Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jesus Christ: In Historical Perspective.

As A Christian, I am often amazed and saddened at how Jesus Christ is depicted for the non-Christian audience. I'm linking you all to one of the best presentations I've read anywhere. For those of you who are into pod casts, this is the transcript from The Biography Pod Cast. You'll find all the information at the link below. This is a positive portrayal which didn't lapse into lunacy. Thank you Phillip Zannini!

A Biography of Jesus Christ

Setting Limits: The Stress-Free Christmas

I gave myself the best Christmas present of all this year. NO Stress! Usually, since this is such a "special" time of year, all rules and limits totally vanish in an orgy of hysterical co-dependency. Now I had a rough start for this season, but once I landed back on my emotional feet with God's help and prayers from friends, I was fine. But the actual Day, Christmas Eve, fell on a Sunday.

I set a limit with my Pastor, that the bulletin information had to be called into me by nine PM on Saturday. I wanted to avoid cranking out the bulletin at midnight. But, because of the holiday, I told Pastor to call me when he could. About ten PM I heard from a totally wiped-out Man Of God.

After stumbling through the bulletin, he told me NOT to stay up all night to get it done! I was overjoyed. I needed to sleep and he was giving me permission to take proper care of myself. Now do you all understand why I love this man and my church? I went to bed and set the alarm for an earlier-then-usual time.

I remembered a very sweet conversation with an old friend who has come back into my life. She and I are both telephone addicts. We can talk for hours. This is fun, but with my crazy work schedule, I had to make sure I only get late night calls from her on a Friday. Obviously, if its an emergency prayer request, that is different. But for general yack-yack, Friday night is my only good night to play.

She had praised me for this! Still being ever so prone to the guilt of co-dependency, I worried that she'd think I was being snobbish, or something. She respected my request and watching me set a limit, reminded her that its all right to set limits. A lovely conversation, all around.

At six AM my alarm went off and I attempted to jump-start my mind with coffee. Oh man, I needed like three more hours to put all the fancy stuff into the bulletin! It was now almost eight AM and in order to pick up the sheet cake for the church dinner, I'd be leaving in an hour. I made a decision to put out a one sheet bulletin with some of the words in color. I realized, I was getting all uptight over this bulletin thing. The world would not stop turning if I didn't manage to get the fancy-schmancy bulletin out. I made up my mind I was going to be late for Sunday School. I needed time to eat and dress without getting all wound up. I couldn't believe I was ignoring all that early training about being hysterical for the holidays.

Pastor then called and offered me a ride to pick up the cake, as he had to get food also. I accepted, but let him know I was going to be late for Sunday School. He told me it was fine and to relax and take my time!

After getting off the phone, I lapsed into a few thank-you prayers to God. I could actually eat a quiet meal, meaning I wouldn't have the heartburn monster to fight with for the rest of the day! I got enough sleep to actually enjoy our longer-then-usual church day and I didn't even feel guilty!

I'm learning to not only take control of my world, but to keep control of my world. Now, this is stunning mental health. A stress-free holiday. I hope everyone is able to stop hurting themselves in the name of making others happy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Humor: A True Perpetual Motion Machine

This idea was posted to Art Bell's website about eight years ago by one of his listeners. I don't know if you can find it on the current website. I tried and couldn't locate it. Whoever wrote this deserves our undying gratitude.

A True Perpetual Motion Machine

Universal Law #1: A falling cat will always land on its feet.

Universal Law #2: Falling buttered toast always lands butter-side-down.

(Note: this is a "proof of concept" proposal. No cats have been ill-treated in any way).

The Device:

Take a piece of buttered toast and attach it to your cat's back, butter-side up.

From an elevation of at least three feet, drop your cat.


Your buttered-toast-cat combination will gently rotate indefinitely about a foot off the floor because of the two scientific laws cited above.

Monday, December 25, 2006

HURRAY! Australia Stands Up For Her OWN Culture!

We have gotten oh, so politically correct and "sensitive". Lord, if my Christianity and its symbols offend you, why I'll just "pretend" not to be a Christian for your COMFORT! We have Pseudo-terms for people who have "challenges". We dare not state a fact that I can't see the side of a building more then ten feet from me! So, I become differently-abled, Visually-challenged, or my current favorite: "differently-abled".


I don't see very well and the actual name is "legal blindness". This gives me the legal right to carry a white cane, or use a dog-guide. Yes, it used to be a guide dog, but the owners sued to make sure people knew the blind human was actually in charge!

Hat's off to the Australians! The Muslims in their midst wanted to practice their own religious laws - instead of Australia's laws. They have been told: our way, or the highway. Hurray!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Installing RAM: From Arrogance To Humility In One Hour!

I manage a website for my church which grows by about five pages a week. We've been up since last may and the site is now over one-hundred-forty pages. Because I am not a REAL geek, I use iWeb and cheat on website development. IWeb is a lovely program by Apple which is NOT designed for a business application. But, being users don't read things like Application Documentation, I use iWeb to build and update this website.

Since iWeb was never designed to be Dream Weaver Lite, there are a lot of things one CANNOT do in iWeb. Mainly, you can't break up your site. You re-create all code generated for the entire site every time you "publish to a folder". So, I had a problem.

Just to "open" iWeb takes about five minutes. To "Save" the raw file in iWeb took a half-hour, or more. To "publish" also took a half-hour or more AND to actually upload it to the Server was another half-hour or more.

I began to loathe updating this site because when iWeb is running, I can't run other things, unless I want to take even more time to process the site. I was driven to seek out a way to make my eMac work faster. I did some nosing around and discovered something called RAM: Random Access Memory. This is the temporary memory area for your computer. I had a tinsy 256 MB! When friends were informed of this, I got lots of encouragement and sympathy! So, I called my Apple Representative. She recommended an add-on to my machine of a 1 GB RAM chip. She assured me, that even with my crumby vision, I could install it myself.

She emailed me the customer documentation from Apple and I sent in $135. After several panicked readings of the customer documentation, I called my Apple Rep., introducing her to levels of patience, she hadn't had to explore before. I couldn't keep my voice from going up in pitch with the whine of a cat in pain. It was dreadful. I was petrified!

"Why do you ground yourself before unplugging the cord from the computer?"

"Cybe, listen to me. That is geek speak. Just disconnect the cables, unplug the electrical cord, both ends, ground yourself and you are good to go" My Apple Rep. was starting to sound frustrated.

"But... in the documentation..."

"Cybe. That was written by Engineers. They don't know what they're doing. Just do what I said. You can wear rubber shoes if you are really nervous, but you'll do fine." Her voice was showing the strain of emotional control. I decided to stop hassling her.

I was going to involve a neighbor to move the computer, but I really didn't want a stranger telling me I didn't know what I was doing. So, I began my Odyssey alone at 9:45 PM.

I had to pad my desk with a soft towel, put my computer on its monitor, with the "user access door" facing me. So far so good! Thank God, I have enough sense to do this all myself. Why pay some idiot a $100 for something I can do. This will be done in twenty-minutes, just like the documentation says (Starting time 9:45 PM, Ego, inflated and cocky).

Got the door off, and found the latches for the empty "slot" for my new chip. But, where was the chip that was already in here? I wasn't supposed to touch anything, so I'm using various magnifying glasses to attempt to divine what was happening. Oh, well, as long as I know where the new chip is supposed to go, who cares about the other one? (9:50 Ego, slight deflation, less cocky).

I carefully open up the chip, ground myself several times and attempt to "slide" it into its "slot". I figured it would slide in like a drawer, disappearing into the computer. Yeah, that's why I can't find the other chip. Well, that can't be right, because I feel its latches...

So, I begin to try and figure out where the "top" of the new chip is. I'm not supposed to touch it. I figure if I touch it, I'll ruin it. I'm now feeling a bit scared. This ain't going so easy as I thought it would. So, I placed, pushed (ever so gently), flipped the chip and placed and pushed... Now, there are only four positions possible for this chip. After NONE of them worked, I made a decision. I am almost blind, I can't tell what is supposed to happen. Its time to grope this puppy, so I can learn what's going on. If I screw my equipment, I screw my equipment, ($1,135.00 down the shoot.) Well, if the memory refuses to work, Apple Care just might cover it. Until they ask questions as to how I managed to mess up my RAM!

"Well, I thought any idiot could do this... but I'm not just any idiot. I got in there and groped every little thing trying to figure this out, so I could put my computer right-side-up and go to bed!" Apple Care would read this as user incompetence and refuse to fix it for free. (10:20 Ego descending fast, a sense of futility rising to the challenge).

Well, everyone should grope the guts of their computer. I found the first, already installed chip. It was at the very top of the opening, and it was ninety percent hanging out of the machine! The hinges were holding it at its midpoint! Well, I'm amazed! (10:30 Slight hope replacing futility, but body is covered in sweat).

Now, to shove it in the "slot". Wait, there are two slots. A large gap and a little slit-slot. By now I'm beginning to feel genuine mental fatigue and a sense that I'm in so far over my head as to be standing in the need of prayer. (10:35 Labored breathing and sweating)

I figured out that the larger gap was not a slot, but a space between the two slots. I again tried to line it up, in the hing guides and make it "snap" into place. It didn't "snap" into place in any of the four possible positions. (10:45 Abject despair and life-confession prayer)

"God, you know, sitting here, thinking about my life. I admit that I took on something I shouldn't have. I realize that I've been a jerk, like this my entire life" In total fatigue, with my hands still on the chip, I leaned on it, to rest my weary body and..."SNAP"!

