Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Headless fat people, lazy journalists

So, I saw this article, and was struck by this photo:

Do the people in the photo look like preschoolers to you? Of course not! So what I glean from this is, if they were to show photos of "fat" preschoolers, we would probably see them as normal children, because little kids like that are supposed to have some baby fat on them. That's their reserve for the growing they are about to do.

There's a quote: “With 25 per cent of pre-school children now overweight, we’ve got to act to help parents get children to the correct weight for their age and height.”

I'd like an answer to the following questions:
1. Have kids gotten heavier, or have they become "overweight" by a change in definition?

2. So they're heavier--are they also taller? I think they probably are, which is typical for children that get adequate nutrition.

I'm also bothered that they're talking about BMI instead of discussing statistics that make more sense. I don't know what a four year old with a BMI of 15 or 18 or 34 looks like. How do we know that they're not higher because the kids are taller? Maybe that IS the case, and these people don't want us to know that part of the equation. And, how much difference in weight are we talking about anyway? Preschoolers are small--could one pound make the difference between "normal" and "overweight" for them?

Instead, we get a snow job article with a bunch of guys making statements that are NOT being backed up by anything. Shoddy reporting, with absolutely NO balance to the article. The claims aren't being questioned at ALL. Bullshit.

Too fat for the job

I was waiting to write this because I wanted enough time after the incident not to get weepy about it, so here we go:

When I was looking for a job this summer, my resume was up on a couple of different sites, including and some local help wanted sites. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from the North America director of sales for a manufacturer of aquarium supplies. He was very excited about my resume, and after talking to me on the phone, was chomping at the bit to meet me. The job would be travelling up and down the east coast, visiting pet stores and trying to get them to carry the product--and to make current customers feel loved and wanted.

Now, this is something that I've got a lot of experience doing. When I'm working in a customer service job, I tend to develop relationships with the regular customers, usually to the point that they ask for me as soon as they walk through the door. Making customers feel loved and cared about is a skill that I've developed and honed over my life, and I impressed the hell out of the director on the phone.

I talked to my husband about the job, and he was not thrilled about me travelling and being gone so much. Brian is the most important thing to me in the world, so I called the guy and turned down the job, explaining that my husband comes first. Fine, no problem, right? Except, the guy called me back, BEGGING me to reconsider, and to at least come up to Montreal for an interview. I agreed to at least go up for the interview, and he asked if I could bring my husband along so he could try to talk him into it.

We went up for the interview (which is a story unto itself, involving one of the worst cluster headaches of my life), and it seemed to go pretty well. He seemed impressed. He took us to his favorite local store to show us how the products were being marketed. We ended everything on a positive note, and Brian and I hit up the biodome before we went back to Albany.

A day or so later, I got a phone call from the interviewer. He said that he really thought I had a lot of skills, and whatnot, but he was concerned about my physical ability to do the job. Now, I hadn't told him anything about my medical history, and I was having a good day physically, after the headache wore off (just in time for the interview). What he was concerned about, he said, was my ability to get into and out of airplanes and rental cars. Yes, that's right, his excuse was that I was too fat to handle air travel and driving cars. Do I believe that for a second? No! If that were a concern, he would have asked me if I could do those things. I have flown many, many times (and no, I don't spill into the neighboring seat). I drive just fine.

He was looking for a reason to deny me the job because he didn't think my physical appearance was good enough to sell the product. Plain and simple. There was nothing about this job that I couldn't physically handle; I was just not attractive enough. Never mind that I have excellent product knowledge, that I can talk people into buying the best stuff for their aquariums, and that I develop good relationships with customers; I have to be a hot babe to sell the product.

Now, I understand the notion that you want a physically attractive person to sell something; sex DOES sell. However, I feel that using sex to sell a product makes the product look cheap. We can't stand on our quality, so we have to get you turned on so your brain isn't working well enough to recognize the product's flaws. This is really something I don't understand, by the way: Why are you influenced by a sexy salesperson when you know damn well you aren't getting a piece of that, no matter how much product you buy?

