Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mormon missions...

It's always funny to go on YouTube and watch videos posted by people who have something to say.  I suppose it's sort of like watching a video blog.  One of my favorite ways to pass time is to go on YouTube and watch stuff I remember from the past, like old commercials, TV shows, and PSAs.  However, every once in awhile, I run across someone who posts a video of them making a statement.  Of all the folks who do that, I'd say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most prolific sources of "goddammit, I've got something to say!" videos.

For some reason, a lot of Mormons like to post videos of them opening up their mission calls.  I have to admit that I'm always a little intrigued by this custom because as a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I had sort of a similar experience.  I remember the day I got that big envelope from the Peace Corps, knowing that it was an "invitation to serve".  I wondered where I was going.  I opened the envelope with my parents standing by and found out I was headed to Armenia for two years.  And... I was going to be in the third group going there.  Back then, there was no YouTube and even if it had existed, I wouldn't not have broadcast opening that envelope.  But lots of Mormons like to do that...  check it out!



This one has music and creative video editing.


And this one is described as a "doozie"...

These guys prepare for most of their lives to go on missions.  It's a big part of Mormon culture and, though church members are quick to tell people that missions are not mandatory, most self-respecting young Mormon men plan to go on a mission.  Not going and staying in the church can be the kiss of death to one's social and professional life.  And given that most of these guys are 19 years old when they depart, it makes sense that they'd be excited...  Until they actually get to the mission.

In many cases, they spend their days going door to door, getting yelled at, cussed at, having doors slammed in their faces, and being stood up.  They live in poor conditions... in some cases, even squalid conditions.  Sometimes they come home with emotional issues like depression, PTSD, or culture shock.  Sometimes they end up with chronic medical issues.  Sometimes they even end up getting killed.  On the other hand, some missionaries have a blast, even if they later leave the church.  Anyway, they spend their two years... two years in the prime of their lives... to try to get people to join the LDS church.  It's a big deal to baptize a lot of people.  In many places, especially in Europe, it's very difficult to get people to convert.  But they do it anyway, because it's a rite of passage.

Again... in many ways, the emotional and physical aftermath of a Mormon mission is not unlike what former Peace Corps Volunteers deal with, though, I would venture to say that the Peace Corps is probably a hell of a lot more fun than being a Mormon missionary is.  And no one in the Peace Corps ends up serving in the United States or a Western European country, where life is pretty cushy.  Missionaries and Peace Corps Volunteers serve pretty different purposes, though.  Missionaries go abroad to spread the "gospel", while Peace Corps Volunteers go abroad to share skills, learn about new cultures, and teach about American culture.  And a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers also join as a stepping stone to a good job, either with the government or some other agency that values international experience.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that I hang out on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site.  I don't go there because I am an exMormon.  I go because my husband is an exMormon convert.  There are a lot of ex-missionaries on that site.  A few of them have written books about their experiences on missions for the church.  Here are a couple of books I've read by ex-missionaries...




John Williams' Heaven Up Here is a very poignant, beautifully written account of Williams' time in Bolivia.  Raptor Jesus writes a hilarious, but startling account of his time in Germany.  Both are now ex church members.

In case you were wondering, yes, women can serve missions too.  They don't go until they're 21 years old and they only serve for 18 months.  A lot of LDS women are married by the time they're 21, though... that seems to be how the church likes it.  After all, people in the church are encouraged to start having babies young, even before they finish their educations.


But yeah, sometimes you might run into a "sister missionary".  As a matter of fact, I knew a Mormon couple when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  They were serving with me and both had been Mormon missionaries before their Peace Corps service.  I actually thought they were pretty cool until the husband chastised me for reading Secret Ceremonies, a book by the late notorious ex-Mormon, Deborah Laake.   That book came out in 1994 and Mormons were pissed off about it.  They claimed the book was full of lies.  However, I later re-read it with my ex-Mormon husband and he confirmed it wasn't full of lies.  Indeed, I have a feeling my Peace Corps colleague had never actually read it himself and was just basing his disapproval on what others had said.

Secret Ceremonies is out of print, but you can get your hands on a copy of the book.  Moreover, I would like to tell any TBMs reading this post that I was not turned off of Mormons by reading Laake's book.  What really gave me pause was when a TBM told me I was wrong to read it.  And I didn't start actively disliking Mormonism until I saw it being used as a tool to separate my husband from his kids.  Even though I know my husband's former wife would have alienated the kids regardless, it's not lost on me that Mormon beliefs and doctrines were very handy tools used to facilitate her efforts.  After all, people who leave the church are often shunned or otherwise maligned...



And if you want to read about Mormon shunning, here's a good book about that...



In fact, here are some quotes from Suddenly Strangers, a book written by two brothers who decided to leave their church...  This comes from my review of the book, which I posted on Epinions.com.  

"On page 134, Brad Morin quotes a brother as saying the following when he found out about Morin's decision:

I am going to be honest with you. I don't ever want to talk to you again. I don't want to see you again. I don't want any letters or e-mail from you. If you write a letter for the family newsletter, I will not send it out. I don't want you coming to visit on the nineteenth. I still love you, but I don't ever want to see you again.

