blog news, travel

We are leaving town for the weekend…

I don’t have time to write a lengthy rant this morning, although I’ve already gotten into it with a couple of pro-life males today. One of them even argued that those of us who are pro-choice should not be so against their gun rights, since we are so much in favor of “murdering” defenseless embryos. This same dude compared reproductive rights to genocide, as he argued that he should be allowed to carry his guns. I’d say he’s not a mental giant… I finally had to wish him a nice day.

Bill and I are going to Stuttgart to see the dentist. Our appointments are on Monday, but we decided to just take the weekend and enjoy our old stomping grounds.

If we have decent weather, maybe we’ll even take a hike… but it looks like there’s going to be rain this weekend. No matter. We booked our favorite hotel in Stuttgart, and their best suite. So, I expect we’ll have a good time, even though we have to see the dentist and it’s possible my last remaining baby tooth will finally need to be pulled. The dentist said he wants to refill it, but it’s in pretty beat up shape. It may be time for another implant.

It’s been a weird week, anyway, without Arran around. We sure miss him.

I’ll take the laptop computer. Maybe there will be a decent rant or two from me while we’re gone.

The featured photo is a mallard I spotted yesterday on my walk with Noyzi.

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Military, musings, psychology, technology

What the hell is the meaning of all of this?

This week, I’ve been writing about some learning curves I’ve been handling as I’ve tried to make our house “smarter”. The “smart house” project has invariably left me feeling dumber, as I’ve repeatedly run into roadblocks in my quest to “modernize” and “simplify” my life. Life will often show you that sometimes trying to make things easier invariably leads to making things more complicated.

I did manage to solve a couple of annoying and persistent problems, though. For instance, we weren’t awakened at midnight by the lamp in the bedroom turning itself on, as it did the first two nights after I installed “smart light bulbs”. I figured out what was causing the light to turn on by itself and toggled the switch in the opposite direction. I won’t know if I was successful with the downstairs lamp that was doing the same thing until later today. I do have a feeling the issue is now fixed, though. I might as well think positive, right?

Yesterday, I was flummoxed by an issue with my blogs. My friend Thomas mentioned that he wasn’t able to comment. Since I don’t usually comment on my own posts, I was unaware of the problem. I thought my writing was just sucking unusually hard lately. Even my other friend, Alex, who is probably the current number one commenter, was as silent as the grave. I know Alexis, who is a long time reader, is very busy with her life right now, since she just got married and has embarked on her career.

I tried to summon help via WordPress. I clicked on the “support” button and was engaged in a chat, but then got knocked offline. Later, when I was back online, I couldn’t find the chat, so gave up on that. I resigned myself to trying again later, when I was in a better mood. What really annoyed me is the fact that I had just spent $500 to renew the site for two more years.

In the process of trying to troubleshoot my comment issues, I accidentally ended up deleting StatCounter from my site, which made it look like no one was reading the blog. That made me think about something that happened a few years ago, when we first moved to Wiesbaden. I think of that time as a low point in my “blogging career”.

At that time, we were having serious issues with our former landlady trying to bully Bill into letting her keep most of our security deposit. I think she had actually planned to keep all of it, but Bill protested, so she gave us about 660 euros (out of 3200). She made some false accusations to support her attempt to “take the piss”, as the Brits and Irish like to put it.

What made matters worse is the actions of the former tenant, who had lived in the house just before us, and was, unbeknownst to me, monitoring my blogs. She sent me a mocking private message, shaming me for being so “mean” to the former landlady. This person didn’t actually know me very well. She’d met me offline twice, back in 2014, and had otherwise formed her (apparently negative) opinions of me on what she’d read in my posts and heard from the ex landlady. She basically implied that I was a loser and my blog sucked. It was a sentiment that was echoed by other people in our community, although I know not everyone felt that way.

As you might imagine, ex landlady’s behavior really pissed us off. I vented about it in a couple of posts, though I never named any names. Former tenant disagreed with my assessment of my own situation and, for whatever reason, decided to try to intervene on our ex landlady’s behalf. Because I didn’t really know her very well, it was hard to determine if she was just trying to cover her own ass, or if she really thought I’m an awful person. She also made a false accusation that was pretty hurtful.

We eventually sued the former landlady, and I moved my blogs to WordPress, which required another learning curve. Then we got hit with COVID-19, which pretty much killed my once vibrant travel blog. Taking that action meant starting over, to some extent. I think WordPress is a better platform, current technical difficulties notwithstanding. Starting over has also been good, for the most part, although it has meant reposting a lot of stuff.

Back in late 2018-2019, I was feeling legitimately sad for several reasons. Bill and I had really enjoyed living in the Stuttgart area. It was our favorite of his duty stations when he was on active duty in the Army. In spite of our housing issues during our second stint, we still delighted in living in that area when we came back to Germany.

I made the mistake of getting too involved in the local military community, especially with a blog called “The Overeducated Housewife”, which seemed to really trigger some people. I wasn’t a blogger when we were in Stuttgart the first time, and Facebook was still in its infancy. In the five years we were back in the States, the community became overrun with Facebook groups. I joined way too many of them, which led to unpleasant interactions with strangers. It wasn’t unlike spending all day on a Facebook comment section for a major newspaper, if you catch my drift. Add in the fact that there were a lot of bloggers who were “competing” for readers and the odd “professional jealousy”. It wasn’t fun, although I had a lot more readers back then.

