Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Virginia's Bob McDonnell approves revised abortion bill... women won't be shafted by the state?

This morning, I read about Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's decision to require that a Virginia abortion bill be revised.  The bill, which proposes to require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound, would have forced those whose pregnancies were too early to pick up a fetal heartbeat on an abdominal ultrasound to have an intravaginal ultrasound.  Basically, what this would have meant is that women who responsibly decided to have their abortions very early would be forced to endure having their vaginas invaded by a probe.  Fortunately, the outcry from women's rights organizations cowed the governor into asking for the bill to be revised.  Now the intravaginal ultrasound would not be required, just offered.  The only exception would be for pregnant women who were raped or incest victims and had reported the crime to the police.

I am a Virginia native and am well aware that my state has some rather odd and oppressive laws, particularly when it comes to gay rights and capital punishment.  I have never been pregnant and probably would never have an abortion if I did get pregnant.  I think abortion is repugnant.  However, I also think forcing women to be pregnant is repugnant.

We live in a country where millions of people have no health insurance and can't afford basic medical care, let alone the care pregnancy requires.  Moreover, we can't force pregnant women to take care of themselves.  So even if this law reduced the number of abortions, it might raise the cost of caring for these women who have had unintended pregnancies as well as the children that result from them.

I also think that the decision whether or not to have an abortion should be entirely up to the woman.  While I understand that men play a significant part in reproduction, once they've done their part, it's up to the woman to carry the child.  She puts her health and perhaps even her life on the line.  When the baby is born, 9 times out of 10, she's the one who takes care of the baby.  And again, we can't force a woman to take care of herself.  So if she decides to have an abortion, which for many women will be a very stressful, humiliating, and shameful decision, why should the government heap more shame on her by forcing her to have an ultrasound?  And who is going to pay for these enforced ultrasounds?  Some of these women who have abortions are doing so because they can't afford to have a baby and can't bear the idea of giving one up for adoption.

Here's another fact.  Until recently, a lot of health insurance plans either did not cover birth control or required a co-pay.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently passed guidelines that would require health insurers to cover birth control without a co-pay and voluntary sterilization, but those guidelines don't go into effect until August 2012.  And religious organizations offering health insurance will have the right to make an exception to this new rule.  Granted, pregnancy is not a "disease", but it is a condition that can lead to disease or death, even as it also leads to new life.  Forcing health insurers to pay for birth control and voluntary sterilizations will cost money, but I doubt it will cost more money than taking care of pregnant women will, especially if the woman is pregnant against her will.

I worry about back alley abortions.  I think as long as abortions are safe and legal in this country, most women will seek having them done by qualified healthcare professionals.  But what about those who can't bear the shame of having an abortion?  What about those who resent having a very private decision intruded upon by the government?  When abortions were illegal, women still got them.  They just did it illegally and oftentimes unsafely.

And finally, while I'm all for personal responsibility, I also know that a lot of people don't practice it.  People who do not practice personal responsibility have no business being parents.  A child is not a tool to force people to "grow up" or learn how to practice personal responsibility.  While I applaud those who give up their babies for adoption, again, that is a very personal choice that isn't for everyone.  Yes, there are a lot of people who would like to adopt an infant, but quite a few of them aren't as eager to adopt the babies that have medical problems or don't look like them.

Like I said, I probably will never be pregnant and that means I will never have an abortion.  But I support the right of other women to have an early term abortion if they wish to have one.  I don't think the government has any business being in a woman's uterus.  The fact that Governor McDonnell wised up and removed the vaginal probe requirement from the proposed abortion bill in Virginia is a step in the right direction.  At least Virginia women who wish to terminate their pregnancies can avoid being literally shafted by the state...  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mormons dead dunking celebrities... It all comes down to massive disrespect

This morning, I came across two different articles about how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have elected to do proxy baptisms for Princess Diana and Mahatma Ghandi.  Other celebrities who have been "dead dunked" into the LDS church include Anne Frank, Adolf Hitler, Simon Wiesenthal's parents, Daniel Pearl, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

What is a proxy baptism, you ask?  It's a religious ordinance that Mormons do after people have died.  Basically, it entails a temple worthy church member submitting the name of a dead person and then being baptized in the dead person's stead.  Mormons are only supposed to do these baptisms for people within their own families.  For instance, a temple worthy Mormon would be encouraged to do temple work for a great, great, great grandparent who was around before Mormonism existed.  The dead relative who is supposedly in spiritual limbo on the other side could then choose whether or not he or she wants to accept the gospel of "the one true church"-- Mormonism.  

When news stories come up about how Mormons are "dead dunking" celebrities who happen to subscribe to a different faith, some church members are quick to say that the ordinances are meaningless.  "If you don't believe in our church, what difference does it make?" they protest.  "The dead person can choose not to accept Mormonism if they don't want to." they lament.  "It's done out of love and concern.  I would be flattered if someone did that for me." they apologize.  Or my personal favorite, "You can't possibly understand our religion.  You have been misinformed about what this means."  The translation is, of course, that since I can't understand and am "confused" about what Mormons believe, I can't possibly be qualified to express an opinion about some of their weirder practices.

What Mormons don't seem to understand is that choices are for the living.  Moreover, it's offensive when members of the LDS church take it upon themselves to perform religious ordinances for strangers.  It's especially offensive when the person they are baptizing actually died for their faith.  Anne Frank died during World War II because she was Jewish.  What good does proxy baptizing do for her now?  Do the Mormons really think that if Anne Frank had a choice, she would choose to abandon her religious heritage and identity with Mormonism?  Likewise, Daniel Pearl died, in part, because he was a Jew.  Even if there really is life after death, would it truly be a comfort to him after having been beheaded that he could now accept Mormonism after death?  And what about the feelings of his surviving wife, Mariane, and their son, Adam, who was born after his father's murder?  

I wonder how members of the LDS church would react if some well-meaning church group suddenly started performing a similar rite for dead Mormons.  Mormons often explain how they have historically been and continue to be persecuted for their beliefs.  They like to talk about how church founder Joseph Smith was supposedly "martyred", even though sources point out that Joseph Smith returned fire from his jail cell in Carthage, Illinois.  Since they have historically been so persecuted, if anyone should have the slightest understanding how Jews feel, it should be Mormons.  They should have the same respect for different religious beliefs that they expect from others.  

Mormons often preach that their church is "the one true church".  Many members think that their church-- and only their church-- is the one path that leads directly to God.  While some have said they would be flattered if someone extended an "invitation" to their faith by baptizing them post-humously, it's my guess that if that ever really happened, Mormons would be raising hell and screaming about persecution.  And they would be right to be offended.  As some church members like to point out, everyone has their right to free agency.  That means everyone has the right to choose.  

Mormons should respect other peoples' right to choose their religion while they are still living and stop the practice of dead dunking celebrities.  That one act, I think, would help them garner a lot more respect and acceptance from the world as a whole. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Idiots who are fighting against Planned Parenthood...

