Social Media Viciousness

Several weeks ago, I was given a writing assignment to look at the Quora social media app, and in doing so, I signed up for an account. I am now getting daily digests as a result. The way it works on Quora is that you pose a question that anyone can then answer.

I am astounded and frightened by the many mean, vicious, and downright cruel people in this world, and they abound on social media. Here are some examples of what I mean. The following threads are about Meghan as in Meghan and Harry.

This is a response to the question:

Do you think Prince Harry regrets marrying Meghan Markle?

He is too naive to regret marrying her! She has bewitched him! If you see him with his brother and father and granny and apl members of his family before meeting her, he was perfectly fine. She convinced him he has all these issues and by the way there is no way in hell that Miss Manipulator was suicidal, she really should get an Oscar for that great acting!!! and PLEASE!! when she tried to say she knew nothing about the ROYAL FAMILY before meeting Harry I almost threw up in my mouth! 😂😂😂🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️WOW what an actress! she sure missed her calling!!! All I can say is…Lady leave Harry and the kids, let them go back to his family and you go on your little merry way back to Hollywood, you homewrecker golddigger! 🤮 you make me sick. You and Oprah are so phony! 🤮🤮🤮🤮😡

And here’s another response to the same question:

Of course I’ve never had a personal conversation with him, but the photos, the body language and most of all, the sadness in his face show me (whether or not anybody else) that he does regret making such a huge mistake, alienating his entire family, perhaps allowing her to fake 2 children of all things. I think Harry has about had enough, but I don’t believe he’s brave enough or strong enough to walk away and apply for a divorce. He must truly feel that by not acting like a decent human being and allowing his wife to tell the obvious lies she told on National tv, he has ruined the love the entire nation had for him. I’ve never seen one person throw away absolutely everything just for a person that they KNOW is a user, a liar, a troublemaker, a leech and a money hungry, grubby never was. I feel somewhat sorry for Harry; I continue to see the sad little boy looking so lost among all the flowers laid for his beloved Mother. William was just as hurt, but perhaps better able to cope; again, I’m not an expert on him. Nevertheless lm afraid that Harry will never be able to find his place again in the RF; nobody is going to ever trust him again. He’s going to be a thorn in William’s side forever, I’m afraid. Harry will drift aimlessly for the rest of his life wondering what happened and what went so wrong. Will he blame everybody but himself? That remains to be seen. Let’s all hope so as none of us ever want to see him go thru this again !

I cannot wrap my head around how these people are coming up with their comments! What kind of inside information do they have or are we talking good (scary) imaginations? What has Meghan possibly done to them? Indeed, there is a significant trend diverting lots of bitterness toward Meghan.

On the Other Hand!

However, in fairness to Quora, there is some very good information that does not contain the vitriol shown above. Here’s an example.

Have you ever seen an animal do something heroic?

My mom was dying from liver failure and I wanted her to be able to say goodbye to my horse. I brought her out to the stable in a car then drove her to the stall. She could get out and get into a wheelchair on her own. I told the horse to be calm, to be nice and not to move. I put a small flat wide feed tub like 14″ around on my mom’s lap with yummy treats.

My horse just rested his gigantic head against her face and blew his warm breathe into her lap. It was like he knew how fragile she was, that she was just terribly, terribly sick. I was so ready to step in to protect her from him, but I never needed to.

He was a 17.1hh 1300 lb ex-racehorse (they call them OTTB) and he was normally quite fast and unsafe. He threw 8 people in the 17 years I owned him before he died. So it was a miracle that he was perfectly still and gentle touching her for such a long time. She just rested her face against him. I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He had always been loving with me, and perfectly good natured but I was genuinely shocked that he seemed to understand completely what he should do.

She said “Oh course he was lovey, he loves me”. I just smiled and tried to hide the fact that I was crying happy tears.

Talk about extremes, eh?

Some would advise me to dump Quora. I’m not going to dump Quora because there are truly spiritual and caring gems, as well as solid content, sprinkled within. Likewise, as of now, there are other social sites I sometimes think of deleting, but instead, I am deleting the trolls and ogres and sending positive energy into the universe, instead.

