LDS, music, psychology, songs, videos, YouTube

Putting a face to the voice…

Last week, when I got the news that the great 60s singer Ronnie Spector had died, I decided to try one of her most famous songs. Mind you, I was not one of Ronnie’s biggest fans. I was born in 1972, which was after she was really famous. I didn’t know who she was until 1986 or so, when she and the late Eddie Money had a hit song called “Take Me Home Tonight”. I did like some of Eddie Money’s music, although I wasn’t one of his biggest fans, either. I also got really tired of “Take Me Home Tonight” when it was a hit. It was forever on the radio, and back then, we didn’t have streaming services.

The following year, the movie Dirty Dancing was released, and Ronnie Spector’s big hit, “Be My Baby” was made popular again. I thought it was a nice song, but never noticed how truly joyful it was until last week, when I got it in my head to sing it. So I sang it, and paired it with a video of Noyzi watching fox hunting videos with me on YouTube. I always do that. I don’t like to be on camera. Then I uploaded the video to YouTube.

I don’t share my music videos much, but sometimes I will put a link on the Recovery from Mormonism page. There are some good musicians that hang out there, plus I’ve found that a lot of the posters have really good taste in music. I’ve found several really great artists based on recommendations on RfM. I’ve also found some good books there.

So some people clicked the link and I got some very nice comments. I also got a suggestion. It’s one I’ve heard before, but have always resisted. One person, a guy who is a fellow guitar player and singer, wrote this:

“At this point, I don’t sing and play at the same time, but maybe someday I will get good enough at guitar to do everything at one time.” (quoting me)

Start doing this right away with very simple songs, and recording yourself; maybe use a click track from garage bad or a metronome. It’s good to get the skill of singing, keeping time and moving your fingers to different patterns than your voice is making. Also take video of yourself. Watch what you look like when you play, and practice playing in the dark or not watching your fingers when you change chords or do runs and fills.

You have an excellent voice, viewers on youtube want to see you perform, a good voice with simple backing is much more engaging than singing over commercial backing tracks.

OK enough of my armchair coaching … I needed to take this advice long ago.

I have to admit, I kind of inwardly sighed. It’s not the first time someone has given me unsolicited advice, nor is it the first time someone has suggested that I post a video showing myself. I know he’s right– people like to see who’s singing. I’m still working on feeling competent enough to put more of my guitar playing out there. What I usually do is record the track and pair it with photos, which may or may not have anything to do with the music, or sometimes video. It’s really more about the sound to me, rather than the whole package.

I tried to explain that I get super self-conscious on video. I don’t even like video calls, although those are less anxiety provoking and distracting than watching myself perform. I’m already preoccupied with perfection, but feel even less comfortable with looking at myself. I rarely put on makeup or a bra, and generally can’t be arsed to do so for a video. I’d honestly much rather perform live, with people watching me, than perform on video.

But then a couple of other people added encouragement. I thought about it some more, and realized what the hell? It’s not like there aren’t ugly people on YouTube. And nobody cares what I look like anyway… although that is precisely why I figured it shouldn’t matter if my face is on video. One poster wrote:

We often don’t give ourselves enough credit. I’ve always been the one most often behind the camera. Not only because I feel compelled to record family history but in order to avoid being the subject myself. Same reason – I have had no wish to immortalize myself. My sister sent me a photo not long ago of myself as her bridesmaid, one I’d not seen before. I told her it was the best picture, by far, I’d ever seen of myself. To the point I didn’t even recognize me! She said no, you always look like that. Alrighty then. So that one I’ll keep. 🙂

I think you look lovely in the video, knothead, and your voice makes it even better. I had to laugh – I’ve visualized you all this time as a tall, thin redhead. Why, I have no idea.

You can always put on a bit of slap for the camera once in a while, and about the bra – will anybody care? 🙂 (I’m assuming she means my photo, which is on my YouTube channel. I haven’t shown myself in a video yet.)

I had to laugh at how she pictured me. There have been times in my life when I’ve had red hair, but I’m a natural blonde… short, squatty, buxom, and rather fat. And now, at almost 50, my hair is kind of silvery blonde. It does look nice on my YouTube photo, although that picture is about three years old. But I realized again, she’s probably right. People probably won’t care about my actual appearance… and it might make for an interesting experiment. Not that I make any money on YouTube anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter how many or how few views I get, other than in terms of my ego.

I then realized that even if I wanted to video myself playing and singing at the same time, I couldn’t do it due to my mic set up. Until yesterday afternoon, I didn’t have a mic stand. So I ordered a mic stand, along with dog treats (they’ve gotten so expensive) and new “corn cob” lightbulbs for our new Tiffany nightstand lamps.

I bought the new lamps because the base fell out of my old lamp and shattered on the floor. The lamp still works, but I figured the fact that the base is plastic with some kind of heavy material inside of it to weigh it down enough to support the shade, was a sign that it was time to buy new lamps. And the ones I got, while made in China, are smaller and have 220 voltage and plugs. I am definitely happier with them with the new bulbs that didn’t come with the lamps. The old bulbs were too dim.