Regardless of the dysfunctional military community and my place within it, the Stuttgart area still held a lot of appeal for us. I hated that we were leaving Stuttgart on bad terms with our former landlady, whom we really had tried to appease on multiple occasions. I was also genuinely sad to be leaving Stuttgart. In spite of everything, we had loved living there. I actually still miss it. I don’t miss the drama, though, nor do I miss dealing with mean people.

Four years later, I’m now extremely glad we moved. For multiple reasons, Wiesbaden has been a big improvement for us. We have a much better house, and a landlord who is genuinely kind and respectful. Yes, we pay a lot more rent, but we get treated like adults. We enjoy our privacy, and I don’t feel like I have to keep everything to our landlord’s standards. He likes our dogs, and has outwardly stated that he wants us to be happy. Our community is very inclusive and friendly.

I didn’t join a bunch of local Facebook groups, so I am not immersed in local dramas. Wiesbaden is a smaller installation, and the people who come here are mainly older Army folks, rather than people from all of the services. Stuttgart had a lot of young and immature people and sometimes, it felt very high school.

Although we are happier in Wiesbaden, sometimes I still feel like writing my blogs is a waste of time. Few people bother with the travel blog. I can’t blame them, since we have been traveling less due to COVID and Arran’s lymphoma. Writing my main blog sometimes feels pointless. I wonder why I still do it, especially when people can’t comment… or don’t want to. Or I come off like an asshole, even though I’m just writing about what’s in my head at the time.

Then a few months ago, Bill got curious about the former tenant who had been trying to interfere and had caused me so much angst in 2019. I unblocked her and found out that she’d committed suicide. While I hadn’t had any interactions with her whatsoever since 2019, I still felt bad about her decision to kill herself. I wondered what led to it. I couldn’t help but wonder if the former landlady blamed me for it, as irrational as that thought might seem. She seemed to blame me for everything else.

Former tenant and former landlady seemed to have this weird “mother/daughter” relationship going on. All I was looking for was a place to live. I ended up unwittingly becoming part of a strange “triangle” of sorts, as former landlady and former tenant were apparently talking shit about Bill and me, and invading our privacy. Then, when it finally went south, former tenant seemed to want to justify her interference. I could probably write an interesting short story about it… if I didn’t feel so weird about writing fiction now. Again… courtesy of former tenant, who felt the need to mock me for that, too.

So all of this shit came up last night, as I was lamenting dealing with the blog’s technological issues, and the fact that I felt like I was throwing messages in bottles in the blogosphere. Suddenly, I felt frustrated. I said to Bill, “I really don’t know why I keep blogging.”

Bill said, “I like what you write. You are a great storyteller. You have a way of turning any subject into something conversational.”

Then I smiled, remembering that Bill met me in a chat room. He used to read my erotic stories. I wrote them when I was in graduate school. They were cheap entertainment for both of us… a good distraction from public health and social work courses and internships. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my programs. It’s more that I’ve always had an innate need to write. I’ve always done it. I was always good at creative writing in school.

In the same way, I make music… or, I sing other people’s songs… at least for now. I’m still working on becoming a better guitar player. Maybe when that happens, I’ll write an original song. That could be a goal. My YouTube channel has picked up more followers lately, although I still don’t have that many. My song covers on YouTube are less controversial than my blog posts are. ūüėČ

So, I guess the meaning of all of this is… I write because I’ve got nothing better to do, other than scrubbing lime stains out of the toilet, picking up dog shit in the backyard, and doing the laundry. I’m not a super happy housewife, but I’m probably happier doing that than working in a dead end job or waiting tables. I tell myself the blog is for me. If anyone else reads and enjoys it, so much the better. I actually like to read old posts, because they remind me of times past. I especially like the book reviews. But does it make me a worthwhile and productive person? Who knows? If people can’t or won’t comment, I can only guess.

It’s still easy to get discouraged, though. It’s discouraging when you rent a place to live, and the former tenant acts as a tattletale/spy and then kills herself. It’s discouraging when people are shitty because they don’t like the name of the blog, even if they’ve never even read it. It’s discouraging when no one can comment or wants to comment… or it looks like no one is even reading. It all starts to feel really pointless and dumb.

If I didn’t have my blogs, though, I’d probably still spend my time doing equally pointless and potentially destructive things. Blogging, in a sense, keeps me out of trouble and forces me to use my mind. But then, I post something that gets me into trouble… Maybe it’s better to write these things than say them out loud.

Ah well. I’ll probably have to engage the WordPress support people again soon. But for now, I hope some people are able to post comments, if they wish. I also hope those who do post comments remember that there’s a person behind the screen. Be gentle.

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book reviews, mental health, narcissists

Repost: Sociopaths hiding in plain sight…

I wrote this post for my original Blogger version of The Overeducated Housewife on February 4, 2016. I’m reposting it today, because it included an old Epinions review of a very good book I read years ago. I anticipate that this post will be mostly reposted as/is– that is, minimal or no editing of the original content. At the time I wrote this piece, we were living in Stuttgart, and I noticed someone who appeared to be a bit of a sociopath. That hunch was confirmed the following year. I’m no longer in the Facebook group I mentioned.

