Sheep in the Air

What does a dead puppy say about sheep?

We’ve all heard the news by now. A puppy was forced into an overhead bin on a United Airlines flight, and it died.

The universe rightly went into a meltdown, although it was interesting watching the different reasons for it.

Half the people put all the blame on the flight attendant, who was adamant the woman put her dog in the overhead locker. Then there was a bunch of people who also held the owner to blame, asking why she didn’t stand her ground. Then there was all the people who hate dogs, and wondered why it was on a flight to begin with.

Now, it’s early days, and I’m sure there’s more to the original story. There’s always a couple different spins, but given that United has actually taken blame for it, I’m guessing the FA was at fault here.

Here’s the thing about the US. They are very dog friendly. Much more so than Australia. A dog isn’t something bought for the kids, and left in the backyard. It’s a member of the pack. People treat them like family, because, they are. If you’re not willing to treat your dog like a child, then I suggest you don’t get one. Your dog depends on you. It loves you. It basically lives for you, just like your human children do. You need to feed it, groom it, provide it with shelter, and just like a human child, teach it manners. You might have a lot of people in your life, but your dog basically just has you. So treat it with the respect it deserves.

In the US, many hotels are pet friendly, there are restaurants that have special doggie menus, and generally, it’s just way more dog inclusive, especially in the more affluent areas.

There’s pampered pets, then you’ve got dogs with jobs.

A lot of people don’t understand the difference between Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Emotional Support Animals.

Basically, it’s about what it does, and what rights you have with it.

A service dog performs a service. Most people immediately recognise a seeing eye dog, but many people don’t know that there’s literally donzens of different types of service dogs, and not all people’s disabilites are visible. There are dogs for people with epilepsy. The dogs can sense before a seizure, and alert the owner, giving them time to find a better spot, or seek assistance. There are dogs for diabetics, who can sniff when their owners blood sugar is low. There are hearing dogs, for people who are both completely deaf, or like me, partially deaf. The dog will alert their owner of sounds, and can lead them to it. Whether it’s the timer on the stove, or a fire alarm. There are dogs that help service members with PTSD. The dog can see when their owner is getting agitated, and redirects them. They can also wake them from nightmares. There are so many more examples, it’d need a post just for that…

Except for the blind person, none of these other people have visible disabilites, yet they all use service dogs. You can’t tell by them walking down the street if they have a service dog, or are just a person walking their pet, and a lot of people with disabilites like it that way.

Just like all disabilites are different, so are the animals. People always think of golden retrievers or german shepards, but it’s not a requirement. In England one of the biggest hearing dogs training facilites uses poodles. A seizure or diabetic dog can be any breed, as long as it’s well trained. “Small yappy dogs” can actually make exceptional service animals.

Then there are therapy dogs. You might have seen one at a nursing home, or at a trauma center. They even have them at some airports now. These dogs are basically like furry therapists. It’s been shown that petting an animal can lower a persons blood pressure, and relieve stress. So these guys are out there to help people feel good. They work with lots of different people, and have to have a very loving temperament, and be good at meeting lots of new people.

Then there’s an emotional support animal. This is an animal that is basically a pet, but provides their owner with comfort. It’s like a personal shrink.

Now, in the US, a service dog has legally protected status. Well, technically the owner is protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) They can take their service animal with them anywhere they go, including restaurants, supermarkets and airplanes. They can live in places with no animal policies, and they can fly for free with their owners.

There is no requirement for the animal to have been trained in a special facility, although many are. It’s very expensive though, and many people successfully train their own service anials to their specific needs. So many people have been faking service animals though, that the FAA has made it so you now have to show some sort of training to fly with your dog. It can fly at your feet or on your lap and doesn’t need to be in a carrier.

A therapy dog has obedience training, and has to pass veterinary tests before it can be used in a public setting. They don’t have any rights on aircraft.

An ESA is a pet. It has no rights, except for when people get a letter from a psychiatrist or therapist stating they need their dog with them when they fly. It dog doesn’t need to stay in a carrier, since you theoretically need the dog where you can access it while flying. They get to fly for free, but you do have to contact the airline at least 48 hrs in advance to let them know you have an ESA, and provide a copy of the letter.

Then there are pets. Depending on the airline, most dogs under 20 lbs (about 9kg) can fly with you in the cabin, in an approved carrier, for a fee. Most airlines charge between $100 – $200 for a pet fee, each way. They also count as one of your carry on bags. It has to fit in under the seat in front of you, and you cannot take the dog out of the bag at any time during the flight.

It’s expensive, and the reason so many people are faking service and therapy dogs is probably because it is so expensive. If airlines made it cheaper, people would probably pay to fly their dog. There’s also a limit on how many dogs can be on each flight. Most airlines max out at 5. They also know in advance when a dog is on a flight, so people who do have allergies can request an animal free flight.

Now, people complain about dogs on flights, but honestly, I’ve never had a problem with a pet on a flight. It’s inside a bag, so it’s not spreading dander everywhere. It’s not running around and slobbering on anyone, and it’s definately not biting anyone. I can’t same the same thing for some children.

Genuine service animals are a delight. They are so well behaved, unless you saw it, you probably wouldn’t know it was on a flight with you. They are always well groomed, never beg for treats, go up to strangers, or annoy anyone. If you see a service animal, please don’t go up and try to pet it. It’s working. Leave it be to focus on it’s owner, no matter how adorable it is.

The ESAs are usually the problem. Not all, but some. Most people have well trained dogs, keep them groomed, and keep them contained in their lap. Other people though have dogs that really should be kept in a carrier, but there’s a lot of selfish entitled people out there, and they don’t really care if their dog bothers anyone.

