Assumed knowledge: bathing edition

So have you ever thought about things that seem like common sense, but aren’t? For example… how do you bathe with oil?

People talk about taking a nice, hot oil bath after work. You see pictures of women with their dry hair pinned up while they soak in the bath. So… I assume they are not showering before they seal their own filth on their body with oil. Or does the oil cleanse in its own way?

After all, the Romans bathed with olive oil right? So much oil that they scraped it off their skin with a piece of wood. Was their hair just greasy all the time?

Mixing oil and soap of course seems to defeat the point of either.

One would assume one’s mother and grandmother would be consulted, but I feel their answer would be tradition, not a legit explanation.

Experimentation may be required. I did experiment with coconut oil when I tried the no soap, water only experiment… however because of the solid nature of the coconut oil I had difficulty applying it without over applying it in the shower, and I only bathed with the oil once. It did not prove to be effective for controlling body odor.

Thought exercise: Respecting beliefs

If a Wiccan believes that magic is possible, including black magic (which is implied by the Rede to exist, but is not to be used by Wiccans) is there ever a case where it would be valid to charge a Wiccan for casting black magic? Of course, it would be easy for a naturalist such as myself to dismiss the case of magic itself harming someone, since magic has in no way shape or form been proven to exist. It is more complicated if you believe in magic, perhaps. How far does respect for beliefs go?

What if a religious or spiritual group made it well known that they were casting a curse of some kind on someone? Can/does it cross into harassment?

What if both parties believe magic is real? What if only one does?

Of course, we see terrible examples throughout the world and throughout history of what happens when magic, society and law mix. But I simply wish to point out a kind of double-think that seems to get ignored.

I invite anyone who believes in magic to please respond.

This old article has been making the rounds again, got me thinking about the topic again: Student Expelled for Casting a Spell.

For Sport

Drama and trolling on the Internet is what happens when inactive humans discover that have a new means of alleviating their boredom. “Dance for me, my internet puppets! Dance! Do you not realize that none of you are real? Only I am real, and I demand to be amused!”

Reality TV, social media, forums, blogs… what is the difference, I wonder sometimes.

Your Online Clothes Matter

I’ve used various avatars deliberately for years, to confuse my gender. To confuse people about my politics. To confuse them about my hobbies. It’s really easy. If you want to have a conversation with someone in a political party opposite your own, take on one of their icons as your avatar (be sure of course of what they’ll see if they bother to click on your profile), and then try to talk to them like a rational human being instead of being on attack mode. You’ll be surprised.

Pretty much remove anything that indicated you are female (do not use your first or middle name, and remove anything references to anything “obviously girly”) and everyone will simply assume you are male, whether the person you are talking to is male or female. This is useful if you simply just don’t want to deal with any sexist nonsense directed at you personally. Bonus points if a female feminist tells you you can’t understand her point of view because you aren’t a woman… and you only get the points if you weren’t trolling or trying for that response.

If you wish everyone to hate you except for gunlovers or various stripes., post an actual picture of yourself holding some kind of gun. It doesn’t really matter what the gun is, it just has to look like either a real handgun or rifle. It has to be a home-made type of picture. It doesn’t count if it’s a movie shot, or video game shot or anything else that looks like a professional photo. Once you have that picture in place, you will be assumed to be a redneck, from the South, some kind of hypocrite, or a member of the Tea Party or some combination thereof. And people who like guns will probably assume you are a close Christian friend of their’s even if you never met them in your life. Unless you’re in a Libertarian community, then all bets are off on that.

And you can totally have fun with this and really mix it up by posting contradictory avatars and profile/post content.

So, when was the last time you didn’t judge someone on their clothes?

Today’s Lesson: Hire a Plumber and Make Him Use Code Words.

So yesterday was a pretty annoying day, though I got stuff done. However, I learned a very important lesson that it is vitally important to share with all of you.

