blog news, language, musings, true crime

I need to work on my titles, don’t I?

I’ve never been very good at coming up with good titles for my posts. Sometimes, that means I get fewer readers than I might. Other times, my posts end up being more “click baity” than I would prefer. I think my posts on my travel blog have better titles, mainly because they are usually about something specific. I get tons of hits on my posts about attending nude spas, for instance.

I’ll also admit that sometimes, I deliberately title something a certain way to yank people’s chains. There’s a post on my travel blog titled “Enjoying some extra dick tonight”. I know what it sounds like… but it’s actually about extra thick pommes. In German, “dick” means thick. So, when I buy extra thick frozen fries at the store, it literally says “extra dick” on the packaging! I’m sure more than one person has been disappointed that the post isn’t pornographic, but it IS a travel blog. The blog’s title itself mentions “travel”, so they probably shouldn’t be expecting anything sexy.

I did something similar a few years ago, when I saw a stray cat walking through our rural yard in North Carolina. I titled the post, “Looking for pussy…” or something like that. Sure enough, people clicked. There are a lot of pervs out there. 😉 And I’m sure they were sad that I wrote about actual cats instead of what they were obviously looking for. It was a very short post, and my good friend, Alex, even left me a comment congratulating me on the “clever word play”. Mwahahaahaha! Because it’s such a short post, I’ll even repost it here, for the curious…

Looking for pussy…

No, not THAT kind of pussy.  I was just sitting at my desk and noticed a black cat cutting through the yard.  I decided to go outside to see where it was headed, but by the time I got out the front door, the kitty was gone.  It’s just as well, I guess.  My hounds would love to go out there and chase that cat and Bill is allergic to them anyway.

I came back inside and Bill asked me if I went looking for the cat and I said I was looking for pussy.  That made him laugh.  The dogs were whining up a storm and Arran brought me a toy when I came back inside.  That’s one of his more adorable doggy behaviors.  Whenever anyone comes home, even if it’s just after a few minutes or so, he responds by giving them one of his chewed up toys.  In this case, he brought me a stuffed duck that makes a quacking sound when you squeeze it.  All of my dogs have loved the stuffed duck toys… probably even more than they love the toy squirrels I’ve brought them.

The packers are coming to pack up our house on July 23rd and will load the truck on the 25th.  I guess we’ll leave on the 26th or 27th and start our long ass drive to San Antonio. 

I bet this blog post will get a lot of hits because I used the word pussy…  People have such dirty minds. 

In other news, this post is my 700th.  I’ve been a busy little beaver.  😉

This was very interesting, since I had never seen an armadillo before… not even in a zoo! And it was in Georgia, not Texas. Our dogs went NUTS.

I included the above video of an armadillo I filmed when we lived in Georgia, then added to the end of the above post, “Or, since we’re moving to Texas, I should say I’ve been a busy armadillo.

Arran doesn’t bring us toys anymore, mainly because we no longer give him free access to them. That’s mostly Noyzi’s fault, because Noyzi has been known to eat toys, and we don’t want to have to have them surgically extracted. But, when we give Arran a toy, he will still play with it for a minute or two. Then he demands a treat.

This post seems really random, but I do have a point to make…

I need to get better at coming up with post titles, because sometimes the titles I come up with encourage people to comment before they read. And, as some of my regulars know, that’s one of my pet peeves. It happened the other day, actually. I wrote a post called “But we really don’t need gun control, do we?” I included a screenshot of the sign for Richneck Elementary School, where a six year old child deliberately shot his 25 year old teacher last Friday. At this writing, that post has just nine hits.

I have a whole lot of friends who are teachers. One of them commented on my Facebook link for that post. Below was our exchange:

I think I gleaned more than my friend bargained for when I read her comments.

My friend must have thought my post was a liberal and impersonal rant about gun control, based only on the post’s title. For the record, I do think we need more gun control in the United States. I don’t see how we can continue to go on the way we have, where people don’t feel safe carrying out their usual tasks of the day, because they don’t know who is packing heat.

When I titled that post, I was thinking about how absolutely terrifying it is that a six year old CHILD got his hands on a firearm and KNEW HOW TO USE IT! He was skilled enough that he could aim that gun at a teacher and seriously injure her. And he carried the weapon into the school and pointed it at a beautiful 25 year old woman who was just doing her job. By so many accounts, Abby Zwerner is a much beloved and respected teacher. She could have been killed by a six year old. How scary is that? And then I found out that I’m actually kind of connected to Abby, simply because I lived and worked for so many years in the area where she lives.

In my original post about that incident, I mentioned that Abby and I have a mutual Facebook friend. She teaches in a city near where I grew up, and where I still have a lot of friends. I was born in Hampton, Virginia, which is adjacent to Newport News, where Abby teaches.

It turns out our mutual Facebook friend is a woman I knew in high school. We were in a lot of classes together. I used to sit with her at lunch, when we were ourselves students in public high school, back in the 80s. I remember her stepmother was a substitute teacher, getting her own teaching credentials. Abby’s aunt, my high school friend, is also a teacher with a doctoral degree who teaches in the same geographical area. One of her best friends is an Air Force colonel, who also went to school with us. I just got a Christmas card from her the other day.

So now, I feel even more connected to that incident, even though I moved out of the Tidewater area of Virginia about 23 years ago. It’s still “home”, even though I don’t really have a home to go to down there anymore. Not only do I still know a lot of people from that area, but I also have connections because of so many of my friends– people who have never lived in the Hampton Roads area– who are teachers. And what happened to Abby, could have happened to any one of them. I’m sure all of my teaching friends are feeling a special kind of terror about this case.

