a very happy christmas 2013

I woke up way too early and stayed up way too late on Christmas. It was a pretty awesome day. This is, without a doubt, the best Christmas we’ve had yet.

Christmas 2013

stockings

 At my urging, earlier in the season, Kidling wrote a gift list (I’m a big believer in gift lists — I think if someone gives out a list of 10 items to 5 people, then the person is still definitely going to be surprised on Christmas, and they’re going to be surprised with gifts that are actually meaningful and wanted by them). His original typed list said, 

Battlefield 4
Skyrim
Xbox money, or whatever I can get DLCs with
Halo Megablocks sets (any you want to pick)
Punch ’em Sock ’em robots
Miscellaneous
WARNING: LIST MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

Over the month, he added the following handwritten requests:

Respect
Same equality as an adult
Gyroscope
Toys for cats
Toys for Sirius (our dog)
My Little Pony (anything you can get your hands on.)
Money (does not matter on how much, also okay with getting none)
Phone case
New shirts (My Little Pony, please)
New gloves hat (My Little Pony, please)
ThinkGeek stuff

Although we did not grant him the “full equality of an adult” (and I did explain to him that for an 11-year old, he enjoys an unusual amount of household respect), we did get him several other items on the list. Not all, but quite a few. We also purchased a treat for the family — a PS4.

ps4

This is posed for photographic purposes. The box was not under the tree on xmas morning.

It was going to be a bit of a financial sacrifice, in that there would be no gifts for me and only the one gift for John that I had been paying for on layaway for the past month, but if we could find one we were sure it would be worth it. The problem was, the consoles were sold out everywhere, and as Christmas crept closer, our allotted spending cash continued to shrink. It was looking less and less like we would be able to get the console, even if we found it.

We had been talking about the console all month, and I suspected Kidling had overheard our conversations and might have his hopes up. So I explained to him that we would not be getting any new consoles for Christmas, because they were out of stock everywhere and we’d already spent too much on presents.

Then my aunt sent us a Christmas check for $1,000, and the next day my husband found the last PS4 in stock at the local GameStop. We snatched it up barely a week before Christmas, and we were able to get some kickass gifts for each other, my dad, my brother, my sister, my aunt, and some close family friends.

We set up the PS4 on Christmas Eve. It’s a really unobtrusive unit. The slim black box is barely noticeable next to the black television and on top of the dark walnut of the bookcase it’s sitting on. We wrapped the controller and Battlefield 4 video game up into one bundle, which we hid in the corner of the couch underneath a throw, away from the other gifts. 

So Christmas morning arrives, and Kidling started opening his gifts.

beginning 3 xmas 2013 beginning 2 xmas 2013 beginning 1 xmas 2013 excite! xmas 2013

Hilariously, and completely unplanned by me, the first gift he opens is a toothbrush. True, it’s a sonic screwdriver electric toothbrush, but it is a toothbrush. A flash of disappointment crosses his face before he quickly hides it and thanks us with a big grin.

OHMYGAWD

OHMYGAWD

From the perspective of an adult who would personally love to have a sonic screwdriver electric toothbrush, but who can remember a time when such a utilitarian toy would seem dull, I was highly amused by his disappointment. I was also impressed with how quickly he covered it up. Don’t worry — as we continued opening gifts, his excitement progressed from fake to very real.

dr whooves xmas 2013 halo exmas 2013

The next dip in his joy was when he opened up a blu-ray copy of Despicable Me: 2. It’s his current favorite movie, but it’s also the exact same shape and size of a video game box. He thought he was opening Battlefield 4 or Skyrim, and instead was holding Despicable Me: 2.

I don’t care how much you love a movie; if you’re expecting and hoping for one thing and you get another, it kinda feels like a bait and switch — especially since Despicable Me: 2 wasn’t actually on his list. Still, he does like the movie, and he cheered up when he saw that there were extra little mini-movies not shown in the theater.

Pictured: Not Battlefield 4.

Pictured: Not Battlefield 4.

So he finishes opening all his gifts under the tree and settled back, clearly satisfied with his haul, but also kind of quiet.

gyroscope xmas 2013

I could tell he was simultaneously happy and disappointed — pleased with his gifts, yet trying to adjust to the fact that there were no video games, which was pretty much all he talked about wanting in the days leading up to christmas. There’s a little shadow of barely-concealed disappointment in his eyes when he thinks we’re not looking.

post gift bliss xmas 2013

So I sit down on the couch to open a present from John, and “pretend” to find a stray gift on the couch. “Oh,” I say. “This one’s for Kidling. How did it get over here?”

I hand it to Kidling, and his lips kind of quirk up in this confused smile. He gives us this sort of, “what’s going on here …” look, and begins to tear at the paper. He pulls out the PS4 controller, but doesn’t immediately recognize that it’s for PS4 — he says, “My own … controller?” (clearly baffled, clearly thinking it’s for the xbox 360 console we currently own, but confused because it feels/ looks different from normal). We just keep grinning as he continues unwrapping and reveals the second part of the gift — Battlefield 4 for PS4. He stares at the box for a second, confused, then looks up with a dawning sense of wonder on his face and asks, “Where is it? Where’s the PS4?”

John started laughing and said, “Look behind you!”

