Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The 'net...

So Bill went to set us up with Internet and TV and the soonest they can get to us is next Thursday. He's going to work on it, because I can't get anything done without the Internet.  I mean, I can unpack boxes, but I don't know when our stuff will get to us.  And I have shopping to do, too.  So I may not be posting as much next week, either.  Bill told me about it and I raised some hell, so maybe there will be a solution of some sort,

Moving is such a pain!  And Texas is HOT!

In a surprisingly shitty La Quinta in San Antonio...

I picked it because it's near the property manager.  Bill is going to see the house tomorrow while I watch the dogs.  Then, if all is okay, we'll get $3900 together for first month's rent, a security deposit, and pet fees.  Then we'll sign the lease and Bill will try to get the water turned on for the weekend.

I'm in a bad mood.  I have a lot to vent about, but since I have only an iPad, I'll save it or when my computer is set up.  I think I'll be in a better mood when I have a house and an appointment to fix my tooth... Oh, and my furniture.

Getting out of this dive of a motel will help, too.  We did have good Mexican food for dinner, at least.

I almost got creamed on the road today.  Texas truckers are crazy.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

If it's not one thing, it's another...

Seems that now I have a loose filling.  I was flossing last night and as I tried to pull the floss between my teeth, I noticed it got stuck.  Touching the tooth with my tongue, I noticed the filling had come out a little.  It doesn't hurt and seems secure, so I think we'll make San Antonio with no problem.  But now I have to find a dentist ASAP.  I'm afraid the tooth in question is one of two baby teeth I never lost (and hope not to lose, since there are no permanent teeth under them).  I will eventually need to get a bridge or an implant.  I prefer an implant, though I dread the process.  Hope this tooth hangs in there.

Monday, July 29, 2013

In Beaumont, Texas...

In a surprisingly nice La Quinta Inn...  We left Gulfport at about 9:00 or so and got to Beaumont just before 3:00.  Let me just say, the difference in infrastructure between Louisiana and Texas is striking.  It reminded me of the difference between the Republic of Georgia and Turkey in 1996.  We crossed the border and suddenly all the street lights worked.  In Texas, I noticed the roads were suddenly in much better shape and the speed limit was 75 MPH.

The weather is sauna like.  We stopped for lunch in Lafayette, LA and I noticed there was a call from my mom.  I was trying to hold the dogs while calling my mom.  I commented that it was like Hell.  She laughed and said she was pregnant with my sister in Shreveport, LA.  There was no air conditioning and she had morning sickness and a UTI.

Mom wanted to invite us to Thanksgiving again.  She made a point of telling me that my sisters all wanted me to come.  The idea fills me with dread.  I may acquiesce just to get them off my case.  Or maybe not.  We'll see.  I'd rather go to Costa Rica.

Bill is looking at a menu for a local Cajun restaurant.  I mentioned that it was probably owned by Greeks.  Sure enough, it is.

Tomorrow, we reach San Antonio.

Watching the local news...

And I've noticed the anchors and weather folks are kind of heavy.  I'm not offended by that.  What's important is that they are competent.  But seeing these heavier anchors did spark an interesting conversation with Bill.  We wondered why they looked so different and Bill said he thought maybe they don't care about weight as much down here.

My comment was that it could be there weren't as many thinner candidates for the job.  Mississippi is historically among the fattest states in the USA.  Bill said he thought it was because of the rich southern diet down here.  And I said, that correlates to the agrarian culture and poverty.  Mississippi is also a poor state and poverty, at least in the USA, correlates to obesity.

I remember back in 1999, when I started studying for my MPH.  I took a class that was about perspectives of health care.  I don't remember the name of the course, but I do remember the course number.  I also remembered being surprised to hear that in America, it's poor people who tend to be fattest.

This was a weird concept for me, since only two years prior, I lived in a country where poor people were very thin.  Armenians didn't like "fat", but very thin people were thin because they didn't have food.  If you were heavier, it meant you had money.  If you lost weight while staying with a host, in their eyes, it meant they weren't being hospitable.  It was odd to adjust my thinking back to the USA, where poor people are heavier not because they have no food, but because of the quality of the food they have access to.

Many really poor Americans don't live in areas where they have access to markets with good food.  They don't tend to have cars that can take them to areas where good food is available, nor can they necessarily afford the gas to fuel the cars.  Once they get to the store, they can't necessarily afford the perishable foods that are healthiest, nor do they always have refrigerators to keep them fresh.  Boxed, canned, processed foods are cheaper and last longer... But they also tend to lead to obesity.

What about a garden?  For that, you need land and time to tend the garden... And you have to know  how to make the food grow.  Some poor people have that.  Some don't.

Interesting how watching the weather can lead to such thinking on a Monday morning.  I don't assume anchor people in Mississippi are heavier because they are poor...  There are many reasons why people gain weight.  I'm not poor or from the Deep South, nor do I suffer from a lack of education.  I can shop at Whole Foods anytime I want to if there is one accessible.  But I haven't been "slim" in years.  I eat foods that aren't necessarily good for me and I don't exercise enough.  My guess is that the anchors down here are the same.

I just thought it was interesting to think about how the axis shifted.  In many parts of the world, it's true that the thinnest people are the poorest because they lack food.  In America, some people lack food, but most just lack access to good food.  That is, food that is good for you, as opposed to good tasting.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In Gulfport, MS...

Next stop: Beaumont, Texas

Just got here.  We're in a cheesy, but pet friendly, Best Western.  I think this is the first Best Western I've been in since we got married.  We had pre-marriage counseling in Clarkton, NC and the only motel in town was a Best Western.  I signed up for their frequent stay program not knowing it would be eleven years unil my next stay.

This morning, the dogs went nuts as I took them out to pee.  They ran into another dog.  Some woman gave me a dirty look because the dogs woke her at 8:00am.  Sorry lady.  That's why we're on the pet floor and paid $100 extra.  Besides, it's not like I made them bark.

Then, as we left Peachtree City, some guy blasted his horn at me because I needed to merge and he couldn't wait two seconds to let me in so I could get on I-85 too.  I responded to his honk with a mighty "Oh, fuck off!"  A couple of hours later in Alabama, a biker flipped me off or no good reason.  Seriously, I was in the right lane and there was no traffic.  I wasn't holding him up or about to run him off the road.  He got ahead of me and raised his left arm with a one finger salute.  I had fantasies of him hitting a big pothole and flying over his handlebars.  Extra points if he hit himself in the balls hard enough to sterilize himself on the way.  Asshole.

We stopped for lunch at a KFC/Taco Bell in Evergreen, Alabama.  I had to pee; but there were only two toilets, one of which was overflowing.  A line of women were in there and the person occupying the toilet took forever.  We ate chicken in the nasty parking lot while dodging the dogs and biting flies.  Bill's car (used to be my car) is filthy.

Got back on the road and got honked at again by a disgruntled trucker.  I think he might have been honking at someone else-- perhaps one of the many idiots doing 50mph in 70mph zone.

Stopped for gas right before the MS line at an obnoxious gas station/Wendy's, then got back on the road only to be held up by an accident.  Got to our cheesy motel and Bill promptly stepped on both a fire ant mound and a sticker burr.  So now he's cussing.  I got stung yesterday... Guess it was his turn today.

Don't plan to do anything in Gulfport.  Just gonna rest up for tomorrow.

In Peachtree City, GA...

Got here about an hour ago.  Have a raging headache and some insect stung me and now I have a big welt.  But at least we're done driving for the day.

It's nice to be in Peachtree City again.  We used to live in the next town, so we know the area well.  In fact, last time we moved, we stayed at this hotel, the Wyndham.  It's a big resort, but pet friendly.  Last time, we kenneled the dogs.

Bill is out hunting for dinner, local beer, and breakfast for tomorrow.

Had a scare with my car this morning.  We got gas and it stalled.  I rolled back into a parking lot while Bill left without me.  Luckily, I got it to start.  I don't know what's wrong with it.  It definitely needs servicing.

I am in for the night and ready to crash.  So are the dogs.  They are both sleeping.

