Germany, history, lessons learned, politicians, politics

Twenty years after 9/11, basic decency is disappearing…

A couple of years ago, I wrote my 9/11 story and posted it on this blog. Almost everybody who was alive on 9/11/01 has a 9/11 story. I guess the only ones who don’t are those who were somehow unconscious that day. Or maybe people who live in remote places they have never left, where the world’s news can’t reach them.

Suffice to say, those of us who live in the modern world, where there’s television and Internet, have a 9/11 story. Or, at the very least, they’ve heard other people’s memories of that day, if they weren’t around at that time. Like… I wasn’t here for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I’ve read and heard plenty of stories of that day. I think 9/11 was much bigger than Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11 permanently changed the world.

I remember 9/11 very well. It was the week after Bill and I, then just “friends”, had a magical Labor Day weekend. No one in our families knew we were dating. So, when Bill went to work at the Pentagon on 9/11, no one knew that he had a special friend who would worry all day, wondering if he had survived. After 9/11, we decided that we needed to make our relationship official. A few months later, we were engaged. We married in 2002.

I remember what it was like for Bill in the days that followed September 11, 2001. At that time, people had come together in solidarity. There were people who offered their support to any and all emergency workers. Police officers, nurses, doctors, military service members, firefighters, were all being heralded as heroes. I remember how people would stop Bill when he was in uniform and thank him for his service.

I read a story this morning about a couple who happened to be on a flight from England bound for Houston, Texas that got diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada. They fell in love while they were stranded in Canada. Aside from falling in love, the couple, along with all of the other 7000 people who were suddenly diverted to Gander because of terrorism, enjoyed the most extraordinary hospitality from the locals in Gander.

Americans were Americans, before they were Democrats or Republicans. People came together to help each other through a crisis. It wasn’t just Americans, either. I wasn’t in Germany at that time, but this morning, I read an article about what it was like in Stuttgart on 9/11. Germans and Americans stood side by side in solidarity as people made sense of what happened.

Above is a post that reminded me about how Germans and Americans came together after 9/11. That photo brought tears to my eyes yesterday, partly because I was moved, and partly because it probably wouldn’t happen in 2021.

Twenty years later, it seems like most of the goodwill and civility that was so prevalent after 9/11 is gone. Now, on 9/11/21, we have people laughing at teenagers who share personal stories about losing family members to COVID-19. Grady Knox, a high school student in Tennessee, bravely tried to explain why he thinks mask mandates are a good thing to have in his school. People told him to shut up. It could not have been easy for Grady to stand up and talk about losing his grandmother. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of people. But for him to stand up and speak and then have his neighbors laugh at him and tell him to shut up… well, that’s just shameful. And it makes me think that those people are not good people. They have learned nothing, and have no empathy for others.

What the hell is WRONG with people?

Today, we have governors who are more interested in money and power than they are in saving human lives (except for the unborn, of course). Joe Biden– recently reviled for the way the U.S. military FINALLY left Afghanistan after twenty long years– delivered a tough speech, expressing how disappointed he is in the complete lack of concern Republican leaders have for their constituents. Biden has been threatened with lawsuits, as he signs legislation mandating that people in certain workplaces get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden is not looking so wimpy now, as he tells the governors to “have at it” in their plans to sue him.

President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

From MSNBC: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-republicans-hope-derail-biden-s-bold-new-vaccine-policy-n1278900?cid=sm_fb_maddow&fbclid=IwAR07wYh1NCrCl2lTB2R_sMkiCVLML7tycCXzr-Srn8oyNeQuZhq0JtZjvOY

I read one comment from a Republican who said if Donald Trump had ever tried to enforce vaccinations, people would be “horrified” and calling for Trump’s head on a platter. However, I think it’s highly unlikely that Trump would have ever done what Joe Biden is doing. Trump does not care about anyone but himself, and he would not have done something that would alienate his conservative base the way the vaccine and mask mandates would have. There is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden has basic decency and respect for others. Donald Trump, simply put, does not.

Donald Trump’s encouragement to get the vaccine was lukewarm… he got boos and laughter. I think he’s created monsters.
Southerners who are getting sick aren’t thinking of anyone but themselves… until they get sick and realize just how fucking horrible COVID is.

