Friday, August 18, 2017

Good news from the vet!

Zane and I went in to get his bandage changed and we got the results of the pathology report.  The lump on the inside of his paw was chronic inflammation.  It was not a mast cell tumor, as I had feared.  I originally thought it was inflammation, but then it didn't go away and kept changing sizes.

I am so relieved... this gets the weekend off to a great start!

Monday afternoon, we get rid of the bandage and the stitches!


As is my habit, I started today by looking at Facebook's On This Day application.  I found some interesting goodies from the past, including a bunch of old photos.  Below is a picture of my grandparents.  They were my mom's parents.

I never knew Grandma Elliott.  She died when I was four years old.  We lived in England at the time, so I didn't attend her funeral.  I am her youngest grandchild of five.  I have three sisters and a female cousin from my mom's brother, who only had one child.  I haven't seen cousin Sue since my wedding day in 2002.

This is a very recent picture of  me.  I was trying on a gown I bought for our upcoming cruise.  The gown is pretty, but laden with beads and sequins that fall off every time it gets moved from its hanger.  I doubt I'll wear it more than a couple of times.

When I was growing up, I used to hear all the time about how much I resembled Grandma Elliott.  My mom would go as far as saying that if I didn't look so much like her, she'd swear she picked up the wrong baby from the hospital.  I think that's because I mainly got my personality from my dad's side of the family.

I don't know a whole lot about Grandma Elliott, other than she had blue eyes, like me.  She also had dark hair, which I have never had.  That's partly because I colored my hair for years.  Right now, it's more or less natural because I quit coloring last fall.  I was born blonde and went darker and now I seem to be back to blonde, which suits me fine.  I must have gotten my hair from my maternal grandfather.  I inherited my grandmother's bone structure and her nose... and perhaps her penchant for being crabby.

Grandma Elliott's first name was Adice.  I've never known anyone else with that name.  Maybe if I'd had a daughter, I would have named her that.  I was given Grandma's middle name of Leighton.  I always hated that name when I was a child, but I've grown to appreciate it now.  It's unusual and kind of elegant.  My mom gave all four of her daughters traditional and formal names with a somewhat regal ring to them.  All of us, except for one, go by nicknames.

I was told Adice worked in a dress shop and had a wonderful flair for fashion.  She was noted for being really pretty and people even used to call her "Pretty" as a nickname.  She was great at crochet. I even have a blanket she made.  My mom is also really good at all things involving sewing, needlepoint, cross stitch, and knitting, although she never learned to crochet.  I suck at sewing and needle crafts.  However, I did inherit my mom's musical genes.

I did some basic genealogy last year and determined that my grandmother is related to a large family in Lynchburg, Virginia.  She grew up in Amherst, which isn't too far from Lynchburg.  When she married my grandfather, they moved to Buena Vista, Virginia, which is where my mom was born and grew up.  It's now become a Mormon mecca, thanks to LDS folks buying Southern Seminary and turning it into the University of Southern Virginia.  My mom graduated from Southern Seminary.

All of this comes up just after Bill and I submitted DNA samples to 23andme.  I told my mom about doing that and she was very interested.  I look forward to finding out what my heritage is based on the test results.  I'm guessing, based on what I've found so far, I'm mostly of British and German origins, although I won't be surprised if there's Native American in there too.  My dad's side of the family is rather dark...  dark hair, dark eyes, and some members have rather dark skin or a lot of freckles.  I definitely favor my mom's side of the family, which is decidedly Celtic looking.

The majority of people on both sides of my family seem to have been in Virginia for a very long time, so I don't have the connection to other parts of the world that some people do.  I will say, however, that I feel very much at home in Britain and Germany.  England is astonishingly familiar to me.  The part where my very first memories come from looks just like where I grew up in Virginia.

As I write this, it occurs to me how fast time flies and how it seems like just yesterday, I was a child.  Now I'm middle aged.  I guess, if I'm going to make a point to anyone, it's that you should try to enjoy your life as much as possible because time passes fleetingly.  Before you know it, you'll be solidly entrenched in the middle of your life.  I look at mine and wondered if it's going to mean anything to anyone, especially since I "broke the mold" and won't be passing on any descendants...  But then, given how very fucked up the world is today, maybe that's a blessing.     

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Confederate purge...

Last night, I came across an article shared by the Army Times about the ten Army posts named after Confederate generals.  The author, name of Meghann Myers, wanted to know if the Army should rename them.  So far, the people who have answered her poll overwhelmingly seem to think the names should stay the same because, like it or not, the Confederate generals are a part of military history.

Although the anti-Confederate movement has been going on for some time now, it's reached a fever pitch in the last week as people are still reeling from the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The city of Baltimore removed a bunch of Confederate monuments in the wee hours of the morning the other day.

In the past, I've had the opinion that people put way too much stock in symbols and words.  I still kind of feel that way.  I think it's much easier to ban symbols and words and stamp out things like statues and building names than it is to actually evolve.  It takes more time and effort to change people's hearts, attitudes, and minds than it does to rename buildings and tear down memorials.  But, like it or not, that's what a lot of people focus on.

A couple of friends decided to discuss this issue with me.  One friend determined that it was better for the Army to rename the ten posts named after Confederates.  My opinion is that the money spent on making new signs, changing stationery, and everything else that comes with renaming a venue would be better spent helping people get their basic needs met.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think someone who doesn't have food, shelter, or medical care would much rather have those immediate needs attended to than see money spent on long established Army posts getting new, politically correct names.

My friend was surprisingly tenacious about sharing his opinion with me, which is fine.  But even if we did change the names of those posts, I wonder how many regular Americans even know who General Bragg was?  And how many of them, in their heart of hearts, actually care?  Many people are just trying to survive.  If you're trying to survive, do you really give a shit if Fort Bragg is named after a Confederate general?

It would be nice if we could just wave a wand and everyone would stop instantly being racist.  It takes time for attitudes and opinions to evolve.  In the grand scheme of things, I think the names of Army posts are kind of low on the totem pole.  Also, people who are actually in the military tend to think these name changing measures are silly.  Folks in the military tend to be a pragmatic lot.  They see civilians as "snowflakes".  I'm not saying that's right; I'm saying that's kind of the way things are.  I can't get onboard with killing a bunch of trees to make new stationery when we have so many veterans who can't even get decent medical care from the Veteran's Administration.

Maybe I'm naive... and maybe because I'm a white woman, I have no right to express this opinion...  I just think we have much bigger fish to fry than changing the names of Army posts.  At least that's how I feel today.  Maybe my mind will change later.  That is, if we don't end up being nuked by the North Koreans.

I like what Weird Al sings about the North Koreans...
On another note, people in the tiny hamlet of Fucking, Austria wanted to change the name of where they live because so many cheeky English speakers were stealing their road signs and having sex in public. Austrian officials refused to allow the name change.  Even if they had changed it, it would have taken time before the fucking would stop.  I imagine the same would be the case for Army posts.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

After yesterday's cheery post...

Today I'm feeling a bit less positive.  Here's how my day went before 7:00am.  I think today may be one of those days when I start drinking at lunchtime...

I woke up at midnight, needing to pee. Came back to the bed, found a couple of Arran's turds that came out while he was sleeping next to Bill.  Cleaned that up.  Couldn't get back to sleep because Aunt Flow is in full force.  Had to keep getting up to go to the bathroom.

