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***WARNING***
This page is not for everyone.  Some people may not enjoy the contents of this page.  Language could be offensive, and subject matter not to everyone's taste.  Read at your own risk and do not harass me.  Thank you. 

The Most Guilt Inducing Appliance Ever
 
When I married Mike, I not only got a kind and loving husband, but included in the entire package was . . . THE AMAZING RAINBOW VACUUM CLEANER, amongst other twaddle (that IS a word, I'll have you know).

Now, Mike has had a longtime love with this machine, and who am I to separate a man from his obsession.

I, on the other hand, have hated this machine for the past 9 years I've had to live with it.

Why, you ask?

Not because it cleans my house, upholstery, car, and curtains to the upmost degree.

And, not because I have jealous insecurities that Mike loves it more than he loves me.

Also, not because it is a TOTAL PAIN IN THE ASS to use. If you've ever had one, you know what I'm talking about. Have a minor spill? You need to fill the freaking canister with water, drag the entire contraption out of the basement storage room (the only place BIG enough to store this monstrosity), then vacuum up said mess, THEN empty water and dirt and debris SOMEWHERE, and re-store.

Not even because the whole unit is ungainly and tends to (a) get wrapped around it's own power cord constantly, (b) get wrapped around it's own suction tube thing (whatever that is called) occassionally, or (c) tips over and sometimes leaks dirty, nasty water onto my white carpet, ensuring I must get out the Resolve Carpet Cleaner next. . .

And, not even because the damn thing is 20 years old.

No, I can overlook these minor issues.

The thing I hate the most about this thing is when I get it out it takes me 4 STINKING HOURS to vacuum my house.

So what is the rational for vacuuming for four hours (and trust me folks, our house isn't big enough to justify this), you ask? Because it HAS all these options and attachments for cleaning everything damn thing in your house, including your screens, the top of your refrigerator, the sofa cushions, the air vents, windowsills, blinds, etc. And since you've dragged the whole cumbersome thing out, filled it up with water, and towed all the accessories around the house, you ACTUALLY FEEL GUILTY if you don't use them. Not that all those things in my house couldn't use a once over, but I guarantee if I had just a "normal" upright vacuum like I grew up with, it would take about an hour to vacuum.

But, then my house wouldn't have that "Rainbow Glow".

And FM would sob uncontrollably if I was to ever rid ourselves of it and replace it with a Dyson, as I keep threatening to do.

se.jpg
The freaking thing

One of the Most Stupid Rationalizations I've Ever Heard
 
I spend a lot of time "lurking" on other people's blogs.  It's like reading a book.  There's one blog that I've been visiting for the last couple months, but I probably will quit, as I've discovered others I like better and the author tends to be a bit, well, mean.  She also tends to be fat.  Not plump or voluptuous, but downright health troubles, bad old fat.  And, I personally don't have a problem with fat, but she does.  And, now she has decided to lose some fat, but here's her "biggest fear".  That if she loses weight, then men will hit on her because she's thin and beautiful and she may possibly be raped by one of them.
 
Some of her proof of this is she recently shed 15 pounds and some dude she rides the elevator with  everyday, but has never spoke to her in the past, starting speaking to her.  Oh my GOD!  The horror!  The danger!
 
HELLO?!?!?  WHAT?!?!?  She would rather walk around with what I'm guessing is at least 75 extra pounds, endangering her health, her life span, etc., than have men speak to her or admire her figure?  I don't get it. 
 
And, does she think her new found slimness and beauty will suddenly eclipse all other slim and beautiful people to make her the ever-present rapist's prime target?  I'm sorry, but EVERY woman is a potential rape victim, even little old ladies!
 
Mike says she's probably afraid of failing to lose weight, so she is making excuses as to why she doesn't want to lose weight.  I guess that makes sense, in some egotistical, crazy way.  She even once said about her weight and self-image, "I know I could probably still get laid if I wanted to,".   Geez.  Like that's a trick. . .  Obviously, some part of her personal self-esteem is wrapped up in what others think of her if she thinks like this!
 
Okay, enough making fun of someone's weak rationalizations.  I was once called the "Queen of Rationalization" as I could always come up with a reason why I should be able to do anything I wanted at anytime and participate in my vice of choice. . .
 
