Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Am Woman*, Hear Me Roar!


Stone age.


And full.

My sister and her husband are on something called "The Paleo-Diet." It goes something like this:

Our prehistoric ancestors ate meat and vegetables and nuts. Only after the advent of cultivation (c. 10,000 years ago, give or take) did they begin eating grains and dairy products. 10,000 years is not a heck of a long time in which to evolve a digestive system capable of processing grains and dairy products. Ergo, modern man should eat only very limited quantities of these things.

My mom came home from a visit to see my niece (her grand-daughter) espousing the virtues of the Paleo-Diet.

One of its benefits is the potential to eradicate skin conditions, such as eczema.

A little secret: I have eczema all over my face. And my scalp. And sometimes on the palm of my hand. It is only controlled through constant vigilance! of the type that would make our border patrol proud. Twice daily, I apply one of two creams (one is for daily use, the other is for ohdearGodit'sgettingsplotchy! use), and I also use the lovely Olay Pro blah blah blah: it's a powertool for your face.

In other words, yes, I have glowing skin, but that's only because I have to fight a daily battle with it (and avoid drinking alcohol on a daily basis, or all hell breaks loose... and take Benadryl every night to stave off the allergic reactions that trigger eczema... and only burn scented candles in my apartment when something is really funky, or the airborne odor particles make me break out... etc...).

The possibility of having glowing skin with significantly less worry and hassle is the carrot that has caused me to rid my refrigerator of yummy yummy yogurt, my pantry of macaroni and cheese, and my countertop of cereal boxes. I will trade these delights for a life of buffalo steaks, lean chicken, lots and lots of fish, and more vegetables than you can shake a stick at.

Unless that stick has a hoe or a rake attached to the end of it...

I even read a book about the nutritional wave that's sweeping my family, so once my current supply of Dr. Pepper runs out, I'll be ready to jump in head first.

Right now, I'm wading in the kiddie section.

Granted, I don't have to give up every type of dairy: supposedly, cottage cheese and hard cheeses are okay (parmigiana, manchego, etc...), so my breakfast will most likely be cottage cheese and fruit for a while. And for Level III of the diet, I'm allowed 3 "open" meals per 14-day period (open = grains and/or chocolate milkshakes... er, dairy).

I'm not quite ready to get on board with the book author's suggestion of salmon for breakfast, just yet.

I have my limits, after all, and they stop at leftover fish for breakfast.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I did not smile while using mine.

Over the weekend, I bought a 65 cm "balance ball." I used one in physical therapy to help strengthen my back and abdominal muscles, and it was pretty enjoyable. So my sainted mother bought me a ball (because, um, we couldn't find shoes I wanted), and I aired it up yesterday evening.

I used a hand-pump. That, in itself, is a fracking workout.


I arrived at my apartment, all ready to start ballin' (I'm hip!) and realized I hadn't aired it up enough. Hmmm... I had to remove the plug - needle-nosed pliers were required - and then quickly insert the pump while the enormous thing spewed rubber-smelling air in my face.

I'm sure, at this point, you're already wondering where I'm going to keep my balance ball. Surely, seeing as I'm so decor-conscious, I can't possibly imagine keeping it in view all the time, can I?

Yes. Yes, I can.

I had hoped Target would have a nice metallic gold ball to go with my brass lamps, but they didn't come through for me, this time. No, it was either Kelly Green or Cerulean.

I went with the Kelly Green, because it was latex free, and I was afraid the Cerulean would create too much optic dissonance, it being orange's complementary color, and all.


So now, my apartment living room looks like an Architectural Digest shoot from about 1978, all bright and ready to leave disco behind, but not quite ready for New Wave.

I'm listening to New Order in honor of the burgeoning music scene about to take place in my apartment.

After the ball was aired up (on the - er - third try), I got to ballin'.

I made it halfway through the DVD that accompanies the ball, before I started hurling decidedly unladylike epithets at the eerily cheerily tan exercise leader and grabbed the remote. Tempted though I was to throw the remote at the screen, I decided I didn't have the energy for it, so I hit "STOP" and dropped the remote on the floor, where I also dropped, in a gasping heap.

