A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Who are you and why do you think I know you?

My mother handed me a photo a few days ago.  "Do you know when this was taken?"
I stared at it.  A group of women, strangers all, mostly middle aged, one younger and holding a fairly young baby.  Wait, the outfit the baby was wearing: that was an outfit Treasure had been given by one of my mother's friends, size six months, and long since outgrown.  Dark curls, yes, that baby was my daughter.  So, then, the woman with long blond hair holding the baby must be me.  The grey haired woman next to her, my mother.  Then I could slowly identify the other women.  I've known them all since I was six: they're good friends.  They came to my wedding, I grew up with their children.
"January, last year.  When we went out to dinner with your friends," I said.
"Thanks," said my mother, and turned the photo over to write on the back.

Everyone's a stranger.  If I meet someone in the place they belong--someone from Church at Church--I can probably put together enough clues to figure out who they are.  If I meet someone where they don't belong--someone from Church at the store--I cannot.  Most of my life, I've been told that this is because I'm lazy.  It's not.  It's no more laziness than someone else not recognizing middle C when they hear it.  There's a broken spot in my brain, somewhere between my eyes and the part of the brain that recognizes faces.  Just as there's a spot in your brain that never developed properly, that fails to let you identify pitches.

This is, most likely, the result of a knock to the head I took at a very young age.  For some folks it's genetic.  It doesn't really matter: I deal, as most people deal with whatever quirks of nature and nurture they got landed with.   If the President of the United States sat down next to me, I wouldn't know who he was.

People think I snub them, when in actuality they're just strangers.  Do you say 'Hi!' to strangers?  Well, in a small enough town you do.  I like small towns.  I miss living in a small town, where I could be pretty much guaranteed that everyone I saw was someone who would expect me to recognize them.

So I'm a hermit instead.  It's much easier to not deal with people than to have people I've never seen before in my life come up and give me a hug as if they're my best friend and ask after my family.  Of course, I know that those strangers aren't really strangers, that they must think they know me, but it's nonetheless somewhere between disconcerting and terrifying.  My children seem to recognize them.  How do you teach be wary of strangers when you can't tell who isn't one?

The internet is a safe and comfortable social outlet.  On the internet, people wear name tags.   When someone asks after my family, I know who they are and what I've deemed appropriate to share.  I know people online whom I've never met, and am never likely to meet, better than people I see every week.  I can pick up the thread of a conversation from the day or week before online.  Face to face, I can't, because I have no clue who's talking to me.  My husband's learned to clue me in by greeting people by name.  Not "Hey, how are you," but "Hey Jim, how are you?"

There are exceptions: people who, in spite of my broken face recognition system, I can recognize within a second or so.  There are not very many of them, just a dozen or so.  They do not include most relatives, just my immediate family and a very, very few close friends.  And, apparently, I myself am not in that group.  I don't use faces to recognize them, though, I'm not quite sure what I use, but hair style and color plays a role, as does voice.

I'm used to this, but it's comforting to know it's a physical malfunction, not a moral failing.  It's called prosopagnosia, or if you aren't a fan of scientific names, face blindness.  It explains so many little things, like why a group of fellow writers complained that I never described my characters: that's easy, I don't 'see' them either.  Useful, because now I know that other people need a physical description.  (Which led to a lot of "Wait, he has red  hair?" when they saw revisions.)  It also explains why so many people feel the need to share pictures of themselves on the internet, and a portion of my dislike, even disgust, with social networking services like Facebook.

I'm pretty sure there's a really good short story in this, probably horror.  If it is horror, I'm not the one to write it, but if you are, by all means ask me questions.  It's a story I'd like to read.

You can learn more about prosopagnosia here: http://faceblind.org/  Estimates are that two out of a hundred people have this particular malfunction.  If you take their famous faces test, you may be interested to know that I scored a zero.  To me, everyone's a stranger.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christ is risen!

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

By Charles Wesley, sung to the tune of Lyra Davidica.

