Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scentsible and considerate

Imagine, for a moment, that you live with a semi-deaf roommate. This roommate really enjoys music, but has a hard time hearing it, so he cranks up the volume to a level that is comfortable and enjoyable for him.

You, as a person who is not hard of hearing, have a much lower threshold for what is comfortable and enjoyable. Roommate is rocking out while you are rolling on the floor, clutching your head in agony. The sensory overload is causing you real pain. When you ask if the roommate can turn it down, he looks at you incredulously. "It's not THAT loud, hell, I can barely hear it!" You try to explain that, because his hearing isn't as acute as yours, your volume tolerances are different. He scoffs at this, telling you that you're making it up, and to stop being such a sensitive goddamn pussy, and to stop trying to control him with your stupid hypochondriac bullshit. He then turns it up even louder, flips you the bird, and subsequently refuses to ever turn the stereo off at all, just to spite you.

That, my friends, is what it is like to have a very sensitive sense of smell in a world where everyone and their dog is slathering on several layers of perfumed products.

Maybe you don't smell it quite as acutely. Maybe you think we're making this up. But when someone is trailing their cologne behind them like Princess Diana's bridal train, for some of us with sharp noses, it's the equivalent of someone screaming in your ear at the top of their lungs. The sensory overload hurts. It gives us headaches, just like the aforementioned roommate's music would give most other people headaches. Just because you aren't able to smell things as well as we do, doesn't mean that we are imagining this.

The overload of our olfactory senses causes a reaction--our sinuses fill, our noses run, our eyes water. This is a neurological reaction that is designed to reduce the waves of sensory input entering our noses. In fact, there is a certain nerve, the trigeminal nerve, that, if aggravated, can actually cause the nostril on the afflicted nerve's side of the face to run, the eye to water, and the sinuses--just on that side--to fill (this can be trigeminal neuralgia, or a cluster headache)--just from a nerve going haywire!

So, yes, when we get too much olfactory input, there is a PHYSICAL reaction, just like when your pupils constrict and your eyes hurt if you are in light that is too bright. If we are in a place that we cannot leave, such as our own homes, or a workplace, we are subject to pain and discomfort that cannot be mitigated. This is why many of us are sensitive to perfumes, and why we ask that others be more subtle with their scents. We're not trying to be mean to you, or to control you, we are trying to save ourselves from terrible headaches. Why is that too much to ask?

The coldest day of my life

I haven't written much lately; been busy with things. I thought I'd tell a story, just to keep things interesting.

November 2003, Fish Hatchery Management class.

We were on a field trip to the Adirondack Hatchery, way up near Lake Placid. It's damn cold up there in the North Country in November. The usual thing for this field trip was camping out by the hatchery, but we were looking at single-digit temperatures, a first for the trip. There was a dorm-style facility, but they weren't permitted to let us stay there overnight because it was above a garage, and some regulation said that we could get carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, they were willing to let us freeze to death.

We arrived at the hatchery after a five-hour drive from Cobleskill, NY. The trip started out ominously, as our rented vehicle hit a deer less than a mile away from the campus, but the vehicle was fine, and the deer leapt up and dashed off toward some woodland. Most of my classmates slept on the trip. Two of us, myself and N, had a tendency to get godawfully carsick, so I had loaded up on the Dramamine, sharing with him, and he gallantly offered me the front seat--which we both found reduced our motion sickness a great deal.

The Adirondack Hatchery spawns and grows land-locked Atlantic Salmon, big silvery beauties with a row of black X's down their sides. Salmon really like their water to be as cold as possible, so the hatchery itself was the same temperature as the air outside. In fact, the tall windows lining each side of the hatchery were fitted only with screens, which allowed air flow while keeping out insects and birds. The water in each of the circular tanks was kept solid only through kinetic energy--fast-flowing pipes dumping spring water right into the tanks, keeping that water moving. A good thing, too, as the air temperature was no more than 20ºF.

So we walk in, and get the basic idea of the spawning process going on, and we're heaved right into the thick of it. The process basically goes like this: Net salmon out of tank, put into anesthetic bath (MS-222), take salmon out of anesthetic bath after it's knocked out, squeeze the eggs out into a container (this takes practice; I'm not too shabby at it), put fish back into tank, in a separate section, so you don't grab the same fish twice. While this is going on, which takes about three people, someone else occasionally takes the eggs, mixes them with milt stripped from fish trapped out of the lake, and lets them fertilize before taking them off to the incubator room.

This whole process is very wet, obviously, and when it's already freezing cold out, your hands turn into claws of ice and agony. We were all well-clothed in long underwear, warm clothing, and rainsuits (rain suits keep the water OUTSIDE your clothing), but that didn't help our chilly faces or frozen hands much, and it wasn't long before we were all just chilled to the bone.

That night, we made dinner in the dorm area, had a party and warmed up, and then got permission from the hatchery manager to stay in the visitor's center! Now, that would have been really great, but he turned OFF the heat in the center so we wouldn't "roll up against a heater and burn" ourselves. The center was bitter cold, because they had a display pond of salmon, which was kept freshened by a constant flow of chilly water. I found out that night that my sleeping bag, rated for 0ºC, was indeed enough to keep me warm, even in 15ºF conditions.

The next day, we went out to the lake, where a boat brought in salmon that had been trapped on the lake. We stood on a dock and took turns stripping eggs and milt from the trapped salmon. All of the milt used to fertilize the eggs, even inside the hatchery building, were from trapped males. On the dock, we were unprotected from the chill wind, and there wasn't enough shivering, foot stomping, and running in place to keep us from becoming agonizingly cold.

