complaints, condescending twatbags, overly helpful people, pests, social media

“… and that’s OKAY…” Very glad you think so, lady.

I had kind of an annoying experience yesterday. It was early evening, and I was binge watching Audit the Audit videos on YouTube. They’re very addictive and educational, you know.

While I was watching the videos, I was sort of half-assed looking at Facebook. At some point recently, I started following a chef/author called Culinary Anarchy. He’s kind of entertaining and snarky. He posted something that made me pause…

Sometimes, this is true. Sometimes, it’s not.

I get that the good chef posted the words “generally speaking”. But then he wrote, “I’ve run this page for over a decade now and this is the case more often than not…..”

I know… I should have just kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help but remember that cursed day in August 2008, when I first got on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t have many good pictures of myself. We lived in Germany at the time, and I didn’t own a cell phone. I didn’t need one, because those were the early days of the iPhone, and no one ever called me… Free, public WiFi wasn’t yet a thing (especially in Germany), and we didn’t want to get tied down with a cell phone contract. Turns out that was a good plan, since we didn’t quite make it to our second anniversary during that first stint. As it was, Bill had a really cheap phone that was very primitive. I finally got my first iPhone in 2009.

I was not a Mac user until around 2011, and my HP computer didn’t have an internal camera on it. If it did, I didn’t know about it. And even if it did, I really didn’t know how to take selfies. I also didn’t like it when other people took pictures of me, especially when they were unflattering and the photographer insisted on sharing them. One of my pet peeves is when I’m trying to eat dinner or something and some photographer wants to take a photo and sell it to me. I mostly find having my picture taken kind of mortifying.

So, for the first couple of years that I was a Facebook user, I didn’t really use pictures of myself on my profile. I think the first time I used a photo of myself was in the summer of 2009, when we went on a Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise (our first cruise, and the only one we’ve ever done on a big ship). On that cruise, the photographer did get a somewhat decent shot of Bill and me. We bought it, and I took a picture of it, because I didn’t have a scanner. That served as my profile pic for awhile. I think I used another selfie in 2011 sometime, when I bought my first Mac, and discovered the camera function.

I remember some friends being kind of excited by that photo. One friend wrote something along the lines of, “It’s you. It’s YOU! You’re lovely!” I was dressed up because Bill and I were going to an event in downtown Atlanta. Some people in the state of Georgia had organized a fundraiser for the country of Georgia. We thought it might be interesting, so we went. And I took that opportunity to take a new selfie.

Slowly, over the years, I got braver about taking selfies. For the longest time, I wouldn’t use my phone to take one, but now I’ve finally figured out how to flip the image so I don’t look deranged. So now, there are more photos of me available for people to look at, if they are so inclined to do that. But I still don’t go out of my way to have my photo taken, and I wouldn’t say I change pictures very often. Mostly, it’s because I hate putting on makeup.

Recently, I started videoing myself for my YouTube videos. I still can’t bear to watch myself on camera, but I’ve been told it’s better for engagement. It’s also a lot easier to make videos with a video recording, rather than using still photos. I can just take the whole thing and paste it in, rather, than adjusting for timing and putting in transitions. I much prefer not having to put photos in videos on my creaky iMac, which will be retired in the coming days, as I just ordered a new computer yesterday. Adding still photos tends to make my machine freeze.

You may have gotten the idea by now that I don’t think of myself as particularly appealing to look at. I feel self-conscious. I still don’t use the video function when I make recordings on SingSnap. I don’t like doing video calls with people. In fact, I don’t even like making or receiving phone calls, anymore (that wasn’t always the case). And I have also come to dislike most chat, too… even with Bill. In short, I’ve become kind of a reclusive curmudgeon.

Anyway, when I saw that post by Culinary Anarchy, I decided to comment. I wrote this:

I did it because I was ugly.

I was actually kind of being facetious. I know I’m not an “ugly” person, at least not in the physical sense. I don’t actually think there are a lot of truly “ugly” people in the world, literally or figuratively. But I didn’t feel the need to explain that to the peanut gallery.

It didn’t take long before someone left me a response. I actually liked what this guy wrote.

…that’s my current dilemma. Hit a certain point in my life where I don’t even wanna look in the mirror so I don’t post selfies much anymore and I don’t wanna post old pics of me.

