Sunday, May 27, 2007

Eagle Trail

I made it to the South Hills today. Took tons of pictures and a few actually turned out.
Totum tree

This meadow will be bright with color in a couple of weeks

I'm glad they're catapillars. I thought they were spiders at first!

This is my church!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Shoshone Falls and Centennial Trail

Megan and I went to Shoshone Falls today and walked along the Centennial Trail. I took some pictures to share with you!
Shoshone Falls

Desert Flora


How funny is this? It's my horoscope today. What's with 4 this weekend?

Nothing ventured, nothing gained -- that should be your mantra today. To get the most out of life right now, you need to step out and be noticed as much as you can. Venture forth, and don't let anyone or anything intimidate you into silence. Try to initiate at least four conversations today (preferably with total strangers). They don't have to be long -- they just have to be genuine. Don't waste your charming self by being alone today!

Friday, May 25, 2007

What I learned this semester, Part III: Why I really quit my job (and it wasn’t to go back to school).

After 13 years of dedicated service, I resigned my position as paraeducator with the local school district. It was a decision I agonized over for some time, but made one Friday morning while setting up for the vocational business. That morning, the culmination of years of psychological abuse resulted in a shocking display of anger; by me. I went home that night and started reworking my resume.

My son’s counselor stopped by that Saturday and counseled me to go back to school and get my degree. So, that was what I decided to do. I hadn’t even completed one semester of school before I realized what was going on. I thought my supervising teacher was just burning out and becoming increasingly unpleasant. I was wrong. My supervising teacher had always been that way; I was just slow in figuring it out.

A person with an authoritarian personality becomes anxious and insecure when circumstances upset their world views. They seek “security, order, power, and status, with a desire for structured lines of authority, a conventional set of values or outlook, a demand for unquestioning obedience, and a tendency to be hostile toward or use as scapegoats individuals of minority or nontraditional groups” ( They tend to be very superstitious and credulous. The authors of my social psychology book described it perfectly: People with authoritarian personality kiss ass above, and kick ass below.

I don’t know why, but I didn’t recognize her in the guru’s and cult leaders I was reading about when I started this blog. I knew she had problems with one of her daughters, and I knew she was the cause, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I knew that any time she had more than two women working for her, they would end up fighting with each other. I couldn’t figure out why then, but I know why now.

In all the years I worked for her, she never once disobeyed even an off suggestion made by one of her supervisors. It didn’t matter how unfair it was to the students, or how much more work it would make for her paras, she complied. When her colleagues made inappropriate requests and comments regarding our students, she said nothing. She always said, as though it were her badge of honor, that she hated confrontation. Well, I guess she did when it came to colleagues and supervisors, but students and paras were another story.

She would choose a student each year that would be her “whipping boy”. That child earned the dubious distinction of being the in-group reject. She would have no trouble at all confronting that child, daily, publicly, relentlessly. Contrary to what most people believe, most high school students comply with teacher requests, and rarely stand against teachers. Mentally disabled children wouldn’t even know they were wronged, and are usually incapable of advocating for their rights, especially when they don’t know what they are.

Each time she had more than two paras working for her, she chose one of them to be her adult “whipping boy” outcast. It didn’t take her long, and peon workers learn early that it is better to be part of the “in” group than to be the one on the outs. She had no trouble confronting that poor woman either, daily, publicly, relentlessly. Eventually that para would resign, with prejudice.

I wasn’t there while she was raising her kids, but I see the aftermath. She chose one of her daughters to be the family’s “whipping boy”. That daughter is currently struggling with drug addictions and self destructive relationships. The offspring of one of those relationships is currently being raised by her mother, my ex-supervisor, teacher of disabled children. It’s a mess, and I feel sorry for the victims.

When I left the school district, she had hired a new para who unwittingly took the position of “whipping boy”. I went to visit once, and there were many more paras. I’m glad I’m not there anymore. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable things are now. (I do miss the kids, though, I miss them terribly)

It is true that I was a coward. I never stood up for any of the poor chosen victims, because, for a long time, I didn’t know what she was doing was really wrong. By the time I figured it out, I was afraid of her. Once I made my mind up to quit, I also vowed not to sit by and watch it happen without saying something. For those four months, she was on her best behavior. I think she sensed something had changed in me. (Maybe it was my shocking display of anger).

