Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bloggers, eBay sellers... mother 

First and foremost, I want to thank 2 extraordinary blog buddies, Deborah


and Todd ("Pterodactyl")


for taking the time to put messages on their blogs about me and the situation with my mother; she sends her thanks also, along with her amazement that total strangers would be interested in her illness, much less post about it. These kind folks exemplify what's best about the blogosphere.

Sadly, there are other people busily exemplifying what's WORST about the blogosphere:

The psycho whose disgusting comments on the blog of someone who (GASP) has a different political view than hers (see my post of 7-10-06) have been the source of much discussion in the blogoshere has continued to aim filthy posts at her victim, both on his blog and those of other people; it's gotten so bad that he's actually been forced to pursue legal action. I hope that those who spoke in her defense, and asked people to stop criticizing her even though SHE hadn't stopped her evildoing, realize what morons they look like at this point, and have learned an important lesson about how to judge this sort of thing; evil behavior indicates an evil person, NOT a good person having an off day (week/month), and evil people NEVER stop behaving badly... once you see that 1st evil act, the only smart thing to do is to condemn that person utterly.

The other ugly behavior I've recently seen is also in the political section of the blogosphere; some no-life twit who obviously isn't filling out his inseam very well launched an endless personal attack against someone who's clearly his intellectual superior... what is it about stupid people, that they think they can substitute belligerence for brain cells, and somehow magically become a smarter person's equal if they attack them long enough? I stumbled across the hooraw after it had already been going on for a while on multiple blogs, but 3 things made it perfectly clear who was at fault:

1) One person was spewing lengthy, elaborate posts of a personal nature, the replies to which were brief and to the point; do I really need to specify who's the attacker and who's the victim within that pattern?

2) Mr. Empty Inseam was protesting that some of his attack posts had been deleted from the blog on which the victim is part of the team; only evil people even THINK to make out like deleting their garbage is somehow WRONG.

3) As part of his protracted rants, he portrayed the deletion of improper posts from himself and other trolls by the victim as "bullying"; only an evil person sees the removal of their attacks as evidence of THEM being mistreated, or uses terms like "bullying" ("control freak," "power mad," etc) to describe actions that any sane person would deem not only ok but necessary for the good of the forum... there's no possible non-evil argument for why someone has to allow nasty posts, whether attacks on them or otherwise, to remain on their site.

The grim thing is that, again, the wrongdoer has forced extreme action upon the victim; he's announced that he's quitting the blog that he's added so much of value to for so long, because this sort of childish taunting has made blogging no longer fun for him.

No, strike that; the REALLY grim thing is that several people posted that the 2 combatants were equally to blame for the whole mess. No, no, NO!! It doesn't matter how long a battle goes on, the attacker, which is the person who 1st crossed the line from mature adult discussion into personal remarks, bears 100% of the blame. I'll never understand how, although we all know that the law says that if you're attacked you can defend yourself as much as you need to, and it's only the attacker who's broken the law, in our personal lives we say stupid things like "it takes 2 to argue, so they're equally to blame" and "they're both fighting, so they're both behaving badly" and equivalent nonsense; rebutting attacks, whether physical or verbal, NEVER stops being self-defense, and NEVER becomes indicative of wrongdoing. Remember, if you don't give the participants their proper labels, if you don't apportion blame and censure correctly, you're supporting the attacker's bad behavior and adding to the victim's suffering... care to guess what the karmic backlash would be for that?

I've got some new stupid eBay seller stories:

I got a package in the mail a couple of days ago from a seller that I'd won a pair of pants from; imagine my surprise when the pants in the box were NOT the ones I'd won. They're the same color, but of totally different material and style, and a different brand as well (which was abundantly clear, as they were new with all still tags attached); since pants are pants, I guess it's not THAT odd that the seller confused one for the other, but this person sells LOTS of clothes, and you think she'd CHECK to be sure that a garment was the exact one a buyer had won before wrapping it up, wouldn't you?

I checked her listings, and found the auction for the pants she'd sent me; when I saw that there were no bidders yet, I crossed my fingers as I sent her a message explaining the mix-up. In her reply, she did what embarrassed sellers typically do when they send someone an item in error that's not already been bought by someone else; she said that she'd send my pants right away, and to keep the pants I already had for free.

Did I mention that they're ** $60 ** pants? :-)

More important than the price is that they fit perfectly, look great, and are of a type that I didn't already have but am willing to wear; it's nice to BENEFIT from the stupidity of a seller for once.

The other stupid seller is someone I won a Swarovski crystal item from; he has spectacular feedback and sells other Swarovski stuff, which I assumed was insurance against my item being fake, having undisclosed flaws, or being poorly packed for shipping... you see where this is going, right? The item was shipped FAST, packed well, arrived with no flaws, and was certainly identical in design to one of the Swarovski creations... but where it should have the Swarovski swan etched into it, it has another design instead.

Can you imagine being STUPID enough to sell pricey stuff like Swarovski crystal and not verify that EVERY item is genuine?

I AM benefitting from the seller's high, perfect feedback however, in that he's agreed to give a full refund, including round-trip shipping... and I'm betting he won't risk going back on that, not just because he's already left + feedback for me, and I can wreck his spotless record without consequences if he tries to play games, but because I've caught him in what's technically fraud (and have warned him of my intention to get photos documenting the lack of swan), which would totally screw him with eBay and PayPal if I reported it.

My mother, it turns out, is taking an interest in my eBay adventures, because she asked me last night to regale my aunt and uncle with descriptions of some of the better deals I've gotten; the story of the $60 pants, which she hadn't heard yet, produced gratifying yelps of amazement from all 3 of them.

The really unexpected moment came when she prompted me to talk about my blog: how many hits I've had, my PageRank, what countries my visitors and my blog buddies are from... and she kept chiming in with stuff I can't believe she remembers, like how I've had to scale back from posting every day and how I'm the #1 result on Google for a bunch of different searches.... which made me remember that the only thing she's ever said she was proud of me for my entire life is my PageRank, sigh.

If you think these signs of interest from her mean that she's turning over a new leaf, don't get excited; she never thanked me for all I did for her when she was in the hospital, which was so extreme even from a woman with a history of never saying "thank you" to family members that I thought maybe she didn't really remember that day... but she DID, she was able to clearly recount the events, she just didn't feel the need to express gratitude. She also didn't let me know when they'd released her from the hospital, or even that they'd agreed to do so, or when she got home, and expressed surprise at the idea that she should have mentioned something about these matters to her only child, who had just dedicated an entire day to caring for her. She ALSO resisted having my husband and I go over to her house, where my aunt and uncle that we hadn't seen in YEARS are staying, although she felt fine and was having other visitors; not until I made clear to my aunt WHY we hadn't already come over, and that we could NOT just show up there because we do NOT have a standing invitation to do so, and she confronted my mother about it, did the latter suddenly give grudging permission for us to come over.

Then, when we were leaving Friday night, she asked eagerly, out of the blue, when we were going to be there over the weekend.

Then, today, she was indifferent as to which day we came over, or if we did at all.

Have I mentioned that she's NUTS? Being sick hasn't made her a saint, or even a nice person; frankly, I'd rather she stick to her usual level of unpleasantness rather than finding new heights of it, then acting friendly, then bouncing back to "normal"... I LOATHE inconsistency, and do NOT get sucked in by intermittent reinforcement.

