Not Just About Choice

As the Supreme Court readies itself to strike down Roe v. Wade many states are about to pass strict abortion laws, including my state Missouri which would prevent even medically necessary abortions illegal.

In the US roughly 110,000 pregnancies a year are ectopic… Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous for mother and fetus. As the fetus grows in the fallopian tube, the tube not designed for growing fetuses expands until it ruptures. The rupture of a fallopian tube is a medical surgical emergency. Side effects of an ecoptopic pregnancy include infertility and death for the mother. Even before the Roe v. Wade most ectopic pregnancies were ended by doctors. In a number of states that will no longer be allowed. Doctors who perform them can go to jail.

Many years ago, I was told not to get pregnant because I wouldn’t survive it, due to a blood disorder. Now, I’ve added “getting pregnant will be even worse because a caesarean section is not an option should you need one and giving birth with the nerves of your groin, hyperactive as they are will cause extreme pain.” Now if I get pregnant, a terrifying thought… I will not have the option to end the pregnancy even though the doctors do not think I will survive it.

So if my birth control fails, I will become an incubator for an unwanted child. I married my husband because he wasn’t interested/didn’t want kids and neither did I. As of June, if birth control fails…. Chances are good I’ll die and leave my husband with an unwanted child, so that’s exciting. And with my neurological disease, sterilization of me is not an option.

Before the 1960s and 1970s pregnancy was the number one killer of women in the US. I expect that to be the case again in the next few years, because even though medicine has progressed, it hasn’t progressed enough to prevent all blood clots or save most women who have ectopic pregnancies. Thankfully, not all states are passing this stupid abortion bans, so women in states like Washington, California, New York, etc have better survival chances than those in states like Missouri and Oklahoma. Also those states have said they will not be banning abortion just because Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

Which brings me to another point, Missouri is adding in that women who travel out of state for an abortion, even if it’s medically necessary can be arrested and doctors must report if their patients terminate their pregnancies. This means my OB/GYN is now a spy for the government as well as being forced to watch me die if I get pregnant. I wonder how long OB/GYNs will stay open in Missouri? How long before the stress of their new jobs force them out of women’s health and into something else or before they flee the state.

These draconian laws, turn women into nothing more than disposable incubators for the next generation of children.

Someone sent me a tweet recently proclaiming that with the number of people who are pro-choice, the statistics of abortions performed must be wrong because all those pro-choicers would have had multiple abortions. What? That’s beyond ridiculous. Being pro-choice doesn’t mean the people are out intentionally getting pregnant a dozen times a year just so they can have abortions. Thanks to modern day birth control, most of those pro-choicers will never have an abortion and many do want children of their own. I do not, and I didn’t even before I was told not to get pregnant because of an issue with my blood or the reiteration of the sentiment when I developed CRPS spread to my hip/groin nerves. It really is about having the choice.

It is much better to return women to the status of disposable incubators for unwanted children, most of whom will enter the already overburdened foster care system.

Summoning Trouble

Beta Readers: If you found nothing that needed changing in Summoning Trouble please open the document and on the title page write No Changes and save the document. Remember to have them back to me by 11:59 pm tonight May 6th.

I hope to have the book available for purchase by Tuesday May 10, 2022. Once it has published, I will create a blog post with the links in it.

Dogs Nature v. Nurture

As everyone who has read my blog for a while knows, we have 2 dogs: Lola and Kelly. My best friend sent me an article on dog genetics and behaviors the other day that triggered me to think about nature v. nurture in dogs. We theoretically know more about Lola’s genes than Kelly’s, although I hope to do a genetic test on Kelly this year. When my nephew got Lola he was told her dad was a retired German Shepherd police dog and her mother was a rough collie that lived on a farm (Lassie from the TV show) is a rough collie in case you need a picture of this in your head).

