Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why would a vegan eat at a steakhouse?

I know... I know...  Many people who don't eat meat have meat eating friends.  So when they go out to dinner, they hope for a couple of suitable meat free choices, right?  Even if they go to a steakhouse, which is a place where meat eaters tend to flock.

Today's topic comes up courtesy of a blog post I read by The Bitchy Waiter, a guy who runs a popular Facebook page and blog.  I could only dream of being as famous as he is, although fame comes with the price of having to deal with trolls.  Anyway, The Bitchy Waiter wrote about a guy who sent a complaint to LongHorn Steak House, a popular steakhouse chain in the United States.  He was upset because he and his lady went out to dinner there and they had nothing other than salads available for non meat eaters.

The Bitchy Waiter included the entire exchange between the pissed off customer and LongHorn Steakhouse.  I thought the person responding on behalf of the restaurant did a good job of staying even keeled.  The original poster, on the other hand, was really obnoxious.  He was snarky and rude and claimed that LongHorn Steakhouse lost his business for not offering any meatfree options besides salad.  By the nasty tone of his post, I can only figure that even if the steakhouse did offer a couple of vegan options, this dude wouldn't be satisfied.

I shared the blog post on my Facebook page and an interesting debate ensued.  Actually, I was pretty surprised it attracted as many comments as it did.  One of my friends, an outspoken Italian who enjoys vegetarian cuisine, maintains that LongHorn Steakhouse needs to provide vegetarian fare other than salads.  My take is that people should go to restaurants that suit their needs.  I don't expect vegan/vegetarian restaurants to serve meat.  Why would I expect vegan or vegetarian options at a steakhouse?

I get that meat eaters and vegans sometimes marry and/or make friends with each other.  It's great when restaurants offer something for everyone.  On the other hand, you really can't please everyone.  When I asked my Italian friend if a meatless restaurant should offer meat choices for carnivores, he said that wouldn't make sense because vegetarian and vegan restaurants serve a niche population.  He quotes 3-4% of the population preferring meat free options.  Actually, I'm guessing that many more people than that are non meat eaters, but using my Italian friend's figure, I would argue that it doesn't make sense for a steakhouse to offer something that 96% of their usual clientele wouldn't be interested in ordering.

Plenty of restaurants out there have a broad selection of choices for meat eaters and non meat eaters.  If LongHorn Steakhouse doesn't suit your needs, simply go somewhere else.  It's that simple.  Vote with your wallet.  If not offering meat free dishes hurts their bottom line enough, they'll reform or go out of business.  It's the nature of the beast.  Incidentally, LongHorn Steakhouse has been in business since 1981.  Obviously, they have been doing something right.  If it gets to the point at which they are in danger of going out of business because they don't offer enough meat free choices, I'm sure they will make the appropriate changes to their menu to try to stay afloat.

As for my argumentative Italian friend, I think his comments were more about his disdain for American chain restaurants.  We have had many chats about how much he dislikes them... and many things American, actually.  Frankly, I agree that American chain restaurants tend to be soulless and obnoxious.  Give me a nice family run place with character anytime.  But if I ever quit eating meat, I'm not going to go to a steakhouse and demand vegan food.  That just doesn't make sense.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Guy walks into a bar... or a restaurant? In Utah, now you'll know for sure...

This morning, as I watched the fat snowflakes fall and perused my Facebook feed, one of my exMormon friends shared this article about a new law in Utah.  Starting next month, every restaurant or bar in Utah has to display a sign indicating whether the establishment is licensed as a "bar" or a "restaurant".

This new sign rule is part of a massive overhaul of Utah's famously draconian liquor laws, which include the fall of the so-called Zion curtains, a euphemism for the rule that forced restaurants and bars that sold liquor to prepare mixed drinks out of public view.  Now, restaurants and bars can mix drinks publicly, but they must have a "buffer" where children are not allowed to be.  Actually, I don't think it's a bad idea to keep kids out of bar areas.  I do think forcing bartenders to mix drinks behind walls is a dumb idea and I'm glad Utah finally scrapped that rule.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the new laws, since Utah is chock full of Mormons and Mormons are not supposed to drink alcohol.  I think the signs are intended to help church going people avoid establishments that might put them at odds with their religious beliefs.  Hanging out on RfM has taught me that church members are always watching their own.  There have been plenty of stories about church members who have been caught shopping on Sunday or buying coffee, which is a forbidden substance to members of the LDS church.  Since church members tend to "return and report", I can see why knowing if a place is licensed as a bar or a restaurant might be useful to them.

I shared this news on my Facebook feed and a friend of mine who also isn't Mormon wondered if the Utah legislature didn't have more pressing items to address.  To people who aren't Mormon, it truly may seem silly to mandate restaurants and bars to clearly label what they are.  But if you've had any exposure to Mormons, you understand the rationale.  No one wants to be caught going into a bar by accident.  And if you do walk into an establishment that is clearly a bar and you are a member of the LDS church, it's a lot easier to bust you for breaking the rules, right?

It would be nice if we had fewer states that intertwine church bullshit with laws that affect everyone.  Utah is certainly not the only state where religion figures prominently within a state's legislative efforts.  I can think of a lot of southern states where church people have influenced state laws.  A lot of religious people defend these rules that affect everyone, claiming they are for the "common good".  But not everyone believes in specific religious teachings and it's not the government's place to enact laws that force non-believers into complying with church inspired rules.

I have never visited Utah.  I have heard it's a beautiful state and I have met many exMormons who are from there.  Maybe someday I'll visit... although I won't have the slightest compunction about walking into a bar and giving them some business.  The Mormon church can suck it, as far as I'm concerned.




Sometimes it snows in April...

And, in fact, that is what is happening right now.  Some of it has actually stuck to the trees and ground.  Later, it's supposed to rain.  I guess that means I'll be staying in and making some music today.  I like to do that when it rains.

We still don't know where we're going to be three months from now.  Bill is confident he will competitive for one of the jobs offered by the new company taking over his contract.  If he's not competitive there, we could end up in another German state.  Instead of being close to France, we'd be close to the Czech Republic.  That wouldn't be a bad thing, except for all that goes into a move.  I just don't want to do it.

While I don't love our house, we have good landlords.  That, in and of itself, is an awesome thing in Germany.  While we have been lucky both times we've lived here, plenty of people we know have not.  I would rather live in a house I don't love than have shitty landlords.  We also live in a nice neighborhood with very kind and understanding neighbors who don't give us a lot of shit about our dogs.

Also, I hate the idea of having to go find new places to get the usual services...  a new vet, a new dentist, a new optometrist (which I really need to do even if we stay here)...  I suspect I'll need a doctor at some point, too.  It's easier to do all of that in the Stuttgart area.

I just fucking hate moving.  I don't want to do it yet.  So my fingers are crossed that Bill will stay with the new company for at least another year or two.  Then, I suspect we'll be ready to go back to the States.  Or maybe somewhere else.

We could end up in Italy, too.  There are jobs there that Bill can do.  I love visiting Italy, though I'm not sure I want to live down there.  It's a bit chaotic and the air quality is not the best.  On the other hand, the food and wine are amazing and most Italians are lovely people.  Or we could go to Hawaii at some point, though I don't want to try to do that move with dogs.

Really, what I think I'd like to do is find a nice medium sized town to settle down in, buy a house with a generous plot of land, get myself a horse or two, and enjoy living somewhere I know I can stay indefinitely.  For now, I guess I'll just sit here and watch the snow and contemplate life.



Well, it's pretty, I guess...



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chachi is a heartless bastard...

A couple of days ago, we got the news that Erin Moran died at the age of 56.  She was well-known to people of a certain age for playing Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi.  Her love interest on both of those shows was Chachi Arcola, played by chief dickhead Scott Baio.

I just read a very sad article about Baio's comments regarding Moran's death.  Basically, Baio says Moran died due to addictions to drugs and alcohol.  News reports indicate that Moran had stage four cancer that had apparently not been publicized and that was probably why she succumbed.   She was found dead in her home in Harrison County, Indiana.  No illegal narcotics were found in Moran's residence.

At this point, the type of cancer Moran had has not been publicized.  It's true that addictions can lead to other illnesses that hasten death.  But was it really necessary for Scott Baio to say this?