The lady who encouraged me to post my visage added this comment:

knotheadusc Wrote:
——————————————————-
> I am a short, squatty, buxom blonde/silver haired
> woman who will turn 50 this year. 😉 I spend most
> of my time in my nightgown, sans makeup and
> styling, because I mostly hang out with dogs.

Haha, thanks for the much-needed laugh today.

I wish I had the dogs excuse. I work from home, which I used to enjoy very much, but somehow with the relative isolation for various reasons, it feels empty like it never did before. Lately I have worked in my pink fluffy pj’s all day. The beginning of the end! Even if someone comes to the door they don’t linger and so it’s not a motivation for me to get properly dressed. Make-up, never. Hair, pony. It’s nice and not nice at the same time.

It would all be better if only I could play the guitar. I’ve always wanted to. Never took the time. My jr high band teacher imposed the clarinet on me – no such thing as personal choice back in the day. I didn’t enjoy the clarinet and it didn’t like me. Now, the sax, I love. But my bones are not musical other than to enjoy the talents of others and wish it were me. I recently watched a Welsh Choir Christmas concert online. The lady on sax was amazing and her sax was gorgeous – shining gold in the light. I’ve never seen a gold sax before.

I’ve always thought that music is perhaps the great peacemaker, something we can all come together around, because humans love music. Except then we’d argue over the genre, for sure.

Thanks again for sharing your talent. I really enjoyed your video and this ensuing discussion. As well as the music history videos I found due to your post. It’s amazingly fortunate that that sound has been preserved as well as stories of the lives of musicians we’ve never heard of before but who deserve to be known.

I agree with her about the value of YouTube videos. Lately, I have been so into YouTube. In fact, I probably look at YouTube more than I do Facebook, which is a really good thing. I love watching old TV shows and movies, as well as some of the very talented folks who put themselves out there every day. I still consider myself a writer, first and foremost, but I may decide to put more YouTube content out there. Bill and I have even talked about doing a podcast at some point, so he can put his story out there in his own words.

Anyway, I just read that Meat Loaf died. I was never a big fan of his. I think I’ve written in this blog why that is– it’s mainly due to the fact that his music, especially “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, always reminds me of a humiliating #metoo moment I had at a party back in the early 90s. However, I recognize that Meat Loaf was talented, and many people have enjoyed his music immensely. So I wish much peace and comfort to his family and friends. Maybe I’ll try “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” today. I don’t mind that song as much.

For those who are curious about my tribute to Ronnie Spector, see below.

First time I ever did this song. It never occurred to me… although I think I enjoyed it enough to try some of Ronnie’s other songs.

Thanks to Putin and the threat to Ukraine, Bill has to work tomorrow. He’ll probably work from home all day, which sucks. I think he has to go TDY at the end of the month, too…

I don’t have any specific chores planned for today. Maybe it will be a music day. Or maybe I’ll watch more dog grooming videos. The possibilities are endless.

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dogs, videos, work, YouTube

Professional dog grooming seems almost like making magic to me…

I had every intention of writing a fresh post yesterday for this blog. I did write one for the travel blog, although it wasn’t necessarily a travel related post. Bill has been using a new gadget to help him sleep better. I thought it was kind of cool, so I decided to write a post for my other blog about it, since it kind of pertains to our home life, and the device comes from London. You can click here if you want to read that and hear us talk on a video. Otherwise, I will move on to the topic of the day, which is dog grooming.

A few days ago, I made a music video honoring Ronnie Spector. I wasn’t a big Ronnie Spector fan. In fact, I didn’t really know who she was until 1986, when I was a high school freshman, and she sang with Eddie Money on his hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.” I actually got pretty tired of that song when it was popular, but now it makes me feel nostalgic. And it occurred to me that Ronnie Spector was a very talented performer who probably didn’t get the respect she deserved… especially from her ex husband, Phil Spector. I will have to read her memoirs and get more of the scoop on that, and the rest of her career.

Actually, this very sweet video probably led me to the stray dog video…

Because I made that video, as well as the one I made for yesterday’s travel blog/gadget review, I somehow also ended up also watching a video showing a stray dog in Serbia being rescued, rehabilitated, and adopted. Noyzi and Arran watched with me, and were really enjoying the video. Noyzi was especially excited by it and actually tried to bump noses with the shaggy, rescued dog named Albert who was adopted by a Danish diplomat.

A very sweet video about a dog who found love off the streets, which led me to Rover’s Makeover.

One thing led to another, and next thing I knew, I had found Rover’s Makeover Dog Grooming’s channel… And that pretty much did it for the rest of our Sunday. Before I knew it, I had spent hours watching this Oklahoma lady named Marybeth shearing, shaving, and clipping the masses of stinky matted hair off of a bunch of long haired dogs. Marybeth says she does free jobs for some animals who desperately need to be groomed. The free jobs, naturally, tend to be a lot of work. Some of her videos run for a couple of hours. Much to my surprise, I watched several of them from start to finish. Because of that, I never got to my big computer to write anything. My travel blog post was written on my laptop as I watched Marybeth transform mangy mongrels into much happier, healthier pets.

