Biden, ethics, healthcare, law, obits

Texas and Maryland… diametrically opposed on the issue of abortion…

It’s Monday morning, and it’s already been an interesting day. First, I woke up to some sad news. My cousin’s beautiful wife, Chris, passed away. I knew she had been sick, and last year, there were updates on Facebook about her cancer journey. As I don’t live in the United States and am not that close to most of my family members, I didn’t know that her health had declined. Her daughter posted a beautiful message… and in just a few days, that same daughter will be getting married. She wrote that her mother will have the “best” seat at the wedding. I’m sure that brings her some comfort during this sad time.

My cousin and his family are mostly conservative Christians. I’m pretty certain that they are pro-life, when it comes to the abortion debate. It always fascinates when I think about how we share family, but turn out so differently. I used to be more conservative than I am now, but I have always felt the decision to be pregnant is a personal one. I have never been pregnant, but if I ever did get pregnant, I doubt I would choose to have an abortion. But I can’t say that I never would, because I can think of a lot of reasons why someone would make that choice– reasons that are no one else’s business.

In my case, I would probably choose abortion if I got raped, or if I had some kind of medical issue that made being pregnant especially dangerous. I would also consider abortion if the developing fetus had a condition that would make being born painful or cruel. And, having worked in maternal and child health, and having briefly done work with people who weren’t ready to be parents, I can see why abortion might be a wise choice for some. But… I can also see why some people are against abortion, and why some would not consider it under any circumstances. I just think this should be a personal and private choice. Fortunately, I am now at the end of my fertile time… not quite menopausal, but Aunt Flow is visiting a lot less often these days. It’s been nice not to have her around so often.

I am relieved that Mr. Biden’s Supreme Court Justice pick, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson, has been confirmed to the Supreme Court and will be taking Justice Stephen Breyer’s place this summer, when he retires. I know the liberals are still a minority in the Supreme Court, but at least there’s one more vote that might make protecting women’s health more likely. I believe that abortion is women’s healthcare– especially when her mental or physical health is at stake due to pregnancy.

Within the last twelve hours, I read a couple of interesting news stories about abortion in two states. Yesterday, Gocha Allen Ramirez, the district attorney in Starr County, Texas, declined to prosecute 26 year old Lizelle Herrera, a woman who had been charged with murder over a self-induced abortion. Ms. Herrera was released from jail on a $500,000 bond, having spent three days locked up after it was discovered that she had performed an abortion on herself. Although Texas has some of the most restrictive and, frankly, brutal anti-abortion laws in the country, state law is very clear that pregnant people who get abortions cannot be criminally prosecuted. Instead, abortion providers are prosecuted. Texas also passed a law last September that allows private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who aids someone in getting an abortion. Texas physicians are also forbidden from giving abortion-inducing medication to any pregnant person who is more than seven weeks along.

I suppose one could argue that Ms. Herrera was an “abortion provider”, having given herself an abortion. But, as a pregnant person, she also couldn’t be prosecuted. I’m sure some of the backwards, women-hating lawmakers in Texas will do what they can to fix this oversight. They’d rather put young people like Lizelle Herrera in prison for practicing self-determination, instead of helping them avoid unintended pregnancies. They’d rather waste time and money in court over denying women the right to make decisions for their own healthcare and family planning than make having and raising children more affordable and feasible. The mind boggles.

Now Maryland, on the other hand, is showing a lot more compassion and common sense regarding the abortion issue. In that state, lawmakers have just passed a new law that, from July 1, allows nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and trained physician assistants to perform abortions. It will also require most insurance providers in the state to cover the cost of an abortion, at no cost to the resident, and directs the state to invest $3.5 million a year into abortion-care training. It should be noted that Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, vetoed this bill. However, Mr. Hogan’s veto was overruled by the House of Delegates, with a vote of 90 to 46. The State Senate voted 29 to 15 in favor of the new law.

I noticed a lot of people were reacting to this news. One woman wrote an angry comment about how this was a “vile” law. She was asked by many other people how many babies she’s adopted. Answer? None, of course. But she still thinks she should get to have an opinion about other people’s reproductive choices. Many folks, like me, think this is very good news. Others are angry about it. In the article I linked, there was this quote from Laura Bogley, the director of legislation for Maryland Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization:

“This is an example of what happens when you have a partisan monopoly in a state legislature.” She added, “The monopoly breeds extremism.”

Extremism? Has Ms. Bogley noticed Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court? Does she not see how Trump tried to stack the court with conservatives so that Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land since 1973, could be overturned? Does Ms. Bogley not understand that sometimes women get abortions for heartbreaking, tragic, health related reasons that should remain private and personal? It’s not always heartless, careless, “slutty” women who are seeking abortions. In fact, I would venture to guess that the vast majority who seek abortions do not fit that stereotype.

I might be more willing to support the pro-life viewpoint if we had better access to affordable birth control, healthcare, and childcare in the United States. But, the fact remains, that quality childcare remains extremely expensive and difficult to access for many people. And even if a person doesn’t have children, it’s very expensive to pay for healthcare, especially if one doesn’t have health insurance. Health insurance is also very expensive for many people. Even though former President Obama pushed through the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare), a lot of people remain uninsured. This is a problem that is going to take some time to fix… and it’s going to require cooperation from our esteemed elected officials. Sadly, too many of them are focused on blocking and foiling each other’s efforts to get laws passed or overturned, than they are in making life easier and more humane for everyone.

