Thursday, January 31, 2019

Lorena Gallo today...

I remember June 1993.  I was working as the cook at a summer camp in Star Tannery, Virginia.  I had only arrived there about two weeks prior and had just turned 21 years old.  It was church camp, although it was a Presbyterian church running it.  I was having to watch my language, which was pretty hard in those days.

June 23rd was the day 23 year old Lorena Bobbitt, now known by her maiden name, Lorena Gallo, had finally had enough of her husband's abuse.  She used a kitchen knife to sever John Wayne Bobbitt's penis from his body.  Then she took off in her car and threw his member into a gravel covered field. 

The police searched the field and found the dick, which they put in a Big Bite hot dog box from 7 Eleven.  They delivered it to a hospital, where surgeons spent nine hours reattaching it.  John Wayne Bobbitt went on to make porn films.  His wife, Lorena, went to a mental hospital for a few months before she was released.  After her day in court, it was determined she was not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.

I read about Lorena Gallo this morning in an interesting article posted by the New York Times.  She still lives in Manassas, Virginia, where the incident took place.  Her ex husband, who evidently still writes her love letters, has moved away.  According to the article, Lorena had been raped the night she cut off her ex husband's dick.  Crazy with rage and tired of the relentless abuse, she took matters into her own hands.

In June 1993, this story was all over the news.  I mostly didn't hear about it because the camp where I was working was very rustic.  We didn't have access to the TV or radio, nor did we get newspapers delivered.  I know I did hear about it on the weekend after it happened, since we were allowed to leave the camp on Saturdays, as long as we came back on Sunday night. 

I remember being horrified by Lorena Bobbitt's story.  I probably joked about it, though, because everyone was joking about it.  For some reason, people thought it was funny that this 95 pound woman cut off her husband's penis and threw it in a field.  I don't condone what Lorena did.  But when I later read about how she was being treated in her marriage, and I saw that John Wayne Bobbitt went on to make porn movies like "John Wayne Bobbitt's Frankenpenis" and "John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut", I had less sympathy for him. 

After reading the article in the paper today, I have even less sympathy for Bobbitt now.  No, Lorena should not have severed his penis from his body, but he shouldn't have been beating the shit out of her and repeatedly raping her.  And if he'd killed her, I doubt anyone would have remembered her name like they still do today. 

What's especially sad, though, are the comments.  Quite a few men point out that had Bobbitt cut off his wife's clitoris, he'd still be sitting in prison.  They are disgusted that Lorena only got some time in a mental hospital.  Actually, knowing what I do about Virginia, I'm surprised about that myself.  It's not so easy to convince a court that one is insane.  Again, I don't necessarily condone Lorena's actions on that night, but I do believe she'd simply had enough of the abuse.  She should have gone to the police or a domestic violence shelter.  She didn't.  Now she's become a poster child for domestic violence victims.  Is it right?  I don't know.  But I believe her when she says Bobbitt abused her.

My husband is one of those rare men who survived domestic violence at the hands of his ex wife.  It took him many years before he told me the extent of what he endured.  Having been married to him for sixteen years, I know he's telling the truth.  Being married to Bill has given me more empathy for men in abusive situations.  There was a time when I might have even been on John Wayne Bobbitt's side.  But being a woman who has experienced sexual abuse has taught me that sometimes, a person just reaches the end of their ability to tolerate.

Lorena Gallo is involved with another man now.  I don't think she's married to him, but they live together and have a 13 year old daughter.  She's doing fine, and living a perfectly respectable life in northern Virginia.  She's stayed out of trouble.  John Wayne Bobbitt, on the other hand, has freely confessed that he's been with many women.  He claims that Lorena is the only one who ever "complained"... except for "Joanna".  Bobbitt has been accused of raping and abusing other women.  He's even done some time in jail for his abusive ways.  And yet he claims the then 95 pound Lorena Bobbitt was the aggressor and he was the victim.  What a sad man he is... and how sad that so many men still don't get it and think this is a joke.

Domestic violence isn't funny.  It's also not always a man on woman crime.  There are men who are legitimately abused by women... or even sexually assaulted.  Lorena Gallo should not have cut off her husband's penis.  That was an abusive act.  However, I think, in her case, it was simply too much for her to bear anymore.  The truth is, Bobbitt could have easily killed her.  If he'd killed her, she probably would have been long forgotten by now. 

I can't believe this was 25 years ago... and so little has changed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

It costs nothing to be kind...

This morning, as I was waking up after a somewhat restless sleep, a friend of mine shared a story on Facebook about how she'd helped someone in need.  This friend has been going through some pretty rough times herself lately.  She's been looking for full time work while trying to take care of her nine year old daughter and her husband, who suffers from a traumatic brain injury and has significant medical problems.  My friend also recently lost her father and has a mom who has health issues.  She's got a lot on her plate.  Still, she came across someone who needed help and decided to lend a hand.

Long story short, my friend spotted a woman who had just been in a minor car accident.  The woman was a single mom, on her way to pick up her daughter from school.  She'd been sick, but was unable to take time off from work.  The weather was bad.  There was ice on the roads and it had just started snowing.  As the woman was on the way to get her child, she started to fall asleep at the wheel and ran into a pillar.  She wasn't seriously injured in the accident, but her car was pretty messed up.

My friend saw that no one was checking on the woman, so she asked her if she could help.  The woman gratefully accepted my friend's assistance, even as she worried about how she was going to cope without her car.  They picked up the woman's daughter from school and my friend drove them home.

I think there are some truly good-hearted people out there.  However, there are also a lot of people who would have simply rubbernecked at this woman's accident and thought she was stupid for running into the pillar.  We are often quick to judge people without stopping to think about their circumstances or the situation they might be in.  I do it myself sometimes.  And people have also done it to me.

I have other friends who preach a lot about "personal responsibility".  For whatever reason, they seem to think it's their job to determine what other people should be doing with their time and resources.  A prime example of this are the people who pay attention to what someone else has in their buggy at the grocery store.  Then, when the other person is paying for their groceries, they judge them for how they're paying.  Maybe that person is buying steak with a SNAP card.  Why is it your business?  Why not pay attention to your own grocery cart?

This morning, a friend was complaining about military healthcare, which is mostly free of charge to people on active duty and their family members.  I don't blame her for complaining.  I grew up with military healthcare.  Although I haven't seen a doctor in years, I have military health insurance now, although I think Bill also took insurance through his employer.  There will probably come a day when I have to go see a doctor.  Maybe it will be at a military treatment facility.

Anyway, my friend can't get in to see a provider in a timely manner.  I understand her frustration about that.  But then she added a comment about how "people abuse Tricare" and see medical providers for things they can easily handle at home.  I couldn't help but wonder who made her the person who determines what a person can and can't handle?  I wondered if she'd like it if people judged her for using Tricare, for whatever reason, not knowing her story or her circumstances.

