QC-L Version 4.0

Yes, welcome to my lair of evil thoughts and incorrect speech where I don't let go and move on and I talk about whatever I please. On a blog no one ever tells you to shut up. If you don't like what I say, just go elsewhere.

This blog now has a new background and a new theme. It is also using a remotely loaded style sheet. That is a first. It is lush, heavy, and uses a background that has a theme I have never used here before, though I have used it for pressies. Let the show go on! It always does anyway. And yes, we are powered by Blogger.

I am putting a temporary illustration here until I have a logo for this design. Watch this space.

temporary illustration


The Backfile: this blog's archives.

Ajayu, home of my story, The Sneezeweed Chronicles. Yes, I do fiction.

It will have Oneiro, my own little role play.

Unfettered Soul, my flagship site.

The Silk Purse, my play pretend Brainstorms.

Failed Messiah Religious news never sounded so good.

New York Times. Read the news and be smart.

Friday, December 31, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

No, I am not going to stop my multivoice boards. I guess they are on break again though. I decided that Haldis' getting the vote page cleaned up at the New Southern Hemisphere at the Webleagues was more important. It was a mess. It has needed a cleaning for a long time. Today I was out. I am only now catching up on my "daily does."

I will grant that not playing much Neopets any more takes the pressure off the need to multivoice blog as does keeping a spirit contact log. I like doing the avatar blog though and the Brainstorms blog, Third Rail, will be fun too. Getting into the swing of things after several days away (Hey I owed myself a vacation didn't I?) will be tought, but quitters never win and winners never quit. Face it, I am a first class winner. To be a winner, one needs to think like a winner.

It looks like I am going to work tomorrow (They are closed, but I have a pass key.) and getting ready some graphics I need and making others as well. The reason is that RAOK is having a sixth birthday party, and RAOK is an institution I support heart and soul. I am also woefully behind on the guestbook again, and a fast computer connection helps. The good news is that the front page of my Play Pretend Brainstorms is getting a graphic and textual revision. Now if I could only do the same for my vita. Maybe I will.

The problem is there are a bunch of "real world" things that need doing tomorrow, cooking, paying bills etc... I also need to put in an appearance at schul. Yes, we have services New Year's Eve. I think this is wonderful. The rabbi is out of town and Dr. Kravtin is standing in. Dr. Kravtin grew up here in Columbus, Georgia, and when I was downtown on Tuesday I noticed there is a store called Kravtin's that was run by his parents. The first generation worked or other people and then eventually for themselves. The second generation were entrepreneurs, and the third generation (especially after the Great Depression gave the second generation a wallop) became professionals. That is the way it is with Jews. I am the fourth generation. I guess we turn out to be bums, but at least I'm a bum who goes to schul. I'll see hhow it all flows together tomorrow.

I went to Atlanta today and visited Zoo Atlanta, and went to the DeKalb Farmer's Market. The market is the way the market always is which is good. The zoo cost seventeen dollars admission. How do you say rip off, but there are times when you do not care about being ripped off. This was one of them. It has been years since I have been to a zoo. I like zoos. There is nothing as exciting and emotionally amazing as seeing exotic animals in the flesh. The primates in particular look so human. I also saw two otters humping each other in broad day light.

The giant pandas were a disappointment. One was asleep and the other was a fat filthy dumb looking thing with all the personality of a sponge. The red panda was another story. I like red pandas. He was by himself and asleep in the sun but he was clean and sleek and handsome. A woman viewing him was thrilled with how handsome he was. One of the nice things about zoos is people ooh and ah and genuinely like what they see.

The best part of the zoo was the petting zoo. Petting zoos are very important because wild animal exhibits are hands off. The petting zoo is hands on. Also a petting zoo features farm animals. A really good one (and the one in Atlanta is not a really good one) features a wide variety of species and breeds, including heritage breeds. This is important because heritage/heirloom livestock has genes missing from the commercial livestock gene pool. An undiverse gene pool is a recipe for disaster. The petting zoo in Atlanta only has sheep and goats. The male goats are neutered and all animals are dehorned. The pot bellied pig is kept caged. There are no horses, cows, or chickens.

That said, the petting zoo was loads of fun. I let myself in throgh the double gate to get a better glimpse of the pot bellied pig who is a cute black shaggy thing, but ended up petting a goat before I knew it. I talked to the keeper who happily told me the animal's name. I told her that I knew people who kept Nubian goats. I've also known people who raised pygmy goats. We chatted a bit and she explained that the male goats in this exhibit are all neutered. A neutered male goat is called a weather. She says that it would be great fun to own goats but like me she has no where to keep them. I guess after dealing all day with parents who are interested in minding their kids, meeting an adult with an interest in the animals was a nice change.

I made it both to the zoo and back without a hitch. MARTA's (the mass transit system in Atlanta) directions are lousy. They involve taking a direct bus. The bus makes all kinds of twists and turns. There is always a problem with finding the return stop and if one gets lost....one is very unlikely to know the neighborhood or be able to retrace one's steps. That is a recipe for getting very lost and a real recipe for disaster. I decided to take the MARTA train to the E2 station and walk southeast. I mapped this out on Mapquest and the walk went just as planned. It is a relatively easy set of directions. I could have done this one in my sleep.

It also brought me out of a sick torpor I had all the way to Atlanta. Maybe it was the very messed up hours I am keeping. Maybe it is Kramer's Nightmare Theater (playing nightly and sometimes twice nightly.). Have enoough frustration type nightmares and you are sure the waking world works that way. You also want to have the trouble free sleep you missed.

Well one thing I do EXCEEDINGLY WELL is find my way around. I have been severely lost (not a missed exit on a highway or an unplanned one way street. An exbooyfriend of mine said "You know where you are on the earth. You don't know where the roads go." Since I don't drive, little street snafus are common, but that is not really being lost. You backtrack one exit and if it is Atlanta follow the streets that run parallel to the high way that sits in the canyon. It really is below grade.) as in not knowing where the heck you are, three times since I was sixteen. That's three times out of hundreds and hundreds of forays. The last time was in Atlanta of all places and due to an outdated map. It as upsetting due to the fact that we had zero reference points. I think I ended up puzzling it out after becoming quite upset. The second time I got lost in San Antonio, Texas the night before a job interview, I tried to take a nonexistent shortcut back to my motel. This was dumb. Always backtrack. Do not use dead reckoning in a strange city. The first time I got lost was traveling with my mother when I was seventeen. We were doing the college tour thing and we had the wrong motel picked out on the map. Our motel was in Cambridge and we ended up in Boston. I remember sitting with the map on our lap, guiding my mother through Boston Commons and then back into the tunnels and then over the river into Cambridge. What a mess, but she entrusted me with the map. My mother also does not get lost. She says she does but only because my dad's record is better than hers. It's a question of ninty-fifth percentile versus off the test.

Neither of my parents fears going to new places. They rather like it. They assume that with either a map, driving directions, landmarks, etc.. they can find their way around. I also suspect they really enjoy doing this. I enjoyed it today. It is a pleasure that ranks up there with sex, food, computers, and following current events for me. It just does. There is no reason why reconnoitering should not be extremely pleasurable. Humans used to live as migrant hunter gatherers. Being able to follow trails on a journey and remember landmarks and use the sun and moon are all useful skills. Someone who enjoys exploring and can get back to camp is someone who is working at a big advantage.

I still don't know if directonal sense/skill is inherited or acquired. I suspect that my brother also does not get lost and likes finding his way around. On the other hand I remember being taught to find direction by the sun (and also by the moon). This is useful for dead reckoning and also as a backup to tell if you are going the right way or have missed an exit, gotten on the wrong road etc... My mother had me using road maps in high school. I don't drive but if I travel with my mother (or my boyfriend) I navigate. Both my parents use both landmarks and dead reckoning to navigate. They also navigate by the sun (and moon). The not getting lost is due to there being a ton of backup systems (A teenager with a road map was back up system number four). I should look at the literature on this.

I had dinner at the Farmer's Market tonight. People are slaves to the hot side of the buffet which has a lot of steamed (tasteless!) vegetables on it and meats as well. Not being a meat eater, and liking many of the cold delicacies, I was not going to wait for anything on the hot line. The cold side had no line. Well I ended up next to a family where the five year old oggled my plate. I explained that I had used a different side of the buffet. We were going to trade food I thought but she never asked and I was kind of relieved. I am glad the weather was warm enough to enjoy a cold dinner. I don't know why the cold side of the buffet had no lines. I suspect people want their meat and potatoes or whatever and forget the market is famous for its marinated treats. Their newest creation is shredded daikon salad and tomatoes with cranberries. I also had the gazpacho salad and humus and babaganouj. All good stuff. I also got to try the famous wild rice salad.

I came home with tons of food. There are excellent quality apples and oranges in the house. I also bought fingerling potatoes, a huge head of escarole for less than a dollar, parsnips, and tofu. I am making clear soup (Usually I make this with chard but escarole was on sale.) with parsnips, potatoes, carrots, and tofu. I'm debating weather to add enough potatoes or to serve the soup over rice. Tofu doesn't cloud clear soup. Clear soup (made without tofu) is a Christmas dinner dish. I have a huge repetoire of holiday vegetable and fruit dishes. I plan to put the recipe for the clear soup on my recipe board.

I also bought watercress. I have to get a mild accompaniment for it though I think I may have something already. Watercress is not often available in Columbus and it is a treat. Of course it is now 2:04am and I don't feel one bit like sleeping. I slept during the trip home in the shuttle. It was lovely dreamless sleep. I met a woman on the MARTA who said my nightmares were the work of Satan, bad food, or my meds. I'm not sure I buy the Satan argument since long ago my shrink told me that the frustration dream is an expression of unmet needs. I have a long list of those starting with lack of support during Georgia's illness and spending Christmas and New Year's alone. I will go to schul New Year's Eve and that will help. Maybe this trip today helped. I got one day of what felt like real vacation and though it cost a bit under a hundred dollars, it was cheaper than many vacations. I hope it makes me feel less cheated. It would be nice to have a nigh free from night mares. Kramer's Nightmare Theater is tiresome.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

Haldis set up The New Southern Hemisphere's voting page in the middle of the night. This is just taking care of business, not a vengance victory, but it is /was a sweet piece of business nonetheless. The page had a table coding glitch that I never found, but Haldis who is on break tore the html apart and replaced the table and now it seems to work fine. There is a new fighter on the team but he is rostered on hold.

He is rostered on hold because he is a student in Bogor, Indonesia which is near Djakarta. Hopefully none of his family was killed or injured by the recent and horrific tsunami. His email seems to be OK. So too is the competition owner who goes to school in Tamil-Nadu. The reason I believe that the fighter Rades is in Indonesia is that his page has a URL that ends in ac.id Some country codes are hard to fake. Some can be bought. The one for ac.id (academic in Indonesia) is in the unfakeable category. I hope that computer and information services in his school doesn't care about site fighting. Rades is probably the only site fighter in Indonesia. This is a safe bet, since Indonesia is a third world country.

