Sunday, May 20, 2012

Remembering my mom

I haven'tnbeen writing as often lately. The death of my friend Ro really bothered me. I have been less social. My mom died this week. She had been sick for five years. Lung disease is a terrible way to die.

Mom was creative, funny,mand witty. She was a bad driver and an awful cook -- but she was never boring. She loved to write and draw. She had an avid interest in Celtic mythology. She was probably a witch in a prior life (and maybe in this one too). She was a unique, special, and warm individual. She had the blackest of gallows humor. She never let bad things get her down even when she was sick.

My coven held a memorial service for her last night and it was quite lovely and dignified. My friend Doris drove up from South Carolina for emotional support and for the memorial. I am grateful.

I hope mom has peace and regeneration in the Summerlands.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Death of a friend

One of my friends died this week. She was felled by a particularly aggressive form of cancer that killed her in only five weeks. It always seems like evil people live long, full lives while decent folk get cut down at middle age or younger.

My friend's name was Ro. I want to take this time to write what I most liked about her. None of my (few) readers have ever met Ro, but I know you would have liked her. She had a sense of humor that was not politically correct. She had a raucous laugh. She helped raise three children who were not her own. She was true to her partner for close to thirty years. She adopted unwanted dogs.

She and her partner were also deeply caring people. Back in 1996-1997, I went through a pretty tough time. I almost ended up homeless. My family turned me away. My church (I was still Christian then) turned me away. My "brothers and sisters in Christ" turned me away. All but one friend turned me away. But Gail and Ro helped me get back on my feet. I would would have either died in a gutter somewhere or I would have committed suicide that year if not for that intervention. I never forgot their kindness and generosity.

Ro is a person I will miss quite a bit. I loved how she laughed. I cracked up at her jokes. She had a bad taste in movies like I do. She liked my spouse and liked my dog. I wish she hadn't gotten sick.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Various thoughts on my wretched family

Ever since mom got back from her most recent hospitalization, I've been calling her every day. I do it because I know that each call might be the last time we talk with each other in this life. She just isn't bouncing back from her illness this time. I visited her last weekend and she weighs about 70 pounds. It's heartbreaking. I knew that if I did not visit, however, I could curse myself as a coward for the rest of my days. That said, it's one thing to intellectually know that a loved one is dying, but it's another to see it happening before your very eyes. I hate to see mom in so much pain and in such a state of debilitation. It seems profoundly unfair that mom should be so sick while my father is living it up in retirement, traveling all over the world and be in want of nothing.

It should be the other way around. Of course, dad is a Christian and YHVH rewards evil sociopaths with many blessings. It's how YHVH rolls. It's part of why I'm no longer a Christian. I can't worship an evil god.

I don't celebrate Easter. That said, no one in my family invited me or my spouse over for Easter dinner. I don't depend on them for anything. They have let me down too often. There was a time back in the late 1996 when I almost became homeless. My family would have let me die in a gutter. That is the truth. In my time of greatest need, they closed their doors in my face. I haven't forgotten that. So, I can be courteous to them. I can attend family dinners on the rare occasions that the deem me and my spouse "acceptable". But I don't kid myself into thinking that I am loved by them in any meaningful sense of the word.

One of my relatives recently indicated that the reason why she now speaks to me and was "MIA" for fifteen years was that she now believes I am sufficiently "successful". Well... I guess. Sure, I like my job and I'm reasonably good at it, but the pay isn't anything to write home about. I'm not sure how she defines the word. But she is someone who I suppose I can be courteous to, but not someone who will occupy a place of trust in my life. After all, she wasn't willing to part with a can of soup or a loaf of bread when I was hungry and sick in 1996. She wouldn't even answer my phone calls. I guess I was too much of a "loser". Who knows?

So, with mom's death approaching, I keep thinking about my family and it's diseased interpersonal dynamics. It's depressing and frustrating.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Close to the end

Things have been pretty rough for my mom lately. As my (few) blog readers know, mom has COPD -- a terminal lung disease that is brought primarily by smoking. Mom got diagnosed with the disease a little over five years ago and was told at that time she would have a year to live. Of course, she has outlived that prediction by a considerable margin. I am very happy about this. However, about six months ago, her condition started deteriorating rapidly. She told me this weekend that she arranged for her hospice care nurse to prepare a cocktail of drugs that would end things if her pain got unbearable. I suspect that it has been unbearable for quite some time.

I can't call what mom is considering "suicide". I don't want to lose my mom. But I think she is rapidly reaching the point where she doesn't have any quality of life at all. She's starting to have trouble with her circulation now also. Her feet are starting to turn black. I hope that she can have an end before she starts losing body parts. This illness has been exceedingly cruel.

