blog news, language, musings, true crime

I need to work on my titles, don’t I?

I’ve never been very good at coming up with good titles for my posts. Sometimes, that means I get fewer readers than I might. Other times, my posts end up being more “click baity” than I would prefer. I think my posts on my travel blog have better titles, mainly because they are usually about something specific. I get tons of hits on my posts about attending nude spas, for instance.

I’ll also admit that sometimes, I deliberately title something a certain way to yank people’s chains. There’s a post on my travel blog titled “Enjoying some extra dick tonight”. I know what it sounds like… but it’s actually about extra thick pommes. In German, “dick” means thick. So, when I buy extra thick frozen fries at the store, it literally says “extra dick” on the packaging! I’m sure more than one person has been disappointed that the post isn’t pornographic, but it IS a travel blog. The blog’s title itself mentions “travel”, so they probably shouldn’t be expecting anything sexy.

I did something similar a few years ago, when I saw a stray cat walking through our rural yard in North Carolina. I titled the post, “Looking for pussy…” or something like that. Sure enough, people clicked. There are a lot of pervs out there. 😉 And I’m sure they were sad that I wrote about actual cats instead of what they were obviously looking for. It was a very short post, and my good friend, Alex, even left me a comment congratulating me on the “clever word play”. Mwahahaahaha! Because it’s such a short post, I’ll even repost it here, for the curious…

Looking for pussy…

No, not THAT kind of pussy.  I was just sitting at my desk and noticed a black cat cutting through the yard.  I decided to go outside to see where it was headed, but by the time I got out the front door, the kitty was gone.  It’s just as well, I guess.  My hounds would love to go out there and chase that cat and Bill is allergic to them anyway.

I came back inside and Bill asked me if I went looking for the cat and I said I was looking for pussy.  That made him laugh.  The dogs were whining up a storm and Arran brought me a toy when I came back inside.  That’s one of his more adorable doggy behaviors.  Whenever anyone comes home, even if it’s just after a few minutes or so, he responds by giving them one of his chewed up toys.  In this case, he brought me a stuffed duck that makes a quacking sound when you squeeze it.  All of my dogs have loved the stuffed duck toys… probably even more than they love the toy squirrels I’ve brought them.

The packers are coming to pack up our house on July 23rd and will load the truck on the 25th.  I guess we’ll leave on the 26th or 27th and start our long ass drive to San Antonio. 

I bet this blog post will get a lot of hits because I used the word pussy…  People have such dirty minds. 

In other news, this post is my 700th.  I’ve been a busy little beaver.  😉

This was very interesting, since I had never seen an armadillo before… not even in a zoo! And it was in Georgia, not Texas. Our dogs went NUTS.

I included the above video of an armadillo I filmed when we lived in Georgia, then added to the end of the above post, “Or, since we’re moving to Texas, I should say I’ve been a busy armadillo.

Arran doesn’t bring us toys anymore, mainly because we no longer give him free access to them. That’s mostly Noyzi’s fault, because Noyzi has been known to eat toys, and we don’t want to have to have them surgically extracted. But, when we give Arran a toy, he will still play with it for a minute or two. Then he demands a treat.

This post seems really random, but I do have a point to make…

I need to get better at coming up with post titles, because sometimes the titles I come up with encourage people to comment before they read. And, as some of my regulars know, that’s one of my pet peeves. It happened the other day, actually. I wrote a post called “But we really don’t need gun control, do we?” I included a screenshot of the sign for Richneck Elementary School, where a six year old child deliberately shot his 25 year old teacher last Friday. At this writing, that post has just nine hits.

I have a whole lot of friends who are teachers. One of them commented on my Facebook link for that post. Below was our exchange:

I think I gleaned more than my friend bargained for when I read her comments.

My friend must have thought my post was a liberal and impersonal rant about gun control, based only on the post’s title. For the record, I do think we need more gun control in the United States. I don’t see how we can continue to go on the way we have, where people don’t feel safe carrying out their usual tasks of the day, because they don’t know who is packing heat.

