celebrities, complaints

Now, I know why…

Happy Monday, everybody. I, for one, am glad the weekend is over. I spent it alone again, although it wasn’t without a little excitement. As I wrote in my travel blog, on Saturday night, our dog Noyzi was a naughty boy who ate part of a brand new toy. I explained the drama involved with that situation, and I’m happy to report that everything turned out fine. Noyzi is totally okay after that experience. It was upsetting and frustrating on many levels, though, because I unexpectedly found myself somewhat helpless in that situation. There was so much to think about that, two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have needed to consider.

Two years ago, my biggest issue would have been getting Noyzi into the back of the car for a trip to the vet’s office. But thanks to the pandemic, there was so much more to prepare for, right down to making sure I had a fucking face mask. In the end, it wasn’t necessary for me to rush Noyzi to the vet on Saturday night. It’s still unnerving that doing so would have been difficult. I guess if it had come down to it, I could have tried to get help from the neighbors, although I know the next door neighbor wasn’t home when this was happening.

COVID-19 has made things infinitely more complicated for everyone. I’ve noticed that people have less patience than they used to have. There’s also a marked decrease in civility across the board. I’ve noticed that people are a lot less willing to listen to opinions they don’t happen to share. And instead of just quietly scrolling by, they get into arguments that quickly get heated. Sometimes, those arguments are also offline. Which brings me to the title of today’s post.

Last night, I noticed I got a bunch of hits on an old post I wrote about the actor, Ricky Schroder, I had written for my old Google blog. I reposted that piece some time ago, mainly because I thought it was interesting. I know not everyone shares my opinions about what’s interesting and what’s not. When I repost things from the old blog, I notice they don’t tend to be read right away. But then, if something comes up in the news, people will find those reruns. Sometimes, that leads to interesting connections. For instance, I got a comment on the contact page last night from someone who had read a repost of a piece I wrote about seven years ago. I especially tend to get these kinds of comments on true crime posts– from true crime buffs, crime writers and researchers, and sometimes even friends and families of the victims or perpetrators.

So anyway, Ricky Schroder is in the news again, which has caused people to search for info about him. That’s led some new people to my blog. Ricky Schroder is notoriously conservative. He was a Mormon convert for a number of years. He helped bail teen Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse out of jail last year. He’s a big proponent of gun rights. And evidently, he’s now in the news for being against being forced to wear a face mask at Costco.

Ricky Schroder posted a video to his Facebook page showing him confronting an employee at Costco, who wouldn’t let him in the store without a mask. Evidently, in the wake of the CDC’s recent announcement that face masks are no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people, Costco dropped its face mask requirements. However, the new rule only applies in places where local ordinances don’t still require masking. In Los Angeles, which is where Ricky wanted to shop at Costco, masking indoors still applies. That’s why Ricky was confronted by a Costco employee named Jason, who would not let him pass the front door. Jason sounds very much like he’s been well-trained by his corporate leaders. I sympathize with him, and commend him for keeping his cool, under the circumstances. But I guess if you live in Los Angeles, you might be used to seeing 80s era TV stars every day.

Ricky says that people should boycott Costco. He’s come to the store to get a refund and, I guess, to drop his membership. Bill and I had a Costco membership when we lived in Texas. It wasn’t very useful for us, since there’s only two of us in the house. I also don’t like shopping in big warehouses. However, I know that a lot of people love Costco and it’s a company that is reportedly very good to its employees. And, to be honest, I hate wearing face masks, so I wouldn’t want to shop at Costco right now, anyway. On one hand, I agree with Ricky that the idea that we should all wear masks indefinitely is not a good one. On the other hand, I also respect the rights of business owners to run their businesses the way they see fit. Costco is a private business, and especially as a Republican, Ricky Schroder should have respected that, and their right to set policies that work for their business. He doesn’t have to shop there, and it sounds like, from now on, he won’t.

As someone who used to have to deal with the public, I have a lot of empathy for Jason and his cohorts. And as someone who votes blue, but sometimes leans right, I understand how Ricky feels, too. I hate that COVID-19 has made everything so complicated and political. This should not be a political issue at all. It’s about avoiding getting sick and dying or spreading diseases that can kill other people. I think a person can be cooperative with policies and not be pro or against an issue. I know it’s trendy for people to make assumptions about a person’s politics by how they feel about masking or other hot button issues. Hell, I’m even guilty myself of figuring out who is pro Trump, simply based on their behavior. I remember a couple of years ago, I correctly surmised a couple of guys were Trump supporters because they got drunk and decided to test out a bullet proof vest. That’s just not the kind of thing the average liberal does… although I suppose it’s possible a Biden fan might try such a stunt.

What put this on my mind today? It’s partly because last night, I was reading a news article about how the new mask guidelines have caused mass confusion and strife in the United States. The CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, is now having to defend the new guidance as people have gotten up in arms about it. For approximately the last year (because the mask habit was slower to pick up in some areas than others) the overwhelming advice by public health experts has been to wear face masks. Just a couple of months ago, some experts were advising people to “double mask”. To be honest, that idea was not gonna fly with me at all. I found the idea of wearing two masks really horrifying. The idea that the air is so fouled with pathogens that I need to cover my face everywhere while wearing two masks? That just sounds dystopian to me. Nope… I will wear only one mask, and only where they are required and I can’t avoid going.