I think there are a lot more people out there who have authoritarian personalities than is generally assumed. My guess is that most, if not all, of the anti-social people committing horrible crimes against others had mothers who had authoritarian personalities. (I guess I’d better start working on that null hypothesis now!)

So there it is. I learned why society is swarming with violence and hate, why I’m so messed up, and why I really quit my job. It’s an awful lot to learn in such a short time. I don’t even feel like I’m the same person any more. I jumped ship, and am just floating, drifting with the current, until I find land to put my feet on again. Who knows what I’ll learn this summer? How different will you find me after this coming fall semester? Will you still like me? Will I?

Summer School

I’m legit now! I have my very own wireless internet connection. And I’m paying for it too! It is worth it, though, to know it’s really mine, and I don’t have to worry about feeling like a dirty little thief anymore.

School is strange right now. I am taking a pseudo psychology class that denounces credulity. It’s the class I go to right after the basic psychology class I have to have. In that class, I’m being asked to be credulous.

That’s right folks. Professors from the very same department of the very same university are sending me mixed messages! Be skeptical and think for yourself! No! I do this for a living! Trust me!

Obviously the basic stats teacher doesn’t know me well enough to know how reactionary I am. So, I am most likely going to research the topic and give him a term paper that isn’t assigned.

It is going to be about how significance values are set by the researcher who determines whether a type I error or type II error is more acceptable. He says that EVERYONE uses .05. It’s been agreed on by EVERYONE who does statistics and research! It’s in ALL of the books!

It’s also going to cover what the null hypothesis is. He is teaching us that it always has to say that the thing you are researching isn’t happening. I could be wrong, but I understood that the null hypothesis is a statement that is based on what is already known, or believed. (i.e., if you want to test your friends coin that just came up heads 5 times in a row, your null has to be that it is fair, because you know how a fair coin behaves – an unfair coin is unknown)

Anyway, having to come up with the opposite of what you are trying to prove for the null, and then determining what the type I and type II errors are from that is horribly confusing. “I do this for a living! Trust me!” is the worst way to teach something. If you can’t explain it in a way that makes sense, maybe you don’t know it well enough to do it for a living.

I don’t know if I feel any better after venting that. I just hope the statistics nightmares come to an end soon.

I know for sure that driving is getting old. I am driving four hours a day, four days a week. For heaven’s sake! And I still have to do it for four (±3) more days! What is it all for? FORE! (sorry, had to do it)

I am currently doing research of my own. I am trying to find out who makes the best bacon cheeseburger in town! If I don’t figure it out soon, I’m going to need to find out who makes the best fat jeans in town! So far, I’m kind of likin’ that texas burger at burger king.

Zach’s counselor came by today. Wanted to make sure I gave him his propers for counseling me to go back to school. So I did. If grudgingly.

Well, it’s decided. Zach and I are off to do research! Later!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Which Flower am I? Just like the ones in my garden!

The Iris is in full bloom! I can't believe how fast this spring is passing by. The lilacs bloomed and went, and I never even stuck my nose in them! How sad. The roses are blooming now too. I guess I'll have to stop and smell them before their gone. Luckily, they bloom all summer.

I don't have a high speed internet connection at home right now. I lost the one I was picking up and don't know why. I have put in an order for Qwest to hook me up with high speed wireless, should have that by Thursday. Then, I can be me again. I can blog more frequently, and frequent other blogs more frequently and frequently comment where comments are needed. Until then, I am a cavewoman.

Zach testified in court last Friday! That was quite interesting. The defense attorney kept trying to get Zach to talk in circles, and succeeding. I wonder if he really could figure out that Zach and his friend have mental disabilities. If they don't decide to settle out of court, and this goes to trial, I'll bet the defense attorney ends up making himself look like the fool.

