Friday, May 31, 2013

I finally did it...

I finally bought one of these Margaret Thatcher nutcrackers.  I'd been trying to get my hands on one for months, but they've been discontinued and are only available on eBay (that I've been able to find, anyway).  Someone always seems to snatch it out from under me at the last minute.  Yesterday, I found one with a "buy it now" link, so I did...  Pretty soon, the Iron Lady's iron thighs will be cracking nuts in my house.

How's that for a fun Friday post?

An update about my camera review...

This afternoon, I got a Facebook message from another Epinions member who had read my comments on the messageboard and we had a nice chat.  She basically agreed with a lot of what I said and even sent me emails a particularly condescending advisor had sent her when she demanded an explanation for the low ratings he had given her on a couple of her reviews.  The advisor as much as admitted that he doesn't leave comments and accused her of having an "entitled" attitude.

I've "known" this writer online for a few years now and she's always struck me as being anything but entitled.  She's always helpful and encouraging to other writers, old and new, and takes a lot of pride in her work.  She's not intimidated by advisors or leads because she's been on Epinions long enough to understand how it works.  And those of us who have been there for years know that advisors are indeed supposed to rate properly, but they're also supposed to leave encouraging and welcoming comments to new members as well as constructive criticism to those who need help.  If you've spent any time on Epinions and know how it works, it's pretty hard to get less than a VH rating.  And every single one of my electronics reviews in the past have gotten overall VHs.  I don't imagine that the four page review I wrote, which to most consumers is overkill anyway, hasn't met the usual standard.  I know the score... and so does my friend.  

Anyway, after we chatted, I decided to go back to the messageboard to see what people had written.  The vast majority of folks had supportive things to say with one electronics advisor (who had not seen or rated the camera review) being a bit of an apologist.  I followed up with this comment...

It's not so much the low ratings that offended...
as it was the lack of comments. I am okay with lower ratings if they are given with some kind of constructive comment that gives me some insight as to what was lacking in the review and/or could be improved. That review was up for over 24 hours before the first advisor rated it; everyone who rated it up until that point had given it a VH. Then, I got the first H. I expect that, of course, since it's electronics. Then another advisor rated it low, so I went to the electronics messageboard and found a thread that listed what the "hats" look for in camera reviews. I updated the review with more information. It didn't help. The next five raters, three of whom were advisors and one of whom was a lead, left the same rating. No one left a comment. The overall rating dipped to lower than any of the reviews I've posted in ten years on this site, which to me is just astounding. I mean, my review writing skills can't have degraded that much. Usually when a review gets to that point, someone says something.

I got the impression that perhaps some of the advisors were rubber stamping. I don't know that for certain, of course, but they certainly didn't leave me any indication that they'd actually read the lengthy review I'd spent so much time to write.

You know what else amazed me about this experience? Minutes after I posted my comment in this thread, I got a very nice email from a former electronics advisor and current lead in another category who offered to look at the review and offer me tips. Not a single current advisor or lead in electronics has bothered to say anything to me in an email or otherwise. Not that I really expected them to, of course, but I do think it's pretty sad when a former electronics advisor reaches out and offers me help and the current ones don't bother.

I do still have the review saved and after I've had a few days to get in a better frame of mind about writing in general, I may just ask that former advisor for the help he's so kindly offered. It's nice to know there are still people on Epinions wearing "hats" who still want to do that for other members, even if it's not in their category.

I have a feeling that comment may cause some people to feel defensive. Maybe it might make some people feel ashamed-- though I'm not generally a fan of shaming. In any case, I think it drives home a valid point. When someone outside of the electronics category cares enough to reach out, and the electronics folks don't, it reflects pretty poorly on the job the advisors in electronics are getting paid to do. No wonder Epinions isn't attracting any decent new writers.

Quote: dtv_engineer

...I would have hoped that an experienced member would recognize this and have a bit more patience -- possibly asking for explanation or clarification before burning bridges and deleting reviews.

I'm sorry for the evident misunderstanding... but right now we're pretty busy stomping out the burning bags people are leaving on the porch.

-- Jeff

Jeff, you weren't one of the people who rated my review, so this comment isn't necessarily aimed at you personally as it is to your suggestion that I should "have patience" with electronics advisors. It seems to me that if you have time to properly read and rate a review, you have time to leave a one or two sentence comment as to why you're leaving a rating that is lower than what other "unhatted" people have left. It's not that hard. And I am a little troubled by your comment about "burning bridges". I hope you aren't implying that if I ever choose to write another electronics review that advisors will be negative from the get-go... because that would really be against the whole spirit of Epinions, right? Like I said, I don't make a habit of deleting reviews; this was the first time in ten years. Nor do I think of myself as a troublemaker. I would hope this one incident wouldn't lead to unfair ratings in the future just because I made a little stink this one time.

I understand you're busy with all the newbie electronics reviews. By all means, rate them all; we wouldn't want the new folks getting rewarded prematurely, right? :sarcasmsmileymoment: In all seriousness, I understand the importance of maintaining standards, but this site doesn't employ professional writers or technical experts. There are some people here who are professional level writers and/or could be described as "experts", but being an expert is not currently a requirement to be successful on this site. And it really shouldn't be, particularly given the fact that we're not attracting and retaining that many new folks lately.

Please don't try to tell people who have been here for years how things work around here. This site is for regular people who use everyday products. It's not CNET or Consumer Reports. We should be writing for regular people. People who want professional level reviews have plenty of places they can go for those. And, like I said, I can accept lower ratings if they are explained. If you have the time to read and rate a four page review properly, then you have the time to leave a couple of sentences with suggestions as to how a helpful review can be made very helpful. It doesn't take that long.

And I added this... which will no doubt piss some electronics folks off.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Not too tart, not too sweet...

Back in the late 70s, Country Time lemonade mix was always being advertised on television.  I remember the old guy who played "grandpa" would always say Country Time was "not too tart, not too sweet".

Last night, I was in a goofy mood.  I've had a bad writing week and when I have a bad writing week, I often turn to my other outlet, music.  I like to sing.  A couple of months ago, I went back to a hobby I had dropped a few years ago, karaoke.  I used to do karaoke in bars, which is a lot of fun because there's usually an audience who will react to the song choice or performance.  Nowadays, I don't do karaoke in bars because we live in the boonies.  Besides, karaoke in bars can get both expensive and icky, since a lot of singers are hyper-competitive.  Mix in alcohol with that competitiveness and you can end up in an uncomfortable situation.  