Yes… this guy totally gets it. There comes a point in your life when you don’t want to be reminded of what time has done to your face and physique. It has nothing to do with being stalked or stalking other people. Some people also just don’t feel the need to put it all out there, regardless. Even in this age of social media saturation, some people still like their privacy.

So then I wrote, “I don’t photograph well and it took a long time before I learned how to do selfies.”

If I can control the camera, I can avoid the half lidded, half blinking look, half dozen chins, big zits, gin blossoms, wrinkles, or whatever else is distressing for me to look at. Maybe that’s vain of me, but life is tough enough without that burden, right?

There were a couple of kind and complimentary comments, which I appreciated, but wasn’t necessarily fishing for.

And then came the comment from that person… you know the kind– the person who assumes too much. Here’s what she wrote:

as my kid would say, you look normal.

Most of us look normal and not like models or social media influencers and that’s ok.

Ahem… Maybe it’s me, but I found this to be a pretty obnoxious and presumptuous comment. Where did this person get the idea that I hoped to look like a model or a social influencer? Especially since I now have a photo of myself on my profile. I obviously overcame my hesitation, right? But even if I hadn’t done that and was still using a picture of a grey heron as my profile pic, would this lady be assuming I want to look like a model? Or I was being stalked by someone? The point is, some of us don’t like how we look in photos, and we’re all too aware of not looking like models.

So I wrote this:

Yeah, I eventually got over it. Never expected to look like a model or a social influencer. I just didn’t want to cringe.

I noticed that I certainly wasn’t the only one who posted that I didn’t use a profile picture of myself because I felt “too ugly.” So I don’t know if Culinary Anarchy’s theory necessarily holds up as much as he assumes it does. Still, I was a little irritated by that woman’s comment about models and social influencers. I know… I have an ego issue. Prick me and I bleed. The older I get, the more people bug me.

I tell you what… I probably would have been less annoyed if the woman hadn’t ended her comment with “and that’s okay.” I think of strangers telling me “and that’s okay” as the catchphrase for the “overly helpful.” It’s as if she thought I was angsty and needed her consolation or reassurance. Actually, I think she needed a hearty “Fuck off and die” or something more colorful like that…

Back when I first posted my original selfies, I had a few “overly helpful” people on my friends list. I was a lot “nicer” in those days, so I was pretty tolerant of their irritating attempts to boost themselves by offering lame observations or attempts to be unsolicited “helpers”.

Overly helpful types of people tend to act like other people need their sage wisdom to get through life. They offer unwelcome advice, play “devil’s advocate”, or armchair psychoanalyze. In fairness, a lot of us do the armchair psychoanalysis thing, but it’s pretty annoying when people are bold enough to do it, unasked for, to someone else’s face. Feeling comfortable enough to do that, especially to someone one has never even met in person, often indicates a lack of respect.

Respect is a big deal to me. I spent too many years not being respected by people who supposedly loved me. So now, if someone is disrespectful to me, I tend to form a negative opinion and remember it for a long time.

So then I asked my friends this question:

Why do people feel the need to make assumptions about total strangers based on innocuous Facebook comments? I said I didn’t have a FB profile photo for awhile because I was “ugly”. I then explained that I don’t photograph well and once lacked selfie skills. Some person accused me of wanting to look like a model or a social influencer, then helpfully added that most of us don’t look like that, “and that’s okay.” 🖕

Nah, I never expected any of that. I just don’t like cringing at my visage.

That question invited more compliments and protests about my self-evaluation of my appearance. Again, I was genuinely asking the question, not looking for compliments. Okay, I was also annoyed and venting a little bit, too.

So I finally wrote this:

I think Bill is a handsome man, but he had the same problem I had. I am good at taking his picture, though, because I love him and make a point of catching his best features. Most people who photograph me (Bill included), get my multiple chins, cellulite, and beer gut. 😉 I just don’t want to see that in a photo of me. If I want to see that, I’ll look in the mirror. 😆

It’s true. I am legitimately very good at taking pictures of Bill. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do, either. He’s a very good looking man, in my opinion. However, he often doesn’t photograph well, because he’s camera shy and self-conscious about his appearance. He also has sensitive eyes and blinks easily. I have figured out a way to get him to look his best. It usually involves my telling him a dirty joke and making him laugh, then having laser sharp reflexes. Even with that method, sometimes I fail and catch him mid blink or slouching too much. I delete those photos, which he appreciates. I have gotten some pretty great shots of him, much to his mom’s delight.

