Department Of Things I Can’t Wrap My Brain Around
Moiself has a hard time getting protective face mask straps – whether elastic or tie-on – around my ears (not much room behind the upper ridges of my earlobes, apparently), and then when I do, it’s not particularly comfortable. But, it’s not about my comfort, is it?
I have an even harder time understanding how, despite the entreaties from doctors and public health officials, some people refuse to wear masks because, as the maskscofflaws say, it’s a matter of “personal freedom.” In particular, I feel as if I’m falling into a Twilight Zone vortex when I read about conservative Christians who seem to be suspending their usual Jesus loves me/saves you platitudes in favor of mouthing repetitive denials of the sort which might be expected from Satan’s toddler’s temper tantrum:
Whoever was the first of the maskholes responsible for trying to link protective health measures to politics needs to be bitch-slapped back to the Middle Ages (or a present day COVID respirator ward). The fact that *any* of the anti-maskers identifies as Christian….
Hmmm, what PPE would Jesus refuse to don?
Folks, this is an opportunity to show selfless love, in the form of concern for and kindness toward your fellow human beings. Do y’all really think that disease and/or the actions of others are respecters of either your religion or your politics? Secondhand smoke doesn’t waft away from liberals and toward libertarians, or vice versa.
Speaking of which, here is my personal, unexpected bonus to mask wearing. Dateline: Wednesday afternoon. After grocery shopping I am walking through the store’s parking lot toward my car, the point at which, if there are no other people around, I would usually take off my mask. I hear the distinctive sound of a big ass engine behind me, and a woman (whom I recognized as having been ahead of me in the store’s checkout line) slowly drives past me, quite (read: too) closely on my right side. A cigarette dangles from her lips; the driver’s side window of her truck is rolled down and she exhales vigorously, as only a nicotine addict forced to go a whole 20 minutes without smoking can do. Many are the times I’ve been assaulted by secondhand smoke, but as her gray cloud envelopes me I realize I only get a faint whiff of it, and am grateful that I left my mask on. 
Take it away, Science Guy.
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Department Of Favorite Song Lines Couplets
Moiself returned from a walk singing the following…which took a bit of explaining to MH.
♫ You’re in the corner with your boys you bet ’em five bucks
You’d get the girl who just walked in but she thinks you suck… ♫
(from U and Ur Hand, singer/songwriter Pink’s deliciously sharp-tongued ode to girls who just want to have fun and the boys who think that girls’ fun has to include them. )
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Department Of, Oh, That’s Kinda Sweet… But Mostly Pathetic… And You *Do* Realize It’s Too Late To Help This Poor Woman, Don’t You?
Sub-department Of, I Really Need To Finish This Book And Move On.
For the past two weeks I’ve been reading Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter. As I near the end of the book, I find moiself cringing because I know what is going to happen: anorexia will cut short the life of a talented musician and singer who had one of the most distinctive voices of the 20th century. And I’ve noticed that the more I read of Ms. Carpenter’s refusals to eat, the more I’m rummaging through my refrigerator after dinner.
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Department Of Missing The Mark For Good Advice
What is it about us humans, with our propensity for numbered lists?
* Buddhism has its Three Jewels, Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path;
* Christianity and Judaism have their Ten Commandments (but there are three versions of them, a fact most Christians seem to be unaware of  )
* Islam has its 99 Names of God
* several quasi-religious addiction programs claim there are 12 Steps to recovery;
* self-help books tell us about The 5 Second Rule to Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, and the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship With Food, and 101 Questions You Need to Ask In Your Twenties and 1000 Places You Need To See Before You Die….
* and of course, as per Paul Simon, there are 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
Here’s a new list moiself has been seeing recently, in various social media posts:
At first glance these so-called 7 Rules of Life could be easily accepted (or dismissed) as yet another benign (or banal, depending on your POV) list of feel good/common sense admonitions. But when I read the request – almost more of a command – at the end of the list (“TYPE YES IF YOU AGREE” ), I decided to actually give each item in the list more than a cursory glance. And, then….no way.