Next stop: Gulfport, MS

Friday, July 26, 2013


Property manager came through and initially freaked when she saw the floor.  But then Bill showed her the tenting in the back room and it became obvious the floors are rotting.  She said not to worry.  The problem with the floors was obviously not caused by us.

So it looks like we can start this trip without too many worries.  Phew!

After today, the trip begins...

Which means I won't be writing lengthy posts if at all.  I'm really ready to get on the road.  The exasperation of cleaning everything mostly by myself has been a real downer for me.

Last night, after the movers left, Bill showed up in his uniform bearing chocolate.  I was about to burst into tears because my back was killing me and I was still upset about the movers.  They had left some stuff.  Bill had to call and get them to come back to get the last of the stuff, which included a roll of their packing paper.  The lady in charge had also left some original paperwork that she needed, so she would have had to come back anyway.

The property manager said if the moving company didn't fix the issue with the floor in a timely manner, we would lose our security deposit.  While we don't want to lose $1200, it's more our reputation that we're worried about.  We are generally very good tenants and usually leave property in better condition than we find it in.  Even the moving lady that I had to give a somewhat bad evaluation to commented on how nice the house smells today.  So it upsets us that there are these issues... but honestly, the small hole in the ceiling was caused by a leak which was verified by the property manager's own handyman... and the dampness caused the tenting.  The handyman also pretty much said the same thing about the floor; that it wasn't installed correctly.  These are not things we could have controlled.

Something tells me, the moving company will fix the floor, though.  I had to fill out an evaluation and gave them a rating of "fair", because of the issues.  Some of the crew was very good, but some of the young guys are lummoxes who need to be taught to respect other peoples' property.  Typical teen-aged boys.  Long on energy and muscles... short on common sense and patience.  I was impressed that two of them managed to pick up the piano by themselves.  I even heard one of them say they liked our piano because it was "light".  I sure didn't think so when Bill and I had to move it a couple of years ago.  I probably blogged about it.

On another note, Bill got a really good evaluation from a two star General yesterday.  Bill is a member of the National Guard, but works as if he's a full time regular Army officer.  The promotion system is different for the Guard than it is for regular Army.  Anyway, Bill was selected to make Colonel, but there were never any slots available to promote him and there were other people who were either more politically in line to move up, or had war college or command.

Anyway, the General asked Bill why the Guard hadn't promoted him.  Bill explained and the General said it was too bad, since he thought Bill had the potential to be a good Colonel and perhaps even be a General himself.  The guy was sincere and as Bill was telling me about it, he was tearing up.  It meant a lot to him that his bosses at Bragg thought he did so well.  The General thanked Bill for finishing strong.  Hopefully that will lead to something good in the future.  Bill deserves it.

So closes another chapter in our lives... the North Carolina years.  Texas, here we come!  Get ready for Hurricane knotty!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Movers are gone...

It was like a herd of elephants came through here.  My husband was clearing everything at Fort Bragg, so I had to deal with them myself.  

There's a section of the floor that was tenting, probably because this house has a problem with dampness and the floor wasn't installed properly.  When it got damp last year, it tented, then went back to normal.  Then we had more wet weather this year and it tented some more.  So it was like a speed bump.  

Those damned clumsy teenaged guys with their big feet kept stepping on and tripping over the bump until one of them knocked a couple of sections out.  I had asked them to be careful because I was afraid they were going to mess up the floor and lo and behold, they did.  This house has a problem with rotting floors anyway.

I made a note of it on the paperwork.  Hopefully they'll take responsibility.  We did ask the property manager months ago to talk to the landlord about it.  They never got back to us about it.

Hopefully, our stuff will get to us more or less intact.  Right now, I just want to get out of here.  They did at least move the landlord's fridge back into the house for us.

They also left a bunch of stuff... and were in such a hurry to get out of here that I didn't catch it.

I think tomorrow, I'm going to let Bill deal with this shit.  I am through with laminate floors and modular homes, though... They're too cheap and fragile.   

Loading up...

The movers are coming later to finish packing and loading us.  I am really hoping I can get most of the shit done today so we can be through this part of the move.  My back and hips hurt, reminding me that I'm getting old and need to exercise more.

I just hope this goes fast.  I truly hate this process...

This morning, Bill was fretting about how I was going to get lunch, since he has to be at work for part of the day handling last minute stuff.  I have to stay home and watch the movers and our house is in the sticks.  As we were leaving the mediocre Hampton Inn, I noticed they had bagged breakfasts to go.  I picked one up.

Bill said, "You can get a hot breakfast in there".  He pointed at the breakfast room.

I just looked him in the eye and said, "Lunch."

He smiled and said, "Smart."

I think he's happy to have a wife who thinks outside the box sometimes.  But really, it's more because I can't tolerate going without food anymore.  There was a time in my life when I could literally not eat for days.  I can't anymore.  My blood sugar plunges and I feel horrible.  I get really short tempered.  I'm probably diabetic or about to become diabetic.  Or maybe I'm just getting old.

So bless the mediocre Hampton Inn for having breakfasts to go.  They may have saved my sanity today.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I like Camilla...

There, I said it.  I like Prince Charles's second wife.  She's the one he should have married in the first place.  She has the right temperament to be his wife and frankly, they look like they belong together.

Granted, if Charles had married Camilla, Prince William and Prince Harry would not be the handsome blokes they are.  And Britain's royal family would not be as interesting as it has been.  Diana was an amazingly charismatic woman and very beautiful.  She was a breath of fresh air.  People loved her.  But-- I think a lot of people forget that Diana was human and had her faults, just like anyone.  She and Charles were both unfaithful in their marriage.  Diana had a love/hate relationship with the press.  And while she did appear to be a warm and loving woman, there have been reports that if you got on her bad side, she would cut you off without a second thought.

A lot of people have written about how Diana has missed the birth of her grandson and how sad that is.  It is sad, because Diana should not have died when she did.  On the other hand, if Diana had borderline personality disorder, as has been reported, it's likely that she would have had a hard time letting her sons go.  She might not have gotten along with William's wife, Kate.  A lot of women with BPD have a hard time relating to their children's spouses because they see them as a threat.

At least Camilla seems to be fitting in decently enough.  She and Charles have had a drama free marriage thus far and seem to be very happy together.  I have a feeling if they had been allowed to be together from the start, they would have had a long marriage.

I'm a little sad about all the crappy comments about Camilla.  I know people think she's a homewrecker, but the truth is, no one in that story was totally innocent.  And she makes Charles happy.  I, for one, wish her well... even though I do wonder how Diana would have celebrated the birth of her grandson.  I'm sure it would have been beautiful...  but how could the world deal with glamourous Diana and dazzling Kate at the same time?  It might have been more than we could have handled.

Down with Camilla hate.  She's alright.

Waiting for the packers...

They said they'd be here at 8:00 and it's now quarter to 9:00.  Bill took the dogs to the pet resort so they won't be underfoot as we pack all the stuff today.  Tomorrow, they will load it up and we will spend Thursday and Friday cleaning everything.  Saturday, we hope to be on the road.

We will likely stop in Peachtree City, Georgia for a night.  We used to live right next to Peachtree City, so we already know where to stay... and where to pick up some JailHouse beer.  Then we'll probably stop somewhere near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Then we'll spend a night west of Houston.  Then we'll hopefully reach San Antonio, probably before August 1st.  That means more time in a hotel.

The Army pays for ten days of temporary lodging as we sort out our new housing.  The shit is about to start now.  I'd like to get started so it will be over and done.  As I go through and throw things away, I'm realizing that it's good that we're moving out of this house-- even though I will miss the yard.  It's falling apart.  The floors are rotting.  So are the door frames.  The laminate flooring is tenting.  Every time it rains, the windows fog up.  Two of the bathrooms have no ventilation, so they get all steamed up, especially when it's rainy.

It's been cheap to live here and the people are nice, but it's time for a better house.  I know Bill looks forward to a better kitchen... as do I.

And now that we've experienced it, I think we won't be living in a modular home again, if we can help it.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Taking my vibrators to the dump...

