Saturday, December 31, 2016

I Win!!!!

So.  This is it. 

Post number 1300.  A challenge made, a challenge met.  On fire in October, shocked to near silence in November, rededicated in December.  Forty posts in 31 days needed to get me to the finish line--more than I had posted in the entire year two years ago.  

Nearly ran out of steam halfway through the month, but powered by a good old Facebook meme, here I am face to face with victory.  Way to prop up a dead social media connection with one that is only just turning the corner toward that same fate.

For this final post of the challenge, I'm going to go back to a thing I did for several years awhile back, but haven't done since 2012.  My New Years Eve entry will be a retrospective of the year in blog, through the first sentence of the first entry of each month.  (With  a bit of parenthetical commentary.)

Let's have at it:

January:  "Five days into a new year.  Already."  (Well.  Let's not get too excited about it...)

February:   "I have been thinking about all this hyper-hoopla surrounding the 2016 presidential race...particularly about those lining up behind Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump—the darlings of the far-left and the far-right."  (Oh, gawd...I can't even go there right now...)

March:  "I  googled 'negative campaigning,' with an eye toward determining exactly when this became de rigueur  in the American political process."  (Already worn down by the shit-flinging, and still eight months until the general election.)

April:  " In recent years, aided by social media, the term "introvert" has become a label...some kind of cross between a psychiatric diagnosis and a badge of honor." (A wistful post, remembering a best friend who faded out of my life.)

May:  "My  'job' –that little business to which I have clung for fourteen years, now—enhances the tone of opposition my life has always had, by choice or by chance."  (Pep-talk for heading into the market season.)

June:  My only post of that month was a meme I created.  Speaks for itself, really..


July:  "I have a thorny problem with the “resident” sister." (Taking a moment to whine about my crazy sibling.)

August:    "Thirteen years ago, I discovered a place where I could indulge my compulsion to spatter words on blank pages--the internet."  (This is actually the post where I decided to turn my back on the political fray...for about two minutes, anyway.)

September:  "Don't you just want to put on a pith helmet and dark glasses every time you go on the internet?  Or maybe a hazmat suit..."  (More commentary on the ever-increasing ugliness of the presidential campaign.)

October:  "Sitting on my “coffee deck” in the morning has become joyous and active again." (I love October!)

November:  "To all the great players who never played a world series game, who never even got close, and all the fans, young and old, for whom hope has sprung eternal..."  (CUBS WIN!!!  But the end of the world was indeed coming shortly...)

December:  " I wake up every morning, newly unbelieving of the results of last month's presidential election. "  (Well, isn't that stating the glaringly obvious...!)

There you go.  That's it.  Goodbye 2016. 

And goodbye "Coming to Terms"?

Nah.  I don't think so.

Not just yet, anyway. 

Apparently I still have things to say. 

Happy New Year, my invisible friends.  It's going to be a challenge.

Hey--a challenge!  I can do that!


Friday, December 30, 2016

Opinions #10: Don't Underestimate Mother Earth

I suppose this could be breaking the rules, because climate "science" has become a political football.  But I don't believe Mother Earth trucks much with human politics.  She is strong, and steadfast, and powerful far beyond our poor comprehension of power.   

We want to think we know about the Earth and how it came about and what has been going on with it since its creation.  Seriously?  If the earth were a year old, human beings would have showed up in the last half hour before midnight on New Year's Eve.  And yet, we know everything there is to know about the 364 days, 23 3/4 hours of Earth's science before we came along?  I don't think so.

In our short, fifteen-minute history of human civilization, our curiosity has grown and we've learned a lot.  And, no doubt, some of it is good information.  We can be very thorough and studious when we try.  Tenacious, even.  Driven.  We want to know.  And we're going to find out. 

We want to know so badly that even if we don't have all the information, we demand that we do.  And then we set it up so no one can argue with us.  Flat earth.  Around which the sun, moon, and all the heavenly bodies revolve.  Torture, persecution, hellfire and damnation to anyone who didn't line up behind the written in stone incontrovertible facts.  Until...they weren't.

So now, with this illustrious history of accurate, spot on science bolstering our declarations, we've concluded that the Earth is dying, and man is responsible for killing it.  I'm sorry.  I just think that's a bit of a stretch.

