business, Ex, religion

Sometimes Ex leads me to some interesting rabbit holes…

Happy hump day, everybody. Like a lot of people, I was shocked to hear about Christine McVie’s death last night. Guess who alerted me? It was none other than Stephen Bishop, whose book I reviewed yesterday. He left a comment on Christine McVie’s Facebook page, where it was announced that she passed away in a hospital after a “short illness”. She was 79 years old. Although her music has meant a lot to me over the years, I’m not going to dedicate this post to her passing. I did write a brief post on my Dungeon of the Past blog. Since we also lost Irene Cara a few days ago, that blog is getting some unusual attention lately, although not that many people read it these days. I’m waiting to hit $100 in AdSense, and then I’ll probably discontinue it. But it is a handy place to express my thoughts and prayers for musicians who made the years of my youth worth enduring.

Last night, before I read about Christine McVie, I was perusing the latest Ex nonsense. I noticed that she had made an intriguing comment.

I have no words for how repulsed I am at the thought of attending such a scary and surreal event. Of course… we could crash it…

I noticed that someone had responded, so I clicked the link, and there I found a most interesting post by some stranger from Birmingham, Alabama. Behold:

The person who post this wrote “It’s a coffee shop in my city that is owned by a cult.”

Well… given my love for investigating cults, this post interested me, so I went looking for more information, and I was led to this article written by journalist Greg Garrison on AL.com. There, I learned about a man named Terry Colafrancesco who has opened a “different” kind of business in Alabama called Villaggio Colafrancesco. Mr. Colafrancesco, who is an Alabama born Italian Catholic, was inspired by a visit to Italy 25 years ago, where he noticed people standing in line for gelato on a cold, November night. Colafrancesco is an entrepreneur, but he also happens to be super religious. His business, which sells all manner of Italian style treats from gelato to coffee to charcuterie, is operated as a tax paying enterprise. But he also runs a non-profit religious community called Caritas. Most of the people who work at Villagio Colafrancesco are members of the community. Colafrancesco will be directing all profits after taxes toward the Caritas ministry that he founded in the 1980s.

According to the AL.com article I linked:

In 1988, Colafrancesco hosted one of the six famous visionaries of Medjugorje, who claimed to have daily visions of the Virgin Mary in their hometown in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia starting in 1981. Marija Pavlovic Lunetti came to UAB Hospital to donate a kidney for her brother, Andrija Pavlovic. She stayed with Colafrancesco and continued to have her visions of the Virgin Mary in a field in Shelby County. She has returned to Caritas to visit dozens of times.

The field where she had her visions in Shelby County became the focal point of the 250-acre world headquarters of Caritas, which still takes tour groups to Medjugorje and promotes the visions on its web site, Mej.com. It has a printing press and publishes Colafrancesco’s commentaries on the visions under his pen name, “A Friend of Medjugorje.” Hundreds of thousands of the books have been distributed worldwide.

The Medjugorje visions have never been endorsed or authenticated by the Catholic Church, which has approved other reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary such as the ones in 1858 in Lourdes, France, and in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.

So yes, this Italian treat paradise is very much a business, but it’s also influenced by religion. So patrons are required to be dressed “appropriately” and leave their electronic devices at home. Profanity is not allowed. People are supposed to hang out and talk to each other, rather than hanging out on their phones. Ex is apparently disgusted by this.

Now, I’ll be honest… I initially laughed when I read about these rules, because I have been to Italy a bunch of times, and I’ve never seen an establishment there that bans cell phones, skimpy clothing, or profanity. And while I don’t wear skimpy clothes anymore, and never purposely did when I was younger, I do have a strong tendency to curse. I also love to look at my phone. However, having grown up at a time when cell phones and Internet trolls didn’t exist, I do sometimes feel pangs of nostalgia for that time. Maybe this happens to everyone as they age, but once you get to a certain age, you look less favorably on “progress” and start remembering the “good old days”. So there’s a certain charm in the idea of visiting a place where patrons are required to put their electronic devices away.

BUT– while I do try to maintain basic respect for people and their religious beliefs, I don’t think I’d want to patronize a commercial business with an obvious religious agenda. Obviously, I don’t mind visiting churches or even spending money in them in the form of donations. I will, for instance, give spare change to the cathedrals when I visit them in Europe. But I’ve seen the damage that organized religions can do to many people, and I’ve also seen how cults can complicate people’s lives.

