Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Video Game Violence v. Mean Mom Attitude

Per an email from a friend…
“BTW - are any of your brood (particularly the boy) into the World of Warcraft?
I've said no -- more than once -- and apparently I'm the meanest mom at _____
Middle School.”

Well… no, none of my brood are into World of Warcraft (sounds nasty and bloody and let’s admit it, maybe a bit cathartic also?) – why are none of them into it – are they pussy peace loving tree hugging hippy daisy chain making pansies – NO! In fact, the oldest concerns me because she loves fire and she ‘wants a gun’ – “The Boy” (we refer to him all the time like that, I hope he doesn’t get some sort of emotional scar) is very into shooting, maiming, swords, cross bows, guns, knives, playing airsoft, playing paintball, and yes he would love video games where he could shoot stuff or ‘blow shit up’ – The youngest… well okay she is a peace loving tree hugging hippy daisy chain making drama queen – but 2/3 of my children would love to ‘blow shit up’ in real life or virtually.

So… my friend is not “the meanest mom at _____ Middle School”, well she might be, but she is no meaner than me. My children are also not allowed any video games where they shoot people. But, after being rather addicted to Spyro myself when they were younger, and well killing the little dudes by breathing fire on them (is this really that different than tossing a grenade into a Nazi bunker in ‘WWII whatever the hell it is that my husband plays’?) made me realize that video games are by the nature of them – competitive. And by the nature of competition, there is generally, not always, but generally, a good guy and a bad guy. So I changed my thinking a little – my kids cannot play games where they shoot PEOPLE (except Nazi’s in the game that my husband plays – oh yeah and other bad guys through history in some other games that are around the house – there is something about Spartans…) nor can they play games where they can be ‘the bad guy’. So, they can play games that I don’t think are too awfully violent, where they kill imaginary weird alien crap, or truly universally bad guys like Nazi’s. (Please don’t go off on me about how a lot of Nazi’s had no choice and were not bad people, they just did as they were ordered out of fear – I live with a history major that will tell you all the good that Custer did – you can hardly argue with me that people get stuck in circumstances historically – it’s like preaching to the choir). And they can ‘blow shit up’ – but… there are time limits and when I deem that it is affecting their behaviour or attitude I simply ground them from all game platforms (including PC and hand held) for however long I think their transgression merits.

Now, they do have the option of trying to argue this with me – recently my son tried explaining the merits of Vice City to me – rofl… as if I was going to listen to that crap – bad guys steal cars, and you aren’t allowed to play games where you are the bad guy. Once in a blue moon they win – like when my son got hooked on a friends game and assured me that he was only killing imaginary characters like Cyclops and Gorgon’s etc… well, I listened to that game for awhile and the sound effects were rather gushy and slicey and sounded like true massacre and I said ‘no more – regardless if you are killing imaginary stuff, listening to all that killing is disgusting’. And, they do obviously play these games at their friends houses, but… since they don’t live there, they can’t play them constantly – so I let that go a little, with of course the “if you shouldn’t be doing it at home, then don’t do it there speech” – knowing damn well I can’t control what they do other places, merely ask that they not do it, and go from there.

Will any of this help my friend – oh hell no, her kids will say that her friend is mean and twisted and wrong also. Will keeping our children from playing games where they slice and dice human beings for amusement help them in the long run – I hope so. I would like to think that I am doing my part to instill in my children a respect for life and a sensitivity to the senselessness that is violence. Will it work, who knows – but they will someday recognize that I tried, and maybe that will be enough.

S. A. D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder

I have heard of this, and often thought, oh yes living someplace that is overcast all of the time would near kill me – I cannot even stand to have the drapes closed – I have to have sunshine, I really truly have to have it. I get freaked out if we have two overcast days in a row. I am from Colorado – in fact I am 6th generation Coloradan – and we have over 300 days of sunshine per year NORMALLY.

