Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Don't Forget the Headshot!

So, it's Thanksgiving, and what's going through my head?

Well, it goes something like this:  If the zombie apocalypse goes down in a Walking Dead fashion, then we'll no longer play Taps at funerals.  Instead, we'll play DOUBLE TAPS!

Get it?  Instead of firing rifles into the air as a salute, we'll fire into the dearly departed's head.

Ew.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Hey, I didn't get to sleep until after 4 am last night.  Because of my rededication to genealogy/family history.  We were hugely into it back in the late 1990s, and we've really thrown ourselves back into it.  I think photographing cemeteries did it, really.  Made us want to take another look at our own dead folks.

And boy, has genealogy changed in the past 15 years!

I confess, I am a little bothered handing our family information over to the LDS Church, considering the craziness they get up to with this stuff, but then I remember my husband and my sister were both baptized into that church decades ago.  Any "baptizing for the dead" insanity they were going to indulge in?  They already have.  And they ARE an amazing source of information, and they're generous with it, too.  So score one for the Mormons.

Now, if we could just get people to stop listing dubious connections borne of wishful thinking when it comes to recording familial connections!  I swear, I scream every time I come across yet another child born three years before his parents or another woman bearing children in her 70s because, hey, close enough!

Here, here's someone we can't ID.  Gentleman was probably from the Philly area, appears to be a WWII shot?  I say Philly because this picture was in with my family's stuff, and my family is mostly from the Philly/Camden area.


Homemade pumpkin pie this year--made from a real, live pumpkin, even!  It wasn't hard, prepping the pumpkin, and I think it's going to be the very best ever.  Hubby made one of his amazing homemade cheesecakes, too.  Here's a pic of last year's:

I expect this year's to be at least as good!


Back to the genealogy?  I've discovered a treasure trove of truly bad names in my husband's family.  Here are a few:



Not a lot else to say--busy day!  I hope everyone out there has a marvelous and wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Filibuster THIS, Babe!

So.  Dentistry.  Amazing, we allow people to do that to us.  Am I the only person who stares at the ceiling in the dentist's chair and thinks "what the hell am I doing, it is insane, it is absolutely against human nature to sit here calmly and allow this!"

I went in for a "consultation" this past Monday.  Even though they couldn't see anything untoward on the x-rays, and the tooth had stopped hurting a week earlier (but still felt "odd"), the "make it hurt with chemical cold" test showed the tooth wasn't responding the way it should.  The doctor's claim that the nerve was "dead or dying," however, proved to be a bit misleading.  If a "dead or dying" nerve can cause that much damnable agony through a half-gallon of novocaine, then I cringe to think what a "live and kicking" nerve could do.

The dentist (a very handsome guy who looks and sounds like Gaeta from BSG) really wanted to do a root canal.

Not really my dentist, but pretty danged close!

He kept saying he didn't want to push, but fact was, he pushed.  I had them running back and forth to the front desk, ensuring that this wasn't going to cost me a dime (that available credit needed to cover it entirely).  And that was the consensus--my available credit more than covers it.  

So I agreed.  Mostly because I want to use that credit before they decide I don't actually HAVE it.

He said he could do it right then.  Which was a little shocking, considering it took three months just to get an initial appointment in this place.

Things turned difficult pretty quickly.  Like is often the case, my roots were curved.  He said "maybe we should send you to an endodontist," and I said "No money for that."  So we forged forward.

This wasn't my first root canal (I had one about 7 years ago), but it was my most painful.  One canal "blind," partially calcified and the nerve hard to get to.  Office didn't have the right sized file (he needed white, and they didn't have it, though they ordered one asap)..  Long story short?

Four-and-a-half hours of drilling and x-rays and mouth wide open.  And pain.

Holy shit, pain.  Absolutely, by far, the worst dental pain I've ever suffered, and I've suffered a lot.

Four-and-a-half hours, and he couldn't finish.  Other patients being shuffled off onto other dentists so he could put that much time into it.  I wound up going home with a cobbled together temporary filling and two scripts--one for antibiotics (which are thrashing my belly) and one for Vicodin, which is of zero use. Not sure why folks get hooked on it, unless they're taking superbly high doses.  Made an appointment for yesterday to (hopefully) finish, and spent three days eating soft, mushy things because I don't have any molars on the other side to chew with.