When the Trail Gives Way to Progress

The smells of oiled leather, the mustiness of a sweaty horse, and the fresh alfalfa hay bales stacked in the loft. The sounds of saddles being slapped on a horse’s back, hooves slowly plodding down a path, and birds and crickets with competing voices. The sights of pure, virgin land – weed-wild fields and untended forests, horses grazing in lush green pastures, and turkey vultures circling overhead, laying claim to some dead creature.

Unforgettable rides, tromping through spring mud, enjoying the shade of summer rides in the woods, crunching red and yellow leaves underfoot in fall, and being dazzled by a hundred million glittering sparkles during the magic of winter in the saddle.  

All this and more were my spiritual and sensual experience of the barn, of riding my horse, of overcoming fears, of perfecting saddle-born skills, of being.

But now? We’re old. The barn is old. My horse is old, and though to say it makes me cringe, I, too, am old.  My horse, Buzzy, is 30. I will not say how old I am. Buzzy is blind and my balance sucks, so our days together in the saddle are done. Still, I go out at least once a week and feed him a bag of carrots. He loves his carrots and I love feeding them to him. He licks my hand when we are done.

However, now as I drive out to the barn where Buzzy lives cozily, I am appalled at the raping of the beautiful fields and woods we used to ride through. They are gone, replaced by ugly half-finished monstrosities of buildings, and the monster machines that are making them. They call this progress.

I am glad I’m old.

A Case for Cursive Writing

When I was in my Catholic elementary school, we all took great pride in seeking to have the prettiest cursive writing in the class. Much to my chagrin, I was not one of those writers. Don’t get me wrong, I loved learning and writing in cursive, but I just did not have manual dexterity to craft the model handwriting as did some of my fellow students.

Crappy handwriting or not, I now write in cursive every single day in my journal. I am fanatical about the Zen mental state and hand and finger dexterity it affords me, and I far prefer my pen and paper to tapping away on a keyboard to share my innermost thoughts.

However: Enter keyboards, smart phones, tablets. Exit: cursive handwriting.

Courtesy of the Common Core State Standards of 2010, which set out guidelines for K-12 education in English language, arts, and mathematics, schools were no longer required to teach cursive handwriting. Why? Because the powers that be decided that future communication would take place digitally, not by hand. However, some states have issued statutes making the teaching of cursive handwriting mandatory – yay! These states include Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Virginia, California, Florida, and North Carolina.

Bravo to these states because our historical documents, as in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, are written in cursive. Kids who are not taught cursive will not be able to read it, or anything else that is written in beautiful, handwritten script. And kids who don’t know cursive will not have a signature: could they be on the verge of identifying themselves with numbers?

Would you believe (of course you would) that in this day of rampant conspiracy theories that a widely seen TikTok video promoted the idea that cursive writing was dying so people could not read the bedrock of our democracy documents and therefore understand their rights? Phooey. Says Reuter Fact Check:

Although it is not part of the Common Core State Standards guidance, each state and U.S. territory can choose whether to teach cursive writing. Versions of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights are widely available online and in print in a variety of formats and fonts.

So, boys, girls, men, and women, the moral of this story is to not believe what you see on TikTok, or any other social media platform; rather, pick up that pen, buy yourself a Moleskin pad, and write away to your heart’s content.

When You’re Old, Gray, and They Try to Suck Your Blood (and succeed)

Fact – this 90+ y/o couple lives in this senior apartment place where they pay $7000 month. Yes, I gulped, wide-eyed when I heard that. This does not include food, garbage removal, or cleaning. It also does not include help, as in with mobility issues or situations that just plain require the assistance of a kind human being.

Last night, the female of this said couple, who recently got a motorized wheelchair and who is also suffering from quick onset dementia, rammed her chair into something on the way back from the dining room, which resulted in her leg tearing open with blood gushing out all over.

It was fortuitous that my son and his wife were there, who then ran into their respective bathrooms to get paper towels to futilely attempt to stem the flow, mostly unsuccessfully. Would you believe that no one from the staff, several of whom were nearby and saw the episode, offered to help. This for people who are paying $7000 per month.

Dog Fights

Alas. We have an escalation problem in our house. We have 3 Boston Terriers – Rosie and Finja are our 2 females, and Dash, the lone male in the pack. Rosie came by way of a rigged purchase, I adopted Finja – a former Amish puppy mill mama, and Dash, also adopted, came from an abusive situation.