I gave up, after that, and made myself dinner.

It wasn't the upper body workout that was so terrible (once I figured out how to stay on the ball for the ball-assisted push ups: FLAIL!), no, what did me in was the lower body workout. My legs aren't exactly strong... at all. It was one of the main sources of focus during therapy. And they once again showed their true colors, this evening, by threatening to collapse as I vainly attempted a half-lunge while sweeping the ball from side to side.

What are my legs' true colors? Post-workout, slightly purplish and trembling in anger at what I put them through.

They inherited my intolerance for insensitive treatment.

They only refrained from screaming obscenities at me because they can't talk, I'm sure.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leave It to the Experts

I just got off the phone with my pharmacist (one of the grossly incompetent ones) because of a little snafu with my medicines.

Earlier this week, I went to pick up a couple of prescriptions from the pharmacy, and was told that my insurance company was requesting information from my neurologist/best friend in regards to a (wildly expensive) migraine medicine she prescribed.

In the past three years, I've tried everything: Relpax (no effect, and also expensive), Midrin (cheap, worked like a charm, but no longer manufactured), Imitrex (made the migraines worse), Maxalt (worked for a month... then stopped), Migranal (worked for a week back in November, then stopped). These are just the medicines I've tried for acute migraines; they don't include the ones I take every day to help prevent migraines.

The pharmacist never called me back about what happened with the faxed forms, etc., so I had to call her.

My insurance company refuses to cover the medication prescribed (Cambia) because it's too expensive. They suggested Celebrex.

Celebrex reacts with two other medications I'm on, and could kill me. I get your logic, Cigna: You're tired of paying for me, so you plan to just off me via medication interactions.

Until I can get in to see my neurologist, I'm stuck paying $180 for my prescription, at $20 per dose.

What strikes me as somewhat absurd is that the insurance company will have to pay for two doctors' visits (at an expense for them of roughly $150 per visit). They're only going to be covering me for another month, or so. Which means my having to go to the doctor for a prescription refill will cost them more money than just filling the damned prescription.

I'm more than just slightly miffed. I'm furious. I'm so angry, I'm chewing gum to keep myself from clenching my jaw (if you know me, you know that I never chew gum).

It's only slightly working.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I Really Stuck My Foot In It, This Time...


You might recall that renovations are underway in my apartment complex. This has led to jackhammer-caused headaches and attacks of vertigo.

Today, it led to me crying and saying curse words.

The contractors applied a goopy grey mastic over the flashing between the building's walls and the plywood subfloor, preparatory to pouring cement (tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.).

I only noticed the mastic - which blends in nicely with the water-impervious membrane on top of the plywood decking - after it left a grey smudge on my apartment's parquet flooring.


Nowhere was it posted that the mastic was wet, and it isn't exactly noticeable, as I mentioned.

Unfortunately, I didn't notice the spot of mastic on my parquet until I had the mastic-bearing foot firmly planted on my Persian Rug...

There is now a 3"x3" swath of shoe-shaped mastic on my rug. And, in the process of yelling, and crying, and freaking out - because the rug is very meaningful to me - I tracked three more spots of mastic on the parquet.

I don't give a hoot about the parquet.

There is no way, that I can see, to remove the mastic from the carpet, unless I managed to very carefully shave/cut off the top 1/8" (where the most mastic is located). I already tried a carpet cleaner on it, to no avail.

I have also, I should mention, washed my hands three times, and done two meals' worth of dishes by hand, and I can still smell the mastic on my fingertips.

I am not a happy camper.

And by the way, if you do a Google image search of "unhappy camper," you get a bunch of screaming babies, sulky teenagers, and this guy:

He doesn't look to unhappy. Seriously, with a mustache like that, how could he NOT be happy?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not Off to a Good Start

How was your first day (back) at work, Ms. Strainedconsciousness?