A brother-in-law e-mailed the following after Chris Morin announced his decision to quit:

Just heard from Chris, and respectfully speaking, of course, I'm not so sure you didn't exert some influence there... I think you need to allow people to make their own decisions without your influence... Choices about religion lead to divorce, bad family feelings, and really crappy family reunions, otherwise known as dysfunctional families. People who leave the church end up with huge chips and a need to convert others to their new found philosophy. (137)

It struck me as mildly ironic that this brother-in-law was so quick to chastise Brad Morin for not letting Chris Morin make his own choices. It seemed to me that the brother in law was really selling Chris Morin short, as if he were a child who couldn't think for himself and had to be talked into coming to the same conclusion his brother had.

But in my opinion, the most offensive missive came from a brother who wrote the following to both Brad and Chris:

The thing that scares me most is your current beliefs. Those beliefs have the capability to destroy me and my family, and anyone who subscribes to those beliefs... You must not say anything to my wife or children about Joseph Smith or any prophet of the church, or any church leader or any church writings, or any church history... We read scriptures in our house. We say prayers in our house. If you visit us you will observe at least one of those maybe both. If we visit your houses we expect to be able to give thanks for the food and to read scriptures even if in our bedroom... If you cannot make this promise to me or if you make this promise to me and break it, my family will not associate (Face to face) with yours... Is this drastic? You bet it is. I have everything I have ever wanted, to loose [lose], if I am deceived. (139)

The pervasive fear that comes from these emails is very surprising to me, but what surprised me even more was when one of Brad's very intelligent and fair-minded friends produced his own reasons for staying faithful to the church. And then he followed up by stating, "...if it isn't true, I don't want to know it" (149). Brad Morin compared this statement to the attitude some people have about not wanting to face reality, particularly when it's distasteful. He likened it to someone who doesn't want to know they have cancer. It just feels better to ignore evidence and pretend that everything is okay."

I've said it before and I'll say it again...  I think people should do what works for them.  If you happen to be LDS and are reading this blog, totally happy in your faith, more power to you.  And maybe you have thought about why "gentiles" don't want to join the church.  Maybe you haven't.  You shouldn't assume, though, that people who don't want to be LDS are uninformed or misinformed just because they have a negative perception of your faith.  I've never been LDS, but I've hung around quite a few TBMs and exmos and am married to a former Mormon.  I've read a lot of books, too... not just anecdotal accounts, but some scholarly works.  I know enough to know that I don't agree with Mormonism... but I do sort of find church members interesting and even relate to those who have done missions abroad.     




Monday, August 27, 2012

The world is awash with overly helpful people...

If you're a regular reader of this blog (and I know there are a few of you out there), you may have read my past posts about "overly helpful people".  Those posts were about a specific person in my online life who repeatedly annoyed me by treating me as if I've got shit for brains.  I'm happy to report that Ms. Overly Helpful hasn't been so annoying lately, mainly because I deleted her from Facebook and the Web site where we used to interact has gone kerfluey.

However, because I seem to need "special help", a couple of other overly helpful folks have come out of the woodwork.  People who are overly helpful seem to pop up like gray hairs.  You pluck one from your life and two more show up in its place.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I ranted about Dr. Lisa Masterson on The Doctors.  I posted on Facebook about how it annoys me when people try to guilt men into having vasectomies.  One of my friends commented that she had guilted her husband into having one... but then added that he was happy to go under the knife.  That's not at all what I was talking about, of course.  I'm not saying that men shouldn't have vasectomies; I'm saying that they should not be pressured to have one.  There is a difference.

So I mentioned what happened with my husband and how he ended up getting snipped under duress.  The discussion was going well, until one particularly "helpful" person said this...

"...it's really none of my business, but you've put it out there about your husband and his exwife. Ahhmmm, with my own experience, and not knowing the exwife or your husband...like everybody, people try to make the best decision they can with the information they have at that time. There is no shame in it, and there are decisions that can not be reversed. It's not healthy to hold grudges. Your Husband must have married her for a reason. It's as much his fault as hers for his feelings. He can look back and blame her (along with you) but it's over and done with now."

I won't lie. This comment pissed me off on several levels. First off, the commenter admits that it's none of her business, then says she doesn't know the people involved, other than what I've posted about it. Then she applies a rather general statement about how people "do the best they can at the time" and accuses me of holding a grudge against my husband's ex wife.

Folks, it's true I do hold a grudge against my husband's ex, but my feelings about men being pressured to get fixed have very little to do with her. I don't think it's right to pressure someone to have elective surgery that they may end up regretting. I would have that opinion even if my husband and his ex wife had never met. It's true that my husband's situation got me thinking about the issue in the first place, but ultimately, my feelings about coerced vasectomies have nothing to do with my grudge against his ex.

Moreover, I have to wonder what this commenter hoped to accomplish. Does she think that advising me to "let it go" will result in a suddenly peaceful psyche? Like, I just needed someone to tell me that because I certainly couldn't come up with that solution on my own. I really felt belittled by that comment, especially since it came from someone who doesn't really know my backstory. Believe me, it would be great if I could simply forget about all the hurt and anxiety surrounding a person who did her best to drive a wedge between me and my husband and alienated his kids so much that they disowned their father and his side of the family. But healing has to take place in its own time. It's not productive to tell someone to just "get over it", especially when you're not the one who is living with their pain.

