

Mainly what I worry about was that I missed opportunities that I could have had. I believed that boys did not and would not like me, and boys never asked me out, which seemed to corroborate my fears, but because I was always so careful to cast myself as platonic, I never really encouraged anyone. What if I thought I needed to be don’t-be-scared-of-this-gross-girl-liking-you-she-is-totally-harmless, but what I really needed to be was flirt-a-little-he-likes-you-but-he-is-scared?

It’s largely a moot point, because I can’t go back and change anything, and all I can really do is try and be wiser now. However, a big part of my being wiser now is understanding how I was foolish before. This is why in journals, and then in blog posts, I have gone over my entire romantic history (in all it’s one-sidedness), and all of the events and experiences that developed the hang-ups that figure so prominently in my life, and all of the regrets that I have from my romantic life.

So I believe that understanding the past, and trying to get to the truth of it is important, and my knowledge of this area is a big blank. I didn’t think any boys were ever attracted to me, but I don’t know and I don’t know how to know.

I thought about setting my Facebook status to ask for input on that, but there are a few problems with doing so. It’s not really an effective way of reaching people. Some will see it, some won’t, and I will only know that someone has seen it if they answer. Certainly if people took the time to answer “no”, it would sting a bit, and be pretty unnecessary, because that was my assumption anyway. It’s probably more likely that I would hear nothing, and that would feel a little crushing too, even thought it might not mean that much. So, getting good data would be challenging.

On the other hand, asking the question and finding out the answer scares me, which right there seems to be an argument in favor of doing it. I should face fears. I just want to be productive when I do it, and I’m not sure that I could be for this.

Sure, it might be nice to focus more on current attraction, and I will write about that more in the future, but for now all of the guys that I think I could reconnect with or flirt with have a way of suddenly entering new relationships. Good for them, I guess, and it at least settles the question of whether, when you kind of like two brothers, you need to choose right away or can wait until you assess their interest in you, because really I was not sure. Still, it’s a little disappointing.

I guess all I can really say is that I would be interested in learning of any confirmed or suspected attraction to me at any point in the past or, heck, even now. How’s that for commitment?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Giving thanks

I know, it’s feast or famine with me. Well, I wanted to get some things out of the way, because while I was doing journal writing I had things I wanted to blog about, and there is a whole new round of blogging that I want to start, but I am playing catch-up first. This particular post actually goes back to November.

Lately there have been a lot of status update memes going around Facebook, to the point where I won’t do any of them anymore, and it has nothing to do with whether I care or not—they’re starting to feel like those e-mail messages that promise good luck or bad luck based on whether you forward. (I always break the chain. Always.) Anyway, before it got so out of hand, some people had started posting something that they were thankful for every day through Thanksgiving. I thought that was a great idea. It’s still very individualized, and gratitude is important.

When I say that I know gratitude is important, it is not just that it is appropriate to be thankful for blessings, knowing that there are many blessings, but also that it improves your outlook. (For more on that, see

That being said, I was still just amazed by how positive an experience it was. I can’t even say that I was more on the lookout for blessings that usual, because just hearing about the idea gave me lots of ideas for posts, and I never had to struggle to find something to post. In general, I think I am pretty aware of blessings. Maybe it was expressing things publicly that made the difference. I only know that I felt good doing it, and seeing other people’s posts on their own gratitude.

As the holiday approached, I ran out of days, so I did one final, long post with everything else, and it felt wonderful to be so blessed. It wasn’t enough, actually, so I went through my friends and pages and just posted different things. I couldn’t do it for everyone of course, but there ended up being about fifty different postings, thanking people for things they had done for me, or things we experienced together, and even thanking those who have served in the military or in the police for what they do.

Not all of the posts were serious—I thanked George Clooney for just being him, and I know he will not see that—but still, it lifted my heart. I felt practically exultant with gratitude. Those words don’t seem like they should go together, but I am not sure how to describe it. My heart was bursting with a hymn of praise.

Even then, that was not everything, because afterwards many of the people that I wrote to wrote back, and some of the posts were really touching, so I felt thankful some more.

Gratitude is a beautiful thing, and anyone can do it. It’s not that I don’t have problems in my life—actually I have quite a few. One of my posts was that I was grateful that my diabetes was under control and that I haven’t had a cellulitis outbreak for a while, even though I have been sick a few times, which is usually what triggers it. Well, that means that I have diabetes, and with it I have a compromised immune system, so the opportunistic infection that I picked up years ago can flare up at any time. That is not great.