At this point in my life, I had not developed fibromyalgia. I had, however, already developed arthritis in my hands, wrists, right shoulder, and ankles, especially the right one. By the time we were done with this field trip, I was in more pain than I probably had ever been. I do like to tell people that, after this experience, I will probably never be truly cold again in my life--but I have no desire to work at a salmonid hatchery, EVER, because they are such painfully cold places.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Kitty picture Sunday :)

You can see my pics of kitties on the petfinder page here.
Specifically, I did Prince, Plum, Raven, Rosa, Belle, Wilma, Gina, Alicia, and Onyx. I obviously took Ansel's pictures, too, since he's my foster ;)
Some of them still have their old photos in addition to the new ones, but not all. :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

From Gibson Girls to Photoshopped Perfection

In Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin, I was reminded that the feminine ideal of the early 1900s was just as unreal as today's photoshopped magazine covers. The Gibson Girls were drawings of otherwise slender women with large breasts and lush hips and buttocks. Their waists were tightly cinched to form an hourglass figure, and they were tall, with bouffant updos that further increased their statuesque heights. Women did their best to emulate the Gibson Girls, despite the fact that they were drawings--idealized versions of a man's vision of feminine beauty. Kolata also claims that flapper girls were a similar invention of artists, leading to the teenage-proportioned body (small breasts and hips) being the new ideal for that era.

Here we are, a hundred years later, still being mocked with unreal images of beauty that we are expected to emulate. Even women who already conform to the ideal are photoshopped to remove the tiniest details, until their faces resemble porcelain dolls. Not only are blemishes, wrinkles and other "flaws" removed, the very proportions of a woman's body and face are altered--eyes made bigger and moved to a different position on the face, lips plumped, widened, and repositioned, waists whittled down, breasts pumped up and lifted. It's ridiculous.

Manufacturers of beauty products absolutely rely upon women's low self-image to sell their products. While I enjoy putting different colors on my face, as humans have done for millennia, the cosmetics industry goes far beyond that. If we are not panicking over every pimple, freaking out over each wrinkle, and becoming hysterical at the sight of a gray hair, they aren't making money. These "too perfect" magazine covers are absolutely designed to shame us, to make us hate ourselves. There is BIG money to be made on our self-hatred.

We bind ourselves in Spanx, strap ourselves into tight bras, slather eight kinds of goop on our faces, pay for the privilege of having someone tell us how and what to eat (and shame us when we haven't lost weight), run on human sized hamster wheels (big big bucks there), dye our hair so we don't look old (instead of for the fun of, say, having purple hair), and then continue to buy the magazines that make us feel like we HAVE to keep doing these things, because we still don't look like the photoshopped cover girl, even though the magazines never actually say anything new (and trust me folks, Cosmo never has any real new sex tips, no matter what the cover hype says).

Well, screw that. I'm sorry, but I don't have the money to support low self esteem. If I felt like I wasn't good enough to be seen in public without buying all of the stupid crap these companies are selling, I wouldn't be able to afford the "privilege" of leaving my house.

Throw those damn magazines out. Stop buying them--they are preying upon you; they are deliberately designed to make you feel bad. Who needs that nonsense? Unsubscribe, and either find a less damning periodical (Bon Appetit, Cat Fancy, Aquarium Fish), or invest your money in some good books instead. If you're a feminist, or at least have feminist leanings, I can highly recommend the works of Sheri S. Tepper, and many of her books can be found for super-cheap used on Amazon. Or, build up your FA library with Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin, Paul Campos' The Obesity Myth, Roberta Pollack Seid's Never Too Thin (note: Get this one while you can; it's out of print, and only available used), and Barry Glassner's The Gospel of Food.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ianto the foster kitten

On Monday, we got a new foster. His story is REALLY sad, so get out your tissues. Oh, and "Ianto"? Yes, I was letting the boy name cats again. Yes, it's after the Torchwood character. It's better than naming them after dinosaurs, which is what he did with our first litter (Ptera-dactyl, Charlotte Bronte-saurus, and Anyankalosaurus--they are Ptera, Charlotte, and Anya, because I restrained him).

My friend Laurie was driving in the grocery store parking lot, when she noticed a cardboard box in the way. She didn't want to damage her vehicle, so she avoided the box, then stopped her Jeep and went to move the box so other people wouldn't be inconvenienced.

Within the box were three kittens, about 4 months old. One of them was dead. Laurie took one home, while another customer in the parking lot adopted the other. They were absolutely covered in fleas, which climbed up Laurie's arm as she was pulling them out of the box. She took the little guy home, treated him for fleas, and tried to integrate him into her household. She would have loved to have kept him, because he's really cute and playful, but her other cat just absolutely hated him.

So, when I emailed Laurie recently to ask her to buy stuff to support the rescue, letting her know that I was fostering and volunteering for them, she asked if I could help her by rehoming the little guy, whom she'd been calling George. I got permission from Robin, who is the rescue's namesake, and Brian and I picked him up on Monday (and sold Laurie some of the cranberry sauce).

When we got him home, I gave him a distemper vaccination, wormed him, and gave him Advantage. Today, he got his FeLV and FIV test, which was negative for both (hooray!). He also got his new name, so that he would be more unique and memorable. Ianto is due for neutering on the 30th of March, and will be up for adoption very shortly after that.

He is an exceptionally pretty cat; he reminds me of a lynx-point Siamese or something. I am sickened and angry that his former owners didn't even try to drop them off at a shelter, or somewhere they could get proper care before the sibling died. What kind of person does this?

Anyway, here are photos of Ianto:




By the way, if you are in the Capital Region of New York, and you are interested in adopting Ianto, or any other foster I've written about, please send me an email and we can discuss it.