Anyway, that's my story of being "too fat" for a job. I don't want to hear about "you should have sued them" or whatever; it's long past the time that it would be useful, and I don't have the time or money to pursue it.

Ebay stuff

I have two ebay sales up right now. Both are photographs I have taken, and they're matted and ready to frame, in sizes that are standard, so you can just buy a frame off the shelf.

I am having a hard time making ends meet right now (one job interviewer actually told me I was too fat for the SALES job he was offering), so if you could just take a look and decide whether or not they're something you'd enjoy, I'd appreciate it.

Both photos are of rare fish from Australia that do not get imported very often. They usually range between $700-1500 retail. I snapped these two at my next-to-last workplace; I was responsible for learning how to care for the fish and making sure they didn't die. They were $500 wholesale, and the price tag on them was $1500 because that's what the wholesaler recommended.

The first one is a barred boxfish; the photo is 8x10, but it's double-matted to fit into a 12x26 frame.

The second one is a western blue devil, in a 5x7 photo double-matted to 11x14.

Both of the above items sold today. Here are a few more:
Blueberries photo. - SOLD!

King cobra photo

Blue-breasted roller photo

Radish photo

Thank you for looking.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Keep your laws off my adipose tissue!

So, let's imagine for a moment that abortion has been made illegal in our country.

Not only can you not get a legal abortion in a nice safe clinic, there are a number of items put in place to make sure nobody's inducing abortion, including:

- Every toilet is fitted with a sensor to detect pregnancy. If you test positive, you are directed to receive prenatal counseling. If you're determined to be an abortion risk, you'll be put into a pregnancy protection program, which can be as simple as having to check in with an officer every day, or, if you're determined to be a serious risk, you're put into a high security facility where you are watched 24 hours a day.

- If you have a miscarriage, you must submit to questioning and tests to make sure it was not actually self-induced. If you are determined to be at fault, but it wasn't intentional, then you are charged with negligent manslaughter. If you did it on purpose, you're charged with homicide.

- If you are a woman of childbearing age, you MUST take folic acid. Your blood levels will be checked periodically, and if you have not been taking your folic acid, you will be put into counseling to teach you how important it is for you to take it.

- Likewise, women of childbearing age will be periodically tested for chemicals that are potentially damaging to fetuses, including cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. If you are found with any of these in your bloodstream, you will be charged with assault, because you never know if you MIGHT be pregnant. Those who are not pregnant and found with these chemicals will be sent to a boot camp to re-orient them to the necessity of protecting the health of potential fetuses. Those who ARE pregnant will be put into a facility until their infant is born.


This sounds completely ridiculous, right? Totally awful.

So why are we so protective of our own bodies in this respect, yet so many are perfectly willing to hand fat people over to the government for punishment and what amounts to torture? Especially when those recommending such things blatantly admit that they're not using science as a basis for wanting to do this to people?

Some key items:

- electronic ‘fat quota’ ration cards may keep a closer eye on obese people’s food purchases and ration specific items; it could even be used to identify overweight teenagers that should attend government-run summer fitness camps...

- supermarkets, responding to government regulations similar to those on cigarettes and alcohol, arbitrate on which customers can buy high fat foods...

- children’s BMIs measured annually at school, results sent home in confidence to their parents, with lifestyle advice, follow-up checks and referral to more specialised services...

Are you kidding me? Have people really been so thoroughly brainwashed that they believe it's okay to do this to human beings? "Control of my body" means control of ALL of it, not just my uterus. Having a bunch of smug, skinny people telling me how to run my fat body is the same as having a bunch of old men trying to tell women how to run their reproductive organs.

The fat reader's dilemma

I'm currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I'm not all that far into the book, and I'm having a difficult time wanting to continue. His style isn't bad, and he tries pretty hard to bring us some facts, but I'm really, really growing tired of him harping on the OMGOBESITY "epidemic". He has bought the b.s. that we all eat too much, and THAT is why we are fat.

