Monday, March 31, 2008

Geek Girl Part IX: What to do if you ever have 1,500 X-Box Hard Drives

This modder wins.

Chocolate Facials



Over on The Derm Blog, Dr. Benabio talks about a new trend in spa treatments: chocolate facials! He even includes a recipe. It consists of dark cocoa, heavy cream, honey and powdered oatmeal. You should check it out.

This sounds nice but if I'm going to spread honey and cream on my body, somebody else is going to have to lick it off afterwards. It's a sin to waste food, ya' know! ;)

By the way, if you're looking for the best chocolate on the face of the earth, you simply must try
Côte D'Or brand chocolate. My brother's girlfriend first brought me some back from one of her summers abroad. If you can get this stuff, make sure you try the Chocolate with Raspberries or the Chocolate with Hazelnuts.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The ABC's of Forgiving Others (or Not)

AnnMarie Kneebone raises some really interesting issues with regards to sin and forgiveness within the Christian faith tradition in her post "Forgive and Retain". It's based on a passage in the Bible's book of John where Jesus says to his followers,

"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

The question regarding when, if ever, is it appropriate for us to retain the transgressions of others is a thought-provoking issue. Perhaps the motives, attitude, and/or comprehension level of the transgressor plays a role in how we can come to a decision in individual cases.

There are those who steal because they are starved and desperate. There are others who steal because they are covetous and impatient to have that which they could, but will not, work for. I think that it would be easier to make a case for retaining that person's transgression than it would be with regards to the person who was stealing because their body had basically gone into survival mode.

With regards to attitude, I guess we could use two cases where people who committed vehicular homicide while driving drunk as an example. Let's say that between their conviction and when they're to be sentenced, one of the murderers went out and made a serious effort to apologize to the victim's family and started speaking to student groups about the consequences of drinking and driving. The other convicted murderer does none of these things and even gets pulled over for driving drunk again. I don't think that God expects us to forgive the second murderer even if that person admits to what they've done because they still haven't even shown any proof that they are willing to turn away from doing the same thing that has already killed one innocent person.

I think the last factor I mentioned is probably the hardest to make use of. Let's say a 30 year old of average intelligence shoots and kills a random stranger and then tells the police that they did it purposely. Let's also say a ten year old child with average intelligence does the exact same thing. Should we forgive or retain the child's wrongdoing? I kind of feel like maybe we should (or, at least, could) forgive the child even if they haven't expressed any remorse because I don't believe that someone that age could really understand the full implications of their actions. With regards to the adult, well, I think it's a lot more likely that they understood just what it means to take the life of another person but chose to murder anyway. Their ability to fully comprehend what they were doing means I'm not going to be as willing to forgive them before they show remorse.

Does any of what I wrote make sense to you? It's a journey, I think. Ideally, I could forgive much more freely than I do now. It's something I need to work on, that's for sure.

We're Not Sick: Disability, Transgenderedness, and BDSM


Today I was meddling with my computer and I pieced together three symbols on my computer and made a picture that expresses my opinion about the idea that being transgendered, being a person with disabilities, or being a member of BDSM culture means that the person is somehow "sick" or "disordered". I kind of like the way it turned out so I'm posting it here. Criticism is welcomed.

Choosing Labels for Marginalized Peoples

Today I was reading something online and, in it, a particular woman of color mentioned the fact that her girlfriend often refers to butch women using male pronouns without intending to suggest that they are males. This made me think about the current transphobic wave sweeping the internets.

This is yet another example of how gender is a malleable concept. People If people feel it's perfectly acceptable to use labels that do not match the labels one is assigned at birth, then why do so many have a problem with it when someone requests to be identified contrary to their originally assigned labels?

We can use male pronouns to refer to a cisgendered woman and it's okay but if a transgendered woman requests that same treatment, suddenly they are responsible for the existence of gender binaries, misogyny, butchphobia, failed relationships, and global warming. I'm kidding with the last example but, all over this board, transgendered people have been charged with being responsible for these other societal problems.

The cisgendered/consonance/non-trans/WBW population can't even come to an agreement on how we should see ourselves or what we should call ourselves, so I don't understand why anyone would get upset by the fact that a transgendered person picks one term over the other. All of these labels are problematic and lacking in some way.

