Saturday, September 30, 2017

More on the school library debacle... and Donald Trump is a cretin...

Heavens to Betsy!  It seems that a lot of people are raining down shame on Liz Phipps Soleiro for publicly rejecting Melania Trump's gift of ten books by Dr. Seuss.  I suppose it makes sense that so many people want to condemn the librarian.  On the other hand, it seems like many folks in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Cambridgeport Elementary School is located, fully support the librarian's comments.  It seems to me that if most of the people in the local community support the librarian's decision, that's all that really matters.  After all, it's the kids in that community who would be directly affected.

I stand by my own opinion that it was tone deaf for Mrs. Trump to donate Dr. Seuss books to a very wealthy school district.  As wonderful as Dr. Seuss books are for kids, it's likely that such a well-funded school system already has more than one set of the books already.  There are plenty of other schools in the country that really could use those books and would appreciate having them.  Cambridge, Massachusetts is where Harvard University is, for God's sake.  I have never actually been to Cambridge, but I have been to a lot of college towns.  I know that they usually tend to be chock full of intellectual people who have equally intellectual kids.  Some of those kids probably mastered Seuss before they were out of diapers.

Granted, Ms. Phipps Soleiro could have been even more gracious in her rejection of the books.  Some people have said she could have quietly regifted them or used them for a service project of some sort.  That would have spared the librarian and Mrs. Trump (and the rest of America) this few minutes of shame fame.  On the other hand, I hesitate to say it's wrong for someone to raise controversy.  Controversies get people talking and changing their ways of thinking.  I also think a lot of the vitriol toward the librarian comes from the fact that Dr. Seuss is such a beloved and iconic part of so many Americans' childhoods.  So many of us grew up on Seuss.  How in the world could anyone criticize his genius?

Well, it seems that everything is open to criticism.  Have a look at this comment section from just *one* article about this mess...

Notice how quickly the comments turn personal and nasty...  Really?  Hoping a stranger on the Internet with whom you disagree is not a mother?  

Sometimes I read comments sections on these types of articles and have to fight the urge to leave a response.  It still amazes me that so many people love Donald Trump and think he's doing good things.  I am especially appalled by women who admire him.  They apparently can't see that he's a complete sod.

Yesterday, I shared an article on my Facebook page for this blog.  It was about Donald Trump in the years before he was leading our country.  Back in those days, he was a regular guest on Howard Stern's radio show.  During those shows, Trump regularly made disgusting comments about several women, notably the late Princess Diana.  He called her "crazy" and said he would send her to the doctor for an HIV test before he'd have sex with her.  And he assumed he could have sex with Diana... and that she'd willingly consent to bumping uglies with him.  According to British broadcaster Selina Scott, Trump pursued Princess Diana very aggressively and believed he had a "shot" with her.

This is a fairly benign comment, although it's rather egotistical for Trump to believe Diana would want to have anything to do with him.  

Given Trump's egregiously sexist comments about women-- including his wives and his elder daughter, Ivanka-- I can't believe he's in the White House.  I truly believe he is fucking things up and too many people in the United States simply don't care.  And given that Trump says these things, I can understand why people have a soft spot for Melania.  Frankly, I think she must endure Hell on Earth living with him.  And yet she chooses to stay with him.  

Truth be told, I have no way of knowing the condition of 45's current marriage.  It isn't my business anyway and I have enough problems of my own.  However, it IS my business that 45 is in office, fucking things up and embarrassing and humiliating Americans.  And again, the article I linked above has a comment section full of people being apologists for Trump's filth.  And also, perfect strangers turning ugly and making very personal, cruel, and hateful comments toward other commenters with whom they disagree.  It's very sad to see.

I really hope the people who write these comments aren't truly this nasty when they aren't online.  Otherwise, God help us all.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Melania's books and media spin... or... always click the links!

Yesterday, I read an article about a school librarian's decision to reject Melania Trump's gift of books by Dr. Seuss.  The article I read, written by Mike LaCrosse of WBZ TV, seemed to imply that the librarian had haughtily turned her nose up at Mrs. Trump's gift.  When I shared the article among Facebook friends, most of them had the same initial impression I had.

Then a friend of mine from college, herself a school librarian, was the voice of reason among us.  She wrote that she supported Cambridge, Massachusetts school librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro's opinions about the donated volumes.  My friend likened the gift to sending iPads to people in Puerto Rico right now.  If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, most of Puerto Rico is currently without power and is dealing with dwindling food and water supplies.  iPads are nice gifts, but they are not what Puerto Rico needs at the moment.  As my college friend pointed out, Dr. Seuss books are not what Liz Phipps Soeiro's students need, either.  And Liz Phipps Soeiro had pointed out the reasons for that in a very eloquently written and basically respectful editorial.

I think it's pretty much human nature to skim things.  After awhile, it became clear that a lot of my friends didn't bother to read the librarian's editorial.  I added a link to the editorial in my post.  A couple of people read it and, like me, had a change of heart.  Others continued to base their opinions solely on Mike LaCrosse's article.  To his credit, LaCrosse does link to the librarian's editorial.  However, as I have noticed in my own blogging, most people don't bother to click links in articles; therefore, they often miss the chance to enhance their viewpoint.

I often add links to my blog posts.  I find that they provide an efficient way to back up some of my opinions, add more information, or broaden perspectives.  I notice that it's rare for readers to actually click the links.  Those who click links mostly don't bother to read much, if at all, beyond titles or headlines.  I understand why people do this.  I'm guilty of it myself.  We want to get information as quickly as possible.  Reading takes time and effort.  Yet if I had just clicked LaCrosse's link to the librarian's editorial when I first shared his article, it would have changed my opinion from the get go.  If it weren't for my college friend, the school librarian, I might still think the school librarian was being a tactless snob by rejecting Mrs. Trump's gift.

My first reaction to reading this story was that there are many schools in the United States-- hell, in Massachusetts, that would love to have those books.  I thought of my days teaching English in Armenia and how valuable books in English were back then (and probably still are today). Dr. Seuss has been around for decades; I remember reading his books when I was a little girl.  I know they are great for teaching kids how to read.  It turns out that the librarian agrees with me, to a point.

Liz Phipps Soeiro's school is made up from kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds.  The school is blessed with a master's level librarian and over 9,000 books in its collection.  Education is highly prized in her community; the school district spends $20,000 annually to educate each student.  And while the school is excellent and that was why Mrs. Trump evidently awarded the books to it, the fact remains that it simply has no need for books by Dr. Seuss.  A well-stocked school library is likely to already have an entire Seuss collection.  Soeiro correctly points out that there are, indeed, other schools who could make better use of them.  She also writes that Dr. Seuss is a bit "old hat" now and that Mrs. Trump should familiarize herself with other titles.  As a fellow book lover, I can't help but agree with Ms. Phipps Soeiro.

If you don't want to read the whole editorial, at least read the last paragraph.  The librarian did not "dis" Melania Trump. 

Still, I suppose it's only natural that most people won't bother to read the librarian's words.  Instead, they want to put a political spin on things.  A couple of people commented that this was solely about people hating on Melania Trump and they feel sorry for her.  I can see why people would assume that.  I know some people pity Mrs. Trump because they think her husband is an asshole and assume she "didn't sign up to be First Lady."

Well, here's my opinion on Melania and her so-called "woes".  First off, while I don't like to see anyone being mistreated by his or her spouse, I do think that if anyone has options, it's someone like Melania Trump.  If she is truly unhappy with the role of Mrs. Trump, First Lady of the United States, she can certainly take steps to end her unhappiness.  There's always divorce.  It's not like Donald Trump hasn't been divorced.  Moreover, Mrs. Trump would have more than enough resources available to her post divorce.  It seems to me that if she really didn't want to be First Lady and Mr. Trump was unwilling to take his wife's wishes into account, she'd be well within her rights to strike out on her own.

On the other hand, if she does actually want to be Donald Trump's wife and is serious about being First Lady, she really needs to step up to the plate.  Part of stepping up to the plate is actively engaging in the job of First Lady and doing some research before she gives a wealthy school district a bunch of books by Dr. Seuss.  With a little foresight, Mrs. Trump could have either given the school a more appropriate gift or given those books to a school that actually needs them.

I looked at Ms. Phipps Soeiro's list of ten books and they are very thoughtfully chosen.  Not only that, but they give other authors a chance to be recognized.  Most everyone in the United States has heard of Dr. Seuss, but there are so many other authors out there whose books should be read.  Mrs. Trump could do a lot to help those authors and the many kids who can relate to their works.  It would be a great way to improve her image and build good will, but it would also be a solid service to children in the United States and children's authors.

I have read much about Mrs. Trump's supposed intelligence.  It's been said that she's very bright.  And yet she basically ripped off one of her first speeches from Michelle Obama.  It took her many months to actually do anything as First Lady and, at least to me, it looks like she's going through the motions because it's expected of her.  Furthermore, though she supposedly speaks many foreign languages, there's little actual proof that she's fluent in more than Slovenian and English (and her English is kind of iffy).  Speaking English and Slovenian is already impressive, but we've already discovered that Mrs. Trump doesn't hesitate to gild the lily when it suits her purposes.  I'll believe she's fluent in five languages when she proves it.

