Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Great Disconnect: Advertising, Psychology, and Real Life

UPDATE: All the fruit flies are gone.  It took about 4 days.  I highly recommend the Terro Fruit Fly Traps.

Ok, on to today’s post…

I recall my dad telling me that he had teared up in reaction to AT&T’s “Reach out and touch someone” ad campaign – this was in the early 1980s, I think.  The ads showed people reconnecting with loved ones via the telephone, and they were fairly emotional spots.

I didn’t have the same reaction to the ads, mostly because I was a busy mother of young children at the time.  I was reaching out and touching folks on a regular basis, running after kids and what-not.

I thought of my dad’s reaction yesterday, when I saw an ad for Walmart.

This ad, which has a tagline I cannot recall (I don’t know if that says more about me or Walmart), features mini-vingnettes of Walmart workers in their everyday lives, then switches to them succeeding and smiling and practically dancing to work – because Walmart really cares about them.

It states things like, “Yesterday, he was a cashier” as it shows an employee giving his “team” a pep talk as their new manager of some kind.  Or shows a family eating at the dinner table and states, “Yesterday, they couldn’t afford healthy food.”  And so on.

The point is, I guess, that Walmart loves its employees and wants to help them make their lives better.  Then it hints at some big change coming this October (2015).  All the while, upbeat music plays in the background.

I thought, “This is clever.  This really attempts to pull the ol’ heart strings.”

And then I got sad and mad and teary-eyed, but not because of the ad’s message or execution, not directly anyway…

…it was because of the disconnect.

The disconnect between real life, and what we imagine our ideal life to be.  And the power that businesses and people with money and politicians and other people with power/influence have to make that ideal life a reality…

…or not.

I am an idealist.  I am, at heart, an optimist.  And, despite massive evidence and experiences to the contrary, I still stubbornly believe that if you want your life to be a certain way, with persistence you can make it so.  Or similar to what you want, maybe.

It’s nonsense, of course.  My own life attests to that.  I think – seriously – that a lot of this point of view came from watching “people overcome adversity” films as a child.  No, I really do think that.

Movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “Mrs. Minniver”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and on and on.  Movies where you just knew, no matter what happened, the hero/heroine was going to be ok.

Heck, even one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” – how I loved Gene Tierney!! – wasn’t supposed to really be an inspirational film, but it ended up being one, because she got to be with the one she loved, in the end.

As a child who often was left to my own devices at home, I watched an awful lot of TV.  As a child whose life was chaotic and full of shouting and hitting and unsafe adults – my next-door neighbor and godfather sexually abused me for years – movies that portrayed adults doing the right thing, battling evil, and overcoming obstacles were my escape into a world I desperately hoped was out there.

Those, and monster/alien B movies heh.  That’s a whole other post on anxiety and monster movies.

So I am firmly convinced that media played a huge role in this ridiculous “tilting at windmills” thing I do.  And that speaks to the power that media have to shape our lives and attitudes.

Advertisers know this, of course – hence the “feel-good” campaigns in general, and that Walmart one in particular.

Effective, too…I am now wondering what this “thing” is that Walmart has planned for October. Not that I expect anything good out of them, because in general I think businesses do what they do based on profit, nothing more nothing less.  But the ad stuck that deadline in my mind, so it was effective in that sense.

The emotional reaction was me thinking about the following:

~ How much this campaign cost…

~ How much research was put into it…

~ How Walmart actually knows what consumers want from them, in terms of how they treat their workers…

~ How Walmart actually has the money and power to make this an actual reality for their workers, but won’t.

How do I know they won’t?  Aside from my cynical, left-of-Fidel-Castro self, it’s because – putting on my psychologist’s hat – the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Walmart has never done anything good for their workers unless they were pressured into it by someone – whether it’s more hours or a living wage, they just never budged until some unions started making a stink about stuff.

Aside #1: Gah! I really wish there was a union of therapists, that is so badly needed for therapists and their patients.  Why don’t I…oh yeah, I don’t work as one anymore, am too much of a troublemaker, and therapists as a whole are an “everyone for himself” kind of profession.  As I painfully discovered. Several times.

So, Walmart knows.

They know the American people, even as they shop there in droves, are not thrilled about the bad press Walmart gets every time it does something cruel or boneheaded – like when they held food drives for their employees, because their employees had to get food stamps while working there (because they weren’t being paid enough to afford to eat).