"Holy God! It went in. Oh thank you God. Now, to put it all back together. Geez, I feel like sobbing in relief!"

Put it all back together and it WORKED. All 1.25 GB of RAM registered and had an OK status!
I now notice I'm shaking all over. No longer paying attention to the time. Oops, I have lost my external disc with all my backup and "extra non-backed-up stuff". Oh man, not all my photos!

Yes, I got it all working. The power cord for the external disc drive had worked loose. Funny, no power, no disc drive! So, now, it is all up and running. Booted REALLY fast! I must write my friend. But I don't feel like boasting. I feel like I've survived a trauma and am not sure I even want to talk about it at all. Hmmm, that's a curious reaction.

Friends and my Apple Rep., were elated at my accomplishment and I got good strokes all around. I also had a friend plead for me to document this struggle, so he could have a good laugh. (He's a real geek and my first waltz with electronics brought back memories for him).

He even said he'd READ my blog - at least this post. So, Merry Christmas, Adorable! You know my email address and I've earned that gift certificate from I told you I want.

A Web Security RANT!

I have a friend who refuses to follow directions. I have been stalked and have learned the hard way about security in all its forms. Security issues prevent me from allowing email on this blog. You can comment, until the cows come home, but I have to contact YOU. I realize that ninety-nine percent of my readers are great people, but it only takes one trouble maker to ruin it for everyone.

So, when a friend started sending me those obnoxious chain-letter-email things, I politely told her to stop sending them. I will never send on something that smacks of magic, or "luck". It goes in the trash, period. I was polite, as this person didn't know my feelings and didn't deserve my pent-up rage over all things unethical. Being the dedicated and untreated co-dependent she is, she informed me that she didn't like those things either (? - then why are you sending them out to the tune of several per day?!) She seemed a bit hurt, but for awhile, I didn't hear from her over the Internet very much.

Somehow, I've gotten back into her Internet good graces and again started receiving forwarded information. Stuff from newspapers, her mother and newsletters. As I always check out security on email, my address was not passed on. But TODAY I got something called a "Hug Certificate". (Rage Alert!)

To: CyberGal (and fifteen others with complete names email addresses!)
Subject: Fw: Hug Certificate

A Hug Certificate for You!

This poem is very sweet. It will be interesting to see who sends it back.
Forward this on and back. Thanks!

If I could catch a rainbow
I would do it just for you
and share with you its beauty
On the days you're feeling blue.

If I could build a mountain
You could call your very own;
A place to find serenity,
A place to be alone.

If I could take your troubles
I would toss them in the sea,
But all these things I'm finding
are impossible for me.

I cannot build a mountain
Or catch a rainbow fair,
But let me be what I know best,
A friend who's always there.

Love, Anonymous
Eight .gif attachments were included!

CyberGal's response:

I do enjoy your friendship -
a quiet joy for me,
but I am scared about Web security.

I scanned the flock of receivers,
quite a curious list
If these names got mis-used, someone would get pissed.

I do not forward things ahead
with personal ID's
I learned a painful lesson - from someone stalking me.

You may trust these people
but I'm distressed to say:
Please don't forward me along in any email chain.

Happy holidays, my dear. A hug for you to!

Please don't include me in a list of forwarded email. It is not that
hard to delete "sender" info. from a forwarded email. If you want to
send one email to three people, put the first address on the "To:" line.
Put the other receivers on the "BCC" line. This stands for "Blind
Carbon Copy". Please do not send my info. out where anyone can
harvest my name and email address. Thanks allot.

Love Cybe
Now, let me explain the problem with an email with open names and addresses. Of course you trust your friends and business associates and family members! Like me, anyone who is obviously causing your computer to be attacked by Spam, or worse, is quickly gone from your address book and most likely your life. But, there is a very bad problem out there on the Internet with PCs especially.

A nasty person can "trick" your computer into doing things without your knowledge or permission. The first thing these hacking, spying and Trojan Horse programs do, is to go into your address book and use all that information! So, I get an email from "Phillip". I know him, and normally wouldn't hesitate to open something from him. These days I check the subject line to see if it "feels" right. If Phillip is suddenly trying to "pitch" me, I KNOW there is something wrong. Once I scan the subject line, I look to see if there are attachments. This in itself isn't necessarily a problem, but it can be.

I open the email and read the content. If the content checks out, I view the associated attachment, to make sure it is what it purports to be and all is fine. One of the newer developments in the world of malware is burying secret code in pictures. They look like cartoons, or photos, but they have "hidden" programming code for turning your machine into a spam factory, or worse.

My friend's email had sixteen recipients. When I requested "more information" from Firefox, my full same and complete email address popped up along with fifteen other names! Oh My God! I then read the (to me) smarmy poetry. I was already angry with the line: Let's see who reads their email... I hate having to re-tell someone something more then twice. I know I've politely written and spoken to this gal about these darn chain-letter emails. Now, I was going to give her a smarmy poem back, along with explicit directions on how to send duplicate emails without screwing around with people's personal information.

I haven't heard back. Her computer may be having a problem. The last time she had a problem, she was totally virus-ridden and it took almost a week for the technical firm to "clean" her system.

Please, folks. We have to be more careful now. This goofy email had eight .gif attachments. All o them containing some kind of script command. We have to be careful with our name and address information. Malware is getting more and more sophisticated, even a protected machine may get "tricked". Don't use the "To: field for a bulk mailing of your address book buddies! Address it to one person and put everyone else in the BCC field. PLEASE.

Yes, I have made this error. I bulkemailed everyone in my address book with a change of email address. I quickly heard from a small business man making the speech of this blog. The days of innocence have to come to an end. Not all is roses out on the Information Highway.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Taking A Stand: Building Character

I sometimes watch parts of my life, like a movie in my mind. Now, with this admittedly narcissistic perspective, I want my movie to be a good one, full of pathos, action and of course - I just come out looking really good. (Admit it, you've thought like this, but have enough sense not to make it official).

At church, we had just wrapped up a cool mini revival. Like a pep-talk, or rah-rah session for the religious. I realized I wanted to add to my Christian commitments. I wanted to make sure I attended scheduled meetings reliably. Not just when there wasn't something more interesting to attend. I fear making commitments. If you voice them, people have the outrageous idea that you are serious and then, when you don't follow through, ask nagging questions of "why?". Oooh, I hate it when that happens.

I am too much like the Apostle Peter. Shoot my mouth off first and worry about the consequences later. I checked myself. I was serious about this new-found desire to consistently attend meetings. In my mind I was the struggling hero scrambling up that hill of commitment to plant the flag. I'm sweating and panting BUT determined. Music, up, as I gallantly plant that flag of victory! I made a commitment! Fade to black.

Unfortunately, I also don't plan ahead for the challenges, or conflicts in life. Not a week later a friend calls me up for a lunch date. I stumble into a problem by asking her when she wants me to meet her. Now, it is Friday morning, Prayer is at noon... She specifies 11:30 AM. What do I do? Yeah, agree to it and ditch prayer! Oh, oops, I ponder if a hamburger might have some spiritual importance. No, God didn't go for that one either.

I have to make a plan to avoid this problem. After some serious thought, I realize I can stake out meeting times and schedule around them. I will keep control of my schedule. Once again, I climb that hill, victory is mine!

Sure enough, the next social invitation rolled around on a day of a prayer meeting. This time I was ready. I carefully explained I was busy from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. My friend elected to meet me after prayer. Yes! This works. Confident I'd never let myself down, ever again, I turned my attention to other matters.

I had gotten an invite to co-host a pod cast because of one of my email rant-o-thons. I carefully prepared notes and other information the host would need and began to play the ever popular: "When can we schedule this?" game. The first week I was about as easy to track down as a Mexican Jumping Bean. Week two, I was around, but on this particular Wednesday night, I had a prayer meeting in 45 minutes.

My friend was totally busy and I figured it was time to disconnect my headphones, put my music on the external speakers and prep for church. My friend is in business for himself. When he finds some time to do something, he wants you NOW! This man did not get where he is by being indecisive. Any of you abuse refugees have trouble with assertive people? My newly created spine was about to be reduced back to a pile of quivering jell-o.

"Hey - poke - tap - are you there?" came a string of one-line instant messages. He wanted me to switch to Skype, so we could work together over the phone to record his show. I get totally freaked out when I have more then one thing to do at a time. I've learned to try and disguise my internal sense of panic. After some fiddling around, I finally got the headphones and mike set up. Now, I had less then thirty minutes before prayer. No problem. I'll just use that fact to move our session...

"This is the only time I'll have available for this for the next three weeks." Note, he's just stating his fact. Did I heroically forsake the fame and fortune of pod casting for God, like the hero in Chariots of Fire? (He gave up an Olympic competition, in order to go to church). Oh heck NO! I folded like a house of cards! You know the old people-pleasing: "Well, since you put it that way, I'll ditch prayer".

As soon as I typed that response, I felt a curious sense of internal discomfort. Oh nuts, I've violated a REAL personal value. Oh well, too late now. "God, I'm gonna put you on hold, until I finish this pod cast and then we can work it out. CyberGal Out". Hmmm, I must be getting healthier, this doesn't feel good and I definitely won't do it again...

