Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Can Cleveland Make a Comeback?

I love this article by Joel Kotkin and Richey Piiparinen. It puts into words some of the things I would like to say about this area, and about "the Rustbelt" in general, and it adds some things that I wasn't aware of. I've heard some things here and there from local news agencies about how Cleveland is trying to position itself as a leader in the health-care service and technology industry. The new Medical Mart is supposed to be a big key in this endeavor. However, as an almost life-long resident of the Cleveland area, I've heard lots of ideas that were supposed to help Cleveland that turned out to not really be all that exciting. One of the latest ones I remember was the new Horseshoe Casino in the Tower City building. Sure, it's providing jobs, but anything you could put in that spot would provide jobs. Is it bringing outside money into the city? I don't know, but I do know that the Avenue shopping center, also located in Tower City, seemed, to me, to be a shadow of its former self when I visited this year. If people are coming to the casino, I think the hope is that they will spend money elsewhere too. I'm not sure that is happening judging by outside appearances. I may be wrong; Mr. BTEG might be a better source, since he works downtown every day.

However many close tries and possibilities Cleveland has had, reading that the CEO of Siemens, USA described the city as a hub for the healthcare industry means that perhaps the city has done something right. I absolutely agree with the authors that trying to appeal to artsy hipsters is not enough to revitalize a large metropolitan area like Cleveland. I also like that they see manufacturing and engineering as keys to a city's growth, instead of concentrating solely on service-type jobs, as seems to have been a prevailing idea among some economists as our manufacturing base has disappeared. Rebuilding it in a twentieth-first century format would be a great way to provide income for people who would then have money to spend on retail and services.

I would like to point out that one thing the article cites as encouraging international investment, is cheap and abundant domestic energy, such as natural gas. Encouraging people to move more with things like unemployment benefits, as suggested by Berkeley-based economist Enrico Moretti, makes as much sense as Nancy Pelosi's assertion that unemployment cash makes the economy grow. Growth only comes about if people are *working.* And affordable energy makes starting or growing a business more affordable and more appealing. If the Rustbelt can come back by providing blue-collar jobs, it will help the very people government claims to care about the most.

Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Surprise Night at the Theater

Mr. BTEG got a phone call from the owner of the Dancer's dance studio on Saturday. Seems an adult who takes a private lesson on Saturdays came in with four tickets to that evening's showing of the play Newsies, at Cleveland's Playhouse Square. The studio owner wanted to double check that we could use the tickets. We were happy to accept, especially since the Dancer's tap recital dance back in June was to "King of New York," from Newsies.

After some calling around, it ended up being Mr. BTEG and I, the Dancer, and one of the Dancer's best friends, who is interested in theater, who attended. Said friend was actually at the high school theater painting scenery for the next high school theater production when we got hold of her, and she had to rush home and take a shower.

It was definitely the kind of evening we won't be reproducing anytime soon. In addition to the four tickets, we also got a pass to park free in the Playhouse Square parking garage, with a covered walkway to Playhouse Square's group of theaters. And when we picked up the tickets at the Dancer's studio, we discovered that they were loge tickets. We sat in our own little row of four seats, with some small tables, and waitresses came and took food and drink orders and brought the items directly to our seats. That was a new experience for this family.

I suppose it sounds silly to say that it made me feel ridiculously rich to have the tickets and the parking and everything, but it did. The Evil Genius family is very blessed, but there isn't room in the budget for these kind of events, especially in the luxury seats we had. It was a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Picture of the Day

I thought this picture would be an appropriate one for the day, although it was taken in December of 1989.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Moving On, Moving Out

Another life change has happened here at Casa de Evil Genius: the Musician has moved out. It's been an adjustment, having only one daughter at home. I miss having the Musician around, but it's also freeing. Most of our homes have been on the crowded side, and it's nice just having the space. And the Musician was very happy and eager to be more on her own (she's rooming with a friend.) Honestly, it's nice having more time to focus on myself! I've enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, and I look back very fondly on that time. But it's also nice to be able to work more on my own dreams and ambitions.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Back to the Beginning

After an honest try, I'm back to my original medicine. The other ones we tried just weren't working for me. I'll just have to see my GP and see what she thinks about drugs to help lower my cholesterol. I would appreciate prayers still, as I am still a little wobbly mentally.

A couple of things emerge out of all of this. One is how blessed I am to have a psychiatrist who understands what I am going through. She's very good at reading body cues, and she's also been my psychiatrist long enough that she can read me personally, and gauge where I'm at in relation to previous visits.