Last night, I was hanging out on YouTube and ran across a very interesting video uploaded by a guy called LithodidMan.  I have watched a lot of LithodidMan's videos over the past few years.  He's a very intelligent, yet liberal guy who makes a living as an academic in Alaska.  I guess he has a hobby checking out YouTube videos and then commenting on them.  He found a completely ridiculous video slamming Planned Parenthood and had a high time commenting.  I watched LithodidMan's video last night and feel the need to re-post it, because I wholeheartedly agree with what he's saying.


If you have half an hour to spend and wonder what all the hullabaloo about Planned Parenthood is all about, you should watch this video.  It seems the pro-lifers think that Planned Parenthood is only about abortions and promoting homosexuality or other sexual orientations.  Planned Parenthood actually provides much needed services to thousands of women.  However, some folks seem to think this government funded organization is all about selling sex to kids.  Let's be real.  Sex is not something that needs to be "sold".  It sells itself.

In any case, LithodidMan makes the case pretty brilliantly in this video, so I'll let him do the talking.  I will warn that this video is full of profanity and some scenes that might not be suitable for young kids or uptight adults.

Here's a link to an updated version of the video that prompted LithodidMan's original post.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sexual harassment...

Being an overeducated housewife, I rarely have to deal with sexual harassment of any kind.  Nevertheless, I can empathize with people who do have unwanted attention from their "admirers"...

With that in mind, I give you a very serious sexual harassment video... ;-)  Be sure to watch this and take it to heart.

Friday, February 24, 2012

There's nothing like canine projectile vomit in the middle of the night...

Not long ago, I wrote about my dear old hound, MacGregor, who has been suffering from stiffness.  So today, I'm going to write about Zane, our hilarious younger beagle.  I love this dog for his goofy personality, playfulness, and upbeat demeanor.  Zane is also a gorgeous dog.  His original owner bought him at Petland, then realized she couldn't take care of him.  She gave him up to a beagle rescue and that's when my husband and I came into his life.  We brought Zane into our little family after my beloved beagle, Flea, died of prostate cancer.

Zane usually sleeps burrowed under the covers and often ends up tucking himself in between my husband and me.  He actually looks like a little kid in bed between his parents, with the covers pulled up over his little body.

This morning at about two AM, I was jarred out of a dream by the sound of a dog retching.  Normally it's MacGregor who pukes.  He gets a little acid reflux in the morning and ends up hurling.  He's done it so many times that he's kind of trained where to go.  He usually jumps off the bed and goes to the corner off the rug.

Unfortunately, Zane doesn't have this bit of training yet.  He very suddenly hurled on the sheets between us before we could get him off the bed.  I hastily cleaned up what I could and covered the spot with a washcloth while my husband took the dogs out for a whiz.

It took awhile to get back to sleep and then once I woke up, I saw the spot and felt compelled to wash the sheets for the second time in the past couple of days.  Not the best start of a Friday morning...




It's a good thing he's so cute.  He also forces me to exercise.  It's hard not to play with him when he gets in the mood.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hoveround takes me where I want to go...

Ever seen commercials for Hoveround?  Here's a classic...




I wanted to find the one that has the creepy guy in it who sings "Hoveround takes me where I want to go..." but for some reason, it's not on YouTube.  ETA Found it!  I don't understand that ad.  They show the guy singing, but there's music behind it that doesn't match.  It's bizarre.

I guess these types of scooters are helpful for the mobility challenged.  I haven't actually seen anyone using them, though.


I like how the ads assure viewers that they can get one for low or no cost, as long as they have insurance... I also like how everyone always buckles up in the chair.  Makes me wonder if any of the folks that have these chairs ever drag race in them.  The only thing it's missing is a roll bar.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Just got back from another trip...

My husband and I just went off to Hilton Head, South Carolina for a few days.  We wanted to get away from our little town and recharge.  Hilton Head is a good place to do that.  We spent three nights in a beautiful hotel and wandered around the big resort where we stayed.  The weather was somewhat agreeable.  We did get some rain, but the sun peeked out a few times, too.

While I don't know that I had the best time in Hilton Head, I will say that we loved the hotel we stayed in.  It was one of the nicest, most luxurious properties I've ever had the pleasure of booking.  Sadly, I didn't see anyone in a kilt.  I was halfway expecting to.  The place was staffed by a lot of Europeans!

I saw an old friend on my trip and we had lunch together.  Then we went shopping for LeCrueset cookware.  My husband and I got hooked on them a couple of years ago after we moved back to the States from Germany.  We also saw a couple of honest to God alligators.

Short trips are always great for recharging the batteries.  And now, I'll just wait for the next thing to blog about...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stop blaming Bobby Brown for Whitney's death!

So, Whitney Houston has now been dead for four days.  As I pointed out in my last post about her sudden death, the public has been awfully fickle about Whitney.  Not even a week ago, she was the butt of jokes.  People were calling her a washed-up has-been.  She was reportedly "broke" and making an ass of herself at parties, under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both.  No one was talking about her once beautiful voice or her once stunning looks.  She had become an embarrassment.

Case in point.  I found this rather mean-spirited blog post about Whitney last night.  Note the comments and the dates.  People were actually predicting her death not even 24 hours before she died!  There was no love for Whitney at all.

And then, suddenly it all changed.  She was reported dead and suddenly we had unlimited coverage of her demise.  Celebrities were coming out of the woodwork to talk about how beautiful and talented she was.  Singers talked about how she had inspired them.  The Grammys hastily turned into a Whitney Houston memorial show.  Regularly scheduled programs were being pre-empted for more Whitney memorials.  BET actually pre-empted a showing of Dreamgirls, the film that put Jennifer Hudson on the map.  Jennifer Hudson admitted to being inspired by Whitney and sang for her, just as she did when Michael Jackson died.

The Whitney memorial on BET was laughable, though.  First off, they were showing her videos from the 1980s, cutting them off at the end.  Secondly, the emcee was clearly reading cue cards and probably wasn't old enough to appreciate Whitney in her heyday.  He even mispronounced Whitney's famous mother's name, calling her "Kissy" instead of "Cissy" (pronounced Sissy).

And then, Bobby Brown's name came up.  People seem to blame him for Whitney's death because she supposedly went down the tubes when they were married.  Whitney Houston met Bobby Brown in 1989.  She was an established star, beautiful, successful, talented, and still in fabulous physical shape and voice.  At age 26, she was in the prime of her life.  She was certainly no fragile, naive teenager.  Or maybe she was naive, but she shouldn't have been.  Not at age 26.

They married three years later.  Whitney was 29.  Again, she was not at a tender age.  I would sure hope  that at age 29, she would have been able to properly make a decision as serious as to whom she should marry.  But again, even if she wasn't, most people would have expected some sensible decision making skills from a 29 year old woman.  Daughter Bobbi Kristina came along in 1993, along with Whitney Houston's turn on The Bodyguard and the hugely successful soundtrack that went with it..  Not long after that, stories about Whitney Houston's drug dabbling started to appear.  What?  The R&B prom queen is doing drugs?  Say is isn't so!

