everybody’s working for the weekend

OK seriously, it’s 2 PM here PST and if you’re at a desk, it’s time to glaze your eyes surfing around at my assembled Friday links! The serious, introspective, serio-comic, and frivolous are all provided:

1. “Come On. Admit It!” Dial-a-Llama, or as one comment identifies: llamar una llama.

2. I’d previously seen images circulating of “The Perfect Body, As Illustrated By Olympic Athletes”; what an inspirational and informative photo-essay!

3. As a bisexual lady, I rather enjoyed this video primer: “The Bizarre World of the Bisexual” from MisterSharp.

4. Professor Kate Clancy pokes holes in evo psyche myopia in “Mate magnet madness: When the range of possible explanations exceeds your own hypothesis”; that last sentence in particular is a tangy zing! afterflavor following stellar sciencey radness.

5. This rant regarding Paper, Rock, Scissors reminds me of my brother, who I’ll bet has already thought about the logic (or lack therein) of the game.

6. Speaking of my brother, he sent me this “adorable cat image” (THE EYES).

7. For Cynthia and other fans: the Red Velvet Roundup via CRAFT. I currently have a triple-decker red velvet cooling on my counter. I’m told it’s not real Red Velvet Cake without the milk roux frosting. I’m just putting together cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla though, and I’ll bet any purists wouldn’t mind.

8. I quite enjoyed these: “Surreal Photos of Subway Cars Being Thrown Into the Ocean [Slideshow]”.

9. If you already know what’s fun and exciting about the phrase Orange Mocha Frappucino! – well now you can make them up at home!

10. Ani DiFranco’s homebirth, in her own words. FUCKING CHILLS, because of teh awesomez.

11. “Equals” – making the rounds a lot this week, the IWD PSA featuring Daniel Craig & Dame Judi Dench.

12. The New York Times reports on an alleged gang-rape and rightfully gets taken to task for the horrific way it does so: here is commentary by The Stranger in Seattle; here from PostBourgie. I’m glad people are working and speaking out about this form of reporting; I feel sad and cynical and rather pessimistic that men and women will reframe our victim-blaming societal discourse. I’m also hoping this girl and her family have strong support.

13. Ouyang Dan provides some resources regarding the Japan quake and tsunami.

14. Face/Off in Hecklevision” priemered earlier in the week. Oh dear Lord how I would have loved to go. In a similar vein, Rifftrax is releasing Highlander any minute. w00t!

15. National Geographic created a real-life version of the Up house. Adorable!

16. The Secular Homeschooler is shutting itself down. I s’pose that means I didn’t get my subscription’s worth, but I don’t much mind – except I will miss the awesomeness of the magazine. Deborah did a wonderful job in this publication; she and it will be missed.

But my all-time favorite video, link, etc. this week comes from “That Mitchell and Webb Look” through friend and reader Paige:

friday journey into hyper(link)space

“Faces of War” at Smithsonian.com
An incredibly sad, touching, and interesting story, including photos and video almost a century old.

Human Rights
“Spanking Traumatizes Children” by Laurie Couture
If there’s any link here I’m hoping my readers read, it’s this one. Whether you have a growing child, a grown child, or you do not have children, it is deeply relevant to our human condition. Moreover, it is probably the best piece I’ve read regarding spanking (and our concepts of “abuse” vs. socially-supported oppressive tactics on children). In fact it’s so good I’ve been intentionally curating this Friday links post to be more brief than usual, in hopes readers give this particular entry the consideration it deserves.

“Child Abuse is Not Funny & Cartoons Are Violent” by Wendy Priesnitz
I’d read many snarky opinions on the supposedly worthless venture of changing one’s Facebook profile pic to raise awareness of child abuse. Wendy’s piece is excellent, inclusive, intelligent, and doesn’t snark for snark’s sake. It’s perfect.

“The Disservice of a ‘Rigorous’ Education” by Steve Nelson at HuffPo
“At each end of the economic spectrum, we are pressing children harder and harder in the service of a ‘rigorous’ education […] Mariposa is not simply 37 pounds of raw material that wants a certain processing and finishing before she can be shipped to market and considered to have value. She is of value now, and if she dies of a disease or accident when she is 12 years old, the sixth year of her life will not as a result be robbed of meaning.”

