Sunday, March 31, 2013

Someone literally shit in my Easter basket...

Okay, I don't actually have an Easter basket.  I outgrew them a long time ago.  But this morning has involved shit and piss coming from our dear Arran.  Last night, he didn't want to come to bed with us, so we stupidly let him sleep in his bed.  He has been pretty good about not peeing in the house, even if he regularly has poop accidents.

I woke up to a gray, rainy, cool morning.  Was feeling pretty good because I didn't drink much yesterday.  Even my hip was feeling better.  Walked into the living room, glanced to the right, and there on the white granite fireplace that we've never used was a big puddle of urine.  I immediately cleaned up what  I could, but of course the urine soaked into the granite and now there's a stain.  It's not as bad as it could be, but it is noticeable.

While fretting over that, I didn't realize that Arran also took a dump on my rug.  I promptly stepped on a turd while barefoot.  Yes, there was swearing.  He had been doing so well earlier and now he seems to have backslid.  I'm getting really frustrated with trying to clean up after Arran.  He's a beautiful, sweet dog, but he is such a handful.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

MacGregor memorial video...

Willie Nelson sings "The Rainbow Connection"...  There is something very poignant about his rendition, even though he sounds like he doesn't really know the words that well...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Making movies!

Today, I've been playing around with iMovies, making videos of our travels.  It's a lot of fun and as I watch the photos set to music, I can't help but realize how very lucky my husband and I have been to go to so many wonderful places.  When I have both films finished, I will post them on my travel blog. I have to admit, I get really choked up... especially when I watch the one I made of Scotland.

My hip is a bit better today.  It's still a bit stiff and sore, but not as bad as it was.  My husband has been home all afternoon, working on a paper for a course he's taking.  The dogs have been good... especially Arran, who managed to poop outside this morning.  I got some very cute photos of him bonding with my husband.  I'd swear he was channeling MacGregor a bit.

Otherwise, it's been a pretty boring day so far... unseasonably cool and sunny.  I haven't run into anything particularly rant worthy, though that chick whose blog I noticed last week is now posting again. I suppose I could opine on gay marriage, but there's not much to say.  I think if homosexuals want to be married, they should have that right, along with all the responsibilities that go along with marriage.  I imagine it'll end up being more business for divorce lawyers...

Margaret Cho at a Prop 8 protest in Cincinnati, Ohio...

And "Proposition 8, The Musical"...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Four day weekend!

My husband gets a four day weekend that starts tomorrow.  Wish we had known about this ahead of time.  Maybe we would have planned a short getaway somewhere.  I could use a change of scenery.

My hip still hurts today, though maybe not as much as it did last night.  I don't really feel like finishing the lawn, though.  It's cold, windy, and the neighbor's chickens have invaded the yard.  Also, the farmer who has the field across from our house decided to fertilize, so the air smells to high heaven of manure.

I look around the house and it could probably use some cleaning.  I wish I could be bothered.  Actually, I'm feeling a little depressed today, though.  I think the yucky weather and prospect of moving again is getting to me.  I'm sure we will enjoy San Antonio, but the thought of moving again is kind of exhausting.  On the bright side, it's likely that in Texas, the yard won't be regularly invaded by chickens.

I have taken to sending my husband a love song of the day, which he seems to enjoy...  Wish I had more exciting things to write about.  Maybe I need to go back on YouTube and start looking for more weird videos.

ETA...  I just took the dogs out and lo and behold, a bunch of chickens were in the bushes in front of our house.  Arran got ahold of one and might have killed it.  I got him to let go of the hen and she ran into the woods.  I imagine she was hurt, though.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My hip is killing me.

I guess being old and fat is catching up to me.  My right hip is really kind of bugging me.  It's a dull ache that sort of radiates to my lower back.

I've been pretty active today.  This morning I made my first film on iMovie and it took forever to upload.  I decided to use my time wisely and went out and mowed half the lawn.  I would have finished, but the first lawn mowing of the season always involves cleaning up debris from the fall.  I never rake and our yard is surrounded by deciduous trees, so the mower picked up lots of dried leaves and such.  I had to dump the bag four or five times.

Tomorrow, I guess I'll finish and that little chore will be done for the next couple of weeks or so.  The dogs have been walking, too... though Arran is still having trouble with the concept of pooping outside.

I spent the rest of the day indulging my new old hobby, karaoke.  I feel kind of silly doing it, but it's a fun release and it forces me to stand up, which burns calories.  So does singing correctly.  One song was about 95% great, but I couldn't quite get it right.  I recorded it over and over again and at one point, my mic reverted back to the built in mic, which sucks.  I fixed that and it was back to being good again.

But all the physical activity today has made my hip hurt.  I probably should see a doctor, but I can't be bothered.  Next house must have a smaller yard that is fenced in, so the canine kiddies can poop outside more easily!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I learned in a dream how much I love my husband...

This morning, I had a very strange dream.  I dreamt that my husband and I got divorced for some reason and I married this other guy that I knew and, didn't particularly like, in college.  We seemed to get along okay in my dream.  Indeed, in my dream, I was under the impression that we had known each other in high school.  But we weren't from the same town...

Anyway, while I don't remember exactly why we were married, I do remember thinking wistfully about my husband and wishing I was with him.  We had more in common and though my husband is older, I was a lot more attracted to him, physically.  In my dream, I kept wondering why I had divorced him and married this other guy, who just plain didn't measure up in my eyes the way my husband does. I think we were married for business reasons.  It sure felt like it.

I woke up surrounded by dogs and thinking how very lucky I am to actually love my husband.  On another note, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Arran came to bed.  I woke up to him licking my face enthusiastically.

Today has gotten off to a nice start, in contrast to yesterday.

On the other hand, I got a really cute beaded dress yesterday for our upcoming cruise.  Let's just say I need to drop some weight.

The Psycho Mom....

This video makes me roll laughing...  Why is that guy acting like a mother?  Why is he cooking dinner in a towel?

My favorite line... "First off, you have to stop filming me when I'm wearing these WEIRD outfits!"

I guess he's portraying an extremely overprotective mother.  Mine was never like this.  I never had a curfew.  I remember coming home at 4:00am once when I was a teenager.  My mom came downstairs and said, "Are you okay?"

I said I was.

She said, "Okay.  I'm going back to bed.  Turn the porch light off."

I was her last kid and she was more than ready for me to GTFO.

I love this video, though.  It's bizarre!

Monday, March 25, 2013


If you were around in the 1980s, you no doubt remember break dancing, which was very popular in the mid 1980s.  This morning, I'm watching an old episode of Fame, which involved a Puerto Rican gang that recruited Danny Amatullo to help them with their choreography.  So Danny gets a couple of his dance buddies to teach these guys how to polish their act.

It's funny to watch because I never see people break dance anymore.  The music is stupid and has lots of scratching record sounds in it.  Everybody wears parachute pants, high top sneakers, and bandanas.  And Fame is kind of a cheesy show, anyway.

I can't believe this was popular about 30 years ago...  I feel so old.

I don't dance worth a damn.  I do have a sister who was quite a successful ballerina, though.  She attended the Royal Ballet School in London when we lived in England back in the 1970s.  Decades later, she still dances and has a gorgeous figure.  She sent me a film of her swing dancing with some guy she works with.  I guess I can take comfort in the fact that she can't carry a tune in a bucket.

Yes, that's my sister dancing in the video...  She recently turned 54.

I think I'll go sign up for aerobics, now.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Screaming mothers...

Warning.  The above video is full of screaming and profanity.  I am fortunate in that my mother never screamed at me like this.  We had our share of fights over the years, though my mom was always pretty reasonable.  It was my dad and my sisters who were more likely to be like this.  But even they were never quite this hysterical and only my sister used that kind of language.

As I sit here on a peaceful Sunday morning, I am suddenly so grateful my husband and I don't fight.  Even when we do have a disagreement, we don't yell at each other.

Here is another screaming mother who is angry with her daughter, who is apparently a drug addict...  It's more screaming and profanity. I wonder how many people have to live with this kind of screaming?

