Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year's Eve!

This is the last post I will write in 2014.  As I type this, it's 6:18pm in central Europe.  In a couple of hours, I expect nutty, drunk Germans will be in the street setting off fireworks.  Last time we lived in Germany, it was a lot like armageddon.  People were setting off so many fireworks that it felt a bit like a war zone.  Our dearly departed MacGregor was totally traumatized and spent most of the night huddled under my desk.  I don't think Zane or Arran will be quite as freaked out.

Today, I've spent a good portion of the day arguing with an Italian friend about a news article I found yesterday concerning a kindhearted South Carolina sheriff who took a 9 year old boy from Pennsylvania hunting.  My Italian friend thought it was crazy that the cop would take a young boy hunting.  I grew up in a rural community where this was very normal stuff.  So did Bill.  My Italian friend was making the point that youngsters in America are indoctrinated to using guns and handling money at a very young age, while European kids learn about wine and sex.  Sadly, I think my Italian friend is misinformed.  Seems to me, a lot of American kids are being helicopter parented these days.

Later, I stumbled across the following photo...

Yes, this is an actual Play-Doh toy...

Evidently, no one at Play-Doh noticed that this toy resembles a dick.  I had to share it with my fellow Americans here in Germany, many of whom thought this was pretty hilarious.  I must admit, I do too.  I also wonder, how many little kids see a dick when they play with this?  It's the parents who think it's dirty, not the kids.

2014 turned out to be quite an interesting year.  We started it in Texas and are ending it in Germany.  If you had asked me last January if I thought we'd be in Germany on New Year's Eve, I probably would have laughed at you.  I kind of hoped it would happen, but never thought it actually would.  I seriously thought we'd be staying in Texas.  I guess life is what happens when you make plans.

2014 is the year I lost my dad.  If I'm honest, I am not sorry he died.  I don't believe he was happy in the state he was in.  I don't think he'd been happy in years.  My mom worked hard to take care of him.  I think she misses him, but I also think that taking care of his needs was very hard for her.  For all he went through in this lifetime, he lived a very long and fulfilling life... a respectable 81 years with one wife and four daughters who were his and never disowned him.  He had a successful Air Force career, ran a successful business, and had a lot of friends and loved ones.  I think he led a life well lived.

2014 is the year I discovered the awesomeness that is Paul Thorn...

My life needs more Paul Thorn in it...

This was the year I got to do two space A trips and see my long lost friend, Audra, who lives in France.  This was the year I got to go to Virginia and see my long lost family and a couple of old friends, even though I stressed and bitched about it non-stop.  And this was the year I worried about being totally broke, but we have more money now than we've ever had.  Things have turned out okay.  At the very least, we got the hell out of the house from hell, right?

I have high hopes for 2015.  Stay tuned.

The Brats vs C.H.A.M.P.S debate goes on...

If you've been reading this blog, you may know that I've written twice about Jennifer and Debbie Fink, the mother-daughter pair who tried and failed to get people to stop referring to military kids as "brats" and embrace their new acronym, CHAMPS (Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel).  Both of those posts got a lot of feedback from military brats around the world.  Indeed, I was astonished by the number of people who read my posts about the brats vs CHAMPs phenomenon.

As I've written before many times, I am myself an Air Force "brat", though my experiences growing up a brat were not of the stereotypical country crossing/globe trotting sort.  I was born late in my dad's Air Force career and he was retired by the time I was six years old.  I still grew up in very military heavy communities, though, and have always been surrounded by people in the military.  I grew up going to AAFES, the commissary, and getting my healthcare at military hospitals (which are becoming a dying breed) and dispensaries.  Hell, the only time I've ever heard or used the term "dispensary" was in connection with the military.  That's what the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, Virginia called the little medical facility they had... which is where I got my college physical.

Yesterday I became aware of an article that was published in the Washington Post, which may be of interest to some people who read this blog.  Reporter John Kelly, himself an Air Force brat, interviewed the Finks as well as a number of "brats" and presents a fairly balanced view of the whole brats vs. CHAMPS debate.  I see from information posted in Facebook groups about this article that Mr. Kelly didn't have enough space to present every fine point about this situation.  I did learn something new when I read his article, though.

It seems that the Finks originally titled their book "The Little Brats", but were advised by certain groups, notably the Military Child Education Coalition outside of Austin, that the term "brats" was not used in an official way.  MCEC president and chief executive, Mary Keller, explains that she knows people who grew up children of service members often refer to themselves as "brats", but the term isn't always considered appropriate for those who aren't in the group.  If you think about it, a lot of groups are like that.  For instance, it might be okay for homosexuals within a group to refer to themselves as "queens", but they might be offended if someone not within the group called them that.  Same might go for a group of women who refer to themselves as "bitches"... they might not want a group of men to call them that.  As someone who has advanced degrees in social work and public health, I am well aware of this phenomenon.  When I was getting my MPH/MSW, I had to change some of my own terminology.  For example, I no longer refer to "unwanted pregnancies"; instead, I call them "unintended or unplanned pregnancies".  I don't refer to "day care".  Instead, I call it "child care", since not all parents need care for their children during the daytime.

While I get that the Finks didn't want to run afoul of military bureaucrats, especially if they were being funded by them, it does seem that they missed asking actual "brats" what they want to be called.  According to Kelly's article, when Jennifer Fink presented the name CHAMPs to the powers that bed, they supposedly "loved it".  On the surface, it seems like it would have been a good idea.  Who wants to be called a "brat" when they could be called a CHAMP?  As it turns out, a lot of people were turned off by the new CHAMP moniker.  I can't speak for other "brats", but to me, it just seemed like a forced "politically correct" term, steeped in liberalism.  I have nothing against liberalism per se-- I often lean toward it myself.  But when it comes to military culture, liberalism seems kind of wimpy and reeking of bullshit.  I may embrace some of the so-called bullshit myself, but I know that the military culture as a whole is much more conservative and hawkish.  They aren't going to buy into a program that presents a special trophy to everyone.  The military culture embraces toughness and competition and tenacity, not labeling everyone a "champ" for simply being born to a person who chooses the military lifestyle.

While the Finks have done a lot of volunteering for military causes and Jennifer Fink is even engaged to be married to a service member, it seems to me that they haven't quite grasped military culture as well as they could.  I could be wrong, but it looks like the whole of the Finks' experiences with the military have been in places like Washington, DC and Europe.  Granted, there are plenty of military folks in those areas.  I wonder if they ever visited Fort Hood?  Fort Irwin?  Wright-Patterson Air Force Base?  Fort Polk?  Cherry Point?  Leavenworth?  Did the Finks go to military communities in areas that may not have been as lively and fun as DC and Europe (although I have no earthly desire to move back to the DC area)?  Did they speak to the rank and file members of the military community?  The spouses, their kids, and most importantly, those who grew up military but are no longer affiliated?  I'm guessing they probably didn't.

It's not that I can blame the Finks for not going on a tour of some of the less glamorous military installations.  If you can work with the USO and go to Italy and Germany rather than Killeen, Texas, Leavenworth, Kansas, or Barstow, California, why wouldn't you?  Except that if you're going to take on and win support from a large group of people, you have to engage them.  The impression I get is that the Finks didn't bother to engage regular people.  They hung out with bureaucrats and corporate bigwigs from USAA...  or at least, that's how it appears to me.  I could be wrong.

