I'm fifty - fifty years old! I like to kick, stretch, and kick! Bada bing!
Do you wish to know the secret of happiness for two-career relationships? Would you like to know the magic that makes long distance relationships work? You are destined for disappointment, then, for these are (mostly) the wrong questions. Continue Reading »
Welcome to 2013, Zuskateers, and yes, I want you all to buy more insurance, pronto!
I'm not talking car insurance; if you have a car, you no doubt already have it insured. I'm just going to assume you have it insured properly. I'm not talking health insurance either because whatever your situation, there's probably not a whole lot you or I can do about it, even with that socialist Obamacare that's ruining America even as we speak.
And I'm not even talking about gun insurance, which is a dream that may yet some day come true.
Nay, the insurance I speak of is life and long-term care insurance.
If you are really young and healthy, you probably have neither, and this is not good. Every day that goes by increases the risk that you/your family members will need to use this type of insurance, and decreases the likelihood that you will qualify to purchase it, at least at anything like an affordable rate.
Let me give you an example. Some time in my late thirties, my employer offered employees the option to purchase long-term care insurance for themselves and/or for family members, including parents. The insurance was also portable, meaning I/family members could take it with us if/when I left that employer. I was concerned about planning for my mother's future and so we applied for the long-term care policy for her. Myself? I was hale and hearty, and saw no need to "waste" my salary on long-term care insurance premiums. Within two years I had a stroke and that, Zuskateers, was the end of my lifetime opportunity to buy long-term care insurance.
Mr. Z's company recently offered a policy to employees and spouses. Before filling out the application proper, I had to answer three questions, one of which was "have you ever been denied for long-term care insurance?" and another of which was "have you ever had [cancer, heart attack, stroke, etc.]?" A yes answer to any of the three questions leads to this instruction in large bold print: Do Not Fill Out This Application. That's because a yes leads to automatic denial. And you don't want to be denied for long-term care insurance if you hope to someday get long-term care insurance. Not that you will be able to get it, what with the cancer/heart attack/stroke stuff. This is known as irony. Of the two of us, I am more likely to need long-term care, and need it sooner, therefore of course the insurance companies will only sell it to Mr. Z. This is why you must buy the insurance when you still can't foresee any need for it.
So Zuskateers, if you are still pre-cancer/heart attack/stroke/other medical disasters, and you have a chance to get yourself some long-term care insurance, you buy it. You make room in your budget, and you buy it. (After you make sure that it is a good policy that actually provides useful benefits.) Do you have any idea how much assisted living costs? I'm not talking nursing home care, I'm talking assisted living. Or in home care? This stuff is pricey. I assure you, it is not too early to start learning about the various types of senior living options. If it's still awhile till you need this information for yourself, you may need it for a parent or other elderly relative sooner than you think.
Just don't kid yourself that you are going to stay your same hale and hearty present self for the rest of your life. This is known as magical thinking. Injuries, accidents, illnesses can happen in a flash and change your life forever. Yes, you can eat well and exercise and take care of yourself the best you possibly can, but Fate can have its way with you, and that you can not control. So: long-term care insurance.
The other piece of the insurance pie is life insurance. You're young, you can't imagine what's the need. What will you do with it? You'll be dead after all, won't you? Okay, first of all: life insurance pays out immediately after a death. Those folks are prompt. So if nothing else, your family members will have ready cash on hand to cover your burial expenses. Second: are you a two-income family? You are, right? I don't think there are many 1-percenters reading this blog. What will your family do if one of those incomes is suddenly lost through death? How will your surviving partner/kids cover the bills, the rent/mortgage, everything? Hint: life insurance will help. Are you a single parent? How do you expect your children to be cared for if something happens to you? I'm sure you have someone in mind to look out for them if the unthinkable happens, but wouldn't it be much better if these kind souls had an insurance benefit to help provide for them? Yes, it would.
Again I use myself as an example: I have a life insurance policy that is provided through my disability insurance (that itself came through my last employer). If something happened to me, this would help Mr. Z compensate for the loss of my disability income. This insurance policy, however, is only in effect until age 65. Ideally I would purchase something else to compensate for the fact that this policy will go away someday - except, of course, insurance companies aren't thrilled about insuring people who have had strokes. Safe to say it's best to buy your insurance before you've had any major health issues.
So my young and healthy Zuskateers, your New Year's resolution: get thee to an insurance agent. Get some quotes from several agents. Learn about long term care policies, learn about life insurance, learn about the level of coverage you need now to protect yourself and your loved ones. I mean it.
The gyms are all going to be way too crowded the first two weeks of January anyway. You might as well take this time to begin your insurance research.
You’ve been traveling on the Enterprise E(ldercare), when one day you burst into your therapist’s office confused, upset, wanting to know what’s going on, what the hell you are supposed to be doing, and why she was on the holodeck with Worf. You feel at a loss, half-recalled pieces of the past and visions of your future mixing with your present. In short, you have become unstuck in time.
You were perfectly fine with your role in Engineering; serving drinks in Ten Forward; trying to corral tweens Jean-Luc, Ro Laren, and Guinan; or just being a red shirt. But now the Enterprise E(ldercare) has been ordered to investigate an anomaly in the Nursing Home System of the Senior Living Zone. Off you go. And there it is, a large anomaly threatening to consume you, your ship, and your elder. You go in for a closer look and…
Suddenly, you are back in your youth. The anomaly is bigger, but you are stronger, more confident, maybe even a bit arrogant. You take the Enterprise D(evilmaycare) out against explicit orders to see what's going on. You drive it around late at night, with too many of your friends in it, hepped up on synthahol. You ignore the jeering fools on the sidelines as best you can. You set off for Far Point University with barely a "make it so". On the way you run right over the trappings of your childhood once carefully hoarded by your elder.