Is it possible that she's all over the map because she's TRYING to improve our relationship while she can, just in case, and doesn't really know how? Or, is she making an effort to not look so awful in front of my aunt and uncle? Or, is she so involved in being sick that she doesn't have the energy to devote to being nasty that she usually expends? Only time will tell; we'll be seeing alot of each other in the next month while the relatives are here, which we haven't done in many years, and it'll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Surgery update 

Here's the big news: CLEAN LYMPH NODES!!

Here's the whole story:

We got to my mother's room about 10 minutes after she'd been brought in from recovery; we would have been there 45 minutes earlier, but my husband made us late as always, using one of his favorite ploys, dragging his feet until we were a little bit late and then insisting he had to take a shower, grrrrrrrrr. Anyways, she was groggy but apparently ok; the nurses hadn't been told anything, so one of them went off to initiate the protracted procedure to get the surgeon on the phone.

There was more to be concerned over than previously posted about, because last night my mother belatedly revealed another couple of news flashes; 2 new lumps had come out that didn't feel "owie" like the lipomas (harmless fatty skin tumors) and thus were suspect, and there'd been a lump for years near the site of the tumor that they'd decided to remove as well since it was right in the same area and better safe than sorry... there wasn't much cause for worry about the latter, but if the former were new cancer that'd obviously be VERY bad. Finally, the doctor was on the line, and, after several minutes of the nurses fumbling around trying to find a working phone and a working place to plug it into, I was talking to the person with the answers. She told me that:

1) The surgery went smoothly.

2) The 2 new lumps WERE lipomas, NOT cancer.

3) The old lump was just a fatty mass.

4) The lymph nodes were clean, which means that the cancer is very unlikely to have spread beyond the tumor.

5) They still had to test "the margins," which seems to mean checking the extra tissue that was removed from around the tumor to see if it contains any cancer cells; we won't know the results of that one for about a week.

6) The reconstructive surgery should lead to a fairly normal-looking breast once it's healed, but it'll be noticeably smaller than the other one, so she'll need to either wear a pad in that side of her bra to balance them out or have further plastic surgery to even them out; she won't like that, and I don't think she knows, so she hasn't been told that part of it yet.

Another thing I learned today is that someone who has surgery and doesn't have anyone to come in and help them is in for a rough time; my mother was too weak to do anything for herself the whole 6 hours we were there, and if I hadn't been there she would have been desperately thirsty with a glass of ice chips within view that she couldn't get any of... the modern torture of Tantalus (who was cursed to be eternally thirsty and standing in water that receded if he tried to drink it). In addition, to fight the looming threat of pneumonia, she was supposed to use this device that you suck air through every 15 minutes, and she wouldn't have been able to do that unassisted either. Since she couldn't think clearly enough to page a nurse, and the nurses were disinclined to leave the gossip session at their station to wander over when paged in any case, she'd have been in bad shape with everything from getting more pain meds to going to the bathroom; we couldn't even get her some juice without 1st my aunt, and then I (who's willing to be far less polite) marching down there and standing over them to pressure them into getting out of their chairs.

There were FOUR us there to supposedly be helping her out; realistically, the men weren't expected to do much besides run the occasional errand, but my mother's sister had flown a long way to be there... and guess who did 99% of the work the entire time? While my aunt either hovered around or was with the guys in the hallway, I fed my mother a constant stream of ice chips, adjusted her ice packs and blankets (neither of which stayed in place for more than 30 seconds at a time although she was barely moving), coaxed her into using the air-sucking thing, and tried to make cheerful conversation.

My mother didn't seem to be suffering much at 1st, but when she started getting some more pain we had a struggle with her because she was hesitant about taking more painkillers, for fear they'd make her queasy; she only gave in after 2 nurses told her that she'd have to take a bigger dose if she waited until the pain got worse. She was brave about choosing to be helped out of bed in the lengthy process necessary to get her into the bathroom with all the tubes and wires in her rather than using a bedpan, though, I've gotta give her that.

At one point, she complained that her head felt hot; I put a hand on it, and her hair (it's grown back a couple of inches already, amazingly) was soaked with sweat in the back. I sent my husband to arm-twist a nurse into bringing a fresh pillow to replace the soggy one, and got a bunch of paper towels from the bathroom to try to dry my mother's hair. Because she can't shower for a couple of days, I asked her if she wanted me to get wet towels and wash off as much sweat as I could, and she was able to hold her head up long enough for me to do that and blot her dry again. When the nurse finally arrived with a new pillow, she airily informed us that this heavy sweating of the head is common after surgery; why we weren't told this, and why the nurses weren't checking for it so that action could be taken if it happened, remains a mystery. Luckily, *I* was there, and kept swapping the pillows regularly to keep her discomfort to a minimum.

Another shocker was that they explained to her how to order her dinner when she clearly wasn't really understanding, and then NEVER checked to make sure SOMEONE put her order in before the deadline; I try to convince myself that they made a call to verify that we had, but I can't make myself believe it. If she'd been there alone, even if they HAD ordered dinner for her she couldn't have eaten any of it without help; it took me the better part of an hour to feed it to her one tiny bit at a time, and you KNOW that no employee of that hospital was going to volunteer for something like that.

The choosing of the dinner items from the "clear liquids" menu that was approved for her to have was one of the few things my aunt made any attempt to participate in; she was more of a hindrance than a help, though, because she kept trying to get my mother to agree to have jello, which she doesn't much care for, when it was obvious to ME that a far better choice for her "semi-solid but really liquid, sort of" item was the fruit ice, since she'd complained repeatedly of how irritated her throat and roof of her mouth were from having the tube in there... since I have the greater force of personality, MY meal plan got agreed to, and I was proven right when my mother kept saying over and over how soothing the fruit ice was to all that abraded area.

When we finally left about 8PM to let her rest, she was still so groggy that if we didn't keep talking to or interacting with her she'd start fading in and out of awareness; it floors me to think that the original plan was for her to GO HOME today... since when do they send people home who can't keep their eyes open for more than a couple of minutes at a time? Even before we found out how slow her recovery from anesthesia would be, we were all horrified that they thought it was ok to send an elderly cancer patient home the same day of a fairly major surgery; they changed their plan, with no explanation given, last night, but even if they hadn't they obviously couldn't have sent her home anyways. She's supposed to be coming home tomorrow, but that'll depend on if she can move around on her own and so forth; there's no way to know in advance, so we'll just have to see.

Looking back on it, the scariest moment of the day was when I 1st got to her room and looked in and saw her; I honestly didn't recognize her until she croaked "hi." I'd never seen her without the wig, which closely matches how she's worn her hair for years, and was unprepared to see her with hair that was not only very short but GRAY (she's always colored it). I also hadn't seen her without a full face of makeup in a while (which was significant both because heavy makeup makes a big difference and because her eyebrows haven't grown back much yet), and certainly NEVER with her face all slack like that... my husband later said that he'd been surprised too, because it didn't look like her at all. As time passed, her face regained its mobility and normal contours, but it was still like looking at a vaguely familiar stranger rather than a family member.