I have linked to this video before and am linking again, because I think it's worth watching.  Click the link!

Even before she married the Donald, Melania Trump embarked on a career that put her in the limelight.  She was in the public eye as a fashion model for years before she became Mrs. Trump.  I would hope someone with her experience would be a little more cognizant about how she appears to the masses.  And, again, while I empathize with Melania Trump as a fellow human being who doesn't like to see other people being abused, I also think Melania Trump can do something if she's truly unhappy in her role as the First Lady or with her life in general (and honestly, I have no idea if Melania is happy-- it's not really my business, anyway).  Unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury.

"Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink..." yet another book review...

When I used to write book reviews on, I often tried to come up with clever titles.  I don't tend to use clever titles for the book reviews I post on this blog.  I'm not sure why I don't.  Maybe it's because the book reviews aren't the only thing I write about and some people seem to read this blog only for book reviews.

Today, I'm reviewing Jennie Garth's 2014 book Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde.  I'm pretty sure I decided to read this after seeing it mentioned by my Facebook friend, Garrett, whom I have also met in person a couple of times.  Garrett used to work for Epinions and would come to their fabulous (and much missed) meet n' greets.  He's a big fan of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Michael Jackson, as well as other 80s and 90s era staples of pop culture.

Jennie Garth on a TV show called Brand New Life, pre 90210...  I can see why this pilot didn't take off.

I was not really a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210, although it was a huge hit TV show when I was about to graduate high school.  I didn't know it was on the air until I was in college, and in those days, I didn't always have access to a TV.  The one I did have was a crappy black and white model that was left behind by one of my roommates.  A lot of my friends watched 90210, of course, and you couldn't be a teenager or young adult and not know who Jennie Garth was.  She and her castmates were hugely popular.  As I got older, I did watch Beverly Hills, 90210 a bit, although I was much more partial to Melrose Place, a very successful spinoff.  Jennie Garth helped bridge the two shows when her character, Kelly Taylor, started dating young adult studmuffin Jake Hansen (Grant Show) on Melrose Place.

I guess I decided to read Jennie's book because I just finished reading Maurice White's book.  The late Maurice White, of Earth, Wind & Fire, is kind of one of my heroes.  I probably wanted something lighter and Jennie Garth's book seemed like it would fit the bill nicely.  For the most part, it did exactly what I thought it would do.  Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde was a relatively quick and easy read.  It also gave me a glimpse at Jennie Garth, who always seemed very glamorous to me.  She and I are only a couple of months apart in age, too.  After reading her book, in some ways, I think we are kind of worlds apart.

Jennie Garth is the result of two parents who had previously been married to other people.  Her mother had three kids from her first marriage.  Her father also had three kids from his first marriage.  Evidently, Jennie's parents each had custody of their kids and they all lived together Brady Bunch like on a farm in Illinois.  Jennie is the one child her parents had together.

Jennie explains that she is much younger than her siblings and was sort of treated like a princess when she was a kid.  She was a total "Daddy's girl" and she loved living on their rural farm in the Midwest.  But then, as Jennie grew older, things began to change.  Her siblings came of age and launched their own lives.  Her father had heart problems, which made it impossible for him to continue his agricultural occupation.  When she was in the throes of adolescence, her parents uprooted her and a couple of her siblings and they moved to Glendale, Arizona.  Supposedly, the dry heat was "healthier" for Jennie's dad.

Garth, whose book was co-written by ghost writer Emily Heckman, explains that she didn't like Arizona and never felt like she was able to fit in there.  Nevertheless, it was the move to Arizona that helped launch her into show business.  Her mother got her involved in a local beauty pageant, which she won.  The pageant helped propel her into modeling and, eventually, she met an agent who saw her on the pageant stage.  When she was sixteen years old, she told her parents she wanted to move to California and try to land acting jobs.  Her mother agreed to let her try for a year.  They moved to California, while Jennie's dad stayed in Arizona.

Jennie Garth found herself welcome in California.  She quickly got her high school equivalency certificate and started taking acting lessons, waiting tables, and attending auditions.  She landed her first bit part on Growing Pains, of all things.  Before long, she found herself meeting the late Aaron Spelling, legendary television producer.  Next thing you know, she's Kelly Taylor on a very successful television series.

Many fans will want to read this book because they hope for anecdotes about Beverly Hills, 90210.  Well, I'm here to tell you that Jennie doesn't dish that much about the show.  This book is mainly about Jennie Garth herself.  She repeatedly explains that she has a terrible memory.  She says it's because she blocks out painful memories from the past.  Interesting that this would come up.  Yesterday, I wrote about "abandonment issues".  Well, it seems Jennie Garth has a few and freely admits to it.  She doesn't have a long memory, although she says she's not a "ditz", as natural blondes are reputed to be.  When she was a teenager, she even had a technique she referred to as "going to Switzerland", which basically meant she'd zone out when people were talking to her.  She called that "going to Switzerland", even though she admits she's never actually been to Switzerland herself.  As a fellow natural blonde who also isn't a ditz and has been to Switzerland, I find it hard to believe Jennie hasn't traveled there.

Although Beverly Hills, 90120 was on the air for ten years and that time period makes up a significant portion of Garth's 45 years on the planet, she keeps her remarks about the show relatively brief.  She doesn't have much to say about most of her other acting projects, either, like What I Like About You, a sitcom she did in the early 00s, or her television movies.  I remember one she produced and starred in, a 1994 made for TV flick called Without Consent.  I was particularly interested in that movie (and it's on YouTube if you're curious) because it was about an abusive "teen help" program.  "Teen help" programs were all the rage in the late 80s and early 90s.  Sadly, she doesn't mention it.  She does write a bit about her successful turn on Dancing With The Stars, though.

Garth has been married three times.  When this book was published, she was somewhat newly divorced from her second ex husband, Peter Facinelli.  I got the sense that she was absolutely gutted by their split.  I wouldn't necessarily blame her for that.  She had three daughters with Facinelli and was married to him for a pretty long time, especially by Hollywood standards.  Evidently, after their breakup, Garth had a hard time pulling herself together.  Fortunately, she was surrounded by a lot of help.  For that reason, I have a feeling some readers will find her kind of entitled.  The next bit will probably make even more readers think she's entitled.

Toward the end of the book, Garth writes about her dog, Pearl.  In 2014, Pearl was still very young and couldn't be left alone in the house.  Garth explains that because of Pearl's "issues", she had her designated an emotional service dog, complete with a special vest.  And it's not because Pearl has any special skills, but because Pearl has emotional issues and can't be left home alone.  While I guess having Pearl designated a service dog solved Garth's issues, it doesn't do much for legitimate service animals who are actually trained.

You might be wondering about the title of this particular review.  Well, it was inspired by a quote from Jennie's book.  Also toward the end of the book, she writes about how she got her act together after her second divorce.  Garth explains that her daughter gave her a book full of funny sayings.  One of the sayings was "Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink."  I thought it was a funny quip, especially given how pristine and "princessy" Garth seemed to me back in the day.  It kind of made me think that underneath that very polished exterior, there's a funny person lurking.  I wish Garth had revealed more of that person in her book.  She writes that she's not a ditzy blonde, but there were times in this book when she's not too convincing.

I notice a lot of readers on who were fans of Garth's mention that the book has some factual discrepancies within it.  Garth doesn't get all of the dates or stories right.  Although I am not a big Garth fan, I do know what it's like when you read something about something you love and the author doesn't get their facts straight.  It comes across as very shoddy.  While I personally didn't notice the errors, true fans have noticed and they aren't pleased.  For that reason, I would recommend that actual fans avoid this book unless they want to experience distress.  On the other hand, as a very casual fan, I would say that Garth comes across as a genuinely pleasant person.  I wasn't turned off by her personality.  She does also include some photos, some of which were pretty fun to look at.  I particularly liked the "band ad" photo she did before she hit the big time.

Anyway... this book is pretty lightweight.  I found it somewhat entertaining, but I think it could have been a lot better.  For that reason, I give it three stars out of five.  On the other hand, right now it's selling for less than $5.  So if you want a cheap and easy read, this one might do it for you... but I'm guessing it won't.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pieces of cloth...

Something occurred to me in the wake of the whole NFL kneeling debacle.  Lots of my left leaning friends dismissed the outrage expressed by my right leaning friends by defining the U.S. flag as a "piece of cloth".  They discounted the National Anthem as just "a song".  They diminished the opinions of people who were offended by the conduct of NFL players kneeling as the "Star Spangled Banner" played and the flag was displayed.