Wait! That was a dream! Wasn't it? But it felt real. Who was that callous ass who paid so little regard to the feelings and concerns of others? And why was that anomaly so damn big?
Whoa! You’ve been put out to pasture; your joints are creaky, your hair is white, and you've got early onset Irumodic Syndrome. But you remember, you remember, you remember...there was an...an anomaly...your family is visiting, you desperately need to communicate to them the importance of going back there, because you were just there, it is real, it is not a dream, it is happening now. And they speak soothingly, and promise to take you there, and...
No, you are back in the present! That's just a vision of the future, some projected bad acid trip. You do remember the past. If only people would listen to you when you tell them it's bigger in the past...
And you're back there, and you are taking Enterprise D(evilmaycare) further and further out ...
Into the future, where your kids and ex-wife remind you that you that Irumodic Syndrome is causing your brain to deteriorate, and this is all in your head. But they promise to take you for a ride anyway, and that goddamn son of your is driving the Enterprise E(ldercare) and after a spin around the block he insists it’s time to go home and you say "no, no, we have to go to the Devron System!" and you become increasingly agitated and they say we were already there and we're on our way back and here's some haldol and wait those aren't your kids and those aren’t Starfleet uniforms and a voice whispers to you that the only way to understand the anomaly is with a letter-call-visit (LCV) beam...
You are talking to the staff of the nursing home where your elder is now staying. You suggest a more aggressive LCV beam to deal with the health care bureaucracy and to fight depression in your elder, making physical therapy more effective. Your family needs professional support in this, and some sort of data organizer. And you think...
That you should use a LCV beam all the way out here at Far Point University And Beyond. Yes! Make it so!
And waking from the haldol you insist you do remember the Devron System, you must go there, the LCV beam is absolutely critical, and they wheel you to the holodeck and set up the Wii bowling...
And now in the present you realize that the LCV beams from all three time periods are together creating the anomaly, which is indeed a temporal anomaly. But the LCV beams must not be disengaged, they must be made stronger in each time period. (Your therapist tells you to ignore that little voice which says you are going to be responsible for the destruction of humanity, that’s just internalized homophobia.) Together the LCV beams create a static warpshell and blammo!
You find yourself in the present, wishing that when you’d gone to Far Point University And Beyond you could have somehow brought the Enterprise D(evilmaycare) back to the spacestation a bit more often. The little voice in the future, the one that whispered about the LCV beam, was also going to tell you how to arrange things so that people can do useful work and keep their elders close by, and not have to worry about their own elder care years, but it stopped short. All you can do is share your time-travel story, finally join the poker game – and keep that LCV beam going.
My mother kept a book for each of her children (at least, the younger ones) called "School Days. It had two pages and a pocket for each grade. It had room to record your child's teacher(s), friends, pets, hobbies, clubs & activities, awards & achievements, sports, school & location, height & weight, "additional information", a place to paste their photo, and a line for them to print or sign their name, as they gained prowess. We always thought the entry for school and location was hilarious because you could just put it in at the beginning of the book: Bobtown Elementary, Mapletown Jr-Sr High School. What else was there to know? We had no concept of kids moving from one school to another as their families moved. Nevertheless we dutifully filled it in.
Fifth grade's additional information dutifully notes in my crabbed printing "My teeth are coming in; hair is shoulder length; am going to write". A very important year: the gap from my missing front teeth, which had inspired the great poetic work "Toothless and Teethless" (another time, Zuskateers) was finally getting patched; and I declared myself as a writer. Never mind there were detours through engineering and administration, and writing turned out to be blogging. I was right all along.
The pockets were for newspaper clippings, extraordinary art work, and things of that nature. I was going to say "I don't know how she had time to keep up with that" for all of us. Except that, you know, we were our mother's job - nay, her life's work. There was time because this is what she did. I was thinking the other day how badly we've all been hoodwinked with that "how can I combine career and family" question. The question implies that "family" a.k.a. mothering (and here I mean mothering, not parenting) is something that is not very difficult, creative, important, worthwhile, or time-consuming when done right. Therefore it can be "combined" with Career, which is all of those, by correct application. Think of Career as the shiny new glass tile of your kitchen backsplash that everyone looks at and wants, and Family as the grout which you paste in the thin little spaces inbetween (and nevermind that you need the grout to keep the whole business together). Once the grout is properly in, you need not think of it much anymore, and can refocus all your attention on the pretty, shiny glass tile.
Mothering can be done by women or men, I think, but it truly is more than a full time job - it is a life's work. Parenting is something different. It can be done by one or two parents, and parented children can thrive just as well as mothered children. Whether you are in a family where the children are being mothered or parented, life for everyone would be so much better if everyone's workplace was less greedy and demanding. And not just your fancy white collar jobs. I remember my dad would trade shifts with someone in the coal mine, or go without sleep before the next shift, so he could see me or my sister or brother sing a silly song in a school play, or be crowned Queen of Hearts at Valentine's, or march with the band at our first football game. Mom would be glad he was there, and then worry about him at work.
Among the ephemera my mother saved in the pockets of my school years was a frantic 5th grade note:
I need 50 cents, one self-addressed envelope, 3 buttons, my cotton balls, and a milk carton for Monday. Also, get me up at 7:00 and make sure I get up then.
p.s. I need an 8-cent stamp
I would dearly love to know what that was all about.
Another piece she saved leads us finally to the title of this post - a letter to Santa. Written when I was 9 years old and in the fourth grade, I was teetering on the edge of believing/non-believing. As a budding scientist, I was hoping to garner some proof one way or the other.