It was a long, exhausting day, but she's past the worst of it... assuming she doesn't get an infection, pneumonia or some other complication. Once she's fully recovered from the surgery, she'll have radiation to, hopefully, knock out any stray cancer cells that might have escaped detection; for now, though, she's going to spend a couple of weeks healing and resting.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send her some positive thoughts.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I KNEW my mother had been quiet for too long 

I hadn't heard from my mother since we took her out for a belated Mother's Day dinner before one of her chemo sessions (over 2 months ago); as I've said before, unlike most people with cancer (stage 3 breast cancer, for the benefit of new readers), she hasn't shown any urge to clutch tighter to her family... in fact, we've been hearing LESS from her since she was diagnosed, which in general is fine with me (there's no love or even like lost between us), but at this juncture means that I periodically get blind-sided with a bunch of major news at once. Here's what I learned today:

1) In part because she "flunked her blood tests" twice and couldn't keep up the optimal flow of chemo, her tumor, which had at one point gotten so small that you had to feel around for it, started growing explosively; it's already back up to 2 cm.

2) With chemo now worthless, the next step is to remove the tumor; if it reaches 3 cm again she'll be unable to have the lumpectomy and would lose that breast, AND would have to have a skin graft, so the surgery has to be done right away. They originally tried to tell her that August 8th was the earliest day they could take her, but she refused to accept that, since at the rate the tumor's growing that could easily be too long a wait; for once in her life she used that big mouth of hers for a good purpose, and made a stink about it until they discovered miraculously that they could take her on Tuesday... yes, this coming Tuesday.

3) My aunt and uncle told her out of the blue (but over a week ago, it turns out, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) that they're flying out here the day of her surgery, with the intention of staying at least 2 weeks. Not that I won't be happy to see them, as they're among my better relatives, BUT:

a) Since I live close to my mother's house, where they'll be staying, they'll of course expect to be coming over to MY house.

b) Said house, having had no visitors since January, has reached the level of maximum clutter and filth (my husband refuses to clean any of his mess except for company, and I refuse to be his maid); in particular, my beige carpet is BLACK in the traffic areas (because my husband never wipes his feet), which means we have to do the Rug Doctor this weekend, starting as soon as we're up TOMORROW.

c) So, when I got off the phone with my mother at nearly midnight, we had to shrug off our exhaustion and start a frenzied cleanup of all the piles of junk on the carpet so that it can be vacuumed and ready to go as soon as possible on Saturday.

4) She'd been trying to get a call through since early yesterday to tell me the news, but had been getting "weird noises" and been hung up on either without the answering machine coming on or with it only partway through the outgoing message.

a) That's right; we could've had all of yesterday and today's evenings to be cleaning up if she could've gotten through.

b) And WHY couldn't she get through? If you're a regular, you know that my husband's to blame; he'd used one of our computers to send a fax and had never quit out of the program, so it was answering the phone, sometimes right away and sometimes shortly after the machine picked up... 2 crucial days LOST because he's too STUPID to turn things off once he's done with them.

5) Oh, and brace yourself for this one; the living will, which would include all the medical instructions and guidelines we might need if something goes wrong, and that she agreed over 6 MONTHS ago had to be done right away, never got done. I made it clear that it was grossly unfair to leave her sister and I with no clue as to her wishes, and possibly with conflicting ideas as to what should be done (what are we supposed to do, flip a coin?), and told her to make time to do it over the weekend... but she probably won't, of course.


As you can imagine, between the fast-approaching surgery and the explosive squaring away of my home required by the equally fast-approaching arrival of relatives (which could be interrupted at any time if we have to go help my mother clean HER house and set it up for guests), my stress level is sky-high; as always under circumstances like these, my husband took the earliest opportunity to be as much of an @sshole as possible... which is about as wise as poking an enraged and unchained Rottweiler with a stick, but he hasn't got a shred of common sense to his name. He had a headset on with noxious punk music blasting into it, he was standing by the loudly filling washing machine, the TV was on and the air conditioner was running, so naturally it was necessary for me to raise my voice somewhat for him to be able to hear the instructions I was giving him about the pile of junk that he was moving to a different spot on the floor rather than picking up; he looked at me, with my neck cords and eyeballs bulging from blood pressure that felt like it was nearing quadruple digits, and decided it was necessary to incite the following exchange:

Him: {with a snide tone} Scream, scream, scream.
Me: {with eyes beginning to turn into flames} You'd better not start in with the disrespectful commentary; you know perfectly well that you're incapable of cleaning up without step by step instructions, so pay attention.
Him: You've got to scream about everything.
Me: Shut up!! If you haven't got anything constructive to say about the task at hand, keep your lip buttoned.
Him: You...
Him: {suddenly forgot all of his smart-@ss comments}

Just ONCE, I'd like to be able to dive into a cleanup, work briskly through it and finish it up without having to rave like a maniac; sadly, my many years with my husband have taught me that he'll continue lipping off and otherwise acting like a sullen 13 year old until he has that reminder of what happens when he plays the "let's mess with her when she's stressed" game.


Anyways; on behalf of my mother, if you'd send out some "get through surgery alive and have clean lymph nodes" type thoughts in whatever form your religion or spiritual path dictates, that'd make her happy... she liked the idea that I'd be posting about her and people all over the world would wish her well.

Because family members that I haven't seen in years will be here, and we'll be spending alot of our limited free time with them, my blogging schedule might get messed up, and/or some of my entries might be tiny ones made largely to keep my toe in the water; this won't be the end of the world or anything, but I figured I should let my regulars know in advance.

This is gonna be a loooooooooooong weekend...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Enough already with the heavy posts 

Since my recent posts have all been on the serious and intense side (not to mention longer than usual, which means alot on THIS blog), I figured it was time to share some more light-hearted stuff with you:

I saw the wildest thing on Showtime, called "Mail Order Wife," the blurb for which was "A filmmaker documents the lives of a chubby doorman and his mail-order bride from Burma"; my advice is for you to not only watch this (rent it if you don't get Showtime), but to do so withOUT seeking any further information on it... the joy of it is in the unexpected things that happen, and you'll spoil it for yourself if you cheat and look it up. It starts off a little slow, but stick with it, because it really gets good and stays solid to the end.

How's your knowledge of American history? You don't normally get anything for remembering that stuff, but now there's an exception; a site where, if you can answer questions on this topic correctly, you can get a hot "teacher" of your gender of choice to strip (all the way down to FULL FRONTAL NUDITY, so if you don't like that don't visit the site), and at least in the case of the male option it's worth a look-see:


Don't feel bad if it takes you a few tries to "win"; some of those later questions are VERY obscure... but the payoff was, er, BIG.

If you're the patriotic type, or at least support our military, you can go here


a wonderful site funded by Xerox with the following purpose:

"The mission of Let's Say Thanks is to provide a way for individuals across the country to recognize U.S. soldiers stationed overseas. By submitting a message through this site you will send a free personalized postcard greeting to a deployed soldier.

The postcards, depicting patriotic scenes and hometown images, were selected from a pool of entries from children across the country.

All you have to do is click on your favorite design and write a personal message to a soldier. The postcards are then printed on the Xerox iGen3® Digital Production Press and mailed in care packages by military support organization Give2TheTroops®."

It only takes a couple of minutes, and it'd mean so much to the recipient, so I encourage you to give it a go; if you're the kind of person that'd think it was clever and amusing to send a nasty message, be aware that they specify that all cards are checked before they're used.

If you have a budding artist aged 6-14, they can submit their artwork to possibly be used for future cards; imagine being able to tell everyone you know that your child/grandchild's artwork is featured on a website and going overseas to exotic countries.