It really bothers me that mom is so sick while at the same time my father is living the high life in Portugal. Both individuals smoked and drank to ridiculous excess. And yet the vices ruined my mom's health and left my dad apparently unscathed.Of course, I've noticed that the Christian God always rewards greedy, evil sociopaths while at the same time brutally punishing the meek, mild, and the broken. It's one of the many reasons I'm not a Wiccan.

My worthless sister is still nowhere to be seen. I suppose it won't bother her that mom will die soon. She has no moral compass and her emotional depth is about as thick as tissue paper.

So I have not been getting much sleep. When I try to go to bed, my mind races and whirls. I have two competing thoughts in my mind: 1.) I don't want mom to die because she's the only REAL parent I have (dad is a sociopath and we haven't spoken since 1995). 2.) It is hard to see mom suffering and in pain, so if she needs to end her life I cannot oppose this.

This is a terrible situation.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Web Transitions

I've had the (dis) pleasure of moving two websites recently. One was out of necessity and one was out of economics. I had to move the site because Microsoft decided to discontinue the server that hosted the site. That was a real drag because not only did the server get discontinued, Microsoft outsourced the domain services to an Australian company called MelbourneIT (after all, we gotta make sure that no Americans ever get jobs anywhere!) Microsoft didn't do anything on their end to migrate the site. All I got was a list of the new DNS pointers and told "good luck".

Well... It took two days, but I got Turning Circle running again. The new web services support content editing from an Android tablet, and I can update the TC calendar from a tablet or cell phone. So I can totally dig that.

My next move was economic. Since my money situation is pretty dire, I called up Aplus Net (the company hosting my RPG hobby site) and learned that I could get web hosting for half the price I'm paying now. So that was a no-brainer. Unlike Microsoft, Aplus Net reset the DNS pointers to the new server for me. I'm in the process of uploading the website content from an archival backup now. The site will probably be down for two days, but I doubt anyone will notice. Nobody really plays the game anymore since its heyday was 1998-2006. Nobody plays paper-and-dice roleplaying games anymore.

Since the AT&T network is so shoddy, I ended up cancelling my ZUNE account for my Windows Phone. There's absolutely no point in paying for a music streaming service when the associated 3G/4G network is so crippled that it can play only 3-4 minutes of music before devolving into stutters and gibberish. The funny thing is that it was not that long ago that AT&T had a data network that actually worked. I used to be able to stream music all day at work. On the unlimited plan, rounding out 7-10 Gb was a monthly norm. My last month's data utilization was under 2 Gb. And that reduction wasn't because I wanted to use my phone less. It's because the phone *worked* less, thanks to AT&T's utterly broken network. I think they should have been upgrading their infrastructure instead of handing over huge sums of the subscribers' money to straight, white, rich, ignorant, hate-based Dominionist Christians like Rick Perry (who received $486,000 from AT&T. Awesome investment, eh?)

So, it looks like my weekend adjustments have me at +$25/month more money going forward. That's not a lot, but every bit helps!

So, I was thinking about Saint Patrick's Day. Lemme tell ya: as a witch, I DO NOT celebrate this holiday. why would anyone of a Pagan/Wiccan faith celebrate the fact that a religious zealot brought the Roman Catholic Church to Ireland? the result was the extermination of the Druids, the imposition of a new religion based solely on fear and hate, the denigration of women, and the molestation of children at the hands of hate-based clergy whose allegiance is to Rome (not God). There is nothing to celebrate about the Roman Catholic Church having expanded. It is the world's most powerful, most wealthy, most ancient, and most tenacious organized crime syndicate in human history. Celebrating the Saint Patrick is, in a very real way, making a holiday out of Pol Pot's birthday. After all, both men were leaders of organizations that would go on to commit genocide. The difference is that I never heard about Pol Pot molesting children.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Upcoming year and other stuff

I am really hoping that this is the last year for a while in which I will be as poor as I currently am. As you all know, this is year FIVE with no raise. My disposable income has, for all intents and purposes, been inflated out of existence. Gasoline is ramping up to $4/gallon again and could reach $6/gallon by summer. Groceries get more expensive every week. The property tax just keeps going up and up and up. My car insurance went up and I haven't had a claim in four years. The union sues increased. Tolls have increased. My pay, however, has not increased I really am worried about getting through 2012. As of 1/19/2013, I get promoted to Senior Agent, thanks to my prior service credit. Doug's car is also paid off in 2013. I just hope we can hang on to the house through 2012. We also keep getting persecuted by the Baltimore Housing Authority for trivial things that the straight, white Christians on the block don't have to deal with. On Monday, I get to find out what brand new demand the City wants. I really want to move out, but I don't know if we can sell the house in this wretched economy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Prior Credit

Ireceived a piece of welcome news this week. The Powers That Be in the human rrspurces department have determined that six years of service at Pretrial is equivalent to 4.8 years as a probation agent. What that means for me is that in 1.2 years my pay will increase from Grade 12 ($31.5k) to Grade 16 ($41.2k). I find it downright ironic that a job in which I could get shot on duty currently pays (at Grade 12) about $3/hour more than Target and $1/hoir more than being the night manager of a Taco Bell. Grade 16 is still below the median income mark by several hundred dollars but it's a big step in the right direction.

