Pat Gaudette


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Random thoughts

Danielle Staub: Hiding Out In Plain Sight?

I admit it. I’m a Real Housewives junkie. Yes, watching how the totally unreal housewives of Orange County or New York or Atlanta or New Jersey supposedly live is a complete waste of time and brain space. Perhaps the only positive is that I can watch while I exercise… occasionally.

If you’re a RH junkie, too, you already know that Danielle pretty much stole the show after the first few episodes of Real Housewives of New Jersey. Considering that each show seems to have at least one controversial “housewife,” she’s as good as any of the others for the role.

Except… Danielle Staub aka Beverly Ann Merrill is reportedly a lowlife snitch who didn’t realize that her past would come back to bite her. Her criminal past, and then flipping to keep herself out of prison, is juicy stuff for reality TV. The producers got lucky with this one, but what about Danielle/Beverly? Not everyone can get into the government’s witness protection program but getting into reality TV clearly is not the usual path to longevity.

An unexpected bonus for author Charles Kipps is the frenzy to read his book, Cop Without A Badge: The Extraordinary Undercover Life of Kevin Maher. Maher reportedly left his first wife to live with Beverly/Danielle (and then married, reportedly not bothering to get a divorce first) who he met while she was… nope, no spoilers here. Let’s just say Danielle/Beverly’s past exploits are the stuff of porn novels and pretty good reason that the other housewives would want to distance themselves from her. Used copies of the original hardcover, published in 1995 by Carroll & Graf Publishing, were selling just under $150 on Amazon when all this hit the news but now used copies start at a penny. Due to reader demand, a new paperback was made available through Scribner, retailing at $22.95.

The Perfect Face

Finally the truth is out! Those perfect faces, those super thin bodies, those flawless skin tones… they’re as real as any Photoshop enhanced image can get! A popular Viral Video shows a model being made up, having her photo taken, and the photo being retouched into what finally appears on a billboard. Now we all can be perfect!

Take a look through any of the top fashion magazines and some of the “enhanced” photos will be more obvious than others. You know the ones, where the model’s flawless legs stretch for three-quarters of her body. They’re so super slim that she’d never be able to actually walk on them, particularly not on those 7-inch designer heels.

I wonder when we’ll get back to what really counts, what can’t be enhanced artifically, the person inside. A perfect body can only hide the ugly person residing inside for so long.

Aura Headaches

A few years ago, I began having problems with my eyes. I’d be at my computer, or at the grocery store, or driving my car, and I’d be looking through a “waterfall.” Within a minute or two my vision would be blurry as the “waterfall” took over.

The waterfall (or “aura”) would last for several minutes, just long enough for the back of my head to start hurting. If I was able to sit or lie down and close my eyes, I did. If I was driving, I slowed down and focused on the road. The “headache” would last about 30 minutes and then be gone except for the soreness at the back of my head. That would last a day or two.

This wasn’t a new problem, I’d been having these “waterfall headaches” or migraines for several years but they’d only occur perhaps once or twice a year. At the end of 2008, they were occurring several times a week and I was concerned that there was some serious health problem developing.

Web searches for information about aura type headaches gave me some “possibilities”: migraine headaches, detached retina, brain tumor. Migraines I can deal with, the others weren’t a pleasant consideration.

I don’t like to go to the doctor with vague symptoms. Most doctors don’t seem to take the initiative they used to; it’s all about the malpractice potential and whether or not insurance is going to consider a procedure necessary. Patients have to know what’s wrong with them and guide their doctors toward the correct treatments.

Ever since a doctor (whose name I choose to forget) told me, “You’re growing older, learn to live with it!” instead of doing a simple blood test which would have uncovered a severely malfunctioning thyroid before I outgrew all of my favorite clothes, I’ve been doing the research before asking my doctors to “cure” me. As far as the thyroid, it took two more years, way too many pounds, and a lot of research before I went to my family doctor and asked him to check my thyroid function. Bingo!

So, I had recurring aura headaches and a short list of possible reasons. When my husband said that a friend of his had the same symptoms brought on by a detached retina, I immediately went to my eye doctor for an exam.