But really, that's WEAK.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 800 TAMPONS (OR SO)
 
Okay, you read the disclaimer at the top of the page, so maybe you are to blame if you are reading this and finding it distasteful, but seriously, these are some funny anecdotes about traveling around the world as a menstruating woman.
 
First, some background information (and I can't believe I'm actually doing this). 
 
Wikipedia's definition of tampon:

A tampon is a plug of cotton or other absorbent material inserted into a body cavity or wound to absorb fluid. The most common type in daily use is a usually disposable plug that is designed to be inserted into a woman's vagina during her menstrual period to absorb the flow of blood. The use of these devices has occasionally caused serious health related issues, such as infection and even death in rare cases (see Toxic shock syndrome). In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates tampons as medical devices.

I felt the need to do that as I have actually encountered adult males who do not know the difference between a tampon and a pad.  How that is possible I do not know.  Also, I would like to make mention of the fact that they come in different sizes, regular, super, super plus, which is indicative of their girth and absorbency power.  A regular tampon is about as big around as my little finger, a super plus is slightly smaller than a tube of lipstick and a super is somewhere in between (can't think of anything that size that all can relate to).  This will prove important later.

On a side note, once in my twenties, a man of comparable age asked me (and I quote verbatim), "What happens when you have your period?  Is it like a faucet or something?".  HUH?  And, my girlfriend's ex-husband (who was in his thirties at the time) actually asked her once (again, verbatim), "Can't you just shut it off for a while, like at night?".  GEEZ. 

Seriously.  How can men not know this stuff?  Especially grown-up (?), married men?   

So, now that we all know WHAT a tampon is, how it's used, etc., I will amuse you with "Tampons Around the World". 

Actually, that's pretty much a misnomer, as there are still many parts of the world where tampons are not readily available.  Or, in existence.  Which leads us to our first tale.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Our first trip after getting maried was to the Dominican Republic.  We were scheduled to be there from September to December.  I, having not traveled extensively for long periods of time, never thought about the tampon issue, thinking obviously that you just go to the store and buy them when you need them, right?  WRONG. 

Appears that the Catholic influence is so strong still in the Dominican Republic that you can't buy these innovative wads of cotton.  Seems there is still some belief that by using a tampon, you will be wrecking your virginity, thus making you less valuable as a future wife. 

In a panic, I searched relentlessly though grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores with no success.  Finally, in desperation, I asked a helpful lady at the hotel, who told me to go to one specific drugstore in town.  Where they promptly sold me a box of 5 (!!!) for $10.  Now, I think tampons are overpriced regardless.  At home I buy OB tampons, and they usually cost about $6 for 30.  And I find that outrageous.  I hate spending $6-9 a month on these stupid things, but what choice, really, do I have.  But, now, faced with the prospect of needing around 120 for the next three months, at about $2/pop. . . whew.  Mind blowing.

But, I learned my lesson, and I learned it well.  I bought a collapsible bathroom bag on my next trip home and jammed it full of six months worth of tampons in readiness for our next departure.  Which was Bulgaria (3 months), Moldova (6 weeks), Egypt (7 weeks), and then Korea (4 months).  Obviously, doing the math, I had miscalculated and not brought enough, which leads us to. . .

Seoul, Korea

Here I could not find a tampon. . . anywhere.  And, due to the language barrier, etc., I never did find out WHY they weren't there, only that they were NOT.  However, after about 6 weeks, Mike and I were dining at a TGI Friday's and I went to the bathroom, and lo and behold, they were passing them out!  I grabbed as many as I could.  Only to be sorely disappointed when I opened the first one and realized they were about as big around as a mechanical pencil.  What was I supposed to do with that?  Tie three of them together?  Worthless waste of cotton.  Fortunately, we went to Guam for a short visit while in Korea, and the K-Mart there was able to hook me up.

Amman, Jordan

Uneventful eight months or so in the tampon department until we were leaving Jordon.  Mike and I were the only two people at the airport at the time we were going through security, and for whatever reason the customs official there decided I needed to open my bags.  Okay, I typically don't argue with these people. . .

