News, social media, YouTube

Big revelations in 2022…

Today’s featured photo kind of spells out how I feel about getting older…

This year is only 15 days old, but some people have already experienced, or at least revealed, some major life changes. And since they are people I know online, I’ve shared in their big news, if only in a small way.

This week, especially, has been one of jaw dropping revelations for some of my friends. Or, maybe it’s more revelatory to my friends’ friends, rather than themselves. I suspect that my friends who have been dropping some truths this week have known for quite some time about their personal bombshells.

Out of respect for my friends’ privacy, I don’t want to be too specific about their big news stories, since none of their tales are mine to tell. I guess this post is more about my reaction to their news… and how it makes me reflect on how things have changed so much. It wasn’t so long ago that I felt like the world hadn’t evolved that much from, say, 1990 until now. But now I realize that it really has become a totally foreign place on so many levels.

There was a time not so long ago when big news would spread via letter to one person, or by telephone, in a newspaper, or maybe word of mouth. As technology evolved, we’d hear news on the radio, or TV, and then eventually cable TV, which had news 24/7 on channels like CNN. Today, we get news from the Internet– especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

All three of my friends shared their personal news in Facebook posts. All three “stories” are a very big deal. I’m talking major life changes and, in all three cases, their very identities are evolving into something very different and potentially scary and exciting. I suspect at least two of the three people will lose some friends over their news, or even some family members who can’t cope with the massive paradigm shifts they will experience in the near future.

These three people are people I know on varying levels, both personal and professional. One of my “friends” undergoing a major life change is someone I don’t know especially well offline. We have been in each other’s physical presence a couple of times, but not recently. The other two people are genuine offline friends with whom I also had a professional relationship. One was someone I hired, and the other is someone who hired me. I haven’t seen either of them in person in a long time, either. Geography plays a big part in these circumstances, of course.

Not twenty years ago, I would not be privy to any of the really big news my friends are sharing. For instance, it would have been unthinkable in the year 2002 that I would find out about major life changes from people with whom I didn’t at least have a casual offline relationship. And yet, all three of these people have shared their news with me. I don’t mind that, per se, since I like them. But there was a time, not long ago, when I know that I never would have heard their big news, simply because I’m not that close to them.

Back in 2002, I certainly wouldn’t have found out, say, about a former acquaintance’s new addition to her family, which I only discovered this morning because she still shows up in comments she made in my Facebook memories, when we still regularly “e-versed”. This was someone I did meet offline a few times, and we had a cordial relationship, although I could tell we weren’t really clicking… or, should I say, “clique-ing”– as she was still in a clique that I had left.

Sometime last year, this person finally unfriended me on Facebook. I suspect it’s because we somehow never meshed, and we don’t have much in common, other than having both lived abroad in military communities. I got the sense that she found me annoying, and if I’m honest, I could probably say the same about her.

Nevertheless, I was still initially a little sad about losing a “friend”, but then I mostly forgot about her, since we weren’t that close to begin with. I was suddenly reminded of her again this morning, when I inadvertently saw her current profile photo. It reveals a very prominent baby bump. I’m sure she’s a mother of two by now, and I wish her well. But it still struck me as odd that I now know about this big news, even though we don’t “talk” anymore, and I hadn’t sought out news about her. And it made me realize how social media really has altered so much about what was once “normal”.

Now, we can communicate with literally anyone in the world who is on the Internet, sometimes even when we’d really rather not. Even if they aren’t on the Internet, like my mom, I can still use the Internet to call her phone. I talked to my mom the other day and she said my sister had shown her my Facebook profile picture. Mom commented that she thought I looked “beautiful”. It is a pretty nice photo, if I do say so myself. I had put on a dress, fixed my hair, and put on makeup. Mom lamented that she didn’t have any recent photos of me. We haven’t seen each other since 2015. I said, if she would just learn basic Internet skills, she could see and talk to me whenever she wants. But she won’t do it, as she’s 83 years old, and doesn’t want the Internet to invade her life. Maybe she’s smarter than I am for that, although I don’t think I could function without it as a middle aged person.

I can even find out about stuff I don’t even want to know about… information that I never sought and even find kind of hurtful. For example, back in 2013, a woman I know from my hometown sent me an email about my former “best” friend, who had had a baby and gotten her baby baptized in the church I had attended as a child. This “friend” was someone I once felt very close to, and knew very well. We spent so much time together when we were growing up. But, friends sometimes grow apart, and in the case of this friend, I realized that our “friendship” had become quite toxic.

When my church lady friend had sent me that email, I realized that my ex friend was still Facebook friends with me, but had restricted my access to her page. She, on the other hand, could freely stalk my page all she wanted. I hadn’t noticed that I was restricted, because I had quit talking to her a long time ago, mainly because I usually felt really bad about myself after our online conversations and had decided to withdraw. Then, a mutual friend dropped the bomb on me via email.

There I was, reeling from learning that my so-called, long time “best” friend from childhood had hidden the news from me that she’d had a baby. I told Bill, who then said that this “friend” had behaved very inappropriately toward him at our wedding rehearsal. It was at that point that I blocked her on social media, but even after blocking her, I still found out stuff… from mutual friends, the church lady (who was bewildered that my friend and I had a falling out), and yes, from Facebook memories.

Nowadays, Facebook memories allows users to omit memories from people they don’t want to remember, but that was not an option until somewhat recently. And, at this point, I no longer care if I hear about her or see her on social media. I even unblocked her, because in her case, I simply don’t care anymore. But I cared a few years ago… when the pain was still fresh in my mind. I wasn’t surprised by what she’d done, since I knew she’d done something similar to her ex boyfriend. I might have even excused her by not sharing her baby news. However, when Bill finally told me what she did at our wedding, that was when I really felt hurt, betrayed, and angry, and decided not to have anything to do with her anymore.