What I can't get on board with is the shrillness.  The hyperbole.  Neither the deniers nor the know-it-all doomsayers are in any position to make the kinds of proclamations they do.  And the energy that could and should be spent on the research to get closer to what the answer actually is, is being squandered on the constant soapbox grandstanding on both sides of the issue. 

It's not that I'm a climate change denier.  I'm fully aware that there is damage, terrible damage, caused by human industry, run by powerful men without soul or conscience.  Men who consider the forfeited lives of other human beings acceptable collateral damage to their accumulation of wealth; if they have no empathy for their own kind, they certainly can have no consideration for the life of the Earth herself.

But it seems to me that only humans would be ballsy enough to claim that we possess the power to do real damage to our celestial home.  We honestly buy we have the capacity to end the Earth, yet we are swept before her power like dust in the wind.   There's just...a disconnect there, for me.  I'm not saying that we aren't doing damage to our beautiful mother...I'm saying I believe she has a capacity to right and heal herself that we have not even considered.  The argument is everything.  One side denies science altogether if it suggests a frightening scenario we choose not to concern ourselves with, and  the other side points science only in the direction of a point it's trying to make.  We postulate with an agenda in mind.  Anything that doesn't further that agenda falls away, unobserved. And the character of the Earth herself is completely peripheral to our argument. 

I'm no scientist...but I am an observer.  I've been wandering around this planet for sixty years, and I do a pretty decent job of paying attention to what's going on. And what I see is the Earth healing herself in small and large ways.  Storms come, volcanoes roar, rains batter, and land turns from sea to desert to sea again.  Animals from whom we believed we had won territory, vanquished them from "our" lands, never to return, are coming back.  Predators roam suburban streets.  Game birds adapt to our artificial waterways and thrive. Soon, perhaps the sky will darken once again with great flocks of "Columbidae", as the European collared dove becomes fruitful and multiplies in this perfect habitat left ripe for the settling by man's slaughter of American passenger pigeons 100 years ago.  We damage and rearrange, and the Earth counters.

And, who knows...maybe her ultimate act of healing herself will involve removing from her surface the pestilence that is the human race.  The urgency surrounding climate change might not be about saving the earth.  It's really about saving our own asses.  It's entirely possible our Mother is revving up to shake us off once and for all, because we've plunged a knife into her breast one too many times.

Opinions #9: Everybody Doesn't Love Your Kids

I've expressed this opinion before--most notably on "Hot Flash Cafe"--the blog I kept (loosely) as a chronicle of my oh-so-not-halcyon days as a restaurateur.  Children are not--and should not be--welcome everywhere their parents go.

There is a sub-culture of baby/child worship that has run completely amok lately.  Young women are getting pregnant with wild abandon, not necessarily within a wedded nor even a committed relationship.  It's all about showing off the "baby bump" and breathlessly selfie-chronicling the weeks till delivery on social media. 

I'm going to display my old-fartness here for all to see, and reminisce that when I was just out of high school, we fully enjoyed our newfound sexual freedom but did NOT want, at eighteen or twenty, to produce small human beings for whom we would be responsible for the next several decades.  Birth control was available; we understood its function and made religious use of it.  It was really a pretty practical and straightforward plan. 

What, I have to ask, was lost in translation between us and our granddaughters--daughters, even--that reproductive "accidents" happen with such astounding frequency?  And then are not merely dealt with practically, but celebrated; as if creating a baby with no plan as to how to actually raise the child--financially, emotionally, or any other way--was not just acceptable, but absolutely excellent!  (No, I'm not advocating abortion here...there are plenty of birth control methods widely available that relegate abortion to the status of birth control method of absolute last resort.  If you don't make a baby, you don't have to decide whether or not you want to end it.)

So now we have all these young girls getting pregnant and having babies and then fully and innocently expecting the entire village to joyfully pitch in and help them care for their little bundles of joy.  Without ever asking the village if it is on board with that plan. 

The clueless mothers drag those poor babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers everywhere, assuming that the entire world is not only okay with, but will help them cope with, their screaming, over-stimulated offspring; who would be much more content at  home, either taking a nap or being allowed the freedom to entertain themselves safely in a child-friendly environment. 

Even young marrieds have adopted the strategy that it's perfectly wonderful to drag children everywhere the parents want to go:  expensive hotels and restaurants, trans-oceanic airline flights, movies, theatres and sports arenas.  And anybody who has the audacity to not like children running all over the place and whining, crying or screaming unchecked...well, you're just a terrible person and what is wrong with you?