I want to finish this book, partly because I am interested in the rest of the material, but I have two problems:
1. It's just aggravating to read all of the fatphobic crap he's put into the book.

2. If he's regurgitating the "facts" he sucked directly from the teat of big pharma and the CDC (who's in the pocket of big pharma), then how can I trust the rest of what he's saying? How do I know he checked his other facts?

I am going to push onward, because I dislike leaving a book half-read, and because so many people are gushing about it, but I'm doing so in the face of being repelled, and not able to take the author's claims seriously.

Oh, and one other thing that I almost forgot: Does Eric Schlosser know that someone has plagiarized his book? While this book has a lot of details about corn processing and things like that, Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" did pretty much the same thing, did it better, and only gave a small amount of lip service to the o****** (I think it's a foul word) "epidemic". The Omnivore's Dilemma bitches about fat people in every chapter.

I agree with the ideas behind this book--that we need to return to sustainable agriculture and stop running farms like factories. Absolutely, I believe this. There are a lot of reasons that factory farming and the monoculture farming of corn (which requires a lot of petrochemicals to fertilize the soil, instead of crop rotation which does it naturally) are bad. We can say these things, though, without dragging fat people into the fray and beating them up. E. coli, toxic waste, and drug-resistant bacteria are all reasons besides animal welfare to stop the feedlot insanity. Unsustainability of using petrochemicals to fertilize corn and the glut of corn (which requires armies of "food scientists" to find a use for) are good reasons to return to crop rotation and diversification--and that's aside from the dwindling culture of the traditional American farmer.

But I suppose the author feels the only way to get people to listen is to latch onto the currently fashionable hype of EW FAT IS GROSS.

I'll write more after finishing the book (if I can manage to do so). I also have a review coming up of a wonderful book I read last month, but it's such a heavy topic that I want to be careful and do it right.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The value of answers from a real person

I know that it is customary to point people in the direction of an FAQ, or to tell them to do a google search, when they ask a question that has been answered many times before. Many people get annoyed by answering the same question over and over, and I understand their frustration--however, I believe that we have a natural instinct to learn from another person. Not only do we have a desire for human interaction, but many people feel that answers from a person are more valuable than ones read in books. A good human teacher adapts the answers for the learner, where a book is unable to do so. There is also the benefit of hearing a personal account of experiences, especially when asking more than one person at a time, such as in a forum.

I like having sources at my fingertips that I can use to answer questions, such as pre-written paragraphs for frequently asked questions. I've found that directing someone to a website often makes them more confused as they sort through the information, while replying directly to them with the relevant excerpt (and a link) seems to help them more. If looking things up in books and on websites were the best way to learn, we wouldn't need teachers at all--we'd just need a reading list, right? But a teacher can pull out the key points, help weave them together, and make a subject easier to understand by filling in the gaps.

So, the next time someone asks you a question that you're sick of answering, remember that they don't know that you've been asked a million times; for them, it's their first experience with the subject. Come up with a document that you can draw answers from (an FAQ) and cut and paste a bit, then fill in the gaps when they ask more questions. I do my best not to get impatient, but I know that I do. I also get tired of having to rehash the same debates with people, but I've noticed that pointing them to a page that responds to each of their points doesn't work--they'll simply refuse to read it, so you have to feed it to them a bit at a time if you want your side to be understood.

It's hard to be patient, but it is worth it if you want to pass on your knowledge to someone else.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sometimes, other people say it better than I can

So I'm going to quote the very wise Meowser so that this statement gets read by more people:
...telling us that thin women live longer and are healthier than fat women is a little like telling poor women that if they just made five times as much money their financial problems would be solved. If there is no concrete way of turning most poor women affluent, that piece of information is completely irrelevant.

From a comment on Harriet's blog entry here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Anti-vax and HIV deniers

This blog entry is great.