Haldis returns to New Hampshire this weekend. By Tuesday the 4th she will be in class again. Ithamar, her boyfriend, does not return to school until near the end of the month. This is the time of year when keeping everyone's schedule gets a bit hairy. Avatars are fun but they take work and part of that work is just plain knowing where they are.

It has been nearly twenty-four hours since I did any channeling. I'll be writing log late tonight. Hugh, responded on Cbask-l which I am trying to kick into life so there is a good safe place for those with spirit contact. I guess I have the urge in me to do good works after all.

It feels very weird writing here at nearly four in the morning, but I fell asleep at 8pm or so and figured that was pretty much it. I am still planning to go to the zoo in Atlanta tomorrow. The only thing I'm missing is the money that such a trip will need. Because one does not go to Atlanta without bringing back food, I will also make a trip to the DeKalb Farmer's Market. I could take a bus to the zoo but it twists and turns and if I have trouble picking it up, I'm on my own to find my way back through what I suspect is not the best neighborhood.

I ought to be sleeping, but my circadian rhythm is gone. Tomorrow, my brain will feel fried. On the other hand, I'll feel like I've had a real vacation. Maybe that will make it easier to welcome 2005. I have a calendar with turtles on it. That is not as good as a peace calendar, but I missed out on the SOA rally because I had to work and Georgia was not well. What was I to do?

I am also still having the nightmares. The ones that bother me the most are what I used to call the "Haldis dream." These are a variation of that only instead of being nineteen I am now twenty-four. My mother is very nurturing and intervening. I find this a little unnerving. This was not the way it was. Actually my mother tried, but there was not much she could do for a clueless, scraggly, unhappy library school student. I thought a lot about Christmas 1986 today. It was a strange holiday. It was the first Christmas I got to spend an extended period of time at home in two years. Home was Westchester county. I bought myself two cassette tapes. I was not taping music at that point. I got my mother a gravy boat that was on sale at Penneys in Shopping Town and walked three miles over the hills to get there on a lovely warm December day. My mother gave me a copy of the Hand Maid's Tale that I had been dying to read all semester. Other than that, my mom and I sort of struggled to understand each other. I was a bit of a wreack and for some of the time home I was bored stiff. I ate a lot of bread, but that was a poverty habit.

I don't think my mom could have been supportive that Christmas. I was not sure I needed any particular kind of support. My mother was supportive right before I went to Syracuse for library school and around the time I graduated. I was even sick that weekend. A lot of my memories from that time are Syracuse memories, walking back from the Burnett Park Zoo in the snow, getting buttons put on my purple quilted coat because I could afford to have three buttons sewn on but could not afford a new coat, coming down with the stomach flu the first week of the new semester, and one of those very cold cold snaps where you have to minimize exposed flesh and wear pajamas under your clothes. The windchill is twenty below zero farenheit. I realized that I had forgotten that smetimes I was a very optimistic little grad student. It was kind of nice to remember that.

Actually where I feel the lack of support from my mom is where my two cats Georgia and Evander were concerned. Both got sick and mom did nothing to help. There are mothers who would rush to help a care giving daughter just like there are mothers who are happy to clean daughters' dirty apartments. My mother falls into neither of these two classifications. I do, by the way, know exactly what she could have helped me with with Georgia. She could have rented a car and run some serious errands with me. This is what Lou did when Evander was sick. Kitty nursing is not so bad. Errands are very supportive. Also Georgia and to a lesser extent Evander would have appreciated mom's company. Mom likes cats and cats like mom. Both Evander and Georgia were social cats.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I made sure I wrote for Ghostletters today. That is one great list. I am enjoying the Chit Chat Shack too. Now can you beat that name! Say it ten times fast. That is much cooler than Life Stories ever was. Face it, a lot of Brainstorms was just plain lame. The Silk Purse is ten times better.

My next challenge is the Creativity Conference. Those quilt squares have to come down because they contain copyrighted material. I am not sure if it is still under copyright, but I don't want to chance it. I probably should also obliterate my project of infinate and everlasting evil as well. I don't have the heart to wipe it out. I guess it stays for now, kind of grandfathered in though I'll never make use of it. Life is kind of funny that way.

Last year at this time I did not give a hoot about intellectual property. This year, I know that private property and free enterprise are antiBrainstormish values so I will uphold them. Besides I think respecting others' intellectual property by not using it leads one to be more creative and less lazy.

In other news, I guess one can say that it is amazing what a little extra web click can do. That is the story of my Play Pretend Brainstorms. I go to one of my conferences as a way to accessing all kinds of sites. When I go to blog. I remember to visit the Chit Chat Shack, not Blogger. When I go to do Ghostletters, I visit the Creativity Conference. Boy that needs a new nonlame name. You get the idea. My Play Pretend Brainstorms is so much a part of my life now, I am even revising it...and it's growing. Is that amazing or what! I guess it is great to have good news to report.

Haldis is also doing the boing boing test on her team at the Webleagues. She is looking for fighters whose web sites have disappeared or whose email is bouncing with Yahoogroups. She then sends them a personal email and asks them to either straighten out the problem, get in touch with her, or both. One email address no longer works. Its fighters does not have a web site any more either. Haldis lost a team member tonight. She is not happy about that. This also took a long time which explains why this blog is so late.

Finally, my vengance victory is thwarted. Empires of the Plain will not come out until January. I will just have to wait. Sometimes stuff like this happens.

I guess the big news tonight is that I might actually be getting a normal circadian cycle back. I'll find out when I wake up tomorrow morning. I wonder if the nightmares will be gone as well. Two in one night was getting to be a bit much.

I walked six miles downtown. On the way I stopped at Convalescent Care, and visited with Callie, the calico cat. Actually she is a plump torbie who needs her dry cat food (the only thing she likes) rationed. Callie curled up on the coat tail of my big blue down coat (I live in this ratty thing all winter). She crled, sniffed, and sniffed again. Then she started making unhappy, angry mews. Apparently she smelled Georgia's odor or maybe Hertzel's or maybe both. It felt weird. Callie would not budge and did not budge until a male employee eating either ice cream or yogurt appeared. Callie made a bee line for him. She begged for his food but would not eat it. Callie only likes dry cat food. There are cats like this.

Then I went on into downtown Columbus, and crossed the river which is called the Chattahoochee and found my way to the path that leads to the Alabama part of the River Walk. This is only two or three years old and is much prettier than the Georgia walk. The Georgia side of the river walk is on the easter bank of the river, so the sun is in your eyes. Also the Alabama side is much wilder with woods and sandy beach and rapids and water falls. It is really beautiful even with tacky Christmas lights that mercifully were off. The sun was golden on the river because it was going to set soon. I came up out of the walk at the Phenix City (Yes, that is how it is spelled) Amphitheater and then crossed the Oglethorpe Bridge from Alabama back in to Georgia.

I had supper at Larry's Giant Subs (Home of the Big one) and got to read Call it Sleep which makes me very sad. It is a very good book, but it is a searing description of child abuse. I went ot into the night and then I heard the voice. It was this gorgeous silky smooth tenor singing "Come Fill Me Again," an old John Denver tune. I stood there transfixed. Then something in me hurt. This is the way it always happens. I started crying my eyes out, really nasty convulsive sobs. I can only cry sometimes. I could not cry for six weeks with Georgia. Now hearing that sweet music, I was just a ball of tears. I went to find where the music came from and there was this guy in a padded electric wheel chair outside Judy Bugg's Books singing away to a kareoke set up that involved a lap top computer. Since he was out on the sidewalk he was all bundled in a poncho. I have no idea what he really looked like, but boy did he have a voice. He was a pro. It took a long time for me to stop crying. I wondered how I would walk home. I decided it did not matter. I could always put one foot in front of the other and I did.

It was easier climbing back up the hill six miles home than it was going down town. I just floated home in a head of busy thoughts, no black thoughts, just busy ones. Going downtown has a special significance for me. I went downtown to hear Phil Plait speak and to try to forget when Georgia had her seizuer, October 23, 2004. This was when Georgia's last illness began. I was downtown because we were taking a candidate out to dinner on the last night of Georgia's life, December 13, 2004. I was downtown today after cleaning the last of Georgia's turds and vomit (these won't be missed.) from the apartment. I guess this is all symbolic in some way yet I feel no closure. I'm glad I went downtown though.

Monday, December 27, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I can start this blog with a small but nonetheless significant VENGANCE VICTORY. My Pretend Brainstorms Life Stories Conference is now the Chit Chat Shack and it is copyright illustration free. Woo-hoo! I guess that is as good a way to start a blog as any. The Ledger-Enquirer did not print my letter. It did not print any letters by any one else in my schul either.

I've already done my multivoice boards for today and posted my spirit contact log, so I get an evening off tonight. I'm not sure what I am going to do with it. I am having trouble finding conversation for my channeling list. Good qality general spiritual conversation is hard to find. I end up running into glurge. I'm going to try some every day spirituality exercises. It would be great if I could find a book of them. Oh well, I am going book shopping today so maybe I'll run into something good.

Today's shopping should bring another VENGANCE VICTORY. I am going to buy a book reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. This means that I can enjoy cultural events without being part of an "intelligent conversation&quoot; group. I guess all this work at being happy and disciplined is really paying off.

I am desperately trying to recover and salvage this ruined holiday. For starters, I have a whole week that kind of stretches out empty. That is turning out to be more of a challenge than Christmas. I got through Christmas by sleeping. A person, however, can only sleep so much.

I now have a whole week by myself. Well, I keep promising myself another trip to Atlanta. I want to see the zoo. I just found out it costs $17.00 for admission. Well this is the South and nothing down here is subsidized. I realized last night that I'm just not ready to leave Hertzel, my one remaining kitty alone, even with a sitter and I'm not sure I could engage a sitter right now so I'm stuck. Remember this would be travel for pleasure and not an emergency.

I just figured out how to make it to the zoo on public transporation. It means taking a MARTA bus. MARTA buses always confuse me. Alternatively, I can just start walking south from the E2 station. If the weather is nice, a walk through Atlanta is fun, though the zoo is not in the best neighborhood.

I also looked to see when the Civic Center is open here in Columbus for ice skating. They are open.

Tuesday 12/28 1-2:30pm
Tuesday 12/28 3-4:30pm

Wednesday 12/29 12-1:30pm
Wednesday 12/29 2-3:30pm

Thursday 12/30 12-1:30pm
Thursday 12/30 2-3:30pm

It costs $5.00 for an hour and a half of ice skating. Why is everything so expensive? *sigh* It is a good thing my dad gave me cash for Christmas.

