Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

As I’ve mentioned before, I deal with depression. I’m currently doing it without professional assistance, but I do have a support network, and I take St. John’s Wort and try to use the skills I got from REBT in my daily life.

One of the things I keep remembering is the story of the Two Wolves. It’s a really positive image. More, it’s a great bit of imagery, and it serves as a reminder that every time you follow a thought chain you are building a path in your brain. For me, this doesn’t so much mean that I never follow my mind into dark places, or forbid myself negative feelings (yeah, you can really hurt yourself that way too) but I do make a conscious effort to keep most of my mental trips grounded, and I make sure to indulge in wishful thinking every now and then. Try to use all those different emotional muscles, so they don’t atrophy.

Still, because I’m perverse, and because I reject the idea that a wolf could be evil, now and then I allow that story to morph a bit. The ‘bad wolf’ is more like a wendigo. You think you are feeding it ‘the enemy’ by villifying those who have wronged you. You even get some energy back in the form of renewed anger. Do it long enough, though, and you’ll be feeding it all the time, and that ‘righteous’ anger you get back is all that sustains you. Do it long enough, and one day you’ll realize that the flesh you’ve been feeding it is your own…It’s a powerful image, and I’m fond of it, but I think the two wolves image is more suitable for everyday use.

The upshot is, this has really changed the way I approach serious emotional conflicts. I try to stay away from judging the other person, and I take a long, hard look at my own actions and motivations. I also figure out what reconciliation would take, and whether or not the relationship is worth it (not whether the person is worth it – that never works well).

The upshot is  I am (I’ve been told) the least satisfactory person to come to when you need to vent about how terrible your conflict with someone is, especially if that someone is central to your life.   Which is fine with me, because I’m completely unsatisfied to be put in the middle of other people’s conflicts.  I’m as prone as the next person to feed the drama llama from time to time, but I do my best to make sure that llama is grounded in fiction (literature, video, or role playing games) or distant from my life.  I find it’s just better all around.


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Trigger Warnings

Trigger Warnings are Controversial

A University has now come out with the official statement that the movement to request trigger warnings in schools is an attempt to limit academic freedom.  Neil Gaiman (whom I adore) has publicly mocked the idea of trigger warnings, explaining that being shocked by things is a really important part of life.

They’re missing the point.

The idea of a ‘trigger’ came out of the study of PTSD.  Over 10% of the US population has PTSD at some point in their life.  If you have PTSD you can often function, more or less normally, until something triggers you.  Sudden, unexpected exposure to a trigger might produce flashbacks and/or some kind of psychotic break.  Triggers are very specific to an individual, there is no such thing as a generic trigger, any more than there is a generic trauma.

In many circumstances it is possible for a patient and doctor to figure out a list of things which might trigger someone. If someone (for example a student) has a list of known triggers which could produce serious symptoms, and they go to a person in authority (for example a professor), and explain the situation it should be common practice to get warnings when triggering images will be presented.  If an unreasonable number of people make this request (which seems very likely) it would be logical for the authority figure to ask for some sort of proof of diagnosis, such as requiring the request to come from the individual’s physician or other qualified professional.  At that point, a refusal of the request is basically a refusal to make reasonable accommodation (because what is being requested is a warning, not a substantial change, because modern technology makes it trivial to provide that warning in a timely manner without affecting the environment of others – a text message warning the individual the day before isn’t asking much).  So refusing to provide real trigger warnings, when they are requested, is probably a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Having said that, if we’re talking about general things which might make someone uncomfortable, or even give someone nightmares, that’s not just unreasonable, it’s asking the impossible.  There is no way to label everything which might make someone uncomfortable.  I mean, one of Dottie’s college roomates gets the heebie-jeebies every time she sees a frog.  It really ruins her day.  That’s unfortunate, but it’s not disabling enough to make a focused trigger warning reasonable, nor would a general .’trigger warning’ policy on campus do her any good at all.

People have always wanted to not be made uncomfortable, and I can only guess that the existence of trigger warnings as a ‘thing’ has made many people feel that they want them too, because if someone else gets them it’s ‘only fair’.  I get that as an impulse, but not as a matter of course.

When Abby was a sophomore in High School she tore her ACL.  She was on crutches during the school year, so she had another student carry her books and she got to take the elevator.  That didn’t mean the entire student body did. Yes, the entire student body wanted to have an elevator pass.  Yes, it would have made their school day easier.  It made Abby’s school day possible.