This was the first video I watched. I was hooked pretty quickly.

I used to clip my dog, Rhonda, when I was a kid. She was a cocker spaniel/English setter mix, and she had long hair that would mat if we didn’t brush her a lot. Rhonda never got nearly as bad as some of the dogs on the videos Marybeth posts. My mom later found a groomer who took care of Rhonda’s grooming needs after my dad shaved her all over and made her look embarrassingly bad. Dad seemed to think Rhonda was like the sheep of his youth that he had to shear for his dad. He had no eye for the aesthetic when it came to grooming our poor pet… Rhonda might as well have been a fellow Air Force recruit, getting shaved before basic training!

As a teenager, I also spent hours grooming my horse, Rusty, trimming his whiskers, bathing him, feeding him supplements, and making him shine like a new penny before our big state horse show every year. But while it was satisfying cleaning up Rusty for the show ring, he was never so unkempt that he literally smiled at me after a clip and a bath.

And at the beginning of the pandemic, I had a go at cutting Bill’s hair with trimmers. I did a pretty good job of it, if I do say so myself. He never looked any more ridiculous than he usually does, anyway. But Bill doesn’t have matted hair.

Some of the dogs Marybeth grooms are so neglected that they can’t even stand properly. They have matted hair on their paws that force them to stand in an odd way, and cause their toenails to grow straight out instead of curved.

These dogs often smell pretty terrible, too, which makes people less likely to want to pet them.
This little sweetheart was in heat. Marybeth says she doesn’t usually groom dogs who are in heat, but the owners had driven four hours to get to her. Apparently, none of the local groomers would do the job.

While I can imagine this work is very physically demanding and often unpleasant, there must be so much satisfaction when Marybeth sees how much better the dogs look when she’s finished. In many cases, they can literally see better, stand and walk better, and no longer have to endure the heat and pain of hair that has pulled so tightly into mats and turned into a thick cloak. Remember, she is in Oklahoma, and it gets HOT there. I couldn’t help but share in the celebration, watching these animals transformed in a matter of hours.

Phew! This little cutie is smiling now!

Marybeth did mention that sometimes, people do dirty things, though… like ditch their animals with her. At the same time, she cautions her viewers not to judge the owners. Sometimes the “owners” are just people who found a badly neglected dog somewhere and rescued them from the street. Sometimes, the owners don’t have the money to groom their dogs properly, but they still love them.

When it comes down to, you just never know what someone’s personal situation is. Sometimes people take on pets when their health or finances are good, only to go through a severe financial or health setback that makes it impossible to take care of their pets properly. I have also noticed that people tend to be very judgmental when it comes to pets. I think sometimes the kindest thing someone can do for an animal is rehome them– to see that they go to a home where they can get the right care and attention. People will often judge others for doing that, too.

I’m just glad to see Marybeth doing this work for the animals. I can tell it’s a labor of love for her. She’s endlessly patient with the dogs, and so many of them seem to be much happier when she’s finished taking care of them. I’m sure their owners are happy, too.

YouTube is a treasure trove of talent. I’ve found so many YouTube channels with original content that offer fascinating glimpses into people’s lives. I follow so many content creators now, some of whom have been able to turn their channels into full time jobs. I have a very modest channel myself, which I mainly use as a supplement to my blogs and a place to put my musical pursuits. If I weren’t so camera shy, maybe I would make a video showing my face, too. Bill and I have talked about it. He’s as camera shy as I am, though. We would probably do a podcast where we don’t have to be camera ready.

Someone on RfM listened to my tribute to Ronnie Spector and said it led her to watch other videos. She said she found other musicians who never got the attention they deserved… and that just made me realize that for every famous person who has made it big with their talents, there are probably dozens more who are equally or even more talented and flew under the radar. The Internet makes it possible for some of those people to be discovered on YouTube or wherever else. In that sense, the Internet is truly awesome. Of course, it can also be the source of much drama and pain… but that’s a discussion for another post.

Anyway… I am glad I discovered Marybeth and her channel yesterday. Those dogs are so lucky to have her. I know she works very hard at what she does, but the results are so satisfying on so many levels. I know the dogs feel better; Marybeth can see the results of her work; and as a viewer, I can see the transformation right before my eyes, even if it takes two hours or more. Seriously… I can’t believe I watched as much as I did yesterday. I was glued to the channel.

I also got a couple of other chores done. I changed the strings on my guitar, which was easier than it was the last time I did it. I also ordered new lamps for our bedroom, because when I picked up my lamp for dusting yesterday, the base of it fell out without any warning. I bought those lamps with Epinions income share money when we lived in Georgia, about twelve years ago. They have served us well, but it’s probably time for new lamps, even if they are going to be 220 voltage.

Today, we are expecting a delivery of heating oil, which is always fun. Maybe after I practice guitar, I’ll go watch another grooming video. I actually caught myself thinking I might not mind doing that for a living… but then I remembered that I have a sore back that would probably not tolerate that work for long. So I guess I’ll just be content to watch Marybeth work and do great things for dogs in need as she educates thousands of viewers like me.

