Childlike Grace

Bible

When I was a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Blogger Barry, in a recent post, said that he’d halted on his path to becoming an Atheist. He does not say that it was because he was taught that Atheists are evil, nasty or sinful, but that is the reason that many ex-Christians won’t admit that they have become Atheists.

Tired of the judgemental, accusatory, denominational bureaucracy and hypocrisy, he still wished to identify as ‘spiritual.’ It is quite possible to be spiritual, without being a member of any Christian sect.  His last stop before getting off the Christian bus, was at Mormon.

He still visited Atheist websites, and admitted that he had remained a Christian. He was amazed at the vehemence of some militant Atheists, who insisted that any and all religions were harmful.  He admitted that, being ‘inside the box,’ perhaps he did not understand the claim.  He asked, if he was not harming himself, or anyone else, how could his being a Christian be harmful?

When we tell small children that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist, are we harming them, or society in general? Probably not, or only a minuscule amount.  However, when children get to be 7, 8, 9 years old, we tell them the truth, and show them reality.  To allow them to grow into adults who still believe in things like the Tooth Fairy, can cause harm in a variety of ways.

If an individual or sect is allowed to treat their particular and peculiar superstition as reality, then both the believers and society are harmed. It also inserts the thin edge of a wedge.  If one is, then all religious opinions must be accepted, no matter how strange or unreal.  The more people there are, who treat fantasy as fact when dealing with life and the general public – the fewer people who cannot and/or do not, deal with secular reality – the more harm is caused, both to the believers and to society.

Critical thinking is incredibly hard, but also incredibly important. We can’t learn and grow without it.  We have to question our own ideas and motivations, so that we don’t get stuck on there being only one correct, acceptable idea.

Next comes the slippery slope. Once strange unprovable beliefs are allowed, the holders quickly try to turn acceptance into licence.  If politically powerful enough, they try to pass laws enforcing membership in their sect, and making disagreement with their views into heresy and apostasy.  Kindly old George H. W. Thousand Points Of Light Bush once said that Atheists should not be allowed to be American citizens, or patriots.

My opinion of Blogger Barry’s intelligence and mental strength, based only on reading a few of his posts, is that he is not, and probably won’t ever be, directly harmful to society. Sadly, he’s one in 10,000 – or maybe a million.  There are countless hordes, who are only too willing to use their religion as a justification to inflict physical, mental, emotional, social, or financial pain and damage to countless other victims.

God is for the wise. Religions are for fools.  If only more people would grow out of the childish need for an imaginary friend to protect and guide them, and become adult enough to face the universe and life as it really is, and not just how they wish it were.   😦  😯

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I Have Poor Relatives

Shabby Man

Once upon a time there was a poor little boy from a poor family. His Father was poor.  His Mother was poor.  The maid was poor.  The cook was poor.  The butler was poor.  Even the chauffeur was poor. One day, he went to his father and asked if he could have a pony.  His Father said no, because they were too poor to afford a pony.  The poor little boy went to his piggy-bank, took out enough money to buy himself the pony, and put the rest back….

We are often so busy with our own lives, that without really obvious clues, we think that everyone is pretty much like ourselves. It takes an observant and analytical mind to notice the struggles of those at the bottom of the financial, pissed-on trickle down ladder.  I am distressed that a $180 pair of distressed designer jeans looks just like my four-years-old $24.95 Wal-Mart pair.

This is why politicians, who are already being paid far too much to do a job that their predecessors did without pay, as a Public Service, feel free to waste millions – Billions – of our dollars, and still fraudulently pad their office budgets and expense accounts.  They have no idea, and don’t care, what it’s like at the bottom of the pile, and it’s been this way since long before Marie Antoinette offered to “let them eat cake.”

It is just as illegal for a millionaire to sleep under a bridge, as it is for a homeless man to do so.

I recently had a conversation with a friend. It seemed that both of us were keeping an eye on family finances – total income vs. expenses – only I think that he was doing it at a much higher level than I was.  I’ve never asked how much he makes.  It’s none of my business, and doesn’t affect our friendship.

With his experience, training, intelligence and education, I suspect his annual salary is somewhere north of $100,000/year. His talented wife probably makes half of that.