Here's a mom at WalMart going off publicly on her daughter... and getting screamed at by other people in the store.  Such drama!

And here's a guy yelling at his son for wearing skinny jeans.  Actually, this one made me laugh my ass off, especially when he said "I know your nuts hurt!"

Hope your Sunday is peaceful... 

Friday, March 22, 2013

An addendum to my "very quick post" from yesterday...

I've had some time to think about why that woman's blog post bugged me so much.  Taking out all the extreme gushing about Mormonism and just looking at that post as a regular person with no opinions about Mormonism, I will attempt to explain what I find offensive about this young CPS worker being so candid about her work.

First off, consider this clip from a Dr. Phil show that aired several years ago and, in a surprisingly timely manner, re-ran today. (I had to remove the clip because it no longer functions)

This particular show, which I blogged about some time ago, is about the dangers of posting stuff on the Internet for the whole world to see.  In my original blog post, I was mostly bitching about the annoying woman who came on to take a 17 year old girl to task for having poor judgment.  However, that being said, I do think there is a lot of wisdom in being careful about what you post online, especially if you are fortunate enough to be employed.  Yes, we do have the right to free speech in this country, but people can and do read what you post online and see your pictures.  It's just smart to think before you spout off.  For now, I have the luxury of being an overeducated housewife, but not everyone does.

Now, the blogger I referenced yesterday is guilty of a number of things.  First off, her tone about working for CPS is kind of condescending and offensive.  The blogger is 26 years old, unmarried, and has no children.  Yet she presumes to give advice to people about parenting.  Most of the people reading her blog are not likely to be the sorts of people at risk for losing their children because they're abusing drugs.  The average drug addict and/or pedophile doesn't read Mormon blogs.  So advice from a childless 26 year old blogger who happens to work for CPS rings a bit hollow.

While her revelations about working for CPS are somewhat interesting for those who know nothing about it, she writes as if CPS are the authorities on child raising and the children that CPS take into custody always end up better off.  A few years ago, I read a very good book written by a young lady who had been in foster care for most of her life.  The book, entitled Three Little Words and written by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, is the story of a girl who beat the odds, despite enduring constant upheaval in the US foster care system.  Indeed, the author was abused by a couple of her foster parents, who seemed to be in the business of foster care solely for the money.  While there are many amazing people who serve as foster parents, the truth is, not everyone who is a foster parent is altruistic and really cares as much about the kid(s) as they do the paycheck.

Moreover, while I think it's great that this CPS worker/blogger is happily employed, few people really see CPS workers as heroes.  Yes, it's true that they do a thankless and often necessary job, but how many parents are grateful to CPS for knocking on their door?  How many kids, even those from very abusive homes, look forward to being taken from their families?  My guess is that it's not too many.  Unless they are babies who don't know any better, most children would prefer to stick with what and who they know.  So the fact that this blogger loves her job so much makes me think that maybe a part of her enjoys the power to separate parents from their children.  I'm not saying that the blogger should be ashamed to do her job; I'm saying that it should not, in general, be a joyful thing to have to do that to a family.      

While I can fully appreciate the negative sentiment the CPS worker/blogger has for child molesters, I thought her comment about chopping off penises, even if it was just a figure of speech, was unprofessional and revealed a lot about her lack of maturity and discretion.  It's fine to be angry at child molesters and even, in the privacy of your own home, make a comment about the things you might want to do to hurt them.  But if you are identifying yourself as a CPS worker, it doesn't seem very smart to make a comment about wanting to commit a violent and illegal act.  Moreover, while the vast majority of pedophiles are males, not all of them are.  I'd like to know if she has the same feelings of rage toward female offenders.  I'd also like to know when those feelings of violent rage first come out...  when a person is first accused, or when they've actually been proven guilty?  Bottom line-- those kinds of violent expressions are best kept offline, especially if you are a state official.  At best, all she's done is represent her employer in a bad light for hiring someone who lacks common sense and wisdom.

I feel the same way about the blogger's comments about "idiot druggie" mothers.  What makes this comment especially egregious is the fact that the blogger waxes poetic about how these moms have been abused and need help.  Yet she apparently thinks it's helpful to refer to these women as "idiot druggies".  She's put a label on people that she identifies as disenfranchised, unmotivated, and disadvantaged.  I am as frustrated as anyone when someone makes a choice that seems obviously foolish.  Again, I do understand the sentiment.  But giving them that label only serves to dehumanize them and, to everyone who reads that blog, potentially make CPS look even more thuggish and heartless than it already appears to be.

I think the blogger is a bit inconsistent in her persona, too.  She tries to come off as caring and explain where her hapless clients are coming from.  But then she goes and resorts to name calling when she refers to them.  It makes me wonder if she really did study social work and if she has been introduced to the NASW's Code of Ethics.  When I got my MSW, it was day one material... and by that, I mean it was day one of orientation that we started learning about what was and was not acceptable professional conduct.

Finally, while I do remember being 26 and I think this blogger was trying to be "hip" and funny in her posting, she is really unconvincing.  And you have to be some kind of stupid... and I do mean stupid... to post a link to the office where you work in the same post in which you write of wanting to chop off penises, an illegal and violent act that will, if you carry it out, land you in prison for a long time.  Yes, child molestation is unacceptable and repugnant, but no sane, civilized person would suggest that we start cutting the genitals off of sex offenders.  That would be illegal, unethical, and a violation of human rights.  Like it or not, pedophiles are human beings and, at least at this point in time, it's not our policy to condone killing or torturing them.  I'm very sick of females, especially those who claim to be feminists, speaking of emasculating men as a means of sounding self-righteous and tough.  They don't sound tough; they sound crazy and dangerous.

So yeah... that's why that blog post offended me.  I understand it was just someone blowing off steam and maybe she didn't mean to be taken seriously.  But I think if you presume to tell people about your job to the point of linking to where you work, you probably ought to be serious.  And if she's lucky, no one will ever forward that particular post to her employer.  If she's smart, she will take the advice of the one man who left her a comment warning her against her very candid and inappropriate comments instead of deleting negative feedback and preventing others from voicing their legitimate concerns.

You don't know me! You don't know ANYTHING about me!!

About twenty years ago, when I was still in college, I had a very good male friend that I hung out with all the time.  Our friendship continues today and it's always been strictly platonic.  But in college, we were always together... and we often ended up in some very strange situations.

One day, for some reason, we decided to go to Rose's.  My friend had a car and I didn't, so he drove.  We were talking on the way to the store and he told me about a mutual friend who had confessed to him that she'd had sex with some guy she didn't know very well.  My friend said in disgust, "You're a ho!"

For some reason, the way my friend related the story and called our friend a "ho" was funny to me.  I started cracking up.  As we got out of the car, I blurted out, "You're a ho!"

Suddenly, I heard a female voice shrieking.  "Why don't you just SHUT UP?  You don't know me!  You don't know ANYTHING about me!"

My friend and I looked at each other, then noticed a woman standing nearby looking very upset.  We hadn't even seen her, so we weren't talking about her.  We didn't know her from Adam.  But I guess she related to what we were talking about to the point that she needed to set us straight.

My friend was all worried.  He said, "Oh my God, she's gonna slash my tires!"

A few weeks later, we decided to go to Walmart.  This was back when I still shopped at Walmart.  I haven't actually set foot in one in over ten years.  We wanted to go there to go pick up some stuff.  As we were about to leave campus, we saw a very annoying guy who had narcolepsy.  Apparently, he had been hit by a car and suffered brain damage, which caused him to fall asleep in the middle of conversations.

Back then, we thought he was a very strange and needy person who was always trying to bum rides off of people and would bang on their dormitory doors in the middle of the night... or he would stand in the middle of the hall and yell for people.  One time, he woke my friend up out of a dead sleep and demanded the use of his bathroom as well as a couple of rolls of toilet paper.  Another time, he fumbled with my friend's Nintendo Game Boy and ended up tossing it aside, saying "This game is pussy!" in disgust.

