Archive for 2012


Posted by on Sunday, 23 September, 2012

I happened to find myself hanging out with an Iraq war vet last weekend. I know for a fact that this guy has lived through and seen things that i could not begin to imagine, nor would I want to. Yet several different times, he mentioned that he thought I was brave because my mother died.

This was utterly baffling to me for several reasons. First of all, being brave is not about the things that happen in your life, but rather your response to them. I can not remember if I have stated this before, but I have certainly said it to myself often: everybody’s mother dies. They may be young, they may be old, but sooner or later it happens to everyone. (And if it does not, on the rare occasions that a mother outlives the child, then THAT is the real tragedy.) Everyone’s mother dies, but most people manage to still be a functional member of society afterwards. Me – not so much. Nothing brave about that.

I do not know if it was solely because of this conversation, or if there were other factors as well, but I had a particularly bad week, in which I was even less functional and productive than usual. Nothing brave about that either.

Live Free Or Return of Planet of Movie Reviews Sans Title: Reckoning

Posted by on Sunday, 2 September, 2012

This movie was fine. I pretty much got what I expected out of it. I want to get that out of the way up front, because I do not want to talk about the movie itself so much as its place in the world.

At first glance, one might compare this to Movie #1 and think, “CGI, fairy tale, princess… this is just more of the same.” I did at first. However, a significant theme in this movie is the relationship between mother and daughter. I found this odd, because mothers are usually conspicuously absent from these movies. What do you guys have against mothers over there?

This lead me to investigate the key difference between these two movies. This movie was produced by a company that so revolutionized this style of film making that their name is practically synonymous with it. It was distributed by their even-more-well-know parent company. Conversely, that other movie was (I guess) produced in-house by that same parent company. Which means that it has a place in said company’s “official canon”, and, perhaps more significantly, that movie’s protagonist is an official member of the character franchise.

Neither of those is true of this movie. Which is a shame, because I feel that this is a better example of the kind of movie that made that company famous than anything they have produced themselves in the last decade or so. (Present company excluded, of course.)

Opposite Effect

Posted by on Monday, 23 July, 2012

Someone on fb (who am I kidding, it is always the same person) posted something about the number of abortions in the U.S. and China. The China figure was significantly higher than the U.S., but when adjusted for population, apparently China has roughly double the number of abortions per capita. Which is still a lot, so that point is neither here nor there.

No, what I have been pondering for the last week or so was a comment someone else left about how the aborted babies are “immediately with Jesus forever.” I do not know that there is Biblical evidence to support this, I think it is merely assumed because God is not a d-bag*.

I started thinking, academically, about what part of you actually goes to Heaven. Specifically, whether or not you retain your personality and values in the after life. I have to assume either that these unborn babies with Jesus will either have no personality, or that our personalities are in no way formed by the experiences of our mortal lives. Or that that which is aborted is not actually a person. Or that the whole thing is hogwash and there is no such thing as Heaven.

And with that simple comment, I felt as though the entire concept of eternal life came tumbling down like a house of cards.

*Although the Biblical evidence for THAT is somewhat open to argument.


Posted by on Monday, 9 July, 2012

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matt. 7:3-5).

I have been struggling lately with character flaws in others that are also a problem in me. This is happening at work, in social circles, among fb friends, you name. I am very non-confrontational to begin with, but I keep wishing I could say to people, “You know, this would work a lot better if you were not so _____.” Then I realize that I am quite ____ myself, and am in no position to criticize.

So what then? Are we to merely accept that people are inherently flawed, that criticism is not constructive, and that we must lower our standards and realize the futility of our goals?

Counting Thoughts

Posted by on Friday, 29 June, 2012

I have been pondering the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.”

It is something people say when intentions were good but the result was poor. I suppose it works, to a degree, as an apology or consolation. Yet, as a philosophy for life, it is garbage.

Thoughts are cheap. Thoughts plus effort is what really counts. Consider it from the opposite direction: if someone is angry, and has thoughts of retribution and violence, yet has the self-control not to act on them, is it really the thought that counts in that case?*

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about ideas that I have had, projects that I wanted to do, particularly things that I thought about doing for or with various people… but so what? If all I ever do is think of things, but never take any action, then what is the value in that?


