Monthly Archives: June 2012

Sick and tired, for real!

I keep getting very sleepy mid afternoon at work. Then, each night this week I have gone to sleep at least an hour earlier than usual. Last night it was nearly three hours early.

And then I over slept this morning and had to scramble to get to work.

My symptoms have merely been “bad hayfever” all week, and given the steadily rising pollen count, that’s to be expected. But Sunday’s symptoms were clearly a cold, so I’m assuming I am still carrying a low level infection that is mostly being lost in the noise of the hay fever. Except for the sleepiness part.

Oh, and yesterday I kept making stupid little mistakes at work. All day. So today I’m making little checklists for everything. It slows me down. But I am ahead of schedule on all my current projects, so slowing down to quadruple-check things for a couple of days isn’t going to hurt anything.

This has had the side effect of not leaving me much time in the evening to attack my writing problem or to finish the Omnibus layout I need to complete. Or collect that software I need to send to Mom.


Not writer’s block

I’ve been stuck on several stories for a few months. I write some lines of dialogue in one, but it just doesn’t gel into a scene. So I try another set of characters, and suddenly I have a complete scene… Except it isn’t part of this story, or not obviously so, so I stick it in the fragments file and move on.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So now I’m at the stage where I’m reading all those disconnected scenes and asking myself if this is a completely different story that wants telling. So far, I don’t quite see it.

I’ve been increasingly tempted to significantly rewrite the incomplete tales in question. My usual rule is that I can’t rewrite a scene until I’ve written a new one. Otherwise I fall into a never ending loop of rewriting the existing bit, instead of finishing it.

Time to pull out a new trick…

Can’t prove a negative…

An oft repeated truism is,”You can’t prove a negative” by which people usually mean that it’s impossible to prove that something does not exist. This is a retooling of another old saying: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Many people believe it is a law of logic.

It’s not. And it isn’t true outside of logic, either.

In most legal systems a form of this principle exists, though it’s usually expressed as a burden of proof argument: the defense doesn’t have to prove that their client didn’t do it, they just have to show that the prosecution hasn’t conclusively proven that the client did do it. However, that doesn’t mean that the defense isn’t allowed to go the extra mile. If the defense can prove that another person actually committed the crime, for instance, or if they prove that it was physically impossible for their client to have done it, they have proven a negative.

In mathematics we have proof by impossibility, which is another form of proving the negative. And in logic you can use a rule of inference called “denying the consequent” to prove other kinds of negatives.

So the next time someone accuses someone of something horrid with little evidence, and replies to any arguments by saying, “you can’t prove it didn’t happen!” Point out that they have the burden of proof wrong: the accuser is the one who has something to prove. The rest of us just have to raise reasonable doubts…

Why I hate hay fever reason #5321

I have hay fever. Lots of people do. When I was last assessed by an allergist, the verdict was that it was only mild to moderately severe, depending. Most people with hay fever are allergic to only a few species or categories of pollen.

Not me.

I seem to be allergic to every pollen, spore, and mold there is. Which means that in Seattle’s climate, hay fever season runs from mid- February through mid-December. And even longer if we have an especially mild winter.

So during this time of year I have congested sinuses 7 days a week. It would also be sinus headaches 7 days a week if not for my prescription allergic medication. As it is, I have sinus headaches, itchy eyes, and so forth, a couple days out of every week. Usually brought on by an increase in overall pollen count or simply a new species coming into bloom.

In other words, I feel as if I’m coming down with a cold every single day.

Which means I never know I’m sick (and thus possibly contagious) until many days after it starts.

Sunday morning we both had really bad sinus headaches. I’d had severe enough symptoms to require over-the-counter cold tablets on top of my usual meds for three days leading up to Sunday. Sunday was much worse, as there were also body aches and no energy. I kept falling asleep throughout the day. Which meant I was monopolizing the shared washer and dryer downstairs all day, because I was late to swap out loads again and again.

