Saturday, March 31, 2012

When stepparents start claiming their stepkids as their own...

I know I already blogged today, but something came up that inspired me to write this post.  Technically, I am a stepmother, though I don't really know my husband's kids.  Even if I did know them, I don't think I'd ever feel comfortable calling them "my" kids.  And I seriously doubt their mother would want me to think of them that way.

My husband once referred to his ex wife's son as his son, mainly because he'd been led to believe the boy's dad was an abusive deadbeat.  Now that my husband's daughters have a stepdad who refer to their mother's husband as "dad", he's not so sure the ex told the truth.

Last night, I came across a blog written by a woman who clearly had two kids from another marriage.  And yet she was representing them as her husband's kids.  And a guy I knew in college, now on his second marriage, is calling his stepdaughter "his daughter", even though he's only been her stepdad for a few months and appears already to be on the brink of divorce.

I think these stepparents and bio-parents are hoping for a do-over.  They want to forget about that failed relationship that created children and wipe that non-custodial bio parent out of their collective memories.  They want everyone to see them as a strong family unit, even if they aren't, in fact, a strong family unit.  They want to discount biology and the contributions biological parents make.

This isn't to say that I don't think stepparents or adoptive parents have value.  They certainly do.  And this isn't to say that there aren't bio-parents out there who have truly abandoned their kids and abdicated their responsibilities.  However, there is no denying that biological parents make contributions that can't be taken away.  Every time my husband's ex wife looks at their younger daughter, she sees my husband's face.  Every time she talks to their older daughter, she encounters my husband's personality.  There's no way to wash away those innate characteristics passed on by my husband, no matter how hard she tries to deny them.  

I wonder if these bio parents who encourage their future spouses to take a parental interest in their kids would like it if the other bio parent did the same thing.  It would be great if parents whose relationships failed could all get along and see the value of four adults loving their kids... but most humans aren't that unselfish.   And if the subsequent relationship fails, I wonder how many of these former stepparents are still thought of as "Mom" or "Dad"?  Shoot... my husband was dad only so far as his financial responsibilities went.   He was expected to pay child support for his daughters and ex stepson until they were well into adulthood.  But that was where his "daddy-hood" ended, because ex replaced him with a more malleable partner.

Just something on my mind today that made me go "hmmm..."

A shocking revelation...

Yesterday, I got a private Facebook message from a college friend of mine.  The message was also addressed to several other college friends.  It included a link to a news article about a guy we all knew in school.  When I first read my friend's words, I thought maybe this mutual acquaintance might have died.  But no...  what actually happened was that my friend just discovered that his old fraternity brother was sitting in a Texas prison for possession of child pornography.

My mouth dropped open as I read about the charges.  This man, whom I remembered as a congenial guy who liked music, had asked a casual friend to dog sit for him while he was on vacation.  The dog sitter happened to find the porn while using the man's computer, ostensibly innocently.  She uncovered thousands of film clips and images of young boys being abused.  She reported her findings to the police.

The article also stated that the man had been an upstanding and productive member of the community, involved in Rotary and Boy Scouts and working as the vice president of a credit union.  But when he was apprehended, he had bloody wrists because he had attempted suicide... and was also HIV positive.

Apparently, there was no evidence that the man had ever actually had sexual contact with a child.  There were just many pictures and incriminating chat transcripts.  The man had described his urges as a "ticking time bomb".  And while he sits in a prison cell now with a long sentence ahead of him, it occurs to me that as bad as this situation is, it could have been so much worse.  But it's always tragic to hear about someone who had so much potential ending up on the wrong side of the law.      

This is not the first time an old friend has surprised me with news about a person we both knew who ended up going to prison.  A few years ago, a very old friend of mine sent me clippings about someone who had gone to school with us.  He now sits in prison, having been caught drug trafficking.  I remember being shocked by that revelation too.  He had come from a very respectable family.  His father was the director of instruction for our school system.  His mother was a nurse.  His older brother was a celebrated athlete and though he, himself, was not athletic, he was very smart.  I remember my friend had a mad crush on him when we were growing up.  He could have done anything he wanted with his life.  He could have been anything he wanted to be.

I remember running into him once late at night at a 7-11.  I had stopped for gas and he was in the store with a girl.  He looked strung out and emaciated.  A couple of years later, he was busted.  He now sits in a prison cell in California.

It always amazes me how lives can unravel... and how outward appearances can be so deceptive.  Both of these guys had so much going for them.      

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A run-in with Michael Crook, Misanthrope...

So today, I was hanging out on the Recovery from Mormonism site and there was an interesting thread about Michael Crook, a soon to be ex Mormon.  Someone had posted what appeared to be a press release about Crook's impending excommunication.  A lively thread commenced and it soon became clear that Crook wrote the "press release" and was sock puppeting inflammatory remarks to get other posters wound up.  Seems to me that if he'd just posted about his situation, he might have had a very different reaction than what he ultimately got.  But I have a feeling Crook likes it when people get pissed at him.  Like his name implies, he's a bit of a thief.  To my knowledge, he doesn't steal money or property, but space in peoples' heads...

To be honest, I don't give a shit about Crook's excommunication.  I wouldn't blame the LDS church for wanting to disassociate with him, even if he's the most faithful tithe payer alive.  My beef with Crook stems from back in 2005, when he was making news for a hateful Web site he owned called ForsakeOurTroops. The site is now offline, but it was basically about how Crook thinks people in the military are being overpaid.  Crook's views were so vile that he actually appeared on FoxNews's Hannity & Colmes.  In fairness to Crook, neither Hannity nor Colmes really gave him much of a chance to defend himself.  However, given some of the things Crook was saying about military folks, I guess I can't blame them too much for that.