Here's the thing, young ladies (and gentlemen):  You're not fooling anybody.  It isn't that you love your children so much that you need them to be with you and sharing all these heart-warming family experiences every minute of every day.  The fact is that YOU are criminally selfish.  It's all about YOU.  Not about your kids, who would be happier at home or engaged in activities designed to appeal to them.  And it's certainly not about giving a rat's ass about accommodating the opinions, feelings, or convenience of any person outside your insulated, self-centered little bubble.  After all, if you can tolerate your children's public misbehavior, certainly anyone present can, should, and WILL, by god, do the same.

Yes, it's all about selfishness, the  cause of so much of the friction in our society lately.  So many young couples are determined not to let the inconvenience of having produced children put any kind of a cramp in their lifestyle.  "We don't have to turn our lives upside down just because we have kids!  We'll just drag them with us everywhere we go and let them turn everyone else's lives upside down!"  Tell me, please, how that demonstrates love of any kind, either for your dear, cherished little offspring, or for anyone else. 

I foam at the mouth every time I read an outraged review online about how a restaurant or an airline or a theater is so cruel and heartless that it doesn't cater to children.  Young couples: you need to get that your having had children is not now EVERYBODY'S responsibility.  Take care of your own kids.  And don't take them where everyone is not going to enjoy them, or at least be able to ignore them.  How hard is that?                        

Got Him!

When I started this challenge, I asked my audience for advice about what they would like to see in the blog if I was now going to be spending a lot of time here.  I actually got a few responses (which I now see as miraculous, since I have come to understand how much of this effort is more aptly described as talking to myself than actual blogging...but I digress.)  One suggestion was to write more about my bird photography.  So, this one is for  you (you know who you are...if you're still out there.)

Since the wonderful, unexpected owl encounters of last month, I've been pretty much skunked when it comes to even seeing anything photo-worthy, much less getting decent shots of any of my favorite subjects.  I have taken so many bad, out-of-focus pictures of uninteresting encounters that I've begun to doubt myself and my abilities once again. 

The universe seems want to hold me in a pattern of "If you go out looking for a shot, you aren't going to get one, but you'll encounter plenty if you don't have your camera or you're unprepared."

I kind of sneaked one past the Universe yesterday, though.  I went out to the dike to take a walk in the not-rain, and foolishly brought my camera along. So of course, everything I saw was too far away, or poorly lit, or behind a bunch of branches or reeds...except this one.  And the funny thing is, I was actually lining up shots of the apples on a leafless winter tree, when I saw birds flittering around in the branches and decided it might be fun to focus on one of those.  Snapped off the picture, took it home and put it on the laptop, and saw that I had captured one of the sparrows digging in to a feast of apple.  I swear, if that was the shot I had intended, I never would have got it. 

So I thank the Universe for a bit of serendipity. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Opinions #8--Mourning the Decline of Noble Sport

I grew up a sports fan. 

Which was hard to do, in a family of six women and one man.  And the one man wasn't exactly the athletic type, being an accountant and all.

But we did have a television.  Do you remember ABC Wide World of Sports?  "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat?"  On Saturday afternoons, I could generally be found making a half-assed effort at weekend chores, with the television tuned to the downhill skiing or skating or track and field or cycling or gymnastics or whatever obscure sports competition Roone Arledge had scraped up from somewhere around the globe to present to rapt (and sometimes head-scratching) American audiences.  I loved that show.  And Chris Schenkel doing the pro-bowling tour.  I was just...hooked.

Then there were the Cub games on WGN--a perfect alternative to after-school soap operas for an active and competitive soul such as myself.  I was never really any good at playing sports.  But I loved to watch and cheer.  I was a fan.

And I remained a fan for decades, when sport was sport; sometimes you won, sometimes you lost, but the players always played their hearts out either way..because that was how it was.  And the fans cheered, and appreciated the effort, and loved their teams, even in defeat.   

The bloom began to come off the rose in the late 70's...I remember to this day.  The era of self-promoting prima-donna players was ushered in by Reggie Jackson--the guy who believed and wasn't shy about publicly proclaiming that he was the best player in baseball, and his team only won because he was on it.  Post-Jackson, the "I am the greatest" player attitudes picked up steam exponentially.  Sports teams became a thing of the past. Sports stars ran the table.  Ball clubs became groups of loosely connected individual celebrities, more interested in competing with other stars--including those with whom they suited up every day--for the most attention and highest salaries than in being part of a team.    

