Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Let's talk Football...

I just got the NFL preseason game schedule and all I can say is wow. For the most part, this is a waste of time. There are a couple of exceptions worth noting however...

The NFL preseason will open with the Oakland Raiders playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio. Unless the Raiders and the Eagles show a LOT of improvement, this game will be a waste of time. The only reason to watch this game is because it's the first taste of football that anyone's had in a couple of months.

Other prime-time national telecasts will be:

Indianapolis-St. Louis on Aug. 10 This game is a blow out and only worth watching for the morbid fascination that get's satified while one team completely destroy and dominate another. It's like watching a mean 15 year old beat up on his seven year old brother. Colts use the Rams to break down the door leading to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

New England at Atlanta on Aug. 11 Another blow out. I guess that they're keeping the exciting games for later. Patriots win. Even though they only use their second string players.

Washington at Cincinnati on Aug. 13 This may be a decent game of the Redskins step up. I doubt it though.

Oakland at Minnesota on Aug. 14 in ESPN's debut as the Monday night outlet for games. Another look at MEDIOCRACY.

Kansas City at the New York Giants on Aug. 17 Finally, a game worth watching. Both teams have gone through a LOT of changes and it'll be interesting to see what they can do.
San Diego at Chicago on Aug. 18 Eh. That's about as much excitement that I cn muster up. Sorry.

Arizona at New England on Aug. 19 Another spanking in the making. It's hard to believe that Arizona is still a team. I know that they win games on occasion. I guess that even a sorry team can roll the dice and get lucky. I put the Cards with the Saints as some of the worst teams in the NFL.

Seattle at Indianapolis on Aug. 20 This'll be a great game even though it's only a preseason one.

Dallas vs. New Orleans at Shreveport, La., on Aug. 21 Who cares?

Miami at Carolina on Aug. 24 It'll be interesting in an academic sorta way to see if either has improved at all.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia on Aug. 25 If the Eagles have stepped up their game, which I doubt, this'll be a good game. Otherwise the Steelers jagernaut will just keep on rolling.

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville on Aug. 26 Again, not much interest. I'll root for the Bucs though.

Houston at Denver on Aug. 27 This is the game that I've been dreaming of. My two favorite teams going heads. And the Texans actually stand a chance of winning, which makes it even better! Denver's Offensive guru-in-residence for the last eleven years, Gary Kubiak, is now the Texans' Head Coach. With the changes that he's made to the team, and the knowledge that he has of the Broncos, I would not be surprised to see the Texans win this one. Go Texans! Yea!!!

and Green Bay at Cincinnati on Aug. 28. Bengals DOMINATE! Nuff said.


Well, as usual, my wife has over-reacted. She is closing down her blog because people disagreed with what she wrote. She did add a comment to each item on her list that I responded to originally. By reading her additions it's easy to see that she doesn't understand anything that I wrote other than the laundry comment, which I'll agree wasn't the most PC thing to say, but at least I was honest. The only thing that I do with laundry is gather it up and carry baskets of it up and down the stairs. Of course, I also watch the kids...

Oh well. The only local female shrink that I found is not taking on new clients. I don't think that my wife would see a male shrink. Even if she did, I doubt that she'd seriously consider anything that he said. If he disagreed with her, she'd most likely chalk it up to him being male and therefore incapable of understanding her female point of view.

I'm at a loss. I don't know what to do other than to stay on top of the dishes and to spend more time with the kids.

We just got memberships to 24 Hours Fitness and after everything, including dinner, was done I wanted to go swimming. She told me that she wanted me to stay and play with the kids until their bed time which isn't until 2000 hours.

Well, I get up at 0500 and work till 1630 hours. I had a seriously stressful week, with most of the stress centered on yesterday, and I had to deal with my wrecked minivan and the rental car (we get our van back tomorrow and I had to rent the POS rental for another day).

After rough housing with the kids for most of an hour I was too tired to go swimming. Which is fine with me because I got a workout. But I know that my wife will start up on me for not going to the gym and for the money wasting with our membership. What she'll never realize is that she is the reason that I haven't gone yet. Everytime that I try to go she holds me back.

I'm going swimming tonight.

I am working out tomorrow.

It's gonna be cool.

My Wife Kills me...

My wife has been getting extremely mean, depressed and moody lately. Seeing that something was very obviously bothering her, and not happy with her general crabbiness, I tried several times to talk to her to see what was going on, but she shut me down. Finally, I asked her to write down what was wrong in an organized 1, 2, 3, fashion.

She did make a great effort and wrote everything down for me. Of course, I responded to everything that she wrote and that was when the fit hit the shan.

Apparently, I am not allowed to disagree with anything, no matter how nicely I do it. I got reamed and treated even worse than I did before I got her to tell me what was wrong. What's worse, she posted both her problems and my responses to them on her blog. Because we corresponded via email at work, I had my signature at the bottom of it which includes my real name, work phone number, and work email address! She posted all that information along with the rest of it! Boy, was I pissed!

I asked her to take my work information and name off of her blog. She snapped at me. I tried explaining that since all of our phones calls are recorded and our emails are monitored here at work (which she knows since she works here too), if random people start emailing and calling me then I can and probably will get fired. And so would she. She just snapped at me again.

Then something funny happened. People started commenting on her blog. First our friend Dawn, then our friend Jess. Each of them know and are friends with both my wife and myself. Dawn has known throughout the entirety of our five year marriage and Jess has know us since we got hired on about five months ago.

Each of these women pointed out to my wife that I was being very fair and considerate. They also pointed out that I do a LOT of stuff around the house, with the kids, and for my wife that not only never gets acknowledged or appreciated, but I get reamed for never doing anything. Each of them pointed out, in the nicest way possible, that in their experience with us, I do almost anything while my wife sits there complaining about how I never do enough.

When my wife read their responses she lost it. She was crying and throwing a fit for most of an hour. We work side by side in an office. Office executives, HR, peers, and supervisors get stopping by to see what was wrong and to offer her their support.

Now, I understand that she is pregnant, and thus is far more emotionl than normal, even for her. I also know that she is having a hard time dealing with the fact that my little brother is living with us for a time and that he doesn't have a job. Which is understandable even though the rent that we are charging him is garanteed.

But as Dawn pointed out, almost all the problems that my wife has have been going on for years and can't be blamed on her pregnacy.

Someone who shall remain nameless summed it up extremely well by saying that my wife has a martyr complex. She hates herself and does everything in her power to make her life miserable. Then, when bad things happen or things pile up and get out of control, she can wail about how horrible her life is. Then other people, mostly the people who either don't know us or people who love us and want to show that love, sympathize with her and give her the pity and support that she needs.

For example: At every job that she has had before our current one (since we've been married) she jumps into the job with zeal and ferver. She does anything and everything that her supervisor and coworkers ask of her. When she worked at Payless her boss or the shift manager would call her almost daily to come in early (so that they could leave early), stay late (so that they could show up late) and to come in and work for an hour or so on her day off (so that they could make a deposit at the bank, or go out to lunch). The people at Payless did this so often that my wife only had a full day off every couple of weeks, AND SHE WAS A PART TIME EMPLOYEE!!!

It got to be so intrusive that I had to tell her that she had to stop. Family comes first and $7 an hour is very definately not worth it. Of course, she didn't like that but came to agree with me over time because it wore her out. The day that she told them no was a bitter experience for her. They reamed her for not being a "team player" and for "letting them down". What a crock. It got to the point that I would answer the phone and tell them no for her and they wqould try giving me a hard time. Not the brightest thing in the world to do.

Another thing that my wife did at Payless and every other job before this one is to complain constantly about me.

Now I can understand bitching about someone on occasion when you're upset. That's what I'm doing right now in fact. But if that is all that you do, and you never say nice things, then what are you saying? That you don't love the person that you are talking about.

My wife's sister Anita was dating a guy name Keith when my wife and I got married. The three or four times that I had met Anita all she did was bitch incessantly about Kieth. She talked non-stop and never said a single nice thing. All she did was complain about what a horrible guy he was. She was always asking people for relationship advice and when she did so, they would sympathize with her and give her bad placating advice that made her feel better.

Thinking on it a bit, I see that Anita has the martyr complex too. They get it from their mother. They see it in her but they refuse to see how they are emulating her. Damn...

Then Anita made the mistake of asking me for advice. I told her that she didn't love Kieth and that she should dump him and move on. The reasoning was simple. If you are in a relationship with someone, and you complain ALL THE TIME about that person, then you are not happy. If that is ALL THAT YOU DO, in others words, if you NEVER SAY ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT THAT PERSON, then you obviously DON'T LOVE THEM. If you don't love the person and you aren't happy, then it's time to MOVE ON!

Needless to say, Anita was less than thrilled with this and told me (through my wife of course) never to give her advice again. I told Anita (to her face) and my wife that I am an honest person and that if you don't want honest advice, then don't ask me.

Anita did break up with Kieth a short time later. He went psycho and slashed her tires and she ended up having him arrested for violating a restraining order.

My wife has been doing to me the same thing to me that Anita did to Kieth. She complains to everyone what a horrible person, husband, and father I am to anyone who'll listen and a few who don't. She even posts rants about me on her blog, venting she calls it.

I hate that.

I tell my wife daily (usually I do this even when we are fighting, although I haven't done this in the past four days) that I love her, that she is beautiful, and I hug her and do things for her. I do the same with my kids. On occasion, I bitch about something (like this) that they do that completely infuriates me or that comepletely depresses me (like now). This is normal and shows how much I love my wife and family.

What is my wife showing me with her behaviour? She does the exact opposite. 90% of the time she is complaining about what a horrible person, husband, and father I am, and then tells me that she loves me on occasion. What the hell?

