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Writer's Block: Best Day

What was the best day of your life?


Every day that I do not pass through the digestive tract of a dyspeptic grizzly bear is pretty good.

Though, I tend to think that "tomorrow" might be the best day of my life so far. Makes it much easier to get through the day when you think of the potential awesomeness of tomorrow.

Good News For The Winston-watch Cam Idea

Madam,

It is certainly not illegal for you to photograph or videotape your neighbor as long as you do not break any other laws in the process. Do not trespass on their property or damage their property. If there is oral communication between persons in the yard, you cannot record that without their knowledge, so insure you stop recording if that happens or don’t record the sound.

[Name Removed], Lieutenant

Day Patrol Division
Bryan Police Department
303 E. 29th, Bryan, TX 77803
(979) XXX-XXXX


So, anyone have ideas for the kind of webcam/recording system I should buy? I'm probably going to have to put it up in a tree.
Some time ago, I wrote about my neighbors, who have recently acquired a trampoline and erected it about two feet from our back fence. This has become a nuisance because there are constantly hordes of shrieking children over there, whose faces pop up above our fence while we're outside smoking. (No, we're not smoking anywhere near said children, but on the complete opposite side of the yard.)

I don't know if I mentioned this, but these neighbors also have a dog.

We first noticed the dog this summer, when the constant and ceaseless barking added to the cacophony of noise coming from the other side of the fence. We thought nothing of it. Dogs bark, and it's annoying, and you just sort of endure it.

But, one night, Steven and I started hearing this terrible half-howl, half-cry. The spine-chilling noise turned out to be coming from their dog, and sounded like the animal was injured. I thought perhaps she'd broken her leg or her leash got hung up on something. We went in and called the police to try to get someone to come out and help the dog, assuming that the owners were perhaps out. When we went back outside, half intending to go over the fence and see what we could do, we heard our backdoor neighbor come out and yell, "You stop that, puppy! That's enough!"

After that, I heard the sound of something hitting a living creature at high velocity. I don't know if he was hitting her with a belt, or with his hand, but it wasn't just once, and it wasn't just a "newspaper-on-the-nose" tap.

Furious, Steven and I went back inside.

Over the next few days, a few peeks over the fence revealed that:

1) This dog has no shelter.
2) This dog is tied to a fence post by a plastic-covered steel rope/cable that is so mangled and knotted, it looks like a cord of Christmas tree lights after being jumbled in several subsequent moves.
3) The dog has no food.
4) The dog has no water.

The fourth one worried us the most, as it was (at that time) still over 100F during the day, and Texas was (and still is) suffering one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Steven began giving Winston (which we decided to call the dog, after the character in 1984) drinks of water from our garden hose through a gap in the wooden fence whenever we would go out to smoke at night. She drank and drank and drank, every single time. At one point, Steven even forgot to check the temperature of the water, and the dog cried while thirstily gobbling down water until Steven realized the water was scalding hot.

That's how thirsty the dog was. Thirsty enough to drink water so hot that it burned Steven's hand.

(He immediately went and turned the water up long enough to blast all of the hot water out of the hose.)


In addition, we also saw the children torment the dog on several occasions. The first time, Steven said they had food on plates, but kept telling the dog, "No, puppy. Stop choking yourself." That's right. The dog was so hungry and trying so desperately to get at the food that she was straining against the rope and her collar and choking itself.

On another sweltering day, we were outside smoking and one of the kids said to the other, "Hey, do you guys want some water?" He went in and brought out bottles of Evian for himself and his friends. Did the dog get any water despite obvious whimpers and begging? Not in the slightest.

We were disgusted.

And we called Animal Control. Repeatedly.

However, as I have recently learned, Animal Control in this city consists of four overworked and inefficient officers who have very little budget.


About a week later, I was sitting at my desk, when once again I heard shrieking. This annoyed me because Steven had just fallen asleep. He's been extremely ill for the past few months and unable to work. For much of this time, he hovered at around or even below 100lbs, and has vomited profusely each day. He has horrible upper abdominal pain, and sleeps only rarely due to his medications and the fact that whenever he wakes up, the vomiting is the worst.

(He's still in a lot of pain, but hasn't thrown up for almost two weeks.)


But, I digress. He had just fallen asleep when I heard shrieking. I went outside to find the kids jumping on that goddamn trampoline at 9:30pm. I went up to the fence and said:

"Hey. It's 9:30 at night. Quiet the fuck down. My fiance is very ill and doesn't need this shit."

(I know. It's not nice to use those expletives at children. But, I was fed up. COMPLETELY fed up.)

To which one of the kids on the trampoline replied, "You shut up, lady! Hey, you shut up!"

They quieted down after that, nonetheless, and I went around front to finish my cigarette. It was there that I discovered a note hanging on our door from Animal Control. It said:

"The animal in question is properly cared for and has been vaccinated."

And that is what prompted an exclamation of, "BULLSHIT!!!" so loud that I'm pretty sure the entire cul-de-sac heard it.

So, what could we do? We continued to sneak the dog water and bits of food when we could. I asked around for other options, but everyone seemed to go back to the same thing, "Call the police." or "Call animal control", both of which had dismissed the problem.


A few days later, a similar scenario played out. Once again, Steven was finally asleep when I heard a ruckus coming from the back yard. I slipped outside and went to the fence, but this time just stood there listening for a while. And what I saw made me livid.


Three big kids (I mean chubby 10 and 11 year olds) had a hold of that dog's rope and were going, "One. Two. Three. HEAVE!" And then they'd drag the dog around the yard by her throat.

(Oh. Yes. We found out that Winston was female at some point during this ongoing fiasco.)

I immediately called over the fence: "Hey! What are you kids doing?"

A little chubby face appeared pressed to the slats of the wood fence. "We're playing with the dog."

"Are you yanking on the dog's leash?"

"Yeah, lady. We're playing with it."

At this point, I had to crouch down to get eye-to-eye with this kid, and I hissed, "How would you like it if someone put you on a leash and yanked you around the yard?"


I stormed off after this, leaving the kid to go crying to the adult who had just come outside that I was interfering with them "playing with the dog", and whining about how I had called Animal Control. "They said we have to give the dog water EVERY day."

What. The. Fuck?

A few evenings later, yet another weird noise caught my attention. I IMed Steven to see if he could hear it in his office too, and when he asked me what it sounded like, all I could respond was...

"Well, it...uh...sounds like a moose fart."

Not that I've ever exactly heard a moose fart, but if I had, I would think it would sound like this.

We went outside to find that the sound was, of course, coming from Winston. It was something between a cough and a bark, a strange strangled noise that made me worry she had something caught in her throat. As I approached the fence to get a good look...

Suddenly, Winston was in our yard.

Yes, in her excitement to see me and Steven, she'd pushed aside a loose fence slat and burst through to our yard. We were completely overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of this very large, very happy dog, which probably, I now estimate, weighs about as much as Steven. But, this also posed a problem. The dog was too happy. She was jumping on Steven and I, licking us, wagging not only her tail but her whole body. But, she was also dragging the steel cable around, getting it caught around our feet.


And that's how I ended up stumbling backwards, causing a nail to poke not only though my flip-flop, but also quite a good ways into my foot.


I was sort of shocked by this, and was trying to help Steven get the dog to calm down while simultaneously getting my foot off of the nail. It was a fiasco of dog and ouch and, because of it being a cold (almost 34F) night, we couldn't see anything. In the end, I had to rush inside, wash and wrap my foot, and then rush back out to grab the dog (who Steven had, impressively, calmed with only the power of his voice) to put her back through the fence. But, before I did, I felt at her throat for any large lumps. I'd worried she'd swallowed a toy.


Later we realized that Winston does not have any toys. Her throat was wounded by those kids and their little "game".


I limped inside after we secured the fence and we washed out the nail-hole with soap and water (OW) and wrapped up my foot. The next morning I got a tetanus shot, and I limped around for a few days, but am otherwise okay.


We called the police, once again, to report the dog's distress, but they seemed even less interested than before, "Someone from Animal Control will check on it tomorrow."


Somehow, I doubted that.


The most recent development is that we have begun to discover palm-sized rocks on our deck. Now, seeing as we had no rocks on our deck before, and there aren't generally rocks that fall out of the sky...this was unusual. Steven pointed it out to me this morning after I discovered (in an unrelated life annoyance) that our water heater has sprung some sort of leak and irrigated the bottoms of most of the boxes in our garage.


As far as we can tell, the kids have been pitching rocks at our house as they jump on the trampoline. It's exactly the correct trajectory. There's a pretty obvious new crack in the siding just below Steven's office window. We're just lucky they didn't break a window.

It seems they are giving the dog food now (a pile of it in the dirt), and possibly water (I see a dish, but it's always empty, so I guess she drinks it all pretty quickly -- which tells me it isn't enough water.) But, I am worried still. Winter is coming, and she has no shelter. Not only that, but she is still coughing and making the "moose fart" noise and probably needs medical attention.

So, at this point, I don't know what to do. I've called Animal Control AND the police repeatedly. Everyone I ask, even animal assistance organizations, point me back to Animal Control, which has proven ineffective. And now the children have started to become a danger to my family and my property.

This. Is Why. Humans. Do Not Deserve. This Planet.


