Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The dream season...

Lately, I've been watching old episodes of the classic 80s nighttime soap, Dallas.  A few years ago, I did the same thing.  Maybe it's a bad omen, since I started watching when we were living in Germany the first time and had finished all of the seasons after we moved to Georgia.  Right now, I'm on season nine, which is the infamous "dream season".

In season ten, we realize that everything that happened in season nine was all a dream...

I commented yesterday that I wished what's been happening in our government was all a nightmare.  I'd like to wake up from the bad dream that Donald Trump is inflicting on the United States.  Maybe that's hyperbole right now, but I am honestly shocked and dismayed by the news I've been reading.  I'm even sadder that people I love and usually respect are embracing Donald Trump's xenophobic policies and calling others who have a problem with them "whiney crybabies" or accusing them of posting "diatribes".

Unfortunately, what we are experiencing is no nightmare.  It's a real thing.  Every day, there is a new shock to the system.  Eventually, it will get to the point at which people no longer care.  And once we've reached that point, the powers will be will be able to do whatever they want.

Yesterday, I posted that Bill and I are going to France again... another trip to Ribeauville, so Bill's mom can see it.  We didn't get to do much when we went a couple of weeks ago and we know the guy who owns the apartment we rented is very dog friendly.  The price was also right.  I had wanted to go to a different city in France, but we decided this option would be the easiest since we'll have the dogs and Bill's mom.

I mentioned that I would probably be drowning my sorrows on Alsace's lovely wines, trying to forget about our new president.  One of my friends, an older man from Alabama who used to join us at karaoke and actually dated Bill's mom a couple of times, commented that he used to travel to try to forget Obama was our president.  But it never worked and Obama was still president.  I don't think Obama was perfect and I didn't agree with everything he said and did, but I honestly don't think he's in the same league with Trump.  I didn't wake up every morning feeling scared the way I do now.  

But then, maybe some people out in rural America woke up scared thanks to Obama.  I don't know...

Anyway...  I suppose it does no good to write more about this.  For now, I'm glad I have Dallas to use as an escape.  Too bad Trump isn't as smart or entertaining as J.R. Ewing.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Thin skinned "libtards"...

Pardon my use of the term "libtard".  It's not one I use regularly.  I was inspired to use it today because of an exchange I saw on Facebook yesterday.  A guy wrote this.

My response was that Donald Trump only cares about what makes his dick hard and his wallet fat.  Next thing I know, Mr. "soft ass" comes back and virtually yells at me for saying such a thing...  

Apparently, Donald Trump rocks because he has a "smokin' hot wife".

I thought it was kind of interesting that this fellow wants to yell at liberals, yet says there are too many "thin skinned, soft assed" people.  He accuses liberals of "spreading hate", yet Donald Trump has just tried to bar people from seven different Muslim countries (none of whom had citizens who were involved in 9/11, by the way) from entering the United States.  

I know people have their reasons for supporting Donald Trump.  I don't want to assume that all of his fans are like the gentleman in the exchange pictured above.  However, it's clear to me and many other people around the world that Trump is not interested in world peace.  It's actually very interesting to me to watch how people are reacting to Trump's policies.  It does my heart good to see people protesting and not just accepting what he's doing.  

I've said before that sometimes wonderful gifts come in strange packages.  Maybe that's ultimately what this disastrous presidential experience can do for us.  Maybe it will inspire sweeping policy changes for the positive.  Maybe it will jar people out of being complacent on Election Day.  I don't know.

If Trump runs for president again, I'm sure he'll still have his supporters, even if he completely fucks everything up.  However, he is apparently going down in history as being one of the least popular U.S. presidents.  I probably tend to swing fairly liberal, but I don't hate conservatives.  I do think Trump is terrible, though, and I don't see how we can afford to "give him a chance", especially since his first ten days in office have been so insane.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Ron Miscavige explains why Scientology is "Ruthless"...

It probably comes as no surprised to regular readers that I've been watching actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini's recent series about Scientology, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.  I am fascinated by so-called "fringe religions".  I also read Remini's book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, which was Remini's account of her experiences as a Scientologist.  I learned of Ron Miscavige's recent book, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me while watching Remini's series.  I decided to read the book because Ron Miscavige fathered Scientology's current leader, David Miscavige, yet he and his second wife, Becky, still had to "escape" from the organization in March 2012.
Ron Miscavige and his first wife, Loretta, joined Scientology in 1970.  Miscavige, a former Marine and professional musician, had grown up in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania.  Although he writes that he and Loretta had not been particularly suited for each other, they still managed to have four children.  The eldest was Ronnie, followed by twins Denise and David, and then the youngest child, Lori.  Miscavige and his family had joined Scientology at a time when its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was still alive and well.  Hubbard's philosophies seemed to make good sense to the couple and they enthusiastically became involved.

The Miscaviges bought into the religion so much that they moved to England twice during the 1970s to spread Scientology to Britons.  They did this, even though the British government was trying to keep Scientology out of England.  All of the children worked for the church, along with their parents.  

When David Miscavige was about sixteen, he decided he wanted to become a member of the Sea Org, which is supposedly Scientology's group of elite members. Because the Miscavige family was so gung ho about Scientology, they were fine with David moving away from the family to work full time for Scientology.  That was the beginning of the end of Ron Miscavige's relationship with his younger son.  David Miscavige did very well in his work and eventually ingratiated himself into L. Ron Hubbard's inner circle.  When Hubbard died in 1986, David Miscavige was there to take his place as head of the church.

A few years ago, Ron Miscavige was minding his own business as he took care of a routine errand.  He was wearing a t-shirt with a breast pocket, where he had stashed his cell phone.  As he bent over in his car, he reached up to prevent the phone from falling out of the pocket.  He didn't know that his son, David, had hired a private investigator to follow him.  When they saw him reach for his chest, they thought he was having a heart attack.  The investigator called David Miscavige, who told him that if Ron was having a heart attack, not to intervene.  According to Ron Miscavige, his son said, "If he dies, he dies."

Ron Miscavige became aware of his son's chilling comments when police officers informed him that they'd caught the investigator.  I suppose it was the great deterioration of the relationship between father and son that inspired Ron Miscavige to write his expose about Scientology and what a corrupt organization it is.

This was not the first book I've read by a former Scientologist.  Besides Remini's book, I also read Jenna Miscavige Hill's 2012 book, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape.  Jenna Miscavige Hill is David Miscavige's daughter and Ron's granddaughter.  Her account, like Remini's and Ron Miscavige's, lends credence to my impression that Scientology is a scary cult that exploits and enslaves people.

Those who read Ruthless will read about people who spend their  lives working for slave wages in the interest of spreading Scientology.  These people endure a prison like existence.  They do not have the freedom to leave the church.  They are told what to eat, where to live, what to wear, and what kind of work they will do.  They have their mail read and their phone calls monitored.  They live on guarded compounds.  When Ron's brother died, he was accompanied to the funeral by two "minders", who prevented him from speaking to his family.

Ron Miscavige writes that in many ways, being David's father made his life as a Scientologist more difficult.  Even though he enjoyed some "perks" like getting birthday presents from John Travolta and Tom Cruise, David Miscavige was determined to show everyone that his family did not get any special treatment.  Consequently, David would go out of his way to make his father's life harder.

