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What I Do Here

If you are here for genealogy, try this: http://walkitout.livejournal.com/tag/genealogy

I write about whatever I am thinking about. It helps me think about it and remember it later. Because I live far away from many of my longest term friends, we don't always get to participate in each other's daily life; sharing my blog is a second-best.

My interests change over time, but at any given time, I am usually very intensely interested in a few things. This might look more organized and logical than it really is. I have two children with autism spectrum diagnoses, and they seem completely normal for my extended family; if I were a kid growing up today, I'd have a diagnosis, too. Try to keep that in mind, if you're trying to figure out what kind of person would write the kinds of things I write.

Liveblogging _The Boys in the Boat_

I dunno if I'll be adding to this, we'll see. I started it yesterday, and it's a weird read, because Daniel James Brown has gone to a lot of trouble to describe places in detail -- and I've been to pretty much all of them, and I've done a lot of genealogical research on top of hearing my extended family's stories about the region for most of my first quarter century.

Anyway. I've found my first egregious error.

On page 73, Joe "trudged up University Avenue in the rain and the dark to the YMCA".

Nope. Nope, he definitely did _not_ trudge up University Avenue. It was 1933, so he trudged up "The Ave", or University Way, but he did NOT trudge up University Avenue. He could even have trudged up the road formerly known as 14th Avenue, or even formerly known as Columbus Avenue. But he most definitely never, ever, ever trudged up University Avenue.

ETA: And again, on p 155, Joe "peeled off from the group and made his way up University Avenue to the YMCA". No. No he did not. Did. Not. "The Ave" or "University Way".

This is really jarring.

San Diego Comic Con

First, my friend J.'s rumor that Tower of Terror was going to be re-done as something else has turned out to be true:


I will be visiting a few months too early to experience it. Hopefully, I'll return sooner than a decade the next time I go after that.

Second: Oliver Stone on Pokemon Go! It's totalitarianism. Well, because I think calling something totalitarianism is a reflex for Stone.


I don't think you can summarize something that incoherent, but as near as I can tell, the logic mashup goes something like this:

Google is big, new and scary and growing super fast. Google does data mining. [Gap in logic.] Pokemon Go! is surveillance capitalism that loses money now but will make money later by following you everywhere and figuring out what you want and then manipulating your behavior through luring you. That is totalitarianism.

Let's contemplate the definition of totalitarianism:


So, basically, central control, gotta follow the rules, we don't give a shit what you think or want or whatever. In other words, if Pokemon Go! and surveillance capitalism work by figuring out what you want and then luring you with it, it would seem to be the exact _opposite_ of totalitarianism.

Let's have a quickie look at "surveillance capitalism" (perpetrator of this term was NOT on the panel, as near as I can tell, which is a pity, because that back-and-forth could have been entertaining):


Ironically, where google and most other people who are getting tagged with this derogatory term seem to think they are giving people what they want in a personalized/customized way, Zuboff and (possibly) others instead frame it this way:

"It is constituted by unexpected and often illegible mechanisms of extraction, commodification, and control that effectively exile persons from their own behavior while producing new markets of behavioral prediction and modification."

All I can say is, if your Self is so incoherent that someone giving you what you want causes you to feel disconnected from Who You Are, well, wow. I feel bad for you. That sounds painful. But that is not how it works when people give me what I want.

I do recognize that Pokemon Go! is causing people to get more exercise than they otherwise might have. This raises a bunch of questions about prioritization of basic needs that I find fascinating. But it does not make me think that anyone has been "exiled" from "their own behavior". It's more along the lines of turning the alphabet into a fun song and then singing it relentlessly with very high affect as a pre-literacy learning activity disguised as a Fun Game. Did the kiddo really WANT to learn the alphabet?

Does anyone fucking care? And how many of those kids, once grown up, feel exiled from their own behavior because they can now read?