So sweet of you to ask! It was...


See, the thing is, my alarm didn't go off this morning. And I didn't fall asleep until about 3 a.m. because, despite the sleepless night Saturday, I had insomnia (again).

So I was 2 hours and 15 minutes late to my first day of work.

Yeah, so that's where the "crap" comes in.

I called the office, left them a message, ran into the bathroom while screaming obscenities (I probably sounded like a rhinoceros running around), and was dressed - in make-up! - in 20 minutes flat.

I didn't take a lunch break, so I ended up working about 7 hours, and everything was okay. The employers weren't upset, so that's all good.

But it was still embarrassing.

And now I'm trying to navigate the murky waters of health insurance for people who have pre-existing conditions.

It's not fun.

In order to apply to the State of Texas' Health Insurance Pool, I have to have at least one insurance company refuse to insure me. So I just spent the past two hours applying for health insurance for one company that will undoubtedly thumb their nose at me while blowing a raspberry.

They try to trip you up by asking questions about varying health conditions twice, so I just threw everything in there that I could think of that they could ever possibly want to know about, so if they found something out after I was diagnosed, they can't cancel it because I withheld information (a common ploy of individual plan insurers).

So that bronchitis I had in 2001? Yup, it's on there.

The sinusitis from 2001? Yup, it's on there.

Whoever looks at my application will know more about my digestive system, my neurological functions, and my emotional state of health than they could ever need to know.

And then I had to pay $164 "in case" I'm accepted to their plan (it's refunded if/when I'm rejected with a slap to the face).

But it doesn't matter, because they'll refuse to cover me.

Because I'm "uninsurable."

Neat how the people who need insurance the most can't get it, isn't it?

And before anyone starts railing against the tax-payer funded health pool I'm going to apply to after my rejection: It's not tax-payer funded.

The people who pay the insurance premiums (which are high) foot the bill for the health plan, along with the insurance providers, who are required to pay a tax to the state government. And no, it isn't part of "Obamacare," it's been in place for several years.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Up All Night

Apparently, "Up All Night" is the name of a song by the singularly-named Drake, which doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Cher, or Madonna, or... um... Donovan.

You've probably never heard of Donovan, because he's old school. Sigh...

I've been up all night because my circadian rhythms are decidedly arrhythmic, and I couldn't go to sleep. Fortunately, I had a bit of creative writing to do, so that kept me company. Now, I just have to stay awake until about 9:00 pm tonight so I'll be able to get a good rest in before I start work tomorrow.


Tomorrow I will be employed again.

Kind of trips me out, to tell you the truth. I've spent almost 11 months out of the last 3 years in some unemployed state or another, and that's not counting the two months of unpaid leave I took for medical reasons.

And here I was all worried about feeling poor when I go to grad school. Pshaw. I've got this whole ohmyGodI'mpoormom&dadcanIhavesomemoney? thing down pat.

But Ms. StrainedConsciousness, you protest, about what were you writing?

Look at you with your correct sentence structure! No ending sentences with a preposition for you! I'm so proud!

But I digress.

I am writing about, um, fellas.

What sort of fellas? you respectfully inquire.

Um, ones I've dated. And some I haven't. But mostly ones I have.

(around the globe, my ex-boyfriends feel a chill wind on their neck and a sudden feeling of inexplicable panic, and they wonder why).

It all started with a creative writing assignment. I wrote about a middle-aged man (who I did not date) that I met at a restaurant, and we happened to be going to the same movie. We'd had a nice conversation apres dinner, so we sat together at the movie.

We saw Lost in Translation, which was kind of prophetic, because afterward, when he gave me his business card, I couldn't figure out if his interest was platonic, or if he had other intentions.

The creative writing assignment only had one dictate: Evoke a mood of your choosing.

I evoked extreme discomfort and uncertainty, and according to my classmates, I hit the nail on the head.

The story got me thinking about other fellas I could write about. (stupid end-of-sentence preposition) Just recently, I had a spate of creativity, and I've been hard at it for the past few weeks.