So, he unzips my travel bag of tampons, pulls one out and holds it up.  He is examining it from all angles (NOTE:  OB tampons do not come with applicators, they are just shrink-wrapped in plastic, so they resemble a cotton bullet or something), obviously not knowing what this strange item was.   The following "conversation" takes place:

Him:  "What ez dis?"

Me:  "A tampon, sir."

Him:  (Puzzled look on his face) "E what?"

Me:  "Still a tampon, sir."

Mike:  Dying of laughter about 20 feet away behind the customs official

Him:  "What for?"

Me:  (Uh OH, I really do not want to have this conversation about unclean menstrual blood with a Middle Eastern stranger) "Ummmm"

Him:  (Slightly angry) "What use for?"

Me:  (thinking quickly on my feet, pointing to my face) "It's for make-up, sir."

Him:  Ohhh, okay.  (zips bag back up, puts back in my suitcase.

WTF?

Of course, Mike almost wet his pants, telling me I should have pantomimed it for him.  I'm like, yea, and spend years in a Jordanian jail for propositioning a customs official.  Whatever, get on the plane.

All is well again with the world, breeze through easily until . . .

Rome, Italy

Now, understand, we were spending six months in Rome, with no idea if we would be going home afterwards or continuing on with our journeys, so I was thrilled to see that they widely sold OB tampons everywhere.  As our time was running down and we still didn't know where we were going next, and my supply was dwindling, I ducked into the neighborhood pharmacy and bought a couple of boxes of Super Plus. 

When I got back to the apartment, I opened the boxes to put them in my "tampon bag", and OH MY GOD, these were the BIGGEST tampons I've ever seen!  Bigger than a wine cork!  They were HUGE.  I was laughing uncontrollably, had to show Mike immediately.  I was worried about how I would ever get them back OUT!!! 

Guess Italian women are a little "loose", heeheehee.  Seriously, these were some whomping big tampons. 

Other places where even though I didn't need to buy any I couldn't find any:

  • Mauritania
  • Benin
  • Chad  (although to be fair, I only went in one actual store there)
  • Egypt
  • Burma

Okay, enough for now.  Just thought I'd share.  And, if you are a woman with a preference for tampons and you are still of a menstruating age and are leaving the country for an extended period of time to someplace a little off the beaten track - BRING SOME!  Even Lonely Planet Travel Guidebooks address this issue now.

Judge Not, Lest YOU be Judged
 
In the broad spectrum of things, I usually don't care what other people think of me.  I mean, we all have our insecurities, and there are situations where you really DO care (ie, you're ex-boyfriends wedding, your husband's Christmas party, a dinner with the Ambassador of a foreign country), and you put on your "proper" personality and hope for the best. 
 
But, I know who I am, and I know a lot of people do not "take" to me on the first try.  My friend in college used to say, "To meet Rachelle is to dislike her, to know her is to love her", which may not be exactly poetic, but has proven true.
 
In the words of an ex-work mate (and lifelong friend), I'm a bit of a rough girl.  I don't know if it comes from growing up with three brothers, working in male dominated fields most of my life, or is just an inherent part of my DNA, but I do usually say what I feel, and sometimes it's colorful.
 
Once a guy called me an "insincere bitch".  My response?  "There's nothing insincere about me.  If you think I'm being a bitch, it's sincere!". 
 
ANYWAY, it recently has come to my attention someboy/people my husband works with actually gossip(s) about me.  And here I thought that was a one way street!
 
There's a very nice young woman (about my age, so that's young) working on this project.  I don't get much "face time" with her, as I don't hang around Mike's work (due to security reasons, mostly), and we don't fraternize regularly after work.  But, I have met her on a few occasions, and although we are very different people (she would NEVER be called a bitch), we get along well and make each other laugh.
 
This past weekend, after about 100 beers, she told me "somebody" had told her we wouldn't get along.  That I was just too obnoxious.  Obviously, this someone's opinion of me is a bit lacking. . . but hey, they're not my ex-boyfriends fiance, my husband's boss, or a head of state, so who cares?  Right?
 