Well - after I can’t count backwards how many storms, in just over a month – and we are somewhere around our 45th day of snow on the ground – with just a barely smattering of sunlight getting in (thankfully this weekend brought a little sunshine, and I managed to actually be out in it a bit) – I think I may be in need of therapy – which is apparently getting outside. Let’s just review, there is snow on the ground, the temperature hasn’t been above 30 except for a few days – and there’s no freakin sunshine OUTSIDE either. If there were sunshine OUTSIDE, I would open the drapes and bring it INSIDE. The other therapy is a “Light Box” – WTF – I live in Colorado – we have over 300 days of sunshine per year – I’m gonna do what with this stupid light box after this winter – I suppose I could sell it on eBay to some poor soul who is stuck in Seattle. Or there is “Travel to a Tropical Location” – I want to get my doctor to prescribe that and have my health insurance pay for it – but oh yeah, health insurance doesn’t even actually pay for emergency room visits – well just barely anyhow – so… I’m thinking the docs over at the Kaiser building, that are probably also about to commit some heinous act to try and overcome this gloom are not gonna say “Sure, here’s a ticket to Bermuda”

So… what am I gonna do about my S.A.D. – well I read this morning that some people have “reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder” – they get depressed when it is too sunny – so I had some unhealthy thoughts about things I would like to do to someone who actually thinks sunshine is depressing (that was very open minded wasn’t it) – and I also read this morning that mental health officials become concerned that people will drink heavily when they are affected – WHAT??? – Not that I don’t drink when it’s cold, but seriously, “who wants a COLD beer?” sounds a bit oxymoronic to me right now. Also, people might overeat – oh really, well considering that I’ve put on about a bazillion pounds since I quit smoking almost 1.5 yrs ago, that would be a great way to comfort myself – IF I FELT LIKE GOING TO THE FREAKIN STORE TO BUY FOOD!

Reverse S.A.D. indeed – get a grip, no one writes songs about how wonderfully comforting and fun a cold dark overcast gloomy assed day is – not even in country music!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Keeping Kosher

When I first read this headline, I was amazed, because there is no way that an adult gentile has kept kosher for his entire life (okay I suppose someone somewhere could find a Gentile that simply by accident or unique circumstance made it to adulthood without violating Kashrut).

So if you accept an organ, particular an organ that is essentially a filter for the poisons of human existence, from a person who has mixed milk and meat or who has eaten pork or shellfish, wouldn’t that be non-kosher?

Of course I opened the article, and read on. They were very specific to mention that it was a Reform Rabbi. I have had experience with mostly Reform Jews in my life, and they all kept Kosher, at least for holidays, and I never saw any of them eat pork or shellfish or meat with milk. I thought that Reform Jews simply didn’t violate basic laws in day to day life, and had two sets of dishes so that they could be completely pure for religious observances.

So I thought, hmmm, maybe that is a choice that a Reform Jew can make. How surprised was I when I googled “Reform Judaism Dietary Restrictions” – and came up with this excellent sermon. The original position of Reform Jews as long ago as 1885, was to oppose dietary law. The Reform synagogue even published a cook book with pork recipes (wow!) – and the Rabbi that wrote the sermon had Quiche Lorraine, with bacon, at the temple for his Bar Mitzvah.

To further surprise me, I find that (at least the position of this Rabbi) God actually would prefer that we be vegetarian. Having been a vegetarian for a while when I was younger, I actually have a hard time believing this – but, I plan to reread my bible and see how I interpret it for myself. The beauty of my faith is I don’t have to accept other people’s interpretations, I am open to find my own personal spiritual meaning in life and in God’s word. (Oh yeah and as a side note – this Rabbi spelled out God – rather than the usual G-d that you see in much Jewish writing).

Okay so back to my original question, when I read just the headline… would it be a violation of Jewish Dietary Laws to accept an organ from someone who has not kept Kosher, if you were for example a Hasidic Jew? And, are Orthodox Jews deeply offended by the idea of a Rabbi who has not kept Kosher?