Secondly, I'm thankful that we have good medications for stabilizing mood out there. It's amazing how much the medication helps my brain to function properly.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

For My Friend Scottius Maximus

Ruh-roh. Do you think this will affect the Cardinals playoff chances?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update on Common Core Stuff

The Dancer has told me that one of her recent Spanish assignments was to pretend that she was a girl from Costa Rica, and write a letter to one of the other girls in class, who was pretending she was a girl from Colombia. They were to learn some facts about the country and then write a letter describing some of what their country was like. Mind you, my daughter is in Honors Spanish III. Both the Musician and I agreed that an assignment like that is pretty Spanish I type of stuff. Does anyone have any input on this? Obviously, it depends to an certain extent on the complexity of the writing required, but this doesn't seem to have been a very complicated letter. I know the Dancer thought it was kind of a silly assignment. She has been keeping me up on things, now that she has seen my previous post on Common Core. By Honors Spanish III, one is generally getting into the more difficult parts of grammar, and learning more advanced vocabulary. This assignment doesn't seem to have fit that bill.

I heard from the one mom I know well enough to contact about this. She said she didn't know what we could do about it. Hmmm. I have heard that there is an Ohio House Bill under discussion which would repeal Common Core for the whole state. I already called my State Representative and told him that I support it, even though it's still just being talked about. That may sound silly, I suppose. I wanted to let my rep know it was already being talked about by the larger community, and that there are people that support it. Ironically, I heard about this bill when I put up a Tweet with a link to my previous Common Core post. I also heard about Ohioans Against Common Core this way. The Evil Genius in me wants to buy an anti-Common Core shirt and wear it to home football games.

At least my daughter's AP US History class seems to be going the same way it was when the Musician took the course, BCC (Before Common Core.) They are using the same textbook, which I think was older already when the Musician used it. I am keeping an eye on anything they might be using outside of the textbook. Also, Mr. BTEG was a chemistry lab assistant in high school, and minored in math in college, so he is knowledgeable enough on both of those subjects to make sure the Dancer is getting a solid foundation in those courses. I wish every student was so blessed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Still Looking Ahead

My medication difficulties continue. Being off of the one med was helping me as far as general mood and energy, but I did have a couple of mixed episodes fairly quickly. If you are not familiar with bipolar, a mixed episode involves manic and depressive symptoms together. You are agitated, angry, depressed, apt to act out. So long term, I do need some kind of medication beyond the two I am still currently taking. My doctor prescribed me something newer, which is not supposed to have the side effect of raising cholesterol. However, I'm starting to exhibit sleep deprivation symptoms. Melatonin does not seem to help, and I can't stand any kind of tea. In the meantime, I'm keeping on as best I can, on the road to a healthier me. I'm thankful that we have two cars, and that the Musician is home a good bit of the time, when she's not at work, and can drive and help out. I'm also extremely thankful that I don't have an outside job. Mr. BTEG is a great support, in every way.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Common Core Is Rotten

I'm sure you've already heard a bunch of other people express frustration with how poor the Common Core curriculum is at actually teaching kids. I knew Common Core was not a good educational system, but was hoping that since my daughter was a sophomore in high school this year, she wouldn't be affected much by the issues. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be showing up in her math, science or AP US History classes. She is having to read some worthless non-fiction books for English. Their reading assignment over the summer was The Talent Code. Is that truly useful for the majority of 15-year-olds? What made this book stand out among the sea of self-help books out there, that an English teacher picked it out for my child? Now she has to go through a list of other books of this type, and pick out another one that she would be interested in reading. Fortunately, they are also reading the traditional fictional literature that has been used in English courses. I'm still displeased with what I feel is a waste of my daughter's learning time.

She also informed me tonight that her Spanish class is being changed by this stupid system also. They're not actually concentrating on learning vocabulary or grammar in class anymore, the Dancer says. They're supposed to be magically learning that at home, then spending class time applying it. What? My daughter is luckier than most, in that I studied Spanish for seven years, and my eldest daughter took three years of Spanish as well. We can help her if she runs into difficulties because she's not getting what she needs in class. But I want my daughter to be studying grammar and vocabulary in class! I shouldn't feel like I have to help her, or supplement her education, at home.

At certain blogs, in this era where educational standards are falling victim to political meddling, I've read that not homeschooling your child amounts to child abuse. I resent that bitterly, because I know my daughter better than anyone else. Homeschooling would not be best for her at this time, because of personal reasons that are none of anyone else's business. I'm going to start by talking to some of the other mothers that I know, and see if anyone else is unhappy with the way this school year is starting out. Depending on whether I get a positive or negative response, Mr. BTEG and I will have to think about things from there.