And yet still, somehow, it has stayed dormant for a while, even though there were some really good opportunities, and that is because my blood sugar is behaving fairly well, and that is because after many doctors and experiments with different combinations, we did find a regime that works pretty well. Also, we did that experimenting while I was employed and insured, and even thought it was expensive then because it was not good insurance, it was better to do it then than it would be now where I am uninsured. And I am really grateful that there was a brief time when I had good insurance, and that when everything first came up, involving a hospital stay, IV antibiotics, and follow-up appointments and classes on learning to live with diabetes, it was when I had the good insurance and everything was covered.

There are horrible, horrible things in the world, and they hit everyone, but the world is also filled with beauty, friendship, and grace. Gratitude is really a choice to remember the good, and it changes everything.

Things more offensive than Harry Reid

I don’t actually consider Harry Reid to be all that offensive. Maybe I’m soft on him because it’s hard to find good LDS democrats, but I think I would be okay with his comment anyway. Sure, there was controversy, and I thought about writing on that, but I was busy, and plenty of other, more prominent people are defending him, so my voice wasn’t necessarily needed. But other stuff has come up that just bothers me so much more; so let’s just go for it.

First of all, on the comment itself, he’s not even saying that these are factors in how he would vote! He is assessing Obama’s odds of winning (accurately), which is a reasonable thing to do. With any candidate, even if they would be great at the job, they need to be able to get it. (What’s really horrible is when you have people who are bad at governing but good at getting elected. I’m still scarred.) There are really just two trouble spots.

One is Reid’s use of the word Negro, which has fallen out of common usage, but there is no reason for it to be offensive, unless we consider being Negro itself to be a bad thing. I think leads to the second issue, which is our great discomfort with talking about race. Reid admits that light skin and clean diction makes Obama more palatable to many voters. He doesn’t say that it should, or that it’s right, but that’s the way it is. It makes people uncomfortable to hear it stated so plainly.

I remember once in junior high trying to explain who a certain person was to another person. It was hard to do, more so because I was reluctant to state that he was black. I finally did give in and say it, and that cleared the issue up right away, because this was the suburbs in the 80’s. There were like six African Americans in the entire school, and that was spread out over my entire three years—so at any given time I think there were fewer. Mentioning the color really narrowed it down.

So why didn’t I go there right away? Well, it felt wrong to do so, like mentioning skin color at all would be racist. Well that’s ridiculous. Knowing that people come in different colors isn’t racist—defining their inside by the outside, on the other hand, would be.

We have made some progress since then, but I still think in large part we don’t know how to communicate effectively about race. Some people are too sensitive and easily offended, while others are too nervous, and worried about offending. The problem is that the idiots usually feel completely comfortable spewing their idiocy, so those whose hearts are in the right place are going to need to get their spine in the right place as well.

Now, there is actually an interesting topic in here about how loaded any types of physical description can become, and maybe I will get to that some other day, but this post is about airing my grievances.

First of all, I would like to express my disappointment in Michael Steele. Some of your other recent comments had led me to believe you were moving away from the rancorous partisanship and moving the party into a more enlightened (while still conservative) direction. Remember, I would like to see a republican that I could get behind. Alas, it is clearly not to be.

For all others attacking Harry Reid, you’re going to have to do better than the comparisons to Trent Lott. First of all, their records on racial issues are completely different. When your record shows you as having been against the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it’s going to be harder for people to give you the benefit of the doubt, and that skepticism is justified.

Secondly, let’s look at the quote. On the one hand, we have Reid speculating on how racial issues will affect voters. On the other, we have Lott saying that all of the problems we have now are because the Dixiecrats, who were running on a platform of segregation, did not win in 1948, and that he was proud of having voted for him. Yeah, that’s totally all just a double standard for liberals.

And actually, I have given Lott the benefit of the doubt on this one. After all, he said “we voted for [Thurmond]. We’re proud of it.” However, in 1948 he was seven years old. He was speaking collectively, and I don’t doubt for one minute that he remembers his parents muttering about the country going to the dogs since Thurmond lost, and of course you want to say nice things about someone on their 100th birthday. I don’t think he realized he was saying that all of the nation’s problems come from integration. It is nonetheless a really bad thing to say. Sure, there are still people who believe in it, but they do not belong on Capitol Hill.

Anyway, I can’t feel too much sympathy for him. Yes, he lost his position as Republican leader, but he still served an additional five years, and he could have served longer if he had not wanted to get out in time to avoid rules that would have made him delay starting his lobbying career. That after a gaffe like that he can even be thought of as a political consultant is really kind of a success story.

If feelings are split along party lines for Lott and Reid, it looks like there is a lot more unity against Pat Robertson. Wow, Pat.

