communication, healthcare, law, mental health, psychology, social media

“Ammosexuals” who steadfastly refuse to accept reality, as more people die…

Happy last day of March, y’all. It’s been quite an eventful month for Bill and me. We lost our beloved Arran, finally took a road trip, and watched the weather gradually turn from wintery to springlike. I always enjoy spring, even though April is historically kind of a “cruel” month. Especially when it comes to gun violence.

I remember back on April 20, 1999, when we first heard the names Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, of Columbine, Colorado. News of the Columbine High School shootings was on every major television network. People were incredibly shocked by the violence of it. Until February 2018, the Columbine High School Massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It is still the deadliest mass shooting in Colorado history.

What initially prompted Harris and Klebold to do what they did? I read that they had originally planned to bomb their school. Were they influenced by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, two men who were behind the Oklahoma City Bombing in April 1995? Reading up on Columbine, I don’t think Harris and Klebold were motivated by the same causes McVeigh and Nichols were, but maybe they admired the sheer number of people who died. And now, their community’s name is a code word for the mass shootings that have plagued the country over the past 24 years.

As I sit here typing this, I remember April 1995, when the Alfred P. Murrah building was blown up. That incident was inspired by another incident– Ruby Ridge in 1992 and the 1993 Waco siege carried out by US federal officials. The one thing these incidents have in common is a violent precursor. The old saying goes– “violence begets violence.” When someone is hurt or killed in a violent way, it inspires a violent reaction in other people. And, just like the cursed COVID virus, it spreads apace.

I have a Facebook friend who is an Air Force veteran and an ex Mormon. He lives in Texas, and espouses surprisingly liberal views. I haven’t seen him posting much lately, but when he does post, he often refers to “ammosexuals”. I like that term, because it really does seem like a lot of people are practically in love with their guns. Like… they almost get a sexual charge from owning and carrying a weapon.

While a lot of those folks claim to care about gun safety, and often bring up their Second Amendment rights, they have what I think are inappropriate reactions to mass shootings. It’s almost as if they forget that real human beings were hurt or killed by the shooter’s bullets. They have no empathy for what that must feel like. I’ve never been shot myself, but I would imagine it feels like a searing hot pain that blasts through the body as the person’s insides are suddenly given egress and blood and other “stuff” comes bursting out. Again, I am only speculating. I could be totally wrong. Maybe this is only inspired by what I’ve seen on television. Still, the idea of it is horrifying to me. Especially when it involves already born children.

Last night, I happened to run across an argument two people were having about gun control. The argument became quite disrespectful and abusive in a hurry. I later found out that these two people had been friends for decades, but they had a fundamental disagreement over guns. One person argued that we need more gun control. The other argued that guns aren’t the problem; mentally ill people are the problem. Then they queried whether or not we should be banning motor vehicles, since they can also kill or hurt a lot of people.

I was observing the argument and it occurred to me how ridiculous the gun lover’s argument was. Cars are meant for transportation. Guns are meant for hurting or killing living things or– maybe– target practice. But a person doesn’t need an actual weapon to practice their aim. They could use a laser gun for that purpose. Guns are intended to hurt and kill. Cars are intended to get people from Point A to Point B.

Yes, cars have also been used to hurt people, too. The recent case of Darrell Brooks comes to mind, as he drove an SUV into a Christmas parade and killed six people, injuring another sixty-two. However, Mr. Brooks’ case is a relatively rare one. It’s not like dozens of angry, mentally ill people have decided to crash their cars into parades, or other public events. The only other incident I can think of off the top of my head took place in Charlottesville, Virginia back in the summer of 2017, when a young woman named Heather Heyer was killed by James Alex Fields, Jr., a right wing terrorist who deliberately drove his car into a crowd. Besides the one fatality, there were another 35 people injured, which is no small consideration.

Although I do believe that people who go on shooting sprees are often mentally ill, in a sense, I also want to point out that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous. These shootings, which often involve radicalized white, male, right-wing terrorists, aren’t typically the people one might find in a psychiatric hospital. I’ve also noticed that the same people who blame the shootings on the “mentally ill”, are also people who don’t seem to want to do anything to help the mentally ill. They don’t vote for affordable and accessible healthcare, nor do they want to be mandated to have health insurance. They’re all about their “freedoms”, but they don’t seem to realize that feeling the need to pack heat every time one goes out in public isn’t very “freeing”– especially for those of us who don’t want to be armed.

I’ve mentioned before that I find living in Germany quite liberating. There are far fewer people with weapons here, so there are a lot fewer stories about people being killed because they were in the wrong places at the wrong times. I like the fact that anyone who carries a weapon in Germany has to go through a lot to prove they can handle the responsibility. It’s way too easy for Americans to get guns, and way too hard for Americans to access mental healthcare… or regular healthcare, for that matter. To me, this problem seems very obvious.

I understand that some people think the horse is already out of the barn on this issue– there are so many weapons out there that it’s impossible to collect enough of them to make a difference. And some people really don’t feel safe without their Smith & Wesson strapped to their holsters. I wonder if it’s going to take them being personally affected by gun violence before they realize that more guns aren’t the answer to this problem. Even if it really is an issue of the mentally ill running amok, there’s still the problem of them getting guns so easily, so they can do real damage to people.

