communication, family, holidays, karma

Thanksgiving thoughts… or, why I like holidays in Germany.

Here’s another too personal, introspective story about my psyche, and why I am the way I am. It’s probably not very interesting, but it’s what’s on my mind. The featured photo is of me in 1979, visiting Granny’s house. It was probably for my maternal grandfather’s funeral. I see there’s snow on the ground, but I’m not wearing a jacket. Seems pretty much par for the course. 😉

Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. I grew up going to my Granny’s house in Natural Bridge, Virginia, where my dad and his brothers and sisters were raised in a cool farmhouse by two creeks and surrounded by mountains. Granny died in 2007, but my Uncle Brownlee and Aunt Gayle have kept the tradition going. We lost Brownlee in 2019, which was very sad for me. Brownlee was probably my favorite relative. Gayle and my cousins are still throwing the annual shindig, which will no doubt include good food, dancing, singing, live music, and card playing… and probably some beer drinking. I wish I could be there, but for obvious reasons, I can’t… And actually, given the politics that are going on right now, maybe it’s for the best. I come from a long line of Trump admirers. 😉

Today, we’ve been invited to go to one of Bill’s co-worker’s homes for Thanksgiving. This guy is kind of special, because he’s someone Bill knew when they were both in the Army back in the late 80s. They served in Germany together, back when they were young and single. Now they work together again, and get along great. It was because of Bill’s co-worker that we were able to spend our 20th anniversary together in France and seeing James Taylor perform. Otherwise, Bill would have been in Las Vegas at a conference.

Bill will repay the favor to his friend for Christmas, since we almost never go anywhere for the holidays. The lone exception was 2019, when my hometown friend, Audra, invited us to France. She lives there, but we met in Gloucester, Virginia, when we were in high school. I have another hometown friend who lives in Stuttgart now. We met in the third grade at Botetourt Elementary School, in Gloucester. Sometimes I wonder if my hometown friends moved to Europe for the same reasons I did. I suspect at least one of them did. 😉

The funny thing is, I think we only spent one Thanksgiving in Gloucester out of the 19 years I lived there (Mom and Dad lived there for about 29 years). The rest were spent at Granny’s house… except for one year I went to a former friend’s house. I was 17 years old at the time. I remember my dad gave me a ration of shit for staying home that year, even though there were many times when he acted like, and even outright stated, that he couldn’t stand me. He was mostly concerned about what other people would say, worried that he would “look bad”.

I called my mom yesterday. She sounded terrible. She said she thought she had a cold, having been out with some friends of hers. She said she tested for COVID and the result was negative. Frankly, I suspect she didn’t wait long enough, especially since she said she had no energy. But aside from having a scratchy voice, she didn’t sound super sick. And she said she would be making herself a Thanksgiving dinner and eating it alone, since she doesn’t know what illness she has. She has plans to go to my sister’s house for Christmas next month.

We mostly had a good talk. She said she enjoyed my song for Bill… the one I did last month, not the more recent “Secret O’ Life”. Then, as I was about to sign off, she said she would like to see me. But then she said, “I know that won’t happen, though.”

I said, “I never said I wouldn’t come home. I said I didn’t know when we could come.” She hasn’t specifically asked me to come home, either… although maybe she asked my sister to invite me to Christmas. I had to decline because of Arran’s chemo, and because boarding the dogs at this late date would be a challenge.

Mom said she loved me and to take care of Bill and the dogs. Then we ended the call.

When our call ended, I kind of sat there dumbfounded. My mom isn’t usually one to pull guilt trips. It’s one of the things I like about her. She’s very pragmatic. I have explained to her that I find family gatherings very stressful and overwhelming. But I also remember how, when I needed understanding and support as a young woman with crippling anxiety and depression, she kept telling me she wanted me to leave. I actually wanted to leave, too. No one wanted me to move out more than I wanted to be gone. But she was very vocal and impatient about it. Now, that I’m gone, she wants me to come back again.

I am grateful that she and my dad let me stay in their home when I needed treatment for depression and anxiety… although I probably could have used that treatment when I was still a minor. A lot of it was caused by growing up in a very dysfunctional, alcoholic home, and having parents who made it clear to me that I had disappointed them. I know they love(d) me in their own ways… but breaking out of that place was very hard to do, and one of the best things I’ve ever done.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized a lot of things… maybe I’ve just become pragmatic like my mom is. I realize people are often disappointing on many levels. One of the great things about being an adult is that you don’t have to stick around or show up for disappointing people. I don’t like being around people who can’t accept me for who I am. My mom is probably more willing to accept me now, since we’re both a lot older… and I’m happily married and no longer a burden to her. I’m still a little traumatized by the past, even though it’s been 8 years since I was last “home”. I don’t want to spend hours on a plane to go back into a toxic situation. That’s less likely with my mom than it would be with my mom and my sisters together. But there’s still a risk.