Pop Culture
quick hit: how to meet ‘girls” IE respect the cock at Underbellie
I totally wrote this!

Soul-Sucking Science “Study” of the Week
“Pop psych mag cites evolutionary evidence for female fickleness”; Twisty has a great response to the recent Psychology Today piece “The Double Life of Women”. Still, as brilliant as Twisty is and as much as her words are like soothing nectar to my parched women’s lib pinko throat – I must offer a trigger warning with regards to the cited article: misogyny and rape-apologism; warnings also for unabashed oppositional sexism, mansplaining, and evo-psyche inanity.

“Here at Spinster HQ we were unable to locate any research on, for example, the fickleness of female flatworms. Maybe they like to sport around in spandex when it’s that time of the month, but published studies omit to mention it. So this guy, in his attempt to science-ize an enormously detrimental sexist stereotype, grossly mischaracterizes the scope of the planet’s animalian diversity to further his own anthrocentric worldview.”

Stick Weaving at Craft
Why is it I can picture so many of my crafty readers making some lovely stuff? I think this would be particularly pretty to have a group get together and adorn a tree thusly!

The Pocket Tissue Pack tutorial posted at Sew Mama Sew looked rather fun – quick, attractive, yes hardly a “must-have” needed item in one’s life but that’s okay too. Using two pieces of 6″ by 7″ fabric scraps is just my speed as, given how much I sew, I often have a lot of scraps. I donate many to a local charity shop at a low-income apartment complex, but I have a fair bit in my own supplies.

Food Dresses! ’nuff said.

Tweet of the Week
From @micwatt:
“I bet a duck could outrun me if I was chasing it, but I also think that if a duck was chasing me I could outrun the duck. Isn’t that wild?”

My brother explains: “It’s not just casually philosophical.  I think this is a very logical assumption.  It’s a psychology thing.  If you’re being chased by something you suspect wants to eat you, but they don’t really, you’ll try harder to escape than they will to catch. If you’re being chased by something you suspect wants to eat your soul, but they don’t really, you’ll try harder to escape than they will to catch and use their little bill to suck out your essence through your ear.”


For those of us who celebrate this time of year, I wish you peace and joy. Well, I wish that for those who aren’t celebrating too. My family celebrates Christmas / yuletide. It’s a wonderful time of planning and lots of creating (less buying). I can’t post much of anything because of prying eyes. This picture should suffice!

Editor note: Lately after I put tonnes* of work into the Friday links it seems readers have been coming along and posting a brief (or not) completely- or mostly-argumentative point to just ONE aspect of ONE of the articles without even a friendly handshake or reference to points of agreement, or other links. No one’s getting spanked and it’s just a whiff of a trend I’ve observed. I don’t want to turn off the comments on my Friday link posts. So as a measure to prevent that, may I suggest that if there’s something about an article that sticks in your craw and the only thing you can think to write here is a rebuttal to a specific aspect of one of these many articles I did not write, you can post your points in a separate blogpost of your own (which I will happily link to) and/or comment at the source instead (you can send me your comment link and I’ll post it here too). I’d like to keep the conversation interesting here and less niggle-y.

* see, in the metric system. That means it’s even MORE work that you might be thinking!

“science ponders about it, and all men are curious – but no one knows”

This Island Earth. “They’re pulling us up!” NO RLY?

Have I told you how much I want to make a big montage of Mansplainy moments in B-film? OH GOOD LORD would it be sweet. Ralph and I laugh and laugh when we see it (and our daughter does too). Like Dr. Frank C. Baxter!

P.S. they still do it in movies today. Also, same effect accomplished by: barely having any women in heroic and action film unless they’re a love (or lust) interest. BORRRRR-ring.

“science searches for answers”

Watching Phoenix watch “television” (Netflix on her laptop) is fascinating. She typically views science shows and BBC – right now she’s watching “MonsterQuest”. As she watches she flips browser windows and Googles and looks up photographs and information on Wikipedia, etc. It’s a highly active process, not at all the zoning-out zombieville Americans love to claim all American children are doing, all the time.