Edited to add: there is also an update on Leon the Lobster. His “dad” also got a sponsorship to help pay for Leon’s new home.

Leon is lucky, I guess.

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News, social media, YouTube

Big revelations in 2022…

Today’s featured photo kind of spells out how I feel about getting older…

This year is only 15 days old, but some people have already experienced, or at least revealed, some major life changes. And since they are people I know online, I’ve shared in their big news, if only in a small way.

This week, especially, has been one of jaw dropping revelations for some of my friends. Or, maybe it’s more revelatory to my friends’ friends, rather than themselves. I suspect that my friends who have been dropping some truths this week have known for quite some time about their personal bombshells.

Out of respect for my friends’ privacy, I don’t want to be too specific about their big news stories, since none of their tales are mine to tell. I guess this post is more about my reaction to their news… and how it makes me reflect on how things have changed so much. It wasn’t so long ago that I felt like the world hadn’t evolved that much from, say, 1990 until now. But now I realize that it really has become a totally foreign place on so many levels.

There was a time not so long ago when big news would spread via letter to one person, or by telephone, in a newspaper, or maybe word of mouth. As technology evolved, we’d hear news on the radio, or TV, and then eventually cable TV, which had news 24/7 on channels like CNN. Today, we get news from the Internet– especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

All three of my friends shared their personal news in Facebook posts. All three “stories” are a very big deal. I’m talking major life changes and, in all three cases, their very identities are evolving into something very different and potentially scary and exciting. I suspect at least two of the three people will lose some friends over their news, or even some family members who can’t cope with the massive paradigm shifts they will experience in the near future.

These three people are people I know on varying levels, both personal and professional. One of my “friends” undergoing a major life change is someone I don’t know especially well offline. We have been in each other’s physical presence a couple of times, but not recently. The other two people are genuine offline friends with whom I also had a professional relationship. One was someone I hired, and the other is someone who hired me. I haven’t seen either of them in person in a long time, either. Geography plays a big part in these circumstances, of course.

Not twenty years ago, I would not be privy to any of the really big news my friends are sharing. For instance, it would have been unthinkable in the year 2002 that I would find out about major life changes from people with whom I didn’t at least have a casual offline relationship. And yet, all three of these people have shared their news with me. I don’t mind that, per se, since I like them. But there was a time, not long ago, when I know that I never would have heard their big news, simply because I’m not that close to them.

Back in 2002, I certainly wouldn’t have found out, say, about a former acquaintance’s new addition to her family, which I only discovered this morning because she still shows up in comments she made in my Facebook memories, when we still regularly “e-versed”. This was someone I did meet offline a few times, and we had a cordial relationship, although I could tell we weren’t really clicking… or, should I say, “clique-ing”– as she was still in a clique that I had left.

Sometime last year, this person finally unfriended me on Facebook. I suspect it’s because we somehow never meshed, and we don’t have much in common, other than having both lived abroad in military communities. I got the sense that she found me annoying, and if I’m honest, I could probably say the same about her.

Nevertheless, I was still initially a little sad about losing a “friend”, but then I mostly forgot about her, since we weren’t that close to begin with. I was suddenly reminded of her again this morning, when I inadvertently saw her current profile photo. It reveals a very prominent baby bump. I’m sure she’s a mother of two by now, and I wish her well. But it still struck me as odd that I now know about this big news, even though we don’t “talk” anymore, and I hadn’t sought out news about her. And it made me realize how social media really has altered so much about what was once “normal”.

Now, we can communicate with literally anyone in the world who is on the Internet, sometimes even when we’d really rather not. Even if they aren’t on the Internet, like my mom, I can still use the Internet to call her phone. I talked to my mom the other day and she said my sister had shown her my Facebook profile picture. Mom commented that she thought I looked “beautiful”. It is a pretty nice photo, if I do say so myself. I had put on a dress, fixed my hair, and put on makeup. Mom lamented that she didn’t have any recent photos of me. We haven’t seen each other since 2015. I said, if she would just learn basic Internet skills, she could see and talk to me whenever she wants. But she won’t do it, as she’s 83 years old, and doesn’t want the Internet to invade her life. Maybe she’s smarter than I am for that, although I don’t think I could function without it as a middle aged person.

I can even find out about stuff I don’t even want to know about… information that I never sought and even find kind of hurtful. For example, back in 2013, a woman I know from my hometown sent me an email about my former “best” friend, who had had a baby and gotten her baby baptized in the church I had attended as a child. This “friend” was someone I once felt very close to, and knew very well. We spent so much time together when we were growing up. But, friends sometimes grow apart, and in the case of this friend, I realized that our “friendship” had become quite toxic.

When my church lady friend had sent me that email, I realized that my ex friend was still Facebook friends with me, but had restricted my access to her page. She, on the other hand, could freely stalk my page all she wanted. I hadn’t noticed that I was restricted, because I had quit talking to her a long time ago, mainly because I usually felt really bad about myself after our online conversations and had decided to withdraw. Then, a mutual friend dropped the bomb on me via email.