My friend Dawn is married to a lovable geeky guy named Grant. They got married a year before I did and they are good friends to bo my wife and myself. No matter how much I love hanging out with them and their kids (who are the same number and age of our kids), I get jealous and depressed when I visit. Even when Dawn was nine months pregnant and complete bitchy (sorry Dawn, but you were) they treated each other with more love and consideration than I get from my wife.

If I were a third party bystander the only reason that I could give for my wife and I to remain together would be the kids. You can't have a relationship built on that.

Where is the love? Why is this so one-sided?

I know that I started this by referring to her complaints and my responses. I'd like you to read them for yourself and to tell me what you think.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What happens when I ask for help!!!

Issues with the situation at home!

1.The new addition to the household!

a. Jon needs to take CARE of Himself and clean up after himself! If he cooks food using our dishes the least he can do is help out cleaning them, not leaving them for me. Same goes for Calamar-moldy dishes is not my forte!

I will talk to Jon about cleaning up after himself. We do need to start doing what Dawn said and do a load of dishes every night. We could trade off on this and we could have Jon do so as well. The biggest mess is at night with us cooking and eating dinner. Everything else should be a Clean As You Go type of thing, which none of us do. Maybe we could put up a clean/dirty sign on the dishwasher like we do at work.

b. I wouldn't mind him using our medical supplies as long as he asks. It's rude to assume your aloud to use anything in the house. We supply the toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, fabric softener, etc. The only thing he supplies for himself is food and not even that is all the time.

I will talk to him about this.

c. If he wants to place his opinion then he better be prepared for mine! I feel like I have to explain myself to him at every corner. But I don't tell him that I don't think he's looking hard enough for a job to live on his own. Don't get me wrong you can have time to yourself but there is also a time to be serious about where you want to go in your life.

If he starts giving you an unasked for opinion, then tell him to stop. Tell him you didn't ask for his opinion and don't want it or make a joke about how he shouldn't be talking. Stand up for yourself but don't yell or get all emotional or he'll just tune you out. I can't really help you with this. I've already spoken to him and he said that he'd try not giving you his opinion. This is a communication problem between the two of you.

d. If he has so much time on his hands he could help out around the house especially if he's there more than us! He shouldn't have an opinion on how the house looks because he makes the mess to, "I'm not his maid, and that's how I feel"!

I'll talk to him about helping out more. Especially on his slack off time.

2. Problems in general with the household!a. I can only do so much around the house it would help if you could pick up some of the slack! We both work full time jobs yet I feel like I'm obligated to cook all of the meals, get the kids ready for bed as in brush their teeth make sure they go potty and tuck them in. Then make sure all of the foods put away so it doesn't do bad.

I do all of these chores half the time or more. Jon is the one who usually puts away the food. You are usually too tired or you don't want me cooking.

b. Time off should be a crucial thing for both of us, but all I know of doing on our days off is cleaning and trying to keep things caught up in the household. I feel like if I don't do it, it wont get done.

Usually, I watch the kids while you clean. If it helps, I'll start taking them out again. The only reason that I stopped leaving the house is:
A. Jon will be there, usually.
B. We've been pretty short on money and going out costs money.

c. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what I have to do, and what goes through my mind!My list of chores!

1. Dishes, rinse, put in the dish washer, start dish washer, wipe down counters, clean the floor if I'm not to tired!

We all need to start taking care of the dishes. That will lessen the load on you, but you will have to help. When you are done with a dish, like your empty cereal bowl in the morning, just rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher. We'll run the dishwasher every night and either Jon or I will empty that night or the next morning. This is a group effort.

2. Clean the floor in the living room, try to clear off the table of all of the junk. Do a wipe down of all knickknacks if not tired. Once a month if I'm lucky!

This is not a big issue.

3. Laundry I try to clean it on Sunday's then fold and put it away on Monday night while watching my show. and that's taking care of all of the clothes for four people, soon to be five!

This is completely true. I would also like it if you would iron my shirts so that I can look professional for work.

4. In the morning I prepare our lunches and setup breakfast if your willing to eat it with me or eat what I make you. I now we both take turns on waking the kids up and I appreciate that. I drive us to work every morning and every afternoon driving us home, while you sleep.

I wake the kids, dress them, and take them potty almost daily. I also take Sable potty, start and warm up the car, load it up, and deal with all the various requests that you make. We each have things that we do. I appreciate what you do, but I would like it if you showed appreciation for what I do as well.

5. I prefer to give the kids a bath every other day but being this big and this tired wears me out a lot faster then before. And yes I have my lazy moments!

I think that the kids are good bathing every few days with extra baths thrown in when they get really dirty. That's how you and I bathe, why are they different?

Basically what I'm saying is if we could switch off on the chores it would help me tremendously, and I might actually find some RELAX ABLE time to myself to so where I can paint draw or doing something I want to do on my own terms. I can't just drop what I'm doing and force myself to draw! It's a lot easier to pick up a book or xbox controller then it is a pencil or paint brush.

Picking up a brush or drawing is just as easy as a book or video game. Easier in some aspects, harder in others, especially painting. You have plenty of time, you just don't use it. Instead of sitting on the couch watching TV or bitching at me for playing games while you sit there, entertain yourself. Whoop out your sketch pad and draw the kids or something. If you want to draw me, the best time would be when I'm playing right? You don't have to get after me because I relax and entertain myself. Just do the same thing. I would be more than happy to watch you play Star Wars but you won't. Why is that my fault? Finding times and ways for you to relax is up to you, not me. I've been trying to help you, but the most that you'll do is take a nap, and then you get after me for playing games or reading while you take a nap. That's not fair! And I do have a basis for comparison!

I know you want to have your fun too, and I'm not saying you can't have time to yourself but it just seems like that's all you want and playing on the xbox for a good couple of hours or reading a book for about the same time if not longer is a lot of time to yourself. Some how I feel like after this you still wont understand my pain in this!

I don't know what else to say!

Say: "O.k. Tony. I see where you're coming from and I understand through your comments that you are going to be making an effort to help out more, especially with dishes.

I also understand that there are some things that I have to do myself. Shutting Jon down in a mature reasonable fashion when he starts giving me his unasked for opinion is a good example.

I also realize that you need acknowledgement and occasional praise for what you do around the house. I will strive to be more appreciative.

Knowing that you and Jon will make a better effort to help around the house relieves a lot of stress. I will make a bigger effort to relax and try to enjoy myself more often. I will also try and learn how to take time off and get some quality alone time.

Thank you."

Tony in red
me in blue

posted by asudem69 @ 7:22 AM

Now, I didn't change anything in what she posted other then to leave her comments in green. I noticed that she did take off my work information for which I'm grateful.

As a bit of follow-up:

1. I have been keeping on top of the dishes for the past two days. Jon has been helping as of last night. There are no dirty dishes in the kitchen. Jon has stated that he will wipe down the counters and sink today.

2. I spoke with Jon for about two hours last night. I had printed off the list above and went over each item with him in detail. He agreed with everything that I said and vowed to do more at home.

I also mentioned to him that I've noticed that he's been avoiding the house. He said that it was true and that he did so because of how uncomfortable he felt around my wife. He stated that since he moved in she has been bitching constantly about how awful I am, the depressing state of the house, and how she does everything. He said that what he has seen is that I end up doing almost everything while my wife sits on the couch complaining.

I felt that this was an exageration and told him so. However, I spoke with several friends and mentioned what he had said and they all agreed. They said that whether at my house or theirs, my wife will find spot and sit there FOR THE DURATION OF THE VISIT while I do everything.

She may get up on occasion to go to the rest room or to help when we are getting ready to leave. She also helps make and serve meals. Other than that, she has me do everything.

As Jon said, she bitches at me until I do it. He's right.

I said in here how people who love each other do not bitch, moan, and complain about their "loved one" on a constant basis. I think that this blog is a great example of that. I have almost a hundred posts on this blog. I mention my wife several times and this is the first time that I've complained about her. Every other post that she is mentioned in has me telling you how much I love her and how beautiful she is. That's the way that it should be.

What do you think Dear Reader?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

IT Problems

Dear Tech Support:
Last year I upgraded from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0. I soon noticed that the new program began unexpected child processing that took up a lot of space and valuable resources.

In addition, Wife 1.0 installed itself into all other programs and now monitors all other system activity. Applications such as Poker Night 10.3, Football 5.0, Hunting and Fishing 7.5, and Racing 3.6.

I can't seem to keep Wife 1.0 in the background while attempting to run my favorite applications. I'm thinking about going back to Girlfriend 7.0, but the uninstall doesn't work on Wife 1.0.

Please help! Thanks, A Troubled User.


REPLY: Dear Troubled User:

This is a very common problem that men complain about.

Many people upgrade from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0, thinking that it is just a Utilities and Entertainment program. Wife 1.0 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and is designed by its Creator to run EVERYTHING!!! It is also impossible to delete Wife 1.0 and to return to Girlfriend 7.0. It is impossible to uninstall, or purge the program files from the system once installed.

You cannot go back to Girlfriend 7.0 because Wife 1.0 is designed to not allow this. Look in your Wife 1.0 manual under Warnings-Alimony-Child Support. I recommend that you keep Wife1.0 and work on improving the situation. I suggest installing the background application "Yes Dear" to alleviate software augmentation.

The best course of action is to enter the command C:\APOLOGIZE because ultimately you will have to give the APOLOGIZE command before the system will return to normal anyway. Wife 1.0 is a great program, but it tends to be very high maintenance. Wife 1.0 comes with several support programs, such as Clean and Sweep 3.0, Cook It 1.5 and Do Bills 4.2.

