Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The News Popped Up This Morning To Reveal . . .

Gerald Ford passed away. I am very sad. I met Mr. Ford once, several years ago. It wasn't a real meeting, I guess. He was riding on a golf cart and his security people would not stop to let him talk to people nearby. He waved at me and made eye contact. I like to consider it a meeting. I also heard him give a very inspirational speech that I have never forgot. He was not the best speaker (better than GWB), but his heart was obviously in the right place. His message was simple and clear. He was a very hopeful person. With his passing a little bit of goodness has gone out of the world. *sniffle*

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Enter A Subject: Christmas

It's that time of year. I'm definitely getting into the Christmas spirit now. It helps that most of my Christmas shopping has been dealt with. It also helps that other people are catching the Christmas spirit and generating it all around. I love how people get mostly happy around Christmas. That is, other than the annoying last minute shoppers who are out to get everything off the shelves. They might knock you down in the process. There are a lot of people like that. I don't do last minute shopping for more than one gift anymore. I just can't stand the crowds and the angry customers.

Back to the happy subject. I was talking to my favorite insurance man the other day. He was so happy and Christmasy that I could not help but catch the infectious mood. Christmas is an amazing time of the year. It's the time when we all try to overlook other people's faults and have a good time with the people we love. It's a time when we ignore the artificial, superficial issues and strive to be better people. It's a time when we stop forgetting to tell our friends and family that we love them and we always will.

I just like Christmas. Other than the story of Jesus' birth, my favorite Christmas story will always be "A Christmas Carol." I think it's the only good Dickens story, really. It's short and to the point. It tells the story of one man's redemption. I am a sucker for stories of redemption. There's just something about Scrooge that rings truest at Christmas time. He's the old man getting washed away in the waters of baptism that God gave to us through Jesus. After that there is renewal. But none of that could have been possible without Jesus' birth as a tiny baby. There is an awesomeness in Jesus' birth that we often forget. It's not just a pretty picture book, or a cutesy story with fuzzy animals and hay. No, Jesus birth was as important as the events that followed his birth. It is a much greater story with far more truth in it than the story of Scrooge that I enjoy so much. It moves me to more emotion, despite the fact that it is a lot easier to identify with "A Christmas Carol" or some other more modern story that we watch or read at Christmas time.

But more than that, Jesus birth reminds me every year of the gift of grace God offered to me and to all people. That is something that no other story can capture, no matter how touching or emotional it is. This is because grace is more than a story and more than an emotion. It is beyond my ability to imagine or understand. The Christmas spirit is the time when I find myself most able to contemplate grace. And yet I still cannot fathom the wonder and power of God's mercy on humankind. To extend the same grace to each one of us with no resentments or annoyances. That is far beyond our human comprehension. God is good, and Christmas is the time of year that forces me to remember that fact. Let this dreadful ramble remind you not to get so wrapped up in plans and presents that you ignore the truth about Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Look A Bunny!

I won't say this is Ah, Logic worthy, but it sure got me thinking. I have often been annoyed at people in general for their propensity to blame problems on those who are obviously not creating chaos of the intensity that has been alleged. Skirting the issues is a proud tradition of the human condition. Here are a few interesting points about that. Maybe I'll talk about this again in a later post. At the moment I'm being interrupted constantly and it's getting old. But that tends to happen at work . . .

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm A Healthy Person After All

In the annals of weird, medical phenomena you will find a page with my name on it. Here is a person who eats right, takes care of herself (although she could exercise a bit more) and yet she has a serious -- sometimes debilitating -- pain in her side that has been there for years and refuses to go away. This pain has left a dogging question in my mind. And at long last the answer to my question has emerged. I have to say that I like my primary care physician and my gastroenterologist very much. They're great people and without them I would still be wondering if I'm dying or something.

The good news is, I do not have an ulcer, I am perfectly healthy. I have a weird colon. Yup, that's it. I'm sure I've mentioned the fact before that I am a very small person. I never thought that being small could be a bad thing -- aside from the fact that if I accidentally skip a meal I become very weak. But there is one other problem with being this small. My colon has to make some rather sharp turns in order to fit itself inside of my abdomen. Thus, my food has a difficult time making it from one end to the other. In effect, my colon spasms to get the food through and that causes me a lot of pain. I had a colonoscopy the other day and they showed me the photos of my weird colon. Yeah, it's weird. I've seen photos from those procedures before and they didn't look quite like mine. There were some very sharp corners and some twisted spots. It was weird all right. Now I know why no one has ever been able to find anything wrong with me before.

The bad news is the chronic pain. The one thing I feared about all this was that I would be in pain for the rest of my life. I wanted something to be done to get rid of the pain completely. I wanted to live my life without that. But on this crazy journey of medical tests and all kinds of crap (sometimes literally, tmi) I have come to realize one thing. I don't care if I always have this pain, I care if I always have this pain and do not know why I have it. In the knowing lies the answer. I can make things easier on myself and I intend to do just that by eating even more right and exercising more.

In the end I am reminded once again of my own mortality. Physical weakness is part of how God reminds us that we need Him. Perhaps I can count all this as some sort of blessing even on the days when it is impossible to think like that.

Also, if any of you ever have to have a colonoscopy, let me tell you the two days before it are the worst thing imaginable. No, they're even worse than that. You have to "cleanse" your colon on those days. Just take the worst thing you can possibly imagine and multiply it by 27, that's how bad it is. I'm really hoping I will only have to endure that once in my life.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ah, Logic # 7

Sad, cynical and true. The fact of the matter is, people do not care when genocide happens in Africa, they just act like they care. There could be many reasons for this, I chock it up to the fact that there's no economic value to helping over there. I am sure there are more reasons than that. It's as if no one cares about that part of the world. Sometimes it bothers me that I get lumped into the great white Satan that is accused of not caring in regards to Africa and especially the Sudan. The harsh truth is that I probably deserve that label as much as any American or European. We do not like helping countries in Africa. Heck, we do not even remember there are separate countries over there.

I told someone that I was learning Zulu and she asked me if it was a bush language! It's only one of the official languages of South Africa which is one of the more stable countries in Africa. It's a place, not just a jungle. I'm tired of the whole "dark continent" view of Africa. I'm also tired of listening to people talk about colonialism and why that was bad for Africa. Everything does not revolve around jungles and colonization. I'm sorry, it just doesn't. There are many aspects of culture, politics and religion that remain in African countries from well before colonization.

Also, if you want to talk about colonization, why are the Muslim areas of Africa never mentioned? Some of them are, as in the article I linked to at the top of this post. But most are not and there are some dreadful, institutionalized human rights abuses (especially in regards to women) that occur on a regular basis in those areas.

Okay, okay. It's a rant. Next time I talk about this, I'll be nicer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Bandaid Moment

In order to understand the title of my post, I refer you to this post on my livejournal that I wrote some time ago. To me, a bandaid moment is the moment when someone I've never met before does something that is completely unselfish. And the person does that for me. They will never be repaid because I will never meet them again. They simply act in a way that restores my faith in God. I have had other bandaid moments, always when I least expect them. Today I really needed one. I was not thinking of one or the fact that I needed one. Yet it seems that whenever I am at my wit's end, God gives me a bandaid moment and I see again that He will always provide for me. That's what happened to me today.

I've had a rough day. I went to the doctor earlier and found out about some stuff that really scares me. I've wanted to cry all day, but I've worked hard. I've also been in a lot of pain today and that has not helped the situation. My discouragement scale was definitely dipping close to despair.

I went to the pharmacy to get some pain medicine and some other stuff that I have to take in preparation for a scary medical test I mentioned in the previous post. Craig was with me. When I went to pick up the medications the total came up to 82 cents. Now, I do not carry cash pretty much ever. So I asked Craig if he had 82 cents. He said he did not. I decided we would have to take the medicine to the regular checkout and the cashier got it ready. Then she remembered that she had already rung it up and could not just void it off the register. I was going to have to pay for all my other stuff with the medicine and I had an item that needed to be weighed, so I would have to take that to the regular checkout as the pharmacy checkout did not have a scale.

The customer standing next to me suddenly pulled out a dollar and offered to pay for my medicine. I was surprised and tried not to accept, but she paid anyway. I thanked her profusuely and said a silent prayer for her. I could not believe someone would do that for me. As I left the store I struggled to hold back tears at the kindness of that woman.

My faith in God has been restored, or rejuvenated because it never really went away. I have to say that if God will take care of me even when I am lazy and forgetful then He will take care of me in the midst of my current crisis. I should carry some cash with me now and then. I should have been willing to pay for that with one of my cards or I should have just left the items that needed to be weighed. But instead God took care of me and showed me that He's still there, He has not left me despite my pain, my suffering and the fear I have felt in regards to whatever could be physically wrong with me. He is so amazing and so merciful. He did not have to give his life for mine and defeat death so that I could have eternal life. And on top of all that have a kind person in the right place so that when I was stupid and lazy I could still be taken care of. But He did. God's love is wonderful. I am in awe.

