Monday, February 22, 2010

After a sabatical, happy ICLW!

I've been missing from this little get-together (and missing it as well!) for the past few months, I have to apologize, but it's been just a little crazy busy.  I have to add another apology, because right at this moment I don't have time to pound out the posts that have been coalescing in my brain.  So this intro is going to be a bit brief, but I promise that I'll get to them soon.  Until then, please feel free to poke around and look and some of my older posts, or wait and come back in a couple days when I have a proper post, more in line with my style and personality.

For those of you that don't know me, I have been a surrogate and egg donor (thus my original interest in some of your blogs- mostly via the amazing Jaymee and the fantastic Sabrina).  More important to my day-to-day functioning and self definition, I'm a doctoral candidate in Ecology currently crushing my prospectus on invasive plants and their effects on native frogs into being; I'm the mother of a four year old boy that really has no equal- no bias there, just the fact of the matter :-); I'm the wife to a biologist converted to history that is currently working on finishing his master's thesis on gender, revolution, Che Guevara and Robert Williams.  I also own and run a small cloth diaper business, Baby by Nature at and am active in my community, Kent, Ohio and loving what I do.  It's a rough life, but someone has to be me.  Ciao!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's day is an odd holiday, if you think about it.  It's origin is the Catholic celebration of Saint Valentine on February 14- supposedly the day St. Valentine was beaten nearly to death and then beheaded.  Somehow, I have yet to see anything to this effect on a Hallmark card.  Maybe "I love you so much I'd die in excruciating pain for you" is a little passe in an age of quickie marriages and quickie divorces?  Other great remembrances for today include the Valentine's Day Massacre, where seven men- most from the North Side Gang- were killed by Al Capone's gang or associates.  Again, no chocolate covered bullets have I found at Malley's or Deitsch Brothers.  To be fair, the predominant color of Valentine's Day is red, the color of blood, so at least that makes some sense.

In reality, the non-sequiturs of the holiday that I've described above work out well for a day celebrating love; let's face it, love is filled with non-sequiturs and a lack of logic.  The prevalence of murders on this day to buy candy and roses also falls into place nicely with love.  Murder is a huge flaw on human history, at least in my opinion, and love is filled with flaws.  Flaws in reasoning, flaws in people, flaws in relationships.  Humans are kind of one big bag of flaws, and yet for some reason we love. 

I'm writing all this as I think about my love, the big D-train.  For almost 10 years now (nine of them as husband and wife) we've put up with each others flaws, insanity and idiosyncrasies and yet we both continue to live.  Maybe because of it?  For whatever reason, we're still together, we're still alive, and we're still in love, with the addition of Ken, his flaws, insanity and idiosyncrasies.  I think that's pretty cool.  It says a lot about love and what kind of havoc it can wrack on your sensibilities.  Eh, sensibilities are over-rated anyway. 

So yes, Dwight, you came home yesterday with candy, a card, and beautiful sentiments of love, and all you get in return is this crappy blog post dedicated to you.  Which you probably won't even read.  I love you, honey!  And spreading that love to all the rest of the inter-webs.  Happy Valentine's Day, y'all!

A few other thoughts on love can be found courtesy of Dan at Molecular Fossils.  I love the cartoon he found, thanks, Dan.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Today the APA releases a new draft for its latest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM, due out in 2013.  This is a big book of all recognized psychiatric/psychological disorders, their symptoms, and how to treat them.  It's a tome that is pretty fun to just browse through on occasion, to confirm that you're still crazy.  The recommendations include two revisions that are getting a bit of attention in the media, or at least on NPR.  There will no longer be a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome just a broader spectrum for autism, and childhood bipolar cases are being relabeled as temper dysregulation disorder.  I find both of these moves interesting, and the piece on NPR was especially enlightening. 

As for the temper dysregulation disorder label, personally I feel it's in the vein of just labeling a variation of normal behavior so as to excuse the behavior.  There's a quote by A Gabrielle Carlson in the NPR piece about how the diagnosis of childhood bipolar began with children that had been diagnosed with conduct disorder.  Conduct disorder basically included extremely unruly kids.  What was so great about diagnosing children with bipolar instead?  "We don't have good treatments for [conduct disorder]. We've got parent-training kinds of treatment, very strict behavioral modification kinds of things, but the evidence that therapy makes a big difference is not wonderful."  (my emphasis added)  I know enough people with severe allergies, and wonder how much of this behavior in kids is attributable to undiagnosed allergies or simply not being taught how to control their behaviors. 

The Asperger section in the NPR story was shorter, but also interesting.  Michael Carley, executive director of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, pointed out that while Asperger's syndrome might be seen as a positive since it is associated with the likes of Einstein and Edison, autism is more often characterized by "somebody who might have to wear adult diapers and maybe a head-restraining device."  This perception of others who now have the same diagnosis as himself is apparently causing some difficulty for Carley.

