Last night, as we were having a much too spicy dinner from Lieferando (food delivery), Bill and I read about how a missile somehow struck Poland near the Ukrainian border. A couple of people were killed. Bill, being in the business he’s in, immediately got concerned, since Poland is a member of NATO. This morning, I’m waking up to the news that Biden says the missile was likely not fired from Russia. The missile was apparently Russian, but may have been fired from Ukraine or somewhere else. Still, it raises the fears of people who worry that World War III could be on the horizon. It’s especially bad that this happened in Poland, where there is a US military presence. Three years ago, Bill and I actually went to Poland for our anniversary, because he had to work there for a week. I’ve come to love Poland, and its people.
I’m also learning that– BIG SURPRISE– Donald Trump is running for president again in 2024. Of course we knew this would happen. Trump won’t stop trying to be president again as long as there is breath in his bloated orange body. I just hope he does his part to stop DeSantis from being president. It’s time we moved on from the whole Trump schtick and elected people who are young and smart enough to do a good job, and people who actually care about others, instead of enriching themselves and getting drunk on power.
I suppose history is being made right now. It’s always being made, actually, but some times are obviously more historic than others are. This time will probably be very historic in the future. Maybe it will even be on par with the Hitler era. But I hope it won’t… and I hope we can enjoy our anniversary weekend in France. James Taylor was able to play his show in Stockholm last night, although I don’t know how it went. He’s going to Copenhagen next, then will appear in Frankfurt, if all goes well. I always find great comfort and solace in James Taylor’s music. I always have, especially when I was much younger and suffered acutely from depression and anxiety. I know he had those demons, too, and his actually led to a stay at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts… a place where Ex once stayed, too. I don’t think her treatment was quite as effective, though. In any case, it seems that James is suffering less from mental health issues now, and more from things like COVID… which is another bad thing that makes life more difficult for all of us.
I think what helps me to cope is realizing that there have been times that were as bad or worse than now. Or maybe it was always as bad, just in different ways, and the scope of badness depended a lot on where a person happened to be at the time. I’m sure, for instance, that World War II was more horrifying for Europeans than it was for Americans. And the same would be true for World War I. It looks like the same would be true in case of World War III, since it seems to be provoked by Putin. But there were things going on in the United States during those times that would also make life harder. Having a corrupt, incompetent, blowhard fool like Trump in charge again would certainly make things worse for many of us. Those who like Donald Trump are blind and ignorant to who he really is. I just hope there aren’t enough of them to put him in power again. I am optimistic, though, thanks to last week’s elections. We showed that most of us are not that stupid… at least not anymore.
There’s nothing any of us can do about the missile strike in Poland, so there’s no reason to worry. But Bill and I can have a nice time in France, and then, hopefully, enjoy James Taylor one more time. I hope it won’t be the last time… but again, none of us are getting any younger. There’s always an asshole lurking in the midst, waiting for the chance to step into power. I fear Trump less than I do the more polished looking turds who are waiting to seize the chance to get in power. Trump, at least, is brutally honest about who he is. We’ve all been warned. And maybe he will prevent a slicker version of himself from entering the White House. Meanwhile, I hope we can elect someone who can do something about Putin, who really seems hellbent on world destruction. He’s a much bigger threat and danger to the world than Trump is, especially right now.
Anyway… I smell breakfast cooking, and I have a couple of chores to do before we can light out of here for Alsace. I’ll probably write while we’re in France, because we’ll have the dogs with us, and that might limit our ability to do a lot of stuff. But I do look forward to the change of scenery, and some lovely new wines… Maybe we’ll fit in a few tastings.
Happy Wednesday! By the way… this song played on my HomePod last night. It seems almost weirdly appropriate. Wonder what ever happened to Bobby McFerrin… I was in high school when this was a hit. Time flies!
I’m trying to relax, now that the dentist visit is over. In six months, we’ll go back, and the dentist will refill my baby tooth, which is probably going to disintegrate very soon. Then I’ll get an implant.
