Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Adulting" is a ridiculous trend that needs to go away...

I don't know why, but it seems like the older I get, the more annoying some things are to me.  For instance, while I generally don't mind most profanity, I do get annoyed by certain words.  I hate the word, "kiddo".  I've even blogged about it.  For some reason, I cringe when I hear someone calling a child "kiddo".  It makes me think of creepy molesters.

Ditto for the now popular use of the adjective "little" used as a noun.  Instead of using the appropriate noun for a child or a kid, some people use the term "littles", as in "My littles are going to be so cute when they go trick or treating tonight."  I know... it's very anal retentive of me to object to this usage, but I do.

The non-word "adulting" is especially obnoxious to me right now.  I don't understand why we've started bastardizing this perfectly good noun into a verb.  I know, most people don't have time to think about this kind of thing.  I do.  I can either write about this, or I can watch the Duggar family on TV.  So this Halloween morning, I'm going to explain why my teeth set on edge whenever I hear someone refer to "adulting".  Those who simply want an interesting article about how we got to "adulting", can click here.

"Adulting" refers to people who have chronologically reached the age of legal majority doing things that supposedly aren't fun, like buying car insurance, paying credit card bills, or signing a lease.  It's a term typically used by young adults who are making the difficult transition from adolescent to adult.  However, it's also disturbingly used by more established adults... people who should know better.

Besides the fact that adulting is not really a word-- and when I type it, I get the squiggly red line letting me know it's not a word-- I also think there's something wrong with the mindset that being an adult is somehow not fun.  As nostalgic as I can sometimes get for fun times in my childhood, the truth is, I would not want to be a kid again.  Being a kid is not all it's cracked up to be.

My childhood was a lot harder than my adulthood has been so far.  As an adult, I have more say over my life.  When I was a kid, I lived with parents who treated me like I was an imposition and an embarrassment to them.  As an adult, I impose on my husband, but he actually likes having me around.  In between all of those arduous "adult" tasks we do like visiting the dentist and getting the oil changed, we get to travel, eat good food, drink wine, and mostly not answer to anyone but ourselves.

Another reason I dislike the term "adulting" is that I think we already live in a society that worships youth.  Although I don't really feel like it, I am a middle aged adult.  It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was a teenager, but here I am watching my peers become grandparents.  If you manage to survive your youth, I think you should embrace the next life phase.  You are older, more experienced, and know better.  Act like it.  Encourage other people to respect it.

I understand that it's hard to launch into adulthood.  It was hard for me twenty plus years ago.  I think it's even worse today.  In some ways, today's young people have been coddled a lot more than kids of my generation were.  We live in an age where adults are expected to supervise their kids 24/7.  Adults don't let kids work out their differences the way they used to.  In many ways, kids are much less independent than they were.  In other ways, they are expected to be more advanced than my generation was.  Today's young people are expected to be engaged and involved in activities that will make them more attractive to universities.  Too many parents are getting involved in "helping" their kids rather than letting their kids do the work entirely on their own.  Sometimes that results in young people who are overwhelmed by the prospect of taking care of themselves.

Despite the focus on protecting and nurturing kids, we have a lot of well publicized violence in the world.  We have twelve year olds becoming so distraught about living that they jump off interstate overpasses and kill innocent people.  We have young people started on mood altering drugs when they are just kids.  We have kids hanging out online, being exposed to things people of my generation would not know about until many years later.  Despite our modern age and all its conveniences, being young probably is harder in some ways than it used to be.  Instead of simply enjoying the process of growing up, young people are dealing with a lot of stuff that my peer group didn't.  

Higher education is more expensive than ever and many young people are being saddled with onerous student loans that will take many years to retire.  Decent healthcare is in the United States is extremely expensive and plenty of people can't afford health insurance.  It takes a lot of money and a steady job to pay for a place to live, but well-paying steady work is hard to find.  Some young people marry and have children before they are financially ready, which makes things even more complicated.  I understand that making that transition to adulthood is often difficult and can be bewildering.

However, I don't think the answer to confronting the difficulty of launching is infantilizing yourself.  When you speak of "adulting", doing shit that all competent adults must do, you are not embracing what it means to be fully grown and functional.  Why should you cheer about "adulting" because you managed to cook yourself a pot of chili instead of eating a Nutella sandwich for dinner?  Why is it cute and funny to crow about "adulting" for actually washing your dirty underwear instead of spraying the crotch with Lemon Pledge?   These are things that normal, competent, healthy adults have been doing for generations.  Embrace it.

I am especially troubled when I hear young women refer to "adulting".  We women already live in a society where they are often thought of as "less" than men.  Although many brave and courageous women are standing up for equality, too many are trying to make themselves look less competent.  How can you be expect people to respect you when you're cheering about "adulting"?  That kind of mindset has an effect on everyone around you, especially on the job among co-workers and superiors.   If you want to get ahead, you need to embrace adulthood.  So what if people think you're a bitch for being confident in your abilities to function as an adult?  Why not seize it and be proud of it?

Look at all the great things adults can do.  Adults can vote, although after the last election, I kind of wish more of them wouldn't.  At least not the ones who think Donald Trump is presidential material.  Adults can drink wine.  Or adults can choose not to drink wine.  Adults can drive cars, earn money, buy property, make choices about their religious beliefs, get married, have children... escape abusive situations.  The list is endless.  Being an adult is actually pretty great, even if you don't enjoy getting mammograms or prostate checks.  For the record, I have yet to submit to either medical exam... and as an adult, it's my right to make that decision, especially since I don't have a prostate gland.

We do live in a society where people tend to get pissy if you seem to think too highly of yourself.  Hell, people in our local community give me shit about the title of this blog all the time.  They think I'm an asshole because I refer to myself as "overeducated" (which I literally am for what I do everyday).  But hey, while I might not have set the world on fire in the corporate arena or had a big, impressive family full of adorable tykes, I did manage to finish three college degrees.  Next year, I plan to have the student loans paid off.  This year, I paid off my credit cards and invested money in mutual funds.  Those are adult accomplishments and I am proud of achieving them, even though I have had a lot of help from Bill.  Hey-- we are working as a team and enjoying adulthood together!

There is nothing wrong with being an adult.  In my opinion, mocking your adult status by referring to "adulting" is just plain silly.  It's especially silly if you're a woman.  It's bad enough that so many women feel like they have to diminish themselves in order to be liked or appreciated or simply not thought of as a bitch.  Now we have to jokingly refer to "adulting" when we do something that mature people are supposed to do?  Bullshit.    

Monday, October 30, 2017

Reposted review of Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? A Catholic Girl's Memoir

Here's another old Epinions review I am reposting for posterity.  I actually remember enjoying this book by Marie Simas, although it's not a particularly funny read.

Pros: Well-written, fascinating, heartbreaking, poignant...
Cons: Not really a humor book.  Simas is not always likeable.
I love a good memoir.  I also like profanity.  And I was probably attracted to Marie Simas' 2010 book Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? A Catholic Girl's Memoir because of the provocative title, which told me that the author was probably going to be very irreverent.  The price was right, too.  Amazon.com was selling this e-book for 99 cents, though a paperback version is also available for $9.75.  I decided to take the plunge when I saw that the book was supposed to be funny.

Who is Marie Simas and what is her book about?

Born in 1973 and raised in California, Marie Simas grew up Catholic with a super strict father and kindly mother.  She has a younger brother, Johnny, who is apparently the favored child.  Her parents are from The Azores, so she takes family trips to Portugal, both to the mainland and The Azores.  Do Tampons Take Your Virginity is a collection of memories from Simas' upbringing.  Each story is prefaced with a title, a year, and the age Simas was when the incident happened.  She covers her life from childhood until young adulthood.