I do understand the idea of personal responsibility.  I like to see people being responsible for themselves.  I just think that more people should focus their judgments on their own circumstances rather than criticizing others for what they're doing.  Do people take advantage of things like Tricare and SNAP cards?  Yes, sometimes they do.  But I like to think that most people don't do that.  I think it's too bad that we focus so much on what others are doing and judge them, rather than trying to see if we can help.

So many people would have passed that lady who'd had a car accident, silently cursing her for holding them up in traffic.  They wouldn't know that she is a single mom, struggling to get by with her daughter.  It took very little for my friend to help her out.  I'm sure the woman will remember that kindness.

It takes very little to consider that the person with a steak at the supermarket, paying with a SNAP card, might have a good reason for buying steak.  It's a reason that, frankly, is no one else's business.  The same thing goes for the mom who's at the doctor's office on a military installation.  Maybe you think she should be taking care of her children at home, using Tylenol and fluids.  But you don't know her or her situation.  It takes little to look at other people and try to see them in a better light, and assume the best about them.

Life is hard.  I think life in America is especially hard.  Maybe it's not as hard as it is in other countries, but it takes a lot to make things work properly in the United States.  A lot of people have to work multiple jobs to pay their bills.  Some people have nobody in their lives.  I look at Bill and realize how lucky we are to have each other... and how fortunate we are that he makes a good living that allows us to live in a safe, sane, country where people are treated with somewhat more dignity and kindness than what I've seen among my countrymen.

Even as I write this, though, I still wonder what I would have done if I'd encountered that single mom who needed help.  I'd like to think I would have noticed her plight and done something.  I have to admit, sometimes I fall short of being kind myself.  I think we're often caught between wanting to do the right thing and worrying that the other person might not appreciate it... or worse, might even be dangerous.  I'm not sure if my friend would have been as quick to help a man in that situation, but I could be wrong.

Anyway... this is just something that crossed my mind this snowy, windy morning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Here come the voter shamers again...

It's 2019, and that means folks are gearing up for the next presidential election.  I think the next big election is going to be truly electrifying.  Many people are dying to get rid of the disaster that is Donald Trump.  Other people think Trump is the shit and want him to stay in office.  I don't remember, in my lifetime, a president as polarizing as Trump has been.

Of course, I am in the camp who thinks he needs to be catapulted out of the White House as soon as possible, and hopefully in a really humiliating, yet hilarious way.  I don't usually feel this way about politicians, but Trump has shown so little respect for most everyone in the world and has so little regard for the awesome privilege and responsibility with which he has been entrusted.  I can't help but feel darkly hopeful that he goes down in flames.  Sue me.

Will I vote for Howard if he makes it to the ballot?  I don't know.  It depends on who else runs.

Anyway, this morning, I read an op-ed on the New York Times Web site about potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz.  Mr. Schultz is a billionaire.  He made his money as a legitimate businessman, unlike Mr. Trump, who got a leg up from his daddy.  Schultz is the former chief executive of Starbucks, a coffee that many people worldwide enjoy on a daily basis.  Now that Starbucks is a household name, it's time for him to do something loftier.  He told Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes that he's considering running for president on an independent ticket.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you might know that I often tend to vote for independents.  I vote third party a lot of the time, if I can do so responsibly.  And I do think there are times when a third party vote is the responsible vote.  The last presidential election, believe it or not, was one of those times.  I think Americans really need more than two realistic choices for president.  I truly believed that Gary Johnson was the best choice of the candidates presented, even though I knew he wouldn't win and I don't really identify as a Libertarian.  So, I voted for him.

But if I had voted for Hillary Clinton, the outcome would not have been different.  She won San Antonio, which was where my vote went (if it was even counted, since I voted absentee).  She did not win Texas.  I knew she wouldn't.  If she'd had a chance of winning Texas, I likely would have voted for her.  But she didn't have a chance there, so I felt fine about voting third party.  I still feel fine about it, even though Trump won.  If I had been voting in a less red state, I probably would not have voted the way I did.

Not everyone will agree with my reasons for voting the way I do.  I understand that, and I have heard so many times explanations on how the electoral college works and how I'm "throwing away my vote".  People seem to think that if you don't vote Democrat or Republican, you're a "dreamer", an "idiot", or someone who needs the voting process explained to you.  I assure you, I do know how the electoral college works.  I think it ought to be retired.  It won't be in my lifetime, but as long as people continue to accept it, it never will be.   The United States presidency is a very important job.  For any important job, there are usually multiple candidates considered.  I think Americans should have more than two choices.  The catastrophic race between "the Donald" and Hillary Clinton just solidifies my opinion about that.

That being said, I couldn't resist reading the comments on the op-ed about Howard Schultz.  They were, not surprisingly, rather nasty and uncivilized.  Here's just one thread on Facebook that appeared with that post.

So... in other words, we should all be voting Democrat, even if we think the Democratic candidate is bad for America?  Or, we should all be voting Republican, even if the Republican candidate is completely incompetent and immoral?  How about we demand that the DNC and the RNC present decent, responsible, qualified people as candidates, rather than narcissistic millionaires looking to check a box on their personal lists of accomplishments?

I can't promise I'll vote for someone in a particular party.  What I can promise is that I will vote for the person I think will do the best job.  If that means he or she is an independent, so be it.  But then, once again, I will be voting absentee in Texas, so really, I doubt it will matter anyway.  Thanks to the electoral college, which so many voter shamers think I don't understand, it can't matter.  We don't have a system of majority rule in our country.  Elections aren't won by popular vote.  I get that, so I will continue to vote the way I see fit.  I expect you to do the same.    

Monday, January 28, 2019

I lack style...

I was just reading the latest posts on the Life is not all Pickles and Hairspray page and there was a discussion about Joy and Austin Forsyth's latest house flipping project.  Some of the ladies were posting about the flooring and how "bad" it looked.  I'm looking at it now and it occurs to me that if I were looking at that house, I might not have even noticed.  Why?  Because I lack style.

My house is full of mostly crappy furniture, most of which came out of a box, and some weird art that I've found in my wanderings around Europe.  I keep thinking I want to buy something nice for the house, but get overcome by logistics.  Like, for instance, I would love to buy a really nice credenza, a schrank, or a settee or something.  But then I wonder how we'd get it to the house.  I want to buy a new couch for our TV room upstairs, but I don't know where to begin.  I'm sure we could arrange for delivery of a new couch and disposal of the broken down futon.  However, I'm not quite at the point at which I'm ready to take the plunge.

Anyway, in looking at the house the Forsyths are selling, it occurs to me that it looks a lot like the modular home we lived in when we were in North Carolina.  It has a very similar design, complete with the crappy plastic shower and corner "fireplace", which probably runs on propane.  I don't like the bathtub in the master bathroom.  It doesn't look like one that would accommodate a person of average size.  The tub we had in our master bath in North Carolina was a large jacuzzi.  We rarely used it, though, because it sprayed water all over the crappy laminate flooring, which would cause it to buckle.  I tend to like houses with a bit more history and character.  But I'm still pretty hopeless when it comes to interior design.  Even if I had a cool old house, it would probably look shitty on the inside.