Yesterday, I tried to walk to the river and made it only as far as the Temple of Isis. That is OK. I met with Norma and we made up. I like Norma and Cassonya because they live their faith. I detest the way Cassonya snubbed one of the spirits I worked with. Well, that is another story.

Cassonya and Norma rent to men who would otherwise be homeless. They mother them, albeit with a bit of tough love, and they keep them in a safe decent place where they are treated more or less like adults. They get no subsidies for their faith based charity which in my opinion is nothing to sneeze at.

I wish my schul did something as gritty and hands on as Cassonya and Norma. Anyway, I got no advice for jump starting Cbask-l. I resorted to rip tear shredding some New Age glurge today but while that is more than log, that really is no fun.

Oh well, I'm off to buy a calendar for 2005 (No one gave me one), to find a decent granny gown since one of my nighties is torn, and to see if I can locate a book called Empires of the Plain that was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and hope I can get it for less than list price. I also want to scavange in Rich's Trim-a-tree shop. Yeah, I guess it's time for some after Christmas consumerism.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

The following is presented in accordance with the Fair Use section of the US Copyright Act. The Ledger-Enquirer will zap free access to these letters in three days. Here on this blog they will be preserved a bit longer, and unfortunately, they need to be preserved. These letters appeared in the Columbus [Georgia] Ledger-Enquirer December 22, 2004. Please read them.

Not the same God

I would like to reference the letter titled "Hatred and Ignorance."

The writer stated that the God of Christians, Muslims and Jews is the same, that we all just go by a different name depending on what religion we are. And he said that the Koran was just a continuation of the Bible.

It's apparent that he has not read the Koran. It states in chapter 23 of the Koran (called the Believers), verse 91 that "No son did Allah beget."

In the Bible, God acknowledges his Son Jesus in Matthew 3:16 and 17. This is when Jesus was baptized and God said, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."

So if you compare the Bible, where God acknowledges a son, to the Koran, where Allah has no son, how can you say that we are all serving the same God? How can one God have a son and the other not and still be the same God?

That alone tells me that they are not the same God.


Merry Christmas

Season's Greetings. Season's Greetings? Just what season are we greeting? Winter?

The protracted and concerted effort to remove Christ from the holiday is meeting with great success. In the professional and oddly enough the private sector, Season's Greetings cards are sent instead of Christmas cards. Customers are greeted by stores and businesses with Season's Greetings. Why?

In the politically correct world we live in we wouldn't want to offend anyone by wishing them a Merry Christmas. I don't celebrate Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanza or any other pagan holiday festival. I never will. I respect the right of individuals to worship as they please. Yet I have no need to observe other religious holidays and refuse to give them equal billing with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

So, the only cards mailed from my house will be Christmas cards. They go well with my Christmas tree, Christmas presents and federally observed Christmas holiday.

Maybe I will be fortunate enough to get a Christmas bonus. If I do I will thank Christ. If I don't, I will still thank Christ. Should I ever decide to greet a season, it won't be winter. Season's Greetings... what a joke.

BILL DODGE, Columbus

Happy holidays' is rude

As a member of the majority, I vehemently resent the usage of the term "Happy Holidays" by the U.S. Postal Service.

What does "Happy Holidays" commemorate? The birth of Christ. Therefore, to me, it has to be Merry Christmas.

My forefathers in the Revolutionary War no doubt used this greeting -- same as the ones in the War of 1812, the ones in 1861-65 and the ones in 1941-45.

If the greeting is so offensive to the minority, which contributed little or nothing to our ability to be free to say "Merry Christmas," how about saying nothing?


So it has happened and how do you respond?

To the Editors:

After flexing its muscles in the November Election and defending marriage against lesbians and gays, the religious right has chosen an easy battle, defending Christmas. No matter what any of us believe, Christmas is a day off and often part of a series of days off, all of which contribute to its being a warm family holiday. Children get presents. Houses sport lighted and festive decorations in red and green, and family and friends gather against the cold days in the bowels of December in the hopes that more daylight will return soon. If one attacks Christmas one is attacking an ancient festival of good times. The epithet "politically correct" is not so far from "bah humbug."

But this is the United States. We have separation of church and state and this means that religion and belief are private personal matters. They are not the business of the government and by extension not the business of one's employer or the big stores at the mall. We are also a diverse nation. In addition to Jews and Moslems, for whom Christmas is simply a day of vacation, there are nonbelievers of all stripes, and even Christians for whom Christmas does not fall until January 7th.

Christians who feel strongly about the religious aspect of December 25th may be a majority, but they are not everyone. It would be nice if a militant minority among them did not make acknowledging Christmas a public test of faith by asking others to use it in greeting them, and it would be equally nice if they respected American cultural norms of religious privacy by not objecting to others using the neutral "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays."

Seasons Greetings,
Eileen H. Kramer
Columbus, Georgia

by Eileen Kramer

I had some trouble getting a log out. The computer did not boot up properly. I could not save the first run of the log and I had to boot up again. Everything except the A-drive (the latest casualty) is working fine now, or as fine as this ancient machine works.

It was a long log. I still haven't gotten to work on my Play Pretend Brainstorms. It needs several important revisions as well as a graphic one. I don't think I prepared all the graphics for two of the pages. The Chit Chat Shack and the link moving/adding will get priority. It is a sign of health that my Pretend Brainstorms needs these revisions to keep it useful. It is being used enough to keep it going and alive.

I am loving my Wall Street Journal. I may write to Jethro to tell him about it. It is my favorite Christmas present. I read the piece my rabbi quoted as an example of antiSemitism. It is an article by the late Vermont Royster which said that Paul brought freedom through Christianity and that Christianity stood for freedom against the Romans and that in this day and age we must look out for the new Ceasars who want to take that freedom away. The editorial was first printed in 1949. Sad thing was that the Roman Empire co-opted Christianity. The world has no shortage of new Casears and that given that most of the United States is Christian the article is not insulting to Jews and is in fact inspirational. This shows especially when one reads the articles on the rest of the editorial page. By the way saying Jesus or Christianity is great and not mentioning Jews or persecutions of Jews is not antiSemitic. Saying bad things about Jews is. I also don't think criticizing US policy towards Israel is antiSemitic. Since when was it antiSemitic to criticize the government. Jews are a small minority. We get forgotten aboout. We get marginalized. Being forgotten is not the same thing as being hated.

Now there was an antiSemitic letter in the Ledger-Enquirer. It said Jews had contributed nothing to America and World Peace and that Channaukah was a pagan holiday. Er...uh... this is the real thing. It had people in my schul very upset last night and rightly so. One of them is going to write a letter to the paper in response. I may do so as well but probably not.

My Wall Street Journal is fun to read because they have articles on work (It's called Career Journal) and a travel section that is both fun and frustrating. They reviwed a fancy hotel in South Beach. The odd thing is that these folks could have stayed at a nice motel on the beach for one quarter of the price, carried their own bags, and been in absolutely lovely surroundings. By the way they complained through the whole interview. I bet the Wall Street Journal could do quite well with a budget travel section. A lot of people with good values but who aren't rich read the Wall Street Journal. Also the Wall Street Journal is very much pro human rights, something I find quite agreeable. Who thought an antiBrainstormish education could be so much fun.

There is a book review in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal that looks like it is for a fun book. It would be a nonBrainstorms induced cultural event if I went and bought the book. That would be another Vengance Victory if I read the book too.

This log is going up awfully late, but everything is late tonight because I hibernated this Christmas. I guess I coped with Christmas alone by sleeping with it. I blew off schul to sleep and after the big Christmas meal where I ate myself sick, I went to sleep to relieve the stomach cramps. I woke up four hours later. Now I have no circadian rhythms left.

I did go for a three to four mile walk before fixing the big Christmas dinner. Actually I made most of the food last night. Here is the menu:

Hors d'ouerves -- sasame turds, fancy olives, marinated roast zucchini (all imported from Atlanta last weekend!)
Scalloped Spahgetti Squash
Pasta ears with Chipotl TVP sauce
Dessert -- Golden fruit bars (oatmeal apricot raisin cookies!)

It was just too much food. My eyes can get bigger than my stomach. Now the leftovers leave me turning green every time I open up the fridge. I know this will pass. I will be eating the leftovers all week long. I am thinking of another Atlanta trip on Thursday. Why not let the fun continue a bit longer...a bit more holiday spirit.

I don't know if I'll go to the nursing home tomorrow. It is after three am now and I'll probably hibernate some more. If I don't go to the nursing home, maybe a long walk to the river is in order. A trip to the Columbus Museum might also be good, but it is rather dinky. Yes, I was thinking of going to Zoo Atlanta. There is also supposed to be ice skating at the Civic Center. I just have to find my skates and find out when they are holding it. They are not holiding it the afternoon of the 26th so that is out. It will be good tomorrow when everything is open again, albeit on a Sunday schedule. I am psyched to go out and do something with the day. I have a whole week to do something with, and oh yeah....I need to work on my vita. Somehow I think that is better put off until Monday or so. I have the materials. I just need to do some fairly simple edits and then the hunt begins.

Friday, December 24, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

Without any body's help, I bumped into Delphi Forums. Stuff you bump in to via work and this was via work is not stuff you are seeking out. I haven't had time to read my Wall Street Journal today. That is sad. There is supposed to be a nastily proChristian editorial today. Well the right has never been the best place for Jews to be politically. It's kind of payback time.

I still find the Wall Street Journal fascinating. They even have book reviews. I can find my way to culture that is not leftwing approved and which is still intelligent. That is a big plus. It is also fun to read something that is aimed at rich people. Maybe that is why the rabbi likes the Wall Street Journal.

It is great to see people acting unashamed about wealth. It is so unBrainstormish! I posted some more to SuperPackin' PSP. I may only post to the show off board and try some of their tutorials. I really would like to know how to do more t hings with PSP. Even though learning new techniques tends to make for big heavy graphics at least until I assimilate the new technique.

I was able to do both my play pretend boards tonight. They are both archived twice. I am going to put the Etiquette Hell Delphi group into the Chit Chat Shack. It is full of LS type stuff and it moves regularly. That is one more job to do when I clean up my very active Play Pretend Brainstorms. Sorry, I don't feel like links tonight

And yes, it is time for a MASTHEAD. It was worth it to get kicked out of Braistorms. It is worth it to be who I am, do what I do, and say what I said though I was so polite it hurt until the end. That was the part that sucked. I should have bolted out of there sooner. Oh well, my Play Pretend Brainstorms is the best thing that ever happened to me.

I cooked like a fiend tonight and I want to cook more tomorrow. I made golden fruit bars (oatmeal cookies for raisin fanatics). I think I cut them up too late but I always do. I fell asleep, and almost did not make it to schul. I woke up though and rushed my guts out of the house in record time. I made it to schul. We had eleven people at the service including the rabbi who worked hard. We talked with resurgent respectable anti-semitism. This is being fomented by some cocky a**holes on the right. Well, down here among conservtive Jews it feels like a slap in the face.

