Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday roundup

A perfect letter to women-hating gamers (and an article about them). On a quasi-related note, oh some of the subtweets here... speechless,

One woman's Alzheimer's story (from the perspective of a caregiver).

It looks like one of Sarah Palin's crowning achievements may be undone (by common sense).

Fox News has some impressive commenters.

I miss Wales. I remember when I could take all those castles for granted.

Vanilla has terroir.


Yes: compromising and accepting your SO's faults are just the price of admission for the relationship; the key is whether what you're getting is worth the price.

Wow, women pull this $hit, too.

Just because you've paid for something, doesn't mean you can use it at other people's expense.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ramble (updated) and MA pictures

I did better at pole-dancing this week. I wish I could continue with the "straighter" stuff, i.e., that which doesn't involve twisting around the pole, which gives me motion sickness. Swings give me motion sickness. Oddly enough, moving vehicles do not, but I digress. In today's class, the teacher noted my "wicked upper-body strength," which was very exciting. She said later that everyone excels and struggles with different aspects of the activity at first: dancers often struggle with pulling themselves up on the pole; rock-climbers and lifters typically excel at that but struggle with remembering the routines.

Saturday roundup

Experts agree that calm and trust, not panic and quarantine, will end the ebola outbreak.

If you thought poachers weren't doing enough damage: their poisoning vultures is killing animals even more efficiently.

This week we lost three amazing people--Mervin Susser, Helen Bamber, and Ahmed Seif--who gave so much to the world.

If the President cares about the planet, he'd best reconsider steak night.

This tweet basically sums up the issue with "anti-rape nail polish,"
But you can find additional angles here and here, and if you're still skeptical that this pesky broader concept of rape culture exists, see here and here.

Sigh. There's nothing hypocritical about aspiring to a higher standard than you are able to achieve at any given moment (i.e., smoking even as you're trying to quit), much less wishing better on someone you love (i.e., discouraging your children from smoking, even though you're struggling to quit). See also the second letter re: apt responses to rudeness.

Speaking of rudeness: even if it's legitimate for you to be concerned about an unusual situation (and an interracial family isn't one), this is not the way to handle it.

Tuvalu profits from the growing popularity of .tv.

Is Americans' newfound willingness to rent things (anything from tools to designer bags) an indicator of decreased individualism or of conspicuous consumption made affordable?
Science cats! This is a good time to think about how we can pose Gracie for next year's contest. I'll entertain any ideas that don't involve Schrodinger's Cat, which is the most unoriginal, cliched science-cat combination ever. I can get Gracie close to anything (eg., a telescope, microscope, etc.) if I smear cat food on it. So get thinking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday roundup

Where did Libya's wealth go?

Go ahead, tell me more about how producing more food by way of improved technology is the answer to food insecurity, when so much is thrown away already.

Grain accumulates in North Dakota while oil monopolizes the railways.

Here's a doctor's perspective on animal testing for ALS research.

Alzheimer's eventually takes away one's ability to eat naturally, which also takes away a source of joy, comfort, and self.

This trashy, contrived PMS study does social science no favors.

Where people live, by profession.

Wealth, also mapped:

“No one beats up America better than Americans,” he wrote. “They openly debate their inequality, conduct rigorous studies about it, argue about economics vs. culture as causes…. And the debate is so fierce that the rest of the world looks on, and joins in lamenting America’s problems. A shame: we’d do better to get a little angrier at our own.”
A Brit wrote that, fittingly; Brits can be notoriously inept at criticism.

Restaurants (apart from their restrooms) are no place for pooping.

The vegan police help no one.

OMG! Playboy gets it right on catcalling.

Look at these amazing pictures taken from/by Voyager.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday night

Mom: A. really gets on my nerves, but it makes me sad to think that she's leaving tomorrow.
Dad: Who doesn't get on your nerves?
Mom: Nobody else does, really. You don't.
Dad: Ha!
Mom: I get along perfectly with everyone else.
Dad: Just keep telling yourself that.

This followed an epic fight over my having vacuumed. When I did yoga this morning, I observed the filthiness of the floor in all its glorious detail, but didn't have time to do anything about it. But when I got back from my friend's house and looked for something near the floor, I saw all the dirt again and had to vacuum. So I did. Mom rolled with it until I rolled over a small piece of packing foam.

