Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hiding out in northwest San Antonio...

Bill has gone to supervise the movers as they put all our stuff on the truck.  I have a feeling this move is going to be a bit half-assed.  But it's easier for me to stay here with the dogs, so they don't run amok while people are coming in and out of the truck.  There's a lot to get done today, but at least just about everything was moved to the downstairs area or the garage.  That should speed things up.

The packers didn't quite finish packing, though, and I have a feeling this last piece could take longer for that reason.  I swear, this last month in that house has been a nightmare and this move is very painful.  I don't want to say it's as bad as last year's move was, but it's coming pretty close so far.  That poor packer that got food poisoning did the lion's share of the work all by herself yesterday.  She did not look well when she left.

Yesterday, Bill took the dogs to the military vets to get our Germany paperwork.  He said they were very impressed by how fit Zane and Arran are.  It's true, I'm not good at keeping myself svelte, but I am pretty good at keeping our hounds at their optimal weights.  I think Arran just has a very fast metabolism, but I did see an old photo of him when he was almost fat.  I recently started giving him more food because he was a little too thin.  He's gained a couple of pounds and looks better now.  Zane is looking great.  He's very finicky for a beagle, though.  In fact, though he's been guarding it from Arran, there's a bowl of food on the floor waiting for when Zane is ready to eat it.

I hate sitting in hotels with dogs.  It's hard to keep them quiet when they react to noises or want to play.  It'll be somewhat worse in Germany, although they are pretty nice about letting you take them in public.  Fortunately, the dogs we have now aren't as troublesome as the ones we had last time we moved to Germany.  They are friendlier and not as noisy.

I still have too much stuff.  Both the bag I want to check and my carry on are stuffed with stuff.  I need to get rid of some of it before Saturday.  This really has been the month from hell.  I hope it doesn't continue into August.

  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I made my mom very happy...

After I visited my dad in the hospital on July 6, I told my mom I'd make her a CD of some of my songs.  I sent it to her the other day.  She got it and listened to it.  Today, she left me a message on my phone, telling me how much she loved the CD.  She said it made her cry and it was the first time she'd cried since my dad died.  She said she really needed to cry, so she thanked me for that.  How many times in a lifetime does your mom thank you for making her cry?  My mom must have really loved the CD.  If something sucks, she says so.

That's one thing nice that's happened today.  So far, the rest of the day has rather sucked.  The storage movers only sent two people and they aren't even close to being done.  It's 3:00 and we have to get packed up and loaded out tomorrow.  They still need to do the garage and pack up the kitchen.  They ran out of dish packs and can't finish until they get more.  Bill and I have had to cart stuff downstairs because we need the upstairs empty so the carpets can be cleaned.

ETA: One of the packers left early and the other one ate Chinese food from a gas station and got food poisoning.  She really didn't look well when we finally finished around 7:00.

Last year, we had a shitload of people show up and make a mess of things.  This year, we have two people moving too slowly and without enough supplies.  The guys who were here last week were really great.  I wish they could have done our whole move.

I'm going to stay at the hotel tomorrow and look after the dogs.  That way, the movers can get in and out without having to worry about them getting loose and I don't have to worry about losing my wits.

When I get to Germany, I will make my mom another CD with hymns as she requested.  Hopefully, we'll find a house that is free standing.  I wouldn't want to disturb the neighbors.

I'm just glad I don't have to go back to that house ever again.
  

In a hotel...

Yesterday, less than two hours before the prospective appointment, the real estate idiots called again for another showing.  My house looks like a tornado hit it.  There is stuff strewn all over the place.  No matter.  We gotta show the shitty house, despite the fact that I'm tired, sweaty, and in dire need of a shower and a cold beer.

So these folks made an appointment from 6:00 to 7:00.  Because we no longer have a bed in the house, we had plans to go to a hotel last night.  But we had to wait for the real estate idiots because Bill needed to deadbolt the door.  It's not unheard of for real estate idiots not to lock up after they leave.

So we waited...  and they showed up at 6:57, just as Bill was taking all the trash out (there was a lot). The real estate dick was all "Didn't they tell you we were coming?"

Bill looked at his watch and said, "From 6 to 7."

So then the guy asks if we're the homeowners and how we like the neighborhood.  Bill was honest.  He showed the cute pregnant lady who was with her husband the blood spots on the driveway.  They are mostly washed away now.  Their tour lasted less than five minutes; then they were out.  I think they could tell we were irritated, although Bill was his usually super nice self and welcomed them.   When they were finished looking, the lady said to me, "Thanks for letting us see the house.  Mine will soon look like this too."  They seemed like a nice couple... too nice for that neighborhood. I know I looked pissy, but then that's how I usually feel when I'm moving... especially when I also have to deal with prospective tenants.

I get that the house needs to be shown, but I think forcing us to deal with these folks when we're in the midst of packing and cleaning is a huge waste of time.  It pisses us off and makes us less inclined to be positive about the property or the property managers.  Also,  who wants to lease a house that looks like shit?  It'll be cleaned up on Thursday afternoon and much more presentable.  And we won't be there to send out bad vibes.  I have to say, this particular property management group has been especially aggravating to deal with.  I look forward to writing a complete review once we're safely out of our lease.

I think our landlord needs to drop the rent a bit.  It's too high for the area and that house.  He got lucky with us because of the situation we were in last year.  I will never make that mistake again.

We loaded up our pimpmobile rental car and drove to a La Quinta way on the other side of San Antonio, because it's close to where Bill's mom lives and she's driving us to the airport in Houston on Saturday.  It takes about 40 minutes to get to our soon to be former home from this property.

The good news is that the storage folks are coming today to pack up the rest of our stuff.  Hopefully, they will be able to load it.  Tomorrow, the carpet guy is coming.  I don't intend to be there for that.  Friday, we will rest up, relax, take care of any unfinished business, and Saturday, we're out of here.

The dogs are being pretty good so far.  Zane only barked once last night when I was eating my dinner.  Hopefully, they will continue to be good hotel guests when we're in Germany.  Germans love dogs, but only when they are well-behaved.  We booked for nine days at a gasthaus near where Bill will be working.  I doubt that will be enough time, but at least we have somewhere to go when we arrive jet lagged as hell on Sunday.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another part of the move is done... or bye bye yucky furniture from the 70s!

I called USAA yesterday to ask why they declined my credit card.  Turns out there was a discrepancy in addresses.  My card, which I have been using as seldom as possible since we moved last year, was still associated with our North Carolina address.  Bill naturally input our Texas address into the shipping service's Web site.  The lady at USAA who helped me was pretty awesome and is a credit to the company.  With that straightened out, I made a big charge so our cars will ship.

Today, we're going to get rid of some ugly 70s era bedroom furniture I inherited from my parents.  We have a full sized bed that used to be used by one of my sisters.  Two dressers, a vanity, a bench and two big mirrors are also going.  I'm glad to see them go.  We never use the second guest room and even if we did, I'd prefer to update it with some decent furniture.  We're donating the stuff...  hopefully they can use it.  Wish they could take the yucky mattress, too.  We were going to have a junk dealer take it, but I think we'll just put it in storage and dispose of it when we get back to the States.


Tomorrow, the rest of our stuff will be packed up and moved into storage.  Bill brought me a bottle of champagne yesterday because I was in a foul mood.  Then he took me out to lunch.  We had a very handsome waiter at Macaroni Grill.  I had a good time with some "art therapy"...


If I had curly hair, this would look like me.

We hung out and talked last night...  My mood was vastly improved by the time we went to bed.  Bill is excited about going to work again.  I'm excited that he's going to work, too. 

I called my mom last night to discuss some business with her.  I asked if she'd mind if Bill spoke at my dad's memorial in November.  Bill understood my dad on a level most couldn't.  Mom was fine with it.  Then she asked me what songs I would be singing.  I hope I can pull it off without losing it.  I sent my mom a CD with some of my recordings.  One of the songs I want to do is not on the CD because I haven't been able to make a recording I've been satisfied with yet.  Bill requested that I sing it, though, so I'll try to.

