Bill, funny stories, karma

Repost: Bill and his Irish dark side…

Here’s a repost of a blog entry I wrote on July 15, 2018. At the time, we were visiting Dublin to see Paul Simon, James, Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt in concert. Yes, they were all performing in the same awesome show! I reread this story today, remembering our fun in Ireland, and the opportunity Bill got to right a wrong.

Like most everyone, my husband Bill has a dark side.  Sometimes it comes out inappropriately.  I’m usually surprised and amused when he says something egregiously shocking or mean.

Yesterday, after we had dinner and drinks at a local pub, we stopped by the Spar (Austrian mini mart) to buy some water and a bottle of wine.  We’d had several beers between us and a couple of whiskies, so we were feeling no pain.  As we approached the cash register, a very thin, bearded man standing behind us asked the cashier if the toilet in the store was working.

The cashier obviously lied and said, “No Mate, the toilet isn’t working.  Sorry.”

As we left the store, I said, “Well… that was clearly bullshit.”

Bill responded, “Right.  He probably should have said, ‘No, I don’t want you shooting up in our bathroom.'”

Just then, as we crossed the street, the guy passed us.  He turned and glared at Bill, who was mortified.  I don’t know if he heard Bill make that comment, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Bill had kind of blurted it out in a normal tone of voice.  The toilet seeking chap did seem to send Bill a death ray with his eyes, which would make it seem like he’d heard him mock him.

It was kind of surprising that Bill was the one who made that crack.  Usually I’m the one who says stuff like that.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think that guy was a drug addict, though, or even homeless.  He hadn’t appeared to be homeless to my eyes.  In fact, he simply looked like a working person, which Bill and I have both been in our lifetimes.

Poor Bill is wracked with guilt, though.  In fact, while we were enjoying afternoon tea today, he said, “I feel awful about that comment I made.  I think I’m going to donate to a homeless shelter.”  Sure enough, after we finished having tea, we came back to our hotel room and he started researching charities.  

So many people would have just brushed off the incident, but Bill feels the need to repent.  Actually, I had the same thought that it might be a good thing to do– give to a homeless charity.  Maybe it will improve our karma.  I’m just glad no one whipped out a cell phone to record the incident and put it on YouTube.

This morning, as we were touring the Jameson’s Visitor’s Center, Bill was telling me how guilty he felt for making that obnoxious comment.  I have felt that way before and have made comments I later regretted.  Fortunately, I haven’t yet been caught on film.  As current events have shown us, though, it’s not hard to be caught having a bad day, saying or doing shameful things.  I know Bill isn’t a shitty person, but sometimes he does make shitty comments.  Don’t we all?

One time, we were walking into the German city of Ludwigsburg and we passed an enormous piggy bank in front of a bank.  The piggy bank has a name, though I can’t remember it at the moment (ETA: it’s Louise).  One can go inside of it and/or drop coins in it to be donated to charity.

It was 2014 and we hadn’t yet been back in Germany for long.  Bill said, “I wouldn’t want to go inside of that pig.  I’d be afraid someone would close the door and turn on the gas.”

Instantly, my mouth dropped open, since we were standing there in Germany, where people had once been rounded up to be gassed in concentration camps.  Bill, of course, hadn’t even thought about the concentration camps.  He was thinking of some book he’d read where people were killed that way– had nothing to do with Hitler’s era.  It was just a thoughtless comment, same as yesterday.  When he saw my facial expression it dawned on him that what he’d said was kind of shocking and potentially offensive.  It kind of revealed a dark side of a man who is usually one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know.  

Almost all of us have a dark side.  Some people are less ashamed of letting theirs show than others are.  I don’t think Bill needs to feel guilty, though.  Everybody fucks up sometimes.  And most people don’t feel the need to repent afterwards.  That’s what makes Bill such a special guy in my eyes.

Wish I were there.

EDITED TO ADD…

A couple of hours after I posted this, Bill and I went out into the city.  The Dublin area has been experiencing a drought for the past 40 days.  In fact, a significant archeological find was discovered recently thanks to the drought.  The New York Times reported on it.  Today, there was rain.  It’s been raining all day.  So after we tasted Irish whiskies, we came back to the hotel and had high tea.  Then we went to our hotel room, thinking we might not go out again.  But then I started to get a little hungry.