:: Sigh :: I really miss those terrible ol' Clinton days. You know... when unemploymemt was 4%, the debt was under control, inflation was under control, and everyone got raises each year. The religious right decided to throw away our good economy, our freedom, our solvency, and world peace because they are afraid of gays and thus voted for a brain-dead fake cowboy who also hates gays. So now the American Dream is to somehow get paid only slightly less than the median income amount. Even that is a joke. $41k in the Bush Great Depression spends like $25k did under Clinton, thanks to five years of hyperinflation.

Apparently, however, Christians aren't the least bit concerned about the economy. They are only concerned with banning contraception, gay marriage, Social Security, pulic schools, science, other religions, and abortion. Go figure.

Monday, February 13, 2012


This past weekend was pretty good. I led my ecology rite at Turning Circle on Friday. This is a ritual I originally wrote in response to the BP oil disaster. Of course, the ritual is still relavent because there have been other disasters since then. One of my friends had a candle magic service on Saturday. So it was a very Wiccan weekend :)

I managed to reduce my obligation to AT&T by one line. I moved an expired line to T-Mobile as a tablet device. Unlike the dreaded iPad, my little Springboard is 7", less than a pound, and under $200. It's also flash capable. It's pretty neat.

I wrote three warrant petitions today. The funny thing about probation is that you can get locked up for getting locked up. So there were three desperadoes that I hope I can get no-bail warrants served on before they can make bail on their brand new dope dealing charges. In my six year career in criminal justice I have only encountered one drug dealer who actually made a successful living at it. All the rest were low-skill, low-IQ lazy idiots.

The only down side to writing warrants is that I will eventually have to testify in court against these numbskulls. It's not the testifying that bugs me, but rather the really short sentences most judges give out. what can ya do?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Receding Darkness

It's usually around Imbolc that my seasonal depression starts to subside. This year was complicated a bit by the fact that I went through an incredibly stressful job transition. I actually applied for the job last spring but I didn't get hired until the winter. I would never willingly change jobs during the time of year when my energy levels are the lowest. But hey, plans don't always unfold the way we think they will.

I think my energy started coming back about a week ago. I was able to start writing chapter 68 in "I, Construct". It's now got 850 pages exactly. I was able to exercise three days in a row. I do want to get back into shape again. My elliptical machine is no longer gathering dust.

One of the other reasons why I want to get into shape is that my spiritual potency also decreases quite a bit in the winter. It's VERY hard to do any kind of magical workings when one's body is depleted and exhausted. Part of my magical practice involves sunlight and it's hard to come by in the dead of winter. But now the daylight is returning. It's still light for about 20 minutes when I get off work now. I will be glad when it is no longer pitch black when I get up in the morning.

I haven't had too many nightmares since developing a warding ritual a year ago. I used to be haunted by the vengeful imagery of my rather evil father. I seem to be able to block him out pretty well these days. I think I've had nightmares about him maybe twice in the past year. I used to be tormented by him in my dreams nearly every week.

I am glad to have found the Wiccan path. The understanding of the seasonal cycles and the appreciation of the role of life, death, decay, and regrowth in the ecology has helped blunt the worst of my seasonal depression. I know that deity does not hate me (like I used to think every winter when I was a Christian). I used to think God was punishing me each year. Now I know that it is just a yearly cycle in my own energy and that I am loved all year long by the God and Goddess. I am also glad that magic does actually work. It's not the same Hollywood "magic" of course. But in the Wiccan sense of the word, it does work. Blessed be.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ultra Caseload

Good gawd! So I finally did a final case count for my new caseload. I have 150 cases. I was told that I was going to start with 70 cases. The past two weeks have been 55-hour work weeks without any kind of overtime (the State is broke because the rich don't have to pay taxes anymore). I can honestly say that I have never been more fatigued.

At least we haven't had any major financial disasters in 2012 thus far (fingers crossed). The winter has been relatively warm so we're not getting a $1,200 heating bill. The two cars are functioning as required. The pets are healthy. Doug and I are healthy. There are no new problems with the house. We got the Baltimore Housing Authority off our backs by fixing the concrete runner on the side of the house and did a ghastly maneuver to rid the back yard of rats (filled a rat warren with concrete. Blech!)

So, my goals for 2012 is to become competent at my new job and get through this year without any awful disasters. Financially, we're reeling from the events of 2011. The roof blew off the house ($2,400 out of pocket). One dog died and another got gravely sick and needed surgery ($1,200 in vet bills), two dead computers ($1,300 total), two sets of flat tires ($550), two car repairs ($900), a tooth for Doug ($800), fines from the city due to the backyard rats ($240). As a result, our savings accounts are utterly depleted and two of our credit cards are maxed out. Now our credit card payments are twice as high as last year.