(Oh, as a side note, I did some researching on the occupants of this house. And by that, I mean I looked up their names in the tax records and checked out their Facebook profiles. I know all their names, the names of their family members, their license plate numbers, their hobbies, their jobs, oh...and most interestingly, what church they go to and which church groups they "lead". That's right. They are Hardcore For Jesus. One of the profiles even says, "Jesus is my world."


Really? Do you not remember the part that says, "Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me?"


Asshats.

The Bad Cheese Fiasco

Steven has been very, very sick. He's had to be off work for two weeks, and lost so much weight that when we took him to the doctor, the nurse weighed him, took him to the waiting room, then took him back to weigh him again because she didn't believe the number she had jotted down. He has an ulcer, this we know, but also has problems all over his digestive system, apparently. It's a complete lemon of a digestive system and needs to be recalled.

The problem was that eating caused him incredible pain -- which meant that he couldn't eat. But, he was also nauseous and throwing up, so he HAD to eat something (because if you've ever thrown up nothing, you know how awful THAT is). Anyway, they gave him nausea pills that made him incapable of throwing up, but he was still nauseous, so that was even worse. It was an altogether bad scene, and we were getting damn worried.

The point of all this gross exposition about Steven's health is to get to this nugget: For some reason, this sickness made everything smell very strong to Steven in a repulsive way. He had to hide when I would re-heat food in the microwave, and even deodorant made him gag.

Well, on Saturday, Steven was feeling a lot better, so we decided to make shepherd's pie. This is not a difficult dinner to make, but it has several steps which we spread over an hour or two. Slicing potatos, boiling potatos, mashing potatos, thawing meat, cooking meat, slicing onions and mushrooms, making gravy, baking, baking, baking, etc.

I had wandered off during the Baking part of this process, to poke something-or-other on the computer. And Steven went in to put the cheese on top of the "pie" and put it back in the oven for the cheese-melting-process. Afterwards, he came and knocked on my office door and said,

"I think you're going to have to take it out of the oven. When I put the cheese on, it smelled too strong for me, but I ate some and it tasted okay. It'll probably be okay for me to eat after it cools down a little."

To which I said, "No problem."

So, in about ten minutes, I stood up to walk into the kitchen. I got about to the living-room when I was ASSAULTED by the INCREDIBLE STENCH. It was SO overpowering that I felt disoriented for a moment, because my nose felt certain that a single dinner dish could not possibly put off such an intensely bad aroma. Yeah, it smelled like a dirty gym sock. But not JUST like a dirty gym sock. It smelled like a dirty gym sock that you kept on using as a gym sock for about three more weeks. Then, if you dried that sock, crushed it into a powder, and made me snort lines of it... THEN, it might approach 1/10th of the badness of this horrible, horrible, eye-watering, vomit-inducing smell.

I felt bile rise in my throat. "Oh god, no... That cheese... That cheese is BAD," I said, turning back around, not even making it to the kitchen.

"Is it?" Steven asked from his office. "Maybe we could just scrape it off? It's only been in there a few minutes."

"No, I...uh...don't think that's a good idea. I mean, that cheese is really... Wrong."

But, because Steven looked so very upset about the mistake, and because it was (by then) quite late and we were both extremely hungry, I endeavored to attempt The Top-Scraping Surgical Cheese Removal Procedure.

I'm not going to describe taking the shepherd's pie out of the oven. But, I'm proud to say that I did not throw up, nor did I drop the glass dish.

Carefully, (standing as far away from the dish as I could with spatula outstretched), I attempted to bore a hole into the middle of the pie and remove just about three kernels of corn, which I brought to my mouth with much trepidation. To be sure, there was a corn taste somewhere in that corn. But it had little power against The Gross Cheese Taste. I managed to chew about once before the corn ended up in the sink, rather than down my throat.

"No. No, I don't think scraping is going to help."

Nothing could help this.

I took the hot dish outside, and poured it out on the lawn. Then I stood a good distance away and blasted the dish with the hose. Inside, I blasted the area with Febreeze. Then, I opened windows and pointed fans. Still no matter what we did, the funky cheese funk lingered, taunting us with the idea of a Most Delicious Meal Gone Bad.

And then, did what any good Americans would do. We left and went to get Mexican food.

Later, I threw out that cheese. We still had quite a bit of it left, and it appeared to be well within the expiration date. I guess sometimes one or two ALIEN HELL SPORES get into your cheese and turn it into PURE EVIL, and there isn't really anything you can do about it.

Steven never did get sick off of the handful of cheese he ate when he "tested" it. I don't know if I should be horrified or just absolutely impressed.

Words of Advice For Young People

Every few years, in my LJ, I make a post about important life lessons that I've learned, which I think might be of use to others. I willingly admit that I stole this idea from William S. Burroughs' Words of Advice For Young People. Well, I think now that I am properly 35 years old, (those five and zero ending years somehow being special) it's time to make another such post. So, here are my words of advice:


  • There's always going to be someone smarter, faster, prettier, or wittier than you. But, if you focus diligently on being charitable, compassionate, and brotherly, nobody (not even you) will care if you're not the best at that.

  • The easiest way to judge a person's character is to watch how they interact with someone they receive no profit, monetary or otherwise, from being nice to.

  • If a person leaves a dog outside all night in the cold, or all day in the heat, never trust them with your well-being or the well-being of anyone you care about.

  • People who park like assholes usually are.

  • Doctors are not gods. You can tell them "no". As in, "No, I do not want to take more anti-depressants to treat a symptom I believe to be unrelated." Or, "No, I will not consent to expensive tests for something there is only a .01% chance of me actually having."

  • If you don't "fit in" with the other Lego people, don't fret. Instead, become the corner block of your own Lego universe.

  • When you start to like (or do) something new, there will invariably be some elitist bastard who has liked it longer than you and loudly asserts that you are "doing it wrong". Ignore him completely. He is a sad and bitter asshole.

  • Shun the greedy. Treat them like the social plague they are.

  • White people aren't the only racists. But, if you point that out, you're a racist.

  • Even though you never signed up for the job, you are an ambassador for your country, race, gender, sexual orientation, tribe, subculture, or religion. When you fuck up, you fuck up for us all.

  • Sadly, there are a great number of incredibly smart kids with incredibly dumb parents. When you spot one of these, talk to the kid like an adult, but talk to the parent like a child.

  • College isn't for everyone and is increasingly irrelevant despite the assertions of employers. This doesn't mean you shouldn't go. Just that you shouldn't freak out if you decide not to stay.

  • The children of helicopter parents are invariably useless gits. They can become productive members of society, but it's more likely that they will become self-entitled asshats who never amount to anything.

  • If you meet someone who claims to suffer from a disease but also claims it as a cultural identity and therefore does not want to be cured -- I assure you, they are not suffering all that much. No sane cancer victim has gone to a cancer support group and said, "I like you guys so much, I want to continue having cancer."

  • Be extra nice to poor foreign immigrants who don't speak the language of your country well. They are probably having a really shitty time, and will appreciate the effort more than most self-entitled jerkoffs.

  • Never throw away medication or medication bottles unless it has to be refrigerated. Even if it "loses potency", a half-dose of something in a pinch is often better than none at all. (Okay, people complained on this one, because it's potentially dangerous. But, A) always google what you're gulping, doctor prescribed or not, before you take it and, B) I was more thinking for the zombie apocalypse rather than two years down the line when you get that yeast infection again. If you have the ability to get new pills, go ahead and do that first, of course. And C, this.)

  • People who make excuses for the morally bereft actions of rich people and rich companies are, themselves, morally bereft.

  • If a girl refers to herself as the "head bitch", then she's probably a bitch, exactly as described.

  • Avoid gossip. If you have to speak negatively about someone to someone else, be as fair as possible and steer clear of maliciousness or ridicule. You'll end up with less drama if it ever gets back to them -- and it will, more times than you realize.

  • Finally: Everyone has one thing in their life that they believe "if this changed, my life would be perfect". This is incorrect. Lives are never perfect. And anyway, perfect lives make dull people and dull stories.



ADDED:


  • Most of the internet is not private. Generally act like you're standing in a crowded marketplace whenever you do anything on the internet. Sure, you can whisper to your friend. Or you can even dress up in a chicken costume and hope nobody recognizes you. But you're never, never alone.

  • People don't think about you as much as you'd like to think that they think about you.

  • Don't endure whiners who won't lift a finger to solve their own problems. Say to them directly, "Get your shit together or shut the fuck up."

  • There is a color you can not wear. Find out what that color is for you and avoid it like the plague, or you will look like you have said plague.

  • When you get home from work, and I mean THE VERY MINUTE YOU GET HOME FROM WORK, use what remaining energy you can muster to spend 20-30 minutes tidying your house, doing dishes, putting laundry away, taking out the trash, whatever. THEN go sit down and take off your shoes to relax. You'll relax better knowing that's done, and won't have that chore hanging over your head the rest of the evening.

The Fnords Are Strong

Everyone who has read "The Illuminatus Trilogy" knows about the fnords. Wikipedia explains this far better than I can:

    In these novels, the interjection "fnord" is given hypnotic power over the unenlightened. Under the Illuminati program, children in grade school are taught to be unable to consciously see the word "fnord". For the rest of their lives, every appearance of the word subconsciously generates a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, and prevents rational consideration of the subject. This results in a perpetual low-grade state of fear in the populace. The government acts on the premise that a fearful populace keeps them in power.


