Hell Bus

To the amusement of many Heavy Metal music fans the world over, I was lucky enough to catch this article about a mother in Tennessee complaining of hidden pentagrams in her child’s school bus brake lights. She went so far as to call the bus lights “Satanic.”

An article about the blasphemous bus’ back end with its clear-cut message of hellfire and damnation can be found here.  Another, more detailed, article is here.  Have fun with those.

When I look at the brake lights—and let me pause right here to say just how tickled I am that this is the topic of my blog article—I see stars. Nice, pretty, shiny stars. Sort of like the glow in the dark stars kids have on their bedroom ceilings or the kind we learned how to draw when we were kids. The bus’ lights look quite nice to me.

What does it say about the mom if all she’s seeing is Lucifer’s call? She scares me more than any of these crafty Satanists who are sneakily switching out light bulbs to spread their message of devil worship. Satanists don’t really frighten me at all, actually. When you think about it they lifted the pentagram from pagans and pagans are a pretty cool group of people. They always knew how to throw a good party.  So the whole pentagram-as-a-sign-of-the-devil is just a made up thing that holds no power anyway.

So what else will this uber-religious mom attack? If brake lights aren’t off-limits, where is the line for absurdity now? Guess what — school buses look a whole lot like Twinkies!  Seriously, they’re yellow and oblong like Twinkies. What if an anti-Twinkie mom looks at a bus and sees a rolling endorsement for diabetes and childhood obesity? To other people it looks like a long brick of cheese. What if someone else feels that having buses that resemble cheese is very insensitive to those who are lactose intolerant? Well, we can’t have that now can we?

Change the lights, change the color, change the shape! Change it all and if it won’t get changed we must call the local news and hold protests.  Ahhh, the South… what would we do without your heavy-handed political and religious righteousness mixed with bat shit craziness? Thanks for keeping the news interesting.

 

satanic_bus_lights_606

(photo credit: WPVI) — click photo for news article

 

An Epiphany

It might just be the day I’ve had, and I’ll admit, it was a doozy, but I’ve had an epiphany — I’ve decided to have the water connection on my fridge redirected to a keg of wine.  No more humdrum H2O for me. Oh no!  From now on, I’m going to have chilled Merlot or perhaps a Riesling pouring out of my refrigerator’s tap! I would’ve chosen Bailey’s (my favorite) but I figured that would gunk up the lines…and Vodka…well that would just mean I have issues.

 

Affair of the Snowflakes

Although not animal related, this entry could kinda sorta be considered a rant. Do you ever read an article or news story that, while having nothing whatsoever to do with you, annoys you to no end anyway? That’s what happened to me the other day. I just mentally couldn’t let it go. So. Lucky you.

This should sort of go without saying, but my point of view is that someone who’s married really has no way to justify an affair. That may sound like common sense to many of you, but it’s not quite so cut and dry to a lot of others out there. I read this article yesterday about one woman’s dainty traipse through infidelity and couldn’t help but think to myself: “Well, isn’t that just lovely.” That’s a nice way of putting it anyhow. Remember, my New Year’s resolution was to try to be a better person (rein in the road rage and the like) so I’m trying my best to censor my evil thoughts.

In reality, I’ve essentially picked apart most everything this woman spouts off about and have pretty much an opposite view of how this whole marriage, commitment, and faithfulness thing should work.

The one sentence in particular that got to me was when she wrote, “I think that there are times, such as when your marriage is essentially over, and you are just in limbo mentally and emotionally, when a relationship that begins with an affair can end in a happy relationship.” Maybe it can. She might be right. I just personally believe that there should never be any overlap and thus never any way of really proving if that is true or not.

Your vows aren’t just something you say while you wait for the reception to start – they’re something you’re supposed to take seriously. And if your feelings change for whatever reason, no matter who is to “blame,” then you cut ties first before you move on to the next partner. It’s having a little thing called integrity and respect.

In my opinion someone in a troubled marriage should 1) try to fix the marriage somehow be it counseling, time apart, whatever, before 2) officially (a.k.a. legally) separating or divorcing prior to courting new romantic partners. Never should the twain meet.

