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What an age we live in!

[Update 11/20/14: The newspaper just ran a story on the man in this post.  The link is here.]

A few weeks ago, I discovered that my city has installed a system of paved trails for walkers and bicyclists, going around the outskirts of the city.  One leg of it is just a little ways from my house, a short distance from my gym.  We’re on the edge of town, so just a short ways from my house is prairie and farm fields, making the trail beautiful even right next to the highway.  It’s become my new favorite bicycling route.

Today, I saw a guy–probably around retirement age–with no legs, but with a special bike: It was set up so he could use his hands to turn the wheels.  When I was growing up, losing a limb or two meant crutches and wheelchairs.  Now, it means prosthetic limbs (Star Wars finally turned to science fact) and special bicycles.  Even autistic kids who can’t talk, can finally communicate using computers, as we discover that autism does not mean mental retardation as we had thought.

What a miraculous age!

From the newspaper article:

Often accompanied by his two black Labrador dogs, Floyd Freiberg is among the most frequent users of the Loop despite the fact he’s missing his legs. A rare nerve and muscle disease caused him to lose both legs by age 62.

“The prognosis I was given by my doctors in 1999 was that I’d only live about 10 more years,” Freiberg said, noting the disease is killing his muscles and nerves.

Freiberg, 69, who is retired from a cabinetry and home-building supply business that his father started, is still with us because he’s relentless about exercising daily to keep the muscles that he still has.

….”I go too fast a pace for my dogs to keep up,” he says, noting his trail speed averages 12 miles per hour. “I mainly take them with me on errands around town.”

In addition to helping postpone the advancement of his muscle disease, the exercise routine Freiberg maintains has helped him lose 30 pounds and rid his body of the diabetes that he once had.

….”He’s very determined,” he observed. “He’ll go out kayaking no matter what the weather or the waves. He’s fallen out many times and his family members have rescued him many times. He’s the kindest, most soft-spoken gentleman I know. He’s become a good friend and an inspiration to me.”

He often passes me on my manual bike!



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FOUR Resurrections in “Glorious Appearing”: LB Review–part 2

For pages 354 to 356, oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we stick the Rapture and the Resurrection before the Tribulation!  (And when we make the Rapture separate from the Resurrection.)  Where do I start?  This is so convoluted and imaginary.  Get this scheme of things, which in all my years of being a premillennial dispensationalist, never cropped up in anything I heard or read about the End of Days:

First, you have the Rapture, which is the beginning of error, because it is not biblical and mangles the doctrines and timelines of the Second Coming and Resurrection.  Then this Rapture applies only to Christians and not to Old Testament saints.

Then the authors split the Resurrection into two resurrections, one of life and one of death (condemnation).  Um, I thought they were supposed to happen at the same time for everyone, after the Tribulation and at the end of time, then we’d all be judged, and some would go to Heaven and some would go to Hell.

But the first resurrection (of life) gets split still further, with timing depending on when you lived.

Christians who died before the Rapture are resurrected at the Rapture, Resurrection #1.

Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs are resurrected between the Glorious Appearing (ie, Christ coming to stop Armageddon) and the Millennium, Resurrection #2.

(Like they did between the Rapture and the Tribulation, the authors have inserted an interval here which they seem to have pulled out of their butts.  And what about Christians who died of natural causes during the Tribulation, so aren’t martyrs?)

The Millennium believers are resurrected at the end of the Millennium, even though they’re all still alive (yes, the book points this out), Resurrection #3.

But all the condemned are resurrected at once no matter when they lived: after the Millennium, during the Great White Throne Judgment, Resurrection #4.

FOUR Resurrections???!!!

On page 357, we read, “…[A]pparently it was God’s intent that the Millennium start with a clean slate.  All unbelievers would soon die.”  All unbelievers are doomed, doomed, doomed!

On page 358, we read, “The various groups of believers might find each other, but what were they to do?  Would there be enough of them to start rebuilding the country as, finally for real, a Christian nation?”  Oh, they get their theocracy!  You often hear from the religious right that we’re a “Christian nation,” even though we are pluralist.  Then we find that everyone is to live in Israel.  So they don’t even get to choose where to live?

On page 363, the authors totally misinterpret Christ’s representation of the sheep vs. the goats (Matt. 25:31-46).  We read,

“Some call this a Semitic jugment,” Eleazar said.  “Jesus will judge you Gentiles on how you have treated His chosen people.  Those who honored the Jews are the sheep, and those who did not are the goats.”

NO, NO, NO!  The passage is very clear on what is meant: The sheep showed love for other people–Jew or Gentile–by treating them as if they were Christ, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, that sort of thing.  The goats showed disdain for other people by being selfish and self-centered.

Don’t make this into some political statement about Christian Zionism, let’s all vote for the Republican Party so we don’t get labeled a goat, when it’s really about love for one’s fellow man!  Especially since for centuries, there was no political Israel.  And before Israel existed, there was no Israel, period.

The story of the sheep and goats says absolutely nothing about nations or Jews or Gentiles–or, for that matter, religions, period.  (Realizing this fact is one of the first things that got me wondering if I had been taught correctly about the Judgment, which ultimately led me to Orthodoxy, which also recognizes that this passage is not about correct religion, but love toward one’s fellow man.)

In United States politics, Christian Zionism is important because it mobilises an important Republican constituency: fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants who support Israel. The Democratic Party, which has the support of most American Jews, is also generally pro-Israel, but with less intensity and fewer theological underpinnings.  Christian Zionism

Then after this heresy we find the grammatical heresy of Eleazar saying “When Jesus slayed all his enemies.”  Slayed?

Pages 364 to 365 demonstrate the worst heresy of Calvinism–and the reason why I could no longer, in good conscience, believe the stringent Evangelical/Fundamentalist teachings about the Judgment (and discovered, to my delight, that even the Catholics and the Orthodox are not nearly so strict):

Priscilla Sebastian says, “But it doesn’t sound like there will be much to judge [at the Great White Throne Judgment].  People either received Christ as their Savior, or they didn’t.”  Eleazar replies,

Right, but we believe that God, being wise and fair and wanting to demonstrate how far men and women fall short of His standard, will judge them based on their own works.  Obviously, all will fail to measure up.  This will show that the punishment is deserved, and as I have said, they will be sent to the lake of fire for eternity.

So how do you know they’re all going to fail?

The Orthodox view is that unbelievers are judged according to the natural law, the law written on the conscience which every human being has.  We are naturally good; to sin is to act against our nature. Habitual sins can dull the conscience; the conscience is also the means by which unbelievers can ultimately be saved.  The goal is not man’s praise, but pleasing God.  This is based on Romans 2:14-16 and 29.

Also, those of us who are aware of the Mosaic Law (particularly the moral one, which still stands) are also aware that it is impossible to keep it perfectly; it cannot make us righteous.  We are accountable to both the natural and Mosaic Law.   Those who “become righteous by grace through faith fulfill in Christ both the natural and the Mosaic Law” (pp. 341-343, The Orthodox Study Bible).

Jesus Christ’s Parable of the Last Judgment (Matt.25:31-46) indicates that for many people the Judgment will become a moment of insight, recognition and conversion, while for others it may turn out to be a great disappointment and frustration.

Those who were sure of their own salvation will suddenly find themselves condemned, while those who perhaps did not meet Christ in their earthly life (‘when did we see Thee?’) but were merciful towards their neighbour, will be saved.

In this parable, the King does not ask people about matters of belief, doctrine and religious practice. He does not ask them whether they went to church, kept the fasts, or prayed for long time: He only asks them how they treated His ‘brethren’. The main criteria of the Judgment are therefore the acts of mercy performed or not performed by people during their earthly lives.

According to the teaching of the Church, the Last Judgment will be universal: all people will undergo it, be they believers or non-believers, Christians or non-Christians. If Christians will be judged by the Gospel’s standards, pagans will be judged by the natural law which is ‘written in their hearts’ (Rom.2:15).

Christians will take full responsibility for their deeds as those who ‘knew’ the will of God, while some non-Christians will be treated less strictly for they did not know God or His will. The Judgment will ‘begin with the household of the Lord’ (1 Pet.4:17), that is, with the Church and its members, and not with those who did not meet Christ nor hear the message of the Gospel.  –The Last Judgment

Also see:

An Orthodox Christian View of Non-Christian Religions–Rev. Dr. George C. Papademetriou (Greek)

What about other Christians? (OCA)

Will the Heterodox Be Saved?–Archimandrite (Metropolitan) Philaret

The Catholic view:


Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions–Pope Paul VI

Can people from other faiths be saved?

World Religions: A primer for Catholics

Vatican II for Gen-Xers

Can Non-Christians be Saved?

So, in the Orthodox view, what does it mean that Christ is the “Way, the Truth and the Life”?  It does not mean that belief in Christ is the only way to Heaven, or that Christ is a gatekeeper keeping out the unbelievers.  (One Orthodox forum poster jokingly referred to this belief as “Bouncer of Heaven.”)  Rather, it means that Christ is the Judge of who receives salvation.

How will people be judged if they were not properly taught about Christ?  We don’t know.  But, as my priest says, we who were properly taught have the responsibility to believe/live the faith, be an example of it, and pray for those who are not Christians.

And how do the Orthodox answer the question, “What’s the point of missions, then, if good Muslims/Hindus/etc. can go to Heaven anyway?” The point of missions is not to get spiritual notches on your witness belt, or to increase believer counts, or to snatch people out of Hell. Our eternal life begins now, not in Heaven, and here we begin sanctification (“theosis”).  The point of missions is to spiritually feed the church and then the people outside the church, getting them started on theosis right here and now.

“You ask, will the heterodox be saved….Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your own sins…” –St. Theophan the Recluse

To be continued……

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My blog post ended up in the Lawsuit Archive for Julie Anne’s blog :)

I’ve just been reading through the archive put together by Brad Sargent on Julie Anne Smith’s blog, when right at the very end of part 3, I found my own blog post, BGBC: Chuck Smith’s Counter-Blog Proves Julie Anne Smith is Telling the Truth.

I was surprised because after conversations with Julie Anne, I expected to be posting this as a comment to the archive.  I had a prepared comment which removed the comments relating it to my own situation.  But hey–guess I won’t have to bother after all…..  [Update 11/22/14: This was fixed.]

And we all support each other, lifting each other up as we struggle to heal from our various abusive situations….