In the mean time, I am coaching Zach on the difference between his own memory, and the memory of what someone else has told him. I also have been working on the difference between seeing a gun in totality, partiality and not at all. He seems to think if he didn't see the whole thing, he didn't see it at all. That was really the only part that he actually stumbled on.

I am also starting to understand something about he scientist/pseudo psych dichotomy. I need to post more on that once I get reconnected. I am also working on part III of what I learned. I hope to have that done before I have another semester under my belt.

For now, I have a basic statistics test to take this morning. I'll do fine if I read the questions and actually answer the question being asked! Can you say PAY ATTENTION!?

Which Flower are You?

You are an Iris:You are logical, analytical, dignified, and wise. You are studious by nature and may prefer books to people. You tend to be a serious person but are capable of making others laugh with your dry sense of humor. Friends always benefit from your advice.Symbolism: Over the centuries the iris has come to symbolize faith, wisdom, hope, and promise in love.
Take this quiz!


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Friday, May 18, 2007

What I learned this semester, Part II

Parental Rejection Theory: Why I’m messed up

This is the second part of a three part series. The largest part of what I learned was the causes and effects of antisocial violence. On the way however, I learned something about myself, and why I feel the way I do. And, once again, I get to blame my parents!

I’ve wondered alone my whole life. I was never what my mother thought I should be. My sister and brother reminded me often of how I was only the half sister. My biological father was never around, and my step father felt no real affection for me. I had no real friends at school, and often wandered the playground alone. If it weren’t for my children, I would still be utterly alone. I probably would have checked out of this life by now.

When I started school this January, I never expected to learn so much about why I came to feel this way about my life. In the sexual abuse of humans class, I began to revisit the more unsavory parts of my history. When they found a woman stabbed and dropped off the bridge, I couldn’t help but wonder how I escaped such an end.

Learning about antisocial violence was my mission. One of the questions that really haunted me was “how have I escaped drug addictions and antisocial behaviors myself?” I now know it was because I did have a place to go where I could be me. My grandma and grandpa saved me. I also had dance school where I was truly special (paid for by grandma), and was accepted by the other children there.

I read approximately 15 research papers this semester about where and how antisocial disorder begins. I found that so many of the problems adults face all seem to come from the same place. It all comes from being rejected as a child. Being rejected by parents, teachers, peers, and other important people in life, affects how a person sees themselves and how they fit into this world.

I am not antisocial (maybe a little a-social), I am not a drug addict, or alcoholic (weight is problematic), but I definitely struggle with depression. I’ve also struggled constantly with the relationships I have with other people, not just men, but my siblings, my friends, and my co-workers. Now I think I know why.

According to Ronald P. Rohner, who has researched parental acceptance/rejection theory for many years, a person’s mental self representation is determined by whether they felt accepted by their parents. A mother’s love has historically been considered essential to the development of her children. Through much of history a father’s love was not considered important, but more recent studies indicate it has as much influence as a mother’s love in determining how a person develops a sense of self.

When a person feels rejected by a parent, they will develop problems with feelings of hostility; dependence; impaired self esteem and self adequacy; emotional unresponsiveness and instability; and a negative world view. If a person continues to be rejected by others through their life, these problems intensify, leading to addictive behaviors, problems with depression and conduct disorders.

I don’t doubt that the temperament of the child factors into which problems will develop and to what extent. A child who scores low on tests of benevolence and conscientiousness becomes more aggressive when parented harshly and inconsistently. There are many possible combinations of parenting behaviors and child temperament that come into play, and I intend to do much more research on these possibilities.

What I can say is that my temperament is such that I adjust my behavior to conform to what people around me expect. My mother’s parenting behaviors were never consistent, and not just harsh, but abusive. I was singled out by my 2nd grade teacher who created an environment where I was not acceptable. I never questioned her behavior, nor did I ever speak against her (until very recently).

I did have some friends in school, but none who stayed friends with me for very long. It seemed no matter what I did, I was never good enough. If I was noticed at all, the attention I got from other kids was not desirable. Then I started to look like a woman, and started getting attention I did like. I can’t think of anything wasn’t willing to do to get that attention.

