I’m a big liar. My mom was doing terribly today. she spent an hour petting Christi and trying to say “nice doggie.”
Everytime I start Internet Explorer, my system preferences are set so that it is my default browser, even though I keep telling I want OmniWeb as my default. And it keeps changing the homepage back to that terrible netscape.com home page for apple users. I hate that page. I like OmniWeb. Something is amiss.
I’ve been dividing the world into two groups, crazy and not-crazy. Toay I spent time with people who are definitely not-crazy. They’re boring. Maybe the world should be divided into crazy and boring. I’d rather be crazy than boring, although there’s a lot to be said for being functional.
there’s nothing like hanging out with people you went to highschool with to remind you why you hated highschool. Or you could just read the front page San Jose Mercury News coverage of it. Since I graduated eight years ago, three of the teachers who were there while I was there were dismissed for sexual-harrassment related complaints. And that’s just the ones I know about. My sophomore religion teacher was suddenly fired. The rumor mill said sexual harassment. At least it wasn’t in the paper. Then a few months ago, my freshman english teacher was arrested for alledgedly fondling a student. Now last week, the volleyball coach, who I never had as a teacher is front-page news. Apparently, he commented on student’s breast sizes, among his other offenses. I wish I could say that it’s not something I could see coming out of a male teacher’s mouth.
Saint Francis HS used to be two schools, Holy Cross Girl’s HighSchool and Saint Francis Boys. Then they decided to merge the new schools. they sold off the girls school, got rid of the school’s identity and fired all the nuns. the boys school legacy is very much stll present at SF. The school’s chief rival is still an all-boys school. SF lives and dies by sports and rivalries are extremely important. It shows how much girls athletics mattetred when the glaring abscence of a rivalry is pronounced. Still, apparently they mattered enough to force players with stress-fractures to play anyway. My classes were full of people with shin-splints that were playing through them.
My classes also often had clueless male teachers. SF is a private school, so accreditation is not required. A cultural legacy lingers from the all-boys days and sports are very important, which means a permissive attitude towards misbeahving jocks – especially botys. Add this to a conservative Catholic philosophy and you’ve got trouble. My sophmore english teacher told my class that it was impossible to graduate from Bellarmine (the boys school who was our sports rival) without being homophobic. He also told us that his cousin’s friend’s roomate (or some other doubtful chain of people) knew the doctor who removed a gerbil from Richard Gere’s butt. My freshman religion teacher, who was also a football coach and may have not been an accreditted teacher, tolf my class that god destroyed soddom and Gemorrah to kill the faires and fags. Yet another religion teacher spoke about aging his sperm properly to get his wife pregnant. He explained that you can’t have sex every day, you need to make sure your sperm is mature. He, a white married guy, also claimed to understand discrimination because once somebody on a bus spit on him and called him a faggot.
I wish I could say I remeber a specific sexist comment where a teacher said something about a girl, but I can’t. One of the issues was the dress code. Girls had to wear skirts that reacheed their knees. Quite often, girls would wear skirts that did not fully comply with this requirement. This created an atmosphere where the length of girls’ skirts were fair game. Teachers would talk about girls in short skirts. They would be on the lookout for dress code violations. We heard rumors of a ritual where girls with skirts that might not be long enough would be asked to kneel to see if their hem touched the floor.
Jokes were made about this. Clearly it’s impossible to learn in an enviroment where your skirt is an inch too short. I think it’s possible that this issue contributed to an enviroment where male teachers felt it their right and duty to remark upon girls skirts and thus their physical attributes in general. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. Certainly the problem I was preoccupied with was homophobia. I do have some stories about substitutes.
My sophomore biology teacher was out sick and a substitute who knew nothing about biology was there. He was showing us slides of the Black Forrest from his vacation in Germany. At some point, he stood behind the most attractive girl in the class and started rubbing her shoulders. She stood, whirled around, and said firmly, “Do not put your hands on me!” Then when class let out, she went to the principal’s office and the substitute was promtly sent packing. another time, I had a religion sub who spent most of his time working for Catholic charities. He worked with AIDS aptients. He knew that the highschool had problems with homophobia, so he instructed us not to hate or fear gay people, instead they deserve our sympathy. I remember arguing angrily with him.