However, be very careful how you use these programs. Improper use will cause the system to launch the program Nag Nag 9.5. Once this happens, the only way to improve the performance of Wife 1.0 is to purchase additional software. I recommend Flowers 2.1 and Diamonds 5.0 ! WARNING!!! DO NOT, under any circumstances, install Secretary With Short Skirt 3.3. This application is not supported by Wife 1.0 and will cause irreversible damage to the operating system.

Best of luck, Tech Support

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Cultists in Hollywood

I am going to post a very interesting article that examines the cult of Scientology that's running roughshod through Hollywood. This cult, and any meaningful conversation about Scientology should use the proper term--mistakenly referring to it as a religion gives it way too much credibility--seems to draw the dumbest of the dumb in Hollywood to it's crusade. Well, let's face it, if you we're looking for some stupid people with a lot of money where would you go? Scientology picking the crazies and the terminally stupid in Hollywood makes perfect sense. Cults tend to draw weak minded people and this cult in particular seems to thrive on actors and actresses with very little going on upstairs. I.E. Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise etc.

Time Magazine May 6, 1991 page 50.Special Report (cover story)Copyright © 1991 Time Magazine

The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power

Ruined lives. Lost fortunes. Federal crimes. Scientology poses as a religion but really is a ruthless global scam -- and aiming for the mainstream

by Richard Behar

By all appearances, Noah Lottick of Kingston, Pa., had been a normal, happy 24-year-old who was looking for his place in the sun. On the day last June when his parents drove to New York City to obtain his body, they were nearly catatonic with grief.

This young Russian-studies scholar had jumped from a 10th-floor window of the Milford Plaza Hotel and bounced off the hood of a stretch limousine. When the police arrived, his fingers were still clutching $171 in cash, virtually the only money he hadn't turned over to the Church of Scientology, the self-help "philosophy" group he had discovered just seven months earlier.

His death inspired his father Edward, a physician, to start his own investigation of the church. "We thought Scientology was something like Dale Carnegie," Lottick says. "I now believe it's a school for psychopaths." Their so-called therapies are manipulations. They take the best and the brightest people and destroy them." The Lotticks want to sue the church for contributing to their son's death, but the prospect has them frightened. For nearly 40 years, the big business of Scientology has shielded itself exquisitely behind the First Amendment as well as a battery of high-priced criminal lawyers and shady private detectives.

The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to "clear" people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner. At times during the past decade, prosecutions against Scientology seemed to be curbing its menace. Eleven top Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife, were sent to prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing and wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations. In recent years hundreds of longtime Scientology adherents -- many charging that they were mentally of physically abused -- have quit the church and criticized it at their own risk. Some have sued the church and won; others have settled for amounts in excess of $500,000. In various cases judges have labeled the church "schizophrenic and paranoid" and "corrupt, sinister and dangerous."

Yet the outrage and litigation have failed to squelch Scientology. The group, which boasts 700 centers in 65 countries, threatens to become more insidious and pervasive than ever. Scientology is trying to go mainstream, a strategy that has sparked a renewed law- enforcement campaign against the church. Many of the group's followers have been accused of committing financial scams, while the church is busy attracting the unwary through a wide array of front groups in such businesses as publishing, consulting, health care and even remedial education.

In Hollywood, Scientology has assembled a star-studded roster of followers by aggressively recruiting and regally pampering them at the church's "Celebrity Centers," a chain of clubhouses that offer expensive counseling and career guidance. Adherents include screen idols Tom Cruise and John Travolta, actresses Kirstie Alley, Mimi Rogers, and Anne Archer, Palm Springs mayor and performer Sonny Bono, jazzman Chick Corea and even Nancy Cartwright, the voice of cartoon star Bart Simpson. Rank-and-file members, however, are dealt a less glamorous Scientology.

According to the Cult Awareness Network, whose 23 chapters monitor more than 200 "mind control" cults, no group prompts more telephone pleas for help than does Scientology. Says Cynthia Kisser, the network's Chicago-based executive director: "Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its members." Agrees Vicki Aznaran, who was one of Scientology's six key leaders until she bolted from the church in 1987: "This is a criminal organization, day in and day out. It makes Jim and Tammy [Bakker] look like kindergarten." To explore Scientology's reach, TIME conducted more than 150 interviews and reviewed hundreds of court records and internal Scientology documents. Church officials refused to be interviewed. The investigation paints a picture of a depraved yet thriving enterprise. Most cults fail to outlast their founder, but Scientology has prospered since Hubbard's death in 1986. In a court filing, one of the cult's many entities -- the Church of Spiritual Technology -- listed $503 million in income just for 1987. High-level defectors say the parent organization has squirreled away an estimated $400 million in bank accounts in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Cyprus. Scientology probably has about 50,000 active members, far fewer than the 8 million the group claims. But in one sense, that inflated figure rings true: millions of people have been affected in one way or another by Hubbard's bizarre creation.

Scientology is now run by David Miscavige, 31, a high school dropout and second-generation church member. Defectors describe him as cunning, ruthless and so paranoid about perceived enemies that he kept plastic wrap over his glass of water. His obsession is to obtain credibility for Scientology in the 1990s. Among other tactics, the group:

• Retains public relation powerhouse Hill and Knowlton to help shed the church's fringe-group image.

• Joined such household names as Sony and Pepsi as a main sponsor of Ted Turner's Goodwill Games.

• Buys massive quantities of its own books from retail stores to propel the titles onto best-seller lists.

• Runs full-page ads in such publications as Newsweek and Business Week that call Scientology a "philosophy," along with a plethora of TV ads touting the group's books.
• Recruits wealthy and respectable professionals through a web of consulting groups that typically hide their ties to Scientology.

The founder of this enterprise was part storyteller, part flimflam man. Born In Nebraska in 1911, Hubbard served in the Navy during World War II and soon afterward complained to the Veterans Administration about his "suicidal inclinations" and his "seriously affected" mind. Nevertheless, Hubbard was a moderately successful writer of pulp science fiction. Years later, church brochures described him falsely as an "extensively decorated" World War II hero who was crippled and blinded in action, twice pronounced dead and miraculously cured through Scientology. Hubbard's "doctorate" from "Sequoia University" was a fake mall-order degree. In a I984 case in which the church sued a Hubbard biographical researcher, a California judge concluded that its founder was "a pathological liar."

Hubbard wrote one of Scientology's sacred texts, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, in 1950. In it he introduced a crude psychotherapeutic technique he called "auditing." He also created a simplified lie detector (called an "E-meter") that was designed to measure electrical changes In the skin while subjects discussed intimate details of their past. Hubbard argued that unhappiness sprang from mental aberrations (or "engrams") caused by early traumas. Counseling sessions with the E-meter, he claimed, could knock out the engrams, cure blindness and even improve a person's intelligence and appearance.

Hubbard kept adding steps, each more costly, for his followers to climb. In the 1960s the guru decreed that humans are made of clusters of spirits (or "thetans") who were banished to earth some 75 million years ago by a cruel galactic ruler named Xenu. Naturally, those thetans had to be audited.

An Internal Revenue Service ruling in 1967 stripped Scientology's mother church of its tax-exempt status. A federal court ruled in 1971 that Hubbard's medical claims were bogus and that E-meter auditing could no longer be called a scientific treatment. Hubbard responded by going fully religious, seeking First Amendment protection for Scien- tology's strange rites. His counselors started sporting clerical collars. Chapels were built, franchises became "missions," fees became "fixed donations," and Hubbard's comic-book cosmology became "sacred scriptures.'

During the early 1970s, the IRS conducted its own auditing sessions and proved that Hubbard was skimming millions of dollars from the church, laundering the money through dummy corporations in Panama and stashing it in Swiss bank accounts. Moreover, church members stole IRS documents, filed false tax returns and harassed the agency's employees. By late 1985, with high-level defectors accusing Hubbard of having stolen as much as S200 million from the church, the IRS was seeking an indictment of Hubbard for tax fraud. Scientology members "worked day and night" shredding documents the IRS sought, according to defector Aznaran, who took part in the scheme. Hubbard, who had been in hiding for five years, died before the criminal case could be prosecuted.

Today the church invents costly new services with all the zeal of its founder. Scientology doctrine warns that even adherents who are "cleared" of engrams face grave spiritual dangers unless they are pushed to higher and more expensive levels. According to the church's latest price list, recruits -- "raw meat," as Hubbard called them -- take auditing sessions that cost as much as $1,000 an hour, or $12,500 for a 12 1/2-hour "intensive."

Psychiatrists say these sessions can produce a drugged-like, mind-controlled euphoria that keeps customers coming back for more. To pay their fees, newcomers can earn commissions by recruiting new mem- bers, become auditors themselves (Miscavige did so at age 12), or join the church staff and receive free counseling in exchange for what their written contracts describe as a "billion years" of labor. "Make sure that lots of bodies move through the shop," implored Hubbard in one of his bulletins to officials. "Make money. Make more money. Make others produce so as to make money . . . However you get them in or why, just do it."

Harriet Baker learned the hard way about Scientology's business of selling religion. When Baker, 73, lost her husband to cancer, a Scientologist turned up at her Los Angeles home peddling a $1,300 auditing package to cure her grief. Some $15,000 later, the Scientologists discovered that her house was debt free. They arranged a $45,000 mortgage, which they pressured her to tap for more auditing until Baker's children helped their mother snap out of her daze. Last June, Baker demanded a $27,000 refund for unused services, prompting two cult members to show up at her door unannounced with an E-meter to interrogate her. Baker never got the money and, financially strapped, was forced to sell her house in September.

Before Noah Lottick killed himself, he had paid more than $5,000 for church counseling. His behavior had also become strange. He once remarked to his parents that his Scientology mentors could actually read minds. When his father suffered a major heart attack, Noah insisted that it was purely psychosomatic. Five days before he jumped, Noah burst into his parents' home and demanded to know why they were spreading "false rumors" about him -- a delusion that finally prompted his father to call a psychiatrist.