Still… I am surprised that Maryland is now among 15 states that is making abortion more accessible, instead of trying to ban it. I would much rather people avoid unintended pregnancies whenever possible, but when a situation comes up that threatens a person’s health– mental or physical– I think they should have the right to determine whether or not they wish to be pregnant. And making that decision should be entirely up to the person who has to live with the physical, mental, and emotional aftermath of being pregnant.

Maybe when we’re done with our Germany stint, Bill and I should think about moving to Maryland. It sounds like they’re heading in a good direction. I’ll be glad to give up my Texas driver’s license, either way. That state has gone straight to Crazy Town.

As for my cousin and his daughters, I wish them so much peace after their tremendous loss. Chris was a wonderful woman, and I know she was much beloved by many people. I know she was a woman of great Christian faith, so I suspect she’s in Heaven with her sister-in-law, my cousin Karen, who died in 2020, and my Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Bob, who have been with the angels for awhile now. I’m sure there’s plenty of room at the table for Chris at the Heavenly party.

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condescending twatbags, politics, rants, religion, wingnuts

The Transformed Wife is worried sick about Biden’s Supreme Court pick…

As a rule, I don’t follow The Transformed Wife, aka Lori Alexander, working woman turned 50s era evangelical housewife guru. I find her views short-sighted, offensive, incredibly stupid, and infuriating. However, someone in the Duggar Family News group shared news of her most recent post, and that led me to take a look at it myself. The poster in the Duggar group had taken someone following Lori’s page to task over misinterpreting an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Since I am, myself, a fan of Little House, I took notice of that post, which was really about how worried Lori is about Joe Biden’s choice of a replacement justice for the Supreme Court when Justice Stephen Breyer retires this summer. Below is a screenshot of Lori’s post:

Christ, she’s dumb!

I wish Lori and her ilk had more concern for people who have already been born. However, I understand that the unborn make for a convenient cause, since they can’t be disloyal. And, on the surface of it, who supports “murder”? People like Lori use loaded legal terms like “murder” to describe abortion, but they don’t seem to have the same concern for children who have already been born and don’t have the basic necessities of life. They preach about Democrats being “socialists” who don’t care about unborn babies, but then they vote in selfish, incompetent, narcissistic asshats like Donald Trump, who do everything they can to penalize people for being poor, which makes it much harder for babies and children to thrive.

I look at the world today, and all of the many problems we have… the many people who suffer because they don’t have what they need, and have no means of getting what they need. Why do we need more people in the world, competing for scarce resources? Why should we encourage people who aren’t ready or don’t want to be parents to reproduce? Why should we shame people who can’t or won’t have children? According to Lori, my whole life has been wrong, since I don’t have any babies to nurture. It’s not because I didn’t want them. That’s just how life worked out for me.

Then I look at Lori’s followers, many of whom are just nuts. Below is the screenshot of the discussion about Little House on the Prairie— seriously? Does the world need more people who think like this?

Good God.
God forbid some women would rather not spend their lives on their backs with their legs spread for guys like Nathan…

I was feeling crappy and unfulfilled yesterday, but felt better when I woke up this morning. Then I saw Lori’s proclamation that my life should have been spent pumping out babies who would grow up coping with COVID-19 and climate change, among many other depressing issues to deal with in life. I used to want to have children, but now I’m glad I didn’t have them, because things just keep getting more and more extreme and weird, with people like Lori promoting their anti-woman platforms to the masses.

Before anyone points this out to me, I realize that by writing about this, I’m helping to expand Lori’s platform. But, as I mentioned above, I don’t follow Lori at all, except for when people who do follow her point out her more egregiously ridiculous statements on life. And then I see that there are people out there who take her seriously. She has thousands of followers, and most of them aren’t there to snark on her nonsense.

Do we really need to add to the collective idiocy of this group by having more babies?

And on and on it goes… and this is just ONE of her posts.

Actually, sometimes people have abortions for reasons besides “fornication”, that are no one else’s business but theirs. I don’t see a lot of these conservative and religious types clamoring for more affordable healthcare and facilities for the elderly and disabled that provide safe, competent, and humane treatment for those deemed a “drain on the system”.

The stupid hurts. It really does. Gosh, she’s just so dumb.

A Black woman wrote the first post. She seems concerned that Biden will likely choose someone like her to take Breyer’s spot. Then she writes about how Planned Parenthood is a “racist organization” that commits murder.

No matter who Joe Biden chooses, the Republicans will do what they can to delay the new Supreme Court Justice from being confirmed until midterm elections. It doesn’t matter that Trump pushed two wholly terrifying and inappropriate people into the Supreme Court so that Roe v Wade might be quashed. It doesn’t matter that Amy Coney Barrett took a seat just weeks before the 2020 presidential election and was an actual “handmaid” before she was a judge. God forbid progressive people have a voice in the Supreme Court instead of people who want to pull us back to the 15th century. It doesn’t matter that Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault and heavy drinking during his youth. Seems to me that the Supreme Court should be made up of people who are above reproach, and with the number of Americans who have law degrees, there ought to be qualified people who fit the bill better than Trump’s choices. Joe Biden better have the chance to find someone to balance out Trump’s disastrous picks.