I read some news about Putin, and about the MAGA assholes in the USA who want to destroy the country and turn it into Gilead Jr. If I were at home, I’d be writing about that. But I am still in the beautiful Schwarzwald, and I need to relax and enjoy it. This winter could be tough, and this may be the last time we can do something like this for awhile…
I gotta say, it really pisses me off that the world went through COVID shit for two years, and now we have a bunch of autocratic idiots running amok, wanting to take over the planet. It’s infuriating. Putin is illegally trying to annex parts of Ukraine, and fuckheads like Matt Gaetz are openly talking about overthrowing the government. It’s absolutely insane!
If you’re not on vacation and trying to relax, I strongly recommend watching this video and listening to Matt Gaetz. He’s a madman, and needs to be stopped. I wish people would wake up and do their part. This is what being obsessed with $1.89 gas and forced birthing gets us.
Anyway… that about does it for today’s check in. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll write a real post. Or maybe we’ll do something fun.
The last few months have been really strange. Several people who were part of my life in some way have passed away. I just got the news that our beloved Arran is terminally ill with lymphoma, a cancer. Putin is threatening to use nukes if he doesn’t get control of Ukraine. Donald Trump’s legal woes deepen by the minute. And Britain has a brand new king, because his beloved mother finally passed the bar. I suppose it stands to reason that my stomach hurts a little bit… just enough to be annoying and get me to drink tea instead of coffee.
Hell, even my phone is changing. Yesterday, Apple launched a big update, and I updated most of my stuff, with the exception of my watch and my Apple Touch, which is too full of music to handle an update. I just tried to update the watch, and was informed that I have to update my phone before I could update the watch. So I just finished doing that, and now the watch is updating. My phone says it’ll take two hours. I notice the latest update was a pretty substantial one. The display on my phone is different now, and the phone prompted me to set up a new audio setting that involved letting the camera see my ears, get the angles of my face, and figure out optimal audio. I guess, anyway. I find that as I get older, I have less interest in figuring out everything my gadgets can do.
The season is changing from summer to fall. Days are getting shorter. Temperatures are noticeably cooler. Pretty soon, the trees will be changing, and there will be a lot more rain.
Soon, we’ll have just one dog instead of two and, for the first time since 2002, there won’t be a beagle mix in our midst. I was thinking about that last night at about 5:00pm, as we were waiting for Bill to get home from work. Arran has a routine most nights. He goes down to the foyer and waits near the door for Bill to come home. Last night, Bill was a little later than usual because he needed to stop by the store. I had asked him to get some canned pumpkin for Arran, as it’s soothing to his stomach. He wasn’t able to go to the commissary, and couldn’t find canned pumpkin in the German store, so he bought a fresh one and roasted it. Arran was a little confused by it this morning, but did eat it. He didn’t finish his breakfast, though.
Some of the changes that are happening are good things. I see progress being made in repairing some of the damage wrought by Donald Trump, although some people are stubbornly trying to defend him and deny that he’s guilty as hell. Yesterday, someone else tried to bait me into an argument, just based on that one comment I left on Amy Klobuchar’s page. I automatically wished him a good day, after reminding him that it’s still okay to disagree with one another.
I was relieved to read about how the “special master” Trump demanded that Trump “put up or shut up”. Trump couldn’t do it, so the documents he allegedly stole from the White House will be used as evidence as an indictment hangs over him, along with many lawsuits. I suspect this is probably going to ruin a certain small town judge’s reputation, too… for being Trump’s flunky. I really hope Trump is brought to justice. I also hope that people don’t lose their fucking minds if he is brought to justice… but you just can’t tell anymore. Everyone seems to be so angry lately. I long for normalcy, but maybe this is the new normal. Maybe people are going to be angry from now on.
I read this morning that people in Russia, having been told that Putin is about to draft people to fight his pointless war against Ukraine, are trying to flee to other countries. In a very strange twist, it seems that a lot of Russians are heading to Armenia and Turkey, where they don’t need visas. Why? Because they don’t want to fight and die for Putin’s ego, which is what this is all about. It’s very strange to read about this turn of events, though. When I lived in Armenia, Armenians were trying to leave to the country, and they were going to Russia, Europe, Australia or the United States. Now, people are flocking to them for safety. Something needs to be done about Putin, too.
We’re supposed to go away next week… I’ve really been looking forward to it. But now I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go. We’ll probably go anyway, though, as things get weirder and weirder. We might as well. Winter is coming, and this one might be a tough one.