My eye doc is great! She talks and she listens. After I told her about the aura headaches and my concerns, she assured me that my eyes were very healthy, including the retinas. She also said that a brain tumor wouldn’t be a “sometime” pain. She felt that I had migraines that were being brought on by some recent change or stress.

As we talked, I realized that one change to my daily routine — just about the time the migraines increased — was my morning 5-hour ENERGY dietary supplement. I’d been feeling a bit sluggish and had been drinking one small bottle each morning. The energy boost in these drinks comes from a mega dose of caffeine.

It was a lightbulb moment! I usually drink about a pot of black coffee each day. That super shot of caffeine from 5-hour ENERGY (the supplement) wasn’t just giving me an energy boost, the extra caffeine was causing my migraine headaches!

To test the theory, I stopped the energy drinks. I haven’t had a migraine since. Whew! What a relief!

Should Have Checked For Cameras

A wife who forced her husband to swim despite his attempts to get out of their apartment complex swimming pool might get five years in prison after pleading guilty to reckless homicide.

The man, 73-year-old James Mason, died from a heart attack. Mason’s wife, 41-year-old Christine Newton-John, had planned to sue the owner of the apartment complex over her husband’s death but the real story surfaced when a police officer viewed a tape from a surveillance camera mounted above the pool.

The tape showed Mason struggling to breathe and attempting to get out of the pool no less than 43 times as Newton-John dragged him around the pool and forced him to continue swimming. According to Joseph Stehlik, Middlefield Police Chief, “The man was exercised to death.”

Mason, who knew his wife’s family for years, married Newton-John in 2006 in Kentucky. Newton-John, born John Vallandingham, underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1993.

I suppose there are a few lessons here but the most obvious one is: if you’re going to commit a crime, make sure it’s out of camera range.

Nothing To Wear. Really!

From looking at the fashion magazines and what’s on the catwalks today, it’s very evident that no one is considering that women of a certain age are interested in dressing fashionably. Okay, maybe I need to rephrase that. No one is considering that women of a certain age are interested in dressing age appropriately yet fashionably.

My personal peaves? Short skirts, miniscule clothing sizes, super low necklines and/or transparent tops, old women in little girl dresses.

Women of my age need skirts that at least cover the buttocks by several inches. At my age, thongs are terribly uncomfortable, and going “commando” is something I’d rather not do except on very special occasions.

Most models are pencil thin. Most women of age aren’t. Oh, maybe we were when we were younger but “middle-age spread” causes butts to fall, thighs to thicken, arms to get flabby. Older skin usually isn’t pretty and it usually looks better covered.

Plunging necklines may look super sexy on the 32A models and the silicone enhanced twenty-somethings but a women of age with 38-Longs is making a bad fashion choice.

Please tell me we aren’t all supposed to be Lolita’s this next year! That look may be cute for a few petite young women who can pull it off but does anyone really want to see a woman in her 50s, 60s, or 70s in a Lolita dress?

Preventing Rape

There was an email going around that gave tips on what potential rapists look for in a victim and gave potential victims recommended ways to avoid or deter a rapist. Unfortunately, if someone were to take the suggestions in the email as “gospel,” it might end up costing them their life.

After receiving the email, I did a search to find the original so that I could post it here. I thought the information was worthwhile… until I found the “rest of the story” on Snopes.com. Every woman and man needs to take a few minutes to read Assaulted Tale (aka This Bird Won’t Fly). Then pass the link along to those you care about.

Over the years I’ve had many “near misses”:

The Naked Man

I was a very naive 18-year-old taking the wrong way home from work late one night. My parents always said to use the highway but I enjoyed driving the two-lane country road. This particular night, a car followed me for a while then passed and waited at a stop sign. I assumed there was a male driver, I didn’t want to look to see who was in the car.

I turned left, the other car turned right. A short time later, the same car passed me and went around a curve about a half mile from the turn into the subdivision where my parents’ home was. When I got around the curve, the car was parked across the road and the driver — definitely male — was standing in front, completely naked.

