Monday, September 1, 2014

Six degrees of knotty...

Okay, I have to write about this, while I have the chance.  I seem to have an odd knack for connecting with people.  I don't know if you'd call it a "gift" or if other people have this kind of weird "kismet" experience.  But today on Facebook, one of my friends observed that she's either met or reunited with many people thanks to me.  And it occurs to me that I have had some unlikely meetings with people I never thought I'd see again.  Here's a short list of anecdotes.

*  My friend Amy on Facebook went to high school and one semester of college with me.  We were never particularly close friends, though she and I seem to have connected on the Internet.  She has friended at least one person who knows me (and her) only online because they interacted on a post I'd made and discovered they like each other.  She reunited with a fellow music major from my college.  And last night, my father's cousin's wife, Jo, recognized Amy because it turns out Jo's first husband was best friends with Amy's dad and they'd all gone to high school together.

*  Last year, on a night Bill and I were going out to eat with a guy Bill hadn't seen in 32 years (and his wife), we ran into a guy I worked with back in the summer of 1994.  I hadn't seen him since then and San Antonio is a big city with many restaurants.  But we sure did bump into each other at Dough.

* I worked with another guy in 1994 who is from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  After my stint in Armenia, I traveled through Europe with him and his now wife, who was also working with us that summer.  In 1998, I was waiting tables in Williamsburg, Virginia and a couple with thick Irish accents sat in my section.  It turned out they were my friend's next door neighbors.

* In 1997, I went to the Peace Corps office in Washington, DC to do some job hunting.  That office serves thousands of people from the around the country.  The day I went there, I ran into a guy whose apartment I crashed in for a week when a friend and I went to Bulgaria.  He was from New York and I was from Virginia and we both happened to travel there the same day.  The following year, I went to the office with someone I was in Armenia with and we ran into another person from our group who happened to be in the office the same day.

* I even met Bill in a similar way.  After chatting with Bill for about 18 months, Bill told me he needed to go to Little Rock, Arkansas for a meeting.  I told my Aunt Gayle about it, who commented that her brother, Ralph, a former Virginia state trooper and current (at that time) member of the Kansas National Guard, also had to go to Little Rock.  Gayle told Ralph to look for Bill; I told Bill to look for Ralph.  But they ended up looking in the wrong areas.  Ralph thought Bill was a Kansas Guardsman (because Bill lived in Kansas-- he was actually a federalized Arkansas Guardsman).  Bill thought Ralph was a Virginia Guardsman, because Ralph is from and lives in Virginia.  They finally bumped into each other by chance on the last day of the conference.  Ralph checked Bill out for me and we met in person about two months later.

* When I was in Armenia, I ran into a young Armenian woman who was beautiful, smart, and very much wanted to get a full ride to a small Eastern liberal arts school.  Before I met her in person, I noticed she had left a note on the bulletin board in the Peace Corps office in Yerevan, asking if anyone was a graduate of Hamilton College in New York.  I actually knew someone who was, though he worked for an NGO.  I gave him the woman's contact info and he met with her and was very impressed.  Later, I met the woman in person when she was hanging out with the 16 year old son of a guy who worked for the USDA.  In talking with her, I realized she was the one who had left the note on the bulletin board, so I told her that I had given her info to my friend.  She asked me if I happened to know anyone who went to Bowdoin College in Maine.  As a matter of fact, I did.  So I put her in touch with a guy in my Peace Corps group, who met her and was impressed.  Last I heard, she'd gotten a scholarship to Bowdoin.

I rarely get lost.  I also have an uncanny knack for finding my way around.  A lot of times, if I want to  go somewhere and don't have a map, I'll just look for it and end up finding it anyway.  One time, I was in the car with an ex boyfriend and we were driving around Norfolk, Virginia.  We wanted to go to the Naro Theater.  Neither of us had ever been there before, but we sure enough found it quickly.  When Bill and I travel, he lets me look for restaurants because I have a weird talent for finding good ones that turn out to be unusual.  Part of that, I must admit, is based on my sense of smell.

