Friday, February 28, 2014

A curious development in the wake of Epinions' demise...

Many of the folks who were regular contributors on Epinions.com have now gathered in a Facebook group.  Wow… what an amazing community.  There is so much talent there.  There are people there who were regular posters before I started in 2003 and have come back to mingle.

One guy was a popular poster early in the day.  Turns out he's a clinical professor of geriatrics… or at least he was… at a university on the west coast.  He ended up moving to Alabama with his partner, who ended up getting sick and dying.  This professor and physician would write on Epinions to process things, but he had an alter ego and was very creative.  His next (and current) partner turned out to be a musician who got the doctor involved in music and it looks like a new career was born.

One guy, who used to work at Epinions, is starting a new review site.  It's a blog so far, but who knows?  It could turn into something else.  I'm not sure if I will participate or not, since I've been putting my stuff here, where there aren't any "community standards".  But really, it's incredible how many awesome folks have come together thanks to Epinions and Facebook.  Some people I haven't talked to online or off or seen in years are showing up.  It's pretty cool, even if it is very sad.

Things are looking up.  An old friend from my hometown noticed my plaintive posts this week and sent me a nice message of support.  I look forward to new sheets arriving today… and wine.  I realize I am lucky, even though it seems like a bunch of stuff is not the way I want it to be.  Of course, that realization kind of makes me feel worse about the way I've been feeling lately.  I know things could be much worse and I need to get over myself.  

Anyway, at least it's Friday.  Maybe I'll find something quirky to write about.  I already have an idea for DungeonOfThePast that involves crappy Mormon PSAs.

     

2003


A long lost friend posted this on Facebook today… It was taken in August 2003 when I was 31 and Bill and I had only been married for about 9 months.  Damn, he's a cutie.  Hubba hubba!

I can't believe over ten years have passed since then…  We were so young.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Academic integrity...

A curious thing happened yesterday.  A friend of my husband's sent me a private message wanting to know more about our experiences with Roma in Greece and Spain.  He explained that he was writing a paper for his wife, who is apparently in school and has trouble with writing.  This man's wife is not American.  I mean, she's now an American citizen, but she was born and raised in Europe, so English is not her first language, though she speaks English very well.

The guy went on to tell me that he'd written two papers for his wife and gotten A's for her on both of them.  I asked him why he was doing his wife's work for her.  He said it was because he loves her.  Then he said she was doing fine in her other classes, but just has problems with writing.

Why this guy told me about this stuff is beyond me.  I think he realized I didn't condone what he was doing, though I wasn't going to reprimand him for being dishonest.  Seems to me that if you really love your wife, you'll help her do her own work and learn how to write better rather than doing the writing for her.  Sooner or later, that lack of writing competency will catch up with her and she'll end up looking like a fool.  That's not a very loving future to sentence your wife to.

I know writing is hard, even when you're writing in your own language; but doesn't he think she's smart enough to do her own work?  And what about the school?  Doesn't cheating ultimately make the school's degrees worth less? What about when she's tested and he can't be there to do her work for her?   Won't there be a big discrepancy between her papers and her essays on tests?

I guess I wasn't surprised that he was "helping" his wife in this way.  He's always been one to take shortcuts if he can get away with it.  But I have to admit, it kind of made me respect him less.  He's not a bad guy, but I think he's misguided sometimes.  And really, though this is a short-term solution, in the long run, it's not going to serve either of them well.

I'm really having a bad week.

ETA:…  This video sums up my mood.

Quiz Kids...


Somebody posted this on a Facebook friend's wall this morning. 

Yes, I am in the photo posted above.  For some reason, when I was in the fourth grade, I was considered "smart".  Actually, I wasn't as smart as the other quiz kids.  In third grade, I was in the same class as everybody else in the above photo-- the "gifted" class.  In fourth grade, I was in the next lower class.  I think it was because I used to daydream a lot and my third grade teacher thought I needed a slower class.  My grades were fine, but I wasn't considered as "smart" as everyone else in that class.  So I was put in Mr. Almasian's class, where I was sort of the "star" compared to the other students.  I got good grades and high test scores.  

Incidentally, after that year, my "smartness" became perfectly mediocre and my grades were pretty average.  That was probably the last year I was considered smart.  My parents didn't push me and I was pretty lazy, so I stayed on the college preparatory track instead of the honors track.

So anyway, because people still thought I was "smart" in fourth grade, I got put on this Quiz Kid team.  Most of those kids in the photo with me were in the gifted class and I was the only one who wasn't anymore.  I see one kid who wasn't in that class, but he had just moved to the county in fourth grade.  

And yet, though I wasn't in the smart kids' class anymore, I was given special extracurricular activities like the spelling bee, Junior Great Books, and this Quiz Kid thing.  I turned out to be totally useless on my team.  I didn't answer a single question.  I think I tried to, but other kids were quicker on the draw than I was.  And it turned out it was a good thing they were, because I probably would have answered the questions wrong.  I remember I got a lot of shit for not answering any questions. While maybe I should have been flattered to be considered "smart", the Quiz Kid experience isn't exactly a happy memory for me.  

I didn't have a lot of confidence back then.  A lot of those kids used to bully me, so it was probably just as well that I wasn't in their class anymore.  Being in a different group put an end to most of the bullying, except for that which happened on the school bus.  Of course, thanks to Facebook, I'm still in contact with many of these folks.  In fact, my ex best friend is also in the photo.  Not surprisingly, she is on the other team.

I guess I can look at this clipping and laugh, though.  I did grow up to become The Overeducated Housewife, after all.

I had a good cry this morning in front of Bill, who, as usual, was very kind.  I felt a bit pathetic sitting there in tears, but a good cry is good for the soul and helps release stress.  I think I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything, which seems even more ridiculous.  I'm not exactly a busy mom juggling a job and a bunch of kids.  It just feels like everything is transitioning at once.  I'm sure it'll be fine, but in the meantime, it's just difficult to deal with.  The last few years have been a blur of moves and changes and I'm not getting any younger.  But now that I'm reminded of the March day in 1982 when I was a "Quiz Kid", it seems like time has really flown by.
        





Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An old book review...

This is another Epinions review I wrote in 2003.  I'm reposting it here because I can't believe I actually read this shit…

How to catch a single, professional male...

 Aug 21, 2003 (Updated Nov 25, 2004)
Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Books
Rated a Very Helpful Review

    Pros:If you have half a brain, this book will make you laugh.

    Cons:This book was apparently written by three shallow jerks.

    The Bottom Line:Read it only if you want to be outraged.

    I was scouting my bookshelves today in search of a book to review and I found one that I'm almost embarrassed to own, What Men Want. Written in 1998 by Bradley Gerstman, Esq., Christopher Pizzo, CPA, and Rich Seldes, M.D., (got to be sure to get those PROFESSIONAL credentials in there and you'll soon see why this is important), this book promises to show women what it takes to make a man theirs. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I picked up this book. I think I was curious about what these guys had to say. Those professional credentials sure are impressive, to say the least, but really, what is it that men want women to know? I was itching to find out. So I bought the book and read it and here's what I learned.