Larger dogs can be put in the cargo hold, but only certain breeds of dogs. Snub nose dogs like pugs, boston terriers, etc cannot fly in the hold. It’s also weather dependant. It can get very hot  or very cold, and most carriers won’t take dogs in the hold in the middle of summer or winter. It’s not safe.  Dogs don’t have an inner ear like humans, so unlike us, they don’t need to pop their ears in flight. So while that baby is crying (understandably) the dog is just fine.

Dogs are so frequent now that many airports are putting in designated Pet Relief Areas so that you can take them potty between flights, without having to go outside security.

Which all brings me back to the puppy on United.

A lot of people are complaining about dogs on planes, and especially about service/ESA dogs. Apart from the fact that ESA dogs are giving service dogs a bad name, and making it difficult for people with service dogs, there’s actually no reason to bring that up with this particular dog. There is no indication that it was passed off as a service or ESA dog. It was brought on as a pet, inside an approved carrier. The dog wasn’t bothering anyone, except apparently the flight attendant, who may have been tired of fake service animals or ESAs. Or they just didn’t like dogs. Or were on a power trip. We don’t know.

But given this woman PAID to take her dog on board, inside an approved carrier, shows that she was genuinly trying to do the right thing. She spent money to do the right thing. She had a child and a small baby with her as well as the puppy. She was probably already overwhelmed traveling with a kid and an infant, without some FA fighting with her over a dog.

Which brings me to the sheep.

Other people on this flight watched this happen. They saw a woman with a child, a baby, and a dog. They saw the FA fighting with her. They watched the mother stand up for her pet, before finally relenting. She probably didn’t want to get dragged off the flight. United doesn’t have a good track record with people or animals, and she was probably scared.

But what about the other passengers? Are we all so passive now that nobody thought about standing up to the FA? Did anyone else think to speak back to them and just watched as the dog was put in an airless bin? Did nobody else think about what they would do if it was their own dog? People said they heard the dog barking, and then it stopped. Why didn’t anyone help her get the dog back down again once they took off?

People are sheep. They are so scared of the wolf, they won’t step out on their own. But if we stand as a pack, if multiple people stand up, they can’t hurt us all. Even if one or two other people had stepped up and said something, this situation could have been prevented. Someone could have called for the captain. They have the ultimate say on a flight, and I’m guessing they wouldn’t have been ok with a dog being shoved up above.

If we won’t stand up for a dog, who else won’t we stand up for? I’m tired of people standing by and watching bad things happen, and not having the balls to step up and say something. Yes, sometimes it comes with risk, but what happens when you’re the one who needs someone to stand up and help you? Do you accept that people won’t, or do you hope someone else will take a chance on doing the right thing?

If you see a scared young girl on a flight, do you check up on her, and make sure she’s ok, or do you just think, “it’s none of my business” and keep going. How do you reconcile that later when you find out she was a human trafficking victim? Or that she was a minor flying alone, and the guy sitting next to her was touching her inappropriately?

It costs you nothing to be a good person. It free to give someone a smile. It takes a minute to give someone a comforting word, and ask if they need help. Be the hero in someone’s story. Don’t be the one to post a picture on Instagram crying saying you did nothing.

Maya in her TSA carrier. She loved traveling with us.
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The Academy doesn’t care about kids

The pinnacle of awards season, the Oscars, was last night.

I didn’t watch. I had no desire to watch a bunch of people who live in gated communities, wearing gifted gowns and jewellery, get up on stage and pat each other on the back between political speeches.

The Oscars have descended into the most boring political event on television. I was especially wary this year about the hypocrisy of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement. If I had to watch Meryl give a speech about standing up for women in the industry after seeing her give a standing ovation to Roman Polanski just a few years before she called Weinstein God, I may have punched the television.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no beef with #MeToo or #TimesUp. I think both are long overdue. I’m glad we’re standing up. But, at the same time, why are we giving such loud voices to those who weren’t really with us before, and we’re totally ignoring those who were actually screaming for help and equality before it became the cause du jour?

The Coogan Law, which protects the money children earn while working in entertainment, is only enacted in four US states. California, New York, Louisiana and New Mexico. Meanwhile, Georgia has become the new hub of the movie industry. No child labor laws or money worries there. And don’t get me started on reality TV….

Minors employed as actors or performers in motion pictures or theatrical productions, or in radio or television productions are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) coverage. Therefore, FLSA rules regarding total allowable number of work hours in one day and allowable times of day to work do not apply. Basically, this means that while you can’t have your kids work in your restaurant, on the farm, or thankfully send your kids to work in a sweatshop, you can have them working at 2am, in the freezing cold, on a movie set.

So basically, you can work the hell out of kids on set, and they’re not even guaranteed to keep any of that money they’re working so hard for.

While Paul Petersen and Alison Arngrim have been fighting in the trenches, going to Washington DC, campaigning for safer environments for kids, where were all these A List stars? There are minors working on so many films. Where were their co-stars when kids were being abused? I don’t see any of them trying to help enact laws, trying to make change. They’re calling for safer places for adult women, but they still don’t seem to worry too much about the small kids working with them on set. The little people who actually need help and protection from other people. They haven’t learnt to speak up for themselves yet. Or worse, because they’re kids, they’re told to be seen and not heard.

Then, last night, the Oscars confirmed they don’t give a shit about kids.

I woke up to all my friends on FB talking about the “In Memoriam” section. It’s always controversial, and people are always left out. But there was two that were particularly glaring.

Heather Menzies, who played Louisa Von Trapp in the Sound of Music was snubbed. This makes her the second of the Von Trapp kids forgotten by the academy.

Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe the academy felt she wasn’t in enough films to warrant a mention. Maybe they felt she was better known as a TV actress, since she went on to a lot of television. Still, Sound of Music is a pretty timeless classic, so one would expect a star of that film to get a moment.

But then there’s Rose Marie.

 

Rose Marie started her career in 1929, the year the Oscars started. She was at the first one, with her first film. She has been working ever since. That’s right, she had been a working actress for 90 years. She was so famous, she doesn’t even need a last name.

In 1951, she had her musical numbers cut from the film Top Banana, after she refused a producers sexual advances. She later said it was thankfully the only time she had experienced sexual harassment in her nine decades in the industry. She was however active on Twitter, offering support to other women who had experienced harassment.

But after 90 years of singing, acting and dancing, you’d think you’d at least get a mention in the “In Memoriam” right? Well, maybe someone forgot her? Maybe the people choosing the names were too young to know her. Um, no. Her former publicist submitted her name three times to the Academy to make sure she wasn’t forgotten.

So was it a mistake? Was it a snub? Was it because she had publicly outed a producer all those years ago? Or was it because she started out as “Baby Rose Marie” and people who start as kids never seem to get remembered. – They also forgot to include Corey Haim back when he passed.

Here’s the thing, if you want kids in your movie, then you’ve got to give them the same courtesies you give adults.

Fair pay, a safe workplace, and some respect. If you can’t give them that while they’re working, at least light a candle for them when they go.

If you’re wondering if there’s anything you can do to help kids on set, look into charities like A Minor Consideration. Paul Petersen started AMC with the intent to change laws, and help those ones who have already been through it all.

 

 

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Who do you believe in?

All the deities are bullshit.

I just don’t understand people killing in the name of some magical sky fairy that no one alive has ever actually seen. All this “my god is the only true god” makes no sense.

They used to slaughter people to appease Xolotl. Not anymore.
They used to slaughter people to appease Xolotl. Not anymore.

How do you know your God even exists, let alone is the “one true God’? There have been over 2000 different “gods” throughout history. Do you think yours is the only real one because your parents told you he is? The same parents who told you about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? Why is it as we grow up being lied to by our parents about these mythical beings in order to keep up well behaved, it’s ok to find out they’re not real, but we keep up the facade about deities? They are also made up to keep people in line. But we have laws and courts now. We don’t need organised religion to rule the masses.

What we really don’t need, is people thinking their special invisible friend is the one and only special invisible friend, and going around trying to slaughter other people who choose to believe is a slightly different invisible friend.

People used to believe in Zues. Apparently he fell out of favour for some newer trendier Gods.
People used to believe in Zeus. Apparently he fell out of favour for some newer trendier Gods.

If the whole point of religion is to teach people peace, and love, and compassion, then you’re all failing miserably at it. Whether you’re a christian, muslim or believe in Zeus. (To be fair, I can’t remember the last time someone who believed in Zeus killed someone for them, or refused to bake someone a cake, or picketed a funeral)

I get that some people find comfort in religion. Some people need that belief that there’s something bigger and more powerful than them. They need someone to blame when shit goes wrong, and someone to thank when things go right.

I choose to believe in myself. I know I have power within me, and I don’t need to believe in something that I can’t see, hear, taste or feel to give me the strength to carry on.

I don’t need to donate money to a church thinking I’m helping feed the less fortunate, when in reality they’re simply going to build a bigger church, or buy the pastor a new plane or to pay off some sexual assault victims. Actually, I’m ok with the church giving compensation to victims, I’m not OK with them needing to do it in the first place. The church has been protecting their own for too long, using the name of some “magic deity” to rape and torture kids. Not that that’s new either. They used to go into whole countries and kill people off if they didn’t convert. (Which appears to be happening again)

Osiris, another God people no longer believe in.
Osiris, another God people no longer believe in.

Basically, if you need an invisible friend, then have at it. Cherish them. Love them. Whatever. But keep it to yourself. Don’t try to convert others. Don’t try to tell others that your god is better than their god, and for fucks sake, don’t go around killing people in the name of your god.

 

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SUP! Stand Up Paddleboarding.

I tried Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Before we moved to Florida, I had a whole list of things I was going to do. One of them was Stand Up Paddleboarding. I had seen people doing SUP on manatee tours, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

I’m pretty lazy though, and I never really got around to it.

Until today.

We moved onto our boat about three months ago, and it was still pretty chilly. But the last few weeks have been glorious. It’s sometimes nice and calm in the morning, but then it gets choppy in the afternoon. This morning though was just perfect. It was warm, the water was still, and you could actually see the bottom today. Our little cove is normally cloudy with silt.

We’ve made friends with the guys who have a little boat rental stand at the end of the marina. We were all in the hot tub the other night, and one of them was trying to convince me I can get in the water and clean my own boat bottom. I’m not totally convinced yet, but I’ll get there eventually.

This morning, I looked out, and thought, perfect day to try paddleboarding. As I walked up the pier, they boat rental guy was fishing. I asked if he caught anything, and he said no. Then he asked me if I had tried Stand Up Paddleboarding yet. It was like I had put my thought out into the world, and someone answered it.

So 10 minutes later, he’s showing me how to get on the board and paddle. I got right on, and I guess all those gymnastics lessons as a kid paid off, ’cause my balance was good, and I didn’t fall. I paddled all over our marina, and even managed to crouch down on my knees and stand back up again a couple times to go under the docks. They even gave me a bottle of water which I sat on the board and it never fell off. Granted, it was super calm, and I only got the waves from one boat, but I was pretty impressed with myself!

If you’re in Stuart or Jupiter, and want to try Paddleboarding, Kayaking or Jetskiing, go to Beach Water Sports. Super cool peeps.