My dear friend who wrote the above comments is very special to me. I would be absolutely DEVASTATED if she got seriously hurt while on the job, never mind if she was killed. She doesn’t teach in Newport News, but she is a Virginia teacher. I can’t even fathom how scared she must be to read about gun violence in schools. Because of where I went to college, I know a lot of teachers. I remember watching them prepare for their careers in our dormitories at Longwood University. Their coursework often involved a lot of reading, papers, and tests, as well as complicated art projects. I never even knew what contact paper was until I went to Longwood and made friends with budding teachers. They were constantly using it to make learning aids for their students.

There is so much preparation and dedication involved with becoming a teacher. It’s a lot of work for not that much money… but at least in the early 90s, there weren’t constant gun related events in schools. In those days, my friends were blissfully unaware of the bloodshed that was coming to America’s schools from 1999 onward. My friends who became teachers all have one thing in common. They are kind, caring, creative people who love working with young people. But now, they have to fear for their lives as they do their jobs. My friend wasn’t the only teacher who wrote about how teachers get blamed when kids do crazy things. Another former high school classmate– not someone I was friends with– wrote something similar about the crisis in public schools.

Maybe I don’t really want people to read what I write…

There is a certain freedom in writing things that people don’t think they want to read. I do use a headline analyzer, which gives me a “score” that shows how “good” my titles are. I aim for the green score, which I usually manage to attain, even though my post titles are often kind of cryptic.

After years of writing blog posts, I’ve come to realize that there’s a certain freedom in not giving too much away in a post title. I’ve frequently mentioned that I don’t write this stuff for money, so I don’t necessarily want to upset people. Sometimes I do make people angry, and they have a right to their feelings. I don’t want to deal with hate mail, though, nor do I want to be targeted by criminals. True crime posts often invite lurkers, which is unnerving. I’d rather my readers be people who know and like me, than the random person who jumps to conclusions.

So… maybe, for my mental and physical health, my post titles should stay the way they are… But then, that might lead to people continuing to assume things before they’ve read. I don’t think my friend has yet read the post she referenced. If she had read it, she’d know that I don’t blame teachers for what that little boy did. I don’t even necessarily blame the kid. The adults in his life have failed him. At least we know that he won’t be going to juvenile hall… at least not for this crime. He’s too young. But he probably will end up in foster care, which may or may not be a good thing. Foster care is a mixed bag. If that boy doesn’t get some serious help, he may very well go to juvie soon… and that will probably lead to prison.

Anyway… I’ve found that I often have connections to the things I write about, and that’s what compels me to blog. I want to put my thoughts down somewhere. I don’t mind when people read, especially if they get something good from my insights. However, I also don’t want to be a target. So… maybe these crappy blog post titles are really just a form of cowardice. Maybe it’s time I stopped blogging for the public. Or maybe I should just write book reviews, although even those can be controversial. I wouldn’t be able to post every day, either.

Today’s post probably won’t necessarily attract a lot of readers. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. But I do feel better for having written today. I hope one or two people enjoyed my insights, such as they are. Or… at least had occasion to think about them a little bit…

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healthcare, social media, viral

“A time to be born… a time to die…”

It’s Monday again, and I’m sitting here pondering a discussion I got into yesterday after a nursing friend shared a viral meme about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Right now, people are talking about CPR. Professional football player, Damar Hamlin, collapsed on the field and received CPR, which saved his life. I don’t watch football, so even if I had been in the United States when it happened, I probably would not have seen it happen live. But a number of people on my friends list saw it.

CPR saved Damar Hamlin’s life. There’s no doubt about it.

Damar Hamlin is reportedly now doing much better. He will have to recover from this incident, but as a young athlete, he’ll probably be fine. However, as one nurse pointed out, CPR doesn’t always end well for every patient. She made a meme, and it went viral.

A fair point.

I saw this meme because one of my nursing friends shared it. It made me remember a blog post I wrote in 2013. Back then, it was in the news that an 87 year old woman, who lived at an independent living facility in Bakersfield, California, had collapsed. No one rendered CPR to her. Instead, a supposed nurse at the facility called 911. The nurse explained to the 911 dispatcher that it was against the facility’s policy for employees to perform CPR on residents. A lot of people seemed shocked that this was a policy at a place where it seemed like there would be emergency medical assistance available for residents.

The dispatcher, upset that the “nurse” wasn’t acting, reportedly pleaded:

“Anybody there can do CPR. Give them the phone please. I understand if your facility is not willing to do that. Give the phone to that passerby,” the dispatcher said. “This woman is not breathing enough. She is going to die if we don’t get this started.”

But the nurse refused to render aid, and followed the protocol set by her employer. An ambulance arrived a few minutes later, but the woman died at the hospital.

It outraged a lot of readers that the nurse simply let this 87 year old woman die without a fight. Many people posted that the woman’s family should sue. Some felt the “nurse” should be fired and lose her nursing license. Some seemed to think police should arrest the “nurse”.

Inspired by some of the more vitriolic comments, I decided to blog about the situation. In that post, I wrote:

As someone who has studied public health and social work, and lived abroad several times, I was amused and amazed by the comments that came with that article.  There’s quite cultural statement made about this situation.  Look at it.  The woman was 87 years old.  That’s an impressive life span.  CPR is a very traumatic thing to do to another person.  Even if you’re young, CPR can cause cracked or broken ribs, a broken sternum, and internal bleeding.  At 87 years old, I would imagine this woman was a lot more fragile than your average adult is.  Moreover, CPR done to elderly patients doesn’t actually have an impressive success rate.  It’s an emergency intervention and doesn’t usually turn out the way it does on TV shows like ER.