Got any class, Mr. Baio?  

When I was growing up, Scott Baio was sort of a heartthrob.  I see that he's now evolved into a middle aged jerk.  


For some reason, when I think of Scott Baio, I think of this...


Or this...

I just think it was pretty classless for Scott Baio to make those comments about his former co-star's death.  He has no business assuming he knows what killed Erin Moran.  It sounds to me like he hadn't a clue, anyway.  Even if she did die due to drug use, he could have been kinder with his comments.  


Monday, April 24, 2017

SMIL is a liar. Color me surprised!

Last night, after Bill and I spent a couple of hours hanging out with monkeys, we came home and had dinner.  Then Bill called both of his parents.  He told his mother about the drama with stepmother in law and her nasty messages about Bill's dad being angry and not wanting Bill to know when he dies.  She agreed that what SMIL claimed FIL said didn't sound like him.  Like me, she was pretty pissed off hearing about it.

Then Bill called his dad.  I was sitting in the other room watching TV and they were having a delightful chat.  I decided to make sure Bill asked his dad about his stepmother's comments.  I wouldn't ordinarily do something like that, but he had just told me how concerned he was about his dad.  He even asked me if he could have his dad checked by social services to make sure he wasn't being abused.  So I wanted to make very sure that Bill confirmed with his father that SMIL's claims about his not wanting Bill to know when he dies were actually true.  I demanded that he ask him about it.

Sure enough, when Bill asked his dad if he really didn't want Bill to know when he dies, FIL reacted with shock and surprise.  He reminded Bill that if something were to happen to him, Bill's sister would let him know.  Bill's sister is adopted and nineteen years younger than Bill is, but she's a very good person.  She's also a lesbian who has twice been married to women.  Her first wife died of cancer a few years ago.  SMIL used to tell us that she knew her daughter would go to Hell because of her sexual preferences.

I used to try to dismiss SMIL's bullshit as someone who is insecure, immature, and needing understanding.  At first, I really did try to be patient with her, although as the years have passed, my patience has been waning.  But now that I know how much she lies and how far she'll stoop, she is permanently on my shit list.  She can't be trusted and obviously is a big, fat, liar.  Never again will I feel guilty for my negative feelings about her.

Other than the confrontation about the lies SMIL told us, Bill and his dad had a good talk.  Bill asked him to set up Skype so they could talk to each other more easily.  He's going to ask his sister to go over to help their dad with setting it up.  Hopefully, SMIL won't sabotage their efforts.

I am really pissed off about the whole drama.  While our problems are pretty small in the grand scheme of things, no one needs this kind of needless bullshit in their lives.  Besides being completely unnecessary, what SMIL did was just plain mean spirited.  She's just given me yet another reason to dislike her.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Stop trying to be a mindreader!

I really don't like it when people assign thoughts and feelings to me.  Yesterday's post about Bill's stepmother is one example of someone who assumes they know what I'm thinking and feeling.  This morning, as I was checking out Facebook's On This Day feature, I was reminded of an online altercation that got my blood pressure to rise back on April 23, 2012.  I actually wrote very briefly about this incident when it happened.  I also referred to it a couple of days ago, when I wrote about the concept of "projection".

This morning, I'm irritated anew.  Why?  Because of the aggressive way this person responded to me. I had posted that I thought it was interesting that Turkish Children's Day is celebrated on April 23 while Armenian Genocide Memorial Day is celebrated on April 24th.  I thought the timing was curious, given that other countries celebrate Children's Day at other times of the year.

I had initially mentioned it on my former friend's post, but she got really pissed off about it.  It was as if I had rained on her parade.  She was trying to show everyone how awesome Turkey is for celebrating children and I had brought up something negative.  She wasn't happy, so out of respect for her, I deleted my comment on the friend's post and made my own on my page.

In all honesty, I was not angry about Turkish Children's Day.  I was simply making an observation about the timing, which seemed rather suspicious to me.  My former friend offered these comments...


She got a little aggressive and I distinctly remember my temper flaring as I read this...  In fact, it flared again as I read this morning.  I don't like it when people tell me how I'm feeling.

I know I provided a screen shot, but now I'm going to add the comments that really set me off.  There were only a few of them... and they followed her having asked me on her original post what Armenian Genocide Memorial Day had to "do with the price of tea in China".  I guess my point went over her head.  Her comments are in italics and mine are in red.

OK there are a few things you do not know. The children's day was founded by Atta Turk like what 50 over years ago? WAY before the Armenians decided the attack (during wartime) was genocide. And before they made a "day" of it. Another thing you are not considering is that the war was with the OTTOMANS not modern day Turkey! 100 years ago! By your rationale, Jews should still be pissed off at Germans, not Nazis. Do you understand?

First off, how the hell does she know what I know?  We hadn't seen each other since our high school days.  And how does she know what I've considered?  Children's Day in Turkey was started in the late 1920s.  Armenian Genocide Memorial Day has been observed since 1915.  The date for Genocide Memorial Day was not chosen arbitrarily.  There was a verifiable historic event that preceded it.  But really, I was just very much turned off by her aggressive "tone".  People who get "in your face" really annoy me.  I generally try to avoid them.  I'm not impressed by people who try to bully others into accepting their views.  And what the fuck is up with the "Do you understand?" comment?  Is she trying to say she thinks I'm stupid?  

But what you are doing is projecting your anger for the Armenian people, that something that happened 100 years ago, on a children's international holiday that HAPPENS to be in Turkey and a day before. You are taking a good thing and turning it around. Yes, I am very aware of the conflict. And I too, feel bad for the Armenians who died. But I wouldn't bring on politics between countries for something was intended for GOOD - internationally.

Then she follows up by accusing me of "projecting" my "anger".  She is making an erroneous assumption that I'm angry.  I am not angry at Turks for the Genocide.  At this point, I believe most of the people directly involved with the Genocide are long dead.  I don't hold it against modern Turks, although I do wish more of them would acknowledge what happened and try to make peace with the Armenians.  It would be nice if Turkey and Armenia could get along.  But no, I am not angry about this...  I'd say my feelings are more of sadness than anger.  However, it did make me angry that she tried to tell me how I feel.  She doesn't know how I feel and she makes a very poor armchair psychologist.  Moreover, I was not the one typing in all caps and using exclamation points.  So who was really the angry one?

And then this...

Did you ever think that since the children's holiday was created FIRST by an old president, that maybe the Armenians chose this day was politically motivated? I mean, you have to look at both sides here.

Uh... no, because the Armenians observed their day long before the Turks started observing theirs.  This was just a really stupid comment.  I can see that I pretty much gave up at that point because it was like trying to talk to the moon.  She was completely missing my point and wasting my time.

Seriously, I wasn't trying to start an argument.  It was really just an observation, and one that I had not considered until she posted about Children's Day in Turkey.  Then she turned it into something aggressive and obnoxious.  I was actually relieved a few weeks later when she decided to unfriend me.  At the time, her comments really upset me and, I think, were most unfriendly and insulting.  Reading these comments now, I almost wish I had been more aggressive with my former friend and reminded her that she's the one who failed the fifth grade, not me.  But that would have been a very cheap shot.

This theme comes up again this weekend, as Bill grapples with his stepmother accusing him of being "angry" because he's not a mindreader and doesn't know when or how often they want him to call.  There have been times when he's called and his dad will ring off like my mom does when she's busy or not in the mood to chat.  Like, he's more interested in eating lunch than talking to his son who has called him long distance.  But when he doesn't call, they assume he's angry, accuse him of shutting them out of his life, and send hate mail.  

SMIL correctly assumes I don't like her, but doesn't consider that I don't think she likes me, either.  I'm supposed to be kissing her ass trying to win her over and, apparently, it hurts her feelings that I don't.  But she doesn't respond in kind.  She makes no attempt to get to know me or befriend me.  And she assumes I'm mad at her.  Well, I wasn't mad at her before a few days ago, but I am now.  And this kind of stuff is not what wins people over and positively influences them.  If her goal is to get to know me and be friendly, doing this kind of stuff is not the way to achieve it.

