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All posts for the month November, 2010

Dogs

Published November 20, 2010 by Hemlock

Dogs, are not for everyone, that’s for sure. However, if you are a dog person, they can add so much joy to your life. I got to thinking about what makes them such wonderful pets, and this is what I came up with:

1. They’re stable. Most dogs don’t seem to suffer mood swings. You always know what to expect. In addition, there’s no contradictory body language you need to decipher. Their mood is plainly written on their face, and the wag of the butt.

2. Unconditional love. I don’t care what anyone says. Humans are not capable of this. There are always conditions to whatever humans do. With dogs, it doesn’t matter what you look like, what you smell like, what your sexuality is, how much money you make, or what your mood is. Even if you are an animal abuser, they always seem to assume the best about everyone.

3. They’re empathic. The debate about emotions and dogs has gone on for years. As far as I’m concerned, dogs understand and experience emotions to at least a limited extent. Studies are beginning to show that dogs are capable of reading a human’s emotion via the face. I completely agree with this sentiment. Dogs always seem know when you’re sad or angry, and always seem to do just the right thing. We’ve bred them to be our companions, and I think that whether it be accident or design, we’ve bred the ability for empathy into them.

There are a million other reason to own a dog and have them take part in your life, but those are the three that are the most important to me. There are downsides, of course. There are downsides to everything. With pets, the most noticeable is their lifespan is short when compared to ours.

You know what, though? It’s worth it. I don’t regret, for a single moment, the three years I had with my dog Tsuki. To this day, I still don’t understand how her original owners could have abandoned her. There was some thought that she may have been abused due to her fear of men (took her quite a while to warm up to my husband). We won’t ever know and there’s really no use in dwelling on it. What I do know, though, is that she was an absolutely amazing animal who brought love and light into my life. Always someone to turn to, and never had to worry about her not being there.

She’s been gone now for almost a year. Last November she began to show signs of illness, and what turned out to be intestinal lymphoma. After almost a month of fighting, we finally had to make the decision to give her peace. It wasn’t easy then, and now that the anniversary of her passing is quickly approaching, it isn’t easy now. I find that everything reminds me of her, and the first snow of the season was very bittersweet. You see, she loved the snow. It didn’t matter how cold or tired she was, she was never too cold or tired to make snow balls and chase them down the hill, or simply enjoy the fluffy whiteness.

I’m One of the Fortunate

Published November 18, 2010 by Hemlock

Bi-Sexual DatingRecently, I posted about how unhappy I was being an American and highlighted some comments from a news blog that I’d read an article on. Well, someone managed to find my blog post amid the millions and posted a response. My husband and I both agree that it was a very well thought out comment, and above all, it was refreshing.

Curious, I followed a link to Djayden’s blog and read his(?) most recent post: America’s anti-gay society. You know what happened when I read it? It got me to thinking, that’s what it did.

I am bi-sexual. That’s right, I like both girls and boys, and no, I’m not confused and never have been.

So, what is it that got me to thinking? In his post, Djayden talks about understanding the unfortunate consequences of bullying, and coming to terms with your sexuality in a hateful and fearful world; suicide. He talks about the feelings of waking of each day wondering why he bothered… and about thoughts of suicide.

I have to say that this is something that was never an issue for me. I don’t know if it’s because of the generation I grew up in, but I think it has a lot to do with my family.

I grew up in Santa Cruz, California. It’s small tourist town practically down the road from San Francisco. When I was living there, it was an open-minded extremely liberal hippy town, and it still is.

From a young age I was surrounded by people who only judged you by your actions; not by your choice in lovers, or your political faction. If you were a good person, you were a good person. If you were an asshole, you were treated as such. We also had friends of the family who were openly gay, and in committed relationships. So, for me, same-sex partnerships were normal.

I always knew that I liked girls as well as boys, and as far as I can tell, so did my family. My great-grandma, who raised me, always made a point to tell me that it was ok to love whomever you wanted and if I ever had any questions about anything, I got answers. I remember this one time… I must have been about six or seven, and for some reason I was very upset about someone’s response to something related to lesbians. I don’t remember what it was, something about how ‘gay’ was just a new fad or something like that. Anyways, she told me that her best friend growing up was gay, and that he used her as ‘cover’ during WWII to meet his lover. What sticks in my mind the strongest, though, is that she sat and watched a documentary on PBS about lesbian women. It showed women of all ages. There were women older than my grandmother while others were in their twenties. I don’t know why that has stuck with me all of these years, but it has.

I think that I was very fortunate in my life. I never questioned my sexuality, and never felt that it was a problem with my family. You know why? Because my family always accepted me for who I was, even before I knew who I was. I never had to “Come Out”. Matter of fact, the closest I ever came to that, was actually to myself in middle school when I realized that not everyone felt the same way as I did.