A Stomach Update

No stomach ulcer. So that's good. However, there are complications and the scenario keeps looking scarier. It might be any number of other things and the complications will send me back to the gastroenterologist for a very, very scary test. I also have to have a CT scan which is not a biggie as I've had that done before.

I'm worried. I'm still in pain, although on some meds to deal with that. Please pray for me if you are the praying sort.

The endoscopy of the past week was particularly painless. I was flying high on the anesthesia they gave me. I was very, very happy and nice to everyone. I thanked them profusely for everything down to the pair of fuzzy socks they gave me to wear while I was at the doctor's. I am such a weirdo. Afterwards I slept for hours.

I'm happy this is not a stomach ulcer. But I am a bit worried about what else could be wrong. Keep praying. I need courage. Haha, and money.

Thanks for all your prayers. And thanks for all the congratulations below. Trust me, your words did make me feel a lot better.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I'll Tell You What Would Make Me Feel Better

But first, I'll tell you why I don't feel good at all. The last week and a half has been somewhat traumatic in the physical pain sense. That is to say, I am in severe physical pain. My left side hurts so much that most of the time I do not want to move, but if I don't move it feels worse than if I am walking around. I also have no energy.

So, on Friday I went to the doctor and she thinks I have an ulcer. Yeah, remember last March/April's posts (if you're a longtime reader) about all this? Where they thought I had a slow digestive system. Well, the pain is a lot worse now, and now it's a suspected stomach ulcer. That means I'm looking at never eating spicy food again. Okay, no cheese, no chocolate, no wine, no salsa, no jalepenos. I may as well eat mush for the rest of my life.

Wednesday is an interesting date because I'm going to have an interesting test done that should tell the doctors if I have an ulcer. Keep me in your prayers on that.

But it would really make me feel better if you all posted congratulations on my winning NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

I'm Sad To See

November is nearly over. I have 4 days left to finsh my 50k words for NaNoWriMo. It is a sad day indeed when I realize that this month is at its end. I have 4k words to go in order to reach my goal although I'm guessing it will take another 10k to finish the story I'm writing. That's okay. I plan to keep writing into December until I have completed the initial first draft. I say initial because this draft is sort of like vomit. I just threw it all out there and it's a mess right now. Unlike vomit, however, it will not always be a mess. I will clean it up and edit it and someday it will even smell good. Someday when publishers start using scented paper for books . . .

In the meantime, I am sad to see that November is going away. The rush of NaNoWriMo is like nothing else. I am convinced that if not for that rush I would not do this writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days thing. After all, it's kind of a crazy thing to do. I enjoy the rush. It puts me back into the writing mood and helps me become more disciplined.

In fact, last year, post NaNo happy writing vibes kept me going for months. I nearly finished editing a book by the summer. Of course, my perfectionism caught up with me eventually and I was afraid to write again. That's how I am. I use NaNo as a launchpad to throw me back into a more disciplined writing schedule. I know that eventually I'll run out of fuel and have to come back down to earth for a few months until the next November. Then I prepare the fuel again -- a new plot -- and get all set to blast off into the stars once more.

That's NaNo. I've done it twice now and I love it. It's a great way to remind myself what writing means to me and it keeps me going for a while.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving America!

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday and it's probably my favorite. Super Bowl Sunday is a close second.

Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner is an art. I take a lot of pride in making my turkey and pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes and gravy and all the other things one has on Thanksgiving. But food is not really what this day is about.

This day is about giving thanks for what we have been blessed with. When you look around you will realize that you have been blessed with an awful lot of stuff. Even if you're as poor as a churchmouse, you still have people who care about you, or a roof over your head. Or the ability to read this post on a computer. I mean, you can read, isn't that cool?

But, to come to the point, there is one thing we have all been offered or blessed with. That is God's salvation. God has extended His grace to every single person through His Son's death on the cross and ressurection. And that is no small gift. That is something for which mere thanks will never be enough. Although God knows our human condition makes it impossible for us to repay Him, he still offers that salvation with no conditions. Indeed, the idea that conditions apply and that we have to earn that gift is nothing more than an insult. Although, it is possible to reject God's gift and many have done just that.

I know you're thinking that it could not be that easy. That's the trap into which many people have fallen. Yes, it's simply that easy. Jesus gave his life for our sins, we can be clean and forgiven. It's just that simple. You do not have to stare into the face of your own shortcomings and realize that you will never be good enough because Jesus did it all for us. For that I am truly thankful.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Comment Update

It seems that I can comment on non-beta blogs. However, I must be already signed in to do that. Hence, I have lost several comments on several people's blogs. Stupid blogger. They are infuriating.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

No Comments

I cannot comment on non-Beta blogs. If you want my comments you will have to switch to Beta or just wait for stupid Blogger to change it so that I can do that. For right now, it's not possible. Blogger is ridiculous. I hate them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Day 12 Is At An End

I am most of the way through Week 2: The Struggle. That is my new name for week two of NaNoWriMo because it is the most difficult week in the struggling sense.

I will name all four weeks now:

Week 1: The Sprint
Week 2: The Struggle
Week 3: The Best Part Of The Novel
Week 4: Oh Crap, I Have To Get To 50K
2 Days Left: Oh Crap! Oh Crap! Where's My 50K?

How do you like that? That about describes NaNo in its entirety. Being in week 2 is like being stuck on a roller coaster that never stops climbing upwards. You feel like you're never going to get to the good part of the novel. Every time I write I have to push myself through what I'm writing. Otherwise I get discouraged and annoyed. I finish each part of the book telling myself that the next bit will be easier and more fun to write. When I get to the next bit, I'm still on the uphill slant. It's no better than the one before and no easier. I still haven't arrived at the fun part. The hill keeps going onwards and upwards. But I do not look up. I tell myself the next part will be fun and I keep on writing. It's the only way.

One day soon the clouds will break and I will reach the summit of the roller coaster. My little car will turn at a downward slant and I'll be shouting and laughing as I write the best part of the story at record pace. My stomach will get all twisted in knots because I know it's going to be such a good story.

Right now it looks like crap and I do not know how I'm going to make it through the difficult part. Wait, I know, I remember, when I finish this part, the next will be the good part.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ah, Logic # 6

I went over to my friend Xana Ender's blog and read a very refreshing post that deserves an link under this series. Read it and you'll know why.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ah, Logic #5

Orson Scott Card is a great writer. Personally, I prefer his essays and political writings to his books. Here's a very interesting and logical article he wrote for election day.

Post Election Day Trauma

I voted electronically. It was really freaky. I felt like an elderly person faced with a Pentium II and Microsoft Outlook. I was supposed to push all these buttons beside arrows which pointed to the candidate or issue on the ballot. Somehow this qualifies as voting. Little green lights came on when I pushed the buttons. Some of the arrows did not quite correspond with their candidate and I was reminded of hanging chads and people in Palm Beach, FL.

I'm used to the old fashioned voting method. The one where you take a black marker and fill in ovals next to your candidates/proposals of choice. I'm not sure I like electronic voting. My main question is, how do you write someone in? I usually write myself into one or two slots just for fun and because I a) do not know who else to vote for or b) do not want to vote for either candidate. You are not required to choose the lesser of two evils, I always say. You can refuse to choose either. I digress. There was no pen to write someone in with. On most of the candidate slots there was no place to write someone in.

As I said, electronic voting is not for me. Can I have my cardboard ballot back? The one that I mark with a pen and then stick into the big, weird looking machine that makes funny noises? I'd like that.

Well, looks like the Dems have a little majority going there. This will be interesting. I'm hoping that the Dems can mess things up even more than the Republicans did over the past few years. Then Pence will have a better chance because he's an optimistic man and optimism usually wins after a lot of crap (e.g. FDR was optimistic and so was Ronald Reagan, both men won the presidency at decidedly depressing historical moments).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

November The First

NaNoWriMo has begun and I still have not uploaded a 2006 participant icon or even mentioned what I'm doing this month. I'm working on a fantasy parody/high fantasy/ it's supposed to be funny fantasy. So far there are a few funny bits and it's mostly ridiculous. But I'm over 11,000 words in so at least I'm moving right along. NaNoWriMo has one point: write 50k words of a story be it good or dreadful.

Writers are by nature perfectionists. We like to read back over what we have written and whine about how it's not right. Then we say we have writer's block and refuse to do anything for weeks on end. I'm definitely guilty as charged.

