controversies, Military, politicians, politics, Twitter

Zip it, buddy. You don’t know anything about me.

Angry rant ahead. You’ve been warned.

Last night, I read the story about how retired Lieutenant General Gary Volesky, who has had a sweet contracting gig advising the Army, got suspended for appearing to mock First Lady Jill Biden and trans people. Volesky responded to the below tweet by Dr. Jill Biden:

A lot of people take some comfort in the fact that our current FLOTUS seems to give a shit. I know I do.

In his now deleted tweet, Volesky posted “Glad to see you finally know what a woman is…” For his snarky political comment, Volesky was given a suspension from his $92 an hour job, serving as a mentor and advisor to senior military officials. I mentioned this to Bill last night, and he said he’s actually worked with Volesky. They met when Volesky was a mere colonel. At the time, Bill thought Volesky was a fine soldier. Indeed, he has a very impressive resume, having served in some prestigious jobs in the Army, and earned many accolades and awards for his work as a top flight Army officer.

One would think a man of Volesky’s experience and caliber as an Army officer, albeit a retired one, would understand that he’s supposed to be apolitical. I made a comment to that effect on the Washington Post’s article about this incident. I wrote that I’m glad Volesky got suspended. He’s supposed to be apolitical. Notice I never mentioned anything about the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). I simply stated that Volesky was supposed to be apolitical.

I immediately got dressed down by some random guy named Shane, who wrote that I am “very ignorant” about the UCMJ. My response to him is “No, I’m not.” Shane came back and smugly explained that Volesky is retired, and therefore isn’t held to the UCMJ. I rolled my eyes. Yet another fucking mansplainer had shown up to tell me what I know, and what I don’t know. How does a guy like Shane, who lives out west in the United States, have any fucking clue about me? And what makes guys like him feel the need to make such personal assumptions about total strangers? And why can’t I make a comment without some guy like Shane feeling the need to discount and disrespect it, and me? What an annoying little twerp he is. Does he go up to random people on the street and address them with assumptions and disrespect?

My response to Shane was basically this. Volesky isn’t some grunt. He was hired to work for the Army because he’s a highly decorated and experienced retired officer. People know who he is. He’s a role model– a mentor and advisor– for active duty Army officers, who ARE subject to the UCMJ. Active duty servicemembers are not allowed to make public political statements in conjunction with their positions in the military. As such, Volesky knows damned well that Joe Biden is the commander in chief, and he should not disparage him or his wife on public forums. Is he technically beholden to the UCMJ now, as a retiree? No. But I’d love to see Volesky in any other job in the private sector go on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any other social media outlet, and make disparaging comments about his boss and/or his boss’s spouse. What would happen? He’d get FIRED. It happens all the time to regular people, for lesser offenses.

Hell, I remember reading about a woman in DC getting FIRED because she flipped off Donald Trump’s motorcade while riding her bike. She was just some regular person in DC. Volesky is a high powered military guy who, no doubt, understands what the rules are. He has DECADES of experience, and surely knows better. Moreover, he’s a retired three star, so he’s probably not hurting for money. I have no sympathy for him.

The UCMJ is irrelevant. No, I’m not an expert on the UCMJ and never made that claim. In fact, I never mentioned the UCMJ at all. But I’m certainly not very ignorant about it, and there’s no way Shane could ascertain my knowledge, or lack thereof, on any given topic anyway, solely based on a brief comment on social media.

Then I wrote to Shane that he doesn’t know a thing about me and what I know, or don’t know, about any subject. So he should STFU, and leave me alone. I’m not sure if the Washington Post deleted that comment, but I did notice that our conversation was over after that. And I’m glad. I’m so tired of random people on the Internet feeling like they need to take on whomever they want to, and make negative, personal assumptions about them. I should be able to make a comment on the Washington Post— especially one that is basically innocuous– and not be invited to a contentious exchange with some mansplaining moron who’s never met me, and just wants to push a conservative agenda.

Shane probably now thinks I’m a bitch. You know what? I don’t really care. In a previous era, men had power over women and could treat them like lesser beings simply because we don’t have penises. Those days are over.

I didn’t take the time to stalk Shane’s Facebook page, but I did notice that he has an American flag as his profile pic. I have also noticed that a lot of people with Old Glory as their profile picture are typically MAGA assholes who routinely have a smug, superior attitude about conservatism which spills down to how they talk to anyone who isn’t a white, Christian, cisgender, Republican male. I’m sick of it, and they can all just get lost, as far as I’m concerned. I have less than zero interest in dialoguing with them.

Lately, these folks remind me of the people Bill and I ran into when we were in Florence a couple of months ago. As we walked around the famous cathedral, we would be approached by men who would ask the time or otherwise try to chat us up or even touch us. One time, one of those guys got too close to Bill. Seconds later, he got too close to another American man, who yelled out “DON’T TOUCH ME!!!” I’m sure the dude backed away quickly. That’s how I want some of the men on social media to respond to me when I make it clear that I’m not interested in having an unpleasant, confrontational, uninvited interaction with them. A lot of them discover very quickly that I’m not as dumb as they seem to think I am. And to Shane and his boorish brethren, I dedicate this song…

And a hearty “Fuck you!”, too!