Bill and I are not mindreaders... and neither is SMIL, FIL, or my former Facebook friend.  We don't know what other people are thinking or feeling.  We can make educated or uneducated guesses, but there's no way to know what someone's thoughts are unless they tell us... and even then, we probably still won't know for sure.  And really, why does it matter?  Isn't it more important to be in charge of your own thoughts?  Why spend time and energy trying to read another person's mind?  You probably won't succeed and really, all you're doing is guessing.  

That being said, I will admit to trying to predict other people's reactions and guess what they are thinking.  I'm always a human and often a hypocrite.  But I acknowledge that I'm not a mindreader and I don't like to figuratively get in people's faces when they post something that challenges me.  That doesn't mean it doesn't happen periodically, but I mostly try to exercise self control and confine my more aggressive responses to this blog or private conversations with Bill.  *Sigh*...  Someday, I will learn to sign off of Facebook.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Want me to like you more? Learning my name would be a step in the right direction.

Last night, Bill came home from work and read to me the super long text message his stepmother sent him.  It was a pretty rambling thing, mostly full of accusations that Bill doesn't like his dad and reminders that his dad is getting old and will die someday.  And, of course, I was also mentioned in the text.

My husband's stepmother, who was at our wedding in 2002, referred to me as "Ginny" and said she knows I don't like her.  She also claims she doesn't know why I don't like her.  She can't see why I wouldn't find her a delightful person when she sends Bill text messages full of poison.

Okay... well, if stepmother-in-law wants to know why I don't like her, we can start with the fact that I married Bill fifteen years ago this November and she still doesn't seem to know that my name is Jenny... as in Jennifer.  It's not Ginny, as in Virginia.  My husband was married to his first wife for almost ten years.  Her name was Sabrina.  SMIL has no trouble remembering or spelling Sabrina's name.  Why can't she commit my name to memory?

The truth is, when I met Bill's father and stepmother, I thought they were nice enough people.  However, on the occasions we have visited them (and we always go to them; they don't come to us), we have mostly sat around and talked about Bill's ex wife and kids.  I have been told that I have no right to any opinions about what happened to Bill during his first marriage.  SMIL has never seemed interested in getting to know me and, in fact, has at best treated me like an interloper who has invaded the family.  At worst, she's acted like I broke up Bill's first marriage, which simply isn't true.

Another reason I don't like my husband's stepmother is that I think she's very immature.  She has been married to my husband's dad since 1979, yet she still is very bitter and angry toward Bill's mother, who is a truly lovely person.  My husband's mom is nothing like my husband's ex wife.  She never withheld visitation when Bill was growing up.  She never pressured Bill's dad to pay child support.  Even today, she has kind things to say about him.  Stepmother in law seems unable to understand that my husband's mom gave her a gift.  If my mother in law hadn't divorced Bill's dad, where would SMIL be?  Maybe married to someone else or single?

SMIL claims that FIL is the best guy in the world.  But what kind of guy says, "When I die, don't tell Bill?"  Did he really say that?  Or is SMIL creating drama?  Either way, I don't appreciate it when she sends Bill text messages full of emotional blackmail because he then shares them with me and gets me upset.  If FIL really did say something like that, SMIL should not have told Bill.  She could have simply sent a nice text message that says, "Hey Bill, if you have time, could you call your father?"  That would have been kinder and just as effective as her lengthy diatribe about what a terrible and neglectful son Bill is.  Who wants to read that?  And what makes her think that sending it is going to make Bill or me like her more?

I did not have a problem with Bill's stepmother when I first met her and I never wanted to be at odds with her.  But she is a toxic person who doesn't seem to have respect for other people.  And she doesn't even know my name after almost fifteen years of marriage.  She acts like she is the only person who is allowed to be upset about anything.  She wants us to visit and call and treats it like a duty, but she doesn't make phone calls and visits pleasant.  So now I don't like her.  Sending Bill shitty text messages is not the way to get me to like or respect her more.  Meddling in Bill's relationship with his father is no way to inspire goodwill.  And if she has a problem with me, she could speak to me directly.  That would foster respect.  Instead, she's a coward.

Bill did send his stepmother a response that said he would talk to his dad on the phone.  Stepmom responded in a rather panicked way that she hadn't told Bill's dad that she'd sent the message.  That makes me wonder if SMIL made up the whole thing, including the comment about not telling Bill when he dies.  I told Bill that he needs to tell his dad that his stepmother is sending him nasty texts.  If it were me, I would also tell him that SMIL told Bill that he'd asked her not to tell Bill when he dies.  I have a feeling that Bill's dad would not have wanted her telling Bill that, even if he did say it.  She needs to face some reprisals for trying to emotionally blackmail Bill and putting words in Bill's dad's mouth.

There is a name for this kind of communication.  What SMIL is doing is a classic case of triangulation.  She is communicating on behalf of someone else and spinning information.  I have no doubt she's talked to her husband about Bill's response, but put her spin on it.  The end result is that Bill and his dad aren't talking to each other, but they are both upset.  The way to stop that is to speak directly and cut SMIL out of the loop.  She really has no business meddling.  Maybe she's feeling lonely and neglected and stirring up drama is one way she can feel alive again.  

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my husband's father, stepmother, ex wife, or ex kids anymore.  I've finally been moving past all of that shit.  That's why it's very upsetting when someone tries to pull me back into the morass.  I have asked Bill to send his stepmother a text requesting that she leaves me out of her shit.  Otherwise, I will be forced to send her a personal response that I know she won't like.  And if Bill's father should die and SMIL doesn't tell his only son, she will soon find out what it's like not to have any communication.  I have a feeling that Bill would not forgive her.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Making a "mean" lemonade out of people who are lemons...

Today's post is not about mean comments directed at me.  I have been pretty lucky.  I haven't gotten too many mean comments, even though I've been writing online for years.  I imagine if I did live videos or posted more pictures of myself, I might get more mean comments.  People can be extremely cruel, especially if you happen to have severe appearance deficits or are significantly overweight.

I first encountered Boogie2988 a couple of nights ago, when I was watching videos about those people in Maryland who were posting "prank" videos and getting a lot of negative feedback from their viewers.  Boogie made a video about them, which autoplayed after I watched one done by another person.

Since YouTube tends to suggest videos done by the people whose channel you've already watched, I soon found myself getting more links to Boogie's stuff.  One of his videos had an intriguing title...  "Reading Mean Comments".


I gotta hand it to Boogie.  He's really got a good sense of humor.

People are unbelievably mean.  Boogie is a very obese guy, which he is all too willing to acknowledge.  While I'm sure some of these comments are hurtful, he manages to be funny when he reads them.  I admire that in a person.  He truly has a thick skin.


And, as you can see, the success of the first video spawned a second...

I have absolutely no desire to be on camera.  I get really nervous when a camera is focused on me.  But this guy is a natural.  He does voices and is absolutely at home behind a mic.  I used to do radio when I was in my 20s and I was pretty good at that.  But turn a camera on me and I get mental and very self-conscious.  Boogie is friendly, outgoing, engaging, and confident.  That's why he has so many people watching him.


I guess "Francis" is one of Boogie's imaginary friends?

I enjoy people who are able to take something bad and turn it into something good.  Boogie took cruel, nasty, mean-spirited comments and made them into comedy gold.  He's probably laughing all the way to the bank!  Good for him!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

A post Easter crucifixion...

Relax... this post isn't about a literal crucifixion.  It's more of a rant about people who climb up on the holy cross of guiltmongering and spread their miserable suffering to everyone in their sphere.

I have ranted about this subject in the past, but it's been awhile since my last plea for my in-laws to get down off the cross and act like adults.  So I'm going to do it today.  No, they probably won't read this, but it'll make me feel better to write this... and it's nothing I would not tell them in person.

This morning, Bill got a guilt laden email from his father's wife.  She does this occasionally.  She'll send a text or an email or post something on Facebook.  Usually, she claims these messages are from his dad, but I would imagine they also come from her.  I don't know why Bill's dad, who is perfectly capable of sending an email, doesn't communicate directly.  Maybe he's just a big wuss.  And really, if he's afraid to talk to his son, who is truly one of the most gentle, decent, kind people I have ever met, he is a wuss of epic proportions.