I would like to see some of my family members. Some of them would probably like to see me. I would like to see my mom, too. I know I’m running out of time. But it’s kind of like making an appointment to see a doctor. Sometimes, it’s what you have to do for your own good, even if it might be unpleasant. I could probably use a doctor’s appointment, too. I have never been one for taking care of my physical health, because it wasn’t really a priority back when I was a child. It’s easier to stay where I am and just ignore everything…

Anyway… I’m sure we’ll have a good time with Bill’s friend. He lives in a beautiful home, and I remember him to be a lot of fun. Hopefully, Arran won’t get into any trouble while we’re out. I’ll still miss my family today. I do love them. Maybe someday, I can go home again. It’s not going to happen this year, though.

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karma, lessons learned, narcissists, politicians, politics, scams, stupid people, Trump

“You need to pay…”

Last night, Bill and I listened to more of Bob Woodward’s Audible book, The Trump Tapes. I’m hoping we’ll finish it tonight, mainly because I hate listening to Donald Trump speak, but also because I look forward to reviewing Woodward’s work. One thing that immediately sticks out to me is that Trump was amazingly forthcoming to this respected member of the press. And Woodward, like any good interviewer, does his best to stroke Trump’s ego, which of course, works like a charm. Trump, like so many narcissistic dictator types before him, loves an audience, and he loves to be stroked. As long as you’re stroking, he’s talking… and Woodward is an expert at extracting information and recording it. So that part of the book is interesting, even as I cringe listening to Trump’s gravelly voice with its weird, sing-songy cadence, and constant spew of bullshit.

Another thing that sticks out to me about The Trump Tapes is that Trump’s focus was almost entirely about money. At one point, he talks about a discussion with the Saudi Arabian king, in which he tells the king “You need to pay…” He was talking about the king needing to pay the United States for military security. He sounded like a mafia boss. I might have been impressed with Trump’s shameless appeal for money, except I know that Trump doesn’t like to pay for things. He has a long list of former lawyers, contractors, and employees who weren’t fully paid or paid at all for their services. Trump seems to think that the so-called “prestige” for working with him ought to be enough. He doesn’t see that if you don’t take care of your people, they won’t take care of you… at least not willingly.

A couple of years ago, I read and reviewed Disloyal, a book written by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen, like so many others who have worked with Trump, eventually learned that working for Trump will lead to misery and losses. Cohen admitted in his book that his job was mostly about getting Trump out of having to pay for things and using legal muscle to keep people in line. For this work, he was paid less than what he was used to earning. He also had to be at Trump’s beck and call, and it was not at all unusual for Trump to interrupt Cohen’s personal time with phone calls and demands for last minute jobs. In his book, Cohen wrote that Trump never pays full price for anything.

Cohen once admired Trump, and wanted to be like him. But he made the mistake of thinking that Trump would respect him and see him as an equal. Cohen, for all of his legal acumen, did not understand narcissism, and he fell for Trump’s charm. Then later, he realized that to Trump, Cohen was a mere tool to be used at his sole discretion. Cohen paid for his tenure as Trump’s legal lackey with prison time and the loss of his license to practice law. However, I have seen Cohen making the rounds all over YouTube, and he has a new book out called Revenge. I will read Cohen’s next book, because even though I think Cohen is pretty narcissistic himself, he’s entertaining. I also enjoy hearing him throw Trump under the bus. Cohen may have lost his legal career, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank as he generates a career selling out the guy who sold him out repeatedly. Perhaps, in his own way, he’s finally making Trump pay.

This topic comes up today as I look at my Facebook memories from October 27, 2018. Four years ago, Bill and I were in the midst of house hunting, as we made plans to move from Jettingen, Germany to Wiesbaden. At the time, we were renting a house from someone who later reminded me a bit of Trump on many levels. I was feeling psychologically unhinged, due to the passive and active aggressive harassment and false allegations lobbed at us by the ex landlady, whom I knew full well would try to rip off our deposit. Four years ago, I was anxious and upset, and there was a lot of adrenaline building as we geared up to stand up for our rights in a country that is foreign to us.

For the first time ever in our married life, Bill and I were very picky about which house and landlord we would accept. We saw seven houses before we finally decided on the one we’re in, which was the last house we viewed. We are paying a lot for this house, but it’s been worth it. Our current landlord treats us fairly and with respect, and this house is a lot more to my liking than the other one was. So we don’t mind paying, even if it is a lot more than what we used to pay. And, in the end, our former landlady also had to pay.