She points out that the AIDS deniers and anti-vaccination folks believe the things they do because they are too young to remember a world when kids were crippled or killed by polio and measles, or what it was like before the HIV cocktail came about.

I'm old enough to have grown up with at least one classmate who was twisted by polio, and for my parents to tell me what it was like to have to get smallpox vaccinations ("mommy, why do you and daddy and all my aunts and uncles have that big nasty scar on your arm?").

I was young, but I remember the horror of pre-cocktail AIDS deaths, with scores of people dying of "pneumonia", and knowing that there was nothing that anybody could do to help them, because it was a new disease, a tricky, fast-adapting microbe that started its work by wiping out peoples' defenses. I remember thinking that there would never be a cure, because it was too adaptable. I remember being amazed when they worked out AZT, and I still feel like we just discovered yesterday how to help HIV-positive people live longer, more normal lives.

I remember being the first generation to grow up believing that unprotected sex and IV drug use could be a death sentence because of AIDS, knowing that a condom could be the difference between life and death.

I remember seeing the impact of sex education and HIV awareness on people's behavior, and being thankful that my school district was blunt and thorough in its sex education. I still feel sick knowing that people in Africa are being told dangerous and cruel lies about AIDS and sex by people they trust to give them truth. I am afraid for what condition the people of Africa will be in ten or twenty years.

I can understand not realizing the importance of something if you have not lived in a time when it was a matter of life and death, but I cannot excuse being completely in denial of its value just because you didn't personally experience the crisis. That's arrogant and stupid.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"My House, My Rules" and why I hate that phrase

"My House, My Rules" is a phrase I despise. I know that I am going to get a lot of disagreement on this, but hear me out.

Parents use "My House, My Rules" as an excuse to control the lives of their aged 18+ offspring in ways that are quite honestly none of their business. The young person's social life, job, eating habits, and love life somehow become entirely the domain of their parents to decide for them. They don't want you to be vegetarian? My house, my rules. They don't want you to date someone of the same sex? My house, my rules. They don't want you to date anyone at all? My house, my rules. You want to read Noam Chomsky, talk to your best friend since childhood on the phone, or be allowed to leave the house, ever, and they don't want you to? My house, my rules. No, it isn't always that extreme, but sometimes it is. And, honestly, someone who is a legal adult should have the right to leave the house once in a while, even if mommy and daddy are afraid their little darling is going to get hit by a car, do drugs, have icky dirty sex, or come into contact with Socialist propaganda. Really.

What galls me the most about parents using this method of control is that the ones most likely to do this to their kids are also the parents who fail, either purposely or inadvertently, to teach important life skills and independence to their kids. They resist efforts on the part of their child to move out and become independent, and will often continue to try to exert control even after the child has moved out. Because, really, these types of parents aren't trying to maintain order in their house with the superficially reasonable-sounding "My house, my rules"--they are trying to cling tightly to their role as Persons In Charge Of Johnny Or Suzie's Life. They do not want the child to become independent.

When the kid finally manages to grow some independence, despite the best efforts of his or her parents, and move out, mommy and daddy will consider this to be a betrayal. You're CHEATING, it's not FAIR for you to LEAVE US. You just want to move out SO YOU CAN HAVE SEX AND DO DRUGS DON'T YOU?! The guilt trip is laid, often with promises to loosen the invasive and controlling "house rules" if the kid comes back. They're lying, of course, and as soon as they have the kid under their thumb again, it's the same old shit, right down to the guilt trips about, "We don't charge you rent! (but we aren't going to take money if you offer rent--your rent is your compliance with our bullshit)." Once again, the young person's private life disappears, and they have no peace until they harden their resolve toward the manipulation and violations of privacy, move the fuck out, and turn a deaf ear toward the inevitable pissing and moaning that results from doing so.