At about 6:30pm, we decided we might like to have some dinner.  I really wanted a Sunday roast or prime rib or something… but as we walked around the hotel, we found a number of places closed.  We thought about eating at a place that advertised tacos, but decided tacos in Ireland might be too weird.  So we kept walking and I decided to turn left at the first street we encountered.  I figured it would take us back toward the hotel where I knew we could get something.

Suddenly, just as we were nearing the end of the street, the same guy Bill had insulted yesterday popped into our path.  Looking more closely at him, I could see that he definitely was a street person.  He was very small and slender, with red hair and a beard, and obviously somewhat older than I’d originally thought he was.  He looked unkempt and was missing teeth.  It’s certainly possible he abuses drugs, but I can’t know for sure.  His appearance could be just as easily due to hard times or some other illness.  I don’t know if he recognized Bill, but Bill definitely recognized him. 

He said, “Do you have any spare change so I can get some coffee?”

Bill said, without any hesitation, “Yes, I do.”  And he pulled almost all of the change out of his pocket… about ten euros worth.  He said something had told him to carry it with him, while it was I who had decided to turn on that quiet street near our hotel.  We could have just as easily skipped dinner or had it at the hotel or the taco place.  But fate put us in the path of the guy Bill had insulted yesterday.

The guy was shocked as Bill gave him the change and the guy said, “God bless you,” as he accepted it. 

As we walked away, Bill’s eyes got teary and he started to look like Michael Landon during one of his more emotional scenes on either Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven.  And then, as if things couldn’t get any more touching, there was a restaurant right in front of us specializing in beef dishes.  We stopped in and had a very nice dinner, topped off by a final nightcap in the hotel bar before we head back to Germany tomorrow.

Maybe this story means nothing to many people.  I have a weird knack for running into people, though.  I always have.  And Bill is a very perceptive and sensitive guy whose superego has a tendency to run amok.  It’s entirely possible that guy hadn’t even heard Bill’s snarky remarks yesterday, but I think both he and Bill ended up coming out winners in this situation.

Bill still intends to donate to a charity, too.  I think this trip will go down as one of our very best and most memorable.  I’m looking forward to writing it up, starting tomorrow evening.

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funny stories, karma, law, stupid people

“Guido” and “The Giving Tree”…

This morning’s news has been downright entertaining. It’s not too often that I start the morning off with a hearty laugh, but I sure have done that today.

First, I read about a woman who is going to go to prison for at least nine years because she used a bogus Web site called RentAHitman.com to try to get her ex-husband murdered. Then, I read about a man who has cleverly rewritten the ending to the awful children’s story, The Giving Tree. Tuesday has gotten off to a good start!

She fell into a “honeypot”, trying to get her ex “waxed”… now she’s headed for the jug!

In July 2020, Wendy Wein was resolved to take the ultimate revenge on her former spouse. She waited in a cafe in Michigan, preparing herself to talk business with a man she thought was a professional killer. She hoped to hire him to murder ex-husband. Unfortunately for Wendy, the supposed hitman was actually a Michigan state trooper who had been alerted to her diabolical and illegal plans when Wendy filled out a request form on RentAHitman.com.

Wein had been fooled by the fake Web site, which she thought was genuine business, run by a guy named “Guido Fanelli”. According to the Washington Post:

What Wein found was presumably reassuring. The website promised her confidentiality. It boasted of industry awards. It showed off testimonials of satisfied customers, including one from Laura S., who had “caught my husband cheating with the babysitter.” The website bragged about complying with HIPPA, which it said was “the Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964,” a nod to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, the law passed in 1996 to protect patients’ medical information.

Honestly, I don’t know why Wein wasn’t tipped off by the name “Guido”, but she obviously thought someone would be stupid enough to have a real Web site dedicated to murdering people. And she was… sorry… pretty stupid herself for actually filling out a request form with her real name, email address, and phone number so that a “field operator” (cop) could contact her about the deal. The form also required information about the person she wanted “taken out”.

Wein, who at 52 years old, hasn’t aged like fine wine, really thought the field operator she spoke to in her gray Ford EcoSport was a hitman. She accused her ex of being a “pedophile” and gave the cop his address, place of employment and the times he left for work and got home. Then she provided a down payment of $200 and promised to pay another $5000 when the job was done.

A few days later, Wein was arrested a few days later for seeking out an assassin. According to the Washington Post, she “pleaded guilty earlier this month to solicitation of murder and using a computer to commit a crime. Under her plea agreement, she faces at least nine years in prison when she is sentenced in January.”

