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The American Ballet Theater production, in its last year here. Next year it'll be in Costa Mesa, so anybody in the area really ought to see it. It's wonderful!

Eva was a massive crankypants during the first half of the show, to the point where I considered pitching her over the balcony, but I decided that'd be even more disruptive. (No, seriously, I considered leaving. Jenn could stay with Ana and her last-minute guest. This guest was why Eva was so cranky. My mother had had to bow out, and Eva was annoyed Ana was sitting and talking with her friend instead of her.)

She settled down during the second half, after we let her go to the cafe unattended and then switched seats so she could get a better view. THANK goodness!
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The scheduling... just doesn't work. It'll have to be one day a week, I think.

Very few kids make it this far, I think. Judging by the number of classes offered by level, and by the number of students in each class, I think most parents put their kids in Polliwog and once the kids move out, they quit swimming. Maybe they have the same attitude I hear from the girls sometimes - "Now I know how to swim!"
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Because it's impossible to ever discuss rape without somebody bringing up false reports, you know.

Obviously, the number of false reports is not actually zero. Equally obviously (to most of us), it's still pretty darn low.

I was wondering if anybody does have any concrete information on false reports. Like, are they usually "there was a rape, but the victim misidentified the attacker" or "there was no rape, victim didn't name names" or "they happen primarily in the context of an abusive situation, where the abuser files a rape report because, um, they're a bad person"? I would love to have some facts to tell people, but I just don't know where to start looking.
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Everybody was fine until about 5:30, 6am when Ana woke up with huge dental pain. Took a while to get them back asleep again, at which point I had to wonder if it was all worth it with the sun coming up. Jenn was out on a date, which we now know is really poor planning and I have informed her she needs to be here if braces are being tightened.

The girls are sleeping now, we'll just do school a little late today. (Advantage: Homeschool. Eva was up comforting her sister, and I would not have sent either of them to school today until they woke up on their own time.)


Now, I have been extremely reluctant to view any articles on the torture report. Perhaps you're with me on that. I intend to do so, just... when I have the emotional fortitude.

Luckily for me, other people have already read them and posted linkspam about it. Just reading the headlines is enough to make me queasy. First time I've ever stated a trigger warning for a link-to-a-link rather than an actual article.


The Wall Street Takeover of Charity

Countries vow to double Syria refugees intake

Syria's southern rebels take step toward unity

Syria, ISIS Have Been 'Ignoring' Each Other on Battlefield, Data Suggests

Russia's burgeoning ISIL problem

No proof so far that NSA bugged Merkel's phone: prosecutor

New Aluminum ‘Foam’ Makes Trains Stronger, Lighter, and Safer

The problem with unlimited vacation

Dollree Mapp, 1923-2014: “The Rosa Parks of the Fourth Amendment”

Lessons from Dunning-Kruger

Poroshenko makes appeal to Moscow a day after an official Russian presence in eastern Ukraine was confirmed by the OSCE.

Three Ukraine soldiers dead in first casualties since ceasefire

In world first, researchers convert sunlight to electricity with over 40 percent efficiency

Parable of the Polygons, a playable post on the shape of society

How Facebook Knows When Its Ads Influence Your Offline Purchases

Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue

Here’s all the plastic in the ocean, measured in whales

Hong Kong police dismantle pro-democracy protest site and make more arrests

Recommended shorter breast-radiation treatment catching on slowly

Chechnya, Russia and 20 years of conflict
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I had to get ready for the orthodontist appointment (Ana got her braces! Snazzy purple and teal bands), so when Ana suggested they do free-writing I said fine, that'd give me the time to run around the house and gather up cash I urgently needed to refill the Metrocard.

I left them for twenty minutes, and when I came back Ana had thrown her bedding and mattress off the top bunk, Eva was screaming, and the writing paper was utterly crumpled.