First, some background. Lots of phone calls, driving around, and appointments yesterday. I had a turkey that had been defrosting in the fridge for a long time and I was afraid it was going to go bad. I was a huge turkey, annoyingly huge. My plan was to practice deboning a turkey and then turning it into nuggets. If so much had not been going on on Wednesday this would have been a highly pleasurable activity. I was looking forward to it, but I knew it would involve a lot of frustrating work. I also knew I’d have to do this at night when the child was asleep because raw turkey was going to get everywhere. Seriously, this turkey was twice the size of my roasting pan. I need a large dissection tray for a bird like this. I ended up laying it on a towel.

So, after all was said and done last night, the child got an accidental nap and was refusing to go to bed. I decide to go ahead with the turkey processing.

Isn’t coming out that great, mostly because I’m rushing just to get it done… after everything that day I just wanted the turkey processed. I’d have roasted it but we just had had roast turkey so I knew it wouldn’t get eaten. Thus, I wanted to make and freeze nuggets.

I make mediocre nuggets… but towards the end, the dishwasher starts flooding. A clog!

It’s a disaster in the dishwasher. The cheese I’d used to make mac ‘n cheese for lunch it turns out makes awesome glue. All the dishes are literally covered in speckles of hardened on cheesy stuff that seem to only want to come of with individual attention to each and every one with a fingernail. Turkey residue is draped over everything. Meanwhile the last of the nuggets are burning…

I do everything I normally do to unclog the drain, but it isn’t working. It’s clear I need to take the protective grate covers off the drain and GET IN THERE. However, I’ve never been able to take them off, even when I bought the house they were not removed because I have no decent screwdrivers. For some reason I have never remedied this.

So, my countertop is covered in nasty rawish turkey and cheese smeared dishes, putrid greasy water is all over the floor, in a towel and on my clothes… and I finally discover that a screwdriver/flashlight thing my mother got me a few years ago works on the grate screws.

I was so naive. So… young. Innocent.

I miss the old me.

What I saw in that grate cannot be unseen. And it wasn’t even the clog.

It was thick, very thick. It was mushroomy. It was highly textured. It came in colors. It was starting to grow a skin-like membrane on some of it. It was… too horrible to be described. I just want to somehow UN-eat everything I’ve eaten in the past 5 years. I couldn’t even vomit, it was too overwhelming. A picture seemed inappropriate, it was that horrible. I stared into its creases and realized I no longer wanted to live. I wanted to cry but no tears came.




It took me hours over two days to get the dishes clean of that stuff. I soaked the dishwasher and grate overnight with washing soda. It didn’t unclog, but it surely helped. I stuck my hand……… into that stuff. Eventually the dishwasher started working again. It’s almost….. sane again. Clean. Healthy. Safe.


Beauty Doublethink

So, now that hunting season has come around (as if deer season is the only season, ever) I have been reminded of the various anti-hunting viewpoints that have come around.

One that I have taken particular note of is usually in some form of rebuttal to the conservation aspect of hunting. Namely, the argument that it is impossible for one to have an interest in conserving nature and an appreciation of nature’s beauty while at the same time blowing it away with a shotgun or severing it with a broadhead.

This young buck (not over 13 months of age, surely) was ended on November 16, 2013.

In particular I’m looking more closely at the idea of killing and destroying things we find beautiful. Note, things we find beautiful. Many hunters do, indeed find nature beautiful. That buck was beautiful, those geese were beautiful. Some might find some animals more beautiful than others, but you get the idea. I would like to think that most serious hunters feel this way, although one must be careful to avoid the True Scotsman fallacy here. You can usually note these hunters by the pride they take in their kills. How they decorate their homes, and how they treat the products of their kills. Obviously, there’s a difference between someone who beads crows because they annoy him and someone who is hunting coyote for pelts or some such.

If you hear hunters talk, and fishers for that matter, you’ll hear them talk in awe of many impressive animals they’ve seen and hunted over the years.

So it seems like some kind of strange doublethink, right? How can you think something is beautiful and kill it? How can you spend hours chatting about how smart coyotes and turkeys are and then blow them away? Impossible right?