And yet, the same left leaning friends were highly pissed off and offended last month when a bunch of angry, rioting, white supremacists hit the streets of Charlottesville with their Confederate battle flags and Nazi flags. Apparently, those flags were not just "pieces of cloth".  They stood for something really bad that needed to be condemned.  And dammit, it was "wrong" for those guys to be carrying those flags, also made of cloth.  I wonder if the Charlottesville riots would have been less offensive if no one was waving any flags.  It would be interesting to find out.

If you read this blog regularly, you might know that while my opinions tend to be left leaning, I actually think it's kind of silly to get too wound up over flags and songs.  Ultimately, they're symbols, and they only have the power, good or bad, that we give them.  Still, I did find it interesting the different viewpoints being expressed.

"God" refers to the American flag and the Star Spangled Banner as "a piece of cloth" and "a song", respectively.

The very same people who refer to the American flag as a "piece of cloth" are usually pretty outraged when someone flies the Confederate battle flag or a Nazi flag.  Aren't they "pieces of cloth" too?

Why is it that the American flag is merely "a piece of cloth" or an "inanimate object" but certain other flags are evil symbols that must be buried and/or banned?  Why are so many people more concerned about honoring or dishonoring symbols than they are about examining the attitudes behind the symbols?

"God" is correct when he points out that the flag is just a piece of cloth.  It symbolizes the United States, though, and many people honor it for that reason.  Other people honor pieces of cloth that symbolize the Confederacy and Naziism, which are popularly considered evil.  But not everyone has negative opinions about the Confederacy or Naziism, just as not everyone has positive feelings about the U.S. flag.  When it comes down to it, the flags that symbolize them literally are "pieces of cloth".

It's easy to condemn people for how they interpret certain symbols.  It's much harder to address attitudes than it is symbols.  It's simpler to shame someone for not responding to a symbol "appropriately", as defined by conventional wisdom, than it is to ignore the symbols and study and try to understand the beliefs that created them.  A flag doesn't have feelings.  A flag can't answer you back when you denounce or admire it.  The people behind the flags should be our main focus, not the flags themselves.

On the other hand, people who are complaining about disrespect toward the American flag don't seem to be too concerned about guys like the ones above...

My own father, who was very much a political conservative and served about 22 years in the Air Force, was known to wear clothes patterned after the American flag.  I remember when I was a teenager, he tried to give me a hideous U.S. flag t-shirt.  I refused to wear it, so he reclaimed it and wore it all the time.  Now, if my dad were still around and lucid today, he'd probably be very upset about the NFL players who chose to kneel instead of standing for the National Anthem.  He'd probably be angry that they disrespected American patriotic symbols such as the flag and the anthem. On the other hand, he'd happily wear a tacky t-shirt made of the flag and see nothing wrong with it.  If I recall correctly, the sleeves had stripes on them, while the torso part was made up of stars.  It probably would have been even uglier if the stars were on the sleeves and the stripes were on the body part.

Please note that I'm not saying people should be waving Confederate or Nazi flags.  I'm simply pointing out what appears to be a double standard.  If you get outraged when someone dares to wave a Nazi flag, but you refer to the U.S. flag as a mere "piece of cloth", you aren't being very logical.  Both flags are "mere pieces of cloth", but they symbolize something far greater.  And really, when it comes down to it, I think the greater "somethings" are what we should focus on, not the symbols.

Abandonment issues...

I think this meme pretty much sums up the perspective of someone with abandonment issues...

It's tough to be abandoned.  It happens a lot to young children and causes them lifelong issues, most of which never get resolved.  Then they grow up to be adults with issues that cause them to engage in behaviors that perpetuate their abandonment issues.

In earlier blog posts, I have written about the so-called "psychological sunburn".  Forgive me for using that term, since it comes from Dr. Phil.  I do think it's a good description of what can happen to people, though, when they are traumatized by something.  People with abandonment issues have "psychological sunburns" when it comes to being left behind or rejected somehow.  Abandonment issues can lead to a variety of different behaviors, many of which are destructive.

A person with abandonment issues may avoid meeting other people because he or she fears rejection. Of all of the behaviors associated with abandonment issues, I think this one is probably the least destructive.  If you don't meet other people, they can't reject or leave you.  But avoiding others is ultimately destructive for most people because it leads to loneliness and social isolation, which can then turn into eccentric and/or antisocial behavior.

Some people with abandonment issues react to abandonment with rage.  For instance, my husband's ex wife, a woman with some pretty serious abandonment issues, reacted to the divorce she initiated by engaging in extreme parental alienation.  Although she was treated more than fairly in the divorce, she was furious that Bill so easily granted it.  She had expected him to "fight" for their marriage, crappy as it was.  When he didn't fight for her and agree to put up with her repeated abusive behavior, he became an "evil" person.  And when I came along after their divorce, I was "evil" because I prevented Bill from reaching "rock bottom", which in her mind meant he'd come crawling back to her.  Because she thought of Bill as evil, she did everything she could to turn friends and family against him.

It's really sad that Bill's ex wife felt the need to mount such a campaign because it's had ripple effects.  One of Bill's daughters has been interacting with him lately, but it's hard to trust her.  She probably has abandonment issues, too.  I don't interfere in Bill's communications with his daughter.  I sincerely hope she's coming to him because she wants to and not because of a scheme cooked up by her mother or because she needs something.  We have already seen that her older brother, who was abandoned by his biological father and eventually Bill when they both divorced his mother, has grown into a very dysfunctional adult.  Indeed, it appears that he has engaged in some abandonment behaviors himself.

Sometimes people with abandonment issues have trouble letting things go.  For instance, more than once on this blog, I have pissed someone off.  Sometimes the people I piss off are Facebook friends.  They unfriend and block me, but then compulsively stalk my blog.  It seems kind of like contradictory behavior.  If I have upset you so much that you need to block me, why would you be hanging out on my blog?  Wouldn't that cause more pain?  If I write something that upsets you and you simply lurk rather than comment, how will you resolve your issues?  If I don't write something that upsets you, won't you be bored?  To my knowledge, the person I refer to above has finally stopped stalking me, but it took many weeks.

I will admit to engaging in avoidant behavior.  When I feel abandoned or upset by someone to the point at which I need to completely disengage, I don't tend to keep revisiting them.  When I am at the point of needing to block someone on Facebook, that is generally it.  I usually have to be pretty disappointed and angry to do it.  That isn't to say I won't listen if someone wants to apologize, though I have found that many people are too proud to say they're sorry, especially those with deep seated abandonment issues.  They are hurt and angry and unable to see a perspective other than their own.  It's rare that people want to swallow their pride, especially these days, as people don't have to work together as much as they did before the Internet was a thing.  In some ways, it's much easier to simply write someone off than it used to be.  So usually, when it gets to the point of casting someone out of my online life, it means we're done.

Here's another meme that sums up the attitude of someone with abandonment issues.

I was about to close this post when I found the meme posted directly above.  I am sharing it here because I think it beautifully illustrates the problem.  Notice the color of the meme is black and the words are very stark.  A person with "abandonment issues" tends to be anxious, clingy, and depressed; sometimes they go to extreme lengths to be liked, only to show their dark side later.  Many times, empathetic people will be drawn to them.  Very empathetic people, like my husband, Bill, will feel like it's their job to fix the person with issues.  Unfortunately, what many people don't understand is that it's impossible for one person to fix another.  Every person has to be responsible for fixing his or her own issues.

My husband's ex wife repeatedly told Bill that one day, he would leave her.  Then she repeatedly and deliberately engaged in extremely negative behaviors that ultimately made her prediction come to pass.  Bill, God bless him, tried so hard to make the marriage work.  He did all she asked and then some.  When they did finally split, he bent over backwards to see that she got all she needed to make a clean start.  He didn't even stop wearing his wedding ring until their divorce was official, let alone make romantic advances toward me.  He was faithful and loyal to the bitter end.  His efforts were in vain.  And when Bill ultimately failed to save the marriage his ex wife repeatedly predicted would fail, she expected him to take all of the blame.

Being abandoned hurts, but if you constantly engage in behavior that drives people away and then cry when they finally hold you accountable, you will always end up being left.  People don't like to be abused.  Life is hard enough.  If you find that "everyone always leaves", perhaps it's time to take a look at your behavior and determine if you contributed to their decision to leave.  Granted, abandonment issues often start in childhood, but part of being an emotionally healthy adult involves developing insight and being able to see alternative perspectives.  It takes maturity and wisdom to stop and take a look at the other person's situation, especially when you yourself are dealing with emotional pain.

That being said... I don't actually know that many "emotionally healthy" adults, myself included.  We all have our issues.  All we can really hope for is to get better somehow.  I continue to wish I could be like that really cool monk I ran into at the restaurant outside of Munich.  Peace and serenity is an elusive goal of mine.    

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Small problems...

Why can't I be contented?  In the grand scheme of things, my problems are so small.  And yet, last night, I was feeling angry again about so many trivial things.

This morning, I read a really sad article about pregnant women in Armenia who are more or less forced to have abortions because their husbands and mothers-in-law dream of them having sons.  I remember this was an issue when I lived in Armenia.  Boy children were much revered by their families.  I believe most parents loved their daughters, too.  But there are still significant numbers of people who prefer to have sons over daughters, at least as the firstborn child.  And so, Armenia remains a place where a lot of sex selective abortions take place.