I think the reason this happens to me is because I have a fantastic memory.  I remember people, places, sights, situations and sounds... it's probably why I have perfect pitch, because I remember how things sound.  Maybe other people are also running into folks they either already know or people who are somehow connected to them, but because they don't remember details, they don't realize it.  If I someday develop a disease that robs me of my memory, it will probably be especially devastating... the same way my dad was devastated when he lost the ability to talk and sing (which would also devastate me).

This weird knack I have for bumping into people is another reason why I doubt we're done with Bill's ex kids and ex wife.  I have a feeling we'll see them again because that just seems to be how it is with me and those who are connected to me somehow.      

The big move...

We are going to be moving into our new house today.  It'll probably take two or three trips to get everything out of this apartment.  I will have very limited Internet for the next few days, so it's unlikely there will be any new blog posts here or on my other blogs until at least September 4th.  Enjoy the silence!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mom's doing well...

Just got an email from my sister.  Our mom is doing well – the surgery went as planned (two lumpectomies) and her recuperation has been smooth. They didn’t find any cancer in the peripheral nodes, so seems like the cancer was contained. She has follow up visits with the radiation doctor and an oncologist on Sept 18 and 19.  

I called my mom a few minutes ago and she's in a good mood.  Another one of my sisters is with her now, helping her recuperate.  Looks like everything will be alright for the time being.  

Charmin asks-- Do you pee in the sea?

Someone posted this on my Facebook yesterday and as I watched it, it occurred to me that asking people this question is kind of like asking them if they masturbate.  I mean, this is the kind of thing most people do; and if they say they don't, about 99% of them are lying.

I understand this is a gimmick to get people to buy more Charmin toilet paper and I love that more people might be getting out of the water to pee in a toilet instead of the ocean.  But when you consider how many creatures pee and do other stuff in the sea, it may make you wonder if getting out to use one of the snazzy Charmin bathroom trucks is really worth the effort...  especially if you're a woman who happens to be wearing a one piece bathing suit.  On the other hand, Charmin happens to be my favorite brand of toilet paper.  I would happily help them sell their product and am doing my part by sharing this video.

Since I am now out of the country, I won't have a chance to see one of these handy dandy toilet trucks myself.  But I hope if any of my readers has the chance to use the facilities, they'll return and report!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another post about shaming...

This post may be offensive.  If you don't like frank language, please move on to your next favorite spot on the Web.

Yesterday, I happened to see a photo posted by someone in a Facebook group I got added to somehow.  The group consists of Mormons and ExMormons.  Even though I've never been in either group, I think I am thought of as sort of an honorary exmo in some circles.

When I first saw this photo, the first thing that came to mind is the mushroom on Super Mario Brothers.  I was the first one to comment and that was what I wrote.  Other people made comments that made it clear that they either thought the photo was funny or they pitied the woman who was in it.

It was pretty obvious to me that this photo was posted by the original poster in an attempt to be funny.  Now, I know it's not nice to make fun of people and, to be honest, these kinds of photos often make me uncomfortable.  I usually ignore them and avoid reading the comments because people can be really mean.  What I saw in that particular thread was not really all that mean, though most of the people weren't being particularly nice or complimentary, either.  

Along comes a molly who chastises everyone for making rude comments about the photo.  A couple of others chimed in, tsk tsking the rest of the group for being "mean".  One woman said making fun of anonymous people in photos is "douchey".  

One lady got very upset, because she thought these women were calling her out for being mean and "douchey".  She defended herself, which seemed to amplify the chastisement from the molly who originally piped up.  I felt sorry for the woman who was feeling attacked, so I wrote that the thread was intended to be funny.  Not everyone shares the same sense of humor and what some people think is funny, others will find tasteless.  And while I understand that it's not nice to make fun of random photos of people, neither is it nice to publicly shame people on Facebook.  