I also don’t think I’d feel comfortable at a place where workers are “dress coding” people. I can, however, see why some people love the idea of such a place, especially in Alabama, where there are a lot of “conservative” types. On the other hand, I’d be interested in seeing how many native Alabamians know what is, and what is not, authentic in Italy.

As Mr. Colafrancesco is operating a private business, he has the right to run it as he sees fit. And I would imagine people in Alabama will fully support that right. It’ll be interesting to see if this idea takes off. Some people don’t mind dress codes. Planet Fitness famously has a dress code to keep less fit people from feeling intimidated and uncomfortable by more fit people showing off. However, that chain has run into problems, as they have confronted people about their dress who didn’t feel they were shaming anybody. And my guess is that there could be trouble when someone outspoken and influential gets kicked out of Villagio Colafrancesco for wearing a halter top and leggings or something.

In looking at Mr. Colafrancesco’s blog, I see that he is no fan of “college”. In fact, he literally writes that in the section about his story. And while Colafrancesco is a very successful and apparently self made man, I can see that not going to college left him with a bit of a vocabulary deficiency. He writes that long hours and hard work had paid off, so that by the time he was in his mid 20s, he and his wife were living “financially comfortable”. He bought several “tracks” of land and “never had a mortgage or debt”. I think Mr. Colafrancesco means “tracts” of land, and a mortgage is, in and of itself, debt. It’s not that I don’t understands what he means, of course, and obviously he didn’t need college to succeed. Not everyone needs higher education to “make it”, and some people don’t “make it” even with fancy degrees. It’s just that as religion is important to him, proper grammar is important to me. 😉

In any case, more power and big props to Mr. Colafrancesco for “doing it his way”. I just wouldn’t necessarily assume that everyone can do what he’s done, or hold him up as an example of someone to emulate. Especially since it’s pretty clear to me that he’s politically conservative and probably would vote for Trump, in spite of his stated conservative values. Trump is a big fan of the skimpily clad, and he doesn’t mind swearing like a sailor as he hangs out on social media and talks about overthrowing the government. Edited to add: I see I was right. Colafrancesco is a Trump supporter. How can a man who self-righteously bars profanity and skimpy clothing in his establishment champion a man who grabs women by their pussies? What a hypocrite! Sorry, I just can’t respect someone who preaches about decency and supports Donald Trump.

Moreover, there is some belief that Mr. Colafrancesco’s group is a destructive cult. I don’t yet know enough about Caritas to state whether or not it’s a cult. I just learned the first about it last night, thanks to Ex. According to the above link, which dates from December 13, 2001:

Five former residents of Caritas of Birmingham have filed suit in state court seeking an unspecified amount of money from the group and its founder, Terry Colafrancesco.

The suit claims Colafrancesco lures people into Caritas with promises of spiritual enrichment and then drains them of money. Families are made to live in nasty trailers at the group’s compound, and Colafrancesco controls their lives almost totally, the suit claims.

The plaintiffs include a one-time lieutenant to Colafrancesco and five parents who sued on behalf of their children, who still live at the mission located about 30 minutes south of Birmingham.

The suit claims Caritas has assets of about $5.9 million. Colafrancesco “said he was knighted by Mary the mother of Jesus,” the suit says.

“It’s just bitterness,” Colafrancesco said Tuesday.

A 2012 Reuters article indicates that the lawsuit was later settled privately.

Anyway… I guess people have the right to decide if they want to buy coffee at a place where they aren’t allowed to curse, wear spaghetti straps, or look at their phones. I’m sure some people will think Villagio Colafrancesco is a very nice and inviting place for a treat. No matter what, this venture is sure to bring in money, press, and controversy… although it’s pretty rich that Ex is “repulsed” by it. This is the same woman who joined the LDS church and used it as one of her parental alienation tools. And when it turned out they weren’t going to give her what she wanted and expected things from her, like money and time, she suddenly decided it was “bad”. I’m sure the fact that church members helped younger daughter escape her clutches also contributed to her changed mindset about religion and politics. It sure is interesting and entertaining to watch.

But… it seems that Ex is pining to ditch America, too… Behold.