If you are interested in helping to support the rescue with donations, you can do so via the Paypal link on the homepage here. Robin's Nest has programs to help feral cats, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, and adopts out only cats that have been spayed or neutered. This all takes hard work and money, so they can use every bit of help you can spare. Also, I have set up in my Etsy shop (on the right) a way to purchase cranberry sauce, which is our current fundraiser. It's delicious, and a great price.

Also, most of the cats I photographed for the petfinder page are actually adopted now! And, our foster Leonardo just found a home yesterday. Congratulations to them :) If you visit the page, check out Rosa's photos; she was a willing and wonderful subject for me.

Good Fatty/Bad Fatty

Well, y'all, I covered that particular topic over a month ago, but it seems to be all the rage now. So let's do this thing.

Dividing people in acceptable and unacceptable examples of their oppressed demographic is a time-honored tactic by oppressors. If you can get at least part of the group to turn its back on the rest, by way of convincing them that the oppression is somehow their own fault, and that it can be relieved by behaving in a particular way and alienating those who do not, well, doesn't that seem a perfect strategy for not just getting as many of them to behave the way you want them to, but also to assist you in oppressing their own demographic?

This is a well-beaten path, and we need to look to the experiences of those who have gone before us in pursuit of human rights to guide us. Civil rights activists have long known that when oppressed persons engage in behaviors (such as "acting white") to please their oppressors and mitigate their circumstances, the only thing that changes is the form of oppression. You are not truly free if you must behave in particular ways in order to avoid being abused.

We must also not fall into the trap of believing that those who abuse us have our best interests in mind, no matter what they claim. The abuse is easier to accept when we believe we deserve it, and abusers frequently try to convince their victims that the abuse is the victim's fault, and they wouldn't be abused, if only they would have done certain things. The truth is, abusers have no right to abuse, and they do so because it satisfies some desire or need in them--NOT because their victims deserve it. If the victims did not have a certain behavior or quality that the abuser focuses upon, there would be some other behavior or quality that the abuser would use an excuse.

None of us deserves the poor treatment we get for being fat. Every single one of us deserves basic human rights and dignity. What we eat, how much we exercise, our vital stats? Those aren't even a factor. Being a living, feeling being should be enough to warrant dignity. Don't stand for any less.

Big Buts, Part Eight: Pee-yew?

"But Rio, fat people smell bad!"

I would not even dignify this with a response, except that I have heard this nonsese far too often to let it go.

First, I want to say that I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. This is a blessing and a curse, depending on the situation, but it allows me to create exquisitely spiced dishes, among other great things. One of the curses of this sense of smell is that people with unpleasant odors are often more detectable to me than to those around me. So, let me give you my PERSONAL experiences with people and odor.

Looking back on my friends and acquaintances, I can honestly say that I cannot recall a smelly fat person in my circle, but I have had many, many unhygienic thin people. I'm not saying that thin people stink, but that body size does not determine odor.

S was a year ahead of me in collage. He was well over six feet tall, and probably only weighed about 120 pounds. S was very cute, and he had a huge crush on me. He might have stood a chance, but S was not acquainted with deodorant or toothpaste. Friends had tried many times to introduce him to the substances, both tactfully and directly, but it just never sunk in for very long. I'll give S the benefit of the doubt and consider that he might have been allergic, but he remained single until an equally unhygienic girl of average size decided to date him. I'm glad that they found each other, but I hope I don't have to be in a room with both of them ever again.

X and Y were both attractive young men of slender, but not skinny, build. X and Y seemed okay on the surface--they used deodorant, brushed their teeth, but when the clothes came off, intimacy revealed that both had some kind of aversion to washing their nether regions, especially in the rear. Despite being tactful, and eventually direct, neither would ever start washing their ass cracks during my time dating them. I mean, honestly, guys, dingleberries are for furry animals, not humans.

M was a young woman of average size. Because her parents never had decent hygiene (and her father was missing most of his teeth by the age of 50), she didn't know any better. Her hair was always unwashed, hanging in greasy clumps. Her clothing was never washed either.

C was a very tall, thin girl with whom I went to university years ago. C was very sweet, but she had a tendency to wear very short skirts, and she never washed her nether regions. She smelled like a walking yeast infection, and so did her whole room. It was really hard to visit her sometimes, because the smell gave me a headache, but I wasn't really prepared to talk to her about it.

T is a 350-pound woman. She take a shower, using soap on all of her parts. She uses a long-handled scrubber to get all the nooks and crannies. She washes her hair, brushes her teeth, and does her laundry regularly. At the end of a long workday where she has done physical labor, she gets onto the bus to go home. Because she's worked all day, she's somewhat grimy and sweaty, just like the lean guy sitting next to her. They both have a little bit of body odor, but because they are looking for the fat woman to be smelly, other people on the bus only notice that she smells a bit, shutting out the rest of the laborers whose bodies they aren't conditioned to think of as "disgusting".

This is a perception issue, one that does not resemble reality. Hygiene can be neglected in all types of people, especially those who did not have as much education (in M's case), those who had weird religious aversions to touching themselves in certain places (X and Y), and people who don't have their medical problems properly treated (C, for example). In some cases, there are people who cannot help their odors, either because of a medical condition that makes odors more prevalent, or because they have allergies to things like deodorant and certain soaps. There are also underprivileged people who do not have access to laundry facilities, a change of clothing, or shower facilities, especially if they are homeless.

So what I'm saying is, body size has nothing to do with a person's odor, and a person's odor does not determine their value as a human being anyway. If you're on public transportation, going home after a work day, everyone is more likely to stink a bit, because they have been working and sweating all day. That's life.

Hatred becomes violence

According to Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin, a survey indicated that 25% of fat men and 16% of fat women reported being hit or threatened because of their weight.

