The Delightful Horror of Aquatic Turtle Care

September 29, 2014 - Leave a Response

Six years ago, two aquatic turtle hatchlings were given to myself and my mother as a birthday present. A couple of weeks prior to being given this gift, I had warned the person who was considering giving them to us, to let me do research on how to take care of aquatic turtles. This person agreed, then promptly went back on that agreement and bought them anyway.

Needless to say, while I thought my new red eared sliders were adorable, I was horrified and stressed out about how much care they needed. They require almost as much care as tropical fish, and if you know anything about tropical fish, you should be automatically turned off to aquatic turtles. No matter how much research, time and money I spent on my turtles I never felt like I was doing a good enough job. I still don’t have the ideal aquariums I’d like to have, though my turtles are healthy and comfortable.

Red eared sliders, and all other types of sliders, do not stay small. Females in particular grow larger than males, but males still max out at a shell length of 9 inches. Relative to other aquatic turtle species, sliders are among the biggest. Females can reach a shell length of 12 inches, and at that size they cannot have a tank smaller than 100 gallons. It should be understood that all animals get bigger as they grow up, but reptiles in general get very big and are not compact like a cat. Honestly, cats seem to be the only pets I’ve ever encountered that do not require an enormous amount of roaming space. Even dogs require more space than cats. Do yourself a favor and get a cat…

Anyway, red eared sliders grow between 4 to 6 inches in their first year. After that, they annually grow about one inch. Tank upgrades are inevitable, due to their growth rate, but putting a hatchling (smaller than 4 inches) in a 75+ gallon tank is out of the question, since that much open space is stressful for them (Stress kills reptiles). The general rule is 10 gallons per inch of turtle. In other words, a turtle that is six inches long, should have a 60 gallon tank. Over time, you should be able to calculate your turtle’s unique growth rate. For example, one of my turtles grows based on how much food she is given each day, and another one of my turtles sheds at the beginning of every season, but doesn’t always get bigger when she sheds. My third turtle, who is the oldest, grows during the midsummer. Turtles do not grow to fit the size of their tank. They outgrow their tanks quite often. After a turtle reaches four inches, it can be in any size tank larger than 50 gallons. So, if your turtle is a calm one and confident, plus 4 inches long, it can be in a 75 to 90 gallon tank.

Turtles eat daily, and need a diet as complex as humans. They are omnivorous and in the wild will eat aquatic plants, insects, frogs and small fish. In captivity, they can be fed these things. You can also feed Wardley or Reptomin pellets, as a vitamin staple. I feed mine a variety of earth worms, blueberries and strawberries, romaine lettuce, carrots (the peels, not chunks), occasional bananas and rarely cooked chicken. Portions should NEVER be larger than the turtle’s head. Turtles don’t feel hungry or have growling stomachs like humans, so they never feel satiated. They literally eat every time food is offered to them. Turtles will vomit up their food if they’ve eaten more than they can handle. In uncommon circumstances, a turtle’s stomach can tear or burst from eating too much food. (How to turtles survive in the wild if they don’t stop eating? Food in the wild is scarce in comparison to captivity).

Turtles are aggressive as they get older. Many people think males are more aggressive than females, but my oldest turtle, Sadie, defies that rule, and my other two are beginning to defy it also. Turtles are solitary by nature and do not want to live with other turtles, or other aquatic animals. They will attack and/or eat just about any living thing that crosses their path. I’ve encountered people who have put musk turtles with their red eared sliders, and their sliders tried to eat the musk turtles. Male sliders kill and eat baby sliders. Yes, two of my turtles share a tank, yes they have shown aggression toward each other, yes they will be separated soon.

Females, like chickens, lay unfertilized eggs. And they lay quite a few of them, too. A few years ago, Sadie became gravid for likely the first time in her life. I tried getting her to lay her eggs outside, and she would dig holes and abandon them. I made her multiple nesting boxes, which she always escaped from. Finally, we took her to the vet to be induced. The first shot was an interesting process… My mom held her back end, I let her chomp down on a popsicle stick and the vet quickly gave her the shot in her shoulder. At some point during this she also bit the vet. We brought her home, and she laid one egg. So, the next day, we brought her back to be induced again. We didn’t go in the room with her, but after about 10 minutes, the vet tech returned with Sadie and a look on her face of complete horror. Over the course of the next week, Sadie laid 11 more eggs behind her basking dock. Since this experience we cannot put our hands in her tank, otherwise she will bite us and she doesn’t like to let go. Sadie also launches herself out of the water like a crocodile whenever she sees that we are about to feed her.