A few years ago, I read a fascinating book by Dr. Martha Stout called¬†The Sociopath Next Door. ¬†I reviewed the book on Epinions and have included my review at the bottom of this page for your perusal. ¬†It’s a very good book and I wish I had brought my copy of it with me to Germany. ¬†I am reminded of it this morning as I consider something that happened in our local community the other day.

On the sociopathic guy’s Facebook page…

A father posted about a scary incident involving his daughter.  She was walking home alone when she was confronted by a strange man who said he wanted to talk to her.  The girl said no and kept walking.  The man continued to try to engage her, so she ran from him.  He chased her.  Fortunately, she was able to escape.

The father of this girl was very upset–  livid, actually– that his daughter would be harassed this way on a military installation.  Most people who were responding to his post were very kind and comforting.  They commented on how scary the situation must have been for the girl and expressed happiness and relief that she was okay.  The vast majority of commenters were outraged that this had happened in our community and were very supportive.

There was one commenter, though, who seemed to be taking a rather adversarial view.  He questioned the father’s version of events.  At one point, he even called the father a nasty euphemism referring to a certain part of the female anatomy.  When he was called out for being so contentious, the trollish commenter changed his tone to one that was superficially more supportive.  He commented that he himself has daughters and would be concerned about their welfare.  Then, curiously, he asked the father if his daughter had been able to tell if the person who had confronted her was a grown man or a kid.

I had noticed this particular commenter before.  He struck me as being intelligent, charming, and even funny.  My initial impressions of him were somewhat positive to neutral.  He didn’t make me suspicious.  In fact, at first blush, he seemed likable.  But then I saw him in action last night and my mind changed.

I’ll be honest.  I hadn’t been paying strict attention to this guy’s comments, other than noticing that they had turned the mood of that thread noticeably pissy.  The father whose daughter was confronted responded in a hostile way when the commenter asked him to clarify his daughter’s story.  Then I saw the way he changed his tone and it seemed to me that he was trying to knock the father off guard. 

A couple of ladies in another local group noticed some sketchy posts the commenter had put up in a different private group.  The posts did not suggest that he was a concerned father of three girls or even someone who respects women.  He posted a joke about how all of Taylor Swift’s songs are about guys leaving her and none were about blowjobs.  He also posted a picture of a woman in tiny bootie shorts and no top.  On the very tiny shorts was written “Fuck me like you hate me.”  I took a look at the man’s Facebook page and the photo that appears at the top of this post was once used as his cover photo. 

One of the ladies dared to ask, “Do you think maybe the commenter is the one who harassed that guy’s daughter?”  I have to admit, after weighing the evidence and taking a good look at the guy’s comments, I kind of wonder that myself.

Let me be very clear. ¬†I have no idea if the commenter was the guy who harassed the girl who was trying to walk home. ¬†I also don’t know if he’s a sociopath or a narcissist. ¬†However, the things he’s posted are¬†very suspicious. ¬†One thing I’ve noticed about narcissistic types is that they usually don’t really hide. ¬†They thrive on drama and get off on seeing what kind of havoc they wreak. ¬†All sociopaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are sociopaths. ¬†The fact that the commenter had once used a photo with a caption about sociopaths is very telling, even if it could be explained away. ¬†Bill looked up the photo and said it came from¬†Sherlock Holmes. ¬†Even so, my question is why would a normal person even want to suggest that they¬†might¬†be a sociopath?¬†

According to The Sociopath Next Door, one out of every twenty-five people is a sociopath.  Our local Facebook group has over two thousand people in it.  Chances are good that there are a bunch of sociopaths lurking around in there.  I, for one, am going to keep my eyes peeled. 

Sounds like a few people I know.

And below is a reposted Epinions review I wrote about Martha Stout’s excellent book, The Sociopath Next Door. I wrote the review on January 29, 2010.

Last week, while I was in Murfreesboro, Tennessee looking for ways to occupy my time, I stopped by a Books-A-Million. If all else fails when I’m killing time, I can usually find some books to read so that I don’t go crazy. My stop at the bookstore looked like it was going to be unsuccessful until I happened to wander into the psychology section. It was at that point that I found the three books that have kept me busy for the past week. There, on the shelf, nestled between books about borderline personality disorder and narcissism, was Martha Stout’s 2005 book, The Sociopath Next Door. Since I’ve been doing some research about narcissism, I thought it was only logical that I do some reading about the narcissist’s close cousin, the sociopath.

Martha Stout, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice. She has served on the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard University for twenty-five years. Aside from being an experienced teacher and clinician, she’s also a very captivating writer. Using vivid examples presented in story form, she accurately presents a clear picture of what a sociopath is, constantly reminding her readers that they are much more common in our society than they might care to believe.

What is a sociopath?

Sociopaths are people who look just like you and me. The difference is, they have no conscience and no feelings, not even for their own psychological or emotional pain. They may be very good at acting like they have feelings, but acting is all they’re doing. They learn how to behave like a regular human being the way a normal person would learn a second language. Any tears they shed are “crocodile tears” and mean absolutely nothing other than to put on a convincing show. They’re somewhat similar to narcissists, except narcissists do have feelings for their own psychological pain and can get their feelings hurt. Sociopaths, by contrast, are completely cold and calculating. They will sell out their own mother or their children if it will help them get ahead.

How prevalent are sociopaths?