Also, what _precisely_ is the difference between FiestaWare, Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia volumes, grocery store tokens, frequent flyer miles, Dorothy Sayers' fictional "whiffling" campaign, and Pokemon lures bought by businesses to draw in customers? I mean, other than, it's a virtual good instead of a physical good. No one went around saying that frequent flyer miles was totalitarianism. (You know, I haven't done a definitive search. Hmmm.)

ETA: Also, most of us _have_ actually figured out that you can say no to free stuff. We walk past free food on trays at the grocery store. We drive past free used furniture by the side of the road. We decline to use rewards cards. We tell the cashier that the next person in line can have those little stamps for loyal customers. We "opt out" of promotional emails and online coupons. We don't apply for every damn store card offered to us in exchange for some percentage off of today's bill. Etc. If the concern is that we are given free stuff to manipulate us because we can't say no to free, well, some people do have that problem and we probably should help them with that, but that's no reason to put a stop to the freebies more generally. If anyone has read the Zuboff article and can figure out how this is argued:

"Surveillance capitalism challenges democratic norms and departs in key ways from the centuries long evolution of market capitalism."

I'm curious to know, but not can't quite bring myself to read an entire article written in a style resembling that extract. I know a decent amount about the rise of political machines, and about the many and varied tricks used to attract custom. I don't see any "key way" in which either google or Pokemon Go! departs from "market capitalism".

ETA: Ugh. It is even worse than I thought. This really is right up there with that website I poked fun at for saying "scientists" in 1668 thought baker's yeast was a bad idea for health reasons. Look, if you want to create an argument, you really should not just take random other complaints, misunderstand them, and then patch them together. It isn't compelling. It is incoherent and annoying.
R.'s work place takes them to Canobie Lake as a Thing once a year. A. and I did not join T. and R. today. Ha! It's over 90, so I wasn't gonna go anyway.

A. woke up happy, insisted she didn't hurt. I got her bacon and toast for breakfast and another bowl of strawberries. She mostly ate bacon and strawberries, and drank water and a little chocolate milk. I had an omelette, home fries and toast. I wish I'd found the mayo and mustard in the patient fridge by the nurse's station _yesterday_. Oh well. My sodium levels are better for not having had the mustard anyway. We walked all over the floor, and then the road work started. They were cleaning, then waxing, the linoleum tiles. Fortunately, while they blocked us in during the cleaning phase, they left us a lane to escape during the waxing phase. I talked to the nurse and she had discharge orders so she got started on that. The surgeon came by and was very happy at how everything looked. I had been told "after breakfast" yesterday, but that always makes me think, yeah, sure, I probably will regret not ordering a lunch tray. But nope! We got out of there! I think the waxing encouraged people to get us out before we were trapped there. We were home by 10:45.

I finally got to brush A.'s hair and my teeth. She's snacking and watching Powerpuff Girls. I've got some laundry going. T. plans on being home in time for us to go out to dinner as usual at Pub on the Common, followed by a trip to Whole Foods.

This wasn't precisely HOW I had planned to spend the last 36 hours (give or take). But honestly, in terms of life disruption, it was remarkably well timed. I'd gotten through the worst of the travel planning. A. didn't have school on Friday anyway, so we just had to cancel her sitter. I didn't want to go to Canobie Lake on a 90 plus degree day anyway. We didn't have a playdate schedule, and the sitter took T. to his Friday afternoon dentist appointment. R. doesn't work on Fridays, and he even still got a long bike ride in. A. is remarkably undistressed by the whole process (the only thing that made her cry was removing the adhesive stuff that kept the EKG leads attached during surgery in post op, and removing the adhesive stuff that kept the IV port in immediately before discharge) -- she actually said she liked the hospital. But she was also very happy to come home. It was crowded and uncomfortable and highly interrupted in the emergency department, but not that much worse than a transatlantic flight. Once we were in the two bed room, I was basically pretty comfortable.

Obviously, we would much rather _not_ have had A. need surgery, but as a friend noted, this is exactly the kind of medical emergency that you want if you're gonna have a medical emergency: time limited, they know just what to do and minimal downstream consequences in virtually all cases (I know a lot of people's appendectomy stories, and I only know of one really bad outcome).

