Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Muse, I Presume?

I actually sat down and wrote for a while yesterday. It was going well also. I'm so excited that I'm afraid my muse might get scared and run away again. I can't believe it. I was on a roll. It's been several weeks and I was starting to wonder if I would ever stop having writer's block. The editing has begun again in ernest. To those who are under the impression that they will get to read this novel during its second draft stage (I have probably indicated something to you about that) this is good and bad news. It is good because you might be interested in reading it. It is bad because I'm sure my book is crap and you won't like it.

So, now that I feel more motivated, I have tons of things to do. I have a book to review and comment on (to the author of such, you know who you are, I'm sorry to be taking so long on this). I have people to talk to. I have to mail a bunch of photos out for various reasons. I have tons and tons of work to do! Before I get overwhelmed and hide under my desk I should smile and try to feel positive about this fact. Yes, I have lots to do, but once it is done I will have less to do. Actually, that's not true, it never is. For anyone. Life always thinks up a few more things to do and you just gotta learn to accept that and be happy about it.

I learned a long time ago that it's no good fretting over annoying things I have to do. My old job stunk, frankly. I developed photos and talked to angry customers all the time. I hated it at first, but then I realized that it was my job and decided I was just going to enjoy it. After that it was a fun job. I found ways to make the job interesting and discovered that if I did my best I actually felt a mild amount of satisfaction. When people took their photos, saw how pretty they looked because I cared and went off happy to have received excellent service I felt pretty darn good. It's also always best to remember the good experiences from work. Try to forget the bad ones, or minimize them in your mind once you have drawn whatever lesson is to be drawn (sometimes the lesson is that people suck!).

Often a positive attitude is based around circumstances. I think that's the wrong way to look at things. You're never going to be positive if you base it on what's going on around you because something crappy happens every day. Instead, you have to decide to be happy no matter what happens and then actually do just that. It's no good deciding and not following through on the decision. Yes, I can gripe and grumble with the best of them. But deep down I always try to find the best side of a bad day. Like today, I am in some sort of trouble at work that I didn't know I was in, somebody at my work died this past weekend and everybody is sad, I have people I am a representative to in other businesses refusing to do what I want them to do, but dang it, I got to talk to my favorite insurance guy and that was great. Life is full of sad things and bad things. It's mostly a great dark cloud. Yet there are small bright points in it. And it's always best to savor the bright moments and see the rest of life in light of those times when everything is good.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just Couldn't Resist

All this discussion of Al Gore and his "new" persona has got me thinking. People seem to think he's different now than he was 6 years ago. I have little to say except for this: Al Gore is different now, he's Al Gore # 23 instead of Al Gore #22. Someone should write him a biography entitled
Al Gore: The Man Who Defied Redefinition 27 Times. Why is it that the press loves it so much when he takes it into his head to redo his personality again?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Not A Bum and Other Stories

It's time for a less serious post I think. A more me centered post. I'm an official employee at my workplace now. No more am I a temp. I'm not a bum anymore! Yay! That makes me happy. Not that I ever really was a bum. I figure that as long as you're at least looking for a job you are not a bum.

I dreamt last night that I was sculpting back at the 'Dale with my old sculpting teacher. He's an internationally renowned sculptor and an excellent teacher to have. I'm sad that I do not live close enough to take more classes from him, or be an apprentice sculptor. I really need to get back to doing that. I feel kind of listless and sad most of the time. I think part of the reason for that is having to wait to take sculpting again. I always got rid of a lot of stress in the sculpting studio. I could be in there for hours and hours just working slowly and I would forget the time and whatever was making me mad and everything. It got me away from reading, papers, studying and extra things I had to do and made me forget that those things were piling up. I just need to be able to do that.

Writing is nice but it doesn't help in the same way as sculpting. Writing is not as absorbing. And I just type. I like the feel of clay in my hands and, despite it's sulfurous qualities, I even like the smell of it.