In my humble opinion, it's not my job to correct other peoples' behavior online because I am certainly no paragon of good taste or propriety.  The thread then heated up, but I decided I wasn't getting into it with those ladies because I had already made myself "heard" and I doubted either side would be changing anyone's mind.  I backed out of the thread.  I did start to think about the situation, though, on several levels.

First off, I hate the term "douche" used in a derogatory way.  I think it's non-sensical.  A douche is basically an apparatus used to clean a vagina or, in some places, it's a shower.  There is nothing really offensive about that.  What is offensive about a douche is not the product itself, but the residue that results from using one.  A box of Summer's Eve or Massengill is not offensive.  The stuff that comes out after you've used Summer's Eve might be.  So really, you should be calling someone "douche residue" if you really want to be offensive.

This is a douche.  What, exactly, is offensive about it?

One of my friends commented that she likes the term "douche nozzle".  My response is that at least the douche nozzle goes into an appropriately gross part of the body.

Young girl talks to her mom about feeling "not so fresh"...  How does one stay ladylike while talking about the smell of their twat?

She then wrote back that the vagina should be celebrated, to which I wrote "Exactly.  So if your vagina is to be celebrated and you use a douche to get rid of the 'not so fresh feeling', why would you call someone a "douche" in a pejorative way?"  A douche is meant to make your life more pleasant, right?  And somehow, calling someone a "douche", which is a product mostly used by women, strikes me as a bit misogynistic.  In a roundabout way, it seems to me that calling someone a "douche" is a slightly less offensive way of calling them a cunt.  While some people may deserve to be called that and I have no problem directing that word to those who actually deserve it, the word "douche" and its many compound incarnations as an insult has become so commonplace that people are desensitized to it.  

I love how virginal this woman looks as she talks about post menstrual douching.  I notice that most of the early ads used young white women to represent the product.

Then another friend reminded me that douching is not good for one's vagina.  Right, it's a self-cleaning organ.  That's why I stay away from douchebags; but when I write that, I mean it literally.  I mean I don't douche, not that I stay away from people who have been identified has "douchebags".  If someone is a jerk or an asshole, that's what I call them because that is the more accurate term.  Although if I'm being honest, the term "asshole" probably gets a raw deal, too.  Where would we be if we didn't each have an asshole as part of our anatomies?  I know my life would be a lot less pleasant.  

Secondly, while I agree that fat and ugly shaming people and posting photos to make fun of strangers on the Internet is not a nice thing to do, it's also not nice to deliberately try to make people feel bad for posting their thoughts, especially when what they wrote is not egregiously unkind.  By the way, I am sorry I posted my comment.  I usually ignore those types of photos, but the resemblance to the Super Mario Brothers mushroom was kind of uncanny to me and I often say things without thinking.  So do many otherwise nice people.  But it's not nice to police your peers on what they should or shouldn't be saying, especially since there is a very good chance that you're being a hypocrite.  Moreover, when people engage in public shaming, it's often less about them being genuinely offended about something and more about wanting to dominate and influence other people.  In my opinion, if you think something is really offensive to the point at which you need to say something, it's better to speak privately to the person who's upset you.  That way, you can get your point across without unnecessarily embarrassing them in front of their peers and looking, well, "douchey".    

Thank GOD I never had a conversation like this with my mom...

Obviously, it's a good thing to remind yourself to be nice.  But aside from setting a good example for other people, it's really not your place to tell other people what to do or say or try to tell them what is or what is not appropriate to post.  I think it's alright to say that something bothers you or makes you uncomfortable.  To flat out say to someone, "It's douchey to make fun of peoples' ugly photos." is basically saying that your opinions of what is and what is not appropriate trumps their opinions.  And that, in my opinion, is shitty behavior.  I spent a lot of my youth around horses and I know how much shit horses produce.  Imagine the shit that can come from riding a moral high horse.  It stinks; it's unsightly; and it can be hard to shovel after awhile.

