I’m Judging How Much You Judge Me

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My son recently joined a gym where they place a certain amount of emphasis on not judging other people. In theory, I think it’s a nice idea not to be judgy (especially in a gym, where people could be intimidated to work out if they feel like people are watching them and sizing them up).

But as with most things, what starts out as a nice idea can take on the force of religious fundamentalism if one isn’t careful. ‘Hey, don’t comment on someone else’s weight’ too easily slides into things like,

“We’re sorry but we overheard you telling someone that you liked their t-shirt. Unfortunately we have a no judgement policy here, and that was a judging statement…”

In real life we have the power of discernment. When used correctly and judiciously (such a judgy word!) it helps us to navigate the world more successfully. It is quite appropriate to make decisions about things, from what cutlery to use with which course in a restaurant to whether or not to give money to a homeless person based on your judgement. Without judging there would be significantly more traffic accidents (and fatalities!), less if any people hired for new jobs (or at least many less successful candidates), and probably a whole lot of frustrating relationships with the wrong people.

Judging serves so many useful purposes and we do it so many times each day I’m surprised it was ever allowed to get such a bad wrap. It’s as if someone said to everyone in America (or the Western World) “Blinking? That’s just horrid and offensive! People shouldn’t do that! Especially in public and especially around other people!” And everyone en masse jumped on board and said “Yes!! We heartily agree! Blinking Baaaaaad!”

I understand that it is bad form to be a judgemental idiot. But I think that in polite society that sort of goes without saying. Along the lines of yes you can drive but not on the sidewalk and not where there are pedestrians. Yes you may curse in your home if that’s what you do but not in public and not around other people’s children. Yes you may eat stinky food but please brush you teeth and don’t breathe directly into someone else’s face. That sort of thing. Can’t we all just get along?

And for goodness sake, stop judging me!



Why I Won’t Get A Flu Shot


Believe it or not I have no desire to be controversial. In my last post I wrote a disclaimer (I actually said these very words, which I have cut and pasted; you can go back and check: Let me be clear. I am in NO WAY minimizing the horror of genuine attacks against women. I am ABSOLUTELY in no way whatsoever saying it is EVER okay to force any woman to do anything against her will.), which was apparently so invisible that people still accused me of being pro-rape. But okay, onward and upward.

This past week I got a ridiculously high fever. Like 125 degrees high type of fever where you would be afraid you might spontaneously combust, if you could actually think straight, except that you are so feverish you think your dog is your child and your child is an astronaut who has come to bring you a magical space potion to cure the disease that is turning your bones into powder. Luckily I had moments of distraction from the fever where I was able to focus on the shattering pain in my head and the absolute agony going on in my throat.

My fever finally broke some time on Saturday, and with it went most of the headache. But the sore throat hung on like a high school girl with a boy band crush. Luckily we are blessed in my community with an old tyme doctor who makes house calls. So on Sunday he came over to run a strep test. He looked at my throat and said I had a raging infection, but the test came back not strep.

Okay, fast forward to today. What does that have to do with now? Nothing. But it’s interesting? Right? It’s a fun story. Kind of sucks you in as a reader, huh?

Many people ask, “Do you get the flu shot?” And what’s funny to me is that an abnormal number of people I have actually known who have gotten the flu shot (this is real, not anecdotal, and I don’t have statistics…) have actually gotten the flu after getting the shot. Sure medical professionals will say they would have gotten it anyway, or they will get a milder case after the vaccine than they would have had otherwise, but I believe that to be statistically unlikely and probably bogus. At the very least it’s speculative and CYA…


Okay? Is that clear? I’m happy to share what I do and why. I think what I do is sound and rational. I am not ashamed of any of the decisions I make, but I certainly don’t want anyone confusing what I do in my case with what someone else should do in theirs.