CPR done correctly might have saved her… just in time for her to spend days or weeks in the hospital, hooked up to machines and running up big medical bills that perhaps she had no means to pay.  At age 87, she was likely on Medicare.  She might have made a full recovery… or she might have suffered brain damage, because the CPR wasn’t done correctly and she went without oxygen for too long. She might have lapsed into a coma, where doctors and relatives would have to decide when the appropriate time to let her go would be.  But here in America, we are taught from a young age that we should spare no expense to save a life, even a life that has been well lived and is about finished.  You are seen as a criminal if you opt for death.

I remember posting about the case on my Facebook page. At the time, I had a lot more “friends”, and some of them were argumentative types. The thread about this case got heated, fueling the post even more. I continued:

…there are many places around the world where no one would have raised an eyebrow at what happened to this lady.  In many places around the world, family members or neighbors care for the elderly.  And when death comes, it’s not always seen as something that has to be fought.  Death is a part of life, and it will happen to everyone at some point.

While I can see why it’s distressing to think of a person just watching someone die while on the phone with 911, I can also understand why that assisted living facility has the policy they have.  You can bet it has a lot to do with litigation and insurance. 

It’s hard to think of sitting on your hands in a situation like this.  It is a little unnerving to think about when a person’s life is no longer worth saving due to advanced age.  But I think in this case, it’s likely that this woman had a better death than she might have.  I wish we could come to some kind of consensus as to how we can let people die with dignity.  We can’t have everyone living until they’re 100, though.  The system can’t and won’t support it. 

So… there I was yesterday, looking at that viral meme, and remembering that 2013 case. When I looked at the comments on the original thread, I found out people still seem to think CPR is always justified, no matter what. The person who originally shared the meme is apparently a nurse, and she’s run many codes on people. A lot of the codes she’s run have been on people who are clearly at the end of their lives. They either didn’t have a “do not resuscitate” order or a living will, or their distraught family members feel compelled to keep them alive at all costs. Family members don’t always realize what goes into a “code”, and how violent and aggressive it can be.

Some commenters were profane in their responses, “bravely” stating that they don’t care about broken ribs if it means another day with a loved one. It’s easy to say that when you’re not in severe pain, or dealing with chronic health issues that make life torture. The fact is, everyone dies. And in every life, there will come an opportunity to make an exit. Sometimes, when a very elderly person collapses, it’s simply their time to go.

Later that day in March 2013, I wrote more about the case. I identified the woman who collapsed. Her name was Lorraine Bayless. She lived at an independent living facility, as opposed to a nursing home or even an assisted living facility. The stories referred to the woman who called 911 as a nurse, but it wasn’t clear if she actually was a nurse. It wasn’t clear if she’d had a DNR, either. Some sources reported that she didn’t have a DNR, but at least one other reported that she did. Experts at the time were talking about how “morally wrong” it was not to render aid to Ms. Bayless. But other people in the know were discussing what happens to a person when they get CPR.

I’m 50 years old, and I live with aches and discomfort every day. I’m not in terrible pain yet. A lot of what ails me is helped with over the counter pain medications, or even a glass or two of wine. Unfortunately, as people age, they tend to hurt more. They become more fragile, and develop health conditions that make it more difficult to recover from illnesses and injuries. And, it’s always sad to bring this up, but healthcare is very expensive, especially in the United States. A very elderly person who is nearing the natural end of their life will run up huge bills, even if they survive another day or two.

As many of my healthcare friends pointed out, it’s uncommon for very elderly people to fully recover from CPR interventions. I’m not saying it never happens, but that it’s rare. And that kind of intervention, which almost always involves broken ribs and severe bruising, will mean significant pain in addition to whatever the condition was that caused the collapse in the first place. The whole point of the viral meme I read yesterday was that people often suffer when they get CPR, along with the suggestion that people talk to their loved ones about what they would like to have done to them if they collapse. One would also hope that they put their wishes in writing, so that medical personnel can honor their wishes without risking their careers or their freedom.

On another note…

One thing I noticed and want to comment about is another one of my “pet peeves”. So many people seemed to be deliberately obtuse about the meme’s message. It was as if people thought the nurse was saying that CPR is never justified. That’s not what she was conveying. She was saying that CPR is brutal to bodies. Some people won’t recover from the physical or mental trauma of the violence and aggression of CPR. People should consider that reality before demanding that medical staff resuscitate their very elderly and frail loved ones who suffer from chronic illnesses.

And also… I wish to God that people would read things before commenting. So many people mentioned cracked ribs and other injuries that come from CPR. I think it’s inconsiderate to post comments without reading the post in question or other people’s comments. Why should I read what someone writes when they haven’t taken the time to read what others have written?

In essence, people who comment before reading are telling everyone that their comments are more important than other people’s comments are. That is quite an arrogant and self-centered statement, in my opinion. Reading before commenting saves time in the long run, because you might find that your comment is unnecessary or, perhaps, inapplicable to the situation. I know that making this statement might make me look “mean” or “rude”, but honestly, I think it’s rude to waste people’s time by making statements that are irrelevant or have already been made umpteen times. Just my opinion.

Anyway…

I hope you have a good Monday. I’ll be watching for new inspirations, as I continue to read my latest book. See you tomorrow.