Alas, Bill hasn’t caught on to using that trick for me. Or maybe he’s just better looking than I am. 😉 However, I have noticed that some of the best photos of me are the ones with him in them. He genuinely makes me smile, so I don’t look fake. When I take a selfie and try to smile, it often doesn’t look right, because it’s too posed. Lighting is also important. I look best in natural sunlight.

I know some people think all of this sounds vain… and maybe it is vain. But since I probably look at and notice my profile picture the most, I figure I should have one that doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t mean I want to be a model (Jesus Christ, really?). I have no desire to be a social influencer (and I’m 50 fucking years old, so that ain’t happening.) What other people think of my visage is really none of my business. I just don’t want to look like Ziggy. I’m much less concerned about my friends laughing at my photo at home, than I am about having to face that reflection myself.

… and that’s okay… (BARF)

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modern problems, technology, YouTube

Keeping it simple, stupid…

This week, I mentioned that I’ve been trying to make my home “smarter”. I’m not a particularly tech savvy person, so making my home smarter mostly entails doing very simple things. I replaced twelve light bulbs with smart bulbs. Now, I have twelve lights that can be controlled by an app on my phone. Not only can I turn them on with my phone or iPad, but I can program them to turn on or off, light up in different colors or intensities, or even set them to music. Cool, huh? Well… this new “upgrade” hasn’t come without glitches.

For the past two nights, one of the lamps in my bedroom has been inexplicably turning on at midnight. I don’t know why. I can’t see any evidence that I programmed the lamp to turn on at midnight. I don’t even use that lamp very often.

Bill has had trouble adding all of the lamps to his app. Yesterday, he called up to me and asked me to use my phone to turn on the light for him, because his phone wouldn’t load the bulb into his app, for some reason. Now… I have discovered that we can turn the lights on and off the old fashioned way, but that may cause them to go “offline”, which potentially means adding them to the app again. I don’t know… I’m still learning. At my age, learning this kind of stuff is a challenge.

I remember when I was a teenager, my parents bought their first VCR. For the longest time, I was the only one who could program it. Now I know how they felt.

I bought some smart power strips and outlets, too. From what I can tell, I can use these to shut off power when we aren’t using something without having to unplug the device. That can be an energy saver, which means lower electric bills. I can also program things to turn on and off by using my app. Like, if I wanted to, I could set up the coffee maker with ground coffee and water every night and program it to turn on at a certain time. I could come downstairs to fresh coffee every morning, rather than waiting for Bill to make it. Cool, huh?

It is kind of exciting to be able to direct appliances to work from my phone. But there’s also a beauty to watching Bill make coffee every morning. He does it so well. In fact, he takes great pride in making coffee. Automating the process wouldn’t necessarily change the process. He’d still have to grind the coffee and put the water in the tank. All the power strip would do is hit the switch remotely, so the coffee gets made while we’re doing our morning routines. It sounds convenient, but it could be more trouble than it’s worth.

Yesterday, I read a distressing article written by a professional copywriter. He says his job is now threatened by AI (artificial intelligence) technology– specifically ChatGPT. ChatGPT was able to create good copy in thirty seconds for free. The same copy would have taken the human being hours to create and he would have charged over $500. Henry Williams, the author of the piece wrote:

The developers admit that the software still has limitations. It tends towards the verbose and repetitive (“honing my craft and perfecting my ability to craft”), and minor changes to question phrasing can be the difference between an amazing response and no response at all. The more we use it, however, the better it will become. As ChatGPT told me, it can already “replicate the writing styles of different authors” and “even be trained to mimic the tone and voice of a particular brand or organization”.

I use YouTube daily, and it’s scary how many channels use AI to create robotic sounding content. Every day, it seems like fewer human beings are involved in the process of writing articles and making videos. Some of the AI generated content is downright horrible, but I have run across some videos that are almost indistinguishable from content made entirely by a living, breathing, human. It’s also been used for creating music “in the style of…” How creepy it is to think of a computer program creating music that sounds like that made by a real person?