As we're preparing for the packers to come here tomorrow, Bill and I have been discussing what to do with some items we haven't been using.  A few years ago, when Bill was deployed, I invested in a "Magic Wand" vibrator by Hitachi.  I was really excited about getting this device, since I'd heard such great things about it.  Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed with the wand.  Somehow, I also ended up with two of them.  I reviewed the wand on Epinions and ended up getting some uninvited correspondence with yucky, horny men on Yahoo! Messenger.  It was way gross.

So, since about 2007, my vibrators have sat in the bottom of a drawer, bereft of my attention.  I needed something a little more powerful than the Magic Wand and ended up finding something more like a jackhammer for my "special sensual needs".

I have a few other massaging items that I don't use anymore... a water bath with jets for my feet, an electric vibrating foot massager, and a cheap chair massager for my back that never fit any of the chairs in our house.  So there's a pile of massaging items in our bedroom waiting for a trip to the dump.

I've been imagining what it will look like when Bill takes these items to the landfill.  One time, when he went there, there were people hanging out at the dump, waiting to see what people were throwing out.  They were delighted when Bill offered them an ugly 40 year old yellow American Tourister suitcase I had inherited from my mom.  They referred to it as an "Ike Turner" suitcase.  I can only wonder what their reactions would be if he offered them my vibrators...

Incidentally, the Magic Wand doesn't really look pornographic.  In fact, if you read the directions, there's no discussion of it being used as a sensual aid.  It's supposedly intended for use on parts of the body that are perfectly acceptable for public view.  But I have never heard of anyone using the Magic Wand for anything other than a sexual toy.  Go figure.

A lot of people supposedly love this thing... 

Speaking of Mr. Hankey...

I read with interest and delight about a woman in Manchester, England who tried to ride her horse through a McDonald's drive thru.  The drive thru operator refused to serve her because the drive thru is only for motorized vehicles, so she brought the horse into the restaurant where he then proceeded to take a big dump on the floor.  Naturally, the horse's visit from Mr. Hankey was very upsetting to the customers, who were all trying to enjoy Ronald McDonald's cooking.  I'm sure the steaming pile of dung did little to help them achieve that end.

Somehow, this seems oddly appropriate.  Of course, since I spent most of my childhood in a barn with horses, I am very familiar with the sight and smell of horse shit.  Indeed, I think as poop goes, horse manure is among the least offensive out there.  At least horses are pretty much vegetarians.  I say "pretty much", because my pony once ate a tuna sandwich.  He was also known to enjoy cake and everyone knows many cakes are made with eggs.

The woman ended up getting a "fixed penalty notice" for causing alarm and distress to everyone.  Those Brits sure make getting a ticket sound proper and just.

Me and Rusty, back in the day... (1988)

Mr. Hankey needs to pay me a visit...

Ever watch South Park?  I have a really irreverent sense of humor, but I never got around to watching South Park until my husband and I lived in Germany.  By that time, it had been on TV for several years.  Let me say I really enjoy that show.

Anyway, when I have too much wine, sometimes I start to sound a bit like a character known as "Autumn"...  Autumn is a dissatisfied housewife who is constantly drunk.  She yells at her husband, Mr. Hankey.  Mr. Hankey and Autumn are both pieces of poo and they have three little nuggets.  That's not important as it pertains to this post.

The point is, sometimes when I have too much wine, I rant.  I don't think I rant about things that I have no right to rant about; I just tend to get unnecessarily angrier and more profane.  And sometimes I need to be gently reminded to sit down and STFU.

This morning, as Bill and I were waking up, I told him the next time I get like cranky Autumn, he should just say, "Autumn, you're drunk."  And then he should remind me that in the morning, I will be getting a visit from Mr. Hankey.  Mr. Hankey shows up whether I've had wine or been a teetotaler.  He's a very regular visitor every morning.  My husband is not nearly as blessed with visits from Mr. Hankey as I am.

My guess is that if my husband said that to me, I wouldn't get angrier.  It would make me laugh.  Sometimes I just need to be redirected when I go off about something.  And sometimes I'd do well to drink Snapple.  Many times, I make a conscious choice to drink Perrier instead of booze.  It's better for me.  But we're trying to unload some booze before the big move.  

At least I don't throw things, though.


Monday, July 22, 2013

The cleaning has begun in earnest... On being organized...

I just cleaned some cabinets, vacuumed, stripped one of the beds, and threw out a few things.  As the day progresses, I'll be doing more stuff, purging crap we don't need, yet not purging everything that needs to be purged.  We never do.  We still have boxes from several moves ago that haven't been unpacked.  The new house is bigger, so that probably means we can unpack more stuff.  I hope in the process of doing that, we can get rid of more.

We did manage to get rid of some old electronics.  Bill hauled them to Best Buy.  And he does plan a trip to the dump to get rid of some stuff we aren't going to use again.  It won't be enough, though.  I really could use a professional organizer to come in and make me throw some things away.

Over the weekend, my Gmail inbox involuntarily got separated into three different "boxes".  I didn't ask for this.  It was done for me by people who obviously think I need to organize my email more.  That kind of makes me nuts.  I mean, it's sort of the same crap Facebook does.  Every so often, they reorganize things so you have to get used to a new format.  I guess they do this so they stay relevant... or maybe so certain programmers can keep their jobs.  But dammit, maybe I don't want my inbox separated into different categories.  What if the emails don't get routed the right way?  It's bad enough that some of my emails end up in spam when they aren't spam... and vice versa.

This morning, I inadvertently made myself sick when I swept my tongue with my toothbrush.  Somehow, I stimulated my gag reflex and ended up dry heaving.  And then, I somehow messed up my neck, so it hurts today.  I'm looking at all this mess around me and thinking it'll be great if we settle somewhere for a few years.  I don't know that we'll stay at our next house that long, since I think we'd like to purchase a home at some point and the house we're going to is bigger than we need and too close to the neighbors.

*Sigh*... I'm tired of writing about our upcoming move.  Next week will probably be a somewhat light writing week, since we'll be traveling.  We do plan to pack my desk, computer, and chair in a UHaul so I'll have it immediately when we get to Texas.  I need my computer.  It's my best friend.  ;-)

I can't wait to be done with this.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Geraldo Rivera and his "selfie"...

I was rather surprised this afternoon when a friend of mine posted about 70 year old Geraldo Rivera, who was a famously sleazy talk show host in the late 80s and 90s and sort of got more serious in recent years as a reporter.  I remember when he got his nose broken on his talk show back in the late 80s when some of his skinhead guests got into a brawl...

This is a fifteen minute clip for those of you who weren't around in the 80s...

Nowadays, Geraldo is still keepin' it classy by posting apparently "nekkid selfies" of himself.  A friend of mine alerted me to this spectacle, which appeared on Twitter and is now popping up on Facebook.  All I have to say is, good lordy...  How unbelievably rotten.  He says that 70 is the new 50.  Keep telling yourself that, Geraldo.  

I wonder what his fifth wife of about 10 years thinks of this.  It seems to be a plea for relevance or something... oh, and perhaps some sunscreen.  It looks like he's dealing with a nasty sunburn right now.

Seriously... WTF?  A naked selfie by a 70 year old journalist just screams malignant narcissism.  But we didn't have to see this picture of Geraldo to know that he has no complexes about his self-image.

This makes me suffer from...

I bet certain people in the LDS church are crapping their pants...

This morning, a Facebook friend of mine who is a former Mormon posted this article from the New York Times.  The article is about a Swedish man named Hans Mattson who had served in a very high capacity in the LDS church in Europe, but then started having questions when members came to him with their concerns about the truthfulness about what they had been taught in church.  Members had heard all the usual church approved stuff.  Then they went on the Internet and found other information from some very credible sources which confused them and caused them to have doubts.

Mr. Mattson wanted to reassure the members who were coming to him with concerns.  So he approached the church's leadership.  A senior apostle came to Sweden at Mattson's request, saying that he had an unpublished manuscript that would answer everybody's questions.  But the manuscript never materialized and when Mattson asked the apostle about it, he was told he was out of line for asking.

This lengthy New York Times piece about Hans Mattson is well worth reading.  I was very surprised, however, to read that Mattson hasn't left the church.  Apparently, he and his Mormon convert wife, Birgitta, have tried other churches that haven't done anything for them.  So he stays LDS, despite having massive doubts about the church's truthfulness.  He's not alone, either.

