Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Stunning – No, Make That Stunned – Hummingbird

I’ve been thinking of putting out a feeder, but it appears there are hazards I hadn’t considered. For instance, unconscious hummingbirds.

UFD I. Photo courtesy Connie.

UFD I. Photo courtesy Connie.

This is my friend Connie’s wife Tanya holding a hummingbird that passed out cold after having a sip of nectar. Fell backwards off the perch and splat on the ground. This is apparently rare, but happens from time to time. It certainly makes the little buggers easier to photograph.

UFD II. Photo courtesy Connie.

UFD II. Photo courtesy Connie.

Tanya picked the poor little thing off the ground and gave it a bit of a warm, and after a bit it was good as new. Before it recovered, everyone got a good close view and some very nice photos. They’d also given it a name, Hum.

UFD III. Photo courtesy Connie.

UFD III. Photo courtesy Connie.

Adorable, but somewhat sad, seeing one like this. But it seems to have recovered well, thanks to a loving hand, and now hummingbird lovers will have a prime opportunity to identify our fainting friend. While you do that, I need to reassess the wisdom of placing a feeder on the third floor. If birds are going to sometimes lose consciousness, it’s probably best if the distance between them and the ground is short…

Fundamentals of Fungi: Nature Decorates with a Delicate Orange Crepe

No 2000+ word screeds today, I’m afraid – I’d had all the research done for what I wanted to write, only it turned out to not be what I want to write, and so I’m busy with further research for what I really want to write, which is hopefully going to be what I want to write about tomorrow. I’d be a good distance along by now, except I put an episode of Vera on in the background and got sucked in by mistake. Someday, I’ll have to talk about that show. A complete dissertation will have to wait until I’ve acclimated to the accents. Getting there.

Anyway, seeing as how Seattle’s continuing its campaign to ensure our winter is nothing but cold, wet, soggy, and far from picturesque, I thought I’d put a dash of color in. This is a strange little something I saw growing all over a tree at Juanita Bay during a drippy February two years ago. That’s one thing about fungi. It adds a touch of interest to otherwise drab scenery.

Fungi I

Fungi I

The next time the sky stops dripping, I should go back down to Juanita and see what else is growing round there. You can see things in the winter you wouldn’t be able to see any other season. Leaves, you know. Stupid leaves everywhere. You know what takes care of that? Volcanic eruptions. Also, winter. But the volcanic eruptions are rather more unusual and interesting, so we’ll be discussing their effect on trees within the next week or two. Problem with eruptions is they also strip the fungi from trees, so I suppose when I go to Juanita, I’ll be grateful we’re in the lowland where directed blasts aren’t to blame for the bare branches.

I mean, this never would have survived a good scouring from a pyroclastic density current, would it? It looks rather delicate.

Fungi II

Fungi II

Right. That’s pretty, then. Nature is pretty good at this exterior decorating stuff. At least until other aspects of nature go off like bombs and muck it all up.  We could probably have a long and productive conversation about impermanence and that sort o’ thing, but I’ve got to get back to work or you won’t have the enthralling missive on some aspect of volcanic eruptions or other that you deserve.

A Refresher for Allies

Recently, I watched a conversation among allies go sadly awry. This was a private venue and I won’t repeat the specifics. They’re not necessary, really: gather together a mixed collection of people whose goals are similar but backgrounds are not, and you can watch the same thing happen. The folks in the group that are members of whatever minority or underprivileged group will eventually end up in the unenviable position of explaining to members of the the majority or privileged group that the tactic they think is so clever is problematic. Rather than admitting this is so and dropping the subject, members of the privileged group tend to dig in. It looks something like this:

Privileged Person A: Making fun of racists by using racist stereotypes to show them how stupid those stereotypes are – brilliant!

Minority Member A: Um, no, because it risks reinforcing stereotypes. Also, splash damage.

PPA: I don’t see it that way because reasons.