A couple of hours later, I heard Zane whining.  He's started limping on the leg that he had surgery on last week.  Just 24 hours ago, he was moving almost fine.  At that point, Arran decided to go sleep on the futon and Zane jumped up on the bed and curls up at my feet. I spent the rest of the night sleeping fitfully.

I got up at 5:00am to go to the bathroom again. I noticed my breath could knock a buzzard off a shitwagon, so I brushed my teeth while Bill was shaving.  We only have one sink, so we have to share.  The toothpaste was on my tongue a little too long, which made me feel like puking.  It ends up being a false alarm.

I went downstairs.  Arran came down behind me and threw up bile.  I managed to get him off my rug before he puked on it.  I cleaned it up.  Then I felt the need to puke, which I did violently for several minutes, even though I had nothing in my stomach. Now I have petechiae around my eyes.

Zane came downstairs, still limping. I have to take him to the vet at 9:00 for a bandage change. I hope his pathology report isn't ready yet because I don't even want to know today. The way things are going, it'll probably be horrible news.

Then I noticed the corner of the indoor welcome mat is wet. Apparently, Arran peed on it during the night. So I cleaned that up... and then opened Facebook to read a bunch of self-righteous rants that run the gamut from everything to redneck chastising about not supporting Cheeto to all the reasons why white people suck.  It's not even 7:00am yet.

Edited to add... It's now almost 9:50.  I took Zane in and got his bandage changed.  The surgical wound is kind of gross looking.  The hair around it is all grimy.  The vet soaked Zane's foot in Betadine solution and wrapped it up again.  She gave me more Rimadyl.  I have a feeling the bandage has made Zane have to walk funny, which may be causing tendonitis.  The vet didn't seem to understand my theory.  I explained that Zane has done this limping thing before.  We took him to an emergency vet and she diagnosed tendonitis.  My guess is that the padding on his foot is making him hold it in an awkward way which is causing soreness.  He seems to walk normally after a few minutes of limping.

I'm really hoping I don't end up regretting the surgery on his paw.  You never know with mast cell tumors.  I have a feeling that's what that bump was.  But on Monday next week, he gets his stitches out.  At least the wound on his hind leg is healing well.

On the positive side, vet care in Germany is cheap.  For both dentals, an extraction, two tumor removals, medications, lab work, and a few dressing changes, we owe about 825 euros.  That's a lot less than we'd pay for the same thing in the U.S.A.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

LDS former teacher is convicted of having sex parties with boys...

Time now for another post about creepy Mormons.  I first read about former missionary and high school English teacher, Jared Anderson, a few days ago when a news article about him showed up on my Facebook feed.  Mr. Anderson, who is 29 years old and reasonably handsome, was just sentenced to ten years in prison for having sex parties with boys.

As I was reading about his case, it dawned on me that I know exactly where Anderson taught school. He was employed at Judson High School, which is located in Converse, Texas.  It was within walking distance of where Bill and I lived in Texas.  Evidently, Mr. Anderson was named "Teacher of the Year" before he was outed as a pervert.  Judson High School is also apparently a place where there have been several problem teachers.

According to the news article I read, Anderson did not molest any of his students.  Instead, he invited boys from his church group to his home, where he hosted what he called "bro's night".  The boys, all of whom were members of Mr. Anderson's church, were greeted with a sign that read "The last one to strip naked gets the first dare."  Anderson's lewd activities included at least ten boys ranging between 15 and 17 years old.  Apparently, the boys also sent pictures of their genitals to each other.  

A couple of the boys later told church authorities about what was happening at Mr. Anderson's house.  Much to the credit of the church officials, they contacted child protective services.  Mr. Anderson was arrested and, after plea bargaining, was convicted of four counts of sexual performance by a child and two counts of indecency with a child by exposure.  Incredibly enough, he requested a form of probation.  Judge Steven C. Hillbig was disinclined to go easier on Anderson and sentenced him to ten years and fined him $9,000.  Were it not for the plea bargain, Anderson could have gotten up to twenty years in prison.

It's hard to fathom how this man thought he could get away with these activities.  I will never understand the drive that leads people to take these risks.  Honestly... do they not realize they will eventually be caught?  Maybe that's what they hope for... to be caught and sent away so they can't continue to engage in deviant behavior.

I have read a few articles about Jared Anderson and seen his picture a few times.  In each of the pictures I've seen, he looks deeply trouble.  In more than one shot, he looks as if he's about to burst into tears. 

I noticed that church official Ian Vassiloras is quoted as saying Anderson is "human" and “There might be some little tidbits popping up, but it will never lead him down this path again.”  I'm not sure exactly what this is supposed to mean.  Does Vassiloras not think that Anderson will engage in this behavior again once he's out of prison?  Unfortunately, statistics are not on Anderson's side.  

Some time ago, I wrote about a guy I knew in college who was caught with child pornography.  He was sent to prison and released early.  It didn't take long before Gregg Baird was up to his old tricks.  After his release, he was caught with more child pornography and was sent back to prison.  I'm not saying that sex offenders cannot be reformed.  Some of them can be.  However, it's not one of the easier behaviors to correct.

Mr. Anderson is (or was) married and the father of two sons.  On a Mormon blog called "My Mormon Two Cents", he wrote this...

I am Mormon. It has made me who I am. I served my mission in the Utah Ogden Mission. It was amazing. I love my family. My mom is rad. I’m married to an amazingly beautiful woman. My son is adorable and fills a hole in my heart that I didn’t know was there. I believe in retail therapy. Laughing is fun. You should try it sometime. I graduated from BYU-Idaho in English Education. I think correct grammar is impressive. Books are my addiction. I want my own library someday, so I’m preparing for that room now by collecting myriad books. I love to sing. Green is my favorite color. I’m a Church history buff. I love trivia. I should be on Jeopardy. But seriously, my Church drives me to do what I do. It liberates me. I wouldn’t be anywhere near the man I am today without it. You should ask me about it. Is that enough info?

Interestingly enough, being Mormon wasn't enough to stop him from being a pervert and ending up in prison.  I find Jared Anderson's story very sad on many levels.  I hope he is able to reform, but I have my doubts.  And now, those two boys of his are going to be without their father and a promising career in education is ruined.

Let your love flow... all over the goddamn place!

Today's post is brought to you by The Bellamy Brothers...

As the world is rocked by news of North Korea's plans to nuke Guam, racist protests in Charlottesville, and anything Donald Trump tweets, I feel the need to watch YouTube videos and remember when I was young... and music was still good.  The 70s was an especially good time for music.  You could hear anything on the radio...  an Eagles song followed up Joe Tex... a Chic song followed by Led Zeppelin.  I was a kid back then, so life was relatively fun.  Until, of course, I did something that got me in trouble, which happened all too frequently.

I'm sure there was hatred and violence and all kinds of racist shit that happened in the 70s.  What we didn't have back then was constant news and social media.  We also didn't have as many people speaking out so publicly.  Nowadays, it seems like everyone has a platform.

I just feel like making a feel good post.  There's not enough of that right now.  Too many people are focused on how scary things are.  One thing I do that makes me feel better is listen to good music, even if some of it is really cheesy.  

Okay... so this one is from the 60s.  But the lyrics are still very relevant.