Anyway... within the email, Bill's stepmother quoted his dad as saying, "When I die, don't tell Bill."

I'm sure there was more to the message than that, but really, I think that's more than enough.  Maybe if this had been the first time she'd sent something like this, I might be shocked by it.  But it's happened so many times over the years that now it just really annoys me.  Bill is a lot more diplomatic than I am when he gets this stuff, although he has come a long way in not responding to manipulative guilt tactics.  But anyway, I naturally had a response that I think was pretty good, although it probably would piss off SMIL.

Shitty guilt trip from SMIL-  "When I die, don't tell Bill..."

My response- You are within your rights not to tell me when my dad dies.  I would hope you would tell me, though, because that is the decent thing to do.  You're not exactly on the moral high ground when you resort to emotionally manipulative tactics to get my attention.  If you want me to pay attention to you and treat you with respect, act respectable.

If Dad has something to say to me, he should speak to me directly like an adult.  If either of you have a request or a need, you should make a clear and respectful request, like an adult does.  

Communication is a two way street.  I will not respond to manipulative tactics anymore.  The next time you send me one of these messages, I will delete it and you will not hear from me at all.  Do I make myself clear?

Of course, this would not go over well, since my husband's stepmother seems to think she is worthy of nothing but deference.  I would imagine if she responded, it would be full of even more guilt, whining, and shaming.  At which point, if I chose to respond, I might simply say "Grow up."

Fortunately for SMIL, Bill is the one who communicates with her.  I'm sure that if I started sending responses instead of Bill, SMIL would be furious.  She would want HIM to respond.  And yet, she doesn't see that Bill would like his dad to communicate with him directly instead of having his wife send emails and texts.  In her mind, this is none of my business.  She doesn't see that it's not really her business, either.  SMIL and I can claim about the same amount of business meddling in our husbands' father-son relationship, which is only about us inasmuch as their mutual angst affects us because we live with them.

My husband's mom has no problems staying in touch with us.  She's on Facebook and makes herself available for Skype calls.  She and Bill use their web cameras, so they can even see each other.  If that doesn't work, they send email.  I adore my husband's mother.  She is a wonderful lady who is kind, mature, and respectful.  She doesn't resort to bullshit manipulation tactics.  And, because she is empathetic and loving in her communications, she hears from Bill very regularly.  Bill's father and stepmother could take a lesson from Bill's mom.  Instead, they wallow in pity and do things that do not inspire him to want to talk to them.

As if we don't already have enough shit to deal with right now...  Christ almighty!


I dedicate this song to my miserable in-laws...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Abusing your kids on film for fun and profit...

Since I'm going to be alone until tomorrow evening, I have time for another blog entry.  I probably don't need to write much about this particular situation, since it's already gone viral.  But, what the hell?  It's either this or karaoke...

Meet the Martins.  They live in Maryland and they have five adorable and bright kids.  They also have a YouTube channel.  I was blissfully unaware of this family's existence until a couple of days ago, when a college friend (not the one from my previous post) shared a video this family made.

In this video, mom giggles as she explains how they are going to "prank" one of their kids, who evidently once got in trouble for spilling ink on the carpet.  His very "clever" parents bought some invisible ink and poured it on the carpet, then called the boy to the room.  The parents proceeded to scream and yell at the kid, using all manner of vile language.  If the kids knew it was a prank, it definitely wasn't obvious to the viewers.  They must be gifted actors.  On the other hand, since this family has a whole channel devoted to "pranks", maybe they did know. 

Anyway, a lot of people viewed the video and got upset.  It got shared many times and now people are deluging the Facebook page run by the child welfare agency in their county.  The family seems very puzzled that people have responded the way they have.  They even posted a video explaining themselves.  They ask their kids on camera if they are in any way traumatized.  Naturally, they all deny being upset by the fact that their parents pull this shit, film it, and share it with the world.  And, for all I know, that is how they really feel... or maybe not.

I see that they even posted a new video yesterday about going to Disney, which I haven't watched.  But apparently the fallout over their invisible ink prank has been "devastating".   Just a few hours ago, they posted this video, claiming to be "destroyed over false aquisations" [sic].  They admit that the videos are fake and they do all of this simply for YouTube fame and "revenue".  

Well, I have only watched a few minutes of their most recent video.  They do appear to be genuinely upset by what has happened.  And while I can empathize with them being upset, I have to wonder where the hell they've been?  We now live in a society where parents get in trouble with CPS simply for letting their kids walk home alone from school or a park.  What made the Martins think they could post this stuff on YouTube, act like it was real, and not get backlash?  

I'll tell you what.  I am not one to get too upset over profanity.  After all, I did rant about the mom who was arrested for dropping the f-bomb in front of her kids.  But I have to admit that even I was shocked by the filthy language this couple was using in their video in front of their kids, as well as the screeching and shrieking.  It may have been a fake prank, but it was damn sure convincing.  And I cannot imagine a parent with a lick of sense thinking this was a good idea.  At the very least, they are guilty of exercising horrible judgment and being incredibly immature, which makes me wonder what the hell else goes on in their house.  At the very most, they are just as abusive and sick as they appear to be in the couple of videos I've seen them do.  

Look... I don't want to see any family broken up.  I think it's very sad when people lose their kids to CPS.  I even think divorce is sad, even though I personally benefited from Bill's divorce.  But dammit, folks, if you have children, you need to use your head.  It is risky to make videos involving your kids that appears to put them at risk.  People will call the authorities and they will feel perfectly justified in doing so.  Moreover, if you're on YouTube famewhoring, you better be careful about what you put out there.  Because you may very well end up with much more than you ever bargained for, especially if what you're doing involves kids.  We do not live in a world where people will just gawk and move on to their next station on the Internet.  And, sorry, but these kids DO appear to be abused. If they are acting, they are brilliant actors.  

What really strikes me about the Martins' latest video is that they are clearly shocked and upset.  They blame some guy named DeFranco, who apparently made a video about them and/or alerted authorities.  I could go and check it out, but that would take time out of my busy day.  And I have more time than the average person does and probably care more.  But, you see?  People are going to react to what you put out there.  Not for nothing, but these people act like they need to be investigated.   

People react to stuff I post.  I get hate mail sometimes.  Fortunately, I have no children that anyone can claim I'm abusing.  If I did, I'd probably be afraid to write much about them.  It's dangerous to do that in this day and age.  Lots of people are ready to call CPS for whatever infraction they think someone's committed.  Folks, to be honest, I think there is something really off about parents who are more concerned with YouTube fame and ad revenue than the welfare and privacy of their kids.  I don't know enough about the people involved to say for sure what has happened.  But I don't buy that this family isn't way fucked up.  Many people who have seen those videos have reacted viscerally to the footage.  Why?  Because a lot of viewers have been there themselves.

I watch this family and I see people destined for Dr. Phil's studio.  Or maybe, if the show was still airing, they might go on Wife Swap.  It doesn't make me think they are winning at the child raising game.

Edited to add... More on this... although I don't know that the kids' bio mom is necessarily going to be better.  There is a reason why she lost custody.  It's not so common for dads to get it... although at this point, it's hard to know exactly where the truth lies.  And if this man is a narcissistic monster, maybe he really did con his ex wife.  Who knows?

You keep using that word "projection"... I do not think you know what it means...

Yesterday, I shared an article on Facebook about nasty things servers in restaurants have encountered.  I read the article with interest, since I was once a server and have vivid memories and deep psychological scars from the experience.  The anecdote that stuck out the most was from a waitress who had worked at the Olive Garden.  I am not a fan of the Olive Garden and, after reading that poor woman's story, I am now even less of a fan today than I was yesterday.

The Olive Garden was running their bottomless pasta bowl promotion.  A very overweight family came in to take advantage of the deal.  With them was their toddler aged daughter, who was dressed in a dirty shirt and a diaper, but was not wearing pants.  After awhile, the waitress noticed the distinct aroma of shit lingering around the table.  She tried to ignore it, but on a return visit, she noticed the toddler pulling turds out of her diaper and dropping them on the floor.

Naturally, the waitress was unable to hide her revulsion.  She pointed out to the mom that the little girl was dropping shit on the floor.  The mother said she knew, and had thoughtfully tried to cover the poop with a napkin, but had only managed to cover it slightly.  And, as any thinking person knows, a napkin will do nothing to cover the stench of feces.