Yes, he was a student at our college.  He probably had no business being in college, but what do I know?  All I know is that he was very annoying to us back then.  This guy would run constantly and drink Diet Coke; otherwise, he would fall asleep.

Anyway, we were on our way to Walmart and this guy came running up to us.  My friend almost hit him with his car.  Then when we got to Walmart, we ran into him.  He had taken the F.A.R.T. (Farmville Area Rapid Transit) and, upon seeing us, tried to bum a ride back to campus.  Maybe we should have given him a ride, but neither of us were in the mood to deal with him.  I don't remember what we told him, but I do remember that we made a hasty retreat from the store.

As we were driving out of the parking lot, my friend looked out the rearview mirror and noticed this guy running at full speed behind us, yelling at the top of his lungs.  My friend said, "Oh my God!  He's keeping up with us!"  He hit the gas and we peeled out of there.

We got back to campus, and by the time we found a parking spot, the dude was back, having taken the F.A.R.T. again.  He ran into us again as we headed back to our dorm.  Confronting us angrily, he shouted "Why didn't you stop for me?!"  Of course we felt very sheepish at the time.  My friend and I don't take pleasure in being mean to people.  But we also don't take pleasure in being annoyed.

Farmville was an odd town... and a weird place to go to college.  I'm glad I was there, though, because I left that place with so many stories and memories...  I could write a book.


Jennifer Capriati... yet another troubled celebrity

I remember back in 1990, when 13 year old tennis phenom Jennifer Capriati was in the news for being so young, so gifted, and so poised to be a superstar.  Besides being a superstar athlete on the tennis courts, she had an ad campaign with Oil of Olay.  At that time, I was 18 and it looked like we both might be going places.

Then in the early 90s, Jennifer Capriati got in trouble for almost stealing a ring, which she claimed was accidental.  She was also in trouble for smoking pot.  She had reportedly contemplated suicide and was depressed about her looks and relationships with others.  Her mug shot was plastered all over the magazines and she became a poster child for kids who get too much, too soon.  It looked like at 18, maybe she wasn't going places...

But then she bounced back and started kicking ass in tennis again.  People talked about how she was making a comeback.

In 2010, she required hospitalization for overdosing...

And now, in 2013, she's in hot water again, for stalking and battering her ex boyfriend.  I don't know what her issues are.  I did read an interesting op-ed yesterday written in 1994 by an LA Times journalist who pointed out that lots of athletes have early successes and grow up to be perfectly responsible adults who don't get into trouble.

Based on the pattern reported, though, I would venture a guess that maybe Capriati is dealing with some long standing issues that are not getting resolved as she gets older.  If I had to make a very wild guess, I would say she probably has a character disorder on the Cluster B spectrum.  Of course I don't know... and some of this might be because she is a celebrity and things she does get reported to news outlets.

It's sad, though, that someone with so many opportunities and so much raw talent has ended up as tabloid fodder.  I hope she gets some help, for her own sake and those who are around her.

A very quick post...

I don't generally make a habit of reading Mormon blogs, but someone linked to this on RfM today...

Read it and weep.  There are only four posts so far, but I think I've seen enough...

The post about her work for CPS was a bit alarming to me.  I'm halfway tempted to forward the link to her place of employment (which she stupidly identifies) and explain to them that I don't think it's appropriate for CPS workers to refer to their clients as "idiot druggies" and to write of wanting to chop off penises.  You may rightfully think that in your head about some of the people you come into contact with, but it's not good practice as a social worker to post those thoughts on a public blog.  She comes a little close to violating confidentiality, too.

Anyone who says they love working for CPS has either got serious control issues or is in serious denial.  It's thankless, necessary work, but it's not work that most normal people are overjoyed by.

I wonder if she has a degree in social work or is just doing child welfare work...  Either way, she seems very immature and lacking in judgment.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beagle language...

Right now, I'm having a hell of a time teaching Arran to communicate with me, especially when he needs to take a dump.  This morning, he pooped in my office in about two seconds.  He managed to do this just before I was about to take him out for his morning constitutionals.  If I had been a minute faster, he would have made it outside.

Zane, on the other hand, has taken cues from his late beagle brother, MacGregor.  This morning, he only ate about half of his food.  I knew he still wanted it, because when I came into the kitchen and saw it there, he jumped off the couch and stood over the bowl of food looking as menacing as a fussy metrosexual beagle can look.  I put his leftover food on a counter so Arran wouldn't steal it.

MacGregor was the master at communicating with us.  When he wanted something, he would come over and put his paws on one of us.  I would go through the list of possibilities.  When I got it right, he'd get all excited.  Of the five beagles we've had, MacGregor was definitely the smartest, though none of them have been dumb.

A little while later, I asked the dogs if they wanted to go outside.  They both responded in a way that said they were ready for another potty break.  I took them outside.  Zane took a dump and initiated a play session with a stray pinecone.  He likes to pick up branches and pinecones, which he carries or chases.  It's very cute.

I brought them back inside and Zane went straight to the kitchen and looked up at his bowl expectantly.  I put it down and he finished his breakfast.

It's always fun when you make a connection with your dogs.  Sometimes it's easier to "talk" to them than people!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why I became a "social worker"... especially for Alexis

If you had asked me back in 1997 what I planned to do with the rest of my life, I probably would have told you I had plans to become a chef.  I really enjoy cooking and have a real knack for it.  Actually, I have a knack for making comfort food.  Sadly, it shows.  If you'd asked me what I wanted to do back in 1990, I would have told you I wanted to be a writer.  I have always loved writing and it comes easily and naturally to me.  Back in the 80s, I dreamt of training horses for a living.  If you asked me today what I probably should have tried to be, I would tell you I wish I'd tried my hand at music.  I have music in my blood and I can really sing.  I always kind of squelched that talent, though, for reasons that would take too long to explain in this post.  By the time I started to develop it, it seemed unwise to try to be a professional musician.

Anyway, in 1997 I had just finished two years in the Peace Corps.  I had gone in the Peace Corps in an attempt to escape... and maybe to "find myself" somehow.  While I was in the Peace Corps, I got to use several God given talents I can't deny that I have, narcissistic as it may sound.  Although my time in Armenia was educational and occasionally rewarding, overall it was very hard.  I came home from abroad depressed and wondering what I should do next.

In March 1998, I got a job waiting tables in a nice restaurant.  I hated waiting tables, but that job, tough as it was, did some things for me.  For one thing, it drove me to therapy, which I desperately needed.  Over the years, a lot of well-meaning as well as extremely rude people have told me I shouldn't talk about seeing a therapist.  I take a different view.  The time I spent in therapy probably saved my ass.  There is such a stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues.  People should talk about it.  Seeing a therapist is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength.  And the more people talk about seeking help for mental health issues, the less stigmatized it is bound to become.

In any case, back in 1998, I was very angry, overwhelmed, and sad and I was about to give up on life.  Despite that, I functioned reasonably well.  I got dressed and went to work.  I paid my bills.  But I was very unhappy and felt like my life wasn't worth living.  If I had gotten more depressed, I might have killed myself.  Indeed, by November 1998, despite having spent several months in therapy and on antidepressants, I was about to take that step.  I was so frustrated and felt paralyzed... like I was just stuck.  I felt like I was a failure and had nothing to offer the world.  Sometimes I still feel that way, though not nearly as intensely as I did back then.  It's really shitty to feel like that when you're in your 20s and the world should be your oyster.

Fortunately for me, in December 1998, I changed medications and suddenly felt much, much better.  I decided I had to make some serious changes.  I had to move out of my parents' house and get on with my life.  I figured graduate school was the best way to launch myself into something.  I wondered how I was going to pay for school.  Because I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer, I qualified for some fellowships.  I looked at the list of available fellowships.  Most of them were for fields that didn't interest me that much.