Damn, maybe I really am building character, wow!.

My friend was being challenged by several unexplained technical problems making it impossible to do a quality recording for his program. At this point I started to pray that God would help him solve the difficulty. It didn't resolve, and I had the crazy notion that I'd better finish getting dressed, in case I could still, actually make it to church! I ached to pray that the problems WOULDN'T get fixed, but I stopped myself. But as the minutes ticked by and my friend was still having problems I rejoiced when he threw in the towel with: "Go, on to church, this computer is having a problem."

Inside I cheered. I'd already explained to my ride that I may not be able to come. Now, when she called to let me know she was downstairs, I like Cinderella waltzed triumphantly, into my carriage and off to church!

Prayer had the largest attendance I'd ever seen over my year at this church. A lady got saved and a wonderful time was had by all. My friend, being the class act he is, rejoiced with me. So, "...when the moon is in the second house, and Jupiter Aligns with Mars..." We'll both be available, at the same hour to record his pod cast.

I hope the next time I'm confronted with an objection to my planned prayer commitment, that I'll stick to my guns and not do a fabulous imitation of a waffle!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meet My New Peace Lilly!

Well, hot damn, I'm now blessed with a Peace Lilly! I don't remember its technical name. Leaves are shiny and the older onse get wrinkled (like the one on the top right). I did a favor for a neighbor and she graced me with this beautiful plant, which I am nervous about caring for.

I searched the net and discovered that this plant is from the tropics and can handle temperatures from 60 degrees F. to 90 degrees F. That is pretty much the range in this area. Supposedly this plant needs to go into "dormant" states from time to time lasting for from six to eight weeks.

Being moved, re-potted, or blooming causes the plant to need to take this rest. What is making me crazy, is when the plant goes "dormant" I'm advised to not water it at all until it totally dries out. Normally it needs water once a week. If it isn't in the mood for a plant nap, wouldn't withholding water be like torturing the poor thing? The literature says, this treatment duplicates the weather of the tropics.

So, if any of you recognize whether this plant looks like it wants to go dormant, please, leave me a comment. It is totally beautiful and I really fear hurting it, or worse.

I live in a very small space. I recently got a bigger refrigerator from my landlord and have added fruit and vegies to my diet! The three foot square area where my little plant now lives is my only counter space. This plant was all scrunched up when I first got it. Its leaves were all pointing almost straight up. Now, it has spread out and is adding leaves almost weekly. I really have to love something to let it have that precious kitchen real estate! I just know its going to take over the whole table!

Dear Maria gently inquired where my latest blog was. Well, I've been busy. We had a six day revival at church with one of the most authentic Christian speakers I've had the pleasure to listen to. She even excited our normally non plussed teenagers! I'm trying to get the church website caught up and sometimes I just want to listen to my music and think about how cool God is.

I have a three-year-old computer and it only has 256 Mb. of RAM. (For those of you who don't get this, skip the rest of this paragraph). Updating the website, just to save, publish and upload was taking over an hour and a half. That's not counting the data entry time! I finally called my Apple rep and for $120 I'm going to be upgrading to 1.25 GB of RAM. This means that things will speed up markedly. Only harrd part, is that I have to brave putting the memory chip in myself! (To pay a tech to do it would cost in excess of another $100. Somehow, I'm warming to the idea of futzing with my Mac. Those of you that are religious - please pray I don't mess up my machine, or the $120 memory chip - thank you!

I've gotten my money plans in order and essentially will do nothing more then pay bills and save money for the next twelve months. But, thanks to some wonderful friends who have graced my life with audio, ebooks and print books, I won't miss my normal shopping haunts (much).

One last bit of humor. I am getting really tired of some of the problems with program updates and hardware, which have been floating around Apple-Land. See, when I pay schlock prices, I don't complain when the product is garbage. But when I throw down $2,000+ for a computer, by GOD, the case better not split, crack or discolor! So, in my normal style I ranted in an email to my friend who does the macnation podcast.

He said I seemed indignant. Oh, such diplomacy. I was shooting my mouth off and ranting! So, I've been invited to be on the show to cover the topic. See, that is two times when ranting in an email has secured me an opportunity! Oh, how sweet it is. And all those years of trying to act reasonable and mature to get a job! Now mind you, there is no money involved for these opportunities, but hope springs eternal. When the show gets posted to iTunes, I'll, of course, provide a link.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Recovery: God's Way.

Since I have a major traffic spike over the holidays, (all of us loners trolling the net, while we wait for the Christmas music to stop), I'm going to try and leave more content, as I wonder through the grief work I've arrived in. Monday night was an interesting combination of fighting the urge to cry and having some kind of body overload. I'd be lying in bed and suddenly my heart would start pounding and racing, like I was having an anxiety attack. I had some breathing trouble, but mentally I felt nothing. I'm not any where near done with this process.

So, I ran through Monday's events with sweet Maria, who lovingly tried to explain my friend's (and her own) viewpoint. I'm poor, they aren't and it is wrong to take from someone who is so poor. I just continued to feel cut off from humanity. Like I'm not allowed in the game.

In a way its a relief. I can scale back on gifts, radically, or fore go them all together. Why am I trying to step out of reality? I don't have to sacrifice for anything but God. I can postpone my trip to Boston and get the G5-super-duper computer I need. Maybe this is another time when I have to face what is real. I don't have the money to share. So, I'm done.

At church, Tuesday night I was angry and joked about finding my purpose. "The poor ye shall have with you always" I find job security in being poor. And "when you have a banquet, don't invite your friends, for they will just invite you again. But invite the lame, the blind and the poor. For they can't recompense you, but your Father will reward you". Yeah, I have a liscence to be selfish: so hand it over! I got asked if I was able to have a pity party alone. Actually, yes, quite comfortably, thank-you. Compared to the torture of AA meetings and their abandonment methods, this was a mild rebuke.

The lesson was on the two greatest commandments. Love God and love thy neighbor as thyself. I honestly confessed I felt shut out on this gift-giving business. Pastor brought up the idea of putting the other person's needs above my own. It suddenly hit me, people don't like me sacrificing my meager resources on their behalf (my pride), but I can sacrifice my pride on the alter for God by letting them have their way and not fighting their wishes.

We also talked about the pride on the part of the "refuser". But that isn't my problem. Although having some kind of explanation, other then just being pushed away by people I care about was comforting.

I have to rise above my hurt, anger and fear. Unlike my marriage, where my husband demanded emotion and affection out of me I had no idea how to give, backing off from sharing is easy. I'll still share, but not using my money.

When I got home from Church I logged on and started this post. My friend then emailed me, responding to my last post. I had the reasoning wrong. He, senses I try to spend more then I have. He figured this out with my declaration that he'd get his Christmas gift in Feb.! Too much sacrifice and something is out of balance. As I was reading his kind and encouraging response, I suddenly realized where my hurt really sprang from.

I use money as a front to hide behind. I may be a jerk, but I know you'll LOVE my money! My real friends are keyed into who I am as a person and don't care about the money thing. I realized I'd made money into a really filthy idol. I worshiped it because it fed my illusion of having control over my life.

This is one of the reasons God hates pride. Pride drives one to lie, to themselves first, and then to everyone else. I had to admit that I truly don't have the money I intend to spend, right nowe Therefore I have to change some of my plans. Then I was able to really cry about all the years of holding up this false front. Just like the betrayed wife, I was the last to know that I was believing a lie.

The terrific news, however, is: I'm NOT IN CRISIS! At no time did I feel the need for emergency medication, or a trip to the hospital. This was normal tears. Lasted about five minutes and my body began to relax. I was then very thankful that God has been so patient and kind with me. I still love to do the Peacock-strut, even though I'm missing all the pretty feathers! I then began to unravel why sacrificing beyond all reasonable limits seems so right to me.

My family had two basic messages for me. "God, you're EXPENSIVE! We hate you" and "Damn I wish I could make you just LOOK normal!" These two messages combined into a lethal combo which has mesmerized me until now. The message I got as a child and a teenager was the old guilt-inducing ploy: "We've sacrificed EVERYTHING for YOU!" I will literally give up food to make something happen for someone else. Is this out of balance...? Naaaah. How about absolute hysterical insanity. Looking back as an adult, the drunken speeches were not true. For sure nobody went hungry because of me!

I have always believed that two additions to my childhood would have stopped all the abuse. A credit card and several fake body parts. The credit card would have stopped the torrent of their simpering sacrifice speeches. Fake eyes and an artificial right leg would have kept my mother from her antics. She would attempting to make me look normal by scotch taping my eyes fully open, and at times, beating me senseless.

I almost could feel years of guilt and a self-imposed prison of fear dropping off of me. It is alright and even praise-worthy for me to truly care properly for myself. I rejoice when I see other troubled people begin to pull back and help themselves. So, I will give, but on a much smaller scale. An e-card will be fine until my financial situation is altered by God's guiding hand. I don't have to try and be something I'm not. I don't have to feel so damn guilty! Oh, I rejoice!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Recovery: Reality Check For Us Child Abuse Rufugees.

Holiday time again. I'm not hanging in as well this year as I thought I would. A friend of mine unintentionally has thrown me back into some extremely painful Reality Checking. This is not a mature, all-together post. I'm distraught, angry and very unhappy. This is the stuff no body has the guts to tell. Well, since nobody has thousands of dollars for real therapy, this is my contribution to the literature. Friends, I haven't lost my recovery.

"weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning"

I attempt to believe that.

Some of you will not recognize this kind of agony. For the rest of us, check out the best description of a manic depressive's depression I've found anywhere. Notice the all-or-nothing attitude? The anger?, despair? Isolation? But through it all, he knows tomorrow will be another day.

Gi' Me Wings
(Rod Stewart, Steve Harley / Chen, Savigar, Cregan, Grainger)

Driving in my car
There's nothing on the air
Play a song that'll ease my pain
D.j.s telling me
That this is what'll be
Help me I'm depressed again

My best friend disappeared
With the girl I had for years
My life's going down the drain
The skies are crying
Everybody's lying
Oh God I'm depressed again

Give me wings I'll fly away
Magnificent and free
Far away from the madding crowd
There's gotta be a place for me

The boss is on my back
I know I'm gonna crack
Looks like I'm paranoid again
Can't do nothing right
See only black and white
Oh God I'm depressed again

Give me wings I'll fly away
Magnificent and free
Far away from the madding crowd
There's gotta be a place for me

How can I plan ahead
With this hanging round my neck
Looks like I'm coming down again
Thought about it well
Analysed myself
Yeah, I'm depressed again

Give me wings I'll fly away
Magnificent and free
Far away from the madding crowd
There's gotta be a place for me

I'm down, I'm coming down again
I'm down, looks like I'm coming down again
I'm down, I'm down
Looks like I'm coming down again
I'm down, I'm down
Looks like I'm pissed off again

Now, why am I in this swamp? I'm being a butt-head, immature and HONEST! Most of the time I work really, really hard at finding all the ponies in the piles of horse shit that make up my life. Most of the time, I almost believe my rose-colored approach. With it I ignore a few basic, hard facts. (Please don't comment about self-pity, I already said I'm being a butt-head).

I'm living alone because I have found it impossible to successfully live with other people.

Most of my "friends" are people who I've never met, in the flesh. We either speak to one another over Skype, or text message one over Adium or Firefox.

I have one (sort-of) close friend, when I remember to not tell most of the truth about who I am, or what I like, or feel. But, I do know her in the flesh.

I have an amazing capacity to ignore reality and replace it with fantasies I "live in" and add to as I go along. This works great until someone reacts differently then I'd imagined they would act.

I'm getting along better at my present church, then I have anywhere. But, I am VERY careful to tow the "party" line so as to be accepted as "one of us". When depressed I want to laugh at all things religious. I want to laugh as I fill out a form as #153,724 on the Berkeley Housing Authority's "Housing Voucher Wait List". (to let them know that I still want to hang out on the list and continue to wait.) To wait for housing with people I dread being around in an area I pray I never have to live in again. The area I dread, namely a drug-infested ghetto. But the one good thing about crashing into a depression like this, is I get angry and scared enough to act like the disabled, impoverished and wretched (it helps for the workers to see me like that) person I am.

When I get upset enough to throw more begging papers at the government, Mick Jaggar captures my general sense of how life "really" is.

Out Of Focus by Mick Jaggar

I saw a glittering moon
I saw a beautiful morning

Shining on the hill

And I grabbed the cat by the tail

The future with my finger nails

But now I live in fear

It's all out of focus

It's all, baby, so unclear

It's all out of focus

It's all, baby, so unreal 

I saw towering spires,
I heard beautiful chimes,
I heard them peal

I saw visions of grace,
I saw heavenly place,
then it disappeared

Maybe I lied a little bit too much

Maybe I cried a little bit too much

I saw the future just shatter in glass 

It's all out of focus

It's all, baby, so unclear

It's all out of focus

And nothing is revealed 

I was walking on clouds,
yeah and talking so proud,

but I did not hear

Voices singing so loud,
said you're tumbling down,

to the streets of tears 

It's all out of focus

It's all, baby, so unclear

It's all out of focus

It's all, baby, so unreal

Sometime I lied a little bit too hard

Sometime I cried a little bit too hard

I saw the future just vanish like glass 

It's all out of focus

It's all, baby, so unclear

It's all out of focus

And nothing is revealed

A while back, a friend declined my offer of a birthday gift. This caused me a great deal of pain because for most of my life people want to give to me, but don't want anything I want to give to them. Somehow, an e-card feels so empty. Why don't I like e-cards by themselves? Only contact between my drunken father and myself , once I moved to California, was through letters. Then my relatives saw fit to block even that small communication. But, that's me and not my friend. He says he's happy with an e-card.

So, I figured I'd try it again at Christmas. No dice, same reaction and a polite request not to send a gift certificate. After I protested I got the: "fine, do what you want," (oh, no, I know what THAT means - 'scuse me, I'm out-of-here!) I had to let it happen. I couldn't not cry. I loathe it when I cry. I had to get to the bottom of this.

Here's my warped view and the screaming agony I'm in at the moment. It is not my friend's doing. He is just "another one" in a continuing series. I'm having trouble with the "series" aspect. The real problem is I want to be a part of his life at a level he is not comfortable with and therefore, blocking. I've done the same thing. Pushed some folks back to where I was comfortable.

I had a whacko, homeless guy bringing me all sorts of gifts. I flatly turned him down, why? I didn't want the involvement. In his case, when he found out I wasn't going to come across with the sex he wanted, he took his trinkets with his passion and moved on to the next "girl". I've also refused gifts when I felt I couldn't give anything back, usually a money issue. I like to give gifts because it is one of the ways I feel like I'm a part of something. The mail, or an e-card is like paying a bill, or trying to have a deep emotional involvement with say, my bank.

Here's the really, really irrational part. He takes gifts from his mom, his wife and kids. See, I have to face it, I ain't a part of his family and will never be a part of his family. Not like I want to be. I am not finding total relief from this maddening drive, even though I am moving farther and farther into "sanity". The other maddening drive which is not lessening is looking for a father-figure. My Pastor is stuck with that part of me. I just am having to face the reality of being alone.

Oh, I have a physical family, but just after I got married, my cousin flew into a rage when we gave her a Christmas present because:"Oh shit, now I have to buy you something. I don't want you to give me anything anymore. I don't want to have to buy you anything." I finally gave it up and have had nothing further to do with my relatives. But, hope still springs up from time to time (damn!)

I guess I still can't accept all the pain of not being wanted by my parents, my aunt or my cousin. My x-husband wanted me because he thought I was "good breeding stock". Before he discovered I refused to be a mother. Our marriage also proved (for awhile) that he really wasn't a homosexual.

I just have that sickening feeling of being "out". Oh, sure, I'll meet you, your family and I'll act appropriate. We'll engage in simple small talk. I will be so very careful. I will pass myself off as more-or-less normal. But, I'm "out".

Problem is I still long to be "in" somewhere. God is cool, but its a bit abstract. Somehow snuggling with my bedding and talking to God, at times, feels a bit empty.

The reality is when you come from severe abuse you will over react to stuff like this. Some of you may not like this post. It may upset your carefully constructed denial. You may realize that you aren't as "happy" as you thought. Give it a read in a couple of months. This blog is to document the crazy-quilt patch-work of recovery. Some days are better then others. Right now, I don't feel so good.

"But, you must have FAITH! God will..." Pardon me, right now, I say: "put a sock in it!"

I keep hearing how we Christians are to prosper and all of that "abundant life" rheetoric. Somehow I don't recall the Apostle Paul having a condo with a hot tub. He had so much crap to deal with, he openly toyed with wanting to kill himself! Now, he decided to hang around for the benefit of his "flock", but he was really, really not a happy camper in a few places.

I prefer not to do to much looking into the future. It is all I can do to keep from being in this kind of down, tantrum-esk state more often. Because the reality is I'm disabled enough that the Government has deemed it okay for me to live off your taxes until I die. (or until they change the rules - sarcastic giggle). I'm on housing lists because there is a very real chance that I won't be able to continue to pay my own rent, without help. I used to buy my own insurance, until I had to go begging to the system for help. It is only a matter of time before I'm forced to return to the world of the "drug-house in the ghetto" life-style.

I'm a tither, I am dedicated, try to be honest and not totally bullshit my church. I do, however lie about my extra income. I know what would happen if I could even find the office to write to, in order to "declare" my income. I'd be "punished". I'd have to pay out 250% of my extra income in paying my own insurance again! I played this game when I was working part-time. I even tried to declare a lousy $70 and the letter was returned. Even the Post Office couldn't find the office address I was given to write in for my "declaration"! Screw it. I am going to keep doing what I've been doing and if I end up in prison, I'll end up in prison.

I will survive and even thrive. Pastor really got on me for "lying" until he attempted to talk his landlord into taking a 50% rent reduction to "help me out". She sold the property and ignored his pitch for the "less fortunate". If I don't say anything, nobody else will say anything either.

The only time I take crap from people is when I dare to act like I might be able to get off the system. Maria knows what has happened and what will happen if I try to play by middle class rules. So, I work part-time, under-the-table and everyone (including the bureaucrat who manages all my files) is happy.