There I was, reeling from learning that my so-called, long time “best” friend from childhood had hidden the news from me that she’d had a baby. I told Bill, who then said that this “friend” had behaved very inappropriately toward him at our wedding rehearsal. It was at that point that I blocked her on social media, but even after blocking her, I still found out stuff… from mutual friends, the church lady (who was bewildered that my friend and I had a falling out), and yes, from Facebook memories.

Nowadays, Facebook memories allows users to omit memories from people they don’t want to remember, but that was not an option until somewhat recently. And, at this point, I no longer care if I hear about her or see her on social media. I even unblocked her, because in her case, I simply don’t care anymore. But I cared a few years ago… when the pain was still fresh in my mind. I wasn’t surprised by what she’d done, since I knew she’d done something similar to her ex boyfriend. I might have even excused her by not sharing her baby news. However, when Bill finally told me what she did at our wedding, that was when I really felt hurt, betrayed, and angry, and decided not to have anything to do with her anymore.

In each of the cases of the three people who shared big news with me, and all of the rest of their friends this week, all I feel is love and compassion. As I mentioned before, these are very big life changes they’re dealing with. I also feel great compassion to the people who are close to them in their personal lives, because the life changing news they shared doesn’t just affect them. In some ways, I think the people who didn’t make the big announcements, but are, nevertheless, very much affected by the news, will need all of the hope, prayers, faith, and thoughts they can get.

At the same time, I’m still somewhat amazed that I got their news. I hardly feel worthy to know of it… well, except in the cases of two of the three people, who are both people I still talk to somewhat regularly, and both of whom helped change my life for the better. In one case, I really didn’t have to know… but in the other case, I obviously would know, because their big news literally changes their identity in some very major ways. Like– I could not be friends with this person anymore and not eventually know their news.

I’m sorry if this post is confusing and weird. It’s really weird for me, too. I would like to be more specific… but I just don’t feel comfortable in sharing more at this point. And if I ever do share more, it will probably be later, perhaps in a protected post… when I’ve gotten more used to the idea. And also, it reminds me of the very interesting turns my life has taken and people I’ve either met, or know of somehow… and how sometimes, they share their big revelations with me, whether or not they meant to share their news that broadly.

Social media has made things strange in so many ways… but it’s also allowed us all to meet and get to know people we otherwise never would, and that’s not such a bad thing. Hell, I’ve “met” some interesting people just by writing this blog and occasionally attracting regular commenters. I’m kind of glad I haven’t hit “the big time” like some people have, since not being popular makes it possible for me to get to know people.

This morning, I was watching Fundie Fridays’ most recent video about Kirk and Candace Cameron, and Jen, who runs the channel with her boyfriend, James, mentioned that she was sorry she couldn’t respond to the many emails and private messages she gets. That channel has exploded in popularity, so now she literally can’t keep up with all of the correspondence. On one hand, I think it’s awesome that she’s so successful. But on another hand, there is a definite trade off, isn’t there? Anyway… I do recommend her latest video, especially if you’re as old as I am and remember when Kirk was a “teen idol”. Now he’s just a middle aged twerp who apparently thinks he’s better than you and I are because he’s the right kind of “Christian”.

Jen should do stand up. She’s hilarious.

Anyway… it’s just crazy to me how things are in 2022, and that I can find out “big news” about people, even if I don’t go looking for it. I never envisioned life would be like this back when I was younger. I’m actually delighted that I grew up in a time when people weren’t always online. And I am very glad that I didn’t have to go to school during the age of the Internet. However, I am happy that I can stay in touch with some people and meet people via the ‘net, even if there are some folks I’d like to be able to ghost the old fashioned way. And I’m sure some of them would like to lose touch with me, too…

Well, I think I’ll get back to my latest book, so I can post a new book review. My book reviews aren’t usually all that controversial, except for some of the subject matter I cover. Hope everyone has better weather than we do over here in foggy, damp, chilly Germany. And I hope all of the news you get this week is good news.

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Germany, mental health, modern problems, narcissists, YouTube

Is America really as crazy as it looks from over here?

I recently mentioned that I stumbled across a couple of “Karen” channels on YouTube. And, in spite of my disdain for the derogatory hijacking of the name, “Karen”, some of the videos I’ve seen are like train wrecks. I was especially shocked by the video below…

This video actually shows several incidents, but the one that disturbs me the most is the one captured in the still above. It starts at 8:17.

As I was watching this video yesterday, I literally shrank back against the headboard on my bed. I’m disturbed by the sheer vitriol and rage pouring out of these people. Yes, the woman captured above seems angrier than the guy she’s talking to, but both are extremely distressed. I’m surprised this didn’t become a violent confrontation. Below are a few screenshots.

We do have some angry people in Europe, and there have been some unfortunate incidents of violence and rage reported. But it seems so much worse in the United States, especially given how many people own weapons. In fact, as I was watching this, I felt distinctly uncomfortable. I imagined the other people in that neighborhood being forced to listen to, or actually witness in person, this rage filled argument that was filmed and put on YouTube.