So that being said… there’s no such thing as holding your turtle. Sadie will stay in my mom’s lap, but if I pick her up, her hisses and scratches me. Hurricane, the smallest of the pair we received as gifts, will kick and scratch and is impossible to hold. Typhoon, the second of the pair, is tolerant of being held for a little while, but will eventually start kicking, scratching and snapping, too.

So this is the delightful horror of taking car of turtles. While I am fascinated by them, and their habits and personalities, I am also exhausted by them, and I do not recommend them as pets. I actually don’t recommend any animals as pets, but especially not turtles. Unless you want to put yourself through this, and that’s on you.

I Don’t Understand the Fascination with Smart Phones.

September 20, 2014 - Leave a Response

Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t understand why people are fascinated by their smart phones.

I went into the Apple store in my area a while back just to look around, and while checking out an iPhone, I could not figure out how to put in a phone number. This was a long time ago, but the salesperson ended up showing me a very complicated way to get to putting in someone’s number to make a call. To me, a cell phone should be a cell phone, and do what it was originally meant to do, make a call. How am I supposed to call 911 in an emergency, if it is that complicated to do so? This was over a year ago, mind you, but it is the reason why I’ve never touched a “smart” phone again.

I’m a fairly social person on the internet, but not in every day life. I don’t like talking to people on phones, or talking to the general public. And I’m not the first person to say this but, it really bugs me that people sit around staring at their phones, rather than looking at each other. Unlike folks who have an easier time talking to and getting along with people, it’s something that is very hard for me, so I don’t take it for granted. I might not strike up a conversation with everybody but I like seeing the diverse faces around me.

I’m on the city bus for about 4 hours every day, 5 days a week. And I see so many people with these smart phones. I’m not a nosy person, but it’s hard not to notice the people sitting beside me who are doing one of the following things: Texting, playing candy crush or angry birds, listening to music, or visiting a social media site. I don’t see the justification of spending hundreds of dollars on a cell phone that you use to play candy crush. I especially don’t see that justification when you get on the bus with your daughter still in her pajamas and sandals in 60 degree weather, a backpack with both straps broken, dirty hair, but man, that iPhone was in PRISTINE condition. And the child’s mother spent all of her time messing around with the phone, and never once acknowledged her daughter. This is not the first time I have seen this happen. I think we have a problem when a cell phone becomes more important than a human being.

Another thing that infuriates me, is when a car accident happens, or someone is being attacked, and the first thing people do is get out their “smart” phone and they start taking pictures and recording video. A perfect example of this is the case of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a police officer and a civilian stood there and recorded it with his phone. While having video evidence of Garner’s murder is helpful after the fact, what would have been more helpful is if the man with the cell phone, and all the people standing around actually stood up for Eric Garner and tried to stop the officer from killing him in the first place. And don’t tell me it’s impossible for a group of people to stop a bunch of cops from ganging up on someone. In this video, several soccer players and fans come to the aid of a protester who was being beaten with a baton by one of the officers.

It amazes me how protective people are of their smart phones. They will spend over 30 dollars on a cell phone case, disregard what their children say to them in favor of what the phone is doing, and they need to periodically check the phone for the littlest update. Is that text, which probably says nothing more than “hey wassup?” really that important?

Texting within itself, no matter what kind of phone you have, has got to be the most irritating thing ever invented. Truthfully, I do text my mother from time to time, if we are meeting up somewhere or if she needs me to pick up something from the store. But that makes logical sense. However, texting during one of my classes does not make sense. “hey wassup?” does not have the same value as learning to speak Japanese. I remember my first semester at my college, a freshman asked the teacher for permission to leave the room to answer his cell phone. The teacher told him that if he left class, he shouldn’t come back. There were numerous people on a waiting list, trying to get into the class in case someone drops it, and here’s this goofball taking his education for granted because he values his cell phone more.

If I was a college professor, I would make all of the students turn off their cell phone and put it on the table/desk in the front of the room. I would also take attendance as people did this, and they could get it back after class. And if this bothers you, don’t come to class, because you will not disrupt the education of everyone else.

I’m not going to make this rant any longer than it needs to be, so I will say this: Turn off your damn smart phone, put it in your pocket and take a look at the folks around you. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the world.

You Don’t Have My Permission.

September 20, 2014 - Leave a Response

I think this is something many black folk can relate to and agree with: I’m tired of white people who think they need my permission to say or do “black things”. As Whoopi Goldberg once proudly said, if you have to ask permission to say something, then you know it’s something you’re not supposed to be saying.