Walmart does not want to be seen as “the bad guy”.  I can’t actually see it making a huge dent in their sales, but I guess it must.  I’m sure it’s that, and not Sam Walton crying at night because the bad press hurt his feelings.   Because…well, many obvious reasons why he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the press except in terms of the bottom line of profits.

Adventures in Cycling, Part 1?

I rode Coco today, for the first time.  I didn’t fall.

That’s the good news.

There’s bad news, though.  I don’t think I can do it.  I don’t think I am able to physically ride a bike, and I am not sure why.  The whole experience felt wonky – like I was going to fall any second.   The bike seems like it weighs a ton.

Yes, cruisers are heavy bikes.  That was my first mistake.  I should have, when I had the money, gone to a bike shop and had them trick me out.  But I didn’t.

I went to Target.  Big, big mistake.  Oddly, I did actually pick out a lighter adult bike, what I would have called a 10-speed back in the day, got on it and actually rode it a foot or so without falling. Ok so I almost crashed into the bike display, but I didn’t fall!  But that’s not the bike I chose.

No, I went online and picked a “pretty” one.  A cruiser, as it was advertised as a leisure-type bike, for older ladies and so on.  “That’s me!” I thought.

I had visions of myself riding leisurely down to the store, basket on the front, smiling happily on a sunny day.  Of course, in my version I also have a sun dress on and a floppy hat, ala 1940s movies, but that’s not gonna happen.

Back to today.  I got on Coco, not an easy feat as the whole bike in general seems massive to me, and swinging my leg over was a bit tricky, but I did it.  Pedaled down the sidewalk, then the street, and noticed that my knees were way too high, coming nearly up to my chest.  That didn’t seem right.

The sidewalk was treacherous, with cracks and so on.  The street is smooth but it is a bit slanted towards the sidewalk.  And there are cars, though not many today as it is Sunday.

Felt a sharp twinge in my middle back – oh no!  Kept pedaling down to the park, the park that doesn’t have bike paths, and turned around in the parkinglot and rode home.  By this time, my middle back had a stabbing pain in it.

I don’t get middle back pain, ever.  So, great – new thing.  Lower back, however, feels fine – that’s the good news, as that’s where the disk issues are (or at least, where I thought they were).

Nancy came out of her apartment and adjusted my handlebars, and watched me sit on the bike.  I raised the seat up so that my toes just barely touch the ground.

She said I didn’t look stupid.  “Just another old lady on a bike.”  Heh.

And still, my knees feel as if they are way too high.  I don’t know what else we can adjust.  The highest position still has my knee at a higher-than-90-degree-angle to my body.  It doesn’t feel right.

Meanwhile, the training wheels got loose and we had to tighten them up again.  The good news there is that, at some point, I wasn’t even using the training wheels unless I tilted to one side. That’s probably why the bike felt wonky.

The bad news is, I will have to keep adjusting them – I don’t think they were designed to lift off the ground like that.

As usual, this thought ends with, “I feel like crying”.

I don’t think I’m riding this bike correctly, and I don’t know what to do about it.  The pain, I can live with.  And I wasn’t winded but I felt really weak.  Weak in the arms, weak in the legs…heck, the bike is heavy but not that heavy.

The old days of whipping onto my bike and speeding down the street are long, long gone.  I can accept that.  But I saw a woman the other day who was at least 10 years older than I am, riding what looked like a BMX-type bike, without any extra wheels, and doing just fine with it.

Why can’t I do that?

I read a news article about some guy who is riding across the US on a regular bike, again with no extra wheels, and he weighs 400 pounds.  

Why can’t I do that?  I don’t weigh anywhere near that – I only need to lose about 50 pounds.

So it’s not age, and it’s not weight.

I don’t know what to do.  I am considering donating the bike to a church or something.

My mobility options are decreasing, and it’s scary.

Those people you see in Walmart, who use the electric carts and are massively overweight? Don’t judge them, they may have started out the way I did.

Ill, overweight, and unable to exercise, this is perhaps how they got where they were.

I do not want to end up that way.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  It’s like my body will not do anything I tell it to do.  It’s beyond fatigue, it’s a weakness, an inability.   And I am no quitter.

In fact, this has become so scary that I will now do just about anything to correct it, if I only knew what was wrong.

I might try again tomorrow.  At this point, I really don’t know.