Friday, October 07, 2011

I need a new nickname

So, as of a week ago, I'm no longer a mom of only boys. The four boys are pretty excited, except for when they're not. Youngest Son wavers between "My baby, not yours," and melt-downs. It's tough being three and not the baby any more.
She's generally pretty calm, doesn't fuss much, not even for diaper changes. Her big brothers have dubbed her Treasure. She makes lots of little crunchy baby sounds, coos, etc.
Other than that, we've had lots of upheaval in our lives since I last posted here, including several moves. My in-laws have gone back to the Old Country, where they are building a house. This has naturally (my father-in-law never having met someone with a need or 'need' that he didn't help, even if he had nothing) caused money issues, but all were prepared for this. It's nice to see my husband and his brothers and sister all on the same page. There's enough other stress in all our lives.
Now I need to go bake a pizza and a birthday cake--vanilla flavored. Eldest is nine today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Magic and Identity

**Nobody is reading this because I never post. That's okay. I'm mostly writing this as a reminder to myself anyway.

Somehow in the daily list of must-be-dones I get lost. Maybe some folks don't, but I don't think I know any of them.
I've got to pay the bills, educate the boys, stop the boys from quarelling (long on stopping, short on educating today--they have colds), do the laundry, do the taxes, do the bookkeeping, do the dishes, and boy that floor needs mopped. Not to mentioned that box, and that box, and all those other boxes, and I've got to find something to wear and my shoes (also in a box) by Friday because of that dinner (husband's work related).
And the economy is going upside down, and I haven't had enough time for reading, and my Bible got misplaced in this last move and I meant to read every day during Lent but I've only gotten on web twice to do so, so far, and my brother-in-law is pulling the usual money related nonsense and thank God my other brother-in-law has discovered Dave Ramsey so my husband isn't standing alone on the financial end these days.
And so in all this I forget who I am. What I do, what I like. In just trying to do enough. Every now and again I read this website: http://www.sixredheads.com/ and today she posted something that after my brief exchange with Desert Cat really hit me. http://desertcat.blogspot.com/

I haven't touched my 'cello since before Christmas. I just haven't had time . . .

There's a . . . call it an idea, that's been dancing in the back of my head for years, now. It has a name, or nearly a name, something like Meditations on the Dawn of the Resurrection. (That's not quite it, but it's almost there.) I've had the opening line, the first few phrases, in my head and on the tips of my fingers for years. And it tells a story--you can find the story in any of the Gospels.
Today I pulled out the 'cello. I got her tuned up. Baby was napping, older three coughing in front of the TV. (Using the TV to 'drug' sick children into not quarreling.)
And I played those phrases. And it kept coming out. And I played that. And some more. And then I jumped up and dug for staff paper, which I found, and a pencil, which I didn't until I remembered I'm supposed to keep one in my case, where I found a handful. And I played it again and scribbled and played and scribbled. And then Next-Youngest bit Next-Eldest, and they all screamed, and Baby woke up and screamed too. It isn't anything like done. But it's started, and well started. And it's Something, not just pretty music, but Something Important.

It feels like magic in the good fantasy novels ought to feel. And the high, from the playing and the composing, I don't know how else to describe it. It's like performance high only stronger--comes with the munchies too. But if you don't perform, I don't know anything else that feels like this.

So why am I so busy being practical that I forget to do this?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What you absolutely have to pay--forget those rude people on the phone