I hope your next medical unpleasantness goes as smoothly as this one did, if you are unlucky enough to have medical unpleasantness (of course I'd rather you were perfectly healthy forever and ever!).

ETA: Here's the post from when I went through a very, very similar experience in 2010:


I just want to point out how awesome it is that (a) the kids are older and (b) our sitters are reliable.

Friday's Activities Include: hospital

Friday started viciously early. A.'s tummy ache woke her up at around 2 a.m. I got R. up to discuss the situation, since this is really, really weird for A., and while she didn't have classic appendicitis symptoms, the whole thing felt way too much like when I had appendicitis a few years ago. We packed up some stuff, and I drove A. down to Emerson. I didn't bother to call anyone; just drove us down, parked and made sure I had chargers and electronic devices to keep us entertained, as well as some food that I ultimately felt too guilty to eat in front of her (and I wasn't all that hungry for a long time anyway).

There was one woman in the waiting room; this was the second hospital she'd taken her husband to (they'd been sent over from Nashoba). So we went straight in, each of us with bands and they stuck is in room 14. Which looked very, very familiar but probably wasn't _actually_ the same room I occupied a half dozen years ago. Different doctor, but mostly the same drill. They stuck an IV port in her right away (I cannot get over how seriously every hospital I ever walk into takes me. It is just bizarre, compared to everyone else's description of their experience), and blood came back with elevated white blood cells so there was no way they were turning us loose any time soon. As small and difficult to manage those emergency department beds are under the best of circumstances, they are even trickier when a plus size middle aged woman and a 9x% almost 8 year old girl are attempting to share it. Oh well; it was better than putting my head down on the tray while sitting in the armchair.

Down to x-ray -- didn't learn anything there. Down to radiology, then off to the potty, where I collected the urine sample they wanted and answered two long standing questions I had about my daughter. When she eliminates, how thorough is she? Answer: very thorough. Couldn't find the appendix on the ultrasound -- things were feeling real familiar now. Again, no secondary sign either (fluid in the general area, etc.). This is the one and only downside of coming in early on in the appendicitis process with a retrocecal appendix.

Next stop: CAT scan. The CAT scan did identify the appendix, it was retrocecal and it was inflamed. I was offered a choice of three possible hospitals for the surgery: Tufts, Children's or MassGen. Ugh. They were willing to let me drive A. or transport her in an ambulance with me in the back. I was marginally happier with the second choice. I didn't want to drive into Boston and I _really_ didn't want to do it on the two plus hours sleep I'd had that night.

Good news tho! Surgeon at Emerson was game to operate on a kid A.'s size (basically, that 9x% percentile is Big Enough to be out of the weird, scary, unpredictable anatomical arrangement that small children often have). No transport needed. By this time, T. was off to school and R. had driven down to the hospital. I went home to get a couple hours sleep, some breakfast and tea and change clothes. I returned around noon to watch A. sleep in post-op. Surgeon sez: appendix removed, it was inflamed but not perforated. Yay! This is _why_ I go in early on this kind of stuff. After I had my appendix out, I realized that I'd stopped having periodic Worst Gas Ever events, which leads me to suspect that I'd actually had earlier flare-ups. Also, _why_ I took this seriously and went in early, when I could have written it off as Just Gas.

I'd had breakfast at home, but not really lunch (some cole slaw, because, cole slaw). We were in post-op for a while. When she finally came up, she was hurting once she was alert, so she went back down with something or other in her IV and that, as near as I can tell, was the last pain meds she needed from the whole event. She slept on and off until dinner. I called early to find out about a parent tray to see if they could accommodate my food allergies (they could -- I had a burger, fries and a side salad, with chips that I handed to her while she was waiting for her tray to arrive). I figured if they couldn't, I'd had R. bring something over. When she woke up and ate some chips, we discussed her food options. I ordered her a grilled cheese (which she balked at when it actually arrived, probably because of the cheese in it) with chips (that I think R. probably ate later on), chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, a bowl of strawberries and chocolate milk. She ate almost everything other than the sandwich. We walked to and from the nurse's station (I pushed her pole, since she was still hooked up at this point). She watched a bunch of PowerPuff Girls (original series episodes). They did eventually unhook her from the IV, after she had eaten and peed in the hat and gone for the walk.