My husband happens to be a service member, so when this was going on, he was watching intently.  And he visited Crook's former Web site and read all about Crook's views on a whole host of topics.  It became pretty clear that Crook was simply interested in getting attention and perhaps a few bucks.

After Crook disrupted things on RfM, I decided to do some more checking around and I ran across this video which you will have to watch on YouTube.

In this video, Michael Crook claims that he doesn't believe there is such a thing as rape.  It was definitely interesting viewing... and I can see that it prompted a number of angry video responses.  These are just three examples of the highest rated Crook responses of several I found.

I'm not angry at Michael Crook.  I have no hatred for him. I don't care enough about him to hate him.  I'm mostly amused by his antics and the lengths he will go to piss people off.  And I'm not sure if he does it for entertainment, or if he really believes the crazy things he writes on his Web site and says on YouTube.  It seems to me that he just wants the world to acknowledge him, like a petulant, pathetic child who craves attention... any attention at all.  And if it leads to a little extra cash coming his way, so much the better.

You will notice, though, that I didn't link to his site.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Liquid Gooollllddd....

I often write about commercials that annoy me.  I have to admit, though, that I actually really like the "Liquid Gold" commercials for Velveeta.  Not that I would ever buy Cheesy Skillets.  My days of eating processed cheese food and macaroni products are way over.  But I do like the guy pitching Cheesy Skillets.  He's having a great time being campy and presenting his product with a sense of fun.  Yes, I do like it!

And you know what?  I also like the latest Target ads.  Trouble is, they don't make me want to go to Target.  They make me want to go to France...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dog hair in my foot...

I've had dogs for a good portion of my life.  I've also always loved to go barefoot.  Somehow, despite these two truths, it wasn't until recently that I experienced my first "dog hair splinter".  In the last two days alone, I've had two of them.  I walk around on the bare floor and suddenly feel a sharp pain in my foot, almost like I've stepped on a glass shard.  I sit down and look at the sole of my foot.  There it is.  A long white dog hair.  I pull on it and out it comes.  Instant relief!  Isn't it odd that stepping on something as innocuous as a hair can hurt so much?

I wondered if I was the only one who ever experienced this phenomenon.  I did an Internet search and, lo and behold, there were several Yahoo! Answers and messageboard posts about people who had gotten dog hairs stuck in their bare feet.  Apparently, it's an occupational hazard for people who groom dogs professionally.  The risk of a nasty dog hair splinter is a good reason to avoid wearing sandals while washing canines.

It's hard to believe I lived so many years without ever bearing the pain of a hair so sharp it sticks in the tough, callused, soles of my feet.  You learn something new every day, I guess...

Who knew this little cutie pie could hurt me so much with just one hair?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This sure never happened in any college class I ever took...

Hard to believe this incident in an evolution class at Florida Atlantic University happened just yesterday and this video is already going viral.  I have no idea what this woman's problem is.  If I had to guess, I'd guess maybe she's bipolar and off her meds.  But who knows... any number of things could have caused this woman to go off like she is.  A later video shows her being hauled out of the building in handcuffs and stuffed into a police car.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

People who fake their credentials...

The other day, my dear spouse told me that he had found his ex-wife on LinkedIn.  Supposedly she's been very busy over the past few years and accomplished some amazing things.  Despite having dropped out of high school and started and quit college several times, Ex apparently managed to finish her bachelor's degree and recently earned a master's degree in an education field.

While I suppose it's technically possible that she accomplished these lofty goals, my instinct tells me that she's stretching the truth and embellishing things yet again.  I think, like so many other people, my husband's former wife is full of shit.  I have many reasons for feeling the way I do.  Here's a list.

* The ex recently turned 45 years old.  She has five kids, the youngest of whom is only 5 and has special needs.  I know from personal experience that grad school is time consuming and expensive.  Even if she was in a program that didn't require a lot of coursework, in order to finish the work when she claims she did, she would have had to attend full-time.  Where would she have found the time and money?

* Knowing that she does have two kids with special needs (one of whom is my husband's adult daughter) who supposedly both need help, why would a loving mother choose to attend graduate school instead of dedicating her free time to helping her own kids?  My husband was around when his children were young.   Ex was not concerned about their daughter's special needs back then... in fact, she basically said the girl was dumb.  It wasn't until she was a teenager that we started hearing reports that she had learning disabilities.  Where was her mom in the early days, when more should and could have been done to help her?  Why wasn't mom on fire to be her own daughter's advocate when it would have counted the most?  I find it hard to believe that she only now discovered that passion in her forties, when over half of her kids are grown.  

* The ex does not have a stellar academic record.  It's not that she doesn't have the intelligence to earn degrees, though her writing skills are terrible.  It's that she has a long history of not finishing things.  She was never a star student, long on intellect and discipline.  Accomplishing two graduations in the time she claims would not fit in with her character.  Leopards don't change their spots.

* Looking at her LinkedIn account, we can see that she's already stretching the truth with the bachelor's degree.  We know from a reliable source that she was earning an "Interdisciplinary Studies" degree, which is college speak for a catch all generalist degree mostly based on life skills and a smattering of classes.  It's not a specific field of study.  And yet, if you look at her LinkedIn, she doesn't list "Interdisciplinary Studies" as her major.  She lists business, psychology, languages... are we to assume she was a triple major?  Hardly.  It's thinly disguised bullshit.  So what would stop her from fabricating a master's degree online?  Who's going to check up on her?

