Monday, June 30, 2008

Awesome Onion Video

Video Find of the Day

This is way cool.

The Onion: Supreme Court: Death Penalty Is 'Totally Badass'

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's Too Hot II

It was way too hot when I got home at 6 this evening, so I took the new used camera for a walk outdoors. It occurs to me that when I talk about the apartments I live in or life in downtown Seattle, one or two of you may have no idea what that looks like.

I hate living at the Union for the noise and the patronizing management, but I love it for the location. The Pioneer Square District in Seattle is a great place to look at and walk around. And contrary to what people who don't live here think, it's not all that dangerous. I feel much safer here than in condo-ridden Belltown.

I started the walk out back of my home, the Union Hotel Apartments. This is the view from 4th and S Washington. The Union Hotel garden, all 70 or so square feet of it, is the tiny bit of greenery the other side of the fence to the right of the bus shelter.

Here's the same bit of garden viewed from the south looking northwest from 4th Avenue S, showing how the garden is a foot or two from a precipice dropping to the railroad tracks leading to the Seattle railroad tunnel.

It was so hot I went to the water. This was shot 3 blocks west of the Union Hotel at 1st and S Washington, looking north along the east side of the street. When I was last homeless the sign advertising rooms for 75 cents was hard to take, knowing that it's just an antique. If there really were rooms for 75 cents a night, I wouldn't have been homeless.

I love alleys. And look: someone's art perpetually looks on this one. Between 1st and Alaska at Washington, looking south.

I spent some time at the Washington Street Waterfront Park, then moved a block north to Yesler and headed back east.

Creative use of wall space at Alaska and Yesler.

Gentrified saloons, saloons turned into fancy restaurants, saloons turned into sports bars, saloons turned into art galleries, and then, sometimes, saloons turned into saloons...

Not a half block further, a mural decorating the beautiful southern entrance to Post Alley from Yesler.

At 1st I jogged over to Cherry so that I could get a shot of my favorite building adornments.

Then south on 3rd to get a view of the Morrison Hotel, another subsidized apartment building run by the Downtown Emergency Service Center. Fellow editorial committee member Stan lives here. It also houses the DESC shelter on one floor.

Back home, I prepare to ascend my throne, the red chair, with My Blue Friend behind me.

It's Too Hot I

Video Find of the Day

In spite of being featured on YouTube, this guy's video has only been seen about 5000 times so far. Please help him out. He supports a good cause.

How to Get Featured on Youtube

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Carmen This, Carmen That

Video Find of the Day

I loves the Carmens.

Kogan - Waxman Carmen Fantasy

What I like the most about this next one is the conductor. Watch his expressions. His face and hand gestures make silent music.

Callas The Carmen

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bird Dancer

Video Find of the Day

The title of this entry was the title of a painting I did, which I posted last September on Somewhat Art. The painting was inspired by a film I saw of a Marquesan dance in imitation of terns mating in air. I haven't yet found that film in a form I can embed, but here is a woman doing the Marquesan Bird Dance. Tilt your head left for maximum viewing enjoyment.

Marquesian Bird Dance

Look Out...

I have a camera. I've been wanting one forever. The last time I had a decent camera for still work was in 1971, when I had the use of a Polaroid Land Camera. One of the results was this shot of my parents' fat beagle, right.

Now I have a digital camera. My work with a cheap video camera was well received at the office. A still from one of the videos was used in the paper. So I said, if you're going to use my stuff, give me a better camera, dammit. And they did! Problem was, it was a camera that our Macs wouldn't recognize.

Well, tonight I found out the easy way around that crap. You just borrow a camera that the Macs will recognize; you take the memory card out of the camera you have and stick it in the camera you borrowed, and you download your pictures from the borrowed camera.

So I'm set. I don't know if the trick works with videos yet, I haven't tried it. But it works with stills. Here at left is a picture I took of a painting in my room. Click on it for a bigger version. Click on the bigger version for a bigger version.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

And Speaking Again...

Video Find of the Day

Chris Rock's classic routine on the subject. We don't need gun control, we need bullet control.

Speaking of Gun Control

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened around spring, 1959. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

So today, for the first time since the Bill of Rights was ratified, the Supreme Court said that, yes, it means individual citizens have a right to own guns, at least for home defense. As some of you may know, my views on gun control are insane. I not only oppose gun control, I think the government should give guns out to people who can't afford them. Poor people need self-defense, too. The constitution says people have a right to lawyers, and the courts have decided that means that if you're too poor to hire one, the government has to provide one. That's the way it should be with the right to bear arms. It doesn't make sense to tell me I can bear one, if I don't have one. And ammo. Make mine an Uzi, thank you.

I've never used a firearm. There's three reasons for that. One was the old student deferment, and the high draft lottery number. Another is the ongoing poverty, preventing me from purchasing one. The third has to do with my Father.

When my Dad came back from Taiwan in 1959, I wanted to patch up our relationship. From age six on I couldn't bring myself to initiate a conversation with him. It was extremely awkward, and I wanted to break out of it. What I felt I needed was for him to offer to do something with me that I could stand. For that to happen he needed have some minimal respect for me, enough to pay attention to what I was interested in, and propose we do something having to do with it.