After the double mask fad that was going on a few months ago, it was very strange to hear the CDC suddenly reverse course. It was even stranger to hear the people who were begging people to listen to the experts at the CDC suddenly changing course, telling people NOT to listen to them. As I read that news article last night, I was reminded of how annoyed I was last year when people kept sharing the “public urination” meme, comparing wearing a mask to wearing pants and not peeing on people. I lost my temper with more than one person who shared that with me, partly because unlike many people who were sharing it, I’ve actually taken courses in epidemiology and worked in the public health field. The comparison of spreading COVID-19 to public urination was just non-sensical to me. They aren’t comparable situations. Who goes around peeing on people? Even if they did, avoiding pee is much easier than avoiding airborne viruses or other microscopic microbes.

So glad to see this meme died, at long last.

Last night, I read an angry comment from some guy who compared going maskless to driving drunk. Once again, I was shaking my head at the lunacy. Driving drunk is something that only people who drink alcohol and drive cars do. Not everyone drives. Not everyone drinks alcohol. And not everyone chooses to drink and drive. We all have to breathe, though, and until COVID-19 showed up, breathing uninhibited by a face mask was completely appropriate and okay. Moreover, even those who wear masks can spread the virus or catch it, even though the risk is much lower. But if you don’t breathe, you will die. Breathing is necessary for living. Driving a car and/or drinking booze or both are not necessary for living. The masks aren’t normal, and we shouldn’t normalize this situation. This is a temporary condition and it should be treated as such.

Ditto to the seatbelt argument. To me, the masks aren’t like seatbelts. Seatbelts are only worn in the car or on the airplane. They don’t inhibit communication, breathing, eating, drinking, socializing, vision (because of fogging up or the mask riding up), or hearing (because of the ear loops that sometimes knock out hearing aids or make lip reading hard). Moreover, we’ll probably all be wearing seatbelts for the rest of our lives… at least until cars are obsolete. The masks, on the other hand, I hope are temporary. Even if we can’t get rid of COVID, I’m hoping someone will come up with a way to temper the virus so it’s not such a threat anymore. Car accidents, I fear, are always going to be a threat to human life, no matter what.

Mark my words… someone will come up with some kind of HVAC system that kills viruses… or some other system that eventually makes the masks unnecessary indoors. A year ago, I was worried that the masks would become trendy forever, but now I know that people really do want to be rid of them. That’s comforting to me.

Noyzi this morning. He’s in fine fettle.

In any case… none of this drama affects me personally. I’m still in Germany, where vaccinations are finally picking up, but aren’t as widespread as they are in the United States. The Rewe is still only letting 35 properly masked people in their stores at a time. Things are still shut down here, although there is talk that fully vaccinated or recovered people will be allowed more freedoms. Actually, that is currently the case in Germany, although I can’t enjoy it myself until next month. I don’t get shot #2 until June 9th, and I won’t be considered fully vaccinated until the 23rd. However, it is comforting to see that widespread sickness is going down in the USA. The vaccines are working. With any luck, things will get markedly better soon for a lot of people. Frankly, I’m just glad that in a few days, Bill will (hopefully) be home… and if Noyzi eats another toy, we can handle it together. As for Ricky Schroder… I hope he finds a retailer whose policies are more in line with his right wing politics.

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condescending twatbags, Dress codes, modern problems

Wanted: The Perfect Nanny…

When I was in the second grade, our class put on a presentation of Mary Poppins. My part was “Narrator #3”. Story of my life. I remember that as we prepared for that play, we learned songs from Mary Poppins. One of the songs we learned was called “The Perfect Nanny”.

“Adorable, well that’s debatable, I’d say…”

Here are the lyrics:

Wanted a nanny for two adorable children
If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water
If you won’t scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won’t hide your spectacles
So you can’t see
Put toads in your bed
Or pepper in your tea
Hurry, Nanny!
Many thanks

Sincerely,
Jane and Michael Banks

It seems like a lot of people are taking it upon themselves to apply for the position of “nanny” these days. And I’m not talking about working with children, either. I’m afraid that being behind a computer screen emboldens a lot of people to lecture others, particularly about their personal choices.

This morning, I read an interesting article about top dressage riders protesting the use of helmets instead of top hats in competition. I was interested in the article, because I used to own and show a horse myself. My discipline was “hunt seat”, which required the use of a hunt cap. In the 1980s, a hunt cap was a hard hat covered in velvet or velveteen. When I first started riding, they didn’t all have chin straps. After a few years, harnesses were required. I pretty much hated them, but eventually got used to them. People who rode Western had cowboy hats with no protection.

Me, a long time ago, showing my horse at the State Fair of Virginia. I wore a velvet hunt cap with a loose fitting harness that I found oppressive at the time. God, I miss having a horse!