Audrey Hale owned seven guns, all of which were legally purchased. Because of that easy access to guns, six people are dead. Meanwhile, Tennessee is banning drag shows and forcing people to stay pregnant. When are we going to realize that mentally ill people and guns don’t mix? Hale had a history of receiving mental health services. I’m sure in that respect, healthcare privacy laws were respected, and no one asked questions when Hale bought weapons. If Hale had been pregnant and wanted to terminate the pregnancy, people in Tennessee would have had a lot more to say about it. It boggles the mind…

Anyway… it turns out that my friend who was engaged in an argument about gun control is no longer friends with the person with whom he was debating. The conversation spiraled out of control from the get go, and became offensive in a hurry. No one’s hearts or minds were changed, and a very long friendship seemed to come to an abrupt end. My friend told me that the end had been coming over the past few years… probably when Trump came on the scene. It’s sad to see friends and family members so polarized over what, to me, seems like a common sense issue. But when it comes to guns, some people really are “ammosexuals”. They can’t stop being attracted to that killing device, and the imagined powers it gives them… until they actually hurt or kill someone and have to answer for that in some devastating way.

Well, tomorrow is April Fools Day. Maybe I’ll have a cheerier topic to write about then. Have a good Friday, y’all.

I took the featured photo at a Mix Markt store a few years ago… it’s a depiction of another thing that doesn’t mix– guns and booze! But even in peaceful Germany, some people worship weapons!

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complaints, holidays, rants, social media

Calling it “St. Patty’s Day” is one way to get an Irishman’s Irish up…

Top o’ the mornin’ to ye… Here’s a little mood music…

Kiss my ass.

Actually, as I write this, morning has about eleven minutes left. Then it will be noon. Bill has to leave for Bayern/Bavaria again this afternoon. I will spend the next three nights alone. Then he’ll come home, and life will continue until Friday, which is St. Patrick’s Day.

We probably won’t be doing anything special on the big day for “wearin’ green”. Even though Bill and I have some Irish roots and an Irish last name, I’m really more of a Scot. I think Bill is, too. For the longest time, we both thought he had a lot more Irish ancestry than he does. I was sure he was more Irish than I am. But, according to 23&Me and Ancestry.com, I am more Irish… and one can probably tell that by my temperament.

Bwahahahaha… I’m kidding, of course.

This morning, The Irish Times ran a story that got a bunch of Facebook comments from Irish people. The lovely Brianna Parkins, who is evidently not an Irish native (she’s from Australia), wrote yet another compelling column with a controversial title. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might remember that last month I posted about Parkins’ column. She wrote a piece titled “Now it’s okay for men to pee sitting down, here are a few other changes they could make“. Irish people went “fookin'” nuts.

I ended up having an argument with one guy, who was apparently irritated by my comment that some German women train their men to sit when they pee. That’s the truth, by the way. One guy wanted to argue with me about it. It turned into a blog entry.

But, as it was on that occasion, and as it is on this occasion, Parkins’ column wasn’t actually about what the headline implied. The earlier post I wrote wasn’t really about men sitting down to take a piss. The column was actually about violence against women. But Irish men were “taking the piss” and arguing about whether or not they should be compelled to pee sitting down. It was quite the mess.

Today’s column that has Irish people’s Irish up is titled “Be patient with us clueless foreigners this ‘St. Patty’s Day’”. Of course, because the article is behind a paywall, most of the people commenting haven’t read it. They don’t understand that, of course, Ms. Parkins knows that there’s no such thing as “St. Patty’s Day”. And, amazingly enough, they don’t get that the quotation marks in the headline are a dead giveaway that The Irish Times is well aware that the correct term is St. Patrick’s Day or, if one must abbreviate, “St. Paddy’s Day.” The Irish equivalent of Patrick is, of course, Padraig.

I can understand why it makes Irish people grit their teeth and cringe when they hear some clueless Yank refer to “St. Patty’s Day” while they pinch people who aren’t wearing green. However, the misspelled name was part of the point Ms. Parkins made in her very funny and astute column. If they had respected her enough to read what she actually wrote before complaining on Facebook, maybe they would have had a good laugh.

Butters gets in trouble for pinching people who don’t wear green…

Parkins’ column was a polite request for Irish folks to be patient with us excitable non-Irish folks. We Yanks get excited about St. Patrick’s Day and our connections to Ireland, no matter how tenuous. And a lot of us are clueless about the realities of living in Ireland in 2023. We just have romantic notions of what it should be like.

Parkins writes of the tourists who show up for St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, wearing their “Kiss me, I’m Irish” t-shirts:

These are the people who swear blind to you that it’s “St Pattys Day”. The type that say they are allowed to pinch you on March 17th without repercussions because you didn’t wear green. In primary school I once walloped a particularly strong fingered and vicious child which I viewed as a proportionate use of force for the shocking act of violence foisted on me. The teacher did not and explained I should have known that I had to wear green or the ‘leprechauns’ would get me because I had an Irish family. An Irish family who never did this pinching carry-on because it’s not actually done in Ireland. My mum might have laughed at this story but not as much as the time she received a note from the school canteen advertising a special Irish lunch option to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Was it bacon and cabbage? Coddle? Stew? Crisp sandwiches? No, they proudly announced they would be serving traditional Irish tacos, just like Peig Sayers and Fungi the Dolphin used to enjoy. The fillings you see make the tricolour – orange is carrot, white is over processed shredded cheese and green is lettuce. Which means the tacos were an insult to Mexican and Irish culture. Quite the achievement.