I invited my mom to Germany, too.  Told her we were even bringing an extra bed.  Maybe this time, she'll make it.  I don't think she's ever been to Germany, though she's been to a lot of other places.

Slowly, but surely, this is working out.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Why can't I have a normal life?

This has been the month from hell.  This morning, Bill tried to pay for shipping our cars with my credit card, which has a huge limit and plenty of room left on it.  It should have been a simple transaction, but the damn card was declined.  I'm sure it's a simple issue that will be rectified with relative ease.  Still, it annoys me that we have to deal with it.  It annoys me that we have to spend so much money we don't have to get to the one place that seemed interested in giving Bill a job... a place that is thousands of miles away.  I love Germany; I really do... I'm just sick of this process and we're not even halfway through it.  Why couldn't we find a place in Texas?  I mean, we'd be moving anyway... but we wouldn't be dealing with all this logistical shit.


Musical interlude.  This song sums up my feelings right now.

Why can't I be a normal person living in a normal place with a normal job?  I know... I would get bored doing that.  I like living abroad.  I don't like the logistics of moving abroad.  It's bad enough when the Army pays for it and arranges everything.  It really sucks when you have to do it yourself.

I think Zane senses the tension.  This morning, I was talking to Bill and I know I sounded irritated.  Part of the reason we have to use my credit card is because Bill let his ex wife ruin his finances.  He has recovered from that, except for the fact that he doesn't have as much credit as I do.  Ridiculous, isn't it?  He makes the money, but I have more credit.  So big purchases usually fall to me and then we pay them off.  This time, my credit card needs to handle moving our cars.  I was bitching about that and no doubt sounding upset.

Zane started whining, acting like he was hungry or something.  Turns out he just wanted to play.  I think he sensed us arguing and decided to distract us with a play session.  He doesn't like it when I get upset.  He's very sensitive.  It's possible that he was just bored, but I think he wanted to get us to lighten up.  


This is what I should do, right?  Turn it off...

We'll get through this.  I just wish it would end already.  In a month, I may be less tense.  I may be living in a new house or a hotel room.  But we'll be in Germany... probably still driving a rental car as we try to keep the dogs from annoying people.  Moving to Germany sucks.  Being there is awesome, though... and it's probably worth all this grief.  At the very least, Bill has a job and it will pay enough... at least for the first year, right?

In a few days, we'll get retirement pay for the first time, which is a nice thing.  It would have been nice if we'd gotten it July 15th.  Maybe I wouldn't be so fucking tense right now if that had happened.  

July 2014 in review...

1.  My dad goes into the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery.  It fucks up what's left of his health and we have to race to Virginia to see him one last time.  It's not a bad trip, though it is a bit stressful because of how weird death makes people.

2.  My dad dies.

3.  Property managers threaten us with $50 charges because we dare to ask for a couple of days without showings.  We get bombarded with showings because this house is overpriced and sucks.    

4.  Bill doesn't get his official hire letter until a couple of weeks into July, at which point we realize that the move is going to be partly funded on our dime... which we don't have, because we didn't get Bill's retirement check.  Fortunately, we have my CD, which I started saving a couple of years ago and doesn't quite cover the cost of sending our cars to Germany, but we have to live on it because Bill hasn't been paid yet.

5.  Moving just flat out sucks, regardless of where you're moving to.  I haven't been feeling well this month, either.

6.  These are all first world problems, but they still stress me out.


Perspective...  I need it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I think I turned off another tenant... ;)

Now that we only have a few days left, I've noticed my attitude is becoming more DILLIGAF.  Yesterday, the real estate fuckers called about a 2:00 appointment to show the house.  I was annoyed, because I typically spend the day in my nightie on Saturdays and Sundays if I don't have something else going on.  Anyway, I got dressed.  At about a quarter to two, we got another phone call telling us that the appointment was postponed an hour.

Then at just before 2:00, the doorbell rang.  An Army guy and his wife were standing at our front door.  They said they were there to meet the real estate agent.  Bill laughed and said, "I guess she didn't tell you the appointment was postponed?"

The guy said she hadn't, so we availed ourselves to answer their questions.  I told them I wasn't wild about the neighborhood or the house.  I didn't get too much into specifics, but we left them with a distinct impression that this house sucks and so do the property managers.  Bill was very friendly and gave the guy the scoop on the commute to Fort Sam.  Then we said we'd be here if they wanted to check it out later.

I told Bill, "I bet they cancel."  Sure enough, about a half an hour later, the service called to cancel the appointment.

I celebrated by swimming nude while drinking copious amounts of beer.

Went to bed before 9:00 and slept like a baby.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hostile, but if someone asks me about this house, I'm going to be honest.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A non moving related post... God wants you to help her become a lawyer!

Kudos to my Facebook friend, Scooter, who posted this article about Julianna Battenfield, a pretty, Christian, Furman University graduate who wants to be a lawyer.  She has applied and been accepted to Pat Robertson's Regent University in Virginia.  Having grown up near Pat Robertson's Christian empire, I know about Regent.  Battenfield has a long and expensive road ahead of her.  How does she plan to pay for law school?

Well... according to her blog, Ms. Battenfield has declined all student loans because God told her to.  But she needs $55,000 for her first year of school.  She needs $12,500 by August 14.  Since her last blog post was in May of this year, I'm not sure how she's doing, raising the money.  Apparently, she's  using crowd funding to raise funds for her tuition.  She thinks God will make it happen for her... or at least that's what she's telling everyone who visits her multiple pages on the Internet.

I have to say, it takes brass balls to do something like this.  I never would have had the nerve, nor would it ever have occurred to me, to ask for cash from strangers when I was pondering going to grad school.  Moreover, it boggles my mind paying $55,000 for a single year of school, even as I understand that it costs a lot of money to go to law school or med school.  I still owe about $40,000 for my three degrees that I don't use...  I mean, I had full intentions of using them when I was in school, but life didn't turn out that way for me.  I really hope Ms. Battenfield is sure about her goals and is willing to pursue them with dogged determination.  If not, she could be on the receiving end of a lot of heat.  What if she turns out to be like Catherine, the lawyer turned illustrator (although I think that was actually a brilliant career move for Catherine)?

I took a moment to watch Julianna's movie trailer about her pitch to crowd fund her law school ambitions.  She appears to be a high achiever.  She graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.  Furman is a good school, historically affiliated with the Baptist church, though I don't think the campus is particularly religious anymore.  According to CollegeData.com, it cost about $57,000 annually to go to Furman during the 2012-13 school year.  If that's true, then Julianna is probably accustomed to paying a lot to go to school.  I can see by her movie that she was involved with dance and she must be a decent student.  She probably got some scholarships to knock the price tag down a bit.



But...  I look at this "movie trailer" and I don't see someone who appears to be particularly Christian.  She obviously did some missionary work in Africa-- Mozambique, I think.  I'm sure she had to raise funds to do that... or maybe she didn't.  She appears to be very well loved by her friends and family.  It looks like she was either homecoming queen or in the homecoming court in high school.  She is pictured wearing a princess crown while blowing out candles in her tank top.  She wears a rather revealing uniform for what looks like a dance team at Furman.  Don't get me wrong-- I have nothing against those things... I just don't think they make her look like a devout Christian.

What cracks me up even more is that she seems to think the world needs another lawyer...  especially a lawyer that went to a religious school founded by a wacko wing nut like Pat Robertson.  Behold...

Exhibit A


Exhibit B


Exhibit C


Really?

Pat Robertson may have built a communications empire with his Christian Broadcasting Network, but I wouldn't call him a paragon of Christlike behavior.  There are other Christian schools out there that I think would be much better and more admirable choices than Regent University.  And if she does happen to get that law degree, she will be competing with a whole lot of other people who went to better schools that don't tie them to a particular belief system.  A lot of people think Pat Robertson is nuts.  If he's nuts, how great can his law school be?

Finally, I wonder what kind of law Julianna thinks she's going to practice that will make her a good Christian?  Will she be the type of lawyer who puts criminals in prison?  Or will she be the type of lawyer that defends the accused?  Or will she be a corporate lawyer who pushes papers?  It's an important question and one she should think long and hard about because her choice will be judged by Christians who opt to give her money.  A lot of Christians are conservative politically, which means that they believe in being tough on crime.  And when someone is actually guilty of a crime and commits an egregious offense, they need to be punished, right?  But doesn't the Bible also advocate against judging?  Aren't Christians encouraged to show mercy and kindness to those who are in trouble?