Not that funny, but very interesting...

I mentioned earlier that this book is supposed to be funny.  It's listed as a "humor" book.  I want to caution prospective readers that this book is mostly not at all funny. Marie Simas grew up with a very abusive father who was overly strict and behaved like a tyrant toward her and her mother.  She describes several heartbreaking incidents that no sane reader would ever find laugh-worthy, scenes that involve physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.  However, Simas does have a very irreverent writing style and uses a lot of profanity.  I like profanity, but even I was getting tired of Simas' constant use of the "f-word".

That being said, I have to admit I was very fascinated by many of Simas' stories about her youth.  Because she presents her life in chronological order, I could see her progress from being a frightened child who was bullied into obeying her father at all times to a defiant young woman who had developed the courage to stand up to her abuser.  I didn't always agree with the way she handled her problems or the way she treated other people, but I will admit that her methods were mostly effective on some level.

Overall, Simas comes across as an understandably angry person who could probably use some intensive therapy.  Sometimes, I empathized with Simas, even as I occasionally thought she came across as obnoxious.  I am myself an obnoxious person who grew up in an abusive environment.  I think I partially understand the anger behind Simas' words and the reasons why she's obnoxious and irreverent.  Every once in awhile, I also saw a softer side of Simas, a side that revealed humility and sadness rather than over-the-top anger and excessive profanity.

Not really that much about being Catholic...

Another thing I want to address is this book's premise of being a "Catholic memoir".  While Simas does mention some things about Catholicism and her father's strictness, I didn't get the sense that this book really had that much to do with religion.  There was one section in which Simas writes about one of her cousins not wanting to divorce her abusive husband because she's Catholic, but overall, this book seemed to be more about a girl growing up with a very abusive father than anything else.  I didn't feel the Catholic religion always had that much to do with her father's propensity toward violence.  In fact, I felt like the family's Old World Portuguese heritage could have had more to do with Simas' father's old school attitudes than anything else.

Simas describes her father's homeland, The Azores, as a very rustic place where people didn't have running water or other modern conveniences and everyone's provincial and backwards and lives in a rural village.  In my mind, even the fact that Simas' dad is from The Azores and had a provincial upbringing shouldn't really have that much to do with the fact that he was an abusive man who repeatedly raped his dying, bedridden wife and beat on his daughter.  I think the man was probably just a criminal.  But, he did seem to have a lot of hang ups about sex and women being attractive or independent.  Maybe that has to do with Catholicism or being Portuguese, but I don't think Simas made that abundantly clear.

Simas is rebellious 

One thing I took from this memoir is that it doesn't pay to be overly strict with children.  It only teaches them to be deceptive and manipulative.  It gives them a reason to be rebellious.  Marie Simas writes that her father used to refer to her as a wh*re, especially when she wore makeup.  He didn't want her to use tampons because he felt they would take her virginity.  He demanded that she follow his every order to the letter or risk being beaten, and he had to approve of all of her friends.

 And so, when Simas became a teenager, she started wearing makeup when her father wasn't around.  She used tampons.  She stayed up after midnight to create art and she used her friends to get her out of the house.  Simas writes that at least one of her friends "cleaned up nice", but was actually a pretty nasty person who was not a good role model.  Simas' father was all about his daughter not being a wh*re, but Simas admits to being very promiscuous and actually being really mean to some of her boyfriends.  She writes about these incidents as if the reader should be cheering her on, but to me, it just seemed like she projected her father onto a lot of the men in her life.  I felt sorry for the guys instead of identifying with Simas.

Simas apparently has issues with fat women

Several times in this book, Simas describes women as chubby or fat.  Her tone regarding these women is generally somewhat derisive and dismissive.  The only heavyset woman Simas doesn't seem to have a significant issue with is her doctor, who helps her decide what to do when she unexpectedly becomes pregnant.  I did think it was telling, though, that Simas referred to so many women she didn't seem to like as "fat", "chubby", and "ugly".  I don't happen to think that fat people are necessarily ugly or unlikeable, nor do I think that thin people are always attractive or appealing, but Simas seems to think the conditions are not mutually exclusive.

Anyway, to wrap this up...

I'm of a mixed mind about Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?.  I think this book is well-written, occasionally poignant, and overall, very interesting reading.  Parts of this book are also suprisingly funny.  I wish Simas had written more about The Azores, which is a place that a lot of Americans never get to see.  And I wish she had written more about her life as an adult.  She describes how her son was born and mentions she has two kids, but she never writes about her second child.

I don't think this book is really that much about Catholicism, nor do I think this book should be considered "humor".  I don't think abuse is particularly funny and a good portion of this book is about child abuse.  While I wasn't offended by the stories about abuse, I want to caution prospective readers that they may be disturbed by some of Simas' childhood memories.  No one should pick this book up and expect to laugh all the way through it.


I give this book three stars and my recommendation.  I think it's worth reading, if you can stomach the language and stories of abuse.  Just don't expect a million laughs.  Amazon.com really ought to reclassify this book as just a memoir so that people looking for humor won't be disappointed.

I will probably read Simas' next book, Douchebag Roulette, because I have a morbid curiosity about it, despite the three star rating I'm giving to Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?.  I think there's a lot to like about Simas as an author, even if I didn't always find her as likeable as a person-- at least not as she comes across in her writing.


Jealousy and insecurity don't make for a happy marriage...

I'm happy to report that my eyes are much better today than they were yesterday.  There's still a little bit of redness, but they don't hurt, aren't watering, and aren't full of gunk.  I am wearing my glasses right now, but may put in fresh lenses later.  I truly hate wearing glasses, so the sooner my eyes heal, the happier I will be.

Since it doesn't hurt to use my eyes today, I'm going to blog about a story I read about this morning on George Takei's Facebook page.  This woman posted on Reddit about how she'd married a widower with a teenaged daughter.  The man and his first wife had been very happily married for many years and he'd had pictures of his late wife all over his house.  Right before they got married, the writer and her new husband bought their own house together.  The writer only put up one photo of the guy's first wife; it was one that included the stepdaughter.    

The second wife was feeling jealous and insecure about her husband's past.  She was upset because he'd had such a long, successful history with his first wife.  Unbeknownst to her husband, she took it upon herself to dispose of his first wife's photos and possessions.  For two years, her husband never noticed.  

Then one day, the second wife's mother-in-law decided she wanted to create something for the stepdaughter, since she was seventeen and about to launch on her own.  At his mother's request, the second wife's husband went looking for photos of his first wife and couldn't find them.  Second wife, who has only known this man for four years and has apparently only been married to this man for just a couple of years, had to confess that she'd thrown away and/or given away the first wife's photos and possessions.  She'd even gotten on his computer and deleted pictures he'd stored of his first wife there.

Naturally, the husband is extremely angry with his wife.  She's now worried that their marriage will end.  But she's also pregnant.  She knows she really screwed up and wants to make amends, but this was such a violation of trust that her husband can barely stand to be around her now. 

I read some of the comments on this article posted on Takei's page.  Most everyone is reacting emotionally and referring to the Reddit user in vile terms.  At least one of my friends, himself a widower, has said he would never forgive anyone who would throw away his late wife's photos and possessions.  

I agree that what this woman did was very wrong.  As much as I despise Bill's ex wife, I never threw away pictures of her or the few mementos Bill had of their tragic union.  I figured they weren't my things to throw away.  Fortunately, the stuff he had from that marriage were mostly packed away in boxes from our many moves.  The one exception was a book Ex sent to Bill before he went to Iraq.