When I first read his comments, I thought, “That is amazingly ignorant.” Still, I wondered where he pulled it from, and found this:

It’s fairly well explained there, but not following the worship practices of people who seem evil to you is a far cry from making a pact with the devil. Calling on God, and believing He is good and can help you, is just not a satanic ritual.

Okay, now, I do believe that as the world gets more wicked, more disasters will occur, and that these should be seen as calls to repent, so I can kind of see a point there. I also have said a few times that I think when all is revealed, we will be amazed at how much human actions led to human suffering (beyond the obvious ways), so, I am not saying I cannot see any point at all in his comments, and I guess that Robertson wants people to pray for Haiti, and that he wants good things to happen to them, is nice. And yet somehow, he still angers me. Hmmm.

I think it could be a combination of things. One, he got the story way wrong. He has a large audience, presumably he has some kind of a research staff for his show (I don’t know, maybe he answers medical and financial questions off the top of his head), and it shouldn’t be so hard to get the story straight. So what he said was not true.

Also, even if the story was true, and Haitians of over two hundred years ago did make a pact with Satan, what would be the point of repeating that story? None of the original people are there. It wouldn’t strengthen aid efforts in any way—it could turn some people off. Ultimately, it is not necessary.

Furthermore, God causes the rain to fall on the just and unjust. There is wickedness, but there are good people caught up with it, and innocent children and animals, and even bad people can have kindness in them, and something like this should generate compassion on them, and this feels very much like kicking people when they are down. So it is not kind.

Not true, not necessary, not kind—well, that would be enough to make some people shut up. But not everyone.

So the next target of my pique is probably not as serious as these two, but I’m on a roll:

I know, I have already expressed my beliefs that if you teach your children well about God, and help them build a personal relationship with him, then you do not need every single aspect of their lives to reinforce that, so that if the Brownie meeting does not begin and end with prayer, that can be okay. Not everyone thinks so, fine. But really, you shouldn’t be buying Girl Scout cookies because you’re supporting the girls learning yoga? Isn’t that a bit of a stretch? (Which, since stretching is a part of yoga, gives it a sinister turn.)

Okay, of the examples of female role models given, there are a lot of lesbians, and I can see where that might cause some discomfort, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of role models that did not get mentioned in this article because they were not offensive enough. Also, what’s wrong with pacifists and feminists? Yes, I believe that sometimes war is necessary, and feminism can turn into ugly misanthropy, but peace and equality for women are both good things.

To be fair, I saw this link because it was posted by my sister’s co-worker, who is a rather conservative Christian, and they do like their women submissive and in the home, so teaching them to demand equal pay is counterproductive to the end goal. I somehow hope his daughter will find many Girl Scout friends who will teach her to be assertive without being evil, and if part of that involves yoga, well, I don’t like it myself, but I know other people who do and they have managed to remain good people (and heterosexual too!).

I know, I may not have a right to any opinions, because I am childless (also a woman, so, you know, opinions bad), but I have friends with children, and they have had good experiences with both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, so I would try either. Also, I find the 1 out of 3 statistic highly suspect. So now because some idiots are slagging on Jane Addams, I need to go buy Girl Scout cookies, is how that is playing out.

Anyhow, I would just like to make an impassioned plea for thought—thinking things through, being thoughtful of others, and thinking before you speak. And don’t forget that research is an important part of thought. Like imagine poor Dick Cheney, saying Obama is in denial about war, and then after that seeing his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, where Obama addresses the contradiction inherent in receiving that prize while conducting and escalating a war. Can you imagine how embarrassed Cheney must feel? That kind of thing could stick you with a permanent grimace—okay, bad example, but yeah, something bad as a result of feeling terrible.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Notes on the Rose Bowl

I guess the first point to make is that I am not a sports fan—I am a Duck fan. I like playing sports, though I liked it more when I was younger, and I can get into about any game, but I don’t feel compelled to watch unless it is the Ducks. Once upon a time I loved the Blazers, but Paul Allen and Bob Whitsitt blew it, and even though I know they have come a long way from being the Jail Blazers, I don’t think that love I once had will ever come back.

With the Ducks, it’s different. I don’t know that everyone is that way about their school, and I know there are people who are way more passionate about it than I am, but I always want the Ducks to win, and I always care. In actuality, if they win or lose it has nothing to do with me, but I don’t feel disconnected. I guess if you are a fan you get it.

My point in laying this out is that I am not necessarily unbiased as I share my thoughts on the LeGarrette Blount issue. It seems to have died down now, but a lot of nasty things were said about Blount and Coach Kelly, and the U of O sports faculty, and that’s where I want to go.

People calling Blount a thug, well, that’s not that surprising. Even knowing that there is more to him as a person, that was thuggish behavior, and he brought that one on himself. It’s more what happened after that bothered me.