We go through the same thing in disability culture. Some want to be called "disabled people". Others prefer "handicapped". Others like "people with disabilities". Some wear terms like "gimp" or "crip" as a sort of badge of honor, a way of reclaiming words used to marginalize us.

Personally, I prefer terms like "gimp" or "crip" to be used by those who are a part of or show an understanding of disability culture. I usually call myself a "person with disabilities" when I'm communicating with those in the non-disabled world. Amongst my own (i.e. other people inside disability culture), I really like "gimp" because of its multiple meanings. Still, I don't have any problem with those outside of disability culture using one of the terms commonly accepted by other people with disabilities.

If someone wants me to use "crip", "person with disabilities", "handicapped", "male", "female", "woman", "man", "cisgendered", "transgendered","queer", "gay", "het", "straight", "lesbian", or "bi", then I think I owe it to them to do so, since I want to be referred to using those terms that I have decided describe me best.

What is Cruelty: Disability, S&M, and Transgenderedness

I think decisions about what constitutes cruelty are best left to those who are supposedly experiencing it. Someone can cut open some one's chest and dig out their organs or cut off limbs and have that person be eternally grateful to them for doing so. Someone can be tied up and gagged and beaten and have that totally fulfill their desire to get off and have them wanting to come back for more of the same. Someone could adopt a child from a lesser developed country, bring them to America, introduce them to more opportunities to receive a Western-style "formal education" than they'd probably have had in their native land and, yet, that child could resent them and hate them and plan to go back to their homeland as soon as they have the chance.

Please--for the love of all things sacred--don't project your religious, cultural, and personal opinions on others. They just don't work. They can never describe why others are motivated to feel and act the way they do. The only way you can figure out whether someone is being treated cruelly is by asking them. That's right. If you're so-oo-oo full of concern about someone being treated badly and you want to take actions that will help them, then don't be cowardly and ignorant. Talk to the person. You may find out that the stuff you see as abject cruelty has actually been a major source of happiness in their life.

Believing those people are "sick" simply makes you feel better about who you are. It isn't really concern for anyone else.

Dollar Bills Ode



An amazing performance by a poet on the Michael Baisden After Hours show.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Overheard Elsewhere II

We "vote everywhere" not so much by ballot, or by shopping, or even by blogging. For what is the "state of the country," after all? What is a "country," but a collection of communities? And what is a community, but a collection of people? And if those people (us) do nothing but vote one day of the year, shop, blog, and then leave the state of their (our) culture and society and communities in the hands of the elected officials, what have we done? What have we contributed? What have we affected? I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have an idea (one might say "vision," were s/he not worried about being misunderstood) of the world I want to live in. And I do not feel content to check a box or pull a lever or push a button and hope, somehow, that this action brings that world about.

Nor am I content to point my finger at the person sitting in the White House and blame them for all the wrongs that we visit upon ourselves in the form of our actions and non-actions.
Nezua on Symbol and Essence: The Vote Version

Or, all things considered, are y’all just trying (smirk) to be polite and using the term young in place of other, less flattering words such as dumb, blind, ignorant, inexperienced, deluded and foolish? Sure, it’s a common tactic to use “youth” as a catchall for all those other words, but as we all know…age doesn’t always equate to wise, worldly, or enlightened. In fact, age often has nothing to do with it. The amount of living and experience a person has is not always reflected by the number of years they’ve been walking around on this earth, the number of lines on their face, or the way they choose to dress and adorn themselves…or who, how, when, or why they fuck.
Renegade Evolution on Young, Dumb, and Full of Cum

But for me, there is another uncomfortable truth: my own pro-abortion-rights politics defy me. Social personhood may be distinct from biological and legal personhood, yet the zing of connection between me and my embryo felt startlingly real, and at direct odds with everything I believe about when life begins. Nor have those beliefs -- a complicated calculus of science, politics and ethics -- changed. I tell myself that this wasn't a person. It wasn't a child. At the same time, I can't deny that it was something. How can I mourn what I don't believe existed? The debate over abortion has become so polarized that exploring such contradictions feels too risky. In the political discussion, there has been no vocabulary of nuance.