Bill had sent his kids letters before he deployed, in case he ended up dying.  Ex's response was to send Bill a children's book he used to read to their kids with a shitty message about how he needed to learn forgiveness.  I was pretty furious about that and he left it lying around the house for a few weeks.  Fortunately, he was smart enough to send it back to her and he was snarky enough to write "You need this more than I do." on the book cover.  That was the only item I was ever tempted to throw out and, much to my credit, I never did.

When we lived in Texas, Bill finally threw away the stuff from his first marriage.  He had been divorced from his ex for thirteen years at that point, and we had a box that we kept hauling to each new duty station.  He opened it up and realized that the photos of his ex wife and kids, neither of whom were speaking to him at the time, caused him a lot of pain.  So he took it upon himself to rid himself of the baggage.  

I remember when we discovered that box as we were unpacking in Texas.  I found a card he'd given his ex, promising to be a better husband.  It made me feel sick to read it, since Bill is a fantastic husband.  Around that same time, I also found old emails between the ex and Bill that were sent just a few years after the gushy cards he'd given her.  I realized that the gushy cards had been a big sham.  He'd given them to her to try to hold on to his turd of a first marriage.  It was a losing proposition, much to my good fortune.  

Still, even as I recognize that Bill's first marriage was shitty, I still wouldn't take it upon myself to dump his property or dispose of his memories.  So I completely understand why people are totally outraged by what the Reddit user did.  Her situation is very different from mine.  Her husband had a wonderful first marriage that produced a lovely daughter with whom he still has a relationship.  He loved his wife dearly and probably would still be with her if she hadn't died.  Moreover, it hasn't been that long that he's been married to his second wife.  I would imagine that after she did what she did, he may not feel like he even knows her.  I can't blame him for being furious.

At the same time... I have to admit that I have some empathy for the woman who wrote this letter.  Even though my situation is very different than hers is, I know what it's like to be married to a man who has a long history with another woman.  Good or bad, you weren't there for those years.  His family will have memories of her and they will talk about her.  Even if those memories are bad, they don't include you.  It can cause you to feel insecure.  I will admit that one of the main reasons I don't get along with Bill's stepmother is because even after fifteen years of marriage, I still feel like an interloper when I'm around her.  Ex didn't even make it to ten years with Bill, but they had kids together and it just feels like even though she's a horribly abusive cunt, Bill's stepmom prefers her.

I can understand how, when you're dating a man and he has pictures of his first wife all over the house, it can stir up feelings of jealousy.  Frankly, I think I would have had a long talk with the guy and asked him if he was truly ready to move on to a new relationship before I agreed to marry him.  I will concede that buying a house together and only putting up one photo of the first wife was a good initial compromise.  It's too bad they didn't think to either put most of the first wife's stuff in storage or have it stored by a relative who could have saved it for the daughter.  That way, it would have been out of the house, yet safe from the second wife's hormonally charged whims.  Of course, there is a big difference between empathy and sympathy.  I empathize in that I know where the feelings are coming from.  I don't sympathize because I don't condone the woman's behavior.   

I think the letter writer acted irrationally.  What she did was reprehensible.  However, she clearly sees that she was wrong and it sounds like she has remorse.  Moreover, the fact that she's pregnant complicates things.  Because now, if this couple splits up, they will have a child that will be in the middle of a nasty rift.  I hope this couple is able to find a good counselor who can help them move past this.  If there's still any love there, it would be better for their unborn child to have access to both parents.

I also think this situation is one that illustrates just how important it is to be very ready before you commit to marriage.  It's possible the husband wasn't quite ready to move on, although if he had packed up the pictures and wasn't upset that there was only one up with his first wife, maybe he had moved on.  The second wife was definitely not mature enough to take on the role of second wife and stepmother.  I feel especially sorry for the stepdaughter and the unborn child.  I hope this couple can make amends or, at least work things out well enough so their unborn child won't start life with fucked up parents from the get go.  On the other hand, this may be one mistake the husband won't be able to forgive.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

My eye hurts...

Lately, I've been having trouble with inflamed, itchy, watery eyes.  At the same time, I hate wearing my glasses, so I've been struggling with my contact lenses.  I wore my lenses for a couple of hours yesterday and am now paying the price.  My eyes are all bloodshot and the left one is actually pretty painful.  It hurts less when I close my eyes.  I'd like to be sleeping in a dark room right now, but the dogs kind of kicked me out of bed.  So here I sit with a stinging red eye that is watering like a faucet.

I need to get in to see an eye doctor anyway, because I need a new prescription.  It's a pain in the ass, though.  I wish I'd had my eyes lasered.

I guess blogging today is going to be a bust.  It hurts to see.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Canadian Cops...

Another thing I've been doing lately to stay out of stupid online dramas is watching Netflix.  I first got a Netflix subscription in 2001, but I cancelled it when we moved to Texas.  Later, I restarted it in Germany, but never used it because I was sucked into online dramas.  I restarted it in the spring so I could see what the whole "13 Reasons Why" hullabaloo was about and haven't bothered to cancel it again.  By the way, I didn't like "13 Reasons Why", and probably won't bother watching any subsequent seasons.

The other day, while I was vegetating on our crappy futon, I came across a show called "Under Arrest".  It features Canadian Mounties who aren't mounted on horses, but are riding around in Canada's cities picking up criminals.  It's much like the Fox show, "Cops", which I used to watch fairly regularly when I was younger.  I have read that "Under Arrest" was produced in the early 90s and was originally called "To Protect and Serve".  It ran for six seasons.  I think I'm currently on season 3 or 4.

I'm surprised by how much I enjoy Canada's version of "Cops".  First off, there's a lot of really foul language.  They don't censor most of it.  Because it was filmed in the early nineties, the women all have mall bangs and big hair and the guys have mustaches and mullets.  Everyone has a very Canadian accent, too.  

There's also a lot of nudity.  Yesterday, I saw an episode featuring a barefoot woman wearing a pair of jogging pants and only a pushup bra that was a couple of cup sizes too small for her.  She was standing outside in chilly Canada with her cups spilling over.  The police officer was very solicitous as he cuffed her, covering her with a jacket because "it's cold out tonight" and having her stand on a plastic bag.  She told the cops she had a two year old child who was waiting for her in her car, which was parked away from where they were standing.  Naturally, the police were concerned, but it turned out that was a bullshit story she made up to take the heat off of her situation.

In another episode, a derelict named Bruce is picked up.  He's all scraggly looking.  The cops know him because they've had to pick him up hundreds of times.  Apparently, he had inherited a lot of money, but fell into hard times because he's an incorrigible drunk.  He gets picked up and they haul him to jail, but he's surprisingly good natured about it.  He sings Bing Crosby style Christmas songs in the back seat of the squad car as the cops laugh.  One of them asks if he knows any other songs, then volunteers "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to jail I go!"

In another episode, the cops stop a guy who seems very upset for some reason.  He has several bags of groceries and keeps telling the police to leave him alone.  The police hesitate to leave him alone because they think there is something medically wrong with him.  He repeatedly moans that they need to leave him alone.  At one point, the cop says, "You're not going anywhere until the ambulance evaluates you."  But the guy keeps telling them to leave him alone.  Finally, they do.  I was surprised that the police were so insistent about the guy's welfare, even though ultimately he was allowed to leave.

Many times, the arrestees become profane and combative because they are usually wasted on drugs or alcohol.  When they become combative, the cops take them down and often hogtie them.  Then, they kind of pick up the arrestees like a suitcase or a cord of wood.  Hands are cuffed behind the back and legs are tied to the cuffs, then the officers kind of pick them up and carry them that way.  It looks very uncomfortable and yet kind of laughable at the same time.  There's a part of me that feels a little sorry for the people being arrested and another part that thinks the predicament is kind of funny.