It was too late. "From Noah's friends at Dianetics" read the card that accompanied a bouquet of flowers at Lottick's funeral. Yet no Scientology staff members bothered to show up. A week earlier, local church officials had given Lottick's parents a red-carpet tour of their center. A cult leader told Noah's parents that their son had been at the church just hours before he disappeared -- but the church denied this story as soon as the body was identified. True to form, the cult even haggled with the Lotticks over $3,000 their son had paid for services he never used, insisting that Noah had intended it as a "donation."

The church has invented hundreds of goods and services for which members are urged to give "donations." Are you having trouble "moving swiftly up the Bridge" -- that is, advancing up the stepladder of en- lightenment? Then you can have your case reviewed for a mere $1,250 "donation." Want to know "why a thetan hangs on to the physical universe?" Try 52 of Hubbard's tape-recorded speeches from 1952, titled "Ron's Philadelphia Doctorate Course Lectures," for $2,525. Next: nine other series of the same sort. For the collector, gold-and-leather-bound editions of 22 of Hubbard's books (and bookends) on subjects ranging from Scientology ethics to radiation can be had for just $1,900.

To gain influence and lure richer, more sophisticated followers, Scientology has lately resorted to a wide array of front groups and financial scams. Among them:

CONSULTING. Sterling Management Systems, formed in 1983, has been ranked in recent years by Inc. magazine as one of America's fastest-growing private companies (estimated 1988 revenues: $20 mil- lion). Sterling regularly mails a free newsletter to more than 300,000 health-care professionals, mostly dentists, promising to increase their incomes dramatically. The firm offers seminars and courses that typically cost $10,OOO. But Sterling's true aim is to hook customers for Scientology. "The church has a rotten product, so they package it as something else," says Peter Georgiades, a Pittsburgh attorney who represents Sterling victims. "It's a kind of bait and switch." Sterling's founder, dentist Gregory Hughes is now under investigation by California's Board of Dental Examiners for incompetence. Nine lawsuits are pending against him for malpractice (seven others have been settled), mostly for orthodontic work on children.

Many dentists who have unwittingly been drawn into the cult are filing or threatening lawsuits as well. Dentist Robert Geary of Medina, Ohio, who entered a Sterling seminar in 1988, endured "the most extreme high-pressure sales tactics I have ever faced." Sterling officials told Geary, 45, that their firm was not linked to Scientology, he says. but Geary claims they eventually convinced him that he and his wife Dorothy had personal problems that required auditing. Over five months, the Gearys say, they spent $130,000 for services, plus $50,000 for "gold-embossed, investment-grade" books signed by Hubbard. Geary contends that Scientologists not only called his bank to increase his credit card limit but also forged his signature on a $20,000 loan application. "It was insane," he recalls. "I couldn't even get an accounting from them of what I was paying for." At one point, the Gearys claim, Scientologists held Dorothy hostage for two weeks in a mountain cabin, after which she was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown.

Last October, Sterling broke some bad news to another dentist, Glover Rowe of Gadsden, Ala., and his wife Dee. Tests showed that unless they signed up for auditing Glover's practice would fail, and Dee would someday abuse their child. The next month the Rowes flew to Glendale, Calif., where they shuttled daily from a local hotel to a Dianetics center. "We thought they were brilliant people because they seemed to know so much about us," recalls Dee. "Then we realized our hotel room must have been bugged." After bolting from the center, $23,000 poorer, the Rowes say, they were chased repeatedly by Scientologists on foot and in cars. Dentists aren't the only once at risk. Scientology also makes pitches to chiropractors, podiatrists and veterinarians.

PUBLIC INFLUENCE. One front, the Way to Happiness Foundation, has distributed to children in thousands of the nation's public schools more than 3.5 million copies of a booklet Hubbard wrote on morality. The church calls the scheme "the largest dissemination project in Scientology history." Applied Scholastics is the name of still another front, which is attempting to install a Hubbard tutorial program in public schools, primarily those populated by minorities. The group also plans a 1,000 acre campus, where it will train educators to teach various Hubbard methods. The disingenuously named Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a Scientology group at war with psychiatry, its primary competitor. The commission typically issues reports aimed at discrediting particular psychiatrists and the field in general. The CCHR is also behind an all-out war against Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac, the nation's top-selling antidepression drug. Despite scant evidence, the group's members -- who call themselves "psychbusters" -- claim that Prozac drives people to murder or suicide. Through mass mailings, appearances on talk shows and heavy lobbying, CCHR has hurt drug sales and helped spark dozens of lawsuits against Lilly.

Another Scientology linked group, the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America, holds antidrug contests and awards $5,000 grants to schools as a way to recruit students and curry favor with education officials. West Virginia Senator John D. Rockefeller IV unwittingly commended the CBAA in 1987 on the Senate floor. Last August author Alex Haley was the keynote speaker at its annual awards banquet in Los Angeles. Says Haley: "I didn't know much about that group going in. I'm a Methodist." Ignorance about Scientology can be embarrassing: two months ago, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, noting that Scientology's founder "has solved the aberrations of the human mind," proclaimed March 13 "L. Ron Hubbard Day." He rescinded the proclamation in late March, once he Iearned who Hubbard really was.

HEALTH CARE. HealthMed, a chain of clinics run by Scientologists, promotes a grueling and excessive system of saunas, exercise and vitamins designed by Hubbard to purify the body. Experts denounce the regime as quackery and potentially harmful, yet HealthMed solicits unions and public agencies for contracts. The chain is plugged heavily in a new book, Diet for a Poisoned Planet, by journalist David Steinman, who concludes that scores of common foods (among them: peanuts, bluefish, peaches and cottage cheese) are dangerous.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop labeled the book "trash," and the Food and Drug Administration issued a paper in October that claims Steinman distorts his facts. "HealthMed is a gateway to Scientology, and Steinman's book is a sorting mechanism," says physician William Jarvis, who is head of the National Council Against Health Fraud. Steinman, who describes Hubbard favorably as a "researcher," denies any ties to the church and contends, "HealthMed has no affiliation that I know of with Scientology."

• DRUG TREATMENT. Hubbard's purification treatments are the mainstay of Narconon, a Scientology-run chain of 33 alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers -- some in prisons under the name "Criminon" -- in 12 countries. Narconon, a classic vehicle for drawing addicts into the cult, now plans to open what it calls the world's largest treatment center, a 1,400-bed facility on an Indian reservation near Newkirk, Okla. (pop. 2,400. At a 1989 ceremony in Newkirk, the As- sociation for Better Living and Education presented Narconon a check for $200,000 and a study praising its work. The association turned out to be part of Scientology itself. Today the town is battling to keep out the cult, which has fought back through such tactics as sending private detectives to snoop on the mayor and the local newspaper publisher.

FINANCIAL SCAMS. Three Florida Scientologists, including Ronald Bernstein, a big contributor to the church's international "war chest," pleaded guilty in March to using their rare-coin dealership as a money laundry. Other notorious activities by Scientologists include making the shady Vancouver stock exchange even shadier (see box) and plotting to plant operatives in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Export-Import Bank of the U.S. The alleged purpose of this scheme: to gain inside information on which countries are going to be denied credit so that Scientology-linked traders can make illicit profits by taking "short" positions in those countries' currencies.

In the stock market the practice of "shorting" involves borrowing shares of publicly traded companies in the hope that the price will go down before the stocks must be bought on the market and returned to the lender. The Feshbach brothers of Palo Alto, Calif. -- Kurt, Joseph and Matthew - have become the leading short sellers in the U.S., with more than $500 million under management. The Feshbachs command a staff of about 60 employees and claim to have earned better returns than the Dow Jones industrial average for most of the 1980s. And, they say, they owe it all to the teachings of Scientology, whose "war chest" has received more than $1 million from the family.

The Feshbachs also embrace the church's tactics; the brothers are the terrors of the stock exchanges. In congressional hearings in 1989, the heads of several companies claimed that Feshbach operatives have spread false information to government agencies and posed in various guises -- such as a Securities and Exchange Commission official -- in an effort to discredit their companies and drive the stocks down. Michael Russell, who ran a chain of business journals, testified that a Feshbach employee called his bankers and interfered with his loans. Sometimes the Feshbachs send private detectives to dig up dirt on firms, which is then shared with business reporters, brokers and fund managers.

The Feshbachs, who wear jackets bearing the slogan "stock busters," insist they run a clean shop. But as part of a current probe into possible insider stock trading, federal officials are reportedly investigating whether the Feshbachs received confidential information from FDA employees. The brothers seem aligned with Scientology's war on psychiatry and medicine: many of their targets are health and bio- technology firms. ""Legitimate short selling performs a public service by deflating hyped stocks," says Robert Flaherty, the editor of Equities magazine and a harsh critic of the brothers. "But the Feshbachs have damaged scores of good start-ups."

Occasionally a Scientologist's business antics land him in jail. Last August a former devotee named Steven Fishman began serving a five-year prison term in Florida. His crime: stealing blank stock-confirmation slips from his employer, a major brokerage house, to use as proof that he owned stock entitling him to join dozens of successful class-action lawsuits. Fishman made roughly $1 million this way from 1983 to 1988 and spent as much as 30% of the loot on Scientology books and tapes.

Scientology denies any tie to the Fishman scam, a claim strongly disputed by both Fishman and his longtime psychiatrist, Uwe Geertz, a prominent Florida hypnotist. Both men claim that when arrested, Fishman was ordered by the church to kill Geertz and then do an "EOC," or end of cycle, which is church jargon for suicide.

