The Scurge of Facebook

Over the past few days I’ve had a few disturbing links sent to me via my Facebook wall regarding tasteless pages and groups on Facebook.  You know the type of thing, you’ve probably had similar ones sent to you.  Pages of jokes about dead babies, jokes about people with cancer deserving to die.  Friends have sent these links to me in outrage, wanting me to join their campaign to rid Facebook of them.  Report the pages, comment on the pages and show my disapproval.

This is where my problem begins.  I first stumbled upon the “Dead Baby Jokes” page a few days after losing our son.  It was the small hours of the morning, I couldn’t sleep, I came downstairs and logged onto the internet in the hope of finding some sort of comfort somewhere.  Instead of finding comfort, I found that page.  It infuriated me, it made me sad, it made me cry.  At the time of finding it the page was relatively new and only had a few hundred “likes”, but within days the few hundred had grown to about 30,000.  I couldn’t fathom how 30,000 people could actually like this.  Then it all became clear, to comment on the page you had to “like” it first, a clever move by the creator.  So the bulk of the 30,000 “likes” were actually people who hated it and who wanted to express their disgust.  What they didn’t grasp though was that by responding in this way they were actually highlighting and drawing more attention to the page and in turn it attracted the troll like people, the ones who wanted to come and laugh at the people who were disgusted.

The comments became more depraved and the jokes began to have pictures of dead babies appearing with them, it was sickening.  Still people came though, liked the page, then registered their anger.  I was shouting at my laptop screen , urging them not to do that.  Some of the people were posting personal stories of tragedy and being ripped apart and made a joke out of for mentioning it.

The creators of the page were two 15-year-old boys from New York, they had stupidly left their personal information, including their school on the info page!  Needless to say hundreds of people emailed their school and a few days later the boys details disappeared.  The page, however, continued to exist.  Why.  Simply because it doesn’t break any Facebook regulations.  They did have to remove some of the pictures, because they were stolen from people’s profiles, but other than that, they weren’t doing anything illegal or wrong.  The page has been reported thousands of times, but the Facebook stance hasn’t changed.  It is distasteful and yes it is sickening, but it doesn’t break the rules and if you don’t like it, don’t go there.

I can’t believe Facebook forced a breastfeeding page to remove their pictures of mothers breastfeeding or make the group private, but yet they won’t force this page to become a closed or private group.  However, as much as it galls and upsets me and believe me it does, I do understand where they are coming from.  Just because I find the content offensive and hurtful, doesn’t mean that it should be closed.  I almost can’t believe I typed that, but I did.  I reported the page and vowed never to put my nose near it again and I never have.  That was almost 4 years ago and the page is still going strong and still receiving Facebook and media attention.  I’ve read stories in magazines lately of mothers campaigning to have it removed.  People are still going there, still liking the page just so they can comment.  So now apparently the page has over 60,000 “likes”, it’s daft, honestly.  Stop liking the page, the more likes a page gets the less likely Facebook are to ever close it.

I know people get fired up and want to express their hurt and anger, but all they are doing is leaving themselves wide open to be laughed at by these page creators.  These people don’t care how upset you are, they don’t care if your baby died, in fact they will laugh in your “face” about it if you mention it in your comment.  So just don’t even go there.  Don’t attract attention to these hateful pages.

The best thing to do, is ignore it, don’t go there, don’t read it, don’t share it with friends so they can report it and don’t get involved with trying to make these page creators see the error of their ways.  You are wasting your time and you will ultimately be the one left hurt and upset.

There are cancer pages floating around too, equally disgusting and sickening.  I haven’t even opened any of the links to those.  I learnt  a bitter lesson from the baby jokes page.  I regret the night that I let my grief allow me to even open that page and read it.  I know that if I were only stumbling across it now 4 years later, I would never have opened the link, I would never have looked.  It is not that I don’t care about supporting my friends spreading the word to report these pages.  Their intentions are good and honourable, unlike the people who create these things, it’s just that it truly is pointless to get completely upset by something Facebook will not change.  Mass reporting doesn’t work for these things, because as I said earlier, although we are appalled and disgusted, no rules have been broken.

