I’m not just not a morning person, I’m an anti-morning person. I’m half asleep almost every time I get dressed. My body runs an automatic process, a program called “get dressed,” yours probably does too, even if you are a morning person. The entire program can run while I am not so much awake, it can run while I’m thinking of other things, it can run without me fully realizing it’s running.

I could make the the whole thing difficult. I could decide some night that I wasn’t going to run the “get dressed” program the next morning. I could decide to reinvent, as much as possible, the entire getting dressed ritual. I could spend hours getting dressed. I could do all that, but what would it accomplish? The program works, the easy thing suffices.

I like to do the easy thing. There are heroic souls (or those who like to pose as heroes) who are fond of saying “do the hard thing” or “challenge yourself,” or, my personal favorite, “there’s no such thing as problems, only opportunities” (that last one especially pisses me off, but let’s save if for another time).

But the easy things work. Automatic processes allow us to do the things we need to regularly do without learning a new skill every time we do it. And if you think it’d be fun to not run a “get dressed” program and do it a different way every time, go help a family with a toddler or two, tell them you will get the kids dressed and ready to leave whenever they go somewhere. No, the automatic processes are crucial.

Sometimes though a more interesting challenge than “get dressed” comes along. You might be given a chance to show that you aren’t bothered by those who oppose you. And maybe the offer would be easy to duck. You could simply refuse the offer and there would be no dishonor, no repercussions. Sometimes the correct answer is indeed “no.” But sometimes the thing to do is to accept.

You might end up better off if you accept and meet the challenge head on. Maybe you don’t utterly destroy every one of  your foes, because you don’t live in an adventure movie, but you emerge better  nonetheless. Sometimes the difficult thing is the right thing to do.

So how do you know when it’s right to ignore a challenge and when it’s right to meet it? That’s a challenge in itself. I won’t claim to be able to tell you and I’d be leery of those who would.

rambling / 25 April 2016

My anti-theism was born out of an innate anti-authoritarianism and the 2 really can’t be separated. Basically I’m anti-theism because I’m anti-slavery. I know atheists who subscribe to authoritarian political or cultural ideologies and it boggles my mind, especially if they were ever involved in religion. Why on Earth they would ditch one master to turn around and kneel down to another is confusing to say the least.

I’m virulently anti-dogma. If a proposition must be believed for no other reason than that it must be believed, or we all just believe it, then I’m opposed. Religious, Political, down to what kind of music is best, to which burger is really the only one in town, if it’s just what must be believed then it’s out.

Anyone who is fine with violence in support of their ideas is a thug and their ideas don’t deserve further consideration.

The idea that you get back from the universe what you give is a load of shit. What it leads to is people blaming themselves and others blaming them for their own misfortune whether or not they had any hand in it. What you end up with is a new age believer dying of some illness while her friends accuse her of causing it through some lack of positivity. It’s the whole belief in sin, which is another load of shit, just dressed up in hippy clothes.

The kite was way up there, higher than I expected.

H and I were kicking a soccer ball around in my parents’ front yard. I’d taken over the soccer play from my Dad, who’d taken over for my Mom. H was at the south end of the house and could see Katie and lil A back behind the house near the shed. Katie yelled to H to ask if he wanted to help fly the kite.

After H beat me at his soccer type game he’d put together (you got a point if you kicked it past the tree the other player was guarding), he ran back towards the fields behind the house. I followed.

I rounded the corner to see H standing on the propane tank looking up towards the trees. There above the trees fluttered the red kite. It was a $6 model picked up at a Wal Mart. It had an artist’s color rendering of the Red Baron’s plane on the underneath. 2 long black tails fluttered behind the rows of black iron crosses on each of the 3 wings pictured.

A stood by Katie, holding the string. They were flying it together. I walked back toward them, H jumped down off the gas tank and headed back there too.

We stood there for a long while watching the kite. It was a pleasant and windy spring day, perfect for kite flying. H took over for Katie and quickly picked up on when to reel string in or let it out, and how to steer the kite to keep it aloft.

After awhile A decided to play in PaPa’s truck, then when Dad came out by the water hydrant, he ran to play with the water hose with his PaPa. H ran around some and climbed back on the gas tank. When A headed toward the house and told me he was going back inside I followed him. Katie stayed outside, flying her Red Baron kite.

Took a pretty good walk today through the neighborhood, it’s a nice day so it’s a good day for it. Managed to break a sweat, first one of the season, Summer is coming. Soon I’ll be sweaty 24/7.

There was a sweet old Ford pickup parked on the top of one of the neighborhood hills. It was an off-white cream color, late 60s or maybe early 70s, beautifully maintained and/or restored. A couple of bags of mulch lay in the bed.

It’d be a nice one to ride around in on a sunny afternoon with the windows down. I learned a hard lesson decades ago about old vehicles though: a nice one to ride around in on a sunny afternoon with the windows down is a horrible one to look out the window at and wonder why it isn’t running and what it’ll take to get it going again.