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We got a boat!

Life on the Water

As some of you know, Matt and I have spent the last couple of years in an RV. (A caravan for the Aussie’s) We’ve had them for years. We had a Class C when Matt was travelling full time. We sold that, and then when I took a post on the Texas border with the guard, I got myself a cute airstream. When Matt joined me, we got a toy hauler, which we then traded in for a 5th wheel. We then moved to Florida, and spent a year in the RV. Then one day, I looked at Matt, and asked how he would feel about living on a boat.

I figured I’d have to talk about boats for a couple years before he warmed to it, but all he said was “sounds expensive, show me it’s doable” so I showed him numbers, and it turned out a boat slip in Florida was pretty comparable to an RV slip. So we started looking.

After a few months, we found our girl. So we went from this to this.

The 5th wheel and my veggie garden.
The 5th wheel and my veggie garden.
No gard
No garden, but lots of fish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been aboard about 3 months now, and it’s awesome! There’s this constant gentle rocking, that can put you to sleep in you’re not careful. There’s always a beautiful view. We get new neighbors all the time. There’s dolphins swimming around the marina every couple of days. It truly is the best move we’ve made.

I made a little video tour so you can all see the inside. Hope you enjoy it.

She’s a 2007 Meridian 411, with twin cummings diesel engines. She’s 41 ft long, (46 LOA) 14’2″ ft wide, and has a 3’9″ draft. Two staterooms, one full bath, one wet bath.

We haven’t had the name put on the back yet, but it’s “No Kids”. That’s not only why we can afford her, but it’s also the rule….

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Vale Erin Moran

The indignity of dying away from the spotlight.

Erin Moran

This week, the world lost Erin Moran. Erin was best known as Joanie from Happy Days, and then Joanie Loves Chachi.

A lot of my friends simply knew her as Erin, a fellow former child star, and good friend.

I never got to meet Erin personally, as like me, she didn’t live in LA. She had stepped away from the spotlight, and moved to Indiana. She did keep in touch with all of her friends in LA though. Many of them knew she had cancer, as Erin had told them, but asked them not to share it with the world.

Erin, like many of us, went through some rough patches. ALL of us have had shitty moments, or bad times. The difference when you’re famous is, is that the whole world knows about it. There’s something about being a child star that the tabloids are just drawn to when it comes to having a bad moment. I think some editors find it orgasmic to show a Disney star looking drunk, or being sloppy. They expect us to have drug problems, DUI’s and bad relationships. If you’re one of the many child stars who move on and go about life quietly, there’s almost a sheer disdain for how boring you are. Places like TMZ would have you believe that every child actor is a train wreck, but in reality, there are hundreds that end up just fine. You just don’t hear about them. But if you’re a kid star that fucks up even once, the public is going to hear about it forever. That one night that most people can hide and move on from will come back and haunt you constantly. People will bring it up over and over. In Erin’s case, even when she died.

Erin died of cancer. She knew she had it. Her friends knew she had it. The public didn’t though, and neither did the tabloids. So when she died, the media immediately brought up her past, and speculated that she died broke and penniless and from a drug overdose. These days, it’s not about getting the story right, it’s about being first. Fuck the memory of the person you’re covering, and screw the feelings of her friends and family.

Its tragic that as a child star, you can’t even die with dignity.

Its sad for Erin. It’s also a sobering moment for all the other child actors out there. Watching the speculation over Erin, I imagine every other child actor having that moment of “when I die, will they bring up every bad moment of my past?”

Child actors are people too. We have feelings. We have souls. We have good days and bad days, just like regular people. (Cause we ARE people, we just had jobs as kids)

Just because someone no longer works in Hollywood doesn’t mean they can’t work anymore. Many actually choose to leave, and they also choose not to share every moment of their lives with the world. We should respect that. We should also respect that when someone dies, we say nice things about them, like we do all the other people you know, and not assume they bottomed out and died disgracefully.

Erin Moran and Scott Baio

Don’t be like Scott Baio and put your foot in your mouth when a former co-worker dies. Even if they DID once have a problem, you can still be polite. It’s hard when someone sticks a microphone in your face before you know the facts, but maybe take a deep breath, say something kind, and sit back and wait for the truth. You don’t need to be the asshole.

It’s only April, and I’m sure there will be more celebrity deaths this year. Maybe we can all honor Erin’s memory by learning from the coverage of her death, and be a little nicer to the next person who goes.

RIP Erin. May all your future days be happy.

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Pedophilia and Politics

Politics of Pedophilia

Normally when one talks about politics and pedophilia, we think of politicians and the allegations of them engaging in pedophilia. Most recently with a girl accusing Trump of molesting her, and of the multiple trips that the Clintons took to “pedophile island” with Jeffrey Epstein, or of Pizzagate, or of the accounts of Fiona Barnett and the pedophile ring involving many Australian politicians, or the sheer amount of people knighted by the Queen who are later tainted with the accusations of partaking in sex with minors.

There are all kinds of conspiracy theories about people climbing the ranks being brought into a situation that involved sex with kids, in order that later on it can be used against them, there’s also theories that birds of a feather flock together, or that people congregate to places where they have access to kids and won’t be questioned. Either way, that’s not the focus of my rant today.

Instead, I want to talk about how politics is being used on the victims this week.

Milo Yiannopoulos
Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos is obviously a very polarizing figure. People either love him or hate him, and many do it without ever having actually heard the man speak. As with most things, the media has an opinion on him, and tells the public what to think, and the sheeple go along with it, without ever researching him to discover whether the guy is taking sense, or is as they say, a complete asshole. I don’t really care what you think of him, as long as your opinion is based on having actually listened to the man, and not just what you’ve been told.