Should I have tried to fight Common Core when our school district first talked about implementing it? Perhaps. To be honest, I don't have any friends that are fellow moms here in my town. I thought about joining the local PTA long ago, but decided not to when I started getting spammed with email from the national PTA, telling me to vote for things I would never have any intention of supporting. Even the PTA is all politics, all the time, and that disgusted me and put me off the entire PTA idea. So I definitely didn't feel like trying to lead what seemed to me at the time a single-handed crusade against our school board and superintendent, who described Common Core in gushing terms. If I can find some parents that are unhappy about how this is working out in practice, instead of theory, maybe we can band together to get something done. Or as I said above, Mr. BTEG and I will have to take a serious look at the rest of the Dancer's high school years.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quick Note

Emotionally, I'm doing fairly well being off of one of my meds. However, I've been suffering from a lack of sleep, which is not uncommon when stopping this medication. My skin has also gone ballistic, which is not common, but not an emergency situation. I will be seeing my doctor soon, in any case. It has been very difficult to want to blog, though, when I barely have enough energy to sit up straight. Today promises to be better, but I do have a lot of catching up on normal life to do. We'll see where my health and my energy levels take me for a bit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

City Policies and Their Results

As someone who has lived near the city of Cleveland most of her life, I found myself in agreement with a recent article by Kevin D. Williamson at National Review Online entitled, Who Lost the Cities? As Jesse Jackson talks about "a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression," Williamson asks the question, who is responsible for this crisis in cities such as Newark, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland? Williamson's conclusion? "The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black." While this might be provable by a simple look at political offices and economic statistics, I'm sure that diehard progressives will deny to their last breath that there is any causality between a city's politics and the living conditions of its poor. But isn't that just a ringing endorsement for Williamson's counter-argument, that individuals, families and private businesses should be free to act outside of regulated government influences? If, for example, the public school district in your system is failing not only to teach children, but to provide even a safe environment for them to learn, and this has been going on for decades, why think electing a new superintendent will magically solve the problem? Especially when that superintendent will be paid a couple of hundred thousand dollars or so a year in salary, and can easily move on elsewhere in a few years, while residents are stuck with the same schools? If you are a parent, who do you think you can best trust to make sure your child receives at least an adequate education, you, or some bureaucrats who are consistently not held accountable? Politicians have offered many fixes for urban woes, and I'm going to write about some of Cleveland's proposed solutions. I will simply state here that while downtown Cleveland and its neighbor, University Circle, may have some very lovely areas, the overall environment of the city of Cleveland has not changed... yet. You may want to give the government a chance. You may want to search for direct solutions for your family and yourself to improve your personal situation as much as possible on your own. It's not like politicians' promises have never failed before.

Update: this post was edited to better clarify my points, and to change when I will next post about this.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Of Writing Many Blog Posts, There Is No End

This little paraphrase of King Solomon's words came to me as I was pondering the huge amount of verbiage that spills out of the internet every day. I don't want to become just another "mommy blogger," but I also don't think my niche is simply supplying news links, with a little of my own commentary. There are already a lot of sites out there that do that, some of them very well. I used to enjoy talking about homeschooling, but those days are long gone now. Still, I do get ideas for blog posts, but mostly around 11PM when I'm trying to go to sleep. And even if I write the ideas down, the spark is often gone by the next day. Still, I've always enjoyed writing, and I'd hate to stop doing it. Right now, blogging is the best way for me to work on writing. Plus, it helps me try to organize my thoughts in a coherent fashion. Mr. BTEG or my daughters could tell you how often I spit out some stream of consciousness from my brain that makes little sense to anyone but me. At least when I write, I can go back and correct something that I didn't clarify enough for a reader to understand. Too often I write only a portion of what my brain is processing, so there is no needed context to what I write.

One thing that will be interesting to observe in the future is that, in an agreement between my psychiatrist and myself, I have been completely weaned from one of my bipolar medications. This was largely out of concern for my physical health: a side effect of this drug can be high cholesterol. While I have already found that I'm having negative and self-accusing thoughts again concerning the past, I'm also hoping to combat those using some of the positive thinking I've gained over several years of mental stability. The interesting part is that my brain is not as numb, for lack of a better word, than it was on the medication. Not that I was a zombie before, but I was kind of floating in a sea of calm, thinking very little. I'm wondering if this new medicinal change will help my creativity, while hoping I can retain mental health. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

On Loving Cleveland

So the 2016 GOP convention will be held in Cleveland, and I'm trying to make myself care. Maybe if I could sit down with a few Republican Congressmen and ask them why they're being so stoooopit. That would be fun. But I don't get the disdain for Cleveland. I could point out everything I like about living here, but in the long run, it wouldn't matter to anyone, I don't think. But there is one important thing about Cleveland where many other cities are lacking: we have only one of nine Capezio stores in the country!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

Just about to run out and go see fireworks. The girls are out with their friends at the local Bay Days fair. Hope you fellow Americans all have a happy and safe holiday! I'm putting up a new header featuring my girls with their cousins, from a Fourth many years ago.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ready to Enjoy the Summer

The Musician's graduation party and the Dancer's dance recital have come to a successful conclusion. In a way, it was almost too much to have it on one weekend, but it was also nice to get it all over with at once.

The park where we held the graduation party had a catch-and-release pond. My niece caught her first fish, and my in-laws and some of the kids spent hours by the pond. The bubbles were also a hit with the big kids.

