Monday, September 30, 2013

Lori Stewart, Troll Hunter

How do I start this one? That's the reason it isn't written yet; that question, there. How do I start this one? A while back, my friend Lori, over at This Just In, picked up a troll. Only...he was so much more than that. A troll is someone who passive-aggressively "just wants to play devil's advocate" in a marginalized person's space. Or asks stupid questions on serious forums. Or makes the cyber-equivalent of prank ~ even perhaps obscene ~ phone calls. I'm not saying these are good things. Trolls are horrible, horrible people and need to be ignored (at a minimum) or a slap down. This person...this person was more than a troll. 

This person said horrible things about Lori, her son, her dying sister, her sick mother. Graphic, detailed, and grotesque. And he moved onto those of us who would comment on her posts. Making horrific statements in our comments. Less personal, but anti...everything and everyone. Antisemitic. Racist. Misogynistic. And he always linked back to a white supremacist, faux-Christian, hate group. 

Some people replied. Some people became afraid. Some people had anxiety attacks. Some people stopped blogging. Some people ignored him. He never went completely away. For years. And years.

Eventually, Lori shut down her comments entirely, tired of having to filter his venom every post, several times per post. And that pissed him off. That's when he started posting the same vituperative bile on other blogs ~ under her name. Using her email address. Referencing her.

He made comments about my readers. He made comments about my father. He made comments about me and Lithus. He made comments that made no sense, were just hateful. And I wasn't the only one.

Free speech had become hate speech. And Lori had had fucking enough already. Another friend of hers mentioned a cybercrime unit in the police force, and she was off to the races.

His name is Robin King. He is a 55 year old Missouri man, who used to live in Illinois. He is an employee of the Department of Defense. He was arrested, at work, on Monday, September 23rd. So, yeah, fuck you, Robin.

We have no idea what caused him to choose Lori. To her knowledge, their paths have never crossed. She does not know the man. But what we have always known ~ and he knows now, as well ~ is that he chose...poorly.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee ~ and jail time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

We Can Do That

Oh...oh, corporate business people, be careful what you wish for. I am laughing my ass off. According to Guido Barilla, of Barilla pastas, 

"We won't include gays in our ads, because we like the traditional family," Barilla told an interviewer. "If gays don't like it, they can always eat another brand of pasta. Everyone is free to do what they want, provided it doesn't bother anyone else."
                     ~ The Raw Story (.com) by David Ferguson

As for me, my friends, and my family, I think we'll take him up on that offer. 

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee ~ and Bertolli pastas.

ETA: Bertolli pasta has stepped up:

A rep for their social media site says, "We just wanted to spread the word that Bertolli welcomes everyone, especially those with an empty stomach."
                   ~, by Tim Nudd


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Making Lemonade

Bart's funeral was in northern North Carolina. For those of you who don't know, I grew up in central Virginia, even though I claim Boston. Where I'm from and where home is are two very different things. 

Anyway! I haven't been back to the town where I grew up in about 12 years. Which means there is an entire section of my life about which Lithus knows nothing. Also, Lithus and I met in person in Suffolk, Virginia, while he was logging the Dismal Swamp of North Carolina. If you don't know that story, it's a good one and you can read it here. We always said we would go back there one day. 

Adventures are what we do. Spur of the moment stuff. Road trips. What's the worst that can happen? How bad can it be? It's who we are. So...

First, we drove to Suffolk and checked into the hotel where we met. 

From Suffolk, we drove to Lynchburg. I showed him where I grew up, I took him to the college where my dad worked, and introduced him to my grandfather.

And I thought I could sneak in and out without seeing anyone. I was wrong. Once there, I realized I had to look up three people:

That teacher:

Grandma Carol (I have a wonderful picture of her, but didn't get her permission to post it, so won't). Just as I wrote in that linked post, I walked up to the door, completely unannounced, rang the bell, and was welcomed in with open arms.

