Saturday, October 17, 2009


I know very few people who actually play the harmonica.

I would rather lose a leg than one finger. But I would really rather lose neither.

I cannot, under any circumstances, imagine having my own reality show. Not that I'm not fascinating; I just think it's a bad idea.

It dismays me that "commentate" is apparently an accepted word in American English.

I cannot imagine any job that I would love more than writing for a living.

Princess is reaching that stage of her life in which she realizes that Mommy and Daddy can't do everything, and screaming about it won't help. Unfortunately, she tests this hypothesis repeatedly, for upwards of 30 minutes at a time, in the middle of Lowe's, continuing out to the car.

When you need an anvil, you can't find one.

When you have a headache, you can't imagine anything worse. Then you get the stomach flu. And you're still glad you don't have a headache. Then you get a headache, and you stay home from work, wasting a perfectly good sick day being sick.

Tyra Banks is remarkably self-centered.

If I hear one more person misuse "literally," I'm going to literally choke him or her to death with a copy of the dictionary. Literally.

While I hate the word "chillax," it has offered the alternative to "take a chill pill." I shall now be telling people to "take a chillaxative." I shall be so popular at parties!

They say chicken noodle soup is "Jewish Penicillin." When I'm sick, Chicken McNuggets, fries, and a Coke always makes me feel better. What kind of penicillin is that?

If a man walks down 42 roads, he may call himself a man. Not before.

I have discovered that I can make up very convincing "facts" about almost anything, and people tend to believe me, because they think I'm "smart." So be on the lookout for my blog post about our forgotten president, Hezekiah Moline von Shtupp, the only U.S. president elected, impeached, and assassinated on the same day.

I should never blog when I'm sick.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Traditional Columbus Day Feast: Photo Log

Monday, at the Rainforest Cafe in Galveston:

The trip:

Sven having fun with the camera

I'm not grumpy, why do you ask?

Daddy, I didn't get to say Cheese!

At the table:

Daddy, what are you going to have?


Taking Dexy to see the monkeys.

Look, Dexy: A butterfly!

I don't like that. Where's the food?

Let's dance, Daddy!


Columbus Day comes but once a year!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Matter of Religion

Since I already have taken tentative steps into political blogging with virtually no repercussions (unless you count a lack of eye contact and a newfound tendency of my friends to break into a sprint upon sighting me), today I will address the topic of religion.

Wait! It's going to be okay, I promise you, because my inspiration for today's blog, as with most of my great blogs, comes from a story I heard on NPR ("Making Everything Sound Like A Recipe Since 1968").

According to NPR, there is a schism occurring in what may be the world's most controversial belief system: atheism.

As most of you know, I am religious. This surprises some people. As a semi-liberal semi-intellectual, I should either be agnostic, atheist, or my favorite, "spiritual but not religious," worshipping God by sitting in a dewy meadow observing the dawn. Nope. I'm religious. Organized religious. At least three hours of meetings on Sundays, with assorted miscellaneous meetings during the week. But this comes from a deep personal belief in my religion, and though I can't deny it would be much easier for me to say, "I'm going to worship by going to the beach with my family," it wouldn't be my truth, so I have to live what I believe.

I think Atheists, for the most part, are the same. But, as in so many religions, the extreme factions are taking the headlines. Last month's Blasphemy Day (I know, I didn't get you anything either!) celebrations were largely concerned with a major schism within the ranks of the atheist movement: should atheists be accepting of those who are religious, or should they actively insult, condemn, and belittle those who believe in God?

Since I spent Blasphemy Day listening to my 3-year-old say a blessing on each individual Cheeto, I think you know my position on that.

The "New Atheism" takes the approach that religion and religious people should be "treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt," according to biologist and New Atheist Christopher Hitchens. From NPR: "If I said to a Protestant or Quaker or Muslim, 'Hey, at least I respect your belief,' I would be telling a lie," Hitchens says.