If you are one of the people who is against Fat Acceptance because you believe it is unhealthy to be fat, I really want to know whether you think it is okay or not to hit and threaten fat people because of their size. I also want to know how many people think that the solution to being abused for being fat is for the abused person to lose weight.

I often hear people telling others to lose weight so that they can fit in better socially--to gain a spouse, to have more friends, to get a better job. Do these fatophobes realize that condemning fat people to a lower social status can and does result in real physical violence? Once you accept that a demographic is not worthy of basic human dignity, you accept that demographic's inevitable mental and physical abuse. If you have ever vocally taunted a fat person, you bear some of the culpability when that person is eventually beaten by other hateful individuals, because you had a hand in fostering an environment of bigotry and hate.

There is no excuse for this. Change your attitude; don't become involved in verbal abuse of other people, especially when those people are an oppressed group. Speak up when you see other people engaging in the abuse. An environment of hate is no good for anyone, not even for those in the privileged group. Base your self-worth on your positive qualities, not on your imagined superiority over others.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another one back, after a month :(

Some of you might remember that Owl was returned to us after a month at his adoptive home. He's weird, but he's mostly doing okay here.

Clarence, who was Calvin's brother. was returned by his adoptive family because they said he was unfriendly, refusing to be held or cuddled by them. They said he would hardly even allow them to touch him. Over a month ago, Clarence and his sister Chloe came to us so we could work with them and help them overcome their fear of people. Chloe adapted very well, but Clarence was a tough little nut to crack. We got him to come to us and curl up on our laps, though, and he purred for us a great deal. So I was overjoyed when he was adopted to the same family as his sister--they love each other very much. Unfortunately for the kitties, the family returned only Clarence and kept Chloe.

We got Clarence home tonight, and we are still reeling from the damage done by this savage, feral monster. The third-degree burns on our laps from his warm little body curled up on them, and the shattering of our eardrums from his horrific purring--which also gave us severe bruising from the vibrations--all necessitated a visit to the ER. When I attempted to clip his very dangerous, pointy talons (because, such a vicious creature's scimitar-bladed paws could hardly be dismissed as having mere "claws"), Clarence's calm acceptance of our ministrations was so terrifying that we both fainted dead away.

Or, maybe, he spent the whole evening cuddled on our laps while we watched DVDs and read books, getting traded back and forth when one of us had to get up. He's not happy, but he was doing the best he could, I think.

On Brian's lap:
Clarence on Brian's Lap

On my lap:
Clarence on Jessica's Lap

Meanwhile, you want to see a cat that hates me right now, my sweet, angelic little Ptera needed a bath tonight due to some litterbox clumsiness. She didn't utter a peep, but she broke free several times, sliding around on the bathroom floor and landing on her face. She also refused to make eye contact with me during and after. I look forward to being forgiven. She'd also climbed up on the bed prior to the bath, so we had to change the sheet. This all happened after we had retired for the evening, so that just made it all the more special. I did not do her the indignity of photographing her in her full drowned-rat glory, but I did snicker a bit between kisses and apologies while I dried her off.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Kitty Love

I took a ton of photos today at the adoption clinic. I wanted to have photos that really captured the cats' personalities for the petfinder page. I know some of these aren't my best work, but I was trying to be quick, and while I was in the middle of it, some people came in and crowded me out of the room for a while so they could put a ridiculous collar on Trump that looked like a tie, and take pictures of him. He was uncooperative, because he has some dignity.

Jeeves is a fairly serious cat:


Plum is sweet and playful:

Rosa is dignified and calm:


Karma is a bitch (not kidding):

Trump is VERY sweet and innocent. He's gentle and cuddly--he is declawed on all four paws, and was picked up as a STRAY. He deserves better than that:


Friday, March 14, 2008

Animal compassion

A few years back, there was a wonderful story about some elephants that very deliberately and cunningly freed some antelope that had been captured and penned up by humans. I won't rehash the whole thing, but the elephants waited until the humans were settling in for the night, circled the enclosure, and waited while the herd's matriarch figured out the latches on the gate. They waited until every antelope was out, then walked away.

There are many tales of elephants doing compassionate things like this. One story describes an elephant that was trained to place logs into holes for building a structure; the elephant balked at one point, and the mahout giving commands discovered that the elephant was avoiding harming a sleeping dog. There are plenty of stories of elephants being kind toward injured or helpless humans. They are also exceptionally compassionate toward one another, and become deeply grief-stricken when one of their herd dies, visiting the bones for years after the death.

They aren't perfect, of course. Elephants that have been treated badly by people sometimes snap and cause injury or death. They are fiercely protective of their young, and have no problem stomping someone who messes with a calf. Most cases of "killer" elephants that I have seen involve stressed out, abused, or sick animals, though--elephants treated respectfully are generally much kinder toward our species.

So why am I bringing up elephant altruism? The main reason today is that I want to point out that they make us look like savages. Yes, some of our kind help other species, some of us treat each other kindly, but there is a disturbingly high number of cruel people as well. When we spew hate at members of our own species over something as trivial as how fat they are (and that's just one example), I have to wonder why so many of us believe that humans are better or more important than species that display a greater level of compassion--not just toward their OWN kind, even, but toward other species, even ours!

But then, I remember that the elephants who don't behave this way are usually sick, abused, or protecting their young. The tremendous pressure our society puts on people to look and act a certain way can create insane amounts of stress. I can only explain some of the disturbing, hateful things said and done by fatophobes as the result of a mind that has been badly damaged by the cognitive dissonance that occurs when the messages being programmed into the populace's brains are at odds with what they perceive to be true.