The text of the letter reads:
We left some cookies and milk for you, and some salt for your reindeer. (Be sure they all get equal amounts.) I hope you brought my Love doll, and Cindy's doll like mine. Are you real? (Write yes or no) [Arrow pointing to two blank lines]
I really do believe in you.
Suzy, Cindy, Paul, Andy, Eddie, Mom, Dad [unexplainable sibling deletion - sorry, Pat!]
In the morning, the cookies and milk, and the salt, were gone, and the letter was signed in elaborate script "Thank you Merry Christmas - Santa". Santa declined to answer the "are you real yes or no" portion of the letter. Obviously beneath his dignity, or maybe he just didn't see it - it was in the messiest part of the letter, and he was probably in a hurry.
So Santa, since I have written proof of your realness, I'm writing again to ask for just a few things this year. I believe I have been especially good this past year. I've whined only the usual amount about the migraines; I've done a lot of elder care and not begrudgingly either - time spent with elders can be difficult but is often a gift itself; I've done most of the litter box duty and all of the cat puke duty. So please, please Santa, this is what I am hoping for.
1. Let lots and lots and lots more people follow George Bush Sr.'s lead and resign from the NRA.
2. Let those who remain fight like hell to change the organization from within.
3. Let Wayne LaPierre vanish into a world where the only sound is is own howling.
4. Let the tide be turned back on the vicious onslaught against workers and unions.
5. Let the people realize that not just the children, but the teachers, too, are our future.
6. Let parenting and mothering both become more possible and pleasurable as real and unconstrained choices for all.
7. Let The Hobbit be a reasonably pleasurable and escapist viewing experience for me and not a total crushing disappointment when I compare it to my own mental images of the novel.
Thank you, Santa. I know you are busy this time of year and I will appreciate anything you can do with this list. If #7 is too difficult you can leave it off.
One last question. Are you real?
(Write yes or no). ___ ___
According to the official site for Cymbalta, the most common side effects experienced when taking it are:
nausea, dry mouth, sleepiness, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, decreased appetite, and increased sweating
It doesn't sound any worse than any of the other stuff in my medicine cabinet. Reality was another adverse event list. In fact, I bestow upon Cymbalta the rank of Number 3 in the list of Worst Ever Drugs I Have Taken, behind No. 2 Topamax and No. 1 All-Time Winner Depakote.
The full package insert mentions that minor weight loss was seen in clinical trials. In two trials, minor weight gain, no more than a mean of 1.4 kg, was seen. I gained 13.6 kg in a matter of months. I might have been willing to live with the new-found weight if I hadn't also had to say goodbye to orgasms (but not, frustratingly, desire) at the same time. Ultimately, this was the "side" effect that pushed me to tell my doctor I wanted off Cymbalta.
I had a two-week ramp down period. By the time that was done, so many other things that I had not realized were also Cymbalta side effects had vanished or begun to dissipate. For example, excessive flatulence, which I had blamed on menopause. Mea culpa, menopause! I still hate your hot flashes but you're off the hook for this one! And while I did get Cymbalta's promised sleepiness and fatigue, I got something else no one had mentioned: insomnia. The insomnia worsened over the course of the year I took Cymbalta and it was blamed on all manner of other things: stress and grief, migraines messing up my sleep cycle, kittehs in the bed, Mr. Z's tendency to bodily transform into a windmill at night. A week after the last ramp-down dose, I was sleeping through the night like a baby. A baby without colic, one of those good ones that doesn't wake up or cry and makes you think having another wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Falling asleep was a breeze! I no longer had to get out of bed two, three, five times for a robust bout of micturition before finally falling into an exhausted semi-sleep at two, four, maybe six a.m. I had thought the excessive nighttime voiding was just another symptom of encroaching old age but no. It was my pal Cymbalta, partying with my bladder.
I'm used to meds that fog my brain - see Nos. 1 & 2 on the list of Worst Ever Drugs I Have Taken. When Depakote made my hair fall out in what should have been alarming amounts, I didn't mind, because I was taking Depakote! I didn't mind about anything! Topamax is nicknamed Dopamax for a good reason. I love Zonegran as its replacement because it has much less impact on word recall, spelling, and general short term memory and because, vainly, it made me lose weight. Until Cymbalta, the asshat of drugs, came along. Every pound Zonegran spirited away, Cymbalta ferried back, plus more. I have a dear friend whose sure to be a bestseller autobiography would be titled, she says, "I Hate You: An Explanation". A not entirely inappropriate title for use in discussing Cymbalta! The drug that makes you fat and stupid! A week off the drug and it was truly like a fog was cleared from my brain. I could think more clearly, focus a little better. I didn't feel quite so tired. (Well, maybe that had something to do with being able to fall asleep and stay asleep.)
What else? Constipation, of course. That was the least of my problems. Here's a good one. Although it is discussed on the package insert in some detail, neither my prescribing doctor nor my neurologist mentioned to me that Cymbalta in combination with blood thinners can lead to bleeding problems, in some cases potentially life-threatening. My PCP made this connection after I showed up in her office with softball-sized dark purple bruises on both hips. By the time I saw her, the swelling had at least gone down; they were still extremely painful. How did I get them? I was on an Amtrak train, and sat at a table in the cafe car for a few hours reading a magazine. The benchlike seats in the cafe cars are not padded. The gentle rocking of the train back and forth was enough to generate massive bruises where my hips bounced against the hard edge of the seat with each sway. Needless to say, this should not happen. This was a week before mine and Mr. Z's annual vacation to a warm beachy place and we both know my purple thighs attracted a few looks. We half-seriously joked that we should make a sign for my back: No, I'm not a battered woman, it's just the medications. Because my thighs looked like I was.
