Monday, July 6, 2015

You! Out of the gene pool, NOW!

Ever heard of Darwin Awards?  When I was in grad school, Bill subscribed me to a Darwin Awards mailing list.  Every week, I'd get an email about people who had effectively taken themselves out of the gene pool because they died doing something incredibly stupid.  I would get a weekly chuckle from these stories of accidents stemming from idiocy.  I probably shouldn't have laughed so hard, since I'm sure the folks being profiled thought whatever they were doing was a good idea at the time.

At some point, I stopped getting the Darwin Awards emails.  I don't know if the listserv went defunct or I somehow got unsubscribed.  But it was like people quit paying so much attention to stupid human tricks and the Darwin Awards soon faded from my memory.
Recently, I have read a couple of news stories about people who are prime candidates for Darwin Awards.  The first story was about a 22 year old guy who died on July 4th.  Devin Staples of Calais, Maine thought he would be a bad mothafucka and try a stupid human trick with fireworks.  It is said that Mr. Staples was drinking with friends when he decided to put a fireworks mortar tube on his head.  It is not clear if the mortar tube was lit before or after Mr. Staples placed it on his noggin, but when the thing blew up, Mr. Staples died instantly.  

I'm not sure if Devin Staples had a death wish or was just wanting to try to show off for his friends, fueled by booze and bravado.  Unfortunately, he blew himself into the next life.  Alcohol and fireworks do not make for a healthy combination, folks.  And while I think it's very sad that this young man died so early in his lifetime, I also think that had he survived this stunt, life might not have been so good for him... certainly not for the immediate future.  I would think recovering from the trauma and burns resulting from an exploding firework would be a lifelong endeavor.

The second story I read involves a 28 year old man who refused to heed warnings about alligators lurking in a marina in Orange, Texas.  Tommie Woodward apparently could read the signs that warned against swimming in the water due to the presence of large reptiles with big teeth and appetites for humans.

Mr. Woodward had a female companion with him and he was likely trying to show off for her when he ignored pleas from people working in the marina not to jump in the water.  His last words were "Fuck that alligator!" before he became a meal.

When he jumped in, an eleven foot alligator appeared from under the dock and as quick as a flash, Woodward was dragged under the water.  He was found a couple of hours later, floating in the water with major trauma to his left arm and puncture wounds to his left chest.  The attack is said to have been the first fatal alligator encounter in Texas in two centuries.  Still, unlike Mr. Staples, Mr. Woodward was explicitly warned and decided to dive in anyway.  Now, he and Mr. Staples are somewhere in the great beyond, probably telling fish stories to other hapless souls who took themselves out of the gene pool before they could pass on their stupidity to later generations.

Just think, Alexis... someday, you could be taking care of people like them.

This was as close as I dared to get when we saw alligators in Hilton Head, South Carolina.  They can move fast!

What an idiot!  At least this one didn't get killed.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My brief online flirtation with a male German submissive.

Bear with me, folks...  As Bill and I were walking around in Nagold today, I was suddenly reminded of a time about fifteen years ago.  I was in grad school and spending too much time online.  I had no sex life and few friends.  I had gotten my first computer and was in my sexual prime...

I was hanging out in chat rooms and writing short stories affiliated with a certain kinky Web site that is now defunct.  In fact, I met Bill in the chat room, though very few people were actually openly chatting about sex there.  Indeed, it seemed to be a gathering of smart but lonely people online who happened to have kinky proclivities and vivid imaginations.  Although I no longer frequent such places in cyberspace, those people probably helped me get through three years of grad school.  Some of them became like friends.

One guy I happened to meet in that chatroom was a German guy from Cologne.  He went by the name "howard", worked in IT, and was probably one of the... well... sissiest men I have ever "met".  Of course, I am only assuming that howard was a man.  I never saw pictures of him or spoke to him on the phone or anything.  I will just assume that he was a typical German man in every way, except for his extreme desire to be dominated by a woman.  He told me he had chosen the name "howard" because he had seen the movie Howard the Duck and loved it.  I, too, have seen that movie and even saw it in the theater when it was first released.  It's not something that would inspire me or even something I would brag about seeing.  Indeed, it was my dad who took me to see that movie and he said he thought it was stupid.  That was one of the few times we agreed on something.

"howard's" namesake...