With my learning disabilities, and poor short-term memory adding to my tendency for procrastination, I’m lucky to have accomplished what I have during my life. About 15 years ago, before I retired to live on Government and company pensions – with a bunch of overtime, I grossed $44,000, but the wife had been ‘downsized.’  Earlier, when I made $38,000, she added $19,000.

This is not a whine! I’m still doing better than a lot of people, including the little guy who busks in the cold, outside the local grocery store.  As an engineer, Jim Wheeler says that it is not worth his while to stop and pick up a penny.  I still grab the occasional one or two from the ‘Need A Penny/ Leave A Penny’ tray at the corner store.  People abandon them because the Mint has stopped making them.

I always check the reject chutes of the coin-counting machines in stores. Sometimes I find Canadian coins, as well as foreign ones which I add to my collection.  It’s quick and easy to eyeball the change chutes of vending machines.  I’m not too proud to (discreetly) stick my finger in the few payphone chutes that still exist.  The last time I did, I found $2.  It’s all relative.  $2 to a millionaire is nothing, although Bill Gates (or his minions) cashed a check for 39 cents.  $2 to someone who is eating cat food (We don’t.) means a lot.

Having pets is a wonderful experience. I would not want to get rid of any that we have, but the wife wants even more.  I cannot convince her that, between food, treats, litter, and vet bills, each animal costs us about $1000 a year.  I would sooner have that money to pay down our still-existing mortgage, or use it to take enjoyable trips, while we are still physically capable of doing so.

Some people waste money, too often MY money!  Some people scrimp and save, show restraint and fiscal control, and budget their money to get them the most they can.  I’d be patting myself on the back, but I’m busy crawling around on the floor, trying to find that quarter I dropped.  I’ll be back up at the computer in a couple of days.  Please come back again then.   😉

’18 A To Z Challenge – A

Challenge '18 Letter A

Charlie Brown

Aaugh!  Is it April again??  I just awoke from my winter’s hibernation, and shambled out of the Den, to find other folks well into the alphabet already. As usual, I’m off to a slow start.  Using my Great Awakening as a cheat for the letter A, I’ll make this one a theme-reveal post – “Theme” in only the loosest of senses.

I thought that I might use ‘Trope’. It’s a figure of speech that includes ‘interpolation,’ which is just a fancy word that means the (sometimes)nonsensical non-sequiturs covered by the promised rambles inside some of my rants.

I decided instead, to go with Chaos And Confusion.  I provide the chaos, and you are confused.  This is completely different from last year’s theme, which was Confusion And Chaos, where you were confused, and I provided the Chaos.  Got that all straight??  Good, now explain it to me.

Understand

Alms! Alms for a hungry beggar!  Hungry for inspiration – not food.  (Have you seen my tummy recently??  Happily, NO.  My belt size threatens to become greater than my IQ.  [And there you have the first of my non-sequitur interpolations.])

If any of you have a word or theme, for any letter, that you think would be safe to let me loose with in public, feel free to submit it.  I would welcome all suggestions.  I can do serious research, or just my usual, disorganized babble.

Please stop back again soon for a post that doesn’t use any letters of the alphabet, but definitely in two weeks, when I use the letter B to batter the American Bible Belt, and Donald Trump’s banality.  😯

Off-Beat Challenge – Piercings And/Or Tattoos?

Tattoo

The son’s tattoo – all designed and ready to go, but not installed.

I have never got a tattoo because I have absolutely no imagination – and I got my ear pierced for exactly the same reason.

I have not wanted to be part of the madding crowd, but I never wanted to be too far away, for protective camouflage. I don’t want to be one of the flock, but I don’t mind grazing in the same meadow.  Any wolves are more likely to take down a fat young sheep, than a grumpy old goat like me.

I’ve worn cowboy-type boots for almost 50 years, since I found a pair on sale at K-Mart, the first year we were married. In the 1980s, when I was having my mid-life crisis, I didn’t buy a red sports car.  I got the first of a series of second-hand motorcycles, and a black leather jacket to go with it.