Milo is brash, and not PC at all, and he’s clearly a threat to the establishment. People love to hate him. Many of the elite fear him, because while saying things people may not like, he is very articulate, he’s polite, he lets people ask questions, and he can actually respond without yelling or calling people names. Well, he does sometimes call people things, but not the same way that trolls on the internet do.

This week, he’s had video from a late night interview he did over a year ago resurface. In it, he was talking about his first sexual encounter with a priest. He was about 14 at the time, and he said in the video that he wasn’t going to name the priest involved. The left has now trotted out the video to claim that Milo was all for lowering the age of consent, that he is protecting pedophiles, that because he witnesses inappropriate things happen in Hollywood, that perhaps he partakes in these events.

After people were upset that Milo was targeted by the left, and being used as a pawn to get to Trump, the other side has now gone George Takeiafter poster boy for the left, George Takei. George, who is also openly gay, and loves to hate on all things Trump, also has done interviews discussing how he was given a hand job at the age of 14 at summer camp. These are now resurfacing, in a tit for tat game by the people who think that bringing up people’s sexual past is ok when it comes to politics.

What BOTH sides fail to recognise is that underage sexual encounters are much more complex than simply having a sexual encounter, and at some point discussing it on radio/television. People also don’t understand the nature of media interviews, and how things can come out wrong, or people trying to put on a brave face, or even the fact that many victims of childhood sexual abuse may be in denial of the fact that they were molested, and laugh and joke around about their experience as a coping mechanism. A lot of people who have a sexual experience in their early teens don’t understand the adult implications of sexual contact with an adult. There’s a reason there’s an age of consent. Teens are learning about their own sexuality, they’re developing feelings, they’re becoming curious. They may want to explore those feelings, and yes, they may initiate sexual activity with an adult. It’s the adults job however to recognize what is going on, and say NO. A lot of adults don’t, and they take advantage of that sexual naivete, and while some people may be fine with the experience, others may regret it. Some may be confused, but don’t want to acknowledge what happened, or may turn the encounter around in their minds to make it seem like they were in control the whole time. There’s a myriad of coping mechanisms, and more importantly, there’s no right or wrong way. We are all different, and we all cope differently. Which means we all have no right to judge how someone else deals with a situation. People like to proclaim that they’d act a certain way in a given situation, but when tested, act completely differently. We have no right to judge how Milo, or George, or any other victim of childhood sexual predation deals with it. It’s downright disgusting that we’re now using these people to further a political agenda. Milo was forced to resign from Breitbart, and it’s too early to tell if there will be fallout for George.

I don’t want to hear any comments about how either of them won’t name names, because in the US there’s a statute of limitations. Without proof, the victim can end up being the one who goes to jail for defamation or slander. Either one might say something quietly to the police, without announcing it loudly for a lynch mob to dispense vigilante style justice. I also don’t want to hear about how they were joking around about their experiences. Both were discussing them on very long interviews, (Milo’s was a 3 hr interview FFS) and the point of both interviewers is to get stuff out of people that hasn’t been heard before. Laughing is a common thing when you’re nervous. My husband keeps telling me not to giggle when I talk about Robert. I still do it. I try to laugh the whole thing off, because that’s how I handle stress.

At this point I’ve lost respect for both sides of the political spectrum. I expect politicians to play dirty, but I expect the public to play nice. Everyone needs to just sit back, let the people who are paid to do their jobs get along with what they’re doing, and it’s our job to be nice to each other. We need to stop attacking each other, and seeing who can set the bar even lower by attacking each other openly and with such hostility.

Stop the he said, she said bullshit. Stop airing dirty laundry. Stop trying to stop the system. Let the politicians do their thing, and let’s focus on being good human beings. None of us are going to win a prize for tearing each other apart.

 

 

 

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Fake News

fake newsThere’s a fake news epidemic.

When I was young, journalists were expected to present the facts. If you turned on the news, you could expect that a reporter was going to tell you what was happening, and unless you were watching a talk show here somebody was expected to have an opinion, or reading an actual opinion piece in the paper, the news was supposed to be neutral. They presented facts, and you got to make up your own mind if and how to interpret that news. I’m talking about growing up in Australia. Many other countries were having their media manipulated, like in the 1950’s in the US with Operation Mockingbird. Propaganda presented as news. I think they were much more subtle about it back then, and people weren’t blasted by news 24/7 like they are now. Today, it’s reached ridiculously epidemic proportions, and either people don’t realize it’s happening, or they just don’t care.

I’m not sure how it started. It could be when we moved to 24/7 news, and people have to keep having things to cover. Does this mean that we’re now covering every little ridiculous thing that in the past wouldn’t even be thought of as news? I mean, I now see entire articles about one person’s tweet. Journalists trying to rile up other people by pointing out one twitter user saying something. I wonder how long they spend searching for just the right tweet to write about.

Could it be that we’re in this era of celebrity, where people don’t care about actual important events, as long as they know that Beyonce is having twins, or who got nominated for what award? Tabloids and trashy women’s magazines have been notorious for years for printing crap about a celebrity, stating “a source” told them, with the source either being said celebrity’s publicist, or someone else in the magazine’s office making it up. Have we gotten so used to TMZ and E! news that now we don’t hold our news reporters to a higher standard?

Or is there something more sinister at play? Are we being purposely manipulated in order to create change? Are people like George Soros paying off the media in order to create unrest in order to further their own personal gains? He has been shown to meddle in the media in both Europe and the US during elections in order to try to sway the public to vote for his prefered candidate. People are also saying that he’s paying for some of the more violent protests happening in the US right now.