I’m a poor white girl. I have no power. I am a mother raising her kids and if Trump were to EVER hold office again… I’m leaving this country and won’t be looking back. He’s worse than a horror movie to me and I cannot fathom how ANYONE would vote for that scum of the earth.

Yeah… says the woman who causes multiple people to experience PTSD style nightmares due to her abuses of them. Just shaking my head and hoping she avoids Germany…

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law, true crime

Wonder if Josh Duggar will see a video like this when he gets to prison…

A couple of days ago, when I mentioned “diesel therapy” on this blog, I ran across an article written for The Marshall Project by an ex-con, who was initially doing time in a minimum security camp. The author of the article, Michael Rothenberg, was a white collar criminal who had made the mistake of befriending another white collar criminal who escaped from their lockup at FPC Montgomery, in Alabama. Because he had associated with the escapee, prison officials figured he somehow knew the guy was going to escape. They decided to send Rothenberg to a harsher facility in Lovejoy, Georgia. He and other inmates were shackled and handcuffed, then put on a bus with an overflowing toilet for a drive that lasted several hours.

When Rothenberg got to his destination, he was kept in a crowded holding cell for hours. Then, he was shown a video about avoiding prison rape, which freaked him out. Rothenberg had never been to a “real jail” before. His camp in Alabama had been more like a dormitory than a prison. The idea that he might be raped while he was in prison was, naturally, very upsetting.

While I can understand why Rothenberg was unsettled by the video about prison rape, I thought it was kind of progressive. And then, completely by coincidence, I was watching YouTube the other day, and in my queue of suggested videos was a video made by the Alabama Department of Corrections. It was about how to avoid being raped or sexually harassed in prison, and how to make a report if an assault happens. I watched it, and was actually surprised by how respectful and well done it was.

Several inmates spoke about their experiences, and there were also comments by correctional officers and the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections. The commissioner explains that the video was made in response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). PREA requires that federal, state and local correctional facilities maintain and enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault for both inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate misconduct. Given that this is a law that applies to all facilities, I’m surprised that Rothenberg’s first encounter with an anti prison rape video was at the second facility.

I don’t know how seriously people take this video, but it seems like a good idea to show it…

Since Josh is going to a federal facility in Texas, at least initially, he’ll probably see a film much like this one, only it will be made by the feds. I’m not sure how much this video and others like it actually help prevent prison rapes and sexual misconduct. Based on what I’ve heard about prison, a lot of correctional officers don’t care too much about making sure prisoners avoid harassment. It could be that showing this video is just a way to comply with the law. I still thought it was an interesting video, though… and surprisingly well done. It would be nice if the correctional officers who say they want prisoners to get through their time safely really mean what they say. I don’t like Josh Duggar, and I hate what he did, but I don’t wish for him to meet violence. On the other hand, I don’t have high hopes that he can be reformed.

The above video, by the way, comes with a trigger warning. I didn’t think it was hard to watch. It was certainly a lot easier to watch than whatever Josh was watching on the videos that got him sent to prison in the first place. I’m sure it won’t make him as squeamish to watch it as it did Michael Rothenberg.

Rothenberg writes that after he saw the video, he was taken to solitary confinement, where he listened to other inmates scream. One guy passed him a note begging him to give him the food he wasn’t going to eat, since he was starving. Meanwhile, Rothenberg’s wife and children were in Alabama, planning to visit him in the prison camp in Montgomery. They didn’t know he’d been moved. Rothenberg was threatened at the Lovejoy facility, then sent to Oklahoma City, where he spent three weeks of hell before he was sent to South Dakota. On the flight to South Dakota, another prisoner begged to use the toilet, but was denied. The prisoner said he was going to piss himself, and the guard told him he’d tase him if he pissed himself. The prisoner said being tased would also make him piss himself. When he finally did pee on himself, he got tased, as promised.