Back yesterday, finished up.  Another three-and-a-half hours.  Same dentist because I requested it--I'm sick of the "fast food/assembly line" dentistry where I get a different doctor every time.  I like this guy, even if he did burn my lip twice.  He listens, he pays attention, he actually reads my file, and he put a hell of a lot of effort into this--more than most dentists there would have.  He's new in the office, and, honestly, I think he's a poor fit--the other dentists come across as employees (which they are--this is a "one main, older dentist running a stable of fresh-out-of-school dentists" situation), whereas this guy comes across as a dentist.  He'll have his own office sooner rather than later, I'm thinking.

That his name is a Doctor Who reference?


So now I have a temp crown for two weeks, during which time I'm not supposed to eat on that side of my head.  Gonna make Thanksgiving interesting.  On the "bright" side, it does make me eat a LOT slower.  Ever gummed a Builder's Bar?  Takes a while.

Hopefully, this root canal will take.  If it doesn't, I'm going to feel super-stupid having blown that credit on a root canal instead of an extraction and bridge.


Our latest foray into cemetery photographing took us to an old Civil War era graveyard.  Came across something I'd like to discuss.  A "road to hell" thing.

Don't do that.  If you're not an expert on repairing old headstones, don't whip out the damned GORILLA GLUE and do THIS.  Whoever did this made no effort to mask the lower half of the stone or even to remove the excess before it set/bonded.  There's no getting it off now without chipping away at the stone.  I'm sure the person who did this thought they were doing a good thing, but fact is, they were screwing up.  The road to vandalism is paved with good intentions?  In this case, definitely.

Photographing these cemeteries has put me out on various family history and gravestone sites, which has, in turn, reawakened my interest in our own family's history.  I've discovered a lot about my own family, including stuff I had no idea about.  Like my Great-Grandfather Philip dying in the state penitentiary of TB, which explains why Great-Grandma remarried.  And what Philip did to wind up in prison?

Explains pretty much everything about Grandma Mary's psychological makeup.

Great-Grandfather Philip

My little sister hit basic training camp two weeks ago.  I got my first letter from her a couple of days ago.  She wrote so small I had to put on my old lady reading glasses to make sense of  it.  She is MARKEDLY younger than I am.  In fact, I am literally (and I mean "literally" LITERALLY) old enough to be her mother.  Her writing will get bigger as her inability to read that small print comes on with age, I'm sure.   Anyway, she's in basic training, Army.  I'm not at all happy about it, would almost certainly have tried to talk her out of it, had I any advance warning, but she sprung it on me after the fact--she'd already enlisted.

Enlisted.  A Specialist.  I'm hoping she shoots for Officer Training.  With a six-year enlistment, she should make the most of it.  I also hope she stays safe.  As a woman in the military, she has more to worry about from her male counterparts than from any enemy combatants.  Our military members rape and abuse female soldiers with impunity.

I'm only just getting to know her, and I like what I'm finding.  She's smart, practical, pragmatic, and funny.  She (along with her siblings) comes from our dad's second marriage. Her mom was "the other woman" (or ONE of the "other women," actually) in my mom's marriage.  She loves her mom, and so I don't ever say anything, but recently her sister (my other little sister) went nutty on our dad's newest wife--the one he left their mom for, calling her a slut, a whore, a homewrecker, etc.  It was all I could do to keep from saying, "Yeah, sucks, doesn't it, when some other woman gets involved with your mom's husband and destroys the marriage?"  

Glass houses, but fact is, it's not my little sister who lives in that glass house.  I'm not going to smack her for not recognizing that her own mother did to my family exactly what the new wife did to hers.  She's not likely to see the parallels at this point in her life.  Maybe in 20 years.

I have no hard feelings . . . mostly.  I do have to compartmentalize, though--bitter past experience has left me no love for women who knowingly dally with married men.  I don't tend to use terms like "whore/slut/tramp/slag," but when I do, I am, without fail, referring to women who have sex with other women's husbands, knowing they're married.

Anyway, my beautiful little sister.  I hope this works for her, I hope she gets out of it what she's looking for.  I hope she's safe, happy, and comes out of it the person she wants to be.


Not much to say, politically, except this:

Came across a particularly silly Utah name today.  It would be silly regardless of gender, but this was a man's name, and that made it all the more ridiculous.  The name?