Sorry… this is a pretty negative, profane post for a Monday morning. I’m not in a great mood. Bill has to leave town for the work week. It will probably do me some good to be alone for a few days. I still hate it, though. I asked Bill what he would do if I didn’t answer the phone or his messages while he’s gone. He said he’d worry. I know he would. One time, early in our marriage, our landline phone was inadvertently left off the hook. He was trying to call and couldn’t get through. His buddy later told me that Bill got very worried when I didn’t pick up the phone. I think he even sent me a PM to tell me to hang up. I have to admit that it’s nice to have someone worry about me. Funny that it happens now that I’m an adult. It wasn’t much of a thing when I was a kid.

Well, I think I’ll end this post and practice my guitar and walk the dogs. I want to get back to my latest book, so I can review it. Maybe that will help me avoid people like Shane, who like General Volesky, apparently hasn’t yet learned to keep his figurative mouth shut.

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social media

“Shame, shame… everybody knows your name!” When people of today, shame others over events from the past…

Back in the 80s, I used to love watching sitcoms on television. One of my favorites from those days was Alice, which, over several years, starred Linda Lavin, Vic Tayback, Beth Howland, Polly Holliday, Diane Ladd, and Celia Weston. A few years ago, I downloaded the entire series and watched all of the episodes. As I was watching the show, I had forgotten that Alice, along with many other TV shows from that era, wasn’t always “politically correct” by today’s standards.

I remember one episode featured cast members from The Dukes of Hazzard, which was a huge hit in the early 80s. I was still a child in the 80s, and I grew up in southern Virginia, where people proudly displayed Confederate battle flags. Consequently, when Alice originally aired in the 80s, I wasn’t shocked when an episode featured Boss Hogg and Enos, of The Dukes of Hazzard. Mel Sharples (Tayback), crotchety owner of Mel’s Diner, welcomed them by putting little Confederate battle flags on all the tables. In those days, seeing that flag was pretty common and even considered “normal”, especially in the South. I was about ten years old, anyway, and at that time, didn’t know anything about racism, or any of the issues surrounding that topic.

Yes, Enos and Boss Hogg visited Mel’s Diner.

I would later learn much more about racism, and why the Confederate flag is so offensive to many people, but I’m probably still pretty ignorant about the subject. What I know is mostly based on book learning and conversations I’ve had with people of color. I did happen to live in South Carolina when the Confederate flag was finally taken down from the top of the Statehouse dome. Because I was living on the campus at the University of South Carolina, I could actually see the flag come down from my apartment, as it was also being televised on CNN. The flag was moved to the Statehouse grounds, where it was guarded by a state trooper for some time. I believe the powers that be in South Carolina eventually removed the battle flag from the Statehouse grounds altogether, although I can’t swear to it, since I haven’t been in Columbia in years.

This certainly wouldn’t fly today… but it was considered perfectly fine in the 80s. We can’t change that by shaming people.

One thing I remember from Alice was that the character of Vera, played by Beth Howland, was famously ditzy, “dinghy”, and batty. One of Vera’s best remembered taglines was “shame, shame… everybody knows your name!” She would always say it with the appropriate level of disgust and disdain, which usually got a laugh from the studio audience. That old line is in my head this morning, as I reflect upon a shaming comment I received this morning from a complete stranger. It’s actually one of a few unpleasant interactions I’ve had with complete strangers on Facebook over the past 24 hours.

I’m in a Facebook group called “Exploring Virginia”. It’s mainly a “feel good” group in which people share beautiful photos and memories of Virginia. I spent most of my childhood and a good portion of my young adult life in Virginia. It’s my home. I was born there, and both sides of my family of origin have been there for generations. I spent my childhood riding horses, and since my discipline was “hunt seat”, that means I went on the occasional fox hunt. Virginia, being one of the original British colonies, does have a lot of traditions that are British. Some people are continuing those old traditions, even if they seem wrong now.

Yesterday, someone shared a photo from a fox hunt in Middleburg, Virginia. Middleburg is horse country. I never lived in Middleburg, but I do know that’s where a lot of really stellar hunter jumpers are born and bred. So, it stands to reason that there would be fox hunts in Middleburg. I thought it was nice that someone shared a photo from a hunt, and posted:

“I used to go on fox hunts in my youth… Was a lot of fun!”

I haven’t been fox hunting since, oh, around 1986 or so… at that time, fox hunts weren’t necessarily considered politically incorrect. They were even still legal in the United Kingdom, which banned them in 2004, because they are considered “cruel” . Fox hunting is still permitted in Northern Ireland. I believe they are still popular in Ireland, too, based on the YouTube videos I’ve seen. Anyway, it’s been many years since I last partook of that sport. In fact, I haven’t even been riding since the mid 90s, and riding used to be a huge part of my life. Seeing that fox hunting photo brought back good memories of when I spent most of my free time with my horse.

Most follow up comments to mine were friendly. Several other people also wrote that they used to enjoy fox hunting. Others just expressed appreciation for the photo, which again, wasn’t my photo. But then, this morning, I got a comment from someone who felt the need to single me out, and shame me, for fondly remembering my fox hunting days. She wrote, in direct response to my comment that hunting was fun, “not for the fox.”

I decided to reply to her, which I think I managed to do in a somewhat measured tone. I wrote:

“In all of the years that I hunted, I never saw any killing. We mostly chased deer, who also weren’t killed. Think trail ride while wearing fancy riding clothes. I think I saw one fox in all the times we hunted. We all said “tallyho”, and that was it.”