The installed console was right behind Kidling’s head the whole time. He didn’t even notice. He turns around and does this hilarious double-take, and then he began doing a celebratory Gangum Style dance around the living room.

It cracked me up, because his expression was one of perfect seriousness as he performed these dance moves — it looked almost ritualistic, as though he was performing a ceremonial dance for the Gods of Fun and Presents. I would post a video, but unfortunately I took so much video on my phone that morning that my phone memory filled up and the damn thing stopped recording.

That said, here’s a picture of him posing with the game and controller in front of the PS4 menu.

ps4 xmas 2013

All in all, it was a super-fun xmas.

I was talking to John afterward, and I realized that what with layoffs (2001), financial concerns (2001-2009), family death (2003 & 2009), separation (2006), injuries (2007), flooding and house damage (2007 & 2008), foreclosure threats (2007 – 2011), the poly experiment (2009), and drama with extended family (2000-2012), it’s only within the past year or so that we have actually had the opportunity to have a stress-free holiday where we can just enjoy spending time with each other and giving/ receiving gifts.

I guess what I’m saying is, you’ll have to excuse my exuberant consumerism — this is maybe the 3rd holiday season since we got married that our world isn’t collapsing in on us.

The 2013 Gift Extravaganza

Family

  • PS4
  • $1,000 check (from aunt)
  • Candy (from sister)
  • Penguin xmas ornament (from dad)
  • Homemade cookies & candies (from family friends — personalized gifts listed individually)

John

john3 xmas 2013 CaptureJohn

  • Kawasaki KLR soft luggage (saddlebags, tail bag, handlebar bag)
  • Nautilus air horn for motorcycle 
  • Wüsthof Classic Nakiri & Chef’s Knife 2-piece knife set
  • Tankbot
  • Ramen bowl, spicy ramen noodles, Japanese mango soda, and “sciencey stuff” (a geyser tube with mentos, for cola + mentos, and touchable bubbles) from Kidling
  • By Any Means, by Charley Boorman & Motorcycle Touring in the Pacific Northwest
  • A new wok and some nice chopsticks
  • Ghost pepper plant
  • Stocking: Assorted candy, a marzipan pig, and Christmas Peeps
  • Off the Beaten Path, Ed. 2 (from family friend)

For Me

bigbear xmas 2013 nook glowlight xmas 2013

  • GIANT TEDDY BEAR
  • Nook Glowlight & foldable cover
  • Blu-Ray of my favorite animated Disney movie, Robin Hood
  • Desired kitchen utensils (spatula, pastry brush, etc)
  • Mochi (3 packs), box of Cherry cordials, Pocky Sticks (2 packs), Chocolate-Banana bar, box of Marzipan sticks. (from Kidling)
  • Owlet kitchen timer & Owl stackable measuring cup set (from Kidling)
  • Stocking: Assorted candy and marzipans
  • Fictionary and Me: Stories of My Life, by Katharine Hepburn (family friend); bamboo purse (from sister)

Kidling

CaptureAustin2 CaptureAustin1

As AWESOME as all the gifts were, the thing that really infused and made this holiday season one to remember was the time spent with loved ones, the reconnections, and the complete lack of seriously debilitating stress.

This holiday season, I reconnected with my brother (and hopefully soon nephew!), who I’ve missed very much. We spent Thanksgiving (and hopefully started a new tradition!) with some very dear, amazing, and thoughtful friends. We were able to spend some one-on-one time with our friends Edie and Chelle, as well as their families. We had the time, leisure, and financial security to pay it forward for much of the generosity, kindness, and assistance given to us in the past by helping those in need. Above all, we were able to enjoy a stress-free holiday where we could focus on each other and have fun.

I’m so grateful for my family. I love them so much, and this was a wonderful cap to a pretty good year. In 2010, I started joking to my husband that we had dealt with so much shit over the past decade, we had earned one year of absolute peace and quiet. As we enter 2014, I look back with gratitude on the last year of relative peace and quiet, and I look forward with hope for another low-key year full of friends, family, and good times.

beginning 4 xmas 2013

hot guys on motorcycles

A few months ago, there was a video of some chick in Russia riding her motorcycle, wearing nothing but a helmet, pasties, and crocs. I was underwhelmed and didn’t bother to share, because hot chicks on bikes getting hella attention is kind of par for the course in the motorcycle community.

In fact, it’s so common that when I typed the search term, “Russian woman on motorcycle,” to illustrate this entry, I got tons of hot women wearing little to no clothing who are on or near motorcycles — but not the naked woman in question. Then I realized I left the most important word out of that search string, and retried it, and she was the top result.

screenshot

I choose a screenshot lacking definition for a reason.

Anyway, as a straight-identified woman who appreciates hot people on motorcycles, I gotta admit: I get a little tired of the sexified chicks draping themselves on or around (and occasionally riding) these large sexy pieces of machinery. I mean, I’m not a big fan of objectification/ sexualization in general, but I do get it: Sex sells.

What I don’t get is why we don’t have more pictures of sexy guys on motorcycles. The proportion of women riders is increasing every year, and there have got to be plenty of bisexual and gay men who would also appreciate a little variety in the objectification/ sexualization associated with motorcycles.

Actually, I do get that. For the ads, motorcycle companies and dealers probably still see straight guys as their primary market, and the marketers think that sexy women are more likely to bring in customers than the motorcycle alone.