When I come face to face with how isolated and "out" I really "feel", I get a bit crazy. I'm bone tired of a whole lot of things I can't change. So, I choose to take my anti-depressants and put a happy spin on things. I am still gagging on not having that damn imagined closeness of being "in" somewhere. My friend actually admitted that "family isn't always so great". Yeah. I'll be able to ignore all of this in the morning. But right now, Neil Diamond captures my mental state.
Shilo by Neil Diamond

Young child with dreams
Dreaming each dream on your own
When children play
Seems like you end up alone

Papa says he'd love to be with you
If he had the time
So you turn to the only friend you can find
There in your mind

Shilo when I was young
I used to call your name
When no one else would come
Shilo you always came
And we'd play

Young girl with fire
Something said she understood
I wanted to fly
She made me feel like I could
Held my hand and I let her take me
Blind as a child
All I saw was the way that she made me smile
She made me smile

Shilo when I was young
I used to call your name
When no one else would come
Shilo you always came
And you'd stay

Had a dream and it filled me with wonder
She had other plans
Got to go and I know that you'll understand
I understand

Shilo when I was young
I used to call your name
When no one else would come
Shilo you always came
Come today

So, here's the deal as I see it. From time to time "reality" will bring you up short and drive you to your knees. I have always felt rootless, abandoned and rejected at a real deep level. No human being in your life can ever really fill up that hole. Sometimes God seems to be able to provide real comfort. But you will continue to chafe at the holes which still cry out, but aren't getting filled.

This is what makes the "holidays" a living hell for many of us. It is the one time of year when we get a real in-your-face, reminder that we "know" no one and belong "nowhere". Even though I'm a Christian, this song still speaks to me when I'm grappling with all of the above.
Wandering Spirit by Mick Jaggar

When all the twelve Apostles try to ring me on the phone

Take a message but I won't return their call

For I have no eyes to see him and I thought I lost my way

And I know I've lost the keys to your door 

And I climbed the highest mountain and I looked down on the sea

And I saw a ship a-sail to the shore

I took a passage to the East and I journeyed to the West

I made love from Battambang to Baltimore 

I said, oh, am I running in a race

I said, oh, am I getting anyplace

I said, oh, can I make it 

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit, yes I am a restless soul

I'm a wandering spirit, there's no place that I can call my own 

I was a glutton at the banquet and I spilt the finest wine

Trod the pyramids and ruins of Angkor

I kissed the Mona Lisa and I breakfasted with kings

And I touched the nerves of nature in the raw 

I said, oh, am I running in a race

I said, oh, take that smile right off your face

I said, oh, I can't make it

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit, no escape, no parole

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit, there's no place that
I can call my home

I said, oh, am I running in a race

I said, oh, take that smile right off your face

I said, oh, I can't make it 

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit, looking for a place to go

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit

I'm a wandering spirit, no escape, no parole

I'm a wandering spirit, I'm a lost and lonely soul
And now, I want to show you a song by Bob Dylan that captures better then anything else I've found, why living in the ghetto is so bad. This is a raging hard-rock blues tune. Truly a work of truth.

The Groom's Still Waiting At The Alter by Bob Dylan

Prayed in the ghetto with my face in the cement,
Heard the last moan of a boxer, seen the massacre of the innocent
Felt around for the light switch, became nauseated.
She was walking down the hallway while the walls deteriorated.

East of the Jordan, hard as the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the burning of the page, Curtain risin' on a new age,
See the groom still waitin' at the altar.

Try to be pure at heart, they arrest you for robbery,
Mistake your shyness for aloofness, your shyness for snobbery,
Got the message this morning, the one that was sent to me
About the madness of becomin' what one was never meant to be.

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the burning of the stage,
Curtain risin' on a new age,
See the groom still waitin' at the altar.

Don't know what I can say about Claudette that wouldn't come back to haunt me,
Finally had to give her up 'bout the time she began to want me.
But I know God has mercy on them who are slandered and humiliated.
I'd a-done anything for that woman if she didn't make me feel so obligated.

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the burning of the cage,
Curtain risin' on a new stage,
See the groom still waitin' at the altar.

Put your hand on my head, baby, do I have a temperature?
I see people who are supposed to know better standin' around like furniture.
There's a wall between you and what you want and you got to leap it,
Tonight you got the power to take it, tomorrow you won't have the power to
keep it.

West of the Jordan, west of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the burning of the stage, Curtain risin' on a new age,
See the groom still waitin' at the altar.

Cities on fire, phones out of order,
They're killing nuns and soldiers, there's fighting on the border.
What can I say about Claudette?
Ain't seen her since January,
She could be respectably married or running a whorehouse in Buenos Aires.

West of the Jordan, west of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the burning of the stage,
Curtain risin' on a new age,
See the groom still waitin' at the altar.

Copyright © 1981 Special Rider Music
My friend is still my friend and the wonderful Dylan lyrics are beginning to pull me out of the worst of my mood. It does pass. I wish it wouldn't come at all, but at least I'm not spending months in a depressed and self-absorbed state. It really is getting better. My natural denial is coming back, which means I can sleep tonight and be civil with the world tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Stupidity Factor: Why Can't People Design Things Properly Any More?

(Finally, here is a post! I wrote most of it on 11/4. I'm just now getting back to speed after that nasty, nasty flu. If you get it, be good to yourself, it can really lay you out. I will try to get back to posting something once a week. Thanks for your patience.)

This is going to be a bit of a rant. I clean houses and hand mop large areas of hardwood flooring. I am not complaining about the task. With my low vision doing a floor on hands and knees gives me a chance to 'feel' where the dirt is. Using a mop, I just glide over the stuck-on stuff, never the wiser.

About eleven years ago I bought some serious knee pads. They were thick rubber with two sets of attachment straps. Due to wear, they no longer attach properly. So, I went to the local hardware store to replace them. After carefully describing what my needs are to a clerk, he came back with one choice. An unbelievably badly designed, thin rubber atrocity that I had to assemble. So ten bucks down the shoot. I mean, these things just don't work. The one strap is placed incorrectly causing the pad to drift downward while walking. But what really made me angry was the total lack of protection this device gave my knees. I would have been better off folding up one of the bathroom rugs and sliding around on it!

That last idea is also sold by my hardware store. It is called a kneeler. After trolling the Internet, I got a good look at said device. It is designed for GARDENING! Where crouching gets you to the perfect height. Now, friends, there is a design problem here. People who are up and down, on and off their knees all day long don't want to have to worry about moving their kneeling platform. People who are on and off their knees all day need more then 1/4 inch of cheap rubber between their knee and a hard surface. I can not believe my hardware store sold me what they did.

After trolling the net and being relieved of almost thirty bucks my new knee pads will arrive by November fifteenth! One of those secondary sellers on As a California resident, my state government has seen fit to force amazon and this other poor seller to warn me about the dangers from my product. (Knee pads - this I gotta see). Yes, friends this is no joke. Thanks to something called Prop. 65, I was warned that while working in dusty areas, or with wood and construction equipment, I might breathe in something harmful! Perhaps if I hold the knee pad over my nose and inhale, I might also get a rubber buzz! As David Steinberg used to say: thanks for clearing that up!

(Flash! Update. Since I didn't publish this when planned, my $30 knee pads arrived and they are worth every penny! I now can both do my job and still walk the next day. Now, I return you to the remainder of this post)

But, alas, there are mountains of stupidity out there. I own a walker. I love my walker and use it unmercifully through all kinds of weather and terrain. It is held together with various bolts and "#2 Phillips" screws. For those of you who don't know, the Phillips is the screw with a cross type head. it looks like a plus (+) sign. So, every so often one set of screws work themselves loose. The pharmacist who sold me the walker hands me a twelve inch long screw driver and I get the screws tightened up.

Twelve inches long? Yes. See the screws in question are buried deep within the handle assembly. People have difficulty looking at them, not to mention trying to tighten them, due to their insane placement. Since my x-husband worked on cars and TVs, he showed me one of the greatest inventions known to man: an angled, or 'bent' screw driver.

Take a screw driver and bend the end into a ninety-degree angle. (It forms one corner of a square). This is used a lot with wrenches. It is amazingly cool. I now own a little tool about two inches long that is bent at both ends. A Phillips on the left and a standard screw head on the right. Oh, how sweet it is!

But, why do mechanics and the like have to be understudies to Houdini? Somewhere, someone had an idea for, say my walker. After the device made it through the proof of concept stage it had to be built. Proof of concept: can/will it benefit the patient enough so that someone will buy it? Building it involves an assembly-line and efficiency.

Efficiency is in the eye of some of the workers. My troublesome screws probably go in very nicely on the shop floor. What one has to do to them once the product has been bought? Who cares?

We have the same thing within the technical / computer world. Entire careers have been spawned attempting to overcome some one's lousy design which wasn't supposed to stay in "production" for twenty years. There is some VERY bad code floating around from, oh say 1986 that some businesses have "patched" to where it still works on the Internet! Sure, there will be a day of reckoning, but the coding monkey who did the last set of revisions is gone, gone, gone!

I long for the day when people again know more then just their little slice of reality. Apple had a great idea, they'd have their computer talk to you. It would read text from the screen. This was back in the eighties. This was wonderful for the blind, right? Not quite. In order to get the computer to "read" text, one had to use a mouse to "select" the desired text. Huh? So totally blind folks are locked into the PC environment because, at least Microsoft didn't require a blind person to select things with a mouse! Somebody wasn't thinking. Oh how I hate it, let me count the ways.