Let me take a moment here to explain what I mean. For whatever reason, we are being endlessly told that food is a poison, that people eat because they are mentally ill, not because their bodies need fuel, and that death is right around the corner unless we lose 15 more pounds (and then it's fifteen more after that, and after that, too). What we perceive, however, is that "bad" foods aren't causing us to die, that we eat because we are actually hungry, that our bodies are run down and less functional when we don't eat enough, and that the never-ending demand that we becoming thinner and thinner can never resemble the reality of our bodies' autonomic management of our weight and metabolism. Some of us see the naked emperor and decide to live in reality. Those who have thoroughly bought into the myths, though, have too much invested in the fantasy of being thin, and thus cannot tolerate anything that rattles the foundation of their fantasy. They're stressed out, they're sick, and they react accordingly.

It's still no excuse.

An elephant that acts this way is frequently a prisoner of its abusers. Zoo and circus elephants snap and kill a keeper or trainer. People who have invested themselves in the fantasy of being thin, however, have a bit more choice. It's an uncomfortable choice, sure; it's hard to accept that the system that gives privilege to thin people is wrong. For thin people, they stand to lose all that they have acquired through that privilege. For others, they lose the (albeit misguided) hope that all they have to do is lose weight, and they will become a privileged member of society. They lose the idea that they have control over their status--or they lose an excuse for not developing themselves in other ways. I really do understand that it is hard, but come on already--it isn't doing you or anyone else any good. Try to be at least as good a person as the average elephant, would you?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Big Buts, Part Seven: Do I Hate Thin People?

"But Rio, why do you hate thin people so much?"


I get this a lot. I really do not understand it. I challenge anyone to look through my blog and find anything saying that I hate thin people, or that they suck, or anything of the sort.

I believe in fat acceptance. Accepting fat people does not mean that you then hate thin people. I can't imagine how someone would believe otherwise, unless they're the type that, when they lose one outlet for their hatred and venom, they must immediately transfer it to another target. Being a feminist does not mean someone hates men*, it means that they want women to be treated like human beings, equal to men. You don't have to sacrifice one group to give another group rights and respect! As a fat person, I want to be treated as respectfully as a thin person is treated in our society. As a woman, I want the same rights and respect as a man.

Imagine this:
Two people, Casey and Dana. Casey is standing up on a platform, while Dana is down below. Casey has access to a bunch of rocks to throw at Dana, while Dana has none, and would not have the strength to throw them high enough to hit Casey anyway. Now, there are several options we could take here:
- Dana climbs up to the platform where Casey is, and knocks Casey off the platform, switching their roles. Now Dana is privileged, while Casey is not. This results in an endless struggle where the two switch places in a cycle of vengeance.

- Casey climbs down to where Dana is, sacrificing privilege to gain equal footing. This doesn't benefit Dana that much, except that Casey isn't throwing rocks, but because Casey resents being lowered to Dana's situation, there are fistfights and discord between them.

- Casey lowers a rope and helps Dana up to the platform, putting them both on equal footing. This DOES benefit Dana, of course, and Casey has to sacrifice very little to do this--and may even benefit from Dana's experience, ideas, and companionship.

It is not necessary to tear down one group of people in order to put a less privileged one on equal footing. What we DO have to sacrifice in order to do this, though, is the idea that we need to have someone beneath us in order to feel important. Finding your self-worth is pretty hard, and we are unfortunately taught the dirty shortcut of ranking ourselves over someone else. Dehumanizing other people, however, is harmful to everyone involved in the long run--when you throw rocks at someone (metaphorically or literally), you create a cycle of hatred and vengeance that can be very difficult to break. Admitting that you were wrong in the way you treated someone is really, really tough, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to find your true self-worth, which is independent from someone else being inferior to you.

So, in short, no, I don't hate thin people. Thin people who read my writings and believe otherwise may want to examine why they are reacting this way; I believe that it is probably because I'm refusing to acknowledge their "superior" status. That's really uncomfortable, obviously. It probably stings a bit when I say things like, "Yes, you have worked really hard to become thin, but that doesn't actually mean anything to me," especially when those who have lost a lot of weight are accustomed to high praise from just about everyone else. There's also the upsetting idea that putting a lot of effort into something doesn't make that something valuable to everyone else. What you did to lose weight was for your own benefit; it is not some kind of heroic, humanitarian task, no matter how much people piss and moan about health care costs.

On a final note, I want to mention that, if I hated thin people, I wouldn't have married one. In my social life, I don't treat thin friends any differently from fat friends. I don't tell thin people to eat more, to gain weight, or anything of the sort--because a person's body size is none of my business. No, I don't hate thin people. No, I don't want you to go and gain weight if you're thin. I just don't think your body size has anything to do with your value as a human being, and I won't accept it when others behave as if it does.

*This does NOT mean that there are no feminists who hate men; it means that hating men is not a requirement of feminism.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

She Dances On The Sand Postcards

My postcards have arrived! I have mailed them out to everyone who has so far donated or made a purchase, but I have lots more. I will send one to anyone who donates $2 or more (on the right), as long as you provide your mailing address in the paypal info.

They are really cute; I have two styles, and I'll send both if you like!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cranberry Sauce for Kitties!

I have been volunteering for a local cat rescue, Robin's Nest Rescued Cat Adoptions. I help staff adoption clinics and spay/neuter clinics, and I also foster cats. Every cat that is adopted from Robin's Nest is spayed or neutered, treated for fleas, de-wormed, and given a rabies vaccination (if they are over 3 pounds) and their initial distemper vaccinations.

All of this veterinary care takes money--money that is only partially covered by the very low adoption fee ($80.00). We rely on the kindness of others to help with the rest, including cats who need more than just basic care, cleaning supplies, and all kinds of things like that.