This makes Lola half German Shepherd and half rough collie. While I say it myself, Lola is a very attractive dog with her lion-like mane and fluffy chest with golden red hair. As a puppy she had the black saddleback of a German Shepherd but as she got older it went away and the only black left on her is her tail which is decidedly German Shepherd looking while her face, mane, and fluffy chest is definitely collie. At 6 years old, Lola’s personality is well established. By 2 years old she had a mostly grey muzzle, which is a genetic trait that shows up in German Shepherds.

Interestingly, Lola is terrified of more things than most people. There’s the normal dog afraid of loud sudden noises (gun shots, fireworks, storms, etc), but she’s also claustrophobic – I didn’t even know dogs could be claustrophobic – and she really hates change whether that be major changes to the house or a deviation of her routine and new things make her panic. So, her father would not have been a skittish and stressed out German Shepherd, Lola went the opposite direction and is afraid of most things. I had some concerns this anxiety in a German Shepherd came from us and our nurturing of Lola but as the vet reminded me German Shepherds swing from one extreme to the other; some afraid of nothing, some terrified of everything like people are and they think it’s genetic induced. The article didn’t seem to track the fear genes in German Shepherds (but that would be a good study), but did imply genetics in dogs may play less of a role in their behavior than we think.

Interesting, because when I tell people Lola is half collie the next question is inevitably “is she a biter?” What? Why would she be a biter? I have countered that question with “why do you think she’d be a biter?” suspecting the herding instinct in collies which will make them nip at animals and people to move them along might be influencing this idea that collies are biters because and the person informed me no, nipping is not biting and they’ve always heard collies are biters. Okay, well I’m on my 3rd collie (I had a border collie in my teens), Lola who is half rough collie, and the vet thinks Kelly has some border collie genes (because she also has a small mane with black and white fur) and I’ve never had a collie who was a biter. So why does this idea that all collies are biters persists? I don’t know but given the way it’s said to me and the frequency, most people think it’s a genetic behavior. Of the three collies listed: Frisky the purebred Border Collie of my teens, Lola who is half rough collie, and Kelly who is probably less than 10% border collie, Kelly is the one most likely to bite.

The other thing we hear a lot is “oh it’s a good thing you don’t have kids, collies and kids don’t get along.” What!? I am going to take serious exception to this. We got Frisky the year my oldest nephew was born (1993) and Frisky LOVED my nephew. When Michael started pulling up, Frisky would stand in front of Michael and let him grab his fur and would help pull the toddler to his feet. Even when we would get onto Michael for using the dog for this purpose, Frisky would continue to let the toddler do it and when he started walking, we didn’t need baby gates…. Frisky would follow the toddler around and if Michael attempted to walk out of the room with the adults, Frisky would herd him back into the middle of the room. Frisky never growled at Michael and he certainly never nipped him or bit him. And now there’s Lola and Kelly. Lola is a year older than Jude the great nephew and Lola let Jude do whatever he wanted to her. When he started walking, yep Lola would let him use her fur to pull himself to his feet and more than once, we found the two of them curled up on the floor together with Jude using Lola as a pillow. I once caught Jude (he was about two) sticking his finger in Lola’s eye (and he was doing it hard enough I could see her eyeball move!) and I got on to Jude, but Lola was just lying there letting him poke her in the eye. She didn’t growl, she didn’t bite at him or nip at him. Now that she’s 6 years old, she’s less excited about kids, especially babies, but she still loves them in her way. With Kilian the great nephew, she stalks up behind him, sneaks in and licks him, and then she runs away because she doesn’t want his unconditional and overly attentive love in return. But she’s still not nipping at them or biting them, she just gets up and goes where they can’t get her.

Based on my experiences with collies (border & rough), collies are not biters by nature and they don’t have a genetic predisposition to hate children. Kelly isn’t a biter and she also loves children, she’s not as patient with them as Lola and Frisky were, but Kelly was abused and neglected. Given Kelly’s puppyhood, I am not surprised Kelly isn’t as patient with kids as Lola or Frisky, there’s a lot of things Kelly isn’t as patient with as Lola or Frisky, but it isn’t because of genetic predispositions for “bad behavior” it’s about her puppyhood or how she was nurtured as a puppy (and it wasn’t good).