For some reason, howard took a shine to me.  I tolerated him for awhile and was probably far too nice to him for too long.  He used to pester me all the time because he'd read my fiction and thought I was a Dominatrix.  I wasn't, of course.  Actually, if I were to say I was much more than a voyeur on kinky Web sites, I would say that my proclivities ran closer to submission.  However, I am really not a very submissive person, so while I would on occasion attract Dominant men, they would eventually tire of me refusing to call them Sir or Master and then move on to the next person.

It was a blessing when Bill and I met because we were pretty much in the same boat.  We were both a trifle kinky, a little lonely, and very curious, though certainly not kinky enough to live the lifestyle.  We were also both way too vanilla to engage in some of the stuff that went on in the chat room.  At the time, he was recovering from his split from his ex wife and leaving Mormonism and I was a virgin trying to go to grad school.  It was an interesting social outlet and a place for me to be creative and have people read and comment on my work.  And again, many of the people were nice, intelligent, and seemed surprisingly normal most of the time.

Anyway, howard used to send me private messages and try to get me to dominate him.  He would "top from the bottom", as they say.  Basically, he'd try to tell me what to do while also trying to be submissive.  And since I am not into dominating people, his ploys never worked.  He'd get frustrated and try to order me around and I'd laugh at him, which seemed to turn him on.  But then I wouldn't do what he really wanted me to do, which was verbally debase him and order him to do things.

One time, howard got very upset with me because I wouldn't give him what he wanted.  He contacted one of the owners of the kinky Web site, who happened to be an aging porn star.  She sent me a private message in an attempt to try to get me to be "nicer" to howard because he was so upset about my not indulging his submissive fantasies.  I didn't actually like or respect the porn star much; I had seen her be abusive to too many people.  I preferred her husband, at least at first, but he also turned out to be shitty.  Not that I was surprised about that... I was a little disappointed, though, the way I always am when someone's charm turns out to be fabricated.

For some reason, today as we were passing the freibad, I thought of howard and wondered if he would remember me.  I wondered what he would think if he knew I was living in his country now.  He really was a very kinky guy, though to me he was more annoying than scary.  It would be interesting to get to know him and find out more about his background.  I would love to know about his upbringing and whether or not that contributed to his desperate need to be dominated.

The chatroom and the accompanying Web site went away not long after Bill and I got married.  I think it was because it got harder to make porn in the USA, even though the site owners took pains to comply with all the rules.  Any stories had to feature characters over age 18, could not involve illegal drugs, and certain kink was off limits.  Aside from that, the free part of the site mostly consisted of user contributed stories written by amateur writers like me.  Some of the stuff posted there was surprisingly good.  If you know where to look, you can even find some of it still posted online.  If you wanted to pay, you could see the harder stuff, including films starring the bitchy aging porn star.  I wasn't in to that.  I just wanted to write my own stuff, read some of the better stuff, and chat with Bill and some of the other people I "met" there.

I do credit that site for bringing Bill and me together.  People were happy when we tied the knot.  We weren't the only ones who did, though I have a feeling our marriage has been of the more successful formed there.  I made one friend, another guy who was kind of like Bill and me, and he even sent us a wedding gift.  I lost touch with him, which makes me sad, because he was genuinely a nice person, intelligent, fun to talk to, and just as lonely and clueless as Bill and I (and a lot of other people) were.  I am no longer in touch with anyone I "knew" from those days.  I wonder how a few of them are.

Bill doesn't like me to write about this topic, so I will close here... Suffice to say, because of my experiences, I can't say that porn is always a bad or destructive thing.  I also can't say that I'd want to meet howard for coffee or beer.  But, for all I know, I could have passed him near the cathedral when we visited Cologne back in 2012.

Yet another lame fourth...

Last year, I spent the fourth of July eating ribs, drinking beer, and watching a Duggar marathon.  That's because a year ago today, Bill and I got on a plane to Virginia to say goodbye to my dad.  I didn't even see any fireworks because it rained in Texas on July 4th last year.

This year, we are in Germany.  I didn't go to the military posts, so I didn't see any fireworks.  It's hot as hell here right now and until yesterday, we didn't have an air conditioner.  We ended up buying one at a local hardware store that is like Home Depot, only it has a cafe.  I'm using it to cool down my "office", which is by far the hottest room in the house.  The air conditioner makes a big difference, even if it was expensive and is a bit of a pain to set up.

Bill cooked barbecued chicken, baked potatoes, asparagus, and minted cucumbers (which weren't actually cooked).  He also made minted lemonade, but we haven't gotten around to drinking that yet.