I think I was more melancholy about this being the Dancer's next-to-last recital than I was about the Musician graduating high school. I love watching both of my daughters perform, but I have seen the Musician in a lot more performances in marching band and concert band, than I have seen the Dancer in recitals.

The Dancer is very flexible.

Really, really flexible
The Dancer's cousin was excited that the Dancer's tap class used a song from Newsies. It's apparently one of her cousin's favorite movies.

I'm especially proud of the Dancer's progress in pointe. She's so incredibly strong, and she's put in a lot of work to become so.

Remember the foam pointe bodices I blogged about having to alter about a month ago? Yeah, it was these.
So now I'm going to settle in to blogging more, sewing more, and keeping up with the housework and what seems like perpetual sorting and tidying! What are your summer plans?

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

What's In a Name?

At Ace of Spades, I saw a link showing data whereby you can supposedly tell how old a person is by his or her name. Ha!, I thought to myself. Since my mother was (for the times) much older than the norm when she had her children, I bet the average age of someone with my name is actually about 10 years older than my age. Interestingly enough, both of my sisters' names as well as my own are among the top 25 most common names of those alive as of Jan 1, 2014. And while the median age of those sharing the name Barbara is about 20 years past where I am now, the bottom of the range is indeed about 10 years past my own age. My sisters' median and bottom of range numbers are even lower, and they are both younger than I am. Does this make sense to you? It does to me simply because my parents were in general more old-fashioned than the parents of my friends, so it would make sense that the names that they found attractive would be a bit behind the fashion as well.

There's some interesting data there, if you want to check it out. For example, half of all living Brittanys are between ages 19 and 25. But a certain singer's first album only came out 15 years ago, so I don't see that being the link. Say you were 14 back in 1999, you'd only be 29 now. And I just now wondered if the name information took spelling discrepancies into account. Is Jason/Jaysun/Jayson/J-son the same name? In any case, I'm younger than my name. :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

The End of Something

Today was the Musician's last final. Her high school days are over. And you know what? I don't feel too bittersweet about it. High school had too many difficult spells for her, for me to feel sorry that it is over. Looking at it with adult wisdom, I think high school is difficult for everyone, perhaps largely because these are difficult years in general. Teenagers are very often overemotional and immature, leading to a lot of what my youngest calls "teen angst" and creating those who the Musician calls "drama llamas." And high school is their world. If a co-worker was catty, for example, I generally wouldn't have to see her in any context outside of work. High school kids are stuck with each other during the day, for after-school activities, at parties, often even times at their entry-level jobs. Teens have to work out their own growing issues while everyone else around them struggle with theirs, and often clash. Even though my daughter was more popular, made more friends and was involved in more than Mr. BTEG or I did in our time, there's always those that don't like you, and teens can be all too nasty about letting you know.

Of course, having a daughter who's graduating high school can be a reminder to me that I am growing older! I try not to feel too badly about it, because I wouldn't want to be stuck in my 30's with two little girls forever, either. But it's a little bit difficult seeing my mother get depressed as she gets deeper into her twilight years (she will be 80 this year.) I feel concern for her, but I also hope this is not a glimpse into my own future. One of my big fears is outliving my body, so that I'm stuck in a nursing home for years, or even outliving my mind. And even as a Christian, I think death gives us all a pang at times. Even so, my mother can still live on her own, even if she doesn't have as much energy as she used to do, and her mind is intact. There are blessings there.

For the present, I'm going to celebrate my daughter's achievement!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I'm pretty sure I've talked previously on this very blog about how college isn't all it's cracked up to be, at this time. You don't really get a true liberal arts education anymore, and it seems silly, with college so expensive, to take a bunch of classes unrelated to your career aspirations. In other words, say you want to be a teacher. You can get all of the education classes you need (and I'd argue whether all of those are needed) in about two years or so. Why put in more time and money (and we can be talking big money), when you could be out earning your living instead?

So, we've come to the point where the Musician is finally graduating from high school. And guess what? She... doesn't want to go to college. She's not sure what she wants to do with her life, and she's not really up for more classroom work at the moment. And it's a little bit difficult for me. I know that she is making the right decision for her. I'm proud that, in her current part-time job, she is showing that she is willing to work to earn money, and she can handle showing up on time, etc. But. Just about every other one of her classmates is going to college. She and I won't have shared experiences of dorm life, crazy professors, faking your way through long term papers, bad cafeteria food. In the end, though, she's an adult. It's her life now. She's extraordinarily stubborn (she shares THAT with her mother!) and tenacious. If she ever decides she needs a college degree, she'll find a way to get it. I hope she's happy wherever life takes her.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying Again

I have to admit, it's been crazy around here. I've had so much more energy and drive since the surgery, but too often I can wear myself out so much that I am exhausted for the next day or so. I'm hoping to improve my stamina and tackle things I never felt up to before.