Eventually I did learn, (I hope) even that is not acceptance. I typically put myself aside, and become what I think he thinks is acceptable, and I have been wrong 100% of the time. Every man in my life (with the exception of my son – so far) has ended with me feeling rejected. Even in the relationships I end, I do so because I am not feeling accepted.

All of this rejection has lead to my “negative world view”. I often find myself shutting people out to protect myself from more rejection, and creating more of the rejection I want to prevent. I see this in myself to some extent now, but I have typically seen people as cruel and uncaring. Until very recently, I felt men didn’t love. I thought they were only after sex, and that nothing about a woman mattered except her body.

I have felt that society in general is cruel by its very nature. I usually expect rejection, and am constantly trying to prove my value. I suppose I might come across as too pushy and unyielding because of it. I don’t know, because no one ever tells me why they don’t like me. When I come across people who do like me, I have no idea why they like me, and often assume it’s because they don’t know me well enough yet, and will eventually reject me. Can anyone say “self fulfilling prophecy”?

I am fiercely independent. I am independent to my own detriment. I need warmth and compassion from other people, but I refuse to ask for it. If I tell people I need them, I feel weak and exposed. A plea for compassion is the fast track to rejection. The things I want the most I push away the hardest. That’s why I am utterly alone.

I don’t take drugs, I rarely drink alcohol, and I am never in trouble for breaking the rules. But I spend a lot of time alone, and lonely. I eat a lot, what else am I to do? It’s depressing. The isolation would be unbearable, if not for my children.

Unfortunately, R. Rohner does not say how a person is to overcome these powerful feelings that keep me isolated. How does a person find the kind of courage to let others in? How can you hold on to self value in the face of rejection?

Fear not, reader(s?)! I still have at least three semesters left to get my bachelors degree. Then, there will be more to get that ever dangling carrot of a PhD. I’ll figure this all out yet. Maybe I’ll even be able to help others who have suffered extensive rejection in their lives. Someday I’ll be able to look at personality types in conjunction with they way the person was parented and say, hey, all you need to do is…

Until then, take care.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


AAAAAA-It’s final! I have a new set of A’s to add to my collection. Ok, so one is an A- (in Stats of course), but I’ll take it, because it’s better than the B+ she could have given me.

It’s a great way to start out, a reminder of who I have come to be and not who I thought I was. I graduated from high school with under a 2.0 gpa. I thought that was all I was capable of, I’d been told as much my whole life. But now that I know better, I can do better.

I have already started summer school classes. I already feel overwhelmed, probably because finals week drained me, but I’m really kind of excited about it. I am in a basic statistics class that is a lot like intro, so I hope to do well, should I ever catch up on sleep.

The great news is the pseudo psych class is going to be a great adjustment for me. I’ve been reading the blogs of self-called skeptics who are also atheists. They have the ability to really bring me down sometimes, but apparently, being a skeptic doesn’t necessarily mean not believing in spirit.

You see, I’ve been in this place for most of my life. As a matter of fact, that is what this blog is about, trying to figure out what this place actually is. I don’t think I’m really going to get any closer to it either, and that actually brings me comfort right now.

How can the idea of not getting closer to figuring out where I am be comforting? Here it is. I don’t believe in the god of any of the major religions. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a need for meaning in my life. I have wandered from one place to another my whole life, and usually find myself closer to despair after each journey.

I can truly entertain the idea that all we are is what we see. I often visit that place on the freeway, thinking about all of the people in those cars, traveling from one place to another with determination. But what if there is no meaning? What if we are just like the housefly that travels in seemingly random circles and zig zags? What if everything we do in this life is a lie? What if it means nothing? What if this really is all we get and not one thing more?

It’s not a good place for me to visit. I have suffered much pain in this life, and if there is no real meaning or destination for me, then all hope is lost, and there is no reason to carry on. If this really is all there is, my presence matters very little. If this really is all there is, my absence matters not. My arrival deserves no celebration, my passing needs no sorrow. Nothing is lost.