I'm not sure it has anything to do with the marginalization of Jews that happens here in the South because we are a very small minority. I am also not sure that some of the anti-semitic comments made in prominent places by the Christian right will resonate. Are they just plain going too far?

Now seriously, they came for the Moslems three years ago and did the Jews speak up when intellectuals and pundits said evil things about Moslems, both here and abroad. Usually the American Moslems (if they had been born here) were OK as in some of my best friends are.... but Islam got a lot of bad press. Well now the worm turns. Those who dislike Moslems will sooner or later dislike Jews and after that Blacks and who knows... Prejudice bleeps big time and prejudice by those in power who have a veneer of respectability is the worst.

Anyway, it was a depressing service. Oddly enough I am coming back for more tomorrow. If any of you notice, I am not feeling so depressed about Christmas as I was. I don't have to be alone for this holiday. My schul is my family and as families go it is better than some, probably better than my real family. I may help make the minyan or at least be one more body.

By the way with all the campaigning against syncretism, we had no children at tonight's service and very few grownup people. Now it is one thing to tell people what to do in their own home, especially the dedicated few who show up at services regularly. It would be quite another thing if the rabbi started a campaign to get all of us to do more, for example, show up at schul. It would mean stopping pretending that everyone was religious or shomer shabbos. Getting more people to show up and reminding people to bring their children would be a big start and this was a holiday that is falling Friday/Saturday, making the synagogue part of your holiday plans is a big step in the right direction for a lot of the congregation. I am going back tomorrow because I have a place to go. I am thrilled about that. For real.

I am listening to my Christmas carol CDs. I did a poor job cleaning up the apartment. This afternoon they had Christmas stories on the radio. I thought they would be awful but the one called the Christmas Letter about a truce during World War I had me with tears streaming down my face, sobbing convulsively. It felt good. I could not cry about losing Georgia but at certain safe moments and in safe places, I can cry my eyeballs out. It was lucky I didn't cry in schul. I think I did all my crying at home today.

I have yet to get going with the job hunt. I think I am going to let it wait a few days. Since I have not looked at the Chronicle in ages, the ads will be fresh because the Chronicle is on vacation and plentiful as they always are with a first round. In many ways the first round of vita packets is the easiest. The job hunt gets stale real fast when you are employed. I have some new stuff to do at work when I get back so I won't be bored. It is not glamorous but it is useful. There are advantages to coding static html and liking it. Columbus State is home of the hand flip. Give me your Word document and I'll hand code it into html.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

This ought to be a great night for an A-1 VENGANCE VICTORY, but there's an added and nasty complication. Yahoogroups is effectively down. I always said the day would come. Well it is here. I did nothing about it, and I'm as stranded as any other you know what with my thumb stuck you know where. I looked at the full headers of the last Yahoogroups message I got. It happened to be a spirit contact log from Cbask-l. Well, it is marked 10:20pm. It was mailed about 6pm or maybe a bit earlier. I checked the headeres and somewhere in the bowels of Yahoogroups' servers sits a four hour delay.

I have a feeling I know what is causing this. It comes from working with my Brother in Spirit, YBGeorge and his mailbox stuffing buddies. I've managed to spare myself from the deluge of indifferent and oh so pretty Christmas graphics. I love Christmas but not a deluge of it. This is a difficult Christmas due to losing Georgia. I listen to Christmas music in the kitchen. The tree is up in the living room. I finally cleaned off the dining room table and took the presents my mom sent me out of their box. I am fixing a big Christmas dinner because I deserve one even if I am alone. A mega pile of somewhat indifferent, many copyrighted (Hey support intellectual property!), graphics pouring into my inbox is another story.

Bandwidth hogs do not listen to reason and tonight, the last night before Christms Eve they are out spreading Christmas cheer and overflowing inboxes. The fact that many email hosts are offering larger inboxes rather than encouraging responsible email habits means that the ether is flooded with Qicktime movies of the kids, the latest Garfield cartoons, html formatted email with ads for malware and graphics laid on with the proverbial trowel. The poem that would be fine plain text is now presented as animated flash. Well, guess what! Bandwidth is still finite and Yahoogroups is heaving under the strain. If I did not have groups there that I cared about I'd say that justice was being served in a weird way.

And yes ZOID should have gotten out of Yahoogroups long ago. I saw this coming when I dealt with Topica. This is how you kill a free service degrade it at its core.

And I said I had a vengance victory tonight. Well I do. I wanted two hundred and fifty dollars worth of MP3's from Itunes. Remember I feel the recording industry desrves to get paid for making music accessible to the masses. Sorry, if that is an unpopular view, but I am pro private property and free enterprise. Well, as part of the deal I had to accept one of Free Itunes offers and I chose a thirteen week subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Well it turns out I have to get five other people to sign up for Free Itunes to get my certificate and I bailed. It is one thing for me to want to support the commercial side of the net with my time and money. I know others out there do not share my newfound zeal. Get kicked out of a community that believes information wants to be free or some such claptrap and you'll change sides and your priorities will change. Yes, this is part of my fight against Brainstorms and its ideals.

Well there I was stuck with this sixty dollar subscription to the Wall Street Journal. It was not such a bad deal when I thought it might lead to 500 Neopoints plus two hundred and fifty dollars worth of MP3's, but by itself it was a bit steep. I called the Wall Street Journal to cancel the subscription and was told I would have to wait several days. Then Georgia, my cat, died and I forgot about the subscription. Yesterday, you can guess what showed up on my porch.

I brought it inside. I remembered that I had enjoyed reading the Wall Street Journal the summer of 1985 when I lived in Zeta Psi. That was half a life time ago but I felt nostalgic. I opened the newspaper and decided to enjoy. What a surprise, I really liked what I was reading. It was every bit as interesting as I remembered and there was a plus, a very big plus. Most of my email lists are leftist which unfortunately means Brainstormish. I've sort of avoided the National Review though I like Diary of a Misanthrope but the Wall Street Journal and Forbes are another matter. Most people unlike my mom who loves anything having to do with money (and I don't mean spending it. She likes financial machinations.) find economic news eye glazing so the Wall Street Journal is full of general interest articles of all sorts. It is also to the right of center but without the National Review's political axe to grind.

I don't get email like this. Most of my online groups and web pages I visit are way to the left of center. I vowed I would not change my politics or religion to fight Brainstorms but my economic views have changed quite a bit. I also know there are intelligent people out there who do not share Brainstormish political and social ideals. Well where does one find their writing and what they read? It's getting delivered every day. Considering I just got a Christmas present from my dad, I think I can afford sixty dollars to have a fun newspaper delivered to my house that teaches me what the thinking folks on the nonBrainstormish side of politics and economic issues really think. I'm going to get an education and it is going to be like a breath of fresh air. By the way, Forbes is also a fun magazine to read. I'm going to read it when I'm on the desk. I've got a first class vengance victory. Now I just wish Yahoogroups was working.

I think I am a total food freak. I roasted a spahgetti squash tonight. I am going to make scalloped spahgetti squash as part of Christmas dinner. I made this Thanksgiving last year and liked it a lot. Then I got to wondering, how many people would serve spahgetti squash at Christmas. It is a relatively new vegetable. It's only been in markets since I was in college. People often don't know how to cook it. I'm a fan of all types of squash.

The scalloped spahgetti squash is a dish I developed from scalloped noodle recipes and from eating enough speahgetti squash to know it tastes good lightly seasoned and buttered. It does not taste like spahgetti. It has a mild sweet taste and an interesting stringy texture and a nastily hard skin. Also getting a big slice of squash at a holiday dinner is not fun, so it needs to come out of its shell. Other hard squash can be made in smaller pieces but not really spahgetti squash. I think the flesh would come loose. Besides it needs to be mashed up with butter or margarine anyway. Hence this dish was born. I have yet to make up a bucket of fresh bread crumbs. I dug out the blender but it was scuzzy. I washed out the pitcher. I can't find all the top but think I can fudge it. The blender is my bread crumb machine. I also use it to make salsa and sun dried tomato dressing and refried beans.

In nonfood news I finished up the web tutorial and sent all nine pages of it to Diana, the systems librarian. Yay! We talked cats. She is more relaxed and friendly because the holidays are coming up. She of course has a friend to spend them with. Me, I'm stuck here by myself.

I met the rabbi in the mall last night. This is the rabbi who writes those godawful cheapshot sermons. The funny thing is I like him as a person and even feel sorry for him. He asked when I was going to make the next minyan. Something tells me I have somewhere to go this weekend when everything is closed. I'm going to drag my sorry tail out of bed and down to the schul.

Anyway, I not only like this rabbi as a person I feel sorry for him. No I don't do it out of pity. I empathize. He gave a party at his home on Sukkot and only four or five people attended. People couldn't find the time to pay this man a social call. Also the rabbi is not rich. He is an ordinary working stiff like I am. The people who pay his salary, the big mucky mucks on the schul board are rich. That means he has to work hard to please them. He has to appear wealthy. He has the advantage of good looks and incredible charisma. Such charisma is a gift from God. I got to watch him in Dillard's joking with the sales help. I heard his gentle voice. I've seen him on the pulpit in his European style tailored suits that he wears well the way that smaller men with trim bodies can wear suits. This rabbi was excedingly handsome as a younger man. He is nearly eighty years old now and I can still see the broad shoulders and slim hips. He was and is musical. He has a great speaking voice. He has a confidence of manner.

Yet this man who makes about what I make for a living (maybe a bit more a bit less) has to use this talent to put the wealthy at their ease by appearing to be one of them. Now I ask what kind of a use of great gifts is this? Well, I think I got the answer in Dillard's last night. The rabbi and rebbitzen were standing at the perfume and cosmetic counter getting hustled. A sales rep was trying to sell them a sixty to seventy dollar gift set. I watched and felt a sick horror in the pit of my stomach. Maybe they enjoyed the attention. Maybe they were too polite. Maybe they were just playing the sales reps along and never bought anything, but somehow I don't think so. I took the rabbi aside and told him that there was good quality gifts at Bath and Body Works and for much better prices and they let you smell all the stuff. The rabbi listened but did not interfere. I left he and the rebbitzen to their fate.