Bwahahahaha… too funny.

But go on the Facebook post for Parkins’ column, and you’ll read many, many indignant comments from people who couldn’t be arsed to read the article before chiming in. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know… it’s behind a paywall. So buy a fucking subscription, then! Or, at least pay attention to the comments from the people who did read, so we don’t have to wade through your uninformed complaints.

That shit drives me NUTS. Seriously… if you don’t have the time or money to read before commenting, I don’t have the time to wade through your bullshit drivel. Check out these comments…

Bravo to Joan Butler, to whom I gave a red heart. Read the fucking article, PLEASE. Show us you actually CAN read!

I have noticed there are a lot of conservatives in Ireland. I’ve also noticed that a lot of conservatives aren’t readers. Coincidence? I don’t know… But The Irish Times is a great paper. They have some truly good journalists who don’t want to work for free. So, for the love of St. Paddy, please subscribe to The Irish Times and then, by all means, make your informed comments on the articles… not just the headlines! The writers will thank you, and those of us who do read, will also be grateful that we don’t have to read your comments and complaints about literal non-issues.

Danke sehr… 😉

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first world problems, healthcare, lessons learned, social media

Man dreams of dying by age 75… Internet goes berserk.

I ripped off today’s “clever” featured photo a couple of weeks ago, when I was engaged with the rude commenter who kept calling me “stupid” and “inane”. I think it’s a photo that invites a second look and says something unexpected…

We’re on the fast track to spring! Pretty soon, the trees and flowers will be bursting with new life. As beautiful as spring always is, it’s also the season when my allergies burst into new life. But at least there will be fragrant flowers, warmer temperatures, and longer days.

Welcome to March. This month promises to suck, as it usually does. Bill has a business trip next week, and part of the week after that. At the end of the month, we have a big trip to Stuttgart planned, so we can see the dentist and have procedures done. Meanwhile, Arran is still hanging in there. I will take him to the vet today for a treatment and exam. He really is an amazing dog with a strong will to live. As I’ve learned, after years of having dogs in my life, not all dogs are like that. Not all people are like that, either.

This morning, as I was waiting for Bill to come out of the bathroom, I noticed an October 2014 era article in The Atlantic that was reposted on Facebook. It was provocatively titled “Why I Hope to Die at Age 75”, and accompanied by the broadly smiling visage of a healthy looking man with glasses and grey hair. The author of the article, also the man in the photo, was named Ezekiel J. Emmanuel. He had subtitled his article with this thought: An argument that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly.

I was immediately intrigued. To be very honest, I’m not one of those people who wants to live for a super long time. I have a tendency toward depression, which means I often look at the dark side of things. I also had an angst ridden childhood that, at times, has been hard to overcome.

I know my childhood certainly wasn’t as bad as some people’s childhoods are. In fact, I’d say I probably had a very privileged childhood on many levels, at least in terms of material comforts. However, I often felt like I didn’t belong, especially within my own family. I never seemed to live up to other people’s expectations of me. After awhile, I had the same high expectations for myself, which I rarely managed to meet.

Frequently hearing my mom say things like “If you didn’t look so much like my mother, I’d swear I picked up the wrong baby at the hospital.” or “I never meant to have a fourth child.” or “Where did you COME from?” wasn’t helpful. She made it seem like my presence– which she and my dad were responsible for– was a huge inconvenience to her. That sentiment came through to me loud and clear, and it colored my world view.

Of course, now I know that my mom is imperfect, as we all are. Her comments were borne out of frustrations that had nothing to do with me. I just happened to be on the receiving end of them, because I was a child, and had no other choice. I eventually got away from that shit, but the memories still linger. I don’t have children of my own, nor do I have a burgeoning career, except as a blogger who writes things that few people read. Why should I hang around to be 100, like my Granny did?

So I read the article in The Atlantic, which leads with this hooky paragraph:

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can’t mean what I say; that I haven’t thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well. They are certain that as I get closer to 75, I will push the desired age back to 80, then 85, maybe even 90.

I’m not surprised that Emmanuel’s relatives are horrified by the statements he’s bravely uttered to them. It’s taboo to make comments indicating that one hopes for death at ANY age. Remember a few months ago, when Queen Elizabeth II died? She was 96 years old, and had lost her beloved husband less than two years prior. People were calling her death TRAGIC! Isn’t that insane?

Queen Elizabeth II lived for 96 years, a reigning monarch for 70 years in a modern country, surrounded by wealth, rubbing elbows with important people, and adored by so many people. She didn’t spend her last weeks languishing alone in a nursing home. She didn’t die at age 20, on the cusp of womanhood. She lived a full life, and it was simply time for her to move on. But people were calling her death tragic!