Martha Stout estimates that there’s one sociopath in every group of twenty-five people. That makes it more common than many major illnesses that we hear so much about in the media. And yet, a lot of people don’t know anything about this psychological phenomenon. Stout writes that we’re often too quick to dismiss antisocial behavior as a misunderstanding. Or we overlook it because we don’t want to “rock the boat”. Many Americans, as a whole, are often way too nice for their own good. Sociopaths count on that quality to further their agendas and get ahead.

Where can you find sociopaths?

Naturally, one can find sociopaths in prison, though Stout writes that most prisoners aren’t, in fact, sociopaths. The truth is, sociopaths really are everywhere.  The ones that end up in prison are the ones who go too far with their aberrant behavior and get caught.  Stout brilliantly provides examples that illustrate what typical garden variety sociopaths look like.

Take, for instance, that crotchety next door neighbor of yours who’s so mean to everyone and does everything in his or her power to make people miserable. Some people might dismiss that person as simply unlikeable. Stout demonstrates how, upon closer examination, that person might be a sociopath.

How about that spouse (or perhaps ex spouse) who is content to sit around all day and do nothing while you slave away at work and at home? Yes, it’s true that not everyone gets married for love. As Stout illustrates in another example, some people marry because it means they can stop pulling their own weight.  If they have no appreciation for their partner’s work or conscience about their own sloth, they might be a sociopath.

What about that seemingly competent professional who is suddenly very publicly embroiled in a scandal over their credentials, or lack thereof? In one shocking example, Stout shows how a sociopath might get away with not quite being qualified for a job and how that person might use their position to belittle other people.  

What causes sociopaths?

Stout explores what might cause someone to become a sociopath. Apparently, some factors are preventable while other factors aren’t.

My thoughts about this book

I really liked this book. Martha Stout has a very effective way of explaining the subject; it’s entertaining and informative. She not only explains what sociopaths are, she also explains how people might be able to spot narcissists and what they can do to protect themselves from them. Toward the end of the book, she also explains why it’s good to have a conscience. Sociopaths often die unpleasant deaths because of the terrible things they do to other people. They’re often either completely alone or they die violently, by murder or suicide. According to Stout, it’s somewhat rare for a true sociopath to leave this world in a mundane way, surrounded by friends and family. Strangely, I found some comfort in that revelation… wonder if that makes me a sociopath, too?

One negative I can come up with regarding this book is that there seemed to be a few sections in which Stout seemed to ramble a bit. A few paragraphs were a little longer than I thought they needed to be– she’d made her point and it seemed like she was reiterating unnecessarily. But even in those rare situations, the writing was interesting enough that I didn’t mind it so much. And I did learn a lot reading this book.

The other negative for me was that in a couple of chapters, Stout seeemed to be veering a little close to getting political and promoting an agenda. She mentions war and how it’s often based on “holy” principles, religion, and righteous indignation. I will agree that a lot of wars have to do with religion. But personally, I don’t think wars are all bad or unnecessary. It’s true that a lot of people die during wars and a lot of those deaths are senseless and tragic. But, in the same vein, a lot of people are also born because of wars. And in many ways, wars force cultural integration and innovation. She writes that until people start to recognize and contain the sociopaths in our midst, there will never be peace. I submit that permanent world peace is an unattainable goal. Even if world peace were attainable, I would think it would make things kind of boring here on planet Earth.  Imagine how dull life would be if everyone were good and had honorable intentions… we wouldn’t need books like The Sociopath Next Door.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend¬†The Sociopath Next Door¬†to anyone who’s interested in psychology or thinks he or she may be dealing with a sociopath.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through links on my site.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, memories, mental health, Military, reviews

“Who cares what they think?”

This morning, Bill and I decided to take a day jaunt to the French ville of Bitche. I will admit, part of the reason I wanted to go there is because the town’s name tickles me. But I also wanted to go because a friend of mine went there a few years ago, before she moved to Hawaii. She mentioned that the town was militarily important. I told Bill about it, and he decided he was interested. So today, we went, and we had a fabulous lunch and walked around a bit.

On the way to Bitche, I recalled an incident from 2009, when we were forced to leave Germany a year early, because one of Bill’s narcissistic ex bosses decided to fuck with our lives. Not only did we have to leave early, we also spent four uncomfortable nights in a government hotel that is now, mercifully, defunct. On top of that, one of our dogs was dying of prostate cancer, but he wasn‚Äôt quite ready to go to the Rainbow Bridge. I was upset for a lot of reasons, most of which having to do with my feeling like I wasn’t in control of my own life. I mean, we weren’t even “allowed” to choose where to spend our last few nights in Germany, and the hotel where we had to stay was not very conducive to our needs. So I wrote a review of the place on Epinions.com

I really don’t think I was that harsh in my review, although it was clearly a mostly negative report. Below is a repost of what I wrote for Epinions in 2009.

God willing, my husband Bill and I, along with our two beagles, Flea and MacGregor, will be checking into a hotel in or near Atlanta, Georgia tomorrow afternoon. After spending the past few days at the Hilltop Hotel at Robinson Barracks near Stuttgart, Germany, I can’t say I’m sorry to be switching venues. In fact, I think I would have been happy to switch venues within Germany, if we’d only had a choice in the matter.