* She up and moved suddenly.  Seems to me, unless you are a really hot prospect in grad school that everyone's itching to hire, it doesn't make sense to up and move clear across the country when all your contacts are presumably local.  However, if you're actually faking it, it does make sense to move.  People in the state where she claims to have earned the degrees would be more likely to know her story.  People in a new state across the country might be more likely to take what she says at face value.  I have heard that to the right people, the ex can come across as very convincing and superficially charming.  Of course, if she actually got hired, it would soon be pretty obvious that her skills and knowledge are lacking.  The mask doesn't stay in place for long.

* Her skills are vague.  She's billing herself as an "advocate".  But people who are advocates usually start off doing something much more concrete.  They build up a reputation that would make people want to look to them for advocacy and guidance.  My husband's ex wife doesn't have that kind of a personal or professional history.  She does, on the other hand, have a long history of bullshitting and embellishment.

Why do people fake their credentials?  Nowadays, there are plenty of reasons.  The economy sucks and people are desperate to make a living.  Human resources workers are being bombarded with resumes and it takes time and effort to verify all those qualifications, following up with universities and references.  Besides, a lot of companies have strict policies about references, because providing an unflattering one can lead to litigation.  On the other hand, faking your qualifications can lead to significant humiliation.

Back in 2003, I remember being on a message board for Pensacola Christian College and a guy named Joel Elliott posted about how, as a journalism student at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, he discovered that the college's former president, Donald O. Young, had falsified his credentials, claiming a master's degree that he never actually earned.  Young, who was calling himself "Dr. Young" on the strength of an honorary degree the college had granted him, claimed that the "oversight" was his secretary's fault.  The story later got picked up by the New York Times and Joel went on to become an award winning freelance journalist.  "Dr. Young" ended up resigning his post in disgrace.

Elliott had once been a student at PCC, but got kicked out for being too much of a maverick.  Folks at Toccoa Falls College were also upset with him for being "unChristian" and causing so much embarrassment for their president while also casting shame on the school, which had been struggling with its finances because of low enrollment rates.  I guess I can understand them being upset about the embarrassment, but I wonder why they weren't equally upset about the man who duped them?

There have been other fakers and liars, of course.  The world is rife with them.  People lie for all kinds of reasons and some of them are never found out.  I think my husband's ex is lying, in part, because she wants to send my husband a hearty "fuck you".  We have noticed that she pops up on the Internet every once in awhile in self-promoting articles which are usually full of half-truths and outright lies.  I think she thinks we check up on her and puts these things out there in the hopes my husband might engage her.  Actually, we don't check up on the ex... my husband checks up on his daughters and that's how we find these things about the ex wife, because she is inevitably connected to them.  I used to check up on her legal records when the kids were minors, but I quit doing that a long time ago.  I'd be just as happy never to hear any of their names again, but my husband can't give up the dream that his kids will come around.  I think they eventually will, but not in the way he hopes they will.

I could be wrong about my husband's ex wife.  Maybe she did actually manage to earn those degrees.  However, even if she did earn them, I'm not sure why anyone would want to hire her over someone who had more experience, better character, and more formal education than she does for the career track she appears to be aiming for.  And even if she does legitimately have those qualifications, knowing what I know about her personality, history, and habits, I wouldn't want to let her within twenty yards of any child, let alone one with special needs.  She doesn't even seem to have her own kids' best interests at heart.  I truly do worry about innocent kids who are not related to her being exposed to her toxic brand of "help"... the kind of help that only serves to further her own agenda and bolster her own image.

I suspect that if my husband's ex wife persists in her professional level bullshit, she will eventually be found out, which will necessitate another long distance move and may actually lead to some very public humiliation.  As long as her bullshit doesn't interfere in my life, I guess it's none of my business.  It truly is scary how many liars there are out there, though.  It pays to be careful whom you hire.

MacGregor is fine and dandy, I guess...

The vet who did MacGregor's surgery was not the one who recommended having the lipomas removed.  He ended up deciding not to remove his lipomas because MacGregor was apparently reacting under the anesthesia.  So in all, MacGregor got his teeth cleaned and a nasty growth on the back of his neck removed.  The vet said the growth was suspicious.  I suppose I should have paid $150 to have it checked out, but MacGregor is already at least nine years old and most skin cancers are cured by removal.  And even if he does have cancer, it's not like we haven't dealt with it before...

MacGregor is doing fine, though.  Woke up this morning very perky and cute, ready for his breakfast.  I'm always grateful for every day I have him in my life.  He and Zane are definitely very bright spots in my life.


Monday, March 19, 2012

MacGregor is at the vet's....

This is MacGregor, my old hound dog.  He's at the vet's today, getting a teeth cleaning and several lipomas removed.  He also has a skin growth that is being lasered off today.  MacGregor is a sweet old guy and I hate it when he's gone all day.  But I want him to stay healthy for as long as possible, so he's having all this stuff done today.  He'll come home with patches shaved in his fur and stitches... I imagine he'll be a little out of sorts.  Poor baby.

On the other hand, better him than me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

This video made me laugh my ass off...

I like to look up irreverent videos on YouTube.  A couple of weeks ago, I came across a song called "The Dickhead Song" by Miles Betterman.  I thought it was funny, so I decided to listen to it again last night.

I tittered uproariously anew and started looking for another Betterman song and found this...

Most of the people in the "Vile Celebrities" song are Brits that I have never heard of... but I still laughed so hard that I about pissed my pants a la Marie Osmond...

 In case you were wondering, all three of the above videos have to do with Marie Osmond peeing herself in public.  I actually give her a lot of credit for being able to laugh it off.  She laughs and the audiences laugh with her, which is the sign that she is a consummate performer who sacrifices herself to save the show.  As someone who has, on occasion, laughed so hard I involuntarily golden showered myself, I understand completely...

