Wednesday, December 20, 2023


I have a cousin who is an avowed atheist.  She swears that she's a good person without needing external rules and guidelines imposed by an "imaginary friend/sky daddy." 

Given the things I've seen her post to FB, I would...not agree with her.  At all.  

I mean...

Yeah, let's look at this.  

I didn't particularly want to teach the kids that Santa brings gifts for kids on Christmas.  It's dumb.  And I'm really kind of sick and tired of the ruse--this is going to be the last year, since I have teenagers.  But it was useful while they were smaller to use the ruse to get them once-a-year expensive toys, and not have them begging us to get them expensive shit year-round.  

That said...there's no fucking way I think this  picture is remotely funny.  What the actual fuck.  

This isn't schadenfreude.  This is deliberately causing pain to a child. Hurting a child for the fun of it.  

I know she'd probably protest that it's "art," and "it's a joke," and "it's AI generated."  

Thing is...I've messed with AI art.  Bing Image Creator is actually a lot of fun to play with, and you can make some really gorgeous pieces with it.  

AI art is made by inputting descriptions.  This art was designed by someone who thought it was funny--was fun--to make a little kid cry on Christmas morning.  

This is the least of what I've seen her post.  

She mocks Christians by cherry-picking things from the Bible--that slavery's okay,* and polygamy,** and that horrific punishments, like "an eye for an eye" were allowed and encouraged.***  

And yet...

...and yet.  

Christians are not the ones posting things that show joy in deliberately causing pain, much less deliberately causing pain to the innocent among us.  Christians are not the ones suggesting that dissenters should be raped and tortured to death (yes, I've seen her post things like that).  

Full disclosure: yes, I laugh my ass off at people hurting themselves.  I think the shocked dismay that people who are suddenly thwapped with the consequences of their own freely-chosen actions and decisions is hilarious.  

I do not think causing pain to children is funny.  Nor do I think it's funny when a child  actively hurts him or herself because the adult in charge of their well-being either dropped the ball, or set them up.  

Nor do I think it's funny for adults to get hurt because someone lied to them, or set them up for the sake of a video prank.****

Love thy neighbor as thyself.  Love your neighbor as you would yourself.  TREAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WOULD TREAT YOURSELF.  

It's not a difficult concept.  It's the base command in Christianity.  Love God, and love your neighbor. 

That is what makes a good person.  And atheists are far too prone to allowing the monkey-side--the fallen side--full control over their actions toward their fellow human beings.  Atheists are far too prone to dehumanizing those that don't march in philosophical lock-step with them.  

Atheists don't just go tribal--they go full monkey-band primal. Because they lack the guidance--the reason--to be better than their own worst impulses.  To do better than their own worst impulses.  

You know, my cousin swears she loves children.  That she'd never hurt them.  

Yeah.  I don't believe her.  And I won't let her be anywhere around my kids unsupervised.  

*Slavery isn't okay.  And the rules around slavery in the OT? Those put limits on how people were allowed to treat their slaves, and turned slavery into indenture.  The Israelites were required by God to offer freedom and adoption to their slaves every few years.  This, in contrast, to how horrific slavery was literally everywhere else, was a MASSIVE social change for the better.  

**Polygamy was everywhere.  Men died early and suddenly, and a woman alone was at enormous risk of victimization and violent death...or death of exposure and starvation.  

***An eye for an eye was a hard, upper limit, not a "this is the least of what you can expect." If someone puts out your eye, you're not allowed to do more and worse to him, much less his entire family, blood-line, city, and/or tribe.  Remember Jacob's sons, and what they did when their sister was taken in marriage without family permission (aka, "raped" which had different legal definitions in OT times). 

****It's not funny when teens self-harm because of the trans trend.  It's not funny when teens hurt their futures because they're told they must go to college, whatever the cost and however much debt they have to take on to get there.  It's not funny when people choose one focus over another because their advisors lied to them about income potential ("you'll keep a higher percentage!" but not "you can't charge as much, so your actual net will be far lower.").  It's not funny to sneak up on people and sucker punch them on video (although it's funny as hell when the jump-scare pranksters get shot).

Tuesday, December 5, 2023


Growing up, and even in adulthood, I always took bread for granted.  It was just...always there.  For sandwiches, or for if I had heartburn, or when I was a little queasy.  Not something I made myself, really (except when I got a bread machine when I was a young adult), but always available.  Either as homemade bread (my mom, my aunts, and my grandma all made it), or as sliced commercial bread.  Bread was just...always there.  

And then, when my youngest was in pre-school and my oldest in kindergarten, they brought home a stomach bug.  Laid them out for a couple of days, and my husband out for about the same.  

It knocked me on my ass for a week.  There were five days where my entire digestive system just...shut down.  No movement, no noises, nothing.  And then, when I finally started recovering (first noted because things started grumbling loudly), I reached for a slice of bread.  

Holy crap did that hurt.  

I thought it might be because it was high fiber bread--you know, a little bit rough on the guts--and tried a tortilla, then saltines.  

Nope.  That virus had left me with a lasting issue with wheat.  I still can't eat it without a lot of pain.  My younger sister's got pre-celiac's,* so I guess my issue is probably permanent.  

Great Value bread costs $1.32 for a 20 oz loaf of plain white bread.  A loaf of Great Value gluten free bread is $6.74 for an 18 oz loaf.  And it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, despite the weight being almost the same: the gf loaf is smaller.  Visibly smaller, with slices less than half the size of the other one.    