I KNOW that today isn't a slow news day, so can anyone explain the media hysteria that Bush, a grown man, said "sh*t" in what he thought was a private conversation with another grown man? Are we a nation of 5 year olds sniggering at every "dirty word"? I went to CNN.com looking for the latest on the awful Israel/Lebanon situation, and found the front page dominated by a huge photo capture from the clip that includes Bush saying a word every one of us uses (as part of a conversation in which he demonstrated that he's VERY well informed on the issues, by the way, contrary to the claims of many); if the POPE had been caught saying it, that might have been vaguely newsworthy, but any adult not supposed to be an exalted religious personage should reasonably be EXPECTED to use curse words, especially when discussing an emotionally-charged issue... and seeing this made a far bigger deal of than the violence in the Mideast, and having to really LOOK to find the story on the tsunami that's killed at least 300 people in Indonesia... I guess that doesn't really count as "light-hearted," it's more like "you've gotta either laugh or cry," but I wanted to comment on it while it's still timely to do so.

What would you do if someone sold you a laptop on eBay, and it arrived broken... and with all the seller's private files still on it, including his foot fetish porn? If you were a resourceful and vengeful sort, you might do something like this


I'm not a novice, so I'm aware that, since there's no proof, there's no reason to believe that what's on that site is what it claims to be... but if you suspend your disbelief, you'll find it hilarious, because it COULD happen, someone COULD sell a used computer without remembering to wipe all their personal stuff off of it, and the recipient COULD do something just like this with it. And if it IS true? About 3 and a half MILLION people have had a laugh at the dishonest seller's expense; can you imagine his reaction if he ever stumbled across that site?

My tax return FINALLY went out today, on the last day allowed by the extension; if you're a regular reader, you've probably guessed that bungling by my husband is behind this disaster. We've got a complicated return because of our investments, and he's secretive about his (because he doesn't want me to see how stupidly he manages them), so HE has to do our taxes; with total consistency, he waits until the last possible instant to do them. This year, we discovered on April 17th that the tax form from one of his brokers was missing (I try to grab as many of his tax forms as possible, but he tends to sort his statements and such out from the mail and toss them, UNopened, to the 4 corners of his study), so we had to get an extension... and I made my displeasure known, believe me. All we needed to finish the taxes was ONE # from the missing form; he SWORE that he'd get that one #, or a copy of the form it was on, right away, and petulantly criticized my assertion that he was going to drag it out for the full 3 months of the extension. Three months minus a few days of non-stop verbal and written reminders later, you guessed it... no #, no form. When he started commenting that it wasn't an emergency because we could get ANOTHER extension over this ONE #, I went into overdrive, and believe me, you do NOT want to be at ground zero when I've officially "had enough"; with great reluctance and ill grace, he FINALLY got the # and got going on the taxes.

Every year, there are at least 3 glaring, major errors in the tax forms once he's completed them, assembled them and announced that he's gone over everything 100 times. This year, they were:

1) He hadn't attached the W2's, because allegedly you didn't have to last year; it said to attach them on the cover letter TurboTax prints out, on the front page of the 1040, and almost certainly on the computer screen during the TurboTax process, but somehow he'd missed all of that... that's why I go over the returns with a microscope every year. This error, although HUGE, should have been trivial to rectify, but of course the W2's were NOT with the other tax paperwork (I should NEVER have let him keep custody of that stuff all these months); a frenzied and protracted search ensued to locate them.

2) While shuffling aimlessly through one of his heaps of papers to procrastinate from doing necessary tasks, he found, purely by accident, the confirmation letter for this year's IRA; it was UNopened as always, but he discovered that that's what it was because he inexplicably opened it... only to find that he'd gotten a Roth IRA rather than the regular kind as he'd somehow convinced himself he had. Because the tax impacts of the different types of IRA's are in fact different, he had to redo the taxes... on the day they were DUE, keep in mind.

3) When he was forced to admit to this as the reason I had to sign the returns again, I, with intuition based on my many years with him, asked "But you DID enter MY IRA as a Roth, right?"

Him: No, because your IRA's NOT a Roth.
Me: Yes it IS, you MORON.
Him: No it's NOT.
Me: Yes it IS, just like EVERY year.
Him: No, your IRA's have NEVER been Roths.
Me: Are you out of your frigging MIND?
Him: No, YOU are.

Naturally, my IRA tax form wasn't with the other forms either, grrrrrrrrrrr, so ANOTHER frenzied and protracted search ensued; needless to say, my 2005 IRA, and ALL my others, were of course Roths... and so he had to redo the taxes AGAIN. On the day they were DUE.

As I said before, our tax return DID go out today... but barely, just barely. I've had a GREAT deal to say to my husband about all of this, accented by language that'd make Bush BLUSH (sometimes it comes in handy to have had a military father)... and I've made it clear that there was going to be a blog entry about it, so that people all over the world could see what an incompetent idiot he is.

When you can go through stuff like this with someone and you don't throw them and their junk into the street, and their body doesn't wash up on the beach in pieces, you know it's love, lol.

Friday, July 14, 2006

More stupid eBay sellers 

Before I dive into the topic, I've gotta touch on a group of stupid people who AREN'T eBay sellers; specifically, some of those who commented on various blogs about the nauseating behavior of the woman described in my last post. Several days after the scandal broke, while most folks were still justifiably fuming, a few morons actually had the gall to start saying that it was time to drop the matter and stop criticizing the guilty party. Say WHAT?!! Since when are people supposed to cater to an evildoer by only giving them their well-deserved rebukes for a limited # of days? *I* maintain that just the opposite is true, that people should hammer evil types for as long as possible, to make them and their fellows think twice before committing their next ugly acts. Granted, if people were still talking about an incident of online misbehavior MONTHS later, that'd be indicative of them being obsessive and not having lives, but what better target for them to focus their energies on than a bad person?

If you're thinking that the "mean comments" should be brought to an end because most people don't want to see negativity like that when they come online, you've got a case... IF you make a habit of calling for a halt in the OPPOSITE situation, when evil people target innocent victims; do you? When you see posts on any sort of online forum where insults, foul language, personal comments and general abuse are being launched at someone, NOT in retaliation for wrongdoing but just because the attackers don't like them, do you always jump in and insist that the belligerent posts cease immediately? No? It's alot easier to demand that the good guys shut up than it is to confront the bad guys, isn't it? What's RIGHT to do isn't influenced by what's easy, though; since no one has the b@lls to defend the innocent, they need to refrain from defending the guilty as well.

Ok, on to eBay sellers. One of the most annoying categories in this genre are the ones whose auctions make it look like you can get an item at a smokin' price... until you realize that the shipping is a ridiculous amount that makes the item NOT a good deal, perhaps even a terrible deal. My initial reaction to auctions like this was that they were meant to trick unwary buyers into rushing eagerly into making purchases without noticing the shipping (and so how much they were actually having to pay), especially with "Buy It Now" auctions; I'm sure this IS part of what's going on in most cases, but my husband, who, unlike me, has sold a few things on eBay, filled me in on an even bigger reason that unscrupulous sellers charge ridiculous shipping amounts... to pay as little to eBay as possible by making the vast majority of the total price be for shipping (since eBay only takes a % of the item price, NOT of the shipping and "handling" costs). EBay has known about this forever, and has always issued vague threats against those who did it, but never followed up on them, as evidenced by the rampant abuse of this fee-avoidance loophole; at LONG last, they reported in an email sent to all members last month that they're taking action, the result of which has been... no reduction whatsoever in this kind of misbehavior, as far as I can tell.