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business, complaints

“Don’t worry, I’ve got another suit like it at home…”

A few years ago, while spending a few days in Lesa, Italy, I wrote a post called “Bullshit frosting”. It was inspired by the LuLaRoe, which was in the news a lot at the time. I happened to run across an epic blog post written in 2017 by a former LuLaRoe “consultant”. She was mad as hell and not about to take it anymore, and she used her blog post to soundly dress down LuLaRoe founders, Deanne Brady and Mark Stidham, for taking advantage of all the “moms”, who were busting their asses to sell LuLaRoe and going into massive debt to make LuLaRoe’s founders richer. Brady and Stidham, as well as higher level LuLaRoe leadership, thanked those women by criticizing and blaming them for all of their failures and disappointments in the business. I began my post with the paragraph below:

Have you ever run across someone who reeks of bullshit?  I mean, all you have to do is look into their eyes and take a close look at their overly enthusiastic smiles and you just know they reek of shit?  These are the kind of people who will appear to be happy all the time, yet they’ll be grinning big as they brutally cut you down in front of your peers.  They are astoundingly and overwhelmingly full of shit, yet people still clamor to get on their boat and kiss their asses.

In my post about LuLaRoe, I included a screenshot I found on the woman’s epic blog post. It was about how the LuLaRoe consultants were expected to dress and conduct themselves at a LuLaRoe event…

Lots of expectations for people who don’t actually work for the company, but are themselves the company’s “customers”, reselling their shoddy crap to their friends and family members.

I thought about reposting that post that I wrote in those days, since it was a pretty good and, I think, an entertaining rant. But instead, I think I’m going to revamp my theories about “bullshit frosting” with a new issue. Not that many people are talking about LuLaRoe now, even though that whole phenomenon remains fascinating to me. However, as I noticed on Twitter last night, a lot of people are talking about USAA, and not in a nice way. And like LuLaRoe, USAA has been resting on its laurels and coasting along on a prior “good reputation”. Historically speaking, lots of people have sung the praises of USAA for years, and people want to “get on their boat”. But if you look beneath the surface, you’ll find that something rotten has been covered with a lot of “bullshit frosting”.

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past couple of days, you might have noticed that I have had some recent trouble with USAA– the huge insurance/banking company so popular and widely used by military servicemembers, retirees, and government employees. Just click on the “USAA” tag, and you’ll see that I’ve had repeated issues with them blocking attempts to make purchases and locking my account arbitrarily. This practice, supposedly done in the name of security, has caused me to have to call USAA to get things unfucked.

It’s a real pain to call USAA, because they’re in Texas, and I am in Germany. Most of their offices aren’t open 24/7– as I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be, if they were a “normal” bank. However, a lot of USAA’s customers live abroad, so it seems like they could come up with ways to make things easier for those people. One would think they would have online systems that would allow me to confirm or deny questionable charges without my having to call them. For one brief time, it seemed like they did have that option. I could just go on the app and mark things “yea or nay”. Now, they will send a text, but as I have to unlock my devices, am sometimes “indisposed” in some way, and don’t always have my phone, watch, or tablet with me, sometimes I’m not able to answer quickly enough.

So… the blocks on my account and having to call to straighten them out were annoying enough. But then, a few days ago, I noticed that I had three actual fraudulent charges on my debit card. It was about 5:00am when I saw these charges, so I had to call the fraud department while half asleep. They blocked my card. I told the representative about the fraudulent charges, one of which never successfully posted. USAA gave me a “temporary” refund on one of the charges. The other one– for Insomnia Cookies– remains. The funny thing is, a USAA representative gave me grief over a vendor in Belgium I’ve made purchases from lots of times, but they allowed a charge from Insomnia Cookies… which has a Web site that, as someone who lives outside of the United States, I can’t even access without a VPN! I suppose I could have ordered cookies for a friend, or something, but why wouldn’t that charge be suspicious over one that originated in Belgium, which is only a couple of hours’ drive from me?

And then, because I had to update my payment info on revolving accounts, another false fraud alert was triggered, this time on my credit card. That issue led me to have to call the rude “gentleman” at USAA who has left me with “shell shock” bad enough that I actually feel traumatized.

Yesterday, I thought about calling USAA again, but my last call to them was so shockingly unprofessional that I just couldn’t stomach it. The charge for the cookies was about $43. Today, I can easily cover that amount, but there was a time not so long ago that losing $43 would have devastated me financially. ETA: as of 3/20, USAA has “temporarily” refunded the $43.

USAA has me feeling like a “castaway, an island lost at sea…” But I’m not the only one by a long shot!

I went to Twitter, where I was surprised to find that just like in the song, “Message In A Bottle”, I was one of many, many people “sending an S.O.S. to the world” about problems with USAA. And some of the messages people were leaving led me to believe that I was actually kind of lucky I’m just out $43. Moreover, a lot of people who really have been screwed, have reported that they’ve been on hold in USAA’s annoying phone maze for hours. For hours, they’ve been forced to listen to USAA’s God awful jingle over and over again, which I found myself commiserating about with a fellow disgruntled member. Below is a screenshot of one of the USAA jingle hater’s recent tweets, which indicates that, like me, she was exposed to the jingle because of some fuckery at the bank.

Exactly! Who’s got time for it?