I...really don't like spending that much more for something that's...quite frankly not that good, and I'm the only one that needs it anyway.  

So I started looking into making my own.  It started with getting the bread machine.  

Which...well.  It sort of works, but not on the gluten free setting.  See, it still punches down the raised dough.  And gluten free bread dough will not rise again.  So, I tried it on the rapid setting.  And it worked.  But the recipe was...not great.  So I went hunting.  

I found a lot of recipes for gluten free bread, in varying levels of difficulty.  I snagged an easy one to try.  And it worked.  Tasted fairly decent, considering I grew up eating homemade regular bread.  

It's actually just as easy to make in my stand mixer and oven as it is to make in the bread machine. Which is one thing I cannot say for wheat bread.  Gluten free bread does not have to be kneaded, and doesn't need shouldn't be punched down. So, once the dough comes together, you just...put it in the pan, smooth it down, and give it time to rise.  

I did find one trick that I added that is stupidly simple, and makes an enormous, positive difference: beat the liquid ingredients until the eggs get sort of frothy.  It makes for a much better texture than only mixing the liquid ingredients until the eggs are only just mixed in. 

Gluten Free Bread

 3 ¼ cups gluten free flour blend (I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill with great success, as well as whole grain options—if the one you pick doesn’t have a “gum” as part of the ingredients, add about a tbsp of xanthan gum)

1 tbsp instant yeast

1 ½ tsp salt

1 1/3 c warm water

2 large eggs, room temperature (they MUST be room temperature—gluten free flours will NOT absorb cold liquids at all)

2 tbsp + 2 tsp oil

1 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off.  This works best for helping the bread rise. Crack the door so that it has some time to cool a little before you put your bread in to rise. 

  1. Add all liquid ingredients to a mixing bowl (I use a Kitchenaid knockoff, and will probably get a Kitchenaid when I have to replace it), beat until frothy. 
  2. Mix flour and salt together in a separate mixing bowl; add slowly to wet ingredients with mixer on low.  Add yeast to the dough at this point. 
  3. Run the mixer until you have a soft, sticky dough that looks kinda like cake batter, scraping the sides of the bowl often. 
  4. Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl into a glass or non-stick bread pan, oil your fingers, and smooth the top out (optional step—you can opt to not do that, but the bread will end up looking like the moon’s surface). 
  5. Loosely cover the pan—you can use oiled plastic wrap or waxed paper, or you can use a muslin dish towel—and set it in the oven to rise.  You’ll want it to be half again larger when it’s done.  Should take half an hour in your warm oven. If you want to let it rise on the counter, that works, too, but takes twice as long.
  6.  Uncover your bread loaf—it should be peeking up over the top of your pan—and bake at 375 degrees for about 55 minutes.  Since gluten free loaves don’t really brown, you’ll want to check the internal temperature with a thermometer: it should be about 205-210 degrees. 

There are variations you can do with this loaf--one of my favorites is that I leave out a quarter cup of flour blend, and add in a quarter cup of ground flax seed.  It makes it taste better, and adds a bit of texture and fiber. 

*She has the issue with gluten, but not the damage from having eaten it after the issue popped up. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023


 I grew up in a religious tradition that didn't teach about or acknowledge Advent.  The only religious seasons we observed weren't seasons at all, but just...just two holidays: Christmas and Easter.  

I did not remain in the tradition I grew up in--in point of fact, I see it as only very little better than Islam, in a lot of ways, mostly because of how that church treated abuse inside of a marriage, and abuse of children.  My dad was a minister, and led the church we went to...and committed adultery with a lot of his flock that went to him for marriage counseling...bullied and threatened my mother...and beat (not spanked--closed hands, kicks, shakes, and physically throwing at walls) both me and my little sister...and worse.  And the church castigated my mother for leaving, and attempted to pressure my sister and me into silence.  So, yes, I abandoned that church with a quickness, as soon as I could. 

I never abandoned my faith in God, just...had (and still have) very little faith in His churches.  And none at all in my fellow Christians.  

So I mostly quit going to church.  Between bad early experiences, and ongoing issues with panic attacks triggered by some churches (back-brain knowing there was something wrong, even if front-brain didn't really know the place well enough to recognize it, I think...or a gut feeling and whiff of sulphur telling me that something wasn't on the up-and-up), I didn't want to go, nor did I see a reason to.  

Until I decided it was time to have kids, and realized I had some real hang-ups where talking religion and faith are concerned.  And I realized that the best way to get around that was to find a church.  I had help, there.  I'm pretty sure God led me to the Episcopal church back in '07 or so...and, at that point in time, it hadn't gone full woke.  The pastor was all-in Catholic Lite (same religion, half the guilt), and had been raised Catholic before he felt two callings: one, to be a husband and father; and two, toward the pulpit.  

And, yeah, it was different.  Really different.  There was ritual.  There were kneelers in the pews, and there were points in the service where we were called on to kneel for prayer.  And then stand for hymns.  The order of the service didn't vary, and included a recitation of the Apostle's Creed, Communion with every service, a psalm sung, a responsive reading, the Lord's Prayer, scripture reading, and the sermon based on the scripture reading.  And then...then I was introduced to liturgical seasons.