Instead of focusing on how sad and full of hatred some people are, I could focus on something good.  Like the fact that Mr. Zane seems to be full of pluck and sass, despite the bandage on his leg that's cramping his style.  And the sun is shining and we have pleasant temperatures in Germany.  A month from now, if all goes according to plan, we'll be on a ship enjoying the fruits of Bill's labor in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Maybe today would be a good day to turn off the news and just reflect.  It would be a good day not to see Donald Trump's face... and his mouth, which always reminds me of a toilet.

Supposedly, these urinals are in Paris.  Perhaps it's time to visit there again.

There's a lot going right in the world.  Jinger Duggar isn't pregnant and is even wearing pants.  That's pretty goddamn awesome, even if her husband is still preaching nonsense about Catholics.  And... people are making penis shaped cakes, which is certainly something to smile about!  A Facebook friend of mine is getting married and she shared that picture, which naturally I had to do, too.  I'm not sure, but I think I upset someone when I shared it.  Either that, or one of my Republican friends got tired of me.  Who knows...  But either way, I'd enjoy that cake.

I'll probably be back later to blog about a shitty LDS dude I just read about.  For now, I need to take Zane and Arran to the Robidog, so they can do their business.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Play stupid games; win stupid prizes...

This morning, as I was recovering from being rudely awakened by Zane whining to get into bed with us and then stabbing my inner thigh with his toenails, I read an article shared on Facebook about the poor dude who has become the new poster child for the alt-right movement.  20 year old Peter Cvjetanovic, a college student from Reno, Nevada, was in Charlottesville this past Saturday, shouting and carrying a tiki torch.  His face went viral and now he's coping with the ramifications of being labeled a racist.

Mr. Cvjetanovic studies history and political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.  At age 20, he evidently thinks his "white heritage" is being threatened and that's apparently why he decided he needed to go to Charlottesville and participate in the "White Nationalist" march.  He claims that he cares for all people, but somehow the removal of a Robert E. Lee memorial in Charlottesville will eventually lead to the erosion of whatever heritage white people have.


I remember being twenty.  Technically, a twenty year old is an adult.  I remember what twenty year olds were like when I was that age.  It sounds to me like Mr. Cvjetanovic is very naive, immature, and needs to study more history.  We were fortunate in my day because we didn't have Facebook or any other social media.  When we did stupid shit like this-- although this is pretty epicly stupid, even for a twenty year old man-- it was a pretty safe bet that it would eventually and fairly quickly blow over.  Yes, people took pictures back in those days, but you had to wait until the film was developed before you could see them.  Sometimes that would take weeks.  At an event like the one in Charlottesville, I would imagine this dude's face would end up in a newspaper, but not everyone read the newspaper back in those days.

Of course, Mr. Cvjetanovic grew up in the Internet age.  Perhaps his family may have been recent immigrants to the United States, with a last name like his.  My guess is that they came from somewhere in Eastern Europe.  My guess (hope, really) is that he fell in with the wrong crowd and they convinced him that he needed to stand up for his "white rights".  It's incredibly misguided thinking.  I don't know how many southern redneck types are living in Reno, but I have a feeling he came nose to nose with them in Charlottesville.  I wonder if he identified with them in their hodgepodge of military regalia decorated with American and Confederate battle flags and KKK symbols.  I wonder if he really wants to associate with them... trade in that white polo shirt and khaki ensemble he's wearing for a white sheet and a hood.

What in the world made this guy think it was a good idea to come to Virginia and participate in this nonsense?  Did he think to himself, "I'm gonna go to Virginia for the weekend and raise some hell!  It's gonna be awesome, dude.  We're gonna make history!"  Did it ever occur to him that things could turn violent and pictures would be taken and shared?  Clearly not, since he now regrets being the poster child for white supremacists.  While this incident will eventually blow over-- especially since it looks like another rally is being planned for Richmond-- that epic picture will always be around.  My guess is that Mr. Cvjetanovic will regret his actions for some time to come... maybe even for the rest of his life.

In the short term, Mr. Cvjetanovic will have to deal with the ugly aftermath of opening his big trap on camera (which he literally did).  There will probably be repercussions for some time.  He may lose his job or his spot in college.  Maybe he'll lose friends.  Hopefully, he'll gain much needed perspective and a clue and not let this ruin his life.  But first, he needs to realize that white people have been in charge for a very long time in the United States.  And the United States didn't even belong to white people to begin with; they came in and took the land from Native Americans.  They did the same thing around the world, especially notably in Australia and Africa.

I don't think a person should feel ashamed of their race.  No one can help being who they are.  Race is not something that can be changed.  Some of these men who were marching may have felt that too many people were dumping on them because they happen to be white.  And, of course, that's not right.  But white people don't need to preserve their heritage.  White heritage has been at the forefront for a very long time.  And even if it hadn't been, it's crazy that people were hurt and killed in the name of "preserving white heritage".

If he's smart, Mr. Cvjetanovic will learn from this incident.  Maybe he'll even tell his own children about it.

The above video is worth a view.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stupid white men...

I woke up this morning to the news about Charlottesville.  I learned about how one woman and two state troopers died and nineteen people were injured, all over a bunch of stupid white men protesting over Confederate memorials in Charlottesville.  As some readers might know, I was born and raised in Virginia and Charlottesville has always been regarded as a place of grace and decorum.  It's where the University of Virginia is, a very prestigious university founded by Thomas Jefferson.  Yesterday, it was descended upon by a bunch of ignorant fucks...

I've been reading the news this morning and looking at pictures of the devastation.  There are pictures of the people who were injured over this nonsense and pictures of stupid white men carrying torches and wearing pseudo military gear.  I cannot believe it's 2017 and this shit is happening.

Bill thinks these guys feel like their country has been "taken" from them.  He thinks they feel alienated over liberal ideas and tolerance toward people who aren't white, as well as shaming toward people for being of European descent.  There may be some truth to that.  I grew up surrounded by people who feel this way.  I have family members who are very conservative and have expressed intolerance toward brown people.  I'm ashamed to say that when I was a lot younger, I probably felt and expressed those ideas myself.

I feel like I changed when I left the South and started mingling with people who aren't like me.  It really seemed to start when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Seriously, I was the only one in my group who was born and raised southern.  It's not the kind of thing southerners tend to do...  or at least not as much as people from other (more liberal) parts of the country.  Maybe that's changed in the past twenty years.

When I started to hang around people who were different, my perspective changed and, I believe, my mind broadened.  Now, if I try to express my changed views to my loved ones, they think I'm a liberal "nutjob".  They think that stupid Confederate memorials and the concept of "white pride" are worth killing and dying for.

It breaks my heart that my home state is where this racist and hate inspired bullshit happened yesterday.  It makes me glad I live in Germany, a country that has already dealt with this stupidity and learned from it.  Way too many Americans have their heads up their asses.

In other news...
Zane is feeling pretty good this morning.  He was begging for a walk, so Bill took him down to the Robidog (poop receptacle) at the start of our usual route.  He was sniffing and galloping, acting as if he wanted to go much further.  I think that walk was a real morale booster for him.

He seems to be healing nicely.  I dread finding out what that bump was we had removed, but I think Zane will be right as rain in a couple more days.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Surprising how many people think this is funny...

This is what happens when you "been caught stealing..."

A little mood music for this post.