For the self-submitted pics/ videos, there’s a lot of complex psychological and social interactions going into the decision to sexualize oneself (or ones SO) for public consumption, but the long and short of it is that our culture has led to women who court the male gaze getting more positive attention by dominant portions of society than men who court the male gaze.

As a result, sexualized representations of men on motorcycles tends to be unofficial and tongue in cheek, such as the MotoCorsa MANigale series by photographer Alicia Elfving.

Can you imagine what the reaction would be if a similar photoshoot was done with regular gals drawn from an average population of riders? I can. Just like the MotoCorsa shoot, I bet some of the women would be incredibly attractive — but some would be overweight or otherwise not conventionally attractive, and I bet such women would be verbally eviscerated for everything from their weight to makeup choices to hair style by viewers inexplicably offended by ordinary-looking women in photoshoots.

Hell, the MotoCorsa shoot had a fair amount of body-shaming comments (as well as plenty of guys commenting on how gross it was and how they didn’t want to see half-naked people they have no attraction to draped over motorcycles … WELCOME TO THE FUCKING CLUB.)

"I am going to unsubscribe from this website because of this egregious replacement of women in tight clothing with men in tight clothing! How dare you!"

“I am going to unsubscribe from this website because of this egregious replacement of women in tight clothing with men in tight clothing! How dare you!”

"I humorously choose only to acknowledge only the existence of the motorcycle I want to ride and the woman I want to bone."

“I humorously choose only to acknowledge only the existence of the motorcycle I want to ride and the woman I want to bone.”

"I think pin-up shoots of women are representative of all women."

“I think pin-up shoots of women are representative of all women.”

“I think the social cache of riding a Ducati has measurably dropped by the association of semi-naked men with the vehicle.”

"I am going to attempt to humorously insinuate that these guys are gay for doing this. The humors relies on the assumption that being gay is somehow funny or offensive. Also, no homo."

“I am going to attempt to humorously insinuate that these guys are gay for doing this. The humor relies on the assumption that being gay is somehow funny or offensive. Also, no homo.”

Now, don’t think I’m complaining about this series just because it’s tongue in cheek — I still love it, both for the jarring social message and because some of those guys are fucking hot — but let’s face it. This was not meant to be an analogous photoshoot of, “They had a hot chick model posing, so we’ll get a ripped hot guy model posing.” This was, “They had a hot chick model posing, and we’ll do a photoshoot with regular guys around the shop in those same poses.” This was intended as tongue-and-cheek humor, and that’s largely how it was read.

humor 2

Because, clearly, when guys pose in suggestive poses it is mock-degrading and therefore self-deprecating.

humor 3

It is humorous for men to wear tight clothing and drape in sexy poses.

humor 1

There’s lots of social commentary that can be drawn from this, actually. There’s tons of stuff to say.

Now, don’t misunderstand me in my call for sexy men on motorcycles — I would much rather have no sexualization/ objectification, of women or men. But if everyone else has collectively agreed that objectification and sexualization is going to be par for the course in the motorcycling community, then I personally would just like to see more hot NSFW guys. Maybe Yamaha or Ducati could hire this guy.

Yum. That’s all I’m saying.

(also, the comments on Break.com, where I first saw this but cannot figure out how to embed from, are really depressing. http://www.break.com/video/naked-motorcyclist-dazzles-town-2556273)

merry xmas!

Today is xmas eve, and tomorrow is xmas — which means today and tomorrow are the only truly appropriate times to say, “Merry Christmas!”

Think about it. Do you say, “Happy 4th of July!” from June 4th to July 4th? No, because it sounds stupid. You might say, “I hope you have a fun 4th of July!” when discussing picnics, travel plans, fireworks, or parades associated with the 4th of July, but you don’t walk around for the entire month beforehand yelling, “Happy 4th of July!”.

No. You don’t.

Why? Because it’s stupid and makes you sound stupid. Same with Thanksgiving and pretty much every other holiday — the wishes of enjoyment, health, and good cheer are usually reserved for the actual holiday, and possibly one or two days right around it.

That’s why we say, “Happy holidays,” throughout the “holiday season” (typically understood in the U.S. as spanning from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve for well wishes, and from Labor Day to New Years Day in terms of commercialism) instead of, “Merry Christmas.” It makes sense, and it’s in keeping with how we offer well-wishes and greetings for every other holiday throughout the year.

So with that little rant out of the way: Merry xmas!

By the way, the “x” denotes the Greek letter chi, which was used as shorthand for “Christ” by Christians, scholars, and scribes for centuries (source). In English, we read it as the letter “x” and usually assume it is crossing Christ out of xmas, but it’s not. It’s actually the original way of writing xmas. This is also why writing, “xtian,” is actually an accurate rendition of the word, “christian,” not an insult.

If you didn’t know that, consider yourself schooled. If you did, then cool. Congratulations on not being a dumbass.

I’ll be honest, though, I just like to write, “xmas,” and, “xtian,” because most of the xtians I know are fairly ignorant in regards to this kind of thing, and they get all huffy and up in arms. It’s hilarious to see them get riled up unnecessarily.

