Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Friday, December 24, 2004

On holiday cheer

Merry Christmas, to one and all. I hope you have a wonderful time with y'alls families, immediate or extended. If you are a Christian, take time to actually acknowledge the reason for the holiday, and not just in church. If you aren't a Christian, thank the first Christian you meet because, without Christians, you wouldn't be getting to celibrate this holiday. You would be celebrating A holiday, but, it wouldn't involve as much shopping or receiving of presents. Mostly, it would just involve drinking.

Pray for me, please, for I have to deal with my stupid worthless, er, family over the next week.

yay for me.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

On Authority

There is a bumper sticker out there that reads "Question Authority". Hm. How...bumber-sticker-ish. What, exactly, are we to question authority about? And for what reasons? And should we ALWAYS question authority?

Another interesting thing to consider about that bumper sticker is that it is an arguement that commits suicide. If we are to question authority, on whose authority are we to take that advice? The person who came up with the idea of questioning authority is, in their minds, an authority. So, we should question the validity of them asking us to question authority. So, an authority tells us to question authority, presumably to hold the authority accountable, yet, I doubt that the authority on the bumper sticker really wants to be questioned about their authority to tell me to question authority.

Lost yet? Me too. The problem with bumper-sticker philosophy is that it seems reasonable at first, but then, when you actually delve into it, it doesn't make any sense anymore. But, that's not why I called this meeting.

The "Question Authority" bumper sticker gets it half-right, and half-wrong, all at the same time. We SHOULD question authority, if for no other reason, because the authority usually has the answers. That's (usually) why the authority is the authority. Because the authority knows something we don't. And that, frankly, is the way it should be.

For those of you who have dealt with me over the past year or so, from other sites, you probably have noticed that I can converse, relatively intelligently, on quite a variety of subjects. This is NOT the result of me being an authority on any one topic, because, frankly, I'm not. But, I've questioned authorities on so many different topics that I have learned a lot about many things, simply because I've taken the time to ask the questions of the people who know more than I do. I questioned authority. And got answers.

Now, the reason why so many people want to "question" authority is that they feel they have a right to know everything about everything. Want to know what our plans are for Iraq? Bug the living snot out of the President, the Secretary of Defense, and anyone else who has ever thought about serving in the White House. Want to know where we are sending our troops? Bug the same people. Want to know how to smuggle a nuclear weapon into the US? Ask a reporter. They'll happily tell you. (Tom Clancy actually smuggled something similar to a nuclear weapon into the US, to see if it could be done. It could. He wasn't happy about that. You can read about that in The Sum of All Fears.)

People's favorite authority to question is God. Why does God allow good people to die? Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people, and vice-versa? Why does He have all these stupid rules that kill our fun? Why, why, WHY?! Because He's God, dammit. He knows things we don't know, nor should we. If we knew everything that God knew, we would be God ourselves, wouldn't we?

I personally am sick and tired of people thinking that they have a right to have their questions answered. Sorry, I should revise that. There are many people who think that they have to have their questions answered, to THEIR satisfaction. ALL questions are answered, every time they are asked. But, do we like the answer? For instance, "no" is a perfectly good answer to the question "Am I going to Heaven?". It may not be the answer the person likes, but it is the answer. No one has a right to have all their questions answered to their liking.

An excellent science fiction book about this idea is John Dalmas' book The Lizard Wars. One of the central themes of the book is the idea that Life (or God, if you are a Christian. John seems to avoid all mentions of God) will give you the answers you NEED in life, not the answers you want. If you need the answer, God will give it to you, without the question even being asked. If you don't need the answer, God won't give it to you, because you don't need it. I read The Lizard Wars years ago, before I became a Christian, but, that philosophy has stuck with me. In fact, it only really became ingrained in my brain cavity group after I became a Christian. I noticed that, every time I needed to know something, somehow, I found out about it before the critical decision-making moment. If I didn't need to know it, I usually found out AFTER the decision was made. Yet, most of my decisions made without ALL the facts turned out okay, while the decisions I made ignoring the facts I already had turned out poorly. Try it sometime. You'll be amazed.