A few forward facts:

  • They are all three loved dearly.
  • Finja and Dash are bonded more to me.
  • Rosie is bonded more to my partner in crime, Dom.

A few other notes of interest

Finja

Admittedly, my precious, tiny (14 pounds) Finja is an odd one. Before taking her home, I went to the foster mom’s home every other day to give Fin baths to soothe and heal her dreadfully sore skin. She had just small patches of hair and the rest was red, inflamed skin. She was good during these sessions, but rigid and non-communicative. After several weeks, her skin improved and her hair started to grow back. The miller had given her up to the adoption group because he thought she had scabies. Scabies it evidently wasn’t because she completely healed. My supposition is that her skin issue was caused by what I now know is a highly sensitive and fearful personality.

Fearful, indeed. She spent the first 2 weeks in our home hiding under the kitchen table, growling when anyone even looked at her. Gradually, she emerged and began to assimilate herself into our household and its routines. At the time we adopted her, we had a third female, Sasha, and Dash had not yet joined our household. Finja and Sasha always cuddled together and were the best of friends, so it was heartbreaking for everyone when she made her way to the Rainbow Bridge.

Rosie

Rosie has a high prey instinct. She grabs birds in flight, digs up moles, and has killed numerous squirrels and rabbits. During that early time with Fin, Rosie began to pick fights, first with Sasha and then with Fin. I remember tearing out to the backyard one day when Rosie had Sasha in her mouth and was thrashing her about.

A dog fight is a terrifying thing to see, and even more terrifying is the fact that it’s impossible to separate 2 dogs who are out of their minds in their quest to kill. We have been lucky. There have been no major catastrophes or emergency visits to the vet.

Other than her instinct to kill, Rosie is a good dog. She is affectionate, loves to play Frisbee, enjoys walks, and thrives on her nighttime cuddling with humans.  

Solution?

Recently we have finally figured out the trigger for these fights. Finja is afraid of noises – loud and/or sudden, and she goes into a frenzy of barking and growling which then triggers Rosie, who tears into Finja, and bingo! The frequency of these fights is escalating, so we are in total separation mode which we’ll eventually transition into highly managed and as best as we can – a noise-controlled environment.

Overcoming the Behaviors That Arise From Abusive Treatment

This article by expert trainer Rich Allen rings true that it is our job to help innocent, abused animals learn to live calmly, safely, and securely in homes filled with love.

Wags to Rich's

Animal cruelty is pervasive and even at this moment, a helpless animal is being subject to some form of brutality. Many of these poor dogs find their way into adoptive situations, which is a blessing and a curse. The curse is that because of the brutality they have experienced, they often become an unworkable challenge in their adoptive homes, a tragedy both for the dog and the humans who have tried to make a difficult situation work.

The good news: it can work. The bad news: it takes work.

The ASPCA motto is “All animals are entitled to protection under the law.” However, there are way too many situations where animals are not protected and undergo unimaginable suffering. Here are just a few of those situations.

Dog Fighting

When dogs are raised to fight, they are trained to be aggressive and often part of the training involves attacking and killing…

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Loose Dog on Expressway

One of the things I absolutely dread more than anything is coming across a road- injured animal or loose pet. I came across the latter this week as I was driving down a 3-lane interstate. Several cars were lined up by the side of the road and people were running in the grass. It looked like it could be an accident scene except for the people running in the grass. And then I saw why they were running – this little brown-ish dog was tearing down the middle of the highway. In my rearview mirror I saw her get hit and my heart exploded, but after a somersault, she was back up and running like a bat out of hell. I pulled over and opened my car door, hoping maybe she would leap in, but she sailed right past. In the meantime, bless the State Police, one of their cars got in front of the traffic, lights flashing to slow down the lines of traffic moving towards the little pup. Last I saw of her, she ran up an exit ramp.

I could not sleep wondering what happened to her, so the next day I posted to a Lost, Missing and Found group on FB to see if I could find out what happened. Amazingly – she was safe. She was sore and had a seriously bruised lung and ravaged foot pads, but she was otherwise home. After being on the run for 30 hours, I hope everything turns out okay and she doesn’t find her way out again.  