A captive audience

Hilltop Hotel is a hotel specifically for people who have business with the U.S. government within the Stuttgart area. It’s located on Robinson Barracks, which is a U.S. government installation; therefore, the general public can’t access this hotel. On the other hand, military and government employees must use the Hilltop Hotel and other government run facilities if there is space available. The Stuttgart area currently has three such facilities; a fourth one is under construction. When Bill and I first came to Germany two years ago, the three government run hotels in Stuttgart were booked solid, so we spent six weeks living in a German hotel very close to where Bill worked.

When it came time for us to leave, there was space available on the “pet floor” at Hilltop Hotel. I was not too pleased about this development, mainly because Robinson Barracks is located quite a distance away from the other three military posts in the Stuttgart area. Robinson Barracks is a pretty area, but it mostly consists of housing, an elementary and middle school, a post office, and a small “CX”, which is a combined commissary and post exchange. There is a bus that runs to the other installations, all of which are at least 30 minutes away. Unfortunately, I have two dogs, and they’re not allowed to ride the bus.  Our cars are currently on different ships bound for the USA.

Our room

Bill and I checked into the Hilltop Hotel on Tuesday, September 8th. I was in a foul mood because we’d been working all day to clean up our German house. I was tired, sore, and hungry. We took the elevator to the fourth floor, where all the other pet owners are assigned, and took a stroll to room 404. My mood worsened when we opened the door and I got a look at the bed we’d all be sharing. Covered with a cheap floral spread, the bed looked pretty small. It’s supposedly a queen, but really felt more like a full… especially with our two beagles on board.

I looked around the room and took everything else in. There was a wall unit with a microwave, coffee maker, small refrigerator, television, DVD/VCR player, and a telephone (which didn’t seem to work very well). The television carried local German channels, as well as Armed Forces Network (AFN) satellite channels, a couple of BBC channels, and a few other British stations. Curiously, there was one channel that appeared to be Polish and aired Polish commercials, yet broadcasted programming in English. There was also a DSL connection located near the TV. A cord reached the small, beat up desk located next to the door.  A small clock radio sat on the desk, while a safe, iron, and ironing board were located in the closet. A ceiling fan capably circulated the air and made the tight bed space a little more bearable.

The rooms at the Hilltop Hotel have a lot of storage space, probably because a lot of people end up spending weeks at this hotel as they do temporary work in the Stuttgart area or wait for housing.  Because we were in a “pet room”, our room was not carpeted. Instead, it had a faux wood-like floor covering. Actually, I liked that, since the lack of carpeting was easier on my allergies.  The decor is strictly early 80s “country” style… cheap, tacky, and kind of depressing.

The bathroom

The bathroom had a shower, sink, a hairdryer, and a toilet. Housekeeping had thoughtfully left us a little basket of cheap toiletries with soap, shampoo, and lotion. A small mending kit came in handy when I found a splinter in my finger. When we first checked in, there was only one full sized towel in the bathroom.

I found using the shower and the toilet rather annoying for different reasons. Though the shower had excellent water pressure, it also had a small seat in it that cut down on the space available for standing up. Every time I took a shower, my elbow hit the tap, inadvertently knocking it either to an unacceptably hotter or colder temperature. I found the toilet annoying because of the way the bowl was shaped. Unlike the usual “shelf-style” toilets one finds in Europe, this toilet seemed to be rather shallow and narrow. Consequently, every time I took a dump, I had to use the toilet brush to scrub the residue from the side of the bowl where it would invariably end up sticking in a disgusting splatter.

Sleep

Bill and I found the bed in our room very uncomfortable. We are used to sleeping in a king sized bed, so the bed felt very small to us. But even if it had been a king sized bed, the mattress felt too hard. Consequently, my back was killing me for the duration of our stay.  I think this problem was also exacerbated by the horrible chair at the desk, which was very uncomfortable and not particularly functional.

Eats

There is no restaurant on-site, though there is one next to the hotel that is open five days a week. Breakfast is included with the room and is served in the lobby. It’s typical continental fare– bagels, muffins, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, juice, coffee, and hot chocolate. Be careful to look before you eat. Bill opened one carton of yogurt and found a couple of spots of penicillin growing on the lid.

The restaurant next to the Hilltop Hotel serves edible food to go. The best meal we had from there was the roasted half chicken with fries. However, we had a couple of less tasty meals from there, too. One night, Bill brought me what appeared to be a “fish and chips” inspired meal. The fish looked like it had been baked to the point of almost being burnt on the bottom, then frozen. It was still pretty cold in the middle when it was served.

Other facilities

One nice thing about the Hilltop Hotel is that there’s a laundry room on the ground floor. There are five or six washers and dryers and they can be used free of charge. A vending machine dispenses laundry detergent, fabric softener, snacks, and drinks, as well.  In the lobby, there are books, videos, and DVDs available to borrow.  I also heard a rumor that Lifecycle exercise equipment was available in the hotel, but I never sought it out.

There’s a little outdoor area next to the hotel where folks can smoke or have a little picnic. Each floor has a kitchen, though one must go to the front desk for a key. There’s a storage area in the bottom of the hotel where guests are encouraged to store excess luggage. And parking is free.

Service

I thought the housekeeping service did a good job. We didn’t ask them to service our room every day. On the days we did have them clean, they did a thorough job. At the very least, they emptied our trash cans every day and exchanged our towels.