Every single day, new people show up on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site looking for help in making sense of what they've been taught and what they've read about in other, non-church approved sources.  Some of these folks are positively shell-shocked and quite a few of them have to explore their doubts in secret because going public would mean being ostracized.  RfM is full of people who have left the church, but it's also frequented by closet doubters.  Many of these doubters lurk silently for a long time before they finally summon the courage to write their first post on RfM or do something else about their growing disbelief in Mormonism.

After reading the New York Times piece, I visited RfM and someone had posted about's new search engine that offers members a way to search the Internet without having to worry about any "shocking" results that might shake their faith in their church.  In other words, if you use the church's search engine, you won't have to worry about stumbling across any pesky "anti" sites or personal blogs written by people with "an ax to grind".  You'll just get nice, safe, "shock-free", church-approved stuff from official church Web sites or other similarly approved sources.  It will be the comforting stuff you've always heard, mixed in with new revelations from the LDS powers-that-be.

The problem with that is that those who have used Google or some other search engine to find information and learning some truths that have apparently been whitewashed or omitted from the church's official teachings can't "un-ring the bell".  They can't forget what they've learned.  And when they go to church officials for clarification, they are chastised for reading things they "shouldn't be reading" or "thinking too much".  They may be initially comforted with promises of a plausible explanation, only to be brushed aside or even threatened with discipline when they persist in trying to find answers.

Instead of being upfront about these issues, talking about them openly, and trying to resolve or take responsibility for them, it appears that the church tries to hide the more difficult stuff under warm fuzzy bullshit.  So when people "accidentally" stumble across information like Joseph Smith's penchant for polygamy and marriage to girls as young as 14, they are shocked and mortified.  And when they find out that information they've found is true, they feel blind-sinded and lied to.  That leads to anger, disillusionment, and crisis... which ultimately can lead people out of the church and, perhaps, even into atheism.

The church's solution to this problem is not to be more forthcoming with its members.  Instead, it invites members to use a special protective search engine that is "safe".  Safe from what?  The truth?  Incidentally, Scientology does the same thing.  They, too, have special church run search engines that "protect" their members from "shock"... and the truth.

Some people will stay in the church even after learning about some of the less savory aspects of how the religion developed and its policies.  Hans Mattson has stayed, even though learning about some of these very disturbing things shook his foundation to the core.  He decided he likes being Mormon anyway.  It sounds like it's just what he is and what makes him comfortable.  And that's fine, as long as his beliefs don't hurt anyone else.  It does seem odd to me that such a formerly high ranking official had to learn about Mormonism from outside of the church and was told he was being impertinent when he asked church officials for the truth.  Seems like someone like Hans Mattson would not be satisfied with Mormonism after hearing the bell ring.  But if he is, more power to him and anyone else who can live with the truth.

Anyway, that New York Times article is excellent and I highly recommend reading it.  I also highly recommend using search engines that aren't run by a church or political organization.  Remember, as Gloria Steinem famously said, "The truth will set you free.  But first it will piss you off."  Sometimes a little shock and anger is the only way to freedom.  

On liberal guilt...

It's been an interesting day today, reading the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard.  The board has been positively humming with posts about sexism, racism, and how some people are more privileged than others are.

Listen, I understand that our country has a long history of disenfranchising people because of any given thing...  their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their religious preference, and even their appearance.  Actually, if you think about it, this kind of thing goes on all around the world.  The United States is not the most progressive country in the world, but neither is it the only place where people are disadvantaged for whatever reason.

Some posters on RfM are heavily burdened with liberal guilt.  They seem to feel guilty for being born white.  Some of them think the men should feel guilty for being white males.  And if they don't feel guilty for how white men have oppressed everyone, they are ignorant and need to "educate themselves".  In other words, if you don't agree with their sense of guilt and don't feel like we all need to atone for every one of the sins of the past, you are a lesser person.

I seem to remember getting into an argument a couple of years ago with a woman I knew in high school.  She had posted on Facebook a letter written by a Canadian woman she had seen on CNN about how the US political system was ridiculous and she was glad she wasn't an American.  I commented that I was glad that woman wasn't American, either.

My former Facebook friend (she unfriended me at some point, but not when this happened) took me to task for that comment.  She asked me if I wasn't embarrassed about the way people from other countries see Americans.  I said no, I wasn't embarrassed, because I can't help the fact that I'm American.  I was born and mostly raised here and had no control over that.  So why would I be embarrassed to be what I was born to be?

By the same token, why should my husband be ashamed to be a white male?  He can't help being a white man.  It's who he is.  I'm a white woman.  I don't feel bad for being a white woman.  Am I sorry that some people have suffered discrimination?  Sure.  But other than trying to be a better person and not perpetrating the wrongs of my ancestors, there's not much I can do about the persecution others have faced.  Moreover, most people fit into at least one group where they could be victimized by discrimination.  Is being discriminated against for being hideously ugly the same as being discriminated against for being Jewish, black, gay, or female?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I can't say because I'm not Jewish, black, gay, or hideous.

I am a female, though.  I have never felt disenfranchised for being female.  In fact, I have noticed quite a lot of women abusing the special treatment that can come from being female.  Mainly, I've noticed it from women who are abusive to men and get away with it because they're women and people believe them over men.  And there are a lot of people who abuse other peoples' guilt for whatever reason, just to get over.

I think feeling guilty for being what I am and had no control over is completely pointless and potentially harmful.  That doesn't mean I don't think people should educate themselves and have empathy and compassion for other people.  What it means is that I think liberal guilt leads to nothing good.  There needs to be understanding, listening, and perspective on all sides of the issue, though.  Guilt is not the answer.    

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Woman falls to her death at Six Flags... Yahoo! readers prove they're brain dead...

This morning, I was horrified to read about a woman who was at Six Flags Over Texas and decided to ride the Texas Giant roller coaster.  Somehow, the lap bar that was supposed to restrain her disengaged and she fell off the coaster to her death.  Her son watched in horror as his mother was killed.

For four summers, I worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Before that, two of my three sisters worked at Busch Gardens.  I never go to amusement parks anymore, because I think my experiences working at Busch Gardens kind of soured me on them.  The last time I went to a park was in the summer of 2007, right before we went to Germany.

Bill and I were in San Antonio, Texas visiting his mother and we went to Sea World because they gave free tickets to servicemembers and their families.  Because Bill has a fear of heights and doesn't like roller coasters, I ended up riding most of the rides myself.  That wasn't much fun.  Also, I know that amusement parks are basically rip offs and you end up standing in line all day.  But, I will admit that I am intrigued by amusement parks and enjoy reading about them.  I was pretty shocked to read about this poor lady in Texas who died.

I made the mistake of reading the article on Yahoo! about this accident and then looking at the comments.  Man... there are some seriously fucked up people reading Yahoo! articles.  One person wrote, "She ruined their fun."  Another wrote, "One less Republican".  A third made comments about the inevitable lawsuits.  A fourth said that "thoughts and prayers to the family" is a disingenuous response.  I don't understand what would compel someone to write something like that in response to such a tragic accident.  I know there's such a thing as schadenfreude, but this takes it to ridiculous levels.

Fortunately, on this article, there seemed to be more sensible people than usual.  Many times I have read comments on Yahoo! articles and just had to sit and wonder about my fellow human beings.  I mean, it just makes you shake your head and wonder what made these people so insensitive.

I had a scary experience on a ride once.  Back in the 1980s, Busch Gardens introduced a ride called Da Vinci's Cradle.  It still operates today.  For some reason, back when the ride first opened, there was only a lap bar.   There weren't any seat belts.  I was about 12 or 13 when I first rode Da Vinci's Cradle and still fairly small.  Somehow, I slipped under the bar.  It didn't disengage; I just went under it.  When the ride ended, I was holding onto the bar and on my knees.

The next time I rode Da Vinci's Cradle, there were seat belts on the ride.  And now, I know I wouldn't slip under the bar.  Crazily enough, I have ridden that ride again a few times, despite the scary experience I had the first time.