The most common permission seeking issue seems to be white people wanting to refer to their black friends as “nigga”. I don’t like it when anyone says any variant of ‘nigger’, but especially not some white guy who probably thinks that makes him “street” (whatever ‘street’ is supposed to be). I am not, never have been and never will be your nigga, period. Gain some class and call your friends for what they are: your friends.

But the worst in my eyes, seems to be women who think that being with a black man, and/or raising a black child means that they have automatic permission to “act black”, and act as those they have been through as many struggles as we have. A prime example is a woman I had an argument with today on the city bus. As we were in line to get on the bus, a black woman in front of me got on, and this white woman standing next to me got mad because the black woman got on before her. So as I start walking to get on the bus, the white woman sticks her hand in the face, says “Don’t even” and cuts in front of me. So my response was as follows: “Uh, excuse me, what the hell are you yelling at me for? All I’m doing is standing here, and you wanna get up in my face?” So her boyfriend tried to tell me to be quiet because his girlfriend’s been having a bad day, and I told him I didn’t care what kind of day she having. So she said to me, “Don’t start with me cause your not the right shade.”

There’s a massive hypocrisy in that statement that is so obvious, I don’t need to point out to you. But what I do need to point out is that I don’t give a shit what shade you think I am, having a black boyfriend does not give you permission to run your mouth, get up in my face, and not expect me to get back in your’s. You wanna be in an interracial relationship, have at it, but have some fucking dignity, or shut the fuck up.

So no, you do not have my permission to behave like a trashy white person who is pretending to be black because they think it makes them appear street.

What is ALS?

August 15, 2014 - Leave a Response

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neuromuscular illness. ALS causes the death of motor neurons in the central nervous system. ALS is progressive, which means motor neurons do not die simultaneously, but one at a time or a small number of them at a time. The loss of mobility will also prevent adequate motion and exercise needed to maintain muscle mass, thus causing muscular atrophy. Most often, people are diagnosed after the age of 40. The average life expectancy for a person with ALS is between 2 and 5 years, however some individuals have lived less than 2 years. Others, like the graffiti artist Tempt, have lived for over 7 years, and in a rarer case, Stephen Hawking has lived with ALS for over 50 years. A large percentage of people with ALS die due to respiratory failure. ALS is always fatal.

Symptoms include difficulty swallowing and speaking. Muscles may ache or burn after routine exercise. Other signs are a limp or “dragging foot”, and a thick, deep voice, similar to cerebral palsy. ALS’s likeness to other neurological and neuromuscular illnesses makes it difficult to diagnose.

Yesterday, a local musician I’m acquainted with, posted a video of himself doing the ice bucket challenge for ALS. The purpose of the ice bucket I still don’t quite understand, but the videos that people do involve shout outs to friends/family they know to donate to ALS research. I appreciate the sudden outcry for effective treatments and a continuing search for a cure for this disease.

I have a feeling that such an outcry is late, because it takes a lot to understand what ALS is. Not just what it does physically, but what it does emotionally to those who have ALS, and what it does to their family members. There are many serious and terminal illnesses that people can go through in solitude. But when one person is diagnosed with ALS, their friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, are all diagnosed with ALS too.

It takes away your energy, and it can make you feel like a burden to other people. You can’t do everything that you used to do anymore, so you have to rely on people to take care of you. And if your caregivers aren’t doing their best to look after you, you can’t always say what you need, how you need it and what is hurting you.

You cannot control your body, you can’t touch your body, and in order to get somewhere, someone has to carry you. Simple tasks like going to the bathroom without assistance, brushing your teeth and hair, even scratching an itch are now a challenge, and as the disease progresses, impossible.

If you want to spend time with your friends, you are either too tired or don’t feel like struggling to be part of the conversation. You have to stop driving because sometimes an officer might confuse your delayed speech for being intoxicated. Sometimes you may feel too embarrassed to go out in public, for fear of what people will think of you.

Sometimes, your friends or family get mad at you if you can’t write back to them or just don’t feel like it because you’re exhausted.

But most of all you are frustrated, because you can’t change it.

I once told someone I knew who had been recently diagnosed with ALS, that the human mind is very powerful. That maybe the reason why someone like Stephen Hawking has lived so long with ALS is because he lives a real life, not a prolonged one. That this does not define you, and you will always be who you are. ALS can take away many things, but it cannot take away your mind.

Since we have to live with ALS, we deserve to live well. We deserve love, patience, and empathy. We deserve to be treated like human beings. And most of all, we deserve a cure.

ALS is a horror story, and an emotional roller coaster right now. But the future of what ALS is, ought to be something different than that. It ought to be eradicated, history like smallpox. It ought to be cured.

I’m Angry.