Lately, I feel as if the fnords must be strong and well-used. Because even a glance at the news (which is constantly on the TV, muted, where I work) brings me into a state of upset and agitation. This sucks, because if you know me, you know I thrive on reading about certain kinds of current events, especially those having to do with religion and cults, equal rights, and "News of the Weird" type things. But, I also like to be generally conversant in what the hell is going on in the world, even though I will be the first to admit there's a lot of shit, especially about politics and economics, that I don't understand. It is the duty of a denizen of this planet to participate by not choosing to be ignorant of the hard truths of the world. To choose to be ignorant, to choose to turn away from any news, no matter how bleak, is a crime of the soul -- one in which you are basically saying to the world, "My peace of mind is more important than this terrible thing which is occurring to other living beings".

Unfortunately, it has come to the point where this is literally damaging me. It leads me to abysmal moods and dark melancholy, wherein I brood and stew over the world's dilemmas, the nature of man's inhumanity to man, and the ultimate unworthiness for 99% of us to exist.

My former therapist recommended I just stop watching the news. That's...not so easy in this day and age. You can't read facebook or livejournal without being bombarded by links filled with horrors and crimes and hate and corruption. Well, then, perhaps I should stay away from social media, and reddit, and never watch television. But, how can I do that? To sever these things is to sever one's connection to friends and family, these days. I might become less existentially depressed, but then I'd have no friends, and loneliness would put me right back into that inky abyss.

(As an aside, I can't see this therapist anymore. Because she did some things I consider immoral. But, that's a different entry. Nonetheless, her actions just again re-confirm my beliefs that most people are not worth the amazing gift of existence.)

Steven and I got into an argument about my media consumption habits, even. "Stop reading sad things! That's why you're always sad. You already know people are nasty, ignorant, hateful, bigots, so why do you keep going back to confirm this?" I tried to explain, but it didn't come across as even vaguely coherent, because as eloquent as I might attempt to be on the internet, in RL, I am hard-pressed to string together simple sentences half the time. "Well, at the very least, quit sending these links to me. I already know how idiotic everyone is. And I don't need to be reminded constantly."

So, I don't know what to do about this whole "News Ennui". Surely it's a First World Problem, and not something someone living in Afghanistan would even deign to consider as a "problem". But, the stress is strong. My doctor prescribed klonopin after several panic attacks and breakdowns. Is that really the answer? Shouldn't the answer be that this SHOULD make us upset and stressed out? Because the shit that's happening is fucking terrifying! But, how can I continue my day to day life feeling like the next chunk of data might have me bursting into tears?

The only thing you can do is to turn away. To say, "That shit's not my problem. I don't want to know." That one phrase, "I don't want to know", is the one which leads to ignorance. And how can anyone who embraces ignorance claim to be seeking an enlightened nature for themselves?

It's a damn puzzle. A real damn puzzle. And I just don't know. But, every day the fnords get stronger. And every day, my walls get sanded just a little thinner.

Dreamwidth

I have a Dreamwidth account: http://plinko.dreamwidth.org/

I'm not like...going to stop posting or reading LJ. This is just in addition to LJ. Anyway, friend me up if you are on dreamwidth too.

The Irksome Thing Gay People Do

It's generally accepted that you are being a douchebag if you say of a strong-willed woman, "She just needs a man," or the more crude, "You know what would fix her? Cock." Generally, the people who say this are those who have been outwitted by the woman, or who otherwise feel threatened by her. These statements imply that a woman becomes not-right-in-the-head because she has not been properly manhandled, and generally reinforce very ugly concepts about a woman's role in society.

However, the same people who appear to accept the above will often turn around and do something quite similar, which annoys me.

They will see a rather effeminate Republican man, who has views with which they do not agree, often views which are damaging to GLBT people. And they will say, "Well, he's just closeted," or "He's just jealous because he secretly wants to suck dick." In fact, one person I know is fond of exclaiming that "Everyone who speaks against GLBT rights is closeted, or scared because one time they touched another boy in a shower after gym and they liked it."

Okay. Maybe the "rather effeminate Republican man" (RERM) who is so very adamant about gay people being an abomination is, in fact, gay himself. Maybe he is not. However, what do we achieve by making this proclamation?

1) We make the RERM more likely to increase his anti-gay rhetoric by making him feel more threatened.

2) We turn "being gay" into a weapon that we bludgeon people with when they don't agree with us. We're basically reinforcing that this is something that these people should fear being, and in doing so give a very negative view of ourselves as both afraid of what we are and, somehow at the same time, fearmongering those who are not us.

3) We completely derail any possibility for advancement on the real issues by turning instead to childish ridicule. If someone says, "Gays need to be sent to pray-the-gay-away camps," and you turn around and say, "You're just afraid that you might be gay," it takes the focus off of the problem of anti-gay brainwashing camps. It instead turns the argument into a childhood argument of, "You're a fag. Nuh uh. You're a fag."

4) I'm pretty sure that "outing" someone, even in ridicule, even if they are your enemy, is kind of dastardly.

5) We sink to their level.

6) We bypass the ability to understand that if this person is gay, which is a possibility, then they must be hurting incredibly deeply and be so terribly afraid of who they are that they have lashed out at the very people who would love them. And that is a SAD thing, not a funny thing. We may never be able to help them come to terms with who they are, but we definitely won't even have a CHANCE to do so if we reinforce the idea that, "HA HA, YOU ARE CLOSETED", is a taunt and a shaming method.

So, there you go. That's what irks me. And I'm not going to join in if such a conversation starts up around me. I see it often on Facebook or LJ. But, I'd think that most people I know have more intelligent things to say the views of anti-gay mouthpieces than, "UR A FAG."

The Aztec Response

You know, I just think Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, is going about things all wrong with "The Response" ( http://theresponseusa.com/ ) and his "days of praying for rain" to end the Texas drought and so forth.

First of all, I don't think Yahweh is much of a rain god. Sure, he made it rain in the Bible, but a Noah-type flood is just no better answer than the drought. And seriously, with as many Christians as there are in the world, Jehovah is busy with a lot of requests, and well... I don't think He's the guy for the job. You just don't ask a banker to fix your clogged toilet, you know? We need to go about this in a more efficient manner.

I think we should focus on petitioning Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain. He's probably not very busy these days. Plus, there are pretty specific instructions on how to appease him. He likes sacrifices. Drowning is one of his favorites.

So, I think that on August 6th, we should all get together at the lake and appeal to Tlaloc. If you're going to be praying to some other god, you're just not invited.

Actually, I take that back, you ARE invited. Praying to other gods...that's...um...okay. But, due to space issues, you're going to have to stand close to the lake. Like...really...really close. Maybe even IN the lake. Just up to your ankles. That'll be pretty refreshing, huh? It's going to be hot on August 6th. Yeah! So, in the spirit of friendship and tolerance, all of those who disbelieve in Tlaloc and just want to pray to their own gods will get the BEST SPOTS for some frolic and play in the lake.

Okay, you should probably know right now that the lake gets pretty noisy when people are...frolicking in it. You'll probably hear people screaming with happiness. You might even hear them screaming things like, "Oh god, please stop, help me! Help me! Someone help me!" Don't worry. If you look over there, you'll almost definitely see some of Tlaloc's loyal followers nearby, trying to help them have more "fun". It may look rowdy, and there will probably be a bunch of splashing, but no worries... These bursts of joyful exuberance never last long.

But, you know what Tlaloc really likes? He likes it when you go into a sacred cave and skin someone, and then maybe wear their flesh as a cape or a hat or nice button-down shirt. I've been thinking about this really hard, and you know what I remembered? I've seen pictures of Rick Perry, and he has skin over a good 98% of his body, at least. I'm sure, with his deep concern about the welfare of Texans, that he could spare at least 10 or 20 percent of his skin just to make ol' Tlaloc smile.

This is going to be great! It'll be just like the old days, when people got together at the bases of grand ziggurats, and the great leaders soothed us with their words and charisma and an epic deluge of blood. Ah, those were the days. Back when community and family MEANT something, and weren't just words without real value.

It just makes me smile with nostalgia and homesickness when I think of still-beating-hearts held aloft by real men of the gods. I'm pretty sure that's all we really need to fix these terrible blights upon the world like droughts and failing economies and never quite getting a good enough wireless signal.

GOD LISTENS. He really does. As long as you pray to the right god, and that god is Tlaloc. Always remember, Tlaloc has a plan for us. And the family that prays together, and dismembers the disbelievers together, stays together.

Look at this picture below! Look how much FUN they are having!

(And they have really great hair, just like Rick Perry.)

It's All About The Google+

Have Google+? Poke me so that I can put you in my circles. My name there is "Plinko Plonk", and my address is: mindglue@gmail.com
I hate Rick Perry with the heat of a thousand burning suns. So, that's why it's so hot in Texas right now.

Danger Cats

People apparently like it when I talk about my cats, but especially seem to like it when I talk about cats and danger at the same time. Last night, epic* danger occurred.