So, I'm pestering you, because we have a huge pile of donated Wild Thymes cranberry sauce to sell. It normally goes for $5.99 on the Wild Thymes website, but we are selling it $3/jar, or 2/$5.00. It is absolutely delicious, and I can provide local folks with a taste before they decide to buy. If you are not local, I have made purchasing easier via my Etsy shop:

If you're just interested in making a donation without purchasing anything, you can find a donation link on the Robin's Nest website:

Also, if you visit the "Cats for adoption" link on the site, you can see my current foster kitties, Salvador, Ansel, and Leonardo! They are fabulous boys, and I love them to bits.

Fight homelessness, not homeless people

But, no, homeless people are icky, and dirty:

So let's screw over a church that shelters them...

...and let's ask volunteers to do something EXTREMELY useful with their time: sitting on benches for three hour stretches of time to keep homeless people from using them!

I was wondering if April 1st had come early, but no, there are actually people out there who are this hateful and stupid. Instead of contributing toward constructive solutions, they seem to think that further marginalizing these folks will make the problem go away.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Too little time

I grew up with an aunt who was only a couple of years older than I. We played together when we were young, but had different interests as teens. As we entered our twenties, I didn't spend a lot of time with her, but always admired her for having the emotional fortitude to work at the local humane society, a kill shelter that euthanized a large number of animals.

There was a day when I had kittens to vaccinate for distemper. The vet showed me how to do it, and gave me the pre-filled syringes. When it came to it, I had a hard time, so I boxed up the kittens and went to my aunt's house, where she did it for me. She told me that the vet had provided needles that were too large to easily and (for the kittens) comfortably give the shots, and that they were probably used to draw the shots, so were already dulled by at least two sticks. She quickly and skillfully injected them, and gave them some cuddles before sending me on my way.

The shelter valued her so much that, when their mascot, a sweet, adorable dog named Shannon, was retiring, she went to live with my aunt. Loving and working with animals has been the one main thing that we have in common, but I didn't spend nearly enough time talking to her about it.

And now, she has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

I've been trying to make up for lost time by sending her letters. I know that this is a difficult time for her; she is having chemotherapy and radiation to extend her time and give her greater function for what is left. So I write often, telling her about my foster kittens, my own cats, funny, happy stories to hopefully provide a few moments of distraction. I also express my admiration for her work with animals, something I should have done long ago. I don't expect replies; I would rather she use her time to be with her husband, and do the things she really wants to do, and have my letters just be something good and fun that arrive once or twice a week. I hope she looks forward to them, at least.

Whom have you written to lately that really needs to hear what you have to say? Do it while times are good, and you can enjoy each other fully.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reading comprehension

Some of the more idiotic troll comments I've gotten have been along the lines of, "Good luck finding someone to be attracted to you!" and "Tell yourself it's okay to be fat, but you'll be alone your whole life unless you're thin!"

These comments just tell me that the people making them are not very bright. I've made no secret of the fact that I am quite happily married. I have not mentioned that we have sex, lots of it, with both parties thoroughly enjoying it. No, my being fat does not make it difficult for us to have sex. We do it like most other people, penis in vagina (not penis in a "fat fold" like fat hating idiots often claim). Sometimes he's on top. Sometimes I'm on top, and no, it doesn't suffocate him or hurt him; he often requests it, in fact. Yes, he does perform oral sex on me; he really enjoys doing it, and no, I am not unsanitary down there or anywhere else--I bathe just like thin people do. (Sorry you had to read this paragraph, mom)

I mean, really, people. Is that what this is about? Is it like homophobia, where people get all upset because their dirty little minds go right to imagining the BUTTSEX involved, and get mad at two men who are doing nothing but holding hands in public, just because the homophobes have overactive imaginations? You see a fat person, and you don't have enough of an understanding of the mechanics of sex to keep your little mind from running ridiculous scenarios of how they would be having sex? Or is it the fear that these people, whom you don't find attractive, are going to make you have sex with them? That a fat woman or a gay man won't be able to control themselves around your oh-so-thin-and-sexy body and rape you? There is an easy solution to this: Grow up and stop making everyone around you into sex objects, and stop acting like you are the center of the fucking universe. I swear, it is so fucking ridiculous to see people having a hissy fit when they aren't the object of desire of people they aren't actually interested in, yet getting equally offended when they are.

Oh, and, as for me being fat and lonely, I present to you Exhibit A:

Attraction isn't just about appearance

When you tie your worth to your appearance, you are obligated to maintain that worth by ensuring that those of "lesser" appearance remain devalued. Those who could be allies and support become enemies.

When your self-worth depends on attracting men--and lots of them, what happens when you stop attracting them? Also, will you be able to remain faithful in a monogamous relationship if you constantly crave attention from multiple men?

Here's a (not so) secret: Fat acceptance proponents aren't seeking to force all men to find us attractive. Or any men. We ARE trying to keep those who do find us attractive (yes, folks, they do exist) from being shamed and ridiculed. Tell me, why DO you care so much what your buddy's girlfriend looks like anyway? Leave him alone, and let him be happy. Maybe you can't imagine being attracted to that person, but that doesn't matter. His preferences aren't your issue; your friends don't have to date people that you are attracted to. Hell, they're better off NOT doing so, for that matter.

It surprises me when haters go "Neener neener good luck having someone be interested in you, like I have got!" I'm married, you know. I was fat when we got married, and fat when we first met. I am very happy with him, and he is happy with me. I have no reason to attract "all men in the world" because I only care about one man being interested in me--and I've got him. He didn't have to be "forced" to love me, or clubbed over the head, or drugged, or anything; he was naturally attracted to me, and we happened to be compatible in other ways as well.