That was...that was really different.  Advent, then Christmas season, then  It felt huge, big enough that I couldn't wrap my head around it.  (By contrast, the burning of the greens and the BYOB party with it was...something that was culture shock, but not so much that I couldn't react to it).  

I didn't understand Advent.  I mean...really.  It's just part of Christmas, right?  

Actually, no.  But it took me a while to really get that.  

It took becoming a mother.

It isn't celebrating the birth of Christ; it's celebrating the last month of pregnancy.  It's that breathless pause (because there's no room to breathe), the quiet (or not so quiet) anticipation of the birth of the babyIt's the last bit of grueling discomfort and hard work of getting the baby ready for the world, right before the blood and pain of pushing the baby into the world.  

It's a time to think of His mother, in her last few weeks as she traveled with Joseph her husband to his family's ancestral lands, from Nazareth where he lived and worked to Bethlehem, where his ancestors were from.  On donkey-back.  

I didn't have that last month for either of my kids.  They were both early--unexpected in their timing.  But I have deep sympathy for Mary, and Advent means something to me now that it didn't when I started attending the Episcopal church, and started learning about the liturgical seasons.  Because that last month I was pregnant with each of my kids?  I was bent backwards because I couldn't sit up straight--not and breathe.  Not and eat.  There was more baby in my torso than there was anything else.  How in the world did Mary carry Christ that last month, while traveling as she had to?  How did she put her sandals on?  How did she deal with it?  

And I wonder, did she think about the baby she was carrying like I thought of my two?  Did she want to hold Him, stare at Him, count His fingers and toes, pet His hair?  Did she worry about being the mother He deserved, like I did with my children?  Did she wish the idiots in charge had just let her stay home and prepare for His birth in peace?  Was she just ready to be done with the pregnancy, like I was (even early like my two were) because of the discomfort?     

 So many people think about Christ, and anticipate His coming, His birth during this time of year.  I get that; however, after I had my own babies, I found myself wondering about Mary's last month of pregnancy, and feeling that anticipation with her. 

In a lot of ways, I hate Christmas.  I hate the mess, I hate the stress, the fighting, the break in routines that mean behavioral difficulties follow.  

But Advent?  Advent has brought an introspection into it that I didn't realize I needed.  And, in some ways, it's brought back some of the joy in Him, if not in the celebration of Christmas. 

Thursday, October 19, 2023


A lot of people today aren't happy.  And it's their own damn stupid fault--they throw it away with both hands.  Reject their happiness with all their strength.  

And the reason why is really fucking stupid:

It's because they've allowed profoundly dissatisfied and unhappy people to define happiness.  Especially women.  Women are really, really bad about letting other people define them, and define what they should want, what should make them happy.  

And it usually backfires.  

Beyond that, a lot of people have allowed others to define happiness as ecstatic joy at every moment of every hour of every day.  

It isn't.  The human body and human brain does not maintain that type of emotional intensity, not if it's healthy.  Emotional intensity like that will burn you out, and burn you out fast.  They found that out with the drug ecstasy--it was initially developed for an entirely different purpose, but then used briefly in marriage counseling before it made its way to the party scene.  And then they found that long-term use wrings the parts of the brain that produce feel-good hormones dry.  

Happiness--real, sustainable happiness--is better described as contentment and satisfaction.  And that...that's actually sneaky.  You don't notice contentment while you're actually, y'know, content.  

You don't notice it until you've lost it. 

I'm absolutely sure that this is the case because most people aren't looking for contentment when they're pursuing happiness.  They're looking for the wild, ecstatic joy that they've been told is happiness.  

(They really need to listen to Dennis Leary about that.)

So, how do you find contentment? That...that's a lot harder.  

It varies.  What makes me content won't make you content.  The most I can offer you is advice: 

Find what you're good at.  What makes meaning in your life.  I promise it won't be something necessarily fun.  It won't be travel, it won't be "gathering experiences." It won't be something where you're focused on yourself.  

It will be something else.  Something you do for someone else--maybe something you build.  Something you volunteer for in your spare time.  

I'm a housewife.  I build and maintain home for my other half and my kids.  That, right there, is not something I necessarily enjoy.  Who does? Housework is tedious beyond belief.  But having it done? Looking around and knowing that I've done something for my husband and kids?  Something to make their lives more comfortable?  That brings me a lot of satisfaction, and a lot of contentment.  

It gives shape and meaning to my days.  More than anything else.  More than anything else ever has. More than reading, more than writing, more than teaching.  

Yes, I'm looking forward to empty nesting.  Because that means I've been successful in my work.  

Funny thing is, I've been told all my life that I was meant for more than this.  That, in staying home and managing the house, the budget, and the kids, I'm wasting my potential.  

If that were truly the case...don't you think I'd be frustrated?  Angry?  Anxious?  

I'm not.  Not about being a housewife.  No, I was a lot more frustrated and anxious when I had responsibilities outside taking care of my family--because my energy is limited, and I couldn't fulfill all of my responsibilities.  Not having a job outside my home means I don't have to neglect my family anymore.

Honestly, I've noted a lot of moms who work outside the home have to drop something.  Normally, it's their family responsibilities.  And most of them feel guilty about it--and also feel guilty about feeling so torn.

(If there's anything to be grateful for the covidiocy for, it's giving women permission to drop out of the workforce.  It's really hard to justify working outside the home when your family's better off by almost every available metric if you don't.  And a lot of women discovered their "second income" was more than devoured by child care costs, dinner-out and fast-food costs, and other incidentals their families wouldn't incur if they were working in the home for their families instead of working for someone else outside the home, often doing the same things.)