August 13, 2014 - Leave a Response

Let me put it to you this way: I’m angry. I’m angry at a 63 year old man who had millions of dollars at his disposal to buy the best doctor in the world to treat his depression in the best way possible, and he threw it all away. I’m angry that I suffered from depression for 12 years, had a fraction of what Robin Williams had, and I took steps to improve my life and get whatever treatment was available to me. I’m angry that at age 7 I decided I wanted to die, and without the maturity or knowledge of an adult, I chose to live. Robin Williams had the same choice as me, and he chose to throw it all away.

I’m angry too because a woman who lives in the house behind mine verbally abuses her two year old son, simply because she doesn’t like it when he wants to play in the backyard. I’m angry because I have worked with refugees who have lived in filthy refugee camps after watching their family members killed in front of them, and have been forced to move halfway around the world. In spite of that hell, my students could find joy and peace of mind in something as simple as drawing and painting.

I’m angry because recently a man named Eric Garner was choked to death by NYPD officers, even after he said to them “I can’t breathe”. Where are the profile photos and long status updates for Eric Garner? Why is it, that Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth can die on the same day, but people still mourn Steve Jobs like it happened yesterday?

I’m angry that Americans mourn celebrity suicides and use the excuse “but he/she gave us so much!” I don’t like it when people hurt themselves, but I also don’t like it when a drive by happens at a local park in the inner city and someone’s child, brother, sister, friend, is killed. You know these people gave? Their blood, and we have forgotten them.

You can call it mean spirited, or lacking in empathy or sympathy, or even say that because I have suffered from depression that I should know better. Your opinion does not matter to me right now, not just because I’m angry but because these are things which need to be said. The truth sometimes sounds best coming from a high-riding bitch like me.

The Hunting Party – Strangest Reaction

July 27, 2014 - 4 Responses

As you may, or may not know, I’ve been a fan of Linkin Park for a long time. The only album of their’s that I do not like is Hybrid Theory. The more I listen to Hybrid Theory, the more I dislike it. Last month, they put out a new album titled The Hunting Party. This album officially became the first album that I hate. And I don’t like saying that, because I want to like it. I want to find something good about this album but just when I start to dig a song, it takes a really weird turn for the worst. I don’t think an album has ever weirded me out, and made me so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sit still, until now.

Linkin Park’s 5th album, Living Things, was not their best, but I like it. I can see where it needs improvement, but that doesn’t hurt the overall quality. I actually can say that about all of their previous albums, even Hybrid Theory. I definitely can’t say that about The Hunting Party. And I didn’t make it pass Mark the Graves, after that one I stopped listening. I just couldn’t anymore. Now, my discomfort could be partially due to my hypersensitivity, because there are certain sounds at certain frequencies I can’t handle, and they give me the heeby-jeebies. But every single song I listened to had these weird sounds I couldn’t tolerate. Does anyone else feel this way?

It sounds like they were trying too hard to do something, and I’m not even sure what that something is. Is this a punk rock album? A heavy metal album? A rap/rock album? An attempt at sounding like the love child of Metallica and System of a Down? An… album?

“But A Thousand Suns was weird!” No, it wasn’t. A Thousand Suns was an album of epic proportions. It said something, it did something and it pushed the envelope. I am writing this not more than ten minutes after listening to most of The Hunting Party and I don’t even remember the lyrics. I don’t even understand the songs. I’m all for simple lyrics, after all, I grew up listening to Motown. Simplicity can be profoundly moving and even philosophical, but The Hunting Party never did that. The lyrics are so generic that they’re empty.

I’m all for bands switching up rolls. My favorite is 2NE1’s song Clap Your Hands (bakksu chyeo), in which Park Sandara raps. I don’t think any 2NE1 fan had ever heard her rap before that single came out. It was not only different, but it sounded great. She has a natural reggae voice, and since it’s a reggae song, it worked well. This is a great combination of a singer with plenty of self-confidence to try something new, and a great producer.

Why did Mike Shinoda try to sing like Chester? I think over the last 14 years it has been clearly established that Mike is not a rock singer, and resembles a dying cat if he screams. I don’t even remember what song this took place on… I only remember that it happened, and I think my brain is desperately trying to make it unhappen. Now all I can think of is Mike’s old blog entry about seeing The Happening, and leaving the movie theater because it was so bad. Well, I left the album.

I think my strange reaction is also due to a very old fanfiction I read many years ago about Mike Shinoda going totally insane and making this weird punk/industrial rock music, and The Hunting Party sounds like a real-life manifestation of this story. I think we’ve gone so deep into the insanity realm here, that we can’t get out. We’re screwed.

