Why You May Be Leaving My Social Media Feeds Soon

Ah, the joys of social media. I like it - mostly. My friends and relatives are both local and scattered, and Facebook - and to a lesser extent, Twitter - are handy ways to stay in touch.

I consider myself to be a very tolerant person. Except when you are ignorant, and then I draw the line.

Both friends and relatives are an diverse bunch in terms of age, interests, economic status, political and social stances. Among the more politically and socially conservative, face-to-face, we tend to agree to disagree after a few intelligent and civilized forays into the discourse. We move on to more immediate and directly impactful subjects - family, travel, music, food. On social media, the status updates also lean more toward family, travel, humor, and, of course, cats.

But occasionally, something happens out in the world that results in my removing someone from my newsfeed. I want to say at this point that I have rarely, if ever, "un-friended" or blocked someone. I simply edit my newsfeed in Facebook as I see fit (or mute on Twitter).

The first time I did this, it was regarding Facebook games. I got tired of wiggling around Facebook's manipulations that kept forcing me to see invitations and updates for games my friends were playing, even after I would "hide" those posts and their ilk. So, my "friends" that were playing Candy Crush all day, every day, to the apparent exclusion of all other activity - gone. Removed from my newsfeed. Rude, cruel - maybe. But life is short, people.

There were other instances. A few evangelical Christians found their way in, and then right back out of my feed. I have no problems with anyone thanking their gods and/or saviors for health, happiness, and a winning lottery ticket. But the preaching? No. Had a couple folks all up in arms about a woman being featured on our currency, because we haven't had a woman president, so how could a woman be allowed on a $10 bill?

Like, what do you even say to that? You don't. You curate those people right out of your social media feeds.

And now we have Paris. And Beirut. And Russia. And pick a spot, any spot, in the Middle East. I live in a state with a governor who seems to think he has the ability and the authority to restrict the movement of legal immigrants - who haven't even arrived yet - based on their country of origin and nothing else. And I have people in my social media feeds who think it's OK to repost dangerous, ignorant quotes, comments and memes from such pillars of society as Ted Nugent, or simply random conservative sites that I just know they haven't bothered to actually read. They are just reposting whatever stupid, reactionary, popular post of the day they have come across.

And that is ignorant. It ignores the reality that all three of the "major" religions are steeped in violence, and yet not every adherent of those religions acts on those religious "directives," nor are such actions encouraged by the mainstream clergy. It ignores the reality that the majority of people fleeing Syria and other repressive regimes are doing so to find safety and some measure of security and stability. It ignores the reality that there is nothing - nothing! - that will guarantee that a terrorist will not slip through the various security measures in place throughout the world, and ignite death and destruction here in the United States and elsewhere. It ignores the reality of history, which shows without doubt that terrorists are not a new thing, and are not exclusively "other" - other beliefs, other skin color, other country.

So, a few of you may be leaving my social media feeds very soon. And a few of you may be muttering about free speech. Yes, you can say almost anything you want, but you are not protected from the consequences, and I am not forced to agree or even listen - especially in my own space. Also, I suggest you check the language of the First Amendment. It's probably not what you think it is.

I consider myself to be a very tolerant person. Except when you are ignorant, and then I draw the line.


Chicken Blog: We Are Already Debating When We'll Eat Them

OK, I named them. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to.

Chicken butts. From left to right: Ethel, Mabel and/or Gladys, and Buffy Orpington.

Chicken butts. From left to right: Ethel, Mabel and/or Gladys, and Buffy Orpington.

So here is the rundown on my mini chick operation. They are inside now, in an old cat litter box, inside our old dog crate, because...cats. With just 4 chicks, they won't get the mass body heat that a flock of 25 might out in a farm coop, so seemed easier to set up inside with a heat lamp than worry whether the garage would be too cold while we wait for the Michigan edition of Mother Nature to work out what the weather is going to be in late March.

Around Easter, we will probably move them to the garage since they won't need to be quite as warm, and they'll have a little more size on them.

And about 3 weeks after that, once they have feathers, they can be outside in the coop (the construction of which will have its own blog post, of course, possibly several, and should be HIGHLY AMUSING AND PROFANITY-FILLED).

Eggs happen - hopefully - when they are 4-6 months old, so maybe July or August. And already the farm boy husband is saying we will be eating them when the cold weather comes and they stop laying. My position is that we will keep them over the winter and get a few years of eggs out of everyone before they head to the soup pot. Who will win? Stay tuned.



Went to see Hozier with a bunch of dickheads on Saturday

Watch the video, and then think about whether you would TALK ALL THE WAY THROUGH THIS SONG.

This lovely, wonderfully morbid, perfectly Irish piece - this was the moment at the Royal Oak Music Theater when the Andrew Hozier-Byrne realized he was back on the nightclub circuit, much to his surprised dismay. He had such a "WTF" look on his face it broke my heart, and the rest the performance, while still excellent, took on a bit of a "Let's get through this and get the hell out of here" quality.

The couple in front of us talked through everything, but they were certainly not the only ones. A depressingly large percentage of the entire crowd were talking constantly, adding an annoying chatty hum to the acoustics of the theater. They talked while waiting for opening act Asgeir to take the stage. They talked during Asgeir's show. They talked during the break, waiting for Hozier. And then they proceeded to talk through Hozier's show. They talked though his songs, they talked through his introductions and anecdotes, they talked through an audience member's marriage proposal (which Hozier graciously introduced by saying "We're going to do something a little different here...").

