Monday, July 28, 2008

Mother of Shrek

Mother of Shrek is transitioning her son into residential care. He is at that age now when people move out and go on to live an adult life. It isn't easy for them. C doesn't like change and his health suffers. His mom has to deal with all the emotions and fears that come with making sure that he is in a safe place where he will be properly cared for. She has to worry about how long it will take him to transition, and what toll the change will take.

She also has to deal with the same things all other parents face when their children leave. The loneliness, the uncertainty, the pride, the tears and the heartbreak. You see your children out there in the big cold world and you know you can't pick them up and kiss their owees.

She has had to fight prejudice and bigotry that makes what Zach and I have faced look mild. People have been openly cruel to C and his mom. I can't imagine how I would have handled people taking pictures with their cell phones, laughing, taunting, and hitting when out in public.

She's feeling especially lonely these days - which is saying something considering how isolating it is to have a child with a disability (especially autism).

My thoughts are with her. I recommend her site to anyone who is interested in knowing what it is like to unconditionally love your son in a world that despises you for it. I believe that the prejudice and bigotry will only diminish by the example of mothers like her.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Scrutator: A Little Here, A Little There

This week I would like to start with a couple of updates. First, I wrote about autism treatments in a previous scrutator. This week I read a post written by an autistic man. Joel talks about the kinds of treatments autistics need in order to navigate this world more effectively. It is an enlightening read, and it is written by an adult autistic man who should know what types of supports he needs in his life. They all seem pretty reasonable to me.

Last week I wrote about churches and the people who are picketing the opening of the Mormon Temple. The Times News has written a story about the protesters at the temple, and has written a follow-up editorial. What is really strange here is that the usual atheist crowd is conspicuously silent in the comments. All of these christian (mormons are christians, they do believe in christ) religions are bickering over who is right and who is wrong. Not one of them can present any real evidence for their beliefs. It's like constructing buildings for the express purpose of begging santa for presents, then arguing with other santa believers about whether santa has 8 or 9 reindeer, picketing each other with information about how santa won't bring the 8 reindeer believers presents because they don't believe in rudolf. Folks, there is no santa - there is no rudolf. I'm sure you can figure out where this is going.

The latest message coming from the catholic front is to stop planned parenthood from disseminating information to young people. The email states:

Ok so some pro-lifers may take things too far or seem a little freaky but after
watching these links to the Planned Parenthood site for teens (still children),
can we have any doubt that we need to start standing up for our children's right
to be at least somewhat wholesome and to regard sexuality with respect. I am
blown away. Who wants their children to watch this stuff and who wants their
children to treat sex and intimacy with such a disgusting attitude. Find a
way to stop planned parenthood from using OUR tax money to promote this kind of
disrespect and filth. This is only just shy of pornography.

They then link to the Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamet site where several little skits are provided to inform young people about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent them. "I Didn't Spew" and "Down There Song" are apparently the most reviled skits.

You know, folks, if parents would teach their children about sex, they wouldn't need to learn it from their peers, and we wouldn't need sites like this that try to redirect that shoddy sexual learning! Unless you live in a cave, you know that kids talk like this. After all, where do you think planned parenthood came up with the interesting vocabulary?

I think it's kind of cute, and it is educational above all else.

The minimum wage increased again on Thursday. The same debate is still brewing, but this time the plummeting economy is in the mix.

Richard Vedder, an Ohio University Professor, thinks that this increase has come at a terrible time and that it will hurt the poor unskilled minority workers it is intended to help. I have to wonder where he thinks minimum wage workers work. They work at fast food restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, retail stores. I don't really see these businesses going out of business because of a housing crunch.

Arindrajit Dube, labor economist with UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment doesn't believe there will be any job losses, because we haven't seen job losses yet due to variability in minimum wage rates. As a matter of fact, most experts agree that the minimum wage increase will act as the best stimulus relief package to date. The people who work at minimum wage jobs are the people who spend their money - and usually all of it - on things like food, shelter, gasoline and retail items. Their wage increase will benefit the companies they work for, not hurt them.