I found many aspects of Ruthless fascinating.  It's amazing to me that in 21st century America, people are voluntarily signing up to be slaves to a religious organization.  However, even though some of this book fascinated, other parts of it annoyed me.  Toward the end of the book, I kept expecting it to end, only to be confronted with another chapter.  The book could have been whittled down a bit.  Also, although the book is co-written by Dan Koon, it could have used some polish.  It's not as well-written as it could be.  Miscavige seems more interested in writing about how hurt he was by his son. He doesn't explain why Scientology is a bad thing and, in fact, even implies that he still believes in some of what Scientology teaches.  So the book becomes more about a tragic father and son disconnect than an indictment on an organization that exploits and enslaves people.

Of all of the books I've read about Scientology, I was most impressed by Lawrence Wright's Going Clear.  I would recommend that book to anyone wanting to learn about Scientology.  Read Ron Miscavige's book for a story about how Scientology tore apart a family and how one man devoted most of his life to promoting a cult.  I think I'd give this book about three stars out of five.

Reposted review of Darrell Hammond's life story...

Here's another book review rescued from Internet obscurity...  Enjoy!

  • Darrell Hammond's tumultuous journey through life so far...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      January, 29 2012
  • Pros: Darrell Hammond's life story is very compelling.
    Cons: Painful to read at times.
    A few weeks ago, actor and comedian Darrell Hammond was on an episode of Dr. Phil, talking about his new book, God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem.  I usually scream at the TV when Dr. Phil is on, but I have to admit I enjoyed the episode starring Darrell Hammond, who is probably best known for being on Saturday Night Live for an amazing fourteen years, doing impressions of Bill Clinton and other political figures.  I quit watching SNL many years ago, so I didn't actually recognize Hammond on Dr. Phil's stage.  But when I saw him do a hilarious impression of Dr. Phil himself, I decided I wanted to buy his book.  Off I went to Amazon.com, where it was being offered in print and for the Kindle.

    Who is Darrell Hammond?

    Darrell Hammond is a comedian and actor.  He's also an addict.  The reason he was on Dr. Phil was because he's spent some time in rehab, recovering from his attempts to self-medicate the pain resulting from a very painful childhood.  Hammond reveals that his parents were very abusive.  Growing up in Melbourne, Florida, Darrell Hammond was the son of a World War II veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and an abusive mother who happened to be very good at mimickry.  Hammond reveals that he got his comedic gifts from his mother, the same woman who tortured him when he was coming of age.

    Such an upbringing does not come without a price.  Though he is a very successful comedian, Darrell used to drink constantly and abused cocaine and crack.  He was also a "cutter", slicing his skin to relieve his psychic pain.  In a laid back, personable writing style, Hammond reveals everything as if he's sitting next to you in your living room.  He writes about the good-- getting to work as a professional comedian with some of the biggest people in show business-- and the bad-- sinking to the depths of addiction and being arrested in the Bahamas.  Hammond also includes pictures and they show up very clearly on the Kindle.

    My thoughts

    It took me awhile to get through Hammond's book.  That's not because it wasn't a good read.  His story is a lot to digest.  Even though his parents were abusive people, I can tell he still loves them.  Toward the end of the book, he writes about visiting his dying father, who passed away in 2007 of cancer.  As his dad lie in bed, missing an ear that was removed in an attempt to stop the cancer, Hammond sat by his side, remembering the good times he had with him.  He has less to say about his mother, who died a couple of years ago.  And yet, even though she put him through hell, his tone is never bitter.  In fact, toward the end of the book, he offers some insight as to what people must do to get past anger.  And his solution has nothing to do with justice or payback and everything to do with letting go.

    I have noticed that a lot of really funny people usually have personal demons and trauma in their past.  Some of the most hilarious people suffer from depression or addictions or both.  Hammond is not bitter when he writes his story, because he's expressed that bitterness in different ways... by abusing himself.  And now he's written about those times in a very compelling memoir.

    If you've ever wondered what it's like to be on SNL, you might also want to read Hammond's book.  He reveals a lot about what it was like to be discovered and how it was working with Tina Fey!


    This is a good book for anyone struggling with addictions, either personally or through watching a loved one or a friend.  I give it five stars.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Crowdfunding fail...

I've mentioned before that I never go looking for information about my husband's ex wife.  However, I often find out about stupid shit she does because Bill sometimes looks her up to see what she's doing.  I have to admit he made me laugh yesterday when he told me that she tried to raise money through crowdfunding.

Ex has five kids and is currently claiming three of them are on the autism spectrum.  Her youngest kid is about ten years old.  She apparently wanted to raise money to buy him (and supposedly other kids with autism) an iPad.  Her goal was $1000.  So far, she has raised exactly $21.37.  Her campaign started well over a month ago.

Bill says he thinks she probably donated the money herself.  He has told me that she often has big ideas, but she never follows through with them.  I can see that this was yet another one of her big ideas gone bust.  Too bad, because if she was being legit, this would have been a worthy project.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Yet another crime blast from the past...

This morning, as I'm sitting here waiting for my sheets to dry, I had a sudden memory of a violent crime that occurred in early December 2004.  At that time, Bill and I were living on Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia.  It seemed like a very safe community-- the ultimate gated community, actually.

I remember there was a 7 Eleven store located just off post.  We passed it whenever we took the George Washington Parkway anywhere.  I don't think we ever stopped in that particular convenience store.  Actually, a lot of the businesses near Fort Belvoir were kind of shady.

Back in early December 2004, there was a Korean clerk working there named Sun Ku Kwan.  Mr. Kwan was a popular sight at the store; he'd worked there for 28 years and was saving up for his retirement, which he planned to take within the year.  The owner of the store said that he could always count on Kwan to work any shift he needed covered and that he preferred the night shifts.

Early in the morning on December 6, 2004, a camouflage clad fourteen year old boy-- someone who also lived at Fort Belvoir and was the stepson of a military police officer-- had come into the store and loitered for awhile.  He'd come armed with a backpack full of knives and fake grenades he had stolen from the Fort Belvoir commissary.  Finally, at about 5am, the boy demanded money from Kwan as he restocked the sandwich shelves.

The boy told Kwan that he had a hand grenade as he demanded money.  He then stabbed Kwan in the back, which left a five inch wound in the upper back that punctured the clerk's thorax.  Despite the wound, the clerk and a co-worker ran out of the store because they thought there would be an explosion.  The assailant then took off on foot.

Kwan was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, but he died shortly after arrival.  The boy, later identified as Rody J. Phillips, was spotted a couple of miles away from the 7 Eleven.  He was stopped, questioned, and later arrested for the killing.  Phillips evidently spent his time prior to the case locked up in an adult facility, although he was kept away from adult inmates.

In September 2006, Phillips pleaded guilty to first degree murder.  He was sentenced as an adult for the crime and Judge Marcus D. Williams imposed a fifteen year sentence for murder and a ten year sentence for attempted robbery, but Judge Williams suspended all of those years.  Instead, Phillips spent five years in a juvenile detention facility and was released at age 21.