In spite of my complaints, I’m glad Lori has the right to speak her mind, even if I think her mind is completely fucked and her opinions are frightening. But it disturbs me that so many people, male and female, seem to agree with her. Am I really an outlier? Did our mothers and grandmothers really fight all those years for freedom, just so Lori and her followers can demand that women get back into the kitchen and on their backs with their legs spread for impregnation? It just boggles the mind. She really should read up on Romania in the 70s, 80s, and 90s… you want to talk about sad? That’s pretty sad… and that was a “socialist” state run by a madman who wanted women to have babies instead of living fulfilling lives.

Not everyone wants to be a mother (or father). Not everyone should be a mother (or a father). And many of us would rather not live in a culture dominated by religion. It seems to me that if that’s what Lori wants, there are places around the world where she can go that route. I’ve written about some of the cults that promote her views. Why doesn’t she join one of them and shut up? After all, she’s a woman, and women don’t have the right to work, have an opinion, or express themselves. They were put on the earth to breed. /sarcasm

What I really need is an educational Facebook post, like this one… I think I learned more from the squirrel than Lori Alexander’s feed.

Meh… after yesterday’s angry post, I can barely summon the ire to write about The Transformed Wife today. I’m feeling kind of apathetic and over it all. It didn’t help that Howard Hesseman, aka Dr. Johnny Fever of WKRP in Cincinnati died a couple of days ago. I loved that show when I was a kid. It was genuinely funny, and had great music, and was so well-written that it stands up even forty years since its last episode aired. Granted, Howard Hesseman was 81 years old, so he had a good run. We all have to die someday. But still, I genuinely liked him, so it sucks that he’s gone. I liked him in Police Academy 2, and on Head of the Class, too. May he rest in eternal peace.

Bill will be gone in a few hours, and hopefully I’ll see him Friday. Maybe I’ll do something worthwhile this week. Maybe the sun will even come out long enough to dry out the backyard and I can work on destroying the rest of the tree that fell over a few weeks ago before it kills the grass. I’m ready for spring. If I make it to spring…

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LDS, music, psychology, songs, videos, YouTube

Putting a face to the voice…

Last week, when I got the news that the great 60s singer Ronnie Spector had died, I decided to try one of her most famous songs. Mind you, I was not one of Ronnie’s biggest fans. I was born in 1972, which was after she was really famous. I didn’t know who she was until 1986 or so, when she and the late Eddie Money had a hit song called “Take Me Home Tonight”. I did like some of Eddie Money’s music, although I wasn’t one of his biggest fans, either. I also got really tired of “Take Me Home Tonight” when it was a hit. It was forever on the radio, and back then, we didn’t have streaming services.

The following year, the movie Dirty Dancing was released, and Ronnie Spector’s big hit, “Be My Baby” was made popular again. I thought it was a nice song, but never noticed how truly joyful it was until last week, when I got it in my head to sing it. So I sang it, and paired it with a video of Noyzi watching fox hunting videos with me on YouTube. I always do that. I don’t like to be on camera. Then I uploaded the video to YouTube.

I don’t share my music videos much, but sometimes I will put a link on the Recovery from Mormonism page. There are some good musicians that hang out there, plus I’ve found that a lot of the posters have really good taste in music. I’ve found several really great artists based on recommendations on RfM. I’ve also found some good books there.

So some people clicked the link and I got some very nice comments. I also got a suggestion. It’s one I’ve heard before, but have always resisted. One person, a guy who is a fellow guitar player and singer, wrote this:

“At this point, I don’t sing and play at the same time, but maybe someday I will get good enough at guitar to do everything at one time.” (quoting me)

Start doing this right away with very simple songs, and recording yourself; maybe use a click track from garage bad or a metronome. It’s good to get the skill of singing, keeping time and moving your fingers to different patterns than your voice is making. Also take video of yourself. Watch what you look like when you play, and practice playing in the dark or not watching your fingers when you change chords or do runs and fills.

You have an excellent voice, viewers on youtube want to see you perform, a good voice with simple backing is much more engaging than singing over commercial backing tracks.

OK enough of my armchair coaching … I needed to take this advice long ago.

I have to admit, I kind of inwardly sighed. It’s not the first time someone has given me unsolicited advice, nor is it the first time someone has suggested that I post a video showing myself. I know he’s right– people like to see who’s singing. I’m still working on feeling competent enough to put more of my guitar playing out there. What I usually do is record the track and pair it with photos, which may or may not have anything to do with the music, or sometimes video. It’s really more about the sound to me, rather than the whole package.

I tried to explain that I get super self-conscious on video. I don’t even like video calls, although those are less anxiety provoking and distracting than watching myself perform. I’m already preoccupied with perfection, but feel even less comfortable with looking at myself. I rarely put on makeup or a bra, and generally can’t be arsed to do so for a video. I’d honestly much rather perform live, with people watching me, than perform on video.