I understand that fox hunting is no longer considered “politically correct”, because many people consider it to be cruel. However, when I went fox hunting, I was a child growing up in rural Gloucester, Virginia, where my classmates would routinely bring rifles on school grounds so they could go hunting after school. That’s how things were in the 80s, and it was normal for me, and my classmates. Maybe fox hunting wouldn’t be considered “right” by some people today, but when I was a young horsewoman, it was perfectly fine, and part of taking riding lessons. I also competed in horse shows and went on competitive trail rides. Doing all of that helped keep me physically fit, taught me responsibility, and sportsmanship. It also kept me occupied and out of trouble. Moreover, hunting– of all kinds– was part of the culture in Gloucester.

In fact, when I was in middle school, I remember having to take a hunter safety course as part of our health and P.E. curriculum. Teachers actually taught us about how to safely handle firearms, even though I have never actually owned a weapon. Enough people in my community had guns, that the school board felt it was a good idea to teach school kids about gun safety. In light of all the gun violence in schools today, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. Should I be ashamed that I took a hunter safety course, too? I don’t remember having a choice in the matter.

Anyway, the actual kind of fox hunting we did was more of a ceremonial thing. It genuinely was fun, on the mornings when it wasn’t absolutely frigid outside. It basically boiled down to people putting on breeches, long johns, black boots, turtlenecks, and coats, and riding through the woods on fall mornings. After a few spirited canters through the woods, and a few jumps over ditches, fallen tree trunks, and fences that were put up by the hunt club, the adults would pass around a flask of Jack Daniels. It seemed to be more about camaraderie than a bloody sport involving wild animals being torn apart by dogs. I never once saw that happen, but even if I did, it’s not as if people weren’t also using their guns to kill wild animals in those days, and now.

While I probably wouldn’t choose to go fox hunting now, I don’t feel offended when I see a picture of a man in hunting attire on horseback with his dogs. Hunting serves a practical purpose. Some people get their meat that way, and actually hunt because that’s partly how they feed their families. Many people are going to choose to eat meat, no matter what animal rights activists say about it.

I don’t think I should be shamed because I once enjoyed fox hunting, especially since I was a kid at the time, and nothing was ever actually killed. What’s the point of shaming someone for something like that, other than trying to make them feel like shit? I can’t change the fact that I used to fox hunt and mostly enjoyed it. It was part of growing up in rural Virginia around horses. Given that Exploring Virginia is supposed to be a “feel good” group, I think that lady’s comment was out of place. As I was writing this, some other lady gave me a “sad” reaction. Seriously? I decided to just delete my comment, because I don’t want to spend my Friday being annoyed by shamers. I’m sure that reaction was not what the group creators had in mind when they started their group.

For more reading about fox hunting in Virginia, here’s an excellent blog post by someone who describes exactly what I remember from my “hunting days”.

Cue the judgmental responses from the vegan crowd…

I’m not the only one who’s gotten shamed, though. Singer-songwriter Janis Ian shared the featured photo yesterday. Janis Ian regularly posts things that get people riled up and snarky. I like her music, and often agree with her views. She can be funny, too. But I rarely comment on her posts, mainly because I’ve noticed that she can get quite testy in responses to people and, at times, she’s a bit hypocritical. On the other hand, some of her fans are pretty obnoxious. One person commented,

“Yes! I didn’t realise that you are a vegan!”

To which Janis posted, “I’m not.”

The post then became inundated with comments from a preachy vegan who shamed those who enjoy eating meat. There were also a couple of comments about people who feed their cats a vegan diet, which I think is a cruel practice. Cats are true carnivores, and they shouldn’t be forced to be vegans because some humans think hunting is cruel. Even the ASPCA agrees. Cats hunt. It’s in their nature. No matter how many human beings think killing and eating animals is cruel, there will always be creatures who kill their food. It’s part of life.

That being said, I totally agree that factory farming is horrible, and too many of us eat way too much meat. But a holier than thou exchange on Facebook with a complete stranger about veganism isn’t going to make me change my diet, nor do I think the complete stranger really cares. I think it’s more about them feeling superior and more “evolved” than other people.

Personally, I truly admire vegans, but I don’t think I could be a vegan. I might be able to be a vegetarian, if I really desired to make that change. But I will tell you one thing… being preachy and judgmental is not going to make me want to join the vegan cause.

When it comes to animal rights, there are varying degrees on what some people think should be reality. Some animal rights activists, for instance, don’t think humans should even have pets. I’d love to know what they think we should do with all of the dogs and cats and horses who depend on their relationships with humans for their survival. You can’t tell me that my dogs don’t love Bill and me, either. I refuse to feel guilty and ashamed for loving my pets, who also eat meat.

I guess what it comes down to is that everybody has an opinion. In a just world, people would respect other people’s rights to express their opinions without resorting to shaming or climbing up on a moral high horse.

And finally…

Yesterday, I got shamed for “not being fertile”. Some guy in a discussion about abortion commented that he thinks that since half of a developing fetus’s DNA belongs to the father, the father should be allowed to force the mother to gestate. It’s as if this guy thinks of the fetus as his property, even though it’s not developing in his body.