In each of the cases of the three people who shared big news with me, and all of the rest of their friends this week, all I feel is love and compassion. As I mentioned before, these are very big life changes they’re dealing with. I also feel great compassion to the people who are close to them in their personal lives, because the life changing news they shared doesn’t just affect them. In some ways, I think the people who didn’t make the big announcements, but are, nevertheless, very much affected by the news, will need all of the hope, prayers, faith, and thoughts they can get.

At the same time, I’m still somewhat amazed that I got their news. I hardly feel worthy to know of it… well, except in the cases of two of the three people, who are both people I still talk to somewhat regularly, and both of whom helped change my life for the better. In one case, I really didn’t have to know… but in the other case, I obviously would know, because their big news literally changes their identity in some very major ways. Like– I could not be friends with this person anymore and not eventually know their news.

I’m sorry if this post is confusing and weird. It’s really weird for me, too. I would like to be more specific… but I just don’t feel comfortable in sharing more at this point. And if I ever do share more, it will probably be later, perhaps in a protected post… when I’ve gotten more used to the idea. And also, it reminds me of the very interesting turns my life has taken and people I’ve either met, or know of somehow… and how sometimes, they share their big revelations with me, whether or not they meant to share their news that broadly.

Social media has made things strange in so many ways… but it’s also allowed us all to meet and get to know people we otherwise never would, and that’s not such a bad thing. Hell, I’ve “met” some interesting people just by writing this blog and occasionally attracting regular commenters. I’m kind of glad I haven’t hit “the big time” like some people have, since not being popular makes it possible for me to get to know people.

This morning, I was watching Fundie Fridays’ most recent video about Kirk and Candace Cameron, and Jen, who runs the channel with her boyfriend, James, mentioned that she was sorry she couldn’t respond to the many emails and private messages she gets. That channel has exploded in popularity, so now she literally can’t keep up with all of the correspondence. On one hand, I think it’s awesome that she’s so successful. But on another hand, there is a definite trade off, isn’t there? Anyway… I do recommend her latest video, especially if you’re as old as I am and remember when Kirk was a “teen idol”. Now he’s just a middle aged twerp who apparently thinks he’s better than you and I are because he’s the right kind of “Christian”.

Jen should do stand up. She’s hilarious.

Anyway… it’s just crazy to me how things are in 2022, and that I can find out “big news” about people, even if I don’t go looking for it. I never envisioned life would be like this back when I was younger. I’m actually delighted that I grew up in a time when people weren’t always online. And I am very glad that I didn’t have to go to school during the age of the Internet. However, I am happy that I can stay in touch with some people and meet people via the ‘net, even if there are some folks I’d like to be able to ghost the old fashioned way. And I’m sure some of them would like to lose touch with me, too…

Well, I think I’ll get back to my latest book, so I can post a new book review. My book reviews aren’t usually all that controversial, except for some of the subject matter I cover. Hope everyone has better weather than we do over here in foggy, damp, chilly Germany. And I hope all of the news you get this week is good news.

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business, condescending twatbags, dogs, Military, social media, stupid people

The wrong way of takin’ care of business…

Yesterday, Bill and I enjoyed another rainy Sunday at home. Even if the pandemic weren’t still in full swing, I doubt we would have chosen to go anywhere. It was cold and dismal outside, with traces of ice and snow. There wasn’t nearly enough for it to be pretty.

I decided to do some writing and listen to music. I heard a version of “Til the Season Comes ‘Round Again”, a pretty Christmas song that I originally heard Amy Grant do years ago, but then I heard her (now) husband’s, Vince Gill’s, version. I decided to try it myself, complete with harmony. Here’s the end result. I may try again in a higher key. Or maybe I won’t… it depends on how inspired I am.

The weather is rainy today, too, and although I know the dogs could use a walk, I’m not sure I want to venture out in the slop. At least it’s not freezing cold, though, so that’s a vote toward taking a quick jaunt so Arran can take a dump. He prefers to poop when he’s taking walks.

I’m also still working on reading my latest book. It’s a good book, but my progress is slow. My attention span and eyesight aren’t what they used to be. In fact, my attention span has never been particularly good… especially when I am distracted by petty dramas on Facebook. And that brings me to today’s topic. All names in the following tale are pseudonyms, in the unlikely event that someone local is reading this. I simply want to air my own opinion on this situation.

Yesterday, I happened to run across a thread in the local pet group on Facebook. A woman I’ll call Mary was frustrated because, back in October, she had hired a 19 year old woman to look after her pets for a portion of the holiday season. The young woman– I’ll call her Katie– had enthusiastically agreed to take the job. Mary has a dog and a cat, and she was willing to pay $250 for about 8 days worth of work. The stipulations were that Katie was to stay at Mary’s home, since her cat doesn’t do well with other animals and she wasn’t sure how the dog would behave. Katie agreed.

Two months go by, and it’s the day that Mary was supposed to leave on her trip. Katie sends Mary a message, suddenly changing the conditions of their agreement. Katie explained that her sister was flying in, so she wanted to spend time with her. And it would be more convenient for her to watch Mary’s pets at her parents’ home, since Mary lived far away from Katie’s parents’ house.

Mary was upset about this, since it wasn’t what they had agreed to… but she was kind of over a barrel. She had these travel plans, and though she hadn’t mentioned it in the thread, she probably pre-paid for her lodging and, perhaps, air fare. Her choices weren’t so good in this situation. She could: cancel her plans; try to find another pet sitter at the last minute; or let Katie do what she wanted to do.