Again as sickening and infuriating as I and many others find these pages, I do also believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression.  Yes I would never actively use that liberty to hurt or harm others, but I also can’t believe in it and then want to force others to retract their speech or expression, no matter how disgustingly awful I find it to be.  The bottom line is that it isn’t racial, sexually explicit or threatening, it is just their version of sick “humour”.  So the answer for me is to ignore it and all the others like it.  I am totally aware that they exist, I just use my freedom of choice, to not read them.  I would rather live this way than live in an Orwell 1984 society, controlled by the “Thought Police”.  Because heaven knows, we are slowing creeping that way, with nanny state mentality, mass cctv and the monitoring of emails, telephone calls and forum use.

Self preservation is my new internet mantra.  If I think I really won’t like the content of something, I just don’t click anymore.  It also helps my raging blood pressure stay under control!!!

Just think before you click, if you think you won’t like the content and it will make you angry or upset, don’t click.  Happy surfing everyone, be careful where you click.

 



Thai Dipping Sauce

This is my recipe for Thai Style Dipping Sauce.  It is a much more liquid sauce, unlike the Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce.  It also isn’t red like the shop bought stuff.

It makes a fantastic marinade for meat or fish, works brilliantly in stir fry or my favourite thing to do with it, is to pour some into a bowl and just eat it by dipping crusty bread into it.

This recipe makes about 500ml and if you put it in a sealed jar it will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks – if it lasts that long, mine is usually gone in a few days.

Ingredients

500ml water
2 Red Chillies chopped – with or without seeds, depending on your love of heat
2 Green Chillies Chopped – again seeds in our out it’s up to you
100ml Mirin
50ml Rice wine vinegar
150 – 200grams Caster Sugar – how much is up to you, I prefer mine less sweet and usually only add 150grams, you can add more than 200 grams if you wish.  The traditional recipe asks for 500 grams, but I find that way too sweet.
 
The Juice and zest of a lime
1 tsp Fish Sauce – stinks, but is essential
6 Spring onions
Handful of fresh coriander
 

Method

Add your water and chopped chillies to a pan and bring to the boil

Add the sugar and turn down the heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved

Add the Mirin, Rice Wine Vinegar, Fish Sauce and Lime Juice & Zest

Let it all simmer for about 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally

Lift it off the heat and let it cool

Finely slice your Spring Onions and coriander and add them to the cooled liquid.

Stir it up and pour the liquid into a suitable jar and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use.

If you try this and like it, you will find that you make it often and use it for lots more than just dipping.  A few spoonfuls into a stir fry or used as a marinade can really bring food to life.

 

The Excess poundage!

I’ve done pretty well at shifting my pregnancy weight this time around.  I managed in 4 months to lose a little more than my pre pregnancy weight, so was really pleased with my efforts.

This time around, I found it much easier, because of course I also had a very active toddler to run around after.  However, my healthy diet and lifestyle kind of went out the window when my sister came home for her months visit.  Having not seen her for 6 years, since she moved to the other side of the world, we had a LOT of socialising, eating and drinking to do and inevitably my waistline has suffered.  I am now struggling to get it off.  Although our baby is now walking, she is teething badly and has become so very clingy.  I can barely move out of the room without her screaming the house down, so my levels of activity have gone way down and my eating has become grabbing something quick, mainly something unhealthy like crisps!

So I think I might need help this time to shift the extra weight.  Ideally I think, I’d like to lose about 10lbs.  All I need now is the right way of doing it.    I seem to have hit a plateau, I’m not gaining any more weight, but I’m, not losing any either and this is both frustrating and disheartening’

I have done some research into diet plans and I like the sound of the diet plan where meals are part of the plan. This could really work for me because the meals are ready-made and delivered to the door, so that would help with the clingy baby syndrome!

The plans consist of a consultant who will offer guidance, support and motivation.  All my meals prepared by dieticians and delivered to my door.  An activity plan with exercises.  A manual and weekly menus and the ability to track my progress.

While researching these online I came across Jenny Craig.  This seems to be exactly what I think might work for me.  They are also currently running a competition for bloggers to ask them a diet or nutritional question, via your blog that they can answer on their blog.  You can win money towards a bicycle, plus 28 days of their diet plan.  So this is an even bigger incentive for me to try.