*It actually is, according to Jesus (Matt 5:21-22).

Trick or Treat

Posted by on Sunday, 24 June, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to proclaim, “I am Christian gentlemen!” This statement is obviously inaccurate on at least two counts. I said it to a co-worker as an excuse for why I did not want to stop what I was doing, turn around, and check out some random lady’s posterior.

My coworker’s response was, “Well, so am I but…” I can not remember what rationalization, if any, followed. Nor does it matter to me. I already knew the man was a Christian or I would not have bothered.

This is the point that has troubled me for some time. It is utterly inconceivable to many Christians that non-Christians could be moral people. However, I have met moral and immoral Christians, as well as moral and immoral non-believers.  As far as I am concerned, whether or not someone is a self-proclaimed Christian is a fairly irrelevant  indicator of their character. Especially concerning areas of sexuality as in the example above, it seems that most Christians feel those bits of the Bible were really meant for other people.

Atheists are fully capable of being as moral or more as any Christian, yet I have yet to come across any good argument from an atheist perspective as to where that morality comes from. In this particular instance, I was using the Bible as a convenient shorthand, even if I had to outright lie to do it.  There probably was an argument to be made about the importance of respecting women and so forth, but I doubt I could pull that off. I am certainly not going to claim that I have never stared inappropriately at a woman, but at that particular moment, I simply was not interested.

And Time

Posted by on Sunday, 10 June, 2012

The summer concert series for which I set up sound equipment started again this week. This means a few things. First, someone is going to die. Secondly, last year I started the habit of setting up for the event, going home, blogging, then going back to tear down. Even after the concert series was over, I continued blogging roughly once a week for what would have been a year now, except that twice in the just last few weeks, I have not bothered to post anything. Of course, I would be pleasantly surprised if even five of those posts from the last year were actually important reading.

Most significantly, the sound guy was immediately interested in what I had been doing since last summer, and I simply had nothing to say. Yes there have been some memorable incidents and quality time spent with people and so forth. Yet in terms of long term goals and life accomplishments, the past year may just as well have never happened for me. Nor can I say that the next year is likely to be much different. And as I have commented before, no amount of blogging is going to change that, much as I still foolishly wish that it could.

We Talk T.V.

Posted by on Sunday, 27 May, 2012

I saw a headline: “Casey Anthony Reportedly Spends Days Eating in Front of the Computer.” Naturally, my first thought was, “Who?” But after some consideration, I vaguely remembered her being on trial for killing either her daughter, or maybe it was her roommate in Europe. (Or both?) My next thought was that I spend my days eating in front of the computer… is that weird?

Anyway, it is season finale time, and I thought I would share some of my thoughts on some of the shows I have been watching this year.

Once Upon a Time –  This show is terrible. These characters are obnoxious. I can not believe that I actually watched the whole season. At the closing scene of the season finale, all I could think was that I hope that they do not make a second season, or I might feel compelled to watch all of that also. Speaking of fairy tales, the website where I watch my stories also had the not-particularly-similar movie, “The Brothers Grimm” starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. Honestly, I am not convinced that the film makers were even trying to make a good movie. And they didn’t. There is also a show called “Grimm” that is worst of all. I only watched a couple of episodes before giving up on that. Live action re-imaginings of fairy tales are kind of terrible, you guys.

Community – Do you watch this show? It started off like any other sitcom, with quirky characters in a plausible scenario, but somewhere down the line it went off the rails hard and fast and never looked back. The finale felt like a series finale, although it has not actually been cancelled. However, the show’s creator was fired, so it is likely to have a very different feel next season. Is that good or bad? I do not even know anymore.

Don’t Trust the B~ in Apt. 23 – After the pilot, I honestly have no idea why they kept making more episodes of this. But as long as they do, I am going to keep watching them. Moving on.

Awake – This was an interesting show about a cop whose family is in a car accident and he starts living in two realities: one in which his wife died and son lived, and the other where his wife lived and son died. He would solve cases using pieces of information form the parallel realities.I liked it. It has been canceled though. I just wonder if it was cancelled before or after they filmed the finale, because holy crap, that episode was nothing like the rest of the show and I have no idea what was going on there.

Scandal – Spoiler: they all die.