The last noteworthy substitute was a borther with the order that ran my highschool. He was just visitting the area and helping substitute. Normally, he taught at our sister school in Columbia. He was probably also a religion substitute. He told us about how in that city there were two Catholic schools. both were free, but one was for poor students and the other, our sister school, was for rich students. He also described how both schools aided the government in helping uncover leftist students and turning them in if they were abscent because of political work. I stopped paying attnetion tohim at some point because I was doign homework for another class and because I was going to argue with him. It was unsurprising to learn that my highschool was partnered with crimes against humanity.
the moral of this story is that religion classes are at best a joke and at worst a scarring experience. the other moral is to avoid schools which have strong sports programs unless you are in dire need of an athletic scholarship. the third is to beward of conservative Catholics and remeber that it’s not just priests who should be kept away from teensagers. Any male catholic may have problems with authority over youth.
this reminds me of my old youth group leader, but I’ll save that slander for a later time.
In fairness, I should relate a story told by my senior honors english teacher. He had an open-door policy where students could always come to him. Well, one time a girl came to him and said her father (or some adult male in her family) was abusing her. The teacher aided her in reporting this to the authorities and ended up participating in the trial against the abuser. The lawyer for the abuser suggested that because the teacher and the student were alone togther, the teacher had abused the student. What saved the teacher from this charge against him was his habit of always opeining his blinds when he was in the room with someone. So when she came in to talk to him, he opened the blinds. So he couldn’t have abused her with people walking right outside. Anyway she said he didn’t. So teachers from my high school have been unjustly accused. My senior English teacher was actually an intelligent guy and a goos teacher. But so was my freshman english teacher, who went to jail. I just hope that harassment and abuse was the exception and not the norm. I wonder who else will be arrested, fired suddenly or the subject of front page news.

Feedback

Mitch says that I should just hold my dog over the toilet when she has to go for a walk. Or train her to pee in the toilet on command. I tried training her to pee on command, but only half heartedly and it didn’t work. One of my cats decided to use the toilet for a while, instead of the litter box. We didn’t train her to do this, we just cleaned the litterbox infrequently. It lead to hosuemate arguments about who wasn’t flushing. Since we didn’t train her to use the toilet, we didn’t train her to flush either. Then we moved and she stopped doing this trick.
Timananana says that she wants to be able to comment on my posts. I think this is a birlliant idea. I was all set to download slashdot code, when cola said that livejournal.com supports comments and is open source. cool. I don’t have time to check it out until monday, but I’ll definitely check it out.

I did not post yesturday because I went to see the San Francisco Opera. We bought season tickets and this was the second opera, Aidriane auf Naxos by Strauss. It’s uh, very odd. It’s a backstage opera for the first half, much like a backstage musical. the second half shows the opera that results from the first half. A bunch of cahracters from the first part don’t appear in the second, so a bunch of people bow at intermission, which is highly unusual (I think. It’s not like I’ve seen all that many operas). I notice that if you have a bunch of people on stage in the same range, it’s hard to tell who is singing what. But that might be just because we have the second worst seats in the entire house. We have four seats next to the wall in the second to last row of the highest level.
My mom was doing well yesturday. I went early because of the opera. Margie, my mom’s attendant, always tells me that mom is much better around 1:00, so I arrived around 1:00 and mom was much better. Her words made sence. She wasn’t hallucinating (which she was on wednessday). She wasn’t in pain or on pain medication. Pretty groovy.

it is time for me to go sit with my dying mother. i didn’t go yesturday. there was no good reason. i used to do six days a week and take mondays off, but my wife complained that she went to work five days a week and had to sit with my mom the other two, and she wanted a break. so now i take sundays off, which is fine except now i have no time for myself at all. i have mornings. but i’m not a morning person and i certainly can’t immerse myself in a project the way i’d like to. i’m definitely an afternoon person. it’s not like “having a life” is important to me the way it is for some teenagers who want to have a life because their parents don’t. Well, my mom has a life but just barely. the expiration date is on the horizon. every day i don’t see her is a day that i don’t see her.
one of her friends called up and told my mom’s attendant that they all already thought of her as dead because she’s doing so poorly. obviously, she’s not yet dead. but goodness, i have a hard time being there too. how can i be angry at them neglecting her death bed wehn i use the same rationalizations? when i saw her on monday, she was surprised everytime i spoke because she would forget i was there or something, even tho i was right next to her and she was looking at me. or maybe my voice was frightening, since the temporal lobe deals with fear and her temporal lobe is full of tumor. it’s easy to decide she must have forgotten i was there and therefore doesn’t benefit from my visits and anyway i have music to write.
she’s on oxygen because she breathes laboriously while sleeping and thus her sleep isn’t restful. it’s not prolonging her life. i haven’t posted it yet to her blog because i don’t know how to explain it in a way that won’t frighten away all her friends. oxygen is a harbringer of death. it doesn’t matter. they’re all frightened away anyway.