 

 

What I Learnt from Working in a Call Center, or…Keurig Comes Through.

Just wanted to tell everyone that Keurig emailed me today, and is sending me a Keurig Mini to replace my old one.  For free.  Plus 2 boxes of K-Cups (Starbuck’s and Dunkin’ Donuts).

They didn’t state explicitly that it is “new”, and not “refurbished”, so I am hoping it actually is new.  Sometimes companies do that – the call center I worked for who represented a retail-company-who-shall-not-be-named, often sent refurbished products as exchanges.

Anyway, I don’t have to send my dead Mini back.  And I know why, too – the cost of production is too low to justify the pre-paid shipping Keurig would have to shell out to get it back.  I learnt that from the call center, too.

At $99/unit (retail), I am betting this unit actually cost around $18 to make.

The bits and bobs of relatively useless information you pick up on life’s journey!

 

Fruit Flies, Keurig’s Demise, and Very Tired Eyes!

Ok, not my rhymingliest best, I admit.  And I even had to look words up that rhyme with “flies”, on www.Rhymezone.com.   Because….really super-tired.

Aside #1: That reminds me, I am updating my “Weird and Wonderful” section later today, where I list websites that I like.  Check it out sometime!

Blair County – heck, maybe even more parts of Pennsyvlania, I don’t know – is experiencing a fruit fly invasion.  I know this because yesterday Nancy and I went to several different stores, looking for Terro Fruit-Fly Traps in order to supplement our “vinegar-in-a-shallow-glass-with-plastic-wrap-over-the-top-that-you-punch-holes-in” homemade traps.

Aside #2: This really does work.  You take a shot glass or something similar, fill it with apple cider vinegar, cover the top with plastic wrap, and use a toothpick to punch holes in the plastic so they can get in but not out.  (Nancy, ever brilliant, is using an empty grated cheese shaker because the tops already have fruit-fly-sized holes)  

Some people also put a drop of soap in there but I haven’t found this makes a difference.  Set the traps near sinks or other places you see fruit flies, and soon you will have glasses of dead fruit flies. Also works as a diet aid – yuck, don’t drink it EWWWW – as the sight of these traps effectively kills the appetite for some people.

So, anyway, Nancy and I went first to Walmart – sold out.  Hmm.  Then to Lowe’s – sold out.  And then to Home Depot – sold out.

“At least it’s not just us,” Nancy pointed out.  See, that’s the difference between us – she sees that stuff being sold out as vindication for our housecleaning skills.  I see it as “dammit, they’re sold out!!”  She’s a much more mellow person.

In the Home Depot parking lot, I called Walgreen’s, and asked if they had fruit fly traps.  After being put on hold for a few minutes listening to Sinead O’Connor, the woman came back and stated that they had 2 left.

The price?  $1 more than everywhere else we just looked.  Typical Walgreen’s.  Their prices are not competitve for most things anymore.

So, we raced over to Walgreen’s and bought the last 2.

Then we went back to Hollidaysburg to the feed store (which the guy at Home Depot suggested).  This place is across the rr tracks from where we live, and it didn’t even occur to us to look for this product there (which would have saved time and gas).

But they had 4.  And we bought those, too.

So, with 3 for her and 3 for me, we went to our separate apartments and got to work.   And I have to admit, the Terro traps are worth the $6-$7 each just for the fact that they look like little apples, and are opaque so you don’t have to look at the awful, disgusting creatures as they climb down to their doom.

Aside #3: Well, they hang around the rim of the apples until they figure out where the lure is, and watching that is gross, but once they fall in you can’t see them unless you choose to look in the handy little window on the side (I guess so you can be assured it’s working).  

I saw a great term on the internet the other day that describes the feeling I get when I see the congregation of fruit flies anywhere…”squicked out”.  I saw that made-up phrase on a site about “trypophobia” (not an official phobia, actually)…I don’t have it, I was just curious…if you saw the lotus plant pics photoshopped onto peoples’ skin…it’s that kind of teeth-clenching, skin-crawlng,”oh-my-goodness-get-those-seeds-out-of-those-holes-RIGHT-NOW” reaction that the person described as feeling “squicked out.”

Aside #4: Don’t Google the pics, unless you are absolutely sure you’re not going to react badly to them.  Many people find the pics disturbing, which is why I have not provided a link.