I do think the Finks meant well.  They were doing some good things.  I am not as pissed off at them as a lot of people seem to be.  I just think their idea to rebrand military brats was really kind of lame and they didn't do as much homework as they should have.  They can't help that they are outsiders when it comes to military brat culture, but Jennifer Fink is marrying a service member, which means that if she has children, they will likely be a part of the group.  And maybe she can learn from her kids and her own experiences once she's actually in the military culture herself and has some "skin in the game".

Independent filmmaker Donna Musil, herself an Army brat, has made a film about the "brat" experience called BRATS: Our Journey Home.  I just found out about this documentary, which features narration and music by Kris Kristofferson.  It looks like it might be good viewing for the Finks.  I believe I will also try to get a copy of the film myself.  I think there's a lot more to be learned about brat culture.  Also, for those who want to read about the military brat experience, I highly recommend Mary Edwards Wertsch's excellent book, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress.  You'll find my review by clicking the link.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thanks for your opinion, now feel free to...

go take a flying leap!

As Dr. Phil would say, I have a "psychological sunburn" about some things.  Folks, I am well aware of my "thin-skinned" nature.  I am neurotic and I know it.  Little things that "shouldn't" annoy me often do.  I know I should work on it.  I know that if I were less easily irritated, my life might be better.  Here's one thing that doesn't help me get over it, though...  Don't tell me what should or should not offend or annoy me.

Yes, this came up on Facebook yesterday...  it's kind of a rerun of my many issues, I suppose.  Someone on SingSnap-- apparently much younger than I am and from Alabama-- left me a generic comment, called me "sweetie", and invited me to go listen to one of her recordings, which already had lots of hits, comments, and likes.  I ignored the comment, but decided to vent about it on my Facebook page.  I knew full well that someone would come along to tell me that homespun terms of endearment is a "southern" thing and I shouldn't be offended by it.  Naturally, I wasn't disappointed.

Okay, first of all, I am from the southern United States, so I am well aware that cutesy pet names are a "thing" there.  Having been born and raised in Virginia and spent lots of time in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, I know very well that southern people in particular can be casual about using a pet name in lieu of a person's real name.  And if the terms of endearment come from someone I know or an older lady who is waiting on me in a diner or something, they usually don't upset me.  It's when I get them from total strangers who are young enough to have crawled out of my uterus that I get especially irritated.  Why?  Because names like "honey", "sweetie", and "darling" from a total stranger imply a familiarity that doesn't exist.  They also suggest laziness, since in the case of the SingSnap commenter, all she had to do was go to my profile page and see that my real name is provided there.  She could have called me "knotty" or she could have called me "Jenny", but apparently, it was easier just to call me "sweetie" and pimp her song.  Sadly, her efforts to woo me to her page failed.

Secondly, while I understand that getting annoyed by a stranger calling me "sweetie" is pointless, so is telling me that I shouldn't get annoyed.  Because I am already annoyed.  Your telling me that I'm being too sensitive and need to get over it is not going to make things better, because that will also annoy me.  It's not nice to discount or diminish other people's feelings, especially if they are adults.  Besides, I think I should be the one who determines what I find irritating and what I don't, especially if I'm posting about it on my personal blog or Facebook page.  Trust me, I wish little things didn't piss me off.  They do, though.  I can't help it.  And if I want to vent about it, that's my business.  If it bothers you, you can choose to hang out elsewhere.

My "friend" who chastised me for getting annoyed pointed out that she's been called worse than "sweetie".  She said, "At least they didn't call me a bitch."  Being a card carrying southerner, I will tell you that sometimes, when a southerner calls you "sweetie", they really are calling you a bitch.  It's a passive aggressive thing that terminally "nice" southerners do when they really want to let 'er rip on someone but don't want to stoop to cussing them out.

Recently, I was watching old episodes of America's Next Top Model cycle 14.  Contestant Anslee Payne-Franklin of Dacula, Georgia, got into an argument with fellow Georgian Alasia over the fact that Alasia left some raw chicken on the counter.  Did Anslee flat out call Alasia a bitch?  Well no, not at first.  She said, in a rather acid tone of voice, that Alasia needed to put the chicken away, but then sarcastically added the term of endearment "sweetheart" to her statement.  Do you think that made things better?  Well, no, actually it didn't.  Because Alasia, who instantly caught on to Anslee's condescending tone of voice, immediately escalated things by attacking Anslee's mothering skills.  The rest is television cat fight history.

I happen to be one of those people who is sensitive to a lot of things.  It would make my life so much easier if I were a really laid back person who didn't notice the things that regularly get on my nerves.  But if I were like that, I wouldn't be myself.  A lot of people love me for who I am.  Bill is one of those people.  He loves it when I get wound up over dumb things because it usually results in an entertaining rant.  Believe it or not, Bill actually likes listening to me go off.  He says my rants are often funny and usually make perfect sense.  I also tend to say the things he's thinking, but lacks the temerity to say out loud.  The world would be a very boring place if everyone were low key and laid back, don't you think?  We need a few folks around who provide excitement by raising a little hell.

The person on SingSnap who inspired this rant wasn't calling me a bitch when she addressed me as "sweetie".  She was just treating me like a little bitch by pimping her song to me on SingSnap. Apparently, she thought that calling me "hon" or "sweetie" would flatter me and make me more interested in hearing her recording.  Instead, I found it off-putting, the same way I find the picture below off-putting...

Someone posted this yesterday...  interestingly enough, it was a woman.

Have a look at that photo.  Notice that it basically says that if you have "hurt feelings" you are thin skinned, a woman, or gay.  I find it also interesting that the form says that people who have hurt feelings are "pussies".  As a comedian other than Betty White famously quipped,

The reality is, folks, vaginas tend to be tougher all the way around than balls are.  So calling someone a "pussy" is kind of counterintuitive.  Moreover, I have some homosexual friends who are among the strongest people I know.  Same goes for some women I know, though a lot of them are just as equally annoying as they are strong.

So, there you have it... yet another rant on cutesy pet names and the people who think I have no right to be pissed off by them.  I have a perfect right to think and feel whatever I wish and express myself accordingly.  Likewise, you have the right to respond, but don't be surprised if your advice falls on deaf ears and makes the situation worse.  Of course, sometimes, I think that's the whole idea.  Remember, people like it when someone raises a little hell.  It gives them something to talk about.

And, in case you were wondering, yes, it is still snowing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hey! Don't trample my snowman, you asshole!

Photo courtesy of GutMaze on Wikipedia...  I would have made one myself, but I can't be bothered.

Now that we're in Germany again and living in the thick of the military community, I am becoming aware of problems I don't have because A: I don't have kids and B: I don't live in stairwell apartments.

This morning on our local community Facebook page, Stuttgart Friends, a lady complained that her son had made a snowman and a bunch of jerks came along and trampled it.  Other people chimed in and said they, too, had made snowpeople with their kids that were soon demolished by marauding killjoys.  One would hope it's kids who are doing the demolishing and not adults.  I can't imagine what kind of mean-spirited jackass would deliberately destroy someone else's hard work out in the cold.