The closest I’ve come to a lack of acceptances is my mother stating that I was just confused because I consider myself bi-sexual, but that’s another blog post.

I don’t know how to really end this post, other than to say, that one day my story will be more common. It’ll be like that for my children if I ever manage to have any. One day, people won’t have to “come out”, one day we’ll all be considered normal.

I’m so tired of America

Published November 15, 2010 by Hemlock

You know, I’ve just about had it with the American people. Really… I’m serious. I don’t care if it makes me anti-American in some people’s eyes, but I’m tired of the bullshit.

There was an article posted on a news blog called The Lookout. The focus is a video about a young boy who has an opinion. Well, we all have opinions, sometimes they need to be heard and sometimes they don’t. In this situation, considering the latest hate-bullying issues we’re seeing, his opinion is one that needed to be heard.

However, once again, I scrolled the page down to read the comments. I honestly don’t know what I expected to see, but whatever it was, I was let down. It was full of comments like the following:

Remember when in America we had a thing called morals and we honored chastity and innocence. Now we champion immorality and and homosexuality like a good thing. American families are falling apart so no wonder America is falling apart. Shame on the school board for letting a confused 14 year old boy speak on something he has no business speaking about. – Golden

In regards to the boy attempting suicide when he was only 9 years old: To bad he didn’t succeed when he was 9. This whole gay trend is getting out of hand. – Valmeticulous

There should be no bullying by anyone. But gays and bi are people and like sodom and gamora (sp) if gays and bi get support then they can be bullys. If you give gays and bi so much support then I hope that it is your child who is forced to hold hands with them while a self serving teacher turns their head to it. Bad enough I am forced to hear of their lifestyle. Many companies are even providing marriage benefits to them instead of providing benefits to those who work there and hardly get anything. – Kelly

There were many, many more hateful comments that I can’t find now because so many people are busy throwing up on the comments section of the article, but I think I make my point.

I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but somewhere it has to be better. Somewhere, there has be a place where acceptance is the norm… where people are educated and leave each other alone.

Hajj

Published November 15, 2010 by Hemlock

Hajj Pilgrims on their way to Mecca

Mr. Zachreson, wherever you are, I hope you’ve been able to make your Pilgrimage to Mecca.

I’d have to say that the most influential educator in my entire life would have to be, hands down, Nick Zachrreson. He was my 7th grade CORE teacher when I was going to Branciforte Middle School. As I look back on it now, he was a very cynical man, who scared the shit out of me the first time I met him.

At the time, I felt that he expected too much out of his student, but as I grow older, I come to understand that he simply expected what should be expected from his students.

He was an American who had converted to Islam. He never really spoke of it, but I remember the prayer rug in his room, and it was absolutely beautiful. He never prayed at school, but it was there as a reminder for him.

As a man of many moods, he was an unpopular teacher, but he absolutely fascinated me. He was a very educated man who commanded respect.

He is the man who unlocked the door to my passion for history, language, and most importantly; how to look at things objectively. This is something that my Nana and Grandpa had tried to drill into me for as long as I can remember. To some extent they had succeeded, but it took a single comment from Mr. Zachreson to drill the idea home, “Allah, is nothing more than the word for God in Arabic.”

To some, that may not make much sense, so let me tell you a bit about my upbringing. I do need to define something, though, before we get going. For ease of conversation, religion will refer to any set of standardized or organized systems of spiritual belief. That being said I was raised by my Great Grandmother who, as a child, was raised with no real religion, but when they did attend church, it was usually Baptist. However, she attended a Catholic school and partook in Mass during the week, and then on Sundays after her Baptist sermon, her and some friends would run ‘across the tracks’ to the Holy Roller church. As she grew up, she drifted away from her childhood upbringings, but ended up converting to Judaism to marry one of her husbands, and then ended up marrying a Mormon.

Next in line would be my Nana who didn’t follow any sort of organized religion, that I’m aware of, but her father was Mormon, and because she was born into a Mormon family based upon the belief system she is a Mormon by default – she just isn’t a ‘good’ Mormon. At some point she was involved in the Lutheran belief system.

My mother considers herself a Non-Denominational Christian (think NIV vs. King James).

My Grandpa Robert now considers himself an Atheist. Before the Vietnam war, I believe he said he was raised Catholic.

My Grandpa Butz is a practicing Mormon.

Then lastly, my Grandpa Bill was religious, though I’ve never gotten anything out of him regarding what type of religion, he did attend seminary school, and stopped due to personal reasons.

Now, all that said, if I had to give a particular belief system that I was raised with it would be Non-Denominaitonal Christian. I was first introduced when I was about 7 years old. Up until meeting Mr. Zachreson, I never questioned what I was told, and dogmatically believed that the only way to worship God was the way I was taught. When Mr. Zachreson uttered that loaded sentence, he got me to thinking. It was more than anyone in my family had managed to do. What that fated sentence said to me, is that Muslims worship God, they just do it in a different manner.