In any case, I left my "friend" a rather measured response, ending with the observation that my mental health is my own to abuse. She told me to "have at it", which was probably a much wiser suggestion than "get over it" was.

So then I decided to write about this issue on another forum... I laid out my thoughts in an essay, which was mainly about why I don't think people should be pressuring men into getting snipped. I also wrote about my encounter with the "overly helpful" friend and my observations about her comment about my mental health, which I didn't think had much to do with the original topic.

I got a comment from another "helpful person" who apparently decided that I must not understand how the Internet, and Facebook in particular, works...

on the subject of Facebook, when one puts a status out there, the nature of FB is such that all who see it really are invited to pipe in (same as a comment thread, or a message board, or in an open meeting).

And, as happens in every one of those forums, people will sometimes say inappropriate things, things others would rather not hear, off-topic things, things that are just plain wrong, things that are offensive, etc etc.

It's the nature of 'conversation' - once a topic is tossed open to others, the starter frequently can't reign it back in anymore... It has a life of its own.

My point - if you're going to post a status on FB, people will pipe in. All kinds of people (although you can control who has access to your posts). It's the nature of FB.


Duh.  Of course I know that people sometimes make inappropriate or unhelpful comments.  In fact, I would venture to say that this overly helpful person is guilty of doing just that.  Like most people beyond puberty, I don't need to be told how Internet communication works.  I've been using the Internet on a daily basis for well over a decade.  Moreover, I've been on the planet for 40 years.  This kind of shit doesn't just happen online; it also happens in person.  So you could say that I've encountered inconsiderate people more times than I can count in my 40 years.  I don't need an explanation of how that works because I've seen it happen over and over.  My response, again, was measured.  I basically said that I know that sometimes people say inappropriate things on Facebook.  It also happens on other sites.  ;-)

This person also seems to be telling me to "get over it", which again, is belittling.  Obviously, if I wanted to "get over it", I wouldn't have posted in the first place.  The issue was important enough to me to write about it.  You don't have to agree that it's important, but you also don't have to invalidate my feelings by telling me to "get over it".  If that's how you feel, it's probably more helpful not to say anything at all.

Of course this situation might seem like a minor issue to most people.  That doesn't negate my right or ability to bitch about it if I want to.  To be fair, it also doesn't negate other peoples' rights to comment about the bitching.  I'd just appreciate it if people wouldn't try to feed their egos by treating me like I'm dumb.

No one likes to have their feelings discounted.  Most people would rather you didn't insult their intelligence.  I don't have a problem with people who genuinely want to help, but I do get annoyed by those who are "helpful" by being condescending.  You might think I'm overreacting.  If you were to simply tell me that, I'd probably agree with you and laugh.  But responding to me as if I don't have a basic understanding of adult communication is insulting and isn't likely to be received in a spirit of fun.  I'm not dumb; I'm just kind of neurotic and overly sensitive.  What really sucks, though, is that if you call people on their condescension, they treat you like you're being oversensitive and again, just need to "get over it" and "let it go".

I think "overly helpful people" often tend to be people who have a need to feel needed and helpful.  They bolster themselves by trying to appear above it all.  I think a lot of them want to be looked up to and admired for their "wisdom".  And those who are actually wise should be looked up to for that reason.  However, it's not that wise to state the obvious, offer uninformed or unasked for opinions, or try to psychoanalyze another person that you don't actually know that well.  I'd venture to guess that most people don't appreciate acquaintances telling them how the world works or offering them an amateur psychoanalysis.  If I wanted that, I'd make an appointment with the appropriate mental health professional who has at least been vetted by a state health agency and has a valid license.    

Anyway... I suppose the solution is to become a complete recluse and get off the Internet... Or at least start posting uninteresting status updates on Facebook.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Dr. Lisa on "The Doctors" pisses me off with shaming...

This morning, my husband and I were watching The Doctors and they did a segment on an older couple who had just had their third child many years after their first two were born.  Mom was older and had decided she was done having kids.  She asked Dr. Lisa Masterson about getting her tubes tied.

Dr. Lisa, who was holding the woman's baby girl and bouncing her on her knee, first quipped that the baby was so beautiful and was she sure she wanted to be done?  Then she fixed her gaze on the woman's husband and basically told him that he should get a vasectomy because it's cheaper and easier for men to get "fixed" than it is women.  And then she added with a note of reproach, "Your wife had three beautiful kids for you.  The least you can do is have this surgery for her."

I've ranted about this subject before.  It tends to be kind of a hot topic, though surprisingly enough, a lot of people, especially women, see no problem in telling the guy that it's his "duty" to get fixed for the woman who had kids for him.  But just a minute, ladies.  How would you like it if your husband demanded that you get your tubes tied?  What if his doctor told you, "After all the money he's brought in to support you, don't you think you owe it to him to get your tubes tied?"