Whitney stayed married to Bobby for about 15 years.  I can only assume that she chose to stay with him.  Again, even as she aged, she was still very beautiful and talented.  She could have had her pick of men.  She had enough money to stay single and be very comfortable if she wanted to.  But she stayed with Bobby, who presumably is a drug addict.  They divorced in April 2007, almost five full years before her death.  Five years she could have spent making an effort to move on and get past her personal problems.  People get divorced so they can be on their own, after all.

Indeed, back in 2002, Diane Sawyer interviewed Whitney.  During that interview, Sawyer asked her which vice was the "biggest devil" for her.  And Whitney said:

No one makes me do anything I don’t want to do. It’s my decision, so the biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy. And that’s how I have to deal with it.


So there.  She said it.  Bobby Brown is not to blame for Whitney's problems.  Could he have been a better husband?  Sure.  But she chose to marry him after knowing him for a few years.  She chose to take drugs and drink.  She freely admits that no one made her do what she didn't want to do.  


It's tragic that Whitney Houston died.  She will now never have the chance to make a true comeback.  She leaves a daughter who, at age 18, still really needs her.  But ultimately, her death could have been prevented.  Whitney Houston was in charge of her life... and most likely, her death.  Being a star is surely not easy, but she had other choices.  She had the means and the responsibility to get better, if not for her sake, then for her daughter's sake.     

Maybe Bobby Brown is a drug addicted thug.  But he did not kill Whitney Houston.  And I, for one, do not blame him for her death.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Facebook gun toting dad inspires a big argument...

Yesterday, before Whitney Houston's tragic and sudden death, I was engaged in an online "discussion" about Tommy Jordan, the North Carolina father who shot up his daughter's laptop computer.  While most of the people who commented on the inflammatory video Tommy Jordan posted seemed to agree with his attention grabbing tactics, others felt his actions were childish, violent, and even abusive.  Hanging out on the Recovery from Mormonism site yesterday, I was very surprised to read responses from people who thought Tommy Jordan had "lost" his daughter and belonged on The Jerry Springer Show.   I have to admit, I was perplexed by the people who felt this way, especially when Jordan made it clear that he was investigated by the local police and CPS and neither found any evidence that 15 year old Hannah is an abused child.

Seriously, folks, the man shot his daughter's laptop, not her dog.  The laptop is just an inanimate object.  If the computer had been broken, he could have used it for target practice and no one would have cared one way or another.   Indeed, some would have praised him for making the hard drive unrecoverable by blowing it up.  Moreover, it was clear that he paid for the computer and he paid for the Internet connection that connected Hannah with the world and allowed her to post her vitriolic rant.  

The things that Hannah was complaining about, I will admit, I probably would have complained about when I was a teen, too.  When I was a teen, I wanted to enjoy the privileges of being an adult without the responsibilities.  I remember being very hormonal and emotional.  Fifteen is one of the drama years for teenagers, especially girls.  What she was venting about was typical teenage stuff.  Some people said as much and claimed that she deserved "privacy".  But here's the thing.  Facebook is NOT a private place.  It is a very public forum.  Things that are posted on Facebook never really go away and can haunt people for years.  Just look at what happened to Hannah's dad.  He meant the video for about 500 people.  Last night, it had almost 15 million hits on YouTube.  These days, anyone can become "famous" by doing something that gets attention or somehow strikes a chord, whether it be positive or negative.  Posting the wrong thing on Facebook or Twitter can have serious consequences.

So while Hannah might have deserved some "privacy", setting her security settings to block her parents and church friends from seeing her "open letter" to her parents-- a letter she passive aggressively never actually intended to send to them-- what she really did was akin to broadcasting her profane venting to millions of people.  A more effective action would have taken place offline, preferably in a locked diary or among a local friend or two.  Because even if you set your Facebook settings to block people, anyone who has access to your feed can undo your attempts at privacy by "sharing", right?

As it turns out, Hannah caused her own problem by forgetting to block the family dog, who also had a Facebook account but apparently wasn't considered family.  When Hannah's dad went to post some pictures on the dog's page, he saw his daughter's very public rant and was understandably very angry about it.  And yet, people on the ExMormon site were shrieking about how her privacy was violated.  It wasn't.  Dad saw the post in plain view, not by rifling through her private computer files.  But even if he had gone through her computer files, he would have had every right to do so.  At age 15, Hannah is still legally a child.  It's not only her parents' right to invade her privacy, it's their responsibility.  Because if Hannah were doing something dangerous or illegal, you bet your ass people would be asking why her parents didn't know.  They would have said Hannah's parents were bad for not caring enough to check up on their child.

It's not that I don't empathize with Hannah, by the way.  One thing I think people forget, however, is that the teen years are supposed to suck somewhat.  If they didn't, people would have no reason to evolve into adulthood.  Furthermore, parents are only required to provide food, shelter, education, water, and medical care for their kids.  They are not required to provide gadgets or allow them to be used in the home they pay for.  Despite that, some people were still whining about how Hannah was entitled to her property.  I would agree, as long as she's taking care of her property and is behaving in a way that indicates that she can handle the responsibility.

Anyway, when I finally got sick of some folks yammering about how poor Hannah was being abused and violated, I decided to post a video of a father I think truly is abusive...


This video is abbreviated and includes commentary...


This is the full, unedited version...

Warning.  The above video is graphic, disturbing, and full of profanity.  When I compare it to this...


I almost have to laugh.  One stubborn commenter had the audacity to say these two videos are like comparing an armed robber to a shoplifter.  He claims that both fathers perpetrated crimes.  But come on...  Tommy Jordan sounds like he cares enough about his daughter to discipline her, if not in an over-the-top way.  He's speaking calmly but sternly to his daughter and making a lot of sense.  Judge William Adams, by contrast, is just full of rage.  He's not disciplining his daughter; he's beating the hell out of her.

I can't say that I would have done what Tommy Jordan did.  But I am not living his life or raising his daughter.  He has the right to parent as he sees fit as long as he hasn't broken any laws.  As long as Hannah lives in his house and is a minor, he has the right and the responsibility to be her parent.  And that means he has every right to confiscate her property or even destroy it if need-be.

I predict Hannah will get over this incident, and so will her dad.  Because as I correctly predicted, their fifteen minutes will eventually pass.  With Whitney Houston's sudden passing, indeed it already has.

Whitney Houston is DEAD... I'm sad, but not surprised

Just yesterday, I was gazing wistfully at my Facebook.  On the evening of February 10th, I had posted a news article about Whitney Houston.  I don't remember reading the article carefully.  Indeed, I was too focused on the photos that accompanied the article, which showed Ms. Houston apparently very intoxicated.  My comment?  "Oh dear".