So, yeah, that's how I feel about that.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Punishing fat people

I've noticed that there seems to be this drive to punish fat people for being fat. Aside from the crap I hear like, "There's no excuse for not losing weight!" (To which my husband responded, "There's no excuse for not having an IQ over 100!), there are actual suggestions out there for depriving fat people of basic life necessities in order to force them to lose weight, such as:

- The whiny columnists that have frequently complained that fat people should not have nice clothing designed in their sizes, because it "encourages them to be fat" or "condones their being fat"

- The dickish employers that are actually trying to financially penalize fat employees who do not fall under a certain BMI level.

- Those who propose denying fat people medical care, INCLUDING asinine physicians who refuse to treat a person's actual medical problems unless they first lose weight, but also those who think fat people should be denied medical insurance entirely.

- Those who would deny fat people the right to be parents. Sure, they've started with denying fat people adoptions, but do you really think it's going to stop there?

- People who actually advocate openly shunning and shaming fat people as a way to force them to lose weight, on the premise that the desire for social contact will drive them not into insanity and depression, but into weight-loss treatment. In other words, let's actively attempt to inflict mental illness on another human being to punish them for being fat.

We talk about the right to control our own bodies, but, folks, let's think beyond the uterus here, okay? It's YOUR body. I don't get a say in what food you put in your mouth, what exercises you do, whether or not you get pregnant or have an abortion, whether or not you wear boxers or briefs, and certainly not how much space you are permitted to occupy! We need to remind the fat-haters to "Keep your legislation off my body!"


I sometimes visit websites where current events are discussed, and, I'm sorry to say, I read the discussions about fat people. This is not some sort of masochistic tendency. I just feel that it's important to know what dialogues are happening outside of the FA sphere. I'm sad to say, there are a lot of very ignorant, hateful people out there, and many of them seem to be just itching for an excuse to treat another person like dog shit.

One of the biggest mistakes these people make is assuming that they know everything about a person just by looking at the size of that person's body. With no other information, the fat person is tried and convicted in one fell swoop of being irresponsible, stupid, piggish, lazy, dishonest, and, ultimately, worthless. The assumption is that, IF they weren't stupid, they would know that eating less and exercising more will make them lose weight. If they know this, and are still fat, then they are irresponsible, piggish, and lazy for not doing those things. If they say that they are doing them, or that they have tried them and failed, then they are dishonest. These huge assumptions take one enormous logical leap after another, until it is concluded that fat people are not only worthless, but they only have themselves to blame for their being worthless--and, any responsible citizen should, by way of shaming and shunning, encourage fat people to lose weight in order to prove their worth.

Which leads me to the rather glaring and ridiculous assumptions I saw the other day regarding disabled people who are fat. It was the usual pissing and moaning about how "all the motorized scooters in the grocery store are used by omg fat people omg only buying JUNK FOOD OMG!" The assumptions here were this:
- If you are fat, then you cannot be disabled
- If you ARE fat and disabled, fat is always the reason you are disabled, and losing weight will cure you--and therefore, your disability is entirely your own fault, so you should be denied any form of mobility assisting devices.
- Denying fat disabled people the use of motorized scooters will force them to walk, and subsequently, lose weight
- And, if they don't want to walk, then they don't deserve to shop, especially for groceries, as they ought to be starved until they are at a socially acceptable size.

As a person who occasionally uses a motorized cart for shopping, on days when I am in a great deal of pain and am fatigued, I am, frankly, insulted by this line of reasoning. The option for me is NOT to "walk, and lose weight" on those days, it is to stay home. If I'm having a bad day, the only thing that can make me feel confident enough to go shopping is knowing that I will likely be able to use a cart or wheelchair for the trip. Doing this not only reduces my pain; it also allows me to have a clear enough mind to get the shopping done efficiently, and not have to send the poor husband back to the store for some strange ingredient that he's going to have to call me twice while in the store in order to find.