I bet if that ever happened in a western country, feminists would be outraged.  There would be protests, blog posts, articles, and much gnashing of the teeth!  People would be flabbergasted that anyone might suggest to a woman that she ought to give up her fertility for the man's sake.  And yet, many of these same people have no problem telling a man that it's his duty to voluntarily give up his fertility for the woman's sake.

Yes, I know that pregnancy is hard for many women.  I understand that once the egg is fertilized, it's the woman's job to deal with it.  But there are many, many ways to prevent pregnancy that don't involve permanent sterilization.  And since divorce is so common in the United States, one should never assume that love's bloom won't one day fade.

Mind you, I am not saying that men shouldn't have vasectomies.  If a man wants to get snipped, that's his prerogative.  What I'm saying is that no one should use emotional blackmail to get a man to have a vasectomy.  It should be his decision entirely what he wants to do with his body.  I expect my husband to have respect for my decisions involving my body and I give him the same respect when it comes to decisions he makes involving his body.        

It's true that I started thinking about this topic because my husband's ex wife pushed him into getting fixed.  I was pretty pissed off that he'd had a vasectomy at his ex wife's insistence and then she went on to have two more kids.  My husband, on the other hand, got a vasectomy reversal that ultimately didn't lead to pregnancy.

At this point, I'm okay with not having kids.  I'm 40 years old and getting too old for the job.  In fact, it's even occurred to me that it's not a bad thing that I won't be bringing an innocent child into today's world.  It still really chaps my ass when some woman feels it's perfectly fine to pressure her husband into having surgery that he will have to live with.

Granted, a lot of men probably are fine with getting fixed; those are not the ones I'm writing about.  It's the ones who cave to pressure from their wives as a means of avoiding a fight I'm writing about, the ones who feel they have to cooperate with "family politics".  Vasectomies are elective surgical procedures.  It's true that they are mostly very safe and there are rarely any risks to having one done.  However, no surgical procedure is without risks.  There have been men who have regretted having vasectomies.  And, having watched my husband have a vasectomy reversal, I can report that the reversal surgery is a lot more involved, a lot riskier, more expensive, and takes more recovery time.  That's reason enough for me to believe that it should be entirely up to the man to decide if he wants to get snipped.  Women should not be pressuring them to get snipped... unless they would like the same treatment.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Honey do...

My husband is taking three days off this week because he has leave he has to use or lose.  We had some chores that needed to be done, so I got out my "honey do" list.

Yesterday, we took my car to get serviced and ended up getting a new tire put on.  I drive a MINI, which has run-flat tires, so that was quite costly.  Then we went to Williams-Sonoma to trade in some spent gas canisters we use with our Penguin (soda maker).  We ended up buying a mini pie maker, which we used to make a very tasty and unusual dinner.

Today, we're hauling some junk to the dump.  We have lots of boxes, broken furniture, and an old rusty grill that need to be disposed of.  My husband is renting a U-Haul to accomplish this...

Tomorrow, I suppose the grass will finally get cut.  We've had a lot of rain lately, so I haven't been able to mow.  Plus, we ran out of gas, so we'll need to pick some up before that little chore can be done.

We're hoping to take a trip to the beach before the summer is over, so I guess I'll plan that.

I suppose after all of these chores get done, I'll break out my "honey do me" list...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

She's baaaaack....

Last year, I blogged about Melanie Paxson, aka Melanie Deanne Moore, aka "The Commercial Queen", an actress who seems to specialize in making commercials.  Last year, she was on an irritating Yoplait commercial, pitched State Farm and Progressive Insurance, and Ace Hardware.  I've also seen her hawking Milo's Kitchen dog treats...



And now she's on a Target commercial, showing off her singing chops...


Oddly enough, when I watch this ad, I can barely understand what Melanie is singing about.  If I were a mom about to enroll my kid in school, I wouldn't know what Melanie suggests.  It seems like she's not on quite so many ads this year, but the Target ad is run pretty frequently, complete with Melanie's rework of the Go Go's 1980s era hit "We Got The Beat".

Incidentally, have you noticed that a lot of ads these days feature hit songs from the 80s?  I guess it's because those of us who were kids in the 1980s are now approaching middle age and have kids, jobs, and shit...  In my case, all I have is "and shit", but it seems to work for me.

Seriously, according to imdb.com, Melanie and I were born the same year.  I'm glad to see that she's made a go of it as a commercial actress.  There's no shame in making a living.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Missy, the German Shepherd who inspired a custody battle...

This morning, I read with interest a news story on Yahoo! about a dog named Missy who went hiking with her owner, Anthony Ortolani.  Ortolani had taken Missy on Mount Bierstadt in Colorado, a challenging peak that isn't considered the most difficult, but is not recommended for inexperienced hikers or their pets.  According to Ortolani, a storm came in and he was concerned about another hiker who was with him.  Missy's paws were badly injured and she was too heavy for him to carry.  So he left her there on the mountain to weather the storm alone, but apparently never went back to save her.  Missy ended up spending eight long days hungry, thirsty, and injured.

On August 11, Scott Washburn and his wife, Amanda, stumbled across Missy, who was cowering behind some rocks.  She was hungry, dehydrated, and badly injured.  The Washburns tried to patch her up with their first aid kit and gave her some water.  Then they hiked back to the ranger station to ask for help.  The ranger stated that, regrettably, the Forest Service couldn't rescue the dog.