At one point I felt as if my head was horribly sick–all swollen, itchy, and feverish feeling?–while my body had another ailment altogether, achey and cold, oh, so cold. As if I were a member of the species of the king and queen of the moon from Baron Munchhausen with detachable heads.

I don’t know if I’d been able to do anything different if I had known sooner I was sick. But I’d like to think so…


Several years ago I wrote descriptions of three parades I’d attended in Seattle. The Seafair Torchlight Family Parade had been full of drunkenness, near-nudity (and more than a few flashed nipples and butts), and many floats built around a sexual innuendo or erotic pun. The Fremont Arts Council Solstice Parade had featured (as it does every year) the nude bicyclists, among other things. While the Pride Parade that year had had a lot of families, several church groups, fully-clothed people dancing, one large group with their adorable Corgi dogs… and in general a lot less nudity and sexual innuendo than I had seen the year before at the Seafair Family parade.

Which isn’t to say there wasn’t nudity and innuendo, along with brightly-colored feathers, beads, and way more body glitter than you can imagine. But the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Parade and Freedom Day March (if I am correctly recalling what the official title was that year) contained a lot less flaunting of sexuality than either of the other two.

Another big difference between the Pride Parade and those others is a tradition that’s been around since the very first: as the parade goes by, members of the community that have been watching step off the curb and join, performing the simple (yet significant) act of walking up the street proclaiming that you refuse to keep hiding in the closet. That’s how a dozen fully clothed people with Gay Pride signs who started marching up New York City’s Fifth Avenue that June morning in 1970 became a crowd of thousands of Gay men and Lesbians by the time it reached Central Park.

It’s not the same closet that each of us is refusing to return to. The first time I joined the march, I was only at the, “I’m not sure where I fit, exactly, but I know I’m not heterosexual and I’m ready to stop hiding” stage. A couple years later I was at the “Yeah, I’m Gay or Queer or whatever you call it; You have a problem with that?” Then I mellowed to the “Yep! I’m Gay!” which quickly became “What do you mean, you didn’t know we’re Gay?”

Others march to say, “I’m way too fabulous for any label!” While others march to say, “People I knew and loved have died, but I’ve survived, and I will not let you forget them!” or “No matter how many times you beat me down, I’m standing back up!” Others join the march to say, “I’m not gay or bisexual or any of those things, but people I love are, and if you have a problem with them, then you’ve got a problem with me!”

And because there are people who do have problems with us, because kids are bullied (sometimes to death) just because other people think they might be one of us, because we’ve come so far, because we’ve still got battles before us, because each and every person is a miracle, because no one should be ashamed to love, we need to keep having these parades.

So, let’s celebrate!

That agenda thing, again

(I’m posting so much gay-related stuff because it’s Pride Week, a.k.a. the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, often considered the beginning of the modern gay/lesbian/bi/queer/transgender rights movement. I’ll get back to my usual observations on more trivial topics next week, promise)

Some years ago I wrote an essay, “What agenda?” in which, among other things, I listed my own agenda, not feeling I could speak for anyone else. I still think that’s a pretty good list of goals. Especially the part about making pie for people. Pie makes just about everything better, after all.

Lately certain people have been reading in public a document which they claim is the actual gay agenda, and it’s pretty horrid stuff. The thing is, the list originated as a joke–a joke on the very sorts of people misinformed enough or paranoid enough (or both) to believe that such a document exists. The original article identifies itself explicitly as satire, though the people quoting it now always leave that part out.

In short, they are lying.

Continue reading That agenda thing, again

Failing to learn from history…

Growing up in Southern Baptist Churches (though not, technically, in the South), I was taught that the denomination was formed during the Civil War. Because there was an actual war going on, annual conventions couldn’t meet. Also, I was told, a lot of the northern churches were mixed up in politics and had been looking for an excuse to ditch the southern churches who were more concerned with missionary work.

Later, I learned that almost every last one of those details was utterly false.