I suspect she shelled out sixty dollars for that gift set. Maybe after all those years imitating the wealthy, one takes on the habits as well as the outward coloration of one's benefactors. I know the rebbitzen does not cook (shock!!!!! horror!!!! I know very few old Jewish ladies who are not very proud of their cooking.) and they have expensive tastes in food which is part of being middle class and Jewish. Somewhere there is a moral about revenge taken on earth, a kind of karmic tale of gifts squandered and a price paid. The rabbi is still working in his seventies because he either can't see himself retired or can't afford to retire. You can figure out the rest, but imitating the rich in a more than superficial way costs money. Could the rabbi be stuck in his old age maintaing the lifestyle to which he has grown accustomed? I don't feel sorry for him due to what I saw at Dillards. I feel sorry for him due to the empty schul he may face the next two weekends. I am going to make a special effort to attend services.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I am savoringly reading my way backwards through Ghostletters. Ghostletters has displaced Neopets. I don't know what I'll find if I log on, starving pets. I can still pick up where I left off any time, so I guess that is good. I nearly washed out with channeling today and that expletive deleted big time.

Tomorrow I get to do some graphics in the Theme-O-Rama for SuperPackin'PSP. Is that a great group name or what? I have already learned about masks and drop shadows. I learned a bit about pixellation, but didn't care about the technique. I came up with some surprising images. I may put them at the bottom of this entry.

I guess I have finally replaced Brainstorms and it is through the groups hooked up through my Pretend Brainstorms that it has happened. It is strange that it took a tragedy in my life to get me to reshuffle the groups again and change my conference participation and really get the whole business working, but it is as if someone has opened up a door.

I still plan to work on my Play Pretend Brainstorms all next week. There is a new interactive story. My favoite Chow Hound board has shifted and the two community web boards ought to come inside. Life Stories, soon to be known as the Chit Chat Shack, needs another revision. Static web pages and dirty guestbooks are poor substitutes for busy life story stalls, but the RAOK board and LOTH board work nicely as do a few of the blogs. The Third Rail does much better than other people's web pages as far as providing daily action just as Run Amuck works with the avatars.

Oh and I came out on Alaoif. It wasn't much of a coming out about the avatars but there was no need to go into great detail. I guess that is a vengance victory of sorts...small letters for now.

I am currently not receiving mail from YB George, my Brother in Spirit's lists. I could handle the bandwidth but I can't psychologically handle the indiscriminate and motley pile of Christmas greetings and graphics that would come pouring into my inner circle and inbox. I am listening to Christmas carrolls and cooking something fancy for the holiday. I did not do office gifts this year, not enough energy. I also don't have enough energy to wade through a pile of largely indifferent Christmas glop that is supposed to be funny, uplifting, etc.. and which falls wide of the mark. I think I need to find a better Joe replacement than YB George. That is still a vengance victory in the making.

It is late. I'm logged and I've written to two of my lists. That feels good in a way. The celery root, barley, green pea soup tasted much better after sitting a day. I have decided I'm in hibernation this time of year. I love my power naps and always hate waking up in a cold house that is not cold (just drafty) early in the morning to go to work. The thing is 8am is not early.

This lethargy surprises me, but it is often a substitute for tears. Hertzel is a great help but it is still the sleepy time of the year. Hertzel is right now sleeping in the most secret den at the back of the computer room closet. The bed where he curls into his ball is an old bed spread that must still smell of Georgia but also Evander and Sting. I wonder what he thinks of all those feline smells. They must be a comfort to him since he is a fairly social kitty.

I started a big project at work. It is a tutorial on how to search the web and how to evaluate web pages. Of course no one should be searching for web pages when they need recent scholarly articles to do papers. Remember, I work in an academic library. Web pages and scholarly articles are not the same thing. With the exception of a few free full text authoritative journals, copyright keeps scholarly journal aritcles from showing up on the open net. If you want those articles you need to search your library's databases or Ingenta Connect and then do interlibrary loan or check your periodicals collection. Web pages simply do not cut it. The fact that there are at least citations available throgh the web changes things. Also a lot of web searches are for news headlines, directory information, very old material, and multimedia. All this means that the web searching tutorial has to grow by nearly an order of magnitude, and I'm left with a big researching, reading, and writing task.

It looks like Lou will not be coming for Christmas. His brother needs some medical work done. His brother could go for this work on his own, but Lou is a worry wort of the first order and there is no way I am going to be able to pry him out of Utica. I am not sure I can get someone to watch Hertzel so I can go up north and visit. A capture is out of the question.

I'm not sure I'll clean up the apartment for Christmas or make ears with TVP sauce. I may still have the soup left. I'll probably make bok-slaw (the blue cheese cole slaw is going fast), scalloped spahgetti squash (why not) and oatmeal raisin apricot bars (I had these for my birthday and liked them.) At least somehow I still like to cook, and I'm determined to have some kind of Christmas. Yes, the word salvage comes to mind but so what.

Of course one relatively pleasant holiday ritual awaits, throwing out most of the office gifts unopened. These are distributed by colleagues who did not receive a gift from me. (This is expensive, time consuming, and if we had some rational gift giving ritual such as a grab bag it would be much better but we don't.) The gifts are the same for everybody. Many are edibles I don't eat. Some are ornaments. Some are chatckas. All but two or three of them are going in the trash. The trashing ritual will happen on Christmas Eve. It feels like liberation. One Christmas I'd like to be a real Scrooge in reverse and hang a sign on my door that says NO GIFTS. I haven't reached that point yet, but every holiday it sure feels tempting.

One thing I missed this holiday season was the group out to lunch session. Sometimes I don't go because we don't pick a good restaurant. There are some dawgs of restaurants in Columbus. Just trust me. I miss eating with the group. Some time next week if the weather gets decent, I may go out for a sub. For some reason I love going out for subs. I do that once every week or so. A sub, chips, and soda is such a great meal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I've been three days without Neopets. I just don't want to go bad. I feel bad for the pets, but I feel worse for me. Playing the same games over and over again is like punching a time clock. In other words, it is no fun.

I have more of the images I need to makeover my Play Pretend Brainstorms. The fewer copyrighted images the better. As for Super Packin' PSP I don't think I share the right aesthetic to fit in and it's a matter of time. The substitute may be Cafe Utne. I'll be coming full circle. I am not sure I want anything to do with "intelligent conversation" communities. A better MSN group might be in order.

All the pachua work ground to a hault. I guess that is the price of writing about it. I wish I were still doing more of it, but the spirit talk has taken another direction and I need to let my newbie friend lead.

I took a short survey with Eversave today. I kind of enjoy doing surveys online and supporting Eversave which supports through advertising various places where us low social capital (Brainstorms slang) folks hang out is a good idea. It is work against the ideals of Brainstorms and for the ideals of the commercial net. I support business and free enterprise. I am happy to give a consumer company my time. I guess people opt in to commercial stuff for all sorts of reasons. I was hoping that a certain company would send me its starter packet but they haven't yet. I ought to sign up with Greenfield online. I guess one of the reasons spam does not irritate me as much as it does other people is that I am for the commercial side of the net. I like the opinion stuff any way.

Hertzel is sleeping in a ball in my big bed in the other room. The food is untouched and so is the water. He was eating earlier, but now it is time for sleep. It does not matter that mommy is up and going out to eat every two hours or every few minutes in little passes is not Hertzel's thing. It was Georgia's thing, and the empty food area and the silent sleeper remind me that there used to be a second cat in the house with very different habits. I miss Georgia.

I decorated the Grapevine for Libr1105 today. It finally has grapes on it. These are my grapes! But you can share. This was a lot of picky html work. I don't mind.

I started working on a web page evaluation tutorial and felt overwhelmed. The thing I am revising is so outdated and simplistic it is useless. Tonight after I got home I realized all the things wrong with it. The traditional division between the academic databases and the World Wide Web is fading. It's been fading for a long time. Also the kinds of information available on the web has diversified. There are legal issues, namely peer to peer downloading that mess all this up. In other words I am facing a nice complex mess. The more I look, the more complex it gets.

I went grocery shopping tonight. Because I went to Atlanta on the shuttle and had limited carrying capacity, there were not a lot of things I could buy in Atlanta. I bought the more common kinds of vegetables including those for Christmas dinner (if I eat through what I have now) at Publix. I got the last good spahgetti squash. Yay! I also got a decent bok-choi. No one eats Asiatic vegetables at Christmas or Thanksgiving except perhaps Asians and this poor displaced northerner who fell in love with bok-choi salad.

I noticed something weird when I was in the Farmer's Market in Atlanta on Saturday. Parents inevitably try to get their kids to eat steamed brocoli. It is so good for them after all. There is only one problem, it is one of the least tastey vegetables around. It is not awful. I ate it. I even liked it, but if one wants a child to eat crucifers, health salad (also served in the buffet) and made with cabbage or roast winter vegetables which include rutabega or roast peppers or even bok slaw are all tastier. I'd go with the health salad. I liked salads with dressing. I never remember not liking them or learning to eat them. I think I just got fed them as part of eating people food. Health salad was always some what of a delicacy and would have outranked steamed brocoli. Do most kids come into the world abhoring salad dressing or is it not fashionable to feed dressed foods to small children? One thing I never seen parents giving their small children is the black bean salad which is black beans in Italian dressing.

The fun thing about the Farmer's Market buffet is there are always new salads and vegetables so you have to try them. Oh well...enough talk about food. I made celery root green pea and barley soup tonight. I think it came out a bit too spicey. Hopefully a night sitting in the fridge will help it get mild. I also made blue cheese slaw with that very good Mont Chevre blue cheese. Yes, it is made with goat's milk which is why it tastes different. Welcome to the elite, we eat fancy bleu cheese in our cole slaw. A week without slaw or squash is like a week without sunshine. Slaw is holy food.

Monday, December 20, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I'm having some trouble with Super Packin' PSP. I'm not sure whose fault it is and it was the trouble I had before. I just can't see doing technique for technique's sake and the more I do with graphics the less technique I use. I draw my own for starters and then I just want to scrape them and add letters. If I do use a lot of technique it is to make interesting shapes and textured shapes. Air brushed and well backgrounded images by other people don't interest me in the least.

I'm not going to fit in, but I like being among people who at least have an appreciation of craft. I guess that is a good thing. It is a matter of knowing what to say. I despise tutorials. I'd rather just explore when I have the need to make something.

My two web boards are doing well. Multi-voice is easier for me to do than straight blogging. It is good to see them thriving again. I have not played Neopets for two days and I might as well have been away forever. It is just logging, blogging, boarding and writing to my lists feels so much more useful. It is sad that it took two deaths to get me back on to the straight and narrow. It is awful to sell your soul just because a place is active. I did that once and you think I would learn.

Maybe tomorrow after I decorate the Libr1105 web board I'll be ready to deal with those images. I thought I would make some tags this weekend but never got around to it. I got to write some good spirit contact log thoough. I have to figure out a way to engage others on CBASK-L. I meant to go to the chat on Spiritopics tonight, but was asleep when it happened. I'm not sure how to begin. The pachua work throws me off though now that has dried up. Bert is a pretty good communicator so I'm learning a lot of new stuff. The way to turn that into more general conversation eludes me. I could start with what I am seeing. Most of the other side that I see looks urban or suburban. The "better" areas tend to be urban which has to do with lagging sensibliities rather than leading ones. Looks tend to be important. I'm a visual creature. Yadda yadda yadda.