I don't know how to help others be happy.  I can't share the secret of being happy.  Every time I do?  I get "What? That's it? No, there must be more to it than that." 

And there really isn't, but a lot of people have bought into the redefinition of happiness so hard that they can't admit that yes, that is all there is to it.  

Anyone telling the general public that you must be joyfully ecstatic all the time to be happy is trying to sell you something, or trying to push something actively harmful, one of the two. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Unkind and unfair

I was thinking about the resurgence of the '70's policies and their inevitable consequences, and I realized something. 

We, as a nation, have become profoundly unkind and unfair.  

History repeats; or if it doesn't straight up repeat, it rhymes.  Or at least, that used to be the case, when it was actually taught as a series of choice/consequence pairs. Now, it just repeats.  Over and over.  About every twenty or thirty years.  

We used to learn from history, until people who were kind and gentle and didn't want to traumatize the kids changed the way it was taught (at the behest of people who thought that they'd find it easier to seize power if it wasn't taught...and they were right).  We no longer learn from the mistakes others have made; instead, we make our own.  

When I was in school, I read history.  I read a lot of history.  Mostly because of the self-esteem movement blocking me from reading-level-appropriate fiction because "we don't want to make your classmate that can't read feel bad."  I read a lot dissecting how this act led to that reprisal.  

And then, I saw similar playing out on the playground: one of my classmates would be an asshole, and another classmate would bop them, or kick them, and their behavior straightened up.  Action/choice led to obvious (and fair) consequences.  

And so, children used to learn not to be dicks to each other.  

I also saw when the "anti-bullying" turned from "Hey, y'all, stop being a dick to the weird kid" to "Oh, you poor, disenfranchised baby, you can be mean to anyone, and we'll punish them for applying consequences." 

That was profoundly unkind, and unfair: kids are dicks.  And they've got to learn that there are consequences.  By preventing the consequences of their actions from being applied, the "kind" grownups removed an opportunity and an incentive to learn socially appropriate behavior.  

It's spreading, even now: we've seen it with people living way above their means; we've seen it with businesses going under because they've made long-term stupid their missions statement.  And it's because kids aren't taught consequences of their choices at young enough ages, because kids are protected from the fallout of their own stupid choices.  

It's a profound disservice, and we're really starting to see the economic fallout: in slapping layers of regulations on businesses, the government are jacking up the costs of doing business.  The businesses start jacking up prices, and people stop buying from them.  The government slaps more regulations on the businesses, limiting how much they're allowed to charge, so the business cuts prices...but also cuts quality.  Which drives more people away from them...and then the business starts failing. 

We've seen what happens when they're allowed to fail.  Yes, it's horrible for the people employed by the business; however it's worse when the business is bailed out by the government.  Especially when part of the bail out is new regulations that prevent new businesses from rising up and doing what the failing one was doing, but better and cheaper and higher quality, because there are better choices--smarter choices--being made.  

Case in point: car makers with plants in the United States.  The ones owned by American companies are infested with unions and slammed with regulations; the ones owned by foreign car manufacturers have some of the same regulations, but they're not infested with parasites on top of it.  American car makers are failing; they're failing, and their flailing for government bailouts.  

Unfortunately, those come with more shackles strings attached.  

I say let them fail.  Let the unions murder the jobs that they claim they're trying to protect.  Let the government murder the industries.  Let them fail.  

Maybe, just maybe, we can figure out where the fail point was, and fix the problem.  

But it takes failure, it takes natural consequences to punish bad choices before we can even begin to recover.  

The fail point is government.  The fail point is regulations, regulatory costs, and the push by the stupid and uneducated toward the impossible. 

It's not fair to the rest of us.  It's not kind to us, or to our children.  

We're not allowed to hit the bully back.  We're not allowed to side-step the increasing regulations laid on vital infrastructure.  

Sarah Hoyt says "Build over, build under, build around." And we're going to have to.  Because the Gods of the Copybook Headings will not be gainsaid.  

Not teaching that has been the harshest, most unfair, most unkind thing that weaponized "nice" has done.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Of interest:

Yesterday, I grocery shopped in person.  I forgot to set up a pick up earlier in the week, and my phone was dead anyway, so...yeah.  

Anyhow, I have been needing new bathroom rugs for post-shower/post bath for a while.  Walmart's options were...not good.  All I wanted was basic, rubber-backed pile.  In darkish brown or gray because those can go longer without needing washed because they look grody--or at least, look worse than they are. 

There were options at Walmart, but I didn't want memory foam--takes forever to dry--and all of the rubber-backed sorta carpet? Light colors or bright colors.  All matchy-matchy with towels and wash cloths and all sorts of stuff.  

And not a single option was less than about $9.  None.  

There were designers, designs, and color palettes that Walmart used to not carry, not bother with.  Those were JC Penney or Target (both of which are having actual problems with falling market share, because in a lot of people's minds, Walmart meant cheaper...even if it's not anymore).  What there wasn't was basic level bath mats in the color families I wanted.  Almost everything but that, but not...that.