It's true. I might have a slight fascination...er...obsession with sharp pointy shiny things. Like knives. Okay, yeah, I own a lot of knives. I'm not really talking about kitchen knives. I'm more talking about things like: katanas, swords, butterfly knives, switchblades, utility knives, athames, throwing knives, and cool weird knives I got at various conventions or off the internet. I think I posted once about my beloved Laundry Knife, which was an elegantly simple fold-out knife that I found next to a random pool of blood in the laundry room of my apartment complex. (I have since lost the laundry knife. I can only imagine that is in the land of Lost Socks.)

I also like other sharp pointy shiny things. Like shuriken. And blowgun darts. And needles. And straight pins. Several little boxes of straight pins sit on a shelf near my desk. You know, in case I should suddenly feel the compulsion to hem something or villainously pop a child's balloon.

Now, my poor old cat Huxley, bless him, can't quite jump up on the shelves above my desk like he used to be able to. Sometimes there is a bit of scrabbling and kicking as he latches onto the shelves with his front claws and climbs with the back half of his body.

Last night, of course, cat-scrabbling joined with pin box location to result in a PIN EXPLOSION. Pins went everywhere. Pins went all over my desk, all over the floor, all over my keyboard, and of course, all over me. (Huxley avoided all pins.)

So here I am, sitting in the dark, unable to move because I have no idea where all of these pins are. Any movement could send a pin into whatever part of my body is moved. What should I do? What could I do? I screamed, "STEEEEEVVVEEEEENNNN!"

"Yeah, yeah, I heard it," he said as he walked into my office. He just doesn't even check on me when things go BUMP BANG CRASH anymore, or he'd just have to follow me around the house 24/7. I've been told repeatedly that he will be purchasing a helmet and padding for me Very Soon.

Of course, wherever Steven goes, Seti has to go. Because that cat WORSHIPS him. If Seti could talk, and was our child instead of our cat, I am pretty sure he'd sound like this, "Dad? Dad, are you doing something? Is that cup for me? Is that shoe for me? Dad, what are you doing with that pan? Can I see? I want to help. Why are you ignoring me? Dad, I brought you a ball of foil. And a dangly thing. Please pay attention to me. I'm going to be cute. See? I'm making those talking-noises you like to make. And I'm being cute and putting my head all upside down and showing you my belly. NO. DO NOT TOUCH ME WITH YOUR FACE. WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A HORRIBLE THING?" Then he flees and hides under the television stand, but only the front half of him is underneath it. His butt sticks out, and he wags his tail like a dog, all happy that he has managed to find a place where you Totally Can Never Find Him.

So, Steven turns on the light and (in shoes) approaches my desk to survey the damage. And OMGZOOOOM, Seti whooshes onto my desk. Immediately, Steven whisks the inquisitive cat away, all the while admonishing him, "You can not help. You are a cat. You have no thumbs."**

Cats secured, I begin to very carefully attempt to remove pins. Steven attempts to help, but comes up with a very good idea of retrieving a magnet to aid in this task. Unfortunately, when he returns with the magnet, we learn that it's probably not a good idea to get a REALLY STRONG MAGNET which you hold with your EXPOSED FINGERS. Pins began to fly onto the magnet, without regard for the flesh attached to it.

In the end, we had a pin porcupine. Steven got a pin cut on his hand from the magnet technique. Huxley made it to his Way High Up Perch and went to sleep like the old man he is. Seti was banished to the hallway and cried for several minutes before wandering off due to cat ADHD. And I have subsequently moved all boxes of pins to inside a drawer.




*I am trying to get out of the habit of using the word "epic" for everything. But, really, this WAS sort of epic. I can see it being a brief aside in one of Homer's lesser works. Cyclops vs. the Pin Explosion.

** Okay, that's not really what he said, but I do say that to Seti almost daily.

Writer's Block: Let freedom ring

How do you celebrate Independence Day in your country?


On my planet, we celebrate Independence Day by freeing the entities on less developed planets of the bothersome need to think. You'll just get into trouble if you keep using your minds for things like intolerance and pseudoscience, so from now on, we'll be doing all your thinking for you. And now with our new Orbital Mind Ray 9000 technology, you no longer need painful implants. In fact, many people probably won't even notice that their thoughts are no longer their own.

No, no. No need to thank us. Just save us a hotdog. We may not get around to your planet until much later in the day. Unless we've already been there. You never know.

The TRUE Evil of HDMI Cables

Also titled, "The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To My Cat".


This is a tale which begins while I am attempting to fold laundry. A whole big pile of laundry. It's phew-hot outside, and so I drop it on my bed and then attempt to turn on the TV. I thought I would watch a little random television whilst I folded the clothes. To tell the truth, it's really the only time I watch television that doesn't come from Netflix.

But, the clicker won't click, and despite some on-off-on-off of the television, I can't seem to make it work. "Aha" my 102F addled-brain declares, "We have recently installed an XBOX360. Perhaps something is...unplugged." So, I go over to look for the offending cable, which happens to be the HDMI cable. You know, the ones that cost about $8, but sell for $300 at Best Buy?

Okay, quick diversion.

Not three weeks ago, our house had a minor infestation of fruit flies. The cause turned out to be an orange that had gone a bit ripe. (How can you tell with oranges sometimes, you know? The skin stays orange, but inside it's all ooky-squish-gross.) So, we had fruit flies. And, in order to combat the fruit flies, I bought fly paper. If you've never used fly paper (and I know most of you have), it comes in a little paper roll. You pop one end of it off, pull out the coil of sticky-sticky-sticky paper, and use the included tack to hang it up. It smells nummy to flies, so they land on it and get all stuck and die a horrible gooey death.

I put up several of these around the house to get the errant fruit flies that had not yet died due to orange-removal. One of these strips I put up in our bedroom, next to the television.

I don't know why. I'm a dumbass, I guess.

So, here's me bumbling around, trying to plug in the HDMI cable, when all of a sudden...

*tunk* *hair* *sticky* *hairpull* "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

That's right. I had managed to get my hair stuck to the fly-paper.

So Steven comes running in and says, "Don't move!" I freeze in place, because so far it's only stuck to a few purple strands in front. "Okay, okay, I know how to fix it," he assures me. After prying the sticky-fly-paper off of my head (didn't hurt actually), he ushers me into the kitchen, grabs some olive oil, and has me lean over the sink. My hair gets gooped up with olive oil, and then rinsed out with dishwashing soap.

He does a pretty good job of it. No sticky left at all.

Steven and I laugh over the ordeal, and I feel relieved that my guy knows these sorts of clever things. And, thinking I am all clever too, I say to Steven, "Ah! You know, we don't have fruit flies anymore. We should take these things down before I accidentally do that to myself again."

Because I probably would.

Because if there is a table to bump my knee on, or a sharp thing to step on, or any chance of stubbing my toe, I will. I am, as they say, accident prone.

"Good idea!" Steven declares, and immediately we begin wandering the house, pulling down the six or so flypaper streamers that I've tacked to walls or whatever.

Here's a thing. I bet you didn't know that a streaming piece of curly fly-paper being taken to the trash can, all fluttery and twisty, all shiny and interesting...looks exactly like the BEST CAT TOY EVER.

EVER.

Out of nowhere, our cat Seti leaps...LEAPS across the room to catch this toy. He's a leaper, our Seti. Sometimes, he just stands next to the wall and waits for me to put my hand at progressively higher spots, and then leaps STRAIGHT UP to "catch" my hand's shadow. He can jump from a sitting position to over my head. So, when I say it was an unexpected and epic leaping, I do not much exaggerate.

So, Seti has caught a sticky piece of fly-paper. And it's sticking to his fur more and more by the moment. He quickly goes from, "OMG TOY" to "OMGWTF GET IT OFF". Unfortunately, in such a situation, the cat defies physics by being in the air, all claws, and all sticky flypaper at the same time -- but still unable to be captured by human hands.

This whole time, I am shrieking, "Oh god, Seti...no! NO!" Because I am envisioning him getting it tangled around his throat or taking a nose-dive into something sharp. Or some other fly-paper-induced fate that will forever mark me as the Terrible Person Who Killed The Cat With Fly-Paper. They'll have my picture at PetSmart and refuse to let me pet puppies or coo over baby bunnies. I will be...a Pet Owner Criminal.

When I finally get hold of the cat, I bring him to the sink. Steven and I both wince. Because I've got the cat, that means that Steven has to take off the fly paper. And it's just stuck in one big strip on his chest. We're both yelling and freaking out. The cat is freaking out and trying to climb up my face -- I swear a claw went up my nose. And finally, Steven gets the fly-paper off with alarming skill and seeming not really to hurt Seti all that much or tear very much hair out. In the end, I think that stuff is sticky like syrup, but not exactly like a binding glue.

"What should we do? The only thing I know to do is the thing with the olive oil. We might need to take him to the vet," Steven says.

We decide to try to olive oil, because at worst that's a bit of a laxative, and we decide it is preferable to whatever is in the flypaper goo. (Possibly toxic? Don't know!)

At some point, we trade, and Steven is holding the cat, and I'm washing the olive oil that Steven has applied off of the cat's stomach. And poor...poor Seti. He's given up by then. Just a sad-looking cat having warm water poured onto his tummy and neck, getting a bit soaped with dish-soap, and then having more water and more water again.

When he's finally finished with the emergency-bath, Seti leaps off my shoulder pretty much from the kitchen, THROUGH the dining room, and ends up in the living room. He does that weird leg-shake walk that animals do when something isn't right with their fur or skin, And despite the fetching of a towel and an attempt to towel-dry the cat, he decides he'll march around to show how he totally is above the complete embarrassment of the shenanigans which just occurred.