I know that won't be much. I can do the afterlife in literature riff. If a metaphor is too good not to be used it gets used usually with some lovely irony on top. The fact that the idea is so good it gets used everywhere makes life decidedly weird for most educated folks after they die. The serious talk about mobility, memory, etc... is groping for a language that irony has not polluted. That is my take. I've never said this to any of the spirits I've worked with.

It may well be that they find the whole irony thing as pleasant as living people even though they are now the butt of the joke. Who knows...On a completely other topic my pretend Brainstorms has been overcome by events. This happened while Georgia was sick. My favorite Chowhound board moved, and the two community boards are now going concerns enough that they deserve to be inside conferences and not out at the front page. Also, since I respect copyright, it is time to dump all the copyrighted graphics that are used on the Play Pretend Brainstorms site. Don't worry, I did not steal these graphics from you. I know where I got most of them and the owners will likely never complain. It is just the principal of the thing. Walking off with someone else' graphics from a commercial site is Brainstormish and given that I respect business and free enterprise and all things commercial I need to start using my own graphics. I have some drawn already. I've also been thinking. There is no reason to use Brainstorms' names for my conferences. Life Stories is going to be renamed Chit Chat Shack for example. Well, I got none of this work done this weekend, but it is going to happen...someday.

I slept all day so I am not into sleeping at night. I made myself go for a walk to at least say I'd been out of the house. I guess this had to happen some time so I'm not upset it happened once. I go to work tomorrow. It will be one week since we had an interview candidate and tomorrow night will be the one week anniversary of Georgia's death watch. I'll sleep all that night.

I am still looking around for Georgia. Hertzel and I will be snuggling in bed and I'll remember there's a second cat in the house and then ralize...whoops...she's gone. Hertzel just about melts with me in bed. I fall asleep with him in my arms snuggled against my side. I He has his paws over my right shoulder and I have my right arm curled around his back. He purrs through all of this. I sometimes vaguely remember him head butting his way under the covers. If you have never had a really friendly cat you won't understand any of this. It just happens. It feels good.

Needless to say I missed the nursing home by sleeping in. I have wanted to sleep and sleep for the longest time and I think after being away so long and Suzette being gone, I should call first. I guess that is on my list of things to do. I am going to somehow seem motivated this week at work. I actually have work to do so really being motivated would be a big plus.

I made greens and potatoes today and they came out a bit soupy. I ate them with seasame turds which are garlic sesame sticks. Yes, this was sinful. I also had two blood oranges. Maybe the vitamin C will do something for my incipient cold. My hands are itchy with eczema. I'm glad I'm not doing much for Christmas, no office gifts, no cards. I have yet to open the box of presents my mother sent. I also overslept the opportunity to tell my mother I lost Georgia. I think I am avoiding this though I am not sure why. Actally I think I know why but I don't want to write about it.

I intended to go over to work and get some information to expand my vita. A gentleman in Atlanta said that there were jobs at the Fulton Atlanta public library. I checked the web today for that and there are no openings. Still there is an academic opening I'm interested in (I won't say where. Sorry I don't publish that information on this blog.) so I went to polish up my vita and I'm missing some information. My web vita which dates from the summer again needs an update too. It seems like everything got stalled today while I hibernated.

I have resolved to avoid the schul. I dislike the rabbi's sermons. If you can't deal openly and constructively with assimilation than all you do is a disservice. Assimilation is a fact of life for Jews. It is an old fact of life. Asking people retain and prserve something and to defend it not beause it is what they wanted but only because they were born into it might have worked in Europe but in America, that sounds pretty lame. In America we pick our religion. If we don't want to observe or believe we don't.

Besides one can make a very good argument that if you mix other elements into a tradition and change it, that tradition has a very good chance of surviving maybe a better one than if you preserve it because "we've always done it that way." Food is a classic example. I eat many ethnic foods because my mother and grandmothers (but more my mother's mother) tweaked the recipes to Americanize them. Well one can say religion is like food.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

It is time to take a break from the avatars. I am trying to track down one of the few past life experts I know and having no luck. I suppose I could throw this out to one of the MSN groups I belong to but I'm not sure if they'll see why this is important. Basicly, I am the second iteration of a person who was born in 1922. Had I not gone playing under a freight train (Oh all kinds of neat stuff drops through the bottoms of freight cars in case you did not know) one January afternoon, I might be alive and be an old old woman today. Having two lives this close together is unusual. I've had spirits I work with see a lot of Felida (1922-1931) in me. Of late everything I have been remembering in a trance state relates to the few weeks or so right after I died. They are not awful memories though they have a weird sort of poignancy. They are also musical memories. As Felida, I played the piano.

Anyway, Friday afternoon, I made sure to shoot a bunch of graphics through my server space so I could work on them here. I want to get more active with Super Packin' PSP, a graphics group. Graphics that are the right size to actually adorn messages and which are carefully crafted using software are sweet things indeed. I haven't had a chance to do anything with the graphics. The problem is I really don't have a use for sig-tags. One place I hoped to use them long ago was Brainstorms. Yup...fat chance then or now. I occasionally use them on the RAOK board. Cafe Utne is also anti-sig file not that I do much there.

I have gotten more active with Ghostletters, a fiction list on Topica. I have a very old bunch of characters one of whom is a year older than Haldis one of whom is a year younger. They are rooming together in Balch. They are at Cornell rather than Dartmouth. The problem with old characters is that their stories also get old. You can only almost get your character killed so many times. It gets old.

The odd part in all this is I use graphics, but mainly as web page decoratives. Part of my campaign of revenge against Brainstorms is learning to value traditional copyright and intellectual property. Information doesn't want to be free. It is the product of someone's hard work and you can't go using it to make more information and that is how it should be. I have cut back drasticly on the copyrighted images I use. I draw my own artwork. It's all mine that way.

And if creativity is a Brainstormish valuue, well then so what. My stuff is just not that good. Besides most Brainstormers did not know thing one about restraint or craftsmanship and I practice both. Learning to scan for proper size and draw for the scanner is all part of craftsmanship. My colored pencils are a weapon.

Well last night I went to schul. I needed to go. It was also a big mistake. The rabbi's modus opperendi for Friday night sermons is to set up a straw man, someone doing something that no one in the congregation would dream of doing and if they do do it...Well, around this time of year, I am the flesh and blood incarnation of the straw man. The rabbi's message was not to mix up Channaukah and Christmas celebrations. With the holidays ten days apart, that is really not a big danger this year and it's not a danger anyway. It's already happened. Syncretism, a word that snuck into the discussion, has been going on for fifty years. The big gift giving and the emphasis on Channaukah in the United States is part of it.

But as for the rest, people intermarry. People at home do what they like. That is OK. The freedom isn't bad. It doesn't mean you are ashamed you are Jewish or immature or anything else. You absorb what makes sesne of the surrounding dominent culture and make peace with it in your own way. Blending traditions keeps them evolving nad alive. Say that three times fast. Anyway a rabbi who eats treif chicken in restaurants does not have any right to tell me how to celebrate in my home. One thing syncretism does is give the rabbi a little less authority. I think yarmulkes that look like santa hats are just fine. I also think Jewish kids learning about what is in the Nativity scene (we never used the word. Perish the thought!) in a mixed married home (It's going to come out of the box and they are going to ask questions anyway) is OK. I think Christian kids learning the blessing over the menorah is also OK. You can add rather than lose when you blend traditions. Any one showing up in a synagogue obviously cares about the religion so whatever they are doing at home is probably right.

I also went to Atlanta today. I was not sure if I wanted to go. I felt drained and the trip felt a bit pointless given all that has happened this week. Still I am glad I went. I got to try on a used red Izod sweater that was too big. I visited Petsmart and looked at the kitties none of whom would have been a good match for Hertzel. I bought wisely considering my limited carrying capacity. Trips to Atlanta with Lou have spoiled me. I have good quality apples and oranges for a week plus more short grain brown rice, fancy olives, and oh yes...sasame turds which is what I call those very good tasting sesame sticks. I also bought pepitas, potatoes, Chinese greens, and a celery root. I'll make greens and potatoes tomorrow night. Monday after shopping, I'll make green pea soup with celery root. Food can be a great comfort at times.

Lou may or may not be here for Christmas. He has been offered a post teaching a noncredit course at MVCC or SUNY Marcy (I'm not sure which.) and he really should take it. He will be teaching a course about UFO's for real. He says he wants to marry me. I told him he has to move in with me and not run away. We go round and round like this on a regular basis.

Tomorrow, I will probably go to the First Circle of Hell nursing home and push patients. Suzette whom I liked no longer works there so I'll be starting from scratch again with a sad crew of volunteers. I want to do something other than push patients. Volunteering in a nursing home is one depressing business. I wonder if the patients will remind me of Georgia who was old and frail at the end of her life. True she was a kitty but humans are not that different from cats. We're all mammals in the end.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I need to write to a friend. I need to send out "thankyou cards" and I want to look at one more list today, but all of that can wait while I blog. I was going to write about avatars tonight but feel like writing about something else.

I'm going to stick to avatars though. Are avatars/personnae/alternate identities on the net intrinsicly harmful? In the abstract of course they are. They are fraud. Fraud hurts. Fraud hurts because it rips up the fabric of reality that underlies us all. If you have to worry that everything you deal with on the net is true, you are not going to feel very good. A list crowded with glurge is a list devoid of real information and support. This is an extreme example. A person who asks for money using false pretenses will make you leery of giving to the next person. A false warning will get you to ignore a real one.

On a practical question, a well cared for avatar is often quite benign. First, people using their own words and actions (forget spewing glurge) can cause a whole lot of harm. The psycho with whom Haldis met up at True Hearts of Gold is a prime example. Cari The psycho used her real names at some point. That did not keep her from doing actual harm. Going after someone just because you don't care for them is vicious and nasty. Forget worrying about the fabric of reality, both the psycho cased demonstrable harm by her behavior. Genuine malice is far worse than someone falsifying their demographic data and wearing a mask but behaving well. Active practical harm is a much viler and heinous offense than abstract harm. Remember I'm the hypocrite that detests fraud but I detest active harm a lot more.

A well cared for avatar is as well behaved as any well behaved real person. A well cared for avatar also runs within the limits of good taste and the limited capability all secondary personnae posess. What are those limited abilities? An avatar has no real physical address and can not handle money or send real life items unless one is lucky enough to have an accomplice living in the town where the avatar supposedly lives. Postmarks don't lie and the avatar is perpetually broke. Clearly an avatar can not pay for anything and can not participate in physical swaps. Don't volunteer her for either of those things. If you must buy something for the avatar, such as domain space, buy it in your real life name because you are using your real life credit card. You don't want to get in trouble with a domain registry. Getting outed for your avatar due to a whois will not get you in half as much trouble. If you are really concerned about not getting outed, forty-five dollars will cloak your domain information that you use for your avatar. Buy privacy if you need it.

