Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My entries for Eric James Stone's Kindle contest

My entries for Eric James Stone's Kindle contest

Read Eric's story An Early Ford Mustang: a great pun, a blessing and a curse, and a moral dilemma.

Read Eric's story The Robot Sorcerer: Advanced science is indistinguishable from magic--except when it's not.

Read Eric's story Unforgettable: with a main character nobody can remember and a satisfyingly ambiguous ending

Read Eric's story Tabloid Reporter to the Stars: and prepare to curse him for the surprising but inevitable ending

Read Eric's story Rejiggering the the Thingamajig: you won't understand what just happened, but you'll know it was good

Read Eric's story Salt of Judas: maybe you'll feel like the protagonist-you should probably stop, but you need to go on

Read Eric's story The Ashes of His Fathers: a touching tale of bureaucracy and sacrifice.

Eric's Website

Friday, June 19, 2009

Elizabeth's First Words List as of March 20, 2009

I went to post another First Words list on my Karen's Poetry Spot blog today, and found that I never got around to posting the first one that I typed up as an email answer to my sister-in-law on March 20, 2009. We were talking about our trip to SLC for Grandma Fawnie's funeral and Marcelle said, "I'm excited to hear what Elizabeth talks to you about. :)" Here it is for those that want to compare it to the one I made today (June 19, 2009).

I was going to write back and simply say, "So far, her favorite subject for actually talking about is kitties." but then I started listing all her words and signs, and it was kind of fun, and surprising to see how much she does say to me. I'll probably turn this into a blog post now.


She only has a few words: Kitty (ki'iy), Fish (fsh), Baa (baa), Balloon (bloo), Baby (be-be), Bead (bee), Bean (bee) - do you sense a theme here? She has said Ma Ma and Da Da, though she doesn't say them very often.

Animal sounds: Sheep (baa baa), Lion (raar), Rooster (doodle-doo), Bear (grr), Dog (pant), Kitty (meow like sound without the m or w)

Signing, she has a larger vocabulary.
Animals: Doggie (pat leg, or anything else handy while panting), Bunny (make hand bounce up and down - it's supposed to have two fingers up as ears like little bunny foo-foo), Horse (bounce body like Mama is bouncing you on her knee), Frog (stick out tongue), Bear (scratch chest and growl), Bird (two fingers open and close like bird beak), Duck (whole hand open and close like duck bill), Pig (she aims for her nose with an index finger, but usually hits her mouth), Spider (grab finger of one hand with other hand and twist like itsy bitsy spider), Fish (smack lips together like fish kisses)

Social: Bye Bye (wave), Put this on (put piece of clothing near the appropriate body part -- especially shoes and hair clips and hats), Take this off (yank on clothing and whine), Reaching high (two arms up high), Pick me up (arms up or out with a whine or grunt), I want that (point with a whine or grunt), Bounce with me (bounces body), I want to climb up (lifts foot), Take me there (point while being held), Love (hug), Peekaboo (hide behind hat or blanket and then peek out), Sleepy (Rub eyes), Amen (two hands together like praying, then move them up and down), Yes you understood! (big smile and relieved chuckle)

Things: Flower (breathe heavily - it's supposed to be sniffing, but she's chronically conjested), Hat (touch head), Ball (make hand into ball shape and twist back and forth), rain (hands downward like rain falling), Fan or pinwheel (fwoosh noise like blowing on something), Light (Flick fingers like popcorn song), Book (Hands together like praying and then open like a book - though she likes to have somebody else put them together first)

Food: Eat (fingers or anything else handy to mouth), Drink (finger in mouth with hand upside down like it's lifting a cup or bottle), Cheerios (make a circle with thumb and forefinger and wiggle hand -- though she doesn't always make the circle), We're working on Cheese (wiggle two hands near mouth like Wallace and Grommit), All done (Wave hand from elbow in a dismissive gesture), No, I don't want to eat that (shake head like no while avoiding the spoon)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Church and State and Proposition 8

My husband found some remarkably good articles about how Porposition 8 does not threaten the separation of church and State and how imposing same sex marriage is threatining the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion I really reccomend them to anybody who wants some good secular arguments on the subject. The main site has a wealth of information, well researched, and written by people of conscience who understand our nation's laws and its ramifications.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

is it a choice?

I totally believe that there are some people whose feelings are so strong that they could never have a fulfilling heterosexual relationship. On the other hand, There are many -- especially teens -- who are confused about sexuality in general, and are willing to experiment with whatever is acceptable in their peer group. I know that during puberty, I had some very weird feelings and dreams, and if I had not been taught that all sexual contact outside of marriage is a sin, and will lead to unhappiness, I probably would have done some experimentation myself, just to see what the fuss was about.