Phillips apologized to Kwon's family before he was taken away, knowing that if he didn't make his time locked up work, the judge could impose all or some of the original sentence in an adult facility.  It was said that Phillips had been taking Effexor, an antidepressant, before he committed the murder, and voices in his head had told him to kill.  He'd been depressed in the weeks before the crime, having moved to Fort Belvoir from Texas, where he'd lived with his father and stepmother.

I remember very well when this crime happened.  Fort Belvoir, like many military communities, is somewhat tight knit.  I also remember staring at that 7 Eleven every time we passed it, thinking about the poor clerk who simply wanted to retire and enjoy the fruits of his hard work.  Sadly, he never got the opportunity.

I looked up Rody J. Phillips and, if I found the right guy, it looks like his life is on track again.  He's now a father.  I'm pretty sure that I found the right man because I noticed that he was a member of a public Facebook group that appeared to be for people who had done time in prison together.  I guess it makes sense that if you spend several formative years in a detention facility, your friends would be fellow criminals.  I also notice that he's a member of a group for motivation and inspiration.

It's a good thing that Phillips had the chance to straighten out.  Apparently, he had only turned fourteen two weeks before he committed the crime, which had some bearing as to why he didn't get a longer sentence.  Generally speaking, I'm in favor of letting people recover from their mistakes.  I'm hoping that Phillips really has fully rehabilitated and doesn't get in trouble with the law again.

For more on this case, click here, but be aware that the link is to a blog about crimes committed after people used SSRI antidepressants.


Sensory overload and exhaustion...

One would think someone like me would not have a problem with exhaustion.  I don't really do that much.  I will freely admit that I have a very low key lifestyle.  Yesterday's big activity was vacuuming, a chore I hate with a passion.  Since I hate vacuuming, I tend to be pretty slack about it.  I run the vacuum once a week, grabbing random cobwebs if I see them.  Before I picked up my fancy Dyson, I actually considered skipping vacuuming yesterday because it felt futile.  Although I always suck up a lot of dust and dog hair when I vacuum, the house usually doesn't look much better.  I think I hate vacuuming because it seems mostly pointless.

Here it is, though, a Friday, just one week after we got our new president.  I'm feeling exhausted by all of the news about Trump.  He's done so many negative things in one week that my head is spinning.  I feel tired and nauseous thinking about having to see his ugly face every day in the news.  I'm starting to feel depressed, not just because we have a major league asshole sitting in the White House who is alienating and offending people around the world, but also because the weather in Germany is dreary and cold.  It's been so cold this week that the dogs and I haven't been able to take our usual walks.  It is supposed to be sunny and warmer today.  I hope it is, because I'm tired of looking at dog pee stained snow and heavy clouds in the sky.

I worry about the future and what will happen in the wake of this horrible new leader we have.  Even though the United States supposedly has safeguards in place that make the president accountable to the people, I still worry about how Trump's policies are going to affect other people.  Will his stupid antics get us kicked out of Europe?  Make us targets for uncivilized behavior?

I remember when W was president, I'd always hear stories about Americans being treated badly in other countries.  I was in Germany when Bush was president and I don't remember anyone being mean to me, personally.  But other people had stories.  Of course, since I'm a typical monolingual American (well, not totally... I can speak a smattering of Armenian and Spanish and I'm slowly catching on to German), I wouldn't necessarily know what most people say about me in foreign languages.

I'm now reminded of an incident that happened the last time we were here.  Bill and I had gone to the commissary to pick up a few things.  I was waiting outside the restroom for him.  I happened to be standing near the produce section, where there was one other lady shopping.  She was morbidly obese.

A small group of Germans came into the commissary.  I think they might have been local polizei, who are allowed to shop there... I really don't know.  Anyway, they were being kind of rowdy and talking loudly.  I must have looked annoyed, although I wasn't really listening to them and wouldn't have understood them if I had been listening.

This older man comes up to me, smiling broadly.  He asked me if I was upset.  I said, "No, I'm just waiting for my husband."

He said, "Did you hear what those guys were saying?"

"No." I said.

"You look annoyed, so I thought maybe you heard what they were saying." he said, still on the verge of laughter.  "I understood what they were saying!" he added.

By that point, I probably had a major bitchface going on.  But I said, "No, I was just standing here minding my own business."

"Oh." he said, then awkwardly walked away.  I saw him a couple more times before we checked out and it was odd.

Of course, I don't know what the German men were saying, but my guess is that it was something disparaging about Americans or American women in particular.  Why that old guy felt the need to share that moment with me, I'll never understand.  Bill and I did our shopping and I was feeling really annoyed by the whole incident.

There have been other instances like that one, like the time I was in the computer lab at the library and said something to one of Bill's co-workers, who was getting ready to leave Germany.  I was happy, because we were finally getting out of the crummy hotel we'd been in for six weeks.  I mentioned that I was glad I was about to have a "broetchen free" morning.  Broetchen was what we ate for breakfast every day at the hotel, along with terrible coffee.

Some German woman sitting nearby made an obviously snarky comment in her native tongue.  I didn't understand what she said, but could tell she was making fun of me, a total stranger.  Her friend, also German, said "Good one!" in English.  My response was to pretend like they didn't exist.  Why she felt the need to chime in on a conversation not involving her was beyond me, especially since we didn't know each other.

I know it sounds shitty, but I'm actually ashamed to be an American right now.  I have never felt this way before.  I didn't feel this way when Bush was the president, but I do now.  Americans have voted in a completely inappropriate and unqualified leader.  I understand that a lot of people felt they had to-- they were struggling under Obama and felt Trump could help them.  But he won't help them.  After one week in office, I feel like I'm being punished.  It's depressing and gloomy and making me feel despondent and helpless.  It feels a bit like vacuuming the house... utterly pointless.  If that makes me a "special snowflake", so be it.

I've also found myself passively hoping that Donald Trump has a massive stroke or heart attack during one of his tantrums.  I know it's wrong to think like that, but seriously, I think I would probably smile if he simply dropped dead.  Of course, that would mean we'd have Pence as president, which I don't think will be much better.  But at least Pence is somewhat bland and actually has some relevant experience.  At this point, I might even embrace Mitt Romney.

Anyway... at least tomorrow is Saturday.  I will try to hang in there and not do anything drastic.  With any luck, the exhausting Trump antics will slow down a bit.  Or maybe I can just get off the Internet for awhile and remember that at least for now, I don't live in the United States.

This is my mood today.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lame apologies...

So...  a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Bill being a sneaky snake.  In that post, I wrote that on Christmas day, Bill was going to leave his daughter a Facebook message on his stepmother's page.  Ordinarily, this would not be anything newsworthy to the average person.  If Bill and his younger child had a relationship, he would feel quite free to write her a message on Facebook, right?  But Bill hasn't seen his daughter since 2004 and the last direct communication he got from her was a letter she sent disowning him back in 2006.  So leaving her a Facebook message was kind of a big deal.

Anyway... last night, Bill told me that his daughter actually responded to him.  I didn't see the exact message she wrote, but it basically boiled down to "Hello.  Sorry for what happened all those years ago."  I think there may have been more to the message, but that was the gist of it.