Thinking about this situation led me to remember a conversation I had with one of my aunts.  She confided to me that she hates it when people say something "sucks".  She said that was the one phrase that just really offends her to the core.  I use "sucks" all the time.  So do a lot of people.  But I started thinking about where that term comes from, remembering when a soldier told me that it originally referred to something potentially very vulgar.    

According to


Old English sucan, from PIE root *sug-/*suk- of imitative origin (cf. OldSaxon, Old High German sugan, Old Norse suga, Middle Dutch sughen, Dutch zuigen, German saugen "to suck;" Latin sugere "to suck," succus" juice, sap;" Old Irish sugim, Welsh sugno "to suck"). Meaning "do fellatio" is first recorded 1928. Slang sense of "be contemptible" first attested 1971(the underlying notion is of fellatio). Related: Sucked ; sucking. Suck eggs is from 1906. Suck hind tit "be inferior" is American English slang first recorded 1940.

This particular use of the slang term "sucks" at one time implied engaging in fellatio.  While males can participate in performing fellatio, when it involves sucking, it's usually a woman or a gay man doing it.  So, if you think about it, saying something "sucks" can be somewhat misogynistic too, even though the term has since sort of evolved into something more benign.  Now, when someone says something sucks, it basically means that it's disappointing or of poor quality.  But at one time, it referred to sucking dick and, while many men enjoy having their dick sucked, it may not be as pleasurable or appealing if you're the one doing the sucking.  So I can see why my aunt thinks it's disgusting to say something "sucks", though I doubt I'll modify my use of it.

That being said, I now realize that I am myself a hypocrite.  I don't like using the term "douche" to describe someone who is a jerk, but I have no problem saying something "sucks".  Which means I have no business telling other people what they should or should not find funny or trying to shame them into not being "douchey" (*eyeroll).

Anyhoo, it looks like the woman who took offense to the photo and stirred up the shitbrew has left the Facebook group.  I gave some thought to it myself, since I don't participate much and don't enjoy drama.  On the other hand, it does give me something to write about on an otherwise boring Saturday.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

A review of Until the Twelfth of Never- Should Betty Broderick Ever Be Free?

I purchased the late Bella Stumbo's book, the exhaustive Until the Twelfth of Never- Should Betty Broderick Ever Be Free? in April of this year.  I have just now gotten around to reading it.  I normally breeze through books in a matter of days, but this one took me about three weeks to finish.  This book is the story of the tragic relationship between former San Diego malpractice attorney Dan Broderick and his first wife, Betty.  It's one of several books written about this controversial case of an enraged woman scorned who resorts to murdering her ex husband and his second wife.

I must admit to being something fascinated by Betty Broderick.  She was born and raised in New York State, the daughter of respectable Catholic parents who had brought her up on the idea that being a wife and a mother was of utmost importance.  When Betty and Dan married in April 1969, it looked like Betty was going to be one of those women who married well.  Dan had graduated from medical school and then decided to become a lawyer.  Given his dual degrees in medicine and law, he was a powerful force in a courtroom.  He became very successful and was quite wealthy by the time he died at the hands of his ex wife and mother of his four children, Betty.

Betty Broderick had been a beautiful, educated, gracious woman.  By her account, she had helped Dan Broderick become the success that he was.  Dan repaid her by fooling around with his 21 year old secretary, Linda, then deciding that he wanted to dump Betty for Linda.  Dan's actions enraged Betty, who began to refer to Dan and Linda in the most vile, vulgar terms possible.  She also vandalized Dan's home and possessions, ruining his clothes, smearing Boston Creme pie on his bed, and driving her vehicle into his house.  Dan retaliated by fining Betty, refusing to give her access to their children, and using his extensive legal training to keep her from getting what she felt she was owed.

Things got to a fever pitch on November 5, 1989.  Betty went to Dan's and Linda's home with a gun.  She shot them as they slept, then ripped the phone from the wall.  She was tried twice; the first trial ended with a hung jury.  She was convicted during the second trial and sentenced to 32 years in prison, where she remains today.