Today, we have governors who are gleefully signing legislation that pits neighbors against each other, and puts bounties on the heads of women who seek abortions. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is fine with people walking around, spreading COVID-19 as they tote their guns openly and run their mouths about their freedoms. Freedom means nothing if you’re dead… but try to explain that to some of these folks. They insist that COVID-19 is not a risk for them or or their families… or anyone else. Somehow, they’ve managed to ignore the news stories and documentaries about people who have had COVID-19. They’ve even managed to ignore Howard Stern, who has berated the willfully ignorant.

I can’t wait to vote for whomever runs against this man.
I empathize with his frustration.

This antipathy especially happens on the Internet. Even on the most benign of posts, there’s a chance someone will lash out with nastiness or unnecessary snark. Yesterday, I was answering a question on Toytown Germany from an American who is trying to get her US Moderna shots recognized by a local pharmacist, so she can enjoy a more normal life. I expressed empathy for her situation, commenting that it would be nice if we had a more global solution that would make it easier for people from all countries to get their shots recognized. It’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage the vaccines and reward people for doing the right thing. You’d think that would be a pretty innocuous comment, right? I certainly didn’t think it would go south.

Sure enough, some guy from up north responded snarkily, by sharing a picture of the yellow World Health Organization booklet, and writing that is the global standard that works fine. Yes, it’s true, that yellow booklet is used around the world. But, for some reason, the CDC isn’t using it, so that comment isn’t helpful. There are a lot of Americans who live in Germany. Some of them got shots when they went to the USA, where they were easier to get. Then they came back to Germany and, if they live in an area where there aren’t a lot of Americans, are not able to get their vaccines made official in Germany. This is a problem. I was trying to help someone solve the problem for themselves. For my efforts, I got a shitty comment from some smartass who thought that was the right time to act like a jerk.

I could have ignored it entirely. Or I could have responded with a snarky comment of my own. Instead, I agreed that the yellow booklet is useful around the world, but it’s not helpful to Americans in Germany right now. Americans aren’t issued the yellow booklets, even though that would make things easier. Being rude to me doesn’t change that fact. And then I added that I was trying to be nice, and being snarky and negative isn’t helpful to the community. Those kinds of crappy responses just discourage people from posting, which defeats the purpose of having an online community… or any community, really. Why try to help someone if you’re going to be mocked for your efforts?

I realize that even as I preach about this, I’m as guilty as anyone is. I do try not to respond to people with rudeness. Sometimes, I will admit, I fail. Because, like so many other people, I’m fed up. I’m tired of people who can’t simply cooperate and have basic respect for other people. But still, I think being kind is the better way to go, most of the time. I truly do believe that being understanding and decent is, overall, better than being angry, mean, malicious, and rude. There really is enough of that in the world today.

I think it’s sad that we haven’t learned much from 9/11. On September 11, 2001, people around the world came together in solidarity. On September 11, 2021, a lot of people are acting like selfish jerks. It’s depressing… although, I guess if I look for it, I can find some positive things about today. Like, for instance, the fact that Bill was not killed on 9/11, and despite everything, we’re still together and basically healthy and happy with each other’s company. But it’s hard to ignore all of the divisiveness and evil that is being perpetuated right now.

When things were good…
Twenty years later, when things had really gone to shit.

I do hope that people will find a way to come together. Right now, I’m reminded of the opening of the film, Lean on Me… as we see how things can change for the worse in 20 years. Maybe a new version of Mr. Clark is in order to straighten us all out… Maybe Joe Biden is turning into him now. One can always hope, right?

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Ex

Stuck in the selfish sandpit with Ex…

Special thanks to Wikipedia user, Andrew Dunn, who has allowed free use of his photo. It appears here unaltered.

I thought today, I’d take a break from reposts and rantings about current events. Sometimes, I just need an old fashioned venting session. This particular vent is, yet again, about Ex. It may get profane, so brace yourself or move along. And please, no shaming comments about how inappropriate it is for me to write about this. I’ll write about whatever I damned well please. I know the situation and the people involved. You, most likely, don’t.

July 4th is a big day in Bill’s family. Not only is it Independence Day, which is a big day for anyone in the military community; it’s also Bill’s older daughter’s birthday. Older daughter happens to share her birthday with younger daughter’s daughter– Bill’s granddaughter– who was born on a more recent July 4th. Bill was looking for a gift for his granddaughter, but not for his daughter. Older daughter is still estranged, thanks to her selfish, narcissistic, manipulative mother. He’s come to terms with it. She’s about to turn 30, and she has to make decisions for herself. But that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to watch from the sidelines.

What do we Americans usually do on birthdays? Most of us celebrate. Sometimes we go on trips, like Bill and I did last weekend for my birthday. We send gifts or have parties… or send a card.