He was my first encounter with a belief system completely different than my own. Muslims worship God in a way that was completely foreign to me at the time, and in my head ‘wrong’. Mr. Zachreson’s simple statement opened up a whole new world for me.

It taught me to think.

It’s Almost Time For Turkey!

Published November 13, 2010 by Hemlock

I’d have to say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I absolutely love cooking for this holiday, and now that it’s become multi-cultural it’s even better.

I have never, in my life, produced a dry turkey and I was tasked with the T-Day Turkey when I turned 15 or 16. By that point, my Nana and Great Grandmother were more than content to turn over the responsibility.

I was always taught that the most important part about food was that it should taste good; that you should never sacrifice flavor and pleasure for the sake of saving some calories. I took that sage advice to heart and never once looked back.

If you partake in the spread that I have prepared, I will freely admit that any diet you are on will be blown, and that you will probably be diagnosed with clogged arteries at a later date, but I promise you that it’s worth it.

I don’t have a set recipe as I am one of those types of cooks who prepares food by the seat of her pants. Sometimes, ask my husband, it hasn’t ended well. However, I’ve had more disasters when I’ve followed a recipe versus just following my gut.

A dry turkey is something that I’ve never really understood. I’ve experienced it, for sure, but I have never suffered the preparation of one. I remember one year we had Thanksgiving with my Mother-in-law, a close friend of ours Gregor Sampsa, and even my husband Xannatos’ father drove up for the event. Hubby’s mother was in charge of the cooking, and it was the worst meal I think I’d ever eaten; particularly the turkey. It wasn’t a Griswold Family style turkey in the sense of it being sliced open and a huge puff of smoke billows forth, but do you remember how everyone was gnawing on their meat because it was so dry it had moved beyond jerky? Well, my mother-in-laws turkey that year was almost that bad. The white meat was so dry it practically crumbled, and she even managed to dry out the dark meat. Usually, that’s the meat on any turkey that will be edible. Not so that year. We won’t even go into the rest of the meal, and I don’t remember much of it anyways. However, I do remember talking with everyone later in the day after we had left and we all remarked on how… interesting dinner had been.

MIL has never been known for her cooking; I mean, BBQ to her is just throwing some chicken on the grill without any skin or sauce and letting it char completely. That year, though, we decided to give her some semblance of control as I had taken over once I stole her son away. I swore I’d never, ever, relinquish T-Day Dinner to anyone again.

Now, fast-forward a few years and I now share the kitchen with my new Chinese Mother-In-Law, and my much younger Chinese Brother-in-law (who is an aspiring chef, by the way). For the most part, I still handle the bulk of it, but every year there are more and more ethnic dishes to be had, and last year I even allowed my BIL to cook the turkey. After several years of eating it, he wanted to know how I cooked it. He’d been helping me prep the ingredients, but had never partaken in the actual cooking process. It was a success, even if it did have more of an Asian flavor to it, but what else would you expect? All I told him was to pick spices and herbs out of the drawer, smell them, and then we’d decide which would work well together.

Thanksgiving By RockwellAll in all, the key to a good turkey isn’t so much the flavorings, but in how moist the turkey is. If your white meat is juicy, then you have succeeded. Once you’ve figured out how accomplish that, the flavor will follow.

One of the things I learned early on was that a digital meat thermometer that could be poked into the turkey and then put into the oven and read from the outside was the key thing. After that, slap some foil on that baby and leave it alone until your temperature alert goes off! I also use obscene amounts of butter, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger under the skin. The herbs and spices I use are completely dependent up on what I have stocked in my spice drawer. I’ve been known to use everything from Cayenne to Cinnamon – it’s all fair game in my kitchen!

The Sexualization of Children

Published November 11, 2010 by Hemlock

I stumbled across another article today on MSN titled: More Trouble for Amazon, This Time With Photos. Went through and read it, and to be frank, yes, this probably borders on the not so okay. Basically, some images and films were being sold under the guise of Naturist Video. Okay, the Naturist movement exists, and I would love to be a part of it. Really, I would. I freely admit that I love going to the nudie beaches. They’re fun, they’re quiet, and they’re relaxing. I’m okay with my body, it’s not perfect, and that’s okay. I’m not obese, not grossly overweight, but I could stand to lose a few pounds. No one judges me, and no one looks at me in a sexual manner. Being naked is fun… nothing quite like the feel of the sun caressing your whole body.

Do I intend to let my children run around without their diaper at the beach? Hell yes! I have yet to meet a kid who prefers to be clothed. That being said, I won’t be taking video.