Mary ended up letting Katie have her way. But then, when she came back to get her dog, she tried to have a discussion with Katie about what had happened. This is where it gets especially weird. Apparently, Mary’s feedback pissed off Katie’s mother. I’ll call her Alice. Mary had asked to speak to Katie privately when they were in person, and this didn’t sit well with Alice, who is evidently a bit of a “mama bear”. For some reason, I’m reminded of this pre-Trump relic…

Lordy…

Drama erupted when Mary picked up her animal, and in the end, Mary left the house with her dog, feeling unsatisfied, and missing her dog’s favorite toy. Katie then blocked Mary on Facebook, so Mary wasn’t able to resolve this dilemma privately. Mary later took to Facebook to air her grievances in our group, which was where she’d found Katie in the first place. In her initial post, she never mentioned Katie’s name. She simply put out what I would call a blanket PSA to all of the pet sitters in the group, asking them to be very clear about what they’re willing to do when they take a pet sitting job. Below is exactly what she wrote:

Ok. If you or your child are going to take on pet sitting jobs can we please have those taking on the jobs to ASK questions. How much are you charging. How long? Where do you live? I just had an experience where the sitter changed plans on us a *few hours before we were supposed to leave. It messed up our plans and made it more complicated and the reason behind it was they didn’t know how far our house was from them. This was something that was set up 2 months in advance. Why were these things not asked? It’s not just about the money. You need to be clear and tell our younger kids to be assertive and responsible. This sitter has now blocked me on FB even though they changed up the plans and did not follow through with what was expected. They also did not pack back up any of my dogs toys and one of them was a plush dog toy that he got when he was a puppy. . I’m so sad and disappointed.

Now… I notice that Mary didn’t “out” the young woman who looked after her dog. She doesn’t curse. She doesn’t write anything rude or nasty. She simply makes a polite request. One person misunderstood and thought the sitter had canceled at the last minute. Mary reiterated that Katie hadn’t canceled, she had simply changed the terms of what they had agreed to, which was to watch the dog and cat in Mary’s home, rather than at a stranger’s (to the pets) home. As it turned out, Katie only watched the dog. I guess the cat fended for itself.

A few people responded to her post, vague as it was. All of a sudden, Alice– the mom– shows up and writes this in response.

My daughter was your dog sitter, she’s also not a child. She’s 19. I don’t know where your dogs toy is but she took very well care of pippin to the point where you messaged her and asked her to keep him longer. She blocked you to avoid the drama that you brought into my home the other day, I have never met a more obnoxious, rude couple in my life. My daughter dog sits for many dogs and has never had a problem, until you. She returned everything she could find. Mind you we actually have a huge yard. Also, she watched him here because it was Christmas time and she wanted to spend it with her family. And lastly you still owe her $

At first, I wondered if maybe Mary had misrepresented herself in the thread. As we all know, sometimes people do act like jerks, but then try to cover it up when they talk about a situation to other people. But then I kept reading, and it became very clear that Alice was making the situation so much worse. First off, she basically outed her daughter. And secondly, she says her daughter is an adult, but yet “Mommy” is in the Facebook group, fighting her battles for her. I was not the only one who thought this was a bit fucked up.

Mary came back with this response. Again, I thought it was fairly even keeled and reasonable.

I have screenshots of the dates we agreed upon. Back in October Is when we talked about what the plan was. I also did not name names in this post. All I’m asking for is the toy back.

Alice responded:

you messaged her saying you didn’t know if you were still going with them dates and then asked her to keep him

So Mary wrote:

Because she told us an hour before we were supposed to leave, that she was going to take the pets to your house. That wasn’t the agreed upon plan. Our cat doesn’t do well with other pets. Then we had to wait a few more hours for her to show up to get “Fido”. I was trying to find another sitter to watch the pets and when I couldn’t, I just had to allow her to take just Fido. (not his real name)

Alice wrote:

she showed up @ 3:30 to pick up “Fido”, that was the agreed upon time.. she was at work and she left work early to get him.

And Mary conceded:

Ok I’ll give you this. Looking back at the messages I did say 3 pm. You are correct. I do still take issue with being told the day of travel that plans were changing.

At this point, other people started to chime in. There were a few who were on Alice’s side. Some had hired Katie to watch their pets and liked her. A few appeared to be friends of Alice’s and Katie’s. But, by and large, most of us were squarely on “Team Mary”, including yours truly. This situation is one major reason why Bill and I use a locally run Hunde Pension, rather than hiring a teen. I used to be a house/dog/horse/cat/turtle sitter myself, so I know how it goes, but although I’m sure our dogs would be happier at home, I prefer them to be somewhere where this is someone’s livelihood and the people involved have insurance.

Anyway, the drama continued. Alice wrote this:

You never have to allow someone to take your dog. There is always other options.

Then, Mary produced a screenshot of the chat she’d had with Katie, dating from mid October, in which she spelled out what she wanted and how much she was willing to pay. It’s there, plain as day, that Katie had agreed. And, as a 19 year old woman, Mary felt inclined to take her at her word. But then Alice basically proved that her daughter was NOT actually an adult, when she wrote this:

her mom ( me) said no to your home.. that’s creepy. And it was Christmas time, she didn’t know her sister was coming in from (across the pond) until last minute

Uh… excuse me? She’s 19 years old, Alice. You, yourself, said she’s an adult. Why do you get to veto Mary’s house as “creepy”? What the fuck? And this is a standard practice here– people who pet sit often go to people’s homes or stay overnight. No one was even at the house, so why would it be “creepy”?

