Friday, February 12, 2016

The last day without Bill...

Hopefully, the weather won't mess up Bill's travel plans.  I need him to come home before I end up killing myself.

No, I'm not feeling suicidal.  I'm just really accident prone.  Maybe it has to do with being sick and not quite as sharp as usual.

Yesterday, I wrote about Arran's accidents on one of my rugs.  I finally got so disgusted with the rug that I hauled it to the bathtub and rinsed it out.  Then I wrangled the rug out of the tub and outside, where it's now sitting on my patio furniture, sopping wet.  I did this while dressed in my nightgown and with bare feet, because I was too lazy to put on shoes.  I'm glad my neighbor didn't see me because I would have been in for a lecture.

It snowed a bit last night... just a half an inch or so.  It's been doing that all week.  Of course, that means my rug will stay wet all the longer.  I think I may just say "fuck it" and get a new cheap rug for Arran to befoul.  We bought that one in 2007, when we were here the first time.  It's served its purpose well, but may be beyond redemption.  Given that it's a shitty synthetic rug, nine years of service is pretty impressive.

I usually try not to drink a lot when Bill isn't here.  I mostly succeeded this week, with the exception of Wednesday.  I had too much wine and paid for it.  The wine was nice going down, but not so nice coming back up.  At least I was spared the hangover, though it was a dumb thing to do as I've been recovering from this bug I've had all week.  I probably would be completely fine today if I hadn't overdone it on wine on Wednesday.  But I didn't drink at all on Sunday, Monday or Thursday and I only had one beer on Tuesday because I was rationing our bottled water.  I probably won't drink tonight, either.  I've been going to bed early all week.

I started a new book last night, but I'm afraid it's going to bore me.  If I manage to finish it, there will be a review.  It's about Kathy Garver, who played Cissy on Family Affair, a TV show that was popular in the 60s.   That show was on before my time.  I'm not really sure what made me buy the book.  Maybe my reasons will become clearer to me once I'm finished reading.

I was too lazy to fix dinner last night, even though I was hungry.  I just wasn't in the mood to cook.  I ended up eating a handful of peanuts before bed.  Then, this morning, I was coughing so violently that I threw up.  On top of that, the bottom of my nose is very sore from it running earlier this week.

So yeah... it's been a tough week.  If I hadn't been feeling so poorly, I might have taken the dogs out for some walks and even gotten in the car and gone into town.  But I've been cooped up all week.  I'm ready to be done with it.

Bill is going to be flying home overnight, so by this time tomorrow, he should be back in Germany and on his way home.  I will do what I can to cope until then.  Maybe I'll find more places to travel.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It really has been a yucky week...

I'm glad tomorrow is Friday.  This week has not been fun.  First off, I got sick and have been dealing with a nasty cold.  I am feeling mostly better today, though a cough still lingers.

Next, the weather has sucked.  We've had lots of wind, rain, and snow.  It's cold and nasty outside, so I haven't been able to walk the dogs.  Of course, even if the weather had been perfect, I've been pretty sick anyway and in no condition to take them for a walk.

Because the dogs haven't been getting their walks, there have been a few accidents in the house.  I found one early this morning.  Actually, Zane found it.  He sniffed where I'm assuming Arran took a big whiz.  So I had to get down on my hands and knees and clean up that mess as best as I could.

ETA:  I went to check our mailbox and missed another turd left there by our resident stealth shitter, Arran.  We have a built in doormat that is brown and orange, so shit blends in.  I went to open the door and heard it scrape against something.  Sure enough, there was a good sized piece of crap there that I didn't see this morning.

I literally haven't gotten dressed all week.  The weather still looks like it sucks today, though I might venture out later if it doesn't rain or snow again.

And of course, it's also been pretty lonely this week, too.  I have really missed Bill and his Internet access is only marginally better in Tanzania than it was in Burkina Faso.

On the positive side, I have been doing a lot of reading... and torturing myself with 7th Heaven episodes.  I swear, that show is like a trainwreck.  It's so addictive, yet so infuriating.  I sit there and yell at the screen, especially when Stephen Collins is on it as RevCam.