Edited to add...  Now I remember.  She actually wrote that she had meant to send Bill an invitation to her wedding, but didn't know how. Really?  She couldn't have asked Bill's dad for contact information?  Smells a little like bullshit to me, but whatever.  Now that I think about it, her older brother said something similar when Bill confronted him about changing his last name (again).  He said he wanted to tell Bill about it, but didn't know how to contact him.  But he was telling him that in an email...  Hello?  Obviously, he did know how to contact him.  He just didn't have enough respect or integrity to come clean.  Anyway, it's probably a blessing that younger ex daughter did not send Bill a wedding invite.  That would have been...  awkward.

Bill sent his daughter a private message letting her know that if she has questions, she is free to send him a message.  He said it didn't seem right to have a dialog with her on his stepmother's Facebook page.  So far, she hasn't responded.

Bill told me that he had a feeling the apology was her way of not looking like a jerk.  He doubts it's a sincere apology.  But then, how do you apologize for disowning your father?  He also thinks that she was probably expecting him to say "All is forgiven." the way his father and stepmother did.

I suppose it's a start that she wrote the word "Sorry." although it seems really lame to do it publicly on an unrelated Facebook thread about someone's dog dying.  She should have done it privately.  But maybe it's a sign that she has some empathy or maybe she's just bright enough to realize that if she's shitty to Bill on his stepmother's Facebook page, it could jeopardize her relationship with Bill's dad and stepmother.  I don't know.  She's 23, apparently very immature, and clearly sheltered.  I will concede that simply writing the word "Sorry." is a start, even if it's not sincere.

I guess I'm not surprised that she responded.  She probably has a lot of questions.  She struck me as very curious when I met her in 2003.  And while she may not have ulterior motives, she was raised by someone who has a constant agenda.  

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  They aren't through with Bill.  I am sure there will be more contact eventually.  I just don't know if it will be a good thing.  I plan to stay out of it as much as possible, though I will probably write about it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yet another creepy male politician wants to criminalize abortion...

I was reading Facebook's On This Day earlier this morning and I see that three years ago, I posted about Marlise Munoz, a pregnant brain dead woman in Texas who was being kept alive artificially for the sake of her fetus.  A Texas judge ordered hospital officials to take the woman off of the ventilator because that was what the family wanted.  In Texas, at least in 2014, it was illegal to withhold life-sustaining medical treatment from a pregnant patient.

For some reason, many Texans are extremely concerned about the status of women's wombs.  Texas Republicans are especially obsessed with abolishing abortion rights.  Three years after I posted about Marlise Munoz and the extreme measures her family had to go to in order to let her die, I read about Tony Tinderholt, yet another Texas Republican who is obsessed with controlling pregnant women.  Tinderholt has just introduced the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, a bill that would make abortion a criminal offense.

While it's not surprising to me that a Texas Republican would introduce anti-abortion legislation that is blatantly unconstitutional, what did surprise me was Tinderholt's rationale.  He says,

"Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.”

Let's think about this for a minute.  Since men can't get pregnant and women can, this basically means that only women are responsible for the repercussions of having sex that results in an unintended pregnancy.  Mr. Tinderholt would never have to worry about being prosecuted under this law, nor would any man in Texas, unless he was an abortion provider.  But lots of women-- including those who are impregnated due to rape or incest, or have a medical situation that warrants abortion-- would be subjected to this rule.  Tinderholt did not make any exceptions in his legislation because he doesn't think, "there should be any exceptions to murder, no matter what."

You know... I'm really glad I don't live in Texas now...  and I'm glad I'm getting to an age at which I no longer have to worry about getting pregnant.  I probably ought to quit reading the news, because every day, I see something like this that gets my blood boiling.  I am shocked by how many creepy politicians there are trying to pass laws like this one.  It doesn't even seem to occur to these womb obsessed men that pregnancy can be very difficult for women.  For some women, it can even be deadly.  Why are so many politicians so concerned about populating the earth with more babies?  Especially since we can't seem to give all of the people who are already born what they need to survive?

It really makes me feel sick to my stomach to see guys like Tinderholt in a position of making laws for everyone.  He seems to have a very patriarchal, condescending, sexist attitude toward women.  It's beyond offensive that he would suggest that criminalizing abortion would make women more responsible about sex.  Interesting that he would feel so strongly about responsibility, since it doesn't seem to extend to his marriages.  Tinderholt has been married five times to four different women.  

I have never met a woman who is so callous about abortion that she'd say something like, "Oh, yeah, we can have sex because if I get pregnant, I can just have an abortion."  Maybe there are women out there who are like that, but my guess is those women are pretty sociopathic.  The vast majority of women don't have such a careless attitude about the prospect of terminating a pregnancy.  Moreover, it REALLY is no one else's business!  

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, though... This isn't the first time Tony Tinderholt has done something ridiculous.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ghosts of writings past... and so-called fake news

For about eleven years, I wrote articles for a variety of online publishers.  I was like a lot of people, making a few extra bucks writing about what I know or about subjects that captured my interest.  I sold a number of articles and, for awhile, writing served as a steady source of pocket money.  Then all the content mills dried up.  Now I only write on my own blogs and make whatever Google pays me every few months after I earn over $100 in ad revenue.

Every once in awhile, I find old articles I've written on the Internet.  They are always credited to "contributor".  It's weird, too, because they always have a copyright sign next to them, even though I'm the one who wrote them.  Some of the articles that turn up include my own stories.  I'll give you an example of what I mean.

Many years ago, I remember reading an article about a celebrity who engaged in a practice commonly referred to as "chew and spit".  I want to say it was Glen Campbell, but I can't be certain, since I'm pretty sure I read the article in the 80s.  Anyway, I absolutely do remember that in the article, "chew and spit" was referred to as oral expulsion syndrome (OES).  Both terms refer to the practice of chewing up food and spitting it out rather than swallowing it.  

In the 80s, I was fascinated by the idea of chewing and spitting food.  In those days, I flirted a bit with eating disorders myself and was always looking for tricks to shed pounds while indulging.  Eventually, I mostly grew out of my obsession and completely forgot about OES.  Then, maybe six or seven years ago, I was a featured health and wellness writer on a Web site.  I had to write three articles a week and was trying to come up with an original topic.  That obscure memory of OES suddenly popped into my head.  I scoured the Internet for articles about it and came up with only a few very obscure references.  Jackpot!

So I started writing my article, aided by the fact that I'd recently read Dolly Parton's 1994 book My Life and Other Unfinished Business after a trip to a thrift shop.  That was during a time when Bill and I were broke and I was getting a lot of reading material at used book stores.  I'm sure at the time I read Dolly Parton's book, it was long off the best seller list and most people's radar.  But then, I was also writing book reviews on a site where I could even make money if I reviewed old books, as long as the review drew readers.

In her 1994 memoirs, Dolly had included a passage about dieting.  One of the techniques Dolly suggested was the practice of chewing and spitting, though she didn't refer to it as such.  So I wrote my very anecdotal piece and quoted direct passages from Dolly's book in which she recommended chewing and spitting.  I found information as to why this technique might be more harmful than she let on.  I added links from reputable health related Web sites.  Voila!  A new resource was born to be used and abused by the masses!