The wife and son and I went to an evening movie when there were still theaters downtown. When we came out and headed home, we were confronted with a gaggle of 6 or 8 Goths with a blaring boom-box the size of a VW van, randomly sprawled across the sidewalk.

The wife said later that she was a bit worried about this bunch. Then she looked at me on one side, with my motorcycle boots and leather jacket. On the other side was 6’-2”, hairy, Grizzly Adams-like son, wearing a sort-of sombrero, an ankle-length oilskin duster out of a spaghetti western, and steel-toed work boots.

When it became obvious that we weren’t going to step out into the street to go around this puddle of anti-societal slush, legs and feet were quickly withdrawn into standing or lotus positions.

I went with a co-worker after an 11 PM shift-end, to an upscale roadhouse/bar. The fussy little hostess wanted me to remove my jacket before he’d seat us.  When I asked why, he replied that it looked very much like a motorcycle jacket.  “What a coincidence!  My bike is parked right outside.”  Well, some of the other patrons might feel intimidated, and would I please take it off.

During my change-of–life rebellious period, even before I got my bike and jacket, I thought that I might like to get a tattoo and/or an ear stud. I recently saw a photo of a pretty, young female custom-cake maker in New York, sporting two forearms covered in tattoos.  Back in the ‘80s, tattoos were transgressive and subversive.  She’d have been a professional wrestler, a biker chick, or a stripper.  They have gone from being questionable, to de rigueur.

I had a gold, eagle necklace pendant. Did I want an eagle tattoo??  I had a sweatshirt, a slab of slate, hand-painted by the daughter, and a light switch plate with wolves on them.  Did I want a wolf??  I didn’t want to be identified as either a Star Trek, or a Star Wars nerd.  What else?  What else??!

I’d like to claim that I had decision paralysis, where I couldn’t choose among so many options, but the sad truth is that I just wanted to seem to be a bad boy, but didn’t have enough imagination to know how.

During a discussion while I was composing this post, the loving son helpfully suggested that I have D N R (do not resuscitate) tattooed across my chest.  Like a dead child, dark humor never grows old.

A younger female co-worker asked me if I would give her a ride home, and stop at a nearby mall, so that she could quickly pick up a couple of things. On the drive, she told me that she’d got her second tattoo, but she couldn’t show it to me – right then – because it was inside her bikini line.

Poor tattoo artists. They see it all – even if they don’t want to.  They wear rubber gloves while they work, to prevent infection in either direction, but I’ll bet that a lot of them wish that they could wear a blindfold sometimes, while they work.

As we went from one store to another, she told me that she intended to add a piercing. She didn’t volunteer the location, and I valiantly refrained from asking, or even showing any interest.  I mentioned that, along with the absent tattoo, I’d often thought about getting my ear pierced.  Suddenly, she literally grabbed me by the earlobe, swung me around, and pushed me toward a jewelry store whose window ad read, “Ears Pierced – $10.”

Within a minute – ZAP – I had a cheap piece of glass-chip and plated wire installed in the side of my head.  I objected that, since I only got one piercing and one stud, the price should only be $5.  The clerk insisted that there were no reductions….but she did add the other one as a third stud in my friend’s left ear.

Surprisingly, the wife didn’t make a fuss about it – although she did insist that we visit a reputable jeweller as soon as was convenient, and swapped it out for a $80 gold and sapphire (my birthstone) version.

I wore it proudly, and rebelliously, for over 20 years, until one day I stopped in to see the daughter. She had acquired a frisky young, female German shepherd, who insisted that I kneel or bend down so that she could lick my entire face.

One day, as she put a paw up on my shoulder, she must have caught it with a toenail. Fortunately, she only popped the back off, and didn’t rip it from my earlobe.  Assuming that it was still there, I went about a week before I noticed that it was missing.  By then, it was too late to search for it, and the hole had started to heal closed.

Society, and its norms, has greatly changed since the ‘80s. Neither tattoos nor piercings have the cachet they did back then.  At 73, I don’t plan to add either.  It’s just as well.  With all the old folks medical procedures I’ve had, and presumably will have – the clinics and the hospitals have signs that insist that ALL jewelry and piercings must be removed or treatment will not be given.   😳

’17 A To Z Challenge -Z

Challenge2017 Letter Z

To end this year’s alphabet challenge, I’m going out with the other new-found word.