So a couple of months ago, I went back to SingSnap, which is an online karaoke site.  I was one of the original members of that site when it started in 2006, but when they dramatically raised their prices and started having licensing issues with some of their songs, I quit participating there.  I had sort of forgotten about the place until one of the regular readers on my music blog said he was curious about my voice.  He wanted me to post something on YouTube.  I hate the way I look on camera and initially balked, but he persisted.  I finally remembered SingSnap and went back.  I discovered that I can sing on SingSnap and not have to be on camera.  

The prices had come down to a more reasonable level.  I remembered how much fun it was to have a musical outlet.  I re-instated my membership and even purchased a gizmo that allowed me to connect a good quality microphone to my computer so I don't have to use the crappy built in one.

So I've been having fun with SingSnap and yesterday, I spent a couple of hours there perfecting some of my favorite songs from the 70s and 80s.  My husband came home and, since our TV is now on the fritz for some weird reason, I sang him a few songs.  

I asked him if he thought I had a sweet voice.  He said yes.  I asked him if he thought I had a sweet personality.  He said no.  And that made me think of Country Time Lemonade, a drink my mom used to make for me quite a lot when I was a little kid.  I remember big pitchers of it and how I used to suck it down when I was thirsty.  It never occurred to her to suggest water; not that our water, which came from a well, was something you'd want to drink a lot of.  

Watching this ad from 1980, I wonder if the young man in it is Ed Begley Jr.  It kind of looks like him...

It's been a really long time since I was a connoisseur of powdered soft drinks like Kool-Aid and Country Time lemonade... or the cheap knock off, Wyler's, which was pitched by Roy Clark.  Roy Clark is actually kind of relevant in another roundabout way.  I went to college near where he was born and he's sort of a local hero.  The small hospital in the town where I attended college has an emergency room that is dedicated to him, complete with a commemorative plaque.

Roy Clark is in this ad...

After I graduated, Roy Clark started doing performances with the choir I was a member of in college.  They even released a couple of CDs.  Leave it to me to graduate before things got really exciting.

Anyway, SingSnap is a nice diversion for me when I need a break from writing.  I don't make any money from music.  Indeed, though I have done a couple of weddings, music is something I do entirely for fun.  It's always been that way, even when I was in college and was asked if I'd rather be a music major than an English major.  I figured I'd have a better chance of being employed if I majored in English.  The funny thing is, though, now I think if I had tried to be a musician, I might have actually had some success.  

I have a cousin who is a professional musician and while I don't think he's wealthy yet, he seems to be doing alright.  He plays in a very popular band in Virginia and they are consistently booked.  While I can't play instruments the way he does, I have some talents that he doesn't have.  For instance, I have perfect pitch and about a three and a half octave vocal range.  On some days, I can almost hit four octaves... but as I'm aging, those days are becoming fewer and farther between.  I'm finding I'm preferring the lower pitched songs lately, anyway.  Maybe in a former life, I was a jazz singer.

Music does something else for me.  It helps me get over being depressed.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life.  It hasn't been really debilitating since the late 1990s or so, but it's always kind of lingering there in the subconscious.  I find that singing helps me keep it at bay.  That's another reason why I don't sing professionally, because I like to keep music as something I do strictly for recreation.  When I was dealing with significant clinical depression, I started taking voice lessons to give myself something to focus on besides being down.  Singing comes naturally to me and releases stress.  So that was a good thing, because it reminded me that despite all the other things that were going wrong at that time, singing was something I could do right and without a lot of effort.

I also notice that I don't tend to focus on both things at the same time.  Like, if I'm really involved in a writing project, I don't do a lot of music.  If I'm doing a lot of music, I don't write as much.  So, though this has been kind of a bad week for writing, it's been a good week for music.  Maybe that's what I will focus on for awhile.      

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm having an off week...

For some reason, this week, it seems like I've had issues with just about all of my writing projects.  Most of them are unrelated, so it's rare that they'd all go south at the same time.  It all kind of hit a critical mass last night.

A few days ago, I wrote a camera review on  I don't often write camera reviews.  I'm definitely not an expert on the subject and would never claim to be.  I figure most consumers aren't experts either and aren't looking for really long reviews full of technical jargon.  On Epinions, members rate each other's reviews on their helpfulness.  The ratings are supposed to help determine where the reviews will fall if more than one is submitted.  It's desirable to have your review near the top of the heap, since that would mean it would be among the first consumers see.  The more hits your review gets, the most likely it is to earn money.  And when I say money, I generally mean just a few bucks... though if your review does well over time, those few bucks can really add up.  I've made well over $10,000 writing reviews on Epinions.  

Electronics is a very difficult category to write in, but at least in the past, the money you could earn writing there made the effort financially worthwhile.  The advisors in that category are notoriously tough raters.  I have gotten my share of lower ratings over the years and I'm mostly okay with that, as long as the advisors (who get paid a little something extra to advise reviewers) leave a comment explaining why they're leaving a lower rating.  Then the reviewer can go back and edit the review and email the advisor for an updated rating.

To be honest, I don't often bother asking for new ratings.  What really matters to me is the overall rating.  I want a Very Helpful overall rating.  I know it seems petty, especially since a Helpful review can still earn money, but it's just one of those things.  Call me "prideful" if you want.  In ten years of writing on that site, aside from a few low rated first reviews, I have never gotten below a Very Helpful overall rating.

Last night, my latest electronics review's rating dipped below the VH threshold and I decided to delete the review.  In ten years of writing on Epinions, I have never before deleted a review... not even the ones that embarrass me.  But last night was the last straw.  A few months ago, Epinions revamped its income share program and stopped rewarding top reviewers for writing outside of their main categories.  That has resulted in less money for most people, including me.  While I will admit that I do write, in part, for the money, I also write because it's a source of self-esteem.  It's what I do to to make my mark on the world, since I've proven to be a failure in the working world.

The review that I wrote was about four pages long, which is probably more than the average consumer wants to read anyway.  It was on a product that has only been on the market for about two months, so my review was the only one posted.  Wonder of all wonders, Epinions actually had the product listed in the database and reviewable, meaning that I didn't have to ask for it to be added.  I was excited about that... and I looked forward to writing a review that would help other people wanting to buy a new camera.    