NaNoWriMo is a reminder that you will not write anything good if you do not write. I am taking that to heart this year. I have ignored all of the dreadful crap I've written and kept going despite the odd moments of wondering if I should scrap my plot and do something different. The second week is always the worst week. But once I clear that hurdle I'll be home free. The second week of NaNo starts tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Am I Alone?

Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this way and notices these things. I just finished reading this article on how Saddam is urging Iraqis to unify. He also suggests that Iraqis not take revenge on the U.S. Okay. He is trying real hard to get people to forget his own crimes. Does anyone believe this guy for a second?

Saddam Hussein asking Iraqis to unify is like the KKK offering reparations. It's completely illogical. The sectarian violence would not be anywhere near what is is if Saddam had not exacerbated it with mass killings.

I'm definitely disgusted.

Furthermore, suggesting that Iraqis not take revenge on the U.S. is a blatant attempt to veer attention away from any of Saddam's crimes which are many.

I think I'm gonna go outside and jump up and down shouting now.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Making A Fashion Statement

It's time for me to come out of my shell and make a fashion statement. One that the whole world will notice. Well, maybe not the whole world, maybe not even anyone outside my general acquaintances. In reality, I hope that some people in my own community will notice. Every female in the area needs some desperate fashion help. I hope this is not a country wide problem. Oh, you haven't noticed? Hmm. Four words then:

The '80s are back.

I realize that I may have lost a significant portion of my audience to heart attacks and the like after that statement. Sorry, but I'm talking truth here. It must be said. So, here is my fashion statement (this is for the ladies and for the men who care enough to let the ladies know when something bad is happening to them):

1) Leggings/leg warmers/whatever the hell you call them were never, ever, ever cool in your wildest dreams or nightmares. They're still not cool.

3) Opaque tights are for 5 year olds and younger, there is no way around that.

4) Turned up collars are wrong and are also for 5 year olds.

5) Wearing dirty sweat clothes is gross and makes me think you need to take a shower and that you stink.

6) Oversized sweaters with enormous buttons/bows zippers/etc are horrific, simply horrific.

7) Vests were not meant to be worn except for when wearing a tuxedo or suit and then they need to match the suit. Wearing a vest over an old t-shirt is not and never has been cute. If you think it is cute then you should probably be very worried about getting a job because no one is going to hire a 1980s freak.

8) Big hair is morally wrong. You should be ostracized for having big hair.

9) Ruffled blouses ought to be dragged out into the street and run over by a dump truck then buried in a landfill or flushed down the toilet.

10) Skinny pants are not skinny pants. They are tapered leg pants and they have always been ghastly. Do not wear them.

That is my fashion statement. I hope someone listens to me. I hate being on a campus again and getting to see all the sheep who go along with the styles that are supposed to be cool but are actually dreadful. I firmly believe that the '80s have returned because those who lived through the '80s feared to show their embarrassing photographs of their awful clothing to the younger generation. The younger generation does not know better because the older ones failed their duty. It's a sorry state of fashion.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hats Off To You, Mr. Luther

Yesterday was Reformation Day. I would toast a long and happy life to Martin Luther, the man who made Reformation Day, but he's been dead for quite some time. Of course, I'm a Lutheran, so that's the only reason I'm talking right now.

I am not one of those Lutherans who eats, lives and breathes everything Martin Luther ever said. I find some of his words to be true and interesting. Others are rather humorous in their outright crankiness. And some are not at all true. I do think that his codification of doctrine was very well done and I agree with a lot of it. Generally, I do not call myself a Lutheran, because I never liked the Lutheran arrogance. I still do not like that. It was the reason that I had a lot of trouble becoming a Lutheran. I did not want to turn into an arrogant person who sat around talking about why everyone else was wrong. Fortunately that is not requisite for being Lutheran and here I am. I'm sure I'm more arrogant than I think, but you get the general idea.

Back to the topic now. I would like to offer a warm round of applause to Martin Luther. I am happy that such a guy existed to put the world off the track of massive church corruption, at least inasmuch as he did. I wonder what the world would be like now if Martin Luther had never existed and had not been quite so hardheaded when he did. It would probably be a lot weirder. Hats off to you, Mr. Luther.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Serious Post, For Real

I mean it. I'm even posting in reddish brown to be more serious. This is the last post of October 2006 that I will write (we'll see) and I want it to be serious. I've been off for so long that it's getting old. I do not even have time to read the news anymore. It's driving me crazy. So, I've got something to talk about and it's serious.

Principles are rarely consistent. People will believe strongly in something, but only in one example and not in another. Yes, I'm going to talk about the War in Iraq. We've all heard a lot of discussion on the immorality of the U.S. in this matter. We took over another country, we wanted oil, there were not WMD. The list goes on. I'm not really for the war that much, so I'm not going to point out that Iraq disagrees with us on important decisions quite often, oil prices have not decreased enough to mean anything and there was evidence of WMD potential. I am going to point out something entirely different in fact.

Fidel Castro gets more respect that our government. This is because he promised to bring democracy to Cuba and then turned it into a communist dictatorship (I guess?). People's lives in Cuba could be improving, instead they are not. How about the Soviet Union? Talk about taking over another government or two! They only conquered their neighboring countries and caused the deaths of about 100 million people. But nobody talks about that. Then there's China, why doesn't it bother anyone that Google censors searches on human rights coming out of China? Why don't we ever hear comments on the secret concentration camps that political prisoners in China have vanished into? Why is our understanding of the world and the wrongs that occur so focused on one country?

You hear people talk about how wrong it was of the U.S. to go into Iraq and depose it's ruler. They say it's because that's just a wrong thing to do. In the next sentence you might hear them praise Castro or even the Soviet Union (I'm serious, I go to a public university). This makes no sense to me. If you're going to have a principle you should hold to it consistently. Otherwise it's not a principle.

I'll grant that you might not always show evidence of your belief, we're only human. However, this large of a gap is completely illogical. It means one thing and one thing only. You do not like the U.S. in particular and the things that it does.

I do agree that our actions in Iraq have set up a huge moral dilemma. A moral dilemma that ought to be considered just as seriously as consistency in principles.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good Intentions, Or, Because I'm Weird

Every week I plan to write an interesting post. Perhaps I'll comment on current events. Perhaps I'll philosophize about the good. Perhaps I'll discuss a social or cultural concern. And every week I have no desire to write and nothing good to write about. It's sad. However, I can say a few random things that have come to mind.

Perhaps I'm getting a bit egocentric, but I am rather tired of my own weirdness. Nobody around here tells me that I'm strange, but I know they're thinking it. How do I know? Because I've been around enough to know. Some days it would be nice just to be an ordinary person and to see the world the same way everyone else sees it. I laugh when I should not laugh, I get all teary when things are not sad enough to cry, I always forget to put the specifics in when I'm talking to people. And then I have days when I just want to hide under my desk and write or something. I am tired of having to be around people. But it's my job. Paper, people and phones, that's life.

How do you stop worrying about what other people think? It really does not matter. It never has. Still, sometimes I cannot help but wonder. I want to know that I'm doing a good job at work, I want to know that I have friends. I want to be an ordinary person. I want to have the confidence I pretend to have. Sometimes I remember that I'm really just a facade. It's bothersome, because I want to be myself. I get so comfortable presenting a face that I hardly notice until I become irritated with myself. This is one of those moments.

There's only one person besides myself whom I cannot fool and that's God. Perhaps my irritation at myself is His way of reminding me that I'm not as clever as I think I am. Or something like that.

Why even present a disguise to everyone else? It's not like I'm a psycho. It's not like most of us are psychos and we still tend to present a face. It's almost a formality. You act like you're more normal than you are. But what the heck is normal? Perhaps it is because I am shy. I always say I am reserved and/or formal. But really, I'm just shy. That's only one of the weird things about me. Here's some more: I talk to myself, I make up stories in my head when I'm bored, I like to eat vegetables, I people watch, I never stop thinking even when I'm asleep, I make an effort to drink 8 glasses of water a day and usually succeed, I can only effectively work at my own desk (other people's desks make me uncomfortable), I'm happy when it's cloudy or it rains (until the 15th day of consecutive cloudiness) and I find random little things to be happy about that no else would care about in the slightest. I also talk incessently about nothing.

What can I say? I'm odd. Sometimes it gets to me. I hope I don't bore you again with a post like this . . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another Silly Story And A Basic Rant

The last two or three days could only be termed the beginning of "Esther ditz week." On Monday I left my coffee at home. On Tuesday I locked my keys, purse, cell phone and everything in my car. Today, I made someone cry because I did not have enough information to keep from making someone cry.

No offense to those who have blonde hair. I understand that does not necessarily mean you are stupid. It's a colloquialism or a figure of speech when I say that I have had a lot of blonde moments this week. I'm just not as clever as I like to think that I am.