These days, riders wear huge bulbous helmets that look more like something you’d see on a motorcycle. I’m sure they have saved people from catastrophic, life altering injuries or death. But they are aesthetically less appealing and may or may not be very comfortable to wear. I don’t know if they are or not. I’ve never tried one on, myself. I do kind of miss the look of the velvet hunt caps, even if they aren’t as safe.

Awesome dressage done in top hat and tails.

In any case, a large number of expert dressage competitors hate the helmets. They don’t want to wear them. They have sent a petition to the powers that be, demanding that they be allowed to keep their top hats for the highest echelons of competition.

And a more recent performance with the rider wearing a helmet.

According to Dressage Today, the petition reads:

“The top international dressage riders would like to make a formal demand to the FEI to keep the option to use the top hat in international competitions for Seniors. There has never been a serious accident at an international dressage competition, and the riders believe there is no reason to change that for senior competitors at CDI4*/5*, Games and championships on Grand Prix level.

“The top hat is an essential part of the identity of dressage. The dresscode makes us unique and we feel very strongly that the top hat remain as optional to use, but only at the highest level of competition. For awards ceremonies, the use of protective headgear can remain mandatory.

“It should be noted that there are other disciplines that are not required to wear helmets, and we feel that this inequality is not warranted. We urgently request that the FEI add this matter to the agenda for the next General Assembly, and change the rule accordingly. We believe it is the right of each individual rider to choose between the use of a top hat or protective headgear. This right cannot be revoked.”

As I have written several times in my blog, I’m not a big fan of people telling others what to do. I hated seatbelts when I was growing up. I’m not too fond of them now, but I comply with the law because it’s easier and because if I don’t, the car and Bill both turn into Pat Boone. I could choose not to comply and probably get the stink eye from Germans… and maybe a stiff fine.

Same thing goes for face masks. I hate them, but I comply with regulations. And I truly hope that either an alternative is designed or the COVID-19 virus is vanquished enough so that they become unnecessary. I find the masks depressing and uncomfortable and I can’t wait to see them gone. I don’t put masks in the same league as seatbelts and helmets. In any case, I don’t presume to tell other adults what to do. Nobody likes a lecture, and lecturing people is mostly a waste of time, anyway. All they do is piss off others.

I had to go read the comments on the Facebook post about the top hats. It was like reading another article about mask protesters. People were saying things like, “Wear the damn helmet!” And the other side came back with, “Don’t tell me what to do!”

I’m sure it makes people feel better to tell off those who aren’t following the rules. Personally, I like to think that adults are capable of making their own decisions. I feel this way about voting, too. I may completely disagree with your choices at the polls, but I figure you have your reasons for voting the way you do. I doubt a lecture from me is going to change your mind, and it’s none of my business anyway. I wouldn’t want you to lecture me about my vote… and as someone who sometimes votes third party, I sure have been on the receiving end of a lot of those kinds of comments.

I can see why dressage riders like their top hats. Maybe someone will come up with a design for a top hat that is safer than the old version, yet provides the same aesthetic. I do miss the velvet hats in hunt seat. They looked very elegant compared to the big helmets of today, although I will admit that the helmets are easier to keep clean and probably last longer because they can withstand the elements better. In that sense, they’re more practical, as well as safer. But I don’t begrudge those who like the old way. They have their reasons for feeling that way, and they should be heard without being ridiculed, insulted, or shamed, as long as they present themselves in a respectful way.

If you’re being rude as you present yourself, then all bets are off when it comes to the response you’ll get. That’s why I felt okay about telling that guy to go fuck himself after he accused Bill of being a “bad person”. If he had not been insulting first, I would not have responded in that manner… or at all, for that matter.

Just like Jane and Michael sing in their song about the “perfect nanny”, people don’t like to be scolded and dominated, nor do they like to be force-fed things that are unpleasant, even if it’s “for their own good.” I think it’s best to let people draw their own conclusions and hope they’ll make the smart choice.

Time for breakfast…

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good tv, nostalgia, YouTube

The “Family” rabbit hole…

Thought I’d take a break from bitching about Donald Trump today… I made a discovery yesterday that I should have made about forty years ago. It was raining most of the day, so I decided to watch some YouTube on my TV. Someone uploaded a bunch of episodes of the 70s era drama, Family.

I had heard of Family before yesterday, but never watched it during its initial run from 1976 until 1980. For one thing, we lived in England when it premiered. For another, I was only four years old at the time, and the show usually aired in the 10pm time slot. No way would I have been allowed to stay up for that, even if we’d been in the United States.

I remember people said Family was a very well-written show with progressive story lines. Kristy McNichol played Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence. At the time, she was about eleven years old and very precocious. Actor/composer John Rubinstein composed the theme for Family, which is very serious and not all that catchy. He also played Jeff Maitland, ex husband of the older Lawrence daughter, Nancy (played by Elayne Heilveil for six episodes, then Meredith Baxter).

I ended up binge watching about a half dozen episodes, or so, before Bill was finished with his work day. One of the episodes I saw was the pilot, in which Nancy Maitland comes home to find her husband in bed with another woman. She goes running home to her parents. Her dad, played by the late James Broderick, babies her. Her mom, played by the late Sada Thompson rants about how sometimes women just want “out”.