Each story involves at least one man who's left some sort of imprint on my life - ex-boyfriends, that guy I had to file a sexual harassment complaint against, etc... - and a few of the stories have multiple guys in them, either because one led to another, or because my experiences with them coincided or had an effect on how I viewed the other/s.

My mom thinks I should try to have them published, and I've thought about it. But then, do I really want my family and all my friends to know everything about my various relationships through the years?

That remains to be decided...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Get Laid Off

I have some news that is absolutely faboosh!

Starting this coming Monday, I have a multi-week contract job! With the guys who laid me off back in 2008.


I'll be paid hourly, but that's A-OK, because, as a contractor, I can charge more per hour than I would make on salary, seeing as I have to take into account insurance premiums, parking, and all the other perks salaried employees get that this little contractor won't receive.

As always, this leaves me with a teeny tiny dilemma: clothes.

For the past 18 months, I've been able to wear jeans to work every day, because I couldn't always count on staying in the office all day. Sometimes I had to get myself out to the construction site, and a girl can't do that (successfully or safely) in a pencil skirt and heels.

So I bought a few things, today, to help me get in the mindset for the office: two pairs of shoes, both of which go with clothes I already have; a new fun cardigan (will also go with things I already have); and a new pair of trouser jeans. They will be taken to the tailor tomorrow so I can get them hemmed properly.

In other news: I applied a few months ago to graduate programs in architecture. I've received a couple of rejections, which didn't surprise me, because I didn't feel too great about my portfolio this time around.

I did receive an acceptance letter from the University of Houston, however, along with a scholarship! It's not a full ride, or near a full ride, but every little bit helps, right? Also, it's the program one of my favorite professors at UTA recommended most highly to me, so I feel better knowing that it's respected by other architecture academics.

Houston, here I come!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unemployment and Being Airborn

My landlady is renovating the apartment complex in which I live. On Wednesday before last, everyone in my building received nice little notifications that contractors would begin Monday, March 6, on renovations.

The walkways that link all of the apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floors would be redone, the note said, and added that all those residents on the 2nd and 3rd floors would be required to vacate our apartments for 24 hours at the end of renovations. Residents would be given a $100 rent credit to make up for the cost of finding someplace else to stay.

Okay. No problemo.

And then, Monday, I awoke with a migraine. I've been having them more often, of late, because of the stress of unemployment, so the migraine was no surprise. The fact that there was no weather change accompanying the migraine was a surprise.

What caused the migraine?

Jackhammers. Loud ones. Starting at 9 a.m.

They ran all day, and so I spent the majority of the day in bed with a pillow clamped firmly over my ears.

The jackhammering finally stopped on Tuesday. Wednesday, I noticed that the walkways outside some of the apartments on the 2nd floor were completely missing. Haha! I thought. That would suck if someone needed to leave or come home!

Karma, baby. Karma.

Friday, I had physical therapy at 9:30, and left to return to my little home at 11:00 a.m.

If I could fly, I could have gotten up to my apartment without a problem. But I can't fly. And there was no walkway outside my apartment.


A very nice construction worker saw my look of consternation and asked if I needed to get into my apartment. When I said that, yes, in fact, I did need to get into my apartment, he cheerfully brought a piece of 4'x8' plywood for me to walk across (the structure that supports the walkway was in place, just not the actual walkway itself).


Except... um... that piece of plywood stopped about 1'6" away from my door.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm afraid of heights? Because, I am. Terrified. Of heights.

The construction worker stood on one end to weigh it down, and another construction worker stood at the other, and I turned deathly pale and walked to the edge of the plywood to reach across to my door.

I have no doubt they thought I was an enormous wuss. It's okay. I am a wuss.

I'm not ashamed (lie).

As I was closing the door to my apartment and saying a little silent prayer that my apartment wouldn't catch on fire and leave me trapped with no method of egress, the construction worker asked me when I was going to need to get out.

