Q & A: How does a 14 year old save up money to leave home?

Unfortunately, the legal system is already against you. You aren’t old enough to sign a legal contract. Which means you won’t be able to find a place to live or to hold a job until you’re either legally emancipated either by age or court order.

If you start your own business your parents will have to start a bank account for you, as well as fill out the legal paperwork. If you go into child acting or modeling, same deal.

So, without having to deal with contracts I’d default to the old standbys. Recycle. Pick up every piece of trash that has value. Babysit. If that isn’t your thing, petsit. Go door-to-door asking if your neighbors need help with anything – yardwork is just getting going at this time of year. Offer to wash cars after a storm. If you’re getting good grades or have a special skill you could tutor.

If you’re still able to talk to your parents at all, ask them to set up a bank account for you. There’s no need to tell them why. Tell them you want to learn about money management or anything else that floats your boat. If you can do that, and you’re crafty, you can try selling things on Etsy or Ebay.

I was scrolling around and found this and this. Word to the wise – proceed with caution. There’s lots of opportunities out there. There’s also lots of people trying to take advantage of someone with less experience. Check things out ahead of time if you can, make sure it’s legit. I wish you the best.

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Q & A: Who was the most ignorant American you have ever met?

CaptureMy partner teaches Cultural Diversity to college freshmen. Over the last 10 years she’s run into African American students who’d never even heard of American slavery. Other students in the same class assured her that Africans were happy to be transported (for free!) to the greatest country in the world, so they could work happily alongside all their friends. It wasn’t slavery, it was a lifestyle upgrade! (where to begin??)

Most of her students have never heard of the Japanese American internment camps of WWII, about 1/3 thought American Indians are extinct (some thought they were invented only for the movies) and nearly all of them KNOW for a fact that Arabs and Muslims mean the same thing – the two words can be used interchangeably. (where to begin??)

Let’s see. There were those who just assume that Civil War and Civil Rights are the same thing, and that slaves could escape their cruel southern masters by hopping a bus (they’d have to sit in the back of course) before joining MLK to protest – right after Rosa Parks was shot. (No, really)  My favorite student essay might be the slaves who escaped from England. Longing to see the Statue of Liberty they steamed into San Francisco Bay, after visiting Hawaii. (no really)

27_stegosaurus_tom_millerBut I didn’t meet any of these nice people.  For one I’ve actually met you have to go to the DMV.  My partner and I were waiting to get an updated ID.  What was typically a long wait was made even longer because the computers had gone down statewide.  So we waited, and waited….  Eventually the fellow sitting next to me struck up a conversation.  They had rotating trivia questions about the state posted on a screen, so he and I started a fun little competition (this is how I learned that the Stegosaurus is the state dinosaur of Colorado).

But that could only amuse for so long.  The nice fellow next to me started muttering about how inefficient the DMV was, and the government in general.  I had to agree, there’s a lot of room for improvement.  Encouraged (my bad!), he started to explain his opinion of Socialism, and why it is the basis of all evil.  Not wanting to antagonize the guy I was going to sit next to for the next few hours, I cautiously agreed that any system of government, taken to the extreme, was a bad thing.  Encouraged (my bad!), he warmed to his topic and started describing in detail all his perceived ills of “The Man”.  But the more he carried on, the more it became obvious that he had no idea what any form of socialism actually consisted of (imagine if he knew there was more than one!).  In fact, he was actually describing a pretty accurate description of Fascism.

If you’ve read my blogs for any length of time, you know by now that my partner is a college professor.  She is a much nicer person than I am, on the whole.  But she can only handle so much egregious ignorance in one sitting.  So she looked around me, smiled sweetly, and said “You realize you’re talking about fascism, right?”  The look on his face was so comical I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing.  Then, indignant as all hell, he decided to explain that she had NO idea what she was talking about.  Oh dear.  She listened for a few seconds, then nodded and said “That’s not socialism at all.  It’s Fascism.  And you’re right, it’s pretty much the definition of evil.”

By now my new friend was so indignant he was almost babbling.  I gave up trying to smooth his feathers.  Instead, I tried a different tactic.  “I’m not quite sure what Socialism is…. “, I began.  Huffing a bit, he agreed this was certainly true.  “… so I was wondering if you could explain it to me.  What is the definition of Socialism?”