I feel so sorry for that poor young man, watching his mother fall to her death.  What an awful thing to have to live with.  Many prayers to him and his family... even if that does sound disingenuous.

Friday, July 19, 2013

We're not homeless anymore... and family shit...

Looks like we are approved for the house in San Antonio/Converse.  We're not homeless anymore.

I just talked to my mom, who had some bad news for me.  One of my uncles was just diagnosed with leukemia.  His wife has Alzheimer's Disease and is no longer able to care for herself.  Apparently, my uncle's leukemia is "intermediate".  I don't know what that means in terms of his prognosis.  His daughter just had a baby a couple of weeks ago.  Lots of major life events going on there.

My mom told me that my eldest sister just visited and they discussed how they would be handling my parents' bodies after they die.  Both of my parents plan to be cremated.  Mom says she is leaving her body to the state of Virginia to be used in a medical school.  My dad's brain is slated to be studied at Harvard University because he has lewy body dementia and Parkinson's Disease.  And both are going to have cardiac checkups next week.  I listened to all of this stuff rather stoically.  I mean, it's inevitable that they will die... and it's good that plans are being made.  But talk of cremation led to talk of what she wants us to do with their ashes and apparently, my older sister made some comment about the four of us getting in a boat and scattering the ashes in some body of water.

Mom then said she doubted the four of us could stand to be together long enough. I kind of laughed wryly about that, because it's true.  But then she said she was upset that we aren't close or even really "friends".  And she seemed to blame me for that, because I generally decline family gatherings.  I don't mind seeing members of my family one or two at a time.  But when we all get together, it all turns to shit quickly.  I have witnessed and been a part of that for a long time.  I simply don't want to do that anymore.  So I avoid gatherings.  I think they're all kind of pissed at me, too, because I voiced how I feel about these issues rather than just sweeping them under the rug the way we always have.

Mom also kind of berated me for not visiting her during this last month in North Carolina.  She also berated me for not being closer to my sisters and... very surprisingly... not inviting my eldest sister over for dinner while we've been in North Carolina.  It seems that she blames me for the fact that we're not all close.  She reminds me that my sister, Sarah, keeps wanting to have a family reunion.  I am not interested in having a family reunion because they never go well and I always end up in tears afterwards.  Let me put it this way.  If they wanted to get together, that would be okay with me.  I just don't want to be part of it.  The reason I don't want to be part of it is because every single time we get together, there's some kind of fight.  I've tried to explain this to them, but I usually end up being ridiculed or told I'm being too sensitive.  My family thinks I purposely distance myself from them...

It's funny, though, because I can remember my sisters having lives when I was a teenager and a young woman.  They lived in far away places and didn't visit often.  One sister was in India for several years.  Another moved to Colorado and then Minnesota, where she's lived for over twenty years.  And yet I'm getting shit because I'm moving to Texas and won't be "close" anymore.  I was close for over thirty years and used to visit often.  When I was younger, I used to enjoy seeing my sisters.  They treated me like I was a brat.  There were many times when I was made to feel like I wasn't welcome.  There were many times when I called my family trying to bond or looking for support and was made to feel like I was imposing.

To my mother's credit, she did say that she doesn't judge me for not visiting family more.  She said my dad is my father... but she's afraid he will soon no longer recognize me anymore.  To be honest, when I saw him in 2010, I had doubts that he remembered me all that well.  I saw him on two occasions last year.  It wasn't like we had really deep conversations.

Maybe it seems selfish for me to feel the way I do.  I just know that I went through a lot of shit with my family... and I dealt with the brunt of my dad's shit for years.  I know that until I was in my late 20s, I felt like I was crazy.  I cried at the drop of a hat and would get embroiled in some of the most ridiculous arguments with my sisters and my parents and then it would spill all over my other relationships to the point that people literally thought I was crazy.  Now that I'm away from that, I feel better.  I feel sane.  But after talking to my mom just now, those old emotions are coming back and I'm feeling like shit.

This is not the way I want to be with my family.  But it's not only up to me.  I can't be the one who always swallows the shit for the sake of family solidarity.  I did it for years and ended up seriously crippled by depression.  I think if I said this to my family members, they would dump on me and tell me I'm wrong.  They would claim I'm being selfish.  Is it selfish to want to preserve your dignity, self-respect, and emotional stability?  I usually leave our family gatherings feeling just awful.  It hasn't just happened one time.  It's happened repeatedly.  The last time it happened was at my grandmother's funeral, when one of my sisters told me she always suspected my mom conceived me with someone else.  

Maybe that sounds like I'm being "prideful" as my husband's ex daughter would put it, but honestly, I went through some serious emotional havoc and it feels good not to be upset all the time anymore.  I feel upset right now.  I used to feel like this all the time and now it's generally only when I have these kinds of conversations with people who are supposed to be my loved ones.

I'm sorry I'm not close to my family, but I'm not sure exactly what it is that people expect from me.  Do they just want me to show up and be who I was when I was clinically depressed?  Or can they accept that I'm a grown woman now and don't necessarily enjoy being treated like a child?

*Sigh*  At least we have a home now.

James Taylor gets it.

Time is slipping away...

I can hardly believe how fast July is passing.  Yes, I know today is the 19th, but in a mere week's time, we will be cleaning up this house and then on the road to Texas.  It seems like the last six or seven months have just flown by.

In a way, this makes me a little scared because it probably means the next year will pass quickly and then we will be in transition mode yet again.  It's good to be flexible, but with all the moving we've been doing over the past six years, I feel like I've been in a perpetual whirlwind.  On the other hand, we have gotten to see and live in some nice places.  And at least we haven't spent the last six years living in the DC area.  I was honestly afraid we would have to do that a few years ago.  It seemed like that was the only place there were jobs for my husband.

I probably need to start making some decisions about my own life, too.  Now that retirement looms, it may be time for me to stop being an overeducated housewife.  I may decide it's time to get a real job.  Or circumstances may dictate it's time for me to find a job.

I'm a little worried about that.  Texas is supposedly booming and there are reportedly plenty of jobs there.  But I haven't had a daily job in over ten years.  While I know I could go back to work, I think it will be a tough adjustment for me.  Conversely, it may also be the source of new self-respect.  I'll be honest.  There have been many times when I've felt down on myself for not working outside of the home and using the education I worked so hard to get.  But then there are also many other times when I realize that I enjoy not having to sit in a cubicle all day.  

My husband is a wonderful guy.  He supports whatever I want to do.  He doesn't hate me for not working or resent the fact that his money supports me.  But then, I try hard to respect the fact that he works hard and just wants financial security.  I don't go out and spend money we don't have on things we don't need.  That was something his ex wife used to do a lot.  When he was looking for a job, she spent money on landscaping and furniture.  She claimed that God would work it out.  She used his pay stub from National Guard duty to provide proof on income when she decided she wanted to buy a house.  She bought things from Swiss Colony and Disney plates.  She spent $75 on a huge tray of baklava at Christmas time.  One time, she single-handedly made the decision to buy two cars.  She came to Bill's job to pick him up in a van she purchased.  Then she took him to the car dealership, where the Miata she bought with his money was waiting for him.

I don't do that kind of stuff.  I don't make major purchases without my husband's knowledge or consent.    We have debt, but we work hard to retire it as soon as possible.  Not doing so would mess with our peace.  Granted, my husband is partially responsible for the financial mess he was in with his ex wife.  He didn't stop her when she made these crazy purchases.  In those days, it wasn't like he could just change the password on his USAA account; a lot of stuff was done offline.  And if he did do that, she would have accused him of being abusive.  My husband, being a sensitive kind of guy, did everything he could to avoid being labeled as abusive.  Of course, she labeled him that way anyway.

It occurs to me that we might one day want to be homeowners, though.  And that might mean I'll need to go to work.  On the other hand, we'd also like to move back to Europe if we can.  And that will mean maybe we won't want to own a home.  I really have zero desire to be a landlord or to have to worry about buying and selling property.