Right now, the household is kind of on a countdown to June. The Musician will be graduating from high school. She's working and trying to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life, while she looks forward to her graduation. The Dancer is having a dance recital in June. She is in six dances, which required six costumes, a few of which needed sewing work. Costumes never come completely finished, I suppose to fit the size vagaries of hundreds of kids. Also, the studio owner and teacher asked me for more of my sewing help than I've given her in the past. Out of seven pointe costumes, for example, six needed alterations, including the Dancer's. The bodices are largely made out of a foam with stretch velvet over, and they've been weird to work on. But besides a lot of people being impressed by my skills (which is always nice) we're getting a tuition break this month against the hours that I've put in.

On top of all this, I've been getting more involved in the doll collecting world, which has led to me putting more time and effort into my collection. It's nice to have a fun and relaxing hobby, and I've met a lot of great people recently on the internet, but I've also missed this blog. I've missed the people that I know from here. Which means that I'm going to have to make an effort to write here again. I hope to see some familiar faces around, and maybe meet some new ones!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Nanny Phone

Our smaller car is pretty bare bones, but the one thing it does have is a USB port so that I can play music that I have stored on my phone, through the radio speaker system on the car. When I plug in the USB cable, the phone sees the cable as headphones. It lowers the music volume automatically, and when I turn it back up, I always get a warning that Loud Music Over a Long Period of Time Can Damage Your Hearing, Young Lady. Okay, I'm touched that my phone cares about my hearing, but really, I'm a big girl; I can decide for myself if the volume on my phone is too high.

Now, not only does my new phone want to save my hearing, it wants to Save the World. When I plug my phone in overnight to recharge, like you do, when the phone reaches full charge, it beeps and leaves a note across the top to tell me to unplug the charger to save energy. Yeah, that's gonna happen. Listen, I plug in my phone, then I go to sleep. If my phone's battery charge is low enough, by the time it's fully charged again, I'm going to be asleep. And if I'm not, I'm trying to go to sleep, not be disturbed by my cell phone. Not only that, I want to make sure my phone is charged, because it's also my alarm clock. Lastly, how much energy does leaving my cell phone plugged in overnight really use? I'm tired of being preached at constantly about saving the planet; I don't need my phone to do it for me too. If it wasn't for the fact that many people do use their phones as alarm clocks, I think the self-righteous people who created this little gem would program the phone to turn itself off because oh noes, we have to save that half a watt of electricity used to make sure the phone is charged overnight.

What's next? Is your refrigerator going to scold you when you stand there with the door open for too long? Will your washer only wash clothes in cold water so you don't use electricity to heat the water? The idea that the government will eventually control the temperatures in our homes has already been tossed around. This is the ugly side of wanting the government to take care of everything for you. At least for those of us who don't need a nanny.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Natural Reason versus Faith

This blog post I'm linking to is very old, but someone I know just mentioned it on Google Plus last week, so I saw it for the first time. On the other hand, it consists of some of Martin Luther's words, and those are older still. But what struck me is how appropriate they are for the times in which we live. I encourage you to go read the whole quote, but for my purposes here, I'll just say that Luther compares those who live by natural reason against those who live by Christian faith in the context of marriage and children. In natural reason, according to Luther, caring for a wife and dealing with a smelly baby who needs his diapers changed is abhorrent and something to be avoided. On the other hand, the Christian sees even the lowest of service as pleasing to God, and so he is glad to do the most menial of tasks for his wife and children.

It really struck me how Luther, writing from nearly 500 years ago, captured the spirit of our age so accurately. I've been seeing people that don't even want to live with another person anymore, because it's too much work and hassle. The other person doesn't do his fair share of the chores, plus you have to deal with his bad habits, and work around his schedule, etc. It's much easier, they say, to just maintain your separate abodes. Get together at one person's place for the evening, have dinner, watch a movie, have sex, and then you both live your own separate lives until you feel like sharing time with that person again. And having sex, of course. The natural man wants all the pleasures life can give him, but not any of the work or unpleasantness.

This so relates to being a stay-at-home mom, too. Modern feminists insist that getting a job outside the home is infinitely preferable to staying home and doing the things Luther talks about: making beds, washing diapers, taking care of the baby when he cries. Of course, you then have to turn around and hire someone to do those things, but somehow that is seen as acceptable. I've never seen anywhere how feminists view those women, the ones who are working but are doing those menial tasks that other women are too good to do. It might be interesting to find that out.

I find it sad that people are willing to forgo the benefits that marriage and children can bring, because there are lots of benefits. In fact, I could even suggest that the good one acquires not only outweighs the bad, but is better than the fleeting pleasures that the perpetually single-by-their-own-choice find, simply because the work required is more difficult. And in loving someone else despite the frailties, weaknesses, and times when the other person simply messes up, we find someone who loves us despite our frailties, weaknesses, and times when we just mess up. There is a true beauty there.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Healing Well

I had a two-week post surgery check up on Tuesday. The doctor was very impressed with my healing, and also informed me that all the nurses on my floor had been talking about me, because I didn't take any strong pain medicine, like codeine or oxycodone, after my surgery. Of course, not having narcotics for pain relief was my choice, because they make me vomit, but I also didn't really feel like I needed them. Apparently this is unusual. The doctor was also impressed at my ease of movement. I attribute that to getting up and moving around as much as I could after I got home, though.

