Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Every Thought Counts

Every Thought Counts
She's got a lovely holiday poo-poo purse story that will warm your heart and remind you the joy of Xmas. ;)

Monday, December 20, 2004

Flat Earth Fun

Believe it or not, there are still people on this planet that believe the world is flat, or at least not a sphere. It isn’t just the individuals in the Flat Earth Society (founded in 1993). There are fundamentalists in various religions teaching this myth as fact as well.
One religion teaches the world is on the back of a turtle. Under that turtle is another turtle. Under that turtle is another turtle, etc forever. There are modern people that choose to interpret those statements in their ancient texts as literal fact. They turn off their critical sense and refuse to understand that the ancient texts simply provide metaphors for unknowable facts in ancient times. In effect, it’s easier for these modern people to believe in infinitely huge turtles walking on each other’s backs, rather than believe the world is a sphere in space.
Western Culture has understood that the Earth is a sphere for a very long time. The idea that people in Columbus’ time, during the Renaissance, believed in a flat Earth is actually a modern myth perpetuated by American ignorance of other cultures (i.e., our arrogance). I’ll call this the Columbus Myth. Ancient Greeks knew the world was a sphere by the Fourth Century B.C.E (over three hundred years before Christ was born). In that time, Aristotle reasoned that the world must be a sphere because the Earth’s shadow on the Moon during lunar eclipses was always round. By the time that Columbus set sail on his first voyage to the Americas, Westerners already had known, for about 2000 years, that the Earth was a sphere.
Unfortunately, The Columbus Myth spawned the recent rebirth of the belief that the Earth is flat. The some Columbus Myth believers reasoned that if ancient people knew the world was flat as recent as 1500’s, then it must be so. They then further reasoned that modern observations of a spherical Earth are skewed by some global conspiracy to hide the fact that the Earth is flat. Of course, this is all just myth compounded upon myth.
Links of note:
Flat Earth Society - They have a Great Springfield theory (from watching too many episodes of the Simpsons, I think).
Another Flat Earth Society - I love their complete ignorance of how a little thing called gravity works in their "Why a Flat Earth" section. These guys take the Columbus Myth to heart!
Flat Earth Bible - Here the author shows various statements in the Bible that show the flat-earth mentality of it's many writers. The Qu'ron makes similar statements as well.



Social Security bullony

There are people in this country that are convinced that the Stock Markets are invincible. So, the grand plan is to have everyone invest in them as if Social Security is a gigantic IRA. So what if you have a freedom to choose which stocks you want? You still are stuck investing in the Stock Markets. Investing in the Stock Markets is not diversification of your finances. It's extremely homogeneous. There's an old rule, whenever everyone is doing the same thang, no one can get a head. It's worse with the Stock Markets. The assumption here is that not only anyone can make money in the Stock Markets, but everyone can! Well in the real world, most people lose in the Stock Markets, pros and amateurs alike. This is where we want to push future retirees to throw their money?
Additionally, with the ever increasing numbers of Babyboomers retiring, more money is going to be pulled out of the Stock Markets than put in. It's the same problem that faces Social Security right now, just in a different venue. The only way to support the retirement system is if the contributions grew exponentially. In other words, putting everyone on a retirement program based on the Stock Markets is a bit like a huge Pyramid Scheme. It is unsustainable after are very short time. It's almost like there's a bunch of people running around the country right now trying to sell America on their Pyramid Scheme so they can make their money and get out, leaving everyone else to hold the bag.
I can't offer an alternative right now, other than to say, less risk is better. The current system is unsustainable too, but its demise will impact the economy much less than the decline of the Stock Markets.
Check out this article for better information on the problem.
I do have some ideas that might help individuals. Diversify! There are other forms of invents besides the Stock Markets.

Travel back in time with me

It's truly a wonder that Western Civilization made it out of the 1950's at all. I found this article copied from Housekeeping Monthly dated "13 May 1955". Notice the interesting spelling choices, typos, dangling prepositions, and run-on sentences. Not a big deal. It's just funny. It's like some guy (who happened to be a writer at Housekeeping Monthly) was angry at his wife one morning and wrote this on his way to work. It is a amazing just how ignorant of a place we've come from. Granted, it's nice to treat your spouse good whether husband or wife, but this article...well, it speaks for itself. Just when you think it gets bad as it could, just keep reading. It gets worse with almost every paragraph.

The good wife's guide (Housekeeping Monthly, 13 May 1955)

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be freshlooking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary peopl[e.]

Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc and then run a dustcloth over the tables.

Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see him.

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important then yours.

Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Classic Cars rule

The rule I've heard a few times before is that a car is a classic when it reaches quarter century old. However, there are other factors involved too. Some cars are just destined to the junkyard regardless.
The 50's, 60's and early 70's have a lot of collectible vehicles. There's too many to even list right now, so I won't try. Personally, I don't see very many compelling vehicles from the middle to late 70's until the early 90's. There are some (like the old Z or the Mustang), but not many. Commonly, cars from the 80's just plan suck in styling and performance. The boxy cars of the early 80's are ugly for being boxes on wheels. The aerodynamic cars of the late 80's are ugly for being wings-with-bubbles on wheels. I don't think there are many collectors trying to score a 1989 Ford Taurus.
I was at the recent car expo in San Francisco. I found there are many compelling vehicles. I think the middle 1990's to now (and hopefully for years to come) is going to be an era with many collectible cars. Vehicles popular in the Tuner market almost already have a collectible status, like the previous Honda Civic. In addition, there are loads of new, interesting models or resculpts, like the Dodge Viper, any BMW, certain Subarus, the previous and new Mustang, etc which will likely stand the test of time.
It has inspired me to hold on to my car and keep it in great all-original condition for the next 20 or so years.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Retail Sales Prediction

Based on what I've seen so far, I predict that overall U.S. retail sales for this xmas season will be stronger than expected, particularly for mall retailers. The malls (at least in the SF Bay area and Silicon Valley) are as busy as I've seen since 1989.
Partially linked to this, Walmart (and prolly most other non-mall discounters) will suffer this year, as people are going to the malls, or are shopping for the better quality goods. Target looks like it positioned itself to have the best of both worlds since it expanded into the malls (replacing Wards in many locations), and maintains the perception of higher level of quality goods at good prices.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Gift giving strategy this year...

This was going to be a comment reply, but it got so long, I figured it qualified as its own blog entry. :)
Last year, I used online purchasing with dropping shipping a lot. My strategies and intentions are different this year. I did a lot of discount buying of DVD's thru Columbia House this year. They don't do gift wrapping (not that I would pay $4 per gift for that service thru other sites anyway). They also don't drop ship (or at least it's a pain in the ass to get them too). It all worked out. I was able to get enough credits to get myself the last James Bond box set ($100 value) for free, and I'm averaging $11 including taxes and shipping for recent DVD releases. Everyone wins. :)
For the more important gifts (like jewerly) , I feel its best to delivery in person anyway because makes it more meaningful.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pressing matters

My computer at work busted for a couple of weeks. It was returned and is almost back to normal so I can do my job uninterrupted.
My g/f and I had a little trouble a few weeks ago. That has cleared up.
My finances were in a bit of a mess over the past month. That is getting cleared up. The worse is behind me.
The most pressing matter before me now is how to get my xmas gifts into the hands of their recipients, without driving all over Northern California. :)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Better Person

As time goes on, I find that there are points where I look back at my past self with the knowledge that I am definately a better person now than I was then. The watershed event that lead to this personal growth was a massive personal lose. After many years, I've decided to start talking about this openly.
I'm not grieving the lose any longer. I'm not holding that one moment in time over all others per se. That event does form a cornerstone of my life; the time where I had to look at my life, my concepts of reality, my understanding of myself. But, a cornerstone by itself is still just another block in the building.
What happened, once the grieving subsided, was that I forced to look inward and examine myself. I studied who I was at the time. As my eyes opened about myself, they also opened towards reality. I began to change for the better instinctively. I believe I was a good person before, in the Christian sense. But I wasn't complete. Looking to an outside source for a definition for one's self is ... well, let's just say it didn't work for me. I understand that people do discover Christ do go through an awakening themselves. But you know what? That's because they are coming from an even darker place. I started off with Christ in my heart. My awakening took me from that reasonably bright point to an even brighter, higher level. I now have a better understanding of myself and the world around me because of it.
When I do look back with the knowledge that I am better now, I've caught myself thinking, "I'm done. I am who I want to be. I can't imagine what is left to improve (my human flaws excluded, of course)." Well, I've stopped thinking that. :) The search to be a better person is never done. I can never know or experience enough to make it possible that I don't need further growth.
One very helpful thang I've learned about myself is that I can't fight against my flaws. I have to work with them. Very often, when I do this, the flaws subside on their own.
Reducing flaws isn't all there is to my self-improvement. Adding desireable attributes is even more important. For me, this is done through exploring ideas new to me with an open yet critical mind. Speaking of which, I recommend this movie: What The bleep Do We Know?.
QA:
Am I better today that I was yesterday? Yes. Have I become the person I need to be today? Yes. Am I person I need to be tomorrow? Not quite. :)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Freedom