He constantly struck out on this front. He suggested taking me fishing. I hated fishing. He suggested taking me to ball games. I hated ball games. I told him I wasn't interested, and he would throw up his hands and say, to my Mother, "I can't do anything with him. He hates everything."

One day he was driving me and the neighbor kids to a school event. He started to complain to them that I never liked to do anything. He said, "Like right now, I know that if I offered to take him to a firing range and teach him to use a rifle, he would turn me down."

I jumped at that. I said, "Would you do that?" He said he would. He was shocked that I finally found something we could do together that I was into.

If the offer had been to take me hunting, I would have turned it down flatly. I don't have any desire to kill my own meat. But I was fine with target practice. And at the time (I was 9) I hadn't ruled out the possibility that I might want to enlist some day. Wouldn't it be handy to already know how to use a weapon?

It never happened, of course. All the talk about, "He never wants to do anything," was just abuse. It wasn't really about what I wanted or what I rejected. It was about having an excuse to put me down.

For the next four or five years whenever he tried to use that line on me I said, "So, OK, when are you going to teach me how to use a rifle?" Each time he would grit his teeth, and say, "I've told you before. Soon." And then he'd change the subject.

Eventually, I got tired of that game.

Russert Probed Children

The latest tell-all child abuse story is on CNN. Tim Russert's son charges, "Sometimes he'd interview me." In talking with Larry King, Luke Russert said he was made "a guinea pig for politicians" by his father. Apparently Tim Russert, who couldn't get enough as host of Meet the Press, not only exploited his own son by interviewing him behind closed doors, he also groomed other neighborhood children to satisfy his insatiable need to ask penetrating questions. This is just why we need Child Protection Services. It's also a good argument for banning news-maker interviews. Once someone, like Tim Russert, begins substituting news-maker interviews for genuine human relationships, it's just a matter of time before they will begin objectifying all other people as interviewees. Then, because of that, and because the interviewer-interviewee relationship is ultimately so unfulfilling, they will need to seek out more and more vulnerable victims for gratification, and inevitably sink to serial child interviewing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hammerhead Shark Song

Video Find of the Day

A video posted by ididjaustralia. There's a song, followed by a commentary in an Australian Aborigine language you don't understand. To help you understand, the following passage is provided with the YouTube description.

"Dharrapuy explains the importance of Balgabalga to the Gupapuyngu people. When they see a dead Hammerhead Shark, they give it ceremony and bury it as though it were a human body. When news of such an event becomes known in a community - Milingimbi in particular where the vast majority of Gupapuyngu live - Yolngu cry for it as though it were a deceased family member. People stop what they are doing and proceed towards the water's edge, the body of the shark is lifted out of the water and wrapped in cloth, and then the shark is buried in the ground with dalkarra - special 'power names'. This is an old custom from a long time ago that is continued to be observed at Milingimbi."

Balgabalga (Hammerhead Shark): David Dharrapuy, yirdaki

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hawaiian Chants

Video Find(s) of the Day

It was the first music I ever heard made. It was more powerful for coming from people than the music that came from machines. That's probably why wherever I go, whatever I do, the background music in my head always comes back to Hawaiian chants.

It's been really hard to find decent Hawaiian chant videos. But it's been getting better. Here are some I have found.

Strong Hawaiian Chant

Spike Jones - Hawaiian War Chant

Uliuli by Halau O Kekuhi

At 1:14 in the next video you can hear a version of the entirety of the Kaulilua song. I ran a translation of it in No Arguing Over Poi. These are the sounds in my head.

Chants and Stories from Hawaii

Monday, June 23, 2008

Benny Goodman By Hoorn

Video Find of the Day

Goodman by Hoorn, Netherlands, about 30 kilometers up the peninsula from Amsterdam, sounding great.

Benny Goodman - St. Louis Blues

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cumbia Loca

Video Find of the Day

The sound is rough but you get the idea. I turned the volume down to "7".

I've been reading up on cumbia and have learned that it's often looked down upon as lower class. Maybe that's the appeal.

La Mision Colombiana - Cumbia Loca

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Remember WW III?

Video Find of the Day

If you don't know where to duck and cover when you see the flash, ask an older person! Or ask Tony. Tony knows what to do. Remember kids, sometimes the atomic bomb explodes with no warning at all. Like every other Thursday.

And people wonder why we got so wild in the sixties. We were just so thrilled to have made it all the way through school without one A-bomb killing us, we all had to party.

Duck and Cover

Friday, June 20, 2008


Video Find of the Day

I don't have any idea what these Italians are singing about but I'm going to make a wild guess that it's something that I want some of. In the vein of Peppe Barra, video find last December. It's Napolitan!

Fronna e Tammurriata

Thursday, June 19, 2008

They Also Do Bollywood Dance

Video Find of the Day

Awesome aboriginal dance choreography to Zorba the Greek. I'm stunned.

Zorba the Greek Yolngu style

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Judy Garland Songs

Video Find of the Day

With the economy taking a nosedive, a Nickelsville being planned, and Seattle nevertheless seeing continuing boom times for the rich and well-situated, I'm thinking maybe it's time to re-popularize this song.