But what if there is more? What if there is some greater purpose? What if my life truly has meaning for me, not just now, but forever? What if I am destined to make a difference? What if my future holds more than my past? What if my past was a map to my future? If there is meaning to my life, my presence is all that matters. If there is more to my life, my passing would be tragic. If my existence has meaning, my arrival should be celebrated, as all things are possible. If my existence has significance, my passing should be grieved, as all would be lost.

I guess what I am saying is, I should live this life as though there is a greater good. I should proceed as though I have a destiny to fulfill. I have nothing to lose, really. There is a possibility that all I will see in my future is pain and failure. Maybe I’ll get to know what it’s like to wake up someday, and be glad for it. I may never know the truth of my existence. I brings me comfort to be in a place where I don’t know, because the truth may mean my end.

I need to believe there is a higher purpose. Some days, it is the only thing that keeps me alive.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What I Learned this Semester - Part I

I learned that there are really a lot of problems in society. Is it just a curious coincidence that I should take a “sexual abuse of humans” class, and a “social psychology” class that would work in conjunction to help me see how people learn to hurt each other? Add to that a woman stabbed to death here in Twin; two young men put on trial this spring for stabbing a young girl in Pocatello to death; and a young man on a shooting rampage at his college. My own past brought to life added to the mix, immersing me in the world of social dysfunction and antisocial behavior.

I can’t write all of what I learned in one blog post, there is just too much to tell! Therefore, this will be the first of a three part series that will include why I really quit my job (and it wasn’t so I could go back to school), and how being rejected by our parents can lead to a lifetime of addictive behaviors that don’t seem to make sense. This post will encompass what I learned about the antisocial behaviors we’ve been hearing about so much about lately.

Antisocial Disorder: We’re all hurting

Who among us has not been affected by antisocial behaviors? When confused people do hurtful things, we want answers. We look for patterns in behavior that set “them” apart from “us.” Fingers begin to point in every conceivable direction, and while there are some patterns, they are just correlations. There are no valid predictors of violent offenders. None the less, we are driven to understand, and everyone has a pet theory to promote. So why shouldn’t I have one?

No one disputes that social competence and mental illness play into violent, anti-social crimes. Society is riddled with people who are loners, misfits, depressed and psychotic; most get through their lives without ever committing a violent crime. Yet one cannot deny that these traits are shared by an overwhelming majority of the people who commit brutal crimes. Even though a strong correlation between anti-social violence and social/mental dysfunction exists, we still cannot guess which of these sufferers will be the next “monster” among us. It is easier to speculate than rectify.

The problems start very early in life. A combination of child temperament and parenting behaviors set the stage. Harsh, inconsistent parenting behaviors are difficult to navigate by good tempered children. A child who is not as easy to get along with, however, will develop conduct disorders very early.

Many agencies currently reach out to parents to try to teach positive parenting behaviors. Most parents understand and agree that physical and sexual abuse is unacceptable. It doesn’t stop many from being physically or sexually abusive, however. And what about the hidden abuses that cannot be physically proven?

Authoritarian parents can be very psychologically abusive. They teach children that consequences usually have more to do with parental moods than child behavior. The child learns to be distrustful, and fearful of those who are supposed to be their protectors.

Parents who were abused when they were children often do not have the ability to teach their children adaptive behaviors that will help them to navigate successfully when they start school. Parents, who had unpleasant school experiences as children, will not provide positive academic experiences for their children. Their children will start school academically unprepared and less socially competent than many of their children’s peers.

If parents can’t teach their children to socialize properly, then it is up to society to do it. We need to start in elementary school, by structuring, and adequately supervising social interactions on the playground.

The implementation of social skills classes in the early elementary grades is the perfect place to start, but it costs money, and taxpayers are reluctant to pay. “It was good enough for me, it’s good enough for them” no longer makes sense. Our children are sent to public school to learn. Who is teaching them?

When a child who has aggressive tendencies starts school, that child is typically excluded from peer groups. It is unclear how much of the exclusion is due to child discrimination and how much is due to teacher aversion. What is known, however, is that a child who is excluded is deprived of the opportunity to learn appropriate social skills.