I'm not settling for something that isn't what I want, and paying that much to do so.  Not for something that basic.  If they'd had the general color families I wanted, in the material I wanted (rubber backed rugs were more like $16--the $9 option were the memory foam pads), I would have been less unwilling to pay that much for something that wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  

Fifteen years or so ago, I joked about JC Penney having gone to the dogs: Penney's prices, but with Walmart quality levels.  Walmart has now officially joined Penney's in having Penny's prices with Walmart quality. 

Dollar General has taken over the niche Walmart used to fill. Their prices are about what Walmart's used to be, on the types of things they used to carry.  You know: dry goods, some semi-durable goods, paper goods, and cleaning supplies.  Things like that. 

Dollar Tree has taken over what Dollar General has dropped: cheap shit that is about the most basic of the basic. THAT is where we found the bath mats I was willing to settle for, and I almost didn't have to settle: I got a slate-gray one, and a dusty purple one. 

As we were waiting to check out and leave, there was a young couple in front of us with a cart full of kitchen supplies: some pots and pans, basic mixing bowls, and some tableware.  Plastic drinking glasses. Paper towels, oven mitts. The most basic of the basic of setting up a kitchen.  Total price was $42. 

My bathmats were $5 each.  Yeah, the pile was sparser than I'd like, and the colors weren't exactly what I wanted. However.  I will settle for almost right for $5 each.  Not for double that, much less triple.

I may go back there when I need to get new kitchen towels.  Or dish rags.  The basics of the basic.  Because you don't need to pay Penney's prices at Walmart on basics when your budget is tight, and there are alternatives. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

ADHD Hack: checklists


I forget things.  Badly.  All the things. All the time.  It's worse when I'm trying to clean the house because the tasks are so tedious that it's actively painful, if I don't let my mind wander.  And sometimes, I get distracted mid-task by another task that needs to be done before I can finish what I had been doing.  And then, I forget what I was doing, distracted by another idea, and wander off to write.

(I get some great ideas while I'm doing housework, and carry a little notebook to pause and write them down...and that's one of the ways and reasons I get lost.) 

So, how do I combat the whole "wait, what the fuck was I doing?" 

Checklists.  I have checklists.  So many checklists.  I have every day checklists (it's on the fridge, because it's mainly the "before I can even get started on my coffee" tasks).  I have day of the week checklists.  There's a whiteboard calendar on my fridge where I keep the weekly tasks noted, and the approaching appointments written. 

My checklists are exactly that: a list of tasks typed up with a space to check them off, printed, and slid into a page protector.  I use a dry erase marker to check off finished tasks. 

What's on my checklists?  I'm glad you asked!  Because the things on my lists?  Are the things that I'm trying to build into a routine.  Into habit.  Into something I do automatically enough that I don't have to think about it. 

"Things like what?" you may ask.  

Everything.  I have everything on a checklist.  From "make sure the kids have their breakfasts" to "make sure the kids have their lunches" to "make sure your other half has his lunch" to "make the kids follow their checklists.*"  And all of that goes before coffee. 

Some of it has made its way into habit (specifically, the making breakfast for the imp, who still won't make his own).  But there's a lot that hasn't.  Not even in doing the same thing every morning for decades.  

My morning checklist ends with "get the kids to school." 

Day of the week checklists involve straightening up a single room: the bathrooms; the entry hall,  hallways, and the walk way into the kitchen; the kitchen, pantry, and utility rooms; the living room; the dining room and craft areas; the TV area; the bedrooms.  Then, there's a week-of-the-month deep cleaning for each of those areas (thank you FlyLady!).  

One thing I've managed to turn into a habit? Checking my checklist.  It actually was one of the hardest things to turn into a habit (it feels overwhelming, sometimes).  But it has kept me going, without forgetting too much.  

Wait, where was I going again?  Oh yeah, building routines.  

How do checklists build routines? Easy: they help you not to get lost in your attempts to create habits of your day-to-day, every day chores.  Eventually (maybe?), you won't even have to look at your checklist while you're moving through the chores--just remember to skim through it before you move on to make sure there's nothing you missed before you celebrate.  Or you'll end up with the cat so disgusted by the litterbox (that you've forgotten for weeks) that she's peeing on anything fabric left on the floor...and sometimes, fabric that she's pulled onto the floor to cover up a puddle.  

Seriously.  Make yourself a checklist (or more than one).  And use it. 

*The kids' checklists start with get dressed. Goes through assemble and eat breakfast.  Take your morning meds--focus pills for one, allergy pills and vitamins for the other.  Feed your pets. Wash hair, brush teeth, wash face, PUT ON DEODORANT!!!  Get your stuff ready to get out the door. Are you wearing shoes?

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

MUCH better

The school the kids go to fixed the absolute cluster-fuck they'd turned the drop-off into.  It's not perfect, but it's a lot better, and now moving quicker.  All the kids are still being dropped off at the same door, but they fixed the worst of the traffic flow issues (with pressure by and input from the local PD and FD).  Instead of having traffic moving both ways (in and out) in the same driveway, they've got everyone coming in the side street at the back driveway, and going around the building in the other direction from what initial drop off was.  There are two lanes for leaving the school's campus, depending on which way you'll be turning onto the MAJOR EAST-WEST ARTERY INTO TOWN the school sits on. 

There's currently only one drop-off lane, but I can see how they can reconfigure that to streamline things further.*  And I think I could re-configure things without FUBARing dropping the imp off next to his first class.**

They reconfigured the drop off over the weekend.  It still takes forever, compared to last year, but at least it's not a total cluster-fuck anymore.  And as people get used to it, if it streamlines further, it might start taking no longer to drop the kids off than it did last year.  Monday's drop off took double the time that it did from last year (but was so much better and less confusing--and less dangerous to both drivers and pedestrians), but Tuesday's was better, and today's was faster.  