I thought the service at the front desk was less impressive. First off, Bill was supposed to pay up front for our stay. When he tried to take care of that, the clerk had computer problems. The next morning, he went down to pay, and the clerk charged him the wrong amount. A different clerk seemed to have a terminally sour disposition. When my key card stopped working one afternoon, I went to the desk with my dogs to get some help. The sour clerk was on the phone and refused to acknowledge me, until my dogs started freaking out at the sight of other dogs. He shot me a dirty look. I shot one right back to him. It was only at that point that he got someone to help me. When Bill tried to call me, he asked that particular clerk to connect him to our room. The guy ended up hanging up on him instead. Only one of the three clerks we encountered was truly helpful and good natured.

Prices

Most people who stay at the Hilltop Hotel are there on the government’s dime and paying the current per diem rate. The government is paying $68 per night for us to stay in our double room. There are also a couple of extra charges for pets. We had to pay a “deep cleaning” fee of $30 for our room on the pet floor (the fee is higher for carpeted rooms on the lower levels). Each pet also costs an extra $3 a day.  Both key cards have to be turned in at check out.  Losing a key card results in a $20 fee, which I think is totally ridiculous.

Auf Wiedersehen

I really wish our last few days in Germany could have been spent in a nicer and more authentic hotel. I think the Hilltop Hotel could use a little refurbishing and shudder at the idea of having to live there for weeks on end. Alas, like so many others, Bill and I are at the mercy of the U.S. government when we travel on government business. Thankfully, the lodging at our new post in Atlanta doesn’t allow dogs, so we get to stay in a Hilton. Hopefully, we will find a new home quickly and start settling in… at least until our next move.

For more information: http://www.stuttgart.army.mil/sites/about/hilltophotel.asp

FYI: The Hilltop Hotel has now mercifully closed.

As I was reading this old review today, I was thinking that it was obviously kind of peevish. However, it wasn’t really a hatchet job or anything… I mean, I was legitimately pissed off about having to move, sad about losing Flea, and annoyed that we had to stay in a government run hotel that was inconvenient and uncomfortable. But I have certainly read worse reviews.

My write up went mostly unnoticed until about a year later, when someone– I am assuming a woman– decided I needed a good dressing down for daring to air my opinions on Epinions.com. She left me a rude, chastising response that made a lot of assumptions about me as a person. The comment made me very angry, so I wrote a rebuttal. In retrospect, I probably should have ignored the comment. If I got it today, I probably would have. But what can I say? I express myself through writing. I vent through using my words. So I wrote a rebuttal to the woman’s comment that was pretty caustic, which I also shared on the original version of this blog.

As I reread the comment I wrote, which basically took apart the woman’s critiques bit by bit, I realized that the casual reader might think I am a massive bitch. Or maybe, I’m just a little “crazy”. Below is what I wrote:

 My comments are italicized while the original commenter’s are in bold.

Wow… I’ll be honest. When I first read your comment, it really made me mad. But I’ve calmed down now, so allow me to take a few minutes to address your points. 

To complain about the furnishings is a bit snobbish. The toilet seat issue and the shower being too small…

My complaint about the shower wasn’t that it was too small. It was that there was a seat in it that took up space and made it difficult to take a shower. My husband and I are both short, average sized Americans and we both had the same complaint about the shower. As for the toilet, my comment wasn’t that the seat was too small, it was that the toilet was too shallow. I have never seen a toilet like the one at the Hilltop Hotel and it was a consistent issue for us. 

It surprises me that you think I’m a snob for expecting a basic level of comfort in a hotel, even if the government is paying the tab.

wow…I’ll be nice!

Your comment wasn’t in any way nice, though I do appreciate that you didn’t elect to add more undeserved snark to it.

I have been around the military for 20 years.

So what? I’ve been around the military for my entire 38 years of life. That doesn’t make either of our experiences any more valid than another person’s. Everybody’s different.

I have always seen those who are spoiled by our American ways, to be the first to complain. Come on now…this isn’t the Hilton…

Oh, so now you’re assuming that I’m a spoiled American, just because you’ve seen a few of them in your day? You don’t even know me. It so happens I’ve lived in three different countries, twice with the military, and once as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was in the third group to go to where my Peace Corps assignment was, so it definitely wasn’t cushy “American style” living. We had no electricity during my first year, and though I was lucky enough to have running water, a lot of my colleagues did not. I spent two years heating up bath water in a metal bucket on a kerosene heater, doing my laundry by hand, and reading novels by the light of an oil lamp. So yeah, I know very well that not every hotel is like a Hilton.

And the fact that the government is paying is irrelevant, especially given the fact that the government wasn’t doing us a favor in this regard. We stayed at the Hilltop Hotel because the government was forcing us to move, not because we were on a vacation. For $68 a night plus pet expenses, I certainly do expect that the furnishings will be somewhat up-to-date and comfortable, or at least utilitarian. That you would actually chastise me for expecting American style accommodations when, in fact, I was staying in an American run hotel is especially ironic. I probably would have been much happier if we had been in a German hotel.

the governments paying, why are you complaining??

Why aren’t you using basic proper English grammar and capitalization? Didn’t you go to elementary school? 

I realize most people are trying to profit from their reinbursement…if thats the case, then sorry for you.