I directly tweeted USAA myself the other night. It was while Bill was busy tending to personal business. I was sitting alone at the kitchen table, drinking wine and feeling sassy. I almost never use Twitter, except to engage with one of my anti-Facebook friends. But I was doing it on St. Patrick’s Day, because I had my Irish up. I let USAA know that I was shopping for a new bank, which we found yesterday. They invited me to PM them with my name, contact details, etc. I declined, since I have already gotten those phone calls recently, and they haven’t fixed the problem. Aside from that, I don’t want to call them, because I run the risk of getting “serviced” by the mansplaining jerk I encountered the other day, who refused to listen to me and, instead, was talking louder over me, and wasting my time. He flat out didn’t care about my issue. He needs to be fired, but since I don’t know who he is, I can’t complain to anyone who can actually do something. And again, as I noticed on USAA’s lively Twitter account, I am not the only one who has woes… nor am I, by any stretch, one who has been fucked over the worst. Have a look at these tweets.

Of course, yesterday it was reported that USAA was just hit with $140 million in fines because for “bad money laundering controls” that they had a chance to fix and didn’t. According to the New York Times article I linked:

“As its customer base and revenue grew in recent years, USAA F.S.B. willfully failed to ensure that its compliance program kept pace, resulting in millions of dollars in suspicious transactions flowing through the U.S. financial system without appropriate reporting,” FinCEN’s acting director, Himamauli Das, said in a statement. The bank “received ample notice and opportunity” to fix its anti-money-laundering controls, he added, “but repeatedly failed to do so.”

This doesn’t sound good at all, does it? So I told Bill that I wanted to open an account at another credit union, since I’ve also had unrelated issues with PenFed lately, trying to get a checking account with them. Bill was a little hesitant, since he’s done business with USAA for so long, and so many military people have drunk the USAA Kool-Aid. I’ll admit it, I used to drink it myself. But he finally started the process to open a joint account at the other credit union.

Then, after he started that process, I suggested to Bill that he should refinance his USAA car loan, noting that the credit union’s APR is more than a percentage point less than USAA’s is, and USAA won’t even allow us to get a car loan from Germany anymore. They quit allowing Germany based car loans in 2019, which was when we got ours. I guess we just got in under the wire. They’ve also stopped allowing us to open new CDs from here. I read that it has to do with licensing in Germany, which probably involves money and oversight.

I told Bill that it made sense to refinance, since we have already successfully financed two cars together with a credit union, and I financed a car on my own with them before Bill and I met. I have always been very happy with that institution’s service regarding loans. And USAA, quite frankly, doesn’t deserve our business anymore. He can keep paying the higher payments he’s already been paying USAA, and it will ultimately result in a cheaper loan, paid off faster. Again… he was reluctant, but ultimately acquiesced. I don’t think he’ll be sorry.

USAA has always promoted this idea of “family” and solidarity. Likewise, the same “family concept” was promoted in LuLaRoe. As I mentioned in my “Bullshit frosting” post from 2018…

Keep in mind, the people who sell LuLaRoe aren’t company employees.  They buy clothing from LuLaRoe and sell it, and they make their money based on what they sell.  In essence, they are LuLaRoe’s first customers.  And yet, here’s a “coach” lecturing them about what to wear and how to wear it.  Above that post was another one by the coach.  She’s in a van with her sister and their kids, headed to a retreat in Wyoming.  She implies that she and her sister had dropped everything to attend this function because “Aunt Deanne” said so.

Notice that she calls the founder “Aunt Deanne”.  I’m sure the company promotes the idea that they’re all one big family.  On the surface, it sounds good.  If you’re family, you’re “loved” and cared for, in a sense.  Family members are supposed to have your back.  We love our family members and don’t want to disappoint them.  That’s what makes it easier to trust family members, and more devastating when family screws you over.  Lots of people think of a business that treats people like “family” as a good thing.  But there is a downside to being a figurative “brother”, “sister”, “aunt” or “cousin”.  Sometimes when you think of someone as “family”, you let your guard down when you really shouldn’t...

“One big happy family” sounds great… until you realize that some of the most toxic relationships a person can have are with family members.  Family members have that advantage of being in the group… they have access to you that other people generally don’t.  They know you better than most people do.  And when something unpleasant needs to be done, family members feel okay about asking other family members for help.  If you go against the grain, you run the risk of being cast out… lovingly, of course, because you need to see the error of your ways.  While I don’t know for sure, I get the sense that LuLaRoe and some other multi-level marketing businesses are kind of culty like that.  You toe the line so you won’t be towed outside of the group. 

It’s not that I think USAA and LuLaRoe are that much alike in terms of what they do, or even their business practices. I would not, for instance, equate LuLaRoe’s seemingly disastrous business practices with what’s been going on at USAA. Rather, what I’ve noticed is that both organizations are kind of “culty”. I remember, when we lived in Texas, people acted like USAA was just the greatest company to work for and bank with, and people stick with them, even when the writing is on the wall that things aren’t good.

When Bill was looking for a job in 2014, he approached a USAA recruiter, whose eyes very quickly glazed over when Bill confessed that he didn’t know anyone who worked at the company. The guy encouraged Bill to consult USAA.com… This, even though USAA supposedly values its members above all else. And yet, here was Bill, a guy who’s a retired Army officer and has been a member since 1984, and the recruiter treated him like dog shit. Of course, now I am delighted that Bill doesn’t work for USAA. I don’t think he would have enjoyed the experience. Things turned out fine for us, anyway.

Incidentally, I wrote a rant about Bill’s USAA job hunting experience, and USAA had its public relations firm stalking my blog for months. But this time, after having written about them several times this week, I’m not getting any attention from USAA’s PR firm. Not that I mind not being stalked by USAA. I just think it’s kind of telling… it’s like the leadership just doesn’t care about the company’s reputation anymore and has given up on trying to satisfy its members.

