Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kind blog but not any kinder

After some thought, I decided to join Karen of Chookooloonks in designating this a I hope you find what I say occasionally insightful. I don't promise to be uplifting since my life is sometimes sad, and I also think that's a adjective others give to you rather than one you can give yourself, but the sign didn't say uplifting. It said "kind." I suppose I feel kind is also an adjective that others give to you as well.

On first impression, I don't think I come across as kind, so I'm not sure this blog comes aross as kind. I'm often preoccupied. I hvae a sharp wit. I'm slow to warm to people. But yes, I suppose I am kind. I help people. I used to do more when I could do more. I'm the sort of friend that people drop in or call when they're having a really bad day, even now. I sometimes say nice things, which are true, and always seems to startle people. But I'm the Elizabeth Bennett type. You'll have to read a fairly long way into the story to find my acts of kindness.

I've always been very careful in this public blog about what I say about other people, both those I know and don't know. Too many people have said cruel things to me either intentionally or unintentionally on my journey as a disabled person, especially, and sometimes as a woman of color for me to want to be cruel to others. Anyway, I find it's not very productive for me personally. It's more of a selfish thing. I'd rather devote my energy to people who are actually nice to me.

But still I'm English and I'm not entirely comfortable with the label 'kind'. So mushy. A part of me says stubbornly, "I absolutely refuse to blog any differently." But I don't think I have to. And the flower is very pretty.

Laughing in the hospital

Little T literally laughed in the ER. You'd never know from this picture that he was here in the hospital recovering from a life-threatening bacterial infection back in July 2005. He turned blue in my arms at home twice. He coded twice at the hospital. Teams of doctors rushed in and saved him.

But a few hours later my sister held him and he laughed again.

I no longer worry each day whether he'll still be here in a concrete sense. And I've been bogged down a lot by the constant grind of day to day care of a special needs kid. I've also been feeling depressed lately due to the medication I've been trying from my movement disorder. But this photo really lifted my spirits. It reminded me how far we've come and how he still laughs with that same wide open grin. I hope it lifts your spirits too.

She's Such a Geek now available in bookstores

She's Such a Geek is now available in stores. I just saw two copies in my local book store. It's also available on Amazon

My essay "Gimp Geek" appears in the second section of the book right before an essay by Violet Blue the sex writer for the Chronicle.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bracing myself dorky for my kids

For want of this lace-up ankle brace, I couldn't go on a "leaf walk" with my daughter today, so I'm sitting here typing to you. I sprained my ankle again. A repeated pattern I have.

This time, I was walking out from the flu shot clinic. I felt a little woozy. We were supposed to sit in this crowded room with other families. I think I may have even said out loud "I don't want to stay in this cesspit of germs." I meant no offence to other families. My own family has their own germs. My son has a perpetual cold and is still on a low dose of aspirin with no shots. I'm still nervous from his long period of being immunocompromised.

Anyway, I paid for my sins. We stepped outside and I stumbled on a gouge on the sidewalk probably carved out by the devil of germs.

Yesterday a podiatrist gave me an ankle stress test. This is where he yanks your ankle in a weird position and x-rays it. He told me if the bones split apart I need an operation. Yes, it's painful as it sounds. My bones are okay. I limped back to the exam room.

The podiatrist said I have hyperflexible ankles. Nothing to be done, except physical therapy to strengthen my weak muscles. I also need to wear a lace-up ankle brace when I walk on uneven surfaces, and especially when I go on a hike or play sports. The hyperflexible ankles are supposed to be part of my movement disorder myoclonic dystonic.

Premotherhood, I might have just said the ankle brace is a bit too dorky for me to wear except when actually hiking or sporting, but now I have two young children. In fact prekids, spraining my ankle was just somewhat annoying. I'd hobble around. It was painful, but life went on.

But the past two Halloweens I've not been able to go trick-or-treating with my kids, because I sprained my ankle. So I will actually follow the doc's directions and wear the ankle braces on uneven surfaces. Therefore my ankles will look dorky on many occasions.

Now understand, I'm no fashionista despite the fact that a photo with me in it launched our local paper's fashion section. But there's not being fashionable, and then there's looking like a dork.

I really can't think of a good shoe or fashion accessory to go with this brace. It comes in black (above) and white. They remind me of Victorian boots...sorta. If I were a man, I might try spats but that was the fashion for men not women. What do you think?

Crossposted in Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Monday, November 06, 2006

I can't vote on my own anymore

For the past two elections, for the first time in my voting life, I couldn't vote on my own. I had to ask my husband to help me use the touchscreen. I have a movement disorder, but I can use an ATM touchscreen on my own just fine. However, the touch screen bubbles on the voting machine were placed so close together and the screen was so poorly designed that I could not pick the candidates on my own. Just one of the many flaws of the touch screen voting machines.