The waitress told her manager, who ended up asking the woman to clean up the mess.  Mom got very irate, apparently thinking that it was not her "job" to clean up her daughter's inappropriately deposited shit.  But, in the end, she cleaned it up; then without taking the time to wash her hands, she tucked in to yet another bowl of pasta.

Now... reading about that experience, in and of itself, would turn me off of Olive Garden.  Especially if I had actually witnessed it at the time it happened.  But I have other reasons for not liking the Olive Garden.

I didn't used to feel like this.  In the early 90s, when the Olive Garden was kind of new, I thought it was a great place to eat.  I remember going there for my birthday one year and really enjoying the experience.  But, what can I say?  Twenty plus years ago, I was a lot younger, less sophisticated, and had simpler and much less expensive tastes.  I have now had better culinary experiences that have broadened my perspective.  I have also spent several years living in Europe, where wait staff is paid decently and you're not simultaneously plied with food and alcohol as the staff rushes you to finish your food and GTFO ASAP.

My disdain for the Olive Garden probably began in 1993, when I visited a location with my cousin and her friends.  As we were finishing the meal, I suddenly got a terrible stomachache that hurt so much that I fainted as I was trying to exit our booth.  I hit the floor pretty hard and, as I was regaining consciousness, heard someone shout "She must be an epileptic!"  I was forced to lie on the floor in the middle of the restaurant and wait for the paramedics, although I did not allow them to take me to the hospital.  I ended up with a rug burn and probably a mild concussion, although I eventually recovered with no lingering ill effects.

I don't know if my stomachache was caused by the food.  I did have one alcoholic drink, but it was a girly ice cream drink.  I certainly wasn't drunk, even though my tolerance for booze was a lot less back then.  Anyway, for a very long time after that fainting incident, I avoided the Olive Garden.

Bill and I finally visited again about ten years later at a location in northern Virginia.  I remember we had a pretty good time at a time when we had little money.  I didn't faint, either.  But they had changed their menu significantly and I was turned off by the endless refills on food.  You'd never know it to look at me, but I'm not someone who wants several helpings unless I ask for them, which rarely happens.  I don't like it when servers are compelled to keep refilling bread, salad, soup, or whatever, especially when I'm having an entree and might also want dessert.  I don't like wasting food.  Moreover, the Olive Garden's bread sticks remind me of glorified hot dog buns.

So I posted the article I linked above with the comment that I used to like the Olive Garden but don't anymore.  An old college friend of mine asked me what made me stop liking the Olive Garden and wondered if the anecdote on Reddit was what made me not want to go there anymore.  I basically explained the reasons I don't like it, which was a briefer version of what I put in this blog post.  His response was this...

Whole lot of angst in there. Maybe you're projecting? Unlimited salad is my appetizer and dessert. The shit on the floor is completely irrelevant.

Okay...  now first of all, there is nothing in my response that even comes close to "psychological projection".  I think a lot of uninformed people trot out this response when someone has an opinion that is contrary to their own.  It's not the first time someone has accused me of projection without actually knowing what projection is.  But, for those who don't know, allow me to offer a definition.

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism all people use in order to deal with unwanted or unpleasant emotions within themselves.  For instance, I might have really insecure feelings about myself.  Deep down, I know I'm insecure and it makes me uncomfortable, so I project those feelings onto another person and accuse them of being "insecure".  I might be a hateful, abusive, inconsiderate person who uses other people, but I'll accuse another person of being that way to take my focus off of my own bad feelings about myself.  I might feel very angry about something, but instead of dealing with that anger rationally, I'll accuse someone else of being angry.  Everybody does this occasionally.  I do it.  You do it.  It's actually a very common and normal defense mechanism.  But simply having a different perspective about something does not equate to "projection".  

I'm not sure how I'm "projecting" by listing what I think are perfectly valid reasons not to enjoy the Olive Garden or similar types of American chain restaurants.  I think the fact that I once fainted in an Olive Garden after eating dinner there is reason enough not to want to ever visit again.  And yet I have been back a few times and given them another chance.  Reading about some kid in a full diaper throwing shit on the floor and knowing that the Olive Garden's policy of offering endless pasta, salad, and soup is one reason cheap, tacky people are attracted to that restaurant is, in my opinion, another good reason to avoid the place.  Not liking being rushed when I go out to eat and having extra food foisted on me while I'm being simultaneously encouraged to hurry up and leave are also good reasons.  I have eaten real Italian food and American style Italian food pales in comparison-- yet another valid reason to dislike the Olive Garden.  None of this has anything to do with projection.

This doesn't mean I won't eat in a chain restaurant, by the way.  I may very well dine at the Olive Garden again.  However, when I do eat food from there and places like it, I prefer to get take out.  That way, I can eat it in peace and at my own pace.  And I won't have to watch or smell some kid dropping their deuces on the floor, or hear them shrieking.  Fair enough?

Perhaps my friend is guilty of projection.  He obviously likes the Olive Garden and, for some reason, seems offended that I don't like it.  So when I post my reasons for not liking the Olive Garden, he implies that I have a psychological "issue".  Part of psychological projection has to do with blame shifting.  I'm being "unreasonable" because I don't want to give the Olive Garden another chance after having fainted there, read a disgusting anecdote about the clientele, experienced their insistence on overfeeding their guests with mediocre food while also rushing them to finish, and read about the working conditions for their wait staff.  What, exactly, needs to happen before I can declare that I don't like the Olive Garden and it will be a valid conclusion in my friend's eyes?

As I mentioned before, this is not the first time someone has accused me of "projection".  Several years ago, a former Facebook friend posted a cheery article about how Turkey celebrates "Children's Day" on April 23 of each year.  Since 1927, Turkey has celebrated it on April 23, though it is celebrated in other countries on other days.  Having spent two years living in Armenia, I know that since 1915, Armenia has celebrated Genocide Memorial Day every year on April 24th due to the fact that Turkish people murdered millions of Armenians during World War I.  However, I did not know about Turkey's holiday.  When my friend shared the article about Turkish Children's Day, I noted the date and it got me thinking.  

I thought it was curious that the Turks would celebrate Children's Day the day before Armenians observe Genocide Memorial Day, especially since Genocide Memorial Day predates Turkish Children's Day by over ten years.  I mentioned it on my friend's post, not meaning to start a debate, but just thinking that it was an interesting coincidence.  Actually, having been to Turkey and talked to Turks about Armenia, I learned that many of them have no idea why Armenians are not necessarily friendly to Turks.  They are not taught about the Genocide.  In fact, some people question if the Genocide is a real thing or they spin it so the Armenians are equally to blame for it.

If she'd been open to it, my former Facebook friend and I could have had an interesting and educational discussion about this topic.  Instead, she got very upset that I pointed out this "coincidence" and accused me of "projecting" my "unreasonable" anger about the Genocide toward Turkey.  I distinctly remember her comment, "And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?!"  I thought that was an unreasonably hostile response and, several years on, I haven't forgotten it.

First off, I am not angry at Turkish people for the Armenian Genocide.  I was not around during those days and neither was almost anyone else alive today.  The vast majority of people directly responsible for the Genocide are long dead.  I wouldn't blame today's Turks for what happened over 100 years ago.  I could choose to be angry with them for other reasons; but as it so happens, the Turks don't currently upset me, my time in Armenia notwithstanding.  I have visited Turkey and really enjoyed seeing the country, even if I did get sexually harassed during my trip.

Secondly, why in the world would this woman, who has not seen or spoken to me in decades, assume that I'm "angry" simply based on a factual observation about Turkey's Children's Day and its curious timing with Armenian Genocide Day?  To me, it's just intriguing that Turkey would celebrate children the day before Armenians mourn the deaths of their countrymen, many of which were innocent children.  Bringing that up does not mean I'm angry.  And, for all I know, it was a total coincidence (although I doubt it).  

If anything, I'd wonder if she was angry-- pissed that I brought this up on a post that she'd meant to show that she celebrates culture around the world.  I doubt she'd considered that anyone would point out the relation between Turkey and Armenia, but then, if we were real friends, she'd know that I lived there for two years and know something about the place.  But I don't want to make unreasonable assumptions about what a person is really thinking...