So after fixing that, and giving a very strong lecture on the subject of SCHOOL STUFF DURING SCHOOL HOURS, we got some math and spelling done. Then it was time for the orthodontist, and had I known we'd be waiting an hour before even seeing him, I would've brought more work with us.

Tommy remembered he was our cat and started following us to the bus. I had to double back, drop him over the nearest fence, and run for it as he yowled away behind me. Can't outrun a cat, so as soon as we turned a corner we ducked into a store.

"If we just hide out here for a few minutes, girls, he'll go away."

This is when I realized that everybody in the store was staring at us.

"Oh, not like that. It's a cat. He's following us. Yes, it sounds funny, but really, we're la - oh, wait - guys, away from the window!"

Everybody was laughing by this point except the girls and me. We knew better, and anyway, we were too busy making no noise and pretending we weren't there. The guy behind the counter was repeating the entire story on his phone, in Spanish. Really, it's no laughing matter. The cat stared very suspiciously at the door for a little over a minute before deciding we must have turned the other way and dashing off down the block. I kept looking over my shoulder as we high-tailed it out of there, convinced he had caught our scent and was even now running towards as at double speed.

We made it to the orthodontist and proceeded to wait... and wait... and wait. Theoretically the office was closed except for a few special appointments. For a closed office, they certainly had a lot of patients! The place was literally - and I do mean that literally - standing room only by the time we left at 4:45. We'd gotten there at 1. Should've brought more stuff to do with us. I hadn't realized how long the actual putting-in takes with braces.
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Everybody's feeling well, so we managed to finally do another full day of school, something we haven't managed since Thanksgiving what with everybody having teeth pulled and being sick and having more teeth pulled. They wouldn't have done school had they been in school either, but I wasn't feeling happy with that.

So we talked about the rise of herders. Now, as a segue into the later topic of "Herders and farmers: They don't get along" I brought up Cain and Abel, a story they were totally ignorant of. I said "Wow, we're going to really have to work on this, you need some more cultural awareness". They said they're not taking that this year. Ha ha ha - no, no, no. Cultural awareness, we need to work on that.

But anyway, as I pointed out, the conflict between herders and farmers is quite literally one of the oldest ones in the book. And by "the book" I mean in this case "the Bible", but it's definitely not the only one.

The takeaway that Ana got from this is "Um, is it just me, or is God kinda acting like a... well... a jerk?" Thank you, Ana, for that insightful contribution to interfaith dialog, and yes, he kinda is, but oddly enough that's not quite what we were talking about this time.

After that digression we returned to the main theme: Herders and farmers, they don't get along. Indeed, I went to google to illustrate that point, and I found several relatively recent news articles about conflicts between herders and farmers. (That's "recent" in comparison to the fact that we're doing ancient history, but the point is still valid.)

As I told them, and will continue to tell them, if they learn nothing else in our study of ancient history that should be the takeaway: Herders and farmers, they don't get along. You can sum up entire cultures with that pithy phrase, if you end the conversation quickly enough once you've done so.
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Somebody asks for books "for a beginning reader", "for an eight year old girl", "for a 14 year old sci-fi fan", "American historical fiction for middle school", and I check out what people have suggested. Might find something new... right?

Naaaah, just rehashes of the same 5 books per category, all featuring an unvarying cast of white folk, primarily boys and men.

So I use my prodigious library and trusty google and find a few more options that fit the bill but that have some diversity, and everybody thanks me (or they don't) and I go about my day, and tomorrow there's another person looking for books, and I check, and it's ALL THE SAME BOOKS.

Why do they even bother asking? So I reply with a different set of books with non-white or Jewish or disabled characters, and I wonder if anybody ever notices that my booklists are as filled with Asians/Hispanics/Blacks as theirs are devoid of them. I wonder if they even notice that they only ever suggest books about white kids.

And I could post my own request asking specifically for a diverse cast, and people would respond... and then tomorrow, when asked for historical fiction or fantasy or books about ballerinas it would be the same old list, back to normal.