The article goes on to say that the real concern is that children are being sexualized in the videos and images that are being released and due to that should be removed from circulation. What really got me, was that at the end, the child advocate (Maureen Flatley) they journalist spoke with mentions that, “We’ve allowed kids to become sex objects and let a major retailer commercialize this stuff.”

If that’s the case… isn’t it the parents who actively allow their children to pursue beauty pageants guilty of this? How many little girls do you see on the pageant circuit that actually look like children? Absolutely none of them. They’re all dressed in stuff that sexualizes them in some form or another; they even have swimsuit portions!

How is it, then, any different from the Nudist images? Frankly, I think things are a bit more sexual when a person is clothed versus naked. It’s more erotic.

I deserve the right to make my own decisions

Published November 10, 2010 by Hemlock

Be warned Here and Now: These opinions are my own and in no way represent those of Amazon, or WordPress. Censorship is something that I feel very strongly about, and I felt a need to say something about it. There are adult words, and adult content that will be covered in this blog post. If this is likely to offend you, and you are closed minded and unable to respect someone else’s opinion and have an adult discussion, you may want to go back to your cave.

As I was randomly purusing MSN today I stumbled across an article that caught my eye: Amazon defends ‘Pedophile’s Guide’.

What initially drew me to click on the article was the way the title was worded. Words have meaning, as we all know, and the way something is said can strongly affect the way it is interpreted by the individual and the masses. If I were an idiot, I would instantly assume that Amazon was supporting the act of sex with children. However, this is not the case. They are simply supporting the 1st Amendment.

Now, pedophilia is not something that I agree with at all. Not in the least, but the fact of the matter, folks, is that it does exist. Pedophilia, in some form or another, has been around for quite some time, and was even supported in European culture during the Middle Ages. During that era, girls as young as 14 were married regularly. Men would usually wait until they were established, so this would put them into their 20’s and 30’s; yet they would marry someone who was, ideally, half their age. This was common practice. In addition to this, during the Victorian era, men would oftentimes begin courting girls as young as 12. They may not marry until they were 16 to 18, but it’s obvious that men have always been interested in girls.

Does that make it right? No. The fact that it’s been done in the past under the sanctity of vows taken before God shouldn’t make any difference either.

I’ve known several people who have been molested and it has had an effect on their life. So, I know first hand that it can be quite damaging.

However, getting back to the point, the 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech and press. We are not Nazi Germany, or the Roman Empire. Bluntly put, book burning is not a desire behavior.

When we begin to censor books, and various other media, we begin to take away our own rights. In the end, you see, you are simply hurting yourself. Books are full of knowledge and ideas, and for generations have been used to push the envelope on what is, and was, accepted by society at the time of its release.

Censorship is nothing but fear, and it is full of control, bigotry, and hatred.

Again, do I agree with the content of “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure”? No. So you know what? I simple won’t buy it. However, I’m sure it would be an interesting view into the mind of the man who wrote it. Hell, it might even offer some insight for people who study the disorder. Maybe it could even lead to treatment.

You know what, though? If we censor that book we’ll never know. It’s as simple as that. Maybe, because this book’s been written, we’ll be able to save thousands of children from being molested. It’s unlikely, but you simply don’t know.

It’s not my place to tell someone what they should, or shouldn’t read. Do I agree with the Bible? Absolutely not. I feel more content with the New Testament versus the Old, however mixed in with all those positive moral lessons, are some not so good lessons. In my opinion it advocates the use of slaves (Leviticus 25:45-46), and discrimination of women. Mind you, this is my experience and interpretation. Any verse or chapter can be skewed, or interpreted in any myriad of ways; but I don’t advocate censorship of the book!

It seems that oftentimes it is those that have Fundamentalist beliefs are the ones who are the quickest to damn an author to hell (for example in Steven King’s book “On Writing” he states that he received a letter from a person stating he would be burning in hell where all of his money wouldn’t be able to buy him a drink of some sort, simply because the guy didn’t like the content of one of King’s books), or to make the effort to ban something.

Yet, if a group of Athiests forced the issue of banning the Holy Bible (which they probably wouldn’t be likely to do in the first place), Christian’s everywhere would be up in arms (but, remember it’s okay to burn someone else’s holy book! But, why shouldn’t it be banned? I mean, Athiests everywhere disagree with the existence of God, and many find the Bible offensive, so shouldn’t the book be banned?

Again, no.

So, think hard before you chose to comment. Amazon isn’t suggesting that everyone purchase a book and go molest a kid, but what they are suggesting is that you actually use the brain your chosen deity gave you, and think about what would be an appropriate action.

It’s a shame that a corporation has to support our rights for us. The responsibility should be on our shoulders, not theirs. The fact that they have to defend themselves is insane.

If you don’t like the content of a book, a movie, or a music CD. Simply don’t buy it. Don’t make my decisions for me.

End of story.