controversies, disasters, technology, the environment

The latest viral post…

Yesterday, I noticed a couple of my friends shared the post that serves as today’s featured photo. The quote has been attributed to the author, Marguerite Quantaine. Although I am an avid reader, I’m not familiar with Marguerite Quantaine’s work, so I’m not sure why I would be influenced by her over anyone else. Nevertheless, she (or her social media “person”) makes a pretty good point about individual choices most of us have the power to make as the costs of gas and other products rise. I saw her post being shared by different people on my friends list, who had also seen it shared by their own friends. In reading the comments on her original post, I noticed that Quantaine’s comments were actually made by a “cyber-liaison”, as Marguerite herself has been “indisposed” since October 2021.

However, while I agree with Quantaine’s statement about what we can do to mitigate high gas prices, I’m not so sure the higher gas prices can only be attributed to the war in Ukraine, at least not in the United States. Gas in the US mostly comes from sources other than Russia. Now, here in the European Union, it’s a different story. A lot more of the gas supply comes from Russia. But people over here are used to paying a lot for gas. That’s not to say they like to pay so much for gas, but at least there’s a trade off. For instance, generally speaking, it costs much less over here to get medical treatment than it does in the United States.

I clicked on one the posts that was shared by someone who apparently shared from Marguerite Quantaine’s page. There were a few dozen comments there. The very first one came from a man who is clearly a conservative voter. I just went back to the original post to re-read what the guy wrote, only to find that the post was apparently “cleaned up”. The “hater” comments were deleted. So I decided to visit Quantaine’s page, to see if there were any similar comments. There were, but none that made the statement that inspired me to write this post today. I’m going to have to rely on my memory. Fortunately, my memory is still pretty awesome, in spite of my wine habit.

So this guy, who appeared to be a “boomer”, basically wrote that all he cares about is being able to buy affordable gas. And he thinks that we should just exploit all of the resources we have in the United States. Another poster shamed him, reminding him that fracking and drilling will ruin what little is left of the natural beauty in our environment. The guy came back and wrote that the damage would be “minimal”, and he would be able to run his car.

I had a look at the guy’s profile picture and noticed that he appeared to have a family. There was a woman with him who appeared to be his age, and several attractive adults and kids. It looked like he loves his family very much. Unfortunately, the first thought that came into my mind, was that he must not actually love them that much, if he’s not concerned about the state of the environment and our dependence on fossil fuels. He’s only concerned about what’s happening right now. He probably won’t be around for that much longer, so the lasting damage to the environment likely won’t affect him too much. But it will definitely affect those grandchildren of his. He seems to love his grandchildren, yet he’s not concerned about what lies ahead for them.

I’m going to turn 50 in June. As winter is ending here in Germany, I’ve thought a lot about how different the climate is in 2022 compared to what it was like in the 80s, when I was a teenager. I remember back in the 80s, some people were concerned about the environment. I even remember there was a 1989 episode on this topic on the hit NBC sitcom, Family Ties. In the episode, “Rain Forests Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, the character, Jennifer (Tina Yothers), is studying ecology in school and gets fixated on making changes that would protect the environment. She encourages her family to adopt more Earth friendly lifestyle choices, to the point of being very annoying. But ultimately, she gets very depressed and has to see a counselor. I watched that episode maybe a year or two ago, and remembered how Jennifer’s family tried to console her. Now, 33 years later, that episode seems very prescient.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a picture an acquaintance posted on Facebook of her little daughter. The girl was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It’s not even mid March yet. I remember when I was a child, March was still a pretty cold month, even in Virginia. I asked her what the temperatures were in North Carolina, where they now live. She said it was in the 80s.

Here in Germany, I’ve noticed there’s less snow that there was even fifteen years ago. The winter in Wiesbaden was rainy and chilly, but not particularly cold. When we lived here the first time, I would not have dared go outside with bare feet in the winter. I could and did go out barefoot sometimes over this past winter. Granted, I don’t think Wiesbaden gets as much snow as Stuttgart gets, since it’s not as elevated. But I would have expected at least one good snow in which there wasn’t immediate melting. We really didn’t get any of that this year… or since we’ve been here. I’m pretty sure this is global warming in action. The guy who made that comment about not caring about anything but gas prices probably denies it exists. But how else can we explain why the weather has been so much warmer in recent years?