Oh yeah, the other ditzy thing I've done this week is to arrange an outdoor adventure that will probably take place in a snow storm. That is, if you keep up on the severe weather alerts. Actually, weather happens to you even if you do not keep up on severe weather alerts. Anyways, I'm praying that cold front passes us by.

Then there's this. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood, but I am a bit tired of our American wimpy-ness. Oh my gosh, it's a war, people are having trouble. Our personal lives have been disrupted. That evil George W. Bush. He wants marriages to break apart . . . What about people who live in countries that are in continuous conflict? The Sudan? Rwanda and Burundi? People who live in countries that must go to war in order to remain, well, a country? Israel? I'm just so tired of listening to Americans whine about how psychologically messed up we are by this war when most of us have never even felt the effects of it. Most of us do not even know someone who has been stationed in Iraq!

Also, if you're going to join the military, you might be deployed for a while. It's not like other jobs. Having a griping article about how tough it is to be away from one's family is, well, like duh. That's in the job description. Gah! People!

We've turned into a nation of drama queens.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


It's my birthday! I'm so happy. I have nothing to say, really. I think I will always enjoy birthdays, even when I am turning 80.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Help! Help! I'm Being Repressed!

That, my generous readers, is the cry of the liberal in consternation over the hell hole into which GWB has transformed our once free and fair country. Everywhere you look you can see the tell tale signs. We have only read about them before, from history books on Hitler's Germany, in George Orwell's 1984, in that other book A Brave New World. Yes, it's all true now. If you say something bad about the government before you go to bed, you will be found dead in your cornflakes the next morning -- if you're lucky!

Okay. Yeah. One of my fellow students made the comment yesterday that she does "not support George Bush or his regime." She's a political science student. Regime is a very specific word. All I could think was that the bureaucracies have not changed, nor the structure of the government. Bush will not be in power when his term ends. Therefore, the regime is still the same. I have noted this idea of Bush's regime on other occasions and never gave it much thought until now. Now, that I am daily surrounded by the unthinking actions of the general public. People really do not take the time to think things through thoroughly. However, I did not start this in order to turn it into a gripe about illogical people. Rather, I began it to point out the slide toward extreme reasoning and emotions that our nation has taken.

It reminds me very much of the polarization that tore the country apart before the Civil War. This time, there is no physical boundary between the differences of opinion. Yet they are still very strong. Differences of opinion are no laughing matter either. One cannot get away with saying that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Some people's opinions are more equal than others. Or, to be blunt, we all think we're right and everyone else is wrong. We're not going to politely say that we're right, however. We're not going to calmly say, "I disagree." No, that is an inappropriate response. You have to scream your opponent down and make him wish he had never even thought about addressing you. That's the right way to do things. Make a public scene, throw a fit. Be a two year old in the grocery store whose mommy won't buy you more candy.

Which brings me back to the idea of our oppressive government. If our government were so oppressive, why is there no evidence of this? Why is it that we can make a public scene about how awful our government is and receive no consequences? Why aren't there people dead in their cornflakes the day after an enourmous protest?

Because our government is still an orderly, controlled government. That's why. And because the only power it has usurped from us, is the power we gave it. That's still not enough power to condemn us to death for one temper tantrum in front of the White House.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I seem to have some time all of a sudden. Actually, it's borrowed time. I've come down with a nasty cold or something. I am always the last one to get these. Hence, all of my co-workers were home sick last week. Now it's my turn. Hopefully I can avoid being too sick for more than one day.

Since I have come into some time, I thought I'd write a bit on here and maybe work myself out of this latest stint of writer's block.

I've been considering what to write for NaNoWriMo this year. Oh yes, despite my work schedule and my class, I still plan to write 50,000 words come November. I do not plan on missing a NaNoWriMo until I'm so old my fingers do not work to type anymore. Even then, I plan to use my nose to punch the keys.

My book plan has changed over and over, going from one story to another in the hopes of creating something decent and over 50,000 words. Still, nothing sits very well with me this year. I guess I'm not focused. I'm definitely feeling anticipatory. I mean, I'm practically jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of November and staying up late to work on my next novel project. So far my best plots are either science fiction or fantasy. Even the realistic ones have an element of the fantastical. That's just me. I'm thinking that I may write the second book in a series that I started working on my sophmore year of college. It's amusing that I still have not finished the first book in that series. It has a few chapters remaining to be written.

I'm going to end up as one of those people with all sorts of things written and nothing published if I do not watch it. It's all about taking risks, isn't it? Nobody likes to take risks. It's difficult enough just sitting down and writing the first draft. The very idea of showing it to people, having it critiqued and then finding an agent who can get it published! It's very daunting, to say the least.

I suppose I've fought tougher battles than that however, not longer ones, but tougher ones. Getting out to D.C. to do my internship there was definitely a struggle. I can still remember two weeks before classes got out for Christmas break, 5 weeks before I was to be in D.C., going to my professor to tell him I did not think I would be able to go after all. I had paid for housing, I had an internship all set up, I even had people willing to drive me out to D.C. I prefer not to explain exactly why I did not think I could go, it touches the lives and false promises of a few too many people and would be both discourteous and unprofessional. Suffice it to say, it happened. And it reminded me of my long time motto: If you stop trying when things get tough you will never know what would have happened if you had only tried a little harder. Cheesy, I know. But that's me, proving that cheesy can work no matter how cheesy it is.

Now that I've given myself a pep talk I guess I should edit the book I was supposed to have fully edited by September 21st.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Just One Question

It seems that every time someone attempts to open the doors of civil debate and discussion about Islam, the Muslims riot, kill people and burn things. After a while it gets me to wondering if Islam is a "religion of peace," or if that's just a glossed over way of trying to appease people who are otherwise rather crazy.

I hate to stereotype but come on people! What ever happened to just saying, "I disagree"? How do you expect people to take your opinion seriously when you cannot give your opinion without killing somebody?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Google May Lose A Customer

I am seriously considering switching this blog from blogger to Wordpress. I have a wordpress account. I need to spend some more time working on it, and will definitely import everything written here onto it if I decide to make the switch. The truth is, I have been annoyed at google since they agreed to censor searches about human rights in China. Yeah, I have principles and I like to stick with them.

I've been training a temp this week so I had no time to write and was too tired when I got home. Then my temp got a real job and now I have to start all over training a different temp on Monday. You can guess how thrilled I am. If this one leaves too I'm gonna tell my bosses that I do not want anymore temps. Training people is twice as difficult as doing your work by yourself. I'm behind and will only get more behind now that I'm back to square one with training. I've been mentally exhausted all week. Hence the not posting.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

People Can Be Very Sick And Twisted

I read this in astonishment. That parents would go to such depths just so their sad, unmotivated kids can get good grades! It kinda takes living vicariously through one's children to whole new levels. How awful. In most cases the kids probably are not doing as well in school because they have psychotic parents who care more about the letter A than their own child's health.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ah, Logic #4

I do not often agree with Jonah Goldberg, but here is one instance where he echoed my thoughts.

What's Up With Me?

Because I am sure my generous readership is wondering, I'm going to post an update with a few interesting muses. My work life is relatively stressful, just enough to make it interesting. I have been moving offices for the last week and will continue to do that for the rest of this week. It's somewhat disheartening as I have now lost my beautiful office with the windows. It has been replaced by a cubicle in a large room where everyone can hear what I am saying at all times and whisper about me when they don't think I can hear them. Currently I have about 4 square feet of space. Oh, and there are no windows in this room as it's in the middle of the building. I did not have much of a view in my old office, but at least I could tell what the weather was doing.

I have begun taking a class in the Zulu language. It's interesting. My prof is from South Africa, and he has an interesting perspective on a lot of different things, culturally speaking. The other students in the class are mostly stupid as rocks, potential activists who hate all things American. They also think that America caused all the world's problems dating back to the 15th century A.D., possibly even earlier than that. I have not yet pointed out the fact that America did not exist in any form other than some land out there in the wide open at that time, and I'm sure it would be intolerant of their views if I did tell them that. To give an example, today our prof discussed colonization and how it destroyed a lot of South African culture. He referenced the various European cultures that imposed colonization. Suddenly, a fellow student made a statement about evil Americans and our prof began discussing American imperialism. I was thrown for a loop. I'm not going to say that America has helped Africa, but we certainly never colonized them.

In short, I am getting fodder for thought and receiving a taste of mainstream academia in a higher dosage than I have ever experienced before. I am so thankful that I went to the 'Dale. Anyone out there looking for a college? Choose a place like Hillsdale College where they teach you to think and give you mostly accurate information about historical matters.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crikey! That's Sad!

