Saturday, September 24, 2016

Don't talk to cops...

I have a very eclectic collection of friends.  Quite a few of them are liberal types I know from my artistic pursuits.  Others, such as family members, people I grew up with in rural Virginia, and people I know from my years affiliated with the military (as a spouse and brat), are much more conservative.  Sometimes, if I post something slightly controversial, they'll end up interacting.  Sometimes the interactions can become somewhat explosive.

Last night, I shared an article I read about why people shouldn't talk to the police.  It was inspired by advice given by James Duane, a law professor at Regent University in Virginia.  He's featured in a very interesting video about the Fifth Amendment.


In this 2008 video, James Duane speaks about why you should never speak to police officers for ANY reason.

And part 2...

In fairness, I knew this might be a controversial topic.  I have a couple of friends who are police officers.  I have a couple of friends who are spouses of cops.  I also have lots of very liberal friends who do not trust the police.  So I posted this article and the comments ensued.

Naturally, I heard from a couple of liberal friends who liked the advice.  I heard from one of my police officer friends.  And I also heard from a spouse of a cop.  You could probably guess how this went.  Personally, I usually take a middle of the road stance on this subject.  I think many times cooperating with the police works out okay.  Other times, it can be disastrous.  

One friend wrote that she has never had any problem just being courteous with the police and minding her manners.  This particular friend happens to be a young, blonde, white woman who has probably never had any really serious issues with the police.  Other people have not been as lucky.

Another friend, also a white woman, had written about being harassed by the police in a neighborhood near where she used to live.  That friend got into it with one of my cop friends.  They had a very long discussion.  My liberal friend who was against talking to the police explained that she felt harassed by the police.  She explained that she hadn't broken any laws and the cop was bothering her because she felt he thought she was in the neighborhood buying drugs.  She wasn't, and the officer apparently didn't find any reason to detain her, so she went on her way.

My cop friend was being defensive of the police officer's actions.  He explained what he's done when he's been on a beat (granted on a military installation).  They argued, and then another friend, who is married to a cop declared, "You're making a mountain out of a molehill." 

Things went downhill from there.  My liberal friend brought up the very real problem that people of color face when they get stopped by the police.  And my cop friend sarcastically made a comment about how he was just waiting for someone to play the race card.  With that, my liberal friend got disgusted and left the conversation.

I'm a little sad things went down this way.  I really think this is an interesting topic of discussion.  Many of us are taught to trust and respect police officers without question.  Many people think all they have to do is tell the truth and it'll all be okay.  However, as Mr. Duane explains in his video, there is a huge risk that a person who is stressed, tired, or unsure of the laws of the land might inadvertently say something that incriminates them.  People can and have found themselves behind bars for making that mistake.  Sometimes, they're there for a long time before they are finally released.

I appreciate the work that good police officers do.  It's important work, and police officers deserve respect for facing danger in the name of keeping their jurisdictions safe.  But too many Americans are ignorant about their rights.  You could be totally innocent and end up saying something that gets you in serious trouble.  I think it makes sense to ask if you're being detained.  If you are, get a lawyer to advocate for your rights.  If you aren't being detained, be on your way and don't talk to the police.  It's your right not to.

Also, for the record, I don't think my liberal friend was making a mountain out of a molehill.  It's true that her particular situation was more of an inconvenience than anything else.  But it could have turned out very differently.  

If you don't speak to the police, you can't lie to them.  You can't get carried away when you speak to them.  You can't give them any information that can incriminate you.  And it's your right not to speak to the police.  I think it makes good sense to wait until you have a lawyer who can advise you and be your advocate.  Yes, lawyers are potentially expensive, but if they can keep you out of prison, I'd say they're worth the money.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Digging your own grave with words...

So, a couple of days ago, I wrote on my travel blog about my new dirndl.  That post has been surprisingly successful.  It's not my most popular yet, but it's up there in hits.  Lots of women in the community have commented on the dirndl and my success in purchasing it, especially since I bravely bought it having converted my US size to a German size.  The dirndl fits pretty well, all things considered, although I probably could have gotten the next smaller size if I had wanted to.