Emmanuel’s article was written in 2014, which was about six years before the whole world was caught in the grips of COVID-19. Countless elderly people died of the illness. People are still dying of COVID, although it seems like folks aren’t talking about it as much these days. Frankly, I’m glad they aren’t talking about it so much. I’m delighted there’s a lot less fighting over face masks and vaccines. Things are feeling decidedly more normal, although as I could see in the Facebook comment section for Emmanuel’s article, lots of people are still mourning the loss.

One lady bitterly wrote about how her elderly dad died “before his time” in a rehabilitation hospital, because people were fighting over wearing a “fucking mask”. I can tell she misses him. She’s still grieving his death. But did he really die too early? Or was COVID-19 just one of many diseases conspiring to end his life? She blames people for not wanting to wear masks, but even wearing face masks wasn’t going to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. All the masks could do was slow down the spread a bit.

I remember a couple of years ago, I wrote about the time I got a venomous private message from some guy who was upset when I took issue with a comment he made about an elderly couple who had just gotten married. The groom was 91, and his wife was 86. They wore masks during their wedding ceremony, but the wife’s mask happened to slip beneath her nose. Someone got a photo, and it was shared in the article about their nuptials. An all knowing MALE wrote that the bride’s improper face mask wearing was going to send her to an “early” grave.

In my post about this, I wrote:

I was a bit gobsmacked by the guy’s comment. I mean, these folks have already lived a normal life span. Millie is 86. Sam is 91. They aren’t going to be going to an “early” grave, regardless of what kills them. They aren’t teenagers, or even middle-aged. And they sure as hell didn’t need to be chastised by some busybody guy who feels the need to confront others about how they wear their masks on camera. I made a comment to that effect. Next thing I know, I’ve got a spam message from this guy who chewed me out, telling me that a death from COVID-19 is a premature death and calling me “stupid”. Of course he blocked me, so I couldn’t respond.

Likewise, a couple of weeks ago, I got repeatedly insulted by an Irish Times reader who took issue with my comment that “life is 100 percent fatal”. We were commenting on an article about a woman who was publicly fat shamed for wanting to order a cheese course. The person who called my comments “inane” and “stupid” was pushing for health promotion, writing to me as if I’m completely ignorant on the topic. As someone with master’s degrees in public health and social work, I’m literally not at all ignorant about health preservation. I just don’t agree that life should be about denying oneself simple pleasures over fears of a heart attack or a stroke.

Moderation is the key, of course, but we all have our own ideas of what moderation means. For some people, the fear of a heart attack or another chronic disease is enough to make them want to avoid certain indulgences. Other people don’t feel that way at all. They’d like to enjoy their cheese course in peace. That doesn’t necessarily make them reckless, foolhardy, or stupid.

After trying to maintain decorum and polite discourse with the insulting commenter, I’d finally had enough. I ended up telling off the stranger, who had relentlessly kept insulting me as she pushed her health promotion point. I explained that I would rather eat what I want with my friends, and live a shorter lifespan, than not eat what I want, and have to linger on this planet with “miserable bitches” like her. Then, I asked her to “kindly fuck off and leave me alone”, which she kindly did.

Ezekiel Emmanuel, author of The Atlantic piece that prompted today’s post, writes:

I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

I see nothing wrong or controversial about what Emmanuel wrote here. I come from a long line of people who have lived for a long time. My Granny was almost 101 when she died. She was amazingly active and beloved in her golden years, but when it was time for her to go, I have no doubt that she was ready. Likewise, my dad, who was a very healthy and active man, died at age 81 after spending six years in the hellish cognitive and physical decline of Lewy Body Dementia. His brother, my beloved Uncle Brownlee, had a stroke in 2019 while he was out and about. Two weeks later, he was gone. Somehow, I think Brownlee’s death, albeit at a younger age, was markedly better than my dad’s.

Emmanuel further writes:

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

Again… he’s not wrong. And it’s not that he’s saying he’s planning to off himself. In fact, in the next paragraph, he even writes that he’s against assisted suicide. He claims people who want help killing themselves are usually suffering from depression. Personally, I disagree with him on that. I don’t think a person has to be depressed to realize that a progressive brain tumor or Alzheimer’s Disease is inevitably going to rob them of their dignity and self-determination. I don’t think a person who wants to pass on before that can happen is necessarily “depressed”. To me, it makes good logical sense to want to get help in dying, especially under those conditions. I’m not the only one who feels that way, either. Moreover, living with unrelenting depression is also miserable. In a case when depression won’t abate, maybe assisted suicide makes sense.

But then he continues:

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.

So basically, what Emmanuel is saying is, he’s going to stop trying to prolong his life beyond the age of 75. That means if a doctor finds out he has cancer or some other debilitating, chronic disease, he’s not necessarily going to seek treatment– particularly aggressive treatment. He might not bother with screenings. He recognizes that the older one gets, the more help they need into keeping going. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable observation. At some point, there are diminishing returns.