Peggy Orenstein on Mourning My Miscarriage, In Japan I Find a Culture Willing to Acknowledge My Loss



Zippo20 on Frozen Chinese Garden

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crip Activism Through Art: Kevin Connolly's Rolling Exhibition

On March 19th, Kevin Connolly was featured in the Yahoo! "People of the Web" section. The background to the article is that Connolly was born without legs. His experiences with being gawked at influenced his decision to become a photographer. Connolly has traveled throughout the USA and Europe, taking pictures of those who look at him. He also describes some of the assumptions that people have made about how he came to have no legs.

It was also really awesome to see another people with disabilities getting the chance to explain what's wrong with the "inspirational story" routine. He's an artist with an unique perspective of the world and he takes gorgeous, thought-provoking pictures that can stand on their own merit. That's what makes him amazing, not the fact that he has no legs and travels the world. You can check out the feature here:

What Are You Looking At?

And you can view Connolly's website here:

The Rolling Exhibition

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why yes, I DO consider myself cisgendered. Thank you for asking!

I just want to go on record as stating that I have absolutely no problem with being referred to as cisgendered. It being the truth and all, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't use the term to define the group that I am a part of. Now, all my lovely transgendered friends and allies, if someone asks you why you use this term, feel free to say that you can show them where someone (i.e. me) has specifically said that, in reference to the privileges she possesses relative to transgendered people, she prefers to be referred to as a "cisgendered woman". Don't call me a "WBW" or a "woman born woman". Neither of the latter two labels accurately describe who I am with as much clarity as does the term "cisgendered". I wasn't born a woman. I was born human. I was born a person of color. I was born as an American. I was born a New Orleanian. I repeat: I was not born a woman. If anyone comes here and says that I was born being a woman, I fully intend to let them know that they must have been born being an asshole.

That is all.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On the Frontier of a New Kind of Cancer Survivorship

*I've received some news with regards to my cancer. This post is about that news but I have a few other thoughts so if you want to skip down towards the end, feel free but I'd really like it if you read what else I've written.*

So, you have cancer. You will be cured or you will die from it. Since the beginning of Western modern medicine, that has been the basic reality of most people who are diagnosed with some sort of malignant tumor.

Close to twenty years ago, my grandfather developed lung and throat cancer. He went through all sorts of treatments and surgeries. Eventually, they cut out lobes of his lungs and his parts of his throat. He died soon after that. Eight years ago, my mother was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (i.e. breast cancer). She had a lumpectomy to remove the tumor and then underwent radiation therapy. Five years later, she was pronounced cured.

That's it. There was almost nothing in between these two kinds of scenarios for a very long time. When I was first diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, I was told that a cure would be impossible in my case. The best they (the doctors) could do was to de-bulk my tumor and keep me out of pain for as long as they could, to the best of their ability.

I remember leaving the hospital after the oncologist sat me down and told me the news. With The German holding my hand, I managed to get to my car. As soon as I got inside and sat in the seat, I burst into tears. I sobbed and heaved and beat my fist on the dashboard.

How was I supposed to deal with dying? I was a mother. My daughter was just in elementary school. How could I explain to her that she was going to grow up without a mother? How was I going to get the strength to go through all of these treatments knowing that none of them could change the fact that this shit was going to kill me? My thoughts kept returning to all of the people I'd seen over the years as they quickly cycled through the stages of cancer and then died horribly painful deaths. Now that was going to be me.

After that initial shock, I began the process of dealing with my new reality. I decided that if I was going to have cancer, then I was going to be proud to be a person with cancer. I began to see it in the same way as I see being black, being a woman, being a mother. I joined a cancer support group and met lots of other people prognosed as incurable. I created this blog and met even more people who were living with their conditions. I had already been living with lupus and I had done some disability rights activism in college but it wasn't until the cancer came along that I really solidified my identity as a person with disabilities. I was no longer an occasional visitor into the world of the disabled living. Now, there was no escaping it, so I decided to embrace it.

That's where I've been for the past few years. Everything I witness and experience has been seen through the eyes of someone whose timetable is far different from that of my peers. How will I deal with retirement issues? I won't. That's how! Worrying about my family history of diabetes? Why should I?! Global warming? Well, at best, I can tell my daughter that she should be concerned about it but, as for me, my plan has been to enjoy these last few good years that this planet is probably going to give us humans.

However, it seems I may have to recalculate all of my ideas about the future. Earlier this week, I went and got an MRI. Yesterday, I took the trip to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center to see my oncologist so that he could tell me what he saw. The news was unexpected.

