Bill, complaints, modern problems, music, rants

It’s already been kind of an exasperating day…

Like many good children coming of age in the South in the 70s and 80s, I was well-acquainted with the corny hillbilly variety show, Hee Haw, from an early age. This morning, I am thinking of Kenny Rogers’ ex-wife, Marianne Gordon, who starred on that show in the 80s, as a southern belle who regaled everyone with stories about her fictitious daddy, “The Colonel”. She always started her skits off by saying, “It’s been an exasperating day.” That’s kind of how I feel today.

I have to admit, I liked this show. It’s less toxic than ANTM is.

It started with washing the sheets… always a pain in the ass, but especially when I also wash the duvet covers. We also decided to rotate the mattress, to redistribute the lumps in the mattress. My lower back was hurting, so I wasn’t much help. Bill got it turned on his own. Then, I realized the issue probably isn’t the mattress as much as it is the feather topper. It either needs to be replaced, or we need to get used to sleeping without it. Really, we need a new mattress, but it’s not so easy to get an American king sized mattress in Germany.

Then, once I got that mess straightened out, I had to wrestle the duvet into the duvet cover, which is quite an annoying task with a king sized duvet. I managed to do it without breaking out in too much of a sweat.

I sat down to write this morning’s blog post, but then got sidetracked by my music library. A few months ago, I replaced my old computer, but not all of my music moved over on the cloud. Consequently, I’ve got some “greyed out” files on my new computer. I end up having to manually move the music by using an external drive. The files don’t always successfully make it on the external drive, so I have to do it again. It’s a hassle, but worth it to me, because I love my music collection that much. I think I spent about an hour on that today, and I’m not even done with the task. Every day, I move more files, and it seems like the job is never ending.

I finally had to quit moving files, because I was getting so frustrated. It is kind of satisfying to see the greyed out files turn black, though.

I recorded a couple of new songs yesterday. One song went off pretty much perfectly. The other one was a real pain to get right. It’s not actually as perfect as I’d like it to be, but I was determined to get it up yesterday, so I settled for less. I got a comment from someone who thought it was my equipment that caused the issue, but no… it was a psychological issue. You know how, when you try to do something and you mess up, you kind of psych yourself out when you try again? That was me when I was trying to record “All I Have”. I did it nine years ago and it turned out just about perfectly, but no one ever hits that video because it has photos instead of me on camera. Nine years ago, no one watched my channel. Now, I have more people who pay attention to it.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll try again in nine years.

Last night, I found out that a British guy I met in 2011, while on a SeaDream cruise, is going to be joining Bill and me next month on our Regent cruise. He and his wife hung out with us on that cruise and we kept in touch for awhile, but then drifted apart. Looks like we’ll be seeing each other again. What are the odds?

Actually, that kind of stuff happens to me a lot. I have a knack for running into people I either used to know, or who know people I know. Here’s an example. Back in the late 1990s, I waited tables at a nice restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. One day, I waited on a couple with Irish accents. I asked them where they were from, and they said they came from Belfast. I told them I had a friend from there who lived in Newtownards (a suburb). We worked at a tiny Presbyterian church camp in the summer of 1994, then we traveled through Europe with his now wife, who’d also worked at the camp. The couple said, “Was your friend’s name Chris Sheals?”

Sure enough, it was… and it turned out he was their next door neighbor. What are the odds? There are lots of restaurants in Williamsburg, and plenty of waiters. Somehow, they found their way to my section.

Another time, a friend and I crashed at a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer’s apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria for about a week. When we got back to the States, I went to the Peace Corps office in Washington, DC to do some career networking. There wasn’t an event going on, or anything. I just went there on a whim. Sure enough, I ran into that guy whose apartment we crashed in Bulgaria… he was from New York and had come to the office for the same reasons I did. Again, totally unplanned…

And, here’s a final example. In the spring of 1999, I went to the Peace Corps office in DC again, that time with a friend I knew from Peace Corps/Armenia. I had planned to meet that friend. We went into the office and ran into another person from our group, Matt Jensen. And it’s funny that I’m writing this today, because Matt died two years ago in Brooklyn, when someone ran into him and left him for dead. I’ve written about Matt before… and that was the last time I saw him, on that day in the Peace Corps office, completely by chance. Incidentally, we’re still waiting for justice regarding Matt’s death. The wheels of justice are moving way too slow.

Those are just a few examples I can think of offhand of my running into people, but it actually seems to happen to me a lot. I run into people, or find out I know someone another person knows… or I end up connecting them with someone else who has a connection. It seems to be one of my special and more memorable traits. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to be bumping into someone I met years ago on another cruise… My world seems to be particularly small. 😉

Even meeting Bill was kind of like that. We met in a chat room in 1999. In 2001, before we met in person, he went to a convention in Little Rock, Arkansas… where he ran into my aunt’s brother, Ralph. Ralph was a member of the Kansas National Guard, while Bill was in the Arkansas Guard. But Bill wasn’t with the Arkansas people, because he was federalized. Ralph was in the Kansas Guard, but he lives in Virginia… Sure enough, they bumped into each other, and chatted. Later, Ralph told me he’d met my “boyfriend”. I laughed and said he wasn’t my boyfriend. We hadn’t even met in person at that point. Ralph said, “Oh, trust me, he’s your boyfriend. And don’t worry. He’s okay.”

I was nervous about meeting Bill, since we met online. Ralph also had the benefit of being a former Virginia State Trooper, which made him a pretty good judge of character. Twenty years later, you can see that Ralph was right that Bill is “okay”. And I guess he WAS my boyfriend, after all.

Well… I guess I should end this post. I am feeling calmer now, so I guess I’ll practice guitar and take Noyzi for a walk, then maybe make another video, or finish reading my freakin’ book. Later, y’all.

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blog news, language, musings, true crime

I need to work on my titles, don’t I?

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

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

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

Looking for pussy…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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