    On the second page of the book, the guys write that they had helped their women friends figure out why their boyfriends had been blowing them off. They had "discussed everything from giving out their phone numbers to casual dating, from sex to commitment" (2). The guys said that their women friends were appreciative because their talks had given them a clearer view on why men act the way they do. Now the women could go out and improve their relationships with their guys... yippee skippy! These guys could start their own talk show now! The guys said that they were surprised that the women were so in the dark about what makes men tick when it seems like common sense to them. So they decided to do the women of the world a favor by writing this book on how to catch a "professional" league male... that is, a man who is a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant. Tell me, ladies, how patronizing is that? Anyway, enough of my indignant ranting and raving. Let me give you a little more to think about.

    On page eight, the guys describe themselves and their areas of expertise on women and relationships. Welcome to the Dating Game

    Brad, the lawyer They call him the "player" of the trio. He's a sharp dresser. He's headstrong. He debates. He plays the field, but he's also had a few serious relationships. This is a guy who was an athlete and a scholar, and now he has his own law firm. Despite being tough on the outside, on the inside he's soft and cuddly.

    Chris, the accountant Mr. Romantic of the group. He's achieved great things against great odds. Raised by a single mother on a limited budget, Chris was destined to do well. After college, he passed the CPA exam, finished an MBA, and went to work at a big six accounting firm. Now he's a vice president of finance. He played football in college and when a long term relationship that started in college ended, he sucked it up and drove on and has been actively dating ever since. He's affectionate and open-hearted, and that leaves him vulnerable.

    Rich, the doctor Here's the intellectual among the guys. He's cultured, well-traveled, and likes the finer things in life. He was president of his college fraternity, a member of the football team, and a summa cum laude graduate. He's had trouble finding a woman who will give him the space and time to pursue his career, but for three years he's been dating Marla.

    Hmmm... these men don't exactly sound like the average guy. How many men do you know played football on their college team and accomplished all of those other things? How old are these guys? Are they for real? Anyway, they don't strike me as everyday guys, so why should I take their opinion as that of every guy's opinion? But enough about that... let's get to their advice to women.

    Here are ten facts about men (according to these three PROFESSIONAL guys)

    1. Women have more power over men than they know.
    2. Men appreciate women who take the initiative.
    3. Men are turned off by women who play hard to get.
    4. Men will take advantage of women who let them.
    5. When it comes to sex, men still believe in the double standard.
     (Men can have sex whenever they want, but women should be a lot more careful about what point in a relationship they let a man go to bed with them)
    6. Men are extremely jealous, so trying to inflame his jealousy will always backfire.
    7. Men's natural inclination is to have sex with many women.
    8. Men have a hard time interpreting women's talk.
    9. Men would rather be intimate than talk about it.
    10.The way to a man's heart is through his ego.


    Of course, these guys are right. This stuff is common sense. And after the guys printed each of these facts, they provided explanations of what they meant. I showed the ten facts to my husband and he agreed that they were mostly correct. But really, ladies, are any of these things a big surprise to you?

    In the next chapter, the guys provide advice about how to be approached by a man. Here are some of the things that guys don't like.

    Girls' Nights Out- the guys claim it's too hard to approach women when they're out with the girls. They say that if a woman sees a man she likes and she's out with the girls, she should always make the first move because a gaggle of women will be too intimidating for a guy to penetrate. What follows is some advice on how to meet a guy when you're out with the girls. Well, I'd like to tell these guys that when ladies are "out with the girls", they typically aren't looking to hook up. If they happen to see a guy they like, maybe this advice might come in handy, but I don't think most women tend to be as aggressive as men are. Of course, that's a generalization. There are exceptions. But when we're "out with the girls", chances are we're not looking for a man on that particular night.

    The Protective Friend: (aka: Policewoman Who Keeps Men at Bay)- Okay, I think I get this one. You have a well meaning friend who thwarts a would be suitor's attempts to get to know you. The guys advise that women should step away from the group and give him the chance to approach. Make it clear to your friend that you want to talk to the guy. Well... this is also obvious to anyone with half a noggin.

    The Live Wire:- (aka: being a drunk) Here, the guys advise us gals not to get sloppy drunk, lest we end up promiscuous and ruin our reputations. Their general advice is, "If you want a nice guy, you have to act like a nice girl..." duh! They write:

    A man wants a respectable partner, not an embarrassment. If you act like a live wire, sure you may have men all around you paying you a lot of attention, but believe us, this is not the kind of attention you want.

    This is sound, big brotherly advice to be sure... it's just a might bit patronizing though. And they make it worse by ending this section with this statement:

    Professional men do want girlfriends who know how to have fun, but we like women who know and understand where to draw the line. There is nothing more embarrassing for a professional man than to have a wild and crazy girlfriend on his arm, and to never know what stunt she is going to pull next. If you want to meet the professional man of your dreams-- and keep him-- it's not a good idea to play it like a live wire.

    Hmmm... pretty hard to swallow. They proceed to give advice on how not to get drunk and how not to appear like a slut. Again, anyone with half a brain should know this already. Anyone who doesn't have half a brain would not bother to read a book about how to act in public. In any case, I don't know what I was doing reading this ridiculous, insulting tripe. It did give me a good laugh, though.

    The rest of the book includes details about dating etiquette (including who should pay the check on dates), vacationing together, and sex. They even have a section that helps women determine if they're a "good for now girl" or if they're "wife material". Oh puh-leeze... By the way, the guys believe that a "professional man knows that chivalry is not dead." I think it's really cute the way these three guys who are pals that represent three professions presume to speak for ALL of the professional men in the world. They really are full of themselves, aren't they? And worst of all, they probably made some money off of this book and I helped them do it!

    There is one positive. If you don't know how to perform oral sex, these guys will teach you how to do it. There are actual directions on how to perform the act on your man. Seriously, this is a plus for the uninitiated. They even tell you what to do if you get tired. Sigh... and they reiterate again and again how important oral sex is to men and warn that if you don't do it well enough, often enough, or at all, your man might lose interest in you sexually. That may be true, but there's something about being told that in a book written by three smarmy yuppies with fancy degrees that just frosts my buns. Oh, and they also write that men like to give women oral sex too, but only if the women smell nice and are well groomed. Sheesh.

    I want to list the Ugly Truths the guys have included in Chapter 11. See if you agree with them and feel free to comment. Of course they've included explanations, which I won't include unless you ask.

    Ugly Truth Number 1: Men Use Women for Sex
    Ugly Truth Number 2: Men Cheat on Women They Love
    Ugly Truth Number 3: When a Man Says "I'm Not Ready for a Commitment" He Means "I'm Not Ready for a Commitment... With You"
    Ugly Truth Number 4: A Woman's Looks Are Almost Everything
    Ugly Truth Number 5: If Men Didn't Have to Marry, We Wouldn't


    I think this book really sucks. It's good for a laugh, but as far as offering any new insights into a man's psyche, I think it misses the boat. I mean, who needs to read this book? People who are somewhat intelligent know most of this stuff already. People who are not smart enough to get this stuff on their own probably can't be helped by a book. And for the record, I don't agree with the ugly truths. If they were true, I wouldn't be married (to a professional man, no less) and my husband's ex wife certainly would not have been able to marry three times. Moreover, if those guys actually believe the ugly truths, I don't have any faith that they're really nice guys. And if the ugly truths were really true, who would want to bother with men in the first place? 

    My laundry list of complaints...


    Sorry about this.  I'm in a mood today and feel like complaining.  I know I complain all the time anyway, though, so if you're a regular reader of this blog, this won't be anything out of the ordinary.