Knowing that some of my outings are going to involve a mobility aid allows me the freedom to HAVE those outings, and, more importantly, the ability to ENJOY them. If I'm at an art museum, and all I can think about is how badly my back is hurting because it's spasming, then there is no point to my even being there. Sometimes, my cane is all I need to keep my balance and stave off the muscle tremors. Sometimes, if I know it's going to be a long jaunt, the chair is needed for me to enjoy a day with my husband.

But, is this really the issue? The haters don't seem to have any real concern for the health and well-being of the people they are complaining about. Sure, they give lip service to health care costs, but let's get down to what this is REALLY about: They don't want to have to look at happy fat people. Yes, my mobility aid allows me to get out of the house and enjoy myself, but that's exactly what is pissing people off. How dare I be out in public, looking all fat and grotesque, and not even having the sense to be ashamed of myself? That's what your real problem is, isn't it assholes? Well, guess what? That's too damn bad. I have just as much right to be out in public and shopping and visiting museums as you do. I'm not the hell affecting you any more than the next person is, so mind your own business, and maybe try giving yourself permission to be happy without it being at the expense of others for a change, okay?

A good relationship with vegetables

For my family, Thanksgiving has always been the day to get the foods you love best. Mom's amazing potato recipe, asparagus with lemon butter, acorn squash, pumpkin pie, and the family recipe pasta salad (filled with broccoli, carrots, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and other stuff), and home-made honey wheat dinner rolls. The menu fluctuated according to our changing tastes and adventurous palates, but there were always good vegetable dishes. Our daily life, too, saw excellently seasoned vegetables of all kinds, from buttery brussels sprouts that were green and slightly crunchy, not gray and mushy, to lemony, peppered broccoli that was always just the right amount of soft and crunchy. There were very few vegetables that I didn't like, and they were the ones that tend to be all or nothing anyway, like beets and sweet potatoes. My parents both have a knack for seasoning and perfect timing, so the vegetables I ate during my younger years were usually delicious.

Fast forward to my first marriage, and family gatherings with the in-laws: Thanksgiving dinners seemed more focused on quantity rather than quality; enormous bowls of cooked, unseasoned frozen corn, green beans, and peas were passed around. Mashed potatoes were, sadly, similarly uninspired. While I was urged not to bring anything to the meals by well-meaning aunts, I soon learned that if I wanted something that tasted good, I would have to ignore their instructions and prepare at least one or two items--and I brought home empty bowls every single time. I wondered, if these dishes were their "special" meal, what were they serving on regular days? And how many of their kids thought that vegetables were gross, boring, or practically inedible? My unfailingly disappearing offerings were proof that these people were not actually allergic to flavor; they just didn't have any clue about seasoning. If my parents had fixed me those items daily and hounded me to eat them, I'd have grown up hating vegetables, regarding them as a particularly weird form of torture--and, in fact, that is how my former spouse seemed to feel about them. He wasn't really even willing to try the vegetables I made, except for potatoes.

Moving into the present, I now have in-laws that can actually cook. Brian's mother tries out new recipes all the time, and we've had some pretty tasty and unusual dishes during holidays at his family's place. Consequently, Brian loves to eat vegetables. I have tried almost every vegetable on him, including the much-hated brussels sprouts, and he has not rejected any of them. I also have a feeling that his parents didn't hound him to eat everything on his plate--doing so can cause a number of food issues in the future, and I've really found that, if you don't actually make a big deal out of the food being served, kids are less likely to reject it. It also helps if you make food that tastes good. I don't blame most of these kids for rejecting their parents' unimaginative cuisine.

The sad part is, it actually isn't that hard to make food taste good. I believe that a steamer is an important tool for preparing delicious vegetables. Broccoli, for example, gently steamed, then seasoned with lemon pepper and a hint of butter, is delicious. Green beans are fantastic with a simple sauce of orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, thyme, and garlic--steam, then stir fry them instead of boiling them, and add some sliced almonds to the pot if you have them. Mashed potatoes are a great deal better with any number of mix-ins, including rosemary, garlic, bay leaf, and lavender (try steaming the potatoes instead of boiling them, and add the herbs to the steame in a cloth teabag or metal tea ball). The payoff of a good relationship with vegetables is more than worth the marginal time and expense it takes to make them taste good.

