Feeding Carnivores

Something I had discovered a while ago, put aside, then re-found and recently started putting into practice is the concept of providing raw, whole food for carnivores. If you think about it, it is a bit silly to take our carnivores (dogs and cats, meat eaters) and feed them carbs and vegies with a bit of meat for flavor. But the majority of kibble is just that.

A quick check (you can do an internet search) into what goes into most kibble is enough to turn most stomachs and have you looking for another way to feed your beloved pets. Add to that the fact that ALL feeding methods have some risk (a number of pets died from contaminated kibble) so kibble is not fail-safe. In fact, the AAFCO standards (which are touted as the be-all end-all way to tell if pet food is "safe" to eat) only requires that 8 dogs be fed the food for 26 weeks (about six months) and that at least 6 of them survive. I don't know about you, but a 1 in 4 chance of your dog dying over six months and no long-term testing whatsoever does NOT sound like a good standard for "safe" to me.

So, I'm not feeding my dogs kibble. I'm also not feeding them anything ground or cooked. So, what am I feeding them? At the moment, I'm going to the grocery store and buying whole chickens and chunking them into four or six pieces (of approximately a pound a piece) and feeding the dog one piece a day (making sure to include organs from the chicken whenever I can). My dogs are about 50 pounds, so one poind a day is about 2% of their weight and a good starting point for feeding raw. As they get used to the diet, I'll keep an eye on their weight and adjust as needed.

There are a lot of "concerns" mentioned when the idea is brought up to people unfamiliar with the concept. Let's tackle a few of the most common.

First is the idea that eating bones (especially chicken bones) is bad for dogs (they do eat whatever bones are in the chicken pieces they get). This is a blatant falsehood based on a truth. The truth is that COOKED bones are bad for dogs. However, dogs (and cats) are made to digest raw bones with no difficulty whatsoever.

Next, is a concern about bacteria. But if you think about it a bit more, dogs drink out of toilets, lick each other's butts, and will eat their own feces (or that of other animals). It is reasonable to assume that their digestive tract is not as sensitive to bacteria as ours is. In fact, though harmful (to humans) bacteria is sometimes found in the digestive tract or waste of a raw-fed dog, it is VERY unusual for a raw-fed dog to become sick from the bacteria and when one does become sick it is almost always an indication of a problem that has nothing to do with the raw diet.

Then there's the fact that most veterinarians seem to have a problem with the idea of feeding a dog raw food. There are two ways to approach this concern. The first is the fact that doctors are telling us we need to get away from processed, refined foods and eat more natural, raw foods while vets are telling us the opposite and feed only highly processed, refined kibble. This seems to be a bit odd, to say the least. The other approach is to realize that vets receive very little training in animal nutrition while in school and most information they do receive on the topic is provided by pet food companies (Purina, Iams, etc.). They also receive substantial profits from sale of "vet only" pet food (esp. Hill's Science Diet). There is a motive for even vets that know better to not share that information with their clients.

If you're interested in learning more about raw feeding, you may be interested in the following web sites:

General Information:
Cat Specific Information
Ferret Specific Information (yes, they're carnivores too):


Punished by Rewards

The following was lifted from Angie on the AlwaysUnschooled mailing list in regards to "potty training." I believe it is one of the most apt descriptions I've ever seen of why rewards don't work the way we'd expect them to. (For those without a handy dictionary, "intrinsic" means coming from within and "extrinsic" means coming from without.)

Distinguishing between "intrinsic motivation" and "extrinsic motivation" makes it easier to see how rewards infringe on autonomy. If a child were inner-directed (autonomously interested) in performing a certain task (e.g., eliminating in the toilet), then a reward wouldn't be necessary. The *task* (or intrinsic value in it) would be rewarding in and of itself and the fuel behind the behavior.

However, a kid's very focus on the expectation of an external reward (candy, praise, gold stars, etc.) actually *distracts* from the inherent value of the activity in question, and in many circumstances causes the kid to DE-value the activity even more. This is because the task comes to be seen as a "means to an end" rather than an "end" in itself. The activity becomes a "barrier" that stands in between the child and the reward, thus the child is 'trained' to regard that activity as an unpleasent event, only worth doing if there is an "external" reward (candy, praise, etc.) promised for doing it.

If this concept is appealing to you or you'd like to hear more about the idea (explained in detail with a wealth of empirical data from reputable social psychology journals), please get yourself a copy of "Punished By Rewards" by Alfie Kohn.