    1.  The weather sucks today.  It's cold, windy, and rainy.

    2.  I hate this house.

    3.  I'm freezing.  Last night, it was warmer and I was sweating.

    4.  My teeth seem to have chosen this year to fall apart on me.

    5.  I'm sad that Epinions shut down.

    6.  I'm worried about the future.

    7.  I don't want to be homeless.

    8.  I'm pissed that the dentist didn't send me a bill and I've owed them money.  I hope they didn't fuck up my credit rating.  I would have paid them their $85 if I had known I owed it.  I can't check my reports for free because I already did so in November.  And I notice a lot of the credit sites where I could pay for a report sign you up for their stupid monitoring service scam.  

    9.  I'm hungover.  I drank way too much last night.  I started drinking wine because it made my tooth feel better, then got the news about Epinions and drank some more.  I'm tired of drinking.  I probably ought to stop because I'm likely an alcoholic.

    10.  I found out this week that a good friend of mine has a chronic illness.

    11.  I feel worthless.

    12.  I don't think people like me.

    13.  I need a good cry.

    14.  I have no motivation to do anything.

    15.  I have no real reason to complain, because I realize I'm luckier than a lot of people.

    16.  I'm lonely.

    17.  I'm tired of my boobs.

    18.  I don't think I like Texas.

    19.  I'm hungry, but don't feel like cooking.

    20.  I'm a miserable bitch.

    Like I said, sorry.  I know this is self-pitying drivel.  I'll snap out of it eventually.  I'm just in a crappy mood today.





    10 years at Epinions...

    I posted the following Writer's Corner piece last year when I was celebrating my 10th anniversary on Epinions.com.  I figured since I have no way of knowing what's going to happen to my content once the site goes down for good, I'd repost this here.  A lot has changed since 2003.  It was fun to write this, though.

    10 Years! My how time flies!

    Mar 20, 2013

    The Bottom Line Ten years. That could be a prison sentence!

    I'm feeling a little sheepish this morning because I just realized that yesterday was my 10th anniversary on Epinions.com. Here's a quick look at where I've come from in ten years.

    On March 19, 2003, I had been married about four months. I lived in a dumpy apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was ten months out of graduate school and on a fruitless job search.

    On March 19, 2013, I've been married ten years and four months. I live in a nice rental house in Sanford, North Carolina. I've long since given in to my lifestyle as an Army wife, freelance writer, doggie mommy, and Facebooker extraordinaire.

    On March 19, 2003, I found Epinions because I wanted to vent about some outrageously poor customer service I got from my cell phone service provider.

    On March 19, 2013, I have an iPhone and don't deal with customer service because my husband handles the cell phone bill. The provider that sent me to Epinions to vent is now defunct.

    On March 19, 2003, my husband had many years of child support and military service looming in the future. He had bad credit as a result of a disastrous first marriage. His ex-wife was taking about half his salary and doing her best to alienate his kids. At that point, I hadn't yet met them. I would meet them for the first and only time in June 2003. Their mother concluded that I was a "bad influence".

    On March 19, 2013, my husband no longer pays child support. He also has no contact with his two daughters or former stepson, all of whom are now young adults and under the hugely mistaken impression that he wasn't "there" for them. Miraculously, the ex is still married to her third husband and now has two more kids, bringing her grand total to five from her three husbands. She may have also gotten my husband's kids adopted by her third victim. We don't know, because they don't speak to us. We do know that my husband's daughters now use their stepfather's last name.

    On March 19, 2003 I hoped someday I would be a mother, but knew my husband would have to get "unsnipped" in order for that to happen. He did get unsnipped, but I never conceived.

    On March 19, 2013 I am now at peace with being a mom to dogs, since watching what happened with my husband's kids pretty much turned me off of motherhood. (I know this sounds really bitter, but I'm actually a lot less bitter now than I was... Life is pretty good.)

    On March 19, 2003, I was driving a 1997 Toyota Corolla that I figured I'd have forever because I figured we'd never recover from my husband's financial hell.

    On March 19, 2013, I'm driving a 2009 Mini Cooper S Convertible that I've had for four years and bought brand new. It will be paid for in less than a year. Last month, we paid off my husband's car, a 2006 Toyota RAV, two months early.

    On March 19, 2003, my husband was hoping he'd make the Lieutenant Colonel's list.

    On March 19, 2013, my husband is approved to be promoted to Colonel, but will have to retire before he can be one.

    On March 19, 2003, I wondered if we'd ever leave the DC area.

    On March 19, 2013, I've lived in northern Virginia, Germany, the Atlanta area, and central North Carolina... and plan to move to San Antonio in the next few months where my husband will retire next year.

    On March 19, 2003, I wondered if I'd ever get to travel again.

    On March 19, 2013, I'm looking forward to a trip to Italy and Greece in May and looking back on a great trip to Scotland in November of 2012. Over the past five years or so, we've traveled to more countries than I can quickly count and we've done so in style. Writing about those experiences on Epinions has been a great source of pleasure for me.

    On March 19, 2003, I had a zero total balance on Epinions.

    On March 19, 2013, I've earned a grand total of $10,497.13 on Epinions.com. It seems completely mind boggling that I've been able to do that. I certainly never expected to. I now wish I had invested that money somewhere.

    On March 19, 2003, I was on antidepressants. I was heavier than I wanted to be.

    On March 19, 2013, I'm not on antidepressants anymore and I'm even heavier than I'd like to be.

    On March 19, 2003, I had a blue-eyed beagle husky mix named CuCullain.

    On March 19, 2013, I have a beagle named Zane and a beagle-hound mix named Arran. My husband and I have rescued a total of five beagles... so far all of them have been males.

    On March 19, 2003, I loved my husband very much.

    On March 19, 2013, I love my husband ten times more than I loved him in March 2003. He's definitely a keeper.

    I've come a long way in ten years. If I'm honest, I never expected to be where I am today, especially not ten years ago, when I was sure I would have launched a fancy career somewhere, firmly entrenched in the rat race. Ten years hence, I'm so glad I'm not in the rat race.

    Writing is what I wanted to do from the very beginning of life. It's the reason I was an English major in college. I don't make a lot of money doing what I do, but I can't deny I've seen some success and enjoyed a lot of satisfaction. I've written in a number of places over the years, but Epinions is definitely my favorite place to share my thoughts.

    I have met some amazing people on this site, online and offline. I have collected my share of Epinions ego boo and schwag. I've worn three hats and dipped my fingers in a broad gamut of categories on Epinions' dysfunctional site. I've seen people come and go and come back again. I've seen some wonderful people whose writings I admired pass away... and I've marveled at the resilience of some other wonderful people, who still keep plugging away at life and sharing their wisdom with others.

    Epinions has been good to me. I will keep writing here as long as Epinions will have me. Will I still be here in ten years? Who knows? The future is a bit scary, especially since I know that our lives will change in 2014. But something tells me we'll survive.

    Thanks to everyone who has helped me pass ten great years! Epinions has been a big part of that... and I'm suddenly so glad my cell phone provider gave me such crappy service!

    Very sad news...

    I know I bitch a lot about Epinions but tonight, we all got word that in the next month, Epinions will be no more.  As of today, there's no more rating or writing reviews.  After a month, there is no more message board.  It's not entirely a bad thing for me personally, but for others, it really does suck.