Anyway, I didn’t really know what to ask for at all. It’s funny, when I was a kid I’d write these super long wish lists with headers and bullet points and subsections. Nowadays I’m like, “Eh … gift cards? Anything from B&N? I always love me some Starbucks …”J

The thing I’m really, super excited about is the gifts I got my family. Okay, my kid sister received her gift, but has not opened it yet. My dad reported that he received his gift, as well, but has not opened it yet. My brother has not yet reported receipt or opening, and I hope he doesn’t open it at my sisters house because it’s liquor.

What? I’ve wanted to give the gift of wine or liquor ever since I left the LDS church, but unfortunately, no-one I am on gift-giving terms with drinks. It would have made so many gift purchases over the years easier if I could have just side-stepped the guessing and purchased a nice liquor. I mean, what do you get a long-haul trucker who lives on the road, or an old man who insists he has too much stuff? Yeah, I don’t know either. But for some reason, none of these people drink (although they all drive me to drink … j/k).

Anyway, my brother and I got to talking recently, and it turns out he’s never had a beer with one of his non-LDS siblings. So we met up at a bar and had a nice dinner and some beer. It was cool. I’m not actually a fan of beer, personally — I prefer hard cider — but it was still nice. So for xmas, I sent my brother an Angry Orchard Iceman Hard Cider.

Image Credit: RateBeer.com

My dad got a bunch of chocolates and some Norwegian-specific treats I found at World Market, and I found a cool bowl for my kid sister there, too.

Girl used to love ramen noodles when she was a teenager. (Image credit: WorldMarket)

I sent out a few other small gifts, but those persons may actually read/ have access to my blog, so no spoilers! Same reason I can’t disclose anything I got for my husband, and I am going to EXPLODE. Krampus on a cracker, I’m ridiculously excited about this.

But what I can say (shhhhh!) is that we bought a PS4!!!! It was the last one available in town, and my husband snagged it!!! Kidling is going to be so surprised. We’re going to set it up the night before on top of the receiver — he won’t notice because he’ll be too busy freaking out over the presents. The last gift he’ll open is going to be Battlefield 4 and a Playstation controller. 

I’m hoping for a reaction like this.

DIY: fix the worn-down between-the-thigh area in your jeans

Yesterday my jeans ripped open in the thigh. I know this is supposed to be preventative, but whatevs. I’ll give it a go. I also need to try replacing the zipper in my favorite pair of skinny jeans. Guess I need to look for a tutorial on that, too.

foggy dress

IMG_1619IMG_1626

SO I was reading some comments over at one of my favorite re-fashion blogs, and someone had asked how to fix a very serious problem: that worn down part of your jeans, between the thighs. Because I definitely do not have sticks for legs (I have what I like to call “runner’s thighs”…), that eventually happens to almost all my denim jeans. I especially hate when this happens to my not-so-cheap jeans (like this pair of Frankie-B’s!). Well this just had to stop, so I came up with a solution that will hopefully work for you too!

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latest feel-good b.s.

So this fallacious argument disguised as a “thought-provoking” parable has been making the rounds on FB. It has, nauseatingly, found it’s way into my feed three times in the past week.

bs

It’s funny/ frustrating. The whole thing — from the image to the text — is so blatantly manipulative, fallacious, and ridiculous that it kind of makes me want to tear my hair out. And this is getting re-posted with comments like, “beautiful,” or “inspiring,” or “makes you think.

This. This makes you think? This heavy handed, pseudo-philosophical nonsense?

“In a mother’s womb were two babies.”

Look at that picture again. Those are two post-partum babies in a fucking balloon. You’re circulating a picture of infants in a clear balloon. Wtf is wrong with you?

“One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replies, “why of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later. “Nonsense,” says the other. “There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?”

Oh, that’s subtle. Equating straw-man atheist arguments against the afterlife to the arguments an apparently intelligent and sentient fetus would make against existence post-birth.

It’s always valuable to support an emotionally-laden argument by relying on imaginary characters, since the whole not-existing thing means they can’t falsify the claim.

In addition, has everyone who’s ooohing and ahhing over this drivel collectively decided to ignore the fact that fetuses actually do respond to stimuli from outside the womb during the last months of pregnancy, indicating that they are well aware of the existence of an outside world?

“I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.” The other says “This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short.” 

Haha, get it? See, it totally parallels strawmen atheist arguments, and bam! See how the atheist babies “science” is incomplete? That proves science and atheist baby are wrong!

Plus, that talking atheist baby sure sounds like a douche, right? “Life after delivery is to be excluded,” ha! What a dick.

 “I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.” the other replies, “No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.”

Clearly there is life after delivery, ergo imaginary strawman atheist baby is wrong, and imaginary hero believer baby is right, ergo actual real life atheists are wrong! Wow, this parable is so inspiring and realistic. These two hyper-intelligent existentialist fetuses in a balloon are really making me rethink my life choices.

Well, I don’t know,” says the other, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.” “Mother??” You believe in mother? Where is she now? “She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.” “I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”

Holy emotional manipulation, batman! Why, those babies don’t believe in their mommy! Plus, the assumptions. Ye gods, the assumptions. 