I have spent the last two days dealing with paresthesia.  I woke up with it on Friday and it's been bugging me all weekend.  Fortunately, it's not too severe right now and is really more of an annoyance than anything else.  Guess it's time to see a doctor... wish I were more interested and enthused about going to one.

Arran has to have surgery on July 7th, which is Bill's birthday.  He has a small growth about a half an inch over his left eye.  I noticed it in late April and it's been slowly getting bigger.  I guess I am encouraged that there's only one, it's within the skin, and it's symmetrical.  Still, it worries me, and July has not historically been a good month when it comes to my dogs and their veterinary issues.  So if you can spare some good vibes for Arran, I would appreciate it.  He's a good boy.

Bill just came in here and startled me.  He has a knack for doing that.

I'm in kind of a crappy mood right now, so I think I'll go have some coffee.    

Saturday, July 4, 2015

More thoughts on Amber Roof's decision to crowdfund her ruined wedding and honeymoon...

Last night, a local military spouse and veteran got into it with me on Facebook over negative comments expressed about Amber Roof.  She reminded us that Amber Roof was not guilty of murdering the nine people in South Carolina.  It was her brother, Dylann, who killed those people on June 17th.  Amber Roof cancelled her wedding, which was set for June 21st, because she was concerned about security and felt that, in light of the tragedy, it would have been a bad idea to get married that day.  This person on my friends list explained that she has a sister who gets in trouble and she wouldn't want to be judged by her sister's actions.  She made a comment about how it's not okay to "hate" Amber for what Dylann did.  And she apparently felt very strongly about her opinions.

First off, I don't *hate* Amber Roof.  I'd have to know Amber or be directly negatively affected by her actions to hate her.  I will admit, my first reactions to the news that she tried to crowdfund her wedding and honeymoon was of shock and distaste.  I initially called her a "shithead", because my initial reaction to what she did was very negative.  I did think about it and considered the position she was in... and my initial vehemently bad impressions softened a bit.  I eventually got to the point at which I just thought she made a stupid decision that wasn't well considered.

It's now July 4th.  Dylann Roof committed his crime on June 17th.  So a mere 17 days have passed and Roof is now about two weeks past when she was supposed to marry.  The wounds left by Dylann Roof are still very raw.  We still have everyone from politicians to corporate executives scrambling to change policies regarding a certain battle flag because Dylan Roof glorified it before he went on his murderous spree.  Hang out on Twitter, Facebook, CNN, or any other site where people are talking and you'll see people aren't done talking about Dylann Roof, the Confederate flag, South Carolina, or racism.

Yet here's Amber, sister of the killer, complaining about her ruined wedding.  Most of the country seems to think we have bigger fish to fry over this incident than a ruined wedding.  Her fundraising campaign, which may have only been intended for family members and close friends, makes her family look even worse than it did after Dylann Roof's racially charged massacre.

Amber Roof magnanimously offers 10% of the proceeds of her fundraiser to the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston.  To many people, that seemed like very little money under the circumstances.  Roof's goal was $5000 and 10 percent of that is $500.  While $500 is certainly not nothing, it seems a bit like an afterthought, as if she's offering it only so she doesn't look like a jerk.

Personally, I think if Amber had held a fundraiser for the victims with 100% of the proceeds going to the church, she would have been much more successful.  We know she wanted donations, so she could have had a friend mention to the press that Roof's wedding was ruined.  Word would have gotten out and then my guess is that Roof would have gotten some goodwill donations to defray some of her expenses.

My Facebook friend who called me out over this... obviously not someone who has ever taken courses in how to fundraise... claims that this idea is "deceitful and manipulative".  I say it's no more deceitful and manipulative than offering a 10 percent donation to the church.  My plan may not have worked, but I guarantee that if Roof had raised money for the victims and someone else had started a crowdfund for Amber Roof, she would have looked much less like a self-centered asshole and a lot fewer people would be hating on her right now.  It's my guess that the church would have gotten more than $500 in donations and Roof probably would have ended up with more than the $1600 she managed to raise before she cancelled her campaign.  I call that a win/win, not a deceitful and manipulative ploy.

My Facebook friend also mentioned that $5000 is not that much money for a wedding and a honeymoon.  I agree.  But many people don't have $5000 for things they really need.  I wonder how many of the victims had $5000 lying around for their funeral expenses?  What about the people who depended on the victims... children, elderly parents, even friends, who no longer have them around to help them?  No, $5000 isn't a lot for a wedding or a honeymoon or both, but it is still a lot of money for most people.  Weddings get cancelled all the time for any number of reasons.  It's always sad to lose money, especially when it was spent on what was intended to be a celebration.  Still, a person can get married for the price of the marriage license.  The wedding and honeymoon are not the point of a marriage anyway.