The very worst is something I can't absolutely prove, but of which I feel fairly certain. After ten years of taking this and that and the other medication and observing the intended and "side" effects on my body, I think I know when there is a connection between a med and a mess. In this case it is a bit more tricky as you will see, but I still feel strongly about it.
I started taking Cymbalta in November of 2011, and was told that as an added benefit I might expect it to help with my migraines, as it has a known effect on pain. In January of 2012 my migraines began to worsen, becoming more severe and more frequent. We blamed the odd weather patterns, we blamed my insomnia and resulting screwed up sleep cycles, we blamed a possible failed botox treatment and/or developing insensitivity to botox. Things went from bad to worse and eventually I was hospitalized for a week in May. I came out of the hospital headache-free and with a new preventative medication. Unfortunately, shortly after that began a series of family loss and illness that went on for months. The health I'd gained rapidly unraveled. The botox treatment I had in the middle of all this didn't do much good.
The last botox treatment was just a few weeks before I stopped Cymbalta. And then the migraines improved - less severe, a little less frequent. The family stress is only moderately better. So either the last botox rocked my brain's world, or taking Cymbalta for migraine pain is just like bashing your head against a brick wall - because it feels so good when you stop.
Despite all the bad experiences - and there have been many - I have had with medications over the years in the effort to control and prevent my migraines and prevent another stroke, I have remained a strong believer in medication to treat what ails you. To a point. I saw my mother's med list climb to nearly 25 different meds, until her PCP and a rehab doctor pared it down to 13 in a radical revision during a rehab stint. Afterwards she was more alert and lively, more engaged and cheerful, more full of affect in general. And she was less like a shambling zombie in her movements. I've read that one risk factor for falls in the elderly is taking more than 5 different medications. My own med list has been climbing in fits and starts over the past 10 years and it frightens me. I don't want to become an affect-less shambling zombie pill swallower, and I'm afraid I may already be one. How many meds in my pillbox could I do without, are there others that are hurting more than helping me? It's a question I think about a lot more since my life with Cymbalta.
We lived in a strictly gendered world. We relied on it for everything. And then the power went out of gender norms. Everything stopped working. We weren't prepared. Fear and confusion led to panic. The lucky ones made it out of the hedonistic cities. The government collapsed. Women took over, controlling their own fertility and stockpiling their own money. We still don't know why the power went out of gender norms. But we're hopeful that Suzanne Venker will come and lead the way.
With apologies to the showrunners of Revolution, which I love.
Immediately after the election, there of course commenced the usual discussions of voter demographics. White men, the endangered species, ironically voting for the party of climate change denial! Single women for Obama and free contraception! As erudite and fascinating as it all was, what people really want to know is: how did the denizens of Revenge-land vote? Now, for the first time, the exit poll results are available!
First, the Graysons:
Victoria Grayson: The lady likes her luxury. She’s a one-percenter for sure, and she’s married. She's had at least two affairs, and even though she can obviously afford her own birth control, she didn't seem interested in it when she was with David Clarke. Solid Romney vote.
Daniel Grayson: Victoria's son; Amily's former lover and husband-to-be, he wanted to vote Obama to show Amily he's not a complete Grayson but in the end went Romney to protect Grayson Global interests.
Ashley Davenport: former social planner, Amily's former friend, former gf of Tyler, former snitch for Conrad, now Daniel's fiance and hoping to make herself a true official Grayson someday soon, Ashley voted for everyone.
Charlotte Grayson: Finally, for sure, it's Declan! Yes, Declan! It's been him all along! For now.
Conrad Grayson: Third party Initiative candidate, secret ballot. VERY secret.
Next, the folks down at Porter's Bar:
Jack Porter: Jack's a white dude working stiff in New York so he could go either Obama or Romney. But Nolan's his best friend, and Biden forcing Obama's hand on gay marriage tipped the scale: Obama.
Nolan: Ran a SuperPac for Obama. Also was going to hack Romney's Twitter account but Amily called him away at the last minute for revenge-y stuff.
Declan: Just hoping to reach voting age still boning Charlotte & without becoming a felon, if the writers will lay off dicking with his character.
Baby Carl: No one; he's just a cute baby!
Emanda: Whoever Amily told her to vote for.
Kara Clarke: Write-in vote, the White-Haired Man.
Padma Lahari: Her relationship with Nolan will become even more rocky when he finds out she voted Romney. It's a sad truth that people never talk politics before they fall in love. Nolan will hack DemocraticPassions.com to find the perfect mate for himself, but will lose the info on him/her as he is called away by Amily to do revenge-y stuff. In the end he won't mind.
Helen Crowley: It's best you don't know any more than you already do about her.
Satoshi Takeda and Aidan Mathis, as illegal aliens, committed voter fraud. They both voted Obama to undermine Grayson Global.
Did not vote:
Mason Treadwell: is now a felon and behind bars.
Amily Thorne: Amily was busy setting up Mason Treadwell to take the fall for the murder of the white-haired man and and explosion of the jet containing all the evidence, while making Conrad and Victoria think that the Initiative actually did the setting up of Treadwell, so that they are now terrified and will continue to do what the Initiative asks; and was reviewing Revenge Camp fundamentals with Aiden; and didn't make it to the polls before they closed.
Counting Ashley's votes for everyone and the voter fraud votes, we have:
White-Haired Man, 2
Didn't vote, 4
(what, did you forget to count Baby Carl as no-vote?)