    Fortunately for me, my blogs have been taking up more of my attention and this news just gives me more reason to write for myself.  But for those who depended on Epinions, it really is terrible news.  I made some great friends on Epinions and some of them, fortunately, are on Facebook so we can keep in touch.  I will never forget the fun Epinions parties I attended and the great fun I had at informal meet and greets.  This doesn't have to be the end of my writing online, of course, but I do think it's the end of an era…

    Shit… next month, it would have been 11 years.  That's the longest I've ever "worked" anywhere.  I still have Epinions schwag, for God's sake.

    Well… I do plan to keep reviewing stuff here.  But I will miss the Epinions community.  It's sad that it had to come to this over 15 years.  I'm just glad I was there for most of it.

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    My motivation is in the crapper this morning...


    There's a lot I could be doing today.  I'm not feeling it, though.  It took me awhile to wake up this morning because I was having a dream that I was on a SeaDream cruise with practically no ports.  It was so real that I remember dreaming I'd need to write about it on Cruise Critic.  In fact, it took me a few minutes this morning to determine if I was dreaming or it was real.  Once I was totally awake, I knew I had been dreaming.  Too bad.

    My molar is not annoying me this morning, so at least that's better.

    Here's another random thought I had this morning.  Back in the early 80s, when I was about nine years old, I went with a friend to Annapolis, Maryland.  I stayed with her and her grandparents for about a week.  Then my parents picked me up and we drove back to Virginia by way of the Eastern Shore.  I seem to remember stopping in Chincoteague and Assateague, where there are wild ponies.

    Being a horse crazy kid, I was pretty excited about visiting there.  My dad was driving an ugly, bright orange, VW van with a popup top.  I remember spending the night in it at a campground in Maryland.  The next morning, my dad decided he wanted to go swimming in the pool.  I went with him.  Unbeknownst to us, the pool was closed, but for some reason, we were able to access it.

    After a few minutes, my dad got out of the pool, but left me in the water.  Next thing I know, I hear this old man yell "Hey!  What's that kid doing in the pool?!"

    I quickly got out.  He confronted me, asking what I was doing swimming.  I told him my dad had gone swimming and I was with him.  The guy said, "Oh, so your father can't read either?  There's no swimming when no one's around!"  In retrospect, I realize that guy was unnecessarily mean to me, but at the time, I was really humiliated and upset.  I'm sure he yelled at me because he was worried about liability, but as a young girl, I didn't know about such things.  He made me cry.

    Mortified by the man's sharp words, I ran back to the camper, where I refused to sit on a seat, lest someone see me.  My parents took me to breakfast at a Hardee's.  Because it was late morning, I wanted a cheeseburger, but they weren't serving them and my dad said, "This is one of those places where you have to order what they want to serve you."  My parents hadn't seen the guy yell at me and when I told my dad about it, he kind of blew it off.  I stayed upset, though, because it was his fault I was in the water in the first place.  And hell, he hadn't even gotten me out of the water when he decided to get out himself.  As an adult, I realize how stupid that was.  Nowadays, someone might have called CPS.  Fortunately, the only harm was my extreme embarrassment and shame.

    Later that day, we went to a water slide in Chincoteague.  It was a pretty cool slide and I couldn't wait to get on it.  As I was about to sit down, I slipped and went down backwards.  I was terrified, but apparently going down backwards impressed a bunch of people, including a cute teenaged boy who congratulated me for my "bravery", even though I had only gone down backwards because I'd totally slipped and fallen.  The water slide made up for the scary encounter with the campground guy.

    Don't read any further if you're squeamish...

    Years later, I wondered about that water slide.  Out of a sense of nostalgia, I went looking for evidence that it still existed.  I finally found it when I read a story about the man who had owned the slide.  Turns out he was a sex offender named James Jenkins.  That, in and of itself might be shocking, except for the fact that Jenkins was so upset about his urges to molest little girls that he decided to castrate himself with a razor while taking a shower in jail.  He asked a guard for a razor so he could be clean shaven for court the next day.  The guard hesitated, but gave him the razor.  Then Jenkins put an apple in his mouth to muffle his screams as he removed his testicles.  Having cut them off, he then flushed them down a toilet in the jail.

    Needless to say, I was shocked to read about that.  At the time that I found the news story, it was the only thing I could find that mentioned the water slide in Chincoteague that I remember so well.  I don't think the slide is still in existence.  I've looked for pictures or mentions of it.  I'm pretty positive that Jenkins' slide was the one we visited because, at the time, it was the only slide in the area.  So, on that trip to Chincoteague on the way home, not only did I get yelled at by a scary, mean old man at a campground, but I also visited a water slide owned by a pervert.  And not only was the guy a pervert, but he later actually took it upon himself to cut his own balls off with a razor and flush them down the toilet.  

    And all those years, I thought it was the mean guy at the campground who was offensive.

    I'm glad childhood is over.

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Dental drama begins anew...

    So my molar was bugging me so much this morning that I called the dentist to schedule a crown preparation.  I got an appointment for 10:30am next Thursday.  While I was on the phone, the office manager asked me if I'd gotten a bill from them.  I hadn't.  It seems that my insurance didn't pay everything, so I still owe $85.  The $85 is not a big deal, but I sure wish they'd let me know sooner.  I never got a statement in the mail, so I had no idea.

    But the office manager didn't seem too perturbed about it.  She said I could take care of it when I go in next week.  Glad the car is paid off.  I can probably pay for my part of this procedure with my debit card instead of putting it on my credit card.  Hopefully, TRICARE won't give me shit about paying the bill, but at least this time, I have a photo of the very cracked tooth.  It doesn't hurt to bite on it, but it's achy and annoying.  I just want to get it fixed and move on with my life.

    Grateful...

    I'm grateful to Bill's ex-wife, not just because she divorced Bill.  I'm also grateful to her because had she not converted to Mormonism, I probably never would have found the Recovery from Mormonism Web site.  That community is fascinating and I have run into some really excellent people who have left the church.  Their stories are sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and always very human.

    Yesterday, I was talking to Bill about some of the great writing and music I've found, courtesy of the exMormon community.  I especially enjoy the books written by former missionaries, whose insights are usually fascinating.  As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I can relate in a different way to a lot of the books written by people who have lived in developing countries, even if missionaries and Peace Corps Volunteers ultimately have different agendas.

    Last night, I got a comment from a Mormon on an old post I wrote about a video I found on YouTube called On The Way Home.  This person, like some of the other LDS folks who have stumbled across my blog, apparently felt attacked by that post and some of the comments that were left there.  She sort of bore her testimony.  Folks, let me just say this.  I really don't care what other peoples' religious beliefs are, as long as they don't try to turn their beliefs into public policies that affect everyone.  Religion is personal.  This blog is also personal.

    I relate very well to many exMormons, even though I am not one.  I have found the exMormon community to be very cool in many ways.  So yes, I am grateful to Bill's ex-wife, not just for divorcing Bill in her attempt to force him to rock bottom, but also because her decision to convert led me to meet some great people.  I found RfM when I needed help understanding the LDS church.  And while not everyone who posts there is "nice" or pleasant, enough are.