And Jerry. Technically, Jerry was our mechanic. My dad always said when you moved to a new town, you found a doctor, a banker, and a mechanic. So, in 1977-ish, we met Jerry. I was eight. By the time I was in my early 30s (the last time I saw him), he had practically helped raise me. He attended my wedding to the SGM and the funeral of my father. At 19, I was out far too late one night, when I picked a tail of a group of rednecks. I didn't want to lead them home, but didn't know where else to go. At that time, the only place that was open all night was the 7-11, so I pulled in there, figuring I would call my dad. I walked in, and there was Jerry, working the overnight to make a little extra money. I explained the situation and he reached under the counter, and pulled out a crowbar. He walked me out to my car, told me to get in and "go straight home." He then planted himself behind the car of rednecks, with his crowbar, and explained "she's going home now; you're gonna stay here with me for a bit." I went straight home. Whenever I was in town, his garage was my first stop. I would make the other mechanics crazy because I would walk in like I owned the place, completely disregarding the "EMPLOYEES ONLY" signs posted in all the bays. I would yell, "Jerry! How the hell is my favorite mechanic?!" And he would come over, wiping his hands on his rag, grinning, saying "Hi beautiful!" and hug me. When Lithus and I would talk about going back to Lynchburg, I would tell him that we needed to, because he had to meet Jerry ~ and that was really the only reason.

The other day, I didn't walk in like I owned the place. I peeked on the employees board to make sure his name was even still there. Then I very politely asked a mechanic if Jerry was around today. He was. I called out "Jerry..." then stopped with the patter. It has been a long time. Instead I waited for him to crawl out from the inside of the car he was working on, and said "Jerry, I'm Boston Pobble. Do you remem..." and he stopped me. "I remember." At which point, I fell into his arms. We clung and wept and I don't really remember much, because I was just too glad to see him.

"Hi, Beautiful."
So much more than just a mechanic

There were so many tears this week. So much clinging and weeping. And yet, at least three times, with these three people, the clinging and weeping were from joy. The adventure continues...

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bart Who?

Tuesday of last week, I was in NOLA for a doctor's appointment. Lithus was still in Richfield, finishing up his tour. That evening, when we talked, he said "oh, a bit of sadness today." Which I know translates into "there's been an incident and someone we know ~ crew, pilot, mechanic ~ has been seriously hurt or killed." And it went like this:

Lithus: A bit of sadness today.
Pobble: Oh no, who?
Lithus: Bart was killed.
Pobble: Bart who?
Lithus: Bart
Pobble: Not Bart. Not Bart Bart.
Lithus: Our Bart.
Pobble: No, not Bart Bart. Not our Bart.
Lithus: Our Bart. Bart Bart.

Because, see, Bart is Lithus' best friend. I've known about Bart as long as I've known about Lithus. Bart has always been there. Bart will always be there. Bart and Lithus are the old school guys. Everyone else is retired ~ or dead. Bart doesn't die. Bart and his fiancee and Lithus and I, we get old together. We sit on a porch, looking out over the ocean, and she and I roll our eyes while they are old curmudgeons together. Other pilots, other crew, they die. Not Bart. And yet...

His funeral was today. Oh, there's a huge service out in Montana later this month. Over 200 people are expected. But his funeral, the one with his mom and his sisters and his family, was today. When I emailed his sister, asking for information about the service, I identified myself as Lithus' wife. She was so relieved to hear from me. They had been trying to figure out how to get in touch with him; they had been looking for him.

If Lithus ever found himself in a third world country with no out, he would have called Bart. If Bart ever needed someone to have his back, he would have called Lithus. We left New Orleans yesterday morning and made a long pull ~ 12.5 hours ~ to get to Lithus to Bart's back, one last time.

"You're Lithus. I thought you must be. You were his best friend throughout life."
"You were one of his passwords: 'Who is your best friend?' And his answer was Lithus. You should know that. Do you know that?"
"He loved you. He loved you for such a long time."