Recently, younger daughter told Bill that she would like to send her sister something for her upcoming 30th birthday. Unfortunately, older daughter still lives with Ex, which makes it hard for younger daughter to communicate with her without interference from their mother. Ex evidently monitors older daughter’s phone and mail. I don’t agree with this policy, but it’s not my life. For some reason, older daughter tolerates the invasion of privacy, even though multiple people– including Bill– would love to help her move out of her mother’s house and live life more on her own terms. What can I say? You get what you settle for.

In any case, younger daughter said that she doesn’t think she can send her sister a birthday present or card. Why not? Because she says it would cause more drama for her sister than is worthwhile. Here are a few potential scenarios that could occur if younger daughter sends her sister anything for her birthday…

Older daughter: Look! My sister sent me a birthday gift!

Ex: How nice for you. She didn’t bother to acknowledge my birthday.

Or…

Ex: That looks pretty cheap. I bet she didn’t spend more than ten minutes picking it out. She doesn’t know what you like, does she?

Or…

Ex: That gift is so inappropriate. It’s not the right size, color, style, etc… (you get the idea) Nice that she can send you a gift, but completely ignore me on MY birthday.

Younger daughter has lived with Ex long enough that she knows what happens when someone other than her has a “special” day. Ex has a very long history of ruining holidays and special days. I have written many posts about how she regularly fucks up major religious holidays like Christmas and Easter…. although the last Easter she ruined turned out to be a wonderful blessing, since it meant the resurrection of Bill’s life. She once ruined Bill’s birthday by sending him many boxes of his possessions that she’d held onto for six years after their divorce, along with hateful letters from his daughters AND adoption papers to allow him to let #3 adopt them. She can’t stand for other people to be happy, get rewarded, or otherwise enjoy connections with other people. She regularly shits on other people’s joy and tries to sabotage their successes.

Now… this isn’t really my business at all. I only know about it because Bill told me. I have a lot of empathy for younger daughter, who was always close to her older sister. I know she’d like to be closer to her now, especially since they live in separate states. But she can’t even send texts or call her without interference from Ex. She says Ex will access older daughter’s phone and read what’s on it. When younger daughter calls her sister, Ex will demand to know who’s on the phone. And she just acts like she owns the three kids who still live in her house. This is her way of maintaining control. It’s pure narcissism, and it sucks.

I am comforted in realizing, though, that Ex can’t live forever. Hopefully the ones still at home will eventually break away from her toxic bullshit and live their own lives… although she does have a child who has severe autism and will probably always need help. That’s supposedly one reason why older daughter still lives at home. Ex doesn’t take proper care of her youngest child, so older daughter, who is also reportedly on the spectrum, does it for her.

I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal that two adult sisters feel like they can’t wish each other a happy birthday without interference from their twatbag mother… (sorry, I know name calling is childish, but this shit really pisses me off). Both of Bill’s daughters are grown women and more than capable of telling their mother to fuck off. Of course, they won’t put it in those terms, since they’re LDS and don’t like to curse. Or, younger daughter is still LDS. I’m not sure about older daughter.

Apparently, now that the church is no longer an effective parental alienation tool, Ex doesn’t attend anymore. I’m sure older daughter stays home, too, especially since church members apparently tried to help her in the same way they helped younger daughter break away from her toxic mother’s influence. Some might say the church’s influence is also toxic, but I honestly don’t think it’s worse than Ex is.

I’m experienced enough to know that this problem is one that Bill’s daughters have to solve by themselves. It’s going to take them growing a backbone and insisting that their mother stay out of their business. That’s hard to do, though, when one of them still lives under Ex’s roof. It’s like older daughter is stuck in quicksand, with many people standing around the sandpit with life rings, just waiting for her to grab one and get pulled out of the toxic mire. But she won’t grab the ring.

It could be that older daughter doesn’t mind the craziness. Maybe she’s afraid of the unknown, or worries that she can’t survive on the outside. I know younger daughter told Bill that she didn’t contact him for a long time because she was afraid. She’d been told so many lies… and she worried about everything from potential abuse to a cold reception. Of course, now she’s found out that she could have always reached out to him for help, and life is soooo much better on her own terms. But it can be hard to convince people still entrenched in Ex’s private pseudo-cult that escape is possible and life is good on the outside.