Running through both of these stories, in my mind, is the question of normalcy.  What is normal, how do we define normal, how do we treat those outside of normal, how does our perception of ourselves as normal or not change our behavior, is normal necessarily better than not normal- these are all big questions that I've fought with on and off for years.  There's a certain pride I take in not being "normal" as defined by our society, and I'm trying to teach that to Ken while instilling in him the importance of some social norms, like not intentionally farting on people in public.  It's a delicate balance.  How far can a person be on one side or another of the spectrum that is "normal" and still be functional?  Can we, as a society, focus more on the functionality of people and their lives, and less on fitting individuals into a the mold of a "normal" human being?  I know it takes more work, but can we embrace a larger view of normal and provide assistance to those outside of normal to make sure they can function, while allowing to be what is comfortable to themselves?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Green Thoughts

I don't know your weather, where ever you might be reading this, but in Kent right now we have approximately 15 inches of snow.  Oh, joy.  All the white stuff has me thinking of nothing more than green.  Spring.  Garden.  Dirt.  There's the real joy! 

I'm so happy to have seeds on the way, a new grow light for the basement, seed trays cleaned, starter arrived, and getting labels made up.  Usually I just plant seeds and then forget which variety is where, so it's a big surprise when things are ripe, because by then I have *no* recollection of what on Earth I planted.  And by "surprise" I mean huge frustration trying to figure out what seeds to get and which ones we disliked.  Oops.  So this year I'm trying labeling.

All the excitement has had me talking gardening with plenty of people, one of whom was only too happy to tell me all about his compost system.  That's a few hundred dollars.  And made of plastic.  And uses worms.  And comes pre-assembled from northern California.  And has a small heating element to keep things going even in winter.  He was shocked when I suffered a bought of oral diarrhea in an effort to tell him that this whole thing is NOT SUSTAINABLE!  I don't care how much compost he makes with this thing- it's not the ecological wonder that he thinks it is.  How many issues can you count with this contraption? 

Which gets to one of my pet peeves.  I'm thrilled that "green" and "eco-friendly" are popular and sustainability is "cool" right now.  But will "green" go the route of alternative music- filled with sell outs and loosing all meaning?  What will be the sustainability equivalent of the Metallica-Napster melee?  Ugh, that makes my heart sick.  Green is supposed to be "simple" in the sense of fewer components and ingredients.  No, that might not always be easier, but it should be cheaper, and doesn't require fancy new gadgets.  Hrmph!

In other news, Baby by Nature cloth diaper store has moved to where we're having a bit of an issue switching over the old site, but it'll be coming shortly.  Also, is on it's way (slowly) to coming into being, but populating the forum and designing that is turning out to be a bit more than I had thought.  No matter what, fun things are on the horizon!  Which should keep me too busy to wallow in self pity too long. 

And our household will be growing soon- with Galluceria sp. beetle farm for purple loose strife control, more bees, and small poultry- quail and chicken.  I'm so excited!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beginning a new year

No, it's not "the" New Year, nor is it Chinese New Year; it's my new year.  Yesterday was my birthday, the start of my thirtieth year.  I'm not one given to voodoo, hoodoo, or superstition, at least as anything more than occasional light hearted jokes, but a friend of mine is into astrology and has been for quite some time, and I'll admit to the teenage foray into tarot when I was younger.  My friend even did birth charts for a while, including one for me and my son.  He's a reasonable, rational, highly intelligent person, member of Mensa, small business owner, and a big believer in science- and yet he plays with astrology for fun.  He pulled back from a lot of it because of the people that astrology attracts.  People looking for excuses, looking for something outside of themselves to blame for their own failings.  He sees astrology not as a way to predict the future or a view of what's to come, but as another way to interpret current happenings in his life and give him an idea of dynamics of which to be aware.  He and I have talked at length about how in Asian cultures, somewhere around thirty is when a person is finally viewed as an adult, and one can either master certain tasks or continue repeating the same mistakes.

As I write this, Ken is chasing Leucopus the cat with a toy pan from his kitchen, rambling on about how he wants to give the kitty a drink.  He does this out of love, and he wants to take care of her and help her, but for some reason love and affection is not the message that comes across to her. 

Back from saving the cat for the umpteenth time today , where was I?  Oh, yes!  Why do I join these two disjunct stories?  Because both illustrate tools and the importance of using the appropriate tool for a given job.  Astrology isn't a predictive device anymore than a correlation is, it's a hobby and a way to refocus your mind in ways that you might not have considered previously.  A toy pan is a plaything and not a practical device to be employed when trying to befriend felines.  Like any tool, each of these items has appropriate and inappropriate uses. 

Likewise, science is a tool with circumstances where its use is correct and justified, and other situations where its use is not.  Science can't tell me why my heart still jumps a beat when I see Dwight after an extended absence or a rough day, nor can science tell me why I seem to always bump into Eric Clapton's songs on days when my father is closer to the front of my mind than usual.  Science can't tell me why I prefer one piece of art to another, nor can it explain why, given the same experience, two people might remember vastly different details, or why Madoff felt it would be OK to steal millions from the Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel.  Science can present facts, data, correlations, probabilities, and statistics.  Science can explain chemical and physical phenomena in a very detached and unbiased way.  But humans have our own set of filters, called past experience, opinion and individual circumstances, through which we see the world and the facts that science presents to us.  And possibly most importantly, humans have ethics and free will.  We are the proverbial horse.  You can present all the facts and science you want, but in the end, we choose what we will do with those facts.  And therein lies the problem.  If scientists ignore the existence of free will and insist that only science must ever be considered when making vital, life changing decisions, then we loose half of ourselves and, essentially, our humanity and instead become automatons and machines.  And anyone who has seen a science fiction movie or read a science fiction book can tell you- humans don't trust robots.