But alas, I am also capable of being stupid. While acquiring the worst flu bug in years, I felt I could crank out a post on this blog. Oh how wrong I was. I had typing problems. Not because I didn't use a spell checker, but because I didn't proof it after the spell checker gave me a clean bill of health. Bat and bet are both correctly spelled words. However, context determines which one is actually correct. Well, after I thoroughly check this post, I'll go back and re-check my last post!

But, I have one last product lament. Right now, men's deodorants are pretty straight-forward solid stick affairs. But, gentlemen, your day is coming. I present the dumbest innovation I've ever had the displeasure of using.

I won't name the product, to hide their shame. It looks like a regular solid stick roll on. But upon opening it, I discovered a grill work over the top of the container. I figured it was a decorative way of keeping it fresh until I purchased it. After much serious tugging, I removed the second 'top' to discover the 'pond' of product underneath.

Folks, this stuff is like a bad hand lotion in consistency. So, now I comprehend what the grill is for. See, this is a system where I can neatly apply a wet version of what I thought was a stick solid. This is totally inane! You "notch" it up by clicks. One click per arm pit. I have to really fool with this set up to evenly spread this clop. For those of you who wish to avoid all this fun. Don't buy any deodorant labeled "soft" solid.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cooking You Can Do Even When You're Half Dead.

CyberGal has the flu. Had to bail from church after 30 minutes of almost continual coughing. How do you know when you're really sick, instead of playing hookie? If, once you arrive home, you head for bed believing that it is the next best thing to heaven - you're really sick!

Got a new refrigerator and I now have twice as much room to store food as I did before. But, I HATE, I say I HATE to cook. Now that I'm down with the feverish crud, I like cooking even less. So, as a public service, I present a few recipes you can do even when you're half dead, or "before coffee" in a more normal morning.

Recommended skills:
  • Pour water into and from a small container into a bigger container.
  • Chop up stuff - not beautifully, but into bite-size, though ill-formed chucks.
  • Grate cheese.
  • Hear the difference between boiling water and frying bacon.
  • Mix stuff.
Morning Bacon-Potato-Egg and Cheese Glop

2 strips THICK raw bacon (chopped)
2-3 chopped raw potatoes, or sweet potatoes
1 Cup water
Left overs you may want to add just to get rid of them.
1 Onion
Garlic to taste
2 Cups graded cheese. Pick your pleasure. Set aside in LARGE serving bowl.
2 raw eggs, beaten, set aside.

In either a large frying pan, or any old rice cooker, throw in everything except the cheese and beaten eggs.

Put stove burner, or rice cooker on high and let it boil, until the water is gone and you hear bacon start to sizzle. DO NOT cover! Water won't evaporate as fast with a cover on pot.

Once bacon starts to sizzle, make a hole for the eggs, throw them in and stir vigorously until they are cooked. This doesn't take very long.

Remove from head, pour from pot on top of the waiting grated cheese in your serving bowl. Mix well. and EAT.

I've just managed to cook the above running a fever and barely with enough intelligence to post this. So, this has truly been idiot-tested. Enjoy.

It's Almost As Good As Having A Wife Every Day Rice Dinner

This is set up for a rice cooker. For those brave enough to attempt rice on top of a stove - I'll pray for you, but I recommend you get a rice cooker ASAP!

My rice cooker comes with a 3/4 C scooper. It is idiot proof. 1 scoop of raw BROWN rice to three scoops of water. White rice (Yuck) is 2 scoops of water to one scoop of rice.

Whatever the size of your rice cooker's scoop. Use the scoop. For those of you without a rice cooker, I'll use 1 cup as a reference.

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 portion of some meat source: hamburger, chicken, fish, whatever - to be re-heated by, or thoroughly cooked via the steam tray above your cooking rice.
1 portion of vegetables of choice, also to be cooked in the steam tray of rice cooker.
Garlic to taste
Barbecue sauce to taste. (1 to 2 tablespoons)
small amount of chicken broth powder (optional)
3 cups water

This is so easy - its scary!

Throw the rice, water, garlic, BBQ sauce into rice cooker.
Put one or two steamer trays above rice cooker (they come with the rice cooker) filled with your meat and vegetables.
Cover cooker and steamer trays
Put that baby on high and turn it on.

When you hear the rice cooker shut itself off (You must get a cooker with this feature). Your dinner is ready!

I love brown rice, always have. I go through a lot of it and just adding that one thing to my diet dropped my slightly high cholesterol down to the normal range!

CyberGal's bonus nutritional recommendations:

* Never forget desert. Ice cream is always good.

For those of you into seriously healthy food (tofu, green tea and vege burgers) When you need quick energy:

* coffee, white sugar and petrochemicals (to taste).

Our church has a quick lunch guaranteed to get any health fanatic back on track.
potato chips with dip
Hot link with bun and some kind of dressing: Ketchup or Thousand Island Dressing
Hawaiian Punch with ice. (You don't need desert - this drink has enough sugar to fulfill any craving.).

Due to being ill, i missed the above lunch. This bizarre combo is now like "comfort" food for me. I associate it with warm conversation and lots of laughs.

And now, I return to bed, while my fever spikes and sleep takes hold once again.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Being A Woman, Revisited.

Basically, I am a worldly, mouthy and at times profane Christian. I don't particularly like some of this, but I now realize why it has been so hard to uproot the habits of a lifetime. Hello sexual abuse, I thought I was done with all of this!

I have a close friend who is a very serious and sensitive Christian. He is not judgmental, or self-righteous. There are just verbal behaviors that he is sensitive to. He also knows, as we've explored the topic, that at times, I have no clue as to when I've "crossed the line", in terms of "polite" mixed company sharing.

Yesterday we were deeply involved in our usual text messaging tennis match, which I truly enjoy. He reacted to my tale of woe from college, (flunking out of engineering) with a deliberately exaggerated macho rant GUARANTEED to illicit a response from yours truly:
"See, that's what you get for thinking. Like I keep telling all the little ladies, if God meant you to think then he woulda made you'all the head.

Don't worry your little head about it, just take care to keep things tidy and make up a meal now and again and it'll all work out just fine. (all said with a thick southern accent rolling about my head, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek)"
I reacted with a blatantly sexual retort along with aggressive commentary, I knew would have him laughing. NOT!

He responded with the remark that I'd "crossed over the line". I immediately apologized for offending him. He replied that it wasn't about offending him, but this was not appropriate conversation for mixed company.

I had to get ready for a meeting and couldn't continue this conversation. I am thankful for feedback like this. Most of the time, I have one of those: "oops" moments, but I was really confused. I couldn't figure out what I'd done wrong. My friend had discussed how "Christians" act with one another.

Well, hell 99 per cent of my really good male buddies aren't Christian, or at least, they aren't working on sanctification! They'd have been rolling on the floor. We joke about sex all the time. The married man's wife is right in there with me and the other gentleman. Both these guys are gentlemen. We have grown to deeply care for each other. I know when I'm being trashed. They have never been offended, nor have I, over conversations which stray into the mildly sexual. it just feels like a normal part of communication.

However, I knew my Christian friend was correct. I'd never joke around like that with friends from church. This is the one area where I'm still leading a double life. I began to investigate why I had no gut level "feel" for what not to discuss in mixed company. I was surprised, the information and habit pattern, not even childhood rules were there in my memory. I wondered why.

Then I remembered. I was the risque entertainment for my family's drinking parties! No wonder I had no sense of what is correct behavior in mixed company. I was taught to parade around in front of a room full of drunken strangers in my training bra and panties! I immediately felt a wave of sadness run through me. Yeah, what to do in polite company was simply a theory for me. Something like reading about proper behavior in front of the Queen of England. (I've never practiced that one either!) More sadness.

Then I pondered why I always work hard at being aggressively outrageous. I try and come off with an offensive, macho-woman stance I know turns men off sexually. I also am very glad I'm one hundred pounds overweight. I know that is another protection against unwanted sexual attention. But I'm now in my fifties, hardly a tantalizing bombshell, normal weight or not. I realize I'm thawing out inside. I'm beginning to feel that longing for a husband, to be held and all the rest of the part of life I have failed at so miserably.

Then the light bulb came on. I'm still terrified of letting anyone get close enough to me to trick me like the man who battered me did. When he called me a "fairy princess" I totally let down all my barriers. A few years ago, a man told me I was pretty. I got so frightened, I almost lost consciousness. So, I make sure no one can get at my core. If I let my softer side show, I might try and trust again. Not a good idea, since every intimate relationship I've experienced has been more violent and destructive then the last. I follow Nancy Reagan and just say "NO!"

But God is His wisdom and mercy wants to heal this tangled mess. I adore dressing up for church in really expensive dresses. Silk, conservative lace and gold patterns. Beautiful earrings, necklaces and bracelets. To know my hair is professionally styled, colored and highlighted. These all produce wonderful feelings. Church is safe. No one would dare to touch me wrong, with the Pastor only yards away!

I see men who are as damaged as I am. They stumble over basic conversation. We are learning we can trust one another. It is really quite sad to see a 45 year old man, so beaten down that, to ask me if I'd like some coffee, makes him tremble and sweat. Oh, how I can relate!

I feel like I've accidentally built a prison for myself, all because of fear. God will help me, but turning over some of these rocks is mighty painful. I know, as I continue to emerge from my pseudo maleness, that whole new worlds will open up for me. I encourage all of you, try not to run from that acute pain. I couldn't face any of this without the God I have come to know, feel and trust. I'm also thankful for honest feedback. There are just little pockets of "normal" I only know as interesting theories!