Speaking of housing... it looks like we may be approved for the rental we applied for.  All they were waiting for was a reference from our current landlords.  I notice that the house is no longer advertised on the property manager's Web site, though it is still on AHRN.  I have a feeling it's going to be weird to be in such a crowded neighborhood.  I will probably miss being reclusive.  Hopefully, we'll get along with our neighbors.  At least our current hounds aren't as noisy as our last ones were.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Female rapists...

I just read an old article on about a man who claims he was raped by his girlfriend and forced to father a child.  The article is actually pretty even-handed, which is nice to see.  It's the comments that are interesting, though.

One guy says that he was raped by a woman back in 1983.  She was supposedly very fit because she was in military training.  He was an out-of-shape geek.  Apparently, the woman didn't get pregnant, which is a lucky thing for the guy.  He said no and she went ahead anyway.  The commenter said that it wasn't the same as being dragged into the bushes by a stranger and brutally attacked, but he was assaulted nonetheless.  And people back then laughed about it.

A few years ago, I read and reviewed a book about Joyce McKinney, who was also the subject of a documentary called Tabloid.  Joyce McKinney is notable because in 1977, she hired an accomplice to accompany her to England, where she stalked, kidnapped, and raped a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson.  She is also notable for having her pet pit bull, Booger, cloned.  I remember when I read Anthony Delano's book, feeling disgusted by the very cheeky, gossipy way the book was written.  It was as if the crimes committed against Kirk Anderson were nothing but a big joke.  Had the roles been reversed and Joyce McKinney was the one who was stalked, kidnapped, and raped, people would have been outraged.

Another commenter on the Salon article is sure that the guy who claims he was forced into fatherhood is only claiming rape because he doesn't want to pay child support.  And that could well be true.  He apparently didn't report the crime when it happened, after all.  Of course, if he had reported the rape, would people believe he was a victim?  Would he end up being laughed at or worse?

A lot of people seem to think that men have sex on the brain 24/7 and want it from anyone and at any time they can get it.  In my experience, that is not true.  Moreover, while many women are smaller and weaker than men are, that's not always the case.  Men and women come in all shapes and sizes and temperaments.  While a lot of men have a strong sex drive, not every man does.  Besides, rape is usually about humiliation and power, not necessarily sex.  But maybe when a woman perpetrates it, it is about sex... or more specifically, the creation of a baby.        

Can men be raped?  Of course they can.  They can be raped by other men and by women.  It's probably not nearly as common for men to experience sexual assault or rape as it is for women.  And I say "probably" because I don't think there's any way we could ever know what the true statistics are among men who have been raped.  I don't think most men who experience rape would ever report it and because of that, we can't know how common or uncommon it is.  I think men who experience rape should be entitled to the same empathy and sensitivity that women get.

I probably shouldn't read comments on stories like the one I linked to.  The sheer stupidity and insensitivity of some people usually ends up pissing me off.      

Time to get back to the process of moving.

Cory Monteith's dad not invited to his cremation...

So I just read that Cory Monteith's father, Joe, was not invited to his son's cremation.  He wasn't told until after the cremation was done.  The article was short, but boy did it bring out a lot of angry comments.  Lots of people likened Joe Monteith to a sperm donor and made claims about how involved or uninvolved he was in his son's life.  I have to wonder how these people know the actual nature of the relationship between father and son.  I also never knew that people routinely attend cremations.  That seems really creepy to me, but whatever.

Naturally, that article struck a nerve in me, since I figure if either of my husband's daughters die, my husband won't be told and wouldn't be invited to the funeral.  But in all fairness, if my husband died, I would not want his kids at his funeral.  I'm not sure how I'd react, though, if they wanted to show up.  I imagine if it happened now, I'd probably be too shocked to say much.  I know I won't be calling them, though.

There really are a lot of people out there who are hurting because of divorce.  A lot of people probably did have parents who just checked out... and a lot of people are in situations like my husband's, in which an ex spouse has told lies.  There's no way to tell what the situation is in Cory Monteith's case, though I have to wonder how and why he got into drugs.  From what I read, it was a problem before he was a star, but I could be mistaken about that.

There was one woman who commented on that held Cory's mom accountable for making a poor choice when she got with Cory's dad.  Personally, I'm kind of in that camp of people.  I think people should be a lot more careful about with whom they share their DNA.  I didn't have sex until two weeks after I got married.  In making that decision, I pretty much forfeited my chances at becoming a mother without medical assistance, since Bill got snipped while he was with his ex (because pregnancy was too "hard" for her-- but not hard enough for her to have two more kids with #3).  Looking back on it, I think I made a responsible decision.  I know it's not one most people make... and I didn't make that choice for moral reasons.  It's kind of just how it worked out.

Anyway, I don't have kids.  My husband has previously loving two daughters who now think he's a sperm donor because of what they've been told.  He also has an ex stepson who used to call him dad until the gravy train stopped.  I imagine they could be making comments about Bill, describing him as a sperm donor even though he did call, write, send birthday and Christmas presents, and try to visit.  He did pay plenty of child support.  He did want to see them and tried hard to make it happen.  They repaid him by refusing to answer his calls, sending back his letters, selling his gifts on eBay, and disowning him.  They did these things, I'm sure, because their mother encouraged them to.  I know his ex wife plays people against each other.  She gets them pissed toward one another without them even having spoken directly with each other.  But the end result is the same.  My husband's daughters are completely hateful and disrespectful toward their bio dad for no real reason.  Yes, he divorced their mother, but she initiated the divorce... and then later said she was "just kidding".

I have to say... I wouldn't want my husband's kids at his funeral.  I don't think I even want to hear from them.  I think I feel the same way a lot of those outraged women who hate their bio dads feel... only that's how I feel about my husband's grown daughters.  I'm furious with them.  When it comes down to it, I think I could deny them the right to pay their respects at their "sperm donor's" funeral.  If they couldn't respect him in life, why should they have the right to "pay their respects" when he dies?

But the truth is...  I don't know how I'd actually react in a situation like this.  I feel badly for Joe Monteith, though.  Even if he was an absentee father, he was still Cory's father.  And despite any bad blood between them, Joe gave Cory things that he can never deny just by sharing his sperm with Cory's mother.  Chances are good that if Cory's mother had gotten with another man, Cory wouldn't be who he was.  On the other hand, maybe he'd still be alive today.  Maybe he wouldn't have become a drug addict.  Who knows?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Looking for pussy...

No, not THAT kind of pussy.  I was just sitting at my desk and noticed a black cat cutting through the yard.  I decided to go outside to see where it was headed, but by the time I got out the front door, the kitty was gone.  It's just as well, I guess.  My hounds would love to go out there and chase that cat and Bill is allergic to them anyway.

I came back inside and Bill asked me if I went looking for the cat and I said I was looking for pussy.  That made him laugh.  The dogs were whining up a storm and Arran brought me a toy when I came back inside.  That's one of his more adorable doggy behaviors.  Whenever anyone comes home, even if it's just after a few minutes or so, he responds by giving them one of his chewed up toys.  In this case, he brought me a stuffed duck that makes a quacking sound when you squeeze it.  All of my dogs have loved the stuffed duck toys... probably even more than they love the toy squirrels I've brought them.

The packers are coming to pack up our house on July 23rd and will load the truck on the 25th.  I guess we'll leave on the 26th or 27th and start our long ass drive to San Antonio.

I bet this blog post will get a lot of hits because I used the word pussy...  People have such dirty minds.

In other news, this post is my 700th.  I've been a busy little beaver.  ;-)

Or, since we're moving to Texas, I should say I've been a busy armadillo.

Too much vino... and more butt hurt over moving...

Last night, I drank too much wine.  Consequently, when my husband got up at 4:30am to go to work, I woke up too... and was very dehydrated and a bit hungover.  I took an Advil PM and drank water, then went back to sleep until about 7:00am, when my dogs and my body woke me up.  I'm a little out of sorts this morning.  I think I might just skip the booze today.

Someone from the moving company is coming over today to pre-inspect the house and see how long it will take to pack everything for us.  It's really hot and humid outside and I'm dreading the process of the move, because we are going to be moving to an even hotter climate.  As I walked around our lovely tree filled yard today, I thought about how small and treeless the next house's yard is liable to be (if we get it, that is).  It kind of makes me sad.  I will miss living here, even though the house we live in is pretty strange and has some problems.