Part of the problem is that people tend to continually recommend only those books they read as kids, and many times those books were just like that. The rest of it... I don't know. I was raised in such a way that even as a child I habitually counted up the characters on TV and movies and in books and sorted them by race and gender. (Then again, my favorite game was sorting my crayons by color, followed by sorting my MLPs. Maybe it's just an offshoot of an aspie thing.) Maybe they weren't. Maybe that's it.

All I know is sometimes I want to shake people.

Also: Sooner or later I have to make my own masterlist. I'm tired of having to go to five different sites to find PoC's in early chapter books, another three sites to find Jews in American historical fiction, two for disabilities in sci-fi/fantasy....
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Can't get it out. Have to take it in to be fixed. We're under warranty, and I can take it in to a place just off the boat, so how long do you figure it'll take before I can have it back?

(At least at the same time they can replace my two missing keys.)


California's drought is the worst in 1,200 years, evidence suggests

Thurgood Marshall Blasted Police for Killing Black Men With Chokeholds 30 Years Ago

Ecuador indigenous leader found dead days before planned Lima protest

Crow leader says climate plan would hurt tribe

Ebola fears bring female genital mutilation to near halt in Sierra Leone

Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues

Sleepy space probe New Horizons awakens for close-up with Pluto

NSA's Auroragold spies on carriers to breach cell networks, report says

Six Guantanamo detainees transferred to Uruguay as Obama works to close prison

Old laptop batteries could power slums, IBM says

All life on Earth is made of molecules that twist in the same direction. New research reveals that this may not always have been so

Hong Kong's hidden rooftop slums

5% of New York cops turn in 40% of "resisting arrest" cases

Does an Innocent Man Have the Right to Be Exonerated?

Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix.

Chicken farmer who spoke out about factory farm abuses immediately audited by Perdue

Al-Qaeda group’s gains in Syria undermine U.S. strategy

Scientists Confirm These Really Are the Bones of Richard III

When It Comes to Echolocation, Some Bats Just Wing It

Why do we cling to beliefs when they’re threatened by facts?

Shutting down Australia's Aboriginal areas

New funding laws threaten the existence of remote indigenous communities already facing profound social issues.

Yemen migrant boat carrying Ethiopians sinks killing 70

Poland counts the cost of losing millions of its workers

US draft guidance on circumcision at odds with trends overseas

Suicide surpassed war as the military's leading cause of death

Promising compound rapidly eliminates malaria parasite

The Assassin Bug Wears Its Victims’ Corpses as Armor

Planet Reboot: Fighting Climate Change With Geoengineering
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Except Eva. It has not been a fun St. Nicholas day, but at least Ana is well enough to sit up and play on the ipad. Yesterday she was so sick she was just crying and miserable at bedtime.

I'm keeping an eye on things (sorta) and using the computer to at least stay awake. It's fun.


It's mean boys, not mean girls, who rule at school, study shows

Marked for deportation, Iraq war resisters fight to stay in Canada

Up to two dozen military deserters would likely face stiff penalties upon return to US

City ants are garbage eating, rat-fighting machines

The Red Cross CEO Has Been Serially Misleading About Where Donors’ Dollars Are Going

Bhopal: Tragedy lives on

30 years later, survivors of lethal gas leak still fight for justice

Congrats, you survived the 15 hottest years ever

Ignoring indigenous rights in Amazon fuels global warming - study

Rain brings relief and fear to drought-stricken California

What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

With death of unarmed Phoenix man, has national debate reached critical mass?

No Such Thing as Racial Profiling

Racial profiling will still be allowed at airports, along border despite new policy

There Aren’t Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Hear that? That’s the sound of the ocean dying

Giraffes are silently disappearing

Physics, or sorcery?

Whooping Cough Epidemic? Get Used to It

The post-antibiotic future is here: Chilling report highlights the reality of a global crisis

To combat an unexpected, mutated version of influenza, the CDC has warned Americans to supplement their shots with anti-viral medicine.

Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?

