August 2007

Just seems sort of fitting, for me, for tonight.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone.

And the person who found my blog by searching Cookie Meditation? Sounds like a plan to me. Let me know what else you find out about it!


Ruby posted about this issue a couple days ago on her blog. I recommend you go read her post to get an idea about the issue first. She links in the original article, which is actually a series of articles about the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, published by Mother Jones, but I’ll link in each of them here. It is a lot of information, I’m asking you to make a certain time commitment in asking you to read all of this, but we’re talking about kids who are being abused with the knowledge, support, and protection (of the institution) of the authorities. First comes knowledge, then comes action. So this post is meant to be a follow-on to Ruby, who got me started.

Mother Jones articles:

The good news is that at least one Massachusetts politician is doing what he can to fight this school. The bad news is that people in Massachusetts have been trying for decades to get it shut down and have not succeeded. Maybe it is time to turn the tide. One way to do that is to convince our states to stop sending kids there.

You see, most of these kids are sent there by “the state”. JRC accepts pretty much anyone, so some kids are sent there by parents who feel like they have no other options, and that’s something we should examine. Abusive situations are their only option? That means it is society’s problem as well. It is quite often “impartial judges” who condemn the kids to this institution, however.

“Only” a quarter of the students at this school come from Massachusetts, the rest come from New York, Virginia, Washington DC, and five other states. For some reason I have had a hard time finding info on those other states. California and New Jersey used to send kids there, but New Jersey won’t send any new referrals there, and California has had some laws passed that at least limit, if not prohibit, the students they will send there.

One commenter on the articles made an excellent point: to say that the choice is between extreme doses of drugs and extreme forms of aversive therapy is a false choice. Let’s not let the people defending abuse with a claim that they have no choice cloud the issue. It is the kids who are given no choice. This is a human rights issue, have no doubt about that. That particular commenter linked in an interesting website: MindFreedom.

I’ve only looked at the site briefly, but I believe it is worth checking out.

Another point to consider – it isn’t just the judges and parents sentencing kids to places like this, it is the lack of funding for both research and the kind of facilities where the kids who have extreme self-harm behavior could be handled with something other than torture. That means it is us if we vote for tax cuts, and it is our politicians who don’t set aside funding that could help prevent abuse like this as well as help the people who have the very difficult task of caring for the extremely challenging kids.

So, what can we do about it?

Write. If you’re reading this, you probably write your own blog, or emails, or whatever. I’m asking you to take a half hour out of your day and write your legislators. Make some key points:

  • Outside of that school, anyone performing electric shock on kids would be arrested
  • International law on treatment of war prisoners does not allow the kind of aversive treatment the kids at JRC are subjected to
  • Hundreds of articles by peer-reviewed journals do not agree with Matthew Israel’s assertions on the necessity or success of aversive “treatments”

Those are a few points to start with. If you read the articles I’ve linked in, you should get additional ideas if you need them. The important thing is to write your representatives in the House and Congress and register your opinion of the JRC, as well as the unethical behavior in states sending kids out of state to receive “treatment” that is often illegal in their home states.

If you live in the states that send kids to JRC, it is especially important to get every politician who represents you aware of the issue and your opinion.

Here’s how you find their contact information: Contacting The Congress.

Please forward this information to everyone you can, and encourage people to write. It is not enough to express displeasure about this situation if you are not also expressing this sentiment to our elected officials. It starts with us.

If anyone runs across information on the other states sending kids here, I’d love to have those details as well. And if anyone has any questions, additional information, corrections, updates, whatever, please do post them.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for writing.

sebatian running

Okay, I am going to come clean with y’all….I love photography. I love taking pictures, I love looking at pictures, I love thinking about pictures.

Surprised, aren’t you? Thought so!

I recently have come across a couple photo-dedicated blogs that I’ve become positively addicted to, and they get updated frequently in addition to being fantastic, so I wanted to share them.

The first is PicsieChick, who does a picture a day on her blog, and a quote, but mostly just lets the picture stand, leaving it up to us to react to it as we will.

The second is s t r a y m a t t e r, and I’ve spent a good portion of today scrolling back in time through his picture blog. He includes little blurbs about what drew him to take or post the individual pictures, or other tidbits to put the picture in the context of his life, and I enjoy the blurbs as much as the pictures sometimes.

