Thursday, November 29, 2018

Deutsche Telekom FON... kinda like a cock tease...

So, I am addicted to the Internet.  It makes household chores bearable.  We can’t get ‘Net until 12/10, which isn’t that long, really.  But I kept getting prompts for Deutsche Telekom FON, which is basically a WiFi sharing service.  Against my better judgment, I signed up.  Yes, I know Germany is famously stingy with WiFi.  I didn’t care, and was weakened by being left alone tonight as Bill tends to tying up loose ends in Stuttgart.

Well...  FON kind of sucks.  I knew it would.  I get enough bandwidth to know I get notifications, but not enough to load any pages.  Still, at 5:00am tomorrow, it may be okay.  I will probably be up, since being married to a soldier for 16 years has trained me so well.  Maybe there will be a proper blog post.  Or maybe, I am as big a tease as Deutsche Telekom/FON is.

Oh well.  At least tomorrow, my boys will be home... husband and dogs.<3 alone="" at="" be.="" be="" bill="" but="" can="" certainly="" dogs.="" dogs="" eriously="" gone="" have="" here="" i="" is="" it="" keep="" least="" me="" my="" nbsp="" nice="" p="" s="" t="" the="" they="" to="" usually="" very="" warm.="" when="">

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Exhausted and net less...

Our Internet appointment is December 10th.  My blogging may be sparse, unless I can get my hands on a hot spot.  I do have an iPad with cell access, but that’s it.  I hate moving.

This morning, Bill and the movers got into a shouting match with an American who spoke German because the movers couldn’t access our house without going the wrong down a one way street.  Incidentally, the trash truck had to pull the same maneuver, going the wrong way down a one way street.  There are a lot of narrow streets and people with cars up here, so patience is a virtue.

The guy started yelling at them because he had to wait a minute to turn.  Good thing he didn’t run into me, because I probably would have yelled back at him.  I’m in a pretty foul mood, so it’s just as well I can’t blog.  First world problems are getting me down.  I tried to take a shower and couldn’t get the cold water to turn on.  I ended up taking a bath while Bill used a wrench to break whatever was preventing the knob to turn.

On the bright side, we did have lunch at a really nice restaurant today.  It was a tiny Italian place and everyone in there was Italian but us.  And I was really hangry, so it was just what I needed.  Tomorrow, I will be working alone, since Bill has to go back to Stuttgart to tie up loose ends.  But he and the boys will be back Friday.

In a week, things will look less irritating...  for now, I’m up to my ass in boxes, wishing I were more of a minimalist.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Load ‘em up...

It took about six hours for the packers to wrap everything up yesterday.  They sent three young, strong Croatian guys who spoke some English and seemed to be good friends. Meanwhile, I was not feeling very well, like maybe I had a virus or something.  One of the neighbors asked if we were moving.  I said we were.  He’s probably glad.

Today, we start loading up at 8:30am.  Hopefully, it won’t take too long to do that.  

I feel better today after a good night’s sleep in Nagold.  Hopefully the drive to Wiesbaden will not traumatize me too much.  And I also hope there’s no snow.  It did start snowing last night.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Today's the day...

I woke up at my usual 4:30am with the sickening realization that today is the day the massive cleaning starts in earnest.  Actually, it won't be so bad this time.  Last time we moved, we had to deal with two different moving companies.  One company packed about half of our stuff to come here.  One company packed the rest to go into storage.  It was interesting, because the first company, which consisted of a Mexican immigrant and his son, was very professional.  They showed up on time, packed everything expertly, and the guy knew exactly how much we could bring with the 5000 pound allowance we were given.

The other company, quite frankly, sucked.  They showed up on the wrong day; then, on the day they were supposed to get to our house, came understaffed.  One guy spent most of his time on his phone and left early.  By the end of the day, there was only one packer left and she ended up eating Chinese food from a gas station.  It made her sick.

I remember the next day, Bill and I were frantically moving everything to the downstairs by ourselves so I could clean the upstairs.  We had to get everything out of the house so the carpets could be cleaned.  And because the movers were booked up, all of this was going on at the tail end of the month from hell that was July 2014.  We absolutely had to be out of the house by midnight on July 31st, not that it wasn't a pleasure to leave.  We were just really pressed for time.

The move from North Carolina to Texas also sucked.  That time, we had a whole herd of movers who were like bulls in a china shop.  They fucked up the floor in our house and we ended up having to make an insurance claim with their parent moving company, since the local moving company refused to pay.  I got really wound up at that one, too.  It resulted in one of my epic complaint letters.

This time, we will be dealing with just one company and there's only half the stuff to worry about.  And it's not an international move.  No one in my immediate family is dying or has just died, and our landlady, God bless her, has left us alone.  Of course, our lease technically ends on New Year's Eve, since we gave her three month's notice.  We could technically move stuff all next month.  But that's not going to happen, because we want this process to be finished.  Christmas is coming and I need to put up the trees and do some shopping.

Last night, we were getting rid of some of our liquor collection.  Bill was fretting about the move, thinking there were things he'd forgotten to do.  I told him everything would be alright.  It always is.  In a week, this will be over and we'll be getting used to our new place.  But then I reminded him that he has a propane bottle to turn in.

I guess I don't mind unpacking as much as packing.  Usually, when I'm unpacking, there's no time crunch.  I can do it in my nightgown with no bra, since there's no one in the house helping.  I think leaving the old house is more of a pain by far.  But the worst part of leaving this house will probably be making sure it's clean enough.  The packing of our stuff shouldn't be too bad.  We have less than we usually do and there are only two of us and dogs to deal with.  The dogs are at Max's until Friday.

This song was in my head this morning...  It's one I've shared before, but it bears repeating.

This is not the original version, but it's funnier...

The original is also pretty epic.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Troy Osmond and Mindi Carpenter... what do they have in common?

Well... they are both offspring of famous musicians from the 1970s.  And they both generate a lot of traffic to my blogs.  And Troy’s Uncle Alan once dated Mindi’s Aunt Karen, many years before either Mindi or Troy was born.

It's always interesting to see what topics will generate the most interest.  I write a lot of heartfelt, personal, even deep stuff on my main blog that barely gets noticed.  And then I write about Richard Carpenter's daughter, Mindi, on my music blog, and it generates six figures of hits.  I'm serious.  The post I wrote about Mindi Carpenter wasn't even that interesting, but every day, it keeps my music blog alive.  You can see the most popular posts of all time on Dungeon of the Past.  The top two by a landslide are about Mindi Carpenter, who sings, but not like her late Aunt Karen.

My post about Troy Osmond, likewise, is turning out to be an interesting hit grabber on my main blog.  Osmond, who recently died at the young age of 33, was Merrill Osmond's son.  Merrill is one of the Osmond Brothers and, before little brother Donny became a star, Merrill did a lot of the lead vocals.  I still don't know exactly why Troy Osmond died.  I have read that it was of natural causes, while he was staying in his parents' home.  I have also read that he had some medical problems that caused physical pain that may have led him to use painkillers to excess.

A couple of years ago, the late Mr. Osmond had some trouble with law enforcement that led to his arrest, fines, and some time spent in jail.  I don't know anything about Troy Osmond's situation, but the article makes it sound like he may have had some trouble with doctor shopping and prescription drug abuse. While I don't condone drug abuse, I do realize that some illnesses and physical conditions can lead to dependence on opioids.  Or... maybe he just enjoyed being high.  It was probably a combination of factors.  Anyway, I don't know if that situation was a factor in Troy Osmond's early demise.  I suspect it might have been, but I don't know, and I am not saying I know.