For me, it’s just the skin-crawling, I-want-to-squish-every-fruit-fly-on-there kind of reaction.  Not fear, just “MUST DESTROY”!  Pretty violent for a vegetarian, I must admit.  In fact, had my high school biology teacher used fruit flies instead of frogs for her evil “hurt/kill life forms” assignments, I might have actually not failed that class (I used to skip it and go down to the “feeshing hole”, an area behind Falls Church High School where the “freaks” went to smoke weed).

Pfft, even my parents backed me up on the refusal to pith frogs, due to being a vegetarian.  But back in 1971, no one cared.  So I got an F.

But killing fruit flies? I wouldn’t have had a problem with that – though no doubt some of my “friends” back then would have tormented me for killing fruit flies as some kind of moral equivalency to killing cows.  Because they did that to me on a regular basis, to make fun of me.

But I digress.

In my battle against the grossness that are fruit flies, I had to buy those disposable medical masks you can get at the Dollar Tree because they kept trying to fly in my face – a “squickable moment” if there ever was one!   Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

Aside #5: And to think, this is the same kind of reaction as “frisson”, what idiots pay people to induce in them via the internet.  Of course, attractive young women induce a nicer frisson than do fruit flies, which is why my “Fruit Fly Frisson-Fest!” idea is doomed to fail.

The monster population is smaller today, but still giving me the willies.  I have been through this apartment with a fine-toothed comb (not hard, as it’s only 800 sq ft) and I still cannot find where they are coming from.  I even closed the windows in the back room, where the kitties like to sit and watch/listen to birdies, just in case the enemy was getting in through the screen somehow.

So now the kitties are unhappy, too.

I called the Penn State bug people, and they told me to look outside.  For compost heaps, for uncovered garbage, and other potential breeding places.

I know Nancy and I don’t have anything like that.  What am I supposed to do if I find a neighbor who is contributing to the problem?

“Excuse me, you don’t know me but…uh…I notice your garbage seems to be breeding fruit flies.  Do you think you could do something about that?  Because our house is infested and we think maybe your property is the source.”

I don’t know, that just seems kind of rude and intrusive.  Plus, the most likely offender lives 2 doors down, is armed, and every summer can be heard screaming at our other neighbor in a dispute over whether or not he has the right to play Lynnard Skynnard, outside, full-blast, at midnight.  I notice he has a lot of stacks of…stuff…in his yard.  He owns some kind of business that requires a lot of equipment and wood and barrels on his property, and who knows if it breeds anything?

Nope, I think we’ll just have to continue to battle them here, and try to defend our house against more invaders.   I really hope they’re gone soon, because I am sick of wearing this mask and eating at break-neck speed, one-handed, while using the other hand as a fan to ward off any stray bugs.  EWWW!!!

Ready…Steady…Work!!

I have been thinking a lot about work lately. Because I want to go back.

I want to pay rent and bills, and have money left over to save for things like a car, a passport, and travel – particularly back to my beloved Belfast (which I still can’t see pics of without crying).

I want to be able to go shopping for food and not have to constantly add up prices, and reluctantly put things back.  I cannot even recall what that’s like, for the brief times I wasn’t poor.  I do recall it felt good, though.

I am not one of those people who, even when they make a decent living, pinches every penny and eats crappy food to save money.  I find them really annoying, those “cheap bastards”.

Anyway, I got to thinking, as I was reading websites yesterday.  Since I subscribe to a lot of healthcare blogs, news sites, and so on, I read a lot of stories about people who either are in therapy, or conduct therapy as trained and educated professionals, or “conduct therapy” as laypeople who think “I can do that, I don’t need education”.

I have softened my stance a bit on this last group.  It used to annoy me to no end when people would ask, rhetorically, “Why do I have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get a degree and get licensed, when doing therapy is so easy?  All my friends come to me for help, and they tell me I’m better than any counselor they’ve ever paid to see.”

I used to think, “You arrogant so-and-so!  Therapy isn’t just letting people state their problem, and then you tell them what to do, ala Ann Landers!  It’s nothing like that!”

But, oh, it is, to a certain extent.  It’s not supposed to be, but it is.

I have worked in quite a few places, mostly hospitals but some outpatient places, and with the rare exception, that’s exactly what the average person will find when he/she goes to a therapist.

Aside #1: Yes, my master’s degree is in experimental psychology, with a minor in special education. But, most of the core requirements are the same as clinical – until you get to the “practicum” part and the graduate level in counseling etc.  