Neopets is NOT Kid Friendly Anymore

July 20, 2014 - 2 Responses

Disclaimer: I have chosen not to use sources for this blog entry, and refer to all incidents/stories described in the following blog entry as “rumors”, to protect those people involved and their right to their opinions about The Neopets Team, Neopets Virtual Worlds and Viacom.

When I joined the Neopets website, I was 13 years old. Back then, Neopets had a sidebar, no advertisements, the games room was only four categories with a Cybunny holding the “puzzles” sign, Faerieland was still in the sky and Lutari Island didn’t exist. The objective of Neopets was to take care of your Neopets, and you could have up to four of them. You could go with a Cybunny, which is really just a cute looking bunny, or take a more daring approach and create an Aisha, an alien cat with four ears. All you had to do was feed them, and they’d be fine. You could choose to groom them for contests, play with them to improve their happiness, and even paint them with a special paint brush to change their “color”. You literally could turn a an Aisha which was all yellow, into a RAINBOW Aisha. I mean, wouldn’t you just love it if you could do that to your fellow humans? Just adopt some black person and paint them with a “Caucasian” paint brush.

Okay, I don’t think The Neopets Team ever intended a racial undertone with the paint brush system. And every website has its problems. This is why Neopets has rules that if broken, result in a punishment. Back in the old days of Neopets, if you broke the rules they didn’t freeze your account like they do now. Instead, you just lost your neopoints, had your pets’ statistics set to zero and if I remember correctly, lost your trophies too. If you spent hours upon days upon months earning those things, and lost them, like most gamers you’d rage quit. It never happened to me, but at age 13, it was plenty of a deterrent from breaking the rules. Nowadays you just get your account frozen, and you have the option to appeal to get your account back. Some people deserve to have their accounts frozen. Some people however, have had their accounts frozen for unfair reasons. Allow me to share those stories with you.

A young boy, who we’ll call Tom, had a species of Neopet called a Tonu. He had painted his Tonu with a paint brush, and it had taken him a very long time to get that paint brush. So one day, he goes onto the website’s message board and starts talking to a group of boys. One of these boys sent Tom a food item, so Tom fed it to his Tonu. Then his Tonu turned into a standard yellow Tonu, and lost it’s painted color. When he asked this boy why they sent him an item that would do that, they all laughed at him, and reported his account. Tom’s account was frozen simply because it was reported multiple times.

Another story I heard recently is a grandmother who uses the site, had gotten extremely good at a very difficult game called Bouncy Supreme. I promise you, I am horrifyingly bad at this game. The objective is to “bounce” from one platform to the next to get yourself more time to continue bouncing. She was so good at this game that she scored over 100,000 points. The highest score for that game right is 69,000 and change. The Neopets Team investigated her score, and claimed she cheated because her score was just to good not to be a cheat. While playing this game she had accumulated so much time that when someone knocked on her front door, she could get up and answer it, come back to the game and finish playing. It’s possible they thought she was cheating because she had been idle in the game for a little while. Her account was frozen. She appealed to have it given back, and was unsuccessful.

If people are very good at games and earn neopoints quickly, their accounts may be frozen for cheating as well. If someone buys a lot of items with their neopoints in a short time span, they are accused of autobuying (using a computer bot to search for items and buy them for you) and they are frozen. Neopets has a clause in the Terms of Service that says they can freeze your account for any reason, which is why they get away with this. They don’t have to prove you did anything wrong, they just have to THINK you did something wrong. They also don’t put all of the website’s rules on the website, so when people inadvertently break those unlisted rules (which has happened to me twice) they are either sent warnings or frozen. Neopets gets away with this, because a clause in their Terms of Service says they aren’t responsible for how you interpret or understand their rules.

So why does Neopets do things like this? I don’t think it’s to be mean, I think it’s a combination of population control and marketing. Anyone who is extremely good at games, needs to spend less time working for it on the website, thus Neopets can’t make money off of them. And people who are inactive for a long time, or accidentally break an unwritten rule, are frozen to control the population. There are milions of people on Neopets. MILLIONS. Their dirtiest trick is they have a rule that if you post links to other websites, you can be frozen for it. This is not about protecting kids from malware/viruses or pornography. This is about keeping people on the site for as long as possible, so that they never leave. This is why earning neopoints is such a time consuming task.

The worst aspect of Neopets though, is the censors. Neopets is not a kids only site, it is all ages, which The Neopets Team actually has said. The filters disallow words like “basement” and “advertisement” because they happen to contain the word “semen”. The filter is strangely hypocritical, because the word “weeds” is not allowed in private messaging (neomail) but is allowed on a game a called Word Poker. In addition, the word “stupid” is banned but “idiot” is okay.