Well… when was the last time you picked a flower?

But, you say, a flower doesn’t feel.

Whether or not an organism merely possesses a nervous system and a brain, isn’t really an issue for some of us. Leaving a turkey or deer to live, isn’t preserving its life or preventing its suffering. I can’t speak for everyone, but that is how I see it. Taking advantage of human nature, using hunting to provide funds and hunter interest to motivate hunter interest in conservation and environmental issues is crucial and smart. And I would prefer the animals be wild, abundant, and hunted than caged, scarce, and poached. Or worse, domesticated like cattle.

Where I live, pretty much every water source is polluted. Our State’s fishing manual gives instructions on which waterways you can safely fish and how many fish you can eat from which one. When I see someone saying that environmental issues are “boogeymen” or “overplayed” or “it’s all been cleaned up, what’s the fuss”? I bet they aren’t a hunter or fisher, or I bet they can afford to hunt in less polluted areas. Engage them from this angle. Imagine how much better off the environment would have to be if people could hunt and fish close to home, just about wherever they were… and if a huge variety of species were available to hunt, and if they weren’t full of poison. Think of the implications of that. What the prerequisite environmental conditions would have to be.

No time like…?

Why do people say there is no time like the present? Isn’t all time like the present?

In fact, could it not be said that the present is an ever repeating infinitesimal slice of time happening over and over and over and over and over and over…

Accuracy in Storylines

I would like to say that Reality TV has come a long way since my first experience with it in my tiny dorm room in Japan oh so many years ago… But I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it has become so perfected and so diversified over all the years without much basic change. The basic formula: get people together, provide a theme, and then do everything you can to make the human interest and drama angle explode. Reality TV has been the subject of numerous articles disappointed in mankind. Is anything sacred, we wonder? Will people really do anything, suffer any humiliation, just to be on TV? Do producers and TV networks have any shame?

Let me introduce the comic book series, 7 Days to Fame written by Buddy Scalera, art by Nick Diaz, Dennis Budd, John Statema, and Joe Caramagna, colors by Wilson Ramos, and letting by Chris Eliopoulos (comic are lengthy to attribute properly!). To summarize briefly, the story is about people who are so desperate that they agree to star in a reality show which leads up to their suicide in seven days and the creators who stumble on the idea. The show is a hit, despite the expected protests.

It is a good solid story, does not fall victim (as many comics do) to dithering on too long or being too brief and has some strong imagery.

(Picture taken by Buddy Scalera at NYCC2013. Art by Dennis Budd.)
Try as I might, I could not quite capture the emotion of the image of the desperate woman surrounded by a television production at the climax of her appearance on the reality show. I suppose I will have to shelve acting as a possible future career.

The artwork in the image above I obtained at Buddy Scalera’s booth in Artist Alley at NYCC2013. I do have to say that it is powerful imagery, and the best part is carrying it around while shopping at other booths. For inevitably, people will ask to see what you have concealed under your arms or against your chest.

And rotating that particular piece of artwork turned many grins into… well, whatever it is you call it when someone’s grin becomes frozen in awkwardness and confusion. They do not know what to say, what to think. Are they supposed to say it is awesome or cool, what I have? Or is that wrong? They know not.

One woman was completely enthused and intrigued by the story and was unafraid to say it. She all but forced me to direct her to Buddy’s booth.

However, the best part, the true madness and point of this story is what happens later. What happens when I leave the context of the comic book convention. When I travel far and away by train…

I’m walking in the suburbs to where I am staying for the week. It is night time, and I am exhausted from a long day’s conventioning. I pass by a parking garage which is currently inhabited by many young college students who are just killing time on the weekend. As I pass, one of the students notices what I’m carrying and asks me about it. I soon have a small audience of young men and women asking about the shocking illustration.

I do my best to explain the plot, but I am tired and I miss a vital part of my explanation. Two of the young women gasp, one covers her mouth. The other eagerly asks me when the “show” is airing on TV.


It’s true.

They thought it was part of merchandising for a real reality show.