Another thing that got to me about this piece was the very sly mention of her ex-husband’s substance abuse. “We failed at marriage in just about every way possible, all leading up to me saying “enough is enough” when it came to his substance abuse and… in the end… my falling in love with another man.” I’m sure a few steps were skipped in those literary leaps, but it sounds to me like his addiction was apparently enough rationale for an affair yet not quite bad enough to pack up the kids (who shouldn’t be around drugs) and move to a safer place. So she did what she needed to do to console herself – falling into the arms of another man, but her kids’ needs were secondary? Right. I see how that works.

She brings up many times in the article the age-old dilemma of if you can trust someone when you know they’ve cheated before. Can you trust a cheater? Well, according to her, she and her new man are “different.” They’re the exception to the rule. They’re unique. They’re the ultimate snowflakes. All other cheaters, yeah, you might have to worry about them, but not this woman and her side piece. They’re the real deal. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode “The Deal” where Jerry starts sleeping with Elaine and he’s explaining to George that he and Elaine figured out the whole “friends with benefits” thing.

Jerry: Well, we’ve tried to arrange a situation where we’ll be able to do this once in a while and still remain friends.
George: (maniacal laughing)
Jerry: What?
George: Where are you living? Are you here?  Are you on this planet? It’s impossible. It can’t be done. Thousands of years people have been trying to have their cake and eat it too. So all of a sudden the two of you are going to come along and do it. Where do you get the ego?

So where does this woman get the ego to think she and “40” are the cheaters that have broken the mold? I’d bet dollars to donuts that most couples that began their relationship through infidelity thought to themselves or even went so far as to tell each other the exact same things. “I’ll never cheat again.” “This is the person I was meant to be with.” “I just needed to get that out of my system.”

There’s absolutely nothing unique about how she found herself in the middle of an affair, so why should the aftermath be anything above average either? Maybe they’ll make it, but I’d sure love to see the statistics on how many of these relationships have the partner cheating with someone else in the future and if so, how quickly.  And if they do make it, all I have to say is, they deserve each other. Is that harsh? Well, maybe my New Year’s resolution isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but there you go.

Frankly, I find it a little sad that she’s straining so hard to get people on her team. Why do I say this do you ask?  Well…today I found yet another article she wrote about the same affair – although this time she took a different tack in her subsequent explanations.  In this one, she speaks to her marriage “being over,” how she was the only working on it for too many years and how it drove her into an emotional (and then physical) affair…blah blah blah. Really, for two people who are sooo different, the reasons for their affair have simply been done to death.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging her for having the affair. She’s an adult and can do whatever the heck she wants.  I’m judging her for trying to rationalize it. To justify something that has such ramifications to others around you seems amazingly selfish to me. How did her affair affect her kids? Not to mention what is she teaching them?  How about her ex (we don’t get much back story on him)? An affair doesn’t just touch two people. It has a massive ripple effect that she seems completely oblivious about.

So my advice, readers, is to cheat if you want to. I’m not your mom. Live your life. I simply ask that you own it. Have the balls to step up and say, yeah I cheated because I just felt like being selfish and putting my needs above those of my family. At least be honest and above-board about it.  Oh wait

I wonder…

I’ve always thought that my self-appointed guardian, Rufus, followed me to the bathroom because he feared for my safety…perhaps he felt the shower monsters would prove too much for me or maybe the hamper trolls could easily overpower me. He’s definitely most solicitous in this regard — no matter where he is, or how comfy he might be, if he sees me headed to the bathroom, he gets himself up, and makes the trek right along with me.

But after seeing the below graphic, it occurred to me that maybe I’ve had it all wrong.

dog bathroom

What is it with Parents?

I had another run-in with a kid that wasn’t mine the other day. Spoiler alert: I almost lost my patience. Big shock, right? I don’t know what it is, but unruly kids are just a real, constant, and severe pet peeve of mine. It’s not so much the kid itself that annoys me; it’s the idea that there are parents that drop the ball on basic child rearing skills. I see it in these kids’ faces, their lack of guidance, and it annoys me to no end. I know not every kid can be given the best parents. Some are born into difficult circumstances. I get it. I’m not talking about that. I just mean, for the sake of this entry, basic etiquette. Little tiny manners that a kid should be taught from the get go. Yet, I was recently shown that, nope, this is not always the case.

