Friday, March 30, 2007

Disturbing Attitude

It's been very, very challenging keeping up with Knuckles' food allergies. It's really difficult to replace your entire pantry and learn new recipes, let alone find ones that the family will like as much as they liked the old ones. But probably the most disturbing thing about the adjustment has been people's attitudes toward it.

When I talk to people at church, family members, etc., and they find out Knuckles has all those allergies, they say "that's horrible!" Whatever, they can think it's horrible. But then they find out that I'm on his allergen-free diet too because I'm nursing, and that I'm converting the family over to allergen-free cuisine too, and the immediate response is "Well you could wean him, right, and then things would go back to normal."

It's true that once I wean him I'll be able to eat foods he's allergic to again, but what bothers me is this callous attitude toward Knuckles, like his food needs shouldn't be a drag on the rest of the family eating whatever they want. They talk about him like he's not even a person, just an annoying pet we could take to the pound when he gets to be too much trouble. We should all be able to go out and party, except for him, we should just leave him out. I can't stand that attitude. Knuckles is a part of my family. He can't help it that he has food allergies. All his life he's going to have to say "I can't eat that" everywhere he goes. Can't he have one place in the world where everything is safe for him to eat? Can't he feel accepted at his own family dinner table? How horrible would it be for him if even his own family put their desired foods ahead of his emotional needs? Do you think it's devastating for you to not eat pizza? How devastating would that be for him, to not only not be able to eat the pizza, but also know that his family doesn't support him because being able to eat pizza is just so much more important to them than he is?

It would be one thing if I only got this attitude from random people in the supermarket, but I'm getting it from family. FH, upon learning the magnitude of the list of things we'd have to cut out of Knuckles' diet, immediately said "Well I'm not giving up my..." and there followed a lengthy list of ingredients, dishes, and condiments that FH was not willing to give up eating at home for his own son's emotional well-being. And he stuck by that list, rather than using it as a stepping-stone toward acceptance of Knuckles' condition. He isn't even willing to eat those foods at work and not at home-- he insists on eating them at home, in front of everyone. Thankfully, my parents have been very accepting of Knuckles' needs. While they have no need to take their entire house allergen-free, they go out of their way to make sure that food cooked while we visit is allergen-free, even helping me develop substitutions and buying Knuckles special (and expensive) foods. Perhaps they have sympathy because my babiest brother is allergic to peanuts, so they've been through this before. But FH also has food allergies, and he doesn't seem to have any sympathy for Knuckles at all.

If it were the case that everything he had to eat tasted horrible, that would be one thing, but I have the skills to make it taste just as good, so why shouldn't we make the house allergen free?

This is good

The Utah legislature is going to perform an audit to see why despite all the funds they've been giving the public schools each year for class size reduction, they keep wanting more-- and not reducing the class size.

Personally, I'd like to see an audit of the teacher-to-administrator ratio too.

Once Again, I'm Glad We Got A Low Grade

The annual grades for use of computers in the classroom are out, and Utah got a C this time. One of the reasons cited is that there aren't computers in enough classrooms, even though 85% of students have access to a lab and minority and low-income students seem to have "enough" computer access. Also having between 5 and 6 students per computer is evidently too high a ratio.

This doesn't bother me. This is just the opinion of people who presuppose that computers are neat gadgets with hypnotic blinking lights... of course everyone wants one... everyone needs one... no, everyone needs two... I challenge that assumption. In fact, I'll go further. I challenge any of my readers to give me one good reason why children under the age of 10 need computers in their classrooms to learn.

Here are some half-baked arguments I expect people might try, and my responses in advance:
  • You're just a crazy neo-luddite who hates technology. Well, no actually. I'd be lost without my cell phone and my laptop. I dream of being able to afford an iPod. And I do use a calculator-- in fact used one yesterday doing my taxes. But I'm an adult. I have a hell of a lot more to schedule and keep track of. My seven-year-old doesn't need a powerful database to keep track of his Legos.
  • Today's global marketplace is fast-paced and students need computer training to keep up. I'll buy that, but the question of why students would benefit from computer training while they can't yet read or spell is still on the table. Also still on the table is why this would require computers to be in their classrooms and not, say, a school lab. Great use of buzzwords like "fast-paced" and "global marketplace," by the way. Are those the current ones, or are they being replaced soon?
  • Students need technology to learn. Funny, how up until the personal computer was invented, students learned absolutely nothing. However did they manage?
  • Educational software helps students learn. Odd, I thought we were paying teachers to do that. Maybe that's too old-fashioned though? Maybe we ought to just buy educational software instead of giving the teachers raises?
  • Students don't have computers at home. Students don't have pet ferrets at home, either. And the health benefits of stroking a furry pet have been proven in medical studies. Why aren't there groups giving out report cards for students' access to ferrets in the classroom?
  • Students can use computers when they're that young. I don't question the idea that kids under the age of 10 would want to use computers. I do have kids in that age range, after all. What I want to know is why they need them. A need is different than a want, after all, and computers at our house are a privilege, not a right. Why should it be different at school?
Once again, to sum up: Adults need computers. Teachers, as adults, need computers. Teenagers need computer training. So why do children under 5th or 6th grade need computers in their classrooms? Also, consider this: there's one computer for every 5.4 students. Assume the computer is in use between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. with a short lunch break. That's around an hour a day per student. What are they doing on those computers for which they need a full hour a day? Do you think children younger than 10 need a full hour every school day on a computer? Because evidently the people who give out these report cards think they ought to have one and a half full hours. Or better yet, more, since 1 1/2 hours a day is what the national average works out to be. Half the states have enough computers that students would spend more time than that.