‘You will not be arrested for using drugs’: What a sane drug policy looks like

America has stopped paying attention, but Ebola is still ravaging Sierra Leone

A handful of farmers and crop scientists are struggling to save the fast diminishing stock of agricultural diversity for the rest of us.

The remarkable collapse of our trust in government, in one chart

Do our brains pay a price for GPS?

French ISIL fighters want to return home, plead for clemency

Syria conflict: Amnesty says rich nations failing refugees

Nigeria's Boko Haram Violence Now Comparable to ISIS in Iraq

ISIS-linked Camps in Libya Fan Concerns About Growing Militant Threat
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To which I said "yeah, it happens". My father? Hair totally white by the time he was 40.

So I wondered - is this early? Normal? Apparently it is perfectly normal... for white people. Which I am, of course, but it seems that white people go gray, on average, earlier than other ethnic groups. I had no idea! That is truly something I would never have suspected.
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She had a book to give me to put on the shelf, so she sidled towards me, then turned around so her back was to me. Then, speaking out of the corner of the mouth she informed me that "the package has been delivered".

Me: Uh, Eva? What's with the spy stuff?
Eva, not turning around: Pleasure doing business with you.

LOL, I don't know where she gets it from!

They had the last of their orthodontist-required teeth pulled yesterday. Well, I say they, actually the dentist opted to not pull Eva's final baby tooth, his exact words being "I'm not here to traumatize this child". He's a bit of a soft touch. He promised to tell the orthodontist this personally, but he didn't realize our orthodontist appointment was today, so... yeah.


‘Separate and unequal’: Racial segregation flourishes in US suburbs


President George W. Bush says grand jury decision not to indict chokehold cop ‘hard to understand’

Police think we’re the enemy: There will be more Fergusons if we keep militarizing local cops

Obama resists demands to curtail police militarisation calling instead for improved officer training

Chokehold cop had been sued THREE TIMES before Eric Garner death

You know, I see some jerkfaces on the internet going that of course it made sense to arrest Eric Garner over a stupid petty crime, because of his whole history of stupid, petty crimes, after a while you just have to stop issuing tickets if they don't work.

I'm just going to save this article to throw in their stupid faces.

How Police Unions and Arbitrators Keep Abusive Cops on the Street

White Cops File Suit, Claim They Are Punished Too Much For Shooting People

Ferguson, Staten Island: Similar events bring very different reaction

I Told a Grand Jury I Saw a Cop Shoot and Kill an Unarmed Man. It Didn't Indict.

Texas Grand Jury Clears Two White Cops Who Brutally Beat a Black Woman Over an Unpaid Traffic Ticket

Black, gay and shot dead in his own car: this is another Missouri killing we should talk about

The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On

US Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low

The end of the population pyramid

Global economic malaise driven by unemployment and low wages

Republicans Back to Raising Taxes on the Poor

How America Punishes People for Being Poor

Real world contradicts right-wing tax theories

Big banks broke America: How to achieve the ultimate revenge against them now

Police Breaking Down Huge California Homeless Camp

Dark money is seeping into US courtrooms and threatening judicial independence

The Incredible Shrinking Incomes of Young Americans

Fast food workers’ strike fueled by other low-wage employees, Eric Garner

Think riots have never caused change in America? Think again

Georgia’s Top Court Reins In Private Probation Firms For Illegally Extending Sentences
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The temperatures aren't intuitive to her, but whatever. Some of what she's doing is identifying whether a temperature signifies "a nice spring day" or "snowy weather" or "a mild fever", which requires her to think. (It makes me think too, carefully saying aloud the procedure for converting from Celsius to Fahrenheit. I'm inordinately proud of being able to do that.)

Eva can work from the touchstones of 0 - 37 - 100 if she tries, but to help her out I gave her the same mnemonic I learned (and then passed on to Ana) two years ago: 30 is hot, 20 is nice, 10 is cold, 0 is...

When I told Ana that, she automatically finished with "ice". Eva said "freezing", which is true, but...