I was at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant with my daughter trying to have a decent meal and we were doing a pretty good job at it. Good food? Check. Sparkling conversation? Check. Hospitable wait staff? Double check. Almost everything was in alignment for a perfectly satisfactory meal. The only kink was the group sitting next to us. There were four adults and, oh, roughly 300 kids screaming their heads off. Obviously there weren’t 300 kids there, but it sure sounded like it.

One of the kids, this little girl maybe three years old, was rocking so furiously in her chair she toppled right onto the floor. A concrete floor. It got to the point that I was seriously worried about her. A hard fall like that has “eventual head trauma” written all over it. But she kept on doing it. Or, more specifically, the adults didn’t do anything to stop it from happening. The girl fell off her chair, backwards no less, five or six times. It made for an interesting obstacle course for our server. I have to give her credit (the server, not the girl), she’s quick on her feet…able to leap around unexpected child-sized falling objects with a tray full of food with nary a hair out-of-place.

Without major injury, the child got bored with that little trick (thank god, cause my nerves couldn’t take it) and started to amuse herself by flinging her shoes off, sort of like how adults do after they walk through the front door after a long day and just can’t have those pumps on anymore. You just flick your ankle and send them across the floor a little in front of you. The girl was doing that, except being three years old, she has the coordination of a three-year old and the shoes were flying everywhere. And let me tell you, she got some good distance on those suckers. Again, the adults didn’t seem to notice, care, or think this was something that should be corrected. Shoes were landing on the table and in their food for cryin’ out loud!

Sarah and I ate our meal a bit tensely, waiting with bated breath, like a couple of nervous outfielders at a Little League game anxious for that moment when we might be called upon to catch a pop-up as it made its way to our section of the field. We didn’t want to be caught sleeping on the job and have a shoe end up in our grits.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. The real winner was when the five-year old of the dinner party came up to our table as the family was leaving. She stood at our table and stared. And stared. And stared. We thought at first she was checking out the pictures on the wall around us, but after a solid five minutes we realized, no, she’s staring at us. Standing stock still, she was unapologetically boring into our souls with her creepy little eyes. She was starting to freak me out, like one of The Shining twins, and I had no idea what to do.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe this was something she couldn’t help doing. But I had just watched her at her table for well over an hour with three other kids and was pretty confident she was nothing but a nosy inquisitive little girl who didn’t know how impolite it is to stare. (If I’m wrong, then this is just one more reason I’m going to burn in hell.)

So right about the time Sarah and I had decided to speak up, the mother apparently realized that this young member of their delightful group was missing (they were almost completely out of the dining area by this point) — but I guess thinking it wasn’t important enough to actually come back, she simply yelled across the room full of dinner patrons for the child to get herself over there. The girl grinned and took off.  And well, there you have it. Dinner and a show a la Cracker Barrel.

So what do you do in a situation like that? Fight fire with fire and stick out your tongue? That could give the wrong message that you’re in on the joke and don’t mind the unsolicited company. It could also garner you some dirty looks from other adults. Do you invite the kid into your booth and adopt her until the parents realize they’re one short? I can’t see the parents appreciating that one. Unless it goes the other way, and you wind up with another mouth to feed. Or maybe take the curmudgeonly route and say “Can I help you?” or some such thing and hope they go away? While probably satisfying…again, not so popular with the parents. Sometimes it would be nice if you could just call in the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me, we’ve all been there.

While I realize that when you’re in public, you have to deal with a lot of annoyances (trust me, I know), there should be certain things that are just a given. For instance, when you’re out to dinner, you should never, ever find yourself in the position of having to quickly sum up ideas on how to deal with an unnerving, staring child. Or catch flying shoes.

In Case Anyone Cares (Or, Divorce Worth — Continued)

On Friday I wrote about Ms. Sue Arnall who rejected the lump sum payment of almost $975 million her ex, Harold Hamm,  attempted to pay as per their divorce settlement.  Ms. Arnall felt that by accepting the money, it would hurt her appeal — you see she had planned on going after more money.