Obama/Biden win the Revenge vote over Romney/what'shisname by a narrow margin!
Oh lovely, lovely electric world – so sad when all the lights go out. Panic! Governments collapse! Militias rise! Why is there no sweet sweet electricity? Now there will never be a Federation Starship Enterprise. SAVE US!
1 week post blackout
I’m wondering why the Matheson family waited so long to bug out of the city. I guess to avoid the panic jams. Mommy is telling little Charlie how much fun they will have. “Lots o’ food ‘n’ water in the country!” she says with false cheer. Like the farmers are going to let you have any of it. “Also, you must never let go of your brother’s hand!” Guilt trip! She’s gonna need a lot of therapy for the fallout from that. I wonder if they have therapy in the apocalypse. If they don’t, I am definitely not going.
And…we’re walking, and we’re walking through the burned out city and…
15 years post blackout
...Kwai Chang Charlie’s flashback ends. Charlie herself is striking a lovely pose while looking pensive, contemplative, beautiful inside and out. If only we, too, could be so noble…um…hey, where’s Miles? Sound of swordplay off in the distance…that must be Miles!
Oh noes, says Charlie, don’t kill the nice bounty hunter, because civilization! So they lock him in a wooden boxcar coffin, leaving him to bake in the noonday sun.
Trudging through the woods – about these woods. Isn’t the area south of Chicago essentially flat prairie? Whence came all these trees? The forest looks older than 15 years. One possibility is that eco-terrorists, tired of waiting for governments to wake up about climate change, changed the laws of physics and got rid of the electricity. At the same time, they planted a giant forest in the plains of Illinois, to soak up carbon.
Anyway, we’re trudging through the forest, and we come to a market, and there’s a preacher railing away about our sins. We had followers but no family! I beg to differ. I have followers AND a husband and two cats. If that’s not family, I don’t know what is. It’s not long before Charlie takes up her plaintive, signature song: “Wah wah, I hafta find Danny! Now! What are we doing here? How will this help us find Danny?” Miles tells her to shut up and stay put while he goes to see a man about a dog.
Back room, smoky. Miles lays down a piece of gold; he’s looking for intel on one Nora Clayton. UH OH! The ersatz Bride has punched his way out of the boxcar coffin. He claims he broke every bone in his hand, but I’m sure I saw his fingers wiggle. He’s already captured Our Gang – daggone, he’s quick! Miles agrees to be handcuffed to save the trio, and heads off with the Bride and his gang. But not before Charlie gives the Bride the stink eye.
Commercial break – Apple asks: “there are laws to physics, right?...bla bla iPhone bla bigger and smaller bla bla…well, I guess the laws of physics are just like, general guidelines.” Hmmm. Does Apple know something about the electrical grid and impending doom that we don’t know???
Back to Miles grimly marching out….and then….mayhem! He killz em all! Now there’s just the Bride left, who looks as though he’d just as soon call it a day and tries to escape, but Miles strangles him with the handcuff chain. But not before getting the desired intel RE one Nora Clayton. Miles displays a microsecond of remorse because Charlie saw him snap the Bride’s neck. Dammit Charlie! Can’t a man get a satisfying killin’ in with you looking all sad puppy eyes at him?
Out in the cornfields. We hear gunfire. Captain Neville hassles Danny just because he can. They find a dead deer hanging upside down. “Are you familiar with the Baltimore act? You can haz no guns! Only the militia! We can haz killing you!” Okay, the poor hungry dude turns over his gun. But Neville wants to search the house! Blam! Hungry dude shoots a soldier, Blam! He gets shot. Dead! But the soldier is not dead. UH OH! A nasty dirty, americanses flag was found! We hateses it, Gollum! Burn it!
General Voldemonroe’s tent. General Voldemonroe chastises an underling for harsh interrogation techniques. He tenderly daubs the suspected traitor’s cheek, and whispers gently “can’t we all just get along?” His voice is so soft and sensual one expects the traitor to lay a big fat kiss on General Voldemonroe. But no. The traitor says “fuck you!” General Voldemonroe has no choice but to pick up a giant knife and plunge it into the traitor’s belly!!!! Wait, wait, maybe he meant he wanted to fuck you, you know? Now it’s too late.
BeardyGlasses McGoogle finds an iPhone in Curly’s backpack. “What the fuck is this?” he asks in an irritated voice. Miles says he’s heading out on his own, and will meet up with the others in two weeks in Lowell, Indiana. Charlie is cranky about this, but this is her normal state, so Miles doesn’t care much.
Light of day. Oh noes! Charlie has gone after Miles! And she used up a whole goddam giant sheet of paper just to leave her “ I followed Miles against explicit orders” note. Isn’t paper sort of precious by now? Wouldn’t you want to be a little more conservative when writing something as ephemeral as a message that should really go on a post-it note?
Trudging through the (mysterious, eco-terrorist planted) woods again. UH OH! Who’s following me! Run! Dammit! Broke my fucking ankle! And here comes Militia Nate! Stay away from me! He does not. Surprise!!! Ankle not fucking broken! She handcuffs him to a pole. Die, son of a bitch, die slowly of thirst and starvation out here alone in the eco-terrorist forest! Though in general I’m opposed to needless killing. ‘Bye now!
BeardyGlasses McGoogle gets schooled on how you never know if you’ll see anyone again and you need the fucking iPhone because their pictures are in there. Although, what with the no electricity biz, you can't actually see them.
Gutshot soldier is dying. Sergeant Neville gives him a vial of…something. Hey soldier, save some for the rest of us! “You’re going to heaven and gonna see yer family!” Dude, you are really going six feet in the ground.