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“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”–Galatians 4:16


I’m not sure where this image originated, but I found it on the BGBC Defamation Lawsuit Archive on Julie Anne Smith’s blog.  I also found it on some Tea Party site, but I am so NOT linking there.  :P

This is for anybody who’s a whistleblower.  On Smith’s blog, it was used to illustrate spiritual abuse, and how the congregation can turn on the one who realizes they’re being led astray.

Julie Anne Smith is going through this right now, since her former pastor sued her for defamation (and lost) because of her blog, and she still gets attacked through online comments from her former fellow congregants.

Heck, Chuck O’Neal himself (the former pastor) has even started his own counter-blog from outrage over losing both in court and in public opinion.  He and his wife have escalated their campaign to vindicate themselves, taking it to ridiculous levels.  He even used the URL of Julie Anne’s original blog (before she switched from Blogger to WordPress), changing it from blogspot.com to .org, obviously to fool people into finding his blog instead.

I’ve seen the counter-blog, and it convinced me that Julie Anne is telling the truth!  He’s so blinded by his own megalomania and abuse that he doesn’t even recognize how it shows through everything he posted!  From the above linked archive:

As I have noted elsewhere in this Archive, one wonders if anything would actually have satisfied Mr. O’Neal in his craving and quest for “protecting and defending” his family and his church.

Wherever that urge and urgency comes from, it seems to have driven him to great lengths to refute the alleged lies of his nemeses – Julie Anne Smith and Meaghan Varela – with everything he can. In addition to his church-related duties, he spent time with press releases and documents and other tasks related to preparing for the lawsuit.

He was already required to pay over $60,000 in the defendants’ court costs and attorneys’ fees, along with his own courts costs and fees for the services of at least three lawyers. But what could have been next – once the lawsuit had been dismissed?

It turns out that he is continuing the battle that he believes he has been called to engage in. His ongoing campaign deeply involves his family and his church in further activities. Some of these have been relatively predictable, while others have been quite unexpected….

According to the O’Neal’s website, Mrs. O’Neal created business cards that label Meaghan Varela and Julie Anne Smith as liars. These cards were designed to be handed out, used in public, perhaps even slipped under car windshield wipers.

The BGBC “Mothers Who Will Not Be Silenced!” campaign also now features magnetic van-vertisements for display on vehicles, with the all-caps slogans: “LEAVE MY CHILDREN ALONE!” and “I AM A TRUE SURVIVOR” plus the O’Neals’ website address.

From Julie Anne’s blog:

The story of spiritual abuse needs to be told. People are being hurt emotionally and spiritually by pastors who use bully tactics and we need a place to learn, to talk freely, and to heal. I will not be silenced. (source)

“I will not be silenced”–Hey, that’s what I said!  ;)



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Want to Fix Childhood Obesity? Stop Driving Your Kids to School!

I found this news article and just had to laugh:
Movin’ and Munchin’

Basically, this elementary school does a ten-minute walk around for the kids every morning as a way to fight childhood obesity and sedentary habits.

Um….How about we all let our kids WALK to school every morning?  You know, like we Gen-Xers and all the generations before us did?  Train your children in proper safety rules, teach them the way, and then LET THEM GO!  They’ll get all the exercise they need to start the day off right.  If you’re more than a mile away but (like our school system) even little kids don’t get bussed, then you can drop them off a few blocks away from school.  That way they can get their exercise, while you avoid the traffic congestion.

I taught my son systematically.  First, we all went on daily walks for half the year each year, in the warmer months, starting long before he was born.  When he could no longer be held in by a stroller, he learned how to walk safely.  Then when he started 4-K, I walked him there every day (except in cold weather for the first year, when there were people to help drive him, since it was about a mile and a half), pulling him in a wagon.

In Kindergarten, I started teaching him to walk on his own, teaching him the rules, teaching him the way.  It was too far (a mile and a quarter) and he was too headstrong to go on his own that young, but I taught him systematically, eventually letting him go on his own for the last block, then the last two blocks, etc. etc., watching him as he went.

Eventually, he had learned and started obeying all the safety rules, I had drilled stranger rules and his own address etc. into his head for years, and he knew the way quite well, because he was in second? grade and had been doing this for quite a while.  So I let him begin walking on his own to and from school every day, only coming to pick him up in warmer weather so I can chat with the “kaffeeklatch.”

Now, in third grade, he’s an old pro and my initial worries have subsided….Though I gave him his own cell phone because I like having that little umbilical cord attached.  ;)  It allows him to call me if a friend wants to give him a ride home, or me to call him if I go to pick him up but we miss each other.

Then there’s the traffic congestion at the Kiss ‘n Drop for my son’s school.  It was supposed to make things better, but instead it’s gotten so bad that parents are now restricted in how they use it.

I first noticed school congestion when living across from a middle school in the late 90s/early 00s.  I wondered at it, because when I was in elementary/middle school, all you saw were busses and teachers’ cars.  And I grew up in a city with cold winters and 70+ inches of snow each year.  Not until high school did you see a bunch of cars for students, but that was because a lot of them were now 16+, had licenses and old Beetle cars, and wanted to drive themselves to school.

I walked 8 blocks to my first school, by myself.  When I switched in third grade to a school for the gifted and had to be bussed across town, I walked by myself to the bus stop.  The bus stop changed every year; I learned the new stop each year.  And most of the other kids did the same: You either were bussed, or you walked, even in Kindergarten.  You were expected to get there on your own.

We knew about stranger danger; in Kindergarten or first grade, some guy pulled up beside me and opened his door, but I just kept on walking, because I knew better.  And yes, we DID have crime back then.  We had abductions, everything.  That’s why we were taught stranger danger back in 1978.  Heck, I believe it was taught long before then.  None of this “things were different back then.”  No, they were not.

I lived in a city of 100,000; we had a ghetto; we had crime.  But I never heard of any of my classmates getting abducted.  Teach them to “trust their gut.”  Teach them safety rules.  Then eventually, you have to let the little birdies out of the nest on their own, or they’ll never learn to fly.

Children are more capable than these modern parents seem to realize.  We need to help them become more self-sufficient, so they can grow into self-assured adults who don’t need Mommy to hold their hand in interviews or scold their college professors, or need their counselors to choose their courses for them.  Stop the helicoptering!  It creates wusses!  ;)

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Raising Children Successfully Without Abuse, Spanking, Violence or Screaming

This blog has just been started: Potty Mouth Parenting.  Don’t let the title fool you: She’s not advocating cussing at children, just likes to cuss while explaining parenting skills to parents.  :)  Not only does she promote childrearing without the use of any form of violence or screaming, but she has years of experience as a nanny and in other such environments.

Also on Facebook.

Quotes from her blogs:

You know how I tell you “NO FREAKING OUT?” Nowhere is that more important than here.

Does your child sometimes seem as if they may need an exorcism? Have they mastered that high pitch squeal that gets the neighborhood dogs barking? Does it seem like your child is intentionally trying to embarrass you in public? Can they cry for hours on end? Do they tell you “NO!” like a billion times? Great! Congratulations, you have a typically developing child!

Temper tantrums are one of the “givens” in parenting. They ARE going to happen. They are. So get used to it…..Your child is counting on you not to break.  They are counting on you to be the constant.  They are counting on you to be completely stable.

People buy A LOT of crap that they don’t need.  It’s our consumer lifestyle.  So, I thought I’d share with you a bunch of crap you can buy that is actually useful.

The first thing you need is a good, sturdy, tiny-butt toilet seat.  I am vehemently opposed to the “potty chair.”  You’re teaching your child to use the toilet, not shit in a bucket, so use the damn toilet.

I suggest replacing all of your toilet seats with one that has an integrated child seat.   Like this one.  Bemis makes them for round and oval toilets, they run about $40 each.  Well worth it in my opinion.  I’m sure other manufacturers make them as well, just look around for one to fit your toilet, it’s out there.  Depending on how old your child is, and their size, you could need the child seat for quite awhile.  The integrated child seat makes it so easy.

The point I want to make here is that if your child is showing signs that they are upset, for whatever reason it may be, it’s worth taking the time to show a little empathy. Doing so not only teaches them that they are valued and loved, and that their feelings are important, but it also shows them what empathy looks like.

So when they see someone who is upset, they will know how to respond. They will know that feelings are not “bad” or “scary.” They will become emotionally competent adults. What a fucking concept, huh?

OR try this on for size, your significant other of 10 years up and leaves you, or you get fired from your job, or a loved one dies. Then, I come over and say, “You’re fine. Stop crying.”

You can’t be mad when your child has an accident.  You knew it was bound to happen.  I don’t care if it is annoying, or time consuming, or gross, or inconvenient.  Suck it up.

I know adults who have shit their pants for one reason or another.  I know A LOT of women who pee every time they sneeze.  The point is you’re not immune to accidents because you’re an adult, so stop acting like you are, snob.  What are you, every James Spader character from the ‘80s?

While I certainly hope that you have fewer accidents than your child does, you’re not better than they are because statistically you don’t crap your pants as much as they do.  Also important to keep in mind, kids don’t like to shit themselves any more than you do.  They already feel bad enough, so keep your damn mouth shut.

I once heard a parent threaten to spank her child if she had an accident.  As if that poor child would do it on purpose!  There were plenty of other things about that mother’s parenting that made me finally report her to CPS a couple of years ago.


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Why Americans Should Demand Socialized Medicine

It’s gotten so only the rich, those on Medicare and the insured can afford health care.  Must everyone else just suffer and die from poor health, because of the outrageous prices of American health care for the uninsured?  It’s not the cost of the services–it’s profiteering by the hospitals!  Meanwhile, Medicare is able to negotiate much lower, more reasonable prices for services, paying far less than the original bill, leaving the patient with a much smaller bill as well.

Simply making everyone buy insurance or be fined, is not going to solve the problem.  Going to a single-payer system, on the other hand, could be the only thing that would.

We saw some of the outrageous prices outlined in this article, in my husband’s medical bills after surgery.  Since we have insurance now, we got “discounts,” then insurance payments, helping make them still outrageous but not nearly as bad.  (They started at nearly $20,000!)  But we also have a high deductible to help us pay the insurance premiums.

What if my past issues come back and I need yet another surgery to prevent cervical cancer?  My husband needs to make regular visits to the doctor, several times a year, for one of those overinflated tests, to make sure he doesn’t get cancer–what if he does get it?  Do we just let the cancer take over because we’re not rich?

People who glibly say things like, “If you’re having problems with health/mental health/learning disorders, then obviously you should do the responsible thing and get it checked out and diagnosed,” obviously have good insurance.