Last night, just as I was about to go to bed, I noticed that one of my cousins "liked" a news story.  This particular cousin, while quite politically conservative about a lot of issues, is generally pretty cool and doesn't get into ridiculous debates with me over politics.  For that, I am extremely grateful.  However, I am kind of troubled that he and so many other Americans think it's funny that three guys in Charlotte, North Carolina decided to string up a would be thief they caught trying to raid their truck.

In the video, you see a young black guy wearing what looks to be Army ACU pants.  Two other black guys and a guy who appears to be of Hispanic origins have the young guy in hand as they tied and taped him to scaffolding.  An onlooker taped the whole scene and sent it to Fox News, where the video quickly went viral.

First off, don't get me wrong.  Of course the thief should have been stopped from committing the crime.  Theft is a crime and tools are very expensive.  I don't even have a problem that the three construction workers detained the guy, who was later arrested, as he definitely should have been.  My problem is that those guys were behaving in a way that wasn't a whole lot better.

Was it really necessary to tie the guy up in a way that was both publicly humiliating and probably very painful?  I see one of the guys is hyperextending the would be crook's arm in a way that I'm sure caused pain.  Looking at the post my cousin liked, I see that a lot of people think this video is funny.  They think the crook got exactly what he deserved.  It does appear that the crook wasn't actually hurt in the incident.  However, what if he had been hurt?  What if it was three white guys tying up the same dude in a way that was humiliating and painful?  How many people would think that was funny?  What if the same three guys in the video were treating a woman that way?  What if someone did that to an animal?

As I was watching that video last night, I had an immediate and visceral reaction to it.  I couldn't understand exactly why it made me so uncomfortable at first.  I know there was a time when I was younger that I would have laughed right along with my cousin.  But somehow, I have changed in the past twenty years.  I think the video reminded me, on some level, of humans watching dogs fight each other.

This may sound strange, and some people may not see it, but I was reminded of living in Armenia and watching teenaged boys circling around dogs who were either fighting or fucking.  It was a sport for them to watch the barbarity.  Those boys saw themselves as higher beings than the dogs.  They enjoyed watching them in action.  And...  I guess I just got the same sense when I looked at the comments about this incident in Charlotte.  A whole lot of people thought this video was very funny.  What is funny about a man being caught committing a crime and then being tied up in a cruel way?  What's funny about three hardworking construction workers potentially losing the instruments of their livelihood to someone who apparently feels compelled to steal?  What's funny about the legal system taking on yet one more case?

I am not a fan of double standards.  While I agree that the construction workers had the right to take action, I think it's a shame that they did so in such an uncivilized and barbaric way.  I think it's more of a shame that it ended up going viral on Fox News.  While the workers claim they saw the guy raiding the truck and-- let's face it-- he probably did, that hasn't been proven in a court of law.  But now this dude's face is all over the Internet.  Some would argue that if he didn't want the notoriety, he shouldn't have been trying to break into the truck.  But the vast majority of people looking at the video were not on the scene and don't know what actually happened.  All they've seen in a video with three construction workers tying up and taping a guy to scaffolding.

While the video itself made me cringe, what was even worse were the ignorant comments people left on the Facebook post.  When a few people objected to the way the would be thief was being treated, there was a torrent of comments from people who were quick to fire back with a torrent of support for the vigilanteism.  Below are a few choice comments left for one guy who said the scene reminded him of "slavery" and said the workers didn't have to torture the guy.

If this was slavery, then he wouldn't be stealing in the first place because his racist master would keep him fed and clothed, this ain't slavery, he is a slave to himself, a slave to his actions, he chose to comity a crime and steal from someone else and that someone else took action, ain't nobody whipping him telling him to pick cotton and he has jordans for fucks sakes? Most slaves wore fucked up shoes.

Nigga shut yo ass up! Slavery? Fucking punk was trying to steal and they caught him so they tied him up. How is this like slavery?! Stay in school and eat your vegetables so you can build that fucking brain of yours dumbass

One guy tried to agree with the poster who objected and wrote this...

Wow! I thought the same thing but I guess I'll keep my opinion to myself....not! The act of using ropes to tie him to something reminded me of a lynching. THAT'S ALL! No, they didn't choke, hurt or kill him. Yes, he should suffer the consequences of being a fuckin thief.  The image of someone being tied up like that remind me of slavery type shit too.

So it's slavery even when the black brother in the construction crew is keeping him contained while the Mexican is tying up the dumb fuck. Yeh dude your brilliant bruh. Maybe u should join in dipshit

...exactly what's wrong with society nowdays always feeling bad for the criminal screw all that don't be so harsh on the criminal crap he's lucky they didn't beat his punk ass.we need harsher penalties for criminals

I could add a lot more comments to this because there are literally thousands of them.  The vast majority come from people who apparently have no compassion for other human beings.  Either that, or they simply enjoy watching someone being brutalized and publicly humiliated.  Maybe I'm wrong to think this, but it seems to me that the guys who decided to tie up and tape the perpetrator in this way are not any better than the alleged thief.  They aren't people I'd want to know.  

Maybe this makes me a bleeding heart, but I don't support cruelty or barbarism.  I found that video pretty sickening and the comments that followed it even more so.  

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pupdate... and an infuriating article I read about LDS leadership this morning...

Zane in all his gimpy glory...

We were at the vet's office for about two hours yesterday.  Arran got his teeth cleaned without incident.  Zane had two growths removed, one of which was a simple lipoma on his right hind leg.  He had a tiny growth removed on his right foreleg, too.  It was right by his dew claw.  I don't know for certain, but I have a feeling it was a mast cell tumor.  Because Zane's ALP liver enzymes were off on the blood test he got last week, the vet did an ultrasound on his liver, which was normal.  Then he had a dental and the vet removed a loose tooth.  I have to take Zane back to have his bandage changed today.

The vet sent us home with a bag of foul smelling treats that are supposed to help cleanse the liver. In a month, we'll do another blood test.  I have a feeling he'll be alright with some liver supporting meds.  He has no indications of liver disease... no diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, jaundice or bloated belly.  She also sent us home with one pain relief tablet and a product called Vomex, which is a suppository that is supposed to stop vomiting.  Fortunately, Zane didn't need the Vomex, because that would have required me to insert the suppository in his ass.  

I was pretty surprised by how perky Zane was once he was totally awake.  This morning, he jumped off the bed by himself, although Bill helped him with the stairs.  He gobbled down his food, too.  Now he's taking a rest on the bed pictured above.  I think he's going to bounce back quickly from this.  I just hope he doesn't end up with more tumors.  That's why I'm giving him extra Benadryl.  It's hard to believe removing that tiny bump on his paw required such a large bandage.  But it's mostly to keep him from chewing on the stitches.  The vet also put Japanese mint oil on the bandage.  Supposedly, it doesn't smell good to dogs and discourages them from chewing and licking.  The stitches on his hind leg already look pretty good and he's not been bothering them.  

Moving on...

This morning, I read an article about leaked minutes from a Priesthood Leadership Conference that took place in Layton, Utah back in February 2014.  The meeting, which included members of the LDS church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addressed a number of issues, including how church leaders should handle homosexuals.  Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Twelve, was asked “How do you help a young man or young woman who comes in and says ’I think I’m gay’?”  Perry's response was “Give them association with manly things... Strong men that represent the ideal of relationships, a man who is vigorous and knows the power he holds.”