To read some of the comments on Facebook, though… So many people complained about ageism and devaluing the elderly. One person even compared the writer’s ideas to that of a Nazi, as the Nazis saw people in certain “undesirable or unproductive groups”, such as the elderly, disabled, LGBTQ, or those who weren’t white and Christian, as “useless eaters”. I saw more than one person complaining that the article was going to give people “dangerous ideas”.

All the guy did was share an opinion. No one is being forced to agree with or actively support Ezekiel Emmanuel’s ideas. They’re just food for thought. I see no need for offense or outrage on this subject. Emmanuel is not trying to say that all elderly people should have an expiration date. He’s simply sharing his thoughts, and perhaps stimulating other people to think about how they feel on this topic. He’s saying that when he’s 75, he hopes to die. It doesn’t mean he absolutely will die at 75. It doesn’t even mean that he can’t or won’t change his mind. It’s just a thought. Why are so many people afraid of people sharing their thoughts? And why do people have to be so critical and condescending when someone shares a thought with which they disagree?

One commenter wrote this, and I heartily agree:

Stunning how this article is being misconstrued by people with anecdotes about healthy old folk. I’m 77. Boringly healthy but I stopped all routine tests, pokings and proddings before I was 70. I may get some things done like cataract surgery since I am the family driver. However if I get something nasty I don’t plan on extreme measures. It’s in my will etc. For every healthy elder anecdote there are thousands of elderly getting major surgery when they cannot care for themselves at all. The “children” are desperate to …save Mom. Well, don’t save me (or the good doctor) if I can’t get to the bathroom by myself, thank you very much.

And others made really tone deaf comments, or complained when the tone deaf are rightfully invited to fuck off…

I don’t blame the first commenter for telling the second one to fuck off. What a dumb comment.

My Uncle Ed died last summer at age 85. I hadn’t spoken to him in some time, mainly because he’d slipped into Trumpian cognitive dissonance and labeled me a “liberal nutjob”. However, I did hear that Ed had a mass on his lung that he’d opted not to treat. Frankly, I can’t blame him for that. He lost his beloved wife, Nancy, in 2010. Donald Trump was no longer the president and the election wasn’t going to be overturned. What was the point of sticking around until age 86, when there were many loved ones who had passed before him? Maybe Heaven is real. At some point, it makes sense to pass on. Dying is part of living, and it’s something not a single one of us can avoid. If you were born, you will someday die. So you might as well live life on your own terms and enjoy it as you see fit, as much as you’re able.

I don’t have a problem with Ezekiel Emmanuel’s publicly stated thoughts about wanting to die at age 75. It’s just something to think about. Doesn’t mean any of us are going to actually do something to make death happen at a specific time. I don’t feel anger or fear in reading that idea, because in the grand scheme of things, that’s really all it is. Maybe it makes sense to him, even if it doesn’t make sense to other people. He should be allowed to speak his mind, and other people should have enough faith in themselves and other people to be able to hear his thoughts without feeling threatened by them.

Don’t tell people to “shut up”, simply because they dare to convey an idea that you can’t yet fathom. Be brave enough to hear them out. Maybe you’ll even learn something new.

These are just my thoughts, though. Please don’t take them as gospel… not that I expect anyone would.

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memories, nostalgia, social media

Sometimes beer takes me places I never expected to go…

If you attempt to read this, please do me a favor and try to make it to the end before passing judgment.

A couple of days ago, I did a search of my own posts on Facebook. I don’t even remember what I was hoping to find. Maybe it’s because I drink a lot of beer. 😉 In any case, when I did that search, I unexpectedly found today’s featured photo. I got a kick out of it for many nostalgic reasons.

That photo was taken 30 years ago, during my junior year at what was then known as Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia. It’s a pretty special picture for many nostalgic reasons… including some I’ve just realized so many years later. I’ll get to why in a few paragraphs, if you’ll just indulge me a bit.

My junior year roommate was a year older than me, and the one I got along with best during my college years. She was a very serious student– extremely hard working and high achieving. I don’t know if this is still true, but at the time, she was said to be the very last organ performance major at Longwood. Her goal was to be a music teacher. I hung out with a lot of music majors. They were some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known.

This roommate and I got along very well, which is an amazing thing. We lived on the third floor of South Cunningham, which has since been demolished. In fact, the room I had during my sophomore year is no longer used as a dormitory. It’s now an administration building. Those of us who went to Longwood College, as opposed to Longwood University, have very different memories of the campus. It really has changed that much. I guess it leads to bonding on Facebook.

I’m always a little dismayed when I realize that I went through SEVEN Longwood roommates, and that was even with two semesters during which I had my own room. Sometimes I feel like I’m just not a very likeable person who isn’t compatible with most others, even though Bill and I are ridiculously compatible.

Then, when I think about it, I realize that my roommate situation is not as bad as it sounds. One year, I temporarily had a second roommate who eventually got kicked out of school. One year, my roommate joined a sorority and moved in with her new “sisters”. I had the room to myself in the spring. Another year, I had a roommate for a few weeks, until she left to student teach. Then I got a new roommate during the spring semester before my graduation, and we got along fine.