I tweeted a couple of responses to people who tweeted last night. USAA was tagged in those posts, and both times, they sent demands that I send a PM with my contact information. When I didn’t do as they asked, they posted this:

No thanks… you’ve done enough already.

My response to USAA’s request for cooperation was, “That’s okay.” I no longer expect them to help. And based on their Twitter feed, it looks like other people need their assistance much more urgently than I do. What a sad state of affairs for what used to be a great company.

So now, about the title of this post… When I wrote my original “Bullshit frosting” post in 2018, I was reminded of a classic episode of the 70s and 80s sitcom, Three’s Company. Have a look below:

Back in 1980, there was an episode of Three’s Company called “Lee Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother“.  Jack Tripper (played by the late John Ritter) was very upset because his very good looking, financially secure, egotistical brother, Lee, had come to visit.  Lee spent the whole time trying to impress people and making Jack feel small.  When Jack accompanies Lee and Jack’s roommate, Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) to a restaurant for dinner, he accidentally spills wine on Lee’s suit.  Jack is feeling horrible, but Chrissy consoles him by correctly predicting what Lee’s going to say after he cleans up in the bathroom– “Don’t worry, I’ve got another suit like it at home.”  Chrissy also says, that guys like Lee are like cakes with too much icing.  Jack, on the other hand, is all cake with a lot of layers!  I think that’s a very apt analogy of a fake person who’s full of shit as opposed to a person with depth, character, and substance.

I think the same could be said for certain businesses who have allowed themselves to become “culty” and too big for their britches. Before long, the quality product that helped them make their good name and form their reputation turns into nothing but “bullshit frosting”…. all icing, and no cake, as Chrissy says. So now, like quite a few others, I’m looking for financial services provided by an institution that is “all cake, with a lot of layers”, instead of just a bunch of pretty frosting.

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bad TV, celebrities, complaints, rants

No, I really don’t hate Alyssa Milano… (partial repost)

Today’s semi-fresh content comes, in part, courtesy of the video below, which recently came up in my Facebook memories.

Alyssa Milano and Wendy Williams bicker over breastfeeding.

I found today’s repost about a LDS woman getting slammed for breastfeeding in public a couple of days ago, after I saw the above video in my memories. I made a mental note to repost that blog entry from 2018. As I was doing that this morning, I also remembered Alyssa’s interview with Wendy Williams, and realized that it kind of went with the public breastfeeding repost. I was going to just include it with the repost, even though Alyssa Milano isn’t LDS and her campaigning for breastfeeding acceptance isn’t based so much on religious bullshit.

But then I remembered something else. Years ago, someone quoted my blog in a college paper about Alyssa Milano. They basically claimed that I was an Alyssa “hater”. I was pretty amused by that revelation. I certainly don’t hate Alyssa Milano. I never have. I don’t love every acting project she’s ever been involved with, but I most definitely respect her as a peer and an actress. I loved watching her on Who’s the Boss when I was a teenager, and on the original Melrose Place when I was a young woman. Hell, Alyssa Milano taught me about hickeys! And I got a huge kick out of watching her workout video, too!

So why did someone claim that I don’t like Alyssa Milano? It was because they found an old Writer’s Corner piece I wrote for Epinions.com many years ago and later rehashed on my original blog. In fact, I want to say I wrote that piece in January, because along with weight loss ads and gym membership plugs, January is also the prime time for various charities to run their guilt tripping fundraising campaigns.

In January 2012, eight years after I wrote my original Writer’s Corner Epinions piece about people like Sarah McLaughlin, Sally Struthers, the late Bonnie Franklin, and yes, Alyssa Milano, begging for donations for organizations like UNICEF, Christian Children’s Fund, and the ASPCA, I retooled the original essay into something semi new. A lot of people read it. The original stats for that rehashed post about charities netted almost 1700 hits, which for me, is a lot. To give you some perspective, most of my blog posts never crack 50 hits, although I seem to be getting more popular lately. I guess people are reading blogs more, given that they’re being encouraged to socially distance.

Anyway, I had written this retooled post about the annoying charity ads. In that post, I snarked on Alyssa Milano’s shilling for UNICEF, in which she begged viewers to send in “just 50 cents a day” to save children in developing countries. I found the ad very annoying and dared to say so in my rant.

Now, I never said I didn’t otherwise enjoy Alyssa Milano’s work, nor did I say anything disparaging about her as a person. I don’t even know Alyssa, after all. If I did know her, I’m sure I’d like her fine. I just didn’t like that ad, nor do I enjoy viewing others like it done by other celebrities. I’m all for raising money for good causes, and am happy to help when I can, but I don’t enjoy guilt trips or emotional blackmail, even if they are often employed as effective fundraising methods. I know January is when people start thinking about their taxes, and maybe that’s why these ads tend to hit a fever pitch in January. I just don’t like the melodrama.

In my 2012 post, I included a portion of my original 2004 era Writer’s Corner rant, which I will admit was a bit snarky and obnoxious. I was trying to be funny, I guess, since a lot of people enjoy a good snark fest. The Writer’s Corner pieces on Epinions were strictly done for fun and entertainment. We didn’t get paid for them. So I was just cutting loose a bit. I do remember that the 2004 post generated some really interesting comments and discussion. Epinions was good for that, since there were some genuinely talented writers there back in the day. In 2012, my blog wasn’t all that popular and, like today, I was probably searching for a compelling topic. That was during the time at which I didn’t even share it with anyone I knew. How was I to know that post would generate so much controversy several years later?