I think one reason I’m so fascinated with these two blogs in particular is that they each seem to focus (har har) on subjects that I haven’t done much with, don’t feel is a particular strength of mine. PicsieChick does a lot with flowers and bugs, a lot of macro stuff, and I feel like I am really learning something by seeing things through her eye. It seems all line and color and if you didn’t understand why flowers are seen as incredibly sensual things before, you will understand after seeing some of her pics. She has said that she tries to find the beauty in everyday things, and I fully support that goal!

Straymatter is fantastic at capturing people. Mostly unposed (from what I’ve seen so far), or at least not formally posed. And people are my big weakness. I have always hated having my own picture taken, so I think that somehow makes me uncomfortable taking the pictures of others. And then the actual pictures, the textures and colors, and all the rest…well, I’m impressed with his overall ability, and can’t help but wish I could spend some time with him to see his techniques, both for the picture taking as well as the post-processing!

I’m obviously drawn to animals, and I tend to try to fill up the entire frame with their face, sometimes to goofy effects. I like odd angles and perspectives, patterns of light, and I’m very drawn to reflections. Some of my best people portraits have actually been reflections. Apparently being one extra step removed makes me comfortable with people!

I learned by accident that I’m very drawn to viewing sculpture of people, and that it is the hands and feet that draw me in almost more than anything else. I know some people who are drawn to capture “moments” with their cameras, and I think those are the people who tend to be incredible at capturing candid portraits.

Even when we haven’t thought about it before, I think we’re all drawn to certain aspects visually. It could be me photo-geeking out, but I love talking about it, and hearing what others have to say about what draws them!

So, what draws you to pictures or other visual art? Either viewing or taking/making?

tempest through plant

Being 5′ short and working for a company that skimps on things like quality chairs (for people who are destined to be in front of the computer the majority of their time) and ergonomic desks, I found myself with legs falling asleep. Feet couldn’t reach the ground, chair couldn’t be adjusted to anything even hinting at ideal. Company wouldn’t purchase a foot rest for me (and wouldn’t answer emails on whether or not they would, so I took silence to mean ‘bug off”.), so I went online and purchased one for myself. Since it is for myself, paid for out of my own pocket, and since I don’t expect to grow any taller or for desks to become friendlier to people as (ahem) tall as me, I splurged a bit. I’ll use this for…years. And years. Until either I don’t need to sit at a desk or it breaks.

So. It is the kind of foot rest that made me purchase new shoes. Shoes that slip off easily, and therefore slip back on easily. Why? Because I don’t want to wear shoes while I have my feet on this foot rest. Nope. This foot rest has one of those beaded massagers built in.

Today was my first day with my new foot rest, and we bonded. Yes, indeed, we bonded.

I’m sure my podmates thought I was drinking. Or had gotten a lobotomy. I’m pretty sure I smiled a few times. I didn’t wear my shoes except to walk to the printer, the “rest” room, to get hot water for my tea, or to walk to a coworker’s desk (which I almost never need to do). So, what I’m saying, is that I was massaging my feet for about 8 hours today.

And wow. Why do we ignore our feet so much? It felt so good that on my walks to the printer or to get hot water, I could really feel my feet. I could feel how good and tingly (the good tingly) they felt, and it made me think of how abused they must normally feel, even though all I do is sit in front of my computer every day.

I’ve heard, but can’t remember details, about how many pressure points there are on our feet, and after today, I believe it.

Moral of the story: massage those feet!

iguazu calm

friendship often seems
like the petals of a flower
soft and vibrant
heartbreaking and beautiful
as they float away

rocks and sky

One of the things I dislike about myself is my constant procrastination. It makes me miserable. This is not a case of a messy person trying to fit themselves into a mold of being neat and it making them miserable.

No, this is a case of having my deadlines and obligations weigh on me, unforgettable shadows in the back of my mind, and it being a complete relief to actually do them. To be able to cross one more thing off the list I no longer keep on paper.

That list is and always was in my mind. I can’t erase it from my mind.

It seems so obvious and easy – stop procrastinating.

Why aren’t things like this easy?

goat at pps

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