Between this recovery, and the healing of the fractured bone in my foot, which surprised my doctor every time I went in, I'm beginning to wonder if I was injected with some sort of mutant healing serum as a child.

Friday, March 14, 2014

These Children Are Special and Loveable, Except When They're Not

I read many different doll blogs, that offer news and reviews of many different dolls. A couple of those reviews have featured dolls from Extra Special Dolls. What makes these dolls special is that they are all modeled to look like children with Down Syndrome. Not only are the faces sculpted to look like children with Down Syndrome, the dolls also have other physical characteristics of someone born with this genetic disorder. These include things like a single crease in the palm, lower set ears and a tiny curved pinky finger. Your doll can even be created with things like custom scars, as Down children can suffer with things like heart issues, that need surgery.

I admire the woman who first got the idea for these dolls because her own daughter has Down Syndrome. She's worked hard to bring her dream of creating these dolls to life. It's a great story, and I hope the dolls bring lots of happiness to every child who receives one. But on the other side, we have stories like these, where a mother killed her own toddler with Down Syndrome.

That's the sad part of all this, that while some people treasure life, even of those who may have health issues or genetic disorders or physical handicaps, there are some, like that toddler's father, who think that children like his son are better off dead. Despite how "lucky" she was to be the toddler's mom, this Erika Wigstrom decided it was her choice to kill him.

But then again, why shouldn't she? "An estimated 92 percent of all women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies," according to a pediatric geneticist in Boston. In other words, most children who have Down syndrome never even make it out of the womb alive. If it's okay to kill those unborn prenatally, because they will be inconvenient or inexpensive or if a parent is not "strong enough to raise a child like that," what if they become too much to deal with out of the womb? Please cut out the nonsense about how your "kid is so cool God wanted him." If God wanted him, God would have taken him without you choosing to poison him. No, all these people just want to play God, want to have control of their own lives, want to get rid of everything which isn't "perfect" or that means hard work.

And as the ABC article notes, many more women are conceiving babies with Down syndrome because they are waiting so much longer to try to have a child in the first place. What a schizophrenic society we live in, where we treat Down syndrome children as unique, special blessings for a family, and on the other hand most of them are aborted because they are not wanted by their parents.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Hello Again

The surgery was successful, and I'm starting to feel more like myself. Being in the hospital, and out of the normal stream of life, I felt almost like I was a different person once I came home and started feeling stronger. I'm paying attention to what's going on in the wider world, but I still need quite a bit of rest. I'm making positive progress, so I'm hoping to be writing more soon.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gone for a While

I'm having surgery on Wednesday morning, so I might not be around here for a while. I don't own a laptop, so I'll have to feel up to sitting at my computer to actually do any writing. I'm hoping to recover fairly quickly, but I also could take a while to feel better. I'm not going to rush anything. Stay safe out there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting Around

The Evil Genius family is all snug and cosy at home for what I hope will be the last snow day of this winter. The high temperature is supposed to be 39 degrees this afternoon, but the snow was bad enough this morning that I'm glad school was cancelled. In my opinion, it would have been seriously courting bad accidents to try to get the kids to school this morning. Mr. BTEG is also able to work from home, and does so regularly once a week in any case, so he and his group are all working from home today.

I can't wait for the warmer temps this week! We're running out of room to put all this snow. Our driveway has been getting narrower and narrower. On the other hand, it's also been getting longer. The piles of snow probably extend out past the curb by at least a foot. Which is good, because in related news, we got a second car!

We've been a one-car family for years. It can be one of the hazards of being a family with a stay-at-home-mom. With Mr. BTEG working downtown and able to take a bus, the burden wasn't too great, although I had to drive him to and from the bus stop. What drove me to the breaking point was the Musician's teaching experience requirements. Twice a week, she has to be at the community college for classes for a couple of hours in the morning, then the rest of the day at the high school. Three times a week, she has been assisting a teacher in the classroom, first at an elementary school, then the intermediate school, then the middle school. Again, this is only for about an hour and a half in the morning, then it's off to the high school. For complicated issues, which I'm not going to discuss here for privacy reasons, the Musician hasn't yet gotten her driver's license. So I spent a good bit of morning driving, then picked the girls up later at the high school, then had to pick up Mr. BTEG at the bus stop, then many evenings the Dancer goes to dance classes. So this second car was a true blessing. Mr. BTEG now handles getting himself to and from the bus stop, the Dancer to the high school, and the Musician to the college on those mornings. My sanity has been restored.