Rothenberg was then moved to a private facility in Nevada, where he saw lots of ICE detainees. To comply with the kosher diet he maintained as an observant Jew, he was given nothing but celery and rice to eat. Then, from Nevada, he went to Utah, and on the way there, he was shackled to a Neo-Nazi, who had “white power” tattooed on his knuckles. The Nazi told Rothenberg that he was okay with most Jews. He just didn’t like the Jews involved with banking. Rothenberg wrote:

We remained stuck together for the next two weeks. Over that time he told me his story—how he dropped out of school and followed in the footsteps of his older brother, whom he idolized and who was serving time for a hate crime as well. His father had left them. He was not able to afford his mental-health medication. He took a gun and went to the local synagogue. It was empty; he was intending to kill himself. At the last minute, he decided he couldn’t go through with it and emptied his clip into the empty synagogue instead.

He asked me for forgiveness for what he did. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.

When Rothenberg’s mom called to complain and demand accountability as to where her son was, the prison officials said they’d never heard of “diesel therapy”. Hmmm… As I mentioned before, I first heard about “diesel therapy” listening to Jim Bakker, of all people.

Rothenberg is now an ordained Rabbi and prison consultant. It sounds like he’s mended his ways. I hope he avoided being sexually assaulted. I hope Josh does, too. But it’s probably not very comforting to be welcomed to prison with a video about how to avoid and report prison rape. I bet it makes settling in a bit difficult.

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true crime

What was Vicky White thinking when she broke Casey White out of jail? I sure don’t know…

Happy Thursday, everybody. I’m in a pretty good mood today, because Bill and I had a great time at the Keb’ Mo’ show in Mainz last night. I have already written about our experience, so anyone who is curious can pop over to my travel blog and have a look. We had fabulous seats, and Keb’ Mo’ was super entertaining, playing all of the songs I hoped to hear, as well as a few that I need to revisit! The show was supposed to happen on November 16, 2020, which was our 20th wedding anniversary. Of course, we all know what happened in 2020, and that show would go on to be rescheduled three times! Keb’ Mo’ even came out with another album before he had a chance to do last night’s show, which did include some of the newest material. Anyway, it was a great time. I’m not even too perturbed that our upstairs toilet is still kind of “deadlined” until the plumber can get here to fix the flusher.

So now, I’m trying to figure out what today’s post will be about. A couple of days ago, I mentioned the now late Vicky White, a 56 year old former corrections officer from Alabama, who broke her “boyfriend”, 38 year old Casey White, out of jail and absconded with him to Indiana. I enjoy writing about true crime, and this case has “movie of the week” written all over it. I mean, here was a lady who had worked at the jail for years, was second in command, and was highly regarded by her colleagues. And yet, for some reason, she decided to retire several years before she would have turned 60, which is when she could have retired with benefits. She was to retire on her last day of work. She also sold her house for $90,000, which was well below market value. What the hell was she thinking? What caused a respected corrections officer to become a fugitive in her final days of life?

Friend and fellow blogger, Alex Diaz-Granados, commented that he’d like to read my “take” on this bizarre case. At this point, though, like everybody else, I can only make assumptions.

I remember when the story first hit the news. At first, people wondered if maybe Vicky White had been overpowered or manipulated in some way by Casey White (no relation), who is 6’9″ tall. Vicky White, who had been the assistant director of corrections for Lauderdale County, in Alabama, had told other staffers at the jail that she was going to take Casey White to a mental health evaluation. After that, she said she had intended to seek medical care for herself. When the Whites didn’t return to the jail, some checking was done, and it turned out that the mental health evaluation story was bogus, and Vicky had also lied about going to see a doctor. They also realized that Vicky White had violated policy by traveling alone with the inmate. Naturally, that led investigators to believe that she was complicit in helping Casey White escape the jail and stay on the run for eleven days. Later, investigators said that video footage had proven that the escape was well-planned, although I’m not sure if White planned anything beyond getting Casey White out of jail.

Vicky White right before her death.

In the time following the escape, more research shows that Vicky White had used disguises, forged her name, and used aliases. She and Casey White spent eight whole days in Evansville, Indiana before they were finally confronted by the authorities and led then on a high speed car chase that ended with an accident. White’s final call to 911 has been made available to the press. On May 9, 2022, she shot herself in the head with a handgun before police were able to arrest her. Casey White had asked officers to “help his wife”, although they were not married to each other. Then we hear an officer saying they needed to clear “some of this shit out of the way”. Vicky White still had the gun in her hand after she shot herself with it. She was still breathing at the scene, but later died at a local hospital.

Bodycam footage of the efforts to save Vicky White. I guess she preferred death to what awaited her in the court system.