The point is, my post about Troy Osmond, which didn't actually say a lot, is generating a shitload of hits, just like my post about Mindi Carpenter continues to do five years post creation.  I had no idea.  At this writing, the subject of Troy Osmond has generated over 1600 hits on this blog.  That post has existed for just two weeks.  All of my other posts are cracking anywhere from 25 to 100 hits a pop, except for a few that inflamed the masses. 

I notice that when someone leaves a pissed off comment, I get more hits.  I also get hits on posts about mundane things.  Lately, my post about the dueling Transformed Wives is also getting hits.  Actually, I have to laugh about that, since at least one of the Transformed Wives writes nothing but inflammatory blather about a woman's place in the world.  She misspells words, centers her text, has an affected writing style, seems to think women should be barefoot and pregnant, and blocks anyone who doesn't kiss her ass.  And she has thousands of followers!  Of course, a lot of her followers are probably people who like making fun of her medieval approach to modern living.

If I wanted attention, maybe I'd follow The Transformed Wife's cue and write a bunch of inflammatory shit that draws people to my blog like a moth to a flame.  But, to be honest, I don't like that kind of attention.  I'd rather people read my stuff because it's interesting or entertaining or because they can relate to it on some level.  I mainly blog to eat up free time, of which I have too much, and to share the stuff that rents space in my head.

Making money has never been one of my talents.  I like having money and I do the best I can to manage what we have, but I'm not one to do things to generate it.  I'm sure The Transformed Wife is laughing all the way to the bank with her silly rants about women doctors ruining the medical profession and men preferring women without tattoos or a sexual history.  If she's a good little Christian, she probably tithes on the money her books and blogs make.  But I've seen no evidence that she's a good Christian, particularly when she insists on completely silencing those who disagree with her by blocking them.  On the other hand, I notice that she recently wrote a very deep post about a hideous song from my youth called "I've Never Been To Me".  Not surprisingly, she thinks the song has "beautiful lyrics".

This version doesn't include the spoken bridge that never fails to make me cringe.  For those who are curious, here it is.  Just another shitty day in paradise, right?  Unless you're in Paradise, California.

Hey, you know what paradise is? It’s a lie. A fantasy we create about
people and places as we’d like them to be. But you know what truth is?
It’s that little baby you’re holding, and it’s that man you fought with
This morning, the same one you’re going to make love with tonight.
That’s truth, that’s love.

I remember going to karaoke night one evening when we lived at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  A woman got up and sang this song.  She was a government civilian who was roughly equivalent in rank to a colonel.  I feel pretty certain she was single and didn't have children.  Perhaps she felt regret at choosing to follow a very successful career path instead of staying home and having babies.  The grass is always greener.  I also know that particular karaoke-goer couldn't stand me.  It was probably due to my foul mouth, "charming" personality, and the fact that I knocked her off of Queen Bee status on karaoke night.  She did have a lot of loyal fans, though... except when she tried to sing "Money" by Pink Floyd and refused to say the word "bullshit".

Anyway, last night, as I sat among the mess that comes from a move, telling Bill that my plans for my life were wildly diverted by my love affair with him, I had to concede that I wouldn't trade my life with him for a job at the CDC or at the Department of Health and Environmental Control (which is where I was working in grad school).  But I also fear for the future, because if Bill dies, I might as well hurl myself off a bridge.  I probably won't do that, but it might feel like I should.

My life turned into a weird hybrid of what The Transformed Wife says it should be.  I don't have a job that generates a lot of money and I stay home and do my mediocre housekeeping bit, but I also haven't had a bunch of babies.  I would have had at least one if we'd been able to, but it just wasn't in the cards.

So now, I write posts about the children of celebrities that some people find interesting.  I don't think either Mindi Carpenter or Troy Osmond were particularly famous themselves.  But they are definitely hitmakers on my blogs.  Interesting, isn't it?

Yesterday, we spent the day cleaning.  I spent several hours scrubbing the kitchen cabinets and throwing things out.  I also did some mopping and laundry.  It was a pretty big job, especially for such a tiny kitchen.  At one point, I thought I was going to break a leg.  I had to climb up on the counter to be able to reach the highest shelf in one of the cabinets.  When I was a child, I used to climb on the counters like a goddamned monkey.  Now, I'm like a really fat cat that can't come down from a tree.  I literally got kind of scared trying to get off the counter.  Bill had gone to the dump, so I was actually afraid I might hurt myself trying to get down by myself.  Fortunately, I was able to reposition myself and get off the counter safely.

I expect today we will clean a bit more and purchase rugs for the new house.  I love that it has beautiful hardwood floors, but I don't love the idea of stains and scratches.  Tomorrow, the packers come, and Tuesday, they load us up.  Wednesday, they'll unload us in Wiesbaden, and Thursday and Friday, I'll stay there and unpack while Bill closes us out down here.  In a week, we'll be in our new house and Bill will prepare for his new job.  It's surreal as hell.  Things sure can change quickly.

I guess that's how the Osmond family feels now, having lost one of their own so suddenly...

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Old news, but I feel like sharing Jim Bakker's idiocy...

I don't know how I missed this last year.  In November of 2017, televangelist Jim Bakker was on TV ranting about his fears that people are going to be starving in America.  Bakker maintains that if Democrats regain power, America will go down in flames.  He says Donald Trump is here to prepare everyone for the doom that awaits us.

Jim Bakker cries about how children are going to starve because Democrats might kill Trump...  he says Democrats are against God.

I became aware of this rant through an article I read on  Granted, the article's title is a bit misleading.  It's basically click bait, since it conflates Bakker's rantings about starvation with an unusual business deal he's got going.  You see, Bakker sells pancake mix.  For $60 plus shipping and handling, you can own a bucket of pancake mix that will whip up yummy vittles for your starving children.  And after Bakker's tear filled rant about starvation and what will happen if Democrats take over the U.S. government, the program cut away to an ad about Bakker's $1500 "Complete Grocery Store" survival package.  You can buy all kinds of supplies in Bakker's online store.  They are billed as "emergency food supplies".

I was around in the 1980s.  I remember Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's fraudulent empire built on the money they swindled out of poor, gullible, and ignorant people.  I recall how Bakker fell into a fetal position when he was sentenced to forty-five years in prison back in 1989.  A couple of years into his sentence, Bakker's time was drastically reduced to 18 years.  He was paroled in 1994, after having served only five years of his prison sentence.  Tammy Faye Bakker, who died in 2007, also divorced him at around that time.  A couple of years later, he married his second wife, Lori Graham, who is 18 years younger than he is.

When I listen to the above video, I hear a charlatan using the threat of eternal damnation as a means of selling his crap to the masses.  His comments about Democrats wanting to turn the United States into a Godless country in famine are utterly moronic.  If anything or anyone is driving the United States into Hell, it's Trump and his greedy friends.  I'm not saying there aren't corrupt Democrats out there, but the idea that Donald Trump is going to save anyone's skin but his own is totally ridiculous.  But then, like Trump, Bakker is reputed to be very narcissistic.  He's also charismatic and charming, which makes him attractive to vulnerable people.

I shared the post from last year on my Facebook page.  One friend, a former minister, thought it was satire.  Sorry... this is no joke.  Bakker really is shilling this shit to people who vote.  It's not about saving America, either.  It's about making Bakker wealthy and keeping the United States in the hands of old white guys with money.

What's more, it sounds like Bakker's "food products" aren't even good quality.  Here's an entertaining account of someone who actually ordered some and tried it.  Evidently, the stuff has a shelf life of up to 30 years, but is either "tasteless" or completely "vile".  Some people might prefer to die than eat that stuff after the apocalypse.  