Lots of us are forced to do our own diagnoses (for such things as irritable bowels, learning disorders, or PTSD) and our own treatments (diet changes, reading about it, writing about it, pushing our dislocated shoulder back in place and wearing a sling) because we just plain can’t afford doctors, even though we are suffering from lack of treatment.

And we’re treated like we’re just leeches, with terms like “entitlements” and “lazy” and “thieves” and “communists,” when we ask for more government help.  The current system benefits no one but the hospitals–and their CEOs.

See this article in TIME by Steven Brill, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Taken as a whole, these powerful institutions and the bills they churn out dominate the nation’s economy and put demands on taxpayers to a degree unequaled anywhere else on earth. In the U.S., people spend almost 20% of the gross domestic product on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries. Yet in every measurable way, the results our health care system produces are no better and often worse than the outcomes in those countries.

According to one of a series of exhaustive studies done by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm, we spend more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia. We may be shocked at the $60 billion price tag for cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. We spent almost that much last week on health care.

We spend more every year on artificial knees and hips than what Hollywood collects at the box office. We spend two or three times that much on durable medical devices like canes and wheelchairs, in part because a heavily lobbied Congress forces Medicare to pay 25% to 75% more for this equipment than it would cost at Walmart.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 10 of the 20 occupations that will grow the fastest in the U.S. by 2020 are related to health care. America’s largest city may be commonly thought of as the world’s financial-services capital, but of New York’s 18 largest private employers, eight are hospitals and four are banks.

Employing all those people in the cause of curing the sick is, of course, not anything to be ashamed of. But the drag on our overall economy that comes with taxpayers, employers and consumers spending so much more than is spent in any other country for the same product is unsustainable. Health care is eating away at our economy and our treasury.

On pages 8 and 9, see how attempts to bring costs down were derailed by spurious criticisms of creating “death panels”:

Peter Bach, an epidemiologist at Sloan-Kettering who has also advised several health-policy organizations, reported in a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article that Medicare’s spending on the category dominated by cancer drugs ballooned from $3 billion in 1997 to $11 billion in 2004. Bach says costs have continued to increase rapidly and must now be more than $20 billion.

With that escalating bill in mind, Bach was among the policy experts pushing for provisions in Obamacare to establish a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to expand comparative-effectiveness research efforts. Through painstaking research, doctors would try to determine the comparative effectiveness not only of drugs but also of procedures like CT scans.

However, after all the provisions spelling out elaborate research and review processes were embedded in the draft law, Congress jumped in and added eight provisions that restrict how the research can be used. The prime restriction: Findings shall “not be construed as mandates for practice guidelines, coverage recommendations, payment, or policy recommendations.”
With those 14 words, the work of Bach and his colleagues was undone. And costs remain unchecked.

“Medicare could see the research and say, Ah, this drug works better and costs the same or is even cheaper,” says Gunn, Sloan-Kettering’s chief operating officer. “But they are not allowed to do anything about it.”

Along with another doomed provision that would have allowed Medicare to pay a fee for doctors’ time spent counseling terminal patients on end-of-life care (but not on euthanasia), the Obama Administration’s push for comparative effectiveness is what brought opponents’ cries that the bill was creating “death panels.”

Washington bureaucrats would now be dictating which drugs were worth giving to which patients and even which patients deserved to live or die, the critics charged.

….If covered by Medicare, Janice S.’s $21,000 bill would have been deeply discounted and, as is standard, Medicare would have picked up 80% of the reduced cost. The bottom line is that Janice S. would probably have ended up paying $500 to $600 for her 20% share of her heart-attack scare. And she would have paid only a fraction of that — maybe $100 — if, like most Medicare beneficiaries, she had paid for supplemental insurance to cover most of that 20%.

In fact, those numbers would seem to argue for lowering the Medicare age, not raising it — and not just from Janice S.’s standpoint but also from the taxpayers’ side of the equation. That’s not a liberal argument for protecting entitlements while the deficit balloons. It’s just a matter of hardheaded arithmetic.

….The only way this would not work is if 64-year-olds started using health care services they didn’t need. They might be tempted to, because, as we saw with Alan A., Medicare’s protection is so broad and supplemental private insurance costs so little that it all but eliminates patients’ obligation to pay the 20% of outpatient-care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover.

To deal with that, a provision could be added requiring that 64-year-olds taking advantage of Medicare could not buy insurance freeing them from more than, say, 5% or 10% of their responsibility for the bills, with the percentage set according to their wealth. It would be a similar, though more stringent, provision of the kind I’ve already suggested for current Medicare beneficiaries as a way to cut the cost of people overusing benefits.

If that logic applies to 64-year-olds, then it would seem to apply even more readily to healthier 40-year-olds or 18-year-olds. This is the single-payer approach favored by liberals and used by most developed countries.

….The real issue isn’t whether we have a single payer or multiple payers. It’s whether whoever pays has a fair chance in a fair market. Congress has given Medicare that power when it comes to dealing with hospitals and doctors, and we have seen how that works to drive down the prices Medicare pays, just as we’ve seen what happens when Congress handcuffs Medicare when it comes to evaluating and buying drugs, medical devices and equipment.

Stripping away what is now the sellers’ overwhelming leverage in dealing with Medicare in those areas and with private payers in all aspects of the market would inject fairness into the market. We don’t have to scrap our system and aren’t likely to. But we can reduce the $750 billion that we overspend on health care in the U.S. in part by acknowledging what other countries have: because the health care market deals in a life-or-death product, it cannot be left to its own devices.

Put simply, the bills tell us that this is not about interfering in a free market. It’s about facing the reality that our largest consumer product by far — one-fifth of our economy — does not operate in a free market.

Brill’s ideas for fixing the problem are on page 11; he does not endorse a specific kind of system, single vs. multiple payer.  His criticisms are not just against Republicans, but against Democrats and Obamacare.  His ideas involve forcing costs down.


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On speaking out about abuse at risk of being sued by abuser: Paul Grenier

There was and still appears to be today, by Bob’s filing of this defamation action, a complete and utter lack of taking responsibility for his actions. Bob blames everyone else for his actions whether it be that a 5 year old made him angry, a 15 year old did not do a task exactly as he described, or in present day, that Alex has re-told these instances of abuse that Bob committed, it is always someone else’s fault.

Bob has never shown any mercy toward me, Alex, and Geoffrey, in contrast, people treat their animals better than Bob treated us, yet once again Bob is the victim in this matter. The only thing Bob is a victim of is his own actions. Bob is angry he cannot intimidate us into silence any longer.

Those days are long over and the scared children Bob abused now have a voice and are grown men and are well within their right to share what we endured. If Bob did not want to be labeled a child abuser and a child molester; my advice would have been not to engage in those actions toward children.

…I would like to take this opportunity to state that I believe Gayle is projecting her fears of Bob onto Alex. I believe Robert and Gayle are as much victims of Bob’s violence as Alex, Geoffrey, and me. While I do not believe Robert and Gayle’s accounts of there being no abuse in our home are true, I believe they both are suffering from some inability to come to terms with the abuse they endured at the hands of Bob.

It is again, my hope, that Gayle, will find the strength and determination to break this cycle of violence and receive counseling and therapy so that she too can live a normal and happy life. I believe all humans are entitled to that basic right and I am deeply saddened that she feels she has no option other than to stay and cover for a child molester and child abuser. I cannot imagine the toll that must take on her daily. However, it is not uncommon as we know, for the victims and spouses of the perpetrators to cover for them.

…While I was not present for every visit Gayle had with my niece, Ashley Joye (Ashley), I do agree that it is Gayle that terminated her relationship with Alex and Ashley. I believe she was forced to do so by Bob.

I believe this to be true because her mother, my grandmother, the late Ruth Folkert (Ruth), told me that Bob had forced her to cut ties with Alex and his daughter and that anything less was unacceptable. Ruth was living with Bob and Gayle at this time.

Ruth and I would communicate privately as she told me on a number of occasions that if Bob found out she was talking to me she would be kicked out of their home and she emphatically stated she was scared of the consequences of his finding out about her speaking with me. Ruth also had a similar conversation with my sister-in-law, Amy, wherein Ruth repeated similar statements about her fear of Bob and the consequences she would suffer if he were to become aware of her private communications with us. –From Paul Grenier’s affidavit, in support of his brother Alex, who is being sued by Bob Grenier for libel for blogging about Bob’s abuses

A couple of interesting paragraphs from dee in a thread on The Wartburg Watch about the Grenier lawsuit:

Actually, the online blogging community has been the reason that these cases are finally getting the attention that they deserve. Before, one was reliant on word of mouth and  an entrenched media that could choose what and what not to publish.

Blogging is changing the face of cover up and churches have had a hard time adjusting. Two famous recent suits-Julie Anne Smith-BGBC and Tom Rich-FBC Jax Watchdog have been decided decisvely in favor of the bloggers.This is precedent setting.

Slander does not work in these cases. It is important to understand that slander, libel, etc are legal definitions. Churches throw this around willy nilly and are often surprised to find out the the law allows you to say really, really bad things about others so long as you have a reason to believe it is true.

So, if Paul believes Bob molested him and has some reason to believe it to be true, then Bob has not been slandered, defamed, whatever. However, if on this blog I accused Joel Osteen of being a cross dresser, and I know that he is not a cross dresser, then I could get in big trouble.

So long as one writes, or says, what one believes to be true, then there is no recourse for the other side unless they can prove that the person is deliberately lying.

….Which explains why I continue to write so freely on my blog here about my own abusive experiences, despite being threatened with a lawsuit.  Everything I’ve been writing is the truth, or what I believe to be the truth.

And because everything I write I believe to be the truth–for various reasons which I have already written, and because of the evidence of e-mails and IRC conversations which I have saved–Tracy cannot prove me to be knowingly writing deliberate lies, because I am not knowingly writing deliberate lies.

Basically, for it to be legal slander/defamation/libel, I would have to know they were false and write them anyway.  Every single thing I have written here and on my website, which they have read, I believe to be true.

(There were a few things which were clearly marked as speculation; I wrote them because I believed them to be very probable/true, for reasons given, and anyone could read my reasons and determine if they were valid or not.  If I knew them to be false, I would never have written them.  And I still believe them to be very probable/true.)

Fake names are also used; they’ve kept their anonymity.  And anyone else I might tell–priest, friend, family member–I will not have lied to them, either.  So she has absolutely no legal basis for her threats.

The courts cannot infringe on my free speech rights.  No, her threat was meant to frighten, intimidate and silence the victim, and it’s not the first time she’s tried to intimidate me into silence.  In my full story, I detail more than once how she tried to silence me from telling my husband about her abuse (including 7/1/10 and her fury over me telling my husband in January 2008 about her abuses), and how Richard also made some snide comment (6/28/10) about me confiding in my own husband about how they were bullying me.