However…when you have access to academic journals and read a lot of research on therapeutic techniques, plus get a lot of continuing education mini-courses/training seminars/conferences through the workplace, you tend to get a lot of clinical knowledge and can use that to drive your therapeutic techniques.  That’s what I did.

Example: The last place I worked at was a methadone clinic.  In my opinion, methadone maintenance is a good idea – in theory.  The theory being, of course, that you switch people from heroin to methadone, then get them off that completely via therapy and tapering.

What a stone pity it doesn’t work that way in practice.

At this particular outpatient facility, the clients had to have failed rehab a lot of times to even get in (not sure why that was a supposedly clinical requirement – but it sure makes for a profitable business).

Some clients came via court order, in lieu of jail.

Some came because they were pregnant (and Pennsylvania, unlike Tennessee and other places, does not automatically charge a woman with child abuse if she becomes pregnant while addicted).  They were worried about their babies.

Some came because they wanted a free alternative to heroin.

Only a few ever came because they wanted, really wanted, to get clean.

The program goes like this: You come in for your dose, and on days when you are required to go to either group or individual therapy, you do that first AND THEN dose.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing like leading group therapy at 5:30 AM with a group of people who are in various stages of withdrawal.  It’s not fair to them, and the fact that usually that was the ONLY way the company could get them into therapy speaks volumes about how ineffective the program is.

And how ineffective the screening process is.

Aside #2: When you admit patients to a program who pretty clearly do not want to deal with their addiction and get off heroin, you can be assured that those patients are going to be quite profitable for your business – because they’ll never get better, and they’ll consistently resist tapering off.  

Cha-ching!  Client for life – or until the insurance runs out.

I sat in on a couple of these “group therapy” sessions when I first started working there.  The first one involved the “therapist” (I cannot and will not call these people therapists, degree or not) playing Hangman with the group.

Hangman!  You know, the game where you guess the word by guessing letters.

Hangman!  Not “Hangman-and-then-we-discuss-these-terms-you-just-guessed-and-apply-them-to-your-addiction”   That might have actually counted as “psychoeducational”.

But just the game?  No, that doesn’t count as anything but “time-filler-for-someone-who-doesn’t-know-how-to-conduct-group-therapy”.  And, “easy-thing-to-do-with-clients-so-they-won’t-hate-me-because-I-won’t-let-them-dose-until-we’re-finished”.

This was typical stuff.  The other things the “therapists” did for group were:

~ Picked a topic and let clients ramble.

~ Brought a Bible and conducted Bible study under the guise of, not in addition to, therapy.  I am all in favor of using the Bible – or any other religious/spirtitual text – if the client’s beliefs are important to them, and if it is an adjunct to therapy.  But in place of therapy?  No, that’s completely unprofessional.

~ Went around the room and asked each client, “So, how are you doing?”  That usually ate up the entire time, and the “therapist” didn’t even have to talk.

Group therapy interventions like showing videos had to be approved by the director (who had no degree in anything, nor had any experience with addiction).  I wanted to show part of a video from PBS explaining where heroin comes from, and how it contributes to terrorism.

My idea was that maybe some clients who couldn’t be reached other ways would possibly be reached by this little nugget of knowledge. Especially if they were Gulf War veterans.

I wasn’t allowed to do it.  Why?  “Showing how heroin is made might trigger them to use.”

Trigger them to use??  When 80-99% of them are testing positive not only for methadone, but for illegal opiates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines?

Aside #3: “Benzodiazepines” are drugs like Xanax and Valium.  If you take them with any kind of opiate or alcohol, you get higher than a kite.  Or stop breathing and die.  Or both.  

This decision of hers just illustrated how little she knows about addiction, therapy, or…well, or about people in general, and addicts in particular, really.

Oh Joy! Oh No! Ack!

Hello, again, all…

The “joy” part of this title is that the wheels for Coco arrived today!  Of course, I opened the box and…I don’t know why I do this to myself.  I knew I wasn’t going to understand how to put the wheels on.  I have this mechanical reasoning learning disability, a bad one – I am incapable of understanding diagrams and assembly directions.  Yet I continue to hope that one day I will magically acquire this ability.

No.  Took one look and decided “uh uh, this is a job for my friend Nancy.”  Nancy, y’all may recall, lives downstairs.   She’s a really helpful woman, who knows how to do things like this.  So I sent her a text (not knowing if she was sleeping, I didn’t want to pound on her door and disturb her, as she works crazy hours).