In all seriousness, imagine being a little kid.  Maybe it's your first time experiencing snow.  Maybe you and daddy or mommy went out to play in the snow and made your very first snowman.  What joy!  What innocence.  What bliss!  Lots of military kids grow up in hot climates where snow is a rare but exquisite pleasure.  And all you want to do is enjoy your snowman for the short time it will survive.

But no... a group of ill mannered ruffians comes along and strikes your snowman dead within seconds of aiming a well placed kick in the snowman's groin.  Over it topples, along with it, your hard work and sense of pride.  What is with these heartless kids, anyway?

I was heartened to see some creative solutions suggested by the group.  One lady suggested pouring cold water over the snowman so it would turn into something hard and icy.  Another suggested using bricks or a boulder as a base.  Imagine being the unlucky child who dares to kick over that snowman, with its rock hard interior.  Ouch!  

One man's young son offered an optimistic perspective when his snowman was knocked over.  He said, "He's still here, just spread out a little.  We can put him back together!"

I know... kids love to knock things down.  I am sure that seeing a snowman standing there like a sitting duck is more than your average 9 year old boy can stand.  And based on the videos I've found on YouTube, it's also more than your average obnoxious teenaged boy can stand.  Perhaps this might be a good teaching moment for a parent.  It's a prime example of a time when you can explain to your child (or teen) why destroying someone else's creations is wrong.    

On the other hand, maybe it's time to engage in a little prankery.

Mwahahahahaha!  I wonder how those little shits would react if the snowman they dared to so callously destroy suddenly moved in for an attack!  I bet there would be tears!  

This guy looks like a winner... especially with his Bieberesque hairdo...

Here's a guy who was going to knock over a snowman but realized he was on camera...

Remember kids, mean people suck!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saturday is a special day...

I'm inspired by the RfM community today to write about a little thing certain members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expected to do on Saturdays.  Now, I am not now nor have I ever been LDS.  I was raised Presbyterian.  In my church, we had custodians.  They were paid to keep the church clean and they were expected to do the job properly.  To my knowledge, they did their job well.  I don't remember ever coming across a nasty bathroom or a dirty Sunday School room.  Indeed, I don't remember the kitchen or the fellowship hall ever looking or smelling skanky.  The sanctuary was always pristine and the grounds were well-tended.

From what I've read, that's how it was in the olden days of Mormonism.  They used to have paid professionals keep their buildings clean.  Church members were expected to clean up after themselves, but they weren't asked to give up a precious Saturday to come in and scrub toilets or vacuum.  And given how busy church members tend to be with their (often) large families, demanding jobs, community service, and callings, Saturdays are no doubt a "special day".  Indeed, there's even a song about it.

"Saturday is a special day"... it's the day we get ready for Sunday.    

Listen to the lyrics.  On Saturdays, members have their own shit to attend to.  They have to shop, clean their house, wash their hair, clip their toenails, iron their Sunday clothes, shine their shoes, and get everything ready so they'll be ready to "rest" on Sunday...  after three hours of church, of course.

A few years ago, the powers that be in the LDS church determined that members needed to learn more about service.  So they got rid of the people they used to pay to clean their buildings and commanded the members to do the cleaning themselves.  The members were told this would help them have more of an attitude of service, be more reverent toward their buildings, develop more community spirit, and most of all, indoctrinate the children to be obedient to the profit... er, prophets...  Personally, despite church leaders' insistence that they didn't fire their janitors to save money, I think that's precisely why members are doing the cleaning instead of paid professionals.

RfM member "EveryMemberAJanitor" helpfully provided links to videos about the Mormon practice of getting members to clean the buildings.  I watched one video provided by the church.  I often get a kick out of Mormon church made videos.  They are very professionally done with lots of heartwarming music and pictures of happy families cleaning windows, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming floors.  And members talk about how these chores help increase their faith and how it really can be "fun" to do this stuff on Saturday if you have the "right attitude".  Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.

Maybe it is fun for some people.  Those who have the time and energy to clean-- don't have a bunch of kids to tend to or a busy job that prevents them from getting their stuff done during the week-- and those who actually enjoy cleaning (and there are a few rare souls that do) might genuinely enjoy the Saturday church cleaning chores.  Maybe it's fun if everyone does their part and shares the load so that the same people don't end up doing the work week after week.  But from what I've read, this is not what usually happens.  Members are supposed to volunteer to clean once a month or so.  A lot of them don't, because they have other things to do.  Some of them don't because they don't want to or are lazy.  So that leaves the people who don't have anything better to do, those who actually like to clean, and those who can be guilted or manipulated into doing the work that inevitably is assigned to them after they don't volunteer.

Here's the thing, though.  Though the LDS church leaders are quick to tell everyone how they take care of their own by having a bishop's storehouse for people who are down on their luck, the truth is, to take advantage of the "charity", members are expected to work.  Which is fine.  Except that if the church actually hired these folks to do the work, then they'd be helping them become productive members of society again.  They'd be able to tithe, pay their bills, and get by without charity.  And maybe they'd also gain valuable skills.  The buildings would get the full time attention they need and the members who have other things to do on Saturdays would not be burdened with yet another chore on their one day off.  Seems to me that if they have the money to make their fancy videos and printed resources for church members, they have the money to pay people to clean their buildings properly.

Of course, I am not now nor will I ever be a Mormon.  I don't know how the rank and file members actually feel about this policy-- and I have a feeling it is the rank and file members that are affected the most.  I guess if they're okay with it, maybe I should be...  except I am sure that some people don't like being put upon to do this kind of work.  Given how many Mormons have small kids, I am sure the job is pretty disgusting at times.

The leaders present the prospect of cleaning the church as if it's a great service opportunity.  But really, it's a way for them to save money, keep the members busy, and indoctrinate them further.  Because if you are busy on Saturday morning scrubbing the shit stains and pubic hairs out of the church's commodes, you aren't doing something that might lead you astray.  There's no free time to do some critical thinking or reading about church history, or talk to people who aren't in the church, or even watch a television program about something not church related.  It's also time you aren't spending with your family.  Yes, they may be there helping you scrub shit stains, but how much deep bonding can you do over cleaning up dried urine and poo residue and the whine of a vacuum cleaner?  Especially when you also need to do the same chores at your own home?

Of course, these lads serving missions in Russia could probably use some remedial toilet training...

Actually, the video above kind of pisses me off.  On one hand, these two boys are doing the kind of typical immature stuff teenagers do.  On the other hand, they are called "elders" by their church and they were going door to door in Russia trying to get people to become Mormons.  Clearly, they aren't really "elders"; they're boys... full of mischief and testosterone and apparently, a bent toward vandalism.  These guys are probably the source of many shit stains in the meetinghouses.  How much scrubbing do you think they do on Saturday mornings?

Having lived in a Soviet era building or two myself, I think they are lucky they didn't cause a fire.  Imagine what that would have done for the morale of Russians who might be displaced, hurt, or killed by their shenanigans?  I see by the full trash can by their toilet, they aren't supposed to flush paper down the toilet.  Plumbing in the former Soviet Union tends to be fragile.  Notice the young man who didn't make the fire yells, "You can't flush it!" as his companion flushes the residue down the tubes.  At the very least, their prank could cause a nasty clog, which might affect others in their building and/or cause a plumber to have to come out and fix the toilet for them.

Anyway... I'm glad my Saturdays aren't special.


We're really making up for the last five years...