So now, here in the 21st century, we have squads of over-paid, spoiled adolescents raking in obscene amounts of money for their laudable prowess at...playing kids' games.  Games, people.  Just games.  Not "Winners" and "Losers."  Not life or death. The world doesn't stop turning if the other team scores more than yours does.  Though with the sums of money that are thrown around in today's professional sports, you'd think it would.

Sports today are about winning--every time, there's no such thing as a laudable try if you lose; , and money--piles and piles of it.  Nothing else matters.  Professional sport has become ugly and contentious; in-your-face and boastful; intimidating and greedy.  Why would I want to watch that?  Why would I want to call myself a "fan" and enable that kind of culture?

Nope.  American pro sports left me far behind...sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley in 1970, rooting for our disgraced but always beloved Chicago Cubs, win or lose...because "there's always next year." 

Well, there was...but not anymore. 

Death by Fear

I follow a blog written by an Episcopal priest--a woman a few years younger than I, who recognized her call to the priesthood at almost mid-life.  I think it's fascinating when women bring the richness of a "previous life" to ministry.  In fact, I believe every priest or preacher should be required to have several years of non-ministerial life experience before even being considered for a ministerial calling.  It only makes sense, doesn't it?
One of Terri's recent posts--of her Christmas sermon,actually--gave me food for thought.  She spoke of light coming into great darkness...the kind of great darkness that threatens to take over our exhausted, ravaged, divided 21st-century world.  And yet, new life and light are birthed out of darkness.  She posited that it is fear...fear that threatens to pervert the process of re-birth. 
It's true, isn't it?  Fear lies that the light will never return...that darkness threatens to remain forever; then thrives on the ensuing chaos and uncertainty. 
Fear then gives birth to all the other negative emotions:  anger, hatred, jealousy, greed.  The strong negative energy of those emotions wears us down to where we are easily led; completely malleable in the hands of anyone with the determination and resources to take control.  Don't believe for a minute that there are not people out there who are practically born with the instinct and talent for exploiting fear and controlling huge numbers of followers.  THAT is evil incarnate.  THAT is what every despotic leader or preacher who has ever walked the earth has had in common:  The ability to incite and exploit fear.
Unsavory forces in control of mass media in this country and around the world have spread so much fear that we are perfectly ripe for the plucking by the next demagogue to come along.  In fact, we're so fear-ridden that we've not been passive participants in the process...we've been actively seeking to anoint a "savior."  And we all know where that has put us, now. 
Those of us who might not yet be completely crippled by the rampant fear need to start asking the right questions and making our voices heard.  I'm here to ask the most primary question of all:
What are we afraid of?  Dying?
News flash, folks:  We are all going to die. 
It's one of the surest, most inarguable fact of life.   One that even the rightest of right-wing lie-rags cannot label "Fake News."  We die.  Period.
Given that fact, isn't it merely a definition of insanity to let ourselves be consumed with panic over a natural fact that has existed since the dawn of life?
You are going to die.  Get over it. 
Death shouldn't be what scares us.  What should cause us to quake in our boots is wasting our lives fearing death.
Honestly, how are we making the most of the days we're allotted to enjoy this beautiful planet if every day is contorted by the dread of their end?   Why would we want to stay forever in a place that has been made practically unlivable by fear and all the ugly, cold emotions that spring forth from it?
We have to reject fear.  We have to resolve to accept mortality as the nature of things, and then live our lives until they end.  If we can do that, fear will have no power over us, and we can work toward making our planet a place with a bright and hopeful future.  For our children, and their children. 
Because if we don't...a time will come when there will be no children.  And no planet. And no future. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Where Are My Keys...?

Can't say this has never crossed my mind...

Retirement? Hah!

You know those Christmas letters you hate to get from the member of the family who, it seems, always has the perfect life?

I got one of those from my cousin last week.

This is how the letter went:

"Once again, it has been a busy year.  We visited family and friends in Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Florida and Colorado.

......spent three months at an RV park in Michigan near our grandsons...

...had a knee replacement, but was diligent about rehab so we could continue to enjoy the rest of the year traveling and visiting...

...went with our RV club to New Mexico and the Grand Tetons.

...flew to Barcelona in October, where we embarked on a voyage in the Western Mediterranean...