MMA, with B, C and D chiming in: It’s a problem.

PPA: Okay, it’s a problem for you. I totally get that. But it’s brilliant! Because reasons.

MMA, B, C and D: Collective headdesk.

As a person who’s a member of some privileged groups, and also a member of some non-privileged groups, I’ve experienced both sides. When I’m wearing my Privileged Person hat, I’ve had to learn something important: when non-privileged people are speaking, it’s time for me to shut up, listen, and then go away for a good think before defending my position.

It’s hard. I admit that. It’s bloody hard to have non-privileged people tell me that something I love, or something I think is a brilliant tactic for confronting injustice, is problematic. I want to get defensive. I want to find reasons they’re wrong. I want to go on loving my problematic something, or using the brilliant but problematic technique. I want to wave away the problems. The non-privileged person just doesn’t understand, or can’t see it for what it is, or is wrong. Right?

Possibly. But I’ve learned they’re right the overwhelming majority of the time, and especially when the lines break cleanly between privileged and non-privileged, it’s up to me to shut the fuck up, listen carefully, reconsider my assumptions, and try to see things through their eyes. Even when they haven’t been nice about it. Even when emotions are running high. Even when I think it’s a fun argument to have. Even if I think I’m right.

After watching that conversation go horribly awry because the privileged weren’t listening to the non-privileged members of the group, I headed off to spelunk the intertoobz for a few refresher posts. In addition to important work by our own bloggers – Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Jason Thibeault, Jen McCreight, Crommunist, Natalie Reed, Zinnia Jones, Ashley F. Miller, Avicenna, Paul Fidalgo, Miri, and PZ Meyers – there’s quite a lot out there helping allies become better allies. This is but a tiny sampling.

Hershele Ostropoler’s foot-stepping analogy is always critical to remember. It covers allies and non-allies alike.

If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.

If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

Sometimes, a refresher on what privilege is and why it can lead to inadvertent foot-stomping is a necessary thing.

The fact that people are stupid isn’t news, however. And actually that’s kind of why the concept of privilege is important – because privilege isn’t about being stupid. It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, or something with a moral or value judgement of any kind attached to it. Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about. Being told you have privilege, or that you’re privileged, isn’t an insult. It’s a reminder! The key to privilege isn’t worrying about having it, or trying to deny it, or apologize for it, or get rid of it. It’s just paying attention to it, and knowing what it means for you and the people around you. Having privilege is like having big feet. No one hates you for having big feet! They just want you to remember to be careful where you walk.

This reminder of what allies are was written for allies of autistic people, but applies to allies of any people.

But here’s the thing: if you are trying to be an ally, you need to recognize that it’s not about you. If you are talking over Autistics or otherwise bringing the discussion back to center on ‘allies’, you are not a real ally. Real allies tell these people “don’t do that shit. This isn’t about you.”

If you are really an ally, you are not going to make it about your feelings. Declaring yourself an ally isn’t something you get to do. If you are really fighting with us and for us, it should be because it’s right, not because you want an “Ally!” sticker for your Good Person collection.

A conditional ally, by the way, is not an ally at all. Anyone who says they’d be for your cause if you weren’t so mean/if you personally educated them on every issue/if you were more appreciative is not an ally. Again, it’s not about the privileged group’s feelings here-it’s about equal rights and about our very existence. My exasperation with nearly everything does not reduce my personhood or the fact that I should have equal rights.

The following article address that distress we privileged folk feel when being called out, and why we really need to get the fuck over ourselves. This snippet begins with a quote from a person talking about the Chik-fil-A explosion, and ends with a reminder that while the Distress of the Privileged is real, it’s not as painful as the Distress of the Non-Privileged, and we need to face that fact.

“This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.”

[snip]

Confronting this distress is tricky, because neither acceptance nor rejection is quite right. The distress is usually very real, so rejecting it outright just marks you as closed-minded and unsympathetic. It never works to ask others for empathy without offering it back to them.