And now I wonder if Marie Osmond won't end up being the next Poise pitch woman after Kirstie Alley's had her go at it...

Kirstie is following in the footsteps of Whoopi Goldberg...

Both of these ladies, just like Marie Osmond, have also pitched weight loss products.  It only stands to reason that either Marie or Carrie Fisher will end up pitching Poise next.  I would do it myself, but I'm not near as photogenic as any of these ladies are.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The ultimate RANT!

Recently, I've come under fire for ranting too much on the Internet...  but I don't think I hold a candle to this guy!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Have you seen the ad for this?  It's basically a tarty looking chick singing the blues about being underemployed, selling corn dogs, and wanting to earn a degree in order to make more money.

Here's a link to their Web site.

I guess this is a service that matches people up with online college programs.  What I'm struck by is the catchy song.  I'm really surprised it's not on YouTube yet, since the Web site mentions that they know you're humming along to their ad.  Awfully perceptive of them.  ETA:  Just found it!

What's funny is the music they use reminds me of what was popular when I was a kid in the late 1980s.  That music makes me think low-budget... But I have to admit, it's kind of a guilty pleasure as commercials go.  Maybe it's not as intriguing as the Hoveround singing black guy, but it ranks a close second.

It beats this ad...

Ms. Overly Helpful strikes again...

A couple of days ago, I posted this...

A guy we met on our SeaDream cruise made a video starring everybody.  He posted it at an unlisted address on YouTube and invited us to watch parts of it with the understanding that the video was for our eyes only.  Given the fact that this guy and his wife are so private, it surprises me a bit that it never occurred to him that perhaps his fellow SeaDreamers might not want to be in a YouTube video, unlisted or not.  But I digress.

Anyway, I went to my usual favorite message board to vent a bit.  I suppose I should have known better, but Ms. Overly Helpful has been behaving herself lately.  I naively thought the trend might continue.  So I vented a bit, enjoyed a few days of civil conversation with a couple of friends and then the subject seemed to die.  Until today.

Ms. Overly Helpful, who fancies herself The Voice of Reason, chimed in to tell me that perhaps I'd misjudged the situation.  She said she had to read my post twice to understand it completely.  Then she commented that many people like to see photos of themselves and maybe he was just being accommodating.  She made the brilliant observation that no one was forcing me to view the photos. Then she suggested I simply thank him and then delete the email.

I'll be honest.  My first instinct was to rip off Ms. Overly Helpful's head and shit down her neck.  But I gradually managed to temper myself enough to explain that the SeaDream dude had already sent me unsolicited photos which I thanked him for and then deleted.  This time, he had sent me an invitation to view his YouTube video.  He didn't include the links in the email, so it was not a matter of just saying thanks and then ignoring the videos.  I was requested to respond.

I tried to be subtle by telling the guy that my husband and I don't enjoy seeing ourselves on film.  That's the truth, after all.  I'd rather not be reminded of what time and too much beer has done to my body.  But SeaDream dude was apparently confused by that response-- which to me was pretty damn obvious.  So I had to be much more direct by saying, "No, we don't want to see your video, but thanks anyway."

Clear enough, Ms. Overly Helpful?

I went on to explain that I had already taken action based on my actual in person interactions with this guy and our email correspondence before I posted about it on our forum.  While it is possible that I misjudged the situation or overreacted, I don't think I did.  And even if I did overreact or misjudge, there's nothing I can do about it now.

I have to admit, Ms. Overly Helpful really grinds my gears.  I know I should be more laid back and ignore her... the way she advised me to ignore SeaDream dude.  But she just can't resist chiming in with her helpful brand of bullshit whenever she thinks I need to be set straight.  And she comes across as condescending and obnoxious.  I try my best not to engage her.  I rarely respond to most of the things she posts.  Why does she have to offer me "special help" all the time?

Maybe next time, I should be more direct with her and suggest she go screw herself.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Another move on the horizon?

I sure hope not.  Life as an Army wife can really suck sometimes.  On April 1, we will have been in our current location for exactly one year.  Yesterday, my husband broke the news to me that he should be finding out what his fate will be in terms of his last job for the Army.  He has about two and a half years left before it's time to retire and he will have been in his current assignment for three years in September.  That would ordinarily mean that he'd be reassigned to something else.  But again, we just moved here... and we were only in our last location for about 18 months.  And before that, we got barely two years in Germany.

I really would rather not have to move again because it costs us money every time.  The house we live in is inexpensive and we're just now getting in a place where we can save money.  When we were in Germany, I had almost paid off my credit cards entirely, but then we had to move and I ended up buying us a new bedroom suit because I didn't want to sleep on the floor for a month.  We actually really needed the new bed, but I would have liked to have postponed that purchase.

I know, I know... our needs come after the Army's needs.  It's a good thing I'm not a dedicated careerist, though.  Even if I'd wanted to work full time, it would be hard to do so with all these moves!

Adding to that drama is my worry about MacGregor, who's getting old and lumpy and decrepit.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yes, political candidates' religious beliefs DO matter...

Campaigning for the 2012 elections are now in full swing.  Right now, the big news is all about who's gonna be the Republican candidate.  At this point, the contest is between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.  I don't consider myself a Republican or a Democrat.  I usually just vote my conscience, though I do often tend to swing Republican.  This year, I will not be voting Republican because I don't care for any of the candidates.  Oddly enough, the older I get, the more left swinging I seem to be.

