Which fairy do you follow?

Although I was raised in a Mother Goose household, I am born-again Grimm. I live my life according to the tenets codified by the Good Brothers, praise their names.

During a Grimm conclave, I met a woman I was interested in until I discovered she practices Lax-Grimm, which picks and chooses which Grimm beliefs to follow. I’ll have none of that. It’s Devout Grimm for me or nothing.

My best friend from childhood remained a follower of Mother Goose until he took drugs in college and read Revelations. I can’t even talk to him anymore.

My boss is from a family that has followed Aesop for ages. How can he have faith in greedy foxes but not in the Big Bad Wolf. What a fool he is.

When I’m feeling expansive, I consider that any fairy tale is better than none. I can’t imagine going through life without magic to comfort and guide you. Atheists scare me. How can they be good people without fables to guide them?

The Silence of 911

For days after 911, most air traffic was grounded. I was acutely aware of the resulting quiet — and very appreciative of it. I think we subject ourselves to stress in countless ways every day, including noise, particularly from air traffic. We’re fools, killing ourselves with indifference to our environment. That indifference is profitable to many, so go back to sleep. Perhaps a pill will help. There’s another to perk you up in the morning.

To Hell with Kim Davis

I think jail is a last resort as punishment for non-violent crimes. In Davis’ case, I would have sentenced her to hours of community service equal to the hours she worked but refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Each 8 hour work day would add 8 hours of community service for free, preferably some of it on a suicide hotline, all of it supervised by a probation officer.

Nevertheless, she was sentenced to jail for contempt of court. Days later, she was released without comment, as far as I know. We can be certain she is as full of contempt as ever, so what’s the plan? Let her hide in her office every day with the shades drawn?

Davis’ contempt is so great she has said that licenses issued by anyone but her are invalid – that was mean-spirited of her. I’ve heard only anemic contradiction of that. If I were part of a same-sex couple in Davis’ county, I’d ask for her to sign the license for full legitimacy. When Davis refuses, call the sheriff and add more public service hours.

The War on Christianity? Bullshit.

Once again, religion has so addled its followers’ brains that they cannot understand events unfolding around them. Once again, unscrupulous men use lies to rouse the rabble.

As you know, a clerk in Kentucky is in jail for failing to do her job. While that is an extreme treatment — firing or resignation would be preferable — the fact of the matter is that this woman won’t do her civic duty and she is in contempt of court. She is NOT a martyr, except to hypocrisy.

Now, Republican candidates, desperate to prove their own ignorance and insanity, aware that their base loves bigoted nonsense, have declared this as another example of “The War on Christianity.” BULLSHIT! This was an example of Christians’ War Against the Constitution. We are NOT a Christian nation. You are free to be a Christian, you are free to express your outrage at events. Don’t take a job you can’t perform. Quit a job you refuse to do.

I’m certain the world will be a much better place when all religions are equal to the other fairy tales: Interesting stories and metaphors we share but don’t take seriously. Sadly, I won’t live that long. I doubt I’ll live to see the Republican party return to sanity.

How many trees are enough?

It’s an unanswerable question. Science shudders at the notion of unanswerable questions. Mind you, I choose Science over Religion, but every human endeavor is fraught with error — we are flawed. So is Science.

What brings me back to wagging my middle finger at Science once again is the recent “survey” of the number of trees on Earth. How many trees are there on our planet? 3.04 trillion. BULLSHIT. We are so easily mislead by precision, mistaking it time and again for accuracy. Someone has taken an educated guess that he hopes stands scrutiny. Thus is Science. It’s the scrutiny that is vital and that requires a skeptical audience. So, don’t believe everything you read, no matter how many decimal places.

We know without a doubt that there are fewer trees than a century ago. We know that we are clear-cutting old forests at a furious pace. We also know that someone is going to take comfort in that guess of 3.04 trillion and relax a little, when we need to do more, not less.

I was a restaurant manager years ago …

[first published 08-23-11 and stirred to the surface by the Facebook memory churn…]

After college (UVa), I lived and worked in Germany for about 9 months (in einer Zimmerei in der naehe von Hamburg). When I returned, I decided I wanted to be a professional host, like the wonderful woman who ran Café Bretzl in Wein. Sigh. I had enjoyed many taverns and restaurants in my travels. It seemed like a potential career. (German Major lacked potential, though I didn’t care at the time. My brief epiphany that I should study semiotics passed quickly, as with linguistics – I lack the discipline for post-graduate work. As for being a poet, another option, that’s still my avocation.)

watch books from Dudley P's and the Japanese Steak HouseWhat I didn’t know at the time was that nobody really makes enough money in the restaurant business, except the owner, and not always the owner. The money seems good, but at every level, people in the restaurant business work very hard for ungrateful customers and indifferent management. You are an easily replaced cog in any restaurant.