I'm pretty sure I sold that article to the publisher for a paltry sum.  Then, a few years later, the publisher went under.  But that article and others I've written are still out there, attributed to "contributor".  What's even funnier is that I've found that article referenced in other places, or hacked up by people who are claiming it as their own.  In fairness to the person whose article I just linked, I suppose it's possible she read Dolly Parton's book and decided to write about chewing and spitting, too.  It just seems eerily reminiscent of what I had written several years before.  Besides that, Dolly's book was twenty years old by the time this person wrote about OES.  

I guess it doesn't bother me to much to know that a lot of my work is out there and I'm no longer credited.  I think I'm more amused than anything else, especially since that article I wrote about OES was hatched from a very old memory and obscure details.  This is not to say that what I wrote wasn't factual.  I did do as much research as I could for the original article.  I would not have published it if all the information I had found were anecdotes or blog entries about chewing and spitting.  It's just that my article wasn't exactly peer reviewed or vetted by experts.  And now I see that information is being disseminated by others.  Maybe I'm partially to blame for "fake news".


Monday, January 23, 2017

Marching women with pussy hats...

A giant grassroots gathering!

In case you haven't heard, there was a massive worldwide women's march on Saturday.  I wasn't a part of the march because I preferred to hang out with Bill and go out for Mexican food.  The Mexican food we ate, by the way, was excellent.  It was definitely the best we've ever had in Germany.  I reviewed the restaurant and got lots of excited readers who will probably make the trip to Fellbach for their next Mexican fix.

A lot of my local friends went to Heidelberg to march for women's rights.  Some of my friends, not necessarily the ones in Germany, wore pink "pussy" hats on their heads.  They looked to me more like cat ears rather than vaginas.  Pussy is still a euphemism for cat, right?  But anyway, I guess the hats were interpreted as "va jay jay" hats by some people.  Some people said it was hard to take the women who wore them seriously.  

I read an interesting viral rant yesterday by a woman who feels that women from the United States (and perhaps other "first world" countries) ought to sit down and STFU.  The woman who wrote the rant feels that women shouldn't be marching for rights they already have, or they should be marching for people who have it "worse" than they do.

I think this may have been the original version of the rant, but I'm not sure...  I think the original writer's name is Brandi, but I've also seen it attributed to someone named Christy.  It resonated with a lot of women.

Now, far be it for me to tell the author of this rant that she has no right to express her opinions.  Like I said, I didn't march on Saturday.  I'm not one for crowds.  I prefer to make my voice heard through writing.  Many of my friends did march, and they all pretty much said it was a "beautiful experience".  A lot of my friends have posted pictures of themselves wearing their hats, carrying signs, smiling broadly, and looking like they feel good about what they did.  

One friend posted a hilarious and very creative poster made by her super bright eleven year old daughter.  She made a sign that read "Dump Trump".  It depicted him as a pile of shit with flies swarming around him.  The flies were all the people in Trump's cabinet.  I was so impressed with the girl's intelligence, remembering that when I was eleven, I didn't give a flying fuck about politics.  Even if I had, I don't think I would have come up with the concept my friend's daughter did...  and if I had, my very conservative dad would have probably strongly chastised me for expressing it.  My dad was big on "respect", even if it was forced respect.    

For the past few days, I've read a number of pleas from people, especially conservative folks, begging their friends to calm down, get over it, come together, and be unified.  Well, these women who wore their pink pussy hats and marched in cities around the world did come together.  They did something that made them feel heard and, from what I could tell, they were greatly energized and empowered by the experience.  It appeared to me that the women who chose to march drew a lot of positive energy from the event, which I think a lot of them really need right now.  I know I've been feeling rather hopeless and sad lately.  Maybe I should have marched, too, if only because the exercise would have done me a lot of good.

Moreover, while I get that many women from so-called developed countries have it pretty good, not all of them do.  The women who "don't have it so good" don't have a voice.  It's obvious to me that a lot of women around the world felt the need to make a statement.  And they did.  Maybe some people don't agree with or understand their statement, but it's a beautiful thing that they had the power to speak out to the world.  Women, even those from the United States, have not always enjoyed that kind of freedom to express themselves.  

Of course, the author of the above post is also free to express herself, at least for right now.  However, history has shown us that when it comes to people in power, if you give them an inch, a lot of times they'll take a mile.  A policy change here, a repealed law there, a new guideline here and pretty soon you'll find your world has changed, and maybe not in a way that is better for everyone.  The power to peacefully protest is very important and should be preserved for everyone.  

For the record, I would never call someone who didn't march a "disgrace to women".  I guess, to me, it just seems like the women who marched did something significant that matters to them.  They didn't harm anyone when they marched and they may have actually helped, if only to soothe those who feel disenfranchised, scared, and angry in the wake of Donald Trump's election, Brock Turner's shockingly light jail sentence, and conservatives' relentless attacks on women's rights to choose abortion.

One more thing.  No matter how many people tell me to "get over it", "put on my big girl panties", "deal with it", "stop whining", or whatever, I will probably NEVER respect Donald Trump as the U.S. president.  I think it's a disgrace that he was elected and, honestly, I think the people who are supporting him are delusional.  But those are just my opinions and I certainly wouldn't tell someone else how to vote.  I recognize that people have their reasons for feeling the way they do, even if I don't always understand or agree with their reasons.  Besides, I realize that there is a possibility that I'm wrong.  Maybe Trump will ultimately be good-- every cloud has its silver lining.  But based on his first actions as president, I really don't think so.  Sorry.

Anyway... I, for one, am happy so many women chose to march on Saturday.  I'm glad they wore their pussy hats.  I'm glad they had a good time and made positive memories.  I hope they can continue.  More importantly, I hope they maintain the freedom to continue if they choose.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

The very first gift I ever gave Bill...

Besides my friendship and undying affection, that is...

This topic comes up courtesy of Facebook's On This Day feature.  A few years ago, I randomly posted on Facebook about the very first gift I ever bought Bill.  Are you ready?

Yes, it's true.  I bought Bill a pair of black, Smith & Wesson handcuffs.  They were a very serious pair of handcuffs, too.  Professional grade.  He had told me he preferred black to silver because the black cuffs weren't shiny.  As a military man who was all about business, shiny cuffs were an affront to Bill's senses.  He preferred no nonsense black, which wouldn't give him away to the enemy.

So, off I went to eBay, where I found the cuffs being offered for sale at a reasonable price.  It happened to be 9/11/01 and I was still reeling from the wonderful Labor Day weekend we'd spent at Goshen Pass in Virginia.  I didn't know that Bill's life would be in danger that day, as he was at the Pentagon performing his duties as an Army officer.

It's been years since I last saw those cuffs, which I bought on a dare.  Bill says he brought them to Germany, but he never gets them out anymore.  Truth be told, I find them pretty uncomfortable and Bill is too kind-hearted to ask me to wear them.  Still, I know it was a rather unusual first gift.  I wasn't in the room with him when he got my present.  I had sent them from South Carolina to Virginia.  Later, I correctly guessed that when he opened the box, he got a massive hard on.  Not long after that, we were engaged.

Given the situation we were in at the time, I knew handcuffs would cheer him up a bit.  He was adjusting to life back on full time active duty and being divorced from his ex wife.  I was finishing up my last year of school.  I knew they would ring his chimes and I was right.

I enjoy making people's eyebrows raise with that story.  And no, I haven't told my mom yet, although she probably wouldn't be surprised.  She knows I get a charge out of shocking people.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why it bothers me that our new leader is a narcissist...