Creative Play

It's amazing to me just how creative my 2.5 year old son, Tre, can be when left to his own devices. I've seen him figure out that a Pringles chips container lid fits the smokestack of his toy train perfectly (something I wouldn't have even thought to try). I've also watched him figure out which of his magnetic letters will hold an M&M and which won't (hint: it frequently depends on the angle you hold the letter).

And as I just a moment ago glanced at him playing quietly next to me, he has an office chair lying on it's side, a fly swatter stuck into the center post between the wheels, and he's talking on the plastic swatter end, occassionaly "dialing" someone else by poking at the plastic.

Isn't it amazing what a child can think to do when not told they're not supposed to?


Modern Small Scale Treasure Hunts

I've just discovered something new that has piqued my interest. It is called letterboxing and it combines rubber stamp art with treasure hunting. You can read more about it and get clues to boxes near you at Letterboxing.org or Atlas Quest.

This activity has something for just about everyone. You can search for boxes that require long or short nature hikes or that are located in urban areas. You can get clues that are straight-forward and easy to follow or that are downright complicated and take a long time to figure out. You can go alone, with family, with pets, with friends. It can be done near home or on vacation in just about every country.

Anyway, the basics are that someone hides a rubber stamp and a logbook and distributes clues (often posted on the internet). The searcher has a rubber stamp and logbook themselves, along with an ink/stamp pad. The searcher follows the clues to the letterbox, stamps their stamp in the letterbox logbook and the letterbox stamp in their logbook. Then they rehide the letterbox for the next searcher.

Just figured I'd spread the word a little bit so others could be made aware of a wonderful activity.



So, I've got this problem that I've never been able to find a solution for. I have a job that takes all of my body (eyes, ears, hands, feet, and basic body position) but only about 10 percent of my brain. One other complicating factor is that if I get bored, I fall asleep regardless of how rested I may be.

If it took none of my brain, it would be easy. I'd let my mind wander off to wherever it wanted to go and keep at the job. If it took more of my brain, it would be fine. I'd be able to concentrate on the job and just get it done. If it took less of my body, I could find other ways to occupy my mind, such as listening to music, or watching TV, or working while on a treadmill, or petting my dog, or something.

But as it is, I alternate between trying to concentrate on my job and falling asleep and trying to distract my mind and getting too distracted and not working.

Since I get paid only for the work I get done, this isn't a horrible problem (I won't lose my job over it), but it does mean that I spend MANY more hours working than I ought to be and don't complete enough work to have the money our family needs. Also, I'm working from home, so I have a GREAT deal of flexibility in how I can do this work.

I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas that may solve my problem. The job that I'm doing is transcription, sitting at a computer operating a foot pedal, listening to the audio and typing it into either Word or Word Perfect (depending on the contract).


Jury Nullification

Have you ever heard of jury nullification? Chances are if you're not a part of the liberty movement in the United States, you haven't. However, it was the method the framers of the Constitution provided to set up the last "check and balance" to the system.

Basically, jury nullification states that even if the jury is completely convinced that the defendant is guilty of breaking the law, if they do not believe the law to be a good law, they can still find the defendant innocent.

In this manner, stupid laws that everyone knows are stupid could NOT get enforced. However, not only is this not explained to most jurists, in many jurisdictions the Judge makes it a point to say that the jurists have to merely apply the law, as the Judge has explained it, to the facts of the case as the jury finds it.

Now, any decent attorney would probably find reason to throw me off of a jury long before I became impaneled (I tend to distrust those with power -- especially police officers -- and will NOT enforce a victimless crime even with a "smoking gun"), but if I were to ever make it to a jury, it would be my duty as I see it to ensure that all members of the jury were aware of their legal power to nullify the law if they believe it to be a bad one.

Meanwhile, I do what I can to explain the concept to people if the topic happens to come up. The more of the populace aware of the idea of jury nullification, the better off we're likely to be as a country. Jury nullification alone will probably not get us where we need to go, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.


Society for Creative Anachronism

I'll likely never get into the habit of posting/writing regularly. I've had this problem with all of my past attempts to document my life. Either nothing is going on, so I have time but nothing to write about, or everything is happening rapidly giving me lots to write about, but no time.

But that all aside, I recently (in the past two months or so) re-discovered the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I had run into the group originally when I was a teen in Germany (dad was stationed there with the Army). I expressed interest. Mom, Dad, and I had one meeting with one person. After the meeting they took one look at me said, "You'll get obsessed. You can't do it." and that was that.

So, 10 years or so later, I finally started putting out feelers to my local SCA groups. I live almost exactly between two groups and I started doing things with the more active group. Everything has been off and running since then.