Anyway... this is turning out to be another of them days.  This morning, I woke up to notifications that someone on SingSnap turned one of my solos into a duet.  And, to throw salt in the wound, she also referred to me as "hun".  Add in the fact that Bill has to attend an overnight in another city so he can get training that may be irrelevant in a mere three months and you might know that today has already gotten off to an annoying start.  I think I'll walk the dogs and try to burn off some of this "angst".  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Being "lovable"...

Last night, I read an interesting article about Melania Trump.  It was posted on Medium.com by Kate Imbach, who had spent time looking at Mrs. Trump's Twitter account and noted the photos our current First Lady had posted before she was First Lady.  Imbach called Mrs. Trump a "Fairytale Prisoner By Choice" and likened her to "Rapunzel with no prince and no hair, locked in a tower of her own volition, and delighted with the predictability and repetition of her own captivity."

Although I don't read articles on Medium.com with any regularity, I have to admit that I was rather intrigued by Kate Imbach's astute observations.  And then I read the comments on her article.  The very first one, posted by Michel Courtine, was this...

A mother focusing on her family and protecting herself and her son from the tsunami of people like you Kate Imbach, that’s what you could have analyzed too if you were not ill intended. There are so many different things you could have used your energy for: create, innovate, produce, nurture. You chose to stalk in your quest for a fairytale moment of glory from the inside of your fame seeking prison tower.

I was a bit puzzled by Courtine's seemingly hostile response.  Especially when he followed up with this "gem" of a comment...

That’s not the way it works Kate Imbach. You first need to be lovable. Your sarcastic and bitter vision of life, picking words or images, twisting their meaning and dismissing the important will never lead you to happiness. Should a French citizen help you understand the spectrum of nurturing in your own language, especially in the context of my response? I was broadly talking about helping someone, doing something positive. But clearly, that would not benefit the instagram queen you wish you were, “with an eye”. Register to an art school and train it?

No constructive dialogue will ever come out of a manipulative, supposedly free, person like you. You’re iconic of your generation in the United States, the one that helped get Trump to power. That’s what I call irony. Good luck! Won’t help you get traffic anymore.


To her credit, Kate Imbach responded with brilliant snark...

Writing when I could have been nurturing! What was I thinking! Someone hand me a baby.

I find this topic relevant today.  Last night, I was also feeling a bit downhearted due to the huge wave of people in our community that seem to be threatened by intelligent, opinionated, educated women who express themselves.  While I have occasionally been on the receiving end of a lot of shit for offering my opinions, this time, I was observing other opinionated women being crapped upon in our community for making their voices heard.

All of a sudden, I realized that I'm getting kind of tired of this lifestyle.  I'm getting tired of being around people who have nothing better to do than make fun of bright, articulate people whose opinions don't happen to match their own.  I'm getting tired of being around people who aren't willing to broaden their perspectives.  And I'm really getting tired of so-called "mansplainers", especially when they can't handle a woman who speaks up.  

And yet... even though I know I'm getting tired of being in a community that regularly denigrates military spouses and anyone who voices an opinion that goes against the norm, this is the career path my husband is on.  He likes what he does and this is where his chances at employment are best.  And while I could also find employment, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself at this point in my life.  I have this tremendous urge to just get rid of all my possessions and move to a deserted island, where I live off the land and away from people and their expectations of what I should be doing with my time.

Mr. Courtine's comment about how Ms. Imbach needs to "be lovable" really struck me as an incredibly assholistic thing to say.  In a weird way, it was refreshing to read an assholistic comment from someone not in the local community.  It made me realize that I can find immature, insecure, threatened people no matter where I go.  So even if we took the so-called "geographic cure" and changed jobs and locations, it's likely that I'd still be depressed by people like Michel Courtine, imploring women to "be lovable".  Seriously... what an incredibly offensive comment.  Who is he to say the author of a piece on Medium.com is "not lovable"?  Would he write a similar comment to man?

Yesterday, someone told me that a person's education level means "nothing" in a discussion.  They completely dismissed the idea that formal education has any value.  Granted, in this particular situation, the person was writing about a young woman who cited her "high A" in a single psychology course as a reason why her opinion was valid.  I would agree that a single course in psychology does not make someone an authority.  However, a person who has a doctorate in psychology likely is recognized as an authority in their area of expertise.  So while everyone is entitled to an opinion and freedom of expression, at least if they are in a free country, not everyone's opinions are based on something of substance.

I find that many people in our community are very threatened by those who have been to school.  They don't value a person who had the time and money to attend an institution of higher education.  A lot of them automatically label that person a "snob" or a high falutin' asshole.  While I can understand not enjoying it when a person lords their education over another person, I also wonder how many of these folks who don't value education would knowingly visit a doctor or a lawyer who has never had any education in their field.  Right... you wouldn't want to do that because those people can't legally practice without having been to school (but that doesn't mean there aren't people out there who have fake credentials).  There is value in school, although some people don't want to admit it.  At the very least, a person who's been to school is more likely to know how to find out if their doctor or lawyer is legit.

I'm not sure where this contempt for thinkers and educated people, especially women, comes from in the military community.  My guess is that many people who disdain education do so because they think people who have been to school act superior.  And they're probably right that some people who are educated act superior when they shouldn't.  In my case, I probably use my education as a source of identity.  However, I'll bet another reason why this contempt exists is because of simple jealousy or because, somehow, they feel inadequate.  If they didn't feel inadequate, why would another person's education level affect them?  If that person's education doesn't matter and they don't care about it, why even mention it?  Why not simply disregard that person's comments if they aren't useful?

Recently, a woman in our local community (not me) mentioned in a discussion that she has a master's degree.  Although a lot of people seemed to think she was trying to be superior, I got the sense that she mentioned it because some people within the group were implying that she's stupid and in need of schooling.  This woman had simply voiced her opinion about something that was at odds with others in the group.  A lot of people piled on her for not going along with the crowd and mentioning that she's formally educated.  And you know what?  Even though the group members claimed not to care about this woman's education level and she's even left the group, they still talk about her with utter contempt.  Isn't it funny that I wasn't offended that the woman mentioned her higher education?  That's because I have an education myself and am not threatened by or jealous of that other person's master's degree.

Many people in our community have given me shit over the name of this blog (or really, the travel blog, since that's the one I share locally).  They think I'm "bragging" about my education.  Some of them have gotten to know me and realize I'm not an asshole.  Others won't get to know me because of the name of my blog.  And that's pretty sad, because it really is a reaction that smacks of ignorance.  You can miss out on a lot of great stuff when you make assumptions based your own insecurities.  That's a lesson that I'm still trying to learn myself.  But maybe I'd be more "lovable" if I'd simply graduated with a high school diploma and didn't write about these things...  I say, the world needs more brave people like Kate Imbach, who are willing to take a ration of shit for expressing themselves.  I wish I were as brave as she is. 


Monday, April 17, 2017

Spanking post puts someone in the hot seat...

Yesterday was an interesting day.  Originally, Bill and I had tentative plans to go somewhere, but the weather was so cold, dreary, and rainy that we stayed home.  I did laundry and Bill did some preliminary job hunting and reaching out to contacts who might be able to help him secure employment.  Then he brewed another batch of beer.

While I was hanging out on Facebook, I noticed someone in the local group posted a rather cryptic message about corporal punishment.


Technically, it's illegal to spank your children in Germany, although many people, including Germans, still do it.

I correctly assumed the person who wrote this post had come across someone disciplining their child in the ladies room.  It's very common, especially in military circles, for people to take their kids into a public bathroom and give them what for.  Sometimes, that includes giving them spankings.  The thread absolutely blew up and soon got very contentious... another correct prediction I made when I saw it posted.

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably already know that I don't like spanking as a discipline method.  You may also know why I don't like it.  Although I survived a childhood that included a father who used spanking as his "go to" punishment, it left me with a lot of residual anger, depression, and a poor self-worth.