I wrote that it’s too bad that MALES aren’t the ones whose health and life are on the line. And the guy responded by saying “most men prefer women who are fertile.” That struck me as a totally stupid comment. I actually laughed out loud. I considered offering a snarky rebuttal, but then decided that the guy’s comment was so incredibly dumb that it was better to block him. I don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that. 😉

But seriously… on so many levels, that comment was very offensive. First off, how does he know about my fertility, or lack thereof? I don’t look old in my photo. Secondly, why is he speaking for all men? And thirdly, it’s those kinds of misogynistic comments that make a lot of women not want to have anything to do with men. I can totally understand why my cousin decided to conceive using donor sperm, rather than being involved with a man. For one thing, she’s a lesbian. For another, so many men are just assholes. I truly hope that no fertile woman lets that dude get within fifty yards of her vagina.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I need to get off of Facebook.

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musings, social media

My thoughts on so-called “insufferable posters” on Facebook…

Our vacation is winding down… we are now in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. It took several hours to get here from Florence, which gave me plenty of time to look at Facebook. One of my friends shared a post from 2015. It was from qz.com and was titled “There is a good chance that you are the ‘friend’ that everyone finds insufferable on Facebook”.

I think I read this article some time ago, but I was reminded of it anew today as we sped north toward Modena. The post, which was written by a guy named Tim Urban, was originally shared in November 2015. It was all about how people on Facebook annoy their friends, family members, and acquaintances because they indulge their egos, seek attention, or try to make people jealous.

The friend who shared this post wrote that she thought it was a great read, as did some of her friends. A few others, myself among them, thought the writer was an asshole. I know I do my fair share of complaining about Facebook comments. Actually, it’s really mainly comments that annoy me, not status updates, or things that people mostly share on their own pages. I don’t like it when people go on other people’s pages and act like jerks. They can do whatever they want on their own pages. If it really bugs me, I’ll unfriend or unfollow. But I don’t think of those people as “insufferable”. If I did, I would probably go ahead and disassociate myself. I know I’m not everyone’s shot of tequila or whatever…

Mr. Urban’s post consisted of a list of seven types of posts people share that tend to be annoying… to him, I guess, but maybe to others, too. In Urban’s view, to “not” be annoying, a status update must either be interesting or informative, or it has to be entertaining somehow. All other posts– to include any about one’s blessings in life, “cries for help” (from loneliness), meaningful quotes from well-known sages, or humble bragging– are apparently irritating by Mr. Urban’s yardstick.

I’ll admit that I can see some of his points. I do have a few current and former Facebook friends who share quotes. It makes me wonder if they talk to their friends that way offline. Do they go up to their pals and say things like “laugh and the whole world laughs with you”? Somehow, I doubt it… but hell, it’s their Facebook page. I don’t have to respond to it.

And some people probably hate that I share my blog. As a matter of fact, during our Italy trip, I met a few people who live in Stuttgart. One was a couple who had been there since 2015, and the female half knew about my blog. I had a feeling she didn’t like it, or me, and that was before she’d ever met me. Whatever… c’est la vie. Lots of people don’t like me after never having read my writing, just as some people think they know (and don’t like) me after reading a couple of posts. I think that’s a pretty limited way to go through life, especially since I’m not really so bad once you get to know me.

I know there are a lot of people– especially in the military community– who HATE that I have the nerve to call myself “overeducated” and think I’m an asshole for my blog title alone. But I also realize that some people actually enjoy the blog, and don’t think I’m a pretentious asshole. Later, after I parted company with those folks, Bill and I went to another hotel, and met a couple of really nice American couples who were excited to be in Italy. We had a very pleasant conversation, unmarred by any preconceived thoughts about my activities on social media or this blog. 😉

Mostly, though, Tim Urban’s post made me think that I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with HIM. I like sharing my friends’ joy. When they share their proud parenting moments, news about their achievements, pictures of their trips, or even mushy posts about their spouses or other family members, I’m genuinely happy for them. I think anyone who would find those kinds of posts offensive, obnoxious, or annoying, probably aren’t much fun at parties. I would also like to know who make Tim Urban judge and jury for what people ought to post on Facebook. Especially since he’s not one of MY friends. 😉

Personally, there are a lot of days when I’m sorry I signed up for Facebook. However, I realize that it’s pretty hard not to be on some kind of social media, if you’re not in your 80s and completely removed from the Internet, like my mom is. I do hope a better alternative will come along, though. Or, maybe I’ll just lose interest in it, like I do most things.

Anyway… I gotta be me. Part of who I am may come off as profane, vulgar, and obnoxious. I own it. But I can’t be someone else, especially for people who don’t even care enough to try to get to know me before they pass judgment. For most users, Facebook isn’t a place for developing real relationships, even though I know some have developed there. And so, I think people ought to post what they want to, on their own pages. It’s when they’re shitty on other people’s pages and posts that I take notice and feel negative. I think people who are rude to strangers on news sites are the most insufferable Facebook posters of all.

Well, tomorrow, we will enjoy Vaduz, and then Wednesday morning, we’ll make our way home to Wiesbaden. I am looking forward to it, to be very honest. I look forward to doing laundry and seeing the dogs, and writing up all of these adventures… and I’m even more hopeful that the swelling in my ankles will go down. We had a very busy vacation and it was a lot of fun, but it’s time to get back to business.

Still… it will be hard to leave this view from our current hotel… and if that’s bragging, so be it.

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complaints, humor, rants, social media

Random free floating hostility… so many things that are irritating me today.