This is an extremely offensive and totally baseless remark. While it may be true that some military folks try to profit off of per diem TDY payments, my husband and I aren’t in that category of people. But even if we were, it would neither be your business nor your place to make this comment. The fact is, a lot of people in the military use that extra money to make ends meet. It’s certainly not up to you to criticize them for doing that.

You made your stay miserable because you expected everything to be like America.

I beg your pardon? Who are you, Sylvia Browne? Again, you don’t even know me. You don’t know what my expectations or experiences are. You don’t know what the circumstances were during our stay. What a thoughtless remark this is.

Did you venture out to eat?

How could I? We had a rental car and my husband was using it for work purposes. And the hotel is not exactly close to the gates of Robinson Barracks.

There are so many wonderful restaurants in the area…some right there in the vineyards and they allow dogs inside!!

There are wonderful restaurants in Germany? No kidding! I lived in Germany on the economy for two years and had many opportunities to dine in some excellent locally run restaurants. But during my stay at the Hilltop Hotel, I had my dogs with me. While some dogs do great in public places, mine do not. Moreover, one of my dogs at the time was dying of prostate cancer and wasn’t up to hanging out with us in a restaurant.

I did stay in the room with my dogs, but it wasn’t because I had an attitude problem. It was because I did not want to leave them alone to bark and howl. I felt it would be inconsiderate to do that because I knew it was likely they would disturb other people in the hotel. But, according to you, I’m an ugly American and a snob because I was dismayed that there wasn’t a good restaurant nearby where I could get a good meal and still stay with my dogs to prevent them from bothering others. If I had gone out to eat and let them howl, I bet you would have chastised me for doing that, too.

I prefer diving right into the local culture…it makes the stay so much more fun… 

So do I. And believe me, the three times I’ve lived in other countries, I dove into the local culture and surrounding cultures with relish. I learned a lot and now I make money writing about my experiences. I certainly don’t need you to preach to me about this.

and who cares about the size of the toilet, the bed, the old beat up desk….

I do. And so do a lot of other travelers, especially when they’re spending their own money on a place to stay and/or having to do business. Since I make money as a writer, a decent desk is important to me. 

Moreover, a lot of people have read my review of this particular property, which leads me to believe that many people want to know what they’ll be getting for their money at the Hilltop Hotel. I’m surprised you’re not among them… or maybe you are? How else would you have found this review?

those things wouldn’t matter if you didn’t sit in your room and pout about them. 

And once again, you’re making an incorrect assumption about what I did, how I feel, and what kind of person I am. Let me remind you again that you don’t know me. Please stop acting as if you do. It’s giving me the creeps!

*** 
Since you’ve elected to leave me such a didactic comment, allow me to leave one for you. In your attempt to shame and belittle me for writing truthfully about my negative experiences at the Hilltop Hotel, you come off as a complete busybody… you know, the type I’ve often run into in my days as an Army wife. Wait– you’re not one of those? Pardon me. 

If I were to judge you solely based on your comments here, I might guess you are not very well educated, a bit of a gossip, and never actually ventured very far beyond the gates of the American bases in Germany… But, in fact, I don’t actually know you, so it would be terribly unfair of me to make that assumption about you, wouldn’t it? Especially since my assessment of you based on your comment might very well be incorrect. 

I can see that you’re a driveby, so I don’t expect you’ll ever read this comment, let alone respond to it; but I do think your incredibly condescending attitude is very unfair and every bit as snotty as you claim my review is. Believe me, if we’d had the choice to stay somewhere more conducive to our needs, we certainly would have. And then I never would have felt the need to write this review and make this unfortunate and hopefully brief connection with you. 

The next time you feel inclined to offer such personal comments about a complete stranger, I hope you’ll take a minute to think about it and focus on what the person said, not on what kind of person you think they are. And then, by all means, feel free to f*ck right off. 

Have a nice life. 

I don’t know what made me decide to put this exchange on the original blog, but sure enough, that post also invited some rather ironic criticism from the peanut galley. Two years after I posted the above, the blog commenter wrote this:

Umm-??
That seems like an AWFUL lot of time and energy to spend on responding to comments by – as you point out- someone you don’t even know/who doesn’t know you.
Honestly made my head spin:(

You seem like a nice woman. Why waste your words and your time??Who cares what they think?
I’m reminded of the saying” When you argue with fools….”(you risk looking like one):S 
Just sayin….

I don’t know the above poster. To my knowledge, he or she only visited me once, and it was ten years ago as of yesterday (seriously, the above person commented almost exactly ten years ago– why did this pop into my head today? Cue the Twilight Zone theme.). However, I was thinking about this today… and it struck me as kind of ironic. I wondered what made this person decide to offer their two cents on my blog, when they obviously didn’t enjoy the post. Also, the post they were commenting on was two years old, and the one that inspired it was three years old… Why take a moment to write a comment to me when you haven’t even bothered to notice when the post was written? And why tell me I’m wasting my time responding? Aren’t they kind of doing the same thing I did?

I thought about responding to this person with an explanation, but decided to leave them this retort:

You’re right. ūüėČ

Obviously, the person didn’t see the irony of their comment. I mean, if you don’t like my post, and it makes your head spin, you can just keep scrolling, right? “Why “argue” with fools?”, and all. But, ten years later, I would like to answer the question that person asked. Why waste my words and my time?