BOOK PUBLISHING. Scientology mischiefmaking has even moved to the book industry. Since 1985 at least a dozen Hubbard books, printed by a church company, have made best-seller lists. They range from a 5,000-page sci-fi decology (Black Genesis, The Enemy Within, An Alien Affair) to the 40-year-old Dianetics. In 1988 the trade publication Publishers Weekly awarded the dead author a plaque commemorating the appearance of Dianetics on its best-seller list for 100 consecutive weeks.

Critics pan most of Hubbard's books as unreadable, while defectors claim that church insiders are sometimes the real authors. Even so, Scientology has sent out armies of its followers to buy the group's books at such major chains as B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks to sustain the illusion of a best-selling author. A former Dalton's manager says that some books arrived in his store with the chain's price stickers already on them, suggesting that copies are being recycled. Scientology claims that sales of Hubbard books now top 90 million worldwide. The scheme, set up to gain converts and credibility, is coupled with a radio and TV advertising campaign virtually un- paralleled in the book industry.

Scientology devotes vast resources to squelching its critics. Since 1986 Hubbard and his church have been the subject of four unfriendly books, all released by small yet courageous publishers. In each case, the writers have been badgered and heavily sued. One of Hubbard's policies was that all perceived enemies are "fair game" and subject to being "tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." Those who criticize the church journalists, doctors, lawyers and even judges often find themselves engulfed in litigation, stalked by private eyes, framed for fictional crimes, beaten up or threatened with death. Psychologist Margaret Singer, 69, an outspoken Scientology critic and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, now travels regularly under an assumed name to avoid harassment.

After the Los Angeles Times published a negative series on the church last summer, Scientologists spent an estimated $1 million to plaster the reporters' names on hundreds of billboards and bus placards across the city. Above their names were quotations taken out of context to portray the church in a positive light.

The church's most fearsome advocates are its lawyers. Hubbard warned his followers in writing to "beware of attorneys who tell you not to sue . . . the purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win." Result: Scientology has brought hundreds of suits against its perceived enemies and today pays an estimated $20 million annually to more than 100 lawyers.

One legal goal of Scientology is to bankrupt the opposition or bury it under paper. The church has 71 active lawsuits against the IRS alone. One of them, Miscavige vs. IRS, has required the U.S. to pro- duce an index of 52,000 pages of documents. Boston attorney Michael Flynn, who helped Scientology victims from 1979 to 1987, personally endured 14 frivolous lawsuits, all of them dismissed. Another lawyer, Joseph Yanny, believes the church "has so subverted justice and the judicial system that it should be barred from seeking equity in any court." He should know: Yanny represented the cult until 1987, when, he says, he was asked to help church officials steal medical records to blackmail an opposing attorney (who was allegedly beaten up instead). Since Yanny quit representing the church, he has been the target of death threats, burglaries, lawsuits and other harassment.

Scientology's critics contend that the U.S. needs to crack down on the church in a major, organized way. "I want to know, Where is our government?" demands Toby Plevin, a Los Angeles attorney who handles victims. "It shouldn't be left to private litigators, because God knows most of us are afraid to get involved." But law-enforcement agents are also wary. "Every investigator is very cautious, walking on eggshells when it comes to the church," says a Florida police detective who has tracked the cult since 1988. "It will take a federal effort with lots of money and manpower."

So far the agency giving Scientology the most grief is the IRS, whose officials have implied that Hubbard's successors may be looting the church's coffers. Since 1988, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the revocation of the cult's tax-exempt status, a massive IRS probe of church centers across the country has been under way. An IRS agent, Marcus Owens, has estimated that thousands of IRS employees have been involved. Another agent, in an internal IRS memorandum, spoke hopefully of the "ultimate disintegration" of the church. A small but helpful beacon shone last June when a federal appeals court ruled that two cassette tapes featuring conversations between church officials and their lawyers are evidence of a plan to commit "future frauds" against the IRS.

The IRS and FBI have been debriefing Scientology defectors for the past three years, in part to gain evidence for a major racketeering case that appears to have stalled last summer. Federal agents complain that the Justice Department is unwilling to spend the money needed to endure a drawn-out war with Scientology or to fend off the cult's notorious jihads against individual agents. "In my opinion the church has one of the most effective intelligence operations in the U.S., rivaling even that of the FBI," says Ted Gunderson, a former head of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

Foreign governments have been moving even more vigorously against the organization. In Canada the church and nine of its members will be tried in June on charges of stealing government documents (many of them retrieved in an enormous police raid of the church's Toronto headquarters). Scientology proposed to give $1 million to the needy if the case was dropped, but Canada spurned the offer. Since 1986 authorities in France, Spain and Italy have raided more than 50 Scien- tology centers. Pending charges against more than 100 of its overseas church members include fraud, extortion, capital flight, coercion, illegally practicing medicine and taking advantage of mentally incapacitated people. In Germany last month, leading politicians accused the cult of trying to infiltrate a major party as well as launching an immense recruitment drive in the east.

Sometimes even the church's biggest zealots can use a little protection. Screen star Travolta, 37, has long served as an unofficial Scientology spokesman, even though he told a magazine in 1983 that he was opposed to the church's management. High-level defectors claim that Travolta has long feared that if he defected, details of his sexual life would be made public. "He felt pretty intimidated about this getting out and told me so," recalls William Franks, the church's former chairman of the board. "There were no outright threats made, but it was implicit. If you leave, they immediately start digging up everything." Franks was driven out in 1981 after attempting to reform the church.

The church's former head of security, Richard Aznaran, recalls Scientology ringleader Miscavige repeatedly joking to staffers about Travolta's allegedly promiscuous homosexual behavior. At this point any threat to expose Travolta seems superfluous: last May a male porn star collected $100,000 from a tabloid for an account of his alleged two-year liaison with the celebrity. Travolta refuses to comment, and in December his lawyer dismissed questions about the subject as "bizarre." Two weeks later, Travolta announced that he was getting married to actress Kelly Preston, a fellow Scientologist.

Shortly after Hubbard's death the church retained Trout & Ries, a respected, Connecticut-based firm of marketing consultants, to help boost its public image. "We were brutally honest," says Jack Trout. "We advised them to clean up their act, stop with the controversy and even to stop being a church. They didn't want to hear that." Instead, Scientology hired one of the country's largest p.r. outfits, Hill and Knowlton, whose executives refuse to discuss the lucrative relationship. "Hill and Knowlton must feel that these guys are not totally off the wall," says Trout. "Unless it's just for the money." One of Scientology's main strategies is to keep advancing the tired argument that the church is being "persecuted" by antireligionists. It is supported in that position by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Council of Churches. But in the end, money is what Scientology is all about. As long as the organization's opponents and victims are successfully squelched, Scientology's managers and lawyers will keep pocketing millions of dollars by helping it achieve its ends.

Mining Money in Vancouver[Sidebar; page 54]

One source of funds for the Los Angeles-based church is the notorious, self-regulated stock exchange in Vancouver, British Columbia, often called the scam capital of the world. The exchange's 2,300 penny-stock listings account for $4 billion in annual trading. Local journalists and insiders claim the vast majority range from total washouts to outright frauds.

Two Scientologists who operate there are Kenneth Gerbino and Michael Baybak, 20-year church veterans from Beverly Hills who are major donors to the cult. Gerbino, 45, is a money manager, marketmaker and publisher of a national financial newsletter. He has boasted in Scientology journals that he owes all his stock-picking success to L. Ron Hubbard. That's not saying much: Gerbino's newsletter picks since 1985 have cumulatively returned 24%, while the Dow Jones industrial average has more than doubled. Nevertheless Gerbino's short-term gains can be stupendous. A survey last October found Gerbino to be the only manager who made money in the third quarter of 1990, thanks to gold and other resource stocks. For the first quarter of 1991, Gerbino was dead last. Baybak, 49, who runs a public relations company staffed with Scientologists, apparently has no ethics problem with engineering a hostile takeover of a firm he is hired to promote.

Neither man agreed to be interviewed for this story, yet both threatened legal action through attorneys. "What these guys do is take over companies, hype the stock, sell their shares, and then there's nothing left," says John Campbell, a former securities lawyer who was a director of mining company Athena Gold until Baybak and Gerbino took it over.

The pattern has become familiar. The pair promoted a mining venture called Skylark Resources, whose stock traded at nearly $4 a share in 1987. The outfit soon crashed, and the stock is around 2 cents. NETI Technologies, a software company, was trumpeted in the press as "the next Xerox" and in 1984 rose to a market value of $120 million with Baybak's help. The company, which later collapsed, was delisted two months ago by the Vancouver exchange.

Baybak appeared in 1989 at the helm of Wall Street Ventures, a start-up that announced it owned 35 tons of rare Middle Eastern postage stamps -- worth $100 million -- and was buying the world's largest collection of southern Arabian stamps (worth $350 million). Steven C. Rockefeller Jr. of the oil family and former hockey star Denis Potvin joined the company in top posts, but both say they quit when they realized the stamps were virtually worthless. "The stamps were created by sand-dune nations to exploit collectors," says Michael Laurence, editor of Linn's Stamp News, America's largest stamp journal. After the stock topped $6, it began a steady descent, with Baybak unloading his shares along the way. Today it trades at 18 cents.

Athena Gold, the current object of Baybak's and Gerbino's attentions, was founded by entrepreneur William Jordan. He turned to an established Vancouver broker in 1987 to help finance the company, a 4,500-acre mining property near Reno. The broker promised to raise more than $3 million and soon brought Baybak and Gerbino into the deal. Jordan never got most of the money, but the cult members ended up with a good deal of cheap stock and options. Next they elected directors who were friendly to them and set in motion a series of complex maneuvers to block Jordan from voting stock he controlled and to run him out of the company. "I've been an honest policeman all my life and I've seen the worst kinds of crimes, and this ranks high," says former Athena shareholder Thomas Clark, a 20-year veteran of Reno's police force who has teamed up with Jordan to try to get the gold mine back. "They stole this man's property."