Another example.  Abby has a serious fear (not quite a phobia)  of spiders.  She was required to take an entomology class for her major.  On the syllabus there was one lecture scheduled for arachnids.  She, very sensibly, planned to skip that class and get the notes from another student. The professor ended up moving the schedule around and she ended up in that particular lecture.  So she kept her eyes averted from the overhead, was very uncomfortable, and got through it.  She was confronted by her fear unannounced, but no consequences were triggered.  She would have appreciated a warning that the spidery lecture had been moved, but she couldn’t have gotten a trigger warning because no symptoms were triggered.

So yeah, trigger warnings are a thing.  Those who need them should get them – it’s important.  Those who don’t should be educated on what they are, and re calibrate their expectations a little bit.

Because I’ve picked on Abby enough in this post, there’s a creepy clown behind the cut.  You might not want to look.  It’s your choice, and you have been warned.


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I’m growing old

Yesterday, Dottie and I went to a bridal shower for one of Abby’s best friends1. I’ve known Molly since she and Abby were in High School together2 (I’ve known Bryan, her fiance, for longer than that), so, yeah, that’s definitely a mark of aging. That’s not what motivated me to post this.

On Thursday I accompanied Dottie to the mall while she shopped for her and Abby’s gift, her money, her choices, I was there for company more than feedback.  She was putting together a ‘spa basket’. So when the man selling creams and scrubs from a kiosk>3 hailed us we were pleased.  He was slick, certainly.  He greeted us as sisters (corny but effective) and was otherwise quite charming.  Then, while demoing his products he was rather less complimentary, with subtle (occasionally less subtle) digs at my appearance and habits, designed to sell his overpriced wrinkle cream, all delivered in a friendly manner designed to cloak him in the halo effect. It was pretty egregious.  It did not make him any sales (despite his proffered ‘special deal’), but he avoided being dressed down in front of everyone who walked by.

Dottie and I discussed it afterwards.  I said the pitch was calculated to take advantage of women’s insecurity about aging (at the same time being an example of cultural pressures which reinforce the insecurities).  Her feeling (as a Fashion and Marketing minor) was that all cosmetics marketing basically does the same thing (minus the reference to aging).  She has a point, but I don’t think it makes mine less valid.

The thing is

I walked into the situation with a level of acceptance of my own aging.  If I seriously thought someone mistook me for my daughter’s sister, I’d be horrified.  I’m pleased that my hair is turning silver (as opposed to gray).  I’m not happy with all the changes my body is going through, because of health implications, but there are some aspects of aging which I look forward to.  Peri-menopause does have some downsides, but I’m looking forward to the end of it, not bemoaning the fact that it began.

At the same time, this encounter is still bothering me three days later.  Not enough to ruin my day, but enough that I want to blog about it.  So I’m making an effort to took for positive and empowering images of aging in America.  Starting with aging playboy bunnies, and following up with a song:

All The Wrinkled Ladies from nicole carpenter on Vimeo.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

This isn’t really a knitting post, but I wanted to slip this one in before closing.  Slipped Stitch Studios is giving away a $50 gift card.  Enter today, drawing tomorrow (1 August).  I really want to get a Go Crafty Needle Case, but it’s not in budget until the job situation gets better.

Footnotes (because I’m just that geeky)

1 For those playing without a scorecard, Abby and Dottie are both my daughters. Dottie is a Junior in college, and Abby is serving overseas in the Peace Corps. Which is another way to mark the fact that I’m growing old.

2Why, yes, since you ask (and I know you’re asking) I did give her a handmade gift. It’s a merino/alpaca/silk lace infinity scarf. Everyone else gave gifts from the registry, which just goes to show that I’m out of touch with the current customs as well as just being old, but I believe she was pleased with it and will get joy from it.

3No, I’m not going to identify the brand. Instead, I’ll recommend Lush.  They are genuinely nice people (who don’t insult their customers) selling quality, ethically sourced products that you should check out.


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Nothing to See Here, Move Along

This is another of my infrequent posts about depression.  It will be quite morbid in parts (literally so, as it involves thinking about death in general, and suicide in particular).  This is a heads up to those who might be triggered by such thoughts that you might want to skip this post.