Hours later, the news came out that she had suddenly died in Beverly Hills.  I remembered the photos I had posted just one day previously and realized that I wasn't surprised.  Or, at least I wasn't surprised the way I was when Michael Jackson died.  Over the past few years, it seems that many promising superstars seemingly gifted with endless talent and stunning looks do something to destroy their lives.  At this point, it's a mystery why Whitney died...  or is it?  She had a well known drug problem.  Her behavior had been very erratic.  Just days ago, she was photographed in public, obviously very intoxicated.  Is it any wonder she died?

I think Whitney Houston was tremendously talented and blessed with great beauty.  She had what so many people would kill or die for... and yet that wasn't enough.  Her life still took a tragic turn.  She leaves behind a teenaged daughter who will no doubt suffer as she comes of age.

I suppose if I am surprised about anything, it's the fickle reaction of the public.  Whitney's career had tanked and she had become the butt of mean-spirited jokes.


Though she supposedly had a movie in the works and Simon Cowell was thinking about working with her (or at least he claimed that when he spoke to Piers Morgan last night), her most recent concerts had gotten terrible reviews.  She could no longer hit the spine tingling notes she once did.  She was more famous for her public tantrum on Delta Airlines than her musical prowess.  And yet, once news of her death came out, everybody and their brother was praising her for her "angelic voice", "professionalism", and she was even being called "one of the greatest singers of our time", this despite recent performances like the one below...


It was a far cry from her auspicious debut back in 1985, when Whitney Houston released her self-titled album which spawned a number of big hits.  I actually own a cassette copy of Whitney Houston and have listened to it many times.  As a 13 year old, I used to put it in my Walkman to listen to as I biked to the barn where I kept my horse.  I still remember her pretty duets with Jermaine Jackson and her turn with him on As The World Turns.  


I remember learning to drive to the songs from her second album, Whitney, though I never actually purchased the album.  She was just on the radio a lot back then.  I remember her stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "One Moment In Time" for the 1988 Olympics.  Hell, even my stint working at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia has a Whitney memory stamped on it.  I worked in the German section of the park and every day, watched performances by The Boogie Band, a group of young guys who danced and played instruments.  They played a medley that included Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight".  

And then she remade Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" for The Bodyguard, a film that also gave her top billing as an actress.  While the movie got mixed reviews, the soundtrack was a huge hit in the early 1990s.  It took years for it to die.  Dolly Parton's old hit was revived and she confessed that Whitney's version of her song had made her scads of money.

She married Bobby Brown, who had a checkered past.  Suddenly, Whitney's star began to fade, even as they created a daughter together.  I worry for Bobbi Kristina.  Both of her parents have had serious drug problems.  I fear that even if she inherited their talents as performers, she might have also inherited their propensity toward addiction.  

All in all, Whitney Houston's story is a sad one.  I hope the talented folks who are coming up in the music industry take note and learn.  While I don't necessarily agree that there aren't other singers as naturally talented or charismatic as Whitney was, I do think her death is a loss.  She inspired a lot of people and seemed larger than life, but in the end, she was just a mortal human being.


This is actually one of my favorite efforts by Whitney.  I hope she rests in peace.


Friday, February 10, 2012

I know everybody's talking about this, but...

Last night, an old college friend/current Facebook friend posted a video by an angry father whose 15 year old daughter publicly disrespected him on Facebook.  I just now got around to watching the video and reading the article about Hannah and the laptop her father fired eight shots into...

If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is...



This dad is understandably upset with his daughter for posting an open letter to her parents for "abusing her" by making her do chores and grounding her for being disrespectful, then attempting to block her parents from seeing her nasty Facebook post.  Unfortunately for Hannah, Dad works in IT, so he knows how to get around those pesky privacy settings.  He uncovered Hannah's "open letter" and decided to respond to it in a decidedly 21st century way... on Hannah's Facebook page via YouTube.

First off, I remember 15.  It's a tough age.  I remember being sullen and bitchy back then... especially to authority figures.  However, I also know that if I had ever posted anything remotely like what Hannah posted and my parents got wind of it, my dad would have knocked the hell out of me.  Fortunately for me, my parents were pretty uninvolved with my life by the time I was 15 and never learned about computers.  And I didn't have a computer anyway.

I remember cussing a lot of as a teen.  I remember wanting privacy and being at odds with my parents.  However, I doubt I ever would have had the nerve to do what Hannah did.

Watching that video today, as a childless 39 year old woman, I have to admit being squarely on dad's side, even though I do remember 15.  I can imagine raising a teenager with an attitude problem who publicly disrespects me on a forum like Facebook and wanting to fire eight shots into her laptop computer.  However, as tough as dad's talk is in this video, I have a sneaking suspicion that Hannah will have a new computer sooner rather than later.  Why?  Because computers are part of our lives and are necessary for school work.  And Hannah's disrespectful behavior didn't come out of a vacuum.  Something tells me she's been getting away with this kind of shit for years and that's why she thought she could get away with posting her open letter on Facebook.

Watching the video, it also occurs to me that Hannah's parents are divorced, which probably has a lot to do with her crappy attitude toward them.  It's possible that one or both of Hannah's parents felt guilty when they split, which caused them to overindulge their little princess.  And maybe that's another reason why Hannah is being so hateful.  Who knows...  The hormones involved with being 15 are enough to make anyone nutty.

Some people are screaming that Hannah's dad is being abusive.  There are cries that he violated her privacy and had no right to destroy her property.  Chances are excellent that Hannah is not the one who paid for her computer.  She probably doesn't pay for the internet connection.  She has what appears to be a nice home to live in and she is a minor.  It's a fact that children don't have the same rights adults have.  That's mostly for their own good, even if I can agree that some parents abuse their control over their kids.

In any case, in three short years, Hannah can get her own computer.  Hell, she can get her own place.  Then she can be as obnoxious and disrespectful as she pleases.  But it sounds to me like her dad wants her to attend college and may even help her achieve that goal.  That makes her pretty lucky.  Not every kid has that.  For now, I am solidly on Hannah's dad's side.  He had the right to destroy her computer, especially if he purchased it for her.  We need to let parents reclaim some control over disciplining their kids and what goes on under their roofs.

The new Oikos commercial...



Like a lot of folks, I grew up watching John Stamos on TV.  He was on General Hospital, Full House, and even ER.  Okay, so I can't really say I actually grew up watching John on TV.  It's true I was a big ER fan, though by the time Stamos was on it, I had quit watching.  And I didn't see Full House until it was in syndication and by that time, I was an adult.  And when it comes to soap operas, I was strictly a Guiding Light lover, and even then, I eventually quit watching when I got a job.  Those days seem so long ago today.

Anyway, John Stamos is now pitching Oikos Greek style yogurt.  It's supposedly very yummy stuff, so much so that the handsome and playful Stamos uses it to tease the woman who plays his love interest.  She finally headbutts him and knocks him off his chair.  He's not hurt, of course.  He pops up looking kind of puppy-like, then shies away from his menacing girlfriend who is now eating her yogurt in peace.