I did have an interesting idea, though.  You know how Full House is being relaunched as Fuller House?  I think it would be interesting if 7th Heaven had a similar reboot.  They should have a show with Ruthie Camden (Mackenzie Rosman) as the star.  She could be a lesbian psychoanalyst with adopted twins from somewhere in Africa.  She could be shacking up with her Chinese girlfriend who doesn't speak much English.  And she could have purple hair.

I might actually watch and enjoy a show like that.

I really need to pry myself away from 7th Heaven and watch a good movie or something.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A review of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

So, I just finished M.E. Thomas's Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight (2013).  I think I'm left with mixed impressions of this book.  On the positive side, I thought it was reasonably well written, if not occasionally a bit dry.  Thomas offers some interesting theories as to how having sociopathic tendencies could be a positive for some people.  On the negative side, I found Thomas to be rather unlikable, occasionally disturbing, and really more narcissistic than sociopathic.  Also, though she frequently describes herself as "smarter" than regular people and above being emotional, I notice that she does some really dumb things.

I think one of the dumbest things Thomas (a pseudonym) did was go on the Dr. Phil show after she published this book.  I own a newer edition of Confessions of a Sociopath.  At the end of the book, there are some extra materials that include an epilogue about the aftermath of Thomas's decision to publish Confessions of a Sociopath.

Thomas writes that she was very careful not to share too much about herself on her blog or in her book.  And yet, Internet sleuths being what they are, her real identity was discovered and she was promptly fired from her job as a law professor.  She was also barred from being within 1000 feet of the university where she worked.  Thomas writes that she doesn't think the restriction is legally enforceable and notes that it is a significant inconvenience to her, since the area around the school includes her bank, several public transportation stops, and other places she'd need to visit.  Thomas writes that personality disorders are legally protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but she doesn't think a jury would be sympathetic to her if she decided to sue.

From what I can tell, Thomas is still LDS, which I think is pretty much the height of stupidity.  Based on what I've read, Thomas was employed by Brigham Young University, which is a Mormon owned school.  She complains that they are discriminating against her; just as they do to many people, to include homosexuals and apostates.  And yet, she's still in the church.  Even if I didn't have serious issues with the way Mormons treat others who aren't like them and even though I realize that there are many attractive, talented, and otherwise intelligent people in the church, I just think Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, among other things.  People who choose to believe the lies the church was based on and accept its policies are, in my opinion, showing some serious logic deficits.  But then, Thomas writes that she frequently does things that other people might think of as crazy or stupid.  She habitually lives in the sketchiest parts of town, where rents are cheap but burglaries are frequent.  She even walked in on a burglary once, yet didn't decide to move.

A lot of the examples Thomas uses to describe her so-called "sociopathic" behavior don't seem all that sociopathic to me.  She writes of one incident where she gets angry at a guy working at the metro in Washington, DC.  The guy yells at her for trespassing.  She says she wants to kill him and follows him for a couple of blocks before she loses him.  In another passage, she writes of trying to kill a baby opossum in a swimming pool.  It fell in there and was on its way to drowning before she found it.  She isn't able to do it.  Later, she fishes the corpse out of the pool and tosses it over a fence.  Big deal.  She fights with her father.  Who hasn't?

Thomas repeatedly explains that she doesn't really enjoy being a lawyer.  She says she's a lazy person who thrives on any activity that allows her to game "the system".  Maybe law was a good field for her for that reason, but one thing good lawyers should be able to do is show good judgment and protect one's reputation.  I don't think publishing this book was an example of good judgment, even though Thomas claims that she's okay with the consequences.  Given that she admits to being sexually attracted to and acting on her attraction to both males and females, I'm surprised she's still LDS.  She does write that being Mormon forces her to be accountable and a "good person", so maybe that's a good thing.   At the same time, she writes about how bloodless and calculating lawyers are.  Hmmm...

I did find Thomas's anecdotal examples of what makes someone sociopathic versus narcissistic somewhat interesting, though I'm not sure I totally agreed with them.  And, again, I have certainly read books that were not as well written.  I don't think Thomas is very likable, though she insists that she is... and that people don't seem to notice her sociopathic tendencies.  I find that somewhat hard to believe, though maybe I'm biased.  Thomas does write that she runs into a lot of people who think sociopaths are inherently evil people.  I'm not sure if that's true or not, since I'm not really certain that Thomas is a sociopath.  To me, she seems a lot more like a malignant narcissist than a sociopath.  I'm no expert on sociopaths, though.... On the other hand, I'm not so sure Thomas is, either.