This morning, I read an epic rant by singer-songwriter Janis Ian.  I follow her on Facebook because she's funny, intelligent, and very talented.  Not only does she make lovely music, she also has things of substance to say-- or sing, as the case might be.  Anyway, Ms. Ian has been vocally expressing her discontent that our new President is Donald Trump.  And many people who follow her page have been chastising her for expressing her views.  They tell her to "get over it", "put on her big girl panties", and "suck it up".

As someone who has also been vocal about how much I dislike Donald Trump, I have also been on the receiving end of such comments from Facebook friends and followers.  And I feel pretty much the same way as Janis Ian does.  Don't like my posts?  Don't follow me.  It's as simple as that.  I'm an adult and I have the right to express myself as I see fit.  At least I still do for the time being.

I don't like Donald Trump.  It has little to do with the fact that he's supposedly a conservative.  I can empathize with conservative leanings.  Maybe I don't like a lot of the social policies championed by the GOP, but I can appreciate some of the fiscal ones.  Some, I say... not all.  I know there are decent people who are Republicans, people who are reasonable and have solid reasons for backing conservative policies.

Donald Trump, to me, is not someone that decent, God fearing, family loving, fiscally conservative people ought to be backing.  To me, it doesn't make any sense.  Here's a man dripping with riches, living in a fucking gold tower in New York City.  Yes, he's filthy rich, and Republicans like that.  But did he get that way by being fiscally conservative?  No.

These same people going around praising Jesus and talking about how abortion is morally wrong have just elected a man who's had three wives, one of whom has posed nude for all the world to see.  She is certainly pretty enough and makes for a nice ornament to hang off of her husband's arm.  He's old enough to be her father.  And while they were married, this man bragged about how he sexually assaults women because he's "a star".  Will Donald Trump still want Melania by his side if she gets fat or sick or somehow loses her looks?  I'd be very surprised if he did.

Does this man have the best interests of the American people at heart?  Maybe the men...

Now, in fairness, Trump's main opponent has her own baggage.  Hillary Clinton stood by a man who behaved disgracefully with a 21 year old White House intern.  She even blamed the 21 year old for messing around with a married man.  And that's definitely not cool.  But although I see Bill and Hillary Clinton as narcissistic people, I don't think they necessarily have full on narcissistic personality disorder.  There is a difference between having narcissistic tendencies and being a full blown narcissist.  

DSM-5 criteria for "garden variety" narcissistic personality disorder include these features:

Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerating your achievements and talents
Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
Requiring constant admiration
Having a sense of entitlement
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Taking advantage of others to get what you want
Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Being envious of others and believing others envy you
Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Many people think Donald Trump is more of a malignant narcissist than a "regular" narcissist.  Malignant narcissists are much worse because they completely lack empathy and act more like predators than simply people with thin skins and inflated egos.  Malignant narcissists are only interested in themselves.  They do not do anything for anyone that does not involve a payoff of some sort.  They fly into unreasonable rages and act impulsively, often in extreme ways that are very damaging to other people.    

Will we still have Medicare after Trump?

I've mentioned before about how, if I had kids, I couldn't see them sending a letter to Trump.  Would he even care about that?  Bother to respond?  Probably not.  What can little kids do for Trump, other than allow him to corrupt their impressionable minds?  Actually, if I had kids, I don't think I'd want them to write to Trump or be influenced by him.  I think he's dangerous.

People who have never been exposed to someone with NPD probably don't recognize the signs very acutely.  Narcissists are very good at saying and doing things that make them look innocuous, charming, even helpful...  But once you see past the mask of respectability, you quickly spot a monster with no ethics.  You develop what Dr. Phil calls a "psychological sunburn" toward narcissistic behavior.  You start to be able to spot narcissists at twenty paces.  

It boggles my mind that so many of my Christian friends are so excited about a Trump presidency.  I don't see how he aligns with them at all.  But then, we have seen other examples of people who seem to present themselves one way, then show everyone that they aren't really that way after all.  Josh Duggar comes to mind.  He's not the sweet, innocent, God fearing man he led people to believe he was.  I suppose we should be grateful that at least Donald Trump's narcissism is over the top obvious.  No one should be surprised when he does something completely crazy and extreme that puts people at risk.  He doesn't care about anyone who can't do anything for him.  At least, in that respect, he's blatantly honest.

I feel very fortunate that I married a man who doesn't have a narcissistic bone in his body.  Last night, Bill made biscuits and gravy for dinner.  I was drinking beer and commiserating with some friends about the inauguration.  Bill brought me my dinner at my computer, along with a little container of salt.  I mentioned on Facebook that my sweet husband had brought me dinner and had thought enough of me to include salt, thinking I might need it.  I actually already had some salt, thanks to a sample we got when we visited salt mines in Austria last year.  It wasn't lost on me, though, that my husband was thinking of me, not himself.

I wrote that Bill is the type of person I'd want to see in the White House.  Someone who takes necessary action and appreciates the role of a public servant, yet has enough consideration and empathy to think of other things people might need.  I have no desire to be the First Lady and I don't want to share my Bill...  ;-)  But I wish someone like him would run a successful campaign.  There is a place for narcissistic behavior in a leader.  There has to be, because people who aren't somewhat self-interested won't survive the election process.  But there should be even more room for people with heart and concern for other people.  Donald Trump doesn't have that, so that's why it bothers me that he's in charge.

But there's nothing I can do about it other than vent on my blog... so I'm going to close this post and get ready for our big plans to eat German style Mexican food tonight.

"Oh educated one..."

Someone called me that last night because I disagreed with his assertion that the United States has the best healthcare in the world.  He basically said that was why it costs so much... because it's so good!

I had to refute that logic because I know that the United States does NOT offer the best healthcare in the world.  Sure, it's very expensive healthcare, but that does not make it better than care one might get in, say, Sweden.  Several other people agreed with me.

The "oh educated one" comment came about because I told him that I have an advanced degree in public health and have "actually studied this shit".  And I have.  It's an interest of mine.  But you don't have to have a degree in public health to be able to find the data on healthcare standards.  All you really have to do is use Google.

We spend a huge amount of money on healthcare, but the healthcare we receive is not the best in the world.  Far from it.  In fact, if healthcare is so expensive that people can't access it, how can it be the best?  Medical tourism is a huge business thanks to our "great and expensive" healthcare system.

The guy continued to want to argue with me.  He probably thinks I'm uppity, as a lot of folks in the military community tend to do.  Many military men are especially peeved by being challenged by a woman. An educated woman scares and annoys the shit out of them.  My own dad, a military man himself, hated it when I would show him that I have a brain and didn't just accept what he said wholesale.  He claimed that made me "arrogant".  

I eventually told the guy that I really didn't care what he wanted to believe regarding U.S. healthcare.  If he wants to be ignorant, that's his affair.  I know better, though, because it's something I've spent significant time learning about in an accredited school of public health.  An American school, mind you... and even the people running the school admitted that the United States doesn't offer the best healthcare.  We've got a lot of work to do-- especially regarding infant mortality rates.