In the end, of course, everything is fine. Seti is still drying off. My hair is a little oily, but not sticky, and the laundry was finally folded.

Such a series of adventures and events. I can do nothing more than blame it on the evils of the HDMI cable. I THINK THE CABLE WAS PLANNING THIS DISASTER THE WHOLE TIME. So, watch out, people. HDMI cables. Not only are they overpriced, they also want to turn your cat into this:

Subtitle: "This is why we can't have nice things on the internet."

I find religion to be extremely fascinating, if you haven't figured that out already. Pretty much all aspects of it just pique my interest. I like learning about people's beliefs and practices. I enjoy the mythology aspect, the pageantry, the history. I am most wholeheartedly impressed by people who say that religion has made a great difference in their lives -- has transformed them into better people, helped them to grow, or helped them to have personal confidence. It doesn't really matter which religion, as I find them all equally powerful and valid.

I am also interested in the foibles of religion - the dogmatic oppression, fear, anger, and lack of rationality that drives people to completely disregard the golden rules of their religion. I am fascinated by the lengths at which people will go to protect their children from enemy religions, or to prove that their God or Holy Book is the "right" one. Yes, I probably pick on Christians more than most religions, but that's because I live in the United States, and I speak English, and that's the most accessible and prevalent religious group where I am. Basically, there are just more examples of Christians for me to look at, so they get put under the microscope more often.

However, despite both of these things being true, I don't personally care to partake in organized religion. I'm not an atheist, though I find atheists to have many powerful and valid points.* (And they're also pretty funny, usually.) Often, I find most public displays of faith fascinating, bit also a little bit awkward and embarrassing. Seeing them sets off two reactions in me. First, "How fascinating that you are so moved by something that you feel compelled to express this spiritual/emotional surge by doing weird shit in public.**" Second, "Was it necessary to do this in public, or did you just want to show off a way in which you think you might be better than other people?"

All this is a roundabout prelude to bringing up the recent topic of a post by zoethe. She wrote about The Circle of Moms which is having a contest to decide the best "Best Faith-based Blog of a Mom". Apparently, a Pagan woman reached the top spot, and this has angered Christians, who are now getting out the Christian call-trees to try and flood-vote the Christian blogs to the top. Here is a snippet of Christian responses from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom:

    * "Unfortunately, Circle of Moms' top 25 "faith" blogs includes pagans/witches. Since yesterday, the pagan soccer mom's blog has moved from the teens to 2nd place, and there aren't very many votes (relatively speaking) separating 1st (a Christian blog) and 2nd place.Would you guys please help by voting daily till the contest is over? It literally is bringing tears to my eyes to think a pagan blogger could win 1st place in a "Faith Blog" contest. "


    * "Wow, the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms from @CircleofMoms is being overtaken by witches...seriously."


    * "I was SO disturbed to see those...especially the blog of the Pagan (witch) mother with a CHRISTIAN husband!?!?! I just can't understand how a Christian could be married to some-one who practices witchcraft!? Scary. Praying for their children!"


    * "Mixed in with the "faith" blogs are pagan blogs. In fact one of those bloggers, a self-professing witch wrote, "Looking at the nominations there were a couple of pagan blogs which thrilled me to no end. How cool would it be for one of the pagan bloggers to win the top spot?" How sad is that? Different faith is wrong faith. I encourage you to pray against the aggressive attack on Christian faith that is prevalent in our world today."



Truly, it doesn't matter to me who wins. There are some great Christian women out there, and some great Pagan women. But, suddenly this contest (which is supposed to be about "who has the best blog") has turned into "Christians vs. Pagans". And that's just nasty. Here are a plethora of Moms, probably most (or all) of them good people, who have been pushed (probably unwillingly) into this name-calling, threat-swapping religious battle - just because one or two Moms were sore losers or dogmatic idiots. The question of "Who has the best blog?" will not be answered by this poll. Neither will the question of, "Who has the best religion?" In the end, what will come of it will be more bitterness, more misunderstanding, and a tarnished spot on something that should be fairly wholesome: the state of being a Mom***.


I mean, seriously. These are ladies who have Scentsy parties, write blog entries about how cool asparagus is, and post recipes about making play-doh at home. (I skimmed.)


Each side will be vindicated, no matter what the results turn out to be. If the Christians win, they'll believe God is on their side, and the Pagans will have yet more proof of being oppressed. If the Pagans win, it'll be a victory for alternative religious expression, and the Christians will have yet more proof of being oppressed.


And this is why I don't care for outward displays of faith. Because who wins? Who benefits? What is accomplished by proving your god is an awesome god? Will that god or goddess be any less awesome if you refrain from these actions? I would hope that your deity would continue to be just as awesome no matter how many battles you win in his name.


Basically, this sort of shit is the same as the guy who sits on the bus, holding his book in just such a way that you can read the title, and therefore be in awe of the fact that he's reading a really cool book. It's all smoke and mirrors and popularity contests and hubris. But, apparently the human animal is driven towards these petty displays. I guess because the desire to know that you are RIGHT is somehow hardwired in the brain. It means that you are more socially acceptable, even socially superior, and belonging to a powerful social group provides many physical and emotional benefits.


So did I vote, despite feeling kind of disgusted by the whole thing?


Yeah, I voted. I don't think it is the fault of the bloggers, at least not most of them. They just got caught up in something, and by trying to be good people of faith, fueled it. But, more than hating the situation, the handling of it, the hubris, and the inevitable outcome...I hate lopsided popularity contests. The contest was supposed to be about the best blog, and it was the Christians who first decided to make it about something else - proving their God is awesomer by proving there are more Christians to click a voting button.


So, yeah, I voted for the Pagan lady, without having ever read her blog.


I hope she wins. She was already in the lead in the contest and probably deserves it. And anyway, Christians crying about oppression and showing themselves to be poor losers is hilarious.


(And after going back and reading some of Pagan Soccer Mom's entries, I've added her to my google-reader. She's quite well spoken. The lady in second place also seems nice, even if her entries don't speak to me in particular, I can see how they would be quite powerful for other people.)



* I'm more of an apatheist. It's not that I don't think there is a God or gods. It's just that I don't think that the existence or non-existence of a deity should have any bearing on your morality or ethics, and therefore how you live your life. I also believe that mythological beings are important archetypes, and that by invoking them, we can learn and change ourselves. However, the invocation of these deities has really nothing to do with whether they exist or not. Let's put it this way: Is the story of Batman any less powerful or valid if Batman is a fictional character?

**Not that I am opposed to doing weird shit in public, by any means.

***I'm actually being a bit dramatic here. In a few cases, this has caused some Pagan moms and Christian moms to start a more open dialogue. And I approve of that wholeheartedly.

I learned today that my Worst Nightmare concerning the internet is soon come to pass. It's a horror that few people can imagine, and fewer still will sympathize with. I feel as if I am about to be...erased. My digital identity will fall into the crevice of time, finally succumbing to the inevitable march of progress that invariably consumes all things internet. Gopher? Not even remotely relevant. Geocities? Nowhere to be found. ICQ? Gone. Usenet? Barely chugging along somewhere. Having a .plan file? LOLWUT?

IRC?

Oh thank god. It's still there and occasionally being used...by some people. Phew.

And yet, the worst thing to ever happen EVER will occur in less than a month. For, you see...

io.com has been sold.

Why are you laughing? This is no laughing matter. Did you not hear me?

IO.COM HAS BEEN SOLD!



Don't make me whip out the /blink tags.

I first signed up for my io.com account, I believe, in late 1994. I wanted a place to keep THINGS independent of my school account, because I didn't want to get kicked out of school for my online idiocy. It was actually a pretty good idea, considering that I later had my email read and phone tapped by the United States Customs Agency / FBI for some of my (rather tame by today's standards) internet shenanigans. Also, they followed me around in white vans and possibly went through my trash. DO YOU SEE HOW I'M STILL PARANOID BECAUSE OF THIS SHIT? THANKS, US GOVERNMENT, FOR MAKING ME A PARANOID CONSPIRACY-THEORIST WEIRDO JUST BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T GET THAT A WEBSITE CALLED "BLACK MARKET BABIES" WAS A JOKE.

But, I digress into paranoid delusions of internet infamy.

I chose an odd username. "Mindglue". It meant nothing really in particular. Just "sticky gooey things in your brain". But, over the next seventeen years...it was MINE. This random username attached to a short domain name of "io.com" became as essential to my internet-identity as a fingerprint. There was no other. Just me. mindglue@io.com was my email address. Always.

I have seen many things come and go on the internet in seventeen years. I remember the first picture I ever downloaded. It took a good five to ten minutes for a single picture to show up. I retrieved it via gopher on a 2400 baud modem. It was a "live" picture of "Bonfire" being built. (Bonfire is/was a yearly tradition at the school I attended, Texas A&M University wherein the students made a fuckall-huge pile of logs and then set them ablaze. You know, like a bonfire. Except on a massive scale.) And by live, I mean that this state of the art camera took a new picture every fifteen minutes. Every fifteen minutes? INCREDIBLE!

2400 baud? Ancient technology akin to riding an Amish buggy on a MagLev track.