And even the girl who gasped was somewhat disappointed when I explained it was fictional show in a comic book, not a real show.

…but one wonders. If society was just slightly different… in some alternate reality where life and death are just a smidge less sacred… is such a show playing right now?

The Red Men

It was the slowest wave she had ever seen. It was so slow, she wasn’t even certain when it actually began. She first noticed it when she stumbled over the red lump in the grass during her morning jog in the park.

On her hands and knees, she inspected the strange sudden protuberance that had thrust itself into her daily routine. The smooth ochre stone seemed to strain against the soil around it. Touching it, it feel hot and wet, but nothing came off on her fingers. Strange, she thought.

Dismissing it, she continued on her way.

It wasn’t until several days later that she noticed the lump was growing. She had diligently avoided the spot since then, either by going around or being sure to step over it. It wasn’t quite as smooth looking as she had first assumed. It was creased a bit at the edges. She reluctantly put aside her thought that the lump was a bowling ball that had gotten buried somehow.

As the weeks passed, her horror mounted. At first, she did not put together what she was seeing each day, but as the eyes erupted she was dismayed. It was beyond belief that a statue was not only buried, but heaving its way silently upward out of the soil.

And even more incredible is that no one else seemed to notice. Each day she watched other joggers, pedestrians and the like simply pass the ochre anomaly without notice. They never stumbled or tripped over it like she did, but yet they were also unaware. Aware and unaware.

She knew she should have stopped coming to the park. But she was drawn. She was witness. She didn’t know what she was seeing.

More weeks passed, and the statue was fully revealed. An ochre man in ochre clothes, with tears smeared like birdshit down his face.

Why are you weeping? She wanted to ask, but could only remain silent. What is happening?

The first was followed by more underneath, which raised the first on their shoulders. In turn, they were followed by more behind and below. And still, people did not see even when their numbers were in the hundreds, and then thousands. They rose in an eternity of months and eternity of years, a stair of crying ochre men stretching to the sun. Reaching upwards. A bloody, straining, grievous stairway to Hell.


The Pits

“Fuuuuuuuuck…” Johnny sighed, exhaling a long stream of tobacco smoke. He leaned back, placing his boots on the splintered counter in front of him. The light coming from the ballast above his head seemed to writhe and twist with as much impatience as he felt to leave.

And fuck, tonight’s event hadn’t even started yet. There was one more…


Thud. Thud.


Johnny straightened in his chair.

Finally, the late fuck is here, he thought.

Eventually the bootsteps reached the bottom of the stairs and a skinny rat-faced man with a covered crate, the kind you’d carry a small dog in, slipped through the doorway and took a seat at the stool in front of the counter. The sounds of the crowd milling about in the back room swelled in anticipation, as if they new the newcomer had just arrived even though no one but Johnny was minding the door.

“Name?” Johnny asked. He knew, of course, but the formalities were a necessity and a precaution.

The man opened his mouth to speak, but his eyes suddenly darted to the left of Johnny at the same time Johnny heard a crinkling sound behind him. Johnny whirled around in his chair.

A doll was rifling through the small cupboard by the minifridge. It paused, sensing it was discovered and turned to Johnny. Its dress was rumpled lace which may have been white, once.

“Please Mister, can I just have one cookie…?” It begged, gazing at him with empty eye sockets which had had their beads torn out some time ago. It twitched on cracked and broken joints.

“GET BACK IN YOUR CRATE!” Johnny roared. The doll shrieked and ran deeper into the building, in the direction of the dollhouses.

The violence in his voice silenced and protest the rat-faced man may have had about the treatment of the doll. Of course, if he had been the kind of person to complain about something like that, he wouldn’t have been there at all.

“Sorry about that,” Johnny muttered sheepishly. “Damn things are always finding new ways to get out. I prefer dogs, myself. Good thing they don’t seem to have much will to go far, eh? Now, about getting your info down…”

Johnny finished taking down the challenger’s information, inspected the doll he brought, locked the entrance, and led the man with his crate to the pits.