Bella Stumbo wrote Until the Twelfth of Never years ago, but it has been updated with the edition I own.  There is an analysis of Betty's handwriting included as well as some statements by friends of Dan Broderick's.  I'm not sure the extra material made this book better.  Frankly, I thought it was way too long and, at times, rather redundant.  Stumbo includes a lot of detail in this book, but some of it was probably better left omitted.  For example, I don't need to be reminded umpteen times how profane Betty was when she called Dan on the phone.  But Stumbo included a number of transcripts that explicitly spell out the filthy language Betty uses to the point at which it becomes tiresome.

I did think that Stumbo did a good job in presenting a somewhat even look at Dan and Betty Broderick, although if I had to guess, I would guess Stumbo was slightly more sympathetic to Betty over Dan.  To be sure, Dan Broderick comes across as a real jerk in the seemingly callous way he dealt with his ex wife.  However, Betty Broderick had absolutely no right to kill her ex husband and his wife, Linda.  Had the gender roles in this case been reversed, I seriously doubt people would sympathize with Dan and claim he was driven to kill, no matter how awful Betty was to him.  I'm not one of those people who thinks women should get a break when they turn murderous.  Betty Broderick was not being threatened when she killed.  Dan and Linda were sleeping when she shot them.  There is no reason why Betty should be in prison now, other than her own selfish actions.  At the same time, I did have some empathy for her on one level.  It does sound like her ex husband was a jerk.

I thought the information Stumbo included about Betty's behavior in jail was interesting.  Apparently, Betty Broderick's antics in 1991 were so outrageous that they upstaged news about the fall of the Soviet Union.

Bella Stumbo's Until the Twelfth of Never is basically well-written, but I think it could use an editor.  It's maybe 100-150 pages too long, does not include any photos, and there are some typos that could be corrected.  I'm kind of relieved to be finished with this book because I'm ready to move on to the next subject, but I would recommend it to those who are interested in the war of the Brodericks.  Just be prepared to read for a long time.

Will probably be incommunicado for part of next week...

We move into our new rental home on September 1.  We don't get the Internet hooked up until September 4.  Since Germany is rather stingy with free WiFi (not even sure McDonald's has it), I probably won't be able to access the Internet, except maybe with my phone.  I have limited data on that, since we didn't go with a contract (contracts in Germany can be notoriously difficult to break).

While I will probably go through some withdrawal, it's good for me to be offline for a few days.  I need to be reminded that I once lived without the Internet.  Besides, being offline will give me some time to collect things to write about.

Hopefully, our household goods will get to us very close to the day we move into our house.  The cars are due here September 7th.  We still don't have the boxes we mailed, hoping they'd get to us quickly.  Maybe they'll show up eventually.

I'm still worried about Zane, who, although he's acting completely normally, still has that big rabies shot lump on his hip.  Hopefully, we will be able to get him to the vet soon.  I doubt anything can be done, other than a fine needle aspirate.  That may put my mind at ease.  On the other hand, even if it comes up clear, there's no telling what the future holds.

I have no new information about my mom.  I may end up calling her today, depending on how things go.

Yesterday, I chatted with a woman who is a contractor here and can't wait to leave.  She told me about some really bad things that happened to her.  Someone poisoned her cat and she had to have him put to sleep.  Her bike got stolen.  And apparently, someone complained about her dogs barking too much and the authorities supposedly threatened to take them from her.  She ended up moving, even though she's been here just over a year.

I don't anticipate anything like that happening to us.  It didn't happen last time.  Still, talking to her kind of soured my mood a little because it made me think of things that could go wrong.  I need no encouragement in that department.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

An update on my mom...

She had her breast cancer surgery and according to preliminary tests, her lymph nodes were not involved.  The tissue that was removed will be examined and biopsied.  At this point, she may be advised to undergo radiation.

I expect to hear more from my sister later today.  She wrote last night that Mom should be up and around today and will be at home.