    In other news, I think I'm about ready to bite the bullet and call the dentist about fixing my tooth.  I was going to try to wait until April, when I have a cleaning scheduled and my insurance benefits renew.  But this tooth is really annoying me and I'm afraid it's getting worse.  

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Mother-in-law got a job...

    A week ago, my mother-in-law was very worried and upset because she was having trouble finding a job.  Then the other day, she found an ad on Craig's List and attended an interview at a senior assisted living center.  They hired her, so now she has a part-time job to supplement Social Security.  She came over last night after she went to training and spent the night.  I'm really happy for her.  I know she was very concerned about how she was going to get by.  I only hope Bill has similar luck in the coming months.

    In the meantime, we 're trying to decide what we're going to do next.  It's kind of stressful.  Bill has applied for jobs in Europe.  We want to move back there, but it also looks like the type of jobs that best suit him are abroad.  But if that doesn't work out, I really would like to move into a home of my own.  So that means we need to plan for that possibility, too.

    Meanwhile, his retirement starts in July and even if he got a job in Germany for then, we probably wouldn't be able to ship the dogs until September.  Airlines are pretty strict about when you can fly with animals.  Texas is pretty hot anyway, even in September, and if it's too hot then, we wouldn't be able to fly with them from here.  We may have to drive to another city.  We would also have to ship our cars.

    So I'm not sure what's going to happen in the coming months.  To add to all of this, I really need to get my tooth fixed and my eyes checked.

    Maybe later, I'll think of something of substance to write about today.


    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Dr. Debora Green… the face of evil

    Maybe fourteen years ago or so, I read a book by Ann Rule called Bitter Harvest.  The book was about Dr. Debora Green, a woman who, as a young woman, seemed to have everything going for her.  She was extremely intelligent and had sailed through high school, college, and medical school.  She was pretty and talented and had a thriving career.  She had started out as an emergency room doctor, but then decided she'd rather be an oncologist.  She married her second husband, Dr. Michael Farrar, a cardiologist in the Kansas City area, and bore him three healthy children, a boy and two girls.

    As the years passed, Debora Green's career hit the skids.  She drank too much, was subject to rages, and gained a lot of weight.  She failed her medical boards and eventually lost her license to practice medicine.  And finally, she determined she wanted her husband dead.  As she poisoned the children against their father by filling their heads with lies, she served him food that she had prepared.  The food contained castor beans, which is where ricin comes from.  Ricin is a deadly poison and the contaminated food made Dr. Farrar very sick.

    But Dr. Farrar didn't die.  He just went through hell.  Finally, Debora Green decided to off him and her children, once and for all.  In October 1995, she set fire to the $400,000 home they had recently purchased, despite the fact Farrar and Green were separated.  She told her thirteen year old son, Tim, not to try to escape the blaze because the fire department was on the way.  Her six year old daughter, Kelly, asphyxiated, along with their dog, Boomer.  And ten year old Kate jumped off the roof to save herself, with no help from her mother.

    Dr. Debora Green was eventually tried and convicted for murder and attempted murder.  She sits in prison in Kansas and will soon be celebrating her 63rd birthday.  I thought about this case recently and looked up Debora Green to see if anything new had happened.  I came across this photo.


    This woman's eyes look like pure evil to me.

    I'm sure prison life is hard and that has something to do with the way this woman looks.  But to me, she looks like a brute.  It's hard to believe she was once considered beautiful and brilliant.  I would not want to meet her in a dark alley, let alone go to her for treatment of cancer.

    The first time I read that book, I had never run into someone like Debora Green.  Now that I've learned about narcissists and sociopaths, this story is easier to believe.

    I liked Ann Rule's book on this subject.


    • Is the mother of the year award in the cards for Dr. Debora Green?

      Review by knotheadusc
       in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
        September, 29 2003
    • Pros: Fascinating tale about a woman whose brain should be pickled in a jar after death.
      Cons: I found the book a little hard to get into at first.
      Not likely. As a matter of fact, she's rotting in prison as I write this. Why? Because she murdered two of her three children by burning down her house and tried to poison her husband by spiking his food with ricin. How did all of this come about? The whole sordid tale is spun for us in Rule's 1997 true crime book, Bitter Harvest, a truly amazing story of a brilliant woman whose personality seemed to change dangerously by the minute.

      Debora Jones (aka Deb) started life simply enough. Born to Bob and Joan (pronounced Joanne) Jones, she and sister Pam grew up in rural western Illinois. Both girls were exceptionally bright. Deb never earned less than an "A" in school-- her IQ was tested at 165. She was athletic, witty, musically talented, pretty, and popular, and she had a special gift for chemistry. After high school, Deb went to the University of Illinois to study chemical engineering; however, she was told that there was a glut of engineers. She ended up majoring in chemistry: pre med by default. It was in college that she earned her first "B", a devastating blow to her ego. Nevertheless, she was able to graduate in three years and go on to medical school at the University of Kansas. During that time, she was married to Duane J. Green, an engineering PhD student at the University of Illinois.

      After medical school, Deb became an emergency room physician. She divorced Green and met Michael Farrar, a medical student four years her junior. Farrar fell in love with the attractive, vivacious senior resident who drove a sportscar. They married in May 1979, but Deb kept Green's name for "professional reasons". In the early years of her marriage to Farrar, Deb supported Mike with her ER physician's income as he completed his training as a cardiologist. However, she soon grew tired of the mundane cases she saw in the emergency room and decided to change her specialty to oncology (cancer).

      Mike recalled that he knew he was making a mistake as he walked down the aisle on his wedding day. His parents didn't like Deb and her parents didn't like him. Nevertheless, he went through with the wedding. On the first night of their honeymoon, he had a hard time getting Deb to consummate their marriage; she preferred to read a novel instead. When they did have sex, it was uninspired. The couple managed to have three children anyway, a boy, Tim in January 1982, a girl, Kate (called Lissa in this book) in December 1984, and another girl, Kelly in December 1988.

      Mike enjoyed great success in his career as a cardiologist and was regarded as a rising star in the medical community of the Kansas City area. Deb, however, experienced problems. While she was technically quite proficient, her patients found her cold and uncaring. Her colleagues found her hard to work with, especially when they disagreed with her. Deb rarely kept up with new advances in her field and was unable to pass her boards, while Mike managed to pass with flying colors. While their marriage had never been good, it soon became worse. At one point, Mike caught her stealing painkillers from her patients. Deb eventually ended up leaving medicine altogether.

      More disturbing were Deb's temper tantrums, which she would sometimes indulge in public. Mike would usually see her go off in airports when flights were delayed. She'd cuss out ticket agents, using the "F" word and various other epithets liberally in front of her children and throwing her professional title and Mike's around in order to get her way.

      Despite the horror of their marriage, Deb would not grant Mike a divorce, so Mike moved out of their upscale Kansas City, Missouri house and into an apartment. Four months after his move, Deb implored him to move back home, promising him that things would be better. Mike decided that if he complied, they would need a larger house. They found one in Prarie Village, Kansas, and at a bargain. But at the last minute, Mike changed his mind. Not long afterward, the Kansas City house caught on fire, forcing Deb and the kids to move into Mike's apartment for awhile. The reconciliation was enough to convince Mike to cave in and buy the house in Kansas, for considerably more than he had originally agreed to pay for it. The fire in Kansas City was ruled an accident, so insurance paid for the damage. Mike and Deb ended up making $20,000 on its sale.