I think I'd be hating life if I was Joy Forsyth.  That poor woman has been married less than two years and it appears that she's never had a permanent address, unless you count the so-called Tinker Toy Mansion that belongs to her parents, Boob and Michelle Duggar.  Her baby isn't even a year old yet, so it's got to be hard doing home renovations.  But she's an adult, so maybe she loves it... I dunno.  She appears to be shilling for an MLM now, anyway.  Some kind of weight loss project, I think-- called Optavia.  She recently caught some hell because she recommended it for a woman who confessed that she'd been suffering from anorexia nervosa.

And they're also advertising Austin's parents' camp, Fort Rock.  Austin says of the families who attend, "After spending a week with their kids, they actually like their kids."  Wow!  What a lofty goal.

 Apparently, several of the former Duggar women are now selling shit or shilling for companies.  The only one who appears to really be taking it serious is Jinger Vuolo.  Or, at least that's what the women in the Duggar group seem to think.

I think Counting On is about to air again.  I'm not sure if I'll watch it.  Maybe I will.  On the other hand, the Duggars are pretty boring.  I keep tuning in only to see the same shit over and over again... weddings, pregnancies, birthings, talk about religion, side hugs, stupid pranks at weddings, and Boob trying to horn in on the action.  A lot of it, I could simply read about online without supporting fundie Christian zealots.

Bill and I had an okay weekend, except for the depressing weather.  We didn't go out at all yesterday, because it was dark and rainy.  We watched TV and drank cocktails...  I viewed the hot new documentary about Jan Broberg, Abducted in Plain Sight.  My friend Donna recommended it to me, since she knows I enjoy crazy stories about Mormons.  

Abducted in Plain Sight is about a family that let a neighborhood "friend" get too close to them.  The neighbor, Robert Birchtold, affectionately known as "B", abducted Jan twice-- once when she was 12 and then again when she was 14.  It is a crazy story, though I didn't find it as interesting as I thought I would.  Maybe I've just heard too many crazy stories about religious people.  Anyway, you can see it on Netflix or read about it in the Mirror Online.

I see it's now snowing outside.  One thing about Wiesbaden is that it doesn't get as cold here as it did near Stuttgart.  We get less snow and more rain.  It kind of sucks.

And finally, to close out this post, here's a video I found from last year.  Donald Trump farts on live TV... pull his finger.

I see Dianne Feinstein is impressed.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Billy... a woman after my own heart...

I like how she doesn't wear a seatbelt until the car starts dinging and Jessie tells her to put it on...

Billy and Jessie are off to Taco Bell for Mountain Dew and whatever shit Billy eats.  I don't think I've ever eaten at a Taco Bell... at least not a normal one.  I might have gotten it on a military installation, but I remember not liking what I had.  They put sour cream on whatever it was I had.  I don't like sour cream.  It grosses me out, although I've gotten better over the years.  Germans also love sour cream and put it all over their baked potatoes by default.  I like baked potatoes with butter and salt.

Anyway, I like that Billy doesn't buckle up.  I mean, I buckle up now, because if I don't, Bill turns into Pat Boone.  But there was a time when I never wore seatbelts.  I miss those days of rebellion sometimes.  It reminds me of the days when I could fuck around in the car, completely free of restraints.  

I remember being a child in Fairfax, Virginia.  My parents wore seatbelts, but they only occasionally required me to wear one.  Contrast that to our Canadian neighbors.  I remember they were very strict about seatbelt use.  I thought it was weird at the time, but now everyone uses them... except for that rebel, Billy.

I can see from hits on my earlier post about her that she's becoming quite the Internet star.  For some time, that post didn't get any hits.  Now it gets hits and comments.  I predict Billy could end up with her own reality show...  just for being obnoxious as hell!  

For the record, I still think she's real.  I have met people like Billy.  Maybe she's an actress, but if she is, she's pretty damned convincing.  She must have spent a lot of time around hardcore rednecks.

A friend shared this.  I probably could have used it when I was a child.  Hell, I could probably use it now.  Here's a link to the place where my friend found it.

Well, at this point, I don't have much else on my mind.  Yesterday's heavy duty rant took it out of me. I also added to that post this morning, so I need to recharge for awhile.  Maybe I'll be back later.  Maybe not.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Yes... sometimes late term abortions ARE medically necessary...

Bill got home yesterday.  It was great to see him, even as I realize he has to go away again next weekend.  I was happy to have him home, because it gave me an excuse not to read all of the outraged discussions and simplistic memes I've seen posted about New York's recent decision to preserve women's rights to abortion, even if they're late term.  In New York, thanks to the Reproductive Health Act, it's now legal for a woman to have an abortion beyond 24 weeks gestation if the fetus is not viable, or the mother's health or life is at risk.  Furthermore, the Act allows health care providers, even those who aren't medical doctors, to carry out the procedure if it is within their scope of practice.

Sourced from here...

New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, is Catholic.  Catholics are famously pro-life.  Many Catholics are wickedly pissed off that Cuomo signed into law a measure that not only protects the right to abortion, but also removes abortion from New York's criminal code.  Catholics are now calling for Andrew Cuomo to be excommunicated from the Catholic church for signing this new law into effect.

Some critics have said that New York's abortion law will make it more difficult to prosecute someone who causes a woman to miscarry.  On the other hand, this law would also presumably make it more difficult to harass women who have either had abortions or have suffered miscarriages that seem "suspicious".  Sadly, there are places in the United States, including New York, where women who have miscarried have been in trouble with the law.

Lots of people on Facebook are opining about this new abortion law in New York.  Quite a few of these folks don't live in New York and align themselves with a conservative viewpoint.  They're big on personal responsibility and shaming women who want to end their pregnancies via abortion, regardless of the reasons.  More than one of them has posted offensive memes about this law that ignore the actual language within it pertaining to late term abortions.

These folks have not consulted Snopes.  If they had, they'd realize that any fetus aborted beyond 24 weeks gestation is in a life threatening medical situation.  These aren't healthy, viable babies being "slaughtered" for the mother's convenience.  A viable fetus whose mother needs to stop the pregnancy would simply be delivered.  Moreover, over 90% of all abortions done anywhere in the United States are done during the first trimester.  Late term abortions make up about 1% of all abortions, and they are almost always done because the fetus has a catastrophic medical condition that would make birth more painful and "crueler" than abortion.

However, even though the law is clear that viable fetuses are not at risk, I keep seeing memes featuring healthy babies, reminding everyone what is "at stake".  Here's one I saw yesterday...

This is a baby born at 30 weeks.  It's almost full term.  It's also clearly viable.  This baby would not be at risk in New York.  Why?  Because it's viable!

Here's another post I saw.  This one ludicrously and tastelessly compares the arguments for abortion to the arguments for slavery.  I honestly don't get the connection.  