The Office Depot Incident

Posted by on Friday, 18 May, 2012

I had some things on my mind that are not strictly relevant to this post, other than that I was a little more on edge than usual.  I try to imagine how things might have gone differently if I had been my normal calm, collected self, and I honestly have no idea.

Last week, I went to Office Depot. Immediately upon entering, I was greeted by a young man. In addition to the standard “How are you today”/”Fine” exchange, as I am walking passed, he says to the back of my head, “What brings you to Office Depot today?”

My mind often goes blank when I am put on the spot like that, so it is possible that I could not have told him had I wanted to, which I most certainly did not, so I weakly mumbled, “Stuff…” as I kept on walking.

I quickly found the section of the store that contained what I wanted, and as I am looking at the display, a different Office Depot employee comes up behind me to ask, “What brings you to Office Depot today?” At this point, I am staring directly at what brought me to Office Depot that day, so I was trying to come up with the best way to completely ignore this person’s existence, without, you know, being rude about it. Failing that, I decided just to screw with her. “I want an extended warranty.”

I know that a lot of retail stores require their employees to attempt to upsell extended warranties, which is mostly a way for the company to make more money for absolutely nothing in exchange as the majority of people do not understand, or would even know how to invoke the warranty if they should need it. To be fair, I do not actually know if Office Depot has this policy, so I might have been way off base with this. In any case, she did not get what I meant and I had to repeat my desire for an extended warranty.

“On what?”

“On anything. Doesn’t matter.” I was really starting to get into it. “In fact, if I could just get the extended warranty without having to buy anything, that would be great.”

The whole time I am talking, I am also trying to actually make am informed selection from the display in front of me, but of course, I do not multitask well. The poor girl was thoroughly confused by this point; she was neither playing along nor, more importantly, leaving me alone. I do not exactly remember what she said next. I want to say that she simply reset to the beginning of her script, but in any case, with the next words out of her mouth, I snapped.

“You know what, forget it, I’m leaving,” and I stormed out of there with a parting, “Forget you people,” under my breath. It did not occur to me until afterwards, but by “you people”, I obviously meant “Office Depot employees” and NOT “African Americans”, which the young lady in question unfortunately just happened to be.

I do not lose my temper often, and this was actually fairly benign example. The thing is, angry as I was, I do not remotely blame the poor girl. I actually worried that some manager might have witnessed the exchange form afar and that it would reflect poorly on her semi-quarterly performance review. My problem was that both employees asked me an identical question, which meant that they were acting out some corporate policy, no doubt the result of market research saying that customers should be welcomed and engaged. However, when employees approach me in a store, I can not help feeling that it is because they think that I am going to steal something.

I can naively hope that I may have sent some kind of message up the corporate ladder, but I highly doubt it. I do not dress well, nor do I do not shave often, so if anything came of the incident at all, it was probably, “Some crazy, racist, homeless guy came in ranting about an extended warranty and then ran out.” Maybe in this case they really did think that I was there to steal something, in which case, good job getting rid of me. If not, in the week and a half since this occurred, I have yet to come up with a single thing this woman might have said that would have made my office supply buying experience in any way better.

So what did bring me to Office Depot? It sure as Hell was not for the inane chit-chat.

Hate My Guts

Posted by on Monday, 7 May, 2012

When I was younger, I suffered from chronic and occasionally debilitating abdominal pain. I was eventually diagnosed with a “spastic colon”, which in those days many people thought was just something doctors say when they have no idea what is wrong with you. These days it is called IBS, and I believe, more widely recognized as a real condition.

I eventually overcame my problem through a combination of “To hell with you stomach, you aren’t going to control my life anymore”, attempting leading as stress-free a life as possible, and avoiding whole wheat bread like the plague.

A few weeks ago I decided to start drinking coffee in the morning to try and help with my never-have-energy-ever problem. Around the same time my intestines started behaving, well, irritably. Not like before, but still problematic. I am not 100% sure they are related, but the timing is suspicious. (Though I ditched the coffee after about a week, yet the troubles have persisted.) So I did a little research and found some foods one with IBS should avoid:

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Fat
  • Vitamins

Oh, is that all? So, uh, nothing but fish and rice then, I guess?