I drove off the road, around the car, and continued on until I got to the entrance to the subdivision. All the way I was annoyed that I hadn’t gotten a description of the car, a license number, or anything that would identify this person. I stopped my car and waited for the other car to pass so I could at least get a better description but, after several minutes, it was apparent he had driven off the other way.

My parents called the police and two detectives interviewed me. One said that a “more mature woman” would have driven her car into the man. They also said this was not the first time this had happened; the man usually targeted young girls. The next night, my last night at that job, an unmarked police car was behind me hoping to lure the man out. Unfortunately, with the police car keeping pace just a few hundred feet behind my car, anyone would have been very stupid to try the same thing again.

Gang Bangers

The next year, during summer break from college, I was at the beach one night with three members of my theater arts group, another girl and two guys. The other couple took a walk down the beach, which left me and the guy I had a “crush” on alone. Unfortunately, he only wanted to talk about his girlfriend back home and I was a good listener.

We saw the crowd of 10 or 12 teen boys walking toward us and tried to ignore them but when they circled our blanket and started making rude remarks it was evident I was in major trouble. They’d been drinking and, in pack mode, they were set to rape. I was terrified.

My only hope was the guy I was with but he stepped away from the circle to talk with one of the teens, apparently the leader, who was our age. As the two of them talked, the others kept fondling themselves, making lewd remarks, and getting closer to me. Then I heard him raise his voice and say, “Look! I brought her here, I should get to go first!!” I thought my life was over. Literally.

It took him several more minutes to convince the leader that he had first rape option but he actually did get them to agree to leave him alone with me for no more than ten minutes — and then I’d be all theirs. Reluctantly the gang walked down the beach.

“Come on!! RUN!!” yelled my classmate when the gang was out of sight. He grabbed my hand, jerked me to my feet, and pulled me toward our car. The other couple returned a few minutes later or they would have had to find another way home.

There were several more incidents but I’ll save them for another post.

MagicJack – The Fine Print

Early one morning, after watching about five minutes of a MagicJack commercial on television, I decided to visit the website to see exactly why this telephone service was so inexpensive. What I discovered wasn’t what I expected.

First of all, the MagicJack is a little device that plugs into a USB slot in your computer that you then can plug any type of telephone into and make and receive phone calls. That’s pretty much as difficult as it is except: you must have a cable Internet connection and you’ll have to download software to make the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) work.>

Pretty simple. This morning’s commercial advertised the MagicJack device at $39.95 plus S&H which also included the $19.95 annual service as a bonus. And, the $39.95+S&H payment was delayed for a 30-day trial period. Very hard to resist, right?

My thought was to get one of these devices to use when I work at my second office and also when I travel. Why not? It goes with you as does the phone number that’s assigned.

But I like to read the fine print before sealing a deal, especially when a deal is just way too good to be true. After browsing the site, I read through the Terms of Service and Software License Agreement. The wording in the agreement is important to understand. Particularly item 11, midway through the very long page:

11. Advertisements

You also understand and agree that use of the magicJack device and Software will include advertisements. Advertisements will be served through the magicPage™ Software or the magicJack softphone – the software/softphone attempts to serve local advertisements and classifieds using a completely automated process that enables us to effectively target dynamically changing content. Our computers may analyze the phone numbers and your registration information you call in order to improve the relevance of the ads. We do not provide any personal information to our advertisers or third parties. magicJack has a policy of restricting advertisers that it believes are inappropriate, but it does not guarantee the accuracy or integrity of any advertisers and does not endorse any of the advertisements that may appear in connection with use of the magicJack device. You also understand and agree that use of the magicJack device and Software may include certain communications, such as service announcements, administrative messages and newsletters, and you will not be able to opt out of receiving them.

And there it is! The reason the MajicJack is so very, very inexpensive! If you can deal with customized advertisements being served to you along with your phone service, this simple device may just be the solution to rising telephone bills. If not, there are other VOIP services that might serve your needs.