Most of the people who rated that review left me a VH rating.  But then, the first advisor came in and rated lower.  There was no explanation.  "Fine," I thought, "maybe the next person who rates low will explain."  Sure enough, the next advisor also left me a low rating.

I went to the electronics messageboard and found a helpful thread about how to write camera reviews.  I updated the review with even more information.  The next rater, a non-hatted person who's a bit on the odd side and doesn't usually frequent the electronics category, also left a low rating with no explanation.  So did a category lead-- and I was really surprised by the lead's lack of commentary, since in the past, he has been kind enough to explain what information needs to be added.

By this point, I was getting really perturbed.  I mean, I know I could have emailed these people for advice; but it is, in fact, also an advisor's job to advise and leave constructive comments.  Moreover, since I went to the trouble of posting the review and, under the new income share system, would probably not even be financially rewarded for doing so, I kind of wondered why I should bother.  It really appeared to me that these folks were just rating the way others had.  I seriously doubted most of them had even read the review.

When I came back late last night and saw the overall rating had dropped, I decided enough was enough.  I deleted the review and posted a note on the main Epinions messageboard explaining why.  So far, one person has sent me an email... a really nice guy who used to be advisor for that category.  He asked me to send him the review so he could offer tips.  I wrote him back this morning and asked him to give me a couple of days to get in the right frame of mind.  I didn't really expect anyone to care that I deleted the review, so it was nice to hear from that one person.  

Some people might say what I did was a bit on the dramatic side.  I think if they were in my shoes this week, they might understand where this frustration is coming from.  It's not just Epinions; it's across the board this week.  The things I've been writing have been causing me strife and disappointment instead of making me feel like I've left a positive mark on the world.  This week, my writing has made me feel ashamed instead of redeemed.    

I don't even feel like going back and reading the responses people have left on the messageboard.  I just can't deal with the defensive bullshit and excuses I'm sure I'll read.  I'm sure I'll feel better in a few days, but this week has been kind of rough.    

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A big pile of phonebooks...

One nice thing about our upcoming move is that it means we will probably get to part ways with Windstream Communications.  Because we live out in the country, we're limited to Windstream to handle our communications needs.  A few months ago, that meant we had to put up with insanely slow Internet service that made streaming videos or playing online games impossible.  I don't play a lot of games online, but I do like to watch YouTube.  So that was a pain...

More recently, I've noticed that Windstream apparently has an overzealous phonebook delivery person. While we were gone, two were delivered to our house.  Our driveway is shaped like a horseshoe, so the person evidently thought he or she was dropping books at two houses.  The person must have been looking at the ground when he or she was delivering the books, though, because it's pretty obvious there's only one house at this address.

This morning, I found yet another copy of Windstream's latest phonebook on our driveway.  It makes me wonder if the people in charge of phonebook delivery have OCD.  I also wonder how many trees died for all these phonebooks we have.  If we were living in post Communist Europe, we could use the pages to wipe our asses.  Otherwise, they're pretty useless.  They aren't even thick enough to sit on to get a boost.

Three phonebooks have been delivered to our home in the past three weeks

I wonder who uses phonebooks these days, anyway?  I mean, I know people like my parents use them because they are computer illiterate.  But most people nowadays have Internet access, which means that phone numbers are easily available online.  If you're using a smartphone, all you have to do is click the underlined phone number and the phone will make the call for you... no dialing required.  

Now that I think about it, who dials anymore?  I can remember being a little kid in the late 1970s and being excited about the prospect of getting a push button phone.  No more working out my little fingers with a rotary dial.  We had a rotary phone into the 80s, but then everything went push button.  Then everything went cordless.  Now everyone has a cell phone that can do all kinds of things.  So I guess the expression "dialing the phone" is going to go obsolete, too.

Changing subjects... Alexis asked me how I search for new homes from afar.  The answer is, I use a database run by the military.  I suppose I don't have to do that, except many people who list rentals on a military database are military friendly people and know that people in the military sometimes have special housing needs.  This is the last time the Army will be moving us for a permanent change of station unless something very strange happens.  My husband is planning to retire next year.  After he retires, we are allowed one last move at government expense.  I don't know if we'll immediately use it or not; depends on how things work out in Texas.

So, for the third time since 2009, I am searching the database for our next home.  I look for several things when I look for housing.  Number one on the list is pet friendliness.  Bill and I have two dogs that are coming with us.  They are family members.  So whatever home we choose has to be pet friendly.  I also pay attention to the language used by the landlord.  If the ad says "pets negotiable", chances are they'd rather not rent to pet owners and I don't choose that house.  Frankly, I think if you're against renting to people with pets, you should just say so and save everyone time and money.

I also look at how the ad is worded.  If I read something that makes me think the landlord is going to be overly neurotic about the property, I skip that house.  I get that a home is a big investment, but it's a turn off when a potential landlord is already harping on a potential tenant's cleanliness or housekeeping in the ad.  I admit I am a bit of a slob.  I'm not a filthy slob, but I don't keep an extremely neat house.  The last thing I want to deal with is a landlord who freaks out about how clean I keep the house or how immaculate the yard is.  I wouldn't be able to relax and enjoy that environment.

At the same time, I've come to look for signs that the landlord is somewhat experienced.  At our last home in Georgia, we had nice landlords who left us alone, but they didn't want to fix anything.  Consequently, we had to deal with chimney swifts, rusty water, a non-functioning fireplace, and a lighting fixture that was hanging out of the ceiling, among other things.  It wasn't a bad place to live, but I worried that if anything seriously needed fixing, they wouldn't be bothered unless we took them to court or something.  

I look at the photos in the ad and search for clues that the landlord may not be compatible with our lifestyle.  For instance, if I see a lot of religious stuff on the walls, I don't put that house on the list.  You can tell me I'm being bigoted when I do this, but I figure it's the best idea for everyone involved.  I'm guessing that most really religious people would rather rent to people who are more compatible with their views.  Those who don't care about that are less likely to put a lot of religious stuff on the walls.  And, if it's just a tenant's stuff on the walls, that tells me something, too...  While I get that landlords want to be able to show their place as soon as they get notice a tenant is about to move out, it seems wrong to put up photos of the tenant's stuff in an ad.  I think landlords should keep photos of their place when it's empty and post those instead.   