It's still snowing here in Germany.  If you looked at yesterday's travel blog post, you'll see that yesterday morning's snow dump was impressive.  Well, it hasn't stopped snowing yet and we have drifts of snow banked up against the house.  The accumulation is up to the dogs' chests, so they have to hop around to be able to move in it.  Zane loves playing in snow.  I think Arran does, too, but it's a little too cold for his liking.  He stays out long enough to pee and hop around for a few seconds, then comes inside.  I was fortunate enough to get him to poop out there today.  I should probably mark it on the calendar, since he doesn't like to poop outside while on a leash.

The above pictures are what it looks like outside right now.  If you compare them to the one I posted the other day, it's pretty telling...  And Germans are pretty anal retentive about snow, too.  On weekdays, it has to be shoveled by 7:00am and if someone comes by and hurts themselves on an unshoveled walk, you are liable.  On Sundays, you have until 8:00am.  Fortunately, we don't have a sidewalk in front of our house, so only the driveway needs doing.

We were caught without a snow shovel yesterday, so Bill cleared the snow with a broom.  Then, after I cajoled him about it, he went out and got a shovel, which is a good thing, since the snow is still coming down and the weather reports say the temperatures are going to stay below freezing for the next few days.  You're also not supposed to use salt, though I think Bill did anyway.

Moving on... I found this great I-Am-An-ExMormon video yesterday...  It's a pretty funny story and I like the lady who is telling it.  Suffice to say, if you are LDS, you apparently need to pay attention to what kind of tights you wear.

I may be arsed to write more later.  For now, I need food.  It's 10:45am and I haven't had breakfast yet.

Incidentally, had my dad lived, today would have been my parents' 57th wedding anniversary.  I'm sure my mom will enjoy herself today, though.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why is it...

when someone finds out you're a second wife, they ask if you caused the demise of the first marriage?  It happens to me all the time.  And even if I did cause the breakup of my husband's marriage to Ex, I sure wouldn't admit to it.  So it's a pointless question.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Man gets thrown off American Airlines flight for protesting Christmas greetings...

The longer I live, the more I think many people are just plain nuts.  I read an article this morning about a guy who was kicked off an American Airlines flight out of La Guardia Airport because he protested flight attendants and other staff members wishing him a Merry Christmas.  The man, who was evidently traveling by himself, first yelled at the ticket agent who cheerily said Merry Christmas, reminding her that not everyone celebrates Christmas.  Then, when he got on the aircraft, another unfortunate soul offered the same greeting and the guy apparently went ballistic.  He was escorted off the plane to a chorus of cheers from the other passengers.

I know air travel is stressful.  I know not everyone is Christian.  I know that the holidays are very depressing for a lot of people.  But jeez!  Talk about a waste of time and money!  On the other hand, once again, I'm writing about non news.

Bill and I woke up to a lovely winter scene.  We got snow last night and it was enough to lightly cover everything.  The sun is now out, so it may be gone by tonight. is calling for 3-5 inches for tomorrow.  Nothing like a white Boxing Day, right?  In all seriousness, I'm happy to see snow again, even though we saw it in Virginia last month.  I've spent the last five years in very southern states where snow is a rarity.

The view in our yard when I woke up...

Today is another major holiday in Germany, so we probably won't do anything.  Maybe we'll find a restaurant or something.  I'm still not dressed, though.  If I could, I'd live in my nightie.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Bill and I don't have any big plans for today.  As I write this, he's downstairs cooking breakfast.  He was going to make Eggs Benedict, but I told him I wanted grits.  So I think he's making our usual Saturday morning breakfast of eggs, biscuits, bacon, and the best damn grits ever.  Seriously.  I order them from Amazon and I will post a link to the bottom for those who are curious.  They are off the chain awesome.

We have a very puny smattering of gifts under the tree because I got a late start ordering them and a few haven't yet gotten here.  It did occur to me to buy stuff locally, but Bill requested work clothes and it's easier to order clothes from American vendors.  That way, I stand a better chance of getting him the right sizes and styles.

I made bread yesterday and we sat around listening to music, talking, and drinking beer.  I imagine there will be more of the same today.

In other news, I just discovered this bit of brilliance.

Anyone else need a taco?

This amazing song was composed by none other than the super talented Sponjetta Parrish of America's Got Talent fame.  Check it out.

I have to admit, this lady is good at coming up with catchy hooks, even if her lyrics are a bit inane.

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday.  Bill has summoned me to the table, so off I go.

These grits are sooooo good!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve...

My friend Cary at List Of The Day posted this on Facebook.  It's so delightfully ridiculous that I had to share it here.  God bless Jan Terri.  She's a woman who has no shame about promoting the absurd...  Without further ado, I give you "Ave Maria"!

Not bad.  You can dance to it, right?  I have to admit I did... and the sun's not even fully up yet.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Candid photos...

I hate it when people take candid pictures of me.  I especially hate it when they share their candid pictures of me, even though I doubt other people think I'm as ugly as I think I am.  When we were in Virginia for Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law, who is actually a pretty good photographer, called my name.  As I turned to answer him, he snapped a shutter.  I immediately got annoyed and said, "Don't take pictures of me!"

The photo I included in the last post was a candid photo.  I was a little annoyed that a cousin sent it to me... but then I heard about my Uncle Carl.  Now I guess I'm not so annoyed... though if I had known a photo was being taken, maybe I wouldn't have been caught in such an unflattering shot.

Bill has the same problem I do.  He usually gets caught mid wink when someone takes his photo.  I am probably the best person to take his pictures, though, because I love him.  The pictures I take of him and share are usually flattering, because while I know he doesn't always photograph well, I catch him when he looks good.  And the pictures I take reflect how I feel about him.  Even though Bill hates being photographed, he has told me often that I get good pictures of him.  I must say I do, even though I am not that great at photography.

I get caught with my head in a position that gives me triple chins and I'm sitting in a way that makes me look even dumpier than I am.  If I take my own photo with a webcam, I can make myself look more attractive.  If someone else takes the photo, I look like Jabba the Hut.  It's embarrassing.

But hell... I'm getting old anyway.  What difference does it make that I look like Jabba the Hut?  I was lucky enough to snare a husband who is attracted to me for more than the way I look on film.

Incidentally, I got a very nice Christmas card from my mom.  She thanked me again for singing at my dad's memorial.  She said my solo was "very meaningful"... which may not sound like much unless you know my mom.  She's not one for gushing.  She has to have cataract surgery next month and it looks like the VA has given her an allowance, so she'll get to stay in her home for the time being.  I know that's a relief for her and for her four daughters.

Like everyone else, mom worries about the CIA torture report.  And to be totally honest, reading about it turns my stomach.  I know this stuff goes on.  It still makes me sick.  I hate to read or hear about people torturing other people.  Abuse makes me sick... and some of the things I've read makes me think that there are a lot of abusive sickos working for the CIA.  Makes me glad they didn't hire me.

In other news, we have to get yet another ID card because the government has rewritten Bill's contract.  The good news is, it looks like we'll get more than a year here.  Hallelujah.

ETA: We were visited by the landlords tonight... We were not expecting their visit, but they brought us a Christmas card and wine... Bill opened the door and the dogs got out, which caused us to have to corral them in the dark.  Fortunately, one of our very nice neighbors who speaks English helped us.  It only took about 15-20 minutes to catch Zane whereas it might have taken much longer.