Certain subjects are also banned from the site. Religion and politics are slightly understandable, though plenty of kids can have healthy opinions of and discussions about those topics. But talking about sexual orientation is also banned. That’s only in recent years, and I’m going to guess it was put in place after the site was bought by Viacom. Here’s the thing, the owner of Viacom is big on Scientology, and any money that is spent on the “Neocash” feature of the site or a premium account, goes to, you guessed it, support Scientology. So if you spend money on the website, you are being forced to support a religious practice that is actually banned from being talked about on the Neopets site. Logic, where did it go? So now Neopets is just a cash cow for idiots who believe dinosaurs evolved and died out in less than 7,000 years.

Here is where Neopets becomes dangerous for kids: Kids are easily manipulated. Plenty of scammers exist all over the site who hack into these kids’ accounts, steal their neopoints and items, then sell those items on other websites. Some people put “cookie trackers” in their user created shops, which are places where people can purchase items for smaller amounts of neopoints. These trackers are used to hack email accounts and then hack into a Neopets account and steal items, neopoints and even pets.

The worst hacking story I’ve read about is a girl who’s email was hacked, followed by her Neopets account. Her account was frozen after being hacked. They say they freeze hacked accounts to protect the owner of that account. That may in fact be true. The thief proceeded to steal all of her neopoints and rare items. Even worse, that same thief tried to transfer her pet Draik, an extremely rare limited edition pet that is very difficult to get, to another account. This girl did get her Draik back. But her items and neopoints were not returned to her. The Neopets Team accused her of giving her password to the thief, and said that’s the only way a person’s account can be hacked. That’s like saying a woman deserved to be raped because she worse sexy clothing. Not that I go around hacking but no website is impenetrable, even the U.S. government computers can be hacked, though it would probably take over a decade to do it. But why would they return her stuff to her? Because then she wouldn’t have to come back and invest hours, days, months, years, in getting her stuff back.

I am debating leaving the website permanently. I don’t want to, but I’m not sure I like being there. It’s a website and it’s not important, but two of my pets are named after real life pets, combined with the time I’ve put into the website over the last 12 or 13 years. So we’ll see what happens.

No, you can’t leave your child alone in your car.

July 16, 2014 - Leave a Response

In the last two and a half weeks, several children in Connecticut under the age of twelve have been left alone in cars on hot days. Some of these children have been removed from these situations before suffering the serious, and deadly, effects of heat stroke. Other children, unfortunately, were not found in time and passed away.

There were numerous times when my mother would let me stay in the car while she was buying groceries. I was an atypical kid, so I had the common sense to get out of a car if it were too hot (and our car didn’t have child proof locks). I firmly believe in the intelligence of young children and their ability to make choices, and take appropriate actions. I also firmly believe in the science of the human brain. Children on average begin developing common sense at age ten. That does not mean the instant they turn ten years old, they magically acquire the common sense of an adult. No matter what we tell our children to do, no matter how much we teach our children, we have to operate under the belief that they do not know better, because they don’t. They are not the adults here, we are. And just because it was okay for me as an individual, that does not mean it is okay for the entire population of children throughout the United States, or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

I recently had a heated debate with a group of people over this issue. Many of the people I was talking to believed children as young as eight years old can be left alone in cars. That if the car gets too hot, they can just get out of the car. If there are child proof locks, then they can climb into the front seat and exit the car that way. This suggests that it’s okay for people to take such a risk as leaving their child in a car alone. This also suggests that if a child didn’t try to get out of the car, they deserved to suffer heat stroke. It’s not that different from suggesting that a woman deserves to be raped if she wears a short skirt. Maybe some of these people thought if heat stroke starts to set in, these children’s bodies have ways of shutting that whole thing down.

There are other reasons why children should not be left alone in cars, but I’ll get to that later. First, I want to share a video report from USA Today on an incident of two small children being left alone in a hot car: Shoppers smash windows to rescue kids in hot car.

It can be argued that there were other ways to handle the situation. Such as looking for the parent and/or guardian rather than breaking into the car. I read a very long article a while back (I couldn’t find a source link) in which a mother left her son in a car alone while she ran into a store to get a couple of things. A man who was in the parking lot, saw her leave her son, called the police and video taped her son in the car. If it were me, I would have said something to her directly instead. If she was unwillingly to take her son with her, then I would call the police. Letting her make that mistake, led to a massive custody battle in which she almost lost her child. But if I see a child in a car gasping for air, I’m telling the nearest person to call 911, and I’m breaking a window. The only thing I think should have been done differently in that video, is regardless of how much the mother begged, they should have called the police anyways. She lost her second chance when she almost killed her children.