Far be it for me to condone teases.  Clearly John wasn't playing nice when he dangled the yogurt in front of her face and then jerked the spoon away.  I'm not a fan of yogurt myself, unless it's in a dollop of tzatziki, so this would not have worked on me.  But I don't blame the lady in the commercial for being annoyed.  Teasing is not nice.

I do, however, wonder what would have happened if the roles had been reversed and John was the one being teased.  Imagine it.  She keeps tempting him with a spoon full of yummy blueberry laced yogurt, then pulling the spoon away when he tries to eat it, a la Lucy Van Pelt.


So in frustration, he headbutts her and knocks her off her chair.  Is there any way in the world that people would accept that politically incorrect reaction as okay?  It's not right to be violent to women, even in jest.  Why is it cute when a woman is violent toward a man?  Why is it funny?

I will say that I do think John Stamos looks adorable when he looks at the woman hopefully, then slinks away.  Clearly, she didn't hurt him.  Or did she?  He didn't reach up and grab the spoon back, did he?  I guess we know who wears the pants in that relationship.  So much for Greek machismo.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Poor little MacGregor...


This is my sweet old dog, MacGregor.  We've had him since April 2004 and it's been a joy to have him in our lives.  MacGregor is what some folks call a "bagel".  He's beagle and basset hound.  Looks wise, he's more beagle, but attitude wise, he's very basset-y.  He loves to talk to us, especially when it's dinner time.

For the past few days, ol' MacGregor has been very stiff.  We already know he's got a touch of arthritis.  The last few days, he's been worse.  He hasn't been able to jump up on the bed and walking is harder for him.  I'm hoping this is a temporary situation because he's such a special part of our lives.

I guess one good sign is that MacGregor still has a healthy appetite for food and is drinking, pooping, and peeing.  He just doesn't want to jump or put weight on his legs.  Last night, my husband came home.  MacGregor usually greets him by getting on his hind legs and putting his paws on him.  He wasn't able to do that last night and it was heartbreaking.

So if you have any good vibes to spare for MacGregor, please send 'em our way.  He's a great dog and we love him very much.  He helps keep me from getting too cranky.

Update: As of this afternoon, MacGregor is doing better.  He even jumped up on the bed after some encouragement from me.  I think he just had a bad reaction to the glucosamine-chondroitin supplement I gave him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jessica McCord

On Super Bowl Sunday, my dear husband and I decided we were not at all interested in watching football.  We switched on Oxygen instead and came across a Snapped marathon.  Snapped is a show about women who "snap" and commit crimes.  A lot of times, their crimes have to do with ex-husbands or ex-lovers.

We happened to catch the show about Jessica McCord.  It was an episode that really hit close to home because it reminded my husband so much of what he had been through with his ex-wife.  The only difference is, he's still living.  Jessica McCord's ex husband, Alan Bates, and Alan's second wife, Terra, unfortunately, are no longer alive.

Like my husband's ex wife, Jessica McCord grew up in a troubled home.  Jessica's father was an abusive man who cheated on and beat Jessica's mother.  Jessica grew up in a war zone, being used as a pawn.  She was troubled in high school, even though she was very bright.  Alan Bates, by contrast, had a stable home life.  He was one of the most popular guys in school... the kind of guy Jessica reportedly made fun of with her goth friends.

Apparently, Jessica McCord was a fan of movies, especially those that involved good and evil-- superhero themes.  Alan Bates, who came from such a healthy family, supposedly represented good to her, a contrast to her evil upbringing.  My husband's ex-wife is frighteningly similar in this regard.  She tried to claim my husband's parents because they were more in line with the type of family she wished she had.  And the ex is also a big movie buff... she loves fantasy novels, role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, and fantasy religions.  My husband's ex met her third husband playing Dungeons & Dragons; Jessica McCord met hers playing a similar but updated game.

Somehow, Jessica and Alan hooked up and she got pregnant.  Alan was led to believe the child was his, though Jessica later claimed he wasn't the father of her first child.  They married and Jessica dropped out of school, later earning a GED.  Meanwhile, Alan graduated and started college at the University of Montevallo.  He wanted to work in the theater doing set design.  Within two years, Jessica was pregnant with their second child.  My husband married his ex when she had a young son by her first husband.  She claimed to be on birth control, but quickly got pregnant after their wedding.  Two years later, she was knocked up with her third kid, despite being on birth control.  

Jessica was supposedly unhappy as a housewife.  She was convinced Alan was cheating on her, even though he was busy in college and worked constantly to bring home enough money to pay the bills.  She decided she wanted to go to college, too.  She wanted to "be someone".  Meanwhile, she didn't take care of the housework or the kids.  Alan found himself having to pick up her slack.  The marriage finally crumbled and the two got a divorce.  My husband likewise had to work non-stop to take care of his ex-wife and their kids.  Ex refused to work and slept all day, while my future husband toiled in the military and later at a toy factory.  He supported three kids, his ex, his ex's sister, and niece.  Neither ex nor her sister worked.  

Jessica later had a baby with another man, someone she had heard was about to come into money.  They never married.  When their relationship eventually failed, she demanded child support, but wouldn't let him see his daughter.  And he didn't press the issue because he was afraid of what Jessica was capable of. Again, my husband paid exorbitant child support for three kids, one of which wasn't his.  And he didn't press for visitation because it was too traumatic.  

A few years later, Alan Bates met a lovely woman named Terra Klugh.  They hit it off and decided to get married.  Jessica was incensed.  She did everything in her power to make Alan's life a living hell.  She refused to let him have any contact with his daughters.  She took them out of school, ostensibly to "homeschool" them, even though she was unqualified.  She moved them around and evaded Alan when he wanted to exercise visitation.  She told the girls their father didn't care about them and refused to let them talk to him on the phone.  She also got married to Jeff McCord, a cop from Pelham, Alabama, by whom she eventually had two more kids.  These are all things my husband's ex wife did after he told her he planned to marry me.  

When Alan Bates finally had enough of his ex wife's fooling around, he sued for sole custody of his daughters.  He also had her thrown in jail for violating his visitation rights.  Jessica was livid that this man dared to demand his rights.  She vowed to get him.  And she did.  When Alan finally won the right to raise his daughters, she set up a trap to murder him.  Originally, she meant to just kill Alan, but his wife Terra happened to be with him, so she had to go too.  Jessica and Jeff McCord murdered these two people in cold blood, then drove them to Georgia in Alan's rental car.  They pulled over, set the car on fire, and then gleefully went home to clean up the mess from the fatal shots from the 44 caliber pistol Jeff McCord had used to extinguish two innocent lives.  My husband's ex didn't kill my husband, but did threaten him on many occasions and once, when she thought he was sleeping, said she wanted to slit his throat.