But then a couple of other people added encouragement. I thought about it some more, and realized what the hell? It’s not like there aren’t ugly people on YouTube. And nobody cares what I look like anyway… although that is precisely why I figured it shouldn’t matter if my face is on video. One poster wrote:

We often don’t give ourselves enough credit. I’ve always been the one most often behind the camera. Not only because I feel compelled to record family history but in order to avoid being the subject myself. Same reason – I have had no wish to immortalize myself. My sister sent me a photo not long ago of myself as her bridesmaid, one I’d not seen before. I told her it was the best picture, by far, I’d ever seen of myself. To the point I didn’t even recognize me! She said no, you always look like that. Alrighty then. So that one I’ll keep. 🙂

I think you look lovely in the video, knothead, and your voice makes it even better. I had to laugh – I’ve visualized you all this time as a tall, thin redhead. Why, I have no idea.

You can always put on a bit of slap for the camera once in a while, and about the bra – will anybody care? 🙂 (I’m assuming she means my photo, which is on my YouTube channel. I haven’t shown myself in a video yet.)

I had to laugh at how she pictured me. There have been times in my life when I’ve had red hair, but I’m a natural blonde… short, squatty, buxom, and rather fat. And now, at almost 50, my hair is kind of silvery blonde. It does look nice on my YouTube photo, although that picture is about three years old. But I realized again, she’s probably right. People probably won’t care about my actual appearance… and it might make for an interesting experiment. Not that I make any money on YouTube anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter how many or how few views I get, other than in terms of my ego.

I then realized that even if I wanted to video myself playing and singing at the same time, I couldn’t do it due to my mic set up. Until yesterday afternoon, I didn’t have a mic stand. So I ordered a mic stand, along with dog treats (they’ve gotten so expensive) and new “corn cob” lightbulbs for our new Tiffany nightstand lamps.

I bought the new lamps because the base fell out of my old lamp and shattered on the floor. The lamp still works, but I figured the fact that the base is plastic with some kind of heavy material inside of it to weigh it down enough to support the shade, was a sign that it was time to buy new lamps. And the ones I got, while made in China, are smaller and have 220 voltage and plugs. I am definitely happier with them with the new bulbs that didn’t come with the lamps. The old bulbs were too dim.

The lady who encouraged me to post my visage added this comment:

knotheadusc Wrote:
——————————————————-
> I am a short, squatty, buxom blonde/silver haired
> woman who will turn 50 this year. 😉 I spend most
> of my time in my nightgown, sans makeup and
> styling, because I mostly hang out with dogs.

Haha, thanks for the much-needed laugh today.

I wish I had the dogs excuse. I work from home, which I used to enjoy very much, but somehow with the relative isolation for various reasons, it feels empty like it never did before. Lately I have worked in my pink fluffy pj’s all day. The beginning of the end! Even if someone comes to the door they don’t linger and so it’s not a motivation for me to get properly dressed. Make-up, never. Hair, pony. It’s nice and not nice at the same time.

It would all be better if only I could play the guitar. I’ve always wanted to. Never took the time. My jr high band teacher imposed the clarinet on me – no such thing as personal choice back in the day. I didn’t enjoy the clarinet and it didn’t like me. Now, the sax, I love. But my bones are not musical other than to enjoy the talents of others and wish it were me. I recently watched a Welsh Choir Christmas concert online. The lady on sax was amazing and her sax was gorgeous – shining gold in the light. I’ve never seen a gold sax before.

I’ve always thought that music is perhaps the great peacemaker, something we can all come together around, because humans love music. Except then we’d argue over the genre, for sure.

Thanks again for sharing your talent. I really enjoyed your video and this ensuing discussion. As well as the music history videos I found due to your post. It’s amazingly fortunate that that sound has been preserved as well as stories of the lives of musicians we’ve never heard of before but who deserve to be known.

I agree with her about the value of YouTube videos. Lately, I have been so into YouTube. In fact, I probably look at YouTube more than I do Facebook, which is a really good thing. I love watching old TV shows and movies, as well as some of the very talented folks who put themselves out there every day. I still consider myself a writer, first and foremost, but I may decide to put more YouTube content out there. Bill and I have even talked about doing a podcast at some point, so he can put his story out there in his own words.

Anyway, I just read that Meat Loaf died. I was never a big fan of his. I think I’ve written in this blog why that is– it’s mainly due to the fact that his music, especially “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, always reminds me of a humiliating #metoo moment I had at a party back in the early 90s. However, I recognize that Meat Loaf was talented, and many people have enjoyed his music immensely. So I wish much peace and comfort to his family and friends. Maybe I’ll try “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” today. I don’t mind that song as much.

For those who are curious about my tribute to Ronnie Spector, see below.

First time I ever did this song. It never occurred to me… although I think I enjoyed it enough to try some of Ronnie’s other songs.

Thanks to Putin and the threat to Ukraine, Bill has to work tomorrow. He’ll probably work from home all day, which sucks. I think he has to go TDY at the end of the month, too…

I don’t have any specific chores planned for today. Maybe it will be a music day. Or maybe I’ll watch more dog grooming videos. The possibilities are endless.