I wish San Antonio had more areas that aren't so population dense.  The only way we'd be able to find a more private home is to move a ways out.  That would mean a longer commute, more wear and tear on the car, and more fuel consumption.

One other thing I'm going to miss is the extra cash we've been getting living here.  This house we've been living in is very inexpensive.  Our utility bills aren't that much and our rent is low.  The house we applied for is significantly more expensive.  I don't think we could find anything suitable in San Antonio for what we've been paying here, though.  We are ready to live in a nicer property and are willing to pay more for it, but none of the ones that are just a little more expensive are big enough or allow pets.

On the other hand, our rent in Georgia was $150 more per month than what we are slated to pay in Texas.  We also had more debt back then.  So I'm sure we'll manage and still have a decent lifestyle, even if it means fewer trips abroad.  ;-)

I'm glad we took advantage of living in cheaper digs and went to Europe three times and the Caribbean once in the past two years.  We've had some really good times.

I guess now I'm going to focus on getting rid of our other car payment in case we have to live in it after Bill retires.  ;-)

Just kidding.  I don't think he's going to have a problem finding work in San Antonio.  I hope we like it there.  I hope I get used to the heat and the close quarters with neighbors... and I hope we have nice neighbors.

Although we have applied for another house, I'm still looking at listings just in case this one falls through, too.

I'm giving some serious thought to purchasing a ChiliPad.  It'll make Bill happy, because he gets hot easily.  The one thing stopping me is that we also need a new mattress.  I bought us one in 2009, but I don't like it and it's been on our guest bed since we moved to North Carolina.  I think we'll switch it back in Texas because the mattress we've been using is a bit saggy.  We bought it in 2004 and it's seen its share of abuse.  I also need to buy a new table because the one I have is "on its last legs".  I purchased it in 2005 after completing a rather lucrative writing job, but back then we were pretty poor so I bought a cheap set.  And now it's falling apart.  So it's time to find a new table and chairs set that is made of better stuff and will hold up to more abuse.

The joys of military life...  Glad to know it's going to end soon, even if retirement is scary.

Not that I expect anyone to buy a ChiliPad through this link; just wanted to put it there for those who want to know what it is.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Busy today so far...

It's been a busy morning here in knotty land.  First off, Robert Randolph & The Family Band released a brand new album called Lickety Split.  Since I write for Pop Rock Nation, I decided to buy the new album and review it as I listened to it for the very first time.  Call it a "first impressions" posting.  I gotta say, the new album is pretty awesome.  Follow the link to read my review.

Next, I finished reading Lindy Boone Michaelis's book, Heaven Hears, last night.  I reviewed it on Epinions, so you can check out the review if you're interested in a detailed discussion of how I liked the book.  I will say for now that I mostly liked the book.  In fact, I think I like Lindy.  She comes across as very down to earth and not a goody two shoes.  Yes, the book is religious and I'm not very religious, but I am obsessed with Pat Boone and his tribe.  I'm hoping Twixt Twelve and Twenty gets here soon so I can entertain myself as I prepare for the move.  

Next, my husband informed me that after almost two weeks, the owners of that house we applied for decided to go with the people who applied right after we did.  I'm a little annoyed that it took two weeks for that decision, but we did apply for another house yesterday and so far, we are the only applicants.  I also think we'll like the property managers better, since they've been very helpful since day one; whereas the property managers of the other house were not responsive at all (red flag).  Bill had to call them repeatedly for updates and every time he did, the person he would need to talk to was in a meeting.  That makes me think they might not be great about taking care of issues.

Apparently, the house we applied for is one of only two being managed by Housing 1 Source.  Maybe it's a little bit of a conflict of interest that Housing 1 Source helps servicemembers find housing and offers property management, but they seemed interested in making us happy from day one.  I have no reason to think their property management services won't be just as good.  What's more, the house we applied for yesterday has a pool, gas cooking, is very close to Randolph Air Force Base, and has slightly cheaper rent and lower pet fees.  The yard is a lot smaller, but that means I won't have to mow as much and it will force me to walk my dogs.  So hopefully, that one will work out.  If not, I'll continue pulling my hair out.  I can afford it, since I have a lot.

Tomorrow, someone from the moving company is coming over to inspect, which will give them an idea of how much time they'll need to pack us up.  I've started the beginning stages of taking things off the wall and washing things.  I painted our rocking chairs yesterday so they'll be ready for the move.  I ran out of stain at the very end of the job.  We're planning to gather up some stuff to donate to goodwill or take to the Army thrift shop... or to the dump.  I don't care.  We need to purge some stuff.

I caught Arran mid dump this morning as he was fouling the rug in the living room.  He knew he was doing wrong, too.  He stopped mid poop and ran to the door.  He was too distracted to finish during the first walk, but managed to complete the job during the second walk.

I think I'll spend the afternoon playing some more with Creative Cloud and see if I can make some more cool stuff... Maybe I'll record some songs with Audition and see if I like it better than Garage Band and Audacity.  Maybe I'll play with Photoshop, too...  or maybe I'll make myself useful and do some more cleaning and house hunting...  SIGH.


Monday, July 15, 2013

I really need to stop watching OWN...

I'd rather watch Dr. Phil than morning news shows, which are a little too perky for my tastes first thing in the morning.  Oprah Winfrey's OWN shows Dr. Phil reruns, so I often tune in, unless the show is on a topic I'm not interested in.  Unfortunately, OWN has some of the most irritating commercials ever and they show the same ones over and over again.  Also, I find Oprah a bit annoying.

Apparently, a bunch of viewers wrote to the OWN channel, asking Oprah to save their soaps.  So she's been crowing about them on her network, cheering all of the characters who will be on her channel.  I used to be a dedicated Guiding Light viewer, so I know the soaps can be addictive.  But does Oprah have to crow about them?  She sounds ridiculous.

I never watched Oprah's talk show because when it was airing, I was generally too busy.  I never understood why she was so popular.

Moving on...

Yesterday, Bill and I went to the store to pick up a few things.  We decided to get some Chinese food for lunch.  When we went into our favorite restaurant, there were a couple of young black guys in there.  I didn't pay much attention to them.  Bill went to order our usual and two guys sat on the other side of the dining room, waiting for their order.

After they left, Bill said to me that he felt like the two guys were giving us hostile glares.  I asked him to clarify and he said the two guys had looked angry at us.  I hadn't noticed.  I think Bill was feeling sensitive about the whole Trayvon Martin thing, which has so many people upset.  I reminded him that we weren't on the jury and this isn't Florida... and perhaps he's being a little more sensitive than necessary.

It always makes me sad when something like this happens and polarizes Americans.  A lot of people seem to think that Trayvon Martin died simply because he was a black kid wearing a hoodie who "looked suspicious".  Quite a few people have said that had Trayvon been white, he wouldn't have been shot.

I'm not sure I'm totally convinced this situation was racially motivated, though.  I once lived in an apartment community where there was a lot of crime.  I remember when someone broke into my car.  I felt very violated and unsafe.  It had nothing to do with the color of the people living in the community; a lot of the other folks in this community had the same color skin I do.  I had no idea who broke into my car.  I only knew that I was very creeped out about it and wanted to move out of that neighborhood immediately.  Luckily, we were able to do that.

I think if I lived in a neighborhood where there was a lot of criminal activity, I would be suspicious too.  I doubt I would carry a gun, but I would probably be nervous and perhaps even angry.  (In fact, writing this post actually reminded me to check the sex offender registry for the house we plan to apply for this week).

What's more, when I think about potentially violent young men, I don't necessarily fixate on the black ones.  What color was Adam Lanza, the young man who shot up Sandy Hook Elementary School?  What color is Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the young man, who with help from his now deceased older brother, bombed the Boston Marathon?  How about Seung-Hui Cho, the man who killed so many at Virginia Tech back in 2007?  None of these guys had dark skin.  I see no reason why we have to assume that it's just black men who are violent... or even that it's just men.  I think the truth is, anyone can be violent.  And if you live in a neighborhood that is scary because there's been a lot of crime, it's bound to make you nervous about anyone who might be dangerous.