I felt super cute when I put it on.  It's not so often I feel "cute" anymore.  I'm middle aged and rather fat.  Even when I was younger, thinner, and supposedly "cuter", I was never what anyone would consider a hottie.  People have told me they think I'm pretty, but not in a way that necessarily attracts boyfriends.  It's usually my personality that men tend to like... and probably my boobs, too.  Anyway, enough about that.  The point is, like a lot of American women, I'm vain and insecure about my looks.  I feel self-conscious, especially in photos and on film.

I took a couple of successful head shots, that showed the top of the dirndl.  Then, knowing that people would want to see the whole thing, I attempted to take a body shot.  I couldn't get one by myself, but I did get one that showed about two-thirds of the outfit.  It was enough so people could see the bodice and my waist.  I tried to get Bill to take a photo of me in the whole outfit, but he doesn't have a gift for photography and his pictures made me look kind of hideous.  We also didn't have the benefit of natural light because he got home after dark.

In any case, the vast majority of comments about the pictures I posted were overwhelmingly positive.  That made me feel great!  Isn't it funny, then, that I should be so annoyed by the very few comments that were a bit thoughtless?  It's not so much that they were intended to be mean, either.  I seriously believe they were made with good intentions.  A few people just didn't stop and think before expressing themselves.  It happens to the best of us.

One lady, excited about the idea of buying a dirndl, asked me publicly if I would tell her what size I bought.  Then she mentioned her size and, I guess, figures I wear the same.  When I first saw that comment, my first thought was "Is she kidding me?  Does she really believe I'm going to tell everyone in Stuttgart what size clothes I wear?"  Then I thought to myself, "Why didn't she send a private message?  Or, at least, ask me how I determined what size I should wear?  Why would she ask another woman to publicly reveal her clothing size?  Especially when it's obvious the woman isn't exactly slim?"

Of course, I figured the woman just had a brain fart and couldn't think of a graceful way to ask her question.  So, although I was a little tempted to be sarcastic, I wrote "Here is a conversion chart.  If you wear 'such and such' size in US clothes, you should wear a 'such and such size' in German clothes."  She thanked me, and that was that.

Later, I vented about this situation in a private group and someone in that group immediately typed, "How tactless."  I was a little taken aback by that comment.  It hadn't initially occurred to me that the first comment was anything but simply thoughtless.  And now, someone was trying to tell me that the person was intentionally being rude.

I explained that I thought the woman had just had a brain fart and meant no harm.  I would have thought that would have been the end of it, but the person persisted, pointing out that the size tables are available on the Web site and she could have figured it out without publicly pointing out my zaftig figure. (That's not precisely what she wrote, but it was the gist of what she was saying.)  She seemed sure that the first commenter was deliberately trying to humiliate me, rather than simply being clumsy and thoughtless.  Even if that had been the case, why would you point that out to someone?  I mean, if I'm willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, why wouldn't you?  Unless, of course, you actually want me to feel bad.

I responded by telling her that here in the American community in Stuttgart, we have many people who are not long on common sense.  Lots of people ask what some would consider "dumb" questions with answers that are easily discovered after some casual Googling.  In fact, we have people here who ask what time the Black Forest opens and closes!  Here's a hint.  The Black Forest is not like a state run park and it has no specific operating hours.  I added that I may not be skinny, but I write, sing, cook, and fuck like no other!

You would think that would have been the end of it, but the person persisted by telling me "the good thing is you don't have to be skinny to look good in a dirndl."


So I wrote, "Or to my husband... which is really all that matters anyway."  In saying that, I meant that he's the only one who *has* to find me reasonably attractive, but I guess it didn't come across that way.  So much for "shaking it off."

Again... I thought it would be over, but then she basically told me I needed to be "true to myself".  So I decided to be totally flippant and say, "Nah, my whole life revolves around Bill.  He is my reason for living... certainly for living in Germany!"  With that, the awkward comments finally stopped...  I had been tempted to add that some of my friends don't know when to STFU, but figured that would be too tactless.

Later, another woman wrote, "I love your dirndl.  It's very flattering!"  That's not necessarily an offensive thing to say, except that she's basically pointing out that my body needs to be "flattered".  Why not just say, "That's a pretty dirndl." and leave it at that?  Why make a comment that alludes to my figure flaws?  Yes, I'm sensitive, dammit.  I probably wouldn't have been irritated by that comment, though, had it not been precluded by the others.