Minimum wage still needs to be increased to make up for 40 years of stagnation. Once it catches up, mechanisms need to be put in place that ensure inflation rate increases every year. Leaving it up to businesses obviously doesn't work. It is a sorry commentary on our nation that people can work two and three jobs and still fall under the poverty guidelines.

It's sad that we have to force employers to do what is right, but they have left us no choice. Being forced to victimize low wage earners in the US and abroad is not acceptable. We need to figure out how to stop allowing 20% of people from earning more than 50% of the money.

I really hate capitalism. It uses and abuses people. It robs people of happiness.

A solar eclipse will take place on August first. Anyone want to go to Russia, Mongolia or China to see it with me? You have to pay for the trip of course, as I am poor.

No wolf hunts! I'll never understand the way ranchers have opposed re-introducing wolves up here in the north-west, but I'm glad they're back. I was so disappointed that they were delisted and that states were going to allow hunts. But, it's ok for now, they will be back on the endangered species list until it is know how healthy the population really is. Come on, folks, they've only been here a few years. Nothing really bad has happened. When they eat your sheep, you get reimbursed. Wolves are prettier than sheep.

And that's all I have for this week's scrutator.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Navy Blue Angels

The Navy Blue Angels are in Twin this week for a show at the airport this weekend. I can't go because I'm poor, and I have to work. But they have been practicing a lot this week, and today, Zach and I went out the the airport to watch them practice.

I have to say it was eery. First of all, they flew right over our car on the way. Then we got there and watched them do some trick and then they disappeared for a while. Then, we could see them coming from far off in the distance. In a matter of seconds they were close enough to see the designs on the planes. They were completely silent, and it wasn't until they got really close that we could hear this eery scream, and it wasn't until they passed over us and were heading off in the other direction that we could hear the full force of the engines.

I know some things about sound waves and how they work, and even so, it was surreal! Imagine if I didn't know what was going on! I wonder how many ufo sightings are really fighter planes.

Another thing that I thought about was the people who live in war zones. I am so glad I don't have to worry about not knowing about an attack until things were blowing up.

And, those guys are crazy, ok? They have this cute little trick where they're flying right into each other and they look like might crash. Can you imagine practicing that maneuver for the first time? I can't. Actually, come to think of it, it sounds kind of fun!

Someday, I'll get a chance to fly that fast.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Scrutator: Standards

Andrew S. Tanenbaum once said "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from." I couldn't describe the topic of this week's scrutator better myself. So I didn't.

The mormon temple is now finished and open. For a while, they are allowing the public to tour the building. Then they will have some kind of cleansing ceremony and only some mormons will be allowed in. Megan wants me to go see it with her on Saturday. I figure it will be fun! A lot of expense went into this building. I wonder if mormons are the only religion left who believe their places of worship should be the best and most beautiful buildings. Of course, not all mormon churches are exquisite. Their churches are generally better looking than some of the other religions' around here, but they do a fabulous job on their temples. In fact, the temple inspired me to tour Twin Falls and take pictures of all the churches (all I could find anyway), and post them here. Some are dumpy little buildings, and some are rather pretty. And some are warehouses that have been prettied up like cheap whores.

The temple is a heck of a lot better than the warehouses some of the churches around here started building. Calvary chapel and amazing grace fellowship come to mind there. They both have made some entrance detail that improves curb appeal, but they are still just warehouses. The lighthouse christian fellowship doesn't even bother to build. They move into abandoned stores. That is why I didn't bother to get a photo of them. (Not on purpose anyway, I think they are the folks picketing in front of the mormon temple).

The temple reminds me of the days of old when the catholic church spared no expense in the artistry of their churches. They employed the best artists of their time to adorn the walls with amazing beauty. I've never seen one in person, but I'd like to. Our catholic church was the most beautiful church in town until the temple was built - at least in my opinion. I still think it is beautiful, and if it had gargoyles instead of cherubs, it would still be in my mind. It would be even better if you could still see the stained glass windows from outside, and still had real bells in the bell tower. I can still remember hearing the bells ring on clear mornings.