At least now the landlords know why I'm so nervous about the dogs getting loose.  Arran is easy to catch, but Zane is a real stinker.

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Uncle Carl...

Yesterday, I got an email from my beloved Aunt Gayle.  Gayle is married to my dad's brother and she is one of the nicest people I know besides Bill.  I can say with all honesty that my Aunt Gayle is one of my favorite people because she is truly a lovely person.  As a lovely person who lives in my Granny's old house, it often falls to her to tell the family about people who are sick and need prayers. I am not one who is big on prayers or religion in general, but when she asks for prayers, I usually oblige.  Yesterday, she asked for prayers for my Uncle Carl.

Last month, when Bill and I were in Virginia reuniting with my family, we saw my Uncle Carl and his wife, Betty.  Carl is one of my dad's brothers.   He and Betty have lived in Natural Bridge for most of their lives and raised their two children there.  Unfortunately, Carl and Betty are both ill.  Betty has Alzheimer's Disease and can no longer navigate the area where she's lived for decades.  Carl has a form of leukemia.  I am not sure which kind he has, but I'm guessing it's AML.  If I recall correctly, my grandmother, who was also Carl's mother, had the chronic form of leukemia for many years.  Unfortunately, I don't think Carl will be as lucky as she was.  He's been in the hospital for about 10 days with uncontrollable fevers.  Gayle writes that the last two rounds of chemotherapy have not been effective.  His body has started to make "immature cells".

Carl was basically himself when we saw him last month, other than being tired and needing to sit down.  He's a very demonstrative person who likes to hug a lot.  He sat between Bill and me and had a long chat, though he didn't talk too much about the cancer he's been dealing with, other than to say that he'd had a relapse.  He told me that he can't dance anymore and that's something he's always loved to do.  He said that Betty has lost her short term memory, so they often have the same conversations over and over again.  He said he's exhausted most of the time, too...  But he was in great spirits and seemed delighted to see Bill and me.

Although I did a lot of stressing before our reunion, I'm glad we were there, too.  I said it would probably be the last time I'd see some of the people in attendance.  In Carl's case, it sadly looks like I could be right.  Based on the wording of Gayle's email, I get the sense that things may be going south very soon, though Carl's doctors hope he can go home for Christmas.  They have to get his fevers under control first.

Me and Carl on the couch.  I wouldn't ordinarily share this photo of myself because it's not very flattering, but since it's of me and Carl, I figure I might as well.

Carl is the one who led the open mic at my dad's memorial.  He told the story about why my dad, whose name at birth was Charles, ended up going by the name "Bill" his whole life.  In storage back in Texas, I have a funny photo of Carl at my wedding.  He has a red rose between his teeth and looks maniacal.  I remember watching him dance at many family parties.  I remember his stories about what it was like to grow up my dad's brother.  Sadly, I think I might have heard his stories for the last time.

Anyway, we'll see what happens.  Another uncle, Ed, has organized a family blood drive in Carl's honor.  Carl is a good man.  I will send him my prayers.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Being a housewife is akin to being on welfare?

The other day, I read an interesting article on  It was about a woman who was being "bullied" by a woman at her child's bus stop.  This article, which was originally published in November 2013, was written by Jessica Stolzberg, a mom who has two kids who are now in school.  At the time her article was published, Stolzberg's kids were 8 and 11 years old.  Apparently, the other mom at the bus stop felt that because Stolzberg had kids in school, it was time for her to go back to work.  The other mom was herself a part time therapist who took dance classes six times a week.  However, the part time therapist felt it was her right to ask Stolzberg about how she spends her time, now that her kids aren't home all day.  Therapist mom even had the nerve to ask Stolzberg, "Can I ask what you do all day?"

Stolzberg handled the first question with class and aplomb, but the lady continued to make snarky comments throughout the school year.  Finally, when Stolzberg had had enough, she confronted the lady, and was then treated to another comment about how perhaps she should seek therapy to find out why the therapist's comments upset her so much.  I don't think you'd need a therapist to answer that question.  It's because the therapist was being rude, insensitive, and, well, snarky.  If it were me, I think I would have told therapist lady that I spend my days lounging in black, crotchless, velvet pantaloons, masturbating to music by Grace Jones.  Then I would have smiled and winked at her.  Or, if I'd been in a pissy mood, I might have told her it was none of her goddamn business.  Clearly she's not busy enough with her own life if the way I spend my days is such a big concern to her.

I must admit that I could relate to Jessica Stolzberg somewhat, except I don't even have kids.  I am a SAHW.  And I'm sure that certain people actually do wonder what I do all day...  On the other hand, most people probably don't care because they have their own lives to worry about.  It used to really bother me that I didn't have a job outside the home.  It was an insult to my pride.  And when I first became a SAHW, it nearly drove me nuts not having anywhere to go all day or anyone to answer to.

As time went on, I became pretty good at filling the hours with meaningful activities.  I started to make music and write, which has even ended up earning me some money.  I daresay Jessica Stolzberg, though she doesn't work outside the home, is also a writer.  That's what she does all day, aside from tending to household chores that need doing and raising her kids.  Frankly, I think it makes perfect sense for parents to want to raise their kids, rather than put them in a child care facility.  But I understand that other people both want and need to work outside the home for a living.  That's okay, too.  Whatever's legal and gets you through life-- that's my motto.

Anyway, after I read the article, I made the mistake of reading the comments.  And someone wrote this...

I cannot even fathom why anyone would WANT to be a stay at home mom. Even if I had the opportunity to not work, i.e. if my husband made enough money to support the family, I would feel like a complete failure and a mooch not providing financially for myself and my kids. I'm pretty sure we don't live in the 1950s anymore so no one expects a mom to stay at home, so why would you? I have worked [outside the home] my kids' whole lives and they're perfectly fine. I've been there for them for their awards and events and conferences and everything in between. I come home and make dinner and clean and do laundry, but I work for a living and pay my own way. In my opinion SAHMs are no different than welfare moms. they just get their money from their husbands instead of the government. Go to college and get a job. Have some self respect.

Wow.  I mean, I guess I get that some people think that SAHMs or even worse, SAHWs, are "mooches" because they don't earn a steady paycheck from some corporation.  But are they really akin to "welfare moms"?  Aside from the fact that some people really do need welfare and are getting it through no fault of their own, what makes you think your choices should be everyone's choices?  There's no one "right" way to live.  And everyone is dealing with different circumstances.  Naturally, this commenter got a rebuttal...  Here's one of the better ones.

SAHM moms are no different from welfare moms???!!! You're not only offensive, but totally ignorant. How dare you presume to know everyone else's situation. If a family has enough income for one partner (male or female) to stay at home, good for them. My partner works ridiculous hours, but makes a decent wage, and appreciates the contributions I make to our family. I not only spend a ton of time helping out at my children's school (which they love), I also, whenever possible, take photos and videos for the Moms I know aren't able to attend many school events because of work. Thankfully, these women don't seem to share your opinions, just appreciate that those of us who are able to give their time to make a better school for all of our kids. And I respect the choices they make as well. Your choices are fine for you, not for many of us. The difference is, I don't draw idiotic conclusions based on people whose choices are different from mine.