I just think it’s sad– and rantworthy– that my husband’s daughters can’t trade birthday greetings without a bunch of drama from their mother… or even just the perception of potential drama. Obviously, this is something that happens a lot in Ex’s house. When younger daughter explained her apprehensiveness about sending a gift, Bill knew exactly what she meant. He remembers his days living with his ex wife, trying to do something good, kind, or nice, and somehow, she would manage to fuck it up or ruin it. She is a master at sabotaging other people’s joy and satisfaction.

I remember, after their divorce, Bill would agonize over gifts and cards he’d send to his daughters when they were kids. Of course, Ex probably never gave them the things he sent… or she’d throw them away or sell them… or somehow discount them with disparaging words about what a loser she thinks Bill is (even though she made two daughters with him and asked him to raise her older son). Apparently, she makes babies with “losers”. She’s either got terrible taste in men or she’s a fucking liar. I’m going with liar. She doesn’t appreciate decent people. In fact, the nicer and kinder a person is, the more disrespect she seems to hurl at them. Especially, if they’re men.

Anyway… I know it’s not my business or my problem. I just think it’s terribly sad, and wanted to vent about it. I don’t have a very close relationship with my three sisters, but they all managed to wish me a happy birthday last week. It was good to hear from them. It makes me sad that younger daughter now knows a little bit about the tremendous pain Bill went through in the many years he was kept exiled from his children. They can commiserate over this shared bad treatment they received from someone who should have been loving and kind to them. Every day, I wish to God he’d had those kids with me, instead of his ex wife.

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healthcare, modern problems, music

Cool your head and warm your heart…

Back in 1981, James Taylor released a beautiful song called “That Lonesome Road”. It was on his album from that same year, Dad Loves His Work, which was released around the time he and Carly Simon split up. This morning, I’m reminded of that song. It’s not as if it’s even one of my favorites of his. In fact, the first time I heard the album version of it in its acapella glory, I kind of cringed a bit. I was young and rough at the time. But then some years later, James Taylor’s Live album came out and I developed a new appreciation for it. I played it for my mom, who declared that she loved it.

Beautiful harmonies on this…

As I was opening my blog to write today, I was reminded of this part of the song…

If I had stopped to listen once or twice
If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes
If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart
I’d not be on this road tonight

Over breakfast this morning, Bill and I were talking about the crazy state of the world right now. It seems like a lot of problems are hitting us all at once. Personally, I think they’re all hitting us because we’ve gotten to the point at which we have to do something about the state of the world. The old ways of doing things are no longer sustainable and simply don’t work anymore. We’re in a crisis.

Many people are talking, but they aren’t listening or observing. Many people are reacting, often in fear or anger, but they aren’t taking a moment or two to collect themselves so they can respond with kindness and empathy. And as James Taylor and Don Grolnick conveyed in the song they wrote, if we had just been more mindful, maybe we would not be on “this road tonight”.

In many ways, I think our online culture has contributed to this problem. A lot of people seem to have lost the ability to connect to other people with empathy and kindness. We find ourselves rubbing elbows with people in comment sections for memes or news articles. Someone posts something that another person disagrees with, and instead of having a rational and civilized discussion about it, the conversation immediately devolves into a loud virtual cacophony of insults from “all knowers”. Here’s a timely example of what I mean.

Yesterday, I read a very sad story about a woman who is personally affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Elaine Roberts did not speak until she was eight years old, and at age 35, still lives with her elderly parents because she has a form of autism that makes her unable to live alone. However, she is one of the longest tenured employees at the Randalls location where she works. She has a boyfriend, and is well liked by her bosses and co-workers.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Elaine Roberts took precautions. She stopped using public transportation, wore masks and gloves, and was careful to wash her hands. Nevertheless, despite doing “everything right”, she still got sick from coronavirus. Her case of the illness was relatively mild, but unfortunately, she passed it on to her parents. Both of them became severely ill; her mother was so sick that doctors were afraid she was suicidal due to the medications she was taking. Her father is currently on a ventilator and requires dialysis.

Elaine Roberts is unable to work until she’s free of the virus. Her sister, Sidra Roman, blames people who came into the store unmasked for making her sister sick, causing her to pass the virus to their parents. She said,

“Wearing a piece of cloth, it’s a little uncomfortable… It’s a lot less uncomfortable than ventilators, dialysis lines, all of those things that have had to happen to my father. And it’s not necessarily you that’s going to get sick and get hurt.”

“Whoever came to the grocery store and didn’t wear a mask,” she added, “doesn’t know this is going on.”