The bigger problem I have with the flu vaccine though is the vaccine itself. If the vaccine was just water being injected into your vein and by placebo effect some people would presto! not get the flu I would say great maybe more people should get the shot (or perhaps I would still not get it for my family and still think it was dumb and mind my own business mostly…), but if you look at the shot itself it is troubling in a number of ways. I’m not suggesting you go to anti-vax conspiracy websites. If you look at places like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) or even the inserts of the vaccines themselves, you will find some pretty horrifying things. The list of ingredients is quite eye-opening. From aluminum (thought to cause Alzheimer’s), to formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies), to mercury (people have been urged to remove dental filling containing mercury because it is so toxic)- the list goes on, but these are substances that are problematic in general and in vaccines they are being injected directly into a person’s BLOODSTREAM. Years ago there was controversy over an ingredient called thimerosol, alleging ties to autism. Although it was “disproven” thimerosol was removed. But those lawsuits get the largest chunk of settlement money from the pot of money from vaccine settlement cases. And in a bunch of cases thimeresol was quietly snuck back in.

Also with flu vaccine the batches are mixed up the previous season based on which strains they think will hit the following year. So let’s say last year they thought this year they thought this year we would get hit with strain A and R and J. They put those three into a batch- even though in nature, by the way you will never find a mutation of ARJ- and then have a whole load of ARJ. But what if the flu this year was actually AMT? So when you get vaccinated at BEST you may only have a 1/3 chance of it working even if the vaccine works perfectly and it doesn’t make you sick… Or a 0/3 chance- but you think they tell you that? They just need to get through that batch! So they offer gift cards and meal vouchers and oh you good Samaritan we will even give a free vaccine to a poor kid somewhere for every vaccine we put into you!! You big hero!! (By the way, have you seen these new ads for the HPV vaccine? With the sad eyed kids asking their parents- the viewer- “Mom? Dad? Why did you let me get cancer? How come you didn’t vaccinate me?” Oh gee, maybe because it’s a relatively new unproven vaccine and I would rather have 10 million safe sex talks with my kid before I would roll up their sleeve for your vaccine? Anyway…)

The point is that vaccines are always a cost benefit analysis. My grandma’s father died in the flu epidemic of the early 1900s. She grew up petrified of dying of the flu. You could pretty much ask her to inject bleach into her veins to prevent the flu and she would do it. So in her nursing home when the doctor makes his rounds and asks if she had her flu shot she nods in that trusting way that only very old people do and smiles trustingly into his very young eyes and says, “Oh yes, Doctor!”

And when anyone asks me if I’ve had my flu shot I shake my head derisively in that way only someone of my generation would dare to assume is weighted with meaning and say, “You’re kidding, right?”

Because I would pretty much never vaccinate.

Is This Offensive To Women?


There is a giant statue of this famous photo at a large intersection in a city near where I live:


The other day on the radio I heard a debate about whether or not this statue should be removed due to its OFFENSIVE nature.

Say what?

Yes. This famous photo, published in Life magazine in 1945 (after WWII) shows the exuberance of a soldier returning home from the war. It captured the spirit of happiness and joy in the air at the end of years of war and stress, and the gladness of our soldiers returning home.

Can you guess why this might be offensive? I searched my half-asleep mind for an answer. It’s a game I sometimes play when listening to talk radio. I attempt to riddle out what the guests might say before they say it. But this one had me genuinely puzzled. Was it just an anti- military sentiment? No. Was the man armed and it was anti-gun? No. Was the woman immodestly dressed (although that shouldn’t raise any eyebrows, especially in the summer, but I was really stretching…). No.

Apparently there was a level of concern that this statue would encourage sexual attacks against woman.

That’s right. If there is a prominent statue of a man GRABBING a strange woman and kissing her, it might encourage random man to just GRAB random women and not only kiss them, but perhaps ravage them in other ways.

Let me be clear. I am in NO WAY minimizing the horror of genuine attacks against women. I am ABSOLUTELY in no way whatsoever saying it is EVER okay to force any woman to do anything against her will.

But to suggest that this rather innocuous statue would incite a man to a sexual assault seems a bit thin to me.

It reminds me of other examples in society where there is “zero tolerance” of things that become absurdities.