If any of you haven't heard the news, Steve Irwin the "Crocodile Hunter" is dead. I honestly think it's very tragic that a creature killed him. It is somewhat ironic that sting rays kill almost nobody. This is sad and almost as bizarre as Fidel Castro's death would be. I thought for sure, Steve Irwin would live to a ripe old age and no creature would ever get him. He was crazy and fearless, like one of those people who jumps down volcanoes or runs into hurricanes. Except that he almost got eaten by scary animals or bitten by venomous snakes. As weird as the guy was, I did enjoy watching his show when I got the chance and I'm very sad for his wife and kids.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Kindness Is Painful

That's the impression I get from most people, be they customer service representatives, customers or random people you happen to speak to for no particular reason. It's easier, for most people, to assume that I'm some idiot who wants to eat their babies and react to me as if that was the case, then it is for them to assume that I want to know how to get to a certain road or building and have no map to tell me where that place is. Raise your hand if you've ever said something to a person you just met and had them freeze up and act like you're an idiot. My favorite question goes something like this: "What did I ever do to you?"

I especially remember the pain of kindness from when I worked in a photolab a couple years ago. It was very difficult for people to be nice to me. You know how you catch more flies with honey? Yeah, few people go by that rule. Most would rather make the person serving them feel absolutely dreadful before having to do something for them. Even Machiavelli would disagree with that take on how you treat other people.

What is the difficulty in just being nice to somebody? Why do we assume that everyone is out to take advantage of us and treat everyone like crap? I often wonder about this. It came to mind a lot the other day when my computer got moved to a different office a week ahead of schedule. I decided to be nice and let the guy move it because he was confused and had already moved half the stuff and did not want to put it back. I was annoyed, but I tried to thank him for his help in getting me set up on a different computer and finding the emails I had lost because I stupidly saved them to my old hard disk and did not have time to move them to a different file. My other co-workers, who got moved as well, were a lot less willing to be nice. Understandable, yes. However, it did not cost me a thing to be nice. Everyone has bad days and it was apparent that our IT department was having a bad day. Sometimes I mix things up and look like an idiot too. Why should I get mad when someone else does the same thing? They probably felt bad enough already and did not need my scathing criticism to make them feel worse. So, I did my best to stay out of the way and made sure that my computer worked before letting them get back to their regularly scheduled day.

The moral of the story: next time my computer breaks there will be happier people willing to fix it. The same goes for a lot of areas of work. I have been yelled at quite often as a customer service representative. Now, I am never one to sabotage someone's photos that they are paying for. But I do take pride in my work. If a person treated me like crap, I did not take pride in my work anymore. I normally did not bother to look at their photos, much less make sure they were not too dark or poorly centered. If they took bad photos, they got bad photos. Treating someone like crap to get what you want does nothing to motivate them to do good work.

Why does it hurt so much to be kind? After all, in the long run, you'll get better service if you're nice. I will conclude with another story. My alma mater's cafeteria serves fresh made omelets every Sunday and I used to get an omelet each week. One time, a young man who was very good at making omelets made mine. I told him not to put cheese on it, and he forgot. So when I came back he was just finishing it and asked if I wanted cheese again. I told him I did not. He gave me the omelet. I started eating it and realized that cheese had been cooked all through it. I was so angry. After a few minutes I brought the omelet back, told him that I had asked for no cheese because I will get sick if I eat cheese and he should have just told me that he had forgot and put cheese in the omelet. I then said that I did not have time to wait for another one, so I'd just eat something else. I was polite, but firm. In the ensuing weeks, that guy always made sure that nobody put cheese in my omelets and he was really nice. You know, it should not hurt to treat someone nicely even when they mess up and they will treat you with greater respect in the long run. If it does hurt, then you may want to get some therapy or something.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Begging For Reason

This article, by Heather MacDonald, begs for a response which I am only too inclined to give. In her article, Heather MacDonald explains her reasons for believing that if God exists he is an evil God with no love for humanity. On a certain level I agree with her, because I have had my moments of anger toward God. They never lasted all that long, but they happened.

Still, what do you say to a person when they express a response to the idea of God such as the one in this article? She has addressed several arguments written by Christians and shown a well founded contempt for them. To say that God's love is different from ours would make little sense to someone who does not understand God's love. It makes little enough sense to those who have an inkling of understanding. After all, God's love offers us both our free will and His grace. It does not stop evil things from happening on a regular basis and recognizes us as both the cause of our own misfortunes and as evil people. That's a tough thing to hear or understand. People will point out a child and ask how you can call such a lovely and innocent person evil. What do you say?

The train example which MacDonald writes suggests another of those difficult to answer questions. Perhaps it can best be answered by pointing out the Christian belief in eternal life. If you believe that you're going to heaven when you die then you most likely believe that you will pass on in God's good time and not before. A train may take you, or you may die in your sleep. On the other hand, Christians believe it is wrong to murder. Thus, life is precious and death is tragic. This appears to be a dichotomy. Or you might turn it around even more and suggest that since God knows the end from the beginning, He knows when we will die and therefore he is an accomplice to murder. A person can get all tangled up in these ideas and come to the conclusion that either God is evil, or He does not exist. Terrible things happen all the time -- why?

All of this is merely a distraction. God did create a perfect world and we messed it up because He loved us enough to offer us free will. Instead of snatching that free will away and forcing us to live as God had originally intended, He sent His own son to be born among us, live a life like ours, remain perfect and take our wrongdoings upon him in death. It did not end there, however, for that son rose from the dead after conquering death. None of this makes logical sense. But it is the only answer I can give to the arguments at hand. If you seek to turn God into logic, remember that He created that logic. Of course, this is not going to help someone who does not believe that God exists. I have no answer for that.

So still, these questions remain. Our language is finite, God is infinite, how can the one be translated into the other? Christianity is a face value religion, yet there are so many things that are difficult for us to come to terms with. In the end, I am forced to look into the storm with Job and hear the words that God spoke then (Job 38):

2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?

3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand . . .

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Matters of Housekeeping

I have a couple matters of housekeeping to point out to my readers. Most of the time I let my blog's structure and template speak for itself, but I think it is necessary to comment on recent events.

1. Minor change: When I post articles that I find particularly logical and intriguing they will be part of the Ah, Logic series.

2. Major change: If you cannot get yourself a blogger identity or are afraid to put that identity on my blog along with your opinion, then you will not be posting comments. I do not care if you want to make an idiot of yourself here, just have an identity when you make an idiot of yourself. I am no longer accepting anonymous comments. I am sorry to those friends of mine who do not have blogger identities. I would remind you that I went ahead and got an identity so that I could post comments on your blog of choice, it's not too much to ask a return of the favor. Also, if you are a friend of mine without a blogger identity, it is not because of you that I decided to change this. Anonymous commenters are almost always spammers. I operate on the basis that if you really want to comment on my blog and to continue doing so, you will get a blogger identity and be something other than an idiot spammer.

Edit: As my friend Little Cicero has reminded me, you do NOT have to have a blogger blog in order to have a blogger identity. More on this later.

Ah, Logic #3

Thomas Sowell tends to make sense. That's why I always read his articles.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Snakes on a Plane (see below) was truly the most fun I have had at a movie since I can remember. I have not laughed that much in ages. It had all the hilarity of a movie that is so bad you have to watch it over and over. It had all the stereotypes that you can expect in a movie like that, yet I found myself enjoying the stereotypes. I shed a couple tears when good characters died. I said "Aww," when the baby was saved from the venemous intruders. I was frightened by all the creepy reptiles. I was horrified by the shocking lack of research into Burmese pythons displayed by the terribly unrealistic, scary scene which depicted one attacking and . . . okay, okay, I know some stuff about snakes, I won't bore you, nevermind. Harumph, on with the movie review. It was a hilarious and strangely heartwarming movie. The script was awesome and the acting superb. The actors had fun and it showed. Samuel L. Jackson had more fun than anyone else in his role.

Speaking of whom, I stand corrected, Samuel L. Jackson actually said, "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf------ snakes on this motherf------ plane!" It was the most brilliant and well delivered line in cinematic history. I defy even Charlton Heston could say a line like that so well.

Yup, it's no Citizen Kane, but Snakes on a Plane is a winner in my book.

The Best Weekend Ever

Who's going to see Snakes on a Plane this weekend? Me, me! So, me! This is going to be the best weekend ever! I've read the reviews, critics hate the movie and fans love it. Yup, I think I'll let myself be influenced by the happy public. Besides, who would want to miss seeing Samuel L. Jackson say, "I want these m-----f------ snakes off this m-----f------ plane!" I can't wait.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Work Is Taking Over

I have several new assignments which mean that I do not have time to write on my blog during the day except if I do not go anywhere for lunch. When I get home in the evenings I'm tired and have been on the computer all day doing my job, so I don't feel much like writing then either. I sometimes work on my books, but even that is pretty sporadic these days. Yes, this is not the making of good, interesting and thoughtful blog posts. Suffice it to say that I am not going to be around as much as I would like to be for a while. In a while, people will be properly trained and I will not have to do their work for them, then I'll be more loquacious. This is a short news bulletin for my regular readers information. I'll post what and when I can, be assured.