“Oh bury me not on the lone prairie
These words came low and mournfully
From the pallid lips of the youth who lay
On his dying bed at the close of day…
"O bury me not..." And his voice failed there.
But they took no heed to his dying prayer.
In a narrow grave, just six by three
They buried him there on the lone prairie.
UH OH! Kwai Chang Charlie sees a basketball. Flashback! She’s bouncing a ball outside Daddy’s office building, NOT holding Danny’s hand. A Zombie Drifter comes around the corner and grabs her. Mommy calls her to come back. But Zombie Drifter holds on and demands all their food and…..
MILES! It’s my fault, says Charlie, I took care of Danny, he gets asthma attacks, I don’t let him out of my sight, until the day they took him, maybe I could have stopped him, so you see this is all about ME! Therefore I must be at your side at every moment. Also, this is a time-honored quest story arc, wherein I shall have experiences that will test my mettle and make a man out of me. Or in this case, a badass woman who still has feelings and civilization and stuff.
BeardyGlasses shows Curly his thing. Not that thing. The shiny thing Ben gave him. He is supposed to keep it safe and take it to Grace Beaumont in Grand Park, Illinois – Our Lady of the Attic. What if we could get the power back on??? Grace knows about the power! The blackout makes no sense. But if it were human-made (inclusive language please, Revolution)…then we can fix it! OMG, hot showers again!
Funeral for soldier dude. Danny scoffs. Captain Neville opines as how the Monroe Militia is the only thing “between us and anarchy”. Danny figures he can tell himself that but the truth is “you like to kill because you are a murderer and a psych-gahhhgggg!”. Captain Neville has grabbed Danny around the neck and choked him a little in thanks for sharing his feelings.
Miles & Charlie – There’s a slave gang pulling a helicopter. That must be fun! Note to self: pay IRS on time next spring. A dude who can’t stand up gets shot. And then they take five. Maybe rest a bit before killing the peeps hauling the helicopter? I’m just sayin’.
Night camp. Charlie draws off Mr. Sniper Rifle. Miles swoops in to rescue Nora, who, it turns out, does not want to be rescued. Dammit, he foiled her plan to get the sniper rifle! Why the fuck are you here? To rescue my brother Danny chimes in Charlie. WTF?? Well first I’m getting that gun.
Woods, daylight, ratty cabin. Nora MacGuyvers a mini one-shot gun. Charlie is the only one who can get close to the Mr. Sniper Rifle. First, a rant about the slaves, to make it okay for her to kill the Mr. Sniper Rifle. Then it’s all Hey Charlie, where you goin with that gun on your arm. Kwai Chang Charlie commences slow march to the warden and….flashback! intermingled with present time! Daddy comes out with pistol and threatens to shoot Zombie Drifter. Kwai Chang Charlie keeps walking. Little Charlie is released to go back; the Zombie Drifter knows her dad won’t shoot him. He says, I’m just hungry. Dad says, Stop we need that food, I’ll shoot! Zombie Drifter says No mortal man can kill me – and daddy can’t pull the trigger. And…Kwai Chang Charlie is there at the sniper…and Mommy says I am no man Blam blam blam! and shoots the Zombie Drifter!…and Kwai Chang Charlie shoots the sniper!…and all hell breaks loose! Miles and Nora clean up the rest in a fun sword fight while Charlie tries to keep a dude from choking her with the rifle and then she shoots him! Blam! And now Charlie is a hardened badass killer just like Uncle Miles and that rocks! Except she still has feelings.
Slaves are free at last! Miles give her props. Charlie says maybe killing 2 men is a normal Monday for Miles but not for her. Monday is a good day for killin’, Charlie! Miles says she is just awesome. Dammit, Nora has a rebel US flag tattooed on her back. She’s gonna bring back the U. S. of A.!!!
Beardy & Curly trek, Grace types away on her DOS screen. There’s a knock at her door, and it's…not Beardy and Curly! She is not happy to see this dude. Slams and locks the door, runs upstairs and frantically reboots her system; she manages to send a “Randall is here” message just before he shows up with a shiny thing around his neck and a nasty looking taser stick. UH OH!
What looks like exterior, Independence Hall. I know I should know for sure but hate to call it and be wrong. Interior. General Voldemonroe. And…Charlie’s mom is alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She calls him Bass (definitely Bass, and not ass). She liked him better as a womanizing drunk in the old days. He’s come to tell her Ben is dead. He’s sorry (I bet he is not, or at least not in the way Juliet is). She asks are we finished here? No he presses on, I have your son. She tries to stab him with pen, so he strangles her a little, and says no more games, you want to see your son again you’re going to talk about Ben, about the power, about everything, you understand?
Well gee General Voldemonroe, if we’re going to dispense with the games, maybe you could go first and not strangle people. Or keep their living existence hidden from their families for 15 years. Just sayin’.
So wow, 2 episodes and we’ve had lots of twists and a big surprise reveal and I like!
General Voldemonroe: Hawt, but evil
Captain Neville: Hawt, but probably going to lose his head
Miles Matheson: Hawt, extra hawt when using sword
Nate Walker: Hawt, evil-ish
Danny Matheson: Hawt in a puppy dog way; needs to get out of that wagon
BeardyGlasses McGoogle: Hawt in an aw-shucks kinda way, especially if you go for beards
Things we are wondering: After 15 years of scarce food supply and hard labor, don’t you think BeardyGlasses would have slimmed down and toned up a little? Or is he in the protected philosopher/priest class and doesn’t have to work in the fields? Also, if you were a woman setting out on a quest in a world full of ruffians and rapists, mightn’t you not consider cutting your hair short and going about disguised as a dude?
