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Showing posts from February 8, 2009

The Living Dead -- Writer's Poke #183

As my parents continue to grow older, I often wonder what it will be like to live without them. My assumption is that I will, in fact, outlive them, although stranger things have happened. We live a few hundred miles apart, and so each visit is important. They could live for years more, but I can measure their lives in the number of days that we'll actually be together physically.

Some of my friends have already experienced the loss of a mother or father, or both. What's even more amazing to me, though, is that some have cut off all ties with a living parent. In other words, their parents have became the living dead.

What will they feel when their parents actually die? Will they regret the years of life lost, or will they stand by their decision? To the best of my knowledge, none of my friends who have stopped talking to their parents were sexually abused, but all would claim a never-ending mental abuse.

One of the toughest transitions for parents is to recognize when a son or da…

The Old Man in the Sky -- Writer's Poke #182

Empty your mind of all thought and belief.

Do you believe in God?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not against the idea of God. In fact, I would side with Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan, who believed that we have no way of knowing whether God exists or not, but to make the leap of faith and live as though He does is highly illogical. In no other realm are people allowed to make such illogical leaps of faith. Rather than giving in and believing, why not withhold judgement and live a life of curious inquiry?

Other God critics, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens come to mind, seem to have more at stake in proving God's non-existence. Perhaps this is a natural knee-jerk reaction to a world that just overwhelming assumes that an Old Man in the Sky exists. To be neutral, then -- to be agnostic -- is not an option, because the voices of the believers are too loud.

Recently, someone tried to use the line on me that it doesn't matter if God exists or not; we should simply live as…

Virginity's Price -- Writer's Poke #181

How much is virginity worth?

Almost all of us probably gave it away for nothing, but one twenty-two year old Women's Studies graduate student decided to auction hers off to the highest bidder. Somewhat incredibly, the bidding has risen to 3.7 million dollars.

Are there really no more twenty-two year old virgins left in the world? The student admitted that she found the bidding war funny, as virginity isn't even valued anymore. Apparently it is, and the irony is that it took something like this stunt to prove it.

Explain the value of virginity.
What would you do for 3.7 million dollars?

"It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue." -- Voltaire

The Last Muffler -- Writer's Poke #180

I was one of those people who never took care of their car. Why bother? I thought. First, the repair would cost more than the 1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was worth. And second, I didn't have the time to sit around waiting for a mechanic to fix my car. I had to live, damn it.

When the muffler finally fell off, though, I knew that I would have to buy a new one. So I took it to Midas, and five hours later, I had a new $400 muffler on my less than $400 car. And I thought to myself, "Great. That's the last muffler I will ever need to buy."

Yes, I was naive, but then again, in a literal sense, that was the truth. Midas guarantees all mufflers for the life of the car, and if I had decided to drive that car until the rust had totally disintegrated it down to the tires, maybe I wouldn't have ever had to buy another muffler.

The real point is, though, that no matter how many times you go to the mechanic, the doctor, the dentist, the grocery store, the mall, the post office, the …

Baby Calendar -- Writer's Poke #179

This may not be a new idea, but it's a new experience that I'm now living with.

Everyone knows that I'm a father, and it's a great conversation starter. "How old is Octavia now?" they might ask. And I tell them, following the baby protocol by giving her age in months.

What I've discovered is that Octavia is my walking, breathing calendar. My wife and I have been together for ten years, for example, but the passage of married time isn't that noticeable. On the other hand, I've been with Octavia from the very beginning. And even "before" the beginning, for that matter.

When she turned 15 months old, it struck me. Not only is she 15 months old, but I'm 15 months older than I was when she was born! Maybe that's not an earth-shaking realization, but she will always be my age-marker, and as she grows older, I will see in her my own aging.

How do you feel about aging? What reminds you that you're growing older?

"Thirty-five is a ver…

Making the Jehovah's Witness Cry Uncle -- Writer's Poke #178

Every week he would come over for an hour, and we would work through one of the Watchtower publications. We did this my entire senior year in high school.

These sessions were interesting to me, but I was never converted.

In a Watchtower publication, you read through an "argument" that's always heavily documented with Bible verses. Then at the end of the article, you're asked to review questions that direct you back to the verses you've read, or to points made in the article's argument.

I found this frustrating, as there was no incentive to think outside of scripture, or beyond what the article said. For example, one article talked about the idea of the Watchmaker. I didn't know that this metaphor had actually been around for 200 years. And unfortunately at that time I didn't know that Richard Dawkins had recently written an entire book refuting the idea. All I knew was that according to the article, I was supposed to see the logic that humans must have a…

25 Things about Me -- Writer's Poke #177

As I'm writing this, a virus is spreading across Facebook. It's called "25 Things about Me." The idea is to brainstorm a list of 25 things about yourself, and then post it for your friends to read. When you post it, you "tag" 25 of your friends, asking them to post 25 things about themselves. And so on.

And most people, if they're bored and have nothing better to do, are pretty considerate about complying with the request. If you care about the people doing the posting, then the lists can be somewhat revealing, and at least mildly interesting.

If nothing else, the lists show you which of your friends are creative, and which ones are willing to reveal real secrets.

What 25 things did I post about myself? To find out, you'll just have to join my friends list.

Try this activity yourself. Brainstorm a list of 25 things about yourself. Did any of the items surprise you? Are there any items on this list that you wouldn't want people to know?

"Only th…