      From there, things really started to go south, until the night of October 24th, 1995, when Tim and Kelly Farrar were killed by fire in their parents' beautiful home. On several occasions during August and September 1995, Mike was in the hospital, suffering from a mysterious illness that brought him to the brink of death over and over again. His symptoms baffled doctors, until Mike found castor beans in Deb's purse. Castor beans are very poisonous. They contain ricin, which is the third deadliest toxin on earth, next to botulism and plutonium.

      I realize that I've given quite a bit of information here, but really I've only scratched the surface of this very convoluted story. Ann Rule has done a great job of presenting a horrifying case in great detail. There's a lot of information to digest, but it's interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading, even though the book is 482 pages long. Rule includes pictures which I found astounding-- they show how Deb Jones changed from her high school picture to her middle aged adult picture. As a teen and young adult, Deb had been quite attractive. By the time she was in her forties, she no longer resembled the same person. She had gained a lot of weight, cut off all of her hair, and even her face looked different. In short, the woman was unrecognizable.

      If you've ever read one of Ann Rule's books before, you know that she provides several components to her books-- the background story, the legal story, and the police story are a few that spring to mind right now. Readers get to examine Deb's cold detachment as police interviewed her after the fire. Readers also get to read the accounts of other family members and witnesses who noted Deb's strange reaction to the loss of two of her children.

      I'll admit that it took me awhile to get into this book the first time I read it, but once I started to really read it, I got hooked. This is definitely a fascinating read, and I for one am very glad that this is one mother who won't be celebrating Mother's Day in the comfort of her own home. 


       

    Not quite ready to write yet...

    But someone did share this hilarious video of Bill Maher talking about BYU-I's anti-porn video and the Mormons' hatred of jerking off…



    They are really getting their share of lumps over their anti-masturbation bullshit.  While I'm sure this is a subject that is of ultimate importance to Mormons, to those of us who aren't LDS, it really comes off as ridiculous.  Of all the things they could be worried about, a person's masturbation habits seem like comparatively small potatoes.

    I know the original BYU-I video was really directed at pornography and I understand why so many people, LDS or not, dislike porn.  But again, I think they have much bigger fish to fry.  Most people view porn so they can jerk off.  Masturbation is healthy and relaxing.  Basketball is a poor substitute.

    Anyway… Bill Maher is funny as always.  

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    My new red dress...

    I just wrote a piece on PopRockNation about my new red dress.  I'm not going to rehash what I wrote for PopRockNation, which is a music blog I contribute to.  Instead, I'm going to write about how I felt when I first tried on the dress and shoes.

    I have a pretty crappy body image.  I don't like the way my body looks, yet I no longer really have the drive to change my eating habits or exercise.  So here I sit, feeling a little awkward about my new little red dress.  I tried the dress on last night, sans makeup and fixed hair.  I didn't like it that much…

    This morning, after I put on makeup and fixed my hair and found some jewelry, I liked it a lot more.  But I still think I might be self conscious wearing this in public…


    Red is such a power color.  It turns heads.  I might have liked this more if it were a little darker.


    Red shoes to match…


    Not high heels!



    The shoes remind me a little of Candies, which were popular in the 80s.

    I actually would have preferred shoes with more straps.  These are kind of like flip flops.  But they didn't have really high heels and were kind of cute.  They were also made by Nine West, a company I know makes decent shoes.

    We are our own worst critics, of course, and I'm sure the dress is fine on me in other peoples' eyes.  I have the same dress in navy blue, though, and it doesn't make me feel nearly as uncomfortable about my body image.  Navy blue dresses are not as noticeable.  I kind of want to find another piano shawl or something to cover up with!

    At least I don't look like Sophia Petrillo yet…


    One night, Bill will dare me to wear my red dress… and it'll probably be much ado about nothing.



    Of course, this guy would probably not approve of my new dress or heels…  Good thing I went shopping for husbands on a porn site.

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    Iyanla VanZant says "All women marry their fathers…"

    Gee, I sure hope not.

    My dad is not a horrible person, but I sure wouldn't want to be married to him.  For one thing, he's a terrible control freak who gets frustrated, loses his temper, and lashes out.  For another, he's a raging alcoholic who, at least when he was in his right mind, would turn into an unpredictable asshole when he drank.

    Bill does have a lot in common with my dad.  They do share the same name, although technically they don't.  You see, my dad's name is Charles.  My husband's name is William.  Dad has always gone by the name "Bill" because my Aunt Jeanne liked it better than Charles and decided she wanted to call him Billy.  The name stuck.

    Bill is a LTC in the Army.  My dad was a Lt. Col. in the Air Force.  Both of them are very military.  But my dad is very old school and conservative, while my husband is a lot more open-minded and even tempered.  My dad is very much a Protestant.  My husband is not into organized religion anymore, though he does very much believe in God.  In fact, I think my husband is more spiritual than my dad is, though my dad has always been a churchgoer.

    Both my dad and my husband are basically nice people with a strong sense of wrong and right.  My husband has issues standing up for himself sometimes, though he's gotten better since we've known each other.  My dad has never had a problem standing up for himself.

    My dad has never been one to swear much, although I have heard him use bad words on occasion.  He's more likely to be violent than use the f-word.  My husband cusses almost as much as I do, but is not at all violent.  He doesn't raise his voice much and would never hit me.

    Both my husband and my dad have strong work ethics.  Both are good looking men.  Both adore their mothers.  My husband loves his dad, but isn't as close to him.  I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty certain my dad hates his father.  I never heard him say many good things about him.  My aunts and uncles seem to have a more even keeled opinion of "Pappy".  I never knew him, since he died when I was two, but he was also a raging, violent alcoholic who apparently abused my dad because he was the oldest son.  Bill was not abused by his parents, but I think he missed out on having a father figure.  His mother married twice after she divorced Bill's dad and neither husband really stepped into being a stepdad.  In fact, my husband's first stepfather turned out to be transgendered and hoped my mother-in-law would teach him how to be a woman.  Thankfully, that union didn't last long, because the man was not kind to Bill.

    My husband treats me like royalty.  He is always concerned about how I feel.  He's kind, considerate, and loving.  He looks after me.  My dad tried to look after me, but his good intentions would often go by the wayside in favor of other interests.  By the time I was in high school, my dad didn't really seem to give a shit about me.  He was more concerned about how I appeared to other people.

    My dad was big on shaming and belittling.  My husband props me up, probably to a fault.  He's always encouraging my interests, no matter how much of a waste of time they may be.  He believes in me, whereas my dad often discouraged me.  The one exception in my dad's case was music.  When he found out I could sing, he tried to co-opt me into his singing groups… and then he would compete with me.

    Both my husband and my dad are well-educated and well-traveled.  I would say that Bill is probably better educated than my dad is.  But my dad probably had a more distinguished military career than my husband has.  Bill has done great work as a staff officer and as a "diplomat", but he is not as good at war.  My father was pretty decorated after several visits to Vietnam.

    On the surface, it does look like I married my father… but looking deeper, I don't think I did.  My husband is a lot nicer to me than my father is.  
     