I know, right?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

If it Weren't for Bad Luck . . .

Trying to be positive.  Trying to be upbeat.  Trying to view this as "good news" rather than another damnable disaster in an endless series of them.

How about the "good news" first?

I was poring over the bills from my dental crown appointment last July.  After some head-scratching and math-doing, I came to the conclusion that our dentist overcharged us by $518.50. The math goes something like this:

Practical upshot?  Our dentist owed us $518.50.

Hubby didn't want to go along with it.  He figured that the "contracted fee for procedure" only meant that the dentist couldn't charge US any more than that, but that supplemental insurance could be nailed for as much as they could get.  

I disagreed.

So, after spending the morning on the phone with both insurance companies, neither of which was a lick of help, I insisted we head to the dentist's office.

I walked in calm and friendly, stating I had an issue with charges from my last visit.  Hubby and I were quickly brought to the billing office, where a lovely Russian woman, their head of billing, took a look at my paperwork.  She pulled up the account and immediately said "We owe you money, you have a credit here."  But then, as she dug deeper and deeper, her tone changed.  She kept saying things like "Oh, my," and "Oh, no."  And then she said, "I'm going to have to call to confirm your insurance, but it appears we owe you a lot of money."

$579.00, to be exact.

After hassling much longer than was pleasant with our insurer (who, on the first two calls, denied I have any dental plan at all), it was all hammered out.  With our lovely Russian billing manager asking if we wanted a check or credit.

Of course, I wanted a check.  This would pay off a credit card.  This would pay for our boy's promised keyboard AND the mandolin.  Only one problem.

There's something wrong with my upper left first bicuspid.  Something really wrong.

The pain started just a few days before this windfall.  It was an unfocused, all over face pain (as dental pain often is), with the pain searing through the maxilla, the TMJ, and often down into the mandible and through the ear.  It wasn't a constant pain, but rather a sometimes thing that seemed to be triggered by cold, whether it be food or outside temperatures.  I've suffered a like pain before, and had an ENT chalk it up to stress and throw muscle relaxants at me.  I've been pretty solidly stressed, so I decided to sit on it.

And then I found the source of the pain.

I stuck a finger in my mouth and ran it along the upper gum.  When I got to the spot right under the cheek bone and right above that bicuspid and pushed, there was a sharp, searing pain down through the tooth and up through the cheek.  To confirm (because I just had a crown done two teeth farther along), I tapped each tooth with my fingernail.  No problem with the two molars and second bicuspid, but when I tapped that first bicuspid, I was once again treated to wowser pain.

Understand, this bicuspid has a history.  Back in 2004 (a few dentists and 2,000+ miles away), I broke it almost perfectly in half.  I had been eating a treat and came down hard on a large chunk of walnut shell.  The tooth snapped.  It was my first time (and, hopefully only) seeing the inside of a tooth.  All pulpy and stringy and dentin-y.  This happened the night before my family was hopping a plane for SoCal and Disneyland.  Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:30 am.  The tickets were bottom-of-the-barrel, no rescheduling, no refund-types.  And so I climbed on that plane with a broken-in-half bicuspid and off we went for the very worst vacation of my life.

And that wasn't because of the tooth. The tooth was just icing.

I couldn't see a dentist while there because our insurance swore they'd nail me with "out--of-network" charges that we couldn't afford.  They didn't consider a broken-in-half bicuspid a dental "emergency."  And so I took my Ibuprofen every six hours and I tried not to whine too much.

When I saw my dentist, his first words were "This has been open for over a week?  This is a root canal, I'm sorry."

My answer, of course, was that we couldn't afford a root canal, so if that was the only option, he was going to have to pull it.  

His name was Michael Blamires, and he decided to do his best to patch the tooth, creating a second point and protective cover with resin.  He told me that he couldn't make any promises, that, with the tooth having been open for over a week, it would probably develop an infection or decay from the inside out.  He said I might get five days, I might get a year.  Hopefully, enough time to save up for a root canal.

That was nine years ago.  So, thank you, Dr. Blamires.  You did a truly amazing job, and I've sung your praises to every dentist I've met since.  

Now, not being a dentist myself, I'm not sure it's the bicuspid, and I'm not sure I'm looking at a full root canal with crown and build up.  But I probably am.  And if I am?

That $579.00 will almost cover it.