At the same time, my straight-white-male sunburn can’t be allowed to compete on equal terms with your heart attack. To me, it may seem fair to flip a coin for the first available ambulance, but it really isn’t. Don’t try to tell me my burn doesn’t hurt, but don’t consent to the coin-flip.

We also need to remember the very real difference between offense and harm.

Mocking the powerful and privileged for those characteristics society arbitrarily uses as a basis for according that power and privilege reverses, rather than participating in and reinforcing, the cultural narrative that justifies their privilege (and that in so doing necessarily justifies the marginalization and oppression of the powerless and unprivileged).  Mocking the powerless and unprivileged for those characteristics society arbitrarily uses as a basis for their marginalization does participate in and reinforce the narratives that justify that marginalization.

These things build up.  Over a lifetime, they build up a great deal: these usually-unspoken cultural narratives are precisely the stuff of implicit bias, and we’re soaking in them.  It’s a mistake to object to them as merely “offensive” — tacitly accepting that the inherently subjective idea of offense is of primary importance, which enables the privileged in claiming, confident it can’t be disproved or even argued against, that they’re “offended” by challenges to their privilege: or as Fred Clark has it, empowers the cult of offendedness — instead of pointing out that they do real harm.  They offend too, to be sure; and it’s unkind to offend on  purpose, or to fail to apologize for giving offense.  But the much greater harm lies in strengthening, even though it’s only a little bit at a time, the negative stories about marginalized groups that are woven into our society, both in the minds of the privileged, and of the marginalized people themselves.

This piece on privilege, politeness, and teaching was written about racism, but you can substitute sexism, ageism, ableism, or a variety of other -isms. Allies need to absorb this bit, because it will save butts from being hurt when tempers flare.

So if you say something racist I may write a detailed reply pointing it out and teaching a bit. I may also go off. Or I may just ignore it. It all depends. Depends on if I just spent the whole day dealing with racism, if I know you, if I think you can learn, if it’s something that’s been repeated over and over and I’m tired of dealing with it and think that you as an (assumed) intelligent person should know better. But you know what they say “If if was a fifth we’d all be drunk.” The point is I should not be expected to respond to racism with a happy-go-lucky smile and a will to teach. I’m not saying it’s okay to say ‘You stupid shit how dare you write this!’ There is a difference between being angry when addressing racism (or sarcastic or “rude”) and insulting people.

See this post has been brewing a long time which is maybe why I seem so “angry” or “rude”. I’ve noticed that when discussions of racism happen online the posts that go up in the aftermath, even some of the ones that address and acknowledge the issues of racism in the incident still say “They didn’t have to be rude about it. There was no call for it.” or “If they had just been more polite the person would have listened.” or some other variation (they of course referring to POC). What these people fail to understand is that if you’ve said something racist and fucked up you’ve already been rude to me. You’ve already offended me and ignorance is no excuse because you are a grown person, you can read, you can research, you can figure out how to treat people with respect and equality.

Here is a missive reminding us that molehills, while perhaps not as lofty or noticeable as the Alps, are still damned important in the aggregate:

And, in a very real way, ignoring “the little things” in favor of “the big stuff” makes the big stuff that much harder to eradicate, because it is the pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable little things that create the foundation of a sexist culture on which the big stuff is dependent for its survival. It’s the little things, the constant drumbeat of inequality and objectification, that inure us to increasingly horrible acts and attitudes toward women.

In conclusion, I’d like to point up two recent posts by my own Freethought bloggers. Stephanie Zvan on argument:

It’s different when the argument you’re being asked to engage in “for fun” is essentially the same argument you have to have over and over in order to be allowed to fully participate in society. Or, say, to avoid being beaten to death, depending on where you are and what the argument is.

I shouldn’t have to say it, but there’s no way that can be fun. It’s just more work, with very high stakes, that you can neither afford to skip nor allow yourself to lose.