And Mary agreed with me, writing:

creepy? To house sit and watch a cat and dog? There was no one there. How is that creepy? I thought she was an adult. Not a child… If she would have told me this back in October or even maybe not a few hours. Before we were supposed to leave, that would have been fine.

Alice brazenly came back with this:

100% creepy. Let it go, pay for the rest of services rendered and move on.

I’ve gotta say, if I were Mary, I probably would have ripped Alice a new one for that response. In fact, I probably would have considered complaining to the garrison about Katie. I would not have been nice. People who run businesses on the installations are supposed to get approval from the garrison as “home based businesses”. There are tax implications and rules to be followed. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts, as Bill would say, that Katie isn’t running her business the “legal” way.

But all Mary wants is her dog’s toy:

give me the dog toy back and we will… Even though we paid her the same amount to watch the cat and dog and she only watched the dog

Alice wasn’t moved, though. She wrote:

You asked to speak to her out of any ear shot of her family. Had I know you had asked her that, mama would been right with you both and then to express your displeasure after you got your dog watched and still her money..

At this point, I took a peek at Katie’s FB page. This chick is evidently in the military herself. And yet here she is, blocking her client, and letting Mommy fight her battles for her.

Mary was still being very reasonable, in my opinion, when she wrote:

but I thought she was an adult. And what I told her was that I was disappointed with the services rendered. I told her that going forward she should ask these questions and make sure that everything is clear. I didn’t cuss her out or even yell or anything. I just said, money is important but so are the other details.

All I said was, can I speak to you for a moment. She even stated that she knew I was disappointed and she understood why I would be.

But Alice continued:

16-24 8 days, you paid $139. My daughter charges $20 a day. Total would of been $160

Personally, under the circumstances, I think Mary was perfectly justified in not giving Katie the whole amount. Katie didn’t do the job to her client’s specifications. And she has her MOM arguing on her behalf! Mary shared another screenshot about the payment they had agreed to. I don’t see why Mary should have to honor the payment end of the agreement, when Katie didn’t honor her side of it by staying at Mary’s home and watching two pets. According to the screenshot, Mary had offered $250, which I would have loved to have gotten when I was 19 and house/pet sitting.

Alice very stubbornly persisted, writing this:

adult or not, she lives in MY home.. You don’t see me asking you for carpet cleaning $, your dog peeped and pooped several times on my carpet. Again, let it go. Learn your lessons and move on. Your screen shots mean nothing to me, you let her take your dog, you asked to have him here longer. Don’t try and blast someone for something you let happen.

Um… Alice? My takeaway from this exchange is that I shouldn’t ever consider hiring Katie to watch my pets. Because hiring Katie means that I’ll probably have to deal with you, and you are not a good representative of Katie’s brand! All you’ve done is show everyone that Katie can’t handle her own business; that, in fact, she ISN’T an adult; and that her client’s wishes mean absolutely NOTHING. What’s more, Mary never even outed Katie in our group, which is full of people who occasionally need a pet sitter. YOU DID THAT. It was a very stupid thing to do, and it will cost Katie. Some mama bear you are.

Mary continued:

so evidence proving my point means nothing? I literally had this arranged with your daughter. All these details and then last minute is when things changed.

And Alice responded:

you only complained after he was watched and you picked him up. He was very well taken care of. That’s what anyone with a pet wants

I suspect Mary didn’t “complain” at the time because she had travel plans that dated from months ago. She needed Katie’s help and was over a barrel. And sure, the dog was taken care of in the sense that he’s still alive and well, apparently. But Katie still didn’t do the job according to her client’s wishes. And contrary to Alice’s opinions, anyone with a pet actually wants that their pets are taken care of in the way that the owner wants the care to be given.

More people opined, including one woman who took on Alice, who responded about how she “loved” that people who weren’t involved had come for the “drama”. At that point, I think I would have told Alice that it was her choice to have people “come for the drama”, as she chose to air this shit in a Facebook group, instead of privately. Her grown ass daughter, Katie, blocked her client, rather than working with her privately to resolve this issue without input from other people. Moreover, Alice doesn’t seem to understand that when pets are stressed out in unfamiliar places, sometimes they have accidents. If Katie had watched the dog in Mary’s home, as was agreed, any accidents the dog had would have been on Mary’s floor, not Alice’s. I think the accidents were entirely Katie’s fault, in that case.

I finally had to comment myself. I wrote this:

You could have stayed out of this. Your daughter is an adult. You said so yourself. And Mary has clearly proven what was agreed. I don’t blame her one bit for being pissed. I would be too.

At that point, more people chimed in, including a few who were on Alice’s and Katie’s side. One person took Mary to task for putting a “kid” on blast. Another person commended Alice for having Katie’s back. I see nothing wrong with a mother having her child’s back, but she should have done it offline, and insisted that her 19 year old adult daughter speak up for herself. At this point, I’m left with the impression that Katie is very immature, irresponsible, and not equipped to handle taking care of pets. What would have happened if the dog had gotten sick? Would Katie have been able to get him to a vet? Could she pry herself away from the holiday festivities with her “sister” to look after the dog she was being paid to take care of? After reading this exchange, and seeing how her mother puts the blame on the paying client, I think not.

One guy wrote this, with which I completely agreed:

I like how you don’t name the sitter and her own mother dimes her out in this post and tries to justify the unprofessional behavior. Then the mom doubles down after your screen shots show everything was agreed upon in advance and calls services the adult sitter agreed on “creepy.” You’re completely justified in being pissed off. I would be pissed too. It doesn’t matter that her sister came in town or it’s Christmas, you were clear in what you expected well in advance and the sitter agreed to it as well.