The child who gets kicked off the school bus for making a shooting gesture with his hand because the school has a no weapons policy and there is zero tolerance. As if a hand can ever be loaded or confused with a real gun…

The kindergardener who gets expelled under the sexual harassment policy for kissing a girl on the cheek rather than spoken to and educated because there is zero tolerance for “sex crimes”- oh, and the police were also called on that one because that is school policy and a report had to be filed…

The list goes on, and unfortunately there are many real ills in society. But to treat everyone like a potential criminal element just waiting to be unleashed on the population is a bit of overkill I think. It’s sad that we have to be so vigilant about such things. But in this case I think people have gone overboard.

I’m really curious to know what you all think. Is this statue objectively offensive, or is the PC patrol working overtime?

Fields Of Sunflowers- If You Plant Them They Will… What?


The City of Oak Park (oh the infamous City of Oak Park…) over the last several months has planted dozens and dozens of fields of sunflowers. I desperately wanted to take at least one photo of these sunflower plantings to put on the blog, but I kept not posting waiting for the photo, and finally just decided to go ahead and write the post without it. I wish I had an idea of how much tax money went to this MASSIVE undertaking, which involved a huge commitment of heavy machinery to tear up perfectly good plots of land all over the entire city, the hiring of many many workers to plant the actual flowers, squazillions of gallons of water repeatedly used in the blazing heat of a Michigan summer to water these massive sunflowers (way higher than corn plants, which during my garden scandal were pointed out as singularly offensive plants), and hours and hours of labor to continue tending to these plants, which although thriving, seem to have no use at all except to obscure traffic visibility in certain locations and to entertain some birds and squirrels.

So the city which once tried to ban actual food, which then talked about community gardens, at some point made an actual affirmative decision (meaning there must have been discussion around it and a conscious decision to move forward) to sink vast amounts of money and resources into a project that, rather than feeding hungry citizens (and believe me, Oak Park has more than its fair share or people below the poverty line and on one or more food assistance programs)has decided to feed crows. Oak Park has devoted land, not to Church groups or urban farmers or to food pantries, who would have been able and delighted to grow food on that land, but to sunflower patches.

Oak Park could have been a shining example to the country or a city that had an innovative program about how to take unused pieces of public land and put it to amazing use to help all of its people. It could have done something for almost no cost to the citizens but tremendous payoff for the common good. With the spirit right now of how everyone is willing to get on board with these types of projects and kids in schools are doing exactly this sort of community garden stuff and senior citizens are growing food for leisure and people are on fire with passion for growing food- and to see these sunflowers, which are pretty and fun as an add-on maybe to other things… But in lieu of what could have been flourishing there?

It truly breaks my heart.

It’s a waste of opportunity and a waste of potential.

So sad.

Again, Oak Park?

Burkini Bans- Or How Many Fools Can You Fit On The Head Of A Pin?

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There is an issue that has wound its way up through the French Courts about whether Muslim women in France could wear something on public beaches known as a “burkini”.  This garment, which looks remarkably like a tunic shirt and leggings, would not be offensive by anyone’s standards, and if the political climate right now was not overly prickly toward Muslim terrorists (and with very good reason), I daresay there would be no issue at all.

Some people would argue that, NO! This is a defense of women’s rights! No woman should be forced (!) to cover any part of her body at all! Women should be free (!) to let it all hang out- both literally and figuratively. And any covering of any part of any woman’s body is a sign of oppression of women.

This makes several critical assumptions, of course. One is that the women who are covering are in some way being coerced, either subtly or outright, into wearing these burkinis (whose comparison to a burka is laughable). One is that a state of semi, or nearly total nudity implies freedom, and is not evidence of its own coercion- either by a significant other, or by societal pressure. That caving into the prevailing fashion of baring one’s flesh in public implies that you are free to follow that trend and not that you feel pressured to capitulate to that trend. And the final assumption is that even if one woman would be truly oppressed by having to cover herself against her will, then that would somehow have implications for every other woman and her status as a free and equal functioning member of society. Which of course if no more true than saying that if one person has to give up caffeine because of migraines then it will put Starbucks sales in jeopardy for the rest of the nation. Preposterous.