I think people would be smart to remember that Jim Bakker famously bilked people out of millions of dollars for a "pie in the sky" idea he had to build a Christian theme park and community in North Carolina.  One thing I've learned is that leopards don't change their spots.  He's just as much a criminal today as he was in the 80s.  As a matter of fact, Bakker is very much like Donald Trump... right down to his 80s era tackiness and hush money paid to keep his sexual exploits quiet.  In Bakker's case, it was Jessica Hahn who was paid off.  When that little tryst came to light in the late 1980s, Bakker tumbled from grace until he was in that fetal position.  I wish the same for Donald Trump, whose political foray has become an ever broadening shitstain on America's history.

Jim Bakker whines about being mocked.  He claims he is a prophet.  But Bakker still needs to sell $250 duffel bags and $150 water bottle sets...  Those who think he's full of shit are "anti Christ".

This video is just...  wow...  too crazy for words.  Check out the disgusting looking food being sold.  Not even the best food stylists could save that shit.  It's part food demonstration, part Trump ass kissing fiesta.

I weep for the future.  Wonder if any Mormons have bought the food buckets for their storage...

A review of A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous...

A couple of months ago, I went through a brief phase of fascination about the former East Germany.  I think I decided to download A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary at around the same time I downloaded Stasiland, a book about East Germany's secret police, the Stasi.  I recently read and reviewed Stasiland, so I decided to follow up with this book, written by an anonymous German woman who happened to be living in Berlin when it was taken over by the Russians, right after Hitler's regime was defeated.  She kept a diary for eight weeks which explains, in her own words, what Germany's capital was like in the wake of World War II.

Until 1989, Germany was a divided country.  About two-thirds of it was called West Germany, and it was initially controlled by the United States, France, and Great Britain.  Russia controlled East Germany, as well as half of Berlin, then known as East Berlin.  West Berlin, which was completely walled in, was likewise controlled by the United States, France, and Great Britain.  However, these organizational changes weren't really immediate.

After the World War II ended, there was a period of chaos and confusion.  That's what the 34 year old anonymous author of A Woman in Berlin writes of in her diary.  For eight weeks, as Russian soldiers took over Berlin, the author kept a record.  This book is written in diary form, starting in April 1945.  The woman who wrote this book died in 2001.  She was well educated and had worked as a journalist before the war.  This book was originally published in 1953, but then went out of print for about fifty years.  It was published again at the beginning of the 21st century.

In the spring of 1945, Berlin was mostly populated by women, who had not gone off to fight in the war.  The men who were left behind were elderly, sick, or both.  Consequently, when the Russian soldiers moved in, the women became prime for rape.  The author of this diary was a victim of rape, as were many of her peers.  Other women hid in cellars or attics to avoid being molested by randy Russian men.  The author writes of one teenaged girl named Stinchen who sat in a stuffy crawl space over her parents' apartment with a chamber pot, hiding out for weeks.

Recognizing that unless she came up with a plan, the rapes would continue, the author sought protection.  She latched on to a Russian officer, communicating with him through the few words of Russian she spoke.  Because she was attached to the officer and his friends, the author was better fed and somewhat safer than most of the other women.

Besides mass rapes, there was also mass looting going on.  The author writes that the Russian soldiers didn't seem to have any concept of quality.  They would steal things just to steal them, and then just as easily abandon them when the items became a burden.  They were mostly interested in liquor and sex.  At one point, the officer who had "befriended" the author brought over a stolen trunk full of clothes and shoes in good condition, which he offered to the author's neighbor.  Although the clothes and shoes were much needed, it occurred to the women that they might be spotted wearing their neighbor's clothes and shoes.  The thought made them feel too ashamed to accept more than a couple of pairs of shoes.  The author's pair were too small for her feet, but she made do anyway.

As I read this book, sitting in the German house I'm about to leave, I couldn't help but picture what life was like for Berliners who watched their city being torn apart by different countries.  As a woman, I couldn't help but be horrified by the plight of the woman who were repeatedly harassed and sexually assaulted.  I can't even imagine the horror of it and how tough they had to be in order to survive it.  Aside from the sexual assaults, the women were also forced to work for the Russians.  The author of this diary, for instance, was forced to labor as a washerwoman at a Russian military installation.  There wasn't enough food and, although it was springtime, it was also very cold and there was no heat.

The author also had a German boyfriend, but he was away on the eastern front, fighting.  While her boyfriend was away, the author suffered starvation and abuse.  She learned to jealously hoard what's hers.  When he eventually came back, she was unable to deal with him.  He wanted to share what she had with friends, while she couldn't bear to share it.  They broke up.

I lived in Armenia for two years.  Armenia is a former Soviet Republic.  Although Armenians are not Russians, they were heavily influenced by Russia for many years.  I experienced sexual harassment there that I've never experienced anywhere else... but then, that was in the 1990s and I was a lot younger and it was much sooner after the Soviet Union fell.  Armenia is looking very different now, although I can't say whether or not it's changed.  I have always found stories about life in the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union fascinating.  Since I've spent a total of six years in Germany, I'm especially interested in what life was like in the forbidden eastern part of the country, where people were separated from their families by walls and fortified borders.

A Woman in Berlin is extremely interesting because it offers a firsthand, journalistic look at what Berlin was like in 1945, from a woman who was there, living the reality.  The author doesn't resort to self-pity or complaints.  Her tone is eerily emotionless and matter-of-fact, which adds to the unique nature of the diary.  Here she is, facing hunger, humiliation, and the threat of sexual assault, but she keeps reporting.  Also, the author was a fairly ordinary person.  She wasn't someone with money or connections that made her life easier.  She had to rely on her wits and will to survive.  The book ends in June 1945, as things were slowly starting to become more normal.

I think A Woman in Berlin is well worth reading.  So often, books about World War II focus on the Holocaust or the war itself.  This is a book about what it was like to be a regular German woman during those times.  It's a unique viewpoint, although it was probably the most common situation for civilian Berliners at that time.  If you're interested in what Germany was like right for regular people after Hitler's regime fell apart, this is a book you should consider reading.       

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving... just another day in Germany!

Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday.  Because we live in Germany, it's been awhile since we last celebrated it properly.  Yesterday, Bill had the day off, so we spent several hours cleaning.  I did my usual half-assed vacuuming, except I took the vacuum into the basement and attacked some of the cobwebs and other assorted crap down there.  Bill took some stuff to the dump and donated some old clothes.  I steam mopped some of the floors and washed drapes and clothes.  I cleaned some glass, did some dusting, and threw out some stuff.

Then, sometime in the early afternoon, I decided it was time for a beer.  That was the end of the cleaning session.  It's hard to believe this is my last Friday in this house.  In just a few days, I'll be doing this shit in reverse, unpacking things and setting up a new home.  I took the dogs for a walk in our neighborhood, probably for the last time, since Bill walks them on the weekends.  Our new neighborhood isn't as rural as this one is and the scenery isn't nearly as pretty, but we'll have a functional fenced in yard and a fireplace.  I look forward to the fireplace.  It's been too long since we last lived in a house that had a functional one.

There's not a whole lot more we can do until the house is emptied.  And fortunately for me, I will not be part of the final cleaning effort, because I'll be in Wiesbaden, unpacking.  The dogs will stay with Max all week while we sort out the move.  I can't wait for it to be over.

Since I dropped some of the more politically contentious family members from my Facebook, I haven't been able to see any pictures of our usual family shindig.  I did get some greetings from a few of them, though.  One reason I like Thanksgiving is because despite my family's penchant for dysfunction, they are basically fun people.  My family is full of great storytellers and musicians.  I expect tonight, there will be a big party in the barn with dancing, singing, and drinking.  Meanwhile, I'll be sitting here with Bill eating leftovers.