While we're gazing at weird old images of Judy Garland, how about this one? Check out her hair. Isn't that the official hairstyle of the FLDS?

Meet Me In St Louis - the trolley song

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Video Find of the Day

Guantánamo isn't just a prison operated by the United States on Cuban territory. It's also the surrounding province of Cuba, where this music originated. I love the bongo.

Rare Changui Music from Cuba (Part 1)

Rare Changui Music from Cuba (Part 2)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Smooth As Jello

Video Find of the Day

I'm exploring borucas999, and I found this one, which reminded me of a genre I don't think I've really been aware of since I lived a year in Mexico when I was 12, back in '61. So smooth, so romantic. Woof.

Trio Las Sombras..."NOCHE NO TE VAYAS"...

The Seattle Times Sucks

Last Thursday the Seattle Times editors offered up an opinion piece titled "Tent City: pointless" that was full of deliberate lies and propaganda. I've written this week's column about those lies. It will be in the paper that comes out on Wednesday, and I'll post it as close to 9 AM Wednesday morning as I can over on Adventures in Bloggery.

In the meantime I want to highlight the Seattle Times editors moral bankruptcy by contrasting a passage from that editorial with one from today.

"Tent City: pointless" ended with this paragraph:

"Itinerant tent camps are not acceptable in a modern city. We didn't have them before the 1990s, and most other American cities don't have them now. They look at us and wonder why we ever allowed it."

Today, in opposition to efforts by the mayor and the Parks department to ban bonfires on public beaches, the same editors gave us "Bonfires of the Seattleites", containing this paragraph, one from the end:

"Cities are complicated. Urban life is messy, not entirely manageable. Not all behavior has to be by the book. Some things citizens do are amusing, traditional and relaxing."

So, there is the morality of the Seattle Times editors. If the things the citizens do are amusing, traditional, and relaxing, hey, what's the problem? But if what the citizens do is necessary as a matter of life vs death, why do we allow it?

The dissonance between the two views is easy to understand. The people roasting marshmallows on the beach include the middle and upper class neighbors of the editors. You know that as soon as they're referred to as citizens. In "Tent City: pointless" homeless campers were not called citizens.

I'm opposed to a ban on beach bonfires. But if it's a choice between something that's done for fun in a public space that adds to air pollution vs camping in greenbelts, something that's done for survival safely away from the general public that creates nowhere near the environmental harm that bonfires do, then camping is what needs to be preserved.

Human life comes first, then recreation.

The Seattle Times has no moral compass.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cumbia Dance

Video Find of the Day

Fantastic high school performance with a jazz side to it.

Música y cultura 2008 -- La Luna Y El Pescador,-E.A. Valencia

Cumbia has African roots, of course. Doesn't everything?

Colombian Cumbia Dance Performance With Xiomara

The Union Breaks Father's Day Promise

The Union Hotel, the subsidized apartment building I live in, is managed by people who can't figure out how to treat their tenants with respect.

The latest insult happened today. We were told days ago that there would be a Father's Day Brunch at noon in the community room today. There were notices placed in the halls to that effect, and at the front desk.

The notices said that there would be no 7 AM breakfast today.

As I have said before, I don't want their breakfasts anyway, so I have insisted on not being woken up at 7 in the morning with reminders of the breakfast on the intercom. So as a result of my complaints, lists of tenants who wanted breakfasts were created, and only the people on the lists were called for them.

There's no reason for the intercom reminders anyway if the management could just make the meals happen at the scheduled time.

Today, Anitra and I went down to the community room to join the Father's Day Brunch at its scheduled time, 12 noon.

We saw nothing happening and asked the desk person what was up.

What was up was that the meal had already happened at 10:45 AM. She had gotten a call from management just this morning telling her to notify everybody on the breakfast call list of the change of times.

Just because some bonehead imagined that the brunch would happen in lieu of the breakfast, they told her to handle it as she would have handled the regular Sunday morning breakfast, even though it was an entirely different event. A noon Father's Day brunch is not a breakfast.

First, they broke the promise about when it would happen. Then they violated their own protocols, which called for announcements of onetime events between 8 AM and 10 PM.

I've told the story about how the intercom protocols came about in my column for Real Change. I titled it for Adventures in Bloggery as Be Silent, Consume, Die. All I wanted was not to be called on the intercom at times when I would want to be sleeping. I agreed to allow that they would call me during the day for special events like this. THEY insisted on that. So I have taken them at their word on it, and come to expect it.

Their word means crap.

They can't ever put themselves in our shoes. They have less respect for the people who live here then they have for ugliest fish in the lobby aquarium.

This comes right on the heels of similar broken promises involving a nutritional class (PTSD, posted just June 5).

It compounds the anger I expressed in Rage And Counter-Rage, just last May.

The inability of these people to figure out what they need to do to keep my experience here from amounting to one insult after another did not begin with the current manager. See Social Services Gripe for a complaint about the last one.

But the current management can't seem to get anything right.

PS: Only a fraction of the residents are on the call list (I'm blanking on the number -- I remember it as being 7 out of 52 -- but I know its fewer than a third.) So in excess of 30 residents were misled about the time the meal would happen, and Anitra and I weren't the only ones in the lobby at noon finding out we were screwed.