This post is turning out to be about a lot about nothing… I have so much on my mind that it’s hard to settle on one thing. So maybe it’s time to stop writing and do something else, until I can settle on one specific topic. The featured photo is of Arran last night, who tucked himself into bed between Bill and me. He is the sweetest dog… and I am trying to enjoy him, as I know he’s going to be leaving us soon. Losing Arran is probably going to be the toughest change to get used to by far. Maybe he’s the lucky one.
I’m getting a bit of a late start this morning. Those new Comphy sheets I got on Monday are the BOMB. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to like them more than the first set I bought in 2015, but I definitely do. For one thing, I love the fact that they’re navy blue instead of pukey green. For another, they just feel better on many levels. They fit the bed better– the old ones were too big, supposedly to account for pillow top mattresses– and the texture is soft and smooth, but not too silky. I don’t know… they’re just nicer. And for what I paid for them, they really ought to be! Even Bill, who doesn’t care about comfort as much as I do, has commented that he loves them and they help him sleep better.
Anyway, those new sheets were inviting today, since our previously beautiful weather of last week and Monday has vanished. Today, it’s cold and rainy. After breakfast, instead of going to my computer to write, I went back to bed, watched a couple of videos, and started reading my latest book, which made me feel drowsy. So I put the book down and dozed a bit. And now, it’s 9:30am, and I’m finally writing something fresh.
I put up four reposts yesterday, which wasn’t my plan. I had put up one post from the original blog because I was still ruminating on what to write about yesterday. Then I noticed a couple of posts that were kind of important when I initially posted them in 2013 and 2014, and I realized that they were evergreen enough to go up as reposts. And in one of those posts was an old book review, which I like to preserve when I can. By the time I was done reposting and editing, I had spent a couple of hours, and I didn’t figure anyone would be looking for fresh content. Or maybe I just didn’t feel like writing it.
Later yesterday afternoon, I noticed a Facebook friend had posted a “peevish” status update, which appears below:
I am mentioning the above post today because I’ve seen similar sentiments from other people about how some people’s priorities are askew. Some people are passively calling out others because we’re discussing incidents like Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock at the Oscars, instead of other issues they think are more important. It occurred to me that I’m a relatively complex person. I can think about more than one issue at a time. I can discuss more than one issue at a time. Though I have both of these abilities, I should be allowed to discuss what I want to without someone else calling me out over it. There’s nothing to say that you have to participate in a discussion about Will Smith’s slap if you don’t want to do that. And there’s nothing to say that I can’t discuss it with those who are interested.
I mention myself in this post, but I don’t think the people complaining about “messed up priorities” were necessarily calling me out specifically. I guess I just want to address how reading those statuses made me feel. It’s yet another weird aspect of our current online obsessed/social media engaged society that baffles me. How is it that we feel the need to chastise our friends, loved ones, colleagues, acquaintances, and perfect strangers about their priorities? What makes us feel like we have the right to criticize others about what they feel like discussing? Especially when they’re doing it on their own spaces? We always have the choice to engage or not, right?
It occurs to me that I am not the type of person who needs to be “encouraged” to be in a stew about anything. I am a card carrying member of the “Easily Pissed Club”. Last week, I was pissed off at USAA… and by the way, I’m still waiting for my new debit card, which they reminded me to activate a couple of days ago. It hasn’t arrived yet, cuz APO sucks. I’m still pissed at PenFed, because I tried twice to open a new checking account with them and couldn’t because of an “error” in their system. Twice, they said they would look into it and contact me again. They haven’t, so I’ve given up on that. Navy Federal took five days to tell Bill that his eligibility documents were too blurry, so we’re still waiting for them to approve him as a member, so I can also join. These are just “stew-worthy” events from my personal life involving my finances.
Then there’s the whole ongoing COVID drama, which Germany refuses to let up on. We were supposed to have “Freedom Day” on March 20, but most of the states opted to continue the ridiculous restrictions until April 2. And now, some city officials are saying they’re going to declare cities “hotspots” so they can continue the restrictions– FFP2 masks required everywhere, social distancing, vaccination checks, and tests. Yesterday, I read an editorial in The Local Germany written by a guy who had gone to Sweden and anticipated coming back to Germany after our so-called non-existent “Freedom Day”. In Sweden, all of the COVID shit has been dropped and, guess what… Sweden’s COVID numbers are supposedly not that different than Germany’s are.