Gopher? Nobody uses gopher anymore -- it was replaced by the magic of the "world wide web".

And there's no longer even an official campus bonfire. A few years later a collapse of the stack would kill twelve students. The university stopped officially supporting the tradition after that.

I remember the first month that Yahoo appeared. There had been web indexes before Yahoo. But, there was something sleek and easy-to-navigate about this site. Back then, Yahoo wasn't a search engine. It was a category-based catalog of websites, each one individually linked to the proper directory. Over the course of just a day or two, I pretty much looked at every directory and every site I thought might be even remotely interesting. I can say, almost definitively, that at one point in the past I really had seen the entire surface-visible world wide web.

I made my first website in 1995. It was a monstrosity of links, and spinning .gifs, and purple divider bars, and personal glorification of my own awesomeness. People used to do this. They made personal websites with a page of their favorite links, music lyrics, some quotes or rants ripped from their old .plan file, and a grainy scanned picture or two of themselves. There were no social networks. No Facebook or Twitter. There wasn't even Livejournal. Just email. And Usenet. And IRC. And MUDs.

I'm not even old. Or really technically savvy. I'm not an elite hax0r or some guy who thought up some protocol. I'm just your typical end-user. I'm just a person who decided this internet thing was for me, and got there as soon as I heard about it. It's been a weird and wonderful journey. I've watched the internet blossom from something used by ubernerds and a few university students into something that's an essential part of our shared reality. I remember a time before .com was more prolific than .edu, .mil, or .gov. I remember the first influx of clueless AOL users.

But, nostalgia doesn't suit the internet. Even though you can visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, when things are gone from the internet, they are gone. When they are replaced by something new or better, the old toy gets abandoned by the side of the road, and eventually just...disappears. How many websites have come and gone? How many email addresses have fallen into oblivion? But, this is the way of things. It is the price paid for progress, for the turbo-speed ZOOM into the future that the internet brings.

And now, io.com has been sold. It's been sold before, but the new owner has always been someone amenable to keeping the old shell accounts and email addresses active for cronies like me who just can't bare to part with this single shining symbol of internet past. I'm sure there are a lot of them out there, these old islands... And a lot of them are far older than mine. But io.com was my place. My home. It's where I've kept all of my internet STUFF for 17 years.

mindglue@io.com was me. And now...it won't be. Now I will be someone new for the first time in almost two decades. I will be mindglue@prismnet.com. Doesn't sound quite as flashy, but... I guess I have no choice but to let go.

Seventeen years.

Seventeen years...a long forever in internet-time.

If I had a child instead of getting an email account, they'd be finishing up high school and preparing for college. I guess this is a little fraction of what it feels like when you watch your kid leave the nest. They aren't yours anymore. Io.com will become a domain for some new company. I'm still part of io.com's past, but... I can't claim it as part of my identity anymore. It's disconcerting. It's almost distressing. And I want to throw a bit of a tantrum and refuse to accept this reality.

But, there's nothing to be done. And I'll get the fuck over it. And the internet will invariably march on, morphing and growing and consuming our lives.

Oh well.

At least I still have you, LiveJournal. For now.

DON'T LEAVE ME, LIVEJOURNAL!!

Huh?

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking recently explained his belief that there is no God and that humans should therefore seek to live the most valuable lives they can while on Earth.

Well, yeah.

I would assume that even if there was a God, He would want us to live the most valuable lives we could while on Earth, regardless of any afterlife.

The only difference here is whether you decide for yourself what qualifies as valuable, or whether you allow God (existent or as institutional dogma) decide.

Writer's Block: Merlin revisited

If you were granted unlimited magic powers for just five minutes, what would you do?


Okay, assuming they are unlimited except for the caveat that I can not extend the time of use, somehow, and can't do any tricks like rearranging human perception of time, slowing the universe, folding or manipulating time, etc...

And assuming my powers are godlike in expanse, to where I am omniscient and omnipotent...

I would elevate all beings to a similar godhood, but on an unlimited basis, on the condition that they elevate me to godhood after my five minutes are up.

Then, I would request that we all shuffle off to build our own separate universes, in the hopes that at least one of us could come up with something less ridiculous and malfunctioning than this one.


Maybe that's what God's been doing for the past few millenia. "Well, this universe is fucked. I think I'll just go build a new one and leave this old one to its own devices." *whistle* *walk away*

No Thanks, I'll Go To Hell.

When I was a wee plinko, I went to church regularly. Frankly, I was a good church-goer, and even talked my atheist mother into attending with me on one or two occasion. (She brought a book to read.) This churching was ladled thick upon me by my Baptist stepmother, and my illogically Baptist, yet Professor of Mathematics, father. I guess math is not a science where a lot of spiritual doubt is introduced. It's easy to believe in God while you're solving for X, maybe not as easy to believe when you're growing human ears on monkey bellies. I really don't know.

I received the requisite churching for a young southern girl. I heard many sermons about Jesus, and tithes, and sin, and hell, and tithes, and faith, and morals, and tithes. Seriously, there was a LOT about the money, which always irked me. I was like ten years old. I generally had no money. But, when I did, I knew I'd get glared at until I put a goodly portion in the plate as it passed. BUT, IT WAS MY MONEY. AND HE WAS GOD. SURELY HE HAD A BETTER SCHEME FOR MAKING MONEY THAN SKIMMING OFF OF MY ONE DOLLAR A WEEK ALLOWANCE?

(In the end, I guess He did need my money. Because that church moved from one of the biggest buildings downtown into this monstosity that I pass every day on the way home from work. Seriously, the picture does not do justice to the opulence of what can only be described as a massive church-campus-complex. Thank goodness for my periodic ten cent contributions to the collection plate, or they might never have finished that thing!)

I can't say I disliked all of the sermons all of the time. Sometimes, we'd get a funny young pastor, or an older, wise gent who'd really give you something deep to think about. But, most of the time, despite trying to pay attention, I'd give up and begin to daydream. Let me tell you, if I learned anything from church, it is how to look extremely enthralled by whatever bullshit someone is spewing while actually thinking of something else. Often, I thought about treehouse plans. But, I also spent a great deal of time figuring out how to securely hide my money so I wouldn't be forced to put it in the collection plate.

(Aside: I ended up burying my money in a random neighbor's yard. A lot of it is probably still there. I hope someday a kid is digging and discovers the massive savings -- five dollars in coins, maybe? -- that I left behind.)

Anyway, I digress from my topic. And that is -- heaven and hell. You see, there's one good, juicy subject that can always keep a ten-year-old's attention in church. And that's hell. Besides the fact that these sermons involved the repeated use of the ache-ee-double-hockey-sticks word, hell sermons were scary to the extreme. To me, anyway. But then, I've never seen any Jason or Nightmare on Elm Street movies, because that sort of thing promoted devil worship. So hell sermons were sort of like horror-movie substitutes. They're designed to scare the crap out of you, on occasion, so that you want to hug Jesus just a little tighter when they're over.

The main thing about hell, if I recall correctly, is that there will be fire. A lake of fire. And all of the sinners will burn in the hottest fire ever conceived, forever and ever. And, of course, because of the fire, there will be screaming. Pathetic screaming, and moaning, and begging of God to forgive your sins and, I guess, take you away from hell.

And you'll be naked, of course. Though I am not sure why that has to be specified, since you're in a lake of fire and your clothes would have probably burnt off, anyway. I also remember that there were a lot of descriptions of how hell smelled -- like burning flesh. But, I'd never smelled burning flesh, only burning hair. So, I figured hell smelled like a cross between a barbecue and what happens when you burn your hair with a curling iron. Hell also smells like poop because everybody is too busy burning in the lake of fire to go find a bathroom.

I remember other things being involved with hell. Like maggots. Maggots would eat you all the time. I'm not sure if the maggots were on fire or not. I guess they'd have to be. Poor maggots. Seems a crap fate when they never really did anything all that bad. Or, maybe they did. Maybe maggots are sinners and make baby Jesus cry.

Also, in hell, you will be crushed as if you were in a black hole, with all of your bones breaking so many times that they become liquid. Your eyes will melt out of your head like in that Indiana Jones scene. Sulfuric acid will be forced down your throat. And you'll end up vomiting out your own innards, but you'll be so hungry, you'll eat them again.

I mean, this is some pretty terrific stuff if you're ten years old. I sure as heck wanted to be on the side of Jesus. Because if you backed Jesus, you got to go to heaven.

Except, nobody would ever tell you anything much about Real Heaven (as opposed to cartoon heaven, where you float on clouds, get fluffy white wings, and play a harp). The only thing they would say about Real Heaven was that you'd be forever basking in the glory of God, that you'd never feel separation from God, and that you'd praise Him eternally. It sounded like a real snooze-fest, but infinitely preferable to hell.

But, I always had some weird problems with Heaven. Like...what if a guy gets married, and then his wife dies, and he gets re-married... In heaven, does he get to be with his first wife, his second wife, or both of his wives? What if his wives each want him for themselves? Then I thought...well, it would be heaven, so there wouldn't be any jealousy or possessiveness. They'd be totally okay with sharing. So, it seemed that heaven would have to be okay with polyamory.