Wrong.  Ouch.  It hurts to hear people don't like you.  Especially when you think they do.  Because, baby, if I don't like you, you KNOW.  There is no mistake.  I don't fake it.  Now, if I can tolerate you, that's one thing.  But dislike?  I can't fake that.
 
In fairness, this person may not have been actually bashing me, but just explaining how different my persona is from this gals.  Which is completely true.  But to JUDGE we wouldn't get along, based solely on his knowledge of each of us, is wrong. 
 
I have been known to be a intensely compassionate, caring, loving person.  In fact, I am.  I also have all the same insecurities as the next person, which I hide deeply beneath humor, self-degredation, and sometimes lightly veiled insults.  A defense mechanism, if you will.  And probably not one of my best traits.  But, it IS who I AM, and as much as I have experimented in the past at changing, it doesn't "take".
 
But, don't you JUDGE me.  That hurts. 
 
However, I'm a hypocrite, because I judge others all the time.  So, in my insular life as a flatbacking wife, I just haven't had the opportunity to hear much about others opinions of me.  I didn't think they really had one, except for "that crazy woman Mike's married to who shows up at the bar/dinner/job site every once in a while".  And, I know the people out here who I consider my friends.  And, the ones I don't. 
 
But, it still hurts to be judged, so maybe, just maybe, I'll try to quit judging others.
 
But, probably not.  It's just too easy.
 
 

TRAVEL, ACNE, AND CONSTIPATION
 
Being a person prone to all three of these conditions, I am only commenting on the strange correlations existing between these three things and myself.
 
I always get constipated when I travel.  Doesn't matter if it's by air, car, bus, train, boat.   Also doesn't matter how far afield I roam or how close to home I am.  The first 3-4 days away are conspicuously abesent of that all important BM. 
 
But, it is considerably worse when I fly.  I have never, ever in my entire life been able to perform this highly personal act in an airplane closet bathroom.  And, friends, I've done a bit of flying.  But, not being able to "do it" on the plane is really not the problem, as the absolute longest you can be on a plane is around 16 hours (unless it's Valentine's Day 2007 and you are stuck on the tarmac without food or water for endless hours before actually taking off, which I heard was the case in the US this month and sounds highly dreadful and I thank my lucky stars this has NEVER happened to me because I would be the one starting a riot and would probably be escorted from the plane by a helpful FBI agent, but I digress).  Obviously, going 16 hours without a BM is not that bad. 
 
Usually, the days leading up to air travel tend to be a little stressful, what with the packing, buying air tickets, figuring out where you are going to stay when you arrive, etc.  And that stress leads to BUBMS (backed up bowel movement syndrome).  Then, you get on the plane with all the BUBM, fly for however many hours, eat all that delicious airline food, arrive in a completely different time zone with jetlag, and can't go!  For days.  Maybe four days. 
 
I have been told on occassion that I am "full of sh!t", but it never applies more than when we first arrive in a new country.  And, I hate it, hate it, hate it. 
 
Okay.  Now the acne.  Those of you who know me personally know I'm prone to the occassional zit or fourteen.  But again, probably due to the stress of the above mentioned things, my face seems to go crazy right before we are scheduled to leave a country.  I could have gone three months without a major breakout, but as soon as I buy an airline ticket, WHAMMO, there goes the neighborhood.  Who knows?  Maybe it's related to the BUBMS, all that toxicity stuck in my body.  (On a related note, TJ told me the other day that everyone is walking around with 7 pounds ((that's approximately 3.2 kilos for all non-Americans)) of poop in your colon all the time, which I find amazing and maybe a high colonic is the perfect quick weight-loss cure. . . ).
 
And I'm not even going into the issue of how unfair it is to be 38 and still have to worry about acne.  No one should have to worry about acne AND wrinkles at the same time.  There should be a universal law that once you develop crows feet you do NOT get another zit for as long as you live.  Anywhere.  Ever!  I envy/covet other women on many occassions for there beauty, thinness, fashion sense, designer clothes, etc., but the thing I really appreciate is flawless skin.  Sigh.  I NEVER had flawless skin. . . even as a child!  Oh, the unfairness of life. . . heeheee.
 
All I do know for a fact is these things all lead up to pre-travel anxiety, which doesn't help either condition.  And all the laxatives and Clearasil (or any of the other 122 thousand anti-acne products I have bought with high expectations and low results) in the world will not combat them.  I've tried.
 