Then there’s my very first roommate, “Margaret” (not her real name) with whom I only spent a week before she basically kicked me out of the room so her slutty friend across the hall could move in. I’ve already blogged about her, though…

Before anyone comes at me, let me just say that I know it’s not nice to call someone a slut, but that was basically what Margaret’s friend and future roommate was like. We had been at college for a mere week, and she just wanted to skank around with fraternity guys. My former roommate delusionally thought the frat guys would like her, too, so she tagged along with her friend of one week. I understand from my former suitemates that their living arrangement didn’t work out very well.

If I hadn’t been in the middle of that mess during my first week of college, I might have felt sorry for my former roommate. The chick from across the hall– who openly and unabashedly spoke of her “twat” itching (yes, she literally said this– and I was confused because, at the time, I don’t even think I knew what a twat was)– was probably just using ex roommate for her money.

Margaret had a lot of money, but to be blunt, she was definitely not a looker. But she and fraternity skank showed me nothing but contempt, so I don’t have a lot of regard for either of them. Besides, it all worked out for the best. Both of those women left Longwood after our freshman year, and this article isn’t about them, anyway. So, I’ll move on. 😉

Junior year was a pretty good year for me. That was the one year I finally had a good friend as a roommate. Because I was 20 years old, I couldn’t buy my own booze… except at a couple of places that never carded people. My friend, who wasn’t a drinker, helped me buy a case of Bud Dry at what was then a Harris Teeter supermarket (I think it’s now a Kroger). Bud Dry was highfalutin’ beer in those days. I usually drank Natural Light or something of that caliber. There was a Canadian beer called Arctic Bay that I used to get all the time. I don’t think they make it anymore. I know Bud Dry is now defunct, as of 2010.

Being 20 years old and not very experienced in the ways of the world, I honestly thought Bud Dry was good stuff. So I packed it into my dented and RENTED dorm fridge and took a picture for posterity. At some point, I shared the photo on Facebook, where a lot of laughs and discussion ensued. As I mentioned up post, South Cunningham was demolished, but it was a much loved home at Longwood for a lot of students. So that photo of Bud Dry was definitely prime sharing material. First, I shared it on my personal page; then I shared it in a group for Longwood College alums (as opposed to Longwood University alums).

At this writing, about 250 people in the group have liked the photo, and there have been a lot of lively comments about it. Most of the comments have been about what “expensive” tastes I had, since I wasn’t drinking Milwaukee’s Best (Beast) or its ilk. Again, the reason there was a photo was because I was “proud” of drinking Bud Dry. I thought I was living large. I was, but only in terms of my clothing size. 😀

I was enjoying the Facebook commentary about the photo when I noticed someone with a familiar, yet unusual, last name had “liked” it. Suddenly, I remembered a woman I knew of because of my second Longwood roommate, the woman who had joined Kappa Delta sorority and moved in with her “sisters” during the spring of my freshman year.

Though I never joined a sorority myself, I eventually learned that most of them had nicknames based on their campus reputations. I also found out that a sorority chapter on one campus might be totally different than they’d be on another. For instance, I have some cousins who were Sigma Kappas at the University of Georgia. The Sigma Kappas at Longwood when I was a student there were known as really “smart” and kind of nerdy. But my cousins, if they had gone to Longwood, were probably more like Kappa Deltas or maybe Zeta Tau Alphas, both of which were founded at Longwood. Actually, if they had gone to Longwood, my cousins would have probably pledged ZTA, because their grandmother, my Aunt Jeanne, was a ZTA at Longwood.

My roommate after “Margaret” was a woman who happened to have the same first and last name as Margaret did. However, she spelled her first name differently and went by a nickname. I’ll call her “Maggy”. She was the opposite of Margaret. While Margaret was a narcissistic asshole who wore braces, and was morbidly obese, Maggy was slim, cool, and pretty. She was a natural for the “KD ladies”, as she told me they were known as at Longwood.

Maggy and I weren’t destined to be long term friends, but she was a much better fit than Margaret was. At least she didn’t come in during the middle of the night and turn on the overhead light while I was sleeping, right? In fact, a lot of nights, she slept with her boyfriend. That was cool for me!

Anyway, Maggy was very busy during the semester she pledged her sorority. She had a composite photo of all of the “sisters”. I remember seeing that photo every day during my first semester at Longwood. I remember most of the women in that photo were really conventionally pretty, like Maggy was. However, there was one woman who stood out in the composite photo. She was very attractive, but not in the super pretty way the others were. She had what seemed like a rare kind of charisma. I found her interesting and was curious about her.

I remember taking notice of the woman’s name, mainly because she had kind of an unusual moniker. I also noticed her because she had a dazzling smile that was very genuine, like someone everyone would want to meet and know. Again, she was not gorgeous in the typical popular sorority girl way, but she had an inner radiance about her. I could tell that she was someone who made friends very easily.

Maggy’s new sorority sister had a rare kind of true inner beauty. Her magnetism was obvious and memorable to me, even though I didn’t even know her. In fact, I never even met her when I was at Longwood. As an 18 year old, I just noticed and remembered her name and her face… and as time marched on, I eventually forgot about her… until last night.