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    Boundaries and control freaks, part II

    I posted on Facebook about the woman from Utah who was so upset about the t-shirts being sold at PacSun.  We were having a rather raucous discussion about it and admittedly, comments were made that were rather disrespectful.  And I will also admit that I, personally, made some rude comments about the scowling Mormon mama.  I couldn't help it.  That photo that ran in the Tribune-- and I'm guessing she is the one who called them-- looked seriously like she needed to get laid.  And that was my first "rude" comment.  Another friend made a comment suggesting that the lady had a stick up her ass.

    Other rude comments followed by other people… and then there was a comment from a guy who, just a couple of weeks ago, took issue with my thoughts on Bristol Palin's blog post about Wendy Davis.  This guy is very conservative, very Catholic, and very opinionated.  Indeed, I met him on Epinions.com and have even met him in person.  I've noticed over the years that he rides quite the moral high horse.  Indeed, he rode one right into my thread on Judy Cox, Mormon avenger mom trying to save the people of Orem from indecent t-shirts.  Granted, I have not seen the shirts in question and if I did, I probably would think they were in poor taste.  But it's not up to me to decide for my community what is or isn't decent.  There were more appropriate ways for this mom to take action rather becoming a public figure, subject to public opinion and ridicule… not just by me and my friends, but by the world at large.

    Anyway, after a few shaming comments leveled at me and a few of my friends who were being rude, Mr. Morals declared he was leaving the conversation.  And one of my good friends, said "No, please 'stick' around…" which I thought was hilarious.  He fired one more parting shot and I said "Have fun riding your moral high horse off into the sunset." as he left the thread in obvious disgust.

    So I'm not the most polite person in the world.  Who is?  I told Mr. Morals that I don't take too kindly to people dictating to other adults what is and what is not appropriate.  His response?  "Please. Spare me."

    No, spare me…  I don't see why, if you find something distasteful going on on someone else's Facebook page, you feel the need to step in and call everyone to repentance, and then, when no one is appropriately ashamed, you bow out in disgust.  That's not respectable behavior either.  

    Like I said, it must be very exhausting to feel the need to constantly monitor other peoples' behavior.  Jeez!

    Boundaries and control freaks...

    Yesterday, I read an interesting post on RfM written by a 19 year old guy who had just purchased a new computer with his own money.  He spent $1300 on a high end machine, which arrived at his home while he was out.  When he got home, he discovered that his father had already opened the package, which annoyed him.  As he used the computer, he realized it was running slow and overheated a lot.  Then he discovered that his father had, unbeknownst to him, installed WebWatcher on his brand new machine.

    Most of the people on RfM, myself included, were horrified at the invasion of privacy and lack of boundaries this father had for his son's property.  There was one poster, however, who saw it a different way.  This man said that in his own house, he would make his stepson install and pay for the software himself or move out.  He repeated that age old mantra, "My house, my rules".  He also wrote that if his stepson locks his door, he will remove the door from its hinges.  He explained that his own kids had to abide by the same rules.

    I get that.  I understand that if you're paying the bills in your home, you have the right to set the rules.  On the other hand, taking your adult child's property and altering it without their knowledge and consent is a serious breach of boundaries.  Not surprisingly, a lot of people were advising the guy to move out as soon as possible.  It could be that is what the parent's ultimate goal was.  Maybe he does just want the kid to leave.  I think if it were me and I was worried about my adult kid accessing certain Web sites, I'd do something at the hub level, not break into the kid's computer and install software without permission.

    The poster who was on the parents' side apparently thinks that young adult kids who live at their parents' home have no rights, especially to privacy.  And maybe, if you're paying the bills and you're a bully, you see it that way.  But I don't think it makes for a very promising or positive future relationship.  Perhaps the parents involved in this situation don't care about that, though.  Some parents don't.  If I were the guy in the original post or the stepson of the bully RfM poster, I'd be saving my money to get out as soon as humanly possible.  I've been where they are and it's not fun.

    A serious lack of boundaries seems to abound in a lot of communities, particularly those that are very conservative.  In the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday was an article about an Orem, Utah mom who was shopping with her 18 year old son at a mall and happened to pass a display at a PacSun store.  The mother noticed the t-shirts on display and determined that they were "indecent".  She asked a store manager about taking down the display.  The manager refused.  So the mom bought all the t-shirts, spending $567.  She says she plans to return the shirts near the end of the store's 60 day return period.

    First off, this is just plain dumb and I hope PacSun refuses to take the shirts back.  Secondly, I feel sorry for that woman's son, who was probably really embarrassed by this scene his mother made.  And thirdly, what the hell right does she have to determine what is and what isn't indecent for the rest of the people shopping at the mall?  We are in a free society, aren't we?  So why does this mom feel that she needs to police what PacSun sells in its stores?  Seems to me it's very simple… you don't like a product, don't buy it.  You don't get to force everyone else to live by your moral code.  On the other hand, based on her picture in the Tribune, mom looks a little frustrated.

    It must be so exhausting to feel like you have to control what other adults do.  I'm glad I don't have that urge.  

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    What a fulfilling lifestyle...


    This ad says so much about so little...

    I couldn't find a link to the ad from HauteLook, which prompted me to write this post.  The one I have above is pretty close, though.  Basically, the lady in this ad can't start her day without shopping on HauteLook, a Web site that offers high end fashions for low prices.  Being a bit on the zaftig side, I don't shop on HauteLook for clothes.  Hell, though I am a member of the site, I almost never shop there.  What kills me about this ad is that it's so shallow.  Here's this pretty blonde woman who, in this version of the ad, must shop on HauteLook before she does anything else with her day.

    In the version of the ad that prompted me to write today's post, the same blonde woman has a "routine".  Gym, coffee, and HauteLook.  The ad shows her getting new "stuff" every day… a new skirt, new shoes, new jewelry.  Hey, it's great that you're stylin', but is that really the focus of every day?  No wonder Americans don't have any money.

    Granted, I can't really talk too much about this.  I love to shop online, especially on Amazon and Novica.  Last night, I ordered a bottle of Armenian brandy from PotomacWines.com.  I can't find this particular brandy where we live, because most Americans have no idea how good it is.  Given Bill's looming retirement, it may be the last bottle I'll be buying for awhile.  Shipping is a killer!

    I also bought a new dress from Amazon… actually, I bought two.  And this is even though I almost never go anywhere that requires wearing a dress.  However, I do have a few dresses that I wear all the time when the occasion calls for it.  When I see something I like, I jump on it.  The other dress should get here today, so if I like it and try it on, I'll have to take a photo.

    Anyway, I don't shop everyday.  I can't afford to and I don't have the kind of body that lends itself to being a clothes horse.  I do like to buy jewelry though.

    In other news, Bill was looking for jobs last night and it seems there may be some opportunities coming up in Germany that have his name written all over them.  In fact, it looks like Germany might have more opportunities for what he's best suited to do than Texas does.  Here in San Antonio, most jobs with the Army are related to medicine.  He could probably get a job working with the Air Force, but I think he'd prefer to work with Army training in an international arena.

    I'm not going to get my hopes up, but it does look like exciting opportunities to move back to Europe could be on the horizon.  Stay tuned!   

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Bill's mom visited...

    She called me yesterday asking if we could give her some help with her resume, since she was rather unceremoniously forced to retire from her job of almost 15 years.  The people she was working for were not the most ethical folks in the world, so it's not a bad thing that she doesn't work there anymore. But in the meantime, she needs to find another job.