Everyone you know is going to die, including yourself. you may be next, you may not. Some of these people will go suddenly, others will be sick like my mom. this is a good place to exercize the golden rule. You can say to yourself, “oh, i wouldn’t want people to see me like that.” how very vain of you to say so, but many do. yes, i’m sure you’d rather end your life surrounded by strangers and machines. or would you rather have someone you cared about holding your hand? i thought so.
Somebody on a mailing list i’m on just died of cancer. We were informed. folks were emailing out emssages to him that were passed along. People were saying things like, “don’t die. you have a lot of music to write.” i understand where that comes from, but he’s going to die. piling on unfinished buisiness seems to be the wrong thing to do. so my mom’s friends at the museum are thinking, “don’t die, you have a lot of docent tours left to do.” and when they figure out that she has zero docent tours left, well, maybe she’s already dead. This isn’t what life is about. and as an extenstion it certainly isn’t what death is about. Yes, we all fear it and try to avoid it. Or at least, we ought to try to avoid it. but it’s going to happen. which is a better thing to say to a dying person, “don’t die! (it’s scary!)” or “i’ll miss you.”? you know the answer to this. Now go see your sick friends while you still can. It’s hard to talk to somebody with oxygen tubes, but it’s harder to talk to a headstone.
Those are strong words, aren’t they? But I still haven’t left yet. Everytime I skip a day she’s worse. She’s worse anyway, but then she’s 48 hours worse instead of 24 hours worse. There’s a noticable difference. It’s scary going to see her and knowing she’ll be worse.
People have this idea about death, where dead people get to keep their memories. My mom’s memory is clearly the result of some sort of tissue thing. Now it’s gone. even if she spontaneously went into remission tommorrow, her memories wouldn’t come back. And yet they’re suppossed to be restored after all her tissue is destroyed. Furthermore, some folks expect her to gain additonal knowledge. Dead folks know what happened to Hoffa maybe? No. they’re dead. People are the result of biological processes. when those processes cease, there’s no more person. nobody will know after death why you’re sorry you didn’t come see them. They won’t finally approve you. they won’t do anything because they will be dead.
No wonder atheists are are sad at funerals.

baby

My friend is having a baby in February or so, which means all of her friends are busy debating what ought to be done with the baby. By that I mean exactly how this child ought to be raised. What should it be named? How shall it be housebroken, those sorts of things. She’s the first in this clique to have a baby, so the rest of us are full of the opinions of childless people. One of the debates lately is cloth vs disposable diapers.
Those in the disposable diapers, let’s-use-more-petroleum-products-and-fill-up-the-landfills camp point out that diaper services are wasteful water-wise and cleaning out your own diapers is a lot of work, which is messy and germy. therefore, after some thought, I have devised the non-wasteful diaper algorythm.
Ok, so your precious little darling is crying and smells yucky. You slip on some latex gloves (use natural latex if your a super green with a lot of money) and clean up your precious little darling and put on a new diaper. You then take the old diaper to the nearest bathroom and slosh it around in the toilet until it could reasonably be described as “rinsed.” you think this is discusting, I know you do. you’re thinking, “no you take it to the trash and are done with it.” well, I’ll admit it, I was raised on disposable diapers (I’m not proud) and my mom told me that it was necessary to remove the lining and flush it down the toilet since raw sewage does not belong in the trash. Was she correct? I dunno, but users of disposable have done these steps anyway. How much extra work is it really?
anyway, having sloshed the dirty diaper in the toilet, you then throw it in your handy bucket of soapy water along with anything else that’s soiled from disper changing. this bucket has a tight fitting lid. You snap the lid back on. You take off the gloves. you go back to your life. you don’t spend time thinking about the diapers until it is time to do laundry. then you grab the bucket with your hanper and head over to your washing machine. you have a washing machine because you are owning class. Sorry, I don’t have such easy instructions for the non-owning classes. Owning class people get all the breaks.