I noticed someone with the same unusual last name liking my beer fridge post. I hadn’t thought of Maggy’s “dazzling smiled” sorority sister in well over 30 years. She was two years ahead of me, and we didn’t run in the same circles. At first, I thought the person who had liked the photo was the same woman with the dazzling smile. She hadn’t spelled out her first name on Facebook, but she had the same first initial as Maggy’s sorority sister did, plus the same surname.

I was curious, so I took a look at the person’s profile. After a minute or two, I realized that the person who had liked my post wasn’t the woman with the dazzling smile. Instead, she appeared to be a family member– perhaps a sister or a cousin.

There was a picture of the woman with the smile on her public Facebook page, and based on the comments, it appeared that she had died. I followed another link to Maggy’s sorority sister’s profile, and saw more comments from people who missed her. They commented on her spirit and her laugh. I could relate to that, since my laugh is very distinctive, too. When I die, I’m sure if anyone still knows me offline, they’ll comment on my laugh, too.

A few more minutes of investigation revealed that the woman with the smile had died of breast cancer. I soon found many pictures of her before and after treatment. There were pictures of her that recalled how she’d looked in her Kappa Delta composite photo. And there were pictures of her smiling bravely, with very short hair, and then finally completely bald. In every single one of those photos, there was that radiant smile that defied the circumstances and revealed what appeared to be an indomitable spirit. I don’t even know her story, but the smile told me a lot about her.

Soon, I found myself looking closer at the people she’d left behind. This was a woman who was obviously much beloved by a lot of folks, especially her family, but also friends and colleagues. She had clearly made an impression on many, and had left a very positive and indelible mark on their hearts. I suddenly felt kind of sad, because I wished I’d had a chance to meet her. Behind her sparkling, lively eyes, and bright, brave, dazzling smile, even when she was completely bald, there was a remarkable woman who had really made a difference to so many.

Of course, if I had met her, there’s every chance that we wouldn’t have meshed. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. I tend to be the kind of person people love or hate. But now that I think about it, looking at pictures of Maggy’s sorority sister reminds me of an experience I had on a road trip years ago, when I happened to run into a Buddhist monk. I wrote about that experience here, but the short story is, that guy had a countenance that immediately put me at ease and calmed me down when I had been hangry and wound up tighter than a spring. I was awestruck and moved by simply being in the peaceful monk’s presence, looking at him from across a crowded room.

When I did a similar search for old photos last night, I happened across one about one of my relatives… She happened to live on a farm called Longwood, and she died a couple of years ago. I wasn’t very close to this relative. Although we were family, we didn’t agree on religion or politics. However, when she died, many people were genuinely devastated.

I noticed that along with the post her sister– another relative of mine– had written about missing her, there was a photo of them. And I noticed that they both had dazzling, warm, and genuine smiles, too. Even though we’re family, but not close friends, I can see that they obviously have left indelible marks on people. If I didn’t already know them due to our family connection, I’d probably be struck and ultimately touched by their beautiful smiles, too.

Isn’t it funny how a photo of a rented dorm fridge full of Bud Dry posted on Facebook can lead me to these places? Anyway… if anyone related to this woman figures out who she is and that I’ve written about her, I just want to say I’m very sorry for your loss. I can tell by the photos showcasing her smile that she was a very special person. Either that, or her dentists are worth their weight in platinum. 😉 (I’m kidding, of course…)

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complaints, condescending twatbags, funny stories, karma, sex, social media, YouTube

She wants sex. She just doesn’t want it with you.

I’m on quite a roll this week. I noticed that yesterday’s headline got a lot more clicks than usual. I suspect today’s headline will also be provocative for some readers. I hope there’s more to today’s post than just a funny title, but we’ll see.

First, a little old business. I wish to update yesterday’s post about men peeing while sitting down. It seems that one Irish Times Facebook commenter from Ireland was quite put out that I wrote, jokingly, that German women “train” their men to sit down when they pee. He told me that was “absolutely false”. And yet, there’s a book written about the phenomenon, signs in public (and private) restrooms, and lengthy threads on social media platforms and message boards about how German men are expected to sit down when they urinate. I probably should have added a caveat that they sit if there isn’t a urinal for them to use.

Now, this topic actually isn’t that big of a deal to me, personally. I just think it’s kind of funny and interesting. I don’t insist that Bill sit down when he pees in the toilets at our house. He voluntarily does so sometimes because it’s easier for him. But I don’t actually care either way if Bill sits or stands, as long as he cleans up after himself. He’s very good about that, so this isn’t a subject that we discuss very often, except for when we see the signs in public men’s rooms and laugh about them. Below are just two such signs.

I’ve never seen this anywhere else but in southern Germany…

I posted the link to the book called German Men Sit Down to Pee. That was the end of it, as far as I was concerned. I went on about my day. Hours later, I got a notification that the Irish guy had come back. He left a comment along the lines of, “I see you weren’t able to ‘prove’ that German men are trained by their women to sit down to pee.” Then he added a link to some article about this topic “proving me wrong.”

The Irish guy caught me at the end of the day, so I “laughed” at him and wrote something akin to “Nah. It just isn’t that important to me. I just know what I’ve seen in many years of living in Germany.”

In fact, I was already over the subject hours earlier, so I hadn’t even read his “challenge” to prove that German men sit to pee. Men sitting down to pee was not really what the Irish Times article we were referencing was about, anyway. That article was a classic example of a headline being too inflammatory to actually get people to read the article. Everyone was too busy commenting on the title, instead of reading the op-ed that followed.

You’d think that would be the end of it, but no. This guy is apparently very triggered by the idea that a woman might dare tell a man what to do when he pees. Again, I don’t do that to Bill, because he cleans up after himself. That’s honestly all I care about. But the Irish guy obviously needed to have the last word on the subject… or, perhaps, the last piss? 😀

I didn’t bother to read Irish guy’s next comment. I think he’s a little psycho, and continued engagement with him might encourage me to further “take the piss”. 😉

Think it would “piss” him off if I responded with this video? 😀

Now, on with today’s fresh topic… SEX!!!

Today’s featured photo is a screen grab from the hilarious short film, “Laid-Off: A Day in the Life” by Odd Todd.

Worth a view… This is an oldie but a goodie, though it has little to do with the topic below…

I’ve noticed that the God page has really gone downhill, lately. A lot of pages on Facebook have gone away from posting fresh, insightful, thought provoking content. Instead, they post endless “am I the asshole” posts from Reddit. I’m getting a little tired of that trend, myself. However, sometimes they do post some pretty funny AITA articles. This morning, I saw one that made me laugh. Behold:

It should be mentioned that the original post was removed. I don’t know if it’s because the answers this guy was getting about his “problem” were too embarrassing and humiliating, or because of Reddit’s
spam filters. I didn’t read a lot of the responses to this post, because frankly I was too busy laughing. In three paragraphs, this guy has basically stated the following about himself:

  1. He obviously thinks he’s a great lover and his wife isn’t a match for his virility.
  2. He obviously thinks she’s not very attractive to other people. Or, he did until she started having sex with other men.
  3. He’s selfish and entitled, and he thinks he “owns” his wife.
  4. He lacks communication skills.
  5. Sex is the only thing that is important to him in a relationship.
  6. Other men know how to treat his wife better than he does.
  7. He’s jealous and immature, and thinks his needs are the only ones that matter.
  8. He’s a loser who’s about to be served with divorce papers.
  9. He’d really like to watch his wife with other women.
  10. She actually does want to have sex. Just not with her husband. I can’t say I blame her.

What does this clueless guy have in common with the Irish guy? On the surface, maybe it doesn’t sound like much. However, on closer examination, I see a certain similarity in their attitudes. Both guys are a bit overbearing, and obviously think women are beneath them.

The Irish guy acted like I owed him “proof” of the veracity of my offhand, joking comment about German men sitting down to pee. He was surprisingly insistent about it, continuing to try to engage me, even when I wrote that sitting down while peeing isn’t that earth shattering a topic and I don’t think it’s important enough to argue about it with a stranger from a strange land. 😀

The immature guy in the Reddit post obviously thinks that he doesn’t have to adhere to the same expectations he has for his wife. This comment pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

“When I asked for her to also sleep with women or I’d want to close the marriage again she rolled her eyes and said no. One of the guys I fear is trying to seriously date her. He brings her flowers and food, pays for her nails and never even acknowledges me when he’s over. I feel like she’s dismissing my feelings and I’m getting frustrated. I want to close our marriage again.”

Um, guy,… maybe she felt a little “dismissed” when you said that after five years of marriage, she’d already given you all she had to offer, and though it’s “not her fault”, you expect to be allowed to have sex with other women at will. You “generously” ask to open the marriage and she generously obliges. Somehow, you are are shocked when she has more sex than you do… with other men, because she is “bisexual”, after all.

Mood music…

This guy doesn’t mention being interested in having sex with men. He’s apparently not bisexual. He doesn’t mind participating in sex with other women or watching his wife have sex with another woman… or women. He was clearly hoping she’d find him another woman with whom to get his jollies. Now, he’s basically accusing his wife of lying to him about her sexuality, because she’s been having sex with other men. He’s jealous, insecure, and frustrated. I’ll bet she can relate.

I don’t think this couple is going to survive unless he’s got something better going for him that compensates for being a totally insensitive clod. I hope she dumps his clueless, selfish, narcissistic ass, and hooks up with the guys (or gals) who treat her right. Life is too short for BAD sex. 😉

I’m glad that sex isn’t the only important thing in my relationship with Bill. Otherwise, we would have divorced a long time ago. Every day, he reminds me of why I love him so much. I could probably list a new reason every day without thinking too hard about it, but I think at the top of the list is the fact that he doesn’t just think of me as just a life support system for my vagina. Sometimes, when I read these AITA posts, I think that a lot of people are in very transactional relationships that aren’t based on love, friendship, or regard. How sad that is.

Well, it’s Thursday, so that means I have to vacuum later. I guess I’d better close this post and get on with it. Arran had his latest chemo last night. The vet was pretty sad to see that his lymph node is so big. He does seem more tired lately, but his blood work isn’t too bad at this point. The disease is progressing, but he’s in good spirits. I hate canine cancer. 🙁

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