In other words, according to Perry, the reason there are gay people in the LDS church is that they haven't been exposed to enough "things" that represent their gender.  There's a lot wrong with this assumption, of course.  I have known quite a few gay men who were very masculine and fully identified with all things "manly" except heterosexual relationships.  I never would have guessed they were gay.  In fact, I have a cousin who is gay and served as an officer in the Marine Corps for years.  Most of us were none the wiser until he left the Marines and came out to the family.  I have also known a lot of feminine lesbians who simply preferred women to men, but were as womanly as women come.  Their homosexuality had nothing to do with their gender identity.

Aside from the incredible ignorance of the stupid "manly things" comment, I had to laugh when I read the article linked above, since one concern the LDS leaders had was that giving LGBT people marriage equality will "divide the nation".  They seem to have the attitude that if you give homosexuals an inch, they'll take a mile.  Let them get a foothold in politics and they'll force their "icky gayness" on everyone.  Do Mormons not realize that they do the same fucking thing every time they move en masse into a town and get involved in politics?  

Take a look at Utah, a place that was previously predominantly inhabited by Native Americans.  How many laws there are in place because they were inspired by the predominantly Mormon population in that state?  Take a look at my mother's hometown of Buena Vista, Virginia.  Until about twenty years ago, that city was very protestant and full of native Virginians with Scots-Irish ancestry.  Since the evolution of Southern Virginia University, which is not LDS church owned but is run by Mormons, Buena Vista and the surrounding communities are becoming a lot more Mormon friendly, which encourages more to move there and vote accordingly.  With the influx of Mormons, especially those who get into politics, comes a change in culture.  Granted... the cultural change is not all bad.  But it is a change.  The men in this leadership conference don't like the idea of homosexuals "taking a mile" by getting into politics and inspiring laws that protect or promote their interests.  But they fail to see that other people may not like it when Mormons "take a mile", either, especially when they come up with church inspired laws that are forced on people who aren't church members.

I suppose it makes sense for politicians to vote for issues that affect them and their constituents.  So a member of the LDS faith who faithfully adheres to the religion is probably going to support laws that control things like liquor sales, Sunday business hours, and morality.  Does it not make sense that a homosexual who serves in a political office would support LGBT issues?  And don't they, as fellow citizens, have that right?

I have written many times on this blog that I do think religion matters in a political candidate.  I think those who implore people to ignore a candidate's religious preferences are naive.  It's a nice idea to be extremely open-minded about religion.  I do agree that it makes sense to look at a candidate as a whole, because not all people of faith (regardless of the faith) are unreasonable zealots.  However, I think it's a bad idea to ignore religion and not take it into account.  Many people who complain about religious persecution would never dream of voting for a Muslim or an atheist... or a homosexual.  Anyway, if you want to read the full document that inspired the article I shared, here's a link.      

I suspect our weekend will be low key.  Zane will have another bandage change on Monday.  Hopefully, he'll heal quickly so he can get back to loving his walks.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Am I the only one who hates this?

I hate these damn things...

Yesterday, I saw this posted on my Facebook timeline and it made me cringe for several reasons.  First off, I fucking hate it when people use letters or numbers in place of words.  Call me a relic if you must, but I don't like shorthand unless it's being used for a practical purpose.  I can see using it if you're texting, working as a court reporter or a secretary, or if you're taking notes in school.  There's no need to use it on a Facebook meme.

Secondly, I hate it when people try to tell me what to do.  This meme is written in an imperative style.  It's giving me directions.  Well, unless you're offering me a paycheck or sticking a gun in my face, I'm going to do whatever the fuck I please.  I think sharing this kind of thing is annoying and stupid.  Besides, what is the point of this?  It's a waste of time.

Thirdly, the tone of this meme is snarky and antagonistic.  "Watch, NO-ONE follows direction" seems snarky, especially coming from someone who apparently never completed a sixth grade English class.

And finally, there's a parting shot.  If I don't do this, I'm not "following directions".  Or, if I choose to respond in a way contrary to what is written on this poorly articulated meme, I'm not following directions.  Actually, I don't take directions from poorly written memes or the people who choose to litter my timeline with them.  I guess I can take heart that at least the person who created this didn't spell no one as "noone" or misspell "your".  But check out the semicolon abuse!  

I know... I sound uptight and stressed.  That's because I am uptight and stressed this morning.  My heart is almost in my throat anticipating the morning at the vet's office with Zane and Arran.  I will hopefully be a lot more relaxed in a few hours.

Today is vet day...

The boys missed their breakfast because I have to take them in for dentals.  Zane will have at least one growth removed (and probably two).  Then I will bring them home, feed them, and do my best to keep Zane from removing his stitches.

I hate this.  In the States, you bring your dogs in and they stay most of the day.  Here in Germany, I can drop them off, but I have to get them soon after they're finished because our vet doesn't have anywhere to keep them while they recover from the anesthetic.  I usually sit in a room with them while they get an IV and come around.  Hopefully, we'll be all done by noon.

It's going to be a weekend at home.  Fortunately, it looks like the weather is going to suck anyway.  I guess I'll just watch a bunch of movies and do laundry or something.

I'm sure when the pathology comes back on Zane's growths, I'll be hearing more about mast cell tumors.  I'm pretty sure at least one of the growths I want removed is a mast cell tumor.  I'm almost hesitant to have it removed because of where it is (on the inside of his paw, next to his dew claw).  Fortunately, it's in the skin and seems slightly less swollen today.  The other growth was tested last year and came back as a lipoma, but it's been growing steadily and it's on his hind leg.  I won't be surprised if it's also a mast cell tumor.

I love my dogs, but canine cancer sucks.  So far, mast cell cancer is not as bad as what my two previous dogs (Flea and MacGregor) had.  But it does still suck.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RIP Glen Campbell...

"I'm Gonna Love You" is probably my favorite song by the late Glen Campbell...  This particular arrangement isn't my favorite, though.  Let's see if I can find a less orchestrated one.

Yes, this is the version I love...

Glen Campbell died yesterday after fighting Alzheimer's disease for six years.  He was 81 years old, the same age my dad was when he died three years ago.  Glen Campbell's music often reminds me of my parents.  When I was little, he was all the rage.  My parents owned a few of his albums and would play them in the car when we took road trips.  Consequently, I grew up liking his music, even if he was a little before my generation.

Years after I stopped listening to Campbell on 8 track, I married Bill.  Bill happens to be a distant relative of Glen Campbell's on his mother's side, although they never knew each other.  Bill's mother's family is from Arkansas, which was where Campbell was born and he was the seventh of twelve children.  It's not hard to believe he was related to Bill.  Bill kind of resembles him, although he doesn't have musical talent to speak of.

The funny thing is, I was just talking to Bill about Glen Campbell the other day.  We were in the car and Campbell's duet with Leslie Satcher came up on my iPod.  We were talking about how talented he was and his connections to Bill's family.  I had read Campbell's life story, Rhinestone Cowboy, when I was in Armenia.  Someone had left the book in the U.S. Embassy library and I was desperate to read anything in English.  I actually enjoyed the book and learned a lot from it, even if Campbell did get a bit political (and his politics were much more conservative than mine are).  Despite his politics, I found his story fascinating and read it several times over two years abroad!

Glen Campbell at the top of his game...  Before he was a singer, he was a renowned guitar player.

As much as I loved Glen Campbell as a singer and guitar player, I especially enjoyed his talents on the bagpipes.  I made this video after noting that no one had uploaded the beautiful "Grafhaidh Me Thu" on YouTube (the melody for "I'm Gonna Love You").

