Friday, May 23, 2008

News Bytes

1. Joe Biden, while carefully not endorsing Obama, is speaking out on his behalf in a big way today. It seems he has penned an article in the Wall Street Journal defending Obama's views on national security. Is our perennial Delaware senator positioning himself to fill a potential Kennedy void in the Democratic Party?

2. The Texas courts have ruled that the raid on the so-called FLDS compound went too far when it seized 400+ children. They are to be returned to their families within 10 days. It is, of course, under appeal, so we'll see if that happens. I don't agree with the lifestyle this group espouses, but I am quite certain I disagree with a system that removes children from their homes and families in such large numbers with so little evidence.

3. Mitt Romney is one of three men visiting McCain's ranch in Sedona, Arizona, this weekend in what is clearly a VP screening. I really am not sure how I feel about the idea of Romney as VP to McCain. It would be a surefire way for McCain to secure my vote, but it would be hard to stomach all the same. Anyway, in honor of Mitt Romney's return to the news headlines, I dug up this little gem from February. Enjoy:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Animal Behavior

With apologies for some unflattering shots of my backside, I had to share this little clip my husband took of me feeding our duckling flock. This is my third year raising ducklings, but my first year using actual duck parents. The last two years I raised them myself under a brooder lamp in my basement, taking them outside each day and sitting with them in the grass so they could run around. I tried to get them to imprint on me, but they remained very standoffish. As they became old enough to have the run of the place, spending their days on our pond, I would often have to go out on a boat to herd them off the pond at feeding time. They would sometimes come near me, but would never eat out of my hand or let me touch them in any way.

This year, we had a successful outdoor hatching with our nesting pair. The hen laid too many eggs to incubate herself, so I put some in an indoor incubator. In the end, she and I hatched out 19 ducklings. She has raised 16 of those. The other 3 hatched after all the rest, and I was unable to get the mother to accept them as hers, so I have kept those inside as in the past. The point of all this is that I find it fascinating that the 16 being raised by a mother duck follow me around the yard, pecking on my feet and clamoring for food. They are full of adventurous confidence. The 3 I am raising are shy and keep their distance from me. It's as if being without a natural mother has left them feeling cautious and unsure of themselves.

You can see in this clip that I have a hard time walking for all the ducklings thronged around my feet. And it's not just me--just this morning, they all chased my piano tuner to his car. Fortunately, he was a good sport about it.

(Technical note: This was recorded on a digital point and shoot. The clicking sound you hear is the auto-focus continually adjusting. For all my love of technology, you'd think I'd have better toys.)

Monday, May 19, 2008


Courtesy of Lorien . . . my 3's:

3 Joys

-My children. I was going to include them in with "my family," but they fill an entirely different portion of my soul than the rest of my family, so they deserve top billing all on their own. They are part of almost every waking moment of my life and I have learned to love that aspect of my life. I have already learned so much about love (and patience) from them and I can feel myself learning more every day.
-My family. My wonderful husband is truly my very best friend in life. He has never spoken a cruel word to me and has been my safe and secure haven from the world going on 16 (yikes!) years. My parents, too, have given me such unfailing love and support throughout every twist and turn life has dealt me.
-My home. There is no place on earth where I feel the peace I feel at my home. I love feeling like I am in my own little world, being able to walk outside and see nothing but trees and hear nothing but nature.

3 Fears

-Being separated from my children, either by death or some other unthinkable event.
-The dark. I need to see what's coming. I probably have big control issues.
-The dentist. The smells! The sounds! The horror!

3 Goals

-To help my Austin to have a full and productive life.
-To go back to school. I am such a school junkie. I don't even know what I would study, but I would love to go to graduate school someday.
-To take my kids on a cross-country roadtrip. This may prove to be out of reach, but I would love to do it.

3 Current Obsessions or Collections

Obsession is my main modus operandi. If I like something for more than 5 minutes, chances are I will develop an obsession with it. I can be awfully fickle, though, and easily abandon one obsession for the next. I do have a few enduring obsessions, however.

-Computers. If it can get done on a computer, it always moves to the top of my to-do list. I love my machines. Love, love, love.
-Organizing. Most people who know me will fall over in shock when they read this, because I am not very organized. I am, however, completely and dysfunctionally addicted to the process. I love to plan, make lists, schedules, flowcharts, etc. I could do it all day long--on my computer, of course.
-Autism. Don't ever ask me about this topic unless you are prepared to cruelly pull the plug on the conversation, because I could go on for hours. Causation, symptoms, biomedical treatments, behavioral interventions, I find it all endlessly fascinating.

3 Random/Surprising Facts

-I love to do my taxes. Early in our marriage, John and I used to compete over who got to do them. It was always a big victory for the one who got hold of the W2 first. Yeah, I know, I'm a freakish nerd. I'm okay with that.
-I hate chocolate and soda.
-When I was in college, I was a subversive, liberal, vegetarian (for a little while, anyway), grunge-loving, man-hating, shaved-head, cross-dressing, folksinger. I looked like this:

Just be glad the picture is not bigger.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


So, I first started out to have an autism-themed blog. I didn't get very far, because I felt too constrained to say profound and meaningful things about autism for every post. It's hard enough to be profound and meaningful in general, but narrowing it down to one topic makes it an even harder target to hit.

So time passed and I got a burst of political fervor and thought I would start a political blog. This was slightly easier to do, since there is a never-ending source of new political happenings to form opinions about. However, my stomach is not really cut out for a steady diet of those topics either.

I started reading some of my friends' blogs and realized that I wished I had a blog where I could just chat about whatever I was in a fervor about at the moment. Sometimes that will be autism, sometimes that will be politics, and sometimes it will be randomness. So, I have resurrected this first blog, thrown in everything from the second one, and I'll see where it goes from here.

Over and out.

Monday, May 5, 2008

For Whom the "Belle" Tolls

I love animals. I had many in my youth, including two horses. Riding a horse is magnificent. To be able to experience firsthand the power and speed of one of these animals is exhilarating. Watching them run is the next best thing. I have long admired the strength and grace of the thoroughbred racehorse, looking forward each year to the Kentucky Derby.

This year, of course, the Derby ended with a tragedy that is becoming far too commonplace in horse racing. When Eight Belles finished second only to suddenly break both legs in such a calamitous fashion that euthanisation was the only option, every racing fan's mind went immediately to Barbaro, who met a similar fate just two years ago. How can these animals be so frail that their legs can not hold up under the very activity they were born to do? Has the sport become so much about the big money and prestige involved that there is no true love of the animal left? With horses being bred for speed at the expense of every other valuable quality, horse racing is quickly becoming an exploitative spectacle instead of the celebration of an inspiring animal that may be tamed but remains always wild in spirit.

Belle's death tolls a warning for this sport. Let us hope it will be heeded before tragedy becomes the new legacy of the racehorse.