When I titled that post, I was thinking about how absolutely terrifying it is that a six year old CHILD got his hands on a firearm and KNEW HOW TO USE IT! He was skilled enough that he could aim that gun at a teacher and seriously injure her. And he carried the weapon into the school and pointed it at a beautiful 25 year old woman who was just doing her job. By so many accounts, Abby Zwerner is a much beloved and respected teacher. She could have been killed by a six year old. How scary is that? And then I found out that I’m actually kind of connected to Abby, simply because I lived and worked for so many years in the area where she lives.

In my original post about that incident, I mentioned that Abby and I have a mutual Facebook friend. She teaches in a city near where I grew up, and where I still have a lot of friends. I was born in Hampton, Virginia, which is adjacent to Newport News, where Abby teaches.

It turns out our mutual Facebook friend is a woman I knew in high school. We were in a lot of classes together. I used to sit with her at lunch, when we were ourselves students in public high school, back in the 80s. I remember her stepmother was a substitute teacher, getting her own teaching credentials. Abby’s aunt, my high school friend, is also a teacher with a doctoral degree who teaches in the same geographical area. One of her best friends is an Air Force colonel, who also went to school with us. I just got a Christmas card from her the other day.

So now, I feel even more connected to that incident, even though I moved out of the Tidewater area of Virginia about 23 years ago. It’s still “home”, even though I don’t really have a home to go to down there anymore. Not only do I still know a lot of people from that area, but I also have connections because of so many of my friends– people who have never lived in the Hampton Roads area– who are teachers. And what happened to Abby, could have happened to any one of them. I’m sure all of my teaching friends are feeling a special kind of terror about this case.

My dear friend who wrote the above comments is very special to me. I would be absolutely DEVASTATED if she got seriously hurt while on the job, never mind if she was killed. She doesn’t teach in Newport News, but she is a Virginia teacher. I can’t even fathom how scared she must be to read about gun violence in schools. Because of where I went to college, I know a lot of teachers. I remember watching them prepare for their careers in our dormitories at Longwood University. Their coursework often involved a lot of reading, papers, and tests, as well as complicated art projects. I never even knew what contact paper was until I went to Longwood and made friends with budding teachers. They were constantly using it to make learning aids for their students.

There is so much preparation and dedication involved with becoming a teacher. It’s a lot of work for not that much money… but at least in the early 90s, there weren’t constant gun related events in schools. In those days, my friends were blissfully unaware of the bloodshed that was coming to America’s schools from 1999 onward. My friends who became teachers all have one thing in common. They are kind, caring, creative people who love working with young people. But now, they have to fear for their lives as they do their jobs. My friend wasn’t the only teacher who wrote about how teachers get blamed when kids do crazy things. Another former high school classmate– not someone I was friends with– wrote something similar about the crisis in public schools.

Maybe I don’t really want people to read what I write…

There is a certain freedom in writing things that people don’t think they want to read. I do use a headline analyzer, which gives me a “score” that shows how “good” my titles are. I aim for the green score, which I usually manage to attain, even though my post titles are often kind of cryptic.

After years of writing blog posts, I’ve come to realize that there’s a certain freedom in not giving too much away in a post title. I’ve frequently mentioned that I don’t write this stuff for money, so I don’t necessarily want to upset people. Sometimes I do make people angry, and they have a right to their feelings. I don’t want to deal with hate mail, though, nor do I want to be targeted by criminals. True crime posts often invite lurkers, which is unnerving. I’d rather my readers be people who know and like me, than the random person who jumps to conclusions.

So… maybe, for my mental and physical health, my post titles should stay the way they are… But then, that might lead to people continuing to assume things before they’ve read. I don’t think my friend has yet read the post she referenced. If she had read it, she’d know that I don’t blame teachers for what that little boy did. I don’t even necessarily blame the kid. The adults in his life have failed him. At least we know that he won’t be going to juvenile hall… at least not for this crime. He’s too young. But he probably will end up in foster care, which may or may not be a good thing. Foster care is a mixed bag. If that boy doesn’t get some serious help, he may very well go to juvie soon… and that will probably lead to prison.