Better yet, I seem to be done with school shopping (until one of the kids hits a growth spurt and suddenly need new shoes/new jeans).  I haven't had to go to Walmart this week at all, yet.  And I don't plan to until grocery pickup. 

 Because I need to stop hemorrhaging money.  August has really sucked for that, and for me replacing that. 

And, speaking of, I need to go do some writing, so I have new things to sell next year. 

*Once drivers get to the end of the school building and turn back south, they could be funneled into a two lane drop-off, which would funnel naturally into the lanes for turning right or left onto the street. 

**There is a separate trailer--a modular classroom--that had to be added for the increased student body.  It's a solid thirty or forty feet from the closest exterior door...and is a point of vulnerability that makes an absolute mockery of their "must use only one door for entry for safety!!!" policy.  Imp's first class is in that building, so I pause to let him out so he doesn't have to fight the crowds to get to his locker then out to class on time.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Dark brown sugar

I ran out of dark brown sugar, recently, and grocery day was still several days away.  So, I improvised--and improved. 

See, I've always gotten dark brown sugar, and I've noticed it getting...lighter. Much lighter.  Honestly, that last bag of dark brown sugar was about as pale as the light brown sugar used to be (and the light brown sugar's...well, damn near plain sugar).  I've always known brown sugar's nothing more than white sugar with molasses mixed in, so...I went hunting proportions.  So that I had a starting point.

For every cup of white sugar, you add a tablespoon of molasses for light brown sugar; for dark brown, you add two tablespoons.  

I made dark brown sugar.  And I discovered, in so doing, that I've never actually had dark brown sugar. 

I will never buy brown sugar again.  The dark brown sugar I made has far more--and better--flavor than anything I have ever picked up in the store. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Hey, sorry.

It's been a while since I was able to sit down and blog, last.  I've been chasing my own tail, trying to do ALL THE THINGS, all at once.  I'm pretty sure I dropped a couple of balls, but I'm trying to pick them up.  

The kids are back at school, as of day before yesterday.  Last Monday was their back to school night, when we take them in, have them collect their schedules, and load their lockers.* And go around and meet teachers and pick up syllabi. which point, we find out that some of the things they need for some classes weren't noted on the school supply lists (which haven't been updated since they started there ten years ago).  So I went to Walmart, and picked up the supplies.  Except for the composition books.  Walmart was out of their store brand of those.  I'd assembled a collection of all the colors they were offering this year...and now, I don't have two of the colors.  Because Walmart was out.  

Wednesday was an utter cluster-fuck.  Because they had a "potential intruder" scare last year, they've utterly fucked over the drop off.  They've got ALL THE KIDS coming in the same door--the main one by the high school office.  Instead of elementary being dropped off on the other side of the building.  They've set up traffic lanes.  Right lane for elementary, left for secondary.  Right lane pulls around the building to turn out of the worst exit onto Newman.  Left lane pulls around the ends of the parking lots to turn out of the second worst exit...if the driver's smart enough to pull through the lower parking lot, instead of just going around the outside of the main one, and through the incoming traffic and pedestrians.  This absolute brilliance caused traffic to back up in front of the school on all four sides of the traffic light a quarter mile away from the school's driveways.  

And then Wednesday, the kids get home,** and the pixie tells me she needs more.  Thankfully, Walmart still had a few spiral-bound notebooks still in stock.  Not many, but some.  And I found that what I'd wanted to get for Mom for her birthday (yesterday, in fact--she turned 78), was on the sales racks.  

And then, Wednesday evening.  Wednesday evening decided that I was going to have to go back to Walmart on Thursday.  Because my Other Half's wireless mouse shat the bed.  No worries, I thought, I'll grab that and...completely forgot to grab a gift bag for my mom's birthday present.  

By that point, I was getting supremely frustrated.  In four days, I'd been to Walmart four times.  I just grabbed groceries for the week, and said to hell with making a curbside pickup order, since I didn't want to go back.  

And then I got home, unloaded the groceries and got Mom's gift bagged up.  

And realized that I'd utterly forgotten to grab a couple of two-liter bottles of soda for the kids to use to get into their school-sponsored back-to-school bash...which is tonight.  

I had my beloved other half pick them up.  I am not kidding about "don't wanna go back to Walmart again this week."  

He did.  And without having to go out again, I've actually accomplished a few things today.  Which makes me feel a little less like I've been spinning my wheels and making no progress on anything.

And maybe, just maybe, I can finish that freakin' stuck turd of a story that's blocking everything else before I go get the kids in two and a half hours.  

*I'm certain the imp's is already a mess, and the pixie's is...heading that way, but never as badly as his.

**Pick-up was, thankfully, not the absolute cluster-fuck that drop-off was...and drop-off has not been the absolute shit-show that it was on Wednesday.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

It's alive!!!

 I'm refusing to fight this post into being on Firefox--took way too much of my time and energy last time.  This time I'm just...using Edge.  Which actually works.  Go figure.  

Anyway...part 3 of The Schrodinger Paradox went live as of this morning.  

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Bloody buggering hell!