So the Washburns took to the Internet and begged for help.  A group of seven people, mostly strangers, hiked up to where Missy was and got her off the mountain.  The hikers put her in a backpack and carried her down, then took her to a veterinarian.  Miraculously, Missy survived the ordeal with no permanent damage, but now Anthony Ortolani has come out of the woodwork and wants his dog back.

As a dog owner myself, I am appalled that Ortolani simply left his dog on the mountain to die.  In fact, I am appalled that he took her up there in the first place.  Perhaps he was ignorant about the mountain and the potential dangers up there.  Still, it's hard for me to fathom hiking on a dangerous mountain with a beloved pet and just deserting her in a weak and injured condition.  It also amazes that Ortolani now has the nerve to ask for the dog back, after he threw her away like so much trash.  He left that dog on a mountain side to die.

Did he even thank the seven people who went back up to rescue his dog?

The case is now in the hands of the local animal control.  I have a sinking feeling that Ortolani might get his dog back.  She was presumably well cared for before that fateful hike and it sounds like things got bad quickly.  In the same position, I'm sure many people who would have decided to leave the dog.  However, it's inconceivable to me that Ortolani never went back for her and apparently didn't even leave her any food or water... or a note to someone who might find her.  Was she even wearing a collar?

I do think Anthony Ortolani deserves to face animal cruelty charges.  I also think that in a just world, Scott and Amanda Washburn would get to adopt Missy.  Clearly they have a much bigger heart for her than her original owner does.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TDY again...

My husband is taking another trip to my home state.  This time, I'm staying home because the prospect of spending several days in a hotel doesn't appeal to me... especially the hotel where my husband is heading tonight.  It's the same one we stayed in last month.

I don't need to go back to Williamsburg to spend more money at the outlets.  I don't need to spend several days eating restaurant food.  The dogs would rather not hang out at the kennel for several days. So here I sit.

I've actually started writing some fiction.  I used to write short stories a lot when I was younger.  In fact, that's partly how my husband and I met.  He read some of my fiction and sort of became a fan.  Since we've been married, I stopped writing fiction, mainly because I wasn't as inspired.  Back when I used to write fiction every day, I mostly did it to stave off boredom.  I am frequently bored now, but I don't have anything inspiring me...

But I did start writing last week and words once again flowed from my fingers.  Instead of writing smutty fiction like I used to, I started writing about this situation with my husband's ex wife that has consumed us for the past decade.  It's not a story I necessarily want to write, but it's in my head.

A lot of people have told me that I should move on... and I have tried.  But I feel like I can't move on until I get this out of me.  In all honesty, I don't know how my husband does it.  I know he hurts everyday for the loss of his kids.  So I'm writing about it.  I don't know if I will share the end product with anyone.  Maybe I'll post it here.

In the meantime, writing that fictionalized story will help pass time.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I hate the Oikos ads...

Earlier today, my husband and I were watching a rerun of The Golden Girls and there was a commercial break.  We happened to catch the latest commercial for Dannon's Oikos, which is their version of Greek yogurt.  This ad campaign has been featuring John Stamos, who is supposedly God's gift to women.




So this is the ad we saw this morning...  Notice these two women are eating Oikos yogurt.  The blonde tells the woman in the tank top that eating Oikos will make their husbands look like John Stamos.  Just before they take a bite, we catch a glance at their hapless spouses, two hefty guys who make an ill advised fashion statement by wearing Speedos and shorts with a Hawaiian shirt.  What the hell is the point of this ad?  That a woman who eats Oikos is going to find her husband more attractive?  Seriously?  What a dumb concept.  And imagine the furor that would erupt if the concept were reversed and showed two husbands eating Oikos to make their wives look like Melina Kanakaredes.



This one is the least offensive of the three Oikos ads I've seen...





I already didn't like this Oikos ad, which depicts some woman headbutting John Stamos for teasing her with yogurt.  Again, if the roles were reversed and John headbutted the woman, there would be outrage aplenty!


Truly... it's time to turn off the TV, but I'll never do it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Abusive pig on Dr. Phil this morning...

Yeah, I know it's time to turn off the TV.  I didn't this morning, though.  I was sort of halfway watching an old episode of Dr. Phil on OWN and out comes this couple.  I don't remember the woman's name, but I think her husband's name was Rick.  It really should have been Dick.  Because this guy was an enormous dick if I've ever seen one.

So Rick and his wife had been married for some time and had kids together.  They are both obese.  Rick weighs about 270 pounds, sixty pounds more than he did on his wedding day.  The wife has also put on a significant amount of weight, though she is actually less obese than her husband is.

Rick is disgusted by his wife for being fat.  He calls her a fat whore and refuses to have sex with her.  He won't even let her touch him.  He points out other women to his kids and asks them if they'd like the other woman to be their "new mommy".  Rick doesn't share finances with his wife.  He expects her to do all the housework and shopping.  His wife resorts to raising money by selling stuff on eBay.