Monday, February 03, 2014

How to Cope

I wasn't and am still not really moved by the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I've never seen any of his movies; I'm not really a big movie watcher. Without a personal connection, he's just another person whose drug use got the better of him. He's just being talked about because he happened to be famous. What moved me to blog about this was when people started talking about his using drugs to cope with his demons, whatever they were, and discussion has since moved on (in other places on the net) to people using drugs to self-medicate for mental issues like bipolar.

I did a little looking around in the internet, and I really can't find anything to go on that this actor had mental illness, or what his demons were. The only thing I found remotely interesting was that Hoffman's father was apparently not around during Hoffman's childhood. Studies have shown children of single parent families are much more likely to use drugs, so that could very well have been a contributing issue, since Hoffman's first go-round with drugs was when he was in college.

It is always sad when children lose their father, and it is also sad for Hoffman's girlfriend and mother of their children, who now is a single parent herself. What bothers me is the people that I feel are almost making excuses for taking drugs or being an alcoholic by pushing the self-medication angle. While I've never felt the urge to self-medicate, and indeed my violent reaction to some painkillers means I'd probably not find relief in drugs, I have felt the urge to be self-destructive in the worst way possible: suicide.

In my case, I would have left behind my loving husband, who would have been torn apart, and my two daughters, who would have had to immediately struggle through their crucial teen years without a mother. The effect on their lives would have been catastrophic. My death would have also affected other family members, in ways I can't say as clearly how. Yet at some times suicide seemed so tempting as a way out of my mental pain. If you haven't been clinically depressed or otherwise mentally ill, I don't know that it can be described. There were bad things going on in my life; there were great things happening in my life. Suicidal ideation goes beyond that. It's not relevant here to try to go into more detail.

The point I want to make is that when someone overdoses like this, there shouldn't be excuses made, or an attempt to explain the drug use. What really needs to be said is that drug use to escape, especially to escape mental illness, is dangerous, and that kind of drug use should be discouraged. Proper medicines for mental illness help you feel normal, able to function. They don't make you high; they don't take you away. It's also good to have other, non-pharmaceutical ways to help you cope, like exercising or knitting.

Sometimes when my mind hasn't worked right, I've had to cling to what I knew was true, even if my mind didn't believe it *at that moment.* Ace says that even if more recreational drugs to become legal, there should still be a message out there that they are bad for you, and it's best not to use them. If there is general strong societal disapproval of these drugs, could someone tempted to use them to cope, convince himself that shooting up would only make things worse, if he had heard it often enough? I don't know. I do believe that sometimes it can help to hear "Don't" until you can believe it for yourself.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Parenthood as an Option

I've been thinking a lot about something the Dancer said to me the other day. We've been talking about the role of marriage and having children in our current society. So many secular couples decide that they absolutely don't want children, or that they'll have them "when they're ready," whatever that means. Even if "when they're ready" gets pushed into their thirties, or even later. At which point they freak about being infertile, but that could be a whole separate post.

Anyway, I think that the Christian couple should definitely have children, if God blesses them with offspring. There are many couples who deal with the pain of infertility; there is a blog out there run by Lutherans for families who deal with this. But there are Christian couples out there who aren't having children at all, and I'm not certain that is the Christian way to do things. Of course, when I really thought about it, "being Christian equals having children," isn't something specifically mandated in the Bible, is it? God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth. Is that just meant for filling the earth? But also, God also talks about how children are a blessing, a heritage, from the Lord. And He talks in the Bible about putting the lonely in families. Despite St. Paul's praise for the single life, it seems like most often the family is God's ideal for how people should live. A man and a woman, joined in holy matrimony, bringing up children in the way they should go.

What the Dancer said, though, was when we were talking about a friend of hers. This friend is one of four kids. Mom has abandoned the family, and Dad is not always a great father. Not bad enough for social services, definitely, but sometimes rather absent with affection and effort. I said perhaps the parents should not have had children at all. The Dancer quickly pointed out that I've previously said people should have children. I did say that. So, what then? I told her, then, that they should have grown up and accepted parental responsibilities. But that doesn't seem like something that is done very often today either. See Wendy Davis as an example. She is running for elected office mainly on her status as a "single mother," when for a lot of time she wasn't even the primary parent because it wasn't "a good time" for to be a mother! Wasn't a good time? The good time to be a mother, is when you have kids.

I keep going back to what the Dancer said to me. All I've ever wanted to do was be a wife and mother, as primary vocation. Should you have a calling to be a parent, or should you do it because it's what God wants? Certainly not everyone is called to marriage.

Being a parent isn't easy, but then neither is being a grown-up. People not only want to put off child-rearing; they want to put off marriage, as I've written about previously. Instead, it's all about you, all the time. Wendy Davis left her kids behind literally for her career and her ambitions. You shouldn't even get married until you have a great career, and you've traveled the world, and done a bunch of other stuff that somehow is necessary to do. And then you shouldn't have kids until you're ready. And then what? Are we going to end up like Japan? A very large percentage of young men and women show no interest in getting married, or even dating. They're too wrapped up in their careers. In other words, themselves.