In the article I linked, a woman using the pseudonym Gayane explains that she was forced to have an abortion when it was discovered that the fetus she was carrying was a girl.  Now, years later, she has trouble getting pregnant and her husband and his mother would happily settle for a girl if she could only get pregnant and stay that way.

A second story is about a woman using the pseudonym Zhanna, whose husband and mother-in-law forced her to choose between abortion and divorce when they learned the baby she was carrying was a girl.  Zhanna chose divorce and now she's broke, her ex husband is dead, and his family will have nothing to do with her or the baby.

I remember when I lived in Armenia, I met a couple of women who had endured multiple abortions.  One friend had seven of them.  Another had sixteen.  Abortion wasn't thought of as a serious problem in Armenia, which had a strange mixture of people who were dedicated to Christianity and others who were atheists, as the Soviet Union demanded for as long as it existed.  Armenia was the first country to openly accept Christianity as its official religion and many Armenians are very proud of that fact, but when it was part of the Soviet Union, people were not allowed to openly worship.  I'm not sure if that's why so many people are okay with women having repeated abortions.  I only know that twenty years ago, abortion wasn't really considered a big deal.  And yet, I read about the women in the article I linked whose husbands' families bullied them into unpleasant choices.  Abortion was a big deal to those women.    

When I lived in Armenia, I was in my early to mid 20s.  More than once, a person told me that I'd marry an Armenian.  That always struck me as unlikely, since I am way too outspoken.  Besides, many Armenians are very proud of their heritage and want to keep the bloodlines pure.  I didn't see myself tolerating a situation in which I had to live with my mother-in-law and accept her dictates over my body.  And yet, a lot of Armenian women, especially those in rural areas, are expected to do just that.

Last night, I told Bill that at this point in my life, I hoped I'd be living in my own place.  Of course, I also hoped I'd have a career and perhaps a family.  Things haven't turned out the way I envisioned them.  But can I really say things are bad?  No...  of course not.  I don't have to live with a mother-in-law who demands that I have an abortion because I'm pregnant with a daughter instead of a son.  Bill's mom would never treat me with that level of disrespect.  She's a wonderful person.  But even if she did, I am married to a guy who doesn't value his mother over his wife.

And... we do at least have a place to live.  It's not the greatest house in the world, but it beats a cardboard box or a hotel room.  We have running water and power, two things I regularly went without when I lived in Armenia.  Our rent is cheap, so we'll be able to save up for the house I dream of buying someday.  It doesn't have to be big and fancy; it just has to be on a large plot of land with a privacy fence and a locking gate... and my own parking spot.

I need to focus more on what's good, I guess.  I do have it pretty good most of the time.  I do have small problems, even if they irritate me immensely.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Who am I?

A few weeks ago, Bill and I submitted saliva samples to the company 23andme.  I had wanted to do it for a long time and finally decided to pull the trigger when I read an article about a woman who had found out her family had lied to her about her origins.  Although my sister once told me she suspected my mom had conceived me with someone else, I highly doubted I would get the same surprise.  My mom is honest to a fault.

Anyway, while we were in Scotland, I got my test results.  Bill has to redo his kit because his saliva sample didn't have enough genetic material in it to generate results.  Supposedly, it's rare for that to happen, but leave it to Bill to be an anomaly.  We both opted for the ancestry and health tests, which run $199 each.

My results weren't really a huge surprise.  I guess the only thing that surprised me was that I am even more British than I realized.  I thought I'd have more German ancestry.


I am as white as they come, apparently, save for that less than 1% incidence of South Asian blood.  Maybe one of my earliest ancestors had sex with someone from India or something.  Actually, on my dad's side of the family, some of my relatives have almost Asian looking eyes.  My eldest sister has that trait.  They are kind of almond shaped, although she otherwise has Caucasian features.  My dad's side of the family also has really dark hair.  Some of my relatives, Dad included, have or had black hair.  I see we also have a slight connection to southern Europeans, which makes me wonder if some of our ancestry is Black Irish (Irish people who hooked up with people from the Spanish Armada).  

Based on my research, both my mom's and dad's families came to America fairly early.  However, both sides of the family were pretty true to their origins, based on my genetic results.  They seem to have connected with their own kind.  

It was interesting to get those results while we were in the United Kingdom.  I always feel at home when I'm there and felt even more so this time.  I was telling one of my sisters about the results and she was surprised there wasn't more German, but she also said that when she visited Milton Keynes a couple of years ago, she felt as if all of the people there were long lost relatives.  She said she saw a lot of women who looked and acted like our mother, from their coloring to the way they stood and walked.  I may have to pay a visit there myself to see if she's right.  

I was surprised there wasn't any Native American in my profile.  Given that my parents' families were in Virginia for so long, you'd think someone in my family tree would have mingled with Native Americans.  But, according to the test results, that never happened... at least not among my biological ancestors.

My sister was concerned about privacy.  She told me a story about a guy whose DNA results ended up helping police connect him with a crime.  I told her that as a military dependent and former Peace Corps Volunteer, the feds already have a lot of info on me.  What's more, I have Tricare health insurance, which is pretty hard to lose.  Her example is kind of funny, too.  I guess she was all for the bad guy getting away.  I would think that if DNA positively links someone to a crime, it's not a bad thing.  I'd rather guilty people end up in prison than not guilty people, right?  

This particular sister is the one who, on the day of our grandmother's funeral, told me that she always suspected I wasn't our dad's natural child.  Her reasoning was that our dad was "mean" to me (and he often was, although I doubt it was because he thought I wasn't his child).  She also cited my light hair, blue eyes, and relative lack of freckles.  I do have freckles, but not nearly as many as some of the others in my family, including my sisters.  Also, there are a couple of people on my dad's side of the family who have blue eyes and lighter hair, although most of them have pretty dark features.  I simply happen to favor my mom's side of the family, I guess.  We have another sister who has green eyes and lighter hair.  To my knowledge, our sister never doubted her paternity.  

Fortunately, there were no unpleasant health surprises generated by this test.  I apparently have an increased risk for age related macular degeneration.  Other than that, no problems.

I probably should call my mom and tell her about this.  I told her I was doing it and she seemed interested in the results.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Protesting the protests...

Now hear this.  I don't give a shit about athletes who kneel when "The Star Spangled Banner" is playing.  In fact, I don't give a shit about most athletes or pro sports.  However, it seems that a lot of people I know are absolutely horrified and disgusted by professional football who are protesting racism by kneeling when the National Anthem plays.  I have read more than one comment from someone who says "it's un-American" for Americans to show disrespect to the flag.

Let me make myself very clear.  People are literally dying in Puerto Rico right now, in the wake of Hurricane Maria.  People in Texas and Florida are still reeling from the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  North Korea is threatening to nuke the United States.  White supremacists are emboldened to the point of violence in charming, genteel southern cities like Charlottesville, Virginia.  And we have an incompetent moron in the White House who seems determined to permanently screw up the country.

With all of that going on right now, I honestly don't give a fuck who decides to stand and who decides to kneel when the National Anthem is playing.  We have much bigger fish to fry right now.  Moreover, protest is actually a very American thing to do.  Would we be where we are today if the Sons of Liberty didn't protest the British Tea Act back in 1773?  That act of defiance led to the American Revolution, which ultimately led to independence from Britain.  One might say we are on the brink of another Revolution... maybe one that isn't as noble as the formation of an independent America ultimately was.

It's really hard for me to be waxing poetic on Facebook about how disrespectful a bunch of football players are because they knelt when the National Anthem was playing.  I mean, in the grand scheme of things, why does it really matter that they knelt when there are people who are literally dying in disaster areas?  I think the football players have the right to protest.  Maybe it's distasteful to some people that they chose to do it during a football game, which is the players' place of business.  In fact, maybe it's distasteful that Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin used the Emmy Awards as an opportunity to voice their contempt for Donald Trump.  However, it seems to me these folks wouldn't be protesting if things weren't terribly wrong right now.

Seriously, though... you can take your pick of so many issues worthy of protest.  There are so many things going on right now that are upsetting so many people.  It just seems like getting pissed off about football players kneeling versus standing during the National Anthem is pretty small potatoes.  I'm sure those guys will stop taking the knee when more people feel our country is a nation worth honoring.  Aside from that, my husband put on a uniform for thirty years to protect every American's right to freedom of expression.

I think it's sad that so many people are being divided over something like this.  Who cares?  I'm sure the people who are trying to recover after the massive hurricanes that blew through parts of the United States are more concerned about simple survival than political protests at a football game.  I think we should be focused more on helping them than bitching about football players kneeling versus sitting during the National Anthem.  



RIP Granniemose...

While Bill and I were on vacation, we lost a very sweet online friend.  Her name was Virginia, but I always thought of her as Granniemose.  That was her handle on the now defunct review site, Epinions.