I’m watching all the division and fighting happening right now in the US, and frankly, it’s stupid. It’s not helping anyone. Well, it’s helping someone, but it isn’t the general public. People protesting in the streets, setting things on fire, even the small scale fights on Facebook aren’t helping any of us. We are being manipulated. Someone higher up is trying their best the divide us. Our job is to take a deep breath and not let ourselves be sucked in by it.

It doesn’t matter which side you stand on politically, religiously or socially. Whether you’re conservative or a liberal, whether you’re LBGTQ or married to the opposite sex, pro-choice or pro-life, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist or any other religious conviction. We’re ALL people. We all have needs and wants and desires. We all want to be happy. If we all talk to each other, we’d probably find that we all have similar wants and desires, at least the basic stuff.

I guess I’m an atheist libertarian, but I wasn’t raised that way. I think the church is an oppressive oligarchy used to suppress the masses, but I also think that a lot of people find great joy and happiness in believing in their chose deity, and therefore, respect their right to worship. As long as people aren’t telling me who and what to believe in, I don’t feel the need to tell them not to believe in anything.

Just like I’m married to a man, but I’ve been known to kiss a girl or two. Some of my friends are gay, some are straight, and some like a bit of everything. As long as everyone is a consenting adult, I don’t give a shit what they do in the bedroom. It’s none of my business. (Unless they’re personally inviting me to be in there) My friends Sean and Thomas getting married should be no bigger a deal to me that if Kacey and Shawn get married. It has no effect on my personal life or my own marriage whatsoever.

People need to stop worrying so much about what other people are doing, and start taking care of their own shit more. Stop believing everything that the big news outlets are telling you. If you’re interesting in something, do some research on it. Read more that one website. Read three or four. Read things that you would initially dismiss. It’s good for you to learn new things, and read opposing opinions. Instead of dismissing someone as being a racist/xenophobic/islamophobic/liberal etc, have a calm discussion. Ask them WHY they have their opinions. Ask them to explain it to you. If they say something you don’t like, instead of shutting them down, ask them to tell you more. Not just so you learn, but so they do. If they can’t explain it to you, it means they’re probably also simply parroting what they heard on the news, or from their friends, or parents. Discussion forces both parties to think, and maybe learn, and change. Screaming at each other like children doesn’t help anything. I have never changed my view on something because someone called me a name. I’m betting you haven’t either.

Instead of complaining about a situation, sit down and ask yourself how you can fix it. If you don’t like the current leader, what’s an adult way to change it? Is it waiting till the next election and voting them out? Is it going out and educating people? Is it getting involved and creating a bill? Is it sucking it up and actually running for a position yourself? Find a constructive, useful way to channel your anger and frustration. Running through the streets and rioting, burning shit down, punching people in the face, and getting arrested doesn’t solve anything. You’re just making it worse. For society, and yourself. If you don’t like a guest speaker, instead of turning up and booing them, either go and see if you can engage in actual conversation with them, or, just don’t go. Save yourself the agony. Just because you don’t like someone’s opinion, doesn’t mean others don’t, and frankly, others have just as much right to their chosen guests as you do. By protesting, you’re just giving that person you hate more of a voice. For example, I had never heard of Milo Yiannopoulos before he was banned from Twitter. There was all this fuss, so I googled him. Now that the kids at UC Berkeley have protested, a whole other group of people who had never heard of him are now looking him up. You wanted to silence him, but all you really did was give him a bigger audience.

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So now we have to ask ourselves, who is benefitting from all this hate? Who is profiting from all the riots? Who is trying so hard to divide us, and why? Whether you’re a conspiracy theorist or not, you’ve got to be able to see that there’s something bigger at play here.

I’m not going to be a part of it. Screaming at my friends, protesting in the street, bitching at people on FB. It’s not healthy. It doesn’t help me, or you, or any of us, so I’m not going to be a part of it. Ask yourself what you’re getting out of it? Ask if you’re gaining anything by letting yourself get worked up? Is it giving you any benefit at all?

Then, if you truly want to go out and do something, do something useful. Go volunteer somewhere. Make your grandma dinner. Donate some money to a charity. Go meet with your local politicians and make useful suggestions, or volunteer with them. If you’re passionate about women’s right, donate time, cash or goods to a shelter, or if you feel the need to defend rights, maybe pick somewhere where women truly don’t have them. (Like the Middle East or Africa) Think people need housing, go volunteer with someone like Habitat for Humanity. Like animals? There’s plenty of shelters that need help. Find something constructive. Hashtag activism isn’t really activism. It’s lazy, and doesn’t help channel your rage into anything useful. Rioting and smashing down windows in Starbucks isn’t helpful either. Take that anger, turn into into passion, and do something great with it. Pick something that’s actually meaningful to you, don’t just jump on whatever the next twitter outrage is, then forget about it 10 minutes later when the next outrage hits. You can’t do anything useful if you don’t stick to it.

Most of all, open your heart and your mind. Embrace your fellow man. Don’t let yourself be manipulated by the man. Remember the golden rule, never Discuss Money, Religion or Politics in polite company, and it’s up to us to be polite company.

 

 

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Trump Won. Now What?

So last night was the US election, and this morning, you’d think that the world was about to end. On my facebook feed, there was a never ending stream of The Sky is Falling! and other such scaremongering.