We did have sort of a quasi Thanksgiving meal.  Bill got a chicken from the local halal chicken man and ciabatta rolls from the bakery.  He made green beans and mashed potatoes and we had a piece of chocolate cake for dessert.  We also drank a lot of wine, but we do that most nights.  Bill served everything on my good china.  I have to admit to being kind of jealous of all of the pictures some of my friends were sharing of their Thanksgiving feasts.

As much as I love living in Germany, I do miss the United States a little bit.  I look forward to getting to know Wiesbaden, and yet I also feel a little exhausted by the idea of more time abroad.  But then, I know if I moved back to the States, I would really miss Europe.  Europe suits us.  But I can't deny that sometimes I really miss some of my family members.  And I miss crappy American style junk food, too.  This morning, I actually watched a training video from Pizza Hut that was made in 1988.  In 1988, Pizza Hut was still pretty good.  Now, it pretty much sucks.  And yet, sometimes I still miss eating that kind of stuff, even though here I can get pizza made by actual Italians.  Well... at least Frankfurt has a Five Guys...

Yeah... I don't need to be eating this stuff, but I will admit that it looks good.  

Somehow, after watching the Pizza Hut video, I stumbled across this one...

Now, I'm hungry...  Actually, I already knew about some of these tricks. 

I hope my American readers who celebrate Thanksgiving had a good holiday.  Ours would have been better without the cleaning.  I was thinking maybe we'd visit one of our favorite local restaurants, but found out that it closed on Halloween.  Evidently, there's not enough restaurant help around here.  I guess that's another reason why it's time for us to move.  I will miss the Alte Post.  Oh well... I guess we'll find a new favorite.

Incidentally, last night, Bill talked to his younger daughter.  It seems she's expecting again, so if everything goes as expected, sometime next summer Bill will have another grandchild.  I suppose at some point, he's going to need to go visit her.  

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Good Christian ladies don't need to be readin'...

Yesterday, as I was sitting on the couch, ruminating about how I'll be living in a new place in a few days, I happened to come across a screenshot someone took of Hyles-Anderson College's Web site.  I have written about Hyles-Anderson College before.  It's basically a fundie Baptist run college in Indiana, where young adults go to be treated like children.  That idea was really driven home when I took a gander of the screenshot, which details what men and women are allowed to keep in their dorm rooms.  Check this out.

Am I to understand that men are allowed to bring a bookshelf, but women can't?

Notice that the shelf can't have doors on it.  Why?  Because doors would hide any contraband reading that these college students shouldn't be reading.  Wouldn't want a copy of 50 Shades of Grey to make it on campus, right?  I'm not sure if Hyles-Anderson students are allowed to use reading devices like Kindles or iPads.  I would imagine they would be off limits.

Someone did bring up the point that these restrictions might be about space in the dorm rooms.  I spent four years living in dorms myself, so I know space is a premium.  It still seems odd that the ladies aren't specifically told they are allowed a bookshelf.  But then, I don't think Hyles-Anderson College is that much about higher learning, particularly for the women who attend.  This seems to be more of a place for people to find their mates before becoming "ministers".

Notice that the ladies are only allowed one refrigerator per room, while the men can have two.  Do people now bring more than one fridge to college?  And the ladies are not allowed their own microwave, but the men can have two microwaves in their rooms.  Wouldn't want the ladies to eat too much popcorn, I guess.

No need for the ladies to bring their own cars, unless she has a job where college transport doesn't go.  I'm actually surprised the women are allowed to work off campus.  The men can bring cars.  No sweat.

Some time ago, I posted some videos that were done by leaders at Hyles-Anderson College.  One of the leaders, Jack Schaap, is currently sitting in a prison cell for raping a sixteen year old girl.  Schaap also memorably preached a sermon during which he polished a rod as if he were masturbating, simulating a hypothetical conversation between God and a man.  It's quite the spectacle.

I can't imagine how I would have reacted if I had been listening to this live...  

Jack Schaap's views on women...  of course, now he's behind bars.

I would hope that any student in college would be encouraged to read.  Reading is fundamental to learning.  Maybe I watched too many episodes of The Handmaid's Tale, but it does seem pretty sad to me that young women in college are not being encouraged to bring books... and bookshelves to hold their books... on all manner of topics.  That being said, I also realized that Hyles-Anderson College is a private Christian college and it's not accredited, so people who choose to go there probably look for that type of legalistic environment.  Or perhaps their parents do.  This is the only college I know of that divides its curriculum by sex.  

A bonus video... Talk about a treasure trove of fundie weirdness.  I especially enjoyed the bit about "heifers wearing britches".

When people stop reading, people stop learning and thinking.  And women, for God's sake, need to keep reading before they end up like Mrs. Waterford with her nine fingers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My husband hates the song "Dream Weaver"...

Word to the wise.  This post is going to be TMI and probably kind of inappropriate.  If you are easily offended, kindly move on to your next Internet station.

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends shared this video of the song "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright.

This song was made famous in 1976, when I was a wee lass of about 3 or 4 years old.

In 1976, my dad was the base engineer at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England.  This song was popular, along with a lot of other great songs from the 70s.  I've always liked it, although I was a small child when it was a hit.  It still sounds pretty good in 2018, at least to my ears.  I also like Wright's other big song, "Love Is Alive."

This video includes the version of "Dream Weaver" I know best.  It says this song comes from 1972, but that's incorrect.  It was released in 1975 and was a hit the following year.

When Bill and I met, he told me there are a few songs he hates.  For instance, he doesn't like the songs "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow or "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" by Bryan Adams, mainly because his ex used to play them as a means of demonstrating to Bill what kind of man she thought he should be.  

If you know my husband (and a few readers do), you know that he is one of those people who bends over backwards to please others.  He's got a really kind heart and does whatever he can to make other people happy.  To hear that his best efforts weren't enough for his ex wife was shattering.  The fact that she used music to drive home that point was especially cruel.  She ruined some good music and a lot of children's books that way.  She was also fond of using books by Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein to make her points about Bill's alleged shortcomings.

So, although I do like "Strong Enough", I never play it when Bill is around, because I know it reminds him of dark times.  Fortunately, I don't really like Bryan Adams' love ode, so we have no problems, there.  For a long time, I avoided playing anything by The Muppets or Kenny Loggins' wonderful children's album around Bill because I knew they would make him sad.

Another song Bill hates is "Dream Weaver", but that's because of another person in his life-- his first stepfather.  When Bill was about ten years old, his mother decided to remarry.  I think remarriage of a parent is hard enough for most youngsters, but it's especially difficult when the new spouse turns out to be abusive.  The guy Bill's mom married was a very handsome fellow and talented artist I'll call B.J.  Actually, B.J. was the name he went by.  Come to think of it, it was probably an inspired nickname.

At least on the surface, B.J. had a lot going for him.  He was tall, blond, athletic and handsome, and he was legitimately blessed with artistic gifts.  Although I never met the man myself, I have seen a beautiful portrait he did of my mother-in-law.  She kept the artwork, although the marriage was mercifully brief.  Bill and B.J. didn't really hit it off very well.  Evidently, B.J. used to do things like blow cigarette smoke in Bill's face and tell him that he was "emotionally unavailable".  B.J. once said that talking to Bill was like talking to a brick wall.  Bill really took that comment to heart and it made him feel shame.

B.J. was a big fan of Gary Wright's music, and he especially liked the song "Dream Weaver".  He used to play that song a lot.  B.J. also liked wearing women's clothing and, in fact, was probably transgendered.  The reason B.J. wanted to be married was because he was hoping to learn how to be a woman.  This was not something B.J. had disclosed before he and my mother-in-law tied the knot.  Once she found out what his agenda actually was, she got a divorce.  My mother-in-law and B.J. lost touch after that.