Friday, December 17, 2004

On warnings

I hope to have a post up tommorrow. It will probably be a long one, and might get some people riled up. Or, it might not.

I would post it tonight, but, I'm tired, and sleepy, and want to recharge my mental reserves before I undertake the mental endeavor that I have planned.

Thinking makes my head hurt.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

On wishful thinking

I've been thinking about how to word this post for about 4 days, now. I can't come up with a good way, so, I'll try the direct way.

Every December, Dr. James Dobson's Focus On The Family radio program does reruns of the most popular programs of the year. They base this on listener feedback, and on hits to their web-page. Well, this week, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, they did a rerun of a program I had sadly forgotten about. I heard the programs one of the other times it ran, and was powerfully moved by them. Crying, weeping, and on-my-knees-praying moved. (okay, I was driving when I heard it, so I wasn't on my knees...but, I would have been if I could have been.) It was that powerful. And I have a heart of stone.

If you are a Christian, I beg you to listen to all three programs. If you aren't, I ask that you listen anyway. I don't want you to listen to it to be evangelized, but to listen to it to see how time, and faith, can change a man. All three programs, run back-to-back, will take up about 1 1/2 hours of time. It is worth it.

Oh, the program? The name of it is Son of Hope. It's an interview with David Berkowitz. The Son of Sam. I'm not smart enough to figure out how to link directly to each program, so, the link takes you to the Focus On The Family page where the program is archived. The episodes are in reverse order, so, listen to Part One, the third one listed, first.

One day, I hope to have as faith as strong as David.

On futility

Okay, as some of you know, I withdrew my membership from the Presbyterian Church last month, due to some stances that the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly had taken, regarding Israel. Two of the pastors at my former church have been trying to talk me out of it. Yesterday, I talked, face-to-face, with the Christian Education pastor. She was faced with an impossible task: talking me into coming back to the church.

Now, it was a rather pleasant conversation, since the two of us agree on how assinine PC(USA)'s stances on Israel are. (She's a former Republican state assemblyman) She did try to talk me into coming back by pointing out that the General Assembly speaks TO the churches, not FOR them. But, I then countered with the arguement that the representatives to the General Assembly are chosen by the Presbyterys (the next-lower level of church government), which sends the representatives based on the representatives sent by the churches to the Presbytery. So, the General Assembly is composed of representatives that purportedly represent the views of the local churches. Much like the Senate and House are representatives sent by the states. She agreed, and told me that the conservative Presbyterians have been somewhat remiss in exercising their voices in PC(USA). She also felt, that if there was a schism in PC(USA), that my former church would be one of the churches that split off from PC(USA). I told her that I think she might have a rather more optimistic view of her church than I did. You see, I had actually talked to many of the members, outside of a church setting, and I was appalled at the liberal, ignore-the-parts-of-the-Bible-you-don't-like attitudes of many of the church members. I have heard MANY members openly advocate ordaining openly gay clergy, and endorsing gay marriage. Far too many for my tastes. Also, I know that many of the members are VERY pro-abortion. So, I'm not nearly as optimistic as she is.

Another problem I brought up to her was the fact that any church my mother felt comfortable attending isn't a church I want to attend. You see, publically, my mother is a faithful Christian. In private, though, she is an unabashed atheist. My mother will cheerfully say whatever she thinks the person she is talking to wants to hear, except for me. Me, she tends to let her hair down and say what's really on her mind. She still lies to me, but, she lies more closely to what she is thinking than with other people. So, I actually know what her thoughts on church are. She attends church because, and I quote, "I like the ritual." This from a woman who HATES the RCC with a passion, but, attends church for the very motivation the RCC advocates: ritual. She is also a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and sees no problem with that. So, if my mother feels comfortable attending the church, there is something seriously wrong with the message the church is delivering. Seriously, tragically, and horribly wrong. To give you an idea, my mother was offended when one of our pastors told a joke about prayer in school...because that was a violation of the seperation of church and state. True story. And she feels comfortable in that church.

