For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Keeping up, and catching up

Well, it's certainly been an unusually busy time for us lately!

Aside from preparing for Easter, Eldest, who has finished her online writing course, is now in the middle of a philosophy workshop.  A local fellow home schooling mom brought in a rather interesting fellow to do this for us - her own dad, who just happens to be one of those genius renaissance scientists who's gone through several fascinating careers (including one at NASA), so this is a pretty cool opportunty.  He's only out for a short time, so they've crammed his days full with different workshops aimed at different age groups.  The guy's gonna be worn right out before he gets to go home! *L*

I'm certainly thankful for our van right now!  There's no way we could have taken advantage of this at all if we didn't have transportation of our own.  The location doesn't have any bus service.  Still, I'm glad Youngest didn't have a lesson with her voice coach during Spring Break.  Otherwise, we would have had to drag Eldest along, then go straight from one to the other.  With the workshops already being 3 hours long, that would have been one heck of a long day for her.

Meanwhile, we've got all our usual running around, plus a few extra runs that come with a major holiday on the way.  We're now ready to start colouring eggs - I plan to try doing drapanki this year - and need to bake bread.  Besides that, we've got everything we need for this year's basket.  I even got a new basket.  Aside from the old one being full of yarn right now, I found it a bit too deep.  Between the depth and the sloped sides, it made it hard to keep things from falling on top of each other.  This basket is actually smaller in square inches, but the bottom is larger than the old one, so things can be spread out nicely, I think.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out.

With Eldest taking part in various things, it felt like we were doing lots for her, but other than the voice coaching, not much for Youngest.  In asking her what her interests might be, she brought up wanting to do something more physical, like martial arts.  Dh has been teaching them off and on, but he wasn't been able to maintain it.  We aren't able to do formal lessons right now, but I can at least show her the basics of karate I learned in my youth.  Today was the first day we started on that, and it was only a quick session in between trips.  Just some stretches and exercises, along with the basic blocks.  Once she's got the blocks down, I'll move on to punches, then kicks.  I'm appreciating the opportunity myself, not only to get my own skills back up at least somewhat (some things, I am physically unable to do anymore), but to fill in for the walking I haven't been able to do in the last couple of weeks.  We haven't even been making our library trips lately, other than to quickly drop off what's due and pick up holds.  Or should I say, the girls do that while I try to find someplace to pull over, because people are parked in the passanger loading zone, which is supposed to be for people who are quickly dropping off/picking up books. :-/

A bit of a brag moment.  Our family was featured in the latest newsletter for an hs group we're a member of.  There's even a photo of the girls.  The editor had sent a question out to the group for some feedback from people who've been hs'ing for quite a while, and my answer ended being the basis for a whole email interview.  It was fun. :-)

A moment to share a brag for a fellow hs'ing mom and friend of mine, too. :-D Youngest and I just got back from seeing a movie this evening (in the second run theatre) with a whole bunch of other hs'ing folks in support of one of the teens, who is an actor.  He was in the movie, sharing a scene with a couple of the main characters.  Not a big part, but any part with lines, never mind a conversation, is good for the career.  Especially when the scene is shared with a rather big name in the acting world.  It was pretty cool to see him on the big screen.  When his scene was done, everyone cheered for him.  Then at the end, we all hung around until we saw his name in the credits and cheered him on again. :-D  I'm quite happy for his success, and look forward to seing how his career progresses.  It does make it hard to get together with his mom, though, since she's flying all over Canada and the US with him for auditions and parts.  One of these days, we'll finally get together for a cuppa! *L*

All the running around with activities is kinda fun, but I have to say, I just don't know how some families manage to keep up schedules even busier than this, all the time.  I know a few families with their kids involved in teams, clubs, and classes all over the place, and they're always on the go.  I guess it's worth it, but I really appreciate the much slower pace we maintain most of the time.  Having one or two regular things, sure, but when it gets into 4 or 5 things going on at once, it would drive me over the edge. *L* I really don't understand how families with kids in school manage it without everyone burning out completely.  Then again, maybe they are burning out.  I'm certainly reading enough articles about stressed out children and families. 