The truth is, I almost never post pictures of my current body on the Internet simply because people are brutal and I don't necessarily want to be the subject of fat shaming.  In our community, it is especially risky to share photos because of the so-called "dependa hunters".  These are assholes who go around ripping off people's photos, posting them in Facebook groups, and making fun of them.  I might not care about that so much, except that sometimes that sort of thing gets out of hand and one becomes aware of the nasty comments.  I mean, you can make shitty comments about me privately, but no one wants to be publicly humiliated.  And unfortunately, although military folks can be wonderful, there are quite a few bullies within their ranks who get off on being abusive and cruel.  I've blogged about that many times, if you need examples.

But, in fairness, I suppose I am guilty of making fun of people, too.  I try not to be mean, but I'm sure I fail.  So maybe I deserve some blows to my ego sometimes...  Maybe.  But I must admit that yesterday's encounters stimulated my creativity.  I may have to record a new parody song called "Tactlessly"...  Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review of Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley Sullenberger...

How many times have you gotten on an airplane, tuned out the flight attendants' safety briefing, and just took it for granted that you would make it safely to your destination?  I'm sure I've done it more than once in my lifetime.  I'm sure that many of the people who boarded US Airways' Flight 1549 from New York to Charlotte on January 15th, 2009 also took it for granted that they would be taking a run of the mill flight.  There were 155 passengers and crew on that airplane that day.  How many of them had been lulled into a state of complacency?  How many of them are still complacent seven years after their flight landed in the Hudson River, just minutes after take off?

Like a lot of people, I very well remember reading and hearing about Flight 1549 and its pilot, Chesley B. Sullenberger, affectionately nicknamed Sully, who managed to ditch the aircraft in the river after its engines were overcome by a flock of Canadian geese.  This year, the film Sully is being released, with Tom Hanks playing the title role.  I suppose it was the buzz about Sully that made me decide to download 2009's Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.  Written by Chesley B. Sullenberger and ghost writer Jeffrey Zaslow, Highest Duty is basically Sully's life story in book form.  But it's also the story of what happened on that fateful day in January, when all of Sully's years of flying and thousands of hours of training came down to one moment when he and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, had 155 lives in their hands.

Highest Duty begins at the very beginning, as Sullenberger describes growing up in Texas and being fascinated by flight.  He found early inspiration and training in a local crop duster, who taught him the basics of flight and rented him the use of his plane and air strip.  Later, he went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was trained to fly bigger airplanes, skills he used as an Air Force officer.  I got a kick out of reading about Sully's training, especially since it turns out he and my dad were stationed in England during the same time.  Sully was at Lakenheath Air Force Base and my dad was at Mildenhall Air Force Base; the two are very close to each other.  Of course, Sully is a lot younger than my dad, so they were not running in the same circles.

After leaving the Air Force, Sully began his career as a commercial pilot.  He writes about how difficult it was, even back before commercial airlines had to contend with the challenges they face today.  There were more pilots than open positions and everything an airline does is based on seniority.  Sully just happened to be at the right place at the right time when he scored his first job.

Like many people, Captain Sullenberger fell in love and got married.  His wife, Lorrie, has been along for the ride, coping with Sully's many trips away from home.  They have two adopted daughters, Kate and Kelly, and live near San Francisco, California, which is where Sully's first job was based.  As airlines began disappearing, swallowed by bankruptcies or mergers, Sully's "home base" changed.  In 2009, he was based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, but still commuted from California.

As he made his way to that fateful flight out of New York, Sully worried about his finances.  I'm sure he never dreamed that he'd one day write books... or be the subject of a major motion picture with Tom Hanks playing him in the starring role.  No... on January 15th, 2009, Sully was thinking about his looming mandatory retirement and the property he owned that had been leased by a Jiffy Lube franchiser.  The franchiser had decided not to renew the lease and Sully wondered how he would pay the mortgage.  Sully's pension had dwindled down to being worth a fraction of what it once was.  And he lived in a very expensive part of the country.  It's a feeling many readers will be able to relate to, even before he gets to the story about his historic landing in the Hudson River.

Those who do decide to read this book may want to know that it's not all about that flight.  In fact, readers are "teased" throughout the book as he mentions the event that put him in the public eye, but writes more about what led up to that moment.  Some readers may find that technique a little tedious and frustrating.  I know I picked up Sully's book because I wanted to read about how he ditched the airplane in the river, but I now appreciate reading about how Sullenberger became the man and the pilot he is.  Aside from that, he has spent so many years in the airline business that he offers some interesting trivia about it.  In fact, he even laments how sad he thinks it is that so few children are interested in seeing the cockpit anymore.  Nowadays, kids are plugged into any number of devices.  It doesn't occur to them to want to stop in and see where Sully works.  He mentions that a lot of people seem to think pilots are not much better than glorified bus drivers.