Mom: You're going to break the vacuum!
A.: No, I'm not. 
Mom: That's it! Turn on the TV!
A.: No, let me finish.

I vacuumed the living room and the stairs, and upstairs hallway. And collected an impressive amount of dust.

Mom: Turn on the TV!
A.: I'm busy!
Mom: You're not achieving anything!

Everything looked cleaner already.

Mom, watching me empty the filter: That's all from when I vacuumed the other day.
A.: Okay.

I didn't tell her that I'd emptied the filter before starting. All that dust was new dust.

There aren't enough lotus flowers in the world

What I've learned from my four full days here is that all I can take is four full days here, under the best circumstances; three are better.

The best circumstances: it's nice out, so it's easy to get outside; I saw three different friends (one, twice) and spent a good chunk of three of the four days away from my parents. And they're still driving me up the wall. Yes, they.

We got out for that walk just in time (mom got over herself about when I finished the last post). Mom had a fit because she didn't like where dad parked, so she had to yell at him about it in the street for at least five minutes, but then we went for a nice leisurely walk. I wasn't quite nervous as we were getting back to the car, but I was annoyed by mom's dilly-dallying.

Dad: She'll just do it on purpose if she senses that you're in a hurry. You know she loves to dilly-dally at other people's expense.
A.: Yes, yes I do.

I know that dad deals with a lot of crap and I need to keep cutting him slack, but I'm just continually frustrated with his inability to deal with things. Like dust. Can he really not get a real vacuum, and vacuum? This lack of domestic skill manifests itself in particular with food. You've heard me complain about how he doesn't refrigerate things as needed and how he makes bread stale faster. But it's only partly about food; it's more about not listening.

We got back exactly fifteen minutes before a friend was going to pick me up, so I took the opportunity to start cooking chard for dinner (I'd just turn it off and leave it covered when I left) and set tofu to drain. When I got back, the tofu was back in its water, but whatever; dad couldn't know the purpose of bricking tofu. I set the chard aside into a bowl so I could use the pan for the tofu.

Dad: I'm going to try the chard.
A.: Okay, but it's not very good as it is. I'm going to mix it with the tofu when it's done.

Dad tries the chard.

Dad: It doesn't taste like much.
A.: Okay, mom.
Dad: It needs more seasoning.
A.: Right?
Dad: I'm just telling you my opinion.
A.: And I'm telling you that I just told you that it wasn't going to taste like much yet, so why are you telling me that it doesn't taste like much?

Yesterday, the same thing happened with corn tortillas.

Dad: These aren't very good.
A.: [Eye roll] I told you to wrap something in them. Corn tortillas are only good plain when they're fresh.
Dad: They're just really bland.
A.: What did I just say (for the second time)?

The phone rang. Dad told mom not to answer it, but she did. With the TV at full volume. Who does that? That was a rhetorical question; they do it to me all the time (or even call me when it's on) and I have to tell them to turn off the sound.

As we speak, my parents are fighting over what to do over a repeat phone call from what may or may not be Capital One credit cards (the other possibility is that it's a phishing scam). I had to interject at one point with, "OK EVERYONE BE QUIET, NOW!" because I couldn't take it.

Mom: They're just around the corner; we can go talk to them in person.
A.: The bank is not affiliated (or very loosely affiliated) with the credit card company. The branch will be of no help to you. Here's what you're going to do...
Mom: But they're just over there.
A.: What did I just say? Anyway, when I get fraud-inquiry calls, they leave a message, and these guys haven't been leaving messages so I'm skeptical. But if there is fraud on your card...
Mom: Let's just go over there.
A.: I give up.

She's been going on and on and on--she's said "let's just go over there" ten times since I first typed up the conversation.

Mom: Why call? That just complicates things. Why not just go over there.

In between, she also got a rant in there about how dad moved the cans from the basement to the pantry.

Who cares that I'm not wearing pants?

I try to appreciate the moments when mom is not being full-out nasty, even if she's still being inappropriate or not helpful. I think I've mentioned before that her gossiping makes me very uncomfortable. I didn't want to hear about the pregnant neighbor's drama with the baby's father the first time around. I don't want to hear about other people's relationships, much less mom's theories about why their lives are the way they are. I just want to scream, "that's none of your business!" But I don't.