I’m sure by Monday, the wheels will be on.  And, hopefully, I will finally ride my bike!!

The “oh no” and “ack” exclamations have nowt to do with Coco and Her Magic Wheels.

They have to do with Wednesday’s topic: internet anonymity.

If you read Wednesday’s post, you know I encountered a rather snarky individual on a UFO blog site who jumped in a conversation he was not a part of, just to let me know that I, as an “AC” (“anonymous contributor”), was not worthy of him engaging in any dialogue with.

My thoughts on that were he’s an egotistical asshole, so what?  And after I wrote my blog piece, which mentioned him only briefly, I forgot both him and the blog site in question.

Then I got an email from the site, which sends emails out when replies are written to threads you post on.  Here’s where the “oh no” comes in, as in that (sorta) old expression, “Oh no, he didn’t!”

Someone else, who also uses his full name, posted something directly to me, disguised as a further explanation of why he and this other guy think “ACs” are the devil’s spawn or something, but was really a personal attack.  I saw it for what it was, I knew he was baiting..

…but I bit.  That’s the “ack” part.  I got angry because he stated he clicked on my “muse” ID, and nothing was there.  Then he launched into a brief tirade about how it’s easy to “aggressively attack people” when you don’t have the guts to identify yourself, or words to that effect.

As I had only asked a couple of questions, and never attacked anyone (and even thanked the nice guy who told me what “AC” stood for), this really pissed me off.  Because he was implying that I had some kind of troll agenda, just because he didn’t know what my name was.

Or that I like eggplant, which is the first line in my Google ID.  I have no idea what he clicked on, but there is info on my Google ID and I told him so.  I also told him I didn’t know why he couldn’t access it, but I didn’t care about “fixing” it, anyway, because I only use Google to post online when it’s a shortcut.

I then went on to state – and here’s where I really might have gotten carried away – my full name, the town I live in, my educational background, my age, the fact that I am on disability and am a survivor of domestic violence, and that I write a blog that has all this information – and more – on it, and that it’s public, on WordPress.  I didn’t mention the name, because I think it’s rude to plug one’s blog site on someone else’s blog, unless they ask.

Oh, and I told them my journal articles in cognitive science are available online, which they can Google if they want.   Normally, I do not throw my education at people like that, but they both were so smug and so know-it-all about being stupid posters on someone else’s blog site, that it just irked the hell out of me.

“Think you know it all?  I’M SMART, ASSHOLE.  WHAT PUBLICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?” This was what I was thinking.  It’s kind of a petty part of me, and probably comes from being called “stupid” by my family as I was growing up (sorry to disillusion anyone, but, yes, they did that).

The owner of the site should have stepped in and took this person to task for his snarky implications, but he didn’t – therefore sort of letting it go unchallenged unless I said something. And I wasn’t even going to say anything, not to the first guy, but then the second one posted and it was like poking me with a sharp stick.

At any rate, it was such a long rant that I actually had to edit it in order to post it, as the site has limits on long your comment can be.  I was so angry!  I even stated that I not only hadn’t planned to attack people, but I didn’t even have any definitive views on what UFOs are (except for alien abduction, which I believe is a sleep disorder thing).  I pointed out that, of the 3 people who responded to my comment, only 1 was civil and nice…

…the other “anonymous contributor”.

And that they, both with their full names, were rude and engaged in a personal attack on someone for merely asking questions.  I ended that part of the rant by telling them that their “theory” about how people who post under their real names do not post verbally aggressive comments was not true, as evidenced by their own boorish behavior and also by there not being ONE shred of scientific research that backs up that claim.

I phrased this as “As an expert – and I am – I can tell you there is NO scientific research to back up your claims.”  Oh, I was in full-bitch mode.

Then I apologized to the blog site owner for ranting, but stated I felt I needed to defend myself against these 2 readers and their accusations.

I haven’t heard back.  Either no one commented on it, or the blog owner deleted it. Because…females and their rants.  The site is only commented on by men, I suspect because they run all the females off, and also because the “UFO Community” at large is male-dominated and extremely sexist.

Even if I get another email indicating someone replied, I know better than to even open it.  And now this is yet another site that I won’t be reading – even though it is interesting – because there are just too many dickheads on it to make it pleasurable.  Oh, and because the blog owner, this author who I really used to like, didn’t even have the balls to rein in his “regulars”.

