communication, complaints, rants

It’s possible to be outraged about more than one thing at a time…

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:

No disrespect to the person who posted this, but it’s entirely possible for people to be “in a stew” about more than one thing at a time. And quite frankly, I don’t need to be encouraged.

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.

Standard
controversies, disasters, technology, the environment

The latest viral post…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard
politics, rants, religion

“Christians” who complain about gas prices have missed the plot…

Last night, my former tenth grade homeroom teacher, now serving as president of a Christian university located in the American South, posted a shoutout to people who live in his community. My former homeroom teacher– a truly awesome guy and inspired leader, by the way– shared the news that a local gas station owner had announced that he still had gas priced at $3.68 a gallon. The gas station owner was encouraging people to fill their tanks while the “cheaper” gas was still available. As soon as the next shipment of gas arrived, the gas prices would have to go up.

Naturally, a lot of people were commenting about that, because Americans aren’t used to having to pay so much for gasoline. One person wrote a bitter complaint about the high gas prices, ending her rant with “Let’s go, Brandon.”

Before I knew it, I had responded “That’s not his fault.”

A minute later, she dashed off a response to me, as did someone else. I’m pretty sure there were a couple of “laughing” reactions, too. I didn’t bother to read the comments the people left, because I had a feeling they would be snarky and argumentative in nature. It was time for bed, and I didn’t want to get charged up over politics before trying to go to sleep. Also, I really respect my former tenth grade homeroom teacher, and I didn’t want to get involved in an argument on his Facebook page. Especially since I know he’s a devout Christian, and I have a tendency to be salty sometimes. Particularly when it’s later in the evening. 😉

I know I should have probably kept scrolling… because these folks have made up their minds about Joe Biden, and they truly believe he’s the cause of everything wrong in the world. There’s nothing I can say or write to change their minds. They think Joe Biden is responsible for the high gas prices, even though they are just plain WRONG.

I don’t think Joe Biden is the most charismatic leader we’ve ever had, but I do think he’s basically a decent person who cares about others. That’s a lot more than I could ever say about Donald Trump. And– before anyone points this out to me– I want to make it clear that I never thought Trump was responsible for everything bad in the world, either. I think Trump is an inherently bad person because of proven bad things he’s said and done, not because of his so-called political party. I don’t believe that all Republicans are evil. I do think quite a lot of them are selfish, ignorant, narcissistic, and completely out of touch with other people. But I know that not all of them are that way, and in fact, many Democrats are just as out of touch. I think today’s Republican Party, on the whole, is a bastardization of what the Republican Party used to be, years ago. A lot of people identify as Republicans and don’t think twice about it. They just keep aligning with the party they’ve always aligned with, even though quite a few Republican leaders are truly reprehensible people. But again, there are some truly crappy Democrats, too.

But anyway, I didn’t want to get into a political argument on my old teacher’s page, so I removed the notifications that the people prompted for me, turned out the light, and went to sleep. However, before I fell asleep, I noticed that an Epinions buddy from Texas, a man who is a doctoral level Christian minister who seems to really practice what he preaches, shared today’s featured photo on his Facebook page.

I thought about it for a minute and shared the same photo on my page, with a reminder for Christians in the United States who are bitching about gas prices. Right now, in Germany, gas is the euro equivalent of about $8 a gallon. Gas has always been significantly higher priced in Europe, which has much better public transportation systems and higher taxes than the United States has. I can remember being shocked when I heard that Germans were paying the equivalent of $5 a gallon. Of course, over here, gas is sold by the liter. Someone pointed that out to me on my page, and I explained that I had put my comment in terms of gallons because I’m addressing Americans, many of whom don’t travel abroad and have no concept of the metric system. My overall point is, gas is expensive in a lot of places, and that’s not Biden’s fault.