The recurring theme this morning was mom's trying to talk to me--about these things, among others--as I was trying to do things. Which would have been fine, except for the constant "are you listening??" and the requisite annoyance when I snap the fourth time I answer that question. It culminated when I was dying my hair. Mom started on about a friend's daughter ("she used to sing terribly...") as I was mixing the henna and continued as I had to leave the room to get the gloves, etc.

Mom: Are you listening??
A.: Yes, I'm listening. I can hear you from the next room.

It reached a level of absurdity when I was washing the henna out of my hair, which I did with the garden hose (trust me, it's much more efficient than using a shower nozzle, and you don't get henna all over the shower). And I have the whole henna process down to where I do it in normal clothes without worrying about getting it on them.

So, I'm standing there, spraying water onto my head.

Dad: The water falling into the bucket is green.
A.: Right.
Mom: I never liked that guy. You should hear the way he talks to her!
A.: Why is the flow so weak??
Dad: Oh, it's adjustable. I can adjust it.
A.: Please do.

So now there's a stronger spray of water hitting my head.

Mom: Do you hear those dogs? They're really cute, but they're not the dogs I would get. I prefer full-sized dogs. We can go for a walk to look at those dogs. Do you want to see the dogs.
A.: Later, mom.
Dad: You still have some henna-mud on this side.
A.: Thanks.
Mom: I don't mind small dogs; I just don't want one for myself. Do you want to go see them.
A.: Maybe later.

Mom kept going on about the neighbors. Dad and I went to the store, came back. I noted that if we were going to go for a walk, we needed to go now because I had early-afternoon plans. Dad said to tell mom.

A.: Mom... why aren't you wearing any pants?
Mom: It's hot out.
A.: Shorts?
Mom: Whom am I bothering? Who cares? That's why I asked you to fix this (long) shirt.
A.: Fine. Anyway, if we want to go for a walk, we need to go now...
Mom: We'll go when I'm done.
A.: Then you and dad can go on your own.

Twenty minutes later

Mom: I don't enjoy conversation with you. It's nothing but rudeness. Feel free not to visit again.


Mom: I don't find conversation with you enjoyable.

At least she's calmly muttering her insults today

Mom: I feel no joy when you visit. Any feelings I ever had toward you are dead. Only coldness emanates from you: the coldness of a know-it-all.

Dad and I thought today was shaping up to be peaceful day. At least she's saying these things, rather than screaming them.

I was doing yoga when mom came downstairs, but luckily, she went outside rather than talking to me (not before throwing a shirt at me so that I'd sew on a button, but still). I told her I'd get to it as soon as I was done. But then she started talking to me from the garden, through the window.

Mom: Come look at these flowers!
A.: Not now, mom. I'm busy. I'll look at them later.
Mom: Suit yourself.

Mom kept talking to me (i.e., to herself). She came in just as I was finishing up.

Mom: Have you finished?
A.: Finished what?
Mom: Sewing the button.
A.: I'm just about to start.
Mom: Get on it, because look at what I have to wear in the meantime.

Dad and I have had conversations with her about not going outside, even to the garden, in various states of undress, but she doesn't react well to these conversations at all.

I started looking for needles. Mom started rambling.

Mom: Yeah, dad just keeps moving everything around and I can't find anything anymore. I don't even try. Are you listening to me?
A.: Yes, I'm listening.
Mom: I need one of those brooms that inverts onto itself, so you don't have to... are you listening??
A.: Yes, yes I'm listening.

I find a needle and some thread, and get to threading it.

Mom: What side does the window need to be cleaned from? Look at it. Look at it!
A.: Mom! Do you want me to look at the window or do you want me to sew your button?
Mom: I can sew the button myself! Having to ask you to do it obviously costs me much more! You are so cold. The coldness of a know-it-all emanates from you, but I've told you that. I don't need for you to visit anymore.
A.: Here, your button is on.
Mom: Thank you.

Saturday morning roundup

Rest in peace, Simin Behbahani.

I have very mixed feelings about the stunt itself (especially given its success) and supporting medical animal testing (I have no issue with stem-cell research). I'd need to do more research on how unnecessary and ineffective it is, both scientifically and in general:
But if you really want to support medical research, get on the phone to your member of Congress and demand a stop to cutting the National Institutes of Health budget, experts say.