Family pilot, circa 1976…

Buddy overhears her mother say that when she was pregnant with her, there were times when she wished she could have an abortion. Naturally, that upsets Buddy, who doesn’t stick around long enough to hear her mom say that she was glad to have her now.

Earlier in the episode, Buddy is shown learning to drive a car with her big brother, Willie. She has a close relationship with him, even though he’s several years older. The character is supposed to be 17 years old, but the actor who portrayed him was actually about 27 and looked it!

I got a kick out of the driving lesson scene, though, because the two changed places while they were in the car and neither wore a seatbelt (HORRORS!). Willie tells Buddy to sit on her books, then tells her to put on her “safety belt” (no one ever calls them that anymore). She slips the shoulder belt behind her the way I used to when I rode in the front seat as a kid… no air bags, and no laws requiring kids to sit in the back seat… and, in fact, no seatbelt laws!

As I was watching that scene, I imagined Bill’s reaction to it. He’s older than I am, but he’s definitely a safety geek. I’m sure he’d be horrified!

Anyway, Willie effectively teaches eleven year old Buddy how to drive, so after she hears her mother say that at times when she was pregnant with Buddy, she’d wished to have an abortion, she runs out and takes the car for a spin. Somehow, she ends up at a greenhouse, where she throws rocks from the inside and smashes a bunch of windows in a childish rage!

An old man catches her in the act and calls the police, describing her as an eleven year old child driving a 1974 Maverick. Back in the 70s, my sister used to drive a red Maverick she called Maybell. I’m sure it was a sporty car in those days!

Next thing you know, Buddy is marched into the police station and her dad picks her up and scolds her for driving. Then he takes her home and her mom has to explain her abortion comment.

Later in the series, Nancy gets pregnant and considers having an abortion… this was cutting edge stuff in the 70s. And, as we all know, abortion remains a hot topic 45 years hence!

I also related to Buddy’s angst about what her mom said about abortion. My own mom told me many times that she hadn’t wanted to have me. She never considered having an abortion. They weren’t legal in 1972, anyway. There were many times when I wished she had had one… it would have saved us both a lot of pain. But really, I just wish she had never told me that she was ever sorry to be pregnant with me. That is just not a cool thing to say to your kid, even if you’re happy they’re here now. But it’s especially uncool if your kid is depressed and anxious anyway, as I was when I was growing up. Maybe I could be understanding about that if she’d told me when I was an adult and could comprehend the context better. But, as a kid, it devastated me and fucked me up for years… and I really related to the character Buddy’s emotional outburst at overhearing her mom say that.

Kristy McNichol is an extraordinarily talented actress. She was especially gifted as a child actress. I know she’s retired now, but she really helped make Family an excellent show. As much as I liked Meredith Baxter when I was growing up watching Family Ties, I don’t think she can hold a candle to Kristy’s gift. She’s a natural on screen.

I noticed they used percolators on that show. No one percolates coffee anymore. My mom used to have a percolator like this one. She and my dad drank nasty ground coffee from a can… Maxwell House or Folger’s. And they sweetened it with Sweet-10 (liquid saccharine) and instead of using milk or half and half, they used non-dairy powdered creamer like Cremora. Yuck!

I’ll probably keep watching Family. I get a kick out of the many guest actors from my childhood who show up. A lot of them are now dead or senior citizens, which only serves to remind me of how old I am now. But the 1970s don’t seem like they were that long ago… and frankly, they’re a nice escape from 2020, which is definitely a crazy year. Aside from the nostalgia factor, I really think it’s a great show that has aged remarkably well. I’m grateful that someone posted them on YouTube.

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mental health, musings, psychology

My rebellious streak…

This morning, I got an ad from Facebook for a t-shirt. It was about the proper way to wear face masks and it starred Snoopy, famed comic beagle.

Seriously? Who would wear this?

As much as I love Peanuts, beagles, and t-shirts, I can’t imagine having the nerve to wear something like this in public. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know how I feel about people who have didactic motivations. I think wearing a t-shirt like this would be pretty obnoxious behavior.

To be clear, I am certainly not above being obnoxious. I guess I just prefer my brand of obnoxious behavior to be more along the lines of being loud, vulgar, and crude. I have pretty much hated the face mask evangelism movement ever since it became popular a few months ago. From the beginning, I have said that I’d rather stay home than wear a mask. That’s mainly what I do. When I go in public, I do wear a mask, but I hate doing it. And while I wear the mask properly and notice when people wear them the wrong way, I wouldn’t feel comfortable confronting someone over it. Wearing a t-shirt or mask like these is basically confronting everyone who sees it. I find it off putting, rather than cute.

I would sooner wear this penis mask than the instructive Snoopy mask. I especially enjoy what appears to be drops of something falling off the penises in the center of the masks. Actually, I probably WOULDN’T wear this… but I completely agree with the irreverent sentiment.