Okay, so maybe you don't know anything about the SCA. Let's start with the fact that it is more or less a medieval reenactment group and then work from there. It isn't TRULY reenactment. It's more of a way to explore various interests in the medieval time frame (600 to 1600) surrounded by others doing the same.

There is a wide variety of people in the SCA for a wide variety of reasons. Some are very particular about pursuing their interest in as historically accurate a way as possible. Others are merely there to socialize and make only the broadest of attempts at being historically accurate. And of course, there's everything in between these two mind sets.

If you attend major events, you are asked to make an attempt at period clothing (no blue jeans and polo shirts). But there are many local activities that are done in "street clothes" or "mundane clothes". Some people focus primarily on the combat (which is governed by many safety requirements) and others focus on garb (clothing from the period). Some focus on cooking, some on the bardic arts (poetry and singing), others on "arts and sciences" (metalworking or spinning or weaving or the like). The group allows a wide variety of interests to fall into the same basic interest (medieval life) and seems to be quite popular.

Also, you can participate in the SCA very inexpensively (if you mainly borrow or make items) or very expensively (if you buy or commission the manufacture of items). It can be time consuming (if you attend all the events of an active barony) or take virtually no time at all (if you attend only select events or participate with a fairly inactive shire).

Anyway, it's been an interesting diversion to get me, my husband, and my son hooked up in this group. We're still working on determining our level of participation and interests and such. But we're finding Marinus to be a very happy home away from home.


Weird Stuff

My father has always been a source of pride and frustration for me. He is incredibly smart, knows an amazing amount of trivia, and is pretty well informed about most everything (except pop culture). However, his people skills are and have always been somewhat lacking. The biggest area where this shows would be in the general area I term "weird stuff".

Weird stuff includes everything from crop circles and the shroud of Turin to kambucha and keifer. It's the stuff that isn't generally thought well of by mainstream America. And Dad loves it. He's constantly coming up with new theories and concepts off the internet, and he often doesn't seem to exercise much judgment before running with the idea.

Worse yet, he likes to mention these things to every visitor we have... and Mom loves to have company. So, I grew up being embarrassed by my father seeming to shove this weird stuff down the throats of everyone who walked in the door.

Recently, however, I've been following a path that's led me to find and try out some weird stuff of my own. My path doesn't follow my father's, but is still similar enough to draw the comparison. I'm now looking into "No Poo" a method of hair washing that doesn't strip the natural oils out of the hair. I've just ordered and plan to begin using a deoderant stone instead of standard deoderant. And most would probably say that my interest in unschooling, libertarianism/anarcho capitalism, and paganism would be somewhat down the weird path as well. The big difference between me and my dad (hopefully) is that though I do mention the concepts when opportunity presents, I think I'm better at listening to people when they lose interest in a topic.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting and figured I'd share.


Computer Blues

I love my computer, truly I do. It's almost a security blanket for me. It's the place where I go to relax and unwind. It's a comfort zone where I'm in control of everything. However, lately I haven't been in control at all. In fact, I'm finding it difficult to convince my computer to boot up consistently.

See, it all started when I finally did a massive upgrade of my system. I had been running an 800 MHz processor with 512M of RAM. I got a new motherboard, upgraded to 1Gig of DDR RAM, and got an AMD 3400 processor. I have kept my IDE data drive (which I use TweakUI to put most everything on), but I also got a new 80Gig SATA drive to use as my Windows/boot drive. This drive has been the bane of my existence recently.

You see, for some reason, my computer doesn't want to keep it's connection to the SATA drive. I've tried just about everything short of ditching the drive completely and getting an IDE drive. I've swapped ports on the motherboard, I've moved the drive from being Windows/boot to being just the Windows drive with a smaller (IDE) boot drive, blah. I just don't understand why my computer hates it's new drive so much!

I've checked the drive (using the manufacturer's tools) and it's physically okay, but the structure or index or some such got corrupt (I've been out of the loop as far as the technology/terminology is concerned for over five years now... an eternity in the computer world). It can't find "hal.dll" or something like that. I've reinstalled Windows XP (doing a complete scrub of the partition to ensure no lingering issues) three times so far. I've attempted to overinstall and to "repair" the Windows installation. In the end, the only way I get any function at all is to use the smaller "boot" drive (which I'd prefer not to have in the computer at all) as a "Windows/boot" drive... which means I won't have space to install all my programs/games... and my brand new SATA drive is a fairly expensive lump in the case doing absolutely nothing.

Anyone with any ideas that I haven't mentioned, feel free to comment... I may have tried things I've forgotten to post, but if so, I'll mention it in response to any suggestion comments I get. I just want my comfort zone to be all peaceful and functioning again.