I was so taken by Jessica McCord's story that I decided I wanted to know more.  I read M. William Phelps' book Death Trap.  I can't say the book is the best one I've ever read by a true crime author, but I can say the story is shockingly familiar.  I often wonder what would have happened to my husband if he had fought harder for his daughters.  His ex wife was capable of intense rage and violence and she swore he would pay for their divorce.

Jessica McCord, like my husband's ex wife, has five children by three men.  And every time her relationships failed, she cut her children's fathers out of their lives, just like my husband's ex wife has.  My husband's ex wife, like Jessica McCord, pulled her kids out of school to "homeschool" them.  She has told them that their father doesn't care about them.  And her third husband by many accounts is "weird".  He has a police record of abusing animals.  I only wonder what might have happened if my husband had tried to avail himself of the court system to exercise his parental rights.

I'm sorry the cycle is doomed to continue... but I am glad my husband is alive and well.  Too bad Alan Bates can't say the same... and his daughters, along with the rest of Jessica McCord's kids, are now without their parents.  While I can't say M. William Phelps' book is brilliant, the story is fascinating in a sickening way.

FOR THOSE OF YOU TEMPTED TO LEAVE ME A SHAMING COMMENT...

Please click the above link first.

Because certain people can't control themselves, comments are currently turned off for this post.  Below, you will find a link to the episode of Snapped that prompted this post.



My review of M. William Phelps' book...

Death Trap... reminds me of what might have been

Feb 12, 2012 (Updated Feb 12, 2012)

Review by knotheadusc in Books

Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros: Fascinating case.

Cons: Book is not particularly well written.

The Bottom Line: Death Trap is a cautionary and tragic tale to guys who want to do the "right thing" by a woman.

Last Sunday, while everyone else was watching the Super Bowl, my husband Bill and I were watching a Snapped marathon on the Oxygen channel. For those who don't know, Snapped is a television show about women who "snap" and commit crimes. I have seen the show many times and have often been inspired to read more about the cases that are profiled. Such was the case last weekend when Snapped profiled Jessica McCord. The case was so startling to me that I had to look for a book about it. That's how I found M. William Phelps' true crime book Death Trap (2010).

Who is Jessica McCord and why does she merit a book?  

In February 2002, thirty year old Alabama resident Jessica McCord was on the brink of losing custody of her two oldest daughters to her ex-husband Alan Bates and his wife, Terra. Jessica's second husband, Jeff McCord, was a police officer in Pelham, Alabama. As an officer of the law, he was duty bound to protect and serve the public. But as Jessica McCord's husband, he was duty bound to help his wife off her pesky ex-husband who demanded access to his daughters from their marriage.

Since her divorce from Alan Bates, Jessica McCord had refused to cooperate with court orders allowing Alan Bates visitation with their kids. She had moved the girls, taken them out of school to "homeschool" them, removed the mailbox to prevent her ex-husband from serving her with legal documents, and refused to answer the telephone when he called, wanting to speak to their kids. She wanted Alan Bates to pay child support, but he was not to influence her children and she did everything in her power to prevent him from doing that.

Young love gone wrong 

By most accounts, Jessica McCord and Alan Bates never should have gotten together in the first place. They met in high school. Alan Bates was an honor student who loved the theater. He had a very bright future ahead of him in set design. Jessica Callis was a misfit from a broken home. Her natural father regularly beat her mother and abused the kids. When her parents divorced, Jessica found herself being used as a pawn. Nevertheless, somehow she buried the pain of her childhood by mocking those who came from good homes. She had made fun of people like Alan Bates. And then, for some weird reason, they started dating and Jessica eventually got pregnant.

Alan Bates was a fine young man who wanted to do right by his pregnant girlfriend. The two got married. Jessica dropped out of school and got her GED. Alan graduated with honors and won acceptance to the University of Montevallo to study theater. The young couple moved to the college town and tried to make a go of it. Jessica had their second daughter in 1992. Meanwhile, Alan worked non-stop to care for his family and get an education.

Jessica was displeased with being a housewife saddled with two babies. She was jealous of Alan's "freedom" and academic accolades. She was convinced he had a girlfriend at school. Their marriage crumbled in 1994.

Several years later, Alan met Terra Klugh, a woman with whom he was much more compatible. Even though Jessica had another child with an ex boyfriend, she was furious when Alan moved on. There was no way her daughters would have a stepmother, and Alan would have to pay for "abandoning her". What's more, she was determined to get married again, too. Just before Alan married Terra, Jessica married Jeff McCord, who stepped in as daddy to Jessica's brood. She went on to have two more kids by her second husband.

Alan Bates only wanted to have a relationship with his kids, but his ex-wife made it impossible for him to be a father. When he'd finally had enough of Jessica's blatant disregard for his rights, Alan went to court to compel her to cooperate. At the very end of his life, it looked like he'd finally prevailed. But Jessica and her husband had a nasty surprise for Alan and his second wife, Terra. M. William Phelps outlines how Jessica and Jeff McCord carried out their plan to be rid of Alan forever and the court case that put Jessica and Jeff McCord in prison.

My thoughts

I can't say I "enjoyed" reading Death Trap, because it is a true crime book about how two innocent people were murdered trying to do the right thing. In the wake of the murders, five children lost their parents to prison or death. Three families were left to grieve for lives prematurely ended or ruined.

However, I can say that I was fascinated by this book, mainly because my husband was once married to a woman very much like Jessica McCord. Like Alan Bates, he wanted to do the right thing. He paid child support and tried to maintain contact with his kids until it became impossible. Unlike Alan Bates, my husband never pursued his parental rights in a court of law. I don't know that my husband's ex would have resorted to murder, but I honestly wouldn't put it past her if she got desperate enough. So on that level, Phelps' book was very interesting to me.

I don't think this book is particularly well-written. Phelps has a habit of using sentence fragments to make dramatic points. That style became annoying to me after awhile. It seemed amateurish and sensationalist. In the course of writing this tale, Phelps jumps around a bit, making it tricky to keep up with the story. He also includes a number of asides in parentheses which were distracting. The photos in the book did show up well on my Kindle, at least.

Overall

I read this book because it was the only one available about Jessica McCord's case. Because the case was so personally relateable to me, Death Trap was well worth reading. However, I think Jessica McCord's case would have been handled better by a different writer. I would recommend Death Trap to anyone who wants to read Jessica McCord's story, though.

www.mwilliamphelps.com



Monday, February 6, 2012

My pet peeve of the day... people who shriek "TMI"

You know what bugs me?  People who whine "TMI" when I say something they consider "too much information".  This annoys me on many levels.  First off, everybody's different, so everybody has their own threshold as to what is "TMI" and what isn't.  There's no possible way I can know what each individual person's standards are, so I don't know how on earth I can be expected to adhere to them.

Secondly, people who say "TMI" are usually trying to shame me.  Think about it.  Why would you say "TMI" to someone?  Because you are "offended"?  You're letting the person who said something you didn't like know that you are offended.  Does your right not to be offended trump my right to express myself?  And again, how can I be expected to know what your particular standards are, and why should I bother to respect them when you have shown no respect for me?