Anyway… I’ve found that I often have connections to the things I write about, and that’s what compels me to blog. I want to put my thoughts down somewhere. I don’t mind when people read, especially if they get something good from my insights. However, I also don’t want to be a target. So… maybe these crappy blog post titles are really just a form of cowardice. Maybe it’s time I stopped blogging for the public. Or maybe I should just write book reviews, although even those can be controversial. I wouldn’t be able to post every day, either.

Today’s post probably won’t necessarily attract a lot of readers. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But I do feel better for having written today. I hope one or two people enjoyed my insights, such as they are. Or… at least had occasion to think about them a little bit…

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book reviews, language

Reposted book review: Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing

While I’m reposting blog entries, here’s another book review I wrote for the now defunct review site, Epinions.com, on September 17, 2013. Just reposting it so I don’t lose it forever.

Mood music for this post… Fair warning that it’s not safe for work!

Yesterday, while hanging out on Facebook, I lamented to my fellow books top reviewers here on Epinions that my latest reading project, Melissa Mohr’s 2013 book Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, was taking forever to read.  A few hours later, I had finished the book after a couple of weeks of reading.  Though I did complain to my husband, Bill, about all the profanity in The Big Lebowski when we watched it the other night, I have to admit that I enjoy swearing.  I don’t understand why so many people get upset over so-called filthy language.  For me, the swearing in The Big Lebowski had gotten annoying because it was the same words uttered over and over again and had become boring.  It wasn’t so much because the “f-word” itself is offensive to me.

Melissa Mohr, whose book was introduced to me on Facebook by famously foul mouthed singer, producer, and radio host, Red Peters, has attempted to explain where swearing comes from.  In her book, Holy Sh*t, she explains the history behind some of the dirtiest words in English, linking history, literature, and even art and providing a comprehensive and scholarly explanation behind words like f*ck, c*nt, sh*t, and even the “n-word”. 

The curious student in me lapped up all this new information enthusiastically, though not without effort.  I appreciated the way Mohr married history and current events to write a lucid discussion of the origin of swear words and curses.  This is a great book for foul mouthed nerds. 

I was surprised that the overall negative attitude about cursing seems to have evolved relatively recently.  I was particularly interested in Mohr’s discussion about the so-called n-word, which has gotten a number of people in trouble lately.  We’ve become so sensitized to that word that even using words that sound similar, like niggle and niggardly, neither of which have any racist connotations at all, can get a person fired or forced to resign from their job.  Mohr relates that scandalous word to hate speech and provides an interesting discussion about court cases in which using that word could be considered “hate speech” that is not protected under the First Amendment, and when it’s simply rude.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it took me a long time and considerable effort to get through this book.  While I did find Mohr’s writing scholarly and competent, I didn’t find it especially entertaining.  Holy Sh*t really is an academic look at cursing.  Mohr did an admirable job researching and providing notes so readers who want to study more about the phenomenon of swear words can read on in other scholarly books.  It’s not so much a book intended to entertain as it is to inform, although I’m sure many readers are able to be both as they read Mohr’s history of swearing.

Frankly, I have done a lot of studying in my lifetime and am somewhat less interested in academic books than I might have been when I was younger.  On the other hand, I can’t deny that I learned a lot reading Holy Sh*t and it was ultimately worth the effort.  There was a time long ago when people thought nothing of cursing.  Mohr explains why we suddenly had “words we couldn’t say on television” and why some people determined that people who cuss are “lazy”, “uneducated”, and “low class”.  She enlightens those of us who wonder why we have “bad words” and who determined that those words are bad. 

This is a good book for people who love language.  If you have any English majors on your Christmas list, this might be a great book for them to read; if they aren’t offended by profanity, anyway.  It certainly was good reading for this former English major, even though I’m trying to read less lofty books these days.

I give it four stars.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, Germany, healthcare, language, politics, psychology, social media, social welfare

Am I really that “funny” to some people?

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of puzzled about how I seem to come across to people. I know that sometimes people find me funny. Sometimes, they even find me funny at appropriate times, like when I make an obviously humorous comment. But then, sometimes I find puzzling laughter reactions to things that aren’t meant to be funny.