A well cared for avatar pays her way. If she is doing vote exchange, cast her votes. If she offers a graphic gift or recipe, come through on the offer. If she works in any sort of administrative role such as running a web site competition team, she needs to fulfill her responsiblities. Avatars don't exist to give you slacking space.

Don't use your avatar to commit malicious acts. If you get caught, you will not only suffer for committing the acts, you will also suffer for creating a public embarassment. By the way, if you have an avatar, you have to watch what malicious acts you commit under your own name as well since someone could tie the two of you together.

Don't push buttons or hog attention. Do not use your avatar to feign an illness, horrific crime, death, or bereavement. Deaths are public information so this is a great way to get caught and become a public embarassment and object of vengance. Besdies, being a hog for false reasons is really unethical. Just sitting on the sidelines and talking a bit is another story. I hope you can see the difference.

Make your avatar productive. Donate recipes, graphics, etc.... An avatar who is a good citizen is likely to be well liked and very unlikely to get caught. People look for fakes who take, not fakes who give.

Create your avatar completely from whole cloth. Fiction is legal. Using someone else' identity is identity theft and you could land in jail. If your avatar does not have a photo, then don't worry. Not having access to a scanner or preferring to draw are not crimes. Don't use stock photos for your avatar. Someone may recognize them.

Does having an avatar sound like a lot of work? It should. Good avatar management is not easy. Also well maintained avatars like well maintained fictional characters are fertile. They spawn children, husbands, siblings, suite mates, boy friends, etc... Avatars work better in clusters. They have something to talk about and can always talk to each other. Having something to talk about means less need to talk about illness and death. The downside is the pool of avatars keeps growing.

Always know where and when your avatars are. Orelle is in the Pacific time zone in Reno, Nevada. Thadea, Jacob, Ithamar, and Haldis are currently on central time in Iowa City, Iowa. Haldis is on Central Time only because she is home on Christmas break from Dartmouth. This will change in January when Haldis returns back east. Ithamar is due to graduate from the University of Iowa the end of May and he too will move to the Easter time zone to be near his beloved, Haldis. See, that wasn't so hard or so terrible. Haldis' D-plan makes my life really complicated though.

Last but not least, good avatars are the result of character separation. Now my web pages all look alike including the avatar pages, but that is not a problem. The important thing is that the avatars don't share the same graphics, recipes, etc... Once you give something to an avatar it is not yours any more. You can't take it back. You can't take credit for it etc... This, I found, was the most difficult part of running avatars. Thadea, my oldest avatar will be four years old on April 8, 2005. That is a long time to be running a family of avatars.

I finally cried over losing Georgia. I cried in schul tonight. I started feeling really good during the service, at peace, not panicky, and little did I know my guard was down. The tears bushwacked me. They were silent tears coming from my stomach which still feels knotted despite a hot bath. They were wrenching tears that left my legs weak. They were six weeks of tears. Every time Georgia took a turn for the worse and she took several, I would tell myself "save your tears for when it gets worse and it is going to get worse."

Then when Georgia died I could not cry and when I buried her on Wednesday I could not cry. There were just no tears. I wondered why I was trying to be so strong. Hertzel is self sufficient and a real attention hog. He is not in danger of catching a contagious scourge as Georgia was after Evander's death and not traumatized by watching another cat killed as Georgia and Evander were after Sting's death. The problem is I am spending Christmas both alone and bereaved and am determined to have a decent holiday. I have to be strong for myself. Also having to work full time throughout Georgia's illness has meant I've had to keep strong. Keeping strong gets to be a bad habit somtimes.

That said, I really want to go to Atlanta tomorrow morning. I have the money but I have no idea what I want to buy. Lou says he will be here for Christmas and make pasta with anchovy sauce also called pasta puttanesca. Yes, this southern Italian dish has a name. Lou learned to make it from his father. It is very very good. Failing Lou's arrival, I may make pasta with TVP sauce. I could get some more TVP in Whole Foods. I also want to buy tea, nut butters, moqua squash, olives, kobacha squash, fancy greens, blue cheese, apples, pears, and oranges. Hold it! That's too much stuff. I know.

I think the day in Atlanta will do me good. Sunday, I hope to drag my tail over to the nursing home. I may even go on Christmas day or the day after Christmas. Why not... Lou won't be here. If he is, I'll spend time with him or take him with me. Next week, I need to decorate my Vestris board for my course and the week after that I am off. Maybe I will do another trip to Atlanta, strictly site seeing and a bit more food shopping. Who knows what I'll do....

I am getting more active with a graphics group. It is a traditional PSP sig tag group and while I admire their craftsmanship, I am leaning more towards scanned art and less PSP technique. I'm a minimalist when it comes to PSP and for good reason. Size matters but only for lightness and smallness.

I am also writing Ghostletters again. I am playing a lot less Neopets. That is all to the good. I love my neofamily but there are just many more useful things to do than playing the same games over and over again to earn points. Life is too short for a second rat race, and I am no rat.

Friday, December 17, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

OK, we are continuing with the subject of fraud and identity online, so hold on and here we go. You all want to know about avatars. First, let's get this straight, having a different set of demographic details is all an avatar should be. Now most of the time, a person's demographic details and the story of their life is not important. I mean unless I am dating do I care that YB George, my brother in spirit, is in his sixties, in Canada and happily married and with kids too. If he was a single college kid instead would that be a problem. No it wouldn't.

Now why wouldn't it be a problem. Well first off YB George asked for nothing but to innundate my inbox with graphics, jokes, inspirational stuff which was fine in moderation and when it got out of moderation I got out from under. If I am not asking to hog attention, take up a lot of your time, if I am not pushing emotional buuttons (faking a death or prolonged illness), or causing a public embarassment (People hate to have their buttons pushed and then finding out they wasted their time.) what harm am I doing. I think I am doing a heck of a lot of existential harm as in making the fabric of reality untrustworthy etc.... Remember I hate fraud, total hypcrite that I am.

But if I discuss largely impersonal topics, use humor, take care of business etc... do my demographics matter? Does it matter if I use my last name? Does it matter if I tell you I live in a different city or that I have children when I don't or that I'm eighteen instead of forty-two. This is personal stuff and unless I've got you involved on a very personal level, again why should it matter.

Where demographics fraud matters is where one starts asking for things. Prayer requests are the tip of the ice berg. They cost nothing. They require no committment and are unlkely to leave those responding to them in a state that leads to public embarassment. Typically those who answer prayer requests in volume do so from a prayer list. The fraud's name becomes one more name on the list. There is no vetting so conceivably an attention seeker could create numerous situations requiring prayer. A frequent flyer on a prayer list is common enough. That one would go under the radar.

Asking for group support gets a bit trickier. If a person monopolizes the conversation with a tale of woe (Cancer is the favorite here), then when the woe turns out to be fiction, group members are going to be pissed. A faked death is the same as a tale of woe on steroids. If the person goes to a support committee and asks for support, that is close to the prayer request. The support crew goes out, sends the card, signs the guestbook and that is all she wrote. Geri Drahn continually came to the support committee at RAOK and we had no problem with her.

Where fraud really becomes problematic is when the fraud either fakes a death or asks for money or material items. Deaths are public. Someone will verify them. The fraud will be caught and create a public embarssment of mega proportions. The fraud asking for money has the same problem. Money has to go somewhere. How can it get to the fraud who has no real life address. Even if there is a collaborator who has a post box somewhere, this is a more sophisticated scheme than that of which most frauds are capable. Requests for stuffed animals and blankets were the undoing of Geri Drahn, RAOK's most famous fraud. If she had stuck with the Care Committee she would have been just fine.

A lot of the damage a fraud does is related to why the fraud is out there in the first place. To me fraud is largely environmental. Build an environment with gates in the wrong places, not enough diverse roles for members of a group, a non crit ethods, tolerance for glurge, and you will have frauds. You will of course get them for different reasons. First, one can commit fraud merely to get past a locked gate. Thadea was born for exactly that reason. I own a web site competition which meant I could not compete elsewhere and I wanted to compete again and then recruit to ZOID using the personna of an unhappy but diligent fighter. Well, I needed Thadea to get in the gate in 2001. In 2004 most competitions will let an owner from elsewhere fight. It is questionable whether I would have created Thadea today, but 2001 was not 2004. Thadea was an access fraud. She intended to get access and once inside she did what any other fighter who is active would do.

Then there is fraud for personal expression. Good characters including personnae are fertile and sometimes a fraud comes up just because one wants to build the web site and have the fun of playing the role. Getting a ton of approval/attention from others does not matter. The web site and the talk on a blog or board is enough. Orelle and Haldis are to some degree (more Orelle than Haldis) this type of fraud. No, they don't exist. Yes, their back story fascinates me. I love playing their roles on the Run Amuck board. I really don't need to have them in other communities though some of the reason they are not is that I've had a sour experience with a small ladies group for Haldis and often other communities out there are just not very active. I get the community feel by letting the avatars talk to each other.

Third there is fraud for status improvement. I sort of did this with Thadea. She had a fine run at a community called The Labor of Love. The community went defunct and I have never been able to replace it for her. The Labor of Love was a board for parents. Eileen as Eileen on that board would have been a second class citizen. She could have registered and joined but she would have had no way to talk and no one to listen to. I cook, but I have few places where I can post recipes. A single adult who cooks is kind of stuck. Thadea, however, could take some of my recipes and post them at the Labor of Love. She could also join the conversation from time to time. The Labor of Love was a large community and Thadea did not hog the spotlight. Through her I had first class status and Thadea gave the community a good twelve or so recipes before the thing collapsed, and it did not collapse due to goings on in the working parents or the recipe area. The group had a sex and relationships area that was steamy to say the least and prone to abuse. There were supposedly frauds in there.

Finally we have malicious frauds. These are the ones everyone is afraid of. Someone commits fraud to commit vandalism, embarass a community (probably the least likely), gain huge amounts of attention etc... steal money etc... I think these are a small minority of frauds. Most fraud is highly successful and under the radar. That's my best guess.

It would be nice if there did not have to be as much fraud as I think there is out there. There are a number of ways to prevent fraud. First, if you don't have to know someone's exact demographics accept you'll get some falsification and let it go. If demographics are important, don't be selective. You don't have to be most of the time. If you are a Christian group admit curious nonChristians. It is OK to come in and lurk and learn. This way no one has to pretend to have a faith one lacks. If you are a parent group, have a place for the curious. The single person can join and put up her recipes. Maybe she has something to give. If you are running a memorial group, set up a section for those wanting to give support and give them credit and kudos for their work. Publicly done memorial work attracts groupies but groupies are better than someone who fakes the death of friends so she can be part of the club.

