I’m still around

Every once in a while, I write one of these. “Hi! I’m still around! Over here!!!” I’m in a bit of a writing lull.

Here at work, working for a behemoth corporation, merely a number in a sea of forgotten humanity, I am learning the ins and outs of a system that procures things for others companies and potentially other people. Some of the parts of the system that procures the things don’t work quite right. This means that people and companies don’t get their things, the things maybe get lost, the companies and people don’t pay for the right things, or the things sort of get procured, but never get paid for.

And paying for things is kind of important. Especially when the system relies on getting paid for the things. Otherwise, the things may not be able to be procured anymore, and people kind of want their things. Though, in this case, the people can go to a different source for their things, though I kind of like to get paid for helping them get their things, so they pay the big behemoth that pays me.

As you can see, dealing with the things is keeping me busy. But I will write when I can.

Ban All Clergy from Bathrooms

PZ’s post today about Jessica Williams decent take-down of the infamous bathroom bills got me thinking. Why are we so focused on the dangers of transgender individuals using the bathroom of their choice? Why do we care so much about freaking bathrooms? Why not bedrooms? Daycare centers? Schools. Hell, if the fear was real, we should be firing all teachers from all school everywhere.

But the fear is a lie. The reasoning is bullshit. The rhetoric is just that – rhetoric. There is no data to back up the idea that a transgender, specifically, has ever gone into a bathroom and solicited a child – primarily based on their status as a trangender – let alone at all.

There are, though, stories of perverts who do this. But forget fake, fearmongering, bathroom stories. Let’s talk about the real sexual deviance problem in ‘Murica.

Catholic priests

Baptist pastors

Homeschoolers who believe in child abuse as parenting gold

Ken Copley – my old dusty corner of the interwebs

Subway Jared

You know. The real perverts. The ones who really abuse children and anyone they can abuse without getting caught.

The Myth of the Moderate Muslim

Fellow blogger, Anjuli Pandavar, an ex-Muslim, and an atheist for 37 years (so far), writes this poignant piece. Within, she carefully constructs an argument, from intimate experience, of how it is impossible for a “moderate” Muslim (which she defines) to truly claim that they are an adherent of the Qur’an.

Moderate Western Muslims, if they are unable to insulate the Qur’an from scrutiny, will perform the most extraordinary linguistic and conceptual acrobatics to sanitise the Qur’an for 21st-century sensibilities, their sensibilities. If the Qur’an is not under assault, then moderate Muslims can usually find some workable balance between their humanity and their faith by ignoring parts of their humanity and ignoring parts of their faith.

While this piece is specifically about Muslims, the logic gleaned from it, can be applied to those adherents of the Christian faith, the religious faith that I come from. Read the rest of the piece here.

What is love?

What is “love,” really? Can it even be defined? I realize this is a question that is age-old, but I want to hear how love manifests itself in your life.

I Was an Asshole and I’m Sorry

This morning, I had a visceral reaction to a story out of Minnesota, where a woman’s husband had fallen, bumping his head on the basement stairs, then passed away overnight. He was taken to Mayo Hospital in Rochester, and then transferred to a funeral home. Once the body was there, it got mixed up with another body and was cremated against the wishes of the wife. The woman was devastated and had filed a lawsuit.

I reacted in a negative way, calling for her to “get over it.”

Regardless of my point, the reaction I got was immediately negative. And, after I had time to think, I came to a much different conclusion:

While allowing for those, like myself, who regard death as a consequence, the finality of life, I can also see the deep sense of wonderment and love those who treat it differently hold. Whether religious or not, the moment of death can be a meaningful moment. As an atheist, death is the end of the story of an individual, making the memories all that more meaningful – the dead body, a poignant reminder of it all.

My wife relates the story of being able to visit her grandfather after he passed away. She was able to hold his hand and gaze upon his lined face, allowing the memories to wash over her, finalizing her appreciation of who he was in her life (as well as the lives of others) and physically taking the mantle of his goodness, carrying it out for the rest of her life.

I more than likely botched her reasoning, but that’s how I understood it, when she explained it to me.

When my grandmother died, years ago, I was four-and-a-half hours away, waiting for my bride to arrive back home from an East Coast road trip with her best friend. I was at home in Southwestern Minnesota in those days. She was going to arrive at 6:00 AM and the funeral for my grandmother was at 10:30 AM. She had driven through the night and was tired. I felt it was more important for her, pregnant, to get some rest. Even being a pallbearer, I skipped the funeral. My grandma was gone and, to me, that part of life was history. I moved on.

But I don’t have to put that on everyone else. So yes, I apologize.

Carry on.

 

When the Watchdogs Do the Cheating

No. This isn’t about the Panama Papers. It’s about a local couple, the woman being a Federal Tax Judge, cheating on their….taxes.

According to court documents, 60-year-old Diana Kroupa and her husband, 62-year-old Robert Fackler, defrauded the government by intentionally understating their taxable income by $1 million.