For instance, yesterday, I shared an old photo of Bill and me at a beer spa. We were in a tub shaped like a keg with a beer spigot next to it. I suppose that could be kind of funny… but it was actually more awesome than humorous. Several people laughed at it. When I asked what was funny, no one responded. I wasn’t necessarily offended by the laugh reactions to that photo. I was just confused by them. I don’t see what’s funny about a couple sitting in a beer spa keg, especially since we weren’t naked.

I did get some laugh reactions at another post, though, that I did find kind of obnoxious. I have ranted a few times on this blog about how certain people in the United States like to tell me how life is in Germany. It’s usually conservatives who do this. They have this idea that Germany is a dystopian communist hellhole, where people are paying taxes out the ass, living in tiny boxes, can’t get medical care, and are subjected to death panels by Muslim terrorists. And yet, my guess is that most of them have never so much as ever left the United States. Or, if they did, they didn’t stay away long enough to understand that life can be good outside of the United States.

The mocking, derisive effect of the laughing emoji is annoying enough when it comes from strangers. It’s actually kind of hurtful when it comes from “friends”. Below is something I wrote in September 2019, after having a very frustrating discussion with a friend of a friend, who was convinced that no one in Germany feels safe, because people don’t walk around with guns here. She stated that she knew Muslims were taking over Germany, and that life here is a nightmare. And she was saying this from Dallas, Texas!

Twice this week, Trump supporters in the USA have tried to tell me how things are in Germany. I have heard how unsafe I am, how I can’t get medical care, how Muslims run everything, crime is rampant, and no one is allowed to have weapons. Do I really look like I have no ability to draw my own conclusions about what life is like over here? Folks, Germany is a nice place to be. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s pretty good, despite those pesky “socialist” policies that make healthcare and higher education affordable and guns more difficult to obtain.

I swear, I must come off as just plain dumb to some people. I don’t get it.

I shared this again, because it still happens regularly. I was completely serious when I wrote it, and when I shared it as a memory. Yet some friends “laughed” at me for this. People who don’t know me presume to tell me how bad it is where I live. What’s especially strange is when they assume I’m not American, and lecture me about life in rural America. It’s inconceivable to some US citizens that anyone can be happy beyond the shores of the United States. Especially a fellow citizen! It’s like– how in the world can one stand to be away from the most fabulous country in the world?

Uh… yeah. A country where people are still screaming about an election that happened two years ago, in which a delusional and obvious narcissist LOST… and on his way out of the White House, which he had threatened to refuse to leave, he STOLE highly classified documents and took them home! A country where children have to learn how to behave in case some unhinged young man with a gun comes in and opens fire on them. A country where more and more states are denying physicians the right to practice their profession without speaking to a lawyer first… and women are being denied the right to choose whether or not they want to be pregnant. A country where we speak of freedom and the right to pursue happiness, while in practice, people who aren’t conventional are pushed to the peripheries– their rights and personal safety threatened regularly. A country where a hell of a lot of people think anyone who has their well being in mind should be sent to prison. A country where a large segment of the population are incarcerated and treated inhumanely!

I could go on… but I think you get the point. It’s not that I don’t love my country. I do. I am proud to be American. But it’s really not the most awesome place there is. There are other countries where life is very good, and even preferable, to some people– Americans included. Personally, I like the lifestyle in Europe much more than I do the US lifestyle. I like the fact that people here don’t obsess so much over work. People take vacations, spend time with their families, enjoy hobbies and clubs, and engage with their communities. New parents can take paid time off to take care of their babies, rather than handing them off to a childcare facility after six weeks. And yes, it’s a huge plus that there’s a lot less violence here.

I’m not saying life here is perfect. It’s not. There are global issues that affect life here as much as they do in the United States. Sometimes I really miss my friends and family back home. I miss being able to do things easily, simply because I can easily speak and read the language. I miss certain foods, and having things like a big kitchen, closets, and the ability to buy a king sized American mattress with ease. I miss being able to go to the beach without spending ages in the car. But, by and large, it’s been nice to live in Europe. I like it here. I think this experience has forever changed me, too.