Anyway, fast forward to January 2016. I decided to check my hits on Statcounter. In those days, I would type in the first letters of my blog to find the Statcounter Web site. Although it’s not my policy to look for comments about me or my blog, on that particular day, I decided to look for results beyond the first two. I noticed that there were a few other blogs called “The Overeducated Housewife” or something similar, all of which were aborted after the first few posts. Those blogs were all started by women who, like me, had gone to school for a long time and wound up keeping house for whatever reason. I guess they all eventually got “lives”.

Then I noticed a few hits down, my blog was mentioned on a Tumblr fan site called CharmedXConfessions. It appears to be a fan site for the old show Charmed, starring Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, and Shannen Doherty.  I noticed that the mention of my blog on the Google results indicated that I’m “snarky, sarcastic, and condescending”.  Then I discovered that someone had written a college composition called  Alyssa Milano College Essay- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Below are portions of the essay, cut and pasted exactly as I found it, that pertain to me and my controversial blog post.

In contrast to this positive publicity, Alyssa Milano’s television pleas for UNICEF have also drawn detractors. One blog particularly singles out her commercials and those of Sarah McLachlan for the SPCA as “melodramatic pleas for donations…when I watch those ads I feel manipulated, emotionally blackmailed…even shamed” (Overeducated Housewife 1). This blog dissects and raises issues about the pictures/techniques used by UNICEF and other international children’s charities that form the backdrop for Milano’s and other pleas. The blog says these commercials show:

—the depiction of fly-covered, malnourished children with large eyes and anglicized names 

—the plea for only 50 cents or the cost of a cup of coffee daily 

—the shaming technique of repeatedly asking what’s your excuse for not calling

NOW to pledge support

This blog questions the use of charitable dollars to pay for expensive television advertising. It also asks whether the celebrity spokespeople are paid for these commercials. Finally this blog raises the question of whether these celebrities personally donate substantially to the causes they are asking others to support. A defender of Milano on Overeducated Housewife points to her $50,000 donation to UNICEF and challenge to corporations to do the same. But questions about the appropriateness of wealthy celebrities pleading for the disadvantaged, the use of charitable dollars for self-promotion, and the lavish staff salaries paid to the leadership of some of these charities (i.e. the CEO of UNICEF makes $454,855) remain and are echoed on UNICEF’s Facebook page, in other blogs and in circulating emails. Milano’s association with UNICEF could, in some circles, taint her as minimally naive or even worse, as complicit in these questionable uses of charitable dollars.
 

The Overeducated Housewife blog in general features a number of snarky, sarcastic and condescending articles on a broad range of topics. The majority of articles seem to be critiques of writers, celebrities or other public figures who the blogger does not like. The blog links to a Facebook page with the name “Knotty” (a pun on Naughty? A reference to the knotty issues it covers?). The face is blurred on a number of images including the profile picture so it appears this blogger is choosing to remain anonymous. Her motto on the blog is “just another boring blog about being a boring housewife.” This motto and the blog’s tone seem to define its audience as educated women who feel they are overeducated for the boring job of being a housewife. The critics of Milano’s involvement with UNICEF, in general, come across as whiny, rude, privileged and nit picking people who are criticizing both a charity and a celebrity who are seeking to impact some of the world’s most pressing and recalcitrant problems. They are not seen as positing positive alternatives, but simply as critiquing and seeking to tear down others’ efforts.

Wow… 😀

Back in January 2016, I was pretty amused by this person’s observations about me and my blog. It appears that he or she was really offended by my comments about celebrity fundraising ads. I don’t think the person spent very much time reading or exploring my blog. It’s hilarious that this person felt it was appropriate to use my comments in an attempt at writing a “scholarly paper” for a university course. I guess I should be flattered… or maybe I should just feel sad. Anything you say or write can and will be used for something, right?

For the record, I certainly didn’t devote an entire post to how annoying I think Alyssa Milano is. On the contrary, for many reasons, I admire Alyssa Milano very much. In fact, I also admire UNICEF and the good work it does to make the people of the world healthier and happier. I just didn’t like that particular UNICEF ad. I also think the commenter completely missed the point of that post.

It’s not that I object to celebrities who do fundraising for charities.  I object to the manipulative ways they go about doing that work. As a rank and file viewer, I find those types of slick ads tasteless and shameless, even if I do think the cause is overall a worthy pursuit. When I wrote that post, years before I was quoted in that paper, I didn’t even think anyone cared about my opinions. I certainly never thought they’d wind up quoted in a paper. I have since found myself used as a reference in multiple Wikipedia entries, too. Isn’t it funny that someone listed me in a bibliography as “knotty” the Overeducated Housewife? I have finally arrived!

My apparently controversial thoughts about Alyssa Milano, which were eventually mentioned in a college paper, were written before Alyssa Milano helped coin and popularize the #MeToo movement, I will admit, I was not initially on board with the #MeToo movement at all. I don’t like catchphrases, and I thought that hashtag movement would peter out, much like the pink vagina hats did. I was wrong about #MeToo, though, and I have since changed my mind about it, and its relevance. Like most women, I can definitely use that hashtag myself, as I have been harassed by men on occasion. I think Alyssa Milano is great for using her platform to give women a voice in that regard. And I applaud her for raising awareness for breastfeeding, as well as money for children in poor countries. I just don’t like guilt tripping, manipulative ads. What’s wrong with saying so on a personal blog? I AM still allowed to share my opinions as a regular person, aren’t I?

The following paragraphs appeared in my January 2016 rant about being misunderstood by a college student who thinks I’m “snarky, sarcastic, and condescending…” They are still how I feel in 2022, and include some information as to why I call myself “knotty”, why I named by blog what I did, and why my picture is “blurry”.