Say Amber didn't like my idea and didn't want to donate more than 10% to the church or try to raise funds for them.  Had Amber waited a year or so for her campaign, there would have likely still been harsh judgment, but I think it would have been much less of a big deal than it is right now.  Most people will have moved on to the next topic du jour and the Roof family may have even become an afterthought.  Think about it.  Who's arguing about Adam Lanza right now?  I haven't seen a post about him in many months.  It will probably be the same for Dylan Roof in a year or so.  Right now, asking for money to pay for your nuptials in the wake of your brother's shooting spree just looks callous and selfish.  And setting up your own crowdfund for your missed wedding looks much tackier than getting someone else to do it.

I am willing to concede, though, that Amber Roof does not appear to be the brightest, savviest, or most insightful person in the planet.  And I can also recognize that the past weeks have likely been very stressful and expensive for her.  First, she was planning her wedding, which is a very stressful endeavor.  Then, her brother goes on a shooting spree and kills nine innocent people in a church.  Who would be thinking straight in that situation?  Given the state of mind she could have been in, I might be persuaded to cut her a break for making an unwise decision to try to crowdfund her wedding and honeymoon.  Had she given people more time to recover from the shock and the news coverage, I think more people would have reacted with empathy rather than outrage.

Ultimately, I think Amber Roof reacted in a way typical of a young, inexperienced person who was not looking at the grand scheme of things.  I can certainly forgive that.  On the other hand, this experience may serve as a good warning to others or just a life lesson to Amber Roof.  The public is fickle and tends to be judgmental.  It makes sense to proceed with caution and lots of forethought before you ask the public for money.  It may also make sense to purchase wedding insurance when you plan your big day.  It may seem like a waste of money if things go off without a hitch, but if something disastrous happens, at least you won't be out as much money and tempted to try a stunt like this.

Friday, July 3, 2015

What not to do when your wedding is cancelled by your murderous brother...

Poor Amber Roof.  She was supposed to marry her fiance Michael Tyo on June 21, 2015.  They had a nice wedding planned and lots of money had gone into the making of their big day.  Unfortunately, Amber's brother, Dylann Roof, had other plans.  On June 17, 2015, Dylan Roof went to Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and allegedly killed nine people in a racially charged massacre.  Dylann Roof now sits in jail while his sister is left dealing with the aftermath of her ruined wedding.  What's a girl to do?

I know!  Make a GoFundMe page!  And Amber did... It was up for five days and actually got about $1600 in donations before she took the page down because she was being inundated with nasty comments.  No one even cared that Amber offered to donate 10% of the proceeds to the church her brother shot up.

Now... lest anyone think I have no empathy for Amber Roof's plight, let me assure you that I know how much weddings can cost.  I planned one myself.  There's a lot that goes into it.  And people take off work, buy gifts, and travel so they can attend someone's nuptials.  I totally get that.

At the same time, putting up a GoFundMe page to recoup the cost of your wedding ruined by your murderer brother and asking for help to pay for a honeymoon seems to be the height of tackiness.  I mean, I get that she was looking forward to her wedding and all, but didn't she have a clue that putting up a public page like that would backfire?

Perhaps she didn't.  Though the page has now been taken down, many news sites have included the text of her proposal and she doesn't appear to be the most educated person on the planet.  It seems to be a better course of action would be to ask people who actually know the couple to contribute if they want to... but then, many of those people had probably already contributed in the form of wedding gifts or donations.  

My initial reaction to this story was disgust.  After thinking about it for awhile, I am less disgusted and appalled and more flabbergasted at this woman's nerve... and complete lack of situational awareness.  For weeks, thanks to Dylann Roof, the country has been embroiled in controversy over the Confederate flag over Roof's white supremacist ideals.  Nine people were killed leaving behind countless friends and family who are in mourning.  Even the Dukes of Hazzard was affected by Roof's actions.  And all Amber Roof can think about is her damn wedding and honeymoon?

Maybe this would have been just slightly more appropriate had she waited a few months for the furore to die down.  As it is, asking for money so soon after her brother's crimes is the ultimate in bad taste and stupidity.  And it's definitely not going to help her marriage get off to a good start.

Go ahead punk, make my day!

An early 80s hit for T.G. Sheppard...