He came into the examination room and sat down with my medical records. He said that my scans came back good and my blood work looked okay as far as my cancer-related stuff shows. He said he noticed that I had been seeing him now for five years, so he went back and viewed all of my scans from the beginning. They look basically like the ones from this week. In other words, he doesn't see any change in my disease-state. At this point, he thinks that this is where things are going to stay. He can't guarantee anything because there just isn't enough data on my kind of cancer to tell what's going to happen. However, his view is that, at this point in time, I probably have a greater chance of dying in a car accident before I'd wind up dying of cancer.

My doctor, who is really a friend as much as he my care-provider, says that I need to start thinking about my options. I didn't understand at first but, he says, I need to start thinking about the future because I may well actually live long enough to have one.

So where does that leave me? To be honest, I don't know. My existence now falls outside of the two traditional prognosis paradigms. I'm still not cured but, in the oncologist's view, I am not progressing towards death from cancer. He says that he's most worried about my lupus at this point because, as I know all too well, it could also result in the same unfavorable outcome we've been expecting from my cancer (i.e. death).

What does it mean if I'm not dying from cancer but I'm not getting rid of it either? I think that everyone expected that I'd be gone by now, even the doctors. I remember one appointment with my surgical oncologist over at Tulane Cancer Center shortly before Hurricane Katrina/Rita. He had one of the medical students with him who was doing a rotation in the oncology department. He was a nice guy who had come from Germany to go to medical school in the U.S.A. We sat and discussed the differences between the European health care systems and the one we have here. The conversation was quite pleasant. He even tested me on how many words I could say in German. I failed miserably, of course.

Afterwards, the doctor started telling the student about my case and I could see his face drop as my prognosis was explained to him. The doctor tried to help the situation by saying, "Even though this is a difficult case, as you can see, Ms. (insert my name here) is dealing with it really well and always manages to keep a smile on her face through it all". I did my best to remain smiling but seeing the student's initial reaction really took the wind out of my sails.

That appointment is a prime example of how most of my doctors have tried to approach the topic with me. Each year I've been alive has been viewed as one year closer to my death from cancer. There were lots of reassuring talks when I mentioned my fears of being wracked with pain on my deathbed but nobody denied the fact that I did have to face dying from cancer.

But now I don't? Even my doctor doesn't have any answers about how to deal with this. In a way, my reality won't change at all. My body has been through a lot and I'm going to have to remain on my medications to manage the pain and neuropathy caused by the treatments I've received.

On the other hand, I have to consider what in the world I'm going to do now that I may have some reason to believe that my future may be longer than I've imagined for many years. My brother and cousin and partner are all very happy about this news but I'm having a lot of trouble processing it all in my mind. To be honest, it's quite scary. I don't understand this supposed new reality. Where does it leave me? Can anyone else help here because I don't even know who I can talk to that's in this particular situation?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sally Kern, You Fail Bigot!

Okay, today I'm only going to be able to type a few words because I had to have an MRI and the technician had trouble getting the needle (with the gadolinium contrast) into my veins so she had to stick it in my right hand after trying to insert it into the inside of my left elbow, several times.

Anyway, I just had to post this for anyone who hasn't seen it. Sally Kern needs to know that we are all listening and we won't stand for this.

Oh yeah, if you ever happen to read this, Ms. Kern, LEAVE CANCER THE EFF OUT OF THIS! I'd rather have cancer than to be associated with the sort of bigotry that you advocate.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

If You Think I Hate White People, Please Read This

You know, I can't make up my mind what I should think when I hear comments from white women online who claim that I have some dislike for white people just because they are white. Though I could easily hide it, I make it completely clear to people that I am a woman of mixed heritage with a white partner and a child who is even more multi-ethnic than I am. If I wanted to claim that white people should be hated or denigrated because they are white, then it really wouldn't make much sense for me to own up to loving and choosing to fill some of the spaces closest to my heart with people who are white nor would it be wise for me to continuously make it clear that my own genealogy includes white people. Instead of lying and covering up what would be inconvenient if I wanted to denigrate people just because they are white, I've always chosen to live honestly about my heritage.