I'm trying to look at this as a stroke of luck, since the tooth was hurting and suddenly, BAM!  I have almost 600 bucks of credit with the dentist.  But it really does feel like just another kick in the ass.  Another case of life thumbing its nose and making even my good luck bad.  


Speaking of bad luck, remember how suspicious I was of the whole "car only needs to be inspected every two years" thing?  How I called the DMV to confirm, kept asking, "I know that's true for the emissions, but the safety inspection, too?"  And how happy I was that the DMV confirmed?

And was wrong, it turns out.

Hubby stepped out last Saturday morning to take our boy to Hapkido and there it was.  A giant orange sticker on the driver's side window, letting us know we had 48 hours to get the car inspected.   That's 48 hours from 3 am Saturday morning.  That threw the day's plans into disarray as we scrambled to find a inspection station that would see us.  We found one, dropped the 16 bucks.

And then dropped the $140 for the new battery.

Yeah, it's great that we had $140.  We'd been planning on using that to treat ourselves to a meal in Shenandoah National Park.

Again, I guess it's "lucky" we had the cash.  But barely keeping our noses above water somehow doesn't feel "lucky."  It feels endlessly exhausting.


So, have you been following the Obenshain vs Herring debacle in Virginia?  Are you as tiredly unsurprised by the smug, grinning gall of the republicans?  Changing the rules for counting provisional ballots AFTER the election and ONLY in heavily democrat Fairfax County?  I wish I could say I was stunned, shocked, or otherwise caught off guard, but fact is, the moment they said we were trucking toward a recount, I said "Oh, well, we already know about republicans and recounts.  Let's see what scuzz-baggery they pull out of their sleeves."

Never ones to disappoint, the republicans pulled THIS CHICANERY.

Not sure what they are, but I refuse to believe they're Americans.  If I believe that, then I have to wonder what on earth I'm doing here.


I've spent the past couple of weekends photographing cemeteries to record the headstones.  I find it incredibly rewarding, strolling through cemeteries, sitting down and poring over stones (or photos of them) and deciphering them.  Some are very old--1700s.  You know me and my "I don't want dead folks to be forgotten" hangup.  So this is satisfying.  I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile. Plus, I've come across some wonderful historical things that make my day--like the woman who freed her slaves in her will back in 1855, or the guy who died during one of Lysander Cutler's raids in Louisa County.  I already knew Lysander from his role in Second Manassas at Brawner's Farm. It was amazing to find that link there in that tiny little cemetery out at the end of a dirt road.

Here are some pics--not of individual headstones, but of the cemeteries in general:

Some might call it "ghoulish" or assume I've some dippy Goth thing going on, but that's not it.  I love cemeteries because they're beautiful.  They're home to the last, loving tributes to people who AREN'T anymore, people who WERE, and that makes them incredibly special.  They're history, memory, and love all wrapped up in a wonderful natural setting.  If you have a good digital camera, a pen and notebook, and an afternoon, take the time to hit your local boneyards.  Photograph each stone with an eye for clarity of inscription and shape of stone.  Then hit Find-a-Grave and go to work.  A lot of those stones are already photographed/catalogued, but your picture might be better, it might be clearer or be from a different angle that will help folks trying to decipher them.

Do it.  These stones aren't forever, and some are fading fast.  And please, don't use shaving cream or other harsh chemicals to highlight the inscriptions.  Instead, try water (or snow, if it's winter), light, mirrors (to redirect sunlight and play up shadows) or, as a last resort, talc or fine-ground flour. Not talcum baby powder (which has stearic asid in it), but pure talc.   I've never used anything, but I've seen some amazing results with these techniques, so you should look it up if you're interested.


And that's about it.  Here, have some interesting Utah names:

  • LaReta
  • Ranada
  • Ensign
  • Eris
  • ADonna
  • Rulon
  • JoOnna
  • Winda

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Life and Death

So, we have this lovely pond/flood retention area not too far from our place.  It's an amazing spot, attracts herons, ducks, geese, birds of prey, is full of "spring peepers" and bull frogs, and even has its own fox.

Oh, did.  Hang on, let me start again.