"I'll be here all day," I replied.
Oof. No way was I going through that whole tightrope/plywood walking act again.


In other news, someone sent me a message on the Texas Workforce Commission's website. They want me to come work for them in Houston.

For $12,000 less than I made before the recession.

But on the upside, I'd be a bureaucrat (working for their building code enforcement department), and it would be fun to be able to say, "What do I do for a living? I manufacture red tape. Hmmm? Yes, I'm a bureaucrat."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Copy Pasta

I have won the "Versatile Blogger Award" thanks to "To Gyre and Gambol" at According to the rules, I have to regift this award to seven others, and I need to say seven things about myself.

I was having trouble deciding what to write about for my next blog post. The construction work that has me stranded in my apartment without a way to leave? My continuing (fruitless) job hunt?

Then, my cousin Thom gifted me with the Versatile Blogger Award, and now I have a purpose, for the day. Apart from teaching myself a new architecture program, that is.

Seven things about myself:

1. My friends say I live under a rock. I don't pay too much attention to celebrity drama, mostly because I don't know who a lot of the celebrities are. I don't watch TV, and only watch DVDs sporadically.

2. I'm a cancer survivor. I had leukemia as a teenager, and it's impacted my life in many ways. Not only did the chemotherapy leave a legacy of other health problems down the road, but it gave me a new perspective on life and how I was living it.

3. My diet is somehow regulated by the apartment I live in. In this apartment, my diet is mostly Mediterranean, with lots of hummus, cheese, and whole wheat pita bread. At my last apartment, I ate tilapia and asparagus at least twice each week. In my first apartment, it was noodles with a little butter and lemon-pepper (I couldn't cook much at that time).

4. I wear my hair short, and have for most of the time since I underwent chemotherapy. At first, it was simply a matter of style, but I've developed hypersensitive skin as I've aged, and now I can't blowdry my hair because it's physically painful. Cool, huh?

5. I have a 13-year-old black labrador retriever named Major Tom Shadowmaker. He lives with my parents, and I visit him on weekends and dog-sit when my folks are out of town. He's the coolest black lab ever. And a little neurotic.

6. My biggest weakness is book hoarding. The three custom bookshelves in my apartment are stacked two books deep with texts of all shapes, sizes and subjects, and there are growing piles of books beneath one of my end tables. It's a problem.

7. I have midget feet. According to a chart of average shoe size vs. height, I should wear at least a size 8.5 in women's shoes. I'm a 6.5, though, which makes for difficulty with physical balance. I stumble a lot.

I have no idea to whom I will award the Versatile Blogger Award, so I'm not going to post them today. I'll have to think on it for a bit, and I'll get back to you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Missed a Milestone

My last blogpost, Drowning, was my 300th post. It's kind of hard to believe that I've posted 300 times.

The last time I reached a multiple of 150, I turned it into a blog-book using some online software. I have a hardcopy of it, now, so even if the apocalypse comes and wipes out the interwebz, I'll still have my blog on paper, the only truly archival format in existence.

Now I have to decide if I'll do the same thing with these last 150 posts, beginning with #151.

I'm also about to reach another milestone: my 10-year high school reunion.

My mom asked me recently if I planned on going, and I said "No." Those people with whom I've wanted to stay in touch, I've done so, at least through Facebook, and others through face-to-face contact. I didn't really have much of a high school experience, interrupted as it was by the trauma of cancer, chemotherapy treatment, and the toll that took on me physically and psychologically.

I started thinking about high school, and if there was anyone I'd want to see or to talk to that I haven't since 2001, and I came up with an answer: just one person.

I confess, I Googled him, and I found out some pretty wonderful things. He was a really great person - a good friend who I let down, in a way - and a couple of times over the years, I've had the urge to seek him out, to talk to him again, just to find out what he's doing.

Now, I know how to do that, but I can't quite make myself do it. Would it be creepy? Would it be too "stalker-ish?" I can't decide.

Just one more thing I'll have to wrestle with. Because I really need another.