Anyway, I didn't hate this book.  I didn't love it.  It has three stars on and I think that's what I'd give it, too.  Thomas is clearly intelligent and some of what she writes is interesting.  Since she lost her job, maybe it's not a bad thing that I bought her book.  Of course, given her self-proclaimed ability to charm people, she's probably landed on her feet somewhere.  Who knows?  Read it if it interests you, though I certainly wouldn't call Confessions of a Sociopath a must read.


A review of Battered Into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse In The Christian Home

To be honest, I'm not sure what made me buy and read this book.  I probably bought it after reading about Josh and Anna Duggar.  Though I am interested in religion and the dynamics of religious people, I am not myself very religious.  I also am not involved in an abusive relationship.

Written by James and Phyllis Alsdurf and published in 1989, Battered Into Submission is a book that addresses the frightening domestic violence trend in Christian marriages.  Given that it was published in 1989, Battered Into Submission is not the most timely book on this subject.  And yet, it may be very good reading for some audiences, especially those who think Christian homes are exempted from abuse.

Though this book uses dramatic anecdotes to explain how abuse happens, I mostly found the book rather textbook like.  I was reminded of some of the books I read for my social work degree, except this book includes a lot of Bible verses.  For that reason, I think it's probably best suited for pastors, students, and Christian counselors.  A regular layperson may find the reading a bit too dry.  On the other hand, Christian readers may appreciate that the Alsdurfs include Biblical answers to the most commonly trotted out verses that justify spousal abuse and/or discipline.  The authors also discuss the mindset that many abusers have.

One problem I had with this book is that it's only about wives being abused.  As we all know, abuse is not a gender specific problem.  I guess it makes sense that this book mainly only addresses wives because it was published in 1989 and addresses Christians.  Many religious households tend to be patriarchal, though that is certainly not always the case.  It wasn't the case with my husband and his ex wife, though I strongly suspect the ex was "religious" only because it was a handy tool she could use to control others.  When it comes down to it, abusive males may also be that way because it's a means of being in and maintaining control.

This book came out way before the Duggars were a "thing", though the authors do reference certain Christian bigwigs affiliated with the Duggars.  For instance, they mention Bill Gothard, as well as J-O-Y (Jesus first, others second, yourself last), which is a philosophy the Duggars often espouse.  The authors assert that always putting others before yourself ignores that you have intrinsic worth and also deserve consideration.

The Alsdurfs discuss Malachi 2:16, which is apparently often misquoted--"I hate divorce, and I hate a man who clothes himself and his wife with violence."  Many Christians ignore the second half of that verse, which condemns domestic violence.  Not being particularly religious, I hadn't heard of that verse.  What I had heard of is the verse about wives submitting to their husbands... again, often misquoted as people forget that husband are supposed to submit to God.

Some very conservative Christians may not like that the authors encourage divorce when there is abuse.  Personally, in many situations, I happen to agree with them.  On the other hand, divorce sucks.  I'm glad Bill got a divorce from his abusive ex wife, but it still sucks.  I think it should be avoided whenever possible.  Probably the best way for that to happen is for people to really know each other well before they decide to marry.  And even then, sometimes divorce is necessary.

Anyway... I think Battered Into Submission may be a great addition to a pastor's library, though a newer book might be even better.  As for Josh and Anna Duggar, I wouldn't blame Anna at all if she decided to divorce Josh.  However, I can also see how a divorce could be problematic for both of them.  We'll see what the future holds.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I really want to write something substantial today...

but unfortunately, I'm still pretty sick.  I don't feel quite as badly as I did yesterday morning.  My nose quit running, but now I have congestion, sinus pain, a headache, a backache, and a productive cough.  My throat is sore and I'm fatigued.  I am considering purchasing hand sanitizer for Bill for the next trip he takes to Africa.  For all I know, he got the virus on the plane, though he said he felt bad when he was in Burkina Faso.  He thought it was because of the piss poor air quality.