Things will get back to normal for us after Easter.  This school year is going to be a short one for us.  We'll be getting our facilitator visit at the end of April, and once the paperwork is finished, we're officially done for the year.  Not that that changes much in our routine. *L*  It would be a good time for Eldest to start looking for a summer job.  She's been wanting to for a while, but Dh isn't too happy with the idea of her working during "school" hours, of working more than a few hours a week.  That sort of kills off her chances of getting anything that's out there for someone just entering the work field.

She and I, however, will be collaborating on a project together.  Somehow or other, I'd ended up telling her about a book I'd started to write shortly after Youngest was born.  She's encouraged me to dig out the old manuscript (which was among the boxes we brought back from storage in MB last fall).  I'll be working on the text portion and she's going to be my illustrator.  Which is going to be extra cool, since she and her sister are in the book, so she'll be illustrating herself as a 2-3 yr old, and her sister as a baby. :-D  When things quiet down, I'm going to have to set aside regular time segments to work on it, as part of the book will require a fair amount of research.  I mostly need to get my a$$ in gear, and prevent distractions from dragging me away.

Speaking of distractions, I've discovered the new layout options on blogger.  I think I'm going to go play around with this blog's layout for a while. :-D

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dilemma update

Well, after my last post, I figured it'd be a good idea to follow up about the meeting I wrote about.  It's come and gone and...

...nothing was accomplished.  The issue was deferred, with status quo emphasized.  Which means the same people will post their links to scare stories and pet causes, and no one's allowed to point out if their topic is BS.  Discussions still aren't allowed.  People aren't supposed to post comments about the links but, of course, comments that agree with them are still being allowed.

Nothing has changed.

The main reason nothing has changed is that not enough people were at the meeting for any decisions to be made.  There never will be enough people, however, since there's no way even half the members of the list are going to show up for the meetings - even if there were room for that many people in the facilities used.

There are those that insist that this should only be discussed in person at the meetings - that face to face is more "civil."  Well, it may be more "civil," but it certainly isn't more open.  There was a new person to the group who tried to speak out.  I admired her courage.  Her voice was tremulous, and her hands were actually shaking.  In person discussions, especially when you've got new people around folks who've been part of the group for many years, can be very intimidating.  Even with topics that aren't contentious, many would be too uncomfortable to speak out - assuming they were giving the opportunity to in the first place.

One thing I did see at the meeting was the most amazing display of passive aggressive manipulation I've encountered in years.  It was truly impressive.  I doubt the people doing it realized what they were doing, but as my husband pointed out, they're far too intelligent not to.  I prefer to think that it was subconscious.  There are definite problems with having such a hot topic discussed only face to face.  It allows dominant personalities to take over the conversation, while the more timid folk never get a chance to speak at all. 

Not exactly a supportive atmosphere for new members who'd really like to talk about things.  The Old Guard just won't let them in.

I keep telling myself I should just quit, but I've got too many people resting their hopes on me speaking out, since I'm not intimidated by the Old Guard, and don't really care what they think of me.

I just wish I thought it would make a difference.  This group has such potential, with so many diverse and interesting people among its members.

Friday, March 05, 2010


I haven't been posting quite so much in this blog lately - at least compared to my other blog, which sees quite a bit more activity on my part.  I find myself having some difficulties posting about our home school related activities, and there have been a number of reasons for that.  This is part of it, and I ask any readers I might have to be patient with the following vent.

I have a dilemma.

When we first moved to our current city, I joined in with a local home schooler's support group.  I found out about them through their e-group.  One of the beauties of online communications is that it really makes things easier for a family like ours, that moves as often as we have.  It has allowed us to step into local communities we've never physically been part of, yet have known members of for a while; sometimes for years.  

In the now 4 years we've been here, our local circle has expanded to now include 2 local support groups and 2 local e-groups.  One of these e-groups is not affiliated with any external group.  The only connections are that we all home school, and that we live in the area.  The list is open to any conversation, plus people use it to organize get-togethers in real life as well.  It's not a very busy list, and it's generally amiable.  Very rarely to feelings get hurt or conversations get heated.