    While she was visiting, I asked her if she'd thought about maybe opening an Etsy store.  MIL likes to sew and makes things like tea cozies and bags.  I told her selling her stuff online might give her an income stream and something to do while she looks for new work.  Unfortunately, she thinks she's running into some age discrimination.

    We had dinner, lots of beer, and some great conversation.  I truly love my mother-in-law.  She is a lovely person.  She spent the night, much to the dogs' delight.  Zane especially adores Bill's mom and even slept with her last night.  Arran slept with us, but went into say goodnight to Bill's mom.  I had to film them saying goodbye to her, because it was very emotional.



    While Bill's mom was visiting, I got a call from my mom, who mistakenly thought I had called her last night.  It turned out it was her neighbor who called, who has a name that sounds like mine.  I ended up talking to my parents and my sister, who happened to be visiting.

    Everybody seems to be doing okay.  I got a new table from Novica.com, which is my favorite place to drop cash.


    I decided to put it in my office, next to the chair where Bill usually sits… maybe it'll help prevent him from spilling wine on the crappy carpets.

    Yesterday was a nice, drama free day.  Nobody sent me pissy emails and no one told me I need to grow a thicker skin.  It was the kind of day I'd like to have more often.


    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    For sale at the commissary today...


    This is pepperoni.  Yes, it's green…

    I happened to be walking down the bread aisle when I stopped for a second near the pepperoni.  I don't know why pepperoni is in the bread aisle, but it is.  I happened to notice green in food products that should have been red or orange.  I took note… and a photo.

    I then gave Bill the pepperoni and told him to find someone working at the commissary.  That pepperoni obviously needed to be disposed of…  He took it to the meat counter and two ladies responded when he hit the buzzer.  One was so grossed out she was speechless.  The other said, "Wow!"

    Nasty...

    I don't like Daddy/Daughter dates...

    Before you gear up to tell me how wrong I am about this, let me go ahead and say right off the bat that I am all for fathers spending time with their kid(s).  I think it's great when either parent is able to give individual attention to their kid(s).  I just don't like these outings referred to as "dates".  The word "date" often has a romantic overtone that I find distasteful in a parent/child relationship.  Yes, I know people make "play dates" for their kids, but hell, your child's playmates may one day grow up and date your kid.  Your child's father, I hope, won't.

    This post was brought about by photos a relative posted of the "daddy/daughter" date he had with his older daughter yesterday.  My cousin is a good guy.  He's also very religious and conservative.  He posted photos of his date with his six year old daughter asking, "Isn't she stunning?"  He showed up at the door and presumably rang the bell for her, as a date would.  They had a fun outing, and I'm all for that.  But why call that a "date"?

    I get that some dads are trying to teach their kids about what makes a good mate.  But honestly, while I know that a lot of people look for people like their parents to marry, sometimes that's not a good idea.  My husband is something like my dad in that they are/were both military officers named Bill.  They both love beer and have a sense of adventure.  They are both "nice"…  But my husband is not an abusive alcoholic while my father is/was.  My husband believes in God, but isn't a conservative Christian like my dad is/was.  In my case, it was good that I chose a man who wasn't patterned like my dad.  I didn't need my dad to take me on a "date" to teach me what kind of man to look for.  In fact, I think it was the pragmatism I inherited from my mother that drew me to Bill… although in all fairness, her pragmatism also led her to her Bill.  

    Another trend I don't like is the whole Purity Ball thing being done by dads and daughters.  In fact, I like the Purity Ball idea much less than I do daddy/daughter dates.  These events are basically like proms.  Dads and daughters attend, exchange rings, and sign a pledge.  Dad promises to protect his daughter from randy males intent on defiling her.  Daughter pledges her virginity to her father, which basically means she will stay a virgin until she gets married.  From the Web site linked above…

    A Purity Ball, now in 49 states and funded by your tax dollars, is an evangelical prom/wedding hybrid attended by young girls (starting at 4 years old) and their dates: their Dads. The girls exchange rings, take vows, and pledge their most precious gift, their virginity, to their fathers. In turn, the fathers pledge to guard this most precious gift until their daughter marries and her sexuality transfers to her husband.

    Uh…  "until their daughter marries and her sexuality transfers to her husband…"?  Maybe it's just me but, eeew…  Listen, I am all for virginity.  I was a virgin until two weeks after my wedding day.  I didn't stay a virgin because my dad was in charge of my sexuality, though.  I did it because I didn't find anyone I wanted to have sex with who also wanted to have sex with me before I got married.  Bill happens to be fairly conservative about sex and didn't want to have intercourse before we married.  I was 29 when we got engaged and had already waited that long.  What was another few months?

    I'm glad I waited, too.  It's not because I'm worried about morality, though.  It's because being a virgin was very practical and made my life simpler.  I'm also glad that Bill is the only man in my history.  I can't compare him to anyone else, which means that he is honestly the best lover I've ever had.  That's a good thing.

    But I notice these Purity Ball thingies are for girls as young as four.  I can't imagine asking a four year old girl to pledge her virginity to her father.  How would you explain that?  And why would you want to?  Four year old children don't need to be thought of as sexual beings, even in the name of guarding her virginity.  Given how upset so many conservative folks get when anyone tries to tell them their kids should learn about sex in school, it puzzles me that they'd want to involve four year olds in a Purity Ball.  A four year old isn't likely to know what the Purity Ball is for and it really is yucky for a dad to be thinking about his little girl's sexuality when she's that young anyway.

    I know a lot of people think these balls are a wholesome, positive way to keep young girls from getting pregnant out of wedlock.  But really, how wholesome is it to be discussing this sort of thing with a little girl who doesn't even know what sex is?  As she grows older, I think it makes sense to talk to her about sex and the risks that can come from it.  But I also think that boys should be taught about the risks and responsibilities that come from sex.  It doesn't take a Purity Ball to achieve that end.  You can have that discussion at your kitchen table with no pomp or circumstance.  Sex is a part of life.  Preserving one's virginity doesn't need to be turned into an "event".  The decision to have sex or not is a personal one.  I think children should be armed with facts and protection and, personally, I think they should be discouraged from having sex.  But their self-worth should not be tied to the concept of purity.  Having sex before marriage does not make someone "impure" or soiled.  And, in my opinion, it's just gross for fathers to think of their daughters in that way.  

    Here's another thought.  What happens if you take your daughter to one of these Purity Balls and she ends up being sexually abused by someone?  Elizabeth Smart, to my knowledge, never attended a Purity Ball, but she was told that she needed to protect her virtue.  She was taught that if she let someone touch her before she married, she was akin to a piece of chewed up gum.  She had no control over what happened to her after she was kidnapped.  And yet, she has publicly stated that after she was raped by Brian David Mitchell, she felt worthless, like a shattered vase.  How do you reconcile with your daughter that she's still "pure" after an experience like that, when she's been asked to pledge her virginity to her dad?  

    Anyway, while I think it's admirable that dads and daughters are enjoying special time together, especially given the suspicion that so many men have to endure when it comes to being with their kids, I do think it's icky to refer to dates with your daughter.  But that's just my opinion, of course.  I'm sure my cousin and his daughter had a lovely time and they will treasure the memories.  I just wish he'd refrain from "dating" her.  That's for her future boyfriends…  or girlfriends, as the case might be.



    Interesting video about Purity Balls...