I have been using this sick time to do some reading.  The other day, after writing my post about sociopaths, I was inspired to start reading another book.  Instead of a book about how bad sociopaths are, this book-- written by a self-described sociopath writing under a pseudonym-- highlights how sociopaths can be "good".

You may have heard of the book, Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, written by M.E. Thomas.  Interesting that the author, a female, chose the initials "M.E.", given that she's supposedly a sociopath.  Anyway, when this book first came out in 2013, I wasn't inclined to read it.  It got pretty mixed reviews and I wasn't really inclined to fatten the wallet of someone who thinks of herself as a sociopath.  Before she published her book, Thomas was already a blogger and writes that writing the blog is like having a daily serving of porridge.  I guess I can relate to that.

M.E. Thomas thinks she's smarter than everyone else.  She's a devout Mormon, a lawyer who teaches law, and a musician.  She explains how not every sociopath is a criminal.  In fact, she claims that you'll like her.  Her students love her.  They think she's a "stone cold fox" and a creative, caring teacher.  And yet, she explains that she's a very lazy person who doesn't really care about anyone but herself.

I haven't quite finished the book yet, so I will refrain from revealing too much or reviewing the book.  Maybe today, I'll manage to finish.  I don't feel like doing much else.

What I will say is that the book definitely offers a different perspective of sociopaths, though I don't find Thomas all that smart or likable.  Incidentally, she was sort of outed as a professor at Brigham Young University's law school.  It appears that M.E. Thomas is really Jamie Lund and, after an ill advised appearance on Dr. Phil, she was fired.   

Anyway, I hope to be ready to review tomorrow... if my head clears enough to manage it.  Right now, I'm feeling uncomfortable and tired; it's cold and raining and I think I just want to go back to bed.

Monday, February 8, 2016


So, what felt a little like the flu has turned into a miserable cold.  I went from being fatigued and dazed to a coughing, sneezing, sore throated, nasally congested fool.  This cold has done nothing to kill my appetite, either.  I was hungry in the middle of the night because I ate an early dinner and went to bed.

Bill was home just long enough to infect me with a nasty cold virus.  Now he's back in Africa and I'm sitting here hating life.  And not caring one whit about the Super Bowl, either...  I seriously don't give a flying fuck about football.  Not that I could "fly" anywhere, especially in the condition I'm in today. I look and feel like warmed over crap.

I'm still watching 7th Heaven episodes because I enjoy torturing myself.  It's one of those shows that is so bad it's good, especially when you consider that Super Dad turned out to be a pervert off screen. Maybe later, I'll watch The Cosby Show and continue on the TV dads falling from grace theme.

I hate the way colds make me feel... tired, punch drunk, and messy.  I hate the constant sneezing and mucous.  I don't usually have sinus problems, but a cold makes my cheekbones sore.  I feel fatigued, but doubt I can sleep.  Unless, of course, I start reading a book... then I'll doze off long enough for my nose to clog.

In other news, my former shrink just changed his profile picture to this.

I knew he was cool.

Maybe when my head clears, I'll be back to write something coherent.  For now, I think I'll sit here and drink coffee.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Suicide by cop?

The other day, I read the sad story of 24 year old Danielle Jacobs (aka Kayden Clarke), a transgendered person from Mesa, Arizona suffering from Asperger's Syndrome.  Jacobs died when police responded to a suicide call at Jacobs' home.  Because Jacobs came at the police with a knife, they responded by firing their weapons.  Jacobs later died of injuries sustained by the gunshots.  Biologically, Jacobs was female and legally named Danielle Jacobs; however, Jacobs identified as a male.  From this point on, I will use male pronouns and refer to Jacobs as Clarke, since that was the name he used and apparently preferred.  

Last June, Clarke posted a video of himself with his trained Rottweiler, Samson.  The dog helped Clarke when he had meltdowns by preventing him from self harming.  People were very touched by the video and it eventually went viral.

Thursday of last week, Heather Allen, founder of the HALO Animal Rescue in Phoenix, called the police when she received a suicidal email from Clarke.  Sadly, Allen's efforts to help Clarke may have played right into his decision to kill himself.