The University of South Carolina offered a dual master's degree program in social work and public health.  At the time, they were offering a Peace Corps fellowship that would pay for my tuition, pay me a stipend, and require me to work in South Carolina for four years after graduation.  As it turned out, USC discontinued that particular program the year I matriculated.  It was a good thing, too, since I ended up meeting my husband and it would have cramped our style if I'd had to work in South Carolina until 2006.  I decided I wanted to go to school anyway, and took out a shitload of loans, had a part time job, and worked as a graduate assistant instead.  

I chose to enter the dual degree program in social work and public health after I reflected on what I'd just been through with depression.  I decided that maybe I should go into a field where maybe I could help people with that problem.  I didn't know the first thing about social work, and like a lot of people, thought it was mostly about counseling people, facilitating adoptions, and taking kids from abusive parents.  The reality is that social work encompasses a lot of different things.  And Alexis, the first thing I will tell you is that if I were practicing social work, I probably wouldn't be counseling anyone.

The dual degree program I completed required that I specialize in health administration and macro social work.  Health administration is all about policy and management, though I would be earning an MPH in health administration and not the more valuable and relevant MHA.  I probably would have had serious issues in the MHA program, because it requires accounting.  Macro social work is basically working with organizations and communities and in management.  I would not be a clinical social worker.  I would be trained to manage social workers and organize social programs... write grants and research.  

I did fine in the program and enjoyed many aspects of it.  I actually liked the public health side more, though I did find my internship in medical social work very rewarding.  I fully planned to use that education after I finished school and probably would have if I hadn't met my husband and become an Army wife.  But don't misunderstand me.  I wouldn't trade ten years in the rat race for the ten years I've spent with my husband.  I love being married to him and I love the life we've made, for the most part.

During the short time I did work with clients as a social worker, I made an effort to focus on the client as much as possible.  In that sense, I'd say I did compartmentalize things that happened to me personally.  Or at least I tried to.  But honestly, most of my work in public health and social work has been in grant writing and research.  In retrospect, I should have taken more time to decide what I really wanted to do and found out what I needed to do to get there.  But as it turned out, it probably wouldn't have mattered regardless.  Moving every couple of years, especially when the economy blows, isn't conducive for developing a burgeoning career or reputation.  What I needed to do in the late 1990s was get out on my own.  Graduate school provided the vehicle to do that and move on with my life.  It didn't provide me with the living I expected, but it did help provide me with a living I can live with for now.

It's turned out that I'm doing what I wanted to do in the first place.  I don't yet make a living wage doing it, but I do make something.  And I do use my education... just not in the way I planned... at least not right now.  I don't know what I'll do when my husband retires.  I can't imagine anyone will want to hire me as a public health social worker, though.  We'll see what happens.

Does that answer your question, Alexis?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A very special Dr. Phil episode...

Today I'm watching a rerun of Dr. Phil.  On this episode, a man and his wife are confronting the man's parents.  The man's father, a creepy bearded guy who looks surprisingly young for a man in his 60s, molested their six year old daughter.  Honestly, I don't know how those parents can deal with this issue without completely freaking out.

The mother of the child, especially, seems to be having trouble with it.  She says that her husband now reminds her of his father, who had inappropriately touched their little girl.  The husband obviously had a good relationship with his parents at one time.  And now his father has done the unthinkable and his mother is standing by him.  How do you cope with such a thing when you still have feelings of love and loyalty toward your parents, yet they have harmed your child in an unspeakable way?

Dr. Phil, for his part, holds the grandparents fully accountable for what they did.  When the grandfather says the devil made him do it, Dr. Phil tells him that the devil had nothing to do with it.  The man put his hands on a little girl inappropriately and he did so knowing right from wrong.  He sacrificed a child's well-being for his own prurient desires.

I must say, this episode is disturbing and fascinating on many levels.  Most of the episode is very interesting, with the parents being very candid about how they feel about what happened to their daughter.  But then they bring out the little girl.  They don't show her whole face, but they do show her mouth and chin and her hair.  She speaks to Dr. Phil.  I'm a little uncomfortable with the fact that this was on camera, even with her identity somewhat obscured, yet I'm also impressed by how brave, bright, and articulate she is.

I have a lot of empathy for that little girl.  It's obvious that she loves her grandparents and is conflicted about what happened to her.  I hope she doesn't suffer long term damage over this.  I don't generally like Dr. Phil, but kudos to him for how he speaks to the child.  She seems to be at ease with him.  The girl is lucky, too, because though her parents don't seem to be as close as they could be, they are very loving and kind to the child and present a united front to her.

When I was growing up, I had some unfortunate run ins with the neighborhood pervert.  This guy lived across the dirt lane from us and went to our church.  He never actually touched me in a harmful way, but he used to show me pornography and made some extremely inappropriate sexual comments to me.  I was too dumb to realize what he was doing was wrong.  He was nice to me and paid attention to me.  He took me to movies, softball games, the beach, and even taught me how to garden.  These were things my dad rarely did.  In fact, my dad usually treated me like I was a pain in his ass and a disappointment.  

I never mentioned it to either of my parents except one time, in an oblique way.  In fact, I didn't even realize what he had done was criminal until I had started therapy.  I had a long session with a psychiatrist, who was evaluating me for medication.  I told him about the neighbor and he said I had been sexually abused.  Later, when I saw my psychologist, who was actually my therapist, he asked me point blank about the "sexual abuse".  Up to that point, I had never really thought of it in that way, even though I know now that's what it really was.  My therapist said my neighbor probably should be in jail.  

Some time ago, my mom and I were talking about a high school teacher who had been very well respected in our community.  My sister had him when she was in high school and my parents knew his wife because she was involved with the local music scene.  He was always very nice to me, though I never had him as a teacher and didn't know him that well.  Anyway, after he retired, he was caught exposing himself in his front yard.  He got a slap on the wrist.  Years later, he was caught with a teenaged girl in his car.  He is now a registered sex offender.

My mom made a comment about how crazy it was that the teacher had seemed so nice and normal.  And for some reason, I blurted out that our neighbor had been the same way.  My mom looked at me like she was just stunned.  She didn't pursue the issue and I didn't offer more information, yet it was obvious that she understood what I was telling her.  It was too late to do anything about the neighbor.  He was long dead by the time I had that conversation with my mom.  I kind of wonder what went through her head.  She probably wished I hadn't said anything.  I don't know what they would have done if I had told them about it when it was going on.  I'd like to think they would have done something... and yet the thought of them doing something makes me cringe.    

It took me many years to find someone I trusted enough to be sexual with.  I was 30 when I lost my virginity, even though I had been exposed to sexual things from a very early age.  I really love and trust my husband because he is very patient, kind, loving, and accepting.  He listens to me and doesn't judge.  I am very fortunate to know him.  I have always liked men and had male friends, but they also made me very nervous.  Things turned out okay for me and for that, I'm very lucky.  When I see kids like that little girl on Dr. Phil, I can't help but feel so much empathy and hope that things turn out okay for them too.  

Happiness is...

a man who is willing to step on your back...

When I was a kid, my sister, who happens to be very petite, used to love it when I'd walk on her back.  She'd have me step on her back and stand on her butt, whereupon she would pretend to be a surfboard. I loved it when she did that.  It was sort of a payback for the chore of walking up and down on her back.  I never knew what the big deal was...

Then I grew up.

Nowadays, I weigh too much and sit too much.  My back gets stiff, sore, and fatigued.  If I sit or lie down for too long, my thighs get numb and my lower back practically screams for mercy.  When it gets bad, I ask my husband to step on my back to try to force the kinks out.

No, he doesn't actually walk on my back or put all his weight on it.  That would be potentially dangerous.  Instead, he puts his foot on my lower back and bears down a bit.  The combination of the warmth of his foot and the feeling of his toes digging into my sore muscles is enough to make it crack... and when that happens, WOW.

It's amazing how good it feels to have my husband's foot pressing on my back.  It annoys him when I ask him to do it, though.  He has to take off his shoes and that's inconvenient.  Maybe when we can afford it and have a house where it will fit, I'll buy a massage chair so he doesn't have to indulge me so often.

Maybe I need to take yoga or something...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top o' the mornin' to ye...

Happy St. Patrick's Day, ya'll...