I've discovered a lot since I freed myself of the shackles of willful ignorance that is Christian Fundamentalism. Here's a couple of examples.
First, I'm glad I work at a biotech company. It has allowed me to be view the science behind modern biology first hand. Guess what, evolution is true. Our society now has practical uses for the knowledge that evolution gives us! For example, knowing the real origin of an identified infectant allows for quicker development of treatment against it. Willful ignorance of this is equivalent to believing the Earth is the center of the Universe. Modern day reject of evolution by Protestants is very similar to Protestant rejection of Copernicus' heliocentric model of the Universe in the 1500's. It's interesting to note, it is the Protestants that rejected Copernicus, and it was the Catholic Church that accepted him. In our time, the Protestant faiths are waging a similar war against evolution, while the Catholic Church declared that evolution does not contradict the bible. Anyone see a pattern developing here? :)
Second, the Bible and all revered ancient texts are not infallible, nor are they the word of God. There are many completely wrong statements, absolute contradictions, and bigotries that fill the pages of these ancient writings. An example of a false statement, the Qu'ron says (in no uncertain terms) that the Earth does not move and that the Sun moves around the Earth. In fact, the Qu'ron not only states that falsehood, it makes use of it as a justification for further false conclusions. An example of an absolute contradiction, the Bible clearly states two separate and completely different creation accounts. Christian traditionalism and fundamentalism both try to claim that the two accounts are merely a retelling of the creation with a different flavor, or that the second story is somehow a continuation of the first story. When read with a critical mind, the two stories are completely different, and directly contradict each other (not to mention how much both contradict reality).
That's enough of that for now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

New Perspective

The weeks that followed the conversation in my previous post changed me. Before this time, I firmly, religiously and scientifically believed that the soul was not separate from the body; the soul did not exist by itself. I viewed any tales of ghosts, supernature happenings or such matters as superstition, imagination or the work of the devil (the religious side of me still believed in Satan at that time).
Right up to the very moment I heard her disembodied voice speak to me, I firmly believed that such an event was impossible. I'm not going into the few conversations I had with her, other than to say they involved the further exchanges of our expressions for love for each other, and very specific information I had no other way to receive that I later verified.
I am going to say that these events lead me to start questioning my belief system. Point number one that I had to face: Our soul does exist on its own. How? What happens if we die? Most Christian religions accept this as fact, but if my religion was wrong, what does that say about other religions that are based firmly in the interpretation of any ancient texts?
In the past, I read the bible completely through over time, several times. I know its words. So now, I started looking at the bible from a neutral eye. I started realizing there was a lot of ridiculous explanations to cover thangs that the bible says. Then, I realized, there are absolute contradictions in the bible that are glossed over by fundamentalism, and all christian religions. The bible is not the infallible word of God. It couldn't be. Hince my journey began.
I explored and revealed each successive lie I've been told since I was an infant. As my eyes opened slowly opened, old precepts became invalid or simply lost meaningfulness. Through this process, it took me a about three years to completely shed christianity (and all organized religion) out of my veins. I am not a christian. I've discovered all religion is simply a metaphor to explain the unknownable. I choose to accept no one's metaphor any longer. I have been religionfree since I was 28.
It is amazing where a woman's love can take you. In my case, I literally lost my religion. lol

Thursday, December 02, 2004

True Final Words; One Spring Evening, 1999

On the phone, a continent and an ocean apart,
painful bliss unfolded.
Burned on my memory are our final words.

“Matty, listen to me.”
“I love you so much.”
“I love you more than words will say.”
“You are my world. You mean everything to me”
“You have given me everything I ever wanted.”
“You complete me.”
“I have known no greater love in my life than my love for you”


“I love you more than anything in this world, my Bevie.”
“I love you so very much.”

“You make me so happy.”
“I will be with you always.”


“Bevie, we will be together forever.”

“Forever is a long time, Matty”
“but I will be with you always.”


“What’s wrong, Bevie, tell me.”

“Matty, promise me,”
“Find someone who will love you as much as I do.”

“There will be no one else, Bev.”
“You are ‘the one.’”
“We will be together forever.”

“I told you, forever is a long time,”
“but I will always be with you where ever you are.”




“I love you, Matty!”

“Je t’aime, ma Bevie!”

“Je t’aime, aussie.”



“Matty!”

“Yes, Bevipie?”

“Mattybear, Je t’aime.”

“I love you more than the depths of the ocean blue….”
“I love you more than the vastness of the sky above….”
“I love you more than the expanse of the stars in heaven….”
“I love you more than anything in this Universe.”

“I love you bigger.”

“As always, baby. Je t’aime, ma Bevie, forever.”

As you fell into your deep sleep for the last time,
in my ignorance, I believed you to be well enough,
but in my heart, I prayed for you to heal.

“I love you so much, Beviepie.”

In expression of my love even more
I recited your favorite poem while you slumbered
In your deep sleep
As I spoke I heard your sighs of content
And as I finished
You contently called out my name “Matty”.

“Je t’aime, ma Bevie et mon ange et ma bichette.”

One last time from your slumber,
“Matty” I heard you sigh with such sweet content and love.

“Goodnight, baby. I love you.”

I hung up the phone, thinking your rest was for the night.
But in peace you rested.