The heavier masks and vaccination checks aren’t stopping the spread of the virus, and they’re keeping Germans and the rest of us who live here in a never ending psychological morass of fear and doom. While countries all around us are dispensing with COVID rules, Germany stubbornly clings to them. Meanwhile, those of us who are fed up with the onerous rules are going to those other countries for our vacations and, perhaps, picking up the virus there. Or we’re staying here and getting the virus, in spite of the fucking heavy masks, which most people don’t bother to wear properly, anyway.
A guy we buy wine from has been trying to convince us to go to Italy at the end of April. We probably won’t do it because of COVID and the annoying COVID rules that would make such an excursion less likely to be fun. Italy has relaxed a lot of rules, but thanks to the psychological trauma that has occurred over the past two years, I’m just not ready to plunge in yet. I think COVID is here to stay, and our best bet is to get vaccinated, take reasonable precautions, and live our lives. The endless restrictions are not effective and no longer make sense. And they take a lot of joy out of living, too. See? I can be in a “stew” about that, too. I’m sure a lot of people– the guy who inspired this post included– would give me shit about my complaints about COVID. But I mention them, only because he apparently has a problem with people who are discussing Will Smith’s altercation with Chris Rock.
And finally, there’s the war in Ukraine, which of course is a terrible situation. I have never been to Ukraine, but I would have liked the opportunity to visit at some point. I have been inspired and enchanted by the stories of courage that have come out since Putin’s invasion. I also know people who are personally touched by the war in Ukraine. I absolutely feel for the people there. But my talking and posting about it isn’t going to change anything. There’s not a lot I can do about Ukraine, except donate money and items like clothing and shoes for those who have been made refugees. I have already donated some clothes and have made a point of buying Ukrainian products when I can. And I can continue to hear the stories about the war and the people who are affected by it. I can do that, and still have an opinion about Will Smith and Chris Rock. Not posting about Ukraine 24/7 doesn’t make me a morally deficient person whose priorities are lacking.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty goddamned sick and tired of people shaming others all the time. I especially think it’s out of place on Facebook, which is supposed to be a place where people connect. Wasn’t it originally supposed to be a fun activity, reconnecting with old friends and keeping in touch with relatives and such? When did people decide Facebook was the place to try to make other people feel like shit for not having the right “priorities”? Maybe the guy who inspired today’s post didn’t intend to make me feel “bad”– and even if it was his intent to do that, he didn’t succeed anyway. But the tone of that post is pretty shaming, in my opinion. Who put him in charge of policing other people’s reactions to current events?
I think it’s okay for people to have different priorities. Wouldn’t the world be a very boring place if we all talked about the same things? Isn’t it better that we have differing opinions? Can’t we learn from each other by discussing things in a civilized way? I know I’ve learned new things from having respectful conversations with other people. But honestly, most of us don’t need another reason to feel bad.
I also don’t think it’s wrong to have a discussion about what happened at the Oscars. There are even a number of angles that can be explored. For instance, one of my friends thinks it’s possible that Will Smith might have been under the influence of something when he reacted to Chris Rock’s lame joke. She also thinks it’s possible Jada Pinkett Smith might have even instigated Smith’s violent reaction. I don’t know anything about the Smiths’ relationship, but I do know that Will Smith’s choice to hit Chris Rock cast a real pall over what should have been a positive and family friendly event. It wasn’t until yesterday that I heard about how Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli had a touching moment. Wouldn’t it have been nice if we could have heard about that as much as we did about Will Smith and Chris Rock? Isn’t it worth discussing that? As long as it’s all civilized, anyway…
Just re-reading my title for this post, I suppose I could just mention that I think it’s possible to suffer from “outrage overload”. I don’t need to be encouraged to be more outraged. I can handle that condition pretty easily on my own, thanks. And I don’t need more stress or worry in my life. I don’t need more shame, either. I think that’s true for a lot of us. I will continue to expect the worst and hope for the best. A little bit of fun, joy, and lively discussion is what keeps life worth living.