And Paul Fidalgo on shutting up and listening:

Take this opportunity to see if you can understand how you were wrong, how what you said could hurt. Instead of a war of words to prove your equality-cred in the moment, decide to take in the criticism as a tool for next time. Use what you’ve learned to get better at expressing your ideas. Use what you’ve learned to better understand where people who have lived very different lives are coming from.

You’ll have so many chances in your life to be right. You’re a skepto-atheist, after all. But in times like this, it’s okay to be wrong. It’s okay, as long as when you have been called out, you take the opportunity to improve yourself through acceptance of the criticism.

Use what you’ve learned to become wiser.

All of us will find ourselves in a position of privilege amongst the non-privileged at some point in our lives. We’re much less likely to trod on already-trodden-upon feet if we pause, inhale, and remember the above. And when we’re wearing our non-privileged hats in mixed company, hopefully more of our allies will have taken the time to do the same.

 

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Mystery Flora: Early to Rise

People. There’s stuff blooming in the bleeding middle of January. Either the plants are very confused, or this bush is very brave.

Mystery Flower I

Mystery Flower I

Here ’tis, lustily blooming on in the middle of a deep freeze. This was taken on the same day I went about looking at needle ice and  leaves encased in ice. And right across the street from those frozen leaves, here’s this bush, acting like it was a warm spring day rather than the kind of weather that could freeze the toes off a sled dog.

Mystery Flower II

Mystery Flower II

It doesn’t even have the decency to look chilled. Chill, perhaps. Unfussed. Some of the plants here don’t seem to understand what winter is, or what a typical plant is supposed to do during it. Then again, it could be global warming.

Mystery Flower III

Mystery Flower III

This one has a fetching blue berry appearing here and there amongst the thick green foliage and the pink buds.

Mystery Flower IV

Mystery Flower IV

So this is obviously some sort of cultivated bush, likely imported from somewhere or other, and plunked down in an office park, where it happily blooms in the middle of winter. What is this brave plant, my darlings?

Sunday Song: Eternal Ice

I’ve been pining for winter. Yes, I know it’s winter, but it’s one of those warmish Seattle winters where it’s just solid gray and dribbly. No lovely white snow (and right now, I’d give up a day’s driving for snow. Snow! Sparkly white pretty snow! Just something, anything, different than this endless dripping gray). Too much greenery amongst the gray. It’s not a proper winter at all, yet it’s cold. Ish. Not cold according to people who know from cold, like Minnesotans. But cold according to Seattle standards. That just makes the whole thing drab and disappointing.

It has gotten so bad that I went out in the dead of a dark night to tromp through the millimeter of snow that was falling, because snow.

We did have an interesting stretch of below-freezing weather coupled with brilliant sunlight that had the frost working overtime. Oh, people. Such frost! We had freezing fogs, and frozen ground, and frozen things everywhere, some of it tough enough to withstand the sunshine so that it gleamed and glistened, some that survived only in the shadows. So lovely. I put on ye new winter clothes (part of my angst is that, for once, I am properly kitted out for winter adventuring – and there’s no winter adventuring within walking distance), and I went out to get some lovely images. I found all sorts of wonderful things. Now I have spelunked YouTube for winter songs, and I can get us properly set up with winter music and winter scenes. Huzzah!

We’ll start with needle ice. And, of course, for ice that looks like it’s building an ice palace, you need an Ice Queen, so we’ll also begin with Within Temptation’s “Ice Queen.”

(I would have given you the official version, but it’s one of the worst videos I’ve ever seen, including one of the band members looking like he’s trying to pinch a loaf on camera without benefit of a toilet, so no. Just, no. Note to record labels: you’ll have much more success with your music videos if they don’t suck leper donkey dick. Just sayin’.)

Right. Needle ice. Have you ever seen needle ice? I know Gregory has, and in the same weekend. Perhaps he’ll show us his if I show you mine, eh?