I don't like candidates who are too into their religion.  Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are both really into their religions.  And being good members of their respective churches, they are expected to do what their church leaders say.  They will be expected to back laws and policies that support their church's positions.  Mitt Romney, as a Mormon, does not drink alcohol, tea, or coffee, nor does he smoke.  But part of his job as president would be to develop relations in other countries.  He would not be able to bond with his counterparts worldwide over a toast.  Of course, one thing I have noticed among famous Mormons is that the church's rules don't seem to apply to them.  How many times have I seen Marie Osmond or Gladys Knight wearing clothing that would never hide temple garments?  Famous male Mormons are not necessarily expected to go on missions.  None of the singing Osmond brothers served missions, though their eldest brothers, both of whom are deaf, did.  So maybe the church would ease up on Mitt... and give him some slack when it comes to the rules, even if it's not fair to everyone else who is expected to follow the rules.

Rick Santorum scares me, not because he's Catholic, but because he has some really radical right wing ideas.  As a woman, I worry about his influence on laws that pertain to women's health and reproductive rights.  Rick Santorum famously stated that rape victims who get pregnant should see the developing child as a "gift" from God.  I get what he's saying.  He's a religious man who believes that abortion is wrong, no matter the circumstances.  Personally, while I am pro-choice, I happen to agree that if we're going to outlaw abortion because it's morally wrong, then it should be morally wrong in all circumstances, not just the ones involving rape or incest.  But, here's the thing.  I don't believe in forcing women to be pregnant, especially if rape or incest is involved in their pregnancies.  Because of my feelings about a woman's right to control what happens to her own body, I can't get onboard with allowing abortion only in certain situations.  The way I see it, it's an all or nothing issue.  So I won't be voting for Santorum.

It annoys me when the people who support these religious candidates whine about religious bigotry.  Not gonna vote for Mitt because he's a Mormon?  You're just a closed minded bigot.  But consider this.  Most of the folks who whine about bias against Mitt's Mormon beliefs would never dream of voting for a Muslim or an atheist or even a Jew.  If I were ever confronted by a Mormon telling me I'm a bigot for dismissing Mitt because of his religious beliefs, I would ask them if they would consider voting for a Satan worshipper, or a Wiccan, or a Pagan, or an atheist.  It's my guess that they would tell me that the situation isn't the same... maybe because they don't believe their Wiccan, Pagan, Satanic, or atheist beliefs are legitimate.  But my response is that the same could be said about their Mormon beliefs.  Mormons are trying very hard to be seen as "normal", "mainstream", and "acceptable".  But a lot of Mormons don't even know their church's history.  They've been discouraged from ever reading or studying anything that criticizes their beliefs.  Consequently, it comes as a shock to them when they learn that until the not to distant year of 1978, blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood.  They may not have ever learned that their prophet, Brigham Young, said that people in interracial marriages would die on the spot.  They explain that later prophets had further light and knowledge, so everyone should just forget about the racist things Brigham Young said, even though he was considered a mouthpiece of God.

I also have a problem with the fact that the LDS church actually tells its members how to vote.  Consider the whole Proposition 8 situation in California.  The LDS church has a problem with gay people getting married to each other.  What do they do?  They send a letter to all of their members, urging them to use their time, talents, and money to support Proposition 8.  Mitt Romney, as a faithful member of the LDS church, would be expected to do the same as all the other members, would he not?  Granted, the LDS church is not the only institution to pull this kind of stuff, but given that one of the LDS church's most prominent members is running for president, I think this tactic bears scrutiny.

Besides all of that, I think that people try to shame others for using their heads.  We've become so politically correct in this country that it's taboo to ever openly criticize or scrutinize a person's religious beliefs.  And yet, we can inwardly discriminate all we want.  You can't tell me that there aren't people out there who would vote for Mitt or Rick simply because of their religious beliefs.  You can't tell me that there aren't people out there who won't vote for Obama simply because he is a black man.  It's just wrong to be honest about those reasons for voting or not voting.  The truth is, everybody is bigoted to some extent.  It's hypocritical and disingenuous to shame people for being honest about their biases.      

People are going to vote for the person they think is the right person for the job.  And everyone has the right to decide who they think is the right person, without being harassed for their reasons.  I won't be voting for Romney or Santorum because of their religious beliefs because I fear their beliefs might turn into public policies that affect my life.  I don't care what people believe, as long as their beliefs don't affect me personally.  Based on what I've seen and experienced over the years, it's too likely that Mitt or Rick might encroach on my personal liberties.  I could be wrong and I have no plans to renounce my citizenship if either man wins.  But I'm not going to help either of them win with my vote.

For more on this...

Friday, March 9, 2012

I shouldn't be in pictures...

You know that old song, "I Oughta Be In Pictures"?  Well, in my case, the song should be rewritten to "I Shouldn't Be In Pictures".  I generally hate to see pictures of myself unless they've been taken by a photographer or I've done it on my iMac.  I just don't tend to photograph very well.

When my husband and I were on our last vacation, there was a couple that took pictures of us and then sent them to us afterwards.  I still haven't looked at them, mainly because by the time they had arrived in my inbox, I had already seen some pictures of myself from that trip and was feeling "icky" about them.  Maybe that's narcissism at work on my part.  Because pictures are just reflections of what the world sees.

Much to my surprise, I got an email today from the same couple who sent us pictures.  They've made a DVD and put it on YouTube, only at an unlisted address.  They offered to let me see it and I gracefully declined, explaining that my husband and I both cringe when we see ourselves on film.  I hope that wasn't offensive.  I don't mind if other people see it.  I just don't want to see it myself.

