Anniversary

Thursday, July 31, 2014
One year ago today, the Parker Police Department came to our door to tell us that our daughter was dead, having taken her own life the night before.

And I would be lying if I claimed this last year has been anything other than tortuous.

My grief is less sharp now, but it's a constant, dull ache that infuses every moment of every day. I don't remember what it feels like to not be carrying this burden, and the guilt and self-loathing that goes with it. What if I hadn't been traveling so much the last year of her life? What if I had made more of an effort to check on her, to confirm that her mental health was stable? How could I have missed this, and failed my child so profoundly, in the worst way imaginable?

I don't know the answers to these questions, and probably never will. But they haunt me every day.

Grief is a complex thing. Since Moe's death, I have grieved for her, alone in her suffering, until she could see only one terrible choice. I have grieved for Linda, her Sister of the Heart, who now has a huge hole in her own. I have grieved for the Smart Man, Moe's "Poppa," who lost his relationship with Moe just as they had come to love one another. I have grieved for all of Moe's family, whether they're my family or not, for their loss of such an amazing, gifted human being.

But now I find that most of all, I am grieving for myself. I'm grieving for the time I will never have with her. I'm grieving for the loss of the one person in this world who was "most like me." I'm grieving for the grandchildren I'll never know, her life's partner who will never be, and the satisfaction that comes with raising my daughter to be a happy, productive adult.

I've lost parts of myself, surely, parts that I may never get back. My desire to care for myself and my health. My desire to connect with others in profound and meaningful ways. My ability to love my life in all it's messiness and unpredictability. 

But most of all, I've lost the feeling that what I am is enough, that my impact on this world has been meaningful to the people I care about, and that the world is a better place for having me in it. I worked hard to achieve this personal success, and I grieve daily for its loss.

And I can't shake the feeling that all this grief and suffering is a direct result of my own failure, and could have been avoided if I had just been a better parent, a better friend, a better listener. But I wasn't, and now she's dead, and it's too late.

I know intellectually this isn't my fault. She was a grown woman, responsible for her own life and health, who used her own agency to make her own decisions.

But I wish someone could tell my heart.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Short Version because I'm in New Jersey Edition

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Apparently the ability of young children to distinguish fact from fiction varies considerably with exposure to religion, two new studies have found. I find this study completely, utterly believable. Perhaps because when the Smart Sailor was 5 or 6, he heard the Easter story for the first time and asked, "Mom, is this history or myth?" That's my boy.
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I can't decide if Congresswoman Renee Ellmers' comments about how to communicate effectively with women make me want to laugh hysterically or throw up in my mouth. Apparently everyone knows women “need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go,” and "Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that." Because everyone knows math is hard and my ladybrain is incapable of critical analysis. Go back to the kitchen with Phyllis Schlafly, Congresswoman, if that's where you think we belong. I'll be out here in the real world, making my decisions on actual data and facts.
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Video of the Week: The British Humanist Associated put together this video about how humanists look at death. Quoted for truth.


People Behaving Poorly

Monday, July 28, 2014
You know, the Smart Man and I have a tendency to keep to ourselves. And by that I mean that we're not "joiners." With the exception of my seat on the Library Board of Trustees, we're not really engaged in our community from that perspective, although we do participate in the various human services drives around the County, such as school supply drives, Thanksgiving dinner giveaways, Toys for Tots, Adopt-a-Family, etc. But we really don't want to join. 

And there's a reason for that. People do not know how to act. 

The latest example of this truism occurred yesterday at our local dog park. We like to take Miss Jackson there so she can run herself out several days a week, and up until yesterday, our experiences with other dog owners has been overwhelmingly positive. Yesterday, however, brought quite a few larger dogs to the park, many of whom liked to play roughly. One dog owner thought the play was too rough for her taste, so she put her dog on leash and went for a walk in the open space surrounding the park, instead. That was her prerogative, as the dog park is an public space where you don't get to impose your personal rules on others. The rest of us were keeping a sharper eye on the dogs that remained, though, to ensure things didn't get out of hand. In other words, a normal day at the dog park.

