The Not-so-Friendly Skies

The terrorists have won. This became clear the moment that security measures in airports went from "increased" to "insane." It was ok when they told me I could no longer carry more than 3.4 ounces of liquid (or GEL, god, not the GEL!) through security. It was ok, when they thought that perhaps they should "randomly" search my bag...every time I fly. It was even ok when they told me that I couldn't travel with nail clippers, tweezers or a scalpel. However, it is not fine that they've decided that the best way to secure our skies is by sexually assaulting people. Not. Okay. In the past few weeks, stories have started being published about dozens of violations by TSA agents.

*A flight attendant was forced to remove her prosthetic breast. Which actually flies in the face of their existing rules for medical devices.
*A bladder cancer survivor had the seal on his urostomy bag broken, covering him with urine. After he explained his medical condition, and the need for them to be careful of the wafer. 
*A three-year old was terrorized by a TSA agent doing an invasive search.

Who are the bad guys here? In the past, TSA agents were to pat fliers down using the backs of their hands. Now, agents are instructed to use their palms and fingers to "investigate," including probing genitals and breasts. People have gone to jail for less. Excuse me, but I've already had my pap smear and breast exam this year, and I can assure you, it wasn't done by the federal equivalent of a rent-a-cop.

The biggest story about the TSA drama has come from Penn Jillette. In 2002 he was groped in the airport by a TSA screener, who didn't bother to ask if he could grab his business. Jillette got the police involved, and filed a report of assault and battery, with a very willing police officer. The entire time, TSA officials repeated "we have no problem here." Clearly, they do. I'm flying in 10 days. I'm a little terrified of what's going to happen when I get to security.

This post doesn't even address complaints about the possible dangers (hello, undisclosed levels of radiation) of the new back scanners, and the general discomfort the public feels about the full body scanners. If I wanted strangers to see me [basically] naked, I would have become a stripper. I understand the need for safety, I really do, however I don't think that safety should come at the cost of freedom and dignity. Invasive screens should be reserved for people on watch lists, no-fly lists, and those behaving in suspicious ways. I'm not saying "only screen the Arabs! They're the ter'rusts," because that's certainly not true. However, a little discretion is called for. Flight attendants (with proper ID) should probably be free to fly unmolested. Children should not be accosted. Little old ladies/men should be given the benefit of the doubt without having to remove their various medical devices. Recently, a blogger leaked information about a new directive which advised airlines to restrict passengers from getting out of their seats, concealing their hands, or accessing carry-on luggage an hour before landing. Alright guys, if I'm flying to Dallas, that's the entire flight. If you're not gonna let me get to my carry on for my Kindle, we're gonna have a serious problem. Obviously, the TSA was pissed about this development, and they went to the blogger's house, armed (!! Who gave the TSA guns?!), took all his electronics and threatened to get him fired from his job. As a journalist. Something tells me the NY Times wasn't particularly eager to give into that request.

What the hell is going on? When did we give people with bare minimum, high school educations control over our lives? And how did we let them become so power hungry? The future's not looking so bright.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

Cynical Haiku & Medical Update

Who are these people
who post things like "lovin' life!"
I'm not so enthused.

We found out last week that my thyroid wasn't working properly. I've been tested for this probably half a dozen times before, always with "normal" results. This time, my result was in the "normal" range, but it was the lowest possible result in that range. You also have to understand that the "normal range" is based on someone who is "average" in their height and weight. Obviously, while only slightly taller than the average American woman, I'm quite a bit heavier. Therefore, the "normal" range doesn't really apply. And, the lowest number on that scale, isn't even optimal for the "average" sized woman that they based it on to begin with. The numbers should be toward the middle, slightly lower than dead center for optimal performance. You should also know that the medical "averages" that most tests are based on were established somewhere around the mid 60's. Those numbers aren't anywhere near the actual averages of the population (not of this country, anyway). In any case, my thyroid has been slacking off. Which explains why, for the past few months, I've wanted to sleep for about 20 hours a day. I've never really looked at my previous thyroid test results, and so I don't know how long I've been at the bottom of the range, but I suspect it's been at least a year. I literally have -every- symptom of hypothyroidism. It's not like it could logically have been anything else. Finally a doctor has noticed that I'm not actually 5'4" and 135 pounds, and so perhaps a Free T4 level of 0.06 isn't quite enough. I must look MUCH (much, much) lighter than I actually am! (insert dream sequence in which I am a supermodel here...)