We look at price.  The Army gives us a housing allowance, so we try to keep our rent well within that range.  The house we live in now is several hundred dollars a month less than what we get, so we save that money.  I am hoping to keep our next house's rent less than what we get in housing allowance as well.  There's just two of us; we don't need a huge house.

We look at location.  We don't really like subdivisions or having neighbors really close, mainly because we have dogs and I am a singer.  So houses that are more country appeal to us.  Also, having lived in the DC area for several years, I've had my fill of neighbors.  Some of them are really great, but just as many of them can be a source of great stress.  And I'm sure they'd say the same thing about us, too.  We're less concerned about being close to stores or even work than we are about peace, quiet, and privacy.

This time, we're looking for a house with a fenced yard.  We've never really had a house with a fenced yard, except for the seven months we lived in a brand new house at Fort Belvoir.  The dogs we had at the time didn't use the fenced yard much, but the ones we have now would love to have one to run in.  And I'd love to have a place where I could turn them out to burn off some energy.  At the same time, I think this time I'm going to be more careful about the size of the yard.  The house we're in now has a large, rather sandy yard.  I'm the one who usually mows it and it's a real pain in the butt.  It only takes about an hour to do the whole thing, but it's a miserable hour.

I hope for trees.  While the ones we've had the past couple of times have dropped a lot of leaves in the fall, I like the shade and the privacy trees afford.  They look pretty, too.

I also prefer houses without carpet.  It's not a deal breaker, but I have allergies and carpets can harbor stuff that makes me cough and sneeze.  I think carpetless floors are easier to keep clean, too.

Right now, I have about eight homes out of about 900 rentals on my "favorites" list.  I will probably whittle that list down to about four or five places and then go check them out when we visit San Antonio in early July.  Hopefully then, we can sign a lease and have a place to go to in August.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Moving on, now...

My husband has the day off today.  As is his custom when he doesn't have to work, he's making breakfast.  He just came in here a few minutes ago, sat down at his desk and said, "We have a whole bunch of strawberries and bananas that need to be eaten.  Would you like some oatmeal today?"

I started laughing because it reminded me of an old George Carlin routine.  I said, "It sounds like you're offering me a job.  'Hey-- we have some fruit that's about to go bad.  Want to eat it?'  Or, as George put it, 'Eat this before I feed it to an animal!'"  As George points out, some people act like they're doing you a favor when they offer you food that otherwise, they're only going to "throw away"...

This is a pretty funny routine George did back in the day... I couldn't help but think of it when my husband offered me oatmeal this morning.  Of course, not having children, it's up to him or me to eat whatever's in our fridge getting "smaller and smaller".  And sometimes we just flat out fail.  Every once in awhile, we have to throw stuff out because it's gone bad.

I have to admit, I've done the bread thing, where you reach into the bread bag past the first couple of slices for a "good" piece.  I don't like heels, so I reach into the bread bag and search for a "better" slice.  Curiously enough, I don't throw out the heels.  Every once in awhile, I cook something that needs bread crumbs and they work well for that.  On the other hand, that rarely happens.  I should be more organized and just throw the heels out.  For some reason, I don't, though.

As I'm writing this, my husband is offering to boil an egg for me, to make sure I get my protein.  I can't help but chuckle about that.  He takes good care of me.  If I know my man, he'll serve the oatmeal with a wee dram of scotch, too.  Scotch is good in oatmeal.

Maybe instead of eating fruit that is about to go bad, we should do what Gallagher does...  smash it up with a big hammer.  Then we could throw it in some wine and make sangria.

Or we could just shoot it...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's been a stressful week...

Okay, given that we were in Athens a week ago, it's been more of a weird week than a stressful one.  Actually, it's been kind of a stressful month.  Traveling is exhausting, even though it's supposed to be fun and relaxing.  Going overseas on an airplane can be particularly difficult, given the packed conditions of airplanes these days and the fact that so many people are totally oblivious to other people.  I found a funny video the other day that points out how people can be more courteous on airplanes.  I will post it on my travel blog, along with the very sad story of our re-entry to the United States.

When we left on May 5th, I was on the rag.  The following week, I was still on the rag, even though my periods don't usually last longer than four days.  For some reason, Aunt Flow was especially bitchy this month.  Then, as soon as my period left, I got sick with a cold.  I spent a good portion of time on our ship coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose, squawking and throwing up.  Actually, I threw up less on this trip than I did on our prior trips, though I still did puke a bit.  It wasn't from seasickness as much as it was violent coughing that turned into retching.  I'm mostly over the cold, except for the residual coughing and mucous that always comes after a cold.  I took a nap yesterday, though.  The virus I picked up really made me feel fatigued.

Once we got home, I had lots of chores to catch up on and lots of potential houses to screen as we plan our move to Texas.  And then I got into a pissing match on my blog after my husband discovered a long lost text on his phone from his stepmother.  I know a lot of people read this blog for whatever reason and I know that divorce and being a child of divorce is tough for everyone involved.  I had actually finally been moving on... but every time we're about to move on, something else comes up.  I vent about it on my blog because I figure that's what blogs are for.  I realize that some people think it's not "classy" for me to air my dirty laundry.  But since this blog is for me, I figure I have the right to air my dirty laundry if I want to.  If it offends you, you're welcome to move on to the next site.  

I don't feel like I should necessarily have to defend myself on my blog, and yet for some reason I still do.  Despite appearances to the contrary, my husband and I have tried to do the best we can with the cards we were dealt.  We're basically good, decent people.  My husband, in particular, is a really good guy with the very best intentions.  If you knew him, you'd easily see that.  He didn't want to abandon his kids.  His career is the Army, though, and that means moving often.  And if you have to live far away and your kids won't answer the phone or letters or speak to you when you visit them in person, it becomes very hard to maintain a relationship with them.  It's even harder not to become embittered by those behaviors, which we both know were heavily encouraged by their mother and her husband.  I don't want to say he didn't have any choices in the matter... I will only say that he made the best choices he could under the circumstances after he made the colossal mistake of getting involved with his former wife in the first place.

As hateful as I can come across sometimes, I actually do have a big heart and the capacity to love and forgive.  I am very empathetic, given a chance.  But I have limits, too... especially when it comes to abuse.  In fact, I'd say that when it comes to tolerating abuse, I am pretty well saturated.  I don't put up with it very well.  I get tired of writing the same explanatory comments over and over again to people who happen to stumble across my post on Jessica McCord and leave nasty, accusatory comments.  Sometimes I feel like people look at me as a villain because I came along second in my husband's life.  The truth is, ten years ago I urged my husband to take legal action against his ex wife and try to save his kids from being raised by her.  But I was very naive back then and now I realize that given the circumstances we were in at the time, I don't see how he could have done anything more effective than what he did.  What I really wish is that my husband had never met his ex wife.  I really wish he'd had his kids with me.  He didn't, though, and we both have to live with that fact.