This is going to be a really cranky and inappropriate post. If you choose to read it, you may not agree with some of the reasons why I’m cranky. That’s fine, but I don’t really want to hear about it unless you have a funny comment to add, kind support, or commiseration. I have a right to air my grievances on my space, controversial though they may be.

Fair warning. This is my mood today.

Yesterday was an annoying day on several levels. It started off okay enough. I showed off Bill’s Bento Box packing skills to my friends. He cracks me up, because he’s so health conscious and he likes to pack visually appealing, healthy lunches for himself. Meanwhile, I’m planning to eat Cheetos. I ate a strawberry for breakfast, and a seed got caught between my teeth, which was very aggravating. I’m also dealing with Aunt Flow, who made an irritating return after three months. There’s not enough flow to need a lot of protection, but there is enough to make me feel “not so fresh”. Then Bill went off to work, and that’s when things began to get even more annoying.

Before the morning was over, I watched a video on the Meet The Wengers channel. I have been following this lady, Katie Wenger, for a few years now. She’s American, and she married a German guy from Stuttgart. They have three kids and live in Berlin now. I watched her latest video, which was followed by one of her old videos, from when her eldest child was still very young and she was pregnant with her second baby. Her son, then a toddler, had a massive tantrum in a department store, and some rude bitch came up to her and said, “You’re going to have another baby and you can’t even handle the one you have now?” Oh my God… what a rude, insensitive, CUNTY comment that is. Poor Katie was crying. I’m sure I would have fired lasers at that woman if she had said something like that to me. What makes people think they have the right to make comments like that to perfect strangers?

I’m sure she was nicer than I would have been in this situation.

After I watched Katie’s video, it was approaching 1:00pm, which is when one of my banks in the USA opens (7:00 am, Eastern time). I needed to call them, which is never something I enjoy doing. I mentioned last month that I’m wanting to change banks where I do checking. For many reasons, I’m trying to fire USAA.

For over a month, I’ve been trying to set up a checking account with a bank I already use. Yesterday, I called them for the third time about this issue. The first two times, I was told that their system was giving them an “error” when they tried to set up a checking account for me. They said IT would look at it and they would get in touch with me. But, of course, they never bothered to contact me. I was about to give up, but on Tuesday night, Bill managed to open a checking account online with no issues whatsoever. So I called the bank and was told that they needed a “physical address”. I gave them my German address, which the system didn’t want to take. But Bill lives in the same place I do… so why was he able to open an account and I’m not?

Adding insult to injury, this bank’s app sucks. It’s no longer recognizing my fingerprint, and it tells me that my email and phone number are not eligible for two party authentication, even though I was using the app successfully a few days ago. If I go to the actual Web site, it lets me log in and sends me texts and emails with no issues, albeit not without lecturing me about my usual browser, which it doesn’t like. So I called the bank and complained about the checking account issue, reminding the person that this was my third call about this. Then I told her that every other time, people have said someone would contact me, and they never do. I sent an email, too, and got terse response from someone who apparently didn’t understand the issue and simply explained how to use the app, as well as admonishing me to give them a couple of days to contact me. But I don’t hold out much hope for that.

After the bank fiasco, I decided to try to read, which led to my getting drowsy and wanting to take a nap. As I was about to drift off, the doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting a package or company, so I was a little irritable. I opened the door, and there was a maskless guy standing away from the porch, speaking rapid fire German to me. I fixed a stare on him and said, “I don’t speak German.” Ordinarily, I might have made an attempt, but I wasn’t prepared for his visit and was, frankly, not in a good mood.

He stopped and showed me his phone, which indicated that he was there to read the meter. I said, “You need a meter reading?”

He started going off about Strom (energy) and I said, “Yes, I understand. Come in.” In Germany, the meters are inside the house, usually in the basement.

As he entered the house, I was almost knocked over by the gallon of cologne he was wearing. He immediately started fretting about Arran, who is a friendly old dog who just wanted to say hello. He said, “Your dog…”, like I needed to control a vicious animal or something. Noyzi didn’t come down at all. I can only imagine what his reaction would have been to him!

I said, “He won’t hurt you.” I shooed Arran outside and the guy hesitantly moved the dog gate to the basement, with an air of how I should be more accommodating. I was thinking to myself, “If you want me to be dressed and accommodating, let me know when you’re coming next time.” The guy got his reading and was on his way… and by that point, I didn’t want to nap anymore.

So then I started reading the news, and there were the reports about how the CDC is making the public transportation keep mask mandates until May 3. As usual, the annoying virtue signalers were out in droves, with many saying that we should all be masked on planes forevermore. It shouldn’t surprise any of my regular readers that I think the mask mandates on planes need to go… and I feel certain that it’s only a matter of time before they’re history. Why? Because the masks aren’t very effective, and their enforced wear causes people to act like maniacs on planes. I’ve mentioned before that here in Germany, we’ve been wearing the supposedly superior “FFP2 masks” (like N95s) for months. COVID is still rampant, probably because the virus can still invade through the eyes. But good luck getting people to wear safety glasses or eye goggles.

Planes are so uncomfortable anyway, with the tight seats and lack of legroom. Now we all have to wear masks, and everybody sits around hostiley watching everyone else, hall monitor like, counting the minutes to see how long they take to eat and drink. It’s ludicrous, and it makes airplane travel unacceptably unpleasant for me. So, I decided to add a comment voting against the mask rules.