A few years ago, Bill and I attended a Christmas market in our village, and we met a German lady with an adorable little shih tzu dog, who was wearing a t-shirt that read “Security”. The lady spoke excellent English, and explained to us that she had lived in Tennessee for years, having worked for the drinks company, Seagrams. When we told her about how we’d been in Germany for years, she smiled with recognition and said, “Well, you’ll never be the same again. When you go back to the US, you’ll be too European.”

She’s right, of course. Every time I live abroad, I’m irrevocably changed. This latest stint has been the most life altering. Sometimes, I wonder if I can stand the idea of moving back to the US. Other times, I think that of course I can. That’s my home. But living over here has opened my eyes to its many shortcomings. Why is that funny to some people?

I think social media has really made people more thoughtless and callous, anyway. I started my morning today by blocking a young lady named “Ashlie” who left a rude response to a comment I had left about Dr. Fauci, who had just announced his retirement. I expressed support for Dr. Fauci, because I think he’s done some incredible work for humanity. His job has truly been thankless, because there are so many people in the world– especially in the United States– who think that COVID is a hoax, and vaccines are useless. I just want to ask those people– where the hell do you think all those people who died went? Are they all in Roswell, New Mexico with all the people who disappeared on 9/11? COVID is very real, and it’s killed millions of people. The vaccines have been life savers.

I had COVID myself over the summer. It was like a bad cold. Maybe it would have still been like that if I hadn’t been vaccinated, given that it wasn’t the original variant that got me. Or maybe I would have had to be hospitalized and would have been left extremely debilitated or even dead. I have a few of the risk factors for severe COVID. I’m still not a big fan of face masks, but I cooperate with the rules. I trust people who went to medical school and work in public health.

But this young woman wrote “straight to prison where you belong.” to my well wishes about the octogenarian, Dr. Fauci, who is finally going to retire. I assume she means Fauci should be imprisoned, but the fact that she presumably accidentally wrote that I should go to prison was enough for me to block her. Lately, my block list has been growing by leaps and bounds… and in a way, it makes me sad. People can’t all be this awful, can they? And yet, they are… even though Facebook keeps disciplining me with bots, claiming that I’m a poor citizen of the ‘Net.

I wonder if the young woman who left that comment wanted me to block her. Maybe she doesn’t care. If she doesn’t care, why should I?

Ehh… I know some people would miss me if I quit social media, and I would miss them. But, I have to admit, I do think about doing it every day, because I’m tired of interacting with people who don’t think. I suppose I could have asked “Ashlie” what the hell is wrong with her. I could have addressed her, stating that I haven’t done anything that warrants going to prison, and neither has Dr. Fauci. I admire Dr. Fauci for the lifesaving work he’s done, in spite of massive hostility and stupidity directed toward him. And I could have made a firm statement that COVID vaccines have saved lives worldwide… and Dr. Fauci is just one of many competent healthcare professionals worldwide who have touted them.

I live in Germany, and COVID vaccines have been heavily promoted here. Dr. Fauci doesn’t work in Germany. Should I adopt the belief that Germany’s healthcare minister, Karl Lauterbach, who is a physician and has a Ph.D. in public health from Harvard University, should go to prison for the work he does? I don’t like all of Lauterbach’s opinions or policies, but he has a tremendous responsibility. His job is necessary. My guess is that he’s lost a lot of sleep over the past couple of years. Yes, he’s in a position of power, and some of his policies have been highly annoying and tedious. But again– he has a tremendous responsibility and is in a position of huge trust. Same as Dr. Fauci. Saying that either of these men should go to prison, simply because of their unpopular policies, is ludicrous, disrespectful, and frankly, very stupid.

I could have told Ashlie all of that, but in the end, I just decided to remove her from my sphere, because I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with such idiocy. It just seems like here in Europe, there are fewer people like Ashlie to deal with. They do exist, but they’re in much smaller numbers. Or… maybe it just seems that way, because I don’t speak German very well. Anyway, I like it better. No need to laugh at me for that. At least my opinions are based on real experience instead of conjecture.