I thought that I could go back and start sculpting during the second summer session. But I don't think I'll be a state resident until July and the session starts in June. That's probably a no-go. Maybe I can start with the fall semester. It seems so long to wait!

Monday, May 22, 2006

. . . And Then I Saw, And It All Became Too Clear

Why is it that same sex marriage is so important in the U.S.? Is it because a bunch of religious fanatics hate gay people? Is it because of the enlightenment brought on by the sexual revolution? Is it because denying this right is akin to the attitude of racists in the 1960s? Is it because a lot of people with outdated senses of morality have combined to oppress a lot of people with postmodern understandings of (i.e. no understanding) morality?

I would say no. I realized why the issue of same sex marriage is so important that those on each side of the issue are so adamant: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

For instance, the city council in my town passed a resolution that forbids any employer within city limits to discriminate against a potential employee based on sexual orientation. Great. This is a hippy town, who would do that anyway? I have an answer to that question. When a church hires a pastor, unless it is Anglican, they discriminate based on sexual orientation. Is it now illegal in my town for a church to say no to a youth minister or worship leader solely because their religious beliefs agree that homosexuality is immoral and it would be wrong to hire a leader who lead that kind of lifestyle? I would say it is. And if it is not, then it very soon will be. A lawsuit will come up, and knowing this town, it will favor the stiffed potential employee over the religious organization.

That is a small case scenario. Now, take this on the national scale. Also, take this with a little more depth. The city council's action on that resolution has an equal and opposite reaction as stated above. When (and I say when, because I do not believe this is a question of "if") same sex marriage is nationally legalized it will give out a right to homosexuals. In the process of so doing it will remove a right from religious organizations. By religious organizations I refer to any and all: Christians, Islamics, Mormons, Jewish, you name it. It will remove freedom of speech because any nonprofit religious organization that speaks against homosexuality will be in danger of losing its tax exempt status. Same sex marriage will become a matter of public policy instead of private opinion. This will affect more of your life than you realize. Take abortion, for example, after it's legalizations hospitals run by religious organizations were required to perform abortions. While religious exemptions can be acquired, many lawmakers are unwilling to give them. Back to the issue at hand, religious organizations that have orphanages and do adoptions will be required to violate the tenets of their faith or lose their licenses. It will probably become a rule not to even talk about this issue in workplaces. Religion and the state will butt heads on this issue over and over.

Basically, this entire issue becomes an entangled mess. It would always come down to an issue of what is to win: the free exercise of religion, or freedom from discrimination. The church or the state. This would be especially true if discrimination against people for sexual orientation became equated with racism. There are all kinds of ramifications. I have only given a couple examples above. You can sit for hours and think up others if you like. Or you can draw this to its logical conclusion, as I have.

Faith will not be persecuted in the classic sense. There will be no martyrs. But it will be persecuted. And the way I see it, if my ability to believe the moral facets of my faith are stripped away and I cannot even speak about them, then I may as well have died.

Friday, May 19, 2006

War # 3

I've found another interesting read on the War in Iraq. I'd sum it up by responding to those who refer to the Iraq War as "another Vietnam." I have this to say: Iraq could be another Vietnam, but only if we want that.

My general take on the war is that we're in it. We chose to get our hands messy. No good whining about it now. Which means, I basically support it, inasmuch as I am required to in order to be a good American citizen. My misgivings remain and always will, but that's because I still agree with George Washington's Farewell Address.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Matters Of Symantics--But More Importantly . . .

I have had many good ideas for posts in the past few days, and no ambition to write the posts. I may be up to it now, however. I'll give it a go.

Someone said something recently, that reminded me of the whole courtship v. dating phenomenon that has swept across the Christian and homeschooling communities for the past too-many-years. I realized that I've never addressed this issue on my blog.

So, raise your hand if someone you love made you read that book I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris? I raised mine. I'm probably one of the few who reads my blog who has read that book, however. And his other book also. Which is almost as bad as the first one. Oh my gosh, did I say that out loud? Yes, I did. I put the title of the book in to get more hyper Christians who are into the whole courting idea to come to my blog and read this post. Common search terms, don't you know. Let me move on to the real post.

