dogs, funny stories, lessons learned, love, technology

Something to live for… awkward conversations about life and death…

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I wrote three fresh blog posts. Two were about Josh Duggar, and one was a review of Naomi Judd’s book, River of Time, which was about her struggles with depression and anxiety. Interspersed within all the writing, there was also the news about the people who died in Uvalde, Texas… nineteen children and two teachers. I read last night that Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, who was killed during the school shooting massacre, died of a heart attack just a couple of days after losing his wife of 24 years. This morning, I read a ridiculous tin foil hat comment from someone who thought Garcia’s sudden heart attack was part of a conspiracy, since the police department in Uvalde were apparently unprepared to deal with a school shooting.

People are still arguing about COVID, abortion rights, gun rights, school safety, and all of the other political hot button issues that will probably never be settled in my lifetime. All I can do is shake my head. The world is really fucked… and yet, sometimes there are little flickers of beauty, humor, and wonder that make me think it’s worth trying to stick around for however much time I have left.

Last night, Bill came home with kind of a sheepish look on his face. He said, “Well, today got started on a rather ‘awkward’ note.”

I looked up at him, noticing that he looked a little mischievous. “Do tell.” I encouraged.

He said, “I was in the bathroom, taking a shit, and when I came out, I was confronted by my boss, who said he needed to talk to me. So we sat down and my boss said, ‘Bill, I have to ask you… are you alright?'”

And I said, “He was asking you this because he heard you taking a shit? Or he smelled the remnants of it?”

“No…” Bill said, laughing. “The shitting part becomes important later in the story.”

“My imagination is going wild.” I said.

Bill continued, “So my boss says, ‘The guys in the IT department noticed a questionable search string coming from your computer. It got flagged. And I have to ask you, are you okay? Are you considering suicide?'”

Bill said, “No! Of course not!” Taking a deep breath, Bill explained to his boss, “I Googled ‘when someone you know commits suicide’, because recently, two acquaintances committed suicide. One was a guy I knew in high school, years ago. He was a good friend in those days, but we weren’t close recently. We were just Facebook friends. And one day last month, he posted ‘Guys, it’s been a slice,’ on Facebook, and that was it. Next thing I knew, people were announcing that he’d killed himself.”

Bill went on, “The other was the woman who previously lived in the house my wife and I rented near Stuttgart, before we moved to Wiesbaden. She had worked for our company, and one day I noticed that her name wasn’t on the company roster anymore. And because she had kind of been ‘cyberstalking’ my wife, the fact that she wasn’t on the roster caught my attention.”

Bill paused, then continued, “I told my wife, so she Googled her name, and discovered that she’d died. It was a shock, since she was so young. So she did more investigation, and found out that the woman had committed suicide. We were both really surprised by the news. She seemed to have everything going for her. These two recent suicides were just really surreal, and suicide was on my mind only for that reason. So I did a quick Google search, but even as I did it, I realized that it might get me in trouble.”

Then Bill concluded, saying “I have everything to live for. I just took a wonderful trip, and I’m planning another for my wife’s birthday next month. And my daughter is about to have my grandson, any day now. So no, I’m not thinking of killing myself. But thanks for asking.”

Bill said his boss sighed with deep relief and said, “Okay… I feel much better now. Don’t worry. This is not going to be on your permanent record, or anything.”

Then Bill said that one of his work buddies had been looking for him before that conversation took place. The boss had asked where Bill was, and of course, at the time, he was taking a shit. His work buddy had said, “Oh, Bill is probably ‘hanging out’ somewhere…”, which seems like kind of an unfortunate choice of words, under the circumstances.

We talked about it a little more, marveling at how people are always watching what we’re doing, although they don’t always take action before it’s too late. I’m sure the IT guys at Bill’s company don’t monitor every search string, but when someone Googles something weird while on the clock, it gets flagged. Obviously they take any mention of suicide seriously, which is comforting, I guess. Why would someone in Bill’s line of work be searching for articles about suicide? It would make sense for me, since I have a background in public health and social work. But it doesn’t make sense for a guy who does what Bill does for a living. If anything, this serves as a reminder to watch one’s Googling while on the job.