Slaves don't take up residence in another person's body for nine months.  Slaves can be bought and sold, and are capable of doing valuable and tangible work.  Fetuses are "hosted" by their mothers for nine months.  Mom does all of the work and takes the risks.  Some people might buy and sell babies, or even steal them from the womb.  This gives them potential monetary value.  Still, I've never heard of a fetus picking cotton, building a barn, or serving as a "wet nurse".  A fetus's value is not of the labor it can do.  The fetus depends on its mother, not the other way around.  And slaves are human beings that have been born and are conscious of their conditions.  Fetuses do not have a concept of life outside of the womb.  In fact, there's medical evidence that healthy fetuses likely don't experience pain until the third trimester.   

What the hell?  Nowhere have I read in the legislation that a perfectly healthy baby, like this one, would be aborted under New York's law!  The law says non-viable fetuses.  A smiling, happy, healthy baby with every chance at living a full, normal life (that is, if he or she isn't a victim of a school shooting) is going to be perfectly safe in New York.  I don't think disseminating this kind of bullshit really helps the pro-life cause.

Most disturbingly, though, are the posts I've seen from so-called pro-life medical professionals who claim that late term abortions are never necessary.  

Oh really, Dr. Hamada?  What would you have told these women?  They wanted their babies very much, yet still decided to have late term abortions.  Why?  Because not having the abortions would mean that those much loved and eagerly anticipated babies would have suffered.  Why did your colleagues come to a very different conclusion about their patients' needs than you would have?  I see you have an MBA.  Obviously, you're interested in the business side of medical care yourself.

In 2012, 31 year Dr. Savita Halappanavar was pregnant and living in Ireland, where abortion was entirely illegal until very recently.  Sadly, Dr. Halappanavar is dead now, as is the baby she was carrying.  At seventeen weeks pregnant, she started to miscarry and doctors were legally prevented from giving her a medically necessary abortion.  Consequently, she contracted septicemia, which killed her.  The miscarriage began on October 21st, 2012.  She was forced to wait until October 27th, when the fetus had died, before doctors were able to remove the contents of her womb.  By that point, she had a severe infection which ultimately took her life.  Granted, Dr. Halappanavar's pregnancy was not yet in its third trimester.  But what if it had been?  My guess is that the situation would have ended similarly.

No, you didn't destroy anything of the sort.  In fact, I question your competence.  I used to work in maternal and child healthcare myself.  I'm not ignorant on this subject.

This nurse probably ought to take a look at the United States' infant mortality statistics and world rankings in healthcare before she goes touting how "innovative" hospitals are in the United States.  The truth is, healthcare in the United States is not that great and it's also expensive as hell.  People in the United States spend more money on healthcare per capita than citizens in all of the other "rich" countries.  And yet, despite Americans spending over twice as much for healthcare as people in France do, France tops the list in healthcare quality.  The United States is ranked at a dismal 37th place out of 190 countries.

Despite all of the noise being made over late term abortions, they are exceedingly rare.  Again, late term abortions make up about 1% of all abortions.  They are expensive, inconvenient, and painful.  Consider the fact that women who find themselves considering a late term abortion will have to find a doctor that will perform the procedure, take time off work to get there, travel, stay in a hotel and/or medical facility, and will not have any of it covered by health insurance.  Do you have thousands of spare dollars lying around for that "fun" experience?  Most people don't.  Just the procedure costs thousands.  It doesn't include travel expenses, related medical expenses, or lost income for taking time off work.  

People also don't seem to take into account the emotional pain women who have made this choice face.  Imagine getting on an airplane, obviously pregnant, having to listen to strangers comment on your baby's arrival when you know you are about to terminate your pregnancy because your baby won't survive birth without tremendous suffering.  And yet, the women who can access these procedures are the "lucky" ones, because they have the money and the ability to travel.  Plenty of women of lesser means can't do that.  As the abortion laws get stricter, poorer women will continue to have fewer choices, and may resort to the same back alley abortionists that used to kill or sterilize women before Roe vs. Wade.  The wealthier women, by contrast, will simply go somewhere more progressive, where safe abortions done by competent medical professionals in fully equipped medical settings are still legal.

It's very difficult for me to believe that most women choose to have late term abortions because they are callous, heartless, and simply don't want to be pregnant.  Why go through months of pregnancy just to have an abortion?  It doesn't make any sense.  Women don't have late term abortions for fun or convenience.  They have them because it's the more humane choice in hopeless, catastrophic medical situations.  

I think people who would heartlessly judge and condemn them for making these very personal, private decisions are the ones who need to be checked.  In my experience, the people who would deny women the right to make these choices are the ones who don't care about providing family friendly workplace policies, safety nets for the poor, health and educational services for children, particularly those with special needs, or affordable and accessible contraception to women who would rather not be pregnant.  I also tend to hear a lot of "slut shaming" from these folks.  They prattle on about "personal responsibility", but are quick to excuse people like Brock Turner, Donald Trump, and Bill Cosby, who sexually abuse women.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I don't cheer for abortions.  In fact, I am the poster child for "responsible sexual behavior".  I married my husband at age 30 and I was a virgin on my wedding day.  He has been my only partner, so I've never needed to use birth control.  I have never been pregnant, because my husband got a vasectomy when he was married to his ex wife.  A subsequent vasectomy reversal did not allow us to conceive.  If I had conceived, I'm certain I would have been happy about it.  I doubt very seriously that I ever would have chosen to have an abortion.  However, I have also worked with women in risky situations... women who could barely support themselves or were in abusive relationships with people.  And I also know that sometimes even women in more comfortable situations end up in tragic, catastrophic medical situations that would cause them to consider an abortion, even beyond 24 weeks gestation.  

It's not my place, nor anyone else's, to demand that anyone stays pregnant, nor is it my place to demand that they maintain a pregnancy that is doomed to end in disaster.  And no number of shaming memes featuring healthy babies at 30 weeks will change my mind.  Read the fucking law.  Those fetuses-- viable, healthy ones-- are NOT at risk by New York's new law.  Stop spreading emotionally manipulative bullshit to the masses!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Remembering Naomi...

A couple of nights ago, as I was sitting all alone in my house, completely sober, I remembered a woman I used to work with about thirty years ago.  Her name was Naomi.  We both worked in the German (Rhinefeld) section at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I was in high school and she was a mother and wife.

I used to work in this building-- Willkommenhaus.  They played this same music in 1989, too.

I didn't work with Naomi directly.  I worked in the ice cream shop and she worked in the deli.  Naomi was what was known as a Level B supervisor.  That meant she was kind of akin to the boss of the Level A supervisors.  Level A supervisors were basically peons who had basic managerial powers over even bigger peons like me.

I was at the bottom of the barrel at Busch Gardens.  I worked there for four summers and never once got a promotion.  It was before I realized that I work best alone.  I was also very depressed and anxious at that time, and I admittedly had a horrible attitude, although I was often praised for being a hard worker and very reliable.

Despite my interpersonal demons with some other supervisor types at Busch Gardens, I always liked Naomi.  She was British, very friendly and kind, and always pleasant to be around.  I remember I'd come into the deli to drop off my purse and such.  That was where the lockers were.  There we were in our ugly fake lederhosen, looking rather ridiculous, but there to "put on a show" for paying customers.  She'd always say, "Hello, pretty lady!" in a cheerful tone of voice.  I remember she always made me smile, especially when she described the disgusting non-dairy topping we used on all of the desserts.  It was basically made of beef fat.  She described it as "dead cows" on the chocolate pudding.