There is no way to wrap this up. Our friend is dead. The never-agains stretch out in front of us. But the memories...they stretch out, too. And there are so many of those. Fair winds, and a true compass, Bart.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


...sometimes you just have to remind yourself of things that make you ~ and your love ~ happy. Even when they won't make you happy.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

That Time Of Year

Lithus and I have long said that if there was an award for Best Use Of Halloween Decoration As Year-Round Home Decor, we would win it. Many of the items we love most in our home we originally sold as "seasonal items." Okay. Whatever.

He had a day off the other day and we decided to go exploring. Oooo! It's that time of year again...

Fair enough, not a decoration, but still exciting: GhostMallows!

The last few years, the go-to decoration was owls. This year, apparently, it's the simplicity of the word "Boo." We can live with this.

Kitchen canisters

And yes, these will find homes in our home and stay there, year round. Now, if I could just find the Addams Family mansion for sale somewhere...

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11

It's that day again. I never quite know what to do with today. On the one hand, it's just another day. I'm working. I'm paying bills. I'm answering emails. On the other hand, it's today.

This morning, I wrote a silly post about shopping and couldn't bring myself to post it on this day. Scheduled it for tomorrow instead. The silly seemed...out of place, somehow.

At the same time, I don't care for the public displays of remembrance, either. They have started to feel forced to me. Now, I have friends who were directly impacted by the attacks. Who were in NYC. Who were in DC. Who lost friends and colleagues. They are not the people I'm talking about. As far as I'm concerned, they can mark this day however they want for the rest of their lives.

Maybe it's social media. I'm really over "hashtag NEVERforget" and changing our facebook icons and seeing who will actually copy and paste this to their wall for ONE HOUR to prove you still love AMERICA! My grief is quieter. My memories not for public consumption.

I called the Grill Master. He was just about to text me. We do it every year. It's the one time per year we are guaranteed to talk to each other. It's my memorial. My tribute.

Because I do remember. I haven't forgotten. It isn't just another day.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Sigh

Lithus has never been pleased with my engagement ring/wedding band. He couldn't afford the ring he wanted at the time, so got one that was close that he could afford. I, on the other hand, have loved my engagement ring/wedding band. So much so that it is both engagement and wedding rings, at my request. See, check it out:

What's not to love?

But on August 24th, our daughter married a really, really wonderful man. This is special because long-time readers probably remember she married once before, and he turned out to be a really, really not wonderful man. So we are all very happy (utilizing my gift for understatement). Plus, my parents were married on August 24th and had a happy marriage for over three decades. Not too shabby. All of this adds up to one particularly romanitcal feeling Pobble.

Lithus and I had to go to the department store for something else and, as we passed the jewelry counter, I said we should stop and be drooly and romantic together. At which point, we found a ring. He loved it. Honestly, I did too. I loved it a lot. But... I also loved my ring. After much back and forth, and him finally swearing to me that we would have my original ring refitted for another finger as soon as we're home, I admitted it did indeed make a nicer wedding band, and it did, indeed, suit me better. See what I mean?

I am amused that close to 5 years later, my nail polish is almost identical. I have a style...

Now, what's important is the marriage, not the wedding or the ring, and you and I both know that. Still, a great ring is a great ring.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Men *I* Know

I have, for a very long time, been disappointed to disgusted by the way men* are portrayed in commercials. As a general rule, they appear to be idiots. Or pigs. Or foolish. Or arrogant. Or cold. Or clueless. Or out of touch. Or all of the above. Interestingly enough, the exception to this has been, up until now, the Viagra commercials. I must say, I enjoy the Viagra commercials. Yes, the men are studs. But also? The men are competent. Intelligent. Caring. They are also "of a certain age" shall we say ~ they are Viagra commercials, after all. Which leaves men under the age of 60 (or so) portrayed as...well, the list is up there.

Which brings me to Guinness. Yep. The beer. In case you haven't seen this, you should. Because it is far more representative of the men I know and love than anything else I've seen on television. And I'm grateful for it because my guys ~ whoever you are ~ deserve better.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

* Mind you, I'm disgusted with the way women are portrayed in commercials, too, but this is a different post than that.