Alice responded thusly:

I didn’t “dime” her out, I spoke up for my daughter. Big difference, what you read is only half the story, there’s always 3 sides and at the end of the day a service she actually agreed upon was complete and she then she still wasn’t happy. Period.

No, Mama Bear… you totally fucked this up and stuck your nose where it doesn’t belong. You and Katie are wrong, in this instance. Grow up and accept responsibility. Of course, they clearly didn’t, since Alice left the group.

The guy responded:

your daughter wasn’t named, therefore you DID dime her out. Literally no one reading this post other than the OP/you/your daughter knew who the sitter was until your comment. Take the L, you’re wrong, your daughter’s actions were wrong, period. But to clarify the point, once you make a commitment, you follow through. You don’t alter the agreement the day of travel ffs.

There were more comments, but most of them weren’t as juicy, and I think we get the point, anyway. I probably shouldn’t be writing about this, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to, other than to show some of my faithful followers some of the DRAMA that can erupt on military installations. Bill and I once lived on Fort Belvoir, pre-Facebook, and there was enough drama that went on before social media was a thing. I can only shudder to think what it’s like now.

I’m not in very many local American Facebook groups, though, because of situations like these that arise. I made the mistake of being in a lot of them when we lived in Stuttgart, and it caused me a lot of angst. Usually, the pet group is pretty placid, but every once in awhile, I’m reminded as to why I think it’s better not to join a lot of Facebook groups, especially when the US military is involved. Things can get really hairy and fucked up in a hurry. There are people from all walks of life involved with military service, with varying levels of maturity and sophistication. Some people are folks who just can’t understand normal thinking. I think this exchange is a prime example of that phenomenon at work.

Well… I think after I practice guitar and have some lunch, I’ll try to get back to my book so I can have another book review ready by New Year’s Eve. Wish me luck. Have a nice Monday.

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poor judgment, social media, videos, YouTube

More on Leon the Lobster… and a tasteless holiday greeting makes me crabby!

Once again, I’m struggling to decide what to write about today. I have a few topics in mind, but I wonder if want to go there so close to Christmas. Maybe I’ll wait until the first week of 2022. I’ll probably be extra cranky, since that’s when I plan to get my Moderna booster. I suppose it could end up being a Pfizer booster, too.

Anyway, I was happy to see that Brady Brandwood, who rescued Leon the Lobster from the grocery store, has posted a brand new video. I just discovered Leon on Sunday, so it was nice to get this update while he was still fresh in my mind (see yesterday’s post).

As you can see, Leon is doing very well!

Brady still doesn’t know if Leon is a girl lobster or a boy lobster. Brady is planning to get a new aquarium soon, so when it comes time for Leon to move to a new tank, Brady will find out what team Leon plays for. He does say that he will keep the name Leon, regardless. But if it turns out Leon is female, he says maybe he’ll call Leon “Celene Leon”, instead. I watch this, and now I want to rescue a lobster, too, but I don’t have easy access to lobsters, nor do I have the equipment or know how. So I guess I will just be content with watching Leon’s progress.

I’m astonished by how much I enjoy YouTube, especially some of the more creative original content. Who would have thought videos about a grocery store lobster would be this interesting? And, as I pointed out yesterday, I even went to the point of learning a little more about the bizarre mating rituals of lobsters! Who says you can’t learn new things as you get older? Brady does say that he can’t take Leon back to the wild, since he doesn’t live near the right habitat for lobsters. Maybe he’ll get him a friend soon.

MOVING ON…

Last night, as Bill and I were about to tuck in to our salmon filets, I noticed a photo in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had shared a potentially scandalous picture of a family at a Christmas tree farm. The dad and toddler aged son were smiling, and dad was holding up a chalkboard that read “Peace on Earth”. Mom and two little daughters were “gagged” with bright green tape and “tied up” with Christmas lights.

Naturally, there were a whole lot of comments about this photo. I will admit that I was shocked when I first saw the photo. I figured it was probably a joke, though, and didn’t take it too seriously. Other group members were a lot more outraged than I was, claiming that the photo was sick and abusive.

I decided to go Googling, and sure enough, I found out more about the source of the photo, which went viral in 2015. It seems this family had posed for photographer, Hannah Hawkes, who was based in Rosephine, Louisiana, and used the image for their 2015 Christmas card. The image promptly went viral, with many people seemingly very upset because they claim the picture promotes domestic violence, misogyny, and overall devaluation of females.

Personally, I would not go that far… I mean, yes, it’s a shocking image and, on some levels, I would call it potentially very offensive and problematic. But I can’t conclude that “the Johnsons” are necessarily a family in trouble, simply due to the controversial photo that floated around in 2015 and has now resurfaced in the Duggar Family News Group. I would need more information to come to that definitive conclusion. What I will state is that I think the picture is tone deaf, and it wasn’t a smart idea to put it on social media. Even if it was meant jokingly, supposedly as a dig at the stereotype of women nagging too much, when it comes to these kinds of images, particularly when children are involved, people are going to get upset.

Hawkes posted the following (now deleted) comment on Facebook in 2015:

I’m not sure this explanation necessarily helped her case…

There were also some responses to the photo back in 2015. For example, I found this blog post written by a woman named Deborah Cruz. Her opinion was titled “Why the Peace on Earth Holiday Photo Doesn’t Infuriate Me”– clever enough, I guess, since the photo did infuriate a lot of people. People, no doubt, eagerly clicked on that post just to read about, and indignantly comment on, what a misogynistic jerk Deborah Cruz really is (for not being infuriated)… only to find out that Cruz was on the negative side of the issue. She wasn’t “infuriated” about the photo; she was “saddened”, because she couldn’t imagine how anyone would think taking that photo was okay.