I'm looking at Rick's wife, who, despite being heavy is quite pretty.  I look at Rick, who might be attractive if he didn't have such an unappealing personality.  I am shocked and dismayed at the way he talks to and about his wife while she sits next to him on Dr. Phil's couch.  As I watch him talking on the boob tube, I find myself yelling at the screen and calling him a "fucking creep".  I have a visceral reaction to blatantly abusive people... I sort of become abusive myself, even though I'm in the privacy of my own home.

Rick puts pictures of attractive women on his exercise machine, which he uses as motivation to work out so he can slim down and find someone more in keeping with his "standards".  All I can think of is how some poor, unsuspecting woman might hook up with this guy, who tells his wife to have sex outside of the marriage if she needs intimacy.

I wonder why they don't get a divorce.  It turns out Rick fears having to pay child support and doesn't think his wife would raise the kids properly.  Having been married to a divorced guy myself who has lost contact with his kids, I can sort of see Rick's point... except for the fact that he's so abusive.

It makes me sad for his wife and their kids... and anyone else who runs into this asshole.  No one should have to spend their lives married to someone who demoralizes them all the time.  It's no wonder Rick's wife comforts herself with food.  Sounds like there's not much else pleasant about her life.

I hope she got a divorce.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Arrogant all knower on Dr. Phil this morning...

So I was sitting here drinking a cup of coffee this morning, watching Dr. Phil on OWN...  Today's episode was about a Facebook group called "30 Reasons Girls Should Call It A Night".  Basically, it's a Facebook group that shows young women getting drunk, throwing up, collapsed in varying stages of undress, and just basically making asses of themselves.

I wouldn't necessarily approve of joining this Facebook group, nor do I think it's cute or funny to post drunken photos on the Internet.  However, I am a also big proponent of free will.

So one of the guests on Dr. Phil was a woman named Amanda.  Amanda is obviously very intelligent and assertive.  She's dressed professionally and taking some poor 17 year old girl to task for being a member of this group and posting pics on the Web.  Amanda speaks like a litigator and uses a lot of 50 cent words as she talks to the 17 year old, who really seems like she just wants to have fun and thinks posting drunk pics is an enjoyable pastime.  Amanda comes off as an all knowing jackass.

Granted, the 17 year old girl is a bit naive and dumb, but who isn't at that age?  While Amanda might have been trying to do the girl a solid by giving her some unsolicited advice, it's my view that her well-stated and well-intentioned advice is going to alienate people rather than clue them in.  That being said, it's pretty obvious that Amanda is a high achiever who will probably go far in life.  She speaks like someone who attended an Ivy League school and is obviously on the track to success.  The other young lady seems to have more beauty than brains.  Maybe she's not interested in a career?  And what the hell is wrong with that?

As for posting drunk photos on the Internet, personally, I don't think it's a smart idea.  More and more people are relying on the Internet to check up on other folks.  Everyone from potential employers to potential suitors are Googling your name, looking for information that might expose your weaknesses.  Besides, why would you want other people to see you passed out and/or puking?

But even as I point these things out, I also think that people should be entitled to some privacy.  I also think people should be smart and protect their privacy...  But most of all, I think Amanda needs to come down off her high horse.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Today's Pet Peeve...

I know I already blogged this morning, but there's an issue that's come up this evening that has me agitated enough to post again.  It concerns Facebook.  Given the amount of angst Facebook seems to cause for me, perhaps this is a sign that I should just delete my account.  But Facebook allows me to keep in touch with my friends and when you're an overeducated housewife living in a rural town, that can be a pretty important thing.  So here goes...

I've about had it up to here with people who feel the need to post pictures of people or animals who are sick, disfigured, or injured and demand that I "like" the photo.  I'm less annoyed by posts that are about legitimate issues like domestic violence or cruelty to animals, though some of those photos can be pretty tasteless.  The pictures that irritate me the most are the endless photos of children who have some kind of rare genetic affliction or injury that somehow makes them look freakish.

These are the kids that, were you a small child with no social restraints, you might point and laugh at or even gape at in horror.  Invariably, someone posts a picture of this person with a demand that I "like" it or comment about how beautiful the photo is.  I will admit, at times these photos are indeed beautiful.  But I think it's in poor taste for people to post random photos of people with diseases or catastrophic injuries and insist that other people "like" it.  I doubt the subject of that photo knows or even cares that thousands of people on Facebook "like" their unusual appearance.  In fact, it's been my experience that people in that situation would prefer that other people simply treat them like they would anyone else.

It's getting to the point at which I feel like some of my Facebook friends are trying to shame others into political correctness and social sensitivity...


If you don't "like" these pictures of people who are different because they have some catastrophic disease, you are somehow intolerant of them.  But in my opinion, these photos have less to do with promoting acceptance of people who are different and more to do with people making themselves feel better by patronizing others.  It's like, "See?  I'm a kind and evolved human being.  I accept the horribly disfigured people in these pictures not only as normal, but beautiful.  I am capable of seeing inner beauty.  I don't judge based on appearances."