You know, now that I think about it, this is a longstanding thing of hers. She doesn't make rhymes. I mean, she CAN rhyme, if I tell her to give me a rhyme for bat she'll say cat and whatever, but she doesn't grasp where the obvious rhyme should go. I recite a bit of doggeral or a bit from a more hifalutin' poem, and at the end Ana will pop up with the obvious rhyme and Eva will say something totally different, and she doesn't even realize she's doing it.

Should I be concerned about this?
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She picked two letters, and then her boss picked two letters, and somebody else picked two letters, and somehow that meant I got the job of working with the kids to pick out gifts. Which would have been more fun if 3 out of the 6 letters hadn't wanted the same things :)

Those same things were Batman, Spiderman, or Superman items, and as I am constitutionally incapable of giving a child a present that is not a book, and as Christmas money stretches a lot further when it doesn't include clothing (because we didn't have their sizes), I included several related books for those kids. Easy peasy.

One kid wanted a specific toy truck, and he was also easy peasy - I Stink! and Scarry's Cars and Trucks book to go with it. At this point the girls wandered off to the library, after giving advice on the last one, Board Game kid. I ignored their advice - I'm not sure if his parents want an 8 year old playing Guillotine, even if our family thinks that's just fine.

Then we come to our sole girl. She is a fan of Doc McStuffins. Sounds great! Turns out that Amazon reviews of very nearly every Doc McStuffins toy reveal that they are cheaply made and fall apart rapidly. I thought maybe I'd guesstimate her size and get her a hoodie or mittens or something. No dice, the only Doc McStuffins tie-in clothing that comes larger than toddler size turned out to be panties. I'm not getting a stranger's kid underwear as a secret Santa thing! There is NO WAY that's not creepy!

I settled on a doll and a whole heck of a lot of Doc McStuffins books. Luckily it's anonymous, because if somebody gave my darling that many tie-in books I think I'd want to kill them. Well, she's six, she's learning to read, and she writes very nicely, so maybe she won't pester Mom and Dad too much!

Last kid wanted board games to play with his four brothers and sisters. He said he "likes to play Sorry". Does that mean he would like Sorry? Or that he already has Sorry? I hope it's the latter, because that's what I went with. He also got a couple of books to go with his games.

Doing Good isn't supposed to be so stressful! Now I'm worried that we got too much stuff, and their parents are going to want to kill us because it won't all fit into the apartment. Well, good thing it's anonymous!
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Fleeing the horrors of South Sudan fighting

Landfills, which house garbage for eternity, are increasingly becoming power plants</>

German company wants to turn cloud computing into distributed heating

Detroit's young gentrifiers face a daunting task in buying $500 homes: evicting poor residents

New Class of Polymers Discovered By Accident

Large, unauthorized convoy enters east Ukraine from Russia: Ukrainian military

As climate warms, more outbreaks of disease for sea life

We're Kidding Ourselves on 2-Degree Global Warming Limit: Experts

Here's How the US Could Pretty Much Eliminate Carbon Dioxide Pollution

Iraq uncovers 50,000 'ghost soldiers'

Studies show that physicians often write prescriptions based on their beliefs about what patients expect, even when the patient does not ask for a prescription directly.

Hundreds march in New Delhi for gay pride in Modi's India

The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More

How Immigrants Will Save Social Security

Photos of NYC during the 1970s. I'm partial to the kids dancing on the car.

Slavery levels in UK 'higher than thought'

Bringing up the bodies: Mexico's missing students draw attention to 20,000 'vanished' others

FBI Report Accidentally Exposes the Severity of the Police State

Retired cops side with Ferguson protesters

The NFL's Indentured Servants

Graphene shows promise for bulletproof armour

In Brooklyn, gentrification wipes out pigeons and chickens to make room for cats and dogs

NYC Panel Nears Decision on Police Chokehold Death

NOAA: 2014 is shaping up as hottest year on record


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