Father's Day Post

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm going back to pick up on something that happened in Taiwan in 1958 to my Dad when I wasn't there. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

My Father did some good things. Very little of the good things he did involved me, but I can appreciate them anyway. I've already talked (Dictatorship & Thievery) about how he blew the whistle on graft relating to the construction of the swimming pool at an enlisted men's club in Taipei.

I mentioned that my Father dealt then with the stress in part by going to bars after work. One such trip resulted in both his best moment and worst setback.

It happened after my Mother and I had left Taiwan. One evening my Father went with a fellow officer to a Taipei bar that was regularly frequented by servicemen. When they walked in to the place, they found a drunken US soldier causing a scene. My Father confronted him, telling him he had to leave the bar. The soldier not only refused to leave but became violent, took a swing, and my Father had MPs haul him out of there and taken to the brig.

It would have been no big deal, but it turned out it was a congressman's son. Worse, it turned out it was a congressman who took money from the construction company that was mishandling the swimming pool work. My Dad had stepped on a land mine.

He could have gotten out of it by backing off from the graft charges, and dropped charges against the congressman's spoiled brat of a son. But he stood his ground on both counts. The result was a bad review that meant a missed promotion.

The lost promotion crushed him. He had adopted the army as if it were a mother surrogate. He felt betrayed, and it added heavily to all the other bitterness he had about his life. Suddenly his turning away from a career in printing and journalism looked like a disastrous mistake.

But through it all he continued to declare his loyalty to the army, and he stood his ground on the principles. That was great.

It was too bad he treated me so badly I couldn't tell him then how great I thought it was.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cumbia Double

Video Find of the Day

I've been looking for videos representing these old cumbia hits for months. These were there all along, just not labeled as such, hidden among the hundreds of videos of borucas999.

Carmen Rivero & su Conjunto..."LA POLLERA COLORA"...

Linda Vera..."EL PESCADOR"...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mali Drums, Dance

Video Find of the Day

What really got my attention here is the dancer in the first part of this. As my arthritis advances, I look for work-arounds.

Ancient Drumming from Segu, Mali

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pretty Woman, Hindi style

Video Find of the Day

Recently YouTube has begun to recommend videos to logged in users on its home page. So based on my history of video viewing, which they have preserved for all time in a crypt in a sub-sub-basement of their San Bruno CA headquarters, third drawer from the right, they tell me what else I'd like to see. For some reason I cannot fathom, they have recommended to me a lot of videos involving naked people of both sexes in, or stepping out of, showers. Probably a mistake. But they have got some things right.

I had never heard of the 2003 Bollywood movie Kal Ho Naa Ho. The Wikipedia article says though that it "grossed over Rs 600 million worldwide, becoming the top grossing Bollywood Film Worldwide, second top-grossing movie in India, as well as the top-grossing Bollywood film in the overseas market that year." So maybe I should have heard of it, for that reason.

But I'm really surprised I did not know that this scene from the film existed. O Lordy. Can you count the cultural cross-overs? I lost track.

Pretty Woman (Kal Ho Na Ho) "With Eng Subs" [Sung by Shankar Mahadevan behind actor Shahrukh Khan.]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Arlo Guthrie

Video Find of the Day

In 1993 I had a TV with rabbit ears that couldn't get the local ABC affiliate. So until now I had never seen any part of the series Byrds of Paradise, and didn't know Arlo Guthrie played a recurring character in it. I know now because I've been subscribed to the wife Janis' YouTube channel jguth3 for some time, and she's been posting clips from the show lately. By sure coincidence, right after posting the P-Funk last night I discovered this one had come down the chute.

Arlo Guthrie/ Band Fight

This one is an Oldie but Goodie, with my favorite line, "I don't want a pickle... ":

Arlo Guthrie/Motorcycle Song

For a lot of what jguth3 has posted embedding is disabled, including the big one, so go check out all 18 minutes 34 seconds of it on YouTube, if you are so minded.

Arlo Guthrie/Alice's Restaurant

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tear The Roof Off The Sucka

Video Find of the Day

Way too much acid was incorporated in the making of this music. The show can't end until the Mothership lands. P-Funk on Earth Tour, with Sly and the Family Stone joining in?

Video: Tear The Roof Off The Sucka

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tibetan Drinking Song?

Video Find of the Day

Well, that's what it says. I don't know. Doesn't sound like a drinking song to me.

Tibetan Traditional Song

Homeless in Seattle & Noa Noa

Last night I slept again in a tent on City Hall Plaza in protest of the inhumane sweeps of homeless encampments on public land. The lives of homeless people are endangered by the destruction of their survival gear, done in the name of "public safety" and "hygiene." This morning that protest was followed by a civil disobedience. Fifteen of the protestors obstructed a downtown street in Seattle, a street that just happens to lie precisely between the offices of the mayor and the county executive.

First, there was a memorial service conducted by Women In Black of Seattle. They read the names of 283 people who died on the streets in King County from 2000 to date.

Homeless remembrance Service, Seattle

In the Polynesian traditions a law (taboo) can be broken only if rituals are carefully followed. It's called Noa Noa in some places. Sometimes translated as Freeing, or Release, or, Declaration of Freeing. The rituals demand a statement of purpose, and the invocation of the god governing the taboo, petitioning for release from it. That's exactly what you see in the next video, plus initial arrests.