Sunday, March 6, 2011




Yes, that's an S.O.S. signal typed up there. Why? Because I'm drowning, caught in a whirlpool that is We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen.

It's okay, though, because I'm enjoying the tidal wave that's crashing over...

Enough with the cheesy metaphor. I can't keep that up any longer.

It's a fantastic book.

We, the Drowned was translated from the original Danish, and it's a mesmerizing read. It details the life and times of the seaside village of Marstal, where every young man grows up to be a sailor. The main character is Albert Madsen, whose father disappeared in an Australian port, never to be heard from again.

Or so you think.

The story follows Albert through his elementary school days, to his first experience as a cabin boy, and on to his first experience on an American merchant ship, run by a murderous first mate.

He grows old, unmarried, and without children, and foretells the Great War through the dreams that terrorize him every night.

Okay, so that last sentence doesn't make me want to read it, but that's neither here nor there.

This is a seriously wonderful book.

The critics have been raving, too, so I'm not the only lunatic on board (pun intended). They've compared it to The Old Man and the Sea, Moby-Dick, and The Odyssey, among others. They're wrong, though, because We, the Drowned is a million times more entertaining and - I'm going to use this word again - compelling.

I overuse "compelling" when reviewing books. I know. It's like parentheses and dash marks. I'm not ashamed (Hint: I am).

Unlike the other books cited by reviewers, this one doesn't get lost in the jargon of ships: you don't need to know what a jib-sail is, or a mizzenmast, or what have you. The foc's'le is talked about a lot (that's forecastle to you and me), and the galley, but that's about it. If you know what the stern is, you're ready to go. There aren't four pages of ship descriptions, followed by the sailors talking about the glories of coffee, and then six more pages of ship descriptions (You hear me Moby-Dick? Yeah, Starbuck, that's you I'm talking about!).

There are plenty of interesting events, like the first one mentioned in the book: Laurids Madsen (Albert's dad) is caught on a ship that explodes. He is blown into the air, and when he reaches the height of the main mast, he sees Saint Peter... who promptly moons him, thus signifying to Laurids that his time is not up on this earth, and he sends him back down to the deck, where he lands unharmed on his feet.

Saint Peter moons somebody, guys! You have to read it, just for that!

If you have $28 to fork over (I don't, but that's neither here nor there), then I suggest buying it. You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cyrus the Virus

My computer now has a name: Cyrus. Why? Simply because it rhymes with "virus."

My computer went kaput on Monday after presenting me with the Blue Screen of Death 6 times in one hour. Despite my hurling vicious epithets at it, it refused to reboot properly.

I didn't know what to do, where to turn, how to proceed. So I went to the Geek Squad.

I plunked down $200 for a full-on diagnostic analysis and repair, and received a call Wednesday afternoon telling me that my computer had a pretty nasty virus, and they just needed my go-ahead to wipe the hard-drive and reinstall all the firmware for my computer. I gave said go-ahead, and looked forward to receiving a fancy functioning computer.

I picked it up three hours later, and only just fired 'im up on Thursday afternoon.

Imagine my dismay when not all of the drivers and utilities were installed!

I paid $200 to have the thing diagnosed and then completely fixed, and they failed to do just that. Granted, there's no virus, and it seems happy enough in its incomplete state.

I was prepared to install all the lovely, lovely programs I daily use on my own (Office, SiteBuilder, etc.). But having to go back into the system to install the driver for my touchpad? That's a bit thick, really.

Most likely, I will spend the rest of the evening installing programs (Adobe Creative Suite should be fun... and protracted); doing laundry; and needlepointing.

Don't let the excitement overwhelm you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Surrounded by Chilluns

Friday evening and Saturday morning, I did a good deed, and I got paid for it.

I judged a National Forensic League Debate Tournament for high school students. I originally did it because I was promised $20 per round, which would have worked out to be about $160 for 10 hours of work if the rounds had stuck to schedule.

That's a big "IF."