The point being, how many of these “genetic behaviors” are actually based on the nurturing of the dog? I’ve never had a collie that was a biter or wasn’t good with children, but everyone expects Lola to behave a certain way because of her breeds and yes some of it applies, but the majority does not. With Kelly being a mutt and looking like a mutt, people have fewer behavioral expectations for her. However, I will say Kelly is not eager to learn or listen to people. After being told she probably had border collie in her, I thought “oh she’ll be easy to train” she absolutely was not and she still does her own thing even when we are giving her orders. But as the vet pointed out, for Kelly, the nurture left scars (physical and mental) and some behaviors (like jumping on people) may not be something we can train out of her regardless of what we do. The vet wasn’t wrong; even putting Kelly on a shock collar, we were not able to break her of jumping on people. She just gets so excited anytime someone comes to the house or yard, she can’t contain herself and she has to jump on them. It is annoying and I know it (which is why I try to warn people), but we tried positive and negative reinforcement and she still does it… if not even shocking her would break her of jumping on people, nothing will.

Echo Chambers

I used to believe social media was a good thing, it could bring together families with significant distance between them and unite like minded people. In the last 2 years, I’ve changed my mind… Social media is an echo chamber affirming our beliefs and allowing us to force anyone with a different belief away from us and this is very bad.

For example if you believe the Earth is flat, you can discover other people who believe the same thing and ideas are generated by discussion so during your discussions of the Earth being flat who knows what great ideas might be generated. Yet we have taken this to the extreme and if you believe the Earth is flat, discussions within the group reinforce that belief, but we have begun excluding all other information. And as someone who doesn’t believe the Earth is flat, if I ask for the details that inform your belief that the Earth is flat it becomes viewed as a personal attack, not a request for information. Eventually, the person who believes the Earth is flat fills their friends list with like minded individuals to the exclusion of everyone else creating an echo chamber for their personal beliefs and history has shown us this is a dangerous thing.

I don’t know when it was decided being exposed to different beliefs was a bad thing, but social media has determined it so. But the best ideas come from exposure to other beliefs and ideas, because people have different experiences and different ways to view things. For example, I don’t believe aliens built the Great Pyramid at Giza, but I understand why some people do. It is an engineering feat, particularly for a society that supposedly hadn’t invented the wheel yet. I feel conventional wisdom is incorrect and we have underestimated our Egyptian ancestors… but I can definitely see why someone looking at the available data would decide the pyramid must have been built by aliens, which stimulates me to think the Egyptians had carts with wheels on them for moving those massive stone blocks and we just don’t have evidence of it because the wheel is not exactly a thing of greatness like a pyramid and so it wasn’t significant enough to be written about and we need to continue to do research on this matter. Or hell, as ridiculous as it seems maybe it was aliens, we will only know by continuing to learn about it.

By shouting into our echo chambers, we shut down our ability to learn, because our ideas are always being parroted back to us which requires no thinking on our parts. Yesterday I read a news article about round worm infections increasing in both frequency and intensity. Uh, that’s weird. We know how to prevent round worms and it’s a basic hygiene thing, so why would they be making a comeback? I also read about a hepatitis infection that is leaving children with damaged livers, the suspected cause is an adenovirus. Wait, adenoviruses are not rare… they are one of the viruses responsible for the “common cold,” definitely prolific. Why has this particular adenovirus mutated to cause liver damage (and in some cases failure) in children? Or have we done something to our immune systems to make them less effective against adenoviruses? And as a 41 year old woman who has experienced the immune system damage caused by the measles virus, my perspective is slightly different than the 41 year old woman who has never had measles because they were successfully vaccinated against it, because my thought upon reading it was “is there another virus we haven’t identified damaging the immune systems of children that then makes adenoviruses more dangerous?” Could a rhinovirus (another virus responsible for the “common cold”) have mutated in such a way that it doesn’t just cause the common cold but also compromises the immune system in some children that makes it more likely that a later adenovirus could then cause liver damage or failure? I admit this scenario is unlikely, but as someone who understands a virus can cause lifelong damage to the immune system, it’s one of the things I think about when I hear a virus has become more dangerous. The chances are someone without the personal experience, would consider a secondary virus might actually be the problem and not the adenovirus.