Also, they put restrictions on who could see the video.  Told me they were very private and didn't want the video disseminated on the Internet.  That's fine with me.  These are the same people who wanted to take a picture of me in my bathing suit.  I said no and was surprised it wasn't obvious why I said no.  What am I going to do with a picture of myself in a bathing suit?  Put it on the refrigerator?

Come to think of it... maybe that would be wise.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pat Boone and daughter Debby both pitching products to old folks...

I find Christian singer and former teen idol Pat Boone fascinating.  It started when I was a teenager and had an odd obsession with eating disorders.  I read his eldest daughter Cherry's book Starving for Attention, which was really about her bout with anorexia nervosa, but also had lots of information about what it's like to be Pat Boone's daughter.  Having grown up in the shadow of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, I heard a lot about Pat Boone and his ilk when I was growing up.

Later, I read Debby Boone's vastly inferior book So Far, which was a book about what it was like to be Debby Boone... and Pat Boone's daughter.  In that book, I learned that though Debby Boone is a pretty woman with a pretty voice, she doesn't have the most pleasant personality.  And Pat Boone got her back for that by spanking her until she was a legal adult!

Imagine my surprise a few months ago when Pat Boone started showing up on commercials pitching everything from gold to reverse mortgages to special bathtubs for people with mobility issues.  I noticed he was looking a bit pickled.  Must be from all that clean livin' and trying to convince everyone that Obama was really born in Kenya.

It's all kind of a far cry from Pat Boone's stab at heavy metal...

Or even his teen idol heydays... I can't believe teenagers really did used to swoon over him...

Not to be outdone by her father, Debby Boone has recently started showing up pitching "Lifestyle Lifts"...

 She uses her one big hit "You Light Up My Life", a song that was originally recorded by another singer for a movie by the same name.  Debby recorded it, claimed it was really about God, and then years later re-recorded it to pitch Lifestyle Lifts.  Oh well... I guess she needs to make a living like everyone else does.  I just can't believe she's that old... but I shouldn't be surprised having seen her dad.

Incidentally, the Boone girls still occasionally perform.  This is a clip from a performance they did in 2008. Notice how pissy Debby gets when Cherry accidentally tries to sing too early.  Nice.

Everyone's obsessed with the Hoveround guy...

Ever since I posted about Hoveround, titling my post with that silly song the big black guy in the chair sings, my blog has come alive with hits.  And I just wonder, is everybody searching for Hoveround because they think that commercial is as bizarre and annoying as I do?  Seriously... that one search term brings ten times as many hits to my blog as any other does.  I guess people are disappointed when they hit my blog and don't find it, since most of them only stick around for a second.

I finally found the actual ad with the singing black guy...  I don't understand why they play the commercial jingle music that doesn't match his song at the end.  It seems kind of slipshod and sloppy...

One guy plays a prank on Hoveround... here's what happens when you call 'em for info.

I'm not sure if the Hoveround singing black guy actually stimulates sales, but I guess his song is catchy enough.  Based on the hits on my blog, lots of people want to know more about it!

In fact, this particular Hoveround ad just came on as I posted this...  They're really gunning for business!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Better health through blogging, or why I vent my spleen in writing...

Yesterday was a hell of a day.  I woke up to the lights coming back on after thunderstorms had knocked out the power at our house.  We had electricity, but our phone lines were down, so I couldn't get online until late afternoon.

In the midst of the Internet outage, my husband and I took our dogs to the vet for some routine blood tests and a vaccine.  I had actually been more concerned about our older dog, MacGregor, but it turned out he was fine.  Zane, our younger dog, came up positive for ehrlichiosis and now has to take antibiotics for a month.  At some time this month, we have to bring MacGregor in to get his teeth cleaned and a couple of lipomas removed which will hopefully not end up being cancerous.  This treatment will set us back a several hundred bucks.  Actually, given what we used to pay for similar services in the Washington, DC area, I guess I shouldn't complain.  At least at this point, we can more easily afford them than we could when we lived near DC.

Around mid afternoon, I was feeling really frustrated about the Internet situation because I felt like posting. I decided to use the down time constructively by reading a book.  As I was reading the book, I got drowsy and fell asleep.  My husband and dogs joined me and we were all snoozing when the doorbell rang.  It was the phone guy coming to find out what the problem was.  The dogs went berserk, so I was jarred from my nap.  

Then my husband started making ravioli.  Just as he started stuffing the homemade raviolis, Zane tried to jump into my lap from the wrong side and ended up hitting the back of my chair.  I turned around, scolding him for his clumsiness, when I noticed that he was covered in hives!  Poor Zane had a reaction to the vaccine he had received.  So my husband had to rush him to the emergency vet while I stuffed raviolis.  And then I found a critical comment on my blog.  Yesterday was quite a day.  I probably would be writing about yesterday had someone not decided to leave me a comment.

This morning, my husband and I were talking about the original blog post that prompted the critical comment.  The commenter criticized me for writing a long response to a comment I had gotten on an old Epinions review.  I'm guessing that the person who left me the comment was a man, though I could be wrong.  For the sake of this post, I'm going to assume the person is a guy... who perhaps doesn't quite understand the psychology of a woman. 

I am certainly not perfect.  I have a short temper.  I like to swear.  I am easily offended by certain things.   I have a lot to say and not too many people around to say things to.  Blogging is a place for me to communicate.  Sometimes I share interesting or funny things.  Sometimes I vent or kvetch.  Sometimes I feel like being funny or trying to be profound.  Sometimes I don't.  The point is, this blog is my little corner of the Internet and it's essentially for me.  That's right; even though I address my readers, I don't necessarily write for them.  There are other places on the 'Net where I write for other people, but here, I write for myself.