Studies also show that the excluded child displays more reactionary aggression for each year he is rejected by peers. The good new is that if the child finds acceptance in a peer group, the aggressive tendencies decrease dramatically. In essence, by excluding a peer, children are direct participants in the escalation of anti-social behaviors and social incompetence in the rejected child. They can also be responsible for reversing that trend.

Unfortunately, children are typically left to themselves to learn how to socialize on the playground. Seeking help is reserved for serious behaviors, such as threats and physical aggression. Seeking help for teasing, which most rejected children see as serious, is considered a cowardly thing to do by students and by many teachers. It is assumed that children should be able to resolve such situations on their own.

Socially competent children have the skills necessary to resolve conflicts. The children who have never had the opportunity to learn conflict resolution skills often find themselves victimized by the socially competent bully who manipulates the social situation to his advantage.

Even if the situation becomes physically threatening, the student is not likely to find a teacher for help. The teacher is usually attending to preparation and other teaching duties. The playground, then, becomes one of the most dangerous places for children, yet this is the place they learn much of how to socialize.

After years of parental abuse, peer and teacher rejection, and the feeling of not having any control over their environment, it is not surprising to see the kind of anger it takes to kill or otherwise harm other people. The kids who murder their peers are not monsters, they are simply confused individuals who are unable to cope with the stresses they have been forced to endure.

There is no good reason for violence when help is available. Helping perpetrators before they offend is difficult, however, because there is such a stigma of hate surrounding their thought patterns. A person would be understandably reluctant to reach out for help for fear of being labeled “sick” and suffer further rejection, or even arrest and incarceration. Offender hotlines have been suggested, and some incarcerated offenders say they would have used one if it had existed.

Public funded programs do not exist to help these people because the public doesn’t feel these people deserve the funds. Instead, all of the focus is directed toward the victim. While it is true that victims need and deserve the help to recover, fewer victims would be created if money was being directed toward the people at risk of committing the offenses.

Let’s start early, and teach our children how to socialize. All children have the right to competent social skills. Supervising playground activities, and teaching the aggressive child how to resolve conflicts in a socially acceptable manner is good for all of us. In the long run, we would save money by not having to house ever growing prison populations, or having to provide services to victims for recovery.

Many insist that the violent offender does not deserve the respect of being heard or understood. But I guarantee that just because the majority of people refuse to hear or try to understand it, there is a significant minority that not only hears and understands his pain, they feel it with him. Copy cat incidences always occur after such an episode, and they aren’t always done by cowards. Our kids are hurting, they are shouting out at the top of their lungs that they desperately need help, they need to be heard. Will we ever listen?

Friday, May 04, 2007

A+ update.

I miss my blog! I was busy writing term papers, and thought I could breath, but then finals managed to get in the way.

The good news is, the term paper I was worrying about - I got an A+, see!?! And not just an A+, I got a thank you with it! I have to say, the thank you means more than the grade! I am excited. I still have to put together a presentation for the class, but I should be able to do this in my sleep. I might have to ; ) I am currently reading three more studies to add to the presentation. This stuff is so interesting!

I am intermittently writing a series of blogs that discuss what I have learned this semester. Some of what I learned encompasses what causes some of us to develop addictions, while others develop anti-social disorders. I also learned why I quit my job! I'll finally get to write that letter of resignation after all!

Life is getting better, but I'm not home free yet.

I have to study hard this weekend, and week, for two of my finals. I currently have an A- in my intro to stats class. What that means is: if I get an A on the final, I get an A in the class. If I get a B on the final, I get a b in the class (b's are our friends, but they can still sting!). It is that close! My homework is what made the difference. I had 104% on my homework score!

I also have a final in that sexual abuse of humans class. It's the same deal. I get an A on the final, I get an A in the class. I am definitely spending all of Sunday and Monday memorizing every damned letter of the 14 pages of notes I took. I'll get that A yet, don't you worry about that!

Megan bought a bike this week so we can go bike riding together! It is just like mine! It's so cool. We can go mtn biking too! We'll have to brave the streets near soccer fields, though. People who take their kids to soccer games prefer parking in bike lanes to parking the adjacent parking lots! ;) Oh yeah.

Better go, this is starting to feel a lot like procrastination.