I almost felt sorry for him.  On the one hand he was happy and flattered that I had handed the conversation back to him, and that I asked him to explain things.  On the other hand, there was no possible way he could define the term.  But he was mollified to the point where he admitted that he didn’t know the precise definition, even while he certainly knew what he was talking about (unlike my partner…)

“Oh, I can help there!”  I whipped out my handy cellphone and called up the definition. “so·cial·ism – noun: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. ”

“That’s how the United States creates and maintains schools.”  My partner was not being subtle.  “And roads,” I included.  “And the police,” she added.  “And firefighters, and the military, and …”

45046-anger-verses.800w.tnThe look he gave us might have frozen a campfire.  “I’ll thank you to read to yourself!”  Then, as much as it was possible seeing as how we were seated next to each other, he turned his back on the pair of us, reached into the backpack at his feet, and pulled out a Bible.  He opened it to Leviticus (of course he did!) and kept his eyes firmly fixed on the page for the rest of our time there.  Interestingly, he never turned the page, he just stared at it, as though the very act of opening the Bible rendered any other argument invalid.  I thought about sharing my favorite passage from James with him, but I decided he’d had enough for one encounter.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the dangers inherent in taking Socialism to extremes.  Any form of government can be bent and twisted into something horrible.  But this guy so clearly had no idea what he was talking about, I thought it was my civic duty to insert a few facts into his skewed worldview.  This was several years ago, before he no doubt voted for Trump with glee.  But I do wonder if he still remembers his encounter in the DMV.  I suspect not.

Edit: BTW, the first photo depicting “happy slaves” isn’t a political cartoon.  It’s actually from a children’s book published by Scholastic – “A Birthday Cake for George Washington”.  The book tells the tale of all the happy slaves who work for our nation’s first President and why they were delighted to bake for him, especially on his birthday.  Just… where to begin?

Q & A: My 16-year-old daughter came out to me as bisexual. I want her to have a traditional life with a husband and kids. What should I do?

Well…

You may wish to consider apologizing. Because “I want her to have a xxx life” doesn’t really factor into anyone’s life but your own. SHE is quite old enough to make her own decisions regarding her sexuality. Tell her you’ve thought it over, that you overreacted, and apologize. Let her know that though you’re surprised by this, you love her very much and support her. As an added touch to show that you mean it, and to illustrate how classy people behave, you may wish to invite your daughter’s girlfriend over for dinner. Get to know this person who is such an important figure in your daughter’s life.

You can do this. FWIW, it caught my parents by surprise too. But they eventually understood and supported us. Her parents do not. In fact, they refuse to acknowledge I exist. Guess where we live? A few minutes from MY parents. Her parents are 2,000 miles away and see their daughter at Christmas. That’s it. Don’t be them.

Q & A: What’s the most unprofessional thing a doctor has said to you?

006.gifOne for me, one for my mother. I arrived for my annual physical a little early to fill out any needed paperwork. While I was bent over my clipboard, my doctor’s nurse approached the woman behind the desk. She leaned over and said quietly “What’s that?” nodding in my direction. “That’s a physical” was the reply. Then they both groaned softly.

It’s common practice for patients to be objectified by their condition, especially if it’s chronic. But that was the first time I’d witnessed it, let alone experienced it. I immediately switched to a different practice.

My mother cut her hand badly enough to need stitches. I’d taken her to the nearest ER, which was a small, local offshoot of one of the area’s largest hospitals. She was eventually seen by two EMTs who happened to be there. They were clearly friends and gossiped as they stitched her up. One was complaining about how quiet mountain towns are, and how happy he was that he’d transferred to the big city. The other one, the one working on my mom, agreed. “Yeah,” he replied. “Denver’s got all the good trauma.”

simpsons_doctor.gifMy mother tensed, but didn’t say anything. I was horrified. I believe I said something like “Did you just say that?” My mother, ever the peacemaker, tried to laugh it off. The two mental giants didn’t even understand why we were upset at first. “The GOOD trauma??” I prompted. Finally it clicked. They started stammering that if you’re someone who has dedicated their life as a first responder, it’s best to go where the action is. Their talents are wasted in a quiet little mountain town. Finally they just sputtered to a stop and slunk out the door. I’m sure they thought that we, as civilians, would never “get it”. Oh no. We “got it” just fine. No matter how good you are, sweetheart, your best day is someone else’s worst day. Celebrating that day is obscene.