I ended up only judging 5 rounds - I'd judged too many of the teams in the finals to be able to continue - and ended up earning only about $8 per hour - 12 hours for $100.

The reason for the enormous delays was that some of the judges (most of them about 19 years old) did not show up for their rounds in a timely manner, then proceeded to keep their rounds running later, took forever to turn in their judgments, etc...

So the tournament, on Friday evening, ended 2 hours late. I got home at midnight, and then could not fall asleep. I managed to scrounge 30 minutes of sleep before I got up, got dressed, and headed back to Plano East Senior High School to finish judging the two-day tournament.

Friday evening, I had the great fortune to meet another young woman - a year older than myself - who was judging the tournament. She was supposed to judge on Saturday, too, for which I was grateful, because I was the oldest judge under the age of 45.

She didn't show up on Saturday. I was left, all alone, in a sea of 19 year olds who mistook my youthful appearance as an indicator that I was their age.

I have never been hit on by so many 19 year olds in my life. Not even when I was 19.

Typical snippet of conversation:

Boy 1: "So, are y'all in school?"
Boy 2: "Yup. I'm at TCC."
Me: "No, I graduated a while back."
Boy 1: "Oh? When did you graduate?"
Me: "2006."
Boy 2: (doing math in his head) "When was the last time you debated, then?"
Me: "About 14 years ago."
Boy 1: (doing math in his head... this means I'm somewhere between 28 and 32 years old) "Huh. Wow. What are you doing after this?"
Me: (LYING) "Going to a bar. I need a drink after all this." (I went home and went to sleep, with migraine medicine instead of booze.)

End of discussion, as neither of the conversants were old enough to legally buy alcohol in the State of Texas.

I hadn't judged a debate tournament in several years, and it was kind of fun to do so again. It was, however, also slightly overwhelming, as I listened to 5 debates, all on the same subject, and all performed at a rapid-fire pace. By the end of each debate, I found that my heart was pounding, as if I was the one debating, and not the students.

The subject of the debate was, "North Korea poses a more serious threat to U.S. National Security than Iran." It was a doozy.

Most of the arguments for or against were the same: North Korea is desperate and has nothing to lose in attacking the U.S. and its allies; Iran is supplying weapons to terrorist organizations; Iran will attack Israel, and we'll have to step in to defend Israel, etc...

There was one argument for Iran being the more serious threat that stood out above all others, however.

Bear in mind, the debates are supposed to be founded on inarguable fact: Iran is supplying weapons to terrorists; North Korea has conducted two underground tests of nuclear weapons, etc. That's why the argument I'm about to share caught me off guard (as it did the other team).

This team of boys argued that, because Iran was once part of ancient Persia, and the Bible says that the apocalypse will begin in Persia, Iran is the more serious threat when compared to North Korea.

Not at all what I expected.

They lost the debate, of course, because they could not prove the four things required to justify their argument, nor did they even try. They were somewhat miffed when I gave my judgment and explained to them why they lost:

Within the course of the debate, they must:
1) Prove that God exists.
2) Prove that the correct deist text to follow, in light of the fact that God exists, is the Bible, as opposed to the Talmud, or the Koran, or the Baghavad Ghita, etc.
3) Prove that the entirety of the Bible is literal, and not metaphorical.
4) Prove that Iran is the most serious threat out of the other nations that were once part of Persia (Syria, Lebanon, etc.).

I pointed out to them that they had no way of knowing what kind of judge they would have, and if they were faced with a Muslim judge, or a Buddhist judge, or an atheist judge, or a devoutly Christian judge who holds parts of the Bible as metaphors, then their presented arguments were for nil because they had failed to prove all these things.

I pointed out to them that they could spend the rest of their lives debating the above-listed 4 points, and that they had only 36 minutes in which to prove their argument, so their approach was not particularly practical.

Needless to say, the opposing team spent the critique period trying desperately to stifle giggles. I'm lucky I had years of acting experience, myself, as it was difficult in the extreme to keep a straight face.

But I had to give them credit for gutsiness.