Rhonda Vincent sang it best... "You Don't Love God If You Don't Love Your Neighbor"...

So I have to wonder what Julianna's goals are.  Is she going to be hellbent on prosecuting accused rapists, murderers, and child molesters?  Or is she going to be the type of lawyer who defends those people?  Is she going to be the type of lawyer who shows mercy toward someone who claims that they are innocent and are wrongly imprisoned?  Will she serve them pro bono?  I think any lawyer who competently defends those who can't otherwise afford legal help is very Christlike.  But giving that kind of help isn't so easy for people who have a lot of bills to pay.  It's also not that easy to give that kind of help if your benefactors expect you to defend their ideals regardless of whether or not they're really humane or fair, or just to simply put so-called "undesirables" away, whether or not they actually belong in prison.  

If Julianna gets her wish and anonymous donors do pay for her to go to school, I would hope she would be a truly Christlike lawyer.  But somehow, looking at her movie trailer, I doubt that's the kind of Christian she is.  It looks like Christianity is more of a club thing for her.  She appears to be the type of Christian who uses religion as a status symbol.  I could be wrong, of course.  I don't know her.  I'm basing my comments on what I can see in her posts so far.  

To be honest, most extremely devout Christians annoy me.  I find many of them to be closed-minded, legalistic, stupid and judgmental about a lot of things.  However, I was raised Christian and I see the value of some of the teachings that come from Christianity.  I don't know Julianna, so I really don't know what kind of a Christian she is.  However, I can say that her video doesn't make me want to reach into my purse for a donation.  She looks like she's led a very charmed life and I have doubts that law school will change that reality for her.  When she appears to be doing something that appears to be truly Christlike and altruistic, maybe then I'll be impressed enough to give her cash.

        

Friday, July 25, 2014

Eight days to go...

Recently, I installed a new app on my iPhone called Time Hop.  It shows you what your Facebook statuses were for the past five years.  Last year on July 24th, 2013, I posted "It's time to start packing."  In other words, one year ago, I was doing the same damn thing I did yesterday.  This year, we won't be doing a multi-state road trip.  Instead, we'll be doing a multi-country air trip... and I'm praying that our airplane neither gets shot down by a missile nor disappears from the sky.

So far, today is shaping up to be less busy than yesterday was.  We don't have any movers coming and so far, no showings are scheduled.  I won't be surprised if someone asks for a showing at some point today, but since there aren't movers here, I guess it won't bother me that much-- especially since I don't plan to be here at all on July 31st.  Bill will come here and deal with the carpet cleaning guy while I babysit the dogs in whatever La Quinta we end up in.

I actually pulled off a pretty cool trick yesterday and it's housewife related, so I'll share it here with you.  A few months ago, Bill was sitting in the room that served as my office.  He was drinking red wine and had set it on a small table positioned under a lamp near the wall.  Bill is chronically exhausted in the evenings, so he really shouldn't be trusted with any liquids...  but sure enough, he started to drop off to sleep and knocked the wine over on the wall.  Naturally, the wine stained the wall and the carpet.

Wine Away was pretty good for getting rid of the red wine stains on the carpet, but I didn't have anything for the stained wall.  I found a trick involving mixing hydrogen peroxide and dishwasher detergent, which I used.  It took most of the stain away so it wasn't that noticeable.  Yesterday, when most of the stuff was removed from my office, I noticed that the stain was visible, so I tried the hydrogen peroxide and dishwasher detergent trick again.  Sure enough, it worked like magic.  I don't know if the stain will reappear at a later date or not.  At this point, I don't care... as long as it's not there when we hand the keys over to the property managers.

The carpets in this house are disgusting.  Part of it's from our filth, but they were filthy when we moved in.  I was totally grossed out yesterday when I vacuumed the master bedroom.  Way too much dog hair going on in there.  Next house needs to have no carpet.  Shouldn't be a problem in Germany.

Guess I'll cut the grass today.  Need to burn off gas in the lawnmower.  Also need to burn the gas in  my car so we can send the cars.  Shit is really getting real now.  

Large part of the move done...

Today got off to a bad start.  The real estate booking people called late last night for another showing at 9:30am.  I was in a pissy mood over that.  Then the movers came and started packing us.  Let me just say this... they were WAY better than last year's movers.  It was a guy, his son, and another guy... They got all our stuff packed and on the truck by 3:30.  They were cool, didn't make a mess, and didn't mind my swearing.  They also didn't damage anything.

But then the real estate people called again for another showing that was intended for 15 minutes later... which they then rescheduled for 3:45pm.  I went a little ballistic and told Bill I didn't want any other showings today because of the chaos involved with movers being there.  Well, as it turned out, another appointment was scheduled, because Bill didn't listen to me... for 4:30pm.  We were in attendance for all three appointments.  I didn't talk to the first people, but they had three small kids, which I don't think is all that good for a house with a pool.  I mean, it does have a safety fence around it, but I still wouldn't want to have really young kids in this house.  That's probably because I personally know someone whose toddler aged daughter died in a pool.  But I think they weren't impressed with this place, so they left.

The next people to come were a woman, who apparently is in the Air Force, and a teenager.  They asked me for honesty, so I gave it to them straight up.  I told the real estate agent about the carpets and the ceilings, and the crappy rubber mulch in the backyard...  And I said I didn't like the neighborhood.  The prospective renter owns a home in another state and lives on Randolph AFB.  She said the housing there was the worst she'd ever seen.  Apparently, they decided not to privatize housing there because the housing is all historic.  The end result is terrible mold.  In that case, she'd do well to avoid this house, because it too has mold.

The third people to come through waved hello.  I didn't talk to them.  They seemed oddly impressed with this house, but they were also talking about double wide trailers.  In that case, maybe this house would fit the bill for them.

I feel good just because I got to tell that one lady that this house sucks donkey balls... even as I said that I knew she's a real estate agent.  And I think the prospective tenant was glad I was so upfront about things.  In one week, we will be out of this house and relaxing for our big flight to Frankfurt.  Things are coming together.

Bill did a shot with the mover and gave him a tip.  He said he'd call us if our load was too big.  Hopefully, it won't be.  The car shippers are going to let us send about two hundred pounds (100 each car) to Germany in the cars.  We'll probably throw in some towels and clothes.  And then next week, the government movers will come and put the rest of our stuff in storage.  One more week...


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Packers are coming today... so is the real estate agent...

I am already feeling very irritable and bitchy because it's bad enough dealing with packers.  I resent having showings going on while we're trying to move.  I understand that the real estate twats are just doing their jobs, but as someone who has paid a full month's rent, I expect to be able to tend to my own business.  I'm really close to full on bitch mode right now.  It's probably best if people left me alone.

Yesterday, we took the dogs to the Flying Saucer in San Antonio.  They did pretty well, at least until another dog showed up.  Then they made a ruckus.  We didn't actually have to go to the restaurant, but I thought it would be good to try, since in Germany, dogs are welcome at a lot of places.

We were told by the property managers that we didn't have to "vacate"-- wish they'd made that clearer in the lease, but in their defense, they weren't the original authors of the lease we have.  But they do expect us to take our dogs for a walk while the real estate idiots are here.  Well today, I have no intention of doing that.  I am not going to leave the residence while we have packers here.  They can just fuck right off.  If the prospective tenants feel "awkward", that's too damn bad.  If they're smart, they'll understand that when it comes time for them to move out, they'll have to put up with the same shit.

I spent most of yesterday listening to a brand new box set by the Allman Brothers Band.  It was somewhat repetitive because it consisted of live sets from their Fillmore East concerts in 1971.  It was like spectacularly awesome live music played slightly differently over and over again.  But I got a free review copy and they were pretty good shows.

After today, I expect I will be using my new laptop.  I'll miss my trusty desktop, but it is what it is...  I'll miss my bed, too.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'm about to go medieval...