I might not be opposed to wearing a mask that has tiny dicks all over it. That’s also an obnoxious thing to do, but at least if someone comments on it, I can tell them they need to socially distance more. For all of my talk about vulgar subjects, the reality is that I’m not really that vulgar in practice. I don’t enjoy looking at genitals– male or female, even when they are in comic form like the ones pictured above. But I do like to shock people. It’s one of my less appealing characteristics.

I don’t wear “cute” masks. I don’t want to get into that trend, because I want this face mask thing to be a temporary requirement. I did try to order cloth masks from Novica, but the ones I chose were backordered and by the time they finally became available, I had a new credit card and the old one no longer worked. The payment was rejected, and correcting it would have been more of a hassle than I wanted to deal with, so I cancelled the order. I’m still wearing paper masks on the rare occasions I go somewhere where they are required. I might get a cloth mask if they’re more comfortable, but really, I hope they go out of style soon. Some people will happily wear them from now on. Not me.

I don’t know why I’m like this… I have a rebellious streak, I guess. I’ve mentioned before that it took me many years to get into the habit of wearing a seatbelt, even after wearing them became law in Virginia back in 1988. I’ve always hated them. I really hated them when I was a child, and would pitch a fit when my dad would– on occasion– make me wear them. I think it was mostly because he usually forced me to wear them when he was in control freak mode or wanted to punish me. My parents always wore their seatbelts. I never saw either of them drive or ride in a car without one on. But they were very inconsistent about making me wear them. A lot of times, they let me get away without wearing one because I would throw huge tantrums.

Then I married Bill, who is a safety fanatic. And we bought cars that ding incessantly if I don’t wear a seatbelt. And we live in a country where not wearing them results in large fines. And it’s become a habit, even though I still find them annoying. Actually, the Volvo’s seatbelts are very comfortable and I barely notice them. The ones in my Mini are less comfortable, but if that car gets in an accident, I’m probably less likely to survive. On the other hand, this year has sucked enough that maybe being beamed up early isn’t such a bad idea. At least I won’t have any more problems or worries. And it’s not like anyone depends on me.

The other day, I mentioned on Facebook my hatred for seatbelts. I posted about it because I read a fascinating article on History.com about how back in the 1980s, politicians who boosted seatbelt laws were labeled as akin to Hitler and regularly got hate mail from people who didn’t want to be told what to do in the form of a nanny law. There was a tremendous lobby against seatbelt laws and automotive safety. A lot of it was due to money and people’s concepts of “personal freedom”.

Car makers didn’t want to spend the money to make cars safer by installing driver’s side airbags, and people didn’t want to be told what to do. Also, seatbelts in the 1970s and 80s were not nearly as comfortable or adjustable as they are today, so they truly were uncomfortable and restrictive. In the end, we ended up with tons of airbags and seatbelt laws. Most people wear seatbelts now… and a lot fewer people seem to go to church. I wonder if there is a connection. But it’s taken many years to get to where we are today. People really resisted seatbelt laws back in the day, and did their best to defeat features like automatic seatbelts and interlock systems that would not allow a car to start without a fastened seatbelt.

It’s always amusing to read the comments from people when I dare say something publicly about how much I hate seatbelts and miss the days when wearing them was voluntary. Group think really is an issue these days. To be clear, I do wear seatbelts, just like I wear masks. I just don’t like wearing them. I don’t understand why some people feel like a person has to comply with safety rules AND like that they are complying. For many people, it’s not enough for a person to simply comply with the rules. They also have to be a booster, or else they need an “intervention” of some sort and a lecture!

I got the usual comments about how some people won’t move their cars until everyone is wearing a seatbelt. But then I got a comment from my former shrink, who has since become a friend. He wrote about how he lost a friend he knew who was earning her Ph.D. She had just finished her training and passed her oral exams, and had gone on a date with the guy who had been the best man at my former shrink’s wedding. While my ex shrink’s friends were on their date, their car skidded around a corner and ran up against a tree. The car was an older model and the door handle protruded. The handle was sheared off as the car door hit the tree and the passenger side door flew open. The woman who had just passed her oral exams flew out of the car and fractured her spine, which killed her instantly. Ex shrink promised his friend, who had survived the crash, that he would always wear a seatbelt. He strongly encouraged me to do the same.

I was touched that my former shrink would share that story with me. I think if my dad had expressed more kindness and actual concern for me over this issue rather than stern military-esque orders, he would have gotten a much more compliant attitude from me in response. But my dad was often formal and controlling, and he was very much a military guy. That didn’t mean he wasn’t sometimes fun and loving, but he had a habit of issuing orders in an overbearing, offensive way that didn’t sit well with me. So I often rebelled, although when he wasn’t in a controlling mood, he was pretty negligent, so I didn’t have a need to rebel that often… if that makes sense.

Like– I never had a curfew, and my parents preferred that I work, even if it would have affected my performance in school or was dangerous in some way. I have a deep scar on my arm from the time when I was ten, and my dad made me break down cardboard boxes with a box cutter. Naturally, I cut the wrong way and injured myself. He didn’t even take me to a doctor for stitches and a tetanus shot, which I clearly needed (the blade went through all layers of skin). Whenever another adult had a complaint about me, his response was to immediately side with the other adult, yell at, and physically punish me, rather than hear my side of the story. He rarely protected me and instead, acted like a bully. As you can see, that treatment left lasting scars beyond the one on my arm. I don’t tolerate bullies anymore.