As we were laughing about that, Bill noticed a message from his daughter. He clicked on it, and we were introduced to Bill’s new grandson, who was born a couple of days ago… At the time the message was sent, he was just 13 hours old. He’s tiny and adorable, and he serves as another good reminder that life goes on, even when there’s crazy and terrible shit going on everywhere. Bill’s daughter looked so beautiful, too, as she held her little son. I managed to snap a photo of Bill looking at the video, so happy to be “Papa” to another soul. Yes, I would say he’s got plenty to live for…

Priceless boys…

As I write this, a gorgeous song by Janet Jackson is playing. Her song, “Together Again”, is special to us, because we kind of see it as a message from Heaven. In December 2012, our beloved “bagel”, MacGregor, died of spinal cancer. MacGregor was a very special dog, and Bill adored him. He was especially devastated when we lost him. Then a month later, we adopted our beloved Arran, who immediately bonded with Bill. Arran even did something MacGregor always did to show affection to Bill… you can see him on his hind legs in the photo below. MacGregor used to do the very same thing, putting his paws on us while standing on his hind legs. And as Arran was doing that for the first of many times, “Together Again” was playing. It meant something to us… like MacGregor was sending us a message through Arran. And now, as I write about life and death, here it is again… and it’s followed by “Psalm 23” by Eden’s Bridge, which I would love played at my funeral someday.

I’m not a huge Janet Jackson fan, but I love this song. It’s very special.
That organ… it just moves me.
January 13, 2013, the day we brought Arran home in North Carolina, and he made Bill his favorite person… Janet Jackson’s song was playing.
And last week… they are still extremely bonded. Arran would be DEVASTATED if Bill died.

We have been very fortunate to live a very good life together. Even when things seem absolutely bonkers in the world, we still have some happy news to share. I don’t know what life is going to be like for the newest grandchild, but I know he’s already much beloved by many people. And he has the most wonderful “Papa”, too. So no one should worry about Bill… “Papa” isn’t going to do anything drastic anytime soon. But thanks for asking!

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bad TV, celebrities, funny stories, true crime

Chris Rock’s “squirrel joke” ends with a slap heard ’round the world…

I don’t follow awards shows at all, and haven’t even been to the movies since 2018. Nevertheless, I woke up this morning to the news about how actor Will Smith smacked comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards last night. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the story, here’s what happened. Chris Rock was hosting the Oscars show, and he made a tasteless joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will’s wife. Jada Pinkett Smith has a condition called alopecia areata, which causes patches of hair loss. Consequently, she’s almost bald.

Chris Rock made a crack about the alopecia, making reference to the film G.I. Jane, which starred Demi Moore, who was sporting a very short haircut. He says he expects to see Jada in G.I. Jane II. Jada Pinkett Smith’s response was simply to roll her eyes, but Will Smith went a whole lot further when he marched up on the stage, hauled off, and slapped Rock across the face.

That is what you call a bitch slap. He definitely didn’t hold back at all.

I’m sure Chris Rock felt his teeth rattle after that blow to the face. I have to give him props for shaking it off and carrying on. Especially as Will Smith then tells Chris Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his “fuckin’ mouth”.

I’m sure a lot of people had this reaction…

I’ve seen a number of reactions to this incident, and I’ve gotta say, I’m kind of shocked by how many people think it’s okay that Will Smith reacted with violence to Chris Rock’s crappy joke. I certainly agree that the joke was in very poor taste, and it definitely wasn’t funny at all. However, while I can understand Will Smith’s impulse to strike Chris Rock in the face for publicly insulting his wife, I don’t think it was the right thing to do. Smith committed a crime when he hit Rock, and there are literally millions of witnesses to what happened. Moreover, it just isn’t civilized behavior to give in to violent impulses, particularly in a setting like the Oscars. It was supposed to be a dignified occasion, not the fucking Friday night fights. These two men turned what was supposed to be an honorable and dignified occasion into something that was decidedly not family friendly.

If Smith had just kept his cool, Rock would have looked like an asshole. We probably would even be talking about what a lame, mean-spirited joke Rock made at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense. Instead, we’re all talking about Will Smith’s thuggery, perhaps even taking a side as to which man behaved worse. And then, Smith wins an award and gets up to talk about “what God wants him to do” and “protecting” his family. He blames his violent actions on “the devil”, which I think was quite a cop out.