Then I thought about it some more, and it suddenly struck me as totally ridiculous that Christians are complaining about gas prices. Where is the outrage over the high prices of housing, food, and medical care? These are basic necessities for every person on the planet. Whenever a politician wants to tackle the high prices associated with basic needs, they get accused of pushing socialism. Most Republicans don’t like paying for social safety nets for people who are in need. Many Republicans assume that anyone who is poor, or sick, or food insecure is that way due to their own fault. They preach about personal responsibility, and push laws that are designed to punish or humiliate people who are in need. They lament the prospect of socialized medicine in the United States that might make healthcare more affordable for everyone. But God forbid they have to pay more for the gas to fill up those monster sized trucks and land yachts they drive to jobs that enrich other people…

I think Christians who are more concerned about high gas prices, than they are outrageous healthcare, housing, and food prices, have extremely fucked up priorities. Christians are supposed to follow the example of Jesus Christ, aren’t they? So if you’re really a Christian, shouldn’t you actually be concerned about people in need? Didn’t Christ care about hungry, sick, tired, and suffering people? Wasn’t Christ humble and gentle? Would Jesus complain about high gas prices and blame the U.S. president for something that is happening mostly due to world events?

Everybody needs housing, healthcare, and food. Not everybody needs to gas up cars. Granted, in the United States, cars are generally a lot more necessary than they are in Europe. However, even though Americans need cars more than Europeans do, they still aren’t necessary for living. I think in the coming weeks, we may all collectively discover why our dependence on cheap gas makes us weaker in so many ways.

What really amazes me, though, is this sudden understanding and affinity some Republicans have for Russia, and for Putin’s complaints about Ukraine. A lot of these people– Trump supporters– have #Pray for Ukraine posts on their social media pages. But don’t they realize that Donald Trump is Putin’s fan boy? Don’t they know that if Trump were still in office, Trump wouldn’t say much about what Putin is doing to Ukraine? Trump and Putin have a lot in common… although I think Putin is a lot smarter and, unfortunately, even more sociopathic than Trump is.

When I was a kid, the 1984 movie Red Dawn was released. I remember watching that movie and thinking– DAMN!– if the Soviet Union ever invades the United States, I will be signing up to fight! I was brave and naive when I was twelve! That movie was loaded with right-wing, God bless America, anti-Soviet propaganda bullshit. It was a very violent film that made Russians out to be terrible people as a whole. In 1984, a lot of Americans were legitimately worried about nuclear war. In the 80s, many Americans openly disdained communist Soviet Union and its people, even though most of us knew very little about the Soviet Union. It was a closed society, so it wasn’t easy to mingle with people from there. But watch television from the 80s, and you will see MANY references to nukes and how awful Russia is… and a lot of that propaganda was promoted by Republicans.

Then came 1991… and the Soviet Union fell apart. A few years after that, I went to live in the former Soviet Union. It changed my life. I now count some former Soviets as friends. I started seeing things from a different perspective. I no longer saw the Soviet Union as one big country. I now see that it was comprised of fifteen diverse republics full of amazing people who mostly want and need the same things I want and need. For a couple of decades, it looked like maybe we could finally be friends with people from Russia and other former Soviet countries. Maybe our governments could cooperate with each other and act for the benefit of humanity. Then came Putin… and he’s acting like a domestic abuser punishing his mate for refusing to marry him. Ukraine doesn’t want to be in a relationship with Russia anymore. Russia won’t take no for an answer and is forcing itself on the Ukrainian people… like an abusive ex who won’t go away. I must credit Bill for providing me with that imagery. Bill understands the abusive spouse dynamic better than I ever could… but when he presented that example to me, it struck me as how insightful it is.

Someday, maybe this ugly Soviet era building will be rebuilt into something more akin to Ukrainian tastes. But for now, this picture represents profound loss and suffering… and people who have lost everything.