I've had kind of an interesting weekend.  Yesterday, I found a nostalgia group dedicated to the area in Virginia where I grew up.  I found the group because I was reading about a place called Club Lake Ahoy.  I never visited Club Lake Ahoy myself, but I remember there were ads for them on the local independent television stations.  Those ads were tantalizing... they made that place look like it was so much fun!  According to the postings I read yesterday, the surrounding lake had issues with snakes... water moccasins, to be exact.

Back in the 80s, there were a lot of manmade lakes and such where kids could go swimming.  When I was growing up, we'd go to the sand pools at Fort Eustis.  There were two of them and they had floating docks.  The water was frigid; the restrooms were marginal; and the sand was coarse.  We still loved going there, though.  They closed one of the sand pools a long time ago.  The other one closed a few years ago when a kid drowned.

In the 90s, I worked at a summer camp near Strasburg, Virginia.  Strasburg was a neat place and they had a quarry there, filled with water.  It was called Half Moon Beach.   I never got to visit there because I was always working and the one week we had off, I lit out of there to go to my aunt and uncle's house.  But down where they lived, there were water holes galore... as well as Cave Mountain Lake, which is kind of dirty and gross these days and Goshen Pass, which is an awesome place to swim.  As a matter of fact, I took my husband there in 2001, right before 9/11, and we went swimming.

I'm a big fan of swimming holes, even if they can be habitat for some scary critters.

Moving on to another subject, I just read today's Dear Abby.  Some guy wrote that he and his ex wife have a 24 year old son.  The ex supposedly cheated and now has a 12 year old son with the guy she allegedly cheated with.  Every year, the letter writer visits with his son, who brings his half-brother.  The letter writer doesn't like having the 12 year old half-brother around, because the boy reminds him of the hurt he went through with his ex wife and her infidelity.

I was actually kind of impressed by this guy, who says he doesn't want to be negative about his son's mother, but has these very real  and negative feelings.  People were commenting about what a jerk this guy was for not accepting his ex wife's son as a house guest.  I may be in the minority, but I think the guy has a perfect right not to be expected to host his ex wife's son, just because he's his son's half-brother.  It's too bad he and his wife ever allowed it, because now they are in the difficult position of having to uninvite this young man from their yearly retreat.

A lot of people were commenting that this guy should suck it up and honor the brothers' relationship with each other.  My thought is that the two brothers can socialize at another time.  That weekend is a special time dad has set aside for seeing his son.  There are 51 other weekends in the year that the two brothers can hang out together.  I don't think it's unreasonable for this man to want to spend time alone with his adult son.  And if he's feeling angry and resentful about having to host his ex wife's son, those feelings will eventually come out, possibly in a nasty way.  Besides, at age 12, the young man is old enough to start learning that the world doesn't revolve around his axis.

That being said, I feel sorry for the 12 year old.  It's not his fault his half-brother's father has these negative feelings about him.

Another thing I noticed was there were a lot of people speculating why the wife cheated, claiming that the man must be an asshole.  I couldn't help but think that if the situation were reversed and it was a woman complaining, people wouldn't assume she was an asshole that drove her husband to cheat.  Why do people have to be so sexist?  Assholes come in both genders.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

At the vet's office today...

We took the dogs in to get some vaccines this morning.  While we were waiting, an older gentleman came in to pick up his dog who had been boarded a couple of nights.  He was telling us with some pride about his beautiful dog and how he has an invisible fence installed so the dog gets exercise.

The receptionist brought out the man's German Shepard, who was pretty much out of control.  Our dogs went nuts barking and the man and the receptionist were trying hard to wrestle the dog into compliance.  The receptionist held up a rather nasty looking prong collar, which they then struggled to put on the big dog, who was very excited and pent up with energy.

They finally managed to get the very excited beast out the door and the receptionist looked at us and said, "I can't stand that dog!  He drags me all over the place."

Bill and I were a little taken aback by the receptionist's revelation to us.  It kind of makes one wonder what she says about our dogs when we aren't around.  But then, I've had run ins with this lady before and she's never impressed me as being particularly situationally aware.

So we went in and got the shots; the vet checked out where Arran bit Zane a couple of days ago... We stopped by the pet store to get Zane a new collar and another toy.  And when we got home, I posted about our incident.  I was surprised by the knee-jerk responses we got, mostly berating the guy for using a prong collar and the receptionist for being overly candid.  It turns out one of the people on my page for MacGregor admits to using a prong collar because her dog won't walk peacefully with a regular collar.

Our little town is pretty much a hick town, though, and folks around here aren't very sophisticated.  I look forward to being in an area where we might find a vet we like better.

Incidentally, here's an interesting article about prong collars.  I still don't like them, but won't jump to a negative conclusion so quickly next time I see one being used.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pat Boone... showing his ass again.

Some time ago, I wrote a post about Pat and Debby Boone.  Both have been on ads a lot recently, especially Debby, who is currently the pitchwoman for Lifestyle Lift.  Pat Boone is in the news this morning because he was on Fox Business News last night and called Barack Obama a Marxist.  Boone has been squawking about Obama ever since the man won the presidency back in 2008.  He's made all sorts of claims about our president, including saying that Obama is ineligible to be president because he was supposedly born in Kenya.

It's funny that this should come up today, since last night I was actually looking at the books Pat Boone published in the 1960s and considering picking up a couple of them second hand.  I like to read books by wingnuts and then review them on  There are quite a few lively folks on there who don't shy away from commentary.

Pat Boone is certainly free to have his own opinions.  I think he's a little nuts, though... and his vendetta against Barack Obama is pointless.  He's not going to leave office.  Even if he does leave office, his replacement won't be anyone Boone prefers.  Wait until the next election.  It's likely that by then, the USA will be ready for a new conservative in office.  I hope like hell it isn't Mitt Romney or someone worse.  I'll keep voting Libertarian anyway, unless there's another candidate who rings my chimes.

Anyhoo... here's Pat Boone.  The person who made this video is obviously anti-Obama.

I like it better when Pat Boone is being a Christian...  ;-)

(He had a normal upbringing... except for all the corporal punishment....)

What a whackaloon.     

Chicken Invasion!!!

This morning, I was pondering mowing the lawn.  But then my beagles started freaking out and I knew our yard had been invaded yet again by the neighbor's chickens.  Our neighbor lets his birds wander all over his yard and they often end up wandering into my yard, too.  I guess I don't mind, except that it makes my dogs go nuts.  On the other hand, being invaded by chickens also makes it unnecessary for me to mow the lawn.  Wouldn't want to hit one of those birds and make their feathers explode, would I?

Here are some hens that wandered over...

And some other kind of bird... could be chickens, could be geese?

Big daddy rooster!

Amid all this frantic scratching and hunting, another rooster is cock-a-doodle doo-ing in the background.  The above photos were taken this morning in North Carolina...

When we lived in Georgia, we were invaded by all kinds of critters.  There was a family of deer who lived in our woods...  These six photos were taken in Georgia.

We used to call this deer "Mama" because she was practically tame and seemed to be in charge.

Here's a yucky rat snake.  Actually, I don't mind these snakes because they eat vermin.

Mama deer in the summer.

One time, we were visited by an armadillo.  I took a video.  I guess when we get to Texas, we'll be seeing these critters again.

One of Mama deer's babies...

We like living in wooded areas, even though they're usually crawling with ticks.  From what I've seen so far, when we get to San Antonio, we'll be city slickers again... or at least suburban slickers.  We probably won't be invaded by wildlife...  maybe neighborhood kids?

Sometimes we see coyotes here in North Carolina, but the only time I've seen deer is very early in the morning.  There's a little pond behind our house and in the early mornings and evenings, I see wild ducks out there.  I'm going to miss this...  I like it out in the country.

If you click on the tag "armadillo", you can see the video I shot on the day I saw the above armadillo.  It's kind of cool.  Looks like a birthing scene!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A scuffle between beagles...