Anyway... I pretty much hate flying in airplanes and try to avoid them when I can.  But I can definitely appreciate a book about how the airline industry works, especially when it's written by a man who could be credited with keeping so many people safe when they could have been so easily killed.  Think about it.  It's a miracle that 155 people were able to go home to their families after Sully ditched their airplane in an ice cold river.  Through his talented ghost writer, Sully even describes how it felt to receive his personal effects months later, after they were found by the company contracted to take care of that.  He muses that most people who receive personal personal effects after a plane crash are the people who have survived the crash victims.  But there he was, receiving a box of his stuff that happened to be on the plane.  Everything was there, save for an $8 tuna sandwich he purchased and never had the chance to eat.  And he was the one to take possession of that stuff, not his wife and children.  It's amazing.

I think Highest Duty is well worth reading.  I give it a solid four stars.


My take on the dissolution of "Brangelina"...

So, a couple of days ago, the whole world learned that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are divorcing after two (count 'em-- two) years of marriage.  Pitt and Jolie, who had been collectively referred to by the press as "Brangelina", had been together since 2004 and were raising six children, three of which were their own biological creations.

I can't say I was totally surprised about the news... although George Clooney was apparently taken aback by it...

Clooney was surprised because he was doing something more meaningful than stalking celebrity news...

Anyway, I generally think it's sad when couples divorce, although there are certainly exceptions.  Like, I'm glad Bill and his ex divorced, even though I am sad for the pain he went through during that process.  And I'm probably glad that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split up because I think Tom Cruise is batshit crazy and living in a cult and I would hate to see Suri Cruise raised in a cult.  I also hated the whole TomKat hype. 

One thing that does bother me, though, is a certain meme going around the Internet.  Behold...

Yes, it's true.  Angelina Jolie was "the other woman" when Pitt was married to Jennifer Anniston and now another woman has allegedly come between her and Brad Pitt...

A lot of people think Angie is getting her just desserts for "stealing" Brad from Jennifer.  But I'm here to tell you, no functioning adult-- especially someone like Brad Pitt-- can be "stolen" from someone.  Brad is the one who made the commitment to Jennifer and, later, Angelina.  Brad is the one who should get the lion's share of the blame for homewrecking.  This is my opinion even though I know Angie knew Brad was married when they started messing around all those years ago.  The fact is, Brad broke a promise, not Angie.  If anyone's a "homewrecker", it is he.

That being said, I don't think it's a good idea for people to try to have relationships with married people.  I know there are many reasons why people do it.  Sometimes the reasons even make sense.  I had a neighbor who was married, but her husband had Huntington's Disease and lived in a mental hospital for many years.  She dated.  I don't know that I necessarily agree with that, especially since the guys she dated were usually abusive creeps.  But I can understand why she dated because she was in her 30s at the time and lonely... and she had a very sick husband who needed her, lived in a hospital, and would not be the wiser about her extramarital activities.  I don't know that I would have done what she did had I been in her shoes, but I could have some empathy for her situation.

It appears to me that Brad Pitt is simply not the marrying kind.  He likes a variety of women.  He should probably not marry again because he can't be faithful.  I don't know how that feels for him.  I can only have empathy, for him and the women he gets involved with, as well as his children.  However, even though a lot of women think Angelina was a skank for "stealing" Brad, the fact is, she wasn't capable of stealing him.  He made the choice to go along with her, even though he was married.  It probably would have been better if he had ended his marriage before getting involved with Angie.  That's not what happened, though.    

I think if anyone should be the subject of a snarky meme, it should be Brad Pitt.  He's the one who cheated.  He's the "homewrecker".  Angie, bless her heart, probably should have seen it coming from miles away.  On the other hand, since she's also been thrice married, maybe she's not the marrying kind, either.    

I do feel sorry for the kids...  I hope this situation doesn't fuck them up too much.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My very weird dream...