I saw a photo of a burning building in Ukraine this morning. I noticed how ugly and depressing that building was. I remember living in a couple of buildings that looked just like it when I lived in Armenia. As I looked at the above image, it occurred to me that someday, that burning building will probably be rebuilt. It might even be rebuilt into something much better on all levels. That will probably take years, though, and for now, the fact remains that this ugly building on fire was home for some people who have now lost everything. And in America, we have a bunch of so-called Christians blaming Joe Biden for the fact that they have to pay more for gas. It’s ridiculous, short-sighted, and shameful. And now, Republicans seem to be on Putin’s side, even as they “pray for Ukraine”. I guess they pray for Ukraine to hurry up and submit so they can get cheap gas again, and the stock market will rebound. Perhaps they think Ukraine should just “make the best of a bad situation”. Maybe Ukraine should just lie down and “enjoy” the rape, as some anti-woman Republican legislators have suggested to sexual assault victims. I think a lot of Republicans are as naive and uninformed as I was when I was twelve.

A lot of these folks probably think Ukraine should also “make the best of a bad situation”. But if Russia invaded the United States, what would they say?

Nobody likes to pay high gas prices. I hate seeing our stock values plummet on a daily basis. It would be so great if things were peaceful and prosperous and the economy was humming along. But that’s not how it is… and the fact that it’s not how it is isn’t solely Joe Biden’s fault. He’s not invading Ukraine. He didn’t cause COVID-19, which also had an effect on gas prices and the economy. And he doesn’t control gas prices. He doesn’t have that much power. So if you are a “Christian” who is complaining about gas prices and blaming Biden, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your priorities. Do you think Jesus would be concerned about filling his gas tank over the pain and suffering of other human beings? I sure don’t.

Edited to add: A fellow American in Germany shared this…

Americans don’t have it so bad when it comes to gas prices.

Standard
controversies, Duggars, nostalgia, Russia, safety, silliness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yikes!

This is the video referenced in the above image.

Blood flows red on the highway!

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

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

Here’s a sampling of the comments on YouTube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard
musings

More French hospitality…

A bigger organ than Putin’s…

We will be going home tomorrow. I have to say I’m ready to go, not because we haven’t had fun, but because I’m worn out. I am not used to so much hospitality. Today, after we visited Obernai and Saverne, we came back to our room and I promptly fell asleep. Now, I’m up, but only because we booked dinner again in the restaurant. Last night, we did the big tasting dinner. Tonight, I hope for something simpler and shorter in duration. I am ready to go to bed, get up in the morning for one more excellent breakfast, and go home to Germany, so I can write up all of our fun and share pictures… and of course, see my dogs. I have missed them, too. French people love dogs, and they are everywhere.

Right this minute, I’m watching French news about Ukraine. I have a lot of thoughts about that situation. I have a friend whose wife is from there, and she still has a lot of family members who are trapped in Kiev. I get highly irritated listening to Putin and his threats. He really is a nasty character… one of those people who probably ought to be blown straight back to Hell. However, I am very grateful that my husband is no longer in the Army. I have a feeling the Army will be getting involved eventually, although I hope they won’t.

I do get kind of tickled when I notice the difference between French news and US news. A couple of nights ago, I happened to watch the news when the death of a famous French presenter was being reported. The anchor was openly crying as he spoke about it. He kept saying “Je suis desole!”

I notice that they spell Putin’s name “Poutine”. So now, when I see him, I think of a giant deep friend cheese curd.

And tonight, I saw a protester holding up a poster of a hand drawn tiny penis. It had a caption that read, “Putin: 3 centimeters”. I find it outrageous that one, very toxic man, can hold the world hostage this way with his threats. At the same time, while I don’t think Joe Biden is the best person to handle Putin, I do thank God Trump isn’t in office. He’s a moron who thought Finland was part of Russia. You bet your ass he’d just let Putin do what he wants. Putin probably has dirt on him.

It’s a little scary watching this stuff happening in Ukraine. It’s not that far away. I fear it could get much worse. I am old enough to remember the Chernobyl accident… and I remember that the effects from that crossed over Europe. Bill’s first landlady in Germany died because she got cancer from Chernobyl. The fallout affected the whole continent.

But I guess Putin doesn’t care about that. He just wants land and power… and it doesn’t matter how much humans suffer. For once, I think I agree with Lindsey Graham. I hope someone takes him out.

Standard