Yes, Trump won. People had to know this was a possibility. I mean, he was on the ballot. The other choices were Hillary, Johnson, or as many people chose to ignore, another woman, Jill Stein. Let me start with that. There are a bunch of people crying about how we hit a glass ceiling, and how the world has gone backwards, because a man won the election. They made it sound like Hillary was the first women to ever run as a head of state. Never mind that there has already been 26 nations that have already had a woman run a country, people ignored that there was another woman on the ballot. Nobody cares that she lost. Then again, it seems nobody cared she was on there in the first place. I think a lot of people only voted for Hillary because she owned a vagina, which I think is a terrible reason to vote for someone. Vote for them based on their policies, or their record, not because of what’s in their underpants. Hillary didn’t lose because she’s a woman, she lost because people didn’t want another four years of the same thing.

Trump isn’t a true Republican, and he’s not a Democrat. I’m not really sure what he is politically. He’s a businessman who was also a reality star. He offered the people something different. Lots of people weren’t in love with what he was offering, but Americans truly believe that voting third party is a complete waste, and so while Gary Johnson had some good ideas, he really didn’t stand a chance. Much like we all loved Ron Paul back in the day. It just wasn’t going to happen.

So this morning I watched my friends lose their collective shit, crying over how they’re going to lose their healthcare, or get deported, or having their same sex marriages annulled, and I want to tell everyone to take a deep breathe, and relax.

Think back to every other election you’ve lived through, and especially since the advent of social media. Every single time, half the country loses their minds, crying it’s armageddon, that the economy will fail, that they’ll lose their rights, basically that their life is over. Then, a couple years later, those same people are complaining that the elected official hasn’t fulfilled any of their campaign promises, and that nothing is being done.

Presidents are figure heads. They can make executive orders, but they can also be struck down. Nobody walks into office and within a couple years has done all they said they would. That’s why you have the senate. There’s balance. Trump isn’t going to walk into office in January and annul your marriage, or take away your right to birth control. He has said he’ll make changes to Obamacare, but he hasn’t said what those changes are, so before you cry that you’re going to lose your healthcare, maybe wait and see what he’s actually trying to do, and then if what he wants will even pass congress, and then access your options. Who knows, since about the only thing I’ve heard him say about healthcare is that he’s going to make it tax deductible, it might actually be better for those self employed people who have to purchase their own and don’t get it through an employer. The thing is, we don’t know, so don’t give yourself an ulcer over it. Premiums already went up a ridiculous amount before he was elected, so you can’t blame that on him. I also highly doubt that insurers are going to go back to denying people with pre-existing conditions. If your insurer does, find another one who doesn’t.

As to the posts about foreigners feeling scared to be here in the US now, I haven’t met a single foreigner in real life who actually feels that way. I’m a foreigner myself, and I have plenty of other expat friends. (and no, they’re not all anglo.) We’ve all concluded that as long as you’re here legally, there’s absolutely no reason to be freaking out. Trump isn’t going to deport people here legally. I’m not sure why people think he hates foreigners, I mean, his wife is one. Is he going to start with her? No. Probably not. Will he get tough on people who are here illegally? Maybe. Do I think that’s a bad thing? Well, I spent three years working on a border program. I spent three years watching cameras, processing reports, analyzing data on the drugs, money, people and weapons that went back and forth. I saw Border Patrol agents who had a harder and harder time doing their job. I have a completely different perspective than most civilians. There’s a reason the USBP endorsed Donald. I do think that legitimate refugees have a place in society. I don’t think that paying a coyote to smuggle you across a border from a country that has no problems entitles you to live here when so many of us went through the legal process just fine. Basically, as long as your papers are in order, you’re fine. No different from the last guy.

I’m not scared of WWIII breaking out. I was actually more scared of the never ending war we could have endured if Clinton had won. She was very pro-war, and anti Russia. I don’t have a problem with a guy who actually wants to be friends with other heads of state, and who isn’t interested in another Cold War. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Trump will start shit, but I’ll worry about that if and when it happens.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve spent the last couple of years really trying to teach myself to breathe and be calm and not get hysterical over every little tweet or FB post, or cause du jour, that I can sit back and watch this calmy. Maybe I prefer to take a moment and see the bigger picture, or let shit play out before I get my panties in a wad, but I really think people are way overreacting.

Don’t let crying celebrities and the 24/7 news media let you get all worked up.

Trump will be sworn in, and just like every other President, anything he tries to do will be blocked in the senate. It will be years before he can realistically achieve anything. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

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My Personal Paradise in Palm Beach

So for those of you that have read Allegedly, you’d know that Matt and I rode off happily into the sunset in the last chapter. Well, technically we headed East, into the sunrise, and sadly, Maya didn’t make it with us.

Matt and I have been wanting to move to Florida for so long now, and after I left my job, we just stayed in Victoria, Texas because we were comfortable. We had already sold the house in San Antonio, but we were still close to the ranch. We liked the other people in our RV park, but it was a hassle for Matt, because it was over 2 hrs to the closest airport, and he travels almost weekly. Then, our friends started to leave the park, and Matt’s work started talking about dividing his territory. He could stay with Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma, or get Florida/Tennessee/Georgia. It was just the push we needed. We had no reason to say in Victoria, and I dreaded the thought of moving back to San Antonio. So we spent forever looking for a new RV park we liked. We had sold our house already, and lived full time in an RV. People think this means you can just pack up and move anywhere. In theory it does. In reality, not so much.

Matt really wanted to live somewhere between Miami and Ft Lauderdale. Each has a good airport, and both are big cities with lots of stuff to do. So that’s where we started looking. I’m amazed at some of the RV parks in Florida. Most were built back in the days before RVs had slideouts, so the slips are tiny. Then, in winter, they pack them in like sardines. Some RV parks double people up. The amount they charge in winter is astronomical. Some RV parks in South Florida charge as much for a tiny RV slip as an actual apartment. It’s literally just a tiny piece of land. Many of them aren’t even concreted. Miami and Ft Lauderdale fill up with French Canadians over winter. People reviewing parks said if you don’t speak French, forget it. They’ll actively exclude you. Then, the majority were either right next to a train track, or in super sketchy areas.