So yesterday, we decided not to go ahead with Zane's surgery tomorrow.  It may turn out we have his cyst removed if it gets big again, but at this point, it's really tiny.  I hate to put him through a surgery if he doesn't really need it.  It turns out it was a good thing we decided to cancel, because Bill went by to talk to the vet yesterday and they were also wanting to cancel the surgery.  I guess they had bigger fish to fry tomorrow.

All of the thinking I've been doing about Zane's surgery must have really gotten to me, because this morning I had a dream we were in Belgium and I needed surgery.  I was admitted to the hospital with a bunch of other people and my nurse, a young woman dressed in a polo shirt and casual pants, was very laid back.  She took me on a tour of the hospital and then fed me lunch.  I remember thinking that if I was going to have lunch, I probably shouldn't have surgery.  She assured me it was all okay, though.  

Just as they were about to wheel me off to surgery, I woke up.  Zane was sitting there whining at me.  Sometimes in the morning, he wakes up with an upset stomach and doesn't want to eat right away.  Such was the case this morning.  Bill tried to feed him and he wasn't having it.  Consequently, he was hungry and wanted me to give him his morning rations.  I was still pretty groggy upon waking, so I needed a few minutes to get my bearings.  Meanwhile, Zane was still whining.

I gave him his food, accompanied by a couple of little cookies to settle his stomach.  He ate.  An hour or so later, he was demanding a walk.  So I got dressed in long pants and hiking boots because fall has now arrived in Germany.  We took our walk and now I'm sitting here with indigestion, thinking that it's time for me to have some lunch.

I watched several episodes of CHiPs from 1979 yesterday.  I realized how fucking old I am now.  It was a good episode, though.  Leif Garrett was starring, playing an overworked rock star.  I have to say, he was quite cute back in the day.  I don't know who told him he could sing, though.  Anyway, that episode had a whole lot of stars from that era in it, some of whom are now long dead.  Quite a few of the stars were people who had been on some of my favorite childhood shows.


Am I really this old?  I was seven when this originally aired.  Dana Plato looks wasted.

I see Philip McKeon, of Alice fame, is roller skating.  Here is a video of him with his sister, Nancy, who starred on The Facts of Life. 

This is a very awkward looking video...  Philip and Nancy are obviously reading and the kids all look shell shocked and bored.

Anyway... I may spend some time today deciding if and where we should go over Columbus Day.  Again, it'll have to be a pet friendly locale, since we aren't booking the dogs.  The things I do for them.

I do love this time of year, though.  Germany is lovely in the fall.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

For the love of a mouse...

There was a very funny thread going on in one of our local Facebook groups yesterday.  A woman found a dead mouse in her laundry basket and wanted to know what she could do to get rid of the mouses's buddies, who were bound to be living close.  The woman quickly got answers from the community, including one from yours truly.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a few mouse droppings near our house and went looking for remedies.  I found out that peppermint oil supposedly repels vermin.  We have a big peppermint plant in our backyard, but that's nowhere near where I saw the poop.  Fortunately, I do happen to have some peppermint oil on hand that I bought when I wanted to try out some other faddish claim I found on the Internet.  I sprinkled the peppermint oil liberally near the areas where I've seen mouse crap.  I can't say it's totally eliminated it, but I do see a lot less.  Of course, we also have some pretty good mouser cats living nearby.

This cat is a monster mouser!  She also likes to jump out of hiding places and scare the shit out of our dogs and us!  Fortunately, she's very sweet.

Most of the other suggestions this lady was getting involved more violent methods of dispatching the mice.  Lots of people suggested traps.  Poisons may have been mentioned, although given Germany's strict rules about animal cruelty and toxic substances that may harm the environment, I don't think they were heavily discussed.  Personally, I am for methods of getting rid of pests that don't endanger other creatures.  Poison can easily end up harming cats, birds of prey, dogs, and children.

Anyway... there was one person in our group who was very much against killing the mice.  She left an impassioned plea that those who encounter the creatures simply catch and release them.  I thought that was kind of funny, since where I live, catch and release is no guarantee that a mouse will live out all its allotted days.  Besides the many cats and dogs who live in my neighborhood, there are also farmers working with heavy equipment.  Most days, I come across some dead creature that has been squashed by a tractor or combine.  Actually, my dogs usually discover them before I do.