I'm just a regular person, trying to get through life like everyone else is.  Despite all that has happened, I've never been happier in my life than I am right now.  I found the right person.  I met and married him when he was free to meet and marry someone new.  It's disturbing to go through what we've been through and writing about it helps me.  

Anyway, this is my blog and I will continue to write whatever I feel like writing here.  If you like it or are inspired by it, that's good.  I'm glad.  I hope you will keep reading and leave me a comment if you wish.  If not, I hope you'll move on and find something more to your liking.  And I hope my next post is about something I saw on the news or Dr. Phil.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The f-bomb...

Last night's blogging drama has awakened in me a desire to research the f-bomb.  I love sites like Urban Dictionary for this purpose, because people come up with some hilarious definitions for American idioms, slang words, and naughty words.  But sometimes YouTube has some funny stuff, too.  Like, for instance, this hilarious rant by the Angry Aussie...

I usually try not to cuss too much when I blog, even though I often swear a lot offline.  Personally, I think cuss words are just a part of the language and they have their place, even though they can be very offensive.  On the other hand, they can also be very funny.

Consider this rant I found on Craig's List early this morning.  It's entitled "I Don't Give A Flying Fuck About Your Children".  It's shockingly offensive, and yet it made me laugh my ass off before the sun rose this morning.  Why?  Because its extremely unabashed and gets the point across using the f-bomb in a number of creative ways.

I don't generally tell people to fuck off or say fuck you to them unless they really annoy me.  Last night, I happened to read blog comments after having enjoyed a couple of cocktails... and the comments were kind of like banging my head against a brick wall, because I have addressed them over and over and over again.

Yes, it does annoy me when a clueless twit hits my blog for the very first time and leaves me shitty comments that reflect that they haven't spent any time educating themselves about me before they leave me a comment full of hasty conclusions and faulty assumptions about my or my husband's character.  It's rude and offensive and it makes me want to respond in kind.  And if it happens to be a Friday night and I've enjoyed a few beverages, look out.   Don't like it?  Go read someone else's blog.

I use the f-bomb here on occasion.  If you are rude to me, you're likely to have it liberally lobbed at you.  I think it's funny and sometimes it's very appropriate.  It's not that I go around wanting to be mean and hurtful, though.  I don't seek out people to swear at.  It's strictly a defensive move on my part...

I suppose if I worked at it, I could come up with even more creative ways to tell people to fuck off.  I've determined it's kind of fun.

Hmm... the weather is beautiful today.  Might have to go on a beer run.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

My husband's dream...

This morning, my husband sent me the following email.  I've edited slightly to protect identities...

Hey Darling, 

I had a strange dream last night. You and I and the dogs were in what looked like Amalfi, walking through tiny back streets. At some point, you and the dogs got separated from me. I started wandering around in the general direction were I last saw the three of you and spied Arran, sitting outside a WC. 

A woman emerged that wasn't you, and I asked you were Zane was. I never really recognized a face, but more a presence. The person didn't have your attitude, didn't behave like you at all. She said that she'd run into a large family eating dinner and they had a bunch of dogs with them. Zane ran up to them and greeted everyone. She went on to say that Zane seemed so happy that she agreed to let him stay with the family and that all we needed to do was go get his papers and leash and meet the family at their car. 

I became livid and made the woman pick up Arran and together we went to where some of the family was waiting. There was a bearded "mountain man" behind the wheel and I told her to go with him, get Zane and bring him back. There was a young woman waiting with some of the family that asked me if we were "joining" them in the family. I made some reference to being in the Army and left it at that. I didn't want to let on that I intended to take Zane and leave. 

Out of now where the rest of the family showed up. The men were dressed in Khaki's and long sleeve blue shirts. The oldest one shook my hand and said that they lived on 10K acres in Mississippi and would be glad to have us along. Just then the woman showed up with Zane and I scooped him up, turned, gathered up the woman and Arran and walked off, saying that we were sorry to have wasted their time. Then I woke up. 

I remember feeling angry because what this woman had done, without asking me, was make a [ex]-like emotional decision. It made her look good, but put me in the awkward position of having to be the bad guy. I hated that and hated her for it. Zane didn't have a desire to leave us, he was just a dog reacting to other dogs. 

Obviously, this is about that text message from [stepmom]. It was a very [ex]-like thing to do and the way it was written it made me out to be someone with a giant grudge who is being cruel by not talking with their "aged" father. Like you said last night, it's [ex] intruding in our lives once again. It also occurred to me that there was a time when I'd have gone along with the decision, just to avoid confrontation, or at the very least, the unpleasantness of saying "no". But I'm older, wiser, and more confident now and I have you to thank for that. It's also why that person wasn't you in my dream. 

Love you…

My husband's former wife has a way of coming up with big plans that include other people. She doesn't include others in the planning phases of her ideas.  She just makes plans and expects everyone to go along with them.  My husband's father and stepmother have both been dragged along for the ride when the ex comes up with these plans that involve them, but they had no part in planning.  My feeling is that we should keep her at an arm's length, lest we get sucked back into the vortex.

I'm not actually sure what prompted that text months after the whole Christmas incident. Stepmom-in-law sent it in March and we just saw it yesterday. It had been a couple of months since my husband had last spoken with his dad. I'm not sure what made her think he was angry and holding a grudge. The fact is, I was angry when I removed and blocked her from Facebook, but really, my reasons for doing so had a lot more to do with preventing the ex from intruding than it was about punishment or holding grudges.

Anyway... I have bigger fish to fry now. Gotta start preparing for our move and the planning that goes into the trip we will have to take to find a place to live.

My husband found a two month old text today...

It was from his stepmother.  Back at Christmas, my husband called his dad and was told about how his long lost daughter came out of the woodwork all of a sudden.  My father-in-law told my husband about how his kid called and, of course, didn't want to hear anything about her real dad.  It didn't occur to my father-in-law how mean it was for him to tell my husband about this on Christmas Day.