Needle ice.

Needle ice.

So I’m learning things about ice and the bizarre things it can do. This happens when the ground is above freezing but the air is not. If the ground has lots of water in it, capillary action or hydrostatic pressure can be bringing it to the surface, where it freezes in the below-freezing air, whilst the liquid water in the not-frozen ground below keeps rising. Et voilaneedle ice!

The first place I found needle ice was the strip of soil between the sidewalk and the rock wall, which is dry and home to some sort of wasp in summer, but is perpetually damp in winter.

Needle ice in situ.

Needle ice in situ.

Some of the needle ice right next to the sidewalk is overturned and churned. If you embiggen the photo, you’ll notice the ground next to it is bumpy – if you pulled on that ground, you’d pull needles of ice out. It was bizarre.

Needle ice beside the sidewalk.

Needle ice beside the sidewalk.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. I’ve seen frost and ice, and I’ve seen them do pretty things, but nothing quite like this. I’ve never paid attention before. I’d not have been paying attention now, except Michael Klaas posted a bit about frost flowers on G+ a while ago, and that’s made me willing to bestir myself in bloody cold weather in search of beautiful patterns of frozen water.

You hear about things like frost weathering and so forth, you know ice has some power, but it’s one thing to read about and another to see. (And speaking of seeing – this video has some very nice geology in it).

Appetite whetted for awesome ice, I headed over to a portion of the road that’s in perpetual shade in the winter. It’s generally moist over there. This time, it was white with frost – and filled with needle ice.

Needle ice pushing up bits o' moss.

Needle ice pushing up bits o’ moss.

It’s kind of flopping over. This stuff sometimes grows in curves. Quite interesting.

Curved needle ice.

Curved needle ice.

Here it’s pushing up bits of moss that had been quietly covering the soil. Nearby, it was pushing pebbles.

Needle ice lifting pebbles.

Needle ice lifting pebbles.

And you notice the cavities – there are a lot of voids in the ice.

Caverns in needle ice.

Caverns in needle ice.

Next year, I’ll know enough to go have a look at the area before it freezes, but it looks like the needle ice is taking a fairly solid, smooth surface and churning it up, entraining pebbles, creating pockets and voids.

Pebbles frozen within needle ice.

Pebbles frozen within needle ice.

The growth of the needles seem to be affected by this nearby tree root.

Needle ice and tree root.

Needle ice and tree root.

So you see there the patterned ground where you can see only the debris-capped tops of the needles, and the needles themselves showing by the root.

And if you look very closely, you can see what seem to be frost crystals growing on the ice.

Frost crystals on needle ice.

Frost crystals on needle ice.

So these formed, and were exposed to air, which was filled with freezing fog, and we end up with ice upon ice – “Eternal Ice” indeed. Until the sun comes, or the rain falls, anyway.

I discovered some more needle ice over by a fire hydrant. This was an area where there wasn’t so much entrained debris, and the ice had formed tiers – in some places, up to three tiers of needles.

Needle ice tiers.

Needle ice tiers.

And here you can see much more clearly the patterns formed by the tops of the needles.

Rather pure needle ice.

Rather pure needle ice.

You can see pits where it’s lifted pebbles, and cavities around stones where it’s cleared away soil and debris.

Needle ice and large pebbles.

Needle ice and large pebbles.

I love this stuff. I love its names – German Kammeis (comb ice), Swedish pipkrake (fine tube), Japanese shimobashira (columns of frost). Germans noticed the stuff shuffling soil downslope, and gave a name to the phenomenon: kammeissolifluktion. Very neat!

And very beautiful, especially when it forms tiers of shining crystals.

Crystal tiers

Crystal tiers

So these are the kinds of scenes you can see deep in the bleak midwinter. Suddenly, there’s nothing bleak about it. (And nothing bleak about this video, especially for those of you in the audience who love birds.)