I never did see the movie that made that line so famous.  Clint Eastwood was quite the shit back in the 80s, though, and he was in a lot of movies, most of which I never saw.  I just remembered the song and the way it glamorized Dirty Harry.

Marge thinks Ed Rooney sounds like Dirty Harry...

Dirty Harry asks the criminal if he feels lucky...

And this one too...  

Now I feel like raiding Netflix and watching Dirty Harry movies.  And I might do that if it weren't so damn hot outside.  We have no air conditioning, so that makes my "office" very hot and uncomfortable.  Add in the fact that I slammed my foot into a pet gate and fucked up one of my toes and you have one rather uncomfortable knothead on your hands.

Bill has the day off today and he bought a new grill.  I think he plans to cook meat on it this weekend, though it's supposed to be 97 degrees tomorrow.  I asked him last night if he preferred many weeks of heat but with air conditioning or two or three weeks of heat with no AC.  He prefers the shorter sojourn in hell with no relief.

Later, I may rant about something.  For now, I'm watching my toe change colors as I broil in the sun.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Paid commercial presentations...

Whatever happened to infomercials?  I probably shouldn't ask...  It's obvious why we don't see so many half hour commercials anymore.  Who wants to watch an infomercial when they could be watching some reality show on TLC?

Yesterday, I was watching old episodes of Family Ties when I suddenly remembered that Meredith Baxter was in an informercial back in the early 90s.  She was peddling makeup for a makeup artist named Victoria Jackson.  At the time, the comedienne Victoria Jackson was very popular, so I always had some trouble keeping them straight.

So 90s!!!

Meredith Baxter sports a short haircut and pitches makeup with Ali McGraw and Lisa Hartman Black.  I gotta say, Victoria Jackson looks like she's had a lot of work done.  

Cher also got in on the action...

Remember Susan Powter?  I do. Back in the early 90s, she used to wail "Stop the insanity!"  Susan Powter was once fat after her husband ran out of her and her kids, but lost the weight.  Susan Powter still has a web presence, but it looks like she's kind of faded into obscurity.  Looks like no one has updated her site in awhile.

Susan Powter's infomercial.  I have to admit, she's pretty funny.

Oh... here's a good one...  Richard Simmons is the king of informercials!  In the 80s, he pitched his diet plan, Deal-A-Meal.

I used to enjoy his talk show.

A few years later, he came out with Sweatin' To The Oldies.  

I heard this was a good program.

But perhaps the most notorious informercial probably came from singer Dionne Warwick, who used to pitch the Psychic Friends Network.  

Of course, this was bullshit... but it must have made a lot of money.

It actually depresses me a bit to see so many talented singers and actors getting involved in hawking crappy products on late night TV.  I'm glad infomercials have gone out of style.  

In other news, I just slammed my toe into the barrier I put up to keep the dogs out of the basement.  Now my toe hurts like a motherfucker.  I don't think I broke it because I can still move it, but it sure does hurt.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July usually sucks...

Historically, the seventh month of the year sucks for me.  I'm hoping 2015 will be different.  But, in case I needed a reminder of how unlucky July tends to be, here's a list of bad things that have happened in July.

* My former best friend was born.  She turned out to be a shithead.

* Bill's former daughter was born.  Ditto.

* My father died.  My dad was also a shithead sometimes, but he was still my dad.

* Two of my dogs got terminal diagnoses.  One dog had a nasty mycobacterial infection that was impossible to get rid of.  The other dog had prostate cancer.

* We endured non-stop tenant showings and property management harassment in Texas.  If you read this blog during July last year, you know how that went...

* Some dick tried to break into our house in July last year.

Yes, that is blood...

* Ex sent Bill hateful letters from his daughters demanding to be put up for adoption that arrived just in time for his birthday.  That was a fun day for all.

* I endured the worst move of my life when we left North Carolina.  Actually, our move from Texas, also in July, was pretty damn close to being just as shitty.

* It's hotter than hell in July, even in Germany.

I suppose I could look at this another way, though.  In July, my sweet husband was born, as were several good friends.  And the weather, while hotter than usual, is not so bad in Germany.  We don't have air conditioning, but the heat will only last a few weeks.  Then it will be cold again.  Last week, I was wearing wool socks.

And... I do get to live in Germany and last July was when we got the official word that the Germany job was a go.  Of course, we got that news the day before my dad died.

Ah well... maybe this year's July won't be so bad.  At least I don't have to deal with tenant showings this year.