I'm definitely not perfect at this, but part of being a family is living for something beside the self. Definitely within a marriage, even more so with kids. Spouses, after all, are generally able to care for themselves. Babies need everything done for them, and even as they grow, they still need things like laundry and cooking done for them for many years; money has to be spent for their clothes, toys, school needs. Driving them places seems never-ending. But I'm afraid, as fallen humans, that society won't stop in the pursuit of selfishness until it ends up like the Japanese. A healthy society is one that values marriage and family. Maybe that's because God designed it that way?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Latest Sewing Project

I've temporarily gone from sewing to cleaning up/re-organizing my sewing area. I got to a point where having so much clutter slowed me down too much; it was harder to try to work around the clutter than to just try to neaten things up. But I never put up a picture of a project I worked on back in November, a pair of dance shorts for the Dancer.

I've heard lots of good things about Jalie patterns for making dancewear, so I picked up Jalie 3247, Crop Tops and Shorts in 24 sizes. That link will take you to the pattern, being sold by msbonnieb on eBay. Jalie is a Canadian company, and they don't seem to have a lot of retailers in the U.S. It was easiest for me to go the eBay route.

Here is a picture of the pattern mostly laid out on my sewing table. I wish this would have come in more than one paper piece. As you can see, some of those larger pattern pieces are huge, and having to maneuver that large sheet of paper around got a little difficult.

And above you can see how the shorts turned out! She likes them, although they are a little low in the rise for her. But she wears a leotard under them, so it's not too bad, and I think she's gotten used to them. I have enough material left over from making the girls bathing suits, many years ago, that I can make several pairs of shorts for the Dancer, making the pattern a pretty good investment! I have the next pair of shorts, the other pattern view, almost done; I just need some red thread for the hemming and attaching the elastic. I hate going to JoAnn's anymore, and the smaller sewing stores don't always have convenient hours. I may just have to mail order. I'm a little unhappy with having to do that for such a small purchase, but those red shorts have been almost done for quite a while now!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Even More on Marriage

Someone else has taken on the important task of encouraging young women to put off that boring growing up stuff, and spend some more time in the kiddie pool. Her name is Ms. Vanessa Elizabeth, and she writes for the Huffington Post. Rather than give her screed more hits, I point you to a rebuttal of her rather juvenile prattling, this time written by Katrina Fernandez at patheos. I'm not sure how old Fernandez is, but as a matron of forty-five, I find Ms. Vanessa to be rather quaint, like a toddler. Also like a toddler, however, she has apparently never developed the ability to look past her own immediate wants.

Yes, Ms. Thang will get some laughs out of hanging out naked in front of a window and making strangers uncomfortable in a public place, just like a toddler might find it funny to fling poo. And making out with a stranger, or dating two people at once until it blows up in your face, that's all just fun and games. Until coming home from your job and watching a marathon session of Girls while eating an entire jar of Nutella just doesn't cut it anymore. The problem is, a large part of your age group, if they are smart, will have long ago moved on and grown up. They'll have learned important lessons about not only about a maintaining a lifelong marital relationship, but about friendship, and aging, and grief. If they've been blessed with children, they'll have learned even more about unconditional love and sacrifice. They'll all be in the summer of their lives, but some of them will have planted seeds that will provide fruit to last them into the fall and winter seasons of their lives. Vanessa and her ilk will just be struggling to get some plants started in rocky soil. Which path sounds wiser to you?

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Pony Powered

So in the world of My Little Pony, the city of Manehatten still has horse-drawn carriages. Well, technically horse-drawn taxicabs. So is it more or less exploitative of ponies to ride in horse-drawn carriages than it is of humans to do so?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Snowed In

The weather outside is frightful at Casa de Evil Genius. There's a couple feet of snow piled up outside the back door, but it's hard to tell how much of that is snow drift considering the wind is also blowing pretty hard. Fortunately, Mr. BTEG is on vacation from work, and the girls are still on school vacation. Mr. BTEG went out to buy groceries so the fridge is stocked, and we're ready to settle in and wait for the storm to finish. And as Small Dead Animals points out, thank God for fossil fuels as we sit here with warmth, light and computers.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Happy New Year to all my readers, and I do hope this year is happy. Politically, it's looking like it's going to be a real train wreck, but I hope as many of us as possible can find happiness in our families and friendly communities.

I do have things I'd like to accomplish this year, but I'm balancing that with the fact that life tends to get in the way quite a bit with me at the moment. If the Musician can get her driver's license this month, that will be a big help. I like having plans and goals to strive for; it keeps me motivated. But I'm going to keep them secret for now.

What's going on with you for 2014?