Yes, I've read them all, every book on courtship that gets talked about incessently by mothers and nice little boys and girls who want to do the right thing with their lives. What I have to say is that these books present an unrealistic picture and often keep people from understanding the truth about committed relationships. They present two general ideas of what finding one's future spouse is going to be like.

Picture # 1) You're standing there and you see a member of the opposite sex walk towards you. Suddenly, a beam from heaven shines down upon the person and a voice says, "Marry this person." Then you float on clouds for the rest of your life with this other person and nothing bad ever happens to you.

Picture #2) You meet someone interesting and after five years the one of you who is male asks the one who is female's dad if he can court the other one. In another five years he asks the dad if he can marry the other one. Dad says yes, or no, courtship or engagement continue or ensue. Eventually dad says yes . . . clouds.

In the first instance, things don't work like that, and in the second instance, things don't work like that. There is one thing of which I am sure. The way you expect to meet your future spouse will not be the way you meet him or her. That, however, is not important. The important thing is that people focus on what's not important: how they will meet their future spouse, how they will know he or she is the right one, how the clouds will look, what the rules of reaching marriage are, and ad nauseum. Life doesn't follow a bunch of rules. There is no formula for how things work. That's what people forget when they define these issues down into lists of what to do and what not to do. There are only two rules: 1) nothing happens the way you expect it to and 2) relationships take work. The latter is the most important.

People disagree with each other. Even people who are madly in love disagree with each other. This leads to arguments and arguments to division. Ignoring disagreements is a one way ticket to some sort of separation (emotional or physical). Disagreements, in a committed relationship, must be discussed or something bad will happen. The idea that clouds await you in the future is ridiculous. But if you want to believe that then consider clouds, they're made of water vapor and you cannot stand on them. Just so, you cannot stand on a relationship that denies the need to work, cooperate, discuss, question and generally pay attention to important matters. The idea that if you do things a certain way nothing bad will happen is absurd because you do not know what things will come up. What if you end up dating (excuse me, courting) someone who does not want to refer to it as "courting." Are you gonna refuse to go out with the person even if you think they're right for you?

Some people might think I'm being stupd with all this talk of clouds. But the truth is, I'm not. I've talked to people who are into courtship and I've read the books. They are completely unrealistic. I can remember being told that if you go through courtship it is impossible for you to end up with a broken heart. Hello, the only difference between dating and courtship is the name. One can have a difficult breakup in either, especially if one fails to work at the relationship. Sadly, many fans of courtship also believe that every person should marry his or her first girlfriend or boyfriend. That doesn't often happen. I'm sure the belief has pushed a lot of people into unhappy situations. Even if a breakup does occur, it can be just as painful, if not more so because the expectations on someone in a relationship referred to by all and sundry as "courting" are higher and often unrealistic. I'm not saying to date around because it's fun or indiscriminately break other people's hearts. Only don't place unrealistic expections on a relationship because you call it by an outdated, old fashioned name. Remember, that it is rare that anyone marries the first person they go out with, extremely rare.

Then there is the matter of overthinking. Courtship tends to be an overthought system that analyzes everything down to the bones. It says that you have to wait until you are ready to be married before you can even consider being around someone you might want to date. It leaves out the ability to learn and grow together through a long term dating relationship. Often, people obsessed with courtship time it out and think that a courtship should only take 1 or 2 years. I don't know why it's supposed to be so short, but it is! They also think you should get married really young, for whatever reason. Most people look at things very differently once they pass the age of 20 then they did as an 18 year old. You might choose someone on a whole new set of standards than you would have before. Furthermore, why all the conversations about whether or not you are spiritually ready? Why all the endless discussions about the deceptiveness of one's heart? Boys like girls, girls like boys (for the most part). What's wrong with a simpler idea where a person meets someone that he or she is attracted to in more than one way (i.e. personality and cuteness) and they go out! Why make such a mess of this? The overanalysis tends to make people refuse to go out with someone they like and start a "not dating" relationship (similar to being "not pregnant"). People second guess everything they do and become unhappy because they always believe they are doing the wrong thing, or they're not ready for a relationship, or they want to do something different. It continues in an endless cycle of pathetic emotions that lead nowhere.