Just got out of bed about five minutes ago.  It's 7:23am.  Bill got a message from the showing service people who arrange tours of our house.  I'm about to go ballistic because some goddamn real estate agent blocked our house for five hours...  from 7:30am until 12:30pm!

During that time period, we are supposed to be out of the house with our dogs.  Since dogs aren't allowed everywhere, that would mean we'd have to go to the dog park or a restaurant that is open early and allows pets outside and sit in the Texas heat for five fucking hours!

Of course, when Bill tried to call them back, the reservation service wasn't open.  So he just had to leave a message.  It's now 7:27am and we haven't left our house.  If someone shows up at 7:30am, I'm liable to give them a good piece of my mind.

Bear in mind, the bitch asking us to vacate the house for five hours didn't call us until after 9:30pm, hence the reason we didn't get the message until just now.  I am so angry I could spit nails.

ETA:  Bill says now that the appointment is 10:30am until 12:30pm, which is marginally better.  I'm still furious, though.

ETA 2:  Bill called the realtors and they said we don't have to completely leave the house, which is good, because in two days, the move out will commence and we can't be expected to vacate the area while we have movers taking our stuff.

ETA 3:  The movers just showed up.  We weren't expecting them until Friday.  They will come back tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Slap in the face...

Sooo... yesterday, things came to a head when Bill came home and told me that his retirement award got downgraded.  His boss had submitted an award application for a Legion of Merit, which is an honor that befits someone who has had a commission for 30 years, served very honorably, gotten exemplary evaluations, and is an all around outstanding servicemember.  While it is a high honor, Bill  definitely deserves it and most anyone who has worked with him would agree.  However, some dickheaded colonel who doesn't know him downgraded his award to a Meritorious Service Medal.  This was Bill's fourth such award.  It's the kind of award one gets when moving from one job to another.

I know that when it comes down to it, it's just a piece of paper and only someone in the Army would recognize the significance of it.  Still, it upset me that his award got downgraded.  It felt like a slap in the face.  This man has put up with all kinds of bullshit and has managed to maintain a good attitude and an excellent work ethic.  When he showed me the award with obvious disappointment, I told him he ought to send it back.  Why bother with it?

I mentioned it on Facebook and one of Bill's former colleagues was equally dismayed and thought he should send it back.  I said I thought Bill should wipe his ass with it first.  I mean, it basically amounts to an "honorable mention" or a "satisfactory"... or a "15% tip".  It's insulting.

Apparently, they were going to present Bill with this award at a party that was held last month.  It happened to be on my birthday and Bill and I were both sick, so we didn't attend.  In retrospect, I'm glad we didn't attend.  It would have been difficult to fake being happy over yet another MSM.  I'm less pissed about it today than I was yesterday, mainly because I realize it means nothing.  The colonel who authorized it doesn't know Bill.  On the other hand, since he doesn't know Bill, I don't see why he is qualified to determine which award he deserves.  Why bother with an award at all?


This is kinda how Bill felt yesterday.

Anyway, I got very overwhelmed yesterday because of all that has been going on this month.  I looked at Bill and said, let's go buy me a computer.  We went out and bought a very nice laptop for me to use while we wait for my iMac to arrive in Germany God knows when.  I don't really like laptops that much.  I prefer desktops because I find them more comfortable.  But they aren't portable or practical, given that I travel a lot and like to be able to write.  I can't really write on my iPad, which is on its last legs anyway.

So now I have a new machine that I plan to put through its paces in the days to come.  I may not have a bed after Friday, but I will have a new machine to bitch about it on!



    

Monday, July 21, 2014

The trash picking controversy...

I have a problem with trash pickers.  I know that many people see them as helpful, as they come tooling through a neighborhood on bulk trash day and sift through peoples' cast offs to see if there's anything they want or need.  I know that if they can take something out of peoples' trash heaps, they might be keeping it out of the landfill.  That's all fine and good.  I still hate seeing them brazenly going through my stuff, especially when we've already had people trying to get at the key in the lockbox and people casing the house.

Last night, Bill and his mom put a bunch of stuff out for the bulk trash pickup.  I haven't seen the trash pickers come yet.  I'm sure they'll get here before the city does to pick up the junk.  If I don't see them going through the stuff, it probably won't bother me so much.  But since I have a desk next to the window which overlooks the street, I can see when they pull up.  I told Bill about why I don't like trash pickers.  He and his mom seemed to think I was being a little unreasonable.  But then I brought up identity theft and how people rifling through trash can lead to that.  I also brought up how trash pickers can make messes when they don't put things back neatly.  They also take stuff that could be recycled by the city for cash.

I've got no problem with donating stuff to charities.  I do that all the time.  I just don't like it when people scavenge, even though I know why they do it and I know most people don't mind it.  It just feels like an invasion.  It's one of my many hangups.

Poor Bill got yelled at last night because he was looking at me like I was being nutty, which I probably was.  He was more empathetic when I explained myself more.  For much of my life, people have told me that no one really cares what I think.  So now, when people act like my opinion is crazy or doesn't matter, it provokes a vehement response.  Fortunately, Bill is understanding about my idiosyncrasies.

In other news…

Alexis, I had a dream that you and I performed together.  Or actually, we were planning to perform together.  I never did learn the song, though, and was nervous because I knew I was going to screw it up.  I woke up before I was able to make a fool of myself.

In other other news…

This week, things are going to get inconvenient.  We will probably lose our cars as they head toward Germany.  Friday, the beds, the TVs, kitchen stuff, and my computer will go.  Next Monday, we will lose the other guest room because a charity is going to take our furniture from there.  Then next Wednesday, everything else is going into storage.

This is when moving starts to get really shitty.

Addendum...

The JWs stopped by with a tract and asked about our stuff on the curb.  Bill told them it was trash.  Minutes later, a bunch of people came over and made off with everything but our old Christmas tree.  I am less annoyed with them because at least they asked if it was okay.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A review of Sarah Tate's Renaissance: A Journal of Discovery...

A couple of weeks ago, I re-posted a review I wrote of Sarah Tate's e-book, Web of Lies.  Sarah Tate's first book about how she had a whirlwind romance with a man who turned out to be a narcissist.  She had three children with him before they divorced.  British born Tate had a good career in Switzerland when she met her ex-husband.  He had wined and dined her, convincing her that he was a brilliant businessman.  She got caught up in the romance and when she got pregnant, decided to stop working.

Tate bought into her ex husband's lies, believing his stories about his first wife being a bitter, vindictive, crazy woman and his second wife being mentally ill.  She thought that maybe she was the right woman for him.  Not long after their marriage, his true colors came out and life quickly went downhill.  I was fascinated by Web of Lies and decided to see if Tate had written anything more.

Last night, I finished reading Renaissance: A Journal of Discovery, Tate's follow-up to her first book.  In her first book, Tate calls her husband "Bill".  In her second book, she refers to him as the "basement dweller", because he took up residence in their basement for awhile.  Renaissance is about the aftermath of Tate's divorce in Switzerland and her struggle to reclaim her life.  While I can't say I found this volume quite as interesting as the first book was, I did find it intriguing because Tate writes about the Swiss welfare system and the "help" she received in the wake of her divorce.

Evidently Switzerland has a welfare program that doesn't necessarily help women like Sarah Tate.  She writes of the infuriating way she was treated by social workers who wanted her to go back to work through a "scheme" designed for people who had no skills and had not been working for years.  Sarah Tate had been a successful and well-educated member of the work force before her unfortunate marriage.  Yet the social workers insisted that she needed to be doing government subsidized jobs doing simple and menial tasks that were way below her qualifications.  The welfare system had nothing to help a woman like Sarah Tate; it was truly for the down and out.

Since I have social work training, I was interested in how the Swiss system works.  In some ways, the Swiss system seems rather humane.  Tate was given time off and support from her canton because she had very young children.  However, she was treated with condescension by the people tasked to help her.  In the long run, she had to help herself by calling on friends and former colleagues.  That's how it works for many people around the world.  Indeed, that's how my husband Bill just got his new job.  But when you are a woman with three little kids and an ex spouse who doesn't want to willingly contribute to their welfare, asking for help and getting assistance that actually works can be a challenge.