Not so fast.  Everyone judges to some extent.  And I don't have to think that a person with a disability or an illness is physically beautiful to have compassion for them or even to love them.  I don't have to see photo after photo of a maimed child or bloodied animal to maintain my humanity.  Moreover, the practice of posting these photos for all on Facebook to see smacks of socially acceptable gawking.  It's as if these posters can't point and laugh at the photo without looking like jerks, so they pose as morally superior boosters instead.

One or two of these photos making the rounds in a day, okay... I can take it.  But tonight, within just minutes, a friend posted at least three different photos of different people with abnormalities that made them look... well... freakish.  And they were sure to like the photos and comment on how incredible these people were, simply owing to the fact that they had the misfortune to be born with a genetic disease and posed for a picture. While I am aware that some people are insightful enough to see the inherent gifts that can come from being born "imperfect" (like anyone is perfect), I can pretty much guarantee that no sane person wishes to be born with or have a child born with a disfiguring disease, no matter what challenging life lessons the victims themselves or those around them might end up gleaning just by knowing them.

Let's face it.  People can pay plenty of lip service about being open-minded and accepting of people who look different, but in practice, a lot of them are really hypocrites.  It's been my observation that many of the people who "like" photos of small children with disfiguring disguises are often the same folks who think nothing of posting cruel comments about photos of people who happen to be noticeably fat or don't quite fit society's definition of attractive, but aren't quite at the point at which they could be called "freakish".  And God help the people in the photos who are both fat AND ugly, but not afflicted with the disease du jour.   Because apparently, those people have no "excuse" for being different, right?

These kinds of photographs are less about edifying the special person posing for the pictures and more about making the person who posts them feel superior.  And that, in my opinion, is tasteless, pointless, and ultimately rather hurtful.  It's one thing if it's a photo of someone who has done something newsworthy, has given permission for their photo to be posted, and will be able to share in the kinder comments some people might post.  It's another when it's a picture of someone you don't even know who would probably prefer not to have the attention directed at them or wouldn't know or care if other people thought they were "beautiful" for having a disease that made them look strange.

And don't even get me started on the horrifying photos of animals who have been abused...  Talk about exploitation.  It's vulgar, tacky, and probably calls for defriending...



    

Monday, August 6, 2012

My husband is plumb nuts about me...

We had a nice enough weekend.  Saturday, we went to a local brewery and tasted some very tasty suds.  Afterwards, we went to Whole Foods and bought some neat products with fewer chemicals.  Then we went to Trader Joes, where I picked up several boxes of frozen "crack n' cheese"...

Okay, so it's really mac n' cheese and totally something I shouldn't be eating, but I can't resist it.  Macaroni and cheese is a comfort food.  I make a mean batch from scratch, but Trader Joe's frozen mac n' cheese beats mine because it takes less time and has lots of gooey sauce.  I also got some Belgian dark chocolate pudding.  Yes, I like my comfort food!

We spent yesterday listening to music and hanging out.  I caught my husband smiling at me lovingly several times.  I finally asked him if he was nuts about me.  He answered in the affirmative.  I feel so lucky.  We get along amazingly well.  For almost ten years, we've enjoyed a wonderful friendship along with love.

One thing I have definitely done right in this life is choose the right husband...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lifeguard gets billed $2600 for saving boy's life...

That's a pretty inflammatory title, isn't it?  Looks like some poor lifeguard was stuck with a big bill just for doing the right thing.  I thought the same thing, which is why I clicked on the link to the Yahoo! story about 17 year old John Clark, a trained lifeguard from Vancouver, Washington.

Clark was nearby when a 12 year old boy got caught in the surf off the coast of Oregon.  Clark ran into the surf and swam out to him.  He calmed the boy and kept him afloat until the two could be picked up by a watercraft.  Once on dry land, Clark and the 12 year old were taken by ambulance to a hospital.  According to the article, Clark believed this was standard procedure, which it was, since Clark is still legally a minor.  

The article implied that Clark wasn't seriously injured during the rescue and was simply "checked out" at the hospital.  What Clark didn't realize is that he-- or more likely his parents-- would be billed for the ambulance ride, the emergency room visit, and the physician who examined him.  The grand total was over $2600, with the largest portion coming from the 15 mile $1900 ambulance ride.

I read with interest the outraged comments from the peanut gallery.  It seems that a lot of Yahoo! readers don't think the lifeguard should have had to pay for the ambulance ride, emergency room, or physician's services.  As a person with a background in healthcare administration, I just had to scratch my head.  If the lifeguard wasn't billed for his medical care, exactly who should have been?  Do people really expect hospitals to just hand out free health care to people who happen to get sick or injured doing good deeds?  I'd like to know whose job it would be to determine which situations should be billable.  Seems like a policy like that could quickly turn into a very slippery slope.

The fact that John Clark rescued the 12 year old is irrelevant to the bean counters at the hospital.  People end up at the hospital for all kinds of reasons.  Sometimes it's their own fault.  Sometimes it's not.  Sometimes they get hurt or sick doing a good deed.  Sometimes they get hurt or sick committing crimes.  The circumstances that brought John Clark to the emergency room were neither here nor there.  The fact is, he did present at an ER for care.  Like everyone else, he had to be billed for services rendered.  And it doesn't matter to the bean counters who actually pays the bill, as long as it gets paid or a reasonable settlement is made.  