This morning, Bill told me about how AI has now managed to pass state bar exams– the tests that actual lawyers often fail with ease. And just now, I found an article about how AI was almost used to fight parking tickets in court. Angry lawyers protested. Who could blame them? That technology could put their livelihoods in jeopardy! I’ve also read about how students can now use AI to write papers, which makes a teacher’s job more difficult. Isn’t it bad enough that teachers have to worry about being shot while they’re teaching? Do we have to add AI to the mix, too?

I have nothing against technology. There are some things robots do better than people. I’m sure, for instance, that robots might be better at certain surgeries than humans are. There’s less worry about human frailties or failures, like shaking hands, fatigue, or emotions getting in the way. But as intelligent as machines and computers can be made to be, they have to be mastered by humans. Otherwise, what good are we?

It used to be that people had to go places to go shopping. They had to interact with other people. There was a human being to ring up the sale and bag the item. Now, a lot of us shop online, and our interaction might come if we happen to see the delivery person… and no one steals our stuff from the porch. Automated cashiers have made it possible to go shopping for groceries and check yourself out. That might seem convenient enough, but it also means that one less person has a job. I don’t like using self checkout lanes, either, because I find that they often mess up the transaction and the process ends up taking longer

I’m sure my angst is for nothing. People have been lamenting “progress” forever. As a writer and musician, though, it does kind of disturb me that AI is getting “too good”. If AI can do in seconds what I do in hours, what’s the point of getting up every day? Are we living in The Jetsons age, now?

One more thing… My friend Thomas, who frequently comments on my posts, informed me that he’s not been able to like or comment on my most recent posts. I have been investigating the issue this morning. It seems I’m having trouble with a “nonce verification error”. I’ve tried disabling plugins, which is a real pain, because it messes up the settings I’m used to using. I tried changing the theme, but that also didn’t work. I did find that I could comment if I did it on my desktop or laptop computers, using Chrome. But I can’t do it on the desktop with Safari, or from my iPad. I tried commenting with Safari on my laptop and it worked.

This is very weird, and I don’t know how to fix the issue. So if you’ve wanted to comment and can’t, all I can tell you for now is to try using Chrome. Hopefully, this issue will be fixed at some point. I have emailed support. Maybe they can straighten this out for me.

I’ve read that Jetpack can cause “nonce” issues. I’ve tried to disable Jetpack, but WordPress won’t let me. Apparently, I pay for it with my subscription. Sigh…

Maybe it’s better to just keep it simple, stupid… The K.I.S.S. method has alway served me well in the past. But then, I think about my mom, who has steadfastly refused to learn how to use the Internet and now has to get one of her daughters to Google for her when she needs help. I don’t think I want to get to that point. I’ll try to keep learning the new methods. I just hope all of these new things we have for convenience don’t end up being too much of a good thing.

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blog news, musings, nostalgia, YouTube

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I don’t have much to write…

I just wrote a post for the travel blog that I was going to put on this blog… but then I realized that the content fits better with that blog than this one. The travel blog needs a little love, because most weeks I only update it a couple of times, rather than every day, like I do this blog. So I moved the original post that I was working on for this blog to that blog, and now I’m sitting here wondering what interesting things I might write today.

I see this New Year’s Eve writer’s block thing is kind of a chronic problem, as last year I did a “cross post”. That means I put the same content on both blogs, which I do on occasion. Not everyone who reads this blog reads that one, and vice versa. I’m hoping that in 2023, I can get the travel blog up a bit in hits, so I don’t reach cash out status for my ad revenue after I’m dead. As I pointed out in yesterday’s post, I don’t make big bucks writing these things. 😉

I could probably do a cross post this year, too, and this year’s post is more interesting than last year’s was. Or, at least I think it is. But I’ve got nothing better to do than write this stuff today… Otherwise, maybe I’d play Sims 4, which I don’t do very often anymore, even though I keep buying all the content. Or I’d read more of Jamie Lynn Spears’ book and cringe. She’s definitely no Paulina Porizkova, or even Matthew Perry, in the memoir writing department.

I see that last year, like this year, I’ve been doing chores today. I don’t know what it is about New Year’s Eve that makes me want to do household chores. Last year, I finally managed to get rid of the horrible chalky limescale in our bathrooms. Citric acid works wonders, not just for descaling the taps and the backs of the toilets, but it’s also great for cleaning the coffee maker. I notice that last year, I also hauled my ass up on the stepladder and knocked the scales off the shower head. I think I’ll do that today, too, as it needs to be done. Getting rid of the chalky limescale makes for a nicer showering experience, as there’s nothing to block the jets or cause the water to spray awkwardly.