Talk amongst yourselves in the comments!
1) Have you ever been buttonholed by a woman recently ejected from her science career, anxious to tell you her tale? You know it will be filled with sadness and anger. You know you should listen and give some form of support, maybe point her to some resources if she’s asking and you know them. But what you want is to disentangle yourself as quickly as seems decent. You wonder whether if maybe she wasn’t that great in the lab and has jacked up a few disparate events to cover for her deficiencies. You want to get away in case whatever she has – bad lab karma, a kick-me sign – is catching. You feel slightly ashamed. Still, you hand her off to someone else with a palpable sense of relief and head for the door.
2) Have you ever been approached by a woman scientist looking to start a support group for women at your level? Something informal, meets maybe once a month, just get together over some munchies and talk about how things are going, share career advice, provide moral support. You say it sounds like a great idea but you aren’t sure you can commit to another project at this time. You really need to keep your head down and get this set of experiments/thesis/job search/grant proposal/tenure packet/promotion under your belt before you can even think about anything new.
3) Have you ever gone to a conference where you knew a Famous Woman would be present and you were excited to meet her, your hero? And you are finally introduced to her, and she’s in the company of Professor Eminent Graybeard, Dr. Big Swinging Dick, and Dr. New Hot Thing? And she gives you a brief nod and a cursory hello and goes straight back to her Important Discussion with the boys? And you get the hint and wander off, and never get another chance to speak to her, let alone meet the big boys?
4) Have you ever found yourself in the position of being the Famous Woman at a conference, and you just couldn’t find a single minute to introduce yourself to any n00bs, take a little time to mentor someone, or participate in the women’s caucus, if there is one? Did a n00b approach you with shining eyes and tell you she is such a fan, because you have done X! And you drily reply, “Well, yes, but I’ve also done Y and Z,” irritated that the n00b doesn’t even know this significant information about you. You! The very things that make you a Famous Woman! Who is this crazy person who thinks she is your fan? And you turn back to your conversation with your Important Friends, giving the n00b some of your back so she knows to go away?
5) Have you ever been at a talk about the advancement of women in science, and during the Q&A you opine that such talks bother you, because you (the only woman ever hired into your department) have worked very hard and been extremely successful as a result, and you didn’t get any help from anyone, or any special treatment or lowered standards to make it easier to get to where you are, and you resent the idea that spreading talk like this around is going to make other people question your credentials even though you don’t believe in this hogwash? Women just need to work twice as hard as men to prove they can do the work, and the men will see they are capable and they will get the jobs!
6) Have you, a white woman, ever had an HR or department admin bring to you a talented person of color, because “you will know everything about being a minority in this field, and can help them out”? Have you, a white woman, ever been tasked with orienting a woman of color to your lab, and begun (and sometimes ended) by saying “you probably want to know where the Multicultural/Diversity Office is. I’m not sure, but I’ll look it up for you.” Or you assume the new woman likes to drink heavily, or is interested in scoping out dudes with you?
7) Have you ever wondered why we women have so many ways to keep ourselves from joining in solidarity? Why we believe so much the lie that individuals are responsible for all their success and all their failure, so we each need to get cracking in our lonely monk’s cells? That failure might be catching if you talk about it, but not success? That other women are the real enemy?
Somewhere in the Twitterz a link popped up to this slideshow presentation:
It's a decent enough slide presentation and you'll learn a little about Mendeley along the way. Near the end there's a slide titled "Engineers" with 9 pictures variously titled "What my friends think I do", "What my parents think I do" etc. You are supposed to enjoy the hilariosity of each group's total misconception of who engineers are and what they really do.
Let's ask who the "I" of the photo captions is. Is this slide addressed to you at all? Depends upon who you are. If you are a white male, the answer is yes! In the first photo, we see that what your friends think you are doing is sitting around on a couch gaming - you, a white male, and all your white male buddies. In the "What my parents think I do" photo at least there is one female, with three male figures, all white, looking at construction plans.
The fourth photo is of a young, slightly overweight white boy wearing glasses, non-fashionable clothing, and sitting in front of a computer. The caption reads "What girls think I do." Engineers are boys, and they're white boys, too. There is no corresponding picture for "What boys think I do". There is, however, one for "What kids think I do." So you can be a kid wondering what the grown-up (white male) engineer does, or you can be a girl wondering what the (white) boy does, but you can't be a boy wondering what the girl (of any color) does because that would be...
Well that would just upset our gender norms. And consequently wouldn't seem funny to most of us. The "what girls think I do" is funny only if you accept the premise that the speaker is, indeed must be, a white male who can't get a girlfriend. The girls he cannot attract would, of course not be engineers.
In the last photo we see "What I really do": a grown up white man, sitting in front of a computer. This is so non-inclusive, and so non-representative of the multitude of things engineers do, that it makes me want to cry. This one slide, with very few words but very strong images, hammers home the tired old gender and race stereotype of the engineer as a lonely white male in front of a computer. It's not funny, it's sad and wrong. No one should ever use this visual again, except as an illustration of how easy-peasy it is to do gender and race norming without even trying. I'm fairly certain that wasn't the intent of the person who put this slideshow together, but it is indeed the unfortunate outcome.
The only non-white person that appears in this slideshow is a floating head shot of Aretha Franklin in a slide making a point about respect. She is used more or less as an icon or signifier of the word respect, and has no relation to what engineers or scientists do. This use, combined with the total exclusion of people of color from the imagery of who engineers are, makes me unhappy.