Naomi was fun to work with and had a good sense of humor, yet she was quite assertive.  I remember one time, Naomi complained to Busch Gardens' upper management about one of the bigwigs, an Italian guy named Frank who was verbally abusive.  He'd come barging into the deli and start hurling around criticisms and insults in a way that was very upsetting to the young people working there.  Naomi's complaint got Frank sent to an anger management course.

I remember congratulating Naomi on her assertiveness and good leadership and she laughed and said, "They probably put him up in a luxury hotel and gave him an expense account."  She's probably right, but it was still pretty cool that she had the guts to complain, and Busch Gardens management actually did something.  She was a good boss, and I think, a good friend.  I even remember Naomi wrote a piece for Busch Gardens' company newsletter.  It was about how her daughters had worked at Busch Gardens and she had decided to try it herself, to great success.

When I knew Naomi best, she was probably about the age I am right now.  That was thirty years ago, and I learned the other night that Naomi died in October 2016 at the age of 77.  She was a year younger than my mom is.  I don't know how or why Naomi died.  I gathered from prowling around Facebook that she'd had some kind of medical crisis that was very serious, but didn't initially trigger a death knell.  The crisis appeared to have happened over a year before she succumbed.  Whatever it was was clearly very serious.  It looked like she never recovered her health.

I quit working at Busch Gardens in 1992.  It was a good time for me to quit, because in my next job as the cook at a summer camp, I did get to be a supervisor of sorts... and I did get to make a lot of my own decisions and work independently.  I found it a less frustrating and less annoying job.  Best of all, I didn't have to wear dirndls or fake "lederhosen" outfits of blouses with ugly suspenders sewn onto them, black tennis shoes, knee socks, or culottes that gave me constant wedgies.

I never forgot Naomi, though, or many of the other people I worked with.  I did find a lot of friends at Busch Gardens, many of whom I sometimes interact with on social media.

I do have one more memory of Naomi.  This one is more recent.

About twenty years ago, I was living with my parents in Gloucester, Virginia.  I was suffering from clinical depression and getting treatment for it from a therapist and a psychiatrist.  I also took voice lessons.  I find that, for me, singing is good for relieving depression.

One day, I arrived at Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts (EVSPA), which is where I was taking lessons.  I happened to run into Naomi there.  She was directing a group of young people.  I overheard her talking about them doing a show.  I want to say it was Godspell.

I never knew Naomi was into the theater.  I was never really into the theater myself, although I've been known to sing show tunes, especially when I was taking lessons at EVSPA.  I don't know if Naomi remembered me, but I do remember saying hello to her.  She looked much the same as she had when we'd worked together, and she was just as friendly and cool.  I remember being surprised to see her, since I never knew she was an actress.  I'm sure she never knew I am a musician.

I don't know why she popped into my head the other night, but I looked up Naomi and discovered that she'd actually done a lot of good for young people in Williamsburg, Virginia.  She started a theater group called Backstage Productions.  It was open to all comers.  I have a feeling that Naomi's vision was tremendously important to a lot of people at a tender age, looking for something constructive they could do... a place where they'd be welcome to try something new.

I wish I'd had the chance to know Naomi beyond working with her at Busch Gardens.  I'm glad I met her, though, and that her memory touched me enough to look her up a couple of days ago.  I'm not happy she died, but at least she died having done something amazing for countless people, from the youngsters who were able to perform with Backstage Productions to all of the people who watched their performances.  And that doesn't even take into account people like me, who were touched by having the chance to work with her while wearing hideous fake lederhosen at Busch Gardens.

On another note, it occurs to me that the last thirty years have flown by... I probably should be more productive myself.  I tried being productive on SingSnap yesterday.  I decided to do some singing rather than open a bottle of wine, which is what I was somewhat tempted to do.  I try not to drink when Bill isn't home, and he's been away all week.  It's been a sober few days, which hasn't hurt me at all.  But I do get bored and lonely... and sometimes I succumb to temptation.  Drinking helps pass the time.  But it also gives me dry skin, hangovers, upset stomach, depression and anxiety.

Last night, I didn't succumb to the temptation to open a bottle of wine, but I was feeling a little self-conscious because I can easily hear people outside my window.  I'm sure they can hear me, too, and wonder what the hell is going on in my house.  I can pull down the Rolladen, which gives me the illusion of more privacy, but I know the sound still escapes. 

I did a few songs, including a religious one.  I'm not a very religious person myself, but I like the song "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" (even if this particular arrangement is a tad schmaltzy).  So I decided to do it last night...  Of course, someone felt the need to offer me unsolicited tips about my "bravado" (vibrato?), which I will admit, kind of annoyed me.  It's karaoke, not American Idol.  Besides, while my efforts may not have been perfect-- and they never are-- they're just fine for my purposes.  The better person in me realizes that the commenter probably meant well... and maybe thought she was being helpful.

But anyway... I dedicate this to Naomi.  I have a feeling she'd be encouraging and kind about it.  I don't know what happens after a person dies... maybe her soul can hear these things.  At least I know my soul can still connect with hers.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Lamanite invasions! Oh my!

There are several topics I could write about today.  It's not often that I'm so well endowed with subjects.  I may have to write twice this morning... or maybe I won't.  Gotta save up my energy for vacuuming, which is my much hated Thursday chore.

I mention the fact that I have a lot of topics to write about because I had something entirely different in mind for today as I was binge watching Family Ties last night.  But then I saw a post shared by a Facebook friend.  She follows a page called Utah Satire and they posted a quote from a woman addressing Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.   

She was supporting Trump's moronic obsession with building a wall, which is currently causing hundreds of thousands of government workers and other government affiliated employees to go without paychecks.  She worries about all of the people from south of the border, streaming into the United States over our "unprotected" southern line.  I found a link to Twitter with the video, but it turns out it's on YouTube, too.  Turn up your speakers for the video below.

"And now we're having a Lamanite invasion, clear from Honduras!"

I had to share the video on my own page, even though the vast majority of people on my friends list are not affiliated with Mormons and don't know what Lamanites are.  Three people asked me to define "Lamanite" for them.  I can only do that because my husband is an ex Mormon.  It's not a term frequently tossed about in less theocratic societies.

In any case, for those of you who don't know, according to Wikipedia...

In other words, this is a term used by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to refer to people with dark skin.  It was originally directed at Native Americans, or indigenous people of the Americas, but then came to mean anyone who isn't of European "white" descent.

Although Lamanite was, at first, a term describing darker skinned people from the Americas who were deemed "less valiant" than the "more righteous" and light skinned Nephites, it later became a term that was used more of political convenience.  Some people would argue that the LDS church doesn't deem skin color as a barrier to salvation.  Here's another clip from Wikipedia's discussion of this term.