I felt like this book ended a bit abruptly.  It took me awhile to get through it and then, once I did, I was surprised that it was ending.  I also think it could use another run or two by a proofreader, as I found quite a few typos.  On the other hand, it's an interesting story and Tate is a good writer.  It only cost me $1.99 and gave me an interesting look at Swiss culture.  I would recommend it to those who read Sarah Tate's first book and want to find out how she did in the wake of the divorce.

 

Yet another innocent man goes to prison over false rape charges...

This is actually an old case.  Someone posted about it on Facebook today and I had to read up on it to see if it was true.  I found the case referenced in several brief articles until I found a much longer one that related the tale of Cassandra Ann Kennedy and her decision to falsely accuse her father of raping her back in 2001.  At the time she made the accusation, Cassandra was 11 years old.  She was upset with her father because he had divorced her mother.  She was tired of having to go to his house for visitations, where she and her sister would have to sleep on a mattress on his floor.  She was tired of his partying, drinking, and pot smoking.  And then, apparently, he stopped showing up altogether.  Cassandra thought he didn't love her and wanted revenge.

Cassandra had a friend whose stepfather was sent to prison for a child sex crime.  She got the idea to accuse her father when she saw her friend's stepfather get sent away.  Since Cassandra started having sexual experiences in the second grade, she knew about sex and what she could say to make her father look guilty.  She also had some trauma to her genital region that looked convincing.  Obviously, someone was abusing Cassandra when she was a little girl.  It wasn't her father, though.

Based on Cassandra's convincing testimony and her wrath toward her dad, Thomas Kennedy spent nine years in prison and was released in 2012.  He was originally sentenced to 15 years and would have been released in 2016, had Cassandra not had an attack of her conscience.  She went to detectives and told them she lied about her father.  He'd never raped her or touched her inappropriately.  In fact, she even had some fond memories of him from when she was very young.

Cassandra Kennedy was not punished for falsely accusing her father of rape because authorities fear that punishing her would discourage legitimate rape victims from coming forward.  I suppose I can understand that fear, given how shameful sex crimes are for victims.  However, I can't help but remember that an innocent man who may not have been the world's greatest dad spent nine years that he will never get back in a prison cell.  I am assuming that since he was innocent, he won't have to register as a sex offender… but now he has to resume his life after having spent nine years incarcerated.  How difficult was it for him in those months after he was released in 2012?

Some months ago, I wrote a blog post about a young man who was falsely accused of rape.  Johnathan Montgomery had the misfortune of once living in the same neighborhood as Elizabeth Paige Coast, a girl whose mother caught her looking at pornography.  Elizabeth's mother assumed that her daughter must have been abused, since she was looking at porn, and she demanded to know who had touched her.  In a panic, Elizabeth named Johnathan, who had since moved to Florida.  She didn't think the police would find him.  They did, and he went to prison for four years for a crime he didn't commit.  At least in this case, Coast had to pay a large fine and spend 60 days in jail.  It seems like a small price to pay for the four years Mr. Montgomery lost, though.

I certainly understand the need for people to come forward to speak up when they have been sexually assaulted.  I would never deny anyone the right to justice when a crime has been committed.  I even understand prosecutors being reluctant to charge false accusers because they don't want to discourage genuine victims from seeking help.  At the same time, I can't help but think of how totally unfair it is that Thomas Kennedy and Johnathan Montgomery went to prison for years because someone lied.

I posted about this case on Facebook and a friend who is very much a feminist was dismayed that someone had left this comment with the story…

It's amazing that no one who actually is guilty of wrongdoing in this case, will pay any price. Not the accuser, police, doctor, teacher, prosecutor, no one.

All of those people were willing to throw away a man's life based on nothing more than the say-so of a troubled 11-year old girl, because we've been told by feminists that "women don't lie about being raped" and that men are animals. Well, women DO lie about being raped, and only a small fraction of men are anything but decent.


My friend described it as a "MRA" comment-- that is, "men's rights".  She is against men fighting for rights because she thinks they already have too much control and don't need to fight for their rights.  Frankly, I disagree.  While I completely understand that women have historically gotten the short end of the stick and still face sexism today, I also think that men also get treated unfairly based on their gender.  I think both males and females are entitled to fairness and we do have some laws right now that favor females over males.

If you're really for fairness, you can't be for giving women special treatment because of the equipment they happened to be born with.  I think the above comment is perfectly reasonable.  What surprises me is that it was the only one posted.  Had the genders been switched in this case, I bet the comments section would have been full.  Do people really not care that an innocent man spent nine years in prison for a crime he didn't commit?  Do people really not understand that if something like that could happen to Thomas Kennedy or Johnathan Montgomery, it could happen to them or one of their loved ones?

I understand that Cassandra Kennedy and Elizabeth Coast were both troubled girls when they made their false allegations.  It's obvious that they both needed help when they were at their most vulnerable.  But that help should have come in the form of counseling, not incarcerating innocent men.  Making false rape accusations does more than ruin the lives of innocent people; it also does a huge disservice to legitimate victims of sex crimes who may one day face doubt when they come forward.  Situations like the ones I've written about today give people like Todd Akin ammunition when they spread their misogynistic agendas.  

Honestly, if I had a son, I would be very vigilant about teaching him to be careful around women.  There are a lot of great women with big hearts out there.  But there are also a lot of shady, immoral, liars out there, too, and our society seems reluctant to hold them accountable when they take advantage of female friendly laws.  Justice should be blind.

Death ripples and the pain they cause...

This morning, a woman on RfM wrote about how she'd just found out her father had died.  She hadn't had any contact with him in many years because her parents divorced when she was 11 and there had been shunning.  She found out about her dad's death by reading about it in the newspaper after a family friend had seen it and asked if she was related.

This woman is very upset.  She writes that she tried to get in touch with her dad's family, but they wanted nothing to do with her.  And now she has this hollow pain that comes from losing a parent that she never really had a chance to know.  Actually, this lady seems like a very kind person.  She writes that she's angry and wants to lash out at her grandparents, who have apparently shunned her.  But she recognizes that they just lost their son and they don't deserve her anger right now.  I have to say, that is very grown up and level-headed thinking on her part…  It sounds like she's a fine lady whose father's side of the family missed out by not knowing her.

Also in the news right now is Casey Kasem, who died last month after battle Lewy body dementia, the same disease that took my dad ten days ago.  Apparently, Casey's wife, Jean, who was legally entitled to his body, took off with it without Kasem's children's knowledge or consent.  Naturally, a lot of people think Jean Kasem is crazy.  Maybe she is.  But she was Casey Kasem's wife for 34 years, which means she can't have just been some kind of gold digger.

I'm grateful I knew my dad and had a chance to see him.  I'm grateful that my mom and sisters and I all agreed on how Dad should be taken care of at the end of his life.  At the same time, as the wife of a man with two very estranged biological daughters who disowned him, these kinds of stories are very unnerving to me.  People usually blame the older adult or parent figure involved...

I'll be very honest.  If Bill were to die tomorrow, I won't be contacting his ex-kids.  They haven't spoken to him in years and don't call him "Dad" anymore.  They don't acknowledge him and, from what I can see, don't care about him.  And so, if he dies, I won't want them at his funeral, nor will I really care to let them know about his death.  I don't think they deserve it.  I think if you're a kid who expressly disowns a parent… or a parent who expressly disowns a child… you don't have a right to be involved when that person passes away.  You can find out about it like any other stranger would, by reading about it online or in a newspaper.

I have been Bill's wife for going on twelve years.  In twelve years, I've met my husband's daughters once… in 2003.  Eighteen months later, they pretty much wrote him off for good, despite his taking good care of them and their mother (and her husband and kids) financially and his repeated attempts to stay in contact with them.  He did finally quit trying, once they were adults.  As far as I'm concerned, they aren't family by their own choice.  They are strangers to me and they haven't been kind to Bill or his family.  All he did was divorce their mother at her request.