To my family and friends, no worries.  I’m not in a bad place, just noodling around.  This was mostly inspired by Podcastle Miniature 85: So Inflamed I Have Left and Podcastle 389: Old Foss is the Name of his Cat.  The stories are sad, and thought provoking, and what follows are some thoughts they have provoked.

If that’s not what you want to read, I’ll be going to the Maryland Alpaca Festival today, so expect more  friendly, yarn centered posts soon.


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First of all, let me repeat (from yesterday):

Love Wins

I am very much gladdened by yesterday’s SCOTUS decision on the right to marry.  It was the right decision, without question.  Before saying anything else, I understand that, from a pragmatic point of view, the 14th Amendment argument was the way to go.  People certainly shouldn’t have to leave their home state in order to get married, that’s absurd and untenable.

Having said that, from the point of view of respect to the constitution, I was bothered by the fact that the full faith and credit clause of the constitution fell off the page.

For those who don’t recall what I’m talking about, Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, known as the “Full Faith and Credit Clause“, addresses the duties that states within the United States have to respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”    It’s why your driver’s license is a  valid document even if you drive all the way across the country, even if one state has a harder licensing test than another.

But, still, especially if one has any actual concern for the Constitution (the rules which limit the laws), and the ability of the United States to function as a single country, a state being able to ignore the clause is disastrous.  The fact that it was basically the ‘original intent’ faction which was doing this is in and of itself mindblowing.

So, after heaving a sigh of relief that the correct decision was reached I decided to do some searching on the subject.  I felt that it’s disappearance from the discussion must have come from the attention of activists and press both on the bigger, more likely to have an impact, 14th Amendment.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case.  If I’m missing some serious discussion that legal geeks have come across, please enlighten me.

The Writ of Certiorari Henri-Obergfell v Hodges (PDF download) definitely mentions it.  Explicitly, on page 29:

The Sixth Circuit decision likewise exacerbates a
split in the circuits on a separate question also
deeply important to same-sex families and their
children whether a state must accord full faith and
credit to sister state judgments of adoption of
children parented by same-sex couples.
page 30:
Compare Adar v. Smith 639 F.3d146 (5th Cir.) (en banc),
cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 400 (2011) (holding Louisiana not
obligated to accord full faith and credit to out-of-state
adoption decree for purpose of naming both fathers on
their Louisiana-born adopted child’s birth certificate) with
Finstuen v. Crutcher, 496 F.3d 1139 (10th Cir. 2007)
(holding the contrary, in Oklahoma challenge).
Then, again, on page 42:
The district court correctly ruled that “[t]his backward
evolution in Ohio” violates the guarantee of full faith and credit.
App. 154a-55a n.i. This Court has long made clear that states
cannot disregard foreign judgments based on their own public
policy preferences. Baker v. General Motors Corp. , 522 U.S. 222,
232-33 (1998) (“[O]ur decisions support no roving ‘public policy
exception’ to the full faith and credit due judgments” (citation
omitted)); id. at 243 (Kennedy, J., concurring) (“We have often
recognized the second State’s obligation to give effect to another
State’s judgments even when the law underlying those judgments
contravenes the public policy of the second State.”) Instead, the Full
Faith and Credit Clause “ordered submission by one State even to
hostile policies reflected in the judgment of another State, because
the practical operation of the federal system . . . demanded it.” Estin
v. Estin, 334 U.S. 541, 546 (1948).
So, yeah, discussion of the Full Faith and Credit clause was a big part of the case at first.
On April 1 Wyoming filed an amici curae brief (PDF Download) dealing with it.  It cited prior examples of states not recognizing other states marriages, including on page 7:
Lanham v. Lanham, 117 N.W. 787, 788 (Wis. 1908)

the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to recognize a

sister-state marriage that was in violation of the forum’s
temporary prohibition on remarriage following a divorce.
on page 8:
Osoinach v. Watkins, 180 So. 577, 581 (Ala. 1938).

The Alabama Supreme Court employed similar

reasoning when declining to recognize a marriage
between an uncle and niece even though the
marriage was valid at the place of celebration.
After listing several more instances, in several more states, on page 12 the brief states:
full faith and credit ‘is less demanding with respect
to choice of laws’ than it is with respect to judgments.”
Thus, because a marriage is not a judgment,
courts may consult “the forum State’s ‘public policy.’”
Interesting, if uncomfortable points here.
So, the final brief (PDF download) is interesting. The Full Faith and Credit issue isn’t even addressed.  Not even with respect to the adoption (remember that the precedent cited above was only about marriage).
Page 17:
Although the majority did not specifically address the Vitale-
Talmas Petitioners‘ Full Faith and Credit claim, its blanket
reversal of all decisions below reversed the district court‘s
ruling on that claim as well.
Yeah, I know, it’s a quibble, but I’d actually like to hear some more (probably dry and scholarly) discussion on the full faith and credit question here.  Preferably while knitting a rainbow colored sweater.