And then, unbelievably, the guy asked me what my husband thinks about my comments.  I told him that my husband is smart enough to know about what subjects he should or should not debate with me.  I don't try to tell him about life in the military or as a military contractor because that is not my area of expertise.  Likewise, he doesn't try to tell me about things I know more about than he does.  Then I told the guy that it was getting late and I was tired and going to bed.  And I wished him a good night.

I did get a chuckle out of the guy calling me "Oh educated one," though.  I had a feeling my comment about having formally studied public health would irritate him.  Hee hee hee...

And really, it's funny this was even being discussed, given the number of people in our community who get Tricare benefits and therefore pay very little for healthcare, and often receive it in antiquated settings at military treatment facilities.  The best indeed...  Ha ha hahahahahaha!  (and yes, I know the military has built a few new hospitals)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Annoying SongPop opponents...

I'm going to try really hard not to blog about a certain 45th U.S. president today.  He's already getting more coverage than he deserves and frankly, I'm tired of thinking about him.  So today, I want to write about SongPop.

If you're on Facebook, you may have played this game a time or two.  The object is very simple.  You and an opponent try to be the first to guess the name of a song or an artist.  I've been playing for about five years now, even though sometimes I get tired of it.  What can I say?  I love all kinds of music and sometimes I find old, obscure stuff on there I had long forgotten about.  SongPop can be fun and satisfying, too.  This is especially true if your opponent likes the same kind of music you do.

Every time you win a round, you get three coins.  If you lose, you get one coin.  Tying nets two coins.  Once you have enough coins, you can buy new playlists.  I have a wide range of playlists because when I started playing, there weren't that many to choose from and I had to buy lists from genres with which I am not that familiar.  As the game got more popular, more lists were available.  It's now possible for a player to have a bunch of lists from the same artist or genre.  Consequently, sometimes your opponent gets stuck on that one kind of music... and that usually means he or she is unbeatable in that little niche.

One guy I play with is obsessed with U2.  He must own all of U2's playlists.  And since he's so obsessed, it's hard to beat him on U2.  If he's not playing U2, he plays British TV themes.  Now, it's true that I did live in Britain for three years and we actually had British TV, but I am an American.  So although there are a few American themes thrown in there, it's hard for me to beat this guy on the British TV themes playlists.  Because I get to feeling bitchy, I hit back by making him play Willie Nelson or 70s Country songs.  I notice he's not up on James Taylor.  It's very satisfying to send him a JT playlist.

I played another guy for a couple of years who was obsessed with Techno and House Music.  I used to groan every time I saw a playlist featuring Trance music or Euro Dance music.  I usually guessed my way through them or just randomly picked things to get through the match.  I was glad when he finally quit playing with me.  It took years, though.

Then there are the people who want to play me who are obviously a lot younger than I am and listen to shit I've never heard.  Like, for instance, the teenagers who listen to Justin Bieber or One Direction.  I have to guess a lot with them, too.  I am sure they are equally annoyed when I make them play Forgotten 80s.  And yet they keep challenging me and because I have a somewhat competitive spirit, I keep accepting their challenges.

Because I live in Germany, sometimes I get matched with people who don't speak English and want to cuss me out in German for making them play Johnny Cash or National Anthems (which I generally suck on pretty hard).  This actually happened to me not too long ago.  Some German guy sent me an irate private message because I sent him a Johnny Cash playlist.  I wrote back in my terrible German that I didn't understand.  ;-)

Then there are the people who are obsessed and keep hitting you with challenges over and over again, like they have no life or shitty TV shows to watch.  I actually took SongPop off my iPad for awhile due to a couple of people like that.  I added it back when I started watching 80s TV on Apple TV.  Of course, it's hard to do well on SongPop when you're distracted by JR Ewing.  Not only is he distracting, but I can't hear the damn songs over the treacly Dallas soundtrack.

Yes, I know... I need to get a life.

I have a love/hate relationship with this game...

I wish more people would play Words With Friends with me.  Better yet, I wonder how it is that I ended up in this place.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'll come back when all is right with your mind...

Today's post is especially non-sensical.  You probably shouldn't bother with it.

I suppose there is a part of me that is a bit of an attention whore.  I have always been one to blurt out things that other people find shocking or disturbing.  My mom used to get very annoyed with me when I'd do that.  She'd yell at me about "always wanting to put on a show."  I'm not sure why she was surprised that I'd have that proclivity.

Both of my parents were/are musical people.  My dad was a singer who used to perform in a lot of choirs and other groups.  My mom was a church organist for decades.  My sisters and I all inherited artistic and performance talents.  One sister is a dancer.  One is an artist.  One probably could be a stand up comic if she put her mind to it.  She also has a good singing voice.  I myself like to write and sing.  Three out of the four of us sisters are quick witted types who are fast with a quip.  Hang around our extended family and you'll quickly find that a lot of us are artists, comics, and performers on some level.  A lot of my relatives are flat out hilarious.  Many of us like attention.

One other thing that was passed down to me, and a number of my relatives, is the tendency to get depressed.  It's not often talked about in my family, but I know that major depression is a family trait.  I have suffered from it.  I know at least one of my sisters has suffered.  My father and at least one uncle have experienced clinical depression.  I can't really speak to their experiences.  For me, it's like I usually have a low level of dysthymia coupled with anxiety, but there have been times when it's gotten much worse and I've actually been technically suicidal.  Luckily, I did not ever end up in a hospital.

"Shall I come back when all is well with your mind?"  Seriously... this is what I was thinking of when I started writing today's post.

Lately, I've been feeling very anxious about a lot of things, although depression hasn't really reared its head in a significant way for some time.  For some strange reason, last night I posted "I think I'd be okay with being hit by a truck..."

Granted, I'd had some wine.  I do occasionally say things that are shocking and disturbing, often when I'm completely sober.  I still don't know where I got the urge to post such a thing.  I got a few funny comments from people, a couple of whom made me feel nice by saying they'd miss me if I were gone.  I hope none of them took me seriously.  I did hasten to add that I'm not actually looking to get hit by a truck.  I think that thought came out due to my feeling a bit out of sorts lately.  I have this feeling like I would like to be comatose or something, at least until it's not so cold outside.  I would probably feel better if I had something to focus on other than the weather, my dogs, 80s era film and TV shows, and politics.  I blurted out something non-sensical for the hell of it.

Since Bill actually has been run over by a car, he was quick to tell me that he doesn't recommend the experience.  I've probably written about this before, but I can't find a link to my version of the story.  This is a link to Bill's own account, which is probably better than anything I could write on the subject.  Although Bill doesn't recommend being hit or run over by a truck, he did tell me that he's glad he had the experience.  He has always described it to me as a "near death experience".  I don't know if that was what it actually was; neither does he.  But I do think it's made him kind of special in a way.  That experience has made him a very unique person with a perspective most people will never have.  Still, according to Bill, it hurts like a motherfucker to be run over by a car.  It's not a fun experience and he doesn't think I should seek it.

Sometimes I have really goofy thoughts.  Earlier yesterday, I posted that Howard Keel, the late Broadway actor and singer, creeps me out.  I have been watching him play Clayton Farlow on Dallas.  For some reason, every time I watch him, I think of him peeing on a big rock.  I think it's because he was really tall and I think of the impact of urine hitting a surface from such a height.  Why I decided to post that on Facebook, I don't know.  However, it did spawn a rather funny exchange with the few friends who know who Howard Keel was.