So, in summation, Pastor Sue left knowing that I wasn't going to come back, without some serious changes at the church. We were polite to each other, and we had a great conversation about theology and world events, but, she's just one person out of many at that church.

I also told her that I am not a person who, upon joining an organisation, immediately tries to change that organisation to what I feel it should be. If an organisation doesn't match my beliefs, at least within a reasonable margin of error, I'm not going to waste my time belonging to that organisation. I have never understood the mentality of joining an organisation that one disagrees with, and then, trying to get that organisation to agree. I know the LLL's have been doing that for years, but, do I really want to copy their tactics? In the end, they destroy the organisation they wanted to control, and therefore, destroy the target of their takeover. Seems self-defeating to me.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

On Promises

I promise I will have something substantial up on Sunday. I promise, cross my heart, and hope to die, promise.

My week was, well, tiring. From Tuesday to Thursday, I hit my 40 hours. Add on the 11 hour day on Monday, and, come Friday, I didn't have a whole lot of hours left to work. Stupid DOT regulations. So, Friday came, and was supposed to be a short day. Well, it was, but not for the reason I thought it was. You see, I still had my route to do, but not enough hours to complete it. So, the supervisor on duty pulled some strings, and had someone help me, so I could at least TRY and get my route done in time. Well, that didn't work out so well. Well, it would have, if my tailgate hadn't opened up at a stop. If you didn't know, garbage trucks are unloaded from the rear, via a swing-up tailgate. Now, when that tailgate opens, garbage will come pouring out...good if you are at the landfill, not so good if you are on a county highway, in front of a customer's house. Well, my tailgate decided on the not-so-good option. So, after about two hours of waiting for a supervisor to show up, to help close the tailgate, and carefully driving the truck back to the shop, to dump in our transfer station, I didn't have quite so many hours left to work. It wasn't even worth my time to try and drive out to my route to see what I could finish in the time allotted, since I would get out there just in time to turn around and come back. So, home I went.

I was going to take a short nap when I got home. About 4PM, I lay down for my nap, and woke up at 8....AM, the following day. Methinks I was a touch tuckered out.

One of the things I'm going to be posting on tommorrow is one of my (former) pastor's attempt to get me to go back to the church...I felt sorry for her. I really did. No one should have to face such an impossible task.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

On Sudden Attacks of Reality

Okay, here's my first football post of this season. I don't really have much else to say, so I thought I'd throw something up here about my Green Bay Slackers Packers.

After the Packers got off to a 1-4 start, I started telling all and sundry that the Packers would be lucky to win 8 games all year. Now, after a 6-0 run, I still stand by that. During those 6 games, the Packers didn't play a team with a winning record...not one. So, the Packers managed to (barely) score more points than teams that had problems scoring more points than their opponents...big deal. Now, a W is a W, but the Packers were struggling against LOSING teams...and needed some late-game heroics to win several of those games. The offense was scoring, nearly at will, against defenses that would have had a hard time stopping me, but the defense was a speed bump. It only slowed the other team's offense down, it didn't really stop them.

Today, the Packers played a REAL team, the Filthedelphia Eagles. And got CRUSHED. Badly. The game wasn't as close as the score indicated. The score was 47-17, but the Packers scored their final 14 points in the last couple of minutes of the 4th quarter, when the backups to the backups were playing...it was like a preseason game. So, after a 6-0 run, against losing teams, the Packers got crushed again, by a team with a winning record. The Packers, fortunately, have three more games against NFC North teams, so they should get at least two more wins, but I will venture a guess, and say that those will be the ONLY two wins the Packers get for the rest of the season...leaving the Packers with a 9-7 record, and they should feel grateful if they get THAT many wins.

On the Fantasy Football front, I just locked up my division today. Well, not really locked up, because my opponent has two players in tommorrow nights game (Eddie George and Josh Brown), but he needs 50 points out of the 2 of them to beat me. So, for the first time in 7+ years in this league, I will win my division. I won't have first round bye in the playoffs, because I am the best team out of a REALLY BAD division, but, hey, I'll take my victories (and $50...) where I can get them.