Well, I “waste my time” because it’s mine to waste. And I “waste my words” because I am a writer, and writing mostly brings me pleasure. Not everyone enjoys what I do, but I genuinely enjoy writing… even when it’s just me “telling off” a rude, driveby commenter. I knew the above person wouldn’t be back, but I still felt it was prudent to leave a comment in case someone else decided to chime in. No one else did, by the way, because Epinions went defunct in 2014. Again, by the time that person commented about how my rebuttal made their head spin, my Blogger post was already two years old. That “wasted time” and energy was long gone by then. And what would I have done to pass the time if I hadn’t ranted? Masturbated? Mowed the lawn? Cleaned the lint out of my belly button? Are any of those things more productive than writing a snarky rebuttal? I don’t know…

I like to preserve these kinds of posts, though, because they remind me of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. For example, if I had gotten the above comments today, I probably wouldn’t have been so hacked off. But in 2010, I was still an Army wife, and I was a bit angry and frustrated about a lot of things, not the least of which the judgmental and critical attitudes a lot of servicemembers and their spouses have toward each other. I also don’t like it when people tell me what to do, especially on my own space.

Anyway, my answer to “who cares what they think?” is, in reality, I don’t so much. But I don’t like being lectured by people, or judged. And the reality is, that poster from ages ago, was really offensive. I knew it wouldn’t matter if I responded, but I just felt like I had to. Today, I don’t think I would feel the same way. I am not the same person in 2022, at age 49 as I was in 2010, at age 38.

But also, in 2009, when I wrote the original review, I was legitimately feeling upset about a lot of things. The crappy hotel was icing on the cake. We were leaving Germany a year early, and it was our favorite duty station. The “job” Bill was going to was pretty bogus, even though he was requested by name. It turned out to be bullshit, although it ended up working out for us in some ways. Bill learned how to brew beer, and we found our sweet Zane. But that move also set off the next three moves within a five year timespan. That was rough on us. On the other hand, if we hadn’t left Germany when we did, we might not be living here now.

I’ve come to realize that things tend to happen for a reason. And that move, as painful as it was, happened for a reason. It led us to where we are now, which isn’t a bad place. Still… it would have been nice if we had been allowed to choose a better hotel that suited our needs instead of the shitty one at Robinson Barracks. And then I wouldn’t have written my rebuttal to that person, who had been at the hotel five years earlier and had a better time… and proceeded to try to “school” me on Army life. Seriously? What a fuckin’ asshole. And I know it’s unfair of me to stereotype, but I totally know the type of “spouse” she is… a busybody who makes themselves feel better by belittling others. At least my initial review was mostly about the facilities, rather than a personal attack. Then, to have some other person belittle me further for responding, on my personal blog, no less, was especially rich. What makes that person think I needed or wanted their advice?

Anyway… as Dr. Phil would say, it’s just one of my psychological sunburns. But the good news is, my physical health may be about to decline, so these types of “trivial issues” that strangers like to tell me I should “blow off” may soon become less important to me.

I did get a nice comment from my friend, Smorg, who was a fellow Epinionator and occasional blog reader. She wrote this:

I was tempted to check the ‘funny’ button, but I guess I was looking more for the ‘incredulous’ button instead. :oP That’s a downside of internet comments, it seems… The anonymity it allows makes it easy for people to let their Mr. Hyde side out. 

We get a lot of that from supposedly sophisticated opera fans on youtube opera clips. It still amazes me sometimes how some people can presume to deduce so much into an opera singer’s personal life just by listening to a 2 minutes clip of her singing an aria as an opera character. :oP 

Sometimes we all have gotta vent a little… Just like Visuvius or Etna or St. Helena… so that we can look serene and beautiful the rest of the time (that’s my excuse, anyhow). ;o)

And I wrote this in response:

This post was not really meant to be about the inane commenter as much as it was about how I processed the comment. I don’t usually “go off” in comments the way I did with that Epinions commenter. I think what set me off is that she (I’m assuming it was a “she”) came across like some of the stereotypical spouses I used to run into a lot when I lived on an Army post. To be frank, I don’t really fit in that well as an Army wife, even though I grew up a military brat.  

Anyway, the Epinions poster’s comment was just very personal and insulting and yes, very presumptuous. And yet, I get the feeling she really was trying to be “helpful” and edifying. So I decided to respond in an over-the-top way, even with the knowledge that she would probably never come back to read what I had to say. I have to admit, it was actually kind of fun to respond to her, even if the more adult reaction would have been to just let her stupidity stand for itself.  

Oddly enough, this particular blog post has mostly been ignored until just a few days ago… when yet again, someone felt strongly enough about it to join Blogger just to set me straight on MY blog, no less! Hey… it’s my time, my energy, and my image on the line. If I want to go off on someone, that’s my business, right? In all seriousness, I am grateful when people read my blog and leave comments, especially since this blog is mostly me blowing off steam.

Yeah… although I would probably not bother to respond the same way as I did in 2010 or 2012 today, I do sometimes feel like blowing off steam, as we all do sometimes. And the Epinions commenter has just made me realize how glad I am that I’m not in very many of the military Facebook groups anymore. That kind of snarky and derisive attitude is so prevalent in the military community, and it’s very damaging. But that’s a thought for another post, on another day…

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