I have a feeling the person who was commenting is a local who was distressed by the bloodthirsty attitude a number of Americans seem to have toward mice and rats.  Never mind the fact that our local groups mostly consist of people who are in the business of war, as well as their loving spouses, who are often in support of their mates' line of work.  We Americans see mice and rats as disease ridden varmints, but the lone dissenter among us sees them as intelligent, cute, and as deserving to live as protected as any human being is.  This song instantly comes to mind as I write this...

Michael Jackson sings to "Ben", a hapless rodent...

On the other hand, perhaps it was lost on the poster, a young woman who may not be well versed in history, that between 1346 and 1353, many Europeans died when rats infested with Oriental rat fleas came into contact with people of that time.  Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in the history of the human race.  I guess, even though it happened hundreds of years ago, many people are still holding a grudge and see mice and rats as disease carrying pests.  I, for one, also don't like rodents because they are messy and destructive and they can make a lot of noise.  But I grew up in a house with mice as well as in a barn, where mice and rats were forever trying to get into the sweet feed.

The drama that ensued over the dead mouse and the original poster's desire to kill more mice ended when the poster determined the heat had gotten to be too much.  She deleted her post, then issued an apology for "offending" people.  I would say that 99% of the people in our local groups have no sympathy for mice and thought it was crazy that the lady was being handed a ration of shit over her natural desire to be rid of the rodents.  But her apology post has ended up spawning a new post, which is now full of hilarious jokes and memes...  I may or may not have participated in the hijinks.

Sometimes it's fun to sit on my can and hang out on Facebook while watching trashy reality TV.  This is clearly what I spent seven years in college to do.

Incidentally, I recently discovered a trick for getting rid of maggots in my trash, which has been a real problem over the summer.  It turns out all you have to do is put a dryer sheet in the bin.  The flies don't like the scent or something, so they vamoose.  I tried it the other day and sure enough, the maggot population is vastly reduced.  I'm amazed by all the handy household tips I've learned as an Overeducated Housewife, especially since we've been in Germany.  I could write a book!  ;-) 

Monday, September 19, 2016

I spent yesterday binge watching Below Deck...

I think I discovered Bravo's reality show Below Deck sometime in early 2015.  Below Deck is about young, good looking people who work on chartered luxury yachts.  I quickly got hooked on the show, as I do when I have limited TV access, and binged watched two seasons worth.  Then I forgot about the show.

Last week, while trying to pass the time, I noticed that Below Deck had more episodes available.  Indeed, they have just started a new season.  I started watching.  Yesterday, since it was cold, rainy, and depressing outside and I was feeling kind of icky, I parked myself on our futon and watched...

I find the show oddly compelling for a few reasons.  Believe it or not, it kind of reminds me of when I worked at a church run summer camp.  That was a job that required everyone to live where we worked.  Days were long and exhausting.  We rarely got time off.  The intense work was only for twelve weeks, though.  Then it was over.  It seems that the yachting business is kind of the same way.  You work your ass off for some weeks, make lots of tip money (which we didn't get at church camp), then go on your merry way.

Most of the people on the Below Deck yachts are young and gorgeous.  They're often horny and want to party and they do.  We at church camp were the same way, though we were fairly limited in what we could do out in the wilderness.  There was a lot of hooking up at the camp, though.  It was a lot of fun and I left that job having made some good friends who remain friends to this day.

Another reason I like Below Deck is because I like luxury cruising.  However, I have to admit that watching the show is a reminder that the really excellent service and friendliness of crew members is mostly driven by the perceived promise of a good tip.  And since most of the people working on the yachts on Below Deck are Americans, the drive to get a good tip is especially intense and, frankly, kind of disheartening.

But then... I have worked a a waitress myself and I understand the drive to make money in the service industry.  Waiting tables is very hard work.  It's actually a lot harder than a lot of people realize.  You have to learn how to be fast and efficient and think on your feet.  You have to put up with people who are shockingly rude.  When you are living and working on a luxury yacht that people have paid tens of thousands of dollars to charter, the work becomes even more intense.  On the other hand, I watched one episode in which the staff replaced mint for a mojito with what they said was basil (it looked more like cilantro to me) and mint extract.  I figure if your guests are spending so much money to be on the yacht, the least you can do is have some mint.  And if you don't have mint, don't lie and say you do.