And then a man came in with his dog, a small terrier. As dogs at dog parks do, the remaining dogs crowded around to inspect and greet the newcomer. The other dogs then started to engage in rough play. Well, evidently this owner didn't like the way the larger dogs were ganging up on his terrier, so instead of calling out to the other pet owners to help break it up, he barged into the pack and picked up his dog. The other dogs (of course) were still very much interested in the terrier, so they didn't back off, but were still pushing to get to the terrier. Not in an aggressive way, mind - all their ears were forward, no tails were tucked.

So this guy decides that at this point, his best course of action is to start kicking the larger dogs.

I already had Jax by the collar when this occurred, as I went and collected her when it appeared things were getting too intense for the terrier's owner, and the Smart Man was right behind me. All the other owners converged on the scene as well, pulling their dogs back, to give the man a chance to get his dog away. But apparently we weren't moving fast enough for him, as he continued to kick at the dogs.

One of the dogs that got kicked belonged to a huge man who was at the park with his daughter. He blew his top, charged the guy and pushed him really hard while shouting about the guy kicking his dog. The pusher pushed him hard enough that the kicker fell on the concrete, dropped his dog, and just laid there. I was still holding Jax away from the action, but the other folks crowded around the kicker to make sure he was all right.

The entire incident made me sick to my stomach. While I had empathy for both owners (people who care about their dogs have a tendency to defend them, after all), both of them behaved deplorably. The entire thing made me want to wade in and treat them both like recalcitrant children, and order them to use their words. 

And this, in a nutshell, is why the Smart Man and I have no interest in getting involved with "community" groups. Any time you find yourself in non-self selected groups, there is always going to be members who don't know how to act, and cause conflict and confrontation as a result. I'm required to put up with such shit in a professional context, and I'm well compensated for my trouble. But at the dog park? In the neighborhood? Fuck that. I'll stick with the people who have proven to me that they do know how to act.

People suck.

Shit Ain't Seemly

Friday, July 25, 2014
I was perusing Linked In the other day, and I saw a link to a post written by a guy who signed his name, "Joe Shmoe, MBA."

I don't think I'm the only one who thinks "douchecanoe" when I see someone sign their name with "MBA," but I do wonder - do these folks honestly think that others are impressed by this? If I need someone who has a specific certification - such as an M.D. who's also a neurosurgeon - I do want to know about your schooling and qualification. But an MBA? That shit ain't seemly.

On a similar note, I've also noted that people seem to stretch the truth a bit when they're pursuing public recognition.

For example, Colorado has veteran's license plates that available to vets for no additional charge. You have to qualify for the plates you want, and bringing in your DD 214 or military ID card is required.

But the criteria is pretty loose, in my opinion. In order to get plates related specifically to a conflict (Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.), you have only to prove you were on active duty at some time during the duration of the conflict. Specific Medal plates (such as Bronze Star, Navy Cross, etc.) have much more specific criteria.

Now I have the Southwest Asia Service Medal. It's on my DD 214, and I did in fact spend time in the region in question during the conflict. But the fact of the matter is that while I have the medal, no one actually shot at me during that time. My ship was in a support role, and it would make me profoundly uncomfortable to claim public status as a vet of that conflict. It's not appropriate. Shit ain't seemly. So I have U.S. Navy plates instead, and I'm glad to have them.

But I know for a fact that not everyone feels that way. I know for a fact that people claim status symbols that they have not strictly earned. I know that there are a lot of douchecanoes out there. While I don't think it's appropriate for me to confront the posers (because, Nunya), it does tell me some things about the person in question. Because that shit ain't seemly.

And I think I should totally append my signature with "Wielder of TSoD."

Link Me Up, Scotty - Social Justice and Fatigue Edition

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Welcome to my world.
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And here's some more data that (may) encourage people to check their privilege at the door. Not that I'm holding my breath for the dudebros, the MRAs, and the baby boomers to suddenly leap up in inspirational enlightenment. No. No, I'm not.
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And the conflict in the Middle East goes on...and on...and on. While I realize that isolationism is not a political position that would end well for us, the continued bad behavior in that region of the world makes it very hard to keep it mind. My shippie Jim Wright explains why.
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From the "Thank you, Captain Obvious" files.
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My high school pal, fellow vet, and professional journalist Chris Tomlinson was featured on Terry Gross' Fresh Air on Monday to talk about his new book Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name - One White, One Black. My copy was delivered to my Kindle yesterday, and I can't wait to read it.
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The President has signed an Executive Order barring Federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of sexual orientation...with no religious exemption. While I'm sure the religious right is currently having apoplexy, I'm chortling like a loon. Hehehe.