After I read Campbell's story-- and that was years before I met Bill-- I became more interested in his music.  I remember watching his variety show on cable back when Bill and I first got married.  I think I may have been born about ten years later than I should have.  I love variety shows, especially the ones from back in the day when people were genuinely talented and didn't rely on gimmicks.

Here he is with Anne Murray on his Goodtime Hour, which aired before I was aware of life.

And with the lovely Linda Ronstadt...

A later video with Glen's daughter, Ashley, playing banjo...

Glen Campbell was also quite the emcee... check out how cool he is with a lit cigarette.

Glen Campbell led a long and colorful life.  He had his ups and downs... lots of children, lots of relationships, lots of controversies and dramas...  Through it all, he remained a true talent.  His music will always be part of the soundtrack of my life.  May he rest in peace.

A very poignant last song...

Well worth the read if you can find it...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I guess I'll never be a LuLaRoe ho...

Last night, while perusing the RfM Web site, I ran across a thread about the mega popular leggings MLM, LuLaRoe.  Although the military community, especially in Stuttgart, is rife with women involved in multi-level marketing businesses, I had not actually heard of LuLaRoe until maybe a year or so ago.  And that was probably only because I have a local friend who hates leggings and insists that they aren't "pants".  I think she shared this article about LuLaRoe and her frustration about constantly being added to Facebook groups for the brand.

I myself have been added to LuLaRoe groups, but I mainly ignore them.  My days of wearing leggings are pretty much over.  I used to think they were basically okay, until the other day when I noticed someone on post working in an office wearing them with a sleeveless polyester shirt.  It looked really unprofessional.  I guess if you wear them with a skirt or a long tunic or something, they're alright.  But I don't like them for me... And, in fact, I don't like a lot of the stuff I've seen hawked by LuLaRoe because it's simply not my style.  I also hate MLMs.

Anyway, I read the RfM thread with interest.  I didn't know it was owned by a Mormon mother of seven.  Furthermore, when I read one of the links the poster included, I learned a little more about the culture of LuLaRoe... at least as it's stated through one woman's outraged diatribe.  I shared the link on Facebook and, sure enough, it got comments.  One person who commented is now a LuLaRoe "consultant" and she seemed rather defensive.  She says she makes money and it helps her be more available to her husband (who appears to have significant health problems) and their daughter.

I guess I don't have anything against women who do the MLM thing.  I have a cousin who was very successful selling some MLM product... I don't even remember what it was.  She ended up with a car.  Now she works for the University of Virginia and has a prestigious job as an associate director of admissions for their MBA program.  I don't talk to her very much because I think she's a snob.  So is just about everyone else in my family, though.  :D

I know other people who work in MLMs because they strongly believe in the product.  Like, for instance, one friend has been struggling with melanoma and has found relief using essential oils by DoTerra.  I guess if you're dealing with cancer and essential oils help, who am I to say you're wrong?  

Still, I couldn't help but notice that there were a few other articles about LuLaRoe (named after the founder, Deanne Stidham's granddaughters, Lucy, Lola, and Munroe) that leads one to think there could be trouble in paradise.  I mainly shared the diatribe because I thought it was kind of funny, but it lead to some other reading that makes me realize there are some real issues behind those furious words.

I have heard that LuLaRoe's quality has gone down a bit, especially since the clothes are apparently no longer made in the USA.  However, even though the labor and materials going into making the clothes has become cheaper, the prices have remained the same.  People who have tried to speak out about the issues have apparently been encouraged to be quiet.  Consequently, some women have decided to leave the company.        

I don't have a dog in this fight... horse in this race... skin in the game...  I guess if LuLaRoe makes people happy and wealthy, they should have at it.  I dislike the MLM model, though.  I think it's a bit distasteful on many levels, because it often requires people to exploit friendships and family relations.  And while I realize that not everyone who sells stuff for MLMs behaves in that way, enough do it that it turns me off.  But really, I just don't like loud colors or patterns, polyester, or supporting the Mormon church, even loosely.  So I guess I'll never be a LuLaRoe ho...

Breaking up with PayPal...

It's about time I did it.  Even though using PayPal is simple and convenient, I'm tiring of having a middle "man" as part of my financial transactions.  It's too easy to spend money.  Moreover, sometimes PayPal messes up.

Case in point, this morning I got an email from PayPal letting me know that a payment had failed.  They had sent another email about the payment-- a $1.99 subscription that apparently was to be taken from my "wallet".  I never keep money in the PayPal wallet, so the payment failed.  However, instead of using my backup method or emailing me each time it failed, PayPal kept trying to bill me and the charges stacked up.  I counted over thirty unsuccessful attempts at billing.  I woke up this morning to a deficit of $123 in my "wallet".

The $123 is not a big deal.  I paid it, and now have $0 in my "wallet".  I also cancelled the subscription to the offending service as well as to most of the other services for which I was paying via PayPal.  Most of them were services I don't use anymore anyway.  I left one or two yearly subscriptions active.  The others I will pay for using a credit card.

PayPal used to be more useful to me because I was getting payments for my writing through the service.  Now that those assignments have more or less dried up, I don't need PayPal.  I get paid directly to my account now through the couple of income sources I have.  And, quite frankly, I don't need the aggravation that I was faced with this morning.  It gave me a sick feeling to see the negative balance and it was very annoying to try to figure out what happened.  PayPal is not exactly "user friendly" when it comes to this stuff.

I guess it's fair to say that I haven't "broken up" with PayPal as much as I've "agreed to see others".  I wish the United States would get with the program and start using bank transfers, like we do here in Germany.  It's so much easier, more secure, and less annoying.  Anyway... I'm voting with my pocketbook.

Zane and Arran had a good walk this morning.  Zane was full of energy and looked happy.  If he's sick due to his elevated liver enzymes, I wouldn't know it.  I dread Thursday because I think the surgery is going to be tough on him.  I also dread hearing the aftermath of the surgery.  I'm pretty sure at least one of the bumps is a mast cell tumor and I have a sick feeling it'll return.

I may be back later with a more substantial topic after I've done some reading... I have something kind of juicy in mind, but I need to learn more about it before I do any writing.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A dearth of common sense among Germans on the Autobahn...

Yesterday, while Bill and I were on our way to a small zoo, I happened to notice a man driving a small car.  He had a mattress somehow secured to the car's roof.  Unfortunately, the mattress was not as tightly strapped down as it should have been.  Consequently, it was kind of flopping dangerously  on the roof.

Fortunately, the man who was driving the car was wise enough to realize that he was about to lose his mattress.  He was slowly pulling off the road onto the shoulder, where I can only assume he meant to tighten the load on his roof.  I did have to chuckle, though, because he also had his arm out of the window and was holding on to the side of the mattress as he steered with his right hand.  If I hadn't been so afraid the mattress was going to hit my car's windshield, I might have actually laughed out loud.

I wonder what this guy was thinking.  Did he really think that if the mattress blew off the roof, he'd be able to stop it or slow it down with his fragile grip?  It's about as effective as trying to hold on during a car accident instead of wearing a seatbelt.  I had visions of that mattress flying off of the roof and causing a huge accident.  The risk was very real.