Coach Kelly initially said Blount was permanently done. Some people agreed, some disagreed, but he did eventually change his mind. This is where it started getting nasty, as people became so sure that he was only reinstated because of the Stanford loss, and only put into the Civil War game after the Ducks fell behind, and that it is all about money.

I can’t say with any certainty that none of this is true, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and here is why.

First of all, one loss and falling behind do not necessarily show that the Ducks need Blount. They played better after his suspension than they did in that first game, and while he could have played in the Arizona State game, he did not. He lost his place to LaMichael James, and apparently Blount has been nothing but supportive of James.

Would the Ducks have won the Civil War without Blount? I don’t know. He played well, but so did the rest of the team. Actually, it looks to me like his coming in energized the rest of the team—that maybe it meant a lot to the entire team to have their brother back. That would make sense. Michael Jordan-era Bulls aside, I think the best teams often have an esprit de corps where they do care about each other, and want success for each other, and in a case like that the reinstatement of the one player feels good and is inspiring for all of them, not just the one.

What it looks like to me is that Coach Kelly knew, and rightly so, that he could not have a thug on the team, so he said the suspension was permanent, but because Blount was making appropriate steps to make up for the incident and become better as a person and a player, it made the permanent suspension feel like a mistake. Well, it was his first game as head coach—a mistake is certainly possible, and if it is a mistake it is one that shows his head was in the right place. I think the reinstatement also shows that his heart is in the right place.

I believe if Blount had stayed angry and ready for violence, he would still be benched. He might still make the NFL draft, or have a chance of a walk-on, but that the Ducks would have been done with him. And for that, some people are still mad, but I’m glad that he wasn’t thrown away.

There was another player a few years ago who had been involved in a very serious fight (not on the field). He got his charges reduced and he got to play for the Ducks. That made a lot of people angry too, and it’s not necessarily wrong, but they were able to give someone a chance. I wish I could remember his name. Anyway, he was disadvantaged, he did have a rough life, and you could call him a thug. He didn’t even graduate, actually, which I think is a bit of a sign that he had some issues. At the same time, he is now a family man, employed, and still working on his degree. Maybe that would have happened without the football program, but I believe it helped, and I think that’s worth something.

With Blount, well, if he does make the NFL, he will be a little more visible, but if not, we may not learn how he turned out until some other Duck gets in a fight. (If that’s the case, I hope it’s not for a long time.) Regardless, I hope this helped. I hope the anger management classes helped, and going through the different apologies helped, and that the support of his coach and teammates helped. Even if it doesn’t, I still believe it’s worth the effort.

I guess this is weighing on me more heavily, because sometimes there are people that I want to help, and can’t. Three in particular come to mind, two with legal issues and one who is just slowly killing herself. I wish someone else would be able to do something. Do they deserve help? Not necessarily—they all should have known better, and probably did know better, even if they had to tune that out. Would someone else’s help work? Maybe not. I just know that I still care. They still have value. The worth of a soul is great in the eyes of God, and sometimes we mortals feel it too. I also know that they could do a lot of good if they could get their garbage sorted out. So if there is a chance to reach out and take a hand, do it.

Also, while the lack of self-control displayed was alarming, given the heat of the moment, the disappointment with the loss, and the taunting from Hout, it doesn’t seem like it really makes him a bad person—not like dog-fighting or more malicious things. It makes anger management classes really appropriate, but he did that. I’ll stand with the coach.

I don’t know Chip Kelly at all, but I got to listen to almost all of the football coaching staff when I was there (I took a class). I’ve gotten to listen to Ernie Kent too, and I know that even though they all want to win and work on that, they do seem to care about the men that they are churning out as well. (Coach Kent actually said he made them learn etiquette and public speaking too, which I think is brilliant. I wish someone had done that with Rasheed Wallace.)

I also have seen that the programs tend to have a lot of loyalty, keeping people around and promoting from within. (A part of me thinks that if Coach Monson had just had a better personality he could have stayed longer too, but I don’t really know—it was a pretty bad season.) It is possible for me to believe that their reasons were good and that they are trying to do right.

If we ever get a jerk coach like Lambright or Neuheisel, I will hate it, and if there is ever a really bad scandal, like bribes or criminal cover-ups, I will be devastated, and yet I will keep rooting for the team and hoping that they will become something better. Also, if they have a really miserable losing season, or lose another bowl game, it will sting. I know all that. I am a Duck fan. That being said, that is not the reason that I am okay with the Blount reinstatement. It feels right.

I’m not sure that I deserve some of the help I’ve gotten over this last year either, but I hope that I can live worthy of it. I hope Blount has the same sense of responsibility, and my good wishes go with him.