Naturally, I got a laughing reaction and some guy apparently decided to “school me”, asshole style. I didn’t bother to read his comment. Instead, I unsubscribed from the thread, because I knew there would be a slew of people trying to argue with me– people who went to the Google School of Public Health and want to share news articles with provocative headlines that supposedly “prove” their points. Most of them haven’t even bothered to read the articles they share to support their lame assertions that this is the way we should all have to live from now on. I really ain’t got the time or patience for it.

Just because I am not in agreement that masks forever are the way to go, that doesn’t mean I don’t comply with rules. I do follow the rules, but I don’t have to like them. I can comment negatively about them if I want, and that doesn’t obligate me to have a conversation with some stranger who is just going to insult and berate me for not being a “humanitarian” and cheerleading for masks. I also know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, and they aren’t going to change my mind. I just want to have my say, especially since I know a lot of people secretly agree with me, but don’t want to say it out loud, because they don’t want to deal with the mansplainers and virtue signalers, either.

Then Bill came home and we ended up having a rather unpleasant discussion about Ex. He’d like to forget all about her. So would I. But, as we’ve seen from recent events, she still thinks she has a claim on Bill’s family, and she will continue to try to scam his relatives. So someone has to keep an eye on her. Then he told me he thinks I have an attitude of wanting to avenge against her. And, you know what? I do. I am absolutely furious with Ex for everything she’s done over the years, and you bet your ass I want to see her pay for her wrongs. However, she is certainly not worth going to prison over, so I just patiently wait for karma to hit her. Besides, as long as Bill talks to his daughter, he is going to hear about his ex wife. Younger daughter hasn’t recovered from growing up with that narcissistic woman as her mother. So, if he’s going to have a relationship with his daughter, he’s going to be hearing about his ex wife. I told him if he wants me to stop talking to him about her, maybe we should get a divorce. Of course, neither of us wants to get a divorce, but obviously, someone needs to watch Ex so that innocent people can be warned when she decides to engage in fuckery.

I had a nightmare about Ex and former landlady this morning. I dreamt we had to move back to the Stuttgart area and we got a house on post (which don’t really exist, especially for retired people like Bill). It turned out the house was owned by ex landlady. I dreamt that I was preparing to move, and I said to Bill “Well, at least we know what to expect.”

This morning has been marginally better… I read an article on Military Times about how the military lifestyle is preventing some people from starting families. One lady wrote about how she and her husband are dual military and they haven’t reproduced because of the cost of childcare. Some dickhead wrote, “You shouldn’t have children if you can’t afford them.”

That comment pissed me off, because it’s so rude, thoughtless, and dismissive. What if a person could afford a baby when the baby was born, but then couldn’t afford it later, due to a reversal in fortune? So I decided to leave a kind comment for the woman. 20 years ago, when I was in grad school, I worked on a project in South Carolina that addressed how expensive childcare is… and how it’s not always available, like at night, when some people have to work. It sounds like the issue is an even bigger problem now than it was in 2000. Sexist attitudes from numbskulled, perspective challenged military guys who are dismissive and lack empathy, are not helpful. I’ll bet that guy also thinks that women should be forced to birth, but I don’t care enough to look at his profile to find evidence.

And then… the pièce de résistance…. feast your eyes on the status below…

Facepalm…

Folks… if you made it out of high school, you should know full well that female mammals have two openings “down there”. If your dog is “peeing blood”, it has nothing to do with her reproductive system. Mammals don’t give birth from their urethras. Jeez. And humans have periods. Dogs and a lot of other mammals go through “estrus”– they go “into heat”– which is not the same thing as menstruation. I can understand why the guy who posted this felt like he should explain that his dog can’t go into heat. However, I was pretty bowled over that a man who is presumably old enough to work in Germany with the US military doesn’t know that females don’t have periods through their urethras. And dogs don’t have periods at all! I guess I should be glad he’s taking her to a vet. That’s more than I can say for some people. On another note… I’ll bet he needs a flashlight and a compass to “flick the bean”, since he evidently thinks pee and menstrual blood come from the same hole. I mean, I got a D in biology myself, but I know there’s a difference between the urethra and the vagina.

Bill did make me smile before he went to work, though. We were talking about the pretty bits of glass and pottery some clueless lady in Croatia sent Ex. Ex was gushing about it, and calling it “Mermaid Mail”, because she’s obsessed with mermaids. Bill said, “My (older) daughter is going to make something with those pieces and Ex will take credit for it, as usual. But hey– if Ex wants to build a Mermalair (reference to Spongebob Squarepants), who am I to protest? I just wonder if (#3) is Barnacle Boy.”

I had a good laugh at that. Bill can really be hilarious when the mood strikes. He’s helpful, too. In fact, he helpfully took from me the bag of dog shit I had collected from the backyard, and then he went off to work, Bento Box in his (other) hand. He also shared with me this awesome memory from when he defaced a Book of Mormon at a Marriott hotel, years ago.

Bill can be pretty edgy sometimes.

I do know that in spite of everything that irritates me on the daily, I am a blessed woman on many levels. So take that, world. Hopefully, today will be less annoying… but it is Thursday, and that means I have to vacuum (my least favorite chore). So I guess I’ll stop writing and get on with doing that, so I can focus on being less crabby.