The funny thing about this is, when I've participated in predominantly black forums (online and off), I've been castigated more times than I can count for not being willing to deny or ignore the non-black parts of my heritage. Hey, I'm caramel brown with a big afro! No stranger is going to look at me and say, "That woman must have some Irish ancestry." or "I'll bet that woman has a white partner waiting on her at home." To some people, because of my skin color and hair type, I should just call myself black and that's it. And, you know, when I post on predominantly white forums, it's easy for me to understand why so many people of color feel that way.

The world I live in is one that constantly centers whiteness. Do you know what I mean? I'm asking sincerely because it's the only way you can understand the rest of what I'm saying. In a system where whiteness is centered and the white, Western world is positioned as the normative culture, there will always be more than enough people around praising white women and men. White women and their cultural icons are in no danger of being forgotten.

I have yet to see an American school textbook that mentioned women's rights without including the names and accomplishments of at least Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. However, how many of them mention the fact that until Europeans colonized this country, women were already enjoying the rights that Stanton and Anthony fought for plus many more? Can you understand why that's problematic, at the very least?

Living in a place like this one, where those that look like you are regularly acknowledged and praised, there is a real dearth of places where the idea of decentering whiteness even gets introduced. As a woman of color raising a woman of color, I want the odds that she will be able to live in a world where whiteness is decentered to be a lot greater than they are now. That doesn't stand a chance at ever occurring unless people of color and our allies are willing to agitate for it just as the cultural icons of the white, Western world have agitated for the world that exists today.

For those whites who happen to read this, I'd like to ask you a question.

Do you really think that understanding this is the same thing as hating white people?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Ad-Free Blogging

I've decided to add the "Ad-Free blog" icon to the sidebar on My Private Casbah. I encourage everyone to explore the site it links to that explains this stance in detail. Perhaps you might want to consider whether or not it's a policy that you want to adopt on your blog too.

When I first started blogging, I signed up to participate in the Adsense program. Hey, it seemed harmless enough. Earning a few cents without having to do anything beyond adding a bit of code to my page seemed like a nice trade-off. However, I started to feel a bit uneasy about the content of the ads that showed up next to my posts.

Whenever I'd write about cancer or lupus, it triggered Google (the owner of Adsense) to place advertisements on my blog offering all sorts of miracle cures and snake-oil treatments. That pissed me off to no end because I've seen people with disabilities suffer unnecessarily after being victimized by these phony treatments. It's really disgusting!

I'm definitely not against alternative treatments. I think there is a definite place for some of them. I figure it can't hurt to try music or art therapy along with whatever you and your doctor decide to do about a medical issue you're dealing with. However, all over the internet, I've seen sites offering treatments that won't just fail to cure the condition but will, in all likelihood, make the person's condition even worse. I don't want to be a part of that. I don't want to aid those who would prey upon my sisters and brothers in that way.

The Ad-Free Blogging creator makes a good point with regards to why it's important to let people know what your stance is on this issue.
As an avid blogger for the past six years I started to receive numerous offers of money from companies to both advertise on my site and also to "mention" products as a form of endorsement in the content of my blog. Knowing this goes on it became necessary to differentiate myself from blogs that contain ads and inform my readers that they can know for sure that my endorsement of anything (whether it's a product, a book, a piece of art, an idea) comes directly from me and not influenced by any outside source/company/or corporation.
I sometimes talk about certain products that have really helped me over the years (e.g. certain prescription drugs, pro-biotics, food supplements). I oppose a lot of the corporate activity in this country, so it's really important to me that people know I'm not shilling for some corporation.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blatantly (Funny) Irreverence

I saw this on someone's profile today at ModTheSims2. It cracked me up, especially the Adam and Steve line.

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Michael Vick Revisited--Bourgeoisie Perspectives

Yesterday, The German half-kiddingly asked me, "Why don't black people care about their pets as much as white people do?" It sort of made me laugh because I know white people who grieved for years over the loss of a pet and I know black people who simply replaced their pet with a new one without much fanfare or tears in between. It's kind of a stereotype, though. He and I spend a lot of time discussing how the families we grew up in epitomized and defied racial stereotypes.

For instance, my mom has a dog named Maya. I don't know what she would do if something happened to her dog. Shortly after the storm, my parents moved into an apartment in Dallas, Texas while their new home was being constructed. One day, Maya ran off when she was outside relieving herself. My mom and step-dad searched high and low for Maya but she seemed to have disappeared. After a few weeks, it was time for my parents to move. My mother was totally devastated by the idea of having to leave without ever having found Maya. The morning of their last day at the apartment, my mom heard a scratching noise at the door. It was Maya!