Thinking about this case, it makes me wonder what in the world had recently happened in her life to cause Vicky White’s life to go off the skids like this. She made some very strange and troubling decisions in her last days on the planet. Having spent so many years in her criminal justice career, I wonder if the realization that she’d made such a huge mistake caused her to implode the way she did. But I really wonder how it was that she came to be in a relationship with Casey White in the first place. In his case, I almost feel like maybe he was hoping a cop would kill him. I guess I can understand that, as it’s definitely not ideal to be incarcerated. And now, thanks to this escape, life for Casey White will probably be sheer hell from now on. I read the police chief in Alabama said White would be cuffed and shackled 24/7 in his cell, and he would definitely have a lot more guards watching his every move. He is now in a state prison, about 100 miles south of the jail from which he had escaped with Vicky White, who had apparently begun a secret relationship with him when he spent time, intermittently, at the jail where she worked for pre-trial hearings. Casey White had initially been locked up for stabbing and killing Connie Ridgeway in 2015. Now, the authorities will add escape charges to his rap sheet.

I feel for the people who worked with Vicky White. No doubt, they had many good memories of working with her, and didn’t want to see her go down this path, or end her life in the way she did. I also feel for Vicky’s family, especially her mother. I guess that Vicky felt she couldn’t face her family, friends, and former colleagues. She probably felt disgraced, and this situation may have seemed hopeless. This year, she was voted “Corrections Employee of the Year”, and it was not the first time she had achieved that honor.

I suspect that Vicky White’s final actions will make things much harder for her former colleagues, too. It will be harder for people to trust each other. And it will make it harder for prisoners, too, who will probably be treated worse.

It surprises me that none of her co-workers saw or said anything about this supposed relationship Vicky White had with Casey White. Didn’t they notice anything? Below is another video, posted two days before they were found in Indiana. Supposedly, Vicky had a “double life”.

Two days later, they were caught, and Vicky White made a tragic and irreversible decision.

One inmate in the above video said that it was “chaotic” in the jail, and she wasn’t surprised Vicky was able to break Casey out of there. It makes me wonder if people who worked there just ignored policies as a matter of course. Someone in the video mentioned that Vicky was divorced, but still lived with her ex husband, who died in January of this year of Parkinson’s Disease. Another person, a former co-worker, says she had a “dark side”, and didn’t resemble the sunny blonde in the photos that were released. He also felt that she knew exactly what she was doing, and had planned this for a long time.

I guess time will reveal whatever can be gleaned from the information that comes up in the wake of this situation. We’ll never really know what motivated Vicky White to take these steps that led to her death. But at least Casey is back behind bars. I’ll be watching to see what else comes from this story. I’m sure someone will write a book. Dr. Todd Grande has already made a video about it.

Todd Grande looks at this case.

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China, healthcare, law

COVID dystopia in China makes me glad to be western…

For the past few days, we’ve been dealing with a minor inconvenience involving my favorite toilet. The toilet, like many in Germany, has its flusher mechanism mounted in the wall. We’d had some issues with the flusher before. At times, the plastic hardware behind the flusher was somehow malfunctioning. In the past, I could usually take the button off and maneuver the innards of the flush mechanism so that it worked properly again. But this time, something broke, rendering the toilet unflushable and irreparable. So now, we have to use the toilet on the main floor until the flusher can be fixed. That’s a bit of a pain in the butt.

Our landlord has assured us the plumber, along with the landlord’s son, who is currently apprenticing with the plumber, will be out this week to fix the issue. I look forward to having the toilet fixed, because it’s annoying and inconvenient to have to go downstairs to pee in the middle of the night. But, I realize it’s a first world problem. We’re very fortunate to be living in a beautiful, large, freestanding home with a backyard. We also have a toilet in the basement that rarely gets used. Things could certainly be much worse. We could be living in an apartment in Shanghai.

This morning, as I was pondering what I wanted to write about today, I consulted CNN. I saw the bizarre news story about the now late Vicky White, a former Alabama corrections officer who helped inmate Casey White escape the jail where she was working. I had seen the headlines about that story and was sort of casually following it. In a prior life, I probably would have been very interested in writing about White and her inexplicable choice to consort with an inmate who, by most accounts, is a very dangerous man. I like to write about true crime, and this story has “movie of the week” written all over it. Maybe I will write about that case at a later date, as new details come out. I am pretty tired of writing about COVID, Ex, and my other “pet subjects”. However, though I am so sick of thinking and writing about COVID, I feel compelled to write about the situation in Shanghai today.