Bill and I had the pleasure of meeting Granniemose in the summer of 2003.  We were newly married and living in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  A friend on Epinions invited us to a bar in Richmond, where a bunch of Epinions folks were going to meet up.  It happened to be karaoke night, though I didn't do any singing.

Anyway, Bill was very tired from working all week at the Pentagon and not getting any sleep.  He didn't want to go to Richmond and hang out in a bar, especially since it was about an hour away from Fredericksburg.  But I sweet talked him into going and we had a great time.  Granniemose was there, just as sweet and delightful as any stereotypical grandmother.  That was the only time I ever met her in person, but neither she nor I ever forgot it.

I used to love reading Virginia's reviews on Epinions.  One of my favorites was one she did for UHaul.  I seem to remember she was moving from one daughter's home to another and had a bad experience with UHaul.  The exact title of her piece may be escaping me, but it was something like "Moving?  I suggest UHaul your fanny somewhere else!"  She had a fantastic sense of humor.

Years later, Virginia joined Facebook and we were Facebook friends.  She would often leave me cheerful comments or post endearing statuses.  Her family clearly adored her, including her granddaughter, Katrina Bowden, who is now a well-known actress.  I don't follow Katrina's career, but I do remember Nigel Barker talking about her on America's Next Top Model.  Then later, Virginia commented on how hard her granddaughter works in show business and how proud she was of her.  That was when I realized yet another tenuous connection to a celebrity.  ;-)

Sometimes Virginia would disappear for awhile.  She was quite elderly and had some health problems that needed to be addressed.  She would always eventually come back, as sweet and cheerful as ever, and apologize for her absence.

While we were on our cruise, one of Virginia's daughters asked for prayers for her mother.  At age 95, Granniemose's body was starting to give out.  We got the news that she passed away on September 14th, just eight weeks before she would have turned 96.  It seems kind of fitting that I saw many rainbows that day, as we enjoyed Northern Ireland.

Granniemose will always have a warm place in my heart.  She was such a dear woman and I only wish there were more like her.  But, I guess the fact that she was so dear is one reason why she was so very special.  We are all so fortunate that she lived for so long and had the ability to touch so many people, far and wide.  Her Facebook page is now overflowing with tributes.  It's hard to believe a woman who was born so long ago would be commemorated in such an incredibly modern way.  

Rest in peace, Granniemose.  You are missed and much loved.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

BYU is selling caffeinated Coke!

Since it's Sunday, I figure I'll write a post about religion.  Since I love to bust on Mormonism, I figure I'll write about the big news I read yesterday.  Brigham Young University, famously owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently started making caffeinated soft drinks available on campus.  Is this really a big deal?  Apparently so, since the article I read was on Time Magazine's Web site.  There's also a piece on Newsweek's Web site.

BYU made the decision not to sell caffeinated soft drinks back in the mid 1950s.  Many Mormons don't drink caffeinated drinks because drinking coffee and tea were prohibited by the church's Word of Wisdom.  The Word of Wisdom also prohibits the consumption of alcohol and the use of tobacco products.  

Members who chose to eschew caffeinated drinks surmised that coffee and tea were banned due to the fact that a lot of them are caffeinated.  However, the actual prohibition was against "hot drinks", not caffeinated ones.  And Mormons have no issues drinking hot chocolate, hot cider, or soup in a cup.  Some Mormons also drink hot teas, as long as they aren't "black teas".  Go figure.

Anyhoo, people who are interested in reading about BYU's decision to allow leaded Coke to be consumed on campus can click here to read the explanation posted by the Dining Services' Dean Wright.  Evidently, caffeinated beverages became available because consumers were demanding them.  I hasten to add that "highly caffeinated" drinks-- that is, energy drinks-- won't be sold on campus and all of the regularly offered caffeine free drinks will still be available.

Because BYU has a contract with Coca-Cola, products by that company will be offered.  I presume that means Pepsi lovers are out of luck.  Actually, though I used to be pretty addicted to Diet Pepsi, I rarely drink sodas anymore.  Nowadays, I am more likely to drink beer or bubbly water.  I go through a lot of "Sprudel" now, which I guess is better for me than beer is.  I do like German Coke, though, because it's made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.  When I was growing up, sodas tasted different (and frankly, better) than they do now.

It would probably behoove me to give up beer, too.  And wine.  And all things boozy, really.  Bill and I didn't do anything yesterday because we've been on vacation and we're both getting over the same nasty cold.  We binge watched newer episodes of ER and drank too much wine.  I guess today, we'll go do something outside of the house so we don't imbibe too much.

Many thanks to Ralf Roletschek for this image, lifted from Wikipedia.  Indeed, this is a bottle of German Coke, I think!

Ralf Roletschek /

Here's hoping the road to Outer Darkness is not paved with Coca-Cola... and not too many magic panties are twisting over this big news out of Provo.  Have a Coke and a smile.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Americans are such a fickle lot...

Last night, just before Mr. Bill and I fell asleep, I read a news article about Dolly Parton being in Dutch with her fans.  It seems Ms. Parton was at the Emmys on Sunday night and was joined on stage by Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, her co-stars in the 1980 film, 9 to 5.  It probably should not have come as a surprise that Ms. Fonda and Ms. Tomlin both took the opportunity to bash Donald Trump.  Dolly didn't say a word, but her fans are apparently pissed at her for not objecting or simply walking off the stage in protest.

I think Dolly looks a little caught off guard...  9 to 5 was one of the few movies I ever saw in the theater.  I was 8 years old.

It's not lost on me that a lot of Dolly's biggest fans are Trump supporters.  Some of them are evidently disgusted that Dolly had anything to do with the anti-Trump rant.  Always the consummate professional, Dolly redirected the comments, but people are still upset with her.

All I can say is that Americans sure are fickle.  Why blame Dolly for what two other very well-known left leaning actresses said on TV?  Dolly Parton has had an amazing career and has done so much good for so many people.  It's not her fault that her former co-stars got political, although I happen to fully agree with what Ms. Fonda and Ms. Tomlin said.  Donald Trump is a huge embarrassment and he is a sexist, lying, hypocritical bigot.  However, although entertainers get political all the time, I happen to agree with those who think there is a time and a place for everything.

Oh well.  I doubt Dolly cares if her fans throw away their albums or quit going to Dollywood.  She's made a fantastic career for herself and she'll be fine.  And plenty of people won't be offended by celebrities launching barbs at Trump.  He deserves it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Interesting discipline method leads to criminal charges for dumbass dad...

A couple of days ago, as we were preparing to fly back to Germany, I ran across a news article that was printed in the Daily Press, a newspaper I grew up reading.  Although the paper is out of Newport News, Virginia, the article was about a 25 year old man from Boardman Township, a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio, who was trying to discipline his six year old daughter by donning a clown mask and chasing her around their apartment community.

Vernon Barrett Jr.'s six year old daughter, identified in the article as J.B., was misbehaving.  Her father, Vernon, felt the need to discipline her, but wanted to avoid spankings because J.B.'s mother is currently in prison for child endangerment.  Apparently, the girl's mom had stepped on J.B. and broken some of her ribs.  Consequently, CPS was watching the family, and rightly so.

Mr. Barrett, who clearly thought scaring his daughter by wearing a clown mask was a good alternative to a whoopin', scared the hell out of J.B.  In the course of it, she jumped into a stranger's car.  Fortunately, the stranger was a woman who was understanding when the panicked child blurted out that she was being chased by a clown and was terrified.  J.B.'s mask wearing dad then pulled the child out of the woman's car.  The woman called 911, and J.B. then managed to run into another stranger's apartment.  This time, the stranger was a gun owner who had been drinking.

The stranger whose apartment six year old J.B. unexpectedly invaded was that of Dion Santiago, a 48 year old man who happened to own a gun and was boozing at the time of J.B.'s unplanned visit.  J.B. ran into Mr. Santiago's home and told him she was being chased by a clown and was scared.  Santiago looked outside and saw J.B.'s dad in his clown mask.  Perhaps fueled by fear, adrenaline, and too much alcohol, Santiago then fired his weapon out of his window.  Fortunately, no one was injured.

Meanwhile, the police arrived and poor J.B. was so frightened that she wouldn't emerge from Mr. Santiago's apartment, even when she was told the "clown" was actually her dad.  She was finally escorted out by a woman who was also in Santiago's apartment.  Santiago and Barrett were, at the same time, about to come to blows.  Apparently, Santiago was also freaked out by the clown costume, since he had heard of clown sightings in the area.  Barrett was angry that Santiago had fired at him.  Santiago was angry that Barrett was wreaking havoc in the neighborhood by being a creepy clown.  The cops evidently had to stop them from beating the shit out of each other.

In the end, Santiago was charged with using weapons while intoxicated, while Barrett was charged with child endangerment and inducing panic.  Although Mr. Santiago should not have fired his gun, especially when he'd been drinking, I think I could give him a pass in this instance.  He clearly had no plans to use the gun when he started drinking and probably thought his life or that of the child's was in danger.  I don't know if the alcohol affected his judgment; for all I know, he might have done the same thing had he been sober at the time.  It was just very lucky that no one was hurt or killed.