I read my blog post from October 27, 2018. It was partly about something I saw on The Angry Bartender’s page. Someone had decided that they were “too drunk to tip”, and promised they’d tip the next time they visited. Having worked in the restaurant industry myself, I had sympathy for the bartender, even though I don’t care for the tipping custom myself. I mean, I absolutely DO tip where tipping is the norm. I just think it would be better if paying staff wasn’t passed off to customers. I prefer the way tipping is in Germany, where servers and bartenders are expected to be paid by the people who hired them, and tipping truly is a token of gratitude from the customer, rather than an obligation. However– in the USA right now, tipping is expected in most places. And if you’re too drunk to do math, then you probably shouldn’t be exiting a bar without an escort, especially if you can’t walk to wherever it is you’re sleeping. My guess is that the Uber driver isn’t going to want to be stiffed on a tip, either.

Some people on that post were saying that the bartender ought to report the non tipping patron to the police. Naturally, someone else was outraged by that idea, and said so in the comments. From my post four years ago:

I read the comments and one woman suggested getting the person’s license plate number and calling the cops, telling them the person left the bar too drunk to drive.  Another commenter left an irate shaming comment about how jacked up it is to “fuck up someone’s life” just because they didn’t tip.  But think about this for a minute.  This person was too drunk to do math.  If he or she was so intoxicated that tipping properly was too much of a challenge, he or she was certainly too intoxicated to drive.  And people who are that drunk have no right to “fuck up” or end an innocent person’s life by driving drunk.

I continue to be amazed by some people’s senses of entitlement. I see it every day on any newspaper comment section on Facebook, where people constantly complain about paywalls. One guy wrote this:

Why do you post this if only subscribers can read it? You should create a close[d] group only for subscribers.

People pointed out to the guy that if he was reading so many articles that he’d used up his free limit, he needed to become a subscriber. The guy came back with more nasty, entitled spew, as he didn’t seem to realize that he obviously values the paper’s articles enough to read them. But he doesn’t want to pay for the news, even though good journalism is a profession that takes training, expertise, and a fair amount of natural talent. Isn’t that worth paying for? Journalists have bills to pay, too, and it takes money, training, and time to bring you the news. I want to ask the complaining guy if he works for free. Better yet, is he one of those people who resents people who don’t work? Writing the news is a job. People who work jobs should be paid. Newspapers and other media outlets generate money through subscriptions and advertising. You want to read it? You need to pay.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Trump. I see a number of people are trying to hold him accountable. In the past, he’s been eel-like in his ability to slip out of financial obligations. He seems friendly and energizing to those who stroke his ego, but people don’t seem to understand that what they’re seeing is simply superficial charm. There is no substance to it. I listen to Trump act like he and Bob Woodward are great friends, but then Woodward went on to write books about what a dishonest slimeball Trump is, and how his administration was dogged by constant chaos and lies. Woodward is polite and respectful to Trump, not getting offended when he doesn’t let him get a word in edgewise. He gets the story by letting Trump speak for himself. Listening to The Trump Tapes is painful on many levels, and yet we can hear straight from the man’s mouth what a lying grifter he is. He’s someone who never wants to pick up the check, as he tells other people “You need to pay.”

It’s not lost on me that Bob Woodward’s Audible book is coming out just before the midterm elections. I hope it has the right effect on enough people. I don’t think we can afford another Trump term. It’s time Trump paid for his fun, instead of pushing the check on to the American public. It’s time that we, as a society, told Trump, “You need to pay.”

Hopefully, I’ll be ready to write a real review of The Trump Tapes soon. For now, it’s time to do my usual Thursday chores, which now includes taking Arran to the vet for his chemo. Cheerio!

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condescending twatbags, karma, politicians, politics, Uncategorized

It’s not such a good week for Matt Gaetz…

Years ago, the late comedian George Carlin made me roar with laughter when he mused, “Have you noticed that people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place? There’s such balance in nature!” A few more years passed, and he used the joke again in a later routine. See below.

This is from 1996, but he used this joke even earlier than that.

I couldn’t help but think of my old hero, George Carlin, when I read the news about vile Florida Republican Representative, Matt Gaetz, who twisted Carlin’s joke. Last weekend, Gaetz was at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, where he reportedly quipped “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb,” Gaetz said to his conservative audience. “These people are odious from the inside out. They’re like 5’2″, 350 pounds, and they’re like ‘Give me my abortions or I’ll get up and march and protest.’” I guess he figures the students at that rally weren’t around when Carlin did that joke much better than he did.

What a disgusting man Gaetz is. This clip has more of what Gaetz actually said, and it’s even worse than I realized.