Finally, get comfortable with the fact that people will joke about your diet, talk about your diet in excess, criticize your diet and ask you questions about your diet. Remember that what you choose to eat is your business, and you don't owe anyone an explanation.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Still violently ranting

Mom is at it again. She's ranting about how dad has ruined everything, moved everything around. She arranged everything, and he moved it behind her back. Why are those papers there, why are things there. What did he do with the pantry? She's screaming her head off and just knocked a bunch of things, including my phone, off of a table. Dad left and went for a walk because he couldn't take it. I spent most of the day out of the house, and I don't blame him for needing to get out.  I keep telling her that everything is where it always has been, but she accuses me of lying. She's ranting about how he moved her papers, took cans out of the basement where it's cool. She's threatening to take everything and pile it up in dad's office.

Mom: Everything that's good in this house, I brought here. He only knows how to ruin things! I did everything good!
A.: Very good, mom.
Mom: Who asked you?
A.: Whom are you screaming at?
Mom: What else am I to do?
A.: Not scream?

She's still screaming.

Friday morning violent fit of rage

Mom: I already know that you're lost to me. You don't talk to me about anything. I already know. And I know that he's your dad and you'll defend him. I'll move. I'll leave the country.


Mom: I think I have an apartment in Russia. I'll go there.

This came after an hour or so of mom's screaming at dad at the top of her lungs, calling him names, and accusing him of rearranging things behind her back--sometimes at night. That's right: dad gets up in the middle of the night to misplace things, out of spite to her.

Mom: I did everything. I bought everything in this house. I thought everything through. I made every good decision for this family. All he does is destroy things. Look at that TV: does it belong there?

At one point, she ripped a spice rack off the wall and threw it on the ground.

Mom: I used to think your father was a good person, but now I realize he just boosts himself up that way, often at my expense. I've lost myself. I've become dependent on him. And he benefits from having someone dependent on him. But I don't need that. I don't need his care, at my expense.

This is all so sad, because mom is justified in being frustrated at her loss of independence. It's just that, as with everything ever, she has to blame it on someone else and take it out on someone else.

Mom: The only way to find myself again is to leave the country.

Friday ramble

Mom is throwing a fit over nothing, as she does. She, of course, doesn't realize how counterproductive her behavior is and how it just trains us to ignore her and tune her out. The immediate trigger this time is that dad pointed out that she wasn't sufficiently dressed to go outside--this was a theme when she was at my house too (both the gardening in insufficient clothing and having a fit when I pointed it out)--but, as always, the root cause is that she feeds on throwing fits, and so she looks out for provocation or creates it.

Friday morning roundup

FFS, people. Also: perpetrators get away with their $hit by counting on shame. This one almost did.

Interesting perspective on science and religion, among other things.

Mom, to her credit, never fed me tapeworms.

Screens are making your kids socially inept.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lotus flower

I hate giving my dad crap because he means well, but sometimes meaning well isn't enough. Remember how I had a toddler tantrum at him in December because he continued to approach the skid-prone car that I was trying to park? All I could do was roll down the window and scream "GET THE F* AWAY FROM THE CAR! NOW!" and he still didn't. And I was already furious at him because before I got to the driveway, he (I was following his car back from the mechanic's) kept stopping along the way to let me "catch up" even though he knew I knew the way and I was deliberately trying to keep my distance because the car was skidding.

Well, this not unlike what happened this afternoon. In which, for a good half-hour or more, I worried about them and wondered whether something had happened.

We took two cars to go see Nina, so as to leave one with Nina to have while she's in town. Mom offered to ride with me, but I declined on account of not needing a backseat nag. I stated clearly that I'd be fine, because if they lost me, I'd just use the phone. They even saw me put Nina's parents' address into my phone just in case. I explicitly said, "do not wait for me. I will find it."

So, naturally, when I took a wrong turn, dad apparently decided to wait for me. Because that could possibly be helpful?? I didn't even realize he'd seen me miss the turn; he'd gotten through a light that I'd stopped at, so I thought they were far ahead of me. I took a wrong turn, realized it immediately, and got back on the right road. Because I have GPS on my phone and he knows that.

I got to Nina's parents' place, expecting to find my parents there. But my parents were nowhere to be seen. And it must have been another 30-45 minutes before they showed up. During which I wondered what could have happened. When dad told me that he'd stopped to wait for me I had a fit. Because WTF. I wouldn't have seen them anyway. I wasn't looking for them. I'd told them not to wait for me.