With Baybak as chairman, the two Scientologists and their staffs are promoting Athena, not always accurately. A letter to shareholders with the 1990 annual report claims Placer Dome, one of America's largest gold-mining firms, has committed at least $25.5 million to develop the mine. That's news to Placer Dome. "There is no pre-commitment," says Placer executive Cole McFarland. "We're not going to spend that money unless survey results justify the expenditure."

Baybak's firm represented Western Resource Technologies, a Houston oil-and-gas company, but got the boot in October. Laughs Steven McGuire, president of Western Resource: "His is a p.r. firm in need of a p.r. firm." But McGuire cannot laugh too freely. Baybak and other Scientologists, including the estate of L. Ron Hubbard, still control huge blocks of his company's stock.

[The following part was only in the international version of TIME]

Pushing Beyond the U.S.:

Scientology makes its presence felt in Europe and Canada

By Richard Behar

In the 1960s and '70s, L. Ron Hubbard used to periodically fill a converted ferry ship with adoring acolytes and sail off to spread the word. One by one, countries -- Britain, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Venezuela -- closed their ports, usually because of a public outcry. At one point, a court in Australia revoked the church's status as a religion; at another, a French court convicted Hubbard of fraud in absentia.

Today Hubbard's minions continue to wreak global havoc, costing governments considerable effort and money to try to stop them. In Italy a two-year trial of 76 Scientologists, among them the former leader of the church's Italian operations, is nearing completion in Milan. Two weeks ago, prosecutor Pietro Forno requested jail terms for all the defendants who are accused of extortion, cheating "mentally incapacitated" people and evading as much as $50 million in taxes. "All of the trial's victims went to Scientology in search of a cure or a better life," said Forno, "But the Scientologists were amateur psychiatrists who practiced psychological terrorism". For some victims, he added, "the intervention of the Scientologists was devastating."

The Milan case was triggered by parents complaining to officials that Scientology had a financial stranglehold on their children, who had joined the church or entered Narconon, its drug rehabilitation unit. In 1986 Treasury and paramilitary police conducted raids in 20 cities across Italy shutting down 27 Scientology centers and seizing 100,000 documents. To defend itself in the trial, the cult has retained some of Italy's most famous lawyers.

In Canada, Scientology is using a legal team that includes Clayton Ruby, one of the country's foremost civil rights lawyers, to defend itself and nine of its members who are to stand trial in June in Toronto. The charges: stealing documents concerning Scientology from the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Canadian Mental Health Association, two police forces and other institutions. The case stems from a 1983 surprise raid of the church's Toronto headquarters by more than 100 policemen, who had arrived in three chartered buses; some 2 million pages of documents were seized over a two-day period. Ruby, whose legal maneuvers delayed the case for years, is trying to get it dismissed because of "unreasonable delay."

Spain's Justice Ministry has twice denied Scientology status as a religion, but that has not slowed the church' s expansion. In 1989 the Ministry of Health issued a report calling the sect "totalitarian" and "pure and simple charlatanism." The year before, the authorities had raided 26 church centers, with the result that 11 Scientologists stand accused of falsification of records, coercion and capital flight. "The real god of this organization is money," said Madrid examining magistrate Jose Maria Vasquez Honrnbia, before referring the case to a higher court because it was too complex for his jurisdiction. Eugene Ingram, a private investigator working for Scientology claims he helped get Honrubia removed from the case for leaking nonpublic documents to the press.

In France it took a death to spur the government into action: 16 Scientologists were indicted last year for fraud and "complicity in the practice of illegal medicine" following the suicide of an industrial designer in Lyon. In the victim's house investigators found medication allegeally provided to him by the church without doctor's prescription. Among those charged in the case is the president of Scientology's French operations and the head of the Paris-based Celebrity Centre, which caters to famous members.

Outside the U.S., Scientology appears to be most active in Germany where the attorney general of the state of Bavaria has branded the cult "distinctly totalitarian" and aimed at "the economic exploitation of customers who are in bondage to it." In 1984 nearly 100 police raided the church in Munich. At the time, city officials were reportedly collaborating with U.S. tax inspectors and trying to prove that the cult was actually a profitmaking business. More recently, Hamburg state authorities moved to rescind Scientology's tax reduced status, while members of parliament are seeking criminal proceedings. In another domain, church linked management consulting firms have infiltrated small and middle sized companies throughout Germany, according to an expose published this month in the newsmagazine DER SPIEGEL; the consultants, who typically hide their ties to Scientology, indoctrinate employees by using Hubbard's methods. A German anticult organization estimates that Scientology has at least 60 fronts or splinter groups operating in the country. German politics appears as well to attract Hubbard's zealots. In March the Free Democrats, partners in Chancellor Helmut Kohl' s ruling coalition in Bonn, accused Scientology of trying to infiltrate their Hamburg branch. Meanwhile the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, has been warning its members in the formerly com- munist eastern part of the country against exploitation by the church. Even federal officials are being used by the church: one Scientology front group sent copies of a Hubbard written pamphlet on moral values to members of the Bundestag. The Office of Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher unwittingly endorsed the Scientologists' message: "Indeed, the world would be a more beautiful place if the principles formulated in the pamphlet, a life characterized by reason and responsibility, would find wider attention."

The Scientologists and Me

[Sidebar, page 57]Strange things seem to happen to people who write about Scientology. Journalist Paulette Cooper wrote a critical book on the cult in 1971. This led to a Scientology plot (called Operation Freak-Out) whose goal, according to church documents, was "to get P.C. incarcerated in a mental institution or jail." It almost worked: by impersonating Cooper, Scientologists got her indicted in 1973 for threatening to bomb the church. Cooper, who also endured 19 lawsuits by the church, was finally exonerated in 1977 after FBI raids on the church offices in Los Angeles and Washington uncovered documents from the bomb scheme. No Scientologists were ever tried in the matter.

For the TIME story, at least 10 attorneys and six private detectives were unleashed by Scientology and its followers in an effort to threaten, harass and discredit me. Last Oct. 12, not long after I began this assignment, I planned to lunch with Eugene Ingram, the church's leading private eye and a former cop. Ingram, who was tossed off the Los Angeles police force In 1981 for alleged ties to prostitutes and drug dealers, had told me that he might be able to arrange a meeting with church boss David Miscavige. Just hours before the lunch, the church's "national trial counsel," Earle Cooley, called to inform me that I would be eating alone.

Alone, perhaps, but not forgotten. By day's end, I later learned, a copy of my personal credit report -- with detailed information about my bank accounts, home mortgage, credit-card payments, home address and Social Security number -- had been illegally retrieved from a national credit bureau called Trans Union. The sham company that received it, "Educational Funding Services" of Los Angeles, gave as its address a mail drop a few blocks from Scientology's headquarters. The owner of the mail drop is a private eye named Fred Wolfson, who admits that an Ingram associate retained him to retrieve credit reports on several individuals. Wolfson says he was told that Scientology's attorneys "had judgments against these people and were trying to collect on them." He says now, "These are vicious people. These are vipers." Ingram, through a lawyer, denies any involvement in the scam.

During the past five months, private investigators have been contacting acquaintances of mine, ranging from neighbors to a former colleague, to inquire about subjects such as my health (like my credit rating, it's excellent) and whether I've ever had trouble with the IRS (unlike Scientology, I haven't). One neighbor was greeted at dawn outside my Manhattan apartment building by two men who wanted to know whether I lived there. I finally called Cooley to demand that Scientology stop the nonsense. He promised to look into it.
After that, however, an attorney subpoenaed me, while another falsely suggested that I might own shares in a company I was reporting about that had been taken over by Scientologists (he also threatened to contact the Securities and Exchange Commission). A close friend in Los Angeles received a disturbing telephone call from a Scientology staff member seeking data about me -- an indication that the cult may have illegally obtained my personal phone records. Two detectives contacted me, posing as a friend and a relative of a so-called cult victim, to elicit negative statements from me about Scientology. Some of my conversations with them were taped, transcribed and presented by the church in affidavits to TIME's lawyers as "proof" of my bias against Scientology.

Among the comments I made to one of the detectives, who represented himself as "Harry Baxter," a friend of the victim's family, was that "the church trains people to lie." Baxter and his colleagues are hardly in a position to dispute that observation. His real name is Barry Silvers, and he is a former investigator for the Justice Department's Organized Crime Strike Force. (RB)

A new hat

So my brother Jon put Sable in her kennel when he was leaving, but he didn't check to make sure that the door latched. Sable, an evil doggy genius, took advantage of Jon's laziness and escaped the confines of her kennel to wreck havoc on our humble home.

Among other things, she chewed up photographs, kids toys, paperwork, clothes, and my Broncos cap. My only summer weight hat, and my only Broncos gear that fits and looks nice, and she ate it.

I mean, this hat was destroyed. Sable didn't just nibble at it, she tore it apart. I guess that Sable is a Bronco hater. Everyone's a critic.

My lovely wife and I took the kids to the mall for a hat hunt. Along the way we also bought birthday presents for her brother, Curtis (this Sunday) and my brother Jon (July 27th). Curtis got a cool little asian letter opener sword thing that sits on a stand and looks real pretty, and Jon got the Muhammed Ali poster that he been drooling over since before he moved in.

I wanted a replacement Bronco hat, but as you may know from my other writings, I'm a pretty big Houston Texans fan as well. There are three hat stores and four sports (clothing) stores in the mall. We found hats ranging from $10 to $30 a pop. All of these were pretty boring hats. There were only two stores with Texans hats, but the style was lame. Bronco hats abounded, but for the most part they were even worse than the Texans and much more expensive.