Another argument I’ve heard is that not letting a ten or eleven year old sit in a car alone, takes away their independence. As I stated previously, ten years old do have common sense, and the ability to make choices. Choices such as, getting out of the car. And if you can’t leave your ten year old in a car alone for fifteen minutes without them doing something terrible, what does that say about you as a parent? Well, not much, because there are several flaws in this argument. Not every child knows what to do in every situation (most adults don’t either). Let’s say you want your ten year old to have air conditioning, so you leave the keys in the ignition, but tell them to leave the keys alone. The child waits until you are gone, and decides to give themselves a driving lesson. This is not a farfetched thing, there are a lot of kids in that age range who have attempted to drive, even stolen their parents’ cars. This may be a hypothetical scenario, but as we all know, there are times when we tell our kids not to do something, and they do it anyways.

Suppose your child was abducted after you left him/her in the car alone. That says nothing about your child’s ability to behave themselves, but it does say a lot about how irresponsible you are. Let me be very clear: Children are abducted from all kinds of places. School grounds, front lawns, street corners, and there are many variables to those incidents and parents/guardians are not always at fault. The organization Love 146 was founded by a man who was doing an undercover investigation of a brothel in Southern Asia. This brothel was filled with girls around the ages of ten and eleven. You may want to say to yourself, “But that’s a third world country! That doesn’t happen in the United States!” I haven’t been raped, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’s a common and frustrating misconception that human trafficking only happens in a third world country. Contrary to that, Great Britain has one of the highest human trafficking records in the world. You can go here hear to read all about the statistics of human trafficking in the United States: Polaris Project – Human Trafficking Statistics in USA.

I’m not saying we should shelter our children. I have seen the effects of a sheltered childhood and it isn’t pretty. I don’t think we need to scare our children into being safe either. But, at a certain age, we ought to be honest with them about what is not safe. We need to put away our pride and understand that our child’s safety is top priority over our laziness to be a parent. Leaving your kid in a car because you don’t feel like going through the mild hassle of bringing them into the grocery store, hair salon, or wherever, is laziness. So what if your kid begs you to stay in the car because they think the grocery store is boring. You don’t need to be intimidated by a ten year old, you can say no to them. And if you aren’t willing to be a decent parent, then don’t bring your kid with you to do your errands. There are things called babysitters and family members who will watch your kid while you’re gone.

If you still think it’s okay to leave a child in a car alone, then I have another video for you. Granted, the video is made by a veterinarian responding to people who leave their dogs in hot cars, but the end result of the experiment is the same whether it’s a pet or a child in the car.

Let’s Chat

July 9, 2014 - Leave a Response

I want to take a break from blogging about the usual stuff that’s too serious and instead, talk about a youtube channel I’ve been subscribed to for a very long time: Captainsparklez.

I originally found Jordan’s channel by searching for a survival gameplay series in Minecraft. After watching his Skyblock series, I ventured into his vanilla survival series. Jordan’s commentary has always been humorous, from blurting out phrases like “Mistakes were made!” and “R.I.P. in peace”, to always referring to himself as “We” instead of “I”. I think by addressing the viewers that way, the videos are more inviting.

With popularity comes opinions from your viewers, and as your popularity grows, their need to voice their opinions also grows. Jordan’s vlog, “Let’s Talk“, addressed several of the negative opinions.

People are going to have something to say about everything; it’s how people work. We cannot please everyone, and it just isn’t worth exhausting yourself trying to make everybody happy. I know that statement gets overused, but in this instance it rightfully applies.

So let’s chat about his series called “Ultra Modded Survival”. This is season three of his survival let’s play, and the second season in which he uses mods. Mods add a unique flavor and twist to Minecraft, and allow players to change their world or create objects they couldn’t do otherwise in a regular Minecraft survival game. And while mods do allow us to make things faster, better, and cooler, sometimes veteran Minecraft gamers like to take the old-school approach of making things from scratch, and needing several hours or a whole day to do it. The purpose of adding mods to his survival series wasn’t to showcase every mod in expert detail; the point was to enhance the gameplay and make it interesting. Simply put, there’s a big difference between making a singular block that acts like an elevator, and understanding the redstone mechanics behind making a piston elevator. The piston elevator will take longer, sure. The elevator block doesn’t take more than five minutes, I’d say. Notch did not create Minecraft to provide the same instant gratification as an iPhone. This is a sandbox game.