I try to be open-minded about most things.  I don't know anything about what it's like to be transgendered.  I can only imagine that it's extremely difficult even today, and was almost certainly much more so in the 1970s, when people had less understanding and consideration for those who are different.  I'm sure B.J. had some traumatic issues that caused him to be the way he was... not necessarily transgendered, but mean and abusive.  There was some reason B.J. found pleasure in being disrespectful to Bill and saying cruel things that he knew would upset him.  Hurting people tend to be hurtful to others.  It's a vicious cycle. 

I didn't know B.J., although I've heard some stories about him over the years.  He wasn't Bill's stepfather for very long, which is a good thing.  However, even though B.J. was Bill's stepfather for only a few years, he did leave a lingering calling card, besides that beautiful portrait of Bill's mother.  Now, whenever the song "Dream Weaver" plays, Bill is reminded of that guy-- a man he hasn't seen in over forty years.  And although I never knew the man myself, when I hear it, now I'm reminded of the stories I've heard about him.

It's amazing how the most innocuous things can leave a lasting impression.  It might be a piece of music or art.  It might be certain foods or smells.  I have written a few times about how much I hate mushrooms.  I have always hated them.  When I was a child, I was literally phobic of them.  I'm still a bit phobic of mushrooms, though not nearly like I was when I was a young child in England.  In those days, whenever I saw a mushroom growing in the yard, I would freeze and start screaming hysterically.  Today, I still kind of cringe when I see them, but I don't scream anymore.

My sisters were kind of mean spirited teenagers at that time.  In our English backyard, there were a lot of toadstools that grew wild.  Sometimes, my sisters would pick them and chase me with them, all the while laughing hysterically at me as I screamed and ran away.  One of my sisters went as far as reinforcing the phobia by drawing mean faces and shark teeth on any mushrooms in my coloring books.  To this day, when someone posts a picture of a dish with mushrooms on social media or I smell them cooking, I'm reminded of that time when I was a child.  It makes me cringe, even though it's been years since anyone chased me with a mushroom (one of my cousins did years later, to the same effect).  Those experiences are imprinted on my brain, much like certain songs are imprinted on Bill's.  

I thought I was alone in my hatred of mushrooms until one day, I was watching the Montel Williams show and the topic was phobias.  Montel had a guest who was phobic of mushrooms.  I watched in amazement as she reacted the very same way I used to when I was very young.  To be honest, if someone tried to force me to eat a mushroom or touch one, I'd probably react the same way I did when I was a child.  I wrote an article about mycophobia on Associated Content.  It generated a lot of hits and was even noticed by the woman who was on Montel Williams.  She sent me an email about her experience on the show.  Although Montel did get her to touch one and, in fact, kissed her with one between his lips (that would not have worked for me), she said she's still a bit phobic.

I once entertained the idea of becoming a chef, but abandoned that notion when I realized I couldn't be a chef and have a mushroom phobia.  Maybe I could have been a pastry chef, but even then, I'd probably still have problems.  And then I worked at a restaurant for awhile and realized that lifestyle wasn't one I wanted for the rest of my life.  It's too stressful.

I understand why Bill hates the song "Dream Weaver", although I like it and probably always will.  He understands why I hate mushrooms, although he loves them and truffles and always will.  He respects my idiosyncrasies and I respect his.  When Bill is around, our house is a Gary Wright free zone.  And when we go out to dinner or eat at someone's house, Bill is supportive when I have to explain why mushrooms are verboten.  I'm sure more than a couple of waiters have filed away memorable stories about me telling them about my irrational fears.  I guess these things make us more interesting people.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

It's crunch time...

As much as I'd like to bask in what was a lovely four night break in Baden-Baden, it's now crunch time.  This is Bill's last "week" at work in the Stuttgart area.  He took yesterday off and, of course, gets Thursday off.  Then on Monday of next week, the packers will arrive.  The dogs will go to Max's for the week.  We'll spend a night in a hotel in Nagold.  Tuesday, they'll load up the truck and we'll drive to Wiesbaden, where we'll spend another night in a hotel.  Then Wednesday, the movers deliver our stuff there.  Thursday, I'll start putting stuff away while Bill finishes closing out down here in Stuttgart.  He'll probably spend the night in Stuttgart, finish closing out, and pick up the dogs on Friday.  By next weekend, we should be somewhat settled, although I don't know if I'll have the Internet.

Usually, at this time of year, I'm decorating for Christmas and doing some shopping.  This year, we're moving, which is a real pain in the ass.  I do look forward to the new house, though, even though I'll miss country living.  I think a change of scenery will do us good.  

We visited the dentist yesterday after we got back from Baden-Baden.  It was a month before we were due, but it seemed better to just go ahead and get the cleanings done.  I don't know if it was really more convenient, though, since we had to go get the dogs from Max's and then got stuck in nightmarish Stuttgart traffic.  I have heard traffic isn't quite so bad in the Wiesbaden area, although having seen how crowded it is up there, I kind of wonder.  Seriously, almost all of the neighborhoods we looked at were packed with homes.  Our new house pretty much has a zero lot, which isn't bad, since I'll be doing the lawn work.

I keep looking around the house, wondering what chores I can take care of before we really get busy. Even as Bill and I were lamenting about this hated process of moving, we realize that this move will probably be somewhat easy as moves go.  It won't be as major as our last move, which was from Texas to Stuttgart.  There won't be a month spent in a tiny apartment, for instance, or masses of veterinary paperwork.  We won't be driving a rental car for a month, either.  This move is probably the shortest distance we've ever done, unless you count our move within Fort Belvoir, which doesn't really seem like it should count.  I mean, yes, we had to pack everything and move it, but that was pretty much the extent of the pain.

It doesn't seem real that we're about to leave Unterjettingen, which has been home for four years and two months... the longest we have spent in one place as a married couple.  Bill was actually tearing up as he was talking about it yesterday.  But if you think about it, for most people, every home is temporary.  This is especially true if you are perpetual renters, like we are.  I had always expected I'd own a home by this point in my life.  We're at a point at which we could buy one.  But now, it just doesn't seem smart to buy a house, because having a house ties you down.  Neither Bill nor I want to be anyone's landlords.  On the other hand, I am ready not to have landlords.

I don't know if I'll ever own a house.  I'm getting too old to think about it seriously.

Our next house is going to cost almost twice as much as this one does.  We can afford it, but it was nice having so much disposable income for a couple of months.  It seems like whenever I pay off a debt or get close to paying one off, we have to move.  I paid off my student loans this year, so we can't stay in this cheap house.  The same thing happened last time we lived in Germany.  I got within $300 of paying off my credit cards and we had to move back to the States.  It wasn't until we came back to Germany that I was able to pay that card off, since we had to make some major purchases.

Oh well...  When we get settled in Wiesbaden, I'll get back to work on rebuilding our cash pile.  I saved several thousand dollars in a CD that happened to mature this month.  I gave it to Bill.  It's a damn good thing we had it, because that money has come in handy.  We had to buy heating oil for this house and we have to buy it for the next house, although when we move out of the next house, we don't have to fill the tank for the next tenants.  We had to pay a huge Kaution (deposit), while the one we paid for this house won't come back to us until after we leave.  Bill's company is covering a lot of the move, but it's a situation in which he pays upfront and gets reimbursed.  

Such is life.

Maybe later, I'll come back and write about current events or something.  For now, I think I'll scrub the bathroom.  That's one more chore I can cross off my list of things to do.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A day of nakedness...