Unaware of that, I applied for a job as an assistant manger at Dudley P’s Pizzeria & Pub on M Street, not far from NPR (at the time). The job of the assistant manager is to let the manager escape the restaurant at the worst hours, especially closing, opening – usually hours apart – and weekends. Moreover, an assistant manager must be able to do any job in the establishment at a moment’s notice, a fact that actually suited me. At times, I cooked, I tended bar, I washed dishes, and, most importantly, I waited tables. Everyone should wait on tables (and buss them) for the experience. We would all have much more respect for and kindness toward those who are good at it – you cannot imagine the challenges.

It wasn’t all bad. I liked working at night. I could eat pizza any time I wanted. I got to select the tape played over the sound system. I met some nice people, including a mentor named Tony. On the other hand, hanging around people all hours who drink and smoke takes a toll, especially since that’s what restaurant workers do after work. (Smoking in a restaurant was still legal and common.)

Dudley P’s was owned by a guy who also owned a more-successful franchise in Maryland. My theory was Dudley’s was a tax offset. At some point, I became disgusted by the district manager and I wrote a letter full of high-dudgeon, disgust, and forgotten accusations regarding that manager to the owner. Here, I like to mention that I had been fired from my first job over an incendiary letter regarding the incompetence and cruelty of a supervisor *and* I would be fired from a later job for the same reason. I was born to be a blogger (which pays no better than poetry, except for a few).

I was not meant, however, to manage people, which is the most lasting thing I learned that year. I expect everyone around me to do their jobs well on their own motivation. I’m neither inspiring nor threatening enough to lead.

Despite all this, I went on to be an assistant manger for the Japanese Steak House at two locations. This was a better fit for me if only for the large number of Asians employed, specifically Japanese, Thai, and Chinese. I like diversity, but I was born and formed in Hawai’i and I was drawn to the people I worked with like family (my family chuckles at this, but “like family” makes my feeling accessible to others). Talk about self-motivated hard-working people barely in need of managing. Yeah, I’m stereotyping, but this was my observation. No question, my co-workers were also gentle and kind to me. When I finally burned out on the hours and the commute, I quit before I could write a letter to my sometimes irksome boss. As a farewell, my colleagues took me out to dinner at a special Chinese restaurant. I was honored.

After a year in the restaurant business, I was ready to get back to working at nothing all day. Lucky for me, I found the first grocery in town that took credit cards (this was that long ago). It was a great summer.


[first posted Tue 08/18/09; resurrected six years later]

LuckyDog died a week ago today. Soon, it will have been a month ago, then a year [,then six]. One day, he will have been dead longer than he lived. So it is for each of us.

I’ve categorized Lucky’s blog entries under “The Atheist’s Pulpit.” I created that category years ago to collect entries pertaining to my thoughts about life and death and what, for other people, are religious experiences.

I do not believe there is or ever was a god. I know, you got that from “atheist,” but I say it more emphatically because I never hear anyone else say it so baldly. I used to call myself an agnostic and, then, an antagnostic (one who is irritated by the belief in god). However, the absurd overconfidence of people who believe in a micromanaging patriarch compels me to speak for myself.

More relevant to my thoughts over the past week: I believe death ends individuality. I don’t really care about the particulars of what happens to a once-living being’s molecules or the energy that animates it. What we call personality, identity, self, or soul, ends at death. Memories and photos aren’t the same.

Even people who reject the notion of a cartoonish heaven where everyone is miraculously reunited with everyone else usually take comfort in something beyond death. My mother expected to reappear as a cardinal or a butterfly, although she spoke sometimes of radiating out into space, like an old TV show. Most of my godless friends fill the void with Life or the Universe itself, which I find tempting, but one might as well worship the sun at that point. (I would be in the minority, worshipping the moon.)

So, I don’t believe in god(s), I don’t believe in heaven or hell (but I know where I’m going if I’m wrong), I don’t believe in reincarnation, an afterlife, or an immortal soul. Feel free to feel superior or scandalized, or to pray for me. By all means, rib me gently should we meet on the other side of Death. I’ll owe everyone a Coke. peace, mjh

PS: If I were going to believe in gods, I’d be a polytheist. It is easy to imagine countless petty, incompetent, jealous, and quarrelsome gawds looking for ways to trip us up.

PPS: I do appreciate a beautiful Buddhist image of the river of life cascading over a falls. A droplet of water appears for an instant – that is your life. In no time, that individual droplet returns to the All. Beautiful, but no comfort, if you like being yourself or want to see your dog again, someday.