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language, rants, royals

Death is an inevitable part of life; it’s not automatically “tragic”…

Yesterday, I happened to see a video about Queen Elizabeth’s death. It was made by a popular content creator that routinely makes videos and shares social media worthy articles. I couldn’t help but notice that, more than once, the person (or AI) narrating the video described Queen Elizabeth’s recent death as “tragic”. Then I realized that other people, even media personalities who ought to know better, were referring to a 96 year old wealthy white woman’s death as “tragic”, even though she died in the company of her loved ones and attended to by very highly qualified physicians.

So I took to Facebook to air my grievances. This is what I wrote:

I have seen a lot of people referring to QEII’s death as “tragic”. I think people need to look up the word “tragic” and realize that nothing about the queen’s death was tragic. “Tragic” would have been dying alone and in pain, forgotten in a hospital room after spending months on life support. “Tragic” would have been dying in a freak accident in her 20s, or being gunned down by a maniac in the middle of the Platinum Jubilee.

The queen died in her favorite place, surrounded by loved ones, with excellent medical supervision, at the grand age of 96. She lived a fabulous life, enjoying robust health for most of it. Queen Elizabeth had a death many would envy. Her death isn’t tragic. Death happens to all of us. She has left a wonderful legacy that won’t be forgotten, and she is no longer in any pain. That is not a tragedy. We should all be so lucky to end life in such a way.

But she will be missed by many. Perhaps that is tragic for those who will mourn her the most.

Yesterday morning, I read a story in The New York Times about a man’s death that struck me as truly tragic. Marc Lewitinn, aged 76, spent the last 850 days of his life on a ventilator before he finally succumbed. Mr. Lewitinn had survived lung cancer and a stroke that had left him unable to speak when the COVID-19 crisis began in March 2020. Because of his delicate health and age, his family urged him to stay socially distanced. Later that month, when cabin fever got the best of him, Mr. Lewitinn decided to venture out to a crowded Starbucks near his home. Soon after that fateful visit to Starbucks, Mr. Lewitinn was lethargic and had a blood oxygen level of 85 percent. He had contracted COVID.

Because of his falling blood oxygen levels, doctors decided to intubate Mr. Lewitinn and induce a coma. His family was told that in spite of the measures being taken to help him, Mr. Lewitinn would likely die within a few days, due to his fragile health and age. Instead of saying goodbye, his family urged Mr. Lewitinn to fight for his life. And he did. He remained in a coma for six months and was moved to a hospital closer to his home. He survived COVID-19. But the disease and being on the ventilator had weakened his lungs so much that Mr. Lewitinn was never able to be weaned from the machine. He spent 850 days on it until he finally suffered a fatal heart attack on July 23, 2022.

I’m not sure how Mr. Lewitinn’s family members feel about their father’s last two years. Maybe they were grateful that he hung on for as long as he did. I’m sure his case did some good for those who no doubt learned from it. However, in my personal opinion, and realizing that I wasn’t there to see the actual conditions he was living under, his last two years don’t sound like they were quality years. I noticed the comments on the obituary pretty much indicated the same thing. This man’s death, to me, sounds much more tragic than Queen Elizabeth’s was.

Maybe a better example of a tragic death would be any of the ones caused by gun violence. I think of the children who died in terror at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. They were in school to learn, and probably felt safe there. But then they were murdered by yet another unhinged man with a gun, while living in a state where guns are practically worshiped. Survivors of that horrifying incident are now starting a new school year. I’ll bet there isn’t a single child attending school there who still feels safe and comfortable.

Or perhaps another good example of a tragic death is that of Eliza Fletcher’s. The pretty 34 year old kindergarten teacher and mom went jogging in the wee hours of September 2, 2022. During her run, she was abducted and murdered by a man who had a criminal history of kidnapping and had only recently gotten out of prison. Fletcher had two beautiful young children, who will now have to grow up without their mother. That, to me, is tragic.

Today is September 11th. Twenty-one years ago, the United States was attacked by terrorists, resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent lives. That was a real tragedy. It’s laughable to me that some people are calling the Queen’s death tragic, when I consider how 9/11 victims died in 2001.

Everybody dies. Most people have at least one person in their lives who will miss them when that inevitable event happens. But there are worse things than death.