My father was absolutely terrifying when he was enraged.  His face would turn beet red.  Veins would pop out.  He would lose all sense of himself.  Unfortunately, he didn't always have self-control and would lash out physically.  Usually, that meant he would turn me over his knee and knock the daylights out of me until I was a blubbering mess.  On more than one occasion, he grabbed me by the throat, smacked me in the head, slapped me hard across the face, or otherwise used physical means to make a point.  He continued this kind of "punishment" method until I was well beyond the age when spankings are still appropriate (not that his version of spanking was EVER appropriate).

My father called this kind of discipline "spanking".  When I have described it to other people, especially those who condone spanking, they have said "But that's not spanking.  That's abuse."  And there's the rub.  What you call "abuse", my father called "spanking".  A lot of people are perfectly fine with "spanking", although everyone does it differently.  One parent's version of spanking is a firm swat or two on the ass.  Another parent's version of spanking is grabbing the kid, turning them over a knee, and beating the shit out of them.  Even though the methods vary, many people seem to think that kids can't grow up properly without having a good licking every now and again.

I don't think spanking should necessarily be illegal.  Some kids do respond to it and it has no long term effects on their psyches.  I also think it would be a hard rule to enforce.  Even though spanking is illegal in Germany, people still use it as a discipline method.  Most people, I hope, aren't drunk or out of control with rage when they discipline their children.  It's just that it disturbs me to see how few adults stop and think about the damage that might result after they put their hands on their child in anger.  Moreover, a lot of the people who support spanking kids would never support the idea of domestic discipline, which is where one spouse (usually the husband) spanks the other spouse, much like a child would be disciplined.  They would consider that "domestic violence".

My dad was basically a good man who had a lot of excellent qualities.  He was an alcoholic, though, and lacked impulse control.  I was on the receiving end of a lot of his abuse.  When I was growing up, kids basically sucked it up when their parents were jerks.  I tolerated a much larger person grabbing me while he was angry and hitting me with all of his might.  I listened to him call me "retarded", "fat", "stupid", "lazy", and "crazy".  He called me "bitchy" and referred to me as a "hog".  When he was mad at me, he would unleash verbal abuse or strike me.  When I expressed interest in something, his response was usually either to belittle it or try to compete with me (which is one reason I didn't really explore music until I was 18... and even then, he tried to compete).

When my dad died, my sisters were appropriately sad.  I was also sad, but not as sad as they were.  I wasn't interested in helping them scatter his ashes at his beloved alma mater.  Even today, when I think about some of the times he made me cry or publicly humiliated me, it makes me angry.  Tell me, if I still have these feelings over twenty years since he last hit me, can you honestly say spanking wasn't harmful?

But, you say, "that wasn't spanking; that was beating?"  Maybe so.  But he called it spanking and, in his mind, it was perfectly fine.  And he was perfectly justified in continuing to use his hands to get his point across until I was a grown woman.  My point is that there is a fine line between appropriate corporal punishment and physical abuse.  Some parents are not able to control themselves and they absolutely should be called out on it.  You can't tell people in the military community that, though.  A lot of them get very defensive if someone criticizes corporal punishment, even in the friendly way the person on Facebook did.  Even I, as someone who was negatively affected by spanking, am denied an opinion because I don't have kids.  I do, however, have personal experience with a parent who used corporal punishment.  That should count for something.

I always wanted kids, but I think I'm glad I don't.  I think parenting is very hard.  So is growing up.  Today's world sucks anyway.   And now I'm depressed.

ETA:  Wow... I wrote about this same topic exactly a year ago.



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Murder vs. homicide

It's cold and cloudy this Easter morning.  We had tentative plans to go somewhere, but I'm not sure if we will.  It seems pretty yucky outside today.

Yesterday, I read about Arkansas's plan to execute eight men in rapid succession, starting tomorrow.  State officials wanted to execute all of these men in less than two week's time.  Fortunately, a federal judge has blocked the state's extraordinary mission to dispatch so many men on death row.

I don't really want to get into another lengthy discussion as to why I dislike the death penalty.  I have already done that too many times on this blog.  It's a polarizing issue and one that I couldn't say I never support, even though I'd like to see the death penalty abolished.  For example, I do believe that some criminals are dangerous enough that they should be executed simply in the name of public safety.  John Allen Muhammed was one such person, as was Timothy McVeigh.  However, most people on death row aren't like the Beltway Sniper or the Oklahoma City Bomber.  Thank heavens for that.

The lady who runs the Life Is Not Pickles and Hairspray Duggar page on Facebook posted about the plan before the federal judge blocked Arkansas from following through.  She wrote an impassioned comment about why she is against the death penalty and used the word "murder" to describe the state's plans to execute the prisoners.

I have Facebook friend who is a federal police officer.  He is much more conservative than I am and has no issues with the death penalty.  He commented that capital punishment is not the same as murder.  I didn't both to argue with him because, in a legal sense, he's probably correct.

According to dictionary.com, the legal definition of murder is the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law.  Of course, there are other uses for murder, including a surprising one that has nothing to do with killing or death.  Did you know that a flock of crows is sometimes referred to as a "murder"?  I sure didn't.

Based on my friend's comment, the specific definition we're looking for is the first one.  In order to commit murder, a person has to be acting unlawfully.  A person who is being executed by state or federal authorities is being killed lawfully.  In that sense, I can see why we can't really call capital punishment murder.  However, capital punishment is homicide.  The word homicide simply means the killing of one person by another.  Technically, the terms murder and homicide aren't really interchangeable, although people interchange them all the time.  A person who dies at the hands of the government is a victim of homicide, but not murder.

Anyway... I know next to nothing about about the eight men who were scheduled to die during Arkansas's execution spree before a federal judge intervened.  I do know that some of them have been in prison for a very long time.  I know that Arkansans are typically law and order people.  Bill spent his formative years in Arkansas-- Duggar and Walmart country, where Trump supporters abound.  It doesn't surprise me that the executions were to be carried out in a southern state.  There was a time when I agree with capital punishment wholeheartedly.  I was a lot younger then, and surrounded by conservative loved ones who were also law and order people.

And even though I am now not in favor of the death penalty, I can certainly understand why many people are fine with it.  For some reason, the older I get, the less hard hearted I am about some things.  It seems like American ideals are becoming at odds with my personal ideals about some issues.  The older I get, the stranger my homeland seems.  I don't see how decent people can rejoice in killing another person, even if that person is a criminal.  I understand the desire to avenge, but deep down, I still have a moral problem with executions.  I find them macabre and disturbing.

And yet... as my conservative friends like to point out, I am in favor of keeping abortion legal.  It actually really bugs me when people trot out my support for abortion rights as not being aligned with my opposition to capital punishment.  To me, abortion is a completely different situation.  A developing fetus has no concept of what life is.  No one I have ever met has remembered being in the womb.  There are situations where an abortion can mean the difference between life and death.  It's also something that only biological females can ever experience.

Capital punishment, on the other hand, involves someone who had an existence outside of the womb.  This is a person who has a concept of what life is.  Very few people in the world are all good or bad.  And even if a person on death row doesn't care about his or her life, there will be people who will be affected by their execution.    

It seems fitting that these eight men got a stay before Easter.  They'll probably still be executed, though.  Do they deserve to die?  A lot of people seem to think so.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sympathy for the devil in Provo...

"The court had no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man," Low said just moments before sentencing Keith Vallejo to prison for sexually abusing the two females. "But great men, sometimes do bad things," Low continued.

The above quote comes from an article I just read about a disturbing criminal case in Utah.  Fourth District Court Judge Thomas Low of Provo, Utah appeared to be visibly saddened as he sentenced former Latter-day Saint bishop Keith Vallejo to one-to-15 years in prison for second-degree felonies and a five-years-to-life term for object rape.

In February of this year, Vallejo, married with eight children, was convicted of sexually abusing two women who had stayed at his home in Provo in 2013 and 2014.  One of his victims, 23 year old Julia Kirby, is his sister-in-law.  Judge Low had some comforting words for Kirby, who was 19 years old when Vallejo abused her.

However, Low allowed Vallejo to spend time at home with his wife and children before finally ordering him to jail on March 30.  Vallejo was in jail until he was sentenced this week.  And then, right in front of Vallejo's victims, the judge offered bizarre sympathy for a man who sexually abused women in his home.  Judge Low referred to a rapist and molester as an "extraordinarily good man"... an extraordinarily good man who was convicted of sexually victimizing women while they slept in his home.  What is so "extraordinarily great" about a man who is capable of doing that?