Zane and Arran have been getting along pretty well in the two months we've had Arran.  They've had their differences, mainly over food.  They mostly get along, though, and love to play together.  Zane is starting to get his boyish figure back and Arran is starting to learn not to dump in the house... even though he did let a single turd escape in bed last night (it was quickly and easily cleaned up, thank God).

Yesterday around lunch time, they got into it over a morsel of food that fell on the floor.  Arran ended up biting Zane on the left foreleg.  Dog bites can be tricky because they're puncture wounds that can turn into abscesses.  I noticed after a few hours, the bite was starting to swell and it was painful to the touch.  I got my husband to take Zane to the emergency vet, where he got a shot of Convenia, a cephalosporin antibiotic that lasts for up to two weeks and stays in the body for about two months.

Naturally, I researched the drug when my husband got home and there were all sorts of horror stories about pets-- mostly cats-- getting sick or suddenly dying after using it.  Under the circumstances, I got kind of worried, but I have to admit, this morning Zane is his usual perky self and his wound is a lot less swollen and seems less painful.  He's looking fine so far and hopefully nothing bad will crop up.  

They have appointments with our regular vet on Saturday.  Arran gets his bordetella shot and Zane gets some shot that he had an allergic reaction to last year... and ended up in the same emergency vet last year because of.  We'll get him a different shot so he doesn't get hives again.

I think I take better care of my dogs than I do myself.  

See?  Best buddies!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shit Dr. Phil says...

I really shouldn't watch Dr. Phil.  Yesterday, as I was viewing a re-run of his long running talk show, I found myself accurately predicting what he was going to say next...

Here's my list of top Dr. Phil-isms... little things he says to so many of his hapless guests.  Watch his show long enough and you'll be able to predict what he'll say when.

15. "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."

Translation: If you don't admit something's wrong or you have a problem, things won't get better

You need to admit to what Dr. Phil thinks is wrong with you; otherwise, you're doomed.

14. "Kids have a special talent for making everything that goes wrong their fault."

Translation: Your kids, no matter who they are or what their age is, have an overdeveloped sense of shame.

I don't think this is always true.  I think it's often true, but kids, like anyone else, are highly individual.  There are plenty of adults who think everything is their fault, too.  It probably has more to do with individual personality and maturity than actual age.  There are some kids who have no shame at all, while others internalize everything and get ulcers from worry and strife.

13.  "You HAVE to take care of your son's [or daughter's] mother."

Translation: You can't help your child be their best if you don't take care of your needs.

This comment sort of bugs me because it presupposes that the only important parent to a child is the mother.  It takes two people to make another person.  I know Dr. Phil panders to women because women are his largest audience.  And he busts on men a lot and acts like they're selfish and uninvolved in their kids' lives.  He has said that fathers are important, but he doesn't seem to recognize their importance on his show.  Instead, he spends a lot of time ignoring them... until it's time to bring them to task for whatever reason.  It's true that mothers are often the ones who take care of kids, but that's not always the case, and ideally it shouldn't necessarily be the case.  If a child has two parents, both parents should be equally important and given equal billing... and both should be taking care of themselves so they can be taking care of their offspring (and this goes for gay couples as well).

12. "We're going to get you some help with this!"

Translation: Here I come to save the day!

If you're a kid, this means you'll be going to one of the Aspen Educational Centers/ brat camps Dr. Phil promotes.

11. "Based on results... results don't lie..."

Translation: It's obvious what happened "based on results".

This particular Dr. Phil-ism annoys me because it's condescending.  I'm against bullshit as much as the next person is, but no one has the ability to know everything.  When Dr. Phil says this, he comes off as an all-knower, which is irritating.

10. "Never put your hands on a woman in anger!"

Translation: Men are brutes.  Women are weak and need protection.

Okay, so I know that in many cases, women are physically smaller and weaker than men are.  However, as people evolve and get bigger, taller, and fatter, it's not as true as it once was.  I'm bigger than my husband is, for instance.  He's not a large man and I'm a woman of some size.  I'm physically pretty strong, too.  And if I have a weapon and he doesn't, all bets are off.

This isn't to say that I think men should be beating on women.  It's to say that instead of telling men not to put their hands on women in anger, Dr. Phil should be advocating that no one put their hands on anyone in anger.  He should be opposed to violence against people, not just violence against women.  True gender equality means that no one is in a protected class.

9. "Oh, come on!"

Translation: You're being ridiculous.

No explanation needed.

8. "You have to put the kid(s)' needs ahead of your own."

Translation: The kids' well-being must come before everything else.

On the surface, I agree with this statement.  However, sometimes it's not possible to put the kids' needs first.  Sometimes, it's impractical, not feasible, or impossible.  Putting the kids' needs first requires cooperation from both parents.  My husband would have been a brilliant father to his kids had he been given the chance.  But he and his ex wife, like so many other parents, split up.  My husband is in the military and moves constantly.  He was left financially devastated by his divorce and his ex wife had custody of the kids and refused to cooperate.  No court of law could have forced her to be fair as long as she had contact with the kids.  She is an immature bitch and incapable of acting like an adult, except when it comes to breeding.  So yeah, in a perfect world, all of the adults in his situation would have put the kids' needs first.  Unfortunately, in the real world, not everyone is that mature and Dr. Phil telling them to grow up isn't going to change that.

Also, it doesn't really serve the kids' best interest to put their needs first at all times.  At some point, they have to learn that the world doesn't revolve around them and sometimes their needs have to be sacrificed for someone else's needs.  They have to learn how to compromise.  If they don't learn this when they are young, they'll have a rude awakening when they are grown up.  And if they never do learn this lesson, God help anyone who gets involved with them romantically or in a work situation.  The last thing the world needs is more self-centered people who have never been taught to consider others.  I do think that when it comes to a child's health and safety, their needs should come first whenever possible.  But they do have to learn how to deal with adversity and conflict, and that means that sometimes the adult's (or someone else's) needs have to come first.

Finally, this sort of conflicts with #13, in which Dr. Phil advises mothers that they have to take care of their children's mothers.  Sometimes that means putting their own needs in front of their children's needs.

7. "I'm gonna put some verbs in my sentences."

Translation: I'm going to tell you what you need to do.  

Maybe it's different for psychologists, but when I was getting my training as a social worker, I was taught that people need to figure out how to solve their own problems.  Therapists are there to provide guidance, support, and most of all, objective insight.  Giving advice is not helpful.  What if it turns out to be bad advice for that particular situation?  How does it help the client learn how to help themselves?

6. "I can play that back for you..."

Translation: Don't try to deny that you said something.

Sometimes Dr. Phil's guests try to backpedal.  He usually calls them on it.

5. "If these kids could, they'd tell you to "Just shut up!" (said in a weary tone of voice)

Translation: Kids hate hearing their parents argue.

Somehow in Dr. Phil's world, kids are wiser than their parents are and "know" fighting is destructive.  Actually, fighting can be very constructive if it's done fairly.  Conflict can help people get to know each other and establish boundaries.  And I know Dr. Phil knows this, but somehow he always seems to belittle parents.  This disturbs me, since kids aren't supposed to be running the show.  They don't have the experience or the knowledge and actually, not everything should be about them.

4. "You just want to be alone with your disease."

Translation: You have some sort of addiction that you don't want help with.  I'm here to save the day by shining some light in your life and outing that nasty secret addiction.  

Dr. Phil says this all the time, usually when he has anorexics or bulimics as guests.  He has a point with this one.  People with eating disorders thrive on secrecy.

3. "I don't care how flat you make a pancake; it's got two sides."

Translation: Everyone's got a story.  Everyone has a point of view.

Dr. Phil is right here too... Actually, I'd go a step further and say that there are three sides to every story.  His side, her side, and the truth!  Every point of view is spun and skewed to favor the key stakeholders in any situation.  It takes an objective viewpoint to get to the bottom of most disputes.  And even then, the truth may never fully come out.

2.  "This relationship needs a hero!"

Translation: Someone needs to man up and be the bigger person.