Hey y'all.  We're on our last night in Baden-Baden and will be heading back to our soon to be former house tomorrow.  We've had an unbelievable trip.  I will start writing about it on the travel blog tomorrow, once we're home.  I was kind of thinking I might blog tonight, but I think I need a night to recover from today.  We visited two spas and I found out how exhausting it can be to relax.  Especially when you're American and you spend a lot of the day nude in front of total strangers.

I must say, this will go down as one of my favorite trips thus far.  It's hard to believe that we've lived so close to Baden-Baden for over four years and this is our first visit.  I hope it won't be our last.  We really had a wonderful time... and we spent a lot of euros.

It's even harder to believe that we're going to be leaving the Stuttgart area again.  I'm not as upset this time, since I know we're going to be living somewhat close and can visit.  But it really does feel a lot like home.  In 16 years of marriage, we've spent six years in the Stuttgart area.  It does feel like home to me, even if I still cant speak German worth a damn.

Ah... things to work on, I guess.  So glad I have Bill at my side as I learn.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Happy 16th to us...

We are currently chilling out in Baden-Baden, enjoying a four night trip to regain our senses before our big move and celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary.  It's, so far, been a magical trip.  We were upgraded to a junior suite from the deluxe room I booked.  Yes, it's bloody expensive, but we really needed a break.  16 years ago, the idea of a weekend like this was unthinkable.

My husband is my very best friend.  Sorry, I know that's a very Duggar thing to say, but it's the truth.  I still pinch myself every day when I realize what a wonderful life we have built together.  As much as I despise his ex wife (and will continue to trash her mercilessly), I remain very grateful to her for the gift she gave me when she decided to divorce Bill.  He was very loyal to her, despite everything.  As hard as their split was for him, ultimately, the divorce was a kindness on her part, and it came at just the right time.

Bill is my soulmate, and I adore him.  We have an incredible partnership.  He is the one person I never tire of being with.  I miss him when he’s gone, and enjoy every minute we’re together.

I realize that by posting this, I may open myself up to crappy comments from the ignorant.  One time, someone even posted "One woman's trash is another woman's treasure, home wrecker."  I am not a home wrecker, because I didn't even know Bill when he was getting divorced.  We met in person for the first time about a year after his divorce was final.  I don’t know...  we just clicked...  probably while trading fart jokes.

However, I have been around for the aftermath and the extensive cleanup he's had to do in the wake of his first marriage.  I had nothing to do with his divorce (and yes, some people are rude enough to ask), but I like to think I've had everything to do with his current reality, which is pretty freakin’ nice.  Even one of his daughters is coming around and realizing that her dad is pretty damned awesome.  I’m so glad we found each other.  He’s an absolute joy in my life.

Anyway... here's to my Mr. Bill... and to sixteen more years or more of wedded bliss.  We make a great team.  And for those of you who are regular readers and understand the angst I write of, here's to you, too.  Thank you for reading!

I haven't been a bad wife.  For one thing, I have introduced him to the wonders of spa culture.  We'll be heading to the nearest nude spa by the time the weekend is done.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Marine shows his ass at Disney World...

A couple of months ago, I discovered the genius of J.D. Simkins, a reporter for the Military Times, when I read his hilarious account of an Air Force Colonel who got drunk at a Boy George concert and wound up arrested.  Ever since then, whenever I see his byline on a military related article, I know I can count on getting a few laughs while I get the scoop.

This time, Simkins writes about Marine veteran Dion Cini, who recently paid a visit to Walt Disney World and decided to hold up a sign that read "Trump 2020" as his log flume took its final slide.  Cini was aboard the popular attraction Splash Mountain when he decided to make his political views known.  This was not the first time Cini showed his ass at a Disney park.  A few weeks ago, Cini did something similar at Magic Kingdom, when he hung a re-elect Trump banner there.  Cini also hung a pro Trump banner at Yankee Stadium last July.

Park officials had put Cini's annual pass on hold after the first incident, but then decided to ban him from Disney parks for life after the second one.  It seems the ex Marine ran afoul of the rules at Disney parks, which prohibit “Unauthorized events, demonstrations or speeches, or the usage of any flag, banner or sign for commercial purposes, or to incite a crowd”.

Simkins cleverly weaves Disney references into his account of the story, noting that Cini lamented on Facebook about the ban.  He quotes:

“Banned for life from Walt Disney World for the 2nd time in a month," Cini vented on Facebook in response. "They hate my signs, or the President? Maybe both?”

Apparently, Cini isn't going to take the ban lying down.  He says he's going to fight Disney's decision in court.  Personally, I think Cini would be better off re-evaluating his priorities in life.  I truly don't understand people who support Donald Trump as president.  Why do people admire a man who is so rude, offensive, undiplomatic, and ignorant?  It's not even about his being a Republican.  This is a man who openly mocks the disabled, brags about molesting women, praises racists, stiffs his contractors, alienates other world leaders, and acts like he wants to be a dictator.  

And yet, Cini thinks Trump is awesome.  According to the Washington Post:

Cini said he knew the photos showing him with pro-Trump banners would go viral — and he was counting on it, saying it was his way to contribute to the campaign. He said he believes that Trump is “doing a better job than any president I’ve ever seen.”

“I do things differently,” he said. “I do things that will go viral to support the president. I’m trying to let other Trump supporters know that you don’t have to go to rallies. You can do this on your own.”

“One person can have a bigger voice than a thousand people,” he added.

After his recent photo-ops, Cini said he has gotten a wide response from people — some expressing appreciation and some sending death threats.

I think people who find Trump's behavior admirable must be closely related to cretins.  I look forward to the day when Trump leaves office.  I'll probably throw a goddamn party when he drops dead.  I don't think Cini is very intelligent, although I also don't think he should be getting death threats for his idiotic hijinks.  I would prefer to simply vote the stupid orange fucker out of office.  But I do think Disney was well within its rights to deny Cini access to its parks, which are on private property.  People don't spend shitloads of money to go to Disney parks to be assaulted by political bullshit, particularly when it's promoting a disrespectful moron like Trump.  Moreover, Cini could have seriously injured someone if he'd lost his grip on that sign.  It might have hit someone in the face.  

As for J.D. Simkins, I hope he sticks around at the Military Times for awhile.  His entertaining style of journalism is a breath of fresh air, even if it doesn't show much decorum.  It's not so often that a news article about the president makes me laugh, especially in these dark Trump days.    

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Don't let your dick run your life..."

Many years ago, for the very first time, I watched a comedy film starring Mr. T.  The film, which was made in 1983, was called D.C. Cab, and it was about a group of misfit cab drivers in Washington, D.C.  It was a mostly forgettable movie, but it did have a few funny lines in it.  For that reason alone, I bought it on DVD and still watch it when I need a cheap laugh.  One of my favorite lines in D.C. Cab comes at the very beginning.  The late actor Whitman Mayo, who plays a character called "Mr. Rhythm", says to the camera, "Don't let your dick run your life."

Sage advice from Mr. Rhythm, and cheap, too!

This topic comes up after I spent about an hour yesterday watching videos on YouTube starring Chris Hansen of "To Catch a Predator" fame.  I remember back in 2007, when Bill was in Iraq, sitting at home on weekday evenings watching Hansen busting would be perverts who were caught trying to meet teenaged girls they met on the Internet.  These guys were chatting and sending dick pics to people they thought were young girls, but were actually young looking police officers posing as teens.

A few months later, Bill and I moved to Germany the first time, and I lost track of Hansen's show, which I think was eventually canceled.  But then yesterday, I discovered that Hansen was back with a newer show called Hansen vs. Predator, which aired in 2016.  Someone uploaded a bunch of videos from that show on YouTube.  Below is the first one I encountered.