She has a brain like a steel trap (it runs in the family; my father had it, I have/had it but I’ve since half-deteriorated mine with booze and Will Ferrell movies). For a long time her favorite book was Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book – she’d take it on roadtrips and such and just pore through it. I’m sure it would still be in rotation but it was, sadly, one of the casualties of our aquatic-car (note to self: get her an “new” copy for Christmas; extra note to self, at any point she may start reading your blog so quit discussing surprise-plans ahead of time). So anyway, we’ll be taking a walk in the woods and suddenly she’ll tell me how to apply a square elbow bandage or instruct me on which mosses are edible. Don’t worry, I don’t remember any of this. I just figure to keep the kids close when the apocalypse comes. I think they’ll be wilier than most.

Ralph took some kids out up to the wet and rainy cemetery trails; they made a little video:



Guess what I didn’t do today, or yesterday, or (arguably) Saturday? Take care of myself properly. My body, my mind, my spirit. Ralph and I worked hard all weekend and I didn’t rest like I promised myself I would; I didn’t feed myself the foods that help me feel better. Today I woke severely hungover (rare for me) – we’re talking dizzy and almost nauseated. It was bad enough I elected not to go for a run (although a run sounded fabulous and sweaty and detoxing; I took the Internetz’ advice I was dehydrated and shouldn’t do it): tomorrow, then. I also did not eat food until 4 PM. I was just doing so much other awesome stuff.

The weekend was unrestful because I was working my wide, flat ass off in making something happen for my kiddos, and that is: an organized space with proper lighting and some chairs (I’ve mentioned previously they had one wee kiddie desk and chair I got for $10 at a garage sale; their books were stacked on the floor). I’ve been meaning to do this for some time but something special happened (more in a minute) so I scrumped and worked to make it a reality:

IKEA something-or-other

Art / Light

Large Table

In that bottom photo, see that on the desk? It’s a microcsope; a lovely one sent to me by reader T. and completely, thoroughly awesome. I had one as a child and I loved it so much. My brother still has its metal skeleton and says he’s going to have it fixed! This one is nicer than our beloved ‘scope of yesteryear, but very similar. Both kids have been enjoying it and Phoenix instinctively knew how to use it (or she’d read about it); I’m pretty sure she hadn’t used one before. I’m going to NERDILY be all over the internet looking for additional slide kits.

Such a lovely, lovely gift.

Oh and I love Nels’ acrylic painting on the right: “Clam”. No one bought it in our recent art showing. Their loss, my gain.

Oatcakes & roll-ups & roasted garbanzo beans (P.S. my friend J. and I are looking for more appetizing name than “chard roll-up” if you have one; click the picture for the ingredient list):

Oatcakes Of Goodness

Do you feel like reading somethings thinky and internetty? Two articles from today; one I wrote for Underbellie (many links and I’d love it if you followed at least those in the body of the article); also an anecdotal and very sweet piece on advice to NOT give homeschoolers. Or schooling families. Marianne Kirby hit it out of the park with two posts on her blog; a brief and relevant foray into “manliness”, and a longer entreaty on the necessary and hard work of deconstructing body self-loathing.

What’s a girl gotta do to get a rest around these parts? Prolly stop behaving as if she never needs one.

a third the size of us

First, one of our favorite bits of dialogue from one of our favorite comedies:


I wish you had the visual for the look on Burgundy’s face (as played by Will Ferrell) when he says, “It’s science.” Blustery, nostril-flaring contempt. And swimming in his eyes: fear. Deep fear.

Our daughter has been interested in “science” lately – leaning toward chemistry – and has been mixing bathroom supplies to make various lotions, soaps, and hair products. Last night she asked me for advice in making a more successful shampoo. I explained emulsions to her and told her since we didn’t have access to nor wanted to use some of the typical synthetics in storebought products (even the organic/Trader Joe’s shampoo that had been gifted to us contained a huge host of massively-long chemical names), our shampoo might look a little different than the creamy samples she was used to seeing on the shelves. I found her a recipe online that involved only a few simple ingredients and we made note of these.