The united methodist church is beautiful too. They built onto it, which spoiled the effect, but the stained glass is pretty. The first baptist church has pretty windows too. It isn't my favorite style of building, but it is also pretty. The one thing the catholic church, united methodist church and first baptist church have in common is their age. They were all built during the early years of Twin Falls's existence. Churches were still something people took pride in. The buildings celebrated what was beautiful in the hearts and minds of people. It's nice to see that some religious groups still see that as important.

Wesleyan Holiness ChurchSt. Ignatius Orthodox Christian ChurchSt. Edwards Catholic ChurchUnited Methodist ChurchUntied Methodist Church WindowValley Christian ChurchOur Savior LutheranReformed Church of Twin FallsReformed Church of Twin Falls spanReformed Church New stuffSeventh Day Adventist ChurchLDS MauriceLDS Maurice SeminaryLDS TempleMagic Valley Bible ChurchNew Hope Christian FellowshipLDS CaswellLDS behind the templeLDS EastlandLDS HankinsLDS HarrisonGrace Baptist ChurchHeritage Allliance ChurchImmanuel Lutheran ChurchJehova's WitnessJehova's Witness Sign (the only hint a church lives here)Faith Assembly of GodFirst Assembly of GodFirst Baptist ChurchFirst Christian Bible ChurchFirst Church of the NazarineChurch of Christ, ScientistCommunity Christian ChurchCommunity Church of the BrethrenCornerstone Baptist ChurchEastside Baptist ChurchBible Missionary ChurchCalvary ChapelCalvary Chapel JunkCalvary Chapel Side ViewChurch of ChristAmazing GraceAscension Episcopal ChurchAsemblea ApostolicaBeautiful Gate Baptist ChurchBethel Temple (the church that scared me to death!)

I went to a lot of work to make these pictures into thumbnails! I still think blogger should add thumbnail to picture size. You can mouse over the thumbnail to see the name of the church, and click on the thumbnail to see the full sized image.

On the 4th of July I wrote about the whining taking place by Brandi Swindell and Bryan Fisher. Apparently, they have received enough donatons from their religious friends to take care of the matter.

They are paying the fine! Hopefully that means I won't have to listen to the whining any more!

The catholic church has a ten commandments monument in front of their church. I didn't know it was there until I saw it in the picture. Very observant, aren't I? (My gaze always went to bell towers and windows).

I didn't intend to make this whole week about religion. It's just religion has been on my mind a lot lately. The nice thing about religions is, like standards, there are so many to choose from, or reject as you wish. I don't get picketing the temple, however. Mahatma Gandhi said "the various religions are like different roads converging on the same point. What difference does it make if we follow different routes, provided we arrive at the same destination.?" I guess what the protesters think is that the destinations are different. They don't know, though, do they? It's all faith. I guess that's the problem with faith - people keep hurting each other because they have different ideas about something there is no evidence for.

That and so many other ideas are being marinated in my mind, and hopefully it will culminate in another acquisition post. This one I am trying to do research on, but so far I'm not finding what I'm looking for. I still have a month before school starts to get it done, though - fingers crossed.

That does it for this weeks ex-communicated Scrutator. Enjoy the church pics!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Which advice should I take?

My horoscope today says to back off and stop coming on too strong, that someone will come around at their own pace.

But my daily fortune says to tell someone I love them!

Which should I do?

Go after that certain someone, or back off?!?

Wait. What certain someone? I don't even have a certain someone!

OMG! Now what? I guess I'll have to quit putting so much stock into my horoscope and daily fortune. But how shall I live my life without them? Why does life have to be so confusing!?!

(I'm just kidding in case you didn't guess. I just thought it was funny to get two opposite reactions in the same day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The neighborhood is changing. Across the street a big (and I mean big in numbers as well as weight) family has moved. They have a dog that looks very small, but it barks really big. All of the freaking time!

Right next door to them a group of men have moved in. They spend a lot of time working in the yard and growing a garden. They also like to sit and drink and laugh and party from time to time. From time to time you can hear loud popping sounds. It's them shooting rocks at a target with sling shots.