But, I love my life and I LOVE to travel, so I guess I'd better just deal with it, eh? 
 
 

BEING TALLER THAN 95%* OF THE WORLD POPULATION
 
At 5'10.5" (179 centimeters to those metric people I'll call "the rest of the world outside America"), a height that over the last 23.5 years (same in metric) I've pretty much become accustomed to, I'm tall.  I reached my full height at about 14 years old (minus the inch ((2.54 centimeters)) I managed to somehow freakishly grow after university).
 
Now, I won't lie.  It used to bother me.  A lot.  Especially in my teens.  But in the last 17 years or so, it really hasn't been an issue. . . to me, at least.
 
But, I'm always surprised when I meet someone socially, or even randomly, and the first thing they say to me is, "Wow, you are really tall!". 
 
Really!?!?  Is that why I've always had a problem finding pants that reach my shoes?  Is that also why I've never had a problem seeing over crowds, reaching things in high places, and looking totally intimidating in a pair of rollerblades??
 
Now, in "their" (the people who feel the need to say this to me) defense, maybe they are just shocked to see someone tall and can't help but say it out loud.  But really, I'm not a freak, and it's not anything I can control if I wanted to.  It just happened that way.
 
But it is kind of annoying, and I always wonder what to say back.  I've tried variations on, "Why, yes, I am!", or even, "And you're really short", and once even "So what?!?"  However, I don't really feel satisfied with any of those responses.
 
Sometimes when I meet someone socially or randomly for the first time I want to say things like, "Your nose is REALLY REALLY big", or "WOW! Look at the size of your ears!", or "Boy, you really have NO fashion sense at all" and sometimes, "GEEZ, you qualify for one of the ugliest people I have EVER met".  But they all seem not very nice things to say to a complete stranger (or even a friend).
 
Not that commenting on someone's height is necessarily mean.  It's just so obvious.   I would never say, "Your hair is very brown",  or "Wow, you are Asian/Latino/Black/Purple/Martian".  Well, maybe I would say that if they were Martian, and I could recognize Martian.  Or purple.  Because that would just be un-uncommentable upon.
 
I guess I'm just wondering what I should say when people say that to me.  "Thank you" doesn't seem in order, as it's not really a compliment, and "Here's your sign"(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Engvall for those not understanding that reference) is just so over-used.
 
Anyway, enough about being tall.  Any suggestions on what to say to people who tell me I'm tall would be appreciated.  And please people, when you meet someone who you think is freakishly different, don't comment. . . that person probably already knows, and if they don't, it would be really, really rude to point it out to them.
 
*This statistic is based on my own scientific research, and based my belief, with the exception of some women who play for the WNBA, belong to remote African tribes, or are Icelandic Blonde Goddesses, I am taller than 98% of all women in the world.  Combined with my general observations on men around the world, who in general I seem to be taller than 89% of, then factor in there are more women than men in the world, 95% seems fairly accurate. . . All of this, of course, completely subjective and possibly inaccurate, but probably not by too much. . .

GLOBAL WARMING, ASIAN BIRD FLU, AND TERRORISM
 
Three things that have been in the news in abundance as of late.  One thing I hate about all discussions related to these topics is when experts say, "It's not a matter of if, but when". 
 
Well, DUH!  Isn't that always the case? 
 
Take Global Warming (and no, I don't want to get into a debate on whether or not it's happening and to what extent people are responsible, or what the government(s) are or are not doing to help).  I want to address the absurd statement of "not if, when". 
 
Let's look at the history of the world, and I'm talking about the TOTAL history of the world, not just the last 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 years.  Of course the earth will get warmer, it has on many different and separate occasions.  So, all we have to do is wait, and it will get warmer, and then probably colder, and sea levels will change, and maybe continents will shift, and some species will become extinct, some will live, and some may actually mutate to accommodate the changes (like cockroaches, flies, and flesh eating bacteria).  This is the HISTORY OF THE WORLD folks.  It CHANGES.  All the time.  Did we cause it?  Hmmm.  We may be contributing to it, but we are but a small speck in the history of the world.  And guess what?  The world doesn't care if we are here or not, in fact it would probably prefer that we were not, if the world actually could have a preference.  It probably liked the dinosaurs a whole lot more than us (although their carbon monoxide output was probably larger than our current bovine population and cars combined, most of them ate quite a bit of fiber), which may in turn have led to their extinction due to climate change caused by dinosaur farting. 
 