Like the rest of the country I was really embarrassed about the voting shenanigans in Florida. In response, the California politicians rushed in these touchscreen machines. Many people don't trust them and rightly so.

More than terrorists hijacking airplanes, I worry about terrorists and other extremists hijacking our voting systems. It is too easy to change the software of our current machines and therefore change people's votes. The code is proprietary. Under current law only certain groups are allowed to test the machines.

Even with no malicious intent involved, computers crash. Software has bugs. You can not count on any computer system to work flawlessly. Yet our current voting system is based on that assumption. The error checking and auditing is laughable. No business would stand for such a system. I used to work for bank systems at credit unions. Believe it or not, yes there's a paper trail for every single transaction you make, even at an ATM. And occasionally the credit union must go back and audit every single transaction. The incumbent Secretary of State only got the machines to produce a paper trail after massive protests. The fact the machines weren't designed with a paper trail to begin with indicates the massive ignorance of the current Secretary of State about technology.

Some folks say "vote absentee." That will not help you. A human will merely use the same machines to put your vote into the same flawed machines.

Before my life as a mom, I help design and deploy the infrastructure of a major broadband ISP. I thought a lot about security issues. I don't believe in government conspiracies. I do believe that my vote counts if the machines work. However I don't trust that computers will always work perfectly.

We're at a crucial time in this whole voting machine process. I actually haven't made up my mind who will get my vote for governor. I still haven't made up my mind about the huge numbers of other ballot initiatives, except I'm pro choice so I'll vote no on 85. I still have to sort through piles of information and actually read the text of all the initiatives. But I do know I'll vote for Debra Bowen for Secretary of State.

One of the first things she did as a rookie congressperson was to pass a bill to put the State Congress online. She also passed a bill to prevent identity theft. Her web site says sensible things about the voting machines. If you care about the integrity of our voting system, I urge you to vote for Debra Bowen.
Crossposted to Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dad carries his love

C frequently carries both kids, even though he has a bad back. They're both bigger now too and Little T is a lot more squirmy. Yet he rarely says no.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

She's Such a Geek Blog

The anthology She's Such a Geek now has a group blog and already has some interesting posts. The anthology's coming out in November. It contains my essay "Gimp Geek" about my life as a computer geek with a movement disorder.

My baby can dance

My baby can dance. Put some music on, and he dances as well as the proverbial white guy. He's a quarter white and a quarter size of the average white guy. He gets up and shakes his booty. He shuffles and sways to the rhythm...sorta.He holds your hands and smiles into your eyes. He likes music with a smooth steady beat. Sometimes he stamps his feet. He doesn't like it too fast or too slow. He smacks me if I put the wrong music on. Disco is good. Hiphop, but not Death Cab for Cutie.

He also shakes his head a lot at random moments and smiles at you. You have to shake your head back. He doesn't say anything, but maybe that's because I haven't given him a microphone.

You can sing him out of almost any bout of crying. My daughter knocks him down...accidentally she says. She also says, "He's not a baby anymore. He's a toddler." But I mean baby like the rock and roll term, okay? She sings "You are my sunshine" to him. He stops crying. Works everytime.

Well, except when it comes to pants and shoes. Most of his temper tantrum involve pants. He screams and yanks off the wrong pants. He's made it very clear you have to wear the right pair of pants. Baggy blue nylon pants are his pants of choice. He doesn't care about other clothing, but pants matter. He prefers them hanging low like any teenager.

Shoes are important too with a good bright color like pink. Not girly shoes, mind, but Vans. He picked them out at the shoe store. Too bad they weren't his size. He cried and cried. He insisted on trying them on anyway and clomping about in them.

On our latest shopping expedition, he led us straight into Pac Sun, most definitely a store for teens. I'm totally serious. I thought sure, why not. We're still in the 'walking is very novel' phase. He tugged onto a t-shirt. I told him he was too young, but he wouldn't listen. He lay down, and cried. We had to carry him out. Bemused teenagers watched us go.

Now I don't let him watch MTV, but of course the media controls everything. So maybe he has dreams of being on MTV as the next toddler star. They start younger and younger these days.

My mom tells me I sang songs at age eighteen months. I rode on my dad's back and sang songs to him as they hiked across the world. I also held my hairbrush as a microphone and danced in front of the tv to "Top of the Pops" a Top 40 show in England. I also told my mom I was going to grow up and be a star. Sadly for the world, I decided not to pursue a career in music. But who am I to crush my baby's boy dream? I'm signing him up for a Music Together class. We all have to start somewhere.