Now, if this incident had happened while Clark was on the job, I would imagine the related expenses would be eligible for worker's compensation.  Or hopefully, as a 17 year old, he is still covered by his parents' health insurance.  If not, the state would likely pick up the bill via Medicaid.  In any case, I don't expect that he, personally, would be on the hook for $2600, even if he was uninsured.

Besides, hospitals deal with bad debt all the time; that's why it costs so much to go to them for medical treatment.  As it stands now, two people have donated the money to pay Clark's bill, which is a nice, but probably unnecessary, gesture.

But that headline is an attention grabber, isn't it?  

    

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My take on the Chick-fil-A controversy...

I'm gonna be totally honest.  I really don't care that much about the hullabaloo surrounding Chick-fil-A.  I first heard about all the anti-gay accusations on the Recovery from Mormonism board, where there are many gay and lesbian posters.  Lots of people are offended that Chick-fil-A apparently donates money to anti-gay causes.

I don't even remember the last time I ate a Chick-fil-A sandwich.  If I'm gonna eat chicken, I prefer it on the bone, not between a bun.  Besides the fact that I'm not a big chicken sandwich fan, I also hate their creepy ad campaigns that have cows demanding that I "Eat mor chikin."  Not only is the ad creepy, it kinda promotes bad spelling.  So that's another reason I'm not a Chick-fil-A fan.

I imagine if I did enjoy Chick-fil-A more, I might be persuaded not to eat there because of their conservative values.  After all, I haven't shopped at Wal-Mart in years in part because I hate the way they affect small businesses and their huge buildings end up being blights on small towns.  I also hate the way Wal-Mart screws over its workers.  I think that if people don't agree with business's values, they have every right not to do business with them.

However, while I support a person's right to boycott a business, I don't support wholesale banning of businesses because of their values.  People have the right to have or not have an opinion.  They have the right to vote with their wallets.    

As I've learned on Facebook, today is "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day", and lots and lots of people have apparently decided to dine there in a show of solidarity.  So Chick-fil-A is not hurting for business.  Plenty of people just plain don't care that they support traditional families and anti-gay organizations.  They just want their chicken.

I am a big believer that, by and large, people have the right to their opinions.  Yes, I know that sometimes I get pissy with people who are judgmental toward me with the things I write on this blog. I never claimed to be perfect and it's hard not to get pissy when someone makes a negative comment directed at me, personally.  But generally speaking, once my head cools, I recognize a person's right to their own opinions, even if they are offensive to me.  And while I, personally, am not against gay marriage, I understand that other people are against it and have their own reasons for their opinions, whether or not I think their reasons are valid.  Freedom of choice and speech is the American way.

Frankly, I think this whole Chick-fil-A debacle has backfired.  But people do love a cause and it can be fun to get riled up about things, I guess.  To me, it's very simple.  If I don't agree with a company's values or don't enjoy their products, I don't do business with them.  But if my neighbor likes 'em, who am I to judge?  I think it's smartest to let people vote with their feet, especially for an issue like this one. Something tells me Chick-fil-A will survive this crisis, whether or not I choose to eat there.

 

August at last!

I'm always happy to see the dawning of a new month.  It's not just because each new month brings pay day, either.  The older I get, the less I enjoy summer.  It's been unbearably hot where I live; the ticks have been vicious; and I have to cut the grass in our big yard.  When August arrives, that means there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  Next month is September and that means the heat will start to abate; the ticks will be less of a nuisance; and the lawn mowing will finally cease.  

It doesn't seem like this summer is quite as bad as last summer was.  I remember sweltering outside as I pushed the lawnmower around on our sandy yard.  Or maybe last year I cared more about keeping the lawn cut.  This year, it doesn't seem to matter as much.  It could also be that we've had a couple more road trips, which breaks things up nicely.

Sheesh... anyway, enough about the weather.

My dog, MacGregor, is getting older and has been having accidents in the house.  Actually, he generally has just has one every couple of days or so, always in the same place.  For awhile, I thought maybe it was our other dog, Zane, peeing in the hallway.  But then my husband caught MacGregor sneaking off.  And this all had to happen in July, which is the month in which we found out our two former dogs, who have since gone to the Rainbow Bridge, were sick.

I took MacGregor to the vet, where he got checked out.  Found out he's gained a few pounds, which doesn't surprise me, because he has arthritis and doesn't want to move as much as he used to.  Had his urine tested and the results were mostly normal, except for a trace of blood.  So now that's being sent off to a lab for a closer look.

The vet thinks maybe MacGregor's developing kidney issues, but he didn't mind being palpated.  Hopefully, if he's getting sick, we can do something for him.  Our last two dogs both ended up with rare illnesses that were pretty much untreatable.  One had a mycobacterial infection that was exceedingly rare in dogs.  The other had prostate cancer.

I don't think MacGregor's dying yet, but I do think he's getting to that age at which issues are going to crop up.  For now, we need to work on slimming him down.  I could use some slimming down myself, so that's not such a bad thing.  Gotta let Zane the personal trainer beagle get us outside more...  And hopefully, the weather will start to cooperate by not being so damn hot!


MacGregor

Zane

I love these guys.