“TYPE YES IF YOU AGREE.” Uh, if I agree with what? With discounting complexity and nuance in favor of treacly naiveté?
Not that anyone cares ,  but I cannot TYPE YES, for the following reasons for each rule:
- I’d say first, try to *understand* your past, so you can understand your present and not let your past rule your future. And if some part of your past is disturbing to you, and the disturbance has to do with personal and/or institutional abuse and discrimination, depending on the situation, hell no, don’t just let it go! Don’t give a pass to people and institutions which keep abusive systems in place just because they tell you that the only way you will have peace is if you let them get away with it. That’s just another form of abuse.
- This one is…sorta okay. Unless what they think of you is shaped by their bigotry and stereotypes – then, it is *very much* your business, because they are going to treat you (and others they deem like you) accordingly, and if they have personal/political/financial power, this could mean a whole lotta trouble for you.
- This one reeks of shallow, First World Privilege and, “If-you-can-visualize-it-you-can-act-it” victim-blaming mentality. Yeah, by all means, please tell the continually unhappy woman in the refugee camp, who risks being gang-raped by guards on her way to fetch water or use the toilet facilities, that she is in charge of her happiness.
- This one mostly gets a pass…with, of course, exceptions: Do compare *certain* areas of your life to others, to help both you and your colleagues. If your coworker who does the same job as you and has your same credentials/seniority/work performance reviews, but his salary is higher than yours and the only difference is your gender/skin color, you owe it to yourself and others to compare…and challenge, if necessary.
- Mostly. Give many things time…but again, don’t apply this across the board. That festering sore on your bum which is starting to smell like last year’s ham – time is not on your side, dude – get yourself to the ER, pronto. And remember, those in power use the “Be patient; it’ll take time; nothing changes overnight…” admonitions to placate (read: stall and prevent) the less powerful from gaining access to human rights. American slaveholders kept those they enslaved from rising up against them by stripping enslaved people of their own spiritual beliefs and teaching them Christianity, with the assurance that, if the enslaved persons were docile and obedient (as the scriptures say) and would bide their time, their woes would be healed in paradise.
- These two sentences are incongruous. Of course it’s alright not to know all the answers. However, always be suspicious of someone who tells you to stop thinking – either “so much,” or in any amount.
- Excuse me and fuck you very much ? No one fully knows what problems another person holds. And, never patronize anyone – especially a woman – by telling them to smile. If someone is not smiling and you tell them to smile, it is *always* patronizing. People are perfectly capable of smiling when they have a reason to.
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Department Of Getting All Philosophical Before Breakfast
Dateline: Tuesday morning, the site of Mount Neahkahnie is in my eyes and the sound of a science podcast comes through my earbuds as I walk north along the beach. I am reflecting on a subject I’ve had cause to ponder two days in a row, thanks to snippets of an overheard conversation, and now this podcast.
I assume moiself has addressed this issue previously, in this space, and surely will have the occasion to do so again. 
One of the more common, (and often patronizing) questions that religious believers ask of those of us who are religious-free seems to follow a certain script. First, there will be a statement of what they think we believe, followed by the question:
* Oh, so you think there is no god, which means that we are just particles of atoms in the cosmos, which means we have no significance and there is no meaning to life. If you don’t believe in (a) god, what is the meaning of life?
“Seriously? How many hours do you have?” is moiself’s (so far, successfully restrained) fantasy, kneejerk response to a person who poses this question.