It’s now late afternoon. H is out in the sunroom watching a Scooby Doo movie, lil’ A is upstairs taking a much needed nap, and Katie is working on a piece of professional writing. I’m in the basement with the light of a laptop, a little table lamp, and a couple of Blatz beer signs. Other than a stray sound now and again from upstairs there’s only the ticking of the personalized gift clock I received one year from my employer.

Tonight is Saturday so we’ll be horror movie and anime-ing. I think here in just a few minutes it’ll be time for a beer-ing, maybe right after I hit publish. Bye.

confrontationally confronting injustice with Ashcroft

In the 2000 race for Senator from the State of Missouri John Ashcroft was defeated by the recently deceased Mel Carnahan. And then the newly elected President George Bush fingered Ashcroft for U.S. Attorney General.

He went on, as Attorney General, to put curtains over a statue of Justice and her statue boob, prosecute the war on people drugs with the tenacity of a tweaking Assemblies of God preacher, and hawk the Patriot Act as if he personally was gonna get a look in your hot aunt’s nighttime windows.

I thought to myself, “Self, he sure is a shitty Attorney General, bet they’ll be hard pressed to name one worse.” Then Bush was reelected, Ashcroft stepped down, and Alberto Gonzales got the nod.

Ashcroft said in his handwritten letter of resignation to George Bush that: “The objective of securing the safety of the Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.” In light of that I don’t know why another Attorney General, much less Gonzales, had to be named at all. In any case though, those words from Ashcroft are a comfort. In fact I’m sure they are nothing less than a healing balm to those who have been affected by crime and terror since then.

And if crime or terror does ever threaten an American you can rest assured that John Ashcroft will be there to make them secure, in his current role as a strategic consultant.

Katie told me about this Facebook friend of hers who was in a car wreck years ago. Every year on the anniversary of the wreck he posts the story, including photos.

I don’t have all the gory, yes gory, details, but the incident occurred on a  highway. Something happened with a trailer that was in traffic ahead of the storyteller and a passenger, resulting in a long hunk of metal lodging in the storyteller and a passenger. Emergency medical techs had to cut the piece of metal apart before pulling the 2 from the car.

They both lived.

The storyteller posted pictures from the emergency room of his back with a huge gray piece of metal coming out of it. He had to have his spleen removed and spent 10 days in the hospital.

At about this point in the story I made to leave the room. I told my wife, with as much laughter as I could muster, that she had to shut up. She was planning to continue with more details but I had to stop, especially after that photo, goddamn.

She responded that I watch gory movies. Which is a good point. I can watch all kind of mayhem in movies, and I can read horror stories till the vampire cows come home. I told her that I can handle that because it’s fiction. When a movie actor lobs an ax into another actor’s head, in a movie, or stabs another actor with a huge antique candlestick, in a movie, I feel pretty certain that no real violence was done, the whole thing is a setup, no harm no foul.

But tell me the story of someone’s serious illness, or gruesome injury, meant to be believed. I’ll go pasty and weak. And it’s the telling mind you, not the actuality. When I’ve witnessed injuries, blood or not, I’ve been fine. When I myself get sick or hurt, I’m fairly stoic. But tell me the story and I am a pitiful audience.

I approach reading about atrocities or ridiculous opinions and assertions in a peculiar manner, I might try a smiliar trick with tales of injury and disease. It’s complicated so follow along:

I tell myself it’s a put-on.

To get through the entire narrative I step back and take an ironic stance. Afterward I tell myself that it was all true and so continue to maintain, hopefully, a fairly accurate sense of what, at least, was intended to be believed and what wasn’t.

It works for the most part, if I’m prepared. If something is sprung on me I may not react as I might like. But if I read, listen to, or watch something I find distasteful, and I dial it up myself or otherwise see it coming, I do OK. So I’m like a zen master but not a ninja, or maybe just an inconsistent bullshitter. But if the bullshit works…

I was thinking about political stances, opinions, beliefs, and how they are often held dogmatically and emotionally, and even if quietly, on the edge of fanaticism. I was thinking about how they are held and expressed not in the style of reason, but in the style of religion.

Many political stances are expressed in the language of realities but are not based in reality at all, or on some small bit of some reality (perhaps personal realities) in any case. Instead, while political stances are expressed as truths they are often wishes. And political phenomena which one might accept wholeheartedly, are not real things, but phantoms.

And reversing our line of thought, how is it like religious belief? I’d argue it is similar if not identical to religious thought. Religious terms and phenomena are regularly spoken of as realities only to fall apart the moment they’re poked? Or to frequently elicit offense and anger in the one who holds them?

Concepts like “god” and “sin” and “miracles” sit alongside concepts like “free markets”and “privilege” and “patriarchy.” Believers toss them about as obvious realities but they turn into mystical vagueries or uncontestable dogmas when the odd eyebrow is raised.

Political and religious opinions are fine and I’m a big fan of thought experiments and metaphor. The problem arises when we mistake our thoughts and metaphors for reality, our map for the territory so to speak. It’s difficult but important to know and then to remember where our ideas came from, what they’re for, and how far they can be carried.