I do understand that Quantaine’s suggestions in her viral Facebook post might not be feasible for everyone. I’ve had the experience of living in parts of the United States where public transportation is scarce. I’ve worked at jobs that required lengthy commutes. Moreover, I am not a fan of “preachy” Facebook posts in the form of memes that can be passed around like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. I guess it just shocks me that so many people are self-centered to the point at which they brazenly state it outright. The guy who was enthusiastically responding in that post really came off as a selfish asshole. And yet, it’s easy to see that he’s a much beloved person, with many family members who evidently appreciate him.

In another example, I noticed a thread by a friend who is also former fellow Epinions writer. This person has a lot of people on his friends list that are no longer on mine, for whatever reason. He posted a statement about how the United States can be more energy independent by encouraging people to buy fuel efficient vehicles and vote for using more renewable resources. He got a lot of responses from other former Epinions members. One response came from a guy I used to have a lot more respect for than I do today. This guy is one of those “me and mine” types– as in, “I’ve got mine, and that’s all that matters to me.” I unfriended him several years ago after his relentless pushing of his conservative views became too obnoxious on my page. This guy had a habit of shaming me for being pro-choice or having opinions that were progressive. I used to refer to him as “Papa Smurf”, because he often tried to act like everyone’s daddy and lecture them when their views didn’t align with his. It got to be very annoying. In fact, I believe my parting words to him were, “Fuck off, Phil.”

Anyway, I noticed that Papa Smurf posted a response to my friend’s suggestion that everyone should use more Earth sustaining vehicles and adopt practices that preserve the environment. Below are his comments, which I think kind of echo the entitled “fuck you all” attitude I noticed the “boomer” stranger had shared on Marguerite Quantaine’s post.

We used to have a RAV4 ourselves. It was a good car, and we kept it for 13 years. But I wouldn’t say it was particularly fuel efficient.

The above comment isn’t as bad as others I’ve seen him make. Like I said, there was a time when I didn’t see the conservative “boomer” side to his personality. I liked him fine when we could just talk about travel. I got a first inkling that he was kind of a jerk when we happened to be at an Epinions social event and he was openly talking about undertipping the wait staff because he had to wait for his dinner. Then years later, we’d clash on Facebook when I would be snarky and “tasteless” (in his opinion) in my comments about certain current events and political ideals. He would chastise me on my own page, which is a “no no”. You ain’t my daddy, Papa Smurf.

Anyway… to me it’s just a reflection of a tragic attitude some people have regarding the environment. They don’t seem too concerned about how today’s practices and policies might be paid for by tomorrow’s adults. Once again, I’m glad I didn’t manage to have children. I look at my husband’s daughter’s adorable son and daughter, and think about the little boy who will soon join them. I worry about what it might be like for them… and I’m glad my life is likely at least halfway over. This war in Ukraine, coupled with the coronavirus, are probably going to change life as we know it… and likely not for the better. Not unless we work together to come up with ways to mitigate the damages done. I think humans are technically capable of adapting our practices for the better… but unfortunately, selfishness and greed often get in the way.

I’ve noticed that electric cars are increasingly popular in Europe. There are a lot of places where one can plug in their vehicles. When we bought our Volvo in 2019, we were told that very soon, Volvo will stop making gas powered cars. I have been giving some serious thought to making my next car a hybrid or an electric. But I rarely drive much anymore, anyway. Unfortunately, I think it will take more time for electric cars to catch on in the United States. They are expensive, and it’s a concept that may be hard for some people to embrace. People tend to like to stick with what they know. For instance, it took me a long time to switch from Windows to a Mac. 😉

I do think, though, that if our species is to survive in relative comfort, we’re going to have to make some changes. And while I don’t think the higher gas prices are entirely caused by the war in Ukraine (the pandemic also contributed), I do agree that at this point, those of us who aren’t in Ukraine are lucky… for now. However, I also think that this thing could actually turn into yet another global event very soon if something lasting is not done about Putin. He’s gone much further than people thought he would… perhaps he sees this stunt as a way to ride out of this world in a blaze of glory. Frankly, I wouldn’t be averse to that… as long as he makes an exit from the world stage soon.