Note: I use this steamer, which is very simple to use, and it has a scenter basket that allows you to put herbs on a screen to flavor the vegetables. This is especially useful for herbes de provence, rosemary, lavender, and bay leaf. I absolutely love this item; it was a gift from my grandmother nine years ago, and it's still going strong.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Good foods, bad foods

The amount of psychological programming we have is really astounding, when you come to realize it, especially in regards to labeling some foods as good and others as bad. Even though a piece of chocolate cake is not going to poison you, making you ill or dead, we are programmed to think of it as a deadly poison, and those who partake of it are fools, gambling with their very lives for enjoying a delicious treat.

Chocolate cake contains butter, eggs, flour, cocoa powder or baking chocolate, baking soda or powder, and possibly milk or water. Not exactly terrifying, when broken down, and yet these ingredients, properly blended and baked, create an item that can create guilt and fear in its consumers, and contempt and nastiness in those watching the consumption.

I can eat a slice of chocolate cake. I am not going to die from it, nor will it make me ill as long as proper food handling procedures have been used. However, the self-proclaimed Food Police who feel it is their duty to shame those who eat "bad" foods would probably, without knowing anything about me, try to make me choose a plate of green peppers or a handful of peanuts over the chocolate cake. The first of those items will make me very, very sick, while the second could kill me. The chocolate cake, however, will be easily digested and used for energy by my body without causing me discomfort or illness. I don't believe it is a good idea to label a food as "bad" unless it directly causes a medical problem--and I don't believe that fat is caused by eating "bad" foods OR that fat is a medical problem.

Additionally, labeling foods as "bad" when they do not cause direct harm probably creates more harm than good. Instead of simply enjoying my chocolate cake, I am supposed to have a big guilt trip for doing so. What good does being ashamed of myself for eating something do? I'm still going to have my cake, but I'm supposed to hate myself and be miserable about it? No thanks; I have enough problems as it is without having to feel guilty for eating things that aren't hurting me.

The psychological self-torture people put themselves through over a bit of food is ridiculous, especially considering that we already have enough things around us to make us feel like crap. Reject the food police, reject the shame, and enjoy your cake. Life should be good and enjoyable, not filled with self-imposed misery. Be glad that you live in a place where we have enough to eat, because not everybody does. So you have some extra adipose tissue? Good! That's a survival advantage! I wish everyone in the world had the opportunity to become fat, and that no one went hungry.

Brief thought

Ever notice that anti-evolutionists are the first to scream, "Survival of the fittest!" when asked to feed the hungry or help the poor?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm here!

I've been quiet the past few days; a combination of being very tired, socializing a bit, and getting some painting done has kept me off the internet. That, and my wrist has been acting up AGAIN.

I have been taking lots of notes, and I have many things on my mind, so I'll be posting as soon as my head is clearer.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Scam warning

Yesterday, I received three phone calls on my husband's phone. The person said they were with our electric supplier, and that our account with them had been switched, and would we like to authorize them to switch it back?

The name of the company (I can't remember what they said it was, IDT or something) was NOT National Grid. It's one of those little companies that cropped up after National Grid/NiMo was supposed to allow competition, you know, the ones that buy the power from National Grid and then sell it to you at a lower price--for the first three months or so, then jack it up, anyway.

The problem with this was that we did not switch over to any of those companies. Ever. When I asked the person, "Have we done business with you in the past?" she replied, "Oh yes, I can read you the account number right now, if you want."