So... I guess not all darker skinned people are "less valiant"?  I don't know.

Anyway, I think the lady in the video thinks of Lamanites as bad hombres from south of the border.  At least that's the way it sounds to me in her little sound byte.  I was heartened to hear people in the audience booing her, although it's pretty sad that in 2019, a woman is speaking to a Senator about "Lamanites" and I have to explain it to people who don't follow Mormonism.  I must admit, the folks who engaged in the discussion last night were a bit surprised about it.  This is one of those topics one doesn't always hear about in the "discussions".

I have a friend who lives in Texas but originally hails from Sweden.  He's an atheist with a doctorate in robotics.  He was among those who asked me what a Lamanite is.  The other two people who directly asked as opposed to silently wondering were respectively a lawyer and a rock star promoter.  I have never been to Utah, but I think it must have a very strange culture for those who have never been there.  I probably wouldn't know anything about Lamanites myself if I hadn't married an ex Mormon.

My Swedish friend asked me if he was a Lamanite.  I had to laugh and tell him that, as a Swede, he's already "white and delightsome".  Yes, this is a real phrase that was historically used, although I understand the word "white" has been replaced with "pure" in these more politically correct times.  Have a look...

Yes, they said it... but I think they say it less often now.  On the other hand, black men could not hold leadership positions until 1978.  And today in 2019, it's still just men who hold "the priesthood" and/or top leadership positions within the LDS church.

I don't want to quibble too much about Mormon doctrine because I am far from an expert on it.  Moreover, I know the church seeks to be more inclusive.  Or, at least, they seem to be trying to seem that way.  I just think that the woman in the video who uses the term "Lamanite" in 2019 is just a sign of the mindset of many people in the United States, not just members of the LDS church, but all kinds of sheltered people who haven't spent any time mingling with people who aren't like they are.  It's both ridiculously funny and profoundly sad.  These are the people who brought us Donald Trump.  They listened to his blustering rhetoric about people from south of the border, became convinced that those people are all "bad", and some of them use terms like "Lamanite" to describe them.

All I can do is shake my head and laugh at the absurdity.  But, like I said, I'm glad to hear a hearty booing of this woman as she speaks of "Lamanite invasions" into the United States.  Most people outside of Mormonism have no idea what she's talking about.  In fact, I don't think she has any idea what she's talking about.  It's a common situation around the country, isn't it?

For more on racism in the LDS church, have a look at this article.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Michael J. Fox's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future...

For the past week or so, I've been binge watching Family Ties.  If you were around for most of the 1980s, you no doubt know what Family Ties is.  Debuting in 1982, this was a sitcom that aired every Thursday night on NBC.  It was "must see" TV, much like The Cosby Show was.  Unlike Bill Cosby's show, Family Ties has not been scandalized by the leading man's sexual perversions.  In 1982, one might assume Michael Gross, who played family patriarch Steven Keaton, was the "leading man" of Family Ties.  However, after airing just an episode or two, it became clear that the star of the show was none other than Michael J. Fox, who played Alex P. Keaton for seven years.

I am about a year older than Tina Yothers, who played youngest daughter, Jennifer Keaton. I also happen to be named Jennifer (although no one calls me that) and as a kid, I looked a lot like Tina Yothers (and even blogged about it).  Even if I hadn't been Tina's long lost sister from another mister, I would have loved that show.  As I am discovering once again during my binge sessions, it's very well-written and still funny, even though it was canceled thirty years ago this year.  The cast was extremely talented and had chemistry.  There was a very impressive array of guest stars, to include Tom Hanks, River Phoenix, and Geena Davis, just to name a few.  And Michael J. Fox, who would become a huge movie star in his own right, was undeniably charismatic and funny.

A couple of months ago, I downloaded Michael J. Fox's 2010 book, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned.  Amazon tells me he's written several books.  This is the first and only one I've read.  I breezed through it relatively quickly, as it's not a particularly long book.  In fact, although Fox dropped out of high school to pursue acting, it reads a bit like a commencement speech.  Indeed, new graduates are apparently the intended audience for this book.  I haven't been a new graduate in almost seventeen years myself, and that was for my graduate programs.  However, as someone who didn't really launch, I can still glean wisdom from Fox's writing.

This book is written in a personal style, with Fox addressing his readers as if he's sitting down with them.  He offers anecdotes about his climb up the ladder of success.  It's not an exhaustive look at his career, but it offers plenty of important details about the milestones he reached, as well as some touching comments about his family members.  To some people, it may seem like Michael J. Fox (whose real middle name is Andrew) has always been a star.  But in this book, he explains that he was a starving actor when he auditioned for Family Ties.  He had really needed the part and was not expected to become such a huge star.  

Gary David Goldberg, who wrote and produced Family Ties, had originally wanted Matthew Broderick for the part.  In fact, Fox's audition hadn't even impressed Goldberg.  It was another staffer who had liked him and convinced Goldberg to give him a chance.  And then, once he had that second chance, Fox had to be "sold" to NBC network executives, who weren't convinced he'd be successful in the role.  Several years ago, I read and reviewed Gary David Goldberg's book Sit, Ubu, Sit.  I think I remember reading the same tale about how Fox was a hard sell for the role that made him so famous.  Unfortunately, I reviewed the book on and it never got reposted on this blog.  My review is no longer accessible.  Maybe I'll reread the book someday and write a new review.

In any case, Goldberg turned out to be a great mentor, friend, and boss to Fox.  In 1985, when Steven Spielberg approached his friend, Goldberg, about letting Fox play Marty McFly, Goldberg had allowed it.  He did so, knowing that Fox could end up being a great success and want to leave the sitcom that had put him on the map.  But although Fox did become a movie star thanks to Back to the Future, he remained loyal to Family Ties.

Before he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, Michael J. Fox was always freakishly youthful and energetic.  As I've been watching him on Family Ties, I've been reminded of the late John Ritter who played Jack Tripper on Three's Company.  The characters are not similar, but the actors are both masters of physical comedy and delivering witty lines.  I almost wonder if Fox didn't study Ritter a bit.  He doesn't mention it in the book, and may not have ever had any dealings with the actor.  It was just one of my observations.  

Michael J. Fox also includes an insightful section on alcoholism.  For years, Fox drank to excess, especially after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at age 30.  He would take medications to deal with the physical symptoms of the disease, but then drink alcohol to drown the emotional pain he was feeling.  He finally gave up drinking.  I would have liked to have read a bit more about that, but then, this book is really meant for graduates... it's like a speech.  A speech would not be the place for a long story about alcoholism.

Anyway... although I may not have been the audience Fox was aiming for with this book, I did nevertheless find it insightful, well-written, engaging, and wise.  I think it's probably a great choice for people who don't want to read long books.  It's long enough to mostly cover important subject matter, but short enough not to be boring or overwhelming.  Fox has a number of life lessons to share with people who are starting out in the world, even if this book is already nine years old and Fox isn't the mega star he was thirty years ago.