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law, LDS, money, travel

Crystal Symphony cruise ends on a sad note…

The featured photo is one I took from a hotel room in Rostock, in northeastern Germany.

Thanks to the pandemic, cruising is about the last way Bill and I want to travel right now. However, prior to 2020, Bill and I did enjoy the occasional vacation on the high seas, and we definitely prefer the luxury lines. We haven’t yet had the chance to try out too many of them yet… mainly because we were won over by the two we have tried– SeaDream Yacht Club and Hebridean Island Cruises.

I have eyed Crystal Cruises on and off over the years, having heard that it offers a wonderful experience with six star service, excellent food, and all inclusive amenities. Crystal Symphony can carry up to 848 guests, but passengers enjoy a crew ratio of one per every 1.7 guests. It certainly looked enticing to me, even though we are more attracted to smaller ships. But, life happened, and we never got the chance to pull the trigger on one of Crystal’s dreamy seafaring excursions.

This morning, I woke to the news that a U.S. judge ordered the Crystal Symphony seized because the company has been sued by Peninsula Petroleum Far East over unpaid fuel bills– to the tune of $4.6 million! The fuel company filed their lawsuit in a South Florida federal court on Wednesday of last week, and the judge issued the order to seize the ship on Thursday.

A news story about this incident.

Crystal Symphony, which had embarked on a two week voyage on January 8, was on its way back to Miami, where it was due in port on Saturday. If the ship had continued to Miami, or any other U.S. waters, it would have been seized by the authorities. According to the above news report, Peninsula Petroleum wants the ship sold so it can recoup some of its expenses.

At the last minute, the ship changed course to Bimini, in the Bahamas. There, the passengers were put on a decidedly less luxurious ferry to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Making matters worse is that the weather was inclement, and apparently some passengers had motion sickness. That last bit I got from a thread on Cruise Critic’s message boards. Someone who was on the cruise had been entertaining everyone with daily posts, right up until the cruise had its unplanned ending in a different country.

A video about Crystal Symphony.

I probably would have been interested in this story in any case, but as I was reading about the ultra luxe Crystal Symphony, I noticed that a 51 year old man named Steven Fales was interviewed for the story. The New York Times described him as an actor and a playwright, but I immediately recognized the name because about fifteen years ago, he wrote a book called Confessions of a Mormon Boy: Behind the Scenes of the off-Broadway Hit. I bought and read that book in 2008, when I was still kind of fascinated by Mormonism and ex Mormons… again, thanks to Ex and her unilateral decision that she and her most recent two husbands would convert, and her children would be raised LDS.

In 2008, I was still pretty thick in my bewilderment and disgust for the way Mormonism is so often used as a tool to alienate and divide families. Now before anyone comes at me in the comments, let me state that my mind has somewhat changed about the LDS church since 2008. I no longer despise it as much as I used to. I still don’t like highly controlling religions, but I don’t think the LDS church is among the worst there are. Like, I don’t think mainstream Mormons are as bad as fundamentalist Baptists. Moreover, I don’t really care what someone’s personal religious beliefs are, as long as they don’t use their beliefs to control other people. I never have cared about that– I just hated that Bill’s decision not to be Mormon was one of the many excuses Ex had for why he was deemed “unfit” to be a dad to his daughters.

Anyway, back in 2008 and the years around that time– the blissful pre-pandemic days of yore– I was reading a lot of what I referred to as “exmo lit”. I wrote many reviews of the books by ex Mormons I read during that period, many of which you can find reposted in this blog. I no longer read much about Mormonism, since my interests have evolved. But I do remember Steven Fales, and how entertaining I found his book. Notably, Fales was also married to fellow author, Emily Pearson, daughter of Carol Lynn and Gerald Pearson.