Since this issue involves a massive loss of revenue to eBay, it's reasonable to believe their claim that they're starting to enforce the rules about what constitutes fair shipping and handling (although why they waited this long to hire a few more low-paid workers to do so is beyond me-eBay itself is bursting at the seams with stupidity, let's face it)... so why aren't the SELLERS taking it seriously? Oh, I'm sure SOME are mending their ways, but it doesn't take much to find plenty who are still doing it; when I did a search for keyrings a few days ago, for example, I discovered literally hundreds of auctions where the shipping for a tiny little item that could be sent in a padded envelope with a couple of stamps was $10, $15, even *$20*... and I don't mean shipping from other countries, I mean within the USA. Because my search was sorted to have the cheapest items 1st, and they were all charging 1¢-10¢ as the official prices of their items, I went through PAGES of results without finding a single auction that wasn't a shipping scam; I saw RED, and so started reporting them, using the link at the bottom of each auction page that says "Report this item"... which wasn't as large of a task as it seems, since it turns out that just a handful of sellers was involved, each with a huge # of items.

I just now did that same search, and guess what; ALL of those auctions are GONE, which means that not only is eBay actually enforcing this, they're doing so at a speed that's in wild contrast to their usual snail's pace. I don't know what eBay did to those sellers, whether they just made them re-do each auction with proper shipping and prices or if they were penalized in some way, but at the very least this has to go on their records, so that if they pull anything else it'll show that they're repeat offenders; it was pretty stupid of them to risk not being able to do business on eBay over a tiny thing like keyrings, don't you think? The other sellers who continue to flout the rules are equally lacking in brain power; I suppose that, like most stupid people, they'll have to learn the hard way.

Here's an example of a different kind of eBay seller stupidity: I saw an auction for a cute stuffy, which, despite being claimed to be in totally clean condition, had some dark brown specks on its nose that sure looked like dirt; I wrote to the seller asking if they were lint or stains. She responded:

"Hello! I took some better photos of the item and re-listed it. Sorry about that!"

There was no need to re-list the stuffie, and the photos she already had were crystal-clear and didn't need re-doing, but that wasn't the stupid part; that came when I saw the new auction... with pics that weren't anywhere near as close up, such that the spots weren't noticeable unless you knew where to look, accompanied by text that still claimed that the item was in clean condition. I wrote back and pointed out that using pics that didn't show the spots as clearly did NOT handle the issue, and asked again whether what I saw was removable or stains; finally, she admitted that there WERE "2 spots" on the nose, and altered her new auction to include that info, although she did NOT add any of the better pics. The REALLY stupid thing is that there are at least EIGHT tightly grouped spots, and her winning bidder, if any, is in for an unpleasant surprise... and so is the seller, if that buyer gives the sort of reflexive negative feedback that's common for this sort of situation. (Yes, I DID tell her that she should give full disclosure and use the original pics, or try and clean the stuffie's nose and see if she can reduce the spotting, but she hasn't replied to me or altered her auction page-no surprise there.)

What is so flipping difficult about examining an item carefully and reporting its flaws (if any) accurately on an auction page? Or about cleaning each thing thoroughly so that it looks its best in the pics and brings the best possible price? I can't tell you how many times I've seen an auction where the seller said something like "it just needs some cleaning up" or "there's one faint little spot that I'm sure will come out"... just CLEAN the damned thing already, figure out what its actual condition is, and THEN list it!!

The stupidest eBay seller for July award doesn't go to the clueless stuffie lady, though; it goes to the man I bought a nifty decorative doodad from early last month. When a couple of weeks passed after we'd paid him without the item showing up, I sent him a polite message to nudge him about shipping it; he didn't reply, but they usually aren't businesslike enough to, so I didn't think anything about it... until ANOTHER 2 weeks had passed without the item's arrival, at which point I sent a much LESS polite message. His response was that it had been delivered A MONTH AGO; he included the tracking # with which to verify at the FedEx site that they'd left the box on my porch on the date he'd given me, and said that he was SURE he'd sent an email with that info the 1st time I'd contacted him (instead of using the eBay message system as I had, as he was supposed to)... that's right, when a buyer asked him where their package was LONG after he'd thought they'd gotten it, instead of scrambling to sort things out like any sane person would, his reaction was to supposedly toss off an "it was already delivered" message (as if it was possible that I'd just FORGOTTEN I'd received it!!) and then never follow up in any way. He did NOT contact FedEx to see if they'd had my address wrong, or had gotten the package back, or who knows what else, and, when he didn't get a reply to his mythical email, he did nothing about that, either; he must have somehow thought that my silence meant that, what, I'd suddenly remembered that I had the item, or had shrugged it off and decided to accept the loss without a whimper, or.... ???!!! What possible train of thought could he have had that told him that he didn't need to pursue this issue with me any further? How STUPID do you have to be to find out that a buyer didn't receive an item you'd thought had been delivered and NOT DO A SINGLE THING ABOUT IT?!! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

The seller's brain-dead-ness caused a two week delay in trying to find where my item had ended up; that's a LONG time for a package to be floating around on one's property, or maybe a neighbor's property, during which it can be stolen, hauled off with the garbage, knocked into the street and run over and who knows what else... and believe me, I made that point clear to him. He claimed he'd refund my $, but that 1st he'd see if he could replace the item; he was supposed to call me last Monday to tell me which way we were going. In the meantime, I made up fliers with all the relevant info and my husband taped them up around the neighborhood, so that if anyone had had the package delivered to them and either not had the correct addy to know who to give it to, or had been procrastinating so long they'd forgotten about it, they'd bring it over... but days passed with no one coming forward with it.

Monday came and went with no word from the seller; since Tuesday was the 4th, I let it go, then Wednesday I figured it was the day after a holiday... by Thursday, though, 3 days after he was supposed to contact me, I was all ready to send a VERY pointed note. I brought up the message system, and... I heard the quiet inner voice say "no," so I didn't write anything. Again, Thursday evening; "no." And on Friday; "no." AND GUESS WHAT SHOWED UP ON MY BACK STOOP ON FRIDAY EVENING?

I still can't frigging believe it; the disappearance of the package, the seller's stupidity, the lack of response from the neighbors, the inexplicable insistence of the inner voice that I hold off on haranguing the seller, those things were surreal enough, but a week after we did the fliers, a MONTH after it was delivered, when I'd given up all hope of ever getting it, it shows up?!! :-O

There was no note with it, and we never got a phone call, so we don't know who had it. The box had been opened, nearly shredded in fact (the item was intact with all its parts and wrappings, luckily), my addy was correct and perfectly clear on the label... why did it take so long for whoever'd had it to hand it over, and why was it done anonymously? In theory, someone could've been on a really long vacation and just collected the package, which had been on THEIR porch, that day, opened it, realized belatedly that it wasn't theirs, and... but what sort of person would just dump the box at my door without re-sealing it for safety and leaving a note with it? This is a well-to-do area, and our neighbors weren't raised in barns, so... our best guess is that one of the rotten teenagers that lives around here and is responsible for a steady stream of petty vandalisms stole it, and then after the fliers were put up either their parents or a friend saw one, remembered that the thief had an item matching the description in their room, and made them give it back. I HOPE it wasn't parents that let the thief get away with not speaking to us personally and admitting their wrongdoing, but with today's lax parents anything's possible; although, as always, my preference is for evildoers to suffer, I'm so excited to have my item that I can't fret too much about it.