Mom declared the baby adorable. Everyone kept telling Nina what to do ("don't hold her like that," "I think she's cold," "I think she's hungry") and I couldn't help but tell everyone to shut up. When we left, mom asked me when she'd get her grandbaby, and then noted that the cat was all I was good for. It's almost enough to incite me to have a revenge baby just to keep it the hell away from her.

But wait, there's more

Mom: Why do you love Nina?
A.: I don't know, mom.
Mom: It's just interesting. Do you have something in common, or something?

I did not say, batshit immigrant parents who do batshit immigrant shit, like using urine as disinfectant and facial wash and broadcasting it.

WTF?? even by mom standards

This morning, Nina's dad called my parents. Nina's dad has been friends with my mom for sixty years.

Nina's dad: Nina's here... but she stepped out.
Mom: Yes, we know. A. wants to see her, for whatever reason. So, what do you think of the granddaughter? You can tell us now that Nina's out of the house, in case you wanted to share your unvarnished assessment.
Dad: Of his baby granddaughter??
Mom: I'm just saying.

Just now:

Mom: Why do you love Nina?
A.: What??
Mom: Why do you love Nina?
A.: I don't understand the question.
Mom: Why are you so attached to her? Why do you want to see her?
A.: [Speechless]
Mom: Seriously: why do you love Nina?
A.: Why does anyone love anyone?
Mom: I don't know. I'm trying to understand.
A.: [Shrug.]

Late Thursday morning roundup

This, not this (police perspectives on Ferguson). And The Onion for another perspective.

Birth control: it works.

Carolyn on the advantages of becoming less hurtable. And on how tip-toeing makes things worse:
It sends the message that ignore-ignore-boom, and holding an entire family hostage, is an acceptable way to behave.
How this applies to my mom: dad and I are both over catering to her because she's sick and obviously more out of her mind than ever. It just doesn't work when someone's persistently nasty.

Yes, yes, I get it, I can consider myself motherless

Mom went on an epic rant over breakfast. It was all over the place, with a lot of name-calling and conspiracy-mongering (did you know that Obama is deliberately inviting illegal aliens and granting them citizenship so that they'll vote for him next time around, once he abolishes term limits so that he can be president for life). I didn't engage her. She came into the room where I was reading the paper.

Mom: Did you know that he equipped Hamas with the best weaponry? Now do you see who's right?
A.: Not you?
Mom: Ha! Not me? You think you know everything. Only coldness and haughtiness comes from you. When you first cut me out of your life, I was hurt. I'd once lived solely to give you a good life, but no longer. I don't care about you anymore. You can consider yourself motherless. Well, at least you have a father. When your dad says he wants to visit you, I say I don't. He says, "how could you not?" I say, "because something inside me has died; I have no feelings for her anymore. I feel only her rudeness and coldness. That's all she has, all that comes from her."

Thursday morning roundup

Anti-semitism in Europe is getting more intense. Then there's Taiwan, or is that just cluelessness?

The new strategic deterrence.

Charles Blow on how to overcome our cowardliness in talking about race.

In good news: Dr. Kent Bradly has recovered!

A dark matter candidate other than WIMPs.

This is why they had to move the UFO from Long Island to Chicago.

Did you know that counterillumination was a thing? And that polarization isn't just for sunglasses?

Perfectly valid reasons not to vaccinate your kids (must read).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nina and me

Meanwhile, true to my prediction this morning, "you're dead to me/consider yourself motherless" has reached "pass-the-salt" levels of normalcy. In that, I was exaggerating this morning when I said that we were at "consider yourself motherless"/"yeah, okay mom lemme just finish this article" but by the afternoon, at the beach, we were pretty much there:

Mom [from out of nowhere]: Consider yourself motherless.
A.: [Yawn.]


Mom: Who are you seeing tomorrow?
A.: Nina.
Mom: Oh, right.

Now, take a minute to note that the last time we were at Nina's parents' place was right before they moved (in which the least f*ed up thing that happened was when mom tried to bully me into trying on a fur coat). But that's not the subject of this post. The subject of this post is that mom's nonchalance, even in her current mental state, is bewildering.

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