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F is for…

F is for Forgiveness

I had considered fiction, or fangirl, but I’ve been waving my geek pride flag pretty hard, and I think you can take it as read that it all started with books. So I’m going to talk about something that’s less fun.   It’s personal, it might be a downer, feel free to skip it and come back tomorrow for a lighter post.


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“This is not your grandmother’s knitting” is a phrase usually used to evoke the image of knitting as a newly revived craft.  There’s even a cute Etsy shop by this name which currently carries knit pokeballs and bow ties.  It’s usually intended as a craft-positive, creativity positive idea.  Yet, for me, those good intentions are overshadowed by negativity – towards women, towards aging, towards grandmotherhood and (by implication) motherhood.  I know the speaker means well, but…

I’m not the first one to come up with this.  There are some very good commentary on by this phrase on  Abby’s yarns blog and STC Craft, so, yeah, I know it’s been said before.

To me, the phrase conjures images of ‘your grandmother’,  a weak little old lady who was surrounded by fussy bric-a-brack who knit scratchy sweaters which you were embarrassed to wear in public, but you did so out of a sense of duty and forced gratitude.  It sort of sounds like Mrs. Weasley and her her sweaters.  Sweaters which Harry Potter was the only one sensible to appreciate as labors of love and beauty.

Grandmas Sweater

or maybe not so dated. This one actually goes pretty well with my new Malabrigo hat in the Noviembre colorway

My own grandmother was a little old lady, sweet and salty and a little bit fussy, occasionally confused,  surrounded by bric-a-brack. She not only knit me very trendy sweaters (she’s been gone since the late 1980’s so they are very dated now) but she also knit me two freakin’ Doctor Who scarves.  TWO.  Because I was an ungrateful brat and didn’t like the color scheme on the first one.  Show me one of your chic, trendy knitters who is as badass as that, and I’ll show you a lady who has more class than to diss Grandma!

grandma swatch

This one is too small for me to even try to squeeze into. But it’s still a lovely, fun piece.

To me the phrase evokes the picture of a woman who is very loving, and constantly making things, but somehow lacks any humor or playfulness. Loving, but not fully living.  Such a grandmother would faint at the sight of  a bag shaped like a vulva or venture into anatomically correct crafting of any sort.  My own mother (who has been a grandmother for over 20 years now, so she counts) designed, sewed and embroidered a gorgeous female torso which she used to display in her living room.

grandma afgan  My grandmother also did a lot of other crafting.  Here’s a beautiful, vibrant granny square afghan which, in this picture, is helping my cat keep me warm.  She also used to ‘do pottery’, which means she used to glaze bisque pieces and send them off to be fired.  In the ’70’s this seemed to be a ‘fussy old lady thing’, now there are apparently shops devoted to it.

There are two major ways in which I think my knitting differs from grandma’s.  First: she was more skilled at it.  Secondly, I’m much more of a yarn snob.  Part of the second might be due to the fact that it was harder to get good yarn back then.  She opted for inexpensive, washable yarn for just about everything she did, which, given that it was the ’70’s and ’80’s, was often the ‘crunchy’ acrylic stuff.  After 30 some years of washing it has softened up a lot without pilling or fading.  So maybe she was right about that (but I’m going to keep on going as I have been).

I’m in no rush to become a grandmother myself, but I expect it’s going to happen sometime in the next ten to fifteen years.  When it happens I really hope to carry on crafting as my grandmother did – to make things I thing my grandchildren will enjoy, and to do my best to take on large projects for whatever they want, whether or not I get the pop culture references.

I’d be proud to carry on that tradition.  If it’s not your grandmother’s knitting, then let me know what is (or was) and how it’s different.

Blog Contests and Yarn Giveaways

I’ve entered a drawing for a skein of Delicious Yarns Sweet Sport  at Crochet Ever After (2/28) as well as one for a Lion Brand yarn tote and Pelt yarn at All Free Knitting (3/1)

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