Otherwise, it would have to be that when you get to heaven, you don't actually get reunited with your family and friends. Jesus seems to support this, as he says, "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." So, you get to heaven, no marriage. And, probably no races or sexes. Also, you're apparently given a new body and a new name, according to some sources. And you are completely incapable of committing sin. You can't even do it if you try. So, actually, I guess you don't have any free will in heaven. Not only do you not have any free will, but you have no contact with your loved ones, because Earthly relationships no longer concern you.

So, heaven is like...you get to a fabulous party, but you only know the host. And the host is God. And you will be at this party forever, and there will be a lot of people there, and you can talk to them, but only about God. And how cool God is for throwing this party. There is no drinking at this party, or swearing, or smoking, or streaking, or shagging in the corner, because you are incapable of sinning. And even if you fancied a shag, you have no gender or reproductive organs. You no longer care about anything you cared about as a person, not your family, not your friends, not going fishing at the lake with Fido. In fact, you might as well forget about the whole Earth thing altogether, as that was completely irrelevant to what you will be doing for the rest of eternity.

So...uh...yeah.

I am left wondering, are you really still you in heaven?

So, here is the dilemma:

Do you attempt to go to heaven, where you get to pretty much be formatted into God's robot, without free will, without the knowledge of your earthly loves, without any memories of Earth, without anything that made you into who you are? But God will love you, and you'll love him forever (without the ability to stop loving him, since that would be a sin).

Or do you go to hell -- a place where you experience incredible pain, but you get to continue being yourself, continue knowing that you once, on Earth, had people that you loved, and who loved you? Do you brave the fires, naked, just to retain free will?

Based on this alone, I think I'd choose hell.

In the end, I like to think those of us who choose hell will eventually crawl out of the lake of fire, changed but still ourselves. Us, evolved. What new creatures will have been forged in such a hot and terrifying kiln? I don't know. Wet, slippery, fire-birthed gods, maybe. Or just tiny coals that contain the eternal ember of "soul", ready to be shoved in a body and reincarnated.

Or, maybe there isn't a heaven or hell at all, which is probably the most likely option. Unfortunately, it doesn't make a good enough sermon to scare spare change off a ten-year old on Sundays.

Writer's Block: Children of the sun

How do you think aliens would regard our society? If an alien ship landed in your backyard, would you run away or bring a bundt cake?


My yard is not big enough for alien ships to land in it, unless the ships are pretty small, which would make the aliens quite small... Well, if our version of physics applied to them. And if they were very small, they probably would not need a whole bundt cake. So, I'd give them a cupcake instead. But, maybe that is cruel. Maybe I should not start out by trying to fatten up the aliens and put them on the road to obesity? Why not give them a nice apple? Maybe aliens don't eat food. Crap, I could be poisoning them with my delicious apples. MAYBE SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES IS JUST A CAUTIONARY TALE OF WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HUMANS MALICIOUSLY POISON THE ALIEN QUEEN. THOSE DWARVES ARE JUST ALIEN DRONES, COME TO MINE OUR PLANET'S NATURAL RESOURCES. NEVER TRUST A DWARF!!!!

Things Of Autumn -- A List

Crimson leaves, gold grass
The last carapaces of cicadas

Orange frosting that doesn't taste of oranges.
Ugly windbreakers, garage sales, cozy mornings..

Springtime's preserves on toast.
All sorts of pies. So much pie. Pie until you burst.

Little girls walking to school in pink jackets with hoods
All bright and cheerful on a gray morning.

Semi-professional leaf-crunching.
The skeleton sound of wind through dessicated trees.

Chalkboards, graveyards,
Cinnamon-scented candles.

Ghosts, beer, the past.
Bonfires and sorrow and sleepy church bells.

Wet mold, dry fog, and
Long sighs.

Reply from a Deity

Regarding my previous entry listing a mock-up Craigslist ad/quiz for a potential deity, I received this reply in email.



    Date: Sun, 10 Oct 2010 21:39:57 +0000
    From: OMEGA ...
    To: mindglue@io.com

    GREETINGS, O HUMAN SEEKER.

    I HAVE MANY NAMES. YOU MAY CALL ME OMEGA. I COME FROM A DIMENSION AS FAR BEYOND THE UNIVERSES YOU KNOW AS INFINITY IS BEYOND SIX. I HAVE BEEN LICENSED BY THE INTERMULTIVERSAL ONTOLOGICAL COUNCIL AS OFFICIALLY OMNIPOTENT, OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT, OMNIBENEVOLENT, AND OMNIMETAVERBIANT (OMNIMETAVERBIANT MEANS SATISFYING THE CONDITION THAT FOR ANY IMPRESSIVE WORD BEGINNING WITH THE PREFIX "OMNI-", I AM ACCURATELY DESCRIBED BY SUCH A WORD). AS SUCH I AM LICENSED TO SPEAK IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, TO SIGNIFY MY SUPREMACY OVER OTHER BEINGS.

    I AM AWARE OF YOUR AD SEEKING A DEITY, AS I AM AWARE OF ALL INFORMATION IN YOUR UNIVERSE. IT IS WRITTEN "DO NOT TEST THE LORD YOUR GOD". I AM OMEGA. I AM BEYOND GOD. TESTS ARE AS NOTHING TO ME. AS I RESPECT ALL LIFE, I CHOOSE NOT TO RESPOND IN A FORMAT INVOLVING THE COMBUSTION OF SHRUBBERY. THEREFORE ALL ANSWERS ARE IN WRITTEN FORM, AS FOLLOWS:

    1. ALL MATHEMATICALLY POSSIBLE STRUCTURES ("UNIVERSES") EXIST. THE LEVEL OF THEIR REALITY IS IN PROPORTION TO THE SIMPLICITY OF THE MATHEMATICS BEHIND THEM. YOUR UNIVERSE IS BASED ON APPROXIMATELY TWO KILOBYTES OF INFORMATION DESCRIBING BASIC PHYSICAL LAWS AND CONSTANTS. IT IS ONE OF THE SIMPLEST UNIVERSES CAPABLE OF SUPPORTING INTELLIGENCE. AS AN INTELLIGENT BEING, THERE IS A HIGH PROBABILITY YOU WOULD END UP IN SUCH A UNIVERSE. ALL OTHER UNIVERSES ALSO EXIST, BUT MOST ARE EITHER INCAPABLE OF EVOLVING INTELLIGENT LIFE, OR SO COMPLEX TO HAVE A LOW LEVEL OF REALITY. THUS IT IS WRITTEN THAT THE REASON THE MOON IS ROUND IS BECAUSE IF IT WERE SQUARE, YOU WOULD NOT BE YOURSELF; YOU WOULD BE A PERSON SIMILAR TO YOURSELF EXCEPT THAT SHE LIVES IN A UNIVERSE WITH A SQUARE MOON. FROM THIS CAN BE DERIVED THE GENERIC ANSWER TO ALL QUESTIONS "WHY X RATHER THAN Y?"

    2. THE ITEM "BAD THINGS HAPPENING TO GOOD PEOPLE" IS AN ELEMENT OF THE SET "EVERYTHING"; THIS IS FULLY EXPLAINED ABOVE. IF YOU WONDER WHY I HAVE NOT PREVENTED THIS, THE ANSWER IS THAT I HAVE PREVENTED IT, BUT THE UNIVERSE IN WHICH I HAVE PREVENTED IT IS A DIFFERENT UNIVERSE THAN YOUR OWN, AND YOU DO NOT LIVE IN IT. BECAUSE ALL POSSIBLE UNIVERSES EXIST, I CANNOT ARRANGE THAT THERE NOT EXIST A UNIVERSE IN WHICH I HAVE NOT PREVENTED BAD THINGS. I CAN ONLY ACT TO MINIMIZE THE NUMBER OF SUCH UNIVERSES. IF IT HELPS, I AM SORRY.

    3. I WOULD LIKE IT IF YOU TREATED EACH OTHER NICELY.


    4. BECAUSE ALL INSTANTIATIONS OF THE SAME CONSCIOUS ALGORITHM ARE IDENTICAL, AND BECAUSE ALL POSSIBLE UNIVERSES EXIST, FOR EVERY UNIVERSE WHERE YOU REACH POINT X AND DIE, THERE IS ANOTHER UNIVERSE EXACTLY IDENTICAL UP TO POINT X, WHICH CONTAINS YOU SURVIVING AFTERWARD. BECAUSE YOUR ORIGINAL CONSCIOUSNESS IS DIVIDED AMONG THE ALGORITHMS IN BOTH UNIVERSES, IT SIMPLY LEAVES THE FIRST UNIVERSE AND CONCENTRATES IN THE SECOND. THEREFORE, "DEATH" CAN ONLY BE EXPERIENCED IN THE THIRD PERSON. YOU WILL NEVER DIE. NO AFTERLIFE IS NECESSARY.

    5. I AM WITHOUT NEMESIS.

    6. I AM WITHOUT MATE.

    7. PLEASE CONSIDER BEING NICER TO OTHER PEOPLE. IT WOULD REALLY MAKE YOUR WHOLE UNIVERSE MUCH MORE PLEASANT. BEYOND THAT, STAY AWAY FROM ANY ATTEMPT TO EXTRACT USABLE ENERGY FROM THE SCHWARZSCHILD RADIUS OF A BLACK HOLE. THIS DOES NOT SOUND SO IMPORTANT NOW, BUT IN ABOUT FIFTY YEARS THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE LEFT WILL WISH YOU HAD PAID MORE ATTENTION.