The fact is, recently there have been a lot of violent crimes perpetrated by young men, which has led to a pervasive fear that one can become a victim at any time.  Some people feel the need to arm themselves so they won't be at the mercy of a criminal.  If you've been victimized, you probably want to see that it won't happen again.  That leads to "profiling", which I think almost everyone does to some extent.  We have been taught to look at people and size them up.  It's a survival technique, which can lead to unfair prejudice.  And yet we still do it, because we are interested in self-preservation.  

I'm not saying George Zimmerman was right to do what he did.  I'm saying that I don't believe what he did was entirely racially motivated.  What's really sad about this is that George Zimmerman's acquittal has led to so much anger.  I fear that there will be more violence in the wake of this case.  Zimmerman may find himself a victim of violent crime.  Perhaps he will be murdered.  That would be a shame.  Violence begets violence.

A friend of mine is from Germany, but lives near Fort Bragg because she's married to an American soldier.  The night of the verdict, she made a comment that unnerved me a bit.  She said she was "too white" to go outside in her neighborhood near Fayetteville, North Carolina.  She was afraid there would be violence because people were so pissed off about the acquittal, even though Fayetteville is nowhere near Sanford, Florida.  It never occurred to me to feel unsafe in my town because of this verdict.  If people feel compelled to be violent simply because of an unpopular verdict in another state, we have a serious problem... and it's not just among people who happen to be white and might be "racist".  But my friend and my husband both feel sensitive and even unsafe all the way up here in North Carolina, because a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman.  Go figure.

Anyway, even though George Zimmerman is not in prison right now, I think his life, at least for the immediate future, is probably ruined.  As I wrote before, if he felt endangered the day he killed Trayvon Martin, he is sure to feel much worse now.  People are very pissed off about this verdict and it wouldn't surprise me if there were plans in the making to do serious harm to Zimmerman.  I doubt he'll have an easy time finding employment.  Maybe this will blow over after time passes, but for the time being, life is sure to be very tough for Zimmerman.

One other thing I suspect is that a lot of people who don't actually care about this case are expressing outrage because they don't want to be thought of as racist.  A lot of white people are rightfully ashamed of the actions of our ancestors.  We'd like to convince everybody else that we've evolved.  But the truth of the matter is, a lot of us haven't evolved and are ashamed of that fact.  I would submit, however, that racism isn't just a problem among white people.  I think it affects everyone and we'd probably do well to just admit our biases and work on them.  As for the Zimmerman verdict, it's a done deal.  There is almost surely going to be more litigation lobbed Zimmerman's way in the form of a civil suit.  Stay tuned.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Updated the ExMo lit list...

Heads up.  I just updated the ExMo Lit List Part II again.  I added books that aren't necessarily about Mormonism, but are about similarly restrictive faiths like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Scientology.  Have a look if you're looking for stuff to read.  There is also a link on that page that will take you to the original list.

Cory Monteith, George Zimmerman, Paula Deen, Asiana Airlines, and the hole in the ceiling...

I was shocked and saddened to hear about the untimely drug related death of Glee star Cory Monteith.  Though I had quit watching Glee some time ago, I thought Monteith was very talented.  It's a pity that he died so young and with so much life ahead of him.  I'm sure he could have done a lot more had he not been involved with drugs.  May he rest in peace.

Last night, the Internet was abuzz with peoples' reactions to George Zimmerman's acquittal.  I'm not sure how I feel about it myself.  I haven't been following the trial.  Though I did hear about Zimmerman's poor decision to shoot and kill 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, I don't know all the details of the case.  There must be a reason the jury acquitted him.  Many people seem to think it was because Zimmerman isn't black and Martin was.  I'd hate to think that was the case; but again, I didn't follow the case very closely and don't know all the facts.  All I can do is speculate... and really, all anyone who wasn't in the courtroom and didn't hear the evidence can do is speculate.

I doubt Zimmerman is going to get much peace, at least not in the near future.  If he thought his life was in danger when he shot Martin, I think he's really going to feel endangered now.  Someone is likely to want to exact revenge.  Whatever his reasons for shooting and killing that young man, I think he will pay for it, even if it's not in a prison cell.

I like to think that our justice system works.  When someone like Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, or George Zimmerman gets acquitted of a serious crime like murder, a lot of people get very upset and start yelling about travesties of justice.  Some people even take to the streets and riot.  But if the tables were turned and one of these people were themselves being tried for a crime, they would want a fair trial.  They would want everything considered before they were sentenced to prison.  Few people would voluntarily sign up to go to prison just so the public would be more satisfied with unpopular verdicts and there wouldn't be riots.

Zimmerman presumably had a fair trial.  I know a lot of people don't think justice was served because he wasn't convicted.  But that is how our judicial system works.  He was acquitted by a jury of his peers who vowed to consider the evidence only, not what was reported in the media and the court of public opinion.  Anyone else being tried for a crime would hope for the very same thing.

The idea that innocent people can and do go to prison or even get executed for serious crimes makes me think that we should take great care in prosecuting people.  There should be justice for victims, but not at the expense of fairness toward the accused.

As for George Zimmerman, it's true that he did kill Trayvon Martin.  Based on what I've seen, he wrongly took the law into his own hands.  Zimmerman evidently believed Martin was a threat to him.   He misjudged the situation.  If I only listened to media reports and read my friends' opinions, I would probably convict Zimmerman.  But I wasn't privy to what the jury heard in the courtroom.  I didn't examine the evidence like they did and wasn't asked to determine whether or not what he did fell within the parameters of murder or manslaughter.

There must have been a reason they acquitted him when the court of public opinion tried him and found him guilty.  Maybe someday, more of the truth will come out.

Moving on...

I read that Paula Deen's cookware is now in the clearance bin.  It occurred to me that while many people think it's good and just that Paula Deen's empire is crumbling, a lot of other people, many of whom are perfectly innocent, are going to be negatively affected by all this backlash.  Paula Deen provided a lot of jobs for people.  From those who work in her restaurants, to the people who make her cookware, to the truck drivers who brought it to the stores... even the people who sold her stuff... these people are all going to pay for Paula Deen's poor judgment and the fact that she's fallen from public favor.

Reading the comments on that iReport article on CNN, I think there are still a lot of people who think this outcry is a bit of overkill.  I think Deen was wrong to be racist, but the fact is that there are very few people in the world who don't have a racist bone in their bodies.  Most of the people screaming about her use of the n-word are at least somewhat hypocritical.  Everybody judges.  It's a survival technique.

It would be great if we lived in a world where we could all be completely non-judgmental and could trust that we wouldn't later regret not being more discriminatory.  But the fact is, almost all of us pre-judge others based on our perceptions of them.  Most of us know that there are certain words that should never be used in polite company.  And the more money and fame you have, the more you're looked at as a role model and the more careful you have to be about what you say and do.  Paula Deen is no doubt finding that out now.

Continuing on the racism theme... Did you hear about the bogus names supplied to a news outlet about the Asiana Airlines pilots?

I first heard about this from a man I know who is himself a pilot.  He sent me the above YouTube link. I have to admit, my first reaction was laughter and then shock.  I didn't think about the people affected by the tragedies or the fact that the offensive names were racist.  I reacted to the sick humor and the fact that someone with a very dark sense of comedy managed to sneak these names past people who should have been more on the ball.  I mean, didn't anyone read these names aloud and realize that they had to be bogus?  I wonder if the prank was worth it to the perpetrator?  And again, I wonder how many people lost their jobs because someone decided to be funny?

It was a pretty good prank, I guess.  I probably wouldn't feel that way if I had been one of the victims or related to one.  This prank is tasteless, but sometimes black humor helps people make sense of the senseless.  I just hope pulling that prank was worth it, because I think there's going to be a lot of fallout.  

The hole in the ceiling...

The hole in the ceiling was checked out yesterday by a couple of handymen.  They think it was caused by a vent that was aimed in the wrong place.  They supposedly fixed the leak and will patch the hole after we leave.  Every time these guys come over to fix something, they remark that this house is weird.  I quite agree. 
Finally...  have a look at my travel blog if you have a moment.  Today's post might make you go "Hmm..."