I decided to read the comments for this article. Naturally, most people were blaming so-called “anti-maskers” for not doing their part. Their comments were mostly angry and insulting. They were calling anti-maskers “morons”, “covidiots”, “selfish”, and all manner of other degrading names. And anyone who did not join in the chorus was quickly “shouted down” in written form.

I noticed one commenter (not me, because I’ve given up on commenting on news forums) kept posting that social distancing is the answer. For her comments, she got mostly laughing or anger reactions, as well as many condescending rebuttals from people who have clearly attended the Google School of Medicine and think that face masks are what will ultimately save us all. It’s my guess that people assumed the woman meant that it’s okay to go out in public without a mask, but simply stay six feet away from people. They weren’t actually hearing what her proposal is. What she was saying is that people in the United States simply need to STAY HOME and give the virus a chance to peter out. If you stay away from other people as much as possible, you’ll have much less of an opportunity to contract the virus from the infected.

Personally, I agree with her. Living here in Europe, where the virus is much more under control, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when communities work together for the benefit of everyone. Spring 2020 in Europe kind of sucked, but it wasn’t all bad. Bill and I stayed home for weeks. We are fortunate enough to be in a position in which we can do that. He did (and still does) all of the grocery shopping alone, and only very occasionally went into his office when he had to do something at work that he couldn’t do from home. Other people were also doing that, and European governments were doing their part to make sure that people didn’t lose everything. There are government run social welfare safety nets in Europe, but I also saw evidence of landlords being kind to business owners– forgiving a month or two of rent so that they didn’t lose their livelihoods (although there were still some casualties).

But you can’t tell people this in America. In America, it’s complete chaos. We have a section of people who are, indeed, very selfish and only care about themselves. They won’t do anything to help anyone else. They’ve got theirs, and SCREW YOU if you don’t.

We have a section of people who are angry and confused, and don’t trust the government or healthcare professionals. Frankly, I can’t necessarily blame them for that. When you have extremely wealthy government officials who are drunk on power and totally corrupt, and you have a healthcare system that is driven by profits, it’s hard to trust them to say or do what is right. The people who don’t want to listen to officials are not necessarily “selfish” people. They just trust themselves before they trust people in authority. Don’t we tell people to question everything? Well, this is a side effect of that. You can’t ask people to think critically and not expect that when they do that, they’ll sometimes come to a conclusion that isn’t the same as what the people in power are preaching.

We have a section of people who have decided that now is the perfect time to protest. Frankly, I can’t necessarily blame them for that, either. It’s long overdue. But for better or worse, the protests are making it tougher for people to work together because people are taking sides and pointing fingers instead of simply fixing what’s wrong. It’s super easy to cast stones at people, but not so easy to take stock of what you, personally, can do to make the situation better. Moreover, the protests are putting people in close proximity to each other. Although I can see why the protests are happening, they are making it more difficult to contain the spread of the virus.

And we also have a section of people who think that because something is easy for them, it must also be easy for everyone else. Many of them refuse to listen to anyone who doesn’t share their perspective. They won’t even have a conversation about it. Instead, they post a meme or a gif that insults the person who doesn’t parrot their point of view. They insist that they’re right, and you’re wrong, and if you don’t agree with them, you’re a spoiled brat, incredibly selfish, or willfully ignorant.

Oh, but people DID have a problem with most of these examples. I remember very clearly how long it took to get people to automatically put on a seatbelt. I myself have hated seatbelts for most of my life. I still don’t like them. That doesn’t mean I don’t comply with the law, but I’d rather not be legally forced to comply. Seatbelts are also a completely different issue than face masks are. Or, at least they are in my opinion.

I’ve found that that the people who say mask wearing is “easy” often don’t want to look at the big picture. They’re usually the ones who compare wearing face masks to wearing seatbelts. In fact, I saw the above meme this morning. It’s about how we have all these safety regulations now that no one questions, yet people are fighting the masks, which they say should be “common sense”. Somehow, they forget that when most of those safety regulations, like mandatory seatbelt and helmet use, were originally implemented, there was a big backlash about them and people did rebel. Some people still refuse to wear a seatbelt, even though it’s been the law in most places in the United States for well over 30 years. Likewise, there will always be people who will refuse to wear a mask, and you won’t ever convince them to wear one.