Anyway, as a childless person, it is my impression that babies produce a lot of laundry. there’s the crib liners to be washed, and the diapers and the baby clothes and the wipes and the endless towels and the five shirts of yours to have been thrown up on and all of your normal laundry and everything els ethe baby has gotten slime on. Babies are slimy. there’s always something oozing out of one end or another. with that much slime, you’ve got a lot of laundry.
So start your first load of laundry. You have two of them. Just make one a small load. You want to wash the diapers seperately anyway. Ok, so you put more glvoes on after starting the first load and remove the dirty diapers from the bucket and put them in a large canning pot. you have the canning pot on top of a hotplate or other small stove which is on top of a heat-resistant tile, which is on top of your front loading dryer or your front loading washer. The large canning pot is filled with soapy water. You put the soiled diapers and wipes in it and put the lid on and bring it to a boil. Your other load of laundry is going at this time, so your time isn’t really being wasted. After a couple of times, you’ll know how long it takes for this boil, so you won’t need to sit and watch it. It should boil for ten minutes, or fifteen if you really fear germs.
I know you’re thinking about boiling poop. You want no part of this. That’s because you, fellow childless one are thinking about boiling your own poop. This is baby poop we’re talking about. They only eat milk. Their poop is different from ours. It won’t smell that bad. And besides, it was oozed from your precious darling. anyway, once you know how long it takes to boil and you can be assured it won’t boil over, you are free to leave during a lot of this process.
So you return to your boiling diapers and find that the first load of laundry is done! Yay! after ascertaining that your diapers have boiled adequately long, remove them from heat, or at least turn off the heat. Remove the lid. Start putting your cleaned clothes in the dryer. Now that you clothes are in the dryer, you have no excuse for further delay. Ok, so you have heat resistant tongs and you pull the contents out of the pot and add them to your front or top-loading washer. Or, if you have a top laoding washer, you have the option of starting the wash cycle and waiting for some water to get into it. Then dump the whole pot in. The cold water protects the washer from the hot water. It’s just like brewing beer. Anyway, the diapers are in the washer. You add some natural laundry soap (do you want to subject your baby’s behind to harsh detergents?) and you run the wash and then after the wash, they go in the dryer. they are clean, germ-free and ready for use. If you used tongs to move the diapers, you have a pot of hot wash water. You can dump it down the drain or you can use it as grey water. all the germs are dead from boiling, but you’re still a cautious sort, so you pour it on your non-food producing plants. They love the fetilizer content and thrive. Really.
Up to this point you’ve used no harsh chemicals or bleach and your baby’s behind and the enviroment have been protected. but now we get to the bucket of soapy water with the tight-fitting lid. Actually, we shoud have gottento it earlier, right after it was emptied. It needs to be returned to service. It must be cleaned and disinfected. At this point, bleach may be employed. One tablespoon of bleach to five gallons of water kills everything. That’s not that much bleach. But since you’re green, you can try oxygen bleach or iodine. It’s just like brewing beer. The cleaned bucket is returned upstairs and filled with soapy water to await more dirty diapers.
See! It’s easy! Not that much extra work a day. And us childless folks are anxious to help out those with new babies. We’ll gladly sweep your floor while you deal with dirty cloth diapers. Well, some of us will be more useful than others wen it comes to helping. some of us may just provide invaluable advice. It’s clear that the real strategy to employ to save the earth around diapers is diaper-use reduction. you won’t find this in Dr. Spock. Well, maybe you will, I’ve never read him.
I read in an anthropology book that some groups of people train their infants to pee on command. That whole delay in potty training is about poop. Anyway, you probably can’t train an infant to hold it when s/he has to go, but it you order them to pee frequently enough, you won’t have to. just hold your kid over a sink, tiolet, bucket or your neighbor’s patio and order them to pee. The tribe in question used a whistling command. Don’t use the same whistle you use to call your dog. I have no idea how you would go about training your baby in this fashion, so it’s left as an exercize for the reader.
But pee isn’t the real problem here, it is? Well, it’s no surprise when babies poop. They always do it right after eating. Maybe some other times too, but always after eating. Just perch them on a bucket or potty chair after feeding them and wait for them to go. you could cut your diaper use tremendously. The tribe I read about in my one anthropology class didn’t use diapers at all and their babies slept in bed with them. they could anticipate when the bay had to go and put it in the right place. Doesn’t that sound better than diapers? Keep them as backup, but make that baby go in more convient location and you won’t have to boil poop nearly as often.
This is papublic service message broguth to you by Procrastination Productions