When I get angry or annoyed or feel the need to vent, I often come to my blog and pour out my thoughts.  This morning, when I was talking to my husband about this, it occurred to me that writing down my thoughts is actually pretty healthy.  Consider the other ways I could work out my frustrations...  I could kick the dog or slap my spouse across the face.  I could key someone's car or break a window.  I could binge on alcohol or food.  Granted, there are other healthy ways I could work out my anger.  I could channel that extra energy into something physical, like exercise.  I choose to go the mental route because frankly I'm much better at it.  It's easier for me to write than it is to go jogging, even though jogging might do me more good.  The point is, though, that writing is something I do for me.  For me, it's constructive, even if what I end up writing is full of piss and vinegar that may not be pleasant for other people to read.

I think a lot of folks dislike it when people express anger or annoyance.  Many people fear the power of negative emotions.  They prefer to focus on the positive and ignore the negative.  Frankly, I don't trust people who are outwardly overly positive because they usually come off as fake.  That doesn't mean I enjoy being around complainers, but when someone is overwhelmingly chipper and happy, I wonder how they really feel or if they're being honest with me.  I also tend to get bored with them.

Anger is not an invalid emotion.  It's very healthy to express anger, as long as you do it in at an appropriate time, place, and manner.  Ranting and raving on a blog is, in my mind, much more appropriate than running someone off the road or slashing their tires.  

In any case, I think the commenter who took issue with my ranting and raving actually kind of missed the point of that blog post.  That post wasn't really so much about me being mad at a random drive-by poster on Epinions.  It was more about the process I went through to alleviate my anger.  In that case, I was angry about the poster's inaccurate and overly personal comments.  Maybe some people might think my anger was inappropriate; nevertheless, I felt anger and decided to express it in writing on my blog.  After writing, I felt better.  No one died or had to pay for a new paint job, a new window, or new tires.  In my book, that's success.    

At least I don't vent like this guy does...

Or apologize for it like he does...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

More inane comments...

History repeats itself.

Back in October 2010, I wrote a blog post about a comment left for me on a hotel review I wrote for Epinions.  The comment really pissed me off and I ended up writing a long response to it.  Even as I was writing the response, it occurred to me that I was overreacting, especially given that the commenter was a drive-by.  But when you're an overeducated housewife, you have a lot of time on your hands and a lot of words on your head that itch to come out.  And I felt the need to respond... so I did in grand style, both here and on the review in question.  I admit it was overkill.  Maybe I was ragging that day.

Over a year has passed with not a word from the Peanut Gallery. And then today, I was offline because a storm knocked out our Internet.  I get back online to check my blog and find the following comment...

That seems like an AWFUL lot of time and energy to spend on responding to comments by - as you point out- someone you don't even know/who doesn't know you.
Honestly made my head spin:(

You seem like a nice woman. Why waste your words and your time??Who cares what they think?
I'm rem.inded of the saying" When you argue with fools...."(you risk looking like one):S 
Just sayin....   

Irony much?  ;-)

In all seriousness, thanks for the schooling, but it's my time and energy.  I'll spend 'em the way I see fit, m'kay?  Besides, those kinds of long responses don't actually take me that long or use up that much energy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

"White Knight" syndrome...

Today's topic is one with which I am very familiar.  I am married to a so-called "White Knight".  He is a kind, benevolent, gentle man who has a propensity toward rescuing people, especially women.  There are a lot of guys out there in the world who are "White Knights".  They can be wonderful, supportive partners to people who are not abusive.  However, when they get involved with drama queens who exploit others, they can end up in serious trouble.

While it would be easy for me to just write about my husband's "White Knight" syndrome, I would first rather highlight a situation I recently ran across online on one of the many message boards I troll.  I found a prime example of a post written by a guy who appears to have "White Knight" syndrome.

Here it is, posted on Facebook for all the world to see...  I redacted names to protect the guilty.

I love ______ with everything i have got to give. She is the most amazing woman that i have ever met. She captured my heart with her smile and the sparkle in her eyes. She engaged my mind with her wit, humor and intellect. Wicked Smaht! And she saved my soul and made me want to be a better man...not for her but for me. She is incredibly strong and a wonderful mother to five incredible kids of which i have grown quite fond. She is a PRINCESS and deserves to be treated in that manner. I LOVE YOU _____! Thank you for everything you have done for me.

Now, bear in mind that the guy who wrote this is dating the "princess" who is referred to in this post. And the so-called "princess" is still married to her husband with whom she has five young kids. She has no doubt told this man whose heart she's stolen that her husband is an abusive bastard. And who knows? Maybe he is a bastard. On the other hand, she is still married to him and has been with him for years. I know this because I have followed her story for years and I have seen that she has a flair for embellishment and drama.

"Princess" does indeed have five adorable kids whose pictures she has plastered all over the Internet, along with their full names, birthdays, likes and dislikes, etcetera. She has a lot of people who support her because she comes across as very charismatic. She's also young and attractive and has a way of making people think she's a victim. She also has a long history of financial problems and has posted repeatedly about her many personal dramas. Despite her physical attractiveness and surface congeniality, "Princess" lives a life that seems constantly embroiled in chaos.

Guys with "White Knight" syndrome are drawn like moths to a flame to women like "Princess". She looks good. She has adorable kids. She needs HELP, because her ex or soon-to-be-ex is supposedly an abusive, irresponsible bastard. None of this situation is her fault. And she is perfectly justified in "dating" even though she is still legally married because she is such a victim and none of this is her fault! She conveniently ignores the fact that she's a grown woman with choices and responsibilities, particularly toward her five kids. Instead of taking actions that would get her on the track to recovery and stability, she throws up her hands and wails "RESCUE ME!"