My mom was not strict at all about most things. My dad was strict only when he felt like being strict or something affected him personally. But his strictness was haphazard and inconsistent, and more often involved the threat of physical punishment and yelling than actual concern for my well-being. Also, my parents were very worried about what other people thought, which also didn’t sit well with me, and still doesn’t, when I see that attitude in other people. I am much more impressed by people who care about what their loved ones think than what the neighbors think.

I do think my dad loved me. I don’t think he shared his love and concern in a constructive way that translated very well. He was often kind of mean to me. Consequently, I rebelled when he issued orders, and I chafed at his attempts to control me, even when it came to things that were supposedly for my own good, like wearing seatbelts. And the fact that my former shrink, who hasn’t seen me in person since 2004, showed what appears to be more genuine concern for me than my dad ever did, is not lost on me. But then, my dad sometimes showed his love in other ways, like when he would make me periscopes out of mirrors and matte board, and when he helped me move to South Carolina for graduate school (though that was partly for his benefit).

When I met Bill, I finally found a genuinely kind, caring, loving man who honestly had real regard for me as a person. I don’t mind wearing a seatbelt for him, because it’s not about issuing orders and having me obey him. He actually cares, even though I like to joke about him becoming “Pat Boone”. I think my former shrink cares, too. He wrote that he doesn’t want to lose another friend. The fact that my ex shrink sees me as a friend means a lot to me. He’s in a line of work that puts him in contact with all sorts of very difficult people. I must not be so bad, after all– despite public opinion to the contrary. 😉 It’s reassuring.

I loved this show. It’s a British show that aired on Nickelodeon when I was a kid. I would actually stay home from the barn so I could watch it, because it aired at 3:00pm.

One last side note. I recently wrote about how I “married Black Beauty” and Bill married “Ginger”. If you’ve ever read the book, Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, it might make sense. Black Beauty was a well-bred, well-mannered, beautiful black stallion who always worked hard, was honest, and was well-behaved. Ginger was a hard working mare who did not tolerate abuse and would kick up a fuss when she was treated badly. Black Beauty and Ginger never “got together”, but I always got the sense that they were kind of a couple. I have been encouraging Bill to read Anna Sewell’s classic book. I think he’d like it, and understand more clearly what I mean when I tell him he reminds me of Black Beauty, while I’m more like Ginger.

A scene featuring Black Beauty and Ginger in a movie version… Ginger takes no shit.

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musings

Offensive fashion statements… or, who was that hooded, masked man?

As Patrick Starfish would say, “Good morning, Krusty Krew.” This morning, in contrast to yesterday morning, I am actually itching to write something of substance. Before I get cranked up with today’s post, I want to thank those of you who took the time to listen to my musical offerings yesterday. I truly appreciate it when anyone listens and comments on my recordings. I don’t put them out there very often because I hate making videos and I never know how they’re going to be received. But it does bring me great joy to sing songs and share them with others. So if you took the time to click on my channel, thank you very much. It means a lot to me, even though I did lose one subscriber on YouTube (bwahahahaha!). It’s okay. I’ll stay humble and stick to my day job.

Now, on with today’s controversial topic, which I hope readers will read and consider with an open mind.

Yesterday evening, I came across two news articles that caused me to react in different ways. After thinking about both of these issues, I realize that they’re two pieces of the same “puzzle” that faces everyone on the planet today. The first article that upset me was in the Washington Post. It was a piece by Robin Givhan about how face masks are “here to stay” and have now become a fashion accessory which may, very soon, become as essential as undergarments. Givhan writes:

Fashion always finds a way. Human beings are undaunted in their search for ways to stand out, to communicate, to thrive in a treacherous environment. And so the face mask — once purely functional, once perceived as an exotic accessory — has evolved at breakneck speed into something more.

It’s more essential because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans wear a mask when interacting with others. It’s more aesthetically pleasing. It’s also a more complicated cultural proposition. And, of course, the face mask is political because both the president and the vice president have refused to wear one on highly public occasions and because some protesters have insinuated that masks are un-American.

As the country moves toward reopening, masks are assuredly part of our future. And in some ways, their evolution is the perfect encapsulation of how much life has changed in a blink of an eye — and how challenging, both intellectually and emotionally, it will be for us to go forward.

I have written in previous pieces about how, personally, I don’t like seeing face masks being normalized and turning into fashion statements. I realize that I can’t stop them from evolving in such a way. Some people like wearing them and feel safer with them with them on. However, count me among those who have no desire to be mandated to wear a face mask for the rest of my life. In fact, I don’t even like that the masks are being pushed on everyone via peer pressure. I would hate to see them become like seatbelts, which most everyone is compelled to wear nowadays.