Second, and this is harder than making a space for people at the table, value real personal experience. Now this seems like a contradiction but I'm not saying to vet demographics. I'm saying squelch glurge. Glurge is clealy not the experience of people on the list. It does not reflect reality. Most children who are dying are in the third world and sick with infectious disease. If you want to discuss a possible cure for malaria or AIDs in Africa go ahead, but if that is too depressing find another subject and skip the glurge. Glurge crowds out real experience and sets the bar for what is a good story in the wrong place.

And value positive experience as well as negative. Death and illness shold NOT be the only way to gain attention. Make sure there are as many praise reports as prayer requests. That trip to Wal-Mart is important. That new recipe, those new clothes, that raise at work, are all worth while. The more you accept the less likely someone will be to fake it.

As for personal expression fraud, that does not need tons of attention so it is likely to go under the radar. It may not ever even join your group since there are blogs and multi voice boards that act as fora for that sort of thing. There are also fiction lists.

Well that's it for fraud. I wish my writing were a bit better. Tomorrow night unless something comes up, I'll do avatars and how to make them and run them safely and right. This is a lot of fun. I love writing to this blog because I can say whatever I want here. Everyone should have a blog like this.

In other news, YB George, my brother in spirit, is temporarily banished from my inbox. The reason is that I really can't deal with 10mb a day of unselected "cute" Christmas graphics. I love the holidays as much as anybody and I adore Christmas decorations. I visit RAOK members holiday pages and all, but there are limits. Too much of a good thing makes it a nuiscence and right now given that I'm spending Christmas alone and feeling my way through that, it would be way too big a nuiscence.

I rejoined Super Packin' PSP and reactivated at Ghostletters. I need to turn some of my PNG files into jpgs for use with the PSP group but this is where I belong. I also owe some thankyou mail to people in groups who comforted me about Georgia. In the words of Gerald M. Phillips "you have to know who your real friends are." I know that does not sound original but that was what he said and I am taking him out of context just a bit with all due respect of course.

I ought to be in bed, but personal expression time is important. I have gotten next to nothing done at work so I am going to go in tomorrow for a few hours and see if I can make up some of what I left out. It wasn't just the day I missed to tend to and bury Georgia. Losing her has taken a lot out of me. I can't cry but I'm exhausted. I find it hard to just do anything. I am dragging myself through my days. Also most of my time at work has been out on the desk so all kinds of back office stuff has just been left to rot.

Lou did not get started on his trip south. I suspect strongly I'll be spending Christmas alone. Why Lou can't plan a trip and be gone is beyond me, but he can't. I've been on the phone with him and he is supportive. By all rights, I should take the bus to Utica and spend Christmas with him up there, except they don't make much of a Christmas.

Saturday I take the shuttle to Atlanta. I know no time to sit down and refresh myself. I'll sleep in a bit in the morning. I don't think I need a whole day at work. I also plan to go to schul tomorrow night.

And yes, I miss Georgia. Life goes on and I miss her. Hertzel is not Georgia. She had an assertive presence until she became very ill and even then, even on her last night, she came out of that cupboard to greet me and looked me straight in the eye. She may have even meowed at me, but she did not have much meow left.

It is lonely in this apartment tonight. I can't walk in and ask Hertzel: "Hey where's your partner in crime?" We both know she is gone though he enjoys being the sole object of my affection.

I don't even know what food I want to buy in Atlanta. I started thinking about that. I know I want tea and black radish and kobacha squash. The last kobacha squash I had here was bitter. I also want opop or moqua squash, most likely moqua. Pseudo cucumber salad is a good thing. I'll get some pasta too...maybe. I'm not sure about that one. I want some good citrus and apples, blue cheese, olives, soy nut butter. Lou says he wants to make spahgetti and anchovy sauce for Christmas so I'll get oil cured olives.

He thinks he wants to come down here. He says it and then he doesn't leave. I've gotten used to this. You can build for damage in any system and Lou's indecisiveness is damage.

It's the long week of days off after Christmas that are going to feel worse than the holiday itself. Most Christians celebrate right up to the day and then let it peter out. I have a whole week off just like a kid in school and the season is a weird one. I can walk anywhere I want and may go to Atlanta again. Maybe I will go to see the Atlanta Zoo or the Martin Luther King stuff. There is also a civil rights museum in Birmingham. It is supposed to have a beautiful monument where water runs over rock. That might be worth seeing.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

MASTHEAD! It was worth it to be kicked off of Brainstorms. It is worth it to be as I am, think as I think, do as I do. It was worth it to say what I said though I was always way too polite when I was a member of Brainstorms. As a nonmember I don't have to be that polite any more. My avatars are worth more than social capital and my Pretend Brainstorm kicks booty! It is the best! Onward and upward. Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Well that was a nice passionate and optimistic masthead and a great way to begin blogging again. Tonight's topic is FRAUD. Let's start right out by saying that while I am not a danger to most communities (If you defacate where you eat than you are likely to be the first one to smell it so I make a point to use the toilet if you get my drift.), I am an outrageous hypocrite. Fraud in all its forms bothers me. Morevoer, I think the net is awash in fraud.

What kind of fraud do we have? Let's start with something very basic: GLURGE, inspriational tales that stick in the throat. How can glurge be fraud? It's not real and it often takes the place of personal posts. It instructs the reader how he/she should interpret the story. A Christmas Story presented by a listmate told of how a NINE YEAR OLD girl with leukemia wanted to see Santa and how her virtuous little brother got a mall santa to come to the little girl's bedside and he told her a secret and she recovered, a miracle because of her simple faith.

Well gee wizz what is that story supposed to do for me. I feel like asking the person who posted the tale, is this any one you know. What does it mean for the rest of us? Most nine year olds are not so backwards as to believe in Santa. Is there no hope for normal children and adults should they get sick? Are only the backward deserving of miracles? You can see how absolutely useless glurge is.

Also because glurge is reasonably well written, it stifles conversation on all but the most articulate of lists. It is easier to post it and sets the bar for others' experience so high, it squeezes out and chokes off posts with real experience. It is a counterfeit, a substitute, and fraud. I told you I was a hypocrite.

Then we have multiple prayer requests. There is nothing wrong with prayer requests and no one I know anywhere is committing fraud this way. It is just that it would be easy to slip in one, two, or more fictional ones in areas that accept prayer requests as standard fare. The payoff would be secondary gain or attention and the chance for a repeat performance whenever needed since many groups simply accept prayer requests. They are after all not for money or anything extrodinary and require no follow up or committment.

A third type of fraud and one that is actually fairly common is vicarious experience. This is where the bulk of 9/11 memorial pages I've seen fit. Those making the pages uniformly did not lose a loved one, were not inconvenienced, did not lose a friend, had no one in their family work as part of the rescue effort etc... In other words, they only watched the tragic events on TV. A media event (which is what 9/11 was if you did not live in the New York or Washington Metropolitan areas or were not a stranded airline passenger or were not involved in the rescue ground clearing effort) is not one's own real life experience yet like glurge it trumps and covers up real life experience.

We'll do avatars and personnae tomorrow night. I've got to get some sleep. It is good to be back. I am writing spirit contact log nearly every day because I have a new newbie that I knew in real life. His name is Bert. Anyway, writing log is fun and channeling is fun but I'd better get to bed if I'm going to be doing any of it.

Georgia died Tuesday December 14, 2004 at 7:55am. She had been going downhill ever since my last entry here. By Monday afternoon at 5pm she was unsteady on her feet. I pulled her out of a cupboard where she was hiding way in the back. I guess she was crawling off because she felt vulnerable. My vet says cats don't crawl off to die. They crawl off to get well. Well I wanted Georgia out where I could find her so I scruffed her and dragged her out. By the time I got home from dinner with the interviewee (I'm on a search committee at work) Georgia had trouble walking. I knew she was not going to last long and went down to the bank by the mall to get the money to bury her. I already had the silk flowers and the burial towel here at the house.

I was up most of Monday night on death watch. I thought I would be able to take a nap but I couldn't. Georgia died while I was on the phone saying I would be taking the day off to stay with her. Georgia was buried today. Mr. Gregory, the owner of Bi-City Pet Cemetary took me out there. We talked a lot, mainly about the business of burying pets. I didn't mind. The talk feels good now.

I have one other cat, Hertzel, boy of joy, my white neutered tom. He is exuberent and lovely and even crawls under the covers to sleep in my arms. He growled when Georgia died. We were all with her, her human and feline family. Anyway, it's been a blur of sleeplessness, wiredness, and fatigue. I don't know why I have shed no tears. At times I just want to sleep though I did that more the last days that Georgia was sick. At other times I have no desire for sleep. I just bounce off the walls. I got my period in the middle of all this and I hardly notice that I have it.

It feels good to be back and blogging even though this is very late at night. I have my freedom again. I knew I would get it back but I remember from losing another cat, Evander, that I wanted it and then when I got it, all I did was sleep.

I cleaned litter pans tonight and this apartment actually smells good. I was on the phone with Lou. If he wants to travel down here in good weather and before the big Christmas rush, the time to do it is now, but he is not ready. I suspect I will be spending Christmas alone. That would scare a lot of people. It ought to scare me. There is almost no literature on people spending Christmas alone I guess we are a population not worthy of study. I think it is commoner than most people think.

This is a double whammy because I made no plans because I had a sick cat with an open ended prognosis. I needed to stay home and care for her so travel was out and again, Christmas is family time and most people figure that the single colleague should go home to her family etc... And most people give charity only when it is convenient for them if you get my drift. Anyway, here I am now both facing a solo Christmas and bereaved.

For a lot of people this would be the worst. It should be that with me but I have become very self-sufficient in the last year or two. I am planning a trip to Atlanta for this Saturday. Christmas is also a Saturday morning and if I rise early enough there are synagogue services that last half a day. Many Jews who don't want to celebrate Christmas go out of town. Well, they'll need people. I can fix myself a nice Christmas dinner. My tree went up Thanksgiving weekend and it stays up until Epiphany. I'm Jewish but I know a lot about Christianity. Protestant Christians end their Christmas celebration much sonner than Catholic ones. I'm not sure why, but that is the custom here in Columbus, Georgia. Me, I follow the Catholic custom as far as the tree is concerned. It is much nicer.

There is actually a lot of sight seeing I would like to do in Atlanta. There is a zoo and there is the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Martin Luther King exhibits. I could probably take those in in combination with another food shopping trip. What is a trip to Atlanta if you don't come home with a pile of goodies. Face it, it is better to be alone and eat like a prince than to be alone and eat average food. I have money and that is a saving grace. Take advantage of what you do have. Stop worrying about what you don't have. Brainstorms is the one exception to that, but I have my pretend version of that community and that suits me just fine. I like it better than the original and that is not so weird. Anyway, it is time for the other side of this blog.