I have repeatedly stated that I don’t agree with making face masks a legal mandate. I don’t see wearing a mask as the same thing as wearing a seatbelt. Seatbelts have ALWAYS made driving or riding in a car safer. Wearing a mask is a new thing for most people. Eight months ago, no one would bat an eye if you didn’t wear a face mask downtown. Now, certain people in the United States will look sideways at you if you simply go outside without one (thankfully, that’s not how it is in Europe, because people here are more sensible). But the vast majority of us haven’t worn a face mask FOR 99% of our lives so far. It was mostly safe not to wear one when there wasn’t a pandemic and, so far, most pandemics have eventually been controlled or contained. Many people don’t want to be expected to wear the masks forevermore. I’m one of those people. I’m hoping and expecting that we can come up with a better solution than legally forcing people to cover three quarters of their faces from now on. They should be a temporary measure until we have something better. And I expect that we eventually will have something better.

Like it or not, the face masks are problematic for a significant number of people, and once laws are made, they can be hard to strike from the books. Are the masks important right now? Yes, I can agree that they are. But, just like the commenter on the New York Times article who kept posting that social distancing is the real answer, I am not convinced that masks are what will ultimately save us.

Unfortunately, I think what’s going to have to happen in the United States is an enforced stay at home order. People simply must stay home for several weeks until the sick either get well or die, the virus has less opportunity to spread, and the healthcare system has a chance to recover. That, to me, is what social distancing really means, and it’s the only thing that will ultimately work. Face masks are for when you must be in close contact with others. Most of us don’t really have to be in contact with other people. We’re not staying home, because the almighty dollar is more important than stopping the virus. People are bored, fed up, and tired of the virus disrupting their lives, and they want to be able to come and go as they please like they could a year ago. But until we stop giving the virus the chance to spread, the situation is only going to get worse.

Masks only help a bit. They don’t completely solve the problem; they can’t save humanity; and they aren’t the whole answer to stopping the virus. As you can read in the article that inspired this post, you can do everything right, and still get sick. I’m afraid that would be the case even if every single person on the planet wore a mask– particularly when you consider that not everyone is handling the masks properly and not all masks are created equally. Those viruses are still going to circulate regardless.

Try to explain this, though, and you’ll immediately get labeled a “covidiot”, “willfully ignorant”, “selfish”, “out of touch with reality”, or “stupid”. Once you say that you don’t think masks are the answer, people jump all over you. Forget about cooling their heads and warming their hearts. They think they have all of the answers, and if you don’t share their opinions, you’re automatically a selfish asshole who is out of touch with reality.

Well… I don’t know about you, but when someone insults me, I tend to stop listening to them. I am not inclined to cooperate with them. In fact, I simply want to respond to them in kind. I have a functioning brain, just like you do. You don’t have to agree with me, but you should at least take a moment to listen and consider what I say. Even if you reject what I say, you might learn something new or consider something you hadn’t.

The fact is, people have the right to their opinions, and at least in the United States, they have the right to be heard. You might not agree with what they have to say, but you would be wise to hear them and at least try to understand where they’re coming from. That’s the only way to come up with a solution. Besides, when you make assumptions about someone else and tune out what they’re saying, you will almost always miss out on important information.

I think we’d all do well to heed the advice in James Taylor’s old song, even though he was going through some significant personal problems when he wrote it– drug addiction, divorce, and career issues, to name a few.

Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself
Don’t turn your head back over your shoulder
And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon
Is shining high above the trees

If I had stopped to listen once or twice
If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes
If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart
I’d not be on this road tonight

Carry on

Never mind feeling sorry for yourself
It doesn’t save you from your troubled mind

Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself
Don’t turn your head back over your shoulder
And only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon
Is shining high above the trees

Listen to other people… close your mouth and open your eyes. Cool your head and warm your heart. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. We’re all in this together. Even if you think someone’s a “covidiot” because they aren’t agreeing with what you think is right, it’s not productive to wish illness on them or their families. It’s not helpful to insult them or cast stones. The truth is, the coronavirus problem is a complex issue, and it’s not going to be fixed easily or quickly. We all need to cooperate, but everyone has the right to be heard. If you deny people the right to have and express an opinion, you will just make the problem worse. You don’t have to agree. Just listen and empathize and hopefully learn.

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stupid people

I feel like I’m living in an episode of ER…

Remember ER, the wildly popular show created by the late Michael Crichton? I was a super fan of it from day one. I watched it religiously from its premiere in 1994, until I left the United States for Armenia. Then, when I came back in 1997, I went back to watching it. I downloaded all of the episodes and have seen them all at least twice.