The person I think is the biggest idiot in this situation is Vernon Barrett Jr., although I guess I can understand why he was trying to come up with a discipline method other than spanking, given the scrutiny he was under due to CPS.  Sadly, his daughter will likely lose access to both of her parents as Vernon Barrett deals with the legal fallout of his decision to dress as a clown and chase his daughter.

I don't know exactly what the hell was going through Barrett's head when he decided scaring the shit out of his six year old was the best way to teach her right from wrong.  And, not knowing the people involved, including the child in question, I don't know if more traditional discipline methods had been tried and failed.  Somehow, given the details of this case, I kind of doubt it.

It sounds like there is a stunning lack of common sense among the adults in J.B.'s life.  I don't know what kind of people her parents actually are, so I don't want to be too quick to say they shouldn't be raising her.  I only know what the evidence suggests.  The evidence suggests that J.B.'s parents likely didn't have many positive role models when they were growing up.

The fact that Mr. Barrett made a conscious effort to avoid physically punishing J.B. makes me think that perhaps he was trying to do the right thing.  I am living proof, though, that using fear to discipline kids is not really the best method.  To this day, I have a phobia of mushrooms, in part, thanks to my sisters' efforts to scare me with them when I was a small child.  It's embarrassing to have a phobia because it is an irrational fear, although Bill thinks it makes me a more interesting person.  He's probably being kind, as usual.

According to the article, Barrett's daughter J.B. was placed in his girlfriend's care while Barrett was detained.  Hopefully, he won't end up in prison like J.B.'s mother has.  And hopefully, he will learn from this error in judgment.  I also hope Barrett's girlfriend is a decent person.  That poor kid.  I wish her well.

I guess we need more shows like Little House on the Prairie to remind us why clowns can be creepy...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Back home and catching up on things...

We got home last night at about 8:30pm.  I'm still doing a fair amount of coughing and gagging, thanks to the cold I picked up at the tail end of our cruise.  I feel a lot better than I did a couple of days ago, though, and am ready to start writing about the trip.

The one bummer is that our landlords are tearing up our driveway and replacing it.  The job wasn't started until Monday this week, so there's still a lot to be done.  As I write this, a guy is out there running some kind of noisy motorized tool.  I suspect it will go on all day, or at least until it rains.  And the sun is shining brightly right now.

Overall, we had a really good trip.  I look forward to writing all about it.  I may have to wear headphones, though.

I also have a few things I want to rant about, none of which involve any Facebook dramas...  ;)  So stay tuned.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The difference between gentlemen and assholes...

Some of you may remember that a week ago, I felt compelled to shut down open access to two of my blogs.  I did so because of a minor drama that erupted in a Facebook group.  I happened to be feeling really tense and upset leading up to the incident.  Although I am generally a pretty resilient person, I do get easily annoyed by some things, especially at certain times of the month.  Since we were going on vacation and we had spent a lot of time and money planning for it, I wanted to minimize drama.  Now that we're well into the trip, I feel ready to write more, consequences be damned.

Bill and I have really needed this vacation, even as we realize how lucky we are to have the luxury of being able to travel.  In the past few years, we've been fortunate enough to be able to travel in style.  This week, we have been aboard the Hebridean Princess, which is a former car ferry turned into a floating country house.  It generally caters to elderly Britons with money, although there are a few younger people who sail on the ship.  This trip is our fourth cruise with Hebridean Princess.

It costs a lot of money to get on this cruise, but once you've paid your fare, you really don't have to worry about anything.  Almost everything is taken care of and you are "looked after" almost to an annoying degree.  It was exactly what we needed, though, because Bill and I have weathered an uneasy summer in Germany.  Some of the drama that led up to last week's minor meltdown had to do with Facebook.  I spend too much time on it and sometimes I let it get me more upset than I should.  Being on a ship is a good thing, because potential Internet drama is limited by time and often spotty Internet access.

The incident that caused me to shut down my blogs was brought on by a relatively innocuous post made by someone in a group I was a member of.  The guy, who is usually pretty funny and writes offensive things that he probably doesn't really mean, was complaining about Donald Trump.  He had a list of reasons why he didn't like our president.  One of his reasons was that he felt having Trump as president was like taking out a hot girl who wouldn't "put out".

I didn't really take the guy's comment that seriously.  He's made offensive comments before and later shown himself to be pretty harmless.  I gently took him to task, though, for his comment that if he takes a woman out to dinner, she owes him sex.  We had a discussion during which I explained that Bill and I waited for two weeks after marriage.  I very frankly explained why we waited.  Granted, it was TMI, but all sorts of gross stuff gets talked about in that group.  I didn't think it was a big deal.

There is another guy who was in the group, now blocked from my sight, who decided to weigh in on the discussion.  First, he attempted to "mansplain" why he expects women to fuck him after he pays for dinner.  His comments were mainly about courtship and how people need to get to know each other to find out if they're going to "mesh".  Apparently, this guy thinks he has to have sex with a woman before he knows if he likes her.  Frankly, I think that's utter bullshit and I told him so.

I don't care how much someone pays for another person's meal.  That does not give them the right to demand or expect sexual intercourse from them.  A $200 dinner is hardly a fair trade for the health and lifestyle risks that can come with sexual contact.  When you have sex with another person, you could put yourself or your partner at risk for pregnancy and infections, some of which are incurable.  A $200 dinner is not a fair trade for another person's health.  I can't say it often enough.

This is not to mean that I think everyone should abstain from having sex.  Bill and I did abstain and I'm glad we did, but I know not everyone feels that way.  That's fine with me.  Two people who are attracted to each other and want to have sex should do what they want.  My issue is not with sex before marriage; it's with the expectation that taking a person out and paying for their meal or a show entitles them to open access to the other person's body.

Anyway, when I didn't acquiesce to the mansplaining comments about courtship rituals and "meshing", the guy's comments got nastier and then became very personal.  I knew they would only get worse if I continued to engage.  I had seen him in action before.  In fact, he recently referred to another woman in the group as a "sanctimonious cunt" because she disagreed with him on the topic of spanking children.  Not surprisingly, this guy was all in favor of it.  He has daughters and was bragging about how "great" they've turned out because he spanked them.  Given some of his comments in that group, I get the feeling that he probably enjoyed spanking them.  He comes across to me as very abusive.  I bet he's a horrible lover, too.

When the abuser's comments started to become more hateful, I abruptly blocked him and then left the group.  Bill stayed in the group for awhile and people wondered what had happened.  The abusive asshole continued to make derogatory comments.  Bill defended me and referred to the guy as a "knuckle dragger", which I think was a fair and, actually, very kind assessment.  Apparently, being called a knuckle dragger upset the abuser so much that he had to come back and insult Bill's manhood in an extremely crude and disrespectful manner.

Bill also saw some thinly veiled comments directed at me by the group's administrators, basically chastising me for getting "offended" and being a "snowflake".  The female admin let us know in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't even THINK about asking to come back to the group after "getting offended".  Don't worry.  I don't want to come back to your group, especially since you chased down the abuser when he got offended and left your group, but you couldn't even spare a "fuck you" for me.  I had a feeling that you were a two-faced hypocrite when I first met you and you have now proven me right.  Well done, you.  :-)

I wonder, just how much shit am I supposed to swallow before I'm "allowed" to react?  I also wonder how one of the admins, herself an outspoken female, would like it if those comments were directed at her or her daughters someday.  I have also seen this woman in action and I have a feeling that she, too, would be very upset if anyone dared to comment to her the way that guy commented to me.  Instead of getting into a public and nasty fight with him, I decided to simply leave.  That doesn't make me a "snowflake", by the way.  I have already had plenty of knock down drag out fights with people much more threatening than some random cretin in a Facebook group.  I simply don't have the time for that shit anymore and frankly, staying in that group wasn't worth it.

Last night, I witnessed the actions of a "real man" in my husband, Bill.  There is a guy on this ship who is in his 90s.  He's covered in bruises and has rheumy eyes.  He doesn't hear well and, in fact, is missing a good portion of his left ear.  He's frail and walks very slowly.  When we visited the Titanic Exhibition yesterday, he needed a wheelchair.

Yesterday afternoon, he sat down with us and drank some beer coupled with a dram of whisky.  A few days ago, he had seen Bill in his dress blues and told him about his days in the British Army.  He had joined in 1937 and stayed in for thirty-five years, culminating with a tour in Baden-Baden, Germany. After he finished with the British Army, he was recruited by the Canadian Army and he worked with them for another fifteen years, living in Germany the whole time.  He married a German woman, who has preceded him in death.  He now lives in Scotland.

After we enjoyed our drinks, the gentleman decided to go to his cabin.  My husband gently took him by the arm and helped him down the steps.  I was so moved by the sight of it.  I wish I had taken a picture.  That, to me, is a real man.  A real man is someone gentle, kind, and considerate.  A real man doesn't expect women to fuck him simply because he bought them dinner.  A real man treats other people with courtesy, decency, and respect.  I married a real man.