No, such threats are common from abusers when their victims tell what the abusers did.  The victims need to lose their fear and tell anyway.  Then, perhaps, the victims’ wounds can begin to heal, because justice of some sort has been done.

The kind of justice depends on the kind of abuse: For example, Jerry Sandusky’s victims got justice.  Richard’s daughter got justice because she told the police what he did to her.  Julie Anne Smith got justice by blogging about her story of spiritual abuse; she did not expect to get sued, but when she did, she won.  In the case of emotional/psychological abuse, which is what I’m dealing with, my justice has been done simply by my having the courage to tell my story and keep telling it despite threats.


Technical Virginity and the Christian Single

This topic has been big among Christian teenagers since at least as far back as my own teens.  I got very upset when my fiancé Phil told me he’d had oral sex with two previous girlfriends.  I saw it as plainly sex (as a Christian, I always believed my future husband and I would save ourselves for each other).

But he and one or two friends told me they didn’t see it as sex.  Phil–who made a big deal about going through a few years of sex education in high school and “knowing better” than I did–also believed that dry humping was not sex, either–even though it seemed a lot like it–because it didn’t involve “penetration” and the clothes stayed on.

Meanwhile, I did not realize that if what he did was “sex,” then I had engaged in “sex” as well–a different kind, but still sex–with my friend Shawn.

There are various activities Christian teens engage in to avoid “fornication” while also satisfying their lusts with each other.  But are they right to call themselves virgins?

I don’t believe they are.  Giving someone an orgasm is a basic element of sex.  Just think about it: If a lesbian has had several lovers but never vaginal sex, can you honestly call her a virgin?  Even Wikipedia, in its article on sexual intercourse (which I won’t link to because it has pictures), includes oral sex as “intercourse.”

For Christian teens and young adults who want to save themselves for marriage, playing the game of “Don’t go past here, and you can still keep your virginity” is a dangerous one, and hardly God-honoring.  Don’t think, “How far can we go without having actual sex?”  Instead, think, “I don’t have the right to damage his/her purity.”

See these articles:

Can you get pregnant without having vaginal sex?  (Answer: possibly!)

USA Today article on Teens and Technical Virginity

Losing It–What is Virginity?

Medical Definitions of Sex

Technical Virginity and the Definition of Sex

Magical Cups and Bloody Brides: Virginity in Context  (The authors of this website have many viewpoints which are not Christian.  But Christian young people still should see that even this website includes other forms of “stimulation” under the heading of “sex,” and would not call a lesbian a “virgin” if she’s only had female lovers.)

Can I Get Pregnant If….

What’s Sex

State laws on legal ages of consent  Note that, in Wisconsin, you don’t have to be over the age of majority to be charged with a sex crime.  Even if you’re 15 and so is your girlfriend, and it’s completely consensual, you can be charged as a sex offender.  I live in Wisconsin, and my source is the daily newspaper, where I’ve read many such stories of kids under 18 being charged as sex offenders for consensual sex.

USA Today article–Teens define sex in new ways

Christian article on technical virginity  (Yeah, I know it’s from The 700 Club, but they do get things right once in a while.)

Article (warning: explicit terms) from Wikipedia about activities which avoid intercourse, yet still are termed “safer sex”

Extremely helpful advice to an extremely naive couple:

While what virginity is and is not is not something medical or actual, but an idea some people have that can differ from person to person, I think it’s very important that you acknowledge that you have been sexually active. You have had sex. Most definitions of abstinence simply mean that a person is not having any kind of genital sex with another person: not manual, oral, vaginal or anal sex.

Here is a good article about Christian dating.

Today, casual dates and “hookups” are so prevalent amongst teens and young adults. “Hookups” are one night stands with strangers (someone never met before), or that are only acquaintances. Any relationship starting on the foundation of sexual activity will not last long. All that lasts is the broken heart….

The pressure today to develop only shallow friendships, or friendships that are all about “me”, is significant. In a world of one night stands, and how many partners can I bag this weekend, today’s relationships are not started to last. Many relationships are over before they even really begin. With broken relationships come broken hearts. It takes an incredibly long time for a person’s heart to heal. –Friendship in the 21st Century

Be warned about legal definitions of sexual contact and intercourse, especially if you’re under 18.  You may think you’re still a virgin when legally, you lost that a long time ago, and you (or your sexual partner) could be liable for prosecution.  For example, Wisconsin state law says, for the purpose of assault:

(5) “Sexual contact” means any of the following:

(a) Any of the following types of intentional touching, whether direct or through clothing, if that intentional touching is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant:

1. Intentional touching by the defendant or, upon the defendant’s instruction, by another person, by the use of any body part or object, of the complainant’s intimate parts.

2. Intentional touching by the complainant, by the use of any body part or object, of the defendant’s intimate parts or, if done upon the defendant’s instructions, the intimate parts of another person.

(b) Intentional penile ejaculation of ejaculate or intentional emission of urine or feces by the defendant or, upon the defendant’s instruction, by another person upon any part of the body clothed or unclothed of the complainant if that ejaculation or emission is either for the purpose of sexually degrading or sexually humiliating the complainant or for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant.

(c) For the purpose of sexually degrading or humiliating the complainant or sexually arousing or gratifying the defendant, intentionally causing the complainant to ejaculate or emit urine or feces on any part of the defendant’s body, whether clothed or unclothed.

(6) “Sexual intercourse” means vulvar penetration as well as cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by the defendant or upon the defendant’s instruction. The emission of semen is not required.

(7) “Sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated:

(a) Sexual intercourse, meaning vulvar penetration as well as cunnilingus, fellatio or anal intercourse between persons or any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal opening either by a person or upon the person’s instruction. The emission of semen is not required;

(b) Bestiality;

(c) Masturbation;

(d) Sexual sadism or sexual masochistic abuse including, but not limited to, flagellation, torture or bondage; or

(e) Lewd exhibition of intimate parts. –State Statue 948

(Also State Statute 940.225 uses this definition of intercourse.)

(19) “Intimate parts” means the breast, buttock, anus, groin, scrotum, penis, vagina or pubic mound of a human being.  State Statute 939.22

Index to my Life Opinion pages:

Topics on Page 1

Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 

Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? 

Am I supposed to spend all of my free time at home with my spouse/kids now that I’m married?  Will that strengthen my marriage–or weaken it? 

Topics on Page 2

Is it okay to be jealous of the opposite-sex friends of my spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend? 

Topics on Page 3

Abuse in all its forms: Links to help 

My Personal Stories


Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men–February 1995, Part 3

(Love fraud definition here by the one who coined the term.)

The following may have happened soon after February 7: I found my ex Peter, or “Red Dwarf,” on TCB.  I sent him a cryptic e-mail one day, saying he could look in my registry and know who I was.  I got no reply, so I thought he wanted nothing to do with me.

Then one night, he paged me on TCB with, “Hello Nyssa.”  He knew who I was.  He said he hadn’t answered, not because he didn’t want to, but because he wanted to catch me online and talk to me.

He said, “I never expected to see you on these BBS’s!”  I told him about Dad’s old modem in Pearl’s computer.

That night we talked online for a long time, mostly about what happened between Phil and me.  He heard we broke off the engagement, but didn’t know why.  “What happened???” he wrote.  He also told me he converted to Wicca/Paganism.

He got angry with Phil when I told him the things Phil did.  At one point, I wrote, “Phil should go and be a monk, and spare all women.”  He’d once wanted to be a priest, but I figured even a priest gives marital counseling to his parishioners, so a monk in some isolated monastery would do the least harm: safely locked away, sparing all women.

Peter made some shocked cyber-gesture and wrote, “I’m shocked that you would say–or rather, type–such things!”

Heck, I had written this and all sorts of other things in my diary on February 7, when I wrote that I no longer wanted Phil because he wasn’t worth it.

My mother also had never heard me talk about anyone the way I talked about Phil.

Peter talked about a girl he recently broken up with who was twenty(?) and acted fifteen(?).  I wondered if it was the same one I met earlier that school year in the cafeteria, though I didn’t mention her.  I couldn’t be sure, though; it could have been someone totally different.

Peter gently scolded me for using cold medicine and not herbs or other natural remedies.  Which struck me as weird, because doesn’t everybody do that, and why would I do different?

He said that he went to see the O’Haras recently, and was treated like crap.  So there was no love lost between him and Phil now, even though they once were good friends.

Soon after we started using TCB, and before February 8, Sharon went on one late afternoon before dinner and met someone who called himself Krafter, age 26.  He chatted with Sharon for a while, then told her he was administration.  Sharon, apparently thinking that a member of Roanoke administration was hitting on her, said, “Oh, yuck!”  As it turned out, he was a member of TCB administration, or one of the co-sysops, so there was nothing icky about him hitting on her after all.

He spoke with Sharon often over the next few days, and seemed to have more than friendship in mind.  One day, I talked to him as well, starting my own friendship with him.  One night, I even chatted with him for hours–somewhere between three to six.

I may have run out of time on TCB, because he told me the name and number of his own BBS, Deltapolis, and we went over there to chat.  We had many things in common and really hit it off (obviously, or we wouldn’t have chatted for so long).  Now he seemed interested in both Sharon and me as more than just friends, but didn’t know which one he preferred.

He’d never dated before, so he couldn’t believe that two women were actually interested in him.  He said he must be dreaming.  My handle, Nyssa of Traken, also interested him because as a kid, he had a huge crush on my namesake, Nyssa on Doctor Who.  He also hated the Doctor’s other teenaged companion, Adric, with a passion because he was “in the way.”  After that chat, he seemed more interested in me than in Sharon, which wasn’t my intention, though I was starting to fall for him, myself.

When Sharon discovered this, I couldn’t tell if she was mad or just faking, but part of it seemed real.  She said, “I hate you,” and laughed.  I didn’t think she meant it, though it made me uneasy.  I didn’t mean to steal Krafter away from her.

I told her, thinking of my ill-fated meeting with the Vampire, “You might not even like him when we meet him.  You don’t know.”  I probably said we should wait until our meeting with him on the eighth to decide who should have him, if either of us.

We set up our meeting for 5:30pm in the Chase Center in the hall beside the plants, or the greenhouse which was on the main floor of Chase.  Sharon had a class there at six.  His description: long leather coat, brown coat, red backpack, a (hooded) sweater/sweatshirt in many colors, blue jeans, and black tennis shoes.  I think he was about six feet tall, and something over 200 pounds.