Also, sometimes someone will bring you up short on a behavior and you know you can't bear to hear it at the moment. Healthy people respect "not now". When I finally calmed down enough to where I felt I wouldn't hang up on my friend, I requested his information. THAT was such a blessing! Healthy people don't need to play the emotional "bulldozer" game. You remember, where you know you are too defensive to be rational, but they just run you over anyway? Yeah, I really hate having to explain one of my "disappearing acts" to people, when I don't like their observations!

I am learning to have enough faith to to tell the truth. It is really scary to admit to a friend that they've hurt me, and I don't want to talk about it any more. I waited to be run over, instead my friend moved onto other conversation. Amazing. My friend didn't even argue with me about what I was feeling! Recovery is exciting, confusing, painful and one whale of a lot of work, but it is worth it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Psychiatric Medication Banancing Act.

After almost two hours of very thorough work, on my HMO's part and mine, I give these people an "A". What frightened me so seriously about starting over with a new Psychiatrist, was the very assertive tone this woman took with me over the phone. We were going to change my medication. That's fine, but all she had was my past medical charts. When I have been in the hospital I've seen the hell some patients had to go through when their medication was adjusted incorrectly.

The application of medication to serious mental illness is part science and part art. Some patient's body chemistry doesn't take to, or reacts to well with a given medication, or set of medications. I have seen some of the most compassionate and hard-working behavior while in the psychiatric hospital. It is a life and death battle where the doctors and staff, at times weep right along with the agonized patient. Medication is not a magic bullet, or a cure-all. But for me, and patients like me, it has been a gift from God.

So, since I knew I was in for a fist-full of forms, I gave myself an extra hour before my scheduled appointment. It was one hell of a walk down memory lane. The first set of questions deal directly with the most common reason for becoming a patient, suicide. The last time I filled out this sheet I was critically ill for all questions, in 90% of the areas covered. Today, I truthfully answered "no" to 99% of these critical questions.

I have always believed and strongly advise, any psychiatric patient to tell the truth - all of it, to the best of your ability. I have a sleep disturbance problem. I've had it all my life. When I've gotten special medication to deal with it, I become groggy, almost to the point of being in a stoopper. So, I let myself sleep in shifts. I also drink a lot of coffee every day.

Both of these conditions can be reasons to change, or eliminate a particular medication. I told the truth anyway. I carefully explained how I was stable, even with my strange sleep schedule and high consumption of coffee. A 12-cup pot a day, spread out pretty evenly throughout the day.

Even with an hour to fill out all the forms, I wasn't finished by the time my appointment rolled around. I had put out the word to several close friends to pray that the correct medical decision would be reached. I prepared myself to make a serious effort to give this lady psychiatrist a real chance to do her job.

This was no fifteen-minute medication check-up. I was in her office for over forty-five minutes. I could actually sense the effort she was putting into searching for the answers she needed. It turns out that one of the drugs I take, a tricyclic is toxic and dangerous when taken correctly. It is also a guaranteed death sentence if used as as over-dose. For this reason, I'm not divulging the name of the drug. If you're on it, you probably already know about it.

The problem with this older medication is what it can do to a patient's heart. This was totally new information for me. This kind lady apologized for scaring me about her desire to change my medications. But I now understand why my chart was such a red flag for her. I have a heart murmur - I think that is what it is called. My heart's normal rhythm is abnormal. I skip beats, here and there, but in a way that is not dangerous to my health. It figures, my general chemistry and hormones are all messed up, so why not have a flukey heartbeat? Sheesh! I think the fact which proved the soundness of my current medications was my declining cholesterol readings. In spite of what this drug can do, I'm getting healthier!

As we talked this doctor kept misquoting my information. After three or four fumbles, I was getting confused. I had to stop and think: when do I nap in the morning? I now realize I was being tested for something. I then told her about the rare use of my emergency sedatives. I documented in this blog about a relapse I experienced. I had to take these pills to force my body to stop chemically over reacting. The doctor laughed, examining a nearly full bottle of pills over three years old!

Somewhere in this intense interview, the doctor came to the conclusion, that I really was stable and it was not a good idea to change my medication at this time. After discovering how dangerous one of my medications actually is, I was told that for a small percentage of patients, who don't quite fit the normal Bi-Polar profile, these medications make us thrive. All my heart and liver related readings are well within the normal range.

I'm not the classic Bi-Polar who swings equally from too high down to too low, but I hover on the depression side of things. I also have (or had) mild psychotic symptoms. When I'm really upset and remember an incident, I forget where I really am and what year it is. But, the doctor finally arrived at the happy conclusion that I was stable. I don't need to see her for another six months to a year, unless I run into a problem.

She gave me a slip to get my heart checked, with an EKG. We shook hands and I left her office thanking God that I didn't have to change what seems to be working so well. I was taken seriously, treated fairly and respectfully. I also now have a new Psychiatrist. Once she got the real picture of why I had the strange prescriptions I possess, she said that it was the best solution for my type of patient, but she was relieved to be sure that I was indeed stable.

I passed the EKG, which, has changed since my last one in 1984. In '84 you could hear every little heart beat, or in my case, every skipped beat. I found that feedback scary. The new test is silent. So, they put some electrodes on your chest and in five minutes, you are dressed and out of the lab. Very good. My doctor would like me to cut back on the coffee. I let her know that I really didn't want to do that, but I'd (sort of) think about it. So, to celebrate not messing with success, I went downstairs to the coffee bar and had a cranberry scone and a small mocha. See the whole culture is hyped on caffeine, a small is an eight-ounce cup! Usually I'd go for the twelve-ouncer, so, I'm sort of cutting back.

Monday, October 16, 2006

My HMO Is Reacting To An "Oops".

A couple of years ago I got the wild idea that I did not have Bi-Polar Disorder and stopped all my psychiatric medications. Six months later I was in true psychiatric crisis. After being restored via medication and through six weeks of out patient support I left that part of my life and joyously took my medications watching my mental health obtain stability and stay that way.

My Doctor put me on some pretty Strong medications, which have worked flawlessly. Unfortunately, since I don't feel ill, in any way, I forgot to call in for my routine six-month check-up. I got to it after almost eight months. Due to my doctor being on medical leave and two other doctors being unavailable, they told me to call back in another six months, when there might be better staffing. Since I am not ill, this was fine.

Well, I ran out of refills on my two heavy-duty psychiatric medications. The pharmacy warned me that I had to see a doctor before they'd issue any more prescriptions. Okay, on the very next day the psychiatric Department called me and scheduled me for January 7th or something like that.

When I called Psychiatric to alert them to what the pharmacy told me, I was cut off with: "they just didn't have the information about your appointment in January". This delivered with a certain irritation and contempt. Hey, I know what happens when I don't take the pills, okay? So, I figured its their problem and went on with my life.

All of this went down last week. I then received a call from my primary care doctor. The General Practicianer, or OBGYN doctor, who also wanted to see me. I've always wondered how the doctor who specializes in "female" problems can function as a General Practitioner, but maybe I miss the subtleties of modern medicine. So, I'm seeing a new person on November 7th.

Low and behold, I got another call from a very tired sounding Psychiatrist who told me that I'm on the wrong medications, because they don't think I'm Bi-Polar! Oh NO!

I haven't been seen by anyone in a year and my regular psychiatrist is on medical leave. Someone looked at my chart and "decided" I need a medication change. But, due to the staffing issues, I may not be seen by the doctor I'm currently speaking with, as they want to see me before my thirty-days of restricted medication are finished!

Me thinks my chart fell through a crack and now several departments are playing a complex game of Cover My Butt. I didn't get this much attention when I called Psychiatric and requested euthanasia via my psychiatrist! (But, I got in to see him within twenty-four hours!)

Let's see, One strange OBGYN doc is going ta assess my general health, by checking my femaleness, while another strange Psychiatrist is going to talk to me for fifteen minutes to determine if I need different medications. Yeah, this sure feels like a game of Cover My Butt.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Presants: Sharing and Expanding Love.

One of the true differences between the dysfunctional and healthy life, is the noticeable absence of excitement. No more frantic emergency calls to medics, fire or police departments. No more screaming fights. Gone are those poignant moments of personal hysteria. Replaced with a sense of feeling 'lost' and even bored!

Healthy living is quiet, gently pleasant, but much more predictable. You are not functioning in that high-adrenaline state of crisis. For awhile in recovery, I'd start problems, just to recapture what I thought was a normal day of, what else? Emergencies!

Happiness is far different also. In my childhood, most of the time I was extremely unhappy and lonely. I never knew what would set my mother, or my aunt off on one of their screaming 'lectures'. My mother would recount how they thought I had died at birth and how wonderful (?) it was that I had actually lived. Depending on how drunk my mother was, determined how sad she became at the news of my "life". I just got numb and endured.

Then holidays would roll around and everything changed. Christmas was the most amazing transformation. No matter how angry everyone was, come Christmas, all was well and there were presents. Lots of them. Presents were great, and really good stuff. My birthday was always a mixed affair due to me being so close to an April fool's baby! Thank God I came in early on April 2nd. But the huge wrapped empty box was a yearly occurrence I always fell for. I had to hide how hurt I was in the name of family 'fun'.