However, if you are shouting into your echo chamber (and ignoring me because we disagree on something like the Earth being flat), you will not be exposed to my ideas, and my ideas though contrary to yours might stimulate an idea that changes the world. Furthermore, if I’m only listening to people who agree with me, then I may miss something that is life altering. I’ll provide a more “down to Earth” scenario; someone in my life believes chronic pain is caused by demonic possession and has asked me if I would be willing to undergo an exorcism to try to cure CRPS. I do not believe in demons and by extension demonic possession. But if I did… an exorcism to alleviate my pain would be an idea worth exploring because even if I am not possessed by demonic forces, the placebo effect could result in exorcism curing my chronic pain. I have been researching whether the placebo effect works in non-believers because if it does, than an exorcism to treat my CRPS could be worth it. However, if I ignored everyone who had beliefs contrary to my own, I would not even know about the possibility that an exorcism may alleviate my pain, even though I have read a great deal about the placebo effect.

I think we should all evaluate our social media circles and see if we are shouting into our own echo chambers and preventing us from seeing the forest for the trees.

Kelly & Other Updates

Our pooch Kelly is having some health problem. We thought it was probably a UTI, but that is not the case. She does next week for more tests. It could be bladder stones (which would require surgery) or a handful of other things that my mom couldn’t totally remember after she spoke with the vet. So we wait.

My niece’s mother who disappeared December 28,2021 was discovered deceased on March 20, 2022.

I hope to start going through the second round of edits on Summoning Trouble soon.

Editing Summoning Trouble Update

So the first editor returned Summoning Trouble to me over a week ago and I have slowly been struggling to get it edited. So Microsoft defaults comments text to 8 point font and it can’t be enlarged… and I can’t read 8 point font anymore. I attempted to zoom my Word document until the 8 point font was readable, but that means I can only see half a page of text… the right half (where the comment boxes are). And that is a problem. To effectively make changes to clarify an idea, I have to see both the comment and the text it’s referencing.

I am starting to think this eyesight issue is why I suddenly started to hate editing in 2020. I have always loved the editing process until then, which is why I was surprised when I suddenly started hating it.

Today and this week, I am addressing the comments where all the referenced text is on the right side of the page near the comment box. Last week I ordered a magnifier screen for my laptop. It’s not set to be delivered until the 18th of March once it arrives I will go through and address the comments I skipped because I couldn’t see all the text and the comment at the same time. This sounds super confusing describing it, so I have included a few pictures to illustrate the problem. I am hoping by March 22nd I will have it ready to send to the second round of editors. The comments are the stuff on the side of the screenshot that says Kris Smith above them. The text it references is the stuff highlighted in red in the main text body (to the left of the comment).

These two comments are easily addressed. Comment 1 on this page is in reference to a Proper Name which is entirely visible on the right side of the page along with the comment and since the capitalization is correct, it can be ignored. The second comment can also be ignored because BCE (Before Common Era) is correct and I dislike the use of BC and AD because I have a history degree.

This comment is more difficult. Since I can’t see the entire sentence along with the comment on the page, I can’t tell what she wants me to do. This means this comment will need to wait until I can bring my zoom back down to 100% and see the entire page along with the comment to fix it. And sadly, without being able to see the sentence, I’m not actually sure what she thinks needs to be done here. I find if I read the comment and then scroll over to read the entire sentence, removing the comment from view, I still struggle to understand what she wants done. I need to see both in their entirety to understand what needs to be done.

I continue to work on Summoning Trouble. I am still hopeful I can publish it in May, especially since I have an exquisite cover for it.