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celebrities, lessons learned, music, musings, obits, YouTube

The first day of 2022…

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve 2021. Bill and I had a nice evening, marred only by the news that the great Betty White passed away. A lot of people reacted to the news of Betty’s New Year’s Eve demise with great sadness. She was a remarkable woman who was blessed with so much talent, beauty, and humor. When I think of how many people were touched by her, it almost overwhelms me. This was a lady whose career spanned many decades and generations, and she did it all– singing, dancing, acting, sales pitching, and especially comedy. She was the oldest Golden Girl, and the last one to leave us.

She was such an adorable and hilarious pro! God bless her, wherever she is… I hope she and her beloved husband, Allen Ludden, have finally reunited.

I loved Betty White as an entertainer. I admired her a great deal. However, I don’t feel particularly sad that she died, nor do I think of it as a tragic event. I think, as living and dying go, Betty White did it in grand fashion. As far as I know, she wasn’t seriously ill when she passed. In fact, she was even featured on People magazine’s cover this week, as she planned to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17th. She was still “with it”, and not bed bound. Yes, it would have been wonderful if she could have celebrated one last birthday, but 99 years is still a hell of a good run. What happened to her eventually happens to us all… and she had the good fortune to do it on relatively favorable terms.

I think this one was my favorite! Betty’s dusty muffins could not be matched.

So no, I’m not totally saddened by Betty White’s death. She died the same year as several of her co-stars on the Mary Tyler Moore show, as we also lost Gavin McLeod, Ed Asner, and Cloris Leachman in 2021. And all of them lived to ripe old ages, having been able to work, play, and be in the world pretty much the entire time. We should all be so lucky… and in fact, I think we’re all lucky that we were alive at the same time she was.

*Giggle* She was so funny!

MOVING ON…

A lot of people were also mentioning how much 2021 sucked. I’m sure it really did suck for a lot of folks. COVID-19 has really screwed up normal living for so many. However, one good thing I have noticed about the COVID era is that some people are reprioritizing their lives. Yesterday, I read an awesome Reddit thread called “Twas the night before my resignation”, about a guy who decided some years ago that he no longer wanted to prioritize his career over his family. He started taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2021, as usual, he scheduled that week off.

At the end of the year, a work emergency came up. It wasn’t something that should have affected his time off, and he did what he could to warn his employers that he would be taking that week off. But, as it happens, the company dragged its feet and the emergency, quite predictably, became dire as the guy’s week off approached… For best results, you really should read it for yourself. Suffice to say, the guy pretty much told his boss to pound sand, and was richly rewarded for his moxie. And to that, I say, “Kudos, and fuck those people!” I hate it when employers treat their employees like they own them. It’s nice to see that some workers have been able to claim some control over their work environments. I hope this is a trend that lasts, so that working conditions will improve for everyone.

I know… maybe it’s too much to hope for that there will be less greed and corruption in the American workplace. But I can dream, can’t I? Hell… if I were in the USA now, maybe someone would even hire me!

Bill and I actually had a fairly good 2021, in spite of COVID’s suck factor. We finally resolved our lawsuit, and it mostly went in our favor. I know it may seem like a small thing, but holding our former landlady accountable for her egregiously illegal actions, outright lies, and the really crappy way she treated us, was very satisfying. I think we learned a lesson from it, too. Hopefully, that lesson will carry over the next time someone tries to screw with us and shame us into automatically allowing them to have their way.

In 2021, Bill finally started working with a Jungian analyst, which is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time… and something I’ve felt he’s needed to do the whole time I’ve known him. The sessions have been very healing for him, but they’ve also been immensely rewarding and interesting. I didn’t know anything about Carl G. Jung when Bill and I met, despite my background. Social workers do study psychology, but it’s not really the bulk of what we learn, since social work is not psychology, per se. It’s been fascinating to learn more about Jung, and help Bill learn more. He’s been so intrigued by the process that he even started taking classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. So far, the classes have been online, but we did get a chance to visit Zurich for the first time last summer. If we manage to stay here awhile, he may get to do some serious work.

As for my own successes… I’ve watched my relaunched blog explode. In 2021, I had over 560 times the hits I had in 2020, which was much more successful than 2019, when I moved my blog to WordPress. It really is picking up, and that’s been exciting to see, even though it took some time.

I felt pretty much forced to relocate the blog from Blogspot, although I had kind of wanted to do it for a long time. It was difficult and a bit depressing to start over in February 2019. I had a decent following on the original blog, even though it was a bit rawer than this one is. Moving the blog meant losing followers, as well as ad revenue. It’s not that I make a lot of money at all through ads, but it was kind of a nice thing to occasionally get paid by Google.

Well… that pretty much ended with a thud when I moved the blog, and for quite some time, I felt really constrained and nervous about writing. I know some people don’t think I have any talent… and some people think writing is a waste of my time, so they think nothing about messing with what I do… and some people just plain don’t like me, and want to cause trouble for me for selfish and dishonest reasons. This blog is NOT my life, but it is something I enjoy creating, and it gives me a purpose. So it was hard for me in 2019, when I experienced the setback that caused me to have to start over.

Two years later, I think my blog is better than it ever was. And I’ve been rewarded with new followers, and yes, more ad revenue. I only monetized the blog a few months ago, but pretty soon, I’ll be eligible to be paid. And I can only expect that this blog will be more successful than the original blog was, in terms of money, and quality content. The travel blog is a bit down in views lately, but hopefully COVID-19 will eventually be tamed enough so we can travel again. And really, I mainly write this stuff for myself, anyway, so anyone who reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake.