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controversies, Duggars, nostalgia, Russia, safety, silliness

I kept my kid rear facing until he was sixteen! Give me a cookie!

Now that the pandemic restrictions are slowly fading away, people are starting to go back to their old favorite soapboxes. I’m starting to see less lecturing about public health guidelines regarding viruses. And, after our glorious minimally COVID intrusive French break, I am feeling a lot better about some things.

I say “some things”, because I’m going to have to call up USAA again and bitch at them for wrongly blocking my debit card due to “suspicious activity”. They unceremoniously put a block on the card last night as I was trying to make a purchase from a vendor I use fairly often. I don’t know if it’s because I had a travel alert because we went away for a few days, or just because… but this happens to me fairly frequently, and I’m at the point now at which I’m thinking it’s time to consider finding a new bank. Perhaps we need one that is more local. I suggested that in 2014, but Bill didn’t agree. Anyway, I have to call them today, and I hate having to do that. It’s a pain in the ass. Edited to add: as I was writing this, I got an automated call from USAA, many hours after the fact, asking me to confirm the activity. Supposedly, my card is open… so maybe I can make my purchases now. I’ll give it a try later, when I can call USAA immediately and get help if it doesn’t work.

Now… on to today’s topic. I follow the Duggar Family News Group on Facebook. It’s often entertaining, and sometimes there are some great books recommended there. I also enjoy a lot of the snark regarding fundie Christian families such as the Duggars. I guess it was a natural progression, since I’m less interested in snarking on Mormons lately, even if I do still intensely dislike Mormonism (but not Mormons, in general).

This morning, someone posted one of their Facebook memories, in light of the recent car accident involving Nathan and Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller. I posted about the accident, myself, a few weeks ago. It seems that Nathan and Nurie, who have a baby boy, did not have their infant in a car seat at all. Nathan was cited.

Naturally, news of the accident generated a lot of chatter from other Duggar Family News followers, especially since Nurie’s parents, Jill and David Rodrigues, both have siblings who are permanently disabled due to serious car accidents. Jill’s sister has been a quadriplegic since 2015, while David’s brother is reportedly a paraplegic. I don’t know much about the specifics involving those accidents, but it would seem to me that, under those circumstances, car safety should be more of a priority in the Rodrigues family than it apparently is. But this post is less about how I think the Rodrigues and Keller families should be more cognizant of safety, than it is about the public ego stroking that goes on any time someone brings up the subject of car seats.

Someone posted that the below image came up in their memories the other day, and they decided to share it with the group:

Yikes!

This is the video referenced in the above image.

Blood flows red on the highway!

Now… I want to make it very clear that I am not against people being as safe as possible when they’re driving. It’s true that I have always hated wearing seatbelts, but I wear them anyway, because Bill turns into Pat Boone if I don’t. But aside from that, I’m not an idiot. I know that seatbelts and car seats save lives. This is not a rant about car seat safety, five point harnesses, or rear facing children for as long as possible… although I’m pretty sure I would have puked a lot if that had been the rule when I was a child. I tend to get motion sickness when I ride backwards. But what’s a little vomiting when your life is at stake, right?

This rant is about what happens when people share these things on social media. It practically turns into a circle jerk of self-congratulations, as poster after poster brags about how strict they are about car safety with their own kids. In fact, looking on YouTube, the same phenomenon is happening among commenters there. So many people are boasting about how safety conscious they are, patting themselves on the back. They are probably at a higher risk of breaking their arms that way, than in a car accident.

Here’s a sampling of the comments on YouTube.

The comments on the Facebook post are very similar to the ones above. Based on the self-congratulatory mood of these responses, one could be led to believe that everybody who’s anybody rear faces their kids, their husbands, their wives, their pets, and would also rear face themselves, if they didn’t have to drive! And these threads almost always devolve into segues about how long to keep kids in booster seats, harnesses, and what not. I’m surprised people haven’t started making their toddlers wear helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads in the car. Below is another screenshot of comments on the YouTube video…

A little dissension creeps into the discussion… and it starts looking like there are a bunch of physics experts weighing in…

Again… I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with being concerned about car safety, especially when children are involved. After all, if Princess Diana had worn a seatbelt on her last car ride, she’d probably still be with us. I just don’t understand why some people feel so compelled to share their personal philosophies about it to the point at which it looks like they want a cookie or something. Do people really need validation about their personal choices that badly? I mean, rear face your eight year old if you can, and you want to do that. Keep that kid in a five point harness. Slap a helmet on them, if it makes you happy. Far be it for me to judge you on your car safety choices. But why tell the whole world about it? And why judge other people for not doing what you’re doing? Especially if they’re following the law?

Remember, though, I write this as someone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s, when kids were allowed to bounce all over the car… and although my parents were always devoted to safety and wore their seatbelts religiously, I was usually only forced to wear them when my dad was in control freak mode. That’s probably why I’ve always hated wearing them. I associated them with my parents– really, more my dad– being mean and controlling, and punishing me for being myself. It wasn’t about them caring about my safety, or the chance that I might become a flying object. It was about my dad being large, and in charge. Seatbelts, in those days were also uncomfortable, especially for short people like me.