Anniversary of the Diane Schuler Tragedy

Perhaps one of the greatest, and most tragic mystery of times is the wrong-way accident on the Taconic Parkway in New York. It happened on July 26, 2009. The wrong way driver was one Diane Schuler whose autopsy showed she was both intoxicated and high on marijuana. She killed 8 people, including the 4 children in the minivan she was driving, 3 of whom were her brother’s little girls.

The Taconic State Parkway is the most dangerous highway in New York

The Schulers went camping just about every summer weekend at Hunter Lake Campground in Parksville, New York  a beautiful spot in the Catskill Mountains. On this weekend, she had her 3 nieces with her and by all accounts, the kids had a great time playing, while the goal for Diane was to relax. Diane was a regular marijuana user, and she did smoke a joint that Saturday before the next tragic day. She and her husband also had a few drinks as they sat by the campfire that evening

Diane had been suffering from an abscessed tooth which was causing her a great deal of pain. She was also stressed by basically being a single parent while her husband worked nights, and the main breadwinner for the family. Pressure!

The story goes like this: After this weekend with her husband, her own 2 young children, and her brother’s 8, 7, and 5-year-old girls, Diane set off in her brother’s red minivan with all the kids and her husband drove away in his pickup with the family dog.

As evidently was the custom on the way home from camping, Diane stopped at McDonald’s with the kids for breakfast. After breakfast she emerged with a cup of orange juice. Shortly after, she pulled into a gas station and went in and asked for Tylenol. They had none. Back on the road, she is said to have driven crazily – honking, tailgating, straddling lanes and flashing her headlights.

By the time she and kids had crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge, (now the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge) Diane had called her brother to say they were being delayed by traffic. Also, witnesses recall seeing her bent over by the side of the road and appeared like she was vomiting. Shortly after, her oldest niece called her father and said words that were etched into the kinds of everyone who has ever followed this story: “Daddy, there’s something wrong with Aunt Diane,” who she said was slurring and having trouble seeing.

The catastrophe finally unfolded when Diane got on the Taconic State Parkway going the wrong way. After 1.7 miles, she slammed head on into a vehicle carrying 3 men, a father, his son, and a close friend, all of whom were killed in addition to herself, her daughter and her 3 nieces. Miraculously, her 5-year-old son survived.

The concrete cause of the accident became clear after toxicology tests were performed, and that was that Diane Schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19%, 6 grams of which was in her stomach and had not yet been absorbed into her bloodstream. Accident investigators found an open, half empty bottle of vodka in the van. Her blood also contained levels of marijuana.

So that’s all straightforward. But what’s not is the denials made by her husband that Diane had not had any alcohol and her condition must have been caused by her tooth pain or another physical condition. Then there was the sheer disbelief that a woman who was referred to as “Super Mom” would experience such a tragic meltdown. Or was it? Some people believe it was suicide. Others believe she had a black out of some kind.

The bottom line is, we will never know what prompted Diane Schuler to kill herself and 7 others.

So much has been written about this, and here is one very thoughtful and detailed article

There is also the fascinating look at the story in “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane” documentary.

But What About the Animals?

Photo by Ryan Leeper

I suppose many people will take umbrage with what I’m going to say here, but I think it merits some thought. This morning I read a story about a yacht fire where 3 people and 2 dogs had to jump off and into the water. The story talked about the people’s conditions, but nothing about the dogs. Truthfully, so what about the people, I wanted to know about the dogs.

A plane crash: You always hear how many human lives were lost or saved, but what about the animals on board? Dogs? Larger animals in the cargo hold?  And what about the animals that are saved or fall victim in home fires? Car crashes?

Our dear animals catch short shrift when it comes to being treated as the valuable and precious souls that they are.

The Tree Outside My Window

How lucky I am to wake up to the songs, sights, and antics of the birds in the tree outside my window. The melody of the wren is cheery and a delight to wake up to. I have put a small yellow birdhouse in the tree and in resides a family of little wrens. I got to see as they brought small twig after twig and stuffed them through the small entry hole. I got to watch them scoot away from the robin who used the tree as the perch with which to guard his nest in a nearby bush. But despite the robin’s apparent intimidating presence, the wrens still managed to scoot in and out of their cozy abode, all the while entertaining the human in the window.

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