And yet, if Bill did happen to die and his kids later got wind of it and were upset that I didn't tell them, I'll bet many people would assume I was an evil stepmother or a gold digger or both.  But there is another side to the story that a lot of people never consider or even really care about.  Sometimes, it's the kids who behave badly, even if it's because they were goaded into it by their other parent.

I won't risk contacting Bill's kids, even in the unlikely event of his untimely death.  They would have to reach out to us first.  If they do reach out before Bill passes, I will let Bill deal with them.  I don't consider them family.  They have a "dad"…  victim #3.  They can mourn for #3 when he dies and leave Bill and me alone.  Bill's death would not be their business as far as I'm concerned.

Another thing I find distasteful when these kinds of discussions come up are the comments people make about greed.  Like-- "I bet they didn't tell you because they are afraid you'll want part of his estate."  And the reminders that children are heirs unless there is a will.  Bill and I do have wills and his kids have been disinherited.  We don't have a lot of valuable stuff and even if we did, I can't imagine they'd want it if they can't even lower themselves to speak to him on the phone.  Any money we'd have after all the bills are paid doesn't belong to them either.  I would probably arrange to donate it to a beagle rescue.

The sad thing about this is that I feel perfectly justified in cutting them out.  They cut Bill out; he didn't cut them out.  Besides, I didn't start this shit.  I know that the reasons people shun are complex.  I am certain that my husband's ex wife told his daughters a lot of lies and warped versions of truth in order to get them to hate him.  She wanted him to be punished.  She wanted him to pine for them.  It worked for awhile.  Now that they are hateful clones of their mother, they can stay strangers for all I care.  They felt that Bill hadn't earned the "right" to be called Dad?  Well, I don't think they've earned the right to be called his daughters and that means they aren't worthy to be informed when he dies.  If biological links don't matter to them, why should they matter to us?

I don't know why these kinds of stories make me so angry.  They send me to such a dark place, where I think about what I'll do in the event of a death.  For all I know, I could end up dying before Bill does.  In fact, I kind of hope that happens.  This is not something I look forward to dealing with.

I don't condone the way Jean Kasem is behaving.  It seems very bizarre to me and I wonder if maybe she has some kind of medical problem herself.  However, I do respect her as Casey Kasem's widow.  As for the lady on RfM, it sounds like her father wasn't such a good guy… but honestly, how would I know?  Maybe she was lied to the way my husband's kids have been lied to.  I don't know if I wish for her to find out the truth, though.  It could turn out to be very painful, especially if her dad was in a situation like Bill's and she finds out she was robbed of her father.  I hope she finds peace.  I wish I could find some peace, too.    
    

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Two more weeks...

We'll be getting on our flight to Germany in just two weeks.  That means we'll be very busy in the coming two weeks.  In the meantime, I'm sure we'll be asked to allow more showings, which means my expression may be permanent bitchface until I'm sipping a krystalweizen in Mohringen.

Seriously, July usually sucks, but this year it's REALLY sucked.  I've had a violent cough since June, so I haven't been feeling very well.  This morning I had a coughing fit that led to a puking fit.  Then I got a visit from Aunt Flow.

Bill retired and didn't get paid mid month, so we're financially tight this month… as we have big financial obligations in August.  In mid August, he'll get a huge paycheck-- or so he's told me.

My father died.  He was ready to die and he had a full life, so I can't say his death was truly tragic.  But still, it has an effect on one's psyche when a parent dies.  It's like the end of an era.  

My hatred for this house and our property managers has reached a fever pitch.  I also hate the neighborhood, especially since there seems to be lowlifes on the prowl.  I guess you'd find that anywhere, though.  Criminals are always looking for an opportunity.  I know we have about 12 days left and I should be grateful for that, but these may be long and annoying days.  It doesn't make me feel safe to find blood on the driveway and be visited by people obviously looking for an opportunity to case our house.

There is a bright side, though.  Soon we'll be back in Germany.  Hopefully we'll soon find a new place to live and it will be as decent as our last German house was… with a decent landlord, too.  July will be over soon and we'll be reintegrating to yet another new place that isn't so new to us since we were living there less than five years ago.

Bill arranged to ship our cars yesterday.  It's going to cost $3900.  Then, once they get to Germany, we'll end up having to pay more fees.  It'll be worth it, though, because those cars are paid for and we wouldn't be able to find two for $4000 in Germany.  

Bill's mom is going to be a big help to us because she's taking us to Houston and has said she'll help us clean.  I will miss having her around, but she likes having an excuse to come to Germany and see us.  She has friends who work in the airline industry, too, so she can score cheap tickets.

Bill is still working on his retirement ceremony.  Maybe next week he'll get his due?

Anyway, a week from now, our Germany shipment will be out of the house.  A few days after that, our storage will be on its way to a storage facility.  I'll finally get rid of the ugly furniture from the 70s I inherited.  This will be over soon…  Maybe the couple from last night will take this house.  Frankly, I think they'd fit right into this neighborhood.           

Realtor just got a serious load of my bitchface...

We had a showing today from 4:00pm until 5:00pm.  We went to the dog park and hung out there until about 4:40 or so, then made our way back.  Usually, the realtors are here and gone before we know it.  This time, we got back to our house a little under ten minutes early and the people were still here, so we drove around for a few minutes and arrived home at 5:02.  They were still here.

I got out of the car with my dogs and gave the realtor a filthy look.  I know he saw it.  Bill saw it.  Turns out the holdup was the wife's husband, who is in the Air Force.  He showed up a few minutes later in his PT uniform.  We waited outside for about fifteen minutes while they toured the house.  They had a cute little boy and Zane went nuts over him.

The realtor probably thinks I'm a bitch because I was giving him a serious bitchface.  He tried to tell us that he was on time and that's just fine, but it's an inconvenience for us to have to be out of the house with our dogs.  The wife was pretty nice, at least.  I wasn't impressed with her husband.  He acted like he didn't care.  Glad I'm not married to him.

They all had enormous trucks.  Obnoxious as hell…  Glad to be getting out of this neighborhood.


Full on bitchface.


        

Friday, July 18, 2014

Even more creepy...

Last night at about twenty minutes before 8:00, the doorbell rang.  Bill answered it and it was a black couple in a black car.  They said they knew our house has a pool and they were interested in renting it.  Bill directed them to the "For Rent" sign in the yard and told them to call the property managers for an appointment.  I'm guessing they were casing the house to see if anyone's home or possibly to let them see what we have inside.  Fuckers.  We probably should have checked to see if either of them had gashes on their hands from tampering with the lockbox.

The sooner we can get out of here, the happier I will be.  LOL… it would have been funny if Bill had told the couple they should look elsewhere, since this house is really shitty.  Anyway, I'd be surprised if they made an appointment to check out this house.  I think they were more interested in the contents of the house than the house itself.

I know times are tough and some people are driven to desperation, but too many are career crooks who are just looking to rip off what other people have earned through honest hard work.  Just thirteen days before the lease expires… and less time before that before our stuff is out of here.  Can't wait!

By contrast, last year at this time, we were in a nice rural house where nobody but the JWs bothered us.

  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Creepy...

Just saw this by the lock on our garage where the key is kept for the real estate fuckers…



Looking closely, it appears that someone tried to get to the key and cut themselves trying.  That makes me feel very safe.

We were supposed to have another showing today, but a half an hour before the appointment, they cancelled…

This shit is getting VERY old.

More helicopter parenting...

I really think helicopter parenting is getting way out of hand in the United States.  Yesterday, I read about the sad case of Debra Harrell, a 46 year old mother of a nine year old who now sits in jail because she let her daughter play in a nearby park while she worked at a McDonald's in North Augusta, South Carolina.  I was particularly interested when I read that Harrell lives in South Carolina, since I got my social work and public health degrees there and had some casual dealings with their Department of Social Services due to my academic work.

During the school year, Harrell had a place to send her daughter.  The girl went to school and there were child care options for after school.  But during the summer, Harrell had no place to send her daughter.  She would take her to work with her with a laptop computer and the girl would take advantage of McDonald's free wi-fi.  Sadly, someone broke into Harrell's home and stole the laptop.