Um… wow. This is the same guy who is being investigated by the Justice Department over allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution, including involving a minor. Mr. Gaetz also has a mugshot dating from 2008, when he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While he was evidently never convicted for DUI, his mugshot is still available online. Gaetz refused the breath test when he was stopped, and for some reason, his driver’s license was not suspended. The refusal to take the breath test was not used against him in court, and the charges were dropped. The officer who arrested him was forced to resign. It may be worth mentioning that Gaetz is the son of a prominent former Florida politician, Don Gaetz. In fact, then 26 year old Matt was driving his daddy’s car when he got pulled over after having spent the evening at a nightclub. The arresting officer smelled booze on Gaetz and noted his disheveled appearance. Gaetz said that the officer harassed and threatened him.

Gaetz now claims that he’s being targeted and harassed over the sex trafficking claim. He said:

“Over the past several weeks my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals,”

Yeah, I believe that Matt Gaetz is as pure as the driven snow… NOT. And he did make some really disgusting misogynistic comments at the summit in Tampa, prompting a 19 year old woman named Olivia Julianna to tweet criticisms of Representative Gaetz, a man currently being investigated for sex trafficking, as he calls out so-called “fat and ugly” abortion activists, whom he says need to march and eat more salad. I say “Clean up your own yard, Gaetz”.

In retaliation for Olivia Julianna’s tweets against his disgusting comments about pro-choice women, Gaetz body shamed Olivia Julianna, sharing a picture of her and his awful comments on Twitter. Then he encouraged his followers to harass her, and thousands of them did. Olivia Julianna responded by announcing a fundraiser for Gen Z for Change, a 500 member youth led non-profit group that addresses issues that disproportionately affected young people.

When it became clear that Gaetz’s bullying campaign against her was a big failure, Olivia Julianna tweeted this response.

And she didn’t stop there. Olivia Julianna also wittily tweeted, “Am I not a little too old for you Matt? I know you have a thing for targeting teenagers but 19 is on the cusp don’t you think?” 

In a subsequent tweet, she continued:

Olivia Julianna went on to raise over $1 million for Gen Z for Change. The donated money will be divided among 50 abortion rights funds. She did a pretty good job turning misogynistic hate into something useful.

I love how sassily Olivia Julianna handed Gaetz his ass, posting: “Dear Matt, Although your intentions were hateful, your public shaming of my appearance has done nothing but benefit me,” she wrote after his tweet about her spurred a load of harassment from Gaetz’s Twitter followers — as well as a flood of donations to her reproductive rights advocacy organization. She’s also gained thousands of new Twitter followers, including yours truly.

Why anyone is listening to Matt Gaetz, let alone voting for him, is beyond me. But I guess it’s proof that in the United States, if you’re lucky and hitch your star to the right people, being reprehensible won’t stop you from being successful at something. I think that’s especially true in places where there’s a lot of good old boy cronyism and nepotism going on. It’s especially telling that Gaetz can’t even come up with his own jokes. He has to twist and bastardize a classic joke from George Carlin, a much revered and beloved comedian, who, if he was still living, would have an absolute field day with what’s happening right now.

Gaetz really isn’t having a good week, anyway. At that same summit in Tampa, Gaetz went after Mike Pence, saying:

“Our America is proudly ultra MAGA, not some low energy roadside RINO safari,” said Gaetz, referring to a derogatory term for so-called moderate Republicans. “On that note, let me just say what everyone here knows: Mike Pence will never be president. Nice guy, not a leader.”

Bwahahaha… what Gaetz knows about “nice guys” would fill a thimble. I’m not a fan of Mike Pence’s in any sense, but I do love what, Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff said in response:

“Well, I don’t know if Mike Pence will run for president in 2024, but I don’t think Matt Gaetz will have an impact on that. In fact, I’d be surprised if he’s still voting. It’s more likely he’ll be in prison for child trafficking by 2024.

And I’m actually surprised the Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that. So, I’m not too worried what Matt Gaetz thinks.”

Yes, that’s a pretty good burn… However, I am forever disturbed by the fact that reprobates like Matt Gaetz get into power and have political platforms that influence laws for all of us. He’s clearly not a good person. He has no honor. He’s not even nice on the surface. Naturally, he’s probably one of Trump’s favorite guys and biggest sycophants.

Gaetz has been vocal about his opposition to abortion and voted against two bills that would have ensured access to abortion. He’s been criticized for saying that those protesting the overturning of Roe v. Wade are “overeducated, under-loved millennials.” (ahem, I am a member of Gen X, thank you VERY much!) It surprises me that Matt Gaetz is so “pro-life”, yet he has no problem trying to tear down people who have already been born, and have thoughts and feelings that can be affected by what he says. Kudos to Olivia Julianna for having plenty of moxie and a sharp wit. I think she’s going to go far in her heels as she stomps all over Matt Gaetz’s pathetic, privileged, and perverted ass. I look forward to cheering her on!

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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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