Later, I called my mom and we both lamented how crazy things seem lately. I swear, America is not like it was when I was growing up. People are acting like maniacs. I’m sure much of it is due to our political situation and the terrible polarization that has occurred over the past few years. The pandemic, and all of the new rules and restrictions don’t help. People are very stressed out and worried, and it seems like some people feel like the world is about to end.

I really think a lot of this behavior is driven by the pandemic. People resent the rules and restrictions, and the “holier than thou” and “entitled” behaviors that are prompted in response to the pandemic. Some people seem to have a very hard time adapting, and it doesn’t help that there’s all this doom and gloom news. Several of the incidents captured in the above video are about the mask rules and people not wanting to adhere to them.

I watched a video by Dr. Ramani yesterday. It was about “narcissists and transportation rage”– people who are freaking out on airplanes or in airports. She seems to think that the people who act like this are narcissists. I’m sure a lot of them are narcissists, but the sheer volume of people who are acting like this is disturbing. Are they ALL narcissists? Or are they stressed and scared people who have completely lost their ability to cope?

I know that some people are entitled assholes no matter what. But is everyone who is wigging out lately really a narcissist? I think everyone has a limit, and recently, Americans seem to be proving that their tolerances for frustration and adversity are not as high as they should be. On the other hand, life was pretty difficult even before the pandemic.

I remember having to work several part time jobs with no benefits just to get my bills paid. I remember being scared of the day when I couldn’t meet my own financial demands. I don’t even have children to worry about. Consider that so many people my age are dealing with their aging parents and children in college, or maybe they waited until later to have children and had one with “special needs” of some sort.

Those are stressful conditions under normal circumstances. Add in the pandemic and the hassles and fears associated with it, as well as inflation, lack of affordable housing, and the inability to take a vacation without being constantly reminded of the pandemic. Add in the challenges of taking care of younger children when schools close or go to distance learning, while meanwhile, your parents have dementia or require help taking care of their needs. Sometimes people just freak out because it all becomes too much. And then they get filmed and put on YouTube, where people mock them.

In some of these videos, both parties are acting atrociously. It’s obvious some of these people are fed up and stressed out, but some seem to be permanently unhinged and uncivilized.

I realize I am very lucky on so many levels. From where I sit, Germany is not nearly as chaotic as the US is right now. People are sick of the pandemic here, and there’s definitely some grumpiness. But I haven’t seen or heard of nearly as many people losing their shit as I have in the United States. Of course, in Germany, filming people and putting them online can lead to legal problems in a heartbeat. As a general rule, Germans are big on privacy.

My mom is 83 years old and still is pretty good health. She has enough money to take care of her needs, at least at this point. She is happy living alone, although she did say that she is probably going to move closer to my sister in North Carolina within the next year or so. But that’s mainly because the assisted living apartment where she’s lived since 2009 is getting too expensive. There’s another complex near Chapel Hill, where my sister lives, that is less pricey. She said she has to wait for someone to die before she moves. Apparently, there’s a long waiting list.

I know I need to watch some different videos on YouTube to change the algorithms of what ends up on my suggested videos list. I also need to change the algorithms on Facebook. Somehow, I get posts from Reddit Ridiculousness, where people share AITA (Am I The Asshole) posts. These posts usually consist of stories about people in certain situations that cause discomfort and questions about whether or not someone’s behavior ventures into “asshole” territory.

I will admit, some of the stories are pretty entertaining and/or interesting. But it’s hard to gauge whether or not someone is an asshole based only on an Internet anecdote, because you can only judge them by objective standards and whatever details they include in their stories. Not everyone has a way with words, so it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of a situation. You also have different personalities that come into play. Some people are better than others at hiding who they are, and some people have abrasive personalities, but aren’t necessarily assholes.

I know this, because many people assume I’m an asshole because of my many ventings about Ex. They assume she’s a “normal” person. I’m gratified, though, because now younger daughter talks to Bill and confirms that we aren’t the crazy ones. Aside from that, I’ve shared some of Ex’s public postings with a couple of friends, both of whom have expressed shock and dismay. If you don’t know her backstory, you’d never know that a lot of what she posts is a facade to try to look good. But then she’ll slip some things in that don’t go unnoticed by the astute. Like, for instance, her constant thinly veiled Twitter attempts to wangle money from celebrities.

Anyway… it’s been bizarre to sit over here and watch some of this stuff from afar. I am an American, but some of these videos make me feel kind of ashamed of that fact. I love my country, and I know that our people are capable of great things. But lately, it’s like everybody has gone off the deep end. And yes, it does seem worse there than it is here… although I did get flipped off in Austria a couple of months ago by a guy on a bike. I think the guy meant to flip off Bill, who was driving at the time, but I got the full brunt of his middle finger. I will admit that my instinct was to respond in kind. So I guess there is that. I probably wouldn’t have done that in Germany, though. Flipping people off, especially in traffic, is against the law. Why? Because finger gestures almost always make things worse and escalate situations that don’t need to be escalated. So does yelling, preaching, shaming, and flying off the handle. I feel like people all over the whole world, but especially people in the United States, need to take a deep breath.