The abuser, and others like him in that Facebook group, is not a real man.  He's a cretinous asshole, plain and simple, and I'm glad I don't have to smell his stench anymore.  Furthermore, I feel very sorry for his wife and daughters.  It's clear to me that he's a selfish jerk who is only interested in pleasing himself.  Again, anyone who has such a transactional attitude about dating is probably a horrible, selfish lover who only cares about his own satisfaction.  He makes my skin crawl.

I think it's very sad that the leaders of that group, two people for whom I used to have a modicum of respect, would rather hang out with a guy who must have the last word at any cost.  It's my guess that, pretty soon, their abusive friend will cross them, too.  I wonder if they will think of themselves as "snowflakes" when that happens.

I did some reading up on the idea that a woman owes sex for dinner.  I was very surprised and saddened by how many guys seem to think that's okay.  I read quite a few posts about strategies toward getting women in bed.  Actually, a number of guys wrote that they shouldn't buy a woman dinner because that won't make her want to fuck them.  It seems that is the only goal for some men.  I don't know what it's like to be a man, so I have no idea what the sex drive is like for the male species.  I'm sure it must be very powerful if it turns so many of them into such unrefined beasts.  In fact, I think it's really sad that some men are so apparently governed by the need to have sex that they treat women like conquests.  I wonder how many of those guys fucked a woman after dinner and then promptly dumped her because her performance wasn't good enough.  I also wonder, when the female admin's daughters start dating, if she will think it's okay if the people they date expect sex in exchange for a meal.  I hope her daughters plan to go Dutch.  It's probably a good idea regardless.

Allow me to state unequivocally that I am delighted to have married a "real man" who treats people with consideration and kindness and doesn't stoop to pissing contests with narcissistic creeps on Facebook.  I am also grateful that I don't have to date anymore and contend with men who think I owe them my health because they paid for dinner.  I am especially glad not to be keeping company with hypocrites who lack empathy and perspective and have horrible taste in "friends".  I really need to learn to trust my gut more, big as it is.  It generally tells me when someone is going to disappoint me.  The admins of that group definitely have.  

Some people may read this and want to respond.  As long as responses are civil, I will allow them.  However, this is my spot on the Internet and I will not tolerate shitty comments, especially from abusive creeps.  If you feel the need to be insulting, you will be fucked off from here.


Friday, September 15, 2017

We're staying busy!

I haven't had time to do any writing since we got on the Hebridean Princess.  We have been really busy visiting Northern Ireland.  Today, we are in Belfast.  We visited Hillsborough, where there is a castle that Bill and I didn't tour...  long story and I will write it on the travel blog when I have time...

This has been a good trip so far.  It's great to be out of Germany.  Aunt Flow is also about to vacate, so things are looking up.  I have to run now, because we're visiting the Titanic exhibition this afternoon.  I have been posting photos on the Facebook page for this blog.  I have a lot of Irish readers, so let me just say I am loving it here.  People are so nice!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Oban today...

This afternoon, we will meet a bus at Glasgow Central Train Station that will take us to Oban, where we will meet the ship.  I'm hoping for a great group this time, but you never know...

Last night, we met a nice couple from Philadelphia.  They are on their way back to the States today. We first ran into them on the elevator and they struck up a conversation.  I couldn't help but notice the guy's fly was down.  Unfortunately,when you notice something like that, it can be hard to stop noticing.  We later ran into them at a brewpub and noticed they chatted up some guy at the bar.  I wondered if the guy ever noticed his zipper was down.

We also ordered Bill a kilt kit yesterday.  It'll probably get to us in a few weeks.  The kilt will be handmade in the Donegal pattern.  I can't wait to see how it looks on Bill.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Don't be a Dick...

This story, while inspired by someone in real life, is a work of fiction.  It is not about anyone living or dead...  It's also pretty gross.

Once upon a time, in a land luckily far away from where you live, there was a hopeless loser named Dick Peters.  Dick Peters was a lonely man who was cursed with being horny all the time, but he was so incredibly unappealing to women that almost none of them wanted to give him the time of day, let alone satisfy his sexual itch.  

Although he was ugly and smelled like turkey shit, Dick fancied himself quite the ladies man.  He enjoyed hanging around in bars where he would approach young women who were unaware.

Peters was not a nice person, nor was he good looking.  But he did have a good job at the local slaughterhouse, where he would spend his days overseeing a staff of ten men who slaughtered the hapless animals who were to be turned into meat.  He also had a side job cleaning up turkey coops, which was why he always smelled of turkey shit.  

Every day, Dick Peters made a handsome wage from death and destruction.  Every night, he would go home, change clothes, and spray cheap cologne all over himself in an effort to make himself more attractive.  Then he would go to his favorite restaurant, park himself at the bar, and wait.  

It never failed that some young woman would come into the restaurant alone.  She'd sit at the bar.  If she was pretty enough, Peters would approach her and offer to buy her a drink.  Most nights, the women would politely decline Peters' invitations.  After all, he smelled like shit!  But every once in awhile, he would get lucky.  A woman would feel sorry for him or was lonely herself.  Sometimes the woman would simply like a drink and was short of money.  Other times, she would genuinely be lonely and looking for company.  The lonely ones were always easy to spot and when he saw them sitting there on a bar stool, looking lost and forlorn, Peters would swoop in and make his pitch.

One Saturday night in early September, Dick Peters came home from work, stripped off his bloody, shitty clothes, and got into the shower.  He scrubbed himself with Lava soap, using the bar's gritty surface to try to exfoliate the rancid smell of death from his body.  Peters paid particular attention to his genitals because he hoped to entice a young lady to fondle them later.  Unfortunately, no matter what he did, he was never quite able to get to the point at which he smelled fresh and clean.  The women could always smell the stink on him.  It was like he had a built in asshole alarm.  

The fact that Peters smelled so bad was a curse because most women would get one whiff of his rancid breath, his skunky, dirty smelling underarms, and the seemingly thick layers of shit and blood all over his skin, and they would move away from him quickly.  It was bad enough that the women were repelled by him.  What made things worse was the look they'd get on their faces once they realized what, and who, he actually was.    

"Tonight," he whispered as he scrubbed hard with his callused hands, "I will find myself a woman.  It's been far too long..."  He winced as he scrubbed his testicles with all of his might.  He was determined that they would get some attention that evening from a female... hopefully one with beautiful long hair.

Once he was finished with his shower, Peters stepped out of the small enclosure and dried himself off with a towel.  He had managed to clean the day's blood and shit from his body, but he still had a faint aroma about him.  Grimacing, he picked up a toothbrush and some toothpaste and tried to freshen his breath.  His gums bled from the effort of cleaning them, but his breath still smelled of rotting meat and stale coffee.  It was not exactly appealing to women.  Even the old, fat, and ugly ones avoided him like the plague.  It was humiliating!

Peters grabbed a deodorant stick and swiped it on his underarms in an attempt to slay the stench that harbored there.  The fresh smell of the deodorant mixed with the cloying aroma of Peters' unwashable filth.  Next, he splashed some cologne on, hoping to hide what was inside.  The stench simply oozed from his pores and mixed with the cologne until it was almost sickening.

Dropping his towel, Peters looked forlornly at his tiny genitalia.  His penis hung limply and sadly, as if it was ashamed to be attached to such a wretched man.  How would he ever impress anyone with such a modest set of family jewels?  Taking a deep breath, he vowed to wow them with his personality and gift for insults.  He knew that insulting people was the best way to win their hearts.  

Once he was dry, Peters put on clean underwear, jeans, and a collared shirt.  Just for good measure, he put on a thick, gold chain that had a gossamer looking medallion hanging from it.  He had bought it at an estate sale, thinking it would impress the women.  Unfortunately, it was covered with cheap gold plating and looked it.  The person from whom he had purchased it had won it at a church sponsored sports festival and there hadn't been enough money to invest in something better.  Likewise, although he could afford nice jewelry, Peters hadn't wanted to spend the cash.  He preferred to be thrifty.

Giving his hair a quick brush and spritz with hairspray, Peters put on his socks and shoes and headed to his favorite watering hole, a place called The Mouthful.  It was named such because because it was a place where people could get a mouthful of something to eat.  It was also rumored that the owner had a glory hole for his favorite male customers.  Unfortunately, Peters was not a good enough tipper to warrant being allowed to use the glory hole.  If he had been permitted to use it, it's likely he wouldn't have bothered trying to so hard to pick up chicks.  Peters wasn't smart enough to figure that out, though...  His method was brute force, superficial charm, and occasionally using a mallet to club his conquests over the head.

