My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Laziness is the Mother of Efficiency

I am the type of person who moves quickly and multitasks as he does almost everything. I’m proud of the fact that I can do remedial things quicker each time that I do them. So it thoroughly annoys me when others move slowly doing things that they don’t want to, but have to do. Sure, I understand that there are some things that we all want to take slow, enjoy, and experience the full journey, but for the most part, lots of things in life are just remedial and necessary. Spending any more time on them than is necessary takes away from time that could be spent doing things that are a lot more enjoyable. This leads me to believe that either some people have nothing better to do than bland daily crap, or they are so oblivious to the existence of others they tend to accidentally run them over.

Since moving to an elderly-infested area of the country, my ever-increasing efficiency has only amplified. I believe that this has happened because of the constant reminders of the waste of time that are slow moving individuals. What bothers me more is that we all have the ability to move fast, if we choose to do so. Just like anything else, it is something that you can learn.

I learned how to move quickly while working in restaurants when I was younger. I was a waiter for several years in more places then I care to admit. And what I learned is that you always, always, think ahead. You learn very quickly to look for things that you can do on your way to something else while thinking about what your next task will be once you reach that destination. The goal of this is to create a single movement in all of your action: A never-ending fluidity of efficiency. This multitasking builds a consciousness of your time in relation to the tasks that you need to get done and a complex familiarity with your environment.

Now I know that I’m not he only one who does this. I see people all of the time, mothers of multiple children, people who have worked retail for years, and general busy people who know how to manage their lives, who move in the same way that I do. To me, there is no excuse for these other people to crowd certain stations of necessity (ATMs, checkouts, gas stations, on the road…). The quicker that all of us can get the things done, the quicker we can all settle back into slowly enjoying the things that we really cherish. So if you see me coming your way and I yell "MOVE!", remember that I’m doing it to inspire you to make the most out of your life.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Entry for March 28, 2008

God is Santa Clause for adults. Both live in a mythical place that you only see in movies, grant wishes as long as you’re "good", and constantly watch you to see if you're behaving. The only difference is that children are smart enough to demand real bribes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Your Faults Are Perfect

I saw an interview with Joel Olsteen a couple weeks ago and have been stuck trying to figure out this guy. He was voted Most Influential Christian in America in 2006 by The Church Report, operates one of those mega-churches, and all without ever really quoting the Bible or any other religious text. His only educational training is a BA in television production. Nevertheless, he sells millions of books to Evangelicals who want to learn how to live a better life and be the best people that they can. Yesterday, sitting in a cramped room listening to people discussing their futures in tentative somber tones, someone decided to interject a positive aphorism. It was ill-timed and came across as overly fake, but we appreciated the attempt to steer the conversation away from the mournful and back towards something positive. It was in this second that I finally understood Joel Olsteen and his ilk.

What he represents is the logical eclecticism of our time, and this type of person has never had an original thought. They piece together time-worn tricks, give them a new paint job, and are in business. And it is a booming business. It’s a grift called Happiness. The world is a big scary place with a history of suffering and fear. Enter Olsteen, who tells them that they have nothing to fear, this life or hereafter, and that God commands them to be happy. Day in, day out, he keeps pushing it: Don’t be afraid, be happy.

He does so under the auspicious of a higher understanding. He tells people that what they want to do is divine because God wants them to be happy. This is absolute nonsense and is the concept of “altruism” at its worst. People do what they want to do, every time. If it pains them to make a choice, if the choice looks like a sacrifice, you can be sure that it is no nobler than the discomfort caused by greediness. It is the necessity of deciding between two things you want when you can’t have both. The ordinary person suffers every time they choose between spending a buck on some gadget they don’t really need or tucking it away for their kids, between getting up to go to work or losing their job. But they always choose what hurts the least or pleasures the most. The scoundrel and the saint make the same choices on a larger scale.

Olsteen tells people to be happy and the best that they can be by dressing it up in basic Biblical language and hoping that his followers assume the rest. Part is sickly sweet, more is nonsense, and some just hateful. It reminds me of how I was taught about Sodom and Gomorra and why Lot was saved from those wicked cites when Yahweh smote them. Peter describes him as a just, Godly, and righteous man, vexed by the filthy conversation of the wicked. Saint Peter must be an authority on virtue, since to him were given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. But it is hard to see what made Lot such a paragon. He divided a cattle range at his brother’s suggestion. He got captured in battle. He skipped out of town to save his own skin. He fed and sheltered two strangers, but his conduct showed that he knew them to be VIPs - and by my understanding, it would have counted for more if he had thought that they were beggars. Aside from these items and Saint Peter’s character reference there is only one thing in the Bible on which we can judge Lot’s virtue (virtue so great that Heavenly intercession saved his life). The rest is from Genesis 19:8, in case you don’t believe me.