And then the precious lady who compares SAHMs to welfare moms retorts with this...

can you please explain to me how SAHMs are any different than welfare moms, other than the fact they get their money from their husbands instead of the government? those things you've described doing; volunteering, etc., could be done by any parent who isn't at work during the day.

p.s. This is coming from a former single mom (who at one point had no choice to be on welfare) who worked hard to finish my degree and got a job so I could have the ability to provide for myself and my children.

Hmmph... well, aren't we a little self-righteous and holier than thou?  So the other commenter wrote this.  

That's very easy. My husband and I each contribute to making life better for our family. His work has a dollar amount attached, mine doesn't. I'm very happy to have a husband who sees my contribution just as important as his, if not more so. It was his idea for me to stay home just before the birth of our first child. I was reluctant, but didn't want to put our baby in day care - we made sacrifices in other areas to make it work financially.

I was raised by a single mom who worked her ass of to keep us off of welfare (doesn't work for everyone, and I respect that), so she had to miss a lot of things at school when we were going up. She tells me quite often how pleased she is that I'm able to be there for my kids more than she was able to be for us. She's thrilled to be a part of it, too, and I'm so grateful for every single sacrifice she made for us.

I worked hard to finish my degree, too, at one point holding down three part-time jobs as a full-time student. I did it all without any public assistance, or any help from my parents, something of which I'm very proud. I did it before I became a parent, which is no better or worse than your choices, just mine. Please don't assume that SAHM moms don't have a kick ass work ethic, my ambitions are just devoted in another direction right now. When the time is right, I'll get back to the profession in which I practiced for over a decade. I earned the right to make that choice, however you feel about it. And during the many years I was at work, perhaps some of my tax dollars helped make your goals more possible.

I get that many people prefer to work for a living.  Our society is very work oriented.  If you don't have a job, many people will think you're a loser.   Other people will think you have no identity.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don't have jobs because there aren't any available.  I haven't had a job outside the home in many years.  I wanted one for awhile, but then came to realize that due to the nature of Bill's work, it would be very difficult to do the work for which I was trained.  And I have absolutely no desire to work at a boring low level job for which I am way overqualified.  Moreover, there are other people out there who actually NEED those jobs.  At this point, we don't need the money.

And folks, I'll be very honest.  Getting up the crack of dawn, fighting traffic, sitting in meetings, working under fluorescent lighting in a cubicle while putting out fires, and dealing with annoying co-workers and bosses isn't all that much fun.  I've done it before and if I don't have to do it again, so much the better.  Maybe that makes me a loser in some people's eyes, but hell, we get by.  And there are advantages to our lifestyle, too...  as long as we can maintain it.  I know I wouldn't have gotten to see nearly as much of the world as I have if I hadn't been what some people would call a "dependapotamus"...  And because I write about those experiences, other people get to learn through me.  Besides, now that my blogs have made enough for a Google payment, I can't even say I'm not earning anything.

But anyway... I don't think of myself as akin to a welfare recipient, nor do I think that receiving welfare is necessarily something that people should automatically be ashamed of.  Sometimes people need help and a decent society should be prepared to give it to those who need it.  Being an able bodied person and on welfare for years on end is a different story, of course.  But I don't think that definition applies to most moms I know, whether they're working outside the home or not.

A good song about laziness...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Watching old episodes of ANTM...

I quit watching America's Next Top Model after the college edition.  I think that might have been Cycle 19.  Truth be told, I didn't watch all of the episodes of Cycle 19.  The show had become pretty much unwatchable by then.  When Tyra fired Miss J, Jay Manuel, and Nigel Barker and added the repulsive Kelly Cutrone to the line up, I decided enough was enough and pulled the plug.

Since I was without WiFi for half of this week, I needed to find ways to entertain myself.  I had a bunch of old episodes of ANTM on my computer.  Since those earlier cycles were kind of fun to watch, I've been revisiting them.  Man... I'm glad reality TV didn't exist when I was in my 20s.  The idea of spending several weeks in a house with a bunch of drama queens and engaging in silly challenges while listening to Tyra Banks is not all that appealing.  But then, Tyra Banks is my age, so I probably find her less impressive.  She's more of a peer than a role model.  I also find her unbearably narcissistic, but I guess narcissism is a necessary ingredient for the massive success she has managed to achieve.

I guess for me, what really makes this show interesting is that these women really think that being on ANTM will propel them into superstardom.  Some of the women who have been contestants have become actual models, but the vast majority of them go back into obscurity.  And yet, when they are eliminated, you often hear them say "You'll see me again someday" as they drag their suitcases off into the sunset.

Of course, there are always exceptions.  Probably the most successful ANTM alum yet is Analeigh Tipton, who ended up in movies.

A trailer from one of Analeigh's recent flicks...

Adrianne Curry, who infamously won the first cycle and then went on to piss off Tyra Banks by calling her out for not delivering on the prizes she was supposed to win, went on to be in a few reality shows and even married Christopher Knight, aka Peter Brady.  Of course, they ended up getting divorced.

Adrianne Curry keeping it classy on My Fair Brady...

Elyse Sewell was also on Cycle 1 and later wrote an entertaining blog about being a model in Asia.

Elyse Sewell went on to be a successful model in Hong Kong...

Cycle 10's Fatima Siad has gone on to be a model... and it seems appropriate, given how exotic and unusual she is.

And here's Fatima Siad, obviously still working as a model...

But for most of them, ANTM is not an endeavor that will lead to anything substantive in the entertainment industry.  When it comes down to it, ANTM is about drama and catfights.  I cringe whenever Tyra says the judges are "scared" about something.  That's just dumb.  They're modeling, not performing brain surgery.  Granted, I am no model and wouldn't want to be one.  What they're doing is learning how to sell things through pictures.  That's what modeling is mostly about.  

It also kills me when Tyra talks about "high fashion"... but then all the challenges are using Cover Girl makeup at Walmart.  There's nothing high fashion about Cover Girl or Walmart.  When she criticizes a model for being too "commercial", I can't help but think that's what modeling is really about.  Only a small percentage of models are couture-- those are the ones who are doing artistic photo shoots.  The rest of them are making money selling clothes for Eddie Bauer or Target.  There's nothing wrong with being commercial.  That's where the money and the work is.  Hell... Tyra was a model for Victoria's Secret.  What's high fashion about that?  ANTM is really just one big ad.

Anyway... back to Duolingo.  Got to practice my German.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Stephen Collins says "I'm not a pedophile"...

What is it with actors who play dads of big families on prime time TV?  There have been rumors circulating about Bill Cosby for years, though it's only been recently that so many women have come out and accused him of drugging and raping them.  And then there's Stephen Collins, who has openly admitted exposing himself to a teenager and causing a girl to "touch him inappropriately".  Collins, at least, is admitting what he did, while Cosby won't even address the accusations.

Stephen Collins infamously played Revered Eric Camden on the CW's 7th Heaven,  a show I love to hate.  On that show, he was father to seven kids and father figure to a bunch of other kids.  So far, no one from that show has accused him of "touching inappropriately" or exposing himself.  But it does remind one that actors aren't necessarily who they portray on TV.

On Yahoo! today, Katie Couric is shown asking the former RevCam if he's a pedophile.  Collins emphatically states that he doesn't fit the definition of a pedophile.  He claims that he is not attracted to children and committed those actions because he sought attention.  Okay then...