He says he wants to be a vessel to love… but first he needs to learn to keep his hands to himself.

There are times when a violent reaction to an action is completely justifiable. For instance, if Chris Rock was physically attacking Jada, I could understand Will Smith smacking Rock in the face… or Jada herself decking him. But Chris Rock is a comedian, and it’s his job to make people laugh. Sometimes, comedians go for cheap laughs by making demeaning comments and insults about other people. I’m not saying it’s right, but I do think it often comes with the territory of being a comedian. I mean, even Spongebob Squarepants once got laughs by insulting Sandy Squirrel, right?

I think Chris Rock could learn from Sandy Squirrel’s lesson for Spongebob.

I just rewatched this clip from Spongebob Squarepants and, seriously… it really is quite a lot like what happened, except Spongebob didn’t get his beating in public like Rock did. And Rock, astonishingly, somehow managed to keep his composure and the show apparently went on. But a better comedian can make jokes without hitting below the belt with comments about things other people can’t help. It’s not cool to make fun of another person’s body. So I think Will Smith should have just let Rock’s joke stand for the poor comedy it was, and kept his hands to himself. Or, if he really wanted to hit him, he should have done it at a time and place where the world wasn’t watching.

Chris Rock could press charges against Mr. Smith, and it’s pretty likely that the law would be on Rock’s side. I’m sure a lot of judges would have some sympathy for Smith, but it would be wrong to condone violence. I mean, we learn in kindergarten not to go around hitting each other, right? It’s one of the first lessons children learn in school.

Moving on…

We had a really nice weekend. The weather was perfect, and we got out a couple of times. And on Friday, I ordered new sheets for our bed… first ones since 2015, when I bought Comphy microfiber spa sheets. I remember writing about that purchase on my original blog. Those sheets have started developing a hole, so Friday, I decided to get new ones. I love Comphy sheets. They are my favorites.

Comphy doesn’t ship to APO addresses, so I originally wanted to purchase them and have them sent to my mother-in-law. I was able to do that in 2015. This time, I couldn’t do it, so I had to have them shipped directly to me. I ordered Friday morning and they have already gotten here! The credit card charge hasn’t even posted yet!

Granted, I paid a lot for the sheets. I bought an extra set of pillow cases, and a throw, so that all amounted to a pretty big bill. Customs and shipping were also pricey. BUT… they really are the best sheets I’ve had. They’re super soft and comfortable; they don’t wrinkle or pill; and they are very durable through hundreds of washings. So I don’t mind that they cost more than a month’s rent in my apartment in grad school.

I’m now giving them a preliminary wash and I heard the chime go off, so In an hour or so, I will be putting them on the bed… and I suspect, thanks to DST taking effect yesterday, in about three hours, I’ll be napping on them.

Yea!

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France, funny stories

“Shut your whore mouth, GPS…”

The featured photo is just over the border into Germany, where the GPS tried to lead us through a place we couldn’t go…

Bill and I are now home from our four night jaunt to extreme eastern France. We had a really nice break. The weather was surprisingly pleasant, if not a bit chilly and windy. Although we have been to Alsace a bunch of times over the past several years, this was our first time in the Soufflenheim area, which is kind of different from the areas where we have been in the past. I chose a great little hotel/Michelin starred restaurant, and the French, as promised, were much less obnoxious about COVID rules than the Germans have been… although while we were gone, some of the rules in Germany were either scrapped or relaxed.

I’m looking forward to writing up our trip on the travel blog. That poor thing has been limping along for months, as we’ve stayed close to home since we went to Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria a few months ago. I think, though, since the weather is improving, the days are getting longer, and the rules are relaxing, I will be able to write better travel posts in the coming weeks. That is, of course, if Putin doesn’t decide to nuke the world.

So what’s up with the title of today’s post? I’ve decided that I hate the GPS. On the rare occasions when I drive, I don’t tend to use it. I don’t like hearing the pack a day smoking voice the GPS always seems to use. I don’t like how it gives a bunch of directions, muting my music or interrupting conversations. Bill, on the other hand, loves using the GPS. Ever since he used a Tom Tom for the first time, back in 2007, he has relied on the GPS to tell him where to go. Sometimes he’ll use that in place of his own common sense. Personally, I often want to tell the GPS where to go.