 Okay. I have been TRYING to get this stupid thing done and posted for days, now. I don't know if there's something going on with Blogger (likely not, since Wordpress is being a similar pain in my ass), or my browser (more likely, considering this seems to be working at the moment...).  

Anyway. The Schrodinger Paradox: Heisenberg's Point of Observation is live, and has been since the first.  

Monday, May 8, 2023


Did you know that some schools are offering classes in how to adult for their students? It involves things their parents ought to have been teaching them all along, but haven't.  

Part of the problem there is that the parents may not have been taught by their parents.  There are a lot of different possible reasons for that. It could fuel a whole series of blog posts, finding fault. It won't fix the problem, though. 

Point of fact: adulting is hard.  It's hard if you have a good idea of what you need to be doing going in. It's even harder if you don't, and fuels all sorts of psychological issues (imposter syndrome, anyone?).  

It's almost impossible if there's executive function disorder involved.  Mostly because people with executive function disorders do not just "pick things up." They've got to have explicit instruction.

Who has executive function disorders, and what are they? 

Executive function disorders are the cornerstone of ADHD. It's a difference in the brain that makes it damn near impossible to figure out what's important, what priority the item should have, or how to even begin a fucking task

I have not been diagnosed with ADHD.  I'm almost certain I have it. Too much has added up to "probably" as I've researched what's going on in my son's brain, and how to help him learn to adult.  And I have learned a lot about how my brain works...and how to trick it into adulting when it's screaming and flailing "no...don't wanna" in the corner.  

Routines.  Routines are vital. Turning things into auto-pilot makes adulting a lot easier, especially for those of us with executive function issues.  

Routines are hacks. Except instead of "this one weird hack" being a get-rich-quick thing, it's a make-adulting-possible thing.  It's a set of leg braces so that you can walk.  

FlyLady says that there are two types of people in the world: those that are born organized* and those that aren't.  

Developing routines is a way of imposing organization on disorganized brains so that you can actually function at life.  

For a lot of us, adulting is impossible without that hack, without those braces.  

I'll do a series of posts discussing how to create the routines around things.  How to create your prosthesis system so that you can be a semi-functioning adult.  

This post?  This is just an answer to "but why do I gotta?  It's so boring it's painful."  

I know that. Setting the auto-pilot lets your brain do the interesting stuff while your body's doing the boring stuff.  

Let me show you how I hacked my  own brain.  Let me help.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Friday, April 28, 2023

Stand by...

We have had two weeks of unseasonably cool weather for this part of the country, and this time of year. I know a lot of people complain about the hot, but I really am looking forward to it. 

I know: it's on the way. My irises bloomed for the first time this year (yeah, only one stalk of blooms, but still). My roses are COVERED with buds, and will likely all burst into bloom within the next week.  My wild roses are about the same, and so are my blackberries.  My baby pecan trees are starting to put out leaf buds.  Things are indicating that better weather's on the way...

But we're still having early-mid March weather at the end of April.  And I'm freezing, today.  

I'm really looking forward to the hot.  

In other news, I put the first part of The Schrodinger Paradox up on Amazon.  I put it up on Monday.  Since then, it's been "in review." Which "could take up to 72 hours." 

It's...still "in review." I contacted Amazon, and they said they're "running behind" on the process, and that if it's still marked "in review" on the first (when I set it to go live), to contact them again.  

I have to wonder if they're stupid, or if they think I am. There are no live people in the process--it's an automated computer thing that has clearly glitched.  They need to fix it.  

So, I'm also waiting on that.  And, given the utter shit handed me as an excuse, my book may not make my projected publication. Stand by. 

In the's the cover art, and the back cover text.

The end is coming.

Unlucky jerk Tom Beadle was on watch at NASA when the collision alert sounded: a new asteroid, bigger than the dino-killer, headed for Earth. Big problem, but that's why we have NASA, right? Except, after decades of budget cuts, NASA has no way to shove it off course. That job has to be contracted out. Will the private sector company his best friend from college works at succeed where the government option failed? Might be best to have a backup plan, just in case…

Monday, April 10, 2023

Oh, you idiots.

So. The receptionists at the doctor's office in the local hospital systems I use? Yeah...

They're probably going to get shit-canned, sometime soon.  No more paycheck, no more awesome health insurance for working in the hospital system, no more retirement program.  Nothing.  

And they deserve every bit of it.  

As does every individual who's a "living wage minimum wage" proponent.  

Why am I saying this?  Glad y'all asked! 

The bunch screeching that the minimum wage doesn't allow enough to live on are...either union shills* or require a tiny voice beneath their ear, reminding them to breathe in, breathe out. And close your mouth, you drooling nitwit.  

Minimum wage is not, and never was, intended for people to live on.  Minimum wage was intended, from the get-go, as a racist method of preventing minorities from under-cutting what the white workers were charging for the same amount of work.  And when that passed, the white workers started demanding more, for doing the same work, and...the minorities accepted the minimum to HAVE a job.  So, in reality, the initial intent DIDN'T EVEN WORK.  

As it functions now, minimum wage jobs are...trainer-jobs.  They're the ones that are part time, dumb work geared toward the lowest skill level.  

The jobs paying minimum wage? Most of those are, and have always been, taken by teenagers.  Teens who still live at home, where they don't HAVE to worry about their living expenses.  And they get a raise if they stick with the job for 90 days. 