Lot’s neighbors beat on his door and wanted to meet these blokes from out of town. Lot didn’t argue; he offered a deal. He had two daughters, virgins, and told this mob that he would give them these girls and they could use them any way that they liked. He pleaded with them to do any damn thing they pleased - only quit beating on his door. So these men, “old and young”, gang raped his own young, tender, and scared girls. This is why he is considered a righteous man.

Or the story of Elisha (Al-Yasa in Islam). Elisha was so all-fired holy that touching his bones restored a dead man to life. He was a bald-headed, cold coot. One day children made fun of his baldness, so God sent bears to tear forty-two children into bloody bits (Second chapter, Second Kings). The Bible is loaded with this stuff. Crimes that turn your stomach and asserted to be divinely ordered or divinely condoned, along with hard common sense and workable rules for social behavior. I could point out these type of things in a number of other religions, but I’m not going to blanket condemn all religions based on ancient and outdated beliefs. It is conceivable that one of these mythologies is the word of God. The kind of God who rends to bits forty-two children for sassing His priest, but a God nonetheless. My point is that people like Joel Olsteen preach a sweetened and lightened version of scripture. He’s a good Joe who wants people to be happy. Happy on Earth plus eternal bliss in Heaven. He doesn’t expect you to chastise the flesh. Oh no, this is the giant-economy package. If you drink and gamble and dance and wench, come to church and do it under holy auspices. Do it with your conscience free. Have fun at it. Live it up! Get happy! It’s a Better You!

Of course, there is a charge. Olsteen’s God expects to be acknowledged. Anyone stupid enough to refuse to get happy on His terms is a sinner and deserves anything that happens to them. But this rule is common to all gods and their pitchmen. Their snake oil is orthodox in all respects. Now I enjoy a good uplifting lecture as much as the next sucker, I generally despise crowds, and don’t let snobs tell me where to go on Sundays. But that does not mean that I can’t laugh a people trying to reconcile the Old Testament with the New, the Buddhist doctrine with Buddhist apocrypha, or Olsteen’s happy-love message with anything substantial or credible. His ethic is sugar-coated for people who can’t take psychology straight -- he is simply tapping the zeitgeist. The only difference between his message and a large, yellow smiley face is that he has the assumed a pulpit built on an established belief, perverted as it may be.

So I finally understand his appeal. We live in a time where things are plentiful. People want to hear that gluttony is good and that they are right in their actions. They want justification for doing as they damn-well please. Moreover, they want to be patted on the back for being good at being selfish. Olsteen delivers and is reinforced by repetitive rhetoric, oozing with vacant cheerfulness, and telling everyone that they are the best that they can be. Proving that we are all happiest when someone else does us the pleasure of lowing the bar.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Son's New Website

My son’s website,, is now up and running. It has a blog, pictures, videos, and general updates as to his wellbeing and growth. As he has spent a lot of time working on it, please check it out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Being Dad

Everyone dances best with their most comfortable disguise. Our masks exist to define who we are and how we want to be seen. So when I was finally face to face with my new child that I realized that I did not know who I would be to him. Dad, sure, but how do I define that? What of my personality do I promote or suppress to help guide his development? And will I be able to dance with him?

Immediately drumming through my head is the line, “Be who you desire your children to become.” Well, yes. But as with any parent, I want so much more for him. I want to see him succeed in whatever it is that he chooses to do. Not to fill my own lost dreams or hidden ambitions, but because he wants to. Truly wants to. Above all else, I want him to be happy and content. So I need to be able to portray that at a level competent enough to convince him that it is possible. But I do not know how.

He is almost three weeks old and his personality is starting to develop. His cries are becoming distinct and I hear his future voice in his experimental yelps. I know that these times will pass quickly. I’ll see him quickly grow, learn, and develop. I will not be able to keep up. My masks will eventually fail, I will not dance quickly enough, and he will be on his own. Yet I must try.

The inevitability of the situation is that there is only a short window in which I can make an impact on him. Everything else that he takes from me is the memory of who he believed that I was versus how well his grown self is able to see through me. More than anything else, I do not want to fail him. This fear haunts my soul deeper than anything that has ever touched me. It is as if someone has reached inside of me and taken hold of everything that I am and will only release me once my performance has been weighed.

The entire situation makes me wish that I could be a greater man, one up for this challenge, and someone who knows that they could not fail.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Entry for March 03, 2008

Some people make you try to become a better person, while others make you feel as if you are trying too hard.