RentAHitman.com was started in 2005 by a businessman in Northern California named Bob Innes. At the time he created his site, Innes was newly graduated from a network security program and thought he might like to start a business testing companies’ online infrastructures for vulnerabilities. “RentAHitman” was a play on words– Innes wasn’t thinking about “hitman” as a person who kills people for money. He was thinking of Internet hits. You know that word “hits”–which can refer to attacking a system as well as online views– not “hitting” a person and taking them out of commission.

The business venture failed, so when Innes finished his network security course, he put the domain up for auction. It didn’t sell, so he just let it go dormant and forgot all about it. Then in 2008, Innes evidently rediscovered the site and decided to check all of the emails. He was amazed by the number of messages he got asking how much he charged for services rendered. He was absolutely flabbergasted that people thought the site was really offering murder for hire and people not only wanted to hire a hitman, but some were looking for employment as hitmen!

Innes didn’t act at the time, since none of the queries he’d received seemed real. But then in 2010, he got a message from a British woman in Canada named Helen who wanted three family members murdered because she claimed they had “bilked her out of her father’s inheritance.” Innes didn’t take the request seriously at first, but when she wrote to him again, he decided to check out the people she wanted axed. He could tell that she was very serious about having them murdered.

Since the British woman in Canada was so serious about intending to kill her relatives, Innes forwarded the information to a cop friend of his, who then called the authorities in Canada. The Canadian cops found Helen, arrested her, and she wound up spending four months locked up for soliciting to commit murder. Then, once she was released from the jug, she was deported back to Britain.

The requests kept coming, so Innes decided to make the site into something that would actually do some good and save lives. He added the service request form in 2014. Seven years later, the site is still going, and still attracting “business” from the clueless. Innes even tries to give people an out before he turns them in. He sends each serious inquirer an email with two questions: Do you still require our services? And do you want me to place you in contact with a field operator? If they answer “yes”, he forwards the information to the cops.

One might think that this article about RentAHitman.com will render the site obsolete, since savvy people will know it’s a bogus site. However, it’s my experience that a lot of people are really stupid… and a lot of people don’t bother to read. And even more people don’t want to pay for newspaper subscriptions. So, it’s my guess that Innes will stay in business for awhile longer.

Moving on… someone has finally done something about the GODAWFUL children’s story, The Giving Tree

In the past, I’ve written a couple of times about how my husband’s ex wife ruined a number of children’s stories and albums with her toxic bullshit. One story that Ex really ruined for Bill was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Ex had a habit of comparing herself to the tree, and Bill to the selfish boy who keeps taking and taking until the tree is reduced to nothing. This is, of course, classic projection, as Bill is one of the least selfish and most decent people I know. But anyway, she used that story to mindfuck Bill, as well as at least one of her children (and really, probably all of them).

This morning, I read that an enterprising playwright and writer named Topher Payne has rewritten the terrible ending to The Giving Tree so that it’s less toxic and fucked up. Payne has a series called Topher Fixed It, and he’s redone a number of children’s stories with questionable messages. I read Topher’s rewrite to Bill and, sure enough, he got all verklempt. He said Ex has also compared their daughter to the Boy in the story.

I remember that she used another children’s book called The Little Soul and the Sun: A Children’s Parable to shame Bill before he deployed to Iraq, and she actually sent the book to him before he left. I got really pissed off because she was, once again, using children’s literature to promote her false toxic agenda. It was very inappropriate for her to do that before he went to war, too. Especially since she refused to let him speak to their daughters. I told him to get rid of the book so I didn’t have to see it, because every time I saw it, I felt the urge to throw it away. So he sent the book back to her with a note that read, “I’m not the one who needs this.”

I’m not actually familiar with the book Ex sent, since it wasn’t one from my childhood. I think it’s about forgiveness. Bill was very hurt that she sent it to him. Anyway, there’s no reason why Bill should not have been allowed to speak to his daughters before he went to war. At the time, one of them was 16, and the other was 13. He could have died over there.

I just want to offer many kudos and congratulations to Topher Payne for his epic project, fixing the more fucked up children’s stories. In our case, it’s personal. Now, Bill might be able to enjoy what should have been an enjoyable and healthy story for children instead of thinking of his mentally ill Ex. I see on Amazon that The Little Soul and the Sun mostly gets good ratings. I suspect that as is the case with The Giving Tree, a lot of people fail to see the damaging message and how it can be used to hurt, rather than heal. One reviewer gets it, though, and posted this:

I found Conversation with God inspirational, but this children’s book is wrong. It gives an example of hurting another being as an act of great love. From “Conversations with God” I understood that hurtful acts are never prearranged agreements, but acts of free choice based on a level of “remembrance of who we are” on a physical plane.