One day, this handsome, strapping fellow would be on Dallas... and I would be imagining him peeing on a rock.  I imagine it sounding like a horse taking a whiz...

Speaking of Dallas, I watched the entire series a few years ago... Ironically, I did so, in part, when we were living in Germany the first time.  I noticed that sometimes, the show paralleled life many years later.  For instance, I happened to be watching a later season of Dallas in 2010, right around the time there was an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.  A story line on Dallas was also about an oil spill affecting Ewing Oil, no doubt inspired by the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.  There we were, over twenty years later, dealing with the same issue when BP caused an oil spill in 2010.

Just the other night, I was watching an episode from season six and the character, Donna Culver Krebs, says that Jimmy Carter became President of the United States knowing about nothing but peanut farming.  President Carter went on to serve just one term and a lot of people were down on him when he left office.  More people like him nowadays, since he became a peace ambassador.  Similarly, we have Donald Trump rising to the power of president and he hasn't any experience with the job.  Unfortunately, I have my doubts that Trump will be remembered as fondly.  He's not quite the same animal Jimmy Carter is.  But still, I got a little shiver when I heard Donna Culver Krebs mention Jimmy Carter being an unlikely president.  Life imitating art, again!  But again, probably a goofy thought that I don't necessarily need to share.

We'll see what weird shit I think of today.  Maybe I'll write about it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Woman bares her breasts at Trump effigy in Madrid...

I like to read articles on The Local, which is an English news magazine for English speakers in Europe.  They have different editions for each country.  Yesterday, I happened to catch the one for Spain.  That's where I found out about the woman in the video below...

I don't know how long this video will stay up.  When I found it, I was only the second one to view it...  Her breasts are naked, so this may not be safe for work (depending on where you work).

From what I gather, this effigy of Donald Trump was just unveiled in Madrid at the Madrid Wax Museum.  As it was unleashed upon the public, a plucky young woman with no top on and the words "Grab back" scrawled on her front and "Grab patriarchy by the balls" on her back.  She paraded around in front of the statue as she yelled "Grab patriarchy by the balls".  Several men tried to cover her, but she was a scrapper and ducked out of their grasp as she continued shouting.  

The woman is a member of the "sextremist" protest group Femen.  Femen's habit is to protest topless, often with flowers in their hair and slogans painted on their bodies.  While I don't necessarily consider myself a feminist (or a slave to men, as the Femen members believe), I do think this group is interesting.  It looks like it may have gotten its start in Ukraine, but it's an international organization where women use their "bodies as weapons".   That means they attack naked or bare breasted and rely on shocking people with their messages.

I had to admire the woman's spirit as she chanted and eluded the men trying to cover her exposed breasts.  The men, to their credit, were admittedly rather gentle with her.  I can only imagine that had such a thing happened in the United States, she would have been Tasered.  Or maybe she would have simply been thrown to the ground by a group of law enforcement officers.  I feel pretty sure she probably would have been handcuffed and charged with public indecency.  She may have been charged with something in Madrid, but it looked to me like they simply wanted her to cover her boobs and GTFO.

I now have a strong urge to go to Spain for a visit.  Not that I really needed a reason to go there, you understand... just that this kind of warms my heart.    


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Believe me, I'm not laughing.

My cousin shared this the other day.

Many of my relatives are ardent Trump supporters.  The other day, one of them shared this snarky video showing a lot of people predicting that Donald Trump would lose the election.  Her comment was, "Who's laughing now?"

Let me go on record as saying I am definitely NOT laughing.  I know a lot of people think Donald Trump is actually going to "make America great again."  And who knows?  Maybe he will pull it off. For the good of the country, I hope he does show us a side that we haven't seen.  I hope he does become a president to be proud of, someone who will effect major positive changes for American citizens.  Unfortunately, I have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that Donald Trump even takes being president seriously.  In fact, I have my doubts that he even wanted to win the election.  

While I'm probably not as worried about the future as a lot of my liberal swinging friends are, I don't think Donald Trump is remotely qualified to be president.  I don't understand why Trump supporters aren't more concerned about the fact that he doesn't have any experience at all in government service. They say they like him because he's a businessman and not a career politician.  But would you hire a businessman to take out your appendix?  Would you hire a businessman to unclog your pipes or install your toilet?  Would you hire a businessman to fix your car?  Hell, would you hire someone with no relevant experience to manage a McDonald's?  I sure wouldn't.  It makes no sense that Trump got as far as he did in the first place, although I probably would prefer him to a religious nutjob.

I know it's going to take a lot to fuck up the world.  It's survived poisonous leaders in the past.  And I'm sure that most of us will survive Trump in the White House.  For me, personally, the sky isn't falling.  For other people?  Who knows?

The other day, I shared an article about a woman in Kentucky who voted for Donald Trump.  She didn't realize that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) could be repealed.  She and her husband only recently got health insurance thanks to that law and her husband needs a liver transplant.  They could lose their health insurance if the Republicans get what a lot of them want.  The Republicans are hard at work trying to dismantle the ACA, which I know is an controversial and flawed law.  Many people don't like the ACA, even though quite a few Americans have finally been able to get health insurance.  I don't think it's a bad idea to try to fix the law and/or refine it so that it works better for everyone.  But getting rid of the whole thing, particularly if there is no firm alternative prepared, is a horrible idea for many people.  That is a plan that is going to cost lives.

Aside from the fact that Donald Trump is extraordinarily narcissistic and lacks empathy for other people, he's also just plain disgusting.  I don't understand how my very Christian and moralizing family members can get behind a man who clearly has no respect for women and brags about grabbing them by the pussy.  I can't comprehend how they can be excited about Melania Trump as our first lady, a woman who posed nude in many magazines during her modeling days.  This is not to say that I think being nude is anything to be ashamed of.  It's more to point out that the Trumps don't exactly line up with my relatives' sanctimonious Bible thumping bullshit.  How can they be excited about a man in the White House who has been accused of hiring Russian prostitutes to pee on him?  Even if the Russian prostitute scandal turns out to be untrue, it surprises me that they'd want to support anyone who was even accused of such a thing.  These are the same people who were outraged when Michelle Obama sported bare arms.

I totally understand that a lot of people didn't want Hillary Clinton as president.  I didn't want her in the White House, either.  I think she would have been a much better choice than Trump, though.  At the very least, she knows how to hide her narcissism and she has relevant experience.  

I totally understand that a lot of people in the United States wanted a change.  Historically, every eight years or so, the American people vote in the other party.  It was time for a Republican president to be elected, at least historically speaking.

What I don't understand is why we had such hideous choices for president on either side of the political spectrum.  Why did we (realistically) only have Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to choose from?  Aren't there other people in our country who are qualified to lead?  I really think it all comes down to who has the most money.  Regular people who aren't wealthy could probably never hope to win the White House.  That's a shame.  It's regular people who are in touch with what other regular people are facing day to day.  People like Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump can't really represent most Americans because they aren't regular Americans.  But given a choice, I think Mrs. Clinton has more of a clue than Mr. Trump does.  And I think that after he's inaugurated, a lot of the people who are asking "Who's laughing now?" will be crying along with those of us who already see potential disaster looming.