32 year old math tutor Mike Manzi, who goes by the handle "Mike Thrilla" online, arrives at a house intending to "chill out" with a thirteen year old girl while he smokes marijuana.  Instead, he meets Chris Hansen and gets busted.  Then, amazingly enough, he argues with Hansen when Hansen tells him who he is.

Before he visits the "girl", Manzi admits that he shouldn't be talking to her.  He has suspicions that he could be walking into a trap.  And yet, he takes the risk anyway... obviously not having seen D.C. Cab and heard Mr. Rhythm's excellent advice.  Hansen asks Manzi what he's doing at the girl's house, and Manzi claims he came over just to make sure "everything was okay."  Yeah... I don't think so.  Don't let your dick run your life, buddy.

Mr. Rhythm also says "That what makes you can also break you."  Given that the origin of life is at the end of a man's penis, I think that's also good advice.  After all, without a man's contribution, a woman can't get pregnant.  So don't let your dick run-- or ruin-- your life.

Contrary to his big plans for the day, Mr. Manzi doesn't spend the afternoon smoking weed with a young girl.  He begs Hansen to let him go.  Hansen says "no" and Manzi goes to jail.  But he's not the only one who gets caught in Hansen's web.

Here's a guy from Boston who brings pizza to meet a 13 year old girl... and offers Hansen a slice just before Hansen drops the hammer.

I sat there yesterday and thought to myself that the sex drive in some men must be extremely irresistible if they're taking these kinds of chances.  Obviously, these dudes have seen Chris Hansen on TV.  They know what's going to happen if they run into Chris Hansen.  And yet, when they are trapped in Hansen's clutches, they try to wriggle out of them in a most pathetic way.  If only they'd listened to Mr. Rhythm.  His advice is so good.  

Come to think of it, Mr. T.'s speech is worth listening to, as well.  Dignity, self-respect, and pride... all well worth maintaining.  And if you're chatting with adolescents on the Internet with the intention of getting busy with them, you have no dignity, self-respect, pride, decency, pot, or pizza...  What you have is a criminal record and public humiliation as you get publicly busted on primetime TV and/or YouTube.

Adults, male or female, have no business "chatting up" teenagers on the Internet, particularly when it comes to anything sexual.  And they have no business going to a child's house in search of companionship or to make sure they're "okay", especially after they've been caught having explicit chats with them online.    

Here's Jesse Velez, 28 years old, and looking for companionship with a boy he thought had only just turned 13, but was actually a young looking 19 year old actor.  Velez had actually been chatting with Lori, a police officer.  When Hansen confronts Velez about sending the "boy" a picture of his private parts, the guy tries to deny it.  How embarrassing!

I'm glad all three of these guys were busted and didn't actually harm anyone.  I don't envy today's parents.  I'm sure it must be a challenge to constantly monitor their children's Internet activity, as well as the adults with whom they come into contact.  On the other hand, there was no Internet during my childhood and I still managed to run into a pervert.  

I guess it just goes to show that it pays to be vigilant, and make sure you're thinking with the right head.  If you let your dick run your life, you may find it impossible to talk your way out of the mess.  So remember Mr. Rhythm whenever you get the urge to make rhythm with someone inappropriate.  Remember, that what makes you can also break you. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The NRA says, "Stay in your lane," to physicians...

For most of my life, I haven't really thought too much about gun control.  I grew up in a rural county in Virginia, where a lot of people hunt and fish.  The people of my hometown are "salt of the earth" types.  Many of them vote Republican and love their firearms.  A lot of people from Gloucester, Virginia are veterans and are very comfortable around guns.  When I was in sixth grade, every child took a hunter safety course.  It was not unusual to see people bringing their guns to school so they could go hunting after class.  I distinctly remember seeing full gun racks on the back windows of pickup trucks.

I suppose that given my rural upbringing, I was desensitized to how dangerous guns are.  It wasn't until April 1999, when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris went on a school shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado that I even started to think about the issue of gun violence.  Much to my shame, it took many more years before I actively started thinking that we in the United States need to do something about gun violence.  Just four years ago, I had a very different opinion about gun laws.  In looking at my blog posts, I see I was not in favor of gun control in 2014.  In 2018, I have changed my mind.  I still don't favor disarming people completely.  I don't think we could even do that.  I just think there needs to be a lot more restriction.

It's getting to the point at which going to the store, a concert, a movie, school, or even church, is taking one's life in one's hands.  Every day, I read another story about someone who died just going about their daily business.  And I've noticed that certain lobbying groups are more vocal now than ever, promoting their violent agenda over the good of all people.

Recently, the National Rifle Association (NRA) mocked physicians on Twitter.  They were criticizing the American College of Physicians' position on gun control, which was recently presented in a paper.  The paper outlines its public health approach to reducing deaths and injuries from firearms.

Seriously?  Someone should tell the NRA that it's not smart to argue with physicians...

Physicians responded to the NRA by posting graphic photos of injuries they've struggled to repair in hectic emergency rooms.  Some shared photos of where they sit when they tell a family that a loved one has been killed by gunfire.  A few shared photos of bullets removed from their patients.  One haunting photo was of a bullet that a physician removed from a six month old baby's brain.  Another physician invited the author of the tweet to join her at the hospital when she takes care of a child who was hurt or killed by someone's improperly stored gun.  A new hashtag was born, too...  #ThisIsOurLane.

Do people in the NRA have loved ones?  Do they not understand that flying bullets don't discriminate?  Does it not occur to NRA members that their child could be mortally wounded by someone's stray bullets?  

I think many people in the NRA must be both brain dead and soul dead.  They clearly care more about their guns than they do about people.  And since so many people in the NRA vote Republican, they also don't give much of a shit about affordable healthcare or even access to healthcare.  It's disgusting.

For years, the NRA has done its best to prevent the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun violence.  Since 1996, there's even been a law that specifically outlaws using funds for injury control and prevention to advocate for gun control.  I can't help but think this must be entirely about money, since I can't think of another reason why sensible people wouldn't want to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries caused by gun violence.  I know many gun enthusiasts talk about owning guns to protect themselves.  I also know there are a lot of gun owners who are serious about safety and handle their firearms appropriately.

But I can't help but notice that every day, there's a new story about people being killed, either by gun toting lunatics or freak accidents.  It's especially heartbreaking when a child gets his or her hands on a gun and it discharges.  So many children have been killed that way or have accidentally killed someone else.  Just one year ago, I shared this story on Facebook about a Tennessee man whose three year old accidentally shot his one year old daughter with his gun.  I've read so many other stories about babies who have accidentally shot their parents, siblings, or selves with unsecured weapons.  Clearly something needs to be done about this.  

I've heard many Republicans claim that they are "pro-life".  They mean they are against abortion.  They want to force women to give birth.  But they don't give a damn about what happens to the babies after they are born.  They are perfectly fine with innocent babies being killed by gun freaks or negligent parents who don't practice gun safety.  They are perfectly fine with families going bankrupt after they seek medical care for gunshot wounds.  It matters not a whit to them that gun violence both ends and ruins lives.  The people who are left behind after gun violence must cope with the aftermath and to hell with them.       

I am so ready for politicians who actually care about people.  I am so ready to get rid of power and money hungry creeps who are more interested in fattening their bank accounts than improving the quality of life for all Americans. 

I'm not saying that people shouldn't have access to guns.  I'm saying that we need more gun control.  Too many stupid people have them.  Too many hateful people are using them.  And way too many innocent people, particularly babies and children that Republicans claim to care so much about when they are still in utero, are dying because there are too many guns and too many people who don't respect what they can do.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I just saw Bohemian Rhapsody...