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disasters, Duggars, Reality TV, transportation, YouTube

Jim Bob’s auditions, Derick’s defection, Josh in prison, and the world’s oldest profession…

Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed, watching some of the old episodes of the Duggars’ reality show that have been recently posted on YouTube. They’ve brought back a lot of repressed memories. I did used to watch the show, back in the days before we knew the truth about Josh Duggar. Even before I knew about the Duggar family, I found super large families interesting. It’s probably because of my dad’s experiences growing up in a big family. My dad and his siblings always seemed very close-knit and loving, even if my experiences as my dad’s daughter seemed to be less like that.

My dad was one of nine children, and I always thought that was a huge family. By today’s standards, it is a huge family. But my dad’s family still had fewer than half of the kids in the Duggar family. In fact, compared to the Duggars, my dad’s family almost looks petite.

Back when their reality show premiered, I thought the Duggars were fascinating. Most of the kids were cute and precocious. Even Josh, back in the day, seemed benign in his brightly colored polo shirts and khaki pants, with his neatly cut hair. It wasn’t until the specials turned into a show that I realized how smug and glib Josh appeared to be. But then there was Jim Bob… and Jim Bob frequently came off like a blockhead– a heavily shellacked blockhead. Sometimes he said things that made it sound like he’d been inhaling too much hairspray, or something. But then, after watching the Duggars for awhile, I realized that Jim Bob is quite narcissistic and uses people, especially his family. For years, he’s used his own children as a source of power and money.

Yesterday, I watched the Duggars, then listened to a couple of YouTubers opine about them and their family. One v-logger, in particular, highlighted Jim Bob’s lengthy application/questionnaire that he handed out to his daughters’ suitors. The v-logger commented that the questionnaire seemed almost akin to an audition. The young men who came a’courtin’, had to explain their religious beliefs, and describe how they planned to support the Duggar daughters.

An interesting video by kyeluh about Jill, and her upbringing in a cult.

It dawned on me that Jim Bob was holding auditions, to keep the gravy train rolling. It mattered less if the potential suitor was a good match and had things in common and basic chemistry with his daughters. He was looking for guys who were reasonably attractive, loyal, hard working, and, above all, malleable, and willing to submit to Jim Bob’s authority. So far, it doesn’t look like Boob is the best judge of character, even with that lengthy audition/questionnaire he makes his potential sons-in-law fill out for him. Ben Seewald seems to be the only one who stays totally loyal to Boob, besides Boob’s own sons. The other sons-in-law mostly seem interested in actually being the “headship”, rather than allowing Boob to stay in that role.

Then I thought about how Jim Bob had basically “prostituted” his children to TLC, using a contract in which he collected all of the money from the episodes of the Duggar series and specials, supposedly to dole out the money to the participants. However, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, later sued Jim Bob so they could get paid for their participation on Counting On. It’s been widely reported that Jill was basically paid minimum wage, and the cost for pursuing that money, as well as being allowed to live life on her own terms, was being ostracized from her family.

I remember when I first saw Derick Dillard. I thought he seemed reasonably intelligent. I even kind of liked him. He did, at the very least, seem to really love Jill, anyway, and God knows she needed someone to show her some authentic love. Then later, Derick was criticized for making transphobic comments about fellow TLC reality star, Jazz Jennings. It got to the point at which he was no longer on Counting On. At first, I thought TLC gave him the ax because of all of those transphobic comments he made about Jazz Jennings, and the backlash resulting from them. Later, I read that he and Jill had decided to leave the show, because they weren’t getting paid, and because they didn’t enjoy having their personal lives plastered all over a reality show solely for Jim Bob’s profit.

I also realized, sad as it is, that a lot of Americans probably have feelings that are similar to Derick Dillard’s when it comes to issues regarding the LGBTQ community. While I disagree with Derick’s opinions regarding that community, I can also understand why he still has a voice. It’s because many people agree with him, but aren’t saying so out loud. They don’t want to be lectured or canceled. It’s sort of the same reason why Donald Trump is popular, in spite of being an obvious and major narcissistic dickhead.

It would be nice if every person’s controversial and problematic views evolved at the same time, but that’s not reality. The truth is, it takes time to change public sentiment. That’s why we still have issues with racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. Loftily telling someone to “educate themselves”, when they have an opinion that isn’t politically correct, isn’t likely to end with positive results. People don’t like to be told what to do or how to think or what their opinions should be, even if more progressive people have come to different conclusions. Telling them that they have to change their views is going to result in a lot of defiance, and championing of those who are bolder about expressing their opinions.