In another post, one in which the author seemed confused about which pronoun to use, people who apparently knew Clarke claimed that he was not a harmless person.  Some commenters write that he threatened people online and had even been accused of abusing Samson.  The link goes to an article about Clarke/Jacobs, but if you read the comments, you see one posted by a woman who claims that the videos showing the dog comforting Clarke are misleading.

At this point, I don't know what to believe.  I think it's sad that someone had to die this way.  Obviously, I don't know what it's like to be a cop and I have no idea how threatening Clarke was when they visited.  At the same time, I wonder why non-lethal weapons weren't used.  Police in Mesa have twice been accused this year of using excessive force.  Given that it's only February, I find that rather scary.    

It sounds to me like Clarke was in a lot of pain and was tormented by his lot in life.  I would think having Asperger's Syndrome would be enough of a challenge for anyone, but being transgendered on top of that would be even more difficult.  According to an article on, Clarke had posted in December that he planned to have gender reassignment surgery.

Samson is now being cared for by Clarke's mother, a woman in her 70s.  She says Samson is the only thing she has left of her daughter.  This is definitely a story with a lot of "moving parts" as it were, and there's more to it than meets the eye.

Speaking of being in pain... I am sick today and I think I may need to go back to bed.  Bill left for Africa and I pray he doesn't bring back any germs.  What he brought me from Burkina Faso is nasty.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Father literally loses family to a Jehovah's Witness... (another book review)

I just finished reading an incredibly sad book.  It's yet another one about the Jehovah's Witnesses and a man whose life was dramatically and negatively impacted by having been a member... and married one.  The book, written by Canadian James Kostelniuk, is entitled Wolves Among Sheep: The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah's Witness Community.  It was published in 2009.

There are a lot of true crime stories where people are members of religious communities and the religion is just an aside.  Jim Kostelniuk's story is one in which I believe the Jehovah's Witnesses are somewhat culpable in the horrors of what happened.

 The basic story

Back in the 1970s, Jim Kostelniuk met 18 year old Kim at a party held by Jehovah's Witnesses.  She was several years younger than he was, slender with a clever way of speaking and slate blue eyes.  Kim was looking for a worthy Witness husband.  Jim was looking for a romantic relationship.  In 1972, they got married in a very low key JW ceremony, even though both of their families objected.

Kim was a very devout JW, while Jim was less invested in the faith.  Though they were young and Kim was attractive to Jim, their marriage was never rock solid.  Kim found sex disgusting and would only do it to procreate or because it was considered a "wifely duty".  She worked very hard to be a good JW, perhaps because her parents had divorced.  The Witnesses, at least in the 70s, only allowed divorce in cases of adultery.  Though her mother later remarried, the divorce had cast a pall over Kim's home life and she seemed to be very stigmatized about it.

Kim's and Jim's marriage lasted six years and produced two children, a boy named Juri and a girl named Lindsay.  By the time they divorced, Jim had lost his faith.  Witnesses typically don't associate with people who leave the religion, so Kim worked hard to push him out of their children's lives, even though he was a loving father.  She also accused him of adultery so they could divorce and she could find another worthy Witness to marry.  In 1981, an article in the Witness publication The Watchtower, reiterated that Witnesses were not to associate with people who were disfellowshipped, which Jim was at the time.

Kim undertook a serious parental alienation agenda and pushed Jim far to the sidelines of their children's upbringings.  Jim was basically powerless to stop it.  In the 70s and 80s, fathers rarely got custody of their children after a divorce.  The Witnesses would pay for lawyers that would keep Jim out of the kids' lives.  Jim didn't have the money or the time to fight his ex wife in court, so he stood by helplessly.  He found a new woman to marry, a non Witness named Marge.  They were allowed to see Lindsay a few times, though Juri completely fell away from his father's influence and wouldn't even talk with him on the phone.

In 1980, Kim went on a vacation to Hawaii.  While she was there, she met an American from Texas named Jeff Anderson.  Anderson claimed that he lived and worked in Hawaii.  He was also a Jehovah's Witness.  He was clean cut and had nice manners.  He appeared to be gainfully employed.  Kim entered into a relationship with this man based on what he'd told her and they got married in Houston, Texas in August 1981.