Definition of worship (Entry 1 of 2) 
1: to honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power
2: to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion
(“a celebrity worshiped by her fans”)
: to perform or take part in worship or an act of worship
Definition of worship (Entry 2 of 2)
1: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power
also : an act of expressing such reverence
2: a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
3: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem
(“worship of the dollar”)
It’s funny, that those who pose the if-you-don’t-believe-in-a-god/meaning-of-life question never seem to turn it on themselves. And when moiself has been so queried, the query-poser has never stuck to the subject long enough for me to ask in return,
“What does worshiping a deity – which you believe is all-powerful and has created you, correct? – what purpose and meaning does that give to *your* life…other than being part of the hive for the cosmic being who created your ant farm for its own amusement? And why does “worshiping” that deity seem to be a worthy task for you – what reasoning allows you to give your devotion to any entity so narcissistic as to demand it?”
Certainly on a cosmic scale, humans have little significance. This realization should be humbling, but not humiliating. Considering how over the millennia religious believers have done so much damage to the planet and their fellow human beings under the excuses of divine mandate and of humans being the crown of creation, I think a little humility in this matter would benefit us all.
But just because there is no singular or ultimate meaning in life doesn’t mean that life is meaningless. Perhaps none of us have cosmic significance, but each of us has great individual, personal significance. And the purpose of Life, capitalized or not, is the purpose that we give it.
There are so many varied and rich meanings to existence (other than being minions in some deity’s humanoid experiment). Here’s a general answer, variations of which I hold moiself, and have heard from others who identify as Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, Brights, Freethinkers, Happy Heathens, et al, be they physicists or pharmacists or photographers or physical therapists or Phillies fans….
Life itself is the meaning of life.
We determine the meaning of our lives. Yours might primarily revolve around the scientific search for the origins and composition of the rings of Saturn, and hers might center upon artistic expression via musical theater,  and his might be his family and the joys and challenges of raising kind and inquisitive children. We are responsible for setting our goals and for pursuing that which may bring us and others well-being and happiness. It is our privilege, our right and our responsibility, to create meaning.
These heartfelt, wise reflections are from a woman who, suddenly and unexpectedly, lost her beloved husband to a previously unknown medical condition:
I find meaning in everyday things, and I choose to carry on.
The sun comes up and I have a chance to be kind to anyone who crosses my path because I can. I make that choice for myself and nobody has to tell me to do it. I am right with myself. I try my best to do my best, and if I fail, I try again tomorrow. I support myself in my own journey through life. I draw my own conclusions.
I find joy in the people I love. I love, and I am loved. I find peace in the places I visit; I cry when I listen to music I love, and find almost childlike joy in many things. This world is brilliant and full of fascinating things.
I have to think carefully for myself. I don’t have to believe what I’m told. I must ask questions and I try and use logic and reason to answer them…. I struggle with how difficult the world can be, but when we have free will, some people will make terrible decisions. No deity forces their hand, and they must live with that.
Grieving is never an easy road to travel….I try to be loving and caring with my family and friends, and have fun. I will cry with friends in distress and hear other people’s stories and be kind because it does me good as well. I listen and I learn. It helps me to be better. Life without (a god) is not a life without meaning. Everything, each and every interaction, is full of meaning. Everything matters.
(From Buzzfeed article, interviews w/atheists re meaning of life)
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Pun For The Day
I must apollogize for making puns about Greek gods.
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May you enjoy the challenge of finding your own meaning;
May you remember that everything matters;
May you just STFU and put on your mask – and remember, you still have the freedom to sing while doing so;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 I sense a disturbance in the force…a feeling of…disappointment? Some of y’all were expecting a fart story, right?
 Version 1 is from Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Version 2, which is similar to Version 1, is found in Exodus 20:1-17. Version 3, found in Exodus 34, – is riotously different from the first two versions, although the writing claims it is the LORD speaking. Hmmm, guess he’d forgotten what he’s said the first two times? Also, although this list is *never* quoted when religious leaders and politicians talk of the Ten Commandments, this is the only version referred to in scripture as the “ten commandments.”
 Which could be the subtitle of this blog.
 Both because it bears repeating, and because we who are religion-free are repeatedly asked this.
 And if so, can we get you to do something to ensure that there is never another adaptation of “Cats” to the silver screen?