When I was a child, seatbelts were entirely optional. I have many memories of riding without them in those days, lying in cargo areas in my dad’s many vans or riding in the back of pick up trucks. At one time, my dad had a Volkswagen pop top camper, which had a bar across the ceiling that we had to push to get the camper top to go up. I used to swing on that bar like a monkey when I was a kid. It was very unsafe and unthinkable today, but great fun back then. I don’t regret the experience of swinging on that bar as we cruised down the interstates.

Now… as a sensible adult, I understand why all U.S. states and many developed countries require people to wear seatbelts. New Hampshire, the one seatbelt law hold out, currently doesn’t require seatbelt use for adults, but does require people under age 17 to wear them. It also looks like New Hampshire will soon require seatbelt use for everyone. However, generally speaking, I am opposed to “nanny” laws in principal. I think people should wear seatbelts because it’s the smart thing to do, not because they might get a ticket. I also wear one because if I don’t, my husband turns into Pat Boone.

I have seen face masks being compared to seatbelts. I don’t think they’re the quite same thing. Riding in a car without a seatbelt has always been inherently dangerous. Being in public without a face mask has not. Moreover, facial expression is a big component in effective communication and identification. A lot of things can’t be feasibly done in public if a person is wearing a mask… things that bring joy, like eating, drinking, lip reading, and smoking (although smoking is not something that brings me joy) or playing woodwind instruments or horns. Although speaking and singing are possible while wearing a mask, they aren’t as easy to do. Breathing isn’t as easy to do while wearing a mask, either.

I imagine that when summer is fully upon us, people who don’t routinely wear masks will realize what being forced to wear one at all times could mean. The thought of it really depresses me, especially since there is still some debate as to how helpful the masks really are. Face masks in 90 degree weather sound like a recipe for a lot of sweat, smelling of one’s own bad breath, and possible tan lines, not to mention kind of a creepy dystopian feel to society in which we won’t be allowed to see each other’s smiles in every day society.

I was a bit perturbed after reading Givhan’s article about how masks are becoming a fashion statement, especially since so many people commenting seem to be all for it being a permanent fixture. I don’t think a lot of people have thought about it very deeply. I intend to resist that trend as much as possible and only wear masks when I absolutely have to in order to avoid harassment or legal trouble. I posted about it on Facebook and my friend Sara, who is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic and has to wear a mask all day, fully agreed with me that wearing masks full time should be a no go. Especially since the coronavirus epidemic hasn’t been an issue for that long. Some people are now pushing for laws… and I know that I’m not the only one upset about the prospect of face masks being as necessary as underwear. In fact, another article drove home the idea that requiring face coverings at all times could be a very slippery slope.

Just before I was about to go to bed, I noticed a news item posted by a friend in California. A man in Santee, California went into a grocery store wearing a white, cone shaped hood. The San Diego Union-Tribune referred to the hood as a “KKK hood”, which it probably was. However, the man was not identified by name by the newspaper. In fact, other than a picture of the guy demonstrating his choice to wear the hood, along with shorts, t-shirt, and shoes, not much information about the man was provided at all.

I shared the article on Facebook, and a few friends automatically labeled the guy a racist. And, to be honest, he probably IS a racist. However, there is no way to know for sure. I suspect the guy wore the mask to make a point about the requirement to wear face masks. The rules are pretty broad right now. Your nose and mouth are supposed to be covered. The white hood accomplishes that. Because a hateful group of racists have co-opted the white, cone shaped hood into a symbol that immediately identifies one as a white supremacist, it’s taboo to wear a hood that looks like that in public. This guy chose to wear one anyway. He technically followed the rules by covering his face and mouth, but he did so in a way that was sure to offend other people.

I brought up the fact that since I’ve lived in Europe, I’ve noticed the Confederate battle flag being flown or otherwise displayed in various places here. When I’ve shared my observations with American friends, they almost always react with shock and dismay. To many Americans, the Confederate battle flag (which was actually only one of many used by Confederates during the Civil War) is ALWAYS a racist display. I grew up in the South and saw that flag all the time while growing up. Hell, when I was in South Carolina going to graduate school, there was a Confederate battle flag on top of the Statehouse. It was later relocated to the grounds of the Statehouse, where it stayed for years before it was finally put away for good. Yes, many people see that flag as a racist symbol, but others still insist that it’s about southern pride and a spirit of rebellion.

I once had an Italian Facebook friend. I guess we’re technically still friends, but he left Facebook last year, claiming that people didn’t want to engage in healthy debates with him. I’m sorry he left, especially since we have lost touch. Although he could be very obnoxious and even kind of mean at times, I liked the perspective he presented. He is an intelligent and articulate guy, and I miss getting his input on some topics. One time, he explained why it’s not really uncommon to see the Confederate battle flag displayed in Italy. That flag doesn’t have the same connotations to many Europeans as it does to Americans. A lot of people in Europe see that flag as only a symbol of southern rebellion. In fact, there’s a Harley Davidson garage located not two kilometers near where we live, and they proudly fly the Confederate battle flag. I’ve also seen it on a cab driver’s bumper in Ireland. To many Europeans, it doesn’t stand for racism like it does in the United States.