    8. I HAVE NO GENDER. HOWEVER, I ENDORSE GIRLS. GIRLS ARE PRETTY.

    9. I HAVE NO RACE. MY FAVORITE RACE OF YOUR PEOPLE IS THE PERUVIANS. I LIKE PIPE MUSIC. HOWEVER, THIS PREFERENCE DOES NOT LICENSE PERUVIANS TO RULE OVER OTHERS.

    10. PLEASE SEE THE ANSWER TO QUESTION 4. A BETTER QUESTION MIGHT BE HOW TO AVOID INFINITE INSTANTIATION INTO EVER MORE UNLIKELY UNIVERSES. THIS IS DIFFICULT AND REQUIRES COMPLETE OBLITERATION OF YOUR CONSCIOUS ALGORITHM. SEVERAL OF THE MEDITATION PRACTICES DEVELOPED ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF YOUR WORLD CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS.

    11. THERE ARE EIGHT TIMES TEN TO THE POWER OF SIXTEEN DIFFERENT PLANETS BEARING SENTIENT LIFE IN YOUR UNIVERSE. MOST OF THE MORE ADVANCED FORMS AVOID THE MORE PRIMITIVE FORMS ON THE BASIS OF A PHILOSOPHY APPROACHING A COMPLEX MATHEMATICAL FORMALIZATION OF THE GOLDEN RULE. ONCE YOUR SPECIES DEVELOPS THE FIRST DEGREE OF OMNIPOTENCE, THEY WILL MAKE CONTACT. THIS WILL OCCUR IN 2069, AS LONG AS YOU AVOID ATTEMPTS TO EXTRACT ENERGY FROM THE SCHWARZSCHILD RADIUS OF BLACK HOLES.

    12. YOUR SPECIES WILL ATTAIN THE FIRST DEGREE OF OMNIPOTENCE ON MAY 23 2069 AT 4:19:30 PM GMT. IT WILL ATTAIN THE SECOND DEGREE OF OMNIPOTENCE ON MAY 23 2069 AT 4:19:36 PM GMT. TWELVE MILLION YEARS OF SUBJECTIVE TIME WILL HAVE PASSED FOR MOST MEMBERS OF YOUR SPECIES BETWEEN THOSE TWO EVENTS. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND DEGREES OF OMNIPOTENCE CAN ONLY BE UNDERSTOOD BY LIFE-FORMS WITH AN IQ OF GREATER THAN FOUR TIMES TEN TO THE POWER OF SIXTEEN. I MYSELF HAVE OBTAINED THE TWENTY-EIGHTH DEGREE OF OMNIPOTENCE.

    13. BECAUSE THERE ARE A COUNTABLY INFINITE NUMBER OF BEINGS AT THE TWENTIETH LEVEL OF OMNIPOTENCE OR GREATER, AND AN UNCOUNTABLY INFINITE NUMBER OF UNIVERSES, EACH SUCH BEING HAS SEVERAL INFINITIES OF UNIVERSES TO CARE FOR. THEREFORE, I AM UNABLE TO PAY AS MUCH ATTENTION TO YOUR UNIVERSE AS WOULD BE OPTIMAL, THOUGH I CAN TAKE ACTIONS THAT SEEM LIKELY TO AFFECT THE LARGEST NUMBER OF UNIVERSES IN THE MOST POSITIVE WAY. I CARE ABOUT YOUR UNIVERSE, AND WOULD LIKE YOUR SPECIES AND THE EIGHT TIMES TEN TO THE POWER OF SIXTEEN OTHER SENTIENT SPECIES TO REACH LEVELS FREE OF SUFFERING AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. I FREQUENTLY TAKE ACTIONS TO PROMOTE THIS GOAL. ONE SUCH ACTION WAS ARRANGING YOUR BIRTH AND CAUSING YOU TO WRITE A TEST FOR ME SO I MIGHT REVEAL MYSELF UNTO YOU. ANOTHER SUCH ACTION WAS INSPIRING THE FORMATION OF THE IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY IN 1142. A LARGE PROPORTION OF UNIVERSES SIMILAR TO YOURS ARE DOMINATED BY THE IROQUOIS. THESE UNIVERSES ARE NICE PLACES. SEVERAL OF THE VERSIONS OF YOU IN SUCH UNIVERSES ARE EXTREMELY HAPPY, AND I AM SORRY AT LEAST ONE VERSION OF YOU HAD TO BE YOURSELF RATHER THAN THEM.

    14. I AM BLAMELESS IN THIS RESPECT.

    15. YOU DO NOT HAVE A QUESTION IN MIND HERE. YOU ARE USING THIS QUESTION AS A JOKE TO SUGGEST THAT A BEING WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF OMNIPOTENCE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO USE TELEPATHY.

    THE ANSWER TO THE EXTRA CREDIT IS IDENTICAL TO THE ANSWER TO THE FIRST QUESTION.

    IF YOU ACCEPT ME AS YOUR SUPREME BEING, PLEASE SERVE ME BY BEING NICE TO OTHER PEOPLE, LEADING THE TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS OF YOUR SPECIES TOWARD THE FIRST DEGREE OF OMNIPOTENCE, AND TAKING ALL POSSIBLE EFFORTS TO PREVENT HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION WITH EXTRACTING ENERGY FROM THE SCHWARZSCHILD RADIUS OF BLACK HOLES. OTHER SERVICES WILL NOT BE NECESSARY.


Dear Omega,

According to your list of requests, I apparently already worship you.

Well, except that part about black holes. We're all blasphemers in our own way, I guess.

Plinko

Sunday Morning Agnostic Sermon

I find it strange that many Atheists decide the Bible's inclusion of silliness and lack of cohesion is an argument for all non-existence of deities. It might be an argument for the Christian God not existing. Or at least, I think it is a good argument for the Christian God being improbable and a bit juvenile. But, it doesn't mean that a God does not exist at all.

Second, just because a God is improbable does not mean that the Bible lacks all worth. I mean, Hogwarts is improbable, but that doesn't mean the entire Harry Potter series shouldn't be loved. The society in Orwell's 1984 doesn't exist, but should we let that keep the book from teaching us and enlightening us?

I really don't know if there is a One God. One God above all gods who is omniscient and omnipresent. One God who loves us and wishes the best for us. My mind tends to think of all gods as being useful human composites for our fears, our desires, our hopes and needs. But, just because we probably just form these gods in our minds doesn't mean that they are bereft of value. We think up all sorts of wonderful things -- beautiful art, moving songs, enlightening books. I'm pretty sure all major religions teach us something about ourselves and our world. When that is the case, which religion is Right about All This Stuff may be completely irrelevant.

But, a One God? I don't know. Maybe I should put out an ad on Craigslist:

    Humanoid on planet Earth seeks mega-deity akin to the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God, but less hokey. You must be completely omniscient and omnipresent, everlasting and everbeing. Please fill out the following questionnaire and return it to me via email. Or, if you prefer, via a burning piece of shrubbery or lightning-etched rock tablets. Please, no creepers or weirdos. Demigods need not apply, and mad elder gods are Right Out.

    Questionnaire:

    1) Please explain everything. You may use your own paper if you run out of room on this form.

    2) Why do bad things happen to good people, and vice-versa? Show your math.

    3) Do you have a plan for us? Do you have hopes for us? Do you care if we do good or bad things to our planet, and our neighbors? Do you care about anything?

    4) Please provide pictures of any possible afterlife you endorse or provide.

    5) Do you have a Nemesis? If so, aren't they also You, so...why are you fighting with yourself? Does this mean you are insane?

    6) Do you have a Mate? If so, aren't they also You? So isn't your Mate just a little masturbatory?

    7) Please list any laws you would have us follow.

    8) Do you have a gender? Is it male or female or something else? Do you endorse males or females more over the other? If so, why. If not, why make genders at all, or allow men to (for so long) oppress women?

    9) Same question as above, but about race.

    10) What are the prerequisites for entering your form of afterlife?

    11) Are there lifeforms on other planets, and are they your children too? If so, can we meet them?

    12) Please provide a brief outline of the next 100 years. Extra credit if this is extended to 1000 years.

    13) Do you care about us? If so, show your work.

    14) Did you have any hand in the universe's creation?

    15) Essay question -- use telepathy to access this question from my brain, and telepathy to answer it to my satisfaction.

    Extra Credit: In 100 words or less, explain Why.


    Best of luck in proving you are the One God. If you get the job, benefits include: my worship and undying devotion, donuts whenever you call them into being, and promotion of your miracles. You will be working with a young species, willing to move forward in enlightenment. Must be able to travel faster than the speed of light, receive millions of prayers a day, and show endless compassion for all creatures. You should also have decent hygiene, because nobody loves a slimy, smelly, million-tentacled God.

    No dental coverage provided.
If you could change the title of one published book, which book would you choose, and what would the new title be?


I would change the name of the "Bible" to "Legs". Just because I think it would be hilarious for preachers to say, "Let us open our Legs to Matthew," or "Let us open our Legs to Romans."

Whee.

Linknoodles. I put some good stuff in there today. Especially the photoblog of gay people getting married. I can't believe anyone would think that photoblog is anything but sweet.