I guess I do this cleaning because it feels like I should do it for a fresh start. Tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new year. It will bring with it the usual challenges, victories, and disappointments. I usually start the new year with some optimism, even though January and February are, weather wise, the most depressing times of the year, in my opinion. Up here in Hessen, it stays pretty wet and cloudy, and sometimes it gets cold. I would mind it less if we got more snow here, although even snow can get tiresome after it hangs around for weeks and gets all saturated with dog pee and frozen poop. I try to keep the poop cleaned up, but it gets buried, and then it gets all mashed up with the soil.

One thing I do look forward to this year is the prospect of more travel. Hopefully, we’ll go to more interesting places. Fingers are crossed, anyway. Maybe I’ll even take a trip “home” to the United States and see my mom, who hasn’t seen me since 2015. There are some places I haven’t yet been to that I would like to visit… and of course, I would love to go back to Armenia, just so I can show Bill where I used to live, half a lifetime ago.

I see from last year’s post that I hoped for a better year in 2022. Personally, I think I got that, but that’s just me. We did find out that our beloved Arran has lymphoma, but this year, for the FIRST time ever, we were able to do something about it. I know we will lose Arran eventually, but man, it’s such a good feeling to be able to do something, for once, when one of our boys gets cancer. It’s been a learning experience for us, and those of my friends who have been following our experiences.

I have no doubt whatsoever that if we hadn’t done chemo, Arran would be long gone by now. But right now, he’s downstairs snuggling with his favorite person, Mr. Bill. I know that some critics would say that chemo only delays the inevitable, and that the cancer will probably come back with a vengeance… but the alternative would have been that we would have lost him weeks ago. What’s the difference between treating cancer and treating a disease like diabetes? If it can be treated, isn’t too expensive, and isn’t too traumatic, why not? But, I also know that in the United States, this would have been a harder decision to make, because healthcare for people and pets is so goddamned expensive! And it really shouldn’t be. Affordable healthcare should be a right, at least for human beings. Living in Germany has taught me that Americans have gotten this policy so wrong. I hope the onerous high cost of healthcare for Americans can be rectified someday before I’m dead.

I also see that last year, I mentioned my guitar skills. Well, this year, they are better than they were a year ago. I still don’t play super well, but I did manage to post a few songs on YouTube with me on guitar. I’m still a much better singer than guitar player, but in 2019, I couldn’t play guitar at all. So that’s a good thing… I try to practice most days every week, although I do usually take off the weekends, unless I get inspired.

This year, I finally got brave and sang on camera on my YouTube videos, which I never did before. I get very camera shy, and I don’t like putting on makeup or getting dressed. I also don’t want to read rude comments from haters. I have to admit, though, people have been very kind. I get more engagement when I sing on camera, even though I’m not as beautiful as some of the places we’ve visited. And I’ve tried some songs I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, too. I’m hoping for more of that in the new year. Even if no one pays attention to my channel, I do enjoy the process of making the videos. Or, at least making the musical part. I often find myself wishing I’d started when I was much younger than I was. Ah well. Maybe someday, I’ll be reincarnated and get the chance for a do over… except maybe the new me won’t have a knack for music. Maybe I’ll be a soccer player, instead. 😉

My latest… it’s a good song for the New Year. Cheers!

I finally got multifocal contact lenses, too… which I had been needing for ages. I still don’t have bifocal glasses, but I think those are coming, if I don’t have surgery. Next year might be the year I’ll finally visit a doctor… German or otherwise. I haven’t seen one for medical reasons since 2010. That could change in 2023. We’ll see. I am getting old, after all. My body doesn’t seem to recover as quickly as it used to. German healthcare isn’t expensive, so I don’t even have that as an excuse. It’s just that– well– thanks to a terrible Air Force doctor from my younger days, I am a bit phobic of doctors. The older I get, the less I think it matters… except I know Bill would miss me if I weren’t around to make him laugh.