We ate our dinner in excitement.  Randy joked about our meeting.  When 5:30 neared, we rushed off to Chase.  We sat in the hallway by the plants, wondering what we got ourselves into.

A scuzzy-looking guy in a leather jacket walked by.  At first we feared it was him, but it wasn’t.  We sighed with relief and waited some more.

Finally, Krafter arrived.  He was cute with striking, slanted, dark eyes.  He had short, brown hair, glasses, a shapely mouth, and a sweet, cute smile.  I was attracted to him, but Sharon wasn’t.

She said none of this to him, of course.  We went into a classroom, sat at the desks, and talked for maybe ten minutes or more.  I was jealous because Sharon had more to say than I did, so the two of them talked mostly to each other.  He smiled a lot.  When it was time to separate, Sharon said to me, “He’s so nice!”  Whether either of us wanted to date him or not, we certainly wanted to see him again.  And I was definitely interested in dating him.

I probably met Speaker online around this time, too.  He was 20, which seemed young to me then, even though I was only 21.  He had low self-esteem, refused to give his real name, and complained that he could never find a girl to love him.  We chatted for hours; I seemed drawn to such guys.  Phil had been similar.  I didn’t mind trying to encourage them.

Speaker had spoken to many of the other girls on TCB, but I was the “only truly nice girl” or the “nicest girl” there.  We became fast, online friends.  He called me Nyssie, and I called him Speaker-y.  I called myself his Nyssie.

Speaker and I got acquainted by doing the Budweiser frog thing to each other: One of us typed “Bud,” the other “Weis,” and the first typed “Er!” or “ER!”  I didn’t know it then, but he hadn’t even seen the commercial.  (When I met him finally, he said that on the way over he saw a Budweiser frog billboard, and thought of me.  Then I had to explain to him that I got the “Budweiser” thing from the frog commercial.)

Krafter wanted to meet us again.  He said he and his friend Stimpy watched Mystery Science Theater:3000 and ate pizza every Saturday night.  Though at first he wanted to just see us alone that Saturday, he said, “No, I can’t do that to Stimpy.”

Krafter knocked on the kitchen door on Saturday the 11th at around 5pm, holding a box of pizza.  Somebody also provided Mountain Dew, since, as my roommates and I now discovered, caffeine-filled Divine Dew was the drink of choice for computer geeks.

I answered the door.  Stimpy was nineteen, tall and skinny, with distinctive eyes.  His handle came from Ren and Stimpy.  His hair was long and light brown, and under a baseball cap–but facing front, not back, a good thing.  I thought he was cute, and Sharon and Pearl thought he was hot.  If Sharon wanted Krafter, I could take Stimpy.

We seemed less like two people meeting two other people, and more like two girls and two guys trying to get together and pair off.  All we needed to know was who wanted to pair off with whom.

That night, I sat on the couch, Krafter in a chair to my left and Stimpy on the couch to my right.  I wanted to choose one of them, but wasn’t sure which one I wanted most.  At the time, I thought it was Krafter.  I also flirted with Stimpy.

Sharon thought they were paying too much attention to me and not to her, so she finally went to bed.  She didn’t understand that she was Krafter’s favorite, not me.

To me, TV wasn’t a conversation killer, but a social gatherer.  By watching it and not each other, and filling up uncomfortable silences with it, you could feel more comfortable with people and begin to open up to them.  (Farwest Trivia, though it killed teleconference after its debut, was also this way, because you could comment on the questions if the conversation lagged.)  You could learn a lot about people just from their comments and laughter during TV shows.

Krafter was “in charge” of an imaginary corporation named Delta, made up of some TCB users (such as Ish Kabibble; more on him later).  Its aim was to take over everything.  This was all a joke, of course.  He even gave us Delta business cards.  The name of his BBS, Deltapolis, came from this.

Delta was housed in an imaginary pyramid, which, Krafter said, one day would “crush H–.”  I asked why H– (the town in which my friend Mike grew up); he said it was arbitrary, picked for being tiny and close to S–.

I dropped a Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich (chocolate ice cream and nuts) on Stimpy’s lap in a flirty fashion.

After the TV shows ended, Krafter and Stimpy sat on chairs by the kitchen counter.  Krafter said,

“Stimpy and I can tell you about the users on TCB.  We can tell you who’s nice, who you can trust, and who you should avoid.

“If you want to meet someone, do it in a public place with people around.  If somebody doesn’t want to meet you, you should beware that they may not be as nice as they seem.

“Ish Kabibble is the one truly nice guy on TCB.  Speaker is a problem, since he never wants to meet anyone, and keeps giving girls these sob stories to make them feel sorry for him.

Red Dwarf is the worst!  He pretends to be what a girl wants so she’ll date him.  And he’s always borrowing programs from us for his BBS, which is really annoying.”

This revelation floored me.  I smiled and said, “I used to date Red Dwarf when I was a freshman.”

Krafter and Stimpy looked at me like I’d been contaminated or there was something wrong with me.

I laughed and said, “He was a Christian back then.”

Of course, what they said about Red Dwarf, or Peter, made me wonder how much of our relationship had been real, and how much had been an elaborate lie so I’d date him.  Was he like that back then, or was I not only his first girlfriend but the one who actually got to see the real him?

I had no way of knowing, especially since he changed completely after the breakup.  That could indicate that he lied to me, except that back then everyone else saw him the same way I did: as a sweet, Christian person.

Of course, Shawn wondered all along if Peter truly changed after the breakup, or if he’d been that way all along.  He said sophomore year, “Nobody changes that much.”

I didn’t believe Shawn back then, but now I didn’t know what to believe.  I still don’t; it’s not the sort of thing you ask somebody, even when you’re friends again: “Were you just fooling me and manipulating me?”  Apparently he makes a girl think he’s just the guy she’s always wanted–then wonders why she’s so upset and can’t let go after he breaks up with her!

I saw Speaker online soon after that, and he began beating himself up again.  Instead of reassuring him like usual, I got mad because he seemed to be manipulating me just as Krafter and Stimpy had warned me.  He then got mad at me for getting mad at him based on what other people said about him.  We eventually made up; I decided to be his friend and make up my own mind about him.

When I returned from Christmas Break, I planned to go back home after I graduated, and be with the Vampire, my old friend Josh and my high school friend Becky.  Now I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving all the wonderful people I was meeting on TCB.  I decided to stay in S– with them and my roommies.

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)


Meeting Cugan (Hubby)–February 1995, Part 2

My last semester was comparatively light: two classes and my senior honors thesis.  But that thesis needed a lot of work: reading the massive book Middlemarch at my teacher’s request and writing reaction papers, research, drafts and rewrites.

Todd, my Irish Writers teacher, was now my Brit Lit teacher.  Most of the students were female, and often amused by him.  He loved Jane Austen, and was quiet and shy.  One day, forced to mention women’s periods because they related to something we’d read, seemed very nervous about it.  I didn’t notice it, but others did, and giggled about it later.  He was a favorite teacher.

On Wednesday, February first, I spoke to Dr. Nelson about my senior honors thesis.  I’d dreaded it since freshman year; junior year I almost took a regular junior studies class instead of junior honors so I wouldn’t have to do the thesis.  But I finally decided to go ahead and see the honors CORE classes through.  As I was about to find out, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared.

I began to write my thesis based on Victorian women writers, how they perceived society’s restrictions on women, and how they treated the subject in their writings.  Nelson was to be my adviser.  Sometimes his wife, who shared his office, was there as we discussed the paper; she made her own comments on such things as Middlemarch and Victorian society.  She noted that some women long for the Victorian days so they wouldn’t have to have a job and write.

Middlemarch is by George Eliot, the penname of a woman who wrote in Victorian days.  This book was huge: The recent Penguin edition is 880 pages.  I was supposed to read it as quickly as possible.  I read as much as I could each day, but I did have two other classes, and, despite my comprehension skills, had always been a slower reader than everyone else I knew seemed to be.

I also had to read Chaucer in Middle English.  Catherine and Anna were in Chaucer class with me, so it became a common topic of conversation.  I already liked The Canterbury Tales; Catherine grew to love his works.  She hadn’t realized how clever, fun and, especially, bawdy they could get.

We read not just The Canterbury Tales, but many of Chaucer’s other stories, poems and translations, such as Romance of the Rose, a tale of Antony and Cleopatra, and Troilus and Criseyde.

The most fun part: We were required to learn the first 12 lines of the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales in Middle English, and recite them to a teacher other than our own (Christina) by a certain date.  On about that date, several of the students in Brit Lit cornered Todd after class and recited it to him.  Until that time, Anna and Catherine and I loved to recite lines of it to each other.  It was fun, and the lines were musical.  This is also when I posted lines from the Prologue in my TCB tagline.

Others still complained that Middle English was difficult to understand, but within a short time I got the hang of it.  The theory was, you were supposed to read it in its original pronunciation to understand it better.  But I discovered that just looking at the words without sounding them out made them easier to understand.  Many times Modern English has the same word in the same spelling, just pronounced differently.  Still, it took quite a while to read my assignments each night.


On Sunday, February 5, Catherine took me to my first SCA meeting.  It was for the S–/M– shire.

I was already interested in checking out this group of people who wear medieval clothes.  But she enticed me into going by saying, “There are lots of hot guys there, and they love to flirt with you.”

The meeting was at 2pm, though Catherine told me we didn’t have to get there on time.  I think we got there up to an hour late, which she said was normal for the SCA.  She said they wouldn’t have started until then, anyway, because most everyone else wouldn’t be there until then, either.  Unfortunately, this one started close to the proper time.

Steve the Head of the Psychos used to be part of this group as well, until he graduated with most of the Octagon in 1994 and (I believe) moved back home to Chicago.

The meeting was held at the home of people with the SCA names Ragnar and DiAnne.  Ragnar was a big, burly, blond-haired Viking with glasses and a beard.  He loved to hug, and to take smaller people, like me, and bounce them on his knee.  DiAnne had a pleasant face, glasses, and long, brown hair.  They had a newborn baby girl.  I don’t know how old they were, but I’d say 20s.

Catherine took me to this place, a duplex, and led me in the door and up a high entryway staircase.  She went in and the shire members cried out in happy surprise, not having seen her for some time.

“I brought somebody new,” she said.

They cried out in happy surprise again.  For the rest of the afternoon, I felt like the star of the show.