Triage is basicly a medical term. It's used by military, by emergency responders, and so on. Basicly it's a way of allocating scarce resources to great needs. Picture yourself at a first aid station. You have people who are injured all around. Some of them will die, no matter what you do. Some of them can be shipped elsewhere, to be treated. Some of them will die unless you do something RIGHT NOW. That third catagory is the catagory you help. If you have extra morphene and some extra hands, you ease the pain of the first two catagories. But you concentrate your resources on the third catagory.
This is what you're going to do with your finances. Your bills: some of them have to die. Some of them might be able to be saved if/when things are better. Some of them you have to keep alive. Get a peice of paper and a pencil, put three columns on the page, labled 'item', 'amount due', and 'monthly due'.
Necessities are pretty simple, we all know them: water, food, shelter, clothing. Because of the society we live in, they have to take on certain forms. We have laws that make it difficult to cut to the real minimums of what we need.
Water: you can't just walk down to the river with a bucket, bring it back and sterilize it, and call it good. Social Service agencies won't allow that, even if it's safe. So you have to pay the water bill. In our town it's bundled with sewer and garbage, and we have to pay all three to get water. This is frustrating, because it'd be much cheaper to take the garbage to the dump ourselves, but in order to get water we're forced to pay for garbage service. On your page write 'water' under 'item', write the amount currently due if there is such under 'amount due' and write the normal monthly amount under 'monthly'.
Shelter: we've all got to live somewhere, and for today, where you are is where you are. We'll talk about ways to make it cheaper later. For now list it out on your page. If it is more than 25% of your net income, that is, the amount you get to keep to pay your bills with, it's probably hurting you.
Electricity: while not a necessity, it's become such, legally. You can loose your kids if you don't have electricity, but that doesn't mean you have to actually use much. So write it down. It may actually be a necessity in your case, if you rely on electricity for heat or to drive a fan for another heat source. While you're at it, walk through your house and unplug stuff from all the outlets and turn out the lights. By not leaving things plugged in while not in use, you can save money on the million clocks and lights that run on them. Even if you don't use any electricity, you'll pay the company for the priviledge of being connected.
Heat: if you're lucky, you don't need electricity for heat. Figure out what your cost per month is, and write it down. You may buy a load of wood each year, you should be setting aside 1/12 of the cost of that each month so it doesn't ruin your budget when it comes around.
Food: $100 per adult, $50 per child, or no more than 25% of your budget, whichever is less. We'll talk about how to attain food for this amount later.
Transportation: if you've got a job you've got to get there. I hope you don't have a car payment if you need a car. If you live reasonably close to where you work you can walk or bike. Or ski, if it's too snowy to walk or bike. If you live in an urban area, there's probably public transport. If you live out where we do, you've got to have a car or motorcycle. Try to drive a car over ten years old and keep it well maintained. Write down your gas and insurance costs. If you have a car payment pencil that in, we'll decide if you can keep it later.
Phone: you won't have a job if you don't have a phone, these days. That doesn't mean you need the phone you have now. Can you cut back? Smaller plan? Tell all the relatives they can't talk to you except at night? Ditch the cell and have just a local landline and get them to foot the long distance? Ditch the cell and the landline and get a pay-as-you-go cell? The pay-as-you-go is particularly nice if you have a lot of debts you can't pay as much on as the debt holders would like: they don't know the number and can't call constantly. Don't give the number out, either, except to those who actually need it.
Insurance: with any luck, your employer is helping to foot the bills. If you have kids, look into Medicaid or your state children's health insurance. Term insurance for life. Keep that auto insurance as long as you have the auto. Keep the homeowner's or renter's insurance. Keep whatever disability insurance you have, your chances of using that are greater, so I'm told, than using your life insurance. Insurance takes up more of our income than any other expense. If you don't have a pretax health account, make sure you budget your copays here.
Internet: it sure feels like a need, but it likely isn't. Is there someplace you can get free wi-fi? What about using the library's computers? Can you check your personal email and surf the web on your lunch break at work? A lot of jobs and potential employers can be located on the internet. If you need home internet for work--likely if you work in computers--then it's a need. A cost of having the job.
And that sums it up. You might have a few other bills around. Credit cards, old medical bills, cable, what have you. They aren't needs. They'd just like you to think they are. If these things are paid, you're going to be okay. Add up your totals in the monthly column. If it's less than or equal to your net pay, you're good. If it's more than, you need to cut some of these expenses. I'll talk about how to do that later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Might help someone

We've lived on just one income for . . . well, pretty much ever since we were married, coming up on seven years. Sometimes I've brought in a little money here and there. Last year was our best year, financially, and we didn't break the $50k mark. This year I don't expect we'll break $40k. We're a family of six, I should mention.
So, it seems that with all the financial news being so dire out there, I might have learned a few tricks that would help other folks out. I'll be posting some of these.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An story and 3 questions

My oldest and his little public schooled friend, who is a month younger, were talking the other day. My son says: "2 plus 2 plus 1 equals 5." His friend says "No, it doesn't." The boys are kindergarten-age.

Question 1: What do kids learn in kindergarten? Obviously not math. My son's friend can't read, either. This is a serious question: I'm a second generation homeschooler.

Question 2: This little boy went to preschool last year. What do kids learn in preschool? Clearly not math or reading.

Question 3: If kids don't learn anything academic in preschool or kindergarten, why do their parents send them? What's different than daycare?