Maybe in 2023, I’ll try something else on YouTube. Maybe I’ll v-log. But again, I hate being on camera, and I like to write more than I like to speak. I also like to watch other v-loggers. If I become one myself, I’ll have less time to watch people like Beau of the Fifth Column, Farron Balanced, or even Trevor Coult, with whom I often disagree politically, but I find hilarious, thanks to his thick Northern Irish accent. I also think I’d go a bit nuts trying to make videos where I speak, because I would invariably mess up, which would mean do-overs, which take a lot of time. I’m kind of a perfectionist, too, so that would be a problem. I suspect my channel will mostly stick to music. At least I don’t attract as many rude comments when I make music. 😉 Perhaps this year, I’ll finally write an original song and sing it on YouTube. That would be something different. A year from now, maybe I’ll be writing about that. Who knows?

Well, it’s time to wrap this up… It’s about 1:45 PM and time for lunch… the very last one of 2022. So, I will now close, and wish you all a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year. Let’s cut this cake and take this year home… so I can take down the fucking Christmas decorations. 😉

See you tomorrow!

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dogs, music, YouTube

Shirley Horn and Paulina Porizkova are both inspiring me today…

Today’s featured photo is of the new Toilight I got for Bill as a stocking stuffer. It lights the toilet at night, which we both find very handy… it also makes the water look really cool as it gets flushed. We gotta have our fun wherever we can find it.

Yesterday’s post was surprisingly popular, for my blog, anyway. I think sometimes people love a good rant, even if it’s petty and kind of stupid. I actually had fun writing that post. It gave me a lot to think about. I ended up doing a few edits after the initial posting, because I spotted some things that needed clarification, along with the usual typos. But anyway… I do love it when someone gives me a topic for my blog by way of inspiration.

This morning, I’m somewhat less inspired. Yes, I could write about how Donald Trump’s legal woes are getting worse by the day, and he’s being exposed as the crook that he is. But I don’t feel like writing about that today. The end of the year is looming, and that means it’ll soon be 2023. I realize I’m getting older and certain things just don’t matter the way they used to.

I just started reading Paulina Porizkova’s latest book. So far, it’s kind of a page turner. I liked her when she was on America’s Next Top Model and was annoyed when Tyra Banks fired her from the show. That was about when it became unwatchable for me. I think I hung in there for a couple more “cycles”, but soon gave up on it. I though Paulina was awesome on that show. In fact, I think she should have her own show. She’s very intelligent, and I like how plain spoken she is… but not in an obnoxious, narcissistic way, like Tyra is. Tyra Banks, I’m afraid, went from being a relatively pleasant host to an over-the-top nightmare.

I woke up at about 3:00 AM, thanks to Arran’s need for a potty break and demands for food. Bill took care of that, while I took a bathroom break myself. By the time I got back in the bed, I was wide awake. My stomach was annoying me, too. So, since I wasn’t going back to sleep for at least another hour or so, I opened Paulina’s book and started reading. I predict (but can’t promise) I’ll finish it quickly, and will be ready to review it by the end of the week.

I also got an alert from my favorite backing tracks Web site that Shirley Horn’s luminous version of “Here’s to Life” was available for download. I love that song, and to date, have recorded it three times. I don’t expect people to know it, but I fell in love with it in 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina. The Jordan Family did a very poignant version of the song for a fundraiser. At the time of their performance, they were still missing their father from the storm. I would actually love to record their version of the song– with the same key and arrangement. Shirley Horn’s comes closer to that than either Barbra Streisand’s and Bob Stewart’s versions do. So that’s why I decided to do the song one more time, but in a different manner. I prefer the jazzier style to the more Broadway interpretations I did before.

I couldn’t think of a pressing topic for this morning, So I spent about two hours recording Shirley Horn’s “Here’s to Life” in two different keys. I tried her original key, then went a step up. I think the higher key is better for me, so that’s the one I put on YouTube. I think both turned out pretty well, although it’s kind of a challenge to get the video right. I’m struggling with coughing, a runny nose, and an itch, too… not from a viral illness, but probably more from allergies or my lack of attention to dusting.

I’m glad I don’t look like I’m climaxing in this still.