We HAD this lovely pond/flood retention area not too far from our place, read above.  About a month ago, authorities came in and bulldozed/backhoed/shredded to bits this pond, tearing out all the vegetation and hollowing out deep pools with strips of land between them.  And then went in the hundreds of perforated "pipes," a couple of inches in diameter and three or so feet tall.  And then hundreds of little plants (that I'm assuming are inside those pipes now), along with "scare geese."  You know, like scarecrows, except these are tin FOXES meant to keep the birds away.  It works.  These black, tin foxes keep this area absolutely free of birds.

The irony, of course, is that they destroyed the habitat needed by the real fox so they could put in fake ones.

I also find myself wondering how our peepers and bullfrogs will fare.  I'm not sure these pictures truly capture the scope of the devastation here--everything is gone.  Maybe something better will sprout in its place, but right now I'm feeling like they leveled something lovely and replaced it with a pale imitation complete with tin wildlife.


I came across some bit from a rather popular celebrity the other day.  I've had precious little use for the woman or her words since she spewed a wave of anti-Palestinian invective years back.  Using a thousands-year-old religious tome to draw modern political boundaries is, in all ways, ridiculous, regardless of the tome. Laughable. To (rightfully) decry the horrors visited upon your own people while visiting horror upon those whose lands you illegally occupy?  Hypocritical and sickening.  To support the destruction of homes, the theft of land, the occupation and oppression of a people while calling those who dare fight back "terrorists?"


To then proclaim yourself a champion of girls?  A hero dedicated to empowering young women?  A spokesperson for organizations seeking to address such issues as education, clean water, sanitation, health, livelihood, and agricultural/food security?  Through a system of "empowering" youth?

Are you kidding me?  Been to Gaza lately?  Taken a look at the merciless clearing and "settling" of Palestinian lands, in blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention?  Considered the money raked in by Israeli companies who flout international law by exiling native peoples and then exploiting that stolen land for profit?  Ever put yourself in the shoes of the Palestinians, who have seen their homeland stolen, their homes bulldozed, their families torn apart, their groves and orchards uprooted in favor of illegal settlements (don't let anyone tell you that the Israelis "made the desert bloom."  Contemporary reports and photographic evidence show that Palestine was "blooming" just fine before occupation)?  When those children eat fish sullied by sewage spewed into the water by a treatment plant bombed by Israel's military (a plant that can't be repaired or rebuilt because Israel won't allow the materials needed to be imported), do you champion THEM?  When Gazans are told they cannot farm the land, and are shot for attempting to do so, where is your concern over issues of food security?  When yet another West Bank neighborhood is leveled to make way for yet another illegal Israeli settlement, do you step up and publicly decry the attack?  When Palestinians die at checkpoints because sadistic soldiers won't let them through for medical care, where is your activism?  When Israelis sneak into Palestinian villages in the night and drop off trailers, knowing they can then claim the land under those trailers due to apartheid laws (yes, APARTHEID--look it up, it's not about skin color) that crush one race and glorify the other, where is your charity, your indignation, your humanity?

When a native population is exiled, driven from their homes, and barred from returning, while another people, with no ties to the land, is granted "right of return" to a land they've never BEEN, where is your OUTRAGE?

Where is your support for the power of Palestinian girls?

Maybe, someday, this woman put an ounce of unfettered thought into the whole "stealing something, then spraying violent indignation at anyone who calls us on it" way of being.  Maybe, just maybe, she'll jump off the bandwagon and see just how ridiculous it is to think that theft, genocide, murder, oppression, apartheid, and exile can be excused by a thousands-year-old mythology book that proclaims one group "God's Chosen" over all others.  It's garbage when Muslims justify violence with the Q'uran, it's puke when Christians justify hatred and prejudice with the Bible, and it's no different when Jews justify "Zionism" and apartheid with their holy writ. It's MYTHOLOGY, kids.  It's the 21st Century, can we stop killing people over ODIN?

And before anyone pulls out the "anti-Semitism" card, don't.  Judaism isn't the problem (any more than any other religion being used to justify dominance over another).  Jews aren't the problem. Judaism is a religion like any other, and Jews are people like any other.  It's the Israeli government, the Israeli military, illegal settlers, and the world's tacit support for an apartheid occupation.  Saying that those who disagree with Israel's policies are "anti-Semites" is like calling those who opposed South Africa's apartheid "anti-white."

Or "terrorists."


Here, let's lighten the mood, huh?