While the white hood and, especially, the swastika are definitely taboo in Europe, as they are in the United States, I would imagine that those symbols, when taken to a place where they have no meaning at all, would not inspire outrage. When it comes down to it, they’re just symbols, and they only have the meaning that people give them. Personally, I think we should pay more attention to the racist attitudes that actual people have rather than the symbols used to promote those attitudes. It’s also not lost on me that when those symbols are presented, they identify those who have those sentiments. That makes it much easier to choose not to associate with them… although a lot of them are simply ignorant, and their ignorance doesn’t necessarily make them horrible people. At least not in my opinion.

Does “God” feel the same way about Confederate battle flags and white hoods made of cloth?
Isn’t this a blip? My father was a proud flag carrying conservative, but he never hesitated to wear ugly clothes inspired by the American flag. I think Americans should probably think longer and harder about this issue.

Back when football player Colin Kaepernick was regularly in the news for “taking a knee”during the “Star Spangled Banner” to protest racism, a lot of conservatives were upset because they saw his actions as disrespecting the American flag. Curiously enough, “God”, the popular Facebook page, even referred to the American flag as a “piece of cloth” and the national anthem as just a song. I remember blogging about this subject, and to make my point, I included the photo below.

I am not at all condoning the actions of the “very fine people”. However, one could argue that the Confederate battle flag and, in fact, other symbols made of fabric, such as white, cone shaped hoods, are also just “pieces of cloth”, as “God” claims the American flag is.

So anyway… all of this led me to conclude that the guy who walked into the grocery store in his white hood is possibly more of a pissed off Trump supporter, rather than a flat out racist. He’s pissed off because he resents government overreach, and he sees having to wear a face mask at the grocery store as a violation of his personal liberties. He may also be pissed because Trump may very well (hopefully) get his ass kicked during the elections this November, and that may mean more left swinging laws. Remember, Trump and Pence don’t willingly wear masks, either, and Trump has gone as far as to encourage citizens to rise up against their state governments and demand that restrictions be lifted so life can get back to “normal”.

So instead of grudgingly wearing a regular face mask like a good citizen would, he decided to cover his face in a different way. He wore a white, cone-shaped hood, which to many people is an extremely horrifying symbol of racism and hatred. He made a lot of people very uncomfortable. However, he wasn’t violent and didn’t physically hurt anyone, and after being asked repeatedly to remove the hood (and probably what was his nose and mouth covering), he did comply. He paid for his items and left the store without incident, although local law enforcement is “looking into the matter”. Santee, California reportedly has a “checkered past” when it comes to racism, and its mayor has gone on record to denounce the hooded shopper’s actions.

It occurred to me that ultimately, the white cone hat guy was expressing himself. Granted, he was expressing hatred, disrespect, and disdain, which are ugly, antisocial expressions. But when it came down to it, he was expressing himself, which in the United States, he still has the right to do. Then I thought about it some more. Judging by the photo in the news article, I’m about 99.9% certain this dude probably is a racist on some level. But– is it possible he wasn’t? What if he was just a smart assed troll trying to rile people up? What if he was from another country and wasn’t aware that the hood would offend (highly unlikely, but technically possible)? Maybe someone paid him to wear the cone shaped hood on a dare? Not knowing anything about the guy, I can’t know for sure what his story is, although I think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume he’s a racist. Or maybe he’s just a frustrated, pissed off American making his feelings known in the most offensive way he can think of, not unlike when Melania Trump wore her “I really don’t care, do U?” jacket. I am certainly not condoning that the man chose that way to express himself… but I can see how that explanation could be a possibility.

The fact that the man wore the offensive KKK-esque hood into the store, technically complying with the order that he cover his mouth and nose, may seem like a bad thing. But, as I sat at the breakfast table talking about this with Bill, I concluded that his actions were not necessarily such a bad thing overall. Because it’s getting people thinking and talking about this issue. If face masks do become the law for the foreseeable future, people are probably going to have to come up with some guidelines. The guidelines aren’t going to suit everyone, and it may take some time to come to a consensus. By then, maybe a vaccine will be created and we can move beyond this pandemic without forcing another nanny law on the populace.

The first article I referenced in this post is about how the face masks are becoming “fashion”. Well, fashion is frequently distasteful. That’s part of the reason fashion is a thing, just like any art is. Art isn’t always beautiful or simple. Sometimes, it’s ugly and offensive. And if we want to mandate face masks for people, we should probably be prepared for those who will use their masks to make their feelings known through offensive fashion statements. I know a lot of people got a kick out of Mindy Vincent, the lady in Utah who made a face mask out of cloth that had penises on it. Plenty of people found that funny, especially when she told people that if they could tell her face mask has penises on it, they were too close. But other people, no doubt, were offended by it. Mindy Vincent has been selling the masks and has reportedly donated a lot of money to charity. That’s probably a good thing, depending on the charity. Some people would probably criticize her for that, too… or for the charity she’s chosen to donate to. The nice thing about America is that we can still have these thoughts and discussions… at least for now.

It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of the hood wearing guy and whether or not his stunt will have any legal repercussions, especially if we do have to wear the fucking face masks from now on.

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