I also found a new person with whom I can do music collaborations. In fact, I even uploaded our latest effort this morning! Music is something I do for fun and relaxation, so this is a rewarding development, too…

He lives in the States. We’ve never met, but we have similar musical tastes.

Another great thing that happened in 2021 was that Bill and I finally got to visit Croatia, and pay another visit to Slovenia. I already knew Slovenia was beautiful, but Croatia was magical. Although we didn’t have an “action packed” vacation in the fall, it was still probably one of my favorite trips yet. Just the sheer beauty of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the time we spent in Austria (another favorite destination) was so awesome. I guess COVID has also made me a lot more grateful for ANY travel. Thank God for vaccines, too. I will be boosted in a few days, which may cause temporary discomfort, but will likely make my chances of dying from COVID lower.

We got to see a few friends, and make a few new friends… and the old friends who are real friends are still with us. We also didn’t lose any loved ones in 2021. In fact, in 2022, Bill will presumably gain another grandchild. And… our beloved Arran and Noyzi are still alive. Noyzi has even become a real part of the family, right down to loving on me when he wants something and showing up fashionably late to dinner! So that’s a blessing.

I have high hopes for 2022… I hope you do, too. To those of you who have been part of this blog, thank you so much! I especially want to thank my friends who have been here since the beginning. You are all a big part of the success, too!

2021 didn’t suck for us… but I know some people are really struggling right now. I don’t know what words of wisdom or comfort I can share. One friend mentioned how bad 2021 was, and I mentioned that I thought 2016 was worse– at least in terms of lost legends. She responded that she’d had a rough time of it in 2021, and compared 2021 to a few other horrible years she’d experienced.

I knew she’s been having a hard time, so I acknowledged that. And then I remembered one of my worst years ever– 1998. If I’m honest, there were a few times during that year that I seriously contemplated suicide. I was dealing with moderately severe depression, and I didn’t see how I was ever going to escape the situation I was in. It was NOT a hopeless situation by any means– which I clearly proved. But at the time, it felt hopeless… and my perspective was so blurred by depression and anxiety that I couldn’t see beyond the fog of despair and despondency.

But some very good things also happened that year. Yes, I was working in a restaurant job where I was abused daily, and I lived with my parents, who were kind of hostile and disappointed in me. I was young and basically healthy, but felt unattractive and unsuccessful. That year, I backed into some lady’s car in our driveway, because I was so upset… and that accident led me to finally seeing a therapist. Dr. Coe helped me so much, and I was eventually put on antidepressants that changed my life. To this day, I no longer feel as horrible as I did for most of my young life.

I eventually got pretty good at the restaurant job, and was able to make enough money to pay for the therapy and save up for an apartment. I bought a car. I had a terrible setback in November 1998– in fact, that was probably one of the worst months of my life. And yet, two months later, the medication was finally correct, and I started getting my shit together… and by November 1999, I was in a dual degree master’s program, proving to myself that I wasn’t as stupid or worthless as I had felt a year prior. That was also the month I “met” Bill online. By November 2002, we were married! And now, 19 years later, here we are… In 2022, I’ll presumably turn 50, and we will celebrate 20 years married.

So it’s good that I didn’t give in to my urges to off myself back in 1998. That would have meant missing out on some really wonderful things. That “abusive” job also led to meeting some truly great friends and learning valuable life and survival skills. In the long run, that turned out to be a good thing, too, despite the suffering that happened when I was still in that situation.

My point is, sometimes what seems like the shittiest times can lead to some pretty wonderful recoveries. So if you are struggling right now, I urge you to hang on as best you can. It can, and probably will, get better. But I also know that those words ring hollow when a person is really suffering. So just know, there are people who really do care, and have been through it, too… You’re probably more like them than you know… unless, of course, you’re Josh Duggar or Ghislaine Maxwell. Those two probably won’t be enjoying life for awhile.

And, with that bit of “wisdom”, I’m signing off for today… Got a few chores to take care of, and then it’s time to watch movies and concerts.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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ethics, law, obits, religion

Sarah Weddington’s death brings out the pro-life trolls…

Sarah Weddington has just died. She was 76 years old, and had been in poor health. Nowadays, some people might think that 76 is kind of young for a person to die, but Sarah Weddington had already made history by the time she was 26. She definitely led a full and impressive life, even if pro-lifers don’t think so.

Back in 1971, Sarah Weddington was a recent law school graduate from Texas who was having trouble finding work because she was a woman. That year, having never before tried a case, she and her co-counsel, Linda Coffee, began presenting arguments on what would eventually be a landmark victory that gave American women the right to have an abortion. The two went before the Supreme Court, and on January 22, 1973, the court ruled that a Texas state law banning abortion except to save the life of the mother was unconstitutional. Weddington’s work on Roe v. Wade was groundbreaking, and whether or not pro-life advocates want to admit it, that law has actually saved a lot of lives.

Weddington got involved with Roe v. Wade because she was friends with women who were helping university students and others find doctors who would illegally perform abortions, or directing them to countries were abortions were legal. One of the women involved with this effort asked Ms. Weddington if she knew if they could be held liable, and prosecuted as accomplices. Weddington did not know the answer to that question, but said she would research the matter for free.