So yeah... I like Below Deck.  I guess I'm getting old, though, because I realized yesterday that I was getting a little annoyed by the language on that show.  There really is a lot of cussing, which I understand on one level due to the nature of the work.  But half of the words are bleeped out, which becomes tiresome after awhile.  And sometimes, the bleepers mess up and let things slide.  I don't really care if I hear the word "shit", though I wish they were consistent about the bleeping.  Frankly, I wish American TV would just let people express themselves.  Bleeping is annoying, especially since it's pretty obvious what is being said anyway.

I didn't feel very well yesterday.  I was tired and my stomach was upset.  It was raining outside.  I sat in and watched trashy television, just like I would if we were back in the States.  Bill watched with me, as did Arran, my TV buddy.  Zane spent the day buried under the covers on our bed.  The weather is changing, just like it does every September in Germany.  It magically goes from sunny and warm to cold and rainy.  There will be snow before we know it.  I'm actually glad to see the weather change.  I love autumn.

Zane is supposed to have his surgery this Thursday, but the cyst that had me all concerned has shrunk down to almost nothing.  I'm trying to decide if I still want the vet to remove the cyst.  I probably should just go on and get it done, since it'll probably just fill up again and get me all worried.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Trainwrecks online...

Yesterday, I wrote a post about a family I learned about yesterday.  The post was up for about thirty minutes or so.  Then I took it down, because I felt bad about writing it.  Twenty-four hours later, I have decided to rewrite the post.  I just feel like I have to, even if I do feel kind of bad about it.  So here goes...

There's a guy on my Facebook friends list who posted a link to a GoFundMe campaign yesterday.  I don't actually know this guy.  I think he added me because I'm friends with one of his mutual friends. We used to have one friend in common, but now I see that he's added several other exMormon Facebook friends of mine, also people I don't really know, but kind of enjoy following.

Anyway, I noticed the GoFundMe pitch on this guy's page.  He has a married nephew who lost his three month old infant son in a freak accident on Friday.  The family is very obviously Mormon.  Until Friday, they had eight living kids, several of whom have names that only very devout Mormons would bestow upon their offspring.  The baby who died was named Kolob.

I noticed that my Facebook friend had posted the GoFundMe page, but so had the baby's parents.  They share a Facebook account.  The mother, who writes a blog, also has a Facebook page for her blog.  With eight kids, I'm sure finances are stretched tight and the parents said they needed help with the burial expenses.

I was curious about the family, so I navigated to the mother's blog, which has only been in existence since August.  There are several posts.  The first one I read was about how amazing the infant son was.  It was posted before his tragic accident.  It seems the baby was born a month prematurely and had spent some time in the NICU before coming home to live with his family for a summer.  The boy's mother wrote that her son had fought to get well.

The next post, which is the one she most recently wrote, was posted yesterday.  It was about her baby's death.  When I discovered that post, I realized that the baby hadn't even been dead for twelve hours.  People process things differently; I know I need to write when there's something on my mind.  Still, it seemed really strange to me that this mother had taken to her blog to write about her dead baby so soon after it happened.

So I kept reading.  I discovered that this family has struggled with a lot of problems.  One son has autism.  A daughter broke her neck, though was apparently able to recover.  Another daughter had a broken leg as an infant.  Another son had "brain issues" before he was born.  The baby who died had been given a bottle and placed on a blanket while Mom went to cook dinner.  He apparently aspirated some fluid and was discovered by his dad and sister about fifteen minutes later, blue and unresponsive.

Having not had children myself or been around a lot of very young infants, I asked some of my friends who are mothers if it was common for parents to put their babies on a blanket and leave them there.  They all said it was, although it sounded to me like this mom left her baby alone in a room while she was cooking.  Given that he was a preemie and had other young siblings, one of whom has autism, it seemed to me that this mother should have had the baby within eyeshot.  And maybe she did.  The details or what actually happened are fairly sketchy.  But then, if the baby had been within her line of sight, perhaps she would have noticed he was in distress.

I happen to have a background in child welfare.  I studied social work and public health and have worked as a social worker.  If I were still practicing, I probably would be calling child protective services and asking them to check on this family.  However, given the many strange medical dramas this family has faced, my guess is that someone has already called about them.

I realize this family has suffered a tremendous loss and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt...  however, the mother's blog raises a number of red flags.  At the very least, it shows that the woman has poor judgment.  I'm sorry if my comments about this are in poor taste or come off as judgmental, but I truly think this family has got some pretty major issues.  I felt like I needed to write about it because it's profoundly sad as well as very strange.

I probably need to cull my friends list, too...