B., T.'s sitter, dropped T. off at the hospital. R. came by after his bike ride and some food. I took T. home, because he was still sad about me being MIA earlier in the day. I did his night time routine, collected some night time clothes and a few other odds and ends (but I forgot a brush for A.'s hair). When A. fell asleep, R. came home and I headed back in to spend the night in A.'s room (it had two beds, but was treated as private, so I got the other bed -- didn't even have to sleep in one of those chairs that fold into a bed, and I didn't have to be in a room with a random stranger).

I couldn't help but think that, while I probably wasn't going to be paying for it (insurance will), this was one of my more expensive overnight stays.
Today I had my Dutch lesson. I drive A. to school. She didn't want to go; she wanted to stay home. She also wanted me to pick her up after, but I couldn't because of the Dutch lesson. C. picked her up instead and A. spent most of the afternoon swimming.

I picked T. up from school to bring him to Whole Foods. Then he went off with B. After A. got home and a little after she'd been to the bathroom, she started complaining of a tummy ache. We gave her some simethicone. She looked a little more comfortable, but said it didn't really help. She did go to sleep quite readily, however. Fingers crossed, amirite?
On Tuesday, there was an Issue involving the van driver. She has a rule about kids not picking up their backpacks. Like dancing leading to ... whatever, picking up backpacks leads to some kind of safety concern. A safety concern greater than, say, adhering to Massachusetts state law and the transportation policy governing this van which state clearly that kiddos under the age of 8 and below a height limit that A. is well below, have to be in some kind of special restraint/booster/whatever, and which the van driver has unilaterally decided is not necessary in this particular case. But, you know, Law and stuff.

This Rule about backpacks has lead to crying on A.'s part now twice. I told A., van driver's van, van driver's rules, because life contains a lot of arbitrariness and you do NOT want to mess with things like the IRS or even the school system on the basis of squirrely ideas like Logic, Morals, Ethics or Hey, Isn't It Obviously the Right Thing to Do. You can win -- but it won't be worth the time, trouble, paperwork and shoveling. This second time, however, A. had obeyed the rule and still her backpack was confiscated because other than her friend R., the rest of the van's passengers had failed to comply so all packs were taken away.

I called the transportation company; they are going to investigate. So far, no one can come up with any explanation why this rule is in any way a good idea, particularly with a van full of rules oriented, anxious, autistic kids. But you know, whatever. In the meantime, I'm driving my own kid to school and biding my time before I point out that the driver is violating state law and company policy.

I was going to drive A. in to school today anyway, because she had her physical today. Everything is great! No shots this time; there will be a dtap booster next year. We're supposed to work on toothbrushing in the morning as well as in the evening, to establish a healthy lifetime routine. Seems reasonable.

I picked up a pizza at DiCapri's and brought it to T.'s school for lunch today and Thursday, and then I picked up A. to bring her home for a playdate, the last one this week.
I sort of forgot to eat breakfast. Which is to say I ate half of the apple I was peeling and chopping for A.'s breakfast, then headed out on a walk and only belatedly realized I didn't have anything else to eat. Then, I meant to do the one mile loop, but I ran into someone I've been chatting with as I pass her house for years, only this time she was headed out for a walk and we wound up walking about three miles. Lovely, lovely woman, and it turns out we have way more in common than I had realized. I got home in time to go back out with M., for one mile, then a blessed sit down and play games. At noon, A. and one sitter arrived. At one, D. and her kids arrived for a playdate and D. and I did the 3 mile walk. At around this point, I realized I had hit 20K steps, and not by doing things around the house. Yikes. T. came home around 2:30, and everyone else more or less left at the same time.