I am only somewhat dismayed that I lost my temper.  I am not worried about what I wrote, because I am on the internet in several different places and it’s not hard to find this information I revealed in my comment.  No doubt, they probably all just dismissed it as the post-menopausal ravings of some weird woman in Pennsylvania.  Pfft, I don’t care.

It’s like the last Daily Beast comment I posted, before deciding to not deal with that site anymore, either.

It seems one of the “social justice warriors” who posts comments to neo-cons, such as “you’re racist!  I bet you would take the food out of a Black kid’s mouth!” and other stupid things, decided to disclose that he once worked with the cops as a security guard (I bet the cops didn’t see it that way), and was “horrified” at the things the cops did to shoplifters.

Which he stood by and watched.  Time and time again, because he “didn’t want to get fired”. Watched, as cops stripped women to search them, made disgusting comments, even inappropriately touched them, and on and on.

Now, y’all know me – what do you think I felt about that?  Do you think maybe I called him a coward?

Do you think I told him he had a lot of nerve coming down on other people, when all he did was write crap on the internet and when it really would count, he did…nothing?

Do you think maybe I told him he ought to get down on his knees and ask those women’s forgiveness for doing nothing while their lives were ruined?  And asked him how he could sleep at night?

You bet I did.  But, of course, it didn’t stop him from doing the same thing, day in and day out, as if he didn’t have a hypocritical bone in his body.

So, I decided, enough of this.  I know eventually, in my heart, that this guy is going to think about what I wrote.  And hopefully it will stick in his liberal-ass conscience for a good long while.

But I can rant and emote here.  And I need to focus on my own life, right now, while I can still do something about it.  Because if I don’t get my health somewhat under control, and get as fit as I can get, I won’t be able to help anyone else.

I can’t promise I won’t pop off on another comments section.  But I am hoping that getting wheels on Coco will have me out and about in the world more often, biking around my small town and enjoying the summer.

And I know from personal experience – because people have told me this – that what I say to people does have an impact.  If not materially, at least it gooses their consciences now and again.  And if I can change just one person’s attitude towards the rest of the human race, if I can convince just one to be kinder in his/her daily life, if I can put just one asshole in his place…

…it’s ok.  I am doing what I can.  Now it’s time to focus on me.

I forgot to recommend this guy last time…he is oh-so-funny, and anyone who has had regular contact with the healthcare system (either as a patient or an employee), will love this man.  He’s the Weird Al of the medical field…I give you….

Dr. ZDogg in da house!!

He’s like what Dr. Wonderful would be like, if Dr. Wonderful did song parodies (I’ll have to ask him, you never know!).

Be good.  Be kind.  Have a wonderful, joyful weekend!

 

The Internet is Like the World’s Playground…

…and not in a good way.  No, not at all, in my opinion.

I have written about – or made reference to – the lack of politeness norms on the internet.  My interest in this subject goes way back to when I was in graduate school at the University of Memphis (from 1997-2000), when I studied under Dr. Art Graesser in the Cognitive Science Lab. Some of the research I was involved in was language-based, particularly something called “conversational smoothness” in terms of how an intelligent tutoring system (AI) would reproduce that.

Aside #1: Wow do I ever miss that!  For one of the first times in my life, I actually felt smart!

At any rate, when I wasn’t studying and so on, I was into chat.  Primarily Yahoo chat.  And I became really interested in politeness norms regarding chat – mostly because, aside from turn-taking, there really weren’t any.  People would argue, and sometimes “text bomb” people (causing the chat program to crash), and generally were verbally combative at times.

I thought this was as bad as it gets.  Oh I was so wrong.  It’s a lot worse now.

Besides the usual rude things I read in comments sections these days, and there are certainly many of those, there is something emerging that puzzles me to no end, and indicates to me that there is a certain pathology manifesting itself.

It is the idea of an “anonymous contributor”.

Twice this week, I have run into this myself, regarding my own comments.  And it really, really surprised me.

The first one was when I read an article by a psychiatrist who was reviewing a film about schizophrenia.  He made the remark that, in his opinion, only a psychiatrist could have made the film, particularly someone who had personal experience with schizophrenia.  I posted a comment asking why he said this, as there are many professionals besides psychiatrists who are quite familiar with schizophrenia – like nurses and therapists.