So my questions (typical me, there’s always more than one question!) for the Jenny Craig experts would be:

I suffer from essential hypertension, a left over from my pre-eclampsia.  My blood pressure never returned to normal and I am on quite a lot of medication to deal with that.  Would it be recommended for me to take part in the Jenny Craig Plan? 

How do I get off this plateau that I seem to be stuck on, when I am limited by the type of exercise I can take?

Hopefully my answers will be positive ones and I can find a good solution to my battle with the bulge.  I want the slimmer, healthier me back again.

If you fancy joining me in losing some weight, why not pop over to the website via the competition link and enter for yourself.  You can get your question answered and maybe win a prize at the same time.  Good luck everyone.  In my best Obi Wan Kenobi voice – May the scales be with you!

The link for the competition is here Jenny Craig Blog

Dummy Wars

On another of my prowlings around various internet forums, I stumbled upon yet another mummy battle.  The battle of the  Demon Dummy/soother. I must point out that I am not anti soother at all, my eldest used one because her reflux was so bad and our baby was very sucky so I used to offer one to her, she was never interested though.  A question was asked anonymously through the forum host about what the best age to wean a baby off a soother.  As you can imagine the answers came flooding in.

They ranged from people recounting their own experiences with what they did with their children and how they weaned them off, to the righteous mothers  (not related to the Unchained Melody singing duo), condemning this little plastic device as the work of Satan and any mother who gave one to their children should be burned at the stake.

I of course got sucked into reading every single reply and once again was amazed at the responses of some of these women – women who are mothers.  After I filtered out the text speak answers – I just cannot bring myself to try to decipher these abbreviations and lazy dropping of letters willy nilly.  People had responded with things like “don’t give them one to begin with”   eeeeem, correct me if I’m wrong, but the poster was asking for advice about weaning off a soother, so it’s a little too late for that advice.

Another “helpful” respondent stated “my baby never ever had one and never sucked her thumb or used a comforter, my hugs were enough”…oh bore off, why did you even bother typing that clap trap and just how useful to the poster was that!  Who is she trying to convince that she is wonder mum, us the readers, or herself!

Loads more of these I’m bloody brilliant type of answers followed that, which then opened up a barrage of defensive posts by mothers justifying their soother use.  What for, why should you have to defend your decision about something as trivial as this.  Why and how dare other people make you feel as though you are some terrible mother, because you chose to offer your baby a form of comfort, or try to prevent them sucking their thumb.

Why in 2012 is dummy/soother a dirty word in mothers circles.  This is further emphasised by the fact that the poster felt she had to ask the question anonymously and was “afraid” to put her name to the post.

The use or non use of such a device is entirely a personal choice and I don’t think anyone should be made to feel inadequate if they resort to artificial method of comfort and soothing. The whole thing descended into chaos, if it had been in real life, I’m pretty sure there would have been hair pulling!

I thought motherhood was meant to be a joyous time in your life, a journey into the unknown with these tiny people.  Trying to help them grow into well-rounded adults.  There was nothing joyous or well-rounded about this debate and I was left amazed at how riled up some of these people got.  As well as thinking, well that’s 30mins of my life I’ll never get back!

It’s a piece of plastic, not a nuclear warhead.  Society will not fall apart because a baby has a dummy.  It may however, fall apart if we as mothers continue to constantly go to war with one another, over such niff naff.  When are we going to realise that women really are remarkable creatures, we are nurturing, thoughtful, determined, organised, we can multi task, we can bring life into the world.  We do have the ability to change the world for the better, but only as a supportive, collective force, not as screaming fish wives!

Teeny Tiny Tiaras

Today was a glorious day, so we headed for the coast.  Of course we expected the roads to be busy and the seaside towns to be even more packed and yes they were.  The big advantage we have is that we are only a short drive from the North Antrim Coast.  An absolutely stunning section of Northern Ireland, full of seaside towns and World heritage Sites like The Giants Causeway.  The Giants Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge usually feature quite high up the Fromers and lonely Planet lists of places to visit and I do thoroughly recommend them, if you ever decide to visit this wee country.  They will take your breath away.