Please bake all your arguments until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, then post them in the comments.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Stupid Anti-Mormon Tricks

Today in the mail we got an anti-Mormon DVD. I hadn't even looked much at it, because I was focused on the kids today (all three boys were on the verge of meltdown all day), but when FH came home and went through the mail, he was like "Oh cool, a DVD!" and immediately started watching this in front of all the kids. I could tell right away that this was yet another tired piece of anti-Mormon propaganda. I'd heard all this crap before. What little in it that happens to be true is usually a sensationally-worded misrepresentation of the truth. Unfortunately I couldn't get FH to turn the damn piece of trash off; he kept saying he wanted "information," although I don't know what sort of "information" he thought this video would give him, other than the "information" it gave me, which is that its makers are idiots.

What steams me most about this DVD is the part at the beginning where they say they're doing this out of "love" for Mormons. Right, SURE they are. Because when they thought of all the people in the world who need their attention and could use the money they spent on producing and distributing this DVD, they skipped right over the starving people of Bangladesh, the genocide in Darfur, and the persecuted Buddhists in Thailand, and they went straight for the Mormons of Utah and Arizona. Hell, they even skipped right over all the Catholics, Hindus, and Muslims closer to home, to go minister to the poor benighted Mormons. It reminds me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince where Minister of Magic Scrimgeour "happens" to show up at the Weasley's at Christmas and "happens" to pick Harry to take him for a walk in the garden. In the snow. Riiiiight, it's just a coincidence. Because they just looooooove us sooooo muuuuuuch.

As soon as FH was done with it, I broke the DVD in half and threw it in the trash. I came pretty close to burning the damn thing, but there were dishes in the sink, and I knew FH would complain about the smell, and besides tomorrow is trash day so I'll just take it straight out to the curb, after I pour the dirty diapers on top of it.

Recipe: Banana-Coconut Granola

I came up with this recipe for a super-awesome nut-free granola that I just know my kids are gonna love. I've been making them granola, partly to save money and partly to use up all these cans of oats I found when I rearranged the food storage area in the garage. Except for the batch I burned, they tell me that the granola I make is superior to the storebought granola.

Banana-Coconut Granola

1 1/2 cups dried banana slices
5 oz. coconut flakes
6 cups regular rolled oats
2/3 c. oil
2/3 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. powdered ginger

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Chop banana slices and coconut in food processor. Add to oats and mix. In separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients with whisk. While stirring oat mixture, add oil mixture to oat mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Spread on two cookie sheets and bake for 50-55 minutes, stirring or shaking every 10-15 minutes. Let cool. Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sonshine Has A Diagnosis

We took Sonshine to the same clinic where we took Bagel for his Asperger's diagnosis. We thought Sonshine might have ADHD, but he too has Asperger's Syndrome. In fact he scored higher on the ADOS than Bagel did.

So now we have two with Asperger's Syndrome. And I'm worried about Knuckles as well. He won't lay on his back, he doesn't like standing up, and he's obsessed with little wheeled things. There are other indicators, but he reminds me of Bagel at that age, only not as intense (he's not, for example, pinching me till I bruise when he nurses). But he's only a year old, and you usually have to wait longer than that before developmental delays become apparent.

Well, I did it

I took down my Curious Workmanship shop and put up a page referring people to my Etsy shop.

I really, really wanted to have both, but I can't have both and have kids and a life. And the Etsy shop was generating the vast majority of the sales, plus it was easier to use. I always had stuff that I was meaning to do with my shop and never did, like see if I could get the Quickbooks import module to work without crashing the shop or disabling the database backup feature, or fixing the bug where tax-exempt Utah customers are charged sales tax (I made a workaround for that which made payments correct to within a penny, but it bugged me that they'd be off). I need to learn some basic PHP before I can do these things, but I don't have time. Hopefully by the time I can get my shop back up, ZenCart will have been through some more revisions and will be including the Products With Attributes Stock mod so that I can update to the latest version instead of having to use an older version because the new version wasn't compatible with that mod. And maybe I'll have time to learn some CSS to make a very nice template.