Yeah Hozier. Of "Take Me To Church" fame (currently the most overplayed song everywhere, but the rest of his album is fabulous). He performed at the Grammy Awards, with Annie Lennox, for God's sake (haven't seen that? Watch it here. Yes, you must.). Even without those credentials, like any artist he deserved a respectful crowd who forked out some cash to, presumably, listen to his music. 

But I guess you don't get an interested audience at Royal Oak Music Theater. This is the second show I've seen there where the crowd dynamics were set to "dickhead." 

And in case you are all "Oh, Rebecca, you are such a curmudgeon, that's just the way things ARE these days," (we do, after all, live in a time when teens riot at SpongeBob movies) well guess what - they aren't. The Ark, Michigan Theatre, Hill Auditorium, Wharton Center, even The Palace at Auburn Hills...I can't think of a single concert venue (bars and outdoor festivals being exceptions) where I've encountered such universal disrespect of a performance. And it's a shame - Royal Oak is an interesting and historic venue, with decent acoustics and a good and occasionally great schedule; but it's also one that I will likely be avoiding from now on.


The 50 Shades of Grey Teddy Bear, Limited Edition

I read the book (see what I thought). I will not watch the movie. I mean, I have limits, people. BUT THE BEAR NOW....that could be a different story.

Yes, there really is a 50 Shades of Grey Teddy Bear, Limited Edition, from the deceptively wholesome Vermont Teddy Bear Company. And he has ACCESSORIES. Because sex and bondage and BEARS. Right? And Valentine's Day.

christian grey bear.jpg


In his stylish pinstriped suit, handcuffs dangling from one...paw, and a pretty damn fancy Mardi Gras-type mask in the other, this bear just screams "bear porn." And in a description guaranteed to never, ever have been used to describe a stuffed bear - or any stuffed animal - this guy features "smoldering eyes," sure to make all the girls, and maybe the guys too, bite their lips in anticipation.

Hoo-boy. I may need a Bear Counselor (1-800-829-BEAR)(that's a for-real phone number, I kid you not) to help me deal with all the horrible thoughts I should not be thinking about bears and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, because these are not the innocent bear purveyors of yesteryear. This is the company that brings you the Let's Get Bear Naked Bear (who "almost let's it all hang out"), vampire bears (with removable fangs), as well as various tattooed bears like the Heart Throb Bear, in his white silk boxers.

The Christian Grey bear is $90, and also includes gourmet chocolates and a personalized gift card, but, alas, does not seem to come with any adult-sized handcuffs, masks, ropes, hoods, pulleys, clamps or other assorted implements from the book.

And he is not suitable for small children. Because "small parts." <cough>


The New Subscription-Based Model for Content AKA The Newspaper

My local daily newspaper - admittedly a dying breed - recently announced a change to how readers would be "accessing content." Gone are the days of "reading a newspaper." Now, we access content, online, and after being spoiled for years with free access to that online content, the business model has changed. The question is - will readers pay for what they used to get for free?

The local paper in my childhood town went that route last year. I used to be able to catch up with hometown happenings via the paper's website. At my age, this mostly involved reading the obits for news of my late parents' friends and the occasional former classmate, as well as who got busted for drugs, DUIs and the like. You know, as one does. Suddenly, all I could access were the headlines. To get the rest of the news, I had to subscribe at $10/month. My workaround was to download their app - which is awful in terms of design, quality, and timeliness of the news (their motto, which makes me laugh every time, is "Today's news today."). But pay $10/month to access the meager content of a tiny paper in a town I no longer lived in? I don't think so.

The Ann Arbor News became AnnArbor.com a while back. The paper, which was actually called AnnArbor.com (whut?) went from a daily to a Thursday and a Sunday edition, although the subscription cost didn't seem to adjust too much. The online content  - well, I can't really remember the online content at the moment, but it must have been decent because I soon canceled my paper subscription. If I recall, there was also an option for online access to the news presented in a newspaper layout, for about $10/month. I declined, especially after I was assured I could still get all the same news on the website (not their best sales pitch, right?).

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (LCP for short) has made several changes to their web-presence over the last year, and none of them for the better, in my opinion. The current iteration of their site is ugly and slow, with videos and advertising that causes pages to shift and refresh. The sales pitch for paying for online access includes USA Today - like this News For When You Have 5-Minutes Before Your Plane Leaves was some kind of special bonus.

My favorite part? This, from their Q&A about "the new Livingston Daily": 

Why are you making this change? Why should I pay for something that has been free? Our readers access our unique, high-quality content in a number of ways. Adopting a full-access subscription model allows us to keep our product strong — and make it better — as readers increasingly choose to access our product on multiple devices at any time. In conjunction with this effort, we are investing in the unique content we deliver across all platforms.

What...what does this even say? I think it says that the news they have been reporting for decades is now, somehow, "unique content." And because I might read it on my phone, I have to pay more. And I think this is bullshit.

One upside? I doubt the folks trolling the comments will be willing to pay for the privilege.