  • Assumption that the fetuses have no feedback from the outside world. For some reason they’re not hearing their mother’s voice (like fetuses in, you know, the real world can). Fetuses also respond to light.
  • Assumption that the mother (“god”) will take care of them. Guess what? Not all mothers are nurturing. Some mothers are abusive, or suffering from illness, or neglectful, or resentful of their children. Some mothers have baggage they can’t handle, and a child exacerbates that reality. So … one could extrapolate from this “argument” that god could, similarly, be an abusive, egotistical, maniacal asshole intent on emotional and physical abuse. Actually, this view of god is pretty well supported by the available religious texts, so, okay then. 
  • Assumption that irrefutable existence of mother correlates to the supposedly irrefutable existence of god. If we take this to it’s rational conclusion, then there is a multitude of gods. There may be one mother to those two fetuses, but when they’re born and become human babies, they will live in a world where multiple other human babies from other mothers also exist. If we’re supposed to be reading this parable as an analogy to our individual relationship with god, then whoever wrote this drivel just proposed an afterlife populated by multiple gods — a polytheistic afterlife.

Also, I would like to take a moment to point out to everyone that when a woman is pregnant, the fetus still needs to void. That baby is pissing and pooping inside his mom. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just the way pregnancy works … but I think that whenever people start romanticizing motherhood and pregnancy as some incredibly spiritual transcendent thing, it’s valuable to remember that to the fetus that mom is an all-in-one toilet buffet.

To which the other replied, “sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her. I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality.

These poor fetuses are fully intelligent, sentient beings capable of existential discussion prior to birth, and they just … lose that level of communication? So according to this little faith lifting parable, we just completely lose any higher intelligence or ability to communicate in an advanced, meaningful manner when we die?

Because these fetuses are speaking to each other on the linguistic level of human adults, but clearly will not do so upon their entry into the world as fully actualized tiny humans, nor have the ability to do so for many years afterward.

Yet, according to the construction and presentation of this parable, the adult humans (“mother”) are gods, and post-delivery life (“afterlife”) are akin to advanced spiritual beings and an advanced spiritual state. So the afterlife believers are positing here is … reincarnation? Where we continually begin at the beginning, collect knowledge, “die” into an advanced world that renders us infantile, and start over in the accrual of knowledge?

That’s actually an afterlife I can get behind. Bring on the eternity of learning!

Question: Is this supposed to be taken seriously by atheists as an argument, or is this another idiotic faith-supporting meme that is not meant to be looked at in any way even approaching basic critical deconstruction? Also, why does this shit keep ending up in my feed when believers get all butthurt about expressions of nonbelief?

I mean, I don’t give a shit if y’all need to circulate these feel good memes about religion and scripture and hyper intelligent fetuses in order to validate your faith — whatever floats your boat — but I don’t get the double standard of expecting everyone to be copacetic with your blatantly public displays of faith, but freaking the ever-loving fuck out when someone makes a blatant display of atheism. I’m so tired of this.

Since I left the mormon church, any time I post something mormon or religion related and my kid sister (or any other mormon temporarily on my feed/ blog/ whatever) happens to see it, the inevitable response is, “Why does it matter? You left. Why do you gotta keep harping on it?”

Hmmm. Hmmm. Why would I need to keep studying and “harping” on something I’ve intellectually rejected, but which shaped my formative years/ upbringing and which continues to shape the politics and social attitudes of the world I live in? Why would that matter?

If I grew up in a foreign country — say, Russia or India or something — and as an adult, moved to a country with a completely different culture that I then embrace, am I supposed to reject all aspects of my country of origin?

If I was a Russian expat rejecting, say, the homophobia of Russia, am I supposed to reject the art and history of it as well? Am I supposed to ignore their impact on international politics? Am I supposed to ignore the ongoing struggle against homophobia within Russia?

If I was an Indian expat rejecting, say, the caste system and sexism endemic in much of India, does the fact that I no longer live in India then prevent me from continuing to engage in the ongoing Indian struggle for gender and class equality? Am I supposed to disavow any cultural link with India? Am I supposed to ignore their political impact?

That’s what believers of all strips, and (for me) mormons are asking me to do. They’re saying, “Hey, you rejected god. You don’t get to have a voice in this discussion anymore. You shouldn’t even want one.”

I’m sitting here going, “Uh, no. I rejected false doctrine. From there, I walked a path that led me to believe there is no rational evidence or proof that god exists. I do not “reject” god any more than I “reject” fairies or unicorns or elves or Santa Claus. I cannot “reject” the imaginary. I do object to (and reject) the systemic presence of religious faith in every aspect of political and social policy, though! And I do reject the influence of religious indoctrination in my personal life and upbringing.”

Mostly I roll my eyes and let it slide when I see this type of blatantly manipulative faith-promoting bullshit on my FB feed, but this one is just irritating the crap out of me. Partly because it keeps fucking showing up in my feed, and partly because it’s so blatantly emotionally manipulative. The people in my feed who are sharing this are people who I know possess intelligent critical thinking skills., I’ve spoken with them.

I guess this is one of those instances when a FB persona illustrates a part of someone that they don’t individually present to you, and you realize with a jolt that they’re not exactly the person you thought they were. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I just … I tend to think I surround myself with thoughtful, intelligent people. Some of them have faith, yeah, but I tell myself it’s not the obnoxious, intrusive, manipulative type of faith.

Then I see them on my feed.

*As a final, minor note — the spelling, grammar, and sentence structure in that FB post is simply atrocious. I know, I know … don’t throw stones at glass houses. I have no doubt that my post is less than perfectly grammatically accurate — but really? Really? Am I as bad as that?