Anyway, I got pissed... and my mind got to working, since the kids are always close to the ex... I decided to unfriend my husband's stepmother on Facebook because while she had told us the ex was persona non grata in their house after all the shit she's pulled, she and my father-in-law are not the most resolute people.  Stepmother-in-law is not very mature and often speaks with a forked tongue.  I didn't want the ex popping over by surprise and the two of them going on my Facebook.  I didn't want my husband's ex daughter friending my husband's stepmother and then having a link to me.  So I unfriended stepmother-in-law and blocked her.

Months later, she sent my husband a text that he missed because it wasn't identified as coming from her.  It was full of guilt about how my husband's dad is getting old and he's all she had... and she hoped she hadn't made him angry.  She said that since I had unfriended her, they couldn't keep up with us anymore...

Well... here are a few facts.

1.  Stepmother-in-law never once interacted with me on Facebook, except for game requests.  I didn't even know if she noticed the things I posted.  She never reacted to them.  I didn't know not having access to my posts was such a hardship.

2.  Stepmother-in-law is very two faced and doesn't hesitate to change her viewpoint depending on the company she keeps.  She and ex were buddies and it wouldn't surprise me if they got together again.  If ex showed up on her doorstep, especially if she had the kids with her, stepmother-in-law would happily invite her in.  Of this I am certain, even though she makes fun of the ex.

3.  I was pissed at father-in-law for facilitating yet another intrusion from my husband's ex wife on a holiday.

4.  Despite my husband's father's "advanced age" (he's younger and healthier than my own dad is), he can still pick up a phone and even manages to do so on rare occasions.  Stepmother-in-law can also email or make phone calls.  And yet they never do.  It is always incumbent on my husband to call or visit them.

5.  While I never wanted to alienate my husband's family, they have generally treated me like an interloper.

6.  It's interesting that stepmother-in-law would send that text a couple of months after the last time my husband called his dad.  And it went undiscovered for a couple more months... so she probably thinks we're holding a grudge.  She likely resents it, even though she's been known to make people "dead to her" many times.

7.  This whole thing is now going to make a visit with them even more stressful.  My husband is prone to guilt, so he's going to feel pressure to visit them, but I'm disinclined to go with him.

*Sigh*... I wish I could be the type of person who rises above everything and just be patient with my husband's stepmother, but I seriously have gotten to a point in my life at which I have no patience for this shit anymore.  Life is short.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home again...

Holy shit...  I will be blogging about the trip to Italy and Greece on my other blog, the Traveling Overeducated Housewife.  The blog will include photos, profanity, a few rants, and perhaps a video or two.  The past two weeks have been rich with fun and fulfillment and I'll be wanting to write about my experiences as soon as possible while they are still fresh in my mind.

Yesterday was utterly exhausting.  It started at about 7:00am Greece time, when my husband and I went to breakfast at our hotel.  Our taxi picked us up at 8:30 and we were taken to the airport, where we had plenty of time to sit around waiting for our flight to Philadelphia, which lasted approximately 11 hours.  I think that was the longest flight I've ever been on.  It was quite uncomfortable, mainly owing to a couple of entitled people sitting in front of us, who insisted on reclining into our laps the entire time.  Yes, I know the seats recline and people have the "right" to recline if they want to.  That doesn't mean they should do that for the entire flight.  I ended up with a massive charley horse thanks to these inconsiderate jerks.

We got off in Philly, only to face the whole security rigamarole.  It was hot; I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and pissy.  For some reason, that caused one of the TSA agents to harass me.  Thankfully, we made it through security without my getting arrested, though as tired and already agitated as I already was, it might have been a close call.  The only cool thing about the whole experience was watching one of the Beagle Brigade dogs bust some woman for having an apple in her bag.

I dozed off on the one hour flight to North Carolina from Philly.  My husband woke me up for some water.  I think we were on the road home by 9:00 or so...  I was ranting the whole time, hoarse, because I got a nasty cold during our travels.  We stopped for food at McDonald's, which I later threw up.  I woke up at about 6:30am for some reason, despite being exhausted.

I have a lot to do...  But I also have a lot to write about and now my brain is buzzing with the prospect of all the reviews and writing that will keep me busy in the near future.

For now, I look forward to reuniting with Zane and Arran and getting lots and lots of beagle kisses.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ready to come home...

We have two nights left on our trip and I'm kind of ready to get back to life again.  I've actually missed my blog and other writing projects, so it'll be great to get home and catch up... And see my sweet dogs again, too.  Both my husband and I are struggling with a nasty cold.  I picked it up first and thought I was mostly done with it except for the cough and residual exhaustion that comes from being sick.  I'm a little hoarse this morning and my husband is especially icky.  I think we'll take it easy until it's time to go home.

Anyway, see you soon.  I have a lot to write/bitch about.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

One last post before I go... Because Miss Cleo invaded my thoughts...

Back in the late 90s, Miss Cleo was THE SHIT.  I remember going to Jamaica in 2002, when my sister got married, and Miss Cleo's ads were on TV all the time.

And the whole time I was in Jamaica, I kept thinking about Miss Cleo, imploring everyone to "Call [her] now for your free readin'"  I was in Jamaica kind of under duress, anyway.  My sister wanted me to sing at her wedding and would have been wicked pissed if I wasn't there.

The above ad is especially funny, because when I was in college, my friend Chris used to go around and say in a fake German accent, "Danke schoen, bitte schoen....  Has you got a question?  I gots the answer!"  Then he would grin and spread his legs while pointing at his crotch.  Chris is probably the best friend I've ever had.  He's like a brother from another mother.  I decided we'd be buddies for life when he told me the story of how his older brother used to torment him when they were kids by putting kernals of cut corn on his teeth so they appeared yellow.  Then he'd smile at Chris, thoroughly grossing him out.  For that reason, Chris hates corn.  I have similar reasons for hating mushrooms, but my hatred extends into an actual phobia.

Anyway, Miss Cleo popped into my head tonight... after I imbibed in a beer, a mojito, a mint julep, and half a bottle of wine.  No wonder, right?

And here she is on Jenny Jones's show... Jenny Jones is as washed up as Miss Cleo is.  I think she was eventually exposed for being a fake.  Big surprise!

Call me now for your free readin'!  ;-)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hitting the road tomorrow...