The Southern Baptist Churches split off from the nationwide Triennial Baptist Convention 15 years prior to the Civil War. The primary reason they split was that the Southern Churches were pro-slavery. They were extremely pro-slavery, arguing that God picked which people were born one race or another because he knew which ones needed to be subservient, and which needed to be in charge. Most of the people who attended Baptist churches in the North were anti-slavery, and thought that all humans, being God’s children, should be equal before the law.

Continue reading Failing to learn from history…

Semi autobiographical

I once read a book review that began, “If I have to read one more semi-autobiographical novel about a gay boy coming of age in the rural south, I’m going to scream.”

I know the feeling.

And I say this as a someone who was a gay boy growing up in a rural setting. It was the Rocky Mountain states, rather than the south, but it was also in the Southern Baptist Church. Plus, the tiny town where I was born (and later returned to attend middle school) was—due to economic and historical circumstances too complex to go into at this juncture—inhabited almost entirely by people who were either from the south, or their parents were. Which makes me sympathetic to the phenomenon, but not blindly so. Continue reading Semi autobiographical

Being friendly?

This morning was a bit of a mess. I lost track of time. My poor hubby wasn’t feeling well. I got out of the house late. I missed the bus I wanted to catch, the next bus was late. The drawbridge went up just as we got to it. A later neighborhood on the route which is usually peaceful and flies by had stop-and-go traffic.

And a co-worker called in sick.

But none of that was terribly bad. No, what was bad was the manic guy who got on the bus three stops after me, absolutely intent on Being Friendly. He could not shut up. And it would not be accurate to say he wouldn’t stop talking.

Talking implies he had an inside voice.

No, he had to announce and exclaim everything, with vigorous hand gestures. It was all friendly conversation to anyone and everyone. “It’s a beautiful day! But then every day is beautiful! Because the world is an amazing place and we should all be grateful to enjoy it? Did you know today is the summer solstice! I don’t mean the parade, that was last weekend…”

And on and on.

Having had to share the bus with a few true crazies or simply belligerent anti-social types, I know it could have been worse.

And It’s more than a bit sad that he didn’t realise that by nearly shouting his non-stop friendly banter to everyone, that he’s really not talking with anyone.

Fly season

As the weather warms, we open more windows, sometimes prop open the door, and generally open up the house. We also start eating more fresh fruit and produce.

One of the side effects of all of that is the appearance of flies.

Over the years, I’ve learned way more about flies than I care to know.

The little gnat-like flies that hang out around the houseplants? Those actually live and breed down in the soil. You can spray the plant with every insecticide you dare, and it won’t bother the flies. To get rid of those flies, you need at least an inch of clean sand or gravel on top of the soil. The adult flies have difficulty getting down to the fertile soil to lay their eggs. The larvae that do get down there, can’t climb high enough to avoid drowning fast enough when you water. Takes a couple months, but it works a charm. Just be warned that about every other year you’ll need to replace the sand or gravel.

The other little gnat-like flies that hang around the kitchen? They don’t fly in from outside. You brought them in with that fresh fruit you picked up at the store. Their microscopic eggs were on or in the skin of the fruit. Washing the fruit before eating it and eating it quickly can slow down the arrival of the flies, but that doesn’t really knock them out. You’re just going to need to trap them. Homemade traps can be made by pouring honey, syrup, or a sweet red wine into shallow cups (though I think that only gets half—the other half just eat and get away). You have to change them often, and it’s more than a bit gross.

Slathering bleach on every surface in the kitchen does nothing about the flies, but people keep trying. Yeah, go to extra effort to clean, but the idea is to eliminate their food—spilled edible substances. Bleach is way overrated as a household cleaner, anyway. Vinegar often does a better job of getting rid of what you’re trying to eliminate with the bleach, and it’s less dangerous to the environment.

I have had people suggest that if I were more tolerant of spiders, I would have fewer flies. To which I say: half the reason I want to get rid of flies is to deprive the spiders of food!