Who knows?  What we do know is since the beginning of "earth time", our planet has been constantly under change.  More species have become extinct than are currently living.  So, of course it's a matter of WHEN, I don't need an expert to tell me this.
 
Same with bird flu.  So far, bird flu has been the direct cause of death in 168 people, mostly in Indonesia where chickens live in people's houses.  It HAS killed a lot of birds, however, so it is quite dangerous if you are a chicken.  But, different (but equally as wise) experts are telling us we are on the brink of a flu pandemic, and again, it's not a questions of if, but when. 
 
DUH!  Since humans have walked the earth there have been flu pandemics.  Remember (well, not literally, but from your studies of history) The Plague in Europe?  Wiped out a third of the population, right?  Isn't it reasonable to assume eventually there WILL be another flu pandemic. . . whether it's Asian Bird Flu or some other strain. (This is a pretty interesting history of flu pandemics throughout the ages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death)
 
And terrorism.  After 9/11 all the terrorist experts (?) were saying this was just the tip of the iceberg, and it wasn't a matter of if, but when. 
 
DUH!  Especially with all the US and Allied actions since then to exacerbate hate and jihad toward the western world.  July 7, 2005 in London and the Madrid train bombings just showed us how right those terrorist experts are. 
 
Isn't everything just a matter of when?  Really?  Humans have this strange belief that we are in charge of or can control everything.  Unless you believe in God (or Allah or Muhammad or Buddha), then you believe a higher power is in charge.  Either way, things are going to evolve at their own rate and speed, and there is NOTHING we can do about it (well, maybe there are some things we can do to help save the environment and certain species, promote anti-hate campaigns against the religion of Islam, try and keep all infected chickens away from humans, cats, and dogs, etc), but what will happen will happen in the big picture.  I'm not trying to paint a hopeless picture, just saying I'm SO SICK AND TIRED of hearing so called experts say, "Well, (insert television interviewer's name here), it's really not a question of if, but when". 
 
DUH!
 
Here are some of my "expert" predictions:
 
"It's not a matter of if, but when":
  • there will be another full scale world war
  • Muslims will outnumber Christians (I think they already do)
  • China will take over the world, and then probably lose it to India, who in turn will lose it to Brazil or Russia or someone else
  • Humans will become extinct
  • Polar Bears will become extinct
  • Earth will become extinct

It's just a matter of when. . . .

Enough said.

 
 

PROSTITUTES AND OLD MEN
 
Seriously, I don't care prostitution exists, as long as both partners are in it voluntarily, they are both consenting adults, and nobody gets hurt.  Exploitation of children and woman are two issues I'm not going to discuss here, even though it is my website and I can talk about anything I want, it's just too depressing.  But when Filipino or Thai "ladies of the evening" come to Hong Kong (or wherever) to make a living voluntarily, I'm not going to judge them.  I'm probably not going to make friends with them, but live and let live, right?
 
But who I am going to judge is the old guy sitting next to her in the bar.  And the reason I'm going to judge you is because YOU LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT!  Now, if you want to pay a girl to have sex with you, do it and get it done with, and do it someplace in private.  Paying a girl who is 20 when you are 60 to go to dinner and sit with you before or after getting down to the business of what you hired her for may ease your conscience or make it seem more like a "date" to you instead of sex for money, but you look so ridiculous.  And, everyone else know what's going on.  Maybe you know that and don't care what everyone else thinks, maybe you don't.  I don't know, I never asked you. 
 
In fact, now that I'm typing this, I've decided I don't want you to quit, 'cause it's DAMN FUNNY to see you sitting there acting like you're on a date!
 
And, don't "fall in love" with these girls.  They are professionals.  They will take you for everything they can.  That is their equivalency to hitting the lotto.
 
'Nuf said.  Thanks for providing the entertainment, though.