So, instead of disliking Derick Dillard simply because he made those offensive, transphobic comments, which are right in line with his conservative Christian beliefs, I choose to look at him in a more positive light. I don’t agree with his ignorant comments about people who aren’t heterosexual, but I like that he encourages Jill to live a less constrained life. I like that he seems to love her very much. I love that he took on Jim Bob, and doesn’t let Jim Bob run his or Jill’s lives. I love that Jill does more of what she wants, and their sons go to public school, where they are exposed to people who aren’t just like them. I love that Derick insisted on being paid for the work that he and Jill did.

Jim Bob acts like a pimp, and his wife and children, and now his grandchildren, are pressed into service to make money for him, just as if they were prostitutes for TLC. I’m glad Derick stopped allowing Jim Bob to prostitute him and Jill, using them for his personal gain. While some people may not like that I use the terms “pimp” and “prostitute” to describe Jim Bob and his family, if you look up the definition for “prostitute”, you will find that it’s not always a word that’s used for sex workers. It’s also used for people who surrender their self-respect and misuse their talents for personal gain. A pimp is a “go-between”– a “purveyor” of services rendered, especially if they’re sexual. But, if you think about it, Jim Bob kind of does sell off his offspring, if not for reality entertainment value, then for their abilities to reproduce and make more bodies who can be raised to think the way he does.

The Duggars, and the people who have married into that family, are all conservative Christians. Most of them hail from the southern United States, which is Bible Belt territory. I think it’s unrealistic to expect most of them to change their beliefs about homosexuality and transgendered people on a dime. It would be nice if they could instantly join us in the 21st century and stop being homophobic and transphobic, but that isn’t reality. While I think their show should have been canceled ages ago, I also think the fact that it wasn’t is a sign that a lot of Americans are, deep down, more like them than they’d like to admit, political correctness be damned.

Maybe it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the Duggars had a reality show for so long. If anything, the show and the incredible fall from grace the Duggars are experiencing, shines a light on the very disturbing and destructive IBLP and ATI cult formed by Bill Gothard. If not for the Duggars, would most of us even know about Bill Gothard? I don’t think I would. Maybe I would have eventually gotten around to reading a book about fundies, but it takes more time and effort to read a book than watching a TV show.

Personally, I think it’s better to try to understand the Duggars where they are, and realize that for now, they are homophobic and transphobic, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. We have to work with what we have. They aren’t going to change their beliefs simply because I tell them they need to educate themselves. They have to want to change. And right now, they have bigger fish to fry, as eldest son Josh awaits his sentencing and trip to federal prison. Speaking of which…

Lately I’ve also been watching videos made by former prisoners. I’ve been watching Jessica Kent, who served time in New York and Arkansas, for some time, but I’ve also watched a few videos by Christina Randall, a winsome YouTuber from Florida who did time in prison there. Recently, I saw her video about what it’s like to be transferred to prison, and how terrible an experience that was. I think Josh has some terrible days ahead of him, but at least he won’t be pregnant when he goes to prison.

This is actually a pretty harrowing video. Being transported to prison sounds pretty hellish.
Jessica’s experience. She was pregnant when she went on that horrible five hour drive to prison.

I don’t have any pity for Josh. I don’t think he is someone who should ever be on the outside, mainly because people like him can’t be rehabilitated without extreme measures. Basically, he’d probably need to be castrated to have any hope of quelling his deviant desires. We know that’s not going to happen. He poses a danger to the world’s most innocent and fragile people. But even though I don’t pity him, I also know that he’s going to be in for a rough time. And I know that in spite of how I feel about his family– especially his father– there are people in that family who love him in spite of what he’s done. So I have some compassion for them, and basic compassion for Josh, because he is still a human being who has done really terrible, monstrous things.

Josh is not ever going to be trustworthy, especially around children. And it is sad for his SEVEN children than their father is a sexual deviant who is going to prison. Although it would probably be sadder for them if he had been acquitted, and allowed to raise them, since it’s likely that they were victimized by him. The sad fact is, people who look at what he was looking at usually have to produce it themselves, in order to be trusted in that sick community. I would be surprised if Anna doesn’t get investigated, too.

Of course, not everyone in the Duggar family is guilty, and they shouldn’t all have to pay for Josh’s mistakes, or the fact that the patriarch trotted them out on reality TV so he could make a fast buck. They can’t help being who they are, or how they were raised… and even if the world is telling them they should be different, it’s a scary proposition to reject one’s family and upbringing, and the ideals that they learned during their formative years. I have hope that some of them will break away and have the courage to live life on their own terms, rather than being Boob’s enslaved prostitutes for publicity.

Anyway… this whole fiasco has been an epic shitshow. It’s really something to watch the oldest episodes of the Duggars’ reality show and see just how deceptive they were, and how much “actual reality” was being obscured by “reality TV”. It’s always sad when someone’s image is significantly less than the reality of who they really are becomes obvious. But I do take heart when I see glimmers of hope and light, and I do see those when I see Derick Dillard take on Jim Bob and Josh. No, he’s not perfect, and I certainly don’t agree with his homophobic or transphobic opinions, or his conservative political views. But I think it’s a beautiful thing that he supports his wife in her recovery, and doesn’t let Jim Bob whore him out to the highest bidder. That’s got to count for something.

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