In essence, rules and doctrines have only taken what used to be a fairly understandable concept and turned it into thousands of pages of crap and thousands of confused minds. Just remember, whether you call it courtship or dating, try to be realistic, relationships take work no matter what.

Worth The Read

I found this post on my friend's blog to be very informative and inspirational. It's a good way of looking at this whole Da Vinci Code/ Book of Judas stuff that's become such an issue recently.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More On The War

While I'm not a neo con, it still annoys me that people are so jumpy about the War on Terror/in Iraq. I just think, that we need to calm down and remember that stuff like this takes time. Hence, I am going to post a link to an article I read on the subject. Remember your history. Or learn it if you haven't already.

Edit: If you want to talk about oil, here's something else to read.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Gentle Reminder

I think this is a funny article and a gentle reminder to us all to remember to be courteous to our fellow human beings. It tries to discuss rights, but it's content concerns common courtesy and nothing else.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Resolved That Third Party Payors Should Be Abolished

I spend way too much time on the phone with insurance people, hence I have decided that if I were not such a nice person, I would do something very irritable to insurance companies.

Yesterday, I spent over an hour trying to talk to this guy and talking to him. He then proceeded to get all uppity and annoying and said he didn't think he should do what I wanted him to do. I just want the insurance company to pay for some health care for one of their patrons. I mean, hello, did this person not pay into the company for years and years? What's so bad about them using some of those benefits? Isn't that what insurance companies are for? Spending money?

Whoever came up with our third party payor system ought to be tarred, feathered and then forced to find an insurance company that will pay for medical attention to whatever burns they acquired in the tarring.

I know what you're thinking, well, if only the government paid for all our health care like in other countries . . . NO! That's another accursed third party payor system. Furthermore, I work with Medicaid and Medicare on a daily basis and I know for a fact that they are more difficult to deal with than most other insurance companies because they are totally incompetetent. The government overcomplicates these things. Take Medicare Part D for example. It sounds simple enough, Medicare will now pay for prescription drugs. But, wait. Medicare is a Federal and state plan. The Feds give some money, the states give some. In order to come up with a coverage plan for prescription drugs each state contracted with a variety of insurance companies. In Indiana, there are 20 different companies/plans. Each one of those 20 has three or 4 different subplans. Each one of those subplans has a different list of what drugs they will cover. We end up with over 80 different lists of drugs and you get to decide which one you want as your plan. What's more, each one of those lists could be 80 to 100 pages long! Now, tell me that having the government involved in health care is a good idea? I have spent hours and hours making a database of drugs that would only be prescribed in a mental health clinic. I have entered 3 lists total out of the 80 that need to be entered, and I'm damn fast at data entry. Moreover, those lists are going to change every 6 months.

Another major problem of the third party payor system is that instead of health professionals who know the patient or the patient making the decision, we have little insulated people in cubicles, sometimes half a world away, making the decision as to whether that patient needs treatment. How the hell are these people supposed to know if you or I need medical attention? They've never even met us, what's more, they can listen to all the clinical information on the problem and then refuse to write it down and say that they do not think that sounds like a problem. I'm always tempted to go off on these people. They are so outrageously arrogant and they disgust me. It disgusts me that I as a patient cannot decide if I need treatment. I have to wait for the insurance company to say they will pay for it, or suffer the monolithic consequences. It disgusts me that insurance people act like they're in charge all the time. One insurance person once got angry at me because I asked for the last of a person's benefits. "What are you gonna do when the insurance won't pay anymore? Kick him out on the streets?" she demanded. Hell, I don't know, I'll probably come up with an easier way for the guy to pay for his treatment. This woman, on the other hand represented an insurance company that won't pay for his benefits anymore! How did I become the badguy? It's so complicated and so stupid, it just makes me angry.