That was when she got in touch with Linda Coffee, who was a fellow University of Texas law school graduate, and had more experience in the matter. It was 1969, and Coffee was representing Norma Jean McCorvey, a homeless woman who was seeking an abortion. In December 1969, Coffee wrote Weddington a letter, asking if she’d like to join forces as co-counsel for McCorvey’s case. The two met a couple months later. and the wheels of progress toward women’s reproductive choice in the United States began to turn.

It was in December 13, 1971 that Weddington and Coffee began to plead their case to the highest court in the USA. Weddington was a star who enjoyed the public stage. Linda Coffee, while brilliant, was not as impressive to look at and didn’t enjoy the limelight as much. According to The New York Times, Coffee could come off looking “bedraggled”, and Weddington was younger and prettier. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, which in those days, apparently made her more “optically appealing”. In those days, maybe being “pretty” was considered especially important for women. Come to think of it, sadly, not that much has changed in that regard. But at least in 2021, more of us recognize how wrong and unfair that mindset is.

But Sarah Weddington’s life wasn’t just about Roe v. Wade. She was a person in her own right, a woman who pioneered in a profession that typically favored men. She was a young woman at a time when women were expected to stay home, raise babies, and be help meets to their husbands. She chose to become a lawyer instead, which says something about her intellect, courage, and tenacity. One would think that people might respect her for the person she was, rather than just focus on her impressive landmark work on Roe v. Wade.

Of course I know that expecting people to be decent is probably hoping for too much. Weddington’s death has brought out the pro-lifers, who feel the need to voice their objections to allowing people to choose whether or not they wish to be pregnant and give birth. They love to bring up cardiac activity in a 22 day old embryo as a sign of life that should be respected. And yet, these same people so often have very little regard for people who have already been born, nor do they seem to give two craps about providing access to affordable and high quality healthcare to the people who are gestating those potential lives that are so sacred to them. One man wrote this:

…a fetus is not a baby…but it is a human life. It’s a separate being, with its own unique human DNA. That’s why there is such passion from the pro-life side of this debate…and why the pro-choice side is loathe to concede the humanity of the fetus.

I started to write the below response to the man who brought up the “humanity” of a developing fetus. I looked on his Facebook page. I see that he’s a fireman, and has probably saved a lot of lives. I commend him for doing that work. I do wonder, however, if he’s thought about what happens to the people he saves… I’m sure it feels good to help someone escape a burning building. But once they’re out of the building, then what?

Does he simply vote for “pro-life” candidates, even if they’re all about gun rights and keeping healthcare outrageously expensive? Does he support making birth control more accessible and affordable? Does he vote for paid time off for new parents? Affordable and accessible childcare? Affordable housing? Work policies that make it possible for people to raise their children? But anyway, I did not post the comment below, because I didn’t want to argue with a stranger, and I figured it wouldn’t make a difference, anyway, except to rally the like-minded.

Why don’t you have more regard for the people who have already been born and will be affected by the burden of gestating that potential life? Do you make it a policy to vote for leaders who want to make healthy pregnancies, anti-violence, affordable healthcare access, and family friendly work policies a priority? Or are you just concerned about saving that *potential* human life who has no concept of life or death?  

I don’t think most people who are vehemently pro-life actually care about other people. If they did, they might consider why a person might feel the need to make that decision and why it’s very personal and not any of their business. A person who feels the need to terminate a pregnancy may have very painful and personal reasons for making that decision. Many pro-life people care only about their religious convictions, and they want to impose their beliefs on everyone else.  

More often than not, it seems to me that MEN who are upset about abortion are really just angry that this is a decision that women can make without their input. They don’t think it’s fair. Well, a lot of women don’t think it’s fair when men have their fun in bed, but don’t actually do anything to support that *potential* life they’ve helped create. It’s not their name on the doctor’s bills. It’s not their body that is forever changed and potentially harmed by pregnancy. It’s not their life that is potentially upended.  

Unless you are the type of pro-life person who advocates for real change in US policies that support positive changes all of those babies being born, I’m not too concerned about your opinions regarding “humanity”. It’s sad that 50 years on, we’re still arguing about what should be a fundamental right for all pregnant people.  

According to The New York Times obituary, Sarah Weddington isn’t just a lawyer who argued for women’s rights to choose abortion. She was also herself the recipient of an abortion. In 1968, having recently graduated from law school, after having earned a college degree a couple of years ahead of the usual schedule, Weddington, who was then dating her husband, Ron Weddington, got pregnant. The two went to Mexico, where the former Sarah Ragle had a safe and legal abortion.

When she and Ron came back from Mexico, Sarah realized that she was very fortunate to have been able to get an abortion. Many pregnant people of that time period were not so lucky. Sarah became aware of women who had done terrible things to themselves in an attempt to abort. She wrote in the Texas Monthly in 2003:

I had had an abortion myself, during my last year in law school. I was not as sophisticated as I should have been about preventing pregnancy. I was seriously dating the man I later married, Ron Weddington, but I was determined to finish law school, and I wanted to put Ron through law school. There were a lot of considerations. And so we decided to have an abortion. You couldn’t look in the phone book then, but Ron found a name of an abortion doctor through a friend. We made an appointment and drove to Mexico. I will never forget following a man in a white guayabera shirt down an alley, and Ron and I having no idea where we were headed. I can still remember going under the anesthetic and then waking up later in a hotel room with Ron. Driving back I felt fine; I didn’t have any complications. But it made me appreciate what other women went through, who did not have someone to go with them or did not have the money to pay for a medically safe abortion, as I did.