The same goes for smoking -- I often have dreams where I'm a heavy smoker. Probably, if I tried smoking, drugs, or alcohol, I would quickly become addicted, and they would become a defining part of my life. Yet I've been warned that they're not healthy physically, emotionally or spiritually, so I stay away from them. Am I missing out on something? Yeah. I don't get those highs. But do I therefore feel that my life is empty and unfulfilled? No.

The people we're doing this for are those children who, in an atmosphere of permissiveness about sexual experimentation, would make choices that would lead them to unhappiness, yet in an atmosphere that stresses abstinence until total fidelity in marriage, would make choices that will lead to eternal happiness.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Exercising my constitutional rights

As I've said before, I believe that Proposition 8 is an important moral issue. For some though, morality is whatever they decide it means that day, so makeing arguments from a moral standpoint is useless, and so we need to find other arguments. Most of them have been rehashed over and over in the blogosphere, even in my own blogs.

In a letter to my cousin, who was asking about this, I said:
In a nutshell, the non-moral arguments are these:
  1. Saying gays have a "right" to marry under the equal protection clause of the constitution says that homosexuality is on the same footing as things like gender race and age. The problem is that anyone can claim to be homosexual -- there is no test for it -- and therefore, those that self identify have enormous political power over the rest of us.
  2. If sexual orientationis a discrimination class like the others, then they will invoke the decisions from other civil rights cases to:
    1. force churches and clergy to perform gay marriages or lose their tax exempt status.
    2. force photographers and other wedding service givers to give them service even if it conflicts with their religious beliefs and there are others willing to give the service.
    3. force religious adoption agencies to place children with same sex couples or close their doors entirely.
    4. preaching against homosexual behavior in church will become classified as "hate speech" and expose churches to lawsuits

  3. Gay marriage and gay sex will be taught in school diversity and sex ed classes on the same footing as traditional marriage, and parents will have no right to ask for their children to "opt out" of these lessons.

In the name of "civil rights for gays" which some judges find implied in the constitution, they are trying to take away our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion which are explicitly spelled out. That's why this issue is worth fighting for, even if you don't think it's a moral issue.

In the last few days, I've been exercising another of my constitutional rights -- the right of assembly. I attended a rally for the Yes on 8 bus tour. It was obviously staged as a media event, but I can find depressingly little news coverage of it. There was a professional photographer of some sort who took some photos of Elizabeth playing with my prop 8 sign. Since we're doing this for her, and other children like her, I thought I'd post my own photo of hope for the future.

Peter, Elizabeth and I also went to a sign waving event. They had people waving Yes on 8 signs on every major intersection of a main street in town. We were there for about an hour and a half, and got an interesting reception. The majority of cars just drove by with no response. Lots of cars honked. Many people waved, yelled encouragement, and gave us a happy thumbs up. A few gave us thumbs down or booed. A couple made obscene gestures and swore at us. If those proportions show the way people feel about Proposition 8 in our town, then there are more people who really care on the pro side than against.

I'm told that the manager of the F.Y.E. store across the street, where there were more sign wavers, called the police. Evidently several police cars showed up, but the cops told the manager that we had the right to assemble on the public sidewalk. They said that we were doing it peacefully and courteously, and there was no grounds for complaint. They told the sign wavers to be sure their cars weren't parked in that business's lot, and to stay off the grass, then the police gave them a thumbs up and drove off. This is one more instance where the people on the other side are trying to deprive us of our most basic constitutional rights because they don't like what we have to say. Luckily, in this case, the law is still on our side for now.

As a side note, I also have been seeing about the same proportions in my work calling voters for the campaign. Most don't answer the phone at all. Of those that do, most say, "Yes, I'm for 8 and traditional marriage." A few hang up or refuse to answer (which is totally within their rights), and only a very few say they are against it.

I have more hope for humanity today than I did before.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

There's a study that proves...

In my conversations with people about Proposition 8 and same sex marriage, proponents often say that there's no danger in raising children in families with same sex parents. They dare you to cite one study that proves otherwise. Of course, on the spur of the moment, you can't come up with an answer because, come on, can you cite one study that proves anything on the spur of the moment?

Well Troy has saved us all the embarassment of not having a citation to hand and/or the hassle of finding just the right ones to make your point. On his blog (here's the link again), he gives an exhaustive list of "facts and sources" about the issues surrounding Prop 8.

I got this link from my brother's blog. In his post, he says, "I think that the ability of the court to overturn legislation they believe is unconstitutional is a necessary part of our government to protect the minority from the majority. So while I disagree with the court’s decision to overturn Prop 22, I can’t complain about the process for doing so. It’s not “sneaky” or “underhanded” in any way; it’s the way the government is supposed to work. However, the ability to amend the constitution is the balance to that check, and we have the ability to turn it right back."