Carol Lynn Pearson is a much celebrated LDS poet and author who wrote a very moving book called Goodbye, I Love You, which was about her relationship with Emily’s father, Gerald, who was gay. Although Carol Lynn never stopped loving Gerald, they did divorce. Sadly, Gerald eventually contracted AIDS in the 1980s and died with Carol Lynn at his side. Emily Pearson wrote Dancing With Crazy, which I also read and reviewed in 2012. As far as I know, Carol Lynn Pearson remains a faithful and active LDS church member, while Emily Pearson and Steven Fales left the church.

Of course, I don’t actually know if the Steven Fales in the news story is the same one whose book I read, but my guess is that the person is one and the same, since the Fales I’m thinking of is also 51 years old, and an actor and playwright. If there are two 51 year old Steven Fales who act and write plays, I will gladly stand corrected.

As I was reading the story about this cruise– somewhat happily realizing that, for once, it wasn’t a story about cruisers coming down with COVID-19 en masse– I was reminded, once again, about how luxury cruises can unexpectedly put someone in contact with a person they might never otherwise meet. Bill and I have rubbed elbows with a number of interesting people on cruises. On the other hand, we’ve also met people like “Large Marge”. Suffice to say, she’s someone I hope not to run into again. What’s funny is, on our last cruise, I mentioned her to the bartender and he knew exactly who I was talking about and said she’d just been onboard the ship two weeks prior to our voyage.

I read one of several Cruise Critic threads about this unfortunate turn of events. A poster who had been on the voyage wrote about how the crew bravely kept smiling, even though they didn’t know if they would still have jobs. I have met some truly amazing crew members on the cruises I’ve been on. Many of them come from countries where it’s hard to make a good living. They are able to help support their families back home with the money they make on cruises, taking care of the well-heeled, often without ever revealing the stresses of having to deal with a potentially very demanding clientele.

According to Fales:

“That crew treated us like royalty through the tears of losing their jobs,” he said. “They’re all just heartbroken, and it was just devastating.”

As if it’s not enough that cruise ship crews are, no doubt, working harder than ever in these pandemic times, now this has happened. It really doesn’t look good for Crystal, or the industry as a whole.

As for Bill and me, I think our days of cruising are over for the time being. I don’t want to cruise until the COVID-19 crisis has been mitigated more. It’s too risky on so many levels– from financial to health. And now, it appears that even the cruise lines that cater to the wealthier segment of society is not exempt from falling into a crisis. My heart goes out to the hard working crew, who are now faced with uncertain immediate futures. And, while I think anyone who is fortunate enough to be able to afford a Crystal cruise is doing alright, I feel somewhat saddened for those whose vacations might not have ended happily in the wake of this development– or those who have booked cruises and may now be wondering if they just lost thousands of dollars or euros, thanks to this financial fiasco.

I do hope that Crystal can settle this mess satisfactorily and eventually resume operations. I know the line has many fans. I’d hate to see it go away.

Below are links to the books written by Carol Lynn Pearson, Emily Pearson, and Steven Fales. If you purchase through those links, I will get a small commission from Amazon.com, as I am an Amazon Associate. I recommend all three books, but if you choose just one, I would recommend reading Goodbye, I Love You first.

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true crime

Repost: I actually DO know Erin McCay George…

A follow up to my Prison post, when I realized why Erin George had seemed so familar to me. This post originally appeared March 7, 2013 and attracted a lot of comments, as well as traffic.

Yesterday’s post about prison intrigued me so much that I started digging for more information about Erin McCay George.  I found evidence that though she is a few years older than I am, Erin George was at Longwood at the same time I was.  I put out a shout out on Facebook and one of my friends from that era piped up and said Erin was a history major and had been involved in student government.

I asked my friend if she knew where Erin was these days.  Her response was, “My guess?  Prison.”