The last store that we went to were having a sale. Two hats for $22. Unfortunately, they didn't have any Broncos hats. But they did have two very nice Texans hats. One of the hats was awesome, with a white brim and a red bordered blue strip along each side of the brim and the team logo on the front. Very cool.

The other hat was a bit plainer, just a blue cap with the Texans logo on the front. The first hat will be my clean, go-to-work hat. The other one will be my dirty, I-gotta-do-some-manual-labor hat. BTW, my wife looks SO HOT in these hats. If she weren't already pregnant, then she would be soon.

I did get a new Broncos T-Shirt from another store. It's really nice and has the Broncos name and stuff embroidered on the front of it. I almost got a Texans ref style botton down collared shirt, but that was $20 with 30% off and I didn't know if I could wear it to work (I can, I just checked). I may be getting that shirt soon though...
What kind of yarn are you?

You are Mercerized Cotton.You are always very crisp and neat. You are very playful and are happiest while outdoors in the sunshine. You are sometimes accused of splitting hairs, but in the end people find you pretty easy to live with.
Take this

Monday, March 20, 2006

A review of a History of Violence

I just watched a History of Violence last night. I'm kinda mixed in my feelings of the movie. I loved how realistic the violence looked. I loved how brutal it was and I loved the inventiveness and goriness.

I also loved the characterizations, the family, and the actors. I felt that even the slower parts had meaning.

In real life violence is very short lived with a lot of space between and the movie exemplified this.

I didn't like the ending. I felt as though the DVD has skipped right there at the end and severed off the last three minutes or so.

The father comes in and his little girl (who for some reason kinda creeped me out) forgives him and makes him welcome. Then his son does the same. His wife looks at him and then.. the credits start rolling. What the hell?

Does she forgive him or not? Do they stay together or split? What about the town and all their friends, do they forgive what's happened and moved on? What about his dead brother's friends, family, estate and will?

All in all I really liked this movie. I hated the ending though.

If you want an intelligent character driven movie that is interesting and realistic and you don't mind extreme violence, some nudity, and a couple of heavy sex scenes (oddly enough, none of the sex scenes had nudity), than this movie is for you.

If you don't then... well... bugger off!

A Game of Thrones Review

So I just finished A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Let me pause for just a moment to say, "wow".

When I write or when I run roleplaying games, I'm well known for being... somewhat mean... to my players and their characters. I think the term that my players use most is "cruel" although "evil" and "ass" are close runner ups.

Martin puts me to shame. Within the first 50 pages or so he introduces us readers to an incestual relationship between the queen and her twin brother, their plot to get rid of the king, and then they throw an eight year old son of their host, the Lord of Winterfell, out of the window while the king is off hunting with his best friend, Eddard Stark of Winterfell.

I admit that the book was kinda hard to get into. Slow going, to say the least. But once it got moving it didn't wanna stop.

I just started on the second book, A Clash of Kings, last night. So far, it is keeping up the promise that the first book showed.

I think that my favourite characters are Jon Snow, the bastard on the Black Wall. Jon's half-sister Araya, and Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf.

Jon reminds me of what it's like to grow up fending for yourself while living at home. Like him, I always felt cut off and unloved. Like him, I was bitter, but didn't show it.

Araya is my free spirit. I was the same way when I was her age and I never grew out of it. I was older than she was when she started learning how to swordfight, but like her I was naturally fast both mentally and physically and I loved to swordfight.

Tyrion is my mouth, my brain, and my sense of humor. Unlike him though, I never love someone blindly. If you are evil and a jerk, I will leave you to fend for yourself.
If you wanna know what I'm talking about, then read the book.

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Letter of Interest

My passion for this company is overwhelming. Since I was hired on by ESM last October I have sold the company to over a score of people including family, friends, and complete strangers simply by telling them about life here at ESM.

My enthusiasm for the company has carried over into my daily life so much that almost everyone I know or have met in the past six months have filled out an application form and begged me to write them recommendations and to talk to the people in HR.

It's amazing how many people ask me how to apply for a career here at ESM after spending any amount of time at all around me.

Since I have joined the company I have done everything in my power to live the ESM dream. I have volunteered for everything that I could and have helped a dozen people with well over a dozen different projects ranging from help with schoolwork, computers, research, coaching, advise, and mentoring, to helping people on different committees such as the Wellness Center Committee, the FRC, the CCI Newsletter, and others.

I get a kick out of helping other people. I love the sense of accomplishment that I get knowing that I have helped improve someone's life. Be it work, personal relationships, financial assistance, or just good advice, I like being able to step up and offer genuine assistance to someone else.
This passion that I have for helping other people has only magnified itself since I have started working here at ESM.

For the first time in my life I feel that I have the ability to help make my company better for the people who work and live here. I have the ability to make working here better for all the employees, including my wife and myself.

For the past four months I have been a member of the PDC and the Wellness Center Committee. I have seen my hard work, ideas, and those of my coworkers make a huge difference in the lives of all those here at ESM.

I have seen the Wellness Center go from a vague idea to a fitness center, a newsletter, contests, programs, training classes, and massages. How cool is that? How wonderful is it to be able to think up ways to help people in their daily lives and then to turn those ideas into a reality backed by the very company that you work for?

I always tend to think of ways to improve the place that I work in, but this is the first time that I've actually had the chance to do so.

I love that.

Please allow me to continue working in the PDC. I know that I can help make this already great company even better. I want to help make us the best.

Thank you.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sable's Rough Night

Man, what a week...

My brother takes the dog out for a potty break last night around nine. He comes back in and Sable is coughing and sneezing and has foam and snow on her face. Apparently, there were some skunks out and she went after them. She got sprayed right in the face.

I have smelled skunks before, but I've never smelt what they dealt to Sable. The poor dog smelled so bad that it burned my less than sensitive nose. I can only imagine what it did to her. We put Sable in her kennel while we cleaned everything that she touched and my wife called the vet.

The vet told us to make a solution of baking powder, water, and peroxide to wash her with. We took her to the shower, rinsed her off and scrubbed her as best we could. The biggest problem that I had is that my nose got used to it too fast and I wasn't able to clean everything off because I had to smell it out. Bummer.

The window to my bedroom was open and the smell got in. I shut the window because it was cold and we were forced to sleep with that smell in our room all night. It was bad enough that even I missed out on some sleep and I'm workin' an eleven hour shift today... great...

Sable has diahrrea, I don't know if it's the skunk or the chicken bits that I gave her, but she's sploogin' a lot. I can't get mad though, she does it by the door and it's obvious that she tries to make it outside. God I love that dog!

Kat and Jon are less than thrilled with her though...

Poor thing...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Well, I trashed my new van already. I had it just long enough for the temp tags to expire (they expired because the Dealership screwed up the tax rate on the financing, can you believe that?) when I slide off the road during a snowstorm and into a tree.

I was on my way to a video store and I was approaching the corner. I was only doing thirty in a 45 and I started breaking a full block and a half away. I slide up one of the pedestrian sidewalk ramps and dead on into a tree. Stupid tree...

I was only doing 5 MPH or so when I hit. The airbags didn't twitch and even my setbelt was too relaxed to make an effort. I barely even rocked forward. But I managed to do $5.5k damage to the front end of our van. What a load of crap... Aren't these vehicles supposed to be able to take 5 MPH worth of damage on their bumpers?

Anyways, I missed two days of work because of this crap and today I've been busy catching up, so this is all I had time for. Sorry...

The good news is that I am now running a roleplaying game via blog. Check my profile to find it and have fun reading it. I'm trying to keep it in story mode as much as possible so that other people can enjoy it too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Are old lost friendships salvageable?

I had a friend once named Mick. I met Mick while working at Anderson Windows about eight years ago... man I'm getting old! ...and we became good friends. Such good friends in fact, that when Mick needed a place to stay I convinced my roommate Denon to let Mick move in with us.

Mick is a really nice guy, but he has some serious issues. Over time these issues became more and more of a problem, especially after I got married, until they reached a point where we could no longer keep Mick as a friend. We tried, oh Lord did we try, to make things work. We set rules and standards, but nothing worked. Eventually, we let him go. He ended it more than we did.

Some of his problems, or rather, the problems that we had with him are as follows:

1. His weight. Mick is only 5'9" and weighs close to 400 pounds. None of it is muscle. Mick is actually the weakest person that I have ever known over the age of ten. I don't say this to be mean, I say it because it's true. He once punch me in the arm in anger. At the time my twelve year old sister hit me harder during play.

Mick was so large that he couldn't bathe adequetly, nor could he wipe completely after going to the restroom. He was so heavy and so weak that he couldn't sit down properly, he'd just back up to whatever chair or couch happened to be nearby and then fall onto it, which is extremely hard on furniture. During visits to our home he broke the frame to our couch, two lawn chairs, and the hinge off of an ice chest that we set out for him to sit on in an effort to save our furniture. He was too big and bulky to sit on the floor, or even to sit upright at all for more then fifteen minutes or so.

His weight was a direct contributer to all of the rest of his problems.

2. His hygiene was awful. The only time that he really bathed was before coming over to our house, and only because we insisted on it. His toenails were so long that he could tap them on the linoleum while standing barefoot in the kitchen without moving his feet.

Several times during the time that we were roommates he urinated on the floor in the bath room that we shared. I believe that these incidents were accidental rather than laziness, but c'mon! He knows that he can't see enough to aim it past his stomach, so why doesn'y he just sit down? He knew that he had made a mess, so why didn't he immediately clean it up? He almost ended up in the hospital both times that this happened, luckily, I had learned how to check my anger when I become violent by this time, which may have saved his life and my ass.

Another problem was that he could not reach and adequetly wipe himeself after using the restroom. This made for some unpleasant smells, as you could imagine.