...remained on ship for a trans-Atlantic crossing with stops in Morocco and the Canary Islands..."


Cuz is thirteen years older than me...not exactly a Boomer.  She was born in 1942.  That makes her 74 years old. 

Seriously, I'm happy for her.  She and her husband both retired from long-term stints with large corporations, when decent pensions were still a thing.  They owned a home in suburban Chicago for thirty years, which they sold--at the right time--for many times what they paid for it, bought a motorhome and became snowbirds.  Then they decided they didn't like not having a home base, so they bought a home in Arizona.  Which they must live in about two weeks a year...or maybe only when recovering from knee surgery.

Ah...they are living what I always assumed retirement would be.  Should be.  But will never be.  Not for me or the rest of us in our early 60's, bringing up the rear of the post-war retirement boom.  Dropping rung by rung out of the middle class...with no idea what life will look like five--or ten or fifteen years down the road--when we might finally have to retire because we're too old and decrepit to do anything else.  Europe?  The Mediterranean?  Not a chance.  There will hardly be money to travel this country...well, we could actually be living in our car, so travel might be a thing after all.   I wonder if we'll still be $200k in debt by the time we have to retire?  The way the country is going, debtors' prisons will probably be making a comeback.  So maybe we won't be living in our car after all.

The picture perfect retirement my cousin is enjoying is nothing but an impossible dream for us.  If I let myself think about it, I don't know whether to be scared shitless or just depressed as hell.      

Learning From History

John Boehner thought the GOP could control the Tea Party.

John Boehner lost his job.

Paul Ryan thinks the GOP can control Trump.

I think we all know where this is going...

Gag Me

Apparently, Cheeto and his sleazy wife attended a Christmas Eve service at a church in a standing ovation by other church-goers (seriously???)  The Trumps' well-publicized lame bid to appear devout evidently impressed  his faithful.  A woman on a comment thread on a friend's Facebook post had this to say:

Yes it was great to see the Prez elect at their church and going to communion on Christmas Eve. Refreshing since BO doesn't go to church at all...... there's hope for Christians yet!! 


DJT has a church that he attends when in PB. NYC I am not sure. BO and fam have gone 3x year and only on 1 Christmas in 2011. "Too busy" says Michelle...

Another commenter countered:  

actions speak louder than words. Barack had no affairs while married, has only one wife, no grabbing pussy, no denigrating a war hero, no stirring up hatred . Though somehow the man who talked about starting a nuclear arms race on Christmas is more Christian than Obama. OK

To which Ms Trump Apologist replied:

yes actions do speak .... agree. Little bit too much drama in your comments .... there was no " grabbing" and no starting of any nuclear war...... calm down and chill. I am not judging his marital history... that has nothing to do with being Prez. He's been married over 10 years and has a son and family he adores. I respect that. We need change so let's see where it goes.

This is how they think.  This is how they view everything Trump does through an adoring haze, and everything Obama has tried to do for the last 8 years through the veil of shit smeared by the likes of right-wing hate radio, Faux News and congressional Republicans, to name a few.

I. Can't. Stand. It. 

For what it's worth, here is MY response to this...person (what words could adequately capture the degree of delusion from which she suffers????)

I'm sure there are aspects of Trump that are deserving of respect or praise, but being a role model of a practicing Christian is not one of them. If you want to stand behind Trump, you are free to do so, but stand behind him for what he IS, not what you wish he was.

Also...if you are personally a church-attending Christian, it can't have esaped your notice that there are those who faithfully attend church on Sundays, and then live the rest of their lives as if they had never heard of Christ or his message. Whether or not a person attends a weekly religious service is in no way an indication of what is in a person's heart, and I'm pretty sure you know that.

Shouting down a sewer hole, I know.  But sometimes, you just...have to. 


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Opinion #7--Hunting Animals Is Not A Sport

I've often mentioned how vexed I am by not-so-distant reports of shotguns  destroying my morning reverie on my "coffee deck" from October to March.  I'll make this short: people who find pleasure or satisfaction from killing other living beings for sport have, at the very least, a screw loose.  At worst, they are violent, self-centered and sadistic.  How can it possibly be enjoyable to violently deprive another being of life? 

