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Showing posts from March, 2017

Bloglet: Never Be Alone With A Woman...

I could write a long article on Mike Pence, the Vice-President of the United States, and why he scares me more than Trump and more than almost anyone in Trump's orbit. (Almost: Steve Bannon is terrifying.)

I could write that blog, but nobody would read it.

And so I will confine myself to writing about the Pence's family rules, which came out in a televised interview last week and which have set Twitter on fire. To wit: Mike Pence does not have dinner with women who are not his wife, and will not attend any event where alcohol is served without her by his side.

This is supposedly standard practice for many Christian families. And oh, boy, I have no idea where to start.

What exactly does this say about men and women? It says, at least so far as I can see, that women are sex objects and that men, or at least men subject to these rules, are incapable of controlling themselves whenever one of those sex objects shows up.

What are we, twelve?

Full disclosure: when I was twelve throug…

"It's Hard To Explain..."

Today's sermon at GRU was on "process theology". I'd never heard the term before. The philosophy presents a conception of God that is radically different from those most people have.

That's another thing I love about this place: different perspectives every week, with emphasis as needed on respecting differing belief systems and the unifying traits they share.

Today, though, was challenging.

Every week they do a 'story for all ages'. The story this time was called "Wabi-sabi", and it was, well, beautifully simple. A cat named Wabi-sabi questions what her name means. Another cat tells her it means 'beautiful'; a dog snarls at her that he can't possibly explain the meaning to someone so simple. "Am I beautiful or am I simple?" she wonders, and learns those two things can be, and should be, celebrated as one and the same. Throughout the story we hear the phrase 'it's hard to explain'. And it is...if you're wedd…


The question is, how do we respond?

Today's sermon at Grand River Unitarian was both the most overtly Christian and the most overtly political I've yet attended.

It's worth noting that the Christianity was still muted, and was the inevitable byproduct of the guest speaker (the Lutheran chaplain of the House of Friendship), and the politics was the inevitable byproduct of the topic (poverty and homelessness).

I'm still glad I went, because once again today's service cleared up something religious that has bothered me for a long time.

Lutherans believe you are 'saved' -- a concept I have enough trouble with --- by God's grace alone, through faith alone. That's always suggested to me that there's nothing you have to do except believe. And if that doesn't work out for you, well, you're not believing hard enough. QED.

The speaker explained that Lutherans believe everything in your life is a God-given gift, and "so  the question is, how d…

Three Wheelin'

I have written a few times on the single thing that has defined and limited my life more than anything else--my lack of a driver's license.

You people who have them probably take them somewhat for granted. The lack of one tends to manifest in many ways, none of them pleasant and some of them very much unexpected.
Of course, there's the first order consequence: you must rely on others for your transportation. This has several corollaries. Taxis are insanely expensive, but other than inconveniencing a friend or relative, there's no other feasible way to do something as mundane as, say, grocery shopping.  Seeing friends who live across town is doable, but if they live an hour by car away, you're beholden to Greyhound or Via's schedule. (You'd better hope they live in a city big enough to merit a bus/train station).   There is no feeling quite so helpless as when a friend or loved one gets sick or injured in your presence and you can't drive her to the hospital…

Lacking Life Skills

"What basic life skill are you constantly amazed others lack?"

I asked this on Facebook figuring the first answer I'd get would be "common sense". It wasn't. That was the second answer I got.

The first answer came from Haley, the meat department manager at my store. "Ripping labels".


Haley was briefly my second in command when I was meat manager. I was promoted into that job based on having been a department manager for 13 years...none of which was in meat, and none of which was at Walmart. It fell on Haley to train me, which must have been humiliating for her: she had applied for my job.  I knew this going in, but of course couldn't acknowledge it.

Haley did the best she could with me, but there were things she didn't know, not having been a department manager herself. And Walmart is comically bad at training. They have a solid training program in place...the problem is nobody uses it. Ever. At all.
You learn what you have to do fro…

Covenants and Choices

Source material here

It's not often a respected political columnist runs a column titled as if it's one of those stupid Facebook "tests".
But there's David Brooks in this week's New York Times, asking "What Romantic Regime Are You In?"

The "regime of fate" is presented as Russian. In Russia, we learn, love is seen as a "madness". Sociologist Julia Lerner characterizes the Russian idea of love as “a destiny, a moral act and a value; it is irresistible, it requires sacrifice and implies suffering and pain.”

(Aside: this rings true to me. Russia's benighted attitude towards domestic violence -- the "good" husband is expected to beat his wife every now and again, and a "good" wife endures her share of beatings--probably springs from this fatalistic view of love.)

America, by contrast, is under "the regime of choice". There, both men and women assess each other constantly: does she check all the rig…

Modular Madness

I just got off a week of nights.

It hasn't been all that long, really, since I worked solid graveyard shift. I was promoted to Meat Department Manager at the beginning of September; went to Seasonal and Pets at the beginning of December, and than one day in mid-January I got invited into the manager's office and told "all my dreams are coming true".
What they meant by that was a transfer to dairy and frozen. Which, as longtime readers will know, is what I've been doing since 2001.

This was not a dream come true for me, much less all of them. Don't get me wrong: I like the position. But it's technically a demotion: just as they are in other chains, dairy and frozen here are a subset of grocery. They're called departments but aren't, really.

I've never understood this. Studies show that most visitors to a grocery store will buy something from dairy and/or frozen, and Walmart is just like a grocery store in that regard. I move a lot of product.

No, you (probably) don't have OCD.

My friend Laurel asked for a blog on a throwaway Facebook post I wrote this past week. Much obliged for the idea.

Warning: nuance abounds in these waters.

Language matters.

The words we use have meaning, both to us and to those who hear them. We can not be responsible for how clearly our messages are received, only for how clearly we send them.

Now, I'm not generally a fan of euphemism. I believe in calling things what they are, and preferably in not obscuring them in reams of polysyllabic bafflegab.
The immortal George Carlin traces the (d)evolution of "shell shock". That was the term in World War One that later generations knew as "battle fatigue" (WWII); "operational exhaustion" (Korea), and "post-traumatic stress disorder" (since Vietnam). What sounds more painful, more human, to you? "Shell shock"? Or "post-traumatic stress disorder"? Granted, you get PTSD from events besides warfare, but still. Can we agree that may…

That Week Flu By...

For the second time in my life, I've come down with the flu.

I had a cough on Monday. Now, I have a cough more often than I don't. Sometimes it seems like I just get over the cough from the last illness before a new one hits. Chronic bronchitis for the loss.

There are a lot of things I don't do "right". I don't see right, even with corrective lenses. I don't walk right or bend right. All three of these are attributed to my prematurity (more than two months), or more precisely in the case of the latter two, to the lack of physiotherapy given to preemies in 1972.

And I don't cough right. I have no idea why that is.

I seem to be almost incapable of coughing the way 'normal' people cough, with two or three coughs to a breath. My coughs each require a full breath (often, it feels like, more than one). They're great hacking explosions and if I'm sick, once they get going they're bloody hard to stop. After seven or eight, my chest is unco…