We set our coats down, probably on the floor, and found seats.  I quickly scanned the room for the hot guys Catherine had told me about, but most of the ones I saw looked too old or too married or too plain.  (Apparently she meant the SCA in general, not just this group.)

One, however, stood out: Cugan, who had been in the SCA for a few years, and joined the shire after Catherine stopped going.  (Well, actually, two were cute, but the other one had a girlfriend.)  I sat down in a chair near him and opposite the couch.  Catherine sat in a nearby corner.  These were the only places we could find to sit, and the chairs had been so arranged that I felt like my chair was out in the open, while Catherine’s huddled into the corner.  I felt self-conscious.

The meeting ended up being very dull.  It was long and all business, since they changed the format recently to make it more efficient.  (No more late starts, tangents or turning on Star Trek: TNG.)  Though it was very boring and I didn’t understand it, I did learn some things about the group, including Cugan.

He wore a black hat with a dragon pin, a Celtic knotwork medallion, and a large cross on a pendant.  In time, I discovered he made the medallion himself in Ireland, when he was about seventeen.  A Dungeons and Dragons book sat on a table near him.  (I later asked Catherine if that was his, and she said it probably was.)

As a person with NVLD, I couldn’t tell how old he was just by looking at him.  I feared he was much older than I, and would consider me too young.  I feared he was married or had a girlfriend.  I hoped he was a Christian, but wondered if the universe could really be so much in my favor.

He just couldn’t keep still during the meeting: His hat kept traveling from his head to his hand to his knee.  Sometimes, it even ended up on the head of a girl named Nadine.

I thought he kept looking at me during the meeting.  I hoped so.

At one point, somebody asked Cugan, the Chronicler (writer of the newsletter), “What about this note in the newsletter about the pitter-patter of little feet?”

Cugan said, “What?”

Cevante, the Seneschal (chairperson), who sat next to him, answered the question.  I thought at first that Cugan and Cevante were married and the baby was theirs, but soon discovered this wasn’t the case–to my great relief.  The baby in question probably belonged to our hosts.

I soon discovered that SCA people usually referred to each other by SCA names, rather than real names, though some people were called by their real names more often.

(For the most part, I’ve kept real SCA names and online handles here because they reflect personalities and can be hard to duplicate with fake names.  Not only that, but they’re much harder to trace than real names.  But not all the names I use for SCA people are SCA names, because some people were better known to me by their real names.  And not all the SCA names and Internet handles I use are real, especially if their misdeeds are recounted.  So you won’t know which is which.  :)  )

Nadine was the best friend of, same age as, and possibly roommate of Cevante’s daughter, Tatiana.

When the business portion of the meeting finally ended and the members broke up into smaller groups, a tall blond, Marcus, got up and pulled up the hood of his red robe.  Unlike the others, he wore SCA garb.  Catherine poked me and said his persona was a druid.

Cugan said to me, “I’m Cu’gan-mhatthair MacMuircheartaigh.  That means in Gaelic, ‘b**tard son of a bi*** and a passing sailor.'”  Actually, literally it means, “Dog without mother, son of a passing sailor”; the rest was his embellishment.

This was the only time he cussed during the entire meeting.  He then grabbed a clipboard with some papers on it, jumped over and knelt down before me with a big smile on his face, and asked for my name and address.  I smiled and wrote down my name and college address.

At one point, someone announced a homemade brew or wine was available.  Cugan, after proclaiming his enthusiasm, got up and went with the others who sampled it.

Cevante spoke with me as well.  I said I just took a Celtic class at college.  She said, “Good girl!”

The meeting went on for probably two hours or more after Catherine and I arrived.  We mostly stayed in the living room.  At one point, she sat with Nadine on the couch, while I got cornered by the Herald, Donato.

I would have preferred to find Cugan and start a conversation, or listen to Nadine and Catherine’s conversation.  But to be polite, I sat and listened to Donato explain the structure of the SCA, its offices and ranks, and some of the rules: play the game by wearing garb at events, etc.  (You can find this same information here.  A few years later, I heard him give the same talk to a girl with the online handle Malika; she seemed fascinated.)  I caught parts of Nadine and Catherine’s conversation:

Nadine: “You’re married now?  Wow.”

Catherine: “You’re nineteen now?  I feel old!”

Cugan eventually returned; Catherine asked him about a music group he put together to practice period music.  She mentioned it to me before, and the possibility of my joining in with my tin whistle.  (This never happened, and the group didn’t last long.)  I wanted so much to break away from Donato and chat with Cugan.

Finally, Donato finished talking, and I was free! free!

In late afternoon or early evening, people began to go home.  Cugan put on a classy jean jacket, his hat and maybe a scarf, and said to me, “Do you hug?”

These SCA people were like Catherine, and loved to hug.  Now, probably like most people, I felt uncomfortable hugging people I barely knew.  But I said, “If somebody hugs me.”  In my mind I added, “Especially you.”

He hugged me, and I enjoyed it tremendously.  He said a cheerful good-bye to the rest of us, including Nadine, and left.  I hoped to soon see him again, and get to know him a lot better.

Complication: Nadine now said to the shire members near her, “It seems when I like him he hates me, and when I hate him, he likes me.”  (Much later, when I told him about this, he got upset and said, “I don’t know where she gets the idea that I hate her.”)  I wondered what was going on between them, and why she felt this way.  I didn’t think they were dating, at least.

(As it turned out, she had a huge crush on him that he didn’t know about for a while.  She wrote a letter about it to Tatiana, who showed it to him.  He got scared, because to him she sounded obsessed.  So I just walked into a little soap opera.)

Soon, Catherine and I also left the meeting.  On the way back, as Catherine played her Prince tapes as she usually did when driving me places that semester, I told her about Cugan hugging me.  I said,

“I didn’t mind being hugged, especially by Cugan.”

I had no idea that Catherine had been scheming all along for me to meet Cugan, that when she told me there were hot guys in the SCA who love to flirt, she was thinking mainly of Cugan.  I wouldn’t know this until probably a few months later.

She didn’t know him well, but figured he was the kind of guy I’d like.  He seemed better for me than Phil.  She hated Phil (and Persephone).  She must have been pleased that, with no prodding from her whatsoever, I now sat there saying how cute Cugan was and how much I wanted to get to know him better.

I had no idea that, so soon after my divorce, I met my future husband, one who would stick around; Cugan had no idea that he met the future mother of his child.


Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)


NVLD vs. Aspergers: Videos to explain

Richard and Tracy refused to believe in my NVLD, and it was the source of most of our problems (that and me recognizing her abuse).  But it is real, and the following video succinctly describes my childhood–and many of these problems have followed me into adulthood:

Another source of disagreement was Richard thinking that NVLD and Asperger’s are one and the same, so since I don’t act autistic, I must not have NVLD. But here the differences are clearly explained:

And this describes Asperger’s:

If you want progressive change, you have to VOTE

Now we’re stuck with Walker for another four years, despite all the dissension.  Now we’re stuck with a fully Republican Congress.  But I’ve seen the numbers: When everybody gets out and votes in this state, we elect Democrats.  And the elections were all very close.  So you’re out there.  And you say you hate Walker for all the crap he’s done to ruin this state.  Where were you?  The new Voter ID law was blocked for this election, so you can’t say you couldn’t get an ID.

Jezebel expressed it well, since apparently it’s not just a Wisconsin problem:

Election 2014 Postmortem: We f**king did this to ourselves

A Democratic president can’t do much with a Republican Congress who blocks everything he wants–even when they themselves came up with the idea (ie, Republican response to Obamacare, which was a Republican plan and a compromise to get them on board).  They’re doing this on purpose.

And now we still have public unions who have lost their rights to bargain over benefits and working conditions, health care coverage which is hamstrung by Walker’s refusal to take funds, and schools forced to slash budgets.  A lot of our teachers bailed after Act 10 passed.  Some of the effects of Act 10 are detailed here.  A lot of people are in a health care limbo because Walker dumped them from BadgerCare, but they’re not able to get coverage through ObamaCare.  This wouldn’t have happened if he went along with how ObamaCare is supposed to work.

Minnesota is doing far better than Wisconsin is, with their more liberal policies.

And now Walker is able to ram through everything he wants done, while we Democrats get nothing, even though we are half of this state.  And a Republican Congress gets everything they want, while we get nothing, even though we are half of this country.

And the Koch brothers have Walker in their pockets.  I did note that Burke was leading until Walker’s fat cat donors gave huge amounts to boost the campaign.  This is why Citizens United needs to go down: Elections should not be bought.  They should not be determined based on who has the biggest donors.  They should be determined based on who is the best candidate with the best ideas.  That did not happen here.

There is also corruption, which has been coming out in the newspapers lately: E-mails prove Walker’s past campaigns engaged in activity which is against state law, and that corporations were buying favors.

And now he’s talking again about running for president.

Just imagine: President Walker.  He’s encouraged now because he keeps winning despite opposition.  After he has so heavily damaged our wonderful state and turned brother against brother, so that even longtime friends and family barely speak to each other, do you want to see the whole country like this?  Imagine another Civil War…..

My husband is conservative from a conservative family.  He’s been saying things lately that make me cringe, wondering who he’s listening to and what he’s reading to get such strange ideas, so this even gets into households.  Yet his family treats him as if he’s abandoned the family’s religion, whenever he has a moderate viewpoint.  And whenever he sounds even remotely like he’s listening to the liberal side of things on ANY subject, his brother will scold him, stonewall, and threaten to unfriend him on Facebook.

He’s more of a moderate, and doesn’t like pandering to corporations, Scott Walker, or eliminating the Common Core.  He sees the excesses of the Tea Party, which has taken over the Republican Party.  He detests the callous attitude of our Tea Party ex-friend Richard over how the poor would suffer for years if all the so-called “entitlement” programs are discontinued.  He even willingly watches The Daily Show/Colbert Report along with me.  But his brother treats him like the Antichrist for this.  It’s Groupthink on a family level, so you can’t even consider that liberals have good ideas.  (It also shows how ridiculous Richard’s wife was for treating me like a threat to her marriage.  Yeah, like I’d want to be married to an anarchist-Libertarian-Tea Partier.)