The children’s book went astray. It sends an awfully dangerous message.

Yep. And another person wrote:

The premise of this book is that you wanted to experience individuality, and decided to incarnate with someone else who “loves” you so much they will be cruel to you, so that you can learn how to forgive them.

Isn’t it actually the other way around?

When your loved ones incarnated, somehow along the way they forgot that this reality is supposed to be loving, playful, and creative. So you decided to incarnate and remind them, even if doing so might hurt you, and then you’d go on to live that better reality for yourself and others.

Yeah… real cool of Ex to send this crap to Bill before he went to a war zone. What a bitch. There are so many beloved relics from childhood that Ex has ruined, because she’s used it to promote her toxic agenda and quest to control everyone.

Sorry… anyway, it’s time to close this post. The sun is out, and the boys need a walk, and my mouse needs to recharge… and I need to stop thinking about things that are upsetting. I do love what Topher Payne is doing, though.

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karma, music, psychology

I’m done with mean people…

I ran into a mean person last night. This person is not someone I know personally. He’s an online acquaintance with whom I had traded comments for some time. We also worked on some musical collaborations together. He seemed like an okay person, but then last night he showed me who he really is. And now I’ve decided that I’m done with him.

Have you ever been shocked by someone’s sudden show of mean-spiritedness? And then when you look back on it, you realize that the meanness was always there? This has happened to me a few times in my life. When I was younger, I was big on giving people second chances. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that these types of people almost never change their ways, even if they apologize. Once they show you the ugly, you have to decide whether or not they’re worth the effort. I decided last night, this person was not worth the effort anymore.

To be fair, he had been showing me his true colors for some time. I chose to ignore them because I genuinely admired his talents. But now, I’m afraid he just went too far. He probably won’t care, and may not even notice what I did. Maybe I’m wasting my time even thinking about this, let alone writing a post. But writing helps me clear my head, and I know that some people can relate. It’s as if writing this down is a way of reassuring myself that it’s okay to part ways with someone who shows you what an asshole he is.

Maybe it’s because of Trump that I’ve lost my capacity to deal with mean people anymore. Blessings to Miles Betterman for this perfect musical interlude.

I won’t lie. I was hurt at first. I actually shed a few tears, which I don’t do so often anymore. But then I swallowed the pain, poured myself a beer, and set to work banishing yet another shitty person from my life. And, I have to say, it kind of felt empowering. I should even thank this person, since I woke up feeling like recording a couple of songs. They aren’t perfect, but I think they turned out okay. And it felt good to belt out some tunes. I’d been slacking off on it, working more on guitar. I’m not nearly as good at guitar as I am vocals, but I could say that I should be grateful for the mean person simply because now I am determined to get good enough at playing guitar that I won’t need anyone to collaborate with me anymore. He reminded me of why I started learning how to play guitar. It’s so I can do what I want to, when I want to, and collaborations become a choice, rather than a necessity.

I guess that when it comes down to it, it’s important to realize that the world is full of all kinds of people. Some people are great– empathetic, kind-hearted, and decent. Some people are self-centered shitheads. It’s not a loss to lose one of the shitheads, because he or she will surely be replaced by someone who is better. And even if he or she is not replaced by someone better, life is better without any extra shitheads in it. Life is short, and there’s no need to spend it stroking someone’s fragile ego and tolerating their selfishness.

Yes, please do call…

So, although I never fail to be disappointed when someone shows me that, deep down, they’re mean and nasty, in the long run, I am always happier after I kick them out of my life. I’ll be okay this time, too. At least I have my dogs and my husband, who are never mean to me. And again, I’d like to thank Mr. Meanie, because he inspired me to create new things… alone. I wish him luck in his endeavors. Time to move on.

In other news… Pastor Paula White is in the news, spewing craziness again.

I used to watch her on TBN for fun. She’s completely psycho… and I think she’s worried about losing her job. She’s always been about the money, anyway. I remember watching her do “faith healings” and her goons almost dropped some lady.

She’s praying for a miracle. Clearly, the race can be won by either side, which is also very disappointing. Donald Trump is the Grand Poobah of shitheads, after all. Half the U.S. population doesn’t care that he’s a narcissistic cretin who cares only for himself. That’s very sad to me. But again… you can’t cure stupidity. Even if Trump wins, his very public tantrums as Joe Biden appears poise to kick him out of the White House are a big clue that he’s not worthy of being a leader of the Water Buffaloes, let alone the United States. And that’s why I sang this song for Trump this morning.