Me? I signed up for Vonage service last spring and it works well — other than when there’s a power blip and I’m on a phone call (would happen with any VOIP service so not a Vonage glitch) or when my cable service is down. I am paying quite a bit more than $39.95 (plus S&H) for the Vonage service but, while it also works through my cable connection, it works independently from my computer so my computer doesn’t have to be connected to make or receive calls.

Once again, reading the fine print proves what most of us already know: there usually is no free lunch.

Update: It took a long time to get out of my Vonage contract and it was costly but now I use Ooma and am so much happier! Not to mention that local and long distance phone service is under $5 a month.

How-To Guides

Call me annoyed with the media but it seems that either there’s more irresponsible reporting lately or maybe it’s always been there and I’m just noticing it more.

For example, a recent newspaper article talked about growing copper thefts in the area. Because the value of copper was soaring, thieves are stealing copper wire and other copper items and selling it for scrap at salvage yards. This is news and deserves to be printed.

The irresponsible part of the article, in my opinion, was the detailed tutorial of how some of these thefts were committed. If someone reading the article didn’t know how to steal copper, they certainly knew exactly what to do by the time they finished the article.

Then there was the article which explained in detail how to "bump" a front door lock. If the reader needed more information, there are plenty of YouTube videos to watch.

At what point does news move from “fit to print” to “better left unsaid”?

Media Sensationalism

In a rural Florida town, a young mother shot her three young sons and then took her own life. Her mother was the one who discovered all four bodies. What a tragic occurrence for the family and what a chance for the media to offer sympathetic and empathetic reporting.

One newspaper gave readers the online links to listen to the “actual 911” call made by the father as his wife screams in the background.

Another newspaper featured front page photos as well as a detailed map so the morbidly curious could visit the murder-suicide site.

—————–

I can envision a TV news reporter trying to make a “breaking news” deadline:

Reporter and camera crew surround a grieving father as paramedics work over a small, still body lying in the middle of the street.

Reporter: Excuse me, sir, but is that your son?

Man in tears: Yes.

Reporter: I understand one of your neighbors hit him as he was backing out of his driveway.

Man in tears: Yes, I saw it all.

Reporter indicates to cameraman to do a close-up of father’s face.

Reporter: How does that make you feel?

Man in tears: Well, I’m pretty darn upset! His birthday is tomorrow and we’ve already wrapped his presents. The cake is waiting for us to pick it up at the grocery store and that was prepaid, had to do that so they’d put his name on it.

Reporter: Well, okay…

Man: I mean, my wife, his mother, she put a lot of thought into a party for him and now look at him! Lying out there, in the middle of the street, when we told him and told him not to play in the street!

Reporter: Okay…. um, thank you. Uh, we have another story to catch… (makes wrap-up motions to cameraman)

Man: Wait! Don’t you want some close-ups of him lying in the street? I’ll go lift the sheet for you!

My Fat Friends

I was reviewing the various spam emails I’ve received and when I saw “Make your fat friends envy you” as the subject of one email, it didn’t take a genius IQ to know why it was spam. Ordinarily I just hit the “delete” button and move on down the list. But there was something about those words that made me stop.

First, why would I want any of my friends to “envy” me? Is that the kind of relationship true friends have with each other? And do friends really call friends “fat” when they know how hurtful the term is?

When I was growing up, my mother set the rules for the types of friends I was allowed. Fat friends were off limits. In her dysfunctional world fat people weren’t socially acceptable. “You’re judged by who your friends are,” she would tell me as she tried to steer me toward the “in crowd.” Unfortunately for her, the in crowd wasn’t having anything to do with the likes of me, either.

I grew up being taunted for being too tall and too thin. “How’s the weather up there, Fat Pat?” In college, when I was chosen to model for Mademoiselle Magazine’s college feature, the in crowd whispered behind me, “They chose her? Why?” Some of their own hadn’t made the cut.

And now, old age and an underactive thyroid have pushed me into the fatso lane. Oh, I can call myself fat because I’ve always been my worst critic. But calling a friend fat? I’m a better friend than that. Wanting a friend to envy me? I’m still a better friend than that.

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