Stand Against the Sweeps

The rest of the arrests, including a scene in which Anitra, my woman, appearing in the role of a hooded gang banger, is processed for arrest outside of an SPD bus, while I explain to someone that her being arrested and me filming is all part of the plan. "Division of labor" as I call it. Her arrest was well planned by the Real Change Organizing Project, and was joined by participants from SHARE/WHEEL, Women in Black, and members of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, and others.

The Usual Suspects

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Just Some Fill

Video Find of the Day

I'm rushed tonight 'cause I'm on my way to Seattle City Hall to camp in the plaza with the rest of the people protesting the homeless encampment sweeps. So I just picked a video apropos of nothing in particular.

Howard Zinn on Civil Disobedience

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Solid Musical Advice

Video Find of the Day

Had a long talk with one of our vendors today, who has left his lover. Or, she drove him out. Some little spat involving caustic chemicals splashed on him. Well, one thought leads to another, you know? I can't help but think he should have took the advice of this song before things got to that point. My man's almost as old as I am. I'm sure he must have heard one of these versions.

50 Ways to Leave your Lover - Paul Simon

Muppets - 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

More Rythms of India

Four men with the same group we saw in Bhangra in Seattle. This is the last video I have from this year's Folklife Festival. It ends abruptly as the camera ran out of memory. But I think it's a keeper anyway.

Rhythms of India, Fragment

Friday, June 6, 2008

El Vis

Video Find of the Day

Yesterday El Vez, today the original. Because so many people were shocked by Elvis' hip action, it's hard to find any video of it. The Jailhouse Rock film was one of the few clips that gave an idea of what he was capable of. There's many versions of it on YouTube, including a colorized version. I like this one best of the one's I've seen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

El Vez

Video Find of the Day

I don't know why it's so hard to find good videos of El Vez. He is the best Elvis impersonator who is not really an impersonator but more of a parodist there is.

En El Barrio by El Vez

Your Child Abuse Score

People often tell me Sid Vicious, the Real Change office cat, is too fat. Occasionally I hear the opposite. My answer is, "I'm the guy who takes him screaming clawing and crying to the vet, and each time I do I ask the vet if he's too fat, and the vet says 'No. He's within normal range. He's a 6 on a scale of 0 to 10' -- and he refers to a chart on the wall." The chart is just like this one below from the Purina company (click on it for a larger version or go here for the original webpage.)

The chart shows 1-4 as being too thin, 6-9 as being too fat, but the vet says to ignore that. He says actually 4-6 is normal range and 6 should not be considered obese. He compared the scale to a human's Body Mass Index (kgs/m-squared = lbs*703/ins-squared), which also has a range of scores regarded as normal (18.5 to 24.5). 4-6 would correspond to the normal range, 7 would be definitely overweight, 3 underweight, and so on.

In the interest of full disclosure, like Sid, I am also in the upper part of the normal range, with a BMI of 23.9.

Notice that the Purina chart doesn't indicate the extremes of 0 and 10. Here's how you tell if your cat is at those extremes. If your cat is dead, and you can count his ribs without feeling them, he's a 0. If your cat is dead, and you can't see or feel his ribs without dissecting him, he's a 10.

All of this is just to warn you where I'm going with the title of this post. I speak a lot, and when appropriate I talk about the child abuse I survived, and I get told "that's the worse child abuse I ever heard of" a lot. Well, it's not the worst I've ever heard of. For one thing I read the papers. For another, I've personally met people who had worse stories. On the other hand, I've also met people who have said, "Oh yeah, I was abused as a kid too, but I got over it," and invariably their stories of child abuse are mild.

So, it seems to me, what we need here is something I would like to modestly call The Copyright Dr. Wes Browning Child Abuse Index. These guidelines are only tentative, but I hope they might already help settle the inevitable arguments that arise.

0 Spoiled beyond belief. Still expects someone to peel his or her hot dogs. Has never cleaned a room. No evidence of ever being told No. Pampered to the point of being unbearable. Often, these people are killed, and no one misses them.

1 Extremely Severe Non-Abuse. Thinks people who speak of being abuse survivors are complaining of being spanked.

2 Severe Non-Abuse. Thinks people who speak of being abuse survivors are complaining of being spanked too hard.

3 Strongly Insufficient Abuse. Thinks people who speak of being abuse survivors were refused alcohol, drugs, or pot by their parents or caretakers.

4 Mildly Insufficient Abuse. Parents beat but never simultaneously made fun of him or her or it, so there was very little emotional impact.

5 Normal Abuse. The ideal. Anyone who can say "Over it," without either bursting into tears or giggling or displaying the Thousand-Yard Stare.

6 Mildly Excessive Abuse. Signs of neurosis stemming from abuse, but a professional may be required to spot them.

7 Strongly Excessive Abuse. Visible physical or emotional scarring, plain to anyone after a few minutes with the victim.

8 Severe Child Abuse. Permanent physical disability, or long-lasting mental illness, or highly inappropriate piety.

9 Extremely Severe Abuse. That resulting in ongoing coma, stupor, or vegetative state.

10 Dead.

I would classify as about midway between a 7 and an 8. I'm a 7.5. Not too bad, really.