As a child of the 80s, I must endorse A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, although maybe today's youth should watch a few episodes of Family Ties first.  They'll probably think it's funny, too.  Hell... my generation watched The Brady Bunch.  Maybe later generations should watch the vastly superior Family Ties for a shot of television nostalgia.  I dare say Michael J. Fox is more inspiring than Barry Williams ever was.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Don't doxx minors...

Regular readers of this blog may already know how much I dislike the practice of Internet shaming.  I understand why people do it.  I may even empathize with why they choose to do it.  I still think it's basically wrong, because Internet shaming can unjustly ruin people's lives.  And sometimes, people just plain get it wrong, whether it be the situation or even the identity of the so-called "shamee".

Take, for instance, the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial late Friday afternoon.  It was the end of the Indigenous Peoples March.  Students from all male Covington Catholic High School of Park Hills, Kentucky were there.  Some of them were sporting red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hats popularized by Donald Trump.  I believe they were there at a pro-life rally, which seems kind of hypocritical, given their behavior.

Nathan Phillips, an elder with the Omaha Tribe, noticed the white teens, who were taunting a group of teenaged black boys who had been preaching about the Bible.  Phillips sensed the tension between the two groups, so he began chanting and beating his drum as a means of diffusing the situation.  He was offering a healing prayer as he walked through the crowd.  But then he encountered a smirking white boy from Covington Catholic High School who refused to move.  Instead, allegedly he got up in Phillips' face and smirked.  Other boys reportedly gathered around in a circle and followed suit, mocking Phillips.

Naturally, this pissed off a lot of people, who considered the boy's behavior incredibly rude, disrespectful, and potentially racist.  As usual, people were fired up enough to call for action.  I read the comments on News and Guts, the outlet spearheaded by retired anchorman Dan Rather.  The very first comment was this.

Below is an email I sent this little idiot's high school, administrators, diocese and others - feel free to use any part of this in an email of your own, if you are so inclined.

"To Covington Catholic High School administrators:

There is a video showing your students, Michael Hodge in particular, taking a smug yet threatening stance, quite obviously in order to intimidate and disrespect an elder Native American who was doing nothing to provoke him. Drumming and chanting are a form of prayer - suppose someone came up to a priest holding mass and stood in his face like? What might the repercussions be?

Further, What kind of school is this, that would produce a child that is so toxic, so disrespectful, so hateful? His friends in their MAGA hats cheered him on, by the way, so it's obvious that your culture tolerates, supports or perhaps even encourages this sort of display.

This shameful behavior reflect poorly on your school, and more widely on the Catholic faith that, although not without its own moral challenges within its ranks, is supposed to be educating children and instilling some sort of moral compass, if not at the very least, respect for elders.

Shame on him. Shame on his family. And shame on you. I will be posting and reposting the video until there has been a statement released that shows there are consequences for this disgusting behavior.


Georgia Montgomery "

Here are the contacts: Covington Catholic High School:
Principal Robert Rowe
Telephone: (859) 491-2247
Diocese of Covington:
Phone: 859-392-1500
Diocesan Board of Catholic Education Superintendent, Michael Clines: (859) 392-1500
Assistant Superintendent, Karen McGuire

At this writing, 4.7K people have reacted to Georgia's post.  Quite a few of them are very happy about her comment.  And quite a few others have pointed out that "Michael Hodge", whom Montgomery has identified, is NOT the young man who confronted Nathan Phillips with so much apparent hostility.  I have read several comments from people stating that Mr. Hodge didn't even go on the trip to D.C. and had nothing to do with this incident.

However, while many people have said Hodge is not the guilty party, and they have provided the name of another boy who might have been the real culprit, it seems that plenty of people who read Georgia Montgomery's post are simply responding without reading other people's comments.  That makes me think it's likely that Covington Catholic High School is getting multiple reports of bad behavior from an innocent party.  I would hope the officials of that school would be able to recognize the students involved, but I don't know for certain that they can.  It also doesn't stop idiots from contacting Hodge themselves, harassing him for something he evidently had no part of.

Then, there is the fact that at least some of the young men involved in this incident are minors who have their whole lives ahead of them.  Even the guilty parties are still young people who will have to recover from this situation somehow.  I don't approve of their behavior, but I don't think their stupidity warrants being harassed and ostracized by uninvolved parties.  They should have the opportunity to learn and recover from their mistakes.  Mob justice, while understandably attractive to the masses, can have devastating effects, not just on the guilty, but also their friends and family members.

In any case, I DO think the kids involved should be disciplined.  I do think their parents and the school should correct their bad behavior (although they probably learned it from their elders).  But I don't think it's up to people like Georgia Montgomery, whom I believe meant well, to dispense justice.  "Doxxing" people can have very serious repercussions, particularly against young people who still have to launch in the real world.

I really think the whole "make this asshole go viral" attitude needs to go away.  It really can lead to some bad things.  It's also extremely hypocritical, since no one's perfect.  Anybody can get caught up in the moment acting like an asshole.  And nowadays, everybody has a camera capable of recording.  Would most of us like it if someone caught us on a bad day and spread our bad behavior to the masses?  Should it really be up to John Q. Public to dispense justice to another John Q. Public?  Personally, I don't think so.

Edited to add...  Since I wrote this post a couple of days ago, information has come out that this situation was not as it was originally reported, and that the group of boys from Covington Catholic High School were not as disrespectful as they appeared to be.  On the other hand, they were at a pro life rally wearing MAGA hats, which makes me wonder.  In any case, my original point stands and it's exactly a situation like this that brings home why it stands.  People often get things wrong.  Public vilifying of others can lead to embarrassing missteps.  That's why doxxing people, especially when you're not absolutely sure of the situation, is not a good thing to do.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A review of Born into the Children of God by Natacha Tormey

Recently, I posted about the Children of God religious cult, which I saw profiled on a series about cults on the A&E network.  I was so fascinated by that particular episode of Elizabeth Vargas' series about cults, that I went looking for books written by survivors.  I easily found Natacha Tormey's book, Born into the Children of God, on Amazon.  I just finished reading her story this morning, so it's time to review it before I forget the details.

I mentioned in my previous post about the Children of God, now known as "The Family", that it's a cult that was founded in California back in 1968 by the late David Berg.  Berg had been a non-conformist preacher who didn't like mainstream Christianity.  He originally called his group "Teens for Christ".  Early members included the late River Phoenix and his family.  They were basically very religious hippies.

Natacha Tormey talks about her experiences.

Into the 70s, the cult expanded internationally.  Members were spread into other nations in an effort to gain more cult members.  The men would canvas the streets trying to sell religious pamphlets while the women would "flirty fish", using their sexuality to lure new recruits.  Although David Berg was himself an alcoholic, he did not allow members to drink alcohol.  However, sex was encouraged and celebrated.  In fact, sex was really what the cult seemed to be about more than anything, even though it was also very religious and members were supposedly living for Jesus Christ and trying to save souls from eternal damnation.  Unfortunately, child sexual abuse was also not uncommon.