I am so fucking tired of Trump.

And then I did this other song, because I’ve been wanting to for awhile…

I would be lucky if I could go to France without worrying about the virus…

Maybe these songs aren’t as good as the originals, but I sure enjoyed singing them today. Maybe someone will enjoy listening… if not, I’ll try again another day.

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karma, politicians, politics, Trump

Trump’s decision to move troops out of Germany…

Have you ever heard the expression “Even a broken clock is correct at least twice a day?” Well… that’s kind of how I was feeling yesterday when I heard the news that Donald Trump plans to move about 12,000 troops out of Germany.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the idea of him reducing the number of troops here in Deutschland. I think it’s a petty and short-sighted plan, and I kind of hope it goes down in flames, along with his bid for re-election. But I must admit I was a little bit tickled to hear the news yesterday. As I read about the people who would most be affected by this plan, I realized that Stuttgart is going to be the most affected of all of the areas in Germany.

European Command (EUCOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM) are both outfits that Bill has worked for in the past. They are both located in Stuttgart, and they employ thousands of American people. If those two commands are moved out of Stuttgart, that will mean that there will be significantly fewer American military folks and civilians in Stuttgart. The military folks who are based there with the remaining tenants will probably almost all end up living on the installations, and the number of civilians who are ineligible to live on the installations, but need a place to live, will be in shorter supply.

Stuttgart has four local installations, one of which is entirely used for housing. So moving EUCOM and AFRICOM would mean that most people who are in the military, working in Stuttgart, will not need to rent accommodations on the economy. What few American civilians remain will be in far shorter supply than usual, and that will mean they’ll probably rent places closer to their workplaces, and more will be available to them, because of the decreased demand. It could mean rental prices will be forced down, and many fewer landlords will have the opportunity to blatantly rip off “ignorant Americans” of their deposits when they move out of their rental properties. I understand that practice among some landlords is at an epidemic level down there.

Now… this plan of Trump’s is hardly engraved in stone. Whether or not it happens as he envisions it will depend on if he’s re-elected and if he literally survives after he’s re-elected, as more and more government representatives are testing positive for COVID-19 and telling their staffers about it in person. It’s also going to be very expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome undertaking to initiate this plan. Housing and other infrastructure will have to be constructed in the areas in which he wants to move troops. Italy and Belgium, by the way, pay even less toward their own defense than Germany does, so his complaints about Germany not paying its share of defense expenses, while basically true, are kind of based in bullshit. Is he going to demand that Italy and Belgium pay up, too? I doubt it. I think Trump is simply holding a grudge, and/or doing Putin’s bidding. I also doubt either Italy or Belgium is especially interested in having more Americans living there.

Germans seem less interested in seeing Americans leave. It’s true… we’ve been here a long time and we pump money into the economy and add security against Russia (although Trump is awfully cozy with Putin). The infrastructure is already here and we already have a longstanding relationship with Germans.

Our landlord has approached Bill on multiple occasions, wanting to know what our plans are. In fact, when we went to Poland a few months ago, he thought we were going there to house hunt. Nope… it was just for a conference and I tagged along because it was our wedding anniversary. I wouldn’t be averse to living in Poland, Italy, Belgium, or Spain, but I like Germany very much, and I’m not particularly hoping for a move anytime soon. At the very least, I’d like to stay out of the United States because I don’t wish to catch the coronavirus.

Besides… these things take time, especially when the world is ever changing. I know that RAF Mildenhall in England, which is where my father did his last assignment in the 1970s, has been slated for closure since 2015. It was supposed to shut down in 2020. Then they pushed it to 2023. Guess what. It’s still up and running. At this point, they’re predicting it will close in 2027. I won’t hold my breath.

Fortunately, it appears that not only is Bill doing good work in Wiesbaden, but none of the groups based in Wiesbaden were mentioned as areas where troops would be cut. So our current landlord, at least for now, can rest easy. Stuttgart area landlords who especially prefer renting to Americans, however, might soon have some cause for concern, especially since some of the moves may be happening within the coming weeks. Some of them might want to re-evaluate the way they do business or, perhaps, get out of the business of renting to “cash cow” Americans affiliated with the military for good. I know of at least one person who should really consider that option.

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