Here’s the thing: Phoenix is subtle. She isn’t like her brother who will tell me he wants a unicycle and if I don’t pay attention he’ll be out in the garage firing up a jigsaw to do some surgery on his bike. There are aspects of my two children’s personalities that make it easier and harder for me to do right by them; in Phoenix’s case, if I don’t take her up on her interests she lets them go by the wayside. And often they do because like in many families the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I’m trying to pay more attention but I don’t always do well with subtlety.

She is also only too conscious of our family’s financial resources and is quick to defer on what she wants if it costs more than a few dollars. So in today’s purchases of castille soap, lemon essential oil, and a pump dispenser (we had the rosemary and sweet almond oil at home already) my daughter’s eyes took in the costs and flickered up to me in doubt. I purchased them, firmly. A commitment to her ideas.

Tonight she did the math to made a quadruple batch and we steeped the rosemary while she and Nels ate strawberries and bananas over pound cake and doused in whipped cream.  We measured the shampoo ingredients one-by-one into the dispenser; a lovely, fragrant mixture now adorns the side of our bathtub.  Her hair smells like lemons and lavendar and is squeaky-clean and shiny.

My husband tells the children I used to be a scientist. That’s right, a Woman Scientist. Of course I was more accurately an engineer – a chemical engineer to be precise. Much of my education involved heavy-duty math, chemistry, and lab work. This stuff was “difficult” but it was also simple, looking back. In school you did what people told you to and got what you were supposed to and if you didn’t you tried to write out why, to scurry for a grade. It felt pressured at the time but also weirdly dissatisfying and dull; there was no “discovery” or true originality in the schoolwork and there was little meaningful person-to-person interfacing (most of my fellow students seemed primarily interested in long-term goals of scoring high-paying jobs and owning a home and a new fast car, fer realz). School was a bit alienating, although I performed well enough.

It’s no wonder I liked the world of Work much more. Work was messy and involved people who could be assholes or ineffective (or both) and scary creaky equipment and old pumps that didn’t quite work and antiquated systems and old codgers and occasionally snooty college-educated white collar folk who thought they were smarter (better) than everyone else (I think the fact I wasn’t an arrogant ass in this regard went a long way towards my acceptance and success in the field).  I did love the world of Work and if I hadn’t started a family I’d likely be still involved in something very similar and I’d probably be kicking ass at it. It’s funny to think about.

I’m not sure if my own children will ever know what it meant to me that I was a SCIENTIST and a good one. They certainly believe I’m capable of just about anything. That’s probably pretty good for them. For me their love is like being a small God. Powerful, beautiful, but also a bit scary and Omniscient.

I can live with that.

“I’m a scientist – I don’t believe in anything!”

As a young girl it seemed most of the adults in my life told me I was smart.*  Teachers, family, members of the community.  And I believed it, I suppose.  I got good grades and most things came easily to me.  Now, thirty-two years old and with a family and adult responsibilities – and an awareness of my own relative privilege in the world – I don’t feel smart anymore, not especially.  I notice, though, my thought processes are considered interesting to many, and I’ve often been told by people in my life they “like the way my mind works” (often with the caveat of “even if I don’t agree with everything you say,” which I plan to write more about in a later blog entry).

To get on topic: I wish I could express to you, dear readers, how much I love a good (bad?) B-movie, especially science fiction, and how much these films are food to my brain and imagination and probably have a heck of a lot to do with “the way my mind works”.  And although I’ll watch modern B-movies – and even occasionally dabble in the larger-budget efforts that trot out B-movie tropes, they’re never quite as good as the original thingContemporary send-ups, as long as they take themselves seriously in the details and homage, are also appreciated and well-loved in Casa del Hogaboom.

Last night the family and I watched the Roger Corman-directed science fiction film X: The Man with the X Ray Eyes.  We all enjoyed it very much.  Ralph liked the story – which was relatively straight-forward and spooky – and thought the film could benefit from a re-make (I agree).  The kids enjoyed the creepiness, the “science” (in that way they’re following in my footsteps) and the easy-to-follow storyline.  I liked watching Ray Milland, an actor now gone who starred in two of my favorite films.  In X he was able to class up his role considering it has pretty laughable aspects to it – like when he assaults a fellow surgeon in the operating room but they still allow him to operate afterwards, for example.  He even brought a little – a tiny bit – of dignity to the otherwise sexist and silly naked-partygoers-by-virtue-of-xray-vision scene.