I had a good laugh when one cop said, really casually, "Someone just threw a crack pipe out the window."  It's just not the kind of thing someone like me hears on the regular.  But I do have a friend who is a federal marshal and he corroborates that police work can be fully sometimes.  He says he wishes he'd kept a journal of his earlier days.  I bet he's seen some really weird stuff.

I think this show is only on Netflix right now.  It's surprisingly fun to watch, though... and the fact that it was made in the 90s makes it even funnier.  One guy even references The Kids in the Hall, which is one of my favorite comedy troupes.  I may have to veg out today and watch some more.

Here's a scene from an episode I haven't seen.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sex with the Grim Reaper...

Yesterday, I was playing the Sims 4, a new pastime that is eating up some of the time I used to spend engaging in the stupid online dramas.  One of my Sims is "insane".  She aged up while I wasn't playing her family, so she was assigned traits that turned her crazy.  She's probably my favorite of my Sims so far because she's totally nuts.  When she was a teenager, she'd lie in bed and cry herself to sleep because the game had assigned her a love of the outdoors.  When she'd go outside, she'd suddenly be happy.

Recently, the matriarch of my largest Sims family died of old age.  She was a mother of eight and the grandmother of many.  Her youngest had not yet reached teen-hood.  Right now, she's being raised by her older brother, who is still a teen.  A bunch of Sims witnessed the death, which occurred right after the matriarch came home from work.  She dropped right there on the sidewalk in front of her house.  The Grim Reaper showed up and sent her to eternity.

Afterwards, the Grim Reaper apparently decided to crash a picnic.  That's where he ran into Millie, my insane Sim.  Much to my surprise, they struck up a conversation and Millie even developed a crush on the Grim Reaper.  They were cloudgazing together, flirting with each other, and even embracing.  I had some thoughts that maybe one day they'd fuck, but then I spoiled the suspense by reading up on Sims sex with the Grim Reaper.  It appears that it can't happen.

My poor, insane, entertaining Millie will probably die a virgin or marry some guy that she drives crazy.  Or, perhaps she will turn into a vampire, since the game also randomly assigned her the ability to do that.  I don't actually like the weird creature Sims that the game designers throw in there.  I was quite a fan of the old Sims 2 franchise and I never turned my Sims into zombies, aliens, or vampires.  I prefer them to be normal.  However, I can't deny that the Vampire Sims are kind of interesting since they hide in plain view.

Millie was talking to this one Sims chick who, I could tell, was a vampire because of the way she swooped.  But I made Millie's dad, who is now also dead, flirt with the vampire and that pissed off Millie's mom, who is an evil Sim.  So now, the vampire won't come over to visit.  I will have to hook them up somewhere else.  Since Millie can't fuck the Grim Reaper, I think maybe I will make her a lesbian.  She and the vampire can get it on and adopt a baby named Carlos.

I never got into the Sims 3.  I tried playing it, but it turned me off.  I got out of the habit of wasting time with the Sims because I later bought a Mac.  For some reason, the game designers aren't as quick to provide content for Mac users.  

The Sims 2 kept me sane the first time we lived in Germany because in those days, we didn't really do Facebook and I didn't blog.  I spent hours playing and downloading custom content, which made the game a lot better, but filled up my hard drive.  I decided to play Sims 4 because I heard it was more like Sims 2 and I figured it would be a good way to distract myself while Bill was out of town.  It turns out I was right.  I can see myself getting hooked on the Sims again and buying all of the crap that comes with being a Sims addict.  It beats getting sucked into online dramas.

She's nuts!

Reposted book review: Whateverland, co-written by Martha Stewart's daughter, Alexis...

Here's another book review I managed to salvage from Epinions.com.  This one is about Martha Stewart and was co-written by her daughter, Alexis.

Pros: Somewhat interesting and funny.  Hutt is very likeable.
Cons: Stewart comes off as a complete bitch.  Doesn't really deliver on the hype about Martha.
I love a good tell-all, especially when it comes to celebrities and their offspring.  I don't really care that much about Martha Stewart's show.  But I have seen plenty of evidence in the media that she's a difficult person.  So I have to admit rubbing my hands in glee when I learned that her daughter, Alexis Stewart, and Alexis Stewart's former radio show partner, Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, had written a book called Whateverland: Learning to Live Here (2011).  I had heard the book described as a "tell-all" about what it was like to have Martha Stewart as a mother, so that was what I was expecting.

As it turns out, this book is not really a tell-all about what it was like to grow up with Martha Stewart as a mom.  It's really a book consisting of anecdotes and short snippets about what Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt think about various aspects of living and loving.  Interestingly enough, Stewart and Hutt appear to be diametrically opposed in just about every facet of life.  And yet they're apparently still friends.

These two forty something authors spent six years working together on a radio program.  Both had privileged upbringings, though Stewart claims that Martha only lavished her when it suited her.  She writes in one chapter that she never had the money to buy a crappy stereo, but tradition loving Martha Stewart would fork over $10,000 for a ball gown.  Alexis Stewart comes across as difficult and bitchy, taking a great deal of personal pride in being painfully blunt and obnoxious.  She's very thin and takes a dim view of overweight people and anyone who eats meat.  In all honestly, Alexis Stewart seems like an unhappy, unpleasant, narcissistic person.  I will admit, however, that I did inwardly laugh at some of her caustic comments, which often have a ring of truth to them.  Stewart reminds me a bit of one of my sisters, who can be hilarious in her nastiness.

Hutt, by contrast, was raised by parents involved in the entertainment industry.  She grew up chubby.  Her mother, who died of pancreatic cancer in her 60s, used to hassle Hutt about her weight.  Hutt finally got svelte as an adult and comes across as warm and sincere.  She seems very likeable, thoughtful, and kind and it's amazing that she and Stewart have enough in common to sustain a friendship.  I found myself drawn to her warmth and sincereity, even as I was often repelled by Stewart's bitchiness.

This book includes a few photos.  They are sprinkled throughout the book somewhat randomly and were quite clearly visible on my Kindle.

My thoughts

I'm of a mixed mind about Whateverland.  It's well-written and somewhat entertaining.  It's easy to read, mainly owing to the short snippets written alternately by Hutt and Stewart.  I'm sure a lot of people will buy this book for Stewart's take, but I actually enjoyed more of what Hutt had to say.  Hutt seems like someone I would enjoy having as a friend, while Alexis Stewart comes across as selfish, cold, and neurotic.  Some of Stewart's revelations are interesting and funny... even though I don't think I'd enjoy having her as an acquaintence.  I actually doubt she has many real friends... unless she is very different in person than the way she comes across in this book.

Anyway, I will caution those who are tempted to buy this book to get the scoop on Martha to reconsider.  If you want to read what Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt think about life, you will probably be happier with Whateverland.  As for me, I enjoyed the book somewhat, even though it wasn't really what I thought it was going to be.  I give it three stars.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Creepy Christian caregivers from my hometown...

I guess today's earlier post intrigued me, because I've spent the past couple of hours digging up old news about churches in the county where I grew up.  Gloucester, Virginia was a pretty low key, rural kind of place back in the day, but there was the occasional scandal.  Today's story has a long history that came to a head in the 1990s.  It's a bit juicy and convoluted.

I moved to Gloucester County in June 1980.  I was eight years old.  That was the same year Hopesville Boys Ranch was closed, because new therapeutic methods were allowing families to keep their troubled kids at home instead of sending them to "homes" to live.