Wow.

Even though things have gotten more “normal” in Europe over the past few weeks, they’re most definitely not normal everywhere. Especially in Asia. In Shanghai, residents are being forced to endure incredibly harsh lockdowns in the fruitless quest to quash COVID-19. The situation is really shocking, especially if you’re a westerner. I don’t know how closely my fellow Americans have been following this story out of China. It definitely makes me question if the Asian approach is the best one, even though so many people seem to think they have it right.

Ever since this COVID drama started two years ago, I’ve seen many people hail east Asian peoples as having the “right” ideas about controlling the virus. So many smug, self-righteous western commenters on news articles about COVID have held up east Asians as being so much kinder toward their fellow man. I’ve totally lost count of how many pro-mask people have pointed to how Asians voluntarily and cheerfully wear face masks when they’re sick. Then, those same people accuse their countrymen of being selfish, narcissistic and even sociopathic, because they don’t want to be subjected to ongoing COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

While I completely understand that face masks were necessary, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m all for promoting vaccinations and quarantines when they are necessary, I can’t get on the east Asia love bandwagon when it comes to their extreme approaches to public health. Especially in Shanghai. This morning, I watched in shock and horror as video footage of police officers in hazmat suits played on my computer screens. The Chinese cops are showing up at the homes of people who have the misfortune of living near someone who tested positive for the virus. Under new harsh guidelines, not only are COVID positive people forced into government run quarantine centers, but so are their neighbors, even if they’ve tested negative. And the police are breaking down the doors to private residences to drag the people away.

According to the article on CNN, pleas from private citizens are falling on deaf ears.

“From now on, people who live on the same floor (as Covid cases) must be transported (into quarantine),” a police officer says in the video.

“It’s not that you can do whatever you want — unless you’re in America. This is China,” another police officer says sternly, waving a bottle of disinfectant in his hand. “Stop asking me why. There is no why. We have to obey our country’s regulations and epidemic control policies.”

The article I linked from CNN shows just how outrageous things have gotten, particularly in Shanghai, but also in other Chinese cities. I realize that China isn’t all of Asia. Maybe it’s not nearly as bad in other Asian cities. But given how many people live in China, I think it’s bad enough. One video shows citizens being forced to hand over their apartment keys so they can be locked into their homes from the outside. Those who refuse to give officials their keys have holes drilled into the walls, so padlocks can be installed on their doors. The video also shows workers installing bars on windows to keep residents locked inside their homes.

Yikes!

The quarantine centers are said to be squalid, and it seems that no one is safe. One reporter described people in their 90s being dragged off to the centers. Another spoke of babies not being allowed on the subway system, because they couldn’t produce negative COVID-19 test results. Local citizens who speak out against the draconian rules are censored. Some people have become so despondent over the endless rules that they have committed suicide. One CNN correspondent said that she’s been locked in a hotel room for two weeks, with one more week to go, before she can go to her final destination of Beijing.

Of course, we don’t have anything like this going on in the western world. A lot of people are legitimately selfish about COVID-19 and the pursuit of their own “freedoms”. I’m not saying that people who completely ignore concerns about the virus are right. I think we all should take reasonable precautions against COVID and other viruses. But there’s a limit to how far people should be expected to go. I don’t think the Asian approach to COVID, or anything else, is necessarily the best. In fact, my heart goes out to the people who are enduring that hell in China right now. I can understand why some people have concluded that life isn’t worth living anymore.

Another story that I haven’t adequately explored is the war in Ukraine. Again… watching and reading the stories about that situation make me feel very fortunate to be where I am. I have read several heartbreaking stories about Ukrainian women whose husbands have been murdered in front of them. Then, some Russian soldiers have raped the surviving women, who then must endure the rumors and gossip spread by their neighbors. I know that if I had the misfortune of being in that situation, I would try to deal with it, as those women have. I would have no choice. But it still seems insane to me… I don’t understand the level of complete disdain for other human beings that has been shown, both in Ukraine and in China. It’s as if they have no hearts for others. It’s just horrifying.