Ultra Modded Survival has too many mods, and given how it’s impossible to know every single block that comes from every single mod, it would be best to not add so many in the future. Or, for season four, not have any more mods at all. Maybe even play vanilla only in a newly spawned 1.7 world, or 1.8 world if it releases before season four starts. The other option would be to cancel the series altogether, and piss off the majority of his subscribers.

Let’s move on to the “Mianite” series. Mineplex was starting to become redundant, so this multiplayer server, Mianite, is a fresh addition to the channel. The people Jordan is playing with are interesting, charismatic and humorous. The idea of having good, evil, and neutral teams makes for interesting gameplay. There are a couple of problems with Mianite though:

1. The server is now devoted to repeatedly killing other players and griefing. It was funny the first few times, but now that’s all that seems to happen. I was considering participating in this server, but I don’t want to spend several days building my house and log on to find it completely destroyed by someone who thinks it’s “funny”. Most servers have no griefing rules for a reason.

2. Disorganized. The server seems like it should have a story, but it doesn’t. Instead, players randomly ask the “Gods” for ways to grief each other, or have random battles against other players. Why not create a tournament arena, where players can challenge each other away from their houses/builds and settle their issues accordingly? Why not have territories for each team? Since teams Mianite and Dianite oppose each other, crossing into each other’s territory could prove fatal, or rewarding if they survive. Team Ianite could have a neutral territory, like a safe zone. It would be the responsibility of the players to know who is, and who is not on their teams.

This doesn’t make Mianite a bad server. It has the potential to be very interesting and draw a huge crowd. This is a young series with a long way to go. But if there must be complaints, they should be directed at Mianite, rather than Ultra Modded Survival. Jordan puts a lot of planning into UMS to avoid the disorganized spontaneity of Mianite. If you think you can start a let’s play that does what his cannot, by all means, go make that let’s play. Or you can be respectful and offer suggestions. The only thing bullying will get you is someone who doesn’t want to continue the series, and then everyone loses.

Father’s Day Reflection

June 16, 2014 - One Response

My dad is not the worst of the terrible dads in the world, but he hurt me enough times to push me to cut off all contact with him, and refuse him entry back into my life. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have cut ties with many people, and only once have I given it a second thought. What I do not understand, is fathers who have done things which are vile and abusive, yet their sons or daughters, even in adulthood, “make amends”. How can you just let someone back into your life after they have harmed you so much?

There is no such thing as unintentionally hurting someone, even if it is a small offense. When you cast aside the well-being of another person, that is a choice you consciously make. Whether what you said or did was misinterpreted, or was done with the best intentions, it doesn’t matter, because you still hurt that person. You ought to be held accountable for that. Afterward, if the person you hurt wants nothing to do with you, or wants to make amends with you, that is up to them. They have the right to protect themselves from being hurt by you again, or give you a second chance. Simply put, your overall well being trumps anyone’s “right” to be in your life.

Why am I bothering to explain this? Well, some things are worth moving on from and worth talking about and amending. People are not perfect, and we sometimes make the wrong choices.

Then there are people, specifically fathers, who choose to hit, rape, or bully their children. In my case, I was bullied, and sometimes hit. Several people on my dad’s side of family had the audacity to tell me that I should talk to him anyways because he’s my father. The fact that he is biologically related to me, in their eyes means I have no right to protect myself from him. The only thing worse than an abuser, are people who do not advocate for the abused.

I made a disturbing discovery today, that my dad has photos of me from my childhood on his facebook page, and he talks about me as if nothing terrible ever happened between us. I did not have to look at his page, and I knew I’d most likely dislike what I’d come to find. At the same time, I’m glad I did. I am not his daughter, and he is not my father based on principle. He is pretending that we have a relationship. Over the years he has made several attempts to contact me, which I promptly ignore. This borders on behavior similar to that of erotomaniacs, as well as people suffering from psychosis.

The sad thing about this isn’t so much him, it’s the fact that I almost turned into him. We live what we learn, and a year ago I got so close to someone that I made him very uncomfortable. His unwillingness to voice his discomfort didn’t help matters. In general, there were many factors in why we had a falling out, and it was not a one-sided issue. Even though our friendship started off slow, it did not stay that way, and the negativity became unbearable. So unbearable, that without asking him if he wanted to discuss anything or move on, I told him I couldn’t be his friend, and I said goodbye. I second guessed that a couple of times, once by still supporting his art which he didn’t need from me, and several months later asking if he wanted to make amends, to which he never responded. I’ve since come to terms with the fact that he does not need me around him, and I don’t want to be around him. My father can’t do that. He still thinks he “needs” me to be his daughter, and that I need him to be my daddy. We shouldn’t push people to fix something that they don’t want to fix, or just can’t be repaired. This is not how the real world works.

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