Most of the people who are on Dr. Phil's show are immature.  That's what makes good TV.  When he's dealing with family disputes, he often pulls out the above chestnut to shame someone into growing up and taking one for the team.  Sometimes that's appropriate and sometimes it's not.  But Dr. Phil sure likes to say "This relationship needs a hero!"  Actually, he says "heeee-rooo".

1.  "How's that working out for you?"

Translation: You're stupid for not realizing that you're in a destructive pattern that is getting you nowhere.

I hate it when Dr. Phil says this to people.  I know people love this particular Dr. Phil-ism and it's caught on to the point at which regular folks have started saying it to each other.  I think it's often disrespectful and condescending, even if I understand that he's just pointing out that someone is caught up in an ineffective and destructive pattern.  People in trouble don't need to be belittled, even if there are a few guests who probably do need to hear something like this said to them.

You might be wondering why I watch a show that causes me so much angst.  The truth is, I know I should change the channel.  I have to admit, though, sometimes Dr. Phil is entertaining.  He does have a certain wit.  And what the hell would I blog about if I didn't watch his show?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Duggar dogs puking...

Aside from the news that Josh and Anna are having their third kid, I had pretty much successfully stayed away from this supersized brood and their reality show for some time now.  I happened to land on a rerun today and they showed the little kids feeding a couple of poor dogs a shitload of American cheese!  American cheese probably doesn't even qualify as real food and perhaps shouldn't even be consumed by humans, let alone dogs.

Naturally, those poor dogs puked all over the place.  The cameramen stood by and watched as the hoodlums fed those poor animals to the point of getting sick... and they even had a close up of the puke.  I've seen my share of dog poop, piss, and puke over the years.  Nevertheless, this show really sucks.  Maybe the dogs were just doing what the rest of us feel like doing...

Edited to add... hours later, I'm watching another episode and they showed the little kids puking.  I guess karma was in play.  Good lord.

Running into ex-friends on Facebook...

If you spend any time on Facebook and you're somewhat liberal about the people you "friend", you will eventually unfriend someone or be unfriended.  It's just a fact.  Sometimes it happens because a person decides to make their account inactive.  They've determined that Facebook is a time waster or there's too much drama.  So they go inactive, only to come back later or delete their account.

Occasionally people unfriend because they need to simplify their lives.  So they cut out anyone who isn't someone they know personally.

Sometimes people unfriend because they're offended by someone's views or their posts are annoying.  Or because they had a "spat"...  I once got into it with someone I knew in school because I pointed out that the Turks celebrated Children's Day right around the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Day.  She got very pissed at me for pointing that out and accused me of projecting my anger at the Turks...  I thought that was pretty stupid.  I'm not necessarily angry at Turkish people.  No one alive today had anything to do with the Armenian Genocide; indeed, a lot of Turks know little about it because it's been carefully concealed.  Shit, I didn't even know anything about it until I lived in Armenia.  She was very hostile, though... and not long after that, she unfriended me.  I wasn't trying to stir up trouble... the whole Turkey/Armenia thing didn't even occur to me until that day.  But I think she took it personally.

She's friends with another friend, though, and occasionally I see her name pop up when she comments or "likes" something our mutual friend posts.  And I have to admit, when I see her name, I feel kind of pissy.  It's petty and stupid to get upset over Facebook bullshit.  I have to admit that I do sometimes, though, especially when it involves someone I know personally.

A month ago, I got into it with some chick who took me to task for being "mean".  She ended up unfriending me, I think, because she was trying to get me flustered and instead of kissing her ass, I challenged her back.  So now when I see her commenting on a mutual friend's posts, I just want to block her.  But unfortunately, I can't for some reason.  Facebook settings have changed again and I can't figure them out.  The block feature is a good thing, though... to keep the rif raff off your feed and your blood pressure down.  I figure if I annoy someone enough to unfriend me, they'd probably rather not see my posts anyway if we have mutual friends.

A couple of days ago, I posted about an obnoxious Army related group that I had to "unlike" because the members were so rabid.  Today, one of my friends shared one of that group's photos along with a caption.  I had to hide it, because just the sight of it raised my blood pressure a notch.

Tell me, why are we like this?  When did my life get overtaken by Facebook?  Sometimes I really miss the pre-Internet days, where it was easier to permanently drop off the face of the earth.  If you join Facebook, you're liable to find yourself with some odd dilemmas... like what to do if someone you can't stand wants to "friend" you.  I mean, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and maybe it's not personal, but you don't want to be buddies.  I have to admit, there are a few of these on my friends list.  On the other hand, I'm sure I'm one on some friends' lists, too.  I usually hide posts from people who really annoy me.  You have to seriously upset me before I'll resort to unfriending and/or blocking.  It's not that hard to upset me, but it is pretty hard to drive me to unfriending.  

I've actually given serious thought to unfriending a woman I considered my best friend for about twenty years.  We have grown apart and she rarely comes on Facebook nowadays, anyway.  When she does contact me, it's because she wants to gossip, needs information, or is making a major announcement.  Ironically, she's the one who got me to sign up for an account.  I had resisted it for a long time because I didn't want to get sucked into another Web site.  Go figure.  But I know if I unfriended her, it would probably cause enormous hard feelings.  I probably will never see her again, but I don't want to take the risk, you know... especially since we have a few mutual friends offline.

I have what's called a "Friend Tracker".  It's part of Social Fixer, a Facebook app that was recommended by my friend, Dave.  I recommend his blog, by the way.  I met Dave on Epinions and though he lives in western Canada, we actually met in person back in 2005, when we both attended an Epinions Meet n' Greet in Seattle.  Anyway, Friend Tracker lets me know when someone unfriends me.  It tells me who did the unfriending and why-- if it was a deliberate unfriending or they just went inactive.  It occurs to me that it would probably be better to remove the whole friend count thing.  That way, I wouldn't know if someone unfriended me or how many friends I have.  I'd just interact with the ones who interact with me.

Or maybe I should just stick to blogging, which is becoming more satisfying than Facebook is, anyway.

I'm sure that in the coming years, there will be lots of interesting research done on the whole Facebook phenomenon.  I know there's already been some done...  I think Facebook is attractive to me because I lead a pretty isolated lifestyle otherwise.  But Facebook relationships can't be as rewarding as real life relationships are, can they?  I mean, they do require a lot less effort.  You don't have to work that hard to maintain a Facebook relationship and when it's over, all you have to do is click the "unfriend" button.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Speaking of Army Wives...

Last night was the premiere of season 7.  Army Wives was good the first season and somewhat decent through season 3.  It probably should have been cancelled after season 4, but the powers that be at Lifetime just keep cranking it out.  I watched last night because I knew they were going to kill off Kim Delaney's character, Claudia Joy Holden, who was extraordinarily annoying and had pretty much disappeared last season anyway.

I've watched this show faithfully since the beginning.  I had low expectations when it started in 2007.  At that time, I lived on an Army post and could identify somewhat with the characters, even if the show was pretty Hollywoodized...  I also read the book the show was based on, which was a lot more academic and serious than the show is.  As a matter of fact, I should probably re-read that book, since it was written about a series that happened near Fort Bragg ten years ago.  That's where my husband is now.

Anyway, last night's episode was kind of a snoozer.  If you've ever seen Army Wives, you know that Claudia Joy and her husband, Michael, lost their daughter Amanda a few years ago when a soldier blew himself up in the Hump Bar.  That show was a lot more powerful than the one that aired last night.  It basically consisted of a bunch of flashbacks and people looking morose.  I didn't get the sense that the characters were grieving that much.  There seemed little point to it.

Brooke Shields, Ashanti, and Jesse McCartney are all about to become cast members.  I'm sure that's to breathe new life into a series that is on life support.  But I really think it's time for Lifetime to pull the plug.  What's worse is that this episode is a two-parter... so I'll probably watch next week, then quit watching.

Stephen Collins... writer and musician...