Yesterday, as we were enjoying the French countryside, the GPS came on as Alison Krauss was introducing a song on her live album. Suddenly, I blurted out, “Shut your whore mouth, GPS!”

Bill cracked up. He knows I hate the GPS. It’s frustrating to try to have a conversation with him while that thing is going. He eventually set it to give fewer directions, not that it helped especially much.

This morning, as we were coming back to Germany, we were in a deep conversation when, just over the border, we ran into an “Umleitung” (detour). As Bill turned right, because he had to turn right, the GPS said in her mournful voice, “Make a U-turn if possible.” But it wasn’t possible.

Inexplicably, Bill continued to follow the GPS’s directions, instead of the street signs, and wound up right back where he came from. I got more agitated as the GPS kept telling him what to do, and giving him bad advice, since the GPS isn’t hooked up to the Internet and can’t offer up-to-the-minute directions. Bill needs to buy a chip for the car for the GPS to be able to give real time directions.

After a few more complaints, I managed to get Bill to turn off the GPS. He was surprisingly reluctant, though. “How will we find our way back?” he asked.

I had to laugh at that, since Bill has been driving for longer than I have.

“What the hell did you do before GPS systems were available?” I asked.

“I got out the map.” he said.

“You got out the map for every trip? Even the ones on interstates or Autobahns, where there are plenty of road signs? You’ve never just used your intuition?” I asked.

Bill had to admit that he did used to do things that way. But the GPS makes it so much easier… just follow along to what the smokey voiced woman says, and you’ll get where you need to go! Except for when she doesn’t have all of the information and leads you astray! Sometimes the human mind is better for problem solving than an automated machine is, don’t you think? Most humans can see with their eyes what’s going on. Machines can’t. On the other hand, machines don’t have cultural mores, subjective standards, or other people’s opinions to influence them.

I have an unusually good sense of direction. I always have been pretty good at finding my way around. It may come from having an Air Force navigator as a father. Consequently, I would take it as a challenge to get around using the GPS as seldom as possible. I also don’t like to be told what to do, even though I do appreciate the GPS when we’re somewhere completely foreign to us. I guess that’s one of the ways in which Bill and I differ.

At some point, I’m going to need to get a new car. It’ll probably have a built in GPS system. But if I know myself, I won’t use it when I drive. I don’t like interruptions when I listen to music or when I’m having a conversation. And sometimes, it’s cool to get lost for awhile. I’ve found some really interesting things that way. Getting lost is a great way to learn your way around a place, as long as you have the time to spare. We do have the time today, as the dogs can’t be picked up until after 6:00pm.

I’m reminded of how, back when I was doing my first social work internship, I had to use my own sense of direction to find my way to clients’ houses. It’s a wonder I was able, if I were to listen to my sweet husband. But sometimes, he’s a little too quick to do what other people tell him to do. Including the GPS system… she really does need to shut her whore mouth! Especially when Alison Krauss is speaking (or singing).

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bad TV, education, funny stories, nostalgia, religion, sex

Repost: Sex education, Irish Catholic style… 

Here’s another repost from Blogspot. This time, it’s from July 15, 2016. The videos are hilarious!

My friend, Donna, posted this article from IrishCentral’s Web site on my Facebook timeline.  It’s about a very weird sex education video that was apparently distributed to Irish Catholic schools in the 1980s.  As weird and awkward as sex education can be under the best of circumstances, the video highlighted in this article kind of take the cake.  Behold!

If I had grown up in Ireland and Catholic, I might have seen these videos as a teen. Angela looks like a nice lady, but I’m not sure I would want to talk about sex with her.
Jim Bob Duggar would not like this video because of the music with a beat… that leads to beating off.

The videos are pretty funny because they are obviously from the 80s.  Had I been born Catholic in Ireland, I might have watched them in school.  What really makes me laugh is the way Angela, the lady in the videos, expresses herself.  She uses some pretty funny slang to refer to parts of the body as well as going to the bathroom.  I laughed out loud when she talked about “doing a big job” in reference to taking a dump.