Then, just as fast as it had arrived, Christmas was over and our family returned to the normal behavior of hating our lives and one another. But, that rush of presents. What a lovely feeling! To this day I love that process of thinking about, baiting the receiver and actually giving presants. Baiting the receiver is the cute number begun around September. "Boy, wait till you see what you're getting for Christmas!" This was the cue for me to play a sneaky game of twenty questions: "Can I eat it?" Much fun can be had with this answer, as almost anything can be used as an 'attempted' food item. This was one of the few games in our family that was truly a game and not a disguised way of hurting one another. Amazing.

Then there was the wrapping and placing under the tree. Everyone, kids and adults would scope out their gifts. Shaking, turning, squeezing and in any other 'acceptable' manner, exploring that box. It was truly fun and a clean exchange of positive feelings, that were not communicated at any other time.

Then there was the food. Not just the extravagant Christmas and New Year dinners, but exceptional breakfasts and 'snacks'. Can you read: cookies, candy, little cakes and strudels. It was truly like someone flipped a switch and all the rules disappeared! There were some really sweet moments at this time of year.

The down side, of course, was the drunken parties, ambulance visits for bombed guests who'd fallen down the basement stairs (still clutching their now broken glass!) The dead-of-night flights from Arizona to California, when my mom went into the hospital for cancer and the confusion of Christmas in a foster home. But more good then bad for sharing of gifts and expressing love.

At 53, I do not consider I have a 'blood' family. Oh, they are alive, but I've made my amends and peace with them. For my own sanity, I choose not to deal with them. Just after I got married in 1972 I bought a present for my Cousin and she got mad, because she felt she had to buy for me and she didn't want that obligation any more. Oh yeah, that one hurt, but hope springs eternal and it took me years to give up on ever getting her to love me. I don't think she has it in her due to her own childhood abuse.

So, I have friends who are the closest I have to family. I was sadly surprised at how many people absolutely refuse gifts. Since most of my friends are older married men from technical backgrounds, they aren't subtle. "No, I don't do gifts. That way I don't owe you anything". Some folks respond in silence. I find this sad, but it is the way of our world.

When I find a receptive gift receiver, it is fun. I have a game developer friend who is a book hound. So, a nice chunk of change sends him off to to lose his mind in an afternoon of book browsing. He went on to unravel a windy tale of looking up his list of favorite books. Then chasing down amazon's recommendations. Finally, he'd see what other customers had recommended. By this point several hours had fled by and he'd forgotten his original desired book! Gee, he had to do it all over again! Now, that was a terrific email!

Then there are the people I'm really close to. Linda, though she can drive my crazy is also a giver. She listened to my description of the $150 radio I was exploring and offered to buy it for me on the spot! I accepted with the understanding that it was for both Christmas and my birthday. It is a great radio! She is like me, and this year is tantalizing me with the declaration that she has bought me a book for Christmas. But, not just any book... Well, that could be almost anything. I have expensive tastes in books, like I do with everything else. Sigh! It will be fun to gently try and pry hints from her as we near Christmas. For sure, I'll have my ears up, looking for the hint and wishes she has for her gift. She's another one who loses her mind at Oh, hearing about that will be fun!

Then there is dear Phillip. He likes eCards and prefers to forgo the gifts. For him it is an issue of money. He has four kids and most of his friends have four, or more kids and they'd all be broke attempting to buy for each other. Also, there is the financial pressure. Work has been a bit lean and I believe this is the main reason for a request for only an eCard. Having been broke ever since entering the Social Security System in 1982, I sure know how depressing it can be to get something from someone and know before you open it, that you can't give anything in return. Oh, that pain can be brutal.

So, when his fortunes turn around, which I have no doubt they will, I'll e-mail off a gift certificate celebrating "Happy Everything". A practice of my x-husband. He hated all tradition and refused to do anything at its scheduled time! So, we got and gave presents in the middle of February, or June, any time other then the official date of birth, marriage, or other holiday. (No rebellion in that personality!)

When I'm not playing macho-girl, I'm a sentimental soul. I like those cards that acknowledge a great friendship, mother, or how cool God is. The stuff you get embarrassed to read - but secretly are glad to receive. Goodness can never be acknowledged enough. Oh, I love letting that side of myself out! I used to hide it so well, I'd lost sight of it after awhile. Recovery is all about different levels of love. I am free to cut people some slack, because I'm learning I'm not perfect now, and don't think I'll get there by tomorrow either!

If I really love someone, I need to hear what makes their heart happy. Everyone is touched by something, but the "something" is different for different people. There is a fascinating book about people's "love" languages. Some people really feel loved from simple attention, or remembering them with a small token. Some folks only really feel loved behind the BIG gift. Some people are into touch and being pampered, or fussed over. My sweet Maria is like that. Making her a cup of coffee really does something for her. I enjoy it, but not in the same way she does. She reacts to pampering, like I do to my vacations!

When Phillip protested my teasing threat of "choose where your gift certificate comes from, or else you get amazon!" I was truly surprised. But, its his, and not my party. So I found a cool eCard and e-mailed it off. I enjoy watching my relationship with Phillip grow and change. It is subtle, but always apparent. Ever deepening levels of being real with one another. Making it safe to tell the truth when you know you are being a bit unreasonable, impatient, or peevish. We both like to talk, so text messages are part of the tapestry of many days.

I love the rough and tumble banter which always seems to develop. I give as good as I get. I know when I'm seriously being attacked, as compared to a verbal snowball fight. So many little moments of humor and creativity. This is the real deal.

No more do I need the drama of my early life. I am relaxed, engaged and intrigued with the people and events in my life as they unfold before me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bi-Polar Disorder and Caffine: What A Miracle!

When my medications are balanced correctly, I am as mentally healthy as the next person. If I decide to be stupid, attempting to stay up for twenty-four-hours, stop my medication, or abuse other drugs. My Bi-Polar Disorder will reassert itself in all of its terrifying glory. It is very hard to remember, when I am feeling well, that, like it, or not, I've got a medical condition which must be monitored and treated with respect.

I have stopped drinking booze for two reasons. First of all, my religious denomination really frowns on it, and I hate leading a "double" life. Also, after even moderate drinking, I experience a mild "let down". Nothing serious, but I got a bit weary with that symptom also.

I'm a committed caffeine addict. I usually have a pot of coffee a day, spread out pretty evenly throughout the day. From my last post, you could see, that I was challenged by my Pastor and basically went to emotional pieces. I flagged this, as a possible warning, that all was not right with my current medication.

I ran out of coffee and just didn't feel like going shopping. But, bless Jesus, I found a stash of coffee! What I didn't realize, was that it was decaffeinated. So, CyberGal went cold turkey off a lot of caffeine all at once. This is NOT a good idea, even if you aren't Bi-Polar. The headaches are killers! But, I blamed them on that wonderful gift from Eve, The Change of Life.

I finally felt well enough to go to church last night, but was drop-dead exhausted after only a few hours. Something was wrong. Serious depression can come on you slowly, or quickly. I went from normal balance to a critical emergency within six hours once. I have done my homework and have plans for various states of dis-ease. My vision was starting to get strange and I was becoming hyper sensitive to pain. These two symptoms are serious markers for me. I figured I'd be going to my HMO within a few days, if I kept feeling so out-of-it.

After a nap today I woke up in serious trouble. My mental ability to logically think was almost completely absent. My vision was getting really fluky and I was having trouble understanding what was being said on the radio. These are the things which happen to me when I need to go to the hospital. I'm not crying, but I'm totally out of it, unable to answer questions, or construct a normal English sentence. Time to get serious.

Before trotting down to my HMO for a seventy-two hour vacation in lock-down, I always make sure I have eaten a good meal and had at least one cup of coffee. I was barely able to make it through giving the waiter my order, but I just bluffed through it, claiming I needed coffee. I ordered a full balanced breakfast with coffee.

I immediately began to sense I was coming out of the funk I had been in. This may not work for everyone who is Bi-Polar, but, it sure worked for me. It was exactly the same "back to normal" feeling I experienced when I returned to my psychiatric medication after being off them for six months.

Being a responsible patient, I've started to "chart" my moods. If I'm "swinging" too much, even if I like the 'up' part, I have to get my medication adjusted. I have to call the shots here. If I change my medication when there isn't a need, I can throw myself into an emotional crisis of being to "up". That's where you think you can cover a semester's worth of work in a few hours!

My doctor has to trust my reporting - until I'm so messed up, that the hospital is an obvious choice. Everyone concerned prefers not to let things get that far out of hand. There is respect on both sides. My doctor knows I'm not playing games and I know my doctor really listens to my feedback. We truly work together. The happy result being, most of the time, I'm healthy.

I thank God for the dedicated folks who invented, tested and produced my medication. The Psychiatric Unit can be a discouraging place. Not all patients who get into trouble live through the battle. When I fully recovered from being off my medication for six months, my doctor got a bit teary. We both knew how close I'd come to not "making it back."

I've also discovered something wonderful about my church. Pastor was attempting to teach me how to "strive toward the mark". First Lady really cleared up my confusion when she shared that, my pain is REAL and they don't expect me to go straight from where I am to having total faith. I don't have to act like a performing monkey. It is okay to learn a new skill. I do want to be delivered from my fears and especially my excessive, I-want-it-all, anger. Once again, those wonderful "old tapes" from the past did not serve me well. I am thankful these folks have a better way. I have hope again, because I'm not afraid of having to be perfect by next Sunday.