Hopesville Boys Ranch was opened in 1967 by the late Reverend Frank Seal and his wife, Ruth.  Reverend Seal was a Methodist minister who had worked in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia for years before he and his wife purchased 30 acres of land in Dutton, right on the border between Gloucester and Mathews counties.  When the ranch closed in 1980, it was later reopened as a Christian school, Hopesville Christian Academy.

About thirty years ago, when I was about 14 or 15, I went through a brief phase when I rode my bike from Gloucester to Mathews just for kicks.  I'd go twenty or thirty miles just because I felt like it, which seems especially weird, since I had a horse at the time and probably should have been at the barn.  I remember riding through the small, rural community of Dutton and saw the signs for Hopesville Christian Academy.

I remember wondering what went on at the school.  I knew it was really tiny.  Even back in those days, religion kind of gave me the creeps.  I knew very little about the Christian school, only that it sat kind of eerily on the side of the road.  I didn't know anyone who went there, though, and in time forgot about it.  The school closed at the end of the 1988-89 school year.  Other Christian schools had opened in the area, diminishing the need for Hopesville Christian Academy.  I graduated from Gloucester High School in 1990 and spent the next nine years moving back and forth to Gloucester. I went to college, served in the Peace Corps, and finally, in 1999, left for graduate school.  I have not lived in Gloucester since 1999 and have not visited since 2010.

Many years after I rode past it on my bike, I suddenly remembered that Christian school and home.  I didn't remember the name of the place, but I remembered what it looked like and where it was.  I started obsessively digging and finally found some news reports about it reopening as a children's home back in the early 1990s.  A 1994 news article reported that the facility had been reopened as a home for abused, abandoned, and neglected boys and girls.

Frank Seal and his wife still ran Hopesville, although they also had help from two daughters, Joyce Clarke and Sheila Boettcher, and Boettcher's husband, Gerald.  Gerald Boettcher had been in the Coast Guard and, I gather, had ties to nearby Milford Haven, a tiny Coast Guard station in Mathews, Virginia.  In all my years living in Gloucester, I don't think I ever visited Milford Haven.  I doubt there was much to see there, anyway.

The facility, renamed Hopesville Ministries Children's Home, was granted an initial permit that allowed them to accept six children.  Later, they were licensed for up to 36 children, and had community support in renovating the facilities to include two cottages, a gymnasium, and an office.  Sheila Boettcher had said that residents would be referred from across the state by the Division of Social Services and privately by parents and grandparents of children in dysfunctional home environments.  Eventually, there were also plans to reopen the Christian school, although the first residents would be attending Gloucester County public schools and getting therapy from local practitioners.  It all sounded so... "hopeful".

Just five years later, in June of 1999, the director of the home, 46 year old Gerald Boettcher, was in the news.  Mr. Boettcher, who had left the Coast Guard and was also working as a contract driver delivering mail, had attempted suicide.

Boettcher had been accused of committing sex crimes against two girls who had been living at the home between June 1, 1995 and June of 1999.  Aware that he was being investigated, Boettcher threatened to kill himself by placing a gun in his mouth.

Boettcher was taken to Riverside Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester, where he was later arrested.  For some reason, he was later taken to Central State Hospital, the state run psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, which is south of Richmond.  I would have expected him to go to Eastern State Hospital, in Williamsburg.  Williamsburg is closer to Gloucester than Petersburg is, but perhaps the state divides these cases by region.  I know Gloucester is often lumped in with Richmond, even though Richmond is not closer as the crow flies.

Boettcher was accused of forcible sodomy, sexual penetration and indecent liberties with both girls and, it seemed, more charges were likely.  At the time of Boettcher's arrest, the victims were 16 and 17 years old.  The Division of Social Services took the six children who were at the home and sent them back to their parents and/or relatives.  None of the children were from Gloucester; apparently, the local social services agency had never referred anyone to that facility.

Interestingly enough, I was living in Gloucester at that time, but I don't remember this story in the news.  Back then, I read the newspaper every day.

In December of 1999, Boettcher pleaded guilty to five sex charges, bringing his grand total of guilty pleas to eight.  His mother-in-law, Ruth Seal, and the rest of his family and friends reportedly "seemed stunned and angry" at the outcome of the trial.  They repeatedly said that he didn't do it.  Ruth Seal was upset that she didn't get to testify.  Boettcher's wife, Sheila Boettcher, told the mother of one of the victims that she hoped she "rotted in Hell."

Despite his family's outrage and horror, it does appear that the evidence against Boettcher was overwhelming.  Boettcher admitted to both a Gloucester County Sheriff's Office investigator and a hospital crisis worker that he had been having sexual contact with the girls.  Additionally, a computer forensics analyst had hacked into Boettcher's computer and found documents for the "Golden Hearts Club".  One of the victims, then sixteen, also testified that Boettcher had her stand naked and recite vows to enter the Golden Hearts Club.  He had evidently told her that she "had qualities he hadn't seen in anybody in a long time."  The victim said she had moved to Hopesville when she was fourteen and Boettcher had started having sexual intercourse with her two months later.  The offenses took place at the home, in Boettcher's vehicles, and at a construction site where Boettcher and his wife were building a home.

Boettcher was finally caught when another resident saw him kissing the girl intimately.  The resident told a housemother, who then contacted social services.  At that point, local law enforcement became involved.

Boettcher faced up to 45 years in prison for his crimes.  In Mach 2000, he was sentenced to 19 years, with ten suspended.  I see Boettcher was defended by Michael Soberick.  I remember in the late 1980s, Mr. Soberick ran for public office in Gloucester.  I only remember that because I was taking a high school journalism course at the time and, as part of that course, attended a question and answer session he gave.  I remember it being boring, except that there was a guy in my class there upon whom I had a massive crush.  My dad had taken me to the session, which was held at Rappahannock Community College.  My dad said my crush looked like a "wimp".  Good thing I ended up with Bill, who did meet with my dad's approval.    

I see Boettcher is now listed as a registered sex offender and apparently lives in Dutton.  His neighbors evidently aren't too pleased, although he has apparently not caused any problems since he got out of prison.  I also found the Hopesville property listed for sale, although there appears to be a discrepancy in the years reported when the buildings were erected.  Frank Seal, who founded Hopesville in its many incarnations, died in 2003.

It's amazing what a long memory, a little morbid curiosity, and a lot of nosey proclivities will get you.  Incidentally, this is certainly not the first time a trusted man from the area where I grew up turned out to be a pervert.  In 2008, there was a huge scandal in nearby Middlesex County when it turned out that the recently retired social worker, Arthur Bracke, had been molesting boys in his care for years.  I have written about Mr. Bracke, now mercifully deceased, several times.  Although I would be the first to say that men are often unfairly accused of being monsters, the evidence is clear that sometimes the ones we trust the most turn out to be total creeps.  It also drives home the fact that kids who go to foster care sometimes wind up in situations as bad or worse than the ones they've escaped.

I don't know much about the late Reverend Frank Seal, but it does sound like he was probably a good man who had good intentions when he started his boys' home and Christian school.  I'm sure this whole catastrophe was awful for him and his family.  In more than one article about his school/home, he is quoted as saying "It has been my life...  Jesus said, `Suffer the little children to come unto me.' I've tried to live up to that.''

There were even some people testifying in favor of Mr. Boettcher, who, like many sex offenders, wasn't a complete monster.  Of course, they almost never are "complete monsters".  If they were monsters, they would have a much harder time getting access to their victims.  But anyway, I do remember Hopesville Christian Academy and how creepy it seemed as I passed it on my bike thirty years ago.  I guess my intuition was dead on again.      