If anything, the fatophobes would seek to force him to NOT be attracted to me, because it upsets them to know that there's more to it than being thin.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Etsy update

I just noticed that a huge number of my items had expired listings. That has been corrected, and I have added the two fully framed items to the shop as well.

If you looked already, you might find it worth your while to take another peek and see if something else strikes your fancy. :)

Maybe it's not the weight!

From Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, by Gina Kolata:
By then he was truly fat, weighting 202 pounds...he was only 5 feet 5 inches tall..."I have been compelled to go down stairs slowly backwards, to save the jar of increased weight upon the ankle and knee joints, and been obliged to puff and blow with every slight exertion, particularly that of going up stairs."

Okay, look:
I am fatter than that. I am shorter than that. I HAVE ARTHRITIS! And I do not have to "go down stairs slowly backwards to save the jar of increased weight" blah blah blah. If the guy quoted was having those issues, it wasn't his weight causing it. It's said that he changed his diet, and "began to feel better immediately". Well, he cut out starches and sugars. He probably had diabetes (this was in the 1860s, so no insulin or blood sugar testing), and once his diet change got that under control, the symptoms of joint pain and shortness of breath went away.

I love how people talk about fat people's joints getting so much damage from omg fat. Your joints are MORE at risk if you're engaging in a lot of athletic activity; doctors started seeing a huge increase in sports-related injuries, and I've seen some say that they are seeing 70-year-old joints in 30-year-old people because of our national obsession with vigorous exercise. (I am sorry that I don't have a link for that; I thought I did, but can't find it now). It's funny, too, because when I look up information about this, they talk about how "All of that running, jumping, and pounding can easily damage tendons, cartilage, or bone", then, invariably, add "but omg don't be fat too, because fat is bad" as almost an afterthought.

(But wait, I thought we were all supposed to exercise ourselves to death so we didn't get fat, because fat is bad? It looks like you're doomed either way, and, honestly, I'd rather take the less painful route to bad knees.)

I have a better idea than all of these dire warnings: How about, in each individual case, we determine the actual cause of the joint pain, and deal with it that way? And, by actual cause, I mean, the doctor doesn't look at a fat person and say, "Your joint pain is because you are disgustingly fat. Eat less and exercise more. Goodbye," without so much as an x-ray or even looking at the joints in question. I wonder if my aunt could have been spared knee replacements if the doctors had caught her rheumatoid arthritis before she entered Stage IV, and had the cartilage in her knees completely destroyed--not by her being too heavy, but by her immune system going haywire and eating up the cartilage. I am just thankful that they caught it when they did, before the RA caused her organs to fail, but still.

As for being out of breath? I had asthma when I was a skinny child and teen. Because it was unmanaged, I had to deal with asshole gym teachers screaming insults at me for not being able to run a mile without wheezing and coughing. Now that I'm fat, of course, people will tell me I'm "out of shape". No, dumbasses, my airways are inflamed, and I need medicine to open them up. Asthma affects people of all sizes. If someone makes a dietary change, and their breathing is improved, don't be so quick to assume it's fat-related. My asthma improved remarkably when I cut certain allergens out of my diet (and I haven't had a major emergency since I eliminated peanuts from my life).

It just annoys the hell out of me when people assume that TEH FAT is causing the problem, when it isn't the only factor involved.

All things in moderation

...including comments here.

I have left up troll comments in my post called "The 'O' Word" to be an example of the disgusting, hateful words that are directed at people who dare to not hate themselves for being fat. I don't want such ugliness to mar my blog, but I think it's important for others to see it.

From this point forward, however, I am moderating comments and removing the spew. Sorry, trolls, but if you want to piss and moan about us, you'll have to make your own blog to do it. Nothing's stopping you.

I do want to say that, given the cruel, hateful nature of the things that were said, I don't believe that this shit has anything at all to do with concern for our health. So take your patronizing bullshit elsewhere; we're not falling for it.


I would like to remind readers of the Paypal donation button in my sidebar. I'm bringing this up because I have acquired (at no cost to me) some gorgeous postcards that I'd love to send to anyone who donates at least $2 (and who includes their address in the paypal information).

Additionally, anyone who purchases an item from My Etsy Shop will have one of these postcards tucked into their order! I would actually prefer that you purchase an item than just donate, so that you get something for your money. If there is a particular subject you would like to see photographed and in my shop (no nudes of me, folks, sorry), please let me know; I love doing commissions! I also have the photo of me in my profile matted and ready to sell, so if someone's actually interested in it, I'll be happy to put it in the shop.

Those who donated in the past received a handwritten thank you note; the note will be written on the back of the postcard for future donations, while supplies last. I am really excited about the cards, and I am eager to share them with others!

For those who are unaware, I am currently not able to work a "regular" job. I do occasional reptile shows for classrooms and birthday parties, but I have not had enough appointments to make ends meet. My husband makes almost enough to pay our bills, but I have a difficult time getting enough to pay for things like medication.

Thank you for your support, those who have already donated; I appreciate the help so very much.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It's about health, you know

I have been reading Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, by Gina Kolata.

One of the things she mentions early in the book is, right around the turn of the 20th century, upper-class woman would corset themselves into 10-inch waists, then carefully cultivate an image of illness and frailty. The fashion of being invalids who were sickly and swooning all the time, pale and thin, was unattainable for working-class women, who needed functional bodies to survive in the real world.

A "functional body" is one that is not corseted to a diameter of 18". For a woman to have the strength and endurance to work and raise her family, she needs to eat and breathe well. A woman who has servants and wealth may have the luxury of voluntary debility, but for such a state to be a desirable trait that a man would seek in a potential spouse? He isn't interested in a healthy, happy partner; he wants a living decoration, a waiflike doll to control and use. Working class men did not have as much "luxury"--they needed strong, healthy spouses for their families to succeed, and therefore needed to accept that they would not have as much control over their wives.