These workers don't need health insurance--they're still on their parents' plans**--and they're not even starting to consider retirement.  I suppose they could be offered a college savings account.  That would actually be a semi-useful benefit for part-time minimum wage jobs; however, that's the only thing  I can think of that minimum wage starting pay jobs should consider offering.  

Adults that take the minimum wage, no-skill jobs? The vast majority of them deserve that.  Or less.  They're...useless.  And they're often a drain on the employers' bottom line.  Should probably qualify as a tax break, considering the value they DON'T add, if they're minimum wage and STAY there.  

Case in point: I have had friends start minimum wage, fast food jobs as adults.  Because their physical health precluded them from taking some of the heavier factory work type jobs that (frankly) pay better.  They got a raise in two weeks. Within six weeks, they were promoted to team lead.  The store was making noises about promoting them to SHIFT manager, then STORE manager within six months.  Every promotion came fast, and with a fairly hefty pay bump. They kept getting those because they showed up, on time, ready to work, for every shift they were scheduled.  Or called if there was something that was going to prevent that. Like when they got food poisoning

That is a very low bar to clear.  Show up. Sober. On time. Do the job.  

Why does it seem so impossible for so many?  

I've noted a lot of places like that longer hiring.  Instead of paying financial drains on the company by hiring no-skilled workers that won't, they're putting in kiosks.  They're putting in robots that do the kitchen work.  The only workers they're actually hiring are IT people to maintain and troubleshoot the automation.  Maybe one or two people per shift.  

So.  As we are seeing with this, the real minimum wage wage at all.  

Back to the doctor's office.

What does the receptionist do? She answers the phone. She sets appointments. She inputs patient information, if it's not already in the patient file., she doesn't. She doesn't answer the phone: there's an idiot push-button phone tree that reads off a two minute automated shpiel that urges patients to be absolutely sure they want their primary care doctor, rather than the urgent care (number provided) or the emergency department (no, I will NOT abbreviate that, TYVM.  I already have issues with the giggles calling it the "emergency department").  And when you FINALLY wait through all that crap, you get "press one to make or reschedule an appointment" or "press two to talk to the nurse" and instructions to have the PHARMACY  contact them if you need refills, rather than doing it yourself.  Then you'd make your appointment, go check in...

...but now, you're not checking in. You've already done that with the electronic stuff that was the receptionist's job.  

I'm not sure if the receptionists whined about the tedium or what's going on, but they're not answering phones anymore.  They're not helping you figure out who you need to talk to.  They're not doing your check-in work.  They're...setting your appointments.  And...

...doesn't that sound like what fast food is doing? Adding automation and dumping the useless money drains?  

Really, the receptionists should have been balking this automation at every turn, rather than cheering the lightening of their work load.  Because like fast food, the office managers are going to look at what they're doing, and ask "Why are we paying you and paying for your health insurance, again?"

Effectively, minimum wage is none at all.  And apparently, that "minimum" is climbing the ranks of jobs that get it. 

*Union pay scale is tied to minimum wage: it's set a certain dollar amount higher automatically by position. 

**Kids are on their parents' insurance well into early adulthood, why offer insurance to minimum wage workers? Who are teenagers?

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Adventures in breadmaking

My most beloved other half recently got me a bread machine.* I used to have one, but gave it away to an aunt because I barely used it, and because I developed an allergy to wheat.  

Gluten free bread is...expensive. And most of it really isn't good enough to justify the price charged for a Walmart brand loaf of standard white sandwich bread...on sale.  Gluten free flour is expensive, but not that much more than regular flour, really.  Not enough to justify the difference in bread cost.  

I went looking for bread machines for making gluten free bread.  Because I really don't have the energy budget to just do it by hand, not really.  

I found them.  Several, at several different price points.  I put the one I thought would do in my Amazon wish list.  

It's...a bread maker.  Fairly easy to use.  Has recipes in the back for a few different basic types of bread.  Including gluten free bread.  So, I gathered up my courage and got a new jar of breadmaker yeast, and gave it a try.  

It was easy enough: measure the ingredients, and put the liquid ones in the bottom.  Mix the dry (except the yeast, and dump them on top of the liquid. Then add the yeast on top. Set the cycle, and set it going. 

It smelled...almost right.  The recipe lacked eggs, and wheat flour smells different from other types of flour. The baking cycle finished while I was getting the kids. I fished the bucket out and dumped the loaf out onto the cooling rack. 

It smelled okay, but it didn't look quite right. Granted, gluten free bread lacks what browns on normal bread, so I was expecting the very pale look of the loaf, but it was...squat. I sliced into it, and found out why. It...failed to rise.  I made the 1.5 lb loaf, and it didn't rise.  My yeast was new.  I followed instructions.  I went looking for answers about what happened online.  

As it turns out, what happened was the breadmaker.  It was programmed to do two knead cycles.  Which is one knead cycle more than gluten free bread needs.  

Normal bread, for example, has gluten in it, which provides a protein structure for the yeast to inflate.  You have to punch it down part of the way through the knead cycle, or you end up with everything overflowing.  

Gluten free flour...yeah, it'll rise, but not as well as wheat flour, and it WON'T rise again if it's knocked down.  It's wimpy like that.

Still, in spite of making a loaf with the consistency of a small rock, the bread machine's recipe was fairly good on flavor. I will be trying the recipe again, but on the quick bread setting, rather than the gluten free setting.  We'll see how that turns out.   

*Bread machine is Amazon's house brand, and was a birthday gift.