It’s an interesting commentary on society that it is almost inconceivable that a woman might actually WANT to cover up a bit. That a woman may prefer NOT to be a spectacle when she is enjoying a beach outing. That perhaps, just maybe, she might want to go to the beach, alone or with her family, and enjoy the breeze and the waves and the water and the calm and not have to be ogled by every man within 500 yards of her as she walks around. Am I saying that all men are gross and predatory? No, of course not. But a beach trip shouldn’t have to feel like a meat market, and if a woman feels more comfortable in whatever she wants to wear, why should someone PROHIBIT her from wearing what makes her feel relaxed? As long as it doesn’t pose a threat to safety, who cares? If it was a white woman in a sarong, would anyone have said something? If it was a teenager in a sweatshirt and shorts, would anyone have minded? Does a maxi dress with a cardigan raise alarm bells? Or an actual tunic top with leggings?

The point is that once again, in the guise of protecting people from themselves, do-gooders have actually attempted to strip people of their rights. Under the heading of protecting women, the French government instead would infantalize woman and say that they are incapable of acting in their own best interests. That it is a more enlightened and wise decision to get naked (or practically so) along with the other French citizens, and to not do so implies a level of backwardness and threat to the moral and civic order which simply cannot and will not be tolerated.

For now, the burkini has been protected. This is a victory for Muslims, yes. But more important than that, it is a victory for people who value their individuality on French beaches. Truth be told, I never let my kids take off their shirts at beaches- for modesty, for sunburn, and honestly, whose business is it why?  It’s my family and if we want to wear ski gear on the beach that’s our darn business. As long as my kids won’t drown in the water we should be able to wear portable igloos or tutus or rainbow body glitter. And the government should mind its own beezwax.

That’s just my 2 cents.





Freedom To and Freedom From


I was all set to very belatedly address the Michigan Right to Farm Act. Months and months ago someone rather gleefully forwarded me an article about the Right to Farm Act being repealed. A few other people forwarded me similar articles with horror or trepidation. Basically Michigan has a law on the books that protects people who want to raise small amounts of food and such as long as they follow generally accepted safe agricultural practices. So people have been able to grow things (although heaven forbid, not in their front yards! hahahahahaha) as long as they do things like not fly crop duster planes over their neighbors and spray napalm. That type of thing.

But I wanted to just double check before I posted and I found this on a well known fact checking website:


So it seems that the Right to Farm Act is intact.

But it actually doesn’t change what my initial reaction was to the news, nor what I wanted to say in this post.I had an excellent Political Science professor once who explained the difference between Civil Rights and Civil Liberties as Freedom To and Freedom From.

Civil Rights are the freedoms to do something. They are things you are entitled to.

Civil Liberties are what you must be allowed to be free from. You have the freedom from interference in your actions or choices in a given area.

It is a crucial difference, and I still think the best explanation I have ever heard.

Even if the Right to Farm Act would have been repealed, it would not have outlawed private farming. Cities and municipalities still could have allowed private farming within their own boundaries. Just because you don’t necessarily have a “right” to do something, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the liberty to do it. There is not an automatic corollary. I don’t need a specific right to eat cold pizza for breakfast in order to be free to make the choice to eat that every single morning if I want to. And I don’t need a state right to farm for my city to agree to leave me alone if I want to grow carrots in my yard and maybe even have a road side stand to sell them in season. Plenty of locales, especially more rural ones, have been getting along just fine like this (thank you very much) with or without the state’s blessing.

This is a country built on life in the country, and although as city folk we tend to forget that, plenty of good wholesome people still flourish in that life. So many of us picture America as the hustle and bustle of New York City or the glitz of LA, but the backbone of America is more truly the people who can go out to their garden and pull up some food and trade with their neighbor to make a meal. These people don’t need a bureaucrat to tell them they have a right to do what they’ve always done. They just need the liberty to live their lives.

And that’s what’s great about America.