I think of my father, who had always been a healthy man, getting afflicted with Lewy Body Dementia. For six years, he slowly became less like himself, unable to tend to his own needs, and losing his ability to think, communicate, and move at will. He died at age 81, after having emergency gallbladder surgery. He had survived the surgery, but was unable to recover from the anesthesia. It was kind of a shock when he died, since the gallbladder attack had been sudden. But I remember feeling relieved because, even though his death meant saying goodbye to him forever, it also meant he no longer had to suffer as his body failed him. And although I wasn’t there when he passed, my sister was, and she said he had a look of utter amazement and peace on his face as he died.

Many people expressed condolences to me when my dad died, assuming that his death would devastate me. I didn’t feel devastated, though. My father lived a long, productive life, and he spent his last days with my mother, who took very good care of him in their luxury apartment. He had many friends and loved ones who were there to pay respects to him. He didn’t suffer a terrible death, alone, destitute, or in severe pain. People loved him, and were there for him as he exited the mortal coil. That isn’t tragic. Neither was Queen Elizabeth’s death.

Maybe in the strictest definition of the word, any death is “tragic”, simply because death is fatal. But by that account, if everyone dies, everyone experiences tragedy. That seems like a very pessimistic way of looking at life. Life is full of winners and losers. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s the way it is. Queen Elizabeth was certainly one of life’s winners. She is already missed by countless people, as she was a beloved figure to millions of people around the globe. She had a very good death, not a tragic one. And now, her spirit is hopefully reunited with Prince Philip’s. I like to think it is.

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condescending twatbags, language, modern problems

“Using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”

Last night, I read a post on God’s Facebook page that is very timely, as kids all across America head back to school. The article was derived from a lively Reddit thread, where poster BlueCarrot002 asked if she was the “asshole” for getting personalized stationery for her daughter.

I must admit, as a childless child of the 70s and 80s, this trend of parents being asked to buy extra supplies for classrooms is a strange idea to me. In my day, everybody brought their own supplies to school. And parents would put their child’s name on their stuff, so it wouldn’t get “borrowed” or redistributed. I’m sure it sucked back then for kids whose parents didn’t have a lot of money. But, if you think about it, we all knew whose parents had money, and whose didn’t. Hell, I used to be jealous of my classmates whose parents bought them Trapper Keepers for every subject, while I had cheap plastic binders with shitty plastic rings. Or they had those cool erasable pens, while I had some cheesy ballpoint pen my dad got from some business. My mom wasn’t one to pander to my desires for fancy school supplies, and we would usually shop for that stuff at AAFES. And AAFES, at least in the 80s, was not a high end store.

This was THE status symbol, when I was in the 4th grade.

Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. Some kids are more athletic than others are. Some are more attractive or musically talented or funny. Some kids are academic geniuses. And some have parents who have money, and can buy them pencils with dinosaurs on them, personalized stationery, or lefty scissors. Or they have parents who are willing to deal with the child’s sensory issues by getting them notebooks with plastic spirals instead of metal ones. Some people prefer to write with certain types of pens and pencils. If that helps them succeed in doing their work, what’s the big deal? Part of growing up is learning to accept that life isn’t fair, and doing the best you can with what you have.

I don’t remember this ad, but we liked our Paper Mates, too.

I can understand the reasons teachers might have for asking parents to contribute supplies. I also understand why they would want the parents to get things that are generic. However, based on God’s article, it doesn’t sound like the teacher specified that the supplies should be the cheapest available. She was likely fine with genuine Crayola crayons over the generic ones that are found at the Dollar Tree. It sounds like the mom in this instance simply wanted to provide the best available supplies for her child. I don’t blame her for that.

What really got my hackles up, though, was the fact that the teacher sent home what the Redditor describes as a “very passive aggressive note” inviting her to come in for a “talking to” with the teacher. Now, it could be that the teacher’s note wasn’t actually passive aggressive. Maybe it was a friendly note. But since the actual note isn’t provided to Redditors, I will just assume the mom’s assessment of the note’s tone is correct.

I don’t blame the mom for refusing the teacher’s request. I would do the same thing.