A Little Homesick

Usually, when I talk about being homesick, I mean for Boston. Sometimes Worcester. Sometimes New England in general. Almost always Massachusetts. Recently, though, I've meant New Orleans. 

The other day, Lithus and I couldn't remember ...something. I don't remember now. Which street a specific store was on, maybe? Anyway, instead of googling the address, for some reason we ended at google maps. And there were our streets. Our town. Our neighborhood. And it struck just like that. We probably spent four or five minutes ~ which isn't long, but is when you're in the middle of something else ~ just tracing the streets on the map. "Oh look"-ing and "remember that"-ing. 

We arrived in Scottsdale, AZ on July 18th. Due to a doctor's appointment with the still-favored Dr. Daniel (standard follow-up, not a big deal, but not easily rescheduled, either), I go home Sunday. Lithus follows Wednesday ~ two months to the day since we left.

Life on the road is amazing. Amazing. But sometimes...sometimes it's good to go home.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Control Freak

I am a (somewhat) recovering Type A personality. An old friend of mine and I used to say we weren't at all control freaks ~ so long as you could do it as well as we could. If we could trust that, we would happily sit back and let you do it. Otherwise, get out of our way. Now, I am...better. But not perfect. So not perfect. 

When people I love make bad choices, or unhealthy choices, or self-destructive choices, it breaks my heart. There is a degree of angst. Absolutely. But eventually, I step back. Let them be the adults they are. Disconnect just enough to keep me sane, and try to maintain the friendship, and let go of control. Their lives are not actually about me, after all. I've gotten good at it over the years.

You know when I still get into trouble, though? It isn't when someone is doing something differently than I would. It isn't when someone is making different choices than I would. It's when it is out of everyone's control. That's when I get stressed and anxious and spun up.

I have some friends who are hurting right now. Legal issues. Unemployment. Injuries. Without telling stories that aren't mine to tell, trust when I say my friends are doing it right. They are making the right decisions and doing the right things ~ and it doesn't seem to be mattering.

And this is when I get spun up. 

Who do I need to talk to? What department is in charge of Universal Fairness today? Which middle manager has this on their desk? Point me in the right direction and let me Fix It.

Only...there's nothing. I can't make the legal system work the way its supposed to. I can't make an entire unit not be laid off. I can't make that woman not run the red light. Hell, I can barely make dinner, let alone make the Universe just.

So, I breathe. And try not to make it about me, because it's really not. And I support my friends as best I can. And I continue to remind myself that I am, after all, a recovering Type A personality and let the world play out the way it will.

But I don't have to be happy about it. ;)

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Friday, September 06, 2013

What White Women Get Wrong


Can we talk for a minute? Real talk, honest talk. I hope so, because there are some things I need to say and I really hope someone can hear them. White women...we are not perfect. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many self-help books we read, no matter how many women's studies courses we take, we are not perfect. We are also not porcelain dolls that can break at a harsh word. Or victims who must be protected from mean people. So, really, can we please stop acting as if we are some combination of all three?

Thing the First ~ Not everything is all about us, all the time. Even the stuff that is about us frequently, isn't all about us All The Time. The most recent example of this that I know of is the Questlove article about being in the elevator with a white woman who automatically saw him as a threat. It's a powerful moving piece. And yes, he missed some things from a (white) woman's perspective. And yes, I talked about those things here. But as I read more and more responses to his article, the more appalled I became. I read all of one article that was written by a white woman that acknowledged his right to be hurt ~ and it was mine. He, somewhat naively I want to believe, fell into the sexy woman lives in my building vibe that so many of us dread. But the articles in response (again, the ones written by white women) that I read jumped in, feet first, knowing full well that they were completely disregarding the man's stated experience of racism. It is not all about you. Both sexism and racism can be at play at the same time. Both a man and a woman can be experiencing less-than at the same time. For white women to refuse to acknowledge this is willful ignorance beyond description.