One thing I remember about ER is that the writers were always coming up with some new fantastic situation involving the cast. One episode I remember in particular involved quarantine. Everyone in the emergency department was forced to stay isolated due to an epidemic. Seems like all of the medical shows have some storyline like that one. I remember Trapper John, M.D. also had a show about an extremely dangerous and contagious plague.

A 1980 episode of Trapper John, M.D. called Quarantine. It was very memorable.

I just watched this episode again. It’s about a baby with pneumonic plague. I looked it up and I see that it’s a lot like COVID-19, only it’s caused by bacteria rather than a virus. Antibiotics would help, although it seems there isn’t a mild version like there is with COVID-19. Notice that the mom is wearing a gown, hair covering, and a face mask, but no GLOVES! And she takes off the gown while still in the room with the baby. None of the staff is wearing PPE properly. They wear gowns, but no masks or gloves.

Also, this episode is about illegal immigration, which is also oddly timely at this point. I guess we were more humane in 1980, though, because Gonzo promises the illegal alien mom that he’ll do everything he can to keep her from being deported. I shudder to think about what the conditions are like at the southern border of the United States right now.

A clip from an ER episode called “Lockdown”. I believe that one involved a smallpox outbreak.

I’m sure most medical shows have at least one episode’s storyline related to quarantines. They’re exciting and unusual, and they bring out the best– and the worst– in people. A lot of folks are panicking due to the COVID-19 crisis, and some of them are doing incredibly stupid and selfish things, just as they always do in medical dramas. This morning, I read a news article about a couple in Canada who visited a grocery store and bought out the entire meat department– two shopping carts worth of stuff.

Caught on tape cleaning out the meat section…

Dan Marcotte and his girlfriend, residents of Lake Country in British Colombia, reportedly went to a Sav On Foods and bragged about “cleaning house”, as they also wondered if they could afford to pay for all the meat they’d thrown into their carts. They’d run in front of other customers, blocking them from being able to buy meat as they proceeded to hog all of the pork, beef, and chicken. Now, Marcotte is complaining because he’s getting negative reactions from the public, including death threats.

Here in Germany, people have been “panic buying” as well. Just as it has in the United States, toilet paper has become a hot commodity, as have hand sanitizer and hand soap and, curiously, flour. However, the local powers that be have put a stop to the “Hamsterkaufen” nonsense by placing limits on the numbers of these items people can buy at a time. It seems sad to me that this would be necessary in our so-called era of civilization, but it sounds like meat products are going to have to be rationed too, to stop greedy, selfish people like Dan Marcotte and his ilk from hoarding.

Marcotte explains that he has a “big heart” and used his moving company (which gets one solitary one star review) to help people escape the wildfires in 2017 and 2018. But now he complains that people have forgotten his past kindnesses in the wake of his regrettable decision to buy up all of the meat at a grocery store. I don’t condone people threatening other people’s lives over something like this, but I also don’t blame people for thinking Marcotte is a jerk and for letting him know that he is. What he and his girlfriend did is selfish and unreasonable, and karma can be a massive bitch with big teeth.

Marcotte claims that he felt “anxious” about the virus and had bought the meat entirely for his family. He says he has a mental health problem that causes him to “overreact” in certain situations (I don’t recall ever going through anything like this before in my 47 years, but what do I know?) Well, Dan, what about other people’s families? Have you thought about that? Guess not. In fairness to Dan, I did read that he is eager to “make things right”. He donated $1000 to a local food bank, which theoretically could feed up to 3000 people. However, he reportedly has no plans to return the meat he’s hoarding. I wonder if Dan has considered that money is very nice, but if there’s nothing to buy with it, it’s worthless. He says he’s still getting death threats and negative publicity, which will surely affect his business. I don’t think he deserves to have his livelihood destroyed, but he really should give back some of that meat.

As for Bill… he was finally let off “ROM” (restriction of movement) status yesterday, so he went to the commissary, where his temperature was taken, hands were washed, and he was allowed to shop in a group of about fifteen people at a time. He said it was a pretty relaxed shopping experience, although a lot of the shelves were cleaned out. Although there was plenty of TP available, he couldn’t find any hand soap that wasn’t in a bar form. Naturally, there was also no hand sanitizer, and Bill found three bags of flour– one all purpose and two self rising. He got the last of the all purpose flour.

Meanwhile, my allergies are acting up, and I have a very annoying dry cough. But that’s normal for me at this time of year. I don’t feel sick and don’t have a fever, and I mostly isolate myself even when there isn’t a “plague”. Hopefully, once the pollination is finished, I’ll stop coughing and wheezing. Asthma is not a joke, but it’s probably more humorous than a bout with the COVID-19 virus is.