On being an invalid, but not invalid


First off, hello from Michigan, and I’m sorry it’s been a while. It’s good to see you are all still hanging in here with me- thanks, and I appreciate it 🙂

I’m never quite sure why people subscribe to this blog (I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way; I mean that I discuss various topics and I don’t know which grabs people. Is it always the garden story, or are there other reasons? My secret hope is yes…) I hope that whatever your reason for being here, you will indulge me a chronic illness post- even after such a long  hiatus in posting. One of the things that continues to amaze me in Michigan is the contrast between my life here and my life in Seattle. Nothing inherently bad about Seattle, but there I constantly was reminded of my limitations. There were so many ways that my functioning was compromised there that I often felt… For lack of a better way of saying it, like the walking wounded. My life in Seattle got very very small.

Although it had been in Michigan that I was in a wheelchair, in Michigan that I used a walker, in Michigan that I was a frequent flier in the local ER- in Seattle I felt like an invalid. And while I was contemplating things to write for this post I realized that the word in-vuh- lidd is the same as the word in- vah-lidd. And that’s how I felt. Invalid. Invalidated. Cancelled out.

My life started to be defined more by what I couldn’t do than by what barriers I was willing to smash. I stopped leaving the house (not that I’m a very out and about person, but this was a dysfunctional kind of not going out). I stopped eating (yes, it was awesome to lose weight, until my kids cried and told me they thought I needed to be in a hospital). I stopped doing much of anything not because I was depressed, but because I felt like what I was up aginst in the big sense was just so insurmountable. I could enumerate the obstacles, but I’d rather not.

Fast forward to Michigan.

Last week we went berry picking at a u-pick orchard. I took one of my kids shooting. I can go shopping any time I want, because I know where everything is, I know how to get places, and I am comfortable and confident navigating the roads.

I still have plenty of bad days and I’m on a u-haul worth of medication. In order to do a little I rest a lot. I have a ton of doctors and I have to say no to my kids more than I am able to say yes when they ask me to do stuff.

But I’m happy here. I feel capable. I feel functional (even if that sometimes isn’t objective reality hahahahaha). I feel like I have something to contribute .

And even as an invalid, that is pricelessly validating.


Raw Emotions


One of the nice things about living in Seattle was the ease of obtaining raw milk. In Michigan it is illegal to buy raw milk. People get around this by doing something called a cow share, or a herd share, by which they purchase part ownership of a cow or cows. Since it is not illegal to drink raw milk from a cow you own, you can then drink your own cow’s milk without a problem.

For people who are convinced that raw milk is a healthier alternative to pasteurized milk, this is a great way to deal with certain states’ laws that don’t allow for responsible consumer choice in this area.

I don’t want to digress too far from the topic I intended to discuss, but I will say briefly that many (if not most) of the people I’ve met who have objections to raw milk are coming from a place of ignorance (ignorance meaning they don’t know about something). There are so many misconceptions out there about safety or lack thereof, and cleanliness or lack thereof, so I would just urge you that if you find yourself having a knee-jerk reaction to something like raw milk please at least look into it. Give it a fair chance before you make a decision one way or another; the facts may surprise you. You can make a change or not, but don’t let rumors or propaganda dictate your thinking, especially on an issue that could impact the health of you or your family.

And that is actually a pretty good segue into the issue that is bothering me right now. One of my older kids made a comment recently about how they really didn’t enjoy the consistency of raw milk (It comes with the cream on top, and you shake the bottle to distribute the cream throughout the milk when you use it. Even if you take off the cream, though, it has more of a creamy texture than store-bought milk. I actually think this is way better, but I guess it’s an individual thing…). Last night I was looking into where you can get cow shares in Michigan and another of my older kids asked if we could get store-bought milk for him because he really “hates” raw milk. When the kids were younger it was pretty much I shopped, I cooked, I served, and they ate. What was in the house was in the house, and with the exception of very egregious things (super icky foods, very gross flops when I would make something new, etc.) the kids were expected to have what was in the house. Certainly in the area of health decisions, we made the decisions and the children benefited from our research.

But now the kids are bigger. And with bigger kids come bigger ideas and bigger opinions. Those opinions need to be respected and taken into consideration. It isn’t always wise or simple to just dismiss their desires or preferences “because we said so”. Yes we are the parents and we pay the bills, and sometimes that has to be enough. In some cases our rules are our rules and that is the answer. Period. But where we can be flexible we try to be flexible. And here several of our kids have told me that something I think is to their benefit is not to their taste.