When I last sang “Here’s to Life”, I wrote a post about it on this blog. I wrote a bit about who composed the song, as well as some personal philosophies and other assorted stuff. It’s not a super exciting post, because I also wrote about a Facebook argument I had some time back with a cop friend of mine, and Amy Duggar King, who had just given birth at the time. And I wrote about sweet Zane, who had, at that writing, been gone from our lives for a matter of weeks. I was missing him a lot then. I still miss him, especially when I see old pictures and videos that remind me of what a sweet soul he was. I truly do hope the Rainbow Bridge is a real thing, and I can see him again someday after I’ve departed the mortal coil myself. I noticed that I wrote that post on October 10, 2019, which also happened to be the 16th anniversary of the loss of our first rescue beagle mix, CuCullain, who had bright blue eyes. He was a special soul, too. Sometimes, he seems to visit us through Noyzi.

Our very first beagle rescue, CuCullain (C.C.)… He was a really cool dog.

I don’t even have those things to write about today. My dogs are impatiently waiting for me to finish up and take them for a walk. They’ve learned that when I quit doing music, it’s walk time. Usually, I play guitar before we walk, but today it was singing… which I tend to do much better. I did learn to play the rhythm version of “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart yesterday. It was surprisingly easy, with open chords that are fairly easy to tease out, even with fingers as unpracticed as mine are.

I suppose I could write about the cop videos I watched yesterday, which were surprisingly outrageous. I never understand people who get loud and belligerent with cops and expect them to cut them a break. I’ve also noticed that American cops aren’t as professional as German cops appear to be. Here, you can get a huge fine if you cuss at the cops. In the United States, people say whatever… even threaten cops and their families. The lady in yesterday’s video told one cop she hoped his wife got raped. Horrible! And then she moaned and cried because she was in handcuffs and about to be charged with a felony.

Um… you shouldn’t involve yourself in things that are none of your business…

The other video involved a very bellicose drunk driver who cussed non-stop. He actually made ME blush… and I cuss like a sailor! I feel sorry for the people in this man’s life. He’s a mess. He’s got a very foul mouth, too… and if I’m saying that, it means something.

“What are you talking about, dude?” Enjoy your Christmas in the jug, guy.

But really, I think I just want to walk the dogs before they have a fit… and then maybe go back to reading my latest book. I wish I felt more inspired to write something compelling, but I think recording a song kind of took it out of me. Maybe I’ll be back later… but I probably won’t. So have a happy hump day.

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Bill, love, marriage

Every day is a gift with my Bill…

I just wrote a piece for my travel blog, that details our Christmas morning. So far, it’s been a nice holiday. I asked for a new vacuum cleaner, and Bill delivered a cordless Dyson. I hope it will be less cumbersome and annoying to use than the canister vacuum I’ve had for the past seven years. I just tried it out, although it’s not yet quite fully charged. All I gotta say about that is that our carpets are pretty disgusting. A new vacuum was definitely needed and appreciated, even though one of my former bosses once told me that no one should get appliances for Christmas. She criticized me for giving my mom a new hand mixer. That boss and I didn’t get along, as you might have imagined. I’m one of those people that other folks tend to love or hate. 😉

I’m better at Christmas shopping than Bill is, because I know what he likes and needs, and he’s easy to please. I’m a lot harder to shop for, because I have a tendency to get what I want when I want it. The vacuum cleaner was an outlier. I’ve been eyeing the Dyson cordless vacuums for ages, but never pulled the trigger. One of the reasons I hate vacuuming is because it feels futile. The vacuums never seem to do a good job– even other Dysons I’ve had have not been very useful. But downgrading isn’t the answer, either. I used a Dirt Devil when we first got back to Germany, and it lasted about a year before it started dropping parts. Our dogs shed a lot, and Noyzi, in particular, leaves tons of hair. So I needed something lightweight and portable. We’ll see how long I like the new vacuum, but I suspect we’ll get a couple of good cleanings from it.

As usual, I bought a lot more stuff for Bill than he did for me… although he did get some higher dollar items for me. And a few of the things he got were kind of surprising. Like, he bought me a weighted blanket, even though I just bought two new duvets for the bed. But maybe the blanket will turn out to be something I didn’t know I needed. And he bought me three shawls in different colors, but with the same patterns and in colors I probably wouldn’t necessarily choose. I do wear a lot of shawls on the rare occasions when we go out. He also got me a new chair for my office, which has heating and massage capabilities. I do need a new chair! I wear mine out pretty regularly.

As I watched Bill put the new cover on the weighted blanket, it occurred to me… every day is a gift with Bill. I smiled, and blurted “You don’t really have to buy me anything for Christmas. You have already given me the best life.”