This is why I propose a solution. Abolish all insurance companies, including Medicaid and Medicare, and start over with health care being in a market system like everything else.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Houston, I Have A Problem

I'm even going so far as to admit. I need a plan. I cannot stand having no plan. This new story idea, which is totally unplanned, is a lot of fun. However, I catch myself every hour or so trying to construct a plan for my new story. I cannot abide having something in my life that is completely unplanned.

For instance, I would like to go visit people back in the 'Dale. I thought graduation would be a good time to do that, however, my friend who thought she was going to be there decided she cannot make it so I'd rather not drive all that way. Anyways, what was my response to this issue? I automatically came up with another plan to go visit people and even had it timed out within 30 seconds of deciding not to go to graduation.

My plans are not just any old thing either. They're detailed and they're usually arranged in steps. I think it's just my personality combined with some mild obsessive compulsive tendencies. But every once in a while it would be nice to relax without any forethought as to what I am doing next. Writing a story with no expectations is fun, but difficult for me. Perhaps I should take this as a lesson and refuse to allow myself the luxury of planning.

You know what would be really funny? If, after all this effort, the story which I have not thought out ahead of time turned out better than the one I wrote with an elaborate plan in mind. Yeah, that would be funny.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Said I'd Do This, So I'd Better

I've been tagged by Little Cicero. This is what I have to do: List three nice things about a leading political figure in the party that you disagree with.

It took me several days to come up with the name of a "leading political figure" in the Democratic party for whom I have some respect. I'm sorry, I just can't compliment someone I don't respect at all. So, here goes:

1. Joseph Lieberman upholds his understanding of moral values. 2. Joseph Lieberman has well worded, thought out arguments for his ideas. 3. Joseph Lieberman's wife has a good name (Hadassah is Esther in Hebrew).

I also thought I'd be extra magnanimous and compliment John Edwards as well:

1. John Edwards has a lot of hair for a guy his age. 2. John Edwards does a spectacular make-up job on his face (better than any teenage girl). 3. John Edwards sure sounds good when he's talking. ;oP

Don't take me off your blogroll for that one LC, it's just a joke.

I can't tag three people to do this because I don't tag people. But if you want to write something like that up and put it on your blog then go right ahead!

Monday, May 01, 2006

My Muse Just Wants To Have Fun

My muse came back. But it won't concentrate on my NaNo novel. You know, the one I want to get published. Nope, my muse leaves every time I look at that book. Instead, I've started a random book project that will probably end up being a novella of sorts. I guess my muse just needs a break from the difficult stuff. Of course, it had a break while my computer was waiting to get fixed those two times that it threw fits.

This new book idea that just popped into my head isn't so bad, however. It could end up being rather fun when it's all finished. It's kind of an experiment based on something that Steven King wrote in his book On Writing. He suggested taking a few unrelated events or ideas and working them together to make a story. Then write the story, no matter how bad the idea and see what comes of it. So, that's what I'm doing. Here are the unrelated ideas:

1) I've always wanted to have the protagonist in one of my books be a heroine instead of a hero, I tend to come up with a lot of stories about males, I don't know why. 2) I re-watched the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Q loses all his powers, recently. 3) I've wanted to write a story where the main character deals with life in a more realistic way instead of it being a fantasy story, but everything I write has an element of the fantastical. I also have wanted to write something without a political vein in it and this time I may have succeeded in finding such a story. 4) My memory was jogged about that book The Boggart by Susan Cooper recently.

What does all this make? Hmm, perhaps it's my Mouse Soup of stories, but it's fun for right now. I intend to place no expectations on this story idea and see what comes of it. After that, I hope my muse is up to the more important work again.