Aside #2: I wasn’t trying to be an asshole.  I just wanted to know why he thought that.  In retrospect, recalling psychiatrists I have worked with – SOME psychiatrists – I ought to have known better.  His response was somewhat…erm…defensive – and clearly I had inadvertently offended him.  But that’s not my main point.

Main point: About 2 minutes after I submitted this comment – which was under my actual first name – I got an email from the editors stating (as the next comment under mine) that they require commenters to state their full names and titles.  Since I was registered at the site under my full name and so on, I thought it odd but replied in the next comment what my name and title were – Ms. Victoria Pomeroy, MS (psychology). I threw the “Ms.” in there just to sound like I was taking umbrage at the whole thing, which I was, actually.

Aside #3: The umbrage thing was lost on someone who replied to the content of my initial comment, as evidenced by him addressing me as “Victoria” and not “Ms. Pomeroy”.  Or maybe the way he addressed me was a deliberate familiarity – and, considering the profession, I think that’s more likely than an inability to recognize the “hmph!” tone I used when referring to myself as “Ms.”  

Pfft!  I do not consider any site that someone registers for – which usually includes full name, email address, sometimes age, sometimes gender, to be “anonymous.”  Even how the editors addressed me when they stated that thing about “full name and title” was odd, as it was in quotes – “Victoria”, as if this were some sort of nom de plume.

Gee, that wouldn’t be very creative now, would it?  Kinda like the name of this blog – it’s not creative, and it clearly states what my name is.

Well, so, no big deal.  I was somewhat put off by it, but considering the source – the type of internet publication it is – that’s just how those types of folks roll.

The next experience I had regarding this was when I asked a simple question in a comments section of a…well…how do I describe this?  It’s a blog written by someone whose books I have read and like, who is involved in the UFO community.

Aside #4: You need to stop that eye-rolling, or your eyes will freeze that way, I promise you! Yes, I mean you!!  I see you!! Stop it!

*Clears throat*

The blog post in question was just the author laying down some boundaries, which I think were long overdue.  He stated there would be no more insulting remarks, name-calling, and so on. Pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you think?

This caused a discussion to develop amongst the “regulars” (no, I am not one, I am a “newbie”) concerning certain people and their stances on things like the “Roswell Slides” (a non-event, don’t even bother Googling it), and then morphing into a sort of tirade by some people regarding “ACs”.  Oh and some mention, in the same train of thought, to “AJB”.

Air conditioners?  Alternating current?  And I had no guess as to what “AJB” was.

So I asked.  And, at the site, I am registered by my Google ID, which is “muse”.  Which, to my understanding, also has my correct email address and probably other Googly things, like my picture of Finnian-Da-Kitteh as my ID pic and all.

Aside #5: Yes, yes, I am getting a real pic taken uh…when I feel un-shy some day.  Don’t hold your breath.  I have always been camera shy, and it’s a miracle there is even that one pic of me at 16, taken by Stange.  His charm, no doubt!

Ok, so I asked what “AC” and “AJB” meant.  A nice person, who only has initials in his ID, explained that “AC” – which meant “alternating current” to him (he’s old like me I guess heh) – in internet lingo means “anonymous contributor”.

The “AJB” refers to someone that a lot of people who comment on that blog do not like, whose involvement in the aforementioned “Roswell Slides” is the subject of apparently much derision and internet posturing.  I guess he posts on the comments section a lot, but wasn’t commenting on that particular article (perhaps wisely).

Aside #6: I also asked what was considered an “expert” in the UFO field (no, I wasn’t baiting, I wanted to know what their operational definition was, since a few posters had mentioned that), and what constitutes anonymity if we are all required to register using Google IDs and so on.  No one answered that.

Ok, so far so good…until I read the response to my thanking this poster for his explanations.

The response was written by someone who posts under his (apparent) full name, first and last. He derided the fact that “two ACs” were discussing what the abbreviation meant, and went on to declare that anyone who is an AC isn’t worth his time to respond to (irony is lost on him, I guess).

This is definitely someone who is not only stuck on himself, but who also has to have the last word.  His previous comments on the thread dealt with how skeptics misuse Occam’s Razor (of course he had to spell it as Okham’s, because he’s so much smarter don’t ya know) to bash such clearly superior ideas as aliens being the cause of unexplained phenomena.

As opposed to, you know, clearly unscientific ideas such as sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations.

Sigh.