It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where we are. Some places are better than others are, of course. I remember when we lived in our first slummy apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Christmas day, back in 2002. It was just weeks after our wedding, and we were pretty broke. We still had a nice celebration, with a tree and cheap ornaments from Rose’s, which was a discount store in the nearby strip mall. We had a nice meal and listened to music on the cheap CD player I owned that I had to weigh down with a jewelry box, because the lid wouldn’t stay down on its own.

The following year was full of challenges, as we lost our first rescue dog, CuCullain (C.C.) to a rare mycobacterial infection, my car got broken into, and Ex went on the warpath to try to get me under her thumb. We moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, into a Craftsman house that was meant to be “temporary” and came from a kit from Sears. I actually loved that house, even though it had its maintenance issues. We were there for three years, until we moved into a “brand new” house a mile away, where I mostly lived alone while Bill was in Iraq. We left that house after about eight months, as Bill finally rotated out of Virginia and into Germany. We had Flea and MacGregor, rescue beagles from BREW, a beagle rescue in northern Virginia.

Then, in 2007, we moved to a town near Stuttgart, Germany the first time as a couple, and we both fell in love with living here. We hoped to get three years, which is standard, but had to come back to the States a year early. We moved into a huge rental house in Fayetteville, Georgia, where we lost Flea to cancer, and added Zane to our family. Bill learned to brew beer. We spent two Christmases there, out in the woods with a family of deer, some black snakes, at least one armadillo, and chimney swifts who chirped incessantly for a month. I remember one of those Christmases was when I experienced my very first “White Christmas”.

Then, the post in Georgia where Bill worked closed down, so we had to move again. In 2011, we moved to North Carolina, where we had two more Christmases in different woods– one of those years, we visited my sister, who lives in Chapel Hill, not that far from Sanford, the town where we were living. We lost our sweet beagle, MacGregor, and adopted Arran, who is still with us.

In 2013, we moved to Converse, Texas, a San Antonio suburb, where I assumed we’d end up staying… but no jobs were forthcoming in 2014, when Bill retired. We moved back to another town near Stuttgart, where we spent four years, and now we live near Wiesbaden, and have been here for four years. Half our stuff is in storage in America. It’s hard to feel rooted, since Germany isn’t our official place of origin. And yet, as long as Bill is with me, I’m home and happy. And I can’t believe we’ve been in Germany for eight years. We lost Zane in 2019, but now we have our first non beagle rescue, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog!

We have worked together to make a great life, and we have succeeded, in spite of all the kvetching I do on my blog posts. I really do feel so fortunate for all we have, and the incredible man with whom I get to share my life. But honestly, we could be in a tent somewhere, and I think I’d be happy on some level, just because I’m with the right person… and he’s with me. I am amazed by all of the great stuff we’ve managed to do together, in spite of the pettiest of annoyances. And today, I was just reminded of that and just feeling so grateful… even to Ex, who divorced Bill. If she hadn’t done that, who knows where I would be? We make each other laugh, teach each other new things, and make life better for each other every day. I need to remember this feeling for when the going gets tough, as I know it will.

I know 2023 will have its challenges. I expect we’ll be losing Arran in 2023, because he has cancer. But we are lucky to live in a country where we can enjoy him for a little bit longer without going bankrupt. And there’s always the threat of something bad happening… but as long as I’ve got “my Bill”, it all seems bearable. No matter where we are, it “feels like home…” Today, I’m feeling really grateful, and I just wanted to share.

I recorded this a couple of years ago. It has 25 hits as of this writing, but I’m reminded of it today… even though it’s from Randy Newman’s Faust, and the character who sang it wasn’t one for true love. Ironically, it’s become quite a wedding staple. The lyrics are lovely, in spite of the character who sang it in Faust. The video contains photos of some of the incredible places we’ve been.

I might redo this song… maybe even today. Why not?

Younger daughter sent a video the other day while she was holding her newest baby. He was obviously hungry and was trying to get to her boobs, but he was so cute and good natured about it. I feel very grateful that she shares him with us, as well as her other two adorable kids. It’s so nice to have her and her husband back in our lives. It just goes to show that, in the long run, love always wins.

I hope you’re having a good holiday, if you celebrate. If you don’t, I hope you have a good day. Now, back to the festivities.

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