I cooked some bacon (with A.'s sitter watching it while we walked). I had lunch before that (pb&j on cinnamon raisin ezekiel bread, with cole slaw. Because, cole slaw). Somewhere in there I ran the dishwasher and did a load of laundry, including the pillow case from T.'s bed which appears to have blood on it, so I suppose I'll have to start asking about that next (not much, so it isn't one of those terrifying nose bleeds that my sister got for a while when she was young).

I had sort of hoped to get more decluttering done, but not with this level of exhaustion. I'm going to lie around and read trashy novels for an hour and then go have an early dinner.

The weather today is very lovely: high 70s/low 80s and not crazy humid. This is MUCH better than the last several days.
Canceled: one sitter
Delayed: the cleaner came in the afternoon instead of the morning; book group was moved to next Monday

I took two games (Don't Spill the Beans and Honey Bee Tree) to the preschool to donate them. I bought them when my son was there and they are useful to some of the therapies they do so I checked with an FB friend who we know from there and she said bring 'em by. I did, and on the way got to see a half dozen people my kids used to learn from and collected numerous hugs. Very pleasant start to the day!

One sitter canceled due to illness (she's better than yesterday so I feel optimism and did not call in a backup sitter). The other sitter came by earlier to help out and cover the playdate, which was nice. It was 90 degrees out, which was not so nice, in terms of walking, but D. and I went anyway.

The girls got out all the rubber duckies to watch them draw and do some other stuff. It was kind of fun to watch. We apparently have a lot of duckies.

After the playdate was over, A. wanted to play Tier Auf Tier. I'm getting better at it, but it is still remarkably tricky to play. One of the decluttering benefits is we can now find, play, and put away again some of the many awesome games we have had lying around various shelves in various rooms in the house.
Both kids went (separately) to therapeutic riding today, after two weeks off (the holiday and then a horse show that was for the other side of the stable). It was nice to get to see my friends again, and to relay invitations to T.'s birthday party/collect contact information. MIL came along to both and was dropped off at Bertucci's in between so T. and I could have lunch with her.

T. says he needs a helmet at school this summer, because they will be scootering. I thought, hmmm. That implies a second helmet, because otherwise, he'll never have his helmet at home when he needs it (works this way with snow clothes, too). I had him try on his helmet, so I could figure out whether to duplicate it or size up. I went with the size up option. Actually, I had him try my helmet on and bought him an adult helmet, because we all have large heads.

I'm continuing to going through kids toys, books, puzzles and crafts. I filled one kitchen trash bag with a particular kind of toy (stuffed animal plus, but not furbies) that no one has played with in over a year and which I would vastly prefer no one ever played with again. Then I lost my nerve and stashed it in the basement to age for a couple months before sending it along to the Middle Class Guilt Reduction Station. I bagged up some of the floor puzzles to go to the bins, along with Still More Books. I think I have successfully collected all the craft boxes in one place, where it now lives near the Educational Crap and the art equipment. The games are now living near the musical stuff. The books are all going up to the second floor, because the primary reading time seems to be evening around here, and I figure I want stuff on the first floor to be social and easy to put away, neither of which applies to books. It is slightly amazing how the longer I work on this particular project, the more of it there appears to be.

I gave one of my iPad minis (possibly the first one) to MIL years ago. It bricked itself, so she's getting T.'s iPad since he prefers mine (better screen) and won't play on his own any more (his is old, altho not as old as that mini was). I asked T. if he wanted a new iPad for his birthday and he seemed excited about that. I'm kind of excited about not having to share my iPad with him.

When driving to and from the horse, MIL didn't want the windows open because her hair blows around; T. prefers open windows to A/C unless it is around 90. For the first trip, I went with A/C, but then on the way home, we had MIL sit in the back (those windows don't open) and T. sat in the front and we had windows down. Hair wasn't a problem. MIL lives in Florida most of the year so she seems okay with the heat. And T. was excited because he could easily read the screen. Which made me go, hmmm. Probably time to get your eyes checked again, because I'm thinking you got the family myopia.

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