For now, I'd just like to ask a very important question which you may discuss: Is the glass half empty or half full?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Why Do We Suffer?"

My gravestone should read something like this, "She always knew what to say." It's funny, I never thought it would bother me always to know what to say to people when they're sad or upset or annoyed. Isn't that the sort of person we all want to be? Not me, not anymore. Always knowing how to respond is really just a facade, one that coats the fact that I do not wish to feel too deeply, I do not wish to be affected too much by something like love. Therefore, I do not allow myself to be at a loss.

Watching the movie, Shadowlands, last night caused me to walk through a door -- metaphorically speaking -- through which I do not think I can ever return. Or perhaps I can. The ability of the human soul to return to its prideful ways is unsurpassed. One can be broken completely, yet still, the pride will knock again, asking to become a part of me once more. And in my shallow, foolish ways, I will take it back, almost before it is gone.

Yet for a few hours my pride was broken and erased. For a few hours I existed as nothing but myself. Myself with no facade. While watching the movie, all the suffering I have ever known mixed with my sorrow for the trials of the characters themselves. The question that C.S. Lewis asks in Shadowlands, "Why do we suffer?" kept coming back to me afterwards. I'm not going to say that I know the answer to this question, because I do not. I know the textbook answer: suffering makes us understand happiness; suffering refines us like gold. But those words seem hollow in the face of real suffering.

My aunt passed away about two years ago. She died of cancer after an 18 month battle. As she was my favoriate aunt ever, that was a very sad time. Now, she was a Christian and I knew where she went after death. But somehow, that did not matter at the time. I remember going in to work the day after the funeral. There was this customer whom I had never got along with and she, naturally, chose that day to come in to get some photos copied. As I was helping her copy the photos she started crying. She then informed me that the photos were pictures of her brother who had just died of cancer. Actually, the cancer had been cured, he died from the effects of chemo. She told me that he was a Christian, so he had gone to heaven. I told her about my aunt, and I started crying too. We both said the same thing then, "I know he/she went to heaven and is happy and well now, but why couldn't he/she be with us a little longer and be happy here?" Yeah, that's suffering. The stark reality that you have lost what you are terrified to lose, even though you have always known you would lose it. We simply rephrased the question in our response, "Why do we suffer?"

We suffer because we love, because we care, because we do feel deeply for others. To know the reason behind the suffering is to have a peace that goes beyond words. A peace that exists in such a way that you cannot explain it. However, it is expressed in the tears we let fall for both ourselves and the others we meet who suffer. It is easy to go through life, suffering its trials without understanding and with a desire simply to avoid all suffering. Suffering is bad, or so they say. Yet suffering makes us who we are. For Christians, suffering transforms us into the perfect image of God that we were always meant to be. No, the words that could tell you why we suffer will not come from me, because I do not know the answer to that question in words. I know it in suffering alone, and in feeling the grief that suffering leaves behind, and in leaving that grief behind as I move on to run the race that God prepared me to run.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Tell Stories, It's What I Do

My philosophy professor in college was a really amazing fellow. He used the Socratic method, perhaps better than anyone but Socrates possibly could. I, however, have a difficult time with the Socratic method when it comes to something as impractical as philosophy. Political philosophy makes sense, it has an application. Philosophy itself is a bit too high minded, even for me. And believe me, I keep my head pretty far up in those clouds. I digress. He was an amazing fellow. The good doctor, was never stressed or nervous about anything. He took in stride students shouting at him, challenging his intellect and authority, being generally rude and (I know this one from experience) crying in his office over a test score. Yes, he was and is an amazing fellow. The most amazing thing he ever said, however, did not resemble the statement that "life is like an effervescent bubble floating on the scum of the Detroit river." Nor was it about Descartes or the utilitarians. The most amazing thing he said was this -- and I paraphrase, "When all is said and done philosophy is meaningless. Instead of talking about this stuff, we should be happy and tell stories."

Naturally, that occurred on the last day of class and put me in a fabulous mood for the next five years to the rest of my life. Telling stories, is what I do! In fact, if you ever meet me, you will probably be overwhelmed by the sheer number of stories I tell. That is how I relate to people, that is how I function. I tell stories to make people laugh, I tell stories to emphasize a point. I tell stories because they make me think. I just tell stories.

A good story can have an astounding effect on people. First and foremost, it can make them laugh if it's funny or cry if it's sad. But a more profound story can bring out the truths of things in a startling way. For example, there is the story or parable of the cave from Plato's Republic. I often go over that one in my mind and consider its implications. Funny that it takes a story to explain how important stories are. For example, in Dosteovsky's The Brother's Karamazov, Alyosha gives a speech at the end about the importance of memories. What is a memory but a story that we keep inside ourselves for the rest of our lives? Note, that Alyosha himself, was changed forever by the short memory of his mother interceding for him in prayer when he was a tiny child. In his speech, he speaks of how we can all become evil people, but the memory of when were good (in this case, mourning the death of a child who never harmed anyone) may someday cause us to become good again. This sounds simplistic: that a memory can cause one to turn one's life around? I agree, but I also believe that it can be used by God to change a person's life.

Stories existed before philosophy, logic or working eight hours a day in a stuffy office. And that is why I tell stories.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I Stopped Watching The News

Recently, I started working out again. This is a good thing because I am always a happier, more well-balanced person when I work out. Furthermore, there's a tv in the weightroom, so I can watch re-runs of Star Trek and Seinfeld (my two favorite tv shows other than American Idol). When I went to the weightroom yesterday, someone had preempted me. She was there, walking on my favorite treadmill. The tv was on and she was watching CNN. Needless to say my light workout was depressing and boring. It has been ages since I took the time to watch the news. In fact, I can honestly say that I watch the news only when I am on a trip away from home and in an airport. At all other times I read the news online.

Today I came across an article that made me remember why I started the practice of reading the news online. Or at least part of the reason. It's the photos. Ever since I was a kid I have not enjoyed watching graphic violence or seeing images of death and destruction. Occasionally, these photos can serve as a grim reminder of the darkness in the world. I would not want to ignore them. Nor would I want to fill my head with them. I prefer movies where the main violence is politely off camera. If it's not, I likely will not watch the movie more than once every 2 or 3 years. I probably will not ever watch The Passion of The Christ again. With news, I can remember a time when the broadcasters warned us that they were going to show pictures displaying the remains of extreme violence. They let people know to get their kids out of the room. Not so any longer. By reading the news, I avoid the disturbing photo and video footage. I can skip some descriptions if I want. Honestly, I think the more these pictures and descriptions have been shown the more I have learned to shy away from them. If it was only once in a while I would not care. But it's as if news organizations feel like they're not getting the basic idea of death and destruction through to us. Instead they have to turn us into manic depressives.

My other reason for reading the news it that I can be more analytical while reading and I get a broader story with more depth. The television gives soundbytes and never tells the entire story. By reading many different articles on a subject I find I can learn more of what happened and construct my own opinion from hearing more than one take. Besides that, reading improves the mind. If you read good journalists you might even learn a new word or two.

When you're tired of watching people cry and die, there's just no better way than reading.


In contemplating the whole Mel Gibson drives drunk and says bad things about Jews event I have formed a conclusion.

I already thought the media had some generally anti-Semitic sentiments. The whole discussion of Israel's recent "disproportionate" response to the terrorist group that consistently kills Israeli civilians tipped me off. Not only is it completely illogical to have a proportionate war, it is completely wrong to report civilian casualties on one side and act like they do not exist on the other, or downplay them to a great degree. Not to mention the fact that Hezbollah often fires rockets from places near hospitals and schools to draw a response that will kill Lebanese civilians.

Anyway, now the media has found a way to draw attention from their own anti-Semitism -- Mel. Thanks for taking the flak Mr. Gibson, thanks for driving drunk and talking stupid. You're a great distraction. Keep it up now, keep talking. As long as they can tear you apart they make it look like they're okay and can go on reporting things the way they always do.

I'm so disillusioned . . .

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ah, Logic #2

Cal Thomas has some interesting things to say about personal responsibility and the things that do matter.

Ah, Logic

VDH makes too much sense to pass up reading his stuff.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Exception That Proves The Rule

Read the previous post. Then read this. There is always an exception. This time it's Jimmy Carter.

People Are Not Stupid

I honestly believe that statement. People are, however, completely illogical for the most part. The two attributes can be mutually exclusive. Stupidity is when you do not learn from your mistakes. Being illogical is when you ignore what you learned from your mistakes. Several case studies can easily confirm these definitions.