The marriage was a complete disaster.  Jeff's claims about his life turned out to be a pack of lies.  He gained a lot of weight because he was addicted to junk food.  He was unemployed and abusive.  It was true that he was a Witness; his mother had been involved with the faith for a couple of months when he was a kid.  Though she eventually fell away from the religion, Jeff became active within it, mainly because of its teachings about marriage and because it gave him a group of people he could exploit.

Even though the marriage was basically a sham and based on lies, Anderson used Witness teachings to keep Kim from divorcing him.  He would get church elders to "counsel" Kim on the importance of being a good wife and standing by her man.  Because she was such a devout JW, Kim couldn't consider divorcing a second time.  However, Jeff Anderson became more and more abusive and horrible and Kim finally considered splitting from him.  On August 29, 1985, Jeff Anderson murdered his wife, Kim, and Juri and Lindsay Kostelniuk, with a shotgun.  Originally, he'd planned to make Kim watch him kill the children first, but decided there was too much of a risk that she'd overpower him.

Because Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976, Anderson did not have to worry about being executed for his crimes.  He was sentenced to three concurrent "life sentences", which means 25 years.  Incredibly, after he was incarcerated, Anderson began corresponding with Kostelniuk.  For five years they exchanged letters.  As they traded correspondence, Jim Kostelniuk learned what a truly monstrous yet pathetic man his ex wife had married... and how his children suffered because he was in their lives.  He was left with the guilt of how they lived and died after their mother remarried.

My thoughts

If you read this blog, you may know that my husband was married before he married me.  He and his ex wife became Mormons.  Though Bill eventually left the Mormon church, his ex wife stayed in it and the church was used as a tool to separate him from his children.  Although as far as we know, the ex hasn't been murdered and the children (five by three different men) are all still living, I related a lot to Kostelniuk's story.  I watched as Bill was pushed out of his kids' lives with the church used as an excuse.  In fairness to the Mormon church, Bill's ex wife did the same thing to the father of her eldest child and she did that before they were LDS.  Still, there is no denying that the church played a role in pushing Bill out of his kids' lives.  It was a very effective parental alienation tool, just as it was for Jim Kostelniuk.

Still, as absolutely horrible as Bill's story is, Jim's story is so much worse and more tragic.   This guy wanted to be in his kids' lives, but they were brainwashed against him.  Every attempt he made to see his kids, particularly his son, Juri, was rebuffed.  He couldn't fight for them because the Witnesses would get involved and help his ex pay for lawyers that would beat him in court.  All he could do was helplessly watch until a criminal-- a liar, who had convinced his ex wife that she had to stay with him-- literally destroyed his ex wife's and children's lives in a very violent way.

As bad as the murders were, what was even more bizarre and horrible were the details that came out about Anderson's life in the letters he sent to Jim.  The man was a loser and a criminal who'd failed at almost everything he tried.  The only reason he was a Witness was because the faith is so patriarchal. When he married a devout Witness woman, especially one who had already been divorced, he knew he had someone who wouldn't leave him because it would mean she would be ostracized.  Since Kim had grown up being viewed as somewhat "damaged goods" because her parents were divorced and then she herself had gotten divorced, she couldn't risk another split... even though her second husband was much worse than her first had been.  Kim had tried to keep the kids away from Jeff, but never took the final step of divorcing him or having him arrested.  Even if she had done that, though, the end result may have been the same.

Also... because Kim so reviled sex and Anderson wanted it, he resorted to molesting the children.  Lindsay, in particular, suffered when Kim refused to perform her "wifely duties".  Though Kim did take some steps to protect her children, they weren't nearly enough.  And she didn't give her ex husband, a much better man who was not abusive or perverted, the chance to help protect the kids.

This book is written in a somewhat formal style that, at times, is a little dry.  However, I'm glad I stuck with the story because it did eventually did get very interesting in a horrible way.  If you're interested in reading about deviants and how badly things can go awry for the unaware, Jeff Anderson is definitely a memorable character.  If anything, it drives home how extremely important it is to really know someone before you marry them, especially if you have kids.  And frankly, it presents an example of how very destructive overly restrictive religions can be, especially for children.  It also gives readers a glimpse at the legal and prison system in Canada, which may have many American readers shaking their heads in disbelief.

Anyway, if you can stomach it, I think Wolves Among Sheep is well worth reading.