And the seller's response when told the amazing news? Nothing. After all his screwups and broken promises, wouldn't you think he'd make more of an effort, at least send a few words expressing his relief, if for no other reason than because I haven't left my feedback for the transaction yet? Well, that's typical of stupid people; they're consistent if nothing else.

If YOU sell on eBay, and don't want to recognize yourself in one of these rants, make sure your brain's in the full "on" position when you handle your auctions; it's not rocket science to create honest auction pages such that there'll be no surprises for your buyers, to chose a delivery service that won't lead to packages floating around the buyers' neighborhoods, and to deal quickly, professionally and fairly with any problems that arise. That reminds me; there's a seller who sold me a supposedly "perfect condition" shirt that has an indelible stain right in front that I still have to deal with, sigh...

Monday, July 10, 2006

We interrupt your normal programming to bring you this important message 

Evil people follow amazingly consistent patterns, especially in cyberspace; I've come across an example so extreme that I've decided to post about it instead of my intended topic, in the hopes that folks who aren't familiar with these patterns will be able to understand them better with the help of a real-life "story" whose full details they can see for themselves (not that the internet is real life, but you know what I mean)... and thus be better able to spot them in the future, to the detriment of the wrongdoers involved.

I've often described the behavior of online cockroaches, but I've never pointed you directly at one... and I'm not going to now, because my instinct tells me that this scumbag is eagerly doing searches for her name with one hand on the mouse and, pardon the vulgarity, one hand in her groin, but I WILL show you where to go to read up on what happened, and these places will give you the psycho's full name, the URL to her blog, and the whole disgusting story... but be warned, the posts from this despicable woman, most of which you'll find copied in the tangle of blogs these URL's will lead you to, include comments with sexual references to a 2 year old child, both of a threatening nature and suggesting incest, so you might want to skip reading the gory details if that'll bother you (I'll summarize it all so you'll know the basics of what occurred without having to subject yourself to it):





Here are the LOWlights of what this sick, SICK woman took time out of her life to do: She started by trolling on the blog of someone with differing political views than hers; that alone would make her a cockroach. She made personal comments about the blogger. And then, about his wife, complete with foul language. And then... reaching a level of repulsiveness that I'd never seen in all my years online... she made multiple posts with sexual references to his TODDLER, and comments along the lines of "Your full name is John Smith and you live in City X, right? I hope no one kidnaps and kills your kid," which most people have rightfully seen as being threatening.

Excuse me while I GAG.

The # and content of her posts was so monstrous that people actually started protesting; how often does THAT happen? (Not nearly often enough, sadly.) She responded as attackers who get a little of their own back always do; she started screaming that SHE was being attacked, trying to make out that SHE was the victim... but in an all too rare response, not just one but several people actually reminded her that SHE started it, and so was NOT the victim-I'm not counting on seeing THAT ever again, but it sure was nice to see this time.

As is also typical when a cockroach gets a little of their own back, she started claiming that she'd been THREATENED, but naturally didn't give the names of the alleged threateners, the URL's where the threats could be found, or copies of the threats. We're all too smart to believe any such accusations without PROOF, of course, but more important is what the act of making those claims tells us about the person making them; without exception, when someone starts telling you, with no details much less proof, that they've been threatened, not only have no such threats been made, but it's a sure sign that they themselves are wrongdoers... it's not just that they're lying, but that hard-core troublemakers use this specific ploy with eerie consistency (I'm still convinced there's a "How to Be a Cockroach" manual that they're all using). And one more useful tidbit; most of the time, the reason they've been thinking about threats in the 1st place is because they themselves have been making them... projection, again (see my last post), plus counting on observers having bad memories and being pitifully gullible.

Her next move was one that only the most evil cockroaches do; she claimed to have reported the nonexistent threats to the FBI. It's not that contacting the FBI is indicative in general of being evil, and I've seen no evidence that any of these people actually MADE any such reports in any case... plus, can you imagine the disgust and/or amusement of trained FBI agents upon getting a report that "people on a blog/forum/message board are being MEAN to me," even from someone who was an actual victim rather than an attacker? (I have sufficient faith in the FBI that I'm sure they can tell the difference)... it's that only people who are REALLY intent on doing as much evil as possible ever think to tell this particular lie; I don't know why, but I've seen it enough times to know that that's the way it works... maybe it's because only an evil person is STUPID enough to think that anyone believes they've made a report to the FBI, or if they did that the FBI would EVER get involved in an online fight? The salient point is; ANY time you see someone online claim that they've reported something to the FBI, and there isn't a link to where a person who clearly knows where they live has announced their intention to come to their home and kill them (or whatever) as proof that there's something valid TO report, you can be sure they're lying, and that they're the absolute lowest form of cockroach.

Did I mention that by this point in the uproar some unknown party had crashed the victim's site using "distributed denial of service attacks" (aka DDoS, "multiple compromised systems flooding the bandwidth of a targeted system," per Wikipedia), to add injury to insults? Was it the cockroach who did it, or did someone else do it to back her up? Oh, you don't think anyone could possibly side with a person who'd gone so far over the line into unacceptable behavior? Guess again; as is standard in these sorts of situations, a few misguided souls have in fact posted in her defense. One of them said that people are "rude" online all the time, and it's no big deal; since when is threatening a little boy "RUDE"? Another said that she didn't REALLY threaten the child, so it was ok to spew insults and filth, and... you get the picture. Sad to say, I've never seen a case, no matter how outrageous, where NO ONE spoke up for the evildoer; it's one of the scariest aspects of online life... especially given how rarely anyone speaks up for the VICTIMS.

Next on the agenda was the indifferently tossed-off "apology" that no one over the age of 5 would think was genuine... especially since it was followed, as always, by a bunch more abuse of the victim, in this case in the comment sections of multiple blogs. Why did she do it, then? Same reason cockroaches usually do it on those rare occasions that they get called on their bad behavior; so that they can say, "Well, I APOLOGIZED, so you can't say anything else about me, and [the victim] can't complain anymore"... yes, I know that's twisted, but not only do they truly believe that, their backers will chime in with agreement that, no matter what the attacker did before AND AFTER the "apology," having said it should absolve them from all guilt and force the victim and anyone supporting them to cease talking about it and, more to the point, cease giving the attacker their well-deserved butt-kicking for it. (This points up an easy way to tell good people from evil ones; good people understand that deliberate wrongdoers DESERVE retribution and don't protest it even if it's against themselves, whereas evil types believe that they and their fellows should get away with their deeds scot-free.)