The rest of the video either made me cringe and blush or exclaim disbelief.  Seriously.  She’s an old lady talking about fucking and relating it to God.  I guess, on a superficial level, it’s cool that she’s not making sex out to be dirty.  Of course, the only sex that is okay is that which occurs within the bonds of marriage between two heterosexuals.  But once you’re married, have at it and make some babies!

I wonder if the Mormon church ever put out a sex ed video.  I doubt the Presbyterians– which is the church I was raised in– ever broached such a subject.  I think they expected us to learn about sex in school.  But Catholics are a different breed.

I actually kind of like Catholics, even if I would not make a very good one.  And these videos, along with Van Morrison, make me want to get on a plane and visit Ireland.  I want to see if I can find an Irish lady to tell me about the facts of life.  Too funny!

ETA in 2022: Later in 2016, Bill and I took our first trip to Ireland as a couple. We celebrated our 14th anniversary there. We had an amazing time in a cottage right by the sea. I wish I was there now. Especially now that I know I have some Irish ancestry.

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controversies, funny stories, language

Repost: “Cum” is not always a “bad word”…

Here’s another repost from May 23, 2018. I’m reposting it, because I think it’s funny. Keep in mind, this happened four years ago, before the world went to pandemic hell.

Last night, while quaffing too much wine and getting overly emotional about musical selections on iTunes, I ran across an article about a woman from Charleston, South Carolina who purchased a $70 cake from a Publix supermarket.  Cara Koscinski’s son, Jacob, had just graduated from homeschool “Summa Cum Laude”.  Just as an aside, I didn’t realize Latin superlatives were a thing for people finishing high school.  But apparently, this young man graduated with highest honors, finishing with a GPA of 4.79.

Bwahahahaha!

Koscinski had used Publix’s online ordering system to acquire the cake.  When she typed in “Summa Cum Laude”, the system automatically censored the word “cum”.  So Ms. Koscinski, thinking that a human being would be looking at the comments section on the order form, explained that the word “cum” in this instance was referring to the Latin phrase, not the disgusting slang term for semen.

Unfortunately, the person who decorated the cake was lacking both critical thinking skills and the powers of observation.  The person decorated the cake and wrote “Summa — Laude”, omitting the word “cum”.  Koscinski’s husband, who picked up the cake at the store, did not look at it before it was presented to Koscinski’s son, who was reportedly “humiliated” when he saw it.

Few things here…  First off, it was a very stupid mistake.  I don’t blame Ms. Koscinski for publicizing this or even speaking to the manager about this oversight.  The online ordering system obviously needs to be updated in some way and the bakery employees need training.  Clearly, the person who decorated the cake was either working on autopilot or needs to be educated about Latin phrases that might be requested for decorated desserts.  At the very least, the rest of the world deserves to have a good laugh at the stupidity of this error.

Secondly, I kind of think Ms. Koscinski’s anger is a little bit out of proportion.  I mean, as sad as it is that apparently no one else at that particular Publix has ever ordered a cake with “Summa Cum Laude” on it, the error is kind of funny.  And if Jacob was really “humiliated” by a mistake that wasn’t his fault, he’s probably going to have a tough time of it in the real world.  When it comes down to it, it’s just a few dashes of icing that will be eaten, anyway.  Evidently, the young man felt he had to explain the term “cum” to his grandmother and why it would be censored on the cake.  Kind of makes me think he must come from a very sheltered family who doesn’t eat a lot of cum. 

And finally… if there’s one thing to be learned about this story, it’s that whenever you purchase a decorated cake, it pays to look at the finished product before you leave the store.  It might also be a good idea to order the cake in person or skip the grocery store bakeries and patronize a small business instead.  Actually, just reading about this reminds me of our wedding reception and how I wish I’d used a small catering service in town instead of the one offered at Virginia Military Institute.  I think I would have been much happier with the results.

Ms. Koscinski did get an apology, a gift card, and a refund from Publix.  They also offered to remake the cake for her.  She declined, stating “You only graduate once.”  That may be true, but Koscinski’s son will probably be cumming for the rest of his life.  At least he’ll have a funny story to share about it.

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