The craze for thinness, especially in women, has its roots in keeping women subservient to men. If we are hungry, undernourished, and sickly, then we are easier to control. Fat is a feminist issue.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The hardest part

The hardest part of fostering cats isn't giving them up to their new families. I thought that WAS pretty hard at first (and I kept Ptera and Anya because of it), but it got easier as time went on.

No, the hard part is when you have to let them go, and it isn't to an adopter.

Pretty Lady, our beautiful calico girl, went in for her spay surgery today, and instead of having surgery, she was euthanized due to feline leukemia.

Pretty Lady

We are very sad, but we are trying to look at the positive side: She was living on the street, with a deadly illness, in the winter. She would not have survived long, and she would have suffered immensely. We gave her a few days where she was warm, sheltered, well-fed (she gained weight while with us!), and, most importantly, loved. She had none of those things before coming into our care. She also was very dirty, and I could tell that she felt so much better after her bath. She was so grateful and loving toward us. Her tail curled in a unique way, and she would arch her back and walk up to us purring when we came in to say hello. She was a sweet, patient, loving kitty who just wanted someone to love her back, and I am glad we were able to give her that, if only for a short time.

The vet who does our spay/neuter clinic was Aakhu's vet ten years ago before we changed practices (not because of her, but because the other vets there weren't very good), and she is a very compassionate, kindly person. I am sure that Lady's last moments were painless, and that Dr. J was respectful of her. Dr. J was also very compassionate and kind to me on the phone, and I appreciate that.

I am also glad that, fortunately, we kept her separated from the other fosters, and the boys all tested negative. They were neutered this morning, and we will be picking them up, plus an empty carrier, this afternoon.

A telling quote from "Rethinking Thin"

From Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, by Gina Kolata:
"Baumann, of California Medical Weight Loss Associates, said that doctors there prescribed [phen-fen] for people who were at least 20 percent above their ideal weight. 'A lady who weighs 120 and should weigh 100 pounds is obese,' he said..."

I'm sorry, but NO. First of all, this "should weigh" bullshit is so subjective that it is practically meaningless. A woman who "should weigh" 100 pounds, even according to the b.s. Met life height weight tables, would have to be under 4'10". So, okay, it's a bad example--but, the fact that he uses that particular example tells me that this has absolutely jack and shit to do with health, and everything to do with making women conform to some insane, unattainable, unsustainable ideal. No adult woman of a normal height* is "obese" or even "fat" at 120 pounds, no matter how much self-deprecation individuals of that size heap upon themselves.

This "20%" rule quoted by the doctor is clearly used to justify making money off of people for weight loss treatment who did not need to be losing weight. Putting a 120-lb woman on phen-fen so that she doesn't eat as much makes absolutely NO sense. If someone is not naturally 100 lbs without having to diet, then they should not try to force themselves to be that weight.

I understand doctors freaking out about those of us who are 220 lbs, because they've been brainwashed into thinking that someone of this size is inherently unhealthy. It's based on incorrect information, of course, and we are working to change it, but I understand it. I DO NOT understand a doctor encouraging a slim woman to lose even more weight, though, except that the woman herself is dissatisfied with her size and asks for help. I think the appropriate thing in that situation, though, is to tell the patient that they do not need to engage in weight loss to the point that they are "underweight"--but how often do you think doctors do that?

It's also quite interesting to note that no one is ever satisfied with their size. If a 250-lb person loses 100 lbs, down to 150, they are not likely to be satisfied; they will move their goal to a lower number. The 120-pound woman wants to be 100 pounds, and at 100-pounds will then want to go below three digits. And so on. And, no matter what you do, it won't ever be enough for some of these fat-hating doctors. Sure, you made it down to 120, but you COULD be 100, so here, have some pills. Have some surgery.

My final observation: The example was a woman. I'm dismayed at how women are so often targeted for needing to be thinner, thinner, thinner, especially by male doctors. Call my cynical, but I really believe that Dr. Fathater's personal aesthetics are more important to him than women's health.

* By normal height, I mean above 4'10", as people under that size may qualify as Little People, depending on other medical factors.

Four foster kitties at once!

We picked up three fosters this weekend, making our total fosters in house four, as we'd picked up a girl earlier in the week. We've had as many as six before, but all six of those were young kittens, while these are all adults. The new ones are all boys, and all from the warehouse situation where we got Isaac. The female is a stray that was trapped in our neighborhood by a kindly older woman; I happened to be the volunteer that was willing to take in an adult cat at the time, and the location (four blocks away) was simply a bonus, especially in the snowstorm we were having at that time!

Salvador, who is a tiny guy, very underweight; his growth seems stunted:

Leonardo, who is very regal, quiet, and sweet. Docile as can be:

Ansel, who's friendly, but fought like a demon when getting his claws trimmed. He forgives us, but is a little wary yet because of it:

Ansel again:

And the three of them (left to right - Leonardo, Ansel, Salvador):
Leonardo, Ansel, and Salvador
Salvador is very goofy and friendly; he tries to run out the door at every opportunity, and will roll around ecstatically while being touched. He seems to have sexually matured, but he weighs a little over three pounds. His feet are also very oddly shaped. I am going to have the APF vet, Julie, tell me if she sees any developmental problems with him. She's also going to have to give me an age estimate on everybody, including Pretty Lady, the girl we picked up earlier this week:
Pretty Lady
Her white parts were BROWN; I had to give her a bath when we got her, and her rinse water was brown and gritty, poor baby. She was super docile for her bath, and for pretty much everything we had to do to her (Advantage, worming, vaccination). She loves people and is a HUGE flirt.