Well, according to Mr. Hamm’s lawyers (article here), Ms. Arnall decided to cash the check after all.  If true, perhaps she decided that $975 million wasn’t worth gambling away — because you just never know what a judge may or may not decide in court. I guess she figured it was better to squirrel that money away while she had it in hand.

Ms. Arnall maintains her argument that the settlement has been “grossly undervalued,” and who knows, maybe she’s right. Mr. Hamm certainly does seem to be holding onto his money with a death grip, that’s for sure.

I don’t quite know why I’m obsessing over this stupid gossipy society story (you can’t really call this news) other than the fact that I’m just fascinated with the figures involved and the idea that someone would so blithely reject a court settlement of such magnitude (or at least consider doing so).

The antics of the rich and famous will never cease to amaze me.  And not in a good way like seeing the Grand Canyon or the taste of a really good peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Divorce Worth

This entry is going to contain numbers that most—if not all—of you won’t be able to wrap your head around. At least I sincerely hope I’m not alone.  Because I know I haven’t even come close to understanding how astronomically high these values are myself, so I certainly don’t blame you if at the end of this you need a few moments to let the facts of this true story sink in.

Sometimes I think that the deals professional athletes get are ludicrously high. Four years for $65 million. Ten years for $101 million. Give me a hundredth of that ($1 million) and I’d flip out from sheer happiness. A cool million would set me up to a life of glamour I’ve only fantasized about. I used to look at these athletes and ponder what they could possible need (or do) with tens of millions of dollars.

And then I ran across Ms. Sue Ann Arnall and she put all those pitifully low numbers to shame.

I guess if you’re rich it still doesn’t stop you from wanting to be more rich, right? Hell, I am very lucky I have what I have in the world. I’m sure there are scores of impoverished people in the world who would look at me, my wardrobe, my house, my car and think that it isn’t possible for me to want anything more from the world. To them, I am “rich,” but if someone were to ask me if I wanted a $100 bill you’re damn sure I would take it. I have no doubt I could find a way to use it.

Ms. Arnall is the same way, except the scale on which she views money is astounding. If how much money we each have puts us on a particular floor of a skyscraper I’d be in sub-basement C and she’d be in Penthouse 12.

Here’s an article for reference and yet another one here for those of you who really want to shake your heads at the trials and tribulations of the ungodly rich.

So this woman received a hard copy, fresh check of $975 million and turned it down because she wants more. This after already receiving $20 million during the divorce proceedings. Think about that last part because it’s treated as such a throwaway figure around the other big numbers. She already received $20 million! That right there is a king’s ransom! Imagine being given $20 million. I’d be set for life. My kids would be set for life. Their kids. And so on and so forth for who knows how many generations given the right personal wealth management team.

Yet in this saga $20 million is only around two percent of the total she turned her nose up at! I mean, c’mon! What the hell does she want to buy that $975 million won’t get? Does she want to purchase Australia? Does she want to build an actual, functioning Jurassic Park? Does she want to build an army of Batmen to invade North Korea? Where are you in life when you look at ONE BILLION DOLLARS and go, “Really? That’s it?”

I get the flip side. It’s not so much about her wanting more money (one can only hope anyway), it’s about getting what she thinks she deserves (which just so happens to be more money). That’s when the dollar signs fall away and we’re left with the realization that this is a matter of pride, of possessing everything that our blood, sweat, and tears created. If I were getting divorced and the settlement was for $0.95 and I knew I was supposed to get $1.16 you better believe I’d put up a fight for that twenty-one cents. Why? Because that’s MY twenty-one cents.

It’s just that in this story we’re dealing with words like “multi-million” and “billion” and it’s just hard to fathom a difference or rationalizing a demand for more. There’s a clear difference between $0.95 and $1.16. One gets you a regular size Snickers, the other gets you the king size (priorities, people). But what can’t $975 million get you? And that’s in addition to the California Ranch worth $17 million and an Oklahoma City home (who knows how much that’s worth) that she was already awarded. Oh, and let’s not forget the aforementioned $20 million! Honestly, how much more can this woman possibly need?