3. He was depressed and bipolar. He used this as an excuse for everything. Why am I so fat? I'm biploar! Why do I smoke? I'm bipolar! Why can't I keep a job, have a minimum of personal hygiene, have an extreme fascination with S&M, live in a cesspit, act immature, have no education? I'm bipolar!

For Mick, being bipolar is the end all be all excuse. It covers everything. It doen't matter that other bipolar people have led successful, meaningful lives. That just means that they weren't as bipolar as Mick is.

I remember for a while at the end of high school, being depressed was "cool". Everyone went moping around, "oh man, I'm so depressed, I can't take anymore, boohoo, I should just kill myself and end it all, boohoo.." What a load of crap.

You're all stupid and the only contribution that you'll ever make is Darwin Award style, so please get started on that right away. Thank you.

Back to Mick. Mick takes a bucketful of medication every day to combat his bipolar disorder and the side effects of that medicine and the side effects of THAT medicine, and so on and son on, blah blah blah....

The weird part is that he'll take some medication, and it'll work, and then he decides that he doesn't need it anymore. He'll go off of it, slide down into the dark pit of depression, and eventually call 911 and say that he is suicidal. They'll come and pick him up, give a weeklong stay in a mental ward, and three meals a day and the company of other depressed psychs.

Of course, every time that he did this he got all of this attention from everyone wishing he was well, get better soon, blah blah blah, which he soaked up like a sponge. Apparently, I was the only one who never indulged Mick or encouraged this kind of behavior by treating him special when he flipped out. I'm a dick, I know. But I never encourage behaviour that I do not agree with.

Mick is also extremely immature. He also blames this on his bipolar fallback, but the reality is that he has the maturity level of a 14 year old.

4. Mick is a chimney. He smoked before I met him and he will in all probability continue smoking until the day that he dies, which with his smoking, his weight, and his age, will be within the next ten years. I've known him to get down to 3 cigs a day and up to two packs a day. He'll never quit though. Quitting requires willpower and discipline, neither of which Mick has in any measurable amount.

Obviously I hate smoking. So much so that my marriage has almost dissolved because my wife smoked. Luckily, Kat quit smoking when she got pregnant with our second child and has not picked up the habit again.

BTW My daughter Kathryn has a severe reaction to ciggarette smoke and to nicotine residue. She starts coughing, her eyes get bloodshot and burn, and her skin itches.

5. According to some people, my wife among them, Mick has a strange sexually inspired fascination with me. He used to buy me things, dinners, an occasional movie or book, as a gift. I never really thought anything of this, but others started having misgivings when Mick started spending more money on me.

Mick would also complain about me. He did this on a constant basis and in a way that reminded people of a woman complaining about her man. People joked that he was my sugar daddy.

This behaviour kept getting worse and worse and was my wife's final straw.

6. Mick's sexual fetish was spanking. While I have no qualms about what goes on in your bedroom, Lord knows that I'm not exactly "normal", and I had no problem with Mick's fetish per se, until he started to bring it up in a way that weirded me out at first, then freaked me out, then disgusted me. And everyone who knows me knows that it is extremely difficult to gross me out. But Mick did it. Easily.

The first incident was when he approached me and asked me if I would mind spanking him. You read me right. He asked if I would spank him. He explained that his best friend (I can't remember the guys name, I think that it's Nick, so that's what I'll call him) who was heterosexual would spank Mick on occasion and wondered if I would do the same.

I told him NO.

He then asked if he could spank me. I explained to him that if he ever hit me, no matter how softly, I would hit him as hard as I could, with the full intent of doing him bodily harm and with the hope that he would end up in the hospital. I thought and hoped that my response would have settled the matter.

Alas, no, I was wrong. Yes, it happens on occasion.

A few weeks or months later, during a cut down war (you trade insults and make fun of each other to pass time) wherein I had ripped on Mick pretty hard, he got into a boxing stance and said he'd kick my ass. I of course, blew him off and didn't even bother getting off the couch. I never expected him to tackle me.

It was like having a really soft, extremely thick, extremely smelly, down filled bean bag thrown on me. I never felt the weight, Mick seems almost weightless, in the way that quicksand might feel. I was so shocked that I couldn't move. I could barely work myself up to tell him to get off of me. I was disgusted, ashamed, violated. I felt demeaned, but I was too sholcked to be angry yet.

I wasn't too shocked to tell him that he should never, under any circumstances, ever do that again. Ughhh...

A few months later he did do it again. This time I was able to move, but I held my temper and rage in check and told him that he had until the count of three to get out of the room or I was going to try my hardest to kill him. We both understood that I was very capable of that and he left. He never did that again.

A year or two later, his spank buddy friend Nick died in a car wreck. Mick was understandably devastated. Nick was his best friend, his oldest friend, and they shared weird things that allowed them to bond more than normal.

While Mick was grieving and depressed, he approached me and again asked me to spank him. I took his grief into consideration and just told him that if I started hitting him, I wouldn't stop, and to never ask me again.

He even started dragging his sick fetish into our roleplaying games. While running a game one time, he kept trying to have my character whipped or spanked. That's just sick and wrong. I never played with Mick again.

7. Mick is too lazy to work. He is reaping section eight benefits from being mentally disabled and has done so for about three years now. He only pays $200 in rent and gets $800 in social security payments. For being depressed and bipolar.

And his wife is doing the exact same thing. That's $1400 a month that they have coming in, with only $200 going to rent. Almost all of the rest goes to food and ciggarettes. Can you imagine that? They don't even have a car. They ride the bus everywhere because a car is too expensive.

Mick and his wife live the definition of apathy. They are Sloth and Gluttony. And yet they are both highly religious conservatives. And they are both republican. Go figure...

After all this, you may wonder why I was friends with Mick in the first place. Well, I'll tell you. First of all, Mick really was a really nice guy. He is probably the nicest person that you will ever meet. I know of one person who is nicer (and much more balanced) and that is my friend Dawn. (she's also much better looking;-)

Mick also roleplays, which as you may have figured out is one of my greatest passions. He's not very good at it, but he loves it, and that does matter.

One of my fav things about Mick was debating with him. I love to argue and debate and so does he. We would argue for hours over the stupidest things imaginable. I usually won these debates as I was the more wide read and informed. He was extremely stubborn though. Even after I won he would still be debating.

We had a lot of fun arguments over the years. Another thing that he would do is help me bounce ideas around for roleplaying games and whatnot. He was good at making me think of weird things.

He was also very loyal. At least I thought so. I found out different later.

Things eventually got so bad with Mick that my wife had enough. She felt as if she were competing with Mick for my attention and affection and she was extremely bothered by the way that Mick spoke about me. I was tired of Mick's mood swings, his smoking, hygiene, and the way that he was destroying our furniture.

My wife, a much nicer, caring, and empathetic person than I would ever want to think about becoming wrote Mick a long letter explaining most of these things. Kat is NOT a confrontational person at all and this was her best way of dealing with the situation.

Of course Mick took what she wrote as a personal attack, which in a way it was. But there was nothing in that letter that was meant to hurt Mick. It was only her final effort in making it possible for us to still be friends with him. An offer that he rejected out of hand.

I did continue speaking with Mick by phone for the next year. During this time I introduced him to a girl that I worked with named Keisha. Mick and Keisha hit it off and I found out that they got married last September.

My final straw came about two years ago. I had just finished a three day stint in Fort Carson with the Navy Reserve along with the Army. I was trying to tell Mick about the experience when he put me on hold, but with an open line where I could hear everything in the background. I could him complaining to Keisha about me. He accused me of exaggerating about my experience to make myself look better and said that I had a huge ego (the first part is a lie, the second part is true). He also told her that he had made an excuse for missing a get together with us (I had been trying to get together at a mall or something) and that it would have to be another lie that they remembered to keep up.

Despite all of my faults, the one thing that I am not is a liar. I hate lies and liars and I see no reason to lie. Of course all of my friends and family know this and know not to ask me questions that they don't wanna truthful answer to. Of course, they also know that I will always give an open honest answer to everything and that when I give advice, it's honest advice with no ulterior motives. I don't play games and I hate drama.

As you could imagine I took what he said extremely poorly. If he had been available I would have beat the hell outta him. As it was, I hung up. I left a message later telling him that I wouldn't be calling him back. I told him that if he no longer wanted to be friends then he should have told me instead of playing stupid games.

The reason that I am writing this today is because Mick called me Wednesday. I haven't heard from the guy in two years and he calls me out of the blue. Weird. I don't even know how he got my phone number, probably through the phone books (duh).

Apparently, Mick and Keisha spend all day with nothing to do besides lay around watching TV, playing on the computer, and roleplaying. They have no friends other than Mick's friend Nick (different Nick, the last one died, remember?) and Keisha's ex boyfriend. They see Keisha's sister and her kids on a regular basis, but that's it.

They wanted advice on getting part time jobs. They wanted to talk and to get to know us.

I don't know what to do. If I was advising someone else, I'd tell them to blow Mick off. He has not changed at all other than getting married. Maybe some of the problems outlined in number 6 have gone away with him getting married, but all of the rest are still there.

The problem is that I like helping people. I love giving advice and seeing people taking that and making their lives better. Or helping someone get a job. Or a nice car. Or a girl. Whatever. Mick and his wife are the ultimate fixer-upper friends that you could ever want.

I also miss our debates and conversations. While I can no longer talk for hours at a time on the phone, I can write like a mad animal while at work, as you may have guessed.

I also missed roleplaying with Mick. Just as long as Mick is not running the game.

I guess that I'm confused and lost. I don't really know what to do anymore. I miss Mick and have missed him for some time. At the same time I can't stand the thought of being around the guy unless he changed, which he hasn't.

Advice anyone? Please keep it honest.

Thank you.