Not wanting to be cooped up in a McDonald's for hours with nothing to do, Harrell's daughter asked her mother if she could go play at a nearby park instead.  Harrell agreed and gave the girl a cellphone so she could call if she needed anything.  The park was less than two miles away.  If this solution hadn't gone so tragically wrong, this would almost be a breath of fresh air.  I mean, imagine a child who wants to be outside playing instead of sitting in front of a computer at a McDonald's, drinking sodas and eating French fries and Big Macs.

After a few days of seeing her alone at the park, someone asked her where her mother was.  Harrell's daughter said her mom was at work.  The "Good Samaritan" then called the police, who swooped in and rescued the girl from the park.  She is now in the care of the Department of Social Services and her mother is in jail.  I'm guessing mom has lost her job by now and will be even less able to provide for her child.

This story hit close to home for me because it highlights a big problem that I was working on when I lived in South Carolina and worked as a graduate assistant for the Department of Health and Environmental Control.  My boss's primary job was tracking health care policy, so I spent most days looking for new health related laws in South Carolina's legislature.  But she was also very involved with maternal and child health and one project that was near and dear to her heart was the availability, affordability, and accessibility of child care.

People have to work in order to be able to provide for themselves and their families.  I don't know what Debra Harrell's situation is, but I'm guessing there's a reason she took her child to McDonald's instead of a child care center.  Child care is expensive and it's doubtful that a paycheck from Mickey D's would pay enough for Harrell to take advantage of it and still manage to pay her other bills.  I don't know if Harrell has other children, a spouse, or other family members around who could care for the girl, but again, I'm guessing that if other family members were around, they would have helped if they could.  Maybe not?  Again, I don't know.

Above all, I remember how things were when I was nine and I would spend hours on my own, exploring my environment and learning to solve my own problems.  My mom had no idea where I was and that was the way we both liked it.  People were not nearly as paranoid back then as they are now, even though we had way fewer laws designed to protect children.  The vast majority of people of my generation grew up mostly fine.  Given that we have less crime now than we did in the 80s, you'd think today's kids might be able to enjoy a little more freedom.

Aside from the fact that the overall crime rate is lower than it used to be, children are rarely abducted by "strange men".  In fact, most children are abducted and abused by people they know…  family members or friends of the family who know the child and has their trust.  Yes, the park is in an area where there may be a lot of traffic, but the chances of that child actually being swiped by a stranger are very low.  And risk is a part of life.  Bad things happen to people all the time, even when they do all they can to prevent them from happening.

It seems a shame to me that Debra Harrell's daughter is now having to deal with the drama of DSS and her mother is now in jail for doing something that many of our mothers would have done back when we were kids.  It's a waste of resources to drag this woman through the legal system for doing her best to provide for herself and her child.  Something more has got to be done to help people like Debra Harrell, who is just trying to get by.  Putting her in jail does not serve society.  When she gets out, will she still have a place to work?  A place to live?  A daughter to raise?

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Comment shaming...



Over the past couple of weeks, I've gotten random drive by comments by religious people who stumble across my blog.  These people disapproved of some things I've written here and decided to let me know by leaving me anonymous comments.  One post that attracted negative comments was the book review I wrote of Jocelyn Zichtermann's I Fired God.  Two people wrote to me to basically tell me that I got Jocelyn all wrong, that she's really just a hateful, manipulative person who is laughing all the way to the bank after writing her "scandalous" tell all.  I basically told the two disgruntled commenters that I had written a book review, not a review of Jocelyn's character.  I don't know Jocelyn, but I liked her book.  Their claims about Jocelyn could be true, but if they are, I don't really care because I doubt I'll ever know her personally.  I think she wrote a good book.  One of the two commenters later came back and deleted her thoughts.  I'm not sure why.  I guess she thinks I'm a lost cause who is going to hell.  

Another person commented today on my post about adoptions going wrong.  They took issue with the fact that I initially wondered if the Dittenber family from Boise, Idaho was LDS.  They wrote that I was *wrong* to disrespect the LDS Church.  I think my commenter, whom I could tell was also from Boise, is under the mistaken impression that my personal blog gets a lot of hits and I have a "responsibility" not to "dis" or "generalize" about any religion.  I am a little surprised by that comment, since Tammy Dittenber, who is LDS and is personally involved with that case contacted me minutes after that post went live to give me the straight dope.  She was very nice and quite gracious about my mistake, which I did correct and comment on in my blog post.  I guess my disgruntled commenter didn't read very carefully.

It's no secret that I am not a huge fan of many organized religions and Mormonism in particular.  I have good reasons for feeling the way I do… and in fact, my feelings about Mormonism have little to do with individual "bad apples" who do bad things and much to do with the way the church as a whole treats people.  I especially dislike the disrespectful way Mormons tend to treat non members, especially if they happen to be somehow related to church members or people who once believed and then decided they didn't anymore.  My husband's experiences as a former Mormon convert is a prime example of the church being used in a toxic way.  The church was basically used to destroy his family-- my husband's ex wife used my husband's disbelief in Mormonism to make his children hate him.  While that may not be official church policy, the church was ultimately used as a very effective parental alienation tool against my husband.  For that reason and many more, I don't like Mormonism or any other faith that divides families and punishes people who aren't believers.

If it were just my husband who was affected, maybe I could chalk my husband's situation up to an isolated case.  Unfortunately, I have seen overwhelming evidence that the LDS church is often used to control and ultimately harm other people…  Every single day, someone new shows up on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site, often shell-shocked when they find out uncomfortable truths about Mormonism that they never were taught in church.  Some of them just don't believe in the church but continue to pretend in the interest of avoiding being ostracized by family and friends.

This blog gets a lot of comments from offended Mormons who feel the need to defend their faith to me, as if I even really care.  Your religious beliefs are personal and only matter to me if you're using them to screw over other people.  In the case of the "More Adoptions Gone Wrong" post, I saw evidence that religion (not specifically Mormonism) was putting innocent children in harm's way.  I feel perfectly justified in "dissing" religion if I see it being used to hurt people.

As I have written many times in this blog, I really don't give a toss about what peoples' personal religious beliefs are, as long as they don't try to cram them down my throat.  The subject of religion came up in the "More Adoptions Gone Wrong" post because religion was an inherent part of the story.  I wondered about Mormonism simply because of where that situation was going on.  It's no secret that Idaho is a big Mormon state and a lot of Mormons adopt kids.  Had this happened in the Deep South, I might have wondered if the people involved were southern Baptists.  And had the articles not mentioned religion, I might or might not have wondered at all.

I don't have a problem with Mormons or any other religious person adopting kids.  As long as they are decent people who genuinely want to be parents and don't mistreat others, I think it's great if they can give a needy child a loving home.  It's when they take in kids to glorify themselves or bring more souls to the so-called gospel that I have a problem.  Children are not to be used as props to generate prestige or make someone look better in the eyes of a church or any other entity.  In a perfect world, people would adopt children ONLY because they want to be parents and not due to some misguided idea that it's up to them to save their souls and make themselves look virtuous by bringing them to some religion.

Aside from what I've written here, I'd like to remind readers that this is a personal blog.  It consists of my ideas and my opinions, often gleaned by things I read about in books or online or see discussed on television.  My blog is not a newspaper or a scholarly work.  I do try to present factually correct information here whenever possible, but a large part of what you're reading is just my view of the world and the things I think.  You may not like what I write here and that's fine.  You don't have to like it or agree with it.  I don't claim to always be right.  In fact, I'm often wrong, as I initially was in my post about adoptions.  I promptly corrected my mistake when someone involved with the case contacted me to explain.  She didn't have to do that.  I appreciate that she did, especially since she was so nice about it.  Too bad others can't follow her example.

I reserve the right to write whatever I want to on my personal blog which I leave open to be read and commented on by perfect strangers.  You are welcome to leave negative, shaming comments if you want to, but if you want to shame me about religion and Mormonism in particular, you are wasting your time.  Your shaming comments won't change my mind because I've heard it all before.  More importantly, you are just as welcome to go somewhere else if you don't like what I have to say.  It's my blog and, generally speaking, I think and write what whatever I want.  You are free to do the same on your blog.  