I understand that our factory-farm food chain is hopelessly compromised.  We should be very afraid of how the animals we eat are treated and cared for, how they lived and how they died, before they end up on our dinner plates. The conditions under which the animals we eat "live" are, in most cases, abhorrent.   So, on the surface, hunting and killing one's own meat makes nutritional and spiritual sense:  At least game taken in the wild have had a chance to HAVE a life before it was forfeit for the benefit of someone higher up on the food chain. 

But there is a great deal of difference between hunting for food and killing for sport; consuming the animal you slaughtered for the fun of it does not magically legitimize the murderous game.  Living beings are not targets, and should not be treated as such.  Taking a life--any life--is serious and solemn business, and should be done with great care and reverence.  Excuse me if I don't believe that every **pop-pop** I hear in the morning is representative of a sincere and respectful taking of a life in order to put food on a table that would otherwise have little or none. 

Hunting.  Can't get my head around it, and am not a fan.  Period. 

What To Do

Now that any misplaced hopes we had in the electoral college saving us from doom have been summarily dashed, we're sneaking up on a bit of debate about what to do about the Trump presidency.  Saw a link to this essay in the comment thread of a friend's Facebook post, and it's good enough to post here.  Couldn't figure out how to embed it, so here's the link:

What to Do About Trump?  The Same Thing My Grandfather Did in the 1930's

Pay particular attention to the author's third and final point.  He has an incisive understanding of the foibles of "smart" people--for example, IMO, the Democrats who sabotaged their own candidate and so offered up unmistakable aid to the "enemy."

Too, I remember a saying from back in the 80's and 90's--a warning against being so open minded that your brain falls out.  I think we "smart" progressives are too often afflicted by that malady, as well.  And when the stakes are as high as they will be beginning January 20, 2017, we cannot afford to be brainless.   

Monday, December 26, 2016

Seasonal Realities

Saw this strip in the Register Guard on Sunday.  This guy (Greg Evans) nailed it!

Anoy-Yu, China!  THAT's where they make all this stuff.  LOL! 

Seriously, though...I've noticed that so many people are not putting up lights anymore.  Could it be that they are made like such C.R.A.P. that it's not worth the effort, not to mention the expense?  Maybe we've all shelled out $100 or $200 too much on cute light sculptures that crap out two weeks after you put them out, and we're just fed up.

As for me...just give me the good old C9's.  At least the whole *&%$ string (or, more annoying, HALF of it) doesn't go out when one light burns out. 

Opinions #6 The Heaven/Hell Debate

Over the past couple of decades, I personally have moved from Pentecostal Christianity to agnosticism to...what would one call what I now embrace?  Personal divinity?  Inclusive connection to the Spirit of Creation?   Whatever label I slap on it, it's definitely "spirituality" rather than "religion."  Actually, I'm reluctant to name my connection to the Almighty.  Calling it something means attempting to distill it to an essence to which others can relate...and it's a short leap from there to recruitment.  I don't necessarily want or need to share my spirituality with anyone else.  In my mind, one's connection to the Divine is, or should be, unique and personal.   

When one is taught from infancy that God is in heaven, the devil is in hell, and Jesus came down to save us from sin and keep us out of that hell...well, that stuff sticks like superglue.  It took a good decade for me to finally shed the last vestiges of the religious traditions into which I was born.  For many years, as my spirituality changed and grew in different directions, I waited for that lightning bolt to shoot out of the sky and smite me for my unbelief.  Eventually, I figured out that--logically--the Creator of the Universe would not act in that manner.  Creation is so vast and varied that the Entity responsible for calling it into being would not possibly be so small and demanding and humanly petty that it would ordain and honor only one way for humankind to connect to and communicate with it.  That simply did not make any sense.

So I have no bone to pick with anyone who attempts sincere communion with the Almighty through "mainstream" religion.  I personally know and respect many Christians...and Jews,  Muslims and Hindus.  It is not for me to tell any person that their path to connection with the Almighty is wrong.  What IS wrong is that mainstream religion is often perverted by the violent and the greedy and the power hungry.  Religion can so easily be used as a tool to dominate and control large populations of people.  And so it is.

When I hear people talking about heaven and hell, I just...shrug.   Surely there are dark spiritual forces afoot in the universe, as there are forces of light. It's not that I disbelieve there is evil at work in the world.  It just seems to emanate mostly from the human race.  People.  People who think they can shirk personal responsibility for their evil acts by claiming "The devil made me do it."   Mankind, unfortunately, is too easily attracted to the darkness.  But, Hell?  A place where those who did evil in their human incarnation go to burn in eternal fire? Hm.  Nope.  Just don't buy it.