Again… I don’t think I would necessarily jump to negative conclusions about this family based only on the photo. It could have simply been posted due to ignorance or a serious lapse in judgment. But, the fact is, this joking image is reality for a lot of women in the world. There are many out there who are literally or figuratively bound and gagged, and they have no voice, because of their personal circumstances, bad luck, or even voluntary choices.

On the other hand, there are also women out there who actually enjoy this sort of thing– seriously— and are enthusiastic participants. But then, that particular “kinky” lifestyle choice does not seem to be what the photo is about. It seems to be about the joys of silencing women and girls, and that’s not cool, or politically correct, even in jest. I am not a big fan of PC culture, but I understand that it’s kind of the way of the world nowadays. If you don’t want to be PC, you can expect that a bunch of people will pile on you, especially on social media. Unfortunately, a lot of people have a tendency to react first and think later.

Regardless, I do not think it was a good idea to involve children in staging that photo. I’m not really a fan of kids being in a lot of photos online, anyway, but to show little girls being depicted as bound and gagged, even as a “joke”, is just a terrible idea on many levels. Especially when their little brother is not bound and gagged, and is shown seemingly cheering on his mother’s and sisters’ “predicament”.

It seems clear that the family was trying to make a lame joke and it really flopped, big time. I’m not sure I would make the automatic leap to domestic violence that some people made in 2015, and are now making since the photo resurfaced, at least not without more information. One person commented that it looked like this family kept having kids until they got a boy. I don’t know how that person jumped to that conclusion, not knowing anything about this couple. It’s entirely likely they always planned for three kids. Or maybe he was an “oops”, like I was. There’s really no telling, and I can’t make the leap based on one tacky holiday photo.

I have a friend who had two sons from her first marriage, then got remarried and wanted to have just one more baby with her second husband. Surprise! She got pregnant with twin girls, then in the six months after they were born, she got pregnant again with a son. She had her tubes tied when he was born, because she certainly never planned for five kids, and definitely didn’t want any more babies. But, based on that one commenter’s observation of that photo, my friend might have been trying for a boy. Even if it that were true, what’s wrong with it? Sometimes, I think people really go too far with the armchair analyses, although I suppose I am as guilty as anyone is when it comes to that.

A lot of people reacted to the photo with extreme negativity, and claimed that it “promoted abuse”. Even from a money making standpoint, it was a pretty bad idea. I don’t know if Hannah Hawkes is still in business, but it does look like her Facebook page is deleted. Based on her comment, it sounds like she got a whole lot of heat and the wrong kind of attention for taking that picture.

It may have gotten to the point at which Hawkes was canceled, or she may have decided to cancel herself. If that’s what happened, I think it’s a shame. I’m not a big fan of “canceling” people, since canceling people can have devastating effects on people’s lives that might not fit their “crimes”. I also dislike mob mentality, since I don’t think it should be up to private individuals to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Hawkes is probably a perfectly nice person who had a lapse in judgment. Hopefully she learned from it, and didn’t let this setback derail her career.

But yes, just for the record, I don’t think the photo was in good taste at all, and regardless of the family’s intentions, I agree with whose who deemed it a very bad, or at least unwise, concept. However, as shocked as I was when I first saw that photo last night, I can see on Pinterest, that it wasn’t even an original idea. Other families have posted similar photos of wives and daughters bound and gagged during the Christmas season, along with a sign reading “Peace on Earth” or “Silent Night”. And in one photo, the child is the one who has bound her parents in Christmas lights, but everybody’s smiling.

I guess this situation just goes to show that one bad idea preserved online can last forever…

AND FINALLY, ONE LAST TOPIC…

Sorry I didn’t mention this in the post title, but yesterday, I watched this outrageous video by Mama Doctor Jones, aka Dr. Danielle Jones, OB-GYN… She’s being taken to task in Alaska for her so-called “racy” content that “promotes abortion”. I’m not going to opine more about this video in this post, since I think this topic deserves its own post and plenty of rantings from yours truly. However, I did want to share the video with the interested, to give you all a chance to see it before I go off about it. I’ll probably write about it later today or maybe tomorrow, because people are just plain stupid. Especially conservative white men who have an anti-woman/pro-life/pro-gun agenda to push as they claim how much they “love freedom”.

People in Fairbanks, Alaska who are shitting on Mama Doctor Jones’s outstanding and informative YouTube channel need to get a life.

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law, money, social media, true crime, YouTube

Catching up on the news, and Fundie Fridays takes on Dave Ramsey…

Hoo boy… there’s so much I could be writing about this morning. Bill got home last night and had a joyous reunion with the dogs. That was seriously adorable, and I got it all on video.

Arran had been waiting patiently in the foyer for Bill every night of his trip. He’d go downstairs at about 5:00, and hang out for a couple of hours, then forlornly come back upstairs and join me. They were finally reunited last night! Noyzi was just as delighted to see Bill as Arran and I were. Notice I have “Foreplay/Long Time” by Boston playing.

I put up all our Christmas stuff a couple of days ago, because I just wanted to get it over with. Thursday is vacuum day, and the Christmas trees always make a mess. I knew I wouldn’t want to have to deal with the trees on Thanksgiving, nor would I want to vacuum twice in a week, because, I hate vacuuming with a passion. Also, as much as I love Bill, he has a tendency to get in the way when I’m decorating. So I decorated on Thursday, and now our house looks all festive and pretty. I know it’s early, but fuck it… it’s my house. I like the lights, and the trees make my living room more full.