This approach is bound to backfire, say some. But others believe this is the way to spread their beliefs the most effectively: "Edgy is what young people like," PZ Myers (biologist and anti-religious blogger) says. "They want to cut through the nonsense right away and want to get to the point. They want to hear the story fast, they want it to be exciting, and they want it to be fun. And I'm sorry, the old school of atheism is really, really boring."

Hey, whatever it takes to get the butts in the seats, right?

But some of the "old school" are very concerned about what this hostility to religion will do to their movement, a movement that was originally about the freedom to believe whatever your conscience dictates. From NPR:

Paul Kurtz founded the Center for Inquiry three decades ago to offer a positive alternative to religion. He has built alliances with religious groups over issues such as climate change and opposing creationism in the public schools. Kurtz says he was ousted in a "palace coup" last year — and he worries the new atheists will set the movement back.

"I consider them atheist fundamentalists," he says. "They're anti-religious, and they're mean-spirited, unfortunately. Now, they're very good atheists and very dedicated people who do not believe in God. But you have this aggressive and militant phase of atheism, and that does more damage than good."

He hopes this new approach will fizzle.

"Merely to critically attack religious beliefs is not sufficient. It leaves a vacuum. What are you for? We know what you're against, but what do you want to defend?"

So, if I may summarize the New Atheism:

Hostile to opposing viewpoints

Completely convinced its viewpoint is the only correct one

Believes that anyone who does not share its beliefs is mentally defective/delusional

Claims to be motivated by spreading the truth to the next generation

Nope, that doesn't sound like religious fundamentalism to me! Oh, wait...

One of the things I sincerely love about my country (United States) is that we ostensibly have the freedom to worship, or not, in the manner we choose. That right in this country has not always been defended, but with the help of many generations of growth and acceptance and the ACLU, I think most of us do all right. So I want to say, Welcome to the party, New Atheists! Because you're already here.

(I promise that everything I talked about today, including Blasphemy Day, is absolutely real. These are all real quotes from this article.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day!

I have to say, I was skeptical when I first heard we were getting Columbus Day as a holiday this year.

That's one that I've never had before. Even in the days of yore, when I was in school, we didn't consider Columbus Day to be a "holiday." We did activities in school that had to do with Columbus, but that was it. No one dressed up like a boat, or claimed their neighbor's backyard, or anything else.

So we decided to do some things this weekend to truly commemorate Columbus Day in the spirit in which the holiday was intended.

Saturday: The Renaissance Festival.

Columbus discovered America during the Renaissance, right? So what better way to celebrate Columbus Day than with:

Sausage on a stick, or

Chicken on a stick, or

A bread bowl full of chili, just like they had on the Santa Maria!

If food doesn't do it for you, the Renaissance Festival also offers:


Pony rides, and

Face painting. I imagine Columbus felt the same thrill when he stepped off the boat, rode his pony to the carousel, and painted a bug on his face.

But, just like Columbus, we had our share of adversity.

Princess' fairy doll, purchased within 30 seconds of entering the fair, lost a leg after being dropped in the mud repeatedly "on accident."

Dexy, despite being very pleased with his purple dragon, developed a fever that came and went throughout the day.

Deb had to explain to Princess why those men walked around mostly naked.

But, there were bright spots. One of them was getting to introduce the kids to "Uncle" Drew, one of our dear friends. Drew and his wife actually got married at the Renaissance Festival several years ago. Sven and I played the music for their wedding. Drew still works at the Festival as an exotic magician.

Princess did us proud by saying the following things to Drew:

"Boys don't wear dresses, you know. Why are you wearing a dress?"
"Your socks don't match. And your yellows aren't the same."

But, she redeemed herself by being fascinated with his sleight-of-hand. She sat in a corner for several hours on Sunday afternoon, trying to make the alphabet flash card in her hand "disappear" the way Drew did.

We will be returning to the Festival later in the season, when I shall thoughtfully purchase several pieces of jewelry. Until then, I wish all of the weirdos well.

Next installment: our Columbus Day feast at the Rainforest Cafe. Truly, 'tis the season.