Thirdly, it's childish.  Because basically you're taking the time to whine "TMI" to someone who said something you disapprove of.  Tonight, someone on my Facebook actually said "TMI" to me because I commented that my husband has magic hands.  Hell... it's not like I said he had a magic dick.  I said he had magic hands.  People use their hands to do all sorts of miraculous things.  He could have been rewiring our electrical system with his hands.  Is there anything dirty about that?  I don't think so.  It's only dirty and suggestive if your mind is already in the gutter.  It so happens, I was impressed by his ability to zero in on the tender spot on my back with his gentle touch.  He wasn't fingering me or anything nasty like that.  He just used his hands to soothe my back and relieve my shoulder pain.  Again, what's TMI about that?  When someone whines "TMI" to me, I just want to tell them to grow up and get over it.

And finally, anybody who knows me, knows that I am often inappropriate and irreverent.  If you are offended by the things I say, you have choices.  You can hide my feed on Facebook or unfriend me.  You can walk away from me or otherwise disassociate with me.  You can take responsibility for yourself instead of expecting me to know what I should or shouldn't say in order to avoid offending you.  Life is too short for that bullshit.  Besides, if something I said is the most offensive thing you've ever heard in your life, you're damn lucky.

Believe it or not, I don't go out of my way to be offensive.  But I think after almost 40 years as a law abiding citizen of this planet, I should have the right to communicate freely and be myself.  I don't tell you what you should or shouldn't say.  It would be nice if you extended to me the same courtesy.

Yes, the letters "TMI," when said together, are very annoying to me, even when they are said in jest.  I just think it's lame to censor other people.  If I'm a loudmouthed cretin who isn't ladylike, that's my affair and I will suffer the consequences for it.  It's not up to you to "school" me on what I should and shouldn't say.  Fuck off.

/end rant



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tennis ball therapy

This morning, I woke up with intense pain in my right shoulder.  Turns out I slept on it wrong and had a mother of a muscle spasm.  I was in agony, so off I went to the Internet to look for advice.  I found a couple of articles that referenced "tennis ball therapy".

My husband and I are not tennis players.  However, we were fortunate enough to find a doggie tennis ball at our old house.  I gave it to our younger dog to play with and he never destroyed it.  It was perfect for what I wanted it for.

Slowly, painfully, I lowered myself to the floor.  I got my husband to help position the tennis ball in the right spot.  Slowly, painfully, I laid down on the ball.  It hurt, but I was determined to give this cure a try.  I was still for a few minutes and felt the ball pressing into the tight spot.  My right hand felt cool, as if the blood circulation was being slowed. Then the knot felt a little looser as I pressed harder.  Slowly, I sat up.

The knot isn't totally gone.  There's still a sharp ache there, but now I can move without too much agonizing pain.  I feel a little queasy, though.  Maybe something toxic has flowed into my bloodstream?

Who would have thought a tennis ball could provide such relief?



 

Friday, February 3, 2012

More Dr. Phil wankerism...

This morning, I watched Dr. Phil on Oprah's OWN network.  The subject was "home wreckers" and the first guests were a married couple who claimed the husband's ex wife was trying to destroy their marriage.  It seems the husband in this situation had two kids with the ex wife and, because of a drug problem several years ago, had been given supervised visitation with his kids.  His five month marriage to his current wife was in trouble because his first wife kept calling them and leaving abusive messages.

Meanwhile, dad was not able to see the kids.  His ex wife had moved 2000 miles away with the kids and apparently made it difficult for him to arrange visitation, yet claimed she wanted him in their kids' lives.  Second wife was understandably getting tired of the bullshit and had started talking about divorce.  She produced a tape recording of the first wife's harassing messages on the phone, whereupon the first wife had made insulting and inflammatory comments.

Make no mistake about it.  It's not that I don't think these people don't all have their own perspectives.  Of course there are at least two sides to every story.  What annoyed me about Dr. Phil and his sage advice is his complete inability to recognize that while the children's needs should come first, the adults in the situation, especially the custodial parent, must be willing to cooperate with each other.  It sounded to me like Dr. Phil was putting way too much responsibility on the man and not enough on his ex wife.

In this particular case, the ex wife had chosen to move the kids 2000 miles away from their dad.  Naturally, that made it hard for the kids' father to see his children regularly.  Travel takes money and the ability to take time off work.  This dad on Dr. Phil was paying child support and lived far away from the kids through no fault of his own.  And here was Dr. Phil telling him he had to do everything possible to see his kids, even if it meant taking a Greyhound bus.  Well, that's not very realistic, Dr. Phil.  In our society, people have to work to meet their obligations.  And caring moms-- who most of the time made the choice to make babies with these so-called good for nothing dads-- should do what they can to cooperate, if they truly do want their kids to have a relationship with both parents.  The thing is, I don't think some of these women really do want their kids to maintain relationships with both parents.  A lot of them just want revenge.

My husband was in the same situation with his ex wife.  She moved their kids from Arkansas to Arizona.  My husband had barely been able to support the family because he was making shitty money working in a factory in their small town in Arkansas.  His ex wife refused to work and had moved her sister and niece into their home.  The sister also had no job.  So there my husband was, supporting seven people on a salary of about $26,000.  They eventually went bankrupt.

As the marriage was breaking up, my husband rejoined the Army full-time.  He did this so he could make a decent living and could pay child support for three kids... one of which wasn't even his!  When I met my husband, he was literally living on $600 a month.  He sent his ex wife over $2700 a month for alimony and child support and also paid the house note on the money pit house they had purchased.  She claimed the house in their divorce, but wasn't able to pay for it.  So that duty fell to my husband and it almost broke him financially.  When he finally got transferred out of the midwest,  he could no longer pay for the house.  It went into foreclosure.  Granted, he made mistakes.  He should have had a lawyer.  He should have quitclaimed the house.  But he didn't have money for a lawyer.  

It takes money and time off to travel.  The military is actually pretty generous with time off, but at the time of the divorce, my husband had just come back on active duty and needed to be at work to earn the days off and establish himself.  He couldn't afford to fly to Arizona on a whim.  Meanwhile, he was giving his ex wife most of his money so she could re-establish herself in a state thousands of miles away-- a state that she chose to move to. It was up to my husband to pay for everything and bend his schedule to see his kids.  His ex wife refused to cooperate and treated their kids like commodities.  So now my husband's relationship with his kids is ruined.  The ex has had time to tell them all sorts of half-truths and un-truths about what really happened and they haven't had the critical thinking skills to question her version of events.

The truth is, my husband would have done whatever he could to see his kids...  But I must reiterate again-- it takes money and time off to travel-- two things he didn't have much of when the divorce was fresh.  And it takes cooperation from the custodial parent.  If she doesn't want to cooperate, she can easily screw things up and make visitation almost impossible.  Court systems don't seem to give a shit about the father's rights to his children.  Dr. Phil made it sound like the guy on his show just plain didn't care about his kids and wasn't prioritizing enough.  Maybe he wasn't, but I know in my husband's situation, the kids were always foremost in his mind.  He wanted to see them and was willing to travel to see them.  But he had to make the money and have the time to do it.  And he had to have his ex wife's cooperation, which she outright refused to grant him.  And as the kids grew older, they also grew culpable because they refused to even give their father a chance to explain.