This is kind of a big deal, too, because I never go to the movies.  Prior to yesterday, the last time I saw a film in a cinema was in June 2011.  I like to watch movies, but I'd prefer to watch them at home.  That way, I can pause them when I want to and wear whatever I want.  I don't have to deal with tall people sitting in front of me, kids kicking my seat and/or talking during the show, or any other annoying behavior.  It's also cheaper to watch movies at home.

We decided to see Bohemian Rhapsody because a number of my friends were talking about how good it was.  I also happen to love Queen.  I think Freddie Mercury was a genius.

There's a movie theater in Vaihingen, a suburb of Stuttgart, that has an international movie theater.  The movies are shown in their original languages, sometimes with English or German subtitles.  Bohemian Rhapsody was presented as it's being presented in the United States, with no subtitles.

It's basically the story of how Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek), whose original name was Faroukh Bulsara, grew up the son of conservative Parsi parents.  He was born in Zanzibar and grew up in Tanzania and India before his parents moved to England during his teen years.  Freddie was working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport when he encountered the guys who would become his bandmates in Queen.  As luck would have it, by the film's account, Brian May and Roger Taylor were playing in a band one night at a bar and the lead singer quit.  Freddie Mercury offered his services to the two crestfallen guys, who initially said "no" because of his pronounced overbite and large teeth.  Then Freddie let loose with some of his trademark vocal chops and he was soon in the band.

I think I'm a fan of Rami Malek's now.  He did a great job of portraying Freddie Mercury.  I know it couldn't have been easy!

For several years, Freddie Mercury had a girlfriend named Mary Austin.  He had wanted to marry Mary, but she was wise to the fact that Freddie wasn't attracted to women.  Nevertheless, she remained a lifetime friend and confidant.  Mercury was inspired to write beautiful music for and about Mary, including the love ballad "Love Of My Life".

Meanwhile, the film shows Queen creating their brand of music, which has an unmistakable and indelible sound.  Mercury composed the six minute masterpiece, "Bohemian Rhapsody", which a record company executive refused to promote as a single.  The band walked, and later, he was shown looking devastated that he didn't trust the band's wisdom and missed out on their success.

As it happens when a person finds great success, Freddie attracted his share of swindlers.  In the film, the biggest snake of all is portrayed as Paul, his personal manager, who exploits him for his money and fame.  Freddie mistakenly thinks his lawyer is cheating him and fires him, not realizing that his personal manager, Paul, had set him up.  It would take several years before Freddie would realize that Paul was a snake.  Paul's treachery was one of the main reasons Freddie's relationship with his bandmates soured.  Freddie was offered $4 million to go solo, which greatly offended the rest of Queen.  They temporarily disbanded.

At one of Freddie's lavish parties, he meets and falls in love with a gay waiter named Jim Hutton, who threatens to beat him up after Freddie touches him inappropriately.  The two have a long chat, then Hutton tells Freddie to come find him when he's learned to love himself.  Toward the end of the film, Freddie finds Jim and introduces him to his very conservative parents and sister.  Then, he takes Jim, Mary, and Mary's husband to the Live Aid concert, where Queen triumphantly plays together again after several years apart.

I can see by reading up about Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody kind of glosses over a lot of the true story.  The band's history is presented as much simpler than it was in reality.  However, Bohemian Rhapsody runs for at least two hours, so I'm not sure adding more to it would have been a good idea.  The basic story is covered very well, although there's not much about Freddie's youth or his illness.  Sadly, Freddie Mercury died in November 1991.  He contracted AIDS, which killed so many bright, talented legends.  I imagine the film didn't dwell on Mercury's sickness because Mercury had never wanted to be a "poster child" for AIDS.  He famously didn't make it public that he was ill until the day before he died.

I was moved by Freddie's story and charmed by the many comic elements that were added.  Mike Myers was a nice touch as the record executive who missed out on Queen's fame.  Besides the witty dialogue that made me laugh and cry, I also really enjoyed the soundtrack.  Queen is a band like no other and Freddie Mercury was a one of a kind frontman.  I was thoroughly entertained by the film, even if it's not an entirely accurate presentation of Queen's history.  I definitely want to learn more about the band and listen to more of their music.  Ultimately, that's probably the goal of making the film in the first place.

I left the theater kind of awestruck... then I started wondering what Freddie could have done if he'd only lived longer.  Mercury is depicted as having a deep soul and a big heart... a love for art and music and cats, and real friends who loved and cared about him deeply.  It's tragic that he lived such a short life, but he left a wonderful legacy.

I have heard that critics haven't liked Bohemian Rhapsody, but I count myself among those who found the film very entertaining.  I will definitely add it to our personal library so I can watch it at will.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Death of an Osmond...

Yesterday, someone on the Recovery from Mormonism site posted that Merrill Osmond's son, Troy (popularly known as Dean), had died.  He was just 33 years old and was never married.  The cause of Troy's death hasn't yet been announced and may never be.  Some people are speculating about it, because 33 is quite old for a Mormon to be unmarried, especially if you come from a famous family like the Osmonds.  A couple of people posted that they hoped it wasn't a situation like the one that affected Marie Osmond's son, Michael, who committed suicide back in 2010.  Another poster wrote that the family has some congenital health problems and one of Troy's sisters had claimed that he died in his sleep of natural causes.  Here is his obituary.

Now... I want to make it clear that I am not among those who are speculating about why Mr. Osmond died.  I don't know anything about Troy Osmond.  The only thing I did manage to find out about him yesterday is that he was a very accomplished musician who taught music and had served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I also noted from a photo of him that he really inherited that classic Osmond look.  He had dark hair, dark eyes, and the same facial features I see in Jimmy, Marie, and Alan.  He seems to have taken after his late grandmother, Olive Osmond.

I also notice that a certain prolific RfM poster insisted more than once that Troy was married.  She based this assertion on a blurb she read about him on a site called "My Life".  A poster named "rainbow1" repeatedly corrected the insistent poster, saying that Troy wasn't married.  Finally, rainbow1 identified him or herself as a friend of the family's.  Given how tight knit the LDS church community can be, particularly in Utah, I believe people in the ex Mormon community when they say they know someone.  Even celebrities in the LDS church seem to be somewhat accessible, given the nature of the church.

"MyLife" is basically a Web site that scours public records and creates profiles for people.  I would never trust "My Life" as a source for information about anyone.  Why?  Because about ten years ago, I found a profile for Bill's ex wife on that site.  She was using Bill's younger daughter's name as her own, but the rest of the information was Ex's.  I don't know if she posted the profile, the younger daughter did, or if it was based on a fraudulent profile Ex made, but the information was clearly inaccurate.

I thought it was interesting that the poster on RfM kept reiterating that Troy Osmond must have been married, solely based on what she read on that site.  Even looking at it today, it appears to be scammy with entries that seem "auto-generated".  Indeed, "My Life" has had some legal issues because it was engaging in deceptive practices to get people pay for information, which turned out to be bogus.  Similar to, which sent emails to people baiting them to pay for access to the site to see "who was looking for them", MyLife was duping folks into paying for nothing and engaging in deceptive billing practices to boot.  You can also see that this site gets very low ratings on a site called ConsumerAffairs.

Anyway, it looks like the official news is out about this.  Merrill broke the news on Facebook, as did his brother, Jay.  And it looks like others are posting about it, too.  I'm sorry to read about Troy Osmond's death.  He sounds like a man I might have enjoyed knowing, if only because we shared a love of music.  I wish his family peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Troy Osmond played the organ.  He was very gifted.