Most recently, a young man has moved into the house just on the other side of the neighbor I have talked about. Tonight (11:00 p.m.) he came over to find out if we had called the police on him. It freaked me out a bit. I asked him to leave, which angered him, and he left screaming explicatives. I guess I will have to visit him in a couple of days, during the day, and explain to him that we don't like people coming up and sticking their heads in our door in the middle of the night. It took me forever to get Zach calmed down. I guess the guy thinks that Zach is a threat because he sits, or paces in the yard a lot.

It's like Zach said about the girl who started sexually harassing him at work: "It doesn't matter how hard you try to avoid trouble, it always finds you!"

Well, Zach spoke with his supervisor, and she is taking care of that problem. Hopefully it will end well, as will this.

Maybe we need better fences.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Scrutator: A little cranky

Do you find it at all surprising that I'm a little cranky this week? I sprained my ankle on the 4th, got a cold sore on the 9th, and I am feeling a little closed in. All I have to keep my busy is this computer and tv. I have the piano too, and my art, but of course they aren't getting much use, because I'm too cranky. I have work to, but that's work!

I can only hope for a speedy ankle recovery so that I can get out there and walk again.

In the mean time, here is this weeks edition of the cranky Scrutator.

Regional Economist Jan Roeser believes that the Twin Falls area economy is a-ok! If you took a snapshot, you might agree. Yes, our unemployment is below the national average, and that probably has something to do with the fact that there is a lot of agriculture here.

But I have a fairly decent memory.

I remember economic downturns and upturns and such. If you live here long enough, you come to learn that our economy is usually a year or two behind the nation. We will be affected by the economic mess the rest of the country is already experiencing. We are not an island unto ourselves.

So people are going to pat themselves on the back for having it so good in such hard times. Then Twin's economy will catch up to the rest of the country, and people will bitch. But just wait until the nation's economy rebounds and ours doesn't! I can hear it all now!

Just like with gas prices. The rest of the nation usually experiences rate hikes a couple of weeks before we get hit with them. No one really points that fact out it seems. But when the rest of the nation starts paying less for gas than we do, AAA will be all over the tv trying to figure out why our prices are so high! People! It always takes us a while to catch up with the rest of the world! We are a backward hick town in the middle of a backward hick state. Don't believe me? Look at how this state votes!

KMVT has been broadcasting every little injury that the base jumpers have received over the past year or so. Someone has an agenda. They have a poll at the bottom of their page asking "Should base jumping from the Perrine Bridge be regulated by the State of Idaho?" No has been leading the entire time. I think the whole thing is a little petty on KMVT's part. I can't figure out why they aren't trying to close down the fireworks display at CSI considering how sprained my ankle is right now! I wasn't jumping or anything. I was just walking.

It's funny how they don't broadcast running injuries, or bicycling injuries. And skiing! How can these ski resorts not be regulated by the state. (heck, maybe they are!) Anyway, my point is, the number of people base jumping off the bridge is quite high. It is rare to find a nice day with no jumpers. In all that time I think we have had one death (maybe two?) due to parachute failure. We did have a death of a person not from here who got to twin at sundown and couldn't wait to jump. He landed just fine, but couldn't find his way out of the canyon and died of hypothermia. So maybe winter should be regulated by the state!

Just a little cranky here.

We have our share of antivaccination kooks in Twin (duh, backward hick town). One tragic bad reaction does not justify such an unfortunate reaction. After all, Measles are known to kill, polio is known to disable, rubella is largely responsible for my mother's personality problems, and autism is NOT awful, like cancer! I am glad that the Times News reported the CDC side and not just the parent side. But they, like so many media rags, gave too much credence to the parent's emotional outburst. It is a dangerous position to take.

Yes, J.B. Handley, parents of young autistic children are desperate. They are desperate to believe that their beautiful, normal-looking children can behave normally as well. My son is 20 years old, and over those two decades, I have read of numerous treatments for autism. Most of them were crap, many were harmful. All were propagated on desperate parents.

Bruno Bettelheim hypothesized that detached parenting (refrigerator mothers) was the cause of autism, and autistic children were placed in foster homes to be cured. The majority who didn't improve (some did as with ALL treatment types), were placed in institutions.