Actually, while the idea of someone being sexually attracted to children is repulsive to me, I don't necessarily think that every one who commits a sexual crime against children is definitely attracted to them.  Sometimes people just want to hurt other people.  I do think Mr. Collins has some "issues" though, regardless of the reason(s) why he did what he did to those girls.

The little bit of the interview between Couric and Collins is interesting.  I almost wish I were in the States so I could see it aired on 20/20 tonight.  Maybe I will be able to watch it on ABC's Web site.  Apparently, Collins' estranged wife thinks he has narcissistic personality disorder.  I'd like to hear more about that.  Of course, the fact that he's speaking to the media about this situation does make him seem somewhat less creep like.  On the other hand, I wasn't a big fan of Stephen Collins' work even before this stuff came out.

It'll be interesting to see what else comes out about this... and how it makes Collins look in the long run.


New modem in the house!

So I'm off the phone and on the 'net again.  This week, we've dealt with a string of inconveniences... the clog in the pipe, the dogs getting their teeth cleaned, and the modem dying on us.  But at least I'm over my cold and Bill isn't in Africa.

I suspect I'll be ready to write about something substantive in a little while.  For now, I'm going to enjoy using my computer again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My modem died...

So I'm taking a forced hiatus until it gets fixed.  :(  Hopefully, that'll be soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ridiculous post #2...

Well, I'm about to ask for it, but I can't resist.  Today on Huffington Post, there's an interesting article by a woman calling herself Sloane Bradshaw.  The article is called "What One Scorned Wife Wants the Other Woman To Know".  Now, I have never actually been the "other woman", although my husband's former wife probably thinks of me that way.  I didn't meet Bill in person until he had been divorced for almost a year.  Prior to that, we were strictly Internet friends.  But as someone who came after a bitter ex wife, I wish to respond to Ms. Bradshaw's list of demands to the "other woman".  Click the link for the whole article.  My rebuttals will be in red... and they are a bit tongue in cheek.  In reality, I'm not this callous and bitchy.

1.  I'm still married to the guy. So keep your butt out of our business until we can finalize our divorce. And yes, that includes our child visitation schedule, thankyouverymuch.

Fair enough.  That goes both ways, though.  You don't get to have an opinion about our relationship, either, especially after the divorce, thankyouverymuch.  

2.  Don't insist on reading all the texts I send him. It's stalkery and sad.

I'll be happy to respect your privacy, especially if you confine your texts to actual business involving the dissolution of your marriage and the welfare of your children.  Your writing bores me anyway.

3.  Stop thinking that I want this loser back. Cuz, nope.

If he's such a loser, why are you so upset about losing him?  Didn't I do you a favor by taking him off your hands?  I think you protest too much.  And don't tell me what to think.  You're not the boss of me.

4. Don't push to be part of his children's lives, and for God's sake, don't make his kids share their precious visitation time with you.

Okay.  That means you don't get to expect me to do anything for your kids.  Not my kids.  Not my problem.    

5.  I have kids, so, unfortunately, I'm going to have to meet you. When it's time, don't show up looking like some kind of model.

No, you don't have to meet me, since you've pretty much banned me from having anything to do with your kids.  Get down off the motherhood martyrdom cross.  And don't tell me how I should look.  I can't help it if my looks make you feel insecure.  That's your problem.  But thanks for saying I look like a model.  I try.

6.  Or worse, like Pennsatucky from Orange Is The New Black (shudder).

I'm sure I don't know who Pennsatucky is.  I'm too busy fucking your husband to watch TV. 

7.  Don't interrupt me when I'm talking to the man I'm still married to (who *newsflash* fathered my children) to interject your two cents. You are not part of our relationship.

You let "this loser" father your children.  Just remember that, Mother-Of-The-Year.  I hope you don't plan to denigrate your children's father in front of them.  They share his DNA, you know; and it will hurt their feelings to hear you talk shit about their father.  

8.  Don't expect me to consider your feelings or place them above my own or my children's. Not even for one minute. Or one second. You don't matter to me.

Okay.  I'll be sure to continue giving you no quarter, either.   It's only fair, right?  And if I don't matter to you, why are you writing me this list of demands?  Again, you protest too much.  

9.  You slept with my husband and broke up my family. The odds of me ever respecting you are slim to none, especially if you've done anything on this list. You are more than welcome to try to earn my respect.

I never made a promise to you.  Your husband is the one who broke a commitment.  If you don't want your family broken up, forgive him for cheating and don't get a divorce.  What makes you think I give a shit if you respect me?  

10.  But here's the best advice I can give to someone like you: Don't be the other woman. Seriously. Otherwise, you'll get exactly what that type of person deserves: my sh*tty husband. Congratulations.

I hope your next relationship is more fulfilling and you choose your next mate more wisely.  Remember, there are other fish in the sea.  Your ability to judge character accurately is obviously lacking, though, so maybe you'd better wait until the kids are grown.  Wouldn't want to expose them to another loser.

In all seriousness, I do have some empathy for this woman.  It's tough to be betrayed.  Bill experienced it when his ex wife cheated on him.  But then, he probably should have expected it because she also cheated with him.  He believed her when she told him she was separated and her first husband was an abusive bastard.  He made a mistake in getting involved with her while she was still legally married and, in fact, didn't repeat that mistake with me.  There was no carrying on with me until his marriage to the ex was over.  In fact, I even had a so-called "white wedding".

Sounds like Ms. Bradshaw may have similarly made a mistake.  And she may take some solace in realizing that the woman she's so pissed at will likely also be cheated on by her loser soon to be ex.

God knows I have vented plenty on my blog about our situation.  But this is a blog and that's kind of what blogs are for.  It surprises me that an outfit like Huffington Post would publish such an emotional piece written by someone who is still obviously pretty raw.  I notice many commenters are on the writer's side, but quite a few more think she's immature.  What's she's done is vent, which is definitely natural... but to do it for Huffington Post?  I dunno.  Although it is getting read and shared, so what do I know?

Well... now that I've gotten that snarkiness out of my system, I think I'll go check on the laundry.

Ohio kid refuses to do homework until school brings back Ten Commandments plaque...

Special thanks to my Facebook friend, Scooter, for posting about this...  Sometimes I need something really ridiculous to write about on my blog.  

Anthony Miller, a high school freshman at Harding High School in Marion, Ohio, is protesting.  He's on strike, don'tcha know.  What's got him upset?  A plaque that was gifted to the school from the class of 1953 was removed.  The plaque was a copy of the Ten Commandments and it hung for years in a stairway near the school's entrance.  The school's principal has said that the plaque is "gone for good" and that has Anthony and some other students upset.

What has Miller done to protest?  He's quit participating in class.  He goes to school because he has to by law, but he's not doing homework or participating in any activities.  Miller says he's doing it because the Ten Commandments are rules that everyone should follow.  Miller and the other students who are protesting have also passed around a petition.

Personally, I don't have a problem with the Ten Commandments.  I don't think they are offensive.  But then, I was raised Christian.  Not everyone was.  Moreover, a public school, as a government funded institution paid for by taxes that everyone contributes, should not be promoting a specific religious belief.  If you want religion promoted in your school, go to a private school.  As an American, you have that choice.