I love that, which surprises me.  Often, it's not so amusing when people "mess up" a beloved piece of art (and this is one of my favorites).  But I love this, find it light-hearted and funny.  In case you're curious, here's the real deal:

The composer's name was pronounced, they say, "Pax-uh-bell."  Who knew?


Spent last Sunday exploring and photographing a couple of old cemeteries.  It was wonderful, amazing, and the history associated with them was fascinating.  Hey, this is Virginia--you can't get away from the history.  We went to one cemetery, where we found the grave of a young man who died at Louisa, Virginia in August of 1862.  A little checking found that he probably died during one of Lysander Cutler's raids on the railroads.  We learned all about Lysander Cutler last year at the Second Manassas anniversary re-enactments at Brawner's Farm.  I also found the will of of a woman buried there--she died in 1855, and, in her will, freed all her slaves.

The second cemetery wasn't in nearly the good shape the first was, sadly.  Yes, the first also had headstones down (not a surprise, when you have headstones as old as 1777), but the second had a pile of broken and damaged stones just laying in a neglected heap at the back of the church, and areas completely overgrown by wild blackberry, honeysuckle, and poison ivy.  It was sad to see.  Today, we're going to another graveyard to take more pictures.  See, once I have the pictures, I go to work cleaning them up in Photoshop, then uploading them to Find-a-Grave and other historical sites.  No, I don't get paid for it, but it feels important--these stones are deteriorating at a devastating rate, and if they aren't catalogued, they'll be lost forever.

First Cemetery

Second Cemetery


One last thing before I sign off--a new batch of funny Utah names!  Remember, none of these are made up--at least not by me!  These are honest-to-goodness names real, live people have been saddled with.  I included "Jereece" to show that it's not all old folks with "Mormon" names--Utah has some fancy, kinda new, kinda wow bad names, too!

  • Verald

  • Veraldine

  • Zenda

  • Thello

  • Jereece Shintyl

  • Virl Effie

  • Adair (that's a woman)

  • Borman

  • Vanetia

  • Doan

Friday, November 1, 2013

No Woman, No Drive, No Racism, No Fat Shaming

So, last night was Halloween.  Or "Hallowe'en," as I used to type in my more pretentious days. My boy went dressed as "Heimskr," a monk from Skyrim:

While his father tossed together a last-minute/stuff-laying-about-the-house Abe Lincoln (yes, we do have the gear around the house to make a fair Abe Lincoln):

And me?  I went as the photographer.  Or maybe I was "The Invisible Mom."  I'm not much for having my picture taken, and last time I put on Halloween makeup to hand out candy, I scared kids.  Felt really bad about it.

Anyway, a lot of cute costumes last night, but one "set" I found really troubling.  Understand, I live in a very racially diverse area--in fact, while whites do make up the largest group, we are not the majority.  We have Puerto Ricans, Brazilians, Nigerians, Mexicans, Indians, Egyptians, Argentinians, Pakistanis, Lebanese, African Americans, and Italians just in our little neighborhood.  So when a little WHITE girl shows up dressed as Scarlett O'Hara, surrounded by her little WHITE friends in BLACK FACE?  Spouting lines from Gone With the Wind like "As GOD is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"


Creative?  Manipulated by parents?  Or just bad, bad form?  Is there a difference between "black-facing" a generic "I'm a black person" and "black-facing" a specific character?  In other words, is there a difference between treating a race as a costume and dressing up as particular character or person?

I think maybe there is a difference, though it just occurred to me today, and I haven't had a lot of time to think about it.  Deep thoughts for so early.


Ooh!  Speaking of deep thoughts, I've been meaning to post this for a few days now:

Steer clear of the comments section--for all the big promises of improved comments and abuse control, fact is, Youtube comments are still a cesspool of stupid and hate.  Between the hateful threatening and the "don't comprehend satire" contingent, the comments are particularly bad.

Anyway, comments aside, this is brilliant.  What a brave guy--does a great Marley, too.  I've known a number of Arab men in my life (been married to one, in fact), and a few of those guys have been Saudi.  There was a disconnect in those Saudi men I've known--there had to be. Because, while going to college in the States, they had American girlfriends who drove their cars and drank their beer and lived with them in what could only be considered astoundingly "sinful" situations.  I say "disconnect" because these guys didn't stay in the U.S. and marry their girlfriends. They didn't go back to Saudi champions of change, tireless heroes pursuing freedom for their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.  No, they went back and drifted with the tide of Saudi normality without, it appeared, a second thought.