The cult members were very poor.  Whatever money they managed to rustle up, they had to give 90% of it to the cult.  The other 10% was theirs.  Since a lot of their money came from either selling religious propaganda from a cult leader or begging, you can imagine how that went.  However, one thing the Children of God did have going for them was musical talent.  The members, especially the children, were accustomed to performing.  In the 1970s, there was even a television special aired featuring the cult members.  It was broadcasted in several European countries.

Natacha Tormey's parents, Marcel and Genevieve, are French.  Natacha, who was born in 1983, is their oldest daughter, although she is their fourth child out of a total of twelve children together.  Additionally, Marcel had a daughter named Therese with Leah, another cult member.  Tormey and her siblings' earliest memories are of their lives in religious compounds among many "aunts" and "uncles" from countries around the world.  The very first lines of the book describe an incident Natacha had with one of her "uncles", when she was living in Malaysia.  He had forced the children in the compound to collect ants, which he then cooked and forced them to eat.  After they ate the bitter, charred ants, they were forced to collect and eat fried grasshoppers.  Tormey writes that the grasshoppers weren't bad.  In fact, they tasted kind of "nutty".  I suppose eating fried grasshoppers was among the least "nutty" things Natacha and her siblings were forced to do when they were children.

In surprisingly lucid prose, Tormey writes about what it was like to grow up watching adults having sex in the open, being beaten for the slightest disciplinary infractions, getting schooling from whatever adult happened to be available, even if he or she was completely unqualified to teach, and being forced to wear rags and live in poverty in whatever country the cult deemed to send them to.  Tormey was born in France and is, in fact, a French citizen.  But she grew up speaking North American English and, aside from a few words her parents taught her, did not speak the language of her official country.  This became a problem when Tormey's family was deported to France after having lived in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Island of Reunion for years.  Not only had she not lived in France and never learned the language, she also never really experienced her host countries.  She was basically kept on a compound, so she doesn't even really have that much of a feel for the places she's lived.  She wouldn't know what neighborhood in Bangkok she lived in; she was not allowed to explore beyond the cult compound.

Natacha Tormey writes that the smell of Dettol, a disinfectant, triggers traumatic memories.  When she was growing up on the compounds, adults would "share" their partners.  Afterwards, they would spray themselves with the disinfectant, believing that it would prevent sexually transmitted diseases.  To this day, she has a bag that contains a "survival kit".  It includes a compass, first aid kit, and a flashlight.  She carried it with her for several years after she escaped the cult at age 18.

To be sure, Tormey's stories of what it was like to be a child in the Children of God are interesting, but what was even more interesting to me was reading about what it was like trying to break away from the cult.  Although Tormey's parents seemed to be basically loving and reasonable, they had many children and very little money.  The children were not raised in what cult members referred to as "the system".  Consequently, they had very little schooling, no official documents, and no concept of how to live life independently.  Tormey writes of getting a job in Cannes, France while she was living with an abusive boyfriend.  Fortune smiled on her, and her boss was a kind hearted woman who took her under her wing and helped her become more independent.  But the process was difficult.  Tormey had been raised to believe she was in an army that would save the world from the Antichrist.  She was never taught how to function like a regular person does.

A Current Affair report on the Children of God.

I found Tormey's book hard to put down.  She's a good writer and her story is extremely compelling, if not very disturbing.  I was amazed by how many children her mother had.  After awhile, it got hard to keep them all straight.  This cult kind of puts the Duggar family to shame, though.  If you are interested in reading about cults or an anecdotal account of what it's like to grow up in the Children of God cult, I would highly recommend her book.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Stupid people tricks...

Although I know people have been attracted to fame and fortune since the beginning of time, some people will go to utterly stupid lengths to gain a modicum of temporary notoriety.  Many times, these idiots end up with permanent injuries or killing themselves.  Sometimes, they hurt other people.  

You'd think a 27 year old man would be able to think of ways to go viral without doing something crazy.  But no, Nick Naydev, of Vancouver, Washington, decided he wanted to go viral on the Internet in a way that put himself and others at risk.  Six days ago, Mr. Naydev was with several companions on the world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas.  They were in the Bahamas, and Naydev was apparently still drunk from partying on the previous night.

For some reason, Naydev decided to jump from the eleventh deck of the ship as his friends filmed him.  Somehow, Naydev survived the fall, and he was then picked up by a small boat in the area.  Once he reached the shore, security officials from the ship met him and informed him that he and his buddies would be disembarking and finding their own way back home.  They have all been banned from sailing on Royal Caribbean for the rest of their lives.

What a moron!

My very first cruise was on a Royal Caribbean ship.  To be honest, although we had a good time cruising the Baltics, I wouldn't mind not sailing with them again, now that I've experienced all inclusive cruises.  However, I wouldn't want to be banned from sailing because I did something stupid.  

People die from falling off of cruise ships.  Just last week, a sixteen year old, who was trying to enter his room via an adjacent balcony, died on a Royal Caribbean ship when he slipped and fell into the ocean.  That teen was on Harmony of the Seas, when it was docked in Haiti.  Weeks prior to that, a Harmony of the Seas crew member was killed after going overboard in the Atlantic Ocean on Christmas Day.  Naydev was lucky enough to survive without doing any permanent damage.  He says he had trouble walking for about three days.  I suspect he had youth and drunkenness in his favor.

Reading about this incident, along with a story about a stupid 17 year old girl in Utah who decided to take the "Bird Box Challenge" (driving with her eyes covered), makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with people.  Does it not occur to these fame seekers that risk taking behaviors inconvenience people and put others in danger?  

The guy who jumped off of the cruise ship no doubt inconvenienced other people: vacation seekers who work hard all year and long for a week of fun on a cruise ship-- crew members who already have enough to do and now have to deal with his sorry ass-- anyone in the water who happened to be near where he fell.  What if his stupid ass landed on someone's boat or something?  It's not like people are expecting random bodies to fall from the sky.

And the girl doing the "Bird Box Challege"... what the fuck was that all about?  Was she bored?  Suicidal?  Feeling frisky?  She could have easily killed herself or other people.

I haven't yet seen Bird Box myself.  I thought it sounded like it could be an interesting film, but now that I see that it's spawning stupidity, I think I might pass.  

Moving on...

I ordered a backrest pillow for my bed.  I used to have one when I was in college.  It was handed down from my sisters.  I remember it was yellow corduroy and ugly as hell, but it was very durable.  It lasted all four years before it finally needed to be tossed.  Contrast that to the pillow that arrived at my house yesterday...

I just took it out of the box.  It already has a hole in the seam.  I haven't even used it yet.

I suppose I could send it back, but I ordered it from regular Amazon.  I'm handy with a needle and thread, so I'll probably just sew up the seam.  Still, it's irksome that this thing arrived looking like that.  Shitty workmanship.

And... last night, I had wine for the first time in several days.  I was very surprised when Bill was talking about how good it tasted.  Unfortunately, something has happened to my sense of taste.  I didn't really enjoy the wine at all.  I hope this is a temporary condition.  I think losing my sense of taste would probably send me into a depression.