However, I digress from the main story.  We decided to stop in one of the larger seaside towns for lunch and take the girls to the amusement rides.  Our toddler just loves riding the carousel horses.  After her 4th ride, I managed to prise her away with the promise of ice cream and a tiny lie that she could also have Candy Floss (there was no way, I was buying a 2-year-old a giant ball of spun refined sugar on a stick!)  The ice cream made her forget about it, so I didn’t have to try to wrangle my way out it!

We took some cold drinks and ice cream and went to sit on the grass and watch the lifeboat men and women practising their drill, launching the boat etc.  This section of grass also has events like radio road shows and children’s performers during the summer.  Today however, there was a children’s beauty pageant.  To be more precise a little girls Mini Miss World type contest.  Bizarrely most of the competitors seemed to be from other parts of the UK rather than Northern Ireland, which leaves me in hope that maybe we aren’t that into this phenomena on this side of the Irish Sea yet.

All I can say is wow and not in a good way wow.  Do people honestly think it’s cute to dress 4-6 year olds up in hair pieces, fake tan, false eyelashes and false nails.  It has got to be the oddest and personally for me the most freakishly disturbing thing containing children that I’ve seen for a very long time.  All these very pretty little girls, who would be just adorable as they are, made up to look like 25-year-old Miss Worlds, with spray tans ranging from David Dickinson to Robert Kilroy Silk!  They had a ball gown section, so cue the ridiculous sequined Big Fat Gypsy Wedding style dresses that these poor little tykes could barely move in, complete with high heels.  Then there was the costume section, which left me utterly speechless.  There was one child dressed as Lady Gaga in a basque and platform boots and another as Beyoncé in a leotard and high heels.  It was just wrong on so many levels.  Holy smoke, these are children, tiny bloody children.  We spend our lives going crazy about inappropriate behaviour, sexualising children, paedophiles, reporting images of mothers breast-feeding on Facebook, spitting feathers when someone posts an image of their children in the bath on Facebook and yet this seems to be ok!  Seriously, to me this is not ok, this is more disturbing than any Facebook image I’ve seen of children in the tub.

Here they all were on full public display, with heaven knows who watching them and photographing them while they gyrate about on the stage in an attempted impersonation of Beyoncé dancing to Single Ladies.  Wrong, just wrong.  The tantrums and tears as they were eliminated were very sad to watch too from such little children.

I looked over at my 2-year-old and there she was in her regular children’s shorts with a Minnie Mouse t-shirt on, ankle socks and trainers, her hair tousled from whizzing around on the carousel and beginning to curl from the sea air.  Her face covered in ice cream, her knees covered in grass stains as she lay with her nose pressed into the ground talking to a beetle and I smiled, because to me that’s exactly how she should be.  A little child without a care in the world, other than where this beetle was going and why wouldn’t he climb onto her hand.  She’s a bit of Tom Boy, yes she has some pretty dresses for Sundays and dressing up occasions, but they are little girl dresses, not some reincarnation of an Alexander McQueen.  On the whole though, she’s happiest in shorts or jeans, getting dirty, crawling around the grass, digging in the soil or sand and investigating insects and I don’t mind a bit.  Because this is her happy carefree childhood and it will be done her way.  I couldn’t help but feel today that most of those little girls were doing all this because it was their mother’s way and not theirs, because their mother wanted to dress them up as dolls and make them perform.  Ladies, if you ever feel tempted to take your daughter down this route, honestly think long and hard about it and maybe just buy yourself a doll instead and let your daughter be the gorgeous natural little girl that she is.

I don’t have a photograph of this travesty to share with you, number one because I wouldn’t photograph other people’s children without their consent and number two, I wouldn’t have wanted to photograph that show anyway.  Instead I’ll attach some nice pictures of the North Antrim Coast, they are honestly much nicer to look at than a 5-year-old version of Lady Gaga!

The Giants Causeway

Carrick a Rede ropebridge

Antrim Coast

Crimewatch!

Ok so there is a knob (apologies, but that’s my opinion of him) in a Subaru Impreza that snores up and down our road several times a night, several times a week.  He drives so fast and his car has one of those really noisy bean can exhausts that I always know it’s him without seeing the car.