It takes an effort to be inclusive, but it is an effort every speaker should make. If you aren't sure that your speech or presentation is free of unintentional bias, ask someone you trust to review it for you to be sure - especially when illustrations or pictures are included, but for language too. Or I may have to come puke on your shoes. I can understand that people may not see the bias themselves, but by now we all should be aware that it could be there. We all have a responsibility to try, to educate ourselves so we become more aware, and to ask for help before we send our words and chosen images out into the world. Don't be part of the (lazy-ass) easy-peasy bias reproduction machine!
As it turns out, an attractive young woman can still hope to find a well-fit pair of low rise jeans in post-apocalyptic America. Charlie's parents must have thoughtfully looted all styles and sizes while fleeing after the electricity went off, so that when grown up, she'd be well-dressed to take on the walk through the woods to Chicago.
That was one of my first impressions of Revolution, a new NBC show. Everyone had relatively nice, well-fitting clothes, even after 15 years of no new manufacture, no washers and dryers, and no hot showers for the sweaty bodies laboring in those clothes. My mind wandered back to Lost, and how the characters got sweaty, grimy, soaked in rainstorms and so forth, until Ben Linus gave Kate that nice new dress. Charlie's mother is Juliet Burke - possibly this is where she landed after the Incident, and not in the future fighting space aliens on behalf of humanity and a sulky teenage boy. Or perhaps they are all alternate timelines. Anyway, she dies offscreen in the first 10 minutes or so. She's slated for 6 episodes so we'll probably see more of her in...flashbacks!
Charlie is also a sulky teenager, of the female variety, who wants to go exploring, even though Dad says she'll get raped. The world is dangerous for women! There's nothing out there that's worth seeing! He wants to Taliban her up in the compound and keep her safe. Joke's on him: he gets shot to death in the compound and she leaves to roam the wider world in search of his brother. It's okay, because he asked her nicely to do it.
The brother, in deep cover, is a cakewalk to find. Charlie, along with her father's sexy doctor lover and the requisite shaggy-haired glasses-wearing science geek set out together as the unlikely band. Along the way they pick up a hawt archery dude. They fight off two rapists with some poisoned alcohol (did you see that, Deborah Blum?) and a well-placed arrow and boom! they're in Chicago.
Lady walks into a bar, sez "Do you know where my Uncle Miles is?" Bartender says, "No kid, I'm just trying to keep a low profile here." Lady pouts, bartender melts and next thing you know they're in the back room together. Not doing that. Just talking. Then Mr. Z and I got too sleepy to watch the rest of what we'd tivo'd. I think we were pretty far into the episode. I'm guessing Miles agrees to help her search for her kidnapped brother even though he says he's just bait, and they set out on another leg of the quest next week.
Hilariosity in this episode, there was much. How could anyone stand to be in that bar after 15 years of no air conditioning or plumbing? Seriously, find some ethnic Germans and go to their biergarten. You know they will be brewing up Heifeweisse according to Reinheitsgebot. Charlie does a dramatic voice-over: "If you were in the cities, you died. If you got out, you survived." I'm pretty certain that most city dwellers (I include myself tho I'm in the burbs) would drop like flies without electricity of any source or kind. How would you find food for yourself? Do you know how to produce your own food? How long would it take you to learn? Could you learn fast enough so that you wouldn't starve to death? How are you going to learn if Google has already scanned all the books and they've been sent to the shredder? If you do make it out to the countryside, do you think Sharon Astyk is going to let every last blessed New Yorker trample her farm and eat everything in her larder? You'll look like a plague of locusts descending. The farm folk will as soon shoot you as help you. Okay, I don't think Sharon will shoot you but you never know.
So it takes a major suspension of disbelief to imagine our coddled city dwellers make it to the counstryside, learn how to farm and raise sheep (Sharon would say goats are a better choice), and manage to grab and defend some choice land, all while looting the aforementioned selection of jeans for their children's future needs. The land looks like it's next door to the former planned community of Sylvania Acres (or equivalent). Maybe the houses were built in the fields so they were good to go. In Terra Nova they solved the pioneer problem by saying moar teknology! and dinosaurs! eating people! which was awesome, but the acting was so awful all you could do was cheer for the dinosaurs to eat moar people.
Charlie's younger brother has asthma, which makes it officially the favorite chronic disease of the post-apocalypse among show writers (Shannon had it in Lost) because a kindly knowledgeable doctor who just happened to survive along with you knows how to make natural remedies! Congestive heart failure, muscular dystrophy, chronic migraines, high blood pressure - none of it shows as well on tv as an asthma attack where a doctor can swoop in and RESCUE! And those asthma attacks are amazingly easy to relieve - just a pinch or two of this or that herb and voila! you wonder why anyone today is using inhalers.
The best part of all is that the laws of physics have completely changed! Not gravity, of course, or any of the physics having to do with the structure and use of items of steel and iron but just, you know, the electrical laws!
I won't mention the 15 year old postcard inside the RV that, exposed to the elements, is nonetheless in almost pristine shape; or the relatively high quality of the RV interior itself for that matter. We can allow that for dramatic license. In fact, I'll allow the whole crazy bit of it, because this is a goddam prime time one hour scripted drama with actual actors, not another America Can Haz Moar Singing With The Celebrity Apprentices! I want to cheer on their brave efforts, and hope it survives and is good, and networks don't quit doing this sort of thing. Maybe they're in purgatory...that would explain how they all suddenly know how to farm and raise animals...and the nice clean clothing...hmmm...
I'll watch the second episode for sure, and see where this goes.
UPDATE: Finally watched the last 15-20 minutes. Crikey! Awesome sword play, and an ending as fun as finding the hatch! Let's not quibble over the laws of physics, shall we?