Fasting for God...

I'm not sure why I haven't yet, but it appears that I have never ranted about extreme fasting for religious reasons...  If I am mistaken, please accept my apologies.  (ETA: I see I did post the video, but not the discussion.) 

A lot of religious people fast on a less extreme basis.  Faithful and healthy Mormons do it the first Sunday of every month.  On F&T day, Mormons skip two consecutive meals.  They also don't drink any liquids.  It coincides with their fast and testimony meeting, which has hungry people getting up and sharing their testimony.  When it's time for the F&T meeting, Mormons are expected to tell everyone about how they came to the religion and how it's made their lives better.  This is done to prove the church is "true".

Pardon me for a slight digression.  When Mormons talk about getting up and speaking about their faith, they often say "I want to bear my testimony."  But I never know if that's the right spelling/usage of the word.  I usually see it spelled "bearing", but it also seems right to use the word "baring".  "Baring" can mean "stripping down or making naked", while "bearing" can mean "enduring".  Maybe it's better to say a person "bares" their testimony as everyone else "bears" listening to them.

I've never actually been to a Mormon church meeting, so I have not witnessed a F&T Sunday.  I have heard and read more than a few stories, though.  From what I understand, sometimes those meetings can get kind of weird.  Sometimes I have heard they can be hilarious, which may be worth the price of a little stomach growling.

Here's a video from one F&T meeting that got "interesting".  This brave guy used it to express his negative opinions about Proposition 8 in California.  Notice what happens when his talk gets "offensive".  I'm pretty sure I've shared this before, but it bears repeating.

Here's a parent spoon feeding a testimony to a kid.  This happens to kids every month.  I'm sure it's very pleasant to behold, especially when you're jonesing for an Egg McMuffin.  

And here, a brave 12 year old girl named Savannah comes out during F&T.  Notice that she is asked to sit down after about two minutes of bravely testifying that she's gay.  To the church's credit, they do let her say a lot more than I would have expected.

Anyway, enough about the Mormons.  My only point in posting the F&T videos is to show that this is what happens on their day of fasting.  You can imagine that things can get nutty because people often get emotional when they're hungry.  Fasting is supposed to make worshipers more open to receiving the spirit, but I speak from experience that being hungry makes people quicker to emote and, perhaps, a bit more malleable.

Muslims also fast.  They do it during Ramadan, which involves about a month of eschewing food and water from sunrise to sunset.  They are also expected to refrain from sexual relations during this time.  

Catholics observe fasting and abstinence at different times of the year.  They fast for different reasons, to practice self-discipline, to achieve spiritual focus, and to perform penance.  

Although fasting is a common practice among religious folks of every stripe, some people really do take it to extremes.  Devout Christian Pat Boone fasted with his family regularly.  His eldest daughter, Cherry, suffered from anorexia nervosa and used fasting for religious reasons as an excuse for not eating.  Below is a quote from the book, Almost Anorexic, by Jennifer J. Thomas and Jenni Schaefer, who quoted Cherry's memoir about her experiences with anorexia nervosa in the 70s.

For example, as Cherry Boone O’Neill (daughter of American singer Pat Boone) recounted in her anorexia memoir Starving for Attention, “Fasting on Thanksgiving Day had really saved me. . . . When I was asked why I had not loaded up my plate like everyone else I just answered with spiritual overtones, ‘I’m fasting today,’ and that was that!”

I have reviewed the book, Almost Anorexic.
I have also reviewed Cherry Boone O' Neill's book, Starving for Attention.

Below is a video I found a couple of years ago.  I was sure I had written about this, but I guess I never did.  

In 2009, Jewish YouTuber aaroncohen went on three separate consecutive forty day fasts...  She drank water and took a daily vitamin.  

Notice at the beginning of the video, female user aaroncohen (whose real name is apparently Olivia) is quite overweight and weighs 182 pounds.  When she speaks, she sounds pretty normal as she explains why she's going on her first forty day fast.  She's videoing it for others so they can "fast for God" as well.  As the video progresses, she says she's feeling stronger spiritually, but she's feeling physically tired and extremely hungry.  By the end of the video, which is after 123 days of not eating, she's skin and bones.  Her eyes look huge on her gaunt face and she's talking like she's a bit mentally ill.

Olivia complains about being very hungry, but insists she's doing this for God.  By day 35 of her third 40 day fast, she's emaciated, but quite animated as she talks about being "refreshed".  She seems to have more energy, but also sounds a little crazy and looks drawn and sick.  Yet she's happily crowing about being "allowed" to eat the next day.  

I have to wonder if God really wants people to do this to themselves.  I also wonder if the people in this woman's life were not alarmed by this behavior.  I see on her channel that she broke her fast by eating four ounces of steak.  She later drinks a lot of milk, which made her really sick.  She lost over sixty pounds on her fast and a month later, looks healthier and less gaunt.

Looking better here.

And here she is six months after the fast, pregnant with her eighth child.


In 2014, she was pregnant with number 10.  She was 36 years old.  

It looks like aaroncohen (Olivia) signed off YouTube after these videos were made.  I see nothing new posted by her from the past three years.  Many people were attracted to her videos and more than a couple of people have accused her of having an eating disorder.  I don't think she had an eating disorder, because she doesn't seem freaked out about gaining weight when she's finished.  I do think that during her fasts, her thinking became a bit muddled.  She speaks only of food and God, although clearly she has seven kids to take care of.

I suppose I can understand why some viewers were upset watching her because her videos could serve as "thinspiration" for people with eating disorders.  This is the kind of thing that serves as an example for anorexics to follow, although in fairness to Olivia, people with anorexia and, to a lesser extent, bulimia, will look for anything to serve as "thinspiration".  It takes a lot of will to deliberately starve yourself until you get to a point at which being hungry starts to feel "good" and euphoria kicks in, so people with eating disorders look for ways to get to that point.  "Competing" with someone thinner, who seems "stronger" in their desire to be thin is one way they get past those initial and extreme hunger pangs.  Watching the first video, in which you can see an actual progression in Olivia's body, could certainly serve as a tool for a person suffering from an eating disorder.

If you've been reading this blog, you may already have an idea of what I think of religion.  I'm not quite an atheist.  I do believe in God.  I don't believe in being extreme about God.  I think many people complicate their lives with religion, which I don't think necessarily has anything to do with God.  I think a person can believe in God and not be particularly religious.  I have never been religious, but I have always believed in God, if that makes any sense.  I think a person can have a relationship with God and it can (and probably should) be private.  But that's just me.

I think most people are trying to get through life however they can.  If religion brings comfort, who am I to disdain it?  I suppose there is nothing wrong with being religious; except, of course, when religion is used to hurt or shame other people for living their lives.  I have often seen religions used as a weapon and a means of control, which is probably the main reason why I am not a fan of most of them.  I have seen religion used as an excuse to abuse other people, and for people to abuse or even kill themselves.

I do think that going on three consecutive forty day fasts is unhealthy and actually kind of selfish, since Olivia was also taking care of her children during that time.  Listen to her speak.  She speaks only of God and hunger in her short videos.  I wonder what she talked about with her children as she was doing this to herself.  Like I said, it takes a lot of focus, will, and self-discipline to stop eating when you're not suffering from an illness.  She must have been focusing a lot on herself to be able to accomplish this, which means she was not focusing on her kids.  At the same time, she posted many, many videos which a whole lot of people have viewed.  She says she's doing it for those who also want to fast.  I have to wonder if it's not also for attention.