"White Knights" who encounter these types of women get swept up in the drama. They see a helpless damsel who needs them to "step up to the plate" and "save the day". And something inside these "White Knights" prompts them to act, envisioning themselves as heroes. They feel better about themselves. The damsel in distress feels better for having been rescued. The children may or may not like the new arrangement and it may not be the best thing for them, but who cares about them, right? Because it's all about the drama queen who never emotionally matured beyond adolescence and, to a lesser extent, the "White Knight" who has a need to feel needed and a desire to rescue someone. But what happens after the great rescue? Reality sets in.

My husband rescued his ex wife and her eldest son. She showed up on his doorstep in Germany after my husband had a chance encounter with his ex's first husband on a military airplane on the way back to Germany. The three of them had gone to high school together; ex had supposedly married her first husband as a means of escaping her abusive mother. She had a son with him, but later claimed that her first husband was "crazy" and "abusive". When the ex and her child showed up in Germany, she was still married to her ex husband. But she tearfully told my husband tales of woe about her disastrous marriage. She alluded to her first husband's abusive treatment of their son. She rationalized that because her husband was so abusive, she was perfectly justified in cheating on him. She laid it on thick and sweet and my husband, who suffered from low self-esteem and poor self-image as well as an overly large heart, bought her stories hook, line, and sinker. That was his first huge mistake.

My husband and Ex eventually got married once Ex got divorced. My husband was quickly assimilated into the "dad" role to his ex wife's son. By the time the kid was six, his real father was completely out of the picture and didn't even pay child support. Ex also somehow managed to change the boy's name. Meanwhile, Ex, who had claimed to be on birth control, got pregnant within a couple of months of marrying my husband. Bear in mind that at the time, she had no income and my husband was a junior officer in the Army who also wasn't making much money. Getting married, stepping into daddy role, and not insisting on condoms were my husband's second, third, and fourth big mistakes.

A couple of years after my husband's daughter was born, Ex got pregnant again. Again, she claimed that the birth control had failed. My husband's second daughter was born and their finances were about to get worse because Ex wanted my husband to leave the Army. She said she didn't want to live the military lifestyle, moving from place to place. For a number of reasons, my husband's career wasn't going so well back then. He agreed to leave the Army. They moved from Washington State to a town in Arkansas, where my husband had an awful time finding a suitable job. Meanwhile Ex had a lot of trouble holding down employment and would frequently complain about how she didn't want the kids being raised in daycare, hence justifying staying unemployed.

Soon, my "White Knight" husband was doing a lot of the housework, earning most of the money, and taking care of the kids, when he wasn't working second shift in a factory making $25,000 a year. At one point, Ex moved her younger sister in with the family. The younger sister also had no job, but she did have a daughter. Soon, my husband was supporting seven people on a tiny salary. As you might imagine, things went to hell in a hand basket from a financial standpoint. But my husband stayed committed to the woman he had "saved" and their kids together.

When my husband finally wised up and decided he needed to get back into the Army full-time, the marriage quickly crumbled. And before he knew it, my husband's beloved daughters and the "son" he had informally adopted all hated him due to things Ex had told them about him. Ex was also trying hard to ruin my husband's relationships with his parents.

It was during this period of crisis that my husband found me, at the time, very single. Our relationship developed platonically and online over a couple of years, which is probably why we still get along so fabulously. And maybe I have a touch of "White Knight" syndrome myself... because common sense should have told me NOT to get involved with him. However, I did get involved and ended up with a wonderful supportive "White Knight" for a husband. Our marriage has been very good, but it hasn't been without cost. It's taken years to recover from the financial mess my husband was in when he was with his "damsel in distress". He has lost contact with his kids... which may actually be a blessing in disguise, since it means we have no contact with their mother, either.

Meanwhile, the cycle has started anew with Ex's third marriage and two youngest kids. No doubt Ex's current husband has heard all sorts of horrible things about my husband and he's probably dumb enough to believe her without even using his common sense or powers of logic. Ex is uncannily persuasive and believable. Even after all he had been through, my husband was still believing a lot of his ex wife's bullshit when we first got married. It's taken years for him to move past the fog and see the truth. Meanwhile, my husband's "son" has reunited with his biological father, the man who was supposedly so abusive to him when he was a little boy that he needed a name change. "Son", by the way, has changed his name back to what it originally was and has no contact with the man he called "dad" for most of his life.

As for the "White Knight" and "Princess" I wrote of at the beginning of this post, well... I have heard that maybe their relationship has gone a bit rocky. If so, it's probably a blessing for the gallant knight, who will have no doubt dodged a bullet. It's a pity that the Princess's young kids have bonded with this man, since he will no doubt be going away at some point. If he doesn't do it now, it will happen some time in the future. These "damsel" types never like to stay rescued for long. They love the high drama of being in a crisis and being swept to safety by some kind-hearted guy. After a few minutes of being wrapped in a loving blanket of kindness and support and given a nice mug of sweet love to warm them, a true damsel will jump back into the sea of despair, waiting for the next "White Knight" to come along and rescue her.

I have a lot of empathy for "White Knights". I wish they would take some time for self-reflection and save themselves. It's admirable to want to "step up to the plate" and sometimes "White Knights" really can end up rescuing an appreciative woman and her children. But I would caution anyone who feels the need to "rescue" to step back, take a deep breath, and take stock. You can't save anyone who doesn't want to save themselves. And you can't truly replace an absentee parent. Don't kid yourself. Being a "White Knight" is a thankless job that will get you nowhere.

For more on this subject, I recommend reading Dr. Tara J. Palmatier's excellent blog, Shrink4Men.