Yesterday, I noticed a couple of my friends shared the post that serves as today’s featured photo. The quote has been attributed to the author, Marguerite Quantaine. Although I am an avid reader, I’m not familiar with Marguerite Quantaine’s work, so I’m not sure why I would be influenced by her over anyone else. Nevertheless, she (or her social media “person”) makes a pretty good point about individual choices most of us have the power to make as the costs of gas and other products rise. I saw her post being shared by different people on my friends list, who had also seen it shared by their own friends. In reading the comments on her original post, I noticed that Quantaine’s comments were actually made by a “cyber-liaison”, as Marguerite herself has been “indisposed” since October 2021.
However, while I agree with Quantaine’s statement about what we can do to mitigate high gas prices, I’m not so sure the higher gas prices can only be attributed to the war in Ukraine, at least not in the United States. Gas in the US mostly comes from sources other than Russia. Now, here in the European Union, it’s a different story. A lot more of the gas supply comes from Russia. But people over here are used to paying a lot for gas. That’s not to say they like to pay so much for gas, but at least there’s a trade off. For instance, generally speaking, it costs much less over here to get medical treatment than it does in the United States.
I clicked on one the posts that was shared by someone who apparently shared from Marguerite Quantaine’s page. There were a few dozen comments there. The very first one came from a man who is clearly a conservative voter. I just went back to the original post to re-read what the guy wrote, only to find that the post was apparently “cleaned up”. The “hater” comments were deleted. So I decided to visit Quantaine’s page, to see if there were any similar comments. There were, but none that made the statement that inspired me to write this post today. I’m going to have to rely on my memory. Fortunately, my memory is still pretty awesome, in spite of my wine habit.
So this guy, who appeared to be a “boomer”, basically wrote that all he cares about is being able to buy affordable gas. And he thinks that we should just exploit all of the resources we have in the United States. Another poster shamed him, reminding him that fracking and drilling will ruin what little is left of the natural beauty in our environment. The guy came back and wrote that the damage would be “minimal”, and he would be able to run his car.
I had a look at the guy’s profile picture and noticed that he appeared to have a family. There was a woman with him who appeared to be his age, and several attractive adults and kids. It looked like he loves his family very much. Unfortunately, the first thought that came into my mind, was that he must not actually love them that much, if he’s not concerned about the state of the environment and our dependence on fossil fuels. He’s only concerned about what’s happening right now. He probably won’t be around for that much longer, so the lasting damage to the environment likely won’t affect him too much. But it will definitely affect those grandchildren of his. He seems to love his grandchildren, yet he’s not concerned about what lies ahead for them.
I’m going to turn 50 in June. As winter is ending here in Germany, I’ve thought a lot about how different the climate is in 2022 compared to what it was like in the 80s, when I was a teenager. I remember back in the 80s, some people were concerned about the environment. I even remember there was a 1989 episode on this topic on the hit NBC sitcom, Family Ties. In the episode, “Rain Forests Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, the character, Jennifer (Tina Yothers), is studying ecology in school and gets fixated on making changes that would protect the environment. She encourages her family to adopt more Earth friendly lifestyle choices, to the point of being very annoying. But ultimately, she gets very depressed and has to see a counselor. I watched that episode maybe a year or two ago, and remembered how Jennifer’s family tried to console her. Now, 33 years later, that episode seems very prescient.
A couple of days ago, I noticed a picture an acquaintance posted on Facebook of her little daughter. The girl was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It’s not even mid March yet. I remember when I was a child, March was still a pretty cold month, even in Virginia. I asked her what the temperatures were in North Carolina, where they now live. She said it was in the 80s.
Here in Germany, I’ve noticed there’s less snow that there was even fifteen years ago. The winter in Wiesbaden was rainy and chilly, but not particularly cold. When we lived here the first time, I would not have dared go outside with bare feet in the winter. I could and did go out barefoot sometimes over this past winter. Granted, I don’t think Wiesbaden gets as much snow as Stuttgart gets, since it’s not as elevated. But I would have expected at least one good snow in which there wasn’t immediate melting. We really didn’t get any of that this year… or since we’ve been here. I’m pretty sure this is global warming in action. The guy who made that comment about not caring about anything but gas prices probably denies it exists. But how else can we explain why the weather has been so much warmer in recent years?