A. The Dark Knight Returns and Meets The Gay Cowboy: Currently it is rumored that Heath Ledger will play the Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins. Today I found out that it's not just a rumor, the guy's been cast (if I'm wrong, I'll be the happiest person in the world). Gag me with a spoon. I thought they'd find someone with the talent to play more than one personality to portray the Joker! If you remember the downward spiral of the first Batman franchise then you will remember how terrible the picks for badguys were after the first one. Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face? Help. Then we had Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. Oh please, does it get any worse? I like these actors, but they are not Batman super villain quality, especially for the parts they gave them. Portraying every Batman villain as a neurotic psychopath is wrong. The Penguin is supposed to be suave and debonaire, a gentleman, a mob boss who receives the stolen goods and resells them, but does not commit the crimes himself (most of the time). He is most definitely not a grotesque, deformed cross between the Joker and the Elephant Man. Mr. Freeze is a manic depressive with a few good one liners. Not a hyperactive freak with a lot of stupid one liners. Thus, the mistake to cast and portray these villains was once made. The mistake was realized and rectified in casting for Batman Begins. However, apparently they did not actually learn from the mistake because they have now cast a one trick pony to play the greatest of all Batman villains.

B. Radiation Causes People To Die: I do not understand how a story could get away with the tired old ploy of people getting messed up by radiation and acquiring superhuman abilities. My co-worker mentioned the movie The Hills Have Eyes, so I looked it up. No, I did not watch it and I do not plan to. I just wanted to see the basic premise. I always thought that the draw in a horror film was the "it could happen to you" factor. Based on this movie's premise I can already say that it could not possibly happen to anyone. There are several reasons for that. First, radiation kills people, it doesn't make them creepy and mutated. At least, not in the way this movie portrays them. Second, any people left would be unable to breed. Duh, that's why they always ask me if I'm pregnant when I have X-rays done. Third, well, why can't we stop using radiation as a cop out for actual research? Fourth, the government does not detonate nuclear weapons in populated areas even if the people refuse to leave (they'd get sued). And lastly, the movie that this is a remake of tanked. Hint, hint, the story is not at all an award winning idea. This is a case of illogic because we have obviously learned a few things about radiation and it has been portrayed in many movies. We're not turning out those weird nuclear scare movies as much and when we do turn them out, they never do well. Still, someone chose to ignore the lessons of those mistakes and make this one.

Now, illogic occurs on an everyday level as well. For example, in my town they do not trim the trees at the side of the roads. Naturally, the trees obscure important things like stop signs. People know this happens. Yet they insist on paying very little attention to where they are going and what's going on around them. To me the obvious response to the tree dilemma is to look carefully when approaching an intersection, especially if there are trees involved. Most people, however, do not bother to look at all. Consequently, they run a lot of stop signs and get into accidents. Or they don't get into accidents, but almost do. Instead of changing their behavior, they go right back to driving around paying no attention to what's around them.

I always liked the Star Trek characters Spock from the Original Series and Data from the Next Generation because they are logical. Spock has a way of putting things that just makes you think. Of course, you end up thinking things like, "No, duh!" But that's still important. In Reunification Part II at the beginning of Season 5 of the Next Generation Spock is absolutely brilliant. No one had to tell him what was going on, he just knew. It's purely logical. He puts everything in such clear cut language that you do not understand why you did not think of it first. Or perhaps you did think of it, and that's why you love to hear him say it. I am convinced that people can be more logical then they pretend. It would help if they learned critical thinking skills in school instead of learning how to regurgitate information. I maintain that all the information in the world will do you no good when you get into a car accident because you did not notice that stupid tree hanging in front of that stop sign. Pause and determine cause and effect, it's really not that hard, it just takes a little logic.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bush Is God

He can start hurricanes and direct whom they will punish. He can destroy the environment and cause global warming. He can direct the whims of leaders worldwide. He can orchestrate World War III and decide who wins or loses. He can singlehandedly destroy the advances of science . . . or so they say. Here's some thoughts on that.

P.S. Sources (=Bush haters/media/people) also say that Bush is an idiot. Can I just say that I'm confused.

What's Up With That?!

After reading a gazillion reviews, I thought it would be fun to go see M. Night Shyamalan's new movie, Lady in the Water. I knew what to expect, after all. Craig surprised me by taking me to the movie. Of course, by the time we were halfway to the theatre I knew what we were doing. It was a nice surprise, however.

I went to the movie expecting to be disappointed and I certainly was. I had hoped that it would have some camp value, but it failed even in that area. I can think of 5 ways that Shyamalan could have made this movie work. Unfortunately for him and Warner Brothers, he could not think of them.

1. A decent script. With actors like those, you cannot go wrong with a good script. The worst actor in the movie was Shyamalan. Everyone else was great. So I ask you, why the sucky lines?

2. Logic. It's a wonderful thing, logic. I wish more people including Mr. Shyamalan would learn to use it. I have many questions about the movie. For example, why is the sea nymph named Story? Why is she called a Narf of all things? Why is the wolf with grass supposed to be so scary? It's a freaking wolf with grass on it? And why is it called a Scrunt? Why does it have to inject Story with poison? Why can't it just eat her? Why can't Story talk about herself or the Blue World? Why can't she just call it the ocean? Why does the Scrunt want to kill her at all? Why can't they just drive her to the ocean? Why does a giant eagle have to carry her? This could go on forever . . .

3. He should not have cast himself as the writer whose book would save the world. For one thing, he's a skinny, weird looking fellow and slightly wooden when he's acting. For another, that's just the most arrogant thing I've ever seen in a movie! Also, Shyamalan's not the best writer, as evidenced by this movie's dialogue. He set himself up to look bad by casting himself like that.

4. The film critic as a jerk who gets mauled by the Scrunt was probably not a good idea. I mean, I know Shyamalan dislikes movie critics, but constructing that character for the worst movie he ever made may not have been the best PR for future work.

5. The characters should not have believed so implicitly in an alternative universe that made no sense. Some surprise or shock would have made that alternative universe a lot more believable.

Postitive thoughts: I am glad I went to see the movie. It gave me a good feeling, despite the let down it was made to be. I realized that Shyamalan has more guts than a pile of entrails. He made that story into a movie! The man is fearless. He wrote something that he liked and made it into mass media because he wanted to. I only hope I can be as fearless when I start trying to get published. The man earned my undying respect for Lady in the Water. I think I'll go see his next movie, if he makes one. The sheer audacity and idiocy that it took to make that story and script into a movie will never cease to amaze me. There was something charming and fairy tale like about the movie. I desperately wanted it to be a good movie because the idea was so different. I enjoyed it for that element as well. Oh, and the twist ending is that there is no twist ending.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"To Arms, To Arms! To The Bridge!"

Or something like that. As a kid I had a record of the Disney version of The Hobbit which I listened to almost every day. I remember that when Smog attacks the Lakemen's village under the Lonely Mountain, they shout a line similar to my title. All of this, naturally, caused me to grow up and become a scary war hawk . . . er, not. The problems in the world today reminded me of Smog, actually.

Let's say that Smog the dragon is representative of war. This is only for analysis sake, it is not my belief that Tolkien made this anology in his book, himself. Smog mostly hid up in his cave and took things from people. Which is how wars are these days. They are not overblown, they stay in one place mainly and devestate a few people of the area. We call them "conflicts," and attempt to have "ceasefires." A ceasefire to Smog would probably include giving him some more gold and he'd hold still for a few months or something. Perhaps his state of existence was a ceasefire. However, someone does something to provoke Smog. Bilbo steals a cup. Just as something has been done to provoke real war in our day and age. You can call the provocation what you like. I prefer to think of it as the continuing attacks on freedom and Western culture beginning with 9/11 and even before that. What does Smog (i.e. war, not terrorists, don't get confused, peoples) do when provoked? He barrels out of his cave in the mountain and attacks the nearest people, who, oddly enough, were not the ones who bothered his semi-sleeping state. Think of that as the fact that war affects the people who wanted peace the most. That would be us Westerners, we like peace and ceasefires. We even pretend they're the same thing sometimes.

What do the people do to defend themselves from Smog? Well, they hide in their houses and talk about peace, civilian casualties and ceasefires until they're all burnt to little crisps. No, they fight that war until they win the immediate battle. Then, when the war gets bigger and starts to encompass more people, they ally with others and fight against the enemy of freedom and justice.