Q & A: What are some ugly truths of life?

Nearly everything you believe to be true is the product of carefully crafted propaganda.

If you believe the lies you’ll be a much happier member of the herd, but you’re living in a dream that can shatter at any moment. If you know the truth not only will you be set apart from the herd for life, but if you try to tell the truth to a member of the herd they’ll think you’re a liar at best, crazy at worst. Here’s one example. There are lots of others.

Q & A: What are some good occupation/job suggestions for those on the autism spectrum and others who wish to be alone as much as possible?

The best job I ever had was testing prototype cars for Roush. We had a set pattern, driving across the plains for the first 3 hours, then up into the mountains for the next 4 hours. Though we drove in a small group it was still like going on an eternal road trip. Just me, great tunes, and some of the most beautiful landscape in America. Best of all, no one was breathing down my neck. As an added bonus I drove the night shift. As a natural night owl anyway the hours were ideal and we had the roads more or less to ourselves.

The only downside was when it snowed. Mountain driving in a snowstorm is not fun, and some of the roads they had us going down were not paved, very steep, narrow, twisting and no guard rails. I have a few white hairs from nights like that. Even so, if they offered me the job again right this second I’d take it!

Roush Industries – Test Driver, Vehicle Evaluator

Q & A: What is the worst thing about life?

It’s too short.

We, as a species, are making the same mistakes over and over. When I read something written in ancient times it’s remarkably similar to today. They’re complaining about taxes and that their kids don’t understand them etc. If we lived longer (in a healthy state – not body breaks down at 50 and we live to 3,000) I’d like to think we’d be less frantic, more considerate. And I hope that as a species we’d learn a few useful lessons, including how to pass those useful lessons on to the next generation.

The Tide Pod Challenge

Have you heard of the “Tide Pod Challenge”? Apparently teens (and older who should just know better) are doing an online challenge. Take one of those melting plastic pods full of Tide laundry soap, put it in your mouth, bite down and chew.

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I didn’t get Planking, so I sure the heck don’t understand this.  Is this real? Yep. Teens are really doing this.  Did the Marines tell their troops to stop doing it? No. The memo telling them to stop eating Tide was part of a satire site. Jarheads are free to chow down at their leisure.

Now, to me this is a problem that takes care of itself. I only told you this so I could share the joy my friend in Canada sent. Because she’s a disturbed person.

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Q & A: Eugenics: Should we allow the mentally handicapped or those with high risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder breed?

Wow – interesting question! I’m really glad you asked this, because it gives me a good platform to get something off my chest.

When I was 31 I was diagnosed as Bipolar I / psychotic. As it turns out, I actually have Asperger’s Syndrome, but whatever you want to call it, it’s all kinds of bad and nothing I’d want a child to endure. Even if it’s not passed along genetically, what kind of mother would I have been? (Answer – HORRIBLE) I also have degenerative disc disease just like my father. It’s painful and it impacts nearly everything I do.

A few decades ago I made the deliberate decision that I would never have a child. I love my children so much that I will spare them from having to endure this. I love them so much I will deny myself the selfish pleasure of ever having them. It is a hard, HARD decision. I don’t regret making it, but I do regret never having a family, especially as I get older.

The reason why I like this question so much is because of the near constant social pressure the childless endure. Friends, family, doctors even strangers ask if I have children. If not why not? When I was younger it was natural to follow that up with “why not? Aren’t you planning a family?” Oh holy cow!! People with kids tend to group together. Likewise, all of my friends are childless. My family backed off when they saw the mental issues in full swing. But my friends still get it, especially from family members.

Instead of wondering if we should allow those with a genetic disorder to breed, perhaps we should ask why the hell the childless are under such enormous pressure to have kids. Common sense dictates that if a genetic disorder is present there’s no way anyone should continue that line. And yet, even knowing it’s possible, I’ve seen so many take the risk rather than face disappointing their family. They’re considered social failures if they have no children. We need new standards, and we need them now.