Women’s Sizing: TeeFury Edition

So, on December 6th, I saw something on The Mary Sue that made me fangirl just a little.

Capture

That is a t-shirt, referencing an iconic scene from the Girl in the Fireplace episode of Doctor Who (S2, e4). It is also referencing Harry Potter and floo travel, by replacing Reinette with Hermione. In other words, this simple and amazing t-shirt design references not only two of my all-time favorite fandoms, but two of the most feminist, iconographic characters/ storylines within those fandoms. I don’t even wear t-shirts normally, but I knew I had to have this beautiful, glorious shirt.

I immediately went to the TeeFury site, and learned that TeeFury is some sort of limited-time-only seller, and time was quickly running out on this particular shirt. I had less than 15 minutes to make the purchase.

Truth is, I have a tendency to talk myself out of unnecessary (and, frequently, necessary) purchases. I’m very much a, “fix-it-up, wear-it-out, make do, or do without,” type of gal. I don’t really splurge on myself, ever. I suspect that’s part of the reason I love gifts so much, because I don’t tend to buy myself those sorts of inessential enjoyments.

My husband has been encouraging me pretty strongly to stop being quite as self-sacrificingly frugal as I normally am and to occasionally splurge on myself. This t-shirt is something I’d classify in the “splurge” category, which is probably why when I decided to go through with the purchase, I didn’t let myself stop to think it through. I just guiltily barrelled ahead, justifying my actions by the ticking clock in the upper corner of the screen.

I talked myself into it.

Anyway, I bought the shirt. I ordered an adult women’s XL. Normally I wear a size 12 in pants, and a size L in tops. I know women’s clothing is famously and ridiculously unreliable when it comes to sizing, so I always order up a size when I order clothing online. I figure if it’s too big, it’s easier to alter it than to go through the complaint/ return process.

So I pay the $17 for the shirt ($14 + $3 shipping/handling), and just need to wait. It arrived on December 18th, and I gleefully tore open the packaging — only to stop, stunned, in disappointed disbelief.

tinyteefury1

The shirt is tiny. Tiny. In my rush, did I order a small? I check the tag. 

tinyteefury2

This shirt is ridiculously small. For comparison, here are my other two t-shirts, which were purchased well over a year ago at a second-hand store, and have therefore been washed and shrunken accordingly. The Simpsons one is a European size M, and the Nerds one is an American size XXL.

teefurycompare1 teefurycompare2.1teefurycompare2teefurycompare2.2So those are the other two t-shirts I own.* The Euro M is (as you can see) slightly larger than the American XXL. It’s roomier in the bust, longer in the torso, and all around a more comfortable t-shirt. These are the three t-shirts layered on top of each other: The Euro M on the bottom, the American XXL in the middle, and the TeeFury XL on the top.

teefurycompare3

Noticing how the Euro M is the longest one? Yeah, I noticed that, too. I wondered if maybe I had ordered a “youth” size by accident. I compared it to one of my 11 year old son’s shirts, out of curiosity. It took some doing to find a Youth L, which is the closest I could get to an XL comparison — my son normally wears Youth M, so this Youth L is actually one of his “growing into” shirts, the kind meant to last a school year and a half.

teefuryyouth1 teefuryyouth3

Don’t mind the water spots in the second picture, I had to iron his tag flat for the close-up. You can see, however, that my adult XL shirt is barely an inch longer than my 11-year old son’s youth L. I put my shirt underneath his, because it is equivalent in chest breadth, so if my shirt was on top, you would only be able to see the edges of his sleeves. This way, you get a better idea of the size comparison. 

teefuryyouth2

This is his t-shirt sizing tag. I should note that because this shirt was purchased in September of 2013, it has been through the wash and therefore shrunk.

In fact, as a general note: The TeeFury 100 percent cotton shirt has not yet been washed/ subject to shrinkage, all shirts being compared to it have been.

What with the size similarities, I wondered if maybe I had accidentally ordered a Youth XL. I mean, it is just barely longer than the Youth L, and I was in a hurry. I went to my email to check the receipt.

Capture

Nope. I ordered a womens XL. Apparently adult women are supposed to have the bodies of prepubescent boys. Frustrated, I checked out the size chart at TeeFury — something I probably should have down before eagerly throwing $17 at them, but really, who would think they would size adult women closer to youth sizes than actual adult sizes? Because that is exactly what they did:

teefury size chart

I know that womens sizing is a joke in the U.S. Being a woman who shops for clothing in the U.S., I can’t help but be aware of the havoc so-called “vanity sizing” has played in our clothing industry. It’s ridiculous and frustrating, and even though I’m upset, I’m also giving TeeFury the benefit of the doubt.

It is entirely possible they just never really stopped and looked at their women’s sizing — it seems unlikely, but they do seem to be a small company/ art-focused start-up type deal, and stranger things have happened. I mean, if they’re just getting the art screen-printed onto some default t-shirt supplier they work with online, then maybe they never stopped to actually look at the sizes. I dropped them a real quick note to give them a heads up.

I don’t know if you realize this, but your adult women’s shirts are barely bigger than youth shirts. As in, I purchased an XL adult women’s shirt, and it fits my 69-lb 11 year old son (who normally wears a boys/ youth M or L) better than it fits me (a 180 lb 33 year old adult woman who normally wears a size 12 or adult L). There’s absolutely no room for shrinkage at all. I don’t even have a particularly large chest; I wear a 32B.