I've been basically without internet connection since my last post. My main computer is dead (two reloads later, I'm definitely getting a bit frustrated) and we just finalized the move back to southern Virginia with my parents.

My parents are out in the country on 22 acres of land, a very nice spot, but dialup or satellite are the only options for internet. We tried satellite when they first got here, but discovered a "fair use policy" that we consider pretty ridiculous. It basically said that if we maintained an average connection speed of 14.4 over the course of several hours (or a higher speed over much less time) we'd get shut down until the time period (several hours) expired. With a family of four or more computer and internet users, that didn't cut it. So, we're back to dialup, which is hideously slow, but at least it's on more often than not. We're still trying to talk the cable company into running a line here or see if we can get ISDN, but for now, dialup is what we've got.

So, I've got my work computer finally up and connecting to the dialup. Maybe I can be a bit more regular about my blogging now.



I started out life raised in a Christian family. I became a Christian and didn't once question it until around age 18 when I had a long discussion with a friend of mine. That discussion led me to the "seeker" path I'm currently on.

I also was raised Republican. At some point after my questioning of Christianity started, I started questioning politics too. I found my way to Libertarian beliefs through the writings of Harry Browne. As I continued to explore my political beliefs, I have since pushed through to a position of being almost able to consider myself an Anarchist (though I have one or two issues with that position it does typify most of what I believe). I believe strongly in ZAP (zero aggression policy or non-initiation of violence). I also believe that the only crimes that should be prosecuted (and maybe not by the government even so) are crimes where there is a violation of another's rights.

From Libertarian/Anarchist beliefs, I have moved closer to Paganism, especially Wicca. They seem to fit together very comfortably with ZAP and the Wiccan rede being basically the same thing ("an it harms no one, do as you will"). Though I don't yet consider myself Wiccan or Pagan, I do feel a strong draw in that direction, and plan to form my religious rituals with those religions in mind.

Then most recently I added to the mix my concepts of parenting and schooling. I have always planned to homeschool. But I recently stumbled onto the concept of "unschooling". The best explanation of unschooling I've seen is from Wikipedia:

... individualized, child-led learning [which] is more efficient and respectful of a child's time, takes advantage of a child's interests, and allows learning and exploration in depth rather than shallow coverage of a broad range of subjects. It is not what subject matter the child learns that is important, but that the child learns how to learn and learn in depth. Given that, if later, as an adult, he finds there was some subject or nuance that he missed in his education, he will be able to acquire it on his own.

So, unschooling is facilitating the child's interest without trying to direct their path in any particular direction. This form of schooling tends to lead naturally into a form of parenting that is called alternately radical unschooling or attachment parenting. This parenting is based on respect for your children and trust that they are making the best decision they can with the information available to them, doing what they need to do. Practically it consists of doing your best not to say "no" to the child, but to (as needed) direct them to more appropriate avenues, locations, or times for their activities. It is treating the children, from birth, as full blooded people who deserve to make their own decisions about their lives. It is not neglectful parenting, as it requires a parent to be present and intimately involved in the child's life, but it can seem like it to less informed people who don't understand why you don't stop certain activities. I'm sure I'll come back to this topic later as I learn more, but it all makes sense to me.

Anyway, from religion to politics to school to parenting, I have found a path that merges and blends into one coherent world view. It is internally consistent and bears the common theme of respecting the rights of those around you and not trying to limit activities that don't violate those rights. It has taken me a long time to get to this spot, and I won't be surprised if I find more steps to the process in the future, but I wanted to share my exploration with everyone.

Another Christmas

My son, Tre, is 18 months old, and so although this was technically his second Christmas, it was the first that he was truly able to appreciate. It was an absolute joy watching him tear into packages (irregardless of who they belonged to, though we could distract him with one of his when he got the wrong ones). His joy in Christmas is something that I hope to never forget.

I'm trying to decide how we'll handle the issue of Santa next year, though. He was too young for it to be a real issue this year. I refuse to lie to him, so that's right out, but I see as options either being intentionally misleading while not lying (what I call "Aes Sedai truth"), being vague (not really answering questions or bringing up the topic), or being completely open and honest. I can see so many advantages and disadvantages to each that it's not an easy decision for me. I plan to discuss it with my husband and see what we can decide...

Just after Christmas, Tre realized that he could stick things down his shirt, and because it's snapped at the bottom, it functions as a pocket. Without any encouragement or complaint from his parents, he stuffed blocks, hot wheels sized trucks, and random other stuff down his shirt. Then he walked around patting his belly, listening to the items clunking against each other, and beaming from ear to ear.