Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nearer my God to Thee…

The presence or lack therein of the Creator is a personal choice and everyone has their own thoughts on the subject. Some are zealous, some laissez Faire, some disabuse the notion of a God all together. And that is ok. Boyle, the chemist, took the position that there was no harm in going to church and worshipping God – if there was a God you did your part, if not there was no harm done. According to a show on the subject the human brain is hardwired for religion and belief in a Creator. “Through the Wormhole” had an episode on sciences search for the creator. Some of the scientists featured viewed God’s plan as a huge mathematical construct, and things are or happened because of the action of particles either theoretical or known.
It is as if God wants us to come to him and has left clues to find him. Some are red herrings, some lead to discoveries that bring us closer to meeting Him. Galileo, Einstein, and scientists of that ilk could be viewed as being prophets of a sort, as could be any of the physicists delving into the origins of the universe. For my part God is within each of us, whether in the form of some physical particle or force or just in the spiritual sense and binds us (and everything for that matter) together. One neurologist advances the theory that the right frontal lobe of the human brain develops feelings of anxiety when contemplating “the end.” To circumvent this anxiety it has developed the concept of God sop that there is in fact no end. While this might be calming to an individual is it fact is God just a construct of the mind to prevent us for jumping off the nearest cliff?

Science is great and has made huge strides in understanding the how, but not the “why.” And therein lays God. For instance, why the earth? Just luck of the draw? A lot of things had to come together in one place at one time to make it suitable for any kind of life. The cards of the universe are stacked against this development for the most part. SO then why did everything come together? Just chance? And now on to humans -- we are starting to understand the how, but why? We certainly don’t benefit the earth in any constructive way; nature could motor on nicely (and probably better) without us. This is where the faith that we were just meant to be comes in.

Religion may have first developed as a method for humans to fill in the blanks. Most people become uneasy if the why part of the equation remains blank. Because God wants it that way fills in that blank nicely. This also alludes back to that pesky temporal lobe, which needs to have a ready answer to the question of where we’re going or anxiety builds. So why are we, where are we headed, and is there some sort of central figure pulling the strings to make It happen? There is no answer to this, ergo it must be God.

I do not mean to seem flippant about God or religion in general, nor do I have any answers. Certainly religion has played an important part in establishing rules to live by and providing rewards for doing so and penalties for ignoring the rules. It is good for people to have amoral compass to prevent them from harming each other, so in that sense religion has made a great contribution to the lives of humans. And it is too tough to believe that all this is just some pointless exercise, some product of evolution with no set purpose. People without a purpose in their lives would be totally useless. Just hanging on to life in anticipation of the next version of the Iphone is a poor excuse for existence and all in store for us a hole in the ground to bitter to contemplate. For now all I can offer is that God wants it this way and so it is.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The thing with string

I believe the decline of society in general can be directly attributed tot he lack of string. Go ahead, try to find string in the local megamart. Used to be a whole shelf of nothing but string, now you might find some twine, but it isn't the same thing. I believe as the need for string decreased our economy and morals fell with it. Now instead of a ball of string at the check out there is only flash memory and ear-buds for the Ipod, allowing individuals to drop out and tune out. Not a good thing for communications and interpersonal relationships. Never had the problem whit string. Used to tie a piece of string around the finger to remember things, now there's an app for that -- the string worked better because now the individual has to remember to check the phone -- the string was always there.

Packages were done up with string, the Christmas goose was trussed up with the stuff, the check out lady at the grocery always asked "need any string today?" Now she asks if you need stamps or ice. What stamps and ice have to do with each other is beyond me, but neither of them is as practical as string. Sue, the high end shops sell "butcher's string" but want a couple dollars for what is essentially a 25 cent ball of string. Apparently string is only for the rich and famous now, but I doubt they appreciate that fact as they are all too busy eating oily fish ooze on toast points.

So here I sit string-less, a chicken to be trussed, and realization that short skirts, bare midriffs, and the thong can be directly attributed to a lack of string and believe me no one wants to see a 250 pound 50 year old woman with a bare midriff and a thong. There is something wholesome about string, no bling, no bells and whistles, it is just string. Try tying a package shut, pulling a loose tooth, or spinning a top with an Iphone! Can't be done, take my word for it. If we want to defeat terrorism, win the war on drugs and bring back moral turpitude it is a simple matter of bring back string. I long tp hear the check out girl ask if I need any string today...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Unwanted

One would think the phonebook would have gone out with fire call boxes and disco balls, but apparently they have managed to somehow hang on. Every couple of months I get a phone book from one of several telecom entities, the problem is what to do with it. I no longer need it to look up numbers, the pages are too small to use for starting charcoal, and since the invention of toilet paper, even that use is not an option.

The latest phone book is in English and Spanish, just in case I wake up one morning with the ability to speak Spanish. As with instructions in many languages the Spanish option just makes the book more confusing, a remarkable accomplishment seeing that it is just a phone book. It will go nicely with all the Spanish TV stations I get in my cable package though. Despite the attempt at reaching a new market, most folks have access to a computer or know the number of the person they are calling in the first place. Plus a cell phone addict isn’t going to schlep tow pounds of paper with them so they can make calls. Think texting while driving is bad? How about looking numbers up in a phone book while behind the wheel?