And, oh yeah, now my district has lost its retiring moderate representative, replaced by a raving lunatic.  We had a fiscally conservative Democrat running against him, a moderate who should’ve been able to win, and even our retiring Republican representative refused to back the raving lunatic Republican.  Petri was rather miffed by the guy’s remarks about Petri not being conservative enough:

“Why would I endorse a person who has said that if in two years people said he was ‘just like Petri’ he would be insulted?” Petri said. “I don’t want to smother him with love or anything like that.”…”Grothman said if the GOP turns down the path Petri did, he will go against it,” Petri said. “I always feel you want to reach out and work with people — that has been my approach to both parties.” He said Harris has done “a fine job” as county executive.–FdL Reporter

There was a time when this wasn’t such a big deal: One party may win control of a state/the country, but still work with the other party.  But lately, “compromise” has become a dirty word.  So winner takes it all and the loser gets nothing.  That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

There are also comments that the Democratic candidates were trying not to be too Democrat, and distancing themselves from the President, which also turned voters off.  What the heck was that about?  Why abandon the President?  He’s no George Bush–He’s a good president, or would be if Congress still believed in compromise.  (I heard Boehner’s speech when Obama won re-election: To Boehner, “compromise” means “Democrats do what the Republicans want.”  Not the other way around.)

I’ve heard so much of the slander being thrown against this president, a smear campaign meant to get him out so a Republican gets voted in next.  “Dictatorship”?  Seriously?  And Benghazi is hardly the scandal Fox News makes it into.  It’s brainwashing from the conservative media.  (Such as the conservative media myth that the mainstream media is “liberal,” which sets you up to believe the conservative pundits instead.)  So now we abandon him, too, and let the bullies win?  If he weren’t getting so much pushback from Congress, we’d see how his policies can actually work well.

Scott Walker is counting on you to stay home. That’s because when you don’t vote, you’re saying that you approve of the way he’s running our state. Not voting means that you approve of more low-wage jobs, drastic cuts to public education and BadgerCare, and taking away women’s and workers’ rights.  Republicans admit that their chances of winning are better when fewer people vote.  That’s why Scott Walker pushed his unconstitutional voter ID law.  That’s why he cut back early voting hours and eliminated weekends. If you don’t vote, you’re voicing your approval of these attempts to rig the election.

Right now, we have the chance to show Walker and his corporate allies that they are wrong on voter ID, wrong on minimum wage, wrong on public education, wrong on women’s health, wrong on Badgercare, wrong on collective bargaining, and wrong for Wisconsin. But if you don’t vote, nothing changes.

You can’t predict the future, but you do have the right to vote today. Don’t let anything get in the way of casting your ballot.  Put the past four years behind you, and move Wisconsin toward a better future.  Vote now!

–Jennifer Epps-Addison, Not Voting is a Vote for Scott Walker

Hopefully the results of this election will prove to the cynical just how important it is to exercise your precious right to vote.

Also see I’m Scared by Wisconsin Soapbox:

Reason why I’m up a creek is because now that the election is over, everyone is more than willing to discuss what they are planning, and with a four year agenda already under their belts, we know what it will look like. (Oh hey SB 286!) Oh, and with those pesky moderates in the State Senate gone, this legislative session will be a blood-red tidal wave to anything the even resembles something that resembles Wisconsin’s progressive tradition.

From the Wisconsin State Journal: 
Walker says he hopes to fast-track the state budget process, expand the taxpayer-funded school voucher program, require drug tests for those seeking food stamps and unemployment benefits, and continue income and property tax cuts.

“We’re going to be even more aggressive now,” Walker told members of his Cabinet on Wednesday at the Capitol. “Because I think we’ve got an even stronger ally in the Legislature.”

Yep… All things that were mentioned to those of us who were paying close attention to the election. Not a damn thing joe or jane average voter probably know much about with any depth. Oh, and let’s not forget the 45-ish% of people who could’ve voted but opted to sit on the sidelines and not give a hoot.

Vos said his priorities include continuing tax cuts, pushing for school accountability and expanding the state’s voucher program, overhauling the state Government Accountability Board, and changing how secret John Doe investigations are conducted in Wisconsin.  Vos also talked about replacing Common Core with educational standards developed in Wisconsin and changes to campaign finance laws.

Time to screw over the teachers even more after all the work they’ve gone through getting ready for Common Core.  Time to fix things so John Doe investigations can stop nailing Walker’s people for illegal activities.  Changes to campaign finance laws?  You mean, so what Walker’s people did, is no longer illegal?

Some research into the Koch Brothers reveals where the Tea Party ideas, which have taken over the Republican Party, actually come from.  Voting is our best means of fighting this.

Now Ron Johnson says that Congress will compromise with the President.  That would be refreshing, and a glimmer of hope–but I will believe it when I see it.


Reblog: Ingrid Schlueter and another threatened defamation lawsuit

This post regards a situation described here, which is right in my backyard, in Milwaukee.  Ingrid writes,

I have a message for Vic, for Randy, and for anyone else who believes that Scripture’s direct instructions on handling conflict don’t apply: We will not be bullied. We will  not stop speaking the truth about what has gone on, and no attorney letters, threats and throwing weight around by anyone of influence matters one bit. We have tried for years to get help and to resolve this in a Christ-honoring manner to no avail. Peacemakers, think about that name, were not wanted. Attorneys were. Onward Christian soldiers.

The only option for those who claim to possess Jesus Christ is biblical mediation of conflict. That has been resoundingly refused by Randall Melchert, the top officer legally of VCY America, inc. It has been resoundingly rejected by Vic Eliason and Randy Melchert, men who prefer to pass on stories about headless squirrels and retain attorneys to try to stifle the truth.

She also writes,

My sister called tonight and asked if I’d checked the mail. I hadn’t. Vic Eliason, our father, is threatening to sue us for attempting to get this shameful situation into biblical mediation with Peacemakers. He is characterizing all we have spoken, the truth, as defamation.

….My father may not be aware that we have a close friend who is a lawyer. Our friend, who actually has significant experience with defamation has pointed out the following. First, a lawyer with experience in this area of law would identify the supposed falsehoods. This “gentleman” is unable to do that.

We wonder–what is false? That we requested biblical mediation? That his daughter and his two sons-in-law were forced out of VCY? That he tried to bribe his grandson into bearing false witness against his own mother? That he sent pornography to me under a false name and posted on blogs as a woman? None of these things is false–all are provably true. And this lawyer apparently doesn’t realize that defamation does not mean “bad for Vic” but means actually false.

From Julie Anne Smith’s latest post, VCY America Founder, Vic Eliason, Sends Letter Threatening Legal Action to His Daughter, Ingrid Schlueter:

I sometimes have to laugh when attorneys use the “defamatory” word.  It is up to the courts to decide what word or phrase is defamatory or not, not some podunk Wisconsin lawyer throwing around legalese to threaten (disclaimer: this is JA’s opinion, lest some whacknut attorney try to sue me for defamation).  Mr. Russell, you would be wise to look up defamation lawsuits and see how many cases are in fact successful.

….Now, if Ingrid Schlueter is telling her story as she sees it, that is her perceived truth. In court, Ingrid’s perceived truth would not be judged as a lie (even if it is in fact a lie). The plaintiffs in a defamation lawsuit would have to prove that Ingrid (and her sister, or anyone else named in the lawsuit) intentionally lied.

….Let’s just cut to the chase. This letter from Attorney Patrick Russell is a farce. He is throwing around big words acting like he’s going to make a real case over this situation. He doesn’t have one. It’s a bully method to tell someone to shut up (disclaimer:  Julie Anne’s opinion).  Abusers and bullies use all sorts of methods to control and using civil courts and threatening letters is just one more method. It happened to me, it happened in the Grenier lawsuit, and now we see it here with Ingrid Schlueter’s father.

It’s important to acknowledge what this really is and what it is not. This letter is Vic Eliason’s attempt to control who can talk. It is not an honest attempt to resolve conflict in a Biblical fashion (as the Schlueters have attempted to do via a mediator). It is certainly not appropriate behavior for a Christian to sue another Christian. It is not loving and gracious.  Is this what the 1 Corinthians passage is referring to when they use the word reviler? There is no humility in paying an attorney to bully family members. Imagine what family times might be like with the Eliason, Schlueter, and extended families. I suspect Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a bit solemn as this fractured family reels with a pending lawsuit over their heads.

This shameful situation is now public. I hope Mr. Eliason will retract his attorney’s ridiculous letter and handle his family conflict using appropriate Biblical methods. This public display of suing family members in the civil courts makes him look like a fool and a bully.

This all sounds very familiar, as I, too, was threatened with a lawsuit for suggesting biblical mediation to resolve the situation with my abusers, if they began coming to my church full-time.  In my case, I called the bluff and immediately went to my priest about the situation (though, of course, I had already spoken to my priest about it previously, because I needed his counsel).  My abusers pretended to continue trying to intimidate me and be oh-so-scary.  But in truth, they backed down, and did nothing.  The statute of limitations has long since run out for them to sue me for going to my priest about this.  And, well, a policeman told me that they could not sue me for that, anyway.

But not everyone is so fortunate.  Various abuse bloggers have been sued in recent years: Julie Anne, Alex Grenier, Christina Enevoldsen….But the bloggers keep winning, or (in Grenier’s case) could still win.  Hopefully Ingrid will not get sued, or–if she does–will win the case.

Keep speaking the truth without fear!




Life on TCB–February 1995, Part 1

Counselor Dude said when he gave me a grade in February that my working on the novel Jerisland since 1988 or 1989 showed persistence.  He said I had a good grasp of the mechanics of writing, and could become an editor if I wanted to.


Sometime early fall semester, Sharon saw two freshman guys put up a poster advertising the new Roanoke College BBS.  We were surprised, and checked it out.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones on campus getting connected to the wonderful world of the Internet and BBS‘s.

It wasn’t much, mostly a message board saying what classes were canceled and such, but it was still nice to have one.  It was a voice line, however, hooked up to the freshmen’s dorm room phone, so we could only call up at certain times of the day.

Every other college already seemed to have Internet access for students.  Roanoke didn’t have it until the next school year.  I’d watch the students on Beverly Hills: 90210 use the Internet on a school computer, and feel jealous.  We heard the access was supposed to be available senior year, but had to be pushed off until the next year–after I graduated.

Pearl had friends with e-mail addresses through school accounts, and now she could finally send them e-mail through our AOL accounts.  We got one account for all four of us with separate screen names.

But our favorite was The Crystal Barrier, or TCB, as I described here, because of all the fun we had with people who lived nearby:

The action words in Teleconference, or tele, were a lot of fun.  For example, if I typed, “slap stimpy,” Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is slapping you!” but I saw, “…Wap!…Wap!…Wap!”  You could also do them to other people privately, like this: “kiss stimpy secretly.”  I saw, “Pucker up!” and Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you on the cheek.”