I thought maybe my friend was aware that Erin George had murdered her husband.  But actually, my friend, who worked with the student government at the time, related a story about how back in the 90s, while editor of our student newspaper, The Rotunda, Erin had allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars given to the paper by the student government association.  The reason?  She had a boyfriend in England…  evidently the very same boyfriend she later married and then murdered for $700,000.  I’m guessing that’s why she apparently never graduated from Longwood.  She would have been kicked out for stealing.  Longwood has a strict honor code.  My friend later told me that Erin left the country while the embezzlement was being investigated.  She also told me that Erin tried to blame the other editor, even when she was caught red-handed.

I did more digging and found a newspaper article from The Free Lance-Star, a newspaper in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  It was a wedding announcement, indicating that she married James George on March 26, 1994.  That would have been about the right time frame.  Their marriage ended on May 24, 2001, when Erin shot her husband in the head in their front yard, depriving their three kids of their father forever.     

Here’s the freaky part.  My husband and I moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia on May 10, 2002.  Erin McCay George was from Fredericksburg and committed her crime in nearby Stafford County.  The trial was going on while I was living in the area and I never knew about it at the time. 

Learning about this other stuff that went on during our college days kind of makes me realize that a lot of times, people who are criminals leave signs to where they’re headed.  Back in the 90s, what Erin McCay George did was relatively small potatoes.  Yes, she supposedly stole thousands of dollars, but she hadn’t taken a life.  But what she did led to a much bigger story.  She stole from the newspaper to finance her relationship with her English boyfriend.  While editor of The Rotunda, she violated Longwood professors’ privacy by publishing their salaries in the paper.  It caused a huge furore.  She gave off signs that she was a troublemaker even back then. 

I’m guessing that Erin McCay George probably has more than a touch of narcissistic personality disorder. In fact, she may even be a sociopath. The attitude that she wants what she wants when she wants it is pervasive. She wanted her boyfriend in England? She stole money to get him. She wanted money from a life insurance policy? She killed her husband in an attempt to get it, forging his signature on life insurance documents. All the while, she comes across as intelligent and talented, perhaps even sympathetic. She certainly does have a talent for writing. I gave her book five stars, despite the fact that I think she’s morally bankrupt.

Ever since I got involved with my husband, I’ve paid a lot more attention to dangerous women.  Erin McCay George is definitely a dangerous woman and is where she belongs.  It’s a shame.  She could have been an outstanding member of society if only she weren’t a criminal at heart.  

I don’t usually share the original comments from my reposts, but I will in this case, since this is such a fascinating post.

9 comments:

  1. AlexisARMarch 8, 2013 at 8:40 AM I attend a world-renowned party school, and even we don’t have anything this exciting going on, not that i would know about it if we did.
  2. knottyMarch 8, 2013 at 1:43 PM Well, remember, I was in college 20 years ago (seems very hard to fathom that). I’m just finding out about all of this right now. I’m kind of surprised this didn’t get more press.

    Going to a small school has its privileges. It makes it easier to meet people. My college was particularly close-knit and friendly, so a lot of the people I knew back then are just as friendly on Facebook. 
  3. Brenda Campbell-HarrisJune 30, 2013 at 8:48 AM OMG….I knew Erin while I was at Longwood College. She was the editor and I was a part time journalist. She always talked about her boyfriend in England. I was searching the internet for years finding out what happened to her, and all I can say is that I am SHOCKED. Who would ever know that would ever happened. I guess now I now where she is. OMG…that is all I can say. Even have old photos of a group of us that used to hang out. 
    1. knottyJune 30, 2013 at 1:27 PM Hi Brenda. If you were at Longwood during that era, you were there when I was, too.  

      If you are still interested, I would recommend getting ahold of Erin’s book. It’s intriguing reading, though she doesn’t really write much about her crime. I get the sense that she still claims innocence. The book is more about what it’s like to be in prison. I sure didn’t know it was her when I read it the first time and was really shocked when I figured it out later.  