I am terrible at packing.  I have a tendency to take too much stuff when I go on trips.  We're going to be gone for about two weeks and we'll even have access to a laundry service on SeaDream I.  But I never know what the weather is going to be like, so I end up packing a lot of shit.  And I have to dress up a bit for dinner, too.

I'm hoping tomorrow's flights will go smoothly.  We fly out of RDU at about 3:30, land in Philly, then fly out of Philly at 6:35.  We should be arriving in Venice at around 9:30 or so the next morning.  We'll spend about 30 hours in Venice, then head to Florence for two nights.  Then we'll go to Rome for two nights and head for the ship.  A week from  today, we'll be getting on the cruise.

I don't plan to do a lot of blogging while I'm gone because I'll have my iPad, which sucks to type on.  I have a keyboard that I could probably use... Maybe I'll bring it, but I hope to be too busy to want to write.

I spent this morning packing and cleaning... and I think the dogs know something is up.  I'll miss them.  I always do when we take these trips.

I expect I'll have plenty to write about when we get back on May 21st... especially on my travel blog!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The death of Hotmail... and Amanda Knox

So today, Hotmail is "dead".  I have had a Hotmail account since the late 1990s.  I think I signed up for one in 1998 or so, and then when I got married in 2002 and changed my name, I opened another account in my married name.  I still have the one I used when I was single, though it's mostly full of spam and, curiously enough, emails for other people.

Somehow, other peoples' emails end up getting routed to my old Hotmail account and, I know in at least one case, the person who was supposed to get the email was a Mormon missionary who happened to have my old last name and same first initial.  A couple of times, I wrote to people to let them know that they had the wrong person.  Finally, I pretty much started to ignore the old account and only open it occasionally to dump old emails.

I had an interesting experience on MSN Messenger in 2000 or so.  Some guy sent me a message, asking how "Granny" was.  I was confused at first, but then it turned out that the guy was an Army buddy of my cousin's.  He has the same first initial as I do and, I think, might have had a similar Hotmail address.  So the guy messaged me, thinking he was getting my cousin.  It's remarkable to me, though, because obviously we aren't the only ones with our last name and the first initial J.  He could have gotten anybody, but he got me.  The guy turned out to be British and was actually a fun correspondent for awhile.

I still have a Hotmail address, but technically Hotmail is now Outlook.  I've actually been using the new interface for awhile now.  It's not too bad, but I don't see why we had to switch.  It looks like Outlook uses flash more than Hotmail did.  I also have Yahoo! and Gmail addresses, but I seem to use Hotmail the most, even though I've had emails go missing.  Yahoo! also recently changed its interface a bit.

I just started reading Amanda Knox's book.  It's somewhat interesting, so far.  A lot of people have said she's not very likable.  I'm not far enough into the book to determine that yet, though I do think that she made some rather unwise choices.  On the other hand, I can give her somewhat a pass for being as young as she was when she was studying in Italy.  She clearly had no street smarts and a need to be liked by men.  I still doubt she had anything to do with Meredith Kercher's murder, but then I need to read more of the book to be sure.

The weather in North Carolina is unseasonably cool this year.  I bet I'll be missing it in a few months when I'm in Texas, sweating my substantial ass off.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Peace Corps volunteer’s hellish abortion story

Peace Corps volunteer’s hellish abortion story...

I wasn't planning to blog again today, but I just read about this Peace Corps Volunteer who was in Peru and was raped by her host family's cousin.  The rape resulted in pregnancy and the Peace Corps pretty much told this woman she had to pay for the abortion herself.  This isn't really news to me.  The government does not provide funds for abortions, even when they are caused by rapes.  I couldn't get an abortion at a military treatment facility, nor would it be covered by Tricare.  And abortions were not covered when I was myself a Volunteer.

Actually, though, this story brought to mind something else... rape.  I had a friend in the Peace Corps who, almost exactly seventeen years ago, was brutally assaulted and raped while walking home in her village.  I remember how the Peace Corps handled it.  The guy who committed the crime was eventually found and prosecuted.  His own mother testified against him in court.  He got nine years and probably died in the clink.

Unfortunately, Peace Corps Volunteers are definitely not immune to crime.  I was lucky.  Nothing more than occasional harassment ever happened to me.  But my friend was harassed a lot, even before she was raped.  I remember one time, her arm got broken after she was assaulted by some man who was after her.  And the woman in the above story went back to Peru and was assaulted again.

Stories like these really drive home how dangerous living abroad can be.  That being said, I'd still move abroad again in a heartbeat.


Despite my resolve to stay away from RfM, I happened to run across an interesting post by a guy who reminded others that they are adults who need to have and enforce boundaries against pushy adults.  This isn't just an issue that affects people who have grown up in religious families; it's an issue that affects anyone who has been taught to be too nice.  My husband was not raised in a particularly religious home, but both he and his mother, and maybe to a lesser extent, his father, are now or have been way too "nice" for their own good.  The end result is that pushy, abusive people have the opportunity to steamroll them.

My mother has always been pretty respectful of my boundaries.  Since I've been on my own, she mostly doesn't get too pushy, with a few exceptions.  My dad, on the other hand, used to get pushy with me over things that weren't really his concern.  I remember back in 2007, my husband was in Iraq and I was at home, preparing for our move to Germany.  My dad called me.  I don't remember why.  I remember our conversation became uncomfortable when he started nagging me about getting a job.

At the time, we were about six months from moving overseas and I had spent quite some time searching fruitlessly for work.  Prior to that phone call, my husband had told me to quit searching because it was stressing me out and we were going to be moving anyway.  So I took my resume off Monster and stopped attending job interviews.

My dad was apparently troubled about this development, though he never actually asked me why I quit searching.  During that phone call, my dad asked me if I'd thought about looking for a job while my husband was away.  Then, before I could answer, he made some comment about how he thought I was "depressed" and needed to get help for my "problems".  This, coming from a raging alcoholic who has his own issues with depression that he's not really dealt with and sadly never will.  

I was just speechless as I listened to my dad speak to me.  At that point, I had been married a few years and was well into my 30s.  

When I finally gathered my wits, I said, "You know what?  My employment status is none of your business, Dad.  I'm a grown, married woman and how I spend my time is between me and Bill."  I was actually pretty pissed off about it.  My dad, to his credit, handled it better than I expected him to.  He seemed kind of embarrassed and admitted it was none of his business.  For my part, once I calmed down, I was actually feeling pretty exhilarated.  I had established a boundary and enforced it.    