The other e-group I'm on is used as a communication tool for a support group.  This is a formal group with membership fees, an elected board, lending library and more.  There are regular get-togethers and events throughout the year.

This is the list my dilemma is centered on.

It's not meant to be a conversational list.  The group itself is supposed to be open to all local home schooling families.  It's neither secular nor religious, is not affiliated with any particular school board, etc.  While topics on the email list are generally supposed to be group related, people are allowed to send information to the list that they think others might be interested in.  Sometimes, these lead to conversation and feedback, sometimes not.

When we first joined the group, there were very few things off list that we could participate in.  At first, it was due to transportation issues.  Not having a vehicle of our own, it took a great deal of time - and timing - to get to things by bus.  So I really didn't know much about the group outside of what I saw on the list, and in the one regular event we did take part in; park days.  A fair number of people in the group never went to park days, so I never encountered them outside the email list.

If you at all follow my other blog, you might have noticed that my interests are rather eclectic, and I've been doing a lot of research on various things.  More recently, that research has centered on the topic of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).  This, in turn, has lead me to other areas that may be unrelated in subject, but related as examples of the amazing amount of junk science we're being inundated with.  Because I have been spending so much time researching these things, and find them of great interest, I will talk about them with other people when the subject comes up.  I don't tend to bring the subject up myself, though.  Especially on email groups.  But if someone sends information to an email list that I happen to have researched, I will take part in any discussion.  Especially if information being sent is something I've discovered to be incorrect.  I don't accept things at face value anymore and will spend some time looking things up if I haven't already been researching it.  If I feel I don't know enough about a topic brought up, I don't respond.

Now, I know full well that things are easily misinterpreted when you're dealing with text only.  People often write things and fire them off without editing first, or really thinking through how they've phrased something.  Having seen flame wars inadvertently started by such things, I'm generally very careful with my responses and go over them thoroughly before hitting the send button.  I've made such mistakes before and don't want to repeat them.  If possible, I'll get family members to read what I've written, not just to email groups, but blog posts as well, to get fresh pair of eyes.  This is my way of fighting back the Typo Demon and Grammar Goblin, too.  

I'm also extremely conscious about not making disagreement personal.  If information is sent that I know to be wrong, it's very important to me that I don't come across as attacking the person, just disagreeing with the information.  Now, I might attack the source of their information, but if I do, I try to explain why I find that source unreliable.  

Most of the time, on other lists, this can lead to interesting discussions.  I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and value the thought out opinions of those who disagree with me.  

What I have discovered on this particular egroup is that, unless you are an AGW believer, hater of all things man made, fearer of chemicals, and unquestioning acceptor of the scare de jour, you're not welcome to say anything on this list.

I've also discovered that I am a lightning rod, and that while my countering of topics, no matter how careful I am to ensure I am only questioning the information, not attacking the person who passed it on, my posts are not acceptable.  The list moderator will come on board and remind people that such discussions are not to be had on the list, and to take them off list.  People on the group who agree with the original topic, however, are perfectly welcome to comment - make personal attacks on me on list, without moderator wrist-slapping (even if it's immediately after the moderator called to have things taken off list).  It got to the point where anytime I wrote something, the moderator would jump on it, even though others had already commented.  I suppose it would be no surprise for me to mention that the moderator happens to agree with the information - or even sends some in herself - that I've found myself responding to in a contrary fashion.  (I have, by the way, tried to take things off list, but the personal attacks just get worse when the writers know their words aren't being read by the group.)

Normally, when such blatant bias is shown on an email list, there would be no reason for me to stay.  If this group is meant to be for a bunch of people who all think the same way, and they all want to pat each other on the back over how enlightened they are for their beliefs, so be it.  But that's not what this group is supposed to be.