So I finally finished the last 7th Heaven episode the other day.  I was glad to be done and probably won't need another 7th Heaven fix for a few more years, if ever.  I think Stephen Collins is one of the most oddly irritating actors I've ever seen.  He's also apparently very ambitious.  Besides acting, Collins has released a couple of CDs and written a couple of novels.  I already reviewed one of his albums on

Last night, I started reading his novel, Eye Contact.  Imagine my shock when in the very first chapter, he referred to "fuck me" pumps on his female protagonist.  That's not very RevCam of him, is it?  Obviously, he's not at all like his alter ego...  and maybe that's a good thing.  

I don't like the novel that much so far.  I'm not that far into yet and am not really a big fan of most novels to start with, and one that is basically a dimestore thriller is probably not going to "thrill" me, even if it was written by a well-known television actor.  But I'll keep reading it and try not to think of Collins as an actor or a singer.  He's nothing if not versatile in his mediocrity...

Later today, I plan to review Collins' other CD.  I will probably hate it because it's full of Rick Nelson cover songs.  But it should be fun to review, anyway.

Edited to add...  I just finished my review.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

EFMP... There's nothing "exceptional" about it.

Back in 2007, my husband was deployed to Iraq.  We were also planning to move to Germany.  Because Germany is not in the United States, I had to do some things to prepare for the move.  One of the things I had to do was get a physical.  I was really dreading having to do this for a lot of reasons.  First off, I'm not a big fan of going to the doctor's office.  I especially hate going to military doctor's offices.  It's a pain in the ass to set up the appointment.  Military medical providers tend to talk to their patients as if they are either children or in the military, even if they are civilians.  I also had a very traumatic incident with a military provider in the 1990s that continues to haunt me today.

Anyway, I had to get this physical and then I had to be screened for the Exceptional Family Member Program, a supposed benefit for military families.  Basically, what EFMP does is allow a servicemember's command to consider the medical and educational needs of a family member before moving their "sponsor".  I have already ranted about the term "dependent" to describe spouses.  My husband is considered my sponsor.  How's that for demeaning?

So I got a friend to help me set up my appointments.  I saw a physician's assistant who turned out to be really kind and patient with me, especially after I told her about my first and last disastrous attempt to get a pap smear when I was 22 years old.  She thought I had high blood pressure, but it turned out my high readings were caused by white coat hypertension.  That was proven by 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, which involved wearing a sphygmomanometer for 24 hours.  As soon as I stepped out of the military hospital, my blood pressure readings dropped to normal.

Finally, I arranged to be screened for the EFMP, which I had been told involved having a doctor look at my records and determining whether or not I had any conditions that warranted special consideration as to where my husband could be assigned.  From 1998 until 2004, I took antidepressants and went to therapy for depression and anxiety.  The worst of my issues were from 1998-99.  I chose to stay on antidepressants while I was in grad school mainly because I didn't want to feel shitty while I was dealing with such a stressful time of my life.  At the time, I had no idea I would ever marry a military man.  I could have gotten off the antidepressants earlier than 2004.  I got off them because I dropped civilian health insurance and was hoping I might get pregnant.  I got off the drugs with no incident and didn't even miss them, except they helped me keep my weight down.

What I didn't know was that my time on antidepressants would come back to haunt me.  The EFMP required that I submit ALL of my medical records for the past five years.  Those records included my therapist's notes about my depression, which were very personal.  I suppose in retrospect, I could have removed the records from before 2002.  I didn't think to do that.  I showed up for the EFMP screening and was left sitting in the waiting room in the pediatrics department of the local military hospital while the doctor looked at my paperwork.  She finally came out and told me I needed to be in EFMP because I'd had depression and it might be risky to send me to Germany.  She listed the reasons she thought I was at risk.  I might have trouble adjusting to culture shock.  I might get depressed if my husband got deployed (even though he was already deployed when I met with this woman).  I might have problems with the fact that Germany isn't as sunny as the USA is.

Our conversation was laughable.  Here was this young doctor in a military uniform telling me that it was a good thing we were bound for Germany, since if we were going to Hawaii, I probably wouldn't get to go.  She claimed there weren't enough therapists in Hawaii.  I looked at her dumbfounded and said, "You know, I have an MSW.  The Army could hire me."  Moreover, this move to Germany would be my third overseas.  I had already survived clinical depression while in Armenia.  I knew Germany would be a piece of cake for me.  But that didn't matter... my thoughts about my own stability and personal desire to stay out of EFMP meant nothing.  It was fruitless to argue with the doctor, who was just covering her own ass.  She said I could try to disenroll in 2009 and maybe the EFMP would grant my request.

She then told me that if I didn't comply, my husband could get kicked out of the Army.  And she said he wouldn't get his orders if I didn't do what she said.  Her face registered shock when I pulled out a set of orders, already listing me as having command sponsorship.  Apparently, the National Guard couldn't care less whether or not I have depression.  She spluttered, "You're not supposed to have those yet!"

It was truly ridiculous.  But because my husband was in Iraq and I didn't want to cause issues, I complied with the demand that I join EFMP.  I filed the paperwork and we went to Germany.  Some months later, my husband got a nastygram from the very pushy EFMP coordinator in DC, demanding my status.  They needed to be "apprised of my condition".  My husband sent him an email letting him know that I had no desire to be in the EFMP and didn't need it.  We never heard another word about it and I got through my time in Germany without incident.

The military is pretty intolerant of head cases... even though if you read my articles about nutty Army folks, you know that the military is rife with them.  The official policy requires that servicemembers who are depressed seek help for their issues.  The unofficial policy is that if you or a family member see a therapist or take psychotropic drugs, your career will probably suffer.  You might lose your security clearance or be stuck in some shitty assignment indefinitely or get sent somewhere you'd rather not be.  I sought therapy for my depression and anxiety when I really needed to.  I'm glad I did it; it probably saved my life.  I had no way of knowing that making the very mature decision to seek help would end up in a ridiculous conversation with an intractable doctor who didn't know me from Adam and was basing her medical opinions of me on three year old notes from other providers.

I understand why EFMP screening is mandatory for people going out of the country.  I just wish the process involved more subjectivity and people using common sense.  I wish that competent adults were treated more like stakeholders in their own healthcare and given more of a partnership in the process, rather than given the bullshit line about how the screening is for their own good.  The screening is about covering asses, saving money, and controlling people.  Moreover, you can get around the EFMP.  A lot depends on who you are and who you know.  I personally know someone who had her paperwork changed so the EFMP restrictions would be lifted and she could take her kids to Germany.  In her case, it worked out fine.  I know of other people who were not allowed to go abroad because of EFMP and they could not get their EFMP status changed.

I don't mean to say that EFMP is not a valuable program for those who need it.  There are families who have kids with special needs that need that special consideration.  It's not good to go to a new duty station and find there are no suitable facilities to handle someone's medical or educational issues.  That tends to lead to the family having to be sent elsewhere, which costs a lot of taxpayer money and causes lost productivity.  It's also a pain in the ass for the family.

However, the EFMP requirement is not good when it's forced on a family, particularly when the "exceptional member" is a competent adult.  People know that EFMP can cause plum assignments to get cancelled.  Supposedly, this is not true... the military will tell people that EFMP won't mess up a person's career.  But in reality, being limited in where you can go can mess up your (or your sponsor's) career.  Because of that, some people won't get help for depression if they need it.  I mean, it's hard enough to get help for depression because there's so much stigma.  If it might also mean you can't go to Germany with your husband, you might also hold off on calling for help.  And that can lead to tragic consequences.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Yet another disgusting product being hawked on TV...

Eew.  Callous Clear promises to remove those ugly patches of calloused skin from your feet.  I had some problems with callouses for awhile, but then I started using Bag Balm on my feet at night and they cleared up.  Bag Balm, by the way, is an ointment originally intended for use by farmers on their milk cows.  Apparently, udders get chapped and crusty and this foul smelling greasy stuff is great for softening them up.  But it's also great for feet...

I have to admit, this ad for Callous Clear is intriguing.  It must be very satisfying to peel that nasty dry skin away and come away with soft feet.  On the other hand, gross!

I love how these As Seen On TV products appeal to the grossest things about being human...