I don’t know if I will find the answer… but it is a curious question.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Speaking of whining…

I love my dear husband (see earlier posts) – I love my kids, they make me crazy and insane and often I behave strangely because of the things they do… but I adore them, more than they can ever understand until they have children of their own, and maybe not then… BUT

I am SOOOOOO happy (notice the Jr. High emphasis by placing lots of ‘o’s) that they have returned to school and my life can once again return to some shadow of it’s former self. Not bad enough that they got two extra days of vacation (see any news about the state of weather in Colorado or this listing on ebay) and were home whining about how they were SO prepared for their finals and now they will have to study all over again. Not bad enough that we were totally unprepared for the holidays (as usual), and that there was 26” of snow on the ground and no way to escape the hell that was our home with everyone home and whining. Not bad enough that as soon as Mother Nature lulled us into thinking it was all going to be okay and we would somehow catch up on the errands, and our internet shopping that was to be delivered on the 20th would somehow arrive by the 24th, and we might actually get the rest of the shopping done, she dumps more snow on our happy little village (okay it’s a crappy city covered with brown schlocky snow/slush/ice – but village sounds so much more poetic). We were surviving all of that, the kids had ceased whining about finals when they realized there really wasn’t any point in spending their entire vacation unhappy, the boy was shoveling like a demon at home and at his grandparents (both houses), we managed one big shopping trip to Kohl’s before the first storm, and another to Target in between storms – yes if you got your gift from me, likely you can return it one of those two places, husband made lovely pictures of the internet gifts and we put them in envelopes on the tree, and we even managed to get our baking groceries layed in before the storm… in fact, we were going to be baking on the 22nd, we had the kitchen ready to go, the groceries, and boom… Husband calls from the grocery store – he was picking up those groceries that we needed for our traditional Christmas morning breakfast and some whipping cream for my daughters cream puffs… we drank the first pint along with some hot chocolate and crème de menthe – so he calls

“There’s a problem”

“Oh” (me imagining they are out of whipping cream or some other item we can find a substitution for)

“I broke my wrist”


“I slipped on black ice getting out of the truck and I broke my wrist”

So I could go on with the conversation, but that would be boring for you, and requires all that extra punctuation for me… I offered to go get him, he insisted he could drive, he drove home, I ran out to the truck and drove him to the emergency room where we stayed until nearly midnight (and we were “fast tracked”). Keeping in mind that he didn’t say “I think I broke my wrist” or “I might have broken my wrist” – he said “I broke my wrist” – I knew it was broken, I just wanted to get him taken care of and out of pain.

My kids (okay, Our kids) were FANTASTIC! After I hung up the phone and before he pulled up, they had an ice pack, my shoes, my purse, my son was out shoveling again… then after I left, the three of them made the cookies and the pizelles (Italian Christmas Cookies) which are NOT easy (until you’ve made several hudred, then it’s like anything else good – time consuming, but not hard). They made hundreds of each, and they didn’t make a hideous mess of the kitchen either. Then they helped me over the next two days with wrapping and packing and making fudge and cleaning.

Then without warning, without hesitation, on December 26th, they turned into someone else’s children, and my husband (who had been trying some to help those two days) became the “I Can’t” man (waving casted arm in air). I had no recourse but to become Lois from Malcolm in the Middle – bitching all the time, laying guilt trips, grunting, moaning, and even being nasty to the cripple… really, he can drive this huge four wheel drive truck through the most hideous streets and snow potholes, he can work all day, he can wipe his own ass (I assume, I haven’t actually seen him do it, but he doesn’t smell like shit), he can shower (again an assumption, he wraps the cast in plastic and turns on the water and doesn’t smell bad), he can pet the dogs, use the t.v. remote, play playstation, eat, etc… but he can’t put the mustard away because he “can’t twist, the doctor told him not to”, and he can’t help cook bacon (a decidedly one handed job) – I work with amputees on occasion, and I wanted to tell him they can do these things and they don’t even have the broken arm with some usable fingers to help out. And the kids… well you know teenaged excuses “I did the dishes last time” “she never does it” “I shoveled at Grandma’s” “it’s not my mess”… It’s enough to make a fairly sane, lucid, level-headed woman like myself become an animal worthy of billing as one of Godzilla’s Foes (remember Mothra???).

So, no whining indeed.

Oh but I must add an addendum. The Colorado snowstorms had the most delightful affect on people, I don’t remember cheerier people out Christmas shopping, all helping each other, smiling, saying excuse me and I’m sorry, offering suggestions for substitutions in the bare-shelved grocery store – really a beautiful Christmas in that regard – I want to thank each stranger that was so nice and joyful around me during this time.