Our house sits back from the road behind loads of trees, so I only ever catch a glimpse of the car if I’m outside and near our driveway, but he’s had to screech to a halt a time or two close to our drive when he’s been surprised by a slow-moving vehicle.  It’s a country road full of farms, so there are tractors and farm machinery on it a lot.  It’s also quite bendy with a few blind dips, occasionally cattle manage to get out and wander aimlessly about the road in an attempt to get back into their field.  I sit in the house sometimes and hear the noise of his car and I hold my breath waiting for the bang.  Someday, it will happen, it’s almost inevitable.

Anyway yesterday evening I went out to check the chickens feed and water, when I heard dickhead boy – again apologies readers, but he is.  The car came speeding up the road, I was muttering away to myself calling him worse names than I’ve typed here, when suddenly he stopped abruptly.  I thought he was at the bottom of our driveway, so I went to see and was almost hoping he’d pulled into our drive.  Believe it or not we used to catch the odd courting couple on a Friday night blocking the entrance to our drive!  I think sometimes because the house sits so far back that they don’t realise it is a driveway.

He had actually stopped about 2 fields up from our house, got out of his car rummaged around at the field gate, then jumped into his car and drove off tyres screeching.  He drove at speed a few hundred yards to a crossroads and then did a massive screeching hand brake turn and sped back down the road past our house and towards the town.  I didn’t think that much of it at the time, I assumed he had maybe thrown something from his car by accident and had come back to retrieve it.

An hour or so later, I heard the car again coming back up the road, once again though I heard him screech to a halt, then drive off at speed and repeat the same performance of earlier.  A couple of hours later the same thing happened, this time I opened the door and heard him get out, get back in and screech off.

The next time he appeared my hubby walked to the end of our garage, where you can just see the gate of the field above the hedge line and sure enough he was stopped in the same spot, jumped out of his car and then screech off again.  He did it once more after that and then stopped.

We have reached the conclusion that he had hidden drugs there and was coming back and forth to collect more as he sold them, but of course it was too dark to go and look and because we don’t know exactly where, we could be rooting around in the hedgerow with torches and find absolutely nothing.  By the time my hubby gets home from work these nights, it is now beginning to get dark.  I can’t leave the girls in the house on their own through the day to go and investigate and there is no way I could safely walk with them on that road.  Meandering country road it is not, we get lots of heavy milk tankers and animal feed lorries regularly through the day and they drive pretty fast.  It’s not the type of road you go wandering on with a toddler and baby.

So we are left with the dilemma of what to do about it.  There is absolutely no point in ringing the police, they will do nothing.  They have neither the time nor the resources nowadays to investigate some housewife’s speculation.  The force has changed considerably since I was a member.  Even in the bad old days of the “troubles” the police or RUC as they were called then investigated almost everything, unless they believed their lives could be in danger and it could be a hoax call to get them into the area for a terrorist attack.  We were stretched in man power beyond belief, but we attended almost every call or report that we got.  Sadly in these modern times, the new force seems to be so tied up with paperwork that finding a policeman has become a bit like the old spot the ball competitions that the newspapers ran.

So what do I do.  Nothing and just let him get on with it, I can’t do that, I abhor drugs and the damage and impact that they have on people and their families.  Do I contact my local police drug squad in the hope that they take me seriously, despite the fact that I can’t give them the car registration or a description of the driver.  Again nowadays you can’t even phone your local station, all calls go through a civilian call centre and you have to wait for the police to call you back, which more often than not doesn’t happen.  Do I and my husband try to find this stash of possibly “drugs” and put ourselves at risk – this guy could carry a firearm if he’s a drug dealer?  Just what is the right thing to do in these circumstances?  I have filled out the confidential telephone online report, but I have no experience of the usefulness of this service and whether or not it is a proactive thing to do.  So I’m left in a bit of a quandary, how do I stop someone who may or may not be peddling drugs from keeping his crap on my doorstep, from racing his car past our house at break neck speed and risking not just his life, but the life of some of my neighbours whose livelihoods involves working from field to field on that road?

So what do think is it drugs and what would you do? I may have to go in person to my local police station and attempt to speak to a drug squad officer.  I’ll let you know if I’m laughed out of the station!