I was shocked at how tiny the shirt was; I actually thought I had mistakenly ordered a youth size. It wasn’t until I went and looked at your measuring chart that I realized you guys are selling “womens sizes” that are only an inch or so off youth sizes.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of that, or if no one ever actually stopped to look at the actual measurements, but I’d highly recommend you reconfigure your women’s sizing to make the t-shirts more accessible to a higher proportion of the population.

Aside from the size and the thread coming loose on the left sleeve, the shirt seems to be of good quality, and they have lots of cool designs — I’d love to purchase from them again, if they just start offering sizes for adult women. 

!!!BONUS SIZE COMPARISON!!!

ThinkGeek Adult Mens Size M vs. TeeFury Adult Womens Size XL

teefurymedium1 teefurymedium3

*I generally wear dress shirts, tank tops, camisoles, or nice sweaters.

Youth & Financial Education | Saturday Keynote | WPC-14

**DISCLAIMER**

Notes & Copyright

Keynote: Youth and Financial Education

Speaker: Jacob I. Swindell-Sakoor, April 13, 2013

Opened with an older American Japanese woman whose name I did not catch. She speaks about her hopelessness during WWII. Quoted her mother’s words at the time: “In 20 years, we may have nothing left but the memories of how we conducted ourselves during this difficult time.” Shared how this thought/ view has stayed with her and influenced her actions/ reactions through her life.

Next speaker is Dr. Sidney, who introduces Jacob, a 10th grader at Brooklyn Friends School. Jacob is a Merit scholar, student ambassador, and orchestra member. Very involved both in school and in community in diversity and anti-racial activism. He is the first youth keynote speaker at WPC. Jacob’s topic is:

Youth and Money.

Jacob talks about how as a kid, he thought the ATM was a money dispenser. He shares an amusing personal anecdotes of his youthful misunderstanding about the use and value of credit cards.

He then segues into statistics regarding debt and youth — credit cards, student loans, etc. How debt increases life stress, can damage education completion, how the students carry the debt with them through their lives and it negatively impacts them long after the debt is ignorantly accrued in their late teens/ early twenties. He cites statistics and studies to support his arguments.

Jacob asks the audience (of primarily white-collar, educated adults) why this situation exists. He answers his own question, proposing that it exists because kids do not understand finances and do not know how to use a credit card. He explains that kids today are not taught to understand the value of a credit card, or what the taxes/ fees/ interests can do. He says that when the first credit card offers come rolling in, kids have not been taught how to factor in the hidden costs, and so they don’t.

Jacob proposes that financial education classes for high school students with focus on debt and credit cards should be added to existing curriculums. He says that unless a high school student student is interested in economics, they are not taught this stuff. He points out that it is just assumed kids will know/ figure this financial stuff out on their own when they reach adulthood. Many adults view this information as a “life lessons” type of thing.

Jacob points out that, unlike in generations past, the process of “figuring it out,” through trial and error can cause life-long financial damage.  Many 19 and 20 yr olds, when getting their first credit card, get into a “swipe-it” mentality and don’t stop to factor in the value of what they’re actually spending. He points out that this type of financial mistake can occur regardless of class or of the financial situation of the parents.

He reiterates that both teachers and parents need to educate youth in high school years on finances and economics. Continuing on, he adds that it’s not all teachers’ faults for neglecting this are of education, it’s also the concept of value. He asks the audience: What are youth spending their money on?

Explains: Jacob receives $15 allowance a week and has worked summer jobs. He likes to buy nice clothing, musical equipment, food, fun stuff, etc. Says the problem with his income and spending habits is that he does not differentiate between his wants and needs, because his parents take care of his needs. Because he does not have to worry about the needs, he gets into bad spending habits where he indulges his wants first and foremost.

He says most kids — whether earning income or taking in allowance — have the subconscious expectation their parents will provide a roof of their head, food on the table, and other basic necessities of life, so they can spend what money they do have/ earn they can spend lavishly. He explains that many kids don’t realize how much their parents actually make, or where the income goes. His friends end up spending their money to emulate the celebrities they admire, and end up running up debt.

He points out that most people are not making 6-7 figure salaries, yet are spending as though they are. He shows the statistics illustrating that in the bottom 15.2 percent of poverty lines, they are still spending via credit as though they have plenty of money and wealth.

Continues on, more carefully, to insinuate that financial ignorance is not just a youth problem — that many ADULTS don’t understand finances, debts, loans, credit cards, saving. He insinuates without outright stating that adults are modeling poor spending habits to youth.

[Personal Note: Is it his own youth and because he is addressing a room of adults that makes him skate around this statement?)]

He comes back to the primary point, arguing that students should be taught about savings, about investing in self and in ones own dreams. Something is just not worth it unless you actually have the money to spend on it; credit is a bad idea especially for the financially non-savvy. There is always a better option.

To illustrate his point, he draws on the example of some headphones called “Beats,” which he tells us are actually not great quality headphones, but are [apparently] very popular and [I guess] look cool [or something]. “Beats” headphones cost about $300-$350.

[Personal Note: What the fuck? Who spends upward of $400 on fucking headphones? Are they painted in diamonds and unicorn shit?]