All that aside, the problem is what to do with the devil be damned collection. I suppose they make nice ballast for the garbage can and help keep it from tipping over during high winds and coyote forays, but beyond that they seem a patent waste of time, resources, and the effort expended bring them form the end of the driveway into the house. I did try just pitching it into my neighbor’s driveway, but they never pick anything up so eventually the book creeps back into my yard, as though it has a life of its own and wants to live with me. I didn’t even leave out a saucer of milk so it isn’t as if I have been encouraging the thing.

I do know they make lousy backstops for basement shooting range; a .22 caliber bullet passes right through five of them and still ricochets around the back room. While that is kind of exciting in its own way, it isn’t the result that was expected. Maybe they could be used instead of sand bags in case of a flood or to soak up oil. They do seem highly absorbent, but then there’s the problem of what to do with a big stack of wet oily phone books. They are bad enough when they are dry. Making a phone book sculpture in the front yard just brings down the wrath of the homeowners association (I thought it was very artsy, but then that is n the eye of the beholder I guess).

So now off to the garage top contemplate my stack o’ books and try to find a creative (and non-offensive) way to put them to good use. Or I could look up the number of some company that recycles phone books…

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Monsoons Come!!

Had our first shot across the bow with a small rain storm, using the term rain loosely. It was more the storm gods putting us on notice that Monsoon season is upon us here in AZ. Used to be we had to have three concurrent days with a dew point temperature of 55 degrees or greater before it was the official Monsoon season, but unfortunatly that was too much for the yokels, hillbillies, and banditos living out here. To make it easier for those out here with little or no forehead, the weather assholes changed it to 15 June, though they can start much earlier or later. They wanted to ease the doubt of the general public on the matter, even though Billy-Bob is going to drive around the barricades and get stuck in the wash whether you warn him or not. Hey, got to make it home in time for Ultimate Fighter and ol' Billy-Bob ain't gonna let a little water get in his way.

In any event, it will be nice to get a little rain and watch helicopters trying to pull the morons out of the flooded washes they just drove into.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

For Love of Food

My interest in food began long ago while as a child I made hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. Then it was on to Julia Child and the "Galloping Gourmet" AKA Graham Kerr. The interest the passion was there, but it took some time to finally make its debut. While in Korea I came across "The Philippine Cookbook" by Reynaldo G. Alejandro shortly after a three week stint in the Philippines. The food in the Philippines had caught my attention and I wanted to be able to recreate the delights upon my return home.

Back on US soil I announced I was cooking from now on and have never looked back. I am no chef and by most standards only a fair cook, but I love the thrill of the chase. I find peace immersing myself in the techniques, joy in discovering something new and relief when the dish actually turns out. While not catering to a five star crowd, it is gratifying that those I have cooked for have always been appreciative.

I started with Oriental style dishes, started haunting the local Chinese market, and own five different types of woks. Since the early days I have traveled more, seen more of the world and discovered the owner of barbecue right in my own back yard. I keep the backyard grill pretty busy.

My style is as haphazard as my life using a recipe the first time, use the palm of my hand to measure spices, and from then on tend to just wing it -- so far the Kitchen God has been watching out for me. I haven’t poisoned anyone nor set the house a blaze so I have that going for me, which is nice.

I always admired those who have a passion for what they do and had hoped that someday I would too, but failed to realize the passion was already there – wondering hope different foods came into use, who figured out which things were good to eat and which weren’t the differences and similarities between dishes of various countries, and trying to replicate the food in my own kitchen, sometimes more successfully than others. The kitchen has become my retreat, shared only with a couple of huskies and a hot stove. Tough to think of any where I’d rather be…

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Day after D-Day

Sixty-six years ago yesterday (56 Jun) British, US, ANZAC and French troops started the liberation of Europe. This one event has gone a long way in shaping our world today, so it was remarkable that none of the TV networks seemed to give any pause to reflect on this undertaking. Even the History channel just ran two shows regarding D-Day and the day after over and over.

The fact over 10000 allied participants were casualties and 2500 of those died to free Europe and stop the fascists in their tracks deserves a lot of attention, even in this time of cell phones and Ipads. Perhaps succeeding generations have become more and more distant, forgetting what an impact and what a huge sacrifice was mad eon 6 June. It is true is someone is just handed something they take it for granted so I suppose it is easy for people to have come to believe they are just entitled to their freedom, forget the Nazi atrocities even to the point of thinking the holocaust is some sort of hoax. This is untenable.

I will always be thankful that those soldiers stormed the beach. I am in awe of their achievement and often wonder if I would have had the guts to have faced the fierce fire coming form the German positions. Could I have lived through the hardships, the privation, as did those brave souls? I have my doubts.

To all those D-Day heroes still living, you have my undying thanks and admiration and a promise that I will not forget nor allow my children to forget the sacrifice you made to make the world a better place.