And when it comes to Heaven...I can't buy that, either.  We are all so caught up in being human, we think it's the apex.  The ultimate.  What we are and always want to be, for eternity.  So we've imagined this place we'll go when we die, and we'll be joyously reunited with everyone we loved who left their earthly bodies previous to our own exit. 
But I believe human spirits are slivers of the Spirit of Creation, and when they leave their broken shells of clay behind, they are reunited with that great creative be shaped and reshaped, over and over again.  We're sent out by the Creator to a new incarnation, possibly as another earthly animal or person or plant, possibly to another planet or galaxy...  The concept is too huge for us to wrap our heads around, so we invented Heaven--the eternal banquet where we sit and feast with all the nice people we ever knew in our lives.  Isn't that just too small  a finish to have been conceived by the Creator of the Universe?  (And just as an aside, this concept of the "Rainbow Bridge," where all the beloved companion animals with whom we shared our lives reunite with us, presumably to be our pets forever in heaven... Why would a spirit want to be forever bonded to another as a pet?  Why not hope that when your beloved companion leaves its used-up earthly body, it is free to return to the Spirit and be renewed as something beautiful and wonderful and most likely beyond your comprehension?

To see me walking down the street, it would probably never occur that I don't believe--and am perfectly comfortable not believing--in the everyday religious assumptions by which so many of my fellow citizens are held captive.  Two hundred years ago, I would have been labeled a witch and burned at the stake.   

Sunday, December 25, 2016

New King? WTF!!?!?

I keep trying to put this Trump thing on the back burner...but it just keeps jumping back in my face.

Saw this on Facebook today.  What sane comment can one possibly make about the insanity of this Priebus/Cheeto overreach?

Merry Fucking Christmas.

Opinion #5--If We Aren't Supposed to Eat Animals...

I've expressed this sentiment before, but it bears repeating.  It's sort of in the same vein as two of my previously expressed opinions, those having to do with the food choices of fear-ridden, fad-driven American public.

The whole "I don't eat anything with a face" is just...bunk.  Human beings are omnivores.  Our bodies are designed to utilize nutrition from many sources--animal, vegetable and mineral.  We eat animals.  We

I love animals.  I feel a deep spiritual connection to them...I don't think of them as having been put on this earth for man to dominate, or to use for any purpose we desire any time we want.  To me, the other members of the animal kingdom were put here by the Creator for purposes every bit as "important" as human beings. 

But the animal kingdom offers many examples of animals that eat other animals.  Predator/prey is a fact of life on earth, ordained by the Creator...part of the natural order of things.  Do we hate hawks because they prey on the pretty little birds in the garden?  Do we despise lions because they bring down lovely swift gazelles and zebras?  Do we get angry at orcas for killing seals?  No.  We may (unjustifiably) think that the ways some animals procure their food is cruel, or gruesome, or sad.  But the animals are simply following the instructions that the Creator set forth for them. 

Only human beings have the audacity to second-guess the Almighty and declare our natural diet morally unacceptable.

If you feel like giving up meat, if you decide that the thing for you to do is walk that difficult walk of trying to replace animal protein in your diet with crazy combinations of legumes and grains, knock yourself out.  I'll simply point out that if it was the "right" and "natural" thing to do, it wouldn't be so complicated. 

It's not like I consume three pounds of red meat a week,  or base my diet upon mass quantities of bacon, or even chicken.  And, let's face it, having a diet too heavy in animal protein is an economic challenge these days.  But if I choose to enjoy a burger or a pork chop now and then, and consume a fair quantity of poultry (because that's what I can afford) I am not going to be haunted by one ounce of guilt.  I'm pretty secure in the knowledge that the Creator is okay with the concept of food chains and that the guys at the top consume the guys lower down, since that was how the Creator set things up.    


Merry Christmas Eve 2016

The gang, and a few extras.  Par-ty!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Opinion #4--"Franken Foods."

Obviously, there are not enough things out there to be afraid of.  We have to invest time and fortunes into making up more.

Too bad we can't have back the resources that were sunk into the Y2k scare.  With the money, time and emotional energy expended in that pop-culture melt-down, maybe we could have defeated Cheeto. 