Hopefully all this will happen before, not after, I drop dead of exhaustion.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I'm All In Favor of Carbon Offsets

So many of my fellow righties are all up in arms over the whole idea of selling "carbon offsets". This involves paying someone to plant a tree somewhere else. I don't see a problem with it.

I would love it if people in New York or Los Angeles would pay me, say, $50 to plant a tree to offset their sinful carbon usage. I would then go down to Home Depot and buy a small tree for $30, dig a hole and plant it in my yard, thus increasing my property value. If they need more than one tree, I could collect $50 more and get a second tree, then visit all my neighbors and say "Hey, you want a tree for your yard?" In fact I bet I could get 10 neighbors to plant trees in their yards and I'd pocket $200 for making one trip to Home Depot and visiting my neighbors! And it would all be totally ethical, because who cares why these people are paying me to do it? If they want me to plant a tree, and I want to plant a tree, and a tree is a good thing, what's the problem?

So now the only question is how to scale up the business. I could place ads in the paper to find people other than my neighbors who want a free tree for their yards. I bet I could give away over 1000 trees that way. That would make me $20,000 at least (if I buy that many trees I could probably get a wholesale price and make even more). And I wouldn't even have to dig all those holes!

If there's nothing wrong with selling rosary beads to Catholics, then there's nothing wrong with selling carbon offsets to environmentalists.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eeeewwwww, Gross

From the Department Of TMI, behold: a man who really, really loves cars. Loves them. In THAT way.

Next thing you know, there'll be lawnmower fetishists or something.

Link via Siggy.

Random Idea Of The Day

How come there aren't any chicken broth scented candles?

(I'm making chicken broth right now and it smells divine.)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Oh, The Hairror!

I had nearly waist-length hair until yesterday, when I chopped it all off by myself.

For about a year I've been dying to get out and get a haircut, but it never worked out. On any given day I either didn't have time, or didn't have money. Meanwhile, my hair got longer and longer. I never had time to do anything with it but pull it back into a ponytail. Knuckles would pull on it. Every time I sat down my ponytail got in the way, unless I put it up, and then every time I drove in the car, my bun got in the way of the headrest. It was so heavy it was giving me headaches. I felt like there was an animal on my head with a long tail hanging down my back.

So yesterday I washed it, tied it back into a braid, and chopped it off with a pair of scissors. Then I gave myself bangs, which I haven't had in years.

I did the best I could to even out what was left, but thanks to my lovely kids (who will walk past three bins of toys to play with one thing that isn't a toy) I no longer have a hand mirror, so I couldn't see the back. I'm sure it looks like crap in the back, but at least it looks OK from the front, and it's not bothering me anymore.

Happy Blogiversary To Me

It's my third blogiversary today! Yay!

I used to actually blog about something important, before my life got taken over with food allergies and Asperger's Syndrome and wholesale orders of booties. I would follow certain bills in the state legislature. I had opinions on politics, education, and all sorts of stuff. I still have opinions, but I don't have time to research them much so they're largely uninformed impressions, and most of the time I have to forego blogging about them because the laundry needs folding and the food needs cooking and the kids need to have their fights broken up. But I keep on blogging anyway, and I don't really know why. I've thought about quitting to free up some time, but there eventually ends up being a moment when I simultaneously have a thought and both hands free, and I go blog about it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Fabulous Rice Milk Machine

I bought a soy milk making machine to make rice milk for Knuckles. (We can buy Rice Dream at Wal-Mart, but it's not gluten-free. Plus it's kinda expensive, about twice as expensive as cow's milk.) I've made two batches now and I think I've got the formula down pat. I'm using brown rice since it has more nutrients in it (and it also seems to have a better taste than milk made with the white rice), I pre-soak it, and after it goes through the machine I strain it and add about 1/4 cup of sugar. Later I'll experiment with adding flavored syrups instead of the sugar. I haven't checked all our Torani syrups but I know there are some on the market that don't have corn syrup in them because I bought a strawberry syrup at Sam's Club that didn't have corn syrup. There are also sugar-free syrups.

Knuckles gives this rice milk formulation his seal of approval in that he's chowing down on his bottle. He sucked down the entire 10 ounce bottle without coming up for air, and when it was finished wouldn't let me pull it out of his mouth.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

No to Goat's Milk

We tried Knuckles on goat's milk and he reacted in much the same way he did to the soy milk. So there will be no cheese dishes for us for dinner. However, he doesn't seem to react if I eat goat cheese, so at least I can have goat cheese.

Sigh... there goes pizza night.