I wonder what Dr. Phil would say to a guy like my husband.  Does he not understand that as important as maintaining familial relationships after divorce is important if there are kids involved, someone has to make the cash to pay for their upbringing?  Does he not understand that some jobs-- especially those involving the military-- require parents to move frequently?  Does he not realize that both parents have to cooperate in order for the kids to have both parents in their lives?

As for the second wife in this situation, I feel a lot of empathy for her, too.  I heard the shitty phone message first wife had left on their voice mail.  I watched the first wife making smug, self-righteous expressions to the camera.  I could see that she had no empathy or respect for the second wife or the situation she was in.  And Dr. Phil had no empathy or respect for the second wife, either.  His interests were mostly centered on the poor embattled mom and the two kids... poor embattled mom who was not cooperating with the man she claims is a loser but voluntarily had two kids with.  Second wife probably said some things she shouldn't have said, but honestly, I can't blame her.  Women who marry divorced men with kids often get a raw deal.  It's no wonder so many end up divorcing.

People expect stepmothers to love their husband's kids as if they were their own, but never are they to take any credit for them.  Never are they allowed to "mother" them in any way, lest bio mom's toes get stepped on.  Stepmothers are not supposed to do anything but hover lovingly and never express an opinion about the kids that aren't theirs.  And yet, they are expected to regard those kids as precious gifts, even when the kids are rude and ungrateful.  It's true that stepmothers are usually adults who come into blended families willingly.  But no one expects children to adapt; they expect and even encourage them to stay upset and angry.

Vindictive exes feed on that wounding that comes from divorce and use it to turn their kids into hateful zombies.  And then, people wonder why these kids grow up to be immature, narcissistic, entitled, and completely lacking in empathy toward other people.  The reason is because they have been treated as commodities whose feelings everyone should be bending over backwards to protect.  They don't learn how to function as adults because no one ever expects adult behavior of them.  They are purposely kept wounded and in pain because their parents are too selfish and stupid to put their real needs first.  And when I say real needs, I don't mean letting them feel their pain.  I mean teaching them to get over the pain and learning how to function properly.  A lot of people are children of divorce.  It's painful, but if that's the worst pain you ever go through in your life, you will be lucky.  What's more, it's not a special condition that calls for special treatment.  Parents should cooperate-- work together to make those kids able to weather the storm, rather than prolonging the hurt. 

Anyway... I have ranted enough about this.  I should not watch Dr. Phil because he almost always pisses me off in some way.  He panders to women, of course, women who are in the "first wives club".  It would be nice if he broadened his perspective.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Internet pals on Epinions...

I hang around on a wide variety of different Web sites, all of which offer me social connections.  I also write for a few Web sites, which pay me some money.  The secret is out.  I don't have a full-time job, but I do earn something.  While my writing doesn't make me wealthy, I do get a lot out of it.

Epinions.com is one of my favorite sites.  I mostly write reviews there and have been doing so since 2003.  In exchange for my writing, I've made well over $7,000 and have run into some very colorful people from around the world.

I remember one day, back in 2005, I got a low rating and confrontational comment on one of my book reviews.  This guy basically slammed me for not writing a thesis about the book I was reviewing.  He was interested in my economic analysis of Barbara Ehrenreich's book, Bait and Switched.  I remember reading the comment and thinking "What the fuck?  This is a review site!"

I entered into a comments exchange with this guy and finally just told him I would not be able to give him the review he was looking for. Looking back on the comments for that review, I actually realize our discourse was quite civilized.  But I still thought he was a pompous ass.  I was left thoroughly disgusted and hoped to never run into him again.

Alas, he turned up in another comment when I wrote an essay about military recruiters.  You see, my husband is a member of the U.S. Army.  My friend, the Epinions commenter, was born Italian, later became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and then became disenchanted with America.  He looked for Epinions reviews and essays about the U.S. military and politics and then left lengthy comments bashing America's government.  Here I had written a heartfelt opinion piece about why people should not be rude to military recruiters who are just trying to do their jobs.  And the Italian/American Epinions member-- we'll call him Vic-- felt the need to leave a long comment about how corrupt and horrible the military is.

Naturally, that comment offended me as well.  But I was determined not to get into a pissing contest with Vic.  I kept my responses to his inflammatory but articulate comments civil.  Every time he tried to goad me into a debate with him about efficacy of the military, I reminded him that wasn't what my essay was about and I was not interested in arguing about then President George W. Bush or the validity of the War in Iraq.  I just wanted to remind people that military recruiters have an important job to do.  The U.S. military must have people to staff it.  It's not useful to encourage people to be rude to recruiters because the government will get recruits somehow.  Right now, it's completely voluntary to join the military.  But if the shortage of military recruits ever became critical, you bet your ass there would be conscription.  I think if a young person expresses interest in the military as a career, he or she should be allowed to pursue that interest without harassment from other people.  It's a potentially dangerous and dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

Vic eventually relented when I stuck to my guns.  He bowed out gracefully.  I still thought he was an asshole and hoped I wouldn't run into him again.

But he did, in fact, show up again... and again.  In fact, Vic is probably now one of my most consistent readers and commenters.  He routinely leaves comments on my reviews and has expanded his commentary to other areas besides books and essays.  For instance, Vic moved back to Europe.  My husband and I were lucky enough to live in Europe for a couple of years, so we did a lot of traveling.  Vic had things to write about that.  My husband and I are also committed foodies, so I occasionally review restaurants.  And Vic usually has things to say about those things, too.  He consistently busts on my husband for being in the military.  He makes comments about how my husband is a warmonger and "handles weapons".  My husband neither loves war nor handles weapons on a regular basis... not unless he's in a war zone, anyway.    

Most recently, I read and reviewed a book about constipation.  Vic commented and of course, brought politics into it.  For the next few days, we've had a lively bantering session, lobbing good natured barbs at each other.  I thought he was an ass when I "met" him, but now he's kind of a friend.  I don't agree with all of his views, but usually learn from what he has to say.  I almost always get a laugh.  In fact, I have a feeling that I might have even earned Vic's "respect", such as it is.  His comments now are generally more friendly, rather than critical and sarcastic.  I actually enjoy them.

I have met a lot of fine people on Epinions.com.  In fact, of all the web communities I have been a part of, I would say that Epinions has more people I would actually want to meet in person than almost any other. It boasts a wide variety of people who are good writers and... for those who stay around anyway... they are mostly good people who care about what they put out there to the world.  When I write on Epinions, I care too, and mostly try to keep it respectful.  Here on my blog, though.... different story!  ;-)