Oh. Hi there. Ahem.

Ok, I'm not delusional; there's no way I look like I weigh 135 pounds. Not even in my dreams am I that thin. (And actually, I wouldn't want to be. Hipbones hurt if they poke out when you sleep on them. Not that I know from experience, but it seems like a pretty good guess.)  My doctor isn't blind, so I guess I'm gonna have to go with the old, he/she's just not paying attention theory. Damn.
The same actually-paying-attention doctor also informed me that people with the type of chronic depression and anxiety that I have typically have exceedingly low levels of folic acid. She recommended that I pick some up post haste. I did, and I have to tell you, after one day of huge doses of folic acid and sublingual/injected B12, I felt better. Not anywhere near 100%, but better. And every subsequent day, my mood and fatigue have been noticably improving. I've also got some raw bovine thyroid on order. Just typing those words makes me gag. I have no idea how I'm going to make myself swallow the pills.

In Which I Get Crafty

I have crazy sensitive skin. Even -thinking- about the wrong additives or walking past a florist shop can be enough to give me a rash. After a particularly bad bout of what looked like leprosy on my legs, we decided there had to be a better alternative. It also happens to be super cheap, and it smells -amazing- without being overpowering and rash-inducing. Want to try it? Here's how:

You'll need a bar of Zote laundry soap. (You can actually use any bar soap, and I suspect Dove or Ivory would be good, but I don't want to risk a change in my formula. Plus, the Zote is PINK! (And costs about 98 cents.)

You'll also need Borax. We use this stuff, but I'm sure there are other brands out there:
Finally, you'll need either baking soda or soda ash. You can make your own soda ash by baking baking soda, but it seems to work just as well with plain baking soda. For the record, OxyClean is mostly soda ash, so if you're using that as a laundry booster, save some cash and buy the soda ash for $2 instead.

Step 1: Grate the Zote.

You'll use the entire bar. And then your whole house will smell vaguely citrusy. Ad your hands will be very soft and clean.

Step 2. Mix the grated Zote with 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of baking soda/ash.
Step 3. Use your grater to mix it up, and chop the soap strings into bits.
Step 4. Shake the bucket you've been putting your stuff in to mix.
Step 5. Laundry!! Use about 1/4 cup of this detergent for a regular size load, or 1/2 a cup if it's a really dirty or really big load.
Step 6. Congratulate yourself on being so environmentally friendly since the only thing you've had to throw away is the wrapper from the Zote. You'll have enough borax and soda/ash for at least 2 more mixtures, if you bought the regular size boxes and not the tiny ones.
Step 7. Remind yourself not to be smug about your thrifty and earth friendly ways.


So, for some time now, (years and years, actually) I've considered getting a tattoo of a small teapot, representative of Russell's teapot. And now I've decided to do it for sure, having found an appropriate design, except I'm afraid that people will think it's some symbol of the Tea Party. I really would prefer not to be associated with most of those crazies. (Yes, I know some of them really -are- just about small gov't and lower taxes...but most of them are about the crazy. If they weren't about the crazy, they'd just be Libertarians.) So here's the question. If you saw a teapot tattoo, similar to this:
(Except, obvs. not on a black background.) Would you think "Ahh!! Crazy Tea partier!" or just "Interesting tattoo, wonder what that's about?" (Or, if you're -really- cool (read: geeky), I guess you could think, "Oh,wow! It's Russell's teapot!")

Slightly related: I found a notebook that says "I'll take your Pascal's wager and raise you one Russell's teapot." That might be the funniest office supply I've ever seen.