More action words: “pave,” which said, “Crystal Dragon is driving a steamroller over everything, chanting, ‘The earth must be paved'”; “pkiss,” or “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you passionately!”; “look,” or “Stimpy is looking at you,” which the user saw as, “Like what you see?” or “See something you like?”

“Look” was good for giving a funny look to someone who was acting very strange.  You could also just type “look” without directing it at anyone, and that showed up as, “Nyssa Of Traken is looking around the room.”  To direct an action at someone, all you needed were the first three letters of that person’s handle, or more if someone else online had the same first three letters.  You didn’t need to capitalize.

Sharon and I often spoke to each other and others offline as if we were in tele and using action words.  For example, I’d say to Sharon, “Nyssa is slapping you,” and we would laugh.

South Bend and S– BBS’s had different commands.  South Bend used dot commands.

Unlike with the South Bend area dot commands, which dealt with other functions on the BBS’s, on TCB you could use dot commands to send an action to someone who was logged into the BBS, but not in Teleconference or Farwest Trivia with you.  Example: “.kiss krafter.”

To look at someone’s registry, or a list of answers to personal questions, you typed “/r Krafter,” or went into the registry menu.  This registry asked for computer phone number, the name of your own BBS if you had one, your favorite food and movie and music and TV show, your least favorite show and music and movie, physical description, eye color, hair color, a short summary, etc.

You could answer each question however you wished: Some people typed “n/a,” or not applicable, to every question.  Speaker typed “.” after every question.  Some people gave answers that revealed them to be scary people, such as one guy who I believe called himself Nightstalker.

I either ignored the phone number questions or made up fake BBS names or spelled out fake numbers (“1800FUNWITHZARA,” for example).  My summary was often, “I long for the days when men were men, alternative was alternative, and mice were little furballs that squeak.”

Krafter liked this one.  I knew it was an adaptation of something I’d heard once (and I don’t mean the standard, “When men were men and women were women”), but I didn’t remember where.  Some time later, I discovered it came from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  My variation was my own, but the Hitchhiker’s version went:

In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. –http://www.davekimble.org.au/humour/hitchhiker.quote.htm

We could also type taglines, which showed up next to a user’s handle whenever someone typed “/#” to call up a list of who was online at the time.  There was a default tagline, I forget exactly what; I generally had various taglines, depending on what I felt like putting there.  When someone was still logging in, the screen showed “login” in place of the handle, and “I couldn’t stay away!” as the tagline.  These were similar to the taglines on Pan-Optic Net.

I was Nyssa Of Traken, Sharon was Ziggy, and Pearl was Pearl.  My name, of course, came from my favorite handle from Indiana BBS’s, as I explain here.  Sharon loved Ziggy, and Pearl’s handle came from her nickname, so none of these names was a surprise.  Even Astrid went on TCB a few times, and called herself Tigger, fitting with her nickname, Boing Boing.

There, as in Internet chat rooms, normal punctuation and spelling rules went out the window.  In forums, people wrote normally (except for the occasional “4” for “for,” “u” for “you,” “c” for “see,” and other abbreviations).  But when chatting or playing in tele, you saw lots of ellipses and emoticons, and a lack of capitalization or punctuation.  Even I, whom Stubby once called the TCB spelling cop, was guilty of this.  It’s just quicker to write if you don’t have to worry about what your English teacher would think.

Sharon loved going online and being bombarded with “so and so is hugging you” from people all over the system.  I would go online, get such greetings, and type “.kiss Krafter” (which kissed him on the cheek) to greet him each time I saw him online.  Pearl was also popular.

The people online were so sociable and Sharon was so popular, in fact, that sometimes she went online and hoped no one would notice her so she wouldn’t have to answer their pages or return their hugs.  She tried to sneak on, check her e-mail and get back off again.  The problem, however, was that the system announced to everyone whenever someone came online, along with an entrance message, if one was set.  So it was hard to sneak on without being noticed, unless you figured out how to work the “invisible” function.

In my teens, the “cool” kids had never even heard of BBS’s.  (No, I was not one of the cool kids.)  Now, even the “cool” people joined the “geeks” online.

Other people liked to sign their names in various ways–all capitals, shortened handles, funny symbols–so I decided to use my own signature.  This is what I came up with:

}] Nyssa of Traken [{“

For a short time, I changed my online summary nearly every day so that a different line of the first twelve lines to the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales–in Middle English–showed up.

When one of us was online, the other two often sat around the computer and watched.  Most often, we went into tele or Farwest Trivia (a multi-player trivia game).  There, the watchers would tell the one typing, “Page so-and-so and say this,” “Say this,” “Tell him Pearl says such-and-such,” etc.  When one of us was online, all three of us were generally online, even though only one of our screen names was logged in.  It was quite a party every night by the computer.

Oftentimes, people, such as Krafter or Speaker, sat in the menuing system (main menu), and just waited there for pages while doing something else.  Just like nowadays we do with, say, IRC, Facebook, or other instant messaging systems.

For me, the computer gave stiff competition to the TV.  Even though I wanted to see a new show named Sliders, Star Trek: DS9, and this new Star Trek show called Voyager, it was hard to pay attention because I was usually online while they were on.

I loved Sliders anyway, as did Charles, and we loved the various things that were different in each dimension the four sliders slid into.  One of my favorites had a dimension in which America had never broken from England.  (When Sci-Fi Channel picked up the show three seasons later, they ruined it, turning it into some action thing where favorite characters got killed off.)  As for the Star Trek shows, I couldn’t get into them.  After that year, I didn’t even try keeping up with them.  My love affair with the continuing Star Trek series had ended: There were just too many of them now.

For a short time, a guy called Atlantis sent me messages on TCB.  He played a game with me, a guessing game, with hints on who he was.  Then he disappeared before I could find out, upsetting me.  I heard somewhere that he was kicked off, maybe for a misunderstanding, but I don’t know if this was true.  Then Mike’s friend Brent finally admitted to being Atlantis.

Sometime during this period, Pearl’s sister came to visit and stay in the apartment for a day or two.  She saw my tapes and CD’s and went wild, because I had a lot of alternative, and the kids were really starting to get into alternative in those days.

She also went on TCB a few times as Squisha.  This name came from an inside joke between her and Pearl, a name one of them gave to a squirrel squished on the highway, Squisha Squirrel.  She had a lot of fun, and the other TCB users loved playing with her in Teleconference.

One day, I checked a user directory for one of the BBS’s.  The new user setup, or a series of questions each user needed to answer–what kind of computer and graphics you had, what password you wanted, your real name, address and phone number–included, of course, the question, “What handle would you like to use?”  The user directory listed all the users of the BBS by handle.  One person showed up as:

What do you mean “HANDLE

(No, no closing quote or question mark for “handle”; there wasn’t room; the handle could only be so long.)

Many teenagers hung out on TCB, and most of these seemed to love talking to Sharon, Pearl and me.  We felt popular.  Sharon said, “I think they think we’re cool because we’re three women living together.”

Though TCB wasn’t free, it wasn’t expensive, either: $5 a month got you five hours a day.


Sharon’s Sharon-isms included various expressions of disgust or dismay: “eww,” “ergh,” possibly “erckle” and “icky.”  We both used these online as well.  Another popular term among us roommies was, “Owie!  Owie!”  Sharon also sometimes said “cry” during a fake argument.

During second semester, it became common for my roommates to steal my seat whenever I got up from the couch.  I often ended up sitting in the armchair instead.  It was comfy, of course, so this wasn’t a problem, though sometimes I’d be in the chair while my roommies acted weird on the couch, joking and making weird noises and such.  I felt a bit left out.  But at least I had fun playing the straight woman.

Just as she did last semester, my old roommie Clarissa often came over to walk to dinner with me.  This, of course, was on nights when I didn’t end up eating mac and cheese or Spaghetti-os in front of the computer, while playing on TCB.  Now that we had our own kitchen and food, I could do this.

Tara and Pearl, having just seen Bugs Bunny’s A Hare Grows in Manhattan, began saying, “It’s a GY-raffe!  a GY-raffe!” instead, of course, of the usual “giraffe.”

My friends now watched Sesame Street every once in a while.  They thought there was nothing weird about this, that they had every right to if they wanted to no matter what their age, and that the show was cute.

Pearl’s sister liked Elmo.  (This was before the “Tickle-Me-Elmo” craze, which was in the fall of 1996.)

We noted that the same little African-American boy with an afro (probably John-John) had been on Sesame Street since we watched in the 70s, yet he was still there.  The show kept playing the same old clips even in the newer shows.  It was good, though, that the little kids wouldn’t miss out on some of the things we saw as kids, but wouldn’t they wonder why the kid’s hair looked so weird?  I never wondered about it as a kid, but that was in the 70s, and lots of people had hair like that.  (Of course, if Sesame Street still plays those clips of the afro boy, today’s kids probably think he looks normal.  Fashion is weird like that.)

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)


I am out of danger from my abusers: Statute of limitations has run out

A quick check of Wisconsin laws tells me that the statute of limitations for libel/slander is two years.  I never libeled, defamed or slandered my abusive ex-friends, but when they found my blog, they threatened to sue me for this. 

Even if Richard and Tracy were to still think they have a case, it has been between two and a half to four and a half years since I told friends, family, my priest and this blog about what happened, hoping for support, venting and help with healing.  It has also been more than two and a half years since they made this threat. 

They have suffered no job losses.  If they even have jobs, I wouldn’t know who they work for, and wouldn’t contact their employers anyway.  That just isn’t the kind of thing I do.  We also do not run in the same circles except online, even though we live in the same city.  They have absolutely no financial losses to claim because of me.

This tells me their threats were just intimidation meant to keep me quiet, that they were all bluster, that they hoped I was easy to intimidate, that they were indeed intentionally trying to gaslight me into doubting what I knew was true.

Instead, I stayed strong and brave, continuing to tell my story, keeping my blog up, keeping my mind and memory strong and secure against the gaslighting.

This tells you, the reader, to be brave and tell your own story of abuse.  Don’t let your abusers silence you!



Surgery went well….

All over with.  And I’m still groggy from the anesthesia, so this is all I want to write.  :P

[Update 11/1/14:]

There were three polyps, all benign.  And the mysterious bump was dysplasia.  All are removed, so nothing to worry about.

Well, except for the bills….



I have surgery on Thursday

I feel nervous, not just because I have to go under for this one (unlike my previous surgeries), but because of a mysterious bump.  The main surgery is for something that is normally benign, but there is also this bump that must be biopsied.  The doctor hasn’t actually used the c– word, but it is worrisome because it refuses to heal.  Soon I hope to find out what’s going on there.  :P