It's been about 23 years since being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since then I have learned a lot about it. I'm no expert on how it effects everybody, but I know how it effects me very well, and I am an expert on managing my own case.

Various components of the disorder, or syndrome, that I have lately needed to take into account: panic attacks, delayed stress problems, depression due to grief, and chronic functional problems.

Panic attacks are managed by education. You learn what they are, and then you can go through them with less fear. The less afraid you are when a panic attack starts the less severe it will be.

Delayed stress problems include but aren't limited to flashbacks. I deal with them by not burying my memories. People who advise "put the past behind you" give crappy advice. You have to explore the past and face it to free yourself from it. I can avoid some situations that trigger flashbacks, but need to keep such avoidance to a minimum, recognizing the collateral costs.

Depression due to grief is not talked about much but it's a major issue for people like me who experienced long term repeated trauma. There is an awareness of loss that can't be ignored. It's mostly a sense of lost feeling. For so many years I didn't dare feel what was around me, because I was over-sensitized. It left much of my life flat, colorless, and tasteless to me. This takes grief management.

The chronic functional problems are something else. Long-term repeated trauma causes neurological and chemical changes that are not completely understood (Wikipedia has a summary here), but cause definite behavioral changes that have to be taken into account.

Typical are disturbances in fear reactions. The public stereotype of a PTSD sufferer is of someone who is too fearful. But the disorder often goes the other way. Many times I have not had a fear reaction that I should have, and put myself or others in danger. This is why I haven't driven a car since 1987.

Another problem I have that I suspect is a chronic functional disorder, is harder to describe. It's a kind of brittleness. I need to ease into things. I can't be blind-sided. To see how it works I have to give examples.

Last year a friend of Anitra and I showed up at the Real Change office on a Saturday when I was working the desk, just minutes before closing time, and invited us to join her as her guest that night at a special community meal in her building. I had planned to go home after closing and cook a dinner. The plan was detailed. I knew what I was going to cook. But Anitra wanted to go to the community meal and I agreed.

I know from experience that if I had one or two days to prepare myself for the community meal I could have gone through with it. Or, I could have gone through with it if the meal event was less stressful than it turned out. But what happened was, we got to her building and found ourselves waiting in line for entrance into the dining area, and Anitra left me to go look for our friend. It was crowded, the other people in line were loud incessant talkers, and I had a severe panic attack on the spot. When Anitra came back I begged off, ran home and collapsed in bed in tears, hating myself for being a freak.

I simply shouldn't have agreed to the sudden change of plans. I knew better, but I thought I could get away with it just this once, and went along to avoid being a pain.

Yesterday there was another incident here at my building, the Union. Over a month ago I had signed up for a nutritional class. According to the sign-up sheet it was scheduled yesterday, a Wednesday, at 2 PM. It happens that's also the day of the week we have a community dinner at the Union, at 5 PM, but in the past when we've had nutritional classes there was food at the end of the class, so I didn't think I would mind missing the dinner. That was just what I planned to do; I would use the meal-time to do my usual afternoon errands, including my stop at the office to feed the cat.

A couple of weeks ago the plan was solidified when a sign reminding us all of the class was posted, and it specifically promised pizza. The staff added that it would not be just any pizza, it would be pizza we ourselves made during the class. Now there wasn't any doubt that I would get something to eat at the class, and wouldn't mind missing the dinner.

This is the Union, though. It's run by the Downtown Emergency Service Center. So yesterday morning I went to the front desk to make sure everything was going as planned.

I was told that the times hadn't changed. The class would be at 2 PM. the dinner would be at 5 PM. Then I noticed a sign for the dinner saying that pizza would be served. I said, "That's odd. Why would you have pizza for dinner, knowing that the people who attended the class would have already had pizza?"

The answer was, "Oh, the people who go to the class will make the pizza that's served at the dinner. There won't be pizza at the class itself, you'll get it at 5 PM."

Well, screw me and my stupid plans.

In the weeks leading up to the class I had come to look forward to it. I didn't so much care about what I might learn about nutrition, I was looking forward to the shared communal experience. Now I found out that the complete experience, including the shared eating, would drag out over 3 and a half hours, and I had other things I had planned to do during that time.

Here's where the PTSD kicks in: I had prepared for the whole thing, the making of the pizza and the eating of it. In my brittleness, I couldn't deal with dividing the experience in half. I couldn't go to the class and enjoy making the pizza, knowing that I was being screwed out of partaking in it, if I wouldn't be at the dinner. I couldn't go to the dinner and enjoy the pizza, knowing that I was screwed out of the joy of helping make it, if I hadn't been to the class. I couldn't do both the class and the dinner and enjoy them, knowing the whole time that I was abandoning my usual afternoon routine, and knowing that I had been misled for two weeks about the class.

So I decided to bag both of them. Right after making that decision, Adam, our Editorial Manager, asked if I could come in to see some public disclosure documents he got hold of. I promised to arrive by 4 PM.