But like so many B- and Z-movies, in Milland’s performance as Dr. Xavier we are gifted with what I call the Arrogant White Male Scientist, a man who with ambitious intentions goes to explore some unknown part of the world or perhaps discovers some monster heretofore unknown to man (or re-discovers it)** – or maybe he’s a Regular Scientist Guy who ends up called upon as the last hope to save our planet from an invading menace (note: today’s popular version of this sci-fi hero fella are less science-y and more, running-around-with-shirt-off-and-using-a-big-gun-y).  Usually the guy is for the forces of Good, like Peter Graves’ character in It Conquered the World.  Sometimes he’s a sleazeball, like Phillip Terry in The Leech Woman.  Or like Mr. Milland’s Dr. Xavier, he’s basically a good guy (if a bit egotistical and entitled) but goes a bit too far and bad things happen to him.  One thing about him: when called upon a new situation, he always somehow knows a bunch of bullshitty “facts”, and whether discussing real or fictional science he speaks condescendingly to everyone else in the room who for some reason accepts this sort of douchey behavior.

I love the character of the Arrogant White Male Scientist dearly.  Because I used to be in the Sciences (Chemical Engineering, to be precise) and there’s still a lot of Arrogant White Male to go around.  Besides, in the real of B-movie “science”, the lines are just so damned silly.  Sometimes I forget though how the AWMS looks to those with new eyes, like my daughter, who intently watched the first few minutes of the film:

“That’s light,” Dr. Xavier says to the comely Dr. Fairfax, as he pulls the blinds open and turns toward her. “Waves of energy that excite the eye.  And the nerve cells transmit this energy to the brain.  And with the brain, we see.”

At this my daughter Sophie turns to me and asks politely, “Oh, so she doesn’t know anything?” Which is pretty damned funny: the Arrogant White Male Scientist talks to people – even fellow physicians – as if they had less knowledge of the world than the average seven year old (and, may I add, considerably better manners to be treated in this way).

My 5 year old son Nels, on the other hand, watched the film with a lot of intensity and interest for the gooey details: he loved the creepy eyeball in the first shot of the film, and the concept of being able to see through walls, flesh, glass, one’s own eyelids.  But about 70% of the way through the film he’d quieted for some time.  At the Vegas scene he turned to me and asked seriously, “But can he see through hats?”

You know, those motherfucking hats.  Which so often foil our plans.

* P.S. Parents, stop telling your kids they are “smart”, unless it’s a compliment you give out freely and often to most people.  “Smart” kids end up being lazy and entitled and thinking they’re better than everyone else.  To borrow a quote from a schmaltzy film I dislike but the rest of America seems to love, “Smart is as smart does.”

** Readers with a knowledge of these films – I find John Agar to be one of the more repellent versions of AWMS if you ask me. Peter Graves was a bit cute.  Your thoughts?

pictures courtesy of weirdbeard

Life the last week.

Sr. Mysterioso is my kitchen muse. He watches all with a knowing smile.

My son was very grumpy when he woke up from his nap the day after Billy’s arrival. Yes, I cut his hair recently. He is now looking more like a boring-arsed Little Boy instead of my fey little elf-maiden.

1 dinosaur suit and a snack later, he was good to go.

Evening: pumpkin carving ala Ralph. Who is that lurking on the attic stairs?

On Wednesday my brother, daughter and I journied to the Serpentarium in Monroe, Wa.

The mamba is my favorite snake. Because I picked it that way after a couple lines in one of my favorite novels.

Of course Sophie handled snakes. Gee, you think? She was a blur of light for one hour, racing around the room and looking at everything. Many specimens that would eat her if given half a chance.

The alligator snapped at my brother and I think he peed his pants a little, but he wouldn’t admit it.

This thing has the face of evil. The head is pretty much life-size in this picture – about 4 1/2 inches across. And it had two-inch fangs. I liked snakes more before I saw this one.

Back at home, at the park. One block from our house. My kids are running at me about to jump on me in that way where their foot hits me in the groin, etc.

Today’s word: GLOBSTER.