Later, I heard stories of women who had not been so lucky. Some had beaten their own abdomens or jumped down stairs to try to induce an abortion. Others had eaten mixtures of chemicals and cleaning products. I’ll never forget seeing a photograph of a woman lying on a black-and-white checkered bathroom floor who had died from having an illegal abortion. Doctors told me about women whom they had seen hemorrhaging or in shock or with infections, who had stuffed all kinds of things into their uteruses because they were desperate to have abortions.

Don’t “pro-life” people care about the women who feel so desperate to have abortions that they’re willing to do things like take poison, stab themselves with coat hangers, or go to “butchers” who render them sterile, make them sick with infection, or even kill them? Don’t these people, so passionate about the “sanctity of life” and the “humanity” of developing embryos, give two shits about the situations facing the people whose personal situations don’t lend themselves to being pregnant? And who gets to decide when a person’s life is “threatened” enough that abortion becomes okay? And why should those situations be anyone else’s business?

Sadly, a lot of religious “pro-lifers” think that Sarah Weddington is now burning in Hell. One man commented thusly on Weddington’s obituary:

No, we’re not delighting in her passing. We’re simply stating that she will probably spend eternity with the Prince of Darkness. Even after her evil actions before the court, she could have repented and asked for forgiveness. I highly doubt she did either.

What the fuck?

I think about “Christian” people like Jim Bob Duggar, who recently lost his bid to become an Arkansas State Senator. His time as a reality star offers a treasure trove of proof of what religious people actually think about other people. Mr. Duggar’s wife, Michelle, famously counseled their daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” when Jill’s husband wanted sex, even if Jill was “big pregnant” and didn’t feel like having sex. Michelle told us all that being sexually available to her husband is a woman’s lot in life, and that no one else could righteously fulfill that need, other than a man’s wife.

Jim Bob and Michelle now, of course, have a son named Josh who is sitting in jail, awaiting sentencing for getting his sexual “needs” fulfilled illegally. Their son apparently didn’t get the message that his sexual “needs” should only be fulfilled by his wife– not that Anna hasn’t done her share. Jim Bob stated that he thinks rapists should be executed. I wonder if he’d like to start with his son, Josh… who was once a “precious” embryo in Michelle’s womb. Granted, even Josh has “value”, I guess. He is the father of seven, after all, and I’m sure his children deserve all the regard that any born person deserves. Life is about to get even harder for those kids and their mother, though…

I find it curious that Jim Bob Duggar, who is apparently so concerned about the rights of the unborn, thinks that already born people are expendable and should be executed for any reason… and that being truly “pro-life” can co-exist with also being “pro-gun”. Guns are literally devices that are intended to wound or KILL living beings, all of whom I assume were God’s blessings to someone or something.

As disgusted as I am about Michelle Duggar’s comments about being “joyfully available”, I also wonder how many times she felt forced to have sex with Jim Bob, a man with chronic halitosis and poor social graces, because his dick was stirring. And how much attention did Jim Bob pay to Michelle’s menstrual cycles, so he could force her to pop out as many of “God’s blessings” as humanly possible?

Seriously–there are men who are like this. Some of them even work(ed) for the federal government. And a lot of these men– many of whom vote for pro-life Republicans and screech about small governments and their personal liberties– don’t seem to realize that not so long ago, there were some communist countries that were all about forced birthing. And there are some countries where a woman can wind up in prison because she had a miscarriage. That doesn’t sound very “freedom-loving” to me. But even those countries are starting to understand that this is a decision that should be up to the person directly involved with being pregnant, not governments, law enforcement agencies, or MEN who will never have to face being pregnant.

The bottom line is that Sarah Weddington did a huge serve to many women when she took on the fight to allow women to choose. No one is forced to have an abortion in the United States. It’s a CHOICE. And it’s a choice that should be private, involving only the person who is directly involved in the pregnancy.

Whatever the pro-life men think of Sarah Weddington’s marvelously courageous work on allowing women to choose abortion, I think she was a brave and incredible person, and there was so much more to her life than Roe v. Wade, although that was VERY important work. She was a teacher, a traveler, and a brilliant woman who fought for other women. She has no reason to ask forgiveness for the very important work she did.

It’s too bad that some people think she’s gone to Hell, simply because she didn’t have the same views about religion that they do. More often now than ever before, it’s clear to me that a lot of religious people aren’t actually very good people, when it comes down to it. They care more about their “holy book” and religious platitudes than actually helping people. At least Sarah Weddington did not live to see the day when her work was ruined by Donald Trump’s stacked Supreme Court and so-called “freedom loving men” who only care about freedom for wealthy white people with dicks.

May Sarah Weddington rest in eternal peace. I’m sure wherever she is now, it’s better than down here.

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