Jacob says quality headphones used by professionals can run $100-$150. So the wiser choice for someone wanting to spend money on headphones is to go with the less “cool” but financially wise choice.

[Personal Note: All due respect to his arguments of financial ignorance and so on, but this should just be a no-brainer, really. Quality should always be among the top concerns in evaluating any purchase. It doesn’t matter, for example, if Item A is $10 cheaper than Item B if Item A falls apart on you and stops working within the week, but Item B was built to last.]

Says as a youth, he gets irritated when adults brush off kid concerns about finances etc by saying, “You’ll have time, you’ll figure it out.”

To a wave of laughter in the audience, Jacob calls such attitudes, “blatant institutional adultism,” but he’s clearly only semi-joking, despite how the statement is received. He further states that adults are doing a disservice to youth by brushing off their financial education and assuming they’ll learn through their mistakes, as they go, from life.

[Personal note: Jacob is a little classist in his statements, which is forgivable given his age and experience. He clearly does not take into account adults who lack the financial connections/ teachings to pass on in the first place. He also does not take into account youth who drop out of high school in order to take low-wage jobs to support their parents/ siblings/ households.

He is correct in that money, debt, and the management of it can make or break a life. He is correct that to let the kids screw up their lives with debt that they may end up carrying for decades later, long after they’ve moved past the mindset and youth that engendered the debt, is a disservice to our children and is morally wrong. We need to teach our kids. I need to teach my son. I need to teach him the value of money, financial management, and economics. I need to teach him to distinguish between wants and needs.]

Announcements: Norma Johnson’s poem available in next WPC journal, also can contact her through http://www.allinspirit.com.

Practical Ways We Can Stop Centering Everything Around White People’s Feelings

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a conference and take a class that educated the hell out of me. I learned that the modern and subtle methods of racism (denial of work and/or education, lower wages, healthcare discrimination, daily microaggressions, lack of representation in media, etc. etc.) are often denied in their severity and impact.

I learned that when the word “racism” is used, white people think of lynchings and the n-word and the KKK, and they get angry because they support none of those and yet are being told that they are participating in and benefiting from an inherently racist system.

And I learned about the laws, the research, the history, and the current, ongoing systems of discrimination which make it very, very clear that racism is still a thing that is happening, all around us. Sometimes blatant and ugly, like the n-word and lynching and beating; but more often subtle and insidious, like refusing to acknowledge systems of disparate impact and blaming people of color for being defensive, or claiming that poc are lazy.

This year, I had the opportunity to take a class with a student body that was about 45 – 50 percent people of color. This is unusual in the area I live. Where I live, 83.7 percent of the population is “white” according to the 2010 census. The remaining 16.3 percent of the population breaks down as 2.0 percent Black persons, 1.1 percent Native persons, 6.0 percent Asian, 0.4 percent Pacific Islander, 1.8 percent “other”, 5.0 percent from two or more races, and 6.3 percent Latino persons.

In other words, I live in a very white-washed area. It is also a very liberal/progressive area. These two realities combine to create not only a space where subtle racism persists through unconscious or internalized bias, but where many attempts to address this sort of subtle racism are met with offended denial — because we are progressive, racially conscious liberals. We would not do things like be racist or engage in cultural appropriation.

During the course of this quarter, I have dealt with an internal struggle. How do I, as a white ally, help make this classroom a safer space? There are so many angry white voices in these classroom discussions. Despite the fact that people of color make up half the classroom demographic, their voices make up only a tenth of the discussion. They are drowned out by white allies arguing with white deniers.

As a white ally in a classroom of voices silencing and speaking over the people of color, is it my place to speak up and against the systems of oppression and racism, or is it my place to be quiet and try to provide a place for voices of color to step forward? How can my silence achieve anything when more white voices step into my silence? How can I make a supportive space for voices of color, and how can I encourage my professors to make such a space?

This post I am reblogging offers me hope. It offers some solutions. Ultimately, it’s up to my professors to navigate this classroom dynamic, but at this point it feels very much as though the hurt feelings of the white people in the room are being considered more than those of people of color.

Opine Season

Fun fact: white people’s feelings are magic. They can bring any conversation, meeting or movement to a halt. In a debate, they can outweigh even the most credible, concrete evidence. They can threaten someone’s job. They can even kill. White people’s feelings are one of this country’s most abundant natural resources and important exports.

Because of all this, any conversation about social justice, power, or history is going to naturally settle into orbit around white people’s feelings. And I get it: if we want to really do something about racism in this country, it’s white people who need to change the most, and it’s white people who often have the longest political/spiritual/emotional journey to undertake.

But when social justice education and/or media focuses solely on understanding racism through a white privilege framework, that can recreate the same oppressive structures we’re trying to destroy. When the conversation has such…

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doctrinal problems in LDS “history”

A Letter to a CES Director » FutureMissionary.

This is amazing. It’s a complete list of the doubts of one disaffected member; the doubts that brought his testimony to its knees. The introduction says,

Recently a CES director asked a lifelong Latter-day Saint, Jeremy Runnells, to share his concerns about the church. In response, Runnells wrote him a letter outlining his concerns and questions from a year of research into the Church’s origins.  After sending it privately, he decided to publish the letter publicly on the internet. He even released it under a Creative Commons license allowing people to distribute it with very few restrictions.