Matt and I drove to almost every single RV park from Islamorada in the keys to Boca Raton, and didn’t find anything we both liked. We almost gave up. Then, I found a place online that wasn’t listed in the RV guides. It was up further north in Palm Beach, which Matt had originally considered too far north, and he wasn’t sure of the airport there. But I knew it was meant to be. It was right off Australian ave. It was literally a sign. I had him look at the flights in and out of there, and he was satisfied it would work as his hub.

I had just finished reading “The Official Preppy Handbook” and it assured me that Palm Beach was THE place to be. At least in Winter. Apparently I’m supposed to summer in the Hamptons, or Europe.

So on his next trip to Florida, Matt checked out the RV park here, and it was ok. So we set a date, and we moved. We miss our friends, but, I’m so happy here. I’m glad we didn’t find what we wanted in the other cities first.

We are actually in West Palm Beach, which someone told me I should never mention to anyone out on “the island” but in reality, no one has battered an eyelid when I tell them we’re in West Palm, and not in Palm proper. Most are fascinated that we live in something smaller than their pool house. The island is absolutely gorgeous. Apparently it contains the top 1% of the nation’s money, and the top 2% of the world’s money. I told Matt I could see why. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. I said “If I was a billionaire, I’d live here” to which Matt replied, “you’re not even a millionaire, and you DO live here.”

He’s right. We might not live in a $50 million dollar house on the beach, but I live in an RV that I love only 5 minutes away from it. I have no desire to live in one of those huge houses. Or any house again for that matter. The RV life is so simple and easy. It has everything we need, and nothing we don’t. I don’t have to spend hours cleaning (or hire a maid) and the little bit of gardening I do is because I want to, not because I have to.  We got lucky and have the biggest RV slip in the park, and I have a veggie garden, and even made a tiny zen garden. We’re so close to the airport that Matt calls me as he lands, and I make it to pick him up before he’s even outside. Thankfully, as close as we are, we’re not under the flight path. Some of those big houses are though…

I drive out to the island everyday to go workout. I found a beautiful place that does barre, yoga and pilates. They do spin too, but me and cardio aren’t friends. I try to go to a class everyday Monday to Friday. The people are super nice, and even though they all drive Land Cruisers and Porsches, they all think my lifted Jeep Wrangler is awesome. (It is) I’m not trying to get a supermodel body, I just want to get healthy, and it’s happening slowly. Barre is so much harder than I ever expected it to be. It’s harder than CrossFit was. I really enjoy it though, and Matt thinks I always look happier when I go. I’ve met some really cool people there. Even some that I have weird small world connections with. (Who would have imagined two people in a pilates class in Palm Beach would have both been interviewed by Tracy Grimshaw!) There’s also a bunch of expats here, and I’ve even made friends with another Aussie. One that I would have been friends with even if we both still lived in Australia. -Hey Maggie!

The restaurants here are amazing. There’s every kind of food you could think of, and it’s all good. Downtown West Palm Beach has CityPlace and Clematis St, which are both super busy and filled with shopping and restaurants. We’ve found a few favourite places, but are still trying everything else. We even found a cute little hangout we both like called Camelot. It’s a bar, but they also do a member’s thing. Palm Beach is full of members only clubs. We can’t afford The Breakers or Mar-a-Lago, (seriously, they’re both over $100k just to apply, then there’s the yearly fee) but I totally joined Camelot, just cause I could. (It was $100 a year) They gave me a fancy metal membership card, and now I feel totally preppy, belonging to a club in Palm Beach. 😉 While Palm Beach is very seasonal, and almost empties out in Summer, (everyone really does go to The Hamptons) West Palm Beach is buzzing all year long.

We still enjoy going down to Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Matt has to go down all the time for business, so I’ll go along some days. They are both fun to visit, but I don’t think I’d like living full time in Miami. Miami is super fast, flashy and very nouveau riche. Also, the traffic sucks. Palm Beach is old money, and everyone is super laid back and totally charming and chilled. Bonus; no traffic, unless you get caught by the drawbridge as someone sails their mega yacht through the intercoastal…

So even though we majorly downsized our life materialistically, I think we did a major upgrade spiritually. My quality of life here is so much better. I’ve never been happier. I’ve never enjoyed living somewhere so much. I absolutely love it here, and I’m grateful that Matt was able to move us here. The dream of living in Florida not only happened, but turned out so much better than I ever imagined it would.

So, if there’s something you think would make you happier in life, do it. Just go for it. Maybe you adjust your expectations, or make compromises. You might find that you give up something that didn’t make you happy anyway, in return for something that gives you so much more pleasure. I have zero regrets about giving up our big house in San Antonio. I’m living large while living tiny. The trade off is totally worth it. I’m not suggesting you move to Palm Beach, but go find the place that makes you happy, and just make it happen. Be flexible with your expectations. The thing you might have thought of as a compromise might end up being the thing you end up loving the most.

And just for the record, even if I was to become a millionaire, or even a billionaire, I’d still pick Palm Beach. It’s my happy place. I think the only difference is I’d pay off someone in the council to let me park the RV out on the island. Or build an RV park out there… Or live in someone’s pool house. Then again, I’m so close right here where we are, there’s not much point. Except to make Matt happy cause then he could walk to the beach instead of driving there.

Most of these pics below are from my Instagram, but since some people don’t use it, I figured I’d share them here, so you could see how awesome this place is. If you are on instagram, go follow me (@Shrimptank) so you can see all the other amazing stuff I didn’t include here.

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