So this guy, this Hisham Fageeh, appears to have spent a lot of years here in the states.  And he appears to have gone back to Saudi with an idea or two in his head about what's needing a change.  He's a comedian/actor, but he's certainly gotten himself a crossover political satire hit on his hands with this one.  I don't know that I'd call him an "activist"--that's probably not his intent.  But I would call him a smart guy with a sharp eye for the ridiculous and the courage to poke fun at it.

I hope it doesn't land him in hot water.  He's a funny guy.


And now, to the other extreme--young folks with no readily apparent redeeming qualities whatsoever:

The above images?  A young woman by the name of Rachael Sacks.  A wealthy young woman whose sole contribution to this world appears to be self-aggrandizing snobbery.  Here's her dissertation on self-love and superiority:

Astounding.  It's the sense of entitlement borne of someone else's labors that really galls.  She comes across as a spoiled, shallow, low-on-talent creature who expects to be cared for by daddy while she uses her shocking snobbery as an "in" to a writing career she's clearly not talented enough to pursue.  Not yet, anyway--maybe a few more years in school will polish up that rocky presentation.

Or at least that's the impression she gives with her writing.  Perhaps it was all satire and we completely missed the joke.  Were she my child, she'd be figuring out how to finish school on her own dime waiting tables evenings and racking up the student loan debt from her crappy studio apartment.  Like real people do.  

Yeah, I said it.  Like "REAL" people.  Because she's not real--she's a caricature.  A joke.  A doll representing every crappy stereotype.  She gives the racists all the ammo they need, and she almost certainly doesn't grasp that.  I'm all for giving kids a good childhood and all the advantages possible, but clearly this girl's been given too much for too long.    


One last thing, hopping back to Halloween.  Some woman.  Some mean, awful, stupid, judgmental, jeering, fat-shaming woman in Fargo, North Dakota was threatening to hand out the following letters to kids she deemed overweight:

Okay, let's get this out of the way right off--this isn't about "helping" children who may (or may not) have weight problems.  Not even a little.  It's about a lot of things, which I'll go into, but it's not about sincerely wishing to be helpful.  What is it about?
  • Control:  by handing this out, this Halloween Hag holds, in her hand, control over the children who come to her door, their parents, and, quite literally, their holiday experience.
  • Self-image:  by passing judgment on (and putting down, let's face it) children she deems inferior, she can feel better about herself.  It's an time-honored tradition--wanna feel better about yourself?  View another group as inferior to yours, and act accordingly.
  • Meanness:  yes, just plain, old fashioned cruelty.  No explanation required.
  • Self-aggrandizing:  appointing herself the arbiter of who is and isn't acceptable, she increases her own perceived importance and authority.
  • Did I mention just plain meanness?
So this note is for the Wicked Witch of Fargo, North Dakota:


Ah, shoot--one more "one more last thing."  I started to post it on Facebook, but didn't feel like possibly offending someone whose friend had just committed this very offense, so I'll post it here:

You know, akin to "Vaguebooking" is the hyper-self-righteous "Snarkbooking," which is that sideways, judge-y, ultimately deniable way of dressing someone down for something without actually having the stones to do it honestly. You know, like I post "Hey, folks, I'm really desperate for a good poultry dish!" and someone responds with a Tofurkey recipe or starts squealing about "animal rights" and the cruelty that goes into a good roasted chicken (yes, honey, that one's for you)?  Or I post that I'm in desperate need of a good, yet affordable, new plasma TV and someone posts, "Why not get a library card instead?  Works for me, I haven't watched TV in 324 years!"  Yeah, I'm glad it works for you, Snotty McSnotface, but that's not what I asked for--if I'd been in the market for bean-curd-meat-mimicry, paperbacks, or whatever else, that's what I would have asked about.  I get how satisfying it can be to condescend and push lifestyle choices masked as helpfulness, but when I ask about a particular brand of spark plug for my car, don't post a link to the local shop peddling solar-powered Vespas.  Seriously.  Just save it--I promise, you don't sound anywhere near as cool as you think you do, and you're not being even a little bit helpful.  Thanks.

And that, my friends, is that.  I hope you had a wonderful Halloween!