That was an outright LIE. She claimed to be our supplier until a month ago. That's just not true: We never went through a middleman; we have been with NiMo/National Grid this whole time. This person was lying to me and trying to trick me into becoming a customer by claiming we already were a customer. I'm going to get the number from Brian's phone and look it up, and maybe report them to the BBB and attorney general. While I am skeptical enough to see through that crap, a lot of people aren't, especially older people.

So, if you get a similar call, be aware that they have no qualms about lying to you in order to get you to sign up!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


One of these days, I want to do this experiment:

I'll go into a McDonald's, order a drink, and sit at a table near the front counter. I will have a notebook with several categories in it, including estimated age (with categories, like pre-teen, middle age, that kind of thing), gender*, and a range of body types. Admittedly, the body types will require some subjectivity, but there's no way around that.

I will look at each customer that walks in the door and classify them into the categories. I'll also note whether or not they're wearing crocs, haha.

The purpose of this would be to get a real idea of how "fat" the customers really are, because I'm sick and tired of the hysterics and hyperbole. My hypothesis is that the customers will, in fact, NOT be primarily fat people. The handful of times that I've gone to McD's, usually to get an iced tea since they are one of the few places left that brews their tea instead of using nasty concentrate, I recall most of the patrons being average-sized young people.

I'd also like to do this same experiment at a local mall. Afterwards, I want to show this data, then ask why we're throwing so much money at combating a non-issue, especially one that is NOT the health problem that everyone thinks it is. I'm tired of hearing, "ZOMG I SAW A FAT LADY USING A SCOOTER AT WAL MARTS AND FAT PEOPLE SHOULD WALK INSTEAD OF USING THEM BECAUSE THEY'RE FAT AND OBVIOUSLY FAT PEOPLE CANNOT BE DISABLED, AND FAT PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE BEING LAZY AND EATING STUFF."

Pardon me for mixing issues; I'm having a bad pain day, and my head isn't terribly together.

* Yes, I'll estimate gender. My husband and I have a joke that, while some people bemoan their lack of gaydar, I am even lacking in gender-dar. I have a really hard time figuring out male or female if it isn't completely obvious sometimes.

There is no glory in violence

Brian and I watched Green Street Hooligans the other night. While the movie was well-made, the subject matter really bothered me. It was basically a bunch of stupid drunks using soccer fandom as a thinly veiled excuse to act out on their testosterone-fueled aggressive tendencies. Watching these idiots beat the crap out of each other made me wonder if evolution had skipped over them a few generations back. I've always been bothered by the amount of emotional investment people put into a game which is guaranteed to have one loser and one winner, and these guys took it to the absolute extreme--your team playing my team somehow gives me the right to blow up pubs and kill your guys.

I understand that humans have a competitive instinct. However, there are non-violent options for exercising this urge, options which not only don't put people in the hospital or morgue, but benefit society as a whole. Some of the competitions I can think of that would be a better way to channel that energy:
- Who can build a better Habitat for Humanity house? Or more of them in a year?

- Who can grow more food for the poor?

- Who can pick up the most trash in a park?

- Who can deliver more Meals on Wheels?

- Mow the most lawns for old ladies? Or do their home repairs, or drive them to a doctor?

Honestly, with all of the energy and time these nitwits seem to have, there should not be one elderly person without a meal for a day, old lady without heat for the winter, or poor child that goes hungry. I wish there were a way to convince people like this to see honor in helping their neighbors; there's certainly more value in it than pounding the snot out of one another.

Some other ideas I had for these guys:
1. If they're so damn tough, send these violent egomaniacs into the military and let them show how badass they are(n't).
2. Legalize marijuana. Their violence seems fueled by alcohol, and I'd rather see them stoned and lying around than drunk and throwing punches.
3. Stick 'em in the Peace Corps and let them see what a third world country is like.
4. Build them an arena and let them kill each other off in a place where nobody gets caught in the middle.

It bothers me that more resources go toward fighting drugs than toward preventing violence. A guy beats up his wife? He probably won't even get arrested...but if he's got drugs on him? He's going to prison. Ridiculous.