All that gloom aside, if we can get through 2012 disaster-free, things will be looking better in 2013. I will be out of new-hire status on 1/17/2013, which will confer a $240/month pay increase (after taxes). Likewise, Doug's car will be paid off in 2013 (which is $365/month). So, with an extra $605/month in income, we will be able to repay a big chunk of the debt incurred in 2011 relatively quickly. Doug is also planning on applying for a Librarian-III position since he has the right kind of degree and right experience. That would be about $200/month more if he can get it.

I finally got to be outside in sunlight yesterday. It was a good day for a three mile walk. The days are getting longer again (huzzah) and this winter has been warmer than last year. I'm also leading the Ecology Rite for Turning Circle in two weeks (another huzzah!)

I know that 2012 will be tough, but at least I have reason for optimism that 2013 will be a year that Doug and I won't have to live on a razor-thin margin.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Workiin' for the man!

I didn't get a chance to post last weekend. I graduated from the Police Academy and am now an official Parole/Probation Agent. Whoo-hoo! I got 134 cases on my very first day on the job. Egads. At Pretrial services I had 89. What can ya do?

On the bright side, once I am past the first year on the job, I get a 12% raise. It will be my first raise since George Bush crashed the economy.

Once I get that raise, I am totally looking forward to getting my gym membership back. I also want a new computer. We apparently live in an era where electronics are made exclusively in China and are engineered to self-destruct the week after the warranty expires. So my current laptop is actually about two years old. The screen is only half as bright as it once was. I have to hit the keys really hard to make them register and the touchpad barely works at all.

I also plan on cancelling AT&T in October when my contract ends. I have never encountered a company that tries so hard to punish its customers. I have an allegedly "unlimited" data plan. But now AT&T slowed the data rate down to a trickle in order to free up bandwith for the customers that pay $10/Gb (the company wants *those* customers to use as much data as possible so they can issue $500-$1,000 phone bills!) The company also reneges on the phone warranty. My Samsung Focus has had intermittent connectivity problems for the past four months. AT&T adamantly refuses to honor the warranty. The company insists that they don't have to honor the warrant because I am on an unlimited plan and I use a lot of data. What a crock. They also gave $486,000 to Rick Perry (a fine use of their customers' money!) I'm really glad that T-Mobile didn't get gobbled up by AT&T, since that is the company I will switch to in October.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My 2012 Predictions

What New Year's Day is complete without some crackpot predictions from a witch that's not even good at divination? Hee hee. But what the heck? I'm pretty sure that my predictions won't be any more or less accurate than anyone else's. So here goes. I can look up this page next year to see how well I did.

  1. The world won't end on 12/21/2012. I think some unscrupulous religious "leaders" will make a lot of money peddling fear, but the idea that the world will end on the winter solstice this year is simply preposterous. 
  2. Barack Obama will win re-election. I don't say this because I think he's an awesome president. He's not. In fact, Obama is quite unsatisfactory in my opinion. However, the nutcase crazy Christian Teabags are so much worse that they somehow manage to make Obama look not so bad by comparison. 
  3. The economy will go nowhere in 2012. The major news outlets will continue to hawk the utterly phony "recovery" just like they have done since 2009. But the truth is that we're in the Second Great Depression and that's not going to change. The jobs are gone and they're never coming back. 23% unemployment is the new "norm" for America. The American Dream is dead and buried. 
  4. The Christian Right will grow even more absurd. The re-election of Obama will somehow convince the Christian Right to go even more fringe, more hateful, and more extreme. You can count on that.
  5. The Apple Cult will start to decline. The iPhone is over-priced and over-hyped, but the quality is terrible. Without the cult figure of Steve Jobs holding things together, I predict that the world will start noticing.
  6. There will be a Christian-based act of terrorism on American soil. Some Dominionist or White Supremacist group will inflict some massacre on gays, atheists, witches, Muslims, or some other demographic that such groups see as easy prey.
  7. Inflation will go through the roof. By this time next year, a loaf of bread will cost $6.50. A gallon of gasoline will cost $5.00. A box of cereal will cost $8.00. Wages, however, won't be going up at all.
  8. The Middle East wars will continue. If we're really unlucky, we'll be at war in Iran too.
  9. The European Union will reach the breaking point. The way I see it, there are only two choices for Europe: the governments can stand up for the banks, or the government can stand up for the people. If they don't get control over the banks, the EU is finished.
  10. European Science will eclipse American Science. The Large Hadron Collider will will be instrumental in allowing physicists to finally prove (or disprove) the existence of the Higgs Boson and faster-than-light neutrinos.