Generally speaking, I am very pro-teacher. I think they are underpaid and disrespected. I know they have a tough job, and they literally put their lives on the line working in education these days. I still think it would grind my gears to have a teacher dictate to me that I must buy extra supplies for the classroom, to cover the kids who don’t have what they need, and then tell me that I can’t provide the school supplies that work best for my own child. And I would not take kindly to a “request” to come in for a discussion about my kid’s perfectly good school supplies, especially after I contributed the “generic” extra supplies that were requested. In fact, I would probably end up complaining to a higher power. My response to the teacher’s “request” (which sounds more like a demand) would likely be a resounding “NO.” However… It does seem strange to me that the mom would buy “personalized stationery”. In my day, we all just used college ruled loose leaf paper.

No more chalkboards!

Most of the people on God’s page were all about the mom providing personalized supplies for her child. I see on Reddit, the commenters are offering good reasons why the policy of redistributing supplies is potentially traumatic, as well as unfair. One person wrote about how they were going through tough financial straits and sent their child with used supplies from their older siblings. The teacher sent the used supplies back, explaining that they weren’t appropriate. Why not? The used supplies work as well as brand new ones do. And then the poor kid was humiliated in front of their peers.

Others wrote about how they were asked to buy tons of supplies every year that never got used, or were items that should last for years, like scissors, protractors, rulers and compasses. Specifically, one poster wrote “those things will last for years, if you take care of them.” Exactly… and part of the experience of being in school should be teaching children to take care of their things, and maintain possession of their own stuff. So yeah, if I were the mom in this scenario, I would be raising some hell.

A pretty good representation of what it was like for us in the 80s.

I read some of the Facebook comments… and then I had to stop. I must be turning into an old lady now, because one comment literally made me cringe. A man from Minnesota (I checked to make sure he wasn’t a Brit or living in Britain), wrote something along the lines of, “That woman is just a cunt. She just wants to show off how much money she has. Fuck her!”

Wow. I’m not sure what prompted this guy– name of Ryan– to leave such a misogynistic and completely inappropriate response to that article. However, against my better judgment, I felt compelled to respond to him with what I think is a gentle rebuke.

I wrote, “Ryan, using that word to describe the woman in this article says a lot about you… and none of it is good.”

I fully expected Ryan to come back and call ME a cunt. Usually, that type of person has no qualms about spewing their nastiness on anyone in the strike zone. I did pause before I commented, because I don’t want to be called a cunt. Especially after I’ve had a beer or two, as was the case last night. But then I realized that I can always block Ryan if he lobs verbal abuse at me. Lately, I’ve been blocking people I haven’t even engaged with, simply because I can easily tell that they aren’t people with whom I wish to interact.

After I commented to Ryan, I had to sit and contemplate for a few minutes. I must be getting old. I have often stated, and I do actually believe, that all words are useful sometimes. I do think there are even some times when the word “cunt” is appropriate. However, in the United States, that’s generally a term that is saved for the end of an argument. Sure, if you’re a Brit, you might use it to describe a silly fool, or something. But that article was written for and mostly read by Americans, and to Americans, the word “cunt” is among the worst of the worst insults, especially to women. We would all be up in arms if someone casually dropped the n bomb on social media. So why is it okay for Ryan to call some mother he doesn’t know a “cunt”, simply because he has unresolved issues regarding women? I mean, I know I’m assuming, but why else would he go there so early?

Anyway… I was surprised at myself, because after I read Ryan’s comment, it turned me off of the comment page. I had to click off of it. I shared God’s post on my own page, and a few friends who are teachers chimed in. Most seemed to think the teacher’s policy of redistributing school supplies is ridiculous. I mean, I guess some teachers pass out and collect the supplies at the beginning and end of each session. I still think there’s value in teaching children that they have to keep up with their own stuff, and that labeling things, especially when you’re working in a group, is a smart policy.

Count me among those who also think that if a stranger’s behavior seems wrong or unfair, it’s better not to call them a name that connotes so much hatred for a group of people. The fact that Ryan felt perfectly fine in referring to a concerned mother as a “cunt” who is “showing off” her money, tells me that he has some serious issues with women, and probably people with money, too. It’s not a good look, as the orange turd would say.

Reading this story makes me glad I don’t have children.

Bonus video… this one is pretty funny!

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