Thing the Second ~ #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. Guess what? We deserve this. Women of color are disregarded, ignored, minimized so often and by us. By other women. Again, a recent, very public example: Paula Deen admitted to using racial epithets and yet white women were demanding women of color apologize to her for making her feel bad. What? How is that even a thing? And please, don't even start in the comments about how the case was thrown out. I'm not talking about the legal case. I'm talking about the fact that the woman admitted she did this thing ~ and white women only cared about her feelings, only wanted women of color to make her feel better. We default to white as the universal experience. When we leave women of color out of the discussion - by ignoring the racism that she must deal with right along with the misogyny; by giving her voice less weight; by downplaying her experiences; by innumerable other actions and inactions - we have defaulted to the white experience being "the real one." But if a woman of color should speak up, and point any of these discrepancies out, most of the time (I won't say all, because I don't like dealing in extremes but damn...) the immediate reaction tends to be she is being divisive. She's not on the same page. She needs to get on board. Why? Because the white, female experience is the only one that matters. You want to get a greater understanding of just how twisted it is? Wander over to twitter and check out the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen thread.

Thing the Third ~ Can we just stop talking and listen occasionally? I get it, I really do. It hurts to learn you have hurt someone else. No one likes being the bad guy. No one likes to have stepped in the shit. We all try our best and we want that to be enough. Sometimes ~ often times, hopefully ~ our best will be enough. But it won't be enough every single time. When this happens, swallow your embarrassment. Because that's all it really is. You're feelings aren't hurt because you weren't perfect. You're embarrassed. You thought you were better than this and it turns out you weren't. So swallow it, put it aside. Or go ahead and feel it. But listen. Really listen. Don't just wait to talk. As painful and difficult as it is to hear you fucked up, I promise you, it is that much harder for the woman of color to have called you out. She knows what she's about to walk into. Tears. Denial. Anger. Demands for apologies from her for your mistake. She knows this is what is coming and she called you out anyway. Respect that and her. It doesn't matter that your best friend, or you colleague, or your neighbor wouldn't have minded what just went down. This person, in this moment, has something to say to you. If her feelings about it don't negate your best friend's feelings about it, then your best friend's feelings about it don't get to negate hers.

There's more. There's so much more. But this is getting long, and I really don't want you to stop listening, so I'll stop talking ~ for now. But it is so far past time for "sisterhood" to mean more than just cis-white-women. We can keep being porcelain dolls and victims ~ or we can actually step up and be the women we claim to be. Make your choice.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Bit Overwhelmed (Again)

It has, once again, been long enough since I posted that the thought of posting has gotten overwhelming. Only this time, the thought of cleaning out my inbox and catching up on Pauline's facebook and updating my record keeping and replying to emails has gotten a bit overwhelming. See, pretty much since August 21st, I have been disconnected. I truly do not remember the last time I bothered to pull out my computer. And yes, I have a smart phone, so have checked the occasional email, paid bills for the first of the month, and have been texting like mad. But computer work? Nothing.

What have I done? Lithus' time off started on the 22nd. On the 21st, the company asked me to drive the Country Boy Mechanic to Salt Lake City for his ride to the airport. Sure, why not. It's only 5 hours round trip. And could we pick up some equipment while we're in town? Sure, why not. 

So, I drove my five hours and got back to town to a text from Lithus that said he was done for the day and we could take off if we wanted. So, I pulled in, we packed up, and hit the road again. To my (step)daughter's wedding on the 24th, in Oregon, by way of Boise, Idaho. Then it was down to southern Oregon to spend time with Crow, Bil, My Heart, Grasshopper, and the Hatchling. 

We got back to Utah last night (southern Oregon to Richfield, Utah, by way of Ely, NV, if you're interested) in time for a restful evening. Today, I will drive back to Salt Lake City to pick up Country Boy Mechanic from his time off.

When I get home tonight, I will have driven 2731 miles, without counting the in-town running around. Hopefully, by the time I go to bed tonight, I will have caught up with a bunch of people and have my online life a little more in order. 

Oooo...I do love my life.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.