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I'm not a fan of Mormonism.  And maybe if this had happened in a different place, religion wouldn't have mattered.  I don't pretend to know anything about Keith Vallejo, other than what I've read about this case.  However, the fact that he was a Mormon bishop in Provo tells me that he was probably well-regarded in his community until the allegations that he had committed sexual assault and rape came to light.  Low is apparently a graduate of BYU, which is located in Provo.  However, although most BYU students are LDS, it's unclear whether or not Judge Low is himself a Mormon.

I know many Mormons place much value and emphasis on community service and people who do good works.  I'm wondering if Judge Low thinks Vallejo is "great" because he served his church as a bishop and probably showed up for all the projects Mormons tend to do.  Does a person who "serves" and appears to be a law abiding, clean cut, church going man deserve accolades when he's being sentenced to prison after abusing women?  In my mind, that church going persona simply camouflages the monster within.    

It seems odd that Judge Low had so much compassion and regard for Vallejo, who was proven guilty of committing serious crimes against women, yet until very recently, women students at Brigham Young University could be expelled for being rape victims.  To its credit, last fall BYU changed its policy of investigating women for Honor Code violations if they report sexual assault.  While it's commendable when a judge recognizes that most human beings are capable of redemption, Judge Low's comments toward Vallejo-- specifically calling him an "extraordinarily good man" in front of Vallejo's victims-- is incredibly unprofessional and inappropriate.

I have not been to Utah, although I have heard that parts of it are stunning.  I know some parts of the state are more religious than others.  For instance, I would expect a different vibe in Salt Lake City than I would Provo.  Still, it seems like there's something weird in the water there.  People seem to have bizarre attitudes about sexual assault and rape.  I have seen several instances of men being excused for being sexually aggressive toward women, yet women are subjected to scorn and "investigations" if they dare to report sex crimes committed against them.

Just yesterday, I was reminded of another bizarre case in Utah that occurred in 2010.  In April 2010, 20 year old Stetson Hallam was a BYU student and home teacher who decided he would play a "prank" on a former female "friend".  Or, at least that's what he claimed happened.  As the story goes, Hallam told the woman that he had a gift for her and arranged to meet her in a laundry room.    

Hallam asked the woman to open a bin, reportedly large enough to accommodate a small person and with a lockable lid and handles.  When the woman opened the bin, Hallam attacked his "friend", using a stun gun to subdue her and trying unsuccessfully to handcuff her.  When he attempted to silence her cries with his hand, she bit his finger.  He got up and apologized, claiming it was an April Fool's joke.  She very correctly reported his actions to the authorities.

Later that year, Fourth District Judge Christine Johnson sentenced Hallam to prison after he pleaded guilty to kidnapping and obstruction of justice.  Judge Johnson, at least, recognized the seriousness of Hallam's crime.  Hallam's attorney asked for jail time and probation, explaining that Hallam had depression and was trying to get treatment and citing his lack of a prior criminal record.  But Judge Johnson wasn't inclined to cut Hallam any slack.  She said, "It doesn't sound to me like you're saying, 'I shouldn't have done this;' you're saying you should have done this in a different way," 

The following year, Hallam was denied parole.  However, based on a Facebook account that I found, it appears that Hallam is now out of the joint.  Looking at his photo and the fact that he has an unusual name, it's pretty clear that it's the same guy.  He has few Facebook friends and doesn't look like he could be a convicted felon.  Indeed, I found a blog post from a guy who claims he was Hallam's BYU roommate and seems to think the sentence was much too harsh.  Below is a quote from the former roommie's blog post circa 2011...

Yes, he was gentle. And so, while another well-publicised Provo victim had her virtue insulted and her face bashed in with a brick, Stetson’s victim walked away with a broken trust and a bruised arm. That was not the doing of a violent or deranged man.

I haven’t seen his victim at school lately; maybe she has graduated and gone on with her life, as he is unable to do.


Forgive me for being obtuse, but I have a hard time thinking a guy who uses handcuffs and a stun gun in an "April Fool's prank" is a gentle soul.  Maybe he has some kind of psychological and emotional problems that could explain this behavior that was evidently out of the ordinary.  And hopefully, since it looks like he's now back in society, Hallam is reformed.  But I still wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley.  Moreover, I'm sure his victim was extremely terrified and traumatized by the actions that led to her "broken trust and bruised arm".  

In a later post, Stetson's former roommate offers this comment...

I am sorry that I have nothing new on this topic. I ranted much in the last post, perhaps without sufficient appreciation of the strains placed on the legal system. The lady judge, wildly and fanatically feministic though she may be, probably tried her best given the conditions.

When a commenter calls him out for calling Judge Johnson a "lady judge", the blogger writes this:

Lady judge because she is a lady, and a judge, and that’s what those words mean (you’re welcome! Enjoy your stay in the English language.). Also, because lady judges are in the minority (the figure that pops up is 33% in the country), and this exceptionality invites specification. Also, above all, because my theory is that she gave a harsher sentence to a male in a gender-conflict case than I thought was warranted here. Maybe she fears male criminals. Maybe she hates them. Who knows? Anyway, she admitted that she could not comprehend his thinking, and if she thinks from inside a female bubble, she is properly viewed in terms of that bubble.

I don't know for certain, but this fellow is probably quite a bit younger than I am.  And yet he seems to think it's appropriate to refer to female judges as "lady judges" and has a bizarre sympathy for a man who violently attacked a woman.  Weird...  very, very weird.

I'm staying out of the Morridor.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter weekend... when all of Germany goes on holiday...

We have reached one of the biggest religious holidays of the year.  It's Easter weekend, and that means that today, Sunday, and Monday are holidays.  There will be no shopping today, although a lot of restaurants and museums will probably be open.  People will be staying home, which means that we're supposed to be quiet.  No lawn mowing is allowed and, if you're sharing walls with people, you probably shouldn't do laundry or vacuum... or hammer anything.  Germans can be very strict about noise control, which is one thing I like about living here.  On the other hand, I'm also glad that we have nice neighbors who don't raise hell or get really upset if you do.

I finally finished watching 7th Heaven, which is an extreme relief.  I moved on to Doc Martin, a quirky British show I got hooked on when we first moved here a couple of years ago.  It is set in Cornwall, a part of England I would love to visit someday, and is about a surgeon who developed a phobia of blood.  He's rude and dismissive, but an excellent physician, so the locals tolerate him.  And he's tormented by an unwanted dog who keeps trying to bond with him.

I'm feeling somewhat more hopeful today than I was a few days ago.  It looks like there may be some options for us come this summer...  and maybe we won't have to move or go into the poorhouse after all.  We'll see what happens.  I'm not going to jinx it by writing too much on my blogs.  Let's just say I'm trying to keep the faith and praying I don't end up having to whore myself.  Not that anyone would want to pay me for whoring.  I just enjoy tormenting Bill by suggesting the idea.

I'm still trying hard to finish a book I started reading about Donald Trump.  It was originally published in the early 90s, I think, and was recently put back in circulation since he became 45.  I'm sure back in the early days after this book was published, people were shocked by how it portrayed Mr. Trump.  Now that he's in office, it seems somewhat more believable, sad as that is.  I remember the days when I could breeze through a book quickly.  Unfortunately, those days seem to be gone, unless it happens to be an unusually readable book.  I blame the fact that I have an iPad and read a lot of stuff on it.  I get distracted by the Internet.

The sky is heavy with clouds today.  I know I should get dressed and walk the dogs.  I can't be bothered right now.  Actually, I've been kind of hoping for some rain.  I feel like staying in and making some music, not that anyone pays much attention to my musical pursuits.  It's good for the soul and makes me feel better about the world.  On the other hand, since it's a holiday, I'm probably not supposed to make music.

But... as the old Sting song goes, it's probably going to be a case of "Heavy Cloud, No Rain".


I relate to this song today.

*Sigh*...  well, we'll see what we end up doing this weekend.  Hopefully, we'll manage to do something fun, even if it is a holiday.