ZWODDER

Noun: a drowsy and stupid state of mind

I had downloaded Zen, zest, zenith, zany, Zorah(my #2 cat), zipline, zone, and ZZ Top as prompts.  I got my Boy Scout proficiency badge in zwodder.  If I have zwodder, I don’t need Zen.  My mind is empty most of the time anyway.

Zest is what I shred off lemon or orange peels, and add to big, torpor-producing meals. Zenith made my TV.  I lie on the couch at night, with the remote in my hand.  When it falls on the floor and wakes me up, it’s time to go to bed.

I’m not really zany – silly at times, perhaps, but I don’t know much about zany. Zorah is the cat who insists on me taking a nap.  When he gently paws at my shoulder, I rock back the recliner chair, that warm little purring machine climbs into my lap, and drowsy and stupid become mandatory.

I missed out on a zipline ride a couple of years ago, when the son and I went to Niagara Falls. If we go again, I’ll have him book tickets online days ahead.  There’s a zipline ride on the local ski-hill Earth pimple.  Perhaps I’ll try it this summer – if a nap doesn’t interfere.

I’ve got nothing for ‘zone.’ This zwodder thing has me zoned out enough, as it is.  I got an email recently from Billy Gibbons, of ZZ Top, asking why I still hadn’t composed a blog post about him them.  I told him that I might get around to it next year, ‘cause the cat had climbed up, and I needed to take another nap.  He replied that he was going to have his beard steamed, and take one himself.

Zee End

This is Zee end for this year.   😆

Survivor

Alright, Let’s See What’s Left

Lefty

Well, this is

AWKWARD

In this episode of, We Hate You Because You’re Different” we look at ‘handedness’.

  1. lacking skill or dexterity.

Synonyms: clumsy, inept; unskillful, unhandy, inexpert.

Antonyms: deft, adroit, skillful, dexterous; handy.

lacking grace or ease in movement: an awkward gesture;

an awkward dancer.

Synonyms: uncoordinated, graceless, ungainly; gawky; maladroit; clumsy.

Antonyms: graceful.

lacking social graces or manners:

a simple, awkward frontiersman.

Synonyms: gauche, unpolished, unrefined; blundering, oafish; ill-mannered, unmannerly, ill-bred.

Antonyms: gracious; polite, well-mannered, well-bred; smooth, polished, refined. 4.

not well planned or designed for easy or effective use: an awkward instrument;

an awkward method.

Synonyms: unwieldy, cumbersome, unmanageable; inconvenient, difficult, troublesome.

requiring caution; somewhat hazardous:

an awkward turn in the road.

Synonyms: dangerous, risky, unsafe, chancy; perilous, precarious, treacherous.

hard to deal with; difficult; requiring skill, tact, or the like: an awkward situation;

an awkward customer.

embarrassing or inconvenient; caused by lack of social grace:

an awkward moment.

Synonyms: unpleasant, trying, difficult; uncomfortable, ticklish, touchy.

It comes from an Old Norse word that means ‘turned the wrong way,’ always with the implication of somehow being in error.

I backed into this word and its myriad definitions, from ‘maladroit,’ above. There is not a synonym above which is not negative, judgemental, and/or insulting.  The word ‘gauche’ in French, means ‘left.’  The only one that seems to be missing is the opposite for dexter/dexterous, which means right.  Its opposite is ‘sinister.’

Southpaws in today’s modern society are three times as likely to have a home or work-related accident. Everything from can-openers to computer mice are designed for use by right-handed people.  Only British lefties, driving floor-shift cars, gain an advantage.

The antipathy toward left-handed people is still surprisingly strong, and has been going on for millennia. (Most of) the Jews have been brought into the 20th Century on this issue.  Being faced with a lefty can get a Muslim’s panties turban in a knot.  If only we could get the Little Sheet-Head Arabs at least into the 9th.

If you sit with a Muslim, and cross your left leg over your right, pointing your left foot toward him, he is insulted. The Koran is strongly specific, even about which hand you can use to wipe your ass.  It also details what 1200-year out-of-date material you must use to wipe it with.  The modern, educated, observant, Muslim businessman’s washroom is liberally supplied with fresh burdock leaves.