The cockroach, who's apparently a PROFESSOR (couldn't you just CRY?), then announced that she'd RESIGNED from the university foolish enough to employ her, because people were emailing her boss about her behavior; yes, with the stupidity and arrogance typical of evil people, she was using her REAL NAME and other personal info on her site, never grasping that this could make it possible for people she'd abused and offended to get her where it hurts. She insisted that she was NOT forced to resign, that she just CHOSE to leave her job, to have no income and no good explanation for future prospective employers as to WHY she left; yeah, right. Then, she later said that she'd TRIED to resign but her boss had decided not to take any action until Monday; clearly, at least one of those stories has to be a lie, but there's no way to know which... it might well be BOTH, as she used the concept of her not working there anymore to tell people it was a waste of time to keep emailing her boss... sounds a little suspicious, doesn't it? The most terrifying comment from "her side" came in reference to the job thing; they said that she should "unresign," because she "just" had mental problems and hadn't done anything wrong... so she should return to TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE, subjecting them to her psychosis financed by tax dollars... !!! Would YOU want YOUR college-aged kid being taught by someone who thought making sexual suggestions about a 2 year old in a public forum was acceptable behavior and/or want to pay for her to do so with your taxes? Frankly, I think that particular commenter might be the ugliest-minded person out of the whole story, given that they came up with this lunatic suggestion without the mitigating circumstance of being out of their frigging MIND like the cockroach clearly is.

And last, but far from least, came her justification for her behavior; she said it was ok because her words were just words, and since soldiers were torturing children in Iraq (she specified that interrupting their access to fresh water counted as "torture") words didn't matter, and since the Republicans were responsible for the soldiers being in Iraq, and her victim was a Republican blogger, that somehow made it alright to heap threats and abuse on him. To give credit where it's due, most of the liberal bloggers who commented did NOT agree, and have condemned her actions... but not all, folks, not all, which should make each of us, regardless of our political beliefs, think long and hard about what level of "penalty" we think it's ok to drop on someone for the crime of disagreeing with us.

There's a happy ending of sorts to all this; as several bloggers pointed out, a variety of sites are archiving this entire incident, complete with the cockroach's full name and full quotes of her posts, so that for years to come, any time anyone Googles her, as prospective employers are doing more and more, the complete record of her disgusting behavior will be revealed... she's gonna be suffering the consequences of her inexcusable actions for a loooooong time, maybe even for the rest of her life. It's so rare for there to be real-life consequences for online evildoings... I'm gonna get serious enjoyment out of knowing that this particular lowlife is among their #.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Beware List, Part 2 

Here's installment #2 of my "beware list" (the 1st was on 5-31-06); I'm keeping the numbering the same as on the actual list rather than starting at #1 again, which I hope won't confuse anyone. I don't use the word "beware" lightly; these red flags indicate that the person waving them is either evil, sociopathic, a manipulator, heavily depressed or otherwise messed up, totally socially inept or just plain looking for trouble... and you're on the list of potential victims, possibly right at the top. People who are other than emotionally healthy and nice give lots of warnings before they unleash on you; if you recognize those warnings for what they are, you can keep from being screwed over. Therefore, beware of anyone who:

11) When you don’t know them well, makes you feel flattered by the way they seem to value your opinion, crave your input, and eagerly pay you glowing compliments (with the obvious exception of prospective romantic partners).

Only sociopaths and manipulators do this sort of thing; emotionally healthy, decent people do NOT make this kind of extreme effort to gain favor from strangers (or anyone else)... they count on their personalities to get them liked. This ploy is especially favored by followers when they want to get close to leaders; it's NOT an expression of true admiration, although they DO usually feel some, but is a setup that'll allow them to exert indirect control over the leader later on by withdrawing the lavish approval if things aren't going their way.

12) Used to be the center of attention in a social circle that YOU have now become the center of attention of.

People tend to see their status in a group, even a group of total strangers online, as a precious possession, and if you "take" it they'll react as if you'd stolen some physical object they value; it doesn't matter if you made no actual effort to "take their place," or were totally unaware that they HAD that place, or are mature enough to have neither noticed nor cared what level of attention you were getting from the group in comparison to others, they'll see your replacement of them as the "group favorite" as an aggressive act and react accordingly... or, more likely, react like a petulant, belligerent child, which they'll express in a vicious campaign to "get you."

13) Is "inferior" to you in an area of skill or knowledge that they base their self worth, or, worse, sense of who they are, on.

If someone is obsessively proud of being, say, a great tennis player, especially if it's the main or ONLY thing they have to be proud of, and you enter their social sphere and demonstrate that you're a BETTER tennis player, it's likely that they'll try to counteract your "superiority" by making the other people in the group dislike you, or at least believe some negative things about you... and this goes x10 if they saw themselves as the BEST tennis player and/or see themselves as being JUST a great tennis player rather than as someone with lots of terrific qualities one of which is being great at tennis. It doesn't matter if you've been nothing but nice to them and have no shred of competitiveness with them; your mere existence threatens the very core of their being, and few things will make a person react with more ferocity and ugliness.

14) Can't, or won't, show courtesy to those they dislike or disagree with.

While it's unrealistic to expect perfect politeness in the midst of a heated argument, in general we expect anyone older than about 12 or so to be able to interact with people they dislike, or have disagreed with about even serious issues, in a civil manner; the smooth functioning of both the business and social worlds depends on it. Anyone who fails to do this, especially if they find it necessary to make nasty comments to or about the other person rather than staying aloof and maintaining snippy silence, is either woefully immature, thoroughly messed up, or just an evil, vindictive person... a bad bet any way you look at it.

15) Can't keep track of the order of events between them and people they dislike... or PRETENDS they can't.

This normally takes the form of them attacking someone and then later on claiming that the other person started it; when faced with the actual sequence of events, they'll flat-out deny that it happened that way, or deny that their initial attack was really an attack (no matter how abusive, foul-mouthed or otherwise blatant it was), or claim that some innocent thing the other person did or said earlier was in fact the first attack. Another common form is when they take a dislike to someone based on nothing valid, consistently treat that person badly rather than behaving like an adult, and then, when the victim eventually does something back, claim that THAT event is what caused them to dislike that person in the first place. Regardless of which version of this is used, the reasons behind it are the same; they're either genuinely convinced that things happened the way they're telling them, in which case they're seriously sick, or they're faking it as a manipulation of the victim and observers, in which case they're a sociopath who's putting a great deal of effort into their evildoings... this is a particularly scary one whichever the reason is.

16) Accuses people they dislike or have recently "fought" with of having done ridiculous things to them in retribution, although there's no evidence whatsoever that those people did those things or are even capable of that sort of childish behavior.

Granted, there are plenty of spiteful, vindictive people in the world, and it's perfectly reasonable to assume that they're acting according to their natures; what I'm talking about is when someone's sure that a NORMAL, mature adult is acting that way without proof. For example; 2 co-workers have an argument, and when one of them goes out to their car a little later on they notice that one of the tires is looking low... and storm back into the office and accuse their erstwhile combatant of letting the air out of it. They instantly blame that person rather than overdue vehicular maintenance because of that most enlightening of psychological phenomena, "projection"; in other words, they're so vengeful and adolescent that THEY would act that way, so they "project" that onto other people and assume they'll act that way too... and you need to REMEMBER that they would act that way, because they WILL sooner or later (probably sooner).

17) Is melodramatic about the negative aspects of their life.

This a sure sign of their using, exaggerating, and even inventing bad things that happen to them in order to get attention; only people too messed up to grasp that friendship does NOT come from pity, or to even try for friendship because they think pity is the best they can hope for, do this.

18) Makes an issue of (supposedly) being nice, sensitive or honest.