So something which I feel strongly is good for them and is in their best interests to do just doesn’t light their fires. I think that raw milk is far superior. I think that raw milk gives them benefits they can’t get otherwise. I think that for various reasons a few of my kids could really really use this milk in their diets. And if they don’t enjoy it as a drink maybe they should suck it up and think of it as medicine.

But… I don’t think regular milk is dangerous. And life is full of things that are unpleasant for them already (homework, waking up before they would want to, not having all of the material possessions they want all the time…)- so do I really want to pile on one more without a super compelling reason? And do I want to be that mom who is such a downer that she doesn’t listen to her kids because her own personal crusades are more important than her children’s voices?

Believe it or not this is not such a simple question.

As parents we are often in a position where we have to be parents before we are friends. It isn’t easy to weigh up what is my own shtick and what is a legitimate use of my parental powers. You have to hold yourself to a pretty high standard of honesty to stay clear on what you are doing to validate your own agenda and what you are doing because it is genuinely for your kids- and often there is overlap, which certainly muddies the waters! In general we make tons of mistakes, and in general we can only hope that the relationship with our kids will be strong enough and trusting enough that both sides know that those mistakes are unintentional. At the end of the day, we only want the best for our kids. The only question is what that road ends up looking like.

So, will I end up buying raw milk in Michigan? If I do, will I end up offering an alternative, or will I just ask my kids to absorb this as a minor casualty of life in the Bass household? I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I am certainly leaning in one direction. If you have a similar issue you have dealt with in your own life, or in your own parenting, I wold love to hear how you dealt with it!

Fundraising For Charity?


A short time ago there was a family who lost a child to tragic circumstances. I won’t give identifying information, since I don’t want to say anything to throw this particular family under the bus- and also because the question I have is more theoretical in nature and not specific to these people.

After their child’s death this family set up one of those popular fundraising pages, presumably to help defray costs such as loss of work for the parents, and funeral expenses. Tens of thousands of dollars poured in, as is often the case when other people feel sympathy (or empathy) and want to show support for someone in a tragic time. And then the family announced that they would be donating the money that was raised to a local charity.

That sort of threw me sideways, not only because the family had not said upfront that they were collecting for charity, but because, frankly, if I am going to support a charity I would like to choose which one. It wasn’t even like the child died of cancer (let’s say) and the family made a donation to the American Cancer Society in the child’s memory. This was a situation where I imagine the parents knew their financial situation up front (you kind of know if you can afford a funeral or not) and then chose to set up this fundraising page. Then they took the money- let’s say the child had been hit by a bus (this isn’t what happened)- and donated it to, let’s say a local art museum.

Whether art (this is not where they donated to) is great or worthwhile is immaterial. The question is, should I have a right to decide where my limited charity dollars go- or when I give money am I giving my tacit agreement that I am entrusting the person or organization to use those dollars as they see fit?

If I donate to the local Humane Society and they use my money to print fliers rather than to directly keep animals alive has my money done any less good? What if they use my donation to throw a fundraiser or to buy a new building or pay salaries? Should I expect to always have absolute control over donations, and if not at what point should my control begin and end? If I give money to a poor person and they go out to a restaurant to eat instead of paying their electric bill, have they been an irresponsible steward of my kindness, or do they have a right to manage their money however they want- just like any other adult- and once the money leaves my hand and lands in theirs it becomes their money to do with what they see fit?

I think what got me about the fundraiser case is that I felt like they got the money under false pretenses, but they never actually spelled out how the money would be spent- just said what happened to their child and people assumed they needed money for expenses related to that.

So my question is, what are your thoughts on how that played out? Does it hit you the same way it hit me, or am I way off here?

Your Care For Others Is A Measure of Your Greatness: Why I Love Ruby

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This makes a bit more sense if you are familiar with Ruby’s show (which I HIGHLY recommend- it is from a while back and is available for free from certain services)- but either way, I think Ruby is exceptional in so many ways… I could (and have!) watch/ed her over and over…


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