      Like I said, I didn’t know Erin personally, I was on the Rotunda staff very briefly, back when Brad Owen was editor (and I hear that he and Erin dated, too). I do remember hearing about her shenanigans quite a lot at the time, though… especially the drama about publishing the professors’ salaries.
  4. Beverley HughesJanuary 14, 2015 at 9:13 PM Hi Knotty. I’m from England and find your thread out of pure curiosity over the outcome of the shooting having recently acquired the True crime bug listening to Serial!
    It took me a while to find the details and I’m grateful to you for your background on it. You see, I’m from England and was working with a member of James George’s family at the time of the incident. It was, as you can imagine, a dreadful shock to his family – to grasp the details all the while being 3000 miles away, their pain was unimaginable. My colleague ultimately took the children (to which you refer) whilst caring for their own young ones, again something that changed their lives for ever.
    I have since lost touch as jobs moved on but I often think of them and how it all turned out. I’m glad she was incarcerated and from your background information, it sounds as though she was manipulative, twisted and possibly as you suggest, psychopathic ( plenty of books around on that topic).
    I don’t think I could bring myself to buy her book, knowing the family affected; I’d be interested to know where the profits go?
    I know I’m posting this way after you wrote up your piece but I hope you get to see this and can see the power of the Internet in linking all this info together. It amazes me now how long www has been around that things that seem like a lifetime ago, can now be traced with a few clicks.
    I have no other info that I could reasonably publish without an invasion of someone’s privacy – just thought I’d add to your piece.



    1. knottyJanuary 15, 2015 at 8:08 AM Hi Beverley!

      I look for new comments every day, so yes, they all get read!  

      How interesting to have a perspective from England. It really does go to show you how one person’s actions can have multiple ripple effects. Of course, when the action is murder, it only makes sense that the ripple effects would extend so far.

      I can only imagine how awful it was for James George’s family when he was killed, and especially the children. If you read this blog, you may have some idea why true crime, especially involving female perpetrators, is a special interest of mine. My husband was once married to a woman who, I think, could be capable of committing a serious crime if someone pushed her hard enough. Fortunately, I don’t think she’s quite as sociopathic as Erin seems to be.  

      I thought Erin’s book was interesting from the standpoint that she’s a prisoner in my home state. When I bought it, I didn’t remember who she was. It wasn’t until I started realizing that we were in college at the same place and at the same time that I started putting the pieces together. But yes, I do wonder where the profits from her book go. She is a talented writer.  

      This post gets a lot of hits from around the world. I think one of the other commenters was from Australia. Ripple effects have definitely scattered far and wide on this case.  

      I appreciate your comments!
  5. Gio GeorgeApril 3, 2015 at 8:19 PM Hello,
    It is difficult to see these things on the internet, of course I know an incident of this magnitude could never be private and it was inevitably going to appear on the web, however I have never wanted to search it up until now. It is interesting to see the different perspectives from other people who actually knew her during her early life. I am sure you will know her better than I ever will, as you had the opportunity to.

    On average one in four american adults suffer from mental illnesses , however I know this is no excuse for her behavior. What she did to James George her husband, a loving father, was unforgivable. Her actions had devastating effects on their family, especially their three children.
    I want to thank you for widening my knowledge on this subject.
    1. knottyApril 4, 2015 at 9:05 AM Hi Gio,

      I didn’t actually know Erin well. I have some friends who did know her through working on the newspaper or in classes. But I only knew who she was because she was editor of the paper at our college.

      You’re right that there is no excuse for what she did and, of course, I have no way of knowing if my speculation about why she committed her crimes has any validity. I can only guess based on the pattern of her actions that she is either narcissistic or sociopathic. For the unaware, she may seem like a perfectly nice, normal person. She does have writing talent, which may have been the source for what seems to me to be narcissistic tendencies.  

      If you haven’t done so already, I would recommend reading up on narcissistic personality disorder. While it can be painful reading for someone who is directly affected by a narcissist, it can also offer some clarity and maybe even a few answers.  
    2. Rebecca WeymouthMay 7, 2016 at 7:12 PM Gio, I knew Erin, spent two years together. While I cannot attest to her mental capacity, I know she deeply loves her children. I would lie awake on nights to the sound of muffled cries on birthdays, holidays or nights that the pain was to bad to hold in. Whether these tears were of guilt and remorse or an aching of the heart or both, I don’t know. But I do know this, she loves her children and spoke so fondly of them and how she would give her own life for just a moment to hold them.
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