The Mouthful was close to Dick Peters' house.  He had planned it that way when he purchased his condo after his third divorce.  Dick's ex wife had won a sizable settlement, which she had taken in one lump sum.  It was just like the lottery.  She could have opted for a monthly check from Peters, but she was so disgusted by him that she preferred the lump sum approach.  That way, she didn't have to talk to him again.  Even though Peters hadn't had to spend as much money, he was still left somewhat depleted.  He was also very cheap and didn't want to spend the money to drive to the bar or risk having his car vandalized by the rough crowd who hung out there regularly.

As he opened the front door to the bar, no one shouted out "Hi Dick!" because no one liked him.  No one was happy to see or smell Dick Peters.  He was repulsive in every sense of the word.  The owners only tolerated him because they didn't want to get in trouble for discriminating against him.  They wished he would find a new place to hang out because he often drove away the people who were nice to be around.

Peters looked around furtively, checking the place out.  He was scanning the room for a likely prospect.  Seeing none, he took a seat at a corner table that offered a good view of the bar.  When the waitress approached him to ask for an order, she tried to hide her disdainful grimace.  Forcing a smile, she asked him what he wanted to drink.

"Bring me a nice scotch." Peters said, once again fixing his beady eyes at her breasts.  "House brand is okay."

"Sure." the waitress agreed as she tried not to wince at the unwelcome attention.  "I'll be right back." she added as she turned and walked away.  A few minutes later, the waitress returned with the drink and quickly set it down.  "You want a tab?" she asked.

Peters looked at the bar again and said, "Yeah.  I'm looking for someone."

"Aren't we all?" the waitress cracked, showing her crooked teeth.

Peters stared at her breasts again but said nothing.  He noticed the faded nametag pinned to her low cut blouse, which revealed a pair of sagging, tired looking breasts.  Even though the waitress was older and kind of homely, Peters felt his genitals stirring at the sight of her.  He was very hungry for feminine contact.  He took note of her name.  It was Agnes.

"I'll be back to check on you later." the waitress promised as she scurried away.

"I look forward to it." Peters said as he let out a tremendously smelly and noisy fart.

The waitress winced again as she spun on her heel and went back to the bar area.  Her favorite bartender, Hector, was working. 

"I hate it when Peters comes in here." Agnes complained.  "He's disgusting and no one wants to sit near him because he smells like shit.  I might be able to overlook his aroma if he weren't also a lecherous asshole.  He's always staring at my breasts."

"So sorry, Agnes." Hector said.  "It's worse when he sits at the bar.  Every time some girl comes in here alone, I feel like passing her a can of mace.  I swear, one night he's going to slip some roofies into some poor girl's drink and carry her out of here like some poor doe he shot in the woods."

"I might not mind him so much if he weren't also such a horrible tipper.  It's like everything I do has a price tag attached to it.  If I just bring him a drink, he barely manages ten percent.  If he has dinner and I let him touch my ass, I get twelve percent.  I once heard him bragging to Sabrina that he'd give me fifteen percent only if I let him fuck me." Agnes said.

"Ugh... when Sabrina comes in here and Peters is here, it's double trouble." Hector agreed.  Sabrina was like the female version of Peters and she was quite regular, too.  A lot of the staff members at The Mouthful wondered why she and Peters had never hooked up.  They were both after the same things.  Actually, their situations were reversed.  Sabrina had plenty of sex whenever she wanted it, but she didn't have enough money.  She also had a passel of children from different men.  

Somehow, Peters never considered dating Sabrina.  The staff at The Mouthful often wondered why, but if you know anything about personalities, you know that Sabrina and Dick Peters were simply so much alike that they didn't attract each other.  They were both looking for a special type of person.  They wanted the type of lover who would never say no to them, insult them, or call them out on their bad behaviors.  They both wanted to find someone exceedingly kind and malleable.  A low self-esteem was essential as well.  

Peters sipped his whisky, grimacing as it burned his tongue.  The Mouthful was not so full this evening.  He looked longingly at Agnes, who had a nice enough ass, even if her face was more of the shipwreck variety.  He'd willingly tap her if she'd move beyond her professional obligations as a barmaid.  She clearly wasn't into it or him.

A quick look at his watch told Dick Peters that it was almost time for Happy Hour.  He looked expectantly at the front door, waiting for someone special to stroll in.  Sure enough, the door flew open and in walked Sabrina.  She was not too ugly, but she was rather fat.  Peters' crotch throbbed at the sight of her, even if he would have preferred a slimmer model.  At this point, it didn't matter that she wasn't his type.  When a man is as hungry as Dick Peters was on that evening, he'll think the coarsest hamburger meat is like a t-bone steak.

Sabrina draped her jacket over the back of her bar stool and hefted herself into the seat.  She situated herself carefully so that she had a good view of the bar.  Although she didn't look like one, Sabrina considered herself a queen.  

Peters stared at the middle aged woman sipping a seltzer water.  His dick throbbed again, pleadingly.  He decided to make his move.

Quickly finishing his scotch, Peters stood up and strolled over to Sabrina.  He wanted to be stealthy, but the lingering aroma of turkey shit and blood warned her of his presence.  Secretly, Sabrina was pleased.  She had just been divorced for the third time and it was about time she found a new sugar daddy.  While she would have preferred someone else, she knew she no longer had the goods she'd had in her 20s.  And she smelled desperation...  literally.

Slowly, as seductively as she could manage as she teetered awkwardly on a barstool, Sabrina turned to regard her potential suitor.

"Hi there." Peters said.

"Hello yourself." Sabrina smiled.  Her teeth were pretty straight.  They may have even been her best feature.

"Come here often?" Peters asked, knowing of course that she did.

"Don't be a dick." Sabrina said coyly as she sipped her drink.

"Want to go out to dinner?" Peters asked.

"I guess." Sabrina said, patting her ample stomach, which growled in anticipation.  "I could always use dinner."

Not believing his luck, Peters said, "Let's go!" much quicker than he intended.  He paid for his drink and Sabrina's and they went to the restaurant next door, a slightly more upscale establishment called The Cumster.

The couple sat down to eat, barely speaking as they shoveled the grub down their gullets.  Sabrina was hungry for food.  She was always hungry.  But Peters was hungry for something else.  And now that he'd taken her out to dinner, she owed him.  It took a mere fifteen minutes to finish the meal.

"Want anything else?" Peters asked.

"No... I think I've had enough." Sabrina responded.  "Unless you have a Tums."

"No, I don't..." Peters apologized lamely.  

"Okay." Sabrina said.  "Thanks for dinner."

"You're welcome, I guess." Peters responded.  "Let's go to my place."

"Oh..." Sabrina said, "I can't.  My kids are with my second ex husband and I have to go get them before they become attached to him."

Peters felt his testicles scream in protest.  "Hey!  I just bought you dinner!" he said, thinking of his poor, deprived balls.  "Don't you want a high protein shake for dessert?"

"Yes, you did." Sabrina acknowledged.  "But I have to go and, no, I'm not interested in blowing you.  Maybe some other time... like when I have a cold or something."  She smiled in amusement at her joke.

"You owe me!" Peters insisted.  "I bought you dinner!"

Sabrina looked at the man, sighed, and said "Very well.  Let's go to your place."

They got up and left The Cumster.  It was a short walk to Peters' condo and they were there sooner than Sabrina would have hoped.  But she was ready to get this over with... and, besides, she was a little curious about Peters.  Sometimes really repulsive guys have impressive equipment hiding under their uglies.

"Sorry about the mess." Peters offered.  "Want a drink?"

"No..." Sabrina answered.  "I don't drink.  It's against my religion."

"Oh..." Peters said, realizing that fucking some random guy was probably also a sin.  But reciprocity was reciprocity.  He'd paid the price of admission and now he was ready to get what he paid for.

Sabrina took off her pants, which were way too tight for her.  The smell of unwashed cunt and Staph Aureus filled the room.  Peters didn't notice, because his own stench was mingling with hers and winning the battle of the smells.  Next, she slipped off her shirt, which had clung to her body like poorly clinging Saran Wrap.  She removed her bra and let her breasts sag to her navel.

Peters felt himself perk up as she turned around and positioned herself on the bed, legs spread expectantly and eyes closed.  Peters quickly got out of his clothes and lowered himself down on the supine woman.  Then, he inserted his singularly unimpressive member into Sabrina's love hole.  Just as he was about to start pumping away at her, he let out an ear splitting screech.

"What the HELL is this?" he shouted.

Sabrina smiled wickedly.  "You're mine now, bitch." she said.  "Pay me and I'll take you to a special doctor to have it taken off.

"It hurts!" Peters screamed.  He grabbed at the thing that had seized his penis, but it held fast.  In fact, the more he pulled at it, the tighter it became, seizing his member in an unbreakable hold.  

"My mother recommended it." Sabrina offered... "You know, for all of those guys who think they are owed sex..."

"You fucking BITCH!" Peters bellowed.  "I'll get you for this!"

"No... you're the bitch, Dick." Sabrina said as she stood up.  "I have to go now.  Have a nice evening."

And she very calmly got dressed and sauntered out the door, leaving Dick Peters alone in his misery, his tiny dick hopelessly caught in a Rape-aXe.