Now, I know it may seem a bit irrational, but my mom really believes that Maya could sense that they were about to leave and that she simply had to return home so that she could make the move with them. In my family, we are really sentimental about our pets. I even remember the names of all the fish I had growing up.

My mom goes to (and takes Maya to) all the dog shows and she's even had the dog professionally photographed. I think that Maya goes to the groomer more than my mom goes to the hair salon! If my mom could, she'd have sentenced Michael Vick to life in prison. She's really a dog lover!

Today, Muffin (my cousin and newest roommate), said to me,
I don't understand why Michael Vick had to go to jail for what he did when white people can devote a whole season to killing animals just for the hell of it. I mean, what the hell is recreational hunting? It's killing animals just for the fun of it, isn't it? It's no different.
Her comments remind me of Daisy's post when the Vick case first emerged.

Odd Dream

Today I had a dream that was partly in Arabic. A street vendor was selling religious pamphlets and I tried to ask him whether they were Sunni or Shi'a based. He got mad about being questioned and we started arguing in Arabic until an older cleric came in and chided the vendor for fussing at me for wanting to know what the pamphlets were all about before I bought them.

In the same dream, I was scaling the side of a building that didn't have a working elevator and I found an orphaned baby just lying on the ground but someone else got to her before I could try and take her home with me. Odd, right?

Anyone care to interpret this hodge podge?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Handicapped Parking Scenario on "Primetime"

On television tonight, "Primetime" with John Quiñones featured another part of their "What Would You Do?" series. In one segment, it showed how people reacted to seeing two individuals (actors working for the show) parking in a handicapped space. When virtually no one spoke up at all, the producers upped the ante a bit by adding another actor--a woman in a wheelchair--to the scene. They created a scene where the woman in the wheelchair was asking the two illegally parked women to move because she needed the space.

I was glad to see those who did respond and tried to put pressure on the two law-breakers but it did sadden me to see how many people just witnessed it and kept going about their day without stopping. Of those who spoke up, there were three young girls (one who appeared to be black and two others who appeared to be white) who, arm in arm, approached the illegally-parked women and did their best to convince them to move.

People say that the youth of today are really apathetic to the world around them but seeing those three girls speaking up for the woman with the disability really made my heart glad. I think that we really need to start giving young people more credit in this society. One day, they might actually make this world a lot better place than the one we have now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gaming

I have been M.I.A. from my blog for about a week now and it's mainly because I've been fueling my gaming addiction. Several games that I've been anticipating were released and I've been spending a lot of time trying them out. The German got Patapon for his PSP. He's been a Sony beta tester for a few years now so he often gets to try out new games and features for the game systems before they are released to the public. Plus, they provide some pretty nice wearable schwag, too.

Electronic Arts released another bug-filled expansion pack for The Sims 2, as well. I've been playing The Sims since shortly after the first series was released by Maxis (the company that originally released the game). Ever since EA bought them out, the quality level of the game has really gone down. I'm so tired of all the bugs that come with every single expansion.

The jump bug and the invisible kicky bags rendered the game unplayable for me until I downloaded hacks created by Two Jeffs and JM Pescado (the top two modders for the Sims series. It's really sad that outsiders come up with solutions to these problems before EA is even willing to acknowledge that they exist and aren't caused by adding custom content to your game.

At this point, I prefer the items created by modders to that created by the EA folks. Right now I have over 26,000 custom content files, which far outnumbers the ones that came with the game. The content found on sites like ModTheSims2 and the Sims2 Graveyard is a lot more original and the textures are just better. Without Nengi's Factory Living collection the downtown sub-neighborhood would be totally boring. In fact, her Beach Living collection makes up at least half of the homes in my suburban sub-neighborhoods, too.

This latest EP, Sims Freetime, has a lot of neat additions. However, some of them are not very original. For instance, EA added a sewing machine to keep your sims busy. You can use it to make clothes if you gain enough skill points. The thing is, I already had a sewing machine for my game. The EA version is an obvious knock-off. The ceramic art workstation also existed long before EA decided to include a version in this expansion pack.

Still, this is one of the better packs that EA has made for The Sims 2 and I plan to spend a few more days checking out its features before I make up my mind about whether I really like it.