People who truly possess those qualities never feel the need to point out that they possess them, much less to KEEP pointing it out; it's like being a lady, or powerful... if you have to TELL people you are, then you AREN'T. Anyone using this tactic is either a manipulator making sure you notice when they're being nice (etc), or a depressive trying to make a case for how great they are to persuade people to like them.

19) Complains constantly.

We all have unfortunate things to deal with, and we all gripe about them; however, there's a culturally understood # and total length of complaints that we're allowed to utter within any given time frame, beyond which people will get ticked off if our mouths are still running. Normally, although we don't consciously know where that cutoff point is, we instinctively stop grousing before we reach it; those who are either unaware of that cutoff point, or don't think it needs to apply to THEM, are selfish, love being negative, or are just too socially clueless to realize what they're doing.

20) Is a “clinging vine."

People who don't know what to do, say or even THINK until someone tells them, guides then step by step, and encourages them all the way, can seem great (at first) to folks who want to feel needed, and can make you feel so sorry for them that you try to "rescue" or "fix" them; the reality is that they don't need your help, it's just a game they play to get an endless flow of attention... and when the inevitable day comes that you fail to give them 110%, they'll turn on you like rabid dogs.

Reading over what I've written, it looks like maturity is a big issue with this batch; yet another reason why we should take this unpopular virtue into consideration when we decide who to allow into our lives. Anyways, I hope these "bewares" will help you dodge a few bullets; I'll post the next bunch in a few weeks.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why do liars keep lying? 

Why? Because lying is one of the most successful strategies for manipulating people. Why? Because it's a rare person who doesn't swallow whole virtually anything they're told. Why? Because even though we've all been lied to a thousand times, one of the glaring flaws of human nature is that we never learn anything from it, never learn to question the veracity of things people tell us.

If you're thinking, "Oh no, *I* don't believe everything I'm told," ask yourself this; when was the last time someone who you do NOT already have pegged as a habitual liar told you something that did NOT contradict information you already had and you reacted by doubting the story? If you're like the overwhelming majority of people, unless one of those exceptions applies you just take information in without asking for proof, or wondering if any exists, or even consciously thinking that without proof you shouldn't accept what you've been told as being factual; is it any wonder that the evildoers of the world consistently have lies as part of their modi operandi when they can use them to play people like organs, making them believe nearly anything with almost no effort?

The anonymity of the online world magnifies the worst aspects of human behavior, and lying is no exception; the internet is powerfully attractive to liars, because it allows them to reach a far greater audience, and also to take advantage of another unfortunate lapse in most people's judgment, the tendency to automatically believe anything they see in print. As a result, there's an astounding amount of disinformation in cyberspace; much of it's related to politics, news and celebrities, but some of it's just sick, pitiful people who get a thrill out of convincing folks that they're call girls or battered women or anything that'll get them the sort of attention they can't get in real life or with their real personas.

There's more to it than that, though, and I've been struggling for some time now to understand it; I've seen people lie successfully when to me it seemed like they were being far too blatant or ridiculous for listeners to react with anything but scorn and disbelief, and I've been at a loss as to how that could be. I saw a couple of bits of the explanation:

1) Have you ever heard the phrase "If you throw enough sh*t at a wall, some of it will stick"? If someone spews alot of BS, whether about 1 topic or many, *I* wouldn't believe ANYTHING they said, but it seems that most of the rest of humanity finds it necessary to believe some % of what a person says no matter how ridiculous or mean-spirited; perhaps it's related to the concept of "where there's smoke there's fire," and people can't believe on some level that the liar could be telling so MANY lies, that some of them MUST be true? Whatever it is, clearly the liars themselves understand it perfectly, and know instinctively to use it in cases where they don't have anything credible to say about a topic but still want to influence people's opinions.

2) People are frequently sure that a given thing is the total truth, often in complete contrast to reality, but apparently have a much harder time believing that something is a total LIE, no matter how outrageous it is; this explains why some liars tell monstrous lies instead of more modest, believable ones, because they intuitively grasp that they're planting a seed of doubt that will never fully die and might well eventually grow... but how do they know when a huge lie that creates doubt will be better for their purposes than a believable lie, or than a whole barrage of lies for that matter? How do they KNOW? Is it instinct? A skill developed over years of lying? Or is there some sort of analysis that one can do to judge this, that even an honest person could do if they knew the formula?

These 2 things led to me thinking about the Big Lie theory; as you probably learned in high school, this is basically the idea that if you say something over and over, with enough authority, people will eventually believe it... you can see how it ties in. I had an urge to look it up, and in doing so found an eye-opening quote:

"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes."

The person who said this is someone whose name you'll definitely recognize; can you guess who? Who's responsible for that insightful description of the psychology of lies, liars and their victims?

Everything in the quote has the ring of truth to me, and I was excited to make that leap forward in my understanding of this favored tool of evil people; dishonesty is so utterly foreign to me that I might not have ever figured it out on my own.

What can you do to protect yourself from being sucked in by these clever manipulations? The same things I always say:

1) Don't believe ANYTHING anyone you don't know and trust tells you without proof. You don't have to declare to yourself "I bet they're lying!!" every time someone says they had corn flakes for breakfast, but when they purport to be discussing more important topics, or, and this is the big one, giving you "inside info" about other people, get into the habit of appending "no proof, don't believe it" to your internal discourse on what they've said.

2) Be tough-minded about what you accept as proof; in particular, keep in mind that online it's virtually impossible to prove anything about anyone, so when people try to make grandiose claims about themselves, or ugly claims about others, every alarm in your head should go off. Don't think that a GROUP of people whose virtue you can't vouch for is more honest collectively than its members are separately, either; evil types never have any difficulty finding a bunch of their fellows to back them up in their troublemaking, for the sheer psychotic joy of doing wrong. REAL proof comes from your personal observations, from reliable factual records, and the testimony of people you're SURE you can trust... and that's IT.

3) Cultivate a conscious awareness of when tactics like the ones described above are being used on you, and FIGHT them; don't waver no matter how many unproven stories you're barraged with, don't let even the wildest tales make you suspect there might be some truth to them, and any time you find proof that something you previously believed was incorrect, accept that and resist backsliding.

Does that sound like alot of work? It is... and because not being fooled by liars doesn't feel particularly rewarding, most people won't even TRY... and THAT'S why liars are so overwhelmingly successful, and why they keep doing it.

Did you think I'd forgotten that I hadn't told you who that quote was from? Not a chance; I just didn't want to tell you before you had time to ponder it. The person whose dazzling comprehension of human nature was demonstrated earlier is... Adolf Hitler (it's from "Mein Kampf"). Surprised? You shouldn't be; no one without an extraordinary understanding of psychology, and the ability to use it skillfully of course, could possibly have accomplished what he did. Since evil types always seem to have an instinctive grasp of how to pull people's strings, it makes sense that someone who was EVIL would have that much better of a grasp; it's unfortunate that the rest of us are little better than children in OUR grasp of what's going on, but we can learn... if we CHOOSE to.

I found the Hitler quote here


It turns out that the earliest version of the Big Lie theory actually had something to do with big lies; imagine that. I'm contemplating reading "Mein Kampf" now; although I know much of it will be ugly nonsense, it'd be worth wading through it if there are a few more epiphanies like that one waiting in it. When (IF, sigh) I get caught up with my other reading, I'll give it a shot.

Is there anyone besides me who's freaked out that one of history's worst evildoers has a better grasp of how the human mind works than the so-called experts?

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