Later, after we visited the zoo and had lunch, Bill and I were on our way home.  We stopped at a resthof-- basically a place that has pay bathrooms, a convenience store, and a restaurant of some sort. Here in Germany, if you want to pee at a place other than the treeline or one of the very no frills rest stops, you have to pay 70 cents.  For that, you get a clean toilet with plenty of toilet paper and a sink that has hot water.

Anyway, the resthof was a bit of a zoo.  I had to fight to get to the bathroom and struggled to get back to the car, due to the crowds in the parking lot.  As we were leaving the lot, I noticed a young couple holding a sign that read "Karlsruhe".  Karlsruhe is a town not far from the French border.  It's in the state we live in, but nowhere near where we were going.  They looked hopefully at us, apparently not realizing that Bill was driving my Mini Cooper convertible.

Most Mini Coopers do not have back seats that people can actually use.  I let my dogs sit in the back of my car because they don't have a need for leg room.  Otherwise, for most human beings, it's a no go.  I have heard that European Minis are somewhat more spacious, which seems kind of hard to believe.  Seems to me that Europeans usually do things smaller than Americans do.

Even if we were inclined to pick up hitchhikers, I wondered if they knew where they'd be sitting.  We had the top down, so it would not have been possible to strap them to the roof, like the guy did with his mattress.  I'm kidding, of course.  Actually, this is not the first time something like this has happened.  A few months ago, a man who was about 6'4" was hitchhiking and seemed to hope we'd stop.  But seriously, there is nowhere for someone of that size to sit, even in the front seat of a Mini.  :D

This week is one I've looked forward to and dreaded simultaneously.  This is the week I get the dogs' teeth cleaned and have some scary bumps taken off of Zane.  I look forward to his losing the bumps, but I also fear that they will come back with a vengeance or that his recovery will be difficult.  We are about a month out from our Scottish cruise and, historically speaking, bad things tend to happen when I visit Scotland (however, I love it enough that I'll keep going anyway).  The last time I went, I got really sick with a stomach virus.  The time before that, we discovered a horrendous cancer in our sweet old dog, MacGregor.  So I am praying that this time, there won't be any horrors, especially since Zane is going under the knife.

If you've got any good vibes to spare, we'd appreciate them...  Edited to add: their blood tests came back and Zane has an elevated ALP (liver enzyme) value.  Arran's tests were normal.  These dogs make me worry so much.

Bwahahahahaa!  Actually, this is kind of sad.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I don't wanna read your sad story on flash cards...

Some time ago, I recall seeing a viral video put out by a woman with metastatic breast cancer.  The woman, name of Holley Kitchen, has since passed on, but I easily remember the video, which featured her holding up placards with her story printed on them.  Accompanied by syrupy music and her own sad and outraged facial expressions, the video obviously resonated with a lot of people.

This video was memorable.

Now... Holley Kitchen was probably not the first person to share her story this way.  In fact, I think I've seen other people share other tragic stories by holding up flash cards for their viewers.  The subject matter is usually serious and personal, so people who have been victimized in some way seem to think the flash cards are an effective way to spread a message.  Holley Kitchen, by the way, apparently had the same kind of breast cancer from which my friend Pam recently perished.  

Since Holley Kitchen's video was made, I have noticed that a lot of other people have jumped on the bandwagon.  In a way, maybe it makes sense that people do this.  Holding up cards forces people to pay attention because they have to read...  or at least they have to read if they want something more than a pop song out of the video.  It also potentially makes delivering the message more expedient.  The words are written, so there's no stuttering, ums or ahs, spontaneous crying, or any other type of interruption that can come up with a person speaks.

However... personally, I find these kinds of videos extremely annoying and cliched.  I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to pull them off.  A person needs to be able to act and a lot of the people who do the flash card thing can't act their way out of a paper bag.  Moreover, while I appreciate that the cards force a person to read, they also force a person to listen to whatever music the uploader is using.  Too much of the time, the music is irritating pop music.

I see I'm not the only one who feels this way about flash card videos... 

This subject comes up today because I saw the video below on my Facebook feed.  In my defense, I saw it before I'd had any coffee, so I was feeling rather short of patience.  Of course I understand the importance of learning about PTSD and suicide, but...

I think I would have been more impressed had this lady, name of Stephanie, spoken... 

A voice is a powerful instrument.  Have the courage to speak.  Don't force us to watch you flip through flash cards, especially as you lick your finger with each flash card change.  In the above video, the uploader cries openly because her husband committed suicide after having been stricken with PTSD.  Having been raised by a father who had PTSD, I can relate and empathize with how serious PTSD is.  I also relate to the military's stupid policy of stripping people with depression and other mental illnesses of their livelihoods by forcing them to surrender their security clearances.  It truly is a big barrier to help that can lead to awful consequences.

However, wouldn't it be much more powerful if this woman had been able to voice her feelings about what happened?  Writing is powerful, but it has its place.  I, for one, would rather read something at my own pace without having to rely on a person holding up flash cards and watching their (often contrived) emotions and patronizing facial expressions on the video.  I'm not saying that Stephanie's feelings are contrived.  I can see that she's genuinely emotional.  But watch a few of these videos and you'll see that a lot of the people doing them are making faces... trying and failing to act.

PSAs are, by nature, designed to pull at one's conscience.  The flash card videos are less effective, in my opinion, because they are, in some ways, easier to tune out.  I can run the video, listen to the music, and not get the message.  Or I can watch the video, get bored, offended, or annoyed by the flash card technique and miss the message.  

If I hear you speaking, especially if you're a good and engaging speaker, I am much more likely to get your message.  Moreover, I am a big proponent of public speaking.  I think more people should do it and actually be heard rather than relying on video gimmicks.  A voice is a simple but very powerful instrument.  Unless there is some legitimate reason why one can't speak out loud, I think using one's actual voice is almost always a better choice than holding up pieces of white paper with words written in magic marker.

I'm sorry if this post offends, by the way.  I have been posting on my blog long enough to know that sometimes people Google themselves and find my opinions, some of which go against the popular grain.  A lot of times people get pissed and want to set me straight.  Before anyone is tempted to do that, allow me to reiterate that this is just a blog and, as such, it's full of my personal opinions about things.  Many people disagree with me and that's fine.  But leaving me a pissy rant about how wrong I am is likely only going to result in my being inspired to write more.  I'm always looking for inspiration.  So just be aware and forewarned...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I've been "f**king it" for the past month...

Begging your pardon for the title of this post.  I'm honestly not trying to be profane.  "F**k It" is the name of a book I read a few years ago.  Written by Qigong guru and Englishman John C. Parkin, the book is about learning how to let things go, relaxing, and just simply saying "fuck it" to a lot more things that you can't control.  I really need this training.

 John and his wife, Gaia, run retreats in Stromboli, Italy, as well as in Britain and Ireland.  At one time, they had a property where they hosted these retreats for paying customers, looking to learn what they could teach.  I've been following them on Facebook for awhile, plus I am on their mailing list.  Several weeks ago, John sent emails to people asking for reviewers of his online Qigong course.  Normally priced at 297 euros, this course was offered to me at a third of the price.  All I had to do was take the 28 lessons, which appeared in short videos every morning at 8:06am my time.  Afterwards, I would submit a review.  I will send John a review very soon.  I have favorable things to say about his course.  But first, I want to write about it here on my blog for the few readers I have left.