As I was leaving the Union around 3 to do errands on the way to that 4 PM meeting, I expected to see the class either in progress or wrapping up. It wasn't. I found out that the class hadn't happened yet. It was going to happen at 4 PM.

If I had known that the class was going to be at 4 PM I could have done my afternoon routine early and got back in time for both the class and the dinner.

I was livid. Twice in one day, I found out in two different ways that I had been misled. I pointed this out to our building manager. I told him I signed up for this event a month ago and the Union and the class provider had a month to get me the right information, and the best they can do is tell me one hour before it's going to happen?

I was more livid by his reaction. "You can still go to the class," he said.

"No, I can't. I keep my promises. I have an appointment at 4."

"Oh well."

That was it. "Oh well." No apology for jerking me around feeding me BS for a month. No apology for taking my time for granted, and assuming that I have no life but the life that is patronizingly doled out to me by him and DESC through their events.

And I'm sure neither the building manager nor DESC will ever acknowledge that they are clueless about the special needs of their residents with PTSD.

The following closing rant is therefore directed to DESC:

Hello. Get this straight. I don't have borderline personality disorder. I make friends well. I'm not psychotic. I have excellent reality judgment. I'm not even especially neurotic.

I have PTSD. Look it up. It means I've been abused too much. You don't accommodate it by "drawing me out" into the community. I'm past that stage. I can find community myself, assholes. That's not my problem. Stop confusing me with the other mental patients who live here. It's your job to know the differences.

You accommodate the disorder by just not heaping more abuse on me. Don't feed me bullshit, apologize to me if and when you do, and keep the noise down in the next room, and I'll be just fine.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

We Have To Have Rules

Video Find of the Day

Speaking of Christianity, I never knew this happened.

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham??!!!

Woody Allen Interviews Billy Graham, Continued


If you've never seen Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), this may make no sense.

Gene Wilder about Woody Allen

Christianity For Dummies

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened during from summer 1958 through winter 1959. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

[Above: Some results of a "for dummies" image search. At least three of them are real books.]

After a couple of weeks my Grandmother returned to her house and my Mother and I went back to living in the garage. I turned 9. We lived there, just the two of us, from summer through fall and part of that winter, while my Father finished out his duty in Taiwan. There was a great deal of sexual abuse. It's difficult to estimate the number of rapes that I endured but there was at least one incident per week.

That fall I started 4th grade at the same Van Asselt Elementary school where I had started 3rd.

My social life was complicated by the fact that my two best friends were brothers living next door, one a year older and one a year younger, and the two of them didn't want to hang out with each other.

I tried to look for a girlfriend but ran smack into the "boys of that age don't like girls" mythology that is so entrenched in American culture. It's one of my biggest regrets in life that I caved into the peer pressure and not only stopped looking for a new girlfriend but pretended I didn't like girls to get by. The regret probably fueled a lot of my determination to not conform later.

The combination of sexual abuse and sporadic social isolation led to long bouts of day-dreaming. At that time most of the day-dreaming was the sort that everyone expects of a 9 year-old. I used the apricot tree in our back yard for a space ship, and flew it to Mars. The old decrepit tool shed, underneath which my Grandfather, when he was alive, raised chickens and rabbits, had a raised sheltered entrance big enough for two adults to stand on. It was my time machine.

Christmas was memorable because we had a plastic tree that stood about 14 inches tall on our coffee table. I loved it.

At school I tested high on math and was separated every day for an hour from my 4th grade class-mates so I could attend math period with a 5th grade class. I still complained of boredom, but was told flatly that I wouldn't be allowed to skip any further ahead, for now.

Throughout all this time I was attending weekly Sunday School classes. My Mother had been brought up Baptist but publicly converted to my Father's Episcopalianism. She kept up appearances by attending Trinity Episcopal on First Hill with my Father's other relations. The church had a Sunday School class that met in the basement at the same time as the service they all attended, so that us fidgety bored kids could be educated in the ways of God, and not disrupt mass.

Being an avid learner, I tried very hard to make what I was taught my own. I paid close attention to all the doctrine and tried to figure out how it could made sense to me.

I'm convinced converts never really believe what people born into a religion believe about it. This applied to my Mother, whose Baptist fatalism did not get replaced. It also applies to people we don't necessarily think of as converts. For instance, say some guy is raised as a Christian, then decides as an adult there is no God. We wouldn't say he was a convert, but he is willing a convert to atheism. It's been my observation of such people that no matter how confirmed they are in their atheism, they always bring to it most of the same metaphysical assumptions they had as Christians. They'll also bring a lot of the social mores and habits. If they come from a proselytizing tradition, they will still proselytize, for atheism now. If they were brought up Puritanical, they will still confuse serious with somber.

I began as a polytheist. I was prepared to drop that for Christian dogma, but I couldn't easily jettison the metaphysical underpinnings of polytheism. I tried anyway.

A turning point occurred soon after my Father came back from Taiwan. He came back some time around January of 1959. He still wasn't around all the time because he had to commute to and from Fort Lewis a lot.

One day while he was gone my Grandmother was sitting on her living room couch and talking to me, while my Mother was in the basement using Grandmother's washing machine. Grandma stopped talking in mid-sentence, in mid-word even. Her mouth was still open to pronounce the word she was saying, but the sound stopped. After a minute I panicked. I waved my hands in front of her face and shouted. She sat there like a statue. I was witnessing one of her strokes for the first time.