Kyle Rittenhouse gets off…

As I predicted, Kyle Rittenhouse got acquitted of all charges he faced regarding his poor decision to bring an AR-15 to a protest. He won’t be going to state prison for killing two men and wounding one. However, I have a strong feeling that his legal woes aren’t over. I’ll bet he gets sued for wrongful death. I heard a rumor that the Department of Justice might decide to try him for crossing state lines with a weapon… although I think I would be surprised if they did that. And, even if his legal problems end, I suspect he and his family will be harassed.

Kyle Rittenhouse is now someone that people either love or hate. There are right wingers who champion him. But there are other people who would like to see his head on a platter. And then there are many other people who are just plain apathetic, and will be glad to see this particular bit of news go stale. I think Kyle will be in the news for awhile, though, because I’ll bet he gets death threats. Even though he scored a victory, of sorts, I would not want to be him for anything.

I think about all of the adolescent boys I’ve known over the years… they get this surge of machismo, which I’m sure is biological. They want the hot cars, sexy women and, if they’re into guns, they want the biggest and baddest. They have romanticized ideas about how things will play out, and they lack the maturity to understand that life isn’t a movie set. I think the adults in Kyle’s life really failed him. He could have used someone older and wiser– older than his 18 year old buddy, that is– explaining to him why he didn’t need to be in Kenosha with a gun, trying to be an EMT or the police or whatever.

I know my view isn’t popular, especially among liberals, but personally I think the verdict was mostly appropriate. Kyle Rittenhouse certainly had no business being where he was, and he should not have been carrying a weapon. But the evidence showed that the people he killed were not necessarily good actors themselves. I think it could have very easily gone the other way, and Kyle could have been the one who was killed that day. I do think he should have been convicted of at least one of the charges, and gotten a little bit of prison time, but the prosecution was probably too zealous in the seriousness of the charges they levied against him. They wanted to nail him and make him a poster child, and the facts simply didn’t bear up well enough for them to succeed.

Moving on…

Some regular readers might know that I like to watch Fundie Fridays, which is a YouTube channel in which the hosts, Jen and James, make videos about fundie Christians and related topics. Jen often does her makeup while she discusses these things. I like Jen a lot. I think she’s funny, and I am amazed by how good she is at doing her makeup. I’ve always done my makeup the same way, ever since I was a teenager. And that’s when I can be bothered to wear it!

Every once in awhile, though, her boyfriend James tackles a topic. Or, maybe he just joins his girlfriend on one of her videos. I like him, too. They’re both very engaging on camera. I hate being on camera myself, so I admire that they’re so good at what they do, and they’ve managed to marry a compelling subject like whackadoodle fundie Christians with putting on makeup. It’s a great idea, since both subjects seem to be very interesting to other YouTube viewers.

Last night (or maybe just yesterday, since I’m probably several hours ahead of them), Jen was “busy” tending to her island in a video game. James made a video about Dave Ramsey. I thought it was excellent.

I love the fact that Jen and James are willing to wade through all the cringeworthy crap put out by Dave Ramsey and his ilk and put it together in such an entertaining way.

Seriously, I really think this video is well done. I liked the way James broke down how people used to bank. For instance, he mentions that back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of people had “hometown banks” that were independently run, and loan decisions were made by people in the community. I remember doing that myself.

For several years, I banked at locally owned Peninsula Trust Bank, which was a very small chain in my area of Virginia. It was a great bank– very personal and friendly, and I appreciated the local touch! But alas, like so many other small town banks, it eventually got obliterated by one of the humongous chains that have made local banking a thing of the past. Hell, now I bank with PenFed and USAA, and have no personal relationship with my bank at all, other than to lament about how they’re much too quick to lock down my credit cards when I make a (rare) purchase.

In any case, Dave Ramsey’s issues with financial disaster, before he became a wildly successful Christian financial guru, were partly brought on by the fact that small banks used to be popular. According to the Fundie Fridays video, Ramsey’s small town bank got taken over by a much larger, less personal bank. Ramsey, who was very young to be in the real estate business, owed a whole lot of money. The small bankers were willing to trust him, based on his parents’ successful business and their good name. The larger bankers weren’t, and they called in the loan. He couldn’t repay it within 30 days, because the loan was in the millions. That caused Ramsey to go through financial ruin.

Then, like a Christian phoenix, rising from the ashes, Ramsey became “born again”. He started following Biblical principles to get himself out of financial trouble. He claims they worked for him, and now he’s very wealthy and known all around the world. Lots of people love him. Others, like me, think he’s a verbally abusive, hyper-controlling, narcissistic creep. I ranted about him myself some months ago.

You see, Ramsey doesn’t just preach about financial habits to his followers. He also seems to think he has the right to dictate how they live their personal lives. As James from Fundie Fridays points out, Ramsey might even have a point when he says that a person who will cheat on their spouse will probably also cheat in financial matters. However, I doubt that Jesus would be okay with Ramsey’s habit of abusing and disparaging people who don’t dance to his tune. I think Ramsey’s behavior is often distinctly unChristlike. He says Christians should be “cheerfully generous” in giving their money… but I would submit that Jesus would also want people to be generous in how (or whether) they judge, and ultimately treat, other people.

So anyway…. I think you should watch the above video if what I’ve written sounds intriguing to you. I think James did a great job covering Dave Ramsey, and I hope he does more videos. I love watching Jen’s videos, too, but it was a nice change seeing and hearing from her boyfriend, and they make a great team.

And finally…

There’s still more I could write about this morning. Like, for instance, how it’s impossible to leave a comment on a Facebook news article and not either get hit on by some roving creep with one Facebook friend, or have some stranger put words in your fingers and try to lure you into an argument. I did get hit on by a creepy Facebook dude, who was apparently looking for people to scam. I politely told him to fuck off, and happily, he did.