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shannon Guess Richardson gets 18 years...

Just read about how a judge threw the book at Shannon Guess Richardson, the woman from Texarkana, Texas who sent letters with ricin in them to politicians, including Obama, and then tried to blame her husband.  She got 18 years in prison and amazingly said that she isn't a bad person and doesn't have it in her to hurt anyone.

I don't know about you, but to me it seems pretty hurtful to try to frame your estranged husband for crimes against the President of the United States.  I have been watching Shannon Guess Richardson's case since it broke in May 2013.  At the time, she was pregnant with her sixth child, a son she named Brody who was born very prematurely during his mother's incarceration.  While I'm sure Ms. Richardson doesn't think she's a bad person, she did commit bad crimes and has gotten what she deserves.  Hopefully, she won't be birthing any more babies.  

I don't know what kind of man Mark Richardson is, but I feel pretty certain that he didn't deserve to be framed.  I'm glad his ex was caught before she really had the chance to really screw up his life and those of her sons.    

More pieces of the moving puzzle...

We've set up our moving days, which will consist of three different days.  One day, some furniture destined for a charity will be picked up.  One day, our stuff going to Germany will be picked up.  And finally, there will be a day when our stuff going to storage will be picked up.

We're still working on shipping our cars because it occurred to us that they will be arriving at Bremerhaven, which is a port in extreme northern Germany.  It might be fun to go up and get the cars, but then we'd need to do something with our dogs.  I mean, they could go on the train with us, but that would be a big pain in the butt.  It would also be expensive.

On the other hand, the shipper we were thinking of using said that having the cars shipped to us near our intended home would cost another $1400.  So Bill asked for a quote from a different shipper.  I think it's actually the one that shipped my Mini a few years ago.  Hopefully, they won't be as pricey because I don't want to spend $4000+ to ship the cars.  That's still less expensive than buying a car in Germany, even if it's used.  The cars are ours, fully paid for and in good shape.  Insurance is not much more expensive there than it is here.  So in the long run, shipping them both is cheaper, even if it is a big pain in the ass.

We are confirmed on our flight on August 3rd-- dogs included.  We got round trip tickets and since we have to pay back Bill's new employer for them, we get to keep the return flights.  I think we'll use them in November to come back to the States for my dad's memorial.  Not that I'm really wanting to come back to the States so soon after we leave, but it's my dad's memorial.  Besides, Thanksgiving is fun with my big family and we haven't been able to attend in years.  ETA-- Lufthansa just called to say they messed up and only have room for one dog on August 3rd.  So now it looks like we're leaving on the 2nd instead.  It kinda sucks, since we'll be in Germany on Sunday and that means higher customs fees for the dogs.  But it also means one less night in a hotel in America.  Either way, it's probably a wash.

Bill's mom very kindly arranged to drive us to Houston, which is a big load off our minds.  The big thing now is our looming time in transit until we find a place to live and get all our stuff.  I've joined a couple of Facebook groups for people coming and going from Stuttgart.  They weren't around last time we did this and I must say, they are a huge help this time.  On the other hand, I am reminded of why I was never really much of an Army wife.  I don't really fit the mold.

I'm looking forward to writing about our new life and times in Germany.  My travel blog is going to be re-energized and I suspect I'll find new music to write about, too.  I just hope we find a good landlord like we did last time.  And I hope leaving this landlord will be as drama free as possible.  And I hope that next year at this time, we won't be moving again!

In other news, it appears that the German government is cracking down on coffee.  When we lived in Germany last time, we used to order coffee from Peets all the time.  We always got it with no problem, even though we had to use ration cards to buy coffee and booze in Germany when we lived there before.  Apparently, that practice is being cracked down on now, so we might not be able to get our beloved fresh Peets anymore.  The commissary sells it sometimes, but buying it off a store shelf is not the same as getting it freshly roasted.  One of the ladies on the Facebook group said that you can lose your mail privileges if you have coffee sent in.  Too bad…  I'm not really fond of Tchibo.  On the other hand, Vienna isn't too far and we can probably pay a visit there and pick up some good beans.  Besides, Bill is the one who's into coffee.  I'm more into really good hot chocolate.

Maybe later, I'll have something to rant about.  For now, it's back to organizing stuff.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two hours in the Texas sun...

Yesterday, we got an hour's notice that some realtor wanted us to be out of the house for two hours so she could show our shitty house.  We went to the dog park and sat out there for the two hours in 95 degree heat so she could show the house.  Have I mentioned how I can't wait to get out of here?

Well, it looks like we have a flight date.  August 3rd is likely to be the big day.  Unfortunately, we can't move the rest of our furniture into storage until July 30th, so we will need the 31st to finish cleaning.  And then we hit the weekend, and I would prefer not to go on the weekend because we have to pay customs for our dogs coming to Germany and it costs more on the weekend.  Of course, considering we'll have to pay for a hotel and a car rental, the minor savings may be a wash.  Still, I'd rather not get there on Sunday because everything's closed on Sunday in Germany.

In the meantime, we're doing what we can to purge.  The less stuff we have, the less we have to worry about.  Looks like car shipping is next on the list.

Bill was supposed to get his first retirement check today, but it didn't hit the bank.  I wish I had a button I could use to fast forward through all of this stuff.    

Monday, July 14, 2014

A new week...

Hopefully, this week will be better than last week was.  Today, we have one set of movers coming to see how much time they will need to pack up and move our stuff.  Wednesday, we have the other ones coming to see how long they'll need to put our stuff in storage.  I think a few other odds and ends are planned for today.

Last night, it was so hot in my office.  We had the AC going and it was still hot.  I was sweating profusely and it wasn't because of hot flashes.  As I was whining about that, Bill looked up the temperature in Germany… 61 degrees.  Granted, it was the middle of the night.  I look forward to cooler temperatures.

My dad's obituary was in the paper this weekend and I've gotten a few private messages from people.  A lot of people assume I'm in a lot of pain right now, following the loss of my dad.  The truth is, I think it's too soon for me to feel the full force of grief.  I mostly feel okay.  I saw him about a week ago and he looked so uncomfortable and undignified.  I think it just hasn't totally hit me yet that he's gone.

Also, I don't feel upset.  At least at this point, I don't feel upset.  He was an old, sick man and death was bound to happen, as it does for everyone.  He lived a long, full, productive life surrounded by people who loved him despite the jerky way he behaved at times.  The good outweighed the bad.  He was basically a very good person.  But I would by lying if I said I adored him.  The truth is, we had our share of dramas and there were a lot of times when he didn't treat me with respect.  On the other hand, there were some times when he rose to the occasion.  In other words, he was very human and humans die.

That being said, I am sure the grief will hit at some point and I'll have a good cry.  He was my dad and he was a big part of my life.  I loved him very much, even if I didn't always like him.

Moving on...

I know I said I need to quit reading Salon.com.  I still haven't unliked them on Facebook and just this morning, there were two articles that are basically about what people shouldn't say or think.  Those types of articles tend to do well because people will read and comment.  I am convinced that they're posted to deliberately rile people up and generate buzz.  Some of the articles range from offensive to just plain stupid.

This morning, there was a post about how white people don't understand racism.  It was basically shaming white people for being born into what they called the "dominant race" and not understanding what it's like to not be a part of that race.  It's true, I have no idea what it's like to be a member of a race other than white.  On the other hand, I don't see how people of other races know what it's like to be white, either.  How can you?  You can only know what you experience firsthand, at least when it comes to an issue like race.  You can try to empathize, but you'll never really know.  You can't.  So these articles that attempt to explain race to white people are rather ill-considered, because everyone has a different experience.

There was also an article about what not to say to lesbians.  Sometimes an article like that is helpful, because sometimes people say ignorant things without thinking.  On the other hand, I get a little tired of self-righteous authors on Salon.com telling me how I should communicate, what I should think, and what I should or should not say.

I think people who want to write these "lists" of what to say or what not to say should do so in the spirit of getting people to think beyond their own experiences.  They shouldn't be preachy lectures about what is right or wrong to say or think.

Anyway…  I have a lot to think about now, so I guess I'll get to the business of the day.