ASAT has a comprehensive list of the treatments that have been used, and still are used to treat autism. Their list of psychological, educational, and therapeutic interventions covers 21 different therapies. Of those 21, ABA, AIT, Augmentive Communication, Facilitated Communication, PECS, Psychoanalytic and Humanistic Play Therapy, and Video Modeling, have been studied scientifically. ABA and Video Modeling (a component of ABA) have been shown to be effective. But even ABA has it's weakness. ABA designs usually consist of just a few participants. Larger studies that include control groups and double blind design are necessary to determine how effective ABA is in and of itself, and which components of ABA are most effective. It is also very difficult to find ABA programs and therapists that are consistently effective (partially due to the lack of large studies). Augmentive communication and PECS can be effective, but only on a limited scale. Psychoanalytic and humanistic play therapy, and facilitated communication have found to be ineffective and have actually caused harm to the autistic individual and their families, and AIT has been found to be ineffective.

Of the 10 biomedical treatments, only risperidone (Risperdal), methylphenidate (Ritalin), fluoxetine (Prozac) have been scientifically supported in affecting behavior. But these interventions have potentially serious side effects, and one must weigh the benefits against those risks. Other treatments have shown no effect, and are not even logical courses of treatment for autism. Some are even quite dangerous. Chelation (a therapy currently being used because of the false assumption that thimerosal in vaccinations causes autism) has killed at least one autistic child. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Herbs and Homeopathic Treatments, Special Diets, and Vitamin and Supplement Therapy are treatments that are supposed to treat unsubstantiated causes of autism, and can cause physiological harm.

Most of the treatments on that list are pet theories and scams. Flim-Flam artists are quick to pick up on the emotional distress of parents who have just learned their child has autism. People don't know what autism is, even science hasn't solved the mystery! And most mysteriously, some (most?) autistic children make remarkable gains and do well in life. This leaves a huge opening for those scam artists to come in and say that their treatment works. And frightened, DESPERATE parents put their child in harms way for a hope of a dream.

I personally think that autistic children would be best served by acceptance. If they were born with down's syndrome or mental retardation, would they be the victims of so much pseudoscience? It's ok to be different, and it's ok to have a child who is different. Autism isn't that scary. Parents should be taught how to communicate with and teach their autistic child. All children benefit from good parenting skills, but autistic children require them. Part of good parenting skills is loving and accepting your child regardless of how far from normal they are.

There is no reason to be terrified and desperate. There is no excuse for putting your child in harm's way because of your distress! Autism is NOT awful!

I have this friend who is a catholic, and from time to time she sends me these ridiculous e-mails to sign petitions and to beware of some horrible thing that is happening to the morality of our world. I got this one yesterday. It is telling us that McDonalds is evil for supporting same sex marriages. Actually, they supported the gay rights parade with a commercial. I can't see anything wrong with that.

I wonder, though, how she thought it was ok to send this to me. She knows Zach works at McDonalds! Maybe she thinks he should quit asap and live the life of an unemployed citizen?

I think I have asked her not to send me this stuff. You should have heard her when I told her Megan had joined the mormon church! You would have thought she was planning to murder or something. And then when I told her I had considered sending Zach to church with Megan so that he could find good friends...OMG! The world was collapsing in on her! (in case you don't know, catholics HATE mormons). Now she wants to hurt Zach by hurting his employer. The same employer who regularly hires people with disabilities when no one else will. The same employer who gave Zach his first chance. Good one!

So, I guess I'll have to get off my diet and eat at McDonalds to show my support for a company who is on the side of the underdog.

I can't wait to see what she sends in response to Pharyngula's challenge. Turns out the catholic church has a lot of hate to go around. I am so glad I'm not catholic.

I'm still cranky. The ankle is getting better, the cold sore is going away and life will be fun and fulfilling again soon. I'll do a better job of therapizing my ankle so it doesn't go out again. I don't know what to do about nasty cold sores to really prevent them, but I will try to keep up on taking lysine supplements - they seem to help - I guess.

And that wraps up this edition of the Scrutator.