I know there have also been some good stories about people being kind and generous. I guess this story about the “meat packers” really amazed me. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. People can be very selfish and greedy, particularly during a crisis. This is a time when people show their true colors. I just hope it’s not an extended time, because I’m not sure how long people are going to be able to tolerate this “new normal”.

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Regrettable decisions…

The other day, I was messing around on YouTube and I noticed that I was getting suggestions to watch videos by Dhar Mann. I don’t really know who Dhar Mann is… I can only surmise after watching a couple of his videos that he’s some kind of guru who teaches people to be kind and compassionate and gets people to attend his talks by giving them money.

Interesting that this video was shared during a time when people are being encouraged to socially isolate…

Don’t get me wrong. This video is, overall, sharing a good message. I have been in Chelsea’s situation, although I’m not nearly as big as she is, and no one was ever that overtly nasty to me. It happened to me about eleven years ago, when Bill and I were in Germany the first time. We went to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, because Bill had to go to a conference at the Edelweiss Conference Center down there. I entertained myself by taking “field trips” with the tour service.

Although I had been on the tours before, prior to that summer trip, we had always visited in the winter, and the tours were a lot less populated. Consequently, I was surprised by how packed they were when I took them during that week we were in Garmisch. Every seat on the bus was taken, except for one by me. Some guy sat next to me and barely made eye contact with me all day. He seemed to radiate hostility, just because he didn’t get to the bus early enough to get a seat with his family and he had to sit next to me. I remember thinking he was a major asshole. I wondered how he would felt if some random guy treated his wife the way he treated me that day. And, just because I’m admittedly not always such a kind person myself, I wished for him to get a flat tire on his way home.

Anyway… since I watched the above video, I see I’ve been getting more of Dhar Mann’s stuff on YouTube. They all seem to have the same theme and use the same actors. The mean bitch in the above video plays a selfish, skanky homewrecker in another video. Dhar Mann presents scenarios that depict people making selfish, short-sighted, mean spirited decisions that bite them in the ass later. Or the characters gain new perspective somehow when new information comes to light– things are not always as they seem.

Oops! Richard got caught with his pants down. That actress plays “bitchy” very well.
But she’s not bitchy in this one.

I can kind of relate to the video below. I can see why Evelyn’s ex divorced her. She’s nasty and vindictive. But when the ex husband gives his ex wife a bit of perspective, she simmers down and the video ends on a (probably unrealistic) optimistic note.

Cindy is probably a much nicer stepmom than I would have been, though.

Evelyn is nicer than Ex is, by a very long measure. Ex literally hates me. She wishes me ill. For a long time, I pretty much felt the same way about her. Now, I’m at the point of not caring about her anymore. I never thought I’d get there, but Bill’s ability to reconnect with his daughter has “softened” my heart somewhat. I still think she’s awful for alienating her children and using them as weapons. I still think she’s done a lot of reprehensible things, not just to Bill, but to her own offspring and even her current husband and other family members. But I don’t think about her very much anymore. I think karma has had its way with her… and that’s kind of what Dhar Mann seems to be preaching in his many YouTube videos. They’re kind of cheesy and simplistic, but they convey good messages, on the whole.

Being kind is a good thing. I think it’s better to be kind and understanding whenever possible. On the other hand, sometimes it’s necessary to be less understanding and kind. You don’t have to go out of your way to screw someone over, but you can be assertive and let people experience the natural negative consequences when they do something shitty. Sometimes, that’s the best way to teach people how to behave. My husband is one of the kindest, most considerate people ever, but if you cross his red line, there will be consequences. Fortunately, it takes a long time to get to that point. You really have to mess up on an epic scale. And he’s never nasty about it, either. He just defends himself, as anyone who’s made a living fighting wars will do. People are fooled by him because he’s so nice and accommodating, but he’s had a successful career as a soldier. When it comes down to it, he will do what soldiers are trained to do.

Dhar Mann’s videos are obviously very popular. He has a lot of followers and a whole lot of videos that show how it’s best to be kind and decent. Sometimes, there’s stuff you don’t know about going on that makes a person seem one way when they aren’t really that way. On the other hand, sometimes a hat is just a hat… and a hate is just a hate. And you don’t have to be nasty to combat it, but you shouldn’t be expected to turn the other cheek for that kind of treatment. Paybacks can be a real bitch.

One more for the road… Another bitch getting her ass handed to her for being a bitch.
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