There are two reasons I haven't just left the group.  One is, I'm a member of the Real Life support group this list is for.  I still haven't been taking advantage of the resources, though.  When we got a vehicle, I was thinking of starting to go to the monthly meetings and get more involved.  Then I discovered that someone who equated me with holocaust deniers and racists because I disagreed with AGW was on the board.  Several other people who attacked me personally on list, and were allowed to by the moderator, would be at these meetings.  So even though the current president is someone I know personally and has even defended me on list (she may or may not agree with me an any particular topic; that is irrelevant), I still found myself hesitating to take part in group activities because all these other people would be at the meetings.  I didn't think I'd be welcome (and, it turns out, I was right).

The other reason is that, every time I've spoken out on the list, I have received private emails from people thanking me for doing so.  It turns out there is a significant number of members that never post to the list because they are afraid to speak out.  More so when they see how personal attacks on me are allowed, and dissenting opinion in general is not.  I was cleaning up my inbox recently and found a bunch of emails, from both attackers and supporters, that I thought I'd deleted.  The number of people who support me far outnumber those who have attacked me.

What it comes down to is that there is a small group of vocal people in this group that is allowed to speak out on certain topics because they hold an accepted point of view - and they take full advantage of that - while those who would disagree with those points of view have no voice.  I've been called brave for daring to speak out.  Brave.  How wrong is that?  It seems this is something that has been going on since the group started, which is at least 20 years ago.  Wow.

It's become obvious to me that this vocal group doesn't want me on the list at all, that they've complained at least to the moderator about me, if not the board as well, and that they've tried to have me removed from the list.  I am not wanted on the list, and I've even had it confirmed that I'm not wanted in the support group, by this vocal segment of the membership.  As a paid member of the support group, I can't just be kicked off.  To be honest, I'm surprised my check for the membership fee was even cashed.  

Things came to a head again recently, and it was over Jamie Oliver, of all things.  A video link had been sent, which I didn't look at right away, so I didn't comment.  I used to like Jamie Oliver, but not anymore.  It's probably a good thing I didn't watch it until later, as you can read about on my other blog.  No, that wasn't what tipped things over.  What happened was, someone else had made a comment about a specific thing in the video, and I responded to that person, and it was not favorable to Jamie Oliver.  The moderator immediately sent her wrist-slapping message.  Oh... and I should probably mention that the original link, which I never did respond to, was sent by the moderator?  The person I did respond to defended me, saying she didn't think my post was questionable or breaking the rules.  I should probably mention that the person who defended me is the current group president. 

Yeah.  Thinks came to a head.

So now there's going to be a meeting about the role of the egroup and so on.  I'm being privately encouraged to go by a number of people.  My husband has even said he'll come along, which is a huge deal for him.  His health hasn't been the best lately, and he's constantly exhausted.  It's going to sap a lot of energy out of him to go along.


I'm torn by the whole thing.

I don't want to be a shit disturber on the list.  If I did, I'd be sending my own links to the group.  At the same time, I don't feel comfortable seeing bull shit passed on to the list unchallenged.  A couple more posts like that came through today, and I'm chafing like you wouldn't believe, stopping myself from responding.  I swear, critical thinking isn't allowed on the list or something.  I can't stand it when people blissfully accept whatever piece of BS is out there, so long as it confirms their preconceived dogma.  I try to be patient - after all, not many people have the time or interest in doing the research I do - but some of this stuff is actually quite harmful.  One of today's was an article link about yet another chemical scare.  I started reading it with Eldest and, within the first paragraph, she was already stunned into jaw-dropping disbelief that anyone would take it seriously.  The other post?  It was promoting a book that is so bad, the Financial Post named their junk science award after it, and the author is the first person they presented it to.

Were this just another egroup, I would have left long ago.  It is, however, part of a Real Life support group, and there are some really wonderful people in this group (the moderator is actually one of them - I may disagree with her on things, but I actually like her a lot and think highly of her.  I don't think the feeling is mutual anymore).  

I also remember all those emails I've received over the years from people thanking me for speaking out.  No one else does, though the president has tentatively stuck her toe in the water.  Me?  I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years, and have lived through too much crap to be bothered by what other people think of me.  If my being attacked on the list means I'm shielding other people, I can live with that.  

I just don't know what's going to happen in this upcoming meeting.  I feel like I should be girding myself for war or something. 

How sad is that?