Celebrities who do good deeds are to be commended.  I think it’s great when someone with money and influence is able to effect positive changes in the world.  I don’t have a problem with anyone involved with charitable organizations, especially if they happen to be public figures.  However, as a bored housewife who sometimes watches too much TV (at least when I’m stateside), I am often irritated by the melodramatic, guilt-mongering, begging commercials for charities.  That’s just my opinion, and I feel free to state it on my personal blog. 

I didn’t realize it was my duty to always be uplifting, positive, and looking for ways to make the world a better place.  But I am flattered that the person critiquing my blogging efforts apparently feels that I am important enough to have that role.  It’s funny, because only on my blog has anyone seemed to care much what my opinions are.  Past commenters have chastised me for being too negative and reminding me that I have a “wide audience” out there in Internetland.  According to them, I have a “responsibility” to always be fair, kind, honest, and positive when I write my posts.  Ha!  Actually, I find the above comments about my “overly critical” attitude toward Alyssa Milano’s UNICEF commercials kind of rich.  Isn’t the author of the English composition guilty of the same thing?

My nickname “knotty” is short for knotheadusc, which is an Internet handle I came up with around 1999 or so. Originally, I just wanted to call myself “knothead”. That was what my dad used to call me all the time when I was a kid and it seemed appropriate to call myself that at the time. Others had the same idea, since I frequently found that name taken when I tried to register it on different Web sites. Since I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina at the time, I added the letters USC to the end of “knothead”. After awhile, people who got to know me online started calling me “knotty”. When I started this blog, I was trying to stay somewhat anonymous, mainly because I didn’t want trouble from my husband’s ex wife or others I vent my spleen about. So I called myself knotty on my blog. The nickname “knotty” is not a play on the word “naughty”, though some people might think it fits. They’d probably be right. Honestly, had the paper writer just asked me, I would have gladly explained it.

Anyway, now that my husband’s kids are adults, I don’t care so much if people know who I am. My real name is Jenny. I have even mentioned it a few times on this blog. Call me that if you think it’s more appropriate than “knotty” is. The blurred pictures the commenter mentions are probably more because I’m a shitty photographer and feel too ugly to show my face, than a real desire to stay anonymous. But even now that you know my name, wouldn’t I still kind of be anonymous to most people? What difference does it make what I call myself or if I show my photo, if you don’t actually know me personally? This blog was never intended to be used as a professional source for anything or anyone. Moreover, it doesn’t look like the paper writer was interested in knowing the real me, since he or she made many disparaging assumptions about my character and never bothered to engage me to find out if they were valid.

As for the title of the blog, I named it so because I spent seven years in college and I am a housewife.  It’s not because I think I’m “too good” to be a housewife.  On the contrary, I actually feel like even if I wanted to find a full time job, no one would want to hire me.  And yet, I do have all this formal education, which is not required for me to do what I do every day.  I am not bragging about my education.  As a matter of fact, I sometimes wish I’d been smart enough to just stick with my bachelor’s degree.  It would be nice not to have to pay so much for degrees I don’t use (although Bill paid off my education loans in 2018).  I surely don’t look down on housewives.  How could I?  I have been one myself for a long time.  I’m not even a very good housewife.  

Most people who read this blog are drivebys looking for information on specific topics.  The person who thinks I’m snarky, condescending, and sarcastic clearly only read my post about UNICEF, and maybe glanced at a couple of other posts to get a very basic idea of what this blog is about.  This blog has existed since 2010, and has posts about a huge array of topics. I don’t think the commenter got the most accurate picture of The Overeducated Housewife’s contents, nor did they seem to care much about fairness or accuracy.

I was a student once, too, and I’m pretty sure the author’s ideas about me and my blog were not at all personal and were gleaned very quickly. Shucks! He or she probably just wanted to finish their paper, and used my comments about charities as something to flesh out their required essay. And it’s also not lost on me that I’ve done the same thing with today’s blog entry.

Folks, let me remind you that I’m just a regular middle-aged woman living life.  If I come across as snarky, sarcastic, and condescending and you find that offensive, I do apologize.  I am just being myself.  Not everyone likes me, but that’s true for every living person because it’s impossible to please everybody.  This blog was more or less originally meant as a place for me to vent.  Contrary to apparent belief, my blog is not that popular.  I do have some readers who lurk and read everyday, but there really aren’t that many.  Even fewer bother to comment.  

I hope the composition earned a good grade, though if I really wanted to be snarky, sarcastic, and condescending, I could probably rip that paper to shreds using my overeducated English lit skills.  I won’t bother, though, because I have better things to do with all the time on my hands.  I think I’ll go troll YouTube and see if there’s anything there begging me to write one of my “snarky” blog posts.  Bonus points for something I can rag on posted by a public figure. For those who are curious, below are a few somewhat recent pictures of me. I don’t put on makeup very often these days, so I usually look more like the third picture.

July 2021.
Sometime last spring, I think… I need a new selfie.
But even in this photo, I have on makeup…
And this was the 2015 era photo I used for the 2016 post. Maybe it’s time I colored my hair again.

This scenario is why I don’t make it a habit to look myself up on Google. Most people think the worst of others, and never take the time to learn the whole truth. But, just in case anyone wonders, no, I don’t hate Alyssa Milano. I think she’s basically an excellent actress and role model. But I am glad I am not in the US, watching her ilk beg for 50 cents a day, either. What’s wrong with that?

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