Things were going swimmingly, until some other guy came along and posted about people with “blood on their hands”. He mentioned me in his comment, and compared Europe to Texas and Florida. Having been to both of those states, I disagreed with his assessment. Europe is nothing like Texas or Florida, even in terms of COVID.

He came back and jumped on me, starting his comment with “Are you telling me that…” and more emotional posturing. I was immediately annoyed, because the comment was several hours old; Bill had just come home; and I just had no desire to get into a Facebook argument with a stranger looking for a fight. I left a longer comment explaining myself, prefacing it by writing “I never said that.” And then I ended it with, “There’s no need to get snippy with me. I was simply commenting on a news article. The COVID-19 situation is not my fault.” He tried twice more to get to me to respond, but I ignored him, because Bill’s home and we were tired… and who’s got the time or inclination to argue with some stranger on Facebook?

I do think it’s a shame, though, that we can’t have calm, rational, sane discussions on social media without it turning into something nasty and uncivilized. I get that people are frustrated, pent up, and angry about a whole lot of things, from COVID-19, to Kyle Rittenhouse, to Dave Ramsey’s bully tactics. But that’s no reason to be rude to a perfect stranger’s painfully neutral comment on a news article. I know that will never change in my lifetime, though, so I probably shouldn’t engage regardless.

So ends today’s blog post. I hope you have a great Saturday, wherever you are… and the news of the world isn’t too distressing.

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complaints, rants, social media

Sanctimonious preachers on social media…

It’s Monday, so I figure it’s time for a rant. I’ve ranted about this topic before. I’m going to rant about it again. Brace yourselves, or move on to your next Internet station.

Last night, an acquaintance of mine through social media and a now defunct messageboard, shared a whole shitload of “memes” and photos with quotes on them. Everything she shared was basically a lecture to the masses, imploring them to straighten up and live the way she thinks is right. I finally had to hide her posts because, while I was fine with one or two of them, I didn’t need to see two dozen. I just went and counted, and she literally posted 24 of these fucking social media social justice warrior posts.

I didn’t need to see that. Especially since she wasn’t the only one “preaching” by using other people’s photos and viral posts. It’s bad enough when one person does it. It gets super annoying when several people do it.

Today, as I write this, another social media acquaintance– this one a relative I’ve never met in person– is sharing for the masses. This is what she just posted…

Are people’s minds ever changed by these kinds of posts, even if they are based in truth?

I don’t even disagree with the above sentiment. I do think, for many people, what is written above is true. I don’t think it’s true for everyone. I mean, there are bound to be people on the Internet who really have done a lot of reading and researching of scientific journals. For some people, it’s their job to do that. There was a time when it was my job to read epidemiological studies and papers and translate them into layman’s language. But regardless, I don’t think the attitude in this post, while understandable, is particularly helpful or effective. I also don’t think it’s pleasant to read something like this. I wouldn’t like it from someone I know personally, and love. I especially don’t like it from someone I’ve never met in person. No one likes being cussed at and insulted. It’s not a good way to convince people.

Below are just a sampling of what I saw on my feed yesterday. I don’t necessarily disagree with the messages, but I don’t like the tone of them. They’re bristly and rude, and they don’t change anyone’s opinions. They just piss people off and divide us all.

I am all for cooperating with others. I’m a big fan of empathy. I just don’t think these kinds of messages, particularly spread among “friends”, are useful. At best, they mainly rally the like-minded. Anyone you’d actually want to change their views and their practices won’t be swayed by memes, especially when they are offensively stated.

I mainly ignore the people who share this stuff. I tend to unfollow the worst offenders. If they really get obnoxious, I unfriend… but I tend to put up with a lot of sanctimony before I go that route. Most people probably mean well. I just don’t think a lot of them spend much time thinking before they share. Or maybe our society has simply become so crusty and calloused that we don’t care how other people might take these “viral” truisms. I, for one, am a lot more convinced by people who use their own words, rather than stale memes and “quotes” from others… especially since so many quotes aren’t even correctly attributed or presented in context.

What if I don’t wanna?

Every once in awhile, I share something written by someone else. But most of the time, they are funny observations. Like, for instance, I shared this last night…

This is the kind of stuff I like to see. Give me something that will make me laugh.

I don’t need someone passing along a stale meme to tell me how to behave or what to believe. If my mom couldn’t get me to behave properly, you won’t be able to, either. And most of us don’t want or need someone telling us how to act. I would certainly love it if people would stop championing right wing nutjobs. But I’m not going to tell another adult what to do, especially with someone else’s lame ass social media post. If I feel the need to do that, and care enough to want to risk the fallout, I will do it using my own words. Besides, I thought Facebook was supposed to be a fun place for friends to meet and reminisce. At what point did it become a place for soapbox activism? Especially when the activism is hostile and rude?

Yeah… this one I can agree with wholeheartedly.

When it comes to preaching, I’m with George Carlin. I think social media activism and virtue signaling is a lot like the whole “Baby on Board” phenomenon. Check it out, cuz George was onto something.

Don’t tell me your troubles, lady.

Well… that about does it for today’s post. We are going to be traveling to Austria tomorrow, so I may or may not have a chance to write. It depends on what time we get on the road. After two nights in Austria, we will move on to Croatia, then Slovenia, then back to Austria and home. I hope it all goes off without a hitch. I have missed traveling so much, and I’m ready to plan our next trip. For now, I have to get some chores done. Bill is taking his very first class through the Jung Institute in Switzerland. It’s an online seminar. I have a feeling he’s going to love these studies. Maybe he’ll even become a qualified shrink someday. Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing my guitar.

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