Unfortunately, about a year later, my dad had back surgery.  He'd been drinking a lot before the surgery and did not react well to the anesthesia.  He ended up in a coma for a couple of months.  Now he has lewy-body dementia and uses a wheelchair.  He's 80 years old and my mom thinks he'll outlive her.

I have sisters who had to be taught boundaries too.  I'm the youngest and they used to take care of me, which I think makes them believe they have the right to be disrespectful.  They have gotten better, though, and it was mainly because I pushed back when they pushed me.  It wasn't the end of the world, even though it did result in some temporary unpleasantness.  

Moving on, today I read an interesting article about how the media has been shaming pregnant Kim Kardashian for being too "fat".  I will admit, she does appear to have gained a lot of weight.  But a lot of pregnant women gain weight.  Granted, Kim Kardashian is a public figure, and she is carrying Kanye West's baby.  But seriously, folks...  Her body is her business.  Moreover, people who claim to be concerned about her health have no way of knowing what her health status actually is.

The same article compares Kim to Kate Middleton, who is adorably and inoffensively pregnant and only now showing two months before her due date.  I like Kate Middleton as much as the next person, but I almost wonder if she poops or passes gas.  I mean, I know she must, but she's just the epitome of class.  That must be a heavy burden for her, because everyone admires her right now.  If and when she makes a misstep, the press is likely to turn on her.

I don't think we need more coverage of Kim Kardashian and her pregnancy (which seems to be going on forever), but I do like the fact that the person who wrote the sympathetic article about her image problems recognizes that the public can be very fickle and downright mean.  For all the material blessings these two women have, I wonder if it's worth all the privacy they give up. 
I think once you have kids, people think they have the right to make comments anyway.  It's like your kids erase your boundaries and people are way too free with their input.    

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dr. Phil's creepy guest today...

I'm watching the second part of Dr. Phil's special today.  This guy is a freaking controlling monster.  I showed a clip to my husband yesterday and he got a look on his face that told me he knew how the woman on the show felt.  His ex used to do a lot of the same kind of stuff, only not as obviously.  My husband said she used to tell him... "I do so much for you."

Let's see what she "did" for him...

1. Got him to "adopt" her son and pay his bills.  Then got him to disown him when the gravy train came to the end of the line.

2. Had two daughters with him, then proceeded to get them to turn their backs on him and send him hateful letters disowning him just in time for his birthday.

3. Threatened to turn his own parents against him.

4. Pressured him into leaving the Army early and move to a po dunk town where there was nothing but low paying factory work to be had.  Then, when he got the opportunity to go back in and get out of the financial mess they were in, she ridiculed him.

5. Pressured him into having a vasectomy because pregnancy was too "hard" for her.  Then, when the marriage was over, remarried and had two more kids.

6. Refused to maintain a job when they were living at poverty level.  At one point, my husband was supporting his ex, her three kids, her sister, and her sister's kids... on a salary of about $27,000.

7. Kept ending up in the hospital over vague illnesses and using credit cards on frivolous things like landscaping and baklava, racking up huge medical and credit card bills, which eventually landed them in bankruptcy.  Ex would not let my husband manage the money, which had disastrous consequences.

8.  Pressured my husband into agreeing to buy a house because she said it looked like a house she saw in a snow globe.  The house turned out to be a money pit and they were not equipped to fix it up.  It went into foreclosure when she refused to hire a real estate agent to sell it.

9. When they had sex, she would have sudden mood swings and tell him to "hurry up and finish".

10. She lied to friends, family, and church members about his character.

11. Threatened his life on more than one occasion.

12.  Accused him of being gay.  Then accused him of being a misogynistic, women-hating, porn addict.

13. Never appreciated anything he did for her.  Expected him to do things and never said thank you.

14. Sabotaged his efforts to succeed at his job.  Deliberately stayed out late when he had to work third shift in a factory, knowing that he had to get to work.  She'd come home late, making him late for work because he couldn't leave the kids alone.

15. Pressured him to join the Mormon church by making it clear that if he didn't, he'd lose his kids.  Joining the church forced him to give up some of the few things he loves in life... good coffee, teas, and alcoholic beverages (in moderation).  It also forced him to wear special underwear rather than his comfortable boxer shorts.

16. Used the Mormon church as a shame and alienation tool.  Forced him to "confess" to his bishop his "porn problem"-- which I have yet to notice in ten years of marriage-- and then, when the bishop didn't come down hard enough on him, refused to let him baptize his older daughter.  In retrospect, that was a good thing.  He can't be blamed for leading her into the toxic Mormon cult.

17. Pressured him to be her accomplice when she exploited other people...

18. Tried to get him to keep secrets from me.

19. Belittled and downplayed his many accomplishments.

20. Isolated him from loved ones.

21. Tried to worm her way back into his life; but then when he declined, cut him off from his kids.

22.  Tried to convince him that he was unloved... and unlovable, except for by her.

23. Staged multiple holiday dramas in his father's house, including presenting him with divorce papers on Easter.

24. Made major purchases when he was underemployed and without his knowledge or consent.

25.  Showed him extreme disrespect.  Treated him like shit.

Granted, as an adult, he had a part in all of this.  He should have stood up for himself.  He especially should have taken control of the finances.  And he should have listened to the little voice in his head, telling him not to get involved with her.  But, abusive people prey on those who have low self-confidence and lagging self-esteem.  Once you are in an abusive relationship, it's hard to break out.  It's like sinking in quicksand.  He needed an outside force to help him break the suction.  In his case, it was his decision to rejoin the Army and maintaining distance... then meeting me and realizing that other women could love him.

Later, he came to realize that as much as losing his kids hurt, they have to have their own lives.  And being a father doesn't define him or make his life worthwhile.  It might have been a lot more important to him had he been given the opportunity to love and raise his kids.  But he wasn't given that opportunity, so he's had to make do.  Life without them isn't the end of the world.  We're doing fine.

I truly hope that woman on Dr. Phil's show gets the help she needs.  I also hope her horrible ex boyfriend stays away from her.  What worries me is that he will find a new victim once he realizes his ex girlfriend is gone for good.  And he might actually kill someone; he has threatened his ex girlfriend's life many times.

So, as much as I hate to see this kind of abuse publicized as a form of entertainment, I do hope that it helps the guest and other people like her.  I hope being on Dr. Phil's show ends up being worth it.