While I guess it's admirable that school officials are even talking to Miller and his peers about this situation, I have to wonder why it should matter to anyone that Miller has decided not to do his schoolwork.  Not doing his work or participating in school activities is only going to hurt him.  It's his grades and education that are going to suffer.  A few years from now, as Miller prepares for adulthood, will people care that he went on strike to save the Ten Commandments plaque?  My guess is that most of them won't.  This isn't a situation in which Miller's choice not to do his work inconveniences anyone.  In the long run, it's Miller who will suffer the consequences.

I guess I should be glad that Miller even cares enough to do something.  A lot of people don't care enough to get involved in issues that affect them.   But hell, if you're going to protest, do something that has some teeth.  Not doing your work or participating in high school activities isn't effective.  In fact, I'm surprised this is even news.


Monday, December 15, 2014

A review of The Loving Dominant...

Here's an interesting book review for you kinky folks out there...  I'm migrating some book reviews to this blog, so don't mind me.  The Overeducated Housewife is a little kinky, but not kinky enough to start hanging out in BDSM clubs.

And now for something kinky... a very informative beginner's guide to BDSM...

 Feb 7, 2011 (Updated Feb 8, 2011)
Review by   
Rated a Very Helpful Review

    Pros:Very complete book about BDSM.  Great for beginners or the curious.


    Cons:Could use a little editing.  I didn't always agree with Warren.


    The Bottom Line:John and Libby Warren explain how you, too, can be kinky.

    I have a little confession to make.  I'm just a trifle bit kinky.  While you'll never see me donning leather, piercing my nipples, or cracking a whip, I have always been intrigued by the BDSM lifestyle, if only as a voyeur.  Until recently, I had never done much official reading on the subject, other than check out a few Web sites when the mood struck.  About a week ago, the mood struck while I was in bed, searching for something new to read on my Kindle.  I came across John and Libby Warren's very well-regarded book,The Loving Dominant, and decided to read it myself.  The Loving Dominant has been out for years, even before the Internet was a part of the average person's life, but this review refers to the updated 2008 edition.  I finished the book last night and I have to agree that this book is great for those who are curious about the BDSM lifestyle and want to learn more about it.

    What's BDSM all about?

    BDSM stands for Bondage, Domination or Discipline, and Sadomasochism.  John Warren, who is the principal author of The Loving Dominant, describes the term in detail and offers some of his own thoughts on what it should really mean.  Suffice it to say that when most people hear the acronym BDSM, their thoughts turn to a couple exchanging power in some way.  The Dominant (Dom) is the person, male or female, who takes the leadership role.  The submissive (sub) is the person, male or female, who takes the submissive role.

    John Warren is the Dom in his relationship with his wife, Libby.  He's also a former Marine.  Having spent a good portion of my time around military folks, I easily caught Warren's authoritative and often matter-of-fact tone as he explains what it means to be a "loving dominant".  I was impressed by Warren's rather serious attitude when it comes to protecting the well-being of those who trust others to dominate them.  Warren is also careful to point out behaviors that may come across as rude or poor form when a person is just getting started with BDSM.  This book is mostly written for those who wish to dominate, but it's really useful for anyone who is interested in the BDSM scene.

    Very complete

    I'm impressed by how complete this book is.  Warren has chapters on everything from tying knots, to leather working, to meeting other kinky people, to setting up convincing scenes with submissives.  It really is a good primer on the many different aspects of BDSM.  John Warren seems to have thought of just about every subject a kinky beginner would need to know about and includes just about all of them in his very handy book.

    It's all in your head...   

    Warren seems to understand that a large part of BDSM's appeal is psychological.  Therefore, when he sets up a scene, he's very creative and quick to place elements in them to make them seem more real.  For instance, in one chapter, he describes a scene involving making love in a gas station.  His submissive is blindfolded, so he makes it more real for her by scattering oily rags around so that the room smells like it could be a gas station.

    In another chapter, Warren describes a submissive who wished that he would brand her with the first letter of his last name.  Warren was very leery about using a branding iron; nevertheless, he aimed to please.  He borrowed a small branding iron with the letter "W" on it.  It was originally used to mark the temperatures on steaks.  He heated up the branding iron, allowing his submissive to watch until it was red hot.  Then he blindfolded her and asked her if she was absolutely sure she wanted to be branded.  He held the searing hot iron close to her flesh as he asked the question.  She could feel the heat reddening her skin and anticipated extreme pain, but said she was sure.  Quickly, he switched out the iron for an ice cube and held it against her skin.  The submissive screamed and passed out.  She was later upset, yet relieved, that he didn't actually go "all the way".  While branding is definitely not a turn on for me, I had to admit I was very impressed by Warren's ingenuity in creating a convincing and thrilling scene for his playmates.

    Mind your manners

    Another aspect of this book that I found interesting was Warren's chapter on attending parties or going to BDSM clubs.  He explains the etiquette of such gatherings, which tends to be different than that of vanilla gatherings.  For instance, Warren explains why it's important not to be fashionably late to a scene party.  He explains why the host might prefer that attendees park away from the party's actual location.  He lets his readers know why it's important to dress appropriately and listen to what the host says regarding appropriate behavior in the venue.

    Warren also explains some behavioral issues between Dominants and submissives.  He explains why Dominants should have as much respect for their submissives as much as they demand respect.  On the other hand, he warns Dominants not to allow submissives to "top from the bottom".  If you don't know what that means, don't worry.  Warren has thoughtfully included a glossary of common terms associated with the BDSM lifestyle.  He also includes illustrations and plenty of sources so that his readers can do extra reading on the subject.

    Not everything in this book turned me on...   

    Although I can admit to being kinky, I'm pretty vanilla as kinky people go.  I'm not turned on by "water sports", coprophagia, forced enemas, catheterization, electricity, piercings, extreme humiliation, blood sports, or anything else that has to do with extreme pain, body fluids, or being forced to eat gross things.  But Warren recognizes that many of his readers might like to read about such types of play, so he's very careful to include chapters about each and consults outside sources, even as he admits that he doesn't participate in all of them.

    I will warn that some of Warren's descriptions are pretty graphic and may gross out the squeamish.  He also unashamedly uses four letter words, including the often offensive "p" and "c" words.  That aspect of the book didn't bother me, but I wanted to mention it for other potential readers.

    Safety first

    Safe, sane, and consensual are three very important catchwords in the BDSM community.  I am happy to report that John Warren also takes those terms very seriously.  Each chapter of this book emphasizes safety; in fact, Warren even includes a chapter on basic first aid.

    Warren recognizes that those who get involved with BDSM might feel embarrassed about their interests.  In the unlikely case of a medical emergency, Warren is careful to point out that medical people, especially EMTs, have "seen it all".  He urges his readers not to let their embarrassment about being kinky override their good sense.  He also adds a couple of practical tips on how to minimize embarrassment when dealing with medical personnel, should the need arise to call them.


    I think The Loving Dominant is an excellent book for BDSM beginners.  It is mostly aimed at people of the Dominant persuasion, but more submissive minded readers will also find it worthwhile reading.  Warren is a pretty decent writer and, while I didn't always agree with everything he wrote, I did find most of his ideas sensible and even exciting.  While I did catch a few typos, redundancies, and editing glitches in this book, I would still recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the basics of BDSM.

    John and Libby Warren's Web site: