animals, family, nostalgia, YouTube

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Mmm’kay… now that the drama of the past few days has passed, it’s time to get back to “work”. I know not everyone considers what I do “work”, but what do they know? Maybe I’m just one of those people whose true worth won’t be known until after I’m dead. πŸ˜‰

It’s just after 9:00 AM, here in the land of Beer, Brats, and Broetchen. I’ve already gotten a few things done. I washed the sheets, cleaned Noyzi’s food and water bowls and refilled the water, did some more work on migrating and organizing my massive music collection to the newer computer, and paid a bill. And now I’m sitting here wondering if I want to upset my stomach by thinking about the news of the world.

I know I haven’t been writing as much about current events lately, but trust me, I’ve been watching what’s going on. I suppose it depresses me too much to comment on the epic political shitshow that is projected for 2024. I hate the idea of DeSantis or Trump in the White House. I’m not overly excited about another four years with Biden, either, mainly because he is so elderly and people say such awful things about him. I know it probably wouldn’t be any different with another candidate in power, but at least someone younger and more dynamic would seem more like a fair target. I have respect for Joe Biden. He truly inherited a circus when he entered the White House. It can’t be easy cleaning up Donald Trump’s messes… especially give his penchant for Big Macs and Whoppers.

I was never a fan of politics. Today’s political scene is especially heartbreaking to me, when I see idiots like Lauren Boebert holding court. I’m not proud of it, but whenever I hear her speak, I have a tendency to hurl insults at the TV. I respond to her much like I respond to hearing Trump speak. It’s safe to say that I despise her, and her ilk. But I didn’t used to be anti-conservative at all. In fact, for well over half my life, I identified as a Republican. Not anymore.

This morning, as Bill and I were having breakfast, we talked a bit more about what went down over the past few days. I wrote down my honest and candid thoughts in my blog, as if I were writing in a diary. I upset someone in my family, who in fairness, upset me first. It’s regrettable when people are negatively impacted by the things I do. However, I think I can glean some good stuff from my posts… and if I can, I’ll bet others can, too.

For instance, yesterday I wrote about the “Bless your heart” mentality so prevalent in the South, and how it leads to excessive bullshitting. Some years ago, I remember hearing an interesting metaphor about the different types of people one encounters in life. I don’t remember exactly where I heard this concept, but it’s stuck with me. And, forgive me, but I’ve also written about this previously. In the interest of full disclosure, here’s a link.

Some people are like “peaches”. They are soft, fleshy, fuzzy, and sweet on the outside. They look and smell delicious, and they attract everyone with their mainstream appeal. But, deep down, they have hearts of stone. I picture the stereotypical mean Queen Bee bitch who’s all “honey lippin'” sweetness and light to everyone to their faces, but then stabs them in the back. I think some southern people are kind of like this by nature– or by virtue of that whole “Bless your heart” mentality that we have down there. Be “nice”, no matter what… even if you’re being profoundly disingenuous.

Other people are more like coconuts. They have rough, tough, hard outer shells that are abrasive to the touch. They aren’t easy to crack, nor are they easy to enjoy, but beneath that rough exterior, there’s exotic sweetness that can be very refreshing. I picture the weird, grouchy, eccentric old lady on the corner who is a wonderful, sensitive artist or talented musician… or tells wonderful, vivid stories to enchanted children. The lady who collects homeless cats or dogs and lovingly cares for them as she screams at people to get off her lawn might be more of a “coconut”. I think of certain northern folks as coconuts– the people who are very gruff in the subway station as they help you validate your ticket.

And then there are people who are just plain nuts, like me… πŸ˜‰ Crunchy, salty, and occasionally oily, maybe? I don’t know. Or maybe I’m more like a crab… or a lobster, like Leon, the lucky crustacean who was rescued from a grocery store by an enterprising YouTuber who makes educational videos about him.

The latest on Leon…

I like peaches, and I like coconuts and nuts in moderation… I’m not a fan of eating crabs, although it’s fun to catch them in rivers. It’s probably fun to catch them from certain sexual partners, too, but the aftermath isn’t much fun. I suppose I could say that I enjoy people who resemble those types, too. I have some friends who are like peaches, and a few who are like coconuts. Having a hard “stone pit like” heart doesn’t always mean someone is inherently evil. And being sweet and fluffy on the inside doesn’t always a person is easy to love, once you break the shell.

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia, which is a small, conservative, southern town in Virginia. I didn’t like Gloucester when we first moved there. Even though I was born in Hampton, which isn’t that far away from there, moving to Gloucester in 1980 was a big culture shock to me. It took a long time for me to appreciate Gloucester. I don’t think I ever really liked it when I lived there, although I did eventually fit in better, and other kids finally stopped bullying me. Now that I’m an adult, I appreciate it a whole lot more. Not enough to move back there, mind you… but more than I did when I was a child. It is a beautiful place with really good people… many of whom are very religious and politically conservative, and like to catch and eat crabs.

Unlike my sisters, I had the experience of mostly growing up in one town. I lived in Gloucester from the age of eight until I went to college at age 18. Then I boomeranged there back a couple of times before I finally left for good at age 27. Like it or not, that place had a huge effect on me. Even today, there are still a lot of people there who know me. One of them left me a comment on my link to yesterday’s post. She and I have probably known each other since 1981 or so… Her mom and my dad used to sing duets in church. We are the same age, and graduated in the same class. She also went to Longwood for awhile, although she didn’t graduate from there.

My old friend had kind words for me yesterday, which I really appreciated. Another friend also had kind words, even though we have never met offline. I think both of those ladies, who are living in the South, might understand the whole “bless your heart” thing… where you are expected to be nice, even if it means being dishonest. The weird thing is, I was always proud of being southern… but now, I feel divorced from the culture.

In fact, I feel divorced from my family, too. It would be easy for me to blow off what happened the other day, with my cousin’s wife. But it’s not the first online altercation I’ve had with people in my family, and I’m feeling pretty estranged now… like, most of them are now strangers and don’t care about me. It makes me glad there’s an ocean between us… even though there are lots of times when I wish I could live in my own country. I don’t know when, or even if, we’re going to move back there. Situations like this make staying abroad more appealing. I don’t want to fly eight hours on a plane to go home to people who are shitty to me because of petty Facebook dramas. But, like I wrote yesterday, most of them don’t understand me anyway… and seem unwilling to try. The bright side is, I don’t feel guilty when I plan lavish Nordic vacations instead of not having gone home to see my mom for the past 8 years. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing my mom. She’s got common sense, and a sense of humor.

A couple of years ago, Bill and I met a German woman at a Christmas market. It turned out she had lived in the United States for some time, working for Seagrams in Tennessee. We traded a couple of stories about our experiences living in different countries from our origins. She looked at us with empathy and said, “The United States will never be the same for you again. You have now become Europeanized.”

She’s right. I don’t see the USA the way I did when I was younger. I don’t see “home” in the same way, either. Germany’s not quite “home”, but it’s been where I’ve lived for over half my marriage. I don’t even speak the language, but it’s become a familiar and comfortable place to me… and in many ways, it’s more welcoming than home is. At least here, no one knows that much about me, or where I came from. And no one cares that much, either, except they usually do want to know what state we’re from. Germans, by and large, seem to love Florida… but I’m sure it’s strictly because of the beaches and beautiful (hot and sunny) weather. If they had to live there under Ron DeSantis and religious wackos, I suspect a lot of them would hate the place.

Well, it’s now getting close to 11:30 AM. My work on this post has been interrupted a few times by music migration breaks. I think I’ll end this entry and get on with the other activities of the day. Noyzi needs a walk, and my guitar is calling me for a quick practice session. Hopefully, I won’t alienate anyone with today’s musings… but if I do alienate anyone, I suspect they’ll just shitcan me without a second thought, too. Oh well.

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blog news, music, politicians, politics, YouTube

A boring post about my Saturday chores… Nothing much to see here.

Happy Saturday, everyone. It’s kind of a warm, but cloudy and windy day here in Germany. I always hope we can go out and do something fun on the weekends, but we often seem to get waylaid by chores and bad weather. The battery in my car died while Bill was away, and he hasn’t had time to charge it. I think he’s planning to do that today. I might go oil the patio furniture again, too, or maybe do a load of laundry.

Bill has already shaved his beard, which is kind of a relief to me. I do like how he looks with the beard, but I don’t like kissing it. And he says it’s kind of itchy, and makes his lips chap. I don’t know how that happens, but I’ll take his word for it. He’s making good use of the clippers I bought him back when the pandemic was in full swing, and I had to cut his hair. πŸ˜‰

I did just open the window, because it was getting a bit stuffy in my office. The breeze and the smell of ozone are nice. I wouldn’t mind if it stayed like this for more of the summer, but I know hot weather is on the way… perhaps even as soon as tomorrow.

This morning, I’ve been watching videos and moving more of my music catalog from my old computer to the new one. It’s a pain in the ass, but it needs to be done before the old computer completely gives up the ghost. Once the hard drive dies, all of that old content will be lost forever. So, even though it’s frustrating and annoying to have to manually move files, I continue to do it, and clean up the library, too. I probably shouldn’t use Apple so much, since iTunes (which is actually defunct), pretty much sucks. But so much of my stuff is on Apple, than I kind of can’t help it. I refuse to use Apple or Amazon Music, either.

This has also been an unusually expensive month, since we’ve been planning our very pricey vacation. Most of it is paid for, except for dog boarding, hotels, taxis, entertainment, and food when we’re not on the ship. It might be just as well if we don’t go out today, although I have been finding some places I’d like to visit on day trips. Bill is taking a few days off at the end of the month, and we’re planning to do some local excursions then, if we don’t get waylaid by chores again. πŸ˜€

Of course I’ve been paying attention to the crazy shenanigans going on in the United States right now. Ron DeSantis grows ever bolder, and Trump mocks him. I suspect their political fights will be a total shitshow. I sure wish we could get someone normal and decent to be our leader. Personally, I don’t mind Joe Biden as president, but he’s getting quite elderly. I think we need someone much more dynamic to keep some of these crazy MAGA extremists in check.

Trump and DeSantis both SUCK and need to go far away.

I also heard about Lauren Boebert’s divorce, from her husband, Jayson. I don’t know why she’s splitting from her husband, whom I’ve heard is quite the asshole (like she is). If I were to speculate, my guess would be that she found someone slightly classier, with more money, with whom to form a marital bond. But I don’t know the real reason… I just think it’s interesting that she and the loathsome Marjorie Taylor Greene both split from their husbands this year, as they tout traditional family values. What a couple of hypocritical hags they are. I hope they both fall out of favor soon and get out of my life. Again, we are in real need of decent people in the government.

Yesterday, I got a new microphone, a Shure Beta 58A. I decided to try it out on a couple of songs, just to see if it’s that different from my trusty Shure SM58. I bought another mic from a different manufacturer a couple of months ago, but was disappointed when it didn’t work at all. The new mic works fine and I think it sounds pretty good. Here are a couple of videos I did yesterday afternoon. Two very different songs…

I just learned this song yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve ever sung this version… which is based on a Renee Olstead cover.
And here’s a fun Amy Winehouse song… I tried it just because it was different.

It’s always fun to get new musical gear! But then, if I had saved the money on the mic, we could go out and have a nice lunch somewhere. We could do that anyway… Maybe we will.

Anyway, I don’t know what the rest of the day will consist of. Maybe we’ll go out, so I can add a post to my “lame” travel blog. But maybe we won’t… It probably doesn’t matter. My allergies are acting up, and my stomach is bugging me again. It’s probably time to visit a doctor, but I can’t be bothered. Did I mention how much I HATE dealing with medical people? Well, I really, really do. I’m sure it will become necessary at some point, or I’ll wind up seeing one under emergency circumstances. Glad I don’t have any children depending on me.

Well… I wish this were a more engaging post, but I’m afraid the well is dry. So I hope you enjoy your Saturday… I’ll go see if I can find something engaging to write about later.

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movies, music, nostalgia, YouTube

A movie that still haunts me after 44 years…

It’s Friday, and I’m sitting here listening to Anne Murray, of all people. As a child of the 70s, I can’t help but have some guilty pleasures. Anne Murray had a lot of hits in the 70s, so her music is a big part of my personal soundtrack. Listening to her sing takes me to a comforting place.

What a Wonderful World (14 Inspirational Classics), the album I’m listening to right now, is one of Anne’s more recent ones. Or, it’s relatively recent, anyway, having been released in 1999. When you consider that Anne Murray has been around since before I was born, it’s kind of recent. It consists of fourteen cover songs, all of which are either pop songs made famous in a previous era by other artists, or old fashioned hymns. It’s an album my father would have enjoyed. My mom would probably like it, too, although her tastes in music were decidedly peppier than his were.

I think I like Anne’s 70s hits better than this album, although her versions of these songs are certainly pleasant enough. It sounds like she enjoyed making this record, even if the songs lack the emotional punch of her earlier stuff. It’s not a bad thing to wake up to, I guess.

I think I bought this album because I heard Anne singing with her daughter, Dawn Langstroth, on another album, and I liked Dawn’s voice a whole lot. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Dawn has a really beautiful voice that compliments her mother’s voice very nicely. I like to support artists when I like what they do– especially if they aren’t super famous. Dawn Langstroth has a couple of albums with music that isn’t like her mom’s, but is equally appealing (I have eclectic tastes).

At least I’m not listening to anything with profanity in it. God knows, I’ve been known to do that, too. I usually do that when I need a laugh.

Bill is in Bavaria again, so I’m on my own for the next week, trying to stay out of trouble. When Bill goes away, I try to occupy myself with “wholesome” activities and maintain sobriety. I don’t always succeed in not drinking beer when he’s gone, as it helps me pass the time. However, I do make an effort, because it’s good for me, and because there may be a need for me to drive somewhere. This was more of a concern when Arran was still with us, but suffering from cancer. Now that he’s gone, it’s less of an issue. But we do still have Noyzi, and he could get into trouble.

Also, I like to reassure myself that drinking is always a choice. For the most part, I don’t really miss drinking when I abstain from it, especially if I am engaged in something. I don’t necessarily want to walk all the way to the basement for a beer. πŸ˜‰

Last night, I decided I wanted to watch an old made for TV movie from 1979. I remember watching this movie on CBS when I was about 6 or 7 years old. The film, titled And Your Name is Jonah, was about a deaf child who was misdiagnosed as “retarded” (the term used in the movie– today, we would use a more politically correct term). It starred Sally Struthers, James Woods, Jeremy Licht, and introduced nine year old Jeffrey Bravin, who is deaf in “real life”.

The film is pretty dated, since it was made in 1979. Watching it last night reminded me of how old I am, especially as I heard the actors speaking of “retardation” (which was a valid diagnostic term when I was a child), watched Jonah riding on his mother’s lap in the front seat of the car (with no one wearing seatbelts, no less), and saw Jonah, at nine years old, running around New York City alone.

It’s hard to believe that was how things kind of were at that time. I can remember being allowed to go places alone from a very young age, riding in the car unrestrained (even in the front seat), and hearing all manner of words now deemed egregiously offensive being thrown around on television and in “polite” conversation. You wouldn’t hear the word “shit” on primetime television, but the r bomb and n bomb were dropped all over the place. And yet, there were some really intelligent and thought provoking movies and TV shows made in those days. Some “Movies of the Week”, as And Your Name is Jonah was, were genuinely excellent.

I was a bit traumatized by And Your Name is Jonah back in 1979. If you’ve seen this movie, you might know which scene was especially haunting to a small child. One thing that comes across in this movie is that Jonah, who was “institutionalized” for three years with children who were intellectually disabled, is terrified of the new world outside of the hospital where he’d been living.

Jonah does not have an intellectual disability, but he is profoundly deaf, and he’s never been taught to communicate. He wears uncomfortable hearing aids that don’t really help him hear better. The film presents Jonah’s perspective– first not being able to hear at all, and then only hearing unpleasant and unintelligible noise when he wears hearing aids. So, even though his cognitive function is normal, he is constantly frustrated, trying to communicate and understand what’s happening. Most of the time, he seems very stressed as he tries to have his needs met, and things like his little brother’s Spiderman doll, scare him. However, there are some bright spots, such as when he meets his mother’s grandpa, a friendly Greek man who loves to dance and is very kind to Jonah.

Jonah meets Grandpa and learns how to dance to vibrations…

Jonah’s father Danny, played by James Woods, has a short temper and little patience for Jonah. He tells his wife, Jenny (Struthers), that he wants to put Jonah back in the hospital. Jenny refuses to consider sending Jonah back to the institution. Danny ends up leaving when he can’t take dealing with Jonah, leaving Jenny to deal with their son alone. He does send her a paltry sum of cash in the mail and a note.

Grandpa runs a vegetable stand. Jonah visits him often with his mother and brother. One day, Jonah is having a ball with Grandpa, and the old man collapses from a heart attack. He dies. Jonah doesn’t understand what has happened to his beloved grandfather. Then there’s a funeral scene, and the family files by the open casket, kissing Grandpa on the forehead. Jonah is the last to see him as the lid is closed forever. Danny shows up after the funeral, hanging around outside of the church to offer his condolences to his wife. Jenny is devastated, trying to talk to him about their son… and Danny, predictably, can’t handle it and leaves again. There’s so much profound loss in Jonah’s life, and he has no way to process it with other people.

So very sad… Grandpa was Jonah’s best friend.

After Jonah’s dad, Danny, leaves, Jonah has even more trouble adjusting to his circumstances. One day, he sneaks out of the house, gets on the bus by himself, and goes to Grandpa’s vegetable stand, which is not open. Confused, Jonah wanders around looking for his Grandpa, then sees a lady who knows him. He panics, and tries to get back on the bus, but he’s too late to catch it. It leaves without him. Now, Jonah is left without transportation, wandering alone in the city.

One of New York City’s finest sees Jonah wandering around alone. Not understanding that Jonah is deaf, the cop assumes the boy is “crazy”. He picks up Jonah and takes him to a hospital. Jonah knows about hospitals, and he freaks out when he goes inside the building. Everyone is dressed in white– and the nurses all wear scary caps, just like they did back in the day. It probably smells medicinal, too, which would likely be pretty powerful for someone who doesn’t hear.

Yikes! Can you blame him for being terrified?

Once again, panic overwhelms Jonah, and he tries to run away. The cop and an intern (in an old fashioned white smock) grab the boy, who winds up in restraints. It’s a very short but extremely powerful scene. As a small child, I remember being scared when I saw it on television. Especially when I saw Jonah’s terrified face at the end of the scene (see the featured photo).

Although this film is about two-thirds emotionally wrenching and sad, it does have a very happy ending when Jonah has a breakthrough. Jenny meets deaf people in speech therapy. They introduce Jenny to more deaf people, all of whom use American Sign Language to communicate. Jenny has been told that signing is bad– Jonah’s been in a school where signing is expressly forbidden. But it turns out that sign language is Jonah’s key to the world. And once he realizes he can sign to be understood, things finally get better.

Jenny’s new deaf friend explains what it’s been like for her in a hearing world.
Jenny confronts Jonah’s clueless teacher…
Jonah catches on…

Billy Seago, the young man who helps get through to Jonah, is just amazing in the breakthrough scene. Look at his facial expressions. They are amazing. I should also give a shout out to the late Fred Karlin, the composer who provided the moving soundtrack for this film. It sets just the right tone… and in fact, the main theme is stuck in my head as I type this.

Jonah has a breakthrough.

This movie can be watched for free on YouTube, but I decided to download it from Apple TV. I figure even though it was a Movie of the Week from 1979, the fact that I still think about it is a sign that it belongs in my library. I was legitimately traumatized by this movie when I saw it aired on CBS in 1979, but today, I just think it’s a really touching and beautifully done film.

Jeff Bravin, who played Jonah, was on 3-2-1 Contact (a children’s science show that aired on PBS back in the early 80s), but other than that, he’s left acting in the past. Although he’s obviously found a different vocation, I have to say that I am very impressed by his acting skills in this movie. His facial expressions are amazing. He was such a cute child, too… I read in an interview he did that the “restraint scene” was a point of pride for him, as he actually broke some of the straps!

Jeff Bravin is now highly educated and works as a school administrator in deaf education. I read that he never really learned how to speak clearly, because he is so profoundly deaf. Both of his parents and all four of his grandparents were deaf, as is his wife. He has three hearing daughters and grandchildren now, but clearly there are both genetic and cultural components to Bravin’s experience as a deaf person. If you search for him, Bravin is easily found on YouTube– bright, confident, and signing away very fluently.

In a weird way… this movie reminds me a bit of how it was when we brought Noyzi home. Granted, Noyzi is a dog, but he was absolutely terrified for a good long while, especially of Bill. He’s morphed into a wonderful dog, but it’s taken time, love, patience, and understanding. And there have been a few times when Noyzi’s eyes have looked a bit like Jonah’s in the hospital restraint scene. He still reacts automatically to a lot of stimuli, like sudden noises or movements. However, overall, he has adapted very well… and we continue to see progress with him, as he is introduced to new experiences. It’s very rewarding to watch him evolve into the sweet, gentle, loving giant he is…

Which reminds me, it’s time to get dressed and take him for a walk, now that we finally have good weather. I hope this post has entertained and informed… and I hope if I’ve piqued your interest in this movie, you might seek it out on YouTube or even on Apple TV, if you’re so inclined. I’m glad I watched it again, even though it’s very dated, not very politically correct, and reminds me of just how old I am. πŸ˜‰ I think it’s very well done, even in 2023.

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communication, language, lessons learned, narcissists, YouTube

Are you experiencing envy, or is it actually jealousy?

As the days get closer to King Charles III’s coronation, YouTube personality, H.G. Tudor, has been making more videos about Meghan Markle’s inevitable narcissistic response to the “ballyhoo”. H.G. Tudor claims to be a narcissistic psychopath, and he makes many videos about other people he deems narcissists. Personally, I’m not sure he’s as narcissistic as he claims he is. I’m sure he’d argue with me about it… and I could be wrong. I just don’t think a really hardcore narcissist would care about sharing knowledge and personal experiences with the public, to β€œeducate” them about their β€œkind”. He claims he does it because it “suits him”, and it’s for his own purposes. Maybe… and I do think he is very narcissistic. But as to the extent of his narcissism, who knows? And who cares? That’s not the main idea of this post, anyway…

One thing I notice and appreciate about H.G. Tudor is that he’s very precise about language and word usage. That happens to be one of my idiosyncrasies, too, although I confess there are times when I use words incorrectly. It’s just that I find words fascinating, so when I am corrected, I try to remember the correction and mend my ways.

Recently, I’ve noticed H.G. Tudor pointing out the difference between the words “envy” and “jealousy”. Many people think of those two words as synonyms and use them that way accordingly. However, they actually have distinctive meanings. And true to his narcissistic nature, H.G. Tudor sneeringly points out the difference every time he runs across comments in which someone dares to use the word “jealousy” when they really mean “envy”. It seems like people more often use jealousy in place of envy, rather than vice versa.

For those who don’t wish to look it up (for the love of GOD!), here’s a quick rule of thumb. The word “envy” is correctly used when you want something someone else has. For instance, you might feel envy if your best friend comes home with a brand new sports car or gets a big promotion at their job. You might be envious of a friend who gets to travel to exotic locations or has a really good looking partner.

“Jealousy”, however, is properly used when you feel protective or territorial toward something or someone. That’s when you feel like your position is threatened somehow. For example, you might “jealously guard” your property, or feel jealous when a potential romantic rival flirts with your significant other.

I must confess that although I did know the difference between the two words, like a lot of Americans, I mix them up all the time. But H.G. Tudor is correct, so I shall try harder to use those words properly. It’s good for the brain to keep these things in mind, and my brain needs all the help it can get.

My personal pet peeve is when people misuse (and overuse) the words “use” and “utilize”. There is also a difference in the meanings between these two words, but people frequently interchange them. I distinctly remember one time, telling a friend on Facebook that there’s a difference between the two words, only to be taken to task by another one of his friends who insisted that I was wrong (I’m not, by the way… For the love of God, look it up!).

The word “use” means to “consume from a limited supply or take something to achieve a result.” The word “utilize” means to use something beyond its intended purpose or in an unexpected way. They are NOT synonyms, although so many people mix them up that they’re probably by now considered synonyms in many dictionaries based only on popular usage.

You’d use a frying pan to cook your eggs. You’d utilize a frying pan to knock your husband unconscious for coming home drunk. You’d use a spoon to eat pudding. You’d utilize a spoon to open a can of paint. See what I mean?

A lot of people seem to think that “utilize” is a more “advanced” word, so they employ it as a means of sounding more formal or educated. Maybe it is a more advanced word, but only when it’s used properly. There are also situations in which both words will work. For instance:

I use old newspapers to line my cat’s litter box.

I utilize old newspapers to line my cat’s litter box.

Utilize works in that case, because newspapers are originally meant to be read, not spread in litter boxes for absorbing cat waste. But you wouldn’t correctly employ the word “utilize” in a situation in which you’ve employed an object for its intended purpose. For instance:

I utilize a curling iron to curl my hair.

Curling irons are meant for curling hair, so it would be more correct to write:

I use a curling iron to curl my hair.

Ditto:

I use a rake to gather the leaves in the fall, but I utilize a rake to beat my neighbor’s ass through the fence. (That would be quite an unexpected way to use a rake, right?)

I already have a lot of rather uptight language pet peeves like this… but I have to confess that H.G. Tudor has added another to my list. I will now make a point of using the words “envy” and “jealousy” properly. It’s the right thing to do.

Now… Mr. Bill has to leave town today, and I have some other stuff to get done. So, I think I shall end today’s blog rantings and get on with the day. I do hope you’re able to use the information I’ve provided in today’s post to good effect somehow. Maybe you’ll even be able to utilize it somehow, too.

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blog news, communication, Military, musings, narcissists, YouTube

Yesterday, I was reminded once again of what’s important…

The featured photo is of a beautiful loaf of bread Bill made yesterday. He’s become very accomplished at baking bread. It’s a skill he’s learned, and shares with younger daughter… It reminds me somewhat of my writing “career”. If you’re a regular reader, you might want to skip to the subheading.

Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been kind of losing my mojo. I look at the number of posts that actually get read by more than a few people, and I wonder why I keep writing. I have some posts that are very popular and get read by hundreds, or even thousands, of people. And I have some posts that get read by just one person. I’ve been wondering if maybe it’s time to quit blogging and do something else. What’s the point of writing if people aren’t interested?

Granted, it’s not that often that I only get one hit on a post. I also genuinely enjoy writing, especially when I’ve found an especially interesting or “juicy” topic. My blogs have also been useful in unusual capacities. (and apologies in advance to those who already know about the story I’m, once again, relating…)

Like, for instance, when we lived in our former house, and our ex landlady tried to accuse us of committing theft of a refrigerator. Thanks to my blogging and propensity to take lots of photos, I was able to prove that her allegations were false.

Ex landlady had claimed we dumped the fridge on her, and “stole” her nice one… which I had documented was one I purchased several days after we moved in on September 1, 2014. I had a receipt for it, because I bought it on Amazon.de. I had also blogged about that situation, back in 2014, before I realized what a mistake it was to rent that house. Former tenant had been following my writings and commented. Unlike later, when she’d leave comments and delete them, former tenant didn’t remove those early comments… which were much more conciliatory toward us. They came in handy years later, when ex landlady was trying to force us to fund her upgrades. If I hadn’t been a blogger, she wouldn’t have left those comments, and I probably wouldn’t have those photos.

I don’t know if ex landlady really believed that we stole her refrigerator and dumped an old American one on her. But, because on September 1, 2014, I had taken a photo of the crappy little refrigerator in the kitchen on the day we moved into her house, I could show that the old fridge she’d claimed we “dumped” on her was there the day we moved in. We could also prove the fridge wasn’t American, as it was plugged directly into the wall. American appliances have different plugs and use 110 voltage as opposed to 220.

Even though that whole situation was ludicrous, it was still very unpleasant to have to go through it. We were just looking for a place to live, and expecting our landlady to leave us in peace. Apparently, she had different ideas about what was reasonable and appropriate behavior on her part, and she expected us to simply give in to her accusations and demands.

Later, when things really started going south, former tenant was acting more like a flying monkey. I was not as aware as I should have been, and former tenant would leave comments and erase them. I’m not totally sure, but I assume she was stoking the situation– making it much worse than it needed to be. I don’t know what her motive was. Maybe she was simply getting her kicks, enjoying causing problems for us. Maybe she was jealous that we lived in Germany… or maybe she just didn’t like me, personally, or didn’t appreciate that I was a blogger instead of working at AAFES. She might have simply hated the name of my blog, assuming that I’m a narcissistic asshole just based on that. Who knows? I can’t ask her now, because she’s no longer among the living.

What I do know is that former tenant’s interference, coupled with ex landlady’s abuse, did some real damage to me. For a long time, I wondered if I should quit blogging, because she was using my blogs to stir up shit. I had legitimate trouble writing for awhile. I was feeling paranoid, and was, for a time, literally afraid to share my thoughts. It also took me months to feel comfortable in my current home, thanks to that situation with former tenant and ex landlady. I almost quit blogging back in 2019, when things got very intense and Bill decided to pursue legal action against ex landlady.

In the end, I forced myself to keep writing, even though my writing felt kind of “constipated” for awhile. I didn’t want to give those people the satisfaction of forcing me to quit what I enjoy doing. I especially wanted to send a hearty “fuck you” to former tenant, as I hadn’t planned on having an unofficial “minder” included in our rental contract when Bill signed the lease in 2014. Seriously… I don’t know why she was so determined to be involved in our business, but it was truly a bizarre situation. Maybe someday, I’ll even write a book about it. πŸ˜‰

Things gradually got easier, and I eventually relaxed… I stopped engaging so much with the local military population, which made things much better. Although there are people from all walks of life in the U.S. military community, I’ve found that most of them seem to think I’m weird, annoying, or obnoxious. I am occasionally all of those things, but I don’t go out of my way to bother people. Some people want to assume that I do, though, and stir up drama, and as of 2019, I simply didn’t have the time for it anymore. I left high school in 1990, but some military folks are apparently still there, years after their graduation days.

I’ve since found that it’s much better to simply let readers find their way to me, rather than trying to promote the blog. Contrary to what people might believe, I don’t do this for “fame” or money. But I do sometimes get a little burned out… and I do worry, sometimes, that someone will get angry or upset about something and cause problems I don’t need. Dealing with former tenant reminded me that some people have alternative agendas… or are simply unhinged. So now, I’m much more cautious… and yes, sometimes I do consider whether or not writing is still worth my while.

Which brings me to today’s title…

I used to keep a Facebook page for the blog, which worked okay most of the time, but occasionally resulted in unpleasant and uninvited interactions with people who didn’t agree with my opinions and lacked the courage to comment publicly. I’d usually get those messages first thing in the morning, which would get my days off to a bad start.

Last year, when I got one too many wacko private messages from someone who didn’t even follow the blog or read what she was commenting on, I decided to delete the page. I had already deleted the blog’s contact page ages ago, mainly because people were leaving comments on things, but not including information about the content they were commenting on, which would leave me confused. A few people were also being insulting and chastising me– which, sorry, I don’t have to tolerate. If you want to leave a comment like that, you can do so publicly, so everyone can respond. And that’s only if I deign to approve the comment.

Yesterday afternoon, I received a really nice email from someone who must have been very determined to find my email address. I purposely don’t provide direct contact information on my blogs anymore, mainly because I don’t want to deal with crazies, like former tenant. Not everyone likes what I do, but some people have the wrong idea about me, and my motivations. I try to present truth as I see it, which doesn’t always make people happy. I still have the right to express myself without harassment, so long as what I write isn’t defamatory or libelous.

Making it harder to contact me directly also means that I miss out on positive feedback, like the email I got yesterday. The person wrote that she was very grateful that I had written about British gymnastics coach, Monica Phelps, and her sex offender husband, Brian Phelps. Apparently, the emailer was someone who had experience with the Phelpses, and she and others had read my post(s). And, although I don’t think I was nearly as negative about the Phelpses as I should have been in that first post, they were apparently glad someone had written something.

The crazy thing is, I wrote that first post about the Phelpses in December 2020, during the height of the pandemic. I was just bored one day, and ran across some “funny” YouTube videos someone had made about Monica Phelps and her oddly “verbal diarrhea” style of gymnastics commentating. Phelps made all kinds of appalling, shaming comments about gymnasts’ bodies. These weren’t gymnasts she was coaching, either– not that that would have been appropriate. They were simply girls and young women who were competing in the sport. Monica Phelps was comparing them to stick insects and making very belittling and insulting statements about them as they were performing very dangerous and physically demanding routines on television.

I am a singer, and I have sung in public. I know how nerve wracking that is. Adrenaline courses through the body as you face the audience, hoping you don’t forget words or your voice doesn’t crack… And yes, those things have happened to me before, and when they happen, they are mortifying. But… when you mess up as a singer, it generally doesn’t mean that you could be permanently injured or killed. Gymnasts, especially at the elite level shown on television, can really hurt themselves if they mess up. In many cases, what they’re doing is physically incredible, even if they aren’t at the level of Simone Biles or Sunisa Lee.

It was shocking to me to listen to Monica Phelps talk about what the gymnasts look like, and say some of the insulting things she said. I must admit, when I wrote that first post, I hadn’t really stopped to think about how very damaging it must have been to gymnasts who later listened to her comments. My initial reaction was laughter at the funny videos, but I admit that it should have been more like horror.

As I was completely unfamiliar with Monica Phelps in December 2020, I had no idea whatsoever that she had coached gymnasts, and that there were allegedly a lot of abuses in her facility. It wasn’t until February 2022, when I noticed a lot of hits on that first post, that I read more about Monica and Brian Phelps, and the terrible things that were alleged to have happened in their gym. I suspect that soon, there may be another huge women’s gymnastics scandal, this time originating in Britain, instead of the United States.

Yesterday, when I had “writer’s block”, I sort of took the day off of this blog, and just wrote on the travel blog. Sometimes, I need to do that, to give my brain a chance to recharge. But, as I was looking at the interaction for my latest posts, I wondered why I keep doing this… and making my writing public. Then I realized that sometimes, posts take off later, when they get tracked on Google. And I also realized that a lot of people do read and like what I do. They just don’t always take the time to say so… and there have been times when people have appreciated my efforts. I would say there are more readers like the one who contacted me yesterday than people like former tenant.

And anyway… I have always liked to write. I’ve been doing it since I was a child and had terrible handwriting that no one could read. I’ve always loved writing stories. It’s something I’m good at, and do well. It’s also easier for me to write original stuff for reading, than sing original stuff, although once my guitar skills are better, that could change.

So, I’ll keep blogging… and be grateful when anyone reads my posts, especially when they comment. I don’t even mind criticism, as long as it’s delivered in a civil manner. And thanks again to the ladies who appreciate my posts about Monica Phelps. I’ll be looking for more developments on that story, and probably writing about them.

Hopefully, some will find my efforts interesting… but I think it’s most important that I still find the work worth doing. And right now, I still do… whether you choose to read it, or not.

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