Or the media-created fuss over ebola two years ago--Americans did not give a rat's ass about ebola until the media chose to intimate that it was on its way to our shores and we were going to begin dying by the millions.  Or the similar paranoia circulated about the damn flu every winter since Big Pharma created the flu virus.  I saw a headline on NPR yesterday--on N flippin' P. R.--about a veterinarian catching a strain of bird flu from infected cats at an animal shelter.  Drag people by the eyeballs into this story, only to report that the person suffered only mild symptoms and recovered fully.  The obvious question is why did this NON-story rate reporting in the first place?  Pure, unadulterated click-bait, to be sure. 

My point is, just because the media hype something and then social media picks it up and runs with it, does not mean it is an actual or credible threat.  One of the most offensive examples of this is the fear of genetically altered foods--the good old GMO's.

I will be the first to declare that the American people need to become more aware of what it is they're putting in their mouths.  Our food chain has become hopelessly poisoned by bad factory-farm processes, excesses of chemical ingredients, and Madison Avenue's penchant for presenting the foods that are the least healthy for us as the most attractive. 

We eat crap--even poison-- in this society.  But the poison is not created through genetic modification, and changing the genetic make-up of a food product has never  been proven to create foods that will make people sick.  Humans have been toying with the genetic make-up of crops practically since we passed out of the hunter/gatherer stage and started putting edible things in the ground near our dwellings on purpose, tending them and harvesting them at our own will.  Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, lived 150 years ago.  So the concept of genetic modification of food crops is not new.   

When "breeding" of food crops took years and many growth cycles, we didn't bat a eyelash at it.  But now that it can be done almost instantaneously in a test tube, we freak out that genetic modification is "not natural" and "not what God--or the Creator or whatever fate-controlling entity you worship--intended"; and that we will be punished by being sickened and dying from these things we have dared to create.  Hogwash.

Don't get me wrong...there's plenty to fear from the likes of Monsanto and Dow and other chemical companies that have taken control of our food production.  But we have to get it right...we have to know exactly what it is we should be afraid of.  Sure... let's wring our hands over what genetically-modified crops may be doing to us.  But not because of how the genes may have been messed with.  Because of the fact that they can now spray entire fields of our food with chemicals that will not kill the corn, only the weeds.  The jury is still out on the effects that consuming those chemicals will have on humans, over time.  I'm pretty sure that research has not even been done. 

And while you're speculating that genetically altered wheat may be the reason so many people seem to have developed a sensitivity to gluten, consider the fact it's accepted practice that entire fields of wheat are sprayed with herbicide before harvest, because the plants actually have to die before the wheat is harvested, and yield is maximized by making sure all the plants are dead at the same time (left to nature, plants mature and die at different rates.)  So our daily bread has likely contained a daily dose of Round-up for decades.

There is caution, and there is panic.  There is informed concern, and there is pop-culture fear-mongering.  Unfortunately, American society is most prone to be too lazy to accept the former, while blindly embracing the latter.   I, for one, am not too keen on being afraid of something simply because it's "too complicated" for me to understand.  That's a cop-out, and one that could ultimately be very, very bad for us indeed.      


Friday, December 23, 2016

Radio Silence

Okay...TWO political posts today.  Hell...In my race to the finish I can make or break any "rules" I want...

I had thought that my withdrawal from social media in reaction to the election results was unique to me...then I realized my social media friends seemed to have disappeared as well.  Now, I find that this type of reaction has been the rule rather than the exception.  Liberal pundits and personalities everywhere, those who were extremely vocal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before the election have, if not disappeared, at least dialed down the rhetoric by a power of 100.

It's guilt.  We all suspect that by adding to the pre-election frenzy and cacophony, we actually contributed to bringing about the thing we feared most.  We threw gasoline on the fire we sought to squelch.  So now we have just...shut up.

I'm not sure that's the best tactic.  Bad things are bound to happen with Cheeto Jesus at the helm of our ship of state...but worse things will happen if good people don't speak up.

Then again, I wonder...

If we take away the opposition...

If we don't give the Trump faithful a target, don't provide them with an argument to shout down...

Maybe they will have to actually turn around and focus on the man they elected.

And, since we all know how fickle is the voting public in this great country...

Maybe we can hope that THEY will take him down themselves when he doesn't give them exactly what they think he promised, exactly when they want it.

Not a likely scenario, I suppose...  But nevertheless a comforting thought in these troubled times.