And when the warmth comes and the ice melts, there are patterns in the ground left behind, patterns that can tell us what frozen water got up to on a freezing winter’s day, and form patterns of change, showing us the power of water to change the world around us. Water and earth are intimately entwined.

Thawed ground where needle ice had grown a few days before.

Thawed ground where needle ice had grown a few days before.

Something Beautiful, Something Blue: Seattle from Alkai

I love my adopted city. I’ve never been much of a big-city person, and I’d frankly rather be out in the mostly wild spaces most of the time, but I’ve always adored Seattle. I find her beautiful from most every angle. I love wandering round downtown, rambling among the hills and the shops and the art and architecture. I love her culture, and her old buildings, and her waterfronts. The only thing I don’t like is driving there, but even that isn’t horrible. Merely awful. Best to take the bus and a comfortable pair of shoes, and make a day of it.

"Something Beautiful, Something Blue." Seattle from Alki, view across the Sound with a spray of water over the Space Needle.

“Something Beautiful, Something Blue.” Seattle from Alki, view across the Sound with a spray of water over the Space Needle.

I love her skyline. I took this image from Alki Point one summer. There’s a strip of beach with excellent views toward the city center, and a set of concrete stairs, and waves that splash dramatically against said stairs, and give a photographer a chance at a little artistry. I like how, after a bit of mucking about with contrast and saturation, it ended up looking a bit like a watercolor.

My fair city isn’t without her faults, though. In fact, we’re pretty much standing on one here, and one day I shall tell you about it, once we’re done with all this volcano nonsense.

Friday Freethought: “Laws spring from the instinct of self-preservation”

Lawyer cat considers ten catmandments instead

One thing one learns from reading the works of 19th century freethinkers is that the arguments of the religious haven’t changed. That being so, when theocrats like Alabama high court buffoon Roy Moore spout bullshit like “most of what we do in court comes from some Scripture or is backed by Scripture,” we don’t have to come up with a fresh argument of our own. All we have to do is heave a small sigh, take down Volume II of the complete works of the Great Agnostic, and turn the page to the following. Take it away, Robert Ingersoll:

It has been contended for many years that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all ideas of justice and of law. Eminent jurists have bowed to popular prejudice, and deformed their works by statements to the effect that the Mosaic laws are the fountains from which sprang all ideas of right and wrong. Nothing can be more stupidly false than such assertions. Thousands of years before Moses was born, the Egyptians had a code of laws. They had laws against blasphemy, murder, adultery, larceny, perjury, laws for the collection of debts, the enforcement of contracts, the ascertainment of damages, the redemption of property pawned, and upon nearly every subject of human interest. The Egyptian code was far better than the Mosaic.

Laws spring from the instinct of self-preservation. Industry objected to supporting idleness, and laws were made against theft. Laws were made against murder, because a very large majority of the people have always objected to being murdered. All fundamental laws were born simply of the instinct of self-defence. Long before the Jewish savages assembled at the foot of Sinai, laws had been made and enforced, not only in Egypt and India, but by every tribe that ever existed.

It is impossible for human beings to exist together, without certain rules of conduct, certain ideas of the proper and improper, of the right and wrong, growing out of the relation. Certain rules must be made, and must be enforced. This implies law, trial and punishment. Whoever produces anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation from heaven to teach him that he has a right to the thing produced. Not one of the learned gentlemen who pretend that the Mosaic laws are filled with justice and intelligence, would live, for a moment, in any country where such laws were in force.

We are so very done here. Be a dear and play Justice Moore off, won’t you, Keyboard Cat?

 

New at Rosetta Stones: Buried in a Blast Cloud

We’re concluding our eyewitness accounts of the Mount St. Helens lateral blast with tales from those who were on the ground – literally. These are among the most harrowing of the survivors’ stories. These were folks who were caught outside, no shelter, in the direct line of the blast. Not everyone with them survived. And keep in mind that all of these folks were in “safe” areas, many of them protected by ridges, outside the red zones. It took wits, luck, quick thinking, and the bravery of rescuers willing to face down an ongoing eruption to get them out.