I thought that if my brother, who is a smart guy, didn't understand why people are upset about "activist judges legislating from the bench," then there might be others who are confused too. The problem is not that the court overturned a law as unconstitutional -- that is indeed what courts are supposed to do. The problem is that the court said that since they overturned one badly written law expressly forbidding something that has never been allowed, that means that the thing which has never been allowed is now allowed, legal, and encouraged.

That's like saying that when the court overturned the handgun ban in Washington DC, everyone who wanted to could go out and buy a gun that day to keep in their homes. There are still many other laws about guns including waiting periods, licensing regulations, and permits to carry concealed weapons that still have to be followed in the wake of that decision. When a court overturns a law, conditions should return to the status quo before the law was passed, not infer that a law endorsing the opposite has been created out of thin air.

I'm going to make up a case now that has no real bearing on reality in order to make a point. I'm sure that there are problems with the legal matters in my example because of things I don't know about communications law and fraud law. Ignore those, and try to see the larger idea. Imagine that the legislature passed a law forbidding fraud using a cell phone -- fraud is already illegal, and so is committing fraud using a regular phone, but the legislature sees that somebody might say that a cell phone is a different kind of technology, and so not subject to the same rules. They write a law, which a court overturns as unconstitutional because of somethingorother (I told you there would be problems with this example, but hear me out). That does not mean that all fraud using cellphones is now legal and that any con man who wants to protect himself should just go out and get a cellphone, and then he's a law abiding citizen. Fraud is still illegal, not to mention morally wrong.

In another recent case from California. A family of eight children was being "homeschooled" by the mother. In this case, the homeschooling consisted of minimal instruction accompanied by a lot of neglect and abuse. The court said that the parents did not have a constitutional right to homeschool their kids when the mother didn't have a teaching credential, that the legal fiction they were using to enroll their children in a private school they never intended to attend was not sufficient to satisfy the law, and that the welfare concerns of these children trumped any of the other pro-homeschooling options. Parent groups were up in arms over this decision, thinking that these judges were trying to legislate from the bench, but the decision made it clear that they were concerned with this one specific case, the Department of Education did not go out that week and start charging all homeschoolers with truancy, and later court decisions affirmed that in general, homeschooling is a legal option in California. This is the way courts are supposed to work. They are supposed to say, "the law can go so far and no farther," not "this law is bad, so the opposite is now legal."

What the California Supreme Court should have done in the same sex marriage case is what the New Jersey courts did in a similar situation. They found that the state's law forbidding same sex marriage was unconstitutional, but when striking down the law, gave the legislature six months to either write a law that was constitutional, or write one that allowed same sex marriage. It's the legislature's job to write laws, not the court's.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


One thing that people who are against Proposition 8 keep saying is that it won't affect you or your family. They're lying. The major players in the No On 8 campaign are actively working to make sure that same sex marriage is taught as an acceptable alternitive in public schools to children when they are very young and impressionable. Don't believe me? This article has the facts about so called diversity education.

The thing that really upsets me is that in the Massachusetts case (see the video below if you don't know what I'm talking about), the judge ruled that parents can't opt their children out of such instruction. I've been a public school teacher. it horrifies me to think that if I went back to teaching I might be required to teach something I find deeply morally wrong. More than that, it bothers me to think that I'd have no control over what my children were taught. I can think of several things about this case that go completely against the current rules about opting out of things in schools.

  1. Parents have the right to opt their children out of sex education (at least up to a certain age). If this isn't sex education, I don't know what is.

  2. Parents of Jehovah's Witnesses children are allowed to ask that their children be automatically opted out of any discussion or celebration of holidays, among other things, despite the frequent disruption this causes in class (the disruption argument is one of the ones used to deny Masachusetts parents the right to opt out).

  3. Parents can request that their children opt out of ANY given curriculum they find offensive, and most schools comply without question. As a drama teacher, I had my kids do a play about some archaelogists in an Egyptian pyramid. They saw mummies and cats and spiders and snakes and a few of the Egyptian gods. Some of the kids' parents had them opt out because this was "teaching them to worship idols." I thought it was bunk -- I was telling the kids about what the Egyptians believed, and told them that nobody believed it anymore -- it was just their way of explaining the world. And mostly it was just a reason to learn how to put on a play and do some dances. But I had to respect the parents' wishes and send their kids to the library every week for a semester.

These people don't just want to teach about other lifestyles, they want to actively promote them. That's just not acceptable to me. And telling me that this is the one thing I can't opt out of is simply ridiculous.