First thing's first.  Before I started this course on July 7, 2017, I had never done any kind of Qigong (pronounced chi-gong), which is a Chinese method of harnessing life energy within.  I had heard of Tai Chi, which is a form of martial arts that encompasses the concept of yin and yang.  Qigong was definitely a new thing for me.  It's pretty fitting that I did this e-course in July, since July tends to be the worst month of the year for me most of the time.

Anyway, this was a beginner's course, so John's videos were pretty simple.  He has a very soothing voice and a colorful way of describing the movements that are easy for English speakers to understand.  He stands on a peaceful beach in front of the gentle surf on Stromboli, an Island near Sicily where no cars are allowed.  On a few videos, you hear the voices of Italian families getting ready for dinner, since John did the audio track separately from the video.  On other videos, you can hear the surf.  On some videos, there are sailboats in anchored in the water behind John... and a lone person swimming.  On others, it's just the peaceful water.

The first video, which is freely available on YouTube...

John leads students through one new movement a day.  Most of them are easy to do, but if there are any that aren't, he encourages viewers to skip them.  I am not the fittest person around, but I had little trouble with the simple movements.  Some were very enjoyable and felt great.  A couple were less comfortable for me, but definitely doable.  

With each new skill learned every day, John offers "the story so far" at the end of the video, where he shows you what you've learned so far.  As the videos stack up, "the story so far" is shown with the speed cranked up.  I was doing all of the movements at the end of the videos until he sped them up.  Then it became impossible.  The idea, of course, is to try these moves after you've learned them... practice them for a few minutes a day with the hopes that eventually something will click and you'll feel "qi"... energy.

Although I probably haven't been as diligent about practicing as I should be, I will say that I genuinely enjoyed John's videos.  For a few minutes every morning, they gave me something to focus on and look forward to.  I spent those few minutes concentrating on relaxing, deep breathing, good technique, and proper form.  It was probably more attention than I've given my body in some time.  I like the fact that I can do these at home whenever I want to, without having to worry about others.  However, if I wanted to connect with others, I could comment in the special Facebook group John created for participants in the e-course.  I can't say the Facebook group was particularly well attended, but a few people posted throughout the month.  Some had even been to one or more of the retreats.

John and Gaia don't just teach Qigong.  They also teach other courses designed to help people relax, say "fuck it", and enjoy their lives.  They have a very appealing ad campaign, though.  I have to admit, I am now more interested than ever in coming to Stromboli to see the island where they live, learn more about "fucking it", and training myself to relax and take things less seriously.  For now, I have basic Qigong, that I probably never would have bothered to learn had John not offered me the chance to try his course at a reduced price.

Needless to say, if this is something that interests you, I recommend giving it a try... or at least reading one of the books.  Here's a link to the one I read.  And seriously... have a look at their Web site.  It's pretty cool.

Accountants who are broke...

I have an old friend, I'll call him Dick.  I met Dick in college.  I was a freshman at the time and he was junior, having transferred to Longwood after earning an associate's degree in his hometown.  I want to say he was a business major when we met, but then he changed his major to history.  I also want to say that he was in some kind of trouble with the school because I distinctly remember him telling me he was in danger of being suspended and had appealed to the dean.  But I don't remember if it was because of academics or discipline.

Anyway, I used to party with Dick a lot, but we lost touch after college.  He eventually got married to a woman who had a PhD.  Sadly, his wife ultimately succumbed to lung cancer.  She left behind her daughter with Dick, a beautiful one year old child who is now four.

Dick is now trying to run his own business and raising his daughter alone.  I think he's going through a pretty rough time because his comments on Facebook are frequently about his problems getting by. I don't know for certain, but I think his business is struggling and, since he's raising his young daughter, he seems to be having a hard time covering all his bases.

I don't want to write too much more about Dick's specific situation because, truth be told, I feel kind of sad for him.  I can see he's having difficulty handling all of his responsibilities.  However, I do think that being an accountant with money issues is probably very detrimental to his livelihood.  I have never hired an accountant myself, but I would have to guess that if I did want to hire one, I'd be concerned if my accountant was dealing with personal financial problems.  Although in Dick's case, I can see where the problems came from.  Also, it's been my observation that when you get into money problems, they have a tendency to compound.

It always sucks to have financial problems.  God knows, when I met Bill, he had a lot of them.  And Bill was in a job at that time that involved finance, even though his personal finances were a wreck.  By all rights, I probably should not have gotten involved with him, but I knew his situation was caused by elements beyond his control.  Hopefully, that's what's going on in Dick's case, too.  He does seem to be struggling, though.  I hope things turn around for him soon.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Them Duke boys... and dumbass Derick Dillard...

Last night, as Bill and I were bonding over wine, I read about former Dukes of Hazzard star Tom Wopat's latest brush with the law.  Mr. Wopat, now 65 (wow!) years old, was arrested in Massachusetts for "indecent assault" and possession of cocaine.  Evidently, he got in trouble for putting his finger between some woman's butt cheeks during rehearsals for a production of 42nd Street.

I must say, having grown up watching Mr. Wopat as a young man playing Luke Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard, I am shocked and saddened that he allegedly molested someone.  To add insult to injury, when Wopat was confronted about his lewd behavior, he supposedly denied it and said, "Fuck them all."  Apparently, this was not the first time Wopat touched a woman inappropriately during the production.  Mr. Wopat pled not guilty to the charges and was released after paying $1000 bail.  He's apparently still performing in the show while the charges are pending.  This is a far cry from the good guy Robin Hood type he played on the wildly successful show from the 70s and 80s.  Yet another role model dashed...

In other Dukes of Hazzard news, actor Ben Jones, who played mechanic Cooter Davenport on the show, is in the news for hosting a southern pride festival in Virginia.  Mr. Jones, who used to be a Democrat, but is now a Republican who disapproves of Donald Trump, served a couple of terms in Congress.  He now lives in my home state of Virginia, where he runs a museum and restaurant and hosts rallies promoting southern heritage.  As a southerner myself, I must say I'm not ashamed of where I'm from.  I actually love the South.  However, I can see why these types of festivals can seem pretty backwards nowadays.

Moving on...   

A reader sent me an article about Derick Dillard, husband of the former Jill Duggar.  In prior blog posts, I mentioned liking Jill and Derick.  However, as I've watched the husbands of the Duggar daughters speaking out lately, I have found myself less enchanted by them.  This week, Derick is in hot water for tweeting about Jazz Jennings, a transgender teenager on the TLC show I Am Jazz.

Mr. Dillard posted his belief that "transgender is a myth" and "gender is not fluid; it is ordained by God."  I'm not sure why Derick Dillard feels the need to opine about a fellow TLC star.  I think it's in poor taste and not very Christian behavior.  What a pity.  I thought Derick was going to be a somewhat thoughtful husband to Jill, but it looks like it's not to be...

I long for the day when someone from the Duggar clan breaks out and writes a tell all book.  It'll sell like hotcakes.  But that will take someone getting good and pissed off at Boob to the point at which they don't fear the repercussions.  Unfortunately, people who have been raised in culty environments have a hard time breaking free.  However, I have every confidence that it'll happen someday and when it does, I'll be ready to read all about it.

Yesterday, I posted a new book review on my music blog.  It's about Canadian songstress Anne Murray.  Feel free to check it out if you like.  Also, I had a good experience getting a new I.D. today.

Maybe I'll be back later today... maybe I won't.  I think I'm ready to start on a new book.