A couple of extra pictures that didn’t make it into the original post help illustrate the devastation these folks survived.

North side of Spud Mountain at equipment site, northwest of Mount St. Helens. Cowlitz County, Washington. June 5, 1980. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

North side of Spud Mountain at equipment site, northwest of Mount St. Helens. Cowlitz County, Washington. June 5, 1980. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Margin of blast zone, south side of North Fork Toutle River. Cowlitz County, Washington. May 20, 1980.  Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Margin of blast zone, south side of North Fork Toutle River. Cowlitz County, Washington. May 20, 1980. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Here endeth the eyewitness accounts. Next, we’re going to see what science tells us about the blast, and you’ll get a very intimate look at what such amazingly powerful eruptions leave behind.

Where Was This Contraction Contraption When I Needed It?

(Warning: the following is not for those prone to calling the waaahmbulance. You have been Warned.)

So my uterus is doing that thing where it reminds me it’s still young and healthy by simulating a day or two of labor, and interfering with any useful work I might be liable to get done otherwise. I’ve had male persons whine at me that “men have that time of the month, too!” and it’s a wonder no one’s lost teeth after saying that within punching distance. I’ve always been at a loss to explain what the pain is like. A particularly sensitive and caring male friend of mine who is not afraid to come up with the kind of analogies that cause most of his compatriots to curl up in a protective whimpering ball at the mere thought of them gave me some ideas that would get me arrested for grievous bodily harm, and still wouldn’t quite capture the sensation. Put it like this: the day the doctor told me kidney stones hurt worse than labor was the day I decided labor was a cakewalk, because my cramps at that time beat kidney stones in the pain olympics.

But not all people have experienced kidney stones, and so it’s hard to come up with comparisons people who have never been attacked by an internal organ can understand. Until now.

Well, Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno, hosts of the Dutch TV show Guinea Pigs, put their testes where their uteruses ain’t. With electrodes strapped to their stomachs, they experienced simulated contractions with slowly increasing intensity over two hours until they’re screaming in agony. It’s truly some fucked-up Fear Factor craziness.

Thank you, science. Thank you so, so much. *wipes away tear*

If you can stomach (ha) it, go watch the video at that link. Note that one dude didn’t even make it through the whole two and a half hours. Imagine suffering that kind of pain and not being able to make it stop for days. Keep in mind that these men were not bleeding from their nether orifice, nor did they have to squeeze out a watermelon-sized object through narrow parts of their anatomy. Well, neither have I, but doctors don’t like to prescribe narcotics for “mere cramps,” or at least they didn’t when I was young and needed them to. No, I was told to suck it up, have a heating pad and some ibuprofen, it’s not that bad. Then the (male) administration at my high school were all like, why are you missing so much school merely because you feel like someone’s repeatedly breaking your pelvic bone with a vise? Later, it was oblivious people writing attendance policies at work who hadn’t thought things through.

If only I’d had one of these contraction contraptions. I could have explained it so much more clearly, once I’d gotten them to sign the consent form…

New at Rosetta Stones: Interview Madness!

Chris Rowan has posted his interview of me, and I have posted about his posted interview, and now I am posting about posting about etc. It’s a good thing I haven’t got a third geoblog or this could have got rather fractal.

I’ll be returning from hiatus soon, hopefully. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and hugs and encouragement – there are many things in this ol’ life I couldn’t do without you, and this is one that I would have managed, but not nearly so well. I miss you! I can’t wait to return bearing lovely photos for you. There are also difficult subjects to be tackled. This shall be done. And then we shall have more beautiful things, because they do help us handle the difficult ones, as well as being wonderful in their own right.

Love and hugs, my darlings. See you soon!