I see Olivia has posted videos of her husband, Aaron Cohen in a coma.  He died July 30, 2014 at age 35.  According to the obituary, it looks like he was a follower of the Assemblies of God as well as Judaism.  I hope Olivia and the kids are okay.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

When you don't care enough to spam the very best...

I remember back in the 80s, Hallmark greeting cards had an ad campaign that went, "Hallmark.  When you care enough to send the very best."  

Here's an ad from 1983, although that campaign went on for many years.

I think greeting cards have kind of gone out of style.  Everyone's on the Internet nowadays and they send e-cards by Jacquie Lawson (or, at least I do).  But people are still sending shit.  If you hang around on social media for any length of time, you will no doubt eventually see a spammy attention whoring post like the one below...

I've seen this one several times.

Can I just go on record to say that I hate these kinds of posts?  First off, it lays a guilt trip.  People who don't respond with "done" and fail to copy and paste this piece of crap are evidently not "real friends".  Secondly, the person who copied and pasted this poorly formatted stuff didn't actually write the words themselves.  They either fell victim to the shaming or they actually believe in it themselves.  If you really think of me as a friend, whether or not I respond to your stupid copy/paste spam demands is not going to make a lick of difference.  True friends don't ask their friends to prove they like them by sharing other people's poorly conceived Facebook posts.

Listen, I hate cancer as much as anyone does.  I've lost two beloved dogs to cancer.  My mom has had it.  Several friends and relatives have had it and a few have died from it.  So of course I think it's important to bring awareness to cancer and, if prayer is your thing, I think you should pray for anyone suffering from cancer.  Certainly you should offer help and comfort to them if they want or dneed it.  But sharing this kind of shit isn't effective.  What purpose does it serve?  At best, it's "armchair activism", which really doesn't amount to a hill of shit.

The end of the post mentions empathy, and reads "If you need anything, don't hesitate to call me, I'll be there for you."  And yet, the person sharing this 1. didn't write it themselves, and 2. has either fallen prey to or resorted to friend shaming and guilt tripping.  How can I trust that the people who share this bullshit would actually be there for me if I needed them?  They can't even take the time to compose their own Facebook posts.  They also DEMAND that I perpetuate this silly trend or else I'm an asshole with no compassion.  

Here's another thing.  I would never post something like this on Facebook because 1., I prefer to write my own posts, and 2., I can't stand reading poorly written, badly edited, and unformatted crap like this.  I wonder if the original poster has heard of paragraph breaks.  What about commas and semicolons?

I see someone has made a Facebook page for this annoying phenomenon.  I might actually like the page, but that in and of itself seems kind of like a stupid thing to do.  Why not just stop trying to insist that your "friends" copy and paste stuff on their Facebook wall to please or prove themselves to you?  Stop asking them to type "done", "amen", or "yes".  You post your shit on Facebook and I'll post mine, and I'm sure everything will work out just fine!  

Lest you think I don't have a heart... I really do.  But if I have to prove to you I have a heart by sharing this kind of stupid bullshit, then perhaps we should re-evaluate our friendship.

Nurse practitioners are "dumber" than doctors?

For the record, I don't believe that to be the case.  I have many friends who are nurses and amazing at what they do.  Frankly, I find most of them more tolerable to be around, too.  I have also seen a few good physicians' assistants.

Today's post comes courtesy of a thread on RfM.  Someone posted a link to a news piece about Dr. David Glener, a faculty member at Florida State University.  On October 14th, a post that appeared on Doximity, a social networking site for clinicians, Glener apparently typed,

"Nurse practitioners are not, I repeat, not physicians. They lack the education, IQ, and clinical experience. There is no depth of understanding. They are useful but only as minions. Not politically correct, but true. Who would you want your family member seen by-- a nurse or a physician?"

The next day, Glener allegedly followed up with this:

“You can be competent Nurse Practitioners, but you are still not physicians. You are subordinates. If you are so proud of being NPs, why do you allow patients to call you ‘doctor’ and you don’t correct them. You think it’s cute to be “Dr. Susie” or “Dr. Brian.” Ever see a CRNA in an operating room when something goes wrong? They freak out and scream for the anesthesiologist, whenever something does not go according to plan. And before you claim I am “sexist,” my sister is a physician and so is my daughter and they both agree with me.”

Naturally, those posts inflamed a few people.  For his part, Glener claims that his account was hacked and he had asked Doximity to remove the posts.  Still, damage has been done and many nursing students were offended.  Judy McFetridge-Durdle, Florida State University's nursing school dean, has reached out to students and alumni and said that Florida State University is "immensely proud of our nursing students and alumni."  A nurse blogger named Danielle has written a pretty good rebuttal, too.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up Dr. Glener.  Apparently, he's really taking some heat for the comments attributed to him (and personally, I have a feeling he did post them).  Glener, who is an anesthesiologist and a faculty member on FSU's Fort Pierce campus, now has very low ratings on several doctor review sites.  I'm pretty sure those ratings appeared after the derogatory comments about nurses appeared on Doximity.

I don't condone the negative ratings people are leaving on the review sites because I don't think it's fair to rate a doctor you've never seen.  Although Glener's comments make him look like a pompous asshole, they are not necessarily a reflection of his clinical skills.  On the other hand, as someone who Googles, I probably would think twice about seeing him because he does come across as elitist, egotistical, and small-minded.  Nursing is a different profession than medicine is; therefore, nurses have skills that doctors don't necessarily have.  The reverse is also certainly true.  These are fields that should be complementing each other, not competing with each other.

I think a lot of people are pretty narrow minded and downright ignorant about certain subjects.  I, myself, was guilty of once being narrow minded about the value of studying fields that appeared to be similar.  When I was earning my MSW, I had a professor who had a MSW, a Ph.D. in social work, and was also a LPC (licensed professional counselor).  It seemed superfluous that this man would bother to get a master's degree in social work and another master's degree in counseling.  Many social workers work as counselors, after all.  Why spend the extra time in school to earn counseling credentials in two disciplines?  But the professor pointed out that while the disciplines share some similarities, they are, in fact, different and employ different philosophies and techniques.

Nurses can become nurse practitioners, which gives them the right to treat patients under the supervision of doctors.  Nurses can also earn doctoral degrees, which would mean they would have the right to be called "doctor".  Physicians' Assistants also treat patients under the supervision of doctors.  They may not spend as much time or money on their schooling, but sometimes they can come up with answers that doctors can't, simply because they look at solving problems in different ways.  Everybody's different, too.  A person doesn't have to be super educated to be very intelligent.  On the other hand, I have run across my fair share of idiots with MDs and Ph.Ds, too.

Personally, I believe that there's much more to excellent healthcare than seeing a doctor who is very well educated and has spent long hours in training.  A doctor could be the most intelligent person on the planet who doesn't actually care about people.  Doctors like that are pretty worthless, in my view.  I won't want to see a doctor who doesn't listen to me, take me seriously, or treats me with cold indifference.  If I don't see the doctor (and I pretty much never do) because he or she has an off putting personality, it really won't matter how smart and educated he or she is.

Bill often told me when he was still on active duty that the enlisted ranks of the military were the backbone of the entire operation.  Officers may typically (but not always) be more educated.  They also earn more money and outrank enlisted servicemembers.  However, an officer would be an idiot not to listen to an experienced non-commissioned officer.  I think the same applies to many doctors, especially the ones straight out of medical school.

A doctor may technically outrank a nurse, but it would be foolish for the doctor to discount the nurse's experiences and contributions to healthcare delivery.  I think it's a shame that so many people, especially those who claim to be educated and experienced physicians, don't seem to understand that.  And maybe that attitude does cast a negative reflection on the physician, because it means that he or she has a closed mind.  It's been my experience that people with closed minds are usually not very curious, which means they are typically not that intelligent.  That scenario often ends up being wasted time and money.  Give me a broad minded nurse practitioner any day over a doctor who can't get over his or herself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Keep it simple, stupid...