Now let's see if it sticks.
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Brother Eric examines Speaker Boehner's so-called "legal action" against the President with predictable results. Oh, how I long for the days of the loyal opposition instead of the puerile opposition.



Beam Me Up, Scotty - Lack of Reason Edition

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
A Judge has decreed that a man accused of rape wasn't a 'classic rapist,' but simply 'lost control' when he raped an unconscious woman. This one made me throw up in my mouth a little, as well thinking the Judge should be relieved of his duties immediately. Also: Why do so many people assume that men are just animals, unable to resist the sexy, sexy temptation of (for example) an unconscious woman? I'm amazed we've lasted this long as a species with such an undisciplined, impetuous, immoral contingent among us. ::eyeroll::
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Still think the abolition of the "buffer zone" around abortion clinics isn't a big deal? Check out this testimonial.  And on a similar note, I am so, so tempted to act on this commentary by gay rights advocate Dan Savage.
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There's a reason why the only form of "camping" I'm interested in involves a masseuse and fine dining.
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Presented without comment. 
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Video of the Week: Dr. Danielle Martin schools Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on the topic of universal health care as it relates to Canada and the U.S. And then Bernie Sanders twists the knife while I ROFL.

Attention Cyclists

Monday, July 7, 2014
I live in Parker, Colorado. We have a lot of open space in our community, and much of it has paved trails for residents to enjoy. I've used these trails for years - first to walk Boogie the Giant Schnauzer, then to run or walk on my own, now to walk young Jackson. I share the trail with a variety of other residents - walking, running, or cycling.

And I have a bone to pick with the cyclists.

Cyclists, I don't think that it's too much to ask for you to announce yourself when you're about to pass a pedestrian. A simple "on your left" is sufficient to let me know you're coming upon me and my dog at speed. When you speak, I'm able to shorten Jackson's leash and put her on my right side to ensure she doesn't get in your way as you pass me.

When you don't announce yourself, I often have no idea you're behind me until you actually try to pass. This means that my dog, who is still young and quite reactive, is startled by the speeding object on her left, and acts as most dogs do - she lunges and tries to follow. Even Boogie the Giant Schnauzer engaged in this behavior before he hit old age. A speeding "target," especially for a sight hound, is an invitation to chase.

What I'm afraid of is that you'll try to pass me without speaking and she'll successfully knock into your bike as you pass, resulting in a wipe out. I really don't want the cyclists who use our paths to get hurt, which is why announcing yourself is not only the courteous thing to do, but the safest thing to do. I don't expect people to get out of my way when I walk Jax. The Smart Man and I are training her daily to ensure her manners improve every week. We take our responsibilities as pet owners seriously, and work to ensure our dog doesn't scare anyone or approach them without our permission. When you buzz past on your bike without observing the common courtesy of speaking, then you put all of us in danger, in spite of my family's best efforts.

And may I also remind you - there is a standard right-of-way on trails in Colorado:


Everyone yields to horses. And cyclists yield to pedestrians. So basically, you are supposed to yield to everyone else. Speaking before you pass ensures everyone stays safe.

So don't be surprised if when you fail to announce yourself when passing me and my dog, My reaction is not only to control my dog, but to shout as you pass, "ON YOUR RIGHT." Dipshits.
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ETA: An interesting conversation between pedestrians and cyclists over on Facebook leads me to make the following recommendation: Use a bell. It cannot be mistaken for extraneous conversation, and "most" people are culturally conditioned to associate a bell with a bicycle in this context. There still might be some confusion on which side the cyclist will pass, but applying standard driving rules (pass on the left, slower traffic on the right) will manage some of that. Thanks for the suggestion, Brother Seth!