Am I suggesting we charge into the Middle East and make this war bigger? Well, in a round about way, I am. However, I hope that this time we will pause to bring our allies back together or allow them to realize the consequences of avoiding the fight. The enemies of freedom cannot be bought off or appeased. They must be fought. I certainly hope it will not take the loss of millions for the world to realize who those enemies actually are. Radical Islamofascism is growing at a frightening pace, terrorist organizations gain people by the day. They are not losing their strength. They do not have to declare their weaponry. We cannot hide from this war, or think that a mere ceasefire will end it. It must be faced and fought.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Someday I'll Write A Good Post Again

. . .I promise. Not today, however.

Here I am, it's the end of a rather disappointing week and I am ready to move on to the weekend. This week I have wanted to eat chocolate on a daily basis (somewhat aggravated by the fact that I watched the movie Choculat for the first time ever). I have wanted to eat really good cheese again. I have not slept well. My coffee addiction has grown worse. Nobody has returned paperwork to me in a timely manner. I have been generally fatigued and annoyed. I have come to the realization that I have no close friends in this town other than my husband (not to demean his role or anything, he's a wonderful man). I have just wanted to go to Hawaii all week long. People have been angry with me on several occasions due to their own unwillingness to see reason or attempt to understand what I tried to tell them.

In short, I had a crappy week.

What do I do when I have a crappy week? If you were expecting something inspring, then I'm sorry. I pretty much want to curl up and cry or something of that nature.

Okay, okay. I'll try to be inspiring. It's in my nature. When I have crappy weeks I tend to get very emotional whenever something good happens. For example, driving in this town is a mess and usually, if you let someone go in front of you they do not know what you are doing and just sit there, or they do something totally unexpected that could get them killed. I used to be a polite enough driver, but here, I am the biggest bum, annoying driver you can imagine. I paused on Monday to let someone out of a parking garage in a sticky area with some construction blocking most lanes. The person turned out and waved at me. That made me feel like a human being again. Today, one of the people who work here actually asked me if I needed her to do something to get an authorization. I cannot believe it! That made me feel wonderful. Someone was considerate and wanted to know if I needed help. Focusing on the little, good things often helps me see my day in a better light. You know, you have to push those big annoying things aside and try to see the world on a happier note. That does not always make things completely better, however.

Honestly, I think one of my biggest problems will always be that I take myself too seriously. No matter what I do, I eventually get more self centered than I ought to be. Another problem is that I like people so much. I'm not especially outgoing all the time, but I really just want people to be happy and I want to join in the fun. Having so few friends around puts a damper on that ambition. I also like to have my alone time, and this weekend I really want to stay home and write a lot.

The fact is, however, that I have a hard time remembering that God is providing for and caring for me. When something small and good happens I take it as a reminder that God is good and He is looking out for me. That, in effect, helps me to have a better day than I thought it would be -- a genuine thankfulness for the good details that point to the big picture.

Monday, July 17, 2006

All Lies

This is an interesting article on stem cell research. The author makes the distinction between embryonic stem cell research and stem cell research. He also has some interesting things to say on the timeline of when stem cell research might have results. People always think we're only a few weeks away from a cure for every terrible disease out there. But they're wrong.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Case In Point: A Rant, Part 2

Disclaimer: See post below for details. Please remember that I strongly believe that all humans are created equal (but have differences). The purpose of my post is to express my dissatisfaction with the messages of modern feminism. I believe it hurts women just as much as it hurts men, even if this deals mainly with the guy's side of the issue.

I found this article on MSN today and noticed how much it proved several of my points from the previous post. The article concerns the disconnect in a marriage that occurred after the birth of the first child. It gives the wife's perspective, the husband's perspective and then the therapist's perspective and suggested methods to deal with the problems in order for the couple to have a happy marriage. The interesting thing about this article is that it details the wife's perspective as more legitimate from the start and attempts to cut down on anything negative that she might add to the relationship difficulties. The man's perspective is overruled and he is asked to change far more than his wife. For clarity's sake I'll address each perspective in turn and then discuss the therapist's recommendations.

First off, the wife points out that she quit her job to stay at home as if it were some enormous sacrifice. But she never addresses the fact that her husband probably works extra long hours and is tired a lot himself, in order to keep food on the table. She does not "have the energy to cook," so she spends too much money. Now, I know watching one kid is difficult, but I have watched 5, 6, or 7 on a daily basis before (babysat for large families), been tired all the time and still managed to cook a meal for those kids. It's not impossible. I find it interesting she justifies the fact that she knows best about raising the kid. She also justifies nitpicking her husband about when he changes the child's diapers and everything else he does. There is very little willingness to change her behavior in order to improve the relationship. Then there is the part about the husband and wife having a nonexistent sex life. As a red blooded, American woman, I'd just like to say, huh? I understand that things change when you have kids, but if you don't make the time to be intimate with your spouse then your marriage is going to fall apart, most likely (sex isn't everything, but it's important). Which, as we see, is what could have happened here. Naturally, the woman gets off because she was tired or "not in the mood." She fails to mention that her husband might be tired of going to work every day and coming home to take out dinners. Yet he still wants to be intimate. Okay, enough said about that part. On the other hand, her fear at her husband's one violent moment is legitimate and I agree that he should not have yelled at her so much. That's not good for anyone. (For my next post, I'll discuss Intermittent Explosive Disorder.) Then there's her mother. Obviously, the mom is a destructive influence, but she wants to "keep her in the loop," rather than limit contact which might help their marriage.

On the husband's perspective, his first sentence is an apology. He sems a bit more reasonable in general. He addresses the spending problem. It's a tough financial position to be in. I've experienced tough times when it comes to money, I know how to spend less. What's difficult about buying what you need instead of everything you want? I like the fact that the husband gives more thought to the family in general. He is not as me-centered as his wife. Also, he points out why he wants contact with his mother-in-law limited -- the mom is upsetting his wife. What's wrong with a guy wanting to defend his wife? The nagging comes in once again, only here the husband wonders why his wife demands that he do things as she would do them. I agree. If the job gets done in a relatively short time without hurting anyone or leaving a big mess then who cares how it was done? Of course, there's the intimacy issue as well. He points out that his wife's refusal to bed him makes him feel undesirable. Hmm, that seems like a natural reaction to me. Let me put it this way, say you're a married woman and your husband doesn't want to sleep with you? Heh heh. I know what you thought: "Like that would ever happen? The guy isn't going to say no." Yes, exactly. But that's not the point, the point is, it would be natural to feel undesirable. However, women always feel undesirable for a selfish reason. We feel fat or unattractive, something like that. A guy can persuade as much as he likes, but if the girl feels fat, than dangit, she's not gonna shut up about it. Anyways, rabbit trail. The husband ends by saying he wants his son to grow up in a good, two-parent home. This is contrary to his wife's ending point about wanting to be close to her husband again. Both are legitimate perspectives under the circumstances, but the guy wins out on selflessness once again. He states that he will do what it takes to make that work, his wife said nothing about that and her side of the story proves that she places more importance on her own side of the story.

Now, for the therapist (whom I think is a bit of an idiot). Notice that almost every behavior change required is of the husband? Once again, society has upheld the moral standard that the woman is always right. I applaud the writer of this article and I wonder if this was unconsciously done. What if, this feminism thing has been so engrained into our thinking that we automatically give more validation to a woman's feelings in a matter? I made a surpising implication in that last question -- men have feelings. Yes, they do.

On further analysis of the therapist's recommendations I am reminded of a quotation of my dear friend I.: "Why is it so difficult to apply Occam's razor to human behavior?" The therapist goes on about the married couples' respective mothers, in classic form! It's amazing. My first reaction to the whole thing was that the two needed to talk. The wife needed to see her husband's point of view, and the husband needed to tone it down a bit and try to explain things without getting angry. Why is the husband acting this way? Because he's a married man who hasn't had sex in months. Gee, that could do a lot to a fella. The official reaction to that statement was for you to get upset that I would suggest such a thing because his wife is exhausted. Okay, why is male sexuality such an evil thing? I know, there are psychopaths out there. But the majority of normal men just want to connect with their wives and make their wives happy. Sex is the best way of expressing that for a man. It is the husband, in this case, who must evaluate how he views the word "no," in regards to sex. He's not supposed to take it personal. How in the heck can he avoid taking that personal? Then there's the whole Daily Temperature Reading bit. That makes me laugh more than anything else. Imagine, calmly stating one's thoughts could get a good reaction? You know, frankly, it's us girls who have a more difficult time with that. We always think that guys should be able to read our minds or something. Ridiculous! Most of us can't even make up our minds, let alone be transparent enough to have our mind read! However, this may be the most unbiased part of the article. It implies that both husband and wife should adjust for one another.

Upon final examination, we see that the wife is only specifically expected to change one thing: her behavior toward her mother. It's always best to remember that nothing should ever be blamed on a woman. Remember that, it will get you far in life. It's funny how equality became favoritism and then an inalienable right to walk all over about 50% of the human race.