It amazes me that I survived my childhood, when so many people smoked, and kids rode bikes without helmets and played outside for hours, their parents not knowing where they were, and not worrying until darkness fell. I’ve mentioned many times before that I grew up in rural Virginia, and it was not uncommon to see some of the kids in my neighborhood riding on the hood of their mother’s car to their trailer home at the end of our dirt road. It was hardcore redneck living, I tell you! I remember being embarrassed when I was forced to wear a seatbelt in the car, circa 1980 or so. It was not the “cool” thing to do in those days. It wasn’t until the late 90s, after I spent two years in Armenia, where NOBODY wore seatbelts, that I finally started to wear them 95% of the time.

Nowadays, just about everybody wears seatbelts. You’re not cool if you don’t wear one. And even people in the back seat wear them, which was definitely not the case even twenty years ago. The pendulum has shifted to the point at which people go batshit nuts when they see anyone not wearing a seatbelt. And if a child isn’t strapped in perfectly… well, prepare for the hammer of judgment to come crashing down. While I’m sure most people mean well, others seem to get off on edifying and judging their neighbors. It must give them a surge of sanctimonious supply to get to instruct someone on the errors of their ways…

Dreadful… and no seatbelts to be seen. I was about twelve when this aired. Blair tells Tootie to put a seatbelt on Natalie at 7:17, only because Natalie is embarrassing her. At 9:09, Natalie smiles as she talks about how she “bit down” on the seatbelt when they were stopped by a cop.

Yesterday, I was watching a truly wretched episode of The Facts of Life that aired during the sixth season. It was called “Cruisin'”, and it involved Blair, Natalie, Tootie, and Jo driving around Peekskill, New York in Blair’s daddy’s Caddy. Blair and Jo are in the front seat, and they’re all listening to God awful remakes of popular songs of decades past, acting like mom and pop to Natalie and Tootie. Neither of them are wearing seatbelts, and Tootie folds the front seat forward, causing Jo to chastise her. In fact, at one point, Blair tells Jo to hit the window locks and Tootie to “slap a seatbelt” on Natalie, when she gets too rambunctious. That was kind of the attitude back then. Then, at 9:09, Jo snarks on how Blair came up with a lame excuse for a cop, claiming Natalie was in labor. Natalie smiles and says, “Did you notice how I bit down on my seatbelt?”

Sometimes, in the 70s and 80s, seatbelts were used as disciplinary devices for the unruly children of the world. It’s a weird mindset, I know… When I see evidence of how we were in the 80s, I suddenly feel really old. It’s amazing how many years have passed, and how much some things have really changed. I’m going to be 50 very soon… and I’m starting to realize that I’m getting old. Like, for instance, I often wake up with pain in my back… and I have to squint to read fine print. It’s hard to believe the women on The Facts of Life are even older than I am!

Our mindsets have really changed in a lot of ways, though. In the 70s and 80s, kids were a lot freer to do things on their own. And yet, it seems like less was expected of us. I see so many kids today being prepared for their lives as adults as if they were already adults. There’s so much pressure, yet so much protection. In my day, we all worried about nukes, especially in the 80s. And now, the threat of nuclear war seems even closer than it ever was. It almost makes wearing a seatbelt seem silly. If Putin hits the red button, we’re all probably doomed, anyway. The constant emphasis on safety could be completely pointless soon… if something isn’t done about that madman.

Here’s another thing that reminds me of how old I am… Bill retired from the Army 8 years ago. His service began during the Cold War, and he was trained to deal with Soviet style combat. He has a degree in International Relations from American University, which he earned before the Soviet Union fell apart. For the second half of his career in the Army, that training became almost obsolete, as the focus was more on the Middle East. Now, the Russians are a huge concern again, and Bill’s old training is becoming relevant again. It may even end up making him more employable. Isn’t that weird?

Well, anyway, I don’t think anyone should feel badly about rear facing their children in the car, if that works for them and makes them feel better… especially if the kid doesn’t mind it, isn’t uncomfortable, and doesn’t puke. I’m surprised more car manufacturers haven’t made cars with passenger seats that rear face by design. But I don’t understand why so many people feel like they have to announce this to the world. I mean, look at this…

I often tease Bill, because he’s very safety conscious. He’s also very health conscious. However, he doesn’t get on my case about never going to the doctor. It’s likely that I won’t die in a car accident… I’ll probably die of an undiagnosed chronic disease. I do know, though, that that’s ultimately my responsibility… I just think it’s funny that he’s so safety conscious. And I think it’s funny that so many people are so fixated on things like car seat safety, when there are risks everywhere that a lot of us ignore or downplay. I think seatbelts and car seats, much like face masks, are things that are easy to see, and easy to judge others on, particularly if they aren’t being used properly. It’s easy to judge someone for not using a seatbelt or car seat, or not wearing a mask. That’s why people do it with wild, reckless abandon!

However, chances are, we are all letting a lot of other things slide that will probably kill us someday. And chances are, someone is silently judging you for that, too… even if you’re still rear facing and harnessing your adolescent in the name of car safety. Yes, that includes every sanctimonious twit who wants to brag about their superior parenting skills and health and safety measures. But I guess there’s no harm in a little validation seeking online. Hell, we all do it. Now pass me another slice of pizza and a beer. Gotta get that cholesterol up so I can take that big trip to the great beyond… safely strapped in, of course.

*** But… this all being said, allow me to go on record that I think it’s crazy that Nathan and Nurie didn’t have their baby in a car seat. I hope they learned a lesson and will do better in the future. I’m not going to send them hate mail, though.

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