Here's another brief blog post for today.  It's a rant on behalf of my teaching friends.  I am inspired to write it because a friend of mine is in graduate school.  She wants to know if her professor will be a stickler about the number of pages required for a paper she's writing.  My friend has written seven pages, while the professor only asked for six.

I want to tell her there is a reason why teachers and professors limit the length of papers.  Your paper is not the only one that must be read and graded.  If every student added an extra page to their papers, that would be a lot more work for the professor.  If he or she has sixty students in a class, that's another sixty pages to read.  Granted, not everyone is going to go over the limit, but I think you get my point.

Many people, myself included, could use some practice in word economy.  When I wrote reviews for Epinions.com, we would occasionally have a contest called "Lean n' mean".  The object was to write a complete review of a product in under 500 words.  Although I generally hated the Lean n' mean challenge, I did find it to be a good exercise.  Time is money.  People don't usually want to spend their time reading more than they must.

Find a way to be brief.  Get to the point.  Find some words to eliminate so your paper is complete, but still at six pages.

This response is probably still too long.

Unpopular opinions...

A couple of days ago, a comedian who calls himself God shared the following on his Facebook page.

I probably should have thought better of it, but...

I decided to share it to my own Facebook page.  For several hours, it sat unliked and without comments.  Finally, I kicked things off by posting that I don't necessarily think Woody Allen is a pervert.  Some of my friends posted "Agree".  Actually, I was very surprised that no one posted "Disagree", although I did get one "ha ha" reaction.  Once I broke the ice, the thread came to life.

Some of the unpopular opinions were pretty lighthearted.  One person wrote that she thinks Beyonce's voice is average at best (and with that, I happen to agree).  Another "unpopular opinion" came from someone who didn't understand why Game of Thrones is so popular.  Having never seen the show, I have to agree.

Some opinions were more serious.  One person posted that she thinks all presidents should serve at least one tour on active duty in the military.  Frankly, I mostly agree with that, although I don't think it's very realistic.  The type of person who has their sights set on the White House is not going to want to bother with military service.  A lot of them think it's beneath them.  I do think, however, that if you're going to be Commander in Chief, you should have some knowledge about the military and actually being in the military is the best way I know to get that knowledge.  It might also make presidents think twice before sending people off to war.

I got a wild hair up my ass and posted "Mormonism is a cult."  I do have a couple of Mormon friends on my friends list... maybe two or three at the most.  I also have a few religious sympathizers in my world.  I always feel a little weird posting about Mormonism on Facebook, knowing that my negative views of it seem bigoted and wrong.  Lately, I've been posting about it less.  But since this was a thread about "unpopular opinions", I decided to add my two cents.

One friend wrote "Disagree".  The rest wrote "Agree".  One of my friends who commented is a former member.  She's a very proud lesbian who joined the Army to pay for her culinary schooling.  I met her when we waited tables together in Virginia.  She's now in Colorado, working as a chef.  Another friend, I have been told, is a religious sympathizer.  To my surprise, she "agreed" that Mormonism is a cult, although she said it was because it's a Christian religion that isn't Protestant or Catholic.  Actually, that's not at all why I think Mormonism is a cult.

I think Mormonism is a cult because cult expert Rick Ross has described it as such, at least at one time.  The LDS church also fits very neatly into psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton's characterization of what makes a cult.  Lifton's three characteristics of cults are as follows (I shamelessly C/P'd the bolded parts of this from the article I linked).

1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power. That is a living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority.

* Mormons are very big on their leadership.  Hang around them long enough and you will see many quotes by their leaders, past and present.  They worship church founder, Joseph Smith, as well as their current president, Thomas S. Monson (there's always a middle initial).  Past presidents are constantly quoted and admired.

2. A process [of indoctrination or education is in use that can be seen as] coercive persuasion or thought reform [commonly called "brainwashing"].

The culmination of this process can be seen by members of the group often doing things that are not in their own best interest, but consistently in the best interest of the group and its leader.

Lifton's seminal book Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism explains this process in considerable detail.

* Anyone who has investigated the LDS church has experienced "lovebombing".  New recruits are given a lot of attention and ego stroking.  They are encouraged to bring in their family members and friends.  Those who aren't in the fold tend to be ostracized.  Church members are asked to do "good works" even if they don't have the time or the means.  Members keep an eye on each other by doing home or visiting teaching and returning and reporting to authorities.  Children have private meetings with bishops and attend summer camps where they take part in activities designed to give them a "burning in the bosom" (which is supposed to mean that the church is "true".)  Members are kept busy and encouraged to hang around people who will not threaten their testimonies.  Members are encouraged to have large families.

3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie. 

* There has certainly been sexual exploitation within the LDS church, although I definitely don't think it's as much of a thing in the mainstream church as it is with fundamentalist Mormons.  What I have seen is more economic exploitation.  People who are down to their last dimes are encouraged to tithe in order to receive "blessings".  Families are encouraged to leave their estates to the church, especially if one or more family members has done something to fall out with the estate holder.  Families are expected to clean the church's buildings because then the church doesn't have to pay other people to do it.  It also gives them something church related to do on their "day off", although the cleaning duties are supposed to be rotated.  

My husband's ex wife once spent money for the mortgage on a trip to the temple.  She once gave away her daughter's bed to a church family who "needed it more" than the daughter did.  These actions were explained as acts of faith that would lead to blessings.  I'm not sure the blessings ever came.

The article continues with a list of ten signs of a potentially unsafe group.  Again, this material is C/P'd, but you can find it here.

• Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

• No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

• No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.

• Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.

• There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.

• Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

• There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.

• Followers feel they can never be "good enough".

• The group/leader is always right.

• The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

While I don't believe that the LDS church is extreme in its cultiness, I can't deny that it does have some of the above characteristics.  Hang around on RfM long enough and you will read a lot of stories about abuse.  Many of the stories have an air of familiarity.  

Anyone who resigns from the church will get a letter and pamphlet letting them know that their "blessings" have been revoked.  Individual members may be okay with people who resign, but as a rule, members collectively disdain people who turn their backs on the "one true church".  I have heard and read more than once that members are pressured to be good... perfect, even, although perfection is impossible.  

And... I have yet to hear about the church opening up its books so that members can see where their tithing is being used.  I have also heard many church people speaking of the "last days" and how those who leave the religion can't be happy and will eventually come to ruin.  

In fairness to Mormonism, I think there are a whole lot of groups that fit the definition of a cult.  Not all of them are religious, either.  For example, last month when I left one of our local Facebook groups, in some ways I almost felt like I was leaving a cult.  Fortunately, it was not something I invested a lot of time or money in, so it wasn't hard to leave and... truthfully, I don't miss it.  I know Bill doesn't miss the LDS church, either, although sometimes I worry that his daughter will try to pull him back in.  I worry what will happen if he meets his grandson, although he has reassured me many times that he won't let his kids manipulate him.  He has also told me that he expects me to keep him straight... be the person on the side of the sinkhole, as it were, towing him to safety if he falls into any mind fuckery.  We shall see about that.    

Anyway... to bring levity back to the thread, I added that I think seatbelts are for sissies.  It's fun to do that, since someone always takes me seriously when I write that.  I usually get a lecture from at least one person.  Actually, I don't think they are for sissies.  I hate wearing them, but I do... because if I don't, Bill turns into Pat Boone.