Well… I suppose I should “embrace the suck” and “count my blessings”. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt to have to deal with a busted toilet flusher. But I guess these stories from CNN are a stark reminder that my problems are really first world problems. I have been extraordinarily lucky on so many levels. Reading these stories have inspired a few moments of sheer gratitude.

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healthcare, social media, stupid people

Alabama doctor gets “threats” after warning people on Facebook about COVID-19!

Hey guys… I know I’m on a short vacation, but I need to make a comment. And right now, Mr. Bill is about to take a shower, so I have a few minutes to vent about this.

A couple of days ago, I read a heartbreaking story about Dr. Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist in Alabama, who shared an emotional Facebook post about the realities some of the people who don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 will face if they get sick. She wrote:

I’ve made a LOT of progress encouraging people to get vaccinated lately!!! Do you want to know how? I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.

As always, I am an open book. Please bring me your questions and I will tell you everything I know and everything I don’t.

It’s not too late, but some day it might be.

It got picked up by multiple news outlets and shared in the article I found on MSNBC. I shared it on my page, and one of my friends, who is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic and has been taking care of COVID patients from the beginning, wrote about how she took care of a person who asked her if they were going to die that night. That person, who was unvaccinated and asked for the vaccine while hospitalized, didn’t die. However, another unvaccinated person who was being taken care of by my friend at the same time did die. Both were previously healthy people in their 40s. She still thinks about both of them, and countless others who have been under her care.

Then yesterday, a friend of mine and Bill’s– a Trump devotee from Alabama who was smart enough to get the vaccine– wrote that his daughter is currently in the hospital with COVID-19 and she is VERY sick. She was not vaccinated, so her life is now in danger. Our Trump loving friend– and he really is a friend we knew when we lived in northern Virginia– wrote a heartfelt post to his friends and family members about the vaccine, encouraging them to get it. Most of his friends were respectful and kind, although one referred to the vaccine as “poison” and felt free to opine about how things are in Europe. Bill needed to set her straight on that. I also added my two cents, which I rarely do on this guy’s Facebook, because his friends are even more conservative than some of my relatives are.

People– COVID is NOT a political thing. It’s a public health crisis. Vaccines have been around for hundreds of years, and they WORK. Is there a small chance of experiencing adverse effects? Yes, there are risks in everything we do. But your chances of getting very sick and dying decrease dramatically with the vaccine. I am a big believer in people making their own choices, but some folks are just plain being stupid about this and they are paying with their lives. And their choices are affecting so many other people.

Making matters worse is that some of the terrified people out there in Internet land, offended or angered by Dr. Cobia’s pleading on Facebook, have issued THREATS to her, and her mother! What the hell is wrong with people? It’s never okay to threaten people, especially when they’re being kind enough to tell you the TRUTH. Below is a quote from the Washington Post about Dr. Cobia’s Facebook crusade and the aftermath:


Cobia said that she initially “agreed to a few interviews to help spread the word because I think the message is so important,” but she and her mother have since received “a lot of harassing and threatening messages.”

“So I just need to take a step back from everything right now and let the post circulate and hope it does its job and changes some minds!”

Cobia, and her husband, who is a neurosurgeon, both got COVID last year. Cobia was 27 weeks pregnant with her second child at the time, and chose to deliver early out of precaution. So this is not just about a doctor treating people with the virus. It’s also about someone who got the virus and survived. She knows firsthand about it, although she was lucky enough to have a somewhat mild case. Cobia says she got the vaccine as soon as it was available and even breastfed afterwards.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID. However, it does make it a hell of a lot less likely that you’ll die from it or be hospitalized. And you are much less likely to be sitting in a hospital bed, holding hands with a doctor like Brytney Cobia, BEGGING for the vaccine, only to be told it’s too late, and you are forced to die alone.

Please… for the love of Christ, get your information from healthcare professionals and, if you can, consider getting vaccinated. When you get seriously ill, it doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you, including the people who have to take care of you. And no matter what, DO NOT THREATEN PEOPLE WITH DEATH BECAUSE THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH! That is just insanity!

I hope the people who issue threats are caught and dealt with appropriately. There is absolutely no excuse for that!

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