Wait. But, surely there must be a mistake! A tax judge is supposed to uphold the viability of the system, keeping us poor taxpayers honest, making sure we don’t cheat. In order to do so, they need to know all the loopholes. Ohhhhhhh……

According to court documents, the two fraudulently claimed personal expenses as business expenses. Those expenses included rent, utilities, Internet and cable service, garbage removal, household cleaning, remodeling services, household items, interior design fees, home repair and decorating, landscaping and plumbing repairs, as well as limousine and taxi fees, Pilates classes, spa and massage fees, jewelry and personal clothing, wine club fees and purchases at wineries, Chinese tutoring, music lessons, personal computers, family and graduation photos, Christmas cards, groceries, dry cleaning and laundry, and personal cellphone charges.

Expenses also included airfare, hotel and other expenses for vacations to Alaska, Australia, Bahamas, China, England, Greece, Hawaii, Mexico and Thailand, among other locations, according to the documents.

I get it now.

 

When You’re Dead, You’re Dead. Get Over it

Yes, I know I’m being callous here. I know I don’t understand the ramifications of my insensitivities. I know this family has every right to do with a body as they will, and my words have no ability to change that.

But I can’t help rolling my eyes.

I literally thought they burned his soul.

Really. It’s just his body. In fact, I bet you have thousands of photographs that you can look at. Photographs of your husband alive. Smiling. Crying. Yelling in white hot anger at the dog who just pooped on his new shoes. Laughing at something the grandkids did. Sure, you don’t get to touch the creepy dead skin, holding the hand of a lifeless pile of cells, preservation chemicals sloshing throughout the body cavities. But burned his soul? Seriously?

You didn’t get to say your last goodbye. You didn’t get to hold him again one last time. Our daughters didn’t get to, our families didn’t get to, and we were very close.

Yes you did. The last time he was alive. Saying goodbye to a dead guy is…I don’t know.

The family ended up burying Tony’s remains. His ashes were placed in a coffin, which is about a quarter mile from their family farm.

As you would have, his lifeless body. He’s in the ground now. It’s just taking up more space than it otherwise would have. Seriously, a gravestone is just a place to come pay homage to the dead, if you’re into that sort of thing. You don’t even need one grain of the ex-living to be buried there.

They want to be compensated for the mistake but said they don’t have a specific dollar figure to refer to at this point, and so far, no court dates have been set.

I can’t even. And they’ll get money too.

Hey Mayo and the funeral home: Do a better job next time. Don’t mix up the body. Apparently people care.

Update 4/5/2016 10:05 AM CST:

My bride read this and commented, proving I am a callous old codge. Her statement is actually really good:

“Yes you did. The last time he was alive. Saying goodbye to a dead guy is…I don’t know”

The last time they said goodbye was never supposed to be a permanent goodbye. Saying goodbye to the body is extremely healing because it allows you to no longer look to that body as what you have of that person but instead to the memories. When I said “goodbye” to Grandpa’s body in January it gave me a chance to memorize his face so that when I have memories of him I can picture his face smiling at me with his plaid flannel shirt on because that is the way I saw him last and I memorized that.

Saying goodbye to a dead guy can be extremely healing and helps the memories bring comfort for many.

I agree with both of us.

Bananas and Condoms

The bananas were rotting in the fruit basket.

The kids used to eat them like candy, especially when I was trying to get my blood pressure down a few years ago. The blood pressure is fine now, but now nobody eats bananas. I keep buying them, though, just to offer a science lesson on how long it takes the things to rot, depending on atmospheric pressure, presence of fruit flies, how long a light bulb is on in the room, and most importantly, how often the kids clean their rooms.

I do also make a killer loaf of banana bread, but lately, I haven’t the time.

Anyway, I was walking through the living room, my bride was on her phone, sitting in a chair, and my 12-year-old daughter was on the couch, just staring off into the distance. I reached into my back pocket and found a condom there. Pulling it out, I looked at Laura,

Know what this is!?

Yeah. That’s a ‘com-dom’.

Right. What’s it for?

To put on the boy’s penis when you’re having sex.

Good! Has your sex ed teacher demonstrated how to put it on?

Nope.

I left the room to get a banana, shoved it in my belt and threw my shirt over it, and walked back into the living room.

Laura looked at Mommy with a frightened look on her face,

Mommy! Is Daddy going to show us how he puts it on?!?!?

Felicity (8) heard the laughing and came bounding down the stairs.

What!!!?

So I pulled out the banana and demonstrated how to use the condom (on the banana), then quickly went through the reasons why it was important, even telling the girls the benefits of an IUD.

Then I went and made a lubricious loaf of banana bread.

We Replaced Our Saturn with a More Environmentally Conscious Vehicle, Etc.

VanIt takes E-85, has 15 seats for car-pooling, is white, requiring less AC usage in the hot summer months, and my kids have been using it as their bedroom, reducing our heating footprint in this most recent Minnesota cold snap.

 

 

 

 

ShoesAlso, I was going through photo memories and found this lovely one of The Freak (5) from last year, who dressed herself before we went out for steak. We took her proudly. I love that girl with most of my available heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UmbrellaAnother one of my daughters, Laura (12) was helping me design a new product line. We figured out the first prototype.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TonAnd here is one of my favorite religious -themed cartoons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HerFinally, I took my lovely bride (33) out to breakfast, just before we commenced with the grueling car shopping process. It was a wonderful day date. Spontaneous. She smelled damn good the whole time. And, as you can see, she mostly ignored me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UsBonus! Another #RedMyLips photo.