To be clear, I didn't know that this was another of a string of strokes. I hadn't witnessed the previous strokes, so I didn't know this was in any way the same.

I was afraid she was going to die. She already looked dead.

My Mother called an ambulance and Grandmother went back to the hospital.

That Sunday I insisted on attending Mass with my parents for the first time, because the mythology was that I needed to pray for my Grandmother to get well, and praying supposedly worked better in church.

I was aware of everybody around thinking I was cute, praying so hard for Grandma. The minister was told about it after the service and I overheard him remarking what a fine, pious, boy I was becoming.

A few days later Grandma had recovered and came back home, and I was sure my praying had helped bring that outcome about. I remarked to that effect to my parents. They just laughed, and said, "You know, it was the 6th or 7th stroke she's had. She lived through the others without your help."

It completely demolished the fragile hold I had on Christian mythology. I had to start all over trying to make sense of it with the new understanding that what I got told in the Sunday School classes was just the simplified Christianity for Dummies version.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Boast: My Soup Tonight

My soup tonight is greater than all other soups in all of history combined. My soup tonight is the Obama of soups in the Democratic nominating process of soups. My soup tonight began with the aged minced garlic and the button mushrooms and the chopped yellow onion which were sauteed in the olive oil and the soy sauce, and that was good, but there had also to be Cambell's Tomato Soup. So there was. And there was the can of water. And not only the can of water, but an unexpected shot of milk.

Then, an entire cucumber gave up its slices for my soup of tonight.

I thought that one Roma Tomato would suffice. But seeing that my soup of tonight was not yet as tomato-ish as a tomato based soup ought to be, I delivered! I sliced another Roma!

An ordinary soup-maker would have been satisfied with that. But I pressed on! There must be cinnamon, I said. Yes: cinnamon! And basil! And black pepper!

Still, I was not satisfied. For there was not enough green. Therefore, to achieve green, I chopped kale. Chopping and chopping, more chopping, and more chopping. Kale, kale, kale. Damn good fresh kale, too.

A dash more cinnamon and, Hot Damn! Good soup!

Addicted to Liam

Video Find of the Day


I've been waiting forever for this. I want more, faster.

No Booty Calls

Monday, June 2, 2008

Measuring Randy Newman

Video Find of the Day

This song came out at the end of my time physically at Cornell, and half the people I knew there thought it was horrid. "Randy Newman is a heightist! We should boycott the cafeteria jukebox!" Then someone said Newman was 5' 2'' and it was, "oh, never mind." Now I'm reading on the internet that reports of his shortness were false, either deliberately spread to give Newman a "pass", or based solely on the fact that he is rarely seen standing up on TV. The people putting this out say he's over six feet tall but they seem to be just quoting each other.

Just a suggestion for killing time online: try to find Randy Newman's exact height.

I don't know how tall he is, but I know his capacity for satire.

By the way, the description says OGWT 1978. OGWT isn't netspeak. It stands for Old Grey Whistle Test, the name of the BBC2 show he was on.

Randy Newman - Short People

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Blast From the Past, Hot Pants

Video Find of the Day

The words:

What we're gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time. When the only people that existed were troglodytes...cave men... cave women...Neanderthal...troglodytes. Let's take the average cave man at home, listening to his stereo. Sometimes he'd get up, try to do his thing. He'd begin to move, something like this: "". When he got tired of dancing alone, he'd look in the mirror: "Gotta find a woman gotta find a woman gotta find a woman gotta find a woman". He'd go down to the lake where all the woman would be swimming or washing clothes or something. He'd look around and just reach in and grab one. "Come here...come here". He'd grab her by the hair. You can't do that today, fellas, cause it might come off. You'd have a piece of hair in your hand and she'd be swimming away from you (ha-ha). This one woman just lay there, wet and frightened. He said: "Move...move". She got up. She was a big woman. BIG woman. Her name was Bertha. Bertha Butt. She was one of the Butt sisters. He didn't care. He looked up at her and said: "Sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me!". She looked down on him. She was ready to crush him, but she began to like him. She said: "I'll sock it to ya, Daddy". He said: "Wha?". She said: "I'll sock it to ya, Daddy". You know what he said? He started it way back then. I wouldn't lie to you. When she said "I'll sock it to ya, Daddy" he said "Right on! Right on! Hotpants! Hotpants! Ugh...ugh...ugh".

That's right, he said "Hot pants."

Jimmy Castor Bunch - Troglodyte

What's This?

According to the program the second group performing at the Bhangra and Bollywood Show at Folklife this year was Taal. Taal is the generic term for the rhythms of classical Indian music, or rhythms period, or the name of a famous Indian movie that Roger Ebert gave excess thumbs up. The announcer told us it was not the name of this group. He said the correct name was something that sounded to me like Chunny Chunny. I have looked up everything I could think of that could be a spelling of a word sounding like chunny to me, and have not found these people. Hopefully I will get an answer to who they are soon, on YouTube.

Until then, here is an amazing performance of Indian dance by a group of young ladies of indeterminate ages.