I do understand that Quantaine’s suggestions in her viral Facebook post might not be feasible for everyone. I’ve had the experience of living in parts of the United States where public transportation is scarce. I’ve worked at jobs that required lengthy commutes. Moreover, I am not a fan of “preachy” Facebook posts in the form of memes that can be passed around like a plate of stale hors d’oeuvres. I guess it just shocks me that so many people are self-centered to the point at which they brazenly state it outright. The guy who was enthusiastically responding in that post really came off as a selfish asshole. And yet, it’s easy to see that he’s a much beloved person, with many family members who evidently appreciate him.
In another example, I noticed a thread by a friend who is also former fellow Epinions writer. This person has a lot of people on his friends list that are no longer on mine, for whatever reason. He posted a statement about how the United States can be more energy independent by encouraging people to buy fuel efficient vehicles and vote for using more renewable resources. He got a lot of responses from other former Epinions members. One response came from a guy I used to have a lot more respect for than I do today. This guy is one of those “me and mine” types– as in, “I’ve got mine, and that’s all that matters to me.” I unfriended him several years ago after his relentless pushing of his conservative views became too obnoxious on my page. This guy had a habit of shaming me for being pro-choice or having opinions that were progressive. I used to refer to him as “Papa Smurf”, because he often tried to act like everyone’s daddy and lecture them when their views didn’t align with his. It got to be very annoying. In fact, I believe my parting words to him were, “Fuck off, Phil.”
Anyway, I noticed that Papa Smurf posted a response to my friend’s suggestion that everyone should use more Earth sustaining vehicles and adopt practices that preserve the environment. Below are his comments, which I think kind of echo the entitled “fuck you all” attitude I noticed the “boomer” stranger had shared on Marguerite Quantaine’s post.
The above comment isn’t as bad as others I’ve seen him make. Like I said, there was a time when I didn’t see the conservative “boomer” side to his personality. I liked him fine when we could just talk about travel. I got a first inkling that he was kind of a jerk when we happened to be at an Epinions social event and he was openly talking about undertipping the wait staff because he had to wait for his dinner. Then years later, we’d clash on Facebook when I would be snarky and “tasteless” (in his opinion) in my comments about certain current events and political ideals. He would chastise me on my own page, which is a “no no”. You ain’t my daddy, Papa Smurf.
Anyway… to me it’s just a reflection of a tragic attitude some people have regarding the environment. They don’t seem too concerned about how today’s practices and policies might be paid for by tomorrow’s adults. Once again, I’m glad I didn’t manage to have children. I look at my husband’s daughter’s adorable son and daughter, and think about the little boy who will soon join them. I worry about what it might be like for them… and I’m glad my life is likely at least halfway over. This war in Ukraine, coupled with the coronavirus, are probably going to change life as we know it… and likely not for the better. Not unless we work together to come up with ways to mitigate the damages done. I think humans are technically capable of adapting our practices for the better… but unfortunately, selfishness and greed often get in the way.
I’ve noticed that electric cars are increasingly popular in Europe. There are a lot of places where one can plug in their vehicles. When we bought our Volvo in 2019, we were told that very soon, Volvo will stop making gas powered cars. I have been giving some serious thought to making my next car a hybrid or an electric. But I rarely drive much anymore, anyway. Unfortunately, I think it will take more time for electric cars to catch on in the United States. They are expensive, and it’s a concept that may be hard for some people to embrace. People tend to like to stick with what they know. For instance, it took me a long time to switch from Windows to a Mac. 😉
I do think, though, that if our species is to survive in relative comfort, we’re going to have to make some changes. And while I don’t think the higher gas prices are entirely caused by the war in Ukraine (the pandemic also contributed), I do agree that at this point, those of us who aren’t in Ukraine are lucky… for now. However, I also think that this thing could actually turn into yet another global event very soon if something lasting is not done about Putin. He’s gone much further than people thought he would… perhaps he sees this stunt as a way to ride out of this world in a blaze of glory. Frankly, I wouldn’t be averse to that… as long as he makes an exit from the world stage soon.
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