The lengths to which some (religious) people will go, to prevent Us from becoming like Them, can be sadly amusing.  During the Middle Ages – also correctly known as the Dark Ages – Christians didn’t bathe….because Jews did.

The Aftermath

Pot Smoker

Come for the education. Stay for the drunken orgy.
Saint Patrick’s Day celebration at a local University – by the numbers.

10:30 AM – First reveller taken to hospital

11:00 AM – First keg party – with 300 students – busted.

10 busloads of out-of-town Uni students – 4 from prestigious Brock University, then parked abandoned in the University-area Starbucks parking lot.  I’ll bet they were thrilled

42 Peel Regional Police sent up to assist a small army of Waterloo Regional Police – because Brock Uni, and one other, are in Peel Region.

47 ambulance calls by 6:00 PM

25 trips to the hospital by paramedics with partygoers,
5 of them in serious/critical condition – all alcohol-caused.

52 students treated at Grand River Hospital, closest to the bash. Both of Kitchener’s hospitals had extra staff on Saturday to prepare for a possible influx of drunken students, and injuries due to falls.

100 extra security officers on duty at Wilfrid Laurier U. buildings

40 sober students to volunteer for the Sunday morning cleanup

2 large dump trucks, to block off each end of a two block stretch of student housing, for safety, because the partiers owned the street.

400 beer cans/bottles collected as of 2:00 PM, by an under-employed man with a shopping cart full of garbage bags, for their 10cents/ea refund. He was hoping to get $99, to take his girlfriend to Niagara Falls for an overnight stay.  He regularly cruises the student housing, and takes discarded beer cans and bottles out of blue recycling bins.  St. Patrick’s is like Christmas to him.  Two non-partying students gave him some hot food, and an alpaca sweater.

27 students on one house front porch, when the railing snapped. One girl received bruises, but was not included in the ambulance-run statistics.

250 cases of water and 5000 Timbits (donut balls) were handed out by Red Frogs, an international student support group. Slate Church also brought in water and Timbits.

20,000 – The estimated crowd within the two-block stretch. Police say that it easily eclipses last year’s 15,000.

248 police calls in a 12-hour period
619 charges laid
435 were alcohol-related
18 were Criminal Code, including one guy waving a knife
22,400 final ‘official’ Police estimate of the crowd – but you know the police, anything over a dozen doughnuts, and they lose track.  They counted all the legs, and divided by two.

Ezra Party

Teens coming from universities in Toronto, London and Guelph were stopped on area roads, and charged with speeding, drug possession, drunk driving, and other liquor offenses. Students hung off balconies, climbed trees, and onto roofs.  Several arrests were made for public intoxication, assault and sexual assault.

One female Laurier student interviewed, said, “It’s not that much fun unless you’re drunk. I had a bad day until I got drunk.”  She said that some young men were playing a game to see how many young women they could kiss.  She was asked for a kiss, but declined, and fortunately, wasn’t sexually assaulted.

Several ‘civilians’ stopped by, to walk the gauntlet and view the happening.  One couple said that they saw several young females drunk and passed out on front lawns.  Young men have raging hormones, and a generally poor opinion of females who put themselves in this situation. Drunken young men have trouble controlling their raging hormones, and passing up a free chance at winning the intercourse lottery.  It is fortunate that there weren’t more sex assaults.

Forgetting that Saturday was St. Paddy’s Day, the wife and I drove through Waterloo’s main intersection at 1:00 PM. Luckily we were a mile south of the big party, but still…. 5 green-adorned, very intoxicated young men spilled out of a bar and staggered up the main drag, each clutching an open beer.  Very much a No-No in Ontario, they probably got away with it because every cop was at the melee.  They all leaned against each other like teepee support poles.  If one of them had tripped, they’d have all wound up in a pile.

And a good time was had by – some. For a lot of others, dealing with this debauched drunken Bacchanalia was a lot of work and expense.  Now we have the K-W Oktoberfest to look forward to in six months.  We get the same kind of numbers, but they’re spread out over 10 days.  Anybody wanna come to town, and PARTAY??   😯