I do have to say, as a Falcons fan (no longer in hiding...), it does my heart good to see the Falcons leading their division and the '49ers stinking up the football field. Now, I have ZERO hope of the Falcons making it to the Super Bowl, but at least they made it to the playoffs...that doesn't happen often to my Falcons. And have I mentioned I HATEHATEHATE the '49ers? Because, if I haven't, I HATEHATEHATE the '49ers. That 1-12, or 2-11 record, or whatever miserable record they have, does my little heart good.

On the college front, my Beloved Bucky Badger better get his act together, and most quickly. Bucky plays the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl, on January 1st...and the only team to beat Bucky in a bowl game during the Alvarez years was the Georgia Bulldogs...in the Outback Bowl, on January 1st. Bucky got off to a fantastic start this year, and then, seemed to forget what game they were playing. After getting off to a 9-0 start, Bucky had his traditional late-season collapse, but did it two games in a row, for a record of 9-2. Miserable. Perfectly miserable. To rub salt in the wounds, Bucky's second collapse was against the hated Iowa Fred Flinstones Hawkeyes. (We call them the "Fred Flinstones" because of the Hawkeye's resemblance to Fred, if you turn the head 90 degrees clockwise...do it sometime, and tell me you don't see him...) The only team in the Big 10 that Bucky hates more than the Fred Flinstones Hawkeyes is the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Fun trivia fact for the day: The Wisconsin Badgers/Minnesot Golden Gophers rivalry is the longest CONTINUOUS rivalry in all of college football. 100+ games and counting. (I think it's about 110 games in a row now.) Army/Navy, Texas/Oklahoma, Harvard/Yale. All may have more games played, or, in the case of Harvard/Yale, may have started their rivalry sooner, but, the Badgers and Gophers have gone at it more years in a row than anyone else.

Speaking of Army/Navy, GO NAVY! Great win against Army yesterday, drawing the series to dead even, yet again. Almost 100 games played between them, and the series is locked up in a tie...now THAT'S a rivalry.

If you were wondering why I root for Navy, against Army, the answer lay behind the Navy sidelines during the game. Three jerseys, filled with pads only, were placed behind Navy's bench yesterday, in honor of the three US Naval Academy graduates, who had played in the Army/Navy game, who died in Iraq this past year...as US Marines. The Marines don't have their own academy. They use Annapolis, and many, if not most, Annapolis football players are Marine-option midshipman. All I have to say about that is "Semper Fi, Leathernecks".

That about wraps up my thoughts on football for today. Sometime this week, I should get something more substantial up. But it could be any day from Monday to Saturday. It all depends on how my mental reserves are after work.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

On rarity

Okay, once again, light posting this week due to work. I'm learning a new route (they are ALL new to me...), and it's the biggest residential route that our shop has. I made the mistake of saying to my bosses "Work me like a dog. I LIKE to work long hours." I have a move to Texas to pay for... Anyway, they took me up on my offer, and are training me on the route that no-one else wants, because it's so damn big. And I mean BIG! The easiest day on the route is 10 hours, and 10 tons of trash, and 500 homes. That's the EASY day. So, I have some LOOOOOOOOOONGGGGGG days ahead of me, since it takes a new driver an average of 3-4 hours longer to do a route than an experienced driver. I do have a limit (DOT imposed...stupid regulations) of how many hours I work in a week, so I won't be LIVING at work, but, it will be close. I expect to be putting in 60hrs/week for the next two or three months...after I get used to it, it will only be 54hrs/week, or so. So, again, posting will be light, but I do hope to get at least a token post up every Saturday, and hopefully on Sundays also.

I do have some ideas for posts brewing in my head, but, when I get home from work, my brain just wants to turn off. So, I can never muster the energy to get something up during the week. When I was doing delivery, I could always just keep a log of my